Four Christmases and a Secret by Zara Stoneley

Four Christmases and a Secret by Zara Stoneley

 

Publisher: One More Chapter 45175398._sy475_

Publishing Date: 27th September 2019

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 28.11.2019)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Except for Daisy Christmas means another of Uncle T’s dreaded Christmas parties, complete with Christmas jumper and flashing antlers.  And Oliver Cartwright.  Gorgeous Oliver Cartwright. Who she hates.

Every year Daisy has to face insufferable Ollie and hear all about how BRILLIANT he is.  Whereas Daisy has no job, no man and no idea how to fix things.

This Christmas however Daisy is determined things will be different.  There will be no snogging Ollie under the mistletoe like when they were teenagers.  No, this year she’ll show Ollie that she’s a Responsible Adult too.

But as the champagne corks pop, and the tinsel sparkles, Uncle T has news of his own to share…and it could change Daisy’s life forever…

Rating:    four-stars

 

Daisy has just lost her boyfriend, her job and probably her dog. The only thing keeping her sane is the annual Christmas party at Uncle Terrence’s bookstore. She loves these parties, they bring all her favourite people together, and they are in her favourite place, bookstore. However, every single Christmas party, she has to endure hearing of Oliver Cartwright – they grew up together and were best friends for ever, but now they are not as they went their separate ways after Ollie went to university and became a doctor and Daisy… well, Daisy’s dreams of being a vet have never came true. Her mum and Oliver’s mum are best friends but they both love to boast about their children, and Ollie, well, Ollie wins at life, right? But then, after 13 long years, Oliver also comes to the party and oh boy, he’s hot! And lovely, and friendly and soon Daisy finds herself sharing an apartment with him…

As usual, the book is full of brilliant, sharp and witty banter between the characters, especially between Daisy and Oli. I loved their dialogues, they made me smile so often, and it always makes reading so much nicer and lighter. There is a lot of character development in the story but I think that the biggest self – discovery journey was Daisy’s one, she for sure was a totally different person at the end, a person that I liked much more than at the beginning – as I only had a teeny, tiny problem with Daisy, to be honest, as I had a feeling that the author has tried too much with her – to make her too funny, too dramatic, too lost, and this altogether has made her simply too overdone. I liked her, oh my word, I really liked her but because of all these “too” I couldn’t warm to her completely. Also, I am not a biggest fan of creating holly characters, characters who could do no wrong, who are always right and full of wisdom, and so the whole subplot with Uncle Terence, instead of making me weak at the knees, made me roll my eyes a bit.

The read was so engaging that I honestly haven’t spotted the three Christmases. Oops. The writing style so sentimental and light and chatty that I haven’t noticed time is passing by. The author has so easily drawn me into her characters’ lives and worlds that I really didn’t want to leave.
Altogether, it was a fun, witty and heart – warming rom – com, filled with quirky characters, some secrets, embarrassing situations, just what you could expect from this kind of book and from this author. However, it is not only a light – hearted, not too demanding read, it’s full of deeper and more serious moments, and I loved this perfect mix of fun and poignant. It was the perfect Christmas story to start getting you in the festive spirit. Let’s be honest, Zara Stoneley has did it again, she delivered another brilliant read full of great characters, the perfect blend of will they/won’t they, filling the book with a self discovery journey full of secrets, discoveries, friendship, love and stealing dogs. Truly recommended!

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The Lying Room by Nicci French

The Lying Room by Nicci French

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 44182513._sy475_

Publishing Date: 3rd October 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 02.04.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

*** THE BRAND NEW STANDALONE NOVEL FROM THE MASTER OF PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE ***

Neve Connolly looks down at a murdered man.
She doesn’t call the police.

‘You know, it’s funny,’ Detective Inspector Hitching said. ‘Whoever I see, they keep saying, talk to Neve Connolly, she’ll know. She’s the one people talk to, she’s the one people confide in.’
A trusted colleague and friend. A mother. A wife. Neve Connolly is all these things.
She has also made mistakes; some small, some unconsciously done, some large, some deliberate. She is only human, after all.
But now one mistake is spiralling out of control and Neve is bringing those around her into immense danger.
She can’t tell the truth. So how far is she prepared to go to protect those she loves?
And who does she really know? And who can she trust?
A liar. A cheat. A threat. Neve Connolly is all these things.
Could she be a murderer?

