Hello, Again by Isabelle Broom

Hello, Again by Isabelle Broom

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 51804368._sy475_

Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Philippa Taylor (Pepper to her friends) has big dreams. When she closes her eyes, she can picture exactly who she ought to be. The problem is, it’s about as far away from her real life in a small coastal town in Suffolk as she can imagine.

So when her elderly friend Josephine persuades Pepper to accompany her on a trip to Europe, she jumps at the chance to change her routine. And when Pepper bumps (literally) into the handsome Finn in Lisbon, it seems as though she might have finally found what she’s been looking for.

But Pepper know all too well things are rarely as they seem. Her own quiet life hides a dark secret from the past. And even though she and Finn may have been destined to find each other, Pepper suspects life may have other plans as to how the story should end.

A romantic and sweeping story about friendship, love and realising that sometimes it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Rating:  three-stars

 

Philippa Taylor (or Pepper to her friends) experienced a certain amount of tragedy in her life and this is why it’s not easy for her to open up. She’s insecure and doesn’t dare to paint again. She lives in a small coastal town in Suffolk and has never travelled but when she befriends an older woman, Josephine, it’s all about to change. Pepper is not easy to persuade but then decides to accompany Josephine on her journey to Lisbon, to find her long lost love. It’s the beginning of changes in Pepper’s life, and bumping into the handsome Finn is only the promising start. Is she going to find what she’s been looking for almost her whole life? Will she move forwards?

The characters are interesting, however I missed more depth to them and I didn’t engage with them as much as I’d like. Pepper is a complex character though she was not completely my cup of tea, to be honest. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because she was so much reserved? Not believing in herself? Her glass was always half empty? Finn also didn’t convince me completely, there was something in him that made me feel untrusting towards him, and I personally thought that Pepper had deserved someone better, someone less selfish, someone who will take her as she is.
The relationship aspects, especially those concerning the closest family, were really well written, even if, after a while, I started to feel desperate with Pepper’s mother. But they were well explored and close to life.

This time the author takes us to Lisbon, Guernsey and Hamburg, and you can see that Isabelle Broom has done her research. The descriptions of those unusual places, as well as of the food and drinks were colourful and vivid, bringing them all to life. And I liked the end! It was not so obvious, so that’s brownie points from me!

The author follows her proven formula – she takes us on a journey abroad, to another lovely carefully selected setting, where we go on a rollercoaster journey of feelings and emotions, together with the characters. There is everything in the book, all the most important points, girl meets boy, both have a past, both try to overcome their fear, there are ups and downs, and of course an older character that is oh so wise, and we all know how it’s going to end – perfect, right? Only, it’s not perfect. It’s flat and old and I think that the author could do so much better, one shall not live by setting alone, I missed life and authenticity in this story, the characters felt too wooden and really, I had a feeling I’ve read this story thousand times already, only the names of the characters changed. But I guess it’s my problem, as so many of you have already enjoyed this book, so don’t feel put out by my thoughts.

Nevertheless, the quality of Isabelle Broom’s writing is truly to appreciate. It’s eloquent, chatty, warm and so incredibly vivid, especially when it comes to the setting. However, the story at the heart of this book feels too dull and monotonous. I skipped some pages, to be honest and had a feeling that it didn’t make any difference to the story, that I didn’t miss anything. There are too many things that shouldn’t have found their way to this book and it felt too repetitive.

“Hello, Again” is a light summer read about love, friendship, second chances and new beginnings. I only think that I want more texture and not another travel – guide. But overall, this book is a great addition for Isabelle Broom’s fans, probably I’ve simply outgrown such stories.

The Happy Glampers by Daisy Tate

The Happy Glampers by Daisy Tate

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 50264832._sy475_

Publishing Date: 11th June 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Is friendship meant to last forever? Charlotte Mayfield hopes so. Especially as she’s throwing some luxury glamping into the mix.

After fifteen years of trying to be the perfect wife, maybe Charlotte’s best friends from uni – Freya, Emily and Izzy – can still glimpse the woman she’d once set out to be.

Freya is up for it. Could a powwow with her yesteryear besties helps her knock some sense into her useless husband?

Emily’s hiding her own crisis from her parents, colleagues and now, her mates. Can a weekend under canvas get her to open up?

Izzy’s back from a decade abroad with an unexpected addition, her nine-year-old daughter Flora. She’s also keeping another big secret, one that’s brought her home for good.

Will a year of yurts mend two decades of hurts – or are some things, like shower blocks, burnt sausages and no wi-fi, best left in the past…

This novel was previously published on e-book in four parts.

Rating: three-stars

 

Freya, Izzy, Charlotte and Emily are four friends who have been together at University. They went their separate ways but now, after some time, they all get together to celebrate Charlotte’s 40th birthday. Each of them has secrets and problems but they’re determined to put on their party faces, not to burden each other with their troubles. However, friendship is stronger than some secrets, right?

