The Helpline by Katherine Collette

The Helpline by Katherine Collette

 

43833855._sy475_Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 30th July 2019

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

Number of pages: 304

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Humour

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 23.01.2020)

 

Synopsis:

Office life can be a minefield …

Germaine Johnson likes suduko, biscuits, maths and Chinese food. She’s less sure about the complexities of social interaction and her tendency to just say what she thinks often lands her in hot water. Unfortunately, after ‘the incident’ at Wallace Insurance, she finds herself unemployed.

When her cousin suggests a job at the local council, manning the Senior Citizens Helpline, Germaine really doesn’t have any other option than to say yes. It’s still social interaction, but at a safe distance. However, it turns out Mayor Verity Bainbridge has something more interesting in mind for her. A secret project to stop ‘the troublemakers’ at the senior citizens centre and their feud with the golf club next door. Germaine believes she is the no-nonsense woman for the job – until when she’s forced to get to know the troublemakers and things get more complicated.

Witty, big-hearted and hugely enjoyable, The Helpline is what you might get if you crossed The Rosie Project with Parks and Recreation. If you have ever wrestled with the world of office politics, this charming debut novel is for you.

Rating: four-stars

 

Germaine Johnson has a passion for anything that is mathematic related. What she doesn’t have a passion for is people. However, when she finds herself unemployed, she knows she has to take a new position on a senior citizens helpline. At least she doesn’t have to see the people she’s supposed to help, and almost immediately she also starts collecting data to minimise inefficiencies and to improve the effectiveness of the helpline. Then Mayor Verity Bainbridge singles her our for a special and secret project in the Senior Citizens Centre and through this role she meets Don Thomas, a handsome owner of the local golf club who reminds Germaine of someone she used to admire. She’s desperate to help the Mayor and Don but is it really just like the Mayor says it is? Can someone have hidden agendas?

I loved the idea of the book, where the author throws our main character Germaine, a senior mathematician who doesn’t “do” people too well, direct to the forefront of a senior citizens centre scandal, so actually to deal with people, and I loved the characters. Germaine, under the surface, is truly lovable, quirky and funny. I know she can perhaps come across as cold and indifferent but believe me, she’s quickly going to grow on you. Germaine might be somewhere “on the spectrum”, I think, though it’s actually never explained, but she could easily be a lost sister of Don Tillman, she has a touch of OCD, she’s naive and is often oblivious to social cues but she has heart in the right place. She’s very smart, however her EQ is rather weak, often tactless but all of those features simply make her a brilliant character to follow. And eventually she finds out what it is that’s important in life.
All the characters in this book are carefully constructed and brilliantly portrayed, and the author’s characterisations are full of warmth. The banter and interactions between them were believable and entertaining.

The diagrams and charts included in the book were the final touch, the icing on the cake and they were brilliant.

“The Helpline” is an amusing, dynamic and unique debut by Katherine Colette, and with tons of depth to it as well. The author provides us with plenty of amusement, lightness and fun but also her story is insightful and poignant. The further you go into the book, the more you’re going to enjoy it, and in the end I simply couldn’t put it down. I’m already looking towards Katherine Collette’s next release, her writing style is already strong, with a distinctive voice to it that immediately thrown me into the heart of the story, full of dry humour that I like so much. Recommended!

No One Ever Has Sex on Holiday by Tracy Bloom

No – One Ever Has Sex on Holiday by Tracy Bloom

 

45428233._sy475_Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 29th July 2019

Series: No – One Ever Has Sex #5

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

Number of pages: 3209

Genre: Humour, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Get ready to enjoy your first holiday abroad with small children. Highlights include: being woken at 5 every morning and working a gruelling day in unbearable heat chasing kids around the pool with a bottle of sunscreen. Added features: screaming during mealtimes and toddlers moaning about sand. Absolutely no sex guaranteed or your money back!

Katy and Ben and their four closest friends are going to Spain for a week with their kids. Sun, sex and sangria? Almost certainly not.

The couples think they are prepared for all the joys and trials a family holiday has to offer but they have a shock coming, and not only from the kids. Into their first day by the pool crashes Ollie, who has just been dumped by his girlfriend, and Cassie, on her hen party holiday but having serious doubts about her impending marriage. A recipe for a relaxing week abroad? Let’s wait and see…

From the no. 1 bestselling author of No-one Ever Has Sex on a Tuesday, this is the perfect book to read on the beach – either with or without small children. Perfect for fans of Nick Spalding, Marian Keyes and Gill Sims.

Rating: four-stars

 

Three couples, that we’ve already got to know very well and love so much – Katy and Ben, Braindead and Abby, Daniel and Gabriel – are off on their first holiday together as families. With five children between them. Abroad. To Spain. To a family friendly hotel, which means that it’s full with such travellers as our characters. What can go wrong, right? It’s for sure going to be a relaxing, peaceful holiday, right? Or not?

