The Woman Who Wanted More by Vicky Zimmermann

The Woman who Wanted More by Vicky Zimmermann

 

42732506Publisher: Zaffre

Publishing Date: 30th May 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Two lonely women. An unlikely friendship. And one big life lesson: never be ashamed to ask for more . . .

No woman dreams of being unceremoniously dumped and moving back in with her mother on the eve of her 40th birthday. Food technician Kate Parker’s first response? Denial, long days under her duvet and bucket loads of cheesy pasta.

A reluctant Kate finds herself volunteering at the Lauderdale House For Exceptional Ladies. There she meets 96-year-old Cecily Finn – spiky and sharp as a pin, but the spark has gone out of her. She has resigned herself to the imminent End.

Having no patience with Kate’s self-pity, Cecily prescribes her a self-help book with a difference – it’s a 1957 cookery manual, featuring menus for anything life can throw at ‘the easily dismayed’. It promises the answers to essential life questions: ‘what shall one give to one’s rich aunt Emma that will be palatable but not prodigal; to one’s husband’s managing director, at once memorable and modest; one’s old love’s new love; the man one hopes will stay on after dinner; the man one hopes will not …’.

Can Kate find a menu to help a broken-hearted woman let go? If Kate moves forward, might Cecily too?

The cookbook holds the secrets of Cecily’s own remarkable and heartbreaking story, and the love of her life. It will certainly teach Kate a thing or two.

So begins an unlikely friendship between two lonely and stubborn souls – one at the end of her life, and one stuck in the middle – who come to show each other that food is for feasting, life is for living and the way to a man’s heart is . . . irrelevant!

Rating: five-stars

 

Kate Parker is rather happy with her life. She has been in the same job for years and she thinks she enjoys it, and she has a great relationship with Nick, who not only can brilliantly cook, but also asked her to move in with him. But first there is THE trip to France, and it doesn’t go according to the plan and Kate finds herself unsettled, wondering what she really wants from life and this relationship. Between wondering and moving back to her mum’s place, Kate starts to volunteer at a local old people’s home – Lauderdale House for Exceptional Ladies – doing cooking demos and getting to know 97 – year – old Cecily, who takes no prisoners, doesn’t mince her words and tells how it is. Despite all of this, they soon form a special friendship that is going to change Kate’s life.

I absolutely adored how the author created Cecily – you know that I am not in awe of the older, wiser characters that usually should make the book better, knowing everything and sharing their wonderful life experiences in a gentle, patient voice but in the end make them feel really wishy – washy, too overdone and all sugar, but here the character of Cecily was simply perfect. A woman with rough edges and character, really having something to tell. She was inspiring, bold, sharp and still felt believable. The banter between Cecily and Kate, and the scenes including them, were hilarious, especially after Kate stopping to fear Cecily so much and showing that you shouldn’t mess with her as well. Sharing her own life story, Cecily wisely, albeit sometimes very straight – forwardly, gets Kate to question her own life and decisions and pushes her to figure some things out, to find her own worth.
I think it was hard to make Kate such a nice character, when she has Cecily next to her, because everyone, compared to Cecily, would simply loose the battle. However, the author has managed to pull it off and I liked Kate from the very beginning. Sure, she made me feel desperate, I wanted to bang her head on the wall and simply I couldn’t forget her moping in her mother’s spare room, thinking about Nick and hoping to get back with him but she was likeable and believable in things she did.

The author, who is also knows as Stella Newman, has created some wonderfully sounding menus, for all circumstances, even though some of them were, hmmm, uncommon? But the descriptions made my mouth water, and they were so easily and vividly brought to life. Double pasta? Anytime!

The writing style is simply great, adapted to the situation. It’s light – hearted, but it also beautifully describes some more poignant moments and they were truly heart – breaking. The author immediately pulls you into the heart of her story, the pacing is just right, and I had a feeling that Vicky Zimmermann didn’t have a plan for her characters, she simply allowed them to take the lead and let them to continue and unfold the story. Which is probably not true but it felt like this and it made the reading even more better for me.

