Monday, 1 April 2019

Book tour: The Summer of Chasing Dreams - Holly Martin

http://mssbookshelf.blogspot.com/p/ms-favourites.html

Eva is quite content with her life in London. In her job as a cover designer, she works at home, and often in her cosy pyjamas. She's happy to stay in her safe little world and not explore much outside of it.

She is the opposite of her mum, a free spirit who craved finding adventure and thrills in all corners of the world. But on the day her mum’s will is finalised, Eva finds a list of all the dreams her mum wanted to achieve in her life. Things she never did because she fell pregnant with Eva.

Eva decides these dreams will not go unfulfilled — she is going to be brave and complete them for her mum. As Eva has no experience travelling the world, she hires a guide to go with her on this holiday.

Gorgeous but rude Thor Anderson is not the person she would choose to accompany her on this journey, but somehow she gets stuck with him. As they discover the world together Eva starts to think he might not be as bad as she first thought. She is swept away by Thor's kindness and mischievous sense of humour. But will it be a simple holiday romance or could this wonderful adventure lead to so much more?


My opinion.
Where to even begin. Love love LOVED this book. Holly Martin wrote thé must read novel for this summer. It's an absolute gem. 
We meet our main character, Eva, when she's about to start crossing off some outrageous things on someone else's bucket list. Original to say the least, as a reader you're already set for journey full of unexpected twists and turns. Eva is a very easy to love character who feels like a friend, or at least very familiar from the start.
And then there's Thor. Pfew. Now I'm definitely at a loss for words. How to describe the Thor-phenomenon?! I was completely smitten. After reading this book, I feel as if I've already had my summer romance this year (don't tell my husband) and boy was it a steamy one. I felt every spark there was between him and Eva and I fell head over heals for their romance. Or was it Thor himself I fell for? Wouldn't be hard, seeing as he looked as either/both/one of the Hemsworth brothers in my imagination.
In all seriousness, Holly Martin's writing as always transports you right to the heart of the story. You feel the characters' emotions, you believe their dreams and you wish for their hopes and dreams. Someone almost had to physically remove the book from my hands for me to stop reading. I just couldn't get enough.
The fact that Eva is going on these crazy travels, pushing herself doing these (sometimes) ridiculous activities in memory of her mum adds another layer to this story. It's incredibly moving and beautiful. This story will definitely stay with you long after reading that final chapter. I'm always excited about a new Holly Martin book, but now I definitely cannot wait to read more!
Emotional, passionate, funny, and very, very addictive - 'The Summer of Chasing Dreams' is an absolute must read this season.
 
http://mssbookshelf.blogspot.com/p/ms-favourites.html
 
 
 

 

Friday, 15 March 2019

Book tour: The Mum Who Got Her Life Back - Fiona Gibson


When her 18-year-old twins leave for university, single mum Nadia’s life changes in ways she never expected: her Glasgow flat feels suddenly huge, laundry doesn’t take up half her week, and she no longer has to buy ‘the Big Milk’. After almost two decades of putting everyone else first, Nadia is finally taking care of herself. And with a budding romance with new boyfriend Jack, She’s never felt more alive.

That is, until her son Alfie drops out of university, and Nadia finds her empty nest is empty no more. With a heartbroken teenager to contend with, Nadia has to ask herself: is it ever possible for a mother to get her own life back? And can Jack and Nadia’s relationship survive having a sulky teenager around?



My opinion.
Uplifting, colourful and funny. Those were my first impressions when holding this book. And Fiona Gibson did not disappoint on those expectations.
Her delightful sense of humor really shines through. Her characters are easy to love, easy to relate to and hard to forget. Even when your own day to day life doesn't like anything like Nadia's or Jack's, you somehow relate to them from the start. Or I'm now really getting old for feeling more understanding and sympathy towards the 50-something parents, instead of the college students - who I was one of only a couple of years ago! All credit to Fiona Gibson's writing to make these characters and their stories recognizable, even for someone like me - who's just now getting used to the idea of being someone's mum in a couple of months time! Let alone a couple of teenagers...
Both Jack and Nadia are wonderful characters. They've both bring their past to this relationship. At least one failed relationship, a temporary loss of identity when becoming a parent, or in Jack's case some scars that run even deeper. I loved how despite, or maybe because of all this baggage, they were open to the possibilities of getting to know each other.
Jack is an incredible guy and an amazing father figure. His involvement and care towards his volunteers in the shop and the way he tries to be both a friend to them, as well as a "coach" in whichever way they need, is heartwarming. 
Apart from making me feel very grateful for my ever-patient parents during those horrible teenage years, 'The Mum Who Got Her Life Back' made me laugh out loud, and even cry a little. Great, uplifting and heartwarming read!






Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Book tour: In Safe Hands - J.P. Carter (DCI Anna Tate #1)


How far would you go to save the ones you love? The first book in a gripping new crime series featuring DCI Anna Tate.


When nine children are snatched from a nursery school in South London, their distressed parents have no idea if they will ever see them again. The community in the surrounding area in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that's what they're saying.


But DCI Anna Tate knows that nothing is impossible, and she also knows that time is quickly running out. It’s unclear if the kidnappers are desperate for money or set on revenge, but the ransom is going up by £1million daily. And they know that one little boy in particular is fighting for his life.


