The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller

The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller

 

Publisher: Bookouture 48589660._sy475_

Publishing Date: 9th January 2020

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

Number of pages: 327

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

You’ve met Mrs Bright. She’s that nice woman who lives three doors down and always smiles at you in the mornings. She’s planning her thirtieth wedding anniversary with her husband. She wants to travel, read endless books and take beautiful pictures. She’s been waiting for this forever.

For the past twenty-nine years, Kay Bright’s days have had a familiar rhythm: she works in her husband’s stationery shop, cooks for her family, tries to remember to practice yoga, and every other month she writes to her best friend, Ursula, and Ursula replies. Kay could set her calendar by their letters: her heart lifts when the blue airmail envelope, addressed in Ursula’s slanting handwriting, falls gently onto the mat.

Ursula is the only one who knows Kay’s deepest secret, something that happened decades ago that could tear Kay’s life apart today. Ursula has always been the person Kay relies on. Knowing she will hear from Ursula is like being sure the sun will rise tomorrow.

And now Ursula has stopped writing. Three missing letters doesn’t sound like a lot, but Kay gets out her shoebox of notes from her best friend, in case there’s something she overlooked. Ursula seems fine, but the further back she goes, the more Kay begins to question every choice she has made in her life. Which might be why, at ten o’clock one morning, Kay walks out of her yellow front door with a just a rucksack, leaving her wedding ring on the table…

An emotional and heart-warming novel for anyone who knows it’s never too late to look for happiness. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, A Man Called Ove and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will fall in love with this feel-good and moving story that shows you that the best friendships truly last forever.

Rating: four-stars

 

Kay Bright has been married for 29 years. She’s in her early 50s, has two children and is working together with her husband in their family business.
Kay Bright is unhappy.
When her best friend Ursula (called Bear – no idea why, to be honest) moved to Australia 30 years ago, they both promised to write to each other, at least once a month. And they kept their word. However, now, Kay hasn’t heard from Bear for three months in a row and she’s getting worried. She doesn’t want to call – they said that they’re going to use a telephone only when it’s a matter of life and death, so she decides to head to Australia. Which means that she’s going to leave her stagnant life, together with husband, behind. She can’t put into words reasons for her need to leave, but she knows that she can’t live like this any longer, and so she decides to be egoistic this once, and goes. Will she find happiness? Will she find out what’s happening with Ursula? Will her closest ones accept her decisions?

Even though the story is told through mostly Kay and Stella’s points of view, we get to know the other characters as well and we get to see all the different reactions to Kay’s decision to leave her husband of almost thirty years. I liked Kay – she has eventually found the courage to be herself, to start doing things she has always wanted to do but never had a chance to do. Those both subplots, even though revolving around two different women, were actually about the same thing – finding happiness, trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives – and telling them in this way added a lot of depth, I think, the different perspectives of two different generations were absorbing and interesting. However, Stella’s story, or rather her character’s arc, was not my favourite one, not sure why. I know, she was a young person, discovering herself, and there were truly great moments in her subplot, but she as a person, as a character, was simply not clicking with me. Maybe I felt like this towards Stella because, well, she was an adult, right, yet she behaved around her mother like a little girl, not accepting that Kay is allowed to make up her own decisions, even if they seem to be egoistic. Kay has sacrificed everything for her family, and it’s not a wonder that eventually she wanted something back – she wanted her happiness and the feeling of independence back. And Stella didn’t want to give it to her mother, making her feel guilty. And I didn’t like it. Though, of course, her narration has added a breath of fresh air, another perspective to Kay’s story.
There is also, of course, the worry and mystery around Bear, though I relatively quickly guessed what it is, and to be absolutely honest I was not so found of Bear, I didn’t feel I know her well enough to root for her, and while I felt sorry for her it didn’t make a huge impact on me.

In the end, everything was perfectly wrapped up, maybe a bit too tidy? Also, the emotions and feelings, while present on almost every single page and handled with care, were not as deeply captured as I’d like them, they were a bit too two – dimensional. And there were a few moments that felt too forced, not so smooth compared to the rest of the story, or simply things that I could really live without them being put in this book.

