The Time of Our Lives by Portia MacIntosh

The Time of Our Lives by Portia MacIntosh

 

44073128Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 12th April 2019

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

Number of pages: 235

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 11.07.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Love is in the air…?

Luca is used to being the ‘single one’ at weddings – it happens, when all your other friends are engaged, married or taken. But when she bumps into Tom, her friend from university who broke her heart into a million pieces, she finds herself wondering what could have been.

It’s ten years later, surely she should be over that Tom by now? So why is he looking even more gorgeous than ever – and why doesn’t he seem to be able to keep his eyes off her either?

And as the champagne flows and old secrets resurface, Luca realises that perhaps the time to take a chance on love and life is…now?

The laugh-out-loud new novel from bestseller Portia Macintosh!

Rating: three-stars

 

Luca is fine. Or isn’t she? Attending another wedding of her uni’s friend she realises that she’s always the single one, another are engaged/married/otherwise romantically occupied. She starts to feel that time moves on while she stays in place. When she also meets Tom at the wedding, her ex/not ex – boyfriend, she starts to think and evaluate her life.

The story actually unfold on a wedding day, and it was incredibly how much can happen in a day – well, especially when you are as accident – prone as Luca, that is. The present intertwines with flashbacks to the past and we slowly get to know the characters and their lives as a group. Also, it turns out of course that there are, and were, many secrets, misunderstatements and plays. So as much as Luca is our main character, the others play as important role in the book as she is, because they helped to shape her. However, maybe because of the relatively huge number of characters, I had a feeling that they were not good enough developed. They were there, but there was not enough depth to them and to be honest, I haven’t felt connection with them. I think Luca tried to be über – cool and nonchalant in her life. She was your normal, everyday girl, sharp – mouthed and generally happy with herself but I couldn’t warm completely to her, to be honest, not sure why.

The humour this time was also not so Portia MacIntosh – it felt too flat and there were moments that probably were supposed to be funny, like with Luca suddenly being a bridesmaid and the bride’s wishes and requests but it only felt too overdone. I also think she tried to make it a sitcom – like rom – com, with flashbacks and hilarious situations but, unfortunately it didn’t work.

From the author like Portia MacIntosh I was simply expecting something better, ambitious. I was left with a feeling that she herself didn’t connect with the story at all, it scratched below the surface, was without a depth. There were some moments that saved the book for me though on the whole I was really hoping for something deeper, with the MacIntosh’s hallmark humour and sharp observations. Altogether, “The Time of Our Lives” was a light – hearted, easy and fairly straight – forward and predictable read but nevertheless a read that will keep you reading. The pacing was right, the dialogues dynamic and it dealt with the fact that you should fight for things that you feel will make you happy.

 

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Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Ayesha at Lat by Uzma Jalaluddin

 

40133941Publisher: Corvus

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A big-hearted, captivating, modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice, with hijabs instead of top hats and kurtas instead of corsets.

AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been overtaken by a demanding teaching job. Her boisterous Muslim family, and numerous (interfering) aunties, are professional naggers. And her flighty young cousin, about to reject her one hundredth marriage proposal, is a constant reminder that Ayesha is still single.

Ayesha might be a little lonely, but the one thing she doesn’t want is an arranged marriage. And then she meets Khalid… How could a man so conservative and judgmental (and, yes, smart and annoyingly handsome) have wormed his way into her thoughts so quickly?

As for Khalid, he’s happy the way he is; his mother will find him a suitable bride. But why can’t he get the captivating, outspoken Ayesha out of his mind? They’re far too different to be a good match, surely…

Rating: three-stars

 

Ayesha is a substitute teacher though what she really wants to do is write poetry. Ayesha is single and happy, she’s not interested in arranged marriages, accompanying her younger cousin on this way will suffice. But then she meets Khalid… But she hasn’t met his mother yet…

The book had a great potential, and I appreciated the humour very much but there were moments (in the end, too many moments) when I had a feeling that the author simply tried too hard and overdone it. The book started very promising, and I found myself smiling at the characters’ antics but then it only went downhill for me, I found my interest slowly fading and I started to skip some parts of it, with the many subplots and the action that was almost like in a gangster movie, and a) it was too much for me, too hard tried on making the story hilarious, b) the subplots were not developed enough for my liking, they were not properly addressed, just like that left hanging.

The romance between Ayesha and Khalid was humorous and also head – banging – on – the – wall desperate. When one of them finally got to their senses, the other was not interested and other way round. It was for sure a rocky way but altogether I liked that it was not so straightforward and obvious, and the problems they had were for sure different to the problems that the characters in other books usually have.

