I Made a Mistake by Jane Corry / Blog Tour

I Made a Mistake by Jane Corry

 

Publisher: Penguin 49469673._sy475_

Publishing Date: 28th May 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 28.05.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

YOU DIDN’T MEAN TO DO IT.
IT WAS ONLY ONCE.
BUT NOW HE’S DEAD, AND SOMEONE HAS TO PAY . . .

The darkly addictive new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of I Looked Away, Blood Sisters and My Husband’s Wife.
In Poppy Page’s mind, there are two types of women in this world: those who are faithful to their husbands, and those who are not. Until now, Poppy has never questioned which she was.

But when handsome, charming Matthew Gordon walks back into her life after almost two decades, that changes. Poppy makes a single mistake – and that mistake will be far more dangerous than she could imagine.

Someone is going to pay for it with their life . . .

Rating: four-stars

 

Poppy Page has been an aspiring actress once but now she runs a successful extras agency. Married to Stuart, who is a dentist, they have two daughters, Melissa and Daisy and since recently they all live together with Stuart’s mother Betty, who has moved in with them to help with the girls. At a party Poppy meets an ex – boyfriend Matthew Gordon – she was head over heels in love with him many years ago but he has broken her heart and married another woman. After this meeting, Poppy’s life changes dramatically and she seems to be making a mistake after a mistake. And then someone’s is murdered. Who? And why? Did Poppy make one mistake too many?

There was enough depth to the characters and they were drawn and portrayed well enough, and they were either easy to like or to dislike. The story is told by Poppy and Betty, interspersed with scenes at the Central Criminal Court. I must admit that it was Betty’s narration that had me hooked most and it was her story that was the most interesting for me. The more I read, the more sympathy I felt to her and the more I understood her, though I was also all the time wondering why we are getting those glimpses into her past, what this has to do with Poppy’s situation. Betty’ history and background of her courtship and marriage to Jock in the 60’s and 70’s was fascinating to me, it was a subplot that had a strong backbone and it was so easy to fell for Betty, even with her naivety and subordination, but we all know that life used to be a bit different than it is now for women. But there was a moment that she really shown she’s a strong woman, a moment that I wanted to give her a standing ovation.
Poppy, on the other hand, seemed a bit pale in comparison to Betty and, to be honest, I couldn’t help thinking that she brought a huge part of the damage upon herself. I mean, she didn’t deserve the huge fallout and I personally wanted to do something very bad and painful to Matthew but sometimes she simply behaved like a child lost in fog and her decisions were strange and inappropriate.

It is a well written, full of substance book with the right pacing and some twists and turns thrown at us at the right moments. However, I have a little problem with Jane Corry’s writing style because for me it seems so unattached, you know, as if the author was observing her characters but not engaging with them, keeping a cool head and not letting them to take over the plot – it simply sometimes lacks in spontaneity and sparkles. I think that the weakest points of this novel are the scenes set in the criminal Court – I’m sorry, but they weren’t believable. Sure, they add another layer to the plot and they keep us in suspense but they simply seemed too unrealistic. Also, I think that such kind of book would profit even more with a different ending – don’t want to tell more as don’t want to spoil the reading for you but in my humble opinion life is not always a bed of roses and I’m not going to write more because if I won’t stop I feel a huge spoiler coming here.

I enjoyed “I Made a Mistake”, though I can’t say that it was Jane Corry’s best one, however, despite all the weaker points, I still think it was an emotionally charged roller – coaster journey full of twists and turns. It’s not only a thriller but it’s also a family drama, telling about the characters’ mistakes and regrets, and it made me feel sad that it’s only women that see their lives through committed mistakes, that it’s only Poppy and Betty that have regrets and want to change something, and not their husbands or the men in their lives. But it’s also about this incredible woman’s strength to forget and forgive, about woman’s solidarity, about being able to sacrifice everything for another woman to protect the family. It’s a read that pulls at the heart – strings, is thought – provoking and poignant. Recommended!

 

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He Started It by Samantha Downing / Blog Tour

He Started It by Samantha Downing

 

Publisher: Penguin 45035333._sy475_

Publishing Date: 30th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 01.10.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.

It’s even harder when you’re all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory—a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won’t stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there’s a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.

But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.

my-review

 

In “He Started It” three estranged Morgan siblings meet again after their grandfather’s death for a road trip in order to become their inheritance. And it’s not A road trip, it’s THE road trip, duplicating the one with their Grandpa when they were children, the one they will probably never forget. There are also some stipulations in the will that they must fulfil, for example that nobody is allowed to end in jail – sounds already promising, no? As all three of them, Beth, Portia and Eddie need the money, and it’s a great amount of money, they of course agree to do it, even though they’re not too excited about it, because they know that everything can happen, they only don’t know how bad it can be… And so they take us on an adventure full of betrayals, secrets, lies and imploding relationships.