What was really great in this book was the friendship between the women – it was real, realistic and honest, with all the ups and downs, and I loved how they supported each other. It is this kind of friendship that can pick up whenever it stopped, and some things can only be discussed with people that really know you. The characters’ stories were really well drawn and nicely interwoven and I have never felt confused, I also could immediately tell who is who and to whom they belong, and what problems and challenges each of the families faces.

The story doesn’t end after the birthday glamping trip, oh no, it’s only the beginning, and we get to know the characters and their backgrounds more and deeper. There are several more get – togethers and the friends were all the time learning about each other’s lives and the secrets were slowly progressing to the surface. I liked how very realistic the characters’ lives were, their problems could be yours or mine, and I think the author has really excelled in capturing their feelings, emotions and reactions. They made mistakes and they often couldn’t make up their minds but it’s just like in real life, nothing is either black or white, life has many shades of grey as well. Daisy Tate is a great observer and she can write about everyday life in an engaging and captivating way.

The characters were really relatable and I think that I can’t say that I had my favourite one. Sure, my heart went to one more than to the other, as some of the stories were truly sad and heart – breaking but on the whole I liked all the girls all the same, even if sometimes some of them made me feel desperate or made me want to roll my eyes at them.

However, it was this kind of book that I really didn’t know where it’s going to take us – it told us a story of a few random characters, in a period of time, but why this period of time I don’t know. I’ll be honest, I thought it is going to be a funny, uplifting and light – hearted tale about glamping but it turned out to be much deeper and more serious in tone. I don’t mean it’s bad but it is not what I was expecting. I also had a problem with the way it was written. The first part about Charlotte’s birthday took so much time, it was almost half of the book, and then the story started to feel very chopped, giving us glimpses into the characters’ lives, in different moments, in different periods of time, time was moving forward without a plan and it felt as if we were only given fragments of this what was happening, chosen moments and then we were moving again, not sure how much we have moved forward this time, if it was a day, a week, a month, with new characters popping in and out of the pages. I think that, in this case, the book worked better when read in the four – parts series that it was initially published.

Altogether, “The Happy Glampers” was a captivating, emotional story about all shades of a real, raw friendship that can help you heal and save you when everything in your life goes belly – up. Thought – provoking and uplifting, it is for sure worth reading.

The Family Holiday by Elizabeth Noble

The Family Holiday by Elizabeth Noble

 

Publisher: Penguin / Michael Joseph cover187078-medium

Publishing Date: 25th June 2020

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

Number of pages: 432

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

The Chamberlain family – Charlie and Daphne, and their children Laura, Scott and Nick – had fantastic summer holidays when they were young. But then, inevitably, the children grew up, and their own messy lives got in the way.

Since their mum died, it feels to them all as if their family just isn’t that close any more. And Charlie fears his kids have all lost their direction.

For his eightieth birthday, all Charlie wants is to bring his family together again – and by some miracle, they’ve all said yes.

It’s only ten days . . . how hard can it be?

Rating: four-stars

 

Charlie is approaching his 80th birthday. Widowed for already ten years, he still misses his wife Daphne and worries that, together with her death, the family has drifted apart. Daphne has always known what to do and what to say to help and Charlie doesn’t have this gift. In his attempt to get the whole family together, he arranges a holiday, renting a large house in Cotswolds, and invites everybody to celebrate his birthday together. We meet Laura, recently separated from her husband and with her teenage son Ethan, Nick, widowed less than a year ago and his three small children, and Scott and his new American wife Heather and her two daughters from her previous marriage. It turns out that all of them have secrets and problems, and what with them not being as close as they used to be, is this holiday a good idea?

This is my first book by Elizabeth Noble so I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest, although well, maybe I thought that it’s going to be an easy, light – hearted read. I was, however, confronted with a story with much more depth to it that I have thought, and characters facing overwhelmingly huge challenges, yet despite them being so stressed and anxious, there is still warmth and hope in the writing.

It is a character – driven story, where not much happens in the way of exploiting the plot but those are the characters that are moving it forward. I liked the fact that we actually explore one family only, a closed group of characters – there were a few of them but I had a feeling that I know them really well, thanks to the author’s wise descriptions and development and the above mentioned fact that everything happens between the same characters. However, I must admit that Daphne as a central character, even though already gone, didn’t work for me so much. I am really truly done with such characters, being put on pedestal, keeping everything together, and while maybe she was really a lovely and über – wise person, I was told about it, I didn’t have a chance to form my own opinion because it was forced upon me.

The pace is slow and relaxed, and the holiday mentioned happens only then when we were introduced to all the characters, got to know all their background and what makes them tick. The events in their lives are mostly heart – breakingly sad but they are convincingly written and they feel realistic. Their stories are well – rounded and the characters are well portrayed. I got annoyed with them, frustrated and I sympathised with them, and it is always a good sign.

