5 September 2016

Book Review: Destination India by Katy Colins

"Starting the Lonely hearts Travel Club was supposed to be the second chance that gave Georgia Green back her life. She thought it would be just like travelling, but the reality is far from rosy as she realises that starting a new business is definitely not a beach!

So when Georgia finds herself on an impromptu work trip to India she knows something’s got to give! Where has the girl gone who fought so hard to rebuild her life?

The land of Bollywood, gorgeous beaches and the Taj Mahal might just hold the key to Georgia finding her stride again… Only she is about to find out that when in India the country calls the shots – not you. But Georgia’s not going down that easy!"


After thoroughly enjoying Katy Colins' debut novel Destination: Thailand much earlier this year, I very much looked forward to reading the second book in the series, entitled Destination: India. I really loved the characters and was looking forward to the second outing to see what was happening with them. Also, I was curious to read a book set in India, somewhere I would love to travel to but a holiday like that is years off at the moment, so I have to settle for reading about it in books!

Georgia has enjoyed setting up her own travel business, The Lonely Hearts Travel Club with her friend Ben who she met on her travels, but things haven't quite gone to plan. Georgia feels like she's working all the time, to the point where she is ignoring her family and friends due to work stress. When she finds out one of her tours is getting bad press online, she decides the best way to rectify the situation is to go on the tour to India herself... but not tell any of the other clients who she is. Will Georgia be able to pull it off and sort out the tour, or will it all finally come crashing down around her shoulders?

As I mentioned, this is the second out for Georgia and co, so while this could be enjoyed as a standalone story, it works better if you read it after the first book as that sets the scene for Georgia's life, what has happened to this point and how she came to set up her business. I liked the fact that when we joined her, things aren't all rosy and working perfectly - it felt realistic that she was becoming bogged down in the running of the business, and how stressed she was seemed to reflect many people's mindsets when they work for themselves. I did want to give Georgia a bit of a shake and tell her to ease up on the workload and put other things first, but I calmed down and read on, sure that Katy Colins would pull everything together perfectly for me.

The setting of India in the book was glorious, and Katy really brings it to life on the page with her words. You can fully imagine the wonderful scenery, the city, the hustle-bustle of the people, the sights, the smells - everything is written so vividly, and when you couple it with the images you've probably seen on the television and the internet, you can certainly imagine everything that Georgia is seeing and experiencing in your mind as you read along. I have to confess not all of it sounded ideal of course, and I would definitely miss the creature comforts of home but experiencing a totally different culture like that sounds wonderful and I enjoyed how Georgia immersed herself fully into everything she tried.

The other characters on the tour were interesting, and I feel there were a good spread of people on it with Georgia, all determined to get over their own broken hearts. As well as this main storyline, there's a bit of a 'will they, won't they?' with Ben and Georgia going on, but since neither of them seemed capable of admitting how they felt, I wasn't very hopeful, especially when Georgia insisted on taking charge of everything and not relaxing one bit at all! However, I kept reading on in a vain hope that the two might see what was in front of them, and I enjoyed the development of this storyline very much.

Overall, this was a very successful second outing for Katy Colins and her characters for her 'Destination' series, and I really liked catching up with Georgia again to see what she was up to this time, and how things were going for her. Luckily, there is going to be a third book called Destination: Chile so I will certainly be reading that one when it's released. This is a really fun book, I loved the writing and Colins' style is really enjoyable, and the first person narrative works so well, allowing us to really experience India along with Georgia, as well as her emotional ups and downs as well. A really enjoyable book, definitely one if you aren't off on your travels this year and fancy a bit of escapism!

30 August 2016

Blog Tour: The Little Pieces of You and Me by Vanessa Greene

Today I am delighted to welcome Vanessa Greene for her blog tour for her brand new book The Little Pieces of You and Me. I absolutely love Vanessa's stories, so I can't wait to get around to reading this one! For her blog tour, Vanessa is giving each of the bloggers on her tour a piece about 'A Little Piece of...', and mine happens to be home! So please read the below by Vanessa, and enjoy!

