Book of the Month: April

Hi guys, and welcome to my Book of the Month feature. It’s not regular, as you can see for yourself – I think the more books I read, the more picky I start to be, and the book must be really, really special for me right now. I mean, I love most of the novels that I am lucky to read but only a few of them WOW me. In April there was one book that I loved incredibly, with my whole heart, and here it is.

So. The author of this books writes under different pen – names, but not matter what name it is, I just ADORE her stories. They are down – to – earth, realistic, with tons of sharp, dry humour and brilliant characters, and I could read them all the time. They are those kinds of book that I’d love to be able to read for the first time over and over again, and it was the same with Claire Sandy‘s newest release, “A Not Quite Perfect Family“.

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Here you can read my review, to see how much I really loved this story about the Carlile’s family. I am already looking forward to reading “The Woman at Number 24” that the author has written as Juliet Ashton and I haven’t had time to read yet – could you pretty please make my day this little bit longer?

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A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy

A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy

 

33387208Publisher: Pan

Publishing Date: 6th April  2017

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

Number of pages: 432

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Funny, feisty and all-too-true, A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy is for anyone who loves their family so much they’d just like a weekend away from them.

Fern Carlile has a lot on her plate. It’s a good thing she loves her big, imperfectly perfect family, because she’s the one who washes their pants, de-fleas the dog and runs her own business. A hearty meal is the one thing that brings the Carliles together – but over the course of a year, the various courses also pull them apart.

Around the table sits an eight-year-old militant feminist, a pair of teenage accidental parents, and a cantankerous OAP. Fern’s husband needs an extra seat for his spectacular midlife crisis.

Will Fern’s marriage be over by the time coffee is served? Perhaps she’ll give in and have the hot new dish that looks so tempting. Decisions, decisions . . .

Rating:  five-stars

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Heck, guys, I am really not sure why this book is not being shout about from the rooftops! No matter under which pen name the author is writing, over the last couple of years all of the books by Claire Sandy I’ve read proved to me that she is a fantastic writer with an exceptionally sharp observations skills and her stories are down – to – earth but written with tons of dry humour, and this is what I so love. Also, please don’t ask me which book by Clare Sandy/Juliet Ashton is my favourite because there isn’t one – I love them all just the same! I just can’t get enough of her books, guys, they are utterly brilliant and “A Not Quite Perfect Family” was just the same.

Welcome the Carlile family. Fern’s life is perfect – well, sort of. She has a house, great children and lovely partner Adam and no money problems more, as Adam has written a song that is being played all over the TV. But then, suddenly, Fern and Adam decide to split. The plot takes place within one year, starting in June and ending June next year, at Midsummer supper in Carlile’s garden. However, this one year the things go not as smoothly as usually and the party ends in a disaster. During those twelve months there is A LOT happening in the family – as they say, it never rains but it pours, right, so there is not only the temporarily break – up going to blow the Carlile’s family up – there are many other surprises waiting for the unexpecting adults. Each chapter is titled with a month and a name of a dish that Fern and Adam ate for their anniversary, and really, the dishes were a great equivalent of this what was happening in the chapter.

