The Intruder by P.S. Hogan – #BlogTour

Hi guys – today is the last day of January – did you also have the feeling that it is the longest month ever? Awfully long. It’s great that we have some great books to read at least.

And of of such great books is for sure “The Intruder” by P.S. Hogan. I am deep into the story and guys, really, it’s so creepy and so unputdownable, keep your eyes peeled for my review in the next days. Today I have a post about the inspiration for the book. I always worry that the inspiration – question is the most cliched one but I am also always incredibly curious what has driven the authors to write the stories. So here it is – enjoy!

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The Inspiration for THE INTRUDER

 

It’s hard to pin down the moment that William Heming sprang into being. You could say he coalesced rather than sprang, though there must have been a point in the thinking process when he started to seem knowable; a point where you might predict what he would do next. Like most fictional characters, Heming is a product as much of accident as design, knocked and pulled together by other elements of a book in its endless early making and unmaking – its still-shaky structure, unsettled foundations, and other unformed characters all bumping about trying to get noticed.

One of the illusions of having completed your book is to persuade yourself that the characters you created were there all along; that you just had to make them talk and maybe kill or have sex with one another. The truth is that for much of the time you’re closing your eyes and ears and hoping for the best. Unless that’s just me. I won’t pretend that a lot of the process didn’t involve spiking the drinks of my friends, dragging them to a dark cell (or corner of a pub) and forcing them to help me out of some inescapable narrative hole I had dug for myself.

My wife once told me about a cousin or aunt or sister-in-law who’d had a ceramic artwork stolen from her house. The house had been up for sale and the culprit, it turned out much later, was a man showing buyers around the place on behalf of the estate agent. It turned out too (perhaps he had appeared in court – I don’t know) that the man was a retired policeman. Apparently, it is not uncommon for agents to retain trusted, personable individuals to open up properties on an ad hoc basis.

Our man seemed interesting. The ceramic artwork had not been worth much – but then perhaps nothing he had stolen was worth much (I assumed the thieving had become a habit). I started to wonder what deep-lying psychological impulse was behind his behaviour. Maybe he had been drummed out of the force unfairly and wanted some sort of twisted revenge – certainly that was a way into a novel. Perhaps he had it in his mind to commit crimes, and then – yes! – solve them, to the astonishment of his slow-witted former colleagues, perhaps with the finger of blame left pointing at some real corrupt officer of the law. I really didn’t want to write about a policeman, though.

I wanted to write about someone ordinary, or rather someone who looked ordinary but wasn’t. And, given that, wouldn’t it be simpler, I thought, just to make a thief out of an estate agent himself – a person who had access to other people’s houses all the time? Thievery was not enough though. Other acts of mischief came to mind. I dwelt for some time on that notion of revenge – or, more attractive, that spirit of the citizen vigilante whereby one man might utterly destroy another man’s morale and life as punishment for crimes against good manners. (Some of that spirit remains, of course.)

For a long time, too, I envisaged Heming as a conventionally weird villain, but this unhelpfully kept suggesting a focus on the detective trying to track him down – the dogged pursuer finally kicking down the door of Heming’s secret lair to reveal his gleaming, obsessive secrets. Eventually I realized the boot was on the wrong foot. It was Heming who needed to tell the story. It was he who needed to do the revealing. And the questions would be more fundamental. What was his story? Where had he come from? What was his problem? And – what consistency could I bring to his character as a result of finding out these things?

Anyway, that was the beginning. That’s when Heming moved in, hollowing out a space in my head – the dusty attic of my idling thoughts – creating doubt and havoc, fiddling with the lights, making a nonsense of my great ideas when I was asleep or making me forget things at the supermarket. That was him as he turned out: insidious, discreet– and so quiet, of course, you wouldn’t have known he was there at all.

 P. S. Hogan

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The Guilty Wife by Elle Croft

The Guilty Wife by Elle Croft

 

35478368Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 25th January 2018

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: Thriller, Psychological Suspense

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

WIFE. MISTRESS. MURDERER.

