Some Kind of Wonderful – Mini Review

Meet your new best friend – Lizzy. She’s having a tough time after her long term boyfriend decides at the moment of proposing – with the most perfect ring! – that actually he can’t go through with it.

After ten years invested in the relationship, Lizzy wants to rediscover her old self again and see what makes her happy going forward.

Fletcher’s ability to create main characters that instantly become your new best friend is phenomenal. Within the first few pages, Lizzy becomes a girl that is relatable and loveable.

Moving back in with your mum might feel like a backwards step, but Lizzy fully embraces the time and spends some quality time with her parents, including discovering why they got divorced all those years ago.

With more free time, it’s time for Lizzy to welcome in some new friends into her life and discover new hobbies, which involve belting out Fix You by Coldplay!

One of my favourite aspects of this book is how it tackled opportunity. Instead of sticking with the usual motto of grasping opportunities, it delved deeper to a wiser level, and explored whether the opportunity was right for Lizzy. I thought this was such a strong message for a reader to take away. Yes it’s right to embrace opportunities thrown your way, but don’t decide to just jump on it because it feels the right thing to do, assess if it’s the right thing for you.

Packed full of sibling rivalry, some cheeky flirting and a new friend who has unlocked Lizzy’s creative side – this book is sure to put a smile on your face and make you giggle naughtily!

Finally, thanks to my lovely fiancé for buying me this for Christmas!

Until next time, Chloé x

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The Confession – Mini Review

Warning – this book will keep you up all night!

Gripping doesn’t even begin to cover the addictiveness of this book, the strategic nature of the plot screams out complexity from the very first page and is utterly intriguing.

In the prologue, JP walks into the McNamara house and butchers Harry with a golf club right in front of his wife; Julie.

The same night, JP hands himself into the police pleading it was a random unplanned act of violence and states he is sorry. But is he?

It looks as if the case is going to be wrapped up pretty soon and JP will be submitted to a medical facility – but DS Moody (Alice) suspects a rat. Her intuition is usually right and she wants to get to the bottom of this.

The tale is told from multiple perspectives – Julie’s, JP’s and Alice’s viewpoint, and dives into the past of each character to try and unearth a connection between JP and Harry.

As the secrets from their pasts spread across the pages of the book, it’s clear that neither Harry or JP have a clear conscience and have lived colourful lives.

I loved the attention to detail that Spain held throughout this story, no stone was left unturned and each possibility was explored to keep the reader guessing. Spain has utterly mastered the art of creating incredible characters – her carefully crafted descriptions of JP, Julie and Harry continued to leave strong and revealing impressions on me, helping me to build a picture in my head of these three key players and what makes each of them tick.

The fast paced nature of this plot, has created the ultimate page turner and definitely worthy of being added to your New Year TBR list.

The Confession will be published on January 25th in hardback by Quercus.

*Thank you Quercus for providing me with an advanced reading copy through bookbridgr*

Until next time, Chloé x

Trying

Both Olivia’s and Felix’s biological alarm clocks are ringing in their ears. They both want a baby, and they want one now! They’ve moved to the suburbs for extra room and a garden, plus Felix has changed roles to bring in more money into the household, they’re all set. Except for some reason, no matter how hard they try, the pregnancy tests are yet to show a positive result.

This is the story of Olivia and Felix trying from cycle 18 through to 29 and, all the ups and downs that come in between.

The book is told from Olivia’s perspective and told in a modern style with snippets of text messages, calendar invites and thoughts captured on her phone – I thought this came across very effective and captured the raw and powerful emotions of Olivia, to the point that I felt that she was more than just a fictional character… it felt like a real life round up of the torments, a couple who are ‘trying’ face.

But whilst their focus was on creating a family, life still needs to carry on, which draws me to the secondary plot in this tale – a promotion up for grabs and senior management arriving in the office. Mads is a sexy Scandinavian, who keeps eyeing up Olivia. Given the gloominess at home, will she be tempted?

With period after period arriving, destroying their hopes, tension is high within the couple. Could IVF be the solution?

I’m not at that time yet, where I want to be pregnant, so I was pretty clueless on the topic, which meant I was blown away with some of the facts weaved into this story – and yes, I did go away and check if they were true!! The one that really made me mad was the idea that your postcode could determine how many cycles of IVF you could receive on the NHS – just wow. To think that you could be in a support group, and the couple sitting next to you that live 20 miles away are entitled to two more cycles than you, that just seems remarkably unfair.

Whilst the story mainly focuses on Olivia’s emotions and thoughts, I enjoyed the dash of manly thoughts thrown in from Felix. It is so easy to focus on how the woman feels about her empty womb, but being able to understand how crushing it is for a man to be surrounded by all of his friends who are now fathers… ouch – it sucks for both. I think Phillips perfectly captured the feelings of the couple.

