More Than Just Mum by Rebecca Smith

More Than Just Mum by Rebecca Smith

 

Publisher: One More Chapter 48228095._sy475_

Publishing Date: 7th December 2019

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 20.02.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Hannah Thompson loves her family beyond words… but sometimes, just sometimes, she wishes she could be recognised as more than just ‘mum’.

Eldest son Dylan is soon to be flying the nest, sixteen-year-old Scarlet keeps asking about penalties for worryingly specific crimes, they’ve forgotten world book day and Benji absolutely will not be Where’s Wally again, and it’s at least two days before she and hubby Nick can sit down for Wine Wednesdays… and even longer until Fizzy Friday.

Determined to find herself a job that she loves, earn a whole lot of money and to have her teenagers respect her as ‘Hannah’ as well as ‘mum’; it might sound like a tall order, but she’s a mum on a mission.

A laugh-out-loud read of self-discovery, family chaos and love. Perfect for fans of Gill Sims, Fiona Gibson and Nick Spalding.

Rating: five-stars

 

Hannah Thompson is in her forties, married, has three children and is a biology teacher turned into an English teacher to a class nine students more interested in writing on each other’s clothes with felt – tip markers than learning about George Orwell. At home, her eldest son Dylan is soon off to University, the middle one, Scarlet, not only bothers her parents about her name all the time (have you noticed the single “t”? Exactly!) but also asks rather suspicious questions about specific crimes and the youngest Benji loses his hamster. Hannah and Nick try to not only to tame this chaos but also desperately need money. As an avid reader, Hannah decides to write a book and channels her inner E.L. James, writing erotica and researching some of the scenes on her husband… Can Hannah make it to Wine Wednesday?

It was probably one of the funniest books out there about motherhood, and what’s more, this humour didn’t feel forced, no, it run smoothly and naturally and this is what makes the book so brilliant. I loved how the author always found humour, even in the most dull situations but without being patronizing.

Hannah was a great character, and if you’re a mother yourself you’re so going to completely understand her and relate to her. She was actually my hero, juggling everything that comes her way, but still with her dreams, ambitions and with finding the courage to fight for her dream come true. And she’s not alone in all of this, as she is supported by her lovely, though rather clueless husband Nick, who’s always ready to help, even if it’s about trying new positions from Kamasutra for Hannah’s book, and her children who were brilliant and written in a great way, especially Scarlet with one “t”, but all three of them were really well developed: Dylan spends a lot of time in his room revising (albeit with his new girlfriend) and the lovely Benji is still the baby of the family, and even though he’s the patsy of his siblings, he’s still innocent and all he wants to do is play. I loved Hannah’s relationship with them, it was so natural and I would love to stay as cool as she was in some of the more burning situations with my daughter. She treated her children also like partners, depending on their age of course, and I could really put myself in her shoes, and my daughter talks also so much, and Hannah had it thrice multiplied. They are dysfunctional, full of flaws but it makes them so true to life and I really wouldn’t have wanted them different – they had me in hysterics, honestly. The banter, the interactions between them were not only incredibly funny but felt so natural and real.

The author is such a great story – teller! Her voice is distinctive and funny, and she describes Hannah’s life so well, vivid and colourful, with all its ups and downs, but making all the small details of daily live double interesting.

“More Than Just Mum” is an absolutely brilliant read to lighten up your day. And for me this book has ticked all the right boxes: humorous insights into real life, where the sink is full of dishes? Check. Lovely kids that are in turn absolutely charming and the next second whiny and argumentative? Check. Forgetting world Book Day costume? Check. Ordering take – aways because you can’t be bothered about cooking? Check. Rebecca Smith has written a book about me, ha – mum, wife, daughter, friend, teacher – how funny that usually all the scrummy mummies are teachers, no? Ladies – we are not ALONE! We all make mistakes, our children will do whatever they want, no matter what we say, we are absolutely not in control but it’s not the end of the world! And there is always place for love, friendship and fun. It was a warm, witty and laugh – out – loud story not beating around the bush what it’s like to be a mum and that I can’t recommend enough!

Unexpected Lessons in Love by Lucy Dillon / Blog Tour

Unexpected Lessons in Love by Lucy Dillon

 

Publisher: Black Swan 42448041

Publishing Date: 5th December 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: Women’s Fiction

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

 

 

Synopsis:

From the SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author of Where the Light Gets in and All I Ever Wanted

What happens when ‘I do’ turns into ‘I don’t know’?

