A Million Dreams by Dani Atkins / Blog Tour + Extract

A Million Dreams by Dani Atkins

 

Publisher: Head of Zeus 46041732._sx318_

Publishing Date: 14th November 2019

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

Number of pages: 464

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 07.05.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Beth Brandon always dreamed of owning a florist, but today the bouquets of peonies and bright spring flowers are failing to calm her nerves. Because today, Beth has a life-changing decision to share with her husband.

Izzy Vaughan thought she and her husband would stay together forever, but sometime last year, their love began to fade. They both find such joy in their young son Noah – but is he enough to keep them together?

Eight years ago, something happened to these two women. Something that is about to bring them together in a way no-one thought possible…

Thought-provoking, emotional and uplifting, this is a gripping love story for fans of Jojo Moyes and Amanda Prowse.

Rating: four-stars

 

Beth Brandon has always loved flowers and together with her husband Tim worked hard to make her dream of having her own Florists shop come true. However, no matter how hard they try, the baby they also dream of so much, doesn’t appear, so eventually they decide to try fertility treatments. It doesn’t happen immediately, and they’re devastated, but then something happens that makes Beth’s world collapse. And it’s not only this that’s going to change her world forever because something else happens.
Izzy Vaughan and her husband Peter are incredibly happy when their baby is born after IVF. They love their son Noah more than anything in the world but their marriage starts to show the first cracks and misunderstandings and they separate. But one phone call is going to change everything for them.
Eight years ago, something happened – something that is going to bring Beth, Izzy and their families together, but not in a good way.

To be honest, I felt angry with Beth. I mean, I also sympathised with her, and felt sorry for her, but in my eyes she shouldn’t let the things go so far. I was more Team – Izzy, I couldn’t imagine being in her situation, trembling and fearing, not sure about the future. Don’t get me wrong, I fell for Beth as well, she was altogether full of empathy and she was always there for others, even though life didn’t treat her too well and she had already lost so much. But still, as a mother myself I was completely on Izzy’s side. Nevertheless, they both, as well as the other characters, were really well crafted, given personalities and no matter what your sympathies are, you’re going to feel the pain, desperation and hope of all of them.
The relationships in this book, no matter what kind, were beautifully written. The bonds between wives and husbands, parents and children, friends were captured with a lot of love and feeling. They felt so normal, they were full of ups and downs but there was always this feeling that the characters respect and support each other.

Of course I was incredibly intrigued how the things are going to end. Not so long ago I read a book with very similar topic though tackled in a rather different way, not so poignant and emotional like “A Million Dreams”, and the way things ended there waw a bit disappointing. As much as I think there is not a right way out of such situation, I really wanted to see which way did Dani Atkins choose and whose heart she’s going to break – because no matter what, no matter how, a heart or two are going to break. And… well… I wasn’t so sure about the court thing, and the way Beth was needed to help felt just this little bit too clichéd.

The writing style is very gentle, emotive and simply beautiful and it’s impossible not to find yourself emotionally invested in the book, impossible not to ask yourself questions “what if”. The author touches upon the most hidden feelings, bringing them to the pages of the novel, reaches to the deepest parts of the characters’ hearts. She can also so beautifully capture all sorts of emotions, making shock, horror and devastation a part of the reader as well. And even though the story is about very serious matters, it doesn’t feel too gloom or desperate, no, the writing makes it lighter and there is hope somewhere between the words, and enough humour contained within the pages. The pacing is perfect, everything has its place and even though there is quite a lot happening in the story, it never feels confusing, you always know where you are.

But maybe because of the fact that there isn’t a right way to decide about such situation, and because the author did take some easier ways out, this book, as much as I adored it, didn’t wow me as much as I thought it’s going to, and this is why I rate it with 4 stars instead of 5. Nevertheless, it held me captive and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I also truly recommend it to you all. It was sublime, moving and thought – provoking, a wonderful read that’s going to have you hooked immediately. Truly recommended!

