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Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio, Hardback
Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction.

Happy paperback publication day to this wonderful novel. Thank you to HarperCollinsUK for my gifted copy of the book and for asking me to share my review in celebration of the paperback publication.

MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHOR:

Dear readers,

In October 2002 I began writing a story that would change my life. As I poured my heart and soul into PS, I Love You, a novel that began as a story simply for myself, I had no idea the impact it would have around the world and on my own life.

So it is with great excitement that I give you its sequel, Postscript, a book intended to honour its predecessor, all its fans and supporters, and with the aim to bring Holly Kennedy forward, to discover the woman she is now seven years after the death of Gerry.

I am so proud of this story and I hope you enjoy being reacquainted with old friends, enjoy meeting new characters. I have loved every moment of writing this very special book and I hope it will hold a special place on your bookshelf as it does in my heart.

Cecelia x

SYNOPSIS:

The long-awaited sequel to the international bestseller PS, I Love You!

It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life. 

She’s proud of all the ways in which she’s grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world she worked hard to leave behind.

Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of the people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever.

MY REVIEW:

“In one second, almost two and a half million emails are sent, the universe expands fifteen kilometres and thirty stars explode, a honey bee can flap its wings two hundred times, the fastest snail travels 1.3 centimetres, objects can fall sixteen feet, and ‘Will you marry me?’ can change a life. Four babies are born. Two people die. One second can be the difference between life and death.”

Poignant, emotive and uplifting, Postscript is a story of life, death, love and hope. Exquisitely written, it tackles the difficult topics of death and grief with sensitivity and candour, and also gives hope in its message of the power of love and healing.

The story picks up seven years after the death of Holly’s husband, Gerry, and six years after she read the last of the ten letters he left for her to read after he passed. Holly is trying to move on with her life. She’s working at a vintage clothing shop, Magpie, with her sister Cara and has been dating Gabriel for two years, who she worries she’s using as a stop-gap until she can be reunited with Gerry once more. But that isn’t who she wants to be. So she finally agrees to move in with him and begin to move forward.

“We all have something that unexpectedly derails us when we are motoring smoothly, blissfully, ardently. This encounter with the club is mine. And it hurts.”

Meanwhile Ciara has a podcast series called How To Talk About and has asked Holly to take part in the episode How To Talk About Death. Reluctantly, Holly agrees. The crowd are particularly interested in Gerry’s letters and some people express that they wish their loved ones had left them letters like he did for Holly. One lady in particular is keen for Holly to keep sharing her story and maybe even write a book. She keeps coming into the shop and Holly tries to evade her thinking she’s a bit of a stalker. When she learns the woman is part of something called the PS I Love You Club she’s had enough. But in time she begins to connect with the small group and help them as they try to leave behind a small piece of themselves for their loved ones to cherish, changing not only their lives, but hers too as she begins to re-examine what Gerry’s letters meant and what they could continue to mean. 

What a book! I read PS I Love You when it was first released and was both thrilled and apprehensive when I learned that there was to be a sequel. Would it live up to the emotive power of the first book? It didn’t take long to realise that my concerns were unfounded. Postscript exceeded all my expectations and even surpassed the first book for me. I fell in love with the author’s writing style all over again. She knows just how to stir emotion, how to break your heart one moment and then make you laugh the next. The vivid imagery and metaphors were spectacular and I couldn’t put this book down.

“We want to control our deaths, our goodbye to the world, and if we can’t control it, we can at least control how we leave it behind.”

For me, the best parts of this book were Holly’s interactions with the members of the PS, I Love You Club. They are an eclectic group whose commonality is they’ve all been diagnosed with a terminal or life-long, degenerative illness. Joy has MS and is preparing for life in a wheelchair, losing her ability to communicate and needing a feeding tube, Bert has emphysema, Paul is in remission from a brain tumor for the second time but is preparing for it possibly returning, and teenager Ginka has cervical cancer. They all have their own reasons for wanting to leave parts of themselves behind and each teach Holly something different about life, love and grief. Amongst this group Holly slowly finds a safe harbour where she can talk about Gerry without worrying she’s making them uncomfortable or having to edit what she says.

The story and character that touched me the most was Ginka. She’s just sixteen-years-old and is a single mother to baby Jewel. She has no family – they disowned her after she announced her pregnancy and cruelly told her that the cancer is God’s punishment for her sins – and lives with the heartbreak of knowing there’s no one who knows to care for Jewel and tell her about the mother who adored her. She’s practically a child herself yet is facing more pain and hardship than most of us can imagine. As a mother the idea of strangers raising my children would be terrifying. The relationship that develops between Ginka and Holly was my favourite and I loved their scenes together. Her story is just one example of this author’s magnificent talent for writing characters and stories that reach into your soul.

