Queen Bee by Jane Fallon / Blog Tour

Queen Bee by Jane Fallon

 

Publisher: Penguin 51082394._sx318_sy475_

Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Welcome to The Close – a beautiful street of mansions, where gorgeous Stella is the indisputable Queen Bee . . .

It is here that Laura, seeking peace and privacy after her marriage falls apart, rents a tiny studio. Unfortunately, her arrival upsets suspicious Stella – who fears Laura has designs on her fiancé, Al.

When Laura stumbles on the big secret Al is hiding, suddenly Stella’s perfectly controlled world, not to mention Laura’s future, are threatened.

Taking a chance on beating Al at his own twisted game, these two former strangers are fast becoming best friends.

But has Laura forgotten that revenge never comes without a sting in the tail?

Rating:  five-stars

 

After her marriage breaking apart, and the deal about buying her new house not working out at the last minute, Laura, the owner of a small cleaning company, is forced to temporarily rent something suitable and affordable for her and her daughter Betsy before she’ll find a new house for them. She finds a studio flat above one of the houses on The Close, a road where the super rich and their trophy wives reside. It looks like only her landlady Gail and her husband are welcoming here, and well, sooner rather than later Laura is also dragged in a new drama when Stella, the Queen Bee of The Close, accuses her of something Laura hasn’t done. She is desperate to defend herself but being ostracised by Stella means being ostracised by other residents of The Close. However, then, Laura finds something about Stella’s husband and tries to help her to become independent woman. But will Stella believe her?

It was a brilliant, drama packed story – but you also have to take this drama with a pinch of salt sometimes, and that’s one of the best things, I love when the author makes me to read between the lines, and it is always like this with Jane Fallon’s novels. “Queen Bee” is another smart and clever read, relatable and true to life from this author, and she writes how it really is in life.

There were plenty of engaging characters in this story, characters that you either really liked or hated, and all of them so significant to the plot, even the most background characters were so well developed. And, as always, the author has again proved that she is a great observer of societal norms and she tells about the differences between the characters without beating around the bush. The contrast between Laura and “the other half”, especially Stella, was so well and genuinely captured: Stella, the needy and privileged, without taking a second glance at Laura because she was simply of the “worse sort” in her eyes, a plastic perfection, not thinking twice about hurting someone’s feelings because standards don’t apply to her and she’s entitled to everything and never have worked a single day in her life, not afraid of her daughters becoming the “Mini – Hers”. But not able to boil a kettle or go locally shopping for groceries. The contrast to Laura, hard – working running her own cleaning company, never getting something for free but having to fight for it, drinking wine with screw caps and doing everything by herself, single – handedly couldn’t be bigger. Yes, sometimes I thought that Stella can’t be real, the level of her selfishness was beyond limits but it also was truly entertaining and really, I can only repeat myself that the author is a great observer of reality and can bring all the facts accurately and with a great dose of humour.
I adored Laura and her life – approach, how sarcastic and realistic she was and the fact that she didn’t take herself, and her surrounding, too seriously. And as the story is told through her perspective, it made me feel really satisfied when I got my dollop of Laura’s reality – check and her dry and witty internal monologues when she was telling us what she really thinks…

But you know what, I fell for Stella, funnily I really truly wanted that everything will end well for her. There was one moment, almost at the end, with the big reveal, when it all became clear, and I know she has lied, awfully, to her friends but on the other hand I somehow understood why she did it, and maybe I was not the hugest fan of the way she has lived her life and treated other people but well, I though she also doesn’t deserve the future that is suddenly threatening her.

So perhaps the characters were a bit exaggerated and a bit stereotyped but there was also enough depth to them all, and to the plot itself, to make them feel truly realistic and believable. For me, absolutely Laura – team, it was a real joy and great fun to see the inhabitants of The Close described in the distorting mirror. Yes, there are really people like them, taking themselves so seriously, but it only makes it even more funny…

The story was filled with twists and turns and there were moments that I wanted to keep reading hiding behind my hands, not wanting to see what may happen – yes, Laura, I’m looking at you and your spying for example. I desperately wanted to see what’s going to happen, I wanted life to come and bite some of the characters on their backsides, for the reality to knock some sense into them, and I loved to see their progress.

The writing style is chatty, light, uplifting and entertaining, and it flows quickly, sometimes too quickly as I really wanted this book to never end. The author has a way with words, immediately transporting me into the characters’ world that I didn’t want to leave. It is a story that explores family dynamics, broken promises, friendship, jealousy and those over – privileged, showing that grass isn’t always greener on the other side so be careful what you wish for! It is full of sharp observations and one – liners, it’s smart and sassy and nothing there is quite as it seems to be. Another winner from Jane Fallon – highly recommended!

