An amazing book filled with sunshine: My Lemon Grove Summer by Jo Thomas #SummerRead #Sicily #BookReview

My Lemon Grove Summer by Jo Thomas book cover

GIFTED / With sunny weather active days and days without any break, I thought it was the perfect time to tell you all about new release by my favourite author Jo Thomas. My Lemon Grove Summer was published by Headline Review on July 11th and the paperback version has 352 pages. I want to say thank you to Anna Pallai for sending me a copy of this book.

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About the book:

FROM GOODREADS / Could the lemon groves of Sicily be the perfect place to start over? The irresistible new novel from Jo Thomas, the author of Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard, will transport you to the island of mountains and sparkling blue seas.

When life hands you lemons … is it ever too late for a second chance?

Zelda’s impulsive nature has got her precisely nowhere up until now. A fresh start in a beautiful hilltop town in Sicily looking for new residents, together with her best friend Lennie, could be just what she needs. And who better to settle down with than the person who knows her best?

But the sun-filled skies and sparkling seas can’t hide the shadow hanging over Citta d’Ora, which means not everyone is pleased to see their arrival. The dreams Zelda and her fellow new residents had of setting up a new life might be slipping away. But a friendship with restauranteur Luca could be about to unlock the possibilities that lie in the local lemon groves. And there’s a wedding on the horizon that might be just what the town needs to turn it around…

Could a summer in Sicily help Zelda learn to trust her instinct and follow her heart?

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Review:

Every time I finish one of Jo Thomas‘ books I am thankful to know about her and her work.
I mean it. I am so thankful that I have stumbled across one of her books last year (Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard), because I know my life would be emptier without her stories.
I loved every single book by her (so far) and if you still haven’t read one of her novels, I highly suggest you to do yourself a favour and purchase (or borrow) something by her because trust me, you will be glad.

My Lemon Grove Summer is typical Thomas’ novel set in a beautiful place , filled with sunshine, tasty food and unforgettable people.

Now when I read almost all of her books, I can see why some people would say Jo Thomas’ stories seem to follow the similar formula, but I don’t mind it at all, because, as I already stated, I loved every single one of her books, and the feeling of familiarity makes me feel comfortable. I always get that positive feeling after finishing her stories, and My Lemon Grove Summer was no exception.

I really liked Zelda, our main character. She was really interesting to read about, and I admire her courage and persistence.
I liked how all the characters were in their late thirties or older, with mature perspective on life but at the same time they were fun and amusing.
I would like to read about them again, so I am hoping that My Lemon Grove Summer will get a sequel.

The setting was amazing, and it was the best part of the story (because the story centers around it). Beautiful Sicily, even in it’s neglected state still sounds so appealing and I would love to go there. I loved small town atmosphere and how bizarre but yet believable mental state of the residents was.
It reminded me of the state people who run my home town have and to be honest, it made me angry at some points. I hope one day they will also see the sense just like characters from this little novel have, but until then I can only hope (but that’s the whole another theme).

The story is written in first person, it follows Zelda’s POV, and it reads pretty quickly.

If you’re looking for a novel to relax with on a sunny day, My Lemon Grove Summer is the one! More then one smile while reading is guaranteed!

5 hearts rating

10 backlists to read this Spring (2019) #SpringCleaning #Spring #BookLovers #BookBloggers

The Spring is here, and you know what that means?
Spring cleaning!

In other words, it is time for me to clear my tbr and read some books that have been there for some time now.
All of these titles will be read and reviewed here on Book Dust Magic, so this list will also give you a sight of what you can expect in the next three months (but don’t worry, there will be plenty of other titles reviewed too).

Without further ado, here is my…

Spring 2019 back titles reading list:

Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas

Late Summer in the Vineyard Jo Thomas book cover

Jo Thomas is my favorite author at the moment, so I want to read all of her books this Spring. Originally I wanted to read them before 2018 was over (I have three of her books on my unread shelf) but I decided to wait until spring, since her books are filled with sunshine and happiness. Late Summer in the Vineyard was published in 2016.

