Wednesday, 19 July 2017

BLOG TOUR: The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara


The Blurb:
One summer, property seeker, Serendipity Parker finds herself on the beautiful west coast of Ireland, hunting for a home for a wealthy Irish client. But when she finds the perfect house in the small town of Ballykiltara, there’s a problem; nobody seems to know who owns it.

‘The Welcome House’ is a local legend. Its front door is always open for those in need of shelter, and there’s always a plentiful supply of food in the cupboards for the hungry or poor.
While Ren desperately tries to find the owner to see if she can negotiate a sale, she begins to delve deeper into the history and legends that surround the old house and the town. But for a woman who has always been focussed on her work, she’s remarkably distracted by Finn, the attractive manager of the local hotel.

But will she ever discover the real truth behind the mysterious ‘Welcome House’? Or will the house cast its magical spell over Ren and help her to find true happiness?

Review:
I loved this book from start to finish, everything from the brilliantly written characters to the amazing scenery to the humour that is contained within the pages of The Summer of Serendipity, are what make this book a winner.

The Summer of Serendipity is the perfect summer read for this year and is a book that I found very hard to put down once I picked it up and started reading.  The thing I loved the most about this book is the fact that it is set in Killarney, Co. Kerry which is about a thirty minute drive from where I live and is extrememly close to where I work.  I loved being able to lose myself in this book and being able to picture the surroundings in my mind, while knowing that the story that I was losing myself in was also so far removed from the real place, that it was still such a sense of escapism for me.  Ali has done such a good job in making the town come to life and has really captured the sparkle of the town, showing why it is so popular.

Serendipity is one of the best female leads that I have had the pleasure of reading.  She has everything that is looked for in a leading lady and she is hands down the thing that makes this book as special as it is.  I fell in love with all of the characters in this novel and being Irish myself, I was very impressed with how well written the Irish characters were and how perfectly the culture was captured.

I really can't recommend this book enough, it will make you laugh and have you smiling from ear to ear throughout.  There wasn't one thing about this book that I didn't like.

4 stars.

About the Author:
Ali McNamara attributes her over-active and very vivid imagination to one thing – being an only child. Time spent dreaming up adventures when she was young has left her with a head bursting with stories waiting to be told.
When stories she wrote for fun on Ronan Keating’s website became so popular they were sold as a fundraising project for his cancer awareness charity, Ali realised that not only was writing something she enjoyed doing, but something others enjoyed reading too. www.alimcnamara.co.uk | @AliMcNamara


You can catch the other blog tour posts here:


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

BLOG TOUR: Summer's Lease by Carrie Elks




The Blurb
Cesca Shakespeare has hit rock bottom. Six years after the play she wrote bombed at the box office, she’s unable to hold down a job, keep an apartment, and worst of all her family have no idea how far she’s fallen. So when her fairy Godfather offers her the use of his friend’s Italian villa for the summer, she grudgingly agrees to try writing a new play. That’s before she finds out the house belongs to her arch-nemesis, Sam Carlton.


When Hollywood heart-throb Sam Carlton sees his name splashed across a gossip rag, all he wants to do is hide. That’s how he finds himself traveling to Italy, deciding to spend the summer in his family’s empty villa on Lake Como. Except when he arrives it isn’t as empty as he’d hoped.


Over the course of the hot Italian summer, Cesca and Sam have to come to terms with their pasts. What begins as a tentative friendship quickly grows into an intense attraction – and then a scorching fling. But they can’t hide from reality forever . . . as their different worlds collide, Sam and Cesca face a choice: is this just a summer romance, or could their love weather even the coldest winds?

My Review
There really are not enough words to describe how much I loved reading this book. I have really been struggling with reading lately and the minute I started reading this book, it pulled me in and I was totally unable to put it down.  I was transported to Italy with this book, and the way that they country was described really made me want hop on a plane and head out there.  Even on the dullest of days here, Summer's Lease brought some sunshine into my life.

The story is like a huge hug and I adored every single page of it.  Even though this is light hearted read, it did have some serious moments, which really added to the story and gave it an air of mystery.  I loved Cesca and Sam, they were both brilliantly written characters and I really enjoyed getting to know them and learn their stories.  

I was delighted to find out that this is the first book in a series that will follow the Shakespeare sisters because there is no way that I would be able to leave the story there! I am so looking forward to getting my hands on the other books in the series as soon as they come out and get to know Cesca's sisters.

