A Postcard from Italy by Alex Brown / Blog Tour + Q&A with the Author

Hi guys, I’m so thrilled to be a part of Alex Brown’s blog tour! I loved her books that are always full of unforgettable characters, and her writing style that is so gentle and full of feelings. This time, next to my review, the lovely Alex agreed to answer some of my questions – thank you, Alex, and welcome to the blog! –  so put your feet high and enjoy!

 

A Postcard from Italy by Alex Brown

 

41716123Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Grace Quinn loves her job at Cohen’s Convenient Storage Company, finding occasional treasure in the forgotten units that customers have abandoned. Her inquisitive nature is piqued when a valuable art collection and a bundle of letters and diaries are found that date back to the 1930’s.

Delving deeper, Grace uncovers the story of a young English woman, Connie Levine, who follows her heart to Italy at the end of the Second World war. The contents also offer up the hope of a new beginning for Grace, battling a broken heart and caring for her controlling mother.

Embarking on her own voyage of discovery, Grace’s search takes her to a powder pink villa on the cliff tops overlooking the Italian Riviera, but will she unravel the family secrets and betrayals that Connie tried so hard to overcome, and find love for herself?

Rating: five-stars

 

Grace Quinn can’t say that she has a private life – either she cares for her bed bound mother or goes to work at convenient storage company. Grace loves her job and luckily her employers, Mr and Mrs Cohen, love Grace and treat her like family, understanding pressure she lives under. One day Grace opens one unit and discovers that it’s full of valuable art collections but also personal items, such like letters and diaries. Grace is determined to find out to whom they belong and soon discovers a whole life of Connie Levine inside. Encouraged by her work colleagues and friend, Grace decides to step right out of her comfort zones and embark on the journey to Italy, having no idea how many surprises and changes it’s going to bring.

Alex Brown for sure goes from strength to strength with her books, and “A Postcard from Italy” is certainly one of the best books she has written – although I’ve loved all of her previous books, so that’s saying something. I liked the brief mentions of Tindledale – I think this village has a very special place in our hearts, right? Also, Alex Brown creates the most gorgeous and stunning settings for her books, and the way she describes them draws you straight into the story and the place.

I really like to go back and forth between past and present in books, but sadly, not all of the authors can write this way. Alex Brown can. This dual time aspect gives you a real sense of this story and she has brilliantly captured the modern times and the past and it has never felt like reading two separate storylines.

The characters, as usual in Alex’s books, are so well fleshed out, full of emotions and feelings, it simply looks as if she gets into her characters’ heads, and they’re written in such a way that we can easily relate to them, understand them and their motives. Grace is an adorable person, although too loyal in my eyes, but I could so well understand her feelings. She didn’t want to hurt her mother so she’d rather do anything she wanted from her then standing up for herself. Yes, I know, one can say she was a doormat for letting Cora treating her like this, but I don’t think this way, I think she was simply such a good person that first thought of all the others and then about herself. But, seeing her taking the first steps to freedom was absolutely fantastic and I all the time wanted to give her more courage. Connie was another interesting character, full of life and personality, and I really enjoyed how their stories unfolded and how they were connected. Her story was touching and poignant and I’m sure it’s going to melt your heart.
To say that I was annoyed with Grace’s mother Cora would be an understatement. I can’t remember such annoying, manipulative, self – centred character like Cora.

I loved the element of the mystery in this book. Alex Brown has really masterfully plotted it and I sat comfortably, enjoying how she decided to unfold it, to peel the layers off. It was full of sad and poignant moments and the author truly knows how to write them so that they tug at our heart – strings. Connie’s diary entries were a huge part of this mystery and they were so interesting, giving a great insight into this woman, into her life that was full of pain, tears and disappointments but also happiness.

It was a very well crafted story that yes, had its weaker points as well, I somehow didn’t buy the whole bed bound Cora, I’m not sure why, it simply didn’t sit with me, and for me it was too easily solved, but that’s me, so pay no attention, but other than that, it was an excellent read. The pace was only right, there was not a single moment flat and I adored following Grace and all the other characters on their emotional journeys, overpowering problems, and this all set against such stunning settings. And there is so much more to this book that meet the eye. It is full of depth and wisdom, unforgettable characters and clever plot. I can assure you that you’re quickly going to be drawn into the tale, falling for Grace and Connie’s stories. It was captivating, felt honest and was an uplifting, heart – warming read about family dynamics, love and loss. Highly recommended!

