My Sister’s Wedding by Vicky Pattison

My Sister’s Wedding by Vicky Pattison

 

33877159Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 15th June 2017

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

For better or worse, two families are about to become one…

The Ashworth sisters couldn’t be more different. Becky is focused, driven and about to marry her lovely fiancé, Daniel Balfour. Lizzie, on the other hand, bounces from one temp job to another, keeps falling for the wrong man and is a whirlwind of chaos in Becky’s otherwise well-ordered life. But they love each other fiercely and the Ashworth way has always been family comes first.

As preparations for Becky and Daniel’s wedding get underway, it soon becomes clear that the Ashworth way is not the Balfour way. Daniel’s family have never thought Becky was good enough for him but he loves her and that’s always been enough for the happy couple. But when Lizzie gets caught in the crossfire between Becky and the Balfours, Becky and Lizzie find themselves drifting apart at a time when they need each other the most. Will they be able to repair the damage before Becky walks down the aisle?

Rating: five-stars

 

My Sister’s Wedding is the first story that I’ve read by Vicky Pattison, even though I have two of her other fiction books on my TBR pile. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect but nevertheless I had high hopes for this novel and in the end the book pleasantly surprised me. It was light – hearted, with some great characters and brilliant, quick writing and I was immediately immersed into the characters’ world.

The story is told from Becky and Lizzie’s points of view, occasionally also showing Nicole’s scheming. The characters really quickly grow on you and you feel as if you’ve known them for ages. Becky and Lizzie are sisters, extremely close, and it has a reason – their mother left the family when they were very young and Becky somehow adopted mum’s role, helping their father to bring the girl up. But now they are both adult and they couldn’t be more different – Becky is oasis of calm to Lizzie’s hurricane, Becky is the most responsible one, with a job and fiancé while Lizzie can’t stop moving around, keep one job and is sleeping at her best friend’s Jay. Becky is also about to get married – her long-time boyfriend Daniel has popped the question. Even though they are together nine long years, their families haven’t met yet – and there is also a reason to it, because they also couldn’t be more different. While Becky and Lizzie’s family consist of them and their lovely, down – to – earth father, Daniel’s is a very wealthy and snobbish one. Is the first meeting going to run smoothly?

Even though they were so different, I liked both of them: Lizzie and her free spirit and big mouth, and Becky’s calmness. Sure, they both were sometimes annoying and they had flaws, but who isn’t and who hasn’t them, right, so it all made them even more likeable. Lizzie may seem irresponsible but there are things she loves above all and she would do anything for her family. The girls balanced each other very well and I really liked this strong bond between them – even though this bong can be easily destroyed by a misunderstanding. Both of them struggled with the sense of belonging, as it seemed they lost it for a moment, and it was sad to see how they are drifting apart. I hated to see how they jump to conclusions, how they read (false) between the lines and how their perfect relationship suffers as a result.

The storyline was great and it was so fast paced. It was not plain sailing for the characters, there were some smaller storylines easily and effortlessly interspersed with the main one and the end result was a lovely, humorous story about family and changing dynamics. Yes, there were moments where the author focused so much on the clothes, labels, designer names, brands, cosmetics that I could do without but oh my, this is Vicky Pattison we are talking about, right, and I think we can turn the blind eye this time. It was also full of references for very modern and present social medias, and the language it was written with was totally realistic. With all this I had a feeling that the book is aimed to a rather younger audience than moi but still I did enjoy it and I spent some uncomplicated, relaxed hours following the story of Becky and Lizzie. There was warmth to the writing and I felt comfortable in their company, so what should I still wish for?