Summer's Lease is the perfect Summer read, that will transport you to sunny Italy and keep you thoroughly entertained throughout,  I can't recommend that you read this book enough.  It has everything that I look for in a book and left me with a huge smile on my face.  Carrie Elks is very quickly becoming one of my very favourite authors and I can't wait to read more from her! 

5 stars.


About the author
Carrie Elks lives near London, England and writes contemporary romance with a dash of intrigue. She loves to travel and meet new people, and has lived in the USA and Switzerland as well as the UK. An avid social networker, she tries to limit her Facebook and Twitter time to stolen moments between writing chapters. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can usually be found baking, drinking wine or working out how to combine the two.

You can catch the other posts on the blog tour here:

Saturday, 8 July 2017

The Woman at 72 Derry Lane by Carmel Harrington


I would like to thank the publisher, Harper Collins, for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Carmel Harrington's books have become the release that I look forward to the most every year, so you can only imagine my excitement when this book came through the letter box.  Of course, the second I opened the envelope, I had to drop what I was doing and get stuck into this book straight away, knowing that this book would bring all of the emotions with it, the give away being the tissues that accompanied the book.  I am so pleased to say that this book is all that I expected and more.

Stella has not had an easy life, so when she met her husband and he swept her off of her feet, she though it was too good to be true, and that's because it was.  A year later, Stella finds herself stuck in an abusive marriage with no way of escaping her husband, who both mentally and physically abuses her on a regular basis.  Rea lives next door and is the woman at 72 Derry Lane, who is hiding a big secret that means she has developed a mental illness that has seen her lose everything and leave her housebound.  When she realises what is going on next door, Rea strikes up a very special bond with Stella and is determined to help her to escape her abusive marriage and see her husband be brought to justice.  The third woman that this book focuses on is Skye and her story takes us back to the St Stephens Day Tsunami, leaving the reader with heartbreaking scene that will chill you to the core.

From the second I opened this book and started reading I could tell that Carmel has but her heart and soul into writing this book and bringing these amazing characters to life.  At times it was hard to read as scenes from the tsunami and the abuse that Stella suffers at the hands of husband are hard to read, but I still couldn't draw myself away from this story and I read it at record speed.  There wasn't one single thing that I disliked about this book and I really can't find one fault with it.  After reading it, it is so easy to see how it is flying up the charts, as it deserves this and so much more.

The Woman at 72 Derry Lane is probably my favourite book of 2017 so far, because it made me laugh and cry, sometimes both at the same time, and at the same sentence.  This book came into my life at a very emotional time for me, so i felt every single emotion that all three of the women felt, leaving me feeling so sad, upset, angry and happy at the same times as the characters were.  You will not find a better book this year and I really cannot recommend that you read this book enough.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

BLOG TOUR: The Year of Saying Yes by Hannah Doyle

Today I am delighted to take part in the blog tour for The Year of Saying Yes by Hannah Doyle, which is hands down my favourite book of 2017 so far! I'm hosting Hannah's top five must read books, which you can read below!

Image result for the year of saying yes part one


#SayYes to Hannah’s reading challenge – Hannah’s top 5 books you HAVE to read!

Using the power of my detective skills (eg the fact that you’re reading this fab blog) you guys love a good read as much as I do. So to celebrate the launch of my new book The Year of Saying Yes, I thought I’d put together the top five books on my bookshelf which I absolutely LOVE.

A romantic comedy is my go-to genre for a good old LOL at the end of a busy day but I’ve spiced things up with a real mix here. Happy reading, lovelies!


1. All the Poirot
It’s kind of tricky to pick one because I heart all of Agatha Christie’s Poirot books. My husband buys me a couple every Christmas then listens to me chuckle away as the French detective employs his little grey cells. I’d love to say that I always figure out who the murderer is before the end of the book but that would be a big fat lie.


2. Lindsey Kelk, A Girl’s Best Friend
Oh I love this. You’re whisked off to New York at Christmas for a lot of fun with photographer Tess and her hapless ways. Perfect for a wintery night in.

3. Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love

This sparklingly funny book is so, so worth a read. It follows the aristocratic Radlett kids and is absolutely packed with fabulous characters, like terrifying Uncle Matthew and sex-obsessed Linda.

4. Lucy Robinson, A Passionate Love Affair with A Total Stranger

I really like Lucy’s writing, it’s so fresh and funny. When basically every element of Charley Lambert’s life hits the skids, she ends up setting up an online dating service and falling for someone completely unexpected. Such a fun book.