If you were being framed for murder, how far would you go to clear your name?

The debut psychological thriller that reads as Apple Tree Yard meets Behind Closed Doors, by way of Double Jeopardy.

I’m not guilty of murder.

Bethany Reston is happily married. But she’s also having an affair with a famous client.

And no one can ever know.

But that doesn’t make me innocent.

When Bethany’s lover is brutally murdered, she has to hide her grief from everyone.

But someone knows her secret. And then one day the threats begin.

With an ever-growing pile of evidence pointing to her as the murderer, the only way she can protect her secrets is to prove her innocence. And that means tracking down a killer.

An incredibly taut, tense game of cat and mouse – with a twist you’ll never see coming.

Rating: four-stars

In “The Guilty Wife” we meet Bethany Reston. She has a very happy marriage and she loves her husband Jason but she also loves her lover, a married millionaire businessman Calum. Bethany also runs her own business, she’s a photographer, and is doing rather well, and this is how she got to know Calum – through work. Bethany loves both men and she’s torn, she doesn’t want to hurt Jason, and Calum… well, he isn’t planning on leaving his wife, they lead an open marriage and it satisfies both him and his wife. But then Calum is stabbed to death and here is when Bethany’s trauma starts – she knows she’d be a primes suspect as his mistress when this knowledge comes to light, so she decides to hide away from the police. For how long? And who has really killed Calum? And why?

There were not many characters introduced to us in this story but thanks to that we were able to know them better and it made the whole novel even more gripping as we knew that the killer is among them. They were unreliable and good liars and you could trust no one. The whole story was told from Bethany’s point of view and yes, a few times it crossed my mind that maybe she IS the killer, and is trying to pull the wool over our eyes. She spends the whole story trying to prove her innocence and well, I think it’s impossible to not to fell for her at some point, even though she was a little egoistic liar and full of herself. I don’t think she has brought this all upon herself by having the affair, though of course I am not justifying the affair, it was obvious she’s being framed and honestly this knowledge awoke all kind of emotions in me – I was angry on her behalf, scared, furious… you name it, I probably felt it. And then this final twist… Urgh, guys…! SO ANNOYING!

It was fascinating to watch how the web around Bethany is closing and how she can’t trust anybody. As she knows she’s innocent, she tries to investigate on her own and starts to suspect everybody closest to her and those who were around Calum. I really didn’t know whom to trust as well, to be honest. It looked as if her life started to spiral out of control by itself, and there were things happening, such as dead flowers, photographs or items being left in her house without forced entry, her hacked social media accounts and it was not a wonder that Bethany was feeling paranoid – in my opinion she was really strong and remained sane for all the time, while I would probably break apart in the first second. The killer knew everything about her, and the only comfort is the love and support of her husband and her best friend Alex.

Altogether “The Guilty Wife” was a relative slow – burner but there was tension and mystery and the author has delivered a truly great psychological thriller. And this end, guys. This end. I can’t remember a story that would make me complain so loud as this one, and honestly, I can’t stop thinking about it. Such a case of duplicity… There were not many characters in this story so the suspects pool was narrowed, and the author kept hinting or messing and I really didn’t know, till the very end, who and – most importantly – why. But I’ll be honest with you, I’m not so sure about this end. It didn’t sit with me. I know, it’s controversial and thought – provoking and I so appreciate that Elle Croft didn’t chose the easiest path here but still, I think I personally would be more happy with a different end. Nevertheless, there were so many situations when the author took the story in unexpected directions. There were some – but not much – plot holes and there were moments that the book jumped quickly in times when we didn’t know what has happened in between (it was not significant, we didn’t have to know this, it’s just my own likes and dislikes and I just don’t like such jumping in time) but overall it was an original, unique and fresh read. “The Guilty Wife” was a compelling and gripping novel and I desperately wanted to know the outcome. The plot was complex and tightly woven and the author has messed with my mind all the time. Sure, the real culprit crossed my mind, I though about them but I still didn’t know about their motivations so it really took me by surprise. Recommended!

