The Break by Marian Keyes

The Break by Marian Keyes

 

34511798Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 7th September 2017

Source:  Purchased

Number of pages: 576

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Amy’s husband Hugh isn’t really leaving her.

At least, that’s what he promises. He is just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. For six-months Hugh will lose himself in south-east Asia, and there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.

Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . .

It’s been a long time since Amy held a briefcase in one hand and a baby in the other. She never believed she’d have to go it alone again. She just has to hold the family together until Hugh comes back.

But a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?

Because falling in love is easy. The hard part – the painful, joyous, maddening, beautiful part – is staying in love.

Rating: five-stars

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Hello? One of the hugest Marian Keyes’s fans speaking: yours truly. For years she’s been probably my favourite author ever. I wasn’t lucky enough to receive an ARC of Marian’s new book “The Break” and being declined to read this title on NetGalley has broken my heart in thousands little pieces, but no worries guys, I’m a tough cookie and already had the book on pre – order.
I have no idea how this author does it but when you read her books you feel like a part of the story, like a part of the characters’ lives. Her stories, also “The Break” as well, are heart – breakingly sad and funny at the same time, they are down to earth, realistic, incredibly wise, brutally honest and so cleverly funny. I’ve never had a problem to fell in love with her characters and to keep everything crossed for them.

We are introduced to tons of characters in this story. Tons, guys! But fear not, you are to quickly learn who is who and why and to whom they belong. First of all, Amy’s family is huge, very huge, and all of her siblings has their own spouses and children. Then we have her friends, private and from work, then we have her children and their friends and boyfriends, and Hugh’s family… And believe me, I loved all of them! I adored Amy from the very beginning and wanted to hug her so much and tell her that everything is going to be ok (hopefully). She goes to her own limits, trying to cope as a suddenly single parent, juggling work, life, family and thousands of problems that start to pile on. Even though she’s devastated, she still picks herself up and goes on. However, she was not alone on this journey, there were her sisters, her family, especially her mother and her feisty daughters who kept her upright and supported her in their own ways – sometimes it was not what Amy needed right now but nevertheless it was wise and honest and they all wanted the best for her. Amy’s personality was so uncomplicated, she was happy with all things she got from life (well, of course except with her husband going on sabbatical, that is), she was so true to life, confident and insecure, with a great sense of humour, honest and true to her words and a huge ability to enjoy the world. Hugh was so selfish but I also couldn’t help but fell for him as well, and there was such an overwhelming feeling of grief and sadness in him, and the author so well nailed all of those feelings and emotions that made him tick.

The pacing in this story was great – it was a rather long book but there was never a dull moment and before you know it, you’re deep into it. The flashbacks gave us a chance to get to know more about Amy and Hugh’s relationship and what made them tick so great. The houseful of females provides great entertainment, brings thousands of shenanigans, and the normal, everyday problems that all of us has to deal with and I absolutely loved it!

Marian Keyes’s style is inimitable and there is Marian Keyes and then for a long, long time nothing else. She’s written “The Break” in her usual light, witty and insightful style and even when she writes about deeper and often taboo topics it’s forthcoming and not judging. She’s one of the few that can write about abortion, depression, suicide without offending anyone and getting the balance between sad and funny brilliantly.

“The Break” was full of dramas, small and huge, and brilliantly captured family bonds. It touches on some more serious and some lighter issues. It is first of all about love, but also about death and grief, health issues, patchwork families and how they work, betrayal, temptations and also your everyday troubles and issues. It’s about overcoming those troubles and staying strong. It’s about choices. It was compelling, emotional, complex and so wise! A book with unforgettable characters that’s going to stay with you for a long time after you’ve finished reading it, with plenty of emotional but also plenty of this incredible Irish charm and humour. Highly, highly recommended!

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And a Sixpence for Luck by Lilac Mills / #BlogTour + Giveaway

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And a Sixpence for Luck by Lilac Mills

36114226Publisher: Lilac Tree Books

Publishing Date: 30th September 2017

Source:  Received for blog tour purposes

Number of pages: 270

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Daisy Jones has hit rock bottom. Or so she believes.

A cheating boyfriend, trouble at work, having to move back in with her mother, and being forced to compare her brother’s loved-up, newly-wed status and brand-new shiny house with her own dire lack of prospects, isn’t what she imagined her life was going to be like at thirty. To top it all off, Christmas, is just around the corner!

Daisy, bless her, thinks things can’t possibly get any worse, but when her ancient great-grandmother persuades her to plant a silver sixpence in the Christmas pud for luck, Daisy is about to discover that they most definitely can.

Rating: three-stars

Lilac Mills is a new author to me and as I loved the synopsis to “And the Sixpence for Luck” I didn’t hesitate long to take part in this blog tour. The colourful cover of this book just shouted “read me” and I was so in need for something optimistic and witty.