Jeannie always wanted to fall in love, and now she’s finally got the whirlwind romance she dreamed of. Dan’s gorgeous, he’s a successful young vet, and he flew her to New York and proposed on Brooklyn Bridge. Jeannie has to remind herself this is actually her life. It seems too perfect, too magical, to be real. Yet it is.

But now she’s on her way to the wedding she can’t shake off the tight sensation crushing her chest. Is it just nerves . . . or is this all happening a bit too fast?

Jeannie has one last chance to shout, ‘Stop!’ But just as she grabs it, a twist of fate throws everything she knows into the air like confetti. What Jeannie learns about Dan, about her own heart, and about the power of love itself, will change her world for ever . . .

Rating: four-stars

 

Jeannie and Dan are about to get married, after a whirlwind romance, romantic proposal on Brooklyn Bridge in New York and lovely time spent together. But now, shortly before the ceremony, Jeannie starts to have second thoughts – do they really know each other well enough? Does she truly loves Dan, enough to spent her whole life with him? Jeannie makes a decision that is going to change their lives but before it happens, fate decides to interfere and everything suddenly changes and makes Jeannie feel incredibly guilty.

The story is very character – driven. Jeannie was the main character in this book and I liked her immediately. She was so real and human and relatable and I found myself falling for her even more and more, seeing how she struggled to come to terms with her feelings and with this what she thought was proper and what was not. She has experienced such a wonderful personal growth throughout the story and it was great to accompany her on this way. I loved how realistic she was, with all her worries, uncertainty, watching her grow into a self – confident young woman. The secondary characters, especially Owen, Rachel and the dogs, played also significant roles in the story and were as well rounded as the main ones and I was equally engrossed in their own stories.

I was also thrilled, as a dog lover, to see that the book included a very important canine subplot, focusing on re – homing dogs and showing the very harsh reality of puppy farming. The descriptions of the dogs rescued were heart – breakingly realistic and hats off to the author for including this in her novel. There was also a whole subplot built around the re – homing centre, with some brilliant ideas how to raise money and awareness for it.

Lucy Dillon is a great story – teller. Yes, there were moments that the book could have been a bit quicker, but the writing style was absolutely brilliant and beautiful, easy and engaging. The author has easily brought all the characters to life, even if they were lying in coma they felt present. She writes in such a way that you have a feeling as if you’ve known the characters personally, and you care about them, and I love it when I have this feeling, as it doesn’t happen often these days, and Jeannie’s struggles felt so realistic, I could feel them for myself.

However, I was really conflicted about the end, with what happened and with Dan’s confession. I don’t know what I was expecting, and yes, I was incredibly intrigued how the author is going to solve this particular storyline, but I wasn’t happy with the way she has chosen. It, I don’t know, seemed simply like the easy way out, and after all that Jeannie experienced I personally thought it was unfair for her, even though it was a way out for her. But nevertheless, it didn’t sit well with me, it somehow didn’t go with the picture of Dan that we were presented with and I had a feeling that I was mistaken about him through the whole book. Not a nice feeling.

Altogether, “Unexpected Lessons in Love” was a story full of heart and filled with moving and poignant storylines, touching upon many emotions. A story about love and guilt but also showing that to love another person properly, you must first love yourself and be honest with yourself. It was a book that will make you giggle and also cry, an easy, despite some of the topics being on the heavier side, a pleasant read with a real depth to it, thought – provoking, brilliantly balancing lightness with the heavier issues, taking the reader on a real rollercoaster journey full of emotions and feelings. Highly recommended!

 

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The Matchmaker by Catriona Innes

The Matchmaker by Catriona Innes

 

Publisher: Trapeze 44563587._sy475_

Publishing Date: 14th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

For Caitlin Carter, love means business.

She’s taken matchmaking back to basics. There is no swiping left. No creepy location tracker. Definitely no unsolicited pics of areas of the anatomy literally no one wants to see. She’s made dating great again: personal, patient… and profitable. Her startup is going from strength to strength, the brand her very own happy marriage (her wedding went viral), and now she even has celebrities wanting to use her services.

Caitlin is living the perfect life.

Except it’s all a perfect lie. And Caitlin doesn’t know how long she can keep it up.

In an era of social media and dating apps, when we have never been more connected yet more isolated, the matchmaker is a story about love, loss and loneliness, and learning to accept your reality.

This is an emotionally charged, funny and warm novel, perfect for fans of THE MAN WHO DIDN’T CALL by Rosie Walsh, SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL by Giovanna Fletcher and IT STARTED WITH A TWEET by Anna Bell.

Rating:  three-stars

 

Caitlin Carter is a matchmaker, and she’s perfect for this job, usually depending on her gut feeling when matching people together and usually having right! She simply wants to share love, happiness and joy that she herself shares with her husband Harry. But while everything is well on the job – front and it even attracts celebrities, Caitlin is, in fact, hiding the truth about her marriage, worrying about the reputation of her business.  