 

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Under a Starry Sky by Laura Kemp / Blog Tour

Under a Starry Sky by Laura Kemp

 

Publisher: Orion 54205052._sy475_

Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

One summer to change her life…

Wanda Williams has always dreamed of leaving her wellies behind her and travelling the world! Yet every time she comes close to following her heart, life always seems to get in the way.

So, when her mother ends up in hospital and her sister finds out she’s pregnant with twins, Wanda knows that only she can save the crumbling campsite at the family farm.

Together with her friends in the village, she sets about sprucing up the site, mowing the fields, replanting the allotment and baking homemade goodies for the campers.

But when a long-lost face from her past turns up, Wanda’s world is turned upside-down. And under a starry sky, anything can happen…

Rating: four-stars

 

Wanda Williams has always dreamed of travelling the world, however, every time she was ready to departure and leave home, something wrong happened, keeping her in Wales. This time, when she’s about to travel, she discovers that her family business, the campsite, is in tatters and in financial troubles, so there is no other option for her, she must – again! – postpone the trip and try to put the campsite back on the track. But then not one, but two faces from Wanda’s past return to Gobaith, faces that she hoped she’ll never see again, and her life is turned upside down – what will she do? Escape or stay?

There is a vast array of characters in the book but it is totally easy to follow all of them, I have never felt confused. It is a community – centred story and all the characters support each other in a lovely, not too forced way, and all of them have their own story to tell and they play a huge and important part in the village’s life. The author has brilliantly captured the lovely sense of community here.

The blurb mentions Wanda, so Annie’s side of the story was a bonus point. However, personally, I think that it was Annie that really has stolen the show, there was much more depth to her history and background, and Wanda’s felt, in comparison, a bit flat and it started to be repetitive, whereas Annie’s tale was living and breathing. Nevertheless, don’t you worry, both stories are emotional rollercoaster journey, full of ups and downs, and sometimes you’ll feel like on a real rollercoaster, feeling your heart in your mouth, such poignant and moving are some of the events and things that happened in their lives. Maybe prepare a tissue or two, just to be on the safe side.

The descriptions were absolutely gorgeous and well, yes, I used to go camping, and even though now I’d rather go “hoteling”, the book made me feel nostalgic. The setting was wonderful, a perfect place to spent a few days, with the lakes, mountain that is not a mountain, food… I am really ready for my holidays after reading this book.

The writing style is so easy and approachable, and the storytelling is flowing effortlessly. The dialogues are natural and close to life and the banter between the characters is so real. I liked the interactions between Wanda’s family, and I loved seeing the campsite coming back to life, and the comments about it at the beginning of each chapter were priceless.

As much as I loved this book, there were things that didn’t sit with me so well and I have to mention them, apologies. I think that the book could be much shorter, cutting out some of the descriptions would do it really good as it slowed the pace down and the story felt too repetitive. The plot was crying out for more action and events – I loved the starry skies and the gorgeous setting but I wanted more, I wanted the plot to speed forward. And I also missed this brilliant and dry Laura Kemp’s humour, to be honest, I was really looking forward towards it.

“Under a Starry Sky” was a real escape, comforting and easy to read. While I liked other Laura Kemp’s novels better, I still really enjoyed it, as it was a beautiful, emotional read. There were some twists and turns and the characters really grew on me, I felt a part of their lives. And it was everything that I have expected from this book and from this author, a lovely and uplifting story, a perfect read for a summery evening.

 

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The Paper Bracelet by Rachael English / Blog Tour

The Paper Bracelet by Rachael English

 

Publisher: Headline 53375276

Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 496

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Every baby’s bracelet held a mother’s secret…

For almost fifty years, Katie Carroll has kept a box tucked away inside her wardrobe. It dates from her time working as a nurse in a west of Ireland home for unwed mothers in the 1970s. The box contains a notebook holding the details of the babies and young women she met there. It also holds many of the babies’ identity bracelets.

Following the death of her husband, Katie makes a decision. The information she possesses could help reunite adopted people with their birth mothers, and she decides to post a message on an Internet forum. Soon the replies are rolling in, and Katie finds herself returning many of the bracelets to their original owners. She encounters success and failure, heartbreak and joy. But is she prepared for old secrets to be uncovered in her own life?

Rating: four-stars

 

In “The Paper Bracelet” we are introduced to Katie Carroll who, following her husband’s death, decides to revisit her memories. She has kept a box with paper bracelets of the babies that were born in a mother and baby home where Katie used to work. Now she wants to reconnect those babies with their mothers who were left with no choice but to give their children away for adoption. With the help of her niece Bath, they both embark on a mission – what they don’t know is what this mission is going to bring them. Are they ready to deal with all the pain, hurt and unfairness?

