The Lying Room by Nicci French

The Lying Room by Nicci French

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 44182513._sy475_

Publishing Date: 3rd October 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 02.04.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

*** THE BRAND NEW STANDALONE NOVEL FROM THE MASTER OF PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE ***

Neve Connolly looks down at a murdered man.
She doesn’t call the police.

‘You know, it’s funny,’ Detective Inspector Hitching said. ‘Whoever I see, they keep saying, talk to Neve Connolly, she’ll know. She’s the one people talk to, she’s the one people confide in.’
A trusted colleague and friend. A mother. A wife. Neve Connolly is all these things.
She has also made mistakes; some small, some unconsciously done, some large, some deliberate. She is only human, after all.
But now one mistake is spiralling out of control and Neve is bringing those around her into immense danger.
She can’t tell the truth. So how far is she prepared to go to protect those she loves?
And who does she really know? And who can she trust?
A liar. A cheat. A threat. Neve Connolly is all these things.
Could she be a murderer?

Rating:   three-stars

 

Neve Connolly is a married graphic designer, household’s provider, as her husband does work from home but no money is coming in from him. Between this, work, her three children, lack of money, Neve injects some unexpected thrill into her life by having an affair with her boss. Once she receives a text from him, in which he asks her to meet in his flat. Only, she finds him dead on the floor, most likely killed with a hammer. In her panic to protect her family from the consequences of her infidelity, she cleans – up the flat to remove all traces of her. And then the waiting starts – was she able to eliminate the evidence? Did she forget something? Yes, she did! She left something in the flat but when she comes back, it’s gone – as well as the hammer!

It was a difficult book, I still – after a bit more than a week after finishing it – am not sure how I feel about it. It started really good and I was truly invested in Neve’s life that was a real drudgery and I felt for her and her situation, then the discovery of Saul’s body, but then the story went downhill, with monotonously describing every single detail of Neve’s life in a tad flat style. There was actually not a lot happening, and the whole atmosphere was one of depression and desperation, and the credibility of the story was… rather doubting. I mean, I think that police should really solve the case in a few hours. The characters were also not too likeable, I had troubles to warm to them and it didn’t happen, and I missed more about the whole thing with Mabel. Neve herself was supposed to be incredibly friendly and warm, everyone wanted to be her friend but I never got why – there was actually nothing in her indicating these attributes. The ending of the book, ie. finding the murderer, it also didn’t sit well with me, I don’t know, I had a feeling that the author has simply lost an idea and took this character, out of the blue, to be the killer. No, I didn’t guess who did it, but the final reveal made me go “erm, what? How come?”

I missed emotions in the writing style. It felt so polished and pedantic, with the author paying a great attention to all of the details, to the point that it was too monotonous, but without feelings, very object – focused. The plot development is immaculate and the tangled web of deceit, lies and revenge is neatly interwoven into it but it is simply to clinical.

It was a story full of lies and misunderstandings, with a few turns and twists but it missed the mark for me. This was my first book by Nicci French but I’ve heard so many great fantastic things about her books, and so I thought, here I am for a treat. And at the beginning it was like this – a shocking, captivating start but in the end there was too much that didn’t work me, sadly.

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Living My Best Li(f)e by Claire Frost

Living My Best Li(f)e by Claire Frost

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 45718284._sy475_

Publishing Date: 5th September 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

~*~ This heart-warming and funny novel is the perfect balm for the Insta-weary mind ~*~
Bell
had it all, the perfect job, the perfect partner, and on their 10th anniversary she thought she would get the ring… But two weeks later, Bell wakes up to find herself still clutching a wine bottle and the memories of Collin saying those dreaded words: ‘We need to talk…’

Determined to get on with her life before she hits 40, Bell starts following ‘inspirational’ people on Instagram. Her favourite lifestyle guru is @mi_bestlife, whose life seems Insta-perfect but if you were to zoom out of the heavily filtered picture, you’d see reality strike.
Millie is a single mother, with a cute son called Wolfie, whose father is absolutely useless and not much on the scene. Instagram and the profile she has built up online is more ‘best lie’ than ‘best life’. It isn’t until Millie and Bell’s paths finally cross that the two women begin to understand what is real and what it is that they really want.

Rating: three-stars

 

“Living My Best Li(f)e” follows the nearly 40 years – old Bell and a little younger Millie. Bell’s relationship of ten years has just fallen apart and she’s in a slump, and seeing the glamorous and wonderful lives of other people in social media obviously doesn’t help. That is, until she meets Millie, who is social media influencer. Her Instagram feed, with photos of her gorgeous son and brilliant clothes, provided with “hashtag blessed”, is unceasingly popular. The two women instantly click and they form a strong friendship.

