#tuesdaybookblog #bookreview Ninja School Mum by @Lizzie_Chantree

I am reviewing Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree.

The Blurb

Obsessive-compulsive school mum, Skye, is a lonely elite spy, who is running from her past whilst trying to protect the future of her child. She tries hard to fit in with the other parents at her son’s new school, but the only person who accepts her unconventional way of life is new mother, Thea.

Thea is feeling harassed by her sister and bored with her life, but she suspects that there is something strange about the new school mum, Skye. Thea has secrets of her own and, although the two become unlikely friends, she hesitates to tell Skye about the father of her own child.

Zack’s new business is growing faster than he could have dreamed but, suddenly, he finds himself the owner of a crumbling estate on the edge of a pretty village, and a single parent to a very demanding child. Could he make a go of things and give his daughter the life she deserved?

When three lives collide, it appears that only one of them is who they seem to be, and you never know who the person next to you in the school playground really is.

51DkXJGlttL__SY346_

My Mini Review

The cover is very cool. I love the colour contrast and the silhouette. It drew me in to find out more and the premise of the story really appealed. Who can resist a spy story!

There is a lot to like about this book. The characters are colourful and have plenty of secrets between them. Skye, Thea and Zack are well drawn and likeable, though you know they have secrets and you have to read on to find out what is really going on.

The spy part of the plot is important, but perhaps not featured enough. I would have loved to relive some of the backstory through flashbacks.

One of my favourite parts were the unusual business ideas; Skye starts up a self-defence class for children to avoid the school bully, while Zack runs Cloud Climb on his estate, which also sounds like a great idea if you like heights!

For me there were a few issues with this book. The chapters are told from each character’s viewpoints, which I liked, but I did find there were times when we head hopped between characters thoughts. This confused the narrative and I was sometimes left wondering who had been thinking what.

There is a lot of back story that needs to be revealed to the reader, which is understandable for the plot and as I mentioned above I think we could have used a few flashbacks to get the information across in a more involving way. I also thought some of the scenes in the present could have been shown more as there was too much tell and character reflection on things that had just happened. I think the book could have, and should have, been longer – I certainly wouldn’t mind spending longer with these characters and really get to know them better.

There are a few twists towards the end, some of which took me by surprise – always a good thing. But for me the ending was underwhelming and I would have liked something more dramatic for these great characters.

I rate this book 3.5 stars. Why not check it out on goodreads and see what others have to say.

#TuesdayBookBlog The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick #Bookreview #womensfic #romance

Although I planned to read just fantasy this year, I picked this book up one evening for a quick glance and just couldn’t put it down. The house and Cornish setting were the draws, but I just fell into the character’s stories and they wouldn’t let me go.

Here’s the blurb…

When artist Maddie inherits a house in Cornwall shortly after the death of her husband, she hopes it will be the fresh start she and her step-daughter desperately need. Trevenen is beautiful but neglected, and as Maddie discovers the stories of generations of women who’ve lived there before, she begins to feel her life is somehow intertwined within its walls.

But Maddie’s dream of a calm life in the countryside is far from the reality she faces – and as she pulls at the seams of Trevenen’s past, the house reveals secrets that have lain hidden for generations.

51ZeMGa4VoL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_

My Review

First thoughts

Although it’s quite an intense subject dealing with loss and a heartbroken step-daughter, I didn’t find this story depressing or difficult to read at any point. There are plenty of tear-jerking moments, as you might expect from a story of second chances. But new friendships and healing play a big part in the story too. And as I expected, the house and its secrets kept me hooked.

Characters

I really like all the characters in this book, the main characters Maddie and her step daughter Hannah, Mark and Old Tom (OT), Tasmin and Will, plus the other characters that play a part in this small Cornish community.

Maddie is an easy protagonist to like and you feel every moment of her suffering and relate to the hard decisions she’s had to make. I also liked the fact she was an artist struggling to find her inspiration again after the loss of her husband.

Trevenen, the house, is a character all of its own. I’d love to inherit an old house like that and restore it.

Writing style

Told mainly from Maddie’s POV, we also get to see the story through Hannah viewpoint and this works really well.

Final thoughts

I loved the layers to this story, the different pieces that come together from the characters’ recent past and much further back in history.

