Book review: Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
★★★★★
Publisher: Fig Tree – Penguin General
Expected publication: 15 October 2020

2020 hasn’t been an easy year. God, I don’t think it has been easy for anyone! My mood goes up and down and fluctuates when I hear the news of what is happening around the world. However, I’ve been finding pleasure in the little things that surround me.

It’s true that I am a bit behind my reading challenge but I recently had the opportunity to read the upcoming novel by Dolly Alderton. If you’ve read my previous entries. you’d know how much I enjoyed her memoir , Everything I Know About Love, so I was incredibly excited about reading this one. And believe me, it didn’t disappoint!

Ghosts tells us the story of Nina Dean, who has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. So, when she meets Max – who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her – it feels like all is going to plan.

Her new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time, given that some friendships are fading away, her ex-boyfriend Joe is moving on and, even worse, everyone has decided to move to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing slowly into dementia.


Magnificent. This is what I can say about this novel: it is absolutely magnificent.

I of course enjoyed the way in which Alderton writes, pulling the reader into the story and making them part of Nina’s life. I found myself laughing with Nina and her best friend at some point and really mad at our protagonist on another occasion. I walked the streets of London with her and understood what she was going through.

The chapters went quickly and I found myself looking forward to reading in bed at the end of my day, just to I could see what would happen to Nina and Max. As I mentioned before, I felt close to Nina and I had a hard time when she realised that her dad is slowly leaving her side due to dementia. It was sad, raw and completely real.

The novel explores love relationships, family, memory and the importance of friendship. It was incredibly funny and tender and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I highly recommend this book, honestly. It is like life itself and I liked that it left me with a very rewarding feeling afterwards.

For more information about the book you can check it our on Waterstones and Amazon.

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: On a Beautiful Day by Lucy Diamond

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On a Beautiful Day
By Lucy Diamond
★★★★
Pub date: 11th January 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Every year, Lucy Diamond publishes a new book and when January comes, I am always excited wondering what she will be releasing in the months to come. On a Beautiful Day is her latest novel and tells the story of four friends who meet for a birthday lunch up in Manchester. But then, they witness a shocking accident just metres away and this acts as a catalyst for each of them.

For Laura, it’s a wake-up call to heed the ticking of her biological clock. Sensible Jo finds herself throwing caution to the wind in a new relationship. Eve, who has been trying to ignore the worrying lump in her breast, feels helpless and out of control. And happy-go-lucky India is drawn to one of the victims of the accident, causing long-buried secrets to rise to the surface.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I LOVE Lucy Diamond’s novels and On a Beautiful Day didn’t disappoint me. Her books are like a sunny morning in the middle of January and they all make me turn the pages and smile.

To be honest, I didn’t read the blurb before starting the book – I just trust Diamond that much – so it was very exciting and interesting seeing the events unfold before my eyes. After reading so many thrillers in a row, I was craving a bit of the good feeling that come after a nice chick-lit title and this one was like sunshine.

Lucy knows how to write and the chapters are easy to follow. She guides the reader through the facts and also explains what is going on inside their heads, which really makes you connect with the characters and her feelings.

After they witnessed the terrible accident, our four friends try to continue with their lives but what they saw will have consequences. All of them have a story to tell and all of them contribute to the plot in a different way. I see the characters as the various stages that a woman could face throughout her life: Laura is thinking about babies and getting pregnant, Eve’s marriage broke apart and she’s starting a new relationship, India realises that you cannot run away from your past but have to face it and resolve it instead and Eve will deal with a complicated diagnosis that is going to turn around the way she looks at life.

This book is brilliant and it made me smile all the way through. Although I am younger than the characters in the novel, I see myself in the way they think and act. This is why I think On a Beautiful Day is another success for Lucy Diamond. It is a novel about the unexpected turns that life can take. It is about luck, (good and bad, of course!) and about finding yourself when your world seems to be falling apart.

Above all this is a novel about friendship, hope, love and the city of Manchester.

If you haven’t read any of Diamond’s novels, I’d recommend you start from the beginning and enjoy all of them! Summer at Shell Cottage, The Year of Taking Chances and The House of New Beginnings have been my favourite ones so far!

