A Year at Castle Court by Holly Hepburn

IMG_3477Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: 27 December 2018

“Sadie is a single mum, nursing a broken heart. Her best friend from childhood, Cat, is burned out from working long hours as a chef in Paris. In need of a change, they decide to invest in their dream – running their own handmade biscuit shop in gorgeous Castle Court, a three-storey food court tucked away behind Chester’s bustling streets.

They soon discover that Castle Court has its own community – a little haven of delight against the stresses of the outside world. But not everyone welcomes the new business; the patisserie owner is less than pleased by what she sees as direct competition and Greg, who runs the fancy bistro that dominates one end of the courtyard, doesn’t think Sadie and Cat have the talent or business acumen to succeed. Luckily, there’s support in the form of the delectable Jaren, who owns the Dutch waffle house opposite Smart Cookies, and Swiss chocolate-shop owner, Elin. And if all else fails, the friends can drown their sorrows in Seb’s cocktail bar on the third floor!”

MY REVIEW

What a warm and welcoming read, right from the very start I felt like I’d known Sadie and Cat for years and was just as nervously excited as they were about their new biscuit venture. As for Castle Court, I couldn’t wait to find out more about the charming little shopping haven and its occupants – I had a feeling that it held a lot of interesting stories!

The characters lives changed in many ways as the seasons passed and I must confess I didn’t always agree with some of the decisions being made. The lovely style of writing and clear descriptions meant that I could visualise each scene easily and imagine I was right there in Castle Court. If only I was able to taste some of the delicious treats on offer!

To begin with I thought the romantic side of the storyline might be a little too fast-paced for my liking but I was wrong, there were plenty of complications and obstacles to hold my interest along the way.

Favourite Moments:

* A Christmas surprise
* An awkward icing evening
* Celebrating Cherie
* “Mummy says tears wash the sadness away so that happiness can grow again”
* Dinosaur bridesmaid

A delightful read full of warm characters and tasty treats – I had biscuits on my brain the entire time I was reading!

kate1

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Thank you to the publisher for gifting me this paperback.

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Messy, Wonderful Us by Catherine Isaac

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Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: 28 November 2019

“One morning in early summer, a man and woman wait to board a flight to Italy.

Allie has lived a careful, focused existence. But now she has unexpectedly taken leave from her job as an academic research scientist to fly to a place she only recently heard about in a letter. Her father, Joe, doesn’t know the reason for her trip, and Allie can’t bring herself to tell him that she’s flying to Italy to unpick the truth about what her mother did all those years ago.

Beside her is her best friend since schooldays, Ed. He has just shocked everyone with a sudden separation from his wife, Julia. Allie hopes that a break will help him open up.

But the secrets that emerge as the sun beats down on Lake Garda and Liguria don’t merely concern her family’s tangled past. And the two friends are forced to confront questions about their own life-long relationship that are impossible to resolve.”

MY REVIEW

The previous book I read from this author (You, Me, Everything) took me on a huge emotional rollercoaster so when I picked up this book I was already braced for all the feels and it appears it was for good reason because I found myself in floods of tears after just a handful of chapters.

An unexpected discovery led Allie to begin a secretive investigation to find out more about what she had found. Although I didn’t blame her in the slightest for needing more information, part of me felt anxious about where it would lead and how it would affect her and her family. When Ed decided to join Allie on her investigative trip to Italy I couldn’t help but think it was a bad idea as I thought perhaps he had ulterior motives.

I was intrigued by each character’s heartbreaking backstory and had a feeling that they would all become entwined at some point. When the big moment finally arrived, I was shocked. I definitely wasn’t expecting that!

Oh how complicated the romantic side of the storyline was, I can’t go into too much detail without spoiling it so I’ll just say that I was utterly torn by what I wanted to happen and what I thought should happen. There was a tricky side to this dilemma which I felt was written delicately and completely realistically. It’s not a subject that comes up often in the books I read so I was happy that the author highlighted this sensitive issue in such a way.

The writing style was beautifully engaging and comfortable, keeping me glued to the pages. I enjoyed the sprinkling of Italian but as I don’t speak the language I fully admit to using Google Translate to make sense of some of the phrases.

Favourite Moments

* A luggage mishap
* Letters from the past
* A swimming lesson
* A truth-finding telephone call
* The splash of a teardrop

Catherine Isaac has done it again with an outstanding read full of genuine emotion and characters who will easily find a place in your heart.

kate1

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Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book proof in exchange for my honest opinion.