This book is really well written, can I say that it’s, I don’t know, so easily readable? It’s chatty, and the pace is just right, flowing well and making it a quick read. The writing style is so vivid, bringing the characters to life, but also the different settings simply came alive through the author’s words.

But altogether, I haven’t expected “The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright” to be so captivating and moving. I really liked the way it was written, interlacing two perspectives, two points of view, giving us a wider view at the same situations and events. It was filled with dry and clever humour and spot – on observations. It dealt with many more topics, going deeper than I expected, which was a rather nice surprise, as it was well worked and coherent. It was a lovely, heart – warming tale about friendship, families, starting anew, second chances, showing us it’s never too late to be brave. Recommended!

The Choice by Claire Wade / Blog Tour

The Choice by Claire Wade

 

Publisher: Orion 41121395._sy475_

Publishing Date: 26th December 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

‘Eat the best, leave the rest! Remember Mother knows best.’

Olivia Pritchard lives in constant fear since Mother Mason came into power. Everything from healthy eating to exercise is controlled by the government, all in the name of health and happiness. Olivia hates being dictated to, but to protect her family she must follow the rules or face a stay in the Shame Box – a perspex box, placed in a public place for everyone to judge.

After Olivia witnesses an innocent woman being violently arrested, she is no longer able to ignore the injustice. The underground rebellion ‘Cut The Apron Strings’ is gaining momentum and for the first time in years Olivia has a choice: keep her head down or join the fray…

Rating: four-stars

 

“The Choice” introduces us to near – future England, led by Mother Mason elected as Prime Minister. Mother Mason, a woman obsessed by healthy living, determined to create a healthy and fit population, has banned all the non – healthy food. You won’t find sugar, chocolate, fat milk, cream, cakes or other fatty products, and baking is now perceived as crime. To make sure everybody obeys the new regulations, everything, the whole nation, are being constantly watched and monitored, and moreover, because of fear everybody is also watching and monitoring – the others. Food is being rationed, fitness club membership is an obligation and weight is recorded on every single occasion.
Olivia Pritchard is struggling with this new reality. She used to be a baker, baked wonderful cakes, so her career no longer exists and her own parents abnegated any knowledge of her and her family. She lives in fear of doing something wrong, something that would hazard her family as Mother Mason seems to know everything. But what choice do you have but to comply? Or maybe there is still a chance to get the old lives back?

“The Choice” is not my usual read but every now and again I more than gladly reach for something that is more out of my comfort zones, and when this book was pitched to me I immediately felt that I want to read it. It turned out to be a dystopian piece of a great work, a story that you immediately feel is going to blow you away, and it certainly did it to me. I found myself almost immediately invested in the characters’ lives, I lived and breathed with them, more than once I found myself wanting to bring Mother Mason down by myself – and it is always a sign of a great read.

I don’t think that the future described in the book is our future, however it nevertheless hits close to home, as the present governments try hard to control us in every possible ways. They’re maybe not as tyrannical and big – brotherly as the one described in the book (yet!) but I think that we slowly start to feel as if we’re monitored much too much. In “The Choice”, Mother Mason has been voted to run the government and she takes this to another level – the health – obsessed woman decides about everything by herself and UK turns to sugar – free, fat – free, diseases – free but also luck – and happiness free country. Everything is rationed, you can’t go shopping without being weighted and measured and without your ID card that stores every single info about you.
Olivia, as a main character, is very well crafted. She’ realistic in all the things she does and says, and she’s not only likeable but also more than often annoying. She used to be creative and loved her life previously, enjoyed her career as a baker, and now she simply can’t come to terms with the new regime, retreating into herself, becoming almost depressed, which is absolutely not a wonder! She’s flawed but also strong and determined, even though this determination of hers made me want to shake her once or twice and tell her to step back, please, as she was making to many silly mistakes.
The other characters are well written as well. There is a relatively huge group of them but you quickly know who is who and to whom they belong. They have their own personalities, more or less well developed, are strong individuals with their own opinions and distinctive voices and are full of secrets. The feeling of tension and of not being able to trust each other was there on the pages, visible and palpable, as neighbours and friends were becoming a threat, and it was brilliantly captured by the author.
I would love a little bit more background on Mother Mason. What has driven her? What has motivated her? Sure, she appears vindictive and I absolutely wanted her down – actually, I was as scared as the characters themselves, really. She was not there but she was also there, an invisible – but also visible – threat. It was a brilliant idea and great use of a character but I’d really love to know what has made her tick this way.

