Saturday, 16 June 2018

Book review: The Island Villa - Lily Graham

When Charlotte’s husband James tragically dies, he leaves her an unexpected gift – her grandmother’s beautiful villa, Marisal, on the Spanish island of Formentera. 

As she begins to explore her new home, and heal her broken heart in the warm golden sunshine, Charlotte discovers that her grandmother Alba has been keeping secrets about her life on the island. Intrigued by her family’s hidden history, Charlotte uncovers a devastating love affair that put many lives at risk and two sisters torn apart by loss. 

Can the heartbreaking truth of the island’s dark history finally be laid to rest? Or will the secrets of the past shake the new life and love that Charlotte is close to finding? 

My opinion.
When we first meet Charlotte, she's just experienced one of the worst things imaginable: she's lost her husband, the love of her life. Heartbreaking and raw, those first few chapters almost feel like you're intruding on her grief. It actually hurt to read, at times. Beautifully written.
Slowly but surely, life - and the book - gets lighter, sunnier, once she starts finding her place on the island. I loved discovering her family's history along with Charlotte. It's set in a time and place I'm not particularly familiar with, which made it all the more intriguing and surprising. I would say though that there was a bit of a missed opportunity here in not elaborating more on her grandmother's story, as well as the ancestors some generations before. There could have been a story about love, loss, hope, family and tradition in three different generations, whereas now I felt like the connection between the earlier ancestors and her grandmother Alba's history wasn't explored enough. Both the story and I, as a reader, could have done with a couple of more chapters!
The scents, flavours and views of Marisal are described wonderfully and I could easily imagine myself sitting on the island, enjoying the sun and seeing these amazing characters' stories unfold. With lots of drama and hardship in the characters' lives and incredible attention to detail when it comes to their characteristics and personalities, 'The Island Villa' draws you in and keeps you glued to the page until the very last paragraph.


Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Book review: The Not So Perfect Mother - Kerry Fisher


From Amazon chart bestseller Kerry Fisher comes a hilarious and straight-talking read for anyone who has ever despaired at the politics of the school playground… 

Maia is a cleaner for ladies who lunch. With mops and buckets in tow, she spends her days dashing from house to house clearing up after them, as they rush from one exhausting pilates class to the next. 

But an unusual inheritance changes the lives of Maia and her children, as they join the highly exclusive world of Stirling Hall School – a place where no child can survive without organic apricots and no woman goes a week without a manicure. 

As Maia and her children try to settle into their new life, Maia is gradually drawn to the one man who can help her family fit in: Mr. Peters, a teacher at Stirling Hall School. But is his interest in her purely professional? And will it win her any favors at the school gate? 

My opinion.
What a fabulous read. Judging from the cover and a quick glance over the blurb, I was expecting a lighthearted, funny romantic comedy. This novel, however, is much more than that. Maia had a big impact on me. Yes, there were some really funny and romanticly charged moments, but the story went much deeper than that. Kerry Fisher touched on a lot of different subjects and issues. The class difference between "the haves" and "have nots", the strain money has (on both sides of the fence) on relationships and families and the empowerment good friendships can bring.
Kerry Fisher's characters are very easy to love and you can't help but feel very much invested in their lives and happiness. Maia is an inspiring lead character. Life has not been easy on her, but the determination and selfishness she musters to give her children the best future possible is really moving. 
This novel would make the perfect movie script - and one of those all time classic romantic comedy movies.
I absolutely loved reading this eye-opening, yet wonderful feel-good comedy. 


Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Book tour: A Royal Shade of Blue - Aven Ellis (The Modern Royals Series #1)

When art history student Clementine Jones receives a message complimenting her latest internship project, she doesn’t hesitate to answer it. 

She never dreamed that this decision would not only change her life but the future of the British monarchy as well. 
Her response leads Clementine to the mysterious CP Chadwick, a British man studying history at Cambridge. Clementine finds CP charming, smart, and unlike any man she’s ever met. Most of all, when she confides her medical past to CP, his perception of her doesn’t change. He doesn’t treat her as fragile like her parents do. CP sees her as normal, which is something she cherishes. 
Clementine, however, has no idea that CP is actually Prince Christian of Wales, who has never had a “normal” life. Christian is at a crossroad. His destiny is to be a working royal, but he is desperate to fill that role in his own way. Wary of others, he’s kept himself closed off from the world—until he lets Clementine in. 
A royal romance is never a fairy tale, but Clementine and Christian are determined to write their own version. Can they overcome their own fears—as well as the constraints of a royal life—to reach their own happily ever after? 

