Then. Now. Always by Isabelle Broom

Then. Now. Always by Isabella Broom


33842324Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 20th April 2017

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

Number of pages: 416

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Hannah can’t believe it when she’s offered a trip to sunny Spain with her best friend and dreamy boss . . . what’s the catch?

Twenty-eight year old Hannah is ready for an adventure. She and her colleagues are in Spain for a month to film a documentary, and it’s a dream come true. Not least because Hannah will get to spend long summer days with Theo, her boss (and crush). If only Tom (Hannah’s best friend and cameramen) and Claudette (the presenter) would stop getting in the way…

Then things become even more complicated when Nancy, Hannah’s half-sister arrives. What on earth is she doing here?

For once in her life, can’t Hannah just have one perfect summer, free of any drama?

Rating: three-stars


Oh my, mea culpa, it took me over two months to sit down and write this review. I think I know why it took me so long – “Then. Now. Always” by Isabelle Broom is getting raving reviews, and really guys, I started reading this book with so many expectations but quickly found myself almost in desperation wondering if I am reading the same book as other people, singing prizes. Don’t get me wrong – I adore Isabelle Broom, and her debut novel was absolutely brilliant, but I just couldn’t get this newest release, and it made me so sad, as I had so much hope and wanted to love this story so much. But – Isabelle Broom is the ultimate person to turn to when you need to get into holiday mode – she sets her books in the most gorgeous settings and she brings them easily and effortlessly to life. “Then. Now. Always” is set in Spain, in a beautiful, gorgeous town, full of sunshine, adventures and secret places.

So guys, between you and me, there was one thing that almost made the book totally kaput for me. And it was the main character – it is really hard to love a book when the main hero is driving you crazy. Hannah was at the beginning, and through almost the whole story, a pathetic, feeling sorry for herself person who didn’t know what she really want. She was unhappy with everything and everybody surrounding her. I admit, it was a risky move from the author to make her character fall in love with her boss but I am sure it was a very conscious move. We know about this crush immediately, so I tried to be patient with Hannah but there came a moment when I couldn’t stand wondering what Theo would say or if he’s thinking about her at the same moment she’s thinking about him, anymore. I liked how this played out however, it was not too cheesy, too fairy – tailish.
Then I couldn’t grasp how come people stick with Hannah for so long, with her being so needy and whinge-y and stubborn. She didn’t want to hear what other people have to say, and the way she was around Tom… well, she just him took for granted, the same as so many other things in her life. The bickering with her half – sister Nancy was annoying and her saying one thing and then doing the other as well. Hannah wanted to spend one summer without any dramas but let’s be honest, wasn’t she the one who has created all the problems? I just couldn’t get past the fact that the characters were supposed to be adults but behaved like children.

What saved the book for me was the ending. It was not obvious and it was not predictable and I really liked how it turned out. It was different to all the endings. I actually think that if it weren’t the weak characters, the book would be perfect. But OK, let’s stop with moaning and focus on the good things. It was a great story offering a huge piece of escapism. The events in this book were likeable and there were tricky situations aplenty to make this plot as twisty as the Spanish roads. The author so flawlessly handles the complex story that it was a real pleasure to read. I also appreciate the fact that Isabelle Broom tried to make out of a supposedly lightweight novel a much more emotional and complicated story. Right at the beginning we have this being in love with your own boss situation, which I could feel in my bones is going to end in tears, then she adds a bit of half – sibling rivalry, and while Hannah’s sister Nancy was very one – dimensional and predictable, and Hannah’s reactions were, in my opinion, much too exaggerated, and the two girls behaved like spoiled, immature teenagers, showing their shallow sides behaving in a really awkward way, this element added some depth and was well captured.

Altogether, this book gives you what you can expect: gorgeous setting of Mojocar, twists and turns, adventures and unconventional romance. It is quick – paced and there is enough of drama to keep you on your tenterhooks. There is this added bonus of Mojocar’s history and traditions, myths and legends that I enjoyed very much. A story about building bridges and forgiving and I am really sorry it didn’t work for me – I really, truly wanted it to work! However, I am already looking towards Isabelle’s next book, I’m sure it’s going to be (another) cracker!

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A Year and a Day by Isabelle Broom

A Year and a Day by Isabelle Broom

 

30283540Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 17th November 2016

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Welcome to a city where wishes are everywhere

For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she’s determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything – and she won’t let that happen again . . .

For Hope, the trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she’s struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it’s all her fault . . .

For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can’t stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past . . .

Three different women.

Three intertwining love stories.

One unforgettable, timeless city.

