The Swap by Fiona Mitchell / Blog Tour

The Swap by Fiona Mitchell

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 45180031._sy475_

Publishing Date: 19th September 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 304

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) 

Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

***The second novel from Fiona Mitchell, author of the stunning The Maid’s Room***

Two women. Two children. But whose is whose?

When two strangers, Tess and Annie, undergo IVF at an American clinic, their embryos are mixed up and each woman gives birth to the wrong child.

The women only discover the devastating error three years later. Tess wants to swap the children back; Annie doesn’t. As the pair wrangle, neither of them expect what unfolds.

my-review

 

In America, 3 years ago, Annie and Carl had IVF and became parents to a beautiful girl Willow. In the same place, at the same time, Tess and Matteo, who live in Surrey in England, underwent the same procedure and got Freddie. Freddie, however, doesn’t look like their other sons and has behavioural problems, and moreover, they opted for the gender selective IVF and were promised to have a girl. Tess has never bonded with her youngest, so when after an accident blood tests come back with the information that they couldn’t be Freddie’s biological parents, she’s not surprised. But what has happened? Whose child is Freddie? And can it be that Tess has daughter that she doesn’t know about?

I must admit it, I was waiting holding my breath to see how the story is going to end, what is going to happen. It was an unimaginable situation, I was all the time asking myself what I would do if something like this happened to me and I’ve never found an answer, this is why I was so intrigued to see which way did the author choose. The tension, the uncertainty were absolutely unbearable. That is, until one moment, a moment when something happened and one of the characters changed her mind, and I though, and? Is this it? For me, the story declined in this moment, lost it impact and yes, I felt disappointed. It’s a shame, because I was hoping for something different. I am not saying that I was expecting THE answer, because probably any answer would be the wrong one, I simply was hoping for something different after such thought – provoking, controversial story. I think i was waiting for a catastrophe to happen, for things to explode, for confrontations and decisions, and I think this is it what the story lacked.

 I was generally curious about this book. Being a mum myself I was interested in feelings and emotions of all involved – I wasn’t expecting drama, but real people with real emotions. However, it never moved above a certain level of emotions – and just imagine this whirlwind of feelings you will for sure go through after finding out that your IVF has worked only to discover three years later that you were given the wrong embryo and you’re raising – theoretically – a strange child. Right? Heart – break guaranteed. But the characters, Annie and Tess, weren’t easy to read and honestly they were a bit too emotionless about this whole situation, and it was really difficult to engage with them. They were both very different characters, Annie warm and inviting, Tess cold and unwelcoming but I couldn’t bond with any of them, not sure why.  And at one point I stopped feeling sympathy to these women. 

The writing style was lovingly adjusted to the story’s subject matter. It was delicate, subtle and never judging but clear and compassionate. The contrast and the differences between the families were sharply captured, making you think what would be better for the children. I was also all the time wondering how, actually, could it ever be possible to perhaps give up your child after bonding with them for years, because someone made a mistake? Yes, sometimes the narration felt too overdone, sometimes it was too descriptive or focusing on things that were irrelevant to me and the dialogues felt too artificial.

But it was not only a story about swapping embryos. It touched upon many other, heavy and difficult issues, such as gender selection IVF, child behaviour, grief, and altogether, it was impactful, challenging novel and the way the characters reacted, and how their reactions contrasted, added tons of dimension to it. It was intense and insightful and very well handled,  thought – provoking and not easy but different story that is going to make you think, to make your thoughts go overdrive.

 

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Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby / Blog Tour

Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby

 

515nmsferxl._sx328_bo1204203200_Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 8th August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 338

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

When a mini-break becomes make or break…

Kathy Courage has never visited the famous Italian city of Florence before, so she’s thrilled when she and her boyfriend Neil are invited there for a wedding. Unfortunately, with Neil’s constant complaining and his teenage children in tow, it’s not exactly the romantic break Kathy was hoping for.

But when a mix-up with her flights leaves Kathy stranded in the city, she decides to embrace the unexpected and stay on alone.

