Something to Tell you by Lucy Diamond

Something to Tell You by Lucy Diamond

 

42181331Publisher: Macmillan

Publishing Date: 24th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

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

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

 

Synopsis:

When Frankie stumbles upon an unopened letter from her late mother, she’s delighted to have one last message from her . . . until she reads the contents and discovers the truth about her birth. Brimming with questions, she travels to York to seek further answers from the Mortimer family, but her appearance sends shockwaves through them all.

Meanwhile, Robyn Mortimer has problems of her own. Her husband John has become distant, and a chance remark from a friend leads Robyn to wonder exactly what he’s not been saying. Dare she find out more?

As for Bunny, she fell head over heels in love with Dave Mortimer when she first arrived in town, but now it seems her past is catching up with her. She can’t help wondering if he’ll still feel the same way about her if he discovers who she really is – and what she did.

As secrets tumble out and loyalties are tested, the Mortimers have to face up to some difficult decisions. With love, betrayal and dramatic revelations in the mix, this is one summer they’ll never forget.

 

Rating: four-stars

 

“Something to Tell You” introduces us to Frankie, who, after her mother’s death, stumbles upon an unopened letter addressed to her. The message in this letter is, however, not what she was expecting – it’s letting her know who her biological father is. She discovers she’s the result of an affair her mother had with a married man, Harry Mortimer. Frankie decides to go to York to get to know him. Unknowingly, she gate – crashes his and his wife’s wedding anniversary party. Harry Mortimer had no idea about Frankie’s existence but, after spotting her among the crowds, he immediately knows she’s his daughter. However, Harry’s wife Jeanie is not as unforgiving and relaxed about the fact that he has another daughter – because it turns out that Frankie has half – siblings as well, three brothers and one sister. What she didn’t expect is that her appearance will open Pandora’s box full of secrets, dramas and upheavals. Will the family stay together? Can they accept Frankie?

I liked that actually all of the characters had got the same chance to present their own story, as the narration switched between them. Yes, I thought it’s going to be more Frankie’s story but I really enjoyed how it included all the other characters as well. There were a large number of characters, to be honest, and not only the female ones but also all the male ones belonging to them, but I quickly worked out who is who and why. On the whole I didn’t have a problem with any of the characters, I liked all of them, except for Jeannie Mortimer. The way she was described at the beginning of the book when she’s spotted Frankie, how possessive she was and how angry, well, it simply put me away. I understand where she was coming from, her sudden insecurity – well, who wouldn’t feel insecure, right – but the way she behaved simply wasn’t adequate and I didn’t gel with her till the end of the book.
As usual in Lucy Diamond’s book, the characters’ lives are far from being perfect. All the ladies in this novel have fights on their hands, and troubles to overcome. Robyn’s marriage turned out to be full of lies, Bunny had a huge secret that she was so ashamed of, Robyn’s mother Alison spent her whole days only watching TV, Frankie’s life has taken a very unexpected turn and she was afraid everything she loves will be taken away from her, and Jeanie, well, Jeanie, she simply liked to complicate her own life. The only one who seemed to land a perfect life was Paula – I really liked her attitude towards life. It is great that all of them are so different, this makes the reading even more hooking and interesting. What makes the book so special is the fact that all those problems are down – to – earth and realistic.

You could say that it is a slow – burner, as there is a huge build – up to the many events taking place in this story, but to be honest it didn’t bother me, as I enjoyed reading about the characters’ lives. However, in comparison, I think that the end came too suddenly, too quickly. Yes, everything is of course wonderfully wrapped up and tied up but I’d love some of the issues to be done a little more deeply. Also, with so many subplots I think it’s natural that some of them fell a little flat compared to the others but then the things pick up again and it was a great rollercoaster of feelings, emotions and surprises.

