Sunday, 15 July 2018

Here Comes the Best Man - Angela Britnell (Blog Tour)

Date of Reading: 26/06/2018
Author: Angela Britnell
Publisher: Choc Lit
Place: UK
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Rating: 3/5

(This review is part of the blog tour organised by Rachel's Random Resources)

About the book:

Being the best man is a lot to live up to … 

When troubled army veteran and musician Josh Robertson returns home to Nashville to be the best man at his younger brother Chad’s wedding he’s just sure that he’s going to mess it all up somehow. 

But when it becomes clear that the wedding might not be going to plan, it’s up to Josh and fellow guest Louise Giles to make sure that Chad and his wife-to-be Maggie get their perfect day. 

Can Josh be the best man his brother needs? And is there somebody else who is beginning to realise that Josh could be her ‘best man’ too? 

My Review:

       I am not a fan of first sight love stories, preferring to read the gradual building up of a relationship. But the book kept me going partly due to the lovely repartees constantly engaged between the pair.  Josh, without a doubt, is the best man in the novel and captures our hearts with a frankness that is quite foreign nowadays.
        The novella comes as a sequel to "The Wedding Reject Table", but can be read as a standalone. I haven't read the previous one in the series, but the constant references make me think it has a good premise and now I will surely have to look into that. Chad and Maggie seemed to have gone through some high waters and now it's his elder brother's turn to reveal his cowboy charm.
        If I want to change anything about the book, then that will be the length. I couldn't shake the feeling that the book would have fared better with a slow take on things with some added insights into the characters. Is a week really enough for Josh to sort through his feelings towards his dad and for Louise to regain her courage to love again? On the other hand, the short length has its benefits and a single sitting will see you finished it in no time.

Meet the author: 

I was born in the beautiful county of Cornwall in southwestern England and grew up in a small village there. I return frequently to visit family and friends but especially to savour the cool rainy weather and hot tea. After school, I joined the Royal Navy and served for nearly six years. I held varying jobs from being the only woman in the staff of a sports centre to arranging social engagements for the Captain of the base. My last assignment was to Denmark where I thought I would spend a wild two years in Copenhagen only to discover I was being sent to a NATO Headquarters in a quiet town on the Jutland Peninsula. I was only disappointed for a while as I met my own tall, dark, handsome stranger there - a US Naval Officer named Richard who became my husband.

I have always been a voracious reader, even at 5 years old my school reports show a keen interest in English and very little in math - some things never change! Although I enjoyed writing in school it wasn't until 2001 that I was tempted to take a creative writing class at a local recreation centre which has sparked my new career.

When I'm not busy writing I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I try to grow English flowers in the Tennessee heat and succeed some of the time. I belong to the wonderful Red Bandanas Writing Group, Jubilee Readers Book Club, and volunteer at my local library so you can see that words are important to me.

I hope you enjoy reading my work as much as I enjoy writing it so sit back, make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy a break from everyday life.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Matchmaking for Beginners - Maddie Dawson

Date of Reading: 23/06/2018
Author: Maddie Dawson
Publisher: Lake Union
Place: Seattle
Year: 2018
Rating: 4/5
From: NetGalley

About the book:

Marnie MacGraw wants an ordinary life—a husband, kids, and a minivan in the suburbs. Now that she’s marrying the man of her dreams, she’s sure this is the life she’ll get. Then Marnie meets Blix Holliday, her fiancĂ©’s irascible matchmaking great-aunt who’s dying, and everything changes—just as Blix told her it would.

When her marriage ends after two miserable weeks, Marnie is understandably shocked. She’s even more astonished to find that she’s inherited Blix’s Brooklyn brownstone along with all of Blix’s unfinished “projects”: the heartbroken, oddball friends and neighbours running from happiness. Marnie doesn’t believe she’s anything special, but Blix somehow knew she was the perfect person to follow in her matchmaker footsteps.

