25 May 2016

Blog Tour: Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley

Today I am thrilled to be the blog tour stop for Rosanna Ley's new book Last Dance in Havana! I am so excited to read this book, it just sounds wonderful and Cuba is somewhere I am very desperate to go on my travels in a few years time! Rosanna was kind enough to write me this post about her own star moments in Cuba (so jealous!) for the blog tour, so please read and enjoy!

Have you read any of Rosanna's books? Leave me a note in the comments to tell me which you'd recommend!

Star Moments in Cuba
Walking the Malecon at sunset. The Malecon is Havana’s long sweeping promenade where lovers meet, poets speak and musicians play. Classic American cars cruise by and baroque villas are evidence of Cuba’s past glamour. 

Following Ernest Hemingway’s worthy example by drinking a mojito in the best watering holes in Havana. Like la bodeguita del medio (literally the shop in the middle of the street) frequented by artists, musicians and writers whose signatures are on the walls. Hemingway also stayed at the Ambos Mundos Hotel. When we visited its roof-top bar, a band were playing ‘Que sera, sera...’ Ten out of ten for atmosphere. 

Visiting an old sugar plantation in Valle de los Ingenios to discover what life was like for the Africans who were brought here as slaves when Cuba’s sugar production was at its height. It was a moving and poignant experience. The valley has a peculiar atmosphere of its own – and it’s important to remember.

Trinidad – this UNESCO World Heritage site is a picture-perfect pastel paradise. 

Snorkelling off Cayo Levisa. White sand, turquoise water, a multitude of fish and coral. I don’t want to use the word ‘paradise’ again so quickly, but it is.

Horse-riding in Vinales through the rust-coloured fields and mogotes (limestone hills) where you can still see a cigar-chewing guajiro driving his oxen and plough through the tobacco fields. I had a toke from the biggest cigar I’ve ever seen and it tasted GOOD... 

A ride in a classic American Chevy. We did the tourist trip in Havana – but even more memorable was the taxi driver who stopped to pick up several friends on the way back to our hotel. When the engine stalled, he re-started it with a machete! 

Live music in every restaurant and bar, Cuban rhythms following us down every street. This is Cuba! You have to salsa...

Thanks so much, Rosanna!

You can buy Last Dance in Havana now!

22 May 2016

Blog Tour: Something Old, Something New by Darcie Boleyn

"When Annie Thomas agrees to give her ex away at his wedding to his boyfriend, she thinks she’ll be fine. With her three children at her side, she can handle anything. Then she finds out her gorgeous first ex-husband Evan Llewellyn is flying in from his glamorous life in New York to attend as well!

An unexpected pregnancy ended their relationship and as she stumbles through the ups and downs of life as a working single mum – helping everyone else find a happy ending along the way – Annie refuses to believe their old and incredibly hot spark can still exist.

It’s only when she and Evan are forced to face up to the past together that they’ll discover if they can have their own happily-ever-after too!"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy the book now.

I am really pleased to be part of the blog tour for Darcie Boleyn's new novel Something Old, Something New. I read her previous novel Wish Upon a Christmas Cake and thoroughly enjoyed it, so was thrilled to get a chance to read this one. I really liked the cover, it's bright and fresh and makes the book look like a fun read, which is certainly is!

Annie doesn't feel like life has gone the way she had always hoped - she was a teenager mother, and her first marriage to Evan didn't last, then her second marriage to Dex ended when he admitted he was gay and is now getting married to Trevor, and Annie is giving him away! Annie's exhausted as she's a teacher, bringing her up 3 children, and to make matters worse, her ex-husband Evan is back on the scene. As things suddenly start changing in Annie's life, and she is confronted with a shocking development from her daughter Janis, Annie starts wondering where she went wrong, and how she can find some happiness in her future...

The book is told in the first person from Annie's point of view, and we follow her throughout the novel. I found her to be a very likeable character, a single hard-working mum, and a bit perplexed as to how her life has got her to this point. She's lucky to have good relationships with her ex-husbands, but it doesn't stop the loneliness she feels at night, something I'm sure a lot of single parents can relate to. Annie is a lovely lady though, and her friendship with her best friend Cassie was lovely to read too, the women are there for each other through everything and certainly gave me a few laughs along the way!