This novel was a truly breathtaking read that reminded me why Cecelia Ahern is such a beloved author. She tackles a difficult subject in a beautiful and powerful way and reminds us to cherish every moment with those we love. I highly recommend this book and don’t think you need to have read the first one to enjoy it.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

After completing a degree in Journalism and Media Communications, Cecelia wrote her first novel at 21 years old. Her debut novel, PS I Love You was published in January 2004, and was followed by Where Rainbows End (aka Love, Rosie) in November 2004. Both novels were adapted to films; PS I Love You starred Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler, and Love, Rosie starred Lily Collins and Sam Claflin.

Cecelia has published a novel every year since then and to date has published 15 novels; If You Could See Me Now, A Place Called Here, Thanks for the Memories, The Gift, The Book of Tomorrow, The Time of My Life, One Hundred Names, How To Fall in Love, The Year I Met You, The Marble Collector, Flawed, Perfect and Lyrebird.

To date, Cecelia’s books have sold 25 million copies internationally, are published in over 40 countries, in 30 languages.

Along with writing novels, Cecelia has co-created the US ABC Comedy Samantha Who? and has created many other original TV projects.

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My Life For Yours by Vanessa Carnevale

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Published: August 7th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction

I’m a few days late, but here is my stop on the tour for this beautiful novel . Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Your life or your unborn child’s – how do you choose?

Paige and Nick are happy. They have a beautiful home, a loving family and, most importantly, they would do anything for each other. Now, they are having a baby and it feels like all their dreams are coming true.

But joy turns to despair when they discover that Paige has a rare, life-threatening heart condition and they lose their longed-for child. Heartbroken, the couple must accept the reality that they may not become parents after all.

Just as they begin to come to terms with their loss, Paige unexpectedly falls pregnant again. Paige’s heart is still weak, and to carry the baby to term puts them both at risk. The couple now face an impossible decision: Paige’s life or the life of their unborn child?

If Paige keeps the baby, she could lose her life and destroy the man she loves. If Nick tries to stop her, he may lose them both forever. It’s the most important decision they have ever had to make – and time is running out.

My Life for Yours is a heartbreaking, gripping and emotional story about love, loss and an impossible choice, perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Kelly Rimmer and Kate Hewitt.

MY REVIEW:

Your life or your unborn child’s – how do you choose?

Paige and Nick are excited about the upcoming birth of their first child. But tragedy strikes when they learn that Paige suffers from a rare and life-threatening heart condition and they lose their longed-for child. Further heartbreak comes when they learn Paige may never fully recover and it may never be safe for her to carry a child. 

Just as they are coming to terms with their loss, Paige learns she is unexpectedly pregnant and they find themselves faced with an impossible and heartbreaking choice: Paige’s life or her unborn child’s? 

This book went right to my soul. Moving, devastating, heartwarming and tender, this made me feel all the feelings. 

The author examines an array of complex personal and emotional issues in this story: a woman’s right to choose what happens with her own body, the pressure from family and friends to do what they think is right instead of giving the woman the support in her choice, the fear of a husband and family at the thought of losing someone precious and irreplaceable, and the medical and moral dilemma of weather a mother’s life is more important than that of her unborn child’s. She portrays all the fear, emotion and intricacies that accompany these issues and shows how it can divide a family at a time they need to come together the most. She also looks at how our past affects those feelings and decisions and the difficult journey of accepting when life doesn’t turn out how we planned and learning to acquiesce to the path we’re given. 

The characters were all well written and I quickly took to both Paige and Nick. They are two people caught up in a devastating situation that tests the limits of their love and their own strength. I empathised with them both as they agonised over the decision but found I could relate to Paige in particular as I’ve had my own struggles with pregnancy, infertility, and health problems affecting the decisions you need to make when planning a family, and I understood her overwhelming desire to keep her child no matter the cost to herself. 

The story is beautifully written, the poignant prose immersing you in this gut-wrenchingly raw and thought-provoking novel. I didn’t want to put this book down, needing to know how things ended for Paige and Nick, while also being terrified of what might happen. 

I would highly recommend this book. Just make sure you have tissues on hand and are ready to ugly cry. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Vanessa author photo

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Vanessa Carnevale is an Australian author of women’s fiction. She is also the host of Your Beautiful Writing Life retreats held in Tuscany and Australia.

Vanessa loves to travel, and spent several years living in Florence, Italy, a place she considers her second home. She lives in Australia with her husband and two children.

Her previous novels, THE MEMORIES OF US and THE FLORENTINE BRIDGE are published by HarperCollins and have been translated into German and Slovenian. Vanessa’s third novel will be published by Bookouture in August 2020.

