Saturday, 4 July 2015

Exciting Post Today

Please excuse this brief blog post!
Some of you may have seen the large box that I received in the post today, a few of you on Twitter have been asking for a picture of what is inside which is why I decided to do this super quick blog post to show you what arrived as I didn't want to put a picture on twitter and ruin it for the other bloggers who are still waiting to get home and open their boxes.

The box contains everything we need to make a perfect Bolognese as well as a quirky instructions too!
The team at Avon have come up with such a fun and exciting well thought out package to promote The Piano Man Project by Kat Black which is released on the 30th July. 
I am really looking forward to starting this book and I am going to attempt to make the bologanse too so watch this space I will add a picture of my disastrous attempt!

Thank You so much to the team at Avon you have out done yourself here!

The Olive Branch by Jo Thomas

You can buy almost anything online these days. For Ruthie Collins, it was an Italian farmhouse. 

Yet as she battles with a territorial goat and torrential rain just to get through the door of her new Italian home, the words of Ed, her ex, are ringing in her ears. She is daft, impetuous and irresponsible. But Ruthie is determined to turn things around and live the dream. 

First, though, she must win over her fiery neighbour, Marco Bellanouvo, and his tempestuous family...and then there's the small matter of running an olive farm. 

As the seasons change and new roots are put down, olives and romance might just flourish in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun.

I was instantly drawn to The Olive Branch thanks to its alluring cover and inviting synopsis, having thoroughly enjoyed The Oyster Catcher last year I couldn’t wait to lose myself in Jo Thomas’s new release.

After her recent break up with Ed, Ruthie is dreading the prospect of having to return to her mother’s she makes a bold and somewhat crazy decision and buys a rundown Italian Farmhouse.
It soon became apparent as soon as Ruthie arrived in southern Italy that things were not going to be quite as rosy as she though it would be as she faces the first hurdle of the torrential rain and a territorial goat and that is before she even makes her way inside the farmhouse! To top matters off she then finds out that she is now in charge of running the olive farm which she doesn’t have the first clue about. Could this be the distraction she needs or will she be going home to her mums just as everyone expects.

I loved Ruthie she was such a fun character who had so many different qualities to her she had such strength and determination and even if she has doubt she would still pull herself back up and crack on with the task in hand. Her heart is in the right place and I was really routing for her the whole way through, I really wanted to see her settle down and enjoy this new life she holds in her hands. A book set in the idyllic setting of Italy wouldn’t be complete without an Italian gentleman who makes us weak at the knees! Marco was a pure gentleman who is on hand to help Ruthie and although he is finding it hard to accept that Ruthie now owns Masseria Bellanuovo he still finds himself unable to step away.

The book flows at a gentle pace and is a perfect holiday read as it has a light storyline that isn’t challenging but still manages to pull you in and at points it will even have you chuckling away as there were some witty parts to this book as well as a humorous goat called Daphne!

Jo Thomas has again managed to describe this charming Trullo in the exquisite countryside setting of Puglia in great detail that it makes it easy to visualise and the descriptions of the tastes and smells of the olives and Olive Oil were tickling the tastebuds!

This book has given me such a strong urge to visit Italy although I wouldn’t want to take on such a large challenge like Ruthie did! I would still say that The Oyster Catcher is my favourite but I still found myself charmed by this storyline.

Paperback               Kindle

Friday, 3 July 2015

Some Kind of Wonderful by Sarah Morgan

Her whole life, Puffin Islander Brittany Forrest has dreamed of adventure. And at the age of eighteen, she thought she’d found it in bad boy Zachary Flynn. But after just ten tempestuous, smouldering days, their whirlwind marriage went up in smoke, and Brittany resolved to put him out of her mind forever. 

Zach knows he let Brittany down, but being back on Puffin Island and seeing Brittany again stirs up long-buried emotions. This daredevil pilot has never felt worthy of her, yet he can’t stay away—even when he knows the chemistry between them will only complicate his life.

