The Silk Merchant’s Daughter by Dinah Jeffries

The Silk Merchant’s Daughter

by Dinah Jeffries

 

Publisher: Penguin UK

Publishing Date: 25th February 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback | Paperback  (out on 14.07.2016)

 

 Synopsis:

Dinah Jefferies’ stunning new novel is a gripping, unforgettable tale of a woman torn between two worlds…

1952, French Indochina. Since her mother’s death, eighteen-year-old half-French, half-Vietnamese Nicole has been living in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Sylvie. When Sylvie is handed control of the family silk business, Nicole is given an abandoned silk shop in the Vietnamese quarter of Hanoi. But the area is teeming with militant rebels who want to end French rule, by any means possible. For the first time, Nicole is awakened to the corruption of colonial rule – and her own family’s involvement shocks her to the core…

Tran, a notorious Vietnamese insurgent, seems to offer the perfect escape from her troubles, while Mark, a charming American trader, is the man she’s always dreamed of. But who can she trust in this world where no one is what they seem?

The Silk Merchant’s Daughter is a captivating tale of dark secrets, sisterly rivalry and love against the odds, enchantingly set in colonial era Vietnam.

Rating: 4/5

 

So. Dinah Jeffries. I’ve heard so many prizes about her books and I was really desperate to see what it is all about. I haven’t managed to read „The Tea Planter’s Wife” yet, even though I have it on my shelf, but when the beautiful review copy of „The Silk Merchant’s Daughter” arrived, I put everything away and started reading this novel. It is a historical fiction, set in the French Indochina, touching upon many issues that bothered people living in those countries in those dangerous times, when the nationalist Vietminth fought the governing French, but with enough touch of women’s fiction in it as well.

Though right at the beginning I had huge problems to get into this book. It dragged on so much, there was almost nothing happening and I couldn’t understand what was the problem with Sylvie. I even had a moment that I wanted to put the book away for some time later but I convinced myself to give it a go. And – luckily – after this long and a little spiritless start the book gained pace and I found myself really hooked. The middle part of the story was, in my opinion, the most interesting part of it, even though I’d love to see more, much more, of Natalie’s escape from the Vietminth – in comparison to the long beginning this part of the story was so short, and it could be so interesting! Somehow, the end was also not my favourite part of the novel, I don’t know why, I can’t put my finger on it, but it seemed just too Disney – like in comparison with the whole story.
What I adored in this book is the setting. I mean, how often do you read books set in Vietnam? Me – not often. In fact, never. And I’ve read all those descriptions of nature, the Vietnameses, their everyday life, work, their traditions and the way they lived holding my breath – they were so incredibly vivid and the author brought all of this to life.

The author so wonderfully captured the dangerous times, and Nicole – as we focus on Nicole, as she’s the main character – feeling so insecure, as she was half Vietnamese and half French, and in the end she didn’t fit anywhere. The tension, the danger, the feeling of not being able to trust were so palpable through the pages and there were truly moments that I was cared to turn the page, as I was scared that something really bad is going to happen – and I also wasn’t sure from where and when the danger may come, as mostly I really didn’t know who I can trust and who I can’t, and after some time it made me a little tired and I started to feel paranoid. I thought I can trust a person, but then, only a few pages later, I found myself changing my mind, I found myself thinking and wondering. I didn’t know if I can trust Nicole’s father, Sylvie, Mark and I really wouldn’t have liked to be in Nicole’s shoes, all the time wondering who’s the friend and who’s the foe. The only person she could turn to was Lisa. I warmed to Nicole almost from the beginning of the book. I hated to see how much of a spare person in the family she felt, and how much both her father and her sister confirmed her in this belief. I liked the mentions that sometimes she was light – headed and quick – tempered, and that she made some mistakes, which only made her feel much more realistic and much more likeable than the perfect and stiff Sylvie. Moreover, Nicole was a very dynamic character, and we were witnesses to her changing mentally, to her maturing. The author really tried her out, tested her strength and powers that Nicole didn’t know she has in her. Sure, she made mistakes, but in my opinion those mistakes were connected with the fact that she, just like us, didn’t know whom to trust. We can see the transformation in her, see how she finds herself.
I couldn’t warm to Sylvie at all. There is a sibling rivalry, but I think Sylvie took it to totally different level, as she really aimed in making Nicole feel unwanted and for blaming her for their mother’s death. She was manipulative and she trampled over people. But even if it took me more time to warm to some of the characters, or not warm at all, they were all brilliantly drawn, with their own distinctive voices and they get under my skin, no matter if I wanted them to or not.
This book is about loyalty, trust, corruption, betrayal, hope and drama – a lot for one book, but the author has really managed to turn it into encompassing, hooking and different story. I was really immersed in the characters’ lives, I could feel the danger, and I fell in love with the descriptions – they were so vivid, and I had no problems to picture all of them or even to smell the flavours or to imagine the delicate quality of the silk Nicole was selling in her shop.

