Him by Clare Empson / Blog Tour

Him by Clare Empson

 

36155709Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Big Little Lies meets 13 Reasons Why in this dark and suspenseful debut from a stunning new talent.

It all started with … HIM.

Catherine has become mute. She has witnessed something so disturbing that she simply can’t speak – not to her husband, her children, or her friends. The doctors say the only way forward is to look into her past. Catherine needs to start with Him. Lucian.

Catherine met the love of her life at university and was drawn into his elite circle of privileged, hedonistic friends. But one night it all falls apart and she leaves him, shattering his life forever.

Still, fifteen years later, Lucian haunts every one of Catherine’s quiet moments, and when they are unexpectedly reunited, their love reignites with explosive force.

But they can’t move on from what happened all those years ago. In fact, uncovering the truth will cause their lives to implode once again. This time, with disastrous consequences.

my-review

 

15 years ago, Catherine met Lucian and they fell in love – beautiful, honest, passionate love. But then something happens Catherine breaks up with Lucian – without an explanation – and she disappears from his life. But, even though she marries Sam and they have two children, she can’t forget Lucian. Fast forward to present, four months ago something horrible happened to Catherine, something that caused her to shut down entirely, to stop talking with Sam and the children. What happened when she met Lucian again?

The story jumps between past and present. 15 years ago Catherine and Lucian were at the university, then we have 4 months before (before this something really bad happened?). Catherine is in a hospital now, not being able to speak after “this” happened, and the author has done a great job of getting into Catherine’s head, bringing all her fears, feelings and emotions to life. The switches in time may sound confusing but they’re really not, I was always able to keep track of the plot. However, it is a story that develops in a very slow way, so be prepared for this, and I think it wins from not adding many incredibly twists and turns but focusing on the complex, assured plot.

Catherine, Lucian, Liv and Sam were likeable and relatable characters while Lucian’s group of friends was simply awful and, let’s be honest, a little stereotyped, those posh kids at Bristol University, snobbish and privileged. This mix of different personalities was, though, really great but I’d love more depth to them all. However, with them all so different, it was only a matter of time before this all was going to explode, right? For their secrets to be revealed and I’ve been waiting impatiently for this to happen.

I’ve missed Jack’s point of view, his motivation – why was he like this, what was it that made him want to be like Lucian. There was too little depth to his character and I simply couldn’t get his obsession. Also, the fact that there was a mystery, a secret was absolutely brilliant, however in my opinion it took too long to reveal it. From the very beginning we are made aware that something really bad had happened, it is mentioned in almost every single chapter, especially those told from Catherine’s point of view, and you know how it is, sometimes less is more, sometimes it’s advisable not to hint so much and let the reader wait till the very end because they can start to feel frustrated and the whole good idea simply loses on tension and suspense.

“Him” was a story of unconditional love, guilt and obsession. It was a dark and tragic tale of love that’s gone wrong and toxic friendship. It’s a slow burner and is rather character driven but it’s gripping. It felt very mature in terms of literary and it’s a splendid debut novel written with sensitivity and skill. It’s more social drama than psychological thriller for me, but whatever the label it was a gripping, absorbing and heart – wrenching story, very atmospheric, sad and thick with nostalgia.

 

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Our Life in a Day by Jamie Fewery

Our Life in a Day by Jamie Fewery

 

41878858Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 18th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 304

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Our Life in a Day is a breathtaking, ten-year love story told in twenty-four individual hours – for fans of One Day by David Nicholls, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and The Note by Zoe Folbigg.

The rules are simple. Choose the most significant moments from your relationship – one for each hour in the day.
You’d probably pick when you first met, right?
And the instant you knew for sure it was love?
Maybe even the time you watched the sunrise after your first night together?

But what about the car journey on the holiday where everything started to go wrong?
Or your first proper fight?

Or that time you lied about where you’d been?

It’s a once in a lifetime chance to learn the truth. But if you had to be completely honest with the one you love, would you still play?