This book was filled with characters that were, actually, impossible to like but, as I’ve already learnt, you don’t have to like the characters to enjoy the book – it is more challenging for the reader, I think, to persevere, but this time it fully paid off, as the story was full of twists and turns and it was getting more and more bonkers. I’m not sure if it was believable to me, certainly it was not relatable but maybe this is the strength of this story, so simply make yourself comfortable and go on this roller – coaster journey together with the characters.

I can’t stop thinking that perhaps telling the story, instead of making Beth a narrator, would be a better idea, because we only got her point of view. And she was not the most relatable or the most interesting narrator, let’s be honest. On the other hand, I enjoyed the fact that she was not relatable, her humour and sarcasm, and yes, she admits she’s not perfect, that she’s a cheater – she really kept playing with my mind, and I quickly learnt that I can’t be sure if she’s telling the truth. She was wild, edgy and brutally honest in her opinions. Through her eyes we also learn about her family history and really, the more I read, the more shocked I was. Because the family described in “He Started It” could win a jackpot in the most dysfunctional family of the year contest. Really, guys, the more I read and the more I got to know the whole family, I couldn’t believe how dysfunctional they are and was actually scared to see what more information can wait around the corner. The relationships between the family members, the hate, mistrust and false loyalties… urgh, I tell you, it was not nice, not nice at all.

There were moments that the story dragged on too much, it felt as if the book plodded along, and after many long moments of not many things happening, the author started to throw twist after twist after twist, totally taking me by surprise. But there were also moments that made me roll my eyes. Yes. I know it’s fiction, I know it’s supposed to be a thriller but I still need a certain amount of believability in the book.
And I don’t know, I’m not sure about the end. I’ve finished this book some time ago and still don’t know what to think about it. Isn’t it a bit too… ambiguous?

It was original and refreshing, more bonkers and crazy than a thriller to be honest. However, because of this bonkers and crazy I think it was hard to me to connect with the story. I loved the writing style, it was sharp and fast and filled with sarcastic humour, and the descriptions of the places were brilliant, the author truly brings them all to life. It was full of lies, secrets and twists that kept coming and coming and the characters turn out to be totally different to what we could have thought about them. It’s about siblings rivalry, betrayals, lies and, altogether, dysfunction. It was clever and sharp – observed, oddly addictive and something totally different to what I have expected and I really like the surprise effect it had on me.

 

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We Just Clicked by Anna Bell

We Just Clicked by Anna Bell

 

Publisher: HQ 41gjkvdeiul

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 06.08.2020)

 

Synopsis:

A fabulously funny, feel-good novel that will make you laugh until you cry, for anyone who’s ever presented a perfectly-filtered life online to hide the unglamorous reality.

Izzy Brown has always dreamed of being an Instagram influencer. So when her colleague and fellow Instagrammer Luke suggests they ‘fake date’ to boost their profiles, Izzy says yes – against her better judgement.

Now Izzy’s profile tells the story of a confident, glamorous thirty-something with the perfect boyfriend, and her follower numbers are shooting upwards. So what if Izzy can’t stop bickering with Luke, his habit of checking his quiff in every single mirror is driving her insane, and behind the scenes she’s hiding a secret heartache? Everyone tells a few fibs on social media, right?

But when Izzy runs into Aidan, the mysterious stranger who saved her the day her world fell apart two years ago, major sparks start to fly between them. Izzy’s sure she can have the online success she’s always dreamed of, whilst continuing to fall in love – and heal her heart – in real life. After all, Aidan doesn’t use social media… what could possibly go wrong?

If you loved Sophie Kinsella’s My Not-So Perfect Life, Laura Jane Williams’ Our Stop or Sophie Ranald’s Sorry Not Sorry, you will fall head over heels for this touching and hilarious new novel from Anna Bell, the bestselling author of The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart.

Rating: four-stars

 

Izzy has been dreaming of becoming an Instagram influencer for a long time. She confides in her brother and he encourages her to go for it, to follow her dream. Sadly, it was their last conversation, as Ben then passes away in his sleep from an undiagnosed heart condition. Izzy rushes home, but overwhelmed by grief she panics, and only a random stranger and his kindness bring her safely home on this day.
Fast forward two years and Izzy is still in her boring job, but still trying it with Instagram. The number of her followers is growing, and maybe, just maybe, there can be a proposition that could bring her the dreamed – of status of being an influencer but it’s nothing sure. But then, a chance interaction makes her to team up with a fellow instagrammer and a fake relationship start, giving Izzy and Luke the first taste of Instagram stardom.
And then Izzy meets Aiden again – the kind man who has helped her on the day Ben died – and Izzy starts to feel unsure. Can she have it all? Fame and love? Is it possible to lead two lives: the fake one on social media and a real one?

