Nailing It by Anna Jefferson / Blog Tour

Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 1st April 2021

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 468

Genre: General Fiction (Adult),  Women’s Fiction

 

Synopsis:

Faking it.
Breaking it.
Hating it.
Loving it…

This is motherhood.

Emily is raising two tiny feminists, building her freelance career and navigating life as a newly single mum – and feels like she’s failing horribly.

Tania just wants her other half to do his fair share – as long as it’s done her way. But being right isn’t nearly as much as fun as being in it together…

Helen has almost got family life sorted: a routine that suits them all, most days. Until her own mum turns up and turns calm into chaos.

Sometimes being a mum is the hardest job in the world. So can these three friends fake it till they make it?

Rating:

„Nailing It“ tells us a story of three friends: Emily, Tania and Helen, all three of them mums, and all three of them facing different problems. Emily is trying to come to terms with being a single parent, which, as it turns out, is not as easy, especially as you and your ex forget which day you’re supposed to pick the kids up from school. Tania feels like being a single parent, what with organizing everything by herself and Helen has just experienced shock of her life when her mother suddenly and unexpectedly arrived back from Spain, turning Helen’s orderly and neat world on its head. Will they all manage to stay sane and make it through? To nail it?

There are two previous books about Emily and her adventures in motherhood, nevertheless I think you don’t have to read them before. Sure, you will miss on some fun but here I’ve been thrown direct into the heart of this story, without problems, and immediately befriended myself with the characters again. They were written in such a way that, from the very first page, I had a feeling that I know them for a long time already.

The story is told from Emily’s point of view in the first person narration, and third person narration from Tania and Helen, and at the beginning it was a bit confusing, when suddenly the third person changed into the first, but I quickly got used to this. Not sure why it was done this way, as it didn’t help me feel closer to Emily. Nevertheless, she was the main person here and I fell for her immediately. She was relatable and likeable and funny and I could imagine her to be my friend, really.
I loved the friendship between Emily, Tania and Helen and I felt a part of their circle, of their struggles and troubles. The way those three support each other and can lean on each other in every situation is absolutely brilliant. Each of them had their own story to tell, interesting and not always easy, but they also wonderfully work as a team, and it was really great in this book. They met some time ago (I guess in the first book 😀 ) and their friendship is blossoming, I love to see such relationships, especially as they seem to be so true and genuine. Anna Jefferson has written it truly well, as well as the characters that jump off the pages.

I adored the sharp and realistic look at motherhood, or rather parenthood altogether, at being a single parent or sometimes feeling like a single parent. The events in this book, as well as dialogues and the characters’ reactions, are written in a way that you can so easily imagine and that feel absolutely possible to happen to all of us. It’s mostly fun, but also there are moments that you can feel the frustration and desperation of the three main heroines. The author, however, also touches upon some more heavier and serious issues, especially when it comes to Helen’s subplot – there were moments I wanted to shake her, tell her to open her eyes and to see what I’ve been seeing, but it’s probably easy to say when you’re not in the same situation – and I hope I’ll never find myself in this situation. It wasn’t written with gentleness – I think the author has showed the things like they really are, brutally honest, bringing us on our limits, and I appreciated it wholeheartedly.

It is a bitter – sweet and realistic picture of a family, with all the ups and downs. Yes, there are many books with this topic, but „Nailing It“ is one of the best in this genre , funniest and down – to – earth. Often I have a feeling that I’ve been there, I’ve seen this, the books feel like a copy of each other, but this one was like a real breath of fresh air. It’s close to life, relatable and with a human touch, not overdone, not too far – fetched and shows how it really is.
But as much as this book is funny, it’s also realistic and thoughtful, showing a real picture of different kinds of families. It’s this kind of book that you read nodding your head and rolling your eyes, understanding all of the turmoils and emotions of the characters.

If you are in need of a funny, witty, clever and also poignant story, try „Nailing It“. It’s not only for parents, I am sure you’ll find many things in this book that will resonate with you. Now I’m going to treat myself to „Winging It“, can’t wait to see the beginnings of Emily, Tania and Helen’s friendship. Highly recommended!

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After the One by Cass Lester / Blog Tour

 

Publisher: Canelo

Publishing Date: 5th April 2021

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 286

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance, Women’s Fiction

 

Synopsis:

What happens… after The One?
April 16th is always one of Charley’s worst days of the year.

It’s her husband’s birthday, a painful reminder of his death four years ago.

So naturally, her car breaks down.

She nearly gets run over trying to catch the bus.

And then she’s made redundant.

