The Happy Glampers by Daisy Tate

The Happy Glampers by Daisy Tate

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 50264832._sy475_

Publishing Date: 11th June 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Is friendship meant to last forever? Charlotte Mayfield hopes so. Especially as she’s throwing some luxury glamping into the mix.

After fifteen years of trying to be the perfect wife, maybe Charlotte’s best friends from uni – Freya, Emily and Izzy – can still glimpse the woman she’d once set out to be.

Freya is up for it. Could a powwow with her yesteryear besties helps her knock some sense into her useless husband?

Emily’s hiding her own crisis from her parents, colleagues and now, her mates. Can a weekend under canvas get her to open up?

Izzy’s back from a decade abroad with an unexpected addition, her nine-year-old daughter Flora. She’s also keeping another big secret, one that’s brought her home for good.

Will a year of yurts mend two decades of hurts – or are some things, like shower blocks, burnt sausages and no wi-fi, best left in the past…

This novel was previously published on e-book in four parts.

Rating: three-stars

 

Freya, Izzy, Charlotte and Emily are four friends who have been together at University. They went their separate ways but now, after some time, they all get together to celebrate Charlotte’s 40th birthday. Each of them has secrets and problems but they’re determined to put on their party faces, not to burden each other with their troubles. However, friendship is stronger than some secrets, right?

What was really great in this book was the friendship between the women – it was real, realistic and honest, with all the ups and downs, and I loved how they supported each other. It is this kind of friendship that can pick up whenever it stopped, and some things can only be discussed with people that really know you. The characters’ stories were really well drawn and nicely interwoven and I have never felt confused, I also could immediately tell who is who and to whom they belong, and what problems and challenges each of the families faces.

The story doesn’t end after the birthday glamping trip, oh no, it’s only the beginning, and we get to know the characters and their backgrounds more and deeper. There are several more get – togethers and the friends were all the time learning about each other’s lives and the secrets were slowly progressing to the surface. I liked how very realistic the characters’ lives were, their problems could be yours or mine, and I think the author has really excelled in capturing their feelings, emotions and reactions. They made mistakes and they often couldn’t make up their minds but it’s just like in real life, nothing is either black or white, life has many shades of grey as well. Daisy Tate is a great observer and she can write about everyday life in an engaging and captivating way.

The characters were really relatable and I think that I can’t say that I had my favourite one. Sure, my heart went to one more than to the other, as some of the stories were truly sad and heart – breaking but on the whole I liked all the girls all the same, even if sometimes some of them made me feel desperate or made me want to roll my eyes at them.

However, it was this kind of book that I really didn’t know where it’s going to take us – it told us a story of a few random characters, in a period of time, but why this period of time I don’t know. I’ll be honest, I thought it is going to be a funny, uplifting and light – hearted tale about glamping but it turned out to be much deeper and more serious in tone. I don’t mean it’s bad but it is not what I was expecting. I also had a problem with the way it was written. The first part about Charlotte’s birthday took so much time, it was almost half of the book, and then the story started to feel very chopped, giving us glimpses into the characters’ lives, in different moments, in different periods of time, time was moving forward without a plan and it felt as if we were only given fragments of this what was happening, chosen moments and then we were moving again, not sure how much we have moved forward this time, if it was a day, a week, a month, with new characters popping in and out of the pages. I think that, in this case, the book worked better when read in the four – parts series that it was initially published.

Altogether, “The Happy Glampers” was a captivating, emotional story about all shades of a real, raw friendship that can help you heal and save you when everything in your life goes belly – up. Thought – provoking and uplifting, it is for sure worth reading.

Sunny Days and Sea Breezes by Carole Matthews

Sunny Days and Sea Breezes by Carole Matthews

 

Publisher: Sphere 51199553

Publishing Date: 25th June 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 27.05.2021)

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Jodie Jackson is all at sea, in every sense.

On a ferry bound for the Isle of Wight, she’s leaving her London life, her career, and her husband behind. She’d like a chance to turn back the clocks, but she’ll settle for some peace and quiet on her brother Bill’s beautifully renovated houseboat, Sunny Days.

But from the moment Jodie steps aboard her new home, it’s clear she’ll struggle to keep herself to herself. If it isn’t Marilyn, who cleans for Bill and is under strict instructions to look after Jodie, then it’s Ned, the noisy sculptor on the next-door houseboat. Ned’s wood carving is hard on the ears, but it’s made up for by the fact that he’s rather easy on the eyes.

