All I Want for Christmas by Joanna Bolouri / Blog Tour

 

Publisher: Quercus cover201368-medium

Publishing Date: 29th October 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 

 

Synopsis:

What if the love of your life was your best friend’s girlfriend, and you were the one that set them up?

When Nick loses his job and is dumped by his glamorous but demanding girlfriend, he is forced to grudgingly accept work as a Santa at a local Christmas grotto. As his friends are getting married or promoted, Nick spends his days being terrorised by unfriendly elves and cried on by snotty, spoiled children.

Then he meets 4-year-old Alfie. All Alfie wants for Christmas is for his mum, Sarah, to be happy again. Moved by the boy’s selfless wish, Nick arranges a date between Sarah and his best friend, Matt. But as Sarah and Alfie become part of all their lives, Nick realises that happiness for Sarah and Matt might mean heartbreak for himself.

A hilarious and heartwarming Christmas romance for fans of Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare and Marian Keyes’ Grown Ups.

Rating: five-stars

Nick not only loses his job but is then also dumped by his glamorous and very demanding girlfriend. He’s down on his luck when it comes to finding another job but as money is short he’s forced to accept work as Santa Claus at the local Christmas grotto. Nothing is as he’s planned it – his friends are getting: married, babies, promoted, in love… And he has to spend his days surrounded by spoiled children and an angry elf. Until one day he meets 4 – year – old Alfie. Alfie doesn’t want a Christmas present, he only wants his mum to be happy again after his father’s death. This chance encounter will change Nick’s world – dramatically.

Joanna Bolouri’s characters are true to life, full of flaws but also, and this is so important, and not always so easy to capture, real, genuine and reletable and it’s so easy to get immersed in their lives and feel a part of their world. She can, in a great way, write about friendship and relationship, and her descriptions of adulthood and settling down, then getting married and having kids are so spot on and realistically written. I also liked Nick’s journey throughout the book, from this man – child person to a more responsible adult who hasn’t lost his sense of humour and stayed true to himself. I loved Sarah. I loved her chutzpah and self – confidence, her humour and one – liners, she made me laugh and I wanted to cheer on her and say you go, girl! Matt was the perfect completion to this story.
And nobody can swear as good as Joanna Bolouri’s characters! I wouldn’t go into this topic at all however I’ve seen some reviewers complaining about the language and I think, what’s the problem? Who doesn’t swear? The story is about adult people, told from a male character’s point of view so I think it’s absolutely natural that there is a sweary banter. It didn’t bother me at all, and frankly, it you’ve read the author before you know what you’re into, and because it’s a Christmassy book? The closer to Christmas, the more I swear. The f – bombs made for much more realistic dialogues in fact.

It was, I would say, a bit milder and gentler read from Joanna Bolouri, yet still full of her hallmark humour, charm and fun. Uniquely, it was told from a male character’s point of view but I think that the author has pulled it off really, really well. There was an unusual love triangle in this story that kept me on my tenterhooks all the time as I was desperate to know how it’s going to end – I was even afraid that Ms Bolouri is going to murder one of the characters to be honest. I loved what she did here, Nick’s conflict was so easy to feel and understand, it was really well handled. The friendship between Nick and Matt was absolutely brilliant, honest, genuine and absolutely not forced, they were close and their banter flew so natural, and it was also lovely to see how much Matt’s family doted on Nick, it made my heart grow.
The other highlight was Nick’s relationship with Alfie, the way he was around him – it was so unforced, natural and real, Nick was so, so good with the little boy.

It may not be a book that takes place strictly at Christmas but it didn’t bother me at all as it’s not this kind of read that should put you in festive mood and decorate your Christmas tree pronto – but if you keep Alfie’s wish in mind it will be festive enough. And my, Nick as Santa Claus was enough for me, really *smirk*. The writing style is brilliant, so easy to connect with, filled with catchy and hilarious one – liners and light banter. The story is full of funny and embarassing scenes.

„All I Want for Christmas“ was witty and sharp, full of heart and humour, the first book since a long time that made me truly want to turn the pages – I absolutely enjoyed this delightful Christmassy romance. It’s sharp – observed with so incredibly down to earth will they/won’t they, a book that will leave you with a smile on your face. Very highly recommended, I’ll be coming back to this book for sure!