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The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon by Sarah Steele

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Published: August 6th, 2020
Publisher: Headline
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this spectacular sunner debut. Thank you to Rosie at Headline for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS: 

To unravel the story of that long-lost summer, she had to follow the thread…

Florence Connelly is broken-hearted; her beloved grandmother has just died and her marriage has collapsed.

But things change when she opens a box of vintage 1960s dress patterns, discovered inside her grandmother’s wardrobe. Inside each pattern packet is a fabric swatch, a postcard from Europe and a faded photograph of a young woman wearing the hand-made dress. Why did Flo’s grandmother never speak of this mysterious woman – Nancy Moon?

Her life in tatters, Flo decides to remake Nancy’s dresses, and to head across to the Continent to re-create Nancy’s Grand Tour of 1962. As she follows the thread, Flo begins to unravel an untold story of love and loss in her family’s past. And perhaps to stitch the pieces of her own life back together…

MY REVIEW:

“Most journeys begin with a goodbye: to a friend or a loved one, often to a lover, and sometimes a place… Some goodbyes last merely a few hours, but some will have to last a lifetime.”

This riveting and uplifting debut encapsulates the essence of summer. It transported me from Brighton and Hove to Paris, Antibes, Capri, Venice and Tuscany, so vividly that I could feel the summer sun beating down on me and the breeze in my hair.

Florence is mourning the loss of her grandmother and her marriage when she comes across vintage dress patterns from the 1960s, each containing mementos from a European adventure taken by her Great Aunt – Nancy Moon. But Flo has never heard of Nancy before. Why did her family keep her a secret? And why has she never been seen or heard from again since that trip?

Florence decides to solve the mystery of what happened to Nancy, embarking on a pilgrimage retracing Nancy Moon’s Grand Tour; remaking the dresses and following in her footsteps, slowly unravelling the untold story of her family’s past.

There’s been a bit of a buzz about this book and I had heard some great things, but I still wasn’t expecting to fall so completely in love with Nancy, Florence and this beautifully told story of family, love, loss and long-held secrets. The author’s lyrical prose and rich imagery brought the story to life as clearly as if I was watching it play in technicolour on a movie screen.

The author effortlessly moves between the dual timeliness, immersing you in their world and the mystery of what happened to Nancy. The characters are compelling, likeable and memorable, and the narrators – Florence and Nancy – are relatable and easy to connect with. But there is something about Nancy that made her leap from the page; an air of glamour and mystery that radiates from her and reminded me of the aura surrounding Marilyn Monroe or Grace Kelly; that movie-star lustre, beauty and mystery that makes them feel out of reach.

Heartwarming, uplifting, emotional and immersive, The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon is a must-read, encapsulating the essence of summer like the sun is shining from the pages

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR :

Sarah Steele (c) Eoin Schmidt-Martin

Sarah Steele trained as a classical pianist and violinist in London, before joining the world of publishing as assistant at Hodder and Stoughton. She was then for many years a freelance editor. She now lives in Stroud and in 2018 was the director of Wordfest at Gloucester Cathedral, which culminated in a suffragette march led by Helen Pankhurst. The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon is her debut novel.

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Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: March 19th, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, New Adult Fiction

I am thrilled to be opening the blog tour for this delightful novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Bantam Press for my gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Veronica McCreedy is about to have the journey of a lifetime . . .

Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary. And she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick.

Although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone.

She can be found either collecting litter from the beach (‘people who litter the countryside should be shot’), trying to locate her glasses (‘someone must have moved them’) or shouting
instructions to her assistant, Eileen (‘Eileen, door!’).

Veronica doesn’t have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway . . . And she has no idea where she’s going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies.

But today . . . today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change all of this.

Away With The Penguins Cover

MY REVIEW:

Oh how I loved this absolute gem of a book. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, it had me transfixed. I got lost in the pages and totally immersed in Veronica’s story. 

Veronica McCreedy is an eccentric, feisty, cantankerous, witty and unstoppable old lady. I just couldn’t help but love her and she quickly found a place in my heart. Her bad-tempered idiosyncrasies became endearing and I was sure she had a heart of gold hidden behind it all. When a locked wooden box containing her teenage diaries is found, Veronica’s poignant story is slowly unveiled and we finally learn what lies underneath those brusque layers she uses to protect herself. 

Running parallel to Veronica’s story is her daring adventure to Antarctica to see the  Adélie penguins. She became obsessed with them after watching a nature programme and decided she wanted to leave her vast wealth to the research programme. But she needs to make sure they are worthy of it, so she books a trip to see the penguins for herself; refusing to heed to frantic warnings of her assistant Eileen and the trio of scientists that it is too dangerous. I adored this part of the story – the different sides we see to Veronica’s personality, her blossoming friendship with young scientist Terry, and the adorable rescued chick, Pip. I found myself in awe of Eileen’s spriteliness and determination, overcoming her age and the bracing conditions to have the adventure of a lifetime. 

