Hello, Again by Isabelle Broom

Hello, Again by Isabelle Broom

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 51804368._sy475_

Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Philippa Taylor (Pepper to her friends) has big dreams. When she closes her eyes, she can picture exactly who she ought to be. The problem is, it’s about as far away from her real life in a small coastal town in Suffolk as she can imagine.

So when her elderly friend Josephine persuades Pepper to accompany her on a trip to Europe, she jumps at the chance to change her routine. And when Pepper bumps (literally) into the handsome Finn in Lisbon, it seems as though she might have finally found what she’s been looking for.

But Pepper know all too well things are rarely as they seem. Her own quiet life hides a dark secret from the past. And even though she and Finn may have been destined to find each other, Pepper suspects life may have other plans as to how the story should end.

A romantic and sweeping story about friendship, love and realising that sometimes it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Rating:  three-stars

 

Philippa Taylor (or Pepper to her friends) experienced a certain amount of tragedy in her life and this is why it’s not easy for her to open up. She’s insecure and doesn’t dare to paint again. She lives in a small coastal town in Suffolk and has never travelled but when she befriends an older woman, Josephine, it’s all about to change. Pepper is not easy to persuade but then decides to accompany Josephine on her journey to Lisbon, to find her long lost love. It’s the beginning of changes in Pepper’s life, and bumping into the handsome Finn is only the promising start. Is she going to find what she’s been looking for almost her whole life? Will she move forwards?

The characters are interesting, however I missed more depth to them and I didn’t engage with them as much as I’d like. Pepper is a complex character though she was not completely my cup of tea, to be honest. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because she was so much reserved? Not believing in herself? Her glass was always half empty? Finn also didn’t convince me completely, there was something in him that made me feel untrusting towards him, and I personally thought that Pepper had deserved someone better, someone less selfish, someone who will take her as she is.
The relationship aspects, especially those concerning the closest family, were really well written, even if, after a while, I started to feel desperate with Pepper’s mother. But they were well explored and close to life.

This time the author takes us to Lisbon, Guernsey and Hamburg, and you can see that Isabelle Broom has done her research. The descriptions of those unusual places, as well as of the food and drinks were colourful and vivid, bringing them all to life. And I liked the end! It was not so obvious, so that’s brownie points from me!

The author follows her proven formula – she takes us on a journey abroad, to another lovely carefully selected setting, where we go on a rollercoaster journey of feelings and emotions, together with the characters. There is everything in the book, all the most important points, girl meets boy, both have a past, both try to overcome their fear, there are ups and downs, and of course an older character that is oh so wise, and we all know how it’s going to end – perfect, right? Only, it’s not perfect. It’s flat and old and I think that the author could do so much better, one shall not live by setting alone, I missed life and authenticity in this story, the characters felt too wooden and really, I had a feeling I’ve read this story thousand times already, only the names of the characters changed. But I guess it’s my problem, as so many of you have already enjoyed this book, so don’t feel put out by my thoughts.

Nevertheless, the quality of Isabelle Broom’s writing is truly to appreciate. It’s eloquent, chatty, warm and so incredibly vivid, especially when it comes to the setting. However, the story at the heart of this book feels too dull and monotonous. I skipped some pages, to be honest and had a feeling that it didn’t make any difference to the story, that I didn’t miss anything. There are too many things that shouldn’t have found their way to this book and it felt too repetitive.

“Hello, Again” is a light summer read about love, friendship, second chances and new beginnings. I only think that I want more texture and not another travel – guide. But overall, this book is a great addition for Isabelle Broom’s fans, probably I’ve simply outgrown such stories.

Queen Bee by Jane Fallon / Blog Tour

Queen Bee by Jane Fallon

 

Publisher: Penguin 51082394._sx318_sy475_

Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Welcome to The Close – a beautiful street of mansions, where gorgeous Stella is the indisputable Queen Bee . . .

It is here that Laura, seeking peace and privacy after her marriage falls apart, rents a tiny studio. Unfortunately, her arrival upsets suspicious Stella – who fears Laura has designs on her fiancé, Al.

When Laura stumbles on the big secret Al is hiding, suddenly Stella’s perfectly controlled world, not to mention Laura’s future, are threatened.

Taking a chance on beating Al at his own twisted game, these two former strangers are fast becoming best friends.

But has Laura forgotten that revenge never comes without a sting in the tail?

