#BookReview Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby

When a mini-break becomes make or break…

Kathy Courage has never visited the famous Italian city of Florence before, so she’s thrilled when she and her boyfriend Neil are invited there for a wedding. Unfortunately, with Neil’s constant complaining and his teenage children in tow, it’s not exactly the romantic break Kathy was hoping for.

But when a mix-up with her flights leaves Kathy stranded in the city, she decides to embrace the unexpected and stay on alone.

What follows is a life-changing few days in the Tuscan sun, as Kathy begins to question the choices that have led her here. With the help of the colourful Innocenti family, who offer Kathy a place to stay, she gradually begins to realise that there’s a much bigger world out there, if only she can be brave enough to explore it.

Could Italy hold the answers to her future happiness? Or is Kathy destined to return to her old life?
 

published by Hodder & Stoughton

MY REVIEW

This was a really fun and charming read, as we get to spend time in the company of Kathy and, unfortunately, her long term boyfriend and his kids (all of them are brats!!), as they are in Florence for his brothers’ wedding. It’s been a dream of Kathys for years to spend time in Italy and she’s hoping to make the most of her time there – shame Neil and his children seem to just want to make her life hell, and I found myself shouting at Kathy so many times to dump them and have fun on her own! The woman was a bloody saint for being so nice to them!!

And that’s what happens when there is a mix up over the flights home, and Kathy has to stay behind. Neil is very uncomfortable about leaving her behind as it’s messing his plans up and he even has to deal with his own bratty kids while she’s there – good!! Thankfully Kathy meets a lovely family who invite her into their home/hotel after a bad experience she has, and this time seeing the good in people really helps Kathy see what she is missing and she gets to explore and experience Florence in her own time – and without the constant moaning of Neil who is still trying his best to get her back home ASAP as he finds it a massive inconvenience. The more you read about Neil, the more you wonder what she ever saw in the man!!

I adored the setting, and just loved seeing Kathy get to spread her wings and stand on her own two feet – she’s always been a bit too happy to follow what others wanted but that never made her happy so when she finally starts doing what she likes, she discovers how much happier life can be! This was a real feel good story and I could have happily spent more time with Kathy in Florence!

★★★★

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#BookReview The Secret To Happiness by Jessica Redland

ABOUT THE BOOK

Danniella is running from her past, so when she arrives at the beautiful seaside resort of Whitsborough Bay, the last thing on her mind is making friends. After all, they might find out her secrets… Alison is fun, caring and doesn’t take herself too seriously. But beneath the front, she is a lost soul, stuck in a terrible relationship, with body confidence issues and no family to support her. All she really needs is a friend. Karen’s romance has taken a back seat to her fitness business. But she doesn’t want to give up on love quite yet. If only those mysterious texts would stop coming through… When the women meet at their local bootcamp, a deep friendship blossoms. And soon they realise that the secret to happiness is where they least expected to find it…

published by BOLDWOOD BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

How have I let this author pass me by?! My first Jessica Redland book but definitely not my last and I’m already looking forward to catching up with the others she has written if this one is anything to go by! I found myself totally swept up in the lives of these women – cheering on their achievements, despairing with them at the down moments in their lives, and just wanting to meet up with them all and sharing a drink or two!

This is a book about 3 women – Karen, Alison and Daniella – who live very different lives but are brought together as only fate can determine and soon find themselves supporting one another in more ways they can ever imagine.

Alison is feeling trapped in her life with Dave – he was there for her at the beginning when she needed him, but now he’s constantly on at her about her weight (I have to admit to wanting her to thump him on more than one occasion!!) and taking her for granted. So she comfort eats to stop feeling so bad – and so the cycle of hate and pity continues. But one day she finds herself helping a jogger who has fallen over, and this new friendship spurs her on to make changes in her life.

The jogger she helps is Daniella – a very guarded woman who is hiding something but she’s not opening up to anyone – when she does eventually find the strength to talk about her past your heart just breaks for her.