It may sound impossible but it was my first Rachael English’s book and after reading it I’ll be looking into her other books, that’s for sure. Her writing style is beautiful, calm and steady and she writes with a heart. And the research is done really well, not a wonder, with the author being a journalist and interviewing women from a mother and baby homes in the early nineties, so she truly knows what she’s writing about, and you can see it in every word.

The author has chosen a difficult, emotional and upsetting topic to write about but I can assure you that she has done it justice.

It is a dual – time novel, telling the story of Katie now, interspersed with events that happened in 1950’s in one of Ireland’s mother and baby homes. Even though this house is fictional, there were plenty of them in Ireland. It is amazing to think that such things really happened, and not so long ago! You had a feeling that you are back to ancient times when, in fact, it was already the twentieth century, yet still the pregnant girls were treated as if they belonged to a second category, even though they were often victims of a violence themselves they were perceived as sinners that should pay for their, and only their, mistakes. Awful, especially when you realise that it really wasn’t that long ago!

There was a bunch of diverse characters in this story but it was somehow hard to connect with them and I was not as moved as I probably should have been by their stories. They were not as complex as I’d like them to be, they felt a bit superficial and soooo nice, a bit more depth would be brilliant.

The book started very well, promising to be an exciting and heart – wrenching read. However, later on, it lost its impact a bit and I couldn’t engage with the plot so much. No idea what was the reason but it felt a bit flat. But then it picked up again and the last third was an emotional roller – coaster read filled with events and surprises and the final twist that I absolutely didn’t see coming. It really took me by surprise – maybe because I haven’t been expecting any other twists, as the book was full of them.

This was a sad and heart – breaking book but I wasn’t completely involved in it, didn’t engage completely with the characters and events. Not sure why, it was probably my fault as I am actually somewhere else with my thoughts, but I of course appreciated and enjoyed the novel. It is a thought – provoking book and I personally think those women’s untold stories can’t be forgotten. It is a very important book and at least because of its importance – but also because it is a wonderful, gentle story – I will for sure shout about it. Truly recommended.

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Life and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor / Blog Tour

Life and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor

 

Publisher: Black Swan 52722824

Publishing Date: 11th June 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Previously titled Death and Other Happy Endings

If your life was going to end tomorrow, what would you do today?
When she learns she has just three months to live Jennifer Cole decides to write 3 letters: one to her overbearing, selfish sister, another to her jelly-spined, cheating ex-husband, and the third to her charming, unreliable ex-boyfriend, each one saying everything she’s always wanted to say. Fearing the worst, Jennifer finds this unburdening feels great. But then as she’ll soon discover, the truth has a way of surprising you …

Rating: four-stars

 

Jennifer Cole is 43, divorced and is an HR professional. So far, so good. But then she receives news from her doctor that her blood tests show that she has a very rare blood disease – so rare that the book even doesn’t tell us its name! Treatment is not even an option. And she has only three months to live. What would you do in those three months? Write a bucket list? Travel the world? Well, Jennifer decides she needs to address some of the problematic relationships in her life, with three important and significant people – her ex – husband, her ex – lover and her sister, to tell them what she really thinks. Well, she’s dying, right, so really, what worse can happen?
But as it turns out, a lot can happen in ninety days…

The letters that Jennifer writes are addressed to her sister, the beautiful and always knowing better Isabelle, the sister who patronized her and hurt her, the sister who’s now leading a – really? – perfect and happy life with a wealthy husband and two daughters. Then she writes to her ex – husband who not only ignored her feelings after the third miscarriage, but also cheated on her and then left her. And one of the letters goes to Jennifer’s ex – lover that she loved almost unconditionally but who has also left her for another woman. Even though her friends hated Harry, viewing him manipulative and toxic, she simply can’t let him go. Jennifer probably would never write those letter, if it wasn’t for her being ill, and it’s not a wonder because it’s so difficult to open yourself and speak openly about your true feelings and emotions – writing them really required courage form her, but well, she also knew that she has nothing to lose now, right?

Jennifer was an interesting character. While more than once I wanted to shake her and tell her off for being such a doormat, and it started already in the first chapter when she allowed the doctor to belittle her (I know, I know, she got a shock of her life, but still…), and it was really difficult to see her like this, and also, I don’t think I would care about any of my exes if I had ninety days to live left, but altogether she was entertaining and felt really human and authentic. It was – despite the circumstances – great to see her going on this thrilling, interesting and breath – catching journey of personal growth. Seeing her becoming strong and self – confident, realising what’s important was enjoyable and there were moments that I wanted to give her a standing ovation. And one of the strongest points of this book must have been the dynamics between her and Isabelle – at the beginning I truly believed that Isabelle’s intentions are faux, my bad, and then I was really invested in this part of the plot.