Rating:   three-stars

 

Neve Connolly is a married graphic designer, household’s provider, as her husband does work from home but no money is coming in from him. Between this, work, her three children, lack of money, Neve injects some unexpected thrill into her life by having an affair with her boss. Once she receives a text from him, in which he asks her to meet in his flat. Only, she finds him dead on the floor, most likely killed with a hammer. In her panic to protect her family from the consequences of her infidelity, she cleans – up the flat to remove all traces of her. And then the waiting starts – was she able to eliminate the evidence? Did she forget something? Yes, she did! She left something in the flat but when she comes back, it’s gone – as well as the hammer!

It was a difficult book, I still – after a bit more than a week after finishing it – am not sure how I feel about it. It started really good and I was truly invested in Neve’s life that was a real drudgery and I felt for her and her situation, then the discovery of Saul’s body, but then the story went downhill, with monotonously describing every single detail of Neve’s life in a tad flat style. There was actually not a lot happening, and the whole atmosphere was one of depression and desperation, and the credibility of the story was… rather doubting. I mean, I think that police should really solve the case in a few hours. The characters were also not too likeable, I had troubles to warm to them and it didn’t happen, and I missed more about the whole thing with Mabel. Neve herself was supposed to be incredibly friendly and warm, everyone wanted to be her friend but I never got why – there was actually nothing in her indicating these attributes. The ending of the book, ie. finding the murderer, it also didn’t sit well with me, I don’t know, I had a feeling that the author has simply lost an idea and took this character, out of the blue, to be the killer. No, I didn’t guess who did it, but the final reveal made me go “erm, what? How come?”

I missed emotions in the writing style. It felt so polished and pedantic, with the author paying a great attention to all of the details, to the point that it was too monotonous, but without feelings, very object – focused. The plot development is immaculate and the tangled web of deceit, lies and revenge is neatly interwoven into it but it is simply to clinical.

It was a story full of lies and misunderstandings, with a few turns and twists but it missed the mark for me. This was my first book by Nicci French but I’ve heard so many great fantastic things about her books, and so I thought, here I am for a treat. And at the beginning it was like this – a shocking, captivating start but in the end there was too much that didn’t work me, sadly.

Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna

Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna

 

Publisher: Sphere 46281093._sy475_

Publishing Date: 24th September 2019

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

Number of pages: 336

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 05.03.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

You are cordially invited to the wedding of the year, at the famously luxurious Serenity Spa & Resort on the Californian coast . . .

Ginger is an overworked, under-pampered mother of three who’s barely holding the family together when she learns a secret about her daughter that could ruin everything.

Lulu is a wealthy retiree with four ex-husbands, and a fifth on the way.

Emily harbours a dark secret, which she’s become expert at forgetting with the help of a bottle of wine.

Kate is a powerhouse lawyer with her life in order – except for one little problem that won’t go away.

Only twenty-four hours later a man is found murdered.

All Detective Ramone knows for certain is that these four women sit calmly across from him, offering four very different confessions, each insisting they acted alone.

Why would they confess to the same crime? Only they know the answer – and they’re not telling.

A sharp, twisty and utterly addictive suspense novel that is perfect for anyone who loved Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, I Invited Her In by Adele Parks and The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine

Rating:  three-stars

 

Three college friends meet up at a luxurious Serenity Spa and Resort in California for another friend’s wedding. Their friendship has mostly fallen apart but nevertheless, they’re making their way to the wedding celebrations that are supposed to take one whole week – Whitney is getting married in the right way, no?
However, it immediately becomes clear that a man has been killed at the resort and along with Lulu, related by marriage to the groom and befriended at the hotel, all the women claim to have killed him. Why? What has happened?

