Saturday, 10 November 2018

Book tour: Hush Hush - Mel Sherratt (DS Grace Allendale #1)

A killer is on the loose, attacking people in places they feel most safe: their workplaces, their homes. It’s up to DS Grace Allendale to stop the murders, and prove herself to her new team.
All clues lead to local crime family the Steeles, but that’s where things get complicated. Because the Steeles aren’t just any family, they’re Grace’s family. Two brothers and two sisters, connected by the violent father only Grace and her mother escaped.
To catch the killer, Grace will have to choose between her team and her blood. But who do you trust, when both sides are out to get you?

My opinion.
Crime fiction at its best. Mel Sherratt introduces us to DS Grace Allendale in this thrilling new series. A crime family, unresolved murders, the constant threat of violence and dubious characters, you won't be able to put this book down even if you wanted to. As the crimes continue, the lack of evidence causes an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust. There's no telling who to trust. Even when some of the chapters are written from the point of view of other characters than Grace's, they only add to the intrigue and keep you guessing.
With every clue there's more unanswered questions and missing puzzle pieces. Addictive, and that's without the extra layer of Grace's traumatizing past - both recent and childhood memories - and blood link to the crime family all the signs keep pointing to.
Close and guarded, Grace isn't the easiest of characters to warm up to, but I for one cannot wait to read more from DS Grace Allendale.


Saturday, 3 November 2018

Book review: One Way or Another - Colleen Coleman

Twenty-nine-year-old Katie Kelly is at an all-time low. The love of her life, gorgeous Ben Cole, took a job abroad and broke her heart, the restaurant she’d put her all into went bust, and now she works in a retirement home, cooking beige mush for the residents. 

Not exactly the life Katie had dreamed of… 

So when the opportunity comes up to work for one of the best chefs in the country – Katie’s idol – she is determined to get the job, no matter what. But then she discovers who she’s competing against: Ben. 

As the competition heats up, Katie and Ben spend more and more time together, and it’s clear the old spark is still there… But only one person can win their perfect job, and Katie is going to make sure it’s her. She knows she can’t let Ben back in – or can she find a way to have it all? 

My opinion.
'One Way or Another' is a fun, light-hearted story. When we meet Katie Kelly, she's in a bad place. Her career is non-existing, as well as her love life. But maybe she'll find an answer to both when this new opportunity arrives?
The setting of the cooking competition is fun and original. We've all seen dozens of those on reality tv-shows, but reading about it was completely new to me. But the stress, flavours and heath of a 5 star kitchen in action are just as tangible in this book as they would have been on screen. No Gordon Ramsey here, but equally enough drama to make this story energetic and fast paced.
Throw in a great romance, an endearing old lady and an hilarious best friend, and you've got yourself a winner. Great, fun read!

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Book tour: Olga's Egg - Sophie Law

When Fabergé specialist Assia Wynfield learns of the discovery of a long-lost Fabergé egg made for the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, daughter of the last Tsar of Russia, she appears to be the only person with misgivings. On travelling to St. Petersburg to see the egg, Assia moves among Russia’s new rich but finds herself pulled back into a family past she would rather forget. With news that a friend is missing, Assia starts to dig deeper. But does she really want the answers to the questions she is asking? Set in today’s glamorous world of Russian art with glimpses into the lives of the last Romanovs as their empire crumbled in the wake of the Russian Revolution, Olga’s Egg is an enthralling tale of love, family secrets and the artistic treasures that conceal them.

My opinion.
What a gorgeous book. Admittedly, I was sold on this book in the first place purely on the cover design alone. Then I read the blurb, and I just knew I couldn't let this one pass by. And I'm so happy I didn't. 'Olga's Egg' is incredibly rich in detail and historical research. The love and passion for (Imperial) Russia, it's art and architecture is so tangible I could easily imagine myself walking around in St. Petersburg, soaking it all in. 
It took me a couple of chapters to find my bearing in this story. In those first pages a lot of characters are introduced with glimpses of their stories, both past and present, and it's a bit confusing as to where the story is going. Once the grand discovery of a long-lost Fabergé egg is made, however, you're catapulted into this world of money, power, art and luxury. Assia as a main character isn't easy to relate to. She's dealing with a difficult past and doesn't open herself up easily, and to me that included us as readers as well. But even though I didn't feel a particularly close connection to the lead, the story itself captivated me and took me along on this beautiful, Imperial, roller coaster. 
The art and mystery in this book stayed with me every time I closed the book - I just had to keep reading to learn more about the art and the history, to figure all the puzzle pieces out. Sophie Law described everything in such glorious detail, taking her time to really set the scene and not rushing the different elements to this story. Absolutely loved it. Now please excuse me while I look up everything I can find on Fabergé and watch the 1997 animation movie "Anastasia".