The characters were well written, however I couldn’t connect with them. Also, I couldn’t understand, for example, what was the point of adding the Instagram influencer subplot, she was so unsympathetic and in the end, well, it didn’t add much to the story, right?

Altogether, right from the beginning, there was something missing from the story for me. I think my main problem is that I was expecting something totally different – a light – hearted, lovely story with the promised humour. However, it turned out that the book is rather sad, sometimes even depressing and I didn’t get any of the positive vibes that I was hoping for. Also, I think that keeping the “secret” a secret for so long was not the best idea. Yes, I was wondering what has happened with Harry, has he left, betrayed, run away, went on a journey around the world on his bicycle, no idea, but eventually it started to feel too flat, you know? There was no tension, no interest more and Caitlyn’s actions and reactions stopped making some sense. Sure, I’ve guessed what has happened, and this time it turned out I was right but to be honest this revelation didn’t have any impact on me. On the other hand, after the secret becoming an open case, the book focused only on this part and it felt as if I was reading two different stories.

 “The Matchmaker” touches upon reality and the unfairness of life, not too light but also not too deep. I am really sad that it didn’t wow me, that it didn’t work for me as much as I hoped but it doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t work for you – I’ve seen also raving reviews of this book. Actually, I’ve notice people are in two minds about this story, while some says it was full of emotions and feelings the others state that it lacked in those features, and unfortunately I belong to the latter ones – but I mean it’s because of my own expectations and however clichéd it sounds, book – it’s not you, it’s me.

25 Days in December by Poppy Alexander / Blog Tour

25 Days in December by Poppy Alexander

 

Publisher: Orion 41hngkpvdel._sx321_bo1204203200_

Publishing Date: 28th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

You can’t plan for the unexpected…

Kate Potter used to know what happiness felt like.

A few years ago, she was full of energy, excited by every possibility. But that was back when everything was different, before Kate’s husband went away with the army and didn’t come home. She can’t even remember what it felt like to be in love.

Then Kate meets Daniel. Recognising her loneliness reflected in his eyes, Kate vows to try and help bring him out of his shell. But as Kate plans to bring life back to Daniel, she might have stumbled on the secret to happiness…

Can one chance meeting change two lives?

Rating:  five-stars

 

Kate Thompson hates Christmas, since her husband was killed four years ago during his service abroad as a soldier. However, her son Jack is desperate to have a lovely Christmas, with a tree and presents. Kate, struggling financially and emotionally, doesn’t know what to do and how to do this. She’s stuck at a low paid job, now she must also sell Christmas trees dressed as an elf and freezing and is not sure what the future is going to bring. Her friend comes up with an idea of doing a special advent calendar with a festive activity to do together for every day in the countdown to Christmas.
Daniel is not looking towards Christmas after the death of his sister. He used to buy Christmas trees from Kate and he knows only as Christmas tree girl. They start to bump into each other more and more and soon realises there is much more to Kate than meets the eye. But Kate’s life is really complicated – can she cope? Will she cope? Can somebody help her?

Kate was a great leading character – there were so many challenges on her way, her life was so demanding and yet she more than often put others above herself. Struggling with money, with being a single mum, she was a realistic, genuine character. It was beautiful and also heart – breaking to see how much she tried to organize the unforgettable Christmas for her son and how far she’s go to guard him. The idea of Kate creating the advent calendar for Jack and making the time so special for her and her little boy was brilliant. The Christmassy things that they were supposed to do in the countdown to Christmas were so nice and so different to everything that we’re used to, and now I really feel like preparing something like this for my family.

The pace in this story was just spot on, and there were many things happening, and the book itself brings together threads of different characters. The chapters are more or less a countdown to Christmas – it is a second book in the last weeks that I’ve read written this way, though they were both absolutely different in style and voice but this way worked great in both of them. I loved how it shows that Christmas is not only about commerce and presents but about what it really is that counts – family, friendship, helping each other, appreciating what we have. It was a real rollercoaster journey, full of ups and downs, filled with feelings and emotions. It tugs at all the right heart – strings, it’s this kind of book that’ll make you smile and cry, that is poignant and uplifting. The author has in such a gentle, subtle way dealt with so many tough and heavy issues and there was the overwhelming festive spirit. She has touched upon different things, some of which I don’t often read about, and it was truly great, thought – provoking and eye – opening. Poppy Alexander is for sure an author to have on your radar, I’m already waiting for her next offering. Highly recommended!

