Book review: Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

Saving Missy by Beth Morrey
★★★★★

Publisher: HarperCollins
Available now

I’ve been reading a lot lately, and who hasn’t? It’s been a week since the Swiss government announced that we should remain at home and avoid socialising. All shops and cinemas are closed and I have been working from home since Monday. It’s not been ideal, not at all, but I am lucky.

I have decided that I want to write a new blog post every Sunday (just because it’s a very easy day to sit down and update the website) so here’s my review of one of the most beautiful books I’ve read this year – Saving Missy by Beth Morrey.

The book tell the story of Missy Carmichael. Living in her old London house, she grieves for a family she has lost touch with and is haunted by the echoes of her past.

She’s completely alone but that is exactly what she deserves – after what she did, there can be nothing else ahead of her. Right? However, an encounter in the nearby park with two neighbours will change her way of life and will open the door to something new.

Another life is waiting for Missy – would she brave enough to take it? Well, seventy-nine is too late for a second chance, isn’t it?


Saving Missy by Beth Morrey is one of those books that fills you with joy. It’s like a hot cup of coffee on a rainy morning and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Our protagonist, Missy, is terribly British. She is terribly lonely too and does not believe in second chances, thank you very much. Memories of her life come back to her constantly and her days pass uneventfully until one day she meets two women in a nearby park: Sylvie and her younger friend Angela, single mum to Otis.

Sylvie and Angela take an interest in Missy and they develop a lovely friendship that will make Missy’s life take a turn for the better.

The book is narrated in the first person and it is full of flashbacks in which the reader will learn more about Missy’s younger years: her university days, how she met the man that became her husband and life as a young mum. There’re plenty of things to discover about Missy and the events that made her who she is today.

Heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time, this novel includes a great mix of characters, a believable plot and a very lovely dog named Bobby.

There’s humour and sadness and a sense of community – and lots of cake too.

To be honest, I didn’t expect this to happen but I gave Missy a chance and she filled my days with joy!

For more information about the book you can visit the Amazon page here.

Book review: The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

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The Five : The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper
By Hallie Rubenhold
★★★★★
Publication day: 28 Feb 2019
Publisher: Doubleday

I would certainly say that my 2020 will be a year full of books and, most of all, full of non-fiction titles. To be honest, I don’t know why but I have been picking up biographies and memoirs since the beginning of the year. The one I am reviewing today bewitched my mind to the point that I was unable to put it down.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold tells the story of Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane, five women who are famous for the same thing. They are known as the Canonical Five and were killed by Jack the Ripper at the end of the XIX century. The person responsible was never identified but the character has become far more famous than any of these women.

And I say women, not prostitutes, because for more than a century we’ve believed that ‘The Ripper’ killed only prostitutes and – as the author has discovered – this is untrue.These women were mothers, daughters and lovers. They walked the streets of London and died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. In this book, Hallie Rubenhold sets the record straight and reveals the live stories of these fascinating women.


Genuinely devastating, this book opened my eyes to life in Victorian London. It is the life portrayed in Dickens’ novels: a life of poverty, homelessness, illness and misogyny. It was deeply unsetting and honestly addictive. Made me want to know more about life during these years and how the society reacted to the Whitechapel murders.

The book is divided into five different parts and each of them narrates the life story of the different victims. The book is not only incredibly well written but thoroughly researched. Rubenhold clearly knows what she is writing about.

What I really liked about the book is that the author treats the victims with respect and offers no judgement to their life choices or behaviours which is utterly remarkable. No gruesome details or horror stories are given to the readers, nor pictures of the women either, which made the author’s message clear: these women were victims that were treated without any kind of respect and it’s time to change that. For the last century, their murderer has attracted more attention than them to the point that nowadays there is a Jack the Ripper museum and walks around the sites of the murders.

What Rubenhold tries to make us understand is that the victims were not ‘just prostitutes’, they had a life, desires and feelings – and they deserved kindness and appreciation. Maybe it’s time we start giving it to them.

Read more about the book on goodreads.
The book is available to buy now from Amazon and all good bookshops.

Little Book Review: So Lucky by Dawn O’ Porter

So Lucky
By Dawn O’Porter
★★★★★
Pub date: 31 October 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins

IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .

Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.

AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS?

Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.

And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…

Fearless, frank and for everyone who’s ever doubted themselves, So Lucky is the straight-talking new novel from the Sunday Times bestseller.

Actually, you’re pretty f****** lucky to be you

————


Genuinely uplifting, deeply joyful and hugely funny tale. It made want to read without a pause. The stories of the three protagonists felt real and imperfect, which is what I liked most about the book. 