“The Family Holiday” is a book filled with emotional insights and wisdom, gentle and easy to read. It’s close to life and relatable with some great moments and for sure it won’t be last by this author for me. The author can for sure write about family dynamics, capturing the more humorous moments but also those that end in tears, pointing out that families are hard work and that there are always secrets hidden and lies told but with the support of each other you can overcome even the darkest moments. The author tells things how they are, without sugar – coating them, going through the beginning and breaking of the marriage, grief, becoming children and daily troubles. The writing is lovingly engaging and descriptive but without overwhelming you. Recommended!

 

 

 

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

 

Publisher: Piatkus 43611796._sy475_

Publishing Date: 14th May 2020

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

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

For two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime . . .

Olive is always unlucky; her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. About to marry her dream man, her entire wedding has been fully paid for by winning a series of competitions. Meanwhile, Olive is forced to play nice with her sworn enemy: the best man, Ethan.

But Olive’s luck may be on the turn . . . When the entire wedding party – except for Olive and Ethan – gets food poisoning, there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs. Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free holiday, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him threatens to spiral out of control.

Forced to play loving newlyweds, she and Ethan find themselves in much closer proximity than they ever expected . . . The problem is that soon, Olive finds that maybe she doesn’t mind pretending. In fact, she’s beginning to feel kind of . . . lucky.

The Unhoneymooners is a heartwarming and hilarious romance perfect for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.

Rating: three-half-stars

 

Olive Torres is accident prone – if something is going to happen, it’s going to happen to her. So imagine her surprise when, at her twin sister’s wedding, it’s not her who gets food poisoning but all the other guests! Well, except for the groom’s brother Ethan. But every single other person has been affected – in hindsight, a free seafood buffet was not the best idea. Ethan and Olive have never seen eye to eye, they actually hate each other. However, right now, they have to put their antipathy aside because Ami – that’s Olive’s sister – is sending them on her honeymoon! In Maui! This trip simply can’t go to waste. They decide to give it a go – well, there are so many things to do in Maui, they don’t have to see each other, right? Wrong – they meet Olive’s new boss and then Ethan’s ex – fiancé and so they’re forced to play a happy newly – wed couple which results in misencounters, misunderstandings and misadventures. And growing chemistry between the two of them… But not everything runs smoothly in paradise…

Olive, after my initial confusion, because I have to admit that the beginning was somewhat hard for me, what with the negative dynamics between her and her sister Ami, I wasn’t sure what to think about their sisterly relationship where one sister clearly uses the other one and the other one allows this meekly, turned out to be a very colourful and entertaining character, and a very accident – prone one. Sometimes she didn’t know when to stop talking, and it was a bit surprising for me, because at first she truly looked like a sheep without her own voice and opinions, however as soon as she was alone, without her huge family around her, she always turned into a chatty and sharp young woman.

The love – to – hate relationship doesn’t evoke such extreme emotions in me as in many other readers, so it seems, but of course my like and dislike depends on the way it is written. Here it worked. It was sharp, genuine and with the right dose of chemistry between the characters.

I think that adding Ethan’s perspective would be a great and refreshing idea, as we hear only Olivia’s point of view. Yes, they talk to each other, of course, and they are relatively open with each other but reading Ethan’s real feelings would be so much fun, don’t you think?

The story was brilliant and funny until it wasn’t, to be honest. I absolutely enjoyed the plot, and trip to Maui, the banter between the characters, the growing interest between them, it was truly hooking and funny for the most part. But then it started to feel too old and too utilised and repetitive and I thought that if I read the “I hated you/you hated me/do I hate you now/do you hate me now” conversation, I’m going to start to cry. It. Was. too. Much. And it stopped being funny. Also, the end is very, very rushed and I was screaming for more plot development, not only going around in circles, taking us and the characters where they needed to be at the end. The book was also full of stereotypes and things that didn’t sit so well with me, like body – shaming and with the characters turning out to be very slim, but it’s not deep enough to go into this – I’ve just noticed those things on a side note and I’m truly not in a mood to tear the book apart because of them, but they could be for sure better done, with more sensibility. Things happen very conveniently but this is why I’ve reached for this book. I’d say that the pace was rather on the slow side – it takes about half of the novel before things start to move forward and it’s not only the banter.

Altogether, “The Unhoneymooners” is a light, easy and entertaining read with some great one – liners. The banter between the characters is smart and witty and pushes the plot forward. Ultimate beach read for this summer. The humour was absolutely my kind of humour which made the book one of the funniest – just what the doctor ordered.

Keeping Mum by James Gould – Bourn / Blog Tour

Keeping Mum by James Gould – Bourn

 

Publisher: Trapeze cover186210-medium

Publishing Date: 11th June 2020

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Danny Malooley’s life is falling apart.

He’s a single parent with an eleven-year-old son, Will, who hasn’t spoken since the death of his mother in a car crash fourteen months ago. He’s being pursued by a dodgy landlord for unpaid rent and, to make matters worse, he’s just lost his job on a building site. Struggling to find work, and desperate for money, Danny decides to do what anyone in his position would do.

He becomes a dancing panda.

