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Chloe S "Chick Lit Chloe" (Berkshire, UK)

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Secret Santa
Secret Santa
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A fab christmas secret!, 22 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Secret Santa (Kindle Edition)
'Secret Santa' is the story of Sue Montaigne, one of the people who is the heart of the community for the residents of Poldore. After helping out after the recent floods which ravaged the village, Sue is trying to get her own home (well, okay, castle) back together. But there's financial problems, marital problems and Sue is just struggling to cope. It's about to get worse this Christmas when her usual Santa retires before he can put on the red jacket once more, and Sue is at her wit's end in trying to find someone else to be the Santa. Sue decides to rope in local celebrity Blake to try and get a Santa, but to no avail. Just as she is ready to give up, a mysterious stranger called Nick arrived, volunteering to be her Santa. Will Sue accept, and start to get her life back together?!

There was something really touching about this story. Sue, in the previous books, has been quite loud and brash, sticking her nose in everyone's business, helping out the village when she can, but in this book we see a very different side to the character, and I really enjoyed that aspect of it. Her marriage has broken down now that her husband has run off with his latest fancy-woman, the castle is falling down around their ears, and Sue feels like she has no-one to turn to. Of course, residents of Poldore including Tasmyn, Alex and Ruan are more than willing to help if Sue would only admit her problems to them and let them in! Sue is a proud woman, you can understand that, and I felt desperately sorry for her in her spiralling state, she seemed to lost and stuck.

I enjoyed catching up with the previous characters a lot. We met Alex and Ruan in the first book 'Just for Christmas', and Tasmyn was the main character in Scarlett's last book 'Two Weddings and a Baby'. It was fun to find out what they were up to now, and how their lives had fared since we left them last. I especially loved how they pulled together to help Sue in her time of need, they all acknowledged how much help she had given them, and so wanted to help her get back on her feet.

The Christmassy element of this book was perfect for me. It's fast approaching the time for Sue's annual Christmas do, and she hasn't got a Santa. I loved reading about the Christmas preparations, around the castle and the town, as well as for Sue's do, it really left me with a warm, festive feeling. The character of Nick was a bit of a strange one for me, I couldn't fathom him out at all throughout the book, although he certainly seemed to have something a tad magical about him! Blake, the local celebrity, was a breath of fresh air too, he seemed to normal considering his star status, and I liked how he was willing to help Sue out and make her feel special, even though she didn't necessarily feel it.

This was a great foray back into the world of Poldore and it's residents for fans of Scarlett Bailey, and I certainly hope that this won't be our last outing to the village, as I want to see what is up next for the residents! There were a few revelations in this book too, so I would love to see how they pan out! This was just the right length for a short story, enough for you to get your teeth and was the perfect thing to sit down with with a blanket and a hot chocolate for the evening. Scarlett Bailey's writing is, as usual, second to none, and I didn't want to stop reading this story until I'd reached the end! A fantastic read!"

The Year of Taking Chances
The Year of Taking Chances
by Lucy Diamond
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Take a chance on this!, 22 Feb. 2015
I love Lucy Diamond's books, so I was really excited when I received a proof copy of her latest book The Year of Taking Chances. Complete with a gorgeous turquoise cover, the story sounded very readable, and certainly the perfect sort of read for it's New Year's Day release date. I didn't get around to it until this month, but once I had started, I didn't want to put it down!

Gemma and Spencer seem to have the perfect marriage. They've moved into a gorgeous old house, have 2 beautiful children and don't have any worries. But when Spencer suffers a serious accident at work, their idyllic home life is thrown into disarray, and Gemma is the one left picking up the pieces. Saffron, a PR Executive living in London finds herself being pushed to her limits when she makes a shocking discovery. She escapes to a holiday cottage where she meets Gemma at her New Year's party. There, they also meet Caitlin, a childhood friend of Spencer going through her own tough time. The three women strike up a newfound friendship. and find themselves rethinking their lives when they are all dealt a tough hand...

