Queen Bee by Jane Fallon / Blog Tour

Queen Bee by Jane Fallon

 

Publisher: Penguin 51082394._sx318_sy475_

Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating:  five-stars

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Under a Starry Sky by Laura Kemp / Blog Tour

Under a Starry Sky by Laura Kemp

 

Publisher: Orion 54205052._sy475_

Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

One summer to change her life…

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

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

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

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

Rating: four-stars

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Paper Bracelet by Rachael English / Blog Tour

The Paper Bracelet by Rachael English

 

Publisher: Headline 53375276

Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 496

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

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

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

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

Rating: four-stars

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

 

Publisher: Pan Macmillan 51469932._sy475_

Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: Mystery & Thriller, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

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

You.

Happiness, at last.

Then you left me.

And now I am alone.

Everyone I love leaves in the end.

But not this time.

I’m not giving up on us.

I’m not giving up on you.

When you love someone, you never let them go.

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

Rating: three-stars

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Life and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor / Blog Tour

Life and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor

 

Publisher: Black Swan 52722824

Publishing Date: 11th June 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Previously titled Death and Other Happy Endings

If your life was going to end tomorrow, what would you do today?
When she learns she has just three months to live Jennifer Cole decides to write 3 letters: one to her overbearing, selfish sister, another to her jelly-spined, cheating ex-husband, and the third to her charming, unreliable ex-boyfriend, each one saying everything she’s always wanted to say. Fearing the worst, Jennifer finds this unburdening feels great. But then as she’ll soon discover, the truth has a way of surprising you …

Rating: four-stars

 

Jennifer Cole is 43, divorced and is an HR professional. So far, so good. But then she receives news from her doctor that her blood tests show that she has a very rare blood disease – so rare that the book even doesn’t tell us its name! Treatment is not even an option. And she has only three months to live. What would you do in those three months? Write a bucket list? Travel the world? Well, Jennifer decides she needs to address some of the problematic relationships in her life, with three important and significant people – her ex – husband, her ex – lover and her sister, to tell them what she really thinks. Well, she’s dying, right, so really, what worse can happen?
But as it turns out, a lot can happen in ninety days…

The letters that Jennifer writes are addressed to her sister, the beautiful and always knowing better Isabelle, the sister who patronized her and hurt her, the sister who’s now leading a – really? – perfect and happy life with a wealthy husband and two daughters. Then she writes to her ex – husband who not only ignored her feelings after the third miscarriage, but also cheated on her and then left her. And one of the letters goes to Jennifer’s ex – lover that she loved almost unconditionally but who has also left her for another woman. Even though her friends hated Harry, viewing him manipulative and toxic, she simply can’t let him go. Jennifer probably would never write those letter, if it wasn’t for her being ill, and it’s not a wonder because it’s so difficult to open yourself and speak openly about your true feelings and emotions – writing them really required courage form her, but well, she also knew that she has nothing to lose now, right?

Jennifer was an interesting character. While more than once I wanted to shake her and tell her off for being such a doormat, and it started already in the first chapter when she allowed the doctor to belittle her (I know, I know, she got a shock of her life, but still…), and it was really difficult to see her like this, and also, I don’t think I would care about any of my exes if I had ninety days to live left, but altogether she was entertaining and felt really human and authentic. It was – despite the circumstances – great to see her going on this thrilling, interesting and breath – catching journey of personal growth. Seeing her becoming strong and self – confident, realising what’s important was enjoyable and there were moments that I wanted to give her a standing ovation. And one of the strongest points of this book must have been the dynamics between her and Isabelle – at the beginning I truly believed that Isabelle’s intentions are faux, my bad, and then I was really invested in this part of the plot.

I was totally intrigued by this book, because death, okay, but what about happy endings when there is death, right? Yes, I must admit that there were things that you’ve seen coming from a miles away, and there were some quirks in the main character that were sometimes very annoying, but those were not things that have spoilt my reading. There are some revelations and surprises along the way but, to be absolutely honest, I wasn’t surprised with the plot taking a turn – I probably knew it’s going to change things up even before Jennifer knew it.