After seeing street performers in his local park raking it in, he puts all sense of pride aside and spends his last fiver on a vomit-ridden costume… only to discover that the humiliation of his terrible rhythm is worth it. Not because he’s flush with cash (quite the opposite) but Will has finally spoken to him for the first time since his mother’s death. The problem is Will is unaware that the panda is in fact his father, and Danny doesn’t want to reveal his true identity in case Will stops talking to him. But Danny can’t keep up the ruse forever.

A surprising, laugh-out-loud and uplifting story of a father and son reconnecting in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Rating: five-stars

 

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Danny Mallony and his son Will have lost their wife and mother in a tragic car accident about a year ago. Liz was not only Danny’s wife but also his best friend, and together with her death he feels as if he has lost his son as well because Will simply stopped speaking. Then Danny gets himself fired from work and his landlord starts to threaten to harm him and some of his body parts because he’s late with the rent. There are no jobs out there for Danny, so it’s not a wonder that, in desperation, and with his last money, he purchases a panda suit and becomes a street performer. Dancing panda. The problem is, Danny can’t dance. However, it’s not the end of the problems because soon Danny is a witness how his son is being bullied. And then Will starts to talk – to the panda.

James Gould – Bourn has created incredible characters, real and authentic and while yes,
sure, they are also a bit clichéd and stereotyped, what with Mark the bully, or Reg the landlord, they work in this book and they are breathing and moving and jumping off the pages. Effortlessly. The background characters were phenomenal – I have never came across such brilliantly written secondaries, and Krystal must have been my favourite. Krystal with her potty mouth that would make any sailor blush, telling things how they are, not beating around the bush, full of glitter and glamour, offending with every word but deep, deep inside she was such a good fairy and I loved her totally. But no matter how much I laughed at their banter and shenanigans, they added tons of depth to the story.
And don’t forget Will’s new teacher! It’s amazing how much attention the author paid to the smallest details, taking care about things and events that we would have probably not spotted. I tell you, this book is perfect. The way the author has dealt with grief and its impact on the affected, the old – new father – son relationship, the challenges life brings is cleverly written, it’s sharp and empathetic. I loved what he did with Will – he created a strong, resilient boy who had weaker moments and I felt for him immediately, but he didn’t make him a victim that can’t stand for himself. Yes, Will was bullied and he suffered but I couldn’t stop admire his inner strength and the ability to not take things so much to heart.
And whatever happened, Danny never gave up, and this is what I really liked in him. He kept things going, not wanting Will to discover how bad the situation is. He wasn’t afraid of work, and nothing was too strange or weird to Danny, his priority was always his son and he did things in a way he though are right.

The writing style, and the storytelling, were exceptionally good. I loved the banter the author used in his story, and I loved the situational comedy. He has perfectly blended sadness and humour together, let’s just think about Ivan and his reactions, Jesus, the moment when they were looking for wood for example had me laughing out loud, and not only because of Ivan and his fears but because of the dialogue between the security people – really, guys, whatever you do, buy this book and thank me later, it’s so, so good, it’s more than good, it’s the best book I’ve read this year. I’d say, be careful Mike Gayle, there is a new author in town! But back to the writing, that was funny without being sarcastic – because it didn’t need to be in that case, and engaging.

The probably only thing that didn’t sit with me so much was the title. I don’t know but it somehow didn’t work, and I’m guessing it was also published as “Bear Necessity”? I must admit I like it much better. Or even “Pandemonium” sounds great to me 🙂 Or “Panda Days”.

About the end… I loved what has happened in the pub, it was so unexpected and so karma – wise, ha, it was simply brilliant. However, I have been expecting something more for Danny, been building my hope through the whole story to be honest – am probably reading too many romances. Sigh. Oh well. Maybe there will be something more from the author about Danny in the future.

I truly adored this book, from the start to the end, and I was sad when I’ve reached the final pages as it’s really this kind of book that you don’t want to end. I can’t remember the last time a book left me feeling so warm inside as “Keeping Mum” did. It was a poignant and also incredibly funny father – son story that had me captivated right from the first page. It touched upon so many important things: grief, hope, friendship, trying to reconnect, trying to keep going no matter what, about second chances. It was absolutely unique story that I’m going to buy in paperback as well to keep re – reading it all the time. Truly, highly recommended!

 

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Meet Me at Pebble Beach by BellaOsborne / Blog Tour

Meet Me at Pebble Beach by Bella Osborne

 

Publisher: Avon 51603024._sy475_

Publishing Date: 28th May 2020

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

Number of pages: 416

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Meet Me at Pebble Beach was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.

Regan is holding a winning lottery ticket.

Goodbye to the boyfriend who never had her back, and so long to the job she can’t stand!

Except it’s all a bit too good to be true…

When Regan gets pranked, she finds herself jobless, homeless and boyfriendless in one fell swoop.