The story intrigued me, the characters came alive and filled my head, I loved every minute of reading it. In fact, I would love to pick it up now and re-read the whole book again. I will definitely be reading more of Liz Fenwick’s books.

Recommend

To anyone who enjoy women’s fiction, not just romance but something a bit extra.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars, though I wish I could give it more.

Check it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin @HollyMAuthor #bookreview #romance #Christmas #greatreads

During the week before Christmas I wanted to share one of my favourite Christmas reads this year. Christmas at Lilac Cottage has everything; love laughter and tears. Before I give you my review, here’s the blurb…

***

Snow is falling on White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air . . .

Penny Meadows loves her cosy cottage with its stunning views over the snow-topped town of White Cliff Bay, but not even the roaring log fire can keep her personal life from feeling frozen.

That is until dashing Henry and his daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage for the festive season. And between decking the halls and baking delicious mince pies, Penny realises there is more to Henry than meets the eye.

With sleigh bells ringing and fairy lights twinkling, the ice-sculpting competition and Christmas Eve ball are in full swing. Will Penny be able to melt the ice and allow love into her heart? And will she finally have the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?

51lweh7MkiL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_[1]

My Review

Summary

I won a copy of this book in a blog competition (thanks Brizzlelass) and have been saving my review to post near to Christmas. I have to say this is the perfect Christmassy read to get you in the mood for the big day. It has everything you could ask for in a story; troubled romance, interfering family and friends, and emotional back story. There are also plenty of laugh out loud moments that had my husband looking at me strangely! I’m smiling to myself right now as I remember some of these scenes. The ending is heart warming and I shed a few tears in places.

Characters

I really liked Penny the main character, and Henry was a proper hero and gentleman. I loved the chemistry between them, though their stubbornness could be annoying at times. One thing I really liked were the characters unusual professions, Penny is an ice-carver and Henry is a carpenter. This added another dimension to the characters and added plenty to the plot.

Setting

White Cliff Bay comes off the page and seems so real. It’s the kind of place I’d love to visit. I love the fact that others stories have been set in the same town, so I know I can visit there again.

Likes

The writing flows so smoothly, that I found myself sucked straight into the characters lives. I immediately liked everyone in the story and wanted them to have their happy ever after.

Dislikes

I did struggle to get into this book at first, not for the writing which is excellent, but just something about it didn’t ring true. I think it was the fact Daisy didn’t act like a typical 16 year old, she was way too thoughtful and kind! I persevered through this minor annoyance and was soon swept away with the story.

Rating

It is hard to pick a rating for this story as by the end it was a 5 star, stay up all night read. But as I did struggle at the beginning, I’m going down the middle and saying it’s a 4.5 star read.

Check it out for yourself on Goodreads, and Amazon UK.

#Tuesdaybookblog A Year and a Day – Isabelle Broom #Bookreview #Romance

This is my first book review for a long time. I’m a bit out of practice, but here goes…

I won a paperback copy of A Year and a Day in a Rafflecopter giveaway run by Brizzlelass. I was instantly drawn to the idea of a book set in Prague as it’s a bucket list destination for me. After reading this, Prague has moved even higher up on my list!

But before I get to what I think, let’s start with the beautiful book cover and the blurb…

51qHxURJbHL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_[1]

Welcome to a city where wishes are everywhere

For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she’s determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything – and she won’t let that happen again . . .

For Hope, the trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she’s struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it’s all her fault . . .

For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can’t stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past . . .

Three different women.

Three intertwining love stories.

One unforgettable, timeless city.


My Review

This is an addictive read. The way each chapter alternates between the three viewpoint characters – Megan, Hope and Sophie, draws you in completely. I spent a few late nights unable to put it down.

The characters are all likeable and each story thread is compelling and believable. It’s great how each character has their own chapter, but are often with or bumping into the others characters once they all meet in Prague. Megan is the main character of the three, and Ollie (her friend / potential love interest) is definitely my favourite character. I connected with Megan the most perhaps because she is obsessed with photography (I also love taking photos), although I found her reasoning a little nuts and infuriating at times.

There are plenty of heart-warming moments in A Year and a Day, and plenty of times when it reduced me to tears.

