#authorinterview: The Summer of Hopes and Dreams by Lynsey James

Happy Friday everyone. How are we all doing? Hopefully, not too cold I hope! The UK is currently experiencing the #BeastFromTheEast, so there’s lots of snow and we’re all freezing cold(!). One positive is that it’s the perfect weather for staying in and reading. 🙂

Today at A Book and Tea, I’m joined by the lovely Lynsey James, author of The Summer of Hopes and Dreams. You may also be familiar with her other books The Broken Hearts Book Club and Just the Way You Are. If you’re not, get downloading now!

So, let’s get to it…

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams is your latest release, although I’m going to post a fabulous book review later, can you give us a brief synopsis?

Lynsey: Sure! The Summer of Hopes and Dreams is all about Cleo, who’s lost her way a little bit in life. She’s been dealt a bad hand and hasn’t had it easy in life. But finding her teenage bucket list changes everything! She starts embracing life again and even meets a hunky personal trainer named after an iconic Neighbours character.

Cleo Jones has parts of her life and personality that we can all relate to. This is something I love in a character – was this your intention or just something that naturally came about?

Lynsey: A bit of both really – I wanted Cleo to be really relatable as a character, and for people to see elements of themselves in her. At the same time though, her personality was just so strong in my head as I was writing. I knew exactly the kind of person I wanted her to be, and so did she!

There’s a serious topic of weight loss and eating disorders, they were written perfectly within the novel, did you find this difficult to write?

Lynsey: I did because elements of it were quite personal. Like Cleo, I’ve experienced body dysmorphia and have had my own journey with it in the last couple of years. I wanted to make sure I portrayed the themes in the book sensitively without seeming like I was skating over them. There were a couple of scenes that took some time to write because I really wanted to nail the emotional impact. That sometimes meant delving quite deeply into my own experiences, which wasn’t always easy. I’m happy with how they came out though.

Cleo’s dream is to become a dance teacher. What are your hopes and dreams for 2018? Unless you’ve completed some already!

Lynsey: Ooh good question! The main one is to keep writing, which I’m working on right now. I’ve always got about a million ideas in my head anyway! Other than that, I’m trying to be a bit more active and healthier, which is going pretty well so far. I can’t say no to cake though.

What exciting books can we expect from you in the future?

Lynsey: I’m working on an idea right now that I absolutely LOVE. I can’t say too much about it because it’s really early days on it, but it may be my favourite book yet. Watch this space for more news…

And lastly, everyone who visits A Book and Tea gets asked this question, how do you take your tea?

Lynsey: Milk and two sugars, please!

About Lynsey James

Lynsey James Author Photo

Lynsey was born in Fife and is an incurable bookworm. A careers adviser at school once told her writing wasn’t a “good option”, so Lynsey has tried a little bit of everything, including makeup artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company. Now, she finally has fulfilled her dream and is writing full-time. When not writing, eating cake or drinking tea, she’s daydreaming about the day Matthew Gray Gubler finally realises they’re meant to be together. It’ll happen one day. Follow her on Twitter at @Lynsey1991

About the book

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams cover

Format: E-book
Publisher: HQ Digital
Published: 11th September 2017
Pages: 384 Pages
Genres: Chick Lit, Romance, Disorders

The Blurb

It’s been a difficult year for Cleo Jones. The car accident that crushed her leg didn’t just destroy the village baker’s dreams of becoming a dancer but crushed her confidence too. And recovering from that has been harder than healing from any number of broken bones…

But this season is going to be different. Life is turning around for Cleo! Maybe it’s the invitation from her childhood bully to their high-school reunion that’s shocked her out of a ten-year slump. Or joining Carb Counters and finally starting to shed the weight she’d piled on during her recovery – or maybe it’s catching the eye of her gorgeous personal trainer!

Whatever the answer, this is going to be a feeling she never forgets… watch out world, Cleo Jones is finally fighting back!

Purchase the book: Amazon UK

The Review

Cleo is a girl that we can all relate to. She’s changing her ways and everyone can see her smile fill her face. It’s no secret that she’s having to deal with a few personal issues that seem to rear their ugly head. However, the warm arms of a stranger bring her joy. I loved Cleo, well, who wouldn’t? She’s the type of girl you want to be friends with (she bakes!).

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams is a story about new beginnings and learning to love yourself – let’s spread the word.


#bookreview The Gender Games by @junodawson

Format: E-book (Kindle)
Published: 1st June 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 368 Pages

The Blurb
Why we are all being messed up by gender, and what we can do about it.

‘It’s a boy!’ or ‘It’s a girl!’ are the first words almost all of us hear when we enter the world. Before our names, before we have likes and dislikes – before we, or anyone else, has any idea who we are. And two years ago, as Juno Dawson went to tell her mother she was (and actually, always had been) a woman, she started to realise just how wrong we’ve been getting it.

