Book Review: The Olive Branch by Jo Thomas #BookReview #BookLovers #TheOliveBranch

Title: The Olive Branch
Author: Jo Thomas
Publisher: Headline Review
Date: August 25th, 2015
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Won in a giveaway

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): It’s amazing what you can buy online these days:
Memorabilia
Fashion accessories
A crumbling Italian farmhouse…

After a Prosecco-fuelled girls’ night in gets out of hand, Ruthie Collins awakes to discover that she has bid for her dream Italian home online – and won. Recently out of a relationship, a new start is just what Ruthie needs. Anything is better than sleeping on her mum’s settee.

But arriving in Southern Italy, Ruthie doesn’t know the first thing about running an olive farm. And with new neighbours, the tempestuous Marco Bellanouvo and his fiery family to contend with, all Ruthie wants is to go back home.

Life can change with the click of a mouse. But all good things – friendship, romance, and even the olive harvest – take time to grow. Can Ruthie finally put the past to rest and find her own piece of the Dolce Vita along the way?

Review:

OmG, this book! I can’t even find the words to describe how much I loved it.
I know it’ll probably sound stupid, but I’ll say it anyway: This book made my life more beautiful. 

It really did. So many times while reading I had that warm, comfortable feeling only few books can give you, and after finishing it I just wanted to hug it for a while. So I did. And to be completely honest, I don’t recall when was the last time I had a need to literally hug a book.
And that, my friends, is the reason The Olive Branch found the spot in my All-Time-Favorite-Books list.

The story follows Ruthie who buys herself a new Italian home. Once she arrives to her new place, she finds out it is not easy to live alone in a big house, with a huge estate and a goat who lives there, especially when your neighbours don’t want you there, because your estate belonged to them for decades, and they still consider it as theirs.

The Olive Branch is a book full of positive vibes, lovely feelings, sunshine and food.
I feel like it could make anyone’s day at least a bit better.
As a matter of fact, it should be prescribed as a cure to anyone who is in a poor mood or had a bad day. That’s how lovely this novel is.

The story itself is great and beautiful, but what also makes this book perfect is Jo Thomas’ skill to write.
I flew through this book, and my reading speed accelerated dramatically: from cca 30 to 50 pages per hour, which is HUGE.
I think that the main reason for that is how great the writing style actually was. I know I said many times in my reviews that the writing style pulled me in and didn’t let go, and I could say it again here, but only imagine it 5 times stronger.
Like, the story didn’t pull me in, it grabbed me and I couldn’t get out until I finished the last page (and now I’m rambling).

I loved so many things about this book. How fun it was, how beautifully the nature was described, how good people in the story actually were, and how animals also had their role, especially Daisy.

I am so thankful that I had a chance to read Jo Thomas’ books this year. This summer I read her last published book Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard and I loved it so much, I knew I wanted to read more of her work.
Now when I finished The Olive Branch and loved it even more, I want to read everything she wrote.
I was lucky enough to receive her newest book A Winter Beneath the Stars that will be published in December, and I also ordered myself three of her books that were published previously.
I can’t wait to dive into all of them!

Overall, The Olive Branch is my favorite book that I’ve read this year so far and I would recommend it to everyone.

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Book Review: Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas

Title: Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard
Author: Jo Thomas
Publisher: Headline Review
Date: August 9th, 2018
Format: Physical ARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Jo Thomas’s new novel invites you to a special cherry orchard in Spain, where sunshine, romance and family secrets are the order of the day. Perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond, Milly Johnson and Katie Fforde, SUNSET OVER THE CHERRY ORCHARD is a heartwarming, hilarious tale.

It’s time for Beti Winter to dance to her own beat. 

After three failed engagements Beti is in desperate need of a fresh start. What better place than the sun-drenched hills of southern Spain?

But it’s not all sangria and siestas. Beti finds work on an old Andalucian cherry farm where there are cherries to be picked, trees to be watered and her fiery boss, Antonio, to win over.

As the sun toasts her skin, Beti finds herself warming to the Spanish way of life. Embracing the art of flamenco, she discovers there is much to learn from the dance of passion. She just has to let loose and listen to the rhythm of her heart.

Jo Thomas takes you there.