One thing I love about Lucy's books is the multiple characters and their own stories within the one book. I also love how she brings them together, and this was definitely the case in this book too. The three women in this story were each very likeable, realistic and I thoroughly enjoyed following their stories until the end. Gemma was the character I felt I connected with most of all. She is a devoted wife, and struggles once Spencer has his accident. She tried her best, and really found the whole situation tough to manage, especially Spencer's mood swings. I felt incredibly sorry for her trying to balance everything and keep everyone, except herself, happy. Even when she found her own job as a talented dressmaker, she had no confidence in her own abilities, I was so pleased her friends encouraged her. Spencer's story was difficult to read, but something that could happen to any of us. I was pleased to see such a thing being highlighted in a book, and it shows how even the strongest and happiest person can be broken by something.

The stories of Saffron and Caitlin were also extremely readable. Saffron is a career girl, happy to date around, but when she's thrown a curveball, she's unsure of how to react and deal with the situation, especially as she's alone. She again flees to the holiday cottage in Larkmead where she relies on her new friends Gemma and Caitlin to help her make a brave decision. Caitlin is struggling with the loss of her beloved mother, this was quite an emotional storyline, especially when she discovers her mother was keeping secrets from her. Both women were likeable, you could imagine them being people you know, and I felt for their situations and what they were going through. The friendship between the women was sweet, they didn't judge each other and instead spurred each other on to make the best of themselves.

What I liked about this book was that it wasn't about making New Year's Resolutions, lose weight, eat healthily, all the sorts of things we do for a few weeks and then give up until the next New Year rolls around. Instead, it was about making brave life choices that would have positive implications on the rest of their lives going forward, and how it takes the courage to make such decisions, especially when it wasn't something you were ever planning for. It was very heart-warming and inspiring to read. It showed that while you may have bad things happen, you can always turn it around - let others help you, don't just rely on yourself and how important friendship can be, especially in the tough times. Lucy Diamond's writing was just brilliant, drawing me into the story more and more and it left me with a warm, happy feeling as I turned the final page. Thank goodness Lucy is back this summer with a brand new novel, I love her stories! This one was a brilliant read, definitely recommended.

Driving Home for Christmas
Driving Home for Christmas
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I was Driving Home to read this!, 19 Feb. 2015
The book is mainly told from Megan's point of view, and so we mostly get her feelings on things as the book progresses. It's clear straight from the start that the reason Megan left was that she got pregnant young, and her parents were very disapproving, instead hoping their daughter would be a high-flier and manage a super career to make them proud. Megan left while she was pregnant, and they've never met her daughter Skye. Teenage pregnancy is far more common and acceptable these days, so it was a surprise to read about characters that were disapproving of such a topic, although it definitely made a change to read this. I felt incredibly sorry for Megan, being pushed away from her family when she so desperately needed their love and encouragement, but luckily she had her aunt there to look after her once Skye was born.

I loved the character of her aunt Anna. She was full of life, and you could tell how devoted she was to both Megan and Skye, allowing them to live with her, no questions asked when they needed to. She loved glamour, and together with her lodger Jeremy, both of them helped Megan to raise Skye. There are many different relationships in this book, but the one Anna and Megan share was the sweetest for me. I do want to mention the character of Skye as well. So many writers struggle with writing children into their novels, and I always find they come across far too old for the age they are meant to be in the book. However, this certainly wasn't the case for Skye - she was written perfectly. A feisty, independent and clever young girl who is fiercely protective of her mother but also just craving a life with the family she never had. I loved Skye, and she was certainly my favourite character in the book.

The story of this book revolved mainly around the developing relationship between Megan and her former flame Lucas. The book kept delving back in time to their past, showing us what happened between them, why Megan left Lucas behind all those years ago, and how he coped once she had left. It was a sweet love story, I was willing for Megan to give Lucas the chance to prove he isn't the cad that she assumes him to be, and as the book progresses, we certainly see what a sweet and kind-hearted person he is, as well as a talented musician! I very much enjoyed how the book was written, filling in the gaps of Megan's past as it went on, so by the end we had a full understanding of what happened, and it felt complete which was fantastic. The writing was incredibly easy to read and get absorbed into, and I enjoyed the book from start to finish. I look forward to reading more from A. L. Michael, this was a great book!