 

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25 Days in December MMP blog tour card

 

A Season in the Snow by Isla Gordon

A Season in the Snow by Isla Gordon

 

Publisher: Sphere 48390373._sy475_

Publishing Date: 28th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 15.10.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Escape to the mountains this Christmas…

Alice Bright loves her life. She has a job she adores, a devoted family, and friends she’d lay down her life for.

So when tragedy strikes, bringing with it Bear – a rapidly-growing puppy in need of a home – it turns Alice’s whole world upside down. She retreats inside her flat, and inside herself, with only her new companion for company.

But one-bedroom London flats aren’t made for mountain dogs, and so Alice lets Bear push her out of her comfort zone to his homeland: the mountains of Switzerland. Could a change of scene in snowy serenity be just the thing to help Alice fall in love with life again?

A Season in the Snow is the perfect read this Christmas, promising snowy mountains , Christmas markets and heart-warming seasonal romance. Perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan and Heidi Swain.

Rating: four-stars

 

Alice is happy – she has a nice job, lovely family and a group of brilliant, supporting friends. However, one day, something really bad happens and Alice’s world is turned upside down – will she be able to recover, get back on track? Maybe a change of scene, moving for a few months to Switzerland, and a little dog that grows incredibly quickly will help?

So. This book. Honestly, it gave me a headache. I adore Lisa Dickenson and her books and I know that as Isla Gordon the novel would be a little different, however as soon as the typical Lisa’s humour and wit appeared on the pages, I was reassured. However! It didn’t happen often, guys, and I was already panicking, not knowing what’s happening with this story. First of all, at the beginning the book felt so chopped. The events in the chapters felt unarranged and half – hearted, as if the author simply wanted to get through this part of the book to start writing about this what she wanted so much: the dog (I’ll come back to the dog in a moment). Only after the festival the book started to read like a book, felt smooth and coherent. But. And this is the next. You know, I also have dogs. I love my dogs but not to the point that I would write a book about them, and I had a feeling that Lisa/Isla simply wanted to share her unconditional love to her pet. And it was too much. If Bear were my dog I’d kill myself and I’d be ashamed with having such a spoiled, whiny dog at home. And I know how cute Bernese Mountain Dog can be, my sister has one, and actually all dogs can be brilliant actors when they want something. Don’t get me wrong, please, I loved him, and I loved Alice’s interactions with him, I loved how she spoke with him and how she treated him like a partner but I don’t have to read about the cute orange spots and Bear’s antics on every single page. And I love Switzerland. Especially in winter. But when I want to read about its traditions I’ll buy myself a tourist guide. So there. Rant over.

What Lisa Dickenson/Isla Gordon showed is that she can beautifully write about the most hidden feelings and emotions and brilliantly mix them with the best humorous one – liners. There were moments, especially when Alice talked with Bear, that made my eyes moisten, and there were moments that really brought smile to my face. This was a different take from this author and she’s proved that she is a great writer that can touch upon deeper issues in a sensible, gentle way. She’s not shy of making her story sadder and difficult and hats off to her for this fact, however I still prefer the author’s exceptional humour and ability to write the most funny, brilliant, light banter. The main character, Alice, is so incredibly well fleshed out! It’s amazing how well the author has captured her insecurities and hopes, trepidation and excitement, making her a believable, relatable person. I found myself keeping my fingers crossed for her, willing her to try, to not forgive but to allow herself the little joy. She had a great sense of humour and I was waiting for the rare moments when she’s allowed this side of her to show. She was simply so real, so natural in everything she did and said that it was impossible not to like her, in fact, I was rooting for her and wishing her all the best.
Actually, all the other characters were very well developed – after we moved to Switzerland, that is. Because I, honestly speaking, couldn’t stand putting Jill on this pedestal anymore. Maybe she was worth it but I had a feeling we didn’t know her as well as Alice did. I loved how supporting Alice’s parents have been, and how lovely and colourful the new neighbours of hers were, how they accepted her without a second glance and how embarrassing Marco’s mum was – she was ace!

The author can for sure bring the setting, easily and effortlessly, to life, and can capture both the idyllic winter wonderland that can quickly and suddenly turn into danger. She’ll sweep you to a country full of cable cars, snowboarding, skiing, mountain rescues, warm and gorgeous cafes, and snow! Lots of snow. And even if it is not strictly Christmas book, read it with “Last Christmas” on the loop and a hot chocolate with a double cream and marshmallow because this is the feeling it’s going to leave you with.