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The Switch by Beth O’Leary

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

 

Publisher: Quercus 41xy7rgxuwl._sx330_bo1204203200_

Publishing Date: 16th April 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 21.01.2021)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Eileen is sick of being 79. Leena’s tired of life in her twenties. Maybe it’s time they swapped places…

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

Rating: five-stars

 

79 year old Eileen Cotton suddenly finds herself alone, as her husband Wade leaves her for another woman. She’s not grieving, oh no, she’s in need to jazz up her life and maybe find a new love, but – sadly – in her tiny village Hamleigh – in – Harksdale, there are slim pickings. Meanwhile, her workaholic grand – daughter Leena Cotton experiences a panic attack during a huge presentation for her company, so they order her to take two months leave. Not knowing what to do with her free time, she decides to visit her grandmother. After learning her grandmother’s dilemma, Leena suggest for them to swap places for eight weeks – she will move into her grandmother’s house, taking on all her chores, projects and responsibilities, while Eileen moves into Leena’s flat, together with her flatmates Fitz and Martha, and try to get her love life under control in London, the city of nearly nine million. Perfect plan, right? Or not?

Beth O’Leary has created living and breathing characters that I couldn’t help but immediately fell for. They feel so real and close to life, they’re witty and charming but they also make mistakes and jump to conclusions. And really, standing ovation to the author for creating Eileen, finally an older character who is wise and who has experienced so much in her life but IS NOT patronising, is not meh, is not all sugar – instead is full of humour, wisdom, is strong and quirky. I adored her.
The characters grow so much in this story, and not only our main ones but also the background bunch. They were all interesting and unforgettable, and their stories relatable and affecting, and you will quickly find yourself involved in their lives.

The author wasn’t shy of complicating the characters’ lives, making them difficult. Both of the Cotton women, as well as Leena’s mother and Eileen’s daughter, are in the throes of loss and grief and they don’t know how to process it, especially Leena, who estranged herself from her mother, inculpating her of everything what has happened. But she also gives them a breath of fresh air, new possibilities and chances, and also challenges that will give them the opportunity to come to terms with their grief. I really enjoyed the way the author tackled this particular part of the plot, showing how grief can affect even the most close knit family units and your mental health.

The storyline was simple, and yes, it does sound like something that you’ve seen/read before but it is one of the strengths of this book, and well, would you believe that something like this can happen? Beth O’Leary has written it with confidence, sprinkling the switch with tons of humour and emotions. While Eileen used her organisational skills in London, trying to establish the Silver Shoreditch Social Club and braving the world of internet dating, Leena is left to deal with not only with a long list of errands, projects and activities (like walking the local teacher Jackson’s quirky Labrador puppy, getting involved in the Neighbourhood Watch and organising the May Day celebrations), but also with Eileen’s friends who don’t immediately take to her own ideas, and they include the greatest bunch of eclectic, eccentric and chaotic pensioners who also have their own, sometimes very deep and serious, problems.

There are many subplots running through the novel but you will never lose the plot or feel confused – oh no, they made the novel so much more deeper, entertaining and thought – provoking. Yes, it brilliantly incorporated some more serious issues, and I’m not only thinking about grief and loss but also looking at loneliness, domestic abuse, mental health and cheating, handled with gentleness and sensitivity.

I can’t say that this book was as exceptionally wonderful as the author’s debut novel “The Flatshare” (this is the book I talked about in my B2 German exam, we were supposed to choose a topic and talk about it, and yes, I’ve chosen the one about my favourite book, and well, taking into consideration that I read over 120 books a year truly says something, don’t you think? Yes, I’ve got the best possible note in speaking, they couldn’t stop me talking about “The Flatshare”) but it was very, very close and in my opinion it fully deserves 5 big, fat stars – well, I at least didn’t want to miss a single word and I was absolutely, totally captured. But Beth O’Leary proved with her second novel that she can for sure write – moreover, she can write brilliant, refreshing books, that she has already found her unique, distinctive voice, and what have we all been reading before Beth O’Leary??? With this novel, she has really shown that she has found her place in our favourite genre and I (don’t want to sound ungrateful!) am already looking for her next offering.

“The Switch” is a book about love, family, loss and grief, friendship, stepping outside your own comfort zones and find the courage, and this all brilliantly intertwined with the lovely community spirit, that Beth O’Leary also managed to make special, genuine and honest without losing the feeling of a real tiny village where everybody knows everybody’s business.
It was heart-warming and uplifting and this kind of book when you want to read is as quickly as possible but you also don’t want it to end. I loved it, from the beginning to the end, it’s such a feel – good and uplifting read – highly recommended!

Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins / Blog Tour

Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

 

Publisher: Quercus 51763423._sy475_

Publishing Date: 2nd April 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers.

As Dee looks back over her time in the Master’s Lodging – an eerie and ancient house – a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.

But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why was Felicity silent?

Roaming Oxford’s secret passages and hidden graveyards, Magpie Lane explores the true meaning of family – and what it is to be denied one.