What Happens in Tuscany...
What Happens in Tuscany...
Price: £2.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need to find out What Happens in Tuscany!, 19 Feb. 2015
Katie is at a loose end when she applies for a rather unusual job - to go and work at a stately home helping a young aristocrat come to terms with the modern world, and open her eyes up for her new life. Her own relationship is in the gutter, she's fed up with her job and she desperately needs a change, and this job sounds like just the ticket. Lady Victoria Chalker-Pyne has spent her 25 years on this planet locked up at Iddlescombe Hall thanks to her over-protective father. Now he has died, she is ready to start finally living, and needs Katie's help to navigate the scary modern world - phones, TV's, Twitter, Facebook and modern day language! The pair strike up an unlikely friendship, and begin changing Victoria's life, and set off on a summer holiday to Victoria's family villa in Tuscany. Life for both ladies is about to get a whole lot more exciting...

Something about this book just worked for me right from the beginning. I really liked the idea of the story, of someone having their eyes opened to the modern world that we live in and take for granted, so that was very eye-opening as a reader too! You can't help but feel incredibly sorry for Victoria having lived such a sheltered life, through no fault of her own, and I really detested her father for what he has done to her. Yes, he did it for what he felt were the right reasons, but ultimately no-one has the right to hold another person captive which is essentially what Victoria's father was doing. However, Victoria was so sweet, loving her new life with Katie, and you can't help but love seeing her open as a person as she explores her new world.

Katie really opened up once the book got going too, and helping Victoria open her eyes was also good for Katie too, showing her some new opportunities that she badly needed in her life too. She is really kind and patient with Victoria, and the friendship between the pair is fun to read as it progresses. There are several male characters in the book, and although I got them muddled a little bit in my head, I soon straightened it out and was able to easily follow who was who. There's olive tree man Paul Taylor, Victoria's old school chum Tom (who lives near her home in England), Martin, Katie's friend from the UK and Marco, an exuberant Italian who left a big smile on my face. But my favourite had to be Dante the labrador, what a gorgeous dog! You can see why Katie loved going on long walks through the Tuscan hills with him by her side.

I really loved the descriptions in the book of Tuscany. I have never been to this part of Italy myself, but T. A. Williams writes it so vividly that you can picture it in your mind as you are reading! Victoria's villa was sensational, I could imagine every nook and cranny, but also I could imagine the town, where Katie goes exploring, the other villas they visit, the hills, the olive trees, everything was evocative of Tuscany, it was just wonderful to read. T. A. Williams has certainly improved his dialogue writing for this book too - it flowed much more realistically and felt like I was reading a conversation, as opposed to the stilted dialogue I had encountered before. Yes, there are a few different romantic interests going on in the book, and it was fun trying to guess who the characters would end up with by the end, if anyone! The story was incredibly fun to read, and it was a truly escapist tale, I felt like I could be in the gorgeous kitchen of Victoria's Tuscan villa eating bread with them! I'd highly recommend this book, I loved it and I'm looking forward to more from T.A. Williams!

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes
by Anna McPartlin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Emotional rollercoaster of a read...but well worth the tears., 19 Feb. 2015
For some reason, I haven't yet had a chance to read anything by Anna McPartlin. I requested a copy of her latest book The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes on Netgalley a few months ago now, and it got pushed back the influx of festive reads that flooded my Kindle in November and December. Finally, in early January I decided to give it a try. I had heard it was a very emotional book, but I thought I was prepared for that when I started reading. Well, I wasn't. It made me cry - not pretty tears either but wracking great sobs, tears pouring down my face. Yet through the sadness, it was an utterly brilliant read, and one I can't hesitate to recommend.

Rabbit Hayes is dying. She's got terminal cancer, and there really isn't long left for her on this planet. She knows it, her family knows it, but that doesn't make the fact any easier to deal with. Rabbit moves into a hospice, somewhere she can get the care she needs in her last few weeks, but her family are struggling to deal with this fact. Her father is in denial about her condition, her mother more accepting but still determined that a miracle can happen and that Rabbit won't die after all. Rabbit's young daughter Juliet doesn't want to contemplate reality without her mother, but is finding it hard to copy. Rabbit has had a life of love, fun and music, and in her last few days wants to relive as many memories and spend as much time with her loved ones as possible.

