A Year And A Day by Isabelle Broom

ayearandadaySynopsis 

For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she’s determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything – and she won’t let that happen again…
 
For Hope, the trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she’s struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it’s all her fault…
 
For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can’t stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past…

Review

I was really excited to read this book because I had heard rave reviews about ‘My Map of You’ but I resisted reading for a few months because I was visiting Prague so I thought I would read it a week or two so it was fresh in my mind and so I could get even more excited for my few days away.
 
The setting of Prague was perfectly described in loving detail. Before visiting myself, I almost knew the place. Prague is a very pretty city and Isabelle gets that across, it’s clear she loves the city, and I can see why. It’s great to see a book set in a location I’ve never read about before, a breath of fresh air. You completely felt the city, the atmosphere, the chill of the snow which gives it a slight magical feel and the romance of it all.
 
I loved the multiple, intertwining  storylines. Each character was different so they probably wouldn’t socialise in any other situation, but they made great friends, and looked out for each other in times of need.
 
Out of all 3 main characters I think that I related to Megan the most. Probably because Simon and I are around the same age as her and Ollie, and the activities that they got hip to sounds exactly like what Simon and I enjoy on holiday as well. Sight-seeing, random wandering and lazy afternoons in a bar. However at times Megan was incredibly frustrating with her denial of feelings with Ollie and fear of commitment. Ollie was such a genuinely nice person, it’s beyond me how she could have resisted, even despite her issues.
 
Hope and Charlie’s storyline had me humming and aching if I liked Charlie or not. Sure he was charming, but almost too charming, you know? Something came off as slightly controlling at times, but other times he seemed completely genuine. I did love this part of the story as well though. The couples dynamic was different to Meg and Ollie’s and my suspicion of Charlie put a different edge to it.
 
Sophie was more a closed book, she obviously is a bit down as she is waiting for her fiancé to join her, unfortunately he’s had to get a plane a few days later than her. Because she’s more closed, I felt like I got to know her less, but did love how her and Robin were so passionate on the outside, travel and adventure, and also how they celebrated their anniversary of meeting by visiting Prague, where they met, it was really sweet. She was very delicate, and it was understandable why the others felt protective of her.
 
I adored the descriptive writing, totally setting the scene for some drama, romance and emotion. Simply put, this book is intensely addicting and you need to read it to enjoy the magic for yourself. Now, I’m off to check when I can next go to Prague, as just thinking of this book wants me to pack my bags once more!
 
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Published by: Michael Joseph 
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
 
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The Little Café of Second Chances by J. D. Barrett

littlecafesecondchancesSynopsis

Lucy Muir is leaving her husband. It’s complicated.
 
As joint owners and chefs at one of the best restaurants in town making a clean break is tough. But, let’s face it, a woman can only take so much cheating, recipe stealing and lack of good grace.
 
Then Lucy happens upon an old, empty terrace that was once the city’s hottest restaurant: Fortune. One minute she’s peering through grimy windows into an abandoned space, the next she’s planning a pop-up bistro.
 
When Lucy fires up Fortune’s old kitchen she discovers a little red recipe book that belonged to the former chef, the infamous Frankie Summers. As Lucy cooks her way through Frankie’s recipes, customers come flocking and slowly Lucy begins to regain her confidence. It turns out that courage, passion and just a tiny bit of magic might be the secret recipe for a better life…

Review

Simply put this book is cute. A good sounding synopsis, a beautiful story with an unexpected element to it all interwoven with delicious recipes that I’m dying to try, especially those cheese soufflés.
 
The unexpected element I mentioned above is magical and supernatural, and while a surprise it was entirely welcome. It added more to the story, more depth, more history to the restaurant and Frankie’s life. The book had funny scenes, emotional scenes and scenes where you wanted to shout at the more despicable characters in the book. It was a great read from the start and the way it was written kept my attention throughout.
 
Paula is clearly a passionate and talented chef, and quite concientious too. Which is why her signing the contract and using the last of her money to get a lease on an old, delapidated restaurant ‘Fortune’ is  out of character but she’s both excited and nervous all at the same time. However, she has some great support from her best friend and it spurs her to strive even harder to make Fortune a success. She’s a great character, and her shy nature made it easy for me to connect to.
 
Frankie is the previous owner of Fortune, and we get two stories from him. One in the present day, where, while he can have a temper, you get to know a softer side to him. The other is the past when he owned Fortune, and for a lot of it you’re not sure if you like him or not, cheating on his wife and not being there for his only son isn’t a great character reference, but towards the end of the history parts, again he seems to show a more human side that’s easier to empathise with.
 
I loved Leith. Not quite the reaction I think the author was after, but he was so awful, I enjoyed his scenes immensely as I love a good villain. Someone I can roll my eyes at, or frown in anger while screaming at them (in my head).
 
As I said in the opening of this review, the book is a cute read. It has magical charm and the a wonderful sense of romance. The cooking sounded delicious and I will make sure to try some of the recipes for sure.
 