And Blix was also right about some things Marnie must learn the hard way: love is hard to recognize, and the ones who push love away often are the ones who need it most.

My Review:

       I added this to my overflowing TBR pile, due to the numerous positive reviews I found on the web. And the novel won't disappoint you a bit. As you must have guessed already, the storyline is unique and the incorporation of magic realism blends well with the plot.
        What interested me most was Marnie, the imperfect heroine. I have seen many complaining of her as she has cheated on her fiance. Well, obviously that is a major issue, but may be that is what makes this novel dear to our hearts. Even with the little magical powers involved, this splashes us with reality, giving a break to perfect Cinderella stories.
         Then there is Blix, who I think have blixed all us readers. One could almost feel her wishes of happiness flowing throughout the book, seeping into our bloodstream and to our heart. Her matchmaking projects are one of a kind and many a time I felt really jealous as to how she marched on with her life.
        All in all, I will recommend this precious book to anyone looking for a different romance read. It will surprise and enthral you till the very end!

Meet the author:

I'm the author of seven novels about love, crazy families, secrets, parenthood, and--yes, they have reasonably happy endings. Kind of like life. My newest, Matchmaking for Beginners, is released on June 1, 2018. My other novels are The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness, The Opposite of Maybe, The Stuff That Never Happened, Kissing Games of the World and A Piece of Normal
My first novel, What Comes After Crazy, was written under the name Sandi Kahn Shelton

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Girl in the Castle - Lizzie Lamb

Date of Reading: 13/05/2018
Author: Lizzie Lamb
Publication Year: 2017
Rating: 4.5/5

(This review is part of the blog tour organised by Love Books Group Tours)

About the book:

Her academic career in tatters, Dr Henriette Bruar needs somewhere to lay low, plan her comeback and restore her tarnished reputation. Fate takes her to a remote Scottish castle to auction the contents of an ancient library to pay the laird's mounting debts. The family are in deep mourning over a tragedy which happened years before, resulting in a toxic relationship between the laird and his son, Keir MacKenzie. Cue a phantom piper, a lost Jacobite treasure, and a cast of characters who - with Henri’s help, encourage the MacKenzies to confront the past and move on. However - will the Girl in the Castle be able to return to university once her task is completed, and leave gorgeous, sexy Keir MacKenzie behind?

My Review:

       The book's cover was not to my taste and being averse to highland adventures, it was not my intention to read it. But then comes the matter of heroine who is an academic which I can't pass on. So here I am, finishing another enchanting novel and happy in being so wrong in first impressions. 

Here are the reasons why I enjoyed the story so much:

Protagonist: As mentioned above a willful heroine with strong academic credentials is one of my weaknesses. And Dr. Henriette Bruar more than qualifies the description. She reminded me a lot of Evelyn in "The Mummy", with all her I-am-the-expert speeches. The author has managed to weave along with it the not so pretty picture of the university politics showing the cutthroat competition that has begun to degrade even our scholarly pursuits.

Setting: An ancient Scottish castle -- the most beautiful background for an amazing Gothic romance! Added to this is the perfect blend of supernatural, family tragedy and a hidden treasure making this an unforgettable read. If you haven't visited the Highlands, after this you will definitely want to.

Characters: Author creates a cosy scene with a few servants, the master and his son. Even the wicked cousins are difficult to hate. I loved Sandy aka Alexander even though he is far from being the rugged hero.

Narration: The omniscient narrator follows the perceptions of Henriette which was a welcome change from the usual romance reads. Kind of felt like going through the modern 'Jane Eyre'.

      All in all, I will recommend this book to anyone who likes romance with a slight sprinkle of mystery.