I’ve read somewhere that parents actually don’t have holidays at all – they simply look after their children in a different place, and well, this book shows that it is true. The way all the characters tried so much to get as much as possible out of their holidays, how they tried to adjust and not go crazy was so brilliantly portrayed and made the book even more brilliant to read.

It is already the fifth book in the series and well, as much as I think it could be read as a stand – alone, I wouldn’t recommend it. I’ve seen some reviewers mentioning the fact that the characters were not developed enough – well, I got to know them inside out in the previous four books, it felt like being with old friends together again, and the author really didn’t have to flesh them all out again – if you’ve been with Katy and the gang through thick and thin you really know them and what make them tick now. So better read the previous books as well, me thinks.

It was hilarious and funny and full of “OMG” moments read, unbelievably relatable, even though my daughter is a very easy – care child, but being so much around other children once you’ve seen this you’ve seen this all (and can’t unseen or forget it). The attempts of really enjoying the holiday by taking part in all the planned activities, that usually turned out to be attractive and thrilling only in the flyer, trying to spend some time together as couples and keep everybody happy on top of that were brilliantly described. And rang a bell – it’s a situation that probably all of us know very well, no matter if we’re parents or not yet. Keep everybody happy, ha!

The characters are like old friends but the one that I liked most this time must have been Daniel, so out of place on a budget airline and in a normal hotel room, not in a suite, behaving like prima donna, and I simply loved him! He was so funny and he seemed so shallow but deep inside he was so insightful and full of love to his daughter and husband, and well, his battles also rang a bell, don’t you think? This of wanting to be a stay at home father but realising that it’s better other way round.
We’ve got more of Gabriel this time and I can’t say how much he impressed me, first with his patience and second, with using his Spanish to solve some problems – the way he did this was simply first class brilliant!
I couldn’t put my finger on Abby, I was guessing there was much more to her behaviour than meets the eye and I think I’d like the author to dig deeper into her problems and issues a little bit more – especially as I was in her shoes, so I really could relate to her and her feelings. Braindead… Well, I must admit that he annoyed me a little this time, he took to fatherhood too seriously and I had a feeling that Abby being so absent simply worked for him.
There are some new characters introduced to us as well, and they were a great addiction, especially Ollie. Oh boy, the poor Ollie, who’s on his honeymoon, staying in the honeymoon suite at the same hotel that our characters but without the bride, who has called – off the wedding. The honeymoon suite is a character of its own, be prepared!

Intertwined with all the humour and light heartedness, and I really liked how it was done, were the problems and troubles that come with family and becoming a parent. They’re written with a pinch of salt but they’re there, highlighted, all the expectations versus reality, and how well the fact that the arrival of the children impacted the relationships of their parents was captured.

“No One Ever Has Sex on Holiday” was a quick, light and entertaining read, full of quirky, sharp dialogues and hilarious one – liners. It was full of many laugh out loud moments, but also some poignant and heart – warming ones, and Tracy Bloom knows how to handle and balance them. However, the main point of this book is to entertain you, and it fulfils this intention completely, offering you a relaxing, light and uplifting read. Highly recommended, a perfect summer read!

The Spanish Promise by Karen Swan

The Spanish Promise by Karen Swan

 

43793447._sy475_Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Charlotte, a wealth counsellor who knows from personal experience the complications that a sudden inheritance can bring, helps her clients navigate the emotional side effects of sudden wealth syndrome. When she is asked by Mateo Mendoza, heir to a huge Spanish estate, to fly to Madrid to help resolve an issue in his father’s will, she’s confident it will be straightforward. The timing isn’t great as Charlotte’s due to get married the following week, but once her client signs on the dotted line, Charlotte can return to her life in London and her wedding, and live happily ever after. Marrying Stephen might not fill her with excitement, but she doesn’t want to live in the fast lane anymore – safe and predictable is good.

But Carlos Mendoza’s final bequest opens up a generation of secrets, and Charlotte finds herself compelled to unravel the mystery. As Charlotte digs deeper, she uncovers the story of a family divided by Spain’s Civil War, and of a love affair across the battle lines that ended in tragedy.

And while she is consumed in the drama of the Mendozas, Charlotte’s own tragic past catches up with her, threatening to overturn everything in her life she’s worked so hard to build.

Rating:  five-stars

 

Charlotte Fairfax, a wealth specialist, is sent to Spain on her next job. It couldn’t come at a worse time for her, as her wedding is only the following week. However, she’s sure that she’ll do what she has to do and will be back in London in time. But life usually has other plans for us, and soon Charlotte is drawn into the past of the Mendoza’s family – it turns out there is much more than meets the eye, there is darkness and ugly secrets. Moreover, the person she’s supposed to be working with has no idea about any inheritance, so it’s up to Charlotte to delve into the family’s history and what she discovers is shocking for all involved. Will she return in time for her own wedding? And can past hurts be repaid?