Luckily her friendly seaside community provides a beacon of hope, proving to Regan that sometimes you really can rely on the kindness of others – and one local in particular, a handsome fireman called Charlie, helps Regan realise that this could be her chance for a fresh start.

Armed with a list of ways to change her life, Regan decides it’s time to step out of her comfort zone.

Because – as Charlie knows all too well – life is for living . . .

A feel-good summer read, perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Veronica Henry and Cressida McLaughlin.

Rating: four-stars

 

Regan’s life – with a boring job, uneventful, and with an obnoxious boyfriend – is about to change, because Roegan has just won a lottery. So she quits her job, ends things with her boyfriend and moves out of his flat. Only then it turns out Robyn hasn’t won the lottery… She has to think, and quickly, what to do now, get a new job and find a place to live. But it’s not so easy. And on top of that there is also Charlie whom she’s just met, when she tried to bite her friend’s from work, Alex, head off… Well, on the other hand, Robyn’s life is not boring and uneventful…

Regan was a character that I couldn’t completely put my finger on. On the one hand she was lively, hilarious and open. On the other hand, she’s an adult but still goes through life without thinking, offering only minimal forethought (or any). Some of her decisions and reasoning didn’t sit with me at all, I couldn’t get behind them. I had a feeling that the constant wrecking ball she experiences in her life is of her own doing because she never has a plan, she never thinks things out. Nevertheless, her evenings with Kevin and her life – approach made her a much more likeable character. And I liked the fact that she, actually, never gave up! There was not a hurdle that she wasn’t able to overcome, and even the fact that she was technically homeless didn’t stop her from starting her own business. A business that she needed a kitchen for. And what was also nice, was the fact that Regan was developing and growing throughout the whole story – she was still hot-headed and often made up her mind on impulse but in the end I had a feeling that she’s also matured, without losing her spontaneity and inner joy.

The romance aspect was truly well written. There was this usual will they/won’t they but you actually couldn’t be sure if they will because of one very important problem. I personally kept everything crossed for the happy ending because I loved Charlie, however the author has written her story in such a way that you could expect any ending.

I was very thankful for the setting in this story – Brighton, a lovely seaside town that also showed the other, darker side. The writing is of a very high quality, beautifully capturing the setting but also going deep on feelings and emotions. It’s vivid and colourful and the whole story is easy to read.

There were moments that the book was too dramatic for my liking, as if the author tried too much, but it must be the old cynic in me that made me roll my eyes at the drama. Don’t get me wrong, pretty please, I know what the author wanted to achieve here and the things she has written about ARE very important and thought – provoking but maybe I simply didn’t expect them in this kind of book? I was all about sunshine, butterflies and bunnies (or hedgehogs in that case) and the dark side of the story simply took me by surprise and yes, it felt a bit too forced. Nevertheless, the story of Kevin broke my heart a little, and the scene when he tries to protect himself will stay with me probably forever.

Altogether, it was a lovely, emotional, funny and also poignant book about second chances and that there is always a way out. It will make you smile and it’ll give you a pause for thought. It’s not all sugar – coated bed of roses but it’s also about homelessness and terminal illness for example, but written with a light touch. I enjoyed it and spend some relaxed hours in the characters’ company. Recommended!

 

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A Wedding at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry / Blog Tour

A Wedding at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

 

Publisher: Orion 53548894._sy475_

Publishing Date: 28th May 2020

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

Number of pages: 368

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

You are invited to the wedding of the year . . .

Robyn Moss just wants a simple wedding. A quiet ceremony; a picnic on the beach; dancing barefoot on the sand until the sun goes down. But first, Robyn has one very important thing to do – before embracing her future, she needs to uncover her past. As she sets out to find her birth mother, a tangled thread of love, loss and betrayal that ties together three generations of women begins to emerge.

As her wedding day approaches, Robyn discovers that where there is heartbreak, there is hope – and that in the end, love will always win.

Escape to the beach with Veronica Henry’s captivating new story of three women, three summers, and a wedding that changes everything. The must-read novel of summer 2020!

Rating: four-stars

 

Robyn and Jake are newly engaged and are expecting their first child. Robyn has always known that she’s adopted but it never kept her awake at night. However, as she’s pregnant and about to get married, she starts to feel the need to know her true history, to find out who she really is. She’s torn, as she really loves her adoptive parents and sister, and she doesn’t want to hurt them, but the need to know is strong. Deciding not to tell them and confessing only to her friend Gwen, Robyn starts to search for her birth mother and her life is about to change. But not only her life – the future is going to bring challenges, second chances, new beginnings to all those around Robyn, as they are also hiding secrets.

Robyn was a lovely character, complex and really well developed, and the author has given her a truly distinctive voice. She knew what she wants and if she wasn’t sure, she wasn’t afraid to risk, but she never wanted to hurt other people, so this is why some of the decisions were so hard for her. She was also hard – working and caring, and her relationship with Jake was strong and certain. But there were things in her life that lately started to bother her. I adored what Veronica Henry has done here, with Robyn searching for the truth – there was no time wasted on searching here and searching there, there was no will she/won’t she and it was so refreshing, guys, I really liked that instead we got things straight out – it simply worked brilliantly in this story. I also loved with how much empathy and gentleness the author has written those parts, taking all Robyn’s feeling under consideration, and not only Robyn’s but also other characters’ involved, without judging them but giving them a chance to tell things how they really were.