Rating: 3/5

Isabelle Broom’s debut novel “My Map of You” has blown me completely away when I read it earlier this year, so there is no need to say that I was waiting for “A Year an a Day” like crazy, biting my nails and with bated breath, and to be honest I didn’t start to read it immediately when my copy arrived because I was – and I know it sounds somehow foolish – scared. Scared that I won’t like it as much as I liked Isabelle’s first book.
And sadly, it happened. I loved Isabelle’s writing, she is a great story – teller and she has great ideas but for me personally the whole book was more a tribute to Prague, more a travel guide than a story. It was a long book and I had a feeling that except for visiting the capital city of Czech Republic there was nothing happening. I also had a problem with the characters.
The story follows 3 couples, who are all visiting Prague. They don’t know each other, they don’t have common stories, it’s just a coincidence that they stay at the same hotel at the same time. So we have Megan and Ollie. They are just friends. Well, there was this kiss, once, and Ollie would love something more to develop between them but Megan is desperate not to allow for this. All she wants is to focus on her career as a photographer and she doesn’t need a relationship. But when Ollie, a teacher, invites her to Prague, she agrees but under one condition: only as friends.
Then we have Hope and Charlie. They are a fresh couple and those few days in Prague are their first break. Hope is in love with Charlie – or at least she thinks so – and she’s over the moon with the surprise trip to the capital city and her only thorn is the fact that her daughter Annette doesn’t want to have anything to do with her anymore – she claims that Hope broke her own marriage and doesn’t want to know her mother’s point of view. And then also Charlie, who starts to be enigmatic and mysterious and somehow seems too far away – was the decision of being with him too rushed?
And there is also Sophie. She has travelled to Prague alone but she’s expecting her boyfriend Robin to join her in a few days. In the meantime she visits Prague and all the places she has visited with Robin before, as they return here every year – this is the place they got to know each other! But – there seems to be something wrong with Sophie. But what?

There came a moment that when the story was told from Sophie’s point of view I couldn’t help but sigh with irritation, as it very quickly turned out that every single word, every single situation, every single place she will immediately conjure the memory of Robin. It was as if she can’t operate, live, be a single person, a Sophie, that she’s nothing without her boyfriend, and it quickly started to annoy me, to be honest.

I wanted to love this story so much, I really wanted. While I adore Isabelle Broom’s writing, this time the plot seemed to flat and without an idea. There were too many clichés in it and it was tad too predictable, though I am giving Ms Broom brownie points for the last few chapters – this I didn’t see coming. and to be honest, this one extra star that I rated this book with is for the ending. Not for the “main” one, when the characters meet in London, but for the last moments that happened in Prague (And I also don’t mind the über – dramatic situation at the bridge that all the characters were involved, but I mean this harsh fate in Sophie’s life – it was incredibly sad and touching). They explained everything but to be honest, it was already too late for me to save the story. I also can’t say that the mystery worked too well for me because it was clear that something is wrong, and we know which character it involved, but it dragged and dragged and really, when the resolution came I wasn’t interested any more. Also, the other characters and their stories had nothing in common with this mystery and this book could easily be turned out into three different stories. Megan has annoyed me as well. In my opinion she was egoistic, there was only “me”, “I” and “myself” about her and she didn’t consider other people’s feelings. I hated the way she played with Ollie and – honestly – couldn’t understand her decisions. I know that we, women, should play hot and cold with the guys, but there are borders as well, right, and Megan has crossed all of them in my opinion. I much more preferred Ollie, who didn’t hide his feelings, they were crystal clear from the beginning and yes, he took his chances, but I think we can’t blame him for trying, no? He was handsome, kind and supportive, just my kind of man.

Out of all the characters Hope was, I think, the most bleary and vague, and she lacked a spine. I just didn’t warm to any of the characters, to be honest, there was nothing that made them feel special and they just all felt so whingy.
One thing is common for the women – they all want to find hope and solace in Prague, and they want for they dreams to come true. But is it possible?

I love Prague, I had a pleasure to visit this city – it was a short visit but made me fell in love with it – however, after reading this book I am tired of Prague. Truly, I’ve mostly skipped all the descriptions – they were too detailed and there were too many of them for my liking. I want a firm story and not a travel guide when reading a book such as “A Year and a Day”. However, they of course reminded me of some places and I could easily remember the sights and smells.

Altogether, it was a light, uplifting read and I am really, really sad that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. It covers the issues of travelling, broken hearts, taking risks, friendships and relationships, love and hope. It’s that I just couldn’t get this story, probably. After finishing it, I had a feeling that nothing particular happened in this book. But the writing was really good, inviting, welcoming and you felt comfortable in Isabelle Broom’s capable writing hands.

My Map of You by Isabelle Broom

My Map of You

by Isabelle Broom

 

Publisher: Penguin / Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 21st April 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Holly Wright has had a difficult few years. After her mother’s death, she’s become expert at keeping people at a distance – including her boyfriend, Rupert.