Her friends see the redundancy as a chance for her to start again and live the life she always wanted, but since being widowed Charley has clung to familiarity and avoided change like the plague. Then, out of the blue, her mother-in-law Pam pitches up in need of a place to stay after walking out on her 40-year marriage.

Together, Charley and Pam find themselves at a crossroad. It’s not easy to move on after The One, but they can’t stand still forever.

A gorgeously heartwarming and feel-good story for fans of Libby Page and Nicola Gill.

Charley’s life, after having lost her husband in an accident, has also lost this „something“. Sure, she has better days, but there are also worse days, like today for example, when her car breaks down, she nearly gets run over and is made redundant. Phew. And then her mother – in – law appears on her doorstep, just having left her husband after she’s discovered he has been cheating on her. Double phew.
But it’s also time that Charley decides what to do with her life. While all her friends see the redundancy as an opportunity to start afresh, Charley doesn’t have the courage. Will she stay in the past, grieving after Josh, or will she be brave enough to try something new?

The relationship between Charley and her mother – in – law Pam was lovely. It was true and honest and sometimes awkward, but that’s the way it is, right? Actually, now, when I think about this, I think that all kinds of relationships that the author has captured in her story, let it be friendship, marriage, mother – in – law – daughter – in – law, were much better painted and described than the characters themselves. Those bonds between the characters felt much more realistic and vivid and were brought to life, while the single characters felt flat and lifeless. I know, we are talking about grief here as well, but I can’t base the whole story on grief – it has made the tale drag, Charley seemed undecided and absolutely lost and there always comes a moment when you start to feel frustrated. Or, at least, I do.

It was a very steady read, without life – changing twists and turns. It felt slow and a bit repetitive, sometimes already monotonous and very action – reaction, when something happened it was immediately solved, without building tension. The characters were, for my liking, too much one – dimensional and I really couldn’t care what is going to happen to them. They were very steady and I missed more life in them, they felt a bit robotic and, simply, too lovely. Altogether, I have expected much more from this book – I’m not saying it was a bad one, I’m saying it was not the right read for me.

It was an easy story filled with many characters and storylines that interweave and I think the hugest message here is about bonds the characters share, about the supporting network, about being there for each other, creating new memories. It shows that it’s not easy to move on but that it’s worth to do it, even with baby steps, and that moving on doesn’t mean forgetting. There is a sense of hope in this story, that’s for sure.

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Watch Her Fall by Erin Kelly

 

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 56685708._sy475_

Publishing Date: 1st April 2021

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Psychological Thriller

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Swan Lake is divided into the black acts and the white acts. The Prince is on stage for most of the ballet, but it’s the swans audiences flock to see. In early productions, Odette and Odile were performed by two different dancers. These days, it is usual for the same dancer to play both roles. Because of the faultless ballet technique required to master the steps, and the emotional range needed to perform both the virginal Odette and the dark, seductive Odile, this challenging dual role is one of the most coveted in all ballet. Dancers would kill for the part.

Ava Kirilova has reached the very top of her profession. After years and years of hard graft, pain and sacrifice as part of the London Russian Ballet Company, allowing nothing else to distract her, she is finally the poster girl for Swan Lake. Even Mr K – her father, and the intense, terrifying director of the company – can find no fault. Ava has pushed herself ahead of countless other talented, hardworking girls, and they are all watching her now.

But there is someone who really wants to see Ava fall …

Rating: four-stars

 

Ava is 30 years old, a daughter of Nikolai Kirilov who rigorously runs the London Russian Ballet Theatre. Finally, she’s ready to take the leading role of Odette/Odile in „Swan Lake“ – she’s the theatre and her father’s prima ballerina. But she’s aware that there are other girls, younger and also talented, snapping at her heels – for example the girl that has just taken the role of „second swan“ and that Nikolai is training personally…The competition between the dancer is huge and the closer to the premiere, the more dangerous it can be – it’s so easy to give a wrong hint or manipulate the other dancer’s shoes…

Ballet is absolutely not my world, I’ve never been interested in it, well, there is no grace in me, I’m more wellies, horse shit and dog hair kind of girl, nevertheless you hear and read a lot about how it works with ballet schools and so on, so curiosity is always there. And really, the author has written about dancing and being a ballerina in such a brilliant, captivating way that I, very quickly, found myself on You Tube, watching „Swan Lake“ with open mouth, waiting for 32 fouettes. AH – MAZING. It was mesmerazing. And the author’s writing style as well.