The story introduces us to a great bunch of characters and some of the most hilarious scenes. Our main character, Izzy, pretends to wear Louboutins and creates outfits of the day but really she runs around in her Converses and brings the clothes back to the shop. She is funny and, actually, honest – however strange it sounds, as she was faking almost everything in her life, but she was honest with herself, I think, she realised that she can’t go on like this for long, and while I may not understand her decisions I still can understand where she was coming from. She has her flaws, she’s not perfect but what I liked is the fact that she realised it and it, in the end, made her feel more realistic and genuine.
Also, as I mostly wanted to shake Izzy and slap Luke, it means that I was invested in the story, so that’s really good. At the beginning the fake relationship was funny and light as it was not hurting other people and I’m not going to go deep into lying, secrets and so on, absolutely not. The behind – the – scenes moments of trying to create the most romantic or interesting background for the perfect photo for their Instagram were hilarious, funny and sometimes even embarrassing. But then, when we started to get to know Aidan, who – let’s be honest – is absolutely perfect without being too meh, I started to feel so bad about Izzy letting Luke go that far. It was crystal clear what’s going to happen, and Izzy knew it to and yet she wasn’t able to stop the charade, digging her own grave actually, and it – the fake relationship and above all Luke – started to drive me insane and desperate.

It took me some time to get into the book and to let the character grow on me, and it’s because a) I’ve read a book with very, very similar plot lately and b) I am probably one of the few people in the world who really, truly don’t get the whole influencer thing. So there, I’ve said this, sue me but well, people, just get up and go to work. And this is why I couldn’t get Izzy as quickly as I’d like, her dreams of becoming Instagram star were simply alien to me. However, the author has hit the spot on the use of social media and maybe we simply need more such books, light – heartedly showing that sometimes we become so wrapped up in our social media bubble that the “likes” start to be our real life, that we forget to look from above our computer screens and realise that another important life moment has just passed without us realising.

The writing style is lovely and easy to follow, full of lightness and humour and some of the scenes were really hilarious. Anna Bell has for sure way with words and she’s a great and funny story – teller.

It is an easy, light – hearted and relaxing read that from the moment the male character enters the scenes, so from the very beginning, screams: you know how I’m going to end and what’s going to happen. Yes, I know the idea of women’s literature, of rom – coms etc and I know the heroine is not going to end with an alien from Mars but with the super sexy and easygoing character that we know she simply has to end with – and it’s OK, no problems here, but I think I’d expected more freshness from Anna Bell, more uniqueness. However, do not get me wrong, pretty please, it was a great and funny story with deeper themes running through it, showing and highlighting the difference between real life and life prepared for the audience, filtered, highlighted, perfect and – let’s be honest – fake. I’ll take my imperfect life any time. The story also touches upon grief and the author has really well captured all the feelings and emotions here, how hard it is and how much it’s connected with bad feelings and guilty conscience. So even though it was not completely my kind of read, I enjoyed it and I’ll recommend it to you anytime you’re looking for a feel – good, uplifting story.

Sing Me a Secret by Julie Houston / Blog Tour

Sing Me a Secret by Julie Houston

 

Publisher: Aria cover184307-medium

Publishing Date: 7th May 2020

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

Number of pages: 333

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The four Sutherland sisters have all had very different paths in life, but one secret and a slighty tense production of Jesus Christ Superstar are about to bring them all back together again…

When the news that pop-superstar Lexia Sutherland is returning to Westenbury, not everyone is thrilled by the news – including Lexia. There are too many memories she doesn’t need to face – or need re-surfacing.

Meanwhile, Juno Sutherland just wants a little peace and quiet. As the local village doctor, she’s got her priorities in order; kids, job, husband, tenacious pony, a role in the village musical… So when the sexy new locum turns up – and steals her office – the last thing she needed was to be hit with rising temperatures and an over-active imagination.

Will these sisters be able to uncover the past, deal with the future and put on the performance of a lifetime?

Return to Westenbury this spring and find out.

my-review

 

The four Sutherland sisters, Juno, Ariadne, Pandora and Lexia, live their own lives. They’re together yet they are also estranged – just like it feels in real life, right? Juno is a doctor at the village practice, working part – time but now she finds herself moved to another room as the surgery needs another, full – time doctor, who turns out to be the handsome Aussie Scott Butler. Juno can’t forget that she’s very married, even though her husband is working one year abroad but Scott seems to be everywhere Juno is, not only at the practice but saving her from her own bathroom or appearing at her sister’s party.
What the sisters have in common is they can sing. Really well. So well that Lexia has won a competition once, a competitions that catapulted her to the first places in all music charts but also estranged her from her family. Now she’s about to come back to Westenbury but not without a fight.
Nevertheless, there is going to be a production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” and all of them will take part in it! But will the sisters be able to forget about the past and move forward? To start again?

The author brilliantly captured the dynamics between the characters and their relationships. I did wish a bit more depth to the characters, to be honest, because, with them being rather a few, they felt not finished and I had a feeling that I don’t now them all as well as I’d like. It took some of them some time to grow on me, to be honest and I think it’s because for a long time I wasn’t sure what and who is important in this story. Nevertheless, the sisters came truly alive in this book, with all their ups and downs, mistakes that they made, troubles and problems but also with their funny moments. They were full of emotions and they shared a strong bond. I liked getting to know them, learning that all of them had their own reasons for feeling unhappy. And, let’s be honest, like in every family, there are always secrets and misunderstandings, and it’s the same with the Sutherlands, all four sisters had something to hide and it was intriguing to be able to unravel all those secrets. The dynamics between them seemed real and genuine, sometimes too far – fetched and overdone but still they felt vaguely familiar.