It is a book about letting go, about second chances, celebrating life, sisterhood and friendship between women. I loved how it showed that no matter what, that when life gives you lemons and provides you with heart – breaking situations, it is another woman who can support you so unconditionally (almost always. Yes, Isabelle, I’m looking at you). It is full of warmth, surprises and humour. The writing is flying, taking us on a journey together with the characters and their ups and downs, and before I knew it, I’ve finished this clever and refreshing read. Go into this with open mind and not over – thinking things and you’re going to enjoy and appreciate this read so much.

 

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The Accidental Husband by Jane Green / #tacklingmytbrpile

The Accidental Husband by Jane Green

 

Publisher: Penguin 17258728

Publishing Date: 14th March 2013

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

NY Times bestseller Jane Green delivers a riveting novel about two women whose lives intersect when a shocking secret is revealed.

From the author of Another Piece of My Heart comes the gripping story of two women who live on opposite coasts but whose lives are connected in ways they never could have imagined. Both women are wives and mothers to children who are about to leave the nest for school. They’re both in their forties and have husbands who travel more than either of them would like. They are both feeling an emptiness neither had expected. But when a shocking secret is exposed, their lives are blown apart. As dark truths from the past reveal themselves, will these two women be able to learn to forgive, for the sake of their children, if not for themselves?

Rating: four-stars

 

Maggie and Sylvie are perfect strangers, living different lives on opposite coasts, knowing anything about each other’s existence. They have children and families, homes that they love and devoted and caring husband. They also have no idea that they share something – or rather someone – very significant. When they think that their lives couldn’t be more perfect, it turns out that they’re very wrong, as they’re going to discover a secret that is about to shake their lives and worlds and bring those two together, no matter if they want it or not.

The author filled the book with twists and turns and moments that can tug at the heartstrings, but mostly it was a truly seamless story about two families, with all the ups and downs of everyday life. After the initial slow beginning and long introduction and the set – up to what’s going to happen, the book starts to gain pace to eventually slow down again after the trial, where it switches its focus to mostly Maggie and her private life.

As soon as we got Maggie’s narration, I started to wait for Mark’s perspective. I was dying to hear his voice and why he did what he did. I think that the book would only benefit with his point of view because without it, it left a huge gap, which is a great pity. I also had a feeling that it is Sylvie’s character that we know completely and that she doesn’t have any secrets from us, as she was the one the author devoted most time and description to. She is very conscientious, is a devoted mother, wife and daughter that has to deal with many problems. The situation with Eve, her daughter, was really well captured, very realistic, and covered really well and sensible by the author. Maggie, on the other hand, was not so easy to like, especially at the beginning, but for me she was much more interesting character – she was not as straightforward as Sylvie, I think, she was more complex in my opinion.

So as much as I really enjoyed this book, I was also a bit torn with it. However, between its predictability, the very unlikely coincidence that is the beginning of an avalanche and the ending that is so incredibly sweet, there is a depth to this story and it may make you think and it was such a readable novel that I’ve finished it in two days. Yes, I admit, I’ve skipped some sections and paragraphs, especially at the end because I had a feeling that some of the chapters simply don’t bring anything to the plot, but still, and despite the clichés and predictability, I immensely enjoyed this book. Maybe because of the predictability, of knowing how it is going to end, was it such a comforting and easy read?

“The Accidental Husband” is a story about the importance of the family and keeping together, about the truth and forgiveness, about finding yourself. Readable and touching upon some other issues, not only bigamy. It deals with eating disorders in very realistic and vivid way and I liked the genuine development of the friendship between the characters. And I was hooked! Yes, I was, so I can really recommend this story with good conscience.

 

Beach Read by Emily Henry / Blog Tour

Beach Read by Emily Henry

 

Publisher: Penguin 48722416._sy475_

Publishing Date: 18th May 2020

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 20.08.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

He doesn’t believe in happy endings.
She’s lost her faith that they exist.
But could they find one together?