I was totally intrigued by this book, because death, okay, but what about happy endings when there is death, right? Yes, I must admit that there were things that you’ve seen coming from a miles away, and there were some quirks in the main character that were sometimes very annoying, but those were not things that have spoilt my reading. There are some revelations and surprises along the way but, to be absolutely honest, I wasn’t surprised with the plot taking a turn – I probably knew it’s going to change things up even before Jennifer knew it.

It is a book about letting go, about second chances, celebrating life, sisterhood and friendship between women. I loved how it showed that no matter what, that when life gives you lemons and provides you with heart – breaking situations, it is another woman who can support you so unconditionally (almost always. Yes, Isabelle, I’m looking at you). It is full of warmth, surprises and humour. The writing is flying, taking us on a journey together with the characters and their ups and downs, and before I knew it, I’ve finished this clever and refreshing read. Go into this with open mind and not over – thinking things and you’re going to enjoy and appreciate this read so much.

 

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Safe by S.K. Barnett / Blog Tour

Safe by S.K. Barnett

 

Publisher: Century 51285401._sy475_

Publishing Date: 11th June 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

YOUR CHILD IS MISSING.

She was only six years old when she disappeared. Posters went up, the police investigated.

But no one could find her.

Now she’s home.

And knocking at your door.

You’re so happy to see her. But soon you start to wonder why she can’t answer your questions.

Where has she been for twelve years? How did she find her way home?

Who is she?

 

EXTRACT:

The first poster was put up within a day of the disappearance. In the end there’d be over 1,500 of them, plastering what seemed like every available inch of the village. All of them mass- produced by the owner of a local printing company who barely knew the scared- out- of- their- minds parents but figured it was the least he could do.

It was nail- gunned to a telephone pole in front of Fredo’s Famous Pizzeria, an example of doubly false advertising, since its pizza wasn’t famous or even well- known, and the pizzeria wasn’t owned by anyone named Fredo. The owner was a Serbian named Milche, who thought an Italian name made more fiscal sense.

Being an aficionado of The Godfather, he’d picked Fredo over Michael, which seemed to him too Anglicized. Like many pizza parlors throughout Long Island, it had evolved into a hangout for the too- young- to- drink crowd, and when Milche would shoo the local adolescents out of the store at closing time, the reigning fourteen- year- old wise ass would turn and utter this famous if misquoted line: “You broke my heart, Fredo, you broke my heart.”
What was really breaking hearts was the subject of the poster placed on the telephone pole outside Fredo’s on July 10, 2007. MISSINGit said in black letters printed in Helvetica bold, and underneath, a picture of six- year- old Jennifer Kristal. It was her first- grade school photo, a little girl all dolled up and smiling for the camera.

It was a dichotomy that was particularly hard to comprehend for any parent strolling by— what was innocence doing plastered to a telephone pole? Telephone poles were for garage sale notices, local politicians’ campaign posters, and handyman ads with phone number slips hanging down like stripper tassels. They weren’t for a six- year- old girl with a traffic- stopping smile who’d walked down the block to her best friend’s house one day— yes, she was just six, but it was only two houses away and it was summer, and it wasn’t like they lived in the projects or something. This was upper- classs uburbia, for God’s sake, and her mom, Laurie, had walked her to their screen door and even stood and watched a bit while Jenny skipped down the front steps— whereupon Jenny disappeared. Never showed up at her best friend Toni’s front door, never came home.

Poof.

That was hard for people to get their head around. A child just disappearing like that— like one of those sequined assistants in a magic act. It made existence seem too ephemeral, made them question their assumptions about everyday life. If little girls could just disappear into thin air, then what else was possible?

 

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Safe by S.K. Barnett / Blog Tour + Extract

Safe by S.K. Barnett

 

Publisher: Century 51285401._sy475_

Publishing Date: 11th June 2020

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Mystery & Thriller

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

YOUR CHILD IS MISSING.

She was only six years old when she disappeared. Posters went up, the police investigated.

But no one could find her.

Now she’s home.

And knocking at your door.

You’re so happy to see her. But soon you start to wonder why she can’t answer your questions.

Where has she been for twelve years? How did she find her way home?

Who is she?

 

EXTRACT:

The first poster was put up within a day of the disappearance. In the end there’d be over 1,500 of them, plastering what seemed like every available inch of the village. All of them mass- produced by the owner of a local printing company who barely knew the scared- out- of- their- minds parents but figured it was the least he could do.

