The Break Up by Tilly Tennant

The Break Up by Tilly Tennant

 

Publisher: Bookouture 50627236._sy475_

Publishing Date: 26th  March 2020

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

Number of pages: 315

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:
What happens when Mr Right goes rogue?

Lara doesn’t have a back-up plan. So when her safe-bet boyfriend Lucien dumps her for her best friend, Lara’s world implodes. Life after the break up stretches bleakly ahead, lonely evenings on the sofa with only a bottle of wine and her grey cat Fluffy for company…

Down the road, Theo loves his job as a jazz musician, giving other people great nights out before coming home in the early hours and unwinding with his loyal cat Satchmo.

What they don’t know is that it’s the same cat.

And when they find out, standing in the streets in their pyjamas, both on the hunt for their lost pet, sparks of the wrong sort fly.

Lara can’t deny that Theo is one of the most gorgeous men she’s ever met, but she can see exactly why he’s still single. They do say opposites attract… but is she ready to move on? And when Lucien comes back into the picture, will she be tempted back to her life before the break up, or risk everything on the chance of something new?

A wonderfully warm will-they-won’t-they romantic read that will have you laughing one minute and crying the next. If you’re a fan of Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews, The Break Up is the love story you’ve been waiting for.
Previously titled: A Cat Called Cupid

Rating: three-stars

 

“The Break – Up” introduces us to Lara Nightingale, currently dumped by her boyfriend after finding out that he’s been cheating on her with her best friend Siobhan! But no worries, fast forward a year and everything looks a little better for Lara. Her new wedding planning business is already running smoothly and she makes a name for herself, and her stray cat Fluffy is her best friend now. Only, Fluffy likes to wander in the neighbourhood and disappears for few days. One evening, looking for her loss, Lara encounters Theo who claims Fluffy is his and his name is Satchmo. Their first meeting isn’t too nice and then Lara seems to see Theo everywhere she goes – can she keep her emotions in check? And can she eventually convince him that Fluffy’s name is Fluffy and it’s her cat?

Personally I thought that the cat is going to play much more significant role, especially when the title was still “The Cat Called Cupid” (but I must say that this other title, “The Break”, is also not much better than the first one, yes, I know, Lara has broken up with her boyfriend but is it worth the whole title? ), and I was a bit disappointed that there were only few scenes with him, or rather without him as he was running away all the time. And I’ve never thought I’m going to tell this, that I was missing a cat, as I am much more a dog person and yes, I’m going to say this now loud, I don’t like cats.

The story started in a very promising way but then it went a little downhill for me – it started to feel flat and I had a feeling that the whole wedding – planning business takes our attention away from the main plot. At the beginning there were so many great scenes, for example the first meeting between Lara and Theo and I loved how he called her karate – kid later, and it’s a real pity that then the book started to feel somehow so forced and predictable.

Lara and Theo were characters full of warmth, however they just felt too two – dimensional, I’ve missed more depth in them, especially Theo whom, I have a feeling, I got to know only in terms of his good – looks. Some of their encounters were brilliantly hilarious, however the things between them escalated so quickly that I thought I’ve missed something – one minute they hate each other, the next they’re crazy in love and planning their future. I don’t know, I think I enjoyed them more as opponents than a couple, they were simply much funnier then. Of course, they are both such typical rom – com characters, jumping to conclusions, not being able to communicate, quite thick – headed and blowing things out of proportion, making me feel desperate. What’s more, it mostly took the characters’ ages until they were able to make up their minds, because every single thought was dissected – they were truly over thinking things and those inner monologues felt like a kind of filler.

This was a light – hearted story and Tilly Tennant is a lovely story – teller. Her writing is light and easy to follow and she can easily draw the reader into the book. However, she has also successfully incorporated some important issues in her book, like being in a manipulative relationship or pregnancy at a young age. If you are looking for an easy, not demanding read to relax for a few hours, I’m sure you’re going to enjoy this book.

The Middle Years by Liz Fraser

The Middle Years by Liz Fraser

 

Publisher: Unbound 52454323._sy475_

Publishing Date: 26th  March 2020

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

Number of pages: 416

Genre: Non – Fiction, Parenting

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:
This is not a book about parenting. There are 1.3 billion of those already, and the main thrust is, ‘if possible, try not to be a shit parent.’

Instead, this is a book about us. You and me.

The knackered parents, flailing about in the supposedly ‘easier’ Middle Years, when our babies have sprouted body hair and attitudes, we’re supposed to be ‘getting our life back’ at last . . . but everything feels as if it’s gone a bit tits down.