 

EXTRACT:

‘The sooner we begin your treatment, the better the chances for a successful outcome.’

The words that reshaped our future –reshaped everything –were softly spoken. I looked across the desk, beyond the files and X-ray envelopes, at the doctor who was patiently waiting for our world to stop spinning as we absorbed the news.

I was gripping Tim’s hand so tightly I was probably crushing bone against cartilage, but my gaze was fixed on the oncologist, whose eyes revealed far more than I think he knew. Behind the rimless glasses, I saw the glimmer of a truth he was not prepared to share with us on that first black day. The chances of success were small. My ability to read faces, to pick up on tiny nuances others failed to see, had always been an asset in my work. On that day, it felt more like a curse.

‘I see from your file that you and your wife don’t have children, Mr Brandon.’

Tim shook his head, and I felt the tremors racking his body begin to spread to mine. I was shaking in both body and voice as I answered for him.

‘We’ve only been married for two years. We were planning on waiting a little longer before starting a family.’ I looked at the doctor, whose face was beginning to swim behind my tears.

‘I know this is a lot for you to take in, but without wishing to add to the decisions you are now facing, I have to urge you to think about safeguarding and preserving your fertility.’ Perhaps Tim understood instantly what the oncologist was talking about, but I was several pages behind him. ‘There is a strong possibility that your treatment will affect your ability to father a child in the future, so at this point we would recommend you to consider freezing your sperm.’

For one crazy moment I imagined he was talking about doing so at home, where it would sit on the shelf beside the packets of pork chops and Birds Eye peas. It took a few moments for the image to disappear.

‘There are several fertility clinics that we can refer you to. They will be able to explain the various options open to you. These can range from freezing sperm to even freezing embryos, if you should choose.’

‘Embryos?’ Tim asked, his voice ringing with confusion.

‘It’s one option to consider. There are excellent statistics for successful pregnancies resulting from cryogenically stored embryos. For couples your age and in your situation, it is definitely something worth thinking about.’

 

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Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe / Blog Tour

Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe

 

46257056._sy475_Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publishing Date: 19th July 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 496

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

How do you know who to trust…
…when you don’t even know who you are?

You are outside your front door.
There are strangers in your house.
Then you realise. You can’t remember your name.

She arrived at the train station after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen, and with it, her identity. Her whole life was in there – passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, she couldn’t remember her own name. All she knew was her own address.

Now she’s outside Tony and Laura’s front door. She says she lives in their home. They say they have never met her before.

One of them is lying.

my-review

 

The first line in “Forget My Name” is “I can’t remember my own name” – a chilling opening to a story. The woman who arrives at Laura and Tony’s house can’t remember her own name but is convinced that this is where she lives. Her bag was stolen at the airport, she has no wallet, no passport, nothing, except for a train ticket to the village. Laura and Tony invite her – she can identify the layout of the house! As she needs a name, Tony decides on Jemma. Jemma with a “J”.
Soon the rumours start that she’s Jemma Huish that was sentenced for killing her best friend. Is she? Or is she a total innocent woman? Who is lying and why?

Jemma, not knowing her identity, nothing about herself, looks desperate to piece her life together. In this process she must rely on the kindness of other people, who either choose to help her or immediately decide that she’s the wrong one – it was really thought – provoking, forcing me to think what would I do in this situation? Let her in? Let her sleep in my house? Isn’t it too dangerous? I liked to see the different reactions of people reacting to Jemma’s story, and how helping/not helping her affected them. And what if you would be in Jemma’s situation? No memory, no identification, relying on the help of strangers?

The chapters switch perspectives between several characters, quite many of them. But each of the characters add a deeper layer to the whole puzzle, and in the end I was left really not knowing who tells the truth. There were many theories and many options, some of them rather ridiculous but well, actually maybe possible, and I liked this fact. It was, however, hard to engage with the characters, to warm to them, and the only one whose reactions were believable was Laura. Altogether, it was hard to believe any of them, so they for sure didn’t pull the rug out from under me.