ABOUT THE AUTOR. Sophie Law was born in London in 1981 and studied at Oxford University and the School of Slavonic and East European Studies. She began her career as a Russian art expert at Bonhams in 2006. After a number of years heading the Russian department and as a UK Board Director at Bonhams, she now acts as a consultant specialist. She lives with her husband and daughter in Oxford. 

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Book review: A Christmas Date - Camilla Isley (First Comes Love #3)

No one wants to be single at the holidays. 

Even Little Miss Grinch, Nikki, a successful and independent woman, must face her bachelorette status at the most horrible time of the year. 

December is her personal version of holly-jolly hell: a merry torture made of couples kissing at every corner, forced vacation days, and an inescapable family reunion. 

And when her baby sister announces she’s engaged—to Paul, the man Nikki is secretly in love with—and that he’s spending the holidays with them, Christmas starts looking bluer than ever. 

Nikki can’t possibly survive an entire week trapped home as the family’s spinster. But she has no time to meet men or to try the newest dating app, she’s too busy working as a video producer for an advertising agency. 

So what’s a girl to do? 

Nikki has the perfect solution: to hire a fake boyfriend. 

Luckily, her job gives her access to an endless catalog of gorgeous actors to choose from. 

But Nikki will soon discover that keeping business and pleasure from mixing isn’t so easy, and that she might not be immune to a little mistletoe magic. Especially not when she picked out the perfect man as her Christmas date... 

A fun, festive romantic comedy with lots of bad behavior and Christmas spirit. Like a creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows, you won’t want to put this deliciously hilarious novel down. Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Sally Thorne, and Jo Watson. 

First Comes Love is a series of interconnected romantic novels. However, each book in the series can be read as a standalone. 

My opinion.
What an absolute must-read this holiday season! 'A Christmas Date' is the third installment in Camilla Isley's 'First Comes Love' series, but not having read the previous two myself, I can honestly say it can easily be read as a stand alone novel. Although, like me, I'm sure you'll be wanting to read those previous two the second you finish this one.
Starting the story off with a hired fake boyfriend, this could have gone very cheesy and predictable very soon. But Nikki and Diego took me by surprise. I ended up loving them, and their... 'adventure' much more than I would have thought. Christmas time and all the excitement and drama it brings with it, some disastrous cooking and a sexy romance, I absolutely loved every page.
Highly addictive and entertaining, Camilla Isley will bring a smile to your face and will have you humming Christmas songs all day long, holiday season or not!

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Book tour: A Christmas Gift - Sue Moorcroft


Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.
To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there be more to him than meets the eye?
Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?

My opinion.
Get into the holiday spirit with this gorgeous novel by Sue Moorcroft!
Georgine loves Christmas. Well, so do I. And I love nothing more than a great "Christmassy" read in the countdown to Christmas. But what Sue Moorcroft did here, for me, was reinvent the cozy Christmas novel. Her story, its setting, characters and their issues are unexpected and original.  [ * I am now adding all her previous Christmas novels to my wish list * ]
Her characters, Georgine and Joe, both have some skeletons in their closet (maybe 1 too many?) and some fears to overcome. Their issues, however, run so much deeper than the obvious "bad break-up" most fictional characters seem to suffer from in their hesitation to fall in love. Sue Moorcroft isn't afraid to dig deep and touch on some pretty harsh truths about living in poverty, dealing with neglect and abuse, but also living with disappointment and changed circumstances. And the fear of not being able to keep a roof over your head, or a meal on the table.
Georgine's and Joe's struggles, both past and present, really hit you hard as a reader. Despite these issues, they're able to find love and passion in their lives... and maybe with each other. 'A Christmas Gift' is a heartwarming story you won't be able to let go. 



Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Book review: The Bottom Line - Aven Ellis (Chicago On Ice #4)

After landing her dream job as an assistant buyer for a luxury fashion retailer in Minneapolis, Taylor Hartigan’s life becomes a nightmare. Performing mundane tasks and catering to the ridiculous whims of the boss from hell, she sees no opportunity for advancement. Though she’s never quit anything in her life, Taylor walks out and heads home to Chicago, the city that holds her heart. With her confidence shaken and no job on the horizon, she knows she has to find herself again.

Once she arrives, she’s shocked to learn hockey player Hunter Riley has been traded to the Chicago Buffaloes. Taylor met Hunter the previous season when his hard-hitting play broke the glass in front of her. Meeting him after the game, something passed between them—and has stayed with her ever since. Since she’s followed his career, she knows he’s coming off a disastrous season in Houston and must rediscover his game in Chicago—or face losing his hockey dream.

