The Matchmaker by Catriona Innes

The Matchmaker by Catriona Innes

 

Publisher: Trapeze 44563587._sy475_

Publishing Date: 14th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

For Caitlin Carter, love means business.

She’s taken matchmaking back to basics. There is no swiping left. No creepy location tracker. Definitely no unsolicited pics of areas of the anatomy literally no one wants to see. She’s made dating great again: personal, patient… and profitable. Her startup is going from strength to strength, the brand her very own happy marriage (her wedding went viral), and now she even has celebrities wanting to use her services.

Caitlin is living the perfect life.

Except it’s all a perfect lie. And Caitlin doesn’t know how long she can keep it up.

In an era of social media and dating apps, when we have never been more connected yet more isolated, the matchmaker is a story about love, loss and loneliness, and learning to accept your reality.

This is an emotionally charged, funny and warm novel, perfect for fans of THE MAN WHO DIDN’T CALL by Rosie Walsh, SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL by Giovanna Fletcher and IT STARTED WITH A TWEET by Anna Bell.

Rating:  three-stars

 

Caitlin Carter is a matchmaker, and she’s perfect for this job, usually depending on her gut feeling when matching people together and usually having right! She simply wants to share love, happiness and joy that she herself shares with her husband Harry. But while everything is well on the job – front and it even attracts celebrities, Caitlin is, in fact, hiding the truth about her marriage, worrying about the reputation of her business.  

The characters were well written, however I couldn’t connect with them. Also, I couldn’t understand, for example, what was the point of adding the Instagram influencer subplot, she was so unsympathetic and in the end, well, it didn’t add much to the story, right?

Altogether, right from the beginning, there was something missing from the story for me. I think my main problem is that I was expecting something totally different – a light – hearted, lovely story with the promised humour. However, it turned out that the book is rather sad, sometimes even depressing and I didn’t get any of the positive vibes that I was hoping for. Also, I think that keeping the “secret” a secret for so long was not the best idea. Yes, I was wondering what has happened with Harry, has he left, betrayed, run away, went on a journey around the world on his bicycle, no idea, but eventually it started to feel too flat, you know? There was no tension, no interest more and Caitlyn’s actions and reactions stopped making some sense. Sure, I’ve guessed what has happened, and this time it turned out I was right but to be honest this revelation didn’t have any impact on me. On the other hand, after the secret becoming an open case, the book focused only on this part and it felt as if I was reading two different stories.

 “The Matchmaker” touches upon reality and the unfairness of life, not too light but also not too deep. I am really sad that it didn’t wow me, that it didn’t work for me as much as I hoped but it doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t work for you – I’ve seen also raving reviews of this book. Actually, I’ve notice people are in two minds about this story, while some says it was full of emotions and feelings the others state that it lacked in those features, and unfortunately I belong to the latter ones – but I mean it’s because of my own expectations and however clichéd it sounds, book – it’s not you, it’s me.

Things Can Only Get Better by David M. Barnett / Blog Tour

Things Can Only Get Better by David M. Barnett

 

Publisher: Trapeze 46019524

Publishing Date: 14th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: General Fiction (Adults)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

*FROM THE INTERNATIONALLY BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF CALLING MAJOR TOM*

For elderly churchwarden Arthur Calderbank, there’s no place like home. His home just so happens to be a graveyard.

He keeps himself to himself, gets on with his job, and visits his wife everyday for a chat. When one day he finds someone else has been to see his wife – and has left flowers on her grave – he is determined to solve the mystery of who and why. He receives unlikely help from a group of teenage girls as he tries to solve the mystery, and soon learns that there is more to life than his little graveyard.

Set during the 1990s, Things Can Only Get Better is an uplifting story about the power of a little kindness, friendship and community for readers who enjoy Sue Townsend Ruth Hogan and Joanna Cannon.

