One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk (Blog Tour)

One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk

 

35562950Publisher: Harper

Publishing Date: 26th July 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

‘A corker…hilarious!’ Giovanna Fletcher
‘Full of heart and very, very funny’ Paige Toon

Everyone wants that special someone….

Annie Higgins has given up on love: she’s too busy trying to get her own business off the ground. Infuriated by the advertising agency across the hall making fun of her job, Annie accepts their crazy challenge – to make a random stranger Instagram-famous in just 30 days.

And even when they choose Dr Samuel Page PhD, historian and hater of social media, as her target, Annie’s determined to win the bet – whether Sam likes it or not.

But getting to know Sam means getting to know more about herself. And before the 30 days are out, Annie has to make a decision about what’s really important…

Funny, real and heart-meltingly romantic, Annie and Sam’s story is My Fair Lady for the social media age – and the perfect summer read.

Rating: five-stars

 

In “One in a Million” we meet Annie Higgins who has just betted to turn a very social media unfriendly person into an Instagram influencer. The man in question, Dr Samuel Page, doesn’t know his luck yet and Annie must turn this innocent nerd into an über – cool – nerd with twenty thousand followers in only thirty days. Samuel is absolutely not interested but when Annie learns that his girlfriend has recently dumped him for being only interested in his research work, being emotionally absent, for having a bad dress sense and for being not groomed enough, she senses her chance and “Boyfriend Bootcamp” is brought to life. She’s going to change him into the man his ex wants him to be and in exchange for her tips he agrees for her to make him exist in social media. Will she manage to turn this totally unknown unfriendly historian into Instagram star?

I’ve never been so much into social media, I mean, I do have my Facebook (sorry, Annie, yes, I’m old enough), and I know my Twitter but this followers fights on Instagram somehow passed me by, however I was totally intrigued what you can do to gain those followers – especially when you’re as reluctant as the person that Annie was supposed to turn into Instagram influencer. I am not the person that can’t take her eyes off her phone so Annie was a little exotic to me but I, of course, can also understand her way of keeping on with her emails, messages and likes, it was her job at last.

Annie was immediately likeable. She was funny and had some of the best one – liners, she was quirky and extremely good at her job. I loved Annie’s passion, the way she mad me feel about her – she made me laugh but I also wanted to bang her head sometimes, and this is the sign of a really great, realistic character.
Dr Samuel Page (not Sam!) was one of the most brilliant characters ever. Not only seeing him coming out of his shell was a real joy, seeing him as he is was refreshing and only imagining his face at some of the changes made me laugh out loud. This reluctance of his, it was so perfectly well captured and described and I felt so, so sorry for him. I only think that I would love to hear his point of view as well, not only Annie’s – I know, we know he’s reluctant and not so keen on this whole idea but it would be great to hear direct from him.
The banter between the characters was so enjoyable and it felt so genuine and natural. What I also liked was the fact that there could be one or two or more potential affair contenders, which made the reading not so obvious, however then it came to such a point when I couldn’t imagine Annie with any other character than THIS ONE. But of course life is not a picnic and the way to happy ending is always a bumpy road and there is never a guarantee that it’s going to be a happy end, right.

The pace of this story was only right, it was not too quick and not too slow and there were amusing events aplenty. It was fabulously enjoyable, with enough drama and romance, laughter and seriousness. The romance part was truly genuine and not too forced on the characters, and it was brilliantly balanced with their lives, careers and likes. Even if the story covers only one month, this love affair doesn’t feel too rushed or too artificial and I found myself totally absorbed in it. And it’s not only a laugh – out – loud book. I really liked how cleverly and seamlessly those subtle references to gender politics in business, in running your own company and also those random historical facts were built into this story.
Altogether, “One in a Million” was brilliantly light – hearted and spot on, it was full of hilarious situations and this trademark Lindsey Kelk’s humour and incredibly warm characters – this author is really a queen of creating unforgettable characters that you can’t help but root for. And of course there is also the hidden message about social media as well! Highly recommended!

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Dancing Over the Hill by Cathy Hopkins

Dancing Over the Hill by Cathy Hopkins

 

37531790Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 14th December 2017

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

Number of pages: 341

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 25.01.2018)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The hilarious and poignant new novel from the best selling author of The Kicking the Bucket List.

