A Year of Chasing Love by Rosie Chambers

A Year of Chasing Love by Rosie Chambers

 

Publisher: HQ Digital 50179541._sx318_sy475_

Publishing Date: 6th January 2020

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 19.03.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

One moment can change a lifetime…

The last thing top divorce lawyer Olivia Hamilton ever expected was to be served her own divorce papers! To escape her marriage troubles, she agrees to go on a year-long trip to find the ultimate guide to love.

Travelling the world, surrounded by stories of love and happiness, it’s not long before her thoughts turn to Nathan, her soon-to-be ex-husband, and she starts to take note of her own lessons in love…

But with Nathan over a thousand miles away, will it be too late?

Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Philippa Ashley and Caroline Roberts.

Rating: three-stars

 

Olivia Hamilton, a top divorce lawyer, is being served with her own divorce papers! At work! Yes, she’s been aware that things are not so rosy in her marriage with Nathan – she’s so focused on her own career that her private life suffers because of it, and well, Nathan might have hinted at the fact that he’d like to be a father sooner rather than later… But divorce? Yes, Olivia is a bit devastated.
But it was only the beginning. Then she’s forced to take a 10 – month sabbatical from work, but what should she do with all this free time? Her best friend Rachel persuades her to go on a research trip for her, visiting countries where divorce rates are low and marriages blossom. Albeit reluctant, but Olivia goes – her journey starts with Malta and takes her to Hawaii, Copenhagen, Singapore and, eventually, Paris. Even if she hasn’t planned it, the journey turns to be a self – reflection for her.

The book started brilliantly, introducing us to the author’s lovely sense of humour and promising story. However, then, for me it only went downhill and the travels were a bit dull for my liking. I was expecting wit and fun and some sassy adventures, whereas what I got was serious in tone and a little wooden tale. And really, almost every single chapter ended with Olivia wondering about Nathan: what would Nathan do, what would he say, do they have a future, is there a second chance for them, Nathan, Nathan, Nathan… It was really eye – role inducing, especially as she did nothing to win him back, just shrugging it off, jumping to conclusions and ending the next chapter wondering what he’s doing and with whom. And honestly, the research conducted by Olivia’s friend Rachel sounded absolutely hooking and refreshing but it didn’t deliver – sadly.

I then couldn’t completely warm to Olivia. I was expecting her to be a ball – breaking (in a positive way, of course), fierce and charming woman but it turned out she’s constantly blaming herself for everything, her marriage collapse, for her colleagues not working in a way she’d like them to, insecure and with little humour. Even though the stories of the background characters didn’t capture me so much, I still found them more colourful and lively than Olivia.

The places Olivia visited were brilliantly chosen, so different to what we usually get to read about in this genre, and visiting them and meeting all the people gave Olivia chance to mull over her own marriage, wondering what to do, try to save it or move on, to re – evaluate her priorities, wonder if real love really exist. The writing style was easy and approaching.

The story touched about the very present vicious circle that so many woman find themselves: society expects them to work as if they didn’t have any children and to raise their children as if they didn’t have to work, putting them for the choice of career or family, not giving them a chance for both. It is an easy and not too demanding charming little story about finding happiness, about second chances and love. I loved the premise, I loved the cover, and I think there was so much potential in this book, but it lacked in execution and delivery. However, I can see that other readers enjoy this book much more, so just try it for yourself, you may fell in love with the story.

The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton

The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton

 

Publisher: Trapeze 48222452._sy475_

Publishing Date: 9th January 2020

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

Number of pages: 288

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 30.04.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Five Women.

They meet at their NCT Group. The only thing they have in common is they’re all pregnant.

Five Secrets.

Three years later, they are all good friends. Aren’t they?

One Missing Husband.

Now the police have come knocking. Someone knows something.

And the trouble with secrets is that someone always tells.

For fans of Big Little Lies, The Rumour and I Invited Her In, this is first class psychological suspense from the critically acclaimed Sarah J Naughton.

 

Rating: four-stars

Five women, Chrissy, Electra, Skye, Jen and Bella, never would be friends if it weren’t for one thing they have in common – children. They met at a prenatal classes and somehow their friendship remained and they keep meeting at each other’s houses for a drink or two. But can we really call it a friendship? Do they like each other? Will they help each other if, let’s say, Bella’s husband went missing? Because he did, and police investigates, although they don’t seem too worried. Until some other events come to light and they start to dig deeper. What has happened? And do the mothers have anything to do with him missing?

The story jumps between past and present, recalling the events that happened, leading up to the disappearance, and what happened later. It’s more a character driven story but the pace is well enough to keep you hooked to the pages. Now, in retrospect, I think that really, the chapters dedicated to the police investigation didn’t really bring anything new or fresh to the story, but I get it, they had to be there. Nevertheless, we are given a chance for a great insight into the characters’ lives, and into the unusual friendship, and also to all the secrets and lies. Knowing all of those things, of the mothers’ stories in more details, gave us another view, another dimension. But the less you know, the better, you simply have to read the book for yourself!