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The Girl Before by JP Delaney / #BlogTour + Guest Post

Hi guys, and happy Saturday. I was supposed to post my entry yesterday and I am so, so sorry for not doing it but I’ve spent unexpected three hours at the doctor with my daughter and I wasn’t able to think about anything other. APOLOGIES! It doesn’t usually happen and I feel really, really bad.

“The Girl Before” by JP Delaney was published in hardcover last year and this year sees the publication of the paperback. I read this book last year and let me tell you this, guys, it was one of the best books – absolutely unique, intriguing and captivating. Today I also have something very special for you – have you ever wondered how the application form to test your suitability look like? Ha, I thought so – me too! Scroll down for the guest post!

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

 

 

untitledPublisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 25th January 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection . . . but can you pay the price?

For all fans of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl comes this spellbinding Hitchcockian thriller which takes psychological suspense to the next level

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

Following in the footsteps of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, The Girl Before is being brought to the big screen. The film is set to be directed by Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard.

Rating: five-stars

When choosing a book to read I often follow my gut feeling, especially when it comes to the authors that I don’t know – although JP Delaney is a pen name for a best – selling author, and when reading “The Girl Before” I was looking for any hallmarks but I didn’t guess the real name – and when spotting this book I just had a feeling that this could be THE read. And well, yes, it turned out that I should trust my gut feeling as the book was totally engrossing and kept me glued to the pages. “The Girl Before” was a provocative, incredibly smart story about controlling and manipulations, making reader to ask who is reliable there and whom shall we trust.

Now. “The Girl Before”. We can start debating who the hell would go and live voluntarily in a house with 200 stipulations including no pets (no way), no children, no cushions, no curtains, no personal things on the floor, no books (hello?). And yet they signed on the dotted line. The house itself is an example of minimalism and the latest and best home technology, adjusting itself to the weather, temperature and probably the mood of the inhabitants. Originally designed by Edward Monkton as his family home but there was an accident on the site when his wife and his young son died. Also, he is the one who, after interviewing the prospective renters, is to decide if they’re going to live there or not. Weird, no? Who in their right mind would go for something like this? I wouldn’t, and I don’t want to go into this debate, but I thought that it is a brilliant and unique idea and premise for a book. For me the book sounded unique, not like others books that I read, and the only thing that didn’t work so good for me was the end, that sounded too Disney-like and somehow didn’t sit with the book. However, this is probably the only thing that I’m going to criticise. There were maybe some things that made me feel uncomfortable, just like building the house on the grave or some scenes with abuse – both human and animal – but nothing that would make me cringe.

The story alternates between Emma (Then) and Jane (Now), and the chapters were short and dynamic and it also made the story flow and reading much quicker. It was also the writing that makes this book so outstanding. It is sparse, but it is incredibly hooking and just beautiful – we can say just like the house! It just feels like the house, to be honest, white and with no barriers or unnecessary things and beautiful in its frugality. The way the stories of Emma and Jane mirrored made me feel a little claustrophobic and insecure, to be honest, it brought a lot of tension and changed my perspective more than once.
I loved how the story was divided between the two points of view. Both of them were in the first person but I’ve never had a problem to see who’s speaking. Duh, the chapters did have titles with the name of the characters! I also liked the way both stories were interwoven and how quickly and effortlessly they picked up when the other has just finished. Really, as the chapters flip back and forth the similarities between the women and their lives started to feel suspicious and somehow creepy, and it was obvious that eventually I’ll start to suspect Edward as well.

I think the characters there are not created to be liked by the readers. Their decisions didn’t help to warm to them, and it is not that I had problems with the characters but I did think that both the women, Emma and Jane, were incredibly naive. There were thousands of warning bells that they chose to ignore and the way they meekly agreed to be controlled by both house and Edward was remarkable and odd. I mean, allowing a man to control your diet and exercise? No, thank you. It was even more surprising that they were like lambs because they were both relatively troubled women and they should know better.
The house on One Folgate was like a living and breathing character itself, to be honest. I really started to believe that the house is trying to destroy the ones it doesn’t approve of, that it controls the lives. It was truly extraordinary how the author managed to create this special, claustrophobic atmosphere of this place.

