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Archiwum dla kategorii ‘2015 Releases’

Where is Emma Butler’S Life Plan? by Julia Wilmot + Giveaway

08 lip

A new day, a new Blog Tour, this time for a book that – even though you can say it’s women’s fiction – is also totally different, as it mixes elements that usually don’t appear in chick lit, which only made the reading much more interesting and the book itself really refreshing and different to what I am reading on a daily basis. You can read my review of „Where is Emma Butler’S Life Plan?” and ALSO enter a giveaway to win a paperback copy of this book – and the giveaway ends soon, so hurry up!

 

Where is Emma Butler’s Life Plan?

by Julia Wilmot

 

 

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Publishing Date: 16th December 2015

Source:  Copy provided for the blog tour purposes.

Number of pages: 251

Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Emma Butler doesn’t know it but she is about to get bit more angelic help than she was banking on. Someone has messed up, or have they? It appears that Emma is about to be ‘recalled’ to heaven but has completed none of the tasks she had set herself for this life time. They must be completed before she is recalled and time is running out. Arch Angel Gregory decides to take over. He will be her Guardian Angel to ensure it all gets done. There’s a lot to do and a very short time to do it in. Gregory is determined that it will all be completed by hook or by crook. But where does that leave free will and what about Jack who has been chosen to be Emma’s love interest? How will this impact him? Jack and Emma have no idea what is going on, but it’s not going to be plain sailing.

Rating: 3/5

 

So, when signing for this blog tour I actually didn’t know what I’m getting into. Sure, I’ve read a synopsis but before I started reading the book I kind of forgotten it and my first thoughts were what am I reading??? Yes, I’ll be honest with you, the first two, three chapters were somehow difficult for me to get into and I was so short from putting the book away, and it was only the fact that I am reading it for a blog tour that kept me reading. Archangels, angels, GOD, and then add to this many rules and life plans and I was truly confused and it took me some time to decipher who is who and why and what’s actually happening. But – I kept reading and after some time I got used to the very descriptive form of narration and to the story itself. And let’s be honest – on the other hand, the plot of „Where is Emma Butler’s Life Plan?” was really original and fresh and it for sure makes the book standing out of the many other novels, so similar to each other.

The story introduces us to Emma Butler – single, young, attractive, intelligent and loving her job. She’s happy with her life but she’s also unaware that somewhere above her, in the heavenly regions, there is a life plan written for her, just like for any other human on the planet Earth. Moreover, she has absolutely no idea that an error occurred about her life plan and that she has only a week of life left. But, as it was discovered only now by the Archangel Gregory, he and other angels start to work overtime, manipulating and changing, only that Emma can complete her life plan before her very quickly approaching recall date.
Of course Emma has no idea about it, so it is a kind of surprise for her when suddenly she finds that her life is turning upside down. For example she’s supposed to lost her job and it happens, though Emma has no idea what and why it happened. She’s also supposed to fall in love but to fall in love you need a second person, right? So, the smart angels found this person and here is when we are introduced to Jack, owner of the health food shop. Their first meeting was not the most optimal one so the angels rush (of course. Of course!) to plot a plan that includes fire at Emma’s flat or random meetings until eventually the attraction is there.
As well as Emma and Jack, the angels were interesting characters, though I had a feeling that they were lost somehow between the narration and the long, long, very long descriptions and internal monologues, and I also felt that it’s just impossible to get to know them totally and, in consequence, I’ve never warmed to them completely.

The book had its moments, really, when it had me giggling and I that the author tackled the matter of death and afterlife with a lot of subtle and intelligent humour and now I’m seeing that when I’m alone about doing something stupid I am looking around, searching for any sign of my very own guardian angel – but what bothered me was the fact that there wasn’t any female angel and I was asking myself, why? Why couldn’t a woman be a guardian angel and there were only Edmund, Tobias or Gregory and not Anna, Mary or Elizabeth? However I liked how the author described the angels, so very humanly and now, when angels are mentioned, I can’t help but thinking about them running around in a panic, flapping their wings, squabbling with each other and playing little games against each other, just like people.

I was incredibly curious how the author is going to solve the mix – up as – to be honest – I didn’t want to see Emma die. During this race against time there were many ups and downs together with twists and turns and altogether, it was a sweet, not demanding story with some important messages, but also such one that you can take with a pinch of salt. The book mixes humour and more serious issues with spirituality, it’s light – hearted but with a deeper message. It was for sure a different read, interesting read, and it is really giving me shivers that maybe, probably, there is also a life plan for me, somewhere. It is a little crazy, a little too far – fetched, sometimes too predictable and sometimes you’ll be looking at the words with disbelief, but altogether it was an enjoyable, funny novel. I had some issues with the writing style itself, as I’ve already mentioned it was very descriptive and more on the heavy side and for me it didn’t read as easy and effortlessly as I like, but it’s just me and my problem, so there.

 

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A Night In with Audrey Hepburn by Lucy Holliday / Book Review

24 lut

A Night In with Audrey Hepburn

by Lucy Holliday

 

 

Publisher: Harper

Publishing Date: 21st May 2015

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Series: Libby Lomax #1

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 Synopsis:

Actress Libby Lomax has retreated into the world of classic movies, where the immortal lives of her favourite screen goddesses seem to offer so much more in the romance department than her own life.

After a terrible day on set where she embarrasses herself in front of the entire cast and worst of all, it’s sexy bad-boy star, Dillon O’Hara, she plonks herself down on her battered couch to watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the trillionth time.

