Hot Mess by Lucy Vine

Hot Mess by Lucy Vine

34815016Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 13th July 2017

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

Number of pages: 304

Genre:   Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Hot Mess [n.] – someone attractive, who is often in disarray.

Ellie Knight is just like you. Her life isn’t turning out the way she thought it would. Some people might say she’s a hot mess but then who really has their s**t together anyway?

It’s Valentine’s Day and Ellie finds herself eating Nutella in the bar stockroom after a no-show date.
But single doesn’t have to be the loneliest number, does it?
She goes back home to her flatshare and weird flatmates.
It’s ok there’s black mould everywhere, right?
With a hangover from hell, she goes to the office job she thought she would have quit by now.
Doesn’t everyone hate their job?

Maybe Ellie isn’t following the *official life plan* but perfect is overrated. For fans of Fleabag and Girls, this is a fresh and funny coming-of-age story with a single-girl heroine that everyone will relate to – a modern Carrie Bradshaw meets Bridget Jones.

Rating: five-stars

Oh jeez, guys, Lucy Vine just went to the very top of my favourite authors list! I’ve no idea where she’s been hiding my whole life and I hope she’ll keep writing books – “Hot Mess” was one of the funniest novels I have ever read, full of “oh no, she didn’t do/say this” moments, cringing with embarrassment moments and I know that I say it in my reviews, but this time I really mean it – laughing out loud! It was like reading Kirsty Greenwood and Lisa Dickenson mixed together – abso – bloody – brilliant and fantabulous.

I’ll be honest with you, when I started reading the book I really didn’t know what to expect. I haven’t read the synopsis before, I only heard people talking about it and falling in love with it – and now I know why! It turned out to be different to what I think it’s going to be – I’ve never supposed it’s going to be THAT funny! Really, this book cheered me up ceaselessly and even though I am a little older than Ellie, and maybe this little bit serious about life than she is, I totally enjoyed her adventures and well, yes, there were moments that even I could relate to her and her awkward moments.

Yes, I get it – some may say Ellie was whiney, self – pitying, unhappy with almost everything in her life and not trying to change it, embarrassed about her lovely, lovely father, and what was the point of the story he was writing, and that Jenny was a real bitch – but I won’t! Nobody’s perfect, right, and all of this above mentioned just made Ellie so much more genuine, and the novel written by her dad was hilarious, guys, hilarious! I was really disappointed when he suddenly stopped sending the chapters to his daughters, to be honest. And Jenny… well, Jenny, yes, you have to get used to Jenny, but in my opinion she was really funny in all her smugness and arrogance, and I think it was because she took herself so seriously and I didn’t. Ellie was full of flaws, but she was also relatable, loyal to her friends, adored her family, and I simply loved her from the beginning.

What was absolutely brilliant and fresh is that it was a story about being single and not about looking for a boyfriend at any cost! Hats off to Ellie – sure, she was trying, and we accompanied her on many disastrous blind dates (YES! Finally a book where the blind dates DO really appear on the pages!) but not falling for the guys only to tell that she has a boyfriend now. Why shouldn’t you be choosy and selfish when it is about you and your life and your choices, right? And Ellie likes being single, even if others can’t believe it – hence she’s being literally forced by her best friends to go on those dates.

I loved all the characters – even Jenny! They were larger than life and so perfectly and realistically drawn, and oh my god, I think I fell a little in love with Alan, Ellie’s dad – he was so gentle and oh my word, so talented, ha! Really, even the most secondary characters, just like the bodyguards or the staff in the cocktail bar were personalities that added tons of humour but also a lot of depth, for example Ellie’s best friend Sophie, still adapting to motherhood, her 6 – years – old going on sixty niece Millie with questions about periods or work friend Maddie – all brilliantly drawn and jumping out of the pages.

But this book also has some emotional moments and a depth. For example Ellie is still trying to get over her mum’s death, and the whole situation with Jenny just went and showed that there is also a sensible side to her. And it is also about following your dreams, not forgetting about them.

So altogether, “Hot Mess” was bloody brilliant! The humour was ah – mazing. The characters were ah – mazing. The storyline was – yes, you guessed it! Ah – mazing. You could easily relate to Ellie and her antics – she is like a Bridget Jones for younger women. It was laugh out loud from start to finish, it was quirky, sexy, filthy and just fabulous read and I can’t wait to see what Lucy Vine has in story for us next – I hope more such stories like this one – refreshing, original, like a real breath of fresh air. It was sharp – observed, fast – paced without any flat moments, abso – bloody – lutely very highly recommended as an entertaining, easy read.