The writing style is addictive, chatty and it quickly draws you in, and the book is written in such a way that after putting it down you really need to look around and check if your chocolate is where it should be. The language used is direct and even though it is vivid and reach, it doesn’t use descriptions as a tool to fill the pages, which was great, as it only added even more sense of fear and distrust. The narration is very descriptive, vividly describing the fictional world that is truly brilliantly created – everything is considered and airtight, starting with the small town of Bunham, its residents, through the markets, Shame – Boxes, the re – education centres and prisons. Yes, there were moments that simply seemed too unrealistic, even for a dystopian novel, things that happened too casually and conveniently that bothered me a bit, but altogether I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would devour it in one sitting if it wasn’t for life getting in the way.

Altogether, “The Choice” was an excellent debut novel, not too overdone, ambitious and unique, much better than some of the debut novels in the same genre so highly advertised last year – well, I personally think this book doesn’t need to be pushy advertised because it’s great and it will simply fly from the shelves.
It was a compulsive, addictive and disturbing read, thought – provoking and realistic, exploring morality, freedom of choice, showing that we always have the Choice, no matter what – we only need to find the courage. It is insightful and controversial and the author explores so many possible scenarios, giving us a great view of “what if”. It shows the strength and importance of family and friends and asks how much the society is able to withstand and where are the limits of oppression, how far is too far. And it is probably more realistic than we may initially think! Hugely recommended!

 

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Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton / Blog Tour

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

 

Publisher: Viking 43812076

Publishing Date: 9th January 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Suspense

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The extraordinary new novel everyone is talking about from the Sunday Times best-selling author of Sister

Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.

It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.

It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.

It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.

Rating:  four-stars

 

Somerset in November. It’s snowing. A rural school – a school that prides itself on being tolerant and accepting, and really being like this – surrounded by woods, and cliffs on the other side, school with theatre and pottery building, with happy children and great teachers, is under siege. There is a masked gunman on the premise who has shoot the Headmaster Matthew Marr. Some of the students dragged him into the library where they’ve barricaded themselves. Others are in their classrooms. Others in the theatre. Others in the pottery room. Police and emergency services are struggling in the snowstorm. Panicked parents arrive as the school finds itself in the lockdown. Who is responsible for the shooting? Who keeps the terrified children and staff hostages?

We are immediately dropped in the middle of action and filled with terror at the events developing in front of our eyes, and the book continues like that. There are very few flat moments, and the pace is quick and full of tension. The author for sure is not shy of raising issues that we should be aware of, that are happening for real, tackling them with gentleness and fairness.

The characters in this book were incredible, so different to what I usually read. There were many of them, so it was impossible to give the background of all of them but I still had a feeling I know them completely, the author has given us enough info, and I loved how courageous they were, both the teachers and the students. Rafi, the refugee from Aleppo, is the one who has recognised an explosion in the woods and informed the Head, ready to sacrifice everything to save his little brother Basi and his girlfriend Hannah. While Hannah is in the library, doing her best to care for the Headmaster, Basi is gone – he’s not with the younger children being evacuated from the beach. The teachers – Jacintha, who’s reading poetry with her class, Daphne – dress – rehearsing “Mackbeth”, and the one looking after the youngest children in the pottery class that is, in fact, the most vulnerable place to be right now, with a gunman pointing his gun at the children, try to preserve a degree of normalcy and my heart went to them on every single occasion, totally in awe of their bravery and them being so selfless.
It’s my first book by Rosamund Lupton and I am absolutely thrilled how well she has portrayed the characters, giving them personalities, making them human, filling them with real and genuine feelings and emotions in times that are so testing for everybody. The stories of the main characters are complex and told with fascination.