I’ve been waiting impatiently to read this book and was over the moon the receive my review copy few months ago and started to read it immediately. However, sadly, it turned out that it wasn’t for me. I had a feeling that it simply is a book out of thousands of others, with nothing really special to make it unique. I really liked the concept – we all know we shouldn’t believe in everything we see online but still, we so easily like to get sucked into the glamour of social media – the idea and potential were there but it lacked in development and execution. There were also too many subplots for my liking and none of it was treated with enough depth.

I didn’t warm to the characters, to be honest, not sure why, they just simply didn’t work for me and I didn’t find them too believable. Bell is about to turn 40 and thinks her life is running smoothly, until the moment her boyfriend decides to leave her after many years of being together. Millie is in her mid – thirties and is a single mother, after falling in love with a football star Louis and then realizing that he’s the most unreliable father in the world (but who names their child Wolf?) Millie is also the so – called influencer, showing her followers world full of expensive dresses that she has to return to the shop because she can’t afford them, and lovely photos of Wolf before he throws a tantrum, but nobody must know this, right? There were also background characters, but they were too absent from the story for me to remember them. The friendship between Bell and Millie happened so quickly that I had a feeling that I’ve missed something.

All the sub plots were so easy resolved and things happened very conveniently, and also very unexpectedly, like the problem with the community centre that appeared just like that, out of the blue. The storyline was a rather predictable one however I liked the writing style and the message hidden between the lines.

Nevertheless, it was a heart – warming, uplifting and easily written story with many important topics running through it, touching upon love and hope, heartbreak, bullying, loneliness. However, even with those heavier topics, it still stays a feel good story with a friendship in the background and a feeling of belonging and togetherness. There is also the message in regards to social media, and it’s really nice that the author has picked it as a guiding theme of her debut novel.

If You Were Here by Alice Peterson / Blog Tour + Extract

Alice Peterson has let us wait two years for her new book but guys, the waiting was so worth it! She’s back with another cracker, heart – wrenching but also uplifting story that I loved from the beginning to the end. Thank you so much Alice for having me on the blog tour, it’s always such an honour! Today, next to my (a bit gushing, even if I say so myself) review, I also have an extract from the book – enjoy!

 

If You Were Here by Alice Peterson

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 44589427

Publishing Date: 22nd August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

‘I can toast to my future, but the thundercloud over my head, the threat of a storm, will follow me like a shadow wherever I go. The truth is, I have a potential bomb in my bag, and who knows when or where it will go off’

When her daughter Beth dies suddenly, Peggy Andrews is left to pick up the pieces and take care of her granddaughter Flo. But sorting through Beth’s things reveals a secret never told: Beth was sick, with the same genetic condition that claimed her father’s life, and now Peggy must decide whether to keep the secret or risk destroying her granddaughter’s world.

Five years later, Flo is engaged and ready to pack up her life and move to New York with her high-flying fiancé. Peggy never told Flo what she discovered, but with Flo looking towards her future, Peggy realises it’s time to come clean and reveal that her granddaughter’s life might also be at risk.

As Flo struggles to decide her own path, she is faced with the same life-altering questions her mother asked herself years before: If a test could decide your future, would you take it?

An emotional, inspiring and uplifting novel about living life to the fullest, IF YOU WERE HERE will break your heart and put it back together. The brand new novel from the acclaimed author of A Song for Tomorrow, perfect for fans of Hannah Beckerman, Dani Atkins and Jill Mansell

Rating: five-stars

 

“If You Were Here”, another life – affirming story by Alice Peterson, introduces us to three generations of women. Peggy lost her husband to Huntington’s Disease, after years of caring for him and watching him deteriorate, both mentally and physically. Her daughter Beth, who we hear from through her diary entries after learning that she’s dead, following a road accident 5 years ago, was aware that her chances of inheriting the disease was fifty – fifty and who has done the test but kept it in secret, and who has been left in turmoil, not being able to decide if/when to tell about it her own daughter. And Flo, twenty seven years old, loving her life, setting to move to America following her new fiancé there. However, her life is shattered after discovering that her granddad and mother had Huntington’s Disease, and what consequences could this information have for her: she could also be a carrier and must decide whether to take the test telling her her fate. Flo is about to learn, not only about her family, but who her real friends are and, most importantly, about herself and her limits. 