Rating: five-stars

 

“Things Can Only Get Better” is a story about a group of truly unlikely friends who found each other rather accidentally. Arthur is a pensioner whose wife, Molly, died seven years ago but he still didn’t let her go and ended up living in the old chapel in the middle of the cemetery, becoming its caretaker and being not too far away from the love of his life. Arthur is very protective of the cemetery and is not happy with the neighbourhood children who dare to use it as a short – cut, or – even worse – a hung – out. In the meantime, someone has been leaving flowers on Molly’s grave on her birthday for the past few years and Arthur is determined to find who it is. But with this happening in the night and his deteriorating health, the teenagers promise him to help to catch the mysterious visitor. A unique bond is formed between Arthur and the kids and soon they find themselves in a few different battles – together.

You can’t help yourself but immediately fell for the characters. My heart went to Arthur and I was desperate to know what has happened to him to be leading such a solitary life, and then to the kids, seeing them growing up, their determination and their blossoming friendship. The author has breathed fresh air and life into them, and into the book, showing us a much bigger picture, showing that each story has different sides. You’ll end up willing the characters to succeed. Each of the four teenagers has their own story that is incredibly captivating and I loved how much focus they brought back into Arthur’s life. Their difficulties in fitting with the “cools” at school was so authentic and brutally honest. The way the kids were portrayed was heart – breaking, especially the way they were perceived by their school – mates, neighbours and other members of society They were all outcasts at their school because they didn’t fit the “description”, they found the courage to be different and have dreams, and hence they were judged by their teachers who didn’t believe they have a chance for a better future (and if you hear already at school that the only thing you can do is work as a secretary or at the factory, well, it’s not too promising and optimistic, right?), judged by their parent’s choices of life and really, it seems that nobody sees/doesn’t want to see their potential – except for Arthur.

When I started reading this book, I immediately fell in love with it. There was this “something” that made it feel so outstanding and special, the characters were like living and breathing people, and the story was heart – breaking and also humorous, and the more you read, the more you fell in love with it. However, I must admit, that somewhere around the middle, it lost its impact a little and started to drag on a bit, but it was still a compelling, addictive read.

Mostly the novel is about social inequality and about stereotyping and determination, about grabbing life by its horns and squeezing it like lemon. It also touches upon bullying, homelessness, mental illness, loneliness and other social issues with a great sensitivity, so I wouldn’t be afraid to give this book to my teenage child should I have one, as it deals with those issues, and with all the plotlines, in a brilliant, wise – but not too wise, you know what I mean? Not too patronising, not too I know everything better – way.

“Things Can Only Get Better” made me cry, laugh, made me angry but also filled me with hope with its warm glow. Ultimately, even though there is a lot of pain, disappointment and problems under the surface and the characters have to deal with many challenges, there is humour and moments of joy and it has the wonderful feel – good factor to it. It’s deeply moving and very close to life, a brilliant read that I highly recommend.

 

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The Girl He Used to Know by Tracy Garvis Graves / Blog Tour

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracy Garvis Graves

 

Publisher: Trapeze 42170561._sy475_

Publishing Date: 8th August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

Rating: four-stars

 

In the early 1990s, Annika and Jonathan were together at the University. They got to know each other at the chess club – a place where Annika felt relatively safe. She used to get anxious in social situations and chess club felt always the same and she didn’t have to engage into conversations. One day she’s supposed to play against Jonathan, and he starts to see her in a different light than others. They eventually start dating and everything runs smoothly, until one day when something happens that tears them apart.Fast forward ten years and Annika lives in Chicago, working her dream job at the library. Shopping at a grocery store, she runs into Jonathan and slowly they start to get to know each other again. But will they be able to sort the past out? To move on? 

I adored Annika and I loved to see her growing, finding herself and accepting herself. She is altruistic, kind and honest, and maybe she doesn’t understand the world around her completely, but she knows what falling in love is. The wonderfully blunt observations of hers are so true to life and genuine, she was simply strong, brave and loyal. Her best friend Janice is another winner in this story, the kind of bad ass best friend that we all need in our lives, and I loved her patience with Annika, the way she explained her the world and it was so great to finally see a girl supporting another girl, and not bringing her down.