Prague really comes alive; you can almost feel as if you are there in the freezing, magical city.

I did guess where much of the plot was going, but that didn’t stop my enjoyment of the story, rather it’s good to be proved right.

In all, A Year and a Day is a brilliantly entertaining novel that I recommend to anyone who enjoys romantic fiction. I will be looking out for more books by Isabelle Broom and look forward to escaping into other parts of the world in her stories.

I rate it 4.5 stars (5 on amazon / goodreads).

 

My favourite reads of 2016 #amreading #greatreads

I’ve read more in 2016 than I have in years thanks to taking up the Goodreads reading challenge and joining Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Here are some of the books that have stayed with me long after I finished reading them.

Favourite Children’s book – Fire Bed and Bone by Henrietta Bradford

My review & My Family Review

Featured Image -- 3569  I loved this book and shared it with my family. It was an interesting experiment to get the different opinions from a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old and my husband (whose age I’m sure he wouldn’t want me to mention!).

Favourite YA book – The Sapphire Legend by E.L. Tenenbaum

My Review

26248087 This fantasy book took me by surprise and I have been longing to read the sequel. I definitely will in 2017.

Favourite Indie and fantasy – The Crown of Stones by C.L. Schneider

My Review

20319844 I was drawn to the cover of this book from the start and the book didn’t disappoint. A great fantasy, and another trilogy I hope to finish in 2017.

Favourite Thriller – Distress Signals by Catherin Ryan Howard

My review

distress signals cover image This book led to some very late nights! A compelling thriller and I bet you won’t see the twist coming!

Favourite Romance – Late Summer in the Vineyards by Jo Thomas

My Review

51qenardljl I loved this book for the atmosphere and the wonderful feel good factor it had.

Favourite Audio book – Look Behind You by Sibel Hodge

My Review

51fbBPM9h9L._SY346_  This was a thriller I just couldn’t stop listening to. It had that all important mystery element, and like the main character I didn’t know who to trust. It reminded me of ‘Before I go to Sleep’. Both truly great reads.

In all I read 33 books during 2016. Now I can’t wait to see what books 2017 has in store.

Have you read any of these books, and if not have I inspired you to add them to your TBR lists?

 

#Tuesdaybookblog #bookreview A Wedding in Cornwall – Laura Briggs @paperdollwrites #romance

A Wedding in Cornwall by Laura Briggs

Novella – 92 pages

Romance.

Disclaimer – I won a copy of this book in Rachel’s Random Reads competition back in the summer.

61vhs8ug61l1

It’s the career move of a lifetime, and Julianne can’t believe it’s hers: a position as an event planner at a country house in Cornwall, England, beginning with the wedding of a celebrity! If her old firm’s senior planner back in the States hadn’t fallen suddenly sick with the chicken pox, Julianne would never have found herself chosen for a life in one of England’s most beautiful coastal counties, surrounded by rugged shores, quaint cottages, elegant gardens and a house to die for.

But life in Cornwall isn’t exactly as Julianne imagined it. Her first bride-to-be is a resentful, petted snob, the groom is immature and bored, and the Cornish staff of Cliffs House has a difficult time believing that an event planner from a mid-level position can handle a wedding this big. And then there’s a personal matter — the handsome, sometimes charming, sometimes standoffish gardener Matthew Rose. He and Julianne have a strangely complicated relationship somewhere between friendship and attraction. But with a secret in his past, and a scheming bridesmaid plotting to have Matthew all to herself, will Julianne find a way to untangle her feelings and the problems of planning a perfect Cornish wedding?

My Review

This was a sweet little novella that I would’ve easily devoured it in one sitting if life didn’t get in the way.

The author admits from that start that she’s never been to Cornwall and this did fill me with apprehension, but I need not have worried. There were one or two details that might leap out at people who know the area well, but for me I was transported to Cornwall. I especially liked the visit to The Lost Gardens of Heligan, which is a family favourite of ours.

The lead character, Julianne, was likeable and her story flowed from scene to scene. There were no chapters, which I found unusual but it helped keep me involved in the story and I didn’t want to stop reading. I also really liked the love interest in the story, Matt.