From puberty to parents’ evenings, anxiety to A-Levels, divorce to depression, sex to social media, hormones to . . . Jesus, is that chin hair?!

This comprehensive, honest, hilarious and at times heart-breaking rummage through the Rotting Salad Drawer of Midlife™ that we all go through but nobody tells us about until we’re already drowning in it, holds your weary hand and offers a giant, life-saving snog of, ‘IT’S OK. IT’S NOT JUST YOU’.

Rating: three-stars

 

 

So, as much as I enjoy the yummy – mummies books full of babies, it’s time for me to move to the middle years, as my daughter has just turned 8, and so this Liz Fraser’s book couldn’t turn in the better moment. I am warned now, though I’ve been already suspecting what’s to come, what with the children growing up mentally much faster than we did – or, at least, it feels like this. I sometimes feel really, really like an idiot compared to my world – wise daughter. Urgh.

I enjoyed this book very much. Actually, I loved the first part about children – it was hilariously funny and light and enlightening. The second part, and as I can already see I’m not alone feeling like this, was not so brilliant. It suddenly felt much too bitter, and like a one long rant about marriage breakdown and divorce. Maybe it didn’t capture me so much as it doesn’t relate to me, however I had a feeling that the writing changed a bit there, turning from hilariously funny into bitterly mean – spirited rant.

I found the author’s observations absolutely spot – on, sharp and with a great dose of distance. The so – called “middle years” prepare us for another chapter in our lives, when children don’t need parents so much, but they do need many more other things. Money. Tablets. Horses. And no, not this trousers. It is perhaps more personal journey of the author but still I found it relatable and true to life. The writing is brutally honest and insightful and pulls you into easily. And it’s real, and I know that I’m not in this alone.

How Not To Be A Loser by Beth Moran

How Not To Be A Loser by Beth Moran

 

Publisher: Boldwood Books 52652899._sy475_

Publishing Date: 24th March 2020

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

Number of pages: 346

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Amy Piper is a loser. She’s lost her confidence, her mojo and her way.

But one thing she has never lost is her total love for her thirteen-year-old son Joey, and for his sake she knows it’s time for a change. But first she has to be brave enough to leave the house…

What she needs are friends and an adventure. And when she joins a running group of women who call themselves The Larks, she finds both. Not to mention their inspiring (and rather handsome) coach, Nathan.

Once upon a time Amy was a winner – at life, at sport and in love. Now, with every ounce of strength she has left, she is determined to reclaim the life she had, for herself and for Joey. And who knows, she might just be a winner again – at life, sport, and love, if she looks in the right places…

Uplifting, funny and unforgettable, Beth Moran returns with a joyous tale of friendship, love and facing your fears. 

Rating: five-stars

 

Amy Piper has it all.
Or rather, Amy Piper had it all. Her number one priority used to be to win swimming race after another.
Fourteen years later, Amy is agoraphobic, battling anxiety disorders, not having been able to leave her house since several years. But she wants to be a better mother to her 13 – year – old son Joey, to be able to go out and see him winning swimming race after another, to take him to swimming practice, to be involved in outside world. She wants him to be proud of her, and so she decides to put a plan into action – this is how “How Not to be a Loser” plan commences. But is such a written deal all what it takes to overcome fear?

So, I’m not sure why but it was really hard for me to get into the book. I kept glancing at the cover to see if it is really Beth Moran’s novel because, well, I’ve never had such problems before with her story, and I really started to get worried. I couldn’t connect with the main character, I couldn’t get into the story and I started to feel desperate because I couldn’t understand why. It took me long, longer than I was expecting, to completely warm to the story and to get into Amy’s head. To be honest, it was over the 50% mark that the story started to flow for me, that it gained the pace and it’s only then that I started to feel the tale, and then – well, then I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to know where the story is going to take me, wanted to know more, and well, I was simply rooting for Amy.

The way the author has got into Amy’s head and described her emotional journey is absolutely incredible. Amy has lost so much in her life, it was really heart – breaking to see, and now all these anxiety issues are controlling her life as well. She feels angry with herself that she isn’t able to share the most important moments with Joey, that this anger is not enough for her to do something. It is going to take a lot of time and help of many people, and many rules broken for her to be able to finally move on, and it was so, so uplifting to see, you will really want to give Amy a standing ovation. I loved to discover what Amy has hidden inside herself, seeing her growing into confidence, laughing at her jokes, applauding at every step she took towards overcoming her fears, enjoying her one – liners. You can’t not to fall for Amy, it’s simple like that, and you’ll want all the best for her. I loved how un – selfish she was, how – even if it was so hard to her – she always tried to find the best solution, how fair she tried to stay no matter what.
Her relationship with Joey was perfect, and this how, for his sake, she decided to overcome her fears was inspiring and huge.

