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The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard by Robert Bryndza

thenotsosecret

Length: 310 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Coco Pinchard always dreamed of being a successful writer, but then life got in the way. She married young, had a son, and put her dreams on hold… But now she’s forty, and her first novel is about to be published! Her husband Daniel has greyed nicely into a silver fox, and her son Rosencrantz is all grown up. Shouldn’t it be time to enjoy life?

That is, until the annual family Christmas when her hideous in-laws come to stay, and Coco opens her gift from Daniel. It’s not the jewellery she chose, but an iPhone. This marks the start of Daniel’s mid-life crisis and Coco catches him in bed with a younger woman.

The iPhone becomes a confessional, and as Coco’s life unravels, she documents her seemingly endless (and often entertaining) run of bad luck through emails to loyal friends Christopher, an ageing trustafarian, and Marika, a slightly alcoholic schoolteacher.

Then Coco meets the hunky Adam and she’s back in the world of dating as a single forty-something. Read the emails that tell the heart warming and often hilarious tale of Coco picking up the pieces, in this fun, feel-good Romantic Comedy.

The Review: I had heard so much about this series of books from Robert Bryndza, in the first instance from  Facebook posts Bookaholic Holly from Bookaholic Confessions (excellent blog-check it out) and, always being in search for chick lit I was very tempted but then I Read The Girl in the Ice and The Night Stalker and Mr Bryndza was somehow cemented in my brain as a thriller writer and so that was it. Then one day I began to see different parts of the series on special offer and started to buy them up. One of the first books that jumped out at me when I signed up to Kindle Unlimited was this book and  I saw it as a sign that I had to cop on and get moving (yes I do put this much thought into books!).

So, I’ve always loved reading books where you find out what’s happening through emails or a diary and this was no exception. We begin with a description of Coco’s  christmas that had me ready for a great book from the get go-“Rosencrantz” ( that’s Coco’s son) “picked up his nan, Ethel, from her nursing home, and she began with the usual, ‘This might be my last Christmas’ before inviting herself for Christmas next year, and Easter, and Mother’s Day … ”

The book sees Coco, author (yay!) of Chasing Diana Spencer, an, um, alternative look at the royals, who is doing some book promo and hoping her book will hit it big. After a perceived too frank interview, Coco is shunned from the book world and has to try to figure things out. Throw into the mix some issues with her husband Daniel and her son, a struggling actor and you get pacing and a story that keeps your eyes glued to the screen. The characters were exellent, I’m not going to mention  too many but Ethel was epic (and I don’t use that word lightly), in particular there was a gorgeous  letter that she wrote to Rosencrantz (who I also really enjoyed) that I re-read after,  and Chris was so lovely, and of course Coco was such a legend, strong and inspiring. The most excellent thing about this book was how brave it was, it didn’t just make you smile, it made you giggle, titter, and snigger too! It was very much in the ‘Carry On’ style in places, and yet the perfect balance of seriously over the top inappropriateness was equaled with good old fashioned ‘it’s the way you tell em’ humour. I loved it all and can’t wait to get to number 2.
Rating:5/5

Out Now: See You Later Broadway by Melissa Baldwin @mpbaldwinauthor @HelloChickLit

seeyoulaterbroadwayLength: 337 pages

Please note as always that the cover image leads to an Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: It’s finally here . . . the much-anticipated sequel to See You Soon Broadway! Maris is back!


Decisions, decisions, decisions . . .

Maris Forrester’s exciting new life is not everything she was hoping it would be. Although she’s happy in her new career, she’s plagued with the feeling that something is still missing. Imagine her surprise when an old friend presents her with an unbelievable opportunity that could change everything. This new career sounds almost too good to be true, including the upcoming trip to London. She quickly learns that even the most perfect scenarios have their drawbacks, and when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is . . .

In addition to making a life-changing career choice, Maris realizes she has other decisions to make—whom to love and where to find happiness. What if neither is what she thought they should be?

About the author

melissabaldwin

Melissa Baldwin is an avid runner, planner obsessed, and has always had a love for writing. She is a wife, mother, and avid journal keeper who took her creativity to the next level by fulfilling her dream with her debut novel, An Event to Remember…or Forget. Melissa writes about charming, ambitious, and real women and is now a published author of seven Romantic Comedy novels and novellas.

When she isn’t deep in the writing zone, this multi-tasking master organizer is busy spending time with her family, chauffeuring her daughter, traveling, running, indulging in fitness, and taking a Disney Cruise every now and then.