“The Woman Who Wanted More” was a tribute to Cecily Finn, so well deserved. It’s going to leave you glowing with warmth, perfectly mixing food, love and friendship. This was a comforting, thought – provoking, sharp read but with a feel – good factor to it, and yes, mostly it was funny, or making me feel desperate towards Kate or Nick, but it also made me cry a little. Charming and delicious read, perfect for holidays!

 

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin

 

36044566Publisher: Zaffre

Publishing Date: 2nd November 2017

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts…

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

Curl up with this gorgeously romantic tale and let the glistening snow and the roaring fires of Stardust Lake Hotel get you in the festive spirit this Christmas.

Rating: four-stars

 

So guys,  Ms Martin has just done it again – effortlessly transported me to the beautiful town called Christmas and frankly, each time I came for a breath and looked around I was surprised to see there is no snow and asking where my Christmas tree is. I think Holly Martin is one of the best when it comes to describing places, to being able to transport her readers into her imaginary world and to feel a part of the characters’ world. Therefore I am promoting Holly to Queen of Christmas stories – she can probably describe this season in the best possible way!

Holly Martin belongs to those authors whose books I read without having a look at the synopsis first, simply because I know that I am for a real treat. So I didn’t know what to expect when starting reading “Christmas under the Cranberry Sky” and I was totally surprised by the gorgeous setting and the fantastic idea of placing the story on the Juniper Island, in a town called Christmas – already the names are gorgeous, inspiring and inviting and it is official that I want to live there. Holly absolutely sold this place to me, with the ponies running free and terrorizing the town (but in a sweet way, no? Just imagine those little Shetlands, with their wild manes looking at you askance – GORGEOUS!), or the reindeers with festive names, or The Stardust Lake Hotel itself – it’s decided, I’m moving there! Holly has put a lot of thought to create this place and following her descriptions of all the places I felt as if I am looking at the place through a webcam, such vivid and realistic they were. To say that she brought this place to life would be an understatement, to be honest, she has just created a real fictional town. I think that my favourite part was the Christmas market with all its shops – there was so much care put into every single shop that we visited, the items were described so closely and accurately and with a lot of heart and feeling and I. Want. To. Buy. Those. Things, Holly! And try the many different flavours of the chocolate fountain! There were probably as many shops as there were villagers and I’d gladly read a book only about them and the lovely, beautiful, well – thought and original things they were selling.

Next to the fantastic descriptions of the setting, the characters also made the book. Not all of them, I admit, but Piper for example was great. She had a really crappy past and I admired her, truly admired, she is a girl that deserves a standing ovation, that she got off safe and sound from all this mess and that she achieved something in her life and not slipped as a drug – addict or something. She also had the best job in the world, probably – travelling the world, staying in the most beautiful places. Yes, there was a disadvantage, as she didn’t have a place to call home, but she seemed really happy with the situation, and she was able to see things that I can only dream about seeing *jealousy alert*. She was great with people, she didn’t have any problems to make contacts with them and I loved how quickly she found a common ground with Wren, Gabe’s daughter – they were the best duet in the world.
I didn’t have any problems with Piper (maybe this little one. I know you can feel insecure and hurt and feeling like there is no one you can trust, but not having a boyfriend for twelve years? Having sex only once in your whole life??? Puh – lease!) but I sadly had some with Gabe. I don’t know, I’m not sure why, but somehow for me he was not the right one for Pip, she has deserved someone who was not so whiny and so uncertain, and Gabe really seemed not to know what he wanted. Sure, I know where he was coming from, what with his little girl needing a routine and stability, but this blowing once hot, once cold was for me unacceptable. He behaved like a child, all the time changing his mind, and he demanded from Pip absolute trust while he himself didn’t trust her. Hello? It was really like going in circles with him.

But altogether I truly loved this novel. It is a second – chance romance, it is about overcoming issues, it is about trust and forgetting about the crap past and looking into the bright future, and I loved how optimistic it is and when I came to the end I really didn’t want to part with this lovely Island. Already looking forward to reading the second book in the series, but in the meantime I highly recommend “Christmas Under the Cranberry Sky” to you!