It is a second book in a series and at the beginning I was a bit worried that perhaps I should have read the first book before I start this one, but it turned out that no, no worries, you can read it as a stand – alone.

As much as this was a lovely book, I think it could be a bit shorter, because let’s be honest, at 40% I still wasn’t sure what it’s about and on whom it’s actually focusing. I was thinking it is a story about Juno but there was also so much about other characters, and Lexia’s subplot could fill a book by itself. There were many, many descriptions, and as much as I appreciated their beauty and vividness, I wanted to beg the book, just come to the point, pretty please. Before the characters came to a conclusion, it took them three of four pages of inner monologue, and I am more of an action reader – just keep the plot going!

Altogether, “Sing Me a Secret” was a story full of secrets and real relationships, written in a descriptive and evocative way, filled with humour and also touching upon heavier issues. It was about overcoming the past, about unconditional sisterly love that is able to survive even the most darkest moments. It covered so many topics, starting with family relationships and dramas, infidelity, blackmail, a bit of romance and we can’t forget, a musical production, this all set among community where everyone knows everyone else’s business, but not in a negative way. Light and with feel – good factor, a great read for a sunny afternoon.

 

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Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 49128139._sy475_

Publishing Date: 14th May 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

One summer.
One house.
One family learning to love again.

Cate Morris and her son, Leo, are homeless, adrift. They’ve packed up the boxes from their London home, said goodbye to friends and colleagues, and now they are on their way to ‘Hatters Museum of the Wide Wide World – to stay just for the summer. Cate doesn’t want to be there, in Richard’s family home without Richard to guide her any more. And she knows for sure that Araminta, the retainer of the collection of dusty objects and stuffed animals, has taken against them. But they have nowhere else to go. They have to make the best of it.

But Richard hasn’t told Cate the truth about his family’s history. And something about the house starts to work its way under her skin.
Can she really walk away, once she knows the truth?

Rating: five-stars

 

Cate has been struggling since her husband Richard died, moreover so as she’s been made redundant and she and her and Richard’s son Leo must now leave their London place and move into Richard’s family home, at least for the summer. But actually, it’s not your usual, normal home – it’s a museum with some rooms where they can stay. A museum full of menagerie of dioramas, mounted animals, beautiful gardens, glass – domed library. Its caretaker Araminta Buchan is not too happy with their arrival, though while cold and stiff with Cate she’s much softer towards Leo. She tells things how they are: the museum is under threat of closure. Is it now on Leo, the descendant of Colonel Hugo Lyons – Morris, to save the place? Are they going to learn more about the family that Richard wanted nothing to do with?

The more I read, the more invested in the story I was and the more I adored this book. It is this kind of novel that has this magical “something” that you look for in your books, that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go, the best kind of “something”. I have never came across such a museum and at the beginning it was really hard to imagine it, but with Ms Harris’s beautiful, vivid descriptions it quickly changed. Still, the idea was such a novelty to me and I think it was a real breath of fresh air. Hugo, Leo’s grandfather, was an explorer and then a collector, bringing many species of animals back from his travels, as he wanted to show people who weren’t able to travel the world. The way the past was reflected here was so clever, and it added so much to this book.

The characters are all so well written, they simply feel like living and breathing people, and all of them had their own story to tell. The author wasn’t afraid of challenging them and often putting them in difficult situations, situations that seemed impossible to be solved, and letting them to take the lead, to show how strong they actually are and how much passion and determination they hide.

It is beautifully written, almost poetic but still the language is so modern and up – to – date, and the words flow so seamlessly, and you just want to read, and read and read, they’re so well – rounded and they work so well together, creating a vivid and colourful story. The author immediately draws you into the heart of the book, transports you into the characters’ world and you feel as if you knew them personally. Yes, it was a slight slow – burner, however there was always something happening in this story, and I think that the end was than quite filled with action and events and all the secrets have actually came out in the end, but believe me, it doesn’t mean that it is rushed, because it’s not. It simply wraps everything together and ties up all the loose ends, leaving you satisfied but sad that the book came to its peak.

“Where We Belong” brilliantly describes and captures all kind of complex relationships and touches on all possible emotions and feelings, addressing some heavier issues such as mental health and grief. It was a moving, poignant but also heart – warming and uplifting tale, a story about the ups and downs of having a family, about second chances and actually never losing hope. The characters were growing and evolving, the descriptions made your imagination soar and there was much depth hidden between the pages. There was also an element or two of mystery and the pace of unveiling the secrets was perfect. It was not absolutely unpredictable, however there are things that you won’t probably be able to guess before they’re revealed. I think that this novel is even better that the author’s debut offering, which was also brilliant, so it’s really telling something. Highly recommended!