What follows is a life-changing few days in the Tuscan sun, as Kathy begins to question the choices that have led her here. With the help of the colourful Innocenti family, who offer Kathy a place to stay, she gradually begins to realise that there’s a much bigger world out there, if only she can be brave enough to explore it.

Could Italy hold the answers to her future happiness? Or is Kathy destined to return to her old life?

Rating:  five-stars

 

Kathy Courage has always wanted to visit Florence – her parents spent their honeymoon there, fell in love with the city and promised to take her there but it never happened, and now her father is dead so it’s too late. But is it really? Kathy and her boyfriend Neil are invited to a wedding – in Florence! Kathy is thrilled but, sadly, her plans to spent a lovely time with Neil didn’t turn out like she hoped and the whole trip is one huge disappointment. However, the mix – up with the flight home means that Kathy stays three whole days in Florence, alone! Will she find the courage to enjoy the city alone? Will an accident, that leaves her depending on the kindness of some strange Florentine family, make her look at her life differently? 

Chrissie Manby’s books brilliantly balance dry humour with poignant moments but this time I had a feeling that this novel, as much as still with those wonderful funny moments, was overall more serious in tone. It doesn’t mean that it was wrong, because the author really knows how to make her stories seamlessly flow, keeping me glued to the pages.

This story, albeit with a wonderful storyline, was – in my eyes – very character oriented, and they were brilliantly written, so easy to adore or to love to hate. I think they were written intentionally this way and you simply couldn’t help yourself but despise Neil and his family, and the more I got to know them, the more I disliked them all – a very self – centred, egoistic family and I couldn’t wait for Kathy to do something about it – because she has already noticed their true colours, it was only a matter of time – at least I hoped so! Really, they were hardly bearable and utterly unpleasant, and the Innocenti family, that almost adopted Kathy, looks in comparison even more friendly and wonderful and warm – because they were like this. 
Kathy was an immediately likeable character, even though she let others to treat her like a doormat, and usually I would roll my eyes at her and tell her, get a grip woman, but she was different. I fell under her spell and I had a feeling there is much more in her than meets the eye. She was so brilliantly fleshed out, felt like a living, breathing person, with all her fears, excitement, hope. Yes, I was asking myself all the time, why is she with Neil but I also could understand her, although the more I got to know him, and his actions that he’s done “for Kathy”, the more I wanted her to bang his head on the wall. But other than that, I found Kathy a great, interesting, gentle and real character.
The Innocenti family was absolutely fabulous, especially Manu when trying to learn Kathy speak Italian, and even the smelly little dog – they all had a place in this story and made it much more colourful with their huge personalities. What I also liked in this book was the fact that it didn’t feel like another Florence tourist guide. Sure, there were descriptions of this gorgeous city, vividly bringing it to life, but they were more of the behind – the – scenes sort of places that I truly enjoyed, showing the real life thanks to the Innocenti family.

This story is full of fun and drama, another captivating winner from Chrissie Manby. A real page – turner with a sweet, blossoming romance, with some ups and downs and it brilliantly shows Kathy’s ways to rediscover herself, to be brave to find the courage for being herself.

This book is written in such easy, comforting way,  I just couldn’t stand the thought that I must put it down for a moment, I was so caught up in the characters’ lives, their antics and their banter – it was all perfect! I have enjoyed every single page of this book and, you know this feeling, when finishing a novel makes you both happy and sad? Happy because you’ve read a great story, and sad, because it came to an end? It was this kind of book, a wonderful, moving novel with fabulous characters, the right balance of everything I was looking for in it, and gorgeous setting. Highly recommended!

 

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Half a World Away by Mike Gayle

Half a World Away by Mike Gayle

 

cover155084-mediumPublisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 13th June 2019

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 05.03.2020)

 

Synopsis:

The incredibly moving and uplifting new novel from the author of The Man I Think I Know.

Kerry Hayes knows exactly who she is: a single mum, a cleaner and Mariah Carey’s biggest fan.

Noah Martineau thinks he knows who he is: a successful barrister, with a wife, daughter and big house in Primrose Hill.

