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!

 

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Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom (Blog Tour + Guest Post)

Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom

 

33295222Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: 14th June 2018

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

Number of pages: 288

Genre: Travel, Non – Fiction, Memoir

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A wise, passionate account of the pleasures of travelling solo

In our increasingly frantic daily lives, many people are genuinely fearful of the prospect of solitude, but time alone can be both rich and restorative, especially when travelling. Through on-the-ground reporting and recounting the experiences of artists, writers, and innovators who cherished solitude, Stephanie Rosenbloom considers how being alone as a traveller–and even in one’s own city–is conducive to becoming acutely aware of the sensual details of the world–patterns, textures, colors, tastes, sounds–in ways that are difficult to do in the company of others.

Alone Time is divided into four parts, each set in a different city, in a different season, in a single year. The destinations–Paris, Istanbul, Florence, New York–are all pedestrian-friendly, allowing travelers to slow down and appreciate casual pleasures instead of hurtling through museums and posting photos to Instagram. Each section spotlights a different theme associated with the joys and benefits of time alone and how it can enable people to enrich their lives–facilitating creativity, learning, self-reliance, as well as the ability to experiment and change. Rosenbloom incorporates insights from psychologists and sociologists who have studied solitude and happiness, and explores such topics as dining alone, learning to savor, discovering interests and passions, and finding or creating silent spaces. Her engaging and elegant prose makes Alone Time as warmly intimate an account as the details of a trip shared by a beloved friend–and will have its many readers eager to set off on their own solo adventures.

Rating: four-stars

Stephanie Rosenbloom has done a thing that I’m dreaming about – she’s travelled alone to four different cities. I don’t actually have to travel around the world but being alone is high on my list of priorities. You know, I’m actually never alone, there is always someone around me, be it at work or at home, and a solitary minute is like a Utopia Island. I think I wouldn’t be afraid of travelling alone, I’d enjoy every single minute and use it in exactly the same way Stephanie Rosenbloom did. 

I usually don’t read books like “Alone Time”, which is a shame as I actually found this book informative and entertaining, interesting and refreshing. I absolutely admire how much research must have gone into the story, as it is full of facts and references – some of them I found amusing and interesting, and I’d do without the others but altogether it was something different and I truly learnt from this book. 

The author takes us on a journey through four cities – Paris, Istanbul, Florence and New York, during four seasons. There were incredibly vivid descriptions of food that made my mouth water, beautiful settings and descriptions of places and of course people the author has met during her travels. This all will give you solitude and courage to perhaps travel alone one day and enjoy your own company, to focus on things we usually take for granted instead of appreciating. It will show you that it is really worth to slow down and open your eyes and your tastes. And it will show you how great it is to make your own marks and memories. Full of tips and resources, it’s really worth reading, not only when you’re planning a solo excursion. It felt so relaxed, and it was also very well written . Stephanie Rosenbloom’s writing style is warm and inviting, insightful and it pulls you into the book. It is also full of depth but the author knows when to add a relaxed anecdote to make it even easier to follow and for us not to feel too overwhelmed with the facts.. I must also mention the gorgeous cover of this book – it’s simple but beautiful, and the blue colour is one of the most brilliant and friendly ones. It will be for sure standing out on the bookshelves.

Let’s stop in Florence for a moment – this stop was full of art. I loved the precise descriptions, the slow motion, the no – hurry, to see Florence through Stephanie Rosenbloom’s eyes like this. The one or two anecdotes or memories were an added bonus, of course, the secret place so worth mention. This destination was beautifully described, with so much heart and soul in every word, and the educational part was truly well balanced by humour and sharp observations.
Stephanie Rosenbloom has visited Florence in autumn and the descriptions of trees glowing yellow in the sunshine were so vivid, as well the descriptions of food and streets, and I really didn’t know there are streets like Death, Hell and The Way of the Discontented in Tuscany – but this book is so much more than a travel guide. Many great names are being mentioned in this chapter, just think about Michelangelo, Padre Pinocchio, The Birth of Venus, and I would really take someone’s arm off to see those things with my own eyes. There were brilliant, interesting facts mentioned that I would probably never hear about if I hadn’t read this book, and it was full of clever insights and observations. And now also check what 5 things you just have to see when in Florence:

 

Five Things Not to Miss in Florence Ex: Stephanie Rosenbloom

 FLORENCE

–The Uffizi is a must, as is the Vasari Corridor, the hidden passageway lined with some of the world’s best-known self-portraits— that is if you can get in. Still, even if you can’t, the Uffizi is unrivaled for Renaissance masterworks, including its leading lady: Botticelli’s Venus.