The plot was not very complicated, there were not many twists and turns that changed the current. It was mostly on the predictable side and there were not many surprises thrown my way. The jumping to conclusions, while intended as light – hearted and funny, eventually started to annoy. But please, don’t get me wrong, it was a relatively funny, festive read but it just didn’t wow me and for me it was just too clichéd to rate it with more stars. I am probably spoiled by the many books I read, or maybe I should say I’m damaged by the many books that I read because now the read must be exceptional for me, and “A Sixpence for Luck” was an average one. I don’t mean it was wrong, oh my, I’m far from saying it, but it is not a book that is going to stay with me for long.

It was a light and relaxed read, and I appreciate author’s attempt at the humour but for me it was mostly perfectly obvious, too far fetched and it felt too forced. Some of the characters, like Daisy’s great – grandmother, annoyed me like you wouldn’t believe – I know she was supposed to be cute with her one – liners and strong opinions but for me it all sounded too plastic and unnatural. Daisy was a nice leading character though, and my heart went to her on so many occasions and at the many disappointments that she had to experience in her life. I liked how she was willing not to take herself too seriously and I really, really admired that she stayed so strong and kept her head up with so many unfortunate mishaps. I mean, there is bad luck and there is bad luck, right? And Daisy was very prone to accident.

Altogether, it was a nice enough story about staying positive and never losing your hope and good humour, and seeing positive even when the situations are far from being funny. If you are looking for a light and festive story than this can be a read for you. The writing style was engaging and easy to follow and as the novel itself was not too complex it made for an easy, relaxed read with some cheeky humour added.

GIVEAWAY:

You can win a signed copy of the book and a silver sixpence necklace – open international!

: a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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The Pets at Primrose Cottage Part 1 by Sheila Norton

The Pets at Primrose Cottage: A Place to Hide by Sheila Norton

 

34659312Publisher: Ebury Digital

Publishing Date: 23rd November 2017

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

Number of pages:

Genre:  General Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

PART ONE of a serialised novel – a charming and romantic story about living the simple life and the joy of animals.

Emma Nightingale needs a place to hide away. Pursued by the demons left by her ex-boyfriend, she takes refuge in quiet Crickleford, a sleepy town in Dartmoor, where she can lay low.

Life in Crickleford is quiet and peaceful, but it won’t be for long if people discover the truth about Emma’s past. Not wanting to make too much of a fuss, she ends up lying about why she’s there – she’s looking after some cats, she says – then suddenly the town’s new ‘pet-sitter’ is in high demand!

While looking after an Alsatian, Emma finds all attention is on her, and the handsome young reporter from the local paper takes an interest in her story…

Rating: four-stars

I got to know Sheila Norton after reading her previous serialized novel “The Vets at Hope Green” and when I spotted “The Pets at Primrose Cottage” available for request on NetGalley, I didn’t hesitate long and requested the story.

I think I can guess what has happened in Emma’s past, why did she move back from New York to Devon – there were enough hints for my liking but nevertheless, I am of course curious if my assumptions are right, so I am already looking forward to the next parts, especially as I really liked this novella. It was sweet and charming, optimistic and very promising. And even if I had a huge problem with Emma, to be honest, she made me feel almost desperate. I couldn’t understand why she feels the need to tell so much lies. Yes, there was a reason, she was hiding (we don’t know why, but I am sure more details will be revealed in the next parts) but really, no matter what situation, no matter what person, no matter what about, she has never told the truth. And it started to annoy, and bother me, and I didn’t like to see her digging a hole for herself with her lies – she seemed as she was not capable of telling the truth.
However, there was something in Emma that made me like her and fell for her. She is full of life and light.

Sheila Norton’s writing style in this novella is warm and chatty and she brings the setting, the situations and the characters to life. It was cosy, I liked the atmosphere of the sleepy town and adored the great number of the four – legged characters. I can’t help it but I’m comparing “The Vets at Hope Green” and “The Pets at Primrose Cottage” all the time, and “The Pets” feel much better and much more promising, and I can only hope that it’s going to continue in this lovely way.

How Not to be a Bride by Portia MacIntosh

How Not to be a Bride by Portia MacIntosh

 

36103295Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 17th October 2017

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Definitely, maybe…yes?
Mia Valentina gave up her high-flying life in LA to move back to Kent over four years ago. But it turns up that life in the slow lane isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

So when her boyfriend Leo proposes, she says yes, hoping it will bring some much needed sparkle back into her life. The trouble is, Mia never wanted a big white wedding, just the happy ever after…

The laugh-out-loud, uplifting new book from Portia MacIntosh, author of It’s Not You, It’s Them. Perfect for fans of Rosie Blake and Sophie Kinsella.