I loved how much and to what extent the novel so very cleverly mirrors the story in the ballet, with its twists and turns that more than once took me by surprise. There were many moments that made me go „oh no, not this now!“, leaving me with my mouth open, not believing my eyes, thinking how inconvenient it again is for the characters that I fell for. Because even though they’re full of flaws, they are written in a way that made me sympathize with them on many levels. I think that the author has really, really well captured the essence of ballet and the London Russian Ballet Theatre, the whole company, bringing the impending performance so easily to life, with everything the accompanies the preparation – envy, jealousy, greed of being the one standing in the spotlight, mind games.

I have never read a book set in the ballet world before, so I was immediately sold by the idea of this story. The first act is everything I was hoping for and expecting – set in a ballet theatre, filled with rivalries, tears and paperchase, fighting for the role of the first swan. However, with the second act, the world of ballerinas actually came to an end and it was a great pity. I won’t say that the story went downhill for me from then on, but it slowed down, started to feel a bit repetitive and I missed the thrill, the ruthlessness of the ballet world – the synopsis promises us this, however a huge part of the book has actually nothing to do with it and, to be totally honest, I found it a bit disappointing. And I would so love to tell you what I would do with the end, but I can’t, because I don’t want to give away what has happened!

Erin Kelly’s characters are incredibly well fleshed and developed. They’re all full of flaws, they make mistakes, they lie and keep secrets, yet you can’t stop being fascinated by all of them, their world and to identify with them and, logically, care about them, no matter how right or wrong they are. You don’t have to like them, but you will fell for them easily and their stories will keep you on your toes.
I loved how the author has written her characters, not only writing them but also showing them to us, fleshing them out completely, with all their feelings and emotions, allowing us to completely get into their heads but still leaving space for vague hints and secrets.

Despite some problems I had with the story, I truly enjoyed it. It’s so very readable that it’s really hard to put down and you simply want to know what’s going to happen next, if your guesses are right, if you are getting closer to truth. There are many twists and turns in this story, especially one that well, seemed unbelievable, but the more you read, the more sense it all made, although I still had some problems with getting the time and events right, I couldn’t match them completely, but in the end everything was explained. There is tension and the feeling of uncertainty, the best thing that can happen when reading such book. The unease, the fear are palpable, as well as all the brilliantly captured feelings and emotions.

“Watch Her Fall“ is a multi – layered story, complex and clever, a story that needs your attention and will have you heavily invested in it. There is intrigue, manipulation, deception, obsession that will have you glued to the pages. It’s atmospheric, intense and dark, beautifully written, a compelling read with original and shocking plot and another winner from Erin Kelly. Highly recommended!

 

The Best Things by Mel Giedroyc

 

 

 

Publisher: Headline Review 42755395._sy475_

Publishing Date: 1st April 2021

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Warm, funny, life-affirming and true, The Best Things is the joyous debut novel from much-loved comedian, writer, actor and presenter Mel Giedroyc.

It’s the story of a family who lose everything, only to find themselves, and each other, along the way.

Sally and Frank Parker have it all.

Then one day, because of Frank, they don’t.

As the bailiffs move in and the money runs out, Sally realises that she and her children don’t have a clue about how to survive.

Or do they?

The Parkers are about to discover that the best things in life aren’t things at all.

Rating: four-stars

 

Sally Parker has married young to Frank, a man her family disapproved of but who has made a success of his life and now the Parker family, with three children of their own and one niece also living with them, live in a huge house in Surrey, with swimming pool, many John Deere lawn – mowers and, of course, staff. Sally lives really pampered life, without problems and troubles, popping a Valium here and there and organizing charity auctions. Frank is a larger than life and generous alpha male, brimming with energy and good humour. But then their world crashes down when Frank loses his business empire, all their savings and house and to top it all is diagnosed with narcolepsy. The Parker family is now facing a totally different way of life, without golf, never – ending lunches and private school for children. What now? Will Sally find the strength to put things together again?

Sally and Frank were, for me, very likeable characters, with all their ups and downs. Sure, they were annoying as well, but all in all they were both so entertaining. And they grew and developed throughout the story, really, especially Sally, changing from a pampered, purpose seeking, beautifully coiffed and draped in designer robes into a woman who’s not afraid of work – and see for yourself what kind of job it was, even if only for one day. For me, she has proved she’s a woman who has guts, just think about the action with getting back her clothes – brilliant!
The children were brilliantly captured and when let loose they were a force in themselves. Stephen with his weight problems and great talent for cooking was simply great, Cleo was absolutely the best with her one – liners and give me Mikey, with her business brain, any time. Emily, Sally’s niece, who’s been living with the Parkers family for years was probably the smartest one in the household – but I liked them all so much, they felt so real and funny.
And you know what, I really fell for the Parkers. Really. Yes, Frank was awfully obnoxious, patronizing and vain, Sally had no idea about anything, the only thing they had was money and then they lost them. Just like that and there was no fault of theirs in it – and it was awful to see how the other super – duper „friends“ started to changed towards them, how they felt better than the Parkers, how they treated them and what they said about them than. Without their money they were nothing. Sad. I really kept everything crossed for them.