 

The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn by Freya Kennedy

The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn by Freya Kennedy

 

Publisher: Boldwood Books 52224783._sy475_

Publishing Date: 5th May 2020

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

Number of pages: 294

Genre: Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A gorgeous new romantic comedy about taking chances and realising your dreams. Libby Quinn is sick and tired of being sensible.

After years of slogging her guts out for nothing at a PR company, she finds herself redundant and about to plough every last penny of her savings into refurbishing a ramshackle shop and making her dream become a reality.

She hopes the opening of the (name) bookshop on Ivy Lane will be the perfect tribute to her beloved grandfather who instilled a love of reading and books in her from an early age.

When her love life and friendships become even more
complicated – will Libby have the courage to follow her dreams? Or has she bitten off more than she can chew?

Rating: three-stars

 

Libby Quinn has lost her job in PR. Her love to everything bookish and to reading has been instilled by her late grandfather who not only was a brilliant story – teller, but also used to buy Libby a book every month to start her own library. Libby is sure that if not now, when then will be the time to follow her dream and to honour the memory of her beloved grandfather? So she buys an old draper’s shop on an auction – even without seeing it she’s certain that it’s going to be THE place to open her own bookshop. However, the reality is a bit harsher and there is a lot of work waiting for Libby before she’ll be able to open the shop. As luck would have it, she has found the place on one of the most friendliest street in her Irish village, with neighbours supporting each other – and it’s going to be very important to Libby, because her relationship with her best friend Jess and her boyfriend Ant are going to face really hard times.

I liked Libby. She was funny and quirky and she didn’t carry a grudge around for long. It was lovely to see her re – evaluating and re – defining her life and plucking out the courage to make some steps that for sure were not easy to do. She was determined and there was so much passion in her, and she was also friendly and loyal. She also didn’t run away from problems and was not afraid of confrontations, which is not the easiest task, I think we can easily admit it. I was not so sure about her friendship with Jess, to be honest, there were moments that made me think that Libby invests much more in this relationship and I thought that Jess was simply unfair, and the way she has treated her, even though she also messed things up, was not the nicest possible. But to each their own, right?
The bunch of the great neighbours from Ivy Street truly lighten the book. Jo, Harry, Mrs Doherty to name the few were all so unselfish and always ready to help without being too pushy, and it worked really well in this book. And of course we can’t forget Noah, mmmm, with his own sad story and wanting to give something back, he was simply lovely, but not too perfect, and that is also important – the author has found here the perfect balance to create a great, swoony but not too lovey – dovey hero.

The community plays a huge role in this book and I think that the author has wonderfully managed to capture the feeling of belonging somewhere. Freya Kennedy has a way with words, and her descriptions are vivid and colourful and there is hope in her words, hope that everything is going to be okay, and I really liked this feeling.

Of course there wouldn’t be a story without a bit of romance there. It was sweet and charming, the blossoming relationship was slow – burning and it felt real and genuine, without this feeling of being forced. Really well written and well – rounded, with ups and downs and embarrassing moments, just like it should be.

The book ticked all the boxes, and probably this is why it didn’t wow me so much, reading it I felt like I was reading the same book to many other ones, so most likely it’s my fault that I stopped to enjoy it as much as I did at the beginning. Because when I started it I really, truly liked it, hoped for it to be something new and refreshing, and then, well, then the boxes started. A heroine with a loving granddad that died and she wants to do something to honour him? Tick. A handsome boyfriend? Tick. Troubles in paradise? Tick. Lovely community? Tick. Pub across the street with a potential love story? Tick. Tick, tick, tick. And Libby mentions her grandfather on almost every single page. Gah. Too much is simply too much. But please don’t get me wrong, it must be the old cynic in me talking, and if you are looking for a light – hearted, easy and charming romance simply go for this book.

“The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn” is an uplifting and feel – good story about family and friendship, about finding the courage to follow your dreams, about self – esteem and determination, and pointing out how important it is to have a network of people supporting you and having your back when you need them. Recommended.

How Not to Fall in Love, Actually by Catherine Bennetto

How Not to Fall in Love, Actually by Catherine Bennetto

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 33640874._sy475_

Publishing Date: 26th January 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 512

Genre: Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Emma has a job in television which is distinctly less glamourous and exciting than it sounds. She’s managed to claw her way up the ranks from Tea-Maker and Rubbish-Collector to 2nd Assistant Director (heavy on the ‘assistant’. Even heavier on the ‘2nd’).

So when she finds she’s accidentally very pregnant and at the same time accidentally very sacked (well, less accidentally: she did tell her boss to stick his job up his bum), she knows things are going to have to change.

Luckily she’s also accidentally the heir to a lovely cottage in Wimbledon, with a crazy Rottweiler-owning octogenarian as a neighbour and a rather sexy boy as an accidental tenant. But this baby is coming whether she likes it or not, and she needs to become the sort of person who can look after herself let alone another human being – and quickly.

