The Blurb

What can you do to make the world a better place?

Libby and her husband Jason have moved back to his hometown to turn the family B&B into a boutique hotel. They have left London behind and all the memories – good and bad – that went with it.

The injured woman Libby finds lying in the remote country road has lost her memory. She doesn’t know why she came to be there, and no one seems to be looking for her.

When Libby offers to take her in, this one small act of kindness sets in motion a chain of events that will change many people’s lives . . .

The Review

For a long time I have enjoyed the books of Lucy Dillon so when I hear that her latest novel – One Small Act of Kindness – was going to be released this year I was truly excited. I was even happier when I was sent a copy of the book to review.

I have to say that Lucy Dillon has upped her game with One Small Act of Kindness. Don’t get me wrong, her other books have been fantastic but there s something remarkable about this story. In my opinion, the reason why it is such a good read – besides the interesting story of retrograde amnesia that I will talk about in a bit – is because of its two strong leading ladies.

Libby is a grafter. She works hard and she knows what she wants. She has made the best out of a bad situation and tries her hardest to please everyone yet she is constantly facing battles; her husband’s lack of help even though it is because of him that they had to leave their life back in London; the overbearing mother-in-law who can see no wrong in her precious son; her lack of familiarity or friendship. She knows no one and it is hard to make friends as you get older.

Then comes along a mysterious lady who is knocked over just outside the hotel; Libby visits her in hospital just to make sure she is ok and an unlikely friendship is formed. The mysterious lady begins to remember certain things such as her name, it sounds like small fish but when you are suffering with temporary retrograde amnesia these small memories are huge victories. Whilst Libby works on the hotel, the injured lady works on trying to remember who she is.

One Small Act of Kindness tackles an unusual subject and it does so with sensitivity and in my opinion (although I have never met anyone with amnesia) Dillon does this with honesty. The sufferer’s frustration is palpable as she searches the crevices of her mind for any clue – any hint at all – of who she is. Libby tries her hardest to help her with an upbeat attitude but even she says things or asks questions that someone with amnesia wouldn’t be able to answer. Put in that situation I think I would probably act the same way.

The truly great thing about One Small Act of Kindness is that it reminds us that whilst we think that we are doing something little and unimportant that one little act might just change someone’s life. We could all do with showing a bit more kindness to other people.

One Small Act of Kindness by Lucy Dillon is available from the 23rd April 2015.

Follow Lucy Dillon (@lucy_dillon) on Twitter.

One Small Act of Kindness

The Blurb

Four girls. One year.

Five fabulous destinations.

Poppy is bound for Paris, the City of Love. Could this be her chance to end her epic dry spell?

Lily is en route to her cousin’s wedding in LA, where she’s willing to break a few rules to land her dream role.

Maggie can’t wait for her romantic ski holiday in Meribel – until it goes seriously off-piste.

Rachel packs for a glamorous Roman holiday, but a blast from the past is about to sabotage la dolce vita.

The girls get together and fly to Manhattan. But someone’s been hiding a big secret in the Big Apple…

Hilarious, romantic and unputdownable, Girls on Tour is an irresistible series of interlinked stories about four ordinary girls who have extraordinary fun in faraway places. Follow them in an unforgettable year that includes breaking up, making up, new jobs and some big surprises …

Perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk’s I Heart … novels. Previously published as five e-novellas, now in one volume with fabulous brand new material.

The Review

The final part in what has been an absolutely cracking series Girls on Tour reunites Poppy, Lily, Maggie and Rachel as the girls get together in New York to attend an exclusive event hosted by Lily. However, all is not what it seems.

I have loved this series. Each protagonist has made me laugh, yell at my kindle in frustration and also fall in love with them, their lifestyle and their total moxie. I must admit that I am sad to see it all end.

What is great about this collection of shorts is that Doherty has added linking chapters between each chapter and a whole new short story too. That is a lot of bang for your buck.

I think for me personally, the reason why I enjoyed this series so much is that I saw a little of myself in each of the characters; I also saw elements of their collective personalities that I wish I had. Besides all of this Nicola Doherty has made me realise the importance of adventure and also made me cherish and value the small events that shape our everyday.

If you have not read the Girls on Tour series then I implore you to buy this book. It is a wonderful sassy romp worthy of you spending your hard earned moolah on.

Girls on Tour by Nicola Doherty is available now.

Read on to see my reviews of the previous four books in this series.

Girls on Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poppy Does Paris

poppy does parisPoppy Does Paris, the first instalment in the Girls on Tour series was pretty much the ideal short story for me. I combined two of my favourite things; the world of publishing and the beautiful city of Paris.

