This Beautiful Life by Katie Marsh / #BlogTour

Hi guys! I am incredibly thrilled to be a part of Katie Marsh’s blog tour today – since reading her debut novel “My Everything” I fell in love with her novels, the way she gently and sensibly tells characters’ stories and making them feel so realistic and genuine. And the new release “This Beautiful Life” is not different, it tugs at your heart – strings, it’s moving and it’s just beautiful, and really, if you haven’t read Katie Marsh’s books yet, drop everything and run to the next bookshop, you will love them – you have my word!

This Beautiful Life by Katie Marsh

 

32883111Publisher: Hodder

Publishing Date: 27th July 2017

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

Number of pages: 384

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

The addictive and emotive new novel from Katie Marsh, perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Jodi Picoult.

‘I lived over half my life before I met you both, and I hope with all my heart to live many years more. You two are the reason why. Always, always the reason why.’

Abi Cooper is living her happy ending. She’s in remission and is ready to make the most of her second chance. But during Abi’s illness her family has fallen apart. Her husband John has made decisions that are about to come back to haunt him, while her teenage son Seb is battling with a secret of his own.

Set to the songs on Abi’s survival playlist, This Beautiful Life is the moving and uplifting story of what happens as Abi tries to put her family back together – and of why life, and love, are worth fighting for.

Rating: five-stars

“This Beautiful Life” by Katie Marsh is not a book with many twists and turns in the story but I think this is the strength of this book – just showing normal, everyday life, with all its ups and downs, crises and little moments of joy. Writing about normal life, in incredibly gentle, subtle and sympathetic way is becoming Katie Marsh’s hallmark, and even though I know that her books are going to make me cry crocodile tears, I incredibly eagerly read them because they also lift me up and give me hope, and I simply love it.

This story shows Abi’s cancer recovery, but not focusing on her medical condition per se, but dealing with her everyday life. I loved the idea of telling the story partly through music and Abi’s favourite songs that helped her when she was recovering. If I were to tell you a song that helps me, it would be – please, don’t laugh – “Get Back Up Again” sung by Poppy in “The Trolls”. Just listen the lyrics – there is really nothing that works better for me than this song. But back to the story. Abi has explained why those songs are so special and particular to her, and you know what, those personal letters made me love this woman even more, and I had a feeling that I know her through and through.

But the book deals not only with Abi and her problems, it also focuses on her family, and especially the tale of Seb, Abi’s son, was heart – breaking. He had not only to face the challenges of his mum’s illness but he had demons of his own and you could feel through the pages how torn he was, and the way the author showed how he tried to fight all the insecurities by attacking everything and everyone was incredibly realistic and genuine.

The author has truly done a great job with getting into the characters’ heads. It was so easy to understand how Ali and Seb have been feeling, to understand their perspectives. It is also incredible how well she captured all the changes that have happened throughout the year Abi was ill, and while her being in remission should be a happy moment, the reality bites, and many things have changed, financial problems appeared, relationships changed as well, and also when you thought nothing worse can happen, the story took a turn or two and made you wonder if this rollercoaster journey is going to have a happy end. The characters have flaws but isn’t this what make them more believable? And Katie Marsh excels in creating such characters, those that doesn’t always make the right decisions, those that keep secrets from each other, that lie and even though they don’t want to hurt each other, they do it. They are raw and they are totally believable.

“This Beautiful Life” is a sensitive, realistic, uplifting read, written with a heart on the author’s sleeve, with a soul. Katie Marsh writes in such a convincing way and you have a feeling that she has been there, has seen this.
I am already looking towards her next book, because whatever she decides to write about, it’s perfect. “This Beautiful Life” is a beautiful, soaring story about love, survival, forgiveness and understanding. It was unusual in showing this side of cancer, as normally the characters go through the illness together with us, but I really appreciate this fact and it is great that this book shows this side of cancer for once. It is a memorable book, with unforgettable characters, and while it touches on hard and difficult subjects, it also has uplifting and promising moments. Highly, highly recommended!