Rating: three-stars

I am a huge fan of Portia MacIntosh’s novels and I was so looking forward to reading “How Not to be a Bride” – already the title made me smile and I really hoped that it’s setting the mood for the rest of the story. And I absolutely got the fact that Mia didn’t want to get married – I have never dreamed about fluffy bouncy wedding dress and only thinking about the first dance and all those traditions that are mandatory at the wedding made me cringe, and big weddings are a real nightmare for me, so yes, Mia, I know what you meant – when married, then in the simplest way!

Portia’s writing style is, as usual, easy and light – hearted and this was a quick read full of great one – liners. A story about making decisions, small and huge and realising what it is that you want from your life. It was refreshing and of course brutally honest, but in a funny way, filled with situations all of us can relate to, cringe with embarrassment and whisper “I’ve been there, I’ve seen this”. My only problem with this book were characters, I couldn’t warm to them and probably I didn’t “get” them enough to enjoy them more. I really wasn’t sure about Mia, if she truly knew what it is she wants. The more I read about her relationship with the wonderful fireman Leo (her words, not mine. I personally didn’t think Leo is wonderful), the more often I was asking myself the question why she’s with him at all, is he the right person for her. I was starting to ask myself if they really are destined to be together, if there really are chances for them to be happy and wondering why are they together at all. There was something that was not working for me in this relationship and it bothered me the whole story.

“How Not to be a Bride” was filled with ups and downs of everyday life and problems, full of troubles in paradise and jumping to conclusions, and this all brought to us in a great, light way. There was all the time something happening in this story and I think it’s great, as it kept me glued to the pages and I truly wanted to know what’s going to happen and what kind of troubles is Mia going to get herself.

The Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft

The Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft

 

36368810Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 2nd November 2017

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Alexia Kennedy – interior decorator extraordinaire – has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community café it’s always dreamed of.

After months of fundraising, the villagers can’t wait to see work get started – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.

But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.

However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…

Settle down with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine as you devour this irresistibly festive Christmas tale. The perfect read for fans of Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

Rating: four-stars

 

I am always looking forward to a new Sue Moorcroft book and I adore her Christmas offerings. Maybe “The Little Village Christmas”, the newest release, is not strictly a very Christmassy story but there is enough spirit to make it feel very festive and it was a joy to read.

The characters are really well drawn, both Alexia and Ben, as well as the background characters, feel like real people. However, I had some problems to warm to them and to somehow take them seriously – no idea why! It annoyed me a little that Ben seemed all the time to be so grumpy and while I could see his reasons I also wanted to shake him and tell him that his situation is not the other people’s fault. While Alexia was a really lovely girl she also seemed too forthright to me, I had a feeling she’s going through life elbowing her way. And for me one of the weakest characters in this story was Alexia’s friend, Jodie, who shouldn’t – no matter what the circumstances – just pack up her bags, literally and proverbially, and then expect her friend to run after her. What I did really like in the characters was the fact that they made mistakes and wrong decisions, got themselves into troubles but they were there for each other, they supported each other when the need arises.

Sue Moorcroft has brought the place to life through her lovely descriptions, of both the interior design and food – especially the design parts were brilliant, different to everything I normally read. The story also offers us a return to Middledip, a place that the readers may already recognize from Ms Moorcroft’s previous books – but it introduces us to a totally fresh characters.
Of course the story touches upon some serious issues that made the characters’ lives so much more difficult, but there wouldn’t be this story without them, right. There are many surprises on their ways, full of questions and I enjoyed seeing how all the puzzle elements fell into places.

Altogether, “The Little Village Christmas” was an uplifting and heart – warming story about never giving up, about trust, full of community spirit and friendship, a great read for the lead – up to Christmas. There is enough romance but also enough reality to not make it too sugary but down to earth and realistic.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng / #BlogTour

Hi guys, hope you are all having a great Thursday – it’s almost weekend, right? Today I’m very thrilled to welcome you to my stop on Celeste Ng’s blog tour – her new novel, “Little Fires Everywhere”,  is out today, as a beautiful hardcover copy, but what is between the covers is even more beautiful – this story took my breath away and I was like glued to the pages. It was an intriguing, captivating novel and I can’t wait for more from this author.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

 

35221049Publisher: Little, Brown

Publishing Date: 9th November 2017

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Rating: four-stars

Celeste Ng’s debut novel, “Everything I Never Told You”, is a part of my ever – growing TBR pile but I’ll make sure to clear some of my reading time to read this book as soon as possible, as “Little Fires Everywhere” has just blown me away – I expected it to be good but not this good, as it turned out to be a very clever, multi – complex book with unforgettable characters, a story about motherhood, manipulations and opinions, an absolutely hooking and captivating psychological mystery touching upon many taboos and controversies.