Our Summer Together by Fanny Blake

Our Summer Together by Fanny Blake

 

35235801Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 13th July 2017

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

Number of pages: 320

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

OUR SUMMER TOGETHER is an uplifting story about family, friendship and the happy surprise of finding love later in life.

Caro knows how to be a mother – advising her grown-up daughters on career and relationship worries. She knows how to be a grandmother – enjoying the hectic energy of her three-year-old grandson. She knows how to be a daughter – helping her aging mother retain her independence.

She thought she knew everything about being a wife, but when her husband suddenly leaves her for another woman, everything is thrown in the air. So, when a chance meeting introduces her to Damir – younger, intriguing and attentive – she realises that opening up to a man so different from everyone else in her life, might also mean getting to know who she really is…

Rating: three-stars

“Our Summer Together” is Fanny Blake’s next emotional, subtle and believable romance that I’ve been longing to read. This author is known to write compelling, atmospheric and very down – to – earth novels that are full of love and hope and when this newest release has arrived, I started to read it immediately.

What I find really great is that more and more authors start to write stories about mature heroines, women who have lived and experienced a lot and truly have something to tell. And Caro is one of such heroines. The story picks up shortly after the sixty – years – old Caro and her husband had a divorce, after he left her for a younger woman, but to be honest, from what I’ve read I’ve deduced that it’s better like this, that her husband undermined her. However – of course – Caro’s life needs adjusting right now. But then she surprisingly meets a stranger on a train – Damir, who has his own story as well, but it is a very different kind of story, and Fanny Blake has done an excellent job with his character. He’s not too sugary, he’s not too wishy – washy, even if his background is a very particular one. He’s the man who knows how it is to loose everything: family, home, country.

Caro was also portrayed in a great, very down – to – earth and realistic way. She was trying very hard to be there for her two daughters, at the same time trying to come to terms with her new single life. It was truly adorable to see how she was starting to blossom again, to see there is much more to life and to proverbially grow up, and I think she was a character that was very easy to relate to and to sympathise with. Well, at least my sympathy was on her side, she has deserved to enjoy life after divorce.

However, I am sure I’d have enjoyed this book much better if I haven’t had the feeling that I’ve read such story a few times already. It was too clichéd, with the ex – husband finding new love and having a new family, with the daughters using their mother without a thank you and then not supporting her, the whole family finding it difficult to accept that she may have a life that doesn’t include them, and with the here and there with the romance. It was – in my opinion of course – this kind of book that needed one or two really great twists, to make the readers gasp, and I missed this in this novel.

“Our Summer Together” is a story that has some layers to it, even though there are not many life – changing situations and sudden twists and turns. It is written in a very peaceful, relaxing and easy to follow way, with just the right number of characters, and characters that were believable and likeable. A story about self – realisation, self – discovery, showing us that it’s never too late to let your dreams come true. Perfect read for one balmy evening with a glass of chilled wine.

Together by Julie Cohen

Together by Julie Cohen

30046912Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 13th July 2017

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

Number of pages: 336

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover/a>

 

 

Synopsis:

This is not a great love story.
This is a story about great love.

On a morning that seems just like any other, Robbie wakes in his bed, his wife Emily asleep beside him, as always. He rises and dresses, makes his coffee, feeds his dogs, just as he usually does. But then he leaves Emily a letter and does something that will break her heart. As the years go back all the way to 1962, Robbie’s actions become clearer as we discover the story of a couple with a terrible secret – one they will do absolutely anything to protect.

Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes’s Me Before You, David Nicholls’s One Day and M L Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans.

Rating: five-stars

 

OK guys. Confession time. “Together” is my first book by Julie Cohen. So there. I do admit, I have some of her previous books on my bookshelf, it’s just that I’ve never succeeded to read them. However, after hearing so many brilliant things about Ms Cohen’s books, it’s no wonder I was so looking forward to reading “Together” and now, after reading this brilliant, unique new release I am going to make it my priority to read the other novels as soon as possible.