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

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He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

 

32939533Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 20th April  2017

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

Number of pages: 416

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 11.01.2018)

 

Synopsis:

Who do you believe?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.

She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something – and someone – is always in the dark…

Rating: five-stars

Erin Kelly is a new author to me but as soon as I spotted “He Said/She Said” I just knew that I have to read this book, no matter what. Every once in a while there comes a novel that you only need to look at and to immediately feel that this is for sure going to be THE read that you’re looking for. However, guys, when I started reading this gorgeous review copy, I quickly turned into a nervous wreck, as I completely couldn’t get into it. The descriptions of the eclipse, universe, moon etc were lovely but I thought, what the hell? Is this the story? Am I going to hate the book that I was sure I am going to love? The beginning was a real test for me, guys, but luckily it didn’t take long and I was completely immersed in the plot. Completely.

“He Said/She Said” was a dark and unpredictable psychological suspense of the highest niveau. There are not many twists in this story, however when they come, be prepared to gasp loud, as they appear so out of the blue and hit you hard direct in your face. Also, the author has written her characters like a real genius – I have no idea how many times I’ve changed my mind about them. I really didn’t know if I can trust them, who has lied and who is hiding something, and I loved this feeling, guys. It is brilliant to once in a while get a book in your hands that makes you question everything, a story where nothing is as you think, as it appears.

This story focuses on four characters, their lives, secrets and lies, exploring their relationships and interactions. Told from Laura and Kit’s points of view, it also mixes two time – lines, in present and 15 years before when everything started and when the situation started to spiral out of control. It was not too easy at the beginning, what with the stories about the eclipse (though the eclipse is very significant, so please bare with those passages. Just like eclipse has different phases, this story has them as well), the changing point of view and the jumping times but then it started to fall into a place, each piece was finding its place in the puzzle and there came a moment that I just couldn’t put this book down. It sucked me in and I was interested only in finding out who and why and how it’s going to end. I’d say the first part of this story was a little long – winded and dragged a tad, but then, really guys, then nothing can stop it.

It’s a multi – layered story and there is much more to it than meets the eye at the beginning. You may think you have it nailed but nothing there is as straightforward as you can think. It is incredibly clever, with brilliantly developed characters – there is depth to them and complexity. They are full of flaws but it only make them more believable. They try to make amends, which doesn’t always work out. And it is written in a beautiful way, some of the passages are almost poetic and you just want to swallow up every single word. It is harsh, it is genuine, all the emotions are just like they are in real life. It is a book that will keep you guessing and doubting yourself, taking you on a journey full of surprises. It is truly one of the best and captivating books I’ve read this year. Highly recommended!

 

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

 

33015034Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 9th March 2017

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

Number of pages: 288

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 21.09.2017)

 

Synopsis:

A gripping, provocative thriller about the twisted secrets families keep, perfect for fans of The Girls. Beautiful. Rich. Mysterious. Everyone wants to be a Roanoke girl. But you won’t when you know the truth. Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin at the Roanoke family’s rural estate following the suicide of her mother. Over one long, hot summer, Lane experiences the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But what she doesn’t know is being a Roanoke girl carries a terrible legacy: either the girls run, or they die. For there is darkness at the heart of Roanoke, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull, she must make her choice…

Rating: 4/5

Ah, guys. Don’t be misled by the lovely cover of this book. This novel is not as rosy as it may suggest! I’ve read this story in one day. It was impossible for me to put it down for a moment. It was disturbing, dysfunctional, controversial and thought – provoking, full of dark secrets that go back in generations.