"'A little piece of home’: what home is to Vanessa Greene and her characters in The Little Pieces of You and Me

Home. What a powerful pull that word has – the sense of safety and belonging. With time I’ve come to see home as something solid and very valuable, but it certainly wasn’t always like that. For most of my teens and twenties, I couldn’t get far enough away from it. I had a happy childhood in our family home in north London, but I didn’t want to stick around longer than I had to. I was glad to pack my bags and leave for university, and packed them again (and again) to travel around the world in my early twenties. When I did finally come back to settle in London, I moved around rental homes – Holloway, Blackheath, Highgate, Stockwell – and the bags became boxes. Always packing and unpacking.

With each move came new friendships and adventures, with each goodbye and close of the familiar door, a tinge of sadness. Then life changed, and what I wanted changed. As it does for Isla in my novel, home became something I longed for.

I hope I’ve just unpacked my final box. Now that I’m a mum, I want my son and daughter to feel as grounded as I did – to give them the stable start in life, to grow up with their aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents close by. To give them something to fly away from one day. And – hopefully – to want to return to."

Thank you so much Vanessa!

You can buy The Little Pieces of You and Me now.

20 August 2016

Christmas Releases 2016

Yes, it's that time of year again! We have had so many beautiful covers being released, and I know so many of you are festive book fans that I had to make a page featuring these releases so that when it gets closer to the Christmas season, we can all get stuck in and get buying books! You can click on the covers to see them bigger and in their full glory!

Please note there is a difference for many books between the Kindle release date and the paperback release date. I have used the earlier date of the two for all of these books.

Lily Graham - A Cornish Christmas - 30th September 2016
Tilly Tennant - Christmas at the Little Village Bakery - 16th September 2016
Jane Linfoot - Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop - 30th September 2016 (01/12/16 paperback)
Debbie Johnson - Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe - 23rd September 2016 (20/10/16 paperback)
Holly Martin - Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky - 22nd September 2016
Minna Howard - A Winter Affair - 1st September 2016

Christie Barlow - Lizzie's Christmas Escape - 21st October 2016
Jenny Colgan - Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery - 20th October 2016
Caroline Roberts - The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop - 7th October 2016 (01/12/16 paperback)
Sue Moorcroft - The Christmas Promise - 6th October 2016 (01/12/16)
Sarah Morgan - Miracle on 5th Avenue - 20th October 2016
Alex Brown - Not Just For Christmas - 6th October 2016
Lisa Dickenson - Mistletoe on 34th Street - 3rd October 2016
Cathy Bramley - Comfort and Joy (short story) - 20th October 2016
Alice Ross - A Winter's Wish - 10th October 2016
Sue Watson - The Christmas Cake Café - 14th October 2016
Sophie Pembroke - Claude's Christmas Adventure - 20th October 2016
Joanna Bolouri - The Most Wonderful Time of the Year - 20th October 2016

Isabelle Broom - A Year and A Day - 17th November 2016
Phillipa Ashley - Christmas at the Cornish Cafe - 21st November 2016
Chrissie Manby - A Fairy Tale for Christmas - 3rd November 2016
Katie Fforde - Candlelight at Christmas - 24th November 2016
Julia Williams - It's A Wonderful Life - 3rd November 2016
Karen Swan - Christmas Under the Stars - 3rd November 2016
Heidi Swain - Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market - 17th November 2016
Daisy Bell - The Christmas Guest - 3rd November 2016

Matt Haig - The Girl Who Saved Christmas - 20th October 2016
Tom Fletcher - The Christmasaurus - 6th October 2016

29 July 2016

Book Review: You Had Me At Merlot by Lisa Dickenson

"Elle and Laurie are the last ones standing: they're single, they're not having babies any time soon and their weekends aren't filled with joyful meetings about mortgages. For Elle, this is fine. She likes her independent life, but Laurie wants love and she wants it now.

So when Laurie begs Elle to come with her on a singles holiday to a beautiful vineyard in Tuscany, Elle is reluctant. She has no intention of swapping her perfectly lovely life for someone else's idea of her Mr Perfect, but ten days under the Italian sun with her best friend and lashings of wine? How bad could that be?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy the book now.

