Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady

Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady

35546268Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 18th July 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 384

Genre:  Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that working with an ex is a terrible idea…
Annie Elliot never expected her life to turn out this way: living with her dad, working as an accountant – surely the least glamorous job in Hollywood?! – and dodging her family’s constant bickering.

Landing a job as a producer on a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice seems like the piece of luck she’s been waiting for. Until the cast is announced, and Annie discovers that the actor playing Mr Darcy is Austen Wentworth: the man she’s spent nearly a decade trying to forget.

Not only is Austen her ex – but while Annie’s life has stalled, Austen is Hollywood’s hottest property…and has just been voted World’s Sexiest Man.

With nowhere to hide, there’s just one question. Now the one who got away has come back, should Annie stand by her pride? Or give into Austen’s powers of persuasion?

Rating: two-stars

Oh my word, guys! Excitement pure alert! When I’ve spotted that Brigid Coady is back with her new release I really couldn’t hide my joy – I adored Brigid’s previous book, “No One Wants to be Miss Havisham”, it was one of the funniest reads two years ago and all this time I was waiting for a new book from this author. As soon as it whizzed to my kindle, I started to read it, no need to mention that I was full of hope and expectations.

But. Guys. And I am so, so sorry. I’ll make it short and painful – unfortunately. I was disappointed. Why? Well, because of the main character, Annie Elliot. Firstly, the name Annie just doesn’t sit with me, which of course is not the authors’ fault, but writing “Annie” in almost every single sentence didn’t help. Secondly, I think I have never before come across such a pushover character, and I really started to fully dislike her. Every second page she was patronised by her sisters and father in the worst possible way. The way especially Imogen and their father talked to her was on the lowest level and yet Annie never spoke back, she just allowed them to use her – hell, she was providing for them, she paid all the bills, she organized their jobs and they were all the time unhappy, spent her money and spoke to her as if she was the last dirt, as if she was worthless, not respecting her at all. I wanted to shake her so much but eventually I gave up on Annie. When she decided to finally take those matters in her hands it was already much, much too late, for me the book was destroyed. Then on the other remaining pages Annie was reminiscing about her relationship with Austen and why it was, in advance, doomed to failure. It was a never – ending, long whinge, this narration.

This might have been a try on creating a modern version of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”, with the Elliots being the theatrical dynasty, but for me it failed completely. I’m really, really sorry for this because I’ve been expecting so much from this story. Fortunately the author’s brilliant, light and approachable writing style is still the same, so at least this saved the day for me a little. I hope though that the next book by the lovely Brigid Coady will be again my cup of tea.

The Summer House by the Sea by Jenny Oliver

The Summer House by the Sea by Jenny Oliver

 

33870917Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 18th May 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

A brand new summery story about returning to your past and finding a new beginning from bestselling author Jenny Oliver!

Nestled on the Spanish coast, bustling café Estrella features in every one of Ava Brown’s happiest memories. It’s where she tasted her first delectably-chocolatey churros, fell head-over-heels for her first crush – where she has been her happiest. So the chance to spend one last summer in her grandmother’s house, is one Ava can’t refuse.

Once the heart of the sleepy seaside village, the café now feels more ramshackle than rustic. It’s time to bring back the lethally strong sangria and mouth-wateringly delicious tapas – and before Ava knows it, she’s thrown herself into bringing the café back to life – a summer project her grandmother would be proud of!

But once summer is over, can Ava really say goodbye to Spanish seaside life? Or could this be the new beginning Ava didn’t realise she needed…

Rating:  two-stars

So. I’ve requested “The Summerhouse by the Sea” because of few factors. First, I’ve already read several books by Jenny Oliver, and I know she’s the perfect author to turn to when you are a need of a cute story filled with feelings and emotions. Second, I liked the synopsis – it sounds great and intriguing and I was desperately in need of a sunny setting. Third – the cover. It’s gorgeous, so eye – catching, I love those brilliant, pastel colours. I couldn’t wait to eventually start reading it.

But. Boy, am I happy that I’ve finished it – and probably only out of stubbornness and because I’ve skim – read the second half. I am so, so sorry but this novel just didn’t work for me. At first I was surprised that it focuses not only on Ava but also on her brother Rory, but of course it doesn’t mean that it was wrong, well, in fact it turned out that Rory’s story was much more interesting than Ava’s. Sorry. The plot was very, like in very, predictable. I couldn’t connect with the characters, there was no depth to them, everything felt so superficial, and there were so many of them. It was as if Ava was just staying on one place, while Rory and Flora were moving and doing something with their lives. The beginning of this story was brilliant – Ava has a near death experience with the number 281 bus and I thought, wow, this is a promising start, but then it just went downhill.