So, and now I’m not so sure if it’s really good, or maybe not, but often, quite often, I wanted to skip some of the passages simply to see what’s going to happen next. I have to admit, I skim – read the parts describing the experiences of Rafi and Basi – I know they were there to add more dramatic tension, to give the story depth, but I personally could easily live without those parts.

“Three Hours” is an addictive book, heard to put down, with a tension growing and the overwhelming feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen. The fact that the timeline for this story is so short makes it even more chilling, you can’t help but count the minutes for yourself, hoping that the police knows what to do. Because of this fact, it was really fast paced and really, guys, I hold my breath more than once and sometimes I was afraid to turn the page – you won’t be able not to feel involved in everything that’s happening. It explores all the possible feelings and emotions, is full of claustrophobic feeling, is raw and genuine and powerfully described – a tale of courage, showing how selfless and brave people can be in moments of fear and angst. Highly recommended!

 

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If I Never Met you by Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 41qbp1hsgrl._sx322_bo1204203200_

Publishing Date: 1st January 2020

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

Number of pages: 431

Genre: General Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 05.03.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?

When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…

Rating: four-stars

 

Laurie Watkinson and Dan Price have been together since university, that is, for 18 years. They love each other, they’re comfortable, they have good jobs as lawyers at the same firm in Manchester and they enjoy their lives. And are even thinking about starting a family. That is, until it turns out, that Laurie is thinking. Dan is over – thinking: he doesn’t want the same things are Laurie wants. He wants out. He dumps her. And immediately starts a relationship with another woman who also immediately fells pregnant of course. To tell that Laurie is devastated would be an understatement.
One day she’s stuck in the lift at work with Jamie Carter, the firm lothario, and they decide to stage a “faux – mance”, as they both can benefit from it. Let’s the fun and games begin, right? Has Laurie supposed that there is much more depth to Jamie than she’s thought? Has she expected that this fake relationship will help her build self esteem and confidence? How it is actually going to end?

The absolute highlight of this story was how the romance aspect was developing, how it underlined the importance of friendship before anything can happen but also, and believe me, yes, we know the formula, we know those arranged and fake office romances are similar, predictable and likely to end in tears, this time the plot simply brilliantly worked in this book. Also, the characters are one of the strongest points here. They’re believable, likeable, and although there were some moments that made me roll my eyes thinking, yeah, for sure, this is going to never happen in real life, like the conversation between Jamie, Dan and Michael, I mean, who would allowed to be talked to like that, I was totally engrossed in their lives, and this is always a good sign. When you get to know Jamie, you quickly learn that he’s not this pretentious, irritating, arrogant Lothario that other think he is. Yes, he is ambitious and hard – working but he truly knows where the priorities are and there is this gorgeous, lovely vulnerable side to him. It was not to be hidden that he respected Laurie, acting like a gentleman, always putting her first, which was a great change after getting to know Dan.
Laurie, even though she’s also ambitious and hard – working, she’s also smart, funny and sharp. It’s so normal that her confidences sky – rocketed downhill after the break – up, and it made her feel even more realistic and genuine, because let’s be honest, who wouldn’t feel like that after ending a relationship that lasted nearly half of your lifetime, right? I loved to see her growing in confidence again, mending her heart, seeing another perspective. They were both so at ease in each other company, I adored their banter.

The beginning was brilliant but then it went a bit confusing for me, and it felt like this until Laurie and Jamie’s deal, as then the story really gained speed and started to fill with McFarlane’s hallmark sarcastic humour – just what I like best. I adored the fact that this time the author’s observations and descriptions of feelings and emotions were spot on. The author has a way with words, even the normal banter between the characters feels fresh, sharp and authentic. She has paced her story really well (well, except for the part right after the beginning until the deal – I know, I know, I’m repeating myself!) and made it unique and refreshing, without making the plot unnecessary complex and complicated. Her characters are realistic and have depth to them, much more that you could expect.