You know, the book was not the most complex one but there was such a great feeling to it. It was funny, dynamic, sharp and there was something in it that you didn’t want to put it down. It was an easy and engaging read, with many humorous and some poignant moments, and you felt immediately at home with the characters: you either loved them or loved to hate them. There was enough intrigue and a little drama and even though it was predictable it didn’t spoiled the book at all. It was fast paced and I didn’t have a feeling that it is dragging on. The Nicole’s subplot was needed for this story to make it more complicated and even though this part was a little too far – fetched for my liking, overall it added some needed action and fireworks to the storyline. So yes, maybe don’t expect anything life – changing in this book but still it made for a great, entertaining read with some ups and downs, with tons of funny moments but brilliantly mixed with some of the more poignant ones – and hey, does the book always have to be life changing? Thought so. I was fully glad with the twists and turns, with the way the author has complicated things for Lizzie and Becky and even with the tad predictable characters from Daniel’s family – this all was written in effortless, engaging way and I bought it as it was: fun and light – hearted, and I’ll be shamelessly recommending it to all of my friends!

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Confetti at the Cornish Cafe by Phillipa Ashley / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys, hope you all have a pleasant and relaxing Sunday and that the weather is spoiling you, just like it’s spoiling us here. Today I have something that will help you to enjoy your weekend even more – as a part of Phillipa Ashley’s blog tour celebrating the third part in the Cornish Cafe series, “Confetti at the Cornish Cafe”, I have a little extract from the novel. Put your feet high and enjoy!

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Yes, I know Demelza’s is my cafe but even after six months, I always think walking inside is like stepping into a cosy, delicious haven. We’ve pulled out the stops to make it welcoming this cold spring morning, arranging early narcissi in stone jars on the window ledges to add a pop of yellow sunshine. Confetti-coloured freesias have been placed on every table and we’ve laid the two tables closest to the window with the vintage china I found at Kilhallon House last summer. Lily and Ben should be able to enjoy the view over the sea from there. The coffee machine is already burbling and the room is filled with the smell of freshly baked pastries. In the background, Cornish folk songs are playing softly. Mentally, I cross my fingers and hope they like the fresh and welcoming atmosphere we’ve tried to create.

Ben plonks himself down at a table and picks up a teacup as if he’s never seen one before. Lily lingers in the middle of the room. She pulls off her hood and a mane of glossy red hair falls down her back. Although she wears very little make-up, and is swamped by the shiny coat, she’s still stunning. Not like a real human, but a fairy in a children’s storybook. She turns around slowly, and lifts her arms, as if the cafe might revolve around her if she so wills.

I hold my breath. She could quite easily turn round this second and head out of Kilhallon and that would be that. Because we’re not glamorous, though we’ll bust a gut to be our very best. At the end of the day, we’re only a cosy little place in a wild and beautiful corner of Cornwall.

Lily sighs deeply as if she’s just finished a particularly hard yoga session. My heart thumps madly. I avoid a strong urge to wipe my palms on my jeans, waiting for this big star’s verdict on my little Cornish cafe.

Lily stares straight at me, a sad but sweet smile on her face.

‘This place is very … soothing. Like being wrapped in a big squishy duvet. It’s very authentic. Yes, I like it. I like it a lot.’

It’s hard not to let out a huge sigh of relief, even if part of me already wishes that Lily, Ben and Harry would get straight back into their ‘actor mobile’ and drive out of Kilhallon. Yes, it’s exciting to have them here and it would be amazing publicity for the park and cafe but I already can’t stand the tension of trying to live up to their expectations. Calm down, Cal would say, just be yourself.

But he’s not here, is he?

Lily perches on one of our old oak settles next to Ben. She picks up one of the vintage tapestry cushions I ‘recycled’ from the farmhouse and hugs it. Ben is on his phone. Harry is sitting at a nearby table with his arms folded. He makes the chair look an infant’s school chair.

‘What can we get you all, then, before we discuss menus and food? I thought we’d warm up in here before we take a tour of the rest of the park and the wedding …’

‘Handfasting,’ Ben mutters without glancing up from his phone. ‘We’re going to do the legal bit at the register office near our house a few weeks later. No one will be looking for that once we’ve had the ceremony here.’

‘Isla said you want a simple ceremony in a natural setting?’ I say.

‘Oh yes, we don’t want a fuss, do we, Ben? I can’t stand all those weddings with zillions of people where the bride and groom sit on thrones and everyone arrives by helicopter.’