Altogether, it was probably a warm, cosy story about new beginnings but not for me. I wanted so much more. It felt flat, there was no sparkle and it just couldn’t keep my attention. Of course I incredibly appreciate the descriptions of the beautiful setting and the delicious food, all those churros, paella and sangrias, which the author vividly brought to life. However, no matter what, please do try this book for yourself, probably it just didn’t work for me and you can find yourself falling in love with the little village in Spain and all the characters.

The Vets at Hope Green: A New Start by Sheila Norton

The Vets at Hope Green: Too Close to Home by Sheila Norton

 

32491675Publisher: Ebury Digital

Publishing Date: 13th April 2017

Series: The Vets at Hope Green #3 (read my review of part 1 here part 2 here and part 3 here)

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 80

Genre: Women’s Fiction,  Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle

Synopsis:

PART FOUR of a serialised novel – a heartwarming and inspiring story about living the simple life and the joy of animals.

The last few months have been hard for Sam. Her dream to work as a vet is slowly becoming reality, and she is beginning to encounter the struggles and heartbreaks that someone in a job like this must face.

But what’s more heartwarming and inspiring than a litter of new piglets? On a call to a farm with Joe, Sam can’t help but feel a sense of renewal in her own life as she witnesses one of the most glorious and natural processes of all.

Sam’s thoughts inevitably turn to her own child – will she be able to cope when the baby is born? And with her love life so shaky, will a fatherless child turn out all right?

Rating: 2/5

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

So, “A New Start” is the fourth and last part to the Vets at Hope Green series by Sheila Norton. Yes, I did enjoy those short novellas, they were light – hearted, incredibly easy to follow and they were written in a way that’s just drawn me in and I wanted to know what’s going to happen in Sam’s life.

However, this last part disappointed me. Already the previous part was very short and this one was also so short, but while in the third part there was all the time something happening, here I had a feeling that everything is incredibly rushed. Don’t get me wrong, all the things were very neatly wrapped up but for me there was no sparkle to the writing, it was as if the author wanted to seal things up and just be done. Actually, there probably couldn’t happen anything new as all the opened threads needed to be closed, so in fact there were really no surprises. However, it was not the biggest problem for me. What spoiled this novel for me was something that I’ve already suspected is going to happen. Namely Sam and Joe. My opinion about Joe didn’t change a lot, yes, there was a lot of things going on in his life but for me it was not justification for him behaving like a spoiled child, being so incredibly moody, changing moods like a girl changes clothes, quoting a famous song. Then the way he was with Sam, blank her and ignore her because he was thinking she was with David, being OFFENDED with her because of this fact, even though he was still married to Andrea! What the hell??? How old are you, Joe, and what’s your way of thinking? But then happened this worst thing that I was expecting [SPOILER]– that Joe and Sam will stay together and I’m sorry but I couldn’t help but feel that Joe’s wife was not cold enough in her grave and they were already making plans for the future. Sorry. Out of place. (hide spoiler)]

I am incredibly, incredibly sad that this conclusion to the series didn’t work for me. No, it didn’t not work for me, I just didn’t like it. I love Sheila Norton’s writing style and the way she told this story, I liked the idea, I liked the place and the villagers (which there was almost no mention of in this last part, a pity!) but it just wasn’t for me this time. However, I am glad that I had a chance to have “The Vets at Hope Green” being introduced to me. It was a sweet, easy and uplifting story altogether.

Christmas at the Cornish Cafe by Phillipa Ashley

Christmas at the Cornish Cafe by Phillipa Ashley

 

30361314Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 13th October 2016

Series: The Penwith Trilogy #2 (read my review of #1 here)

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

Number of pages: 287

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

The festive, feel-good follow-up to Summer at the Cornish Cafe.

Christmas will be slightly less turbulent than summer, won’t it? Demi certainly hopes so.

She and Cal are keeping their fledgling relationship under wraps for now. But then Kit Bannen, a hunky, blond – and somewhat mysterious – writer arrives at Kilhallon Resort, and not everyone is charmed. Cal is sure that Kit is hiding something. But is he the only one guarding a secret?