So we meet Emily and Robbie in 2016 in Maine and then we go backwards, to 1962 in Cambridge and it bothered me a little how the story was constructed. I didn’t find the book being written backwards confusing but I had one issue. We start in present and go back in time, so it’s written in a kind of reverse order, so we actually know what happened, and we are only finding out about facts and details about the characters’ lives and their interweaving ways. I’ll be honest, there came a moment, and it was when we were in the 1960’s, that I lost my interest a little, as I had a feeling that I’ve read about it already, I know what’s happened – but it was then that my review copy suddenly ended at such a cliffhanger that I truly came to know the meaning of the word frustrated. Luckily, I was allowed to open the envelope with the last torn away pages and continue reading, and this is when I’ve seen that the book couldn’t be constructed in a different way. It may make us wonder but this way the things that we were asking ourselves about on the previous pages get a great clarity.

The story is not dominated by descriptions – a huge part of it is dialogues and conversations, and I have to say that they are flawless, they fly easily and effortlessly, there is nothing pushed or forced in those conversations, they just feel so realistic and honest – and let me tell you, creating such great dialogues doesn’t happen a lot in the books that I read. They just feel so natural, just like conversation between me and you.

The characters of Robbie and Emily were lovely – they were full of heart and love and such love as theirs probably happens once in a hundred years. They are not only soul mates, but also friends and lovers – a unit. Robbie loved Emily unconditionally and with fierce passion but also Emily fell head over heels for him and her feelings have never changed.

This is a story about secrets, yes, but it is also a story about unbelievable love. It is a story that tugs at all the right heart – strings and makes you wonder. It’s thought – provoking and a little controversial, written in a beautiful, emotional way, examining family dynamics and relationships. It shows the power of love. There are some twists and turns in the novel, with the biggest one at the end. One that I haven’t seen coming. I might have had some inclinations to guess the truth but THE revelation didn’t cross my mind. It is a very cleverly designed and organised plot, and suddenly everything seems to made sense and all the puzzle elements fall into their places. There are some shocking revelations but altogether the whole tone is calm and down – to – earth. You actually have to wait almost till the end to see why Emily was estranged from her family and why there were such strong feelings about this what’s happened, and really, when you get to this point everything will become so clear.

I have actually read “Together” in one day. It was unputdownable, it swept me up, and guys, I am sure you’re going to have such mixed feelings about this whole situation! But it is a good thing, and I love when I finish a book with my head buzzing with thoughts, wondering and examining, looking into. It was a powerful, moving read, a real must – read this summer! Highly recommended!

The Forever House by Veronica Henry

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The Forever House by Veronica Henry

34333917Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 18th May 2017

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

Number of pages: 384

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The house of your dreams. But can this dream last forever?

Hunter’s Moon is the ultimate ‘forever’ house. Nestled by a river in the Peasebrook valley, it has been the Willoughbys’ home for over fifty years, and now estate agent Belinda Baxter is determined to find the perfect family to live there. But the sale of the house unlocks decades of family secrets – and brings Belinda face to face with her own troubled past.

A gorgeous escapist read for anyone needing a hug in a book – perfect for fans of Erica James, Lucy Diamond and Harriet Evans.

Rating: five-stars

“The Forever House” is my third book by Veronica Henry and when I thought that there is nothing that could overdo her “How to Find Love in a Bookshop”, I can certainly state that this newest release is as good as the latter. I’ve no idea how Veronica Henry does it, but there is such warmth to the writing, it is so inviting that you immediately feel at home when reading her novels. She brings all the emotions and feelings of the characters so effortlessly to life and I very quickly found myself engrossed in their lives and couldn’t wait to see what’s going to happen. Last year I read a book very similar in topic to “The Forever House” but I must admit that, even though it was by a very respectable author, the novel by Veronica Henry much better captures the whole idea of the forever house. And! This book has one of the most beautiful covers, guys, with beautiful colours, font, picture and some glitter – I love it!

Hunter’s Moon is a gorgeous property, a house with history, handed from one generation to the next. However, Sally and Alexander need to downsize, there are some very heart – breaking reasons for this decisions, and they managed to convince themselves that it is the right decision, even though you can see and feel from the beginning that it is the last thing they want to do. They’ve been happily living in this house for over 50 years, brought up their children there, and all their memories are in those walls.
The story is interlacing past and present. We get to know all the characters, their past, how they all met and how their stories started to intertwine. And always, in the heart of their lives, there was Hunter’s Moon. I absolutely loved the chapters dedicated to present, I was immersed in Belinda’s story but also the parts about Sally and Alexander set in the late 1960’s were brilliant – the author has captured the atmosphere of those time in the best possible way. In the past we see how young Sally met Alexander, how come she got to belong to the Willoughby family, why they all couldn’t do without her – starting with the best – selling author, Alexander’s extravagant mother, through his sisters to his unhappy father, and how she fell in love with Hunter’s Moon and the family living there.

