The Lying Room by Nicci French

The Lying Room by Nicci French

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 44182513._sy475_

Publishing Date: 3rd October 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 02.04.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

*** THE BRAND NEW STANDALONE NOVEL FROM THE MASTER OF PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE ***

Neve Connolly looks down at a murdered man.
She doesn’t call the police.

‘You know, it’s funny,’ Detective Inspector Hitching said. ‘Whoever I see, they keep saying, talk to Neve Connolly, she’ll know. She’s the one people talk to, she’s the one people confide in.’
A trusted colleague and friend. A mother. A wife. Neve Connolly is all these things.
She has also made mistakes; some small, some unconsciously done, some large, some deliberate. She is only human, after all.
But now one mistake is spiralling out of control and Neve is bringing those around her into immense danger.
She can’t tell the truth. So how far is she prepared to go to protect those she loves?
And who does she really know? And who can she trust?
A liar. A cheat. A threat. Neve Connolly is all these things.
Could she be a murderer?

Rating:   three-stars

 

Neve Connolly is a married graphic designer, household’s provider, as her husband does work from home but no money is coming in from him. Between this, work, her three children, lack of money, Neve injects some unexpected thrill into her life by having an affair with her boss. Once she receives a text from him, in which he asks her to meet in his flat. Only, she finds him dead on the floor, most likely killed with a hammer. In her panic to protect her family from the consequences of her infidelity, she cleans – up the flat to remove all traces of her. And then the waiting starts – was she able to eliminate the evidence? Did she forget something? Yes, she did! She left something in the flat but when she comes back, it’s gone – as well as the hammer!

It was a difficult book, I still – after a bit more than a week after finishing it – am not sure how I feel about it. It started really good and I was truly invested in Neve’s life that was a real drudgery and I felt for her and her situation, then the discovery of Saul’s body, but then the story went downhill, with monotonously describing every single detail of Neve’s life in a tad flat style. There was actually not a lot happening, and the whole atmosphere was one of depression and desperation, and the credibility of the story was… rather doubting. I mean, I think that police should really solve the case in a few hours. The characters were also not too likeable, I had troubles to warm to them and it didn’t happen, and I missed more about the whole thing with Mabel. Neve herself was supposed to be incredibly friendly and warm, everyone wanted to be her friend but I never got why – there was actually nothing in her indicating these attributes. The ending of the book, ie. finding the murderer, it also didn’t sit well with me, I don’t know, I had a feeling that the author has simply lost an idea and took this character, out of the blue, to be the killer. No, I didn’t guess who did it, but the final reveal made me go “erm, what? How come?”

I missed emotions in the writing style. It felt so polished and pedantic, with the author paying a great attention to all of the details, to the point that it was too monotonous, but without feelings, very object – focused. The plot development is immaculate and the tangled web of deceit, lies and revenge is neatly interwoven into it but it is simply to clinical.

It was a story full of lies and misunderstandings, with a few turns and twists but it missed the mark for me. This was my first book by Nicci French but I’ve heard so many great fantastic things about her books, and so I thought, here I am for a treat. And at the beginning it was like this – a shocking, captivating start but in the end there was too much that didn’t work me, sadly.

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Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna

Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna

 

Publisher: Sphere 46281093._sy475_

Publishing Date: 24th September 2019

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

Number of pages: 336

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 05.03.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

You are cordially invited to the wedding of the year, at the famously luxurious Serenity Spa & Resort on the Californian coast . . .

Ginger is an overworked, under-pampered mother of three who’s barely holding the family together when she learns a secret about her daughter that could ruin everything.

Lulu is a wealthy retiree with four ex-husbands, and a fifth on the way.

Emily harbours a dark secret, which she’s become expert at forgetting with the help of a bottle of wine.

Kate is a powerhouse lawyer with her life in order – except for one little problem that won’t go away.

Only twenty-four hours later a man is found murdered.

All Detective Ramone knows for certain is that these four women sit calmly across from him, offering four very different confessions, each insisting they acted alone.

Why would they confess to the same crime? Only they know the answer – and they’re not telling.

A sharp, twisty and utterly addictive suspense novel that is perfect for anyone who loved Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, I Invited Her In by Adele Parks and The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine

Rating:  three-stars

 

Three college friends meet up at a luxurious Serenity Spa and Resort in California for another friend’s wedding. Their friendship has mostly fallen apart but nevertheless, they’re making their way to the wedding celebrations that are supposed to take one whole week – Whitney is getting married in the right way, no?
However, it immediately becomes clear that a man has been killed at the resort and along with Lulu, related by marriage to the groom and befriended at the hotel, all the women claim to have killed him. Why? What has happened?