5. Sebastian Faulks, Jeeves and the Wedding Bells
PG Wodehouse’s famous characters, Jeeves and Wooster, have been brought to life again by writer Sebastian Faulks. The haphazard duo end up in a series of scrapes in this jolly old romp, which I seriously recommend for a good giggle.

Monday, 8 May 2017

BLOG TOUR: My Husband's Wives by Faith Hogan

Today I am delighted to host an extract and a review of My Husband's Wives by Faith Hogan as part of the blog tour.

I would like to thank the author and the publishers for sending my a copy of this book in return for an honest review.



Extract:

Some moments stay with you forever. The day Evie Considine knocked on her door would be one of those that would not fade from Grace’s memory easily, or ever. It was a warm day. They had planned a picnic the evening before, just Delilah and herself.
Delilah left Evie standing in the doorway, as unsure where to put her as Grace was about how to welcome this familiar stranger to their home.
‘Hello,’ Grace said. Her voice held a little trepidation. Why do you always have a fair idea when you are about to hear bad news?
‘Hello – we’ve never actually met, Grace, but my name is Evie. Evie Considine-Starr.’ She was an icy grey-blonde, coiffed and immaculately tailored. Her navy blue eyes were large and childlike beneath lids that hooded with age more than shrewdness. Her voice was porcelain, but softened by nerves. She held herself straight and might be formidable, but there was a little girl quality to her that picked out her vulnerability so she couldn’t hide it, even if she tried. She was absurdly overdressed for the weather and younger-looking than the sixty-five years she must surely be at this stage.
Grace held out her hand. ‘It’s nice to meet you.’ They shared a handshake with no warmth. ‘What can I do for you?’ She reversed backwards into her hallway, feeling as if this perfectly prepared woman who had slipped silently about in her imagination for so long had caught her in the act of some sordid activity. She moved into the nearby dining room that they never used. She could feel Evie inspecting the place as they entered the room. ‘Have a seat.’ But she did not sit. This was not a social visit.
‘I’m here about Paul.’ Her voice was even, unemotional, but Grace knew it couldn’t be good news; she was a million miles off just how bad though. ‘He’s dead.’ Evie said the words with a finality that took all the air from the room between them.
Grace could not speak, she tried to take in the words, but they weren’t hitting home, her lungs had cut off breathing and after a moment she had to remind herself to suck and blow. It was as though someone had bubbled-wrapped the world and insulated her from those two words.
‘I thought you should be first to hear, and of course to tell Delilah.’
‘He can’t be; he can’t be dead – how?’ Grace’s voice didn’t sound as if it belonged to her. She dropped to the nearest chair. Paul, dead? There had to be a mistake. This was all some awful mix up. ‘How…’ Her mind raced. ‘I mean, when…’
‘Look dear, you’re in shock, we’re both in shock, probably. You’ll have to decide how best to break it to Delilah. She’s, what…’ Evie leaned her head to the side. It was strange to hear this woman speak of her daughter as though she knew her well, as though there were some connection there far beyond what Grace felt there was any right to be. ‘She’s sixteen this year, isn’t she?’ Evie nodded sagely, twisted the emerald and diamond band on her wedding finger. ‘A difficult age to lose her father,’ she shook her head, as though it was all a question of timing. Shock, even Grace could see it, she was in shock. ‘All she needs to hear is that it was painless, as far as the doctors are saying. He was driving at the time, so…’
‘Can we see him?’ Grace had to let the fact that Evie knew anything about their lives slip past her. In this moment, she had to concentrate on taking in the news. ‘What about…’
‘It would be better for Delilah to wait; at least until we see what she has to be prepared for.’ Evie picked an imaginary hair from the lapel of her soft expensive jacket. ‘They want us to identify him. Well, they want me to identify him.’ She sniffed. Perhaps it was as close as she came to crying.
‘Oh?’ Grace felt the room spin about her. Her hands were sweating against her bare legs. She’d put on a denim skirt for a day at the beach. It felt sticky and clingy and as though it might have grown a couple of sizes too small. The whole house suddenly moved in closer about her for a moment. She felt she might faint. She took a deep breath, raised her eyes to see Evie regarding her reservedly.
‘It’s shock. Better to be in the boat you’re in than where Annalise Connolly is.’ The words were cold, but maybe Evie too was still in shock. ‘She was in the car with him. They were travelling from the hospital early in the morning, and swerved to avoid a dog.’ Her voice quivered, only slightly, and then she straightened herself, cleared her throat. ‘He careered into one of those big trucks, from what the traffic police could tell me.’ She nodded towards the front of the house. ‘He was trying to avoid a dog. A blasted dog.’
‘Is she… is she going to be okay?’
‘I didn’t ask.’ Evie stared blankly at Grace; perhaps it was just dawning on her that she should have. ‘I suppose she must be or they’d have said, wouldn’t they?’
‘And the boys?’ It was strange talking about Annalise Connolly’s children like this. They never talked about them; Paul talked about everything but his life with Annalise and the two sons they had together.
‘No, it was just Paul and Annalise, from what the guards can make out.’ Evie shook her head. ‘You’d have to wonder…’ She didn’t finish the sentence, but Grace had a fair idea of the sentiment. Maybe before Delilah was born she’d have felt the same.
‘So, do you want to come?’ She was looking at her watch, a simple Cartier gold snake slid about her papery wrist.
‘Pardon?’ Grace had lost track of Evie’s words, as though she’d missed a step somewhere between the kitchen and the front door; the universe had taken a sidestep on her.
‘The guards, they’re waiting outside to take us to see him. It’s only right that you’re there too. After all, you had a child together.’
‘He was my husband,’ Grace said. He’d never divorced her. She still wore her ring most days. He was still a big part of their lives, even if he had fathered the two boys with Annalise Connolly.
‘No, Grace.’ Evie gazed with the fervour of a zealot. ‘No, Grace. He was still my husband. We never got divorced.’