‘Is there a helipad?’ Ben chimes in.

‘Sorry, no. There’s a field behind us that the emergency services could use at a push but no helipad.’

‘Oh.’ He goes back to his phone.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR FOR MORE EXTRACTS & REVIEWS!

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Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

35126418Publisher: Scribner UK

Publishing Date: 1st June 2017

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

Number of pages: 208

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Ruth is thirty and her life is falling apart: she and her fiancé are moving house, but he’s moving out to live with another woman; her career is going nowhere; and then she learns that her father, a history professor beloved by his students, has Alzheimer’s. At Christmas, her mother begs her to stay on and help. For a year. Goodbye, Vitamin is the wry, beautifully observed story of a woman at a crossroads, as Ruth and her friends attempt to shore up her father’s career; she and her mother obsess over the ambiguous health benefits – in the absence of a cure – of dried jellyfish supplements and vitamin pills; and they all try to forge a new relationship with the brilliant, childlike, irascible man her father has become.

Rating: three-stars

“Goodbye, Vitamin” is very different to what I thought it’s going to be, but it doesn’t mean that it made reading worse. However, as there is such a great emphasis on Ruth’s father’s Alzheimer’s in the blurb I was prepared for the story to focus mostly on him and his medical condition – but there was also a lot about Ruth’s life and memories of the past, which – and I appreciate it – in a book about a character suffering from dementia is logical and foreseeable.

The characters are not perfect, all of them have their flaws but this make them more realistic and believable. Ruth is the main heroine in this story. She agrees to quit her job and leave her life behind to move back with her parents and look after her father while her mother is working. Ruth herself felt very normal, very casual. Overall I had a feeling that we don’t know too much about the characters, that they are mostly superficial. What I really liked when it comes to the characters is how well the author could describe the impact of Alzheimer’s on all of them – the affected and afflicted ones.

At the beginning it was hard for me to get into this story, and I am not sure why. Maybe because of the Ruth character herself, there was something in her that made me feel there is a distance between me and her, that she isn’t allowing me to get too close to her. I was also not sure about her choices and there were moments I really didn’t know what kind of point she’s making. There is not a lot happening in this story. Present is interwoven with past, we got to know about Ruth’s break – up and a little about her past but it mostly focuses on her relationship with her ex – boyfriend.

What confused me was not the fact that it was written in a diary format, this only made the reading quicker and easier, without going to deep into descriptions, but that it suddenly switched from telling Ruth’s story to keeping track of what her father was doing. It was as if the author has just recalled, wait, it is about Ruth’s dad, let’s write about him now. It felt too rushed and too forced for me, to be honest. I appreciate the idea – keeping this track is done in the same way as Ruth’s dad has written about her in a notebook he gave her to her birthday (one of the best moments in the book were the short notes Howard has written when she was a child. They are incredibly sweet and they brought smiles to my face but they also pull at the heartstrings, as they’re also such touching and they remind you of the farthest, cherished memories), but maybe it should have been done earlier? Or interwoven into the story?

Altogether, “Goodbye, Vitamin” is a melancholic story about family and how important it is to appreciate it, and every day we can spend with our closest ones. It is filled with funny and sad moments, with lovely memories that it is so nice to keep. A bitter – sweet and very sharp – observed novel about forgetting and forgiving and healing , and some of those observations may feel raw but I liked this rawness.

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

 

32708427Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 1st June 2017

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

Number of pages: 416

Genre: Mystery & Thriller,, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

There’s trouble in paradise. . .

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight’s retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy. It should be paradise, but it’s turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes. After everything they’ve been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all – where has her husband gone?

Rating: four-stars

Tina Seskis is a new author to me, although I’ve of course heard about her novels before – however, The Honeymoon is my first read by this author. And judging by the feelings it caused in me, I’ll sooner rather than later treat myself to Ms Seskis’s whole backlist, as this book was truly something different, something refreshing and unexpected.
This review may come as raw and not well organized but it is because I live in fear that I’m going to let something slip and spoil the reading for you, and this I would never forgive myself. It isn’t easy to tell you then why this book was so special and so please, just do trust me when I say that this novel is going to entice you and will probably put you off planning a holidays to the Maldives. Joking. Nothing will put me off. Or, maybe…?