I loved the characters, from the very beginning, even though I had some problems with Aunt Nora, but quickly I started to love her probably most of all the characters. You need a very short “getting used to”- phase to Aunt Nora but then I couldn’t wait for her to enter the scenes and for her remarks, even though there were still moments that I wanted to shush her personally. Fern on the other hand, well, she was a woman wearing her heart on her sleeve. She was the one keeping the family firmly in control, cooking, looking after the bills, sorting out birthdays’ presents, walking the dog, cleaning, doing the laundry… well, shortly, looking after the family, the close and distant one – truly, your typical woman. But – she was exceptionally well written and even though she was so normal, so usual, it didn’t mean she was boring. On the contrary, she was all but boring. Because of the feeling of normality you couldn’t help but root for her and really, Claire Sandy gave this normality a face lifting and believe me, you will all fall for Fern. The way she was dealing with everybody and everything, with the problems, troubles, twists and turns that life was throwing her way was the way I personally would love to deal with them – she was troubled but she was also as cool as a cucumber and even when she was hot inside she stayed cool on the outside.
So Fern just wants to live her life as it is but – sadly – Adam seems to have other ideas. Oh guys, his midlife crisis made me laugh, roll my eyes, cringe with embarrassment and it was so, so entertaining! Suddenly he wanted a life without problems, he wanted to enjoy his second youth and make use of all this money that wham – bam was there to be spent. There was everything you could expect: younger woman, penthouse, diet, leather trousers and being all “cool”.
The children, Ollie and Tallulah, were brilliant. Especially Tallulah, with all of her feminist views, and this only in the lovely age of 8 years old! Go into hiding, Suffragists! It was sweet and hilarious at the same time, because you could just see in your mind how serious she was, and knowing that she’s actually only still a child made it so ridiculously funny.
This colourful group of eclectic characters was brought to life and they made the book so vivid and vibrant. Just imagine, so many different personalities under one roof! Problems, misunderstandings and arguments are recipe for disaster. I bought them all just as they were, even Fern’s “cleaner” Evka – you need to take them with a pinch of salt sometimes but altogether they worked together perfectly and they made the story unputdownable for me. It doesn’t happen often that I fall so much for the characters, and here they were like my own family to me. This bunch of characters care about brilliant dialogues, hilarious one – liners, and shows all kind of different relationships and dynamics. They’re all so unique and so distinctive.

So yes, I am actually a little bit in love with this book. It was fun and quirky, with brilliant characters, and the author tells about things like they are, with no holds barred. She has written about normal family – with all the ups and downs, function and dysfunction, troubles and successes but she has made this family not only special but down – to – earth. They could have their differences but in the end they all stuck together, they supported each other, just like it should be. “A Not Quite Perfect Family” was full of laugh – out – loud moments, but also there were moments that were much, much more poignant. A cringey, embarrassing moments intertwined with deeper, poignant ones and I loved this mix – it was perfect.
This is a story telling us that there are not perfect families out there, that they all have their ups and downs but that the most important thing is to communicate and be there for each other. It was incredibly realistic read, so fresh in its sharpness and down – to – earth observations of everyday life. It also shows that we should live our life just like we want it to live, without worrying or being ashamed of it. It was really a fantastic read, this kind of book that I’d love to be able to read for the first time over and over again. Highly, highly recommended!

Christmas Under the Stars by Karen Swan

Christmas Under the Stars by Karen Swan

 

31937542Publisher: Pan

Publishing Date: 3rd November 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 512

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A gripping, festive novel, Christmas Under the Stars by Karen Swan reveals the devastating power of secrets.

Worlds apart. A love without limit.

In the snow-topped mountains of the Canadian Rockies, Meg and Mitch are living their dream. Just weeks away from their wedding, they work and play with Tuck and Lucy, their closest and oldest friends. Meg and Lucy are as close as sisters – much to Meg’s sister’s dismay – and Tuck and Mitch have successfully turned their passion for snowboarding into a booming business.

But when a polar storm hits, tragedy strikes. Alone in the tiny mountain log cabin she shares with Mitch, Meg desperately tries to radio for help – and it comes from the most unexpected quarter, a lone voice across the airwaves that sees what she cannot.

As the snow melts and they try to live with their loss, the friendship Meg thought was forever is buckled by tensions, rivalries and devastating secrets. Nothing is as she thought and only her radio contact understands what it is to be truly alone. As they share confidences in the dark, witnessed only by the stars, Meg feels her future begin to pull away from her past and is forced to consider a strange truth – is it her friends who are the strangers? And a stranger who really knows her best?

 Rating: 5/5

“Christmas Under the Stars” is the winter offer from Karen Swan, as she’s now writing two books a year. Having incredibly enjoyed “The Paris’ Secret” I was impatiently waiting for the new release, as the author is a very talented story – teller, and her books are so different to each other, so you can never tell where the Karen is going to take you this time.