Lane Roanoke’s mother has committed suicide but Lane can consider herself lucky – the family that she’s never seen before, grandparents and her cousin Allegra, want her to come to the very rural Osage Flats in Kansas. Her mother never really talked about Lane’s grandparents so Lane doesn’t really know what to expect – the only thing she knows is that her mother ran away from her home years before – just like many other Roanoke girls before her. They ran away, or they die…
The story really takes place over one summer, when Lane arrives to the Roanoke family, with many retrospections to the past, and thanks to them we start to understand what’s really happening in this family. After learning what really happens there, Lane decided to leave and wants to take Allegra with her but she blankly refuses, even though she knows she’s living a nightmare in a toxic environment. Lane vows never to come back to Kansas but eleven years later she receives a phone call from her grandfather that Allegra is missing.

This story, mostly written from Lane’s point of view, also allows us to get to know the 17200887_10206437408214166_7754175943052932566_nperspectives of all the other Roanoke girls as well. It seamlessly flows between “now” and “then”. It made me feel hate and feel upset – as it deals with things that I found uncomfortable – but at the same time I couldn’t stop reading it, and I am also thinking that the author has handled the issues she wrote about in a really skilful way, without adding drama or trying to make them even worse. The author deals with the secret and us knowing about it, about those difficult themes, in the best possible way, with a lot of gentleness and subtlety.

All the Roanoke girls are exceptionally beautiful, without exception. But they all keep shocking secrets. The big secret, that I relatively quickly guessed, was also revealed early on. I think it couldn’t be different with the secret, it must have been revealed so early on because without doing so the story wouldn’t make sense probably. This way, we weren’t asking WHAT or WHO but WHY. The author also had time to concentrate on the whole family, on explaining the relationships and bonds.

The characters in this story were full of flaws, and I mean full! It wasn’t easy to like them, to be honest, but I also think that they didn’t expect us to like them. I was irritated by the way Allegra and Lane were as teenagers but well, that’s the way teenagers are, right – behaving as if they know everything and experienced everything when in fact they don’t know anything, showboating, patronizing… The adult Lane was also not my favourite person, but now I am thinking that perhaps the way she was behaving was her protective shell? However, the characters, with all their flaws, dark secrets, habits were realistic and genuine and it was like a real breath of fresh air. They didn’t pretend to be somebody else, they were as they were, they were themselves and I appreciated them for this very much.

My biggest problem was that I couldn’t understand what kept the girls from telling the truth. There were no signals of them being brainstormed or something like this, it looked as if they’ve chosen this life and they themselves didn’t want to change it. It was not like this that they were loved and cherished only at home, as we could see they all were easily finding boyfriends or admirers – so why? Why too choose suicide? They did know that what’s happening at home is sick, and I guess this is what bothered me too much when reading this story – but probably they just couldn’t do it differently, as actually them being so strongly rooted at the Roanoke House was the most important information.

“The Roanoke Girls” is a very exceptional novel about appearances and that it often happens that evil things are hidden under the facade of money and being a “good” family with traditions. It was bitter and brutally honest, telling things how they are but sparing us the worst moments – I appreciated this fact. It was sharp and very well observed. And I’ll be honest with you – I didn’t guess the last twist. I didn’t. It didn’t cross my mind. This novel pulls you in, keeps you at its grips, dunk you into the Roanokes’ world completely. Full of dark secrets, disturbing and unforgettable, I will definitely be keeping my eyes out for more from Amy Engel, because this novel has shaken my world. Truly recommended!

This is Now by Ciara Geraghty

This is Now by Ciara Geraghty

 

33233794Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 9th February 2016

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: General Fiction (Adults)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

An ordinary day. An ordinary bank. An ordinary street in an ordinary town. Nothing ever happens, until, one day, a shocking robbery turns life upside down for five people:

Cillian, a police detective,
Martha, the woman he thought was the life of his life,
Tobias, who came to Ireland after WWII and now lies in a coma, shot in the bank robbery,
Roman, the young Polish teenager who is suspected of pulling the trigger
and his mother Rosa, the cleaner, who dreamed of a better life for herself and her son . . .

. . . and things will never be ordinary again.