–Never mind the Piazza Michelangelo. Cross the Oltrarno and climb the hills to the Basilica of San Miniato, where you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the old city and the Duomo. While you’re there, go behind the basilica to visit the beautiful old cemetery, where a mausoleum houses the remains of Carlo Collodi, the author of Pinocchio.

–In the evenings, the city is alive with music. But there’s no need for formalities. Take yourself to a small church for a casual concert, as special as any in a grand concert hall.

–After hours inside some of the world’s most ornate museums and churches, get outside and wander amid the sculptures, grottos, and fountains of the regal Boboli Gardens.

–Yes, everyone goes to see Michelangelo’s David— and with good reason. Don’t miss the Galleria dell’Accademia. It’s one thing to see photos of the David, but quite another experience (and a moving one at that), to stand beside it.

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The House of Hopes and Dreams by Trisha Ashley / #BlogTour

The House of Hopes and Dreams by Trisha Ashley

 

37823355Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: 8th March 2018

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

Number of pages: 309

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 31.05.2018)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

This novel from the Sunday Times bestselling Trisha Ashley will more than satisfy romantic comedy fans. And it also contains recipes!

When Carey Revell unexpectedly becomes the heir to Mossby, his family’s ancestral home, it’s rather a mixed blessing. The house is large but rundown and comes with a pair of resentful relatives who can’t be asked to leave.
Still, newly dumped by his girlfriend and also from his job as a TV interior designer, Carey needs somewhere to lick his wounds. And Mossby would be perfect for a renovation show. He already knows someone who could restore the stained glass windows in the older part of the house…

Angel Arrowsmith has spent the last ten years happily working and living with her artist mentor and partner. But suddenly bereaved, she finds herself heartbroken, without a home or a livelihood. Life will never be the same again – until old friend Carey Revell comes to the rescue.

They move in to Mossby with high hopes. But the house has a secret at its heart: an old legend concerning one of the famous windows. Will all their dreams for happiness be shattered? Or can Carey and Angel find a way to make this house a home?

Heart-warming, witty and quirkily original, Trisha Ashley’s THE HOUSE OF HOPES AND DREAMS will delight both old fans and new readers alike.

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Trisha Ashley always takes us on brilliant, bumpy rides in her books and this time, in her newest offer, “The House of Hopes and Dreams”, it’s not different, as the main character tries to overcome a personal tragedy. This story is very artistic and there is a wonderful, creative side to it. This book has also one of the most gorgeous and inviting covers ever – it’s simply beautiful and I could look at it all the time. Hell, I’ll probably enlarge it and hang it on the wall, so magnificent is this.

“The House of Hopes and Dreams” follows two main characters, Carey and Angel. Carey is just recovering from a bike accident when he finds out that he’s just inherited a house from his uncle. It’s just in time, as he’s only lost his job as a house renovation program’s TV presenter.
Angel has just lost everything, literally. Her partner has died and she’s left with no house and no job, as he’s never managed to write his will and everything is inherited by his son who hates Angel. Both Carey and Angel are looking for a fresh start and as they’re old friends, Carey offers Angel a place to live and work, a use of the workshop on the property and to turn the house into a lovely place. The house, however, is a venue full of its own secrets, and it also comes with a bad – tempered housekeeper and a gardener. Will Carey and Angel be able to find out the residence’s past and move to a better future?

Trisha Ashley always creates unique and eclectic characters. I really like characters like Angel and Carey – creative and full of ideas. Also, they were likeable and believable. At the beginning I felt really sorry for Angel, then I felt somehow annoyed by her but altogether she was a woman who could stand for herself and take matters in her own hands. At the beginning, Angel just didn’t put a fight and let the things just happen, and it took a lot of time before she turned into the feisty, quirky typical Trisha Ashley’s heroine. Yes, it exasperated me but I think that what mostly made me so angry was the fact that she actually couldn’t put any fight because she was hard done by others and by circumstances, and probably it was this powerlessness that annoyed me so much.
Carey was easygoing and uncomplicated and it really made a difference to have such a character for once.