As long, hot summer days on the beach dissolve into sultry, starry nights, Brittany and Zach find that the sparks between them are more powerful than ever. Could it be that the second time around, their dreams of a happy-ever-after will finally come true?

Earlier this year I read First Time in Forever which is the first book in the Puffin Island series by Sarah Morgan and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of book two Some Kind of Wonderful and having just finished it I am delighted to say it is another superb read.

Brittany had her heart broken back on Puffin Island 10 years ago by bad boy Zach after he walked out on her after their wedding day, she has avoided spending time back on the Island and has made an exciting and successful life for herself but after she injures herself on her recent job she needs time to recover and so she plans to return to Puffin Island but before she even arrives on the Island she discovers that Zach has returned but with the years that have past will the pair of them have moved on or will they still hold a torch for each other?

This is another promising series by Sarah Morgan, Some Kind of Wonderful is an addictive romantic read that revisits Puffin Island and the loveable characters that were in the first book which I loved as it was great to see what has been happening to the characters we fell in love with first time around. It soon becomes apparent not a lot has changed with the locals they are still protective of their islanders and still have a way of circulating the village gossip quicker than social media! Brittany who is our heroine in this book is best friends with Emily and it is easy to see why the girls have such a strong bond as like Emily Brittany is a caring, loyal and friendly character who it is impossible not to like, although I felt sorry for her having been left by Zach in such a cowardly way she wasn’t one to wallow she was a strong and determined character.

Our bit of testosterone in this book comes in the form of bad boy Zach who only seems to be good at flying, sex, and screwing up oh and did I mention ….. sex! Zach is one of these characters that you know you should hate but you know that there is a heart in there somewhere and there is always something appealing about finding a bad boys good side!

Yes ok the storyline was predictable but I enjoyed the journey that Sarah Morgan takes us on to unravel what has happened in Zach’s past and to watch Brittany try and break those barriers he has built up. The book is an entertaining, light, romantic read that also touches on some serious and emotive topics too.

First Time in Forever is still my favourite but this was still a superb read and will not disappoint those readers who loved the first book. I cannot wait to read Christmas Ever After next to catch up with the characters again and get to know Sky more although I already have my arrow waiting to shoot Richard in the bum!

Kindle                   Paperback

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Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements

Anna and her husband Matteo are ready to embark a delicious Italian adventure. After a year and a half running their ice cream shop on Brighton beach and raising their baby Isabella, Matteo is starting to miss Italy. A shared passion for ices means it's easy to settle on a new business idea - they'll open a shop in Sorrento's cobbled square, a short walk from the sparkling blue sea. For a while, life is sweet; but then Matteo's overbearing family get involved … 

Anna's younger sister Imogen feels like things are finally coming together - she's living with boyfriend Finn in a beach house in Brighton, and her photography is taking off. Then her career stalls, and the lure of Capri - and a man from her past - prove difficult to resist.

I still remember reading Abby Clements debut book Meet Me Under the Mistletoe and being blown away by what an incredible read it was especially for a first book. I have read each of her books since and they have all been easy 5* reviews and her writing style has grown with each book but I have to say out of her books it is the characters from Vivien’s Heavenly Ice Cream Shop who have stayed with me and I was really hoping that there would be a sequel to this book as there still seemed to be more to be told about Anna and Imogen so you can imagine my delight when I found out that they were both returning in The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop.

Business is booming in Vivien’s and Anna and partner Matteo are so passionate about their job everything seems to be going well but Matteo is really missing home and really wants to return to Italy and give daughter Bella a taste of the Italian life. Anna takes a chance and between them they come up with a plan to open up a new shop in Sorrento.

With things going so well for her sister Imogen finds herself at a cross roads, feeling anxious in her relationship at the thought of taking things to the next level and settling down and her career has taken a nose dive.