Let me tell you right at the beginning – it was a beautiful, realistic story that had me hooked from the first page – I couldn’t put it down, to be honest, and was cursing life getting in the way, as I didn’t want to leave the characters’ world for a single second, and you’ll also not want to put the book away. 

The story is told from three perspectives, from Flo, her grandmother Peggy and through Beth’s diary entries, and I loved each of the voices, so strong and so distinctive. Alice Peterson’s heroines are always inspiring, and Flo is not an exception. It was heart – breaking to see the battle the two women, Peggy and Beth, had to endure, wanting to protect their beloved Flo, never finding the right time to tell her the truth, filled with mixed feelings and emotions. They were all so brave and strong, had their ups and downs, made wrong decisions and they simply felt so down to earth realistic, as well as the background characters. Each of them experiences the disease in another way but all of them are affected, and the author gives us a wide and deep glimpse into it. The feelings and emotions jump out of the pages, you laugh with the characters and you cry with them, I’ve kept everything crossed for them all and simply lived their lives together with them. Great part of this book focuses on heartbreak and guilt of not telling the truth, but you never judge the characters for it, you simply start to understand them and their choices, as the author gives them their own point of view. I loved how much the characters in this book supported each other – boy, you need such a group of friends and family in your life even when life doesn’t challenge you!

 It was again a book that made me think, and there were many moments when I found myself wondering, but especially one scene made me so pensive, when the first research study led to the possibility of real HD treatments in December 2017. Flo and Beth, sobbing on the phone with joy, their friends sharing the news – it actually gave me  goose bumps. For me it was such a normal day, I’ve probably haven’t even apprehended the news, and for people like our characters, and for real people all over the world, it is life changing information, giving hope. Here I am, sitting and enjoying my good health with exception of few bumps perhaps, not appreciating it enough, and here they are, crying from joy. I’ve been constantly asking myself what would I do if I were in the characters’ shoes, what decisions would I made, and I still am not sure. I was always thinking that I would like to know what future is going to bring me but now, after reading the book, I am really not certain. Actually, I am torn. Would I change the way I am if I knew I have some genetic disorder? Or would it make me back away from life? It really isn’t an easy decision to make!  

I totally loved the way the author has chosen to tell about all the pros and cons of being tested to find out if you have Huntington’s. She isn’t judging but she allows us a deep glance into all the possibilities, describing how many feelings and emotions are involved in it, how, in fact, hard and difficult decision it is. It so much depends on the person itself, while many live their lives without the need to know, there are others who simply must find out what fate has in store for them. Also, how much this decisions affects family and friends – written with so much understanding, gentleness and heart. 

The writing is, as always, beautiful but not too sentimental, and I loved it. It is also full of humour and the way the author balances it with the more poignant moments is absolutely perfect. It’s written with compassion and sensitivity, right from the heart and the amount of research that went into this book is clear, and I love the fact that Alice Peterson has again found a case to raise awareness of. She writes with such warmth and love, care and empathy and the novel, even though touching about serious issues, feels chatty and uplifting, even when she tells things how they really are, not sparing us any details about the facts and reality of HD.

“If You Were Here” was full of hope. It’s this kind of novel that make you look at the world differently again, start to appreciate all the little things again. The telling is so rich and vivid, oozing in feelings and emotions of courage, faith and strength, also showing the great importance of having the right network of people around you to help you get through the most difficult times. I loved every single moment of it and will be highly recommending right and left!

 

EXTRACT:

Prologue

Peggy

 

July 2012

 

I clutch the letter, my hand shaking.

Deep down I always knew. I was just waiting for Beth to tell me, gearing myself up to be strong for us both all over again.

There were times when I sensed she was distant and anxious. Often I wondered why my daughter hadn’t married since any man would have been lucky to have her by his side. Yet I allowed myself to believe her excuse that she simply hadn’t met the right person, that she wanted to focus on her art, her teaching career and being a mother to Flo.

I have skated around the subject for years, too much of a coward to ask the question I dreaded the answer to. I locked my fears in a box and threw away the key, instead forcing myself to believe she’d escape the odds.

Looking back over the pas few years, I was beginning to notice signs, small things, like Beth forgetting our regular weekly call. Once, she locked herself out of the house and had to drive over to get my spare set of keys. I was determined to put it down to her being scatterbrained. Yet there was this persistent voice inside my head.

She could have it.

A voice I chose to ignore.

I look down at the letter once more.

It would kill me.