Meet the author:

After teaching her 1000th pupil and working as a deputy headteacher in a large primary school, Lizzie decided to pursue her first love: writing. She joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), followed a year later by Boot Camp Bride. Although much of her time is taken up publicising her novels she published a third novel Scotch on the Rocks in July 2015. It achieved Best Seller status within two weeks of appearing on Amazon. Her latest novel Girl in the Castle was published in 2017 and reached #3 in the charts. Lizzie is a founding member of indie publishing group – New Romantics Press and has held author events in many venues and loves meeting readers. In March 2016, Lizzie was a finalist in the prestigious Exeter Novel Prize for Scotch on the Rocks. In November, she co-hosted an author event at Aspinall, St Pancras, talking about writing and the amount of research she puts into her novels. Lizzie lives in Leicestershire (UK) with her husband and a naughty parrot called Jasper.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

What Kitty Did Next - Carrie Kablean

Date of Reading: 23/05/2018
Author: Carrie Kablean
Publisher: Red Door
Year: June 2018
Rating: 3.4/5

(This review is part of the blog tour hosted by Love Books Group Tours)

About the book (Goodreads):

England, 1813. Nineteen-year-old Catherine Bennet lives in the shadow of her two eldest sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, who have both made excellent marriages. No one expects Kitty to amount to anything. Left at home in rural Hertfordshire with her neurotic and nagging mother, and a father who derides her as "silly and ignorant," Kitty is lonely, diffident and at a loss as to how to improve her situation. 
When her world unexpectedly expands to London and Darcy’s magnificent country estate in Derbyshire, she is overjoyed. Keen to impress this new society, and to change her family’s prejudice, Kitty does everything she can to improve her mind and manners—and for the first time feels liked and respected. 
However, one fateful night at Pemberley, a series of events and misunderstandings conspire to ruin Kitty’s reputation and she is sent back home in disgrace. But Kitty has learnt from her new experiences and what she does next will not only surprise herself but everyone else too.

My Review: 

       It goes without saying that I am a HUGE Austen fan. But I am not fond of sequels as they usually never live up to the original. Still, the cover was too persuading and I also felt the need to relive the characters and gave it a try. I would have liked to read about Mary rather than Kitty as she is the bookish sister.
      Kablean does a nice work of capturing the spirit of  'Pride and Prejudice' using almost similar language and narrative style. Nothing happens much in the first half other than what is described in the cover blurb -- gatherings, visits and dresses. We are slowly eased into the world of the sisters again, but this time Jane is going to be our favourite. Then comes the conflict resulting in Kitty's disgrace and after that the story takes momentum.
      You might be wondering about Kittie's love interest, and though I am itching to reveal that, it will be better if you find it yourself. It is only in the last pages the readers are enlightened as to who it is and until then it was quite fun guessing. Happy reading!!!

Meet the author:

I was born and raised in London and came to Sydney in 1990. I love both cities - shame they are so far apart.

I have always loved reading and when I was a kid and the mobile library made its weekly stop nearby I read anything in the historical fiction genre I could get my hands on. Especially loved Tudor England. Then Jane Austen came into my life and never left. And I started working my way through other great English classic novels (an ongoing pastime). But my tastes range farther afield too, Junot Diaz, Stella Gibbons, Tom Wolfe, Graham Greene, Karen Joy Fowler, Alice Sebold.... have to stop, it will go on forever.
The theatre is also a passion. I reviewed for The Sunday Telegraph for more than a decade, and still post the occasional review. 
I was a journalist with The Australian for more than 20 years, and now write for my own amusement - and hopefully yours!     

Don't forget to check out the other stops in the tour 

Friday, 15 June 2018

The Forgotten Guide to Happiness - Sophie Jenkins

Date of Reading: 15/06/2018
Author: Sophie Jenkins
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: July 26, 2018
Rating: 4.5/5
From: NetGalley 

About the book:

You can lose your memory, but you never forget how to love…
Lana Green has a talent for pushing people away. As a writer, she’s perfectly happy to be left alone with her books. But when she meets Jack Buchanan and Nancy Ellis Hall, Lana’s solitary life will change for ever.