Bustled out of the boat by Marilyn and encouraged to explore with Ned, Jodie soon delights in her newfound freedom. But out of mind isn’t out of sight, and when her old life comes knocking Jodie is forced to face reality. Will she answer the call or choose a life filled with Sunny Days and Sea Breezes?

Rating: three-stars

 

Jodie Jackson escapes her life in London and finds herself on the Isle of Wight, on her brother’s newly renovated houseboat. Jodie had to get away from her husband and her life, even if she misses her brother and her job but the wounds are simply too huge. Trying to begin her new life at Cockleshell Bay, she desires peace and quiet but she comes across the colourful and full of life locals who seem desperate not to let Jodie drown in her sadness and help her get out of her shell. But as soon she starts to think there is hope after all, that maybe she can be happy again, her old life returns. What will Jodie choose?

The characters are very well drawn, but I haven’t expected it to be different! They are like normal living and breathing people with all their problems and troubles which make them much more believable and relatable. They are not too over – exaggerated and I like this touch of normality to Ms Matthews’s characters, but they are also not too meh or one – dimensional, the author simply knows how to write round, interesting characters with an edge to them.
I think that the background characters added tons of depth, loveliness and humour to the story – they were a brilliant, eclectic bunch of people trying to help Jodie to come out of her shell, to forget and work through her trauma and fragility. Welcome Marilyn McConaughey, the colourful and loud cleaner and shopper extraordinaire who, at the beginning, annoyed looking for peace and quiet Jodie incredibly, but who turned out to have so much in her than met the eye at the beginning. Jodie’s next door (or shall I say, boat) neighbour Ned Haddon, the chainsaw wood sculptor who learns Jodie yoga at the beach and introduces her to the beautiful life on the Island but also shows her that she can still enjoy her life. Or the life beach statue George or the cafe owner Ida – all authentic and feeling genuine.

The idea of centring the story around a houseboat was brilliant. I’ve seen many such boats, and I’ve read about them, yet I still can’t get my head around the fact that they really have all that you need for living and that you really can live on them. Maybe I should simply try one for a week or two on holidays. Nevertheless, living on a boat, it sounds interesting and somehow idyllic, don’t you think? I’m only not so sure how it works when the storm is here, you can’t leave your coffee on the table then, can you?

The pace was rather on the slow side and there were many descriptions, and there were moments that really not much was happening, and I wanted the plot to go forward. I think the author could have speed the things up a bit and as much as I appreciate her giving us Jodie’s story in intervals, slowly weaving it into the plot, I needed more pace, more things happening than descriptions that – no matter how beautiful – felt like virtual tour.

The problem is that I’ve reached this point in my “reading career” where I can say that if I’ve read one Carole Matthews’s book, I’ve read all of them. It follows the same schema as all other Carole’s books – it’s OK, she has found her niche and it works brilliantly for her but I simply would love to read something more ambitious – but well, that’s my problem, I probably must have outgrown such books. However it is also a solid offering and a very comforting feeling when you know exactly what you’re going to get when reaching for Ms Matthews’s novel.

It is an absolutely feel – good, cosy and comfortable read. It is well written, in this lovely and inviting Carole Matthews’s style. This time she has also chosen the most perfect location for her novel, and all the descriptions of the setting, places and characters come so perfectly to life through her vivid and colourful writing. The Isle of Wight seems like such a brilliant place, and the author makes it come alive. “Sunny Days and Sea Breezes” is a great and easy escapism about letting the past go but not forgetting. There is much more depth in this story than you might have been expecting and Carole Matthews touches upon some painful issues, writing about them in a gentle, understanding way. Altogether it was a nice and level story that fans of Carole Matthews will for sure adore.

The Family Holiday by Elizabeth Noble

The Family Holiday by Elizabeth Noble

 

Publisher: Penguin / Michael Joseph cover187078-medium

Publishing Date: 25th June 2020

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

Number of pages: 432

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

The Chamberlain family – Charlie and Daphne, and their children Laura, Scott and Nick – had fantastic summer holidays when they were young. But then, inevitably, the children grew up, and their own messy lives got in the way.

Since their mum died, it feels to them all as if their family just isn’t that close any more. And Charlie fears his kids have all lost their direction.

For his eightieth birthday, all Charlie wants is to bring his family together again – and by some miracle, they’ve all said yes.

It’s only ten days . . . how hard can it be?