 

Q&A WITH THE AUTHOR

alex2bbrown

(photo courtesy of Philippa Gedge)

  1. Alex, if you were to describe “A Postcard from Italy” in three sentences…

An epic love story spanning ninety years. Family secrets to be unravelled that have been hidden since the 1930’s.Intrigue and romance in the breathtakingly beautiful Italian Riviera.

  1. What would you like your readers to take away from “A Postcard from Italy”?

Awarm, happy, poignant, but ultimately uplifting story with characters that stay with them long after the last page.

  1. The book combines fiction and history – was it difficult to write it like this?

It was very easy as I love being able to immortalise real events in history, and people too – I often give family members cameo parts too, for example the scene on VE Day mentions Edie, a nippy in Lyons Tea House on The Strand in London, and she is based on my grandmother who was called Edie and worked there too.

    4. What inspired you to partly set your story in Italy? 

I’ve always wanted to write a book set in Italy after visiting the Italian Riviera with my husband several years ago. I loved everything about that part of the world, the breathtaking scenery, the people, the delicious food and romantic atmosphere and so it was a joy to revisit the area in A Postcard From Italy.

     5. When you write, do you always follow a plan or do you let your characters to take you on a journey?

A bit of both. I have a synopsis that I use as a guide but the story always develops as necessary.

    6. What’s more important:  characters or plot?

Characters. I have to know the character before I write the story for them.

    7. On a little lighter note, what are three facts that we don’t know about you Alex?

I’m incredibly superstitious.

I once sang soprano in full chorister outfit on Songs of Praise (I was about 12years old).

I’m learning Spanish.

  1. If you could tell your younger writing self something, what would it be?

Relax, you’ll get there in the end.

  1. And what is next for Alex Brown?

I’m about to start a new book for summer 2020 which I’m very excited about and looking forward to sharing the details of as soon as I can.

 

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The Eclair Affair by Cressida McLaughlin

The Eclair Affair by Cressida McLaughlin

 

cover153293-mediumPublisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 27th June 2019

Series: The Cornish Cream Tea Bus #2

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

Number of pages: 103

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle 

 

Synopsis:

Part Two of the charming new series from the author of The Canal Boat Cafe. Perfect for cake lovers and old-fashioned romantics!

‘Captivating’ Heat Magazine ‘Beautiful… heartwarming’ Zara Stoneley ‘A wonderful ray of reading sunshine’ Heidi Swain

Charlie’s unveils her signature bake…
Charlie and Marmite finally arrive in the picture-postcard Cornish village of Porthgolow in thier vintage Routemaster bus. Not everything is as it seems and Charlie’s friend, Juliette, tells her about the owner of the big hotel up on the hill who has managed to upset the locals. That doesn’t stop Charlie and Marmite making new friends and the bus finds a new lease of life as the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea. But what will Charlie make of the enigmatic Daniel Harper when they meet, and more to the point, what will he think about Charlie and her bus parked outside his lovely hotel?

Rating: four-stars

 

As soon as the second part of The Cornish Cream Tea Bus became available, I downloaded it and started to read, still remembering how nice the first part was and looking forward to meet Charlie and Marmite and their new friends again, and see what the people of Porthgolow are to do with her fresh ideas to bring a little life to this coastal village.

Charlie is settling in Porthgolow, even though she was initially supposed to stay there for a few weeks, and not for a few months. She’s determined to make a name for herself but also to wake Portholow up, and so she’d like to organise Porthgolow Food Fest, inviting some of the best food trucks. And when she sets her mind on something, there is nothing stopping her. Or is there? Like some unwilling residents?

So. This short story. As usual, so colourfully, vividly written, and Cressida McLaughlin brings the place so easily to life. I loved the descriptions of the food festival and then the fire on the beach, they were beautifully and gorgeously written. Of course, the food sounds DE – LI – CIOUS, all the cream teas mentioned, cakes but also all kind of other goodies.

The more I get to know Charlie, the more I like her. She’s determined, consequent and also stubborn, but she wouldn’t achieve this what she has achieved till now without being stubborn, right? She has only good intentions and she gives always her best. The romance aspect that is looming on the horizon is also lovely and right now I can’t tell you in which direction is going to go, which is a great feeling as I love surprises! I have my favourite here already and I’m so curious if my gut feeling is right again.

I can’t wait for the next instalment, as we are – again! Again! – left on a cliff-hanger, with Charlie facing many decisions. Cressida McLaughlin has such a great way with words, and I adored this lovely, warm and welcoming story. Recommended!