Rating: four-stars

 

Dee, a Scottish nanny, is being interviewed by the police about the disappearance of Felicity, an 8 – year – old girl she cares for. What makes the situation even more worse is the fact that Felicity is incredibly shy and selectively mute – she speaks only with her father and, only recently, with Dee. She has stopped speaking after her mother’s death and, bereaved and bullied, she doesn’t speak at school or with her stepmother Mariah, no matter how much Mariah tries.
Then Dr. Linklater comes into their lives – a House Detective, hired to unearth the house’s history. Who lived there before and do they have anything to do with the secret Priest’s Hole in Felicity’s room, a space she’s obsessed with, even though it’s forbidden for her?
And then Felicity disappears. What has happened with the girl? Was it Dee, with her own secrets? Was it Mariah, losing her coolness? Was it Nick?

I really started to wonder if Dee is a reliable narrator, especially after her secrets were slowly being revealed. On the other hand, I liked her, I liked her sense of humour and coolness, and I adored her emotional response to Felicity, for her to immediately understand what it is the girls really needs and giving it to her, while Mariah, much younger and obsessed with her business restoring wallpaper, and Nick, desperate to show the whole world he is the right person to be the Oxford Master, have totally neglected Felicity and her needs.

I’d say that it is rather a slow burner and I must admit that at the beginning I felt a bit annoyed with the pace – it was simply too slow, and there were so many mentions of maths, and gothic and Oxford and I simply wanted to know what has happened. However, then, there comes a moment that I found myself glued to the pages, I was not able to put this book away – I wanted to run through the pages to the end but I didn’t want to miss a single word, so emotionally powerful the writing felt. Yes, there were still moments that I could live without, especially the descriptions of the wallpapers, I really had no idea that this can be a thing, but also the references to the William Morris patterns in comparison to the Law’s artificial life were such a clever move! And altogether it was a brilliant, atmospheric read. In the end I really didn’t know who I can trust, I started to doubt everything though I hoped that the book is going to end the way I wanted it to end.

There are many creepy, unsettling moments in this story that take place at the house or even around Oxford, the way Linklater has told them was brilliant and giving thrills, and they all play a pivotal role in the unfolding events. Despite the somewhat slow tempo, the story is brilliantly written and actually it flows effortlessly. The author has such a way with words, her descriptions are vivid and she not only makes the characters feel alive, she also brings the setting to life. Lucy Atkins presents us with a great range of feelings and emotions that you can’t help but experience for yourself: anger at the neglecting Nick and Mariah, desperation, helplessness, sadness for Felicity – you’re going to immediately fell for this little girl, grieving for her mother and so alone and lonely.

Now, I am not so sure about the end, I think for me it is too ambiguous, I’d love to see it written black and white, I need my answers. Yes, it’s intriguing, yes, it leaves room for imagination and yes, it gives me hope but…I’d rather be told, but that’s just my personal thing. And I also felt there still some questions opened.

Altogether, “Magpie Lane” was gripping, fascinating and enthralling story that kept you guessing. There is sadness and nostalgia in this captivating and compelling psychological thriller. It’s full of family secrets and lies and characters who have all something to hide. It’s haunting and atmospheric and it shows how living in a dysfunctional family may affect all the living but also, hidden deep, deep down, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and there is a strong feeling of friendship and acceptance. Complex, disturbing and clever, I can highly recommend it!

 

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One Moment by Linda Green / Blog Tour

One Moment by Linda Green

 

Publisher: Quercus 43241094._sy475_

Publishing Date: 5th March 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Finn and Kaz are about to meet for the first time.

Ten-year-old Finn, a quirky, sensitive boy who talks a lot and only eats at cafes with a 5-star hygiene rating, is having a tough time at school and home.

Outspoken Kaz, 59, who has an acerbic sense of humour and a heart of gold, is working at the café when Finn and his mum come in.

They don’t know it yet, but the second time they meet will be a moment which changes both of their lives forever . . .

Rating: five-stars

 

Ten – year – old Finn Rook – Carter struggles at school, suffering at the hands of his classmates who make fun of his looks and the way he behaves. He only has one real friend, Lottie. 59 – year – old Kaz Allen is quirky, bouncy and fun – loving, even though life has never treated her in a nice way. She works in a cafe and cares for her brother Terry who has schizophrenia.
Finn and Kaz should have never met. But fate has other ideas. And this meeting, and a tragedy, is going to change their lives.

I must admit, I was a bit confused with the story as I was expecting another psychological thriller and I only realised a bit later that the book is different to the previous ones. I didn’t read a synopsis – I mean, it is Linda Green’s book, so no matter what she writes about is going to be captivating and thought – provoking, and yes, the story took me a bit by surprise, but quickly it also stole my heart and captured my whole attention, and I can tell you that I absolutely loved it. Every single word of it.

