The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper / Blog Tour

The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper

 

Publisher: Headline 45166792

Publishing Date: 9th January 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

From the author of The Songs of Us. Fans of Jojo Moyes and Lucy Dillon will love The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper.

Six-foot-two Irish man who answers to the name Samuel McLaughlin.
Has weak shins and enjoys show tunes.
If found, please return to Sophie Williams.

Before Sophie met Samuel she saw the world in grey.
Before Samuel met Sophie, he never believed in love at first sight.

When they first meet, something tells them they are meant to be.
But fate has other ideas.

Now they have lost each other and can’t see a way back.
But they’ve already changed each other’s lives in more ways
than they could have predicted…

Rating:  five-stars

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“The First Time I Saw You” introduces us to Sophie, at the first sight a career – driven young woman who knows what she wants. And to Samuel, an Irish living in America, working in IT. They both meet when Sophie is on business in Washington, in the middle of a thunderstorm, and they’re completely smitten with each other. They spent a wonderful week together and then the things get complicated.
Even though there is this wonderful sparkle between them, even though they can’t live without each other, they can’t be together. Or can they? Finding each other again is not easy…

I loved Emma Cooper’s debut novel but guys! I might have loved “The First Time I Saw You” even more! It is always with trepidation that I start reading the authors’ second book after their debut was so great, fearing that the new book won’t live up to my expectations, but it’s not the case with this novel. It blew my socks off, it left me in pieces and it left me feeling that there is always hope. So oh my word, please send help, because how to write a review that will do this book justice? Mission impossible, I’d say. Because this book was beautiful. It was everything. It has broken my heart, to mend it again, to break it again. It made me laugh out so loud and it made me sob – literally.

I can’t even start to explain how fantastic the characters were. I immediately fell in love with all of them, with Sophie and Samuel at the beginning and then with the rest, steadily being introduced to us.
Sophie was not, as we can think at the first sight, the raw and sharp businesswoman – she hides much, much more inside her, and the more I got to know her and her background, the more I found myself pinning for her. I don’t think that she has changed throughout the story – she was like this all the time, she only tried to hide this vulnerable side of herself from the world, she tried to forget about it herself, but the more life has been challenging her and her decisions, the more softer she looked for us. The events that have shaped her and made her close inside herself were truly riveting and heart – breaking.
Samuel was one and only, and his story was both tragic and uplifting but who stole the story completely were his parents, the fabulous Mrs and Mr McLaughlin – please let’s give them a standing ovation! Samuel’s father, with his kind heart and understanding and the best sense of humour in the world is every girl’s dream father – in – law, some of the things he said made me really cry with laughter, and some of the things he said and done made me simply cry, bringing lump to my throat. Actually, his whole family was the perfect, chaotic and absolutely accepting family you could wish for. It was moving to see how they tried to support Samuel, to encourage him to get on with life.
And please don’t forget Michael! Michael, that Samuel grows to rely on most of all. How can a thing make you smile so much, even in such dramatic circumstances!

The author has such a way with words! She writes about love at first sight and lost love but she also doesn’t forget to put all kinds of relationships into the heart of her story. We have a romantic affair, but we also have sibling love, parental love, friendship, relationships that are complicated but at the end of the day they are everything, they’re important and life is easier with people looking after each other.

Emma Cooper’s writing style is absolutely perfect. Yes, the book started in a rather slow way, and in the first few chapters the same events were repeated from the characters’ point of view, and I thought, oh – oh, what now? But then… But then it was like an avalanche, starting with a small snowball and gaining speed. I started to feel so invested in the story that I didn’t want to put it down for a single second. It had a huge impact on me, I lived and breathed together with the characters.