“Christmas Under the Stars” is set in Canada, in Bannf in Alberta, and I couldn’t imagine a better setting for this book. Personally I am fascinated by this country, and I would do anything to be able to go and visit it some time, and after reading the book even more so. Karen Swan’s writing makes is crystal clear that she also loves Canada – the descriptions are very detailed, minutiae, and they don’t leave a lot to be imagined, as the author covers every aspect. While sometimes it doesn’t work, this time I was absolutely stunned with all the views and could easily see them in my mind – they were so vivid and the author has so easily brought all the places to life. I can’t say that I had my favourite place as I myself am kind of an outdoor girl and love to spend my time in the nature, so really, all the places in the story were as if they were created especially for me and I truly appreciated the beauty of the wilderness. But! Karen Swan has also mentioned how much risk and danger such a wilderness can bring, and believe me, even the encounter with the bear sounded so realistic that I kept looking over my shoulder when I went for a walk in the wood later on, after reading the scene. The gorgeous and cosy mountain log cabin that Meg and Mitch were living in was my idea of heaven, though there were moments that it felt particularly remote and off the beaten track, so am not sure if I could live there constantly, alone.

The book was so complex and it touched upon so many issues! I admit, at the beginning, and it was a relatively long beginning, I was starting to feel panic, as it took a lot of time before the story gained some speed and focused on the significant things. Significant for the plot! I was like, oh man, what’s happening? Why is it so dragging on? Where is the story? It was probably also because I had some problems with the characters. While I warmed to Meg immediately, I wasn’t so sure about her fiancé Mitch. From this little what we were able to get about him he came across as a cold, somehow indifferent and always irritated guy, who put everything over Meg, even though they were supposed to get married in a week. Yes, throughout the story there came a picture of a passionate, talented young man and it was eventually explained why he behaved this way but I still couldn’t shake off my initial feelings to him. Then we had Lucy and Tuck, best friends of Meg and Mitch. Tuck was an absolutely unlikeable character for me, and I really, truly felt for Lucy – however Lucy had her moments as well. Tuck seemed so very childish to me, and I hated that when he spoke with people that the second word he said was “man” – no idea why but it irritated me incredibly. In my eyes he was a guy who was interested in anything but his own family, a guy who always tried to keep up with his best friend and almost always failed. As I don’t want to spoil the read to you I won’t say a word more but, as the story is full of surprises, twists and turns, keep your eyes peeled and let me know what your final thought about Tuck were. Back to Lucy – as I have already mentioned she had her moments when I truly despised her and didn’t understand where she was coming from – her jealousy, her determination to belittle Meg, the way she was sure she can judge her best friend – I just couldn’t get this girl, to be honest, and as it turned out, I was right not to trust her. While Meg… Well, I loved Meg. She had such a complicated past and she had to fight for herself, and yet she felt so normal and down – to – earth and I totally fell for her. Sure, she made mistakes, she was stubborn sometimes, but she was loyal, which you couldn’t say about Lucy foe example, she had her heart in the right place and I so wanted that life will stop throwing obstacles at her all the time.
The only male character that I loved from the very beginning was Jonas. He had so much distance to himself and all the things, he’s seen things just like they really were and he was just so, so clever, but not too patronizing. And his job was so, so cool, I don’t want to spoil it for you so not going to tell you what it was he was doing, but it was the first hero in my books doing this! I loved the conversations and then email exchange between him and Meg, and their jokes were really bad, but they made me laugh so much nonetheless. Jonas was so genuine in what he did and said and I so wanted him to stay significant in this story – he so deserved it!
But likes and dislikes away, the characters were perfectly drawn. They were complex and full of emotions and feelings personalities. They all felt so solid, you know, like real people. They made mistakes, they lied, they had secrets, they drunk too much, they behaved unreasonably, they jumped to conclusions, they loved and all of this, and much, much more, was so brilliantly captured by the author in their personalities. I felt like I knew all of them, to be honest, like I was together with them on the pages of this book, going with them on this very curvy journey.

The first half of the story – at least this is my feeling – focused more on Canada itself, on the landscape and yes, it worried me a little, but the second part, and especially the last quarter of the book were bloody brilliant. When the action unwound, it didn’t stop for a single second and I found the book unputdownable. Yes, we can say that the end, in comparison to the rest of this rather long story, was too rushed and too quick, but to be totally honest, I didn’t care about it – it was so fantastic and brilliant ending to the story that I won’t say a single bad word about it.