I wish now with all my heart that I could take back those selfish words. All I wanted was to protect Beth – and myself – from further pain.

I wipe the tears from my eyes.

Right now, I’d give anything to be able to hold my daughter one last time and tell her how sorry I am for letting her down. And what I wouldn’t give to be able to ask her the questions I need answering now like never before.

Did she ever intend for her daughter Flo to see this letter? Maybe, in the end, Beth agreed that none of us should know our future, that we’re better off letting fate take its course.

I can’t tell my granddaughter.

She is far too fragile, not only to discover that this has been kept a secret from her, but to understand the impact it could have on her own life. She is grieving for her mother and it’s taking every ounce of her strength just to get through each day. Showing her this letter would only rake up the past and make Flo fear her future. Yet the decision to keep on hiding the truth doesn’t rest easy either.

I tear a small corner of the letter, tempted to rip it into shreds and pretend I’d never seen it.

I wish in so many ways I hadn’t.

If I show Flo the letter it could break her heart. But if I don’t . . .

What a fool I have been to think that the past never catches up with you.

1

Flo

 

Five years later

 

As I walk down Fifth Avenue, to the mystery place where I’m meeting Theo tonight, I think back on the past week, wishing  Ididn’t have to pack my bags and return to London tomorrow, back to my job and familiar oldroutine.

My boyfriend Theo has been based in New York  for  sixmonths.

‘Long distance relationships can work, Flo, if we see it as an opportunity,’ he’d said, when he broke the news that he was needed over here for a year, possibly more.

And he was right. There is something magnetic about this city. It buzzes with energy, like a party that never stops.The first time I flew over to see Theo, we visited all the major sights and did all the things you’re supposed to, like taking a trip to the top of the empire State Building and hopping on a ferry over to Staten Island. Now I’m happy to do my own thing, whiling away the hours with my sketch- pad in Central Park, or finding hidden gems off the beaten track, like the original piece of the Berlin Wall I discovered in a small plaza at MadisonAvenue.

Each time I visit – mainly for long weekends – Theo takes me to a new exhibition or restaurant that has justopened.

Nothing stays the same here. Nothing stands still.

And everything is so tall. Theo works in just one of the thousand dazzling skyscrapers that grace the Manhattan skyline.

I dodge out of the way of a group of tourists taking pic- tures of the empire State Building. Another thing I love about this place is it keeps me fit. There’s no point hailing a cab and spending a fortune sitting in traffic. Everyone here walks for miles.

As I continue down one of the most famous and elegant streets in the world, I think of Granny, hoping she’s all right.  It’s the anniversary of Mum’s death today and it’s the first time we’ve spent it apart. When I called her earlier this evening, she told me she was fine and that she’d laid some flowers on Mum and Granddad’s gravestone and would later light a candle.

I promised to light one too.

In many ways Mum’s death feels a lifetime ago, but in others as if it were only yesterday. What tormented me most is the fact I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye. My last conversation with her was over the phone, while I was at the airport in Venice about to board a plane. I was blissfully happy in a steady relationship and I’d just been offered a job designing sets for a small theatre company in Copenhagen. The only problem was my scatty old mum.

‘What now?’ I’d snapped, annoyed at having to repeat the conversation we’d literally just had about what time my plane landed and whether I’d be home in time for supper.

I never saw her again.

I didn’t even tell her I loved her.

That’s what I miss most: picking up the phone to talk to her; hearing her voice.

Her death had seemed so avoidable.One moment she was alive, but the next . ..

‘It was an accident,’ Granny had stressed. ‘A tragic accident that makes no sense.’

Losing Mum will be the hardest thing I’ll ever go through. At one point I didn’t even want to live, oblivion seemed preferable. Idon’t know what I’d have done without Granny picking me up and piecing me back together again, especially when her grief must have been just asraw.

I can’t tell you when I began to feel less broken. I don’t recall a turning point. All I know is that food began to taste of something again. Slowly I noticed the sunlight streaming through my bedroom window. I heard the birds sing. My steps began to feel lighter.

And then along came Theo.

We met eighteen months ago in the business lounge at Gatwick airport, when I was heading out on a work trip to southern Spain. I was busy stocking up on all the food and glossy magazines the business lounge had to offer, when I sensed someone watching me. Discreetly, I turned to see an older, fair-haired man drinking a cup of coffee, a flicker of amusement in his eyes. Everything about him spelt success, from his designer suit to his leather briefcase and expensive watch. I returned to my seat, thinking he must have been looking at someone else, or recalling a funny joke he’d just been told.