When a boxset of Broadchurch is more appealing than having sex with your husband, then perhaps it’s time to hide the remote…

Cait and Matt have been married for 30 years. They are rock solid; an inspiration to others; stuck together like glue – aren’t they?
But Cait can’t shake off the feeling that something is missing. They are fit and healthy, if a bit skint – but the whole world should be their oyster now that Matt has retired, giving them the time to do those things that really matter – and more importantly – together. So why is she left wondering if this is all there is? Has Matt always been this annoying and infuriating? And where have those ants-in-her-pants suddenly come from?
It’s not helped by the reappearance in her life of Tom Lewis, the love of her life who broke her heart at university and who, despite the fact she hasn’t she hasn’t seen him for decades, is still exerting his magnetic pull.
Her friends are Lorna, who recently lost her husband, and Debs whose husband recently left her. The three women must all question what they want out of the rest of their lives – and how they are going to get it…

Rating: five-stars

 

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“Dancing Over the Hill” is my second Cathy Hopkins’s book and oh my word, guys, I just can’t wait for more! It was a read filled with fun, laughter and tenderness and it just spoke with me and resonated with me and it was all what I needed at the moment. I was immersed in the story from the very first page, guys, and I really didn’t want to put this book down. It was truly fast – paced but not over – done, it was full of brilliant, larger than life characters that the author so incredibly well brought to life, and it just rang a bell or two, it was so relatable. It was also brutally honest and absolutely hilarious, so really, just the best kind of read, evah. I had great expectations for this book, after reading Cathy’s previous one, “The Kicking the Bucket List” and I was not disappointed, I probably liked “Dancing Over the Hill” even more.

What I absolutely liked in this story is the fact that the characters are mature ones – people with past, who experienced a lot and they really know what they’re talking about. They make mistakes, and oh boy, some really great mistakes, but they are so genuine and honest in all the situations and I just couldn’t help and kept everything crossed for them. Cait and Matt have been married for more than 30 years now and they find themselves in a relationship that’s, let’s say, came to a little standstill. They don’t have anything in common anymore, and they just live in one house, next to each other, but as if separate – if you follow me. Probably more out of habit than anything else they’re still together. Then, after a whirlwind of events, they find themselves both out of work and the big question, what now, is looming above their heads, and it’s not only about their financial situation but also their private lives. Do they want to stay together? It’s not so straightforward, as an old flame of Cait suddenly appears on her Facebook, sending her friend request and trying to seduce her again. Then there are also Cait’s friends, Lorna and Debs, trying their best to help as best they can, that doesn’t always end well, and Matt’s brother (oh boy. Guys! Some of the most hilarious scenes I’ve ever read, please be careful when you decide to talk sex on the phone with your husband!) and Cait’s father, and many, many other characters and things. They were open for new stuff and to learn a new lesson or two.

Really guys, there was not a single thing that I didn’t enjoy in this novel. It was down to earth and close to life, and with some best one – liners ever. The dialogues were just spot – on, so realistic and genuine, and the situations the characters got themselves into were incredibly hilarious but not too far fetched. There were so many situations that made me laugh out loud, and I fell for all of the characters, that Cathy Hopkins so easily and effortlessly brought to life. She can so well write about feelings and emotions, it was absolutely brilliant. The chapters were just the right length, snappy and kept me glued to the pages.

Cathy Hopkins deserves so much more recognition, and believe me, I’ll be shouting about “Dancing Over the Hill” from all the rooftops! This book made me laugh so hard and I couldn’t wait to discover what’s going to happen. It is this best kind of book when you want to turn the pages as quickly as possible but on the other hand you don’t want it to end. It was a brilliant, entertaining story about love, family and finding your priorities, relationships and seeing that grass is not always greener on the other side. It had me emotionally involved and just pushed all the right buttons for me, and I really can’t recommend it highly enough! A perfect read!

 

I Heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk

I Heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk

 

34016827Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 7th September 2017

Series: I Heart #7

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre:   Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

Winter in Manhattan…and someone’s keeping a secret.

The day her husband Alex picks up a backpack and goes travelling, Angela Clark promises to stay out of trouble and keep both Louboutins on the ground.

So when her best friend’s boyfriend confides in her, it can’t hurt to help him pick out a ring at Tiffany’s surely?

And when her fashion magazine announces major changes, being terminally late and arguing with your boss isn’t that bad, is it?

Then suddenly there’s another big secret Angela’s got to keep – and the man she loves is still thousands of miles away. As the wedding of the year looms, and Manhattan switches on its Christmas lights, Angela is going to need her friends by her side as her old life looks set to change forever.

Rating: five-stars

 

So guys, I think this is going to be one of the shortest reviews ever written by me, simply because I. DON’T. WANT. TO. SPOIL. ANYTHING! “I Heart Forever” is absolutely lovely, gorgeous story bringing back some of our most favourite characters back and I loved it, and I’m sure you’re also going to love it and this is why I am so, so scared to let something slip and spoil all the joy for you, so this time the less the better.