So we hear each women’s point of view. And believe me, they managed to pull the wool over my eyes. They are not immediately likeable, to be honest, or they don’t become likeable, but I couldn’t help but feeling sympathetic towards them. Nevertheless, they were really well drawn and quickly become real, living and breathing people, with all their biggest or smaller problems and troubles. They are full of flaws but all the same you’ll find yourself rooting for them. Chrissy, Electra, Skye, Jen and Bella couldn’t be more different, even if they tried, but it is this diversity that made them so intriguing and interesting. They simply worked well together, and the friendship, even if they didn’t share a lot in common, seemed real and genuine – maybe because of the fact that they didn’t share a lot in common, that they were honest with their opinions. They were believable and well developed, and written in a way that had you hooked to all of their stories, without singling out one character or the other. Each of the mothers’ voice is distinctive and clear and you don’t forget who you are following.
And really, I couldn’t care less with what has happened with the missing husband – he was such an awful person that whatever would have happened to him, he deserved it. The more I learnt about him, the more convinced was I that Bella would be really better without him, so there.

Somewhere in the middle the book seemed to have lost its impact but the end changed everything. I couldn’t stop chuckling to myself and I wanted to give the women a standing ovation.

It is absolutely not a straightforward and predictable story, oh no, it is full of secrets, lies, betrayals and turns and twists. The author has so cleverly plotted the story, filling it with really normal, natural and human characters and events, creating sometimes witty, sometimes sad and desperate tale of parenthood and friendship, mixing it with the element of mystery. There were many possibilities and scenarios and I liked how the author allowed for this to happen, and even better was the end, so surprising and actually funny, but moreover, hugely satisfying.

“The Mothers” is a slow but cleverly plotted book, refreshing and a bit different. It touches about friendship, betrayal, hope and the human side of each of us. It is so much more than only a case of a missing husband. It explores relationships and hardships, ups and downs of everyday life and it was so cleverly constructed, letting us to slowly peel back all the layers throughout a compelling story full of secrets and lies. Truly recommended!

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

 

Publisher: Viking 45837015._sy475_

Publishing Date: 20th February 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A heart-wrenching, life-affirming novel about a 12-year-old boy who is the sole survivor of a deadly plane crash

One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 216 passengers aboard: among them a Wall Street millionaire; a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.

Dear Edward recounts the stories of the passengers aboard that flight as it hurtles toward its fateful end, and depicts Edward’s life in the crash’s aftermath as he tries to make sense of the loss of his family, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and the meaning of his survival. As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront one of life’s most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given?’

Rating: five-stars

 

Eddie’s family is moving from New York to Los Angeles, boarding flight 2977 with other, almost two hundred, passengers.
The plane crashes.
191 people, including Eddie’s family, die. Eddie survives. At the tender age of 12, Edward must learn how to come to terms with his grief and loss of his mother, father and brother. As a sole survivor, he becomes the centre of public interest. He goes to live in New Jersey with his Aunt Lacey, who also grieves after the lost of her sister, and his Uncle John, who wants to protect him from any harm. He also has to come to terms with going to a new school, with so many new situations – his greatest solace is a friendship with Shay, a girl of his own age living in a home next to his, and the most beautiful friendship develops.

I usually write long reviews but this book, well, sometimes less is more. Sometimes you simply have to go into the novel with open mind and open soul, and it is this kind of book, a tale that you need to read yourself, and I don’t want to spoil this beautiful reading experience for you. It is a book that you want to read again like for the first time, not knowing how exceptional it is.

The characters, even though I found myself not liking all of them, were very well developed and well, you just get so used to them throughout the story, and you can’t help but grieve for them. There is a soldier on his way home, a pregnant woman hoping for her boyfriend to propose, a dying tycoon, a woman fleeing her old life… They all have hopes, plans, background stories and they all left behind people loving them. I loved how the author gave us insight into their personalities as well, focusing not only on Edward’s grief and sadness but also on their individual stories telling us why they found themselves on the flight.

I think it was double as moving and touching because of the fact that Edward was such a young boy, to young to be weighed down by such grief, loss and also guilt. The enormity of the situation, of his feelings and emotions is often unendurable by an adult, and what about a young boy? You know that I often have problems with child – narrators, they often don’t work for me as their voices and personalities seem often too childish or too grown but this time Edward was a perfect narrator. His emotional struggles, and the burden of his survivor’s guilt are really well captured and the author deals with them in a compassionate and age – appropriated way.

Edward’s grief was heart – breaking, particularly the moments when he thought about his older brother Jordan, with whom he shared such a special bond. You won’t be able not to think how you would feel in Edward’s situation – it is easy but also really hard to imagine: I couldn’t imagine losing my whole family but I could imagine how I would feel without them, and so it doesn’t take long to fell for Edward, to feel his pain.

It was a heart – breaking, emotional and beautifully, almost lyrically, written tale that will tug at your heartstrings and will stay with you for a long time. It was full of sadness but also filled with hope and survival, friendship and caring, and seeing so many kind characters truly restore my hope in humanity. Highly recommended!