The men in the book are lovely, and you can see why Annie was drawn to both of them at different times in her life! Evan sounds wonderful, and is a caring father despite the fact he works away, and both he and Annie are still fond of each other. I was hoping that the pair would be able to reignite their spark and get back together against the odds! Dex was lovely too, also a dedicated father, and I loved his wedding scenes in the book. Annie's children were also lovely, Janis, her eldest daughter was lovely, and her younger two were funny too, and Darcie has captured their personalities really well.

This a fun read from beginning to end and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Darcie Boleyn's writing was very easy to read, and she really captured the emotion of the characters, the lighter moments and the more serious ones really well, and there's a lot to keep your attention hooked in the book. The story involving Janis was certainly interesting reading and I loved reading it from Annie's perspective and the array of emotions she goes through because of it. I would definitely recommend the book, the writing was great and I loved the characters, especially Annie who really deserved a happy ending! A wonderful read.

You can win 3 eBook copies of Darcie's book, just enter on the form below! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

21 May 2016

Book Review: My Map of You by Isabelle Broom

"Holly Wright has had a difficult few years. After her mother's death, she's become expert at keeping people at a distance - including her boyfriend, Rupert.

But when Holly receives an unexpected letter explaining that an aunt she never met has left her a house on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the walls she has built begin to crumble. Arriving on the island, Holly meets the handsome Aidan and slowly begins to uncover the truth about the secret which tore her family apart.

But is the island where Holly really belongs? Or will her real life catch up with her first?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy the book now.

One book that I have really been looking forward to this year is the new novel from author Isabelle Broom, called My Map of You. When the cover for the book was released on Twitter, I loved it straight away and knew it was a book I would want to be reading! Luckily enough, I was able to get a review copy on Netgalley, and eagerly got stuck into reading it all as quickly as possible, I loved it and couldn't put it down!

Holly has lived a pretty solitary life since her mother's death, and is hiding many of her own secrets from her boyfriend Robert, only letting him know exactly what she wants him to. When she receives a letter from an aunt she's never met telling her that she has been left a home in Zakynthos, Holly decides it's time to get some answers and travels out there alone to find out more about the family she never knew existed. Her next door neighbour, handsome vet Aidan introduces her to life on Zakynthos, and Holly begins to enjoy herself for the first time in a long time. But is it where she truly belongs, or is her past going to catch up with her once more?

I have to say I loved Holly from the beginning. She was a bit of a prickly character, hard to get to know because she seems to hold a lot of herself back all the time, but you can tell that there is something hurting her deep down, and I was curious to find out what it was. As the book progressed and we found out more about Holly and her past, you can understand why she is how she is, and her motivation for many things in her life. I enjoyed reading about her trying to find out about her family's secret, in particular more about her aunt, and I enjoyed the pace at which this was revealed throughout the book.

There aren't many other characters in the book, but I always like a book where there are just a few characters we get to know really well rather than many characters I struggle to follow. The other main character in this book was Aidan, the living next door to Holly's aunts house. The pair have a great chemistry and strike up a quick friendship, he was very likeable and I could see why Holly was quite taken with him, despite the fact she was already spoken for (which did make me feel a bit uneasy I have to say!). As well as Aidan, there were a few Greek characters that I loved, and certainly added an authentic Greek feel to the book, and I could picture them all as I was reading, Broom's descriptions of them were very well written.

Zakynthos was a great setting for the book, and somewhere I have never been myself. I've always wanted to visit the Greek islands so perhaps this is something I will have to do in the next few years! I've been lucky enough to read a few books set in Greece or on Greek islands as of late, and they all sound very idyllic, this book being no exception. You can see why Holly quickly fell in love with the island and its inhabitants, it was a real change from the her home life in London, and offered her a true escape, as well as a concrete link to her past and her mother. Broom's descriptions were really vivid, everything from the beaches, to the homes and the dusty tracks they explore sounded picturesque, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them.

This book was really fun to read from the first page to the last, and I really enjoyed everything about it. It is definitely the perfect beach read for your summer holiday, with a cast of characters that you'll love and a glorious setting too. I was swept away by Holly and her new world in Zakynthos, determined to race to the end to find out all of Holly's secrets, heartbreak and what decision she would make by the end of the book. A fabulous novel, and I will certainly be looking out for more from Isabelle Broom, hugely recommended from me!

15 May 2016

Book Review: A Wedding at Christmas by Chrissie Manby

"What comes to mind when you picture a wedding at Christmas? A gorgeous white dress accessorised with a thick velvet cape... bridesmaids in red velvet too? An arch of Christmas greenery: holly and ivy and boughs of fir. Candles and fairy lights. Snow!