Angela and Jenny Lopez are just like they were before and perhaps this is why I so enjoy the books in the “I Heart” series. Their friendship is going stronger all the time and they only need to look at each other to know what the other is thinking. Of course, as usual, they both get themselves into tons of problems and hilarious situations that made me cry with laughter. Angela loves her job at “Gloss”, her friends and currently has a secret, and the gorgeous Alex, who’s travelling somewhere in Asia , doesn”t have any reception so he doesn’t know what’s happening back at home – and there is plenty happening! Many changes are on the horizon, not only for Angela and Alex, but also for Jenny and Cici, both professionally and personally, there are of course many troubles and jumping to conclusions and also a hole in the ceiling and flying washing machines. For example.
I loved how Angela stood her ground this time, how she fought for her friends and how she didn’t sell herself. She’s witty, she’s sassy and she’s incredible laid – back. And she still has her Marc Jacobs bag! I rooted for her and cheered her on this way.

This is this kind of the book that you don’t want to end, you want to keep reading and reading. It is escapism pure, the pace is so quick, there is not single flat moment and of course some of the best one – liners again and you just want more and more. It probably won’t be too original when I say that I heart this book but oh well. This book had it all, everything I wanted it be, and I laughed, I panicked, I kept my fingers crossed, I wanted to shout at some of the characters or bang some heads together and I’d love to try Spirit Cycle. Oh yes.
No matter if you’ve read any of the “I Heart” series or not – though reading the previous books will help for sure – you should read “I Heart Forever”. It is a great, entertaining, incredibly warm story and I loved every single minute of it. I personally think that this might be the best book in the series yet, as you can see that both the characters and the authors grow and get better – though not sure how it’s possible, as they are already brilliant. Highly, highly recommended!

True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling

True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling

 

33145286Publisher: Harper

Publishing Date: 10th August 2017

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

Number of pages: 416

Genre:   Romance, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a good job, four bossy sisters and a needy cat must also have want of her one true love. Or is it?

Another delightful novel from the author of The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts. Perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond and Jenny Colgan

Verity Love – Jane Austen fangirl and an introvert in a world of extroverts – is perfectly happy on her own (thank you very much), and her fictional boyfriend Peter is very useful for getting her out of unwanted social events. But when a case of mistaken identity forces her to introduce a perfect stranger as her boyfriend, Verity’s life suddenly becomes much more complicated.

Johnny could also use a fictional girlfriend. Against Verity’s better judgement, he persuades her to partner up for a summer season of weddings, big number birthdays and garden parties, with just one promise – not to fall in love with each other…

Rating: five-stars

Oh dear. Guys. I’ve fallen in love with “True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop” immediately – just like it happened when I’ve been reading the first book in the series “The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts” (and here you can read my review). Those two stories are heart – breakingly funny, warm, they tug at all the right heart strings and are full of the best ever comments, one – liners and characters. I could read Annie Darling’s books on daily basis.
This book was a little different to the previous novel, although I can’t tell you exactly what was missing this time, maybe I just had too high expectations but still it was a brilliant, poignant and hilarious read. However, if you haven’t read the previous book, I would highly recommend to do this before reading Verity’s story, and not because you are going to miss on the characters or plot, because this book can be read as a stand – alone, but because the previous novel was just magical.

Annie Darling has – again – created some of the best characters in the fictional world. This time the story focuses on Verity Love, who works in Posy’s bookshop. Verity may be a very extreme character – you know, there might be quiet and there might be quiet, and she was at the very end of the scale, but the descriptions of her introverted nature were so spot on, they explained her personality in such a perfect way that – even though I have my wild years behind me I am still an open person – I could just get Verity, I understood her with my whole heart and could see her need for peace and quiet. It was brilliant that she realised she’s not the easiest person to be around but it was even more great that she was trying hard not to overwhelm people with her need to be alone, and I had a feeling that she tried so hard not to be a burden – but she was not a martyr! Oh no. She was a lovely, incredibly smart and funny person and I would love to have Verity as a friend.
I think that the best parts of the book involve Verity’s family – her fours sisters, cats, dog and parents who also refers to themselves as Our Vicar and Our Vicar’s Wife – loved it! The sisters couldn’t be more different than Verity herself and they brilliantly complemented her, they were incredible, self – confident chatterboxes talking all the time. I laughed out loud at their antics and couldn’t stop smiling when they were planning Con’s wedding. They were all so warm and you could see they love each other incredibly.
The author also couldn’t come up with a better name for the antagonist. As it happens, I know one Marissa and even though she’s only a child, she’s as devil as the Marissa from the story.
And then we have the main male character. Oh boy. But before I start gushing about Johnny please let me tell you that there was one moment at the end of the story when I felt SO disappointed with him! I thought I’m going to kill him with my bare hands. Also, him being in love with a woman he can’t have, and the way he cling desperately to this illusion started to annoy me at some point and I wanted to shake him really hard. And he was a little like enigma to me, sometimes he just came across as self centred and arrogant, and sometimes he was so understanding and heartfelt. But whatever, I really liked him and the way he was around Verity, he was so patient with her and he had so much understanding.

