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?

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

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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