Rating: four-stars

 

Emma George has a job that she’s not that great at. She has a boyfriend that has his head in the clouds. She doesn’t have much hope for the future. Rightly so: because soon after we get to know her she no longer has a job, finds herself boyfriendless and pregnant. Moreover, also homeless and penniless. But then things start to look a bit better – she inherits a cottage from her grandmother so at least has a place to live. She starts to work as a chaperone to her 4 – year – old nephew on a horror film set. And Joe, a drunken stranger turns up on her new doorstep one night and somehow stays. Will Emma start to appreciate that, in fact, she’s more lucky than she thought, with a loving family around the corner or willing to put everything behind and travel for her around the world? With a great bunch of friends and people simply there to help and support her?

“How Not to Fall in Love, Actually” is a hilarious and funny book, yes, a bit bonkers, a bit crazy but this is just what I needed right now. It’s a feel – good book that is highly entertaining and refreshing.

Despite Emma being a bit of a woe – is – me character, I liked her. I liked that, even though she went through some tough times, even if sometimes at her own request, she managed to pull through. And I think she started to learn from her own mistakes, and it was lovely to see her growing into a different person, a bit more mature but still chaotic and funny. She was a very accident – prone character, just my favourite kind, and well, anything that could go wrong for her, did go wrong for her and it was so entertaining to read and see how she deals with all those mishaps.
The bunch of the supporting characters was absolutely brilliant. Emma’s mother was absolutely hilarious, her sister Alex was always there to support Emma and I loved Joe, just like that, he can knock on my doors anytime he wants, even if he’s drunk, no problems there, I’ll keep him.

There were many, many subplots running through this book and each one more ridiculous than the previous one, and the film – set was probably one of the most hilarious, but they were all so brilliantly written and I loved spending my time with the characters and their mishaps.

I have really and truly enjoyed this book, it gave me laughs, but the more I think about it, the more things I find that actually shouldn’t have find themselves in this novel – I think. The book started brilliantly, and it was so hilariously funny, really. Nevertheless, it was a bit too long in my opinion, and there were moments that felt like a chewing gum, dragging a bit. It had it ups and downs, there were things I didn’t agree with, some of the character’s decisions that I didn’t approve and sometimes it felt too patronizing and “ist” (sexist, fattist) and it started to feel ugly when the author started to be very judgemental about one of the characters. Emma has a young and beautiful friend who spends each night with a different man, and it’s OK. But when the overweight Martha does the same, she’s described in very mean and hateful terms, her body is ridiculed, and I must admit, this bitter hate in her words shocked me. They weren’t funny anymore, they were simply ugly and unnecessary, as no one is deserving of shaming, and the book really didn’t need it. Nevertheless, altogether it was finally a read that delivered what it promises on the cover: a laugh – out – loud romantic comedy.

It was for sure not your usual romance, oh no, and this must be why I enjoyed this book so much. It was a pure entertainment, with so many hilarious and amusing scenes and one – liners. Don’t go too over – thinking into this story, simply find a comedy in it and enjoy it as much as I did. There were moments that it was too far – fetched and some scenes navigating towards the extreme end of the scale but still the characters felt authentic and honest and even relatable. It is a story about growing up into believing in yourself and your feelings and I am so, so happy that I finally found time to read it! Really. Recommended!

Escape to the French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas / Blog Tour

Escape to the French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas

 

Publisher: Transworld Digital/Corgi cover186066-medium

Publishing Date: 7th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 06.08.2020)

 

Synopsis:

Can she find her recipe for happiness?

Del and her husband Ollie moved to a beautiful village in Provence for a fresh start after years of infertility struggles. But six weeks after they arrive, they’re packing the removal van once more. As Del watches the van leave for England, she suddenly realises exactly what will make her happier…a new life in France – without Ollie.

Now alone, all Del has is a crumbling farmhouse, a mortgage to pay and a few lavender plants. What on earth is she going to do? Discovering an old recipe book at the market run by the rather attractive Fabian, Del starts to bake. But can her new-found passion really help her let go of the past and lead to true happiness?

A heart-warming tale about reclaiming your life, set amongst the lavender fields of Provence. Perfect escapism from the author of Late Summer in the Vineyard and The Honey Farm on the Hill.

Rating: four-stars

 

“Escape to the French Farmhouse” begins with a kick when Della, our main character, decides that her marriage is actually over and, even though she has packed all the things and the removal van is already there, and her husband Ollie waits for her in the car, she’s not going back to the UK. So Del chooses to stay in France. Without Ollie but with Ralph, the dog she got from her husband after another failed IVF. On her own, Del quickly makes friends with some locals and to be able to pay the rent she starts to bake biscuits and cakes full of lavender from her own garden. Is she going to find her own happy end in this little French village?

It was a very feel – good, escapist story where everything happens as you want it to happen, in a good way – we all need this bit of sunshine in our lives and it is a perfect book when you need a bit of TLC.