 

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! by Gill Sims / Blog Tour

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! by Gill Sims

 

cover156090-mediumPublisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 27th June 2019

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover )

 

Synopsis:

I’m wondering how many more f*cking ‘phases’ I have to endure before my children become civilised and functioning members of society? It seems like people have been telling me ‘it’s just a phase!’ for the last fifteen bloody years. Not sleeping through the night is ‘just a phase.’ Potty training and the associated accidents ‘is just a phase’. The tantrums of the terrible twos are ‘just a phase’. The picky eating, the back chat, the obsessions. The toddler refusals to nap, the teenage inability to leave their beds before 1pm without a rocket being put up their arse. The endless singing of Frozen songs, the dabbing, the weeks where apparently making them wear pants was akin to child torture. All ‘just phases!’ When do the ‘phases’ end though? WHEN?

Mummy dreams of a quirky rural cottage with roses around the door and chatty chickens in the garden. Life, as ever, is not going quite as she planned. Paxo, Oxo and Bisto turn out to be highly rambunctious, rather than merely chatty, and the roses have jaggy thorns. Her precious moppets are now giant teenagers, and instead of wittering at her about who would win in a fight – a dragon badger or a ninja horse – they are Snapchatting the night away, stropping around the tiny cottage and communicating mainly in grunts – except when they are demanding Ellen provides taxi services in the small hours. And there is never, but never, any milk in the house. At least the one thing they can all agree on is that rescued Barry the Wolfdog may indeed be The Ugliest Dog in the World, but he is also the loveliest.

Rating: five-stars

 

I’m so happy to say that Ellen is back, with another year full of trials, tribulations, surprises and troubles. Jane is now fifteen years old, spending her days of her cell phone, going to parties, living and breathing make – up and feeling embarrassed by her mother. Peter is thirteen and he spends his days playing video games and eating all the food he can find in the fridge. Simon… well, Simon is actually not there. Ellen and Simon are divorced now. Ellen and the children have moved to the cottage of her dreams (almost. Except for the damp, the single bathroom and no roses by the door). So it’s not wonder that mummy not only drinks too much, swears too much but also doesn’t give a ****, right?

Oh holy moly, how to write a review for this book to do it a justice? Impossible task, I’d say.

The third (and I pray to God, not the last one!) part of the series by Gill Sims deals with the stress of coping with teenage children. I know, we all think that first it’s infancy, then the terrible two, then pre – adolescence etc that is the worst what can happen, so let’s agree on the fact that all of those phases are simply stressful. Putting it mildly. I may be not in Ellen’s shoes yet but I can’t sleep and need a whisky only when I think about my daughter reaching puberty, thinking I have all this to come. So it really rang a bell, this book. And was a kind of warning.

This is a raw and brutally honest picture of being a parent. Sweary and normal. Realistic, even if the situations are a bit exaggerated (or not?). The author doesn’t beat around the bush and she deserves a standing ovation for this – telling how it is, not afraid to use crude language and a lot of drinking but this is what I have expected and wanted from this book. She also intermingles the hilarity and humour with some brief moments of seriousness, adding depth to the light tone.

I am still in love with Ellen and I want to have her confidence. She is full of flaws (who isn’t) and swears a lot (who doesn’t) and has a great way around her children, handling them in open way. And the children’s antics are hilarious, their attitudes are so real. And they have their moments. And Ellen deals with them. But they really feel grown up, the children, and I like that the author keeps on top of it and let her characters grow up and mature. I love Ellen’s sense of humour, her attitude, the way she sees and describes things and that she’s not afraid to tell how it is. I, on the other hand, should probably get a special prize for all the things I didn’t say and that should be said. Ellen is so relatable with the way she is, with her worries, hopes and desperation. The author has done an excellent job in bringing her characters’ personalities to the pages, and I think they all are going to appeal to all kinds of the audience.

It was easy, quick and funny read that made me feel normal. There were moments that I rolled my eyes and nodded at things that could so happen to me. I would probably go that far and say that it is the best yet – it made me laugh out loud and cry in the next moment. Gill Sims is not only a champion of writing humorous, hilarious scenes, but she also deals with the sad and poignant ones in a gentle, understanding way, and the book does feel a little more serious and mature in tone, even though, of course, the hysterical finny is still there. It’s a book that I really needed in my life now, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

 

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Don’t Go Baking My Heart by Cressida McLaughlin

Don’t Go Baking My Heart by Cressida McLaughlin

 

42652169Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 13th June 2019

Series: The Cornish Cream Tea Bus

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

Number of pages: 104

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle 

 

Synopsis:

Part One of the charming new series from the author of The Canal Boat Cafe. Perfect for cake lovers and old-fashioned romantics!