Summer at Rose Island by Holly Martin

Summer at Rose Island

by Holly Martin

 

Publisher: Zaffre

Publishing Date: 13th July 2017

Series: White Cliff Bay #3

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 Synopsis:

Fall in love with the gorgeous seaside town of White Cliff Bay this summer and enjoy long sunny days, beautiful beaches and… a little romance.

Darcy Davenport is ready for a fresh start. Determined to leave a string of disastrous jobs and relationships behind her, she can’t wait to explore White Cliff Bay and meet the locals.

When Darcy swims in the crystal clear waters of the bay, she discovers the charming Rose Island Lighthouse. But it’s not just the beautiful building that she finds so intriguing…

Riley Eddison doesn’t want change. Desperate to escape the memories of his past, he lives a life of solitude in the lighthouse. Yet he can’t help but notice the gorgeous woman who swims out to his island one day.

Darcy is drawn to the mysterious and sexy Riley, but when it seems the town is trying to demolish his home, she soon finds herself having to pick sides.

She’s fallen in love with White Cliff Bay. But is that all Darcy’s fallen for?

Pull up a deck chair, sink back with a bowl of strawberry ice cream and pick up the summer read you won’t be able to put down.

Rating: four-stars

Aaaahh, the lovely Holly did it again – went and wrote a book that feels like your best friend, like your favourite blanket, like a cup of hot chocolate or a sunny day spent in the garden reading your favourite novel!
It was great to be back in White Cliff Bay and I had a feeling that I’ve never left this place to be honest, as Holly’s effortless storytelling threw me directly into the heart of the novel, together with some of my best friends. It’s somehow always comforting, this feeling, and the fact that you know that you’re going to feel immediately at home when starting Holly’s new book.
„Summer at Rose Island” is the third book in the White Cliff Bay series and yes, you can read it as a stand – alone novel, even though many characters from the previous books appear there, and Darcy’s neighbours are Libby and George, but I’d advise that you should read all the books in the series, from a very simple reason of missing too much of Holly’s brilliant writing, sense of humour and lovely stories.

And oh my word, guys, what can I say about Holly’s book that I haven’t said before? „Summer at Rose Island” is the best example of her writing. There were brilliant characters, exceptionally beautiful setting and also the author has touched upon some environmental important issues, writing about things that I’ve no idea about. But about characters. This time Darcy and Riley are the main ones and I loved the way Holly described them. Darcy is lovely, a people’s person, so she doesn’t have any problems to make friends with other people, and her first encounter with her new neighbours – Lilly and George – is bloody hilarious! Darcy is like a whirlwind of activity and whenever she is, something happens, and she often puts herself into awkward situations, as she’s verrrry accident prone. But this clumsiness, and that she always wants to get on people’s best sides and make them happy is what makes Darcy so lovely and likeable, I really immediately warmed to her. My heart also went to her because of the situation with her parents, who – saying that they were not thrilled with their daughter would be an understatement – they only criticized her and never supported her and underestimated her. No wonder that Darcy wanted to flee and start living on her own, so moving to White Cliff Bay, a place that she’d already known because of her late aunt, seemed like a great idea. Moreover, Darcy is a sea – person. She loves swimming and everything that had to do with water, well, she is a marine biologist and sharks are her passion, and thanks to her I’ve learnt some things about them that I didn’t have any idea before. So to be honest, romances and such were not on Darcy’s radar, but then enters Riley – a reclusive American living in a lighthouse – a beautiful lighthouse that means a lot to many of the White Cliff Bay residents but that is intended to demolition! But back to Riley, who’d rather keep himself to himself, that is, until he meets Darcy… I really, really loved how Holly described Riley! He was perfect, with his southern charm, with his „ma’am” – ing, cowboy shoes and big, big, warm and soft heart.

Holly Martin, as in all her books, makes sure that also in „Summer at Rose Island” her characters are colourful, vivid and different. I always love how she makes them full of passion and how she effortlessly sneaks new facts into her novels, here about sharks and sea life for example. The characters are always complex, exceptional personalities. But also she makes sure that the town is a character of its own and the way she has described everything was just spot – on for me and I could see the things and places clearly in my mind, the shops, the bay, the lovely houses, the beautiful lighthouse.