But behind the cuteness of this storyline is a serious commentary on climate change and our responsibility to save the environment and a number of earth’s most beloved species that are facing extinction in the near future.  It is peppered with blog posts by Terry which are informative as well as entertaining. The author has clearly done her research and I know a lot more about climate change and penguins after reading this book. 

The story is narrated by two very distinct voices and is filled with a rich, colourful and fascinating cast of characters. The cutest of these is without a doubt little Pip, and I now blame the author for the fact I really want a pet penguin! The investment, hard work and love that the author has put into this book is evident in the exquisite writing and attention to detail. I savoured every word, devouring this book while also trying to make it last as I dreaded parting with Veronica and the penguins.

Away with the Penguins is without a doubt the most delightful, joyous and uplifting book I’ve read so far this year, if not in a long time, and I have no doubt it will have a place in my top reads of the year. A lush blend of characters and storylines that is immersive and reaches into your soul and serves as a great reminder that it is never too late to have an adventure, try new things or make changes in your life. Whatever your reading preferences, I highly recommend this book. Just make sure to have lots of tissues and be prepared to fall in love.

Hazel Prior Author Pic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hazel Prior lives on Exmoor. . As well as writing, she works as a freelance harpist.

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The Nowhere Girl by Nicole Trope ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Publisher: Bookouture
Published: January 28th, 2020
Format: Kindle, Paperback
Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Trigger Warnings: Childhood and sexual abuse, neglect, addiction, miscarriage.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Nowhere Girl. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and my gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

‘Please,’ she whispers, too quietly for anyone to hear. ‘Please help.’ But there is no one. Where is everyone? Help should be racing up the road, screeching to a stop. Help should be here but it’s not. It’s as far away as it’s ever been.

If you passed Alice on the street, you couldn’t help but smile. At how she holds hand with her husband, Jack, who she has been with since university. At the way she admires her three beloved boys, the centre of her universe.

But if you looked very closely, you’d see how tightly she holds Jack’s hand, afraid to let go. You’d see how carefully she watches her boys, scared to look away. You’d see her smile fading in a matter of seconds, and the secret she hides behind her chestnut-brown eyes.

She has told Jack that she ran away from home when she was younger – but she didn’t tell him the whole story. Her husband doesn’t know about the guilt she bears about the little sister she failed to save, the secret that torments her.

Now, after a lifetime of fresh starts, Alice receives a message spelling out her past. Everything she cherishes, the world she has lovingly built, threatens to collapse in on her. Without her family, she is nothing – and Alice will stop at nothing to save them.

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MY REVIEW:

This wasn’t an easy book to read. With themes of abuse, addiction and neglect it is a heartbreaking story that told of the evil that lurks inside some people and the lasting repercussions their terrible actions have on their victims. But it was also a story about courage, survival and strength. The story moves seamlessly between the dual timelines to tell the stories of three women and how tragic events that occurred thirty years ago changed their lives forever. 

The three narrators were complex, fractured and tragically real. I liked Alice and admired her strength, how she’d managed to build a happy family instead of repeating her mother’s mistakes. Reading what she went through as a child was devastating and I admired her for still visiting her ailing mother despite the agony it caused her and felt a deep sense of injustice for the fact she would never get the acknowledgement or apology she deserved. Molly was a likeable character and the one I related to most of all, having suffered a similar pain in trying to have children myself. It seemed immediately obvious who Molly was, and my heart hurt for what was to come when she ultimately learned the truth of her birth and dreadful past. I found myself on edge when reading her chapters because I was anticipating it happening and scared she would face another tragedy with this pregnancy. Margaret was certainly not a likeable character but I liked the author’s decision to give her a voice. It meant that instead of simply being an evil villain we see the nuance to her character, see the broken and weak woman inside and learn why she ended up the way she did. Her story is tragic and I definitely had mixed feelings about her. While there was some empathy for what she’d gone through as a child and the devastating loss of her husband, I couldn’t shake my anger at what she allowed to happen to her own children: her nonchalance at their existence and focus on her own pain being eased. I wanted to scream at her to stop being so bloody weak and protect her children. Her story highlighted how addiction ravages more than just the person addicted. I think she was let down by the system as well as her children, as if the authorities had noticed what was happening to the kids, they would have seen what was happening to her too. With help all of them could have had a very different life. 

This was the first time I have read a book by this author and I will definitely be reading more. She wrote about a multitude of tragic and difficult subjects and every one was written with skillful sensitivity. She portrayed the character’s pain vividly and made them all so real it was easy to forget I was reading a work of fiction rather than a harrowing true story. The story started slowly, steadily picking up pace until it was so tense and compelling that I couldn’t tear myself away. 