The characters were absolutely fantastic, so real and true to life, with their troubles and problems and all the ups and downs that life brings.The great support network that Amy has built for herself was one of the highlights of the book. The characters brought so much to the story, not only fun and humour, but also depth, as all of them had their own important story to tell – stories that were thought – provoking and heart – breaking. Their shenanigans were something that made me laugh out loud, and their problems made me cry together with them. There was so much understanding and empathy in all those women, and it was so uplifting to see they were there for each other, no matter what.

Beth Moran has such wonderful way with words and can brilliantly write about feelings, without making the book too patronising or repetitive. She brings compassion, empathy, friendship to the pages, and she has so much understanding for her characters. “How Not to be a Loser” is an inspirational story that will make you want to put on your trainers and go for a run. It is about second chances, friendship, love and hope, hilarious and thought – provoking, and even with some of my initial issues with the book I ended loving it with all my heart. Highly recommended!

 

When Life Gives You Lemons by Fiona Gibson / Blog Tour

When Life Gives You Lemons by Fiona Gibson

 

Publisher: Avon 48639329._sy475_

Publishing Date: 5th March 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Sometimes life can be bittersweet . . .

Between tending to the whims of her seven-year-old and the demands of her boss, Viv barely gets a moment to herself. It’s not quite the life she wanted, but she hasn’t run screaming for the hills yet.

But then Viv’s husband Andy makes his mid-life crisis her problem. He’s having an affair with his (infuriatingly age-appropriate) colleague, a woman who – unlike Viv – doesn’t put on weight when she so much as glances at a cream cake.

Viv suddenly finds herself single, with zero desire to mingle. Should she be mourning the end of life as she knows it, or could this be the perfect chance to put herself first?

When life gives you lemons, lemonade just won’t cut it. Bring on the gin!

 

my-review

 

“When Life Gives You Lemons” introduces us to Viv, 52 years old, with two children, husband and stabile life. However, this life is about to change radically, when she discovers that her husbands has an affair. What follows is a story of a mature woman, coping (or not) with divorce and juggling life as a single – mother.

The book is advertised to be a hilarious romantic comedy. Publishers, please stop doing this – promising things and than not keeping your promises. It was neither hilarious nor romantic nor comedy. I don’t mean to criticise the book, because it was a nice, contemporary novel, so close to life – but perhaps it should be advertised this way.

Fiona Gibson’s characters are always real and human, and it was the same in this book. It’s a very character – driven story and Viv is the main heroine – could be your best friend, she felt so vivid and relatable, jumping off the pages. We mostly get her point of view, through her monologues and actions and thoughts on everything that is happening around her. It was actually truly uplifting and inspiring to see her growing into confidence, establishing her identity, starting to enjoy life again. She’s a character that many readers will be able to relate to and with. What I truly appreciated is the fact that nothing in her journey felt forced or overdone – no, everything seemed just like in real life, her making wrong decisions, having problems, misinterpreting situations, jumping to conclusions.
The supporting characters are a bunch of colourful, vivid people and they take care of our good mood, adding humour but also making the story this little bit more thought – provoking. They provide a range of diversion, giving Viv extra jobs and making her life fuller and complicated, hence keeping her sane (or not!).

My biggest problem was that I wasn’t sure what the book is trying to tell us. Yes, it touches upon some more difficult issues and shows character’s wonderful journey to self – confidence and discovering what it is that makes her happy, but somehow it didn’t convince me and I wasn’t sure where it’s leading at all. The pace was rather slow and there were not life – changing twists or turns, however it had its moments that made me giggle, for example Viv’s omelette – action. The author’s writing style is so easy to follow and it’s a real joy to pick the book up after a long day to relax for a while. Also, you know what’s coming, but in a good way, and this feeling of security is very comforting.

It was a rather slow – burner, this story, however it kept getting better. The author has written a contemporary fiction, balancing seriousness and problems with humour and light – heartedness. Well, you have to find fun in life, otherwise you’re going to get crazy. It is not a fluffy, meh kind of read, and the author deals with falling apart of the family in a sensitive and understanding way. Still, it is an easy and light read with a great message: when life gives you lemons, just add gin and tonic. Take the best out of life. Enjoy it. It is well written and it flow in such a natural, easy way, progressing towards the inevitable happy end. Recommended!

 

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Starting Over at Acorn Cottage by Kate Forster / Blog Tour

Starting Over at Acorn Cottage by Kate Forster

 

Publisher: Aria 50818113._sy475_

Publishing Date: 19th March 2020

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

Number of pages:

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Buying a thatched cottage in the country may not be the usual cure for a broken heart.