‘Captivating’ Heat Magazine

‘Beautiful… heartwarming’ Zara Stoneley

‘A wonderful ray of reading sunshine’ Heidi Swain

Baking fanatic, Charlie Quilter, is surprised when her late uncle bequeaths his vintage bus to her in his will. Charlie thinks it will be the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea, and when her friend, Juliette, suggests Charlie comes to stay with her in the picturesque Cornish village of Porthgolow, she’s thrilled at the chance of a new start.
Charlie and her cute dog, Marmite, make new friends wherever their bus stops – except for the attractive but reclusive owner of the posh spa up on the hill, Daniel Harper, who isn’t very pleased that her bus is parked outside his lovely hotel.
Has Charlie’s Cornish dream developed a soggy bottom? Or can she convince Daniel that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village – and for them?

Rating: four-stars

 

“Don’t Go Baking My Heart” is a brilliant title, I love it, although I couldn’t spot its interrelatedness to the story – apologies if I missed something. It is also the first of a new 4 – part series and even though I usually don’t read books in series but I rather wait for them to be published as a gorgeous paperback, it’s from Cressida McLaughlin, and so I though, this time I can’t wait. I have to read it. So there.

The story follows a simple and already known formula but it works, guys, it works brilliantly! Charlie, our main character, is simply great, so determined and funny, and the author couldn’t take a better character to play a reading role in this book. After her beloved uncle’s death, Charlie has been left his vintage bus. To keep his memory alive, she decides to turn Gertie into a bus cafe, and I loved the final result. Soon Charlie takes her new bus on a test run, to see how things work, and after a very minor disaster Charlie finds herself taking a sabbatical (or rather, being forced to take sabbatical), travelling with Gertie to her best friend Juliette in Porthgolow and causing problems there.

I think I can predict the direction the story is going to turn, and there is romance in the air as well, but it absolutely doesn’t bother me. It was a feel – good, humorous novella, a great introduction to the series and I will be for sure reading the next instalments. And I know I don’t gush over covers enough lately, but this one so deserves a standing ovation – it’s simply beautiful and so eye – catching, it’s a shame that it’s an ebook cover.

The pace of the story was great, things were moving really quickly and there was not a single moment flat. The setting was gorgeous, and I love the sound of Porthgolow, with its streets and suspicious residents. Cressida’s descriptions are so, so vivid, she brings the colours, places and characters so easily to life. Can’t wait for the next part!

 

I Heart Hawaii by Lindsey Kelk

I Heart Hawaii by Lindsey Kelk

 

42848113Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 30th May  2019

Series: I Heart Book #8

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The next hilarious novel in the I HEART series from international bestselling author, Lindsey Kelk.

Join Angela and Jenny in the series finale of the bestselling I Heart books, on the balmy beaches of Hawaii.

When Angela Clark’s best friend Jenny invites her to join a press trip to Hawaii, three days of sun, sea and sleep sounds like the perfect antidote to her crazed life.

At work in New York, she’s supposed to be the face of Having It All. But the only thing Angela feels she excels at is hiding in the printer cupboard, eating Mini Cheddars and watching Netflix on her phone and if this is living the dream, she’s more than ready to wake up.

A few days away with Jenny sounds like exactly what she needs but Angela’s talent for getting into a scrape guarantees nothing goes to plan – and not even the most beautiful beaches, blue skies and daiquiris will get her off the hook…

Rating: five-stars

 

Angela has just started her new job and has to leave her little Alice for the first time for so long. Sure, Alex is a great dad, but well, you know… mum is a mum, right? However, she’s full of enthusiasm and actually happy to go out. Then Jenny invites her to a press trip to Hawaii and Angela is torn – it would be great to travel there with the whole gang, but what would Alex say? He says, go! She will miss her daughter but how can she miss on the opportunity of some free days paid trip to Hawaii, all inclusive? Sun, sea, best friends, what could go wrong?
Well, it’s Angela we’re talking about, there is much that can go wrong…

It was so, so great to be back with Angela and the whole gang, even with Cici. It was actually Angela at her best and I loved how easily and lovely she took to motherhood, how relaxed she was in fact, even though, as it turns out, juggling being a mum and being back to work is not as easy as she has thought it may be. Then there is also the fact of joining a mother – baby group that sounds much more like Mafia than your normal coffee – klatsch. She’s up to her eyeballs creating the new website and then she lets Jenny to convince her to travel with her, and some other friends, to Hawaii – typical Angela, no? However, Angela plus Jenny plus Louisa plus James, put together on a beautiful island, in a luxury villa can only mean troubles, and what follows is a hilarious, funny but also poignant story of friendship – full of scenes that you’ll never going to forget. Yes, I mean horse riding for example.