The narration in this story changes between present and past. We get to know the history of Mossby, the house that’s recently been inherited by Carey (and his story as well), in the brilliant area of Lancashire, told through the diary entries from over 100 years ago – this was a diary of a famous stained glass artist Jessie Kaye, who lived in Mossby this many years ago. They were a great, albeit brief, glimpses into her life, full of surprises and secrets and I liked them very much – and the story of Angelica, who’s suddenly found herself homeless and jobless after her partner’s death.

The stained glass thread was also very unique and you could see how many research has gone into bringing it to life so well but it was just too much for me, I really don’t need so many detailed info about stained glass, especially in such a story. There was something that I can’t put my finger on that didn’t work for me in this book. It was a feel – good novel and theoretically it had all the elements of a brilliant chick – lit with a twist and depth, but practically it didn’t deliver for me. Probably it was the case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, so please do not feel put out by my words and just read this book for yourself. There was really nothing wrong with it, it was a lovely, warm story, only for me “The House of Hopes and Dreams” was a book with stronger and weaker moments. and also the book had moments that it just dragged on and on, and also felt slightly repetitive. The parts about Carey’s plans, about Angel setting up to her new life and chances, they were lovely, but also they dragged and they weren’t as suspenseful. But also, there were many fascinating secrets, it was rich in adorable descriptions and it was complex, multi – layered tale and with a mystery running through it. I can only highly recommend this book to Trisha Ashley’s fans.

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Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

 

35437993Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: 8th February 2018

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected “until death do us part” to mean seven decades.

In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.

Rating: three-stars

With a Sophie Kinsella book you can be certain that you’re going to spent some relaxing hours, full of fun and laughter. And guys, let’s be honest, a new Kinsella’s book means bouncing off the walls with excitement, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like that.

In “Surprise Me” we meet Sylvie and Dan, a happily married couple with twins. They are a match made in heaven, they complete each other perfectly and they even finish each other’s sentences, so great is their marriage. During one of the obligatory health check’s they’re told they’re going to live for a very long time and spent at least the next 68 years together. It freaks them out a little, and so they decide that they’re going to surprise each other from now on, so that their marriage doesn’t go stale and they won’t be boring to each other. However, surprises can go two ways, right – either well or totally wrong, and mostly their surprises went the other way. And well, it also often happens that when you want to surprise your other half, you discover some secrets about them…

I had some problems to engage with the characters – I didn’t warm to them immediately, just like with the other Sophie Kinsella’s characters. I, in fact, didn’t warm to them completely till the very end. Sylvie was for me too spoiled, too self – obsessed and somehow too self – delusional. She just didn’t sound too authentic, and while I know that Kinsella’s characters DO have this element of being too freaky it just didn’t work for Sylvie, a 32 – year – old and mother of two 5 – years – old twins. And Sylvie was just annoying. And the fact that she called her parents “Mummy” and “Daddy” all the time was for me even more annoying. And the fact that she didn’t take Dan’s feeling into consideration and never stopped her “Daddy this” and “Daddy that” was annoying. However, what’s really, really good is the fact that Sylvie grew incredibly throughout the story and started to see things how they really were.
Dan… well, Dan. I had a feeling that he’s mostly absent and I was never really able to connect to him. The twins are mentioned but they’re also not a great part of the story.

Another thing that bothered me so much is the plot itself. The idea of this book was great, so smart and so unique and I couldn’t wait to see how it’s going to unveil and develop. The synopsis promises us a great fun and a long marriage full of surprises, however it funnelled in a totally different direction and it had almost nothing to do with the premise, with the surprises that I was already so thrilled about. It focused mostly on Sylvie’s deceased father and her almost obsession with him, her comparing her husband Dan with her father almost all the time and well, it confused me.
Then I’m not sure I completely understand while Sylvie and Dan panicked at the news that they’re going to spend approximately the next 68 years together, in good health. I personally would weep for joy, however our two characters start to panic at the thought of growing old together. Of having sex with each other. Of living together. Of spending time together. Hello? Why? Instead of happily awaiting what the future bring they turn onto insecure, neurotic, cagey people.