The Nowhere Girl is a deftly told, stark and poignant novel. Despite its bleak themes it is also a hopeful story of forgiveness and the healing power of love. It is a powerful and emotional story that I would recommend. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nicole Trope went to university to study Law but realised the error of her ways when she did very badly on her first law essay because-as her professor pointed out- ‘It’s not meant to be a story.’ She studied teaching instead and used her holidays to work on her writing career and complete a Masters’ degree in Children’s Literature. After the birth of her first child she stayed home full time to write and raise children, renovate houses and build a business with her husband.

The idea for her first published novel, The Boy under the Table, was so scary that it took a year for her to find the courage to write the emotional story. Her second novel, Three Hours Late, was voted one of Fifty Books you can’t put down in 2013 and her third novel, The Secrets in Silence, was The Australian Woman’s Weekly Book of the month for June 2014.

She lives in Sydney with her husband and three children.

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The Forgotten Wife by Emma Robinson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for this beautiful novel on publication day. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and for the gifted ARC of the novel.

Publisher: Bookouture
Published: January 27th, 2020
Format: Kindle
Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction.

SYNOPSIS

It was a wooden box, white with yellow and green flowers. Shelley ran a finger over the  embossed lettering – Memories – pressed her lips tightly together, feeling her heart pounding in her chest… and opened it.

When Shelley first met Greg, her life had been full of possibility. A whirlwind romance, a dream wedding, moving into their first house together, thinking about starting a family…

But now it’s ten years since their wedding. Greg has gone. And there’s room in the house where Shelley has shut a baby blanket away. In a box, under a bed, in a spare room, behind a door she never opens. If it’s there, she can forget about it. Just like everything else in that room. Just like her other memories. Of a marriage that perhaps hadn’t been perfect. Of a life that hadn’t gone the way she’d expected.

She’s been managing to hide from her past. Every day she acts like everything is normal. Going to work and following a routine helps her pretend the bad stuff never happened.

Until one day, everything changes. She sees the couple moving in next door, giggling as they walk up the path to their new home. The woman is pregnant. It’s like she has everything that Shelley has lost. But when Shelley properly meets Lara, she soon discovers she’s carrying a heartache to match Shelley’s own.

As her friendship with Lara deepens, Shelley starts to wonder what might happen if she opens the box she’s hidden away. Will the secrets from her past – about what was lost, what she’s hiding from and what she has been doing her best to forget – destroy her?

A heartbreaking, emotional drama about the power of friendship that will  make readers laugh and cry.

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MY REIVEW:

The Forgotten Wife is a poignant, soulful and uplifting story about tragedy, heartache, rediscovering yourself and the power of friendship. I devoured this book in just a few hours, the beautiful writing and addictive story making it impossible to tear myself away until the end.

The story is narrated by Shelley and Lara and begins the day Lara and her husband Matt move into the house next door to Shelley. They start to get to know each other, each secretly wishing they could just be alone as they are both nursing secret pain that is crippling their lives. As they get closer the two very different women learn they are more alike than they realised and that the other could be just what they need to help them heal their broken hearts.

Shelley and Lara were wonderful characters. Shelley has isolated herself since her life imploded when her husband, Greg, left her a year ago. She’s angry, bitter and finding it hard to move on like she knows she should. She’s put up a wall to prevent any further pain from people leaving so she’s not exactly warm and welcoming when Lara moves next door and seems to want to get to know her. Lara and her husband Matt are expecting their first child and have a blissful, perfect life that Shelley envies. But Matt fusses over Lara and won’t let her do anything, and Lara is avoiding her friends so she doesn’t have to face what she calls the worst time in her life. They are very different – Shelley is introverted, quiet and indecisive, while Lara is confident, outgoing and focused. At least that is how it seems. A they grow closer their full selves are revealed as they feel able to share the truth about themselves and their pain. I connected to both women and things they went through and loved the warm and tender friendship they shared. 

I am a big believer in some books coming to you when they’re supposed to, and this one came at exactly the right time for me. Though there was a lot in this book that should have made it a painful and difficult read for me I actually found it a therapeutic experience and I know a part of that is the talent of the author. Robinson has a knack for getting into your soul and breaking your heart while uplifting you and giving hope at the same time. She is an exquisite storyteller whose prose is tender, beautiful, clever and addictive. One of the twists was so surprising it had my jaw on the floor and turned everything I thought I knew upside down.

The Forgotten Wife is an emotional, powerful and wondrous novel that I can’t recommend highly enough. Just be warned that you’ll need tissues at the ready as it pulls on your heartstrings again and again. My love for Robinson’s writing is now solidified and her books are now on my auto-buy list. I just need to get myself emotionally prepared in time for the next one. 

I will leave you with this quote from Make Way For Joy by Marie Kondo, a book that features throughout the story and sums up my big takeaway from this novel – “In order to heal, you have to feel.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Emma Robinson is the author of five novels about motherhood and female friendship including The Undercover Mother.