And then there’s Karen – running a PT business with her other half, Ryan – she seemingly has it all, but there are cracks beginning to show and she’s another woman with a tragic past and the support of her new friends Alison and Daniella is a great comfort to her when she seems to attract a stalker and the walls start tumbling down around her.

I loved the support network on show in this story! The way the women were all there for one another – there was no judging, they were just there to cheer one another on and to lean on when needed. I did find myself getting a little infuriated by some of the decisions the women were making , but the more you found out about their pasts then the more it became clear why they were so willing to make certain moves.

None of the women were perfect and it was good to see them in real life situations and dealing with things in ways the reader could relate to and I found myself outraged and delighted in equal measures as certain situations played out! A proper uplifting read!!

★★★★

My thanks to Boldwood Books/Netgalley for the ecopy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview Escape to Giddywell Grange by Kim Nash

ABOUT THE BOOK

A dog’s life is just what Maddy needs

Maddy Young thought she had it all.

Swanky city apartment? – yep. Fancy car? sorted. High-flying career? – tick.

Even if she’s lost most of her friends because of spending all her time at work, and can’t remember when she last had fun, it’s worth it.

Until she’s suddenly made redundant. Now she’s 37, jobless, and after the breakup with the former love of her life, unhappily single.

Enter Maddy’s childhood friend, Beth, the owner of Growlers, the doggy daycare centre at Giddywell Grange, on a mission to make Maddy see there’s more to life than work.

Soon, Maddy is swapping spreadsheets for volunteer duty at the library, daily Starbucks for cups of tea with elderly neighbours, and her Prada handbag for doggy poo bags… And with Beth’s gorgeous brother, Alex, back from the States, Maddy starts to think that Giddywell Grange might just be her happy place.

But when her old life – and her old boyfriend – comes calling, will Maddy go back to the job she loved so much? Or will she discover that the key to happiness lies in making others happy?

PUBLISHED BY  HERA

PUBLICATION DATE – 18th September 2019

PRE-ORDER LINK

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

I adored this book! From the first page to the last I was totally transfixed by Madison and her life after she was kicked out of the job she devoted herself to for 12 years, when she was expecting promotion and praise for all the work she’d done! Trust nobody!!

She’d got used to the lifestyle her work afforded her, so to have no job is a big wake up call to her. What’s she supposed to do with her life now? She tries to apply for new jobs but they don’t live up to her expectations, so when she reconnects with her old friend Beth she finally starts seeing life from a different perspective – Beth is one of life’s good guys – always there helping out others, and has recently set up a doggy daycare and boarding business and has never been happier. She may not have the swanky apartment or the money that Madison had but she has job satisfaction, and the more time that Madison spends with her friend, the more she begins to see that there is more to life than the office and money!

This story also shows the true value of right place, right time and that the kindness of strangers can often lead to new discoveries. I really loved how fate plays its’ role throughout the story and when Beth has to hand over some of her volunteering exploits to Madison it was so touching to see how simple things brought joy to those people. Brought a tear to my eye as well as to Madison when she realises the impact these little acts of kindness can bring to so many people.

While she’s back in Giddywell she also starts spending more time with her mum and that leads to new revelations about her past, and dealing with her ex also plays heavy on her mind too – just when things start to be going somewhere with the lovely Alex too!!

This is a story that really connected with me and it was told with such warmth and humour too! There are emotional aspects that are dealt with sympathetically too and I found it to be a story that had a little bit of everything and I didn’t want it to end! I want to live and work in Giddywell! Wonderful!!