Website

Amazon Author Page

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All Fall Down by Tom Bale

 

allfalldown

Length: 359 pages

Note: The cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link

What they say:

It’s the perfect Sunday. Summer sunshine, a barbecue with the kids.
But a knock on the garden gate and two words, ‘HELP ME’, changes everything.

When loving parents Rob and Wendy Turner let a dying man into their home, and do their best to help him, they think pure chance led him to their house. But soon their lives are threatened in ways they could never have imagined … and then the first anonymous letter arrives, forcing them to question all they know.

Someone is watching.
Someone is waiting.
They will stop at nothing.

Rob and Wendy will do anything to keep their family safe, but their children Georgia, Josh and Evan are teenagers now, with their own hidden lives.

Everyone has secrets, but how can you save your family, if you don’t really know them?

The Review: I had seen this book on so many blogs and was chomping at the bit to get to it. From the start I was excited. There’s so many thrillers out there where whatever happens takes place when the lead is alone, and it was nice for it to take place at a family barbecue, when everyone was together and so there were witnesses. The ‘it’ is the stumbling of a homeless man who has been tortured into the garden. This more than set the scene and I was ready for a rough ride. I enjoyed Mr Bale’s storytelling, after worrying at the start that the writing wasn’t my cup of tea, as Rob, the lead, was too paranoid and wondered a bit too much about the homeless man, leading me to think that the ‘was there a message to all of this’ line of thinking was trying too hard to lead us. This flew in the face of times where we weren’t told things about the past that could have been alluded to earlier.  My other issue was that I found the story to be a bit disjointed at times, and I had to make notes on the many minor characters, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Saying that, this all quickly faded to grey as we followed Rob and his family away and came face to face with a group of nut jobs (well, they were!), who felt they had the right to do as they pleased to get all the power they felt they deserved. I had that muzzy feeling and tension headache that comes from being so deep into a book that you are walking alongside the characters absolutely terrified of what is going to happen next. This group of people wanted to push boundaries by seeing how they can physically hurt people and I knew the author was over a line that most of the thriller and crime writers that I read would toe, and it had me nervous of what I could actually read. I had some relief when some things DIDN’T happen but it was still a tough one. Saying that it was excellent, the story, the characters, the tension, and I read it in just two sittings (would have read in one but, you know, kid stuff;)) and couldn’t stop thinking about it. Highly recommend if you like the grit of a tough hostage situation where anything can go. Special mention for Tom Bale’s letter to the reader at the end-it will most definitely drive me on to his next book. Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for this book in return for an honest review.
Rating:5/5

 

 

 

Does My Bump Look Big In This? by Amy Lynch

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Length: 329 pages

Note: The cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link  for the book

What they say: the MOTHER of all comedies is due…
Newlyweds Barry and Becky are just back from their tropical honeymoon. The tans are gorgeous, and it was five star luxury all the way. But there’s a problem. Barry’s desperate for a baby, and Becky’s not quite so keen.
Surrounded by pregnant friends and a mother who’s talking about the ticking of invisible biological clocks, Becky starts to feel the pressure. When a surprise pregnancy rocks the boat, Becky’s friends and family are rooting for her all the way. Will she navigate the choppy waters to motherhood? Will she survive antenatal classes? Can she avoid stretchmarks, indigestion and her dreaded boss? And most importantly of all… does her bump look big in this?

The Review: You’ll remember I raved about Bride Without A Groom (read review here), hoping that there was a sequel coming out. How happy was I when I saw that this book was available for pre-order?! Of course then I did what I’ve done to much of and am fixing this year and put it aside and got bogged down with other stuff but I’m happy to say this book was paramount in getting me out of a really bad reading slump.

As you know I adore chick lit and this, that of the ‘Legally Blond’ and ‘Clueless’ variety, is rarely done as well as it is by Amy Lynch. I have seen it likened to the Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella, and it needs to be, because these books are every bit as satisfying, fun and enjoyable as Ms. Kinsella’s (excellent) ones. Again we’re following Becky as she clip clops through life, having opinions on anything and everyone, as well as deciding exactly how everything needs to happen. I loved how you rea

There is a plethora of over the top, inappropriate jokes (I regularly laughed, trying to stop myself as I did) on getting ready to have a baby that are brave and oh-so satisfying, but never crude and again I felt like this book was tailor made with references or mentions of ‘Friends,’ ‘Big Brother,’ ‘Ghost, ‘The Snapper, ‘ ‘Mount Carmel hospital (where I was born!) and ‘Orange Is The New Black.’ Oh and Patrick Swayze, but I’ll lower my head for that particular reference!  This seems like a short review but I think I’ve made my point, you’ll know.