What made me feel a little unsure was the fact that I was eventually asking myself if Verity and Johnny should really end up together? They worked brilliantly together in my opinion but there came a moment that we got to know Verity’s feelings about the situation and didn’t know about Johnny’s, and then came this another moment that I’ve mentioned above about being unsure about Johnny, and I was simply afraid that Verity is going to be hurt, because I was not sure what it really is what Johnny feels. Nevertheless, I loved the way this friendship evolved, it felt very genuine and natural. They both had issues and demons and I loved to see how they open up to each other and how it helped them.

I am only afraid that slowly there is only so much Jane Austen I can take and that with this book I’ve maxed up my limit of reading books based on “Pride and Prejudice” – however it was one of the best “adaptations” I have come across.

So altogether, even though the first book in the series was magically brilliant, I adored “True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop” and I hope that Annie Darling is going to write another book about one of the characters! I will be the first in the virtual queue to read it, that’s for sure. This book was full of a great, different romance, wonderful, larger than life characters and written in such a lovely way! The author has a great way with words, she always knows when it’s time for something poignant or some fun and some of the situations are either heart – breaking or hilariously funny, and I loved this balance. If you need to loose yourself in a humorous, heart – warming novel about friendship, family, love and hope than treat yourself to this book. Highly recommended!

The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthous by Cressida McLaughlin / #BlogTour + Q&A with the Author

Hello, hello, and – as usually – happy Sunday! I’ve warned you that there are many blog tours coming your way in July and ta – dah! Here is the next one, and I am SO, SO excited about this one because a) I love the author, b) I love her books, c) it was a brilliant story and d) I also have a Q&A with the one and only lovely Cressida McLaughlin! So put your feet high and enjoy!

The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse by Cressida McLaughlin

34659064Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 29th June 2017

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

Number of pages: 464

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The charming new bestseller from the No.1 bestselling author of The Canal Boat Cafe

Robin Brennan has come home to Campion Bay. Now her parents have retired, she’s set to become the new landlady of The Campion Bay Guesthouse.
Bookings have been as thin as the hand towels, and it doesn’t take long for Robin to realise that the place needs a serious makeover. Perhaps throwing herself into the task will help to heal her sadness at the tragic end to her dreams in London.
As she gives the guesthouse a new lease of life, Robin encounters old friends and new, including old flame Tim, who’d clearly like to reboot their romance. But what about Will, the new arrival at No. 4, who’s rocked up with the cutest dog ever?
Caught up in a flurry of full-English breakfasts and cream teas, Robin’s never sure what, or who, the next check-in will bring…

Rating: four-stars

I’ve been so eagerly awaiting “The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse” as one whole beautiful novel! I love Cressida McLaughlin’s stories and when this gorgeous baby arrived, I really wanted to stop all the people on the streets to show them my wonderful copy.

The story introduces us to Robin Brennan who has just come back home to Campion Bay. There couldn’t be a better timing, as her parents have just decided to retire, and so Robin takes over The Campion Bay Guesthouse. She quickly realises that there are things to do to improve the number of bookings and so the guesthouse soon faces a serious makeover. One of the things that brought Robin home was the need to heal her sadness, to leave a dramatic past of London behind – is time going to heal? Also, being back home means old (but also new) friends and ex – boyfriends with some strange ideas – what and who is future going to bring in Robin’s life?

I liked Robin from the beginning – she was just this kind of girl that you can’t NOT to like. She had her heart on the sleeve and she always wanted to please other people but it didn’t make her a doormat, oh no, I didn’t have a feeling that she let others use her. She knew what she wanted and she also knew when to go on or when to back away. I loved her amazing ideas, she was so creative and it was often one thing that would make her start and we could see brilliant events as the result. She was enthusiastic, full of drive and determination but she really knew when to say stop.