Ciara Geraghty’s writing has that rare ability to make you laugh out loud as well as cry. She combines tangled human relationships with humour, romance and warmth to create something truly special.

Rating: 3/5

Since reading Ciara Geraghty’s last novel “Now That I’ve Found You” I was waiting impatiently for her new release – yes, as you probably guessed I totally adored this book and wanted more, more, more from this author. The excitement was on a very high level when my review copy of “This is Now” finally arrived at my doorsteps, with its gorgeous sparkly cover and very promising synopsis. It is a deeply moving story with believable characters. The author really knows how to write a captivating, thought – provoking story and she has this great talent to make you chuckle and in the next moment to bring you to tears. She’s not afraid to test her characters and to make them full of flaws, but she can also capture them in a way that have you rooting for them, wanting all to go well for them. What I also liked is the fact that you can’t say that this story is predictable – it could go in many ways and it really at the end that you see how the characters’ lives turned out and what happened to them.

But it was not like this that I didn’t have issues with this book, guys. It took me much longer to get into this story as expected and it was probably because… well, yes, I like when the characters have something in common, when their stories intertwine – and this novel was telling stories of some very different characters, who – on the surface – really didn’t have anything in common, it was just a coincidence that they were at the same time at the same place. Also, the stories were mostly sad, difficult and I also couldn’t get used to the way they were told. The chapters were set in present but each of them also told us stories from the past, introducing us to the characters’ previous lives, their stories, their background, and generally I wasn’t sure what this book wants to be about – because it was like having four different books in one.

The characters are maybe not the most likeable ones (at least not all of them) but they are realistic and they are this kind of characters that you, as a reader, quickly fall for. We have Martha, a freelance journalist insisting on having an “unhealthy relationship with alcohol” while in fact she’s an alcoholic, although over one year dry. But she still has her demons and it is an everyday battle for her and her addiction. There is also Tobias Hartmann, teaching Rosa English, as she and her son Roman are the immigrants for Poland who hoped to make a better life in Ireland and while at the beginning it looked really well for them, it then went belly up. They all find themselves at the bank when the robbery takes place. In the due course more characters are being introduced to us, among which Cillian Larkin is the most significant one – he is responsible to find out what happened at the bank, who did it and whose history we are also to get to know, as he reminds happy times with the person who has captured his heart.
The characters go through ups and downs, highs and lows, and we make this journey together with them. I can’t say I had a favourite character because they were all down – to – earth, realistic people. Yes, I can say that my heart went mostly to Rosa and Roman, and there is a very simple reason – it was great to read about immigrants from Poland, who, even though I think they were a tad too stereotyped by the author, were introduced in a good light, and it was a great joy to see that all the names of the characters and the places were spelled in a right way. Moreover, Rosa and Roman could be my neighbours, shall I still live in Poland, in Gdansk. I also liked Martha, her no – nonsense approach to life and not bothering about what other think about her and she lived her life just like she wanted to. They all were brought to life very well, I think.

However, I had a feeling there is too much said and too less done. I didn’t feel a part of this story. I think I also haven’t expected this book to be rather on the heavy side – I of course don’t mind but it took me somehow by surprise but of course I am not judging the book on my expectations. The pace in the story is relatively slow but I think we shouldn’t expect it to be quicker, as the individual stories and layers needed time to be unfolded. It is told in alternating chapters by the four main characters so we really have a lot of time to get to know them and their background.

I wanted to love this book, I truly did. In the end I can say that I liked and enjoyed this story and I for sure wanted to see how this tangled web of chances and events is going to resolve. “This is Now” is a story about dealing with the past, about dealing with a dramatic situation and its side effects. I wouldn’t say that it was the easiest read however I still enjoyed it and there is a lot of depth to it. I am in two minds about it, to be honest, because on the one hand we have the well developed characters and on the other their stories that actually don’t lead to a satisfying for me conclusion. But one thing is for sure – Ciara Geraghty can write, oh guys, how well can she write! Her writing style is captivating, inviting and she for sure can describe feelings and emotions. Also, there is so much and so great research done, every aspect of this book – no matter if it is wartime Dresden or nowadays police department – it feels realistic and genuine. She also exactly knows when and where add some humorous touches to defuse the situation and tension. So when it was not my favourite read by this author, she’s still at the top list of my favourite authors and I already looking forward to her next release.