It was a funny (even though this time the humour didn’t resonate with me right from the beginning and on all levels), light and witty book, also filled with insightful thoughts. Although at the beginning I couldn’t connect with Laurie, I’m not sure why, it was somehow hard to keep track with her but it quickly changed and I started to love her, her being so smart, seeing under the surface, seeing things that other didn’t want to see. It was a lovely, heart-warming and entertaining read – if you get through the most confusing first part. It touches upon some tricky issues, such like dysfunctional families, love, hate, betrayal, hope and loss and the author deals with them all in a skilful, gentle way, not forgetting to balance the most heavier parts with humour. What I really liked is the fact that the book is not too sugary, you know, it’s not heart – ripping but also not only sweet, charming and beds of roses kind. Highly recommended!

The Cornish Villahe School – Christmas Wishes by Kitty Wilson

The Cornish Village School – Christmas Wishes by Kitty Wilson

 

Publisher: Canelo 47167328

Publishing Date: 9th September 2019

Series: Cornish Village School #4

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

Number of pages: 254

Genre: General Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Penmenna…

Teaching assistant Alice has sworn off men, which is fine because with Christmas coming she’s super busy organising the school Nativity. This should be a blast with the help of best friend and village vicar, Dan – if she can just ignore those more-than-just-a-friend feelings she’s developed for him…

Dan is more than happy to help Alice – his secret crush – but not only is his beloved Granny Annie about to be made homeless, the church choir has disintegrated and he’s battling some dark demons from his past.

With meddling grannies and PTA wars thrown in the mix, can Alice and Dan overcome their past hurts to move forward? Will they be spending Christmas together as friends… or something more?

A festive feel-good romance perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant and Holly Martin.

Rating: four-stars

 

Alice is a teaching assistant in Penmenna village school and this year she’s given the job of organising the class four nativity play. Determined to make it the best one, or at least better than the one from last year with the earth giving birth, she loops her best friend Dan, who is a village vicar, to help her. Actually, Alice would love to be more than friends with Dan, however she’s so unsure of herself, she can’t see why any man would be interested in her, and there were some bad experienced for her in the past and Dan, well, Dan has some reasons as well to hide his feelings.

One of the biggest strength of the book are for sure the characters. The cast is simply brilliant, living and breathing, with flaws and troubles. Dan was a perfect vicar, so very un – vicar like, which only made him even better. His background was really heart – breaking and you could really understand all his commitment issues. But Marion Markshot must have been the best character ever, oh my god, so fierce and so vulnerable, I loved her and her ways, and I really wouldn’t like to have her as a fiend. And really, you can say whatever you want, that she was cruel, self – obsessed, whatever, but oh my, I so fell for her! Because no matter what, the characters felt human and true to life, finding themselves in a position of having to go on, to get on with things, just like we are. And Alice, the lovely, kind and full of energy Alice, so unsure of herself, not realising how great she is – she was a fantastic leading character.

What I also adored is that the series centres around school and teaching. And even though I’m now working in kindergarten and not at school, once a teacher, always a teacher and I like stories set at school, especially such lovely ones. I loved Alice around her pupils and I loved her approach to the organization of the Nativity Christmas Play, she’s truly the right person in the right place, her love to her job shines through the pages.

I adored this book, I really did, but what annoyed me a bit was the fact that you actually knew, from the very beginning, how it’s going to end (I know, I know, everybody hates this sentence) and it simply felt too long, no matter how entertaining, to come to the final conclusion. I mean, there were almost no obstacles, no challenges and the will they/will they/oh yes they will was too long. It just felt, I don’t know, too wordy, as if it has lost its track from time to time.

But altogether, it was a hilariously funny and also wise and heart – warming read with incredibly vivid and lively characters with intelligent and sharp sense of humour. I have only read the third instalment in the series before – sadly, it’s a huge mistake, really, because the books are so, so entertaining! “Christmas Wishes” is full of mishaps, family, friendship and love, beautifully balancing humour with poignant scenes. The banter, and there is a lot of banter in this book, is humorous, witty, sharp and quick and there is a huge amount of lovely romance, of letting go of the past and moving forward, and it is already filled with festive spirit. Hugely recommended!

Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm by Jaimie Admans

Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm by Jaimie Admans

 

Publisher: HQ Digital 44799648

Publishing Date: 9th October 2019

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

All she wants for Christmas…

Leah Griffiths has woken up after a few too many glasses of Prosecco with a hangover – and discovers she’s accidentally bought a little Christmas tree farm in Scotland!

At first she’s horrified, but perhaps it’s the perfect way to forget all about her cheating ex.

And when she meets grumpy (but ridiculously gorgeous) pumpkin farmer Noel underneath the mistletoe, Leah begins to believe that at Christmas time, anything can happen…

Rating:  four-stars

 

The morning after finding her boyfriend/boss in a compromising position, Leah Griffiths wakes up not only with a huge hangover after downing few bottles of Prosecco, but also as a new owner of a Christmas Tree Farm in Scotland that she’s just won on an internet auction. And paid for it. £50,000, all the money left after selling her parents’ house when they died.
But hey, the farm looks lovely on the pictures, right? As she has no job in London anymore, her parents are dead and she has only one best friend, there is nothing stopping her back, and really, how hard could running a Tree Farm be?
Well, it turns out it can be hard, especially as the farm has been empty for four years, most of the trees are dead/unsellable, and the grumpy neighbour Noel knows lots about trees but he doesn’t believe that Leah will stay at the farm after realising how much work it needs, and after seeing that the house has no windows and only half roof left. And it’s very cold and raining all the time.
But Noel doesn’t know Leah and her determination. But will the determination be enough to start over? Will Leah stay at the farm?

I really don’t remember when I laughed so much when reading a book. Right now I’m even not afraid to make a drunken impulse buy, honestly, even if it’s of abandoned Christmas Tree Farm in Scotland – I could keep horses there! It was a read full of laughs, giggles, embarrassing but also poignant moments, brilliantly capturing the cheer of a small town and its community.

Jaimie Admans writes in a way that made me immediately fell in love with all the characters and the setting. Leah was a brilliant leading heroine, full of humour and best one – liners, often jumping to conclusions but also optimistic and never giving up. Well, how many of us would stay after realizing they have bought an abandoned and run – down Christmas Tree Farm, right? Not Leah – she was stubborn and determined and had some of the best ideas how to revitalize the farm and to keep it going, not forgetting about the community! We get to know her at a very low point, and she’s also lost so much when her parents died, so she really knows what suffering and grief mean, and she has moments when she feels so desperate and lonely, but she’s also so funny and so human and I was really rooting for her, wanting her to have her own happy ending.
Our lovely Leah is surrounded and supported by a great group of characters, charming, friendly and immediately likeable, brilliantly written and amusing. Some of their antics at the market were peculiar but please, do let me focus tightly on Noel. And let me swoon about Noel. Noel should have his own book – even though he had a Chihuahua and not a rottweiler, he was perfect. Noel, the usual broody and moody neighbour, the pumpkin farmer from the adjacent land, sexy, handsome, irresistible… you get the picture. With a soft side to him as well, I loved how he was around another people, his mum and dog, always willing to help but not too overwhelmingly helpful, you know what I mean? A softie but still a real man, give me him any time pretty please. Oh, be still you stupid heart, really.
The interactions and banter between him and Leah were the most brilliant parts of the book, and they were mostly my favourite scenes, so actually almost the whole book. The way the author has pushed them together felt obvious, yes, but also natural and genuine and the chemistry between them was sparklingly funny and believable.

The author has for sure researched how much work running a Christmas tree farm involves and learnt her lesson about trimming a tree or whatever it is you have to do with them. I’ve never realised it, I mean, you go, you choose and then buy the most beautiful Christmas tree, right, but I’ve never given a thought to what is needed to grow this perfect specimen. She dedicates a lot of pages to the actual work involved in farming, and it’s rich in details and information but it doesn’t slow down the action, oh no, it rather propels it forward, is rich in details but never too dull.