 

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It Started with a Secret by Jill Mansell / Blog Tour

It Started with a Secret by Jill Mansell

 

Publisher: Headline 41q0abrxgrl._sx325_bo1204203200_

Publishing Date: 23rd January 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 11.06.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Jill’s Mansell’s heart-warming new book is the feel-good novel of 2020. A beautiful Cornish setting, a chaotic family in need of loving care, a woman who’s had enough of romance – or has she? Not to be missed by readers of Katie Fforde and Millie Johnson.

When Lainey’s latest romance goes pear-shaped – she thought it was for ever; he thought it was just for now – she decides enough is enough. Whoever said it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all really didn’t know what they were talking about. And so, when she starts her new job helping out a chaotic family in Cornwall, she is definitely Not Interested in her boss’s step-son Seth, however attractive he might be (that’s Very Attractive, as it happens). Especially as Seth has a perfectly delightful girlfriend. But Lainey hasn’t been entirely honest about her life, and Seth’s not quite what he seems either. When everyone has something to hide, it’s complicated! And yet love does have a habit of finding a way…

Rating: five-stars

 

Lainey and her best friend Kit find themselves out of work. Having been working at the chateau in France, they are now returning to England, hoping to find a new job. This is when Lainey spots an ad for a couple to run a home in an idyllic and beautiful seaside village of St Carys in Cornwall. Desperate to get this position, they pretend to be a couple in love and indeed, they get it, helping now a brilliantly chaotic family that consists of Sir Richary Myles, a well know and now retired actor, his daughter – in – law Majella, her three kids, two dogs, and Seth, her stepson. And while Lainey is not looking for a new relationship, can it be that there are sparks flying between her and Seth? But Seth believes she’s in relationship with Kit… Oh, if only she hasn’t lied at the beginning…

I have read and enjoyed all Jill Mansell’s books and I now I can’t imagine a January without her new release. I know I’m in a pair of safe hands when starting Ms Mansell’s novel. Actually, I’ve read this book almost in one sitting, and yes, it was also because my review copy arrived realllllly late and I had to be quick to be ready for my blog tour stop, but also because this book was a real joy.

As usual, the author introduces us to a bunch of such brilliant and vivid characters! Even if at the beginning you may wonder what they may have in common, are they so significant to each other, you then learn that they all fill a purpose and you get a perfectly satisfying and neatly wrapped up end. However, before it happens, be prepared for a wonderful rollercoaster journey, full of twists and turns – as nothing is straightforward in this story.

I quickly grew fond of the characters and found myself really caring about them, and this is always a sign of really well written cast. Lainey was an absolutely smashing leading heroine, there was something special in her, and she had this incredible talent to feel well and comfortable not only in her own skin but also in every single place and around all people. She was easy – going, had a great relationship with every single member of the family and she was so sensitive that she always knew when somebody had a secret or was in troubles, bringing out the best in each person. She was kind, quirky and bubbly, full of life and it is impossible not to like her from the very beginning.
I loved the way Seth was written – not at all straightforward, there was so much more to him than met the eye, and behind this mysterious personality he’s been hiding a huge heart. He was honest, charming and always fair and I really liked him. And Majella, oh my word, Majella and her dating disasters were absolutely brilliant, finally some dates that felt original, fresh and naturally funny. And let’s not forget Richard, charismatic, incredibly funny with a huge community of loyal fans hoping to get a glimpse of him.

It was a wonderful and bright story, this time a little bit more light – hearted than Jill Mansell’s previous novels – yes, also touching about some more serious matters but I think that overall the tone was simply lighter, and I enjoyed this fact immensely. Next to the lightness and humour there are also some more poignant, deeper, soul – searching moment and events and the author has balanced them perfectly.

“It Started with a Secret” is a fast – paced story that flows effortlessly and feels so natural. The writing style is colourful, vivid and chatty and I immediately felt at home with the storyline and the book is so readable, if it makes sense? The plot is interesting and unique, and feels like a breath of fresh air, and even though there are plenty of characters (charming characters, let me add) it is so easy to keep on track with all of them. I enjoyed it from start to finish, but I didn’t expect to be different, and I can easily assure you – go, buy the book and thank me later for recommendation! It’s a gorgeous gem of a book!

 

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A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy

A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy

 

Publisher: Constable 49621418._sy475_

Publishing Date: 2nd February 2020

Series: Lena Szarka Mysteries #3

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Mystery

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The only way is murder…

Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner working in London, is forced to brush up on her detective skills for a third time when her cousin Sarika is plunged into danger.

Sarika and her reality TV star boyfriend Terry both receive threatening notes. When Terry stops calling, Lena assumes he’s lost interest. Until he turns up. Dead. Lena knows she must act fast to keep her cousin from the same fate.

Scrubbing her way through the grubby world of reality television, online dating and betrayed lovers, Lena finds it harder than she thought to discern what’s real – and what’s just for the cameras.