A really great idea was the outline of the times to the French Indochina history at the beginning of the book – as I’ve mentioned, I know about this time in the history but I didn’t go into detail about it so much and it is not as well known to me as some other parts of the world’s history, and it gave me a great insight and also I was able to come back to it when I wasn’t sure what and why was happening.

The author has brilliantly showed the atmosphere of the Vietnam’s countryside that she’s describing in the story. The descriptions of the surroundings, and also of the background characters, such as for example Yvette, Yves and Tran’s cousin were incredibly vivid and powerful, and it was just visible how much work and heart the author put in every detail. Also, the political situation of those time plays a great role in this novel, but Dinah Jeffries has managed to really skilfully weave it into the storyline, and even though I often found it a challenge to keep up with so much policy in fiction, this time I didn’t feel overwhelmed with too many facts, though I must admit there were moments I really didn’t know who is the bad guys and who is the good guys, and who was fighting who.

„The Silk Merchant’s Daughter” is incredibly clever, eloquent – the author has incredible way with the words – powerhouse of a book, full of emotions and difficult decisions, a love story in the brutal world of war and political tensions. The novel is a great mix of cultural issues, difficult times, trust and secrets, that created a hooking world that I gladly dived into. Dinah Jeffries has just won herself a fan – I’m really happy that I can get back to her two previous books, when waiting for her new novel.

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Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

Blueprints

by Barbara Delinsky

 

Publisher: Piatkus

Publishing Date: 25th February 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 512

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback | Hardcover

 

 Synopsis:

Home is where the heart is … but what happens when a mother and daughter are forced to question everything they thought they knew about themselves? Don’t miss the next novel from beloved bestselling author Barbara Delinsky, who „combines her understanding of human nature with absorbing, unpredictable storytelling (Publishers Weekly)” in ways that no reader will soon forget.

Jamie MacAfee’s life is almost perfect. She loves her fiancée, even if she hasn’t quite worked out why she won’t set a wedding date and she certainly adores her job, working as an architect on their family home renovation show. Meanwhile, her beloved mother Caroline has built up her confidence after a painful divorce, working closely alongside her daughter as the very successful host of Gut It!. Everything is going to plan, until the lives of both women are changed overnight.

When the TV network plan to replace Caroline with Jamie as the show’s host, Caroline is left feeling horribly betrayed – and old in the eyes of the world. Then tragedy strikes, leaving Jamie guardian to her small orphaned step-brother and fiancée to a man who doesn’t want the child.

Rating: 3/5

 

„Blueprints” is my first read by Barbara Delinsky, I am totally new to this author, though I can see she has a great list of books already, and a great bunch of committed fans. I was really looking forward to reading this book, as I truly liked the sound of it, and you know how much I like discovering new – to me – authors. I will be really happy to read her other works in the future.

I think I guess what the author wanted to achieve here, showing the women all independent and providing for themselves, unfortunately, it didn’t work so much in the story, as they usually achieved their goals with the help, either of their mum or a man. Wherever they went, the men went with, and it started to frustrate me a little, as they were totally capable of achieving everything on their own. Then Jamie, who suddenly landed as a stay – at – home mum, immediately started to appreciate such mums, but the first thing she did was to find a baby – sitter.

I really like a pace in a book, but the situations here seemed to be like an avalanche, when one thing happened, hundred more were coming as well, and it was too much, too quick, as you didn’t have time to process one event, with the next already happening. Sometimes, you know, less is more, especially when the writing style was so soapy – opera-ish. I had a feeling that when I turn the page a new drama is going to happen, and I was a little overwhelmed with this all. Moreover, it was mostly too far – fetched for my liking, and also the dialogues didn’t help – they were so predictable, and so choppy sometimes.