January is a hopeless romantic who likes narrating her life as if she’s the heroine in a blockbuster movie.
Augustus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale.
January and Augustus are not going to get on.

But they actually have more in common than you’d think:

They’re both broke.
They’ve got crippling writer’s block.
They need to write bestsellers before the end of the summer.

The result? A bet to see who can get their book published first.
The catch? They have to swap genres.
The risk? In telling each other’s stories, their worlds might be changed entirely…

 

my-review

 

In “Beach Read” we are introduced to January Andrews, an easy – going writer who has always believed in romance and happy ever after, however, lately, her feelings and emotions are all over the place and she finds herself in a beach house, inherited from her father, struggling with a writer’s block and hiding from her agent.
And who’s living next door there, if not Augustus Everett, the very, very serious writer of literary fiction, January’s rival ever since they’ve attended college together. January knows that Gus has never taken her writing seriously and she’s not a very happy bunny living next to him. But it turns out that Gus is also struggling with his next novel and so they decide to strike a deal: he will write a happily ever after and January will try her luck with literary fiction. Whoever sells their book first, wins. Nothing can go wrong, right?

The idea of this plot is brilliant and unique, I loved finding two writers living next to each other, both with deadlines and both with writer’s block, and then deciding on this challenge and swapping genres, while Gus thinks happy ever after doesn’t exist and January has to dip her toes in the water and visit places she has never seen and been to before. But still they try to help each other, and the journeys and places they visit are the most interesting and they couldn’t be more different if you asked for it – we have carnival, romantic beach and watching the sunset, and then we have graveyard and cults, so there.

The author has truly well captured the complicated relationship between father and daughter, full of love but also tension, and brought it so very realistically to life. However, this is also the part of the book that caused me the most troubles as the sudden mood change in the narration didn’t work for me, it was all over the place and I really truly wanted January to eventually find peace and stop biting herself in her back over and over again. The things have happened, I get it, she felt deceived and hurt but she couldn’t change anything, so please, can you just move on? Focus on Gus and your fabulous, sarcastic, smart banter? Simply, the shifts in the atmosphere didn’t flow for me.

Emily Henry can for sure write about feelings and emotions, and I admired the way she has created her characters. There were many layers to them, they were absolutely not straight – forward, they were struggling with their past. It was fabulously put into words and pictured.

I had a problem, though. I had a feeling that I’m reading two different books to be honest, one about January and Gus’s brilliant blossoming relationship, and the second about January’s family issues, that felt so gloom in comparison to the budding affair. It also felt too repetitive for my liking, January was obsessing over the same thing over and over again and, sadly, it spoiled the reading experience for me. But I loved the connection between her and Gus, those were the best parts of the book, the laid – back Gus was great and the banter between them, filled with dry humour and sarcasm was truly entertaining. And yes, there was chemistry between them, sparkling and sizzling, and what’s more, it felt so real, seeing them struggling to open up to each other, hiding in fear of being hurt, and sometimes behaving so childish towards each other. Annoying? Yes, but also honest and genuine.
Also, there was so much focus on them both writing the books, and what with the bet, I was so hoping for some more on this subplot – I was incredibly intrigued about their books. But then suddenly everything is done, sealed and forgotten, just like that, the books are finished, sold and are bestsellers and I’m left here, hanging in the air, panting for more.

Altogether, “Beach Read” is a story that’s going to take you on an emotional journey together with the characters. It’s funny and at times it’s sad. It’s filled with all kinds of feelings, you’ll find there happiness, joy and sadness, angst and hope, hurt and forgiveness. There is so much more to it that you can expect because it’s not a fluffy, sweet story but fiction with a depth, thought – provoking and complex.