And guys, how gorgeous, clever and unique the idea of introducing us to a character that doesn’t even is on the Earth, was! The whole universe, NASA, rockets was never my thing, but together with Meg and Ronnie I hold my breath when the space ship (or is it something different???) was entering the Earth again, and even the details about life out of space, about gravity and how it is to be on the firm ground again had me totally hooked. Stars I always loved to watch, and I can’t help but admire the Milky Way over my own roof when I only have a chance.

So yes, it was a slow burner but as soon as it gained speed, it was like the avalanche in the story – fast, twisty and taking you with it on the journey. One of the secrets I guessed relatively quickly but the outcome has totally surprised me, and the other twists were absolutely unexpected for me – it is really something that Karen Swan is a champion of doing in her books: she’s a specialist of dropping a totally unexpected bomb on your totally unexpecting head, and I love this feeling of surprise, but also of the pieces of the puzzle falling into a place, and always in these moments I just want to punch the air and shout Yessssss! “Christmas Under the Stars” is a gorgeous, beautiful story about love and hate, secrets, lies, friendship, sisterhood, new beginnings and second chances. It’s a story that kept me awake long after the bed time, and it’s a story that won’t leave my head for long. Complex, cleverly plotted, with unforgettable characters, beautiful setting in Canadian Rockies, with views that were taking your breath away, adventures, twists and turns, it is a must read this winter! Another winner from Karen Swan, this author always delivers and never disappoints! Highly, highly recommended!

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

 

31839447Publisher: Pan

Publishing Date: 8th September 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Just because you can’t remember, doesn’t mean you can’t love . . .

Anna Forster is thirty-eight years old and has started to suffer from the early stages of Alzheimer’s. She knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to an assisted living facility. But best can still hurt. What she also knows is that there’s just one other resident her age at the facility – Luke.

As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to all that’s left. What remains are her feelings for Luke. Before long the pair fall in love, despite the forces that are set against them.

But when a tragic incident occurs, Luke and Anna’s families decide to separate them. There is one person at the facility who can help the pair, but only if she’s willing to risk everything for them . . .

Rating: 5/5

“The Things We Keep” by Sally Hepworth is one of the many books dealing with dementia that I’ve had a pleasure to read. However, mostly when we think Alzheimer’s disease we think about older people. This time though the author tells us a story about 38 – year – old Anna, who has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer. I must admit, even with my whole knowledge I didn’t know that this disease can afflict even so young people, and I think it hit me so much because Anna is around my age, and I could relate to her on many levels. And also, personally I think that it is one of the most awful diseases and it’s one of my biggest fears, that it can afflict someone in my family.

I haven’t read Ms Hepworth’s previous book “The Secrets of Midwives”, even though it is on my never – ending TBR pile, so I didn’t really know what to expect from her new release. I’ll admit, I started to read “The Things We Keep” a little reluctantly, not sure if I am in a mood for such a story, but immediately, IMMEDIATELY after starting reading it, I was drawn in and hooked and didn’t want to put the book down. It turned out that “The Things We Keep” is incredibly sad story, but it is also incredibly uplifting and full of brilliantly funny one – liners. Well, Anna herself had a fantastic sense of humour, she was so cynical and so intelligent, and seeing her deteriorate made it all even sadder. The author has truly perfectly mixed here sadness with humour, sorrow with happiness.

The story introduces us to Anna, 38 years old, who’s just been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. As the disease is progressing quickly, Anna’s twin brother decides that it’s best for her to go to Rosalind House, and one of the reason of choosing this home is the fact that Luke is living there – Luke is 41 and also suffering with a dementia. They are the youngest residents there and they quickly develop feelings to each other. But – are they real feelings? Can people with dementia feel love if they can forget the person next day? Should it be at all allowed to carry on their friendship/relationship? So many questions, so many important and thought – provoking questions there, and what I really enjoyed was the fact that the reader was allowed to see both sides, to see how complicated and complex it was, how awkward the position for all involved.