I read my first book by Lisa Dickenson last Christmas and really enjoyed it, so when I saw her summer offering You Had Me At Merlot on Netgalley, I decided I had to give it a go, and I'm so pleased I did because it's become one of my favourite summer reads this year! It's the story of two best friends, Laurie and Elle who go on holiday together, simply because Laurie begs her best friend to do so, and Elle doesn't really have anything better to do! They find themselves in a beautiful Tuscan vineyard, with Elle determined she won't be finding love on their singles holidays. But when she meets the vineyard owner's son, she might be have no choice but to change her mind...

One thing I do love is a book that can make me laugh, and I have to say right off that this book definitely did that for me! There were plenty of laugh out loud moments, and I found myself giggling away as I was reading which for me is always the sign of a great read, especially when it comes to summer books! It's actually the second book I have recently with a vineyard setting, but I haven't read a book set in Tuscany in a while, so that was nice! I have been lucky enough to go to Italy myself, but never Tuscany, and Lisa's descriptions of Tuscany and the vineyards were just beautiful, it really came alive in my mind and I could picture it all really clearly as I was reading.

I really enjoyed the ensemble cast too, they were all fun characters and I enjoyed what each of them brought to the story. Elle and Laurie are the main characters in the book, but others included the lovely old vineyard owners, their son Jamie, and a rich American businessman who was more than a bit smitten with Elle, despite her desperately trying to put him off at every opportunity! Jamie was a great character - young, handsome and a hard worker, you can see why Elle had to try to stop herself from falling for him, he certainly seemed like the complete package! The other people on the holiday were fun too, and I liked that there was a broad section of people there, ensuring match-making, fun and a lot of laughs amongst each other! The humour element was definitely one of my favourite parts of the book, from a disastrous Vespa ride, and the banter between the characters was just such fun to read.

This book was a joy from start to finish, and I have to admit I fell in love with Lisa Dickenson's writing style right from the very beginning. The pace was good, there was lots going on, characters I loved and a brilliant setting - what more could you ask for?! Throw in a bit of romance, a lot of humour and a really well written story, and you've got the recipe for the perfect summer read. This is definitely one I can recommend you pack in your suitcase or on your Kindle for your summer holidays this year, and I can't wait for Lisa's next offering which is sure to be a festive treat! Fabulous read - don't miss it!

27 July 2016

Book Review: The Butterfly Summer by Harriet Evans

"What magic is this?

You follow the hidden creek towards a long-forgotten house.

They call it Keepsake, a place full of wonder ... and danger. Locked inside the crumbling elegance of its walls lies the story of the Butterfly Summer, a story you've been waiting all your life to hear.

This house is Nina Parr's birthright. It holds the truth about her family - and a chance to put everything right at last."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy the book now.

I'm a big Harriet Evans fan so was very pleased when I was sent a review copy of her latest book The Butterfly Summer to read and review. The cover was beautiful, depicting an old house in a gorgeous setting, and the blurb of the book made it sound very compelling, and something I wanted to read on and find out about. It's definitely a move away from Harriet Evans' earlier books, so how would I fare reading this, a women's fiction novel combined with historical fiction? Let's find out.

This book is the story of Nina Parr, a young woman with a past she is yet to discover. Nina has an office job, but spends much of her spare time in the National Library, working her way through the archives and reading old books, her first love. But when she bumps into someone who mistakes her for someone else, Nina is intrigued. They seem to think her father, who Nina has believed to be dead for much of her life, to be very much alive. Nina heads home, determined to find out the truth, but what she uncovers is far more shocking... welcome to Keepsake.

I have to confess that I did find the first half of the book to be quite hard going. I kept losing track of what was going on, who was who and found it all a bit confusing. I kept going back and re-reading parts to make sure I had it in my head, and there were a few points I wasn't sure if I was going to keep going. But because my curiosity had been peaked, I decided to carry on and I'm pleased that I did. The latter part of the book was much more enjoyable for me, things started coming together and I had got it sorted in my head exactly what was going on and found it far more enjoyable.