White Cliff Bay is a town where everybody knows everybody and their business, and even though it took Darcy a little time to get used to the gossip, she very quickly acclimatised there. It is my favourite kind of town, to be honest, not too big, and I think I would even do with the others knowing so much about me, because they were all so friendly and so welcoming, and they supported each other so much, even though the person being supported (yes, Riley, I’m talking about you) was so very reluctant. I liked how Holly thrown Darcy direct into the middle of the events happening at the town, and how the residents welcomed her, making her feel a part of their town immediately.

However, to be absolutely, totally honest with you, I am missing a little of this unique, exceptional sense of humour that Holly got me used to in her previous books, the one that had me snorting suddenly with laughter, frightening all around me. Don’t get me wrong, it was a humorous, light – hearted book, but I missed those moments that made me laugh out loud, so much that I was in stitches. And I also, personally, think that Holly’s book, as much as I love them, are very similar to each other, and sure, I love this similarity, as I know what I can expect, and I adore that I get this what I expect, and I really, truly treasure and value Holly so much and I just would love her to surprise me with such a book like her written under the pen name „Tied Up with Love” – and this is why this time I gave the book 4 stars, not my usual five. It doesn’t mean I didn’t love the book, it only means that I missed something special, something original – but please don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing, I am only telling my feelings.

„Summer at the Rose Island” is this kind of book that make you feel welcome and warm. It’s full of positive feelings, a gorgeous, charming story that is going to draw you immediately in. Holly Martin’s descriptions of everything she writes about, let it be characters, their personalities, dogs, nature or lighthouse are incredibly vivid and she brings this all so easily to life and makes me feel like a part of this world.
What I also so like in Holly’s novels, and what you of course gets in „Summer at Rose Island” is the fact that, of course, there is always the happy end (but this is why I love the stories so much, a girl is always after a happy end, right?), but the way to this happy end is not always so obvious and full of obstacles. This time these are mostly Darcy and Riley themselves who complicate the things oh so much, only because they are champions of jumping to conclusions and of not communicating. Really, the whole town knows, I know, everybody all around them knows that they are perfect together and only they don’t know it. I adored Darcy and Riley and I adored their stories, and the fact that it felt so honest and genuine, and that they both were so genuine with their feelings, with their awkwardness, that they were so realistic and not so polished because it made them even more relatable and likeable.
Altogether, another cracker from Holly Martin. You can be sure that when you buy a book by this author that she’s going to deliver: a gorgeous, realistic romance, characters that you root for and also swoon over brilliant atmosphere, and that you’re won’t be disappointed. „Summer at Rose Island” is a perfect summery read, a great holiday novel, so be sure to take it with you on your break! It is this kind of a book that makes you feel happy and you can be sure that you’re going to finish your reading with a big, happy grin on your face.

An Unsuitable Marriage by Colette Dartford

An Unsuitable Marriage by Colette Dartford

 

Publisher: Zaffre34035837

Publishing Date: 9th March 2017

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

Number of pages: 384

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

When the worst happens, could your marriage survive? A sharp and emotional novel of a family under pressure, perfect for fans of Joanna Trollope and Hilary Boyd.

Olivia always thought she had the perfect family life. A loving husband in Geoffrey, a thoughtful and intelligent son in Edward and a beautiful home in the Somerset countryside.

But all that changed when Geoffrey’s business went under. Now penniless and homeless, Geoffrey is living with his recently widowed mother, whilst Olivia has been forced to take a job as housemistress at her son’s elite boarding school.

Soon the cracks in the relationship start to show. And, increasingly desperate, Geoffrey makes a mistake. One that could have consequences for the whole family . . .

Rating: 3/5

I’ve read Colette Dartford’s debut novel “Learning to Speak American” some time ago and it was a steady, nice read so I really wanted to see how she managed with the dreaded second book. The synopsis to “An Unsuitable Marriage” is great, it sounds so chilling and I was sure it’s going to be a great read. However, this time, and I am sorry to say this, the story itself don’t do the synopsis justice. It’s not a bad read, not at all, and it has its moments, but it promises something that we, in fact, don’t get.