The pace in this story was only right. There came a moment later on when it suddenly started to feel a bit flat and slow but in the next second everything was right again, as if the author has spotted it as well and brought back the pace. There were also some situation that were too far – fetched for my liking, things happening at the right moment, very convenient for the characters, and the fact that the similar – looking women were popping up like mushrooms was rather disturbing, stretching the credibility to a breaking point, I would say. But, in this book, it didn’t turn me off, they were easy to overlook and so I really enjoyed the story.

There were some twists and turns on the way, that’s for sure. Perhaps I didn’t feel tension as I’d like to feel, and the big revelation came really at the very end, but I still enjoyed this read – it was light and easy actually and even though it didn’t keep me on my tenterhooks, and probably lacked a bit in the execution, I was engrossed and involved in the story and it kept me curious and intrigued throughout the journey. However, one thing I could determine very quickly, was the character that I simply despised, not knowing their motives but sensing falsehood and bed intentions.

I love when there are short, really dynamic chapters in the books, and it was the case here – it made the reading much quicker and it was hard to put it down. The writing is so engaging, it simply draws you in, so clear and concise. And I didn’t guess the end – again. I suspected the “who” but didn’t know how and why, so that’s for sure a huge bonus point for the book.

 

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The Witches of St. Petersburg by Imogen Edward – Jones (Blog Tour)

The Witches of St. Petersburg by Imogen Edwards – Jones

 

 

42188918Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publishing Date: 25th October 2018

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

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 04.04.2019)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Inspired by real characters, this transporting historical fiction debut spins the fascinating story of two princesses in the Romanov court who practiced black magic, befriended the Tsarina, and invited Rasputin into their lives—forever changing the course of Russian history.

As daughters of the impoverished King of Montenegro, Militza and Stana must fulfill their duty to their father and leave their beloved home for St. Petersburg to be married into senior positions in the Romanov court. For their new alliances to the Russian nobility will help secure the future of the sisters’ native country. Immediately, Militza and Stana feel like outcasts as the aristocracy shuns them for their provincial ways and for dabbling in the occult. Undeterred, the sisters become resolved to make their mark by falling in with the lonely, depressed Tsarina Alexandra, who—as an Anglo-German—is also an outsider and is not fully accepted by members of the court. After numerous failed attempts to precipitate the birth of a son and heir, the Tsarina is desperate and decides to place her faith in the sisters’ expertise with black magic.

Promising the Tsarina that they will be able to secure an heir for the Russian dynasty, Militza and Stana hold séances and experiment with rituals and spells. Gurus, clairvoyants, holy fools, and charlatans all try their luck. The closer they become to the Tsarina and the royal family, the more their status—and power—is elevated. But when the sisters invoke a spiritual shaman, who goes by the name of Rasputin, the die is cast. For they have not only irrevocably sealed their own fates—but also that of Russia itself.

Brimming with black magic, sex and intrigue, The Witches of St. Petersburg is an exquisite historical fiction debut novel filled with lush historical details from the Romanov era.

My Review

“The Witches of St. Petersburg” introduces us to two sisters, princesses from Montenegro, married well into Russian aristocracy. However, no matter how much Militza and Stana try, they’re not being accepted by the court. They need the influence though – their father counts on Russian help, so the sisters ingrate themselves with the Tsar and Tsarina, bringing a holy man to help them conceive the son, the so – much – needed – to –  boost – morale Heir to the throne. When it doesn’t work, they try magic and another holy man in the person of Rasputin – but are they going to loose all their influence with his arrival?

Even though my knowledge of Russian history is rather non – existent, there are some periods of times that pick my attention, and the Romanovs’ story is one of them. This book has for sure delivered in matters of the descriptions of the Russian aristocracy, their lives and all the ins and outs of the court life. There were balls and parties, jewellery, incredible dresses, tons of gossip and conspiring and I enjoyed those parts of this story very much. Yes, there came a moment that there was a ball one too many, that they started too feel like a copy of each other but I still think that they were the most colourful and best parts of this novel.