The story is narrated by Annika and Jonathan and it worked really well in this book, as we get two points of view, often on the same situation, and it gives us a really great insight into how their minds worked and what made them tick. Each chapter has a date but I must admit that I only cottoned on why it is so important at the end of the story, when THIS happened. Gah. I really didn’t see it coming and while I also didn’t find it necessary, I was OK with it. We watch their love unfolding, and I must say this feeling was so pure and raw and genuine, and I liked it so much because they were not playing games, they simply followed their instincts and feelings – it was so different to all the will they/won’t they stories, felt like a breath of fresh air. Although I must admit that I wasn’t so sure of Jonathan’s feelings, let me explain why – we were all the time left with a feeling that it was Annika’s fault that they broke up with each other, and for me Jonathan was fully accepting this, however, when it was eventually revealed what has happened it became clear that it was as much his as Annika’s fault, and he let her blame herself all the time, and I simply didn’t find it brilliant. For me he was like yes, ok, let’s try again because it suits me and I forgive you for what has happened. And it really seemed Annika has invested much more in the relationship, that she loved him more. But please, don’t get me wrong here, he WAS a loving, caring person and Annika tried new things with him, she was founding her courage with him – but it was really Annika that made the story for me.

The writing style is flowing and it feels so lyric and Annika’s voice is so special and distinctive, with all her feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and emotions brilliantly captured by the author. It was as if the author has got into her characters’ heads and I found myself engrossed in their lives. I would only like the end not to feel so rushed and abrupt after everything that has happened in the book.

“The Girl He Used to Know” is a story about taking your life in your own hand, compelling and sensitive. It was so much more than a second chance romance, there was much more depth to it and it touched upon many serious issues but in an accessible, gentle way. A captivating tale of love and acceptance – truly recommended.

 

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The Escape Room by MeganGoldin / Blog Tour

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

 

Publisher: Trapeze 44293962._sy475_

Publishing Date: 25th July 2019

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thriller

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.

In the lucrative world of Wall Street finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie and Sam are the ultimate high-flyers. Ruthlessly ambitious, they make billion-dollar deals and live lives of outrageous luxury. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to get ahead.

When the four of them become trapped in an elevator escape room, things start to go horribly wrong. They have to put aside their fierce office rivalries and work together to solve the clues that will release them. But in the confines of the elevator the dark secrets of their team are laid bare. They are made to answer for profiting from a workplace where deception, intimidation and sexual harassment thrive.

Tempers fray and the escape room’s clues turn more and more ominous, leaving the four of them dangling on the precipice of disaster. If they want to survive, they’ll have to solve one more final puzzle: which one of them is a killer?

Rating:  four-stars

 

Four co – workers from a high financial firm in Wall Street are summoned to a meeting that is supposed to be a team building exercise, a challenge that they’ve been told is compulsory. Even though it’s after hours and they have their own plans they actually know that something like “after hours” doesn’t exist in their world and so they all show up. So now they are all about to enter an elevator that in a matter of seconds is going to turn into an escape room, but not an ordinary one. Locked there over the next few days they are slowly working out why they are here but still have no idea who has entrapped them.

The author has created really well – developed characters, with Sam, Sylvie, Jules and Vincent being your typical Wall Street financiers, even if they’re not likeable characters. In fact, they are simply awful. They’re intelligent and hardworking, and while those are not bad things, they’re also ruthless, selfish, greedy and liars. They always put work first, no matter what’s happening in their private lives and they can’t, in fact, really make a use of their luxury apartments because they don’t have time, so sucked by the adrenaline that comes from making those billion – dollar deals. I didn’t like them, but I liked that we were slowly allowed into their lives and learn why it is them that found themselves in the escape room, as the story is alternating between the present day chapters in the elevator and past, told by Sarah Hall, a former employee in the same firm as our four Wall Street wolves.

Slowly we get to learn who is controlling the elevator and why and I really liked this reveal – the author has managed to outmanoeuvre us and even though I had my suspicions, they seemed impossible. The final confrontation is made impossible by the author and I think that maybe I would like to have it? But then the end should be totally different, and here I think that maybe, just maybe, Megan Goldin has simply chosen the easier way to finish the book. Personally I think that I’d rather see the characters somewhere else, held accountable for what they’ve done.