You can read more about the author here.
Don’t forget to grab your copy!

Book review: Close to Home by Cara Hunter

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Close to Home
By Cara Hunter
★★★★★
Pub date: 14th December 2017
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK

I finished this book last week and I am still thinking about it. It’s just too good to be true. I have been reading a lot of thrillers / crime novels recently but this one… this one will really stay with me.

The story revolves around Daisy Mason, an eight-year-old who vanishes from her family’s Oxford home during a costume party. Detective Inspector Adam Fawley knows that nine times out of then, the offender is someone close to home. And Daisy’s family is certainly strange – her mother is obsessed with keeping up appearances, while her father  is cold and defensive under questioning. And then there’s Daisy’s older brother, so withdrawn and uncommunicative…

DI Fawley works against the clock to find any trace of the little girl, but it’s as if she disappeared into thin air–no one saw anything; no one knows anything. But everyone has an opinion, and everyone, it seems, has a secret to conceal.

But how can a child go missing without trace? They’re all certain it was Daisy on a flower costume at the party…

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

I wasn’t expecting Cara Hunter’s first novel to be so good. I didn’t plan to get so hooked but this thriller was really incredible.

I really liked how the book was plotted and developed. Nothing is what it appears in this investigation but Hunter knows how to guide us (through flashbacks and interviews) in order to gain insight into Daisy’s family and what led to her disappearance.

The chapters and events move quickly and in an engaging manner. I felt completely part of the plot and I found myself questioning the incidents, interviews and suspects at all times. The way in which the author presents our current social media trends was also fascinating – with Facebook and Twitter posts that represent the public opinion while the suspects undergo trial.

The writing is crisp and immersive and the story feels real. I was completely hooked, reading chapters fast, wanting to know what happened and who was responsible. I also liked DI Fawley and his team – how they gathered the information and came up with clues and evidence.

As the chapters went by, I kept changing my mind and couldn’t decide who the perpetrator was. I was clueless, I honestly had no idea – and that was brilliant because it kept me intrigued, wanting to find out the truth.

You’re in for a real twist when the book comes to its end too!
Congratulations to the author, this was just brilliant! I cannot wait to read her new book – In the Dark – which will be published in July 2018.

Grab your copy of Close to Home here!

Book Review: It Started with a Tweet by Anna Bell

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It Started with a Tweet
By Anna Bell
★★★★
Pub date: 7th December 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

When it comes to books, I read loads of different genres but oh… give a chick lit novel anytime! I adore Lucy Diamond’s books (particularly The House of New Beginnings and The Year of Taking Chances) so I was excited when I got a digital copy Anna Bell’s new book. Bell is well known for being the author of The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart (Bonnier Zaffre, £7.99) and has been named as the new ‘queen of romantic comedy’.

It Started with a Tweet tells the story of Daisy Hobson, who literally lives her whole life online. A marketing manager by day, she tweets her friends, instagrams every meal and arranges (appalling) dates on Tinder. But when her social media obsession causes her to make a catastrophic mistake at work, Daisy finds her life going into free-fall…
Her sister Rosie thinks she has the answer to all of Daisy’s problems – a digital detox in a remote cottage in Cumbria, that she just happens to need help doing up. Soon, too, Daisy finds herself with two welcome distractions: sexy French exchange-help Alexis, and Jack, the brusque and rugged man-next-door, who keeps accidentally rescuing her.

But can Daisy, a London girl, ever really settle into life in a tiny, isolated village? And, more importantly, can she survive without her phone?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

When I started reading the book I hadn’t had a look at the the blurb so I didn’t know what the book was about but that’s exactly what I liked about it – I was not expecting anything that happened in the story and it turned out to be one of the funniest books I’ve read all year.

I liked its warmth and the characters, particularly our heroine, Daisy (she’s just hilarious) and her sister Rosie. I could relate to the journey they both go on in so many ways. It’s a journey of self-discovery that is not only well-written but also believable. I also liked the romantic elements of the story (of course) and didn’t expect a few things that happened with both Alexis and Jack.