Emma has perfectly balanced the poignant, incredibly sad and heart – wrenching moments with laugh – out – loud, extremely funny moments, so really, don’t be surprised when you find yourself laughing through tears. Yes, altogether the story is actually not funny, it is full of misunderstanding, lost chances and opportunities, near – misses that I couldn’t believe seeing, thinking, oh no, how close have they been! It is deep, moving and complex, a real emotional rollercoaster but filled with a great and fantastic dose of – especially Irish – humour.

The magic of the writing is that the author took me on every trial together with the characters. I lived through them and I felt every single feeling – their disappointments, hope, setbacks and steps forwards. I was willing them and feeling for them, I care for them as if they were real people, and believe me, it doesn’t happen often, it’s a rare gift to be able to write the characters in such a way, to make them so alive.

It was a beautiful, heartfelt and emotional story, superbly written, vividly describing emotions and feelings in a way that I didn’t know you could describe. The characters were more than brilliantly developed and their stories were complex, multi – layered and coherent, not too sugary but also not too wishy – washy. It was a moving and inspiring tale, touching upon lost love, missed opportunities, relationships, friendships and unappreciated power of family, with sensitivity and lightness. It is full of kindness and the feeling that even when you think there is no hope, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel, you only have to believe it. 10 out of 5 stars and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

 

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The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen by Juliet Ashton / Blog Tour

The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen by Juliet Ashton

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 48997438._sy475_

Publishing Date: 26th December 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 480

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

This is a novel about community, love, laughter and healing. Think Cold Feet meets David Nicholls, with a dash of the joy of Jill Mansell added for good measure.

It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but Cherry Blossom Mews is a miraculous place. It’s somewhere that finds you, rather than the other way around.

Sadie McQueen has leased a double fronted space in this small cul de sac in a culturally diverse corner of central London. The cobbles muffle the noise of double-deckers roaring past the arched gates. Turn right and you are in a futuristic maze of corporate glass monoliths. Turn left and you see a wide street with many different houses. Towering above the mews are the degenerating tower blocks of an infamous estate. The old folks home and the nearby school are both in need of TLC; the private members’ club that set up shop in a listed Georgian building has been discreetly refurbished at huge expense.

Into this confusion comes Sadie. She fell in love with the street the moment she first twisted her ankle on its cobbles. Her double-fronted unit is now a spa. She has sunk all her money into the lease and refurbishment. She’s sunk all her hope into the carefully designed treatment rooms, the calm white reception space, the bijou flat carved out of the floor above.

Sadie has a mission to connect. To heal herself from tragedy. Sadie has wrapped the mews around her like a warm blanket, after unimaginable loss and unimaginable guilt. Her hard-won peace is threatened, not only by the prospect of the mews going under but by a man aptly named Hero who wakes up her comatose heart.
Sadie has a lot to give, and a lot to learn, not least that some ghosts aren’t ghosts at all.

Rating:  five-stars

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Sadie McQueen lives on Cherry Blossom Mews, in a community that – you quickly start to learn – is made up of people that are in troubles, have problems, tragic pasts, feel no hope, and even if they don’t realise this, the landlord of the mews has realised it and amassed all those lost souls together. The residents meet regularly at their association meetings where they are supposed to have an “agenda” but the meetings always end with gossip and exchanging news. They support each other incredibly, even if they do this without knowing this.
The little community means everything to Sadie. It is a place where she can heal her heart and start her life again after a tragic event in the past. She sets up Sakura, a spa, where she employs the incredibly honest and mouthy Fi and, even if she isn’t sure if it’s a good move, Cher, a sister to the local mafia – twins. And then U – Turn, a therapy centre for addicted moves to the mews, even with some opposition from the neighbours, and there is Hero, and Sadie has a chance to move with him, to come out of her shell, maybe even find love, but can she forgive herself for what has happened in the past?

It is really, really hard to write review for this book, I actually put it off for the last moment, a day or two before my stop on the blog tour, and the reason for this is very obvious – this book is so wonderful, this book is everything, this book is a gem of a read – what more can I say? I loved it from the beginning to the end, lived and breathed with the characters and yes, it left me in pieces but also feeling so positive.