Present introduces us to Belinda Baxter, an estate agent with her own story and history. She’s the one looking after the sale of Hunter’s Moon, and I loved how she took it seriously and differently – she wanted to find not only those people who’s pay the biggest sum, but she also wanted to find the right people. She truly cared about the homes she was to sell, and also about the people. She also knew how it is to find you perfect, forever house and then loose it, so maybe this is what made her tick, understand and be so sensible and understanding. She was full of passion and loved her job and she was really likeable from the first word.
As I have mentioned, Belinda has a history, that, very unexpectedly, comes back to hit her hard. What was absolutely adorable was that Belinda loved shopping in the Nightingale Books bookshop that we so well know from Ms Henry’s previous novel!

The characters are so very well developed, there is depth in them, they are believable and likeable – all of them, even the background ones. You really have a feeling that any time they can just jump out off the pages. Hunter Moon’s is a character in its own right. It is this kind of house that, once you entered, you never wanted to leave. It was a house that has been with the family for many years, a house that has seen a lot and has secrets of its own. Also, the setting of Peasebrook is gorgeous and there is this lovely community feeling.

This story deals with some more serious issues but not in a way that makes you feel overwhelmed with them. This makes the book so down – to – earth and realistic, as life is not always a bed of roses and the author has brilliantly portrayed it in her book. It is above all about families and their dynamics, and about the old saying that home is where the heart is. The writing style is so charming and the story is really addictive and I raced through the pages to eventually reach a very satisfying, beautiful end. “The Forever House” was an incredible read – the kind that you just want to stay inside it and never leave; a very emotional tale, mixing sadness with happiness, hope and despair in a perfect way, capturing imagination. Highly recommended!

Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly / Blog Tour

Hi guys, and happy Monday evening! We’ve almost done it – it’s almost Tuesday, yay! To make your Monday evening even more bearable I have a review of Cathy Kelly’s newest release – Secrets of a Happy Marriage – for you. I think everybody has heard about Cathy Kelly and read at least one of her books, right? She’s a real legend when it comes to the women’s literature and I am trully excited to be a part of the blog tour!

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Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly

33824019

 

Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 9th March 2017

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

Number of pages: 432

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 5.10.2017)

 

Synopsis:

Number One bestseller Cathy Kelly returns with a sparkling tale of family, friends, and marriages in trouble, told with her trademark Irish wit, warmth and wisdom.

The wonderful and heart-warming new novel full of secrets, lies and family ties from Sunday Times bestselling author, Cathy Kelly.

Bess is hoping to show everyone just how happy her recent marriage is, but behind all the party-planning the cracks are beginning to show. Why is joining a family so difficult?

Jojo, Bess’s stepdaughter, has a point to make. Bess is not her mother, and she won’t replace the one she’s been missing every day for the last two years. And will she ever get the chance to become a mum herself?

Cousin Cari is a fierce career-woman who isn’t unnerved by anything – apart from facing the man who left her at the altar, and he’s on the guestlist. Her job has been a safe place to hide ever since – but is it time to let love into her life again?

Thanks to laughter, tears and one surprise appearance, the Brannigans might just discover the secrets of a happy marriage . . . But will they find out before it’s too late?

‘Wise, warm, compassionate and full of characters I loved … it’s like having a great gossip with your best friends’ Marian Keyes.

Rating: 3/5

Cathy Kelly is the queen of writing about relationships between women – let them be friends, family or enemies, she can spot on capture them and fill the pages with feelings and emotions and all of them are always honest and genuine. Even though Ms Kelly’s last book was not my favourite one I was really excited to receive a review copy of her newest release “Secrets of a Happy Marriage” and couldn’t wait to start reading it, as I knew that I am for sure for a real rollercoaster journey full of secrets, feelings and relationship dynamics – just what I needed at the moment.