“A Season in the Snow” was a poignant, moving story about healing, about finding yourself afresh and letting the joy come back to you, and not forgetting that there is always hope. I absolutely adored the bunch of characters, supporting each other without knowing that they’re doing it, it was beautiful. And yes, after the initial reservations I found myself adoring the story, though as lovely as Bear was I still think he needs to learn manners. Recommended!

Single All the Way by Karen King

Single All the Way by Karen King

 

Publisher: Bookouture 48055558._sy475_

Publishing Date: 28th October 2019

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

Number of pages: 286

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

I can see my mother is calling me. I answer the phone, knowing I’ll have to tell her about Oliver and me breaking up. But before I can, she announces, ‘I don’t exactly know how to tell you this… But I’m leaving your dad.’

Single together for the first time, 34-year-old Meg and her warm-hearted, long-suffering mother Sally are cancelling Christmas, and running away to a tiny cottage on the Cornish coast. For Meg, it is the perfect place to heal, away from all the mistletoe, while for her mother it has a special, and secret, place in her heart – from a love story that seems a lifetime ago…

Meg and Sally find they’re getting to know themselves, and each other, better than ever before. But as they are unable to resist getting involved in the village Christmas celebrations, they encounter two handsome local strangers.

Sometimes, it’s being away from home that helps you realise where your heart is. What neither woman knows is that, by the time the new year rolls around, one woman will have fallen in love with her husband all over again, and one marriage will be over for good…

An escapist, romantic and heart-warming novel for fans of One Day in December and No One Cancels Christmas.

Rating: two-half-stars

 

Meg and her husband own a party planning business. They love each other and they care for each other, so why is it that one day leaves Oliver? And when Meg’s mother Sally hears about it, she makes a decision of her own – she always put her family, and first of all, husband first but now feels it time to think about herself. Will mother and daughter be able to save their marriages? Do they want to save their marriages?

I could get into the story but I also couldn’t get into it, hope you’re with me 🙂 I understood the meaning, the plot but still I wasn’t full involved because it just simply felt too flat and too clichéd. The dialogues and the characters felt much too wooden and too formal and too forced. Huge part of the book is actually about Meg and Sally reflecting on their relationships and wondering what has gone wrong – I missed action, something happening, the book going forward.

I’m really sorry to say but the characters felt very one – dimensional and not real, and the way they acted and interacted was unnatural and it was hard to connect with them. The chapters told from the husbands’ points of view didn’t make me warm to them, to be honest, and actually we knew then all the points of view, also those of the female characters, but there was no solution and no help, and the other people involved didn’t know what the others are thinking.

“Single All the Way” was a holiday romance, light and easy to read, about relationships, the stereotypes of failed marriages and misunderstandings and the author is for sure passionate about telling a story. The title and the cover may suggest that the book is a cosy, Christmas reading but well, for me it didn’t give off too many festive feelings. While there was so much potential in it, it didn’t deliver, and it lacked in emotional depth so needed to make it work and everything is done half – heartedly. So yes, I think I know that the author wanted to added tons of depth and meaning to the story, to make it not so fluffy but this bit more serious but, sadly, she didn’t succeed. However, please do not feel put out by my review, you may fell in love with the characters and the plot of this novel, so simply just give it a go.

A Million Dreams by Dani Atkins / Blog Tour + Extract

A Million Dreams by Dani Atkins

 

Publisher: Head of Zeus 46041732._sx318_

Publishing Date: 14th November 2019

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

Number of pages: 464

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 07.05.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Beth Brandon always dreamed of owning a florist, but today the bouquets of peonies and bright spring flowers are failing to calm her nerves. Because today, Beth has a life-changing decision to share with her husband.

Izzy Vaughan thought she and her husband would stay together forever, but sometime last year, their love began to fade. They both find such joy in their young son Noah – but is he enough to keep them together?

Eight years ago, something happened to these two women. Something that is about to bring them together in a way no-one thought possible…

Thought-provoking, emotional and uplifting, this is a gripping love story for fans of Jojo Moyes and Amanda Prowse.

Rating: four-stars

 

Beth Brandon has always loved flowers and together with her husband Tim worked hard to make her dream of having her own Florists shop come true. However, no matter how hard they try, the baby they also dream of so much, doesn’t appear, so eventually they decide to try fertility treatments. It doesn’t happen immediately, and they’re devastated, but then something happens that makes Beth’s world collapse. And it’s not only this that’s going to change her world forever because something else happens.
Izzy Vaughan and her husband Peter are incredibly happy when their baby is born after IVF. They love their son Noah more than anything in the world but their marriage starts to show the first cracks and misunderstandings and they separate. But one phone call is going to change everything for them.
Eight years ago, something happened – something that is going to bring Beth, Izzy and their families together, but not in a good way.