I am always eagerly awaiting Karen Swan’s new releases, as I know her books are going to take us to the most exotic/unusual/beautiful locations and they are reads with difference, often incorporating an intriguing mystery and always full of interesting, brilliantly fleshed out characters – and it was exactly like this with “The Spanish Promise”.

It was a shocking, poignant, heart – breaking story set in two time frames, the first one at the time of the Spanish civil war, showing its ongoing affects on many families even long after the event itself, following the life of the Mendoza family, and the second one taking us back to the present day, with Charlotte searching for answers. Both of the timelines had kept me captured as they were both rich in details and full of events. They, of course, intertwine, adding more questions, making us wonder what has happened to the rebellious daughter of the Mendozas, Nene. The author has made it perfect for me, to be honest, alternating between a fascinating and sad historical times that I, must admit, don’t have a great knowledge of, and present, keeping a healthy balance between them.

The characters in this book weren’t flawless but they were realistic and perceptive. I loved Charlotte, how determined she was, and I loved the fact that the author has – again – carefully considered a great and different kind of job for her – I mean, how many wealth counsellors do you usually come across? I think that Ms Swan has described the logistics of this job very well, balancing it with Charlotte’s interesting personal life and the question of her past and this all has made Charlotte an interesting, deep character, and I think I’ve found her story even better than this of Nene, who was also such a strong and colourful character to follow. But Charlotte, I don’t know, she just grew on me and I really enjoyed how digging in the past made her realise what is important to her.

The plot is complex and intertwines many threads but I have never felt confused, thanks to Karen Swan’s clear, eloquent and seamless writing. She beautifully paints a colourful, vivid picture of Spain, effortlessly transporting us into the characters’ world. The plot is wonderfully well – thought and it intertwines and unravels the secrets at the right moments, giving us a vivid, satisfying story touching upon many lighter, heavier and important issues.

Altogether, “The Spanish Promise” was an evocative, captivating and enchanting read, with romance that is alluring, mesmerising and heart – breaking, taking us on a roller – coaster journey through the lives of Mendoza and Fairfax families. It is full not only of money and power but also showing that behind those gorgeous mansions and designer clothes there is much more to meet the eye, that there are lies, secrets and betrayals that can change fate of many other people. As usual, Karen Swan’s addictive novel had me captivated, taking me into another, fantastic world. Highly recommended!

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

 

43090369._sy475_Publisher: Corvus

Publishing Date: 20th June 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via Pigeon Hole, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Mystery & Thriller

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | PHardcover

| Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Her best friend is dead.
Now everyone thinks she’s a killer.

Littleport, Maine is like two separate towns: a vacation paradise for wealthy holidaymakers and a simple harbour community for the residents who serve them. Friendships between locals and visitors are unheard of – but that’s just what happened with Avery Greer and Sadie Loman.

Each summer for a decade the girls are inseparable – until Sadie is found dead. When the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name before she’s branded a killer.

Rating: two-stars

 

Avery’s and Sadie’s friendship seems impossible to be real: Avery comes from one of middle class families living in the resort town of Littleport in Maine, while Sadie is one of “the Lomans'”, who basically own everything in Littleport and are being treated like royals. Their relationship stayed strong until one day, during the Plus – One Party, Sadie has been found dead. The police believe that she has committed suicide, but Avery can’t believe that her carefree, strong – willed and confident best friend could do such a thing. A year later, Avery starts to ask more questions, to dig more into Sadie’s death and she begins to uncover secrets that someone doesn’t want to see the light of the day. Is Avery’s life in danger as well?

I must admit, I’ve heard brilliant things about Megan Miranda, though haven’t been lucky enough to read her previous books, so when the opportunity to read “The Last House Guest” came my way, I didn’t hesitate. I was hoping for a mind – blowing read and I am really, really sad to tell you that this book didn’t work for me. I can’t even blame reading it in staves on Pigeon Hole this time, because I found myself putting the book down somewhere during reading – it simply wasn’t this what I was expecting. The book started well, with something really bad happening and so we were thrown into the heart of the story, and now it was all in the hands of execution. The more pages I turned, the more my interest seemed to leave me.

The story felt flat and repetitive, there wasn’t anything significant, shocking, surprising, the characters were uninspired and I had a feeling that author’s heart wasn’t in her writing. There was no tension in the mystery and coming back to the characters, well, I’ve missed qualities in them that make the characters special and interesting and let’s be honest, I simply didn’t care about them and what can happen to them, I didn’t buy the whole poor but reformed bad girl Avery.

The part I liked most was the setting, a very picturesque town along the coast of Maine, and the scenic beauty of the town, that is not only a fishing/boating place to live for the middle class but also a holiday resort for the other half, was beautifully captured and brought vividly to life.

