Monday, 26 September 2016

Book tour: Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky - Holly Martin (A Town Called Christmas #1)

  

This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts… 

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away. 

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again. 

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace. 

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home? 


My opinion.
Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky is Holly Martin's latest (Christmas) story... but I can tell you this: it's not 'just another Christmas story'. Seemingly effortless, Holly manages (again!) to create his wonderful, cosy holiday atmosphere. No countless jingle bells or Mariah Carey blaring "All I Want For Christmas" necessary.
Just like you're drawn into the magic of this town called Christmas (! Seriously, I want to move there. This town has my name on it.), the characters in this story find a way into your heart, basically from the start.
Piper's history is heartbreaking. She has to overcome a lot but none of those issues feel far fetched or just there to make the story. She feels like a genuine person, as does Gabe. But trust me, the actual star of the book, a little Elsa princess, will have you melted and most probably crying in no time. You'll see!
Let Holly Martin transport you to Juniper Island, and enjoy this magical story - quite possibly my favourite Xmas book yet...

 

 


Book tour: Nice Day for a White Wedding - A.L. Michael + giveaway

 

Sometimes, Happy Ever After is where the real trouble begins…

Chelsea Donnolly wasn’t supposed to amount to anything. But if there’s one thing the bad girl from the estate liked better than trouble, it was a challenge. So, to the amusement of her best friends Evie, Mollie and Ruby – and the disbelief of her teachers – this bad girl turned good.

These days, Chelsea is the kind of girl people are proud to know – and, after a surprise trip to Venice, she has a ring on her finger to prove it. But to get there, she’s had to learn to keep her deepest secrets from everyone – even her fiancé. And when wedding preparations threaten to blow her cover, Chelsea can’t help but wonder: in her battle to the top, might she have left the best parts of herself behind?


My opinion.
From the outset, it's clear that there's more to Chelsea Donnolly than meets the eye. She's a contradiction that's both impressive, and could almost give you a headache - imagine how she feels! Bad girl gone good? If only it was as simple as that.
Everything about her childhood and teenage years and environment screams "give up". But she didn't. Not only does she fight for what she wants, she's strong, sassy and independent. I love a good confident main character! She managed with her MIL in 4 days what I haven't achieved in over 4 years. 
Nice Day for a White Wedding has a gorgeous mix of topics and is not 'just' a fluffy story about an engagement. It raises the question if your background and family make you, or your choices? It shows the importance of friendships and being able to trust someone with you - the whole you. It has a holiday feel to it an a "monster in law". It's funny and sad, romantic and calls you down to earth all at ones.
[It can be read as a stand alone novel (like I read it), but I for one I'm excited to read more in this series.]




GIVEAWAY !


About the author:
A.L. Michael is hurtling towards the end of her twenties a little too quickly. She is the author of 'Wine Dark, Sea Blue', 'The Last Word', 'My So Called (Love) Life', 'Driving Home for Christmas', and 'If You Don't Know Me By Now', based upon her experiences as a London barista. 
Her new three book series, The House on Camden Square, starts with 'Goodbye Ruby Tuesday' and focuses on three friends as they try to open an arts centre in Camden, in memory of their rock star friend.

She is a Creative Therapeutic Facilitator, currently researching the power of creative writing to be helpful in recovering from eating disorders, and likes running writing workshops that link together the body and the mind. When she's not writing, she likes yoga, trying to bake healthy treats and was a hipster before hipsters were hipster. Well, she likes Chai lattes and owns a Mac.


Links



Saturday, 10 September 2016

Book tour: Tempting Isabel - Rissa Brahm + GIVEAWAY



Luck. Lust. Love.

Wedding planner Isabel Ruiz is cursed. Her hometown of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico agrees, considering her tragic track record. Alone and loveless, she creates fairy-tale weddings for others. Her only distraction? The occasional anonymous fling. So to avoid further tragedy, her rule, one–night–only, is never broken…

Until Zack.

Self-made millionaire Zack James is in town for his brother’s wedding, when a sudden spell of depression hits. Maybe burned out by his fast and luxurious lifestyle? Not even his two female companions hold any interest. 

That is, until he meets Isabel. 

She humbles and captivates him, reigniting his thirst for life. With her, Zack feels more alive than ever. To his delight—and her dismay—they share a deep bond, a sensual connection, and one mind-bending night.

Zack must have her – to complete him. And Isabel must escape him – to save him.