Rating: four-stars

 

Charlie is approaching his 80th birthday. Widowed for already ten years, he still misses his wife Daphne and worries that, together with her death, the family has drifted apart. Daphne has always known what to do and what to say to help and Charlie doesn’t have this gift. In his attempt to get the whole family together, he arranges a holiday, renting a large house in Cotswolds, and invites everybody to celebrate his birthday together. We meet Laura, recently separated from her husband and with her teenage son Ethan, Nick, widowed less than a year ago and his three small children, and Scott and his new American wife Heather and her two daughters from her previous marriage. It turns out that all of them have secrets and problems, and what with them not being as close as they used to be, is this holiday a good idea?

This is my first book by Elizabeth Noble so I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest, although well, maybe I thought that it’s going to be an easy, light – hearted read. I was, however, confronted with a story with much more depth to it that I have thought, and characters facing overwhelmingly huge challenges, yet despite them being so stressed and anxious, there is still warmth and hope in the writing.

It is a character – driven story, where not much happens in the way of exploiting the plot but those are the characters that are moving it forward. I liked the fact that we actually explore one family only, a closed group of characters – there were a few of them but I had a feeling that I know them really well, thanks to the author’s wise descriptions and development and the above mentioned fact that everything happens between the same characters. However, I must admit that Daphne as a central character, even though already gone, didn’t work for me so much. I am really truly done with such characters, being put on pedestal, keeping everything together, and while maybe she was really a lovely and über – wise person, I was told about it, I didn’t have a chance to form my own opinion because it was forced upon me.

The pace is slow and relaxed, and the holiday mentioned happens only then when we were introduced to all the characters, got to know all their background and what makes them tick. The events in their lives are mostly heart – breakingly sad but they are convincingly written and they feel realistic. Their stories are well – rounded and the characters are well portrayed. I got annoyed with them, frustrated and I sympathised with them, and it is always a good sign.

“The Family Holiday” is a book filled with emotional insights and wisdom, gentle and easy to read. It’s close to life and relatable with some great moments and for sure it won’t be last by this author for me. The author can for sure write about family dynamics, capturing the more humorous moments but also those that end in tears, pointing out that families are hard work and that there are always secrets hidden and lies told but with the support of each other you can overcome even the darkest moments. The author tells things how they are, without sugar – coating them, going through the beginning and breaking of the marriage, grief, becoming children and daily troubles. The writing is lovingly engaging and descriptive but without overwhelming you. Recommended!

 

 

 

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

 

Publisher: Piatkus 43611796._sy475_

Publishing Date: 14th May 2020

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

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

For two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime . . .

Olive is always unlucky; her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. About to marry her dream man, her entire wedding has been fully paid for by winning a series of competitions. Meanwhile, Olive is forced to play nice with her sworn enemy: the best man, Ethan.

But Olive’s luck may be on the turn . . . When the entire wedding party – except for Olive and Ethan – gets food poisoning, there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs. Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free holiday, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him threatens to spiral out of control.

Forced to play loving newlyweds, she and Ethan find themselves in much closer proximity than they ever expected . . . The problem is that soon, Olive finds that maybe she doesn’t mind pretending. In fact, she’s beginning to feel kind of . . . lucky.

The Unhoneymooners is a heartwarming and hilarious romance perfect for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.

Rating: three-half-stars

 

Olive Torres is accident prone – if something is going to happen, it’s going to happen to her. So imagine her surprise when, at her twin sister’s wedding, it’s not her who gets food poisoning but all the other guests! Well, except for the groom’s brother Ethan. But every single other person has been affected – in hindsight, a free seafood buffet was not the best idea. Ethan and Olive have never seen eye to eye, they actually hate each other. However, right now, they have to put their antipathy aside because Ami – that’s Olive’s sister – is sending them on her honeymoon! In Maui! This trip simply can’t go to waste. They decide to give it a go – well, there are so many things to do in Maui, they don’t have to see each other, right? Wrong – they meet Olive’s new boss and then Ethan’s ex – fiancé and so they’re forced to play a happy newly – wed couple which results in misencounters, misunderstandings and misadventures. And growing chemistry between the two of them… But not everything runs smoothly in paradise…

Olive, after my initial confusion, because I have to admit that the beginning was somewhat hard for me, what with the negative dynamics between her and her sister Ami, I wasn’t sure what to think about their sisterly relationship where one sister clearly uses the other one and the other one allows this meekly, turned out to be a very colourful and entertaining character, and a very accident – prone one. Sometimes she didn’t know when to stop talking, and it was a bit surprising for me, because at first she truly looked like a sheep without her own voice and opinions, however as soon as she was alone, without her huge family around her, she always turned into a chatty and sharp young woman.