Right now, after reading so many Ms Kelly’s novels, I personally think that her older books are much better than her last releases, including “Secrets of a Happy Marriage”. There was too much beating around the bush for me and too less of something actually happening. But please don’t get me wrong – I liked the book, not as much as I hoped I will but still I liked it. There was something comforting in the words, and Cathy Kelly can for sure tell a story. The characters were also very well developed and even with the huge number of them I didn’t have problems to quickly see who is who and to whom they belong and what’s their story. They have many flaws, the characters, and probably this is what makes them so realistic. Cathy Kelly really knows how to write her characters in an interesting way and I really had a feeling that I know them inside out, with all their flaws, fears and secrets. I think that Cari was the one that I liked most. A great career woman, I absolutely loved how passionate she was about her job and the way she dealt with all the problems. However, she was not that lucky when it came to love – jilted at the altar – literally! – she still can’t open enough to trust another man. She was also a brilliant friend, she was loyal and she had rules. With Jojo, I had some issues. I mean, I know she was sensible and all the things and events happening in her life just were too overwhelming for her, and I could understand it, however the way she was behaving towards Bess and her father made me roll my eyes. She was over 30 and was like a kid, trying to do whatever it takes to change her father mind about his second marriage. All the time I wanted to tell her, be careful, girl, karma is a bitch, and actually who gave you the right to think you know best? Yes, I also felt sorry for her a little, what with the infertility problems but Jojo was also a champion of isolating people and well, there always comes a moment when people say okay, I’ll back off if you don’t want my help. And it happened to Jojo eventually. There is also Bess Brannigan, Edward’s second wife, the one Jojo thinks married her father only for his money. However, it’s not true and the readers can see it from the very beginning. Bess has her own business, has her own money, she was alone for so many years, raising her daughter Amy and now when she married Edward, she did it because she loved him. You can easily see he is her whole world, her life. And it made this woman so genuine, in my opinion. She still had her own life but she married this woman because she truly loved him – only Jojo couldn’t see it. Jojo was really messed up, both physically and emotionally and Bess was trying so hard to follow into Lottie’s footsteps, to fit in with the Brannigans but she also have never crossed the magical line, she never tried too much.

The story was about Edward’s seventieth party, but the actual party took maybe ten pages, out of over 500 pages long book! It really felt like a huge great introduction that, as it turned out, didn’t have an end. I just feel there was no climax in the book and it led to nothing, in fact. However, I kept reading, as one of my friends told me that after around 300 pages there is eventually something going to happen. But I felt that even after the 300 pages mark there was nothing in particular happening. But I thought, oh well, if I am so far into the book then I’m going to finish it. And I’m glad that I’ve read till the end, as maybe there wasn’t much happening but it felt as if the story has gathered pace a little and it was worth to see the end. It was a very happy end, let’s be honest, but it cheered me up no end as I think that the characters deserved it, and it was the end (yes, the whole 10 pages of it) that saved this story for me.

While Cathy Kelly explored a huge number of subjects in this book, such as second marriages, infertility, betrayals, friendship, family relationships, mostly I felt as if I’m reading about the same, over and over again, only in different words. I have nothing against the book being so “broadband”, with multiple points of view and subplots, but it must then deal with those subjects and not turn around in circles around them – and it’s my feeling that this is how it was with this story. There is also something in the book that I really dislike when reading – when the characters communicate, when they talk and ask question it mostly takes them five, six or more pages to reply to the question, to utter a word because in between it is full of retrospections, inner thoughts and considerations and often I had to turn the pages back to see what the question was because I’d forgotten it. Every character would all the time go back in time to reminisce, and the hugest part of the book was set in the past instead of focusing on this what’s happening now. I get it, we should get a glimpse into the past to understand what has driven the characters, of course I get it, but it’s just that with all the things – that – happened – in – the – past, the present was left behind. I also missed Cari’s confrontation with Traci at the party – was she there? Wasn’t she? There were so many feelings and it was just left, like this.

So it was a very character – driven story and I think because of the huge number of them I had problems to connect with them and I, for example, couldn’t be bothered by Faenia’s story. I think the book could perfectly work without this character. Yes, it was nice that she’s come back for the party but well, I’m sorry but I still couldn’t see the point of this storyline.

It was not a bad book, guys, and I didn’t not like it, I just couldn’t wait for it to get to the point. It described stories of thousands of characters and they were great, those stories, but because there were so many of them I had a feeling that the author just can’t pick on the one or two or three she wants to write most. But this way some of them were over – developed and some under – developed, and some just weren’t relevant to the story, which made the reading so much more trying. Maybe if the book really focused on the three main characters and their problems my rating would be different. There was so much potential in this book, and the story could turn out so, so exciting, with all the secrets, animosities, ex – boyfriend’s marrying cousins but there was just too much focus on the characters development, and while the characters were brilliant, the lack of the authentic story made it just a mediocre read. I wanted to love it, and there was so much potential to love it, and really, the raw way of writing about all the issues and lives made the reading very special and realistic.