It was no surprise to me that Abby Clements has again struck gold providing us with another summer delight that transported me away to the Amalfi Coast I feel like I have returned from an idyllic holiday!

The books pulls you in straight from the Prologue and managed to capture my attention the whole way through thanks to these familiar friendly characters and the tantalising menu of desserts, cocktails  and ice cream! The authors manages to make her descriptions of not only the treats but of the settings really easily to visualise, the square where Anna and Matteo opened their new shop just felt so tranquil and welcoming I would love to have been sitting by the fountain reading this book!
I really enjoyed the relationship between Anna and her mother in-law as I could really relate to it but looking on the outside in I actually found it quite funny too!

I thought this was a superb sequel and I was so pleased to catch up with Anna and Imogen to see what life has thrown at them since the previous book and I wasn’t disappointed. I do think you could read this as a standalone but the first book Is such a treat and so you wouldn’t want to miss out so treat yourself to both books and a tub of lemon sorbet to go with it!

Kindle                     Paperback

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Greedily Yours by Emma Hamilton Review and Extract

Extract – Greedily Yours Episode 1

 Just as she reached the end of the station, a muddy Land Rover that had also seen better days hurtled around the corner, indicating to turn in. Mia waved frantically, but the Land Rover’s driver didn’t seem to see her. This road was normally full of people driving back from a day out, why was there no one today just when I need a lift? 
About fifteen minutes later, whilst Mia was thinking about whether she’d have the strength to drag her bags the two miles to the manor, the rumble of the Land Rover engine reached her ears. This time it was going at a slightly more sedate pace and she once again tried to flag it down, but before she’d disentangled herself from her bags, the driver slowed, and leaned out with an angry look on his face. “Why didn’t you wait at the bloody station you idiot?” He threw at her with a broad Cornish accent. Mia, taken aback, didn’t quite know what to say, realising gradually that this was the man she’d seen on the station about 40 minutes earlier. Instead, she stood gaping with her mouth open and closing like a fish out of water. 
 “This is the second time I’ve had to drive up here,” continued the driver angrily. “Today of all days. Well, you’d better get in, instead of standing their gawping at me like a bloody fish,” He finished, shaking his head so that his curls somewhat covered the angry flashes in his eyes. 
 Mia finally managed to stutter, “Are you from the manor then?” and then more peremptorily, “And where’s Lord Trelawney?” 
“Of course I’m from the manor,” said the driver, “Will you just get in, I haven’t got all bloody day. People from London - they really think they own the place,” he muttered a bit quieter. 
 Mia threw her bags in the back on top of a blanket covered in dog hairs and next to a large black Labrador which was panting slightly in the humidity. The driver revved up the engine as Mia hurried around to the other side to jump up into the cab before he could change his mind.
 As she glanced in the rear view mirror, she saw to her horror that the dog was busy investigating the picnic, had nosed open the wicker basket, and had lavender butter cream topping all around its whiskers. 
“Your dog appears to be eating my picnic,” said Mia, not wanting to upset this horrible man any more than she had to, in case he decided to throw another stream of invective and anger at her. 
“Well what do you expect if you put a basket of food on its blanket, he’s a dog, of course he’s going to think it’s for him,” said the man raising his eyebrows but this time there appeared to be a slight twinkle in them, too. 
Mia felt like crying, all her carefully laid plans were crumbling as they bounced and hurtled along the high country lanes past waving tamarisk and jumbled hedgerows towards the manor. The driver was a man of few words, apart from grumbling under his breath about Londoners and so she sat tight and kept quiet, biting her lip so as not to blub and ruin the last of her make-up which had started to run down her cheeks and smudge in the outer corners of her eyes. 
Finally they arrived at the tall wrought iron gates of the manor and the driver crunched to a halt on the gravel. “Well are you going to work for your living?” he said to Mia, indicating with a jerk of his head that she should get out and open the gates. 
 She obediently hopped out, hating this angry, rude, but annoyingly attractive man and opened the gates, dragging the heavy iron across the gravel, and grazing her foot along with it. When he’d driven inside, Mia followed hopping slightly and smarting at the pain in her foot. Not wanting the man to make another flippant comment she tried to hide what had happened and walked and hobbled to the back to get her luggage. 
 “Don’t,” shouted the man gruffly, “you’ll let the dog out and we’re not stopping here.” He stomped around to the back, commanding the dog, “Django, stay.” And then hauled Mia’s bags from the car unceremoniously, by now covered in dog hair and mud. “Do you know where to go?” grunted the man, seeming to soften and calm down slightly. “We normally start in the summer house,” squeaked out Mia and he nodded in the affirmative and turned to leave.

