The Sunday Lunch Club by Juliet Ashton

The Sunday Lunch Club by Juliet Ashton

 

35888778Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 19th April 2018

Source:  Received from publisher  in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The first rule of Sunday Lunch Club is … don’t make any afternoon plans.

Every few Sundays, Anna and her extended family and friends get together for lunch. They talk, they laugh, they bicker, they eat too much. Sometimes the important stuff is left unsaid, other times it’s said in the wrong way.

Sitting between her ex-husband and her new lover, Anna is coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy at the age of forty. Also at the table are her ageing grandmother, her promiscuous sister, her flamboyantly gay brother and a memory too terrible to contemplate.

Until, that is, a letter arrives from the person Anna scarred all those years ago. Can Anna reconcile her painful past with her uncertain future?

Juliet Ashton weaves a story of love, friendship and community that will move you to laughter and to tears. Think Cold Feet meets David Nicholls, with a dash of the joy of Jill Mansell added for good measure.

Rating: five-stars

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I don’t have a huge, extended family and usually I don’t have problem with it, however after reading such books as “The Sunday Lunch Club” I’d give everything to have such a family like the Pipers – so many people that accept you no matter what unconditionally. The problem with books such as “The Sunday Lunch Club” is that no matter what you’re going to write in your review it probably won’t do this book a justice. Because it was a perfect read, from the beginning to the end and really, I still can’t settle for another read after finishing this one. I know people often say that didn’t want a book to end, and I thought I also read such books, but I think this was the very first one that I can for sure say that now I know how it is when you don’t want a book to end. It was this kind of read where I absorbed every single word, I cried and laughed together with the characters.

“The Sunday Lunch Club” by Juliet Ashton is a relatively slow read and with plenty of characters, and I was afraid that it’s going to be confusing, but quickly, very quickly I knew who is who in this book, and even quicker I started to love all of them. The Pipers are two sisters and two brothers with their own, very colourful families and histories, friends and grandmother Dinkie, still full of life, feisty and down to earth. And jeez, let’s not forget Yeti – what a brilliant, entertaining creature, and the descriptions of him looking after the baby made me cry so, so much! But back to the siblings and co. They meet regularly for Sunday Lunch (Club), every time in a different home, and with every single lunch we learn more and more about them, we see what makes them tick, what they love, what they hate and what their problems are – and there is a lot of those things! The story is mostly told from Anna’s point of view, Anna – who was so realistically drawn that I had a feeling I can feel her breathing next to me. She discovers that she’s pregnant at the age of 40, and the baby is not her ex – husband’s. Being pregnant brings back some memories and this part of the story was so unpredictable and heart – breaking, guys. Anna, the second oldest after Neil, feels responsible for all of her siblings and you couldn’t be in better hands than in those of Anna’s. Neil is right now trying to adapt to being a father, the second sister Maeve has visions and thinks she’s psychic, but she’s really, really brilliant, no worries guys, and she doesn’t seem to have much luck in the men – department, and the youngest Josh is troubled and very distant – why? They all have their problems and troubles and when you think they’re going to be very average problems than you’re in for a great, great surprise, because their stories are all but average and predictable. The characters have their own distinctive voices and they are so close to life and I felt so strongly for all of them. They were lovely and loving, eclectic, chaotic, they had their ups and downs and – what’s most important – they talked with each other and they weren’t afraid of telling what they feel. It made them more vulnerable and open to being hurt but it also made them so real.

It was written in a really interesting way. We got to see the characters every now and then, when it was time for their gathering at the Sunday Lunch Club. Sometimes there was a week between them, sometimes a month, and really we don’t know what exactly happens with, and to, them. However, during those gatherings we get enough insight and gossip to know perfectly well what has happened and why. It’s funny really how well it works, as we are used to usually have a sneak peek into every aspect of the characters’ lives, to know their every move and thought, and here we had to settle for some most important moments, and it’s enough to absolutely fell for the characters, to intuitively know what they feel and think, to feel a part of their world, to keep our fingers crossed for them or to want to shake them badly. And that doesn’t of course mean that their feelings or emotions weren’t captured – they were brilliantly put into words!

I absolutely, totally adored the way the family was working. They were bickering, they were arguing, they felt offended but oh my word, let somebody who didn’t belong to the family to tell one wrong word about them! They got their backs, they supported each other, and not only the closest family but also the ex – husbands, new girlfriends and every single crazy idea that came to their minds.