I wouldn’t be fair if I said there weren’t any surprises at all on the way. There were. But they were neither unique nor … surprising.
The final twist about Sylvie’s father… well, it made me roll my eyes, to be honest. I expected more from author this calibre.

So to be totally honest, it was not Sophie Kinsella’s best offer – but of course you’re going to find those elements of Kinsella that you’re used to. There are many hilarious moments but, as usual, there is a depth in this novel as well, and the author so easily and effortlessly switches from light to serious and the other way round. It is full of this Sophie Kinsella’s hallmark charm and humour and fun that captivates me always when reading her books.
Don’t get me wrong, guys. It was not a bad book. But from Sophie Kinsella I was expecting much, much more and I know she can write brilliant books with engaging, quirky characters.
It was the execution that failed here. But I am already looking forward to the author’s next offer.

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley / Blog Tour

Today I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of Trisha Ashley’s blog tour. Her brand new shiny novel was published on 9th March by Bantam Press and guys, whatever you say, I think this is my favourite book by this author! It’s for sure Trisha Ashley at her best and I would love to be able to read this book for the first time over and over again!

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley

 

Publisher: Bantam Press51tkwh9zp1l-_sx324_bo1204203200_

Publishing Date: 9th March 2017

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

Number of pages: 432

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback | Paperback (out on 29.06.2017)

 

Synopsis:

Alice Rose is a foundling, discovered on the Yorkshire moors above Haworth as a baby. Adopted but then later rejected again by a horrid step-mother, Alice struggles to find a place where she belongs. Only baking – the scent of cinnamon and citrus and the feel of butter and flour between her fingers – brings a comforting sense of home.

So it seems natural that when she finally decides to return to Haworth, Alice turns to baking again, taking over a run-down little teashop and working to set up an afternoon tea emporium.

Luckily she soon makes friends – including a Grecian god-like neighbour – who help her both set up home and try to solve the mystery of who she is. There are one or two last twists in the dark fairytale of Alice’s life to come . . . but can she find her happily ever after?

Wonderfully wry, heart-warming and life-affirming, Trisha Ashley’s hilarious novel is perfect for fans of romantic comedies by Milly Johnson and Jill Mansell. And it contains recipes!

Rating: 4/5

My relationship with Trisha Ashley’s books is very rocky – I seem to either love her books to bits or I can’t get into them. However, there is something so very special and unique in her writing that makes me always impatiently waiting for her every new release and I – really – count down the days to the publication days, wanting to see what she has in store for us this time and what an exceptional story is it going to be. I think that not only is the new “The Little Teashop of Lost and Found” one of Trisha’s best books but I also immediately fell in love with this cover – it. Is. Simply. Gorgeous. So warm and inviting.

The writing style was so typical Trisha Ashley – lyrical, poetical yet down to earth. I loved that this time the writing and the plot were not too exaggerated, too far – fetched, too eccentric as it sometimes happens with Ms Ashley’s novels. There was a bunch of great characters – there were many of them but they were introduced to us slowly, we had time to get to know them and I didn’t have problems to recognise who is who any why. I immediately fell for the main character, Alice – already the first pages made me warm to her and to sympathise with her so much and I felt so, so sorry for her and all the things that happened to her and I so admired her strength after so many rejections and bad luck. I hoped that eventually she will also find her place. She was a hard – working person who achieved everything she had in her life by herself. It was not a wonder that after dealing with one blow after another she’s had a moment of a mental breakdown – who wouldn’t have? However, she quickly recovered and, following the advice of her old friend Edie, decides to come back to her hometown, start a tea shop and – maybe – find her birth parents? She was also so good natured and full of trust – well, who would buy a cafe only after seeing it on the photos and because the owner has made such a good impression via Facebook messages? But Alice is a woman determined, she’s on a mission and she’ll open her tea shop no matter what. And – she’s going to publish her own novel, you just wait and see! I really liked her, and kept everything crossed for her, and it was so inspiring to see her get up after every new hurdle.
The Greek God Nile could have come at the first sight as rude, but guys, he turned out to be brilliant! And moreover, he brought a big, warm, welcoming family with him, and this was just what Alice needed! He also proved to be a great and patient friend to her and also supported her in her search for her biological parents. He was sarcastic, and the interactions between Alice and Nile were bloody brilliant! Well, Nile was bloody brilliant, with just my kind of humour – dry, sharp, intelligent. The banter between them was quick and sharp and funny and Nile’s one – liners summing up some of the situations were just best ever!

