When Delilah Rafferty’s 50th birthday begins to loom, she decides that she is going to throw herself a huge birthday bash and invite lots of people toWhen Delilah Rafferty’s 50th birthday begins to loom, she decides that she is going to throw herself a huge birthday bash and invite lots of people to make it even more fun. However, Delilah doesn’t bank on the strife her family manages to get themselves into just before her birthday, and when it threatens to ruin her birthday altogether, Delilah realises she has had enough. Her husband Raf, an actor, has got his first acting job in 10 years but Delilah is sure it’s going to drive a wedge between them once more. Her daughter Coco is struggling with a secret problem with her job on a soap, youngest daughter Tyger is hiding a secret that is going to shock the Rafferty family to it’s core when it comes out and middle daughter Violet is a budding musician but is keeping a rather surprising romance secret from her family. How are the Rafferty’s going to heal their rifts, and will they do it before Delilah’s special birthday party?
I am a huge fan of Veronica Henry’s books, and her last book, The Beach Hut, which was a short story collection was one of my favourite reads by Henry of them all! Therefore, when I was sent this book to review, I was really excited to read it and hoped that it would live up to The Beach Hut which was just brilliant. The cover is really striking, I love the purple and pink images and it would certainly be a book I’d grab in a shop, so I think the cover designers have done a great job with this particular book. It is quite a thick book, but the story moves along at a good pace and there’s always something to keep your attention, so you don’t notice the pages flying by.
The book focuses on the Rafferty family, and they are a great bunch of characters who really entertain us for the duration of the book. Delilah is probably what I would define as the main character, because most of the action features around her, and of course the birthday party from the title of the book is in Delilah’s honour. She is a lovely character, a woman who is happy with her lot – she has a great career as a TV chef who has several cookbooks to her name, 3 lovely daughters and a doting husband too. But when her marriage is threatened by Raf’s career revival, Delilah suddenly feels unsure in her own shoes, and I think Henry writes her fear and nervousness really well, you can feel everything along with Delilah and I felt so sorry for her.
On the other hand, I couldn’t really warm to any of Delilah’s daughters at all because they are such selfish brats you just cannot like! Coco, the actress from the soap, is so self-pitying it verges on pathetic, and I found myself getting annoyed at her quite a bit as I read her scenes. Her solution to her nerves is a bit shocking but to be honest, the whole book is quite outrageous so it doesn’t feel too out of place! Violet is a singer determined to make it on her own and not use her family name to get any connections which is admirable, but I found her to be a bit of a user and not particularly likeable. The only one I even slightly liked was Tyger, a young girl determined to succeed with her lingerie business, and hiding her secret from her family too. They are 3 very different characters, all dislikeable in their own ways but they certainly make for some interesting reading.
What surprised me the most about this book was the rudeness! When I’ve picked up a Veronica Henry book in the past, I don’t expect to read graphic and quite rude sex scenes. Don’t get me wrong, they can be in the book but be quite tastefully done and not too in your face, but I found this book was far more graphic than I remembered in the past. Actually, it felt in parts like I was reading a totally different author because it felt like a whole different direction for Henry. Quite a few authors lately have seemed to be writing for a new audience and I wonder if Henry is one of those. That isn’t to say I didn’t like the book because I really did, but I’m not quite as comfortable sending this book to my mum after reading some of the things in it than I have been sending her these books in the past!
This is a great and absorbing read with a storyline that will certainly keep you hooked to the final page. Henry’s writing style is so easy to read, you find yourself getting brought into the story straight away, and I didn’t have any problems starting the book at all. The book is told in the third person tense, and this works well due to the amount of characters within. Despite the amount of characters, I didn’t struggle with working out who was who at all, and followed the individual stories with ease, something that shows off how good Henry’s writing is. There are some important issues covered in the book, and they work well with the more shocking aspects of the book. Overall, it’s a great read and one I would recommend to fans of Henry’s work, although do be aware of the sex scenes in the book! Recommended!...more
Lucy Streeter thought she had her life pretty sussed out. She runs a clothes shop, where she also gets to show off her own designs that she does in heLucy Streeter thought she had her life pretty sussed out. She runs a clothes shop, where she also gets to show off her own designs that she does in her own spare time, she’s mum to her grown up son Nat who is at University, and she gets on really well with the other occupants of Paradise Street, where their shops are based. However, Lucy decides to pay a visit to a fortune teller one day, and finds out a bit of shocking news… she has just days to live. Lucy is horrified that her time on Earth is nearly up, and makes some radical decision and changes that the old Lucy never would have done. Is Lucy going to be able to make the most of her last few days with her family and friends, or is it just too little, too late?