Chelsea Benson has just twelve weeks to organise her perfect winter wedding. Her family and friends pitch in to help, but sisterly squabbling, issues with money and an Ice-Queen mother-in-law soon threaten Chelsea's plans for her big day. And that's without the firework fiasco...

Rescuing Chelsea's dream of a proper family wedding might just take all the magic of Christmas... "

Rating: 5/5

You can buy the book now.

Forgive me, please! I know this review is rather out of season considering we are well into Spring now, but I had a bit of a self-inflicted break from blogging earlier this year, but still want to make sure that some of the books I read back then are reviewed too! Although this is a festive title, it can certainly be enjoyed at any time of year, especially if you have read the other books in Chrissie Manby's 'Proper Family/Benson family' series so far. This is the fourth book in the series, and possibly my favourite one so far!

Chelsea Benson is finally getting married, and preparations are well underway for her wedding, much to the excitement of her family who feel like they have been waiting for this moment for a long time. She wants to get married at Christmas, and feels its the perfect time of year to tie the knot. But as usual for the Benson family, things don't always go to plan, and Chelsea finds her plans quickly unravelling. However, her sisters, parents and fiancé are determined that one way or another that Chelsea will get the festive wedding she's always dreamed of...

I've read the 2 previous books to this in the series before reading this one (somehow I missed the first book, I must try and rectify this!), and they do lead perfectly into this one. I feel like I haven't seen a huge amount of the youngest sister Chelsea Benson to date, so it was fun to have a book more set around her and less around her older sister Ronnie who took the reigns in the other two books I have read. In fact, I quite disliked Ronnie in this book, I wanted to give her a shake and tell her to grow up and stop being so jealous and spiteful! Chelsea is a great character, determined to be a good step-mum to her fiancé's little girl Lilly, and give her the wedding she has always wanted too. She is very considerate, kind and deserves to be happy after a little bit of unhappiness a few years previously.

The lead up to the wedding is of course hilarious, and there are quite a few mishaps that occur, several of which had me laughing out loud, although if they had happened to me I definitely wouldn't be laughing! Poor old Chelsea had a lot to contend with, but had a lovely supportive family, and this is one of my favourite things about these books. I love the love that these people have for each other, even through their ups and downs, and although their eldest sister Annabelle isn't as present as much in these books, I loved how she jumped to the task of looking after Grandpa, and what followed were some of the most emotional scenes in a book I've read in a while, and I'm not ashamed to say I was in floods of tears.

This book was a joy to read, and I enjoyed every page. I loved the festive feeling, the small touches that made it feel so Christmassy (works even better if you actually read it at Christmas time haha!), but the love story within was lovely, and I loved that the Benson's are such a realistic family - there's love but also jealousy, illness, sadness, joy and friendship going on between the generations. The inclusion of the young characters Jack and Lilly having their own plot was great for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the antics of these two younger Benson family members. This book can be read as a standalone but of course works best as part of the series , of which it is book number 4. A wonderful read, I loved it and wholeheartedly recommend it!

14 May 2016

Book Review: Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

"Great friends. Amazing Apartment. An incredible job. Paige has ticked off every box on perfect New York life checklist. Until disaster strikes and instead of shimming further up the career ladder, Paige is packing up her desk.

Her brother’s best friend Jake might be the only person who can help her put her life back together. He also happens to be the boy she spent her teen years pining after, and Paige is determined not repeat her past mistakes. But the more time she spends with Jake, the more Paige realises the one thing that was missing from her world all along: The perfect New York love story…"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy the book now.

One of the biggest highlights of my reading year is the release of a brand new Sarah Morgan novel, so when I heard there was a brand new trilogy coming, this time set in New York, I was super excited and could not wait to start reading! There is something magical about Sarah's stories, from the love story, to the characters and even the setting that works perfectly together and makes me want to devour it super quickly. This book was certainly no different, and I loved every page of it. Here's why I think this is definitely a summer must-read!

As you can tell by the title, this book is set in Manhattan and follows the lives of 3 women. Paige moved to New York years ago, and has a great job, great apartment and amazing friends in her life. But when she loses her job, her security is thrown away and she doesn't know where to turn. However, her brother and her friends have an idea - for Paige to start up her own business with those friends, Eva and Frankie. As Paige puts her plans into actions, and with the help of her brother Matt and his best friend Jake, things start look like they are picking up for everyone. But there's one secret Paige is hiding, and one that she fears can break her secluded little happy bubble apart once and for all if she were to act on it...