The characters find themselves in many new situations and even though sometimes I didn’t support their decisions, they did deal with them in the way that they thought was best for them. They needed to made up some very important decisions, decisions that were not so obvious and not so easy, and I liked those parts of the book. I couldn’t warm to the male characters in this story – they were the stereotyped bread – winners, they wanted to decide about everything and nothing could happen without them. For me they were like pashas, the alfa – males, and it was so, so, so predictable! But there was also a good thing in the characters, especially Jamie, who at the beginning seemed to have it all, to have everything under control, orderly, and then suddenly, out of the blue, her situation changed totally – I liked to see how she was coming to terms with those changes.

Sadly, somehow I couldn’t get into this book, to connect with the characters as much as I’d like. I was overwhelmed with the flowery writing style, with the descriptions, with the not so realistic dialogues, stereotyped characters, predictability and drama, baby, drama. On the other hand, I enjoyed the book, as I enjoyed the strong bond between the family and the main message in this story that was to show what’s really important in our lives. So yes, I am a little torn, am a little in two minds.

What I liked in the book is that the author has brilliantly captured the strong bond between Jamie and Caroline. They are not only mother and daughter, but they are best friends, and this relationship is so natural and genuine. Also, Ms Delinsky shows cracks and problems in this relationship, which makes it even more honest, because no relationship is flawless, and also shows how to overcome the problems and stay strong for each other.

The story touches upon some important issues, such as loyalty or ageism, but mostly it’s about family and love, and it also explores the challenges the working women must face, no matter if at home or at work. It shows Jamie, trying to find her own feet in a totally new and a very unexpected situation, it shows Caroline coming to terms with superstitions and stereotypes, and their story of friendship and love. It is about changes and , in fact, the saying if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans would really suit this storyline. Altogether, not this what I was expecting but interesting read.

 

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The Woman Who Upped and Left by Fiona Gibson

Oh, guys! I am so excited to be kicking off Blog Tour for Fiona Gibson’s brand new shiny novel, „The Woman Who Upped and Left„. And what a brilliant Blog Tour it is! There will be cooking, baking, talking about the book… Just sit back comfortably, enjoy and follow the blog tour!

When the lovely Helena asked people if they want to join the Blog Tour, I didn’t hesitate – I love Fiona Gibson and her novels. But this time the lovely Helena also asked if people want to do something different – namely, the main character in the book, Audrey, goes on a cooking course, and not any normal cooking course, but in French cuisine. The course is supposed to change her life – did it? Well, you must read the book and see! Nevertheless, there are some lovely recipes in the story, and the idea was that the bloggers will cook them. I thought, oh hell, why not, lovely Helena, send me my recipe before I change my mind (I thought, mmmm, maybe some delicious lemon tarte? But NO MUSSELS. NO MUSSELS please. Though knowing my luck those were going to be mussels that I should cook). But then my recipe came. Those were NOT MUSSELS. Here is what I cooked.

Soupe à l’oignon

Everyone knows cheese and onion are made for each other . . .

Ingredients

90g unsalted butter

8 onions, finely sliced

2 tbsp plain flour

6 tbsp red wine

150ml white wine

1 tsp sugar

4 slices baguette

2 tbsp olive oil

150g cheese, grated

Method

• Melt the butter in a saucepan and gently sauté the onions until soft and translucent.

• In a heatproof jug, mix the wines and 1.5 litres of boiling water.

• Sprinkle the onions with flour and stir, then pour the liquid over the onions and stir again.

• Simmer gently for 15–20 minutes, skimming any impurities from the surface. Add a little more boiling water if your soup is looking too thick. Add the sugar and season to taste.

• To make the croutons, rub one side of the baguette slices with olive oil and sprinkle with grated cheese. Grill until bubbling.

• Pour the soup into bowls, float the croutons on top and enjoy.

I have never before cooked or ate onion soup, so I was a little sceptical. Nevertheless, I prepared everything and started cooking. And guys, believe me, it was one of the easiest recipes in my life (I love cooking. And baking), and the soup tasted delicious! (PS. Aren’t those images GEORGEOUS??? Aren’t they? And they are made by Fiona Gibson herself! I love them!).

Of course I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t change something, but it is cooking, not baking, where you must follow the recipe exactly, and even with my changes the soup was brilliant. Très bon! And voilà!