One of the main subplots in the story is Alice being abandoned as a baby and her looking for her biological parents. She was adopted and had a very loving father and not so loving mother but her father died when she was only 18 years old and well, there was not a place for her at home anymore with the devil step – mother. The story accompanies us through the whole book, and every chapter is preceded with short bits of information from the person’s who abandoned Alice point of view, which gives an insight into the motives, however I haven’t expected the outcome and it totally – TOTALLY – took me by surprise.

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I loved to read about the preparations for opening the tea shop. Alice’s head was full of great ideas, she has made the place so cosy and she also gave two “rudest waitresses” in Yorkshire, Tilda and Ness, that she “inherited” with the shop, a chance, and they were both brilliant. The descriptions of the food were mouth – watering, they really were, and I’ve read many books with delicious food in them but those ones were exceptional – my only regret is that there are no recipes in my review copy! What was also great was the fact that the book was not too predictable, and the different subplots could end in any possible way. There is no guarantee of a happy end, even though you so hope for one, and I loved this twisty and bumpy road to the last page. My only problem with this book was that the middle part dragged too much for my liking. There were many repetitions, the same situations and events were all the time spoken about and I had a feeling that more than often we’re just going round in circles.

“The Little Teashop of Lost and Found” is a lovely, uplifting story about finding love and friendship, about finding courage and following your dreams. It was a story with a feel – good factor. The plot and the characters are original yet not too exaggerated. Even though the title of the book is “The Little Teashop of Lost and Found”, and there is some delicious food mentioned, there are many other issues that the author touches upon, interweaving them seamlessly into the plot and you really don’t have to worry that it’s going to be another of the cupcakes books that are popping out around all the time. This book is just different, with characters that grow on you and get under your skin, and really, it is not the teashop that is the heart of the book, but it’s Alice, and her overcoming all the problems and letting the past go. Highly recommended!

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My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

 

30821597Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: 9th February 2016

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 13.07.2017)

 

Synopsis:

Cat Brenner is living the dream – she has a flat in London, a job in creative branding, and her Instagram feed is full of all the amazing things London has to offer: delicious food and beautiful sights and lots of fun. Ok, so the crappy truth is that she rents a tiny room in Catford with no space for a wardrobe, spends most of her days engaged in tedious admin on the other side of the city, and posts photos of food she could never ever afford to eat. But it’s all just about worth it.

Until her bright and shiny life comes crashing down: her demanding boss Demeter gives her sack, and with no means to live in London any more, Cat has to move home to Somerset. Now she’s plain old Katie Brenner again, helping out her dad and her stepmum as they attempt to launch a glamping business on their farm. (They think she’s on sabbatical from her job, and she can’t quite bear to tell them the truth…)

With Katie’s creative branding experience, the glamping is soon a big success. So much so that Demeter and her family book in on holiday – and Katie sees her chance to get revenge on the woman who ruined her dream. So long as Demeter doesn’t see beyond her disguise and give the game away to her parents, of course.

It’s time to see who’s the boss…

Rating: 4/5

Ah, the new Sophie Kinsella’s stand – alone novel! With absolutely brilliant title and incredibly promising synopsis – yes, I fell in love with the main character already after reading the blurb. I truly adored this book, guys, and with it Sophie Kinsella has proved that her place as the Queen of chick – lit is really not in danger – but she’s also shown that she can write characters that feel more mature and developed without losing their trademarked sense of humour. So really, this book was the best example of Sophie Kinsella’s brilliant writing, effortless story – telling and wittiness. It was funny, in this typical Kinsella’s style that is inimitable, the humour comes so natural to this author. A great romantic comedy, just what I expected from this author, and it is just great to know that when you reach for Sophie Kinsella’s book you know what you can expect and you get this delivered.