 

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Like a House on Fire by Caroline Hulse

Like a House on Fire by Caroline Hulse

 

Publisher: Orion 52721171._sx318_sy475_

Publishing Date: 14th May 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback | Paperback (out on 03.09.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

George and Stella’s marriage is over. They can’t decide exactly when that happened (Was it the coke can? Or that comment about Jurassic Park?), but they both agree that it has.

A couple of months after the separation, Stella’s mother, Margaret “The Force of Nature” Foy sends out invites for her murder mystery anniversary party – with George on the invite list. Stella hasn’t told her parents about the divorce, she couldn’t bring herself to. And with her father’s business shutting down, Margaret’s recent cancer diagnosis, and some very odd behaviour from her older sister Helen, now is clearly not a good time.

All they have to do is make it through the day without their secret being discovered. And in doing so, they may find each other again – or see their past and future both go up in flames…

Rating: five-stars

 

Stella and George have just separated, and it’s really not nice between them at the moment. They’re about to tell Stella’s family about the forthcoming divorce but they’ve just been invited to Stella’s parents to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Margaret, who is hosting the party, has written a murder mystery and there is no option of not coming, especially as she was diagnosed with cancer and everybody knows that it’s, in fact, a farewell party for her. So no way Stella and George can tell them about the separation – they simply have to go and pretend nothing is wrong. But as it turns out, there are many things that are more than wrong, not only in Stella and George’s relationship. It quickly becomes clear that the whole family has been hiding secrets and truths are being held back… But we all know that the truth always comes out, at the least appropriate moment…

I absolutely adore this author’s approach to family and family dynamics – she sees things how they really are and finds the most absurd elements, presenting us with a brilliant, take – no – prisoners drama/comedy with endearing characters that are sharply written and brilliantly developed. The characters were really written in a great way and I quickly found myself totally immersed in their lives, laughed at their jokes, rolled my eyes at their quirks and them behaving in a way that was, yes, sometimes irritating and childish – shortly, I fell for them even if they fed me up to my back teeth.
I was prepared for it to be a Stella and George story but it turned out that they have a huge family – but the more, the merrier! Margaret is hosting the party to celebrate the anniversary with her husband Tommy, and she’s the one who has written the play. Tommy is obsessed with his shop that he has handed over to his son – in – law. Stella and George are on the verge of divorce and Helen is on the verge of a nervous breakdown – the story is told through their points of view and it quickly becomes clear that there is so much more to them all, and that they all have their own secrets which they’re guarding, hiding and protecting. The characters’ voices are distinctive, strong and different and they are all so vivid and so full of life, and it’s really easy to picture them all.

It was a hugely entertaining read filled with complex and complicated relationships and very sharp observed. I absolutely loved the circle the book did, beginning and winding down with the same characters, and also the meeting in the supermarket has given the story a kind of a wrap – up, giving me my dream conclusion, leaving me totally satisfied. And I love the chosen title – when you read the book you will so appreciate it!

The banter between characters is good, guys, it’s so good in fact that it is incredibly easy to visualise the scene, to hear the characters talking to each other. And it was really easy to relate to the characters, to feel what they’re going through and it quickly becomes crystal clear that there is so much more to every single one of them than you can think at first. Caroline Hulse has a great way with words, her writing style immediately catches your attention and draws you into the story. Her words are sharp, honest and genuine and she can perfectly well capture family dynamics and all kinds of relationships. But she doesn’t exaggerate in her descriptions, and even the most crazy things that happen in the book still seem believable, like things that could happen to you and your family.

The idea of the family murder mystery dinner party was absolutely my cup of tea, I had a pleasure to attend such a dinner (though not a family party!) once and it was such a great fun, and really, you can learn TONS about other people during such party. I was maybe hoping for a real murder in this story to be honest, I think Ms Hulse is able to pull something like this off, but with all the other drama I could live without real corpse – there was enough of other events and little fires everywhere to keep me glued to the pages.