The descriptions of Cumbria and the beautiful English countryside were something I really enjoyed. They took me back to the time I spent in Yorkshire surrounded by  green fields and being taken back there was wonderful, tbh.

This book is chick lit at its best with a good lesson hidden between the pages.
Five stars (also because I read it when I needed it most).

You can read more about It Started with a Tweet by clicking here.
And don’t forget to get your copy here!

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much to the publisher, it was the funniest of books!

Book review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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Thirteen Reasons Why 
By Jay Asher

★★★★
Pub date: 6th August 2009
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Children’s

So many good books out there, so little time to read them all, right? I agree. However, if you’re going to choose just one book to read this summer, make it this one.

If you follow my blog, you’d have noticed that the books I talk about are the ones that I really liked but mostly, titles that I loved reading. And I really loved Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

This YA novel revolves around  17-year-old Clay Jensen, who returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier.  Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them and if he listens, he’ll find out why.

– – – – – – – – –

I am sure you’ve heard about Thirteen Reasons Why. I am sure you’ve heard about Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker. I know because it’s been all over the place – Netflix launched the TV adaptation a few months ago and it is just so good that a lot of people have decided to read the book as well.

I must confess that I watched the series before reading the book and that I was hooked from the first episode. The same didn’t happen with my friends who told me that they didn’t connect with the characters at all.  Well, of course they didn’t. We are 27 years old and they are supposed to be 10 years younger than us. It is a YA novel – its aimed at young adult readers. And the same happens with the series.

I connected with the characters though, and the actors. I think most of them do a pretty good job and I really (really!) enjoyed watching the series. So I decided to give the book a try and I was not disappointed at all.

I am not going to lie, I was expecting exactly the same story… but they are different. If you read the book first and watch the series afterwards (or viceversa) you’ll find that things are not the same in the book and in the TV adaptation. That happens all the time, though and it’s normal because they have different ways of telling a story and you have to keep the viewers (and readers) hooked from the very beginning.

The plot is not only great but the way the story is told is amazing. I liked how Clay thinks about Hannah and how much you get to understand his feelings. You understand more of what happens to Hannah in the TV series so I definitely recommend watching the series too because it develops the characters a bit more – which is really interesting.
The series is much more explicit than the book and probably aimed at older viewers.

Suicide is a dark topic but it is also something that needs to be talked about. I read so many opinions around the internet and I’ve heard everything. However, I honestly don’t think the book idolises what Hannah did and neither does the series. Both state that, in spite of everything… what Hannah did was her choice.

It was the suspense and the feelings of the characters that kept me hooked. I wanted to know why Hannah did what she did. Did she really have thirteen *valid* reasons to end her life?

I guess it’s your turn to decide.

You can read more about Thirteen Reasons Why here.
And if you feel like reading it, click here to buy the book.

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much to the publisher, it was such a shocking story!

 

Book review: Happy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnes Martin-Lugand

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Happy People Read and Drink Coffee
by Agnes Martin-Lugand

★★★★
Edition: Paperback
Published: 07/07/2016
Publisher: Allen & Unwin

The first time I saw this book was in Waterstones Piccadilly, in London, and I loved the title, really – and the cover. I didn’t buy it then, though. A friend of mine mentioned it last month when I was visiting Madrid and it was then when I decided to give it a go…

The book tells the story of Diane, who has  a charmed life as a wife and mother and who is the owner of a literary cafe in Paris called Happy People Read and Drink Coffee. But when Diane suddenly loses her husband and daughter in a car accident, her whole world is shattered. Trapped and haunted by her memories, Diane withdraws from friends and family, unable and unwilling to move forward.

A year after the accident, Diane shocks her loved ones by leaving Paris to move to a small town on the Irish coast to rebuild her life alone. There she meets Edward, a brooding, handsome photographer who lives next door. Initially Edward resents Diane’s intrusion into his solitary life, but before long they find themselves drawn to each other . . .

