Blog Tour: You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell / Q&A with the Author

Hello there, you lovely people. Today I am super duper excited to be a part of Jill Mansell’s Blog Tour for her newest shiny novel „You and Me, Always”. I am even more thrilled because I have a Q&A with the Author herself – something that I always wanted to run on my blog! Thanks so much Elizabeth for making it possible and thanks so much Jill for taking your time to answers my questions! And you, guys, just enjoy :)

 

1. Jill, this is your 27th book. I know that asking an author if they have their favourite book is like asking which child they love more, but is there a book that is special to you? Why?

 I’d have to say Three Amazing Things About You was the most special to me, purely because as a result of reading it, so many people have been in touch to tell me they’ve added their names to the organ donor list.

 

 2. Can you say what all of your books are about or having written so many of them (and thanks heavens for this!) it’s not possible anymore?

 Haha, I have the most terrible memory, so it’s hard for me to recall plotlines. Sometimes when I have to look at one of my older books for some reason, I am astonished to see what’s in it – it all feels completely brand-new to me, as if the whole thing had been written by somebody else!

 

 3. Readers (me included) are loving your books – when writing a new novel are you afraid that you can disappoint them this time? That the book isn’t going to live up to their expectations?

 It’s something I always worry about, and the fear has worsened over the years. Luckily, readers continue to enjoy my books – if they didn’t, I’d probably think the time had come to stop!

 

4. What five words would you use to describe your new novel, „You and Me, Always”?

 Emotional, funny, sad, feelgood fiction. (I hope!)

 

7. How did the title get chosen?

 I always write the book first, then come up with a title afterwards. I usually end up trawling through song titles on Amazon until I find some that fit the story and sound nice. Then I submit my list to my publisher and agent, and they choose the one they like best. (Or they reject all of them and ask me to find some more!)

 

 8. How carefully did you plan this novel in advance?

 I don’t plan carefully at all. I begin with characters and a starting-off situation, and carry on from there, coming up with new ideas as I go along. I ran a poll on Twitter and Facebook to find out where to set this novel – a big majority of readers preferred my Cotswold-village settings, so this is why I invented Stanton Langley. Cotswold villages are fun!

 

9. There are usually many characters in your books and their stories intertwine – do you have a special system to keep on track with them and their lives?

 I construct a long timeline and fasten coloured post-it notes along it, to keep track of all the different characters and plot points in the book. It makes life a lot easier and I highly recommend it.

 

 10. After writing almost 30 books, is it still easy to find inspiration, ideas, characters, dialogues…?

 The characters and the dialogue are always easy for me, but sometimes I do struggle to come up with brand-new scenarios – everything I think of turns out to be a plot-line I’ve used before. Thankfully something always comes along in the end. It would probably be far easier to write sequels – maybe I should consider this at some stage!

 

  11. How does a publication day look like for you? Is it a special day or just a normal one?

 Well, this year is going to be especially exciting because my publishers are throwing a gorgeous launch party for me and I can’t wait – it’s going to be fantastic! In the last few years though, publication days have become much more fun thanks to the rise in popularity of social media. Hearing from people on Twitter and Facebook who are excited to be reading the new book makes a world of difference!

 

12. What is your recipe for success?

 Oh goodness, I have no idea. All I can say is, I love my characters – even the naughty ones! I think it makes a difference if you really care about them. Nothing stops me reading a book more quickly than discovering I don’t care about the characters and therefore have no interest in finding out what happens to them.

 

13. Last question (as I’m hoping you will be answering them after Christmas) – what did you get for Christmas?

 I got some black Ugg slippers decorated with Swarovski crystals and they’re fantastic – I might be the last person on the planet to discover how gorgeous and comfortable Uggs are! I was so impressed with them that I have since bought myself a pair of matching Ugg boots in the sales. I may wear them to my publication party, you never know!

 

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A Little Sugar, a Lot of Love by Linn B. Halton

A Little Sugar, a Lot of Love

by Linn B. Halton

28274031

 Publisher: Choc Lit

Publishing Date: 15th January 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 202

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 Synopsis:

Life isn’t all love and cupcakes …

Katie has had her fair share of bad luck, but when she finally realises her dream of opening a bakery it seems things can only get better.

But the reality of running a business hits Katie hard and whilst her partner, Steve, tries to help she begins to sense that the situation is driving them further apart. Could Katie be set to lose her relationship and her dream job?

Then, one winter’s day, a man walks into her shop – and, in the space of that moment, the course of Katie’s life is changed.

But nobody finds happiness in the blink of an eye. Sometimes it takes two Christmases, three birthdays and a whole lot of cake to get there …

Rating: 3/5

I am probably the last person in the universe to know that „A Little Sugar, a Lot of Love” was previously published as „Sweet Occasions” that I’ve read, but not knowing it I’ve requested this book on NetGalley and started reading it, with more and more confusion, as I immediately got a feeling that I: Have. Already. Read. That. Book. Re – reading is not a big deal for me, oh no, I used to re – read books but now I just don’t have time for this. Sadly.

This book was a little different to all the romance books that I usually read, and although you can say, well, what is so different, a girl meets a boy, they fell in love although they don’t realise it, they overcome all the obstacles to stay together, yes it was different, because it was about mature people who learn that life isn’t quite as they want it to be but nevertheless, they take matters in their hands and make small steps towards their happiness.

Katie is struggling to keep her dream shop „Sweet Occasions” over the water, while her boyfriend wants her to either stop or take the business in other, more aggressive and expanding, direction. One very rainy day a stranger comes into her shop and Katie not only dine him, but also lends him her clothes… He buys cake for his grandmother and leaves. But they both find they can’t forget each other… Then life makes them meet each other from time to time, Katie get to know Adam’s daughter Lily and grows found of her very much, but life goes on, and they must live their lives. But still thinking about the other one…

The characters were so nice and so understanding that there were moments I thought oh my, can you please do something wrong, say something wrong? But despite this they were likable and very warm people, all of them carrying their cross and fighting their own demons. Katie, because she wasn’t sure if she was in the right relationship and I liked the way she grown to her decision and although there were some strong strings attached she did what she thought was right for her. Adam, trying to find the right way to spend as much time with his daughter together as possible, earn a living and finding a new love, in between having to take care of his beloved grandmother. So they don’t know it yet, but they have some things in common, and it’s that they are actually unhappy.

Grace, as it often happens with the older heroes, was a warm, wise woman, with some of very true wisdoms, and her story was a very beautiful one. The characters feel really realistic, with all their feelings of love and fear.

What didn’t work out for me though is the fact that everybody and their kith and kin were trying to match – make Katie and Adam, and I thought, why? They didn’t know each other so good, they didn’t know if they have something in common, they used to see each other twice a year, so really, why? What did all the other people see that I didn’t? Don’t get me wrong, but how would you feel if a woman that you only heard about invited you to your house and told you that she knows/feels/is absolutely sure that you should be together with her grandson? Well, yes, they liked each other, there was some kind of attraction between them but I would never say that there is chemistry.

The chapters are told alternately from Katie, Adam and a few from Grace’s point of view, so we know what all of them are feeling and thinking. I guess I have never read a book written in such style as „Sweet Ocassions”, when we meet the characters on Christmas and then half a year later, and then again on Christmas, although they tell us then what happened in the meantime. The narration concentrated more on the present, and like I said, we are informed about some things that happened in the past, but those were just short dialogues between the characters, although it was enough to keep me on track and not lose the overview. Interesting and refreshing, though I must admit I think I’m more into details. But the story has a good pace, and I really liked the idea of it telling it over two years. I didn’t have a feeling that the author is dragging it out, no, it all felt very realistic and natural, and Linn gave the characters a chance to grow, develop and to find out what they are really looking for in life. There was nothing forced or pushed in this book, there were no things happening out of the blue, we got to know the characters on the same day as they got to know themselves, and we followed their story together with them, without a feeling that something has happened out of nothing.

Altogether, it was a sweet, warm, optimistic book with a feel – good factor, written in a very subtle, gentle way, without any exaggerated drama. Touching and with an original story line, with some twists, will let you to dive into Linn B. Halton’s world for some time.

Echoes from Afar by Tamara McKinley

Echoes from Afar

by Tamara McKinley

28266880

 

 Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 28th January 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

  Synopsis:

A powerful story of love and loss from internationally bestselling author Tamara McKinley.

So this is Paris, she thought in awe. Spread out before her beneath a clear blue sky, it was like a precious gift after the smog and filth of London. No wonder it was called the city of love . . .

After a spiteful rumour ruins her career in London, Annabelle Blake must travel to Paris to start afresh. There she makes the acquaintance of Etienne and Henri – one a poet, the other a painter – both charming, talented and handsome. They spend their days flirting and drinking with the city’s artistes and Bohemians, and soon Annabelle too is swept up in the exotic and exhilarating world of 1930s Paris. But as ever more young people are drawn to the fight against Fascism in Spain, Annabelle must wake from the dream and confront the reality of war. A lifetime later, gifted artist Eugenie Ashton falls in love with Paris the moment she sets foot outside the Gare de Lyon. Like her mother Annabelle before her, the artistic delights of the city are a bright new world to her: but Eugenie will soon find that in its shadows are hidden the secrets of her family’s past.

Rating: 3/5

What is so brilliant in being a book blogger is the fact that we can discover new authors – new to us, as Tamara McKinley has written, as far as I know 12 novels, and „Echoes from Afar” is my first read by this author. This book is a historical fiction, and as it is one of my favourite genres, I started reading it with high expectations.

A great part of the book takes place during the Spanish Civil War, which was also a bonus for me, as I haven’t read a book set during those times before, the closest one was „The Italian Wife” by Kate Furnivall set in Mussolini’s Italy, but in Spain – not yet. The descriptions of Spain and the air raids, and also the conditions at the field hospitals were very detailed and very vivid, and especially one blitz has stuck in my memory.
Also, the book features the 1930′s in Paris, and the author brilliantly got the vibrant, jaunty atmosphere of local streets, citizens, and especially artists. Then we have a chance to see the same city almost 20 years later, through the eyes of another young girl, and see how the city and its residents have changed. There was only the right balance between the carefree Paris and the war scenes, Annabelle’s time as a nurse in Spain. The descriptions were rich and the author has really nailed the atmosphere of all the times she was writing about.

I absolutely adored Annabelle’s story, it was the best part of the book. She was a strong, independent woman and I liked the passion she felt to her nursing job – she was the right person on the right place. She was so honest in all her reactions and the way she was. Her developing relationship with Henri was so very well captured, and the author shown all the ups and downs of loving someone during the war – and one scene was truly heart – breaking. I really liked to see how this feeling between them, their love and respect to each other, just oozed from the pages. I never trusted Etienne – he seemed to accept the fact that Annabelle has chosen Henri over him but I couldn’t help the feeling that he’s plotting something against those two love birds.

However, everything in this book happened in such easy way. People met again, found each other without any problem, faced up to the facts without resistance, the secrets were not life changing and quickly revealed. Also, I missed a little a closure with Etienne, I suspected him, after Aline’s warnings, that he told lies to Annabelle, that he was guilty of this whole situation – but nothing was said about it. Then, after a really big part of the book concentrating on the story of Annabelle and Henri and their stay in Spain, I was wondering when Eugenie is going to come on the scene, and when she appeared, this part, in comparison to the earlier parts, felt too rushed and not as well developed as the first three quarters of the book. The end felt too good to be true, where everybody loved each other and everything was OK again. On the whole, the reading felt a little flat.
There were also moments in the book that seemed to me very sudden and abrupt and I was going back few pages to see if I missed something, as it looked like we were expected to know some things that happened before, in the background.

„Echoes from Afar” is a captivating, interesting read that mixes war times with feelings of love and art that takes the reader on a great journey in time and through Europe. So with the strong settings and characters and engaging plot it makes a really compelling read. Tamara McKinley is for sure an author to keep an eye on, and I will be checking more of her books.

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Our Song by Dani Atkins

Our Song

by Dani Atkins

27555699

 

 Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Publishing Date: 28th January 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 512

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

  Synopsis:

The stunning new emotional drama from ebook phenomenon Dani Atkins, author of Fractured – perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Dorothy Koomson.

This is the story of Ally and Charlotte, whose paths have intersected over the years though they’ve never really been close friends. Charlotte married Ally’s ex and first true love, David. Fate is about to bring them together one last, dramatic time and change their lives forever.

Full of Dani’s signature warmth and emotion, this is a gripping and emotional family drama. With breath-taking plot twists, Dani explores themes of serendipity, friendship and love. She fully engages the reader in the dilemmas faced by her characters. What would you do if your husband was the love of somebody else’s life? And when faced with an agonising decision, could you put the past behind you and do the right thing?

Rating: 3/5

 

Oh man. It is going to be very difficult. I’ve read Dani Atkins’ both previous books and they had incredible impact on me – they were so emotional and if I were looking for author to compare the writing to, I would go for Jessica Thompson. I haven’t reviewed Dani’s debut novel „Fractured”, as it left me speechless and I couldn’t find enough words to prize it, and I also loved „The Story of Us”, so you can imagine how excited I was when, totally unexpectedly, a beautiful proof copy of „Our Song” arrived on my doorstep.

There is no need to say that I started reading this book with great anticipation and expectations – and now I am wondering if I read the same book as other reviewers who are singing it prizes. Sure, it was beautifully written, with a lot of feeling, understanding and compassion, but for me that was all. I had a feeling that I’ve been there, I’ve seen this and the story couldn’t surprise me with anything. It was -screaming and kicking – heading to the end that I could predict already when I started to read it. I am really sorry to say, but this story couldn’t keep my attention and I wasn’t hooked – as I was hoping I’d be.
It was also told in the simplest way ever, present intertwined with past, but both of those stories lacked in originality for me, I really had a feeling that I’ve read thousands such stories. The characters were also not the ones that I warmed immediately to and yes, I had compassion with them, but still I didn’t feel any connection to them. And I disliked Charlotte. I don’t know, there was something in her that was off – putting, and I wouldn’t like to have her as a friend.

Of course there are also aspects that I liked in this book. It is amazing that everything there happens actually during only 24 hours – in this time we get to know the characters and their background, and we keep our fingers crossed for them in the present. Thanks to the flashbacks to the past the author deeply describes the characters and gives us a chance to really get to know them. The jumping between past and present is seamless and flaws effortlessly, and often we are presented with the same situation seen through different perspectives, through different points of view, through the eyes of Ally, Charlotte, David or Joe. Dani Atkins’ writing style is beautiful and she can wonderfully describe the most difficult scenes and feelings.
But for me the book, and especially the passages in the past, dragged on much too long – there was actually only one decision to be made, everything led to this decision and it was obvious it is going to happen, and for me it was just too much – the whole story, with all the flashbacks, characters’ stories, a very long book.

There is so much hype about this book and it was really one of my most anticipated reads this year, and I am really sad that it wasn’t for me. I do realise it is a special novel. It is intense and full of important messages and some very difficult decisions to be made. It is a very moving love story that already tugs at the readers’ heartstrings, a story that can make you think about fate, destiny and how you never know what can happen, but a story that just wasn’t for me. I am sure it’s going to be a very acclaimed book, judging by the wonderful reviews, it is going to be a big hit, and I am happy for this book, really happy, and you can say that I am wrong in my feelings – that’s okay. I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I’d hoped.

The Birthday That Changed Everything by Debbie Johnson

The Birthday That Changed Everything

by Debbie Johnson

 27215521

 Publisher: Harper

Publishing Date: 28th January 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 Synopsis:

She wanted a birthday surprise, just not the one she got…

The last thing Sally Summers expected from her husband on her special day was that he’d leave her for a Latvian lap dancer half her age. So with her world in tatters, Sally jets off to Turkey for some sun, sea and sanctuary.

The Blue Bay resort brings new friends and the perfect balm for Sally’s broken heart in gorgeous Dubliner James. He’s just the birthday present she needs. And when the chemistry between them continues to spark as the holiday ends, Sally wonders if this is more than just a summer fling.

But James has scars of his own and Sally isn’t quite ready to turn her back on her marriage. This birthday might have changed everything, but what will the next one bring?

 Rating: 5/5

 

Lately, in a relatively short space of time, I’ve read two of Debbie Johnson’s books, and I truly liked them, so when requesting „The Birthday that Changed Everything” and keeping everything crossed to be accepted, I knew that I can expect an entertaining, funny book. But reality has totally, absolutely exceeded my expectations and this book has just Blown. Me. Away.

„The Birthday that Changed Everything” is written purely for entertaining purposes, and believe me, I don’t remember laughing so much (SO MUCH) when reading a book. This was totally my kind of humour, also the one that you must read between the lines, and it was full of the most fantastic one – liners, awkward and embarrassing situations but also some more gentle and touching moments.
Because there was not a single thing that I find weaker in this book, let me tell you what I so much enjoyed:

– humour. From the very beginning, with the way Simon dumped Sally (for a moment I had a déjà- vu feeling, as Sue Watson’s book „Bella’s Christmas Bake Off” started in the same way, with a main character being dumped by her husband almost on the first page, but then the books, apart of the fact that they’re both great, are totally different), through the whole story in fact it was laugh out loud funny.

– characters, especially Lucy and Ollie, but all other as well! It was impossible not to like them – well, except for Sally’s husband perhaps, although he had his moments as well, and he was exactly as entertaining as the others. When he was in a competition modus for example. To be honest, at the beginning I was outraged with Goth – Lucy, her foul mouth and the way she treated her mother, father, brother and the whole world, but then I got used to her and I started to warm to her so, so much, and to love her foul mouth, loudness and bluntness. Ollie was so, so sweet, such a good boy and I loved him even more after the scene where he got plastered for the first time – it was priceless!
I adored Sally as mother, her stoicism, she knew exactly when she should react and when not. She was so honest and genuine in all that she did or said – no matter if she was heartbroken because her husband has just left her for a 19 – year – old Latvian stripper, or if she was furious with her daughter, or if she was in love – she just felt totally honest.
James. Oh James. Honest, handsome, funny and full of feelings. Also with a past but looking to the future. Not afraid to show those feelings. I loved him, mmmm.
And all the other characters, the whole Blue Bay resort gang, they were so warm and welcoming and I’d love to spend holidays with them. Even though they are a very loud bunch of people. Brilliantly described, vivid, colourful characters, each of them with their own story which added so much to the novel – fantastic!

– setting. Usually our characters travel to Greece for their holidays but this time they went to Turkey. I loved Blue Bay resort, together with the waiters – especially with the waiters, especially on the day of the farewell party!

– plot. You know, it was not only fun, fun, fun and having drinks under the sunshades. The author has firstly: brilliantly varied all the holidays, adding so much events and I couldn’t wait to see what there is going to happen and secondly: she has complicated the plot, it was not predictable, there were many twists and turns that I so incredibly enjoyed. And thirdly: the fact the characters were so normal, they were all drinking booze, they were getting ill, they must have bear the moods of their teenage children, they had better and worse days. Debbie Johnson has shown us the characters in their most difficult moments and in their funniest moments and it was brilliantly balanced.

– twists and turns and not making the plot run so obvious – see above.

– writing style and they way the story was told. I find the idea of this book just brilliant – going on holidays to the same place and meeting the same group of people there, but what people! They were the whole fun. The way the story was told, as it was set over few years, taking part mostly during holidays, took me by surprise, I didn’t expect it to be like this, and especially not the characters coming back to the same resort, but it worked brilliantly. I really enjoyed it, it made the pace even quicker, and I think the reading itself much more hooking and interesting, as it spared us, with some exceptions when the characters reminisced a little, the less significant events happening in the characters’ lives and concentrated only on the sunny parts of their lives. But „sunny” in inverted commas of course, as the holidays were full not only with fun, fun, fun but also drama and life – changing decisions.

– the romance that was not so straight – forward, not at all! It was so great and so realistic, with all its ups and downs, and there was a moment that I was really climbing the walls – I was truly scared. I really liked that Debbie Johnsons had thought about all the aspects like living in different countries, having exes, having children – well, this is the life, right? But the sparks of attraction between Sally and James were just palpable through the pages, the question was only if they are ready for a relationship? Or is this going to stay a holiday romance only?

So this is really my favourite book by Debbie Johnson so far. It is not only a pure fun but it brilliantly showed the changes in characters’ lives, how they developed. It effortlessly transported me in the sunny Turkey, to the poolside and I felt like part of the Blue Bay gang. It is a sexy, flirty book, funny and sad, bitter – sweet read that kept me guessing to the very end. If you are looking for a novel with an overwhelming feel – good factor, it is a read for you – I can’t recommend it highly enough! This book deserves much more than only 5 stars. In Lucy’s words: FUCKING BRILLIANT!!!!

First Touch by Laurelin Paige

First Touch

by Laurelin Paige

26791162

 Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 11th February 2016

Series: First and Last #1

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult), Romantic Suspense

 Buy the Book: Kindle (out now!) | Paperback

  Synopsis:

When Emily Wayborn receives an answerphone message from her former best friend Amber, she knows something is seriously wrong. Emily hasn’t spoken to Amber in years, and when Amber uses a safe word in her message that Emily recognises — a word they always used to get out of sticky situations during their wild partying days — she knows Amber needs her help. But when Emily tries to find her, she discovers that Amber is missing.

Determined to track her down, Emily follows a chain of clues that lead her to enigmatic billionaire Reeve Sallis. Renowned for his shady dealings and playboy reputation, Emily is convinced that Reeve knows something about Amber’s disappearance. To try and discover the truth, Emily sets out to seduce him. But when she’s forced to decide where her loyalty lies, how will Emily choose between saving Amber and saving her heart?

If you devoured Fifty Shades and Sylvia Day’s Bared To You series, you will love the latest intoxicating, passionate and addictive novel from New York Times bestseller Laurelin Paige.

Rating: 3/5

„First Touch” is not my usual type of read, as I’m not so into erotica tangled into romantic suspense. Heck, I am probably the only person on this planet who has never read „Fifty Shades of Grey” (so there. I’ve said this)! In the press release and on the cover it states that it is for fans of Fifty Shades” and „Bared to You” series, and I thought, hell, why not? Let’s try it.

I am probably too old to be too emotional about this kind of story. Yes, at first it irritated the hell out of me the way Emily was treated, but not only by Reeve, because I think with him she just allowed him to be like this, and if she accepted it then why should he change? But I mean Emily’s past, and the way she told about it, as if this was the most normal way to live. But then I thought, oh my god, Emily, you are an adult, you can’t change your past but you could change your present, but if you want to be like this, then just be. Really, I had problems to connect with the characters, as they were totally not my kind of characters, and heroes like Reeve don’t impress me at all. I couldn’t connect, and I also couldn’t care for the characters. I have a feeling we have too little background to understand Emily completely – on one hand she presented herself as an independent, career – oriented woman, on the other I hated how she was around men, and I really couldn’t understand why is this so. Then we have Reeve, and I know that mostly reviewers are swooning over him, but I can’t see where the fire is. He was arrogant, alpha male who was expecting miracles to happen only by snapping his fingers. And everything happened so easy to Emily all the time. The „chance” meeting with Reeve, the private detective helping her to find Amber, the dream job… Everything was always just like Emily wanted it to be.
Those were the kinds of characters that I didn’t bother to judge, because if I had than I would have to put the book away. They were the most corrupted, weak, arrogant characters I’ve ever come across in a book and well, I didn’t like it, but as I’ve said, I didn’t judge them, so I kept reading thinking I am already too deep into the story and I want to see more. And I got more. More sex, more abuse, more underestimating of women – and I am not so much into books where the women are treated like trophies.

This book didn’t work for me in the way I thought it would – but maybe it’s because I am too old and too sceptical for such books? Also, I am thinking, if you want to write erotica, then write it, without trying to add suspense to the plot, because well, there was not so much suspense. The whole idea was to look for Amber, and from time to time we got a scene or two where something was being done towards finding her, then long, long, long time nothing and then Emily suddenly remembered about her best friend and every second sentence was about what would Amber do and where is she now.

I knew this book is being compared on the cover to „Fifty Shades of Grey” but, as I have already mentioned I haven’t read this series, I wasn’t so completely prepared for how dark and how steamy sexy it’s going to be. I am a tough cookie and the sex scenes didn’t put me off the story, nevertheless I was expecting more plot, more story from it. If you don’t like a hefty, powerful sex scenes, on the verge of BDSM, it is not a book for you, as it mostly consists only such scenes. There were moments that I skimmed – read some of them, as they were too literal for my liking, but they didn’t put me off sex as well :)

What was really good, was the writing. It didn’t read like a weak bonkbuster or trashy novel, it was written in a fluent, eloquent way and I think this was what kept me – maybe not glued – but hooked to the pages. Laurelin Paige has a way with words and her writing is really very vivid and descriptive – high five for this. Also, I absolutely enjoyed this incredible magnetism between Emily and Reeve, magnetism that even I have felt through the pages – so fantabulously described was it. And the story ends with a killer cliffhanger. I haven’t seen it coming – never in a million years. So yes, I am already impatiently waiting for the second book in the series – I want to see how the story is going to end, even if it doesn’t suit my preferences.

So yes, I am in two minds about this book. Please don’t claw out my eyes out, don’t kill me, as maybe a look at the book through a perspective of a little older person might be not so bad in the end? I know that the novel already has tons of fans that appreciated it more than I did, that maybe got it more than I did. Nevertheless, I am really glad to have discovered Laurelin Paige for me, as her writing and the book took me out of my comfort zone – which is not as bad as it sounds.

GIVEAWAY!

You can win a copy of „First Touch” simply by going to my Twitter site and following the instructions there. Ends on 24th January 2016. Good luck!

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The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells by Virginia Macgregor

The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells

by Virginia Macgregor

24997133

 Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 14th January 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 480

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 16th July 2016)

 

 Synopsis:

One ordinary morning, Norah walked out of her house on Willoughby Street and never looked back. Six years later, she returns to the home she walked away from only to find another woman in her place. Fay held Norah’s family together after she disappeared, she shares a bed with Norah’s husband and Norah’s youngest daughter calls Fay ‚Mummy’.

Now that Norah has returned, everyone has questions. Where has she been? Why did she leave? And why is she back? As each member of the family tries to find the answers they each need, they must also face up to the most pressing question of all – what happens to The Mother Who Stayed when The Mother Who Left comes back?

From the author of What Milo Saw, comes this powerful, emotional and perceptive novel about what it takes to hold a family together and what you’re willing to sacrifice for the ones you love.

Rating: 4/5

 

Last year I read and loved Virginia Macgregor’s debut novel „What Milo Saw” – this book was so incredibly touching and I couldn’t forget it for a long time. So impatiently and with bated breath I was waiting for my review copy of her second book, „The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells”, to finally land on my doorstep – and eventually this day came, and this beautiful, eye – catching hardcover copy reached me and my greedy mittens.