I have read quite a few of Annie Sanders’ novels in the past and really enjoyed them, so I was really looking forward to getting around to this one. I have to admit I wasn’t too keen on the cover when it was released but in real life, it doesn’t look quite as dull as the pictures online make it look. What I love about Annie Sanders’ novels are the realism – you can always count on characters that you recognise or can imagine being friends with, and that is exactly what I hoped I would get from this novel once more. So here’s my review!
The leading lady Lucy is a great character, and I liked her straight away. She’s a single mum to a grown up son who is at University, and seems at a bit of a loss as to what to do with herself now he’s grown up and flown the nest. Lucy is a talented designer but prefers to sell other people’s wares in her clothes shop, a point that did make me think “why would you not try and push your own designs?” but as the story progresses, we do see why. Lucy is a really normal woman, she’s certainly someone I can imagine liking and she seems like your average housewife which is nice. However, we soon see a new side to Lucy once she learns of her impending demise, and this is where the main bulk of the story comes in.
The character of Micah wasn’t one that I liked enormously if I am honest. I especially disliked him at the end when it all becomes clear about him and his predictions because I really don’t like that sort of things within books, and it seemed like Sanders was plugging into the magical element of books that has done well for authors such as Cecelia Ahern, but it seemed totally out of place in this book. It was a real shame because I had loved the book up until now, and thought it was a great story about someone reinventing themselves but the magical part really let it down for me and turned from a great book into something a bit silly and unbelievable which was a real pity.
The story of people reinventing themselves has been done before, but I really enjoyed the twist Sanders put on it that Lucy knew she was going to die, and therefore wanted to do everything she normally wouldn’t have the guts to do. It certainly makes you begin to think what would you get up to if you knew you only had a few days left on Earth, and you can sympathise with Lucy along the way too because you can see how much it is hurting her at the thought of leaving her son behind, but the things that come out of it are well worth reading about. What I really love was how it wasn’t just the physical things Lucy had to change, and it’s enjoyable to see this character come out of her shell.
Overall, this is a really enjoyable book and would definitely have been a superb one had they not brought in the silly ending that they did, which for me spoilt the rest of the tone of the book for me. I was actually guessing that Micah’s character was going to force the book to go one way, and it seemed so out of place in an otherwise brilliantly grounded read that it really spoilt the ending for me, and I was left quite disappointed. I don’t know why authors think that everyone wants something “magical” and “fantastical” in their books, because we don’t! We know which authors to go to when we want that and I just felt it out of place in an otherwise fantastic read....more
Claire and Neil Archer love running the Sugar Loaf Lodge Hotel in Ireland. It’s always been Claire’s dream to have a hotel, and there is definitely soClaire and Neil Archer love running the Sugar Loaf Lodge Hotel in Ireland. It’s always been Claire’s dream to have a hotel, and there is definitely something special about the Sugar Loaf Lodge that keeps people coming back time and time again. However, the financial crisis has hit the hotel hard, and Neil and Claire are worried about filling the rooms up. When Christmas comes around though, it seems people still want to go away as the rooms magically begin to fill, and Claire feels like a special festive season is upon them all. Join the Christmas residents of the Sugar Loaf Lodge hotel for one special Christmas season, and find out what brings each of them to the hotel at Christmas time.
It has been a while since I read one of Sheila’s books, so when I was sent this gorgeous festive themed read, I couldn’t help but tuck in straight away. The cover looks beautiful in the image to the left, but it is so much more beautiful in real life, with a sparkly heart on the front, and is certainly a book you’d be proud to be seen reading! The book is actually a sort of short story collection rather than one big novel, which actually suits the book because you can dip in and out of it quite nicely, and I can certainly imagine it will be a great one to read on a cold winter evening in front of the fire! So I dove straight in hoping to love it, and luckily for me, Sheila didn’t let me down!
The book begins introducing us to the hotel owners, Neil and Claire, and I thought we would be following them over the christmas period, but that turned out not to be the case. I really liked them as a couple, O’Flanagan writes them as a nice pair that begin the story with a real homely feel because they adore their hotel, and straight away I felt like I wanted the hotel to be okay, just because of them! Instead of following the hoteliers, we are instead treated to a room-by-room story about each of the guests, and the reason they came to be at the hotel at Christmas. This works really well because it allows for interactions between the guests to keep the story in the present but also allows us to go into the back story of these characters which really allows you to get absorbed into their stories.
I don’t want to tell you too much about them because the beauty of this book is seeing the stories unravel as you read them, but I will tell you a bit about what’s inside. We meet a couple who seem to be having problems, but it isn’t at all clear to everyone else why they seem to not be speaking to each other during their stay. There is a group of older women who decide to spend Christmas together rather than be alone on Christmas day. There’s also a young couple who flee to the hotel with their baby to get away for their warring families, and a bit of a magical ghost story thrown in too. We get a visit from some characters from one of O’Flanagan’s previous books Anyone But Him which was great fun and it was nice to catch up with them and see what they are up to. A single man trying to get over the break up of his marriage also descends on Sugar Loaf Lodge and meets up with another single female resident, what will happen there? They are definitely a great bunch of characters, and ones that you will want to read about as the book progresses.