 

A Night In with Audrey Hepburn by Lucy Holliday

A Night In with Audrey Hepburn

by Lucy Holliday

 

Publisher: Harper

Publishing Date: 21st May 2015

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Series: Libby Lomax #1

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 Synopsis:

Actress Libby Lomax has retreated into the world of classic movies, where the immortal lives of her favourite screen goddesses seem to offer so much more in the romance department than her own life.

After a terrible day on set where she embarrasses herself in front of the entire cast and worst of all, it’s sexy bad-boy star, Dillon O’Hara, she plonks herself down on her battered couch to watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the trillionth time.

Suddenly, Libby is astonished to find screen icon Audrey Hepburn, complete with little black dress, trademark sunglasses and vintage cigarette holder, sitting beside her and proffering advice.
Has Libby got what it takes to turn her life from a Turkey to a Blockbuster? Perhaps with a little bit of Audrey Hepburn magic, she might just pull it off…

A night in with Audrey Hepburn is the first in a series of three books following the life and loves of Libby Lomax as she blossoms from Z-lister to A-lister and all of the stages in between with a little bit of help from some very special friends.

Rating: 4/5

 

Oh guys, it’s been a while since I’ve read such a light – hearted, funny book! It was just what the doctor ordered and it brought me out from the reading slump and helped a little to cheer me up. I am probably reading too many books, and lately they must be really special, they must have this „something”, to keep my interest – and „A Night In with Audrey Hepburn” was just like this, just what I needed.

So the book. Yes, I must admit, it started a little slow for my liking, but quickly it gathered pace. I must also admit, and as you already know it, I am not the biggest fan of cinema, no matter if it’s the old classics or something modern – I’d rather read books :) But I can understand the whole fascination with those beautiful, exceptional old Hollywood actresses, and in this case, with Audrey Hepburn.

In short, Libby’s life looks disastrous. She has a family that doesn’t support her, mother and sister interested only in their own careers, and a father that isn’t interested in her at all. She has (or doesn’t have, it depends!) a job that she hates. She’s just moved into a flat that she thought is much bigger and has a bathroom. But does Libby wallow in self – pity? Oh no, and this is what I so adored in her. She is incredibly prone to accident and if something is supposed to happen, then you can be sure it’s going to happen to Libby. We were witnesses to plenty of very embarrassing situations with Libby in the centre.
Whenever Libby’s mother or sister entered the scenes I wanted to bang their heads together – it is amazing how many negative feelings they brought out in me. First Libby’s mum, who not only forced Libby to pursue career as an actress, but who also treated her like a servant. And those were the moments that I also wanted to shake Libby – she was too nice, too submissive and she wasn’t able to stand for herself up against those two selfish women. I mean, I would never speak with my sister if she treated me like Cass treated Libby in the club. I think I would kill her and then stop speaking with her. But Libby… No, Libby was ready to run errands for her after she treated her this way. A little too far – fetched for my liking, though I can imagine it’s possible! But I just wanted Libby to grow a back – bone and to tell Cass some words of wisdom. Libby was just what you can call a dogsbody for her family.
But Libby has also friends! She’s not alone in this world, oh no, and those friends are Olly and his sister that she got to know years ago, during one of the castings. I loved seeing that this developed in such a strong friendship, and Olly, you know, Olly was brilliant. And I can see things that Libby doesn’t see, so there (can’t wait for the next part to see if I’m right. Or not. I do hope that I’m right)! Sometimes Olly seemed to be a little childish, as he was jumping to the wrong conclusion, and was very easy to offend, but altogether I have a feeling there is so much more to him – he seemed a little lost in the world but it was charming.
We have also Bogdan, and Bogdan, Son of Bogdan among the characters, and they were hilarious, and believe me, no matter if those were main or backgrounds characters they were all so expressive, larger than life people with large personalities, and I didn’t have a problem to connect with them, which made the reading even more easier and nicer.
There is also this big old sofa that turns out to be one of the main characters in this novel. It almost doesn’t past in the flat, and it’s seen better days, as it’s now smelly and lost the colour, but soon Libby is going to discover some secret connected with this old, battered Chesterfield.

You can say, seeing Audrey Hepburn??? What??? THIS Audrey Hepburn, giving our Libby advice and learning how to work coffee machine and getting to know internet? Just like that, without any reason? Yes, I am also sceptical, but believe me, this time it worked incredibly well!

