Fat Chance by Nick Spalding

Synopsis

Meet Zoe and Greg Milton, a married couple who have let themselves go a bit.
 
Zoe was a stunner in her college days, but the intervening decades have added five stone, and removed most of her self-esteem. Greg’s rugby-playing days are well and truly behind him, thanks to countless pints of beer and chicken curry.
 
When Elise, a radio DJ and Zoe’s best friend, tells them about a new competition, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn their lives around. Fat Chance will pit six hefty couples against one another to see who can collectively lose the most weight and walk away with a £50,000 prize.
 
So begins six months of abject misery, tears, and frustration—that just might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to them—in another laugh-out-loud look at the way we live now from bestselling author Nick Spalding.

Review

Nick Spalding is an author where I’ve heard only good things about, and despite owning quite a few of his books on kindle, it’s only now that I decided to take the plunge and read one. I thought the premise of this would be something I could connect with since I am trying to lose weight myself, so thought it would be a good laugh that could accompany me through my own weight loss attempt.
 
Told in viewpoints of both Greg and Zoe, we see their struggles and also their triumphs as they attempt to win the weight loss competition. The writing was funny and some of the situations they get themselves into are hilarious and cringe-worthy at the same time.
 
At times, the book felt like a collection of essays/stories that Nick Spalding had previously wrote about weight loss, be it a humorous look at the cost of weight loss and exercise or what certain diets do to people. Then added the competition plot in order to make it into one story. I generally enjoyed it, but I would have loved it to feel more like a complete novel rather than a essay collection.
 
I would have loved to get to know the other contestants more, other than their caricatures of the stereotypes that they were designated when written.
 
On a similar note, and more integral to the story than the smaller roles in the book, I would also have liked to know Zoe and Greg more, outside of them trying to lose weight and their dilemmas surrounding that. The book talks a lot that people only see them as fat, but other than one small sub-plot which I feel could have been written about much more in depth, we, the reader, only get to see them as fat as we don’t get to know the other sides to them.
 
I didn’t hate Greg and Zoe, but at times I didn’t like them very much either. Zoe was the instigator of this weight loss regime, and seemed the least committed to it at times, maybe because I don’t think we got to see her realisation of making it work like we did with Greg, with Zoe the only attempts that stuck with me until over very far into the book was one fad diet and her selling her gym passes, which, lets face it could help with trying to lose weight. Other than this issue, there was also her friendship with Elise. They were best friends and then Elise done something that I know I would find tough to forgive quickly, and Zoe did so easily. Obviously they’re best friends, but that’s something we’re told, I didn’t feel it between them so don’t understand why Zoe was so forgiving.
 
Greg, despite being against entering this competition, clearly loved Zoe and really started to try for her, to keep her happy. He gets a personal trainer, and even though it’s hell, he keeps going and really tries his hardest. I don’t feel we really got that realisation with Zoe. The main problem I had with Greg was his desperate attempts at assuring us that HE’S NOT GAY AND IS MOST DEFINITELY MACHO. Seemingly every time he might have been doing something that could be considered by some as camp or feminine, such as attending musicals without a girlfriend, he made sure to put to rest any doubts about his masculinity that we may have had in our minds, even though, most likely we wouldn’t be having those doubts anyway.
 
The basic feeling is simple, I’m just really disappointed that I didn’t enjoy this book.
 
 
Published by: Lake Union
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
 
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New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan

Synopsis

Meet Molly
 
New York’s most famous agony aunt, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they’re other people’s. The only love of her life is her Dalmatian, Valentine.
 
Meet Daniel
 
A cynical divorce lawyer, he’s hardwired to think relationships are a bad idea. If you don’t get involved, no-one can get hurt. But then he finds himself borrowing a dog to meet the gorgeous woman he sees running in Central Park every morning…
 
Molly and Daniel think they know everything there is to know about relationships…until they meet each other that is…

Review

I loved the first 3 books in this series which focused on three women who start an event’s and concierge service and when I heard we were going to be treated to even more in the wonderfully romantic universe that Sarah creates in all her books.
 