Miss Wrong and Mr Right by Robert Bryndza

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Image sourced from Goodreads

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: 8 December 2016

“Natalie Love has worked hard to have it all. She runs a successful London theatre that’s about to host one of Hollywood’s leading stars, Ryan Harrison. She’s pretty sure she’s found her man in yoga boyfriend Benjamin, despite his annoying habit of saying Namaste! every time he speaks. And her eccentric, glamorous Hungarian Gran is always on hand to offer sage advice and steaming bowls of goulash.

Life in the bright lights of London has always been Natalie’s escape from her chaotic country family in rural Devon and Jamie, the childhood sweetheart she left at the altar fifteen years ago. Until he turns up at her theatre door…

Jamie is in town producing a West End show and with rivalry suddenly clouding old feelings, this isn’t quite the reunion Natalie was expecting.

Will Benjamin prove to be Natalie’s perfect match? With Ryan turning her head, Natalie is more confused than ever. And what about Jamie – could he be her second chance at first love?”

MY REVIEW

I was definitely in the mood for some romantic comedy when I picked this eBook up and I’m glad to say it ticked all the boxes rather nicely.

An unexpected introduction to Natalie and her family had me slightly gobsmacked in the most amusing kind of way. Fast forward 15 years and Natalie seemed to have everything figured out until a blast from the past came along and made her reevaluate her life. Apparently things weren’t as awesome as they looked from the outside.

Natalie was a lovely character and I quickly found myself feeling protective of her, especially where her relationship with Benjamin was concerned. There was always a side of humour though so even when something was going dramatically wrong on the page, I couldn’t help but giggle.

Natalie’s Gran was a standout character for me, I absolutely loved her! She’s one of those characters who you really wish you could meet in real life, utterly awesome.

Favourite Moments

* Pepper spray and yoghurt
* Hungry pigeons
* Bodyguard Gran
* Trifle with a twist
* A bathroom brawl

Apart from one tearful scene, I pretty much read the rest of this book with a smile on my face because it was such a fun storyline. I definitely recommend it.

kate1

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Thank you to the publisher for approving my NetGalley request for this eBook in exchange for my honest opinion.

A Little Luck, A Lot of Fate by Linn B. Halton

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Image sourced from Goodreads

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Choc Lit

Publication Date: 23 October 2016

“When destiny calls, you need to pick up …

On the surface, Kristi Danielson has it all. She’s lifestyle coach to the rich and famous, has a bestselling book to her name and is described by her fans as “the veritable Queen of how to lead a fulfilling life”.

But the harsh truth is that Kristi has never practiced what she preaches. Her home life is a mess, her relationship with artist boyfriend, Tom, not much better – and now she has to redeem herself before all is lost.

At her wit’s end, Kristi is driven to seek out the help of Patrick Blakeslee, a tarot card reader and psychic medium, in an attempt to make sense of the mounting panic she’s feeling.

But Patrick’s visits have an unexpected effect on Kristi, leaving her with more questions than answers – and a life-changing decision to make.”

MY REVIEW

My regular readers will know that I always enjoy books from this author. I love the way Linn weaves together romance and spirituality in various forms, fate is always at play.

At the start of the storyline Kristi was, for some reason, experiencing a bit of an identity crisis. She was questioning her life, career and public image so she decided to do something about it. This is where Patrick came in, his services as a tarot card reader and psychic medium gave Kristi some clarity in her time of uncertainty. He was also pretty handy with a screwdriver!

Tom was a peculiar character, I couldn’t quite work out how I felt about him. He had this whole moody artist thing going on and I couldn’t help but feel that Kristi would match better with a different personality.

Patrick was a favourite of mine, on more than one occasion I got chills when he spoke. He had a calming presence in the storyline yet still managed to provoke the biggest reaction within me.

Favourite Moments

* The Voice
* Bed building
* Safety in a potting shed
* A trip to France

This was a thought-provoking and meaningful read that had me flipping the pages in anticipation.

kate1

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Thank you to the author for sending me this eBook in exchange for my honest opinion.

Just Kiss Me by Rachel Gibson

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Image sourced from NetGalley

Genre: Romance

Publisher: Transworld

Publication Date: 28 July 2016

“It’s been years since Vivian last saw Henry. She was scrubbing houses for a living, he was the gorgeous son of rich parents, not fit for the likes of her.

She had vowed to get out of Charleston, become a big Hollywood star and stick it to the snooty girls who made her cry. Vivian got what she wanted – and more – but why does her glamorous life seem so trivial?

Henry got out too . . . making it all the way to Wall Street, until his life took an unexpected twist and he traded in his cufflinks for carpentry back in Charleston.

But escaping his heritage is nearly impossible. And now he’s come face-to-face with the one who got away. He’s not looking for love. He’s not even looking for sex . . . so why is resisting her the hardest thing he’s ever done?