There are many characters in this book. Hundreds of them, actually. Brownie points go to the author for the names – list at the beginning of the novel, although my copy being on kindle I couldn’t just turn back the pages to see who is this character and what’s their background, and I had really huge problems to keep on track with all of them, especially as their names either sounded all the same or changed all the time. Still, the characters were ones of a kind. There came a moment that I stopped to try to understand them – they had their own motives and motivations and of course we have to take into consideration the times the story took place – people needed something all time, there were political businesses to be done and they were not afraid to stop at nothing. They were selfish and looking after their own business only – though is it different nowadays? But it was also fascinating to see how the two “Black Princesses” worked their way into the Palace, how irreplaceable they became to the Tsarina – a thing that so many have tried and failed at before them.  They were incredibly interesting and different to all the characters that I usually read about. Especially Militza and her abilities, I was fascinated with her ability to see things other people didn’t notice, and of course with her magic skills. I think you could easily say that she was a powerful witch, but I also had a feeling that she was not a “complete” witch – she wasn’t able to do magic, just like that, she could use her skills only in particular aspects of life – or so, at least, it looked like for me.

I’m really in two minds about this book. It could be a great read but I had a feeling its potential hasn’t been used there. It felt chopped and not too coherent,  and the jumping between things and events and time seemed as if it wasn’t planned. Some of the scenes were really too much for me – the half – developed chick, keeping of the miscarried fetus or simply the idea of the Tsarina dropping to her knees to eat someone’s vomit… I’m not too soft nor sensible but well, no. Just no. On the other hand, I do understand that the story needed it. And to be honest, the pace felt too slow. It is a large book, with almost 500 pages and it simply started to feel repetitive – the sisters try to help the Tsarina all over again, they attend one ball after another and they’re not accepted and are being called they’re witches smelling of goats we get this on repeat. There was so much potential in this book, and some really interesting concepts but the development was what was being missed for me. It was as if the author had some great ideas but didn’t know how to execute them.

“The Witches of St. Petersburg” is a book that plays with supernatural, with dark magic, with paganism. In a brilliant way it describes the shallowness of the Russian aristocracy, it deals with using and being used. The characters are full of charisma and even though you may not understand all of them, I think you’re still going to appreciate them for their personalities. It was vivid, engaging and gave a great insight into Russian history – in retrospect you can’t help but understand the fact of the revolution, with Tsar under cocaine influence and his wife, not being able to think for herself without asking Rasputin for an advice. A captivating and different read about power, about favours, mixing reality with supernatural.

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Because Mummy Said So by Shari Low / Blog Tour + Guest Post

Because Mummy Said So by Shari Low

 

35820113Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publishing Date: 25th January 2018

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Parenting & Families, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 07.02.2019)

 

Synopsis:

The era of the yummy mummy has finally gone and in order to celebrate this, Shari Low has taken a baby wipe to the glossy veneer of the school of perfect parenting and written Because I Said So to show us the truth about motherhood in all of its sleep-deprived, frazzled glory. This is a book that every experienced, new or soon-to-be parent will relate to – well, hallelujah and praise be those who worship at the temple of Febreze.

For over a decade, Shari wrote a hugely popular weekly newspaper column documenting the ups, downs and bio-hazardous laundry baskets of family life. Because I Said So is a collection of her favourite stories of parenting, featuring superheroes in pull up pants, embarrassing mistakes, disastrous summer holidays, childhood milestones, tear-jerking nativity plays, eight bouts of chickenpox and many, many discussions that were finished with the ultimate parental sticky situation get-out clause… Because I Said So.

My Review

“Because Mummy Said So” is close to life, painfully realistic and hilarious read. It is a compilation of short essays the author has written for her column and they tell us about life with two young boys, about being family – in a very realistic and brutally honest way. Oh yes, Shari Low really tells how it is – that life with young children can be very, very embarrassing but she also shows the soft side of such life, of being a part of family and how richer and fuller your life becomes when the children arrive. 