Rating: three-stars

 

Lena Szarka is a full – time cleaner in London, very prone to land herself in situations that end with crime. This time it’s about her cousin Sarika’s boyfriend, Terry Tibs, who is also a reality TV star. He’s found dead in a hotel room, in very suspicious circumstances, and Lena has to put all of her detective skills to good use in order to find out what has happened to Terry.

The main character Lena was really well written. I liked the way she was, ambitious, observant, calm and level – headed. She took pride in her work and always took great care to be there for her clients, to accommodate all their quirks and wishes, often having to use her crime – solving talents at the same time. I admired her talents for getting the information that she needed, and not only because she was a cleaner, and yes, people tend not to notice cleaners, but she was also clever and was able to draw conclusions.

This is the third book in the series and even though I haven’t read the two previous ones, and even though you could immediately tell that the characters’ have their background, their past and that they had some adventures together, it was easy to get into the heart of the story. I think it was because of the lovely, wry and down – to – earth writing style that is also easy to get along with. Elizabeth Mundy’s writing is incredibly vivid, chatty and the descriptions are rich and eloquent without over – powering you with its eloquence.

It was a lovely, comfortable and cosy read but I needed more from it, more depth, complexity and challenge. The author has added some twists and turns but they were not of life – changing quality and altogether the book was for me more cosy than complex. Sure, it kept me guessing but not in that desperate way, I didn’t have to know immediately who and why. It was probably because of the supporting characters that were not as deep as I’d like them, and the stories surrounding them felt a bit too easy. And I couldn’t stand Lena’s cousin, I’m sorry, but this character has mostly ruined the book for me – a whingy, egoistic and self – centred girl that thought the whole world should run around her. Altogether, “A Messy Affair” was an enjoyable, easy read that made me curious about the whole series. It was quirky, refreshing and had an memorable heroine.

The Neighbours by Nicola Gill

The Neighbours by Nicola Gill

 

Publisher: Avon 47552712._sy475_

Publishing Date: 6th February 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Meet Ginny, 34, and Cassie, 55. Neighbours, and (very) unlikely friends.

Some women have it all. Others are thirty-four and rent a tiny flat alone because they recently found their long-term boyfriend in bed with their boss. Newly single and jobless, Ginny Taylor is certain her life can’t get any worse. But then she encounters her downstairs neighbour for the very first time…

Cassie Frost was a once-loved actress, but after a recent mishap she desperately needs a new publicist. And Ginny is a publicist who desperately needs a job – but can she be persuaded to work for the uber-difficult, excessively prickly woman that lives below her floorboards?

Ginny and Cassie are two very different women, but they have a lot more in common than they’d care to imagine (or admit). And when their worlds finally collide, they realise that sometimes – just sometimes – bad neighbours become good friends…

A funny, honest and moving exploration of life, love, friendship and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of your thirties… and beyond. Perfect for fans of Holly Bourne, Beth O’Leary and Sarah Haywood’s The Cactus.

Rating:  three-stars

 

Ginny Taylor is almost sure that her on – again – off – again boyfriend Jack is finally ready to commit. But then she finds him in bed with her own boss. Now she’s not only single but also jobless.
Ginny’s neighbour Cassie Frost used to be a popular and well loved actress but it’s all in the past now. The recent stint on reality TV portrayed her really badly so she desperately needs a positive PR. Her neighbour Ginny is a publicist, so maybe those two can help each other?

The story is told from Ginny’s point of view but also going deep into other characters’ issues. However, even though Ginny was the main heroine, I think I could better connect with Cassie – she was simply more 3 – dimensional than Ginny, and she was strong, determined and had a passion, even when she was at the weakest point. Ginny, on the other hand, seemed too flat, too whinge-y and I somehow cannot warm to her completely. She made some really crappy decisions, I didn’t get her choices and altogether we couldn’t be friends, me and Ginny, even though I have a soft spot for characters with this name. But I liked the unlikely friendship that developed between the women, the way they embarked on life, life full of ups and downs, facing up to all the challenges. It is a story of two women, with rather ordinary lives, but this made them more believable and likeable, even though one of the character’s was an actress you could relate to them.

I loved the beginning of this book. It was funny, light – hearted and intriguing. But the more I read, the less hooking the book was coming. I started to have a feeling that it doesn’t know in which direction it wants to take us – there were many ideas, the author touched upon many issues but it felt underdeveloped and chopped. The main character wanted to befriend a neighbour? Done – chop. The main character didn’t want her boyfriend? Done – chop. The issues of depression? Chop. Short romance? Chop. Main character suddenly wants a baby? And then chop and it’s time for another issue.

The overall feeling that I got from this book was of sadness, darkness and depression. Actually, I was surprised at the change of tone, as the beginning was rather light, witty and engaging, and then, suddenly, the darkness came and where I was looking for light – hearted humour, I didn’t find any. And after that, it takes a bit of time to get into the heart of the story, as it seems a little disjointed and unstructured. It is a book with more depth than you expect, telling a story of the unlikely friendship, of growing to see the important things in life, also dealing with some heavier issues such as depression, showing the characters’ personal development. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting but it seems to be an issue lately, however it was still an enjoyable enough book.