★★★★★

#BookReview The Map of Us by Jules Preston #bookblogger #TheMapOfUs

About the book

One of the most original and charming books you will ever read, this is perfect for all those who love Eleanor Oliphant and The Keeper of Lost Things

Readers love The Map of Us:

A story that will melt even the most hardened soul … utterly charming’ Irish Times bestseller Carmel Harrington

‘Quirky, original and humorous’ USA Today bestselling author Sue Fortin

Totally addictive’ Joe Heap

‘Beautiful, funny, warm and clever’ Darcie Boleyn

‘An unexpected gem of a book’ Rachel Oakes, Litsy

‘A very fresh, imaginative approach to a love story’ Kraftireader

One to keep forever’ Celia J Anderson

‘The best book I have read in many years’ Martin 6654, Amazon reviewer

‘Without doubt one of the very best books I have ever read’ TAW, Amazon reviewer

‘Buy it because every page is a treasure. Buy it because you’ll love it … over and over again!’ Mart, Amazon reviewer

So very worthy of five stars. Full of humour with touches of sadness. A true wordsmith’ Phil M, Amazon reviewer

‘I don’t usually write book reviews at 2.30 in the morning but I loved this book so much that I HAD to write my review as soon as I finished it…The characters in this book will stay with me for a long time’ Annalisa999, Amazon reviewer

‘A beautiful sigh of a book’ Mees, Amazon reviewer

***
A story of love and lost directions

Violet North is wonderfully inconvenient. Abandoned by her family and lost in an imagined world of moors and adventure, her life changes in the space of just 37 words exchanged with a stranger at her front door.

Decades later, Daniel Bearing has inherited his father’s multi-million pound business, and is utterly lost. He has no idea who he is or where his life is headed.

When Violet’s granddaughter’s marriage falls apart, Tilly, always adept with numbers, compiles a detailed statistical report to pinpoint why. But the Compatibility Index Tilly creates has unforeseen consequences for everyone in her world.

Tilly and Daniel share a secret too. 10.37am, April 22nd.
Soon, a complex web of secrets and lies is exposed and an adventure begins with a blue typewriter…
 
Published by Harper Impulse
Publication Date – 6th September 2018
 
Pre-order Links
 
 

MY REVIEW

Charming, Quirky, Perceptive – loved it!

I found this to be such a fun, emotional and original story , and the short, snappy chapters really gave this such a fresh feel compared to some other books! It does take a short while before you become used to the flitting between characters and timelines, but once you are in that zone the story just flows really nicely and you find yourself eagerly anticipating each new chapter to see whose story you’ll be plunged back into next and where their journey will lead to!

It’s the story of families, the journeys we all take through life, finding the meaning of happiness and all that entails! From Tilly who works in market research and analyzes every aspect of her life into charts and facts, to Violet who is housebound and extremely creative, to Jack who is a world expert on the colour blue, to Daniel the workaholic who is never out of a suit, and to Katherine who is slightly obsessed with buying handbags! All the characters share a link and it is fascinating to see how it all links together and how those personalities all affect one another.

There are so many things you’ll find yourself thinking about when you read this book! There are many random observations that you often wonder why they’re being mentioned, but it all begins to make sense by the end!

Each character has such a different way of having their story told and this was another clever aspect of the book. It helped sum up their personalities and their stories in different ways. If you loved the quirkiness of Eleanor Oliphant or The Keeper of Lost Things, then you’ll love this too!!

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for my advance reading e-copy.

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#BlogTour The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma by Karen King #GuestPost #Extract

Delighted to be hosting the stop today for this Blog Tour on behalf of Accent Press and Karen King!  As well as a little Guest Post by Karen herself on the inspiration for writing this book, there is also an excerpt for you to enjoy!!! 

ABOUT THE BOOK

From the bestselling author of The Cornish Hotel By The Sea 

Every summer has a story… Fun-loving travel rep Jess doesn’t want to be chief bridesmaid at her snooty cousin’s wedding, but it will cause a family feud if she refuses. She doesn’t want to fall in love either but when a raucous stag party arrives at her Majorcan hotel, Jess hits it off instantly with best man, Eddie. A summer romance is exactly what commitment-phobe Jess needs and, as the stag-do draws to a close, so does the holiday fling. She has no intentions of carrying on the summer fun but when Eddie turns up again, Jess is faced with a big dilemma.
Will this bridesmaid get the happy-ever-after she never knew she wanted…

Publisher Accent Press

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk

Book Depository

GUEST POST

Here are Karen’s thoughts on where she got the inspiration from for writing this fabulous new release!