“My Not So Perfect Life” was really funny, fresh and uplifting and so up – to – date with all its references and also with it showing two versions of everything. While we think that our friends or other people may live the perfect life, much better than ours, those people can think exactly the same about us – and it is the same with Katie. She thought her boss’ Demeter’s life is perfect – even though Demeter herself seemed to be forgetful, flaky and running the office with an iron fist – but still, she was in awe of her. Things turn out to be a little bit different when Demeter comes glamping with her family – is her life truly as wonderful as Katie thinks?

The main character was brilliant, period. Katie is such a typical Kinsella’s character – young, with overactive imagination, with big ideas that not always are possible to be realised, not always telling the truth and yet she was likeable and realistic. A lovely girl and I much preferred the Katie version to the Cat one – Katie was much funnier and not so uptight and looked much better with her wild, curly hair, even with the blue version of them, and she has a Somerset accent, while Cat is the London – “better” – version of Katie, with straight hair and glasses that she doesn’t need. I really loved Katie and her spirit when after losing her job and initial grieving period she found a courage to do something totally different. She was creative and had a great sense of humour and really I wanted to applaud her when reading about her crazy ideas of revenge – they were brilliant, like a breath of fresh air! What I also so adored in this character was the fact that she was so very honest with the readers about her life – she might have kept some secrets from her friends and family but we were able to get to know every aspect of her (not so) perfect life. It was in fact a great author’s move as we really got to know Katie, got to understand why she was feeling like this and what was it that made her tick like this.
And of course all the other characters – brilliantly written, well drawn, thoroughly developed with all their ups and downs, all the flaws and problems but also sounding incredibly realistic – I mean, who of us has never lied about their lives, hm?

The setting of this story couldn’t be better and more different, as we are taken from London to a Somerset farm. Sophie Kinsella has brilliantly captured the difference between those places and when she was writing about commuting in London I had a feeling that I am on this train, squeezed between thousands of people, and when she was writing about the farm I had no problems to visualize this gorgeous place and right now there is nothing more that I want than spent my holidays glamping with Farmer Mick. And those two different places also perfectly symbolized Katie’s life.

As usual, there was a romance aspect in this story and it was great. It was just the right amount of romance, and it felt so genuine, guys – not too forced, not too pushed, a little awkward, with characters’ jumping to conclusions, but also not at all predictable and it could go many ways. It wasn’t overdone, it didn’t monopolise the story – simply, there was just the right amount of love in the air.

I really appreciated the little “mystery” that the author embroiled into the plot, even though I really quickly guessed who and why was it. But it made the story even more hooking, to be honest. I also adored Kate’s relationship with her father and her step – mother Biddy! Those two were so great and oh my word, they tried so much when it came to London and Katie, and it just showed how much they loved this girl. Katie’s father Mick was hilarious with his business’ ideas. And the writing was warm, inviting and incredibly vivid.

But the story was of course not as straight – forward as we at first can think! It changes tracks and offers us many twists and turns and Katie often discovers that things are not as simple as they at first appear. And I loved those changes! They took the book to a totally different level, made the story unpredictable and – to my delight – hilarious, and reading about the chaos Katie left behind, about the revenge made me laugh so much. The way the author started to show us the other side to the story was done perfectly and it was a real, great surprise to see all those twists.

“My Not So perfect Life” was a great story about finding what you really want to do with your life, about finding yourself, finding your identity, becoming an adult, taking responsibility, about communication and appearances, teaching us a lesson that it doesn’t always look like it really is and that not always other people have better lives. It was finally a book with difference, which made reading this little bit more delightful – while I do love some good recipes and descriptions of the food there was nothing of this sort in this story and guys, believe me, it made such a big difference, and I enjoyed this fact so, so much! It was relaxing, easy read – maybe a little more serious in tone in comparison to the other Kinsella’s books but still full of her trademark humour and lovely characters that we root for. Highly recommended!

The Widow by Fiona Barton

The Widow by Fiona Barton

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 Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: 14th January 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 25th August 2016)

 

 Synopsis:

‚The ultimate psychological thriller’ Lisa Gardner

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

Rating: 4/5

 

There was so much buzz about „The Widow” on Twitter that started last year, and I was really desperate to see what it is about. I haven’t read any reviews before I started to read this book, as „The Widow” is a debut novel by Fiona Barton and I wanted to see for myself if the book is going to live up to my expectations, to make a picture of it by myself. And did it pass? Yes and no.

