28 June 2015

eBook Review: Return to Bluebell Hill by Rebecca Pugh

"Home is where the heart is…

Jessica McAdams has never belonged anywhere; never truly felt at home. Of course, what did she expect from parents who never made her feel welcome in her own house? Leaving her life in London to return home to the charming country village of Bluebell Hill is harder than she thought. Especially as she never considered she’d be returning under such heart wrenching circumstances…

Clearing out the stunning and imposing Bluebell House after her parents’ death is difficult for Jessica—they never had the best relationship and now it’s too late. Yet spending time in the house that was never a home, having afternoon tea with dear old friend Esme—and sharing hot, sizzling kisses with delectable gardener Rueben!—opens Jessica’s eyes to the potential of Bluebell House… Could this big old, beautiful manor really be her forever home? Is Bluebell Hill where her heart is, has always been?

Jessica soon dares to dream of her very own home with delicious Rueben by her side. But when a deep, dark secret of Bluebell House is unearthed, Jessica’s world is turned upside down…

Will Jessica ever find where her heart truly lies?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Return to Bluebell Hill as an eBook now.

One of the most anticipated eBooks this year for me has been the debut novel from author and fellow blogger Rebecca Pugh. We have all been eagerly awaiting the release of this, for what has felt like months now, so when I was sent an ARC to review a few weeks ago, I couldn't wait to get stuck in and read Rebecca's debut book. The cover itself, by publishers Carina, is gorgeous and definitely in keeping with the story of the book, and certainly made me want to read it, sure I would love what was inside. Luckily, I thoroughly enjoyed the read. So without further ado, here's my review of Return to Bluebell Hill.

The story is based around the character of Jessica McAdams. She didn't have a very happy childhood growing up at Bluebell House, with her parents, but not too much detail is given here about why that was. She was pretty much raised by family friend Esme, and Jessica was keen to escape the village of Bluebell Hill as soon as she was able to. Now she lives and works in London, and thought she had left her past behind her. But when she receives some sad news, she knows she must return to her childhood home once more and perhaps lay her demons to rest for the final time. However, she doesn't count on bumping into Bluebell's house gardener Reuben, or reconnecting with the lovely Esme once more, and perhaps leaving home behind is harder than she had imagined...

I really liked Jessica from the beginning. I did wonder what had happened in her childhood to make her so miserable, she clearly didn't like thinking about her childhood memories and was clearly very uncomfortable at being back in Bluebell Hill once more. As the story progresses and we find out a little bit more about Jessica's family history, things start to make sense a bit more but I would have liked a little more detail regarding why Jessica had hated her childhood so much. It hasn't, however, followed her into adulthood, and she loves her dream job in publishing, and has a fabulous best friend who is very supportive - I would love to read more about those two together - they sound like they have a lot of fun!

Bluebell Hill sounded like a perfect place - with glorious bluebells dotted around, and the beautiful Bluebell House, you almost struggle to believe that Jessica would hate to return as much as she did - it sounded idyllic and you can see why Esme and Reuben loved living there so much. I loved picturing Bluebell House in my mind too, Rebecca really brings it alive with her words and the house sounded stunning. I could well imagine myself sat on the porch or in the garden amongst the beautiful plants, it sounded heavenly. I was desperate for Jessica to change her mind about getting rid of the house, it sounded too perfect to be rid of.

Reuben was a fantastic love interest for Jessica, and I enjoyed reading about him a lot! Rebecca really goes to town with her description of him - he sounds like quite a bit of a dreamboat and it's easy to see why Jessica gets swept away in her feelings for him, and tries to deny the spark between them. I really liked the inclusion of Esme too, you can really feel the love between her and Jessica, and no time apart could ruin their union, it was touching and I really liked this part of the story. Rebecca brings her characters to life so well. She keeps it focussed on a small yet lifelike group of characters that you can really care about, and want to read all about.

The pace of the book moves quite well, and I didn't find a lull in the book at all. I was keen to keep reading because there always something I wanted to find out, or read more about - mainly whether Jessica would be able to stick to her decision to sell her childhood home! I really did enjoy Rebcca Pugh's debut novel - she has a great voice for fiction, and her descriptive writing flows well, bringing to life everything on the page in your mind. At times, I felt it got a little bogged down in description where I felt some more conversation between the characters would have worked well, but that's really such a minor niggle! This is a fantastic debut, I can see why it was snapped up by Carina, and it makes me excited for a fresh new voice in women's fiction. I loved it, the perfect light-hearted summer read. Go read it!