It is not a book that is destined to make you scared or look over your shoulder. It is a book that is destined to make you feel tension and suspense, keep you in the dark and play with your mind. It is a slow burner, this novel, but with this kind of book it shouldn’t be different – well, you can’t expect the biggest twist to be explained on the first pages, right. No, you’re expecting it to grow slowly in tension, to change tracks, to pull wool over your eyes, and “The Girl Before” just does it. However, as the circle of suspects was very limited in the novel, the end didn’t come as such a BIG surprise, although the last quarter of the story truly meddled with my mind and made me change my opinion about some characters.

Because of the slow pace it takes some time for the book to really pick up, and it happens when Jane discovers that someone died in the house before, and it also takes time for Emma to start to feel afraid. However, even with it taking time, for me it was engaging, interesting and unusual read. The way the story developed was very masterfully and skilfully plotted and organized and I absolutely admired this feeling of dread that the author smuggled onto the pages.

This is a story about secrets, lies and appearances that can often be deceiving. It is one huge rollercoaster ride full of ups and downs and there was something very special in it and I didn’t want to put it down. It is an engrossing mystery, even if the characters are not too likeable – but they don’t have to be in this kind of story. It is good enough that they are multi – layered, they are very complex and I think that no matter what, we never know if they’re telling the truth or if they’re hiding something. It was a thought – provoking, addictive and a clever read, multi – layered with many surprises and I highly recommend “The Girl Before” to you.

GUEST POST

On applying to live at One Folgate Street:

The Girl Before is a book about a house, One Folgate Street. I’ve always loved books with houses at their core, from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca to Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. This particular house is unusual because it’s been built by a minimalist architect, and in order to rent it you have to sign up to over 200 rules – everything from ‘no curtains’ to ‘no pets’ – and complete a questionnaire designed to test your suitability.

The first question in the application is ‘Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life’, which may be fair enough for a minimalist house.But as the questions go on they get more and more unusual and penetrating – things like: “Would you sacrifice yourself to save ten innocent strangers?’ and ‘What about a thousand innocent strangers?’

Many of the questions are drawn from clinical tools designed to measure things like obsessive perfectionism and moral relativism. You can take the questionnaire yourself, and see how your answers compare with other readers’ – go to

http://www.thegirlbeforebook.com/

and click on ‘Continue Application’ (you’ll need to enter an email address.)

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Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

 

36048240Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 25th January 2018

Series: Me Before You #3

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 496

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets–not all her own–that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

Rating: five-stars

I absolutely loved “Me Before You” and “After You”, I didn’t have any problems with the second books like many others seem to have, and I was incredibly excited that Jojo Moyes is bringing Louisa back to us in a book number 3. I think that it’s the same with Louisa Clark as with Becky Bloomwood – haters will hate, lovers will love. I personally belong to the latest category and Jojo Moyes could write another three or more books about Lou and I would inhale them – I love Lou, and after finishing “Still Me” there is potential for another book for me there. And reading about Ms Clark is already like meeting an old friend – a brilliant feeling.
I’ve read this book few weeks ago so theoretically I could have posted my review then but it took me till today to really write it because I was scared – that I won’t do this book a justice with my words. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t but one thing is certain, guys – it was a gorgeous, perfect read and for me personally there is really a room left for another Lou’s story.

This time Louisa embarks on a new journey to New York, where she’s supposed to work as an assistant to a very rich and very influential family. Before she’s even unpacked, she finds herself jogging through Central Park, shopping for her employer and attending social events. To say that it is a totally different life style to the one she knows from England would be an understatement. Then she gets to know Josh Ryan, who looks exactly like… well, you can guess who, and their friendship grows. Is it going to jeopardize her relationship with Sam? Is Sam going to accept the changes in Lou?