I adored the descriptions of the rooms in the guesthouse. The designs were unique, gorgeous and so very considered. There was always a story behind each of them and I really loved how much thought and heart were put into them. There was so much heart and soul in the whole guesthouse idea, you could see that Robin is the right person in the right place. And of course we have the lovely community spirit in this book, that Cressida McLaughlin captured just in the right way, and I so enjoyed visiting the little businesses on Goldcrest Road! And, as in all Cressida’s stories, there are some animal characters as well, and wow, can she write animals! Eclipse and Darcy, Robin’s little cat and Will’s cute dog, added so much joy and fun to the pages.

For me this story was perfectly organized for being published as series, but not so as a whole novel. Don’t get me wrong here, pretty please, because I adored it, I only think that it was much better suited to seeing the world as series – it was rather on the slow side, and what slowed it down was the fact that every single guest in the guesthouse was introduced to us, and while I really see it working in parts, it didn’t work so much for me in the whole story. There was too much focus on the details than on the story itself – in the whole. It also felt a little repetitive – and again, it was absolutely OK for the series, probably it didn’t stick out so much then. I also had some problems with Will. I just had a feeling that he let Robin do all the chasing, that he wasn’t as interested as she was and that he just went with the flow – it didn’t let me to warm to him as much as I’d like to warm to the lovely Robin’s love interest. Also Robin’s ex – boyfriend – oh boy, was he creepy!

Altogether, it was such a lovely, heart – warming and uplifting story, and I really love this gorgeous, rich and vivid Cressida’s writing style. Her words have such distinctive voice and she easily brings everything: the setting, the characters, all the feelings and emotions, to life. The story flows, it is full of twists and turns, family dynamics, old and new friendships and relationships, and this all just works together. Each section of the novel ends – of course! – with a cliffhanger and it was such a relief to be able to keep reading! It was really a charming story, without unnecessary dramas but with enough surprises thrown our way. Highly recommended!

Q&A WITH CRESSIDA MCLAUGHLIN

  1. Do you have a favourite part or scene from your latest book? Could you tell us why you love it?

There is a scene about halfway through the book that takes place on Skull Island – the crazy golf course in Campion Bay.  I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s one of my favourite scenes because it’s the culmination of lots of things, it was really fun to write, and I also love crazy golf.  What happens afterwards is also one of my favourites parts of the book, but for very different reasons.  There’s quite a lot of drama in those two scenes!  Ooh, and there’s also a scene further on in the book that takes place at a stately home in Dorset, which I loved writing! The setting was fun to conjure up, and there’s quite a bit of tension and awkwardness. I love making my characters squirm.

  1. Robin hopes that the move to Campion Bay – and throwing herself into her new duties as the landlady of the guesthouse – will help her heal from the sadness of the tragic end of her dreams in London. Is that experience something close to your heart?

I’m very lucky that I haven’t had to deal with anything as tragic as Robin has, but I think a new start – for whatever reason – is something that everyone can identify with.  I’ve recently become a full time author, which is one of the most daunting decisions I’ve ever made, partly because it’s been my dream for such a long time.  I’m definitely throwing myself into it, and loving every moment so far!  Like Robin, I have also moved away from London.  I was born there, and stayed until I chose to go to university in Norfolk.  I’ve been here for 17 years now, so moving out of the big smoke and feeling at home somewhere slower-paced, embracing the countryside and the beautiful coastline, is something I can identify with.

  1. The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse is great for holiday inspiration! But what would be your ideal romantic summer getaway?

Somewhere quiet, staying in a B&B or hotel with sea views, close to a beautiful beach. We’ve had a couple of lovely holidays in Cornwall, but in the summer it gets so busy.  I also love Crete, so maybe going to one of the Greek islands with perfect, sandy beaches, glorious blue water and lots of fresh fish to eat.

  1. Besides a writer, what did you want to be ‘when you grow up’?

When I was little I either wanted to be a florist, or work behind the delicatessen counter in Sainsbury’s.  I got the chance to do the latter when I got a job at my local Sainsbury’s during my GCSE’s and A-levels, and sadly, though unsurprisingly, it didn’t live up to my expectations.  I still love the idea of being a florist, surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers, creating inspiring bouquets and displays, but I think you have to work in the cold, and I’m not a fan of the cold.

  1. Apart from a survival guide, what book would you take with you on a desert island, to read over and over again?

Oh wow, just one book?  How about my Kindle?  Hehe.  Maybe the mammoth encyclopaedia of ghosts that I have.  I’m fascinated by ghosts and the supernatural, and that would definitely keep me interested for a long time.  Is an encyclopaedia cheating though? Novel wise, I would pick Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld.  It’s a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and it’s delicious in so many ways.  I could read that over and over again without getting bored.