It was a light, warm book about different family relationships and dynamics. Lucy Diamond isn’t shy of writing about secrets, lies, dramas and conflicts but she also does it in a very heartfelt, lovely way, and she can perfectly mix lightness with some more serious issues, and she doesn’t focus on the negative, upsetting things but on the optimistic side which makes the book so lovely complex and not predictable. Add to this relatable characters, effortless writing style and you have your pick for those long, wintry evenings. Truly recommended!

 

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Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

 

34109621Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 1st January 2019

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

Number of pages: 315

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 07.03.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to rise again…

The hilarious new heartbreaker from Mhairi McFarlane!

If there’s one thing worse than being fired from the grottiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else.

Reeling from the indignity of a double dumping on the same day, Georgina snatches at the next job that she’s offered – barmaid in a newly opened pub, which just so happens to run by the boy she fell in love with at school: Lucas McCarthy. And whereas Georgina (voted Most Likely to Succeed in her school yearbook) has done nothing but dead-end jobs in the last twelve years, Lucas has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but also has turned into an actual grown-up with a business and a dog along the way.

Meeting Lucas again not only throws Georgina’s rackety present into sharp relief, but also brings a dark secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows the truth about what happened on the last day of school, and why she’s allowed it to chase her all these years…

Rating: four-stars

 

Georgina is working in probably the worst Italian restaurant in Sheffield, has a narcissistic boyfriend, a patronising family that doesn’t understand her life choices, a housemate from hell, and then she’s not only unfairly sacked from her job but also finds her boyfriend in a very unambiguous situation with his PA. And this is when she’s thought things couldn’t get possibly any worse… But at last luck seems to be on her side when she gets an unexpected job offer at a newly refurbished pub, run by the brilliant Dev. However, then she meets Dev’s brother, and business partner, Lucas – her first ever love. She immediately recognizes him, but he doesn’t remember her. Or maybe he doesn’t WANT to remember her?

I think Georgina, as a main character, may trigger mixed feelings but I liked her. She was funny and sharp and relatable and her life was so full of problems: she loved being a waitress, even if she was working at the worst place possible so when she’s fired, in front of the full restaurant, she’s truly shocked. She feels comfortable with her boyfriend but then she discovers something and even though she’s so right about her decision he doesn’t want to let her go. Her flatmate seems to hate her, leaving her passive – aggressive notes and her step – father also seems to hate her, and for sure he doesn’t appreciate her, and so on, and so on. So really, to be honest, nothing comes easy to her. But I loved the fact that she never gave up, that she tried to process her dramas and, despite all of the troubles, she’s happy with her life. – even though she sometimes felt like a failure, sometimes didn’t know what to do with herself and her life. The continuous reminders of her being thirty and that perhaps it’s really time to slow down and do something useful (ie. get married and start to produce children) also didn’t help. But she was strong, she had great friends and she never gave up, and this is why I liked her so much. Of course, there is still some self – doubt but on the whole she was more or less happy with this what she had and she felt comfortable in her own skin.

The romance aspect was, in fact, the background story – it was Georgina’s tale, and I loved it that way, though, I must admit, Lucas was absolutely, totally delicious. Yes, let’s swoon a little about Lucas. Sigh. I simply adored him, even with him blowing hot and cold. The younger Lucas, the one that was Georgina’s boyfriend, came across as absolutely brilliant, responsible and honest teenager while the older one seemed much more moodier but there is a reason to this, oh yes, there is. But let’s put the moods aside, guys, he was simply perfect. And had a dog Keith – what more would you need, right?
Those were actually the characters that made the book so outstanding, I think. They were all so brilliantly developed and full of personality and even if they were absolutely unlikeable – yes, I’m looking at you, Geoffrey, you little toad – you had to appreciate how much work went into all of them, how realistic they all felt. They were strong, not too meh, complex and complicated, just like they should be.