It’s one of the most disturbing cases DCI Anna Tate has ever worked on – not only because nine children are being held hostage, but because she’s pretty sure that someone close to them is lying…


My opinion.
What an incredible read! Highly addictive from the start, there was no way I could put this book down.
DCI Anna Tate is a strong woman that has had to deal with a terrible trauma and loss in her personal life. Her private life alone would be enough for most to just give up. But not only does Anna Tate find a way to fight through it, she's an incredibly skilled detective that won't stop until she's got all the answers.
The crime she's faced with in this book, is incredibly layered. Not only are there multiple victims, there are so many people involved, each bringing their own drama. All the puzzle pieces are there, but without knowing which image they're supposed to form, it's staking precious time for Anna Tate and her team... and time is not on their side.
All these extra characters and story lines could have easily distracted from the main story - both for our fictional detective, as for us readers. But somehow they added to the urgency to get to the truth, as well as adding possible motives and suspects to the, seemingly endless, list. 
Fast paced, but with an incredible attention to detail with in-debt characters throughout, 'In Safe Hands' is an incredible read I would highly recommend. I for sure cannot wait to read what's next for DCI Anna Tate.


 



Thursday, 6 December 2018

Book Tour: Cuckoo - Sophie Draper



There’s a stranger in your house… 
  
When her stepmother dies unexpectedly, Caro returns to her childhood home in Derbyshire. She hadn’t seen Elizabeth in years, but the remote farmhouse offers refuge from a bad relationship, and a chance to start again.

But going through Elizabeth’s belongings unearths memories Caro would rather stay buried. In particular, the story her stepmother would tell her, about two little girls and the terrible thing they do.

As heavy snow traps Caro in the village, where her neighbours stare and whisper, Caro is forced to question why Elizabeth hated her so much, and what she was hiding. But does she really want to uncover the truth?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41061962-cuckoo


My opinion.
Highly disturbing and incredibly addictive. I was glued to my Kindle, almost physically unable to stop reading. Raised heart rate and shallow breaths, admittedly the scariest book I've read. Dark, spooky, and very unpredictable, Sophie Draper keeps you guessing.  
Caro's thoughts, memories and illustrations are just fragments of a whole, never telling the full story. Her past experiences, both from a previous relationship and from childhood, have left her fragile, suspicious and even paranoid. Thanks to Sophie Draper's brilliant writing, you can't help but get swept up in this feeling of paranoia and confusion that haunts Caro. More plot twists than I can count, 'Cuckoo' takes you on a spooky, haunting rollercoaster from one secret to another, with mind games and manipulations aplenty.






Monday, 26 November 2018

Book tour: Brexit XXL - Vincent Pluchet

 



Plunge into post-Brexit Britain and follow Prime Minister Tracy Meller in the biggest struggle she has ever faced, as the country is hit by a huge crisis and her opponents leave her no respite. Meet ordinary people caught up in the storm. Visit Chequers and historical places where the action takes place.

London, 2022 Tracy Meller, the UK’s Conservative Prime Minister, is facing an unprecedented crisis.

Having halted the endless negotiations to leave the European Union four years earlier, Prime Minister Meller chose the most uncompromising of all possible exits, a “Brexit XXL” with serious consequences. The economy is at a standstill, the financial markets are panicking. The opposition Labour Party launches an attack on the Prime Minister with a promise of a return to the European Union. The country’s morale is at rock bottom: everyone is afraid for their jobs and losing faith in the future. As for Scotland, its thoughts are increasingly turning back to independence. Prime Minister Meller herself is beginning to doubt the wisdom of her decision…

Will the UK survive this historic crisis? Brexit XXL is a work of fiction about the most risky Brexit scenario, based on a detailed analysis of British political culture. Both realistic and instructive, the plot of the novel has a particular resonance today, encouraging reflection on the sovereignty of nations and the future of the European project.


My opinion.
Brexit, a hot-topic if there ever was one. From the moment the concept was introduced, it's been hard to really understand the consequences, pro's and con's of the UK leaving the European Union. In 'Brexit XXL', author Vincent Pluchet sketches a world post-Brexit. Supported by such convincing numbers, theories and arguments, you sometimes have to remind yourself that this is set in a hypothetical future with (barely) fictional politicians. 
This is what makes this a tough one to review. On the one hand, it's clear that this political scenario is based on very real facts of present day economical and political structures and climates. Brexit and it's (potential) consequences is explained here in such a way that even a non-UK resident like me with no economical background, understands the different actors involved and the market influences and speculations in this very believable post-Brexit scenario.
We're shown a political chess game with all the right ingredients for a political thriller - with power-struggles, schemes and manipulation on the highest levels of government and financial institutions. But, and this brings me to my reservations, as much as I'd wanted it to, the book didn't progress from a descriptive text to an actual story. However detailed the author tried to present different scenes, the excessive detail tried but failed to 'reach' or move the reader.
Clearly well-researched but with excessive descriptions, 'Brexit XXL' was informative and impressive, but not captivating enough.



 


Author Information A graduate of the London School of Economics and the French École Polytechnique, Vincent Pluchet has a passion for historical and political topics. He works as a consultant in Finance and Strategy in the Middle East, where he has been based since 2004. He was a CFO with a large financial institution for more than fifteen years. He is married with one daughter. Please check out https://brexitxxl.com.



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.