Review:

I believe there’s a right time for everything, and that includes books and authors as well.
Let me explain what I mean…

Jo Thomas is an author of women’s fiction (which is my favorite genre) for several years now. If you take a look at her covers and read synopsis of her novels, you expect feel good stories full of food, love and interesting people in interesting places.
Sounds like exactly my cup of tea, right!
But somehow, until recently, Jo Thomas was invisible to me. I have not paid attention to her books, which so unfortunate and don’t even ask me why because I could not give you the answer. Somehow, I haven’t heard about her or her books, even though she is kinda popular and twitter is buzzing about her.
What is even more ironic, after finishing Sunset over the Cherry Orchard I realized I already own one of her previous books, The Olive Branch, which I won in a giveaway two years ago along with other 7 books by other authors.

This year, Thomas’ newest novel came to my door unsolicited, thanks to Becky Hunter who is publicist in publishing house Headline Review. I worked with Becky ever since I started blogging and she thought I would love Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard.

She was so right! I loved, loved, loved everything about this book.
I read it on my vacation and honestly I can not imagine more appropriate book to read while you’re relaxed, in a good mood, eating fruit and feeling sunshine on your skin…

The story follows Beti Winter who moves in Spain with her fiance to start a new life. Not long after they move in, her fiance leaves her and also takes away all of her money, leaving her by herself struggling to make it on her own.

Beti was a character to look up to. She’s been through so much, always judged by other people but she never stopped believing in herself, never loosing hope.

I could relate to her so much, on many aspects: from failed relationships to judgmental family (only I never got robbed, thanks God, but then again, I never had some big inheritance so here we are).

As I already stated, I loved everything about this novel.
I loved how it was structured, with short chapters with interesting ends that make you want to read next one immediately. Good vibes were all over the pages, even though the story itself is not only cherries, dance and sunshine (but there are plenty of it through it, just so you know!). There were also some life situatuions that are somewhat challenging, but still, Jo Thomas managed to keep good mood through the whole story, and I phrase her for that!

I love how every character had it’s own role and no one was there just for sake of being.

I won’t bore you any longer because I think this review is already pretty long, so I will just say (I would shout it if I could actually) that Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard is an adorable book and you should all do yourself a favour, take this novel, let it bring a piece of sunshine into your lives and read it!

I am so thankful that I had a chance to enjoy Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard and I am so looking forward to read more books by Jo Thomas, because I have a feeling she could be my new favorite author.
As you’ve probably guessed, The Olive Branch is the next one on my tbr.

Book Review: The Love Shack by Jane Costello

Title: The Love Shack
Author: Jane Costello
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Date: April 23rd, 2015
Pages: 484
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Life’s great when you’re 29 years old with a gorgeous girlfriend and fulfilling job. Until you have to move back in with your mum . . .

Dan and Gemma have found their dream first home, but the asking price is the stuff of nightmares. The only way they’ll ever save enough for the deposit is by moving in, rent-free, with Dan’s mum.

It’s a desperate solution, but it’s only for six months. And Gemma’s determined to make it work, no matter how bad things get.

But between Dan’s mum’s kitchen karaoke, her constant innuendos, irrepressible argumentative streak and – worst of all – her ham and pineapple curries, life back at home would test the patience of two saints. Which Dan and Gemma most definitely are not.

Then, as they’re trying to convince themselves it will all be worth it, Gemma’s past comes back to haunt her. And suddenly the foundations of their entire relationship are shaken to their core…

 

Review:

Ohh, Jane Costello! Seems like I can’t get enough of her books. They always make my day a bit better no matter in what stage my life is.
If you follow me for a while, you probably know she is my favorite author, and there’s a reason for that. Read this, or any other of her books, and you’ll understand.

The Love Shack follows a couple, Dan and Gemma who have been together for four years and they are in a process of buying a house.
They find a perfect one, but in order to be able to afford it, they have to live under the same roof with Dan’s mother for 6 months.
It’s not an easy choice but Gemma and Dan will do their best to secure the best possible future for themselves.

Reading this novel was such a delight. I got lost in Gemma and Dan’s story, had my LOL moments and was just having fun. It was everything that I wanted from a book at that time (that’s why I picked it in the first place, because I can always count on Costello to bright the mood).

Even tough it is a typical chick-lit (it has all the elements but the only difference is that in this story we follow the couple that are together from the very beginning of the story), I would say that this book is also very realistic.

Buying a house comes with lots and lots of paper works and compromise, and this book shows that (Just to stress out, it won’t bore you with those legal things that are not funny to read anyway).
Also, problems that our main characters had in this novel are ones everyone could come across now and then (especially Gemma’s).