The characters are so well written – I have experienced all the feelings and emotions together with them. You want to hug Finn and shake his father. You want to tell Kaz that she’s absolutely rocking it. And the more you get to know them all, the more you empathise and like them. I enjoyed seeing how the lives of virtual strangers come together, I think Linda Green has done in a brilliant and clever way.
The story is told from Finn and Kaz’s points of view, in alternating chapters. Finn is different from other boys, and he realises it, and is suffering at school as other children are bullying him. It is only his friend Lottie and his mum Hannah, that he loves so much, that understand him and always support and comfort him. His dad Martin prefers rather cold approach, expecting from Finn all the things that he’s supposed to do and like – sit his SATs exams, like football. Kaz, who works in a cafe and looks after her brother who has schizophrenia, is such a special character! All of us needs such a Kaz in their lives – down – to – earth, seeing things how they really are and not afraid of telling how it is, but also compassionate and full of heart. The author has got into the characters’ heads and hearts and hats off for picturing the 10 – year – old Finn so brilliantly, for so wonderfully capturing his voice, letting us deep into his thoughts, allowing us to experience everything with him.

Also, the story alternates between “before” and “after”, and oh my god, I couldn’t wait to see what has actually happened before, but believe me, I regretted this. This turning point has changed everything and left me a sobbing mess. It may be a bit confusing at the beginning, especially as you, like me, think something totally different to this what has really happened but you’ll quickly get used to the changes in time.

I was drawn into this story, right from the start to the end. This compelling novel is incredibly genuine and brutally honest, showing clearly the unfairness and unreasonableness of benefits system, mental health care, “right” people at the “right” places which results in ignoring the real victims. I’ve honestly got belly ache from only thinking that those things are real and that people like Kaz and Finn must fight a battle every single day to survive.

The author writes with such a feeling about family dynamics, showing all the ups and downs of being in a relationship and having a child with special needs, but also about brother – sister relationship, about responsibility and how people try to do their best. It took me on a real rollercoaster journey of all kinds of feelings – I laughed, I cried, I nodded with agreement, I was incredibly angry, I felt hopeless. It doesn’t happen often, the more I appreciate what the author has done here.

“One Moment” covers such issues as bullying, mental health, poverty and unconditional love. Even though it is sad, it doesn’t feel depressing, it is also heart – warming with an overwhelming feeling of hope, and the kindness of some of the characters is so uplifting. Linda Green’s writing is tender and chatty, and she balances the sadness with many humorous moments, delivering a thought – provoking story. But be aware that it is a heart – breaking story, and this time I mean it, really. The end left me in pieces, literally. I cried and cried and couldn’t stop, and those were ugly tears, and I had to do whatever I could to not to wake my whole family up. It was so beautiful and so heart – wrenching. A book that shouldn’t be missed. Highly recommended!

 

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Make Do and Mend a Broken Heart by Katey Lovell

Make do and Mend a Broken Heart by Katey Lovell

 

Publisher: Quercus 48360470

Publishing Date: 9th January 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 260

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

When you know how, you can make anything from scratch, including a new life after love…
When Leanne and Richard bought a dilapidated old seaside cottage to renovate together as their forever home, their future was full of hope and promise.

But heartbreak was just around the corner: fast forward a few months and Richard is gone. With his death, Leanne finds herself stony broke, faced with an uninhabitable home and lacking even the basic skills to do it up herself.

With the help of the friendly woman who runs the library and the reluctant assistance of the man who works in the local hardware shop, the cottage is lovingly restored. But broken hearts aren’t so easy to fix… are they?

Rating: three-stars

 

Leanne and her husband are about to move in their dream house – but then something really horrible happens and Leanne is suddenly on her own, facing challenges she has no idea she’s strong enough to tackle by herself. The house needs a lot of tender loving care, not to mention tons of work and repairs, and the money is short – what is she supposed to do now? Abandon her dream of her having a house? Give up?

It was really a story about renovations and how they work, so if you’re planning a house move or renovation, you can easily be inspired by some of the ideas in this book.

The beginning took me totally by surprise, this what has happened and resulted in Leanne moving to her dream house alone was so shocking and sad, and I fell for her immediately. She took a lot of time to find herself afresh, and there were many moments that she felt so insecure but it was understandable, and usually such heroine would annoy me but Leanne was written with so much heart and feeling and it was impossible not to feel sympathy for her. I really enjoyed going on this journey with her, seeing her coming out of her comfort zones, and I truly wanted to give her a standing ovation for daring to do things that I – probably – wouldn’t dare by myself. So it turned out that she was brave and strong, even though she had so many weaker moments she didn’t wallow in self – pity, oh no, she still, after having a cry or two, rolled up her sleeves, recovered and continued – to live, hope and … yes, renovate!