But then he approached my table.

‘Theodore Holmes,’ he said, sitting down opposite me,as if it were the most natural thing in the world to introduce oneself to a stranger. Before I could say a word, he continued, ‘I don’t know your name yet, but what I do know is I’m going to spend the rest of my life withyou.’

It’s not often I’m lost for words. I felt out of my depth, and as if he could read my mind he leaned closer towards me and said quietly ,‘Listen,I’m sorry to come on so strong. You don’t have to agree to spend the rest of your life with me just yet, but how aboutdinner?’

He handed me his business card. We parted with a hand- shake, almost as if we were in a boardroom.

‘Deal,’ I was tempted to say.

For the next few days, I imagined our perfect first date with flowers and champagne, the conversation flowing freely, the evening ending with a romantic goodnight kiss. When I returned home, however, I began to lose my nerve, that little voice of doubt creeping in.

After Mum died, I broke up with my long-term boyfriend and I hadn’t been in a serious relationship since. Ifelt out of practice.

As if he’s really going to be interested in you, Flo. It meant nothing. He probably says the same thing t oevery woman he meets and he won’t even remember you.

But despite that voice in my head, I couldn’t throw away his business card.

James – my flat-mate and best friend’s brother – looked him up online with me one evening afterwork.

‘Good-looking,’ he said when we saw a picture of Theo smiling broadly into the camera, ‘but knows it.  Mind you, I’d be smiling like that too if I had his teeth and his bankaccount.’

James is a vet, which, according to him is ‘not a job you do for the money’.

He urged me to give Theo a call. ‘What’s the worst that can happen? It’s one night, and if he’s a knob, move on.’

I smiled. James always had a way with words. Anyway, I took his advice and called.

Theo picked up instantly, and when I said my name, asking nervously if it was a good time for him to talk, he replied, ‘I’ve been waiting for days. ever since I first set eyes on you.’

I was still hesitant to go on a date. I wasn’t sure I trusted his smooth talk, but I listened to James again, who told meI hadnothing to lose except one evening of takeaway, Netflix, and James’s charming company.

On our first date, Theo booked a table at a restaurant on the 32nd floor of the Shard, and over dinner I discovered he left school without any qualifications, but through hard work and self-belief he was now CeO of a company called ASPIre, one of the biggest global marketing agencies in the world.I tried to ignore that little voice again that wondered why he’d want to go out with someone like me, a mere travel agent, when surely he could have the pick of anyone in thisrestaurant.

When Theo asked me for a second and a third date, that voice stillwouldn’t go away. I kept expecting something to go wrong; I was waiting for the fall. Yet my fear has been pointless, and after eighteen months together that little voice has almost disappeared.

Almost.

I rummage in my handbag to retrieve the note Theo left on my pillow this morning, with the exact address of where I’m supposed to meet him.

‘It’sasurprise,’he’dinsisted.He’sawareit’sMum’sanniversary today and wanted to do something to honour it, so I suggested we do something fun: drink cocktails, go to a nightclub and dance until the early hours of themorning.

‘Mum loved dancing,’ I said. ‘She used to dance in the kitchen and sing in the shower.’

I told  him I wanted to remember all the happy times we’d shared and celebrate her life tonight, because for the first time in five years I haven’t only been thinking about Mum today. This morning, when I woke up in Theo’s apartment and read his note, I realized that time does slowly heal, and that right now, despite everything, I am truly happy.

As I arrive I see no sign of a restaurant or bar. I glance at my watch. It’s past seven o’clock.

Theo’s late. He’s never late.

For a split second I feel uneasy. I wish I knew why he was being so secretive. He knows how much I hate surprises. But my worries vanish the moment I see him across the street, and soon I’m in his arms, welcoming his kiss.

‘Are you ready?’ he asks.

‘Ready for what? Where are we —’

‘Trust me,’ he says, a smile spreading across his face as he holds his hand out towards mine. I know more than most how happiness can be taken away from us as quickly as it was found. But I know,too,that it’s time for me to let go of my past and trust in my future once and for all. It’s what Mum would have wanted.

I take his hand.

Maybe I’m allowed to be this happy without a catch afterall.

 

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Last Orders at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn / Blog Tour

Last Orders at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster43537210

Publishing Date: 8th August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 455

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The brand new novel from Holly Hepburn, author of A Year at the Star and Sixpence, perfect for all fans of Cathy Bramley and Jenny Colgan.