But when Holly receives an unexpected letter explaining that an aunt she never met has left her a house on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the walls she has built begin to crumble. Arriving on the island, Holly meets the handsome Aidan and slowly begins to uncover the truth about the secret which tore her family apart.

But is the island where Holly really belongs? Or will her real life catch up with her first?

Rating: 5/5

 

„My Map of You” is Isabelle Broom’s debut novel and I can only say that it was a helluva of a debut! First novel, and SO good, I am really, really impressed. You know, sometimes there are books that are light and easy and with a nice topic but the writing style is wooden, stiff and doesn’t let you to enjoy a book. However, „My Map of You” was written in a fantastic, easy to follow way, full of warmth and I had a feeling that the book is reading itself – I immediately felt at home with the story, had no problems to connect with the characters and – let’s come back to the writing style – I was in love with it. It had made this novel exceptional and it looks like Isabelle Broom was made to be an author – I am really waiting to see what more she has in store for us.

Lately novels set in Greece are popping up like mushrooms but I’m probably lucky, as they are all so original and all the time refreshing, and each of the authors have their own favourite places. And so „My Map of You” is mostly set on Zakynthos, and I absolutely, totally loved the descriptions of it! You know, sometimes the books set in different parts of the world sound more like tourist guidebooks, with all the technical descriptions and must – see places, when the authors concentrate mostly on showing us how well they researched these places for us. But it’s not the case with „My Map of You” – yes, there are many descriptions of the island, of different places, beaches, bars and pubs but they all sound so effortless and are just a part of this story. I truly didn’t have any problems to imagine all these places, to feel the light gentle wind on my arms and the warm sun shining at my face, and hear and feel the clear blue waters. The descriptions are so evocative and Isabelle Broom brings all the things she writes about to life – it is really an amazing feeling, I’ve felt as if I’ve been visiting the places together with Holly, even though I’ve never been to Greece (YET!), and I really think that those descriptions, and the cosy, lovely writing style were the biggest highlights of the book and made it so unique.

The story is not only about Holly spending holidays of her life in Greece – it touches upon many issues, mostly concerning Holly and her life, her choices, her past, as she tries to solve some kind of mystery about her mum and aunt. We, readers, have a chance to see that something happened in the past between the sisters much quicker than Holly, as almost every chapter ends with a letter written by Holly’s mum to her sister Sandra, and it quickly becomes clear that there was a misunderstanding that resulted in these two going separate ways. Holly also takes us on a journey on self – discovery, of growing up and deciding what’s important for her and what she wants from her life.
I adored Holly. She was not perfect, she had her flaws, and she realised this. She had moments that she didn’t know what to do with her life, she was not sure about her boyfriend and all the dilemmas only made her much more believable as a character in my eyes. She didn’t have easy life, it was not a plain sailing through life for her, she doesn’t show people her true side, only the one she thinks they want to see, there are moments she’s selfish, that she hurts other people, that she jumps to the wrong conclusions but she was so honest, and genuine in all the things, and I had a feeling she is just a real, living and breathing person. Holly was a truly complex character.

All the other characters are just brilliant, and even though they are secondary ones they have larger than life personalities, they are believable and warm. And Aidan… Oh well, Aidan. Sigh. I wanted to roar like a tiger when he entered the scenes, really. He and Rupert couldn’t be more different and I think I don’t have to say which one I’d prefer as a boyfriend, and it is of course only a matter of time for Holly to start question her relationships. I’d also start to question my relationship if I lived next to Aidan. He was, in fact, everything that Rupert wasn’t – relaxed, living and breathing Greece, and I’m not saying that Rupert, with his wealth and sense of reliability, was bad, I’m only saying that only one of them can win Holly’s heart :) Though I couldn’t fully trust Rupert, no idea why, there was something in him that made me feel like this, and it only confirmed my conviction when Holly travelled alone to Greece and the way he talked with her on the phone and behaved was so controlling!

This was not your usual rom – com, when a girl meets a boy, they fall in love and live happily ever after. It is much more complicated but it doesn’t mean that the book is hard to read or on the heavy side. The author makes Holly to arrive at some important and not straightforward decision, she must decide where she belongs, to whom she belongs. I truly loved the way the romance aspect in this book was handled, it wasn’t rushed, it wasn’t obvious, and the chemistry, questions and tension worked so well here. It was really one of the most beautifully and warm written novels that I’ve read lately. When reading it I only wanted to be able to jump into the pages of this story. It was convincing, original and honest. It was not only a novel to take for your holidays, it is a perfect read for all kinds of weather – it’ll make you feel better when it’s rainy and grey outside, and it’ll make you feel better when the sun is shining. The atmosphere of the holidays, but also of the more serious moments, is really brilliantly captured. It mixes a bit of romance, a bit of serious issues, some brilliant characters and a fantastic red setter, and I really enjoyed it, from the beginning to the end. Please, read this book, you’ll feel immediately better!