The love – to – hate relationship doesn’t evoke such extreme emotions in me as in many other readers, so it seems, but of course my like and dislike depends on the way it is written. Here it worked. It was sharp, genuine and with the right dose of chemistry between the characters.

I think that adding Ethan’s perspective would be a great and refreshing idea, as we hear only Olivia’s point of view. Yes, they talk to each other, of course, and they are relatively open with each other but reading Ethan’s real feelings would be so much fun, don’t you think?

The story was brilliant and funny until it wasn’t, to be honest. I absolutely enjoyed the plot, and trip to Maui, the banter between the characters, the growing interest between them, it was truly hooking and funny for the most part. But then it started to feel too old and too utilised and repetitive and I thought that if I read the “I hated you/you hated me/do I hate you now/do you hate me now” conversation, I’m going to start to cry. It. Was. too. Much. And it stopped being funny. Also, the end is very, very rushed and I was screaming for more plot development, not only going around in circles, taking us and the characters where they needed to be at the end. The book was also full of stereotypes and things that didn’t sit so well with me, like body – shaming and with the characters turning out to be very slim, but it’s not deep enough to go into this – I’ve just noticed those things on a side note and I’m truly not in a mood to tear the book apart because of them, but they could be for sure better done, with more sensibility. Things happen very conveniently but this is why I’ve reached for this book. I’d say that the pace was rather on the slow side – it takes about half of the novel before things start to move forward and it’s not only the banter.

Altogether, “The Unhoneymooners” is a light, easy and entertaining read with some great one – liners. The banter between the characters is smart and witty and pushes the plot forward. Ultimate beach read for this summer. The humour was absolutely my kind of humour which made the book one of the funniest – just what the doctor ordered.

Life and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor / Blog Tour

Life and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor

 

Publisher: Black Swan 52722824

Publishing Date: 11th June 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Previously titled Death and Other Happy Endings

If your life was going to end tomorrow, what would you do today?
When she learns she has just three months to live Jennifer Cole decides to write 3 letters: one to her overbearing, selfish sister, another to her jelly-spined, cheating ex-husband, and the third to her charming, unreliable ex-boyfriend, each one saying everything she’s always wanted to say. Fearing the worst, Jennifer finds this unburdening feels great. But then as she’ll soon discover, the truth has a way of surprising you …

Rating: four-stars

 

Jennifer Cole is 43, divorced and is an HR professional. So far, so good. But then she receives news from her doctor that her blood tests show that she has a very rare blood disease – so rare that the book even doesn’t tell us its name! Treatment is not even an option. And she has only three months to live. What would you do in those three months? Write a bucket list? Travel the world? Well, Jennifer decides she needs to address some of the problematic relationships in her life, with three important and significant people – her ex – husband, her ex – lover and her sister, to tell them what she really thinks. Well, she’s dying, right, so really, what worse can happen?
But as it turns out, a lot can happen in ninety days…

The letters that Jennifer writes are addressed to her sister, the beautiful and always knowing better Isabelle, the sister who patronized her and hurt her, the sister who’s now leading a – really? – perfect and happy life with a wealthy husband and two daughters. Then she writes to her ex – husband who not only ignored her feelings after the third miscarriage, but also cheated on her and then left her. And one of the letters goes to Jennifer’s ex – lover that she loved almost unconditionally but who has also left her for another woman. Even though her friends hated Harry, viewing him manipulative and toxic, she simply can’t let him go. Jennifer probably would never write those letter, if it wasn’t for her being ill, and it’s not a wonder because it’s so difficult to open yourself and speak openly about your true feelings and emotions – writing them really required courage form her, but well, she also knew that she has nothing to lose now, right?

Jennifer was an interesting character. While more than once I wanted to shake her and tell her off for being such a doormat, and it started already in the first chapter when she allowed the doctor to belittle her (I know, I know, she got a shock of her life, but still…), and it was really difficult to see her like this, and also, I don’t think I would care about any of my exes if I had ninety days to live left, but altogether she was entertaining and felt really human and authentic. It was – despite the circumstances – great to see her going on this thrilling, interesting and breath – catching journey of personal growth. Seeing her becoming strong and self – confident, realising what’s important was enjoyable and there were moments that I wanted to give her a standing ovation. And one of the strongest points of this book must have been the dynamics between her and Isabelle – at the beginning I truly believed that Isabelle’s intentions are faux, my bad, and then I was really invested in this part of the plot.