Roaring fires, cosy nooks and friendly locals, welcome back to the perfect village pub… 
It’s September and the new season is bringing change to the village of Little Monkham. Nessie has moved in with the lovely Owen and his son Luke, leaving her sister Sam next door in their renovated pub, the Star and Sixpence. But is all change for the good? Sam and Joss have gone their separate ways and he’s left Little Monkham for good.
New chef Gabriel Santiago is causing a flutter among the women of the village but Sam is determined not to make the same mistake again and keeps things strictly business between them. But an inconvenient attraction to Gabe is the least of Sam’s worries when an unexpected visitor arrives at the Star and Sixpence. Who is Laurie Marsh and what does he want from the sisters?

Rating: five-stars

 

“Last Orders at the Star and Sixpence” is the follow up to “A Year at the Star and Sixpence” and covers a year in the lives of Nessie and Sam. It takes us back to Little Monham and the lovely, atmospheric village pub. Nessie has moved in with Owen and Sam is staying at the pub but not alone, as the sisters have just hired the Michelin star chef Gabe. Nessie’s love life is stabilized but Sam’s not, and what with Gabe, who’s not only the top notch chef but is incredibly handsome, and lives in the pub as well… But after what has happened with Joss, Sam is cautious – or isn’t she? The sisters also discover a new member of the family – but is he the one he claims to be?

I loved being back in Little Monkham, with all the quirky, warm characters, it was great to see how they were getting on and what has changed for them. There were some better changes, there were some heart – breaking moments for them, but they were written in a way that I was experiencing it all together with them. I loved Nessie and Sam’s closeness and it was so sad to watch them experiencing all the things, not being able to open to each other when they went through really tough times. Gabe is not the only new character in the book, but in comparison to the other one he was absolutely adorable and I liked him from the word go, with him being a little snippy but nevertheless always fair and honest – which I can’t say about the other character, and I’m sure he’s going to make you pretty suspicious, just like me.
The community spirit felt even stronger this time, as the girls settled in the village, all rallying around each other – it was so heart – warming and nice to see.

The pub goes from strength to strength (just like Holly’s writing and storytelling!), it’s like a character of its own, and I loved all the events the two sisters were organizing. The pub itself was, again, so inviting, a lovely, cosy place to spend time, and it was even better at the end when Sam adopted a dog.

It was a wonderful, cosy and comfortable read – simple like that. Holly Hepburn has managed to capture the lovely atmosphere and the overall feeling of this book is so uplifting, and not all authors can write like this – there was this “something” that is so difficult to describe but that makes the makes outstanding and perfect. This time it was a real roller – coaster journey full of emotions, touching upon so many poignant, difficult but also much lighter issues – family, friendship, grief, opening to each other, lies and secrets, and this all wrapped up in vivid, rich descriptions. Holly has amazing way with words, and she captured all of the emotions in such a way that I suffered and enjoyed together with the characters. And the addition of Gabe was a perfect idea, though don’t read the book when you’re on a diet – his food sounded delicious! A gorgeous summer read – highly recommended!

 

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

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The Helpline by Katherine Collette

The Helpline by Katherine Collette

 

43833855._sy475_Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 30th July 2019

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

Number of pages: 304

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Humour

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 23.01.2020)

 

Synopsis:

Office life can be a minefield …

Germaine Johnson likes suduko, biscuits, maths and Chinese food. She’s less sure about the complexities of social interaction and her tendency to just say what she thinks often lands her in hot water. Unfortunately, after ‘the incident’ at Wallace Insurance, she finds herself unemployed.

When her cousin suggests a job at the local council, manning the Senior Citizens Helpline, Germaine really doesn’t have any other option than to say yes. It’s still social interaction, but at a safe distance. However, it turns out Mayor Verity Bainbridge has something more interesting in mind for her. A secret project to stop ‘the troublemakers’ at the senior citizens centre and their feud with the golf club next door. Germaine believes she is the no-nonsense woman for the job – until when she’s forced to get to know the troublemakers and things get more complicated.

Witty, big-hearted and hugely enjoyable, The Helpline is what you might get if you crossed The Rosie Project with Parks and Recreation. If you have ever wrestled with the world of office politics, this charming debut novel is for you.