Her fifth novel – The Forgotten Wife – will be out in January 2020.

When she is not writing, Emma is an English teacher and lives in Essex with a patient husband and two children who are an endless source of material.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Publisher: Orion
Published: January 23rd, 2020
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this delightful novel. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part, and to Orion and NetGalley for the eBook ARC in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Lido comes a story of friendship, belonging and never giving up your dreams.

Welcome to the café that never sleeps.

Day and night, Stella’s café opens its doors to the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It’s a place where everyone is always welcome, where life can wait at the door.

Meet Hannah and Mona, best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They love working at Stella’s – the different people they meet, the small kindnesses exchanged. But is it time to step outside and make their own way in life?

Come inside and spend 24 hours in Stella’s café, where one day might just be enough to change your life…

MY REVIEW: 

Have you ever had that feeling where you just want to climb inside a book and live there? That’s how I felt about The 24-Hour Café, a delightful, heartwarming story that warmed my insides like hot chocolate on a cold day. 

The story takes place over twenty-four hours at Stella’s, a London café that has a style all of its own, sharing glimpses of the lives of two of its waitresses, best friends Hannah and Mona, and some of its customers. Over the course of the day we get to know these people, see what they’re going through, what matters to them and how their interactions with each other affect their lives, some in ways they don’t expect. It is a story about life, love, friendships, dreams and heartache. We see people at their best and their worst, when they are at their happiest and when their life is falling apart.

At the centre of the story is Hannah and Mona. The friends both live and work together, the café providing them with flexible conditions perfect for continuing to chase their dream careers – Hannah of being a singer, Mona of being a dancer. They’ve always been more like sisters than friends but this past year, things have changed and they’ve grown apart. Can they fix their problems or are things broken forever? That question is underlying over the course of the book and I was so invested in these characters that I was rooting for things to be fixed.

I devoured this book in under twenty-four hours and just couldn’t put it down. It was an easy but immersive read, with interesting characters that felt real and relatable. I immediately cared about Hannah, our first narrator, and felt the same about each character as they were introduced. I loved the different stories the author created for each narrator and how she made me genuinely care about them individually. The writing was uplifting and alluring, transporting me to this world that felt real, the vivid descriptions of Stella’s making me want to hop on a train to London and go there. 

The 24-Hour Café snuck in at the very end of the year to take a place in my top books of 2019. It is a book that manages to be quietly understated and dazzling at the same time and I predict this will be on everyone’s must-read list in 2020. If you’re looking for a delicious, captivating and touching read, this is the book for you.

*thank you to @head_in_a_book_18 for allowing me to use her lovely picture in this post.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Libby Page is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Lido. Her second book The 24-Hour Café launches in January 2020.

Before writing The Lido Libby worked as a campaigner for fairer internships, a journalist at the Guardian and a Brand Executive at a retailer and then a charity. 

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Twitter
Instagram
Website

Libby also shares her swimming adventures with her sister Alex on Instagram

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon
Book Depository
Waterstones

Categories
book reviews

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in ‘80s, and of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great, forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story nears its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Written with Reid’s signature talent for creating “complex, likeable characters” (Real Simple), this is a mesmerising journey through the splendor of old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means – and costs – to face the truth.

MY REVIEW:

“I had come to Hollywood to do one thing, and I was going to do it.”

79 year old Evelyn Hugo has lived a glamorous life. The Hollywood legend is as famed for her seven husbands as her movie career. After years of silence she’s finally ready to reveal all and appoints journalist Monique Grant as the person she wants to tell the truth about her life to the world.

As she tells her fascinating and salacious story, Monique can’t help but wonder why she was chosen for this job and what Evelyn means when she says it will become clear. As Evelyn tells her tale, Monique slowly learns there is more to the reclusive, glamorous and enigmatic Evelyn than people know and listens as her own life is changed forever by the shocking revelations she unveils.

This book is a masterpiece. I fell in love with everything about it – the evocative writing, the detailed characters and the immersive story. It’s just breathtaking. I’ve obviously heard of Taylor Jenkins Reid as she’s hugely popular in the book community, but this was my first time reading anything she’s written. I am now a fan. With this one book I know I want to read everything she has and will write (Daisy Jones is next on my list).

I also fell in love with Evelyn. She’s sharp, witty, ambitious, calculated and larger than life. Listening to her tell the full truth of that life for the first time was like a roller-coaster of all your emotions. Everyone thinks they know her story but the truth is far more dramatic, beautiful and devastating than any movie she’s played a role in.

“I never felt I had much choice in the matter. Being wanted meant having to satisfy. At least, that was my view of it back then.”