My Great Ex – Scape by Portia MacIntosh

My Great Ex – Scape by Portia MacIntosh

 

Publisher: Boldwood Books 48642327._sy475_

Publishing Date: 16th January 2020

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

Number of pages: 278

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

What if your future was somewhere in your past?

Rosie Jones has been dumped by every boyfriend she’s ever had – most recently by Dinosaur Dave, live on TV, during the ‘phone-a-friend’ segment of a quiz show.
After the footage goes viral Rosie receives a bunch of flowers with a message:

I love you, I should have never let you go, I want you back x

But who sent them?

At a loose end and with £50,000 prize money in her back pocket, Rosie decides to take a trip down memory lane, visiting each of her ex-boyfriends to see not just if they are the one who sent the flowers but if they are the one.

Her journey takes her back to the house she grew up in and on a transatlantic cruise to New York, but can Rosie figure out which ex-boyfriend is the love of her life, or should the past stay in the past?

Rating: three-stars

 

After winning a lot of money and being dumped by her boyfriend on live TV at the same time, Rosie’s big moment goes further – it’s not only shared on the internet but she also finds a bunch of flowers on her doorstep. There is only a message telling “I love you. I should never have let you go. I want you back”. Rosie assumes the flowers are from Dave, the one who humiliated her on TV. But they’re not. Are they from one of her other ex – boyfriends? She decides to embark on an adventure of finding out who has sent the flowers – and she’s not doing it alone but with her parents and one of her exes who has turned out gay, on a cruise to New York.

There was a lot of potential in this novel and I am surprised that Portia MacIntosh has allowed her story to feel so unfinished, so under – developed. Yes, it was a light – hearted, easy read but lacking in execution. And again, the publisher doesn’t help, advertising the book as a “laugh – out – loud romantic comedy” while there is little romance and little comedy, to be honest.

The first three exes are really quickly discounted and the main focus of the story switches to Rosie on the cruise ship, and I thought, why? Why so quickly? Portia, gimme more! Some more info on them, some gory details maybe, why give the last two a better chance?
I also didn’t understand the Rosie’s desperation to reconnect with her ex so much. Why? Yes, she got a bouquet of flowers (once again, why? I didn’t get it, why to send flowers without telling who has sent them, I mean, when you really want to win your ex back, then at least bite the bullet and write they’re from you), but there is a reason that your ex is your ex, no? And Rosie was extremely, I repeat, extremely focused on reconnecting with her exes. Why, Rosie, why? Are you so desperate to have a man on your side, or you really doesn’t know what to do with your life? Are you bored? The author didn’t really sell this idea to me. And let’s be honest, we all know Portia MacIntosh, we know how funny her books can be, and this one has left me feeling so lukewarm and disappointed that I didn’t find this promised and expected fun.

The reason why I didn’t warm to Rosie so completely is probably because I simply didn’t understand her desire to reconnect with all her ex – boyfriends. However, altogether, she was a brilliant character – relatable, liking her food and not fussing about her weight (finally! What a lovely change!), not knowing what to do with her life. I rather liked how clueless she was, almost in all aspects of her life, it was actually funny and not annoying, which is already a good thing. She really had a big heart and was a kind person, and really, you had to like her after she was so brave to shake off the humiliation, behaving as if nothing has happened – and it was also great. Instead of wallowing in self – pity, Rosie simply takes herself on an adventure – most of the story is set on a cruise ship, which I liked very much, especially, as it turned out, it was not your usual cruise – ship, and Rosie and Eli were actually the youngest guests on board, which led to some of the most awkward scenes.

The pace of the story is rather slow. There are some scenes that lightened the whole tone, bringing the long awaited humour and smile. And while the author’s sense of humour is absolutely my kind of sense of humour, this time it felt a bit too forced, as if she tried too hard. Overall, it was a light and easy read, with some witty scenes and some great ideas. It’s not a bad book by any means, it’s just not Portia MacIntosh’s best.

The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller

The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller

 

Publisher: Bookouture 48589660._sy475_

Publishing Date: 9th January 2020

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

Number of pages: 327

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

You’ve met Mrs Bright. She’s that nice woman who lives three doors down and always smiles at you in the mornings. She’s planning her thirtieth wedding anniversary with her husband. She wants to travel, read endless books and take beautiful pictures. She’s been waiting for this forever.

For the past twenty-nine years, Kay Bright’s days have had a familiar rhythm: she works in her husband’s stationery shop, cooks for her family, tries to remember to practice yoga, and every other month she writes to her best friend, Ursula, and Ursula replies. Kay could set her calendar by their letters: her heart lifts when the blue airmail envelope, addressed in Ursula’s slanting handwriting, falls gently onto the mat.

Ursula is the only one who knows Kay’s deepest secret, something that happened decades ago that could tear Kay’s life apart today. Ursula has always been the person Kay relies on. Knowing she will hear from Ursula is like being sure the sun will rise tomorrow.

