*Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review*
I'm a huge fan of Fiona Gibson and simply adore her Originally posted on This Chick Reads
*Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review*
I'm a huge fan of Fiona Gibson and simply adore her books. She's one of these wonderful authors that never disappoints. She's constant, and no matter the new trends and what seems to be 'in' these days, you always know what you get from her books. I love that feeling of familiarity and comfort, because I know that no matter when or where I read her book, I'm going to enjoy it and it'll be the best fun.
Of course I had expectations from her new novel as well! Once again Fiona delivered, proved and cemented her position as one of the best British chick lit authors. And not only that, but in my opinion, 'The Woman Who Upped and Left' is her best novel so far, uber fun and full of humour that will make you read it cover to cover in a single breath.
The story is centered around Audrey, a single mum in her forties, hard working woman and dedicated to her son and friends. She hasn't had the happiest childhood, but she's not a complainer and makes the best bloody lemonade whenever life gives her lemons (which is most of the time). For the last 10 years she's been working as a dinner lady in a local primary school, a job she never thought she'd still be doing, but being left by her mum when she was only 9 years old and losing her dad at 17, its obvious life made some choices for her. But she's a fighter and definitely a wonderful and caring mum. Being all by herself has taught her how to appreciate people and everything good that comes along, but at the same time she does feel like her life's one big routine where her own desires always come last. Things are about to change when she's awarded the prize for the best dinner lady and can choose between cash as a prize or a short yet expensive cookery course. It's obvious she's always broke and could use the cash, however she does need to change her life and start living for herself.
'The Woman Who Upped and Left' is a brilliant, light hearted take on motherhood and all the dreams most women sacrifice when they become wives/mothers. I'm 100% positive there are so many women out there (me included) who will connect to Audrey and who felt exactly like her at least once in their life. Juggling between two jobs (she's also a carer for Mrs B, a 84 year old woman) and motherhood, she's trying hard to keep everyone happy and of course her needs always come last. We always say it's not the way it should be, women should not stop living life to the fullest when they reach certain age or become mums, but life happens and in the blink of the eye we've transformed into this woman we don't even recognize, someone who's always tired, sleep deprived, grumpy, who worries all the time.
Audrey realizes it's time for a change, seems even her own teenage son, Morgan doesn't appreciate everything she's been doing for him. So, instead of getting the cash, she applies for the cookery course and is off on a new adventure. Meeting new people, spending more time with herself and her own thoughts, learning new delicious dishes, seems she's really starting to reinvent herself. But where's change, there are people who oppose the change and there's loads of drama.
I absolutely adored every page of this book. I loved Audrey to bits and wish she was real so we could be friends in real life. She's such an optimistic person, never crying over the spilled milk, always trying to be a good mum, friend and employee. She knows who she is, she's mature and is well aware of all the things that brought her to where she's now. She doesn't blame anyone for her 'failures', she's not bitter or angry. That's what I loved most about her, despite having millions of reasons to be angry at her parents, she doesn't hold a grudge. It's something I'm working hard on, to forgive everyone that's hurt me in a way (myself included) and I definitely applaud to Audrey for rising above all the limitations and moving on with her life.
As in every Fiona Gibson book, we get to see what real life is, real women, mature women, with real life problems. No fashion or brands references, no shoes or make up addiction, simply real life situations. And yet, the lighthearted tone in which they are told, makes these stories so fun, so funny and so addictive. It's like, you forget all about your problems when you enter her fictional worlds, you become Audrey, thinking how the hell can your teenage son microwave his T-shirt, haven't you taught him better than that? Hilarious! There were some moments that made me laugh out hard, they were just so funny!
Overall, this was a wonderful and uber fun book I recommend to everyone who loves humour and chick lit. Fiona is definitely an author who deserves all the praise and I wish she could publish at least 10 books a year. Oh and I know Mother's day is now behind us, but if you want to surprise your mum, your wife or girlfriend, this would make the perfect gift! Smiles and laughs are guaranteed, so just get it! Trust me, it's a wonderful story!...more
*Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
If I had to sum up Samantha Tonge's latest 'How to Get Hitched in Ten Days' in just one word I'd say CUTE. And I read it on Valentine's Day and definitely feel I made the right choice for saving it for that special day all couples love.
I haven't read all of Ms Tonge's books, however out of all I've read this one was definitely the cutest. It's a novella that tells the story of Mikey, Dave and Jasmine. Jasmine (Jazz) and Dave are the couple, while Jazz lives with her best friend, Mikey. After proposing in a drunken state, Dave has a lot to prove to Jasmine and turns to Mikey for some help. However, Dave and Mikey don't really get along. On the surface, nothing spectacularly went wrong to make them dislike eachother so strongly, yet being so different they simply don't mix. Just like water and oil, and they do a great work in avoiding each other for Jasmine's sake. However, desperate times call for desperate measures, so Dave has no other option but to seek help from the guy that knows her best, her flatmate and best friend Mikey. As imagined, some things go wrong and some take unexpected turns.