What I loved about this short story is that the characters seemed fully developed. They didn’t appear as just brief snapshots. The story didn’t feel like scenes placed together, producing a domino effect. I was able to be charmed, amused and feel for the Poppy and romantic lead, Charlie.

Poppy’s mistakes felt like they could have been made by anyone. You genuinely wanted her not to screw up and felt the embarrassment – nay mortification – when she did. She was such a likable protagonist. Nicola Doherty has managed to create a character who I wanted to be – flaws and foibles included.

Lily Does LA

Lily Does LAI loved the first part of the Girls on Tour series – Poppy Does Paris. I did find Lily Does LAa little bit harder to get into.

Initially, I found Lily a little bit petulant. She was selfish and attracted the wrong kind of drama. I have to admit, she was really hard to like. Unlike Poppy – who seemed to make genuine mistakes, Lily caused her own drama and then didn’t really take responsibility for her actions.

However, once Lily had her life epiphany and had a complete character arc reveal she became quite likable, to the point that I am looking forward to reading more about her in the rest of the series.

So whilst I would say that Poppy Does Paris is more enjoyable do not give up Lily Does LA. Lily does become more likable and her story was actually very enjoyable.

Maggie Does Meribel

Maggie Does MeribelMaggie Does Meribel has been my favourite of the Girls on Tour series of books. What Nicola Doherty has managed to do (and do very well) is create a realistic story about the pitfalls of any relationship. The way she describes Maggie’s insecurity about rocking the boat when it is damn obvious that Leo is being horrible to her is such an honest account. Haven’t we all felt like that sometimes?

This was especially clever by being juxtaposed with the two other relationships within the story. They showed us, the reader, and Maggie exactly what she was missing.

I think Nicola Doherty has created such a wonderful series of books and each one has its own merits. With Maggie Does Meribel it is the anti-love story that makes it so special. Another massive well done to Nicola Doherty.

 

Rachel Does Rome

Rachel does RomeI have loved the Girls on Tour series and in my opinion they just keep getting better and better. Rachel Does Rome does not disappoint!

In this fourth instalment we see some of our favourite characters reunite for a girly holiday in Rome to save themselves from the Valentine blues. However, it seems like our protagonist Rachel has to deal with her past before she can move on.

In what I like to describe as the Sex and the City of short stories, Rachel Does Romefocuses more on friendship and independence than the other stories in this series. It is good to read a story about strong social groups – friendships over male/female relationships – it helps to remind you to keep your girls close because they are always there for you to fall back on.

Another triumph from Nicola Doherty!

Title: Confessions of a City Girl: San Diego

Author: Juliette Sobanet

Pages: 76 pages

The Blurb

Liz Valentine’s intense career as a covert officer for the CIA has made it nearly impossible for her to keep a man around. Her non-existent love life only becomes more hopeless when her long-time partner—the man she has been in love with for years—is killed on their latest mission overseas. What’s worse is that Liz blames herself for his untimely death.

In an attempt to get her head on straight, Liz jets out to San Diego to attend a yoga retreat at her sister’s new studio. Before she can say “om,” Liz is entrenched in the land of margaritas, sunshine, sexy surfers, and way too many down dogs. But when one oh-so-enlightened yoga instructor catches her eye—and her heart—Liz must decide if the loveless life of a secret agent is truly what she wants after all.

The Review

Confessions of a City Girl: San Diego is the second installement from the Confessions series by Juliette Sobanet; a writer who I make no bones about saying is one of my favourite contemporary romance authors. It is due to having faith that she can tell a good story rather than the blur that sells me her books. However, what is good about her writing is that it never disappoints. The San Diego Confessions live up to my expectations.

The story focuses on Liz Valentine who has been sent to spend some time in San Diego with her sister Julia. Liz is heartbroken over the death of her work partner and the love of her life. It is starting to affect her work life and so she goes to stay with her sister to regroup and pull herself together. Little does she realise that a new exciting adventure in love is just around the corner.

With the character of Liz, Sobanet has created someone who is a bit like an M&M; a hard outer shell with a soft centre. Liz Valentine wants to be the tough emotionless person who can survive in her job as a CIA agent yet she cannot seem to be at one with the mindless robotic nature that is expected. Whereas some might see this as weak I think that Sobanet has got the balance perfect making Liz’s emotions seem like a strength not a weakness.

I have loved the Confessions series and cannot wait for more stories by Juliette Sobanet

Confessions of a City Girl: San Diego by Juliette Sobanet is available now.