The novel is written in fist person, following two POVs: Dan’s and Gemma’s.
I think that the author did a very good job because character’s voices sounded similar, but yet different.

I liked the imperfection of the characters.
I didn’t approve Gemma’s acts and couldn’t understand Dan’s principles, but still I liked them both very much.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed reading The Love Shack. I know this is one of those books I can always come back to.
Would I recommend? Defintely!
If you still haven’t read anything of Costello’s work, do yourself a favour and give her books a chance. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

P.S. In April Jane Costello will release her new book You Me Everything under a pseudonym Catherine Isaac. Movie rights have already been sold, as well as rights for translation to (I think) 15 different countires. I can’t wait to read that one!

Book Review: The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even by Anna Bell

the-good-girlfriends

Title: The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even
Author: Anna Bell
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Date: January 26th, 2017
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): ‘Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella’. Another hilarious and heart-warming romantic comedy from bestselling author Anna Bell

When Lexi’s sport-mad boyfriend Will skips her friend’s wedding to watch football – after pretending to have food poisoning – it might just be the final whistle for their relationship.

But fed up of just getting mad, Lexi decides to even the score. And, when a couple of lost tickets and an ‘accidentally’ broken television lead to them spending extra time together, she’s delighted to realise that revenge might be the best thing that’s happened to their relationship.

And if her clever acts of sabotage prove to be a popular subject for her blog, what harm can that do? It’s not as if he’ll ever find out . . .

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Review:

Anna Bell is an author who has been on my tbr list for a very, very long time.
Ever since I found out about her book The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart and heard so many amazing things about her work, I wanted to give her a chance.
After putting it off for the longest time, I was lucky enough and got a chance to read her newest novel, The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even.

I am so glad I read this funny novel with the longest title ever, because I fell in love with Bell’s writing style, and with the positive atmosphere she created, that was present through the whole story.

This book follows the story of Lexi, a 29 old woman who’s boyfriend (Will) is obsessed with sports.
Dating him and watching all the games is not always easy for Lexi, but she found her way to deal with that (like reading books on her e-reader when her boyfriend watches a game she is not interested in), but when Will fakes stomach flu so he wouldn’t go to Lexi’s best friend’s wedding, and goes to the game instead, Lexi decides it is time for her to get even.

First of all, let me just say that egocentric in me enjoyed reading this book and my approach to this story is 100% subjective.
You see, I could relate to Lexi so much, because her Will reminded me of my boyfriend. I mean it, they are so alike, it’s like the author based Will’s character on him.
Even their whole relationship situation was almost the same as ours, and when I was talking to my man about this book, he was sure I was making it up, just to entertain him.
“No”, I said “but Anna Bell wrote the story I should have written (because sometimes I like to think I was destined to write a good book one day), because it’s like reading my life on those pages. I KNOW what she’s talking about, to the core!”

The writing style was really, really good!
The story itself was great, but the way the author told us the story is even better. It reminded me of Sophie Kinsella’s style in a way.

I laughed so many times while reading, was entertained the whole time.

I was also curious (and because of subjective reason a bit worried how the story’s going to conclude) because, even though to some readers this story was predictable, I really had no idea in which direction it was going.

The things I think could have been better in this story are:
– I wish we got more romantic/cute scenes with Will and Lexi.
– I wish there was stronger character development. We said goodbye to the same Lexi and Will we met at the very beginning of the story.
– I don’t think Will’s reason to miss the wedding was strong enough.

I am so glad I read The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even, and I am looking forward to read more of Bell’s work.

If you’re a chick lit lover, this book is the one you don’t want to miss.

4,5

Book Review: The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas by Carole Matthews

chocolate-lovers-christmas

Title: The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas
Series: Chocolate Lovers’ Club (#3)
Author: Carole Matthews
Publisher: Sphere
Date: October 22nd, 2015
Pages: 496
Format: Paperback
Source: purchased

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Christmas is just around the corner but the women of The Chocolate Lovers’ Club have more to worry about than present shopping . . .

Lucy loves running Chocolate Heaven but she hasn’t spent time with her boyfriend, Aiden, in weeks. And then her ex-fiance turns up and things become even more complicated.

Nadia hasn’t let herself get close to a man in a long time, yet she can’t help feeling drawn to Jacob. Will he be her last chance for a happy ending?