The family dynamics in the story were so well captured! My heart broken at Georgina’s attempts to hide the truth from her mother and sister and, as it turned out, they wanted to do the same. Also, at the fact that she still couldn’t process her dad’s death, at the guilty feeling she was still having – she really had a heart in the right place. The descriptions of the dysfunctional family from Georgina’s childhood were so realistic and plausible, as well as the family from her present days – the meetings at her sister’s were hilarious, especially when we think about the grandmother Nana Hogg, and also full of hurt, pain and bad feelings.

Sure, there were also some things that felt undone or ended abruptly, or too conventionally, like with the short drama with the diary, I’d love a little more depth and development in the Georgina and Lucas’s relationship but they were only small bumps on the otherwise smooth journey but on the whole the book was written in a very easy to read, flowing style that I enjoyed very much. The plot was relatively simple but Mhairi McFarlane’s take on it simply brilliant. There were moments that it felt predictable, the will they/won’t they were there but it was written in such a refreshing, engaging way that it truly didn’t bother me. The events felt so natural, the pace was just spot on, the romance was well developed and I literally raced through this book. The humour there was just my kind of humour, I loved Georgina’s sharp tongue and her one – liners and the banter was witty and warm. It was a perfect mix of laugh, tears, heartbreak and hope. There was much more to this book that you could initially think. It’s about not allowing others to put you down, about raising above, about getting over your old demons. A hilarious novel with an unexpected depth to it, story about second chances, coming to terms with your past and growing to value yourself. There are some very strong messages in this book, wrapped up amongst the laughs so if you’re looking for a light, heart – warming story that will make you think as well, don’t hesitate and treat yourself to “Don’t You Forget About Me” – highly recommended!

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

 

39847781Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 10th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback(out on 25.07.2019)

 

Synopsis:

GRACE ATHERTON HAS FALLEN OUT OF LOVE … AND INTO LIFE

Between the simple melody of running her violin shop and the full-blown orchestra of her romantic interludes in Paris with David, her devoted partner of eight years, Grace Atherton has always set her life to music.

Her world revolves entirely around David, for Grace’s own secrets have kept everyone else at bay. Until, suddenly and shockingly, one act tips Grace’s life upside down, and the music seems to stop.

It takes a vivacious old man and a straight-talking teenager to kickstart a new chapter for Grace. In the process, she learns that she is not as alone in the world as she had once thought, that no mistake is insurmountable, and that the quiet moments in life can be something to shout about …

For fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Keeper of Lost Things, The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton is the story of a woman who has her heart broken, but then puts it back together again in the most uplifting and exquisite way.

Rating: four-stars

Grace Atherton is a cellist and a luthier and a shop owner – she repairs violins and cellos. She loves what she’s doing, though her dream was of becoming a professional cellist, however this dream has been ruined after she’d been ejected from music academy, though there is much more to this than we can think at first. She loves her boyfriend David, though as it happens he’s married and he’s at least honest with her about it, and about the fact that he won’t leave his wife, at least not while their children are still little ones. But he believes in Grace and he entered her into the Cremona Triennale Competition, for which she’s creating and building a cello. There are two other people who support her through thick and thin, a loyal and caring customer Mr. Williams, and her teenage, quirky and sassy shop assistant Nadia. But when something happens, that puts David in the public eye and their relationship in jeopardy, Grace’s safe life is torn to shreds. Will she be able to recover enough?

I don’t know, I can’t put into words, but this novel was simply magic. The way it was written, there was, despite all the little and huge dramas, the overwhelming feel – good factor, it was heart-warming and beautiful. Now I realise that what probably made me feel this way was the fact that, even though all the characters in this book has their own problems and issues, the problems were all resolved by the end, and maybe it is not how it always works in life but it sat well with this novel. Sure, maybe it was too fairy – talish, too perfect but on the whole I didn’t have a problem with this.