For Esme and Tom, the game is about to begin. And once they start, there’s no going back . . .

Rating: three-stars

 

On their 10th anniversary, Esme has created a game for Tom – for each hour of the day he should choose a significant moment from their relationship, so altogether there should be 24 of them, no matter if they’re happy or sad – but they must be important. So Tom, albeit reluctantly, goes back as far as 2007 where they met at the party and together with him we see the best and worst part of their relationship.
The moments Tom has chosen are not listed in a particular chronological order, and maybe it’s better, because there was this surprise effect. It was truly interesting and intriguing to follow those moments, wondering why Tom chose them and not different ones.

The book started great, it had me hooked and hold my interest, but then it somehow went downhill and I really wasn’t sure where it was heading. In the end I found myself skipping some passages without a feeling that I’m missing on something – maybe it was simply too sad and too depressing for me? I know this is life the author wrote about but on the whole the story felt too disheartening, without hope.

My biggest problem here was Esme, I think. I simply couldn’t warm to her and couldn’t accept her demanding attitude. It looked like she was deciding about everything, as if Tom had nothing to say. Everything was good as long as it was Esme’s decision. Sure, Tom also wasn’t perfect, they were both full of flaws, which is great, because who isn’t, but Esme was one of a kind, came across as spoiled and egoistical. Esme doesn’t suggest, Esme demands, and in comparison Tom seems very weak. And while this book was very character driven, and I couldn’t connect with the characters, I had problems with warming to the whole plot, to engage with the story. However, I appreciate the way the author has described and developed his characters. Esme and Tom had their own distinctive voices, their own strengths and weaknesses. There were many moments that I wanted to shake them badly, at Esme being so stubborn and at Tom for keeping the truth from her. But I didn’t feel invested in their lives.

What I liked in this book was that it felt so very realistic and down to earth in the way Tom and Esme’s relationship was working. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it was tense, just like in real life. The writing style was really good – it was easy to read, flowing seamlessly, with vivid descriptions, bringing feelings and emotions to life. It was a story pulling the good and the bad from real life. It provided us with a realistic, brutally honest, bittersweet view of a relationship. It is not a light read, and I think I expected it to be, but I’d say the opposite, as it deals with heavy subjects. It felt raw, real and genuine, without sugar-coating things, telling how it is.

 

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

 

44017619Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 18th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 05.03.2020)

 

Synopsis:

Tiffy Moore and Leon Twomey each have a problem and need a quick fix.

Tiffy’s been dumped by her cheating boyfriend and urgently needs a new flat. But earning minimum wage at a quirky publishing house means that her choices are limited in London.

Leon, a palliative care nurse, is more concerned with other people’s welfare than his own. Along with working night shifts looking after the terminally ill, his sole focus is on raising money to fight his brother’s unfair imprisonment.

Leon has a flat that he only uses 9 to 5. Tiffy works 9 to 5 and needs a place to sleep. The solution to their problems? To share a bed of course…

As Leon and Tiffy’s unusual arrangement becomes a reality, they start to connect through Post-It notes left for each other around the flat.

Can true love blossom even in the unlikeliest of situations?
Can true love blossom even if you never see one another?
Or does true love blossom when you are least expecting it?

Rating: five-stars

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I really wasn’t sure how it’s possible that “Tiffy and Leon share a bed. Tiffy and Leon have never met” but it turned out that yes, it is possible. They are flatmates – with a twist. Leon needs some money to pay the solicitor, Tiffy needs a flat after her final break – up with Justin. Leon is in the flat only during the day, as he works night shifts at the hospice. Tiffy is in the flat during the evening and night, as she works in publishing as an assistant book editor. So they start to share a one bedroom flat and they never have to meet! That’s it! They start to leave post – it notes for each other about bin days, leftover food etc, but slowly those notes evolve into something deeper and more intimate. They start to have a connection. And then they meet…

You know it, when you had a feeling that you’ve simply clicked with the book, right? Well, I clicked with “The Flatshare”. This was an epic, beautiful, romantic love story that had this “something” that makes a novel absolutely outstanding for you. I started reading “The Flatshare” actually not knowing what to expect but hoping that it’s going to be something particularly beautiful, and I was hooked right from the beginning.