So I am extremely sad to say that I needed much more from this book. It simply lacked in tension and suspense, relatable characters and depth. The idea was there but it somehow felt incomplete, as if the potential hasn’t been made use of. The quite few and surprising reveals at the end were not bad but they simply came too late to save the book for me. But I am still looking forward to reading the author’s previous and future novels.

How To Make Time for Me by Fiona Perrin / Blog Tour

How to Make Time for Me by Fiona Perrin

 

46828125._sy475_Publisher: Aria

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

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

Number of pages:

Genre: Women’s Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle

 

Synopsis:

No-one said being a single mum would be easy…

Everyone knows that being a single mother means having no time to yourself. But for Callie Brown, its more exhausting than most. She’s juggling the needs of three teenage children, two live-in parents, a raffish ex-husband, and a dog who never stops eating.

The last thing Callie needs is anything more on her plate. So when she bumps (quite literally) into a handsome, age-appropriate cyclist, she’s quick to dismiss him from her life. After all, if she doesn’t have time to brush her hair in the morning, she certainly doesn’t have time to fall in love…

Funny, heartwarming and oh-so-true, this is a novel about motherhood, families, and life after divorce, perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Allison Pearson.

Rating: four-stars

 

Callie Brown is a single mum to 16 – year – old twin daughters and a 14 – year – old Wilf from her previous relationship, who she has been a mother for eight years, with her ex rather absent, and her ageing parents, for whom she cooks and cleans on a regular basis, and, of course, working full time in HR of a car dealership. One day she’s run over by a takeaway delivery bike because, as the cyclist says, he “just didn’t see her”. Callie realizes that actually this is how she is feeling – somehow invisible. To everyone in her life. Surely, something must change in her life now, right?

I liked the romance aspect that was not so predictable. The chaos and drama in the family’s life were brought in a light, chatty way and were not too over the top, simply bringing on how it really is, how complicated things can get. I adored how Callie reacted to all the pressure and struggles and how supportive her friends were (well, she not so invisible, right!). 

It was a light – hearted story with a depth, especially when it comes to Lily and Wilf’s stories. It’s another in the really popular and relevant “not yummy – mummy”, modern family category but it is refreshing and different and I enjoyed it wholeheartedly. I loved the message in this story, that no matter what – blood ties, relationship, shape, whatever – your home is where your family is, and those are not the above mentioned things that determine who you call your family. It was full of funny but also more serious and worrying moments but the writing style was really pleasant, so conversational and easy to follow. The characters and some of the situations are truly likeable and relatable and the plot is a clever one, much more complex that you could think at first, and I really liked this fact. And what’s more, it was full of emotions and explored single parenting in a nice, light but also honest, way. Recommended!

 

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Expectation by Anna Hope

Expectation by Anna Hope

 

40611121._sy475_Publisher: Doubleday

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

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

Number of pages: 322

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover| Paperback

 

Synopsis:

‘If you wished Normal People had tackled female friendship, try Expectation’ GRAZIA
‘Will resonate with approximately 99% of women’ RED MAGAZINE summer pick

Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends.

Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?

The most razor-sharp and heartbreaking novel of the year, EXPECTATION is a novel about finding your way: as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a rebel.

FOR FANS OF SALLY ROONEY, DIANA EVANS, DOLLY ALDERTON, ELIZABETH DAY AND FLEABAG

Rating: five-stars

 

“Expectation” introduces us to three best friends, Cate, Hannah and Lissa, and follows their lives from the carefree and easy twenties, back to their troubled teens, to the harsh reality of thirties and forties. They used to share a house in East London, sharing their dreams and expectations for the future, enjoying their lives, friendship and fun. Ten years on and life hasn’t panned out as they’d like it to. Cate has recently moved to Kent with her new family, husband and a baby but she’s not sure if it’s really what she wants, especially as she feels so isolated; Hannah is trying her third round of IVF, desperate for a child, not noticing that this desire for a baby is destroying her marriage; Lissa is still trying to make it as an actress. How did they get there, wrestling with envy over each other’s lives?

It is a bitter – sweet and brutally raw and honest story exploring the highs and lows of friendship, showing different faces of this relationship.

The story flips backwards and forwards in time, changing the narration between the three women and tells, very realistically and honest, their happiest and saddest moments in their lives, showing how your point of view changes with increasing age, how you start to see the same things differently gaining experience. The author has so well captured the difference between the carefree, sunny days when they were in their twenties and had no real problems, and then when the reality brutally came and bitten them years later. I loved how the stories seamlessly intertwined together and how realistic they felt. The book is beautifully written.