In the background, or maybe I should say in the foreground of this book, is music. I must admit that some of the descriptions, especially the one of the spontaneous concert at the end of the story, gave me goose bumps, so vividly and beautifully were they described. Also the descriptions of restoring the damaged instruments were for me surprisingly interesting, I’ve never supposed I’d found myself so engrossed in reading about a thing that I’ve no idea of. Although, to be honest, I think it was pretty lost on me as I really had no idea what I’m reading – please don’t get me wrong, it was beautifully written, elegant and eloquent and the author has brought all the things and music to life, you simply have to have a talent to write about music in such a way and I appreciate it with all my heart but it’s absolutely not my kind of thing. So there. I’ve said it. But I still loved it.

What didn’t work for me so much, though, is the fact how weak Grace was about her boyfriend David. Yes, I get it, that’s the way she was – emotional, full of feelings, with life experience but perhaps because of this she should have known better. Especially that, well, I didn’t like David, the smooth operator, and in my eyes Grace deserved much, much better. However, please do keep reading the book – at the end you’re going to understand how important it was for Grace, and I loved to see her growing in confidence. I thought that Grace is younger at the beginning, to be honest, judging her on the way she was talking about David and behaving around him, until her age was explicitly stated, and so, knowing that she was in fact forty made her seem a little too naive, too believing.

It was a fast – paced novel, even though a huge part of it covers the renovations of the instruments, and there is much about music, but – I think I’ve already mentioned it, and if not I’ll for sure mention it – it was simply beautifully written. The author has a brilliant, engaging and easy flowing writing style. She takes us for a journey from London, to Paris and eventually to Cremona in Italy, a journey full of ups and downs. You may not expect it, but Grace, who at the first glance seems to lead a very uneventful life, which, as it turns out, is not true, her life is rather complicated. I didn’t judge her, it was her choice to live her life like this, but the way she put David on a pedestal was unreasonable and, yes, made me feel a little sorry for her. Waiting for permission to travel to Paris to see him, I mean, Grace, hello? And let’s be honest, he couldn’t be more obvious in this whole “staying together for the kids’ sake” act.
The other characters, that were probably meant to be background ones, added so much colour and life to this book. Grace, Nadia and Mr. Williams, who also had their own problems, were a very unlikely trio that worked together brilliantly. They found each other and it was lovely to see how all of them needed this unusual friendship.

Altogether, “The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton” was a charming, uplifting and also though – provoking and controversial story about friendship, trust, lost loves and hopes, heartbreak, second chances, being back on your own feet. I might have not understand all Grace’s actions and decisions but they were necessary, for us to see how much it cost to learn from our own mistakes and how much it cost to just move on. There was incredible heart in the characters, they were so lovely developed and every feeling of theirs simply oozes from the pages. And I also think this book doesn’t need any comparisons to other books, because it’s going to stand alone by itself – it’s emotional, unique and a special debut novel by Anstey Harris – truly recommended!

The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy by BM Carroll

The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy by BM Carroll

 

38470065Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 27th December 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Crime & Thriller

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

‘Intriguing, compelling. Impossible to put down and irresistibly good’ Liane Moriarty

No one is who they seem to be.

Sophie McCarthy is known for her determination, ambition and brilliance. She’s tough, but only because she wants to get the best out of people.

Aidan Ryan is strong, honourable, and a family man. He’s tough too; the army requires it.

Now Sophie’s life is in ruins and Aidan is responsible. Her family wants to see him pay for what he did. His family is just as devastated.

Aidan’s prepared to sacrifice everything – including his marriage and his child – to fix the mess he’s made.

But Sophie, who is facing a lifetime of pain, is darker and much more complicated than she first appeared . . .

The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy is a gripping, impossible-to-put-down exploration of betrayal and revenge.

Rating: four-stars

Sophie is a successful, young woman however her healthy and busy life is ceased when she’s involved in a car accident. After spending a huge amount of time at the hospital, her life consists now of pain. However, there is also a bright side to it – Sophie and the driver of the car, Aidan, who guilt – ridden has been visiting her in the hospital, fell in love. Aidan left his family, his wife Chloe and daughter Jasmin, to be with Sophie. But there are problems and troubles everywhere, and the court date for the accident is looming closer, and suddenly all involved in this family drama start to see that their lives are not as straight – forward as they’ve been thinking.