As much as the book is funny and light – hearted, the author also touches upon some serious issues, let’s just take the whole losing money and getting back on your feet thing, then childhood obesity, mental health and losing control over your life for example. I liked how she mixed the lighter and the heavier moments and how the book never felt too patronising or too serious in tone – it was simply my kind of read.

My only problem was the fact that the book, let’s be honest here, dragged a bit and sometimes felt too far – fetched, as if the author has tried too much. Also, the closer to the end, the more crazy it was, the events were getting out of control, the points of view changed like in the caleidoscope what, compared to the whole book, felt a bit pushed, forced and quick. Nevertheless, it was my kind of book, story that you have to read a little with a pinch of salt and be able to read between the lines, clever, thought – provoking and sharp. Sure, some of the situations and characters felt one dimensional and a bit stereotypical, but it is also the strength of the book. It was entertaining and also thought – provoking and I liked this mix, well written and easy to read – it’s a compliment! – colourful and with vivid descriptions and with a great sense of humour. A cracker of a book, ironic and sharp, really give it a go, you won’t regret it!

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd / Blog Tour (Extract)

 

 

 

Publisher: Tinder Press the-book-of-longings-cover

Publishing Date: 18th March 2021

Source: 

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis:

An inspiring story set in the first century AD about a woman who finds her voice and her destiny, from author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings

Ana is born in Galilee at a time when women are seen as possessions, only leaving their fathers’ homes to marry.
Ana longs to control her destiny. Taught to read despite her mother’s misgivings, she wants to be a writer and to find her own voice. A voice that will speak for the silenced women around her.

Betrothed to an elderly widower, Ana almost despairs. But an encounter with a charismatic young carpenter in Nazareth awakens new longings in her, and a different future opens up.

Yet this is not a simple love story. Ana’s journey will bring both joy and tragedy, but it will also be enriched by the female friendships she makes along the way.

The Book of Longings is an exquisite tale of dreams and desire, and of the power of women to change the world.

 

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EXTRACT:

 

i.

I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus ben Joseph of Nazareth. I called him Beloved and he, laughing, called me Little Thunder. He said he heard rumblings inside me while I slept, a sound like thunder from far over the NahalZippori valley or even farther beyond the Jordan. I don’t doubt he heard something. All my life, longings lived inside me, rising up like nocturnes to wail and sing through the night. That my husband bent his heart to mine on our thin straw mat and listened was the kindness I most loved in him. What he heard was my life begging to be born.

 

ii.

My testament begins in the fourteenth year of my life, the night my aunt led me to the flat roof of my father’s grand house in Sepphoris, bearing a plump object wrapped in linen.

 

I followed her up the ladder, eyeing the mysterious bundle, which was tied on her back as if it were a newborn baby, unable to guess what she secreted. She was humming a Hebrew song about Jacob’s ladder, doing so rather loudly, and I worried the sound would tumble through the slit windows of the house and awaken my mother. She had forbiddenus to go to the roof together, afraid Yaltha would fill my head with audacities.

 

Unlike my mother, unlike every woman I knew, my aunt was educated. Her mind was an immense feral country that spilled its borders. She trespassed everywhere. She had come to us from Alexandria four months ago for reasons of which no one would speak. I’d not known my father had a sister until she’d appeared one day dressed in a plain, un‑ dyed tunic, her small body erect with pride, eyes glowering. My father didn’t embrace her, nor did my mother. They gave her a servant’s room that opened onto the upper courtyard, and they ignored my interrogations. Yaltha, too, avoided my questions. “Your father made me swear not to speak of my past. He would rather you think I dropped from the sky in the manner of bird shit.”

 

Mother said Yaltha had an impudent mouth. For once, we were in agreement. My aunt’s mouth was a wellspring of thrilling and unpredictable utterances. It was what I most loved about her.

 

Tonight was not the first time we’d sneaked to the roof after dark to escape prying ears. Huddled beneath the stars, my aunt had told me of Jewish girls in Alexandria who wrote on wooden tablets that contained multiple wax slates, contraptions I could scarcely imagine. She’d recounted stories of Jewish women there who led synagogues, studied with philosophers, wrote poetry, and owned houses. Egyptian queens. Female pharaohs. Great Goddesses.

 

If Jacob’s ladder reached all the way to heaven, so, too, did ours. Yaltha had lived no more than four and a half decades, but already her hands were becoming knotted and misshapen. Her skin lay in pleats on her cheeks and her right eye drooped as if wilted. Despite that, she moved nimbly up the rungs, a graceful climbing spider. I watched as she hoisted herself over the top rung onto the roof, the pouch on her back swinging to and fro. We settled on grass mats, facing each other. It was the first day of themonth of Tishri, but the cool fall rains had not yet come. The moon sat like a small fire on the hills. The sky, cloudless, black, full of embers. The smell of pita and smoke from cook fires drifted over the city. I burned with curiosity to know what she concealed in her bundle, but she gazed into the distance without speaking and I forced myself to wait.

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The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander / Blog Tour

 

Publisher: Orion cover213752-medium

Publishing Date: 18th March 2021

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 

Synopsis:

It’s only the beginning of her story…

Jess Metcalf is perfectly happy with her quiet, predictable life – it’s just the way she likes it. But when her beloved grandmother passes away and she loses her job at the local library, her life is turned upside-down.

Packing up her grandmother’s books, she moves to a tiny cottage in a charming country village. To her surprise, Jess finds herself the owner of an old red telephone box, too – and she soon turns it into the littlest library around!

It’s not long before the books are borrowed and begin to work their magic – somehow, they seem to be bringing the villagers together once more…

Maybe it’s finally time for Jess to follow her heart and find a place to call home?

Rating: four-stars

Jess is content with her life, being a librarian and loving her job, living with her beloved grandma who looked after Jess her whole life after her parents died in an accident. Until Mimi dies too and Jess is absolutely alone. Moreover, she’s being made redundant. What now? Stumbling across a village and spotting a house for sale there, Jess makes probably the most spontaneous decision in her life and buys the cottage, together with the red telephone box outside it. She feels that filling it with Mimi’s beloved books is the right way forward. Will Jess be able to set in the village, with its close – knit community and grumpy neighbour Aidan?

The book introduces us to a group of lovely and colourful characters and it’s impossible not to like them. There are their back stories, just the perfect amount of them, brilliantly intertwined with Jess’s story, bringing all the characters alive and making them real. Jess herself was a lovely character and I loved the changes in her. At the beginning I was a little scared, I must admit, not sure if I will be able to get to like her as she was a bit, how shall I say it, maudlin perhaps, and it was absolutely understandable, she didn’t know what to do with her life after she was made redundant and her beloved grandmother died, but I am not a fan of mentioning those same facts in almost every single sentence. She hated change and she always expected the worse things to happen to her. But then, Jess was developing, growing and changing and she turned out to be a lovely, kind and caring person with a great sense of humour and I liked her very much.

The writing style was brilliant, so easy to follow and you immediately feel drawn to the story and at ease with the characters. It was also rich in descriptions that are vivid and that bring the places and people to life. Middlemass was one of the most grogeous fictional villages, somewhere deep in the English countryside, with close – knit community, where everyone knew everything about the others – brilliant, no? The author has so truly well captured the feeling of belonging, even if there were some cracks between the villagers – but it only made it all even more real and so human.

It was a lovely read though I had a feeling that the many descriptions: of food, scenery, garden, and the mentions of Mimi in every second sentence, kept us away from the main plot and they slowed it down. I mean, they were vivid and beautiful, but I was like, come onnnnn, move on pretty please. For me it should have been a bit faster on the whole. Nevertheless, it was a gorgeous, funny and poignant read, from start to finish.

There is so much more to this story than meets the eye. Thanks to the explorations of community spirit, belonging, grief and hope there is so much more depth to it. The author writes about different kinds of relationship, digging deep into each of them, writing gentle and with understanding about love on different levels. It was a very comforting read, a hug in a book, so human and inviting, funny and poignant at the same time and it was a real joy to read it – highly recommended!

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Hunt by Leona Deakin / Blog Tour

 

Publisher: Black Swan

Publishing Date: 18th March 2021

Series: Dr. Bloom #3

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 

Synopsis:

Sometimes the only way to catch a killer is to become their prey.
___________________________________

**THE THIRD DR BLOOM THRILLER**
___________________________________

The Foreign Secretary is being held under the Terrorism Act. He will answer the police’s questions on one condition – they let him speak to Dr Augusta Bloom.

He asks Bloom to track down his niece, Scarlett, who hasn’t spoken to her family for ten years. The last they heard, Scarlett was getting involved with Artemis – an organisation dedicated to women’s rights and the feminist movement, led by the charismatic Paula Kunis.

But as Bloom learns more about Artemis, she’s torn. Is this organisation everything it claims to be, or do they have a secret side and an alternative agenda? And if so, what has become of Scarlett?

The only way to find out for sure is for Bloom to go undercover. But will she make it out safely – or will she become the next Artemis woman to disappear?

Rating:

The foreign secretary Gerald Potter has been arrested under the Terrorism Act, accused of selling government secrets, and requests the help of Augusta Bloom. When they meet, he asks her to find his niece Scarlett, who has not been in touch with her family for almost ten years. She disappeared, taking 2 million pounds inheritance money with her. He points Augusta in the direction of Artemis, the women’s rights and self – help group led by the American Paula Kunis.
Augusta and her partner Marcus have fourteen days to find Scarlett, fulfilling that way Augusta’s obligations to Gerald Potter. Travelling from London to Edinburgh to the Highlands, she takes us on a journey full of mind games, power hunger, greed, delusionality and danger.

„Hunt“ is the third book in the Doctor Augusta Bloom series and I must admit that I’m loving it more and more and can’t wait to see what’s to come yet! It was a tense, gripping, unsettling and captivating thriller involving Augusta and Marcus and – yes! – Seraphine. It was full of twists and turns and all the time I had a feeling that I have to look over my shoulder – and I love it when the book makes me feel like this.

Augusta and Marcus still worked together brilliantly and they complemented each other, the banter and dynamics between them was natural and genuine. I liked how they are the main characters, yet they keep themselves to themselves and the author truly lets us to focus on the plot, letting us to lead the investigation together with them. We still don’t know much about their private lives, they feel like closed books but while it would probably bother me in other books, with different plots and stories, here it is simply acceptable and it works. I just enjoyed that Augusta and Marcus always have each other’s back and didn’t need anything more.

The writing style is chatty and engaging, down to earth and easy to follow and the plot was so imaginative, different and fascinating, and it was really refreshing to read this book.

The story goes deep into exploring Artemis, a group campaigning for women’s empowerment and oh my, what an exploration it was. Augusta, as usual, gives everything to solve a case and you have the feeling that actually everything can happen. I enjoyed how the author captured the essence of a cult, of its tactics and the way they manipulate people. On the surface it’s a very noble and worthwile institution but Augusta is quick in her thinking, questioning Artemis case. There is a secrecy surrounding the organization and you quickly get the feeling that nothing is, in fact, genuine about them and their esteemed leader. What our Augusta does, is to go undercover and infiltrate Artemis, and here starts the most crazy and full of tension roller – coaster ride you can expect.

Yes, I’d say that it was a slow – burner, especially at the beginning, and that sometimes the plot was too far – fetched – however it was a complex one that will need your full attention, filled with dangerous mind games, twists and turns – and that Seraphine seemed to know everything, but all in all it didn’t spoil the reading experience for me. Even if I wouldn’t determine the pace of this book as quick, there are many twists and turns and questions that you desperately want to know answers to, so there is really not a moment that feels flat. I would also advise you to read „Gone“ and „Lost“ before you start „Hunt“, as the dynamics between the main characters were growing and changing and were affected by the previous investigations. What’s more exciting is the fact that the Foreign Secretary is one of Seraphine’s past recruits – but Augusta doesn’t know it, of course. Yes, please, read the previous books! Intense and claustrophobic, with characters that really develop, I truly enjoyed „Hunt“ and it kept me on the edge of my seat. Truly recommended!

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Mothering Sunday by Sara James

 

Publisher: Orion 57326192._sy475_

Publishing Date: 4th March 2021

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 

Synopsis:

One crisp and bright Mothering Sunday, Alexandra Abbott’s now elderly mother, Elizabeth, reveals a secret that she has kept buried for over 50 years…

April 1963: Aspiring artist Kitty Campbell has recently given birth to her first child in a mother and baby home. Kitty is to give her baby away for adoption but, when the day comes, she can’t bring herself to part with her tiny daughter.

In desperation, Kitty flees. She stops at a tea shop to feed her hungry baby and meets the owner, Bet – a mother with her own heartache to bear. But Bet is kind to Kitty, holding the baby and offering a listening ear.

Then Kitty makes a decision that will change all their lives for ever. Several decades later, can the truth from that day finally right the past and bring a mother and daughter together?

A heart-rending family drama perfect for fans of Fern Britten, Rachel Hore and Dilly Court.

Rating: three-stars

It is early 60’s and Kitty is about to have a baby. But it’s not a happy event. Kitty is not married and, as she comes from a wealthy family, „what will people say“ is her mother’s only concern. So Kitty is sent to a mother and baby home and her child will be put up for adoption, no matter what Kitty’s opinion is. But Kitty, never one to follow the rules, flees from the mother and baby home on the day where her baby daughter Alexandra is supposed to be adopted by other people. Then she meets Bet and makes an impulsive decision that is going to change many lives for ever.