It was nail- gunned to a telephone pole in front of Fredo’s Famous Pizzeria, an example of doubly false advertising, since its pizza wasn’t famous or even well- known, and the pizzeria wasn’t owned by anyone named Fredo. The owner was a Serbian named Milche, who thought an Italian name made more fiscal sense.

Being an aficionado of The Godfather, he’d picked Fredo over Michael, which seemed to him too Anglicized. Like many pizza parlors throughout Long Island, it had evolved into a hangout for the too- young- to- drink crowd, and when Milche would shoo the local adolescents out of the store at closing time, the reigning fourteen- year- old wise ass would turn and utter this famous if misquoted line: “You broke my heart, Fredo, you broke my heart.”

What was really breaking hearts was the subject of the poster placed on the telephone pole outside Fredo’s on July 10, 2007. MISSING it said in black letters printed in Helvetica bold, and underneath, a picture of six- year- old Jennifer Kristal. It was her first- grade school photo, a little girl all dolled up and smiling for the camera.

It was a dichotomy that was particularly hard to comprehend for any parent strolling by— what was innocence doing plastered to a telephone pole? Telephone poles were for garage sale notices, local politicians’ campaign posters, and handyman ads with phone number slips hanging down like stripper tassels. They weren’t for a six- year- old girl with a traffic- stopping smile who’d walked down the block to her best friend’s house one day— yes, she was just six, but it was only two houses away and it was summer, and it wasn’t like they lived in the projects or something. This was upper- class suburbia, for God’s sake, and her mom, Laurie, had walked her to their screen door and even stood and watched a bit while Jenny skipped down the front steps— whereupon Jenny disappeared.

Never showed up at her best friend Toni’s front door, never came home.

Poof.

That was hard for people to get their head around. A child just disappearing like that— like one of those sequined assistants in a magic act. It made existence seem too ephemeral, made them question their assumptions about everyday life. If little girls could just disappear into thin air, then what else was possible?

 

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Keeping Mum by James Gould – Bourn / Blog Tour

Keeping Mum by James Gould – Bourn

 

Publisher: Trapeze cover186210-medium

Publishing Date: 11th June 2020

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Danny Malooley’s life is falling apart.

He’s a single parent with an eleven-year-old son, Will, who hasn’t spoken since the death of his mother in a car crash fourteen months ago. He’s being pursued by a dodgy landlord for unpaid rent and, to make matters worse, he’s just lost his job on a building site. Struggling to find work, and desperate for money, Danny decides to do what anyone in his position would do.

He becomes a dancing panda.

After seeing street performers in his local park raking it in, he puts all sense of pride aside and spends his last fiver on a vomit-ridden costume… only to discover that the humiliation of his terrible rhythm is worth it. Not because he’s flush with cash (quite the opposite) but Will has finally spoken to him for the first time since his mother’s death. The problem is Will is unaware that the panda is in fact his father, and Danny doesn’t want to reveal his true identity in case Will stops talking to him. But Danny can’t keep up the ruse forever.

A surprising, laugh-out-loud and uplifting story of a father and son reconnecting in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Rating: five-stars

 

but-i-needmy-girls

 

Danny Mallony and his son Will have lost their wife and mother in a tragic car accident about a year ago. Liz was not only Danny’s wife but also his best friend, and together with her death he feels as if he has lost his son as well because Will simply stopped speaking. Then Danny gets himself fired from work and his landlord starts to threaten to harm him and some of his body parts because he’s late with the rent. There are no jobs out there for Danny, so it’s not a wonder that, in desperation, and with his last money, he purchases a panda suit and becomes a street performer. Dancing panda. The problem is, Danny can’t dance. However, it’s not the end of the problems because soon Danny is a witness how his son is being bullied. And then Will starts to talk – to the panda.

James Gould – Bourn has created incredible characters, real and authentic and while yes,
sure, they are also a bit clichéd and stereotyped, what with Mark the bully, or Reg the landlord, they work in this book and they are breathing and moving and jumping off the pages. Effortlessly. The background characters were phenomenal – I have never came across such brilliantly written secondaries, and Krystal must have been my favourite. Krystal with her potty mouth that would make any sailor blush, telling things how they are, not beating around the bush, full of glitter and glamour, offending with every word but deep, deep inside she was such a good fairy and I loved her totally. But no matter how much I laughed at their banter and shenanigans, they added tons of depth to the story.
And don’t forget Will’s new teacher! It’s amazing how much attention the author paid to the smallest details, taking care about things and events that we would have probably not spotted. I tell you, this book is perfect. The way the author has dealt with grief and its impact on the affected, the old – new father – son relationship, the challenges life brings is cleverly written, it’s sharp and empathetic. I loved what he did with Will – he created a strong, resilient boy who had weaker moments and I felt for him immediately, but he didn’t make him a victim that can’t stand for himself. Yes, Will was bullied and he suffered but I couldn’t stop admire his inner strength and the ability to not take things so much to heart.
And whatever happened, Danny never gave up, and this is what I really liked in him. He kept things going, not wanting Will to discover how bad the situation is. He wasn’t afraid of work, and nothing was too strange or weird to Danny, his priority was always his son and he did things in a way he though are right.