I was totally intrigued by this book, because death, okay, but what about happy endings when there is death, right? Yes, I must admit that there were things that you’ve seen coming from a miles away, and there were some quirks in the main character that were sometimes very annoying, but those were not things that have spoilt my reading. There are some revelations and surprises along the way but, to be absolutely honest, I wasn’t surprised with the plot taking a turn – I probably knew it’s going to change things up even before Jennifer knew it.

It is a book about letting go, about second chances, celebrating life, sisterhood and friendship between women. I loved how it showed that no matter what, that when life gives you lemons and provides you with heart – breaking situations, it is another woman who can support you so unconditionally (almost always. Yes, Isabelle, I’m looking at you). It is full of warmth, surprises and humour. The writing is flying, taking us on a journey together with the characters and their ups and downs, and before I knew it, I’ve finished this clever and refreshing read. Go into this with open mind and not over – thinking things and you’re going to enjoy and appreciate this read so much.

 

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The Accidental Husband by Jane Green / #tacklingmytbrpile

The Accidental Husband by Jane Green

 

Publisher: Penguin 17258728

Publishing Date: 14th March 2013

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

NY Times bestseller Jane Green delivers a riveting novel about two women whose lives intersect when a shocking secret is revealed.

From the author of Another Piece of My Heart comes the gripping story of two women who live on opposite coasts but whose lives are connected in ways they never could have imagined. Both women are wives and mothers to children who are about to leave the nest for school. They’re both in their forties and have husbands who travel more than either of them would like. They are both feeling an emptiness neither had expected. But when a shocking secret is exposed, their lives are blown apart. As dark truths from the past reveal themselves, will these two women be able to learn to forgive, for the sake of their children, if not for themselves?

Rating: four-stars

 

Maggie and Sylvie are perfect strangers, living different lives on opposite coasts, knowing anything about each other’s existence. They have children and families, homes that they love and devoted and caring husband. They also have no idea that they share something – or rather someone – very significant. When they think that their lives couldn’t be more perfect, it turns out that they’re very wrong, as they’re going to discover a secret that is about to shake their lives and worlds and bring those two together, no matter if they want it or not.

The author filled the book with twists and turns and moments that can tug at the heartstrings, but mostly it was a truly seamless story about two families, with all the ups and downs of everyday life. After the initial slow beginning and long introduction and the set – up to what’s going to happen, the book starts to gain pace to eventually slow down again after the trial, where it switches its focus to mostly Maggie and her private life.

As soon as we got Maggie’s narration, I started to wait for Mark’s perspective. I was dying to hear his voice and why he did what he did. I think that the book would only benefit with his point of view because without it, it left a huge gap, which is a great pity. I also had a feeling that it is Sylvie’s character that we know completely and that she doesn’t have any secrets from us, as she was the one the author devoted most time and description to. She is very conscientious, is a devoted mother, wife and daughter that has to deal with many problems. The situation with Eve, her daughter, was really well captured, very realistic, and covered really well and sensible by the author. Maggie, on the other hand, was not so easy to like, especially at the beginning, but for me she was much more interesting character – she was not as straightforward as Sylvie, I think, she was more complex in my opinion.

So as much as I really enjoyed this book, I was also a bit torn with it. However, between its predictability, the very unlikely coincidence that is the beginning of an avalanche and the ending that is so incredibly sweet, there is a depth to this story and it may make you think and it was such a readable novel that I’ve finished it in two days. Yes, I admit, I’ve skipped some sections and paragraphs, especially at the end because I had a feeling that some of the chapters simply don’t bring anything to the plot, but still, and despite the clichés and predictability, I immensely enjoyed this book. Maybe because of the predictability, of knowing how it is going to end, was it such a comforting and easy read?

“The Accidental Husband” is a story about the importance of the family and keeping together, about the truth and forgiveness, about finding yourself. Readable and touching upon some other issues, not only bigamy. It deals with eating disorders in very realistic and vivid way and I liked the genuine development of the friendship between the characters. And I was hooked! Yes, I was, so I can really recommend this story with good conscience.

 

Safe by S.K. Barnett / Blog Tour

Safe by S.K. Barnett

 

Publisher: Century 51285401._sy475_

Publishing Date: 11th June 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

YOUR CHILD IS MISSING.

She was only six years old when she disappeared. Posters went up, the police investigated.

But no one could find her.

Now she’s home.

And knocking at your door.

You’re so happy to see her. But soon you start to wonder why she can’t answer your questions.

Where has she been for twelve years? How did she find her way home?

Who is she?