We have Angela, Jenny, Lou and Alex go through so much in all the books, we have travelled around the world, have seen brilliant places, and first of all, we have seen Angela, growing, facing her worst enemies, getting herself into many troubles and then getting back on her feet again. We have shared tears, laughter, all the ups and downs and taken Angela and the rest to our hearts. “I Heart” by Lindsay Kelk will stay one of the most recognisable, remarkable and unforgettable series. Ever.

I love Lindsey Kelk’s writing style. It’s chatty, it’s light – hearted but it’s also filled with feelings and emotions, and it’s a perfect mix. I have laughed out loud, I’ve cried, I rolled my eyes, I gasped and not only when reading “I Heart Hawaii” but all the other previous books as well. It was such a brilliant, crazy journey that brought so much happy hours. Actually, it took me a long time after I finished reading the book to write this review because I thought that it will be so final then. It’s like an end of the era, saying goodbye to Angela and Jenny, really. I’m not a very sentimental person when it comes to fiction, sure, I have my favourite series and when they come to an end it makes me sad, but here I can cry crocodile tears as I know I’m going to miss their mis(adventures), antics and embarrassments. However, personally, I think that it is the best end to a much loved series that we could expect and I absolutely loved it, the closure, the full circle, it left me feel very, very satisfied. There is as much humour as in the previous books, but there is also a little more serious tone in this story, which worked perfectly well – the characters do grow up, do mature and they do have different kind of problems. I know this review is a bit enigmatic and not giving away too much but it’s deliberately done – I simply want you to read this book for yourself, to love it as much as I did – and I’m sure you’re going to! It was Angela and Lindsey Kelk at their best and I can’t recommend the book highly enough!

 

The Trouble with Rose by Amita Murray

The Trouble with Rose by Amita Murray

 

43239335Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 14th February 2019

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 16.05.2019)

 

Synopsis:

A missing sister. A broken heart.
A whole lot of trouble…

Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes, The Trouble with Rose is an unforgettable story about a messy family, a big secret at its heart, and the unbreakable bond between sisters.

Rilla is getting married. Except she isn’t. She’s running away – from her confused fiancé Simon, her big mad family, and the memories nipping at her heels.

Her sister Rose would know what to do in such times of crisis.

But the trouble is, Rose is the crisis. She disappeared years ago, and Rilla’s heart went missing too.

Where is Rose? And who is Rilla without Rose?

If she’s to rescue some happiness out of all this chaos, she needs to find out.

Rating: three-stars

 

Rilla is about to get married to Simon but shortly before the wedding ceremony she’s arrested for shoplifting. Yes. Her own and Simon’s family manage to get her out of prison but Rilla isn’t happy, she can’t settle, she’s consumed with guilt about her sister Rose who has disappeared 16 years ago. Talking about Rose is forbidden in Rilla’s family but she can’t find peace until she knows what has happened. She needs to find her sister.

Personally I had huge problems with the main character. She came across as very spoiled and childish and all the time wanting something, whingy and unhappy. Rilla’s actions weren’t sweet for me, and she was mostly passive – aggressive and simply I couldn’t warm to her. Indecisive and behaving as if the whole world should revolve around her, with demanding attitude and not too likeable – and this hugely busted this story for me. I know, you don’t have to like the main character to enjoy the book but this time, as this story was very main character driven, it simply didn’t work. She’s convinced that it’s her fault that Rose disappeared, as she was mean and rude to her sister – but to be honest, she was like this to every living person in her proximity. It wasn’t funny anymore, it wasn’t charming, it was simply not nice. Although the way Rilla suffered because of all those secrets, of being kept in darkness was brilliantly described, and we could easily see that she felt isolated, she started to have panic attacks, she was struggling in every aspect of her life, and it wasn’t easy to watch – I wanted her to succeed in solving the Rose’s mystery, and I was also intrigued what has happened to her.
On the other hand, I adored her family – this huge group of eclectic and eccentric characters, they could have been annoying and interfering but you wouldn’t have to fear anything with them at your side. Loud and sarcastic and reserving the right to know everything about every other member of the family, always well meaning, I know they would drive me crazy, but as they weren’t my family I could totally enjoy them.