Juliet Ashton can for sure write her characters, giving them incredibly huge personalities. The banter and interactions between them feel so real, raw and genuine. There is a whole eclectic bunch of them, all so different and with different personalities but all with strong, distinctive voices and you can’t help but immediately fell in love with all of them. Amber and her Yummy Mummy Cafe and Party Emporium, serving all things vegan and showing her perfect live on Instagram. Bob and Mrs. Bob with their cafe, Mary with the dogs, slowly learning about her family betrayal and regaining hope, running officially MOBuk charity shop and, unofficially, another charity that you’re going to learn about when you read the book, Hero with his broken marriage and privileged background, Cher and her notorious criminal twins, Michael with Qwerty bookshop, Fi, feisty, quirky and strong on the outside but so vulnerable inside. And there are some other characters, that I won’t mention but that are so important and significant to the plot – all of them were endearing, all of them broken, all of them needing each other and , deliberately or not, healing each other through their acceptance, friendship and compassion.
And Sadie, who is at the heart of this book, so brave and strong. The more I read, the more I loved this woman, my heart went to her. There were things in the past she’d rather forget, and honestly, if I were Sadie, I’m not sure I’d have enough strength and determination to get back up and try again. She, on the other hand, lost herself to find herself afresh, went where nobody knew her to build a new life for herself. I wished all the best for her, and seeing her coming across every new obstacle that life has been throwing her way, I wanted to give her a standing ovation. Learning about the horrors of her past and her losses helped to understand her wanting to be anonymous, not being able to open to new love, her terrible guilt but also it made me wish desperately that she’s going to find the highly deserved peace.

Each chapter starts with the invitation to the weekly Cherry Blossom Mews Residents Association meeting, and the more you read, the more you start to appreciate them, as they brilliantly capture the nature of the hosts. The meetings themselves are incredibly entertaining, fabulous parts of the book, where more gossip was shared than actual work done but there was so much heart in those meetings! And they actually tell the real stories of the characters, sharing their illnesses, betrayal, deaths, addictions and hopes, while dealt with empathy and understanding from the other residents, showing that also a community of generally strangers can be closer to you than your family. But of course, there are also things happening between the meetings, things that will make you smile, laugh, cry and start to believe that there is hope.

The book is full of poignant moments that are brilliantly written with humour added to them. It’s not too saccharine, not all sugar, and there isn’t always a happy end, and the balance between sad and funny, happy and heartbreak is absolutely perfectly measured. Sure, there were things that were too coincidental, and some that didn’t ring so true to me – though I don’t want to tell you what exactly it was, as I’m immediately going to spoil one of the biggest turns in the story – but really, everything happens for a reason, right, and it did work in this story perfectly well, as the plot was solid, thoughtful, well concocted and believable, even with the little hiccups.

“The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen” was a heart – breaking and heart – mending beautiful story about small community, about friendship, hope, love, loss and grief, filled with secrets, lies and misunderstandings, about finding support and friendship that is stronger than any other bonds. The author, as usual, touches upon many serious issues, she writes about alcoholism, abuse, addictions, social media but she writes with tons of understanding, without judging, giving us a wider spectrum. It’s a gorgeously written book and the characters were full of life, feelings and sentiments, being able to speak about emotions in a way I wasn’t even sure is possible. It shows life how it is, raw and brutal, full of surprises and twists that don’t always lead to happy ends. The book, the characters are going to stay with me for a long time, I will be recommending this book left and right – it’s a MUST read that deserves to be shouted about from the rooftops.

 

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The Choice by Claire Wade / Blog Tour

The Choice by Claire Wade

 

Publisher: Orion 41121395._sy475_

Publishing Date: 26th December 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

‘Eat the best, leave the rest! Remember Mother knows best.’