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The A – Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson

The A – Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson

 

33216522Publisher: Harper

Publishing Date: 20th April  2017

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

Number of pages: 320

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

P is for Paris where it all began. J is for Jealousy where it all came undone. But the most important letter is F. F is for Forgiveness, the hardest of all.

Sisters Poppy and Rose used to be as close as two sisters could be, but it’s been over a decade since they last spoke. Until they both receive a call that tells them their mother has gone – without ever having the chance to see her daughters reunited.

Andrea, though, wasn’t the kind of woman to let a little thing like death stand in the way of her plans. Knowing her daughters better than they know themselves, she has left behind one very special last gift – the A-Z of Everything.

‘Funny and poignant – a celebration of life and the enduring power of love’ – Carys Bray, bestselling author of A Song for Issy Bradley.

Rating: 5/5

This book is a big step away from Debbie Johnson’s previous rom – coms. Already her “Comfort Food Cafe” series was a little different, more serious in tone but “The A – Z of Everything” is a totally different level. I admit, it took me some time to get used to the new Debbie Johnson, as I totally love her specific sense of dry humour and I missed it a little lately, but you know what, this book, it is just magnificent, and the way the author writes about feelings and emotions is just beautifully gorgeous. I freely admit, it was hard for me to get into this story as I was all the time looking for a situation that’ll made me laugh out loud and I felt confused why they’re not coming but guys, honestly, my initial disappointment was very quickly replaced with the feeling of feeling my heart in my throat and having problems with swallowing. Sure, this trademark Debbie Johnson’s humour is still shining through the words and situations, and it is written in this typical author’s way, but this book is different. Period. And as much as I felt head over heals with Debbie’s “The Birthday That Changed Everything”, this book follows it closely.

The story is following Rose (Rosehip) and Poppy (Popcorn – brilliant nicknames, don’t you think?) and at the beginning, though I am really not sure why, I had great difficulties to say which one is Rose and which one is Poppy, each time I turned the page to a new chapter and there was the name of one of the sisters I needed to consider long if this is the younger or the older one. Really don’t know why. But only at the beginning. So we know that they were inseparable as children but then something very unthinkable happened and they haven’t seen or talked to each other for years. Heck, Poppy has never seen her nephew Joe and he’s already 16 years old! It takes some time for the “unthinkable” to be explained and while my imagination run wild, I haven’t come up with this possibility. So yes, estranged siblings – that is, till their mother’s friend Lewis let them know that Andrea is dead and that there is a little list of things they should do together – because Andrea’s greatest wish was to see her daughters re – united.

The two sisters couldn’t be more different, and while one of them focused on binge and comfort eating, the other one focused on her career and staying fit. When one of them felt like a doormat, didn’t have any confidence, was overweight and knew it and hated it but did nothing to change it, the second one was full of confidence, was a business – woman, had a great job and state – of – the – art apartment. They were full of flaws but guys – how much I loved them! From the very beginning. Yes, I wanted to shake them more than often, to bang their heads together but I so well could understand them, why they behaved this way, what has driven them to be like that – and it doesn’t happen often that I can get the characters SO WELL.

You know, this book brought out all kind of emotions out of me. I felt furious with the sisters for being so stubborn, I felt sorry for Joe for missing so much of his Aunt, I felt like crying when reading about Lewis’ missing Andrea so much, I felt proud of Andrea being so strong and brave. I could understand Andrea and her wish for her daughters not seeing her so ill and so weak, wanting them to remember her living and breathing and not thinking about her through the prism of seeing her on her deathbed. This story had me laughing and crying, feeling desperate and full of hope. It was so uplifting to see the two sisters finding each other and themselves afresh and heart – breaking to see how much it have cost them.

I loved to read about the tasks! Each of the letters was brilliant and believe me, guys, they were not like A is for apple or W is for watching films. They were thoroughly thought – over, they were complex and they had one thing in common – to bring the girls together. Some of the tasks were incredibly hard for Poppy and Rose, some of them were incredibly hilarious, but the most important thing was, I think, that they worked together on them – sometimes sober, more then often after a glass or two of wine, but together, slowly opening, reminiscing on their past and always having their mum in their memories.