Rating:  five-stars

 

After her marriage breaking apart, and the deal about buying her new house not working out at the last minute, Laura, the owner of a small cleaning company, is forced to temporarily rent something suitable and affordable for her and her daughter Betsy before she’ll find a new house for them. She finds a studio flat above one of the houses on The Close, a road where the super rich and their trophy wives reside. It looks like only her landlady Gail and her husband are welcoming here, and well, sooner rather than later Laura is also dragged in a new drama when Stella, the Queen Bee of The Close, accuses her of something Laura hasn’t done. She is desperate to defend herself but being ostracised by Stella means being ostracised by other residents of The Close. However, then, Laura finds something about Stella’s husband and tries to help her to become independent woman. But will Stella believe her?

It was a brilliant, drama packed story – but you also have to take this drama with a pinch of salt sometimes, and that’s one of the best things, I love when the author makes me to read between the lines, and it is always like this with Jane Fallon’s novels. “Queen Bee” is another smart and clever read, relatable and true to life from this author, and she writes how it really is in life.

There were plenty of engaging characters in this story, characters that you either really liked or hated, and all of them so significant to the plot, even the most background characters were so well developed. And, as always, the author has again proved that she is a great observer of societal norms and she tells about the differences between the characters without beating around the bush. The contrast between Laura and “the other half”, especially Stella, was so well and genuinely captured: Stella, the needy and privileged, without taking a second glance at Laura because she was simply of the “worse sort” in her eyes, a plastic perfection, not thinking twice about hurting someone’s feelings because standards don’t apply to her and she’s entitled to everything and never have worked a single day in her life, not afraid of her daughters becoming the “Mini – Hers”. But not able to boil a kettle or go locally shopping for groceries. The contrast to Laura, hard – working running her own cleaning company, never getting something for free but having to fight for it, drinking wine with screw caps and doing everything by herself, single – handedly couldn’t be bigger. Yes, sometimes I thought that Stella can’t be real, the level of her selfishness was beyond limits but it also was truly entertaining and really, I can only repeat myself that the author is a great observer of reality and can bring all the facts accurately and with a great dose of humour.
I adored Laura and her life – approach, how sarcastic and realistic she was and the fact that she didn’t take herself, and her surrounding, too seriously. And as the story is told through her perspective, it made me feel really satisfied when I got my dollop of Laura’s reality – check and her dry and witty internal monologues when she was telling us what she really thinks…

But you know what, I fell for Stella, funnily I really truly wanted that everything will end well for her. There was one moment, almost at the end, with the big reveal, when it all became clear, and I know she has lied, awfully, to her friends but on the other hand I somehow understood why she did it, and maybe I was not the hugest fan of the way she has lived her life and treated other people but well, I though she also doesn’t deserve the future that is suddenly threatening her.

So perhaps the characters were a bit exaggerated and a bit stereotyped but there was also enough depth to them all, and to the plot itself, to make them feel truly realistic and believable. For me, absolutely Laura – team, it was a real joy and great fun to see the inhabitants of The Close described in the distorting mirror. Yes, there are really people like them, taking themselves so seriously, but it only makes it even more funny…

The story was filled with twists and turns and there were moments that I wanted to keep reading hiding behind my hands, not wanting to see what may happen – yes, Laura, I’m looking at you and your spying for example. I desperately wanted to see what’s going to happen, I wanted life to come and bite some of the characters on their backsides, for the reality to knock some sense into them, and I loved to see their progress.

The writing style is chatty, light, uplifting and entertaining, and it flows quickly, sometimes too quickly as I really wanted this book to never end. The author has a way with words, immediately transporting me into the characters’ world that I didn’t want to leave. It is a story that explores family dynamics, broken promises, friendship, jealousy and those over – privileged, showing that grass isn’t always greener on the other side so be careful what you wish for! It is full of sharp observations and one – liners, it’s smart and sassy and nothing there is quite as it seems to be. Another winner from Jane Fallon – highly recommended!

 

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Under a Starry Sky by Laura Kemp / Blog Tour

Under a Starry Sky by Laura Kemp

 

Publisher: Orion 54205052._sy475_

Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

One summer to change her life…

Wanda Williams has always dreamed of leaving her wellies behind her and travelling the world! Yet every time she comes close to following her heart, life always seems to get in the way.

So, when her mother ends up in hospital and her sister finds out she’s pregnant with twins, Wanda knows that only she can save the crumbling campsite at the family farm.

Together with her friends in the village, she sets about sprucing up the site, mowing the fields, replanting the allotment and baking homemade goodies for the campers.