My copy was unfortunately almost impossible to read and I thought I will have to simply put it down but I preserved, as the plot kept me interested, and then I discovered what it was – all the “fi” and “fl” were missing, and it took me some pages to understand that “y” means “fly”, “rm” means “firm” and “gure” means “figure” (figure. Really. I think that figure was every second word in this book. Everybody has been “figuring” something all the time and I thought I’m going to start to shout when I see this word once more). I know it’s not the author’s fault but when I receive a review copy I’d rather expect it to be readable.

It was a read with a difference, and as much as mostly it seemed unrealistic, I totally enjoyed it and I’ve read the first half in two hours – would read further but life got in the way. It was provocative, but also thought – provoking and I think you simply have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy this novel – then it’s going to keep you glued to the pages.The author has brilliantly captured the atmosphere of distrust, the toxic environment and ghosting in the world where money and power is everything, and she described all those power games in breathtaking way. The feeling of anticipation and something hanging in the air (and no, I don’t mind the elevator) is ever – present, and the events that start as a small snowball begin to take the size of an avalanche. Megan Goldin has created a novel that brings to life the real world of corporate finance, a world that I never could be a part of, full of greed, lies and secrets. Highly recommended!

 

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The School Run by Helen Whitaker / Blog Tour

The School Run by Helen Whitaker

 

44024870._sy475_Publisher: Trapeze

Publishing Date: 8th August 2019

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

Number of pages: 336

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Two mothers. Two best friends. One school place.

Old friends, Imogen and Lily realise they are both applying for a school place at St Peter and Paul’s Infant School – one of the prestigious schools in the area. Their daughters, Enid and Winnie, quickly become the best of friends.

The two women have led different lives since their cohabiting days of hangovers, unsuitable boyfriends and wild nights out.

But from faking their beliefs to bogus breakups, as competition heats up, the two women will go to any lengths to get their daughters in to the perfect primary school. And so will all the other mothers.

my-review

 

Lily and Imogen (and many other parents) are desperate to get their daughter to the highly appraised St. Peter and Paul’s school, but it isn’t too easy – you have to live at the right address, show your dedication to the school and its beliefs, be a devoted church goer and those are only few of the things they’re ready to go. But won’t they forget, among all of those little wars and school – gate politics, what’s really important?

 I’m a sucker for any school run and not – so – yummy – mummies stories so I was probably the first in the virtual queue to sign for this blog tour. This book was, just like I hoped it’s going to be, brutally honest, and oh my, I’ll never stop wonder about all those school – gates politics, the tension, bitching and frenemies. It’s really stressful and I’m lucky that my daughter goes to school by bus, so I can avoid all of those above mentioned. However, with this book, I’m not so sure what it wanted to tell us, what was the story – yes, I know, about getting a place at school, but other than that? I missed more depth to it and consistency. But I, of course, appreciate what the author did with her story, touching upon so many burning and actual issues of being a parent, no matter if working/non – working, juggling life and job with trying to give your child the best future possible, and the book was just like real life, full of hopes and disappointments. 

“The School Run” introduces us to a great number of characters but it’s really easy to follow them all and to know who is who and to whom they belong. Lily and Imogen are the main ones, in fact, they used to be friends but they haven’t seen each other for a long time so when they meet again dropping their daughters at school maybe their friendship has a chance of reviving? Their lives are not gardens full of roses and I sympathised with both of them, though I actually never warmed to any of them as much as I thought I’m going to, no particular reason why. There is also, of course, a group of “Organic” mums, led by Yasmine, who doesn’t feed their children any chocolate because of sugar of course. But no matter who you are, who your group is, how old are you and what’s your job, the author shows that parenthood is a hard job for all of them.

It was a genuine, honest and fast – paced novel about friendship and realising what is really important in life. Helen Whitaker’s writing style is refreshing, chatty and engaging and the story she tells make you nod when you realise that you’ve been in some of the situations at least once in your life.

 

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