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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Those People by Louise Candlish

Those People by Louise Candlish

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 42427483._sy475_

Publishing Date: 27th June 2019

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 26.12.2019)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Could you hate your neighbour enough to plot to kill him?
Until Darren Booth moves in at number 1, Lowland Way, the neighbourhood is a suburban paradise. But soon after his arrival, disputes over issues like loud music and parking rights escalate all too quickly to public rows and threats of violence.
Then, early one Saturday, a horrific crime shocks the street. As the police go house-to-house, the residents close ranks and everyone’s story is the same: Booth did it.
But there’s a problem. The police don’t agree with them.

Rating: three-stars

 

Lowland Way is a quiet, community – and family friendly street in South London. The neighbours are a tight – knit community and they were even awarded for a great concept “Play – Out Sunday” that allows children to play safely on the street when it’s closed to traffic on a Sunday. Until everything changes, when one day the Booths move into number 1, immediately starting with the bad neighbour things such as loud music at all hours, noisy renovations, running the illegal car dealing business from home, taking all the free parking spaces there are on the street, forcing the residents to look for a space somewhere further away. And generally, they’re unfriendly and not willing to cooperate.
The neighbours gather their strengths again the Booths but the complaints go unheeded and it seems nobody can do anything, their hands are tied. They can’t even sell the houses it they wanted because the prices radically went downhill. And then someone dies – but is it really so obvious what has happened? It turns out the list of suspects is as long as Lowland Way itself…

The characters were brilliantly drawn, however none of them were especially likeable but I guess it was intended. However, they feel like real people and I could really follow their frustrations, desperations and anger. But no matter my own feelings towards the characters, I really felt empathy for them, and I could easily imagine how the whole unfairness of the situation made them feel. What was interesting was the way the characters were portrayed – there were many of them, and it takes time to eventually get them all under control, knowing who is who and to whom they belong, and, as I have already mentioned, not likeable at all, and all of them seemed so happy with their lives on the surface, but it turned out that all of them, literally all, had murderous tendency – though, perhaps, it’s not a wonder in those circumstances. However, as much as I was a bit disgusted with them, I thoroughly enjoyed their stories. Because of the multiple points of view it takes time for the mystery to unfold, to actually begin, but the characters were honest and genuine, so we really know what they think. Louise Candlish has a great sense of observation and she really knows how to write about domestic dynamics and manipulation, and it was really sometimes shocking to see the real faces of the characters as the cracks started to appear after not everything runs as smoothly as they wish.

I liked how much interpretation there is left to us about “those people”, because I’ve found myself, more than once, wondering who’s really worse. I mean, I wouldn’t accept breaking down walls, playing loud music, parking wherever you want, not following the general rules but then, on the other hand, would I accept neighbours policing the neighbourhood, meddling everywhere, thinking they have the right to decide about what’s good and what’s wrong? Oh my, I am blessed with my neighbours, really… I also liked the pace of this book, it was fast and the changing points of view made it feel even quicker. It was great to read not only about their feelings about the new neighbours but the author also gave us a deep insight into their private lives, letting us see what’s really happening behind the closed doors.

Sadly, I enjoyed this book, but not as much as Ms Candlish’s previous novels. There were moments that made me feel wow, especially the accidental death, I couldn’t get by it, but there weren’t enough of those moments. When I finished reading, I though, and that’s all? The ending, in my opinion, felt a bit too rushed compared to the fact how long the main story was, and I don’t know, but it was not completely this what I was expecting.

“Those People” is for sure a gold standard example of domestic noir/suspense, a genre that Louise Candlish has already proven herself in. Her writing style is so vivid and descriptive, and really, I could easily imagine the horrors of the new neighbours, could hear the shrills, thrills, loud music through her words. Altogether, it was, sadly, not my personal favourite by this author. I think there was so much potential in it but the execution just missed the mark for me, this “something” that I always found in Louise Candlish’s books.

One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom

One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom

 

Publisher: Penguin 43201773._sy475_

Publishing Date: 17th October 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

On a winter morning she lost a piece of her heart. Can she find it?

Evangeline isn’t feeling festive this December.