As you can probably tell from the blurb for this story, it is incredibly sad. It's no secret that Rabbit is dying, that much is made clear from the start of the book but it doesn't make it any easier to come to terms with. Even though Rabbit is a fictional character, so many stories like this are rooted in reality, and you cannot help but relate it to yourself and your own family as you're reading - how would you cope if you were in Rabbit's shoes, or her parents, or siblings? It's a horrid, unbearable thought but as I was reading, I couldn't help think about these questions, and it does make it all the emotional and poignant to read. Someone out there is going through what Rabbit is, and it's a heart-breaking reality, one that you feel so badly for for Rabbit and her family.

I loved the character of Rabbit. She seems very accepting about her fate - perhaps it is the fact she is in immeasurable pain and sees her imminent demise as a release, but equally she is struggling with the reality of leaving her young child behind, without a father, and how Juliet will cope once she has gone. This, for me, was the hardest part of the story. I was in tears reading many parts of this book related to this mother/daughter relationship, and as a parent, you don't want to leave your kids behind without you to protect them. Rabbit was facing this very fate, and it was a heart-breaking one, it was so well written that you were feeling Rabbit and Juliet's emotions along with them, as well as thinking how I would cope were I in her situation, it's an unbearable thought.

The relationships between Rabbit and her parents were also well written. The pair love their daughter very much, and struggle to deal with her drifting away in front of their eyes. For me, I found Rabbit's father Jack's bit of the book the most emotional of all - he simply could not imagine his life without his youngest daughter in it. He's in an almost state of denial, and I was honestly moved to tears by McPartlin's writing of his grief and sorrow at losing his daughter, it was just heart-breaking. No parent should have to deal with losing their child yet that is what poor Jack and Molly (Rabbit's mother) have to deal with. I kept putting myself in Molly's shoes - how she had the strength to go on was beyond me, I think I would have crumbled long ago. Rabbit's sister Grace and her brother Davey are also present, dealing with the grief and shock in their own ways, each struggling with Rabbit's illness.

The modern day story of Rabbit in the hospital, and her family coming to terms with her terminal illness takes place over just 9 days. For a book, that is a very short amount of time, but it works because of the nature of the plot, and I almost didn't want to read about Rabbit's suffering for any longer than that. It was believable too, reading about the deterioration of Rabbit, and the progression of the cancer. As well as this story, we also get flashbacks of Rabbit's life, and more importantly her relationship with Johnny, the one love of her life. We see the relationship grow from children, to adulthood, through to when Johnny became ill as well. McPartlin handles this part of the story with such respect and tenderness, and also see Rabbit on the other side of the coin - as a carer and dealing with the potential loss of someone she loves, rather than as the patient and sufferer. Their story was heart-warming, touching and incredibly sad at the same time, a real eye-opener to see Rabbit before she got sick, and how full of life she really was.

This was a book that I know will stay with me long after I have read it. I've seen it likened to Jojo Moyes 'Me Before You', and I would say that is somewhat true. Obviously Rabbit isn't choosing to die, unlike the main story in Me Before You but still, her death is imminent and a burden her family must bear. Heart-breaking and incredibly sad, The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is a triumph - a beautifully written and considerate novel about one of the cruellest diseases and how it can break a loving family, leaving those left behind devastated and broken in it's wake. McPartlin's writing is simply brilliant, drawing you into the world of Rabbit and the Hayes family, each dealing with Rabbit's dying in their own way, showing there is no right or wrong way to deal with and grieve for those we have lost. Thought-provoking, insightful and full of love, The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is a stunning read.