Review:

My Husband's Wives tells the story of four women, all of whom have found themselves in a relationship with Ireland's leading Heart Surgeon, Paul Starr.  When he dies tragically in a car accident with a young pregnant woman by his side, Evie, Grace and Annaliese, Paul's wives start up a relationship with the young woman by arranging his funeral and in the process, each woman finds out more about themselves than they ever thought was possible.

I loved this story, I always love a book that switches back and forth between the point of views of the different characters, and this book does just that.  Because the story is told in this way, we get to know each one of the women better and the reader is allowed to get inside the heads of the characters.  I loved each of the women, but for me Grace has that something special to add to the story.  I loved that she is a strong female lead and she is such a believable and authentic character.

There really wasn't one thing that I didn't like about this book and the further into the book I got, the more unputdownable it became, until I was incredibly entranced by the story.  I really can't recommend this book enough and I can't wait to get my hands on Faith's other novel and lose myself in that for a couple of hours! I adored this book and this story and I can guarantee that if you read it, you will not be disappointed!

You can catch up with all of the other stops on the tour here:


Saturday, 29 April 2017

Then. Now. Always. by Isabelle Broom


I would like to thank the publishers for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Isabelle Broom is fast becoming one of my favourite authors, and after reading A Year and A Day last year, I couldn't wait to get my hands on Then. Now. Always. and I am glad to say that Hannah's story, that transports us to Andalusia, does not disappoint and shows exactly why Isabelle Broom has become such a popular author.

Hannah Hodges is a researcher with a television company and is about to take off on her first working holiday to the beautiful Spanish village of Mojacar in Andalusia to assist in the making of a documentary with the company that she works for.  Hannah throws herself into her work to try to take her mind off other things in her life, such as her hatred for her half sister, Nancy, and the strong feelings of anger that she holds for her father for leaving her mother before Hannah was two years old. Hannah has often travelled to Mojacar as a teenagers while om holiday with her best friend, Rachel, and her family.  Mojacar has always held an air of magic and mystery for Hannah, and she is delighted to get the chance to return as an adult.  She's even more delighted that she gets to go with Theo, her dishy boss, who Hannah is more than a little bit in love with, and one of her best friends, Tom. While making the documentary on the beautiful Spanish Village, Hannah finds out stories that she's never known about the place and meets people that will change her life forever.

There is just something so enchanting about Isabelle Broom's books and this one is no different.  She takes you away to amazing places, all while your sitting on your own sofa.  This one was no different and sent me off the magical setting of Mojacar in Andalusia and had me ready to pack my bags and head off (if it wasn't for my exams) the minute I finished the book.  With Isabelle Broom's novels, you don't just get to experience a brilliantly written story, but also learn secrets about the fabulous settings that she chooses to set the novels in.  The beautiful, eyecatching cover of this novel was enough to make me want to retreat to the sofa and not move until the book was read from cover to cover.  I know that you should never judge a book by its cover, but the cover of Then. Now. Always. is absolutely beautiful, with an amazing purple background, that just makes the book pop.  If you look closely enough there are even gorgeous little drawings on the cover of items relating to the story, including the Indalo Man.