Chantal and her husband, Ted, are besotted with their baby daughter Lana – but she’s not sure that’s enough to base a marriage on.

Autumn is dealing with a tragedy that has hit too close to home. But when she doesn’t get the support she needs from her fiance, will she look elsewhere for comfort?

Can friendship overcome all in . . . The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas.

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Review:

If you’re into chick lit, you’re probably familiar with an author Carole Matthews.
She’s one of the most known writers of women’s fiction, with (I think) 30 novels written.
Also, her stories always come within the most adorable covers, so it’s hard not to pay attention to her work.

Being devoted reader of women’s fiction, I wanted to read her work for the longest time.
After few years of putting it off, I decided it was about time to finally grab one of those gorgeous paperbacks and start reading (plus TBD bargain section helped me to decide which one to choose).

The Chocolate Lovers’ Club is the third book in the series but it can be read as standalone.
However, if you want to read this book, I encourage you to read previous books first.
The reason why is because so many things happened in the first two books and, although an author mentioned them through the story and tried her best to keep new readers on track, I think that if I’d read the series in order, I would understand the characters better.

The story follows four women who are best friends whose love for chocolate connected them.
As the author herself said it in her letter to readers at the end of the book, the reason why she wrote this series is to show how women can be there for each other without judging one another.

I understand where she was coming from and I can say she solidly succeeded in her goal, but yet these women were so much different from where I come from, that even though I tried to go with an open mind into this story, at times it was really hard for me to understand them.
There is no girl code (one woman was one’s guy mistress and now her friend is dating him), with questionable morals (cheating and not knowing who your baby’s father is) and easy to fogive approach (becoming fast friend with your husband’s ex mistress who has his child (who’s by the way the same age as yours)).
If you’re a type of reader who avoids all of the above in their books, maybe this book is not for you.

The writing style is really, really good. I’d say it is the best part of this piece. Carole Matthews uses her words in a way that makes you fly through the story. That only is enough reason for me to want to read more of her work.

However, I wasn’t the biggest fan of how this book was concepted.
It follows four POVs, one of them (Lucy’s) written in first person and others all written in third person.
To be honest, I still don’t understand why Matthews chose to write her book that way.
For a really short period it gave me that Sex and the City vibe, in which Carrie tells the story, but then I realized that in those chapters that were written in third person when Lucy was mentioned, she was being Lucy, and not the person who tells the story, so that’s what confused me.

And while we’re talking about Sex and the City, I can say The Chocolate Lover’s Christmas is like a lighter version of it, only set in London and without parties.
Even some scenes reminded me of ones from that show. They would be amazing, if only they were original.

Overall, The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas is a quick read perfect to put you into the festive mood, but if you don’t like not-so-smart protagonists nor promiscuity, you probably won’t like this novel either.

3

Book Review: Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

miracle-on-5th

Title: Miracle on 5th Avenue
Series: From Manthattan with Love (#3)
Author: Sarah Morgan
Publisher: Harlequin
Date: November 29th, 2016
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): It will take a Christmas miracle for two very different souls to find each other in this perfectly festive fairy tale of New York!

Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. She might be spending the holidays alone this year, but when she’s given an opportunity to house-sit a spectacular penthouse on Fifth Avenue, she leaps at the chance. What better place to celebrate than in snow-kissed Manhattan? What she didn’t expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous—and mysterious—owner.

Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife’s death looming, he’s isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. He wants no interruptions, no decorations and he certainly doesn’t appreciate being distracted by his beautiful, bubbly new housekeeper. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…This Christmas, is Lucas finally ready to trust that happily-ever-afters do exist?

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Review:

If you know me or follow my reviews for a while, you probably know, as all the birds on branches do too, that festive stories are my favorite ones.
There’s just something magical about stories that talk about love during Christmas season.

Yet, for an avid reader (as I like to call myself) who’s in love with Christmas stories (especially festive chick lits), it is unforgivable not to read a queen of Christmas chick-lit: Sarah Morgan.
But here I am, writing my first ever review for one of her books (but it definitely won’t be the last, I assure you that!).

My very good friend Ananda from This Chick Reads told me I should try Sarah Morgan, because she is her favorite author, and since we have the similar taste in books, she knew I would like her writing.
As soon as I started reading Miracle on 5th Avenue, I understood why Ananda loves Morgan so much.