The writing was raw and the novel is filled with life lessons that will make the readers rethink twice about their own lives.

Really excellent. Highly recommended.

Book review: After the End by Clare Mackintosh

After the End
By Clare Mackintosh
★★★★★
Pub date: 25th June 2019
Publisher: Sphere

I have been reading a lot of non-fiction recently. I have truly enjoyed reading biographies and self-help titles so I am not sure why I picked After the End by Clare Mackintosh and decided to give it a go but I can tell you that I was hooked from the very first line.

After the End is a beautiful and heartbreaking novel that revolves around Max and Pip, the strongest couple you’d ever know. They’re best friends, lovers – and unshakable. But then their little son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time in their lives, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son.

As the consequences of an impossible choice threaten to devastate them both, nothing will ever be the same again and anything can happen after the end . . .

– – – – – – – – – – –

This was a truly gripping read. As I said before, I was hooked from the very beginning because both the story and the characters were compelling and real. I have read many books by the author and they are all filled with mystery, questions and suspense. This one was the same. Each chapter was different and unique and even though I had read about difficult decisions in books such as Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, I didn’t think this story would turn out to be so memorable.

I loved every minute of it and Mackintosh made me face different aspects of my own personality. What would I do if I were in Max and Pip’s shoes? Can love and marriage survive something so brutal and big? What is the moral thing to do? Do people really face this kind of situations? Of course they do but then again, how can they possibly function normally?

Mackintosh’s book is an exploration of marriage, parenthood, love and regrettable decisions, as well as those ones we’re completely certain about. It’s a story of loss and makes the reader face alternative endings as the characters find their own fates. People have been saying that this book touched their souls. It certainly touched mine and left me struggling to go back to my own life once I turned the very last page.

With emotional power and her amazing writing, the author helps readers to see that sometimes the end is just another beginning – even if it’s difficult for us to realise it.

Read more about the author here.
After the End will be published next month, don’t forget to pre-order your copy!

Book review: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Girl, Wash Your Face
By Rachel Hollis
★★★★★
Pub date: 8 March 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

On my last day working at Hachette UK, my lovely colleagues gave me a very special present. It was one of the most thoughtful I have ever received. It was an Amazon Gift Card with a certain amount of money they hope I’d spend in kindle books. And that’s exactly what I have done. I have bought lots of books with the card and Rachel Hollis’ Girl Wash Your Face is one of them.

I was looking for something to boost my self-confidence and this book appeared as one to read on so many websites that I went on Amazon UK and bought it straight away.

In her first book, founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis helps readers break free from the lies keeping them from the joy-filled and exuberant life they are meant to have.

Written with wry wit and hard-earned wisdom, each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Rachel once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy and ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with insight and kindness to help women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Let me start by saying that I am not one for inspirational Instagram quotes with gold letters and pastel backgrounds so when I first started reading Girl, Wash Your Face I was more than a bit sceptical. Could this famous American blogger teach me something about self-esteem and confidence? Really? Without even realising it, I had started judging Hollis’ book and I was sure she couldn’t tell me anything new about myself and the lies I have firmly believed for the last 28 years.

I was wrong, of course. Once I started the first chapter, I couldn’t stop reading. I read Rachel’s book on my way to and back from the office and also before I turned off the light and went to sleep at night. I found her advice uplifting, funny, honest and direct. Most of all, it felt real. I felt as if I was able to trust what was written in-front of me. With a combination of humour and no-nonsense advice, Rachel Hollis was able to teach me many things.

I learnt about the lies I have too been telling myself: that when I get the perfect flat / job / handbag / clothes I will be happy. That I am not good enough, that I will start tomorrow, that there’s only one right way to be and that loving my boyfriend is enough for me. Just to mention a few.

Let me tell you that I highlighted more sentences in Hollis’ book than in any other on my kindle library. Her advice made me smile and it made me feel stronger. I think that deserves five big and shiny stars.

Of course there would be people out there who won’t like what she has to say or her background but I feel it’s only fair to let her to put pen to paper and write what she knows, just in case it can help someone else.

To be honest, her words helped me. They opened my eyes at the right moment because what she says it’s true: the only person responsible for your happiness is you. Which is truly fantastic.

You can read more about Rachel Hollis here: The Chic Site
And don’t forget to check out Girl, Wash Your Face here.
Hollis’ new book, Girl, Stop Apologising is out now.

Book review: Expectation by Anna Hope

Expectation
By Anna Hope
★★★★
Pub date: 11th July 2019
Publisher: Doubleday

I woke up this morning wanting to get online and write a book review. Since I moved to Switzerland a couple of months ago, I have been reading lots of great thrillers and non-fiction titles but Expectation by Anna Hope touched my soul and I felt I wanted to write a little bit more about it.