The characters in this story are unforgettable, and I don’t only mean the main characters, but also the residents of the Rosalind House. I was impressed with the way they all dealt with the difficult things that happened in their lives. At first I was assuming that the book is only about Anna so I was a little surprised when it introduced Eve to us, however there wouldn’t be this story without Eve and her daughter Clementine. Eve is left by her husband to deal with the mess he put them into and after living a life without financial problems she needs to find work, pronto, and so she’s forced to take a job at the home, where she learns Anna and Luke and their story. It turns out that Eve will be much more than a cook in this novel, as she becomes a friend to the home residents. However, I think this is Anna’s voice that is the most distinctive and strong in this story, and the author has done a brilliant job with getting into Anna’s head, into telling her tale with so much feeling and emotions. The way she described Anna and her slow (or quick!) deterioration was incredibly realistic and my heart truly went out to her. The author has also perfectly captured all the changes in Anna, such as forgetting the words, situations, people showing that for Anna herself it was a strange new world. There were confusions and frustrations involved, which is so natural in such situation, and the author beautifully and with a lot of feelings put it into words. And I really appreciate that we were given the possibility to see as many points of view as possible, those of the patients’, as well as their family members or caregivers, and we could agree – or not – with them. She shows not only the feelings of dementia patients, but also how it is for their family, seeing their beloved ones disappearing, but still being able to love and care.

The book alternates between Anna, Eve and Clementine. Yes, Clementine. She must also deal with problems, with ostracism and exclusion and it was heart – breaking to see how brave this 7 year – old – girl is. It is also interesting how the story starts in the past with Anna being first moved to Rosalind House and then slowly moving forward, with Eve’s point of view that starts in the present, when Anna’s disease is already progressed. It shows Anna first as a full of life, sharp woman and takes us on the journey of slowly forgetting words, faces, family, forming thoughts, being disoriented.

“The Things We Keep” is about love. It’s about losing people that you love, through death or through a disease that take their memories away, and I am really not sure what is worse. This is also a very beautiful, poignant love story showing that love knows no boundaries. It is about coping, caring, giving, developing the unselfish side to you. The feelings in this story, the way the characters acted and reacted felt so realistic and genuine and often I was on the verge of tears. It bothered me so, so much that such a young, great, sharp woman as Anna has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and it broke my heart seeing how quickly it develops. It’s truly this kind of book that makes you think, makes you cheer the characters on and fall for them. It is full of emotions, even the rawest ones, and written in an honest way, without beating around the bush, showing how it really is and what people truly feel. I enjoyed every single moment of it – and I highly recommend this book to you!

Holding Out for a Hero by Victoria van Tiem

Holding Out for a Hero by Victoria van Tiem

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 Publisher: Pan

Publishing Date: 14th January 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 Synopsis:

The problem with first love is that it never truly dies…
A funny, bitter-sweet romantic dramedy set to an 80s soundtrack.

Libby London fell in love in with the 80s, came of age in the 90s, and now, in the 21st Century, she’s completely falling apart… Her New York City fashion sensibility is more ‚vintage tragedy’ than ‚retro babe’ and might just be what’s holding her back in all matters of life and love…

At least that’s what her well-meaning friends think. They’ve staged a #80sIntervention in an effort to bring Libby bang up-to-date. But how do you move forward when the one you love holds you in the past? Between her dreaded birthday party, friend’s madcap ambush, and being forced to relocate her Pretty In Pink thrift shop, Libby’s nearing the end of the rope… If her therapist isn’t quick, it could be a literal one.

Rating: 5/5

 

Holding Out for a Hero by Victoria van Tiem dropped very unexpectedly through my letterbox (as a belated Christmas present, ha!) I planned on requesting a review copy anyway so just imagine my surprise and joy when I opened the envelope and saw that this is THIS BOOK. Holding Out for a Hero is, just like Victoria’s debut novel Love Like the Movies, full of mentions of the cult – films and music from the eighties, and even though I was more likely to enjoy them few years later, I was stupidly excited when reading about them and being able to picture them in my mind or hum every song that was mentioned. Maybe this is why I could get Libby so good, and picture the way she was dressing and just being.
I knew that I’m going to adore this book after the first mention of Ferris Buller at the beginning of the book – I loved this film, and Libby, too! Also, the chapters in this story are titles of songs and movies from the 80s – things that I grew up listening to and watching, which made me feel so, so nostalgic!