Strangers with nothing in common.
Strangers living worlds apart.

But it wasn’t always this way…and Noah and Kerry are about to discover just who they really are.

Rating: five-stars

 

Kerry is a hardworking single mother, raising her beloved son Kian. Life for her has never been easy. She was put into care as a child and changed foster families like you change your gloves, ending up in a home. Getting pregnant after few years of reckless and dangerous living made Kerry change her perspectives. She was determined to give her son the loving, stable home she has never had, even if his father is not interested in him. The only other person that Kerry has loved as much as her son was her little brother Jason, taken into care and then being adopted. Unable to find him, Kerry started to write letters to him via adoption agency. However, Jason is now Noah Martineau, adopted into a white middle class family, and he has been given any opportunity that he cleverly took the chance. He’s a barrister with his own perfect family, or at least it looks like this, and he actually never wanted to know about his previous life. So when a litter from Kerry arrives, he couldn’t be more than surprised. Will he get in touch with his sister? He has no idea that for Kerry it may be the matter of life and death.

In this character – driven novel the characterisation is absolutely perfect. It is told from Kerry and Noah’s perspectives, and they both have distinctive, strong voices. The way they tell their story makes you quickly immersed and engaged in their lives and I immediately found myself rooting for them both, sitting at the edge of my seat and biting my nails. Kerry was absolutely brilliant, down – to – earth, realistic characters, who, despite life not being a garden full of roses, didn’t lose her sparkle, her love to colours and Mariah Carey. Noah was great, clever and realistic, and there so much to him that you could think at first.
Watching their relationship develop was like an emotional rollercoaster ride, with all its ups and downs, so incredibly uplifting but also sad, as there were so many challenges thrown under their feet. It was moving, it was poignant and it simply felt SO. REAL.

It was absolutely Mike Gayle at his best – he’s back in the best form ever and “Half a World Away” only shows his real talent. It is a book that’s going to pull you in immediately from the start, a story that’s going to break your heart and give you tons of hope. It’s emotional, it’s full of feelings, heart and soul, it’s bitter – sweet, raw and honest, brilliantly written and touching family saga with a difference.
It was a beautiful, tugging at the heart – strings but also not too wishy – washy and overdone story about family dynamics, about choices, letting go and learning to hold on. The author touched upon many difficult issues but he does it with easy humour and gentleness, and this plus the great characterisation made me feel a part of this story. Mike Gayle is a great observer of a human nature and he can effortlessly and eloquently put his observations into words. Actually, guys, you should simply treat yourself and read it the book asap. Highly recommended!

 

Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly

Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly

 

42427478Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Psychological Suspense

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 19.03.2020)

 

Synopsis:

Erin Kelly, master of suspense, returns with her next thrilling standalone featuring an abandoned mental asylum and the secrets it holds.

Marianne was never supposed to return to town, the town where she grew up in the shadow of the Nazareth Mental Hospital. Her mother may be suffering from dementia nearby, but she had thought she’d left that place, and its dark secrets, behind her. That is, until her husband buys a flat in its newly renovated interior so that she can be close enough to help her mother, and Marianne can’t tell him why the place fills her with such dread, she can’t risk destroying the careful life she’s built. Erin Kelly, the master of suspense, will delight fans with her next thrilling novel of psychological suspense.

Rating: four-stars

“Stone Mother” was used as a term for an asylum. Such a mental hospital was the heart of a small town of Nusstead in Suffolk, that is, until it was closed, leaving many of the town residents unemployed. Now apartments have been built where the hospital used to be and Marianne’s husband Sam surprised her, buying one of them. Marianne is spooked and agitated but the reasons for her feelings are different to those you could think about… There is her ex – boyfriend Jesse involved, there is an old scandal and a successful but loathed politician. What do they all have to do with Marianne? And why is she so scared of living in the so – called “Park Royal Manor”?