I won't reveal more about the story, as since it's a novella I'm afraid I'll spoil the fun if you decide to give it a read. However, I will say that I liked it and bearing in mind this is a novella, I think Ms Tonge did an exceptionally good work in introducing us and going deeper into the characters' lives in that space (short number of pages) she had. That's my overall opinion and feeling about this novella, but of course there were some things which I liked and disliked.
While the characters were lovely, felt real and I can see many liking them, they didn't have a huge impact on me. I mean, I did care about them, however I wasn't mad about them. Hanging around them felt enjoyable, but I don't think any of them will stay long in my head. But that's not such a big thing, as I hardly remember anything about Anna Karenina too and we're talking about Tolstoy's work!
Next thing, Mikey was a tad dramatic at times, too dramatic for my taste and those pages were not as fun to read. I liked the fact it's told from different POVs and we get to be in each of their heads, seeing things through their eyes, however, while I could see and feel Mikey, I simply couldn't care that much for Jasmine (which is strange, as I'm always rooting for the female characters in books, as also for women in real life, but I digress..sorry). In my opinion, Jasmine was the most pale character in this gang, and I'm a bit disappointed in this as it seems Ms Tonge tried to portray her character well, but I just couldn't feel it.
There was a twist at the end, a one I certainly didn't expect and I was pleased with the ending and the wrapping up of things. I'm a bit sad I didn't connect to Jasmine more as she seems like a character worth knowing, but maybe that can be done if we see her in another book, this time a full length novel? I would love to see more of her definitely, and same goes for Mikey and Dave. If you're looking for a short and easy read, you should definitely check it out. ...more
*Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
'The Silent Girls' is the second book by Ann Troup and one I've been very much looking forward to reading. Her debut, 'The Lost Child' was published in 2015 and many of my friends loved it. I do have a copy waiting on my kindle for some time now, however after reading her second book I've decided to bump it up my huge TBR pile and read it as soon as possible.
'The Silent Girls' opens up with a rather chilly event when a man is executed because he murdered five young girls. Fast forward 30+ years and we meet Edie, who's back in Winfield, the same town these murders happened, back to Number 17, Coronation Square and the old house her aunt used to live. Families are a funny thing sometimes... sometimes things just fall apart and of course there are many reasons, but some are so dysfunctional, one can not even pinpoint what was the moment to end certain communication. Edie hasn't heard from her aunt Dolly ever since she left the house, seems she didn't even bother to keep in touch, and now 30+ years she's back in Dolly's house to clean it up and put it on sale after her aunt's death. The sad thing is no one was there for her aunt when she was dying, and Edie does feel regret about this. Seems the neighbors knew her aunt much better than her own family, seems she had loads of difficulties (money being just one of the problems), but she never told Edie or her sister, Rose about this. I guess it's just something most estranged family members do, they just don't go back to fix some things. I don't blame them, sometimes it's too painful. But I digress... Edie has a funeral to attend and make the house as much presentable for sale as she can, which is not an easy task. She gets to know Dolly's neighbors better and even makes a new friend, Sophie Hedley, as strange looking girl who seemed to crash Dolly's place whenever she needed it. Left without much of a family, seems like both Edie and Sophie are a lot more similar than what appears on the surface.
Slowly but surely after getting to know a bit of Edie, Ms Troup starts making the story more and more interesting. There's a strong connection between Edie's past and present with the murders that happened long time ago but were never forgotten by the people from Winfield. Edie and Sophie are about to discover some things, and it won't be pretty. Secrets will be revealed, the ghosts of the past will be let out... how will Edie handle the new situation?
Honestly, despite having heard nothing but praise about Ms Troup's writing, I didn't expect it to be this good. Not having read her debut, I didn't know what to expect. But let me tell you, every praise you hear about her writing, well it's completely earned! She knows how to create a dark atmosphere and pull you slowly in her fictional world, describing everything to the slightest detail, making you feel like you're part of the scene. The descriptions of the old house were so vivid, I could almost smell the decay and see it tumbling down in front of my eyes. Another plus is the amazing relationship among the characters, they are all so different yet somehow Ms Troup makes them work together, each adding to events. There weren't that many characters, but I think some new were added in the second half of the book and that might have slowed things down a bit for me.
The only thing which bothered me was the ending. I wasn't pleased with the way the book ended, it somehow left many questions unanswered and that left me confused. But other than that, it was a fantastic, gripping thriller I absolutely enjoyed. The writing is fantastic and I'm definitely looking forward (now more than ever) to reading Ms Troup's debut, and I'm going to be on a watch out for her next. ...more
*Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Actual rating 4.5/5
'The Forgotten Summer' was such an incredibly wonderful surprise! Having no expectations about the book, I dived in and was immediately hooked. Transported to beautiful, picturesque Les Cigales, meeting the Cambon family and learning about the many secrets they have was indeed one of a kind reading experience.