I must admit that the characters were not the most likeable ones, and I actually have never warmed to any of the three friends. They were all determined in their own ways and yes, they fought for their own happiness, which is commendable, but it was at any cost. However, they were all so very well drawn, with their flaws, annoying habits but also their good points and they felt like living and breathing people, making mistakes and not always learning their lesson. Cate was the golden girl, with her First from Cambridge but because of a heartbreak she just gave up and is working in a cafe. Hannah, rejected from Cambridge, turned the disappointment into a successful career. And Lissa, the gorgeous one, convinced of her beauty and talent simply waiting for the big break that is going to make her a star. Fast forward ten years and Cate is struggling with being a mother, with a husband that she isn’t sure she loves, in a house far away from her friends and family. Hannah is on another round of IVF, not accepting the fact that life doesn’t run as smoothly as she has planned it, the strain of it all slowly starting to show in her marriage. And Lissa is still waiting for this big break, still seeking her mother’s approval, still single. None of these women’s expectations resemble this what they dreamed about, so where do they go next? As it usually happens in life, reality is a bitch – they drifted apart a little, and well, everything changes when you’re getting older, no?

I thought it’s going to be a light – hearted, easy read but there was so much more to it. There was depth and truth, with the author so beautifully exploring friendship that have ups and downs, that can have better and worse moments, about womanhood in very wide spectrum and how to live up to expectations the society and life make the women choose, and if you can live up to them at all, if it’s possible. Thought – provoking and very up – to – date, bringing great discussion topics about the gaps between reality and dream and expectations, between how your life appears to other people and how it really is for you. There is betrayal, hope, heartbreak, ugly secrets and unpleasant truths in this elegant, eloquent, bitter – sweet examination of womanhood, a compelling page turner about real female friendship, showing us how to ponder happiness and to find yourself and what makes you happy. Truly recommended!

 

The Reunion by Guillaume Musso / Blog Tour

The Reunion by Guillaume Musso

 

43565588._sx318_Publisher: W & N

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

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

Number of pages: 289

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Thriller & Mystery

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback

 

Synopsis:

THE #1 SENSATION WITH OVER HALF A MILLION COPIES SOLD IN FRANCE

French Riviera, winter 1992.
On a freezing night, as her high school campus is engulfed by a snowstorm, 19-year-old Vinca Rockwell runs away with Alexis, her philosophy teacher.
No one will ever see them again.

French Riviera, spring 2017.
Formerly inseparable, Thomas, Maxime and Fanny – Vinca’s best friends – have not spoken in twenty-five years. But when they receive a notice from their old school detailing the plans for a new gymnasium and inviting them to a class reunion, they know they must go back one more time.
Because there is a body buried in the gymnasium’s walls…
…and they’re the ones who put it there.

Rating: five-stars

 

In 2017 there is a reunion at school that Thomas, Maxim, Fanny and Vinca attended 25 years ago. However, it’s a meeting that the three remained friends never wanted to attend, as some hidden secrets can be revealed, then those 25 years ago one of the group disappeared and had never been found. Now, the gym which was built at that time is going to be bulldozed, and do those two facts have something in common? What kind of secrets are going to be buried in the walls of the school and what are the three adults, that used to be best friends but have never spoken again over the years, planning now to keep some of the secrets hidden?

The characters are not too likeable, but in this kind of book I really don’t expect them to be. They’re all brilliantly fleshed out. Thomas, now a popular novelist living in the States, was a truly interesting protagonist, a character with a difference. The story is narrated by him in the first person so we really get a good opportunity to see how the events in 1992 affected him, what makes him tick and what has shaped him and his life. We see, through his eyes, the alluring Vinca, woman that even after all the years still has a hold over him. Because of what happened in 1992, he cut himself off from his previous life, all his friends and family, so returning to the town is like opening a Pandora Box for him. His best friend from school, Maxim, is a politician and, to be honest, has better contact with Thomas’s parents as Thomas himself. Now they have both a lot to lose, their whole lives are at stake and they are to face up to their past and future – a great person description here, captivating and capturing all the feelings and emotions.

The story takes us back and forth in time, slowly revealing all the secrets, unpeeling all the layers, fitting all the elements of the puzzle until all of them are revealed. It flits from the winter of 1992, when some of the characters disappeared, to the spring of 2017 when the reunion happens. In the meantime, we are given many different versions and option of what has happened, which makes the reading really exciting and I liked how they were all cleared at the end – even if they felt a bit too rushed for my liking.

The darkness of the tone brilliantly contrasts with the gorgeous setting of the French Riviera, the Côte d’Azur oozes with atmosphere and is a perfect backdrop. The descriptions are evocative and vivid, and you not only hear the waves but also feel the light wind on your skin.