27 June 2015

eBook Review: From Italy With Love by Jules Wake

"‘To my niece I leave the Ferrari GT250… On the proviso that she takes it across Europe to Maranello within the next three weeks. Only on successful completion of the journey to a prescribed route, will the car be hers…’

Home-loving Laurie thinks she’s happy – she has a safe, reliable boyfriend and working in her local library is what she thought she always wanted. That is until she inherits a vintage Ferrari from her eccentric Uncle Miles and the conditions of the inheritance are far from simple. To keep the car Laurie will have to drive across Europe with the gorgeous but unreliable Cameron Matthews as her guide… and Cam’s motives for helping are not all that altruistic.

Cam isn’t particularly thrilled about escorting his late pal Miles’ dull mouse of a niece on this wild goose chase but all he has to do is get Laurie safely to Italy and he’s sure the Ferrari is his.

But Uncle Miles had a few tricks up his sleeve and the route he’s planned takes Cam and Laurie on a road trip they’ll never forget. From sampling the delights of the Loire Valley to the breathtaking beauty of Lake Garda, this is one journey that has more twists and turns than either of them could ever have imagined…"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy From Italy With Love as an eBook now.

A fun summer read that I have read recently that I wanted to share with you all is the new title from Harper Impulse author Jules Wake. I was initially drawn to it because of the gorgeous summery looking cover, and the idea of a novel being set in Italy really appealed to me, especially because I'm not going to be going on holiday this year and I fancied a bit of escapism in my book! I'll be honest and say the book wasn't what I had expected, but I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend it for your Kindle this summer.

Now, I'm not exactly a car buff but thanks to my 9 year old son who is a Top Gear obsessive (or at least was until Chris Evans was named the new presenter!), I like to think I know a little bit about cars. Therefore, when I started this book and found out it was based around a posh old-fashioned Ferrari GT250, I did have a bit of an idea about it and why it's such a sought after model. That being said, you don't have to know anything about cars at all to enjoy the book, and the story within!

The characters in the book are really enjoyable to read about, and I really liked both of them. The main character of the book was Laurie, who inherits the Ferrari from her recently deceased Uncle Miles, who had quite the car collection. I liked how she decided to go for the road trip organised for her by Miles despite her initial reservations, and her somewhat idiotic boyfriend trying to hold her back. She's hiding a bit of a secret though about her driving, and is determined that her road trip partner Cam doesn't find out. I really liked the character of Cam as well. He's introduced to us as an employee of Miles who looked after his car collection, but is soon drawn into the story by the fact he has to accompany Laurie on her Italian road trip. It's clear exactly what he wants from the whole thing, but he isn't sure how to go about getting it. I didn't like the way he was with Laurie, especially tricking her but he did sound very handsome, clearly passionate about his job, and I could see why Laurie was a bit taken with him.

The road trip itself was such fun to read. We travel with Cam and Laurie through Europe, as they embark on their driving adventure, and it sounded like such fun. I loved the way Jules Wake described everything from the car, to the scenery, Cam's driving and the lovely hotels the pair stayed in - everything came alive in my mind as I was reading and I really felt like I was with Laurie and Cam in France, Italy, and in the Ferrari as well! I almost didn't want them to reach their target destination of Maranello as it meant their journey would be over!

This was an excellent escapist read from start to finish, something you can thoroughly lose yourself in and enjoy from start to finish. I was willing Laurie to escape her boyfriend and find something in her life that made her happy - she really deserved it. Jules Wakes' writing was easy to read, the story pace was excellent and I thoroughly every page of this. I'm looking forward to more from Jules Wake!

20 June 2015

Book Review: The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance by Kirsty Greenwood

"Jessica Beam is a girl who knows how to party. Only lately she's been forgetting to turn up for work on time. Or in clean clothes. Down on her luck, out of a job and homeless, Jess seeks the help of her long-lost grandmother.