I am also a mum and I’ve also experienced many, many embarrassing moments with my daughter so I could really relate to those essays.However, I don’t know if it’s because Shari Low is a writer that she can simply better notice such situations or her boys are much more accident prone than my daughter because I can’t remember SO many embarrassing situations in my life.   

I could really relate to this book and often identify with it. Some of the stories were funny however some were a bit hit or miss for me, and some felt a bit too overdone but altogether it was a nutshell manual of how it is to be a parent nowadays. The writing style is light and engaging and funny. I would recommend it if you’re a parent and in need of a good laugh and to see that you’re not alone. Refreshing and eye – opening, showing that the era of perfect mothers is truly and really over – hallelujah!

GUEST POST:

I don’t think we’ve ever lived in more judgemental times. With social media, reality TV and glossy advertising campaigns, it seems like we’re constantly surrounded by examples of impossibly fabulous lives.

Not that having a skewed idea of perfection is a new concept.

Growing up, I always thought being a writer would be an impossibly glamorous life. I wanted to have the excitement of a Jackie Collins heroine, wear leopard print on a daily basis, and live a scandalous existence being wooed by heartthrobs who hung on my every word.

And did I mention I’d have twelve nannies for my perfectly behaved children, who would think I was the best mother ever?

Sorry. I’ve always been both shallow and deluded. It’s a personality flaw.

Of course, the reality bore no resemblance to those adolescent fantasies. I didn’t start writing until I was thirty, when – by some miracle – I managed to get a book deal and found out I was pregnant on the same day.

Ah the thrill! Followed by the wonderful but daunting reality check of real-life motherhood. Two babies in two years later, ‘excitement’ was getting through a whole day without at least one child being sick on me. The only ‘scandalous’ activity was smuggling them into a fast food restaurant for some chicken nuggets and pretending I’d fed them organic rice cakes. My dealings with leopard print involved a costume for the school show, hastily constructed with six hours notice, and David Attenborough wouldn’t have been impressed with the results. Those nannies and the perfectly behaved children? They never materialised. Instead I got two hilarious wee boys, and the husband and I muddled through, careering from one parenting mishap to another. Oh, and absolutely no-one hung on my every word. In fact, by the tenth time I’d asked them to brush their teeth in the mornings, I began to wonder if I was invisible.

However, I loved every minute of it. Even the ones that came with sleep depravation and a toxic laundry basket.

Along the way, I wrote more than twenty novels and a weekly column about the perils of parenting.

You see, I’m not afraid to admit it. My name is Shari Low and I’m an imperfect parent.

My weekly tales were a fight back against that illusion of perfect motherhood, a giggle for those in the same boat, and a rude gesture in the direction of those who judge us mums for making mistakes.

Now, my very favourite episodes are all together in Because Mummy Said So, a collection of memories spanning pregnancy to the day my eldest left home last year. Sniff. Every hilarious disaster, crisis, and mortifying moment is in there.

It’s a pick me up for the exhausted new parent, a giggle for mums who are navigating the minefield of the school years and a bit of nostalgia for the empty nesters.

And most of all, it’s a funny, real life distraction from all those impossible, manufactured images of perfection.

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The Psychology of Time Trave by Kate Mascarenhas (Blog Tour)

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

 

 

38330784Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publishing Date: 9th August 2018

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Sci – Fi & Fantasy

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 07.03.2019)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A time travel murder mystery from a brilliantly original new voice. Perfect for readers of Naomi Alderman’s The Power and Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

1967
Four female scientists invent a time travel machine. They are on the cusp of fame: the pioneers who opened the world to new possibilities. But then one of them suffers a breakdown and puts the whole project in peril…

2017
Ruby knows her beloved Granny Bee was a pioneer, but they never talk about the past. Though time travel is now big business, Bee has never been part of it. Then they receive a message from the future – a newspaper clipping reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady…

2018
When Odette discovered the body she went into shock. Blood everywhere, bullet wounds, that strong reek of sulphur. But when the inquest fails to find any answers, she is frustrated. Who is this dead woman that haunts her dreams? And why is everyone determined to cover up her murder?