 

EXTRACT:

The first poster was put up within a day of the disappearance. In the end there’d be over 1,500 of them, plastering what seemed like every available inch of the village. All of them mass- produced by the owner of a local printing company who barely knew the scared- out- of- their- minds parents but figured it was the least he could do.

It was nail- gunned to a telephone pole in front of Fredo’s Famous Pizzeria, an example of doubly false advertising, since its pizza wasn’t famous or even well- known, and the pizzeria wasn’t owned by anyone named Fredo. The owner was a Serbian named Milche, who thought an Italian name made more fiscal sense.

Being an aficionado of The Godfather, he’d picked Fredo over Michael, which seemed to him too Anglicized. Like many pizza parlors throughout Long Island, it had evolved into a hangout for the too- young- to- drink crowd, and when Milche would shoo the local adolescents out of the store at closing time, the reigning fourteen- year- old wise ass would turn and utter this famous if misquoted line: “You broke my heart, Fredo, you broke my heart.”
What was really breaking hearts was the subject of the poster placed on the telephone pole outside Fredo’s on July 10, 2007. MISSINGit said in black letters printed in Helvetica bold, and underneath, a picture of six- year- old Jennifer Kristal. It was her first- grade school photo, a little girl all dolled up and smiling for the camera.

It was a dichotomy that was particularly hard to comprehend for any parent strolling by— what was innocence doing plastered to a telephone pole? Telephone poles were for garage sale notices, local politicians’ campaign posters, and handyman ads with phone number slips hanging down like stripper tassels. They weren’t for a six- year- old girl with a traffic- stopping smile who’d walked down the block to her best friend’s house one day— yes, she was just six, but it was only two houses away and it was summer, and it wasn’t like they lived in the projects or something. This was upper- classs uburbia, for God’s sake, and her mom, Laurie, had walked her to their screen door and even stood and watched a bit while Jenny skipped down the front steps— whereupon Jenny disappeared. Never showed up at her best friend Toni’s front door, never came home.

Poof.

That was hard for people to get their head around. A child just disappearing like that— like one of those sequined assistants in a magic act. It made existence seem too ephemeral, made them question their assumptions about everyday life. If little girls could just disappear into thin air, then what else was possible?

 

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Safe by S.K. Barnett / Blog Tour + Extract

Safe by S.K. Barnett

 

Publisher: Century 51285401._sy475_

Publishing Date: 11th June 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Mystery & Thriller

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

YOUR CHILD IS MISSING.

She was only six years old when she disappeared. Posters went up, the police investigated.

But no one could find her.

Now she’s home.

And knocking at your door.

You’re so happy to see her. But soon you start to wonder why she can’t answer your questions.

Where has she been for twelve years? How did she find her way home?

Who is she?

 

EXTRACT:

The first poster was put up within a day of the disappearance. In the end there’d be over 1,500 of them, plastering what seemed like every available inch of the village. All of them mass- produced by the owner of a local printing company who barely knew the scared- out- of- their- minds parents but figured it was the least he could do.

It was nail- gunned to a telephone pole in front of Fredo’s Famous Pizzeria, an example of doubly false advertising, since its pizza wasn’t famous or even well- known, and the pizzeria wasn’t owned by anyone named Fredo. The owner was a Serbian named Milche, who thought an Italian name made more fiscal sense.

Being an aficionado of The Godfather, he’d picked Fredo over Michael, which seemed to him too Anglicized. Like many pizza parlors throughout Long Island, it had evolved into a hangout for the too- young- to- drink crowd, and when Milche would shoo the local adolescents out of the store at closing time, the reigning fourteen- year- old wise ass would turn and utter this famous if misquoted line: “You broke my heart, Fredo, you broke my heart.”

What was really breaking hearts was the subject of the poster placed on the telephone pole outside Fredo’s on July 10, 2007. MISSING it said in black letters printed in Helvetica bold, and underneath, a picture of six- year- old Jennifer Kristal. It was her first- grade school photo, a little girl all dolled up and smiling for the camera.

It was a dichotomy that was particularly hard to comprehend for any parent strolling by— what was innocence doing plastered to a telephone pole? Telephone poles were for garage sale notices, local politicians’ campaign posters, and handyman ads with phone number slips hanging down like stripper tassels. They weren’t for a six- year- old girl with a traffic- stopping smile who’d walked down the block to her best friend’s house one day— yes, she was just six, but it was only two houses away and it was summer, and it wasn’t like they lived in the projects or something. This was upper- class suburbia, for God’s sake, and her mom, Laurie, had walked her to their screen door and even stood and watched a bit while Jenny skipped down the front steps— whereupon Jenny disappeared.