The writing style, and the storytelling, were exceptionally good. I loved the banter the author used in his story, and I loved the situational comedy. He has perfectly blended sadness and humour together, let’s just think about Ivan and his reactions, Jesus, the moment when they were looking for wood for example had me laughing out loud, and not only because of Ivan and his fears but because of the dialogue between the security people – really, guys, whatever you do, buy this book and thank me later, it’s so, so good, it’s more than good, it’s the best book I’ve read this year. I’d say, be careful Mike Gayle, there is a new author in town! But back to the writing, that was funny without being sarcastic – because it didn’t need to be in that case, and engaging.

The probably only thing that didn’t sit with me so much was the title. I don’t know but it somehow didn’t work, and I’m guessing it was also published as “Bear Necessity”? I must admit I like it much better. Or even “Pandemonium” sounds great to me 🙂 Or “Panda Days”.

About the end… I loved what has happened in the pub, it was so unexpected and so karma – wise, ha, it was simply brilliant. However, I have been expecting something more for Danny, been building my hope through the whole story to be honest – am probably reading too many romances. Sigh. Oh well. Maybe there will be something more from the author about Danny in the future.

I truly adored this book, from the start to the end, and I was sad when I’ve reached the final pages as it’s really this kind of book that you don’t want to end. I can’t remember the last time a book left me feeling so warm inside as “Keeping Mum” did. It was a poignant and also incredibly funny father – son story that had me captivated right from the first page. It touched upon so many important things: grief, hope, friendship, trying to reconnect, trying to keep going no matter what, about second chances. It was absolutely unique story that I’m going to buy in paperback as well to keep re – reading it all the time. Truly, highly recommended!

 

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Meet Me at Pebble Beach by BellaOsborne / Blog Tour

Meet Me at Pebble Beach by Bella Osborne

 

Publisher: Avon 51603024._sy475_

Publishing Date: 28th May 2020

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

Number of pages: 416

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Meet Me at Pebble Beach was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.

Regan is holding a winning lottery ticket.

Goodbye to the boyfriend who never had her back, and so long to the job she can’t stand!

Except it’s all a bit too good to be true…

When Regan gets pranked, she finds herself jobless, homeless and boyfriendless in one fell swoop.

Luckily her friendly seaside community provides a beacon of hope, proving to Regan that sometimes you really can rely on the kindness of others – and one local in particular, a handsome fireman called Charlie, helps Regan realise that this could be her chance for a fresh start.

Armed with a list of ways to change her life, Regan decides it’s time to step out of her comfort zone.

Because – as Charlie knows all too well – life is for living . . .

A feel-good summer read, perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Veronica Henry and Cressida McLaughlin.

Rating: four-stars

 

Regan’s life – with a boring job, uneventful, and with an obnoxious boyfriend – is about to change, because Roegan has just won a lottery. So she quits her job, ends things with her boyfriend and moves out of his flat. Only then it turns out Robyn hasn’t won the lottery… She has to think, and quickly, what to do now, get a new job and find a place to live. But it’s not so easy. And on top of that there is also Charlie whom she’s just met, when she tried to bite her friend’s from work, Alex, head off… Well, on the other hand, Robyn’s life is not boring and uneventful…

Regan was a character that I couldn’t completely put my finger on. On the one hand she was lively, hilarious and open. On the other hand, she’s an adult but still goes through life without thinking, offering only minimal forethought (or any). Some of her decisions and reasoning didn’t sit with me at all, I couldn’t get behind them. I had a feeling that the constant wrecking ball she experiences in her life is of her own doing because she never has a plan, she never thinks things out. Nevertheless, her evenings with Kevin and her life – approach made her a much more likeable character. And I liked the fact that she, actually, never gave up! There was not a hurdle that she wasn’t able to overcome, and even the fact that she was technically homeless didn’t stop her from starting her own business. A business that she needed a kitchen for. And what was also nice, was the fact that Regan was developing and growing throughout the whole story – she was still hot-headed and often made up her mind on impulse but in the end I had a feeling that she’s also matured, without losing her spontaneity and inner joy.