Nina was an interesting character for me. I wasn't entirely sure throughout the book if I liked her or not - there was nothing particularly likeable about her, but again there didn't seem to be much that was dislikeable either. I didn't really have an opinion about her either way which felt a bit strange for me. I was, however, interested in her story, especially when a big event happened in the middle of the book that threw everything on its head and had us heading in a new direction, that being Keepsake, the birthright of Nina that she had no idea existed before then.

The supporting cast of characters were very good, once I had got them all down and worked out who was who of course. One of my favourites was Mrs Poll, Nina's upstairs neighbour who helped Nina's mother raise her when she was younger and a single mother. Nina's mother was very unlikeable, I couldn't believe a mother could behave like that towards her child, and really did sympathise with Nina having to deal with her all the time. The arrival of Keepsake into the book was very interesting, and I enjoyed the book delving into the past history of the Parr family at the home, and how it has fallen into the disrepair and disuse it has in Nina's time. The book does go quite far back in time, to the first owner of Keepsake, and I was worried I would get more confused if more information was being thrown at me, but it was certainly eye-opening and an important part of the story.

Some of the descriptions in the book were a little long-winded for me, I far preferred the scenes with dialogue that kept me wanting more, and to find out what was going on. There were quite a few surprises along the way in the book, and I really didn't see most of them coming - it really was a shock and a great twist for the book overall, and added a whole different element to the story. I did enjoy the split narrative between Nina's time, and the more historical side of the book though, it was fascinating to read. Overall, this was certainly very different from Harriet Evans' other novels that I have read to date, and whilst it hasn't been my favourite of her stories, it was enjoyable to read. It does require a lot of concentration, particularly in the first half of the book so isn't really a book you can flit in and out of, but once I was taken in by the story, I did enjoy finding out more about Nina and her legacy at Keepsake.

23 July 2016

Book Review: The Summer Escape by Lily Graham

"Amongst the beautiful olive groves and sea-front tavernas, summer has arrived on the sun-drenched island of Crete. 

After losing the love of her life, Ria’s life has been on hold. So when her boss becomes completely unbearable she makes the snap decision to run away to the Greek island of Crete, armed only with her passport. 

When Ria finds herself working for eccentric novelist Caroline, she meets handsome vineyard owner Tom. He’s charming, mysterious and Ria starts to wonder if it’s not just the beautiful Greek island that she’s falling for. 

But as Ria gets to know Tom better, she uncovers a tangled web of secrets. What is he hiding? Ria has some secrets of her own. Can she open up to Tom and learn to live again? 

This summer, escape to the sun with this charming and emotional story about starting over and grabbing happiness with both hands. "

Rating: 5/5

You can buy the book now.

Another book I have really enjoyed reading this summer is the new book from author Lily Graham. I have to admit I was initially drawn to this book because of it's gorgeous cover on Netgalley, where I first came across it. With its gorgeous beach scene, it certainly looks like the perfect summer read, especially with a title like The Summer Escape! I eagerly got stuck in, and thoroughly enjoyed reading it!

This book is set on the Greek island of Crete, somewhere I haven't yet visited but would certainly love to, especially after reading this book. Ria decides to escape work after yet another run-in with her boss, and ends up at the airport booking herself on a flight to Crete. She recently lost her fiancé in a horrible accident, and has been struggling ever since. She finds a job working as an assistant to a novelist, and ends up making a great new friendship. As well as that, she meets local vineyard owner Tom, who has some secrets of his own that Ria is determined to puzzle out...

I really warmed to the character of Ria straight away, and admired her for her craziness in just dropping everything and heading off to warmer climes when she doesn't really know what else to do! It does seem a bit madcap, but somehow seemed the right thing for her to do, especially when you find out a bit about her past and her heartache. The other main characters of the book include Tom, the mysterious vineyard owner, who I really liked and was sure that he had nothing to do with the past tragedies that happened at the vineyard years ago. There was also novelist Caroline, who is sorting out her memoirs, and I really enjoyed reading the developing friendship between the two women.