I always love a story with a great community in it, and it was like this in the book, however it has also taken the community feeling to another level, a little too overdone. Except for one woman, who in the end of course improved herself, everybody loved each other and supported each other at every turn. I mean, nice, of course, but sometimes less is more? It doesn’t mean, of course, that I didn’t enjoy getting to know the characters, along with Leanne.

Sometimes the narration and the banter felt too woody, too forced, especially some of the dialogues, and there were really tons of descriptions of renovations, tools, sanding, painting and whatever you have to do to make your place beautiful. Some of the things happened very conveniently and altogether, things run very smoothly and are solved quickly and without any really big and life changing twists, and I’d love to see this plot a bit more ambitious.

As much as it is an entertaining story, there is this feeling of sadness and nostalgia to “Make Do and Mend a Broken Heart”, but they’re lovely and lovingly combined with hope and joy. It was a cosy, warm story, perfect for a winter evening in front of the fireplace that make you feel comfortable. It was an easy read, with straight – forward plot, so it’s not going to stay with me for long, nevertheless it was heart-warming and engaging book about community coming together, about friendships, trust and finding yourself.

The Secret Diary of Boris Johnson Aged 13 1/4 by Lucien Young

The Secret Diary of Boris Johnson Aged 13 1/4 by Lucien Young

 

Publisher: Quercus 48402307._sy475_

Publishing Date: 3rd October 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 176

Genre: Politics, Humour

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 28.05.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

**STRICTLY UNOFFICIAL**

‘Deliciously funny and highly impudent’ – Jon Culshaw
The newly discovered diary of Boris Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson, aged 13¼, provides a fascinating glimpse into how Boris, a lazy, bumptious and overweening child, comes to believe he should be Prime Minister. Along the way, we see him hone the techniques and persona that will one day hoodwink a nation.’

***

Extract from 13-year-old Boris’s TEN RULES FOR LIFE:

It’s not lying if you don’t bother to learn the truth. Many people – politicians, for instance – make the mistake of going about laden with facts and statistics. However, when studiously ignorant of the aforementioned, one may argue one’s case with total conviction.

A friend is just an enemy you haven’t yet made. Some say there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’. Well, I say you can’t spell ‘friend’ without ‘fiend’. No matter how dear your chum, you never know what sort of treachery they harbour inside. After all, there are many people who consider me a friend!

Rating:  four-stars

 

The book covers Boris Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson’s time at Eton College, probably already showing all of his true colours. He immediately found himself at home there, with all his privileges and not accepting “no” as an answer. As the class clown, his ability to make others laugh used to get him out of all kinds of troubles, and really, the trashing with the cane from one of the teacher who simply had too much is only an exception proving the rule.

The book brilliantly portrays Boris’s main personality traits and the way he honed them. Getting others to do as he wished must have been the easiest thing in the world for him, and I must admit, it may be a feature really worth an admiration. Other than that I couldn’t spot any changes between Boris here and then, arrogant, liar, showing an impudent lack of respect and bluffing his way all the way through. So nothing has changed really, no?

I loved the mentions of some other characters, such as the former Prime Minister David Cameron or Jacob Rees – Mogg, who used to attend Eton at the same time and whom our main character couldn’t tolerate, which led to some very amusing moments.

It was an undemanding, quick and entertaining read, rounded up with some illustrations that were equally funny. Maybe it was not the highest piece of art but it was for sure amusing and light read, whatever your political opinions. The title suggests that it’s going to be as brilliant as “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole”, apologies, but this comes to mind immediately, and while it was a light – hearted and hilarious read, we can’t compare those two books. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining novel related to current political situation that made me laugh.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

 

44017619Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 18th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 05.03.2020)

 

Synopsis:

Tiffy Moore and Leon Twomey each have a problem and need a quick fix.

Tiffy’s been dumped by her cheating boyfriend and urgently needs a new flat. But earning minimum wage at a quirky publishing house means that her choices are limited in London.

Leon, a palliative care nurse, is more concerned with other people’s welfare than his own. Along with working night shifts looking after the terminally ill, his sole focus is on raising money to fight his brother’s unfair imprisonment.

Leon has a flat that he only uses 9 to 5. Tiffy works 9 to 5 and needs a place to sleep. The solution to their problems? To share a bed of course…

As Leon and Tiffy’s unusual arrangement becomes a reality, they start to connect through Post-It notes left for each other around the flat.

Can true love blossom even in the unlikeliest of situations?
Can true love blossom even if you never see one another?
Or does true love blossom when you are least expecting it?