What you also always get when reaching for Cathy Kelly’s book is the way she explores the relationships. She writes about them in such realistic, down – to – earth way. She analyzes them from every possible angle, she works them till the end and she leaves no space for vague hints or questions. Sometimes it doesn’t work, as you want your own space and place and a chance to make up your own mind but in this case I really liked it, it just fitted to the book and to the writing style, and the author created this way a complex, intelligent story, full of challenges and difficult decisions to be made. The lives of the characters were so sharply observed and described in a very detailed way. And they were complicated, the lives, they really were. Cathy Kelly writes about them with a lot of feeling and empathy, and she brilliantly deals with writing about all the issues she’s decided to put her focus on. There is a lot of sadness in this story, but also there is a lot of hope, and I truly liked how well balanced it all was. “Secrets of a Happy Marriage” is a complex, multi – layered story about marriage and money problems, loneliness, reaching for help and if you’re a fan of women’s fiction and Cathy Kelly I am sure you’re going to enjoy it!

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

How to Find Love in a Bookshop

by Veronica Henry

Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 16th June 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher,  thank you!.

Number of pages: 336

Genre: Women’s Literature, Contemporary

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 22.09.2016)

 Synopsis:

Nightingale Books, nestled on the high street in Peasebrook, a picture-postcard Cotswold town, is a dream comes true for booklovers. Everyone who enters falls in love with something.

But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open and the developers are circling. The temptation to sell up is proving enormous – but what about the promise she made to her father? Not to mention her customers, for whom the shop is a comfort, a meeting place, a lifeline.

There’s Gary, a stable lad for a nearby trainer, who buys books to read to Nikki, who is lying in a coma. He spends every spare hour at Nikki’s bedside, never giving up hope that she will come round.

Betty, who runs a supper club from her tiny cottage, has a huge crush on a man she met and then lost in the cookery section, somewhere Auguste Escoffier and Marco Pierre White.

Mrs Norris repeatedly ‚forgets’ to pay for her books – and Emilia never has the heart to remind her. But Mrs Norris isn’t quite as forgetful as she pretends …

And then Emilia meets Dexter, local jack-the-lad, who is looking to improve his English so he can better himself. He buys all Emilia’s recommendations, and together they re-discover all her favourite authors. But Dexter has a secret, and is not all he seems…

How to Find Love in a Bookshop is the delightful story of Emilia’s fight to keep her bookshop alive, the customers whose lives she has touched – and the books they all love.

Rating: 5/5

 

Books about cupcakes, cafes, tearooms seem to be very popular, which is not a wonder, as they usually really live up to the readers’ expectations, but lately I am observing a tendency to put the title or the plot in a book shop – I personally have read two or three book with this subject matter in the last times. And it delights me massively, as could there be a better place in the world than a cosy, friendly book shop? So bring them on, lovely authors. And to be honest, when I first heard about „How to Find Love in a Book Shop”, and then saw this lovely cover, I just knew that it’s going to be a fantastic read.

„How to Find love in a Book Shop” is one of the books that brings love to books to life. It also introduces us to a great cast of characters. Right in the first few chapters we learn about Julius, his life and his love of books, and they alternate with his daughter’s Emilia points of view. Emilia starts to come to terms with her father’s death and the fact that she inherited his beloved book shop that her father would really love if she kept. Nightingale Books is a magic place really, where everybody feels at home and when often the people come for a chat, leaving without buying any book. And Emilia wasn’t aware of the financial status of the shop, so now she’s the one that must give it a new lease of life or… sell. It’s the last thing she wants to do, to be honest, so she’s determined to do everything within her power to keep it – but will she manage? Especially with the local property developer, who’s also determined, but to get the place for himself?