Follow Juliette Sobanet (@JulietteSobanet) on Twitter.

The Blurb

Jessica Beam is a girl who knows how to party. Only lately she’s been forgetting to turn up for work on time. Or in clean clothes. Down on her luck, out of a job and homeless, Jess seeks the help of her long-lost grandmother.

Things aren’t going well for Matilda Beam, either. Her 1950s Good Woman guide books are out of print, her mortgage repayments are staggering and her granddaughter wears neon Wonderbras.

When a lifeline from a London publisher arrives, the pair have an opportunity to secure the roof over their heads – by invigorating the Good Woman guides and transforming modern, rebellious Jess into a demure vintage lady.

The true test of their make-over will be to capture the heart of notorious London playboy Leo Frost and prove that Matilda’s guides still work. It’s going to take commitment, nerves of steel and one seriously pointy bra to pull this off . . .

The Review

I love that feeling you get when you read a really good book that makes you desperately want to be the main character. This is the feeling that I got when I read the latest Kirsty Greenwood novel The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance. I wanted to be Jess Baum.

To be fair, I kind of felt akin to the main character: child of the 80s; likes to have fun; doesn’t take life to seriously and clearly hasn’t got it all figured out. It is these few characteristics (among a plethora of others) that make her so likeable. She is a bit klutzy and damaged and tends to put her foot in her mouth and she swears like a trouper. To begin with she is a bit of a ladette.

When Jessica goes in search of her estranged grandmother Matilda, her whole life and routine takes a sharp turn. She goes from being the mad nutter in the room who everyone wants to party with to a facsimile of a well put together lady. In a transformation worthy of a teen movie, we see not only Jess’s physical change but also her persona. Gone is the self protecting shield, her defences go down and he starts to fall in love with her new family and her new life.

The love story between Jess and Leo is played out perfectly. You get scared for Jess as you read along and you scream at the characters because you know that things are going to go wrong if they don’t listen to you. It is that kind of story; one you cannot help but get completely immersed in. You feel as though the characters – Jess in particular – is your friend.

What is also rather special about The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance is that it isn’t just Jess’s story. It is a story of three generations of Baum women all who have a different outlook on how they should live their lives. There is incredible sadness mixed with quaint tradition and laugh out loud humour. The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance has so much to offer.

But besides the great story telling you also have the fashion. Now I am not really into my clothes but I do admit to having a rather big soft spot for vintage garb and era defining outfits. The style and pizzazz of the clothes that Jess gets to wear will make you envious because the descriptions ooze class. Perfection.

If you only read one book this year (which in my opinion is a completely weird thing to do) then make sure it is The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance. Kirsty Greenwood has knocked it out of the park with this gem of a book.

The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance by Kirsty Greenwood is available now.

Follow Kirsty Greenwood (@kirstybooks) on Twitter.

Vintage Guide

The Blurb

Inside we are all monsters…

Chloe was once a normal girl. Until the night of the car crash that nearly claimed her life. Now Chloe’s mother is dead, her father is a shell of the man he used to be and the secrets that had so carefully kept their family together are falling apart.

A new start is all Chloe and her father can hope for, but when you think you’re no longer human how can you ever start pretending?

The Review

Under My Skin is the story of Chloe, a seventeen year old with a secret. She is different from other girls her age and it is this difference that means that she lives hidden in the shadows of a regular life. She doesn’t go to school, have a boyfriend or heck even have any friends. She lives under the rules and guidance of her overprotective scientist of a father.

Finally, after months of living a cloak and dagger life Chloe convinces her father to allow her to go back to school. However, when things start to go awry for Chloe she has to concede that maybe her father was right to be worried.

So Under My Skin could be described as a modern day Frankenstein story. It has elements of fantasy and science fiction blended with YA fiction. You cannot help but feel sorry for Chloe who is almost suffocating under her father’s almost militant regime. You spend the majority of the book thinking that he is the bad guy, stifling her every move. Yet you also become suspicious of every other character in the book. His caution wears off on you. It is the heightened levels of suspicion that makes Under My Skin a compelling read.

My one bug bear with the book is that initially the pacing was too slow. It takes five chapters before I felt like anything had happened. Whilst I understand that was to build mystery and intrigue I did find myself asking ‘where is this going?’ and ‘what is the point?’ Under My Skin does get so much better so please stick with it. Once those first five chapters are out of the way the rest of the book is a high speed dramarama.

Under My Skin by Zoe Markham is available now.

Follow Zoe Markham (@ZoeMarkham) on Twitter.

Under My Skin