Book Review: A Season of Hopes and Dreams by Lynsey James @Lynsey1991 @HQDigitalUK @SarahManning123

Format: Advanced proof copy
Publication date: Today!
Links: Amazon UK | Goodreads
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 summer is going to be different. Life is turning around for Cleo! Maybe it’s the invitation from h 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 summer 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 summer she never forgets… watch out world, Cleo Jones is finally fighting back!

Review: It’s no secret than Lynsey and I are very good friends. Best friends, if you will. But just to clarify before I get into the review, I’m going to do my very best to review her book as I would review any other book: fair, constructively and most importantly, unbiased. I know Lynsey have a very healthy attitude towards her reviews and always takes the good from them and learns from the negatives. So with that out the way, let’s get into the review!

Lynsey’s latest book,, A Season of Hopes and Dreams follows Cleo, who has just found a bucket list she wrote when she was younger. She wanted to further her life and career as a professional dancer, move to New York and accomplish all sorts of wonderful things. But when she was involved in a car accident and badly broke her leg, her dancing career was well and truly over. This pain and frustration bubbled over into other areas of her life; including making her gain a lot of weight and develop harmful and damaging eating disorders and body dysmorphia.

However, she’s sick of being stuck in a rut and decides to make herself a new bucket list with a whole new set of dreams on it. She plans on tackling her body issues, do a skydive and possibly reboot her dancing career in some way. But enter Scott, a gym instructor who ruffles Cleo’s feathers, a old arch enemy from high school and facing her biggest fears yet: her own self esteem.

The think I liked most about the book was how relatable it was. Not in that we all used to be professional dancers but in that we all have our dreams and we certainly all have our set backs. We have our virtues and vices and that’s all covered in the book. Cleo is a very likeable character, she’s almost too nice! You really do want the best for her and want her to find her path. She too, was exceptionally relatable. I can’t speak for everyone but as someone that’s suffered with disordered eating and body dysmorphia, I can hand on heart say that Lynsey’s portrayal of it in the book from Cleo’s point of view was very accurate. Not for everyone of course as everyone’s experiences with something like that are vastly different but she got the basics spot on. The crippling self doubt, the plummeting self esteem, the looking in the mirror and hating everything you see: as sad as it is, it was portrayed perfectly but sensitively too.

I did mention to Lynsey that I think this book would benefit from a trigger warning as there are some scenes where she is bingeing and also conversations about bulimia and bingeing and purging. Despite it being portrayed well, I’d hate for someone to be affected by the topic. It was done sensitively and not it’s not graphic in the slightest but it’s a serious topic; one that you don’t think will get that deep when you start reading the book as it comes across as a very easy going and light hearted read – which it is mostly – but these topics are strongly present.

A few small negatives are firstly, I felt there were far too many exclamation marks in the dialogue and an overuse of the word ‘gorgeous‘. Of all the cafes and restaurants Cleo went to, I never knew what they were called only that they were gorgeous! And as Lynsey knows, I don’t like romance novels. This book isn’t overly romantic at all but the final third of the book was a bit sickly sweet for me but for anyone who loves romance and cute coupley stuff would love it. It’s very cutesy *pukes* ;).

I loved the relationships in the book; Cleo and her best friend Emma were great, I’d have liked to see Emma more really. And (despite not liking romance), I thought the relationship between Cleo and Scott developed at a good pace – it definitely wasn’t overdone and her feelings and the time frame I think was all pretty accurate. Amanda – the arch enemy – was the most infuriating character. We all knew someone like her in secondary school for sure. She made my blood boil at times however, I was also furious at Cleo for not standing up to herself more and even when Amanda has been vile to her, she still goes to her and asks if she’s okay. However… that might just be that I wouldn’t do anything like that. Cleo is a very kind soul with a good heart who wants nothing but good in the world and that comes across clear as day in everything she does in the book. There’s not a bad bone in her body. 

The Season of Hopes and Dreams is by no means perfect but it’s definitely a sweet, light-hearted book that takes real problems and issues very seriously. It definitely did open my eyes and make me wonder about my own hopes and dreams and consider things I would put on my own bucket list. It made me smile, almost cry and almost punch something out of infuriation. But I enjoyed it and definitely left feeling Cleo was a friend and not just a character in a book.


  1. […] Lynsey James’s new book, The Season of Hopes and Dreams (which you can find my review of here) and today I’m thrilled to also be taking part in her blog tour. This book was really fun and […]

  2. olivia says:

    this sounds like a book i would love! i’ll have to add it to my list to read

    1. Brilliant (: I hope you do! xx

  3. Love the sound of this book!! Looks right up my alley xx

    Great Post.

    Jamie |

    1. Thank you (: xx

  4. This is such a good review and this book seems really unique! I will have to give this a read!

    – Lauren xx

    1. Thank you very much (: xx

  5. This book sounds right up my street! I think you’ve done an amazing job reviewing this in an unbiased fashion, which I’m sure your friend really appreciates! I agree that it would be a good idea to have a trigger warning but fabulous to hear your friend dealt with it all so sensitively and non-graphically. I’m intrigued about the protagonist’s arch enemy, and I also would love to see how the romance pans out between Cleo and Scott!
    Fab review, can’t wait to read this and congratulations to your friend!
    Kate x

    1. Thanks so much! It is difficult reviewing books from people you’re close to; especially being in the book blogging community and you can get close to quite a few authors. But you’ve kinda gotta distance yourself from the writer and focus just on the book. Ooooh the arch enemy was AWFUL, hated her so much! Hope you enjoy it if / when you get around to reading it! It’s super cheap on Amazon ATM (: xxx

  6. What a through, indepth and honest review! I actually really like sickly sweet romance books! (Puke, I know!) I think that’s great that such an important and challenging subject is also discussed. You’ve really made me want to read this and find out more about Cleo! Great review!
    PaleGirlRambling xo

    1. Awh thanks so much! Each to their own of course, sickly sweet just isn’t for me (: xx

  7. It’s so hard reviewing and critiquing a friend’s work. Kudos to you for such an unbiased review!

    1. Thanks so much! It is difficult but I try and distance myself from who the author is (: xx

  8. themymanylovesblog says:

    oooh this sounds good, i’m always on the hunt for a new book. I’ll have to add it to my ever growing reading list! X

    1. Go for it (: its very good x

  9. This sounds like such a cool book! I haven’t been reading much lately and when I have it’s been non-fiction, but it does sound really interesting.

    A Sparkle Of Grace

    1. I don’t often read non-fiction, only autobiographies from F1 drivers. If you’re after something light hearted and easy I’d definitely recommend this (: xx

  10. this sounds like a very original story. I’ve seen this one mentioned before and was attracted by the pretty cover, but now I know what it’s about I’ll be adding it to my TBR list

    Hannah @ The Northern Writes |

    1. It’s such a pretty cover isn’t it?! They did SO well on this design. Hope you enjoy if and when you read it (: thanks for commenting! xx

  11. This sounds like such a cute book! Congrats to your friend, I’ll have to get my hands on a copy xx Great review as always xx

    1. It was (: thanks for commenting xx

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