Each of the characters is different, they face different challenges and I liked this variety, even when I couldn’t connect with them as much as I’d like to. I mean, they were really interesting, normal characters, they kept supporting each other when it was needed, even with their friendship disintegrating over the years, but they simply felt too repetitive, and I think the author could have written them in a sharper way, instead of making them so unhappy with all their shortcomings in life.
Ginger is married to Frank, they have three children and their family life is rather exhausting, and money is also short supply. She has to do extra shifts at a hotel she’s working in to be able to attend the wedding, and her relationship with her teenage daughter Elsie is unravelling. Emily Brown is trying to come to terms with a dramatic past, has a drink problem and is the one to have sex with a man she has only met on the plane. Her friendship with Ginger has been jeopardized years ago, when something happened. Kate Cross is, on the surface, a happy, successful lawyer with no problems, a partner in a New York firm and has a great boyfriend. Under the surface though it looks totally different, her boyfriend Maximilian Banks dumps her right after arrival to the Resort, in reception, after years of trying for a baby he has enough. They all get to know Lulu at the hotel. Lulu, married for the fifth time, loves her husband with all her heart but she’s afraid he’s going to leave her for another woman. The truth is different.
All the women are different, but all have problems, troubles and keep secrets, trying to live up to the expectations and not wanting to admit to each other that their lives are not beds of roses.

I am a new reader of Gina LaManna, so I didn’t know what to except, though I was hoping for something Liane Moriarty – worthy (as stated in the premise and why I actually requested this book). And yes, the book started brilliantly, and I was incredibly intrigued how it’s going to develop, however it quickly went downhill. It started to be repetitive and there was actually nothing happening, it felt flat and as if the idea run out. Yes, there are similarities between these books but let’s be honest, “Big Little Lies” is on absolutely different level.

There were some moments that made me nod my head, as they were so relatable, and some that made me smile, especially the banter between Ginger and her daughter, and the interviews between the Detective and the characters – they were, I think, the best parts of the book, thanks to the characters and the way they approached them.

Nevertheless, it was a quick, entertaining read, a story filled with bigger and smaller dramas, lies, unconditional love, abuse, friendship and being ready to sacrifice a lot. The friendship is very honestly portrayed, with all the ups and downs, grudges and rivalries.

Motherwhelmed by Anniki Sommerville

Motherwhelmed by Anniki Sommerville

 

Publisher: One More Chapter 47194568._sy475_

Publishing Date: 5th September 2019

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

Number of pages: 395

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 02.04.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A laugh-out-loud funny and confident must-read novel that everyone will be talking about! For fans of Dawn O’Porter, Bryony Gordon and Daisy Buchanan.

Rebecca is 42, has a beautiful child and a wonderful husband. But she just hasn’t been feeling herself recently…

Rebecca thinks a great night out should involve a packet of Marlboro’s, six double vodkas and snogging a colleague. Not gormlessly drinking a zero-alcohol No-hito while Instagramming a vegan chicken wing.

Rebecca wants to ride on a Harley Davidson, to crowd surf till dawn, then collapse in a heap after swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels . . . not sit in a soul-destroying meeting surrounded by ‘blue sky thinking’ and men half her age who interrupt all the time.

She’s had enough of commuting to an office that is so cold people have to wear blankets all day. And she can’t help asking herself why her adorable daughter must spend all week in a containment zone for pre-schoolers.

Rebecca wants to feel that there’s MORE coming her way, rather than less . . .

In short – Rebecca wants out.

But where to?

Rating: three-stars

 

In “Motherwhelmed” we follow Rebecca through her daily life: jumping between job that drains the life out of her, feeling guilty of missing so much from her daughter’s life, frustrated and unhappy with her marriage… Just all the normal things that are called life.

I had a feeling that the author wants to throw off all of her problems on the fact that she’s a mother. I’m sulky and bad tempered – because I’m a mother. I have a bad hair day – because I’m a mother. I had a row with my husband – because I’m a mother. As if those things would have happened if she wasn’t a mother. What I missed in this book were most certainly the simple things that make motherhood special. Yes, it’s exhausting, being a mum, juggling work and home and shopping and thousand other things, but it is also satisfying and having your daughter put your arms around you must be the best feeling ever. Rebecca would be much more believable and likeable if she showed an emotion or two towards her daughter, in her presence. Other than that, she was an okay character, trying to keep calm while wanting to explode and worrying about everything, doing her best to juggle being a working mum.