I adored the idea of this book: Libby London is over thirty, but she lives and breaths the 80′s. Even her job is her 80s shop, Pretty in Pink, where she sells clothes and music from the 80s. She just came to a standstill in the 80s and that’s the end of the story. But her friends decide she should start living again and they stage an #80sIntervention – Libby is going to get a makeover, including new clothes, new hair, new make – up, new everything, and they’re going to send her on the dates, chosen by them, but based on the characters in Libby’s favourite film, The Breakfast Club. The question is, is Libby ready for such intervention? Does she need such intervention at all?

This novel was full of LOL – moments, and some of the one – liners made me snort with laughter. Really, the author, by dropping a very innocent word here or there to the dialogues made them just hilarious, and I could laugh hours later when thinking about them. Brilliant, brilliant job!
But. This book is not only laughs and happy memories of the 80s. It is very quickly clear that Libby has issues, and the more we learn about it, the more we can see that those are really serious issues that have their roots in Libby’s teenage years, and this is why she has decided to stay in the times where she was happy, ie. in the times of Like a Virgin by Madonna. What happened? You must read for yourself, I don’t want to spoil the reading for you, it would be the worst I could do. But this what happened, and its consequences, crushed my heart, I couldn’t watch Libby so broken – she was such a lovely girl, with a sunshine personality, and I wanted to see her happy.

At the beginning everything was nice and beautiful, but then, seeing Libby protesting and not feeling great in her new clothes, I started to think why do her friends want to force her to change? Why don’t they let her stay as she is, if she’s happy like this? But then I started to doubt that Libby IS happy, and guessing that there is something that is keeping her in the 80s – what is this? Relatively quickly I guessed what happened, although I doubted in my own theory occasionally, but when it was confirmed that I was right, it just broke my heart. So in reality this, what started as a super – duper light story, quickly turned out into a book with a depth, dealing also with much more important and serious issues, but still with this lovely, laugh – out – loud humour. It was just perfectly balanced.
The dates the author sends Libby on were hilarious! Yes, OK, they might have been a little too far – fetched, but on the other hand I think we should take them with a pinch of salt and just go with the flow. The anaesthetist „Brain” date, the „Athlete” date, the „Criminal” date, and let’s not forget the „Princess” date, with golfing, parrots and clubbing were so vividly described and I couldn’t stop laughing when reading.
There was also a brilliant group of characters in this book. Libby was one of them, of course, but also her friends, you could just see that they feel so comfortable in each other’s company, Libby’s therapist Dr P., who has never gave up on her, no matter what he encouraged her to keep going, and all other background characters – they were vivid, colourful and all so fresh, with their own personalities, and I loved reading about them all.

This book has all what I was hoping for – interesting plot with twists and turns, brilliant humour and darker side to it, and personally I loved it more that Victoria’s debut novel, which, BTW, was also great! I didn’t want to put this novel down for a second, I just wanted to see what’s going to happen next and what kind of date is Libby going to next. Sure, some of the situations were on the verge of absurd, the same as some of the characters, but this time it just worked with this plot and it made me laugh. Victoria’s writing style is so enjoyable and easy to follow and I didn’t have a problem to get on with her humour and hidden jokes. It’s a poignant novel about never giving up, about friendship, keeping going and healing. And this book made me feel nostalgic. Really. I just want to put on body suit, bandeau and turn on aerobic with Jane Fonda. Highly recommended (book. Not Jane Fonda. Though if you like…)

Christmas on Primrose Hill by Karen Swan / Book Review

Christmas on Primrose Hill by Karen Swan

26019502

Publisher: Pan
Publishing Date: 5th November 2015
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:
Christmas on Primrose Hill is a romantic Christmas tale from the author of Christmas at Tiffany’s, Karen Swan.

On Primrose Hill . . .

Twinkling lights brighten London’s Primrose Hill as Christmas nears – but for Nettie Watson, it’s not parties and presents that she wants.

Promises are made

For Nettie, Christmas only serves as a stark reminder of the life she used to have . . . One day she made a promise to never leave home, and so far she’s stayed true to her word.