Never showed up at her best friend Toni’s front door, never came home.

Poof.

That was hard for people to get their head around. A child just disappearing like that— like one of those sequined assistants in a magic act. It made existence seem too ephemeral, made them question their assumptions about everyday life. If little girls could just disappear into thin air, then what else was possible?

 

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Keeping Mum by James Gould – Bourn / Blog Tour

Keeping Mum by James Gould – Bourn

 

Publisher: Trapeze cover186210-medium

Publishing Date: 11th June 2020

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Danny Malooley’s life is falling apart.

He’s a single parent with an eleven-year-old son, Will, who hasn’t spoken since the death of his mother in a car crash fourteen months ago. He’s being pursued by a dodgy landlord for unpaid rent and, to make matters worse, he’s just lost his job on a building site. Struggling to find work, and desperate for money, Danny decides to do what anyone in his position would do.

He becomes a dancing panda.

After seeing street performers in his local park raking it in, he puts all sense of pride aside and spends his last fiver on a vomit-ridden costume… only to discover that the humiliation of his terrible rhythm is worth it. Not because he’s flush with cash (quite the opposite) but Will has finally spoken to him for the first time since his mother’s death. The problem is Will is unaware that the panda is in fact his father, and Danny doesn’t want to reveal his true identity in case Will stops talking to him. But Danny can’t keep up the ruse forever.

A surprising, laugh-out-loud and uplifting story of a father and son reconnecting in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Rating: five-stars

 

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Danny Mallony and his son Will have lost their wife and mother in a tragic car accident about a year ago. Liz was not only Danny’s wife but also his best friend, and together with her death he feels as if he has lost his son as well because Will simply stopped speaking. Then Danny gets himself fired from work and his landlord starts to threaten to harm him and some of his body parts because he’s late with the rent. There are no jobs out there for Danny, so it’s not a wonder that, in desperation, and with his last money, he purchases a panda suit and becomes a street performer. Dancing panda. The problem is, Danny can’t dance. However, it’s not the end of the problems because soon Danny is a witness how his son is being bullied. And then Will starts to talk – to the panda.

James Gould – Bourn has created incredible characters, real and authentic and while yes,
sure, they are also a bit clichéd and stereotyped, what with Mark the bully, or Reg the landlord, they work in this book and they are breathing and moving and jumping off the pages. Effortlessly. The background characters were phenomenal – I have never came across such brilliantly written secondaries, and Krystal must have been my favourite. Krystal with her potty mouth that would make any sailor blush, telling things how they are, not beating around the bush, full of glitter and glamour, offending with every word but deep, deep inside she was such a good fairy and I loved her totally. But no matter how much I laughed at their banter and shenanigans, they added tons of depth to the story.
And don’t forget Will’s new teacher! It’s amazing how much attention the author paid to the smallest details, taking care about things and events that we would have probably not spotted. I tell you, this book is perfect. The way the author has dealt with grief and its impact on the affected, the old – new father – son relationship, the challenges life brings is cleverly written, it’s sharp and empathetic. I loved what he did with Will – he created a strong, resilient boy who had weaker moments and I felt for him immediately, but he didn’t make him a victim that can’t stand for himself. Yes, Will was bullied and he suffered but I couldn’t stop admire his inner strength and the ability to not take things so much to heart.
And whatever happened, Danny never gave up, and this is what I really liked in him. He kept things going, not wanting Will to discover how bad the situation is. He wasn’t afraid of work, and nothing was too strange or weird to Danny, his priority was always his son and he did things in a way he though are right.

The writing style, and the storytelling, were exceptionally good. I loved the banter the author used in his story, and I loved the situational comedy. He has perfectly blended sadness and humour together, let’s just think about Ivan and his reactions, Jesus, the moment when they were looking for wood for example had me laughing out loud, and not only because of Ivan and his fears but because of the dialogue between the security people – really, guys, whatever you do, buy this book and thank me later, it’s so, so good, it’s more than good, it’s the best book I’ve read this year. I’d say, be careful Mike Gayle, there is a new author in town! But back to the writing, that was funny without being sarcastic – because it didn’t need to be in that case, and engaging.

The probably only thing that didn’t sit with me so much was the title. I don’t know but it somehow didn’t work, and I’m guessing it was also published as “Bear Necessity”? I must admit I like it much better. Or even “Pandemonium” sounds great to me 🙂 Or “Panda Days”.