Olivia Pritchard lives in constant fear since Mother Mason came into power. Everything from healthy eating to exercise is controlled by the government, all in the name of health and happiness. Olivia hates being dictated to, but to protect her family she must follow the rules or face a stay in the Shame Box – a perspex box, placed in a public place for everyone to judge.

After Olivia witnesses an innocent woman being violently arrested, she is no longer able to ignore the injustice. The underground rebellion ‘Cut The Apron Strings’ is gaining momentum and for the first time in years Olivia has a choice: keep her head down or join the fray…

Rating: four-stars

 

“The Choice” introduces us to near – future England, led by Mother Mason elected as Prime Minister. Mother Mason, a woman obsessed by healthy living, determined to create a healthy and fit population, has banned all the non – healthy food. You won’t find sugar, chocolate, fat milk, cream, cakes or other fatty products, and baking is now perceived as crime. To make sure everybody obeys the new regulations, everything, the whole nation, are being constantly watched and monitored, and moreover, because of fear everybody is also watching and monitoring – the others. Food is being rationed, fitness club membership is an obligation and weight is recorded on every single occasion.
Olivia Pritchard is struggling with this new reality. She used to be a baker, baked wonderful cakes, so her career no longer exists and her own parents abnegated any knowledge of her and her family. She lives in fear of doing something wrong, something that would hazard her family as Mother Mason seems to know everything. But what choice do you have but to comply? Or maybe there is still a chance to get the old lives back?

“The Choice” is not my usual read but every now and again I more than gladly reach for something that is more out of my comfort zones, and when this book was pitched to me I immediately felt that I want to read it. It turned out to be a dystopian piece of a great work, a story that you immediately feel is going to blow you away, and it certainly did it to me. I found myself almost immediately invested in the characters’ lives, I lived and breathed with them, more than once I found myself wanting to bring Mother Mason down by myself – and it is always a sign of a great read.

I don’t think that the future described in the book is our future, however it nevertheless hits close to home, as the present governments try hard to control us in every possible ways. They’re maybe not as tyrannical and big – brotherly as the one described in the book (yet!) but I think that we slowly start to feel as if we’re monitored much too much. In “The Choice”, Mother Mason has been voted to run the government and she takes this to another level – the health – obsessed woman decides about everything by herself and UK turns to sugar – free, fat – free, diseases – free but also luck – and happiness free country. Everything is rationed, you can’t go shopping without being weighted and measured and without your ID card that stores every single info about you.
Olivia, as a main character, is very well crafted. She’ realistic in all the things she does and says, and she’s not only likeable but also more than often annoying. She used to be creative and loved her life previously, enjoyed her career as a baker, and now she simply can’t come to terms with the new regime, retreating into herself, becoming almost depressed, which is absolutely not a wonder! She’s flawed but also strong and determined, even though this determination of hers made me want to shake her once or twice and tell her to step back, please, as she was making to many silly mistakes.
The other characters are well written as well. There is a relatively huge group of them but you quickly know who is who and to whom they belong. They have their own personalities, more or less well developed, are strong individuals with their own opinions and distinctive voices and are full of secrets. The feeling of tension and of not being able to trust each other was there on the pages, visible and palpable, as neighbours and friends were becoming a threat, and it was brilliantly captured by the author.
I would love a little bit more background on Mother Mason. What has driven her? What has motivated her? Sure, she appears vindictive and I absolutely wanted her down – actually, I was as scared as the characters themselves, really. She was not there but she was also there, an invisible – but also visible – threat. It was a brilliant idea and great use of a character but I’d really love to know what has made her tick this way.

The writing style is addictive, chatty and it quickly draws you in, and the book is written in such a way that after putting it down you really need to look around and check if your chocolate is where it should be. The language used is direct and even though it is vivid and reach, it doesn’t use descriptions as a tool to fill the pages, which was great, as it only added even more sense of fear and distrust. The narration is very descriptive, vividly describing the fictional world that is truly brilliantly created – everything is considered and airtight, starting with the small town of Bunham, its residents, through the markets, Shame – Boxes, the re – education centres and prisons. Yes, there were moments that simply seemed too unrealistic, even for a dystopian novel, things that happened too casually and conveniently that bothered me a bit, but altogether I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would devour it in one sitting if it wasn’t for life getting in the way.