The characters in Then. Now. Always. are superbly written, with each one adding that special sparkle to the story.  Hannah is an instantly likable character and after spending four days with her while reading the book, she became like a friend by the time I had turned the last page.  Tom and Theo also added well to the story line and I loved that both of these characters also added their own little sub plots, which complimented the main plot beautifully.  Nancy and Claudette are also great characters and even though it took me a little bit longer to warm to these particular characters, by the time I put the book down for the final time, I had grown very fond of both characters.  However, as good as the main characters are, I felt that it was Elaine, an expat that Hannah met and interviewed about her time in Mojacar that really stole the show for me.  From the minute she was introduced to the story, she brought with her an air of mystery and I just knew that there was depth and meaning to her character.  Each and everyone of the characters that came to life within the pages of this novel were authentic and believable, something that the author has a serious talent in doing.  
While Hannah's story did bring smiles and a lot of laughter to my life while I was reading this book, it wasn't without it's drama and sad moments.  A good author will be able to make you laugh and cry and in that case, Isabelle Broom has proved herself as a great author, because there times throughout the book that she has me laughing and crying without ever having to turn the page, especially when it came to Elaine and her story.  

Then. Now. Always. is a fantastic read, that I can see doing really well this summer, while it accompanies many readers to their sun-loungers while on their holidays.  This novel is slightly different to A Year and A Day because it doesn't have that sense of sadness to it, but rest assured that if you enjoyed A Year and A Day last year, that you will devour this novel too.  Then. Now. Always. has given me back my reading mojo, when I was just about to give up on him, which shows just how much I enjoyed this book! I really couldn't have enjoyed this book anymore if I tried and I am glad that I got to travel to Mojacar with Hannah and the rest of the gang, at a time in my life when I really needed some escapism.  I can't recommend this book enough and I only hope that it gets all the of the praise that it deserves.  Hats off to the author from producing another fantastic story.

5 stars 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Children of Albion by Jill Turner


I would like to thank the author for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The Children of Albion is a very unique book with the story being told from the point of view of a child called Robbie, who has seriously been let down by society.  Robbie is being brought up in an estate that is seeing children being neglected by their parents, many of whom are heavily involved with drugs and alcohol.  In a life where there is no real discipline for the children and they are allowed to run feral, there is no real place for the children to go, with their only option being to follow in the footsteps of their parents. Sometimes, Robbie needs to get away from it all and has a hideout in an old abandoned house, where he often goes to spend some time alone, but one day when he arrives in his hiding place, Robbie soon finds that he is not alone and this is where he meets Albion, who is a middle class drop out, also looking for a place to hideout in.  When the two meet, an unlikely friendship is struck up between the two and soon they have dreams of setting up a refuge for the children from the estate that Robbie is growing up on, that society seems to have forgotten about.  By doing this Albie and Robbie set out to make a better future for the children of the estate by allowing them to grow up in a better environment.

The Children of Albion is a unique read that will appeal to both young readers and adults alike.  It shows how children can find ways to survive in the worst situations.  This book doesn't try to cover up the sad and destructive way that some children have to live and acts as a huge eyeopener to the fact that there are children who have to live in situations like this in some places all over the world, which is extremely upsetting to think about, but is reality all the same.  As well as being a huge eyeopener, this story also focuses in friendship, with this being the main theme running through the story, focusing mainly on the friendship that has been struck up by Albie and Robbie, but with some other friendships also thrown in along the way, especially towards the end.

The characters in this book are so relatable and I was really rooting for them the whole way through the book.  Their stories are real and really make you think about how others have to live their lives.  As someone who has worked in childcare in the past, I found the some of the topics that were covered in the book very interesting.  I couldn't put this book and read it cover to cover in one sitting, which is very rare for me these days.

The Children of Albion is a story that focuses on friendship and society and how society had failed so many children in the past.  This book could have taken place anywhere in the world, because it is clear that there are people with stories similar to this one living in every country all over the world.  What I loved the most about this book is how two people came together in order to change the future for others and I found it to be a very powerful story.  You won't be disappointed if you read this one and I have a feeling that when you do read it, the story will stay with you for a very long time to come.

4 stars
 

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