This book was a slow – burner. For me personally the story took off at around page 150 – I was then glued to the pages, while earlier it was a nice albeit slow read about things and events that at the first sight were not so significant to the rest of the story. But of course we needed this long introduction to figure out all the complex relationships, friendships, family dynamics and battles, and we move on, but in my opinion it was a little on the slow side. However, we get a great picture of what has happened and what has led to this tragic finale.

The characters in this book are incredibly vivid and so caught up in the little fires of the small town Shaker Heights – the author so incredibly well captured the atmosphere of this place, of its residents, the way they were ticking. The characters, the Richardsons, Mia and Pearl, then Bebe and the McCulloughs, they just pulled me into their lives. I was exposed to all kinds of emotions when reading about them and their lives, liking and disliking them, pitying them, feeling impatient with them.
The characters were not the most likeable ones – they were manipulative, they used each other, they were morally corrupt and mostly some of them had a feeling they’re of a better sort. They were full of flaws that they were trying to hide from other, prying eyes and on the surface their lives seemed perfect, even though they were far from it. I’ve been actually changing my mind about them, and it doesn’t happen often that my feelings and emotions vary so much during reading and even now, days after finishing the novel, I still find myself changing my perspective and opinion.

It was a brilliant description of relationships, of how the behaviour of the others may affect you and the way you behave – a great psychological portrait. It is very character – centred and they create a very powerful and intriguing story. I loved the fact that the author isn’t judging any of the characters, letting us to have our own opinions, and even though I was sure on which character’s side I’m on, I started to have doubts as well. Am I right to think so? Are the characters really white or black, good or bad? I love when the stories are not straightforward and make you think, and this was this kind of a story.

It was thought – provoking, compelling and intriguing domestic drama. It was raw, emotional, and sharp observed about small – town politics, about hypocrisy, about tragedies, small and big, full of surprises and brilliantly well crafted characters. However, I must admit that I am not the hugest fan of the end to this story. It is left open, and it is this kind of a story that I’d love to have a closure, to know what has happened then – hence the four stars rating. But apart from this, I was really captivated by this multi – layered and clever story. Recommended!

 

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Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb / #BlogTour

Hi guys. Today I am delighted to be part of the “Last Christmas in Paris” blog tour. I do love a great historical fiction, and I am always intrigued by books written by two authors, and this novel brings both of those things. While I’ve already read and adored books written by Hazel Gaynor – they mostly make me cry like a baby but they are so beautiful! – Heather Webb was a new author to me that I am incredibly happy to have discovered for myself.

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb

 

34150794Publisher: William Morrow

Publishing Date: 3rd October 2017

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre:  Romance, Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

Rating: four-stars

I love to read great historical fiction and Hazel Gaynor is for sure one of the authors that can write in this genre. This time she has collaborated with Heather Webb, and together those two ladies have delivered a wonderful, poignant and heart – breaking novel, and a very unique one, as it is written in a letter format. There are literally only letters, and yes, at the beginning it was somehow hard to follow the story like this, without the usual descriptions of, I don’t know, people, their looks, the way they dress, places, weather, without dialogues, but it didn’t take me long to fell in love with the characters and the way the story was told.

Evie Elliott’s brother Will and his best friend Thomas leave to serve in World War 1. They all hope that war is going to end soon and that they’re going to see each other in a few months, in time for Christmas. They stay in touch via letters in which they describe all things that happens, their deepest thoughts, hopes and fears – out of those letters arises a story between a young and ambitious girl who wants to fight the war in her own way and becomes a spirited journalist, her reserved but loving brother and his best friend, those two new – minted soldiers, believing in all things good – that is, until they realise what war really is.

 There was one thing that didn’t really work so well for me, and it was the romance aspect between Evie and Tom.  All the time they were best friends and the sudden explosion of the love was this little bit unrealistic and out of the blue. I had a feeling that the authors concentrate on all things but the blossoming feelings, and then suddenly, towards the end, the love exploded and it felt much too rushed for my liking, too flawless. Also, the change in Evie after she went to the war was too forced for me, it just didn’t ring true, and was also too quick.

 But altogether,  it was a great love story, about dreams, disillusions and loyalty. What made it even more better was the fact that the authors so skilfully smuggled a lot of clever, sharp humour that was so needed when we faced all those tragedies. It was thoroughly researched and I didn’t have a feeling that it was written by two authors, maybe it was even better that it was written by two authors because the letters had their own distinctive voice and didn’t sound similar, as if written by the same person. Both authors writes in such an engaging, descriptive and rich style and they effortlessly transported me to a different times and different places.

In the end we receive a wonderful, touching and unique story that tugs at the heart strings. It made for a very fast read and it was, in fact, unputdownable – because it was always “just one more letter” and because it was so hooking and captivating. You somehow felt just like a part of the characters’ lives, probably because thanks to the letters, as they were so honest, there were no secrets, you knew all their feelings. Beautiful and poignant, a great book for fans of historical fiction – recommended from me!

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