The frost and fairy lights only remind her it’s been a year since she lost the mother who took her in as a baby and raised her.

She’s never felt more alone – until she discovers her birth mother’s identity. And where to find her.

A lifetime and thousands of miles have separated Evangeline and Bonnie. Now, travelling to New Zealand could be Evangeline’s chance to confront the woman who gave her up.

But is she ready for what she’ll find there?

The answers she’s been looking for, a new family to heal her . . . Or someone she could never have expected?

Rating:  five-stars

 

Genie isn’t feeling festive this year. She doesn’t feel great at all in fact. It’s almost a year after her adoptive mum died in an accident Genie is blaming herself for. Encouraged by her adoptive dad to meet her birth mother Bonnie, hoping it will give her some answers and lessen the guilt and reconnect her with the world, Genie dares to start the journey around the world to New Zealand, where Bonnie lives. It could be a chance to confront the woman who gave her up but on the arrival Genie discovers that not only Bonnie embarked on a journey to England to probably find Genien but also meets Tui, a girl who’s going to change her whole world. Is she ready for what she’s going to discover?

I am so, so happy that this book has read like Isabelle’s debut novel, it was really close to perfection this time – there was this really hard to capture, and also to describe, feeling that you have in your heart and belly when reading, a feeling that makes the book a brilliant experience and I’m so glad to report to you that “One Winter Morning” is such a book. Isabelle Broom’s first novel was great and I loved it, then I had some problems with her next books and it made me feel desperately sad because I knew that she can write such great stories, and now she’s back with this newest release and I can’t stop praising it.

The author has so wonderfully and skilfully captured the whole range of emotions here – the book was oozing in them but it doesn’t mean that it felt too emotional, no, there was the right amount of them, to make it poignant without making it too sugary. There was love, loss, grief, friendship and hope, combined with challenges that we have to face every day. It was truly a magnificent read that easily transported me into the characters’ world.

The characters felt like living and breathing people, and of course I loved Genie immediately, what with her love of horses. Actually, I warmed to all of them quickly, right after getting to know them. But Genie was a great leading character, full of flaws as well but it made her even more realistic in my eyes, and her struggle to move forward was genuine. I adored being with her on this journey where she learns how to process her grief and learns how to trust in other people, that she’s not alone.
The chapters told from Genie’s point of view are intertwined with those told by Bonnie, which added a bit of mystery and kept me glued to the pages as I wanted to know what has really happened, and while it was not so hugely dramatic, just a normal story that could happen anytime and anywhere, Isabelle Broom managed to keep it intriguing enough, revealing something about Bonnie’s past and then switching the narration back to Genie, leaving me wanting more. Eventually, the two stories merge into one, and the ending made me feel really satisfied, I couldn’t wish for a better one.
Genie’s developing friendship with Kit and Tui were absolutely realistic and genuine, and those two were also adorable characters, I really liked what the author did with Tui’s character, loved her cheerfulness, openness and “jeez”.

Isabelle Broom is already known for the settings she chooses for her books, and this time she didn’t disappoint, taking us on a journey to New Zealand. Without making the book feel like a tourist guide, there were enough vivid, colourful descriptions of the places and beautiful scenery. It felt a bit different, to spent Christmas there where it’s actually summer, but it was a change.

“One Winter Morning” brilliantly touches upon the complicated and complex family relationships and dynamics even if the plot is simple and realistic – the thing the author has chosen to write about is probably happening right now, somewhere in the world. She managed to make it realistic, with a special touch of romance and humour. It was a lovely journey of new beginnings and finding yourself, heart – warming and charming that I highly recommend!

The Christmas Party by Karen Swan

The Christmas Party by Karen Swan

 

Publisher: Pan Macmillan 46025913._sy475_

Publishing Date: 31st October 2019

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

Number of pages: 474

Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The Christmas Party is a delicious, page-turning story of romance, family and secrets, by the Sunday Times bestselling author Karen Swan.

When Declan Lorne, the last remaining knight in Ireland, dies suddenly, an ancient title passes with him. But his estate on Ireland’s rugged south-west coast is left to his three daughters. The two eldest, Ottie and Pip, inherit in line with expectations, but to everyone’s surprise – and dismay – it is the errant baby of the family, Willow, who gets the castle.

