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29 June 2016

Review: 'Summer at Oyster Bay' by Jenny Hale (2016)

They say falling in love is easy. But what if you know it’ll break your heart?

For Emily Tate, returning to her charming childhood home Oyster Bay is like coming up for air after the fast pace of her city life. At the farm her grandfather built, surrounded by sister Rachel’s chatter, Gram’s buttermilk biscuits, and the soft, white sand, Emily is reminded of exactly who she is and what she holds most dear.

When Emily starts work at elegant Water’s Edge Inn, Charles Peterson, the handsome new owner, asks for her help. He wants to expand and needs Emily to teach him the local ways, so he can convince the planning commission. Emily vows to make him fall in love with her hometown, just the way it is.

At work, Charles is reserved and serious, yet once Emily has him kicking off his shoes in the sand and sailing across the glistening Chesapeake Bay, she sees another side to him, and their easy rapport feels like the start of something big.

But when it becomes clear Charles’s plans for the inn involve bulldozing Oyster Bay, Emily is heartbroken. Will she lose her home and Charles all at once, or can she save Oyster Bay, and give true love a chance?

Summer wouldn't be summer without an uplifting summer beach read by Jenny Hale! Over the past few years, since her first release with publisher Bookouture, Jenny Hale has become one of the authors whose novels I look out for and just know I will enjoy. I've read all of her fantastic Christmas novels, such as 'Coming Home for Christmas' and 'A Christmas to Remember', and her books 'Love Me for Me' and 'Summer by the Sea' (click here to read my review). With Jenny's novels I always know what to expect, which is a light-hearted and warm romance novel, and so far she hasn't disappointed me. I really looked forward to checking out her newest release, 'Summer at Oyster Bay', and learning more about main characters Emily and Charles!

After turning down her boyfriend's proposal, Emily Tate decides it is time for her to leave behind her busy city life and go back to her small town roots, namely the family home Oyster Bay. It not only provides Emily with the chance to start over, but also makes it possible for her to spend more time with her sister Rachel and her grandmother. When she starts her new job at the local Water's Edge Inn, she meets handsome new owner Charles Peterson. Charles quickly discovers how much Emily loves the area and asks her to show him around. But it doesn't take long for Emily to discover Charles has plans for a big expansion, which includes the demolishing of her beloved Oyster Bay. Emily is willing to do whatever it takes to save her childhood home, the question is: what will she have to give up on along the way?

If you're looking for a lovely and light-hearted summer read that's perfect for a day at the beach, in the park or just a comfy chair at home, don't hesitate to pick up 'Summer at Oyster Bay.' Jenny Hale has once again delivered a wonderful romance story which I'm sure many readers will enjoy just as much as I did. The book has that small American town feeling, which I personally really love, and focuses on the importance of family and childhood memories. Emily has a lot of fond memories starring Oyster Bay, their family home, and when the house is in danger of being demolished, she's willing to give it everything she's got to save it. I could easily relate to Emily, because I found myself in a similar situation with my own grandparents' home in the south of Wales (UK), where I spent many happy summers as a young girl.

While Jenny Hale is great at setting the scene and creating the feeling of family, which is always present in her novels, I did slightly miss the sparks between Emily and Charles. I really enjoyed the story and the separate elements of the plotline, including Emily's worries about Oyster Bay, Rachel's own issues within her family, and the romantic link between Emily and Charles, but I didn't feel it as much as I would have liked to. However, this didn't make the read any less enjoyable and I am happy to add another great novel by Jenny Hale to my Bookouture Love list! Overall, 'Summer at Oyster Bay' is a warm and light-hearted summer romance about family and letting go; a read I'm sure many women's fiction/romance fans will definitely enjoy!
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

28 June 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I Loved But Never Wrote a Review For

'Top Ten Tuesday' is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. I love making lists, so this feature fits me perfectly! If you also take part in this feature or have any additions to my lists, please get in touch; I'd love to hear from you!
10 Books I Loved But Never Wrote a Review For

It's Freebie Week! *blows whistle* I spent a bit of time thinking about what kind of Top 10 I wanted to go for this week and in the end decided to go with a Top 10 topic I missed out on, namely 10 books I loved but never wrote a review for. There are several books on my favourites list I never actually wrote a review for and I picked my top 10, which you can find below!

Be sure to share your own TTT's in the comments section below; I'd love to hear from you! 

1. 'Harry Potter' series - J.K. Rowling

I read the Harry Potter books when I was a lot younger, so I never actually reviewed them. To be honest, though, I think it would also be an incredibly difficult review, because reviews for amazing books are usually the most difficult to write!