In The Honeymoon we follow Jemma, freshly married and on her honeymoon in Maldives. Sadly, the holidays doesn’t turn out to be such relaxing and full of love as you could expect – Jemma’s husband has gone missing. We are then introduced to other characters, Jamie and Dan and get to know that Jemma has past with both of them. The story is told mostly from Jemma’s point of view, and we quickly start to doubt in her, she’s a truly unreliable narrator and she knows how to mess with our minds. It’s only much later that the other characters’ points of view are being used – however, I think they don’t explain much. Jemma’s story is told jumping between the past and the present and we get a chance to learn about her life, her background, her history and what happened in the lead – up to the honeymoon. Jemma was not the most likeable person, to be honest. She seemed really not to know what it is she wants from her life, she behaved as if everything and everyone should dance to her tune. She was frustrating, and I really couldn’t warm to her. She was spoilt and behaved like the worst sort of princess and truly, those feelings of dislike made you feel uncertain and you start to wonder what really happened, IF something really happened, and if it’s truth that Jemma doesn’t remember the night that her husband disappeared. Does she have anything to hide? Or the other characters are the ones that hide something? Because all the other characters felt also so very untrustworthy, guys, to be honest, but it only made the reading even more exciting and suspicious. But altogether, the author has brilliantly described her characters.

There is not any of this overwhelming tension in this novel but you still have a feeling that any time something can happen but you have no idea what – and I had many assumptions but, of course, I was far, far away from the truth. You know, you can often see books being advertised having incredible twist but you can see this twists coming almost immediately. This time, however, this twist was unexpected, unforeseen, and so shocking that I really didn’t know what to do with it. I loved what the author has done when writing about Jemma’s husband missing. I can bet anything that you’ve also assumed who her husband is – in fact, I skim – read the first part of the book once more, just to make sure that I haven’t missed anything – it was so brilliantly done!
The only thing that bothered me a little was the fact that the book was relatively slow, there was not a lot happening and just too often it felt a little bit to repetitive. Yes, I do understand that for this kind of a story the pace was actually right but it was the repetitiveness that slowed it down even more.

The descriptions of the little Maldivian island were so incredibly vivid, so easily brought to life and it was so easy to imagine the heat of the place, to feel the hot sun on your skin. However, even though it was a real paradise, there was a claustrophobic feeling to it – maybe because it was so isolated? Or maybe because Jemma felt this way?

It is slow burning and the author brilliantly builds the tension, right from the very first page and she keeps us guessing to the very end – it doesn’t happen often and the more I enjoyed the book. It sucks you in and you can’t help but start thinking why did Jemma’s husband disappeared – and there were plenty of possible scenarios, and it was brilliant to discover them and be kept in uncertainty.
The whole story is split into four parts, with the chapters jumping between past and present. It is full of surprises, red – herrings and dead – ends. Addictive and haunting, a novel about regrets, secrets, mistakes and misunderstanding. As usually, I had my own suspicions, but they changed so often and of course I was wrong. Yes, I guessed who but only when it was revealed to us, so this and the circumstances were like a bolt out of the blue and it made my stomach somersault – and I am sure it’s going to stay with me for a long, long time to come.

So this book, guys. Seriously. It had me hooked and it had me race through the pages because I desperately wanted to know what’s going on and what’s going to happen. This claustrophobic feeling was overwhelming, because just imagine – one small island and SOMETHING has happened there, right? I mean, Jemma’s husband must be somewhere, no? Then the end. So controversial and to be honest I am still not sure what to think about it, but it MADE me think, and wonder, and consider. I can bet anything that nobody will work this end out. I am not sure if there were any clues leading to this end, to be honest, or if the author so masterfully has pulled wool over my eyes. It was so clever and so tricky. A story about obsession and revenge, resentment and jealousy, about messy relationships and family dynamics. The author has created a great psychological thriller that kept me on my tenterhooks till the end. Shocking and thought provoking – recommended from me!