The story starts by introducing us to Hannah, Cate and Lisa – three young friends who are full of life, vibrant and inseparable. They live on the edge of a common in East London and their world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come.

Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?

– – – – – – – – –

Written from the point of view of our main protagonists, I felt this book was like life itself. We find Hannah and Nathan, who are trying to become parents, Lissa and her failed career as an actress and Cate, who married Sam and cannot understand why. At the beginning of everything, they are hungry for adventure and desperate to live their lives but ten years on, they have all followed different paths and ended up in separate places.

This is a novel about the highs and lows of friendship, a novel about selfishness and remorse and families and about those dreams that never came true. It’s a story that is alive and that presents us with true life situations while exploring the space between expectation and reality. Our main protagonists will find their way out of the maze but how will they achieve that if they cannot longer trust each other?

I really enjoyed this novel, even though it made me sad to read what was happening sometimes. Friendship can dip, dive and rise again and it was inspiring to see these three women trying to find their feet again. Most of all I enjoyed the writing, Hope knows how to write.

This was not only a beautiful story but a beautifully written book too.

You can read more about the book on goodreads.
Don’t forget to pre-order / buy your copy here

Book review: Needlemouse by Jane O’Connor

Needlemouse
By Jane O’Connor
★★★★★
Pub date: 27 June 2019
Publisher: Ebury Press (Fiction)

I’ve been requesting a lot of books from NetGalley lately and I think it’s because I really want to read and enjoy as many as possible this year! This one was sitting on my digital library for a few weeks before I decided to give it a go and what a joyful book!

The story revolves around Sylvia, a PA who lives alone and dedicates herself to her job at the local university. On weekends, she helps put at the local hedgehog sanctuary because it gives her something to talk about on Mondays – and makes people think she’s nice than she really is.

And Sylvia has a secret: she’s been madly in love with her boss, Professor Lomax, for over a decade now… and she’s sure he’s just waiting for the right time to leave his wife. Meanwhile she stores every crumb of his affection and makes trouble for anyone she feels gets in his way.

But when a bright new PhD candidate catches the Professor’s eye, Sylvia’s dreams are soon in tatters, driving her to increasingly desperate measures and an uncertain future.

Sylvia might have been sleep walking through her life but things are about to change now she’s woken up…

– – – – – – – – – – – –

I really, really enjoyed this book. I was not expecting to like it so much as the main character can be really annoying in the first few chapters but there was something about the story that kept me hooked and it was really worth it.

As I was reading the book, I felt more and more drawn to Sylvia and her personality and she reminded me a bit of Eleanor in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I found Sylvia’s story more interesting though and truly uplifting. As I turned the last pages, I had a wide smile on my face.

It was a really cosy book that I read in a heartbeat. The characters were believable and the hedgehog sanctuary brought warmth and real hope to the story. Family relationships are also a big part and Sylvia’s resolve to overcome what happens around her is admirable.

It’s a very satisfying read that will let people realise that sometimes in life, we go through phases of hibernation and that is good (and fundamental) to wake up and truly go back to living our own precious lives.

You can read more about the book on Goodreads.
Don’t forget to pre-order / buy your copy here.

Book review: We’ll Always Have Paris by Emma Beddington

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We’ll Always Have Paris
By Emma Beddington
★★★★★
Pub date: 21st April 2016
Publisher: Pan Macmillan

This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time. If I remember correctly, I bought it in Waterstones when it first came out so I own the Hardcover edition which is absolutely lovely. So yeah, the book’s been sitting there for a while, looking at me and demanding to be read for two years and in October, I decided to pick it up and give it a go.

The book is a memoir written by Emma Beddington who, as a bored and moody teenager came across a copy of French ELLE in the library of her austere Yorkshire school. As she turned the pages, full of philosophy, sex and lipstick, she realised that her life had one purpose and one purpose only: she needed to be French.

Instead of skulking in her bedroom listening to The Smiths or trudging to Betty’s Tea Room to buy fondant fancies, she would be free and solitary, sitting outside the Café de Flore with a Scottie dog at her feet, a Moleskine on the table and a Gauloise trembling on her lower lip.

And so she set about becoming French: she did a French exchange, albeit in Casablanca; she studied French history at university, and spent the holidays in France with her French boyfriend. Eventually, after a family tragedy, she found herself living in Paris, with the same French boyfriend and two half-French children. Her dream had come true, but how would reality match up? Gradually Emma realised that she might have found Paris, but what she really needed to find was home.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

What a glorious book! I have no other words to describe it because I loved every minute of it and every word written in its chapters. I am huge fan of memoirs, biographies of narrative non-fiction titles so it won’t be a big surprise for you if I tell you that I devoured this book. I also gave it five stars because it deserves it.