Suddenly, Libby is astonished to find screen icon Audrey Hepburn, complete with little black dress, trademark sunglasses and vintage cigarette holder, sitting beside her and proffering advice.
Has Libby got what it takes to turn her life from a Turkey to a Blockbuster? Perhaps with a little bit of Audrey Hepburn magic, she might just pull it off…

A night in with Audrey Hepburn is the first in a series of three books following the life and loves of Libby Lomax as she blossoms from Z-lister to A-lister and all of the stages in between with a little bit of help from some very special friends.

Rating: 4/5

 

Oh guys, it’s been a while since I’ve read such a light – hearted, funny book! It was just what the doctor ordered and it brought me out from the reading slump and helped a little to cheer me up. I am probably reading too many books, and lately they must be really special, they must have this „something”, to keep my interest – and „A Night In with Audrey Hepburn” was just like this, just what I needed.

So the book. Yes, I must admit, it started a little slow for my liking, but quickly it gathered pace. I must also admit, and as you already know it, I am not the biggest fan of cinema, no matter if it’s the old classics or something modern – I’d rather read books :) But I can understand the whole fascination with those beautiful, exceptional old Hollywood actresses, and in this case, with Audrey Hepburn.

In short, Libby’s life looks disastrous. She has a family that doesn’t support her, mother and sister interested only in their own careers, and a father that isn’t interested in her at all. She has (or doesn’t have, it depends!) a job that she hates. She’s just moved into a flat that she thought is much bigger and has a bathroom. But does Libby wallow in self – pity? Oh no, and this is what I so adored in her. She is incredibly prone to accident and if something is supposed to happen, then you can be sure it’s going to happen to Libby. We were witnesses to plenty of very embarrassing situations with Libby in the centre.
Whenever Libby’s mother or sister entered the scenes I wanted to bang their heads together – it is amazing how many negative feelings they brought out in me. First Libby’s mum, who not only forced Libby to pursue career as an actress, but who also treated her like a servant. And those were the moments that I also wanted to shake Libby – she was too nice, too submissive and she wasn’t able to stand for herself up against those two selfish women. I mean, I would never speak with my sister if she treated me like Cass treated Libby in the club. I think I would kill her and then stop speaking with her. But Libby… No, Libby was ready to run errands for her after she treated her this way. A little too far – fetched for my liking, though I can imagine it’s possible! But I just wanted Libby to grow a back – bone and to tell Cass some words of wisdom. Libby was just what you can call a dogsbody for her family.
But Libby has also friends! She’s not alone in this world, oh no, and those friends are Olly and his sister that she got to know years ago, during one of the castings. I loved seeing that this developed in such a strong friendship, and Olly, you know, Olly was brilliant. And I can see things that Libby doesn’t see, so there (can’t wait for the next part to see if I’m right. Or not. I do hope that I’m right)! Sometimes Olly seemed to be a little childish, as he was jumping to the wrong conclusion, and was very easy to offend, but altogether I have a feeling there is so much more to him – he seemed a little lost in the world but it was charming.
We have also Bogdan, and Bogdan, Son of Bogdan among the characters, and they were hilarious, and believe me, no matter if those were main or backgrounds characters they were all so expressive, larger than life people with large personalities, and I didn’t have a problem to connect with them, which made the reading even more easier and nicer.
There is also this big old sofa that turns out to be one of the main characters in this novel. It almost doesn’t past in the flat, and it’s seen better days, as it’s now smelly and lost the colour, but soon Libby is going to discover some secret connected with this old, battered Chesterfield.

You can say, seeing Audrey Hepburn??? What??? THIS Audrey Hepburn, giving our Libby advice and learning how to work coffee machine and getting to know internet? Just like that, without any reason? Yes, I am also sceptical, but believe me, this time it worked incredibly well!

What is great is the fact that the book is the first in the series, and „A Night In with Marilyn Monroe” is already waiting for me! This was a great, enjoyable novel, a light read with many funny scenes, such as the ones including the alien suit or the incident in the spa, or Libby being sure that she has the terminal split personality disorder. It is written in a very nice, easy to follow writing style, brilliantly capturing the funny, fluffy atmosphere. And even this unusual storyline, with Audrey appearing out of nowhere, worked wonders and I bought it completely. Looking forward to more from Lucy Holliday.

 
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Napisane w kategorii 2015 Releases, Rating 4/5

 

Christmas Ever After by Sarah Morgan / Book Review

08 sty

Christmas Ever After by Sarah Morgan

 

 

Publisher: MIRA

Publishing Date: 22nd October 2015

Series: Puffin Island #3

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 Synopsis:

Skylar Tempest has never understood Alec Hunter’s appeal. So what if he’s a world-renowned historian? He’s also cynical, aloof and determined to think the worst of her. So when a twist of fate finds her spending the lead-up to Christmas with Alec and his family, she’s not expecting the season to be either merry or bright.

Alec has learned the hard way not to trust beautiful women—and Skylar is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. But as he watches her throw herself into his family’s festive chaos, Alec realises there is far more to this blonde bombshell than meets the eye.

With Christmas around the corner, Alec and Skylar return to Puffin Island, a tentative bond forged between them. Neither intends to fall in love but as the nights become darker, and the fire between them grows hotter, could this be the chance for Alec and Skylar to find their own happy ending?

Rating: 4/5

 

Even though Sarah Morgan has written plenty of books, Christmas in the Snow is only my second read by this author, though even with only two books under my belt I can see where this love that so many readers feel for her is coming from. Personally, I loved Maybe this Christmas that I read last year, and after hearing only lovely things about the newest release, I couldn’t wait to dive into my copy.
I knew that Christmas Ever After is the third book in the Puffin Island series and having not read the previous books I was really afraid to start this one – I was scared that perhaps I should read them in the right order. But after being assured that I can read this novel without reading the previous two, I more then happily obliged. And that’s true – despite the fact that there is a group of friends who know each other really well, who share some history, and who are connected through Puffin Island, Christmas Ever After can be easily read as a stand – alone book. Nevertheless, I will be trying to squeeze reading the earlier books somewhere between all my review copies, as Skylar and Alec’s background sounds just brilliant, and I’d love to see their interactions from earlier.