The characters were lovely, though I’d love them to be a bit more rounded, as they were either verrry friendly and helpful or verrrry unfriendly and unhelpful. I adored Del and wanted to give her a standing ovation for realising what she wants from her life, for deciding to stay, for plucking up the courage – it’s for sure not easy to simply leave everything behind and stay in a new place, without a job and perspectives. And yet, she was able to take this opportunity, to face the challenge. She didn’t feel sorry for herself, but she rolled up her sleeves and immediately showed an initiative, grabbed every single aspect of French life and I cheered her on all the way. Integrating with the local community was a huge part of this book, showing how important it is to show your good faith, to get involved in the local life – and it’s true, I know it myself very well, having moved to a different country 15 years ago.
There is also a bunch of background characters who all bring so much to Del’s life and turn into her friends that she so much needed. The subplot with Del, Stephanie and Tomas was, even if sometimes too far – fetched, one of the most heart – warming things in this book, showing that where is trust there is also hope and possibility.

The descriptions of the food are, as always, exceptionally good, and I could feel myself put on weight only reading them – even though my ARC didn’t have the recipes that I’m sure are there in the finished copies, boo. Really, don’t read the book when you’re on diet or when you’re hungry, I can tell you from experience. However, it’s not only the food that is so vividly described. Jo Thomas has a way with words and she has also captured the scenery, the setting, the weekly market so evocatively, bringing this all to life and transporting me immediately into the characters’ world. And she truly couldn’t have chosen a better setting, capturing the atmosphere of this part of France, introducing us to French customs and people.

This time I missed a bit the depth that I’ve learnt to expect from Jo Thomas’s books. I had a feeling that the author didn’t explore the subplots in a way that she always does, and it felt so chopped – let’s take one thing, chop, another one, chop and tadah, here we are. Don’t get me wrong, pretty please, it was still full of Jo’s trademark warmth, humour, gorgeous setting and delicious food but this time it simply felt a bit too superficial for me, it missed the mark, it was sooo everything through rose – tinted glasses, and everything is solved so quickly but hey, I still truly, deeply enjoyed it, so there. No need to by so cynical, right, there are also happy ends.

And, as usual, the book is not only laugh, wine and food but there are also some sadder issues, that the author tackles with a lot of gentleness and delicately. Altogether, it is a typical Jo Thomas story, and let me tell, the author is a brilliant story – teller, her writing style is so chatty and friendly and you won’t feel the time passing by when reading the book. It’s a perfect read for a lazy afternoon, a book that is for sure going to leave you feeling warm and optimistic. Truly recommended!

 

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One Italian Summer by LoriNelson Spielman / Blog Tour

One Italian Summer by Lori Nelson Spielman

 

Publisher: Avon cover177256-medium

Publishing Date: 30th 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:

Three women. One family curse. The summer of a lifetime.

For generations, no second-born daughter in the Fontana family has married. Lucy desperately wants to find love, but for her cousin Emilia, their family curse is a blessing in disguise.

But then their Great Aunt Poppy declares she’ll reunite with her long-lost love on her eightieth birthday – and break the curse once and for all.

And so the three women embark on a journey to Tuscany to fulfil Poppy’s last wish. But the secrets they uncover there could change their family forever…

Rating: four-stars

 

“One Italian Summer” introduces us to three women that, except from belonging to one family, have nothing in common. Or maybe they do – they are all the second daughters in the Fontana family. The family curse says that, as a second – born daughter you will never find love. Isn’t it time to break the curse? Poppy, who is nearing her 80th birthday, is about to complete a journey of her life and she decides to take her two estranged nieces with her. Emilia and Lucy both need to learn what life is really about – is the journey going to help them?

In this dual – narrative story we follow Poppy, Emmie and Lucy, three virtual strangers travelling together, about to discover that actually there are many things they have in common. I immediately fell in love with Poppy – she was wise but without being patronising and she felt real. She was not the über – wise older person who knows everything and passes her knowledge on with a small smile on her lips and patting you on the head, oh no, she’d rather tell you, not mincing her words, how the things are and what she thinks about them. It was so great to see how her life – approach, her flamboyant ways started to rub off onto Emilia and Lucy, especially on Emmie who needed this so much. Emmie was also great, there was so much more to her than met the eye at the first sight – yes, she was so subordinate and let her Nonna decide about everything but deep, deep inside she knew that it’s not right, and it was absolutely brilliant (albeit sometimes depressing, as it took her So.Much.Time) to see her manning up and start to live her life on her own terms. It made my heart sing to see them all blossoming, finding themselves and their self – esteem, learning what it is they want from life and learning how not to be afraid to reach for it – you’ll want the characters to find happiness, hoping for a happy end for all of them.

If there is only one thing that you should take from this book, let it be that everything is possible. That the word “impossible” doesn’t exist. But there is so much more to enjoy in this book, believe me. It oozes with love, care and acceptance, and even though there is sadness running through the story, there is also the overwhelming feeling of joy.