The book opens with yet another grape harvest on the Cambon's French estate and we meet Clarisse, the matriarch and Luc's mother and Jane, Luc's wife who are everything but friendly towards each other. Luc, his mother and spinster aunt have come to France after leaving their homeland, Algeria, however it's not until later on in the book that we find out their reason for this. They had everything in Algeria, and yet they left and came to Les Cigales, willing to start a new life without a man in the house, constantly being attacked and called witches.
Luc's seven years older than Jane and they meet when they are very young, during a stay on which Jane accompanies her father who's been offered a job with the Cambon's. Despite the huge crush on Luc, it takes them years to become an item and marry secretly behind Clarisse's back. Clarisse doesn't approve of Jane, and even years of being married to her only son don't change that. There was a certain event that planted this deep hate in Clarisse's heart, an event both women can't forget, which influences their relationship. However, Ms Drinkwater does a mighty good job in not revealing anything too early and keeping you in suspense. I must say I was dying to find out the reasons why Clarisse hates Jane so much, why they moved to France, what happened to Luc's father?
After a tragic event, both Clarisse's and Jane's lives are changed forever. Many secrets will be revealed, many lies will be exposed to light. Can the Cambon women leave the past in the past, or will they be enemies forever? It's another hot summer in France, just like the forgotten one back in 1962, the summer Cambon's left home but not their grief and sorrow..the summer that changed everything.
'The Forgotten Summer' is a wonderful story full of family drama and mystery. It's one of these books you just can't stop reading, despite having million things to do. You simply don't want to leave this beautiful fictional world Ms Drinkwater created. The descriptions are so vivid, you can almost smell the grapes in the harvesters hands, feel the French sun on your shoulders, feel the cool breeze after a long working day. I've never been to France, however this book transported me immediately and when I closed my eyes I could see the beautiful setting. It's a wonderful feeling when an author's style is so rich on details and so mighty good, you're being immediately transported to a land you've never even visited. This happens rarely to me, and I have such a deep respect for Ms Drinkwater because of this. Her words and mastery over them managed to keep my full attention and made me read the book in one single sitting.
The characters were amazing and their history was so interesting, I couldn't put the book down even for a second (I believe I read it cover to cover in 4-5 hours). The only thing which bothered me a bit and which is the reason for my rating is the time switching. The book opens in present, but we constantly go back in time, when Jane and Luc hooked up, met, first stay to France, etc..., but it did feel a bit confusing to me. The lack of chronology of the events did slow things down a bit for me, as I would need to go back and re-read some passages, however other than that, I absolutely enjoyed it.
Beautiful and rich writing, wonderful nature, and loads of secrets and intrigue - this book has it all. Strongly recommended to everyone looking for a good book he'll lose itself into. Be prepared to love it. I definitely can't wait to read more from Ms Drinkwater!...more
*Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review*
How can this be a debut?
NO WAY CAN IT BE A DEBUT!
Man, this was such an UBER fun and entertaining book! Just like watching your favourite rom com, all snuggled up on the sofa, with a big mug of hot choc (or ice cream, if you're like me) after a looong working week. It's so RELAXING, funny, easy to read and you'll never want to leave Ms Nixon's fictional world full of glitz and sparkle.
The story follows Amber Green (bit of an unfortunate name) who works at Smith's though she's not much of an expert in fashion. She's the artistic type, who would rather spend hours matching clothes to perfection and making the most interesting shopping window that would attract customers all the way from the other side of the street. She's doing OK, and though she knows Smith's is just something till she finds another job (a proper one, as her lawyer mum would say), she enjoys working there and her boss, Jas is really nice and that's a big plus. But Mona Armostrong, the biggest and most well known British stylist is visiting ready to take some clothes from Smith's and all of a sudden Amber's life is changed. One silly mistake turns into a job offer and Amber is soon on her way to la la land as Mona's assistant, PR and basically everything Mona needs her to be. From her normal life and job she goes to this world full of celebrities who never eat, to a place where the size of your glasses is bigger than the dinner portion as the restaurant. Los Angeles and the Golden Globes, Amber feels like she's on top of the world. But working for Mona proves to be quite challenging. She's not that evil, at least not in my opinion, but she's demanding alright. And seems she's got only Amber to rely on and she's on call 24/7. Still, Amber loves it and sees it as a new opportunity to mingle with the famous and there's FREE champagne everywhere! How cool is that?
Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Oscars... Amber is conquering the world! But fame comes at a price, and soon she's about to face some problems and will have to save Mona's reputation on more than several occasions. Not everything that shines is gold or never judge a book by its cover, never have those words been more true. In between working like crazy and feeling like zombie because of lack of sleep, there's a bit of a romance too (as in every good chick lit book) and involves not one, but TWO sexy guys, Rob the assistant producer and Liam the gorgeous American actor.
I absolutely adored this book! Rosie Nixon is an editor for HELLO! and obviously she's got tons of experience with fashion, celebrities, gossips and new trends and she puts damn good use of all of it in her dazzling debut. As a reader I felt she's on a stable ground, writing about what she knows and loves and it definitely made me enjoy the book so much. I was immediately hooked and adored each second of it. I read a proof which is around 400 pages long, but I simply flied though it, it's such an easy and fun book. Not a single moment was I bored and our heroine, Amber Green is such a hilarious character, I laughed out loud so many times.
Speaking of Amber, she's truly an amazing character. She might be in the fashion industry, but she's not air headed and actually, she's very pleased with the way she is, how she looks and dresses. This is indeed refreshing, as I've read tons of chick lits where everything is revolving around how the MC is unsatisfied with her looks. Amber knows who she is, what are her priorities in life and has a brilliant sense of humour. She's one great chick I would love to hang out with, she seems very relaxed and comfortable in her skin, which is not usually the case with the people in fashion industry.
Fast paced and brilliant humour, 'The Stylist' is surely one of the best chick lit debuts I've ever read. I can already picture it on the big screen and truly believe it would make a great film. It's evident Rosie Nixon is an amazingly talented writer and simply a breath of fresh air! She's EXACTLY what the chick lit scene needed. If you're a fan of Sophie Kinsella and Lauren Weisberger, and like books about fashion (with obviously, many references of fashion brands and trends) then this is certainly a book you must not miss out. Rosie Nixon is an author to watch out for and I'm more than happy to watch this brilliant star shine! ...more
*Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review*
Actual rating 4.5/5
'No Longer Safe' is A. J. Waines' fourth novel but the first by her I've read. However, after reading it I can promise it won't be my last one and I'll make sure I find the time to go through her backlog.
Not having read anything by A. J., I really didn't have any expectations from 'No Longer Safe'. I read the blurb which sounded interesting, found the cover a bit creepy and chilling and that's about it. That was more than enough to make me want to read it. Half way through, and loads of jaw dropping moments later, I decided to go through other readers' reviews, and found out A. J. used to work as a Psychiatrist, dealing with all sorts of cases, and it was then that I understood where she got her inspiration and zest for psychological thrillers. I found it really fascinating the way she goes into exploring human nature, bringing her characters in such weird situations and making everything sound so real and authentic as it could happen to all of us.
After years of not having heard anything from her best friend, Alice suddenly receives an invitation from Karen to spend some time in Scotland, maybe to catch up on their lives, maybe to share some big news... Alice is really not sure why is she sent this call for reunion all of a sudden, and she's not even sure if she wants to go in the first place. She's been working a lot on her fragile personality (which I won't go into details of explaining), however I will tell you Alice's changed after university and she's not sure her friendship with Karen will be the same after all these years of not seeing each other. She did try to keep in contact, but Karen somehow decided to stop calling, writing... and Alice doesn't know the reason for this, yet she's been thinking about her best friend a lot over the years, the reason for their sudden break up always a mystery to her. Well, seems now she finally has the chance to ask Karen why she decided to ditch their friendship, and maybe there are chances they could move on despite the time gap an catch up on everything they've missed on in their lives.
After debating if it's worth going back to Scotland and releasing the skeleton of the past, Alice packs up and is off on this trip not knowing what is awaiting for her. They don't say for no reason, some things should really stay buried in the past!
This is not the easiest book to review, as it's really hard to say anything without giving the plot away. However, I will tell you that it's full of unexpected twists that will keep you totally invested in the book. Told from different POVs (Karen and Alice) you get to see both of their sides to certain events and start digging into their relationship, peeling layer after layer till some shocking revelations. The writing style is brilliant and everything flows, past to present and POV switches are delivered with perfection. The only reason for me giving it 4.5/5 is the fact I didn't fall for Alice completely. I liked her, but there were situations when she seemed very contradictory, her feelings were making me confused and I just wanted to give her a good shake. But it was still a solid psychological thriller that kept me entertained and was so addictive, I read it cover to cover in just one day. I simply couldn't wait to find out the reasons for the sudden meeting, why Karen picked Scotland of all places, why was she MIA for so long...why, why, why? I got my answers at the end and I was really pleased with the ending.
Wrecked friendships, betrayal, chilling atmosphere - this book has it all! If you're into psychological thrillers that will keep you guessing till the very last page, look no further. This is definitely the book for you!...more