Rating: five-stars

but-i-needmy-girls

 

I really wasn’t sure how it’s possible that “Tiffy and Leon share a bed. Tiffy and Leon have never met” but it turned out that yes, it is possible. They are flatmates – with a twist. Leon needs some money to pay the solicitor, Tiffy needs a flat after her final break – up with Justin. Leon is in the flat only during the day, as he works night shifts at the hospice. Tiffy is in the flat during the evening and night, as she works in publishing as an assistant book editor. So they start to share a one bedroom flat and they never have to meet! That’s it! They start to leave post – it notes for each other about bin days, leftover food etc, but slowly those notes evolve into something deeper and more intimate. They start to have a connection. And then they meet…

You know it, when you had a feeling that you’ve simply clicked with the book, right? Well, I clicked with “The Flatshare”. This was an epic, beautiful, romantic love story that had this “something” that makes a novel absolutely outstanding for you. I started reading “The Flatshare” actually not knowing what to expect but hoping that it’s going to be something particularly beautiful, and I was hooked right from the beginning.

The characters in this book were immediately likeable and believable, and not only the main characters but the group surrounding Tiffy and also Leon’s family who added so much depth and perspective to this story. I loved Tiffy from the word go. She’s quirky, she’s smart and has brilliant one – liners, and simply feels human, especially as she has to overcome her personal obstacles. She’s trying to move on from her recent relationship and slowly comes to realise, how abusive it was, and the word gaslighting comes to mind here. I have kept everything crossed for Tiffy, I wished her all the best in the world and it was a real, real joy to see her growing in confidence in some matters.
And Leon as well. He’s a bit withdrawn, on the quiet side but he has so many valuable qualities. He’s currently campaigning for the appeal of his – presumably – wrongly convicted younger brother who is now in prison. And he’s also trying to track down the long – lost love of one of his patients in hospice. At the beginning I had some problems with the chapters told from Leon’s point of view, they were specifically written, but quickly I got used to his voice and was actually happy that he had this distinctive tone.

The idea with the post – its was ingenious. For the first few months of living together Tiffy and Leon communicate via notes left around the flat. They start with the dates of the bin days and leftover food but over time they start to pick up on each other’s moods through the little cues they leave around the flat: the half – drunk cups of tea or coffee, the unwashed dish, and slowly the correspondence gathers depth and intimacy. I loved how they open up to each other in their post – it notes, how honest they are and how attentive they are, paying attention to the smallest details.

The pacing was perfect, all the time there was something happening. The build up for the characters to meet was brilliant. It took its time but it was so necessary in my opinion, and it was so enthralling, this waiting for them to actually meet in person. I was completely invested in Tiffy and Leon’s lives. Beth O’Leary’s writing style is so, so vivid, chatty and charismatic.
The book was full of so incredibly funny moments, guys, they had me chuckling to myself, and as I am currently struggling a bit with my mental health it isn’t so obvious that something funny will make me smile. Well, this book did it, so already for this it deserves a standing ovation from me. But it is also very emotional – but not too wishy – washy – and it works perfectly well with all those humorous moments, scenes and witty dialogues. And the author handles the heavier issues with a lot of understanding and gentleness.
“The Flatshare” was an uplifting, charming and comforting novel. Actually, it has everything I have expected from it and much more and I can’t believe that it’s the author’s debut. It has a brilliant, likeable and believable characters, wonderful storyline that feels so fresh and unique. I loved it totally and I can’t recommend it to you highly enough!

 

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Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

 

40722212Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 21st March 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

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

 

Synopsis:

Maddie and Ian’s romance began when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America.

But when an accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, the years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of shocking crime.

But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?

Perfect for fans of The Woman in the Window and The Wife Between Us.

Rating: two-stars

 

“Beautiful Bad” starts with a frantic 911 call and it was a great opening, what with the bloody crime scene and the overwhelming feeling of tension. It then switches to 10 weeks before the murder and we are introduced to the main character Maddie who’s currently finding herself in the writing therapy after suffering a head injury and not being able to remember what has happened. She was told by her husband Ian that she’s slipped but the police believe that domestic violence was involved. And so we slowly learn how Maddie and Ian got to know each other in 2001 through her best friend Joanna – the narrative follows this relationship, as well as other significant events that happened in Maddie’s life and makes us ask many questions: why did Joanna always try to convince Maddie she shouldn’t get involved with Ian? Has Maddie really slipped or has there been more to this accident? And whose blood is it, on the kitchen floor?