What is great is the fact that the book is the first in the series, and „A Night In with Marilyn Monroe” is already waiting for me! This was a great, enjoyable novel, a light read with many funny scenes, such as the ones including the alien suit or the incident in the spa, or Libby being sure that she has the terminal split personality disorder. It is written in a very nice, easy to follow writing style, brilliantly capturing the funny, fluffy atmosphere. And even this unusual storyline, with Audrey appearing out of nowhere, worked wonders and I bought it completely. Looking forward to more from Lucy Holliday.

Kitty’s Countryside Dream by Christie Barlow

Kitty’s Countryside Dream

by Christie Barlow

 

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 25th February 2016

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

Number of pages: 309

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 Synopsis:

New home. New life. New beginning. Love affairs can blossom in the most unlikely places . . .
When Kitty inherits Bluebell Lodge from her grandmother, a farm in the beautiful Staffordshire countryside, it’s time for fresh air and a fresh start. Up to her elbows in chickens and ponies, Kitty soon realises there’s an awful lot to learn about farming. Still, at least the locals seem friendly, not least her handsome neighbour Tom…

But just as Kitty is beginning to find her feet, and the possibility of love, the discovery of a long-hidden diary, by a mysterious character called Violet changes everything. Who is Violet and what is her message for Kitty? As Kitty fills in the lost pieces of her family jigsaw and discovers some shocking revelations, will her countryside dream and blossoming relationship fall to pieces? When it comes to life in the country, nothing is ever quite as it seems …

A heart warming, moving and funny tale, perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley and Cathy Bramley.

Rating: 3/5

 

So there. Judging the book by its cover, I’ve been expecting a funny, sunny, uplifting read, a read that will make me smile. Sadly, it was not the case, as the story didn’t even rise the smallest smile from me. Its tagline says: ” feel good romantic comedy about life, love and family” – I am very sorry, but as much as it was about life, love and family, for me it was not a romantic comedy. It also didn’t make me cry, and I really appreciate when my books either make me smile or cry, and if not than at least awake some emotions in me. I’m sorry if it sounds harsh, but this is what I feel about „Kitty’s Countryside Dream” – I was all the time thinking where is the story? Because first half of the book is about chickens, different breeds of chickens and how to breed them, keep them and make them happy, and as much as I love animals, the chickens somehow didn’t keep my interest. Then suddenly the story makes an almost full – circle turn and the last quarter is about Kitty digging deep and discover hidden secrets. I’m not sure how does it sit together?

But if it weren’t for the second part, I think my review would end with rating the book with 2 stars. Really, the cover and the blurb have deceived me a little. I am truly, really sad to tell you that the book itself wasn’t my cup of tea. I am not sure why – but I just couldn’t warm to the plot, couldn’t connect with the characters. There was a lot happening in the story, that’s true, but I really have a feeling that the book was divided into two parts that had nothing to do with each other. I had a problem with Kitty, the main character and also the narrator in this story, who for me was very self – concentrated, whingey and she pitied herself. Sure, she’s been through a lot, and she’s going to discover some secrets that are to shake her up even more, but still, she felt too immature for my liking. OK, she was young, but nevertheless, even from a young person one can expect some maturity and not only seeing her crying over everything, being upset because a guy she’s just met and liked didn’t jump at her immediately, and jumping to wrong conclusions all the time. I think I liked the secondary characters much more, Robin and Jeannie and Lucinda, they were great and I felt I had more in common with them than with Kitty. I would really love to hear more about Lucinda, with her bakery – she seemed really interesting and warm, and I have a feeling there was much more to her than we got. Nevertheless, all of them, plus Tom, who was managing the farm, made a group of great friends, they truly bonded and you could see that they felt well in each other’s company.

But that’s just me, and I can already see that the book is catching on many fans, which is a brilliant thing, The part on the chicken farm was unfortunately totally not for me, the part with the secret diary I liked more, but in comparison to the beginning that focused so much on the chickens etc, it felt too short, too neglected and too rushed. Nevertheless, at least the things seemed to pick up and gathered pace. But in the end I must really appreciate that „Kitty’s Countryside Dream” turned out to be a moving story about family and friends. Kitty’s life turned upside down and she learnt a lot, she faced her demons. And the lesson that I learnt from this book is that there is unconditional love. We often take love that surrounds us for granted but it may turn out that the people who give us this love might have fought for it we have no idea what price have been paid for it. You know, I really can see what the author wanted to achieve, and I am sure that for most of the readers the book is going to be a cosy, heart – warming, touching read.