Each of the characters is different, they face different challenges and I liked this variety, even when I couldn’t connect with them as much as I’d like to. I mean, they were really interesting, normal characters, they kept supporting each other when it was needed, even with their friendship disintegrating over the years, but they simply felt too repetitive, and I think the author could have written them in a sharper way, instead of making them so unhappy with all their shortcomings in life.
Ginger is married to Frank, they have three children and their family life is rather exhausting, and money is also short supply. She has to do extra shifts at a hotel she’s working in to be able to attend the wedding, and her relationship with her teenage daughter Elsie is unravelling. Emily Brown is trying to come to terms with a dramatic past, has a drink problem and is the one to have sex with a man she has only met on the plane. Her friendship with Ginger has been jeopardized years ago, when something happened. Kate Cross is, on the surface, a happy, successful lawyer with no problems, a partner in a New York firm and has a great boyfriend. Under the surface though it looks totally different, her boyfriend Maximilian Banks dumps her right after arrival to the Resort, in reception, after years of trying for a baby he has enough. They all get to know Lulu at the hotel. Lulu, married for the fifth time, loves her husband with all her heart but she’s afraid he’s going to leave her for another woman. The truth is different.
All the women are different, but all have problems, troubles and keep secrets, trying to live up to the expectations and not wanting to admit to each other that their lives are not beds of roses.

I am a new reader of Gina LaManna, so I didn’t know what to except, though I was hoping for something Liane Moriarty – worthy (as stated in the premise and why I actually requested this book). And yes, the book started brilliantly, and I was incredibly intrigued how it’s going to develop, however it quickly went downhill. It started to be repetitive and there was actually nothing happening, it felt flat and as if the idea run out. Yes, there are similarities between these books but let’s be honest, “Big Little Lies” is on absolutely different level.

There were some moments that made me nod my head, as they were so relatable, and some that made me smile, especially the banter between Ginger and her daughter, and the interviews between the Detective and the characters – they were, I think, the best parts of the book, thanks to the characters and the way they approached them.

Nevertheless, it was a quick, entertaining read, a story filled with bigger and smaller dramas, lies, unconditional love, abuse, friendship and being ready to sacrifice a lot. The friendship is very honestly portrayed, with all the ups and downs, grudges and rivalries.

Motherwhelmed by Anniki Sommerville

Motherwhelmed by Anniki Sommerville

 

Publisher: One More Chapter 47194568._sy475_

Publishing Date: 5th September 2019

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

Number of pages: 395

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 02.04.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A laugh-out-loud funny and confident must-read novel that everyone will be talking about! For fans of Dawn O’Porter, Bryony Gordon and Daisy Buchanan.

Rebecca is 42, has a beautiful child and a wonderful husband. But she just hasn’t been feeling herself recently…

Rebecca thinks a great night out should involve a packet of Marlboro’s, six double vodkas and snogging a colleague. Not gormlessly drinking a zero-alcohol No-hito while Instagramming a vegan chicken wing.

Rebecca wants to ride on a Harley Davidson, to crowd surf till dawn, then collapse in a heap after swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels . . . not sit in a soul-destroying meeting surrounded by ‘blue sky thinking’ and men half her age who interrupt all the time.

She’s had enough of commuting to an office that is so cold people have to wear blankets all day. And she can’t help asking herself why her adorable daughter must spend all week in a containment zone for pre-schoolers.

Rebecca wants to feel that there’s MORE coming her way, rather than less . . .

In short – Rebecca wants out.

But where to?

Rating: three-stars

 

In “Motherwhelmed” we follow Rebecca through her daily life: jumping between job that drains the life out of her, feeling guilty of missing so much from her daughter’s life, frustrated and unhappy with her marriage… Just all the normal things that are called life.

I had a feeling that the author wants to throw off all of her problems on the fact that she’s a mother. I’m sulky and bad tempered – because I’m a mother. I have a bad hair day – because I’m a mother. I had a row with my husband – because I’m a mother. As if those things would have happened if she wasn’t a mother. What I missed in this book were most certainly the simple things that make motherhood special. Yes, it’s exhausting, being a mum, juggling work and home and shopping and thousand other things, but it is also satisfying and having your daughter put your arms around you must be the best feeling ever. Rebecca would be much more believable and likeable if she showed an emotion or two towards her daughter, in her presence. Other than that, she was an okay character, trying to keep calm while wanting to explode and worrying about everything, doing her best to juggle being a working mum.