In this story we follow a thought – provoking and sad tale of two women, Kitty and Bet, who suffered a lot and who both fought for their happiness.

I guess the author wanted to show us how desperate Kitty was, how much she suffered, how the separation with the baby was breaking her. For me, though, Kitty came as obsessive and stalkerish and I was already worrying about her and her mental health. I mean, appearing everywhere the new parents went, finding out where they’re spending their holidays… it started to feel a bit creepy, to be honest and I am very sorry but I didn’t fell for her and her actions.

I couldn’t warm to the writing style. I am sorry to say but it was not strong enough to keep me interested in reading. It felt a little flat and monotonous and well, in the end it didn’t move my heart. It was a very sensible and poignant subject the author has chosen, yes, but the way the story was written didn’t make me fall for the characters and the story itself. I was not involved in the characters’ lives, I didn’t care for them actually and I eventually found myself skipping huge parts of the book.

„Mothering Sunday“ is about families and dynamics between the family members, about lies and secrets, loss, grief and never losing hope. It explores different kinds of love and shows how far is a mother able to go to do their best by her babies. It was rather a sad story, nevertheless it can make a perfect read for you, as I seem to be in minority with my opinion about it – just try it for yourself if you’re in need for a gentle, moving tale.

My Kind of Happy by Cathy Bramley

 

Publisher: Orion 51mhccpial._sy344_bo1204203200_

Publishing Date: 4th March 2021

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 480

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 

Synopsis:

The new feel-good, funny story from Sunday Times bestseller Cathy Bramley about one woman’s search for happiness…

‘I think flowers are sunshine for the soul.’

Flowers have always made Fearne smile. She treasures the memories of her beloved grandmother’s floristry and helping her to arrange beautiful blooms that brought such joy to their recipients.

But ever since a family tragedy a year ago, Fearne has been searching for her own contentment. When a chance discovery inspires her to start a happiness list, it seems that Fearne might just have found her answer…

Sometimes the scariest path can be the most rewarding. So is Fearne ready to take the risk and step into the unknown? And what kind of happiness might she find if she does?

Rating: five-stars

Fearne is not at a happy place right now – having lost a beloved family member in an accident, she’s not sure what to do with her own life. Then, at a chance, she discovers a letter addressed to her, a letter that makes her realise that she’s not living the life she should be living and that she should do this what makes her happy. But is she ready to take the risk to find her own happiness?

I totally enjoyed this story, it must be one of Cathy Bramley’s loveliest, uplifting reads. I appreciate so much the fact that, even though it is sometimes a little overdone on the emotions level, so very saccharine in tone, it never feels too meh or unrealistic – and it is really not easy to find this balance, Bramley has done it perfectly. I was scared that there will come a moment when I’ll be tired with Fearne and her grief but it never came – she was grieving long and hard but the author managed to make her relatable and likeable and real.

The book is filled with great, colourful characters – some of them we already know, as it’s a trip back to Barnaby, and it was a great surprise to see some of the characters that I’ve fallen in love with in the author’s previous books. Fearne is a new kid on the block and we get to know her in one of her lowest points in life, extremely grief stricken, not knowing where the future is going to take her. She was warm – hearted and always open for new things, not afraid of taking on challenges.
I absolutely loved to see Fearne changing. At the end she was a completely different character and the change was absolutely positive. She for sure learnt how to enjoy life again and it was great to see, because it was very easy to fall for her.

Even though you know where the story is leading it still isn’t as predictable as you may think. There were some turns and twists on the way to Fearne’s happiness and actually until the last moment you couldn’t be sure if she’s really going to get her happy end. I mean, I was hoping for it, but the author has managed to make it a curvy and bumpy road.

As in all Cathy Bramley’s books, the sense of community is overwhelming, but she also managed not to over – use it. The characters were there for each other but in a realistic, down – to – earth way. I also loved that the story was set in a flower – shop – I’ve never wonderd how it is to be a florist so it was a great change and I truly enjoyed the insider knowledge about flowers and flowery – arrangements. It turns out it’s not as easy as you could think. The descriptions of the flowers and creations were beautiful.

The author never fails to deliver an uplifting, lovely, funny and poignant story that will grow on you. I was invested in the characters’ lives, I wanted to applaud them and slap some of them and I want to know more about the feisty Annabel – such a shame she was introduced so late into the story, she truly lightened the plot. The book ended in such a satisfying way, just what I needed, leaving me with my heart full of hope that everything is going to be better.