I loved Caroline Hulse’s debut novel, “The Adults”, and “Like a House on Fire” was one of my most anticipated books this year – I literally couldn’t wait to get this book in my hands and to start reading, and let me tell you, the book doesn’t disappoint. It’s as good as the author’s first novel and already full of Ms Hulse’s trademark sharp, astute and straight on point observations and down – to – earth approach to reality. It is a perfect blend between fun and serious and the underlying themes of sadness and seriousness are injected with the most perfect dry and dark humour. It was an addictive, entertaining and thought – provoking read and Caroline Hulse is already at the top of my auto – buy authors.

I Made a Mistake by Jane Corry / Blog Tour

I Made a Mistake by Jane Corry

 

Publisher: Penguin 49469673._sy475_

Publishing Date: 28th May 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 28.05.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

YOU DIDN’T MEAN TO DO IT.
IT WAS ONLY ONCE.
BUT NOW HE’S DEAD, AND SOMEONE HAS TO PAY . . .

The darkly addictive new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of I Looked Away, Blood Sisters and My Husband’s Wife.
In Poppy Page’s mind, there are two types of women in this world: those who are faithful to their husbands, and those who are not. Until now, Poppy has never questioned which she was.

But when handsome, charming Matthew Gordon walks back into her life after almost two decades, that changes. Poppy makes a single mistake – and that mistake will be far more dangerous than she could imagine.

Someone is going to pay for it with their life . . .

Rating: four-stars

 

Poppy Page has been an aspiring actress once but now she runs a successful extras agency. Married to Stuart, who is a dentist, they have two daughters, Melissa and Daisy and since recently they all live together with Stuart’s mother Betty, who has moved in with them to help with the girls. At a party Poppy meets an ex – boyfriend Matthew Gordon – she was head over heels in love with him many years ago but he has broken her heart and married another woman. After this meeting, Poppy’s life changes dramatically and she seems to be making a mistake after a mistake. And then someone’s is murdered. Who? And why? Did Poppy make one mistake too many?

There was enough depth to the characters and they were drawn and portrayed well enough, and they were either easy to like or to dislike. The story is told by Poppy and Betty, interspersed with scenes at the Central Criminal Court. I must admit that it was Betty’s narration that had me hooked most and it was her story that was the most interesting for me. The more I read, the more sympathy I felt to her and the more I understood her, though I was also all the time wondering why we are getting those glimpses into her past, what this has to do with Poppy’s situation. Betty’ history and background of her courtship and marriage to Jock in the 60’s and 70’s was fascinating to me, it was a subplot that had a strong backbone and it was so easy to fell for Betty, even with her naivety and subordination, but we all know that life used to be a bit different than it is now for women. But there was a moment that she really shown she’s a strong woman, a moment that I wanted to give her a standing ovation.
Poppy, on the other hand, seemed a bit pale in comparison to Betty and, to be honest, I couldn’t help thinking that she brought a huge part of the damage upon herself. I mean, she didn’t deserve the huge fallout and I personally wanted to do something very bad and painful to Matthew but sometimes she simply behaved like a child lost in fog and her decisions were strange and inappropriate.

It is a well written, full of substance book with the right pacing and some twists and turns thrown at us at the right moments. However, I have a little problem with Jane Corry’s writing style because for me it seems so unattached, you know, as if the author was observing her characters but not engaging with them, keeping a cool head and not letting them to take over the plot – it simply sometimes lacks in spontaneity and sparkles. I think that the weakest points of this novel are the scenes set in the criminal Court – I’m sorry, but they weren’t believable. Sure, they add another layer to the plot and they keep us in suspense but they simply seemed too unrealistic. Also, I think that such kind of book would profit even more with a different ending – don’t want to tell more as don’t want to spoil the reading for you but in my humble opinion life is not always a bed of roses and I’m not going to write more because if I won’t stop I feel a huge spoiler coming here.