The story is told from several points of view. Maddie is a travel writer specializing in the countries of Eastern Europe. Her best friend Jo is a relief worker – but I simply couldn’t buy this friendship, there were no warm feelings, no honesty, the relationship lacked in substance – and she introduces Maddie to Ian (who, I must be totally honest, am not sure, he was – a bodyguard?). Ian had visited many countries that we’d usually avoid visiting, seen things that we’d never want to see and this all has affected him in great ways – he was dangerous and aggressive and also addicted to alcohol. Nevertheless, there was an immediate spark between Maddie and Ian and when the story takes us to the present times we see that they’re married and have a son Charlie. However, their marriage doesn’t look like a bed of roses and all signs point to domestic violence.

My main problem was that I simply couldn’t connect with the characters and the plot. It felt as if the first – and very huge – part of this book was an introduction, and then came the sudden end that, at least for me, wasn’t that surprising. Yes, the writing style was beautiful and lyrical almost and it had me under its spell but I wasn’t hooked to the story itself. The characters were not likeable, and I know, you don’t have to like the characters to enjoy the book, of course you don’t have to, but here it simply didn’t work like that – I still need some kind of emotional depth, foothold, I want to be able to immerse myself in the story and characters’ lives, no matter if they’re likeable or not – and I missed this here.

There was a lot happening in this story but still it felt too superficial to me. I’ve never connected with the characters, haven’t been on the same wavelength with them and I mostly felt impatient with the way the story was built. It touched upon many heavy and difficult issues, and I always appreciate that, of course. There were lies, toxic friendship, secrets and also murder, and the author has presented us with the terrifying accounts of the civil wars in different places of the world as well. There were some twists and turns on the way but they didn’t blow me away – and honestly, the unravelling of all of them and the secrets has been overshadowed with presenting the reader with tons of information that, as it turned out, were simply not necessary. Nevertheless, it was interesting psychological story. It was descriptive, and written in a beautiful writing style, with complex – maybe too complex – plot and full of flawed characters. Even if it didn’t work for me it might be a perfect read for you, so just give it a go.

More Than a Feeling by Cate Woods

More Than a Feeling by Cate Woods

 

41213431Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 27th December 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

‘Cate Woods is laugh-out-loud funny and life affirming’ Closer. The second novel from Cate Woods, author of the laugh-out-loud bestseller Just Haven’t Met You Yet.

In her twenties, Annie Taylor was sorted: she had her dream job, an amazing social life and was happily single. She had bags of confidence and played up her likeness to a young Barbra Streisand in turbans and winged eyeliner. Annie knew exactly who she was, and her future looked bright and full of adventures.

Life, however, hasn’t turned out quite how she expected. Now 33, Annie is living with her boyfriend Luke and is a stay-at-home mum to their baby daughter, Dot. The promising photography career has petered out, and with it her confidence and creativity. And when Luke does the unforgivable, Annie finds herself suddenly, terrifyingly, on her own. With the help of her group of loyal friends, Annie faces the challenge of building a new life for herself and Dot – while at the same time trying to reconcile the glamorous, carefree Annie of old with the knackered mum-of-one she sees in the mirror today. Is old Annie gone forever, or could this finally be the chance to find herself once more?

Rating: three-stars

Annie Taylor lives in London with her partner and their four – months – old daughter Dot. She used to be a fashion photographer and spent her time between work and partying. However, this changed after a family tragedy. When she thinks she’s come to terms with her life and plucks up the courage to be happy, she finds out that Luke has been cheating on her. Annie leaves, and now it’s a question of what it is she wants to do with her life – get a job, find a place to live, rediscover the old Annie…?

The characters were relatively well drawn, though, to be honest, I didn’t feel any connection with them. The way Annie changed, from the colourful, wild and free bird into the cautious, prudent person after her parents died didn’t feel too natural, and I really had a feeling she doesn’t feel comfortable in her own skin. It took her a lot of time to eventually realize what it is she wants, however all the dilemmas and wondering and comparing the Annie from then and the Annie from now simply didn’t sit with me and they didn’t correspond with Annie. It was as if the death of her parents was simply an excuse, though I’m not sure from what. I also understand there must have been the will they/won’t they cat and mouse play, to make the story unpredictable and excitable, but oh my word, guys, I beg you… Half of the book was about Annie wondering what to do, even though it was obvious what she should do and what Luke is up to.

