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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The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

Slight change to my TBR, I first read this when The Casual Vacancy was released, and while I wasn’t in the blogging community then, there was at least a press hype about it since obviously any book after the Harry Potter series would have a massive amount of excitement and curiosity about it. I had to re-read it for my book club this month so thought I would include it as my Thunder Badge book.

casualvacancySynopsis

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. 
 
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war.
 
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils… Pagford is not what it first seems.
 
And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?
 
A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

Review

I didn’t know what to expect from this book before I read it. The synopsis doesn’t give too much away, but obviously, given that it was written by J K Rowling, I was going to read it out of pure curiosity.
 
One of the lines in the synopsis is ‘A big novel about a small town’ and that couldn’t be more apt. As someone who lives in a small town, I found some eerily similar connections from the way everyone knows everyone to the local politics, though this feeling of familiarity was certainly not helped by the fact that it’s set in the west country and has a bigger town near by called Yarvil… Guess who lives in the west country, where the biggest nearby town is called Yeovil? Yep, me!
What struck me about the book was how real it seemed. Despite the fact where I live has nicer people on the whole, and is far less dramatic, you can see everything that goes on in Pagford happening in at least similar situations.
 
This book switches viewpoint frequently and focuses on a lot of different characters, more than any book I’ve read. However it’s not confusing, which is amazing considering theres 12 points of view there (give or take). Some only get one chapter, some get much more, but it was great to read them all.
 
Although the cast is varied and vast, not many of the characters weren’t easy to like. Some were partly likeable, but the worser parts of themselves seemed to annoy me more than the good, but others were thoroughly detestable. From the get go, there is a very small number of people I liked throughout the whole book.
 
While this might put people off, I found this compelling. I needed to know what happens to them. Do they Change? Were they all they seemed, or like many people, was their an underlying reason for their actions? Not once did I feel like I wanted to put the book down, despite reading the towns inner thoughts. I cared about a couple of characters I needed to know that they were ok, and the outcome of the overall story arc, so that combined with my fascination of the inner workings of local politics and family politics, where every character seemed to have their own agenda had me hooked unto the end.
 
Some characters were simply terrible all the way through (Simon as an example) however some had two sides to them. Andrew is one of them. At first I disliked the way he dealt with his best friend, Fat’s bullying of Sukhwinder, just laughing and standing by, but on the other side of the coin, his home life was terrible, I really felt for him at times.
 
Krystal is a character that at face value is one of those people you would want to avoid. However almost from the get-go you can’t help but like her. It goes to show that you shouldn’t presume, just because someone is rude, mouthy, dressed scruffily and seems to make trouble that they’re a bad person. I can’t imagine having to cope with what Krystal copes with throughout the book. One scene in particular about halfway through was heart-breaking. She is given so little support from anyone, it’s terrifying that this could happen.
 
This book was simply fascinating. Concentrated on a small area, but there was a lot happening none the less. Though if I hear the word ‘authentic’ and ‘inauthentic’ one more time I may scream.
 
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Published by: Sphere
 
View Book on Goodreads
Order on: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository