Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

 

Publisher: Trapeze cover176150-medium

Publishing Date: 30th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

Long-suffering assistant Evie Summers will lose her job unless she can convince her film agency’s biggest and most difficult client, Ezra Chester, to finish the script for a Hollywood romcom. The catch? He hasn’t started writing it.

Suffering from ‘writer’s block,’ he will only put pen to paper if singleton Evie can prove to him that you can fall in love like they do in the movies. Forget internet dating, Evie can only meet a man the way that Sally met Harry, or Hugh Grant meets anyone. Cue her entering into one ridiculous romcom scenario after another. But can life ever be like the movies?

Of course, real life is never that straightforward . . .

For readers who enjoyed Hot Mess, Everything I Know About Love and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Rating: four-stars

 

Evie loves screenwriting, however, once badly criticised, she stopped writing and now is working as an assistant to a very ungrateful agent, is overworked and underpaid. She’s desperate for promotion and doesn’t seem to notice that her boss takes her for granted. But now she has her chance – Ezra Chester, the hot name in screenwriting, is their client and now it’s up to Evie to make him deliver the long awaited second script for a rom – com. Evie nicknamed Ezra NOB – Number One Boychild, and it’s not without a reason. And so, now, she has to find out if you can fall in love in real life just like couples seem to do in the movies, save the agency and bag herself a promotion to an agent. Easy peasy, right?
No. Disastrous results on the horizon.

I couldn’t believe that Evie really wanted to recreate all the most famous meet – cutes from Hollywood movies, to be honest. But that’s true, and when I finally believed that yes, it is actually what this book is about, I was so intrigued and curious to see them all and how they’re going to work out in real life. And well, some of them ended hilarious, some of them ended disastrous but altogether, even for me, not the hugest movies fan, it was a real joy.

I liked Evie and her life approach, the way she didn’t take herself so seriously, though there were moments that I wanted to bang her head on the closest wall. Sometimes she behaved as if she was spineless, she let people tramp over her and treat her like a doormat, and it didn’t sit well with me, and I didn’t understand why she allows for such things to happen – because in other situations she was bold, brave and sharp – minded. However, our Evie is such a lovely and warm person, even if sometimes a shitty friend, that you’ll find yourself rooting for her and hoping she’ll find success and happy ending.
Evie is surrounded by a group of brilliant friends with a Bridget Jones’ vibe – there is of course the gay best friend. They are always there to help her when needed, even if Evie keeps forgetting them. Her friends were fabulous, not only as friends but as well developed characters. Each of them with a huge personality and distinctive voice, and each of them with their own story, as interesting as Evie’s. What I really liked, and what we don’t often get in books, is the fact that they weren’t afraid to tell Evie when she messed up. And you can’t help but immediately fall for Annette and her dad Ben, even though he was blowing hot and cold, and those two turned out to be Evie’s hugest cheerleaders in the matter of her meet – cutes. Even if they involved projectile vomiting.

I also liked what the author did with the romance aspect in this story. For a long time there was this possibility of a love – triangle, and it was not obvious who Evie is going to end up with – until the very last moment actually.
The end, in comparison to the whole story, felt rushed and I didn’t like some of the things that happened before it. Sure, there is a message hidden there, and all the bad guys get what they deserve but it was painful to see what Evie has to put with.

At first I had huge problems to get into the book – no idea why, to be honest, I just couldn’t click with the plot and the writing style, and the character, I couldn’t understand why Evie allows her boss to treat her like this, just think about #MeeToo and you’ll know what I mean, and yes, I was a bit confused. But then, all my initial problems simply disappeared and I started to enjoy the story immensely – I think I just needed to get used to the writing and the way the story was told and come to terms with the plot. There were lots of clichés in this novel, this must be said, but I also think it couldn’t be different, with the way the plot has been developing, and it really didn’t bother me so much and it was really too much fun for me to care about it.

“Would Like to Meet” was an event – packed, funny and light – hearted story with hidden depth that I enjoyed very much. It was a lovely and bumpy journey to self – appreciation, allowing us to get deeper into some certain toxic issues but through the prism of humour. It’s a story that shows you that it’s not always the happy end that you so strongly needs that is enough but that you must feel happy with yourself and stay true to yourself.
This book is filled with disastrous and hilarious situations that yes, will make you roll your eyes and that, yes, are mostly unbelievable, and yes, it’s a bit cheesy and over the top but it’s the strength of this debut and you simply have to go with the flow. I adored it, it was just what the doctor ordered and I am already looking towards Rachel Winters’ next offer. Truly, highly recommended!

My Lies, Your Lies by Susan Lewis / Blog Tour

My Lies, Your Lies by Susan Lewis

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 53143373._sx318_sy475_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 416

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 06.08.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

His life was destroyed by a lie.

Her life will be ruined by the truth.

Joely tells other people’s secrets for a living. As a ghost writer, she’s used to scandal – but this just might be her strangest assignment yet.

Freda has never told her story to anyone before. But now she’s ready to set the record straight and to right a wrong that’s haunted her for forty years.

Freda’s memoir begins with a 15-year-old girl falling madly in love with her teacher. It ends in a way Joely could never possibly have imagined.

As the story unravels, Joely is spun deeper into a world of secrets and lies. Delving further into Freda’s past, Joely’s sure she can uncover the truth… But does she want to?

Rating: four-stars

 

In 1968, we meet a schoolgirl falling in love with her music teacher, persuading her parents to let her have piano lessons so that she can be alone with him and this is when this passionate and forbidden affair begins – and ends with disastrous consequences.
Fast forward, and Joely can’t come to terms with her husband Callum leaving her for her best friend Martha, and so she’s really glad to be given a writing assignment as a ghost-writer. She leaves London to travel to Devon, not informing her family where she travels to – Callum, their daughter Holly and Joely’s mother Marianne only know that she’s got this job.
Freda Donahue is an established writer, so why did she ask for Joely to help her write her new book? Her memoirs start to feature a very inappropriate relationship between young student and her teacher – the more she tells, the more unsure Joely starts to feel. Is there something more to the memoirs?

Let me mention this right at beginning of my review – the author can beautifully write, almost lyrically. The descriptions of the house and the landscapes were vivid, colourful and very evocative, and I liked them very much. However, the biggest strength lied in the way Ms Lewis has captured the working relationship between Joely and Freda, I think – it was full of challenges, tense and sparkling.

The characters are absolutely not straight – forward, telling lies and half – truths and really, it’s hard to tell who’s telling the truth. But at the end I was absolutely certain who’s lying and who’s not, it was my gut – feeling telling me that. And even though I couldn’t warm to the characters, I think that Susan Lewis has developed them in a great way, bringing them all to life, exploring their emotions.
Freda was such a complicated character, blowing hot and cold, and I truly couldn’t get into her head, and not only when Joely was her guest but also when the other things happened – she sometimes seemed so confused and I was wondering, why? There was so much more to Freda and she really was not telling us half of the facts, leaving us trying to guess what else she’s hiding and why.
However, the best character must have been Holly – I truly loved her and her life approach. She was smart, sharp and opinionated but I had a feeling that she is a character that grew most in this story. I loved her one – liners and how down – to – earth she was, and how she came to terms with all that was happening.

Of course I was invested in the story of the young girl falling so hard for her teacher, and in comparison Joely’s problems felt a little lukewarm. What was also brilliant is the fact that we were reading a book within a book, I found it a great idea and I was impatiently waiting for a new chapter with the young student’s memories. The story featuring this young love itself is complex, heavy and thought – provoking but it’s also not as white and black as you can think. You will feel uncertain and start asking questions, that’s for sure.

However, I had a feeling that I am reading two different books, to be honest. The first half was rather on the slow side and hard going, and let’s be honest, the characters acted a bit weird, and then suddenly I started to feel as if I’m sitting on a roller – coaster, the story was so fast and full of curves. And then it slowed down again. I am a bit conflicted about this book, I can’t gather my thoughts together to be honest. I know that many readers love the end of this story. I, however, am not sure – if this happy end is this what I was expecting? There were so many beautiful and optimistic resolutions wrapped up that, however, didn’t feel too realistic and I really had to suspend my belief over the whole end.

Nevertheless, I was hooked by this story and no, I didn’t guess the outcome – I tell you, me and my detective skills, they don’t exist. It was a book full of mysteries, twists and turns and you really couldn’t be sure what’s going to come and what another great twist is going to hit you hard in your face. It was full of questions and secrets to be revealed. It was full of layers and unpeeling them revealed a complex and complicated story, giving us much more that I was expecting – the unveiled facts were surprising, shocking and sad.
“My Lies, Your Lies” is filled with mind games and the author really plays with your mind. It’s a story about unconditional love, about forgiveness and family dynamics, but also it touches upon deceptions, betrayal, forbidden love and hate. It’s a haunting and heart – breaking story with complex and clever plot that will make you think and wonder who’s telling the truth.

 

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FINAL My Lies Your Lies BT Poster

 

Aria’s Travelling Book Shop by Rebecca Raisin

Aria’s Travelling Book Shop by Rebecca Raisin

 

Publisher: HQ Digital 51895060._sy475_

Publishing Date: 8th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

From the bestselling author of Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop comes another uplifting romance.

This summer will change everything!

Aria Summers knows what she wants.

A life on the road with best friend Rosie and her beloved camper-van-cum-book-shop, and definitely, definitely, no romance.

But when Aria finds herself falling – after one too many glasses of wine, from a karaoke stage – into the arms of Jonathan, a part of her comes back to life for the first time in years.

Since her beloved husband died Aria has sworn off love, unless it’s the kind you can find in the pages of a book. One love of her life is quite enough.

And so Aria tries to forget Jonathan and sets off for a summer to remember in France. But could this trip change Aria’s life forever…?

A heartwarming, uplifting and hilarious novel of friendship, love and adventure! Perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Holly Martin.

Rating: three-stars

 

Aria is a grieving widow who has left everything behind and devoted herself to a nomad life, since three years travelling around in her van full of books. Because Aria loves books – this is the only thing that she dares to love right now – after the unexpected death of her husband there is still no place in her heart for another relationship, and she’s afraid to lose someone she loves so much again.
Together with other nomads like her, among them her best friend Rosie, they travel around the country and above, going to various types of festivals where they sell their wares – in Aria’s case it’s books. This time they travel through France, participating in festivals and enjoying the views. However, there is one person that pops up everywhere they are – or, at least, this is what Aria thinks. Can this be a coincidence? Will Aria let her guilt and grief and find the courage a new step in her life?

It was a very interesting idea with van lifers, I truly wasn’t aware that something like this exist – or maybe that it does exist but not to such extent, it seems really well organised. Or it doesn’t exist and is only fiction? Whatever, it was something different, that I really enjoyed. Maybe not for me but if it makes others happy then why not?

The characters are full of flaws, keeping secrets, making mistakes but I missed more depth to them. They seem a bit one – dimensional and the actions and interaction between them are a bit woody and forced.
Aria, instead of facing reality, escaped into the world of books, and I think we can’t blame her for this, right? However, three years have already passed and perhaps it was really time for her to eventually confront her grief and not only live in the past, at least I think so, and it was somehow really hard to buy, this hiding behind the grief, taking it as an excuse for everything. Don’t get me wrong but it felt a bit meh and overdone. Why was she so determined to never ever fall in love again?

While the book is rather on a sunny – side, all the butterflies and gorgeous places to see, the author also tries to touch in an engaging way about some heavier and deeper issues, such as loss and grief and how losing your beloved one may affect you and those around you. It was a nice try but it simply felt much too repetitive, staying in place, circling around the same thing, not moving forward, and I think this was my biggest problem with the book. The thing about Aria not wanting to fall in love again came every second page and the dialogues seemed to be only about it, and Aria’s inner thoughts were only about this. Also, really – there was what I felt like a zero chemistry between Aria and Jonathan, and actually I couldn’t get this subplot at all, I think they met each other even before the story started, and it is already an important starting point for a budding relationship, right? I didn’t have a chance to see how they work together – the few elusive meetings were always awkward and there were no sparkles, nothing indicating that they really could be destined for each other. It was simply very optimistic and very rose – tinted but not that convincing for me to buy it as there was really no foundation for this relationship.

The writing style is lovely, full of chatter and humour and there was a lot of potential in this story but in the end I didn’t find this “something” in it that makes a book a book that I want to read over and over again. It was a light – hearted, easy, comforting and relaxing read with beautiful setting and full of books and I have already seen that it gets many raving reviews, so perhaps it’s the case of it’s not you, it’s me. If you’re looking for a undemanding and cosy read, try this story, it may be a perfect book for you.

How to Marry Your Husband by Jacqueline Rohen / Blog Tour

How to Marry Your Husband by Jacqueline Rohen

 

Publisher: Arrow cover187300-medium

Publishing Date: 1st May 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 09.07.2020)

 

 

Synopsis:

He broke her heart. Now it’s her turn.

Rachel has just seen her husband David kissing another woman and she knows her marriage is over.

To make matters worse, she has just discovered that her romantic destination wedding wasn’t exactly legal.

No marriage means no divorce. Heartbroken and angry, she and her friend hatch a foolproof plan:

Step one – Make David fall back in love with her.
Step two – Marry him
Step three – Divorce him and break his heart.

Simple enough.

Rachel just has to be careful that she doesn’t get swept up in the romance and end up falling in love with him…

my-review

 

Rachel and David’s 15th anniversary is approaching quickly and they’re looking towards a weekend full of celebrations. But when Rachel spots her husband, who is supposed to be picking up a cake for the above mentioned celebrations but instead is kissing another woman, much younger than Rachel, she is convinced this is the end of her marriage. Moreover, she then also discovers that they’re not even legally married, as the proper forms have never been filled after they got married in some exotic surroundings. So, how can you divorce your husband who isn’t really your husband? And – does she really want to divorce him? Or is there a second chance for them?

At the beginning the story was told only from Rachel’s point of view, and I liked it, so the chapters told by David were a kind of surprise and I must admit that I, well, I started to think that maybe he really isn’t the perfect choice for Rachel? He somehow sounded a bit spineless, lacking fibre compared to the quirky, full of life Rachel. Actually, all the female characters in this book were brilliant, strong women with distinctive voices, don’t you think? They knew what they want from life and they went for it, and I truly adored this fact – finally strong, likeable and believable group of confident and opinionated, modern women. And I simply couldn’t root for the relationship between Rachel and David, no matter how often they tried to assure me that they can’t live without each other, that they’re each other’s The Ones – so why, oh why, didn’t you communicate? Why didn’t you speak with other? Why? It was so, so annoying!

Now, I’m going to be totally honest with you. The book sounded so promisingly brilliant and I started to read it with huge expectations, hoping for a humorous, witty revenge book, something like Jane Fallon maybe? The more I read, the more hope I had but, sadly, in the end the story didn’t live up to my expectations. It focused much more on the inner thoughts, the characters were talking about the same thing over and over again without actually doing nothing – and I think this is my biggest problem with this story. Except for the few sentences with Rachel’s ideas how to take revenge on David, and except for a few pages when David complained that things are so strange there was nothing more about it, so no getting even, sadly.

The book had it moments, of course it did but too often I had a feeling that the writing is a bit chopped, not as polished as it should be. Nevertheless, it is a light – hearted story that also touches upon some more serious issues, and altogether it is truly a lovely read, and a brilliant debut novel with tons of potential, and I will be more than happy to read the author’s another release. There are secrets aplenty, lies and misunderstandings but also brilliant friendship and true love – love so strong that can blind you completely. The characters were full of flaws and dysfunctional but it only made them more realistic and relatable.

 

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Letters from the Past by Erica James / Blog Tour

Letters from the Past by Erica James

 

Publisher: Orion 50000699._sy475_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 09.06.2020)

 

 

Synopsis:

A sweeping story of family, love and betrayal set in a quintessential Suffolk village, from Sunday Times bestselling author Erica James

With its winding high street lined with a greengrocers, post office, pub and church, Melstead St Mary is the perfect English village. Neighbours look out for neighbours, and few things trouble the serene surface of the community.

But when residents start to receive anonymous letters containing secret information about their pasts – secrets that no one else is meant to know – life in Melstead St Mary is about to change, possibly forever…

Rating: four-stars

 

“Letters from the Past” opens with some of the women living in Melstead St Mead receiving a series of awful poison pen letters. Evelyn’s, who’s just celebrating her 20th marriage anniversary to Kit, brings doubt on her actions from the past. Hope’s, who belongs to the family but feels like an outsider, drives her to the point of despair. Florence’s brings doubt to her marriage and makes her feel horrified by the words. Julia’s, who’s under the command of her husband, sees her letters as a punishment for something wrong that she’s probably has done in the past. And as all of them have secrets they’re not proud of, those letters bring back the fears. It’s up to Romily, the matriarch of the family, to try to work out who is sending those letters and why.

I wasn’t aware that this book is a sequel to “Coming Home to Island House”, and as never, not for a single moment during reading this story did it come to my mind that perhaps there have been something before, my verdict is yes, you can read it as a stand – alone, as the author has truly brilliantly told the characters’ background stories, and I really didn’t have a feeling that I may be missing on something, so imagine my surprise when after finishing this book I’ve discovered there is more! And this is the a bonus – you can as soon as possible read “Coming Home to Island House”, so it’s a win – win, no?

There are many, many characters in the book, and I really mean many. Somewhere around the middle I started to recognise who is who and to whom they belong, but to be absolutely honest with you, there were some characters that I had no idea who they are till the end of the book. Maybe an introduction at the beginning would be an idea? To keep them all under control? This, however, didn’t spoil my joy in reading, yes, I needed a moment to think back to who they are but other than that, it worked.
Because of the number of characters, there are many storylines running through the book and hats off to the author for keeping them all so clear. But the huge cast of characters is actually also a strength of this novel that is told from multiple points of view and it was absolutely gripping to hear the thoughts through different voices. Those are characters that you quickly grow very fond of, that you start to love and hate, trust and distrust, that will surprise you and you’ll be engaged in their lives. The Devereux family is extensive and each member comes with their own background, stories and friends and the author has managed to develop all of them in the most intriguing way, making them breathing, living characters whose stories broke my heart and shocked me.

The poison pen letters are a backbone of the story, as everything started with them this time, and I, probably just like the characters receiving them, was afraid that any moment another one can arrive. I had so many theories about who might have been sending them but – needles to say – I didn’t guess who is sending them, and I must admit the big reveal truly surprised me, but it was also so logical and it explained many things.

As the story jumps between 1942 and 1962, there are also some elements of historical fiction that added so much colour to this book and that I, personally, truly enjoyed. In the end the author has managed to weave all the strands of the story seamlessly together without making them feel too forced or too sentimental.

I think this might be Erica James’s best book yet. I was deeply invested in the characters’ lives and lost myself in everything that was unfolding before my eyes. It is full of secrets, lies, mysteries, intrigues and shocking events that swept me away to Suffolk, London and Palm Springs. Erica James is a wonderful storyteller, her words have magic in them and you’ll be quickly enchanted and transported into the characters’ worlds. “Letters from the Past” is a book exploring the impact of the past, its strength to affect your present life, and it was so beautifully and realistically written that there were moments that I had my heart in my mouth. A truly brilliant read that I highly recommend.

 

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Separation Anxiety by Laura Zigman

Separation Anxiety by Laura Zigman

 

Publisher: Transworld Digital 50544187._sy475_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 288

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Have you ever wondered if you love your dog better than your spouse?
Or what happened to the last ten years?

Life hasn’t gone according to Judy’s plan. Her career as a children’s book author has taken an embarrassing nose dive. Her teenage son Teddy treats her with a combination of mortification and indifference. Her best friend is dying. And her husband, Gary, has become a pot-addled ‘snackologist’ who she can’t afford to divorce. On top of it all, she has a painfully ironic job writing articles for a self-help website—a poor fit for someone seemingly incapable of helping herself.

Gleefully irreverant and genuinely touching, Separation Anxiety is a novel that celebrates the ‘squeezed generation’; a book filled with heart and humour for anyone fumbling their way towards happiness.

Rating: two-stars

 

“Separation Anxiety” introduces us to Judy, a 50 – years – old mum, stuck in a failing marriage and a failing career – she has written a popular children’s book that was turned into TV series but now has a writer’s block. Her parents died recently and now her best friend is in the end stage of cancer. Her teenage son is growing up and apart. She and her husband are separated but don’t have enough money for the divorce proceedings so they still live together. Gary, her husband, isn’t able to pursue his music creativity because of panic issues. Just another normal family, right? So it shouldn’t surprise you that one day Judy finds a long forgotten baby sling and starts to carry her Sheltie dog Charlotte in it. Everywhere. Because it feels comforting and right and the dog helps her to alleviate her anxiety.

It’s a story about being able to find happiness in life despite feeling like you’re facing the struggles and challenges all the time. Altogether, it was a rather sad tale, even though it promised to be a book “filled with humour” – for me, it missed this mark, and on the whole I think I simply didn’t get the book. I usually am the first to spot the absurdity in life and laugh at this, but there was simply too much absurdity that was too absurd, making the book impossible to enjoy. I couldn’t warm to the characters, I couldn’t comprehend their actions and the things with carrying a dog in the sling around must have been the worst one. And in the end, well, I found myself skipping huge parts of the story.

I wouldn’t say that the book was filled with humour. There was a little of humour, the dry, everyday kind of humour that doesn’t make you roar with laughter but makes you smile a bit and nod your head in agreement and understanding, the kind of “I’ve been there, I’ve seen this”, the one you can relate to, which is a good thing.

The author is a brilliant observes of the little things in life and she truly brought Judy to life. She truthfully and honestly painted all the ups and downs of a marriage, of all the changes that life brings, of coming to terms with grief, children growing up and becoming invisible, or at least what feels like becoming invisible.

The writing style must be one of the strongest points of this book – it’s quirky, entertaining and sharp. It feels real and down – to – earth, it’s honest and emotional and the author is a great story – teller. I think that in different circumstances, with different novel I could truly enjoy Laura Zigman’s books, as she can also with great insight write about heavier issues, adding some lightness to them. But I simply felt too confused with the plot and the characters’ actions to totally enjoy it.

Separation Anxiety by Laura Zigman / Blog Tour + Extract

Separation Anxiety by Laura Zigman

 

Publisher: Transworld Digital 50544187._sy475_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 288

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Have you ever wondered if you love your dog better than your spouse?
Or what happened to the last ten years?

Life hasn’t gone according to Judy’s plan. Her career as a children’s book author has taken an embarrassing nose dive. Her teenage son Teddy treats her with a combination of mortification and indifference. Her best friend is dying. And her husband, Gary, has become a pot-addled ‘snackologist’ who she can’t afford to divorce. On top of it all, she has a painfully ironic job writing articles for a self-help website—a poor fit for someone seemingly incapable of helping herself.

Gleefully irreverant and genuinely touching, Separation Anxiety is a novel that celebrates the ‘squeezed generation’; a book filled with heart and humour for anyone fumbling their way towards happiness.

 

EXTRACT:

It’s six minutes to morning meeting and the tapping of the peace gong, and of course we’re late. I hustle Teddy— almost taller than me, a bedhead of brown curls, and giant sneakers still untied— into the car on this sharply bright October morning, then tear down the street, looking like a Jules Feiffer sketch of modern frantic parenthood with my giant hair and furrowed worry- brow behind the wheel. I’m going to have to explain and apologize to Mr. Noah and his aggressively annoying Montessori man bun that it’s my fault, not Teddy’s,for being tardy on this day, especially on this day. The school seemed perfect for Teddy when he’d started in second grade after a few disastrous years at the nearby public school, but a month into seventh grade— in their newly formed middle school, only in its second year with none of the kinks worked out— it doesn’t seem to be the best place for him now.

Even though we’re late, I can’t help indulging in my daily habit on the drive to school:the Inventory of Other Houses, when I ogle all the well- maintained homes along our route thatbelong to other people. Ours, with its peeling shingles and broken gutters, is becoming the shabbiest on the block.

Five minutes to morning meeting and the tapping of the

peace gong.

When Gary and I first moved to Cambridge, still in our late thirties with Teddy about to be born, full of stupid youthful optimism, fantasies of block parties and progressive dinners and neighbourhood yard sales played in my head. I wanted community, and connection, and a sense of belonging. I wanted to carve pumpkins and drink eggnog and complain about shovelling snow, then extol the virtues of the miraculous New England

spring. Not anymore. That openness is long gone. I’ve moved from outgoing young mother and children’s book writer to invisible middle- aged content- generator and dog- wearer. An irreversible trajectory, I’m sure of it. If only I could have squeezed out another book before writer’s block set in, Gary and I would have enough money to separate like normal couples instead of having to live in the same house and pretend for Teddy’s sake.

Four minutes to morning meeting and the tapping of the

peace gong.

I look at Teddy sitting next to me in the front passenger seat— because he is old enough to sit there now— I can’t remember the last time he sat in the back— and wonder again as I so often have since the transparency of childhood and boyhood gave way to this— this brutal teenage opacity— what he is thinking. I don’t ask anymore and he never tells me. Every day I try to square the fact that I don’t know, can’t know, will never again know everything crossing his mind the minute it crosses it the way I used to because he used to tell me— trains, dinosaurs, baseball, LEGOs, skateboards, chicken,pizza, chips— but doesn’t anymore.

Three minutes to morning meeting and the tapping of the

peace gong.

Steering around parked cars and oncoming traffic, the inventory continues: I compare shingles and shutters and lawns and fences to our disintegrating ones. That morning I’m especially tweaked by an ever- expanding three- story addition going up in the back of an already massive turreted single- familyVictorian. I’m sure that the people moving in, whoever they are, still sleep in the same room, in the same bed; still earn livings and have savings; still plan for the future the way normal people do, though I know that my childish presumptions could be wrong: you never know what people’s lives are really like.

It’s the day I’m scheduled to talk to Teddy’s class about writing, answering some of Mr. Noah’s questions about what it’s like to make books (fun to write and draw them; less fun to publish and promote them): how cool it was to have an animated seriesbased on one of my books (extremely cool).

One minute to morning meeting and the tapping of the

peace gong.

I know Teddy had hoped I’d cancel, that something else would come up at the very last second the way it used to whenhe was small— the calls from my mother when she was outof pain medication; from my father when he mixed up night and day again; when it was time for hospice for both of them. He’d gotten used to plans changing suddenly; from the bottom dropping out; from occasionally being picked up by someone else’s parents and eating at another family’s dinner table. He’d always looked so pained when I’d had to leave him, which wasn’t actually that often, since I took him almost everywhere with me, like I do now with the dog— and since working from

home allowed us to spend a lot of time together. Then at some point he came to like it: being somewhere else. The relief of it. I think of all that he’d seen those years before he was even ten: the hospital beds, the infusion rooms, the home nurses coming and going from my parents’ house while I tried to distract him with bigger and bigger LEGO sets— and I wish againthat we could get a do- over for that whole phase of his life. It hardly

seems fair, so much precious time lost.

One minute past morning meeting and the tapping of the

peace gong.

“I know. You’re dying that I’m coming in today,” I say, elbowing him. I keep my eyes on the road, desperate for the laugh track from the old days of his boyhood, but as always now there is just silence, then a protracted sigh with a word at the end:

Mommmmm.

I push past the awkwardness, even though I know that trying too hard and showing my desperation to stay relevant will only make things worse. “But that’s the deal with your school: parents help out.” His eye- roll doesn’t stop me. “It’s a cooperative independent school”— I say the words slowly, because I can’t take my hands off the wheel to pump my usual air quotes— “so when a teacher asks you to come in and teach their class for them because they’re too lazy to,” I add, unable to stop myself from editorializing, “you’re not supposed to say no.”

“Mr. Noah isn’t too lazy to teach.”

I forget how loyal he is, how kind and generous to othershe’s always been.

“You’re right. It’s not laziness. He just needs extra time to manscape his goatee.”

“Mom. Stop.” He looks at me finally. “You don’t have to come, you know. Jackson’s mom and Gavin’s mom and Robert’s mom couldn’t come. I can just say you’re too busy. It’s no big deal.” He looks out the window again, away from me to somewhere else.

I blink and feel the sudden sting of tears. “But I want to come.” The sentence is a repentant whisper that leaves me confused: Why, when I miss my little boy so much, am I pushing away what’s left of him? “Dude. I was just kidding.” I’m begging now. Like plate tectonics, something inside me is finallycracking and shifting. Melting. “I want to come. I really do.”

 

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The Switch by Beth O’Leary

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

 

Publisher: Quercus 41xy7rgxuwl._sx330_bo1204203200_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 21.01.2021)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Eileen is sick of being 79. Leena’s tired of life in her twenties. Maybe it’s time they swapped places…

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

Rating: five-stars

 

79 year old Eileen Cotton suddenly finds herself alone, as her husband Wade leaves her for another woman. She’s not grieving, oh no, she’s in need to jazz up her life and maybe find a new love, but – sadly – in her tiny village Hamleigh – in – Harksdale, there are slim pickings. Meanwhile, her workaholic grand – daughter Leena Cotton experiences a panic attack during a huge presentation for her company, so they order her to take two months leave. Not knowing what to do with her free time, she decides to visit her grandmother. After learning her grandmother’s dilemma, Leena suggest for them to swap places for eight weeks – she will move into her grandmother’s house, taking on all her chores, projects and responsibilities, while Eileen moves into Leena’s flat, together with her flatmates Fitz and Martha, and try to get her love life under control in London, the city of nearly nine million. Perfect plan, right? Or not?

Beth O’Leary has created living and breathing characters that I couldn’t help but immediately fell for. They feel so real and close to life, they’re witty and charming but they also make mistakes and jump to conclusions. And really, standing ovation to the author for creating Eileen, finally an older character who is wise and who has experienced so much in her life but IS NOT patronising, is not meh, is not all sugar – instead is full of humour, wisdom, is strong and quirky. I adored her.
The characters grow so much in this story, and not only our main ones but also the background bunch. They were all interesting and unforgettable, and their stories relatable and affecting, and you will quickly find yourself involved in their lives.

The author wasn’t shy of complicating the characters’ lives, making them difficult. Both of the Cotton women, as well as Leena’s mother and Eileen’s daughter, are in the throes of loss and grief and they don’t know how to process it, especially Leena, who estranged herself from her mother, inculpating her of everything what has happened. But she also gives them a breath of fresh air, new possibilities and chances, and also challenges that will give them the opportunity to come to terms with their grief. I really enjoyed the way the author tackled this particular part of the plot, showing how grief can affect even the most close knit family units and your mental health.

The storyline was simple, and yes, it does sound like something that you’ve seen/read before but it is one of the strengths of this book, and well, would you believe that something like this can happen? Beth O’Leary has written it with confidence, sprinkling the switch with tons of humour and emotions. While Eileen used her organisational skills in London, trying to establish the Silver Shoreditch Social Club and braving the world of internet dating, Leena is left to deal with not only with a long list of errands, projects and activities (like walking the local teacher Jackson’s quirky Labrador puppy, getting involved in the Neighbourhood Watch and organising the May Day celebrations), but also with Eileen’s friends who don’t immediately take to her own ideas, and they include the greatest bunch of eclectic, eccentric and chaotic pensioners who also have their own, sometimes very deep and serious, problems.

There are many subplots running through the novel but you will never lose the plot or feel confused – oh no, they made the novel so much more deeper, entertaining and thought – provoking. Yes, it brilliantly incorporated some more serious issues, and I’m not only thinking about grief and loss but also looking at loneliness, domestic abuse, mental health and cheating, handled with gentleness and sensitivity.

I can’t say that this book was as exceptionally wonderful as the author’s debut novel “The Flatshare” (this is the book I talked about in my B2 German exam, we were supposed to choose a topic and talk about it, and yes, I’ve chosen the one about my favourite book, and well, taking into consideration that I read over 120 books a year truly says something, don’t you think? Yes, I’ve got the best possible note in speaking, they couldn’t stop me talking about “The Flatshare”) but it was very, very close and in my opinion it fully deserves 5 big, fat stars – well, I at least didn’t want to miss a single word and I was absolutely, totally captured. But Beth O’Leary proved with her second novel that she can for sure write – moreover, she can write brilliant, refreshing books, that she has already found her unique, distinctive voice, and what have we all been reading before Beth O’Leary??? With this novel, she has really shown that she has found her place in our favourite genre and I (don’t want to sound ungrateful!) am already looking for her next offering.

“The Switch” is a book about love, family, loss and grief, friendship, stepping outside your own comfort zones and find the courage, and this all brilliantly intertwined with the lovely community spirit, that Beth O’Leary also managed to make special, genuine and honest without losing the feeling of a real tiny village where everybody knows everybody’s business.
It was heart-warming and uplifting and this kind of book when you want to read is as quickly as possible but you also don’t want it to end. I loved it, from the beginning to the end, it’s such a feel – good and uplifting read – highly recommended!

My Pear – Shaped Life by Carmel Harrington / Blog Tour

My Pear – Shaped Life by Carmel Harrington

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 45727646._sy475_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 384

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 07.01.2021)

 

 

Synopsis:

This is a joyful, uplifting book for those of us who sometimes wake up and feel we’re not good enough. Spoiler alert: we are!

Meet Greta.

She’s funny.

She’s flawed.

She’s hiding so much behind her big smile she’s forgotten who she is.

But Greta is about to discover that the key to being happy is…being you.

Greta Gale has played the part of the funny fat one her entire life, hiding her insecurities behind a big smile. But size doesn’t matter when you can laugh at yourself, right?
Until Greta realises she’s the only one not laughing. And deep down, she’s not sure if she’ll ever laugh again.

But with her world feeling like it’s falling down around her, Greta is about to discover she’s stronger than she feels. And that sometimes the best moments in life come when it’s all gone a bit pear-shaped…

my-review

 

Greta Gale is an inspiring actress. She’s a bit overweight, is funny and is always laughing, even at herself. What people don’t know is that Greta is hiding a lot, is dying inside and is addicted to sleeping pills. The sleeping pills are really a problem, though Greta doesn’t want to see it, that is, until one day her life truly spirals out of control and her family forces her to go to rehab centre. Being there, she has time to reflect on her life. Her beloved Uncle Ray surprises her with a road – trip to Las Vegas to meet Greta’s greatest inspiration, her namesake Greta Gale. With Ray, Greta’s family and her friend Dylan’s support nothing can go wrong now, right?

This book touches upon such important issues like accepting yourself, drug addiction, family dynamics and all the ups and downs of life, showing how important the support of family and friends is and that the pear – shaped moments in life can make us stronger!

I loved being able to accompany Greta on her journey to accepting herself, to cheer her on this bumpy, twisty and hard road to happiness – without a guarantee that she’s going to find her happy end. Her character shows perfectly clearly that it is not losing weight or finding the perfect job or partner that changes our lives for better, that it is in fact the self – acceptation and the other things are just nice extras. However, I couldn’t completely warm to Greta but it’s probably my own problem – I, like many, many other women out there don’t like my body, don’t treat it with the due respect, so am like Greta in this matter but I also don’t look at things in such a narrow way like she did. I mean, I am a woman, I look like I look and I don’t spend sleepless nights thinking about it, and in my opinion she shouldn’t as well, she should have realise earlier that she’s worth so much even if she doesn’t look like a sex – goddess. I’ve learnt that it’s not looks that make you special and I think it is because of this fact, that I’ve matured in that matter, that I simply can’t find patience and accept such excuses. But Greta is also me and you: open, friendly and happy with life on the outside and uncertain and full of doubts inside, beating herself up, thinking she’s not good enough – sounds familiar, no?