My opinion.
I'll be the first one to admit that I love the Royals. So when Aven decided writing a 'royal romance' was long overdue, I was both excited and a little apprehensive that those fictional royals wouldn't live up to the image we have in our heads of the British Royals. But I should've known, I had absolutely nothing to worry about.
Aven Ellis has created this amazing, very believable fictional British Royal Family with incredible detail. This book, this family, just screams for more. And luckily, this IS only the first installment in what is going to be one of my favourite chick-lit series. Fictional as the characters may be, their setting is anything but. As always, Aven thoroughly researches anything and everything about the interests/location/history of both her characters and their surroundings.
There are some similarities to her previous sports-themed books: the cultural differences when two nationalities get together, the "star quality" of one or both of the leads, but of course there's also Aven's signature laugh out loud moments, drop dead gorgeous men and wonderful, sweet love stories.
The Modern Royals Series is something Aven Ellis just HAD to write, and she's the absolute right person to do so.
When it comes to Clementine and CP's love story, I do feel like it needed a couple of more chapters between the "butterfly stage" of the relationship and the professing of "undying love". That being said though, it didn't take long for me as a reader to get completely swept off my feet by their wonderful romance and the a-mazing setting of British (royal) history.
I cannot wait to see what book 2 will bring - and couldn't be more excited about Aven's choice on the new leads for that one! 


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.

Website/Blog - 
Twitter - 
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Amazon Page - 
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Friday, 13 April 2018

Book tour: Inescapable Fate - Hanleigh Bradley (The Fate series #1)

When Georgia Kentley breaks up with her long-term boyfriend Darren over Christmas, she really can't wait to return to work on the 27th of December.

The excitement dies when she meets her new boss, Walker Trent. DCI Trent is a misogynistic pain in the arse. Being a young police officer, Georgia has met her fair share of men who don't understand that she can hold her own. Every single time she has proven them wrong.

Will she be able to prove to Walker Trent just how capable she is or will she get herself into a heap of trouble, danger and chaos? And when chaos ensues who will be there to save her?

My opinion.
They say "don't judge a book by it's cover", and that's definitely what you shouldn't do with this one. The blurb convinced me to read this book - and I'm glad I did! Because the cover, to me, does not sell or represent the book. It's not the right fit for the genre, and I feel it does not do the strong, independent Georgia justice. (Sorry!)
There's no lack of interesting characters and this first installment in The Fate series sure introduces us to some of them already. I do feel, however, that - maybe because this was so clearly set out as being only the first book in a series - those character introductions were a bit rushed and their dynamics insufficiently explained or defined. This keeps you as a reader from getting truly invested in them or their relationships. There's some information about their personal lives, their past on the job and some horrible cases that definitely need a bit more time than they're given now. Because all of it, characters, cases and events, is definitely intriguing enough!
The fireworks between Georgia and Trent create a wonderful tension as we ease into the story. I loved their dynamic and the atmosphere it created. But almost from one chapter to the next, the fireworks seem to disappear when the "crime/thriller" part of the story heats up, and their relationship loses all its excitement and tension.  I could have used some more build up in their relationship, and a better balance between the fast paced, thrilling part of the story on the one hand, and the romance on the other. It's almost as if there's two different books into one, with the first part being romance and the second a crime thriller, with an unsuccessful (hospital) scene in the middle that tried to merge the two.
That being said, when the crime/thriller part of the story picks up when there's a serial killer on the loose, I couldn't put the book down and at one point it even gave me goosebumps. I love the dynamics of a police force and all the different personalities that come with it, the crime element mixed with some romance and friendship & family bonds - even though that mix hasn't been balanced out correctly yet.
And the ending is such a torturing cliff-hanger!! I actually tried swiping a couple of times before realizing that, yes, I actually had reached the last page. I cannot wait to see how this police force handles the rest of the case, what will happen with the killer and between Georgia and Trent. All things considered, a promising start to a new series.


Thursday, 12 April 2018

Book blitz: The Holiday Cottage by the Sea - Holly Martin (Sandcastle Bay #1)


Escape to Sandcastle Bay, where you’ll discover a charming little seaside village brimming with heart-warming friendships, quirky characters and plenty of sunshine.