And now Ursula has stopped writing. Three missing letters doesn’t sound like a lot, but Kay gets out her shoebox of notes from her best friend, in case there’s something she overlooked. Ursula seems fine, but the further back she goes, the more Kay begins to question every choice she has made in her life. Which might be why, at ten o’clock one morning, Kay walks out of her yellow front door with a just a rucksack, leaving her wedding ring on the table…

An emotional and heart-warming novel for anyone who knows it’s never too late to look for happiness. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, A Man Called Ove and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will fall in love with this feel-good and moving story that shows you that the best friendships truly last forever.

Rating: four-stars

 

Kay Bright has been married for 29 years. She’s in her early 50s, has two children and is working together with her husband in their family business.
Kay Bright is unhappy.
When her best friend Ursula (called Bear – no idea why, to be honest) moved to Australia 30 years ago, they both promised to write to each other, at least once a month. And they kept their word. However, now, Kay hasn’t heard from Bear for three months in a row and she’s getting worried. She doesn’t want to call – they said that they’re going to use a telephone only when it’s a matter of life and death, so she decides to head to Australia. Which means that she’s going to leave her stagnant life, together with husband, behind. She can’t put into words reasons for her need to leave, but she knows that she can’t live like this any longer, and so she decides to be egoistic this once, and goes. Will she find happiness? Will she find out what’s happening with Ursula? Will her closest ones accept her decisions?

Even though the story is told through mostly Kay and Stella’s points of view, we get to know the other characters as well and we get to see all the different reactions to Kay’s decision to leave her husband of almost thirty years. I liked Kay – she has eventually found the courage to be herself, to start doing things she has always wanted to do but never had a chance to do. Those both subplots, even though revolving around two different women, were actually about the same thing – finding happiness, trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives – and telling them in this way added a lot of depth, I think, the different perspectives of two different generations were absorbing and interesting. However, Stella’s story, or rather her character’s arc, was not my favourite one, not sure why. I know, she was a young person, discovering herself, and there were truly great moments in her subplot, but she as a person, as a character, was simply not clicking with me. Maybe I felt like this towards Stella because, well, she was an adult, right, yet she behaved around her mother like a little girl, not accepting that Kay is allowed to make up her own decisions, even if they seem to be egoistic. Kay has sacrificed everything for her family, and it’s not a wonder that eventually she wanted something back – she wanted her happiness and the feeling of independence back. And Stella didn’t want to give it to her mother, making her feel guilty. And I didn’t like it. Though, of course, her narration has added a breath of fresh air, another perspective to Kay’s story.
There is also, of course, the worry and mystery around Bear, though I relatively quickly guessed what it is, and to be absolutely honest I was not so found of Bear, I didn’t feel I know her well enough to root for her, and while I felt sorry for her it didn’t make a huge impact on me.

In the end, everything was perfectly wrapped up, maybe a bit too tidy? Also, the emotions and feelings, while present on almost every single page and handled with care, were not as deeply captured as I’d like them, they were a bit too two – dimensional. And there were a few moments that felt too forced, not so smooth compared to the rest of the story, or simply things that I could really live without them being put in this book.

This book is really well written, can I say that it’s, I don’t know, so easily readable? It’s chatty, and the pace is just right, flowing well and making it a quick read. The writing style is so vivid, bringing the characters to life, but also the different settings simply came alive through the author’s words.

But altogether, I haven’t expected “The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright” to be so captivating and moving. I really liked the way it was written, interlacing two perspectives, two points of view, giving us a wider view at the same situations and events. It was filled with dry and clever humour and spot – on observations. It dealt with many more topics, going deeper than I expected, which was a rather nice surprise, as it was well worked and coherent. It was a lovely, heart – warming tale about friendship, families, starting anew, second chances, showing us it’s never too late to be brave. Recommended!

The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper / Blog Tour

The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper

 

Publisher: Headline 45166792

Publishing Date: 9th January 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

From the author of The Songs of Us. Fans of Jojo Moyes and Lucy Dillon will love The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper.

Six-foot-two Irish man who answers to the name Samuel McLaughlin.
Has weak shins and enjoys show tunes.
If found, please return to Sophie Williams.

Before Sophie met Samuel she saw the world in grey.
Before Samuel met Sophie, he never believed in love at first sight.

When they first meet, something tells them they are meant to be.
But fate has other ideas.

Now they have lost each other and can’t see a way back.
But they’ve already changed each other’s lives in more ways
than they could have predicted…

Rating:  five-stars

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“The First Time I Saw You” introduces us to Sophie, at the first sight a career – driven young woman who knows what she wants. And to Samuel, an Irish living in America, working in IT. They both meet when Sophie is on business in Washington, in the middle of a thunderstorm, and they’re completely smitten with each other. They spent a wonderful week together and then the things get complicated.
Even though there is this wonderful sparkle between them, even though they can’t live without each other, they can’t be together. Or can they? Finding each other again is not easy…

I loved Emma Cooper’s debut novel but guys! I might have loved “The First Time I Saw You” even more! It is always with trepidation that I start reading the authors’ second book after their debut was so great, fearing that the new book won’t live up to my expectations, but it’s not the case with this novel. It blew my socks off, it left me in pieces and it left me feeling that there is always hope. So oh my word, please send help, because how to write a review that will do this book justice? Mission impossible, I’d say. Because this book was beautiful. It was everything. It has broken my heart, to mend it again, to break it again. It made me laugh out so loud and it made me sob – literally.