This was a complex story told through different timelines. Rather of a slower pace, especially the first part, and to be honest I had some difficulties to get into it, which made me start to panic actually, and I think that mostly it was because there were so many detailed descriptions of the Nazareth hospital – there was more hospital than the actual story. And, well, I couldn’t connect with Marianne – no particular reason, she just felt too meh, too spineless, and Jesse made me feel desperate. However, when the story changed the narrator, it also speeded up and then there was nothing that could drag me away from the book and I was drawn into the characters’ lives.

The story is split into four parts and each part is told from a different point of view. This was not a bad idea, though it was also a bit risky – in my opinion, of course – because Marianne and her long, long story was the first one to be told. As I’ve just mentioned, I had problems with this character, with some of her decisions and I was getting frustrated and scared by the end of part one – scared that I’ll have to give up. For me, the real rollercoaster started with Helen and her story. Helen was probably the most interesting and compelling character in this book for me, she had something to tell, something to hide, the way she was was absolutely intriguing – she has saved the book for me.

Erin Kelly has brilliantly captured the atmosphere of the abandoned hospital. Creepy and dark, it gave me chills, and not only when it was abandoned, oh no, but especially when there were still patients and this setting of the mental hospital worked really well as a backdrop to the characters.
I’ve only read “He Said/She Said” by this author before and it blew my mind to be honest, so I was expecting something like this book again, and it took me by surprise as “Stone Mothers” was totally different. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad, of course. What is the same though is the brilliant writing style, so chilling, intense and intelligent, and the way Erin Kelly creates her characters and writes a character – driven drama.There were turns, twists and events that made my heart stop for a beat, guys. Not many of them but when they came, they were so well crafted, they were absolutely unexpected and unsettling.

This novel has a complex, complicated storyline and it took its time to eventually untangle all the secrets and Erin Kelly is a very skilful writer, with her beautiful prose and the way with words. “Stone Mothers” touched upon many issues, mental health being only one of them. There were lies that tied the characters together, secrets and blackmail, coming of age, poverty and revenge. It was also about women and concern about their mental health, their freedom and their choices. In the end, I’ve learnt to appreciate the long haul and the mystery was very well written, the way it evolved was complex and captivating. It was powerful and it was touching and I really enjoyed it. Recommended!

 

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

 

42900679Publisher: Sceptre

Publishing Date: 24th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 272

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 17.10.2019)

 

Synopsis:

A tale of a single night. The story of a lifetime.

If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said and done?

This is the story of Maurice Hannigan, who, over the course of a Saturday night in June, orders five different drinks at the Rainford House Hotel. With each he toasts a person vital to him: his doomed older brother, his troubled sister-in-law, his daughter of fifteen minutes, his son far off in America, and his late, lamented wife. And through these people, the ones who left him behind, he tells the story of his own life, with all its regrets and feuds, loves and triumphs.

Beautifully written, powerfully felt, When All Is Said promises to be the next great Irish novel.

Rating: five-stars

 

“When All Is Said” introduces us to Maurice Hannigan, an 84 year old farmer, paying a final visit to Rainsford House Hotel. It is a place he’s got a lot of memories attached to, mostly unpleasant ones. As he sits at the bar, he toasts five special people in his life. People, who were his inspiration, who were significant to him, who actually shaped him, made him who he is. He tells things as they were, the good and the bad moments, all the mistakes he’s made and that he can’t forget.

Guys, this book simply feels so special – it’s a real gem, this one, and it’s really hard to believe it’s a debut novel by Anne Griffin. The author can so brilliantly well capture all the emotions and beautifully writes about feelings, and it had me captivated and glued to the pages from the very beginning till the end. It was touching, it was poignant, it was funny, and written in this special way that only Irish authors can.

I’ve had a gut feeling how it’s going to end and what Maurice’s plan is right from the start to be honest but still it hit me really hard. I really liked his character, and as the story is told from his point of view at the end he just felt like an old friend of mine. I loved the moments he has chosen to reminisce about, to re – visit again, and the group of people he talked about. They were all significant and special to him, and there was so much love in his words, it was really overwhelming and poignant. Maurice isn’t shy of telling things how they were and he also realises that he has made mistakes – but those were the things that shaped him as a man, as a person.