About the end… I loved what has happened in the pub, it was so unexpected and so karma – wise, ha, it was simply brilliant. However, I have been expecting something more for Danny, been building my hope through the whole story to be honest – am probably reading too many romances. Sigh. Oh well. Maybe there will be something more from the author about Danny in the future.

I truly adored this book, from the start to the end, and I was sad when I’ve reached the final pages as it’s really this kind of book that you don’t want to end. I can’t remember the last time a book left me feeling so warm inside as “Keeping Mum” did. It was a poignant and also incredibly funny father – son story that had me captivated right from the first page. It touched upon so many important things: grief, hope, friendship, trying to reconnect, trying to keep going no matter what, about second chances. It was absolutely unique story that I’m going to buy in paperback as well to keep re – reading it all the time. Truly, highly recommended!

 

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Meet Me at Pebble Beach by BellaOsborne / Blog Tour

Meet Me at Pebble Beach by Bella Osborne

 

Publisher: Avon 51603024._sy475_

Publishing Date: 28th May 2020

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

Number of pages: 416

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Meet Me at Pebble Beach was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.

Regan is holding a winning lottery ticket.

Goodbye to the boyfriend who never had her back, and so long to the job she can’t stand!

Except it’s all a bit too good to be true…

When Regan gets pranked, she finds herself jobless, homeless and boyfriendless in one fell swoop.

Luckily her friendly seaside community provides a beacon of hope, proving to Regan that sometimes you really can rely on the kindness of others – and one local in particular, a handsome fireman called Charlie, helps Regan realise that this could be her chance for a fresh start.

Armed with a list of ways to change her life, Regan decides it’s time to step out of her comfort zone.

Because – as Charlie knows all too well – life is for living . . .

A feel-good summer read, perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Veronica Henry and Cressida McLaughlin.

Rating: four-stars

 

Regan’s life – with a boring job, uneventful, and with an obnoxious boyfriend – is about to change, because Roegan has just won a lottery. So she quits her job, ends things with her boyfriend and moves out of his flat. Only then it turns out Robyn hasn’t won the lottery… She has to think, and quickly, what to do now, get a new job and find a place to live. But it’s not so easy. And on top of that there is also Charlie whom she’s just met, when she tried to bite her friend’s from work, Alex, head off… Well, on the other hand, Robyn’s life is not boring and uneventful…

Regan was a character that I couldn’t completely put my finger on. On the one hand she was lively, hilarious and open. On the other hand, she’s an adult but still goes through life without thinking, offering only minimal forethought (or any). Some of her decisions and reasoning didn’t sit with me at all, I couldn’t get behind them. I had a feeling that the constant wrecking ball she experiences in her life is of her own doing because she never has a plan, she never thinks things out. Nevertheless, her evenings with Kevin and her life – approach made her a much more likeable character. And I liked the fact that she, actually, never gave up! There was not a hurdle that she wasn’t able to overcome, and even the fact that she was technically homeless didn’t stop her from starting her own business. A business that she needed a kitchen for. And what was also nice, was the fact that Regan was developing and growing throughout the whole story – she was still hot-headed and often made up her mind on impulse but in the end I had a feeling that she’s also matured, without losing her spontaneity and inner joy.

The romance aspect was truly well written. There was this usual will they/won’t they but you actually couldn’t be sure if they will because of one very important problem. I personally kept everything crossed for the happy ending because I loved Charlie, however the author has written her story in such a way that you could expect any ending.

I was very thankful for the setting in this story – Brighton, a lovely seaside town that also showed the other, darker side. The writing is of a very high quality, beautifully capturing the setting but also going deep on feelings and emotions. It’s vivid and colourful and the whole story is easy to read.

There were moments that the book was too dramatic for my liking, as if the author tried too much, but it must be the old cynic in me that made me roll my eyes at the drama. Don’t get me wrong, pretty please, I know what the author wanted to achieve here and the things she has written about ARE very important and thought – provoking but maybe I simply didn’t expect them in this kind of book? I was all about sunshine, butterflies and bunnies (or hedgehogs in that case) and the dark side of the story simply took me by surprise and yes, it felt a bit too forced. Nevertheless, the story of Kevin broke my heart a little, and the scene when he tries to protect himself will stay with me probably forever.

Altogether, it was a lovely, emotional, funny and also poignant book about second chances and that there is always a way out. It will make you smile and it’ll give you a pause for thought. It’s not all sugar – coated bed of roses but it’s also about homelessness and terminal illness for example, but written with a light touch. I enjoyed it and spend some relaxed hours in the characters’ company. Recommended!

 

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