Gender isn’t just screwing over trans people, it’s messing with everyone. From little girls who think they can’t be doctors to teenagers who come to expect street harassment. From exclusionist feminists to ‘alt-right’ young men. From men who can’t cry to the women who think they shouldn’t. As her body gets in line with her mind, Juno tells not only her own story but the story of everyone who is shaped by society’s expectations of gender – and what we can do about it.

Featuring insights from well-known gender, feminist and trans activists including Rebecca Root, Laura Bates, Gemma Cairney, Anthony Anaxagorou, Hannah Witton, Alaska Thunderfuck and many more, The Gender Games is a frank, witty and powerful manifesto for a world where what’s in your head is more important than what’s between your legs.

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book Depository

The Review

Well, ain’t this book a big ‘f##k you’ to all those gender stereotypes.

I thought The Gender Games would primarily be about Juno’s transition and although it largely is, it’s also a story that shows you the trials and tribulations of gender as a whole.

Have you ever been treated differently based on your gender? I know I have! The amount of times in my professional life where I’ve not been listened to because I’m a woman is scary. I’d say one thing and it would be “no, no”, yet a male colleague would say the same and their response is usually ‘oh yes, here have some praise’. It loosely happens now in all areas of my life, not just work and it’s bloody annoying. If I’m wrong or don’t know something I admit to this fact, I’m not one to make stuff up so you can imagine it’s frustrating!

Can’t you tell I’m passionate about this subject? Anyway, let’s take it back to Juno. You learn about her life pre-transition and her journey from male to female. It’s an honest and true account of her life with all the funny moments thrown in too. It’s lovely to read. To me, Juno is a strong, beautiful woman who deserves all the happiness.

I’m a firm believer in the whole, who cares who you are, who you love or what you do as long as you’re happy. If (a massive if) I have children all I’d ever want for them is to be happy. I’d support them and love them. People are very quick to judge and put others down and sadly, the amount of comments I’ve seen about transgender is shocking. What gives them the right to be so mean? Nothing! If you’ve got nothing nice to say then don’t say it!

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#bookreview: Rivers of London by @Ben_Aaronovitch ‏

Format: E-book (Kindle)
Published: 10th January 2011
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 392 Pages
Series: Peter Grant #1

The Blurb
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny.

Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book Depository

The Review

As always, I’m late on the bandwagon when it comes to reading certain popular book series. Friends and family had recommended the PC Peter Grant series previously, due to its fantasy and magical elements, so I thought I’d give it ago. Everyone loves something that’s different from the ordinary, don’t they? I know I do. Let’s just say I’ve been reading quite a lot of romance and chick-lit lately, so needed something new.

Peter Grant is not your typical London Police Officer. He’s a newbie on the beat but has some qualities that senior Mr Nightingale needs in his division. Armed with his silver-topped cane and experience and knowledge, Nightingale takes PC Grant under his wing for a life of crime-solving.

I know I say this quite often, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed Rivers of London an awful lot. It incorporated things that I want from a book: London history (I’m a big fan), magic and fantasy, plus, crime elements too.

The main case that Peter and Mr Nightingale have to investigate is that of Henry Pyke. Henry is out to seek destruction doesn’t care who he manipulates. The Punch and Judy puppet show is how Henry goes about causing a distraction. Punch and Judy is a traditional British play that children usually watch when they visit the seaside. Personally, I’m not sure why this is, but it’s very popular! Even though the play is for children, it’s not the nicest story. (insert Punch and Judy story here).

I found the writing incredibly clever because the story easily combined real-life policing with acts of fantasy. It sounds really silly when I say this, but sometimes when authors write fantasy it doesn’t sound plausible (I know it’s not real) and then I don’t end up enjoying the story. However, Rivers of London worked well. You believed that the things happening in modern-day London could actually happen and that was what made it a good book for me!

So, it’s safe to say that I need to start reading the next. Give me more!

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#bookreview: Dating You / Hating You by @ChristinaLauren

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Piatkus Books
Published: 18th January 2018
Pages: 368 Pages
Genre: Contemporary, Romance; Chick Lit.

The Blurb
Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human?

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book Depository

The Review

When I added Dating You / Hating You onto Goodreads, I noticed that Christina Lauren the author was listed as two different people. Given that I’ve just spent quite a lot of time reading the book, not once did I realise that it was written by two authors. I mean they may not have written separately, but either way, I did not notice.

I’ll start by saying that I don’t like the whole ‘hate one minute and love the next’ “thing” they had going on. Surely if you don’t like someone, you wouldn’t contemplate having sexual relations with them? Plus, in the beginning, they were getting on ok whilst dressed as Harry Potter characters!