The Summer House by the Sea by Jenny Oliver

The Summer House by the Sea by Jenny Oliver

 

33870917Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 18th May 2017

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

Number of pages: 352

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

Rating:  two-stars

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

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

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

Book of the Month : May + Q&A with the Authors

Hi guys! It’s June (already) and it is time to share my favourite May reads with you. It was a great month bookish – wise (OK, and life was also not so bad, except for some not too great news but also some good ones), I rated many of the books with 5*. But – there were two novels that literally took my breath away. Two very different ones, different genres but both of them exceptionally brilliant. Moreover – I have a big, great pleasure to also share Q&As with both Authors, so scroll down and enjoy!

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I already can’t imagine summer and winter without Lisa Dickenson’s books. I love Lisa and I love her novels and one day, when I go to the UK, I want to meet her personally (be warned, Lisa!), so there. May has seen her lovely, gorgeous, summery “Catch Me if You Cannes” being published and even though I’ve read the book some time ago when it was published in the four – part – series I can’t describe how lovely it was to see the story as a whole, beautiful paperback version. Here you can read my review of this brilliant novel and here is also the promised Q&A with the Author.

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  1. Lisa, “Catch Me if You Cannes” is my book of the month (please do act as if you were really surprised!), so let’s talk about the book – who should play the characters should the book be made into a film? (and it should!!!)

Thank you thank you thank yooooooooou!  I’d like to thank my mum, my dad, my husband, my future dog, my Agi, my TV – oh, sorry, I went off on an Oscar speech tangent.  Thank you SO MUCH though for picking Cannes as your book of the month, this is muchas exciting!  Okay, who do I want on my casting couch (oo-er!)…

  1. Jess – our bubbly Marilyn Monroe.  This is a tough one!  Maybe Emilia Clarke, Ellie Kemper or Hayden Panettiere?
  2. Bryony – cool and confident, I’m going to go with Zoe Saldana, Michaela Coel or Zendaya
  3. Leo – lovely Leo… he’s gotta be strong and fit, but also a bit of a loveable goofball.  Hmm… why don’t you choose your perfect Leo, Agi  (OK, here we go. It’s not going to be an actor. Whatever, whenever, however, no matter what  – it must be Enrique Iglesias Bildergebnis für heart emoticonsSo there. You know now my biggest secret 🙂
  1. And if you were to go to the opening night, what would you wear?

Oh, it would have to be some amazing red-carpet-worthy gown reminiscent of old Hollywood.  Maybe the colour of the Cote d’Azur ocean.  I think I’d channel Marilyn Monroe, in honour of Jess!

  1. How much fun was it to write “Catch Me if You Cannes”? (Because I am so sure it was a great fun!)

I loved writing Cannes!  I felt inspired by old classics like Some Like It Hot and new female buddy stories like Bridesmaids.  I liked writing a caper for a change, and the Cannes Film Festival seemed the perfect setting for a couple of misfits to lose themselves in.

  1. You were in Cannes, right? What did you like best there?

The whole atmosphere of the place.  I expected to feel like I wouldn’t fit in (not that that would ever stop me going somewhere!) but actually it was welcoming, beautiful, calm and clean.  The glitziness never felt too exclusive, and this is partly what gave me the idea for Jess and Bryony, who travelled there full of white lies and assumptions…

  1. Are you choosing the lovely places you set your books specifically, so that the research is even more exciting?

I’m a bit of a travel bug, and I fall in love with some places pretty easily.  So what more often occurs is that I go somewhere (or re-go somewhere), find it magical, and then dream up storylines while I’m there.  Or when I’m back home, stuck in the post-holiday blues.

  1. There are tons of funny situations in your novel – how do you write them? Did they happen to you or are they completely fictional?

Why thank you, darlin’, I do try *hair flick*  There might be nuggets of things that have happened to me in my books, but I usually amp them up a bit.  With Cannes especially I tended to always go with the rule of asking, ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen here…?’ and then making it happen!  But being a romantic comedy it’s never usually literally the worst thing!

