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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Order on: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository

 
Thank you to Ali and Sphere for letting me participate in this fantastic blog
tour, check out the other posts shown on the banner below!
 
 
 

Blog Tour: Catch Me If You Cannes by Lisa Dickenson

Synopsis

Jess has decided it’s time to get out of her comfort zone and live a little. So when her best friend Bryony, a journalist on a gossip magazine, is sent to cover the Cannes Film Festival, Jess decides to seize the day and go along for the ride. Two weeks of sun, glamour and exclusive entry into celeb-filled parties is just the kind of adventure Jess needs.
 
Reality soon bites though when Jess and Bryony find they’re staying in a dingy hotel far away from all the action and Bryony’s expenses budget barely covers a glass of local wine. Undeterred, the two women are determined to live like the elite and enjoy one fancy night out to begin their holiday. So what if they have to tell a few white lies along the way? It’s just this once. No harm done . . . right?

Review

I have read Lisa’s previous novels and loved them all, you can guarantee she will put you in the mood for jetting off on a summer holiday when you read her Summer releases or cosy up by the fire for the Christmas novels, so there was no doubt in my mind that this one was going to be just perfection.
 
The cover is beautiful, the title is clever, and most importantly it has Lisa’s trademark humour. Add to this a bucketful of outrageous antics that are over the top, but if you can’t be over the top when you’re on holiday and in somewhere like Cannes, then when can you? If you have more money than you can possibly spend, your lifestyle is probably going to be pretty outrageous, so it was fun seeing Bryon and Jess, especially Jess,, living the life, even if you knew they were going to return from the holiday with a killer credit card bill.
 
Their antics were maybe spawned by their whole lies about being wealthy but lead to karaoke, staying in expensive hotel rooms for free and parties aboard super yachts to name a few. They were great fun to read, and naturally led to some funny scenes, for example when Jess is shopping for some glasses, but to some extent, it almost made Jess come more out of her shell, and also learn to take life as it comes and try to experience as much as she can, which is something I admire.
 
I really liked Jess, she was completely relatable. A bit of a closed book at the start about what pushed her to go on this holiday, but when she is more relaxed, her bubbliness shines through. Again, just like all of Lisa’s other leads, I would love to be her best friend, she was great fun to read.
 
Bryony had constant suspicion that there was bound to be a story deeper than the celebrity gossip that she hates but was sent to Cannes to cover. She was desperation to get into more serious journalism so I get she needed a story. She was such a great friend to Jess, and seeing them and their antics together was smile-inducing.
 
Leo was handsome and pretty much loved him from the get go, but some way through the book, I took a leaf from Bryony’s book and began to have my suspicions something was up, not quite to the dramatics that Bryony imagined, but something was up. Loved his character though, and also liked his friend as well.
 
This book is clearly another stunning summer novel from Lisa. It’s funny, outrageous in the best possible way with some heart to go with it.
 
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Published by: Sphere
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
 
View Book on Goodreads
Order on: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository
 
 Thank you so much to Clara for organising the blog tour, I was so happy to be asked to take part in this blog tour. Make sure to check the other participants out too and see what they thought!
 
 
 

Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses by Carole Matthews

paperheartsandsummerkissesSynopsis 

Christie Chapman is a single working mother who spends her days commuting to her secretarial job in London and looking after her teenage son, Finn. It can be tough just getting through the day but Christie has always found comfort in her love of crafting and any spare time she has is spent in her parents’ summerhouse working on her beautiful creations.
 
From intricately designed birthday cards to personalised gifts, Christie’s flair for the handmade knows no bounds and it’s not long before opportunity comes knocking. All of a sudden Christie sees a different future for her and Finn – one full of hope and possibility, and if the handsome Max Alexander is to be believed, one full of love too. It’s all there for the taking.
 
And then, all of sudden, Christie’s world is turned upside down.
 
Christie knows that something has to give, but what will she choose? Will she give up her dreams and the chance of real love? What price will she pay for doing the right thing? Can Christie find her happy ending

Review

I’ve read quite a few of Carole Matthew’s books, and absolutely adored them. Each one getting better, you know that Carole’s books are comfort reading at it’s finest. Unfortunately this book didn’t quite live to the high hopes that I held for it. I didn’t hate the book. The story was good and the writing was the same cosy style that I didn’t want to put down. What disappointed me with this book was Christie, the main character, who drove me crazy – and I promise it wasn’t just because she drunk red wine out of the fridge!
 