The romance aspect was truly well written. There was this usual will they/won’t they but you actually couldn’t be sure if they will because of one very important problem. I personally kept everything crossed for the happy ending because I loved Charlie, however the author has written her story in such a way that you could expect any ending.

I was very thankful for the setting in this story – Brighton, a lovely seaside town that also showed the other, darker side. The writing is of a very high quality, beautifully capturing the setting but also going deep on feelings and emotions. It’s vivid and colourful and the whole story is easy to read.

There were moments that the book was too dramatic for my liking, as if the author tried too much, but it must be the old cynic in me that made me roll my eyes at the drama. Don’t get me wrong, pretty please, I know what the author wanted to achieve here and the things she has written about ARE very important and thought – provoking but maybe I simply didn’t expect them in this kind of book? I was all about sunshine, butterflies and bunnies (or hedgehogs in that case) and the dark side of the story simply took me by surprise and yes, it felt a bit too forced. Nevertheless, the story of Kevin broke my heart a little, and the scene when he tries to protect himself will stay with me probably forever.

Altogether, it was a lovely, emotional, funny and also poignant book about second chances and that there is always a way out. It will make you smile and it’ll give you a pause for thought. It’s not all sugar – coated bed of roses but it’s also about homelessness and terminal illness for example, but written with a light touch. I enjoyed it and spend some relaxed hours in the characters’ company. Recommended!

 

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Beach Read by Emily Henry / Blog Tour

Beach Read by Emily Henry

 

Publisher: Penguin 48722416._sy475_

Publishing Date: 18th May 2020

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 20.08.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

He doesn’t believe in happy endings.
She’s lost her faith that they exist.
But could they find one together?

January is a hopeless romantic who likes narrating her life as if she’s the heroine in a blockbuster movie.
Augustus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale.
January and Augustus are not going to get on.

But they actually have more in common than you’d think:

They’re both broke.
They’ve got crippling writer’s block.
They need to write bestsellers before the end of the summer.

The result? A bet to see who can get their book published first.
The catch? They have to swap genres.
The risk? In telling each other’s stories, their worlds might be changed entirely…

 

my-review

 

In “Beach Read” we are introduced to January Andrews, an easy – going writer who has always believed in romance and happy ever after, however, lately, her feelings and emotions are all over the place and she finds herself in a beach house, inherited from her father, struggling with a writer’s block and hiding from her agent.
And who’s living next door there, if not Augustus Everett, the very, very serious writer of literary fiction, January’s rival ever since they’ve attended college together. January knows that Gus has never taken her writing seriously and she’s not a very happy bunny living next to him. But it turns out that Gus is also struggling with his next novel and so they decide to strike a deal: he will write a happily ever after and January will try her luck with literary fiction. Whoever sells their book first, wins. Nothing can go wrong, right?

The idea of this plot is brilliant and unique, I loved finding two writers living next to each other, both with deadlines and both with writer’s block, and then deciding on this challenge and swapping genres, while Gus thinks happy ever after doesn’t exist and January has to dip her toes in the water and visit places she has never seen and been to before. But still they try to help each other, and the journeys and places they visit are the most interesting and they couldn’t be more different if you asked for it – we have carnival, romantic beach and watching the sunset, and then we have graveyard and cults, so there.

The author has truly well captured the complicated relationship between father and daughter, full of love but also tension, and brought it so very realistically to life. However, this is also the part of the book that caused me the most troubles as the sudden mood change in the narration didn’t work for me, it was all over the place and I really truly wanted January to eventually find peace and stop biting herself in her back over and over again. The things have happened, I get it, she felt deceived and hurt but she couldn’t change anything, so please, can you just move on? Focus on Gus and your fabulous, sarcastic, smart banter? Simply, the shifts in the atmosphere didn’t flow for me.

Emily Henry can for sure write about feelings and emotions, and I admired the way she has created her characters. There were many layers to them, they were absolutely not straight – forward, they were struggling with their past. It was fabulously put into words and pictured.

I had a problem, though. I had a feeling that I’m reading two different books to be honest, one about January and Gus’s brilliant blossoming relationship, and the second about January’s family issues, that felt so gloom in comparison to the budding affair. It also felt too repetitive for my liking, January was obsessing over the same thing over and over again and, sadly, it spoiled the reading experience for me. But I loved the connection between her and Gus, those were the best parts of the book, the laid – back Gus was great and the banter between them, filled with dry humour and sarcasm was truly entertaining. And yes, there was chemistry between them, sparkling and sizzling, and what’s more, it felt so real, seeing them struggling to open up to each other, hiding in fear of being hurt, and sometimes behaving so childish towards each other. Annoying? Yes, but also honest and genuine.
Also, there was so much focus on them both writing the books, and what with the bet, I was so hoping for some more on this subplot – I was incredibly intrigued about their books. But then suddenly everything is done, sealed and forgotten, just like that, the books are finished, sold and are bestsellers and I’m left here, hanging in the air, panting for more.