The thing about this book is that it doesn’t feel like reading non-fiction. I was on the train to work and it felt like I was reading a novel with an exquisite main character. Emma’s story is a story of hope, of fighting to find something better for herself. It’s a story of courage, love, decisions, mistakes, French patisserie, culture, travelling and languages – it’s just life itself but felt like a compelling story with its main developments and quirky characters.

I felt very close to Emma from the very beginning because, as far as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be British. This made me spend a year studying in Leeds reading Film studies. I developed my English skills by reading English books, watching English-speaking films and changing my mobile’s phone language settings to English. I understood Emma and her struggles and I learnt from her experiences and mistakes. I learnt just by reading the book – about French cake, about the city of Paris, about life and I loved discovering that she made through it all.

I really enjoyed it because it felt like a friend telling me their story. Have you every met someone at a party or gathering and discovered how interesting their life is? So many adventures and anecdotes! This book is that and so much more.

We’ll Always Have Paris is back on my bookshelf, looking perfect with strikingly beautiful cover. – and Emma’s story is something I’ll be glad to revisit in the future.

Book Review: The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

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The Plus One
By Sophie Money-Coutts
★★★★★
Pub date: 9th August 2018
Publisher: HQ

I’ve been reading a lot but I haven’t had the time to sit down and write my thoughts on the books I’ve read which is not great so I am trying to make amends. I requested a copy of this book from NetGalley because I thought it sounded like an easy and funny read and it didn’t disappoint me in the slightest!

The story revolves around Polly (our protagonist) who, by the way, is completely fine. She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred), but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s stuck at Posh! magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one for her best friend’s wedding are looking worryingly slim.

But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that. Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together. Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’. She’s heard the stories and there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

I really really enjoyed this book. No, honestly – it was extremely fun and the reviews on goodreads don’t do it justice. I gave it five stars because it made me laugh out laud and it was the perfect summer read. Enjoy it in a terrace with a a diet coke by your side and you’re in for a treat.

Polly was fabulous and I think the situations she faces are the same that a lot of women face when they’re in their late twenties / early thirties. It’s sad but a lot of us usually feel like a failure and we promise ourselves that we are going to do better next year: we’re going to sort everything out, we’re going to be ourselves, move forward, eat healthier, drink more water, crave less chocolate and find our place in the world.

Her thoughts were relatable, the characters were interesting and I think the book and story fulfil its purpose: it’s an easy, romantic comedy that is going to make you laugh and have a good time. It’s true that I could see what the outcome was going to be but it didn’t make the book less special.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and I cannot wait to see what the author’s next work will be.

You can read more about The Plus One on goodreads.
The novel is out next month but you can pre-order your copy now!

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Book review: One Day in December by Josie Silver

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One Day in December
By Josie Silver
★★★★
Pub date: 18th October 2018
Publisher: Penguin

When I saw this book on NetGalley I thought it sounded great. The description and the pretty cover made me want to read it and it certainly didn’t disappoint me. It tells the story of Laurie, who is pretty sure that love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but in the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a boy who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic… and then her bus drives away.

However, these two strangers are fated to find each other again. Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop, cafe and bar in London looking for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when in matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the boy from the bus stop.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This book was pretty – really pretty – and I thought it deserved a mention on the blog. The chapters run smoothly and I could relate to the main characters from the very beginning. The friendship between Sarah and Laurie seems real and they look after each other just as I do with my best friend.

The love story between Jack and Laurie is complicated but then again, some love stories really are. They both have feelings for each other but life, as sometimes happens, comes in between them. It was really beautiful how they created a friendship in an attempt to hide their feelings. They both follow their paths in life as does Sarah and the different characters in the novel.

We follow their steps through life and see where it takes them. Different stories, different paths, different loves, jobs, parties and families. It’s a beautiful story about life, heartbreaks, marriage and the road that lies ahead.

I gave it four stars because the book deserves it. Silver knows how to guide the readers, maintain the suspense and create an amazing atmosphere. It felt like falling in love all over again and it’s nice to find a story that does that.

There’s pure joy to find between the pages. It’s immensely moving and definitely a ‘reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness’.

It will be published in a few months but do not hesitate to grab a copy as soon as you can. This is a lovely read that will make you believe in happy endings again.

You can read more about One Day in December by clicking here.
Pre-order your copy from Amazon now.

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review