But when a long-lost face from her past turns up, Wanda’s world is turned upside-down. And under a starry sky, anything can happen…

Rating: four-stars

 

Wanda Williams has always dreamed of travelling the world, however, every time she was ready to departure and leave home, something wrong happened, keeping her in Wales. This time, when she’s about to travel, she discovers that her family business, the campsite, is in tatters and in financial troubles, so there is no other option for her, she must – again! – postpone the trip and try to put the campsite back on the track. But then not one, but two faces from Wanda’s past return to Gobaith, faces that she hoped she’ll never see again, and her life is turned upside down – what will she do? Escape or stay?

There is a vast array of characters in the book but it is totally easy to follow all of them, I have never felt confused. It is a community – centred story and all the characters support each other in a lovely, not too forced way, and all of them have their own story to tell and they play a huge and important part in the village’s life. The author has brilliantly captured the lovely sense of community here.

The blurb mentions Wanda, so Annie’s side of the story was a bonus point. However, personally, I think that it was Annie that really has stolen the show, there was much more depth to her history and background, and Wanda’s felt, in comparison, a bit flat and it started to be repetitive, whereas Annie’s tale was living and breathing. Nevertheless, don’t you worry, both stories are emotional rollercoaster journey, full of ups and downs, and sometimes you’ll feel like on a real rollercoaster, feeling your heart in your mouth, such poignant and moving are some of the events and things that happened in their lives. Maybe prepare a tissue or two, just to be on the safe side.

The descriptions were absolutely gorgeous and well, yes, I used to go camping, and even though now I’d rather go “hoteling”, the book made me feel nostalgic. The setting was wonderful, a perfect place to spent a few days, with the lakes, mountain that is not a mountain, food… I am really ready for my holidays after reading this book.

The writing style is so easy and approachable, and the storytelling is flowing effortlessly. The dialogues are natural and close to life and the banter between the characters is so real. I liked the interactions between Wanda’s family, and I loved seeing the campsite coming back to life, and the comments about it at the beginning of each chapter were priceless.

As much as I loved this book, there were things that didn’t sit with me so well and I have to mention them, apologies. I think that the book could be much shorter, cutting out some of the descriptions would do it really good as it slowed the pace down and the story felt too repetitive. The plot was crying out for more action and events – I loved the starry skies and the gorgeous setting but I wanted more, I wanted the plot to speed forward. And I also missed this brilliant and dry Laura Kemp’s humour, to be honest, I was really looking forward towards it.

“Under a Starry Sky” was a real escape, comforting and easy to read. While I liked other Laura Kemp’s novels better, I still really enjoyed it, as it was a beautiful, emotional read. There were some twists and turns and the characters really grew on me, I felt a part of their lives. And it was everything that I have expected from this book and from this author, a lovely and uplifting story, a perfect read for a summery evening.

 

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The Paper Bracelet by Rachael English / Blog Tour

The Paper Bracelet by Rachael English

 

Publisher: Headline 53375276

Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 496

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Every baby’s bracelet held a mother’s secret…

For almost fifty years, Katie Carroll has kept a box tucked away inside her wardrobe. It dates from her time working as a nurse in a west of Ireland home for unwed mothers in the 1970s. The box contains a notebook holding the details of the babies and young women she met there. It also holds many of the babies’ identity bracelets.

Following the death of her husband, Katie makes a decision. The information she possesses could help reunite adopted people with their birth mothers, and she decides to post a message on an Internet forum. Soon the replies are rolling in, and Katie finds herself returning many of the bracelets to their original owners. She encounters success and failure, heartbreak and joy. But is she prepared for old secrets to be uncovered in her own life?

Rating: four-stars

 

In “The Paper Bracelet” we are introduced to Katie Carroll who, following her husband’s death, decides to revisit her memories. She has kept a box with paper bracelets of the babies that were born in a mother and baby home where Katie used to work. Now she wants to reconnect those babies with their mothers who were left with no choice but to give their children away for adoption. With the help of her niece Bath, they both embark on a mission – what they don’t know is what this mission is going to bring them. Are they ready to deal with all the pain, hurt and unfairness?

It may sound impossible but it was my first Rachael English’s book and after reading it I’ll be looking into her other books, that’s for sure. Her writing style is beautiful, calm and steady and she writes with a heart. And the research is done really well, not a wonder, with the author being a journalist and interviewing women from a mother and baby homes in the early nineties, so she truly knows what she’s writing about, and you can see it in every word.