But after Clara Maxwell finds out her boyfriend and best friend have been sneaking around behind her back, packing her bags and leaving everything in London behind feels like the only option…

Clara knew Acorn Cottage would be a fixer-upper… Yet in person, the cottage is less charmingly ramshackle and more a real health and safety concern. When Henry Garnett, her (rather handsome) new contractor, turns up with his little daughter Pansy and a van shaped like a cottage in tow, she isn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. What on earth has she gotten herself into?!

Still, there is something strangely lovable about the people in the little village of Merryknowe, from Rachel Brown, the quiet, lonely girl who bakes magical confections for the tearooms, to Tassie McIver, a little old lady with a lot of wisdom and a penchant for reading tea leaves. And Clara can’t deny that Henry and Pansy are quickly worming their way into her heart…

With all the heartbreak of the year behind her, could Acorn Cottage be the fresh start Clara so desperately wants?

Rating: four-stars

 

When Clara finds that her boyfriend and her best friend have been going behind her back, she knows it’s time to say goodbye – to both of them and to her life as it is. She has always dreamed of living in a thatched cottage, so, after a glass or two of wine too much, she goes online and bang! Buys a thatched cottage, in Marryknowe. Acorn Cottage looks so beautiful on the photos.
However, as it turns out, right after Clara’s arrival to her new place, the cottage is almost uninhabitable. Forget the roses in the garden when there is not much more else than a roof over her head, and there are still some holes in it.
Fortunately, Henry and his daughter Pansy arrive in their little van, Henry looking for a job, and Clara’s cottage is perfect for him to start working asap.
But is Acorn Cottage really the place that will help Clara to heal?

The book is written in a way that immediately sucks you in and you are truly invested in Clara’s life. She’s this kind of character that you want to succeed, keeping everything crossed for her. There were moments that I was wondering if Clara is showing us her true colours, as, you know, she was everywhere and wanted to help everyone, no matter what. She was not noisy, oh no, she just wanted to help, and I was thinking, is this a diversion? Does she want to hide something from us? The more we got to know her, the more I felt secure in my belief and it turned out that Clara was a much more complex character that we could think at first. Getting to know her story was heart – breaking and sometimes hard to read, but seeing her opening has made my heart sing – she so deserved her happy end.
As well as Rachel – her subplot was truly surprising and sometimes shocking, also not so easy to read, and it’s awoken all kind of emotions in me. To be honest, I at first couldn’t understand why she hasn’t done anything, but the more I read the more I started to understand things, Rachel and the whole situation. How can you help yourself when your whole life you were told what to do and whatever you did was criticised, right? I loved seeing how creative she was, I loved her little rebellions and loved seeing her growing in confidence.
Tassie was a very interesting character and I liked her very much. There was this magical element to her, and not only because she could read tea leaves, but she could also see things in the future and she was very wary about nature, being able to read all the signs it was trying to tell us. However, as much as I liked her, it was a hard cookie to chew, to believe – yes, it was a bit overdone. I get what the author wanted to achieve here, and generally she has managed it, Tassie bringing out all the positive things and changes, but I could really live without this element of magic.

I must admit that the book took me a little by surprise, especially the fact that, except being a charming romance, it also touches upon very heavy issues, bringing tons of depth to the plot and the characters’ development.

Altogether it was a lovely story, but there were too many moments that it simply felt too forced and too clichéd. There were also moments that the story felt so chopped and so abrupt, and I had to check if I’ve missed a page or two. And there were a few things that seemed out of place and the book could do without. Also, I’d love the story to be more ambitious, as the things were either black or white, I’ve missed the shadows between.

“Starting Over at Acorn Cottage” is a story about community, about friendship, courage, strength and keeping together, about forgiveness and kindness. It shows how strong women can be, and that it’s so important to keep your eyes open and see when people need help. The author has a way with words and she knows how to balance lightness and humour with all those heavy issues she has decided to write about – and hats off to her for doing this, as she’s touched upon issues that are not easy to be talked about. This book made me smile and it made me think, personally I enjoyed the story very much.

 

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The River Home by Hannah Richell / Blog Tour

The River Home by Hannah Richell

 

Publisher: Orion 50262847._sy475_

Publishing Date: 19th March 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 04.08.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The river can take you home. But the river can also drag you under… The new novel from bestselling author Hannah Richell. A wise and emotionally powerful story of a broken family and the courage it takes to heal.

The river can take you home. But the river can also drag you under…

‘It’s something she learned years ago – the hard way – and that she knows she will never forget: even the sweetest fruit will fall and rot into the earth, eventually. No matter how deep you bury the pain, the bones of it will rise up to haunt you … like the echoes of a summer’s night, like the river flowing relentlessly on its course.’

Margot Sorrell didn’t want to go home. She had spent all her adult life trying not to look behind. But a text from her sister Lucy brought her back to Somerset. ‘I need you.’

As Margot, Lucy and their eldest sister, Eve, reunite in the house they grew up in beside the river, the secrets they keep from each other, and from themselves, refuse to stay hidden. A wedding brings them together but long-simmering resentments threaten to tear the family apart. No one could imagine the way this gathering would change them all forever. And through the sorrow they are forced to confront, there is a chance that healing will also come. But only if the truth is told.

Rating:  four-stars

 

“The River Home” introduces us to three Sorrell sisters, Margot, Lucy and Eve – very different, partly estranged, but when Margot receives a message from Lucy begging her to come home as she needs her, she knows she has to return back to Windfalls. She hasn’t been back for years, as the heartbreak and pain and disappointment of the past is simply too huge. But can Lucy’s shotgun wedding fix everything? The estrangement from her mother Kit, the tension with her father, past mistakes? Margot is determined to do this, for Lucy. However, she is not the only sister keeping secrets, and now they refuse to stay hidden… Is it going to break the broken family even more?

“The River Home” is Hannah Richell’s fourth novel, however my first read by this author, and I must tell you that I am already under her spell – the writing is beautiful, atmospheric, almost lyrical yet chatty and accessible, and she has captured my attention with this heart – breaking and shocking story. The descriptions are vivid, bringing the setting and the characters to life.

The characters are really well rounded, full of flaws, getting into troubles, making wrong decisions, and they all feel human. Not likeable – they are so dynamic that you keep changing your mind about them, stop liking them, start to feel sympathy towards them – but simply human. The story is told through different points of view, and this truly helped to get into each of the characters’ heads and understand them and their actions. I can’t say that I had a favourite character, as all of them experienced/were experiencing events that were heart – breaking, the challenges they had to overcome were so unfair, and it was impossible not to fall for them and feel their emotions.
The three sisters couldn’t be more different, even if you asked for it. At first sight, Margot seems to be the main characters, although I think that it was Lucy later that started to deserve this title. Margot has tried to put her past so hard behind her but there are things she simply can’t forget, and her childhood home is for her a place of pain and bad memories. Seeing her, confronting the old memories and guessing what has really happened in the past was heart – breaking, and even though there were moments that I wanted to shake Margot so badly and tell her to stop acting like this, I also fell for her and felt so much sympathy to her.

The element of mystery, surrounding mostly Margot, worked really well in this book. Yes, I started to worry that it is taking a bit too long for it to be revealed, but all the other events and memories were intriguing enough to keep me patiently waiting. However, I do think that it slowed the pace of the story a little, but no worries guys, getting to know the whole background of the situation, and also characters’ past is great, and then all the actions start to really make sense.

The author writes so well about family dynamics, about all the ups and downs of those complex and complicated entities. She really well captured the relationship between the sisters, painting it strong and loving, but also the dynamics and changes of married life. She also touches upon parenthood, love, hate, betrayal, disappointment, loss, grief, guilt, teen angst with passion and understanding and emotional writing.

It’s a book about family dynamics and secrets that can break even the strongest family. It is emotional and even though you may guess the twists by yourself, it doesn’t spoil the reading, as the secrets come out slowly, keeping our attention, and the confrontations and accusations make the things even more complicated. It is actually unputdownable, as you are desperate to know what has happened and if you were right. It was a dark, atmospheric read with building tension. It was not the easiest read, as it truly touched upon many heavier issues, but the beauty of the writing has made the reading w wonderful experience. Truly recommended!

 

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A Patchwork Family by Cathy Bramley

A Patchwork Family by Cathy Bramley

 

Publisher: Orion 45844833

Publishing Date: 19th March 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:

Love, friendship and family come in all different shapes and sizes…

Gina has been going with the flow for years – she’d rather have an easy life than face any conflict. She runs her childminding business from her cottage at the edge of The Evergreens, a charming Victorian house and home to three octogenarians who have far too much fun for their age.

But when The Evergreens is put up for sale, Gina and the other residents face losing their home. To protect her business and save her elderly friends from eviction, Gina must make a stand and fight for the first time in her life.

As Gina’s ideas for saving The Evergreens get bigger and bolder, she starts to believe it might just be possible. The only thing is, does she believe in herself?

Rating: four-stars

 

Gina loves her job as a childminder that she runs from her cottage that belongs to The Evergreens where three lovely octogenarians live. However, when the owner of the house dies, The Evergreens is put for sale and too many residents are facing losing their home. And Gina her business as well. Feeling responsibility, she decides to fight for the house, trying to collect ideas and money – but time is ticking and there are others interested in buying the mansion as well. Will Gina manage to save The Evergreens?

So, “A Patchwork Family”, it must be one of the most anticipated books of the year for many, many bookworms, right, and not only because it’s Cathy Bramley’s book but also because she has moved to Orion, and – at least I – have been asking myself if it means a change of style but no worries you lovely folk out there, Cathy’s writing stays the same, and the story is as warm and inviting as she got used to. And also kudos to the publisher for designing the cover of the book like this, so similar in style to the previous ones, I personally love it.

I adore how wide the spectrum of the title, “A Patchwork Family”, is. The author shows us that a “family” doesn’t always mean your own family, your own flesh and blood, but that sometimes it may reach much, much further and deeper. A family can also consist of your best friends, but also, like in Gina’s case, her charges and their families, and this message here has worked brilliantly. Cathy Bramley shows how important it is to encircle yourself with people who support you but who you can also support yourself, and not always people who can help you but also with those who need your help – being in majority may bring wonders.

The book, as always, is filled to brims with warmth and feel – good factor. You know where it’s leading – but you don’t read it for its unpredictability, you read it for the overwhelming lovely atmosphere – nevertheless, the author doesn’t make the way to the happy end too easy. On the contrary, it’s full of bumps and twists and you can’t help but keep everything crossed for the main character – will she manage to save The Evergreens and keep her business? Will she find happiness? There is this something in Gina that makes her feel so special, she has a heart made of gold and always has time for other people, even if it sometimes puts her in troubles. She’s generous and she’s really good at her job, there is so much passion shown there!
Next to Gina there are some truly brilliant children and octogenarians that added so much warmth, humour but also sadness to the pages, and taught us some important lessons as well.

The Evergreens is such an enchanting house, it’s no wonder that the characters wanted to save it, and the hilarious ways they tried to do this were like a breath of fresh air to read. The ways the young and old came together were aplenty and them sharing their lives and giving each other so much was wonderfully captured, without it feeling too forced or unnatural.

Cathy Bramley has found her niche, writing stories about communities, balancing humour with seriousness, and she sticks to this formula, and why not if it is working. However, maybe – just maybe – it would be lovely to get something – in this lovely, chatty writing style – more ambitious from Ms Bramley? With a bit deeper plot? Nevertheless, the book is a perfect example of her work so if you haven’t had a pleasure to read any books by this author yet (where have you been???), it is a perfect starting point to begin a lovely journey with her novels and stories.

There is love, sadness and hope, and the overwhelming feeling of kindness that we so much need in our lives as well, and this is probably why this book feels so heartfelt and is a real joy to read. It’s about taking chances, about kindness and friendship and no matter what I can assure you you’re going to finish reading it feeling cheered and satisfied. So if you are looking for an easy and pleasant read, look no further and treat yourself to “A Patchwork Family”. Recommended!

 

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Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

 

Publisher: Michael Joseph 43779862

Publishing Date: 6th February 2020

Source:  Purchased

Number of pages: 656

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys.

Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together – birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie – who has the most money – insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Everything stays under control until Ed’s wife Cara, gets concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.

In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s time – finally – to grow up?

Rating: five-stars

 

“Grown Ups” introduces us to the life of Casey Family, three brothers with their wives and assorted children. There is Johnny, the good – looking one, married to the powerhouse Jessie who has two children from her previous marriage to Johnny’s best friend, and now her and Johnny have three children of their own. Jessie is the one running the most successful business and taking care of the family’s get – togethers, funding all the trips and other holidays. Ed is married to Cara. Cara works at the Ardglass Hotel and she’s the one looking after all of the tricky guests. They have two children and Cara herself has a huge problem. And there is Liam, the youngest one, a famous runner once, divorced and with two little girls, who has now married for the second time – the lovely Nell, free – spirited and artistic, and who now starts to discover that maybe she doesn’t love Liam as much as she has thought?
The book opens at one of the family’s get – togethers, Johnny’s birthday, shortly after Cara’s concussion – as a result she starts to reveal all the hidden secrets and truths that are going to rock many, many lives…

After the introduction – that is truly promising – the narrative goes back six months, and slowly takes us back to the starting point, i.e. to Johnny’s birthday, where everything began, to bring us back to present – but before we arrive there, there is a long and bumpy road, full of secrets, uncomfortable truths, hilarious and poignant moments.

What Marian Keyes can do perfectly well is to create her characters. They are full of flaws, with secrets and telling lies, they are dysfunctional but they feel human, realistic and believable. They make mistakes, they follow their instincts but the things that make them tick, that drive their actions are absolutely believable – and I think this is what makes them feel so special yet so normal.
While right at the beginning I felt really overwhelmed with the number of characters, and the family tree at the beginning of the book didn’t help, moreover, it has somehow complicated everything even more, I relatively quickly came to terms with who is who and to whom they belong and what is their background story. It takes time, but it is a huge book, and I enjoyed this pace, with the author giving me the chance to really get to know each of the characters.

The author really knows how to create relatable, deep characters that have their own distinctive voices. I think it is done deliberately that truly the children are more grown – up as the adults there, putting them in the right place every now and again, showing them they need to face the reality and truth, to take responsibility. I loved the way they were forced to stop messing around and really embrace their problems, through Cara having a concussion and starting to tell things how they really are – brilliant idea, and such a breath of fresh air.

This book was an epic family saga, digging deep into the shambled relationships and lives, telling things how they really are. I really liked the depth and details of every relationship and of every character life, it may not be a thing for every single reader, but I truly appreciated and enjoyed it. The length and depth the author went to describe the individual members of the family, dig behind the harmonious facade and reveal all the tension, resentment and secrets was exceptional and worked perfectly well. The author has brilliantly balanced sadness with humour, poignant moments with wit and sarcasm, and I loved this mix. She also has this incredible talent to easily pull you into the characters’ worlds. “Grown Ups” was a book touching upon so many issues – mental health, addiction, love, hate, grief, hope, love, secrets and family dynamics. Highly recommended!

Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior / Blog Tour

Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior

 

Publisher: Bantam Press cover180579-medium

Publishing Date: 19th March 2020

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

Number of pages: 352

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 12.11.2020)

 

 

Synopsis:

Veronica McCreedy is about to have the journey of a lifetime . . .

Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary. And she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick.

Although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone.

She can be found either collecting litter from the beach (‘people who litter the countryside should be shot’), trying to locate her glasses (‘someone must have moved them’) or shouting
instructions to her assistant, Eileen (‘Eileen, door!’).

Veronica doesn’t have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway . . . And she has no idea where she’s going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies.

But today . . . today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change all of this.

Rating:  five-stars

 

Veronica McCreedy is 86, wealthy, living in a mansion in Ayrshire. She’s divorced and except for Eileen, her housekeeper, she has no – one. But she loves her Darjeeling tea, hates doors being left open and adores wildlife documentaries on TV. She has built a wall around herself but now, contemplating her life and wondering what to do with her money, she discovers there is a grandson, Patrick, living in Bolton. But as the first contact is rather disappointing, Veronica sets her mind on saving penguins and travel to Antarctica. But who is going to save whom? Veronica penguins or penguins Veronica?

I wanted to read this book so much not because – like so many of the other reviewers – of the penguins, though I must admit that it was also a very catchy angle, and if you think that the penguins are used as a metaphor or something, well, no, there are cute penguins overload, and I think it’s a brilliant idea! – so yes, maybe because of the penguins as well, but I also loved Hazel’s debut novel. I actually rated it with 5 stars, so am not sure what to do with this book as I enjoyed it even more than “Ellie and the Harpmaker”.

The story is told through Veronica and Patrick’s points of view, and the characters slowly but steadily grew on me, especially Patrick that, I must admit, probably misjudged a bit. Veronica was a brilliant character, a woman who really knew what she wanted. She was feisty, determined, persistent and actually very stubborn but in a way that was not so obvious. I mean, it was obvious that she’s stubborn, and she always got what she wanted, but she accomplished those things with a lot of charm. Oh well, OK then, she did whatever it took to get ahead but she didn’t hurt anybody, even if she took no notice of others’ opinions. It was simply somehow funny.
Throughout the story we also learn about Veronica’s past and see what it was that shaped her and made her the person she is now – lonely and harsh in judging. But she used to be so full of life and joy, and it was heart – breaking to see what has happened to her. However, deep down I always thought that she was always a good person at heart, it was life that simply stopped her believing in people, and she proved me right, giving the relationship with Patrick a chance, with the little help of Pip the penguin and the lovely Terry.
It’s very easy to make assumptions about Patrick, just like Veronica, and me too, but if you give him a chance, you’ll see there is so much more to him that meets the eye.