The story felt very repetitive and slow, I eventually found myself skim – reading, skipping passages to finally arrive at some action. I also had a feeling that the author has just tried too much, with everything – characters that in the end turned out very stereotyped, with plot that didn’t bring anything new, with humour that unfortunately felt much too forced and didn’t make me laugh. I couldn’t wait for Annie to FINALLY, EVENTUALLY make up her mind, at anything at all. The way she always hoped everything will sort itself out till the next time was annoying – she was 31years old, for God’s sake, you can’t live avoiding confrontations or hoping that all the bad or uncomfortable things will melt away in the air. So sadly, very sadly, I didn’t enjoy this book as I hoped I’m going to, and Cate Woods’s debut novel “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” was much, much better. But the book altogether was not bad, oh no, guys, don’t get me wrong. It was funny, it had its moments, actually when I couldn’t sleep last night I’ve remembered something from the novel that made me smile, and the author is a brilliant story teller, she writes in a vivid and descriptive way and she delivered a light – hearted story full of your usual trials and tribulations, ups and downs. The plot felt tired but there was a lot of potential and I am already looking towards Cate Woods’s third book.

 

Darling Blue by Tracy Rees (re – post)

Happy publication day, Tracy!

Darling Blue by Tracy Rees

 

39289997 Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 1st November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 576

Genre: Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback 

 

Synopsis:

Blue lives a charmed life. From her family’s townhouse in Richmond, she lives the life of luxury and couldn’t want for anything – well, on the surface at least.

Then on the night of her twenty-first birthday her father makes a startling toast: he will give his daughter’s hand to whichever man can capture her heart best in the form of a love letter. But Blue has other ideas and, unwilling to play at her father’s bewildering games, she sets out on her own path to find her own destiny…

Rating:  four-stars

“Darling Blue”, set in 1920’s London, follows the story of three women – Blue, Midge and Delphine and their families. It starts at Blue’s 21st birthday – her “coming of age”, when her father announces that the possible suitors should woe his daughter by letters. While marriage is not what Blue is looking for at the moment – she’d rather focus on her career as a writer – she’s horrified. But what is done is done and what is said is said and soon Blue receives a few letters that are going to change her life.
Soon after her birthday she meets Delphine, who has escaped a very abusive marriage – she never wants to return to her previous life but is it possible? However, no matter what, Blue and her family takes Delphine under their wings.

Tracy Rees takes us again on a journey in the past, in a different time – zone again. This time it’s Richmond in London in 1920’s and, as usual, she presents us with beautiful, vivid and rich descriptions of the setting, the weather, the clothes and she easily captures the atmosphere of the times, and she pays a great attention to deatils and has a great eye for them. It was, on the surface, a light – hearted story with lovely and kind characters, but deep down touching upon some serious issues, such like bullying or post – natal depression. To be honest, such depth and seriousness really surprised me, especially after the light beginning, but Tracy Rees has already got me used to the fact that she’s not afraid to write about some more sensitive stuff.

This book follows stories of three different women. Blue’s real name is Ishbel and she’s adored everywhere. Her stepmother Midge has problems of her own and she has a huge secret. But as much as you could think it’s going to be about Darling Blue, it equally focuses on the lives of Midge and Delphine, and it was a great move, to be honest, as those two women add tons of significance to this book. In my opinion, they were simply better developed and rounded than Blue, although please don’t get me wrong, she was also an interesting character that had something to say, and her desire to work and be independent was adorable. On the other hand, she was a little too self – absorbed and I had a feeling that she likes when the whole world is running in circles around her. But there was enough empathy in her, she was a great friend and open person and it was not hard to like her.
But altogether I only had a feeling that the characters were just too simple for such an author as Tracy Rees – they were either perfect and incredibly kind, or awfully unpleasant, and sometimes this just felt unrealistic.

Basically, it was a story about one year in a family’s life, though a very turbulent one. Mostly, it was well paced though there were some moments that if dragged a bit. Also, as much as I love a happy end, here it left me feel a little insatiable as the actions of one of the characters were forgotten quite quickly and quite easily, and she was welcomed back to the family without a word, and it was this little bit unrealistic, non – credible and little bit rushed, and I also had a feeling that maybe the author didn’t have a better idea how to solve this particular subplot? Also, as much as I appreciated the mysteries in this book, I quickly guessed what was going to happen. I also had a feeling that there was a very long build – up to them and then, when it finally came to the revelations, it was too rapid and not dealt with, just done and forgotten.

“Darling Blue” is a book that isn’t mostly about actions and events but mostly about characters, feelings and emotions. They are written in a gentle and captivating way that makes the pace bearable and I was actually glued to the pages – yes, waiting for something to happen, as I could feel with my whole body that there is something going to happen, but at the same time perfectly entertained by the distinctive voices of the characters. It was a great historical fiction about family, love, friendship, grief and forgiveness, with a great sense of period and written in a beautiful, colourful and detailed way that is going to sweep you off your feet for a few hours. While “Amy Snow”, Tracy Rees’s debut novel remains still my favourite of hers, I can say that with “Darling Blue” she’s following closely. Recommended!

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