All I Ever Wanted by Lucy Dillon

All I Ever Wanted by Lucy Dillon

 

28266462Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks

Publishing Date: 1st December 2016

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

Number of pages: 464

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Nancy is four, nearly five. She talks all the time: in the car, on the way to nursery, to her extrovert older brother, to her collection of bears. But then, one February morning, everything changes. Nancy’s mum and dad split up. Her father Patrick moves away from their Bristol home to Newcastle. And Nancy stops talking.
Eva is forty-four, nearly forty-five. She didn’t expect to be the third wife of a much-loved household name, but eight years ago, she and semi-retired bad boy Michael Quinn fell in love. Eva knew marrying a much older man meant compromises, but it was the love of a lifetime for them both – until Mickey dies suddenly, leaving Eva alone with his gossipy diaries, their two pugs, and a distressing voice in the back of her mind, wondering if perhaps she’s sacrificed more than she meant to.
While Nancy’s parents negotiate their separation, the question of weekend contact is solved when Patrick volunteers his sister Eva’s house. It’s in Longhampton, an hour out of Bristol, with plenty of room for her to get to know a niece and nephew she’s barely met – even if Nancy continues to refuse to speak. Patrick is sure it’s just a phase but his soon-to-be-ex-wife is worried that something more traumatic lies at the heart of their daughter’s selective mutism.
Meanwhile, Eva begins to read through Mickey’s diaries, and with every page she’s forced to confront a view of her marriage that turns everything she believed about her late husband, her self – and her own heart – on its head. The fortnightly presence of two children in her peaceful, grown-up home – one constantly singing and performing, the other wordless and sad – initially drives Eva and the two pugs, Bumble and Bee, to exhaustion, but as spring turns into summer, a trust slowly begins to form between an anxious little girl with a heartbreaking secret, and a woman who has realised too late that what her soul yearns for is the love of a child.

Rating: 5/5

It is unbelievable but “All I Ever Wanted” is my first Lucy Dillon’s book – but certainly not the last, as this novel has totally convinced me and it made me experience all kind of emotions. It was a beautiful, gentle story about a family that goes through a rough patch in their lives. Caitlin and Patrick’s marriage wasn’t working as well as they’d like it to and Patrick’s acceptance of a job in Newcastle was the last straw – Caitlin refuses to move there with the children, she wants to stay at the house she has inherited from her grandmother, her “safe place”. For Patrick it is a sign that Caitlin has other priorities in life and it signifies that their marriage is over.

I was thinking this story is going to follow Caitlin and Patrick’s life, but it doesn’t only focus on their family, as there is also Patrick’s older sister Eva, and her story was an unexpected bonus for me. Now, in perspective, I think the author really knew what she’s doing, taking the whole focus from Nancy and sharing it with Eva, as it truly made the story more complex, it added some layers to it and for me personally it made the book a whole big bit more interesting.