A story that really makes you think twice. It will teach you not to take things for granted and to appreciate the smallest things in your life. And not only things, but people as well, because they won’t be in your life for ever. Novel about coming out of your comfort zones, about forgiveness. The author has done the impossible here, namely she has written a book that is so incredibly emotional on the sad side but at the same time so very uplifting, and I loved this perfect mix. Debbie Johnson can so brilliantly capture all the rawness of emotions, the broken hearts without judging the characters, and I loved this fact – it let me be angry with Rose and Poppy myself. This is really Debbie Johnson at her best, guys. “The A – Z of Everything” is a MUST read this spring and I will be recommending it to all of my friends, and I can start right now, so really, whatever you do, make sure you have this book on pre – order – it’s not a read to be missed and that is for sure going to stay with you for longer. It’s poignant, it’s full of sympathy, compassion and understanding and I can’t stop admiring the fact how much the author has managed to get into the characters’ heads and tell their stories in such a lovely way. Highly, highly recommended!

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys, and happy Tuesday! Today I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of Dawn O’Porter’s blog tour. Her newest novel, “The Cows”, is being published on 6th April and let me tell you something, guys – it is a book like no other, and I would really highly recommend it to you! It’s about women and for women, full of embarrassing but also funny and poignant moments, just a perfect mix. When you read my review, below you can find an extract as well – a foretaste 🙂 Enjoy!

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

 

33665369Publisher: HarperCollins

Publishing Date: 6th April 2017

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

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

Synopsis:

Fearlessly frank and funny, the debut adult novel from Dawn O’Porter needs to be talked about.

COW [n.]
/kaʊ/

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

THE COWS is a powerful novel about three women. In all the noise of modern life, each needs to find their own voice.

It’s about friendship and being female.
It’s bold and brilliant.
It’s searingly perceptive.
It’s about never following the herd.

And everyone is going to be talking about it.

Rating: 4/5

Before spotting “The Cows” I was not familiar with Dawn O’Porter and her writing but right now, after reading this novel, I am really glad that I’ve come across this author. This book turned out to be a sharp, brutally honest, bitter – sweat and very insightful novel about women, the choices they make and how hard it still is to be a woman in this society, especially when you refuse to follow the rules being set by others, to follow the herd. A very modern and thought – provoking book dealing with the role of a woman in today’s society.

The story follows three women that at the beginning have nothing in common. You know how touchy I am about novels that tell us stories about different people which paths do not cross and I was really intrigued how this is going to work this time. However, at the end, the paths of Cam, Tara and Stella do cross and yes, I was absolutely happy with this outcome – it worked for me. I admit that at the beginning I had problems to get into the story and to warm to the characters – the latter didn’t happen with all of the women. I wasn’t sure if it is going to be a novel, a story or a feministic peon, a manifesto. But “The Cows” were slowly, with every page turned, turning into a proper story that in the end I didn’t want to put down. OK, I’ll admit, I spent the last night reading instead of sleeping.
Tara is a single mother with a stable career in making documentaries. The pregnancy was a result of a one – night fling and it was Tara’s conscious decision to bring her daughter up alone, which one day will turn against her – after she’s being filmed on a train in a very intimate and uncomfortable situation her world is being put upside down. I think I liked her most, maybe because I had a feeling that there was the most background given about her, that I know her most. I also fell for her totally and kept everything crossed for her. Cam is a single life – style blogger with thousands of followers. She’s not afraid to stand up for herself, to stand her ground when it comes to consciously remain childless, to have a younger lover who comes and goes when she wants and to write about women and for women. I loved her honesty and the way she fought for herself, she was strong, intelligent and sharp. Then we have Stella, a single PA to a writer, carrying the BRCA gene and still grieving after the death of her mother and then twin sister Alice. I must admit that quickly I started to wonder if Stella’s mental health is absolutely in order – I didn’t sympathize with her, I disliked her even though the cross she had to carry was a very serious one but still, there was something in her that just rejected me from her and the more I read about her, the more I despised her. But likes or dislikes apart, the characters were vivid and really realistic with all their dramas, flaws and ups and downs.

The book covers many controversial and taboo issues, such as abortion, masturbation, periods to name only a few, in a very modern language. However, I didn’t feel offended or ashamed because in my eyes the author has dealt with those issues in a normal way, describing them just like they are, without beating around the bush, without pulling the wool over our eyes – only telling how it really is. It also deals with the dangers of the modern social media, showing what one little video going viral may done to a person. I’d only wanted the book to also deal with the young guy who has posted this video, it’s a pity there was nothing about him, as I would love to see him punished till he bled, and I am not a violent person. All were talking about and condemning Tara and nobody thought that it were her rights being violated, that she didn’t ask for this and it should be this young guy being ostracised and criticised for letting the world see what he has filmed. I hated this guy, his thoughtlessness, his inconsideration of other people’s lives and feelings. He has done the harm, not Tara.