Already the first chapter had me hooked – meeting Louisa at the airport was a brilliant experience and made me laugh so much! Be prepared to see her taking New York by storm, guys. She felt like the old Louisa, but also she seemed like a new one, with her new approach with her year of saying yes, taking Will’s words and lessons to heart. I loved seeing her meeting new characters – they were all larger than life, more or less likeable, real people made of flesh and blood. They were full of flaws and faults but that made them closer to life and more real.
Lou is still Lou, lovable and quirky, and she has this ability to see things with a pinch of salt, and she also doesn’t take herself seriously. She tries to balance her personal life with her new job, which of course is not so easy, as she’s on the other side of the world. It’s almost a shock for her to find herself in the company of the Gopniks, this influential family, and her life is now so very different to the one she has left behind in England. I loved the fact that Louisa was so normal, she has made mistakes and sometimes you could question her choices, but I think this makes her even more real and relatable.

What I also adored was discovering New York together with Louisa. You could think, with so many books set in The Big Apple, what could be so exciting and fresh, but Jojo Moyes had done here an incredible job. Seeing this city through Lou’s fresh eyes was like seeing it by myself for the first time. The descriptions of the city deserve a standing ovation, it was brought to life so easily, they were vivid and full of colours and flavours.

The hidden motto of this story are Will’s words “You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live as fully as possible” – they are beautiful, pure words and I probably should have them tattooed on my forehead to finally start appreciate life just like Lou’s has done in this book. Because for me she did this – she’s come out of her comfort zones, she was taking chances and put all her eggs in one basket. Sometimes it paid off for her to be her own person, sometimes it didn’t but she didn’t give up and this is why wanted to hug her so much and tell her she’s doing so well.

I love Jojo Moyes’s writing style. It flows so easily and effortlessly, it’s chatty. It is witty, with a great dose of super humour, it’s elegant and incredibly engaging. It has immediately drawn me in and I felt like a part of the characters’ world, and I loved them like my own friends. From the word go I wanted to know what’s going to happen, I was intrigued with the Gopnik family, I wanted to know more about Agnes and see the developing relationship between Lou and Dean Martin. This is not a romance but it introduces us to so many shades of love – unconditional, honest love and what we’re capable of doing to preserve this love.

“Still Me” is a story of misunderstandings, lies, secrets, new and old friendships, broken hearts, forgiveness. It’s a real roller – coaster ride full of laughs, tears, frustrations and determination, disappointment and hope. For me this was a firm five – stars read and I would give it ten if I could – for me Jojo Moyes has done it again – written a beautiful, emotional, comforting story about brilliant characters. A story that shows that life goes on. That we don’t have to forget to live and be happy, we can live with happy and fond memories. That moving on is painful and can hurt but in the end it is worth it. That we have choices and that we can’t give up because the remedy or help can come in the most unexpected moment. It’s full of charm and kindness, but this is also Louisa’s way. She is not perfect, our Lou, but she’s relatable in the way she acts. She’s genuine, as well as the other characters in the story.

So let’s live boldly, people.

The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

 

35890882Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 11th January 2018

Series: The Island of Mure #2

Source:  Received in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 412

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Dreams start here…

‘Charming, made me long to escape to Mure. Total joy.’ – Sophie Kinsella

On the quayside next to the Endless Beach sits the Summer Seaside Kitchen. It’s a haven for tourists and locals alike, who all come to eat the freshest local produce on the island and catch up with the gossip. Flora, who runs the cafe, feels safe and content – unless she thinks too hard about her relationship with Joel, her gorgeous but emotionally (and physically) distant boyfriend.

While Flora is in turmoil about her relationship. her best friend Lorna is pining after the local doctor. Saif came to the island as a refugee, having lost all of his family. But he’s about to get some shocking news which will change everything for him.

As cold winter nights shift to long summer days, can Flora find her happy-ever-after with Joel?