  1. Now a thousand dollar question – what is your favourite scene in the book? Only ONE, pretty please 🙂

I like the entire scene at the Hotel Du Cap, where Jess and Bryony are trying to make it from the pier at the back of the hotel and out the front door, and they run into obstacles at every turn.  In my mind it plays out like they’re a golden-era Hollywood slapstick comedy duo, which is how I like to think of the whole book, in a way.

  1. What’s next for Lisa Dickenson?

WELL, Book 5 is nearly there and just gagging for a title to be added to it.  I also have some new storylines up my sleeve, some ideas for crime fiction, and also a secret project which will be taking off REALLY SOON, I hope!

  1. And a bonus question: Nutella with a spoon out of the jar or on toast?

Ooooooooooo, I love Nutella on toast, but there’s something about scoffing it straight from the jar with a spoon.  So my winner is SPOON.

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And now it’s time for my second book. It has totally blown me away, guys. It was unpredictable, surprising, full of twists and turns and it was totally addictive – when I say I couldn’t put it down, I mean it literally. Doesn’t happen often but it was the case with “The One” by John Marrshere is my review of this incredibly fresh and unique book, and here is Q&A with the Author!

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  1. John, I’m so sorry but I have to ask – how did you come up with the idea for “The One”? This book is so unique and full of surprises and I just need to know what inspired you to write this story.

My partner (also called John) and I were planning our New York wedding. While on an escalator on the London Underground, I wondered how much easier it’d be if there was something chemical inside us that matched you with your soul-mate. If you saw them, you’d just know they were made for you, like I felt about John. Four months later, draft one was complete.

 

  1. The novel is told from multiple points of view – how did you keep them all on track?

I kept all five of them on little dog leads in my head, and then when it came time to write them, I’d let them off to run around and see where they ended up. I don’t write methodically. So I skipped from character to character depending on my mood. The hardest part was when it was all complete and deciding on which order to place the characters. I decided to ease people in gently with Mandy in chapter one, then punch them in the stomach with Christopher the serial killer in chapter two.

 

  1. How carefully did you plan the novel in advance? It is so complex, with so many twists and turns – which I loved, BTW – and I wonder, did you have to stick to your plan or did the plot take you by surprise as well?

Once I had the characters in mind, I thought about trying to link them but then decided it would be too convoluted. So I kept them under the umbrella of the DNA test and let them go in their own directions. I ran all my ideas through my partner as he’s a great sounding board for that kind of thing despite the fact he rarely reads a book! Then I just started writing. Sometimes I even surprised myself with plot changes – spoiler alert – for example, with Mandy, it was never the intention for her Match Richard to still be alive. It was only as I wrote about his death that I changed my mind and thought it’d be more interesting to have him still breathing.

 

  1. A writer’s life is certainly not an easy one—from rejections to tough reviews, and so on. How did you get through the bad days?

I don’t have any, I really don’t. I’ve always had a full-time job throughout this process so fortunately, I’ve not had to reply on writing novels to pay the bills. I work as a journalist and as a result, I have a thick skin and can take criticism. My first book, The Wronged Sons, was rejected by 80 different publishers and agents which is why I decided to self-publish and it became a hit, enabling me to continue writing books in my spare time. Of course it’s not great to get bad reviews but it’s part and parcel of the job. People have the right not to like my books just as I have the right not to like every book I read. And I’ll never respond to a bad review, no matter how tempting it can be!

 

  1. What did you want your readers to take away from your story? Was there a hidden message within?

I guess the point of The One was to encourage readers to ask themselves if such a test existed, would they take it? If so, why? What about those who are in a relationship already? In a world that appears to be speeding up rather than slowing down, sometimes we all need to take time out to appreciate what we have, not what we could have.