2. Jane Austen classics

I love Jane Austen's books, but also never got to actually writing a review on them. I do think I want to write reviews on all of her books someday, but I'll need to re-read all of them first!

3. 'The Notebook' - Nicholas Sparks

My favourite and very first Nicholas Sparks novel. I've reviewed several Nicholas Sparks novels over the years, but I wasn't into reviewing when I first read 'The Notebook', even though I have written a review for the film version; that counts for a bit, right?

4. 'The Babysittersclub' series - Ann M. Martin

I didn't start writing reviews until I was in my early 20s, so when I was addicted to The Babysittersclub I didn't even think about writing down my thoughts on the books. It would be fun to re-read some of these books now and see how I feel about them... (probably quite nostalgic)!

5. 'Vince and Joy' - Lisa Jewell

I loved this book when I was a teenager and it's still one of my favourite classic chick lit novels. Never wrote a review for it, though!

6. 'Little Women' - Louisa May Alcott

Another novel that's one of my favourites but which I read for the first time when I was in my teens and never wrote a review about.

7. 'The Hunger Games' series - Suzanne Collins

Same story as with the other books, really, except that this series isn't really a favourite of mine.

8. 'Pictures of Lily' - Paige Toon

The very first Paige Toon book I read and also the only one I never actually reviewed!

9. 'The Great Gatsby' - F. Scott Fitzgerald

I had to read this book while I was at university and remember having to write quite a long essay about it, but never an actual review...!

10. 'The Princess Diaries' series - Meg Cabot

Oh, I've only got love for 'The Princess Diaries', and that is exactly what you would find in a review of the books, if I ever decide to write one!

27 June 2016

Review: 'The Milliner's Secret' by Natalie Meg Evans (2015)

London,1937. A talented young woman travels to Paris with a stranger. The promise of an exciting career as a milliner beckons, but she is about to fall in love with the enemy... 

Londoner Cora Masson has reinvented herself as Coralie de Lirac, fabricating an aristocratic background to launch herself as a fashionable milliner. When the Nazis invade, the influence of a high-ranking lover, Dietrich, saves her business. But while Coralie retains her position as designer to a style-hungry elite, Paris is approaching its darkest hour. 

Faced with the cruel reality of war and love, Coralie must make a difficult choice – protect herself or find the courage to fight for her friends, her freedom and everything she believes in.

Today I've got a review of a book that is a bit of a step away from the chick lit and romance genre that is usually featured on my blog, namely a historical fiction read! If you visit my blog more often you'll know I love to pick up a different genre every now and again and I really enjoy the kind of historical reads that can make you feel as if you're stuck in a different time, the kind of reads that just blow you away. I heard that Natalie Meg Evans' debut novel 'The Dress Thief' was exactly that kind of read, so when publisher Bookouture was lovely enough to provide me with a review copy of the author's second book, 'The Milliner's Secret' (which was released in 2015), I was really curious and excited to check it out!

Cora Masson grew up in the city of London, but without her mother, and a father who doesn't care about what she does or where she goes, Cora is looking for an escape. When a complete stranger offers to take her to Paris, Cora can't say 'yes' quick enough. She transforms herself into Coralie de Lirac, a milliner with a Belgian aristocratic background. As it's the end of the 1930s, Paris is about to be invaded by the Germans and Coralie's life is about to be turned upside down. Her German lover, Dietrich von Elbing, can help Coralie every now and again, but Coralie soon realises this is really war and she will have to join in with the fight in order to protect her friends and stay true to herself, no matter what.

'The Milliner's Secret' starts off in an intriguing way with three women in a Paris nightclub in the late 1930s, trying to execute a secret plan. This seems like a fitting start to the entire novel which is filled with drama, suspense, romance, and intrigue. Set in both London and Paris during the German occupation, the book tells the story of milliner Cora/Coralie. I really enjoyed how the idea of French couture got linked to war times, even though I did expect more attention to be paid to Coralie's job as a milliner, especially when looking at the title of the book. However, the storyline, which consists of several plots being linked together, managed to keep me interested at most times and even surprised me every now and again.

I've read that there are a few characters in the novel that already appeared in the author's debut, 'The Dress Thief'. Yet, the book can certainly be read as a stand-alone because I didn't feel I was missing information. I have to admit, though, that I couldn't help but struggle a bit with the length of the novel and the quite slow pace of the story. If everything had been a bit faster and more compact I personally would have enjoyed it more, I think. Overall, 'The Milliner's Secret' is a fascinating, intense and well-written story set in the years before World War II broke out; not the book to pick up if you're looking for a light-hearted and easy read, but one that will make an impression, especially for fans of historical fiction.
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.