Demi is busy baking festive treats for the newly opened Demelza’s cafe, but when Cal’s ex Isla arrives to shoot scenes for her new drama, Demi can’t help but worry that things aren’t quite over between them. Kit flirts with both women, fuelling Cal’s suspicions that Kit has hidden motives for staying on at Kilhallon. Then Cal has to go to London, leaving Demi and Kit to decorate the cafe for Christmas . . . all by themselves.

A storm is brewing in more ways than one. As surprises unfold and truths are uncovered, can Demi and Cal finally open up to each other about their feelings?

This second novel in the bestselling Cornish Cafe series is the perfect book to curl up with this Christmas.

Rating: 2/5

I’m so surprised that this book didn’t work for me at all, especially as I think back to the first novel in the series that I rated with 4 stars. Here everything just dragged on, it was full of things – but things that for me were totally insignificant, and so on the other hand I think you must be a VERY talented author (and I mean it seriously!) to be able to write a book about those things. I must admit, I couldn’t wait for the words “The End”. It may sound harsh, but this is the way I felt when reading this story. All seemed so far – fetched there and there was not a single thing that took me by surprise or that I felt was new and fresh. I am really sorry. Really. I want all books to work for me. But here everything was just so slow and to be honest, if I read this part without reading the first one, I’d think, who the hell are the characters? So whingey and unhappy and creating problems where there weren’t any – and it really surprised me, because I enjoyed the first part! I only hope that it was an slip and am looking forward towards “Confetti at the Cornish Cafe” – though it’s a long wait, as it’s out in May!

Christmas at the Dog & Duck by Jill Steeples

Christmas at the Dog & Duck by Jill Steeples

 

31309400Publisher: Aria

Publishing Date: 22nd September 2016

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

Number of pages: 260

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

A perfect, feel-good romantic novel to curl up with this Christmas. A story of new beginnings, love and friendship. Perfect for the fans of Jenny Colgan and Lucy Diamond.

Ellie Browne has left behind her high-flying job in London to return to the charming Buckinghamshire village of Little Leyton. Working shifts at The Dog and Duck and running her own doggy-day-care business, Ellie’s looking for a much simpler way of life and a good old fashioned Christmas.

But Little Leyton’s landscape is changing; Johnny Tay, Ellie’s ex, wants to pick up where they left off; sultry property developer Max Golding, has moved into the village and is ruffling feathers; and rumour has it that the pub, which holds a special place in Ellie’s heart, might be sold. Suddenly, life’s looking a whole lot more complicated…

Can Ellie juggle her emotions and commitments in time to celebrate Christmas?

 Rating: 2/5

I haven’t read any Jill Steeples’s books before so I was really happy to start “Christmas at the dog and Duck” – the synopsis sounds so promising, and the gorgeous Christmassy cover caught my eye immediately. However, it is this kind of book that in fact only ends at Christmas, and it felt everything but Christmassy to be honest, which for me personally was not a problem.

So the story follows Ellie, who’s just opened her dog – walking business, and it also centres around The Dog and Duck pub where she also works her shifts. Quickly, I started to have a feeling that I’ve read it before, there was nothing fresh or new that took me by surprise. It was a very predictable read – and the business with the dog walking was done before by Cressida McLaughlin, and dealt with in a much better way in my opinion. Also, there was one thing that bothered me incredibly and I was so short of putting the book away and never picking it up again, and it is the refugees problem. There are so many mixed emotions around this subject and I just think that a chick – lit fiction is not a place to deal with it, and I just had a feeling that the author wanted to score something with it putting it in the book. Moreover, it was mentioned, there was one or two scenes in Calais and what? And nothing. No changes done, nothing significant happened, nobody was saved so why put it in the book at all? I’m sorry if it sounds harsh or if I am offending somebody’s feeling but those are my feelings.

Each character mentioned in the book, even the most background ones, those that entered the scenes for a moment, needed a very long and very detailed introduction including how they look like, what they wear and what they do, and I was asking myself, why? Do we need it? For me it also seemed that the author didn’t really know what she wanted to write about. There are some ideas and some sub – plots and they started and then ended abruptly and a new idea was introduced to us, so we have the charity thing, then suddenly there comes the situation with the pub, then Ellie wants to give up her dog business…

There was also something in this story that annoys me personally so much – when the characters interact, I need them to really talk, to reply to each other immediately. I don’t like it when there is a page or two of inner monologue or weighing up the answers between a question asked and a reply as it really makes me to forget the question, and it was the case here. So many words – and yes, I DO know it is a book and that books consist of words, hello – but words that I could do without.
I’d really love to give this book more stars, as the writing style was really lovely, but taking into consideration that I mostly skim – read it, I just can’t. We just didn’t rub together, me and the book, however I would love to try other books by Ms Steeples.