The author has created the main character in such a perfect way. You start reading the book feeling sympathy to Sophie McCarthy, adoring her in fact because of the way she’s coping with her life now, seeing how much she has lost and how far she could go if it weren’t for the accident that was absolutely not her fault. She’s such a strong person, intelligent, ambitious and she truly knows what she wants. However, the more we read, the more we learn about Sophie and her past and the more we start to dislike her – I like such complex characters that are not too straightforward. It was fascinating to see how Sophie has seen herself and how the others have seen her – her parents Richard and Dee, and it’s already remarkable how different the opinions of those two were. Then we have Aidan, his wife Chloe and the nine – year – old Jasmin, and Hannah and Jane, Sophie’s assistants at work. Theoretically, with being tough, determined and ambitious, she had all the attributes of a great character. Practically, the way she used those qualities around people and in her life made her impossible to like. However, I think that the situation is not so obvious. Yes, Sophie wasn’t a particularly nice person, she was, in fact, a bully, but on the other hand, wasn’t she a victim as well? Not only because of the accident, but deeper, of her father’s ambitions and the way he dotted on her? One thing is for sure, it was a great character study that is going to make you think.
All the other characters were as well multi – faceted and complex, with life challenging them more than necessary. They felt relatable and true to life. I was asking myself all the time if it was really love, or maybe guilt, on Aidan’s side – though, to be honest, I think he was too straightforward and too honest to fake his feelings. So maybe it was not love but fascination, but whatever it was, he was honest.

I really liked the way the book was built. The chapters are told from different points of view and there is a group of characters that the story introduces us to but it was just the right number to keep the track of them easily. This way, it slowly and engagingly unravelled the plot, telling us the backgrounds stories, letting us to make up our mind on our own. It helped to built an intriguing, suspenseful story. There was a tension to this book, and this overwhelming feeling that something is going to happen – just the way I like it. I’ll be honest, at the beginning I thought it is going to be totally different kind of read, the title made me think that perhaps it’s going to be a gory thriller full of parts of body (yep, I know. My imagination) but it turned out into a relatively fast – paced and tense domestic noir psychological drama, war of nerves and race against time that I really enjoyed. BM Carroll has captured the atmosphere of uncertainty and toxicity, added some twists and turns that truly made me wonder, and well, yes, the plot is perhaps not new, focusing on things and events that we often come across in this type of books, but it truly well worked for me. There were secrets, drama, betrayal, revenge and innocent lives at stake and the author, with her way of writing, kept me firmly in her grasp.

“The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy” dealt with so many issues: fertility, single parenthood, guilt, bullying, but the one that hit me a lot were probably the severe sleeping problems Jasmin had. The descriptions of the way she felt, and how Chloe felt, the desperation, the not – knowing, were brilliant and heart – breaking. This was a complex read, full of many layers and it was great to be able to unpeel them all to eventually get to the end. Truly recommended!

 

If We’re Not Married by Thirty by Anna Bell

If We’re Not Married by Thirty by Anna Bell

 

40376037Publisher: Zaffre

Publishing Date: 27th December 2018

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

Number of pages: 431

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A brilliantly funny, romantic and effervescent read, If We’re Not Married by Thirty is the irresistible new novel from the bestselling author of The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart and It Started With a Tweet. For fans of Lindsey Kelk and Sophie Kinsella.

Lydia’s not exactly #LivingHerBestLife. She never imagined she’d be here at thirty – newly single, a job that’s going nowhere and her friends all winning at life when she’s still barely taking part. So she jumps at the chance of a free holiday and jets off to sunny Spain.

Then, out of the blue, she bumps into her childhood friend, the handsome and charming Danny Whittaker. She’s always had a crush on him and they soon enter into a passionate holiday romance.