The characters in this book were immediately likeable and believable, and not only the main characters but the group surrounding Tiffy and also Leon’s family who added so much depth and perspective to this story. I loved Tiffy from the word go. She’s quirky, she’s smart and has brilliant one – liners, and simply feels human, especially as she has to overcome her personal obstacles. She’s trying to move on from her recent relationship and slowly comes to realise, how abusive it was, and the word gaslighting comes to mind here. I have kept everything crossed for Tiffy, I wished her all the best in the world and it was a real, real joy to see her growing in confidence in some matters.
And Leon as well. He’s a bit withdrawn, on the quiet side but he has so many valuable qualities. He’s currently campaigning for the appeal of his – presumably – wrongly convicted younger brother who is now in prison. And he’s also trying to track down the long – lost love of one of his patients in hospice. At the beginning I had some problems with the chapters told from Leon’s point of view, they were specifically written, but quickly I got used to his voice and was actually happy that he had this distinctive tone.

The idea with the post – its was ingenious. For the first few months of living together Tiffy and Leon communicate via notes left around the flat. They start with the dates of the bin days and leftover food but over time they start to pick up on each other’s moods through the little cues they leave around the flat: the half – drunk cups of tea or coffee, the unwashed dish, and slowly the correspondence gathers depth and intimacy. I loved how they open up to each other in their post – it notes, how honest they are and how attentive they are, paying attention to the smallest details.

The pacing was perfect, all the time there was something happening. The build up for the characters to meet was brilliant. It took its time but it was so necessary in my opinion, and it was so enthralling, this waiting for them to actually meet in person. I was completely invested in Tiffy and Leon’s lives. Beth O’Leary’s writing style is so, so vivid, chatty and charismatic.
The book was full of so incredibly funny moments, guys, they had me chuckling to myself, and as I am currently struggling a bit with my mental health it isn’t so obvious that something funny will make me smile. Well, this book did it, so already for this it deserves a standing ovation from me. But it is also very emotional – but not too wishy – washy – and it works perfectly well with all those humorous moments, scenes and witty dialogues. And the author handles the heavier issues with a lot of understanding and gentleness.
“The Flatshare” was an uplifting, charming and comforting novel. Actually, it has everything I have expected from it and much more and I can’t believe that it’s the author’s debut. It has a brilliant, likeable and believable characters, wonderful storyline that feels so fresh and unique. I loved it totally and I can’t recommend it to you highly enough!

 

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The Time of Our Lives by Portia MacIntosh

The Time of Our Lives by Portia MacIntosh

 

44073128Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 12th April 2019

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

Number of pages: 235

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 11.07.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Love is in the air…?

Luca is used to being the ‘single one’ at weddings – it happens, when all your other friends are engaged, married or taken. But when she bumps into Tom, her friend from university who broke her heart into a million pieces, she finds herself wondering what could have been.

It’s ten years later, surely she should be over that Tom by now? So why is he looking even more gorgeous than ever – and why doesn’t he seem to be able to keep his eyes off her either?

And as the champagne flows and old secrets resurface, Luca realises that perhaps the time to take a chance on love and life is…now?

The laugh-out-loud new novel from bestseller Portia Macintosh!

Rating: three-stars

 

Luca is fine. Or isn’t she? Attending another wedding of her uni’s friend she realises that she’s always the single one, another are engaged/married/otherwise romantically occupied. She starts to feel that time moves on while she stays in place. When she also meets Tom at the wedding, her ex/not ex – boyfriend, she starts to think and evaluate her life.