It was a quick read – because I simply wanted to keep reading this story with a feel – good factor to it. It was engaging, comforting and relatable, showing there is always a way forward and that finding your own happiness is not so difficult. Highly recommended, and if you’ve never read Cathy Bramley before (I won’t be asking where have you been), „My Kind of Happy“ is the perfect start to great adventures with her characters.

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Behind CLosed Doors by Catherine Alliott / Blog Tour

 

Publisher: Penguin / Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 4th March 2021

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 

Synopsis:

From the outside, anyone would think that Lucy Palmer has it all: loving children, a dashing husband and a gorgeous home.

But when her marriage to Michael comes to an abrupt and unexpected end, her life is turned upside down in a flash.

As the truth of her marriage threatens to surface, Lucy seizes the opportunity to swap her house in London – and the stories it hides – for a rural escape to her parents’ farmhouse in the Chilterns.

But Lucy gets more than she bargained for when she moves back to her childhood home. With her parents growing older disgracefully, she can hardly keep up with their social life – especially when it throws her into the path of an old flame.

Coming face-to-face with her mistakes, Lucy is forced to confront the secrets she’s been keeping from herself and those she loves.

Is she ready to let someone in? Or will she leave the door to her past firmly closed . . .

Rating:

Lucy Palmer seems to have it all – great family, loving husband, two grown – up children, big house in London and a writing career. However, it’s all behind closed doors. Because in fact life is very different for Lucy and her little family. Her husband Michael is controlling and manipulating and knows how to keep Lucy in a corner, crushing her, her independence and confidence. He’s clever – on the outside, there are no scars. But inside…
But then Lucy’s marriage, suddenly and unexpectedly, ends. Now she has some dealings with the past. Leaving behind house where all bad things happened, Lucy moves back with her elderly and cheerful parents where she’s about to try to re – built her life. Will she manage? Is it possible to forget about the past when it still seems to haunt her so much?

This book is different to previous Catherine Alliott’s books, in fact so different that I have started to panic, especially at the beginning that felt so sad and grim and not so Alliott-y at all. Then, when THE thing happened, it started to feel more like this author, but let’s be honest, there wouldn’t be this story without this dark beginning, it was established on the things that happened to Lucy before. And the author has written her story brilliantly, Lucy’s feelings and emotions were so incredibly well captured and brought to the pages, it was truly amazing.

A huge part of the story focuses on taking care of your elderly parents and while it doesn’t concern me yet I used to have grandparents that needed looking after, so those part truly resonated with me and was written just like it really was for me, just like I can remember – reluctant to accept help but then so thankful for it, for the edible things to eat in the fridge and for organising the health care. Lucy and Helena were brilliant daughters and they were worried about their parents, but I also loved their parents’ spirit and well, they threw the best parties ever. Though I still can remember how annoying the parties my parents organised at home were for me. But the older I was, the better they got for e too, so there.

The story is told by Lucy and she’s a reliable and honest narrator – she reveals all and tells us how the things really were in her marriage and her life. She was so real in her emotions, she knew that things were going wrong but the way she explained what was happening that kept her in her marriage made the whole situation crystal clear and her fear was palpable. We have seen the warning signs, and Lucy started to notice them too, but it was too late for her then. I liked her, and I liked how she was able to return to the person she was before, although it was, of course, not an immediate process – but the subtle changes in her were to see and they made me feel happy and glad for her. She was so true to life, our Lucy, strong but on the other hand also weak, out of her depth but still going and trying.
I also loved Lucy’s family with its dynamics being the heart of the story. They are sometimes a handful, they’re eccentric and eclectic, but they’re all so colourful and realistic, and they are all there for Lucy, supporting her on the way.
Catherine Alliott has so thoughtfully and sensitively portrayed Lucy’s damaged family, capturing Michael and the way he treated them spot on. We can think, why didn’t she leave him, simple like that, but there is so much more to her story than meet the eye, with Michael and his psychological games and threats.

This was a complex story full of secrets, twists and turns and I really didn’t know what’s going to happen – and I really loved it. I was totally involved – I felt sad, I felt anger, I laughed and raged but also nodded along with understanding – this is the best what can happen when reading a book.

It was an engaging, emotional story filled with great characters, sadness and humour. It was so close to reality, the story felt so real and it was impossible not to fall for Lucy and her family. Emotional and touching upon many heavy issues, such as domestic abuse, ageing parents, staying true to yourself and second chances. Written with tons of empathy, emotions and warmth, it’s close to life and relatable. It kept me glued to the pages, it was full of tension and suspense and altogether, it was simply a brilliant read, it was worth to wait so long fort his new Catherine Alliott’s release. Highly recommended!

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