With Julianne’s job being an events planner, there were lots of little details like the types of flowers in the displays and food being served, touches I really enjoyed.

The story built up to a satisfactory conclusion and I’ve just seen there is a sequel – A Christmas in Cornwall – perfect for this time of year.

I recommend A Wedding in Cornwall to those who enjoy a light romance story and who like a quick read.

Rating 4 stars.

Check out the book on Amazon UK  or Amazon US

#Tuesdaybookblog #Bookreview Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas #Romance

As promised on my Fridaybookshare post, here’s my review of Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas.

Genre – Romance

51qenardljl

Blurb

Emmy Bridges has always looked out for others. Now it’s time to put down roots of her own.

Working for a wine-maker in France is the opportunity of a lifetime for Emmy. Even if she doesn’t know a thing about wine – beyond what’s on offer at the local supermarket.

There’s plenty to get to grips with in the rustic town of Petit Frère. Emmy’s new work friends need more than a little winning over. Then there’s her infuriatingly brash tutor, Isaac, and the enigmatic Madame Beaumont, tucked away in her vineyard of secrets.

But Emmy will soon realise that in life – just as in wine-making – the best things happen when you let go and trust your instincts. Particularly when there’s romance in the air…

My Review

First thoughts

This is the first (and only) book I’ve won in a Goodreads competition. I was sent a Marketing Proof by the publishers. Although sadly it doesn’t have this cover, I was still really pleased to be a winner.

Summary

This is a perfect story for escapism. I’m sure in the middle of November, we’re all dreaming of heading off to hot and sunny France. I’d love to visit the vineyards, it all sounds so idyllic.

Main character

I really like Emmy. She’s a genuinely nice person who wants to help everyone and puts their best interests above her own. This has meant she’s put her entire life on hold to look after her dad and younger sister. Her need to look out for others gets her into some very sticky situations.

I did find Emmy’s self doubt a little over the top, but it was completely believable. At times I could have shaken some sense into her and by the end it was gratifying to see her development.

Writing style

It’s mainly told in first person, present tense from Emmy’s perspective. This style really helps to connect with Emmy and understand her thought processes. The situations she gets herself in become more plausible as well.

Issues

I found a part of the prologue annoying and improbable. If someone is telling you to get out their house or they’ll call the police, you don’t suggest a cup of tea (not when your a stranger and a debt collector at that!). It is a sort of comic moment, but it just stopped me believing in the story – thank goodness I carried on reading!

My only other issue would be the amount of simple errors that were present in this copy. As I received a marketing copy, I assume these have been spotted by a proof reader.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed this book much, much more than I was expecting! I now have a new appreciation for wine, and desperately want to go and visit France. This book created a special feeling about the vineyards and the host of characters Emmy meets. I especially liked Madame Beaumont and her old horse, Henri. It’s a story that stays will you and I will miss reading it. I will definitely read more of Jo Thomas’ books when I want that feel good factor.

Rating 4.5 Stars

Recommend to: Romance readers who like to discover something a little different and want to be transported into another country.

#FridayBookShare Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas #romance @ShelleyWilson72

This weekly book sharing game was set up by Shelley Wilson. See the rules below.

untitled-7

First Line 

‘Madame, Madame!’ I shout, and wave my arms around like I’m at a Take That concert, trying to attract Gary Barlow’s attention in the midst of thousands of other possessed fans.

Recruit fans

Escape to France with LATE SUMMER IN THE VINEYARD – Jo Thomas’s irresistible follow-up to THE OYSTER CATCHER and THE OLIVE BRANCH. ‘A fabulous French feast of fun’ Milly Johnson

Emmy Bridges has always looked out for others. Now it’s time to put down roots of her own.

Working for a wine-maker in France is the opportunity of a lifetime for Emmy. Even if she doesn’t know a thing about wine – beyond what’s on offer at the local supermarket.

There’s plenty to get to grips with in the rustic town of Petit Frère. Emmy’s new work friends need more than a little winning over. Then there’s her infuriatingly brash tutor, Isaac, and the enigmatic Madame Beaumont, tucked away in her vineyard of secrets.