Rating: four-stars

In 1967, time travelling was invented by four female scientists – Barbara, Margaret, Estelle and Grace. Just before they were to introduce their invention to the world, Barbara suffers a nervous breakdown on live TV and is ejected from the project by Margaret. Soon after “the Conclave” is created by the remaining three pioneers, monopolised, with its own laws and different rules applied organisation to control time travelling and all the things it involves.
In 2017 Barbara and her granddaughter Ruby find an origami rabbit on their doorstep – a body of a woman will be found. Who is this woman? How far is she linked to the Conclave?
In 2018, a young student Odette stumbles upon a body in a toy museum. It affects her much more than she’s supposed it’s going to and so she decides to investigate – who was this woman, why was she murdered and how. All the threads lead to the Conclave – she joins it and becomes a time traveller, hoping to discover more about the death. She doesn’t know that she’s going to discover much more…

I was immediately hooked and immersed in the lives of those four strong women. They were all exceptional characters, innovative and strong, not afraid to take the initiative. Actually, all the women in this book were like this. They were intelligent and independent, not relying on men, and it was refreshing to read a book like this, where they achieved what they wanted on themselves. However, as much as I appreciated them, and no matter how well they were written, I couldn’t completely connect with them. I think it’s because of the number of the characters in this book, there were simply too many of them, and every few chapters we were introduced to a new one – in the present or in the future, and it was just doing my head. Nevertheless, I followed their stories with abated breath and actually enjoyed the diversity. Also, because of this time jumping we don’t have enough time to spend with the main characters at one period of time, to get to know them, to see what makes them tick, what did they feel, what did they think.

It takes time to get into this book, guys. The introduction is a very, very long one but to be honest it couldn’t be different. We need this time to really fully get into the heart of this story, to understand it. For me personally it really took of somewhere around the middle, when Odette applied for the job – the chapters turned into very short and the perspective changed almost on every page but it was easy to keep on track and to follow what’s going on. One thing took me a little by surprise, to be honest. I’m not a sci – fi chick, Dr. Who is absolutely not my scenery but from what I’ve seen and read about time travel there is one thing that is a no – go for this genre, and it is seeing your other – not sure how to call it – versions. I mean, you travel in time, and you see your other selves, moreover, you maintain relations with them, you tell them your future – I don’t think that it would work, do you? How confusing would that be, how dangerous. And, frankly, I didn’t get the idea of the silver and green version, I don’t know which one was supposed to be the real one.

The story follows many different threads and also it all the time jumps back and forth in time and changes points of view. However, guys, it doesn’t feel confusing. every chapter is preceded with the date and the name of the character so it was easy to follow, even with some of the characters just popping out of the blue. The plot is one of the most complex ones that I’ve come across in books and I really appreciated that, and the way it was kept clear. It also focuses on such issues like mental health, OCD and anxiety so you can see that, next to the main plot of time travelling, it’s really busy, and you expect it to flow. This element of mystery worked also really well. OK, it was actually the thing that made me feel confused, I think, it took me some time to completely understand when it happened and how it happened, but I liked it – if it were too straightforward the book would lost the tension and this element of mystery. The writing style was beautiful, very elegant and eloquent and the descriptions very detailed and vivid – they had to be, I think, to give us a chance to completely understand everything. However, what it doesn’t explain is how the time paradoxes worked, and I still can’t get over the seeing your other selves thing. Sorry. I’m repeating myself, I know, but it’s just bugging me.