I can’t even start to explain how fantastic the characters were. I immediately fell in love with all of them, with Sophie and Samuel at the beginning and then with the rest, steadily being introduced to us.
Sophie was not, as we can think at the first sight, the raw and sharp businesswoman – she hides much, much more inside her, and the more I got to know her and her background, the more I found myself pinning for her. I don’t think that she has changed throughout the story – she was like this all the time, she only tried to hide this vulnerable side of herself from the world, she tried to forget about it herself, but the more life has been challenging her and her decisions, the more softer she looked for us. The events that have shaped her and made her close inside herself were truly riveting and heart – breaking.
Samuel was one and only, and his story was both tragic and uplifting but who stole the story completely were his parents, the fabulous Mrs and Mr McLaughlin – please let’s give them a standing ovation! Samuel’s father, with his kind heart and understanding and the best sense of humour in the world is every girl’s dream father – in – law, some of the things he said made me really cry with laughter, and some of the things he said and done made me simply cry, bringing lump to my throat. Actually, his whole family was the perfect, chaotic and absolutely accepting family you could wish for. It was moving to see how they tried to support Samuel, to encourage him to get on with life.
And please don’t forget Michael! Michael, that Samuel grows to rely on most of all. How can a thing make you smile so much, even in such dramatic circumstances!

The author has such a way with words! She writes about love at first sight and lost love but she also doesn’t forget to put all kinds of relationships into the heart of her story. We have a romantic affair, but we also have sibling love, parental love, friendship, relationships that are complicated but at the end of the day they are everything, they’re important and life is easier with people looking after each other.

Emma Cooper’s writing style is absolutely perfect. Yes, the book started in a rather slow way, and in the first few chapters the same events were repeated from the characters’ point of view, and I thought, oh – oh, what now? But then… But then it was like an avalanche, starting with a small snowball and gaining speed. I started to feel so invested in the story that I didn’t want to put it down for a single second. It had a huge impact on me, I lived and breathed together with the characters.

Emma has perfectly balanced the poignant, incredibly sad and heart – wrenching moments with laugh – out – loud, extremely funny moments, so really, don’t be surprised when you find yourself laughing through tears. Yes, altogether the story is actually not funny, it is full of misunderstanding, lost chances and opportunities, near – misses that I couldn’t believe seeing, thinking, oh no, how close have they been! It is deep, moving and complex, a real emotional rollercoaster but filled with a great and fantastic dose of – especially Irish – humour.

The magic of the writing is that the author took me on every trial together with the characters. I lived through them and I felt every single feeling – their disappointments, hope, setbacks and steps forwards. I was willing them and feeling for them, I care for them as if they were real people, and believe me, it doesn’t happen often, it’s a rare gift to be able to write the characters in such a way, to make them so alive.

It was a beautiful, heartfelt and emotional story, superbly written, vividly describing emotions and feelings in a way that I didn’t know you could describe. The characters were more than brilliantly developed and their stories were complex, multi – layered and coherent, not too sugary but also not too wishy – washy. It was a moving and inspiring tale, touching upon lost love, missed opportunities, relationships, friendships and unappreciated power of family, with sensitivity and lightness. It is full of kindness and the feeling that even when you think there is no hope, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel, you only have to believe it. 10 out of 5 stars and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

 

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The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen by Juliet Ashton / Blog Tour

The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen by Juliet Ashton

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 48997438._sy475_

Publishing Date: 26th December 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 480

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

This is a novel about community, love, laughter and healing. Think Cold Feet meets David Nicholls, with a dash of the joy of Jill Mansell added for good measure.

It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but Cherry Blossom Mews is a miraculous place. It’s somewhere that finds you, rather than the other way around.

Sadie McQueen has leased a double fronted space in this small cul de sac in a culturally diverse corner of central London. The cobbles muffle the noise of double-deckers roaring past the arched gates. Turn right and you are in a futuristic maze of corporate glass monoliths. Turn left and you see a wide street with many different houses. Towering above the mews are the degenerating tower blocks of an infamous estate. The old folks home and the nearby school are both in need of TLC; the private members’ club that set up shop in a listed Georgian building has been discreetly refurbished at huge expense.

Into this confusion comes Sadie. She fell in love with the street the moment she first twisted her ankle on its cobbles. Her double-fronted unit is now a spa. She has sunk all her money into the lease and refurbishment. She’s sunk all her hope into the carefully designed treatment rooms, the calm white reception space, the bijou flat carved out of the floor above.