I enjoyed “I Made a Mistake”, though I can’t say that it was Jane Corry’s best one, however, despite all the weaker points, I still think it was an emotionally charged roller – coaster journey full of twists and turns. It’s not only a thriller but it’s also a family drama, telling about the characters’ mistakes and regrets, and it made me feel sad that it’s only women that see their lives through committed mistakes, that it’s only Poppy and Betty that have regrets and want to change something, and not their husbands or the men in their lives. But it’s also about this incredible woman’s strength to forget and forgive, about woman’s solidarity, about being able to sacrifice everything for another woman to protect the family. It’s a read that pulls at the heart – strings, is thought – provoking and poignant. Recommended!

 

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Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 49128139._sy475_

Publishing Date: 14th May 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

One summer.
One house.
One family learning to love again.

Cate Morris and her son, Leo, are homeless, adrift. They’ve packed up the boxes from their London home, said goodbye to friends and colleagues, and now they are on their way to ‘Hatters Museum of the Wide Wide World – to stay just for the summer. Cate doesn’t want to be there, in Richard’s family home without Richard to guide her any more. And she knows for sure that Araminta, the retainer of the collection of dusty objects and stuffed animals, has taken against them. But they have nowhere else to go. They have to make the best of it.

But Richard hasn’t told Cate the truth about his family’s history. And something about the house starts to work its way under her skin.
Can she really walk away, once she knows the truth?

Rating: five-stars

 

Cate has been struggling since her husband Richard died, moreover so as she’s been made redundant and she and her and Richard’s son Leo must now leave their London place and move into Richard’s family home, at least for the summer. But actually, it’s not your usual, normal home – it’s a museum with some rooms where they can stay. A museum full of menagerie of dioramas, mounted animals, beautiful gardens, glass – domed library. Its caretaker Araminta Buchan is not too happy with their arrival, though while cold and stiff with Cate she’s much softer towards Leo. She tells things how they are: the museum is under threat of closure. Is it now on Leo, the descendant of Colonel Hugo Lyons – Morris, to save the place? Are they going to learn more about the family that Richard wanted nothing to do with?

The more I read, the more invested in the story I was and the more I adored this book. It is this kind of novel that has this magical “something” that you look for in your books, that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go, the best kind of “something”. I have never came across such a museum and at the beginning it was really hard to imagine it, but with Ms Harris’s beautiful, vivid descriptions it quickly changed. Still, the idea was such a novelty to me and I think it was a real breath of fresh air. Hugo, Leo’s grandfather, was an explorer and then a collector, bringing many species of animals back from his travels, as he wanted to show people who weren’t able to travel the world. The way the past was reflected here was so clever, and it added so much to this book.

The characters are all so well written, they simply feel like living and breathing people, and all of them had their own story to tell. The author wasn’t afraid of challenging them and often putting them in difficult situations, situations that seemed impossible to be solved, and letting them to take the lead, to show how strong they actually are and how much passion and determination they hide.

It is beautifully written, almost poetic but still the language is so modern and up – to – date, and the words flow so seamlessly, and you just want to read, and read and read, they’re so well – rounded and they work so well together, creating a vivid and colourful story. The author immediately draws you into the heart of the book, transports you into the characters’ world and you feel as if you knew them personally. Yes, it was a slight slow – burner, however there was always something happening in this story, and I think that the end was than quite filled with action and events and all the secrets have actually came out in the end, but believe me, it doesn’t mean that it is rushed, because it’s not. It simply wraps everything together and ties up all the loose ends, leaving you satisfied but sad that the book came to its peak.

“Where We Belong” brilliantly describes and captures all kind of complex relationships and touches on all possible emotions and feelings, addressing some heavier issues such as mental health and grief. It was a moving, poignant but also heart – warming and uplifting tale, a story about the ups and downs of having a family, about second chances and actually never losing hope. The characters were growing and evolving, the descriptions made your imagination soar and there was much depth hidden between the pages. There was also an element or two of mystery and the pace of unveiling the secrets was perfect. It was not absolutely unpredictable, however there are things that you won’t probably be able to guess before they’re revealed. I think that this novel is even better that the author’s debut offering, which was also brilliant, so it’s really telling something. Highly recommended!