Nancy has dementia, and social services believe this makes her vulnerable. But Lana can see the funny, brilliant woman underneath the illness.

As Lana and Jack struggle to keep Nancy out of a care home, Lana starts to question everything she ever thought mattered.

Because what’s the point in stories, if there is no one to share them with?

My Review:

       Have you ever read a book that makes you feel warm, happy and content? If you have gone through a similar experience, then you won't be able to pass this one by. The stunning debut with its unique perspective and story line will endear anyone with at least a small inkling to write.
        The story was quite engaging from the start itself and we immediately connect with Lana Green, the author of a single famous romantic novel whose life is now in shatters. Her quirky but insightful comments on other writers (especially the one about Hemingway) and about writing had me grinning from ear to ear.  
       And I never thought that someone with dementia can contribute so much fun. In reality I don't think they will, but here I completely agree with Kitty, "no one wants to read how it all went wrong . . . they can look to their own lives for that sort of thing."
      The characters we meet are also quite distinctive, starting from Nancy. Then there is Jack and we can't but admire how he pedalled  through some really dark periods in life. Love is insanity (some loves at least) and it is good to see him so forgiving. He has become one of my favourite heroes.
      That being said, I won't classify this as a romance novel since that plays only a minor role here. This is a writer's search for her novel, that particular story which is waiting for her to be written. Endowed with one of the perfect endings, this uplifting book will make you happy irrespective of whether you forgot the feeling or not. 

Something to ponder ...

"Generallay, you have to be thin-skinned to be a writer, so you can be insightful and all that, but you have to be thick-skinned too, because no one in the history of the written word has ever written anything that everyone likes" - Loc 169
"I can spot a teacher a mile off. They'r e the ones telling people off." - Loc 427

"Self-pity is seductive, but it makes you pitiful." - Loc 479

"A photograph is like a stare, a voyeuristic activity in which you can study someone with all the time in the world and make up a narrative about them" - Loc 2982

"The problem I've always had with real life is, you never know what's going to happen." - Loc 3986

Meet the author:

Sophie Jenkins
Sophie Jenkins is a serial joiner of writing groups and workshops and a prolific short story writer. To encourage her creativity she regularly enters half-marathons and trains by running from her home in North London to breakfast in the centre of town with a notepad.

The character of Nancy in The Forgotten Guide to Happiness is based on her experiences with her own mother, who was diagnosed with dementia fifteen years ago.  

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Clutch - Lisa Becker

Date of Reading: 08/06/2018
Author: Lisa Becker
Publisher: Becker Press
Publication Date: October 10, 2015
Rating: 4.3/5
From: NetGalley 

About the book:

Clutch is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.  

My Review:

        A completely predictable, utterly enjoyable romantic comedy -- that is how I would like to describe this novel. Starting from Caroline's days at Harvard, it follows the friendship and witty banter she shares with Mike. Mike is a playboy who leaves behind a string of broken hearts everywhere while Caroline is in search of the Mr. Right or the 'Clutch'. Clutch is the name of her business venture, something she has built because she held onto her passion. Now she needs a man whom she can hold onto.
         There follows a series of dating adventures with the chapter titles giving a rough notion about the suitors. The only downside is, we know it will all end badly, that is until we reach the chapter 'Clutch'. So a small advise: better not read this in one sitting, it tends to be a bit boring then.
        More than Caroline, I liked the character of Mike. He has an insight that Caroline totally lacks. We can't but wonder how she became a successful businesswoman. Still, it was total fun reading about her dating blunders :)

Meet the author: 

Lisa Becker is a romance writer who spends her time like she spends her money - on books and margaritas. In addition to Clutch: a novel, she is the author of the Click trilogy, a contemporary romance series about online dating. As Lisa’s grandmother used to say, “For every chair, there’s a tush.” Lisa is now happily married to a wonderful man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach, California with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened to her, there’s hope for anyone! You can share your love stories with her at 
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