Their game of catch and chase leads to lust-turned-love. For Isabel, it's fate’s cruelest joke. But Zack won’t quit, positive he’s the cure to her curse. Can he convince her to risk everything with him? Or will it all go south…in paradise.


My opinion.
Hot hot hot. As if the weather wasn't scorching enough.
Both Zack and Isabel are attractive, interesting characters. The depth of their connection however stood in very stark contrast to the sometimes vulgar language Zack uses in his inner monologues when thinking of Isabel. (Even though, when others use the same words, Zack gets offended.) Somehow the passion he describes sounds dirty and sometimes even disrespectful instead of loving, despite the intense and meaningful bond they claim to share. 
So it took me a while to really connect to Zack's character. Until about halfway through when he started opening up. His confrontation with Bennet and his conversations about him with Isabel showed both this character better, as well as the connection between him and Isabel. Up until this point they had mentioned their 'click', but it took me until this halfway point before I actually felt it too - just as tangible as their physical attraction was from the start.
Even though I struggled with the contradicting passion on the one hand and the vulgarity on the other, this was a HOT, addictive read - surprisingly hopelessly romantic. With a destination wedding and family relationships playing a big role.
It almost made me believe in fate myself ;-)



 

About the author: Contemporary romance writer Rissa Brahm grew up in New York and has since lived in all four corners of the United States, and beyond. e beautiful paradise of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico—the core setting of her hot & heartfelt debut series, Paradise South—is Rissa’s most recent and beloved home. 

When not chained-by-choice to her MacBook, she is embarking on out- door adventures with her husband and little girl, laughing to tears with a good rom-com, eating amazing Indian food with something chocolate for dessert; reading good, hot scorchers in bed; biking, long walks, and yoga; zoning out to killer music from across the decades and the globe; and getting lost only to discover a new exciting route home again. You can connect with Rissa on Facebook, Twitter or by email any time by heading to www.RissaBrahm.com.



GIVEAWAY

$10 Amazon giftcard,  3 books in the series 
and one of the authors favourite books, 'Hearts in Darkness' by Laura Kaye






Book Blitz: Green Tea Latte To Go - Aven Ellis (Chapter Reveal)




Perfect Drink: Green tea latte with coconut milk and raw honey.

Perfect Fashion Icon: The Duchess of Cambridge. Always on point with her fashion, dressing appropriately for every occasion and not afraid to recycle things from her wardrobe, I truly admire her class and style.

Perfect Place: Seattle.

Perfect Activity for Relaxation: Yoga. I’m terrible at it, but I’m determined to perfect downward dog. Someday.

For Seattle blogger Payton James, life is all about trying to achieve perfection. Payton is determined to be her best self in all areas, and she refuses to rest until she achieves it.

However, an imperfect moment in a coffee shop completely changes Payton’s life. When her drink order gets switched by mistake, Payton finds herself face-to-face with a gorgeous British man named Brooks. Payton is instantly attracted to the witty stranger who is quick with his words—and has a beautiful smile.

Brooks is an exotic veterinarian with a huge passion for animals. Heartache in his past has led him to focusing on his career out of fear of getting hurt again. But there’s something about Payton that makes this vet want to know more about the bubbly blogger he has met via fate—and has him reconsidering his stance on love.

But will Brooks ever be free of his fears to truly open his heart? And will Payton’s drive for perfection cost her the one thing she loves most? Or will she learn to embrace imperfections?

And maybe perfect is the one thing Payton doesn’t want after all . . .



 

Chapter 1

Today’s plan to improve myself item: To achieve perfect physical health, I will attend the early morning yoga class. And enjoy a green tea latte to go from Coffee By Jules, with coconut milk and raw honey.