The Cosy Teashop in the Castle by Caroline Roberts

The Cosy Teashop in the Castle

by Caroline Roberts

 

Publisher: HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 25th February 2016

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

Number of pages: 257

Genre: Women’s Literature, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 Synopsis:

When Ellie Hall lands her dream job running the little teashop in the beautiful but crumbling Claverham Castle, it’s the perfect escape from her humdrum job in the city. Life is definitely on the rise as Ellie replaces spreadsheets for scones, and continues her Nanna’s brilliant baking legacy.

When Lord Henry, the stick-in-the-mud owner, threatens to burst her baking bubble with his old-fashioned ways, Ellie wonders if she might have bitten off more than she can chew. But cupcake by cupcake she wins the locals over, including teashop stalwart, Doris, and Ellie’s showstopping bakes look set to go down in castle history!

Now all that’s missing in Ellie’s life is a slice of romance – can Joe, the brooding estate manager, be the one to put the cherry on the top of Ellie’s dream?

 Rating: 4/5

 

It seems that I can’t have enough books with food being so important part of the plot. Here only one look at this beautiful cover and the lovely title made me fell in love with this novel, and I desperately wanted to read it. But be warned! There are some delicious food descriptions, so it’s better if you don’t read it when hungry! Or just bake some cake and have it to hand :)

I liked the idea of the book. It’s simple and yet it works. Ellie needs a new, fresh start and what’s better way to start than far away from home and memories? She manages to get a leasing on Teashop in Lord Henry’s Castle, and even though she loves cooking and baking, she has no idea about the business – side of the whole enterprise. Nevertheless, she’s desperate to give it a go – will she manage to attract new customers? To convince the sceptical Lord Henry that she’s worth the chance? Find a new life at Claverham Castle?

The setting for this novel was lovely, I truly adored the descriptions of the castle, and even the occasional ghost there :) Also, I absolutely enjoyed when Ellie and Joe went from time to time for walks – the scenery was beautiful.

There was also a small bunch of interesting characters in the novel. Perhaps they were not the ones that will engrave themselves in my memory for ever, but they suited the novel totally and absolutely, and I liked them all, even though I’d love more depth to them – they were very straight – forward but still they were very enjoyable and felt realistic, especially our main character, Ellie. She had her demons, she was scared and yet she wasn’t afraid to leave her old life behind and move forward. She learnt a lot throughout the whole story.

For me the book is like divided into two parts: the first one is about Ellie starting with the Tea Shop in the castle, and even though I have expected some more troubles waiting for her there, maybe some problems with the waitresses, some more scenes happening there, just more from the TeaShop itself, I liked reading about it, it was interesting, light – hearted and also funny. Then the second part is about Ellie falling for Joe, and to be totally honest, this has spoiled the story for me. I couldn’t clock the chemistry, there were no sparkles between those two in my opinion, it felt a little too forced, too pushed, and I couldn’t understand what problem did Joe has in fact.

„The Cosy Teashop in the Castle” is an easy, not too challenging novel that is not going to stay with you for long, yet I have spent some entertaining, carefree hours in its company, and I enjoyed reading it. I think it was the overwhelming feeling of cosiness that made this book so special and so nice to read. It was written in a very accessible way and I felt as if the words are being whispered in my ear. It is a light read that also touches upon some more sad and important issues, and I like how this all wonderfully blended with each other. Altogether, a very nice, uplifting read.

The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney

The Day I Lost You

by Fionnuala Kearney

 

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 11th February 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 26. 09. 2016)

 Synopsis:

‘Incredibly moving, it’s beautifully written and page-turning’ Susan Lewis

The second poignant and heartrending novel from the Irish Times bestselling author, Fionnuala Kearney.

When Jess’s daughter, Anna, is reported lost in an avalanche, everything changes.

Left to explain her mother’s absence to Anna’s five-year-old daughter, Rose, Jess isn’t yet ready to admit to herself that her daughter might not be coming back. But Anna’s disappearance dredges up some life changing questions: Jess must uncover her daughter’s secret life – and unearth a secret that changes her world irrevocably.

The day I lost you was the day I discovered your secret life.

The day I lost you was the day you tore our family apart.

The perfect emotional and absorbing story for fans of Jojo Moyes and David Nicholls.