Somehow, for me, “My Pear – Shaped Life” didn’t feel like a book and as much as I appreciated it, and the super important message the author has managed to smuggle in her wise words, I had a feeling I am floating on the surface, that I can’t reach into the depth, and the whole story seemed unstructured and it dragged a bit sometimes, and the change between the first and second part of the book was so sudden, it truly felt like reading a different story. I am sure that many other readers will find it inspiring, and I am incredibly sad that it didn’t work for me, but I still love Carmel Harrington and her books, no worries 🙂

Nevertheless, it is a book that will make you think when you’re reading it, the whole time. You will reflect on your own body image and start to think and see yourself differently. But the story is so relatable in so many ways, and even if you don’t struggle with your image, you will find things you can relate to, with life knocking you sideways.
It is warm and easily written, the story – telling is flowing, with colourful and vivid descriptions, it feels unique and fresh. Sometimes it’s very poignant and heart – breaking, sometimes it’s light – hearted and funny but on top of this it is important, wise and full of compassion. It shows the importance of loving and accepting yourself, of having support, and it feels very real.

 

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The Secret Seaside Escape by Heidi Swain

The Secret Seaside Escape by Heidi Swain

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 51199278._sy475_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Escape to the seaside with the brand new novel from Heidi Swain, the Sunday Times bestselling author of feel-good women’s fiction!

Tess Tyler needs a break. Weighed down by her high-pressure job and her demanding father, she’s left little time to take care of herself. But after a shocking discovery sends her spiralling, she flees to Wynmouth, the seaside town she fell in love with as a child, to escape it all.

With its sandy beaches, stunning rock pools and welcoming community, Tess feels like she can finally breathe again. And as she grows ever closer to local barman Sam, she dares to dream that she might never return to her real life. But when a familiar face returns to town, Tess realises that there are secrets in Wynmouth too, and that her own past may be about to catch up with her . . .

The Secret Seaside Escape  is the perfect read this summer, promising sandy beaches, stunning rockpools and breath-taking romance. Perfect for fans of Carole Matthews and Sarah Morgan.

Rating:  three-stars

 

“The Secret Seaside Escape” introduces us to Tess Tyler, working for her father’s PR firm really hard – she has to prove to him and to the others that she’s worth his trust. It also helps her – or at least is supposed to help – to get over death of her beloved mother. And so, for over two years she actually doesn’t have a private life and hasn’t been on holidays… To say that she lives under pressure would be an understatement. So it’s no wonder that she catches herself thinking back to the better times, when they, as family, spent some of the best holidays in the seaside village of Wynmouth in Norfolk. When going through her mum’s possessions she finds a photo of Crows Nest Cottage, and also a printed diary that puts her parents’ relationship in a completely different perspective, Tess decides it’s time for a break – from work, from her father, from life. She hopes that returning to a place that made her happy so many years ago will help her and will bring her so much needed joy. But will it?

The book has a wonderful setting, with a very picturesque location in Norfolk, at the seaside, with a cosy pub Smuggler’s Inn, with its moody owner Sam, where you can play Scrabble and listen to some spooky stories, and lovely beach cafe where you can taste some brilliant and unusual recipes of Caribbean fusions. The author can easily transport you to her setting, she has a way with words and her descriptions are vivid and reach. I also do have such a place of my many happy childhood memories, where I spent the best time during my summer holidays, and I could truly relate to Tess’s need to travel to Wynmouth, to try and bring back this small bit of happiness back and thanks to Heidi’s writing I could really see why she loved this place so much, and why she felt like at home there.

As much as the story was light and undemanding, I simply wanted to bang the characters’ heads either together or on the wall – they were desperately immature, jumping to the worst kinds of conclusions immediately and offended at anything and everything at the word go. I know that you can’t always communicate with each other, that it’s hard to talk, but please, get a little depth, be more real and genuine, you the characters from “The Secret seaside Escape”.

It was a very easy and lightly predictable read, and everything happened as it should happen, you could easily just tick all the boxes. I would call this book “chick lit for beginners”, as there is really everything you should expect from this genre.

The family related twists at the end turned out really well. It was a thing you could see coming but the outcome was totally different to what I was expecting, and I liked it, this bit different view at the family.

As usual, the author also touched upon some heavier issues in her book, softening them through the lovely setting and light overall tone, but altogether, this book truly felt slightly heavier. And while Ms Swain has managed some of the heavier issues, the others dragged on as if they overwhelmed her? I would really love to read Tess’s mother’s diary, there was so much told about it, and it took ages before Tess even read one page, even though it was so important to her, and I must admit, I’ve lost my interest before it even picked up pace. Nevertheless, kudos to the author for trying to make the book this little bit more ambitious by adding mystery and intrigue to the plot.
There is, of course, everything you can expect from Heidi Swain: gorgeous food, friendship, romance and she, as usual, highlights the importance of community. If you’re in a need of a fresh, light and relaxing read then look no further – you’ve found your book!