This book is fast – paced and full to brims with action – I don’t want to tell more to spoil the reading for you, but there was not a single moment flat, even with those dragging on a little passages, there was all the time something happening. The author takes us on a journey from snowy London, to the British countryside, to Puffin Island, and being in all those places with the characters felt just great. One of the best things in this book is the relationship between Sky and Alec – for me, who didn’t read the previous books, it was obvious they have a history, and that it is a very turbulent history. To say they don’t like each other would be an understatement – but the fate was throwing them together again and again, and the tension between them, and then sparks were absolutely brilliantly captured, felt so incredibly realistic and the descriptions of their emotions just touched at my heartstrings. Seeing them growing together was one of the highlights, as it was not so obvious they’ll grow together at all. Ha! And I really liked their characters. Yes, the situation with Sky’s parents and the way she let them tell her how to lead her life was one of the weakest links for me, but she turned out to be a clever woman, and her ripostes were to die for. She was so talented, I loved her ideas and the jewellery she made, and it pained me to see how self – depreciating she is, how she holds back because of her parents and controlling boyfriend. Also, I was not sure why she doesn’t like Alec so much, Alec – who, apart of being a little bitter and cynical (and he had his reasons!), was a great person, inside and outside.

As I have already mentioned, the subplot with Skylar’s parents and Richard didn’t work so much for me. I mean, no matter who the parents are, we live in 21st century, right? The way Sky’s relationship with Richard was „organized” just didn’t sit with me, it was much too far – fetched for my liking, much too impossible and somehow, it just didn’t fit Skylar and her personality. It took her really long to realise that the expectations of her family (the way she called her father „Judge” or when she reminded how they were forced to „Object” at the table just gave me shivers) and her own expectations don’t have anything in common, that she must live her life according to her own rules, but when it happened, I felt really proud of her. The difference between Sky and Alec’s families was like day and night and I fell in love with his family as quickly as Sky did – they were so incredibly warm and open, and I adored the way the were. They were the whole package, the full service, as they came not only with two labradors, but with mulled wine, mince pies, noisy younger sister and an overwhelming feeling of being welcome, and I just loved it, because they were so much like my own family.

I definitely found the part of the book taking place in London and at Alec’s parents’ house much more appealing, much more quicker, and much more funnier than when they moved back to Puffin Island – I was just so drown in Alec and Sky’s story that all the mentions of their friends, their problems just made me feel I am being pulled away from my favourite characters. Also, this was the part that dragged on too much for me, when the two were working on if the relationship can work or not, it was like watching too long tennis play, and it made me a little frustrated, this never – ending will they/won’t they, can they/can’t they, all the time comparing Sky to Alec’s ex – wife – there were too much repetitions, the scenes were being mulled over and over again, and as much as I like Sarah Morgan’s beautiful writing style, I just couldn’t stop rolling my eyes and hurrying to new information, new scene.
I also couldn’t help the feeling that Skylar’s hair were the separate character in the book, or at least that they were mentioned almost every second page – they were always in her way, they were flying in the wind, they were always fanning out on the pillow and they were the central point everywhere she put her head to.

But Sarah Morgan’s writing style is exceptional. It’s full of warmth and feeling, and her descriptions are so very vivid, bringing everything she writes about to life. It was a great, warm, light – hearted story, funny, flirty and romantic, a great read, and not only for Christmas. Even though it is a tad predictable, I didn’t reach for this book because of its unpredictability – no, I wanted to read it because I was sure it’s going to be a story that will cheer me up – and I was right. This book has also this what I adore in my novels – that under all this brilliant humour, there are also some more serious, darker issues hidden, and the author has balanced them in a great way. Add to this wonderful, snowy settings, the possibility of being snowed – in for Christmas, strong main characters and spectacular love scenes, and you’ve found your perfect read. Recommended!

 
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Napisane w kategorii 2015 Releases, Rating 4/5

 

Christmas on Primrose Hill by Karen Swan / Book Review

05 sty

Christmas on Primrose Hill by Karen Swan

 

 

Publisher: Pan

Publishing Date: 5th November 2015

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 Synopsis:

Christmas on Primrose Hill is a romantic Christmas tale from the author of Christmas at Tiffany’s, Karen Swan.

On Primrose Hill . . .

Twinkling lights brighten London’s Primrose Hill as Christmas nears – but for Nettie Watson, it’s not parties and presents that she wants.

Promises are made

For Nettie, Christmas only serves as a stark reminder of the life she used to have . . . One day she made a promise to never leave home, and so far she’s stayed true to her word.

Promises are broken

Under the glaring spotlight of the world’s media, Nettie is unexpectedly caught up in a 21st century storm . . . Her exploits have made her a global name and attracted the attention of one of the world’s most eligible men – famous front man, Jamie Westlake. But now she has his attention, does she want to keep it?

Rating: 4/5

 

As there couldn’t be Christmas without Karen Swan’s book – I personally can’t think about my Christmas TBR without Karen’s new novel – here we can enjoy her newest release, Christmas on Primrose Hill. I love Karen’s books – she has incredible way with words and she has this exceptional talent to make you feel like a part of the characters’ world – and it was the same with this tale. Lately books featuring our social media’s world are popping out one after another, but I think it’s just unavoidable, and when the books are so up – to – date and so greatly written as Christmas on Primrose Hill, the better, and as soon as I started reading it, I was hooked – and never expected anything else, to be honest.