I also didn’t find it funny. I’m sorry, but I found it flat and lifeless After seeing the huge hype about this book I was hoping I’m going to love it, that it’s going to be another hilarious novel about motherhood, but it turned out to be self – absorbed and dry. Not humorous. I wasn’t expecting twists or turns, as in real life there are not many of them, but I was expecting a coherent and solid story. I had high hoped for this book, being sure that it’s going to be so relatable to me, but sadly not this time. However, do not feel put out by my review – you may enjoy this novel much, much more.

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis

 

Publisher: Avon 47914729._sy475_

Publishing Date: 5th September 2019

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

Number of pages: 376

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Prepare to fall head over heels. The perfect book for fans of Josie Silver, Richard Curtis, and anyone who ever fell in love with the wrong person…

What if you couldn’t get away from the one who got away?

This December, unlucky-in-love Jess is following her dream and moving to Notting Hill. On the first night in her new house-share she meets Alex, the guy in the room next door. They don’t kiss under the mistletoe, but there’s still a spark that leaves Jess imagining how they might spend the year together – never mind the house rule against dating…

But when Jess returns from her Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started seeing Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into the man of her dreams – and, apparently, the woman of his.

Jess is determined to move on and spend the year falling in love with London, not Alex – but what if her heart has other ideas?

Rating:  three-stars

 

Jess moves to London from her home in a small town after finding out her boyfriend is cheating on her. Luckily, her friend Becky inherited a multi – million dollar home in Notting Hill and offers Jess one of the rooms for almost nothing, renting other rooms to a group of random friends. As Jess has just bagged  a job in publishing, she’s delighted with the offer. And also, she’s instantly attracted to one of the other tenants, Alex – but Becky has a no – relationship between the tenants clause. But does Alex feel at all the same? What with this other woman coming out of his room one morning? 

The characters were nice enough, even though they felt too one – dimensional but still, they were likeable. I liked Jess and Alex, he was the über – perfect boyfriend candidate, but was also a driven young man with a passion, willing to chase his dreams instead of settling for the wrong partner and job. However, I missed the chemistry between these two, to be honest, and perhaps this is why I was not so invested in their slowest. romance. ever, I’d love more dynamic interactions between them, something that will suggest that they really fell head over heels in love with each other – it was too lukewarm for my liking, too cautious. 

I think the author tried too much to write a perfect, festive story and has overdone on fluffiness and general goodness. The book started really well but then it felt too repetitive and too slow. I appreciated the attempt of getting into Jess and Alex’s heads during their walks through London but in the end they didn’t bring anything new and I started to skip them. I also think that reading about Alex’s reasons of changing his job once or twice was absolutely OK but I didn’t have to read about it in every chapter. 

I can’t help myself, the comparison to “One Day in December” by Josie Silver is simply unavoidable. I wasn’t looking for the same story but the cover and the synopsis to “We Met in December”, as well as the title, have the same vibe and I was looking forward to a lovely, romantic story. However, this book left me disappointed. The beginning was good, and I was fully invested in reading but continually I was losing my interest as the story was losing its impact. Nevertheless, I kept reading, holding out hope that something would happen but the downfall was the lack of action and the fact that it felt so clichéd. There is not a lot happening in there, and as much as I can accept the stories to be predictable, here you knew from the page one how it’s going to end and in the end I found myself willing the book to just cut to the chase.  

Altogether, it was a nice enough, comfortable read, a book that you know what to expect from it and getting it all the way, a cute, warm and quick novel. Yes, I was hoping I’d enjoy this book much more which sadly wasn’t the case, but I’m sure that you may find it a great choice for yourself. Yes, the book had tons of potential but ended up falling short for me. When the book looks like one of the best books written, sounds like one of the best books already written and the author’s name is Rosie Curtis, I was hoping for some Notting Hill vibes. I didn’t hate it, of course not, but it’s not a book that will stay with me for long. 

The Swap by Fiona Mitchell / Blog Tour

The Swap by Fiona Mitchell

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 45180031._sy475_

Publishing Date: 19th September 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 304

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) 

Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

***The second novel from Fiona Mitchell, author of the stunning The Maid’s Room***

Two women. Two children. But whose is whose?

When two strangers, Tess and Annie, undergo IVF at an American clinic, their embryos are mixed up and each woman gives birth to the wrong child.