What I really liked in this story is the fact that Lucy Dillon doesn’t let us feel pity or anger with one character for a long time, she then changes tracks and our opinions change as well. I was mostly team Caitlin, as I didn’t like Patrick. He came across as a cold and work – obsessed person, and I had a feeling that his work was a kind of escape for him, and I also hated the way he patronized Caitlin and that he didn’t appreciate her, and the way he was towards her was not the most friendly one. But there came a moment that I thought I won’t hold on to Caitlin anymore. It was just like Patrick said, she behaved as if there were two different kinds of morals for her, rules that all other should keep but that weren’t valid to Caitlin, and I was really scared it’s going to destroy this book for me. I was tired with her, and annoyed, and also desperate, and I hoped that she’ll eventually stop behave in this childish way, blaming all the other people for her failures and not feeling satisfied. And then I started to feel more sympathy towards Patrick – he was so desperately trying to do the right thing but somehow, somewhere has lost his priorities and everything turned wrong for him. Caitlin was thinking only about herself and her selfish behaviour put her children in danger more than once or she’s just forgotten about them, forgotten the promises she’d given them and it just didn’t sit well with me. Those were the moments when Patrick was supposed to pick up the pieces and make everything go smoothly again. So it is like this: I never actually warm to Patrick totally but I’ve lost many warm feeling for Caitlin – I didn’t like Patrick’s bossy and patronizing ways, and I didn’t like Caitlin’s helplessness and letting everyone to take a lead. And then there is also Eva, who thought she knows her late husband so well but after reading his diaries she starts to think that perhaps she didn’t know him as well as she thought – the worst thing now is that she’s never going to get answers to her questions now.

Lucy Dillon brilliantly describes her characters, they have depth and complex personalities. I couldn’t help but fell for Nancy immediately – it was so easy to imagine her as this talkative, positive, joyful girl because my Sophie is almost the same age as Nancy, and from morning till evening she talks, sings, hums, laughs and I can’t imagine that it should suddenly stop. It was really heart – breaking to see how this little girl clams up, withdraws. Joel, aged 10, who loves acting, is just as talkative as his sister, and very prone to accident, acting as his sister saviour and always stepping in to help her.

The story flaws so effortlessly! The scenes with the children sound so realistic and they are just like real kids their age. The sub – plot of Eva and his late husband, Michael, added tons to this story, however I’d love to read much more from his diaries, and especially the parts that his two ex – wives had. There was so much more to this sub – plot, and the more it was developing, the more I could find myself rooting for Eva and falling for her. It touched upon many issues, about hiding your biggest dreams only not to hurt your beloved person, and then about living ruefully. Eva loved her husband totally but now she’s left alone only with two pugs and many, many questions and with his diaries and some things he’s written there makes her start to think and revise.

This book is a slow burner to be honest, at the beginning it made me feel a little uncertain – I wasn’t sure if it’s a book for me, as there seemed not much happening. However, as it slowly develops, I found myself falling in love with all aspects of this story, with the writing style, characters, the way it was written, and it quickly turned out that it may not be a fast paced book but it is much, much more and it has many layers that only wait to be peeled off. The author is testing her characters, filling their lives with ups and downs, with regrets but also hopes and I loved this rollercoaster journey of feelings and emotions. She explores there relationships, needs and wishes, lost hopes and desires. Dividing the book into two stories was a great idea – even though the stories were quite different they also had something in common and I liked how they were linked and how they interwoven. I liked how down – to – earth this novel was, showing how it really is in life, in relationship. The characters are not perfect, they make a lot of mistakes but they do it in a good faith and they try to be the best mother, father, aunt. They’re not honest with each other, just like it is in normal life, when we tell white lies or keep some things for us only, and it’s only in the end that they eventually open and start to be honest with each other – and it was so believable and genuine. “All I Ever Wanted” was a really engaging story about family dynamics and coming to terms after a separation. It sounded down – to – earth and I found myself most of the time rooting for the characters and hoping things will change for them for better. Highly recommended!

The Hope Family Calendar by Mike Gayle

The Hope Family Calendar

by Mike Gayle

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 16th June 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher thank you!.

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 20.10.2016)

 

 Synopsis:

Tom Hope is broken. Ever since his wife Laura died he hasn’t been the same man, and definitely not the same father. Luckily for Tom his mother-in-law Linda is around to pick up the pieces and look after his two struggling daughters, Evie and Lola.

But Tom getting arrested on the first anniversary of his wife’s death is the last straw for Linda.