The story is beautifully written, the author has a lovely way with words and her descriptions are vivid and colourful, bringing all the characters, events and settings to life and she takes you on a journey through years and countries and continents that is filled with adventures and evocative narration.

It was full of secrets, lies, twists and turns and you just want to keep reading, to keep turning the pages to see what’s going to happen, to know the truth. There came a moment that I started to guess what has really happened and, as it turned out, I was right but it didn’t spoil the reading at all. It only confirmed me in my sympathy to some characters and antipathy to the others.

Yes, in my opinion there are some things that are a bit too far – fetched, that the reality is a bit stretched for the purpose of fiction but it is still a powerful story that will quickly draw you in. You will feel a part of this book and characters’ worlds, going with them on a roller – coaster journey full of sadness and happiness, love and hate. “One Italian Summer” is a lovely, heart – warming and clever story, beautifully written and engaging, that I thoroughly enjoyed. Highly recommended!

 

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Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay

Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay

 

Publisher: Sphere 52233086._sx318_sy475_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Suspense

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 29.10.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

It all started with one little lie . . .

Jane and Marnie have been inseparable since they were eleven years old. They have a lot in common. In their early twenties they both fell in love and married handsome young men.

But Jane never liked Marnie’s husband. He was always so loud and obnoxious, so much larger than life. Which is rather ironic now, of course.

Because if Jane had been honest – if she hadn’t lied – then perhaps her best friend’s husband might still be alive . . .

This is Jane’s opportunity to tell the truth, the question is:
Do you believe her?

Rating: three-stars

 

Jane and Marnie have been friends for a very long time, they grew up together. But while Marnie is a friendly, joyful woman, the girl from next door, there is much more darkness to Jane – darkness that she’s hiding. She’s very devoted to her friend – perhaps even too devoted, and she’d do everything to protect Marnie – from anything.
And now it turns out that Jane has told seven lies to Marnie – lies that start to spiral out of control and change their lives for ever.

I was incredibly excited to read this book – I kept hearing brilliant things about it and let’s be honest, the synopsis is intriguing. Sadly, I couldn’t warm to this read at all, it just didn’t resonate with me and I was all the time asking myself, where is the story? It somehow fizzled out into nothingness. However, as the author has managed to create Jane in a way that took me by surprise, the book was not completely lost on me.

The character of Jane started really promising, as she was the narrator the story was entirely told through her perspective and believe me, she had me wrapped around her little finger at the beginning – a poor, grieving young woman who is also losing her best friend to an unpleasant boyfriend. But the more I read, the more shocking I became and the more I was starting to despise Jane and fear about her mental health and Marnie’s safety. I truly believed that Jane is willing to do anything and I felt fear that she’s going to do something that – maybe she herself is not going to regret because she’s not able to feel anything – but that I’m not going to survive. When it was revealed who it is she’s telling her story to I thought I’m going to have a heart attack, really.
Nevertheless, I am still asking myself – why was Jane like that? I seem not to have been able to find this information, what has triggered Jane, why was she so obsessed with Marnie.

It was a slow read, no great deals happen in this book, and I think it was done on purpose, as the things that did happen were supposed to simply took our breath away, and even though it didn’t work this way in my case, I think it was the right way to do it. They were supposed to be the twists that kept the story going and, as the plot was already full with many issues, it would simply be too much adding even more drama.

What was exceptionally well was the fact that Elizabeth Kay has managed to create Jane as a very unreliable narrator on purpose, and the way you thought she’s talking directly to you was chilling and refreshing and brilliantly done. Also, the descriptions of the family dynamic were very well and sharply observed.What bothered me so much was the friendship between Jane and Marnie – please forgive me, but it didn’t convince me at all. It was not a friendship for me, there were no warm feelings between those two, it felt cold, forced and false.

I am not sure if it was the story itself, the writing style or the characters that didn’t grab my interest, but altogether I can say that the book didn’t deliver what it promised. It doesn’t mean that it was a bad book, oh god, of course not – it was clever, there was a tension and the feeling of uncertainty with a very dark undertone but for me it fell short of the mark, as if the author really tried too much. She has touched upon so many topics in her novel, like mental health, eating disorder, relationships, friendship, grief, dementia, death, single parenthood and in the end she didn’t develop any of them in a way that made me feel satisfied. It was about everything but not about the main point – that’s the way I felt when I was reading it. And frankly, some of the subplots simply seemed so far – fetched and ridiculously unbelievable, like with the journalist who stalked Jane even when someone stalked her as well, and her reasoning for wanting to write about Jane, and I was thinking, really…?
Nevertheless, it was a thought – provoking story in a sensitive way covering all the above mentioned issues. It’s a story about obsessive friendship and jealousy, combining mystery, intrigue, lies and toxic friendship. Interesting, but not enough for me. However, Elizabeth Kay is for sure a one “to watch” and I am looking toward her next offering.