The book started slowly and some of the events throughout the story were a little too far fetched for my liking. There were some moments that I thought “no way”, they just seemed so impossible – for example, the thing with Jason not being able to track Tara, it just didn’t sit with me, I’m sorry, but who nowadays doesn’t have an access to internet? There were some similar moments, especially when Stella was concerned but altogether they didn’t spoil the reading so much for me.

“The Cows” is a story about women standing up for themselves, standing for their beliefs, finding the courage. I loved the fact that it is so bold and so open, like any other fiction book and the author hides from nothing. She writes about each issue in her story with honesty, not apologising for being a woman and having period. She provides an excellent discussion of what it is to be a woman, about friendships. For me it was a celebration of womanhood, this book, as Dawn O’Porter writes about – and doesn’t judge! – young and older women, working or unemployed, mother, childless; those wanting children and those who don’t want them, married or single; but first of all, women who decide not to follow the herd. Recommended!

EXTRACT

Does anyone want to hear a love story? It’s not one that has ever been told before. It’s called, Cam Stacey and her great love, The Internet. Let me start at the beginning . . .

Once upon a time, there was a girl called Cammie. She was generally quite good at things at school, working hard and keen on doing well. She had a rebellious streak, in that she smoked fags and kissed boys and drank too much cider, but as a whole, she was a pretty good kid.

She wasn’t one for trying to be cool, but by not trying to be cool, she probably came across a bit like she was trying to be cool. She wore tight trousers and band t-shirts when the other girls were wearing short skirts and low-cut tops. She didn’t have many close friendships. Instead, she sat around talking about music with boys, rather than gossip sessions with the girls. All in all, she got through her teenage years without too much trouble; girls found her a bit intimidating, boys probably did too. All she wanted was a bit of peace and quiet. With three older sisters at home, leaving the house was like a holiday, and she didn’t want to fill that time with too many people, so she generally kept herself to herself.

Yes, you’ve guessed it, Cammie is me. Here is how the story goes on . . .

I left school, went to uni, and studied English. I was one of those people who read everything on the course modules. I was never without a book, and I had a freakish tendency to read multiple newspapers a day from cover to cover. Why? Because I knew that I had to be a writer. I knew I had to absorb words to be good at it. It was the only way that I was ever going to get the billions of thoughts and opinions that were in my head, out. In a way that anyone would understand. Because socially, I really sucked.

I did what all aspiring writers did back then, and I wrote pages and pages of articles, printed them off and sent them to editors in yellow envelopes. I never got any replies. Then, this amazing thing happened . . . they called it email. Suddenly I could send my work as attachments to emails, so I did that, but still, I never got any replies. And then I read an article about this little-known hobby that they were calling ‘blogging’. This woman was blogging about her family. Her husband was a photographer, she was beautiful, their kids were cute and their dog was fluffy. So every day, she got her husband to take an adorable picture and she posted it with a note about what they did that day. It was kind of sickening if I am honest, not my thing at all. But then I read that 30,000 people checked in every single day to read what she had to say. And I knew this was the answer for me.

So, Reader, I married him! By him, I mean, the Internet. And by married, I mean I built a website. And then, we started making babies. (You get the picture by now. By babies, I mean writing blogs.)

I found my voice online and that helped me find my voice inside. I wrote and wrote, and every day without fail, I posted something. Whether it was something I was feeling, or a reaction to some- thing in the news. And then, I made everyone I knew read it. I had flyers printed that I put on cars and through letterboxes. I emailed the link to every editor of every paper and magazine, and I posted the link on thousands of people’s MySpace pages. It became my life; it became an addiction. If I wasn’t writing, I was promoting. I didn’t need editors of newspapers to notice me, I was getting an audience all of my own. And look at me now. I have one of the longest running lifestyle blogs in the UK. HowItIs.com started sixteen years ago next week and it’s still going strong. Over half a million people read my blogs each day; that’s a bigger readership than most print publications.

I’m telling this story for anyone who has a voice but doesn’t know how to get it heard. You don’t have to be a social butterfly, you don’t have to be charming, overly confident, beautiful or thin. All you need to have is something to say.

The Internet is the love of my life, because it allows me to be who I want to be. Words that would get stuck in my mouth tumble out of my fingertips with total ease. I’m not sure what I would have become if I didn’t have this as an outlet. And you know the best bit? I can connect with hundreds of thousands of people every single day, without even having to say a word. So go for it, post your feelings online. Even if no one reads it now, there is a little piece of you out there that will last forever, it’s kinda magical!

Cam x

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