Of course, a story like this wouldn’t be complete without some characters that try to bring you down. I wasn’t surprised by the dynamic between Olivia and her mum, and I felt Phillips captured the feelings perfectly – the resentment was weaved in among the love, so as not to create a character you would utterly despise.

Phillips hit the nail on the head with this story – she managed to create a poignant, funny and brutally honest tale that will reach to a wide audience. For those who are ‘trying’ – this tale will feel very relatable, for those who are about to start ‘trying’ – this tale should hopefully give you some perspective and make you feel not so alone when you don’t fall pregnant straight away, and for those who just love modern true to life stories – this will be right up your street.

Trying will be hitting the UK stores on 25th January (2018) in hardback

*Thank you Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with a copy through bookbridgr*

Until next time, Chloé x

Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights – Mini Review

A while ago, Matthews wrote The Cake Shop in the Garden which told the tale of Faye and her cake shop, and all the set backs that came along with balancing her life between the cafe and, her family and boyfriend. Until Danny came along… and whisked her off her feet.

Now we are back with the loved up couple for a festive treat. Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights is everything you could wish for if you are a Matthews fan – it’s packed full of interesting characteristics, shocking developments and a warming feel good vibe.

Faye has returned to help the new owner of the Cake Shop in the Garden; Lija, and to keep an eye on ‘Stinky Stan’ who has fallen rather ill. Back on her home turf, Faye realises she is in her element, but will she be able to persuade Danny to stay permanently?

Rainbow was a lovely addition to the cake shop – young, cheerful and energetic – I loved what she brought to this tale. She managed to bring light to the story, even when the events were hardly ideal.

When a surprise guest arrives, Faye needs to confront the injustice from her past… can it be a happily ever after? This was an easy read which will keep you company through these cold winter nights. At the start I felt the plot was a little slow but it picked up a third of the way in and kept on building. So, grab a mulled wine, a mince pie and… tuck into this festive treat!

Until next time, Chloé x

The Christmas Guest – Mini Review

This is the first book I’ve read that is told from the perspective of an animal, and what a delight it was!

Meet Teddy; a golden retriever puppy, who has run away from his nasty human parents. Imagine his delight when he follows the scent of a roast chicken and meets his dream family! Except Claire and Ben aren’t sure if they can keep Teddy, they’ve got enough on their plate with their daughter; Emily, who is recovering from meningitis… but what if Teddy can help?

Teddy is determined to be the best behaved pup so he can be a permanent member of the Woods family but it’s not always easy… he is a puppy after all!

Bell has managed to make reading from the viewpoint of a dog, as natural as it is from a human’s! Teddy, as a main character, was a winner for me – his eagerness to be a good puppy was adorable to read.

It isn’t long before Teddy has won over Claire, Emily and Ben; but will he be able to befriend Martha; the cat, and thaw Tobias’ (the grumpy next door neighbour) cold heart?

This was a heart warming tale that will melt away the stress of any day and it’s perfect for all ages. It reminded me how soothing an animal’s presence can be. I’ve mentioned in the past that I have a dog – Brian is a black labrador – and the calming effect he has on my life is invaluable.

*Thank you Quercus for providing me with a copy through bookbridgr*

Until next time, Chloé x

In A Cottage In A Wood

When Neve meets Isabelle on the Waterloo Bridge, never in her wildest dreams could she imagine what was going to happen next.

A few months later, Neve is living in Isabelle’s cottage in Cornwall, sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? The picture you’ve got in your head right now, is what Neve was thinking also… so when she arrives in the dark, unlocks the four bolts on the front door and, discovers the kitchen is full of rubbish and a dead magpie, she can’t see how this can get any worse… except it does, she wakes up the next morning and discovers the bars on the windows.

The cottage is in the middle of nowhere and her nearest neighbours seem nice, so why would anybody need this much protection?

The neighbours and Isabelle’s brother tell Neve, that Isabelle wasn’t mentally balanced and had an obsession that someone was after her, but no one seems to know who.

When strange things start happening in the house and a note is discovered, referring to a prison inmate, Neve decides enough is enough, she needs to find out the truth.

I loved Green’s writing style, the plot came across edgy and packed full of suspense. The seeds to the truth were planted throughout the pages, but along with these seeds, were many seed-like stones that could trick your mind into going down the wrong path. The fast paced and grippy vibe of this plot, reminded me of Lisa Jewell’s books; both have different writing styles but both authors managed to gain the same reaction from me – ‘cooorrrrr that was good!’