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Published by: Piatkus
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
 
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Miracle On 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

miracle5thavenueSynopsis

Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. Even if she is spending it alone housesitting a spectacular Fifth Avenue apartment. What she didn’t expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous–and mysterious–owner.
 
Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife’s death looming, he’s isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…

Review

So until February this year, I had yet to read any of Sarah Morgan’s book, plenty of them sitting on my kindle, but while I was working my way round to them, Sarah’s ‘Manhattan in Love’ series captured my attention, if you know me there will be no surprise as to why that is. Anyway, ever since I read ‘Sleepless In Manhattan’ I am a fully fledged Sarah Morgan fan.  The cover in this book is as absolutely stunning, the colours are gorgeous and the Christmassy, twinklyness of it is just beautiful. The series has just got better and better. I really enjoyed the first two books, don’t get me wrong, but Sarah has definitely saved the best for last. Throughout the last two books, Eva has been my favourite of the three girls, so I guess it was inevitable that I would feel this way.
 
The absolute best thing about this book was the New York setting, and how Sarah captures the atmosphere, essence and spirit of New York in all of these three books. It provokes memories of times I’ve visited the city. Many authors write about New York, and lots do it well, but Sarah in this book has captured it the best that I remember. I would love to read some books of hers set in LA  or real life places I haven’t been to, as I am sure she would do an equally good job there.
 
While I said the setting was the best thing in the book, but naturally her characterisation is also fantastic. Basically everything is polished and pretty much perfection in 352 pages.
 
Eva is a romantic at heart, and I completely connected with her from the first book, so couldn’t wait for a whole Eva focused book. She’s actually shows quite a feisty side to her at times, which made me smile. She clearly cares for people, and wants to make them happy, even though she’s hurting inside at the loss of her gran. I simply am a bit in love with Eva.
 
Lucas has a lot of mystery to him, and that makes him the perfect lead. He’s also very gruff and can come across as rude and stand-offish, but the sneak peeks you get at the ‘real’ him keep you holding out hope. Infact this book was almost like a Beauty and the Beast re-telling, but more like Beauty and the Stunningly-Gorgeous-Author.
 
If I had to sum up this review in three words? Buy it NOW!
 
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Published by: HQ Stories
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
 
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The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea by Jane Linfoot

thelittleweddingshopbytheseaSynopsis

Brides by the Sea, the cutest little wedding shop in all of Cornwall, has it all, including cake baker Poppy who lives upstairs. But wedding planning is not the piece of cake Poppy thought it would be, and when her best friend Cate’s wedding planner walks out, Poppy has to tie up the loose ends so her bestie can tie the knot.
 
Double-booked venues, ‘rustic’ locations and gorgeous but grumpy farmer Rafe have this wedding pro feeling like she could be Cate’s ‘something blue.’
 
Will the wedding, the shop and the cake all come crashing down on her? Or will Poppy pull it off to give Cate – and herself – the happy ever afters they deserve?

Review

Jane Linfoot has such pretty covers, especially this one. It’s impossible to ignore the beautiful illustrations and dainty colours.However I have never read any of her books before, so I set about correcting this pronto. I love weddings and everything that goes with it. The cake, the dress (especially the dress), the romance of it. So what better book to start with?
 
The book is fun and pretty light hearted. It has a few moments that are sad and thoughtful but overall it is a book where you can just sit back and relax. The writing style is good and draws you into the story, the times I had to put it down for work, food and sleep, I was always eager to pick it up as soon as I had a chance to.
 
Poppy was an incredibly relatable character. Most of us have had our hearts broken, and at times it seemed to hit Poppy harder, but for a lot of the time it was more an emotional attachment to her wedding dress than her ex, Brett. No that I really blame her, if I had found ‘The Dress’ I would get emotional too, but when you’re more sad over never wearing a dress rather than losing ‘The One’, then it’s clear that Brett was never Mr Right.
 
She sounds a really conscientious person who cares about everything she does and when she first started her job on the farm in an unorganised chaos, I really felt her nightmare and annoyance at the previous event manager’s lack of any form of professionalism. I was begging for a scene where Poppy and Carrie would meet, just so I could meet Carrie and see her infuriating and useless ways rather than hearing second hand about her ineptness from her boss and ex-colleagues.
 
The two best friends were great. They annoyed me a little at times, but when push comes to shove, whenever anyone needed help and support they were all there for each other. Poppy shows herself as incredibly generous and kind, especially to Cate, and I am sure that Cate would help Poppy if the tables were turned, especially as Poppy deserves it. Rafe was the dark brooding type, and even though he was a grumpy so and so, you could instantly tell he could steal anyone’s heart. the only character that really got on my nerves (other than bridezilla Nicole) was Jules, he always seemed a bit… I don’t know, slightly too cocky maybe but something about him put me on edge.
 
Simply put, this book was a perfect romantic read. I cannot wait for the rest of the series!
 
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Published by: HarperImpulse
Gratefully received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
 
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