The setting of Crete is beautiful as well, and I enjoyed the beginning of the book, when Ria is struggling in the Crete heat in her UK work outfit, with pretty much only her handbag and the clothes on her back! It sounds like an idyllic island, and I really enjoyed the descriptions of everything around Ria, and the vineyards as well. Lily Graham writes beautifully throughout the book, with a good balance between dialogue and description, and it was thoroughly enjoyable to read. I was really into the story, desperate to find out what would happen by the end and whether or not Ria would end up wanting to return home to the UK or if Crete would be her new home! This is a really enjoyable, fun summer read, and you'll definitely be wanting a summer sunshine break after reading this! Definitely recommended!

10 July 2016

Book Review: The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

"When Emmy Jamieson arrives at La Cour des Roses, a beautiful guesthouse in the French countryside, she can’t wait to spend two weeks relaxing with boyfriend Nathan. Their relationship needs a little TLC and Emmy is certain this holiday will do the trick. But they’ve barely unpacked before he scarpers with Gloria, the guesthouse owner’s cougar wife.

Rupert, the ailing guesthouse owner, is shell-shocked. Feeling somewhat responsible, and rather generous after a bottle (or so) of wine, heartbroken Emmy offers to help. Changing sheets in the gîtes will help keep her mind off her misery. 

Thrust into the heart of the local community, Emmy suddenly finds herself surrounded by new friends. And with sizzling hot gardener Ryan and the infuriating (if gorgeous) accountant Alain providing welcome distractions, Nathan is fast becoming a distant memory. 

Fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast, feeding the hens in the warm evening light; Emmy starts to feel quite at home. But it would be madness to walk away from her friends, family, and everything she’s ever worked for, to take a chance on a place she fell for on holiday – wouldn’t it?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy the book now.

Another book I have enjoyed reading this summer has been the first novel from Bookouture and Helen Pollard  - The Little French Guesthouse. This book caught my eye when I saw it being advertised on Twitter, and I was lucky enough to get hold of a review copy on Netgalley. I downloaded to my Kindle, and began reading - it was a really good read from the start, and I thoroughly enjoyed the way it was written, the characters and the setting. It's the perfect escapist read for the summer, and here's why I definitely recommend putting The Little French Guesthouse on your Kindle or in your suitcase this summer.

This book was charming from the very beginning. I was a bit unsure how I was going to feel about the whole story at the start, as I hadn't really read the blurb as it was on my Kindle, and didn't realise Emmy's boyfriend, who was rather horrible, it has to be said, wasn't sticking around. Once he left, it left us to get to know Emmy more, and for her to start her friendship with her landlord Rupert. The pairing of these two was wonderful, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading their friendship start to bloom, against the odds really! Their spouses had run off with each other, but they found solace in each other, Emmy in particular enjoyed helping Rupert on what was meant to be her holiday!

The setting of the guesthouse was enjoyable to read, and sounded quite idyllic! It's set in the French countryside, and although Emmy ventures out occasionally into the nearby town, we spend the majority of the book at Emmy and Rupert's residence, and you can see why Emmy was so reluctant to leave. It was very rustic and French, and just sounded like the perfect break from her business London job. The presence of a hunky gardener, handsome accountant and new friend in Rupert didn't stop her wanting to stay either... wonder why?!

Pollard's writing was enjoyable to read. There were a few parts where I felt the narrative was a little long-winded but I carried on through it and I'm pleased that I did. The parts with dialogue, especially between Emmy and Rupert were my favourite - I loved that their friendship transcended their age gap, and liked how Emmy was willing to help out Rupert in his time of need, and his appreciation of that help. Pollard really brought her characters to life on the page, and I enjoyed reading about what they were getting up to in and around the guesthouse, and of course what Emmy's ultimate decision about whether to return home or not would be! I really enjoyed this light-hearted summer read, and am pleased to say that there is going to be a follow-up, called Return to the Little French Guesthouse which is out on August 26th! Definitely recommended for a summer read.