This was a very modern story where some of the current trending hashtags were playing a big part, what with a Blue Bunny Girl having to copy them – and this is a little minus point from me, because I thought Karen could think about something totally new and exceptional, right? Nevertheless, it was really up – to – date, with the campaign going viral quicker than we can say „hashtag”. It just perfectly captured how, in fact, the modern technology controls our life, but what I liked is that Karen Swan has decided to use this internet obsession for good reasons.

Karen Swan has again gave us what we are looking for in her books, first and foremost brilliant characters. I can’t remember her book where I wouldn’t like the main heroine, and this time I also fell for Nettie mightily. Then we have Jamie, the impossible happening possible. I loved Nettie and Jamie’s story, they were so genuine in all that they did or said, and what I liked most was that the relationship was not the easiest one, not the obvious one. – there was never a certainty to how it’s going to end. The characters have, of course, quirks and they make mistakes, they jump to conclusions and complicate their own lives – just like we normally do, and this is what make me like them more.
I truly liked Nettie, she was so normal and so believable and really, I immediately warmed to her and there was something in her that just drew me to her. It was brilliant to go on this trip with her and see how her alter – ego Blue Bunny Girl amasses so much interest in internet, and how she desperately tried to keep the interest from her doorstep and focus on the campaign. Because there is also a secret to Nettie, a secret that turned out to be really sad and heart – breaking… I really admire the way the author tackled this problem, I could feel all Nettie’s emotions and her pain, but also her anger and confusion and living in uncertainty. She had a great relationship with her father, and I loved the scenes with both of them, they were funny but also touching.
As for Jamie, hmmm… Oh well, he was also brilliant, and in my opinion his personality was greatly described. I mean, he was a pop – star, right? And as much as he was also a normal guy, he could behave like a pop – star as well, which is IMO great and made him even more believable in my eyes. No matter what Nettie believed in or what she thought, there was a damn great chemistry between them, and the way the author described this relationship was believable and, what’s more important, possible to happen!

It’s truly a great escape, this novel, and the twisty storyline will keep you hooked. There are many layers to this book and it kept me on my toes, I couldn’t wait to see what’s expecting me when I’ll turn the page. I loved the setting of this story, the very modern London, with all its Christmas decorations and trendy places to be and see.

And as usual in Karen’s novels, under the surface, under all this lightness and humour, she’s plotted some very serious messages there. We can see what happens when the social media craziness goes wrong, how – even when you are the most normal person in the world – when the media got a wind of something that might be juicy in their opinion, there is not a hiding place for you. The author also emphasizes men’s health this time, and I really liked the way she has weaved it into this story. There is also the case of Nettie’s mother, which adds a lot of seriousness to the story – but all those things only make the reading more realistic and more likeable for me.

Although, I must say this, I had a feeling that the book is incredibly dragging along. It was as if the author wanted to fill in the pages with words – and as much as I liked those words, I couldn’t help thinking that it’s just going round in circles and takes us away from the real plot, from this what’s important. You know me – the longer the book the better for me, but in this case it could be much shorter and not lose on the quality, on the contrary, it would be much more gripping in my opinion. But I adored this story. It is such a typical Karen Swan’s tale, with outstanding characters, full of twists and turns. There was a great romance in there (which girl hasn’t dreamed of something like this happening to her???) and enticing, complex storyline. I really liked this book and can’t wait for more from Karen Swan!

 
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Napisane w kategorii 2015 Releases, Rating 4/5

 

Top Ten Books of 2015

30 gru

So guys, here we are, at the end of the year – can’t believe it, to be honest. The older I am, the quicker the time passes by. Nevertheless, what a year it was, with its ups and downs, but let’s concentrate on the books. I read 211 books in 2015, most of them I rated with 5 stars, because… well, because they were absolutely brilliant novels! I discovered new authors to me, fell more in love with „old” authors, was part of many wonderful Blog Tours, interviewed many great people, was honoured to post many fantastic Guest Posts… And today I am going to tell you about my top reads in 2015 – and believe me, it was a very tough choice! The books haven’t been put into order – it would be impossible!

 

I Hope You Dance by Beth Moran – a book that took my breath away. A bitter – sweet, true to life story exploring family life – fantastic!

 

My Everything by Katie Marsh – one of the best debut novels I have EVER read – so very maturely written cracker of a book about journey through life, about developing , about getting to know each other again, about following your dreams, compromises and backing down in the name of love.

 

The Silent Hours by Cesca Major – another incredible debut. After reading this book I couldn’t settle for another novel for a long time, as it left me with a major bookish hangover. This rare gem of a book that you are going to lose yourself in and forget about everything that’s surrounding you. It’s going to leave a large impact on you and your feelings.

 

The Chateau on the Lake by Charlotte Betts – I love good historical fiction, and this book is for sure a VERY good historical fiction. It’s a perfect mix of history, romance and drama. The writing style is hooking, realistic and so very vivid and the story was, in fact, unputdownable. I’d recommend it to all, no matter if you like historical fiction or not, because it’s one helluva novel!

 

Amy Snow by Tracy Rees – this book was one of the biggest surprises this year, I really haven’t expected it to be SO good! A brilliant, compelling story that takes us on a journey through early Victorian England and gives us a bunch of strong female characters, some male characters that look so weak in comparison to our girls, but also some that are really worth to make acquaintance with, and of course give us a look at the society, with all its stereotypes, as well as intriguing mystery.