There is also a great bunch of supporting characters in this story, though I’m not sure if we should call them “supporting” at all, as they truly felt like the main characters, with their stories as important as those of Robyn and Jake. They are stories with depth, full of ups and downs, the characters are facing so many challenges in their lives, they all struggle and have issues and that makes them feel so down – to – earth and realistic. I liked that, for a change, they were wise but not patronising, and they really wanted good things for each other, they were supportive and simply kind people.

There were many subplots running through the story, it was not only Robyn and her journey, but I have never felt overwhelmed, stuffed with too much information or confused. The author has taken her time introducing all the characters and their background stories to us, there was nothing rushed and this is why it was so seamless and so smooth to read.

The writing style is so very Veronica Henry – flows effortlessly, it’s lyrical, almost poetic, it’s beautiful but also chatty and engaging, and the descriptions are vivid, bringing the places and characters to life. And of course the setting is gorgeous, Everdene on the coast is so well and evocative described, the author has a real way with words.

“A Wedding at the Beach Hut” is a thought – provoking story filled with family dynamics, unconditional love, friendship and all the trials and tribulations that come with them. It is such a gentle, relaxed read, with enough twists and without too much drama, a truly perfect read for a nice, tranquil afternoon as it is so easy to lose yourself in this story, it captures your attention immediately and envelopes you, with every turned page taking you with on the characters’ journey. I’d say that perhaps there were moments that it was too relaxed, too peaceful, too slow but somehow the pace simply corresponded with the plot. It is a great piece of contemporary fiction, emotionally engaging escapism, true to life and realistic and I highly recommend it!

 

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The Staycation by Michele Gorman / Blog Tour

The Staycation by Michele Gorman

 

Publisher: Trapeze 53126367._sy475_

Publishing Date: 1st June 2020

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

Number of pages: 336

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 23.07.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

An uplifting, hilarious read about a cancelled holiday… and how love, laughter and fun can always be found close to home. For fans of The Holiday, Lindsey Kelk and Sarah Morgan.

Two families. One cancelled flight. And a last minute house swap…

Things get desperate for strangers Harriet and Sophie when they become stranded with their families in Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Each woman has her own reason for really really really needing the family holiday they’ve anticipated for months. But an unruly volcano has other plans for them. When their flights are cancelled, the families swap houses and discover that sometimes the best things in life happen close to home.

This ash cloud has a silver lining, even if no one can quite see it yet.

Rating: four-stars

 

Sophie and Harriet don’t know each other but they’re going to become acquainted soon – as soon as their flights that were supposed to take them on the much needed holidays in Italy are cancelled because of a volcanic ash cloud. Well, they already got chatting to each other, right, so why not swap houses? Harriet will get her city break in London and Sophie her spa treatments on a small goat farm in a very rural Gloucestershire – it’s a win – win, right? Because what could possibly go wrong?

It quickly became clear that both characters have some secrets and troubles. Sophie’s were more plain to see for us but not so for Sophie, and Harriet’s were a bit more hidden and she allowed us to unpeel layer after layer of her problems. At the beginning I had huge problems to distinguish who is who and to whom they belong, to be honest, and I’m not sure whose fault it is, probably mine, as I absolutely wasn’t in the mood, so apologies book.

The friendship between Harriet and Sophie blossomed somehow suddenly and unexpectedly, at least for me, once they were only swapping their houses and then, after few phone calls, they were calling each other “friend” – did I miss something here? It happened completely out of blue to be honest. But whatever. I liked both of them, Harriet and Sophie, and I think Harriet even more, because under the shell there was a brilliant, funny and clever woman hiding. They were both so very different but this is what made them so interesting. While Harriet is a successful solicitor, Sophie is a stay – at – home mum. While Harriet is über – organized, Sophie is much more laid – back, following the rule there’s luck in leisure. While Harriet is brisk and efficient, Sophie is chaotic and very accommodating. Absolutely brilliant to have such different characters. Both their husbands are very much focused on their jobs, James as a goat farmer and Dan as a solicitor, but while James was much more laid – back, the more we got to know Dan, the more we were able to see that there is something wrong, that he’s treating Sophie and their two children like another thing on his to – do list, all the time expecting gratefulness. He was absolutely controlling, to the point of booking all Sophie’s spa treatments, without informing her what she’s going to have, and making all the other decisions in a way that his family might have thought they have made them, but it was him, in fact, pulling all the strings. The more I read about him, the more I disliked him. It was not Harriet’s over – efficiency and planning that annoyed me, it was not Sophie with her whatever – attitude, it was Dan that grated on me, such irritating and annoying he was. However, they all, with all their ups and downs and unexpected announcements felt authentic and realistic. And what’s more lovely is the fact that the women were slowly starting to find that their attitudes change and that they started to do something, according to those changes.