Promises are broken

Under the glaring spotlight of the world’s media, Nettie is unexpectedly caught up in a 21st century storm . . . Her exploits have made her a global name and attracted the attention of one of the world’s most eligible men – famous front man, Jamie Westlake. But now she has his attention, does she want to keep it?

Rating: 4/5

As there couldn’t be Christmas without Karen Swan’s book – I personally can’t think about my Christmas TBR without Karen’s new novel – here we can enjoy her newest release, Christmas on Primrose Hill. I love Karen’s books – she has incredible way with words and she has this exceptional talent to make you feel like a part of the characters’ world – and it was the same with this tale. Lately books featuring our social media’s world are popping out one after another, but I think it’s just unavoidable, and when the books are so up – to – date and so greatly written as Christmas on Primrose Hill, the better, and as soon as I started reading it, I was hooked – and never expected anything else, to be honest.

This was a very modern story where some of the current trending hashtags were playing a big part, what with a Blue Bunny Girl having to copy them – and this is a little minus point from me, because I thought Karen could think about something totally new and exceptional, right? Nevertheless, it was really up – to – date, with the campaign going viral quicker than we can say “hashtag”. It just perfectly captured how, in fact, the modern technology controls our life, but what I liked is that Karen Swan has decided to use this internet obsession for good reasons.

Karen Swan has again gave us what we are looking for in her books, first and foremost brilliant characters. I can’t remember her book where I wouldn’t like the main heroine, and this time I also fell for Nettie mightily. Then we have Jamie, the impossible happening possible. I loved Nettie and Jamie’s story, they were so genuine in all that they did or said, and what I liked most was that the relationship was not the easiest one, not the obvious one. – there was never a certainty to how it’s going to end. The characters have, of course, quirks and they make mistakes, they jump to conclusions and complicate their own lives – just like we normally do, and this is what make me like them more.
I truly liked Nettie, she was so normal and so believable and really, I immediately warmed to her and there was something in her that just drew me to her. It was brilliant to go on this trip with her and see how her alter – ego Blue Bunny Girl amasses so much interest in internet, and how she desperately tried to keep the interest from her doorstep and focus on the campaign. Because there is also a secret to Nettie, a secret that turned out to be really sad and heart – breaking… I really admire the way the author tackled this problem, I could feel all Nettie’s emotions and her pain, but also her anger and confusion and living in uncertainty. She had a great relationship with her father, and I loved the scenes with both of them, they were funny but also touching.
As for Jamie, hmmm… Oh well, he was also brilliant, and in my opinion his personality was greatly described. I mean, he was a pop – star, right? And as much as he was also a normal guy, he could behave like a pop – star as well, which is IMO great and made him even more believable in my eyes. No matter what Nettie believed in or what she thought, there was a damn great chemistry between them, and the way the author described this relationship was believable and, what’s more important, possible to happen!

It’s truly a great escape, this novel, and the twisty storyline will keep you hooked. There are many layers to this book and it kept me on my toes, I couldn’t wait to see what’s expecting me when I’ll turn the page. I loved the setting of this story, the very modern London, with all its Christmas decorations and trendy places to be and see.

And as usual in Karen’s novels, under the surface, under all this lightness and humour, she’s plotted some very serious messages there. We can see what happens when the social media craziness goes wrong, how – even when you are the most normal person in the world – when the media got a wind of something that might be juicy in their opinion, there is not a hiding place for you. The author also emphasizes men’s health this time, and I really liked the way she has weaved it into this story. There is also the case of Nettie’s mother, which adds a lot of seriousness to the story – but all those things only make the reading more realistic and more likeable for me.

Although, I must say this, I had a feeling that the book is incredibly dragging along. It was as if the author wanted to fill in the pages with words – and as much as I liked those words, I couldn’t help thinking that it’s just going round in circles and takes us away from the real plot, from this what’s important. You know me – the longer the book the better for me, but in this case it could be much shorter and not lose on the quality, on the contrary, it would be much more gripping in my opinion. But I adored this story. It is such a typical Karen Swan’s tale, with outstanding characters, full of twists and turns. There was a great romance in there (which girl hasn’t dreamed of something like this happening to her???) and enticing, complex storyline. I really liked this book and can’t wait for more from Karen Swan!