It was dark, full of twists and turns, compelling and thrilling read, full of juicy secrets, about secrets, lies, jealousy, obsession and friendship. There is a lot of names dropping, which usually makes me really sceptical, but this time it still worked in this book. And well, I’m not sure if after reading it you’ll be finding the courage to go to your own school reunion. And yes, I could have been trying to guess no matter how long – my detective skills are non – existent. All the time, when I was thinking oh yes, now I know for sure, I turned the page and bam, there was another twist to come and hit me on the head. But on the other hand, it is great to simply let the author take you by the hand and guide you through the story, let him surprise you with the twisty, suspenseful thriller. Be prepared, though, that the book, that starts in such an innocent way, mentioning finding a body in the school, will offer you so much more than a straight – forward mystery. It is multi – layered and complex, full of ugly secrets threatening to rear out of the past and come back

Altogether, “The Reunion” is a read with difference, with one of the most unpredictable plots, with secrets coming at you thick and fast but in a way that you don’t feel overwhelmed with them. The writing style is so eloquent and almost lyrical, the plot is thickly packed with suspense and fast – paced, the characters are very well fleshed out, the setting is beautiful – simply a brilliant read that I highly recommend!

 

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Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe / Blog Tour

Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe

 

46257056._sy475_Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publishing Date: 19th July 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 496

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

How do you know who to trust…
…when you don’t even know who you are?

You are outside your front door.
There are strangers in your house.
Then you realise. You can’t remember your name.

She arrived at the train station after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen, and with it, her identity. Her whole life was in there – passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, she couldn’t remember her own name. All she knew was her own address.

Now she’s outside Tony and Laura’s front door. She says she lives in their home. They say they have never met her before.

One of them is lying.

my-review

 

The first line in “Forget My Name” is “I can’t remember my own name” – a chilling opening to a story. The woman who arrives at Laura and Tony’s house can’t remember her own name but is convinced that this is where she lives. Her bag was stolen at the airport, she has no wallet, no passport, nothing, except for a train ticket to the village. Laura and Tony invite her – she can identify the layout of the house! As she needs a name, Tony decides on Jemma. Jemma with a “J”.
Soon the rumours start that she’s Jemma Huish that was sentenced for killing her best friend. Is she? Or is she a total innocent woman? Who is lying and why?

Jemma, not knowing her identity, nothing about herself, looks desperate to piece her life together. In this process she must rely on the kindness of other people, who either choose to help her or immediately decide that she’s the wrong one – it was really thought – provoking, forcing me to think what would I do in this situation? Let her in? Let her sleep in my house? Isn’t it too dangerous? I liked to see the different reactions of people reacting to Jemma’s story, and how helping/not helping her affected them. And what if you would be in Jemma’s situation? No memory, no identification, relying on the help of strangers?

The chapters switch perspectives between several characters, quite many of them. But each of the characters add a deeper layer to the whole puzzle, and in the end I was left really not knowing who tells the truth. There were many theories and many options, some of them rather ridiculous but well, actually maybe possible, and I liked this fact. It was, however, hard to engage with the characters, to warm to them, and the only one whose reactions were believable was Laura. Altogether, it was hard to believe any of them, so they for sure didn’t pull the rug out from under me.

The pace in this story was only right. There came a moment later on when it suddenly started to feel a bit flat and slow but in the next second everything was right again, as if the author has spotted it as well and brought back the pace. There were also some situation that were too far – fetched for my liking, things happening at the right moment, very convenient for the characters, and the fact that the similar – looking women were popping up like mushrooms was rather disturbing, stretching the credibility to a breaking point, I would say. But, in this book, it didn’t turn me off, they were easy to overlook and so I really enjoyed the story.

There were some twists and turns on the way, that’s for sure. Perhaps I didn’t feel tension as I’d like to feel, and the big revelation came really at the very end, but I still enjoyed this read – it was light and easy actually and even though it didn’t keep me on my tenterhooks, and probably lacked a bit in the execution, I was engrossed and involved in the story and it kept me curious and intrigued throughout the journey. However, one thing I could determine very quickly, was the character that I simply despised, not knowing their motives but sensing falsehood and bed intentions.

I love when there are short, really dynamic chapters in the books, and it was the case here – it made the reading much quicker and it was hard to put it down. The writing is so engaging, it simply draws you in, so clear and concise. And I didn’t guess the end – again. I suspected the “who” but didn’t know how and why, so that’s for sure a huge bonus point for the book.

 

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Meet Me on the Riviera by Fliss Chester / Blog Tour

Meet Me on the Riviera by Fliss Chester

 

cover167425-mediumPublisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

Series: The French Escapes Book #3

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

Number of pages: 336

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Jet down to the Côte d’Azur for a Riviera romance…

It’s all about millionaires, Monaco and mega-yachts as Jenna Jenkins starts her new job as a party planner in glamorous Monte Carlo. Not always a fan of the fabulously wealthy – Jenna surprises herself and finds she has a real knack of helping the super-rich go overboard at glittering events held on the decks of the amazing yachts.