The first thing that I noticed when started „The Astonishing Return on Norah Wells” was the fact that it was so similarly built to „What Milo Saw” – the chapters were told from the main characters’ points of view, in turns, so that we got a brilliant chance to get to know their thoughts and insight into their souls. Also, the writing style, the storytelling stayed the same and you can without hesitation recognize that the author must be Virginia Macgregor – which, as it’s only her second book, I think is a fantastic thing. I love Virginia’s writing style, started to love it already when reading Milo. It’s very unique, warm and the author has a great talent to describe feelings and emotions – she can easily make you cry and in the next second smile. And there were many parts in this book that had me in tears – especially after the incident with Louis. The use of present time when telling the characters’ stories made the whole return even more realistic and the story to flow, and I don’t know, somehow it just gave me a real sense of this whole situation, the tension.

I loved how complex and not too obvious did the author make the plot, and that she allowed it to slowly untangle, all the time adding small details that were helping me to change my mind. Nevertheless, I didn’t change my opinion about one thing: about Norah thinking that she could came back home – just like that. No matter what brought her back, she had left home, her family, and disappeared, and then she came back, expecting everything to be the same, to come back where she had left. She gave the impression that she’s really surprised with the fact that her family moved on and led their lives without her. Sure, I get why she left in the first place, and the lesson she wanted to teach her husband but then she was away for 8 years. Eight years. And after coming back expected to start as if nothing happened.

The most poignant parts in the books were the chapters told from Ella and Willa’s points of view. It is amazing to what degree Virginia Macgregor was able to get into their minds and to describe their most hidden fears and feelings, and this all so wonderfully adequate to their ages. And Louis. You know me, you already know I can’t watch Disney films as I cry all the time seeing Bambi loosing his mum or Simba his dad, and it’s the same with books, no matter what happens, no matter if it’s good or bad, if there is a dog, it is programmed in advance that I’m going to cry my eyes out. I loved Louis, please move over all other dogs, he made my eyes well and my heart beat faster, and I think I am never going to forgive Virginia!

The characters were truly complex and all of them had their own personalities. I am not sure if it was intended but I sided with Fay, the Mother Who Stayed, even though the passages told by Willa did make me well a little – but there was not a single moment, not even when Norah let out why she came back, that I felt sorry for her. No. I was sharing my feelings with Ella. Even Louis couldn’t change my mind.
I guess that probably the readers are going to fell for Willa, the young, innocent Willa and her perspective, but what tugged at my heartstrings was Ella and her point of view. She grew up believing in this what wasn’t true, and when she eventually came to know this truth, it just broken her. It just put her whole world upside down. Add to this her age, her being a troubled teenager, and you have a trouble in the making – which, in my opinion, is not a wonder. She felt deceived, confused and I just wanted to hug her and tell her that everything is going to be OK. Then we have Fay, who, in my eyes, has never done anything wrong. She kept her feeling under control, she’s never done anything against her friend Norah, and then, when she thought she can be happy ever after, Norah returned. I felt so outraged!

The plot itself is not as straight – forward as we could think at first. It is full of turns and twists, and dilemmas, problems that it’s not so easy to find a solution for. It wonderfully explores the family relationships but also exposes that weakest points in those relationships. It also brilliantly shows us the difference in the straight – forward thinking of a child and the much more complex way of adults’. It brilliantly captures the differences in each person’s way to deal with the astonishing and unexpected return of Norah.

I am not sure about the end of this novel. Firstly, it seemed much too rushed, after the whole drama and the book taking place over only few days it just was too quick for my liking. Secondly, as much as I like happy ends in the books, was this not too happy? I don’t know what I was expecting but I think something different, something more challenging. Also, I couldn’t help thinking that there were passages in the book that really dragged on too much, that they were used as a filler, and I was willing the story to move on.

This story may seem chaotic on the surface, but the timing there is perfect, and all the elements of the puzzle slowly find their own right places. The author can get into characters’ worlds and into their heads and then put their thoughts into words for us to read. „The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells” is a family story, and Virginia Macgregor truly knows what it is that makes a family, gets right through to the heart of it. It is a very perceptive novel about love, hope and forgiveness and I really enjoyed it.