The writing style is astonishing and compelling that it easily makes the reader lose the sense of time.
Mark my words!
What will seem like just 20 minutes or reading will probably be 1 hour, because the story is so entertaining, you will not be able to let it go.

Everytime I picked up the book, I had a hard time to part my ways with it (but I had to because, you know, real life and stuff…).

The story follows Eva, a hopeless romantic who always looks at the bright side of life.
When she gets an opportunity to house-sit an apartment of a criminal writer, she can’t pass it.
Only the thing is, Lucas isn’t away from his home as she was told he would be, and we find it out in a pretty interesting and slightly humorous way.

Eva and Lucas couldn’t be more opposite, but yet, they are so right for each other.
In Miracle of 5th Avenue, we get to witness how attraction turns into love slowly but surely.

Incredible descriptions of New York during Christmas Time, loveable side characters you will probably fall in love with, and fairy tale vibes this story will give you are what highlights Miracle on 5th Avenue from other festive pieces of work.

I am so thankful I had an opportunity to read this book, and I am so grateful that Ananda recommended this author to me, because now I want more. I want to read as many books by Sarah Morgan as I can (read: all of them!!).

5

Book Review: One Christmas in Paris by Mandy Baggot

one-christmas-in-paris

Title: One Christmas in Paris
Author: Mandy Baggot
Publisher: Bookouture
Date: October 7th, 2016
Pages: 394
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): They say Paris is the City of Love, so bring your je ne sais quoiand don’t forget the mistletoe!

Ava and her best friend Debs arrive in Paris just as the snow starts to fall. The Eiffel Tower glitters gold and the scent of spiced wine is all around, but all Ava can think about is Leo, her no-good, cheating ex.

Debs is on a mission to make Ava smile again, and as they tour the Christmas markets, watch lamplight glittering on the river Seine, and eat their body weight in pain-au-chocolat, Ava remembers there’s more to life than men … Until they cross paths with handsome, mysterious photographer Julien with his French accent and hazelnut eyes that seem to see right inside her.

Ava can’t ignore the intense chemistry between them, but her fingers have been burned before and she can’t forget it, especially when her ex, Leo, starts texting again. Can Ava really trust Julien – and what exactly is his secret?

Will Ava go home with a broken heart, or will she find true love amongst the cobbled streets of Paris?

Join Ava and Julien in the most romantic city in the world this Christmas, as they discover the importance of being true to themselves, and learn how to follow their hearts.

vrpca

Review:

When it comes to books, there’s nothing I like more then to read them on cold days, with a cup of chocolate coffee in my hand, while the Chirstmas (or Disney piano) music is playing.
And you know what kind of books I love to read the most?
Festive reads! They are my favorite, and I could read them all year long.

Now when the Christmas is officially approaching, Christmas books have overtaken my reading schedule.
I have already read more then few books that take part during winter, but One Christmas In Paris is the best festive read I had this year so far.

The story follows a woman called Ava. Her life has not been easy lately. She broke up with her boyfriend, lost her job and fights with her mom who’s dream is for Ava to be a supermodel.
When her best friend Debs invites her to spend Christmas in Paris with her, Ava accepts and they start their wintery adventure.

The story is written in third person and it follows Ava’s perspective, but it also follows Julien, the guy who Ava meets in Paris.

The writing style is really good. At first it took some time for me to get used to it, but after 50 first pages, I was totally invested in the story.

I feel like I have to mention that at the very beginning I found myself resented by some things that characters said.
At one point, there was an argument in which I felt like Ava was shaming rich people for being rich, but the rich guy responded by shaming Ava’s look with sentence (this in not a quote but I’ll do my best to write it as I remember) „By your hair I can tell you are probably interestied in girls.“, but he said it in a mean way, and I thought to myself „What is this, LGBT shaming?“
As it turned out, Ava actually wanted to look like that, but I was a bit put off with those comments.
I have to stress out it was mentioned only that one time, so I decided not to hold on to it.

The story was good, but the setting in amazing.
I love how Paris was present the whole time. By reading the story, the reader explores the city of lights along with characters and there’s no way to forget where the story is taking place.

I happened to be in Paris during Christmas vacation few years ago, so I had no problem imagining streets of that wonderful city during winter, as I saw it mayself and, in my opinion, Mandy Baggot did an astonishing job describing it.

If you’re looking for a festive read that not only will entertain you, but will also show you Paris during winter time, and will make you crave for french food, One Paris In Christmas is a perfect book for you.

4