Little does Jenna know, however, that behind her back there’s a tussle going on for her affections and her loyalty to her darling boyfriend, gorgeous Angus Linklater, is about to be tested by the mysterious – and oh so hot – billionaire who’s used to getting exactly what and who he wants.

With Max and Bertie’s wedding to plan, old friends Hugo and Sally bursting with news of their own and a lot of champagne to drink, it’s going to be a very interesting summer. So, drop anchor, glam up and meet me on the Riviera…

Rating: four-stars

 

Jenna has lost the job that she loved at the art gallery and now is setting up pop up galleries, though this doesn’t bring as much money as she’d like. She doesn’t want to rely on her boyfriend anymore when it comes to a financial aspect, so when she’s offered a job as a PA to the “bold and beautiful and rich” on a boat in the Riviera over the summer, and it also coincides with Angus working in Hong Kong, she jumps at the opportunity. There, moving in a totally different world of “the other half”, she comes to the attention of TG Wilkinson, a young billionaire who’s already used to getting what he wants. Is he going to get Jenna as well?

When requesting the book, and then after starting reading it, I was not aware that it is already third story in the series, yep, that’s me, pure chaos, so it took me a little by surprise and made me confused when the characters just appeared on the pages, not so deeply introduced to us, recalling some things and events and then simply going on, so I’ve researched a little and yes, bam, I’ve missed two previous books. However, you can still read this book as a stand – alone, there was enough background info to quickly come back on track and happily follow Jenna on her adventures.

The characters were rather hilarious and sometimes over – stereotyped but I’m guessing it was done on purpose. Despite some of them so showing off their wealth I enjoyed them and they made me laugh, but also there were moments that I wanted to bang their hands on the wall – but that’s really a good sign, I simply lived them and felt so drawn into their lives. Even Bertie made me roll my eyes, but in a friendly way, I think you simply need to take her with a grain of salt, and when you do it then she actually is going to make you laugh, with her demanding ways. TG was a self – centred and manipulative though, to be honest, he didn’t evoke any emotions in me, I was not angry with him, he didn’t make me smile, he was too much of a smooth operator to me and his actions somehow didn’t ring true for me. Jenna, however, was lovely, even is she was mostly drunk on champagne, but I love it when the characters are so accident – prone as Jenna was. And she mostly put others before herself, even with her life being in tatters she’s determined to help Bertie with her wedding. Though, it must be mentioned, she really had more luck then sense with getting such a brilliant job over the summer, don’t you think? Nevertheless, she was down – to – earth, funny, sharp and relatable.

The book started really well, it was entertaining and funny however later on it went a little downhill for me and it simply started to feel repetitive and not so engaging. I’m still not sure why TG so desperately wanted Jenna, I somehow missed the explanation in the story. And yes, I also had a feeling that some of the moments were a bit too far – fetched, this whole Hong – Kong gang thing with killing people just didn’t work for me, sorry. And some of the richness and situations seemed over the top but in this case, I think, that was the point.

“Meet Me on the Riviera” was a light – hearted, easy novel full of things that make it a perfect summer read. There is romance, break – up, billionaires, over the top yachts, friendship and also some danger, and this all set against the most wonderful setting of the French Riviera and Monaco that I absolutely adored – the descriptions of the exotic locations, of the popular clubs and how the other half lives were colourful, funny and vivid. Fliss Chester has a lovely and vivid writing style and she stops at nothing to capture your imagination, to entertain you. Now I’m looking forward to reading the other two books in this series!

 

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A Postcard from Italy by Alex Brown / Blog Tour + Q&A with the Author

Hi guys, I’m so thrilled to be a part of Alex Brown’s blog tour! I loved her books that are always full of unforgettable characters, and her writing style that is so gentle and full of feelings. This time, next to my review, the lovely Alex agreed to answer some of my questions – thank you, Alex, and welcome to the blog! –  so put your feet high and enjoy!

 

A Postcard from Italy by Alex Brown

 

41716123Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Grace Quinn loves her job at Cohen’s Convenient Storage Company, finding occasional treasure in the forgotten units that customers have abandoned. Her inquisitive nature is piqued when a valuable art collection and a bundle of letters and diaries are found that date back to the 1930’s.

Delving deeper, Grace uncovers the story of a young English woman, Connie Levine, who follows her heart to Italy at the end of the Second World war. The contents also offer up the hope of a new beginning for Grace, battling a broken heart and caring for her controlling mother.

Embarking on her own voyage of discovery, Grace’s search takes her to a powder pink villa on the cliff tops overlooking the Italian Riviera, but will she unravel the family secrets and betrayals that Connie tried so hard to overcome, and find love for herself?