Rating: four-stars

 

Germaine Johnson has a passion for anything that is mathematic related. What she doesn’t have a passion for is people. However, when she finds herself unemployed, she knows she has to take a new position on a senior citizens helpline. At least she doesn’t have to see the people she’s supposed to help, and almost immediately she also starts collecting data to minimise inefficiencies and to improve the effectiveness of the helpline. Then Mayor Verity Bainbridge singles her our for a special and secret project in the Senior Citizens Centre and through this role she meets Don Thomas, a handsome owner of the local golf club who reminds Germaine of someone she used to admire. She’s desperate to help the Mayor and Don but is it really just like the Mayor says it is? Can someone have hidden agendas?

I loved the idea of the book, where the author throws our main character Germaine, a senior mathematician who doesn’t “do” people too well, direct to the forefront of a senior citizens centre scandal, so actually to deal with people, and I loved the characters. Germaine, under the surface, is truly lovable, quirky and funny. I know she can perhaps come across as cold and indifferent but believe me, she’s quickly going to grow on you. Germaine might be somewhere “on the spectrum”, I think, though it’s actually never explained, but she could easily be a lost sister of Don Tillman, she has a touch of OCD, she’s naive and is often oblivious to social cues but she has heart in the right place. She’s very smart, however her EQ is rather weak, often tactless but all of those features simply make her a brilliant character to follow. And eventually she finds out what it is that’s important in life.
All the characters in this book are carefully constructed and brilliantly portrayed, and the author’s characterisations are full of warmth. The banter and interactions between them were believable and entertaining.

The diagrams and charts included in the book were the final touch, the icing on the cake and they were brilliant.

“The Helpline” is an amusing, dynamic and unique debut by Katherine Colette, and with tons of depth to it as well. The author provides us with plenty of amusement, lightness and fun but also her story is insightful and poignant. The further you go into the book, the more you’re going to enjoy it, and in the end I simply couldn’t put it down. I’m already looking towards Katherine Collette’s next release, her writing style is already strong, with a distinctive voice to it that immediately thrown me into the heart of the story, full of dry humour that I like so much. Recommended!

Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain / Blog Tour

Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain

 

42360579Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 30th May  2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life but her dreams are finally within her reach.

She’s moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, where she can indulge her passion for making preserves and pickles. She may not have the best relationship with her family but she is surrounded by loving friends, and feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior belies.

But the unexpected arrival of Poppy’s troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness and as the garden team works together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for …

Rating: four-stars

 

Poppy is new to Nightingale Square, though I have a feeling that she’s not new to the residents of the Square, that all of them know and love her. Jacob is also new, but he’d rather keep himself to himself. Poppy works at the local greengrocers and creates all kinds of yummy sounding food. When her teenage brother Ryan suddenly appears in her life as a “full – time job”, Jacob offers to help Poppy to take a calm and measured approach in helping him coming out of his shell. Poppy takes this offer, as she was desperate to coax Jacob into joining in with the community garden.

“Poppy’s Recipe for Life” was not my first book by Heidi Swain but my first journey to Nightingale Square (yep. Apologies. From the bottom of my reading sofa. I have the other book but haven’t read it yet, must have been living under the rock) and as much as I had a feeling that the characters know each other really, really well, that they share a history and background, I didn’t feel left out, as if I was missing on something, so this is already a bonus point for the author and the book, to make it so inviting and drawing me straight into the heart of the story. Have I just written the longest sentence ever?

At the beginning the book reads just like your normal book, it was a nice story but on the average level, but then there came a moment, and I’m not even sure when it has happened, that the story started to feel totally different, more eventful and somehow I found myself not being able to put it down. Poppy was such a lovely character, caring and hard working and she always wanted all the kindness in the world for other people – but it didn’t make her feel too meh, no she was determined and passionate and she never gave up. Which could also be annoying but that was the way she was, so take it or leave it. The other characters, the inhabitants of Nightingale Square, were all so friendly and welcoming and no, it also didn’t make them feel too weak, they all had their own personality and distinctive voice. They supported each other and welcomed all new people with open hands, even the troubled Ryan, they understood the reason he was like this and it was so great to see them all help him to come out of his shell.

It was a lovely, heart – warming story about families, relationships, community spirit, friendship, trust and forgiveness. And gardening – don’t forget the gardening. But no worries guys if you, just like yours truly, don’t have green thumbs (I can kill every single plant in the world. Except for my orchids. No idea how I’m doing THIS), the gardening in this book is important but not too overpowering and overwhelming. And, to be honest, I’ve always admired those who can plant something and enjoy the results. Admired and envied. So altogether, “Poppy’s Recipe for Life” was a charming, lovely and cosy read with this so difficult to grasp feel – good factor. It was a tad predictable, yes, but it didn’t bother me too much, as it was full of other benefits and quirky characters, and the author has given a brilliant insight into their lives, really bringing them all to life, and the sense of community and the friendship were simply great. Recommended!