Rating: 5/5

 

So, it is with a great regret but I haven’t read Fionnuala’s debut novel yet – and yet is the operative word! I have heard so many prizes about „You, Me and Other People” and after reading „The Day I Lost You” I could have find out by myself why people love this author so much, even though she has written only two books – well, „The Day I Lost You” is enough for me, as after reading it Ms Kearney has catapulted right to the top of my favourite authors list.

How well do we know the members of our closest family actually?

Now, about Jess. She was not as straight – forward as we could think at the beginning. I think some of her reactions or decisions were made on the spur of the moment, that some of them were even false but on the other hand, she was grieving, and I think we all react just like she did when we’re grieving. It only made her normal and real in my eyes. And really, while sometimes she seemed to be very emotional, I felt for her. She was convinced her life is a truly normal one but she had no idea what skeletons are hidden in her – or rather her daughter’s – closet, and that mostly she will have to clean this mess. It looked like that no matter which door she’s going to open, her daughter Anna has left more and more of her secrets, and the first one was just the beginning, and those feelings of confusion, disbelief and also betrayal that Jess felt were so greatly captured by the author.

I was totally, absolutely concerned and sold with the whole Jess’s family, especially with Leah and Gus. They were so incredibly supporting, and even though they tried to live normal, to come to terms with reality and everyday problems, there was always this word or two of consolation, small gestures that showed how much they love Jess, how much they feel sorry and that she can count on them. That is, till one moment in the book, and here we’re arriving at one of the twists that I haven’t seen coming. It took me totally, unexpectedly by surprise, it happened totally out of the blue. Because, you see, quickly, very quickly, I was absolutely sure that I guessed who Rose’s father is. All the writings on the wall were indicating him. I wasn’t sure what I think about it, as I also grow to like this character, but nevertheless, I was thousand per cent sure I got him right. Yes, I had one small moment of hesitation, when I thought that my way of thinking has some loop – holes but still, I was sure that’s him. So imagine please my surprise when the author, with one simple sentence, one simple question, told me that I was wrong! Really, high five to Fionnuala Kearney for taking me so much by surprise and yet making this so logical – now, in perspective, I can see it couldn’t be different. I really haven’t expected this bombshell – and I truly love it, when the author can spring such revelation on me, a revelation that I wasn’t expecting and that shocked me completely, and made me not sure how the story is going to develop after this.

The first part of the book is told through Jess and Theo’s points of view, together with Anna’s entries from her blog, while later it mostly focuses on Jess’s point of view. I liked how the author switched the narrative, how I was able to get really into the heart of the stories and to learn the story from all sides. The characters felt very real, true, they were not flawless, and I didn’t have any problem to connect with them or to relate to them, and the author has really put them through the mill! They had depth, all of them and were written very realistically and I had a feeling I am right there, by their sides.

„The Day I Lost You” is an incredibly well – plotted, powerful and intense novel and yet those feelings are not too overwhelming, they don’t make the book too hard too read. No, on the contrary, they are palpable through the pages but the writing style, the feelings of empathy make it so easy to read. And when we are by the writing style, it was incredible – some authors have this talent to write emotional novels but in a simple way, when you are just galloping through the pages, when you don’t feel tired, you just want to know what’s going to happen and you don’t want to put the book down for a single second – it was like this with „The Day I Lost You”. From the very beginning to the very end, this book held me tight, had me hooked, as I simply wanted to know how it’s going to end, in all aspects. And soon I have started to fear Anna’s entries to the blog, as there was always something new, a new fact.

Yes, this story was heart – breaking, especially the family aspect. It showed how vulnerable we are, and how, in fact, we are nothing without the support of our family and best, proven friends. It shows how easily the bonds can be broken, despite them being so strong, but also that sometimes those bonds are unbreakable, no matter what, and I mean here not only Jess and her sister, but also Rose and Sean. It was really uplifting.

This story has simply it all. It had twists and turns, there are some very unexpected and shocking revelations. It is written in this best way of writing style, this gentle, subtle way and you immediately feel like a part of the characters’ worlds. „The Day I Lost You” moved me, it is a kind of a book that you can’t forget, long after reading the last page, it is unpredictable. It deals with so many issues, it deals with heartbreak, with betrayal and lies, and the characters are deep down there, with all those issues, they are there for each step, and we are not sure if it was the last revelation, or if there is still something for them to discover and deal with. It was just a brilliant read – highly recommended! (And it is such a great feeling to know that there is „You, Me and Other People” waiting there for me to be read!)