***

“Bring yourself to a sitting position,” Alanna says as she walks around the yoga studio. “Nice and tall. Close your eyes. Let the tension flow from your body . . .”
I sit on my yoga mat, breathing in and exhaling according to Alanna’s instructions.
“Clear your mind,” Alanna continues over the new age music that fills the room. “No distractions.”
Nope, not distracted. I, Payton James, am completely focused on my yoga practice. After all, one can’t perfect yoga without total devotion to the pose at hand.
I wonder if I can find an affordable copy of that ISSA wrap dress that the Duchess of Cambridge loves for my blog?  
Gah! No! No thoughts of my blog.
I really want to duplicate that look for my readers this week.
I mentally bitch slap myself. Focus. Yoga. Health. Not my work.
I squint and glance around the studio. Students still have their eyes shut. Oh, come on, surely I’m not the only one who has a wandering mind, right?
“Breathe in,” Alanna says, “and breathe out. Be in the moment.”
I dutifully close my eyes. Yes. Back in the moment.
I wonder if I can find those super cute Kate Spade yoga pants on sale?
Okay. So it’s going to take me a long time to get in the moment with yoga.
But I’m totally in the moment with Kate Spade yoga clothing. And with planning my next fashion find blog for my Duchess of Cambridge fashion website.
“Namaste.”
I blink as the entire class says the word in unison. Oh, crap. I totally got lost in thought and missed closing hands to heart chakra and saying, “Namaste,” while bowing my head.
I can see perfecting my yoga is going to be a very long process.
I sigh and roll up my yoga mat. As I do, I feel someone staring at me. I look up and see the fiftyish woman who was practicing to my left studying me.
“Don’t worry, little cherub,” she says sweetly as she puts her designer yoga bag over her shoulder. “You’ll move past downward-facing dog. Hopefully.”
Then she laughs and pats her bobbed platinum hair before heading off with her friends.
I frown. Did she really call me “cherub”? Cherub? Why, because I have golden, curly hair? And just because she can twist herself into a freaking pretzel while I am a ten on the inflexible scale doesn’t mean I’ll never move past downward-facing dog.
She was totally a mean girl in high school. I can tell.
“Payton,” Alanna says, moving over to me and interrupting my thoughts, “remember at the end of class that your mind should be calm. I sense that you are running on a very high energy today.”
I frown. Obviously, Alanna doesn’t have a part-time job as a professional errand runner and Duchess Kate fashion blogger. And while my brain is constantly in motion—thinking, dreaming, planning—I think Alanna lives in the moment she’s in.
I sigh. If yoga weren't considered such a wonderful thing to do for health, I’d reevaluate what I was doing here.
“I’ll work on that,” I say determinedly as I put my bright pink yoga mat into my bag.
I’m incredibly stubborn about wanting to perfect anything I do. And I want to show pretzel-woman that I can be a pretzel, too.
“Have a great week,” Alanna says, smiling at me. “And practice some meditation. It will help you calm your mind. I have beginner sessions on my YouTube channel if you want to try one.”
Argh. Meditation? I have a hard enough time getting through yoga, and I get to move with that. I can’t imagine simply sitting still and trying to visualize a beach while listening to waves or my inner thoughts or whatever you do when you meditate. The mere idea of trying to sit and simply be gives me hives.
“Um, okay,” I say, not promising anything. “Have a good week!”
I walk out of class and into the bustling Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. It’s a beautiful June morning, with bright sunshine even though it’s only seven o’clock. The temperature is going to be in the upper sixties later, a beautiful day. Full sun! But since it’s cool out now, I’m glad I have my coordinating workout jacket over my black and white yoga top and matching capris.
I stroll down the street, my brain mentally flipping the pages in my planner which is tucked inside my purse. Today. June 5. I want to complete an article for my blog, Payton’s Take on Kate, where I showcase the fabulous, utterly perfect style of Kate Middleton and how I re-envision the look with different pieces at all price points.
While my parents are mortified that I graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in marketing but am now working as an errand runner and Kate blogger, I have to follow my heart. I love fashion and blogging; I love meeting people from around the world who want to discuss Kate’s latest public appearance outfit and if they can get that beloved ISSA dress on sale.
