Saturday, 16 February 2019

An Impossible Thing Called Love - Belinda Missen (Blog Tour)

Date of Reading: 22/01/2019
Author: Belinda Missen
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: November 18, 2018
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 4.5/5

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

About the book:

A second chance at love…

When globe-trotting Emmy first fell for first-aider William on a freezing New Year’s Eve, she really believed that their love would go the distance.

But when she returns to Australia, her letters start to go unanswered and her emails bounce back unread, Emmy decides it’s time to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and start afresh in London.

So she’s shocked when William walks in on her very first day at her new job! Even worse, he’s hotter than ever. But why did he disappear for so long? What has he been hiding? And could this really be their second chance at falling in love…?

Perfect for fans of Carole Mathews, Mhairi McFarlane and Carrie Hope Fletcher.

My Review:

        Belinda Missen does it again! After 'Recipe for Disaster', I knew she was going to be the queen of second chance romances and this story displays all her familiar charms at its finest. What I liked most about this author is her style of writing and the characters who leap out of the pages even if the story sounds a bit unrealistic. A girl and boy meet accidentally and falls in love within a span of a few hours, only to fail in the long distance relationship . . . and they meet again after years quite unexpectedly. What are the odds?
        I don't want to spoil your reading by giving out too much of the story. Obviously, you need to wait until the last pages to know what happened to the missing letters. And if you feel sorry for Emmy's boyfriend (like I felt), then don't worry, soon her actions will be justified. Then there is the cute romantic ending,  a romance reader's dream. Oh! I loved it!
       Altogether a perfect romance for the month of love . . .

Meet the author:

Author and sometimes foodie, Belinda is a ridiculous romantic who met her husband after being set up by a friend two states away. 

Residing in country Victoria, surrounded by books, cat-fur, and half-eaten cake, Belinda divides her days between writing rom-coms, baking, and indulging her love of comic books.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

The Prince - Samhita Arni

Date of Reading: 12/02/2019
Author: Samhita Arni
Publisher: Juggernaut
Publication date: February 10, 2019
My Rating: 5/5

(I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

About the book:

The famous dancer Madhavi is at the court of the
Chera king for a grand performance. The king’s first son, Shenguttuvan – the crown prince of the Cheras – is getting ready for his engagement to a Velir princess. There is celebration in the air.

But when an astrologer predicts that the second son Uthiyan is destined to be greater than his elder brother, the Chera court erupts in chaos. The courtiers begin to play the brothers against each other. Life becomes dangerous for Uthiyan and the prince is forced to flee his home in the garb of a monk.

On the perilous journey rife with assassins and conspirators, he is joined by others who seek refuge at the just court of the Pandya king. But darkness is descending on the ancient city of Madurai. Warriors from the west, the single-minded and ruthless Kalabhras, have set out to conquer the prosperous Pandya capital and change the face of Tamilaham. Tormented by rage and lust, beset by betrayal and terror, Uthiyan is forced to choose a side in a conflict that is certain to end in bloody violence.

My Review:

        I don't know how much my words could do justice to such amazing work, but I am going to try my best. This has been an epic journey filled with trials and tribulations and Samhita Arni deserves all the praise she has got so far. Her captivating writing effortlessly draws you into the glorious times of Chera, Chola and Pandya empires.
     I was expecting a retelling of 'Silappadikaram', the story a woman's wrath burning an entire city, but 'The Prince' is the story of its creation; in other words, here we get a glimpse of the eventful life story of Illango Adigal, the author of this great Tamil epic. Born as a prince, he takes the garb of a monk, when a prophecy comes out predicting his future greatness which will surpass his elder brother's. He sacrifices all his claims to the throne and leaves the intrigues of the court in pursuit of his greatest love: poetry.
      So be prepared, you are in for a roller coaster ride through great cities of Tamilaham and we will suffer along with Uthiyan when he undergoes the birth pangs leading to the emergence of a timeless classic. Thanks to Samhita, never will I pass the hostels named after this great man without remembering him. A phenomenal book that should not be missed...

Something to ponder:

"All art, all dance, all poetry and music seek to breach the boundary between the inner and the outer - between what is felt and what is seen, between the human and the divine, between the soul and the material forms of our world - making them one." - 42

"The truth is this - we are all seekers, for the knowledge that makes us content with our lot, content with what we are, to make peace with the tragedies that befall all of us." - 50

"We must respond to the new ways, we cannot keep with the traditions of the past merely because they come from the past. If we do so, we destroy ourselves." - 168

Meet the author:

When she was eight, Samhita Arni started writing and illustrating her first book. The Mahabharata – A Child’s View went on to sell 50,000 copies worldwide. Her second book, Sita’s Ramayana, a graphic novel, was on the New York Times bestseller list for graphic novels for two weeks. She is also the author of the novel The Missing Queen.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

The Tanglewood Tea Shop - Lilac Mills

Date of Reading:02/02/2019
Author: Lilac Mills
Publisher: Canelo
Publication Date: January 31, 2019
Source: NetGalley 
My Rating: 3.5/5

About the book:

Patisserie-Chef Stevie is stuck in a rut. Her beloved Great Aunt Peggy has passed away, she’s been fired from her job and the love of her life has walked out the door. But when she’s called to the solicitor’s office to hear the reading of Peggy’s will, Stevie’s life begins to change.