The characters could be better drawn, I think, because they were either brilliantly good or awfully bad, and this made them feel a little too exaggerated and too obvious in their behaviour. Sheila and Khalid’s mother are the best example here, but also Hafsa, the spoiled, judgmental and shallow one who actually wasn’t charming but only annoying. I am also not so sure about Khalid himself – on one hand we can say that his character saw development, on the other hand I’m not so sure because well, he changed, but did he really want to change?

The story touched upon many, many issues and probably this was the problem, maybe the author should focus on less than relationships, family ties, arranged marriages, family disownment, politics, stereotyping, racism at the workplace, theft and many, many more. It was simply too much. I had a feeling that if the story stuck to tell a romance, without all the other mosque and conference issues, it would be enough. I adored getting to know the colourful Muslim traditions, even the arranged marriages and the arguments that people involved in them had, their pros and cons, and I really got it all, it was really great to see the close – knit community and I’d really love it if the book focused more on this part of the characters’ lives.
There were too many moments that felt too drawn out and exaggerated for my liking. But altogether, it was a feel – good, funny and light story that had it moments. The writing style was lovely, so chatty and eloquent and the author is a great story – teller, that’s for sure, and she lets her imagination run wild.

 

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion

 

cover154110-mediumPublisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

Series: The Rosie Project #3

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 09.01.2020)

 

Synopsis:

The Rosie Result is the triumphant final instalment of the internationally bestselling series that began with The Rosie Project.

——

‘The phone call signalling an escalation in the Hudson Adjustment Problem came at 10:18 a.m. on a Friday morning . . .’

Meet Don Tillman, the genetics professor with a scientific approach to everything. But he’s facing a set of human dilemmas tougher than the trickiest of equations.

Right now he is in professional hot water after a lecture goes viral; his wife of 4,380 days, Rosie, is about to lose the research job she loves; and – the most serious problem of all – their eleven-year-old son, Hudson, is struggling at school. He’s a smart kid, but socially awkward-not fitting in.

Fortunately, Don’s had a lifetime’s experience of not fitting in. And he’s going to share the solutions with Hudson. He’ll need the help of old friends and new, lock horns with the education system, and face some big questions about himself. As well as opening the world’s best cocktail bar.

Big-hearted, hilarious and exuberantly life-affirming, The Rosie Result is a story of overcoming life’s obstacles with a little love and a lot of overthinking.

Rating: five-stars

 

In “The Rosie Result” the Tillman family has moved back to Australia as a result of Rosie getting a new job, leading a research project. Don takes a position as a genetics professor at the university, their son Hudson is already 11 years old. However, one meeting with the school principal after another and it quickly turns out Hudson has a hard time settling in. Following a kerfuffle at the university, Don decides to take time out and hence “Hudson Project” is born – a project aimed at helping Hudson to develop life skills that will make him fit better in the society and make friends. This all, of course, in typical, analytical Don’s style.

As much as I’d love to see a little bit more of Rosie in this book, Don has probably compensated it. I love his methodical and logical approach to everything and the fact that words “not possible” don’t exist in his vocabulary. I’ve never supposed he’d be such an involved father but he went into “Project Hudson” with all of his heart. “Project Hudson” involved among others helping him making friends or increasing his competences. The way he goes about things is so heart – warming and uplifting. He’s still very direct, literal and single – minded but that’s Don for you, and he’s also incredibly kind. I think I have a weakness for Don Tillman.

I adore Rosie and Don’s relationship. Rosie is so laid – back and always guides Don when he struggles. They are open and incredibly honest with each other and it’s such a refreshing change to have characters who can talk with each other about literally everything. They complement each other brilliantly. And their unity in all things Hudson was simply exemplary and enviable – when we argue with my husband it’s usually about our different ways of raising our daughter.

I totally appreciate the fact that the author didn’t choose the most straightforward ways for his characters. Being diagnosed with autism doesn’t only mean that you can have excuse for certain behaviour, it often means being labelled, stereotyped, people making assumptions, and he let his characters to made the decision for themselves. He showed different views when it comes to Autism and the scene of the discussion that Don and Rosie attended was incredibly interesting and eye – opening as well. The story gives us plenty thought for food, showing benefits of some treatments and also, what I liked most, focusing on the abilities rather than weaknesses of the children being “on the spectrum”, showing their individuality and specialty.

Graeme Simsion writes about some serious issues but with a light touch and in entertaining way. His writing style is exceptional – it’s witty, it’s clever, the banter between the characters is fast and intelligent and he so brilliantly captures the eccentric personalities.