 

The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson – a year without Lucy’s book is a lost year. I can’t imagine not having Lucy in my life and all her novels were rated by me with 5 stars. „The Day We Disappeared” is an incredible story of secrets, friends, family and honesty. I can only say, drop everything you do and go and buy this book – and you don’t have to thank me for recommendation this time.

 

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor – it was my first book by Hazel Gaynor and it left me speechless. It was a wonderful, beautifully written novel that is going to stay with you for a very long time, a book that comes upon once in a while and a book that you don’t want to leave, to depart with.

 

Ivy Lane by Cathy Bramley – though I think I should put here all books by Cathy Bramley, as they all deserve to be mentioned! There is everything you could wish for in a book, humour, sadness, love, friendship, hope, together with fantastic writing and brilliant characters. And who knows, maybe you’re going to discover that you do have green fingers after reading the book? Highly recommended, this book for sure is going to lift your mood up and it could be a perfect escape for some time! I have read it twice already!

 

The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester – another fantastic debut this year, I couldn’t stop thinking about this book for a long time! There was everything that I could wish for in a book: brilliantly created atmosphere, fantastic times, vivid characters, mystery, drama but also a lot of dark and sharp humour. Full of twist and turns, surprises and gasps from me.

 

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin – last but not least, and I think this book has the biggest impact on me, and if I were forced to choose my absolute winner I guess this would be THE ONE.  Be prepared that when you start reading the book, you won’t be able to put it down. I have found myself reading it and reading, thinking only one more page. You know what’s going to happen, you know there is no hope, but nevertheless, you keep reading because you just want to know. After I finished this book I couldn’t move for some time, and it’s good that I was home alone, that nobody’s seen the tears pouring down my face. I knew how it’s going to end, but nevertheless, it didn’t make it easier for me. But it was without a doubt one of the most stunning, moving, beautiful books that I have come across.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Mince Pie Mix – Up by Jennifer Joyce / eBook Review

24 gru

The Mince Pie Mix – Up by Jennifer Joyce

 

 

Publisher: Carina

Publishing Date: 6th November 2015

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

 Synopsis:

‘I wish I could live your life. I’d happily swap lives with you.’

’Tis the season to be jolly but for Calvin and Judy the usual festive bickering has already begun! Judy’s convinced that her husband has it easy – no glittery wrapping paper, no playground gossip and absolutely no Christmas baking.

Calvin wishes he could trade in his obnoxious boss and dull nine-to-five job to spend more time kicking back with his kids – how hard can Judy’s life really be?

But after a magical mince pie mix-up, one thing’s for certain – by Christmas Day, life for Judy and Calvin will never be the same again. Perhaps the grass isn’t always greener after all…

Rating: 5/5

 

The Mince Pie Mix – Up is my first book by Jennifer Joyce, even though I have all of her other books on my kindle, and I have heard such good things about her writing – it seems that she steadily and surely makes her way up in the women’s literature, which, after reading her newest release, doesn’t surprise me at all!
The premise to this book sounds brilliant – I am a big fan of almost all the films where people were body swapping – so I thought what can go wrong with this story? And I was right – nothing! There is not only body – but also genre swapping, tons of embarrassing situations but most of all, lessons learnt not to take the other halves for granted!

The characters in The Mince Pie Mix – Up are to die for. Really. They are brilliant, no matter if in their own body, or not, as well as all the other characters. They were so relatable to, and their problems were just like reading about my own problems, and I truly could empathise with either Judy or Calvin. They were all just so brilliantly written and the dialogues were fantastic. I also loved how the author managed to prove that even „the little baking job” on the side can be very, very time consuming, and how exhausting is doing the everyday errands or your normal school run. I was truly impressed with Calvin and his ability to so quickly learn to bake, do the school run, react to some of the yummy – mummies (high – five, Calvin!), and make Nativity costumes and this all with full make – up and on high – heels. On the other side we had Judy and her boss from hell, learning to play football with the lads and coming to terms with them taking a piss out of her when she ordered red wine instead of a pint. The comments made by children were so spot on, they were both great.

At the beginning, just after the body swap, I was a little confused – who is who and who is really Judy and Calvin, but soon I worked out how to differentiate real Judy from Calvin – Judy and vice – versa. The writing was flowing, it was light – hearted and comforting, and the author has done a brilliant job with transporting me into the world of the characters – I really felt a part of their lives! What was also adoring, is the fact that under the whole fun there was a really heart – warming story of the Neils’ family, a story with a message or two and all characters learning their lessons, but in a very easy, not too forced way. Also, the way the family was described, it’s just rang the bell, and I think many of us could relate to Judy, juggling household, her job as a waitress, and just being a good soul, helping whenever and wherever she could, but also with Calvin, who was the breadwinner and after long hours at work and commute he was expecting to find everything peaceful at home and only wanted to sit down and read his magazine – it was really brilliantly described, and in fact, even though I was Team Judy, I could fell for poor Calvin as well. Especially after the body swap, when I’ve seen his life from Judy’s perspective. So yes, I learnt to appreciate my husband, but I’d also expect him to learn to appreciate my work :)

But. Yes, this must be the ovaries’ solidarity. No matter what, and I appreciate the hard work of Calvin, I think that Judy had much, much more on her plate. But I also learnt not to take my husband for granted, really, and appreciate him a little more :) Of course I have the hardest life, of course! For example today I went to two doctors (one for me, one with the little one), cleaned the car inside (was long overdue!), cleaned the kitchen (which was stupid of me, as we’ll be cooking for Christmas again), answered million questions asked by the little one, played with the dog, and it’s only afternoon, while my husband is at work and after work he is going to the Christmas market with his mates. So there. My point exactly.