Things aren't going well for Matilda Beam, either. Her 1950s Good Woman guide books are out of print, her mortgage repayments are staggering and her granddaughter wears neon Wonderbras!

When a lifeline from a London publisher arrives, the pair have an opportunity to secure the roof over their heads – by invigorating the Good Woman guides and transforming modern, rebellious Jess into a demure vintage lady.

The true test of their make-over will be to capture the heart of notorious London playboy Leo Frost and prove that Matilda’s guides still work. It's going to take commitment, nerves of steel and one seriously pointy bra to pull this off..."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance as a paperback or an eBook now.

After reading and thoroughly enjoying Kirsty Greenwood's debut novel Yours Truly a few years back, I was thrilled to receive a review copy of her brand new book The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance, which I have since learnt is the first book in a new series - even better if you ask me, I do love a good book series. I went into this one not really knowing much about it or what to expect, and while I was surprised at the story, I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end, and I'm looking forward to the next one in the series.

The leading lady of this book was a surprise to me. Jess wasn't at all what I had expected, although I can't exactly tell you why or what I was expecting! I suppose I thought she would be quiet, embracing of the vintage lifestyle but she certainly wasn't that. Jess was loud, liked drinking and swearing, and was quite rude in places. I didn't warm to her initially, finding her a bit brash for my liking, but as the book went on and she formed a bond with her grandmother Matilda and her assistant, I found her more likeable, and started to warm to her more.

The idea of this story was really interesting, and I enjoyed the read. The idea of Jess having to change her complete lifestyle was good, as she didn't seem to be particularly successful in her old life, especially since her so-called best friend just dumped her and left her without a thing - not exactly a balanced friendship at the best of times. I really liked the thought process behind the change too - not making it unnecessary but instead tying it in with her grandmother Matilda's old guides she wrote many years ago - despite the fact Jess thinks they are outdated and never in a million years going to work in the modern day.

Part of Jess' goals is to score a date with Leo, a rather well to do type that Jess thinks will never be fooled by her posh outfits, hairdo's and old-style demeanour. I really liked Leo, despite the fact he certainly isn't painted in a good light at first. However, I thought there was more to him, and wanted Jess to give him a bit of a break and find out what was behind the cocky facade. The sweet blossoming friendship between Jess and Peach, Matilda's young American assistant was lovely too, I really enjoyed reading these parts of the book, especially how Jess encouraged Peach to gain some confidence, and make her open up somewhat. I think she certainly softened a brash Jess as well which was a good thing!

While at times I did cringe a bit at the crudeness as I read, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and was keen to get to the end to find out if Jess would indeed be a changed woman thanks to her grandmother's 1950's advice and whether she could through Leo's outer to find the soft inside I am sure was there. The writing was very good, it kept the pace moving and there were certainly a good few laughs along the way as well. Matilda was such a darling, desperate to keep her home against the odds and I hoped that she and Jess could find happiness with each other, and make a more positive life for themselves. The book left me with a big smile on my face, and I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series!

9 June 2015

Cover Reveal! Return to Bluebell Hill by Rebecca Pugh

Ta da! I am thrilled to be part of the cover reveal for brand new Carina author Rebecca Pugh! I have been so excited for the release of this book, it's probably one of the most anticipated releases this year amongst us bloggers!

Return to Bluebell Hill is due to be released on 18th June 2015, and is coming out as an eBook. Below is the blurb, it sounds brilliant doesn't it?!

You can pre-order Return to Bluebell Hill as an eBook now!

"Home is where the heart is

Jessica McAdams has never belonged anywhere; never truly felt at home. Of course, what did she expect from parents who never made her feel welcome in her own house? Leaving her life in London to return home to the charming country village of Bluebell Hill is harder than she thought. Especially as she never considered she’d be returning under such heart wrenching circumstances…

Clearing out the stunning and imposing Bluebell House after her parents’ death is difficult for Jessica—they never had the best relationship and now it’s too late. Yet spending time in the house that was never a home, having afternoon tea with dear old friend Esme—and sharing hot, sizzling kisses with delectable gardener Rueben!—opens Jessica’s eyes to the potential of Bluebell House… Could this big old, beautiful manor really be her forever home? Is Bluebell Hill where her heart is, has always been?