The story actually unfold on a wedding day, and it was incredibly how much can happen in a day – well, especially when you are as accident – prone as Luca, that is. The present intertwines with flashbacks to the past and we slowly get to know the characters and their lives as a group. Also, it turns out of course that there are, and were, many secrets, misunderstatements and plays. So as much as Luca is our main character, the others play as important role in the book as she is, because they helped to shape her. However, maybe because of the relatively huge number of characters, I had a feeling that they were not good enough developed. They were there, but there was not enough depth to them and to be honest, I haven’t felt connection with them. I think Luca tried to be über – cool and nonchalant in her life. She was your normal, everyday girl, sharp – mouthed and generally happy with herself but I couldn’t warm completely to her, to be honest, not sure why.

The humour this time was also not so Portia MacIntosh – it felt too flat and there were moments that probably were supposed to be funny, like with Luca suddenly being a bridesmaid and the bride’s wishes and requests but it only felt too overdone. I also think she tried to make it a sitcom – like rom – com, with flashbacks and hilarious situations but, unfortunately it didn’t work.

From the author like Portia MacIntosh I was simply expecting something better, ambitious. I was left with a feeling that she herself didn’t connect with the story at all, it scratched below the surface, was without a depth. There were some moments that saved the book for me though on the whole I was really hoping for something deeper, with the MacIntosh’s hallmark humour and sharp observations. Altogether, “The Time of Our Lives” was a light – hearted, easy and fairly straight – forward and predictable read but nevertheless a read that will keep you reading. The pacing was right, the dialogues dynamic and it dealt with the fact that you should fight for things that you feel will make you happy.

 

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Ayesha at Lat by Uzma Jalaluddin

 

40133941Publisher: Corvus

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A big-hearted, captivating, modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice, with hijabs instead of top hats and kurtas instead of corsets.

AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been overtaken by a demanding teaching job. Her boisterous Muslim family, and numerous (interfering) aunties, are professional naggers. And her flighty young cousin, about to reject her one hundredth marriage proposal, is a constant reminder that Ayesha is still single.

Ayesha might be a little lonely, but the one thing she doesn’t want is an arranged marriage. And then she meets Khalid… How could a man so conservative and judgmental (and, yes, smart and annoyingly handsome) have wormed his way into her thoughts so quickly?

As for Khalid, he’s happy the way he is; his mother will find him a suitable bride. But why can’t he get the captivating, outspoken Ayesha out of his mind? They’re far too different to be a good match, surely…

Rating: three-stars

 

Ayesha is a substitute teacher though what she really wants to do is write poetry. Ayesha is single and happy, she’s not interested in arranged marriages, accompanying her younger cousin on this way will suffice. But then she meets Khalid… But she hasn’t met his mother yet…

The book had a great potential, and I appreciated the humour very much but there were moments (in the end, too many moments) when I had a feeling that the author simply tried too hard and overdone it. The book started very promising, and I found myself smiling at the characters’ antics but then it only went downhill for me, I found my interest slowly fading and I started to skip some parts of it, with the many subplots and the action that was almost like in a gangster movie, and a) it was too much for me, too hard tried on making the story hilarious, b) the subplots were not developed enough for my liking, they were not properly addressed, just like that left hanging.

The romance between Ayesha and Khalid was humorous and also head – banging – on – the – wall desperate. When one of them finally got to their senses, the other was not interested and other way round. It was for sure a rocky way but altogether I liked that it was not so straightforward and obvious, and the problems they had were for sure different to the problems that the characters in other books usually have.

The characters could be better drawn, I think, because they were either brilliantly good or awfully bad, and this made them feel a little too exaggerated and too obvious in their behaviour. Sheila and Khalid’s mother are the best example here, but also Hafsa, the spoiled, judgmental and shallow one who actually wasn’t charming but only annoying. I am also not so sure about Khalid himself – on one hand we can say that his character saw development, on the other hand I’m not so sure because well, he changed, but did he really want to change?