The writing style is exceptional. It’s flowing, it’s engaging, it’s Irish, warm, uplifting and heart – breaking at once. The author has a special way with words. It was so easy to see the connection Maurice had with all his significant people, his brother Tony, his daughter Molly, his sister – in – law Noreen, his son Kevin and finally, last but not least, his beloved wife Sadie. The bond between him and his brother Tony was a special one, Tony was always there for him, he supported his younger brother and was always there to protect him. He understood that Maurice’s strength lies perhaps not in reading but somewhere else. It’s no wonder that Maurice wanted to be Tony when he grows up… Sadie is the last person he toasts but it’s clear that he fell for her head over hills and it was her death two years before that simply broken him. Sadie was the only woman in his life, he loved her unconditionally and now it breaks his heart to see that there were times that he disappointed her, that he wasn’t there for her. Her sister Noreen, without knowing it, unintentionally and because of her love to “sparkle”, also had an impact on Maurice’s life. Then there is Molly, the daughter that has never been and Kevin, longed – for son who now lives in the States, is a journalist and provides his father with rare whiskies.
Maurice realises that he should have been a much more expressive man, that he missed his chance to tell the people he loved that he loves them.

It was a gorgeous, moving book where everything felt so normal, natural and down – to – earth, and also incredibly honest and genuine. It simply feels human and all the joy and dramas are relatable. It explores the important things in life, such as love, family and friendship, but also forgiveness, heartbreak and hope. It’s emotional, but you also find yourself smiling, often through tears and really, it’s so hard to do this book justice – it’s special, it’s unique, it’s a real gem written from the heart. Highly recommended!

 

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult #WhoseChoice

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

 

 

cover144095-mediumPublisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 30th October 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

(out on 13.06.2019)

 

 

Synopsis:

The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center—a women’s reproductive health services clinic—its staff offering care to anyone who passes through its doors. Then, in late morning, a desperate and distraught gunman bursts in and opens fire, taking all inside hostage.

After rushing to the scene, Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, sets up a perimeter and begins making a plan to communicate with the gunman. As his phone vibrates with incoming text messages he glances at it and, to his horror, finds out that his fifteen-year-old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic.

But Wren is not alone. She will share the next and tensest few hours of her young life with a cast of unforgettable characters: A nurse who calms her own panic in order save the life of a wounded woman. A doctor who does his work not in spite of his faith but because of it, and who will find that faith tested as never before. A pro-life protester disguised as a patient, who now stands in the cross hairs of the same rage she herself has felt. A young woman who has come to terminate her pregnancy. And the disturbed individual himself, vowing to be heard.

Told in a daring and enthralling narrative structure that counts backward through the hours of the standoff, this is a story that traces its way back to what brought each of these very different individuals to the same place on this fateful day.

Jodi Picoult—one of the most fearless writers of our time—tackles a complicated issue in this gripping and nuanced novel. How do we balance the rights of pregnant women with the rights of the unborn they carry? What does it mean to be a good parent? A Spark of Light will inspire debate, conversation . . . and, hopefully, understanding.

Rating: five-stars

It’s a confession time. I haven’t read a Jodi Picoult book before. So there, I’ve told this. I’ve heard of this author, oh my god, of course I’ve heard about her, and I have her novels at home but I haven’t read them yet. However, when “A Spark of Light” arrived as a surprise with a post, I almost immediately started reading it – it was the right time for this book and for this author.
This being a surprise book, I didn’t know what it’s going to be about. I know that Jodi Picoult is not afraid of controversial topics, and I also know that her books are clever, thought – provoking and challenging. I hope it’s not a spoiler when I’ll say that “A Spark of Light” is about abortion. It is a very hot topic, abortion, not only in the USA but also in Europe and probably all over the world, and everybody has their own opinion – me too. And hats off to Ms Picoult for deciding on writing this novel, for touching upon this subject and for doing it in the most perfect, as neutral as possible way ever. As I’ve mentioned, I have my own feelings about abortion that I’m not going to change, no matter what, but you won’t be pushed or asked to make a choice, to be Pro – Life or Pro – Choice and it is really worth appreciation. Jodi Picoult compassionately describes the thoughts of both sides, without taking sides, this of Pro – Life or Pro – Choice, giving us the chance to understand both of them. But I also think that this is not the point of the book, to convince us to one of the sides, but to offer us multiple points, to show us that things are not only white or black but also grey. We don’t have to agree but we should respect them.