The women only discover the devastating error three years later. Tess wants to swap the children back; Annie doesn’t. As the pair wrangle, neither of them expect what unfolds.

my-review

 

In America, 3 years ago, Annie and Carl had IVF and became parents to a beautiful girl Willow. In the same place, at the same time, Tess and Matteo, who live in Surrey in England, underwent the same procedure and got Freddie. Freddie, however, doesn’t look like their other sons and has behavioural problems, and moreover, they opted for the gender selective IVF and were promised to have a girl. Tess has never bonded with her youngest, so when after an accident blood tests come back with the information that they couldn’t be Freddie’s biological parents, she’s not surprised. But what has happened? Whose child is Freddie? And can it be that Tess has daughter that she doesn’t know about?

I must admit it, I was waiting holding my breath to see how the story is going to end, what is going to happen. It was an unimaginable situation, I was all the time asking myself what I would do if something like this happened to me and I’ve never found an answer, this is why I was so intrigued to see which way did the author choose. The tension, the uncertainty were absolutely unbearable. That is, until one moment, a moment when something happened and one of the characters changed her mind, and I though, and? Is this it? For me, the story declined in this moment, lost it impact and yes, I felt disappointed. It’s a shame, because I was hoping for something different. I am not saying that I was expecting THE answer, because probably any answer would be the wrong one, I simply was hoping for something different after such thought – provoking, controversial story. I think i was waiting for a catastrophe to happen, for things to explode, for confrontations and decisions, and I think this is it what the story lacked.

 I was generally curious about this book. Being a mum myself I was interested in feelings and emotions of all involved – I wasn’t expecting drama, but real people with real emotions. However, it never moved above a certain level of emotions – and just imagine this whirlwind of feelings you will for sure go through after finding out that your IVF has worked only to discover three years later that you were given the wrong embryo and you’re raising – theoretically – a strange child. Right? Heart – break guaranteed. But the characters, Annie and Tess, weren’t easy to read and honestly they were a bit too emotionless about this whole situation, and it was really difficult to engage with them. They were both very different characters, Annie warm and inviting, Tess cold and unwelcoming but I couldn’t bond with any of them, not sure why.  And at one point I stopped feeling sympathy to these women. 

The writing style was lovingly adjusted to the story’s subject matter. It was delicate, subtle and never judging but clear and compassionate. The contrast and the differences between the families were sharply captured, making you think what would be better for the children. I was also all the time wondering how, actually, could it ever be possible to perhaps give up your child after bonding with them for years, because someone made a mistake? Yes, sometimes the narration felt too overdone, sometimes it was too descriptive or focusing on things that were irrelevant to me and the dialogues felt too artificial.

But it was not only a story about swapping embryos. It touched upon many other, heavy and difficult issues, such as gender selection IVF, child behaviour, grief, and altogether, it was impactful, challenging novel and the way the characters reacted, and how their reactions contrasted, added tons of dimension to it. It was intense and insightful and very well handled,  thought – provoking and not easy but different story that is going to make you think, to make your thoughts go overdrive.

 

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Villa of Sun and Secrets by Jennifer Bohnet

Villa of Sun and Secrets by Jennifer Bohnet

 

Publisher: Boldwood Books 46667319

Publishing Date: 8th August 2019

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

Number of pages: 336

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

It’s never too late to live the dream…

Carla Sullivan’s 50th birthday is fast approaching when her whole world is turned upside down. Discovering her feckless husband is having yet another affair and following her mother’s death, she is in need of an escape. Finding an envelope addressed to her mother’s estranged sister Josette in the South of France gives Carla the perfect plan.

Seizing the moment, she packs her bags and heads to Antibes to seek out the enigma known as Tante Josette. But as the two women begin to forge a tentative relationship, family secrets start to unravel, forcing Carla to question her life as she has always known it.

A heart-warming tale on the beautiful French Riviera, which will keep you guessing. From the bestselling author of Summer at Coastguard Cottages, The Little Kiosk by the Sea and Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera. Perfect for the fans of Jill Mansell and Fern Britton.

Rating: three-stars

 

Carla Sullivan has just buried her mother and while clearing out her things, she discovers a letter from her Aunt Josette in France, an estranged twin sister of her mother. When she also discovers that her husband David, in spite of all his promises, has been cheating on her again, Carla decides to buy a ticket and travel to the South of France to visit her aunt. Because of the rift between the sisters Carla doesn’t know much about Josette and her life and she’s desperate to find out more about her, and maybe her family. What she doesn’t expect is that she’s going to open a Pandora box full of lies, secrets and heartache.