And you know what? This book truly deserves those big, fat 5 stars, as it was one of the funniest, loveliest reads this year, also full of festive spirit and touching moments – just what the doctor ordered! Sure, the whole swapping bodies and fairy thing was verrry far – fetched, but so what? In this case, it didn’t bother me at all, as the book must have been read with a pinch of salt. This was an incredibly feel – good story that I was so happy to be able to pick up again and again and didn’t want to end. I have laughed my way through the whole novel, it was sharp – observed and there were moments that I wanted to pat myself on my forehead, roll my eyes and say: EXACTLY. This was a lovely festive read with thousands of embarrassing and hilarious situations, and I loved the look at the other sex, at seeing how it is to be in their skin. The characters were to die for, the writing so warm and so up – to – date, and I will be for sure checking other Jennifer’s books, sooner rather than later – The Mince Pie Mix – Up has just feel me so warm inside and I couldn’t stop smiling. Perfect read for this holidays!

 
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Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber / Book Review

21 gru

Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber

 

 

Publisher: Arrow

Publishing Date: 19th November 2015

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle| Paperback

 

 

 

 Synopsis:

The new romantic Christmas story from New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.

Ashley Davison is desperate to spend the holidays with her mother in Seattle. Dash Sutherland has an interview for the job of a lifetime in Seattle and must arrive by 23 December. Both frantic to book a last-minute flight out of California, Ashley and Dash collide at the airport to learn that there are no flights and only one rental car available. After a rocky start, the two reluctantly agree to drive to Washington together. But their journey isn’t without obstacles, and a misunderstanding with the law threatens to ruin their holiday plans altogether.

Will Ashley make it home in time to surprise her mother? Will Kevin report to duty as expected? And most importantly, will they both have the opportunity to discover the greatest gift of all?

Rating: 3/5

 

Dashing Through the Snow is the second book by Debbie Macomber that I’ve read. I really liked the sound of the blurb, and the cover is so gorgeous, and so, based on those two things, and also the fact that Debbie is the author, I requested this book for review. There is a lot of warmth to the writing, and many relatively funny moments – or better said, a lot of jaw – dropping moments that made the reading light.

I liked the idea of the book – Ashley was on the no – fly list, and fast forward, she found herself in a rental car with Dash dashing (yes! See what I’ve done here?) through half of the US, and even the fact that they’ve just seen each other for the first time worked for me. I can get it: if you are truly desperate to be somewhere, you are willing to get into a car with a total stranger, a verrry handsome stranger, let me tell you, especially after talking to his mum on the phone – that I loved, nota bene. The relationship between Ash and Dash (yeah. I know) was from the beginning really ridiculous but also very close to life. I could even swallow the way they got to know and like each other, love at first sight is possible (not telling that this was the case!!!), I laughed incredulously at some of the scenes, such as like the ones with Stan the Man, but some things just totally didn’t work for me. Why the scene with the motorbike gang? The way FBI was working and thinking… I can only hope they do not work like this in reality. Then everything always went like clockwork for the characters, they met the right people at the right places, everything felt into places just like this for them. The story, however sweet, was much too rushed for my liking, and some of the elements were just too far – fetched. Especially the work of FBI.

We know from the moment Dash and Ashley got into the car how the book is going to end, but it didn’t bother me at all, I was just curious how compatible they’re going to be and how is the chemistry going to look like. There are not many twists and turns in this story, more like some unexpected, unbelievable situations, and also really quickly we know what, who, why and when. And I must come back to the FBI again – there were some chapters told from the agents’ points of view, and after such a long build up the resolution and wrap – up of this sub – plot were so sudden and so rushed.

The author tried to beef up this race against time with a snow storm, sweet puppy (there was so much emphasis on this puppy that you could think it might be the most significant character to the story. It was not.), stealing registration number and even an alien – subplot. Sounds really eclectic, right? Somehow, it has worked in this book, making for a very light albeit very unbelievable story, that won’t stay for long with me.

Dashing Through the Snow was a cute, lovely story that you can read in a moment or two in the evening. It won’t change the world, there are no life – changing decisions to be made but every once in a while you need to read such undemanding book, no? I didn’t laugh out loud when reading it, I’d rather more snorted with disbelief but nevertheless, it was a totally light, easy read.

 
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Napisane w kategorii 2015 Releases, Rating 3/5

 

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas / Book Review

19 gru

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas

 

 

Publisher: Black Swan

Publishing Date: 19th November 2015

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult), Mystery

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 Synopsis:

Amy’s always felt like something’s been missing in her life, but as a nanny for the Laurent family – Julia, Alain, Viviane – she feels complete.

So Amy wouldn’t think of leaving them when a sudden tragedy forces them to move from France to the small lakeside cottage in the isolated Somerset village where Julia grew up.

But there’s something strange about the cottage by the lake. This is where Julia spent her childhood. But she used to have an older sister, Caroline, whom she rarely speaks about…

Who disappeared at just seventeen…

Who has a secret the whole village wants kept hidden for ever…

Louise Douglas’s beautifully crafted and haunting page-turner will hold you in its grip.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

I can’t express how much I was looking towards reading this book – I have heard amazing things about Louise Douglas and her books (The Secret by the Lake was my first read by this author, somehow have never managed to read other novels, even though I have them on my TBR pile, of course!), and lately heard only prizes from friends about this newest release. Also, after reading the blurb I was convinced this is for sure going to be up to my bookish street.