– – – – – – –

This is a heartbreaking and uplifting story and I can say that I loved every word. It is an easy read in the sense that the story moves fast but it is also very sad to read what happens to Diane and how she lives after the car accident because she is clinically depressed and doesn’t work. She also spends her days in bed, drinking coffee, smoking and remembering her husband and daughter. However, when she decides to leave Paris and moves to Mulranny, in Ireland, her life changes.

Yes, she finds a new man. Edward but even though I really liked Diane, I found him very rude and disturbing but I must say I did like how their story develops. I won’t tell how it ends but I admire this book because it shows hope and bravery. It is not unrealistic and Diane doesn’t move on, forgets her husband and finds a new love in a short period of time – instead, the story focuses on how she finds herself again, her path and how she grows to accept what has happened to her.

Highly recommended, this is an enlightening novel that won’t leave you indifferent. I couldn’t have found a better novel to finish 2016 – because after the hard year that we’ve left behind, this book has shown me that there’s still hope, and a reason to keep fighting.

You can read more about Happy People Read and Drink Coffee here.
And if you feel like reading it, click here to buy the book.

Book review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Finding Audrey
by Sophie Kinsella

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Edition: Hardback
Publisher: Random House Children’s Publishers UK
★★★★★

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella was a book that I remember seeing on the shelves numerous times. Its attractive and mysterious cover made me think of Audrey Hepburn but the truth is, I never really looked at it properly. It was one of my colleagues who told me about the author and her books and highly recommended it. So when I found a hardback copy of the novel at YALC’s book swap last summer, I decided to give it a go. And I’m very happy I took the time to find Audrey, really.

Sophie Kinsella’s first YA novel revolves around a fourteen-year-old girl who cannot leave her house. This is, of course, Audrey. An anxiety disorder disrupts her daily life and she wears sunglasses all the time. She can’t even take off her sunglasses inside the house. Then her brother’s friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again – well, Starbucks is a start. And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do the things she’d thought were too scary. Suddenly, finding her way back to he real world seems achievable. Be prepared to laugh, cry, dream and hope with Audrey as she learns that even when you feel you have lost yourself, love can still find you…

– – – – – – – – –

I loved this book so much!  The above blurb does not make it justice, I promise. Finding Audrey has been recently been added to my All-Time-Favourites and it will remain there. There’s no much I can say except that it is funny – I was laughing out loud while reading it – that I loved the characters (all of them) and that it is believable, sweet and inspiring. This book raises its voice and presents the reader with a main character who suffers from an anxiety disorder, a main character who is depressed – and that, I think, is really powerful.

This is not your typical YA novel – mind you, give me a typical YA novel any time! – and that is very beautiful. Yes, there is Linus and the feelings she develops for him but the book is much more than that: it’s a story about courage, family, respect, understanding, support, friendship, mental health and finding oneself. Please, read it – this book is SUNSHINE.

Book review: The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart

The Boyfriend List*
By E. Lockhart
* 15 guys, 11 shrink appointments, 4 ceramic frogs – and me, Ruby Oliver

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Publication: 14th July 2016
Paperback / eBook
Publisher: Hot Key Books – Bonnier Zaffre
★★★★

I love a good YA novel; that’s a fact. So when I saw we were publishing this title by E. Lockhart (the first one in the Ruby Oliver series) I couldn’t help myself: I needed to grab a copy!

This funny title revolves around Ruby Oliver, aka Roo – who is fifteen and has a shrink. It’s just because she’s had a pretty awful past ten days, though. During this period of time he has: lost her boyfriend (#13 on the boyfriend list), lost her best friend, lost all her other friends, did something suspicious with a boy (#10), did something advanced with a boy (#15), had an argument with a boy (#14), drank her first beer (someone handed it to her), got caught by her mom (ag!), had a panic attack (scary), lost a lacrosse game, failed a math test, hurt Meghan’s feelings, became a social outcast, and had graffiti written about her in the girls’ bathroom. Ruby lives to tell the tale, though. Through a special assignment to list all the boys she’s ever had the slightest, little, any-kind-of-anything with, comes an unfortunate series of events that would be enough to send any girl in a panic.

– – – – – – – –

This book really (really) hooked  me and it was very difficult for me to put it down.I felt trapped!

It’s YA at its best; a book in which the author explores some