I would have really liked the characters more if they weren’t so overdone – they said and did all the right things in the right moments and solved one problem after another systematically and quickly, without big drama. They were either black or white, and I missed the shades of grey on them. Nevertheless, they were lovely described and there were life in all of them, they were not afraid to leave their comfort zones and adapted quickly to new conditions. Carla and Josette were strong and determined women, having courage for changes in every single moment of their lives.

There were, though, elements that couldn’t agree with me. The story started to feel too over – dramatic, but not in a positive way, it started to feel too far – fetched, it was not like reading a book but watching a soap – opera like “Dynasty”. The characters were so nice and kind and understanding that there came a moment that I thought I couldn’t take any more. I know we always want our characters to finally start to talk, but these here were simply talking too much, over – analyzing and discussing everything with each other, so no wonder that the story felt too repetitive, as we were getting a version of the same situation from almost every single character. There were no secrets, everything was in the open and the author didn’t keep me guessing.

The secrets have been revealed one after another, keeping the pace of the story on the right track and altogether, it was an easy, light and quick read, set in one of the most stunning places ever. I loved the setting of the south France that was so easily brought to life by the author. It was a story about fresh starts, finding your roots, discovering what is really important in your life. It was full of drama, secrets, loss, disappointment and hope.

Living My Best Li(f)e by Claire Frost

Living My Best Li(f)e by Claire Frost

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 45718284._sy475_

Publishing Date: 5th September 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

~*~ This heart-warming and funny novel is the perfect balm for the Insta-weary mind ~*~
Bell
had it all, the perfect job, the perfect partner, and on their 10th anniversary she thought she would get the ring… But two weeks later, Bell wakes up to find herself still clutching a wine bottle and the memories of Collin saying those dreaded words: ‘We need to talk…’

Determined to get on with her life before she hits 40, Bell starts following ‘inspirational’ people on Instagram. Her favourite lifestyle guru is @mi_bestlife, whose life seems Insta-perfect but if you were to zoom out of the heavily filtered picture, you’d see reality strike.
Millie is a single mother, with a cute son called Wolfie, whose father is absolutely useless and not much on the scene. Instagram and the profile she has built up online is more ‘best lie’ than ‘best life’. It isn’t until Millie and Bell’s paths finally cross that the two women begin to understand what is real and what it is that they really want.

Rating: three-stars

 

“Living My Best Li(f)e” follows the nearly 40 years – old Bell and a little younger Millie. Bell’s relationship of ten years has just fallen apart and she’s in a slump, and seeing the glamorous and wonderful lives of other people in social media obviously doesn’t help. That is, until she meets Millie, who is social media influencer. Her Instagram feed, with photos of her gorgeous son and brilliant clothes, provided with “hashtag blessed”, is unceasingly popular. The two women instantly click and they form a strong friendship.

I’ve been waiting impatiently to read this book and was over the moon the receive my review copy few months ago and started to read it immediately. However, sadly, it turned out that it wasn’t for me. I had a feeling that it simply is a book out of thousands of others, with nothing really special to make it unique. I really liked the concept – we all know we shouldn’t believe in everything we see online but still, we so easily like to get sucked into the glamour of social media – the idea and potential were there but it lacked in development and execution. There were also too many subplots for my liking and none of it was treated with enough depth.

I didn’t warm to the characters, to be honest, not sure why, they just simply didn’t work for me and I didn’t find them too believable. Bell is about to turn 40 and thinks her life is running smoothly, until the moment her boyfriend decides to leave her after many years of being together. Millie is in her mid – thirties and is a single mother, after falling in love with a football star Louis and then realizing that he’s the most unreliable father in the world (but who names their child Wolf?) Millie is also the so – called influencer, showing her followers world full of expensive dresses that she has to return to the shop because she can’t afford them, and lovely photos of Wolf before he throws a tantrum, but nobody must know this, right? There were also background characters, but they were too absent from the story for me to remember them. The friendship between Bell and Millie happened so quickly that I had a feeling that I’ve missed something.

All the sub plots were so easy resolved and things happened very conveniently, and also very unexpectedly, like the problem with the community centre that appeared just like that, out of the blue. The storyline was a rather predictable one however I liked the writing style and the message hidden between the lines.

Nevertheless, it was a heart – warming, uplifting and easily written story with many important topics running through it, touching upon love and hope, heartbreak, bullying, loneliness. However, even with those heavier topics, it still stays a feel good story with a friendship in the background and a feeling of belonging and togetherness. There is also the message in regards to social media, and it’s really nice that the author has picked it as a guiding theme of her debut novel.