Even though it is on the slower side, the pace is only right and there are some twists that you’d never see coming – take my word for this! It is romantic enough, there is enough drama and plenty of funny moments, and there is this feeling of being accepted no matter what. There are secrets that will break your heart but the family will mend it again. The writing is perfect. The dialogues are effortless and the story is just flawing, and the family dynamics are brilliantly captured. Their interactions and banter were so relatable and there were moments that I could only nod my head with understanding.

“The Sunday Lunch Club” was a beautifully written and full of all kind of emotions and feelings novel about a brilliantly dysfunctional – yet brilliantly working – family. It was heart-warming, uplifting and poignant at the same time. In no time you’re going to feel a part of the Piper family and you want to add your own opinion or two during one of the lunches. It was emotional, and it was funny and I didn’t want to put this book down for a single second. Shortly – it was a bloody perfect read, as I knew it’s going to be. If there is one thing you can be sure it’s that Juliet Ashton is going to deliver a wonderful, emotional, clever and hilarious story. Highly, highly recommended!

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The Year that Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly /#BlogTour

The Year that Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly

 

34320089Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 22nd February 2018

Source:  Received from publisher  in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 406

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Three women celebrate their birthdays . . . 30. 40. 50. But their milestone birthdays marks the start of a year that will change everything . . .

Ginger isn’t spending her 30th the way she would have planned. Tonight might be the first night of the rest of her life – or a total disaster.

Sam is finally pregnant after years of trying. When her waters break on the morning of her 40th birthday, she panics: forget labour, how is she going to be a mother?

Callie is celebrating her 50th at a big party in her Dublin home. Then a knock at the door mid-party turns her perfect life upside down . . .

Full of warmth and wisdom, this is a story about finding happiness on your own terms from international bestseller Cathy Kelly.

Rating: four-stars

Right at the beginning, let me confess something. I’ll be honest with you, I was a little afraid to read this book. The last few novels by Cathy Kelly were, let’s just say, not up to my expectations and I really wanted to love “The Year that Changed Everything”. As you will see, I didn’t have to worry – it was not a quite perfect read, but it was a lovely, hooking and realistic story that I truly enjoyed. This book was almost like the old Cathy Kelly’s novels that I was devouring.

Cathy Kelly introduces us to three main characters, Sam, Callie and Ginger. They all have birthday on the same day but that’s all – they don’t know each other, they live in different places and they lead totally different lives. On the surface they’re happy and everything looks great but on their birthday their lives are going to dramatically change. Sam always wanted a baby and she and her husband have tried for so long, without success. When she finally gets pregnant she’s full of joy but also fear if everything will go smoothly. When her baby arrives on Sam’s 40th birthday, she starts to panic if she’s going to be a good mum – as her own mother was not a great role – model, leaving Sam and her sister at home and focusing on her job.
Callie is turning 50 and hundreds of people are enjoying her birthday party. She’s an ex – model with a handsome and successful man and a teenage daughter in puberty. On the day of the party the police turns up at her house and her life won’t be the same anymore.
Ginger is turning 30 and on the day of her birthday she finds herself as a chief – bridesmaid on her best friend’s Liza’s wedding. During the reception, Ginger overhears conversation that is going to change her life as well – some cruel words that nobody should never say about her.

It was really interesting to follow the three women’s lives. I think that Sam’s was the weakest subplot in this novel, her story has just seemed too flat in comparison, too under – developed, and while it is important to speak loud about such things, it just didn’t work for me in this form. I am a mother myself, I know how it is to have a post – natal depression, so maybe I should have fell for Sam more, but I really can’t put my finger why her storyline was the weakest for me. Meanwhile the other two were much more thrilling and interesting, especially Ginger’s. She was your normal girl, lovely and friendly and well, I think I could mostly relate to her and her battle with the weight and comfort eating. While usually you want to shake characters such like Ginger and tell them to get a grip, Ginger herself realized that she need to get a grip but it was not as easy as it sounds, so I just couldn’t help and fell for her. I felt sorry for her and also enraged on her behalf on few occasions, and kept my fingers crossed for her. I loved the metamorphosis and the way she was gaining confidence. It’s a pity that mostly people only see what’s on the surface and don’t look deeper because they would see what a wonderful, warm and honest person she was. I totally hoped for a very happy end for this girl! Callie was weak and she was totally under the influence of her husband Jason. He was controlling and manipulative person and it was very easy to dislike him. It took Callie some time to believe in herself again but I really enjoyed to see this journey of hers, and it was truly a very difficult journey, as she was left with nothing and she also couldn’t be sure if, after the terrible row, she has a family she can turn to.
One of the great points in the book were the background characters as a group, especially the families of our main characters. I loved to see how supporting they were and how understanding and love and friendship was so easy to spot on the pages. The characters themselves, they were a little too one – dimensional but on the whole they did work.

It took a lot of time for the stories to intertwine, and I am a little obsessed with this, I just don’t see a point in writing a story about characters that don’t know each other and have nothing in common. So it is actually not till the end that the paths of our main characters cross but they finally do and that’s what counts! My day was saved, guys. I also think that the way those three women’s stories were brought together was seamless and worked really well, even though it happened too suddenly and felt too rushed and unrealistic and I couldn’t believe that the bond between the three women formed so quickly, just like this, and that the for ever friendship accrue . But it was great to see the three going from strength to strength after initial problems and finding their peace. although I, of course, would love to see their stories interweaving a little bit earlier. But that’s me. And my obsession.

Altogether, “The Year that Changed Everything” was a really well written story. Yes, some of the chapters were totally hooking and some of them less and dragged on a little, but overall I was engrossed in the three stories. All three women were growing in confidence in this story, some of them slower, some of them quicker, and it was so uplifting to see. It was a warm, uplifting story with some poignant moments, celebrating friendship and solidarity. It’s about biting the bullet and coping with the things that life is throwing at you and not giving up. Recommended!

 

Blog tour- The Year That Changed Everything

The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness by Laura Kemp

The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness by Laura Kemp

 

37034088Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 22nd February 2018

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

When Ceri Price arrives in the small seaside village in West Wales, she only means to stay for a couple of nights – long enough to scatter her mother’s ashes, and then go back to her life as a successful make-up entrepreneur.

But when a case of mistaken identities means she lands a job as the barmaid in the local pub, she unexpectedly finds friendship, and perhaps a chance at love.

But when the plans for a new housing estate put the local woodland under threat, she fears the way of life here could disappear.

Then mysterious acts of kindness start springing up around the village – a string of bunting adorns the streets, a new village signpost appears out of nowhere and someone provides paint to spruce up the houses on the seafront. Who is behind these acts of kindness and can they help in the race to save the village from the faceless developers…?

Welcome to the Village of Love. Where friendship flourishes and love blossoms…

Rating: five-stars

Really. This book. “The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness”. I have fallen utterly and completely in love with this story and I think this is Laura Kemp’s best novel yet. I couldn’t, and didn’t want to, put it down. The writing style, and also the plot, reminded me so much of Jenny Colgan’s novels but it was of course absolutely different and had it’s own style and content. It was full of this so difficult to grasp charm and loveliness, it was funny and poignant at the same time, heart – warming and romantic. Uplifting and optimistic.

In this brilliant story that felt like a ray of sunshine we meet Ceri Price, who right now is trying to come to terms with her beloved mum’s death and the fact that her sister is packing all her things without asking Ceri if there is something she’d like to keep for herself. Ceri drives to a little town of Dwynwen to spread her mother’s ashes there and, due to misunderstanding, this young and successful businesswoman bags a barmaid job in the local pub. But there is much more that she’s going to find there – friends and friendships, and she also finds herself falling in love with the place… and not only. So when plans for a new housing estate are made (built on the beautiful piece of woodland!) Ceri knows that she must join the villagers and fight for this what she’s already holding dear.

There are relatively many characters in this story but guys, believe me, they all have their own place and the book wouldn’t be the same without them. They’re so different to each other and they complete each other brilliantly. There is this eco – warrior Rhodri, a little socially awkward but with a great passion for recycling, who so much wants to keep the natural beauty of the village but also make it welcoming place for the tourists, he was just so, so brilliant, or the nine – year – old genius Henry, the married couple who owned the pub, Mel who has grown so much on me, and actually all of them! I only had some great problems with Ceri’s sister, as I couldn’t understand her approach and the coldness towards her sister, and it bothered me so much, for a very, very long time. I was somehow disappointed with her and had a feeling she’s just jealous of her sister’s success and want to punish her somehow with her actions after their mother’s death. Thank you Laura Kemp for letting me understand her better later on, when she visited Ceri – no need to say that I warmed to her then very, very much.
I loved how Ceri was finding so great friendships in this place, and doing so well, and counting her blessing, with the help of Dwynwen’s villagers. My word, those people were gorgeous, and I loved all of them! I also loved Ceri, she was so normal even though she was such a successful businesswoman. I loved her determination, sense of humour, because she has a heart made of gold and she was, you know, this kind of character that didn’t feel the need to lead on problems or troubles, she just wanted to live her life happily, to find her place and maybe love, even though she wasn’t looking for it. There was this brilliant community spirit on the villagers and oh my, how they welcomed Ceri without one question, they appreciated her and they stand behind her, and each other, even if you were new to the village! Ceri has some secrets, and she feels guilty for keeping them from her new friends, especially as she feels so welcome and so well.

The village of Dwynwen, a seaside village in West Wales, was a brilliant, brilliant setting! I’m not sure if I’d man up to go and live there, to be honest, but nevertheless I adored this place, especially when it started to revive after the unexpected acts of kindness happening. It looked so run down, and so lonely, and so sad and horrible at the beginning but the people living there made up for it, and then is started to change, and it was just lovely.

I loved the errors and jumping to conclusions in this story, they were absolutely brilliant and made me laugh so much! The dialogues were brilliant, so straightforward and so honest, probably thanks to the characters who lived their lives so genuine, not spending their time on social medias but actually talking to each other.

This is a story about secrets, love, forgiveness, friendship and, of course, kindness. It is filled with so many feelings and emotions, and all of them so gorgeously and beautifully put into words, you truly discovers new shades of love, betrayal and hope and community. It’s full of warmth and humour and also sadness and this all beautifully blended together, and you immediately feel like a part of this story. Sometimes a small act of kindness is really this all. It focused on the real meaning of life, showing what’s really important and I loved it woth all my heart. Highly, highly recommended!

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

 

35437993Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: 8th February 2018

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected “until death do us part” to mean seven decades.

In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.

Rating: three-stars

With a Sophie Kinsella book you can be certain that you’re going to spent some relaxing hours, full of fun and laughter. And guys, let’s be honest, a new Kinsella’s book means bouncing off the walls with excitement, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like that.

In “Surprise Me” we meet Sylvie and Dan, a happily married couple with twins. They are a match made in heaven, they complete each other perfectly and they even finish each other’s sentences, so great is their marriage. During one of the obligatory health check’s they’re told they’re going to live for a very long time and spent at least the next 68 years together. It freaks them out a little, and so they decide that they’re going to surprise each other from now on, so that their marriage doesn’t go stale and they won’t be boring to each other. However, surprises can go two ways, right – either well or totally wrong, and mostly their surprises went the other way. And well, it also often happens that when you want to surprise your other half, you discover some secrets about them…

I had some problems to engage with the characters – I didn’t warm to them immediately, just like with the other Sophie Kinsella’s characters. I, in fact, didn’t warm to them completely till the very end. Sylvie was for me too spoiled, too self – obsessed and somehow too self – delusional. She just didn’t sound too authentic, and while I know that Kinsella’s characters DO have this element of being too freaky it just didn’t work for Sylvie, a 32 – year – old and mother of two 5 – years – old twins. And Sylvie was just annoying. And the fact that she called her parents “Mummy” and “Daddy” all the time was for me even more annoying. And the fact that she didn’t take Dan’s feeling into consideration and never stopped her “Daddy this” and “Daddy that” was annoying. However, what’s really, really good is the fact that Sylvie grew incredibly throughout the story and started to see things how they really were.
Dan… well, Dan. I had a feeling that he’s mostly absent and I was never really able to connect to him. The twins are mentioned but they’re also not a great part of the story.

Another thing that bothered me so much is the plot itself. The idea of this book was great, so smart and so unique and I couldn’t wait to see how it’s going to unveil and develop. The synopsis promises us a great fun and a long marriage full of surprises, however it funnelled in a totally different direction and it had almost nothing to do with the premise, with the surprises that I was already so thrilled about. It focused mostly on Sylvie’s deceased father and her almost obsession with him, her comparing her husband Dan with her father almost all the time and well, it confused me.
Then I’m not sure I completely understand while Sylvie and Dan panicked at the news that they’re going to spend approximately the next 68 years together, in good health. I personally would weep for joy, however our two characters start to panic at the thought of growing old together. Of having sex with each other. Of living together. Of spending time together. Hello? Why? Instead of happily awaiting what the future bring they turn onto insecure, neurotic, cagey people.

I wouldn’t be fair if I said there weren’t any surprises at all on the way. There were. But they were neither unique nor … surprising.
The final twist about Sylvie’s father… well, it made me roll my eyes, to be honest. I expected more from author this calibre.

So to be totally honest, it was not Sophie Kinsella’s best offer – but of course you’re going to find those elements of Kinsella that you’re used to. There are many hilarious moments but, as usual, there is a depth in this novel as well, and the author so easily and effortlessly switches from light to serious and the other way round. It is full of this Sophie Kinsella’s hallmark charm and humour and fun that captivates me always when reading her books.
Don’t get me wrong, guys. It was not a bad book. But from Sophie Kinsella I was expecting much, much more and I know she can write brilliant books with engaging, quirky characters.
It was the execution that failed here. But I am already looking forward to the author’s next offer.

This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell

This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell

 

34209819Publisher: Headline Review

Publishing Date: 25th January 2018

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Love, friendship and some delightful surprises will keep you turning the pages of this new romance from Jill Mansell, the bestselling author of MEET ME AT BEACHCOMBER BAY and YOU AND ME, ALWAYS. Not to be missed by fans of Katie Fforde, Lucy Diamond and Sophie Kinsella. Fall in love with Jill’s books: ‘A glorious, heartwarming, romantic read’ Woman & Home

Essie has all she ever wanted – a perfect boyfriend, a beautiful cottage outside Bath, a great job and the kind of good, close friends all of us should have. Then Lucas Brook walks into her life and overnight everything changes for the very-much-worse. What Lucas does is unforgivable, and Essie definitely has no plans to see him again. But when their paths cross once more, she can’t help noticing how very attractive he is. What a shame he’s such a troublemaker.

Sometimes things aren’t quite what they seem, as Essie will soon find out…

Rating: five-stars

A proud owner of all Jill Mansell’s books speaking here (I must take a photo of them all standing on my bookshelf, totally) – no need to mention that I of course have read them all, and loved all of them, without exception. Every new release from this author is impatiently awaited by yours truly. The beautiful orange cover of this brand new offer from Ms Mansell catches your eye immediately – I can’t recall a book cover in such lovely, warm colours as this of “This Could Change Everything”. And what is between this beautiful cover is just Jill Mansell at her best – she presents us with a lovely, heart – warming story with a great heroine, some difficult situations and a fairy – godmother.

There is a great mix of colourful characters in this story. Essie very quickly, right at the beginning, gets herself in troubles by writing a round robin email that was supposed to land only in her best friend Scarlett’s inbox but somehow is sent to all her contacts. Round robin, where Essie writes what she thinks about her boyfriend and her prospective mother – in – law as well, so you can imagine the consequences, right. Who has sent it and why?
What I so adore in Jill Mansell’s book, so also in this one, is the fact that the characters come into each other lives by chance and usually stay friends, creating an incredible group of colourful, real characters. I was totally engrossed in all their ups and downs, problems, troubles and complications. They are all so well drawn, together with their fortes and flaws as well, and I loved their sense of humour and determination.

The darker and heavier issues are handled with gentleness and subtlety and light touch. I totally adored the idea of Zillah being the wonderful fairy godmother, making wishes come true for the residents of the hospice.
Sure, the things happened oh so very conveniently for our characters but oh my, so what? It didn’t bother me at all. And that the characters mostly were more lucky than clever? Let them!

Altogether, it was – as expected and awaited by me – a light and enjoyable read with some twists and turns and surprises on the way, and ha! Let it surprise you when it comes to the romances – let me just tell you that not everybody ends with people you think they’re going to end. There is everything in the book – plenty of the highest level humour, but of course mixed with some poignant moments and difficult situations, a budding romance or two that are not so straightforward, broken hearts, tons of friendship and warm feelings. It was like a sunbeam on a grey, dull day and it cheered me up ceaselessly. “This Could Change Everything” was a funny, moving, heart – warming, uplifting read, and I totally loved it – highly recommended!

The Intruder by P.S. Hogan

The Intruder by P.S. Hogan

 

37671542Publisher: Transworld Digital

Publishing Date: 1st February 2018

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 281

Genre: Psychological Suspense

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 31.05.2018)

 

 

Synopsis:

He has the key to hundreds of houses.
Maybe even to yours.

William Heming is an estate agent. He’s kept a copy of every key to every house he’s ever sold. Sometimes he visits them. He lets himself in – quietly, carefully – to see who lives there now, what they’re like, what they’ve been doing.

But what will happen when he gets caught?

 
Rating: four-stars

The main character in “The Intruder”, William Heming, is an estate agent – so far so good, right? However, he secretly copies keys of each of the houses he has sold. Why, I hear you ask. Well, I was asking this question as well. It seems that he just likes visiting those houses, to see how their owners live, to make himself a coffee or sleep on their sofa. He also sometimes serves justice when he sees that it is necessary – in his opinion. Creepy, don’t you think? However, he generally wasn’t dangerous or frightening, he was your normal citizen, a businessman, with an unusual hobby that – of course – nobody knows about. Through the pages, his obsession seems to grow bigger and bigger, and thanks to some retrospections we get to know about his childhood, what has happened and what has driven him – though, I must be totally honest with you, I personally haven’t seen the connection between this creepiness and his childhood. But that’s me.

What’s funny, at the beginning you find yourself liking William, you’re being lulled in the false sense of fondness, but when the story continues the more I got to know him, the more I disliked him. He was, however, brilliantly pictured by the author and believe me, you wouldn’t like to have William as your enemy. On the surface he was a normal guy, kind, polite and hard – working but it was actually this what was inside him that made him tick. The whole story is being told from his perspective. I was starting to think that he’s psychopathic, and what consolidated me in my opinion was the fact that he wasn’t able to feel remorse, his head was always full of explanations and justifications.
It was a very annoying book – annoying, because I felt such dislike to the main character and still I wanted to read further and further, it somehow drew me in, it grew on me the more I read. There is something compelling in his character, and as the story is told only from his point of view you feel as if you sit in his head and knows his deepest thoughts and secrets – and it’s not a great place to be, guys. You really are not sure what he’d be able to do next and probably this is why his story is so hooking. There is something fascinating in his character.

It was a very slow read, and the storyline takes its time to develop, and actually the biggest twists and turns take place in the last quarter of it. But nevertheless, there is something in the writing, in the plot that draws you in and you just want to see where the story is going.
Altogether, “The Intruder” was a claustrophobic, addictive read, thought – provoking and incendiary, and am I happy that I didn’t have to buy my house. It was captivating and full of food for thought, with unique storyline and unforgettable main character. The story was not over – done, the writing was really great and I can whole – heartedly recommend this book to you.

The Girl Before by JP Delaney / #BlogTour + Guest Post

Hi guys, and happy Saturday. I was supposed to post my entry yesterday and I am so, so sorry for not doing it but I’ve spent unexpected three hours at the doctor with my daughter and I wasn’t able to think about anything other. APOLOGIES! It doesn’t usually happen and I feel really, really bad.

“The Girl Before” by JP Delaney was published in hardcover last year and this year sees the publication of the paperback. I read this book last year and let me tell you this, guys, it was one of the best books – absolutely unique, intriguing and captivating. Today I also have something very special for you – have you ever wondered how the application form to test your suitability look like? Ha, I thought so – me too! Scroll down for the guest post!

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

 

 

untitledPublisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 25th January 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection . . . but can you pay the price?

For all fans of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl comes this spellbinding Hitchcockian thriller which takes psychological suspense to the next level

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

Following in the footsteps of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, The Girl Before is being brought to the big screen. The film is set to be directed by Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard.

Rating: five-stars

When choosing a book to read I often follow my gut feeling, especially when it comes to the authors that I don’t know – although JP Delaney is a pen name for a best – selling author, and when reading “The Girl Before” I was looking for any hallmarks but I didn’t guess the real name – and when spotting this book I just had a feeling that this could be THE read. And well, yes, it turned out that I should trust my gut feeling as the book was totally engrossing and kept me glued to the pages. “The Girl Before” was a provocative, incredibly smart story about controlling and manipulations, making reader to ask who is reliable there and whom shall we trust.

Now. “The Girl Before”. We can start debating who the hell would go and live voluntarily in a house with 200 stipulations including no pets (no way), no children, no cushions, no curtains, no personal things on the floor, no books (hello?). And yet they signed on the dotted line. The house itself is an example of minimalism and the latest and best home technology, adjusting itself to the weather, temperature and probably the mood of the inhabitants. Originally designed by Edward Monkton as his family home but there was an accident on the site when his wife and his young son died. Also, he is the one who, after interviewing the prospective renters, is to decide if they’re going to live there or not. Weird, no? Who in their right mind would go for something like this? I wouldn’t, and I don’t want to go into this debate, but I thought that it is a brilliant and unique idea and premise for a book. For me the book sounded unique, not like others books that I read, and the only thing that didn’t work so good for me was the end, that sounded too Disney-like and somehow didn’t sit with the book. However, this is probably the only thing that I’m going to criticise. There were maybe some things that made me feel uncomfortable, just like building the house on the grave or some scenes with abuse – both human and animal – but nothing that would make me cringe.

The story alternates between Emma (Then) and Jane (Now), and the chapters were short and dynamic and it also made the story flow and reading much quicker. It was also the writing that makes this book so outstanding. It is sparse, but it is incredibly hooking and just beautiful – we can say just like the house! It just feels like the house, to be honest, white and with no barriers or unnecessary things and beautiful in its frugality. The way the stories of Emma and Jane mirrored made me feel a little claustrophobic and insecure, to be honest, it brought a lot of tension and changed my perspective more than once.
I loved how the story was divided between the two points of view. Both of them were in the first person but I’ve never had a problem to see who’s speaking. Duh, the chapters did have titles with the name of the characters! I also liked the way both stories were interwoven and how quickly and effortlessly they picked up when the other has just finished. Really, as the chapters flip back and forth the similarities between the women and their lives started to feel suspicious and somehow creepy, and it was obvious that eventually I’ll start to suspect Edward as well.

I think the characters there are not created to be liked by the readers. Their decisions didn’t help to warm to them, and it is not that I had problems with the characters but I did think that both the women, Emma and Jane, were incredibly naive. There were thousands of warning bells that they chose to ignore and the way they meekly agreed to be controlled by both house and Edward was remarkable and odd. I mean, allowing a man to control your diet and exercise? No, thank you. It was even more surprising that they were like lambs because they were both relatively troubled women and they should know better.
The house on One Folgate was like a living and breathing character itself, to be honest. I really started to believe that the house is trying to destroy the ones it doesn’t approve of, that it controls the lives. It was truly extraordinary how the author managed to create this special, claustrophobic atmosphere of this place.

It is not a book that is destined to make you scared or look over your shoulder. It is a book that is destined to make you feel tension and suspense, keep you in the dark and play with your mind. It is a slow burner, this novel, but with this kind of book it shouldn’t be different – well, you can’t expect the biggest twist to be explained on the first pages, right. No, you’re expecting it to grow slowly in tension, to change tracks, to pull wool over your eyes, and “The Girl Before” just does it. However, as the circle of suspects was very limited in the novel, the end didn’t come as such a BIG surprise, although the last quarter of the story truly meddled with my mind and made me change my opinion about some characters.

Because of the slow pace it takes some time for the book to really pick up, and it happens when Jane discovers that someone died in the house before, and it also takes time for Emma to start to feel afraid. However, even with it taking time, for me it was engaging, interesting and unusual read. The way the story developed was very masterfully and skilfully plotted and organized and I absolutely admired this feeling of dread that the author smuggled onto the pages.

This is a story about secrets, lies and appearances that can often be deceiving. It is one huge rollercoaster ride full of ups and downs and there was something very special in it and I didn’t want to put it down. It is an engrossing mystery, even if the characters are not too likeable – but they don’t have to be in this kind of story. It is good enough that they are multi – layered, they are very complex and I think that no matter what, we never know if they’re telling the truth or if they’re hiding something. It was a thought – provoking, addictive and a clever read, multi – layered with many surprises and I highly recommend “The Girl Before” to you.

GUEST POST

On applying to live at One Folgate Street:

The Girl Before is a book about a house, One Folgate Street. I’ve always loved books with houses at their core, from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca to Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. This particular house is unusual because it’s been built by a minimalist architect, and in order to rent it you have to sign up to over 200 rules – everything from ‘no curtains’ to ‘no pets’ – and complete a questionnaire designed to test your suitability.

The first question in the application is ‘Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life’, which may be fair enough for a minimalist house.But as the questions go on they get more and more unusual and penetrating – things like: “Would you sacrifice yourself to save ten innocent strangers?’ and ‘What about a thousand innocent strangers?’

Many of the questions are drawn from clinical tools designed to measure things like obsessive perfectionism and moral relativism. You can take the questionnaire yourself, and see how your answers compare with other readers’ – go to

http://www.thegirlbeforebook.com/

and click on ‘Continue Application’ (you’ll need to enter an email address.)

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