Olivia had everything – a doting husband, intelligent and talented son, Manor Farm house, money and no problems. But then her husband George goes bankrupt and everything in Olivia’s life changes – they find themselves homeless and with money troubles. So Olivia jumps at the chance of taking a place as a house parent at her son’s boarding school. Well, she doesn’t have a lot of choice, to be honest – either the job or living with George at his mother’s, and the two women never took to each other, and George has never stood up for his wife. As it usually happen, one trouble results in the next and there are really many problems on the horizon for Olivia and her family.

The characters were not the easiest to warm to – at least for me. However, while George seems to be stuck in the rut of living at home and finding new “hobbies”, at least Olivia is doing better, or she’s at least trying, she’s doing something. They are full of flaws, but that’s the thing that made them feel very realistic, however I had a feeling that there are too many flaws, especially in George. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if those two were anytime good for each other. I’m not sure if they loved each other, and they got married because of Olivia getting pregnant and George’s parents being so conventional and traditional. So there was really not much keeping them together when the things turned out the difficult way, or was there? They also felt too wooden and I’d love to get more into their emotions. Yes, they were convincing in the way they were and acted but they lacked the depth that makes the characters more realistic and more possible for me to relate to and to understand them better.

I think that what mostly disappointed me is what the author has done to one of the most significant characters. It was so sudden and unexpected and for me it looked as if Ms Dartford perhaps didn’t know what to do with her or how to finish this subplot. I mean, I didn’t like her, this character, I despised her to be honest but doing this what the author’s done just clipped my wings. I was hoping for more complexion, and it just seemed that the author has made her life easier, too the easy way out instead of trying to complicate the story and finish it in a different way. It was just as if she wanted to got rid of the problem, to remove her out of the way.

This book lacked in something for me, and I can’t put my fingers on what it was exactly, there just wasn’t any spark that makes the reading exceptional. It was not a bad book, oh my word, of course not, but it was also not the one that wow – ed me. It shows the real world, how real marriages work but it just didn’t capture my attention. I also all the time had a feeling that the book is set in the United States, even though it was set in England, but I just had the feeling that the setting, the descriptions of the places, the boarding school is too American. It also seemed to me that the author wanted to touch upon too many issues in her story. They were very important issues, such as betrayals, marriages falling apart, bullying and sexual abuse and while some of them were relatively well developed, most of them was rather brushed over. What was brilliantly written and captured in the best possible way was the boarding school and the dynamics between parents and students. The bullying doesn’t start at school, it starts at home and the author has really smartly smuggled those information on to her pages. It is rather sad that it works that way but it is the way that it really is, and, ultimately, children suffer while parents play their own games.

So “An Unsuitable Marriage” is a story about new beginnings and finding courage. While it was not my favourite read, please do try it for yourself because what doesn’t work for me may work for you! I am also already waiting for Ms Dartford’s next book, as I am really intrigued what she has in store for us next.

The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even by Anna Bell

The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even by Anna Bell

 

33784968Publisher: Zaffre

Publishing Date: 26th January 2016

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

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

‘Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella’. Another hilarious and heart-warming romantic comedy from bestselling author Anna Bell

When Lexi’s sport-mad boyfriend Will skips her friend’s wedding to watch football – after pretending to have food poisoning – it might just be the final whistle for their relationship.

But fed up of just getting mad, Lexi decides to even the score. And, when a couple of lost tickets and an ‘accidentally’ broken television lead to them spending extra time together, she’s delighted to realise that revenge might be the best thing that’s happened to their relationship.

And if her clever acts of sabotage prove to be a popular subject for her blog, what harm can that do? It’s not as if he’ll ever find out . . .

Rating: 5/5

“The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even” is one of the best titles ever, and when you read out loud it sounds even better – just try it! I love this alliteration – at least I think it is the name of the thing when every word starts with the same letter? Whatever, alliteration or not, if the book was written by someone else and had the same title, I’d buy it quick as a flash. That the author is Anna Bell is just a very, very nice bonus – with every new release her books are getting better and better and soon I will have to stretch out my rating to 10 stars because five are really not enough!