Why her? Something unknown – something terrible – made her turn her back on her family three years earlier, escaping to Dublin and vowing never to return. So when Willow quickly announces she is selling up, her revenge seems sweet and the once-close sisters are pushed to breaking point: in desperation, Pip risks everything to secure her own future, and Ottie makes a decision that will ruin lives. It’s each woman for herself.

Before moving in, Connor Shaye, the prospective new owner, negotiates throwing a lavish party at the castle just days before Christmas – his hello, their goodbye. But as their secrets begin to catch up with them, Ottie, Willow and Pip are forced to ask themselves which is harder: stepping into the future, or letting go of the past?

Rating:  four-stars

 

On the 26th November at Lorne Castle Serena and Declan Lorne – Declan the last knight of Ireland – celebrate their 30th anniversary with a great party. Quickly after, tragedy strikes – Declan dies. Willow, the youngest sister, is summoned to come home from Dublin where she now lives, estranged from the family, however she’s not able to arrive on time, before her father’s death. Then another shock follows – Declan’s will. The three sisters: Willow, Pip and Ottie, and their mother, must now face up to new challenges, trying to come to terms with the new situation, their past and hidden secrets that are going to rise to the surface during the Christmas Party – a send off to their castle.

As usual, the characters were perfectly drawn and the three sisters were brilliantly different. all of them strong in their own way but with flaws and weaknesses and making mistakes as well. I think Pip was closest to my heart, simply because she’s crazy about horses and would do anything for her animals, but what I also loved in her was that she was feisty and stubborn, sometimes too much. Ottie seemed to be the calmer out of the three sisters but it turned out that probably she was the one with the biggest secret that could have devastating consequences. I enjoyed her journey throughout the story, loved seeing her changing and eventually see the light, realising herself and for herself that she’s worth much more, because I hated to see her like a shadow of herself, living in lie and in wait. But I also had a feeling, the more I got to know her, that she really knew that what she was doing was wrong and this is what made her so withdrawn. The youngest Willow also struggles with a secret, and even though I was suspecting something, the truth hit me unexpectedly around the head. She was fierce and fiery and we know that something wrong happened and pushed her to leave her home three years ago, to cut family ties. The guilt of coming too late to tell the last goodbye to her father was present throughout the whole story and she needed the closure so much. All three, back home after their father’s death, were forced to work out their differences and learn how to trust each other again, which brings us to three very different storylines, told in distinctive and strong voices.

Again, the setting was incredibly beautiful. I loved the Irish castle, the descriptions of its surroundings, the wild nature in winter so atmospherically captured and vividly brought to us by the author. It’s a perfect backdrop to this story, a character on its own. I liked how the author highlighted the problems and troubles of having such a financial burden in the family, the guilt of not being able to keep the castle as intact and perfect as it deserved. The writing style is beautiful, evocative and well turned. The banter was quick, sharp and entertaining, and written in a way that I could hear the Irish lilt in characters’ voices. The dialogues were rich and eloquent and flew smoothly, making the interactions dynamic and the reading even more captivating.

So what can say, other than I simply totally enjoyed this story? Yes, it was a slow – burner and the things cumulated throughout the whole story to resolve quickly – almost exploding – at the end. It is then that all the various and different threads neatly weave themselves together and everything becomes clear. But it was well worth waiting for this end, it left me surprised and also shocked, to be honest, but this is what I was expecting from this book and from this author, so all’s well that ends well.

There is actually a lot going on in this book and there is everything to keep you glued to the pages: betrayal and hope, love and hate, fun and sadness, grief, uncertainty and tension. It was a captivating and engrossing story about family, with a mystery at the heart of the plot, romance, heartbreak, tension and living and breathing characters that feel vulnerable, strong and very genuine. The Christmas theme was lacking for me, and the highly anticipated Christmas Party took place at the end, and even though it was explosive it felt too undermined. Nevertheless, the book was full of warmth and sentiments, felt a little bit nostalgic as well, and for me it was a brilliant and engaging read. Another winner from Karen Swan that I highly recommend!