I also didn’t find it funny. I’m sorry, but I found it flat and lifeless After seeing the huge hype about this book I was hoping I’m going to love it, that it’s going to be another hilarious novel about motherhood, but it turned out to be self – absorbed and dry. Not humorous. I wasn’t expecting twists or turns, as in real life there are not many of them, but I was expecting a coherent and solid story. I had high hoped for this book, being sure that it’s going to be so relatable to me, but sadly not this time. However, do not feel put out by my review – you may enjoy this novel much, much more.

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis

 

Publisher: Avon 47914729._sy475_

Publishing Date: 5th September 2019

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

Number of pages: 376

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Prepare to fall head over heels. The perfect book for fans of Josie Silver, Richard Curtis, and anyone who ever fell in love with the wrong person…

What if you couldn’t get away from the one who got away?

This December, unlucky-in-love Jess is following her dream and moving to Notting Hill. On the first night in her new house-share she meets Alex, the guy in the room next door. They don’t kiss under the mistletoe, but there’s still a spark that leaves Jess imagining how they might spend the year together – never mind the house rule against dating…

But when Jess returns from her Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started seeing Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into the man of her dreams – and, apparently, the woman of his.

Jess is determined to move on and spend the year falling in love with London, not Alex – but what if her heart has other ideas?

Rating:  three-stars

 

Jess moves to London from her home in a small town after finding out her boyfriend is cheating on her. Luckily, her friend Becky inherited a multi – million dollar home in Notting Hill and offers Jess one of the rooms for almost nothing, renting other rooms to a group of random friends. As Jess has just bagged  a job in publishing, she’s delighted with the offer. And also, she’s instantly attracted to one of the other tenants, Alex – but Becky has a no – relationship between the tenants clause. But does Alex feel at all the same? What with this other woman coming out of his room one morning? 

The characters were nice enough, even though they felt too one – dimensional but still, they were likeable. I liked Jess and Alex, he was the über – perfect boyfriend candidate, but was also a driven young man with a passion, willing to chase his dreams instead of settling for the wrong partner and job. However, I missed the chemistry between these two, to be honest, and perhaps this is why I was not so invested in their slowest. romance. ever, I’d love more dynamic interactions between them, something that will suggest that they really fell head over heels in love with each other – it was too lukewarm for my liking, too cautious. 

I think the author tried too much to write a perfect, festive story and has overdone on fluffiness and general goodness. The book started really well but then it felt too repetitive and too slow. I appreciated the attempt of getting into Jess and Alex’s heads during their walks through London but in the end they didn’t bring anything new and I started to skip them. I also think that reading about Alex’s reasons of changing his job once or twice was absolutely OK but I didn’t have to read about it in every chapter. 

I can’t help myself, the comparison to “One Day in December” by Josie Silver is simply unavoidable. I wasn’t looking for the same story but the cover and the synopsis to “We Met in December”, as well as the title, have the same vibe and I was looking forward to a lovely, romantic story. However, this book left me disappointed. The beginning was good, and I was fully invested in reading but continually I was losing my interest as the story was losing its impact. Nevertheless, I kept reading, holding out hope that something would happen but the downfall was the lack of action and the fact that it felt so clichéd. There is not a lot happening in there, and as much as I can accept the stories to be predictable, here you knew from the page one how it’s going to end and in the end I found myself willing the book to just cut to the chase.  

Altogether, it was a nice enough, comfortable read, a book that you know what to expect from it and getting it all the way, a cute, warm and quick novel. Yes, I was hoping I’d enjoy this book much more which sadly wasn’t the case, but I’m sure that you may find it a great choice for yourself. Yes, the book had tons of potential but ended up falling short for me. When the book looks like one of the best books written, sounds like one of the best books already written and the author’s name is Rosie Curtis, I was hoping for some Notting Hill vibes. I didn’t hate it, of course not, but it’s not a book that will stay with me for long. 