In “A Spark of Light” Jodi Picoult tells the story of a desperate gunman, barging into Mississippi’s abortion clinic and taking its patients and staff hostage. As it quickly turns out, his daughter recently had an abortion and George is seeking revenge. Told in reverse and through multiple points of view, it tells us the stories of the characters, unveiling the fact what they’re were in the clinic for.

And what didn’t work for me in this book was the fact that it was told in reverse. For me it would work much better told chronologically, as, to be completely honest, knowing what has happened caused that the tension was not there and I had a feeling that I could skip on some information/passages without losing anything. The piecing together of some aspects and subplots was too easy and it would be more impactful when told differently. But that’s me.

There were plenty of characters in this book and yes, I admit, at the beginning it was not easy to keep up with them all. But their development, the way they were described, were incredibly compelling. They were all so different, they all had different life experience but fate brought them all together. There is Dr. Louie Ward who offers abortions because no matter what he believes in, he also believes it is his duty to offer women a chance, a way out; Joy, who’s at the clinic for abortion; Wren who came to the clinic with her aunt, seeking contraception; Janice, a Pro – Lifer who’s in the clinic under disguise, looking for confirmation that what they do there is as bad as others describe; Wren’s dad, who finds himself outside, negotiating with George setting the hostages free; Beth, who’s right now facing murder charges for illegally terminating her pregnancy. They, and many, many more will stay with you for long – it is impossible to forget them and about them. As you see, many points of view but all of them worth getting to know and to consider.

It was a special, important and powerful read. Jodi Picoult doesn’t play safe – she examines, and pokes and brutally honest tells us how it really is, and she always stays professional. She’s informative and always fair and yes, sometimes controversial and thought – provoking but I guess this is the point of this book. It will provoke discussions, I am sure about it, and you just won’t be able to walking away from this book indifferently. Thank you, Jodi Picoult, for writing this book!

 

The Rest of Me by Katie Marsh

The Rest of Me by Katie Marsh

 

 

37759021Publisher: Hodder

Publishing Date: 26th July 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

‘Katie Marsh writes achingly beautiful, life-affirming stories that break your heart and refuel your hope’ – Miranda Dickinson. Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes, Lucy Dillon and Amanda Prowse.

Alex Fox knows there are lots of thing she should be. She should be the perfect wife to her chronically ill husband Sam, and the perfect mother to their two daughters. She should be excelling in her high-stress job. And she should be completing the demanding to-do lists she makes to keep herself on track.

Even if, just sometimes, she doesn’t have time to breathe.

When Sam’s condition worsens and Alex donates a kidney to save his life, her carefully scheduled existence starts to unravel. The operation leads to unexpected complications, putting a strain on Alex’s marriage and her relationship with her children – and eventually forcing her to face up to a past that she has buried for years.

As the family she has fought so hard for threatens to fall apart, can Alex finally confront her imperfections and the mistakes that have shaped her – and rediscover what is most important in life?

The Rest of Me is an emotional and uplifting story which will make you laugh, cry and hug the people you love a little bit tighter.

Rating: five-stars

 

but I needmy girls!

“The Rest of Me” is Katie Marsh’s fourth offering – I have read all of her books and from the beginning have been championing them and Katie’s writing – she delivers my favourite kind of novels, she offers much more than a simple tale, her stories are always full of emotions and feelings and they tug at your heart – strings. They also always sound so very realistic, they’re genuine and close to life, and it was the same with Katie Marsh’s newest release. I simply adored it.