 

  1. What was your most favourite and least favourite aspect of writing “The One”?

The first draft is always interesting, and the second draft is fun, tinkering with ideas and expanding upon them. The version I hate the most is the final proof. By then, I am so sick of reading the same 104,000 words over and over again. This book was the first time I worked with an editor, Emily Yau at Ebury, who also discovered The One when it was a self-published book called A Thousand Small Explosions. Her suggestions were so, so good and she made the process a pleasure.

 

  1. I think you must have been asked thousand of times already but please bare with me – would YOU take the test? Why yes/why not?

Ha! Yes, I have been asked it once or twice and the answer is always the same – no! As I addressed in the book, so many people think the grass is greener on the other side and they are always striving for something new, something more exciting than they already have. Invariably, they never get it. I married nine months ago and have found my One. I don’t need to take a test to reassure myself. 

 

  1. What’s next for John Marrs?

The Wronged Sons now has a publisher of its own and is re-released on July 13 with a fresh new edit and title, now called When You Disappeared. My next brand new novel, tentatively called The Good Samaritan – a psychological thriller – is scheduled for release in November this year. And I’m about to start writing book five.

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys. Today I have a new blog tour for all of you. It is for Benjamin Ludwig’s debut novel “Ginny Moon” and a really have no words to describe how special and wonderful this book is – you just have to read it for yourself, then I am sure you’ll understand what I mean. Next to my gushing review there is an excerpt 1 (Read the second part of the chapter at Jaffa Reads Too) – put your feet high and enjoy!

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

33370511Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 1st June 2017

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret…

‘Brilliant’ – Graeme Simison, author of The Rosie Project

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up….

After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her.

Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right…

A fiercely poignant and inspirational story a lost girl searching for a place to call home. Ginny Moon will change everyone who spends time with her.

Rating: five-stars

Recently I was able to read some fiction novels featuring autistic children as main characters, introducing us to their different worlds. “Ginny Moon” is the first novel about a girl but it is exactly as complex and empathetic as all the other books that I had a pleasure to read. However here the author, Benjamin Ludwig, actually never mentions Ginny’s autism. We know she is in a special classroom, she takes part in the Disabled Olympics playing basketball, we see her problems and the way she perceives the world and we also see the autistic traits, such as having exactly nine grapes for breakfast, keeping eye on her watch and the exactness of the time, the comfort of routine, but the author doesn’t emphasize the disability so visibly, and I loved the way he dealt with it. It gives us a chance to see a true Ginny, not only in the light of her autism.

Ginny Moon, the main character in this novel, is written in such a brilliant way that it’s truly hard to describe in words how brilliant she was. She was so special – and not because she was autistic, but because she was incredibly brave, honest and true to herself. She was taken away from her Birth Mom Gloria by Social Services when she was nine years old – until then she’s been living the unimaginable, suffering emotional and physical abuse from her drug – addicted mother. Before she found herself in her Forever House, she’s been with two “Forever Families”. Now she lives in Blue House, with Forever Mom Maura and Forever Dad Brian. Everything seem great, that is until a child of the Forever Parents is born and Ginny tries to organize her own kidnapping. She still lives in the past, when she was 9 years old and was taking care of her Baby Doll – and she thinks she must take good care of her.

Reading Ginny’s story was so heart – breaking! I couldn’t help but fell in love with this brave, exceptional girl, and the way she was then treated by Maura truly broke my heart. Ginny was so lovely with her love to Michael Jackson and all the things “exactly”, not “approximately” – she needed exactly nine grapes for her breakfast. There was such a huge burden she was carrying and nobody believed her, and I can only imagine how frustrated Ginny must have felt, even though she couldn’t put those feelings in words. Her goal was to help her Baby Doll and she’s prepared to do anything, no matter the consequences – because I think that she realizes that there are going to be consequences. She was able to pair off the facts and she was wise.

Ginny’s Forever Parents were so genuine, with all the distress, stress, despair but also concern, this was portrayed in such a realistic way. I don’t want to have a go at Maura, I really don’t want, but there were moments that I despised her. On the one hand I truly understood where she was coming from, I got her fear but on the other hand I just couldn’t accept the way she changed. However, I think, it was all done on purpose, so that we all get a very realistic and honest picture of how complicated and difficult it can be when you adopt a child, especially a child with special needs.