My finishing point is that they say that the sign of a good book is that you want to press it into the hands of others and actually I have a number of people who will adore this. This could be read as a standalone but really, if you know you’ll like it, why would you?! As I did. Cannot wait for Amy Lynch’s next book and I’m pretty sure I’m in for the long haul.

Rating: 5/5

Pot Love by Sylvia Ashby

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Length: 302 pages

Note: As always the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Ashley Burkе is your average next-door girl. She lives with her boyfriend, loves her work and secretly fancies her boss.

When Ashley loses it all through no fault of her own, well, apart from snogging her boss and getting caught by his fiancée, she needs to act fast to find a new job. A lucrative vacancy comes her way – a spot on a popular day-time TV – but there is a catch. It’s a cookery spot and Ashley can’t cook to save her life.

Can learning to cook burn your heart? 

The Review: Remember Treachery of Trains (read review here)? Well at the time I saw this, which is Sylvia Ashby’s first book, and I was mesmerised but the thought of pairing Ms. Ashby’s excellent turn of phrase with cookery, a subject that I am obsessed with, mainly because I can’t! The book opens with a recipe for scrambled eggs (I ADORE when people put recipes into fiction books!), and we meet Ashley Burke, who is nervous about beginning to cook it. You might think this is unrealistic but I can totally, totally identify with this. Even though I am a stay at home Mum, my husband is the cook in the family, and every day I stand before whatever I am about to attempt to cook with apprehension. The only things that even roughly work out are the things that you can’t feed your kids more than once a week, and require simply putting in the oven (they are fine with this!) Everything else? It ends up charred (never undercooked, I don’t want to give them food poisoning!), crispy, soggy or lumpy. Things congeal that shouldn’t, and the meals always just taste  a little bit wrong (my husband is diplomatic, but did once admit he didn’t know how I try so hard and yet my food always tastes a bit off). But I digress …

Ashley’s mantra is “I’m not giving up and ordering a takeaway” and she wants to have something presentable for her very by the book boyfriend Simon, who by now banks on her not being able to put anything forward as an alternative for take-out. There are some great references in here, from Aimee Winehouse to The Truman Show to Mission Impossible to Jamie Oliver, which made the sum of all parts, the book in its entirety feel like it was custom fit for me.

Ashley is a newsreader, which gives a nice edge to the book, as she reads about politics and the like, but when something hits the fan and she needs a new job she sees the perfect presenting job. Only trouble is, it’s presenting a TV cookery show. What ensues is a book that wouldn’t let me go, as we watch Ashley begin to learn about cooking from the spell binding Giacomo, a top chef who imparts a world of knowledge about food and his native Sardinia. The depth here was enthralling and I was reeled in to experience it all, the culture, the produce, the dishes. The change of location, as in The Treachery Of Trains, was perfection as it both educated me and made me wasn’t to go travelling to see Sardinia in all it’s beauty.

I loved the humour, the descriptions, the characters (in particular her mum, who was just so vivid), the gorgeous (gorgeous) romance, the pacing, all of it. This coupled with the fact that I’ve ‘met’ Sylvia Ashby on social media and she’s so lovely, mean I’m totally in- another author to follow.

Rating: 5/5

 

 

All We Have Lost by Aimee Alexander

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Length: 276 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal amazon link for the book

What they say:

From the bestselling author of Pause to Rewind and The Accidental Life of Greg Millar comes this ‘stunning tale of modern marriage.’

Kim Waters seems to have it all: her own PR agency, a loving husband and two adorable children. Then Kim announces that she’s fed up plugging Flush toilet cleaner and writing sparkling press releases for mediocre products; she wants to write ‘the great novel’ and spend more time with her young family. She folds her business and settles down to a life of cosy domesticity.

If only it were that easy. The ‘great novel’ is, in fact, a great struggle. Life as a domestic goddess has (many) hidden challenges. And her relationship with her husband is rapidly losing its equilibrium.

As the perfect life Kim has built for herself starts to crumble comes the revelation that will make her doubt everything she had taken for granted…

The Review: I saw Aimee Alexander aka Denise Deegan, speaking at a literary festival some years ago, and I knew from her covers which were dark, her extract, which was a rom com, and the way she spoke about writing, that she was one to read straight away. Of course I didn’t. Instead I went to Amazon, bought two of her books, constantly reminding myself I had to read her, with this hitting fever pitch as I watched everyone around rave over The Accidental Life Of Greg Millar … And again I didn’t get to her. Until Christmas time, and boy am I relived I did!