I was intrigued by the premise of this book alone, but I haven’t expected that it’s going to be so good. I loved the way Ms Mascarenhas explored time travelling and what it could do to people involved in it, how people’s lives took a different shape, how it affected them and their mental health. Of course time travelling that allows to meet your other selves includes death and they are able to visit those who have died whenever they like (the dead are not surprised by those visit! See? Again, this time paradox), so it also deals with death, and maybe not taking people for granted. Altogether “The Psychology of Time Travel” is an excellent debut, mixing a variety of genres. It’s partly science – fiction, partly mystery, partly thriller and it may sound complicated and unusual but it works perfectly. It was complex and challenging, highly unique and not as sci – fi as I was afraid it’s going to be. Maybe one of the advantages is the fact that the four pioneers simply invited the time travelling machine, that there wasn’t any whys and whats, it just happened, period. It was also about love and relationships – between friends, between mothers and daughters, exploring many of them in different ways and showing various variations of them. Highly recommended!

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Last of the Summer Moët by Wendy Holden

Last of the Summer Moët by Wendy Holden

 

 

51q8w2bwg1elPublisher: Head of Zeus

Publishing Date: 1st February 2018

Series: Laura Lake Novel #2

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction, Humour

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover (out on 08.03.2018)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Top reporter Laura Lake has struck journalistic gold.

She’s discovered a super-exclusive English village where the rich and famous own weekend retreats. Where film stars, Turner-prize winners and Cabinet ministers park their helicopters outside the gastropub and buy £100 sourdough loaves from the deli.

Outsiders are strictly forbidden. But luckily Laura’s best friend Lulu, a logo-obsessed socialite with a heart as huge as her sunglasses, suddenly fancies a quiet life in the country. The door to this enchanted rural idyll opens for Laura. Revealing a great professional opportunity.

Can Laura write an exposé before the snobbish villagers suss her true identity? And before the world’s poshest pub quiz triggers a political scandal not seen since Profumo?

Rating: three-stars

To be totally honest, I was afraid if this book, “Last of the Summer Moët” is going to be something for me – I tried to read the first novel in the series and I gave up but this time I just wanted to read it with an open mind and let the author to take me on one of the most farcical journeys ever. I think it’s not a read for everybody – it’s so crazy and so ridiculous, you could say too crazy and too ridiculous, and it’s probably not going to hit all funny bones. It wasn’t my kind of read but I liked it – maybe because I already knew what I can expect from Laura, so it didn’t take me by such a great surprise. Yes, I skipped some passages, and there were moments that it was just too much of everything for me, but I finished the story and I also smiled when reading it. Even though it is a second book in the series, you can positively read it as a stand – alone.

So Laura Lake is back. Laura, the deputy editor of the glossy magazine, Society. She keeps hearing about a very secret village Great Hording, populated by the Britain’s best – top managers, bank chefs, actors, writers, government ministers… Could be a big story for Laura, right? So with the help of her best friend Lulu she infiltrates the village and discovers many secrets and events that should never see the light of day. In the meantime, an old enemy appears at work again, ex – boyfriend playing the new James Bond resurfaces again and the present boyfriend comes and goes as he wants.

To absolutely, totally enjoy it, the fact that it was too far – fetched and there were many characters whose actions were not relatable at all stood in the way. Some of the features for the “Society” magazine were not only verging onto the bizarre, they were bizarre. And I understand that it is fiction but the plot has to at least have some threads that seem real and relatable. However, even with the plot being so overdone, with the characters trying to outdo each other in every aspect of life, with a top – secret village that doesn’t appear on any map, the author handles everything mostly really well. All the different strands of plot and storyline at the first sight seemed to have nothing in common, however in the end they come together and all this far – fetched on many levels aside, there comes a moment that you take it all as a normal thing – you just get used to all this ridiculousness and hilarity and overdoing, and to your surprise the story makes sense.

Laura is probably the most sane element of this story and I liked her humour and her resilience. The thing that didn’t work so much for me was her in and out relationship with Harry who kept disappearing, and I must admit that it was more irritating than intriguing.

There were tons of very eclectic characters in this story, especially in out top secret village Great Hording, and I didn’t even try to keep track of them, to be honest, and I don’t think it was necessary. Probably because of the great number of them, they just felt a little under – developed. Some of the descriptions were too over – done and I just had a feeling that the author has tried too much.