Altogether, “Beach Read” is a story that’s going to take you on an emotional journey together with the characters. It’s funny and at times it’s sad. It’s filled with all kinds of feelings, you’ll find there happiness, joy and sadness, angst and hope, hurt and forgiveness. There is so much more to it that you can expect because it’s not a fluffy, sweet story but fiction with a depth, thought – provoking and complex.

 

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A Wedding at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry / Blog Tour

A Wedding at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

 

Publisher: Orion 53548894._sy475_

Publishing Date: 28th May 2020

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

Number of pages: 368

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

You are invited to the wedding of the year . . .

Robyn Moss just wants a simple wedding. A quiet ceremony; a picnic on the beach; dancing barefoot on the sand until the sun goes down. But first, Robyn has one very important thing to do – before embracing her future, she needs to uncover her past. As she sets out to find her birth mother, a tangled thread of love, loss and betrayal that ties together three generations of women begins to emerge.

As her wedding day approaches, Robyn discovers that where there is heartbreak, there is hope – and that in the end, love will always win.

Escape to the beach with Veronica Henry’s captivating new story of three women, three summers, and a wedding that changes everything. The must-read novel of summer 2020!

Rating: four-stars

 

Robyn and Jake are newly engaged and are expecting their first child. Robyn has always known that she’s adopted but it never kept her awake at night. However, as she’s pregnant and about to get married, she starts to feel the need to know her true history, to find out who she really is. She’s torn, as she really loves her adoptive parents and sister, and she doesn’t want to hurt them, but the need to know is strong. Deciding not to tell them and confessing only to her friend Gwen, Robyn starts to search for her birth mother and her life is about to change. But not only her life – the future is going to bring challenges, second chances, new beginnings to all those around Robyn, as they are also hiding secrets.

Robyn was a lovely character, complex and really well developed, and the author has given her a truly distinctive voice. She knew what she wants and if she wasn’t sure, she wasn’t afraid to risk, but she never wanted to hurt other people, so this is why some of the decisions were so hard for her. She was also hard – working and caring, and her relationship with Jake was strong and certain. But there were things in her life that lately started to bother her. I adored what Veronica Henry has done here, with Robyn searching for the truth – there was no time wasted on searching here and searching there, there was no will she/won’t she and it was so refreshing, guys, I really liked that instead we got things straight out – it simply worked brilliantly in this story. I also loved with how much empathy and gentleness the author has written those parts, taking all Robyn’s feeling under consideration, and not only Robyn’s but also other characters’ involved, without judging them but giving them a chance to tell things how they really were.

There is also a great bunch of supporting characters in this story, though I’m not sure if we should call them “supporting” at all, as they truly felt like the main characters, with their stories as important as those of Robyn and Jake. They are stories with depth, full of ups and downs, the characters are facing so many challenges in their lives, they all struggle and have issues and that makes them feel so down – to – earth and realistic. I liked that, for a change, they were wise but not patronising, and they really wanted good things for each other, they were supportive and simply kind people.

There were many subplots running through the story, it was not only Robyn and her journey, but I have never felt overwhelmed, stuffed with too much information or confused. The author has taken her time introducing all the characters and their background stories to us, there was nothing rushed and this is why it was so seamless and so smooth to read.

The writing style is so very Veronica Henry – flows effortlessly, it’s lyrical, almost poetic, it’s beautiful but also chatty and engaging, and the descriptions are vivid, bringing the places and characters to life. And of course the setting is gorgeous, Everdene on the coast is so well and evocative described, the author has a real way with words.

“A Wedding at the Beach Hut” is a thought – provoking story filled with family dynamics, unconditional love, friendship and all the trials and tribulations that come with them. It is such a gentle, relaxed read, with enough twists and without too much drama, a truly perfect read for a nice, tranquil afternoon as it is so easy to lose yourself in this story, it captures your attention immediately and envelopes you, with every turned page taking you with on the characters’ journey. I’d say that perhaps there were moments that it was too relaxed, too peaceful, too slow but somehow the pace simply corresponded with the plot. It is a great piece of contemporary fiction, emotionally engaging escapism, true to life and realistic and I highly recommend it!

 

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