But it’s not only the contrast between the characters and their life – styles, it is also the contrast between the settings that is also brilliantly captured, and the author could truly put into words why it is that Harriet struggles at the goat farm, and why Sophie feels out of her depth in London and everything that Dan work brings with it.

The author put the characters through trials and tribulations, challenges and surprises that they both had to overcome. The plot was engaging and simply the idea of the swap has worked in this book brilliantly, and I loved the contrasting settings, the hustle and bustle of London and the peace and lovely community of the countryside – I may be biased, as I myself live in such a rural place, but as much as I appreciated both places, I’d choose the goat farm. Anytime. The author’s writing is fluent, seamless and chatty.

“The Staycation” is a great summery read with much, much more depth than you could expect at the beginning, light but it also dealt with some heavier topics and issues and I really liked the way how skilfully the author has interwoven and integrated them in the plot. There is fun but there is also seriousness, perfectly blended with each other. It’s a story about growing – up, about finding yourself and your own luck and place, packed with laughter, family relationships, and some drama. A great summery read that I truly recommend!

 

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He Started It by Samantha Downing / Blog Tour

He Started It by Samantha Downing

 

Publisher: Penguin 45035333._sy475_

Publishing Date: 30th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 01.10.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.

It’s even harder when you’re all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory—a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won’t stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there’s a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.

But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.

my-review

 

In “He Started It” three estranged Morgan siblings meet again after their grandfather’s death for a road trip in order to become their inheritance. And it’s not A road trip, it’s THE road trip, duplicating the one with their Grandpa when they were children, the one they will probably never forget. There are also some stipulations in the will that they must fulfil, for example that nobody is allowed to end in jail – sounds already promising, no? As all three of them, Beth, Portia and Eddie need the money, and it’s a great amount of money, they of course agree to do it, even though they’re not too excited about it, because they know that everything can happen, they only don’t know how bad it can be… And so they take us on an adventure full of betrayals, secrets, lies and imploding relationships.

This book was filled with characters that were, actually, impossible to like but, as I’ve already learnt, you don’t have to like the characters to enjoy the book – it is more challenging for the reader, I think, to persevere, but this time it fully paid off, as the story was full of twists and turns and it was getting more and more bonkers. I’m not sure if it was believable to me, certainly it was not relatable but maybe this is the strength of this story, so simply make yourself comfortable and go on this roller – coaster journey together with the characters.

I can’t stop thinking that perhaps telling the story, instead of making Beth a narrator, would be a better idea, because we only got her point of view. And she was not the most relatable or the most interesting narrator, let’s be honest. On the other hand, I enjoyed the fact that she was not relatable, her humour and sarcasm, and yes, she admits she’s not perfect, that she’s a cheater – she really kept playing with my mind, and I quickly learnt that I can’t be sure if she’s telling the truth. She was wild, edgy and brutally honest in her opinions. Through her eyes we also learn about her family history and really, the more I read, the more shocked I was. Because the family described in “He Started It” could win a jackpot in the most dysfunctional family of the year contest. Really, guys, the more I read and the more I got to know the whole family, I couldn’t believe how dysfunctional they are and was actually scared to see what more information can wait around the corner. The relationships between the family members, the hate, mistrust and false loyalties… urgh, I tell you, it was not nice, not nice at all.

There were moments that the story dragged on too much, it felt as if the book plodded along, and after many long moments of not many things happening, the author started to throw twist after twist after twist, totally taking me by surprise. But there were also moments that made me roll my eyes. Yes. I know it’s fiction, I know it’s supposed to be a thriller but I still need a certain amount of believability in the book.
And I don’t know, I’m not sure about the end. I’ve finished this book some time ago and still don’t know what to think about it. Isn’t it a bit too… ambiguous?

It was original and refreshing, more bonkers and crazy than a thriller to be honest. However, because of this bonkers and crazy I think it was hard to me to connect with the story. I loved the writing style, it was sharp and fast and filled with sarcastic humour, and the descriptions of the places were brilliant, the author truly brings them all to life. It was full of lies, secrets and twists that kept coming and coming and the characters turn out to be totally different to what we could have thought about them. It’s about siblings rivalry, betrayals, lies and, altogether, dysfunction. It was clever and sharp – observed, oddly addictive and something totally different to what I have expected and I really like the surprise effect it had on me.

 

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We Just Clicked by Anna Bell

We Just Clicked by Anna Bell

 

Publisher: HQ 41gjkvdeiul

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 06.08.2020)

 

Synopsis:

A fabulously funny, feel-good novel that will make you laugh until you cry, for anyone who’s ever presented a perfectly-filtered life online to hide the unglamorous reality.

Izzy Brown has always dreamed of being an Instagram influencer. So when her colleague and fellow Instagrammer Luke suggests they ‘fake date’ to boost their profiles, Izzy says yes – against her better judgement.