The story touched upon many, many issues and probably this was the problem, maybe the author should focus on less than relationships, family ties, arranged marriages, family disownment, politics, stereotyping, racism at the workplace, theft and many, many more. It was simply too much. I had a feeling that if the story stuck to tell a romance, without all the other mosque and conference issues, it would be enough. I adored getting to know the colourful Muslim traditions, even the arranged marriages and the arguments that people involved in them had, their pros and cons, and I really got it all, it was really great to see the close – knit community and I’d really love it if the book focused more on this part of the characters’ lives.
There were too many moments that felt too drawn out and exaggerated for my liking. But altogether, it was a feel – good, funny and light story that had it moments. The writing style was lovely, so chatty and eloquent and the author is a great story – teller, that’s for sure, and she lets her imagination run wild.

 

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion

 

cover154110-mediumPublisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

Series: The Rosie Project #3

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 09.01.2020)

 

Synopsis:

The Rosie Result is the triumphant final instalment of the internationally bestselling series that began with The Rosie Project.

——

‘The phone call signalling an escalation in the Hudson Adjustment Problem came at 10:18 a.m. on a Friday morning . . .’

Meet Don Tillman, the genetics professor with a scientific approach to everything. But he’s facing a set of human dilemmas tougher than the trickiest of equations.

Right now he is in professional hot water after a lecture goes viral; his wife of 4,380 days, Rosie, is about to lose the research job she loves; and – the most serious problem of all – their eleven-year-old son, Hudson, is struggling at school. He’s a smart kid, but socially awkward-not fitting in.

Fortunately, Don’s had a lifetime’s experience of not fitting in. And he’s going to share the solutions with Hudson. He’ll need the help of old friends and new, lock horns with the education system, and face some big questions about himself. As well as opening the world’s best cocktail bar.

Big-hearted, hilarious and exuberantly life-affirming, The Rosie Result is a story of overcoming life’s obstacles with a little love and a lot of overthinking.

Rating: five-stars

 

In “The Rosie Result” the Tillman family has moved back to Australia as a result of Rosie getting a new job, leading a research project. Don takes a position as a genetics professor at the university, their son Hudson is already 11 years old. However, one meeting with the school principal after another and it quickly turns out Hudson has a hard time settling in. Following a kerfuffle at the university, Don decides to take time out and hence “Hudson Project” is born – a project aimed at helping Hudson to develop life skills that will make him fit better in the society and make friends. This all, of course, in typical, analytical Don’s style.

As much as I’d love to see a little bit more of Rosie in this book, Don has probably compensated it. I love his methodical and logical approach to everything and the fact that words “not possible” don’t exist in his vocabulary. I’ve never supposed he’d be such an involved father but he went into “Project Hudson” with all of his heart. “Project Hudson” involved among others helping him making friends or increasing his competences. The way he goes about things is so heart – warming and uplifting. He’s still very direct, literal and single – minded but that’s Don for you, and he’s also incredibly kind. I think I have a weakness for Don Tillman.

I adore Rosie and Don’s relationship. Rosie is so laid – back and always guides Don when he struggles. They are open and incredibly honest with each other and it’s such a refreshing change to have characters who can talk with each other about literally everything. They complement each other brilliantly. And their unity in all things Hudson was simply exemplary and enviable – when we argue with my husband it’s usually about our different ways of raising our daughter.

I totally appreciate the fact that the author didn’t choose the most straightforward ways for his characters. Being diagnosed with autism doesn’t only mean that you can have excuse for certain behaviour, it often means being labelled, stereotyped, people making assumptions, and he let his characters to made the decision for themselves. He showed different views when it comes to Autism and the scene of the discussion that Don and Rosie attended was incredibly interesting and eye – opening as well. The story gives us plenty thought for food, showing benefits of some treatments and also, what I liked most, focusing on the abilities rather than weaknesses of the children being “on the spectrum”, showing their individuality and specialty.

Graeme Simsion writes about some serious issues but with a light touch and in entertaining way. His writing style is exceptional – it’s witty, it’s clever, the banter between the characters is fast and intelligent and he so brilliantly captures the eccentric personalities.