To be honest, I felt angry with Beth. I mean, I also sympathised with her, and felt sorry for her, but in my eyes she shouldn’t let the things go so far. I was more Team – Izzy, I couldn’t imagine being in her situation, trembling and fearing, not sure about the future. Don’t get me wrong, I fell for Beth as well, she was altogether full of empathy and she was always there for others, even though life didn’t treat her too well and she had already lost so much. But still, as a mother myself I was completely on Izzy’s side. Nevertheless, they both, as well as the other characters, were really well crafted, given personalities and no matter what your sympathies are, you’re going to feel the pain, desperation and hope of all of them.
The relationships in this book, no matter what kind, were beautifully written. The bonds between wives and husbands, parents and children, friends were captured with a lot of love and feeling. They felt so normal, they were full of ups and downs but there was always this feeling that the characters respect and support each other.

Of course I was incredibly intrigued how the things are going to end. Not so long ago I read a book with very similar topic though tackled in a rather different way, not so poignant and emotional like “A Million Dreams”, and the way things ended there waw a bit disappointing. As much as I think there is not a right way out of such situation, I really wanted to see which way did Dani Atkins choose and whose heart she’s going to break – because no matter what, no matter how, a heart or two are going to break. And… well… I wasn’t so sure about the court thing, and the way Beth was needed to help felt just this little bit too clichéd.

The writing style is very gentle, emotive and simply beautiful and it’s impossible not to find yourself emotionally invested in the book, impossible not to ask yourself questions “what if”. The author touches upon the most hidden feelings, bringing them to the pages of the novel, reaches to the deepest parts of the characters’ hearts. She can also so beautifully capture all sorts of emotions, making shock, horror and devastation a part of the reader as well. And even though the story is about very serious matters, it doesn’t feel too gloom or desperate, no, the writing makes it lighter and there is hope somewhere between the words, and enough humour contained within the pages. The pacing is perfect, everything has its place and even though there is quite a lot happening in the story, it never feels confusing, you always know where you are.

But maybe because of the fact that there isn’t a right way to decide about such situation, and because the author did take some easier ways out, this book, as much as I adored it, didn’t wow me as much as I thought it’s going to, and this is why I rate it with 4 stars instead of 5. Nevertheless, it held me captive and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I also truly recommend it to you all. It was sublime, moving and thought – provoking, a wonderful read that’s going to have you hooked immediately. Truly recommended!

 

EXTRACT:

‘The sooner we begin your treatment, the better the chances for a successful outcome.’

The words that reshaped our future –reshaped everything –were softly spoken. I looked across the desk, beyond the files and X-ray envelopes, at the doctor who was patiently waiting for our world to stop spinning as we absorbed the news.

I was gripping Tim’s hand so tightly I was probably crushing bone against cartilage, but my gaze was fixed on the oncologist, whose eyes revealed far more than I think he knew. Behind the rimless glasses, I saw the glimmer of a truth he was not prepared to share with us on that first black day. The chances of success were small. My ability to read faces, to pick up on tiny nuances others failed to see, had always been an asset in my work. On that day, it felt more like a curse.

‘I see from your file that you and your wife don’t have children, Mr Brandon.’

Tim shook his head, and I felt the tremors racking his body begin to spread to mine. I was shaking in both body and voice as I answered for him.

‘We’ve only been married for two years. We were planning on waiting a little longer before starting a family.’ I looked at the doctor, whose face was beginning to swim behind my tears.

‘I know this is a lot for you to take in, but without wishing to add to the decisions you are now facing, I have to urge you to think about safeguarding and preserving your fertility.’ Perhaps Tim understood instantly what the oncologist was talking about, but I was several pages behind him. ‘There is a strong possibility that your treatment will affect your ability to father a child in the future, so at this point we would recommend you to consider freezing your sperm.’

For one crazy moment I imagined he was talking about doing so at home, where it would sit on the shelf beside the packets of pork chops and Birds Eye peas. It took a few moments for the image to disappear.

‘There are several fertility clinics that we can refer you to. They will be able to explain the various options open to you. These can range from freezing sperm to even freezing embryos, if you should choose.’

‘Embryos?’ Tim asked, his voice ringing with confusion.

‘It’s one option to consider. There are excellent statistics for successful pregnancies resulting from cryogenically stored embryos. For couples your age and in your situation, it is definitely something worth thinking about.’