Skating at Somerset House (A Christmas Short Story): Love London Series
Skating at Somerset House (A Christmas Short Story): Love London Series
Price: £0.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Fun festive fiction, 1 Feb. 2015
I never used to be a fan of short stories, but since I have had my Kindle Paperwhite, I have been more willing to give them a go, and I am glad that I have! One such story I am glad that I read is the first in Nikki Moore's 'Love London' series, called Skating at Somerset House. As usual, publishers Harper Impulse have come up trumps with a stunning eBook cover that I am in love with, and the story inside promised to be just a delightful! At only 40 pages in print length, it is the perfect short story to sit down with of an evening and devour in one sitting... I did!

Holly Winterlake loves Christmas, and her passion for ice skating is still very much in force, so when she gets a job as an Ice Marshall at the ice rink at Somerset House she's delighted. Surrounded by Christmas cheer, trees and ice, she's a happy woman. Noel Summerford isn't a Christmas fan, and hates skating too, especially as he just can't seem to do it. When he takes his young godson skating and makes a bit of a fool of himself, he befriends Holly and the pair strike up a quick and easy friendship...

I don't want to say too much in this review, simply because the story is so short, and I can reveal far too much, especially as it's a book you will want to read for yourself to see how it develops! I loved the 2 main characters, they couldn't be more different (even their surnames show their loves of seasons!), but they somehow manage to get along. Holly's passion for her skating shows through straight away, you can really sense that she loves it, and we are left wondering why she gave it all up when she had such a promising career. Noel, too, is hiding a secret about his godson and why he won't let him skate with Holly, but again it's a bit of a mystery for much of the book.

The setting of Somerset House is brilliant for the book, it felt so Christmassy right from the start, and it's somewhere that I am going to put on my list of places to visit next Christmas without a doubt, I've never been before and feel I am missing out! Nikki's descriptions of the house, the ice rink, the trees and the people enjoying the whole experience are wonderful and it's easy to picture in your mind as you are reading. As I said, it is a short story but I was engrossed in it from start to finish, it was a joy to read about Holly and Noel as they begin their friendship, and the ending part of the book left me with a few giggles and a big smile on my face. I can't wait to read more in Nikki Moore's 'Love London' series, this was a fantastic start!

Three Amazing Things About You
Three Amazing Things About You
Price: £4.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be forgotten, 1 Feb. 2015
Jill Mansell's books are certainly one of the highlights of my reading year, there is something so brilliant about her stories that I just want to dive in and devour it all in one sitting, even though I know must try to make it last at least a few days! The same can certainly be said for her latest book, Three Amazing Things About You. I was thrilled to receive a review, and as usual, couldn't stop myself from reading it straight away, staying up rather late for a few nights to carry on with the story. It is definitely one of those books which stays with you long after finishing it, and it's one of the most touching and rewarding stories I have ever read, and was a privilege to read.

Hallie has Cystic Fibrosis, something she has learnt to live with but is still holding out hope that one she will be the chosen one on the Organ Donor register and finally receive a new set of lungs that will transform her entire life. Until that day, she's resigned to her oxygen canisters, and living each day as much as she can as she doesn't know how long she has left. Flo rather likes Zander, but there's no love lost between herself and Zander's awful sister, who is determined to keep Zander to herself. Can Flo make their relationship work or is the family tie just too much to compete with? Then there's Tasha and her thrill-seeking boyfriend Rory. Tasha can't bear the thought of any of Rory's extreme sports, but knows it is part and parcel of loving him, even though the threat of danger hangs over him at every turn. When Hallie suddenly gets the call that she is getting new lungs, she can't help but wonder who those lungs once belonged to...

You can probably tell that this is a very emotive story, but one that had me absolutely hooked from the beginning. I have heard of cystic fibrosis, and had a bit of an idea about the disease, but not the extent to which it ravages the body and lungs of the sufferer, and how badly their life is affected, even their day to day activities. Hallie is very poorly, always catching infections and illnesses, and relies on her oxygen tanks to allow her to breathe. Her life is quite insular, although she does have friends she likes to go out with when she can. She is also quite close to her doctor, Luke, and the pair have a sweet friendship despite the medical link between them. I really liked Hallie, you can tell she doesn't want to be a burden to those around her, especially her mother and her best friend Bea, and is determined to live her life to the full as much as she can. She runs an anonymous agony aunt column, Dear Rose, and enjoys reading about other people's problems and trying to help them solve them. You can sense her desperate need for new lungs, and right at the very beginning of the book she finds out she is going to get exactly what she wants, before it turns back to life before the amazing phone call to talk about the other characters.