Left with a large amount of money, Stevie is determined to take Peggy’s advice and turn her life around. The quirky tea shop that she sees up for sale in the beautiful village of Tanglewood must be a sign, and Stevie can’t wait to make it her new home.

But what happens after your dreams come true? It turns out that life in the village isn't as idyllic as it may have seemed. With local mums waging war against sugar, a tea shop and its patisserie-chef owner are definitely not welcome.

When the gorgeous but grouchy local stable-owner, Nick, shows up he seems like just another fly in the pastry batter but as the two grow closer, Stevie realises he might just be the perfect reason to stay and win over the village...

This laugh-out-loud romantic comedy is perfect for fans of Daisy James, Holly Martin and Portia Macintosh.

My Review:

        I don't want to lie, I was planning to give up on this story without finishing. Glad that I have stuck through because the latter half more than made up for all the dull moments in the beginning. Stevie's buying of the tea shop and settling in the community takes half of the book and then only we get the glimpse of the exciting story we are promised. Especially when old lady Betty comes to the scene to play the perfect fairy godmother.
       I loved the cosy community, the tantrums of the black cat who is also named Peggy, but the one who has really touched my heart is Tia, who braves the world from a wheelchair. This book would have been really fascinating and unique if Tia was to be on the lead role. Sadly, that is not in my hands. But I do really hope that there will be such a story from the talented hands of Lilac Mills.

Meet the author:

Lilac spends all her time writing, or reading, or thinking about writing or reading, often to the detriment of her day job, her family, and the housework. She apologises to her employer and her loved ones, but the house will simply have to deal with it!

She calls Worcester home, though she would prefer to call somewhere hot and sunny home, somewhere with a beach and cocktails and endless opportunities for snoozing in the sun…

When she isn’t hunched over a computer or dreaming about foreign shores, she enjoys creating strange, inedible dishes in the kitchen, accusing her daughter of stealing (she meant to say “borrowing”) her clothes and fighting with her husband over whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Coming Home to Holly Close Farm - Julie Houston

Date of Reading: 05/02/2019
Author: Julie Houston
Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 5/5

About the book:

Charlie Maddison loves being an architect in London, but when she finds out her boyfriend, Dominic is actually married, she runs back to the beautiful countryside of Westenbury and her parents. Charlie's sister Daisy, a landscape gardener, is also back home in desperate need of company and some fun.

Their great-grandmother, Madge – now in her early nineties – reveals she has a house, Holly Close Farm, mysteriously abandoned over sixty years ago, and persuades the girls to project manage its renovation.

As work gets underway, the sisters start uncovering their family's history, and the dark secrets that are hidden at the Farm. A heart-breaking tale of wartime romance, jealousy and betrayal slowly emerge, but with a moral at its end: true love can withstand any obstacle, and, before long, Charlie dares to believe in love again too...

My Review:

       I have been a hardcore Houston fan ever since reading 'A Village Affair'. So I approached this new book of hers with some trepidation since a tiny voice inside me was reminding that I don't like war stories. Ya,  you got it right! Never been a fan of guns and bombs . . . I am more of a bow and arrow girl. Thus I am happy to announce that out of the two interconnected stories, I enjoyed the world war love the most. Well, that is Julie's writing for you. Who could ever disregard a star crossed love story?
         As you must have figured out already, there are two stories, going simultaneously in the past and the present. While Madge and James' story is the perfect love story that will give you dreamy eyes for some days, Charlie's story is more about family, sisterly bond and of course finding love again. If I have to pick my favourite characters, that is going to be Daisy and Madge. The former, because she reminds me a lot about my own younger sister who came to my defence all the time at school and Madge . . . because she is one hell of a lady.
        And there is the typical Houston humour which surfaces often enough, even with the serious theme  . . . not surprising considering the number of grannies taking part in the story 😆 
      Altogether a vibrant read you won't dare to put down. Highly recommended!!! 