But this relationship could be more than just a fling. Years ago they made a pact that if they were still single when they turned thirty they would get married. But noone really follows through on these pacts . . . right?

Could Lydia’s back-up man really be her happy ever after?

Rating: four-stars

Ten years ago, at her sister’s wedding, Lydia made a pact with Danny that if they’re not married by they’re thirty, they will simply marry each other. Forward ten years on, and Lydia, an event – coordinator, finds herself newly single. She hasn’t seen Danny in a while but they stayed in touch via letters and emails. However, a chance encounter brings them together – they’re both thirty, both single – will they go through with their pact?

I liked the fact that the characters used to know each other for ages, what with their mothers being best friends. It saved us the whole getting to know each other phase, and they felt so comfortable around each other. I immediately warmed to Lydia, she was my kind of girl. She felt a little disappointed with her life, as she felt that everyone is moving around and ahead with their lives, only she’s staying put. She was pretty relaxed and down – to – earth, and what I liked so much is the fact that she was surrounded by her family and friends, they were all going strong together. She relied on them, they relied on her and they were supporting each other, and it was lovely to see. She, as well as the other characters, was relatable and full of flaws, she wanted a better life but she wasn’t so quick to change it, to take matters in her own hands, which – let’s be honest – is a totally normal thing. How often does it happen that we’re not happy with our own lives but as they’re comfortable enough we do nothing to change them. Lydia said the wrong things, put herself in embarrassing situations and this all made her much more human and likeable.
But, to be honest, I had awful problem with Danny. All the time I had a feeling that he’s hiding something, that I can’t trust him completely, that he’s going to hurt Lydia, that he’s not honest. Also, instead of “when will they eventually” I was wondering if they will/they will not – I simply was missing this last tick, this last final touch that would convince me completely to the fact that Lydia and Danny were truly destined for each other.
The best parts of the books were when the mothers were entering the scenes. Though, as much as I loved them, I am very grateful they’re not my mother, phew. Don’t get me wrong, they were absolutely brilliant, they always meant well but they were slightly… embarrassing. But they were also incredibly funny and I loved their antics. Those two were best friends and they were rooting for their children to finally get together but, of course, as it usually happens, in trying to achieve this, they usually made things much more difficult, and I adored how stoic Lydia and Danny were about them. Hazel and Linda weren’t afraid of anything, their friendship was simply brilliant.

The banter and interactions between Lydia and Danny were great, you could see the sparks flying. However, I’ve missed a little more depth to this relationship to be honest. We can also wonder here and dispute if people really still make such pacts as the main characters but that’s not the point. The point is that it worked in this book and it made for an amusing, funny and entertaining read. There were plenty of hilarious and embarrassing scenes and Anna Bell’s writing style is so seamless, she effortlessly transports us into the characters’ world, you really feel like a part of the book.

I had some problems to get into the book, the beginning, even though the scenes were supposed to be funny, simply didn’t sit with me, and it made me feel uncomfortable, because hell, it is Anna Bell’s book! What’s that supposed to mean? But as soon as Lydia arrived to Spain the book gathered its pace and from then on it was a roller – coaster ride of more or less embarrassing situations – Lydia was truly prone to accident or to jump to false conclusions, which was often hilarious.

It was incredibly light – hearted, engaging and amusing read. There weren’t any life changing twists but I also haven’t expected them in this book. The standard misunderstandings, the ups and downs, hiccups and some challenges on the way were really enough to make the reading interesting and me glued to the pages. Altogether, I’ve enjoyed this book a lot, there was everything I could expect from Anna Bell’s novel and I am already looking toward her next release. In the meantime, I really recommend “If We’re Not Married by Thirty” to you.

 

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

 

40898147Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: 27th December 2018

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thriller

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A casual comment.

There’s a killer among us.

That’s all it takes.