Nina Is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

Nina Is Not OK

by Shappi Khorsandi

 

27245625

Publisher: Ebury Press

Publishing Date: 28th July 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction, Young Adult

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 09.02.2017)

 

Synopsis:

Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t?

Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all.

And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before , then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend.

But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…

A dark, funny – sometimes shocking – coming of age novel from one of the UK’s leading comedians. NINA IS NOT O.K. will appeal to fans of Caitlin Moran and Lena Dunham.

Rating: 2/5

I can’t express how excited I was when my review copy of “Nina Is not OK” arrived at my doorstep. I’ve seen some early reviews, I’ve heard incredible praises for this novel and the synopsis was great – you’ve no idea how much I was looking forward to reading it. However, very quickly, I’ve used to put this book down a few times in frustration as I couldn’t believe that I was reading it at all, wondering what in fact am I reading? My biggest problem was with the main character – I just didn’t like her. And it is really hard to like the book and to feel it if you don’t like the main character. Nina was for sure not OK but in my opinion she had all this at her own request. I might have fell for her eventually but to be honest I haven’t seen any remorse in her, she was weak, erratic and she only thought that she’s so “cool”. Yes, I know she was young, she was teenager but we can expect something even from teenagers, right? If I only could see a small sign of will to change I’d give her a standing ovation but for me there wasn’t any. While mostly she was not in control of situation, she didn’t do anything to not to put herself in such situations! She was repeating the same pattern, the same mistake again and again. What kept me reading was the promise that it’s incredibly funny read – but sadly, I haven’t laugh once. I didn’t even smile. I’d rather cringe with disbelief and distaste.

I probably didn’t get this book, but on the other hand I think we can’t dodge comparisons to Louise O’Neill’s “Asking For It”, as the books are relatively similar in plot, which I’ve also read and which gave me a major hangover because it was a brilliant read that I “got”. It happens – sadly. I started reading “Nina Is Not OK” full of enthusiasm, was absolutely intrigued by the synopsis but it turned out that it’s not a right read for me. I appreciate what the author did with this book, she tried to give us a deep insight into Nina’s life, to make us understand her and her choices but I just didn’t buy it.

Nina was a very complicated and difficult character – to like. She wasn’t nice, even in her better moments. Sure, the author gave us a chance to see her when she was low, as well as when she was high, but I think her personality didn’t change a lot and she didn’t learn her lesson. You could feel sad with the way Nina’s life turned out but I personally felt annoyed and angry. But also other characters, I just found some of their actions so unbelievable, for example Nina’s mother, who actually abandoned her moving to another country – I know Nina was 17, but huh? To strike off a daughter because her new husband had got a chance for a better job? Zoe felt like your typical, mean blonde, I couldn’t believe how naive and foolish she is, this character could be so interesting and adding a lot of intrigue but she just felt totally under – developed. Pity.

The story itself felt a little chopped, jumping between scenes and characters, not stopping or concentrating on something particular for longer. It felt so bleak, and it dragged on incredibly and I was blinking hard trying to find something happening. It made me feel depressed and I didn’t find a positive thing in this story, to be honest. The first part of the book feels very repetitive, I really had a feeling I’m reading about the same thing over and over again.
I feel really bad when I’m rating a book so low, especially as it had its points – it was brutally honest and dealt with alcoholism in a very realistic, truthful way, without beating around the bush, which is a great thing. It also shows that rape has many faces and it deals with real family’s dynamics and raw relationships. But no matter how important the book was, I couldn’t feel any connection to it, I didn’t have any positive feelings towards the characters and it is really difficult to enjoy the novel when you feel like this. I am sure the book is going to find its fans, I am only sad that I won’t be one of them.