My long-term vision is for the blog to be a success financially. I can make money from advertising and then have my Kate blog feed into my lifestyle blog, Payton’s Take on Living, where I chronicle my lifestyle in Ballard, Washington, post-graduation. I have a business plan. I want to publish some lifestyle books based off my Living blog, in addition to some e-booklets I want to write.
But Mom and Dad think I’m ridiculous. They want me to be more like my older sister, Sophie. Sophie, who is a research scientist with a pharmaceutical firm in Seattle. Oh, and is married to an equally successful contracts attorney with a beautiful baby boy named Connor. Mom is obsessed with the idea that I’ll be running errands my entire life. Dad keeps asking why I “can’t go work at Google and do a real job?”
Because you know, apparently everyone in Seattle wants a job at Google.
Oy.
Anyway, errand running supports my vision. I mentally go back to June 5th. I can see in my planner that my first appointment isn’t until nine, when I will work with a new client in the Ravenna neighborhood. I’m not sure what errands I will be doing for her, but I’m booked out all day. I hope that I’ll get to walk dogs or something that involves being outside.
I reach my location and tug open the door to Coffee By Jules, the bells clanging against it as I do. Ah, bliss. I inhale the wonderful aroma of freshly brewed coffee filling the space, one of the most comforting scents in the world as far as I’m concerned. Even if I prefer to drink tea instead.
I head across the old hardwood floors of the shop, which has an eclectic, homey vibe to it. There’s already a line at the counter. I step closer and readjust the band on my ponytail, which is keeping my long, blonde curls out of my face. There. Better.
I wait patiently as I listen to Enya playing from the overhead speakers. I scan the counter and see Maureen is at the register - must be her Monday on, and Brad the barista and oh, I spot a new girl. She’s young like me, early twenties, and she has jet-black hair with purple streaks and a nose-ring. She seems flustered by all the activity going on around her, and I would be, too. Orders are being called out right and left, and she’s trying to scribble on cups, which I see are stacking up on the counter.
“What does this say?” Brad barks, holding a cup to her.
She chews her lower lip, which has a deep purple lipstick applied on it. “Mmmm . . . I . . . I don’t remember!”
Brad lets out a sigh as the door clangs again, the bells chiming over Enya to announce a customer coming or going.
“Carrie, what was your order?” Brad yells out over the hissing of the espresso machines.
“Double shot Americano,” Carrie speaks up.
“Oh, D. D for double,” the new barista nods.
I finally make it up to Maureen, who smiles at me. She knows my order without even asking.
“One green tea latte with coconut milk and one squirt raw honey for Payton,” Maureen calls out.
I glance at the new girl. She appears paralyzed by my order.
“Do you ever get anything different? Earl Grey latte? Lavender tea latte?” Maureen asks as she rings up my order.
I smile. “Nope. My green tea latte is the perfect healthy drink for my morning,” I declare. “Once you achieve perfection, why mess with it?”
I hand her my debit card, and she swipes it. I thank her and retrieve my phone out of my purse, scooting down toward the drink pick up area at the end of the counter.
I swipe open my email and see that one of my readers—a girl named Jo in Lancashire, England—has a lead on a sale at Temperley London, one of Kate’s favorite designers. Yes! Now I can do a Temperley sale feature on the blog today. I quickly message her back, thanking her for the heads up. I’ll need to post it today.
See? This is what I love about my job, connecting with someone from across the Atlantic because of a mutual love of Kate’s style. Jo is so fun—we even chat on WhatsApp—and I can’t wait to go back to the UK to meet her someday.
So many people wonder why I love Kate so much. Besides the fact that I’m utterly fascinated with all things related to the United Kingdom, it’s simple, really. She is pure class. Kate is always appropriate. Whether she’s doing an official visit, running errands, or attending a gala, she’s perfection in her choices. And while I don’t duplicate every outfit myself—after all, she is a duchess and I’m simply Payton of Ballard, ha!—I do find inspiration in her wardrobe for being an elegant woman.
“Orders for Payton and Brooks,” purple-haired barista girl yells out, pushing two cups across the counter.
I reach for one, and so does a guy behind me. Our arms brush against each other, and I immediately pull my arm away.
I turn around to say, “I’m sorry,” but as soon as I do, the words evaporate on my tongue.
Because I’m completely paralyzed by the brown eyes of the hottest man I’ve ever seen.