Rating: five-stars

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Lately Jenny Colgan was proving with her every new release what a brilliant author she is, and each of her book was better than the previous one. However, with “The Endless Beach”, she has probably outdone herself – this book is perfect in every way. I would go that far and say that it’s probably Jenny Colgan’s best yet. This book has fulfilled all of my expectations and more. It is heart – warming, uplifting, emotional and incredibly realistic, and written in this brilliant and unmatchable Jenny Colgan’s writing style.
This is a sequel to “The Summer Seaside Kitchen” that can be read as a standalone, but I personally would recommend to read the first book as well – even though there is a reminder in the letter from Jenny at the beginning of “The Endless Beach”, which is very helpful btw, the first book was equally gorgeous and I think it will let you to understand the characters and their actions much better.

In “The Endless Beach” we’re back to the island of Mure and the characters that I already love plus some of the new ones, that are equally adoring. Flora’s storyline was supposed to be the main one, and well, yes it was, but she shared the book pages equally with the other characters, whose stories and backgrounds and present were as intriguing and hooking as hers. To be honest, I have a feeling that this time the male characters’ subplots were more prominent in this story, which only made it feel refreshing and even more interesting (as if it were possible!). This time it were the men that were hiding something, not the women! The story of Saif was heart – breaking. It was very actual and even though I may think it is a topic that doesn’t necessarily belong in fiction, I could give the author a standing ovation for writing it this way and for finding the courage to make one of her lead character a refugee. It was brilliant to see that the islanders – of course, after initial reservations – accepted him with open arms and what they did later when he brought someone to the island was absolutely gorgeous. His story was such an eye – opener, too, and I fell for him immediately, and I could cry when reading about his past. It was great to be back with Fintan, who can finally be himself and I loved his relationship with Colton, how much in love they were with each other, how they were around each other. There was of course a secret involved and even though I might have started to suspect something, the reveal has totally took me by surprise, took my breath away and made my cry because it was written in such a beautiful, sweet, gentle way, and you could feel through the pages the love and desperation there. Joel… I really don’t know how it is possible to write such raw emotions, I think Jenny Colgan has just got into his head.
The author didn’t forget about our girls, of course. Flora and Lorna’s feelings and emotions are true to life. It was brilliant to see what’s happening in their lives after we have left them behind, closing “The Summer Seaside Kitchen”. I must admit, I have expected that Flora’s life and her relationship with Joel would be plain sailing but it turned out it is far from this. They had their ups and downs and there were some moments that I got a headache as it seemed they just can’t communicate with each other in a normal way. I so wanted to bang their heads together because I so wanted this relationship to work and it just seemed that they rub each other up the wrong way, they’re getting hot and cold with each other all the time. This relationship was so genuine and so raw, they both felt so vulnerable in it because they loved so much but didn’t know how to show this, and it made me feel so, so desperate! Flora has such a big heart, and not only when it comes to be generous when running her own business, no, she’s just a wonderful, good natured person. There is so much passion in her in all aspects of her life, she doesn’t do things halfway through and I just kept everything crossed for her and for Joel. He was distant and sometimes I wanted to shake him but I also knew that there is a reason to his behaviour, and even though we don’t know till almost the end what it is, there was something in Joel that made you fell for him immediately and to understand him without knowing more.
But one of the best characters must be AGOT, and when you read the book you’ll know why I write her in capitals.

The way the story went and the many subplots took me by surprise, I must admit, I think I have expected something different. Not sure what but whatever it was, this story just tug at my heart strings, it was full of emotions and feelings. There was this magic that you always look for in the book that you read, there were brilliant storylines and characters that you could die for, as they so got under your skin. This writing was just one and only. It was beautiful, it enveloped you and you just didn’t want to put this book down.