I was curious how Fiona Barton has plotted this novel because, let’s be honest, there is something clichéd in it already from the beginning – it is about the child gone missing, and wherever a child is involved, it’s for sure going to be an emotional, heart – wrenching story, but will it be enough to make the novel outstanding? Lately there are many books published, many psychological thrillers, casting missing children, police officers that don’t want to give up on the case and having a help from a journalist, then we have parents that are very easy to suspect – and „The Widow” has it all as well. And I was really hoping there is going to be something that will take me totally by surprise.

I had a feeling that some of the subplots were opened but then they faded away and were not mentioned again, or that some of them were left open, just like with the crippled driver for example, and the feeling that not everything was explained can’t leave me. And I think that killing the accused in an accident (it’s not a spoiler, we know this from the very first page of the story) was choosing a soft option. Also, I was a little deceived by the synopsis, and by author’s note at the beginning, as both promised we are going to get answers to who are the women/men „gripping the other halves’ arms on the courtroom stairs”, who stand behind the accused – I still have those questions. I didn’t find an answer to them.

But nevertheless, this book has me hooked. Literally hooked. It aroused all kind of emotions in me – there were tears, there was compassion, hopelessness, hope, despair and loathing. It also offered a different angle – we usually hear from the victim or from the family of the victim, and here the plot focuses on the one who’s accused to commit this crime and his wife – so here we have the way out of the „clichéd”.
Almost all the characters were so unpleasant! Ok, at the beginning I didn’t know what to think – yet – and so mostly I had compassion with almost all of them. But when the action started to untwist, when the author started to add new info, new suspicions, new explanations I started to change my mind, and truly, I began to suspect almost all of the characters. Ms Barton has managed to pull me in in the tangled web of lies, deception, secrets and alibis and I really started to believe that any of the characters was capable to commit this crime. She has also managed to draw me into their lives, and I wanted to see what’s going to happen, what they feel and whether they’re telling the truth. And also, she has made the characters complex, gave them many layers, and unpeeling, unwrapping those layers was incredibly gripping.
I am in two minds about the journalist Kate, who wouldn’t stop at anything to get the information she needed for her article. On the other hand, that’s the way the journalists probably are. Also, the author gave Kate’s character incredible authenticity, and she also brilliantly and sharply portrayed the way the present journalism works, their priorities and their part in competition with other social medias. Then we have the widow herself, Jean, and I think she was one of the most complicated characters I’ve come across and I really didn’t know what to think about her. There were moments that she felt so pathetic, and her life sounded so awful that I felt for her, but then I turned the page and she showed herself as a cold person without any feelings, to change into a doormat in the next second. There was never one face to her, and I am sure it was intended by the author, to show as many faces as possible, so that we’ll never be sure what’s going to come next and what we should, in fact, think about her. But deep inside I think that Jean was not as delicate and weak as she wanted people to see, and her strength was that she was able to play people as she liked – they see this face of her that she wanted to show them.

What I also enjoyed very much is the fact that the story is told from many different points of view. We can hear from Jean, from Kate, from the mother of the missing girl and from the police detective’s mouths, which gives us a truly complete, but also variable, insight into where we are and what is happening. The jumping between past and present didn’t make me feel confused, it only added much more tension to the whole story. I guess that with such controversial topic the book doesn’t need a „wow – moment”, doesn’t need any more fireworks, but nevertheless I was waiting for something bigger to come and hit me on the head – and by „bigger” I mean a surprising end, which wasn’t – but maybe it’s my fault that I was banking on such ending like this one. Maybe not literally like this one, but more or less (more in this case) I guessed this twist.

This is a very fast paced story with many twists and turns and it touches upon some very controversial topics, and I think that this was one of the thing that kept me so glued to the pages – it was awful, it was cruel and I will never be able to embrace this. The author has a great power to draw you into the story, to make you a part of the characters’ world and you are just like the detective, you want justice for Bella. It was a great debut, and the author has shown that she’s not afraid to touch upon controversial, painful issues – I will be looking forward to Fiona Barton’s next book. Recommended!