The inspiration for The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma came from a few sources.

I’ve often admired the stamina and friendliness of the holiday reps at the resorts I’ve been to, they seem to be on duty all day and evening and have to deal with a variety of problems and awkward guests. There was a stag party on board one of our holiday flights, they were very raucous but good-natured, and these two things formed the seeds of a story about a holiday rep having a fling with a member of a stag party staying at the hotel where she worked. Then my husband, Dave, booked a trip to Majorca for our third wedding anniversary and that was the inspiration for the setting.

I enjoyed writing this dance scene because it showed how fun-loving, outgoing and popular Jess is, and is the instigation for the growing attraction between Jess and Eddie. I got the inspiration for the scene from a nightclub Dave and I went to in Crete a few years ago. We’d got engaged that day on Santorini, and the reps at our hotel invited a group of us to the nightclub that evening. We had a fantastic time, there were bubbles and foam everywhere and a couple of the women were dancing like Jess and Libby, with a crowd around them clapping and cheering.  I love the atmosphere at clubs, where everyone looks like they’re having such a good time, and I enjoy watching people dance. I’m a people watcher – and I’ll get up and dance myself if I’ve had a couple of Bacardis!

☀☀☀☀☀

And now here’s a little extract from The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma for you all to enjoy!!

One of the fantastic things about being a holiday rep was the social life. That, and the sun, and all the countries she got to visit. Last season she’d been stationed in Tenerife and the season before that it had been Barcelona. It was hard work, long hours, and sometimes the rooms were pretty basic – a few times she’d had to share with another rep –but she loved the job.

Libby was dancing with Damián, Marta, and a group of holidaymakers. She waved to them and Kurt grinned.

‘Go on, I can see you’re itching to dance. I’ll go to the bar and get the drinks.’

        ‘Thanks. You’re a star,’ Jess told him, giving him a peck on the cheek then heading off to join Libby and the others. She only had a couple of hours to dance, and she intended to make the most of it.

 ***

 Eddie recognised her as soon as he walked in. The bright red hair was a dead giveaway, although now it was hanging loose around her shoulders instead of tied up in a ponytail, and she was wearing a strappy silver mini-dress rather than the yellow T-shirt and faded denim shorts she’d worn this afternoon. Very sexy. There was a carefree air about her, a suggestion that she didn’t conform, wasn’t scared to be different. It intrigued him. Jess, that’s what the hotel manager had called her.

He watched as she kissed a fair-haired guy on the cheek then went over to join a group of people dancing while the guy went up to the bar. Were they an item, he wondered. Someone as gorgeous as Jess was bound to be taken.

‘I’ll get the first round in,’ Ross said. ‘What you all having?’

‘Jack Daniels for me,’ said Greg.

Eddie tore his eyes away from Jess and followed Ross to the bar. When they returned with their drinks, a crowd had gathered around Jess and a woman with long dark hair, and people were cheering and clapping as they both danced in the middle of the floor. Jess tossed her long hair, shook her lithe hips and rocked it like there was no tomorrow. While the other woman was gyrating, twirling, twerking, you name it, her black satin halter-neck jumpsuit clinging to her body like a second skin, emphasising her long legs, slender frame and sun-tanned skin. She was pretty, in a conventional sort of way, but Jess was striking. And had curves to die for.

Greg followed his gaze. ‘Hey, isn’t that the lass who helped us sort out our rooms at the hotel?  Who’s that stunner with her?’

‘Probably another rep. Good dancers, aren’t they?’

‘Cool it, mate, getting off with a couple of chicks is not what this stag weekend is all about,’ Ross told him.

‘You might be chained, but the rest of us aren’t,’ Greg said, walking over to join the group around the two dancers.

‘It’d only be polite to say hello, she did help us out,’ Matt said, following Greg.