Moving to Hollywood was what Evelyn saw as her ticket out of living Hell’s Kitchen with her abusive father. But little did she know that she wasn’t really escaping, just trading a downtrodden existence where she is used and abused for a glamorous one filled with the same things. The book talks about the things now being highlighted by the #MeToo movement such as sexual favours in exchange for better roles, and talks about how she was turned into a star version of herself by stylists, given elocution lessons and told how to answer questions in interviews. It wasn’t about who she really was but who they wanted her to be for the public. And that included who she was supposedly in a relationship with. The press pieces that are included sporadically give a fascinating insight into how the media portrays things versus the reality and the difference between a public persona and who someone really is.

As the title suggests Evelyn has been married seven times. Sometimes it was for convenience, other times for love. And at the heart of this novel is a beautiful love story that’s very real; it involves ups and downs, fights and an overwhelming love for each other that outlasts every other love in their lives. It’s the kind of love you dream of and for Evelyn it came with added complexities such as the expectation to be with a certain person by the studio, rather than to actually follow her heart. I read the book hoping she would have a happy ending with her true love after all she’d been through in life. I’m not going to spoil it and say if it happens.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a mesmerising and spectacular novel that I couldn’t put down, devouring it within a day. The story and its title character are both unforgettable and will stay with you long after reading.

Out now.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Wish List of Albie Young by Ruby Hummingbird ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this uplifting story. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and to Bookouture and NetGalley for my copy of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can float to the top.

Maria Birch is seventy years old and, for her, every week is the same.

On Monday, she does her weekly shop. On Tuesday, she goes for a blow-dry. On Wednesday, she visits the laundrette. But Thursday is her favourite day of all- everything hurts less on Thursday.

Every Thursday Maria walks to her local café. Waiting for her at one of the red gingham-topped tables is Albie Young, a charming man with a twinkle in his eye and an impressive collection of tweed flat caps. Every week, the pair share a slice of marble cake and a pot of tea.

Except, one week, Albie doesn’t turn up.

When Maria finds out what has happened, her perfectly ordered life is ripped apart. Suddenly, she is very lonely. Without her Thursday friend – her only friend – she no longer has the energy to circle the TV listings, she has no reason to leave her apartment, no reason to laugh.

Then she discovers that Albie isn’t who she thought he was, and she’s left wondering if she knew her friend at all. But Albie has left behind a legacy – a handwritten list of wishes he never got the chance to complete. 

Maria is resigned to facing the rest of her days heartbroken and alone. But fulfilling Albie’s wishes could hold the key to her happiness – if only she’s able to look past his secret…

This life-affirming and heartfelt tale is for anyone who has ever looked at their life and wanted more. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Keeper of Lost Things will love this poignant story, which shows us that for the truest loves, the end is never really the end…

MY REVIEW:

Inspirational, heartwarming and uplifting, this delightful debut novel was a joy to read and is one that will linger long after reading.

Seventy-year old Maria Birch lives a solitary life on a rigid routine. The one day she looks forward to, the only day she breaks free of her self-imposed isolation, is Thursdays. On Thursdays, she goes to the local cafe to share a slice of marble cake and a pot of tea with her friend Albie Young. Until the week he doesn’t show. When she learns her beloved friend has passed away Maria is devastated, hiding herself away once more, until she comes across a handwritten note Albie left behind. The note is a wish list of things he wanted to do for others and has some of them ticked off. Maria decides to complete Albie’s wish list to honour her friend and finds herself on a journey of self-discovery she never expected. 

This poignant tale started slowly and sadly and I was beginning to wonder when it would start to be the uplifting story I was promised, but I am glad I persevered, and after a while we follow Maria out of the darkness and into a lighter, life-changing time that was deeply moving. 

When we meet Maria we see she is a lonely figure and that she lives for her Thursdays with Albie. He’s her only friend and we know she shut herself off from life many years ago after an unknown event that haunts her. She’s been overtaken by a crushing sadness leaving her broken, full of regret and feeling unworthy of love and happiness. We get brief glimpses of happier times in her life that slowly reveal the heartbreaking tragedy she endured and help us understand her actions. For me it made Albie’s death becomes all the more devastating in light of all she has already lost and I was fighting back tears. But Albie’s list gives her a new lease of life. In carrying out the acts of kindness she sees that she is loved, finds joy in human connection and realises she still has a life to be lived to the fullest. I loved this character from the start, the sadness and fear radiating from her made me root for her to find a better life for herself and I was invested in her journey every step of the way.

This was a wonderfully written story about love, loss, kindness, fractured people and what can happen when you bring people together. It reminds us not to wait to tell someone we love them, mend a broken bridge, to follow our dreams and live life to the fullest because we never know what tomorrow may bring. It also shows us that we matter even if we think we don’t and that there are people who love us and miss us in our absence and that we can make a greater impact on those around us than we ever imagined.