 “Be seeing you then,” he said and waved as he turned away. Not likely thought Mia, trying to figure out what would convince Lord Trelawney to hire such a rude man. 

 Greedily Yours (eight episodes) is published twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays from 15th June, price £1.49 each.

My Review

Greedily Yours  Taste Test is part one of a series of 8 eBooks which follow Mia Maxwell who has an intense love of food which she likes to share with others through her foodie blog alongside her day job as a food PR consultant. Her best friend Lizzie makes the most delicious cakes which Mia describes in such mouth-watering detail! This book is not safe to be reading whilst on a diet as you will be drooling over your kindle and if the descriptions of the food is not dangerous enough we are also treated to the recipes too which is a great added bonus!

I am not a fan of novella’s or episodes of books as I always prefer to read them as a whole novel but I must admit I did really enjoy this one as although it was a quick read which I finished in an hour I did find that there was a lot involved in the storyline and the characters were each developed well too so I didn’t feel cheated by it being a short episode like I usually find when reading them and I have found myself left eagerly awaiting the next episode to see what happens to Mia next.

This is the perfect title for this book Taste Test as it gives you a small taster of what to expect from the following episodes, we have been introduced to our characters and we now are left waiting to see what the events of episode one will have on Mia and her relationship.

Perfect for a light hearted, easy read with a splash of romance and a big helping of foodie delights to pass the time by on your way to work or for lazing around the pool this Summer.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Cherry Tree Cafe by Heidi Swain

Lizzie Dixon's life feels as though it's fallen apart. Instead of the marriage proposal she was hoping for from her boyfriend, she is unceremoniously dumped, and her job is about to go the same way. 

So, there's only one option: to go back home to the village she grew up in and to try to start again. Her best friend Jemma is delighted Lizzie has come back home. She has just bought a little cafe and needs help in getting it ready for the grand opening. And Lizzie's sewing skills are just what she needs.

With a new venture and a new home, things are looking much brighter for Lizzie. But can she get over her broken heart, and will an old flame reignite a love from long ago...? 

I happened to stumble across Heidi Swain’s blog in January and I have enjoyed finding out snippets about the book, the excitement when the publication date was announced and the stunning cover revealed, I have been eagerly awaiting the chance to read The Cherry Tree Café as it has been one I have been really looking forward to.

Lizzie has had her life turned upside down, what started off as a hopeful day soon ended in one of the worse days of her life as she has been pampered and treated like a princess she had hopes that by the end of the day a marriage proposal would have finished the day perfectly but she couldn’t have been more wrong.

Lizzie now has to decide what it is she wants to do with her life and as she heads back to her home where her friend Jemma is only too pleased to see her she is hopeful Lizzie will be able to help her and husband Tom with their new project of opening The Cherry Tree Café.

This book was everything I hoped it would be and more, as soon as I started this book the storyline had me captivated and I couldn’t put it down so I ended up reading it in one sitting. The storyline is so uplifting and cheerful even though both the main characters and supporting characters do face challenging times but they all pull through to help one another with their various problems.
The author has a great skill in descriptive writing, she set the scene perfectly in the quaint little Cherry Tree Café I could really visualise the ladies ( and gent ) sitting in The Cherry Tree Café making reams of bunting whilst eating the delicious signature Cherry and Chocolate cupcakes  surrounded by all the quirky original upcycled furniture.