***


AVEN ELLIS

Website/Blog - http://avenellis.com/



Saturday, 27 August 2016

Book tour: The Secret Wife - Gill Paul


  

A Russian grand duchess and an English journalist. Linked by one of the world’s greatest mysteries . . .

Love. Guilt. Heartbreak.

1914
Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance – and their lives – in danger . . .


2016
Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation makes her flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to a long-buried family secret . . .


Haunting, moving and beautifully written, The Secret Wife effortlessly crosses centuries, as past merges with present in an unforgettable story of love, loss and resilience.


My opinion.
Both the cover and blurb immediately drew me to this book. Although I must add to this that the history element of this story outweighed the present day story-line for me, and I therefore would have loved to see a cover that hinted to that part of the book. 
But what a stunning, gorgeous read The Secret Wife is! One of history's most fascinating families, forever surrounded by mystery and legend, is the Romanov family. I for one have been fascinated by them since the animation movie Anastasia, and Gill Paul only intensified my interest in this piece of history. I also love that The Secret Wife focuses on Tatiana, instead of Anastasia or Alexei - the more obvious choices for a Romanov-novel.
With The Secret Wife being an historical novel based on actual events and people, knowing the course of history did ofcourse influence the reading experience. But for some reason I think knowing part of the outcome made me even more addicted to this story.
The character's emotions were so tangible I couldn't put the book down and even when I wasn't reading, the story still played on my mind. 
I very much preferred the first half of the story (the "Russian" part), but when all the pieces of the puzzle started falling into place near the end of the book, I had shivers and goosebumps all over. Only when the story ended I realized that I still hadn't been able to step away from this book.
I didn't feel as strong a connection to the part of the story set in the present day, but even Kitty's devotion - both to the cabin and uncovering the past - was therapeutic and addictive in some way.
The perfect conclusion to this stunning read, to me, was the historical afterword.

 

 




Saturday, 20 August 2016

Book tour: The Irish Inheritance - M.J. Lee (#1 Jayne Sinclair)



June 8, 1921. Ireland. 
A British Officer is shot dead on a remote hillside south of Dublin.

November 22, 2015. United Kingdom. 
Former police detective, Jayne Sinclair, now working as a genealogical investigator, receives a phone call from an adopted American billionaire asking her to discover the identity of his real father.

How are the two events linked?

Jayne Sinclair has only three clues to help her: a photocopied birth certificate, a stolen book and an old photograph. And it soon becomes apparent somebody else is on the trail of the mystery. A killer who will stop at nothing to prevent Jayne discovering the secret hidden in the past 
The Irish Inheritance takes us through the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence, combining a search for the truth of the past with all the tension of a modern-day thriller.

It is the first in a series of novels featuring Jayne Sinclair, genealogical detective.


My opinion.
I’ve been a history geek for as long as I can remember and I’ve always enjoyed learning more about it through (historical) fiction. And The Irish Inheritance did exactly that. The Irish Revolution or the Easter Rising weren’t things I was particularly familiar with. M J Lee however took me on a journey with this book, transporting me straight into the heath of things, giving his reader a wonderful glimpse of the past thanks to detailed and rich writing throughout.
The story itself was full of unexpected twists and turns and kept me on the edge of my seat. The detective side mixed with history made for a new, unique and exciting cocktail. I truly enjoyed reading The Irish Inheritance and I’ll be on the lookout for more by M J Lee.



 

Author bio: Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.
He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.
Whilst working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarter of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in 1920s and 30s.When he's not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practicing downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

Author links:

Twitter: www.twitter.com/WriterMJLee
Website: www.writermjlee.com





Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Book review: From the Sideline - Amy Avanzino (Wake Up Call #2)


After losing her marriage, life savings, and waistline, Autumn Kovac is terrified of being hit by more heartache. So when her only child decides to try out for the football team, the overprotective, sports-illiterate mom has a near phobic reaction. But Zachary hasn’t smiled since his father left, and she’s desperate to make him happy (and doing nothing and hoping for the best hasn’t been working). She reluctantly enters a new world of youth competitive sports, full of overzealous coaches with Vince Lombardi dreams and fanatical parents trying to achieve vicarious glory. 

Unexpectedly, Autumn begins transforming within this strangely addictive new culture, finding her voice, facing her past, tackling her fears…and uncovering the secret that’s been keeping her from her son. After meeting her ideal catch, she finds herself back in the dating game and discovers some fierce competition of her own. Will Autumn make it off the sideline? Can the underdog finally win? 


My opinion.
What a treat From The Sideline was. I truly enjoyed reading this second installment in Amy Avanzino's Wake Up Call series. Belgium is not particularly known for their football knowledge, since our "football" is the "soccer" kind of football. At the start of the story therefore, I knew as much - or maybe even less - than Autumn did about this game.
With Autumn however Amy wrote one of the most relatable characters I've been introduced to in a while. Apart from her anxiety, there's not much we have in common, but for some reason I just understood her, which made her a perfect main character. I loved seeing both Autumn and Zachary grow. Both their relationship and their individual journeys were emotional to say the least and I teared up quite a few times reading this.
The connection I felt with Autumn also made it easy to get caught up in her growing interest in and joy for the game, and Amy's writing was so contagious I felt myself cheering 'Zeke' and his team on. A joy to read.