Rating: five-stars

 

Grace Quinn can’t say that she has a private life – either she cares for her bed bound mother or goes to work at convenient storage company. Grace loves her job and luckily her employers, Mr and Mrs Cohen, love Grace and treat her like family, understanding pressure she lives under. One day Grace opens one unit and discovers that it’s full of valuable art collections but also personal items, such like letters and diaries. Grace is determined to find out to whom they belong and soon discovers a whole life of Connie Levine inside. Encouraged by her work colleagues and friend, Grace decides to step right out of her comfort zones and embark on the journey to Italy, having no idea how many surprises and changes it’s going to bring.

Alex Brown for sure goes from strength to strength with her books, and “A Postcard from Italy” is certainly one of the best books she has written – although I’ve loved all of her previous books, so that’s saying something. I liked the brief mentions of Tindledale – I think this village has a very special place in our hearts, right? Also, Alex Brown creates the most gorgeous and stunning settings for her books, and the way she describes them draws you straight into the story and the place.

I really like to go back and forth between past and present in books, but sadly, not all of the authors can write this way. Alex Brown can. This dual time aspect gives you a real sense of this story and she has brilliantly captured the modern times and the past and it has never felt like reading two separate storylines.

The characters, as usual in Alex’s books, are so well fleshed out, full of emotions and feelings, it simply looks as if she gets into her characters’ heads, and they’re written in such a way that we can easily relate to them, understand them and their motives. Grace is an adorable person, although too loyal in my eyes, but I could so well understand her feelings. She didn’t want to hurt her mother so she’d rather do anything she wanted from her then standing up for herself. Yes, I know, one can say she was a doormat for letting Cora treating her like this, but I don’t think this way, I think she was simply such a good person that first thought of all the others and then about herself. But, seeing her taking the first steps to freedom was absolutely fantastic and I all the time wanted to give her more courage. Connie was another interesting character, full of life and personality, and I really enjoyed how their stories unfolded and how they were connected. Her story was touching and poignant and I’m sure it’s going to melt your heart.
To say that I was annoyed with Grace’s mother Cora would be an understatement. I can’t remember such annoying, manipulative, self – centred character like Cora.

I loved the element of the mystery in this book. Alex Brown has really masterfully plotted it and I sat comfortably, enjoying how she decided to unfold it, to peel the layers off. It was full of sad and poignant moments and the author truly knows how to write them so that they tug at our heart – strings. Connie’s diary entries were a huge part of this mystery and they were so interesting, giving a great insight into this woman, into her life that was full of pain, tears and disappointments but also happiness.

It was a very well crafted story that yes, had its weaker points as well, I somehow didn’t buy the whole bed bound Cora, I’m not sure why, it simply didn’t sit with me, and for me it was too easily solved, but that’s me, so pay no attention, but other than that, it was an excellent read. The pace was only right, there was not a single moment flat and I adored following Grace and all the other characters on their emotional journeys, overpowering problems, and this all set against such stunning settings. And there is so much more to this book that meet the eye. It is full of depth and wisdom, unforgettable characters and clever plot. I can assure you that you’re quickly going to be drawn into the tale, falling for Grace and Connie’s stories. It was captivating, felt honest and was an uplifting, heart – warming read about family dynamics, love and loss. Highly recommended!

 

Q&A WITH THE AUTHOR

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(photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge)

  1. Alex, if you were to describe “A Postcard from Italy” in three sentences…

An epic love story spanning ninety years. Family secrets to be unravelled that have been hidden since the 1930’s.Intrigue and romance in the breathtakingly beautiful Italian Riviera.

  1. What would you like your readers to take away from “A Postcard from Italy”?

Awarm, happy, poignant, but ultimately uplifting story with characters that stay with them long after the last page.

  1. The book combines fiction and history – was it difficult to write it like this?

It was very easy as I love being able to immortalise real events in history, and people too – I often give family members cameo parts too, for example the scene on VE Day mentions Edie, a nippy in Lyons Tea House on The Strand in London, and she is based on my grandmother who was called Edie and worked there too.

    4. What inspired you to partly set your story in Italy? 

I’ve always wanted to write a book set in Italy after visiting the Italian Riviera with my husband several years ago. I loved everything about that part of the world, the breathtaking scenery, the people, the delicious food and romantic atmosphere and so it was a joy to revisit the area in A Postcard From Italy.

     5. When you write, do you always follow a plan or do you let your characters to take you on a journey?

A bit of both. I have a synopsis that I use as a guide but the story always develops as necessary.

    6. What’s more important:  characters or plot?

Characters. I have to know the character before I write the story for them.

    7. On a little lighter note, what are three facts that we don’t know about you Alex?

I’m incredibly superstitious.

I once sang soprano in full chorister outfit on Songs of Praise (I was about 12years old).

I’m learning Spanish.

  1. If you could tell your younger writing self something, what would it be?

Relax, you’ll get there in the end.

  1. And what is next for Alex Brown?

I’m about to start a new book for summer 2020 which I’m very excited about and looking forward to sharing the details of as soon as I can.

 

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