“The Rosie Result” was quirky and charming, brilliantly balancing heavier issues with humour, uplifting and thought – provoking. It didn’t touch only upon Autism, but also the issue of working mothers and belittling them at their workplaces, or at least treating them differently, racism and sexism, bullying, violence – and while they really sound important and rather heavy, the author knows how to write in a light, entertaining way and still leave us thinking. This book was an excellent conclusion to the series, series that I’m truly going to miss. However, I’m left with a feeling that everything is going to be okay with Don, Rosie and Hudson. Highly recommended!

 

 

The Passengers by John Marrs

The Passengers by John Marrs

 

40718386Publisher: Del Ray

Publishing Date: 1st April 2019

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 30.05.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

Rating: three-stars

 

“The Passengers” takes us to a world with self – driving cars… You don’t have to do anything, you are a passenger that simply sits in the car. Traffic congestion, pollution and accidents has gone down significantly. The cars are, of course, unhackable… That is, until one day, the system IS hacked. Eight “passengers” are on their way to different locations when suddenly they’re told their cars are taken over and soon they’re going to die in an accident. The governing body that oversees the driverless cars and the whole of AI technology are contacted and they, as well as some of the normal people serving in a jury, are to choose who of the 8 people should be saved and why. It is all, of course, streamed to social media and the general public also gets involved. The race against time begins – is it possible to save those people?

There was a great cast of characters. Among the passengers we have a refugee woman, an Indian woman with a family that was abused by her husband and who doesn’t speak English, a wife and husband of ten years, both in two different cars, a pregnant woman, a famous actress, an army veteran and a young man who’s down on his luck. Each of them is trapped, their routes being taken over, their destination programmed. After two and a half hours one of them will live, while the rest will die. A group of jury members, who are actually investigating who’s at fault when there is a car accident and people die (and it’s almost never the car’s fault!), are dragged into the hacker’s game. The only jury member who makes a stand against the hacker and the other members is Libby, a mental health nurse with a great dislike of the driverless cars.

It was a great story about manipulation and the dangers of technology. It was horrifying to see how easily you can manipulate people, showing them this what you want them to see, and actually how people react, where their morals lie, how easy it is to led them. I was very involved in the characters’ lives though I didn’t allowed myself to judge them, waiting for the outcome. And the fact that the author actually didn’t care which of the character should die, not falling onto pieces over them, was a great and refreshing change. He also brilliantly captured the mob mentality on social media and on the streets.

But. And there is a “but”, sadly. For me the book has a great premise, it started brilliantly and the development was also great, though I must admit that there were already moments that it seemed to me that the author had a great idea but then wasn’t sure how to direct it furthermore, how to bite it to make it thrilling. And then came the end that was a disappointment for me. I was expecting a mind – blowing, fireworks ending but it simply felt flat and not complete, not wrapped up. It seemed as if the idea petered away, and I’m really sad about this as I was hoping for so much more from John Marrs. Don’t get me wrong, please, I was hooked to the pages, I vibrated together with the characters, I wanted to punch some of them in their faces and kept everything crossed for the others, and then it was as if the balloon has deflated. Sadly.

But altogether, it was a fast – paced and full of twists and turns story and although it touched upon some difficult and thought – provoking issues, it was an easy read, surprising you with the development of the story. The author has brilliantly captured the future world – he made it scary and dangerous and it really freaked me out to see that people not only allow the electronic devices decide for them but they’re also not afraid to play with other people’s lives. It was accomplished and unsettling and I am so truly sorry and also sad that it didn’t work for me – I wanted to love this book but I also wanted more substance and better execution. However, I know there is so much potential in John Marrs’ writing, his books are original and unique and I’ll be reading whatever he writes in the future.

 

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

 

31930640Publisher: Zaffre

Publishing Date: 11th April 2019

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

Number of pages: 448

Genre: Mystery, Crime

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover (out on 16.05.2019)

 

Synopsis:

What if the people we trust are the ones we should fear? The breakout thriller of 2019 that will make you second-guess everyone you meet.

We all know them. Those who exist just on the fringes of society. Who send prickles up the back of our neck. The charmers. The liars. The manipulators. Those who have the potential to go that one step too far. And then take another step.

Jessamine Gooch makes a living from these people. Each week she broadcasts a radio show looking into the past lives of convicted killers; asking if there was more that could have been done to prevent their terrible crimes.

Then one day she is approached by a woman desperate to find her missing friend, Cassie, fearing her abusive husband may have taken that final deadly step. But as Jessamine delves into the months prior to Cassie’s disappearance she fails to realise there is a dark figure closer to home, one that threatens the safety of her own family . . .