Every character in this pivotal to the story, and I loved them all, and their differing relationships and obstacles that they had to overcome. I enjoyed Rory and Tasha's heart-warming romance, and how Tasha was extremely fearful for Rory as he carried on doing the things that would give Tasha nightmares. As the story progresses and things start to happen in terms of the main plot, I felt desperately sad for Tasha, you can sense her pain in the book, I just don't know how I could have coped receiving the news that she and Rory did. Then there was the story of Flo and Zander, born out of something rather odd but destined to be a very sweet love story, despite facing the wrath of Zander's awful sister. Again, they are dealt a massive blow for the plot, and I'm not afraid to say I was in tears regularly throughout this book. Even the bittersweet discover for Flo was extremely emotional, I couldn't help but be moved as I was reading.

There's a lot of medical things going on throughout this book, and you do have to pay attention as you're reading to follow it properly. I won't spoil the story by detailing what happens any further, but it's very emotional and I was left on the edge of my seat as I was reading, desperate to find out the varying outcomes of the stories in the book as they start coming together. When all this was done, I thought the drama was out of the way but the ending part of the book was so very special too, again this had me welling up with tears. Mansell's writing is just perfection throughout this book, tapping it on the emotional part of the story, as well as the factual part which was incredibly interesting to read. The dialogue she writes is beautiful, telling us easily of love, sorrow, grief and happiness. I honestly felt I was going on the journey with these characters, and it was ultimately an incredibly touching 'feel-good' story. This is by far Jill Mansell's best and most-touching story to date (no mean feat, let me tell you), and one that won't be forgotten once read.

OMG Baby!
OMG Baby!
Price: £3.49

3.0 out of 5 stars OMG..., 24 Jan. 2015
This review is from: OMG Baby! (Kindle Edition)
Although I wasn't particularly overkeen on Emma Garcia's debut novel Never Google Heartbreak, something kept drawing me to the cover of the sequel to that book called OMG Baby! which has been sat on my bookshelf for a few months now. I decided I would give it a try and see if this one would be a book I would love. I didn't really remember too much about the first book, other than the main characters were called Viv and Max, so I sort of went into this as if it weren't a sequel, my mind being refreshed by the story as the new book went on. Things are briefly touched on from the first book, but this story can definitely stand-alone too, with the characters at a new stage in their lives... expecting a baby!

Viv and Max have finally gotten together, and are in for a shock. Viv is surprised to find out she is pregnant, and Max is delighted, sure he's going to be a dad to a baby girl. Although they aren't quite set up for parenthood, living in separate flats and neither earning especially good money, they are determined to make it work. But when Viv's estranged mother turns up on her doorstep after years of silence, Viv is sure her impending motherhood is the ideal way to bond with her own mother, and so invites her to stay with her and Max in her small London flat. Unfortunately, Max and Lorraine don't exactly hit it off and Viv finds herself stuck in the middle, as well as juggling her new company and pregnancy...

Don't get me wrong, this is a fun read. It's a light-hearted look at pregnancy for the unprepared, with Max and Viv both happy to admit they haven't got a clue what to expect or how to raise a human being between them. In fact, I'm sure that's like most people when they find out they are pregnant, and there were some humourous moments - Viv is genuinely clueless and it's funny finding things out along with her, and her funny reactions to things. However, what I didn't like about Viv was how she was treated by her mother (and how she kept on letting herself be treated like crap by her) and consequently how she treated lovely Max because of those problems. I wanted to give Viv a shake and tell her to wake up, and at times found myself so frustrated with the way it was going I had to put it down for a while and read something else.