Ross shrugged his shoulders. ‘I guess so.’

Greg and Matt joined the circle around the two girls, clapping and stamping their feet along with the rest. Tony and Sam followed them. Ross and Eddie looked at each other, shrugged then walked over, too. When the song had finished, the crowd gave the girls resounding applause.

Eddie saw Jess glance over at him, smile and wave. Then she and her friend both walked over to the bar to get a drink.

‘Let’s go and talk to them,’ Greg said. ‘I’d like to meet the friend.’

Eddie followed him, feeling ridiculously pleased that it wasn’t Jess Greg was interested in.

 ***

‘Don’t look now, but there’s a group of guys coming over to us. And they’re pretty fit.’

Jess turned her head slightly and saw that it was Eddie and one of the others from the stag group. She’d hoped he’d come over. All the while she was dancing she felt his eyes on her. He really was something. She wouldn’t mind spending a bit of time with him.

Take it easy, he’s probably got a girlfriend, she reminded herself. In her experience, guys in stag parties were always trying it on, conveniently forgetting their girlfriend/partner back at home.

Still, as a rep at the hotel he was staying at, she had to be friendly.

‘That was some dance.’ The other man – Greg according to his T-shirt – said, his eyes on Libby. Sandy-haired, a roguish twinkle in his blue eyes, just the right amount of stubble on his chiselled-chin, the sort of smooth operator with a ‘bad lad’ air that Libby always went for but had never appealed to Jess. Good job he wasn’t the groom.

Libby, true to form, flashed him a megawatt smile. ‘Thanks.’

‘Hello again,’ He nodded at Jess, but it was obvious his attention was on Libby. ‘Thanks for helping us sort the rooms out.’ Greg was slurring his words slightly. They’d probably been drinking all afternoon and evening, taking advantage of the cheap drinks here.

‘You’re welcome,’ Jess replied. ‘Which hotel did you get sent to?’

‘The one over the road.’

‘Oh, this is the stag party you told me about,’ Libby said. ‘Now which one of you is the stag?’

‘Ross,’ Greg pointed his thumb at Ross. ‘Are you a rep at the hotel, too?’ He pointed to the name on the front of his T-shirt. ‘I’m Greg.’

‘So, I see.’ Libby shook the hand he offered. ‘I’m Libby. And yes, I’m a rep, too. Glad you managed to get your rooms sorted out. Manuel is a stickler for obeying the rules.’

‘Thanks to Jess,’ Eddie joined in. ‘We haven’t been properly introduced, have we? Hello, Jess.’ He leaned forward and kissed her on both cheeks, soft sensual lips fleetingly touching her skin, a heady waft of after-shave, warm breath enticingly close. She felt a bit dizzy.  She must have drunk more than she realised.

‘I am Édouard, Eddie.’

Édouard. She mentally rolled the name around on her tongue. Nice. It seemed a shame to shorten it.

‘Er… hi.’

‘Thank you for your help, Jess.’ Every time he spoke it sent goose bumps down her spine.

‘It was nothing,’ she replied.

Greg was looking at Libby as if he’d never seen anyone as amazing as her before. Libby often had that effect on men.

‘Let me buy you and your friend a drink to say thank you. It would have been a really difficult situation without your help.’

‘Thanks, vodka and coke please,’ Libby replied before Jess could decline. Not that she was about to, not with Eddie looking at her like that.

‘And you?’ Greg looked questioningly at Jess.

She smiled and nodded. ‘A vodka and coke for me too, please.’

☀☀☀☀☀

Thank you for stopping by Books and Me today!

#BookReview The Lido by Libby Page

ABOUT THE BOOK

A tender, joyous debut novel about a cub reporter and her eighty-six-year-old subject—and the unlikely and life-changing friendship that develops between them.

Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.

But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat.

As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure. Meanwhile, Rosemary slowly, finally, begins to open up to Kate, transforming them both in ways they never knew possible.