This book is a pure entertainment and every page has made me smile. I immediately warmed to our main character, Lexi. I loved her ideas of revenge, they were refreshing, unusual and totally entertaining, and if I weren’t so annoyed with Will I’d feel sorry for him, as he was so unsuspecting, and really, seeing how he’s wandering into the little web that Lexi has planned, just like an innocent lamb into a lions den, well… It made me really anxious to see what’s going to happen and what the outcome would be. Although I personally am not sure if I could live with such a boyfriend as Will was. There is being a sport fan and being a sport fan. I mean, I love many things in my life but I don’t just conveniently forget about everything or fake sickness to entertain myself. Although when reading reviews for this book I came across a few of them where their authors say that they know/live with such sport – obsessed Wills themselves, so as much as it was almost unbelievable for me, maybe it really happens in real life.

But I enjoyed every single second of this novel. Really. Following Lexi and Will around London and then Barbados was brilliant. I admired Lexi’s patience at fitting her life around Will’s game of darts (darts! I mean DARTS! I can understand football, and even cricket, especially when it is played on Barbados, but darts??? It is for me equally with cycling and bobsleigh on the boring – scale), and I really admired the fact that it took her so long to try and plot a revenge for her sport – obsessed boyfriend.

This book is written with such a natural way, with tons of natural humour, and it was flowing so effortlessly. There was such a great, positive vibe to this book and the feel – good factor, and I finished it grinning and feeling so warm inside. I love Anna Bell’s writing style so much, it’s warm, descriptive, vivid, bubbly and the way she tells the story is absolutely hooking. She has made out of this story an exceptionally good one. For me it was also not so predictable. I could never tell which way it’s going to go, what’s going to happen, what Lexi is going to plan, how far she’s going to go and if Will will eventually either spot something or go even further with his obsession. It was full of confusions and unexpected embarrassing situations and I loved it! This book, light, heart – warming rom – com, has really had it all: humour, romance, a little drama at the end, brilliantly developed characters and a storyline in which the main character starts to realise that no matter how much she loves her boyfriend, they must change something. Highly recommended!
And lovely Anna, thank you so much for the special “thank yous” in your Acknowledgements! Means TONS!

The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart by Anna Bell

The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart

by Anna Bell

 

Publisher: Zaffre Publishing

Publishing Date: 10th March 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 Synopsis:

A hilarious new romantic comedy for fans of Lindsey Kelk and Jane Costello from Anna Bell, the bestselling author of Don’t Tell the Groom. Abi’s barely left her bed since Joseph, the love of her life, dumped her, saying they were incompatible. When Joseph leaves a box of her possessions on her doorstep, she finds a bucket list of ten things she never knew he wanted to do. What better way to win him back than by completing the list, and proving they’re a perfect match? But there’s just one problem – or rather, ten. Abi’s not exactly the outdoorsy type, and she’s absolutely terrified of heights – not ideal for a list that includes climbing a mountain, cycling around the Isle of Wight and, last but not least, abseiling down the tallest building in town …Completing the list is going to need all Abi’s courage – and a lot of help from her friends. But as she heals her broken heart one task at a time, the newly confident Abi might just have a surprise in store …

Rating: 5/5

 

Oh guys, a new novel by Anna Bell! What a treat! As soon as I learnt that „The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart” is going to be published in March, I started to count the days to the publication day. I was lucky enough to receive a review copy, and as soon as I got it in my hands, I put everything away and started reading it – after reading Anna’s Penny’s books, this author is on my auto – buy list – I love her writing style, her humour and how effortlessly the stories go. And I am so glad to report that this brand new shiny novel is just the same brilliant as Anna’s previous ones.