 

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On the Up by Alice O’Keeffe / Blog Tour

On the Up by Alice O’Keeffe

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 48269657._sy475_

Publishing Date: 14th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 11.06.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

By reading Style magazine, I was training myself not to want things. It was going quite well. I had already found that I did not want a pair of Yves Saint Laurent mules, a chandelier made from plastic antlers, or a diamond-encrusted necklace in the shape of a pineapple. I was still working on not wanting a fitted farmhouse kitchen in warm wood.

Sylvia lives in a flat on a council estate with her not-quite-husband Obe and their two young children. She dreams of buying a house on a leafy street like the one she grew up in. If she closes her eyes, she can see it all so clearly: the stripped floorboards, the wisteria growing around the door…

It’s not ideal that she’s about to be made redundant, or that Obe, a playworker, is never going to earn more than the minimum wage. As sleep deprivation sets in, and the RnB downstairs gets ever louder, Sylvia’s life starts to unravel.

But when the estate is earmarked for redevelopment, the threat to her community gives Sylvia a renewed sense of purpose. With a bit of help from her activist sister, and her film-maker friend Frankie, she’s ready to take a stand for what she believes in.

Warm, witty and brilliantly observed, On the Up is about relationships and community, finding a way through the tough times, and figuring out what’s really worth fighting for.

Rating:  five-stars

 

Sylvia and her nearly husband Obe live in a council estate flat with their two young children – toddler Larkin and a few months old That Baby (also known as Elliot). She dreams of owning her own home, with a garden for the children, but they will never be able to buy it. Or maybe they will? Is this stinky, old, half – demolished house their salvation? Sylvia is really desperate to move, especially as they’re constantly disturbed by their neighbour Dawn, with loud music and partying. Sylvia keeps a journal for the councils Anti Social Behaviour Officer, that slowly turns into her logbook. And then comes the bombshell that Priory Court, where they live, will be sold for development – can things finally get better for the family?

Really, this book was absolutely brilliant in my opinion. It was so uplifting – yes, you’ve seen the characters struggling and even though they might have lost hope once or twice there was still so much optimism in them and in the way they were written that I simply didn’t want to leave their world. I don’t always need a rosy fictional world in my books, I really like when the story feels so realistic like this one, but there is still the chance of a happy ending. Yes, here the end was maybe too cheesy but other than that I adored this book.

The characters were really well observed and drawn and I warmed to them immediately. Sylvia and Obe are your normal characters, people we get to meet and see everyday, full of humour but also filled with sadness, being forced to face all your typical troubles and problems that life tends to bring with itself. Yes, Obe made me feel desperate sometimes, with his poetry and his calm aura and the “everything will be OK” attitude, but there was also a charm in it. I’ve immediately felt a connection with Sylvia and I could truly relate to her dreams, needs and desperation, I’d go crazy with such a neighbour as Dawn with my perfect pitch – I need silence to be able to sleep! Even though, as Obe might have pointed out, Sylvia’s needs are an endless cycle of want, I couldn’t blame her for wanting something more from life, for wanting something better. Their relationship was really well captured, showing their real struggles, as parents and as a couple.
I also really liked the supporting characters, even though we don’t get to know them really well, and it was great to see them coming together after the news broke that Priory Court is going to be sold off for re – development and they’re going to lose their homes.

The author is a brilliant observer of reality – she sees things as they really are and delivers them with wit, humour but also brutally honest. She wrote a book that shows a real life, but not in a desperate, grey, sad way. Even though it might not have been heavy emphasised in writing, it showed that there is usually a way out of troubles, and it did it in an entertaining way. It was simply warm, inviting and full of feel – good factor despite the fact that the characters’ lives were not beds full of roses. After reading the synopsis and the part that the Priority Court may be sold and that it immediately rises the community spirit I was afraid that it may be overdone in the story, that it will feel too cheesy and clichéd but I really like how the author has tackled this topic.

“On the Up” was warm and funny, sometimes touching and poignant read focusing strongly on family, friendships, relationships and community. It felt a little nostalgic but maybe it is the writing style? It was truly brilliant, light and engaging, and it didn’t sound like a debut. It was a witty and deep observation on what is important in life that I enjoyed from beginning to end – highly recommended!

 

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It Won’t be Christmas without You by Beth Reekles

It Won’t be Christmas Without You by Beth Reekles

 

Publisher: One More Chapter 47315629._sy475_

Publishing Date: 30th August 2019

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

Number of pages: 203

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 31.10.2019)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

From the author of the smash hit Netflix romcom The Kissing Booth!

Eloise, a self-confessed Christmas obsessive, can’t wait for the big day. Devoted to her Michael Bublé playlist, she’s organising the school nativity play and even her gorgeous Grinch of a neighbour, James, can’t get her down.