This story was brilliant from the very first word, and I loved every second of it. Paige was a brilliant lead character for the story, and I loved her and reading about her life. She seemed to be quite an unsure person, haunted by her heart troubles when she was a child, and scared to do anything that would upset her loved ones after the upset she put them through back then. I liked how encouraging her friends and her brother were though, keen to help her realise her own strengths and inject some self belief into her, something she really did need! In fact, her close relationship with her brother was one of my highlights for the book, it was nice to read such a close and supportive relationship between siblings, and certainly left me with a smile on my face.

The other two women in the story were great characters too. Eva was a beacon of hope, always looking on the positive side of life, always with a smile and certainly somebody that you would want to have around with you all day just to cheer you up! Frankie was more reserved, quiet and melancholy compared to Eva but the pair balance each other out nicely. I can't wait to read more of these women's stories in the next two books in the series! The final main character in the book in hunky Jake, someone Paige has been pining over for years but the pair have never acted on it. He sounds brilliant, a successful self-made millionaire, but still very down-to-earth and determined to help his friends succeed, even if they don't necessarily want his help! I loved the dynamic between Jake and Paige, you're left constantly on edge about whether they will get it on, and I was praying for them to just grow up and get together, I felt it was what they both wanted!

This was a fantastic story from the beginning right to the final word, and it makes me so excited for the second book in the series, called Sunset in Central Park which is due out on 14th July, I can't wait already! Morgan's writing flows so well, bringing to life her characters so much so that you know they will be with you long after you turn the final page. The setting of Manhattan was perfect, it's somewhere I have been lucky enough to visit twice, and I loved imagining it again as I was reading along, it came to life so clearly in my mind once more, Morgan's writing was so vivid! Paige's story is one you will definitely love, and this really has everything you need for the perfect summer read! I loved it, and can't wait for the next two stories!

8 May 2016

Book Review: What Happens in the Alps by T.A. Williams

"UP IN THE MAGICAL, SNOW-KISSED MOUNTAINS…

Two years ago, Annie Brewer’s life was turned upside down when her adrenaline-junkie husband died in a tragic climbing accident. So she’s hoping that moving to the beautiful village of Santorso in the Italian Alps will finally put her life back on track!

…ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!

She might be going into business with her oldest friend – notorious lady-charmer Matt Brown – but men are definitely out of the question for Annie! That is, until she bumps into tall, dark and delicious Alessandro Lago on the ski slopes…and spontaneously says ‘Yes’ to a date!

It must be the crisp, mountain air but suddenly, anything seems possible. The only trouble is, chivalrous Matt is looking more gorgeous than ever…

Rating: 5/5

You can buy the book now.

T.A. Williams has become an author that I love thanks to his recent few books, and so when I was offered the opportunity to review his new book What Happens in the Alps, I thought it sounded like a great idea and so eagerly downloaded it to my kindle! I love the cover for this book, it's certainly very evocative of the alps and skiing, and I couldn't wait to dive in. I absolutely loved the story and really couldn't put the book down and for me, it was my favourite of Williams' books to date!

Annie's life has been turned upside-down in the past few years, with the death of her beloved husband, and deciding to start her own English language school at her new home in Italy. Things are finally looking positive, and even more so when her husband's best friend Matt moves closer to her, and the pair strike up a friendship, reminiscing over times gone by and him helping her setting up her new school. But when Annie meets millionaire Alessandro on the slopes, she's quite taken by him and the pair start to get to know each other more. Will Annie take a chance on love again, and finally move on?

I haven't read many books set in the Alps before, so I was really looking forward to reading it and finding out about more about life here. This book is set in a small Italian village called Santorso, near a skiing resort, which is lucky since Annie is quite a talented skier and loves to escape by getting on the slopes. First of all, I have to say how much I loved the setting of this book, it really came to life in my mind as I was reading thanks to Williams' vivid descriptions, and it sounded so perfect and picturesque. Everything from the Alps, to the snow covered village, and even the posh hotels mentioned within are so wonderfully written, I wished I was there!