“The Trouble with Rose” was a book that intertwined humour with poignant moments and with different and unique storyline. I think that the search for Rose was not simply a search for Rose, that there was much more to it, it was actually Rilla also trying to work out what it is she wants to do with her life, if she’s able to love. As a result, we get a warm story about dysfunctioning family, lies and secrets and as an extra bonus there are tons of information about Indian culture and community – but it was refreshing and interesting. It was humorous, it was chaotic, and it had some brilliant moments – I, for example, adored the mentally messed up Lord Basingstoke, the cat, for whom Simon was trying to figure out parabolas. Maybe it wasn’t the right read for me, maybe I didn’t get the main character but I appreciated this novel, and I’ll be looking for more from Amita Murray.

 

Blast from the Past by Cathy Hopkins

Blast from the Past by Cathy Hopkins

 

43320539Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 21st February 2019

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

Number of pages: 400

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

On a trip of a lifetime to India, Bea is given an unexpected fiftieth birthday present – an hour with a celebrated clairvoyant. Unlucky in love, Bea learns that her true soulmate is still out there ̶ and that he’s someone she knew in a past life.

Returning home, Bea revisits the men in her life and can’t resist looking up a few old lovers – the Good, the Bad and the… well, the others. As Bea connects with the ones that got away, she suspects that her little black book has remained shut for a reason. But one man out there has her in his sights.
They say love is blind and maybe Bea just needs an eye test…

Funny and wise, this is the perfect read for anyone who believes in finding love, no matter what their age.

Rating: three-stars

To celebrate her 50th birthday, Bea and two of her best friends travel to India. It’s not your usual trip, as they usually avoid the touristy places, and enjoy it very much. At the end of the trip the befriended three exchange their birthday presents and one of Bea’s is an hour reading with India’s most popular and celebrated clairvoyant. To say that she’s sceptical would be an understatement but nevertheless she goes there with an open mind and is told that her true soul mate is out there somewhere and she only must find him. Moreover, they have met in the previous life already – the only thing Bea has to do now is to recognise him in her present life.

And here the book takes us on a bitter – sweet, funny and poignant journey as Bea decides to revisit the men that were significant in her life and to reconnect with her past loved ones. Some of them are single, some not, some of them changed, some of them didn’t and she’s in for all sorts and kinds, and we together with her. What she doesn’t know is that there is a man who’s desperately in love with her – is it one of the past lovers? The chapters told from Bea’s point of view were interspersed with some told by the mystery man, and let me tell you, the author didn’t make it too easy for us to guess who it was. There was a character that I wanted Bea to end with together but I couldn’t be sure that it’s going to happen, and I really liked this feeling of uncertainty and unpredictability.

The retrospections of Bea’s previous relationships were so very well written. It was simply like it is in real life, with all the ups and downs and all kind of relationships and how Bea felt about them. It was realistic and genuine and also entertaining – some were truly disastrous, also in a funny way, but also in a more serious way, and I liked how well the author mixed them all together and perfectly balanced humour with sadness and seriousness.

Sadly, this time, the book felt a little too flat for me, and very repetitive. I had a feeling that we’re repeating the same thing, over and over again and that we’re not moving forward. I liked the idea of reincarnation, it was something totally new and refreshing but I couldn’t engage with it somehow and it didn’t keep my attention as much as I thought it’s going to. It simply felt too slow – but, having said that, I must also admit that this book was full of warmth and brilliant characters and I liked the message that it’s never too late to find your true love. What was so exceptionally brilliant and unique in the book was the idea of past life and the way the author explored this topic – even if I couldn’t fully get into it. No matter what your thoughts on it, it was written in a special, well – researched way and I had a feeling that Cathy Hopkins isn’t trying to convince me there is a past life and it’s possible to meet your soul mate again, no, she’s giving me a choice to believe in it or not. I’ll be honest, I still don’t know what to think about it but it was great to read about it, about the possibilities and oh well, there is something in it, right, those feelings of deja vu that we’re experiencing, seeing people for the first time in our lives and thinking that we know them for ages.

Altogether, “Blast from the Past” is a book about second chances, about grabbing life by the horns, having fun and about not being afraid to have dreams. It was warm, uplifting and with some sad moments as well, and I’m sure we all be able to find something we can relate to in this story. Even though it may not be my favourite Cathy’s novel, I still enjoyed it whole – heartedly, it was refreshing and unique. Recommended!