Set over a long, dark winter in London and perfect for fans of HE SAID/SHE SAID, THE DANGEROUS KIND is at once a gripping thriller and a stunning portrayal of the monsters that live among us.

Rating: three-stars

 

Did you know that 1 in 100 people fall into the category of “potentially dangerous”? It means that they’re very likely to commit a crime. Do you know who could this be? Your neighbour? Who, of the people that surround you, might be a potential danger?
“The Dangerous Kind” explores this topic. It starts with an encounter that turns into something dangerous. We then follow the BBC presenter Jessamine, who is asked to look into a disappearance of a young woman, and the story of Rowena, a thirteen – year – old girl, a very dark und unsettling tale of her life.

It was hard for me to get into this book. There were many characters introduced to us and I really wasn’t sure on whom I should focus. The author has also chosen to minusculely and meticulously describe everything – how the characters looked like, what they wore, the colour of the sky and how many leaves there were on the trees, and to be totally honest it was too much for me.

Jessamine was a character that stood out. She was feisty and was not afraid to break the rules to find the truth. She was honest and determined and often wasn’t afraid to put herself in danger. All the other characters were impressively well written, adding tons of tension and making you ask questions. They were all flawed, they made many mistakes, were troubled. Rowena’s story was heart – breaking, literally, reading about her life was incredibly sad and also made me feel so angry – because those things really happen. Jitesh’s narration, however, and I know his character has a purpose in the story, but it was still somehow strange, I wasn’t sure of its purpose and I’d be able to live without this subplot.

I must admit that while some of the subplots and reveals were not surprising for me, there were also some that took me by surprise indeed – I don’t want to tell here which is which as I don’t want to write any spoilers here but let me just tell you that there were moments that the author truly pulled the wool over my eyes. I liked how all the threads eventually start to come together.

As much as it was an important book, touching upon some very, very important and controversial issues, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I’ve already read many novels like this and not much could surprise me here. Sure, please don’t get me wrong, it was shocking and I gasped more than once when reading it, and it tugged at my heartstrings, and it was sad and brutally realistic but there weren’t many things that I haven’t read before. However, it was a thought – provoking thriller. It could be – you must be aware of this – upsetting for some, as it explores children sexual abuse or domestic violence however with sensitivity and without being too graphic, and thanks god for it. The writing style is assured and I had a feeling that the author really knows what she’s writing about – the research was done brilliantly and you can see that O’Connor cares deeply about the things she writes about, that they’re important to her. Hats off to the author for writing about such hard hitting storyline, about discussing uncomfortable truths. Recommended!

 

No – One Ever Has Sex at a Wedding by Tracy Bloom

No – One Ever Has Sex at a Wedding by Tracy Bloom

 

43465865Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 29th March 2019

Series: No – One Ever Has Sex #4

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

Number of pages: 260

Genre: General Fiction, Humour

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

In Katy’s opinion, weddings should follow some basic rules:

1) No-one should ever have sex. Of course. The married couple has the rest of their lives for that, and the guests should be too busy partying.

2) If you are heavily pregnant (as Katy is) you should obviously not be invited to three weddings in the space of one summer. Your husband’s accident-prone best friend, your attention-seeking colleague, your 73-year-old mother’s marriage to her Spanish toy boy – all without even an alcoholic drink to make them bearable.

3) During the speeches, it should not be revealed that you had a secret one-night-stand with one of the other guests.

4) Instead of laying bets on the length of the best man’s speech, guests should not be laying bets on whether a marriage will be in ruins before the end of the meal…

But this summer, Katy is lucky enough to be the special guest at the weddings that break ALL of the rules. What could possibly go wrong?

Rating: four-stars

 

Katy is pregnant with her second child and has a problem – there are not only many weddings looming in the future, but Braindead had inadvertently, during his groom speech at his wedding, let the cat out of the bag about the situation that has happened many years ago, and now Alison has kicked Matthew out. So it’s not only that all the friends feel obliged to bring them back together, there is also the joint wedding of Daniel and her own mother. Oh boy.

Dreams comes true, ha? So many of the readers always wanted to read more about Braindead and here we are. “No – One Ever Has Sex at a Wedding” follows the group of our old friends but while the other books were mostly about Katy and Ben, here the author focuses on the other characters as well, and you know what? I really enjoyed it. I’ve got my dose of Katy and Ben but I also satisfied my curiosity when it comes to Matthew, Alison, Braindead, Daniel and co. This time Alison kicks Matthew out and everybody feels obliged to help them see the sense. Each of the characters is involved – Katy because she feels guilty, Ben because he has no other option, Daniel because he loves to be the centre of attention, Ian because he wants to have his flat for himself again, Braindead because he was the reason Alison found out and, as you can expect, chaos arises. But it’s a brilliant chaos, funny and heart-warming, and while it may not be a read that’s going to stay with you for long, it’s a pure entertainment.