So I started reading it and waited, and waited, and waited for something to wow me as much as it wow-ed the other bloggers. Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautifully written and thoroughly plotted story, but it just didn’t make such impression on me. I am not against paranormal in the stories, but this time I just couldn’t get this whole ghost subplot. Sure, I know it was there to rehabilitate one of the characters, but on the whole it just didn’t sit with me. Also, relatively quickly I guessed the two important to the story things – namely what happened to Caroline and what was happening to Viviane, and who was involved in this dirty business, and that there was much more to Caroline that met the eyes. So when the grande finale arrived, I was not at all surprised. Sure, Caroline’s presence was needed to explain what happened in the past, to stop the history to repeat itself but altogether, for me it made the whole reading just unbelievable – somehow it didn’t fit this kind of book.
Nevertheless, even though I guessed what happened 30 years ago and what was happening now, revealing this fact by the author has shocked me and made me feel so, so sad and powerless. Maybe because something such sinister was happening all the time and there was no – one there to help? I must admit, it broke my heart a little.

The atmosphere in this book is so grim – I had a feeling that the fog hovering over the lake is twining around me, I just could feel the chill. We have a character here fighting a depression after her husband has been murdered, we have a cold, unloved house, we have a very sad and tragic past, and it only gets creepier and creepier, especially when Viviane, Julia’s daughter, becomes a new best friend – Julia’s dead sister, Caroline. It’s really amazing that the author has managed to create such atmosphere, make the book so ghostly, full of intrigues and tragic incidents. The characters in the story are also not the easiest ones to like or to relate to, at least in my case. I understand that Julia and Viviane’s lives went upside down and I truly fell for them, but Julia was not the only widow in the world, right? I couldn’t watch the poor Viviane, so abandoned and so alone in this sad, grim house – Julia was just too much into her own grief and she seemed to just wash her hands of all the things that were happening in her life. Fortunately there was Amy to pick up what was broken, and I don’t want to think what would happen without her? The local villagers were not too happy, as well, and I’d rather not live there.
Louise Douglas has also added an element of romance, but – sadly – it also didn’t sit with me. This relationship between Amy and Daniel seemed so forced and unrealistic to me – Amy fells in love with him almost immediately, after one very uninspiring conversation, and she is the one initiating everything and in her mind giving birth to their children.

The lake, and also the cottage the women lived in, are separate characters in this story, and the descriptions of them both were really giving me the creeps. There was always this heavy, implying something atmosphere around the lake, and the house, with all the closed doors, cold rooms and creaky steps was not my idea of a cosy, welcoming home.

But nevertheless, even though it was not my favourite read, I still was able to see and appreciate a quality of this story – the beautiful writing, great storytelling and interesting plot, and I am truly looking forward to reading other Louise’s books. She has also managed to transport me into the world of the characters, back in time to the village, such great the writing was. I welcome how the author mixed the paranormal elements with the family drama, and I am really sorry that it didn’t work for me, but I am sure it can send a shiver or two down your spine. Louise Douglas has delivered a captivating, sophisticated and beautifully written story, a very complex, multi – layered one, full of twists and turns and I really appreciate this fact, as well as the tension being so palpable through the pages. full of secrets and lies – perfect for this time of the year.

 
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The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements / Book Review

17 gru

The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements

 

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 5th November 2015

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 Synopsis:

Hazel never set out to be a wedding planner. She was just helping her stressed sister Lila with cakes and décor for her big day. But when Lila and Ollie’s summer ceremony is a runaway success, with guests raving about the food and styling at the pretty venue, word about Hazel’s expertise soon spreads.

But Hazel’s clients expect the very best – she’s promised lawyers Gemma and Eliot a snow-covered castle in the Scottish Highlands, and laidback couple Josh and Sarah a bohemian beach wedding in a Caribbean paradise. But as weather, in-laws and wilful brides conspire against her, can Hazel get two very different couples to walk up two very different aisles to say ‚I do’? And will she find her own happy ending if she does?

 Rating: 4/5

 

It’s not a secret that I’m a huge fan of Abby Clements’ books and she couldn’t have a better surprise this year as she had two novels published this year – I really can’t have enough of her writing and storytelling. She can write beautiful stories that are fast – paced but without the unnecessary drama, and she makes them so true to life. They make me laugh and smile in such a natural way, and I am always buying into the stories, as they really feel so close to reality, especially the characters and the way they are in their worlds.

The Winter Wedding has a great cast of characters and I truly loved Hazel. I loved how Abby described her unconditional love to her twin sister Lila – this feeling was truly palpable through the pages, it was just jumping off of the story. Abby has also in a great way described how Hazel was coping with Lila starting her own life, which was for Hazel like being separated from her best friend, not only from her sister, and it was so touching and lovely, as this feeling between the sisters was so real and so strong. Hazel was also so very independent and I kept my fingers crossed for her, especially as she often found herself in a lot of tricky situations, either at work, where she was a little stuck, or with Sam, her best friend from at home that she also had a crush on.

Hazel and Lila couldn’t be more different, even though they were twins, but they had one thing in common – they were both so very talented. The descriptions of Lila’s love to ballet were wonderful and I had a feeling that any moment she’s going to dance off of the pages! Hazel was incredibly creative and I would do anything to see one of her sets or creations in flesh – even though they were described so vividly that I could see them in my mind. The way Hazel thought about organizing weddings was also refreshing and I enjoyed those twists and turns about the nuptials, as we really didn’t know how they are going to end – or if they are going to take place at all, with all the problems!

Of course it is not only a story about Hazel and her love life or work – related complications. This time there is also the small problem of Lila and her health, which the author tackles with a lot of gentleness and subtlety, and if you had any doubts about Hazel, at the latest you’ll start to love her seeing how she wanted to help her sister, how tender and understanding she was – to have such a sister is a real treasure!