One Thousand Stars and You by Isabelle Broom

One Thousand Stars and You Isabelle Broom book cover

Isabelle Broom is also one of my favourite authors, and I am also behind with her titles. One Thousand Stars and You takes place in Sri Lanka, and I can’t wait to read Broom’s descriptions of that magical place, she is well known about her ability to take readers on trip with her characters. One Thousand Stars and You was published in 2018.

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley book cover

I have this book on my bookshelf for a while now. As you probably already know, I was in a huge blogging slump that lasted from Spring 2017 to Summer 2018, and this book was victim along with some other titles.
This Spring I plan to make it all up, take this novel on a journey with me, and I will tell you all about it in my special blog post. The Little Teashop of Lost and Found was published in 2017.

Orange Blossom Days by Patricia Scanlan

Orange Blossom Days Patricia Scanlan book cover hardback

This is another victim that suffered because of my blogging slump. Orange Blossom Days screams with sunshine, summer and sea, and I am finally ready to dive myself into this story.
I can’t wait to spread the love with all of you after I finish this story. This book was published in 2017.

I heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk

I heart Forever Lindsey Kelk book cover

This wouldn’t be a proper reading list if it didn’t feature one of Lindsey Kelk’s titles, right? I mean, every time I make a list of books to read, there’s always at least one of books written by her. Even though she one of my favorite authors, I am always behind… And it’s kind of embarrassing that I still haven’t read I heart Forever, since this is my all time favorite chick lit series… Well, now when I heart Hawaii is coming out, I am ready to read Forever, and because I have two copies of this book, there will also be a giveaway, so make sure to keep up with Book Dust Magic!
I heart Forever was published in 2017.

Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore

Last Letter Home sounds like a perfect book to read when I’ll be visiting my parents in my child home (surrounded by my cats). I love it when stories take place in two different times that together make one whole.
I plan to read this novel pretty soon, and tell you all about it. It was published in 2018.

Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

In case you didn’t know, Kasie West is my favourite ya author. I love how her books always bright up my mood, and I could read and reread the over and over and over.
However, I am still behind with some of her titles, so I plan to catch up with all of them (there’s only three on my list of her unread books). Out of all of her titles on my tbr list, Listen to Your Heard appeals to me the most. It was published in 2018.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Elantris Brandon Sanderson book cover UK edition

It’s been awhile since I finished Sanderson’s Mistborn series, and in all honesty, I am craving some good adult fantasy. My friend who recommended me Mistborn in the first place borrowed me his copy of Elantris, and I’ll be reading it very, very soon. I was sure this was a standalone, but Goodreads says it’s the first in the series, so now I’m confused. Whatever it is, I am ready to figure out. Elantris was published in 2011.


Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer Laini Taylor book cover UK edition

This series is on so many bloggers’ favourite lists, and I am ready to feature it on my list too! As I already stated, I crave for a good fantasy, and as I’ve been told, this book is beautifully written. There’s nothing I like more then a book with beautiful sentences to underline and quote. Strange the Dreamer was first published in 2017.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Nevermoor The Trials of Morrigan Crow Jessica Townsend book cover UK edition

Have you ever felt like a book was calling you? I know it sounds strange, but for the last few months, I feel like Nevermoor is calling me, and I am finally ready to pick it up and see why do I have that strong feeling that this books features something I need in my life.
I don’t read middle grade often, but every time I do, I fall in love with the genre, and promise myself I will read it more often. This is the only book on this list that I haven’t purchased yet, but I will buy it very soon.
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow was published in 2018.

That is it!
What books do you plan to read this Spring?
Tell me all about it in comments.¬†ūüôā

Best books I read in 2018 #BookBloggers #BookLovers #reading #BestOf2018

2018 was a good year for me reading wise. I managed to read 75 books which I’m pretty satisfied with.
When I look back at all the books I read, there are some I rated 5 stars that I don’t remember much about, but there are also some I rated 3 stars that left a huge impact on me.