First of all, I love the cover of this book. This blue colour is gorgeous, and I am a real sucker for such optimistic, girly covers. So there. Shoot me. Then the idea of this book is just brilliant, don’t you think? I love lists, as long as they are not mine and I don’t have to do anything that is on them, and – YES! – we have a list in this book. And not your normal bucket list, but somebody else’s list, namely Abi’s ex – boyfriend’s Joseph. To cut a long story short after Joseph split up with Abi, just like that, claiming that they’re not compatible, to say that Abi was upset would be an understatement. She was DEVASTATED. And so when she stumbles across Joseph’s bucket list she immediately knows what she should do – show Joseph that in fact she’s a very adventurous person and complete the list. Why adventurous? Well, because the list consists mostly of outdoor activities, and there is nothing better for Abi than to curl up on the sofa with a remote in her hand. But what a girl wouldn’t do for her boyfriend…! And Abi is sure that after completing the list Joseph will take her back.

What is so great about this idea is the fact that it is based on the author’s own experiences, as she also tried to do things that were on her ex’s bucket list. As much as Abi didn’t need to try to impress Joseph, who, notabene, I really didn’t know what she sees in, as he was arrogant and cold type, not mentioning here his self – important family, I loved following her on her adventure. The idea of completing someone else’s list was absolutely brilliant for me, and different to everything I’ve read in the books so far. On the other hand, why should you want to impress someone who doesn’t deserve your attention, right, why not do it for yourself only, but okay, let’s forget it for a while – and it was really brilliantly captured how Abi changes, not only physically, but also mentally, as she not only learns how to ride a bike again (thought they say that once you’ve learnt riding a bike you’re not going to forget it – although I am more like Abi here. As far from bike as possible. Give me a horse more like) but she also learns a lot about herself and overpowers her own fears (like abseiling down the Spinnaker with her mahoosive fear of heights, windsurfing in a cold water (oh God. Guys. How much I laughed when Abi tried to learn windsurfing) and climbing one of the four peaks, and in the meantime there is also a little romance brewing. Because is Joseph really The One? And Ben, the new friend who offered to help her with the challenges, well, he has a girlfriend already, right? Much more outdoorsy type than Abi. So what now?

I absolutely loved the story of Abi, her overcoming her own weaknesses, coming out of her comfort zones in the company of her friends – old and new ones… What I particularly liked was the fact that the author didn’t concentrate so hard on the challenges themselves and didn’t bombard us with thousands of details about them. She usually introduced us to the challenge but didn’t focus on describing the whole 10 hours of cycling over Isle of Wight, and I find it’s absolutely okay, because where something significant happened during one of the challenges, she of course let us know about it.

Abi was the perfect heroine and I immediately warmed to her, even though I sometimes wanted to shake so, so much – I mean, she was a clever, funny girl, so why this desperate need to change herself into someone else? She was great as she was, but on the other hand I loved to see how she gradually realised her hidden strengths and powers and how she overcame her terrors.
But not only Abi was a great character – all of them were so vivid and I loved to get to know them. No matter if they were background characters or the main ones, the author gave them their own personalities and distinctive voices and they made a great bunch of characters. You just felt that they liked each other and felt well in each other’s company, and they provided some of the greatest one liners – the dialogues were so spot on, so up – to – date, and they often made me laugh – they were written in this lovely, easy Anna Bell’s style, and the author has already found her trademark, her own voice that I really love. She makes the stories so easy to follow and reading her words is a real pleasure and relaxation.

As Abi wants to get Joseph back as soon as possible, she decides to do the list also as soon as possible – hence the pace in the book is really quick! There is always something happening, but not only on the list – front, but also at Abi’s job, where a new colleague seems to be the boss’s pet and Abi can’t trust her, especially as someone is sabotaging her work!

There were only some moments in the book when I thought I’m going to start to scream if Abi will mention again that she was doing this for Joseph – too much and too often! I wasn’t able to forget that Abi Is Doing It For Joseph only, it has really stuck in my memory for ever. And sure, it was a rather predictable read but nevertheless, this predictability here felt so comfortable and I couldn’t wait to finish the book and see the happy end for myself. Sure, the author made this way to this happy end complicated, which only added so much to me enjoying this story so much. It was an easy, light – hearted read and if you haven’t read Anna Bell’s books before, I urge you to reach for them as soon as possible! Make it a priority on your own list! (And no, even though I feel inspired by Abi, I didn’t create my own bucket list :) ) Highly recommended!