The author has chosen a difficult, emotional and upsetting topic to write about but I can assure you that she has done it justice.

It is a dual – time novel, telling the story of Katie now, interspersed with events that happened in 1950’s in one of Ireland’s mother and baby homes. Even though this house is fictional, there were plenty of them in Ireland. It is amazing to think that such things really happened, and not so long ago! You had a feeling that you are back to ancient times when, in fact, it was already the twentieth century, yet still the pregnant girls were treated as if they belonged to a second category, even though they were often victims of a violence themselves they were perceived as sinners that should pay for their, and only their, mistakes. Awful, especially when you realise that it really wasn’t that long ago!

There was a bunch of diverse characters in this story but it was somehow hard to connect with them and I was not as moved as I probably should have been by their stories. They were not as complex as I’d like them to be, they felt a bit superficial and soooo nice, a bit more depth would be brilliant.

The book started very well, promising to be an exciting and heart – wrenching read. However, later on, it lost its impact a bit and I couldn’t engage with the plot so much. No idea what was the reason but it felt a bit flat. But then it picked up again and the last third was an emotional roller – coaster read filled with events and surprises and the final twist that I absolutely didn’t see coming. It really took me by surprise – maybe because I haven’t been expecting any other twists, as the book was full of them.

This was a sad and heart – breaking book but I wasn’t completely involved in it, didn’t engage completely with the characters and events. Not sure why, it was probably my fault as I am actually somewhere else with my thoughts, but I of course appreciated and enjoyed the novel. It is a thought – provoking book and I personally think those women’s untold stories can’t be forgotten. It is a very important book and at least because of its importance – but also because it is a wonderful, gentle story – I will for sure shout about it. Truly recommended.

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If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

 

Publisher: Pan Macmillan 51469932._sy475_

Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: Mystery & Thriller, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Samuel, the day we met I knew I’d finally found what I’ve been waiting for.

You.

Happiness, at last.

Then you left me.

And now I am alone.

Everyone I love leaves in the end.

But not this time.

I’m not giving up on us.

I’m not giving up on you.

When you love someone, you never let them go.

That’s why for me, this is just beginning.

Rating: three-stars

 

Constance is an admin assistant in a practice where she meets a new doctor, Samuel, who has just started working there. Constance’s life is not the easiest one and she lives in fear that people that she loves simply leave her. Despite it, she develops a crush on Dr Samuel and, as it seems, he’s in turn interested in her. However, Samuel doesn’t want to settle down and for him it is just a quick affair between the two of them. Constance, on the other hand, hoped for something more.

I must admit that the book was something totally different to what I thought it’s going to be. Generally it’s not a bad things but this time there was much too much negativity, sadness and altogether bad feelings in this story for me to enjoy it completely. Yes, it was very readable but there were simply to many points that wasn’t my cup of tea.

The book is told through Constance’s point of view, only. Her story takes a form of a letter written by her, as her psychologist suggested. However, the question is, do we find Constance a reliable narrator? The more I read, the more I thought that the answer is no. Sure, she was led by Samuel who simply played games with her and she was naive enough to play them with him, but there always comes a moment when you say enough is enough, right? But not with Constance, because the more Samuel played with her, the more obsessed she became. And no, I couldn’t understand her decisions and crazy actions, so I was really very sceptical about her. The way she tried to explain all the things she has gone and done didn’t sound real and genuine. Maybe it was intentional, maybe the author has wanted her character to sound so controversial and undecided but it didn’t work for me.

The characters were really well drawn although they weren’t likeable. I couldn’t believe that Constance was so hooked on Samuel, who turned out to be self – obsessed, lying, patronising and arrogant womaniser. I think you can’t tell a single good thing about him. Then Constance herself, her obsession was on the verge of stalking, no, actually she was stalking Samuel.
I think the only redeeming character was Edward who was probably put in the book to make things easier for Constance, ie. to make her stalking easier, and turned out to be the nicest character in this story.

I had a feeling that we really turn in circles as there was not much happening in this story. Sure, there were some gripping and unexpected moments but altogether it was more on the slow side. I was reading, thinking this must be a slow burner and something huge will be dropped at me but nope, so don’t expect it. There was such a great premise but it simply seemed as if the book has lost its wind.

I enjoyed this book, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not a story that is going to stay with me for longer. However, there was something addictive in it as well and while I know that my review doesn’t sound so generous and optimistic, the quality of the writing was very high and this dark story about love and what it can do to us and how far it can push us still deserves the 3 stars.

 

 

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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