The setting in this story couldn’t be more perfect! I fell in love with the wild island of Mure when reading the first book, and this story only reinforced me in this feeling. I think I would feel completely contended there. There was a brilliant community feeling that was especially visible at one of the weddings when the author so beautifully put it into words that it is the most important thing for the islanders and even though they’re not officially invited, they are invited, they can come and feel at home, and it was brilliant. The author lets us know the ins and outs of the little school run by Lorna, the island living and its villagers, when they know your comes and goes better than you yourself but they only mean well.

“The Endless Beach” was a real escapism and it is really so hard to put into words how great this book was. There was everything I was looking for from Jenny Colgan and even more. It was full of laugh out loud moments, as well as many poignant ones, it was full of heart and understanding and with incredible depth. It made me hold my breath and then start to hope again. There was the lovely mention of the mystery of myth, that I simply adored, there was this close knit community, it brought to us some new and fresh perspectives of characters that usually are not introduced in such stories. I really didn’t want this book to come to an end and if you haven’t read this enchanting story yet, drop everything and treat yourself – but be warned that you’re going to disappear for a few hours, as it’s just unputdownable.

Prosecco Christmas by Sylvia Ashby / #BlogTour + #Giveaway

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Prosecco Christmas by Sylvia Ashby

 

36574959Publisher:

Publishing Date: 2nd November 2017

Series: Pot Love #3

Source:  Received in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 274

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Family is where life begins.
And what better time to spend with your family than Christmas week?

Ashley and Giacomo go to Upper Swainswick, a postcard village ten minutes’ drive from Bath, to stay with Ashley’s mum and stepdad. It’s their last visit before the arrival of their first child.

But babies have a habit of being unpredictable.

So when Ashley goes into labour on Christmas Eve, three weeks ahead of schedule, it takes everyone by surprise.
She’s not ready! Her perfect Birth Plan is packed away in her hospital bag two hundred miles away, she has no going home outfit, and she has a live event planned for New Year’s Eve for her YouTube channel, The Sinking Chef. People have been signing up for it for weeks. She can’t possibly disappoint them on the last day of the year. What is she to do?

The tinsel gets even more tangled when Giacomo’s parents decide to fly from Italy to meet their first grandchild. Hotels are fully booked, so everyone has to stay under the same roof.

Would eleven people in the house, not counting the baby, turn out to be simply too much for Ashley?

Rating: three-stars

“Prosecco Christmas” is the third book in the Pot Love series however it was promised that you can read it a stand – alone. And that’s true guys, you can. The author has done a great job here, adding the absolutely necessary short scene here or there, description, memory to bring us all, fresh readers, what has happened in the past. I personally felt all the time as if I just stayed on the ball, I didn’t have a feeling that I’m missing on something.

Our main characters, Ashley and Giacomo, are expecting their first child, and they are very prepared – the hospital bag, the birth plan, chosen hospital, such things, you know. But well, life is full of surprises and when you have everything planned as nice as those two, you can be sure that the plans are going to go thwart. Ashley ends up in labour shortly before Christmas, when they are visiting her mother, without all of the above mentioned things. So there. Moreover, Giacomo’s family decide they have to see the new baby asap and so father, mother and aunt arrive from Italy, and then there is the very brief visit from brother and his fiancé.

Even though it is a story centred around Christmas, and it is full of Christmas spirit and all the mayhem you can expect, with so many people at home, visitor after visitor, new friends, Christmas recipes and cooking, I read it with pleasure few days ago, happy that the festive season is over for now. I could also easily imagine it was just a family gathering because Christmas didn’t overshadow anything.

There were moments that some of the scenes just dragged on incredibly and for example I gave up hope that Ashley is going to have this baby any time soon. However, kudos to the author for getting the whole having baby and becoming a parent thing so, so well, without any fluffiness and being on cloud nine. There was pain, raw emotions, sleepless nights, and yes, Ashley, I know what you felt when trying to have a bath when alone at home! But there is also the sheer joy of having a baby, and it was brilliant.