Altogether, “The Choice” was an excellent debut novel, not too overdone, ambitious and unique, much better than some of the debut novels in the same genre so highly advertised last year – well, I personally think this book doesn’t need to be pushy advertised because it’s great and it will simply fly from the shelves.
It was a compulsive, addictive and disturbing read, thought – provoking and realistic, exploring morality, freedom of choice, showing that we always have the Choice, no matter what – we only need to find the courage. It is insightful and controversial and the author explores so many possible scenarios, giving us a great view of “what if”. It shows the strength and importance of family and friends and asks how much the society is able to withstand and where are the limits of oppression, how far is too far. And it is probably more realistic than we may initially think! Hugely recommended!

 

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Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton / Blog Tour

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

 

Publisher: Viking 43812076

Publishing Date: 9th January 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Suspense

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The extraordinary new novel everyone is talking about from the Sunday Times best-selling author of Sister

Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.

It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.

It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.

It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.

Rating:  four-stars

 

Somerset in November. It’s snowing. A rural school – a school that prides itself on being tolerant and accepting, and really being like this – surrounded by woods, and cliffs on the other side, school with theatre and pottery building, with happy children and great teachers, is under siege. There is a masked gunman on the premise who has shoot the Headmaster Matthew Marr. Some of the students dragged him into the library where they’ve barricaded themselves. Others are in their classrooms. Others in the theatre. Others in the pottery room. Police and emergency services are struggling in the snowstorm. Panicked parents arrive as the school finds itself in the lockdown. Who is responsible for the shooting? Who keeps the terrified children and staff hostages?

We are immediately dropped in the middle of action and filled with terror at the events developing in front of our eyes, and the book continues like that. There are very few flat moments, and the pace is quick and full of tension. The author for sure is not shy of raising issues that we should be aware of, that are happening for real, tackling them with gentleness and fairness.

The characters in this book were incredible, so different to what I usually read. There were many of them, so it was impossible to give the background of all of them but I still had a feeling I know them completely, the author has given us enough info, and I loved how courageous they were, both the teachers and the students. Rafi, the refugee from Aleppo, is the one who has recognised an explosion in the woods and informed the Head, ready to sacrifice everything to save his little brother Basi and his girlfriend Hannah. While Hannah is in the library, doing her best to care for the Headmaster, Basi is gone – he’s not with the younger children being evacuated from the beach. The teachers – Jacintha, who’s reading poetry with her class, Daphne – dress – rehearsing “Mackbeth”, and the one looking after the youngest children in the pottery class that is, in fact, the most vulnerable place to be right now, with a gunman pointing his gun at the children, try to preserve a degree of normalcy and my heart went to them on every single occasion, totally in awe of their bravery and them being so selfless.
It’s my first book by Rosamund Lupton and I am absolutely thrilled how well she has portrayed the characters, giving them personalities, making them human, filling them with real and genuine feelings and emotions in times that are so testing for everybody. The stories of the main characters are complex and told with fascination.

So, and now I’m not so sure if it’s really good, or maybe not, but often, quite often, I wanted to skip some of the passages simply to see what’s going to happen next. I have to admit, I skim – read the parts describing the experiences of Rafi and Basi – I know they were there to add more dramatic tension, to give the story depth, but I personally could easily live without those parts.