In the new additions to the series, we follow 3 siblings, Fliss and Harriet, and their brother Daniel. This one focuses on Daniel, and we also get Molly, his love interest’s, perspective.  You learn what makes them laugh, what makes them tick and hints as to why they’re so scared of relationships.
 
Like previous books from Sara, the scene is perfectly set with locations in New York, where the scenes come to life thanks to the writing style being friendly and atmospheric. This trilogy is clearly going to have lots of doggy friends for us to meet as well as humans, and while I am a cat person, the two dogs in this book Brutus and Valentine, are totally adorable and complete characters in their own right, especially Brutus. It appears that it’s not just Humans that Sarah can write well.
 
I completely fell in love with Daniel, despite his wedding photo comment which I disagreed with. Even then it is hard to resist someone so charming and a complete gentleman, which is why it wasn’t hard to forgive him when he was less than honest about Brutus. The bond that grew between them was lovely to read.
 
I also liked Molly, but during part of the times she did annoy me with her insistence that she couldn’t fall in love. She loved Valentine, and while that is completely different, her lack of even consideration that she could fall in love with another human being, was frustrating. I understand she had bad experiences, but she was younger than me, or at least the same age, and there are plenty of people that haven’t found love yet. It is clearly obvious to see this from the outside though, whereas if I was in Molly’s shoes, I very may well feel the same. You are always your harshest critic.
 
I loved getting to know Fliss and Harriet a bit more, we did briefly meet them in the first three books, but getting this little deeper sneak peek at them make me sure that I will love the next two books in the series.
 
As if you couldn’t tell, I adore this book. It’s fun, romantic and the ideal book when you want to lift your mood and completely lose yourself in a book.
 
 
Published by: HQ
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
 
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The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara

Synopsis

One summer, property seeker, Serendipity Parker finds herself on the beautiful west coast of Ireland, hunting for a home for a wealthy Irish client. But when she finds the perfect house in the small town of Ballykiltara, there’s a problem; nobody seems to know who owns it.
 
‘The Welcome House’ is a local legend. Its front door is always open for those in need of shelter, and there’s always a plentiful supply of food in the cupboards for the hungry or poor.
 
While Ren desperately tries to find the owner to see if she can negotiate a sale, she begins to delve deeper into the history and legends that surround the old house and the town. But for a woman who has always been focussed on her work, she’s remarkably distracted by Finn, the attractive manager of the local hotel.
 
But will she ever discover the real truth behind the mysterious ‘Welcome House’? Or will the house cast its magical spell over Ren and help her to find true happiness?

Review

I’ve read most of Ali McNamara’s books, and enjoyed them, and with this book set in close proximity to my favourite of Ali’s “Breakfast at Darcy’s”, I was very excited to start this novel. It is clear that Ali has fallen under the magic of Ireland, the was she writes about it is beautiful, not just the sights, but the enchanting spiritual feeling to it. I wasn’t expecting the book to have a magical side to it, but it definitely added to the overall atmosphere and I really lied that addition.
 
The hotel sounded wonderful, luxurious, but with a cosy, rustic charm. Full of Irish spirit and some local legends which all added to the magical atmosphere and it was a great mix.
 
Ren was a very focused character and for a lot of the time, far too serious for her own good, amplified by the sharp contrast to her assistant, Kiki’s personality. Also she was grilling Fin on his secret, yet when Kiki asks her questions she was equally as secretive, so she was quite hypocritical, and realised it herself at times. Though even when Ren is in full serious or secretive mode, you do get a glimpse of her fun-loving nature when she lets her hair down, and it’s these moments that she shone and I knew I was being maybe a bit harsh on Ren.
 
Kiki was wonderful. She brightened up the room, and yes, she could be naive and a little ditzy, but she was just simply always happy and eager to please. As I said above her personality was a complete contrast to Ren’s and this balanced the book perfectly. I loved Kiki so much I would easily read a whole book with her as the star.
 
Finn is the manager of the hotel and he is simply lovely, if as mysterious as Ren at times.It’s clear that he and Ren are well matched, the ore both conscientious, caring, serious but genuinely fun when relaxed.
 