But guys. As much as the book was entertaining, light – hearted and easy to read, till now I am wondering: why and what – I really am not sure what I feel about it and to what end it was written. It was a nice story but it just felt as if it didn’t have neither a beginning nor an end. Don’t get me wrong, pretty please, I liked this book. It was funny, it had a dry wit and there were some surprises but it’s not a story that will stay with me for long. Some of the characters and the actions came over as too cartoony, too far fetched – maybe it was intended, I don’t know but it didn’t work for me. However it is probably the case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, as the story is full of hilarious moments and some of them are really epic, so just give this book a go – you may fall head over heels in love with it!

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Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

 

35150981Publisher: The Borough Press

Publishing Date: 11th January 2018

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

There are three things you should know about Elsie.
The first thing is that she’s my best friend.
The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better.
And the third thing… might take a little bit more explaining.

84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly a man who died sixty years ago?

From the author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP, this book will teach you many things, but here are three of them:
1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever.
2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done.
3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.

Rating: five-stars

In this story – that is going to break your heart, btw – our main character Elsie is a 84 years old who lives at Cherry Tree (beautiful name, even though there are no cherry tries there), a sheltered accommodation. She spends her days with her friends Elsie, whom she knows for many, many years, and Jack. Florence is lovely and you just can’t help but fell in love with her a little. There is still spirit to her and she’s not an easiest resident of the home, she requires answers to her questions and is not easily satisfied. She just wants to live – I loved her no – nonsense approach. When a new resident arrives, Gabriel Price, she starts to believe she knows him but under a different name – is she right, and is in danger now? Or did she forget? Together with Florence, Elsie and Jack we set out on an incredible journey of looking for the truth, journey full of secrets, lies, abuse and mysteries, but also full of antics the three get up to.

“Three Things About Elsie” is a very special story about some very special characters that will stay in your heart for long. I actually immediately fell in love with Florence and Elsie, it was so easy to imagine them both sitting at the window and gossiping about all the other residents. They were jumping out of the pages of this book and they felt so true to life. Also, the background characters, such as Miss Ambrose or Handy Simon were incredibly well developed and had their own voices and stories that were so very touching, and really, they made the story feel more whole – I really hope you know what I mean here. So we don’t only get Florence’s point of view but also we get to know her life through other characters’ eyes. Elsie’s character is also incredibly likeable. She’s Florence’s best friend and it is Elsie who knows how Florence ticks best and how to make her feel better. Her words are the most memorable to Florence and she always asks what Elsie would do or say. It is Elsie who helps her, who finds all the positive things and who helps her to navigate through the minefield of losing memory. Their friendship was so beautiful and pure.

This story offered some curves that I really didn’t expect. I was reading a lovely, touching story about Florence, Elsie and Jack and then the author has thrown some so unexpected twists and the story went in totally different direction to the one I was expecting – which is just brilliant, I love to be surprised – and in the end it turned out to be a little of mystery, a little of memories, with very realistic characters. I also never could say what is real, is Florence right or is it really her dementia speaking, and the final reveals just took my breath away.

Joanna Cannon is a very, very talented author. I haven’t read her debut novel yet, it is still on my kindle, but her turns of phrases, the way she constructs the dialogues, the vividness of descriptions, the bringing the characters to life and the complex storyline speak for themselves. This book, “Three Things About Elsie”, is this kind of a story that is getting better with every page turned and it leaves you thinking and reflecting on what you’ve just read. It is a funny and sad, sentimental and it just tugs at the heart – strings. The author writes in such a gentle way, her words are full of sympathy, heart and understanding. They make us laugh and cry and think and reflect. And I can’t not mention it but the cover of the book is absolutely gorgeous, and it is also the perfect reflection of the story – you’ll see for yourself when you read the book.

Joanna Cannon explores friendship in her book, people that we hold dear, and indicates how important they are to us, and how important it is to not to lose our trust. Altogether, it was a beautiful, sensitive book, full of many poignant moments. And I didn’t guess the third thing about Elsie. It took me totally by surprise and made me cry like a crocodile. Highly, highly recommended!