 

The Wish List of Albie Young is a touching, tender, honest and hopeful story that will leave you feeling determined to live your best life and to share in “The Albie Effect”

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ruby Hummingbird is a novelist based in the English countryside. She loves nothing more than writing uplifting and heartwarming fiction that gets her readers reaching for the tissues. When she isn’t storytelling, she can be found tending to her beloved sunflowers or sipping hazelnut lattes. The Wish List of Albie Young is her debut novel, and it promises to be a real heartbreaker. 

You can find Ruby on Twitter at @HummingbirdRuby, on Facebook at /ruby.hummingbird.58 and on Instagram at rubyhummingbirdauthor.

The Wishlist of Albie Young - Blog Tour

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour Review: I Wanted You To Know by Laura Pearson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I’m delighted to share my review for this beautiful story today. Thank you to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and the photo, and NetGalley and Agora Books for my copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

Dear Edie, I wanted you to know so many things. I wanted to tell you in person, as you grew. But it wasn’t to be.

Jess never imagined she’d be navigating single motherhood, let alone whilst facing breast cancer. A life that should be just beginning is interrupted by worried looks, heavy conversations, and the possibility of leaving her daughter alone to grow up without her.

Propelled by a ticking clock, Jess knows what she has to do: tell her daughter everything. How to love, how to lose, how to forgive, and, most importantly, how to live when you never know how long you have. 

From best-selling author Laura Pearson comes her most devastating book yet. Honest, heart-wrenching, and emotionally raw, I Wanted You To Know is a love letter to life: to all its heartache and beauty, to the people we have and lose, to the memories and moments that define us.

I Wanted You to Know is Laura Pearson’s third novel.

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MY REVIEW:

This book broke me. It reached into my heart and soul and took my breath away, making me cry a river of tears along the way. As soon as I read the raw and powerful opening letter from the author to the reader, I was already needing tissues and knew I was in for an emotional ride. 

What would you want your child to know if you found out you weren’t going to be there as they grew up? That is the heartbreaking question addressed in this mesmerising and poignant novel. 

Twenty-one-year-old Jess is getting to grips with being a single mum to baby Edie when the rug is pulled from under her and she’s told she has breast cancer. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine she’d be facing a fight for her life so young or so soon after becoming a mother. What will happen to Edie? What about all the things she wanted her to know? So, she decides to write to her daughter. Beginning each letter with the words “Dear Edie, I wanted you to know…” she imparts the wisdom she thinks her daughter will need about life and love, while also telling her who her mother was so she will have a chance to know her even after she’s gone. Jess is open and honest in these letters, never shying away from her own flaws and mistakes and sharing her fears about having cancer.

As well as these letters, we follow Jess from the day of her diagnosis, her attempt to come to terms with the awful news, her fight against the disease, and her relationships with those closest to her. I don’t want to say too much about what happens on that journey as part of the beauty of this book was discovering that. 

I loved the author’s decision to blend prose and letters as it made this book all the more moving by helping me connect with Jess’s character on a deeper level. Jess was real to me and I was completely invested in her story.  As a mother, I couldn’t help putting myself in her place and my children in Edie’s, and this was not only devastating, but gave me an admiration for the strength she possesses and dignity with which she carries herself. But I also liked that she had many layers and flaws, which only endeared her to me. I felt quite maternal towards Jess and while writing this I realise I’m probably about the age her mother is in the story, so that makes sense. I wanted to reach through the pages to comfort her and tell her how amazing she is and spent the whole book hoping for a happy ending for this young girl. 

This isn’t a book that shouts from the rooftops and makes your heart race. It is one that has a more soft and subtle allure and draws you in with the feeling that radiates from its pages. I anticipated an emotional novel but I was not expecting to be so moved that I had to read the last part of it with tears streaming down my cheeks or feel so ravaged when the story ended. 

What I want you to know is that I highly recommend this book. Just make sure to have the tissues handy and be prepared for possibly finding a new must read author – just like I have. 

Finally, I want to address the author herself: Laura, I am in awe of your bravery and strength in writing this novel. You are an exceptional writer and inspirational woman. You not only conveyed Jess’s feelings so acutely that they lept off the page, but you did the same with every single character. The pain, grief, anger and regret was palpable and made me a wreck as I read it. I will never forget this story or the way it made me feel. Thank you for writing it and sharing it with the world. 

Publication date October 3rd. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura Pearson has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester. She spent a decade living in London and working as a copywriter and editor for QVC, Expedia, Net a Porter, EE, and The Ministry of Justice. Now, she lives in Leicestershire, where she writes novels, blogs about her experience of breast cancer (www.breastcancerandbaby.com), runs The Motherload Book Club, and tries to work out how to raise her two children.

I Wanted You To Know (Final eBook)