The perfect place to fall in love this summer…

Tori Graham is in need of a holiday. Trying to piece her heart back together after losing the love of her life, she escapes to Blossom Cottage, with its picturesque views of the sea. And plans to spend the summer in gorgeous Sandcastle Bay, where her best friend Melody Rosewood lives.

Tori’s not expecting her summer by the beach to be eventful, until she meets handsome and mysterious Aidan Jackson…

Aidan looks after the holiday cottage Tori is staying in. Healing from past hurts, he wants to avoid any further chance of heartache. But could this newcomer be the breath of fresh air he needs?

Finding herself embracing life in the coastal community, Tori starts to fall in love with Sandcastle Bay and its welcoming cast of residents. But that’s not all she begins to fall for, as Tori is swept away by Aidan’s genuine heart and mischievous sense of humour. The attraction between them is undeniable, but will a simple holiday romance be enough?

As Tori’s stay in Sandcastle Bay comes to an end she has a tough decision to make…. Has her heart found a new place to call home?

A joyously romantic summer read that will make you laugh, cry and fall in love. If you enjoy reading Sarah Morgan, Jenny Oliver and Lucy Diamond this book is for you.

My opinion.
I am in love with Holly Martin's version of the world. I would move there in a heartbeat. Yet another cute, rustic English village full of wonderful people... and very gorgeous men.
As always, the characters in this latest page-turner are incredibly easy to love. Holly knows how to get her readers invested almost immediately, and leave them wanting - needing - more until way past closing that final chapter. I kept thinking about these characters and the wonderful Sandcastle Bay, until I just gave up, dropped everything and continued reading. True to Holly Martin's writing, she pulls those heartstrings mercilessly. Avoid reading this book in public, where there's no hiding behind big sunglasses or blaming those tears on hay fever ;-) I laughed out loud and fell in love with yet another gorgeous book boyfriend. Warning though for the real men in our lives: Aiden (and his brothers) set the bar (way) high. Swoon alert! 
I loved Tori as the main (female) character. She has her doubts and reservations when it comes to romance, but she's confident and unapologetic about who she is. She is passionate about her job and hobbies, she is incredibly funny and a wonderfully loyal friend. The flirting between her and Aiden is hilarious from the start and their witty banter is as sexy as their physical chemistry. The interesting careers and quirky hobbies, the wonderful friendships and family bonds add extra colour and flavour to this already 'joyously romantic' read in this stunning setting.
Absolutely loved everything about this book. Bring on the next one, Holly!


Don't miss the rest of the tour:

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

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Book tour: Reality Blurred - Aven Ellis (Rinkside in the Rockies #2)

Rinkside in the Rockies #2, can be read as a standalone
236 pages


He lied to her. Fed her the same lines as he did all the other girls. Instead of proposing, he dumped her on national TV. Would a romance with a hockey superstar prove just as disastrous—or could it be the greatest love story of her life?

Cast as America’s reality show sweetheart after being jilted on a dating show, Skye Reeve is ready to stop being a brokenhearted woman by proving she’s more than what the camera portrayed her to be. She’s landed her dream job as a TV lifestyle reporter and promises to work hard to be a success.

Skye also vows never to be swept up in a fairy tale romance ever again, as she obviously has no clue what real love is.

Being in the same city as Denver Mountain Lions hockey star Maxime Laurent, however, might make this last goal impossible.

Dealing with ghosts from his own past, the Belgian hockey star is known for keeping his life off the ice private. He’s not sure if outgoing Skye could be a match for him, but he can’t deny his attraction to her.

When the two embark on a romance, will they be able to move forward from the past to let love into their hearts?  With no reality blurred, will Skye find real-life love to be what she had been looking for all along?