Sure, the story was not too complicated and was a tad predictable, but in this case it didn’t bother me at all, as altogether it has made for a brilliant, uplifting read with some twists and turns as well as funny and touching moments – so yes, the book has it all! It is written in this lovely, warm and easy to follow writing style that I so love, the story flows and the characters were to die for. And there are cakes in this story as well, and what for cakes! Yes, the last part of the book seemed a little too rushed and suddenly Josh became one of the most important characters on the scenes which was very useful for the plot, but bothered me a little, as it felt a little too forced, but it’s my only „but”. What I liked was that I wasn’t at all sure where the story is going to take us regarding Hazel’s love life – there were two men on the scenes, but was she going to end up with one or them? Was she going to find someone at all?

The Winter Wedding is a perfect example of Abby Clements’ talent to write a cosy, lovely story. It is a great book to curl up on the couch on these cold, wet winter evenings, as it’s for sure going to warm you inside and make you feel better. If you are still looking for Christmas presents then you should go and buy this book – it’s going to bring a lot of joy! Recommended!

 
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Napisane w kategorii 2015 Releases, Rating 4/5

 

A Gown of Thorns by Natalie Meg Evans / eBook Review

15 gru

A Gown of Thorns by Natalie Meg Evans

 

 

Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 12th November 2015

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

 Synopsis:

A bittersweet romantic novella set in the rolling valleys of the French Dordogne wine-making region.

Shauna Vincent, a graduate from the north of England, has just learned that the job she set her heart on has gone to a socially well-connected rival. Devastated, she accepts an offer in France from an old family friend – to be au pair to the woman’s grandchildren. Within a week, Shauna is deep in the Dordogne. With little to do other than organise her two charges’ busy social diaries, she has endless hours in which to explore the magical landscape that surrounds her. Her new home is the ancient Chateau de Chemignac with its vineyards and hidden secrets, including a locked tower room where she unearths a trove of vintage gowns, one of which feels unsettlingly familiar. Then Shauna falls asleep one afternoon in a valley full of birdsong, and has a strange dream of a vintage aircraft circling threateningly overhead. So when she suddenly awakes to find charming local landowner Laurent de Chemignac standing over her – Shauna wonders if the dashing aristocrat might be just the person to help her untangle this unexpected message from the past.

 Rating: 3/5

 

If you are in need to read a really good historical fiction then you can with certainty go for books by Natalie Meg Evans. I’ve only read „The Millicent’s Secret” by this author, although I’ve read raving reviews of her debut novel, The Dress Thief, as well, and so I’m only waiting for my day to have 48 hours to be able to read this book as well. But as those 48 hours are not in sight in the closest future, I was really happy to see that there is a novella by Natalie Meg Evans available on NetGalley.

Natalie Meg Evans can choose the best settings for her books, and this time she takes us to France – again – but to the province, Dordogne, when wine is being produced. Also, the novella takes place in the modern times, in 2003 to be exact, with only occasional flashbacks back to the WW II.

The characters are, as Natalie Meg Evans got us used to, magnificent, even though in my case I needed a little more time to warm to them. Not all of them, as there was a one particular character – Rachel – who was a queen of manipulating and lies, and I was truly scared what more she can do and destroy. Laurent was a little too moody for my liking and I couldn’t put my finger on him, couldn’t keep up with him and his moods. Our main character is Shauna, and even though there is a depth to her, I still have a feeling that I wasn’t able to get to know her as much as I’d like, that I didn’t make friends with her. But my issues apart, the characters had their own personalities and lives and they felt like jumping out off the pages any moment and I really appreciated it. And also, I had a feeling that the characters in this novella were so raw! Their lives were full of thorns and it is brilliantly described by the author. She can incredibly well pour into the paper and describe a lot of feelings and emotions, in a way that I wouldn’t be able to. All this make the characters so realistic and three – dimensional and makes the reading even more gripping.

Novella of full length story, for Natalie Meg Evans it doesn’t matter and she always gives great importance and is particular about attention to details, places, clothes, not forgetting about things that we usually take for granted and don’t spot, until she points them out to us.

But somehow, this time this book didn’t sit with me. I think it was the thing with the dress that was a little too unbelievable to me and I personally think this story could be exactly exquisite, or even more, without it. I just couldn’t get it, as well as the sudden visions and travelling of the characters back in time. Why? How come? How did it happen and how was it possible that other people could have seen this as well? I have nothing against a little magic or paranormal in the stories, but here it was for me a little too far – fetched. Also, as much as I love Natalie’s love to details, this time the story dragged on too much for liking, with the detailed descriptions of wine being made, of the way the cellars looked like and the exact schedule of children’s activities. Sure, I really, fully appreciate the work and research that’s being put in all those descriptions, but sometimes less is more.

This is a story full of secrets, lies and hidden emotions. I couldn’t wait to see what more is Shauna going to discover in or around the château, and she was really great when it came to unearthing hidden places, things and memories. She is the one who discovers that the titular gown of thorns has a lot of secrets and so wants to tell its story that somebody is desperate to keep hidden.

Natalie Meg Evans has proved that she can also write a brilliant fiction set in the modern times. Of course she hasn’t deprived us of this what she’s best at, ie. history, and she perfectly intertwined those periods in time together. We knew there is a secret, we can start to guess, but in fact when the secret has been revealed, it took me by surprise. There are many twists and turns and intertwining stories, and it is truly incredible that this all has fitted in between the pages of this novella. Nothing felt rushed here, the author took her time to describe and explain, and the characters were really well developed.

This is a very clever, intelligent read that goes far beyond the usual romance reads, a very well written novella that flows and is full of information of all kinds. Really hats off to the author for the brilliant and thorough research and really putting her heart into every page of this book. I am already waiting impatiently for her next novel!

 
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Napisane w kategorii 2015 Releases, Rating 3/5