In the tradition of Fredrik Backman, The Lido is a charming, feel-good novel that captures the heart and spirit of a community across generations—an irresistible tale of love, loss, aging, and friendship.

Published by Orion

Hardcover page count – 384

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

I adored this book! From the first few pages you are immediately drawn into the world of Kate, who is struggling with anxiety in the world she lives in and often shuts herself away in her flat. She works at the local paper and is soon given the chance of writing a story about the local Lido which is soon to be demolished. Kate doesn’t know that working on this story is set to change her life and her outlook and help banish some of those demons living inside her head.

Rosemary is 86 and a regular swimmer at the Lido. It has become her second home since the loss of her beloved husband, and the thought of it no longer being there springs her into action to try and save the little piece of heaven that means so much to her and many others in the community. To the ‘men in suits’ it is just a building, but to those who use the Lido it means so much more – where romances start, friendships are made, childhood memories abound – and to lose that can be devastating for those living in the area.

Kate is sent to interview Rosemary and the most wonderful and touching friendship begins these two women and it was just a delight to read how this bond strengthens throughout, how they both help each other personally and of what can be achieved when people in a community pull together.

I loved the sense of community throughout, and also how we see that despite the struggles that both characters face throughout, there is always that thread of hope and how unlikely friendships blossom. Kate and Rosemary are two amazing characters as well – Kate suffers with anxiety and you get a real sense of the terror she often feels in those moments when the walls seem to be closing in on her, and Rosemary is still struggling with life without her beloved George and it was so joyous to look back on their life together through her eyes.

I had tears in my eyes by the end but my heart was filled with so much love and all the feels and I cannot recommend this book highly enough!  If you loved Eleanor Oliphant by Gail Honeyman, or A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, then this is the book for you!

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The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness by Laura Kemp #BookReview

When Ceri Price arrives in the small seaside village in West Wales, she only means to stay for a couple of nights – long enough to scatter her mother’s ashes, and then go back to her life as a successful make-up entrepreneur.

But when a case of mistaken identities means she lands a job as the barmaid in the local pub, she unexpectedly finds friendship, and perhaps a chance at love.

But when the plans for a new housing estate put the local woodland under threat, she fears the way of life here could disappear.

Then mysterious acts of kindness start springing up around the village – a string of bunting adorns the streets, a new village signpost appears out of nowhere and someone provides paint to spruce up the houses on the seafront. Who is behind these acts of kindness and can they help in the race to save the village from the faceless developers…?

Welcome to the Village of Love. Where friendship flourishes and love blossoms…

BUYING LINKS

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support a local bookstore

Amazon UK

Book Depository

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Kemp writes tender but hilarious romantic comedies which are unashamed love letters to the everywoman.
Her uplifting message – based on the notion that everything is research apart from the rude bits – is ‘You Don’t Know How Brilliant You Are!’.
A journalist who has written for The Guardian, The Daily Mail and The Sun amongst others, she is married with a son in Cardiff, where she pretends to be a domestic revolutionary so she doesn’t have to do the ironing. Runs to eat crisps and drink wine, adores her mates and loves her dog, Lego and sweary cross-stitch.

Follow the Author on Twitter @Laurajanekemp

MY REVIEW

 

I won this book in  a GoodReads giveaway and knew it was going to be my kind of book from the cover! Such an idyllic setting!

This was a charming and easy to read book that was a perfect escape on a rainy afternoon!

Ceri finds herself in Wales after the death of her beloved mother, in a place where she’s never been before but immediately finds herself at home amongst the villagers and she finds this pace of life refreshing and comfortable. The more time she spends away from her old life, the more she finds herself and discovers there’s more to life than the crazy world she lived in before.

I loved the setting and the variety of characters. There were secrets galore that were revealed along the way which made the journey Ceri faced really interesting. Loved the humour too! I would have liked more focus on the random acts of kindness as I often found that they were forgotten about and could have played a much bigger role in the story and impact on the village. But it still made for a really enjoyable read and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future!

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