Meet the author:

      Julie lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire where her novels are set, and her only claims to fame are that she teaches part-time at ‘Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding’s old junior school and her neighbour is ‘Chocolat’ author, Joanne Harris. 
         After University, where she studied Education and English Literature, she taught for many years as a junior school teacher. As a newly qualified teacher, broke and paying off her first mortgage, she would spend every long summer holiday working on different Kibbutzim in Israel. After teaching for a few years she decided to go to New Zealand to work and taught in Auckland for a year before coming back to this country. 
         She now teaches just two days a week, and still loves the buzz of teaching junior-aged children. She has been a magistrate for the past nineteen years, and, when not distracted by eBay, Twitter and Ancestry, spends much of her time writing. Julie is married, has a twenty-four-year-old son and twenty-one-year-old daughter and a ridiculous Cockerpoo called Lincoln. She runs and swims because she’s been told it’s good for her, but would really prefer a glass of wine, a sun lounger and a jolly good book - preferably with Matthew Mcconaughay in attendance.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

What Happens in France - Carol Wyer (Blog Tour)

Date of Reading: 19/1/2019
Author: Carol Wyer
Publisher: Canelo
Publication Date: January 28, 2019
Source: NetGalley 
Rating: 4/5
(This review is part of the blog tour organised by the publisher)

About the book:

“She stood and took her place in front of the camera... It was now or never”

Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when a primetime game show, What Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.

With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye.

Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish…

This heartwarming romantic comedy of friendship, family and laugh-out-loud adventures is perfect for fans of Kirsty Greenwood, Colleen Coleman and Marian Keyes.

My Review:

        This is undoubtedly the cutest book I found this year. Starting from the enticing cover (who could resist a pug?), it takes you into a roller coaster ride of fun, laughter and a taste of tears. We could pretty much guess the winners of the game show and the ending was also downright predictable, but that didn't prevent me from getting emotional at the concluding chapter.
        Bryony is both intelligent and witty, and Lewis handsomely completes the pair. The understanding we have in the beginning of Lewis being gay really helps one to concentrate on the game show and Hannah exclusively. A romance in the mix would have turned it quite awkward as it happened towards the end. But a story about a fun companionship, their quirky behaviours and humorous articulations can never be missed.
      This review won't be complete without a mention of Biggie Smalls, who dominates the cover page (for obvious reasons). After all, he is the one who brought the perfect prize to his newfound human companion.
       Overall, an enjoyable story with an idyllic setting. 

Meet the author:

As a child, Carol Wyer was always moving and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published and journalism in many magazines.

Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

From Mum With Love - Louise Emma Clarke

Date of Reading: 26/01/2019
Author: Louise Emma Clarke
Publisher: Aria
Publication: February 5, 2019
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

About the book:

Mum of one, Jess has had enough of endless diaper-filled days and her husband Chris has just the solution to vent her frustrations – a blog.
Jess loves her daughter more than anything, but sometimes she just wants a little bit of freedom – some time for herself. Cue a laptop, a glass of wine and the beginning of a life-changing journey.

Overnight Jess's inbox is full of notifications and before long she is officially a 'mummy blogger' but this new life comes with its own set of rules and regulations. With Queen of the Bloggers, Tiggy, blanking her in public, people recognizing her on the street and her life decisions suddenly judged by strangers Jess's idea of 'me time' is slowly becoming a full-time job.

Will Jess be able to find the right life/work balance? Or will she wish she'd never turned to a world online?

From the award-winning blogger behind 'Mum of Boys & Mabel'.

My Review:

        This book was an unexpected find in one of my random NetGalley searches and was refreshingly honest. I never believed in the so-called romantic picture of motherhood, but sort of thought that the greatest trouble is giving birth itself. Looks like, it is just the beginning of a whole lot of sleepless nights and pent up emotions.
       Anyone who is in the blogosphere can pretty much identify with Jess' new venture into writing and what I loved most about this book is her blog posts (not that surprising since the author is an award-winning blogger). In the form of letters to her daughter Bella, they talk about her initial struggles as a mother, but it all ends irrevocably in a positive note. I won't be human if I am not jealous of Bella. 
        It is with the conflict relating to Tiggy, the novel picks pace. I haven't met anyone like that before in this field, and I don't wish to be. Most of the time I was really happy to see Jess rising up to the challenge with the help of her sister and female companions. And that is what this whole book is about; motherhood is no bed of roses, but help is always there for those who ask for it.
        Altogether an enlightening read that hooked me from the very beginning . . .

Meet the author:

From Mum With Love is the debut novel of Louise Emma Clarke; the award-winning writer behind the blog 'Mum of Boys & Mabel'.

Louise was educated at Tunbridge Wells Girls' Grammar School and the University of Southampton, before moving to London to begin a career in publishing at magazines and newspapers including Daily Express, Take a Break, That's Life, Best Magazine, and Woman's Weekly.

After getting married in 2010, Louise moved to Dubai and worked as a freelance journalist for publications including Time Out Dubai, Time Out Kids, Aquarius Magazine, Gulf News, Baby & Child Magazine, and Dubai Confidential.

She started her blog in 2014, a few months after the birth of her second baby - and it quickly attracted a loyal following of over 100,000 mothers across the globe and won numerous awards for its relatable, humorous content.

Now living in the UK countryside with her husband and three children - Stanley (6), Wilfred (4) and Mabel (2) - Louise is moving into novel writing with the publication of From Mum With Love in February 2019.
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