The timing couldn’t be worse for the pair to become involved since they’re both at a crossroads but the chemistry between them can’t be denied. Taylor worries that their budding relationship won’t survive the challenges of rebuilding two broken careers. Can the new versions of themselves fit together? Or tear them apart?

Or will love be the bottom line, after all?

My opinion
American ice hokey must be the place to be for all the single ladies. In 'The Bottom Line', Aven Ellis treats her readers to yet another dreamy, perfect book boyfriend with hockey player Hunter Riley. It's the 4th installment in the Chicago on Ice series, but can be read as a stand alone novel. However, if you've been with the Chicago Buffaloes from the start, reading this book feels like adding to the family. 
Our main characters in 'The Bottom Line' start out a little different than the other Buffaloes did. They had their 'meet cute' a year before finally being able to catch up. Having had 12 months of day dreaming and Instagram-stalking, their relationship picks up fast. From the start, Hunter and Taylor make a great team. Very early on, they find a way to understand what the other person needs; and so supporting each other in their doubts and struggles.
The story had some laugh-out-loud moments and, of course, had me swooning over that gorgeous book boyfriend of a man, Hunter Riley.
For me however, the inner-monologues of self-doubt and hesitations were a bit much. They felt repetitive and unnecessary. Aven Ellis' characters are easy to relate to. Because of how well thought-out they are and the way they are introduced, you as a reader "get" them - without having to read a detailed thought process every step of the way. And sometimes there's just too much over-thinking. Maybe realistic, but not particularly "fun" for a lighthearted romance novel. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR. I live in the Dallas area with my family. I enjoy clipping out recipes I will never get around to trying, working out, and chatting with friends on social media. I’m a hockey nut (Go Stars!) and watch as much as humanly possible. I also love shopping and fashion and admit to being obsessed with whatever the Duchess of Cambridge is wearing. In addition to be obsessed with the Duchess, I’m equally obsessed with any show or cookbook featuring Gordon Ramsay.

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Saturday, 29 September 2018

Book tour: Coming Home to Maple Cottage - Holly Martin (Sandcastle Bay #3)


Isla Rosewood is creating a new life for herself and her sweet nephew Elliot in their cosy, yellow-brick family cottage, brimming with special memories. Living in Sandcastle Bay was never part of Isla’s plan but, after her brother Matthew’s tragic accident, her whole world changed as she unexpectedly became a mother to the little boy she adores so much. 

Leo Jackson was always known as Matthew’s fun-loving and wild best friend. But now Matthew is gone, it’s time to put his colourful past behind him. His role as Elliot’s godfather is the most important thing to him. And even though Leo and Isla are two very different people, they both want to give Elliot the childhood he deserves. 

As the three of them enjoy time together watching fireworks, baking cakes and collecting conkers, Isla begins to see a softer side to charming Leo, with his twinkling eyes and mischievous sense of humour. And, despite herself, she begins to fall for him. 

But does Leo feel the same way? Isla knows their situation is complicated but is it too complicated for true love… or will the year end with a happy new beginning for them all? 

My opinion
What a beautiful, moving, and addictive novel by Holly Martin, yet again. Holly has yet to write a book I don't love. I absolutely adore reading her books. Somehow though, 'Coming Home to Maple Cottage' had an extra spark I didn't even realize her books needed. Because even though I really loved reading the first 2 books in this series (and the series before this one), 'Maple Cottage' digs a bit deeper than the others. Elliot, as well as the issues of grief, loss, parenting and responsibilities his character introduces to this story, add an entire new layer to Holly Martin's writing. And I love it. "Sweet" is no longer enough to cover the feeling of this book. The love and attraction between all Holly's characters is always intense, but here again Leo and Isla surpass all the other romances in Sandcastle Bay and in previous series. 
The banter between the characters and the horribly embarrassing situations had me laughing out loud, I - again - had little patience for the meddlesome elderly villagers (but secretly loved them anyway), and fell a little bit more in love with Elliot with each chapter. His sweet and unbiased love and affection made me cry, as well as the wonderful and unconditional bonds of family and friendship.
Magical berry's, sand- and pumpkin sculptures, eclectic jewelry and fireworks, Sandcastle Bay is unique, meddlesome, a bit strange... but most of all a place I would love to live.


Read all about book #1 and #2 in the Sandcastle Bay series here:


About the author: 
Holly lives in a little white cottage by the sea. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.
Holly has been writing for 8 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. She is the bestselling author of 18 books

Follow her on Twitter @HollyMAuthor