She stabbed little Robbie Harris.

To change a life –

She’s living under a new name.

For ever.

She’s reformed. So they say . . .

Joanna is going to regret the day she ever said a word.

‘In this chilling tale of paranoia, suspicion and accusation, Lesley Kara keeps you guessing until the final page.’ Paula Hawkins, No.1 bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water

‘A great debut with a slyly clever premise and a rollercoaster ride to the very last sentence.’ Fiona Barton, bestselling author of The Widow and The Child.

Rating: four-stars

“The Rumour” introduces us to Joanna, a single mother of six – year – old Alfie, back to her hometown, where she has moved to be closer to her mum and to give her son another start after he was being bullied at school in London. In her efforts to integrate with the school gates’ mums she passes on a rumour that a previous child killer is living in the town, amongst all of them, under a new identity. What she doesn’t expect is for the rumour to take a life of its own, to spread like a wildfire, pointing its fingers of suspicion at everyone and bringing danger on herself and little Alfie.

The characters in this book were really well developed. Joanna’s actions were realistic and I liked how down – to – earth she was. She was able to sacrifice a lot for her son Alfie who, being of mixed race, has been ostracised at school. That’s why she decided to become a part of the school – gates’ mothers’ group, although she was perfectly happy without them, and this is how all the troubles started, to be honest. She soon wished she had kept her mouth shut, and it’s not a wonder, as she herself, and we, together with her, find ourselves lost in a maze full of lies, secrets and danger.

I was trying to guess, of course I was, who the person is and if she’s really at the town. I didn’t buy the main suspect but I also didn’t guess the right person, till the very last moment. I, in fact, guessed it at the same time as Joanna, so it’s really telling something – how well the author has pulled wool over my eyes, how easily she played with my mind, and I loved this fact. There were many characters mentioned in this book, and it was sometimes confusing who is who and if they’re really important for the plot, especially the book club and the school mothers and their families, and this only made the whole thing much more complicated, as you had a whole range of the suspected.

Now. Perhaps some of you are not going to agree with what I’m going to say now but I, to be absolutely honest, totally got the character of Sally. I understand the other side, an awful tragedy has happened but Sally was a child then, right? Somehow, from the descriptions of her, I couldn’t understand that she’s done it with poise, deliberately. In my eyes, she has also deserved sympathy. I, of course, could have think totally differently if I was on the other side, if I was a member of the little boy’s family. However, Sally turned out to be a perfectly normal adult woman – I don’t want to write more about her circumstances, as I don’t want to spoil the reading for you, so let’s stop here, but let me just tell you that in my opinion she deserved her second chance and live her life in peace. Although, on the other hand, can we really talk about living life in peace, when there is always a danger of being identified, haunted and hunted, with cutting ties with everything and everybody, being moved to new places, not being able to put down some roots anywhere. On the other hand, how disturbing can it be, the thought that a convicted child killer is living a normal life, perhaps somewhere close to you?

“The Rumour” was an engrossing and engaging book with many twists and turns. It was an addictive, tense and very realistic read. It was really well plotted and the ending didn’t jump at me as unexpected, yet it was surprising but in a positive way. You know how sometimes the authors end the book with a huge twist that should blow you away but only make it unrealistic – here the twist was absolutely realistic and relatable, possible to happen. It was an extremely well debut novel, intense and clever. It was fast – paced, with short chapters and filled with suspense and the overwhelming feeling that something bad is going to happen. It was dark, but not too dark, and the author has brilliantly captured the atmosphere of the small town and of the uncertainty. This book touched upon many issues, such as punishment, being unable to forgive, revenge, crime and how dangerous rumours can be, how quickly they can ruin everything. Recommended!

 

A Year at Castle Court by Holly Hepburn

A Year at Castle Court by Holly Hepburn

 

39859029Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 27th December 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 480

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The brand new novel from bestselling author Holly Hepburn, perfect for anyone who loves Jenny Colgan, Veronica Henry and Lucy Diamond.