The characters in the book are brilliant too. Annie was the leading lady and I really liked her - in fact, there was nothing to dislike about her at all. She was kind, funny, and getting over a very badly broken-heart after her husband's death, and I liked how she just got up and got on with her life, against the odds really. Her friendship with Matt was fun to read too, although I was convinced that there was a spark between the two, they just seemed to click, but I loved how both wanted to honour her husband's memory and not act on anything impulsively. The appearance of Alessandro added some handsome glamour to the book, he sounded like a bit of a dreamboat, if a bit of a workaholic too, but you can see why Annie was quite taken by him!

The story progressed at a great pace for me, and I found it really easy to read. Each time I picked up my kindle, I was sent back to the Alps and Annie's world once more, and it was somewhere I loved to be. You could really feel Annie growing as a character as you moved through the book, and I was really hoping she would end up with her happy ending that she really deserved. T.A. Williams' writing was perfect in this book, balancing the narrative and speech in the book really well, and allowing the reader to really get taken into Annie's story. This was definitely my favourite of his books so far, it just flowed so well and you can tell he has really perfected his craft now, this book really was a joy to read, I loved it! I would definitely recommend it as one to read over these warm spring/summer evenings, certainly a story to lose yourself in!

1 May 2016

Book Review: The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart by Anna Bell

"Abi's barely left her bed since Joseph, the love of her life, dumped her, saying they were incompatible. When Joseph leaves a box of her possessions on her doorstep, she finds a bucket list of ten things she never knew he wanted to do. What better way to win him back than by completing the list, and proving they're a perfect match? But there's just one problem - or rather, ten. 

Abi's not exactly the outdoorsy type, and she's absolutely terrified of heights - not ideal for a list that includes climbing a mountain, cycling around the Isle of Wight and, last but not least, abseiling down the tallest building in town ...Completing the list is going to need all Abi's courage - and a lot of help from her friends. But as she heals her broken heart one task at a time, the newly confident Abi might just have a surprise in store ... "

Rating: 4/5

You can buy the book now.

I have really enjoyed several books by Anna Bell in the past few years, so was pleased when her new publishers Zaffre contacted me and asked me if I'd like to review her brand new title The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart. Anna's writing always features such fantastic character, and I find her stories very easy to read, and enjoyable. The cover for this book is lovely, and certainly would have attracted me to read the book had I not been lucky enough to have been sent one. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and here's why I would recommend it.

The story focuses on Abi, who is trying to get over her recent break-up with boyfriend Joseph. She hadn't seen it coming at all, and is completely heart-broken. When he drops off a box of her belongings back at her flat, she finds Joseph's own bucket list, and comes up with the genius plan to complete the list herself, thereby showing Joseph what a match made in heaven they really are. The only problem is most of the thing aren't really Abi's cup of tea - climbing the Spinnaker tower, riding a bicycle, and abseiling... three things Abi couldn't hate more. But she's determined to complete the list and prove to Joseph they belong together. But is Abi about to find that the list is going to lead her down a different path altogether?!

I have to say I wasn't overly keen on the idea of the story at first - the idea of someone being so desperate to get their ex back that they'd make themselves incredibly unhappy doing so sat a bit weirdly with me, but as the story went on, I warmed to the idea and why Abi was doing it. I did like, however, that when her friends uncovered what she was doing that they weren't afraid to tell her it was a silly thing to do, but Abi was so wrapped up in the fug of trying to win Joseph back at any cost that she just couldn't see how truly crazy and nonsensical she was being!

In a way, I did admire Abi for having the courage to go through with the things on Joseph's bucket list, because I would have screwed it up and put it in the bin if it were me! She really threw herself in cycling, along with her new friend Ben who decides she needs some help with her riding ability, windsurfing, abseiling and all the other things. Certain tasks, like a day trip to Paris, make the list a little more appealing to Abi, but overall it really wasn't her. I really enjoyed the cycling part of this book, mainly because we got to see lots of the lovely Ben, one of my favourite characters in the book. He's so kind, encouraging and helpful I just wanted Abi to see him for what he was, and leave Joseph well behind in her past!

As well as the main story of the bucket list, there's a bit of extra drama thrown in at Abi's workplace, where things she has been working hard on for her new clients keep disappearing, and begin to threaten her job. This was a nice break from the main story, and allowed us to see more of Abi in a different light, and I very much enjoyed this part of the book. This is a really light-hearted feel good read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. There were great characters, some real laugh-out-loud moments, and I did love Abi by the end of the book, she was certainly unique and full of madcap ideas, and god love her for giving it all a go! Anna Bell's writing is wonderful to read, and already I'm looking forward to the next book from her, this is definitely a must-read for summer!