I was thinking about doing my Top 10 books I read in 2018 list, but in the end I decided to go with 13 that now seem like the most important ones I read. I just couldn’t force myself to leave behind any of those books.

Not all of them were 5 stars, but they all left a big impression on me, and I am very thankful that I had a chance to read all of them.

 

1. The Olive Branch by Jo Thomas

This year I was fortunate enough to discover Jo Thomas, and out of all of her books I read, The Olive Branch was my favorite.
This book was perfect in any way, and it made me happy. It was well structured, with good story, great characters and so many positive vibes.
A chick lit novel at it’s best!

 

2. One Day in December by Josie Silver

You know a story is good when it makes you feel all kinds of emotions and you think about it again and again, even days after you finished it.
This is the book I finished two months ago, so it is the “freshest” in my memory, but I feel like it will stay with me for a long, long time.
If I could recommend only one festive book to my followers, it would be this one.

3. Darcy Burdock by Laura Dockrill

This middle grade comedy made me laugh out loud so many times that I lost the count. It won my heart and it is now one of my all time favorite books. It’s the one I recommended the most when it comes to middle grades, and I am so happy to know that there are so many sequels with Darcy to enjoy.

4. Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

Good Me, Bad Me surprised me, because I never expected to like it that much. What I liked the most when it comes to this novel is it’s writing style. I wish more psychological thrillers were written in a similar way.

5. While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins

If I should pick only one book that put me on an emotional rollercoaster, While I Was Sleeping is the one. It made me sad in ways I didn’t even know was possible, and it made me care about one character like I knew her from my real life.
Even though I was mad the story didn’t took a path I was hoping for, I am still so in love with this novel because I remember the feels, and it is the book I will be coming back to.

6. Five Years from Now by Paige Toon

Speaking of emotional stories, this list wouldn’t be complete without Five Years from Now. It made me cry, and not many books can do that.
It contains my favorite theme: two people who love each other but can’t be together, finding their ways to each other.
It is also very realistic, especially with the way it ended.
This novel is also one I want to re-read many times during my lifetime.

7. The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

The Perfect Girlfriend is definitely the most unique story I have read in 2018. Written from the perspective of a psychopath, it made me understand and even root for the main character, even though I knew what she was doing was wrong.
This book is the one I recommend to everyone who likes thrillers, and I am so happy that it was also translated into Croatian.

8. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Going into The Cruel Prince my expectations were very high, but I was not disappointed. In fact, I was kinda surprised how good it was. I already knew I would like it, because I liked books by Holly Black before, and since my favorite creatures, faeries, were involved, I knew I would love the world too.
I fell in love with the characters, the story and of course, with the world.
This book is next on my to be re-read list, because the sequel comes out in a few days.

9. Give the Dark my Love by Beth Revis

Another ya fantasy I fell in love with, another series I can’t wait to continue. What I liked the most about Give the Dark my Love was character development, the dark atmosphere and the unique world.
I hope next books in the series will also be good, because there’s a big chance this could become one of my all-time favorite book series.

10. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

I feel like everyone and their mothers read this book already, and in 2018 I joined the club. Everyone from my colleagues also read it, and we discussed it many times. This book stayed with me, and even today I caught myself thinking about one scene.
I feel like books that you go back to again and again in your thoughts deserve to be on the best one’s list.
I can’t even count how many times I recommended this book to people around me, and to clients at my work.

11. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

Of all the Mistborn books I read this year, I decided to feature the last one from the original series in this list, because of it’s conclusion.
This series is probably the best fantasy series I have read, it is certainly the most unique and Brandon Sanderson is an incredible writer. I love the creatures he created in this universe, called kendra. I am not sure if kendra is his own creation, or was it inspired by some mythical creature, but it is worth of admiration in any way.

12. Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Surprise Me was one of my most anticipated books of 2018. and it didn’t disappoint. In fact, it even surprised me, because it took a turn I didn’t expect. I liked how different it was from Kinsella’s other books, and it is now in my top 3 of her novels.

13. I See You by Clare Mackintosh

I read this novel back in January, but it stayed with me the whole time. I certainly didn’t expect what a huge impact on me this book will have, not even after I finished it. Sometimes we are not immediately aware of the quality in front of us, but time shows us what our subconsciousness recognized. This book is the proof, and it is now one of the best books I read.

 

That is it!

Please tell me what are your favorite books that you’ve read this year?
Also, if you have similar post to this one, feel free to leave your links.

Book Review: A Winter Beneath the Stars by Jo Thomas #BookReview #WomensFiction #BookLovers #Winter #Sweden #AWinterBeneathTheStars

Title: A Winter Beneath the Stars
Author: Jo Thomas
Publisher: Headline Review
Date: November 29th, 2018
Pages: 368
Format: Physical ARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 

Escape to snowy Sweden in the gorgeous new novel from the author of Late Summer in the Vineyard and Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard. Fans of Jill Mansell and Milly Johnson will love this unforgettable winter story from Jo Thomas. 

Halley has been running from her problems for years.

On a courier trip to Tallfors, deep in Swedish Lapland, everything is going to plan. Halley has her bag, with two precious wedding rings inside for delivery… until she doesn’t.

The only way to save the wedding is to team up with mysterious reindeer herder Bjorn, the one person who can lead her across the snowy tundra to be reunited with her bag.

On a journey of a lifetime beneath the stars, with only the reindeer and a bad-tempered stranger for company beside the fire, Halley realises that she will need to confront her past heartaches in order to let the warmth of love in once more…

Review:

If you follow me for a while, you know that year 2018 will be remembered in my reading life as a year I discovered Jo Thomas.¬† So far I read three of her books and loved them all. Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard made me fall in love with Thomas’ writing and made me want to read everything she wrote, while The Olive Branch won my heart completely and is now one of my all time favorite books.

I can’t even tell you how happy I was when I got A Winter Beneath the Stars unsolicited in my mailbox (thanks to wonderful Becky Hunter). I read it immediately because I didn’t want to wait, but I’m writing my review 1,5 months after finishing the book, so please forgive me if it’s not the best one.
The most important thing is that I really, really liked (loved it actually) it and that if you love funny chick lit stories, you will too.

The story follows Halley who has a job to deliver important wedding rings in Sweden. Things get complicated when her bag is switched in the airport, and now she has to find a guy who’s bag she got with hope that the rings are still in the bag and that her job will be successfully completed.

When I say I really, really liked the book, I mean that I loved it, but I wasn’t in love with it. I appreciate the story and it is obvious that the author put so much effort into researching.
However, I feel like I have never clicked with our main character Halley on the level that I’d like, nor did I like our male character Bjorn. Somehow he was dislikeable.

Other than that, Winter Beneath the Stars was really fun to read. I liked getting to know Swedish Lapland and the (few) people who live in that side of the world, as I have never been there nor do I know anyone from there.

Some parts were filled with so much snow and the only thing that was happening was our main characters talking or thinking something to themselves, while sleigh riding and coordinating dogs.
So if I’m being honest, at some point I lose my orientation and forgot for how long we were riding with our characters.

There were two twists or surprises in the story, but I figured them out before they were revealed. I can’t tell you if the reason for that is because the plot was predictable or maybe I would write the story the same way if I was a writer.
Whatever it is, I just want to stress out that I didn’t mind the predictability.

The story is written in first person, from Halley’s POV, but it also has some (small) parts written in third person.

A Winter Beneath the Stars is Jo Thomas’ first winter novel but I hope it won’t be the last, because it brightened my mood when I was reading it, and I am really looking forward to read her other work.
I feel like this author is the one I’ll always like to come back to.

If you’re looking for a light and fun novel to read during winter, look no further: A Winter Beneath the Stars is the one for you!

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.

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.