“Three Hours” is an addictive book, heard to put down, with a tension growing and the overwhelming feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen. The fact that the timeline for this story is so short makes it even more chilling, you can’t help but count the minutes for yourself, hoping that the police knows what to do. Because of this fact, it was really fast paced and really, guys, I hold my breath more than once and sometimes I was afraid to turn the page – you won’t be able not to feel involved in everything that’s happening. It explores all the possible feelings and emotions, is full of claustrophobic feeling, is raw and genuine and powerfully described – a tale of courage, showing how selfless and brave people can be in moments of fear and angst. Highly recommended!

 

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Gone by Leona Deakin / Blog Tour

Gone by Leona Deakin

 

Publisher: Black Swan 46801795._sy475_

Publishing Date: 12th December 2019

Series: Dr. Bloom #1

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

Number of pages: 372

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:

YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.
DARE TO PLAY?

The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.

And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.

As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.

But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear?

Rating: four-stars

 

People go missing – all on their birthdays after receiving intriguing birthday cards daring them to play. Psychologist Augusta Bloom and her colleague Marcus Jameson (ex Secret Service) get involve in the case, as at least one person missing is known to them – a family friend’s mother has vanished, following the pattern with the card. The more they investigate, the more complex the case becomes and as they start to dig really deep not only is the case starting to be dangerous to them personally, but they learn much more about the people missing and the results of their investigations are shocking. People that disappeared seem to have left out of their own will, leaving behind families and friends – who does it? Why?

One is sure – I have never (really, never) done a test on Facebook or somewhere else in the internet, how clever am I without knowing that I’m clever, no? I have no idea how it really works, and if it is like in this novel, that when you do such tests other people may benefit from it – but if it really is like this then I am truly in shock. I must be born in the wrong times then.

I wouldn’t say that the book is a slow – burner, however the beginning is somehow difficult and a little confusing, and I wasn’t sure what to feel. But no worries there, guys. Even if I wouldn’t determine the pace of this book as quick, there are many twists and turns and questions that you desperately want to know answers to, so there is really not a moment that feels flat. Yes, some things feel too far – fetched and yes, I rolled my eyes once or twice but nevertheless it is a tense and captivating novel. Despite the confusing start, I was quickly drawn into the story, it has really grown under my skin, with the interesting plot and thought – provoking relevant ideas about how we use social media.
There are also many characters and almost each time I had to consider who it is, to whom they belong and what’s their problem, and it was a bit confusing as well, as till the end, except for the few main characters, I had problems with them and each time the point of view changes, it took me a moment or two to recognize the person.

The main characters felt a bit too one – dimensional for my liking, however they were interesting enough, their background was also very entertaining. Augusta and Marcus worked together brilliantly and they complemented each other, the banter and dynamics between them was natural and genuine. What’s more, they might have been main characters, but also a huge part of focus was directed on the missing people and their stories, and it added tons of meaning to the story – I desperately wanted to know who those people are and why they went missing and what their problem is. I racked my brains at what it is that actually happened with the missing characters but I loved the way Augusta and Marcus were leading us to the end, to the final revelations. I had a feeling that we’re exactly at the same level with them, that we know the same things, we’re not a step behind or ahead of them and I think I guessed who, why and what at the same moment as Augusta. Looking back, there were enough hints and I probably should have guessed a bit earlier, but it only shows that a) my detective skills don’t exist and b) the author writes in a clever, misdirecting way, which is a huge bonus point.

The writing style is chatty and engaging, down to earth and easy to follow and the plot was so imaginative, different and fascinating, and it was really refreshing to read this book, even if it was full of psychology – however, I am personally fascinated with psychology, and secondly, the author is an expert in this area and explains the medical language in an approaching and comprehensible way. Hats off to the author for being able to explain the psychological jargon in such a fascinating way that never feels dry nor patronizing.
“Gone” was a scary, thought – provoking and thrilling rollercoaster ride full of intrigue and suspense and some of the best parts were the psychological insights of the game and the way the author has got into her characters’ heads. It also touched upon social media and reading this book will make you think twice the next time you’ll want to fill something on Facebook. Truly recommended!

 

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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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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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