One Christmas Star by Mandy Baggot / Blog Tour

Hi there! Today I am delighted to have Mandy Baggot stopping by with a guest post. Mandy is namaley back with her new release “One Christmas Star” that is receiving raving reviews – no wonder, as Ms Baggot is a real Queen of Christmas stories! Today however put your feet high and read about the power of hedgehogs! Yes!

 

44105905._sy475_

 

One Christmas Star –Mandy Baggot

The power of hedgehog

The main characters in my novel, One Christmas Starare schoolteacher, Emily Parker and troubled musician, Ray Stone, plus thirty-three ten-year olds at Stretton Park Primary School.BUT there are two little characters who havepushed their way into the limelight and have even scored a starring role on the front cover of the novel! Meet Olivia Coleman and Idris Elba –two of London’s declining hedgehog population.

Living in the countryside,I am really used to seeing hedgehogs all the time in my garden,soI never even considered that these cute little balls of spikes might be endangered. But, putting them into my book, a book set in and around Islington, London, I did some research about urban hedgehogs and was alarmed to realise how in decline they actually are.

Back in the 1950s there were over 30 million hedgehogs in London and now, scarily,there are thought to be less than 1 million. In fact,since the year 2000,the hedgehog population has declined by a third. This is huge! There are many, many reasons why this has happened, for example, less natural gardens (more decking and tidier grass spaces)and decline in their prey as we kill the beetles and slugsthat are their foodwith pesticides etc.But the London Wildlife Trust is doing their very best to tryto help.

In One Christmas Star, the children of Stretton Park add their sightings of the hedgehogs to an interactive map that helps plot where hedgehogs are livingin thecapital. This isso an accurate picture of activity can be established. This map isn’t something I’ve made up, it’s very real and it helps the London Wildlife Trust see theareas that need their help the most. You can find out more on their website and even download a booklet that tells you how YOU can help hedgehogswherever you live.

Here is the link:-https://www.wildlondon.org.uk/hedgehog-help

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FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

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One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

 

Publisher: Penguin 34931507._sy475_

Publishing Date: 1st June 2017

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

Number of pages: 358

Genre: Young Adult, Thriller

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

On Thursday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investi­gators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Thursday, he died. But on Friday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they just the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Rating:  two-half-stars

 

In this novel, five students get detention and during spending their time there one of them dies of an allergic reaction. The remaining four young people are suspected, even though all of them claim they didn’t do it and that someone wants to destroy their lives. However, as it turns out, all of them might have had a reason to kill Simon – so what has really happened?

I didn’t guess who did it. But there is a reason why. I simply stopped to care. The book had an interesting premise, I heard great things about it, the whole hype about it and the next books in the series made me curious and yes, the beginning was really good and had me hooked, but the more I read the more I was losing my interest. The author has build a momentum, things were happening quickly, she’s been adding clues and hints and then… well, then the things went downhill and I found myself skipping through the book, not being able to stand the characters. It’s a YA book and I didn’t know about it – my bad, as I don’t read YA books because I simply need something much more demanding for my brain but of course it’s not the book’s fault and I’m not judging it through it genre. I’m judging it after reading it, taking all my feelings and emotions into consideration.

Now I can see that what was bothering me so much was the fact that the story was truly stereotypical (the good girl, the bad boy, bonding over in the time of crisis, the blossoming romance, the coming – outs and the very talented) and there was really not much moving the plot forward. Instead we were involved in the characters’ lives that were full of problems that really weren’t real problems. Or I’m too old for them to feel like real problems. The characters themselves were… well, young. I’m not sure how I should feel about Simon – sympathise with him because he was the victim or hate him because he was an absolutely awful person. All of the characters had secrets and lied – not only one of them was lying, but actually all of them, on different levels. I appreciate how the author tried to make them different and interesting but for me they were not memorable and too full of clichés.

I liked how the author build suspense, casting suspicion on many characters and giving us many possibilities, making you start questioning everything and everyone, but not to the point of obsession. However, she should not be portraying mental illness and depression as equal with being almost a terrorist – it’s very wrong. Altogether, the book didn’t make me invested in reading.