Viv's mother was quite possibly the worst character in a book I have ever read. And I've read a lot of books and horrible characters, believe me. There was nothing - NOTHING - redeemable about this woman at all. The way she takes advantage of her poor pregnant daughter, the way she manipulates people and situations, and how she had so little care for Max was just awful and I couldn't stand her. I also couldn't understand how Viv couldn't see through her, and it left me really frustrated, and took away from the other things I enjoyed about the book overall. Some of the other characters are more light-hearted, such as Damon from Viv's workplace who did make me smile, and lovely Christie who she has started a new company with, but Lorraine just left such a sour taste in my mouth.

As the book went on, I enjoyed the progression of the story and how Viv and Max confront their new circumstances together, even against the odds of Lorraine conspiring against them. Garcia's writing is easy to read, quite pacey and did make me smile a lot as I was reading. There was a touching addition of a friendship storyline between Viv and her best friend Lucy, who goes through a horrible time in the book, and I enjoyed a more sensitive and soft side to Garcia's writing amongst all the humour. It was a good read, I did care about the story and the characters, and wanted to finish it, but I can honestly say I've never encountered a character I have hated so much and been so cross at before, so much so it hindered my overall enjoyment of the book sadly. I do hope there will be more from Emma Garcia, a very promising voice in women's fiction, but hopefully without the abominable Lorraine!

To Catch a Star
To Catch a Star
Price: £1.26

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Star read!, 24 Jan. 2015
This review is from: To Catch a Star (Kindle Edition)
I have loved the first few books in Romy Sommer's eBook series with Harper Impulse, all set around the fictional country of Westerwald, and it's royal family. They really have been magical fairytales, with the girls getting the handsome prince they've always dreamed of, and so I was really excited to be sent a review copy of the last in the trilogy, To Catch A Star. The cover of this eBook is stunning - I'm so glad Harper Impulse have realised the importance of a gorgeous eBook cover for readers - they really can sell a book to you, especially when you only have that and a blurb to go on! This cover is so wintery and magical, it suits the book perfectly, and I loved the story, a lovely way to end this fantastic series that I will be sad to say goodbye to.

Teresa Adler is part of a well-to-do family in Westerwald, a family of position, trust and respect and she is keen to show that in her behaviour. When her father asks her to take a job as PA to a movie star who is shooting a movie in Westerwald, Teresa isn't exactly thrilled by the prospect. However, she knows what she has got to do, and is determined to make a good job of it. Christian Taylor, the movie star Teresa is working for, has a good work ethic but enjoys his time with the ladies too. He's a bit taken by Teresa and sets his sights on wooing her, although she's determined to ignore his every advance. Will Christian be able to melt the heart of Teresa and show her a thing or two about living?

This book was really enjoyable from the start. We are quickly introduced to Teresa, who isn't a member of the Westerwald royal family, but for a long time was in a relationship with Prince Federik, before it all fell apart. So Teresa is used to life in the limelight, and I liked how cool and calm she always was with the press and paparazzi around her, much to Christian's astonishment. Teresa, or Tessa as she is sometimes referred to, is quite a cold character, determined to keep up her steely facade to everyone around her, and not reveal her inner turmoil, particularly about her own engagement. You can see she is falling for Christian, and I wondered how this would be tackled in the book further on, if the pair would act on it.

Christian was an interesting character. Although I was quickly able to guess who he was, the book doesn't confirm it for a long while. although Teresa and her father have their suspicions due to him being seen with a precious Westerwald heirloom. I liked Christian - clearly he's got his own secrets about his past that he doesn't want to come out, and it does take a while in the book for him to reveal things about himself, his mother and what happened to him as a child. I liked Christian a lot, he's very open for an actor and didn't take himself too seriously, he was quite fun to read about as well, especially the scenes with his best friend Dom, they were funny at times! The interactions between Christian and Teresa weren't always easy to read, but you can sense the tension between the two, and I just hoped Christian would be able to melt Teresa's heart just a little bit so we could see the real her!

The setting of Westerwald for the book was great, I feel that over the series I have gotten to know the place and it's Royal Family quite well! It was nice to see the other characters from previous books crop up in this one and update us on how they are doing, I love when writers do that. As I said, I had guessed Christian's link in the whole thing quite early but it didn't matter to me, I enjoyed the story that it took in getting to that revelation, and Sommer's writing is wonderful to read. I love her writing, she really brings to life the characters and setting of the book, as well as the magic and romance of it all, they truly are fairytales for us grown-ups!