The writing style is so easy and chatty, and I liked it even better than in the first book – it simply seemed gentler and was so pleasant, as if the author has found her real voice this time, or felt more confident. It is vivid and warm, bringing the places and characters to life. The story is so well researched, the hard work that author put into it is evident and it paid off, as I truly enjoyed every single word and the descriptions of Antarctica, the conditions and the penguins were exquisite.

You actually don’t have to love penguins to adore this novel. This whole story oozes with charm and warmth and it was a lovely, warm and uplifting book about celebrating life and second chances, about love and loss and life altogether. It’s full of humour, but it is also poignant, so be prepared that you may shed a tear or two. There is also an environmental message in the book that I, as an animal lover, enjoyed very much, and I was truly quickly sold on Veronica because of her approach to animals. It is, without a doubt, one of the most delightful and cheerful and clever books I have read in a long time. Highly recommended!

 

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Messy, Wonderful Us by Catherine Isaac / Blog Tour

Messy, Wonderful Us by Catherine Isaac

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 48543139._sy475_

Publishing Date: 5th March 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

What if loving someone means keeping a secret that will break your heart?

In late 1983, a letter arrives from Italy, containing secrets so unthinkable that it is hidden away, apparently forever. More than three decades later, it is found . . . by the last person who was ever supposed to see it.

When Allie opens an envelope in her grandmother’s house, it changes everything she knows about her family – and herself.

With the truth liable to hurt those she loves most, she hires a private detective to find out what happened to her late mother in the summer before Allie was born. Taking leave from her job as a research scientist, she is led to the sun-drenched shores of Lake Garda, accompanied by her best friend Ed. But the secrets that emerge go far beyond anything they were expecting. Now, Allie must find the courage to confront her family’s tangled past and reshape her own future.

Messy, Wonderful Us is an enthralling and emotional story of human loss, love, friendship and the mystery that binds them all together from the bestselling author
of You Me Everything.

Rating: five-stars

 

Allie’s life is comfortable. She has a job that she loves and family that she adores. However, one day, she finds a letter that she was never supposed to find, and her life changes – suddenly she doesn’t feel like she belongs. She’s desperate to uncover the secret from her mother’s past, and as her grandmother doesn’t want to help, she decides to go to Italy, on a trip to unearth the truth. Her best friend Ed, who doesn’t feel like his marriage to Julia is working anymore, needs a break to think things over, and as he speaks Italian, he decides to travel with Allie. They both need this time out but they have no idea that they’re going to get more than they bargained for – but at what costs?

The story basically changes narration between three characters. Allie and Ed are the heroes of the present, and there are also diary entries from the past from an unnamed character, a young woman, telling her tragic story. Initially we can think the subplots have nothing in common, but the more we read, the tighter all the threads become, until there comes a moment when everything is beautifully wrapped up and explained. The characters are like living and breathing people, credible, believable and full of flaws, and yes, I think you can say they have a messy life, but nevertheless it’s still a wonderful life. They all simply feel honest and natural, their actions are not forced and the banter between them is genuine, and it’s a real joy to have such characters for once.

I really liked how well the author has balanced her plot, making it complex, filling it with various elements. The story covers many topics and touches upon many issues, and while they are serious and heavier, the book doesn’t feel sad. The overall atmosphere is light and full of hope. The author writes with gentleness, sensitivity and insight about adoption and domestic abuse. She explores family dynamics, father – daughter relationship and friendship in a dynamic, modern and surprising way. The writing style is so vivid, especially the parts the author takes us on the journey to Italy – I had a feeling of being there, seeing the things together with Allie and Ed. I think we can easily say that it is a slow – burner, in this sense that it takes its time to peel off all the layers, explore all the stories it hides on the pages, but it works perfectly, creating a compelling and complex read.

I must admit that this important twist came out of the blue for me – I actually guessed it at the same moment as the character did. I really didn’t see it coming, it came and hit me on the head, and I had this eureka – moment and everything became clear then. Needless to say, there is not the only twist, there are plenty of them, it’s an intriguing read, and the way to the end is bumpy and curvy. I really liked how the author has written this story – while it is sweet, and while it is a bit predictable and romantic, it is absolutely not overdone and there are really enough turns to have made gallop through the pages.

“Messy, Wonderful Us” is a story about love, grief, forgiveness and all emotions accompanying those feelings, creating us – messy and wonderful and unique, shaping our lives. It’s another winner from Catherine Isaac, a little gem of a book, hiding real treasures inside, and discovering them was a real joy. I fell in love with the setting, the characters and the idea, and the execution of it was perfect – it made me gasp and it made me laugh, and it’s a sign of a great book. Truly recommended.

 

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