The one that got away just came back . . .”

MY REVIEW

I can’t tell you how many Rachel Gibson books I’ve read because I’ve lost count. I can tell you that I love her writing and her books always hold my attention, I was really looking forward to getting stuck into this.

I loved reading the diary entries, it was a great way to get to know Vivien. Her childhood words gave me mixed emotions and left me feeling like she was an old friend. All of the characters were well written, I could hear each of their voices so clearly in my mind – their Southern accents really stood out!

As with a lot of books I read, I knew where the romantic side of the storyline was heading but, as I’ve said many times before, it’s all about the journey to get to that point. I absolutely love watching a fictional couple’s relationship blossom, especially when they don’t particularly like each other to begin with.

Vivien and Henry had a history of dislike, secrets and grudges that made their present day interactions even more interesting. I guess the moral of the story is that people can change as they grow up and you never know where life will take you.

This was a lovely read, full of twists and turns that left me smiling.

kate1

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Thank you to the publisher for approving my NetGalley request for this eBook in exchange for my honest opinion.

Missing, Presumed Dead by Emma Berquist

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Genre: YA Thriller

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication Date: 27 June 2019

“When eighteen-year-old Lexi foresees the brutal murder of a young woman outside a club in downtown L.A., she is powerless to stop it.

But then the girl’s ghost appears, seeking vengeance, and Lexi is swept into a dangerous search that could put her directly in the path of a serial killer.

With a touch, Lexi can sense how and when someone will die. Some say it’s a gift. But to Lexi it’s a curse—one that keeps her friendless and alone. All that changes when Lexi foresees the violent death of a young woman, Jane, outside a club.

Jane doesn’t go to the afterlife quietly. Her ghost remains behind, determined to hunt down her murderer, and she needs Lexi’s help. In life, Jane was everything Lexi is not—outgoing, happy, popular. But in death, all Jane wants is revenge.

Lexi will do anything to help Jane, to make up for the fact that she didn’t—couldn’t—save Jane’s life, and to keep this beautiful ghost of a girl by her side for as long as possible.”

BOOK REVIEW

The synopsis for this book really grabbed my attention, it sounded dark and exciting so I couldn’t wait to get started!

Lexi’s life completely fascinated me, her gift of visualising someone’s death if they touched her was clearly, and understandably, a source of discomfort for her. She seemed like a really tough character but I did wonder if that was just a front and the only way she could get through it.

There were some truly chilling moments that gave me goosebumps, Lexi was pretty much permanently being haunted by one ghost or another and I have to admit that the idea of it really put me on edge (I struggled to read this book at night).

This wasn’t one of those storylines where you can easily predict who the murderer is and why it happened, I was constantly guessing and trying to come up with theories. Then a little LGBTQ romance was thrown into the mix and suddenly a whole host of other questions were raised.

As the storyline neared its conclusion, things became incredibly tense. My heart was pounding and I felt scared for Lexi and her friends, it was gripping!

This was a spooky murder-mystery with plenty of twists that will keep you flipping those pages.

kate1

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Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Antidote by Shelley Sackier

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Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication Date: 21 March 2019

“In the world of healers, there is no room for magic.

Fee knows this, just as certainly as she knows that her magic must be kept secret.

But the crown prince Xavi, Fee’s best friend and only source of comfort, is sick. So sick, that Fee can barely contain the magic lying dormant inside her. She could use it, just a little, to heal him. But magic comes at a deadly cost—and attracts those who would seek to snuff it out forever.

A wisp of a spell later, Fee finds herself caught in a whirl of secret motivations and dark pasts, where no one is who—or what—they appear to be. And saving her best friend means delving deeper into the tempting and treacherous world whose call she’s long resisted—uncovering a secret that will change everything.”

MY REVIEW

The storyline jumped straight into the action with a prologue that raised plenty of questions. Following that was a delightful introduction to a trio of childhood friends, their bond was palpable and I couldn’t wait to see if that bond would hold through what was to come.

The writing style had a magical quality to it which I thought was appropriate considering the topic of the book. Magic was forbidden and secrets were being kept, there was clearly something untoward going on and I just had to know what it was.

As the pieces of the puzzle came together and I discovered the truth about the contagion, I found myself gasping in shock. After that came revelation after revelation, the author really knows how to keep a reader hooked on her words! For the things that hadn’t been revealed, I soon came up with some theories of my own – would any of them be correct?

Towards the end things become quite intense and I wasn’t sure if I’d finish reading in tears or with a smile on my face.

This was a lovely, magical read that was difficult to put down.

kate1

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Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book in exchange for my honest opinion.