 

 

What Would Lizzy Bennet Do? by Katie Oliver

What Would Lizzy Bennet Do?

by Katie Oliver

 

Publisher: Carina

Publishing Date: 15th January 2016

Series: The Jane Austen Factor #1

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 376

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 Synopsis:

When your name is Lizzy Bennet, and the object of your affections just happens to have the surname Darcy, it seems fitting that life should imitate art, and you should end up together – right?
So when a film crew arrive to shoot Pride and Prejudice’ at the Darcy estate next door to the Bennet home, and Hugh Darcy arrives home after 8 years away, Lizzy knows that their time has finally come. Until, that is, he introduces her to Holly – his fiancée…

What is Lizzy to do? It can’t hurt that Holly knows nothing about country life, and that her ex-boyfriend and film star Ciaran Duncan just happens to be the main star of the new movie. And it’s clear that Lady Darcy does not approve of Holly either. Lizzy knows Holly isn’t right for Hugh, but can she make him see that and get her Austen ending after all?

Rating: 2/5

 

I had a pleasure to read some books written by Katie Oliver before, and while they are not life – changing, I can remember them as nice, entertaining reads. Each book by this author has something in common with Jane Austen’s books, and while I am not such devoted fan of Ms Austen, thousand years ago I’ve read and enjoyed almost all of her novels, and so why not to read a light interpretation of them? „What Would Lizzy Bennet Do?” is the first book in the author’s new trilogy about three sisters, named after – surprise, surprise – Jane Austen’s characters, who live next to the Darcy’s Manor (yes) and where right now Jane Austen’s adaptation is being filmed. Too much Jane Austen?

The blurb, as well as the title, suggests that Lizzy Bennet is going to be the main character in this story, whereas I found that it was Holly James – the book focused mainly on Holly and her relationship with Hugh. And oh man, please don’t let me start on Hugh. I disliked him with my whole heart. He was pompous, slightly arrogant and concentrated only on himself. I don’t remember how often I wanted to slap him and remind him that it is his fiancée in the same room with him. I couldn’t get the way he was behaving towards Holly and my heart shrank each time she tried to break the ice, when she tried to flirt with him, when she directly asked what’s the problem, and the only things he could say was that they’re going to talk later/they’re not going to talk right now because they are at his parents’ house (SO WHAT???) and somebody might hear/see that they hold hands or – God forbid – kiss!!! Hello? Are you engaged or not? Isn’t it obvious that when your mother put you and your fiancée in two different rooms you sneak in the night to her room? Really, so deprived of humour character, I just couldn’t warm to him.
I don’t know what was the author’s intention, but I disliked Lizzy as well. This whole being in love thing seemed so unrealistic and unlikely and I really couldn’t comprehend what gave her right to behave like this – she was so in love with Hugh Darcy, and it’s okay, you can fell in love, but it happened because he has helped her EIGHT YEARS AGO after the girls’ mother died, when Lizzy herself was sixteen years old, and since then she has dreamed of becoming Mrs. Darcy, even though Hugh moved out, had his own life and they weren’t in touch. Is this really love? Or obsession?
I was also overwhelmed with the number of characters. I had a feeling that every time the author was looking for something to fill the pages, she has just introduced a new character to us. Eventually, I stopped paying attention to who is who and what’s their role in the story – it was really too much for me.
Then we have the Bennet family: the three sisters and their agonized and ever baking scones father. They were all adults, with Charlotte being the youngest one at eighteen years old. Lizzy and Emma were over twenty. So when I kept reading and reading how they called their father „Daddy” all the time, I just wanted to scream. When I kept reading how their Daddy (yes, I did it deliberately) forbad them, as a punishment (!!!) to go to the neighbours, and they obliged (!!!), I wanted to scream. I understand, Austen here or there, but the story took place in 21st century!

The only scenes that put a smile to my face were those with Lady de B., Hugh’s godmother.

The author was all the time adding something new to the plot, more events, tangling the plot, and it slowly started to resemble a snowball getting bigger and bigger, but I am really not sure if this all was necessary

Needless to say, I won’t be reading the other books in the series – I haven’t warmed to any of the main characters, and as the books are going to follow the Bennet sisters’ I don’t see a point in annoying myself again and again. Predictable, too far – fetched, unbelievable, and I had a feeling the author tried too hard to write incredibly funny and entertaining story. Sadly, in my case, it was neither funny nor entertaining, it was mostly annoying and there was nothing new and original, and I figured out the ending very quickly. I think if the author would tone the story down, gave the characters normal names, it would also work. I more than once rolled my eyes at the way the characters spoke and acted, it was too soap – opera – ish for my liking and too unbelievable. I would so love to read something different from Katie Oliver, something that is not a re – telling of Jane Austen because she is a very talented author and I am sure she can write something great of her very own.