In a last bid attempt to make Tom reconnect with his daughters she takes drastic action and leaves for Australia. With two fast-maturing daughters Tom has to learn how to accept his responsibilities and navigate the newly dicovered world of single fatherhood – starting immediately.

With only himself to rely on, will Tom fall back into grief or finally step up and be the father his girls need?

Rating: 5/5

 

As a huge Mike Gayle’s fan I am always over the moon when I hear that he’s going to release a new book. I’ve read all of his novels and I’ve quickly fell in love with the author’s writing style, his bittersweet but also down – to – earth and so close to life stories, and from the very first book that I’ve read I admired the author’s ability to get so well into the characters’ heads and draw them in such a way that they just get under your skin – and it was the same with „The Hope Family Calendar”. It is not a sad, depressing story, even though there are elements of sadness to it, but it shows – sometimes in an ironic and funny way – how the whole family copes with death of someone beloved. A story about pain and hurt, about a parent „finding” his children anew, about an older woman trying to move on with her life, I would go that far and say that it is Mike Gayle’s best book yet.

I think that what make me to like Mike Gayle’s books so much is the fact that he can „do” emotions and feeling so very well. The way he describes them is so realistic and he never beats around the bush, he writes as it is and his characters have often broken hearts, they suffer, they love and hate and the way he delivers this is so very honest and genuine. And it is the same in his latest release. The author brilliantly captures the feelings of all the characters, of Tom, of Linda and of Tom’s two daughters. Tom Hope’s wife dies in a car accident and he’s suddenly left with two growing daughters. His mother – in – law, Linda, moves in with him to take care of the girls but after a year she sees that she needs to take more radical actions and Tom must eventually face up to his responsibilities and not escape all the time to work, so she goes to visit her best friend in Australia for half a year. What follows is Tom’s journey with all its ups and downs in discovering fatherhood, school – runs, daughters with problems… a journey of failures but also triumphs and struggling with life as a full – time father.

„The Hope Family Calendar” has a funny and a sad side and it made me laugh and cry. It was a beautiful, very close to life story, written in a very realistic way. What I really liked was the fact that every once in a while the author, so oh very casually, dropped a line here or there that made me wonder, a hint suggesting that maybe not everything was as straightforward as I thought, but it was one line, a very quick suggestion and nothing more, though throughout the course of the book there were a few of those hints that eventually started to unfold and led to an unexpected twist at the end of the book.

The book is told from Tom and Linda’s points of view and I really liked that Mike Gayle let Linda tell her side of the story as well. It was great in fact to see how those two, Tom and Linda, thought they are doing the best and how their visions of this best varied, but it was great that they both had a chance to tell their minds. I think I understood Tom, he was grieving and flinging himself into work was his way of coping, but I also truly understood Linda who had only the girls’ weal on her mind and decided to take more radical steps, decide that it’s time for the wake – up call, until it’s not too late. I like that the story was not only white and black, that there were some shades of gray in there which made the reading really captivating and interesting and I loved seeing both sides to this story.

One of the author’s strength is the way he creates his characters. They are always believable, living and breathing people, and no matter if they are main or background characters, there is always a depth to them and they are brilliantly developed – and the same happened in „The Hope Family Calendar”. The characters here are neither flawless nor perfect, they have better and worse days, they’re not always sincere and they have some secrets but this all make them feel even more realistic.

„The Hope Family Calendar” was emotional, beautiful read, full of real feelings and emotions and I enjoyed every single moment of this book. I really think it is Mike Gayle’s best book at the moment. It’s truly so that this story is different to his previous books, it has a lot more depth to it. It concentrates on a family already, and not on girlfriends/boyfriends, new relationships and parties, and is yet so similar in tone and writing style. This book is on a very different level of storytelling and plot development which makes it really exceptional and it features some more serious elements, such as grieving, acceptance and finally coming back to life and it is as if Mike Gayle has been waiting for the right time to write such a story. Well, in my opinion he absolutely delivered and I can’t recommend this book highly enough!