But Emmy will soon realise that in life – just as in wine-making – the best things happen when you let go and trust your instincts. Particularly when there’s romance in the air…

Introduce the main character

Emmy – Caring, self-deprecating, naïve

Delightful design

51qenardljl

Audience appeal

Romance lovers, especially those who like to be transported to other countries (France in particular).

Your favourite line

‘Very nice. But I don’t think I ordered room service,’ says a sleepy American voice.

‘Shit!’ I spin round to what I thought was my pile of luggage that I’d left on my bed ready to unpack but it isn’t a pile of luggage at all. My luggage is now on the floor. My heart starts thundering like a young horse in its first Grand National. My eyes open wider and I clutch the towel more firmly.

It’s a person, a body, a man… in my bed!

***

I am totally loving this book and will hopefully post a review next week. In the meantime check it out on goodreads.

#Bookreview – The Wedding Proposal Sue Moorcroft #Romance

The Wedding Proposal by Sue Moorcroft.

Genre: Romance

21473821

Blurb

Elle Jamieson is a private person, in relationships as well as at work – and for good reason. But then she’s made redundant and with no ties to hold her, Elle heads off to sunny Malta.

Lucas Rose hates secrets – he prides himself on his ability to lay his cards on the table and he expects nothing less in return. He’s furious when his summer working as a divemaster is interrupted by the arrival of Elle, his ex, all thanks to his Uncle Simon’s misguided attempts at matchmaking.

Forced to live in close proximity, it’s hard to ignore what they had shared before Lucas’s wedding proposal scared Elle away. But then a phone call from England allows Lucas a rare glimpse of the true Elle. Can he deal with Elle’s closely guarded past when it finally comes to light?

My Review – in brief

I was first attracted to this book because of the location. I’m very interested in Malta and have just returned from a holiday there – my first trip abroad in over 15 years. I originally read this book hoping it would help me get excited about the country as I was very nervous about flying.

I’m happy to say that not only did this book do the country and friendly people justice, it really gave a feel for the island and the culture as well as the heat. There were lots of little details that added to the reading experience and brought Malta alive for me.

The characters were believable and the conflict between them was plausible. I really enjoyed this story and will definitely read more of Sue Moorcroft’s work.

I recommend to those who enjoy romance with a touch of steaminess, and that’s not just the Maltese temperature!

4 out of 5 stars.

 

#RBRT #BookReview of No Time Like Now by Jennifer Young #romance

No Time Like Now – Jennifer Young

Genre: Romantic suspense.

Length: 258 pages

Review copy received from the author (via Rosie Amber’s book review team.)

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Blurb:

Hiding away from a disastrous past, Megan McLeod is getting along nicely in her job as a housekeeper at a university field centre in Majorca. But the arrival of geological researcher, Tim Stone, throws everything into disarray – because Tim was the father of the baby she lost some years before and the two of them had parted very messily indeed…

First impressions:

I was drawn to the premise of a geologist and the location Majorca. I enjoyed the book from the start, the gentle introduction into Megan’s world at the field centre and then the impact of Tim’s sudden reappearance in her life. In her bid to escape him, she heads for the beach and stumbles on to something that will eventually put both their lives in danger.

The mysteries of past and present running through the book kept me turning the pages. I had to know what had happened in Megan’s past and how things had gone so badly wrong with her and Tim. There was a touch of menace in this storyline as well, which I hadn’t been expecting. I enjoyed the suspense element to the plot and how at times you weren’t really sure who to trust. I also liked how the author used the location and the elements to increase the tension and the danger.

Characters:

Throughout the book, I didn’t feel completely connected with the characters and at times it was frustrating that they kept refusing to talk to each other. There were also a few places where I felt both Megan and Tim acted out of character, but I can’t explain these points without spoilers.

However, when I reached the end where everything was revealed and the mysteries were resolved, I felt more emotionally connected to Megan. I even shed a tear or two for her and that is why I am happy to round up my star rating to 4.

Style:

I didn’t understand why the author chose to have Megan’s chapters in first person and Tim’s in third person. It didn’t detract from the story at all, but I don’t think it added to it either. I had no problem switching between both viewpoints and it was well written.

Summary:

An enjoyable read for romance readers, especially those who like a bit of added mystery and suspense.

My rating: 3.5 stars rounding up to 4.

23360498[1]