Anyway, enough of that! Dating You / Hating You was steamy, fun and a book that I would highly recommend if you want to feel hot under the collar.

Evie and Carter have a relationship that we all probably want in our lives: powerful, exciting and a little bit of playing games.

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A Book and Tea’s (belated) 2018 goals

Notepad on Desk

Well, aren’t I late on the whole ‘New Year, New Me’ posting? It’s now 11th January and I’m only just posting my goals for 2018. It’s better late than never, I suppose!

Reflecting on 2017…

Let’s just say that 2017 started off absolutely terrible. It’s no secret that I had to take anti-depressants and go to counselling. But, do you know what? It helped me immensely and I feel stronger for having reached rock bottom. The second-half was a different story, though. I married my best friend (cue your sick buckets), got fitter (ran a 10k) and ditched the bad things in my life (new job, etc).

Now, I honestly feel better placed to jump into 2018 and grab it by the metaphorical balls. Admittedly, I still have bad days, but don’t we all? If you ever need to talk to someone, I’m always here. Pop over an email and we can have a chat if you need it! 🙂

My goals for 2018 seem incredibly easy to achieve and that’s just what I wanted. There’s no unnecessary pressure on myself and I can continue to enjoy my favourite hobby, reading and lots of it.

Goals for 2018

1. Read 50 books
Last year, I read 40 books in the 2017 reading challenge. Naturally, I was a little disappointed with this, yet the 40 books I did read were bloody amazing, so I’m certainly not going to complain. My favourite books were (click image for review):

East of Hounslow Book Cover Sweetpea Book Cover The Breakdown Book Cover

I’ve provisionally suggested a goal of 50 books to read this year. How many have you set for yourself?

2. Devour my TBR
Let’s be honest here, we’re all a slave to the TBR list, aren’t we? Usually, we don’t even get to look at it and it just secretly grows in our spare bedrooms.

At the moment, I very rarely read books that I’ve purchased myself or been given as gifts and I’d like to change this. I am so grateful to authors and publishers for sending me review copies, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed by it all and just want to read things that I fancy. So, that’s what I’m going to do! There’s not even going to be a process behind it, I’m gonna twirl near my bookcases and randomly choose from my selection.

3. Blog more often
Who is the worst book blogger, ever? *Raises hand*. Ok, so maybe ‘worst’ and ‘ever’ are a bit harsh. However, I definitely need to post more often and more importantly, different things! I’m a Digital Marketer by day, so I should know better. I love writing book reviews, but I also love writing new pieces of content that strikes the attention of people. I’ve got a two week trip to America, so I’ll use this time to become friends with a notebook, a pen and a mind full of ideas. Watch this space!

4. Cook more
If you follow me on Twitter, you may notice that I often post tweets about food. I do usually cook most meals from scratch with fresh ingredients, but I definitely need to cook more. I’ve decided to try one new recipe a week to keep things fresh. Expect to see lots of pictures on Twitter.

What goals have you given yourself for 2018?

#bookreview: The Arrangement by Sonya Lalli (@saskinthecity)

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Orion Books
Published: 10th August 2017
Pages: 352 Pages
Genre: Contemporary, Romance; Chick Lit.

The Blurb
You can’t choose who you fall for…but it helps if there’s a list

Raina, twenty-nine, is still unmarried much to the dismay of her family who thinks that by now she should have been married in a dream Indian wedding. The pressure to settle down reaches new heights when her grandmother, Nani, decides to play matchmaker in order to find her the perfect man.

Eager not to disappoint her family, Raina goes along with the plan but when the love of her life returns – ex-boyfriend Dev – she’s forced to confront her true feelings and decide what she really wants.

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book Depository

The Review

Raina is twenty-nine and “unlucky” in love (or so her grandmother, Nani, suggests). Raina is fine the way she is and is comfortable being a career girl. However, she’s handed a list of potential suitors to date and Raina feels obliged to give it a go for her Nani’s sake.

You’re taken on a (short) journey through Raina’s dating scene with other life situations thrown in there for good measure. Her best friend Shay is getting married, she isn’t sure her job is right for her anymore and she also tells a white lie that might just ruffle a few feathers.

Her collection of supportive family and friends definitely made The Arrangement a fun and emotional read. However, I didn’t enjoy the inclusion of the ex-boyfriend, Dev. Her besotted attitude towards him was a little annoying and I often wanted to punch him in the face.

It was refreshing to read about a female character, of a similar age to myself, that is comfortable (well to a degree) with being single and happy. Yes, I know I’m married, but it took me a long time to get here. Women shouldn’t be judged based on their marital status and more so when they’re forced to go on dates just to keep people sweet. It’s fine to want a career and do what you want when you want. Girl Power!

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