What makes the story even more special is the fact that it’s told from Ginny’s point of view. We get through her life together with her, we know her thoughts and fears and we know that there is a huge burden that doesn’t let her sleep. The author has done a brilliant job unlocking her world to us and letting us understand. Ginny will easily worm her way into your heart, it is impossible not to love and admire her, the girl with the biggest heart in the world. Her characters is so complex and it feels so incredibly authentic, she’s quirky, wise and courageous, even if she doesn’t know it herself. The writing style is brilliant, running smoothly, and the author has done an incredible job with getting into Ginny’s head and showing us the world from her perspective. I personally can’t believe that it’s only Benjamin Ludwig’s debut novel – it is so complex, so intelligent and touching upon so many difficult issues without making the book feeling desperately sad.

“Ginny Moon” is a beautiful, gentle and realistic story about families, love, relationships, domestic abuse and communication within a family. It is a unique, outstanding read that will break and then mend your heart, and then break it again. However, there is so much hope in this read, it is also uplifting and somehow healing. It is poignant and inspiring, with wonderful characters. It is full of empathy. This story captures your heart immediately, it is written with so much insight and understanding, I’ve no idea how the author has managed to get into Ginny’s head so extremely well, but he’s done it. It deeply moved me, this book. Gorgeous, compelling read, a real tear – jerker – highly recommended! I am truly happy to be able to have read this novel and I hope you will buy your own copy – if I hadn’t received mine for the review purposes, I’d buy it in any case.

EXTRACT

2:50 in the Afternoon, Wednesday, September 8th

My Forever Parents are outside the door of Mrs. Lomos’s tiny office. “Let’s step into the conference room, Ginny,” says Mrs. Lomos.

We take five steps to get to the conference room which is across the hall. My Forever Parents sit at the table so I sit too. “Hi, Ginny,” my Forever Mom says.

“Hi,” I say back to her. She sits with her hands on her big round belly which is as big as a basketball. My Forever Dad’s belly is big too and his face is round but he doesn’t have a white beard or a nose like a cherry.

“Ginny, your parents came in to talk about what happened last night with the electronic baby,” says Mrs. Lomos.

I sit and wait for them to talk. But they don’t.

“They let me know that you put it in a suitcase,” says Mrs. Lomos. “Is that true?”

“Do you mean the plastic electronic baby?” I say.

She looks at me funny. “Yes, of course,” she says.

“Then yes,” I say.

“Why did you put it there?”

I make sure my mouth is shut so no one can see inside my brain. Then I look at her over my glasses. “Because it was screaming,” I say.

“So you decided to hide it under all your blankets and zip the suitcase shut?”

“No,” I say. “I kept my quilt out.” Because my quilt is the only thing I have left from the apartment. Gloria’s own Frenchy mom helped her make it when she ran away to Canada with me after she had me in a hospital. They made it together for me and for no one else. I used it all the time to wrap my Baby Doll in.

“All right, but why didn’t you try to comfort the baby?” says Mrs. Lomos.

“I did try to comfort the plastic electronic baby,” I say. “I said ush, ush, ush like you’re supposed to and I tried to give it my fin­ger but the hole in its mouth didn’t open. I gave it a bottle too.”

“And that didn’t work?”

I shake my head no.

“Did you do anything else to make the baby be quiet?” my Forever Dad says.

I make sure my mouth is closed again so no one can see inside. I shake my head a second time.

Because lying is something you do with your mouth. A lie is something you tell.

“Are you sure?” he says. “Think hard.”

So I think hard. About keeping my mouth closed.

“Ginny, there’s a computer inside the electronic baby,” says Mrs. Lomos. “It keeps track of how many times the baby is fed and changed, and how long it cries. It even keeps track of strikes and shakes.”

Read the second part of the chapter at Jaffa Reads Too as part of the Ginny Moon Blog Tour.

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig is out now! [Hardback, £12.99]

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