Jessica soon dares to dream of her very own home with delicious Rueben by her side. But when a deep, dark secret of Bluebell House is unearthed, Jessica’s world is turned upside down…

Will Jessica ever find where her heart truly lies?"

6 June 2015

eBook Review: Game of Scones by Samantha Tonge

"A story of icing and flour…and how love doesn’t always go to plan!
Growing up, Pippa Pattinson’s summers were spent in the idyllic Greek island fishing village of Taxos. There she spent many long hazy days determinedly ignoring thoughts of the life her parents had mapped out for her (a dreary-but-secure accounting job and obligatory sensible husband!) Instead she daydreamed of running her own tea shop – serving the perfect scones – with mocha-eyed childhood friend Niklaus by her side…

Arriving back in Taxos for the first time in years, with suave boyfriend Henrik, Pippa barely recognises the tired little town – but is relieved to catch glimpses of the quaint, charming village she’s always loved. Together Niklaus and Pippa put together a proposal to save Taxos from tourist-tastic ruin, and at the heart of their plan is Pippa’s dream project: The Tastiest Little Tea Shop in Taxos. It’s time for Pippa to leave her London life behind and dust off her scone recipe that’s guaranteed to win over both locals and visitors. And amidst the rolling pins and raisins, it seems romance is blossoming where she’s least expecting it…"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Game of Scones as an eBook now.

A really enjoyable summer read that I want to recommend to you all this year is the new eBook from Carina UK author Samantha Tonge called Game of Scones, I've read a few of Samantha's books before and enjoyed them, so after reading the blurb I hoped that this one would just as enjoyable. Luckily it was, and is a perfect summer read for either the beach or sitting in your sunny garden this summer!

The main character in this book is Pippa. She's finally got some holiday from her boring job and has returned to the home of he childhood holidays, the Greek island village of Taxos. When there, she is reunited with the people she grew up with, including her childhood friend Niko and his family. Her boyfriend Henrik is acting a bit suspiciously, and Pippa is determined to find out what he is up to. When it seems like their lovely village is going to be destroyed for a development, Pippa and the other residents of Taxos decide they have to take action and save the culture and the village once and for all. That means Pippa's childhood dream of a teashop in Taxos just might come true after all...

I really did enjoy this book. Even from the beginning, I was hooked into the story, and wanted to join Pippa and Henrik on their holiday to Taxos, it sounds so beautiful! I have never been to Greece myself, but Tonge makes it sound so beautiful and idyllic, especially because Taxos is pretty untouched and still a traditional Greek fishing village. Everything from the restaurants, to the beach and the holiday home where Pippa and Henrik are staying is described beautifully, and came to life so much in my mind as I was reading, I felt like I was walking alongside Pippa and meeting Niklaus and his family!

Pippa was a great character, and determined to save Taxos at any cost, even if it means trouble between her and her boyfriend. I loved the passion she had for the village, loving it from a young age and really wishing to settle there, even if she knew it was just a mere pipedream. The chemistry that she had with her childhood friend Niko was really fun to read too, and I was hoping that the pair would be able to admit their feelings for each other! Niko was a lovely man, handsome, hard-working and passionate about the village of Taxos, much like Pippa was. He was very close to his family, especially his ailing grandmother and I loved their scenes together - it shows the importance of family, and were really touching. The feel of the village pulling together to save itself was great too - seeing how the residents could use their skills to bring in the holidaymakers to see a traditional Greek way of life was great, it would certainly be something that interested me!

The scones of the title do make the occasional appearance in the book - baking is Pippa's escape and scones are her thing of choice - she likes to change it up and make them a bit different, and has a skill for it too! The teashop in Taxos idea is something she has had in her heart since she was young, and I loved her excitement as it seemed it may finally become a reality. I personally don't like scones, but I enjoyed reading about Pippa baking them and and how much everyone enjoyed reading them, almost as much as I enjoyed reading this book!

Samantha Tonge's new novel is a brilliant summer read, full of sunshine, drama, love and baking - what more could you ask for?! It's a great book to pop on your Kindle and enjoy in the sunshine, especially if you aren't having a summer getaway this year - you'll definitely feel like you're in in Taxos with Pippa and Niko! I loved it, found the writing very easy to read, and the characters were excellently written too. After reading this, I'll certainly be reading more from Samantha Tonge, it was very enjoyable and I definitely recommend it.Thanks to Samantha, Carina and Netgalley for the review copy.