Sadie is a single mum, nursing a broken heart. Her best friend from childhood, Cat, is burned out from working long hours as a chef in Paris. In need of a change, they decide to invest in their dream – running their own handmade biscuit shop in gorgeous Castle Court, a three-storey food court tucked away behind Chester’s bustling streets.

They soon discover that Castle Court has its own community – a little haven of delight against the stresses of the outside world. But not everyone welcomes the new business; the patisserie owner is less than pleased by what she sees as direct competition and Greg, who runs the fancy bistro that dominates one end of the courtyard, doesn’t think Sadie and Cat have the talent or business acumen to succeed. Luckily, there’s support in the form of the delectable Jaren, who owns the Dutch waffle house opposite Smart Cookies, and Swiss chocolate-shop owner, Elin. And if all else fails, the friends can drown their sorrows in Seb‘s cocktail bar on the third floor!

Rating: four-stars

In “A Year at Castle Court” two main characters, best friends Cat and Sadie, make their dream of owning and running a business together come true and start “Smart Cookies”, a shop specialising in selling hand – made biscuits. However, not all of the other businesses at Castle Court welcome them with open arms. There is a secret scandal, an almost ex – husband and many other troubles and challenges on the girls’ way to happiness.

I loved the friendship between Cat and Sadie, with all its ups and downs, supporting each other but also with the little conflicts, which only made it feel more realistic. They were both strong women and life was not a bed of roses for them. However, I think that I could relate more to Sadie, no particular reason why, just because. I wanted to give her a standing ovation for the way she has proceeded with the situation with her husband, not immediately jumping at the chance and making her life comfortable again, oh no, she’d rather followed her intuition and decided to give it time, which, let’s be honest, doesn’t happen often, right? Cat and Sadie were going from strength to strength, deciding to set up their own business, overcoming the reluctance of some of the neighbours from the close – knit community of Castle Court, and generally dealing with many, many challenges that life decided to face them with. They were strong and independent and I liked that they didn’t look for a man at any cost, that they were ambitious but also they weren’t afraid to ask for help when they needed it, and in the end their successes were their own.

The setting in this book was simply brilliant. I adored Castle Court, with all the little shops and businesses, and as much as I’d love to stop there by, it would be dangerous for my shape. As opposed to many, many other books where the characters open either a bakery or make cupcakes, Sadie and Cat specialise in biscuits, wonderfully decorated biscuits. I have to admit, after reading the book, I’ve spent a lot of time watching blogs or films on YouTube and incredibly admiring the art of icing. The things people can create, it’s simply amazing, and Sadie was exactly like that. Now I can even better imagine all those little wonders that she concocted, although they were of course so vividly described by the author – the colours, the ideas, it was simply fabulous and delicious.

The thing that didn’t sit so well with me was the fact that all the twists were solved in few sentences, at least in the same chapter. I like when there is a little tension and not knowing what’s going to happen, when the events stretch out through the story. I understand that the book was initially published as a four – parts series so probably it needed the quick action, but in a full – length story it just simply doesn’t work so well for me. And there were moments that I really missed the plot to develop, just like with the restaurant next door for example and the way the character just got away with it – it was as if the author simply didn’t have an idea how to continue this thread, which is a pity to be honest.

The story is full of little dramas, that usually happened so quickly and unexpectedly, keeping the pace aloft but also small wins and successes. You could really say that it was action packed and the characters have more than enough on their plates, and sometimes I simply couldn’t stop thinking, oh no, not this, please let them take a breath! Altogether, “A Year at Castle Court” was a lovely story about having confidence and courage and not giving up. It was a light – hearted read and I really enjoyed reading about the close – knit community, about the friendship and the dramas. Holly Hepburn’s writing style is so bright and optimistic, eloquent and colourful and it’s a joy to read her books, so I can only recommend this book to you – go an treat yourself!