For me, this was a lovely ending to what has been a very enjoyable trilogy from Romy Sommer. I've loved getting to know the characters throughout each of these books, the people of Westerwald, and the wonderful fairytale romances that they have each been part of. I enjoyed the story of Christian and Teresa a lot, I know exactly how I wanted it to end, and at times it felt like that wasn't going to happen - I was bereft! I hope that this won't be the last we hear from Romy Sommer, because she's an author I have quickly learned to love, and look forward to her romantic tales from fictional kingdoms! This will leave you with a big smile on your face, a warm heart and wanting more! A fantastic read.

The Third Wife
The Third Wife
Price: £8.52

2.0 out of 5 stars Not my favourite Jewell, 24 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Third Wife (Kindle Edition)
Lisa Jewell's latest novel sounds like it's usually captivating read. I love her stories, about real people going through real problems, and the way she writes these stories is incredibly readable. I was really excited to get a copy of her new book The Third Wife through NetGalley, and was very much looking forward to reading it. It follows the story of the family of recently deceased Maya, who died after walking in front of a bus one evening without explanation. Her widower Adrian is struggling to understand Maya's motives, and his children are dealing with the loss of yet another female in their lives. As Adrian begins to look into Maya's tragic demise, he begins to find that Maya wasn't as happy as he was led to believe... what devastating secrets is Adrian going to uncover, and with what consequences?

As you can see, this is a pretty dark book. There definitely isn't a lot of happiness in here - usually in Lisa's books there is something a bit lighter, something to make you see a light at the end of the tunnel but I really struggled to find that in this book. Add this to the fact that I really didn't like any of the characters in this book - it meant that this book didn't live up to my expectations, especially when Lisa's last few novels have been incredible reads. Perhaps they set my expectation barrier too high, but there was something about this novel that didn't sit right with me, and I did struggle with it at times, wondering if I would begin to like any character, or even care where the story was going.

Although the story is centred around Maya, we only meet her briefly through some flashbacks in the book, detailing some of the secrets she is with-holding from Adrian, and how she deals (or rather doesn't) with them. I couldn't really sum up any feeling for her either way, she was too absent in the book to care for strongly, and therefore I struggled to get invested in her story. Then there's her husband Adrian. Wow, what a guy. Not in a good way. He's married 3 women, had a few children with each of them except for Maya, and seems to think they all enjoy being one big happy family, simply because it is what he wants, regardless of what his children or ex-wives really want. I hated him - he's everything that is wrong with the male species and their expectations for family and relationships. I hated his attitude towards his wives - when he's bored, he'll end it but keep them all sweet and all loving together, I had no sympathy or anything towards him, and this made reading a book around him quite difficult.

The children of Adrian and his other ex-wives feature heavily in the book, but again they just weren't nice people, even the younger ones. Usually, children in books are loveable and add a bit of humour and light to a book but not in this case. None of them had many redeeming features at all, they were all affected by their parents, their "role models" for the future, and it was a bit sad to read how messed up they were. There was a bit of a mystery storyline about a character called "Jane" running throughout the book, this was well-written and held my interest. I was curious to find out who Jane was, I had a few guesses but was wrong - I'm glad this part of the story was there because it was a shining light for me in the book.

I really struggled with this review, I feel so disappointed to be giving a Lisa Jewell novel anything but a glowing review, but this was just not up to her usual standard for me. With a cast of dislikeable people, and consequently a story I struggled to connect with, this book just did not work for me at all and I found myself getting frustrated with the awful Adrian and his strange family. The story dragged on a bit for me, I felt it lost its way in the middle a bit and sort of forgot where it was meant to be going - and the ending for me wasn't good at all, I didn't like it one bit. I can whole-heartedly recommend any of Lisa Jewell's other books, particularly The House We Grew Up In or Before I Met You - those are stunning reads. Sadly, for me, this isn't Jewell's best work - I hope her next book is back to her best.

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