This is already a fourth book in the No – One Ever Has Sex and I am not sure if I would advise you to read it as a stand – alone. Simply, you’d miss too much on brilliant reads, but also, even though the most of the key plots from the previous reads are mentioned briefly, I still think that to fully enjoy the story and understand the characters (I’ve noticed some of the reviewers were annoyed with the nickname “Braindead” for example – but those were the ones who haven’t read the previous books before) you should read the books in the right order.

It was a quick, entertaining read that was like a sitcom. There weren’t many detailed descriptions and the events were happening one after another without long and unnecessary introductions, it was more dialogue – orientated and believe me, there were some brilliant conversations throughout the story, the banter was quick, sharp and hilarious. However, guys, this book is not only laugh, there are also some more poignant moments and I liked how the author balanced those moments. Some of the speeches were simply beautiful and unforgettable.
Altogether, “No – One Ever Has Sex at a Wedding” was a funny, undemanding read with a hidden depth, full of shenanigans and embarrassing situations about families, relationships and great friendship, about sticking together through thick and thin. Truly recommended!

 

Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe

Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe

 

40664387Publisher: Viking

Publishing Date: 28th March 2019

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

Number of pages: 288

Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

 

Synopsis:

‘When people in the village heard I was about to start working in the city they tried to unsettle me with tales of woe. The sun, blotted out by the tall buildings, couldn’t shine and the rain was poisoned by the toxic fumes that poured from the sock factories. My skin would be covered in pimples from the hell of it all’

So begins a young woman’s journey to adulthood. Lizzie Vogel leaves her alcoholic, novel-writing mother and heads for Leicester to work for a racist, barely competent dentist obsessed with joining the freemasons.

Soon Lizzie is heading reluctantly, if at top speed, into the murky depths of adult life: where her driving instructor becomes her best friend; her first boyfriend prefers birdwatching to sex and where independence for a teenage girl might just be another word for loneliness.

In Reasons to Be Cheerful Nina Stibbe shows her extraordinary gift for illuminating the vital details which make us human. She is that rare writer who makes us laugh whilst reminding us of the joy, and the pain, of being alive.

Rating: four-stars

 

Lizzie Benson, who we met in “Paradise Lodge” and “Man at the Helmet”, finds a job as a dental nurse to a horrible, incapable dentist JP Wintergreen. As it turns out, Lizzie is rather good at the job, she even undertakes some dental work herself. She also moves into the flat above the practice, becomes a fan of the women’s magazines she finds in the waiting room and learns a dental technician she falls for.

The characters were hilarious, but at the same time believable and relatable. Nina Stibbe has nailed the distinctive voice of Lizzie brilliantly and also, her characterizations are perfect and engaging. It was a great joy for me to read this book as it was the third one in the series and I loved to see the characters again – I’ve already grown fond of them and there is something special in them all – you may not like some of them but you still care about them. They’re all brilliantly crafted, no matter if they’re the main or the background ones.

This book is full of ridiculous situations but it doesn’t mean that it is not believable, because it is. Maybe it’s a bit overboard, maybe it’s a bit over the top, maybe we need to read it with a pinch of salt but this is what I expect from Nina Stibbe. The events simply work here, with this bunch of eclectic characters, and it seems natural. The author is great at observing and pays incredible attention to details, and this is what makes the book so outstanding – it might be not the quickest read, the pace is rather slow but the sharp observations and dialogues simply make it an addictive and hooking read. And let’s not forget the dry, sarcastic humour – it’s simply brilliantly clever.

Nina Stibbe brought back the 70s and 80s – music, the way people dressed, the cars. The references were there, the characters spoke like people in those times. This story will be so relatable to many because it touches upon growing up and not really knowing what it is you want to do with your life, and it shows that it’s also OK to simply find your ways as you go.

“Reasons to be Cheerful” was a brilliant and – yes! – cheerful read. It made me smile, it made me laugh, it made me cringe with embarrassment and I loved it. It was a witty, brutally honest and bitter – sweat novel, touching and poignant about coming of age, about family, relationships and grief. It’s brilliantly chaotic but this is why I liked it so much, and I loved the writing style – it’s straight to the point, it’s dry and it’s almost reportage – style but it works perfectly and Nina Stibbe is a great story – teller. If you’re in a need for a smile and chuckle and bonkers characters, do not hesitate – Nina Stibbe is the right person and her books sync up to this descriptions perfectly. Highly recommended!