Christie is 42 and a single mum to 15 year old Finn. She works in London as a PA for a legal firm, commuting an hour each way. Her real passion lies in crafting. I found it really hard to connect and relate to Christie. Is it because she was older so I didn’t understand her? Was it her over reliance on her parents? I don’t know. She just really annoyed me. She was 42, but seemed so much older. She was also so down on herself, apologising for herself. I get she has low self esteem, but it got a bit tiring.
I also get she was busy commuting so had little time in the evenings to cook, so her parents were great to cook for her and Finn all week (plus they do her laundry and ironing), but there is a period where she has a few weeks off, and while I understand she was heavily stressed, I don’t understand why her parents needed to cook for her then too. Sure her parents wanted to help, and as I said she was under a lot of stress, but it would have taken her mind off it, just like crafting did. She was so dependent, I was begging for her to become more independent, to demand more from Liam (Finn’s dad) money wise. To attempt to look for a job closer to her house. She took small steps with her crafting, but even that wasn’t her doing, she was pushed by her parents and Finn. I just wanted her to do something. I get she’s a mother and Finn comes first, but she just frustrated me easily, it was like she was a mother first and a human second. I’m not a parent so maybe that’s the reason I don’t get this, but while it’s understandable maybe in the latter half of the book, I don’t get it for the first half. Especially when she sends an email fairly late into the book ARGH!
 
Finn on the other hand was great, constantly pushing his mum to step outside her comfort zone, which was much needed. Another person I really liked was Robyn, her boss, they had a really fun relationship. There is also a hilarious date involving Alpacas and it was the funniest scene in the book, hands down.
 
There was also a plot I felt under developed, It was mentioned Robyn (a lawyer) drafted an official letter to someone about a legal issue, and none of this was ever mentioned again. This would have added some great drama.
 
Overall this book wasn’t bad, I enjoyed the story but it was just disappointing to not get on board with the main character, who usually I really like in Carole’s books.
 
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Published by: Sphere
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
Out now in Hardback and ebook
Out April 6th in Paperback
 
View Book on Goodreads
Order on: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository
 
 
 
 

Blog Tour: Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson

Thank you to Sphere for inviting me to be part of this blog tour, I was so excited to take part and get into the Christmas spirit!

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Synopsis

Olivia has never experienced a snow-covered, ‘traditional’ Christmas before. Having grown up in a family that chose winter sun over decking the halls, she’s not sure what all the fuss is about. So when she and her colleagues are stranded in New York after a work trip, Olivia is perfectly happy spending the holiday season in the Big Apple.
 
Jon, Olivia’s friend, on the other hand is desperate to get home in time for his big family get-together. Nevertheless, determined to make the best out of the situation, he sets out to show Olivia how enchanting Christmas in New York can be. And when handsome New Yorker Elijah is added to the mix, could the magic of the season finally be working its charm on Olivia? As 25 December draws closer, Olivia suddenly finds herself with a decision to make: who does she really want to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Review

A Christmas novel set in my favourite place in the world automatically piques my interest, when it’s written by the same author as ‘You had me at Merlot’, one of my favourite books this year, then the level of excitement and expectation for this book goes to crazy levels. So no pressure to the author then! It lived up to everything I was hoping for with tons of laughs to join the warm feeling you get when reading this book.
 
New York is one of those cities that is pitched as a perfect place for Christmas, and this book’s description of New York, the landmarks and the snow add even more to the Christmas spirit.
Despite the oodles of Christmas spirit, this doesn’t come from our lead character like it normally does from Christmas novels, at least the ones I’ve read.
 
Olivia is witty and has the usual humour I’ve come to expect from Lisa. Add that to Olivia’s kindness, determination and general sense of fun, you do want her to be your best friend, and I am pretty sure I said something similar about Elle from ‘You had me at Merlot’. While she is worried and concerned on the inside, she is calm and composed on the outside as she deals with what would engage panic mode in me. Her only flaw (if you can call her that) is her inability to get in the Christmas spirit. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, her family aren’t very Christmassy, but this made the book even more magical in one way as she got to discover all the landmarks and things you associate with New York and Christmas, and I got to experience them from someone that was pretty much discovering Christmas for the first time.
 
Our other lead, Jon is so much fun. Even though Jon and Olivia don’t necessarily see each other as much as they would like, you can tell they are still close and have that great chemistry where they can just slot back into where they left off.
 
The supporting cast of characters are all fantastic in there roles, whether it’s the infuriating collage Jasmine, the anxious and young Abi or the couple that are “secretly” dating like Dee and Ian. It’s almost guaranteed you know someone that are like these people and this makes this book all the more fun to read.
 
This book is funny and left me with a warm cosy feeling inside where it lifted my spirits, especially when it came to Christmas and all the festivities that surround it. It is definitely one to put on your Christmas list, that’s if you can resist purchasing it before then. 
 
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Published by: Sphere
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
 
View Book on Goodreads
Order on: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository
 
Thank you again to the publisher for inviting me take part in this wonderful book’s tour, and check out the other blog posts shown below (click to see bigger version)!

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