 

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

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If You Could Go Anywhere by Paige Toon

If You Could Go Anywhere by Paige Toon

 

41149815Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 16th May 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The brand new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Paige Toon. The perfect summer read for 2019!

Angie has always wanted to travel. But at 29, she has still never left her small mining town in the Australian outback. When her grandmother passes away, Angie finally feels free to see the world – until she discovers a letter addressed to the father she never knew and is forced to question everything.

As Angie sets off on her journey to find the truth – about her family, her past and who she really is – will enigmatic stranger Alessandro help guide the way?

Rating: five-stars

“If You Could Go Anywhere” introduces us to Angie, who always wanted to follow her mother’s footsteps and travel all over the world. She was known in the town as the one always asking people “if you could go anywhere, where would you go?” However, the circumstances didn’t allow it. Angie lives in Coober Pedy in Australia, a mining town, where her grandfather used to work before he died in an accident. Angie was left only with her grandmother, as her mother also died, shortly after giving birth to her. Her plans to travel have been delayed after her grandmother fell ill and Angie had to look after her. After her death she discovers something that is going to change her life and her whole world and prompts her to set forth on her first travel to Italy.

I confess, I’ve never heard about Coober Pedy and its people living in the dugouts. To be honest, I couldn’t imagine it, people living in caves, I mean, how? But of course people’s best friend Google was very helpful, and I’ve spent a fascinating few hours surfing through different pages and looking at photos of the dugouts – they are not only homes but there are hotels, churches, swimming pools… everything! Have learnt something new again, and it’s a brilliant feeling.
Also, the whole fictional community in Coober Pedy was simply great. They stick together, they support and they know everything about each other but not in this nosy, patronising way, no, it’s simply because they care. It was crystal clear how much Angie means to all of them and how much they mean to Angie.

Angie is such a straightforward characters, and I think it is due to the fact that she has spent all her life in Australia. But it doesn’t mean that she’s naive or silly, oh no, she’s a lovely and clever girl who took the opportunity and learnt a lot from people from all over the world who came to work in the mines. I loved her fresh look at the world, at her enjoying everything in such a fresh, genuine way.
Alessandro was another matter. I must admit that at the beginning I liked him much more than at the end. Sure, I know where he was coming from, I understood his feelings, and his secrets were heart – breaking but simply, this dark side of his just didn’t sit with me. This blowing hot and cold – yes, I know he didn’t want any commitments, he didn’t want to hurt anybody but did he think it through that being like this he does hurt people? Nevertheless, he was a complex and complicated character, just like I like it best.

I really enjoyed the fact that Paige Toon takes us on the tour through Roma and other parts of Italy, and that we can admire them through the wide – opened eyes of Angie but it was not too touristy – hope you know what I mean. Sometimes authors focus so much on describing every single thing in towns, on discovering the hidden places that you have a feeling it’s not a story but a tourist guide. Well, with this book it was not the case. When we near the end, the story significantly gains momentum. I don’t mean that it was slow – paced, because the pace was really great, there was all the time something happening, but because of the art of the events it felt like a roller – coaster ride at the end. It made your heart palpitate as you know that there is not much time left and you can’t be sure of the outcome.

It was a beautiful and romantic journey full of feelings and emotions. A magic story about learning to let go and to trust again, about friendship, family bonds and forgiveness. The extra bonus was the gorgeous setting of Italy and the brilliant and spot – on descriptions of the Italian family, big and loud and full of heart for everybody. I must admit that this time the story and the writing style reminded me a little on Karen Swan and her novels that I simply adore, there was also the element of mystery in “If You Could Go Anywhere”. Paige Toon also deals with the issue of mental health and of feeling guilty, and she does it in a great, gentle way, and I really appreciate the fact that she decided to write about this topic, it’s important and too often ignored, so hats off to the author for this – and I so liked the fact that this time it was a male character with the mental health problem, the author showing that the men can also be vulnerable, that they have feelings and that they can suffer for so long, and that it’s even harder for them to do something, to open up, to confess. I don’t know why but I have a feeling that this book is somehow a little bit serious in tone that the previous novels by Paige Toon. I mean, they were always dealing with serious issues as well but this time it just deals with such deep and pulling at the heart strings issues – another brilliant work from Paige Toon that I highly recommend!