All of the other characters were equally as charming and friendly, especially Father Duffy.
 
The whole welcome house idea is fascination and while I am quite a sceptic (like Ren) when it comes to ‘feelings’ in a supernatural sense, I did enjoy Ren discover the house and learn to understand it.
 
Overall this book entranced and mystified me. I was desperate to discover the secret of the welcome house, just as much as Ren was. The book pulled me in and its mixture of fun and folklore kept me turning pages till the end.
 
 
Published by: Sphere
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review 
 
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Blog Tour: Summer’s Lease by Carrie Elks

Synopsis

Cesca Shakespeare has hit rock bottom. After one prize-winning play that ended in disaster, writer’s block turned up, moved in and got a Netflix subscription. Six years later, she’s just lost her crappy job and is about to lose her flat. Worse still, her sisters have no idea how far she’s fallen. So when her fairy Godfather offers her a free summer holiday in a beautiful Italian villa, she grudgingly agrees to try writing a new play. That’s before she finds out the house belongs to her arch-nemesis, Sam Carlton.
 
Having just hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons – again – Hollywood heart-throb Sam Carlton needs a place to hide out. Where better than his family’s gorgeous empty villa on Lake Como? Except when he arrives, it isn’t as empty as he’d hoped.

Review

It seems like ages since Carrie’s last novel ‘Fix You’ was released so I was excited when I saw that this book was releasing this summer. It sounded exotic, excitingly romantic and the ultimate book to relax with in summer.
 
The opening scene is in London where Cesca gets fired from another job, mind you maybe a cat café isn’t the best place for waitressing when you’re not an animal person, but most of us have had a job we’ve had to take for money, while looking for something else I’m sure. Anyway she manages to get a job house sitting a villa for the Carltons, who are quite a famous family. The start of the book is quite humorous when Cesca is talking to her cat café boss but you soon start to feel for Cesca when you realise there is some deeper than just laziness or uselessness at keeping a job.
 
The book is mostly set in Italy though on the aforementioned house sitting job. Near Lake Como, it truly sounded one of the most relaxing places on earth. You could easily waste away a week in one of the café’s, piazza’s or anywhere by the lake, even better on a private beach at the end of your luxury villa. Add that with the friendly and kind locals, the rustic and delicious food and of course the local wine, and you have yourself the perfect summer destination, and it’s so easy to imagine yourself there with Cesca. One of the best things I liked about the books is the ability to transport you anywhere with just words, and this book does it incredibly well.
 
Cesca was certainly a feisty character, never scared to let you know how she felt. As it happens she was also quite insecure, and while she had every reason to be mad at Sam, her extreme reaction was a clearly a reaction that masked her annoyance at herself as much as Sam, if not more, but then you’re always your own worst critic aren’t you? When relaxed though, you could see Cesca was lots of fun, and her exchanges with Sam while they were sparring were great to read, as was the scene where she had too much to drink and Sam found her.
 
Sam was obviously handsome and fairly self assured, not in the arrogant way Cesca accused him of. He was also sensitive though, especially with family so it was easy to like him. However I felt at times he was far too possessive at times, I don’t always like people telling people ‘You’re Mine’, it can be romantic, but the tone in which it sounded was like Cesca was a possession, not a human, meant to be loved in return as well. Generally though, Sam was incredibly likeable if you over-look this.
 
Christiano was charming as well, but at times he came across as too enthusiastic, though maybe it was just me. He was very passionate, and the attention he lavished on Cesca would embarrass me, as I don’t like to be the centre of attention to that extent, but that’s a personal thing, and maybe if I met someone like him, I would like to be told how amazing I am.
 
This book was definitely a summer scorcher. It’s got lots of fun moments, with just enough drama that makes you want to keep turning pages long after this book is finished. The epilogue is the picture of perfection, just like ‘Fix You’, which also had one of my favourite epilogues, this one’s ending satisfied my appetite to know what happens to our hero and heroine.
 
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Published by: Piatkus
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
Released on July 15th 2017
 

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