Neve was an interesting main character, before she arrives at the cottage, I found her difficult to relate to as she was reckless, selfish (in my view) and not professional. But once in the cottage, it was as if the playing field levelled out again and I warmed to Neve – I always find it interesting the way circumstances can change your opinion on a character.

The plot continued to twist and by the penultimate chapter, all of the secrets were on the table. This was a carefully constructed plot that was utterly compelling from start to finish.

Oh and Jarvis was an adorable addition to the tale – I loved him!

Until next time, Chloé x

Before this is Over – Mini Review

This book had me hooked from page one. When a deadly virus begins to spread in the UK, China and elsewhere; Hannah can sense that it’s going to hit Sydney… and soon.

I was sucked into Hannah’s thoughts straight away; and even though her husband and friends felt that she was being irrational, I was on her side from the start.

Hannah is a smart cookie – she’s stocked the pantry full of food so that when the situation deteriorates, she’s able to lock the outside world out and look after her family.

But things start to go wrong quickly, the city is quarantined and Hannah faces her first major decision. Her elder son; Zac, is in Canberra, is it safer to leave him there? Or should he be with the family?

This story was absolutely captivating, you never knew what decision Hannah was going to have to make next and that truly terrified me.

As the days pass by and the number of cases continue to rise, my fear for the family intensified, surely something bad was going to happen? But what? They were being so careful!

I couldn’t turn the pages faster! The gritty realism that Hickie managed to weave into this plot made for an exceptional read.

Fans of the thriller genre will love the suspense packed into this book, but others will love the family unity that shines from these pages. Hannah is a mother who will do anything to protect her kids and all will relate to this.

*Thanks to Headline Review for providing me with a copy through Bookbridgr*

Until next time, Chloé x

Christmas With You

Who out there is excited for Christmas? I know I am! I’m the Christmas-addict in the family who has to be ‘reined in’. Such party poopers – I mean who doesn’t want the house decorated and wearing Christmas jumpers in November!

If you love Christmas even half as much as me, I know you will love this book!

Neil and Claire’s Sugar Loaf Lodge is welcoming guests for the festive period, this Christmas needs to go well, if they want to keep the hotel open next year.

This is a tale full of short stories from the guests staying in each of the hotel rooms. Each have their own reasons for staying at the hotel over the holiday season. Some arrive happy, some arrive sad and some need to some perspective… but they all leave full of festive cheer!

I loved the depth O’Flanagan managed to bring to each of these short stories, after only forty odd pages I felt I really understood each character and this is another example of why O’Flanagan is one of the best authors in the contemporary genre.

With a little help from their guardian angel; Louise, Claire and Neil manage to make the holidays special for each guest by adding little individual touches.

There were two stories which stuck with me the most.

The first was Andrew and Bridget – Andrew has messed up big time and Bridget has never been so upset with him in her life. But perspective is key in this short tale, Bridget realises what’s most important.

The second was Michelle and her family. Michelle is the reason why her family are at the Lodge this Christmas and the power of being finally in control is glorious. You go girl!!

You can read this book in one go or you can read one of the short stories each time you take a break from decorating your home or wrapping your presents!

*I’d like to thank Becky Hunter over at Headline Publishing Group for sending me a copy – a fantastic early christmas treat!*

Who else has read this beauty? And if you’re scratching your head because the characters seem familiar but the title doesn’t, it might be because you read it back in 2010/11 when it was originally published under the title ‘A Season To Remember’!

Until next time, Chloé x

 

Mini Review – A Pocketful of Crows

What a delight this book was!

When a young wild girl falls in love with the heir to the local castle; William, love blossoms. Despite the passion and besotted nature of William, her folk warn her of the dangers of being with someone like him, they believe it will not end well.

And then one day, William gives her the worst possible gift,  he gives her a name… and from that day forth, she is trapped, unable to escape into the wild and into animals. Given her love for William, she accepts the gift, knowing that he is worth the sacrifice.

Except things don’t go to plan.

She needs to become nameless again, she needs to be set free.

This was such a powerful story of love and revenge, with a writing style that came across as mature and wise, provoking me to have a thoughtful perspective whilst I read the book.

When I originally started it, I regretted not reading this around halloween, as it’s probably my favourite time of year to read about folklore – when it touches on mythical aspects such as morphing into animals and witchery. By the end of the book, I had changed my mind, this book is perfect no matter what time of the year.

At just under 200 pages, it’s a short read and easy to devour in one sitting, particularly as the book flowed so well!

Sometimes I think we forget how much wisdom we can gain from what we see as a single event, this book showed how a young woman can become wise beyond her years (albeit in the book, it’s both emotionally and physically) when the heart is damaged by love.

Give it a go, and see what wisdom you gleam from it!

Thanks Ben over at Orion for giving me a copy, the hardback is absolutely stunning!

Until next time, Chloé x