All the feelings and emotions of the characters felt so realistic. Their lives are full of ups and downs, problems and they need to make some serious and important decisions. This all is describes in such a heartfelt way that you can’t help but keep your fingers crossed for them to find their own ways. And as there is such a great cast of characters it is really easy to find those that you can relate to.
Julius Nightingale, even though he was not among the living characters anymore, was like a separate, significant character himself, as truly, you could feel his spirit on almost every single page, and Emilia cherished him immensely. However, but I have no idea why, I personally didn’t warm to him – there was nothing wrong with him, guys, he was a normal person with problems and life has thrown some obstacles his way and he was forced to bring his daughter on his own, yet I just couldn’t trust him and I didn’t have a feeling that he is as good a man as everybody is painting him. I had no reason for this, it’s just my own, personal feeling, so maybe better pay no attention :)
I liked the determination in Emilia and that she didn’t want to give up till the end. I loved how all the people were there for her after her father died, including sellers, book lovers, musicians and manor owners. I also absolutely adored to see how Emilia finds herself in the shop, how she finds what’s important for her.
Among the main characters the author introduces as also to some background ones who weren’t so significant to the plot I’d say, but they had their own lovely stories that connected them to the bookshop. We have Sarah, the owner of Peasebrook Manor who used to escape to the bookshop, away from her problems, and her lovely daughter Alicia who’s just about to get married to Hugh – Hugh that is not very popular among the locals, as opposed to Dillon, but Dillon is only a gardener at the manor. Then we have Bea who’s relatively new to the village, as she escaped the rat race in London but didn’t know that the domesticity and raising up her daughter is going to bore her to tears. Then there is Jackson, working for the local developer, and there is much more to Jackson that I couldn’t believe my eyes, and you’ve no idea how much I cheered him on. First and foremost he is an example how much books can change a person. Welcome Thomasina, lovely shy Thomasina, teaching cookery at the local school who also has a lovely one – table pop restaurant at home, and who needs to find a courage to speak to a man she likes so much.
So as you see there are many characters, and I haven’t mentioned all of them, and they are all somehow connected to the bookshop. And even with this great number of them I didn’t have any problems to tell who is who and what’s their story, which is a real bonus, as it doesn’t happen often with such number of characters. They all have their own stories – sometimes sad, sometimes poignant – and they all brilliantly weave into the book.

There is one thing that seemed a little under – developed for my liking, and it was the sub – plot with Jackson and the developer. Jackson was supposed to enchant Emilia and convince her she should sell the shop (the above mentioned developer needed the premises desperately but Emilia, as well as Julius earlier, didn’t want to sell), and I thought that he’s going to cause a lot of troubles. At least it was his reputation. However, it turned out – at least for me – that Jackson is a softie and in fact there was not a single attempt of him trying to hinder Emilia. I’m not saying it’s wrong of him, of course not, because I’d hate to see her struggling even more, I’m just saying that after such introduction I was expecting ups and downs and many twists.

This book also had something that I so adore, the community spirit and the way how everybody didn’t hesitate to help each other, to lend a helping hand in the moments of troubles and problems. This time they tried to help Emilia to work out if, and how, to keep the shop, what to do to bring more customers, and I loved their ideas.

Yes, I admit that I was a little afraid when starting reading this novel, as I had some problems with Ms Henry’s previous book, but this time the story kept me so hooked, and it had such a feel – good factor to it, and I found myself racing through the pages in the end. „How to Find Love in a Book Shop” doesn’t only explores love to books but mostly it is a great story about characters that feel so true to life and there is a lot of heart and feelings there. It describes sad and happy times and it just sounds so honest and I really liked how well and skilfully the author woven together all the separate stories of all the characters. It is a story about love, friendship, hope, and this all tied up in one little bookshop. The plot is full to the brims with events and lovely characters who respect each other and who really can come together during a crisis. The writing style is really engaging and very vivid, also very fluent and intelligent but also very accessible. Really recommended!

 

As June 18 – 25th is Independent Bookshop Week that interlocks also with the publication date of „How to Find Love in a Bookshop”, I’m chuffed to tell you about my favourite bookshop. It’s not in London, it’s even not in the UK, but it’s in Germany, in a small town in the south of Germany. it’s called Stangl & Taubald and what is so great about it is that, except of it being a bookshop – obviously! – it has incredible history. It was opened on 21st September 1864, almost one year after the first railway in Weiden (it’s the town) was opened.  Of course, it was also the first bookshop there! There were many owners’ changes throughout the years, with such dates as 1882, 1918, 1920, 1946… In 1989 the current owners took the shop, moved to the centre of the town and are staying there. By now the owners are the third generation of the Stangl family that own the shop!