Her workaholic twin sister, Cara, on the other hand, plans to work over the holiday – and figure out what secrets her seemingly-perfect boyfriend George might be keeping from her.

The sisters used to be close but since Cara moved to London, everything’s been different. Only, Eloise isn’t giving up just yet, and with a white Christmas on the cards, Cara can’t fail to be moved by the magic of the season … can she?

Rating:  two-half-stars

 

Cara and Eloise are twins, living in London and Doncaster. As their parents have decided to go on holiday for Christmas, it’s up to them to spend the day together, following all the traditions. But while Eloise, a primary school teacher, is obsessed with Christmas and can’t wait for her sister to come and spend time with her, Cara on the other hand is a workaholic who can hardly find time to meet with her boyfriend, let alone visit her family home for a one day only.

I got into this book full of expectations – let’s be honest, the synopsis is promising, right? However, it turned out, that this novel is an OK, average read. The two main characters were sisters and they couldn’t be different even if you asked for it – while Eloise was full of Christmas cheer, Cara was the absolute opposite of her, focusing hard on her work and not having time – or not wanting to find time and changing her mind in every second chapter – to spend this festive time with her sister, finding out many different excuses, one more unlikely to the other. Eloise could also be a bit annoying with her demands but I could understand her, she was waiting  for Christmas all year long and it’s not a wonder that she wanted to spend this time with her closest. Nevertheless, they both could be much better developed, they needed more depth to them, more to their personalities – they simply felt too one – dimensional and too flat and it was hard to connect with them.  The romance aspect in this story was also not too… romantic. It felt too chopped, like an after – thought, and it needed a bit more fun for my liking.

It’s a story that once read is quickly forgotten – it may sound harsh but it’s the true. Please don’t get me wrong, it was enjoyable enough but there was nothing new and the dynamics between sisters quickly became tiring. There was a lot of potential but it lacked in delivery, which is a shame, and I don’t know, despite being full of festive spirit it somehow also lacked in festive spirit, as everything felt so contrived and clichéd. However, if you are in a need of a light – hearted, easy, Christmassy read with a happily ever after, simply give this book a go.

 

The Secret Diary of Boris Johnson Aged 13 1/4 by Lucien Young

The Secret Diary of Boris Johnson Aged 13 1/4 by Lucien Young

 

Publisher: Quercus 48402307._sy475_

Publishing Date: 3rd October 2019

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

Number of pages: 176

Genre: Politics, Humour

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 28.05.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

**STRICTLY UNOFFICIAL**

‘Deliciously funny and highly impudent’ – Jon Culshaw
The newly discovered diary of Boris Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson, aged 13¼, provides a fascinating glimpse into how Boris, a lazy, bumptious and overweening child, comes to believe he should be Prime Minister. Along the way, we see him hone the techniques and persona that will one day hoodwink a nation.’

***

Extract from 13-year-old Boris’s TEN RULES FOR LIFE:

It’s not lying if you don’t bother to learn the truth. Many people – politicians, for instance – make the mistake of going about laden with facts and statistics. However, when studiously ignorant of the aforementioned, one may argue one’s case with total conviction.

A friend is just an enemy you haven’t yet made. Some say there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’. Well, I say you can’t spell ‘friend’ without ‘fiend’. No matter how dear your chum, you never know what sort of treachery they harbour inside. After all, there are many people who consider me a friend!

Rating:  four-stars

 

The book covers Boris Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson’s time at Eton College, probably already showing all of his true colours. He immediately found himself at home there, with all his privileges and not accepting “no” as an answer. As the class clown, his ability to make others laugh used to get him out of all kinds of troubles, and really, the trashing with the cane from one of the teacher who simply had too much is only an exception proving the rule.

The book brilliantly portrays Boris’s main personality traits and the way he honed them. Getting others to do as he wished must have been the easiest thing in the world for him, and I must admit, it may be a feature really worth an admiration. Other than that I couldn’t spot any changes between Boris here and then, arrogant, liar, showing an impudent lack of respect and bluffing his way all the way through. So nothing has changed really, no?

I loved the mentions of some other characters, such as the former Prime Minister David Cameron or Jacob Rees – Mogg, who used to attend Eton at the same time and whom our main character couldn’t tolerate, which led to some very amusing moments.

It was an undemanding, quick and entertaining read, rounded up with some illustrations that were equally funny. Maybe it was not the highest piece of art but it was for sure amusing and light read, whatever your political opinions. The title suggests that it’s going to be as brilliant as “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole”, apologies, but this comes to mind immediately, and while it was a light – hearted and hilarious read, we can’t compare those two books. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining novel related to current political situation that made me laugh.