So the book begins with the lead arriving home to a darkened house after she’s missed her children’s bedtime again. The narrative, that of the first person, present tense variety, was perfect. We see Kim, the working mum who feels guilty all the time, who has done this one too many times and decides to give up life as she knows it to become a stay at home mum and a writer (yes!). This resulted in some very funny book issues, which I couldn’t get enough of (I loved how the protagonist had to come to terms with a best friend who had a book deal based off her notoriety while she was starting from the absolute beginning). My only issue actually was that the writer in me would have loved to see more of this.

This book struck so many chords with me. The feelings, the change of dynamic in the house, sometimes possibly perceived as opposed to actual, and the difference in relationship between Ian and Kim, who were such a great pairing. There were times in this book that I took it upon myself to be mad for Kim as household tasks were now handed over to her, but with no please or thank you (would you know that I perhaps see some of our home situation here, lol?) as decisions they made jointly were suddenly solely the duty of the earner of the house (no fingers, stop typing, you are NOT going to do this!) There was an excellent portrayal of the mixed emotions that come with going from a career to staying at home with children, with the feelings of being content and happy to be with the kids sometimes being usurped by loneliness, an itch to do more, a niggling feeling that you’ve lost your place in terms of value in the world, as well as your rights in the household.

The pacing was excellent, with twists and turns, cliches that turned out not to be and side issues and back issues that I won’t go into as I don’t want to spoil it. I’ll tell you that this is what I would catalogue as a slightly darker form of ‘mom lit,’ and it’s one I’ll be recommending all around me. I really enjoyed this and will most definitely be reading Aimee Alexander’s books (see her catalogue here), again.

Rating: 4.5/5

Christmas Under A Starlit Sky by Holly Martin (Book 2 of the ‘A Town Called Christmas’ Series)

christmasunderastarlitsky

What they say: Step inside a beautiful winter wonderland where love, laughter and cosy nights by the fire will make this Christmas one to remember.

Neve Whitaker loves managing the Stardust Lake hotel. She gets to work alongside her wonderful family and she’s spending Christmas on the most enchanting, snow-covered island in Scotland. So why is her heart so heavy this festive season?

It might have something to do with the gorgeous actor Oakley Rey, the man she finished with before he left for California and the man she loves more than anything. With Oakley’s career in Hollywood soaring, Neve is convinced she’d only hold him back. She had to end it with him – at least that’s what she keeps telling herself.

But now she has a secret she’s struggling to keep, and when Oakley arrives on Juniper Island determined to win her back, Neve is thrown off balance. Will Neve’s fear of having her heart broken again push Oakley away for good, or is it time for her to take a leap of faith?

Get swept away by this deliciously sweet and heartwarming tale, and spend an unforgettable Christmas on Juniper Island.

 

The review: I had heard so much about the first book of this series, Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky, that when I saw this on Netgalley I was absolutely thrilled. I had read ‘Tied Up with Love‘ (by Holly Martin writing as Amelia Thorne) before I started blogging, and knew Ms. Martin’s romance and comedy to be exemplary, and her pacing excellent and again they didn’t disappoint.

There were four main characters in this book- and we meet them at the Stardust Lake Hotel where Neve is manager and Adam is on contract. I say four main characters but actually, there were a lot of minor characters here too, and I think that reading the first in this series would have been better to start with. Neve and Oakley have history and are trying to figure out whether they are willing to make it work (he is a famous actor whose life is in America, she is on Juniper Island in Scotland). It says in the blurb that Neve has a secret to keep and yes, it is a big one, with many missed chances for the revelation coming and going. This will annoy quite a few people, as there were roadblocks a plenty, and yes, some of them I predicted, in a ‘if such and such happened now it would be crazy,’ and then it would happen and yet, this book still hit the mark for me. I’m afraid the only issue I had was that I found some of the story to be a little confusing, in particular I didn’t have a feel for who the characters were in terms of their age and appearance and had to skip back in places to figure out what was going on, this could have been an editing issue or it could have just been me, I’m not sure to be honest.

There was another ‘will they, won’t they’ which was filled with lovely moments that were really sweet and had me nodding along. As I said above, Ms.Martin’s romance is perfection as was the chemistry in the book and the (cough) sex. What with that and the constant drama that had me read this in two evenings, it was a book I thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks to Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5