My opinion.
OK., let's start this off with a confession. I love a good romance - that's not news, I know - and as my guilty pleasure... I watch The Bachelor/The Bachelorette. Yep, it's true.
Anyway, here comes Aven Ellis with her latest deliciously feel good romance and who else but a reality dating show survivor stars as main character?! Now Aven's insightful writing finally gives you a plausible idea of what actually happens "after the final rose". Skye's life is turned completely upside down because of the show and it's aftermath. It has left some scars, and even some open wounds, but she's ready for a new start. 
And in walks Maxime. OK so I may be a biased, but a BELGIAN hockey player? Me likes! ;-) In all seriousness though, Maxime is yet another perfect book boyfriend in Aven Ellis' hockey world. He is insightful, caring, funny,... I know, I'm smitten. Oh, and have I mentioned there're cats in this book too?! Talking about a perfect match...
Apart from all the swooning that was happening while reading, there was a point where I was really annoyed with both of them... mostly Skye. I just wanted to shake her! Her doubts and hesitations, although completely valid, were almost exhausting. Over-analyzing and being careful and sensible is all good in real life, but losing yourself in the romance and just jumping in, blind... isn't that kinda what a romance novel is for? I know, I know, one of the best things about Aven's characters is how "real" they are, but still. More swooning, less worrying! 
I loved how hockey played a more prominent role in this book than in some of the previous hockey romances. Even though I'm not a big sports fan and I know next to nothing about hockey - apart from what Aven Ellis' novels have thought me - I love the scenes where practice schedules, tactics or games are featured. There's definitely room for even more hockey-related scenes in these novels. Same goes for Skye's career, actually! 
As always, I fell in love with the characters from the start and I loved going through the ups and downs with them and seeing how they dealt with everything thrown at them. Reality Blurred is a wonderful romance novel, with characters that are easy to love and hard to forget.


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.


Website/Blog -

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Book tour: Christmas at the Candied Apple Café - Katherine Garbera (Guestpost + GIVEAWAY)

There’s nothing so magical as Christmas in New York…
Santa is coming to New York!

Snow is falling, excitement is high and the delicious scent of chocolate drifts along Fifth Avenue – the Candied Apple Café is ready for Christmas! And no one is busier than publicist Iona Summerlin. With so much to do, she doesn’t have time to think about men, dating, or the fact her last boyfriend ditched her for her brother… Relationships are off the menu!
Hotel boss Mads Eriksson is not looking forward to the first Christmas since losing his wife. His six-year-old daughter Sofia has lost her belief in Christmas magic along with her mother, and he has no idea what to do. But an unusually festive business meeting at the Candied Apple – and meeting the beautiful Iona – starts to defrost Mads’ frozen heart, and suddenly life seems full of light and sparkle again.
If only they dare to believe, maybe all their Christmas dreams will come true!


USA Today bestselling author Katherine Garbera is a two-time Maggie winner who has written more than 60 books. A Florida native who grew up to travel the globe, Katherine now makes her home in the Midlands of the UK with her husband, two children and a very spoiled miniature dachshund.

Social Media Links  

Guest post!
Welcome to M's Bookshelf, Katherine!

Christmas Traditions!

It’s safe to say that most if not all of my traditions revolve around my family and food.  My earliest memories are of sitting in the kitchen at my grandmother’s house with my mom and her talking, laughing and eating.  I like to linger at the kitchen table when I have friends and family over.  There is something that just feels so right about it.

I can still remember the sadness and sense of loss I felt the year my grandmother died.  My mom and sisters and I helped pack up her house and we were drawn to the kitchen and her pots and pans and her cookbooks.  We split the cookbooks up and I found that the cookbooks were a link to her.  She’d written all sort of notes on recipes and left her own variations on pieces of paper in the books.

Whenever I use one of her recipes I feel like she’s right there in the kitchen with us, giving us kisses and telling us how wonderful we are.  One of those recipes is a traditional Italian Christmas cookie.  They are called struffoli.  They are little bits of fried dough coated in honey and sprinkles.  Now my kids and husband will tell you I have an unnatural propensity to use sprinkles on every holiday and on everything—ignore stories of the green sprinkles for St. Patrick’s day in the biscuits which made it look like they might be moldy.  J

Stuffoli receipe: 

2 cups sifted flour.  Mix in 3 eggs beat after each egg.  Add ½ teaspoon of vanilla.  Mix well to make a soft dough.  Roll into a long strip of dough (like when you gnocchi) and cut into 1 inch pieces.  Roll the pieces in your hand until they are round.  Drop into hot oil  and cooking until they are brown on all sides.  Take from the oil and drain on a paper towel for a few seconds then toss in honey and coat with brightly colored sprinkles.

What holiday food reminds you of your family?

Mmmm, getting hungry already! Bring on Xmas lunch/dinner! Thank you so much for stopping by, Katherine. I can't wait to try out your recipe. Happy Xmas!

Win 5 x Signed Copies of Summer in Manhattan 

5 lucky winners will win a copy of Summer in Manhattan, Katherine Garbera’s previous book for Harper Impulse.