In “The Rest of Me” we are introduced to Alex Fox who has just donated a kidney to her husband Sam – he would have died otherwise. Alex expected to bounce back to her life almost immediately, however it turns out that it’s her now that needs medical help. Moreover, the operation didn’t bring Alex and Sam closer together, like Alex hoped, but problems and troubles seem to unravel. Add to this problems at work and with their two daughters and you are reading a complex, beautiful family drama.

The way the author writes about Alex, Sam and their family was incredible – I felt not like a part of their family, because they were such a close – knit unit, even with all their troubles, but I felt like the proverbial fly on the wall, seeing, hearing, observing, almost touching and, above all experiencing all their troubles, problems and the little joys with them. Seeing all those troubles piling on top of each other made my heart break and I couldn’t stop thinking, oh no, please not again, and I was hoping that everything will eventually turn around and good.

This book is not full of twists and turns, but it also doesn’t need it. It slowly peels off layer after layer laying bare the real life of our characters, bringing back important events from the past, allowing us to get to know the characters and why those past events were so important and significant, how they impacted on the present. The characters are very well developed. They’re not flawless, I so often found myself disagreeing with them, I wanted to shake them and tell them to open their eyes. The story is mostly told through Alex’s point of view, and she shares all her thoughts and feelings with us. I immediately fell for her and I kept everything crossed for her. We shared the same worries and problems. She was strong and she had a backbone, she noticed all the discriminations that came with the new boss but also during her interviews, and she was not afraid to speak loud about them, questioning them.
To be absolutely honest, for a long, long time I had a huge problem with Sam. Maybe because I was rooting so much for Alex, right from the very beginning? I mean, I didn’t begrudged him this kidney but after the transplant it seemed that everything turned upside down for Alex in any case: her health, her job, her self – esteem, while Sam was enjoying his life fully and totally and it seemed to me that while he was sick, Alex just devoted herself to looking after him and forgot about her own life, and as soon as he was feeling better he forgot about it and instead of looking after Alex he just enjoyed his life. I mean, it was his right, for the love of god, of course, but for me it just was as if he got what he wanted and well, Alex, your health, your life is your problem now. It took me long to see his side of things, so long that I’ve already started to panic what’s happening here and if I’m going to warm to him at all.
But I think that the voice that shook me so much was this of the young Izzy. Her character was so very well drawn, she was not too childish, she was not too mature for her age as it often happens, she was simply perfect with her love to Arsenal and football obsession. She tried so hard to be tough and strong and brave, she experienced so much, seeing things through her eyes was, I think, even more authentic and cruel – because she told what she really felt.

This story also deals with bullying. As a mum of a six – year – old girl who’s about to start school in September, this topic is so very close to my heart. It’s probably my biggest nightmare that one day she can be bullied or that she can be the bully – I don’t know how I’m going to cope if something like this happens. The way Katie Marsh tackled this subplot in this story was absolutely perfect and realistic, and to be totally honest, it has broken my heart. I don’t want to spoil the reading for you so I’m not going to say anything more but be prepared for having your heart broken, fixed and then broken again.

This book, and especially the last part of it, made me think so much, especially about the way I am around and with my daughter, and it taught me that I can’t take our together time for granted. So I, just like Alex, am going to spend as much time with her as possible – she’s just too precious.
Katie Marsh can put into words all the feelings and emotions that we feel but can’t express – how often we just don’t have time to sit down and listen, to talk, to open up. She doesn’t make the relationships in this story bed of roses but she makes them honest and raw. Simply, she captured all those feelings so well and the way Alex felt about her past and keeping it a secret gave me goose bumps – because it sounded so real, authentic and genuine. The writing somehow feels so very authentic and personal, I’m not sure why I had this feeling but I just felt like this, and the words used by Katie Marsh, her descriptions, they touched me deeply and tugged at my heart – strings.

It was a gorgeous novel about relationships, about sisterhood, friendship, marriage and family dynamics. About secrets that shouldn’t have been kept, about things that shouldn’t have happened. It wasn’t sad – it may sound like this but it is also incredibly uplifting and affirming and it makes your heart sing again in the end. I can’t recommend it highly enough!