4 June 2015

eBook Review: Take A Chance on Me by Debbie Flint

"When the breakdown of her marriage leaves Sadie Turner a single mum, she vows that she will make it on her own. After all, why would a smart businesswoman with a PhD and the prospect of a life-changing deal on the horizon need a man?

But Sadie’s man-ban is tested to the limit when she travels to Monaco to meet her potential investor. There she encounters Mac, a rough and ready playboy billionaire who lives life in the fast lane – and that’s when the real adventure starts! 

But Sadie’s heart isn’t the only thing on the line. There’s also the business she’s worked so hard to make a success; the business that could so easily slip out of her grasp if she doesn’t seal the deal within thirty days … "

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Take A Chance on Me as a paperback or an eBook now.

I was browsing Netgalley one day, and saw that the publisher Choc Lit had finally joined, so decided to see what they had to offer. One title up for grabs was a novel by Debbie Flint, someone I know better as presenter on the shopping channel QVC. I didn't know she had written books, so after a brief flit to Amazon to see the general consensus on her books, it seemed positive so I just had to request it. I didn't realise at the time it was part of the 'Hot Choc Lit' range - books a little bit saucier than normal but not enough to be classified erotica. Either way, I began the story and thoroughly enjoyed it!

As the synopsis is at the top of the post, I won't bore you with another retelling. First of all, I want to mention that this has previously been published as an eBook under the title Hawaiian Affair, but has been edited and re-released by Choc Lit. This is the version I am therefore reviewing, and I can't comment on any differences between this and the original. I want to quickly mention the cover too - it's very striking, with the muted colours of the main picture contrasted with the bright red of the title streaked across the middle. It's very eye-catching and suits the book really well I feel. I'm glad publishers realise the importance of book covers for eBook too - it can mean the difference between me reading one or passing it by - I'm not ashamed to say I do judge books by covers!

The leading lady of this book is called Sadie Turner - she's a clever girl with a PhD, runs her own business, she's a single mum of 2 daughters, and has travelled a long way to get a new investment in her business - and only has one chance to get it right. I really liked Sadie straight away. She was very hard-working, determined not to be thrown off by the small odds of her actually getting the investment she needs. She's hot-headed, can hold her own in a boardroom full of men, but can't resist the handsome deck hand she meets on a boat called Mac. You could see why she fell for him straight away - he seemed handsome, happy and kind, it's not surprising she decided to have some fun while on holiday in Monaco!

Mac was indeed the perfect leading man for the story, but all was not as it seems! While Mac turned out to be someone quite different than what Sadie had originally thought, perhaps she wasn't as truthful as she might have thought too. I loved the relationship between the pair, from the beginning when they were chatting as friends on the dock, even to things hotting up between them as they get to know each other better. Some of these scenes really are steamy, but are very well written. It doesn't feel like it's being smutty or trying to get attention, it's simply part of the story and is quite fun to read! Debbie Flint does really well handling these scenes, and I thought it was a good reflection of her writing too that these scenes were enjoyable to read.

The book felt quite long as I was reading, but it didn't drag at all which was good. It moved from Monaco in the first part of the book, and eventually to the beautiful island of Hawaii, my dream holiday destination! Although most of the book is taken up with the business deal and things going on between Sadie and Mac, we do get to see a bit of the island and it sounds every bit as beautiful as I imagine it to! I enjoyed how it flitted between the professional business persona of Sadie, and the frustrated and besotted single mum who just wants to find some happiness with ease, there was always some drama and emotion in this book! I didn't get some of the science part of the book to do with the product Sadie was selling, but it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book, I sort of skimmed those parts without feeling like I was missing out too much!

It was a very enjoyable read from start to finish, had me involved the whole way through, and Debbie Flint's writing was fantastic - really drawing me into the story and making me want to keep reading from start to finish. I hope I'll be reading more from Debbie Flint - this was a great book!