“The Rosie Result” was quirky and charming, brilliantly balancing heavier issues with humour, uplifting and thought – provoking. It didn’t touch only upon Autism, but also the issue of working mothers and belittling them at their workplaces, or at least treating them differently, racism and sexism, bullying, violence – and while they really sound important and rather heavy, the author knows how to write in a light, entertaining way and still leave us thinking. This book was an excellent conclusion to the series, series that I’m truly going to miss. However, I’m left with a feeling that everything is going to be okay with Don, Rosie and Hudson. Highly recommended!

 

 

My Husband’s Wives by Faith Hogan / Blog Tour

My Husband’s Wives by Faith Hogan

 

45013776Publisher: Aria

Publishing Date: 7th March 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Better to have loved and lost, than never loved.

Paul Starr, Irelands leading cardiologist dies in a car crash with a pregnant young women by his side.

United in their grief and the love of one man, four women are thrown together in an attempt to come to terms with life after Paul. They soon realise they never really knew him at all.

The love they shared for Paul in his life and which incensed a feeling of mistrust and dislike for each other, in his death turns into the very thing that bonds them and their children to each other forever.

As they begin to form unlikely friendships, Paul’s deaths proves to be the catalyst that enables them to become the people they always wanted to be.

Rating: four-stars

Evie, Grace and Annalise’s lives are suddenly brought together after Paul Starr’s death – it turns out they were all married to him. As for Kasia, nobody actually knows what ties her to Paul. The present becomes intermingled with the past as the women say their goodbyes to Paul, and what starts as a complicated mess of secrets, lies and mistrust ends with an unlikely friendship.

With so many main characters there were a few storylines running through the novel and I liked how seamlessly their tales were waived together – it felt natural and authentic, so hats off to the authors for doing it like this. Each of the female characters was different and I really liked to get to know them and their background, and they were really well developed, strong and believable women. I might not have always agreed with their choices and decisions, they were full of flaws but still they were likeable and authentic. Some of them more, some of them less, some of them it was easier to like to hate. I think that Kasia’s character was the most interesting one, her storyline for sure seemed so – it was a subplot with a difference, showing another side to the story. Also, she was kind and warm, always looking for good things in people. Annalise was the most shallow one, I think, a little like bimbo who couldn’t do anything for herself and alone, always unhappy and whinge-y, but as the story progresses you could see the change in her. Evie wasn’t happy with her life, she was vulnerable and I think she was still mourning the end of her relationship with Paul, didn’t come to terms with the break, this vulnerability and fragility were really well described. Grace is a famous artist who also must move on without Paul’s support. They were all compelling, real and authentic and simply they made the book so special.
I couldn’t help but feel dislike to Paul, the smooth operator who always knew what to say, how to make a woman feel wanted, who sweet – talked them, wrapping them around his finger but in the end he was cheating and playing them. He kept so many secrets from them and his lies have caused so much heartache. And I also think that the women were really better off without him – at least they knew where they stand.

I enjoyed the way the book was written. You can’t help but have tons of question and you want to know the answers immediately, but the author really takes her time, drip feeding us with them throughout the story. Maybe this is why I had a feeling that it’s rather slow – paced but it didn’t bother me so much, as there was enough to keep me interested. The fact of Paul having had more than one wife was not the main point of the book in my opinion, but rather the mentioned in the blurb “unlikely friendship”. It was heart – warming and beautiful to see how the women became friends. They were suddenly connected, in truly difficult circumstances, and yet they found strength, which the author vividly captured.

“My Husband’s Wives” was a story full of secrets and intrigues, filled with sadness, friendship and family bonds. It was about finding friendship and confidence, a touching story about grief and how it affects people. And the author had a way with words, she can beautifully write about feelings and emotions and gave her characters very distinctive voices and beautifully balance the lighter and darker sides of life. Recommended!

 

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