Lizzie was a delightful and warm-hearted heroine and each of the supporting character were all very believable, down to earth characters who all brought their own little something to the storyline. Jemma was everything you could hope for in a best friend, generous, loving and supportive and she really was superwoman managing to make her dream a reality whilst still juggling being a mother too, she was a favourite character of mine alongside Lizzie.

Lizzie has such a great skill when it comes to crafting and you could feel how passionate she was but at times her heart was preventing her from jumping in with both feet and I found myself urging her to take a leap of faith as I could see it was sure to be worth it in the end. At times I wanted to throttle her in frustration as she was a little naïve but I really did love her character.

I loved the mystery and suspense that the author created around Ben, I had an idea or two in my head what his story could be but I will hold my hands up and say the author managed to pull the wool over my eyes!

I really feel that this is a praiseworthy debut by Heidi Swain, she has ticked all the boxes for me, engaging characters, descriptive writing, captivating storyline, perfect setting with a splash of romance and mystery thrown in too. It was a charming and vibrant read that had me hooked the whole way through, I really hope that there is a sequel to this book as I still feel like there is more of these characters story to be told so people with the power please lock Heidi away and don’t let her emerge until we have another installment!


Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Other Child by Lucy Atkins

When Tess is sent to photograph Greg, a high profile paediatric heart surgeon, she sees something troubled in his face, and feels instantly drawn to him. 

Their relationship quickly deepens, but then Tess, single mother to nine-year-old Joe, falls pregnant, and Greg is offered the job of a lifetime back in his hometown of Boston. Before she knows it, Tess is married, and relocating to the States. But life in an affluent American suburb proves anything but straightforward. 

Unsettling things keep happening in the large rented house. Joe is distressed, the next-door neighbours are in crisis, and Tess is sure that someone is watching her. Greg's work is all-consuming and, as the baby's birth looms, he grows more and more unreachable. 

Something is very wrong, Tess knows it, and then she makes a jaw-dropping discovery...

The Other Child is the first book I have read by Lucy Atkins. The synopsis sounded promising and mysterious so I was looking forward to reading this book.

Tess and her son Joe are taking a big step and moving to the States after Greg who is Tess’s new husband gets offered his dream job back in his home town. Things are difficult for Tess, she is trying to make a new life in a country that is completely new to her and with Greg working so much she seems to be facing the challenges alone whilst carrying his unborn baby and trying to settle son Joe into a new school. With a lot of extra time on her hands Tess begins to notice things that seem rather odd and unsettling but can she get to the bottom of the mystery as things just do not add up.

It did take me a while to settle into this book as it flows at a slow pace but as the book progressed I could see that the slow pace was to create tension and suspense and it did work although I did find myself flying through the pages just to try and uncover more clues to figure out what the big mystery was. I loved that the book managed to keep me guessing through the majority of the book.

Each of the characters were developed really well, Tess was instantly lovable as was son Joe but I did find straight from meeting Greg that something just wasn’t right about him so I had my guard up all the way through just waiting for something to unravel and show his true colours.

The book did have the potential to be a 4 star but the reason this book lost a star for me was although I know this was a whirlwind romance between Tess and Greg, I just didn’t find the relationship between them believable. There didn’t seem to be a romantic connection to each other they were more like housemates ( on the rare time Greg came home) than Husband and Wife especially considering Tess had given everything up to follow Greg around the world. Greg wasn’t a loving or supportive character.  I also found that the storyline did feel rather drawn out.

I loved the way the author wrapped the book up, the ending was realistic rather than sugar coated and I was pleased with the outcome.

I would still pick up another book by Lucy Atkins as she manages to create a storyline with mystery and suspense. She also manages to give great depth to her characters so after hearing great things about her book The Missing One I will be picking this one up next.

Paperback               Kindle
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