Sadie has a mission to connect. To heal herself from tragedy. Sadie has wrapped the mews around her like a warm blanket, after unimaginable loss and unimaginable guilt. Her hard-won peace is threatened, not only by the prospect of the mews going under but by a man aptly named Hero who wakes up her comatose heart.
Sadie has a lot to give, and a lot to learn, not least that some ghosts aren’t ghosts at all.

Rating:  five-stars

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Sadie McQueen lives on Cherry Blossom Mews, in a community that – you quickly start to learn – is made up of people that are in troubles, have problems, tragic pasts, feel no hope, and even if they don’t realise this, the landlord of the mews has realised it and amassed all those lost souls together. The residents meet regularly at their association meetings where they are supposed to have an “agenda” but the meetings always end with gossip and exchanging news. They support each other incredibly, even if they do this without knowing this.
The little community means everything to Sadie. It is a place where she can heal her heart and start her life again after a tragic event in the past. She sets up Sakura, a spa, where she employs the incredibly honest and mouthy Fi and, even if she isn’t sure if it’s a good move, Cher, a sister to the local mafia – twins. And then U – Turn, a therapy centre for addicted moves to the mews, even with some opposition from the neighbours, and there is Hero, and Sadie has a chance to move with him, to come out of her shell, maybe even find love, but can she forgive herself for what has happened in the past?

It is really, really hard to write review for this book, I actually put it off for the last moment, a day or two before my stop on the blog tour, and the reason for this is very obvious – this book is so wonderful, this book is everything, this book is a gem of a read – what more can I say? I loved it from the beginning to the end, lived and breathed with the characters and yes, it left me in pieces but also feeling so positive.

Juliet Ashton can for sure write her characters, giving them incredibly huge personalities. The banter and interactions between them feel so real, raw and genuine. There is a whole eclectic bunch of them, all so different and with different personalities but all with strong, distinctive voices and you can’t help but immediately fell in love with all of them. Amber and her Yummy Mummy Cafe and Party Emporium, serving all things vegan and showing her perfect live on Instagram. Bob and Mrs. Bob with their cafe, Mary with the dogs, slowly learning about her family betrayal and regaining hope, running officially MOBuk charity shop and, unofficially, another charity that you’re going to learn about when you read the book, Hero with his broken marriage and privileged background, Cher and her notorious criminal twins, Michael with Qwerty bookshop, Fi, feisty, quirky and strong on the outside but so vulnerable inside. And there are some other characters, that I won’t mention but that are so important and significant to the plot – all of them were endearing, all of them broken, all of them needing each other and , deliberately or not, healing each other through their acceptance, friendship and compassion.
And Sadie, who is at the heart of this book, so brave and strong. The more I read, the more I loved this woman, my heart went to her. There were things in the past she’d rather forget, and honestly, if I were Sadie, I’m not sure I’d have enough strength and determination to get back up and try again. She, on the other hand, lost herself to find herself afresh, went where nobody knew her to build a new life for herself. I wished all the best for her, and seeing her coming across every new obstacle that life has been throwing her way, I wanted to give her a standing ovation. Learning about the horrors of her past and her losses helped to understand her wanting to be anonymous, not being able to open to new love, her terrible guilt but also it made me wish desperately that she’s going to find the highly deserved peace.

Each chapter starts with the invitation to the weekly Cherry Blossom Mews Residents Association meeting, and the more you read, the more you start to appreciate them, as they brilliantly capture the nature of the hosts. The meetings themselves are incredibly entertaining, fabulous parts of the book, where more gossip was shared than actual work done but there was so much heart in those meetings! And they actually tell the real stories of the characters, sharing their illnesses, betrayal, deaths, addictions and hopes, while dealt with empathy and understanding from the other residents, showing that also a community of generally strangers can be closer to you than your family. But of course, there are also things happening between the meetings, things that will make you smile, laugh, cry and start to believe that there is hope.

The book is full of poignant moments that are brilliantly written with humour added to them. It’s not too saccharine, not all sugar, and there isn’t always a happy end, and the balance between sad and funny, happy and heartbreak is absolutely perfectly measured. Sure, there were things that were too coincidental, and some that didn’t ring so true to me – though I don’t want to tell you what exactly it was, as I’m immediately going to spoil one of the biggest turns in the story – but really, everything happens for a reason, right, and it did work in this story perfectly well, as the plot was solid, thoughtful, well concocted and believable, even with the little hiccups.

“The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen” was a heart – breaking and heart – mending beautiful story about small community, about friendship, hope, love, loss and grief, filled with secrets, lies and misunderstandings, about finding support and friendship that is stronger than any other bonds. The author, as usual, touches upon many serious issues, she writes about alcoholism, abuse, addictions, social media but she writes with tons of understanding, without judging, giving us a wider spectrum. It’s a gorgeously written book and the characters were full of life, feelings and sentiments, being able to speak about emotions in a way I wasn’t even sure is possible. It shows life how it is, raw and brutal, full of surprises and twists that don’t always lead to happy ends. The book, the characters are going to stay with me for a long time, I will be recommending this book left and right – it’s a MUST read that deserves to be shouted about from the rooftops.

 

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