It is a fast – paced, seamlessly written, chatty and engaging read that yes, you know how it’s going to end, and yes, you know there are going to be obstacles on the way, but still it is a great fun to read. Jaimie Admans’s writing style is easy – going and easy to get along with and chatty and her descriptions are vivid and colourful. This novel was a lovely, romantic, atmospheric and full of snow read, right for the Christmas season. The idea of the plot was great and refreshing and there was this lovely message in it, that when you want something badly to succeed, simply go for it, just go out there and get it – it may not be the easiest thing sometimes but everything is possible. Warm, cosy and comfortable, an engrossing and hilarious festive journey about second chances and fresh starts, but also about grief, betrayal and hope, and you very quickly will fall under its spell. Hugely recommended!

Gone by Leona Deakin / Blog Tour

Gone by Leona Deakin

 

Publisher: Black Swan 46801795._sy475_

Publishing Date: 12th December 2019

Series: Dr. Bloom #1

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

Number of pages: 372

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:

YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.
DARE TO PLAY?

The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.

And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.

As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.

But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear?

Rating: four-stars

 

People go missing – all on their birthdays after receiving intriguing birthday cards daring them to play. Psychologist Augusta Bloom and her colleague Marcus Jameson (ex Secret Service) get involve in the case, as at least one person missing is known to them – a family friend’s mother has vanished, following the pattern with the card. The more they investigate, the more complex the case becomes and as they start to dig really deep not only is the case starting to be dangerous to them personally, but they learn much more about the people missing and the results of their investigations are shocking. People that disappeared seem to have left out of their own will, leaving behind families and friends – who does it? Why?

One is sure – I have never (really, never) done a test on Facebook or somewhere else in the internet, how clever am I without knowing that I’m clever, no? I have no idea how it really works, and if it is like in this novel, that when you do such tests other people may benefit from it – but if it really is like this then I am truly in shock. I must be born in the wrong times then.

I wouldn’t say that the book is a slow – burner, however the beginning is somehow difficult and a little confusing, and I wasn’t sure what to feel. But no worries there, guys. Even if I wouldn’t determine the pace of this book as quick, there are many twists and turns and questions that you desperately want to know answers to, so there is really not a moment that feels flat. Yes, some things feel too far – fetched and yes, I rolled my eyes once or twice but nevertheless it is a tense and captivating novel. Despite the confusing start, I was quickly drawn into the story, it has really grown under my skin, with the interesting plot and thought – provoking relevant ideas about how we use social media.
There are also many characters and almost each time I had to consider who it is, to whom they belong and what’s their problem, and it was a bit confusing as well, as till the end, except for the few main characters, I had problems with them and each time the point of view changes, it took me a moment or two to recognize the person.

The main characters felt a bit too one – dimensional for my liking, however they were interesting enough, their background was also very entertaining. Augusta and Marcus worked together brilliantly and they complemented each other, the banter and dynamics between them was natural and genuine. What’s more, they might have been main characters, but also a huge part of focus was directed on the missing people and their stories, and it added tons of meaning to the story – I desperately wanted to know who those people are and why they went missing and what their problem is. I racked my brains at what it is that actually happened with the missing characters but I loved the way Augusta and Marcus were leading us to the end, to the final revelations. I had a feeling that we’re exactly at the same level with them, that we know the same things, we’re not a step behind or ahead of them and I think I guessed who, why and what at the same moment as Augusta. Looking back, there were enough hints and I probably should have guessed a bit earlier, but it only shows that a) my detective skills don’t exist and b) the author writes in a clever, misdirecting way, which is a huge bonus point.

The writing style is chatty and engaging, down to earth and easy to follow and the plot was so imaginative, different and fascinating, and it was really refreshing to read this book, even if it was full of psychology – however, I am personally fascinated with psychology, and secondly, the author is an expert in this area and explains the medical language in an approaching and comprehensible way. Hats off to the author for being able to explain the psychological jargon in such a fascinating way that never feels dry nor patronizing.
“Gone” was a scary, thought – provoking and thrilling rollercoaster ride full of intrigue and suspense and some of the best parts were the psychological insights of the game and the way the author has got into her characters’ heads. It also touched upon social media and reading this book will make you think twice the next time you’ll want to fill something on Facebook. Truly recommended!

 

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