Altogether, it was a light and entertaining read, albeit not totally right up to my alley when it comes to the sense of humour and sometimes absurd plot. Nevertheless it can hit your funny bone and I’d really recommend to you to read this book – it’s different, it’s unusual and sometimes this is all what we need.

Last of the Summer Moët by Wendy Holden / #BlogTour + Extract

Hi guys, here I am again, with another blog tour this week (yes. I love blog tours!) This time it’s my stop on Wendy Holden’s tour for her new release “Last of the Summer Moët”, a second book in the Laura Lake’s series, and today I have an extract from the book for you – review to come very soon!

EXTRACT

‘What did you think? she asked Harry. He had seemed rather annoyingly

unmoved by the fact she had once gone out with James Bond.

‘I liked that bit when he got clubbed and shoved in the vat of

baked beans,’ Harry replied.

‘Shame he came round before he got to the canning machine.’ Laura smiled. Perhaps Harry was jealous after all. The baked beans episode had reminded her of the horrible flat where Caspar had lived at his lowest ebb. The loo had lacked a seat and the only utensil had been an unwashed spatula that the four or five residents  – all male  – shared to eat beans straight out of the tin.

‘Do you think that sort of thing really happens?’ she asked.

‘What  – a protocol that could destroy the world with poison gas from contaminated baked beans?’Harry gave an incredulous snort.

‘Well, all of it. The spy thing.’ Harry grinned.

‘If you’re asking me whether James Bond is an accurate reflection of the security services…’

‘Which I could be,’ Laura returned. Harry was always infuriatingly elusive about what he knew of MIs 5 and 6. But he had to know something. All Harry’s exposés involved international miscreants, and it seemed unlikely he investigated them without official help. Their first date had been at the Not Dead Yet Club, a place awash with foreign correspondents and diplomats. That Harry was a spy himself did not seem out of the question. Perhaps he, not Caspar, was the real James Bond.

‘…the answer is…’Harry went on.

‘Yes?’

‘That I really wouldn’t know. Shall we get a chicken katsu curry?

’They were passing an Itsu. Laura, who had been brought up on a diet of French classics by her Parisian grandmother, shuddered. She found Harry’s lack of interest in food both baffling and appalling. His idea of Sunday lunch was a bag of steak ridge-cut chips followed by a packet of Skittles. Inside the takeaway, Laura tried not to wince as she watched the server ladle the curry gloop over what had been a perfectly respectable chicken escalope.

‘I don’t know how you can eat that stuff,’she said as they walked out, Harry’s dinner in a plastic bag.

‘Boarding school,’he replied easily.

‘The food was horrendous. Dead Man’s Leg and Nun’s Toenails.’

‘Oh God, yes. We had this thing called Skeleton Stew…’

Only after offering up her own memories of school food did Laura realise he had steered her off the subject of spies completely, and they were now turning into her street. Laura lived in Cod’s Head Row, Shoreditch. It was an area of London once synonymous with grinding poverty but now synonymous with grinding affluence. Quite literally, given the preponderance of artisan coffee roasters.

 

About the book:

Last of the Summer Moët by Wendy Holden
Published: February 1st 2018 by Head of Zeus
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Blurb: 

Top reporter Laura Lake has struck journalistic gold.

She’s discovered a super-exclusive English village where the rich and famous own weekend retreats. Where film stars, Turner-prize winners and Cabinet ministers park their helicopters outside the gastropub and buy £100 sourdough loaves from the deli.

Outsiders are strictly forbidden. But luckily Laura’s best friend Lulu, a logo-obsessed socialite with a heart as huge as her sunglasses, suddenly fancies a quiet life in the country. The door to this enchanted rural idyll opens for Laura. Revealing a great professional opportunity.

Can Laura write an exposé before the snobbish villagers suss her true identity? And before the world’s poshest pub quiz triggers a political scandal not seen since Profumo?

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

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