What I so love in this shop is the atmosphere. it’s friendly and you always feel welcome, no matter if you came only to browse or to buy. The owners and the co – sellers are always helpful and they’re able to dig a book out of nowhere for their customers. Of course they also organize many events and meetings, not only reading but you can also go with them to the biggest book fairs in Germany. And probably abroad :)

In the bookshop, apart from books, you can of course find many, many other things that, as a bookworm, you’ll find a necessity: all things bookish, stationary, magazines, toys and presents, according to the season and occasion. My idea of heaven, to be honest :)

 

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Q&A with Nicola Doherty

The lovely Nicola Doherty has not only written a brilliant YA novel „Love and Other Man – Made Disasters” (you can read my review here ), but she has also answered some of my questions about the book – thank you so much Nicola! Enjoy, guys!

 

1. Probably this is going to be the most asked question but I’d still love to know what made you write a YA novel this time?

What happened was, I was approached by a wonderful editor at Orion Children’s called Jenny Glencross. She had liked my first book The Out of Office Girl and she thought I had the right voice to write for teens. I loved the idea but I wasn’t sure if I could do it well, and for a long time I left it on the back burner. But then, after I wrote Girls on Tour, I had an idea for this book, which I knew would be best written in a teen’s voice. So I came back to her with a partial MS for Love and Other Man-Made Disasters and she liked it. Because I took so long over it, Jenny ended up leaving Orion before the book was published, but luckily for me, a brilliant editor called Felicity Johnston took it over and she’s been fantastic.

 

2. Why did you choose Juno to be your main character?

I wanted to write about someone who was scared of everything, because I think fear is such a powerful motivator – it can really take over your life. And I wanted to write about a teenage girl who wasn’t rebellious, or rude or acting out in a crazy way – I wanted to write about one who was working hard in school, and worried about her future, and generally doing all the ‘right’ things, because I think that’s much more representative of a lot of teens.

 

3. Juno worries about almost everything – how much of Juno is in you and how much of you is in Juno?

Hah! Well, I definitely worry about climate change and the general future of the world, in the same way that Juno does. However, I don’t have a lot of her other worries – like her fears of flying or the way she has to sit near the exit in a cinema in case there’s a hostage-type situation. I love flying and I never worry about where I’m sitting in the cinema. I do have a plan for if I’m burned at the stake, the way she does … But I’m definitely more relaxed than she is. I’m older, which helps!

 

4. What’s the story behind the title (that I simply adore BTW)?

Thanks! I originally titled the book The Opposite of Girl – as a reference to Boy’s name. But we (my agent, editor and I) decided that wasn’t strong enough. So I came up with Love and Other Man-Made Disasters as it tied together the two themes of a) love and b) Juno’s fears of everything. Luckily everyone liked it at once which isn’t always the case!

 

5. Can YOU ski?

Yes! I’ve only been a few times and I’m not very good – I’m happy on blue slopes and nervous on reds. It’s one of those things that can be awful, if you’re tired or the weather’s bad or if the fear gets to you, and can also be exhilarating when it’s going well. So it’s like life!

 

6. What would you like young people to take from the story?

I’d like to reassure people – of any age – that it’s OK to worry about everything from A-Levels to World War III. And that it helps to do something about your worries. Also, that it’s always worth taking a risk. Ideally I’d also like them to fall in love with Boy the way I would have if I was Juno’s age …

 

7. Would you recommend „Love, and Other Man – Made Disasters” to your „old” fans or is this a book directed to only YA market?

I definitely would recommend it to anyone who’s enjoyed my romances. I wrote it almost exactly the way I wrote my other books – except that the characters are younger! All of my books, I think, are about finding out who you are and who you’re meant to be with – which is something we can go through at any age. Though obviously I hope it will resonate with people who happen to be Juno’s age.

 

8. What next? Will it be a YA novel again or can we also hope for a book for adult audience?

I definitely will write adult fiction again – that will be the book after the one I’m writing now, for sure. I’d like to combine the two, the way lots of writers do. For now, though, my next book happens to be another YA. It’s called Girl Offline and it is due out next year. You can read an extract of it in the back of Love and Other Man-Made Disasters!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nicola grew up in Monkstown, Co. Dublin and went to university in Dublin and Oxford. She worked in publishing as an editor for several years before writing her first book The Out of Office Girl, which was shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Awards in the Romantic Comedy category.

If I Could Turn Back Time and Girls on Tour are both out now from Headline, and her first young adult romance, Love and Other Man-Made Disasters, is due out in 2016 from Orion. Her books have been translated into Italian, French, German, Polish and (soon) Turkish.

She lives in Highbury, north London, with her husband and no cats (yet).

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