2 June 2015

Blog Tour: eBook Review: Bride Without A Groom by Amy Lynch

"Rebecca has chosen the most luscious, five tiered, wedding cake – as featured in Hello! Magazine. The engagement ring that she has selected is celebrity inspired. The wedding singer is on speed dial. He doesn’t usually do Michael Bolton, but as it’s for a first dance he’ll make an exception. Father Maguire is checking dates for the parish church as we speak. The deposit on the white sand honeymoon is paid for in full on Barry’s card. Sure, the resort was good enough for Pierce Brosnan when he tied the knot. She has fallen for an ivory lace couture gown that is to die for. The down payment may require her to sell a left kidney, but it will be worth it. Isn’t that why you have two?

There’s one teeny problem. It’s nothing, really. No need to panic! It’s just that Barry has yet to propose. Says he’s not ready! He can be a bit of a kill joy that way. It’s time to face the harsh reality – she is a bride without a groom.

Truth be told, Barry’s had enough. There’s only so much wedding talk that one man can take. Discovering the credit card statement is the final straw. Now he’s leaving for a conference in Bangkok and frankly, he’s looking forward to the peace and quiet. He says he needs time to think about their relationship. As the Tiger beer flows and the tie loosens, his colleague Shelley is providing more than a shoulder for him to cry on. Maybe Shelley is right. Maybe Rebecca only wants the big day.

Back in Dublin, Rebecca worries. Maybe she has pushed Barry too far this time. Best mates Pam and Emer are on hand for counseling and cocktails. With the help of family, friends and a well stocked drinks cabinet, Rebecca puts her cunning plan together. Operation ‘Win Back Barry’ is in full swing. She needs to convince Barry that she’s not crazy – just crazy about him. But wait… who is the mysterious woman that is so keen to talk to her, and what is it that Barry needs to get off his chest?"

Rating: 3/5

You can buy Bride Without a Groom as an eBook now.

I was recently asked to be part of the blog tour for new author Amy Lynch and her brand new eBook Bride Without A Groom. I have read several things online comparing the book to Sophie Kinsella's 'Shopaholic' series, so definitely had high hopes for this one. While it started well, and I found it amusing at first, soon the main character Rebecca started to grate on my nerves, and I found it all a bit unrealistic and annoying in terms of what she was doing. I did enjoy it, but felt perhaps it just wasn't for me.

The synopsis at the top of the post is long enough so I'm not going to give you another run down of the story here and repeat it over again! The main character in the book is Rebecca, and she's in love with her boyfriend Barry, and cannot wait to marry him. She was funny at first, determined to get him down the aisle at all costs, and stocking up secretly on magazines, wedding dresses, shoes and other wedding paraphernalia... all without Barry knowing. But as her birthday passes, she starts to become more obsessed with the idea of being married and ploughs on with the arrangements, regardless of Barry's thoughts on the matter!

Barry is soon sent abroad with his job and has the chance to escape Rebecca and her madness for a while. Barry is your typical commitment-phobic man, but it's clear that he does love Rebecca a lot. I can understand why he flips out when he finds out about the money Rebecca is spending (without second thought, apparently), and the wedding stuff she is hoarding, but he was just made out to be the bad guy. Yes, he makes some bad choices as the book goes on with his colleague (and a bit of a psycho) Shelley, but ultimately I felt he was a good guy and just got a bit swamped.

What bothered me about the book was Rebecca, her actions and complete and utter lack of responsibility, whether it's to do with money, her job, weddings or Barry. She seems to take endless sick days, inventing ridiculous excuses and somehow trying to justify what she is doing. She's very childish and this is why I really failed to connect with her. She spends money like it's going out of fashion, dropping thousands without thinking twice, and buys anything that takes her fancy. I wanted to give her a shake, tell her to grow up and start acting like the adult she claims to be - and include her flippin' boyfriend in the wedding plans!

Don't get me wrong - there are some amusing moments in the story that had me smiling, but this was outweighed by the more frustrating parts that just had me gritting my teeth and feeling angry at the immaturity of the leading lady. It definitely isn't any Shopaholic, but it's a light-hearted read that will pass by an evening. Perhaps I am a bit too serious for this book, and I need to let go a bit, but while it was good, it wasn't my cup of tea. It is well-written, there's plenty going on to keep the pace up and is funny, but there's just bits that didn't agree with me.