I really enjoyed every single page of this book, and would highly recommend it, especially as a festive story! However, I can imagine enjoying this book at any time of year because while it is set at Christmas, it isn’t too focussed on that fact and that means you can pick this up and enjoy it whenever. I found O’Flanagan’s writing style was very warm and easy to read, and she makes each of the characters one you will care about. The way she weaves the stories together despite the fact they are all a bunch of strangers is fantastic as it draws the whole book together, and I really enjoyed the use of the alternating first and third person story telling devices. I think this is a wonderful short story collection, it captures the magic of Christmas, love and family perfectly, and is a really superb read. Definitely recommended!...more
Michaela Anderson isn’t really a risk taker, but when her company organises a charity parachute jump, she can’t really refuse. When she gets up in theMichaela Anderson isn’t really a risk taker, but when her company organises a charity parachute jump, she can’t really refuse. When she gets up in the skies, she doesn’t want to jump but after everyone else seems to safely make it down, Michaela decides to take the plunge. But as she plummets back to Earth, a huge gust of wind takes Michaela by surprise. She lands with a bump and is a bit unsure why everything around her seems to have changed. The airfield has disappeared and there’s no sign of her colleagues anywhere, or Matt, her instructor. More oddly, when Michaela makes contact with Matt and her boyfriend, it seems she has been missing for over 6 years and everyone thought she was dead. Just what happened to Michaela when she made that jump, and where have the past 6 years been? Is it magical forces at work or something more sinister?
This is the third novel by author Melanie Rose, and I was so excited to read this one because of how much I have enjoyed her previous 2 books. Usually, magical type stories are not my thing, I prefer to read something rooted a little more in the real world, but there is something utterly charming about Rose’s books that I just cannot put down. The cover follows suit with her previous 2 novels, and once again I love it – the green is certainly different and stands out, and makes the book seem the something different that the book itself is. Melanie’s first book Could It Be Magic? focussed on the changed life of a woman struck by lightning, her second was Coming Home about a woman who loses her memory after being caught in a storm so this one about a missing 6 years seems to fit the form of Rose’s books quite well!
The book starts with a prologue that takes place at the time of the jump. We meet a few of Michaela’s colleagues and the jump instructor Matt in this scene, but the jump comes pretty quickly so not too much detail is given away. I actually liked this because it adds to the mystery element of what happened to Michaela, and we can suspect some of the characters because we just don’t know anything about them. Michaela is a very likeable character, although her denial of the new time period she’s emerged into is a tad annoying. It’s weird because I understood why you would be in denial about it, but at the same time I found it quite annoying! However, it didn’t bother me enough to skip parts or anything, it was more of a niggle than a huge problem!
The development of the story is very interesting and I loved how Rose dictates the pace of the story through her character. Michaela’s acceptance of her situation moves along quite nicely and allows for more plot development in terms of her building up relationships with the other characters in the book. The best relationship to read about was that of Michaela, her boyfriend from her life before Calum and his daughter Abbey. Obviously Michaela feels like she only saw the pair of them earlier that morning, yet Calum and Abbey have had 6 years to come to terms with Michaela’s disappearance, and the way this pans out makes for great reading. Rose gets into the emotion of these characters amazingly well, you can feel for each of them and how they are dealing with their difficult circumstances. Michaela and Abbey’s relationship in particular was very touching, and I loved seeing it develop as the book goes on.
I really couldn’t guess how it was all going to end for Michaela in the book and whether there would be a definite ending to it or if it would left up in the air a little bit. Even when I had read the end, I actually went back and re-read it just so I could make sure I had understood it clearly enough and it turned out I had. There is a science bit in the middle of the book which is quite hard going if you don’t pay attention and really concentrate on it! I found it was a little bit too heavy actually, a lot of the scientific jargon was just too much for me and I ended glossing over it and trying to get the general gist of it. This is really the only negative thing about the book though, and I still got the rest of the book okay by glossing over this bit. I appreciate the research that Rose must have put into this though, it must have been pretty heavy!
Overall, this is a superb book and one I would highly recommend, especially if you are a fan of more magical tales such as Melanie Roses’ previous books, Cecelia Ahern or even Sophie Kinsella. The writing is great – the style flows really well and I enjoyed it being written from the first person perspective as we can really get into Michaela’s head and try to puzzle out her story along with her. It’s very emotive, you really do feel for these characters, and the pace is just right so that your attention is kept, the secrets are revealed slowly as the book pans out, and by the end you really do care about what happened to Michaela. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to see what else Melanie Rose is going to bring us!...more