Now Izzy’s profile tells the story of a confident, glamorous thirty-something with the perfect boyfriend, and her follower numbers are shooting upwards. So what if Izzy can’t stop bickering with Luke, his habit of checking his quiff in every single mirror is driving her insane, and behind the scenes she’s hiding a secret heartache? Everyone tells a few fibs on social media, right?

But when Izzy runs into Aidan, the mysterious stranger who saved her the day her world fell apart two years ago, major sparks start to fly between them. Izzy’s sure she can have the online success she’s always dreamed of, whilst continuing to fall in love – and heal her heart – in real life. After all, Aidan doesn’t use social media… what could possibly go wrong?

If you loved Sophie Kinsella’s My Not-So Perfect Life, Laura Jane Williams’ Our Stop or Sophie Ranald’s Sorry Not Sorry, you will fall head over heels for this touching and hilarious new novel from Anna Bell, the bestselling author of The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart.

Rating: four-stars

 

Izzy has been dreaming of becoming an Instagram influencer for a long time. She confides in her brother and he encourages her to go for it, to follow her dream. Sadly, it was their last conversation, as Ben then passes away in his sleep from an undiagnosed heart condition. Izzy rushes home, but overwhelmed by grief she panics, and only a random stranger and his kindness bring her safely home on this day.
Fast forward two years and Izzy is still in her boring job, but still trying it with Instagram. The number of her followers is growing, and maybe, just maybe, there can be a proposition that could bring her the dreamed – of status of being an influencer but it’s nothing sure. But then, a chance interaction makes her to team up with a fellow instagrammer and a fake relationship start, giving Izzy and Luke the first taste of Instagram stardom.
And then Izzy meets Aiden again – the kind man who has helped her on the day Ben died – and Izzy starts to feel unsure. Can she have it all? Fame and love? Is it possible to lead two lives: the fake one on social media and a real one?

The story introduces us to a great bunch of characters and some of the most hilarious scenes. Our main character, Izzy, pretends to wear Louboutins and creates outfits of the day but really she runs around in her Converses and brings the clothes back to the shop. She is funny and, actually, honest – however strange it sounds, as she was faking almost everything in her life, but she was honest with herself, I think, she realised that she can’t go on like this for long, and while I may not understand her decisions I still can understand where she was coming from. She has her flaws, she’s not perfect but what I liked is the fact that she realised it and it, in the end, made her feel more realistic and genuine.
Also, as I mostly wanted to shake Izzy and slap Luke, it means that I was invested in the story, so that’s really good. At the beginning the fake relationship was funny and light as it was not hurting other people and I’m not going to go deep into lying, secrets and so on, absolutely not. The behind – the – scenes moments of trying to create the most romantic or interesting background for the perfect photo for their Instagram were hilarious, funny and sometimes even embarrassing. But then, when we started to get to know Aidan, who – let’s be honest – is absolutely perfect without being too meh, I started to feel so bad about Izzy letting Luke go that far. It was crystal clear what’s going to happen, and Izzy knew it to and yet she wasn’t able to stop the charade, digging her own grave actually, and it – the fake relationship and above all Luke – started to drive me insane and desperate.

It took me some time to get into the book and to let the character grow on me, and it’s because a) I’ve read a book with very, very similar plot lately and b) I am probably one of the few people in the world who really, truly don’t get the whole influencer thing. So there, I’ve said this, sue me but well, people, just get up and go to work. And this is why I couldn’t get Izzy as quickly as I’d like, her dreams of becoming Instagram star were simply alien to me. However, the author has hit the spot on the use of social media and maybe we simply need more such books, light – heartedly showing that sometimes we become so wrapped up in our social media bubble that the “likes” start to be our real life, that we forget to look from above our computer screens and realise that another important life moment has just passed without us realising.

The writing style is lovely and easy to follow, full of lightness and humour and some of the scenes were really hilarious. Anna Bell has for sure way with words and she’s a great and funny story – teller.

It is an easy, light – hearted and relaxing read that from the moment the male character enters the scenes, so from the very beginning, screams: you know how I’m going to end and what’s going to happen. Yes, I know the idea of women’s literature, of rom – coms etc and I know the heroine is not going to end with an alien from Mars but with the super sexy and easygoing character that we know she simply has to end with – and it’s OK, no problems here, but I think I’d expected more freshness from Anna Bell, more uniqueness. However, do not get me wrong, pretty please, it was a great and funny story with deeper themes running through it, showing and highlighting the difference between real life and life prepared for the audience, filtered, highlighted, perfect and – let’s be honest – fake. I’ll take my imperfect life any time. The story also touches upon grief and the author has really well captured all the feelings and emotions here, how hard it is and how much it’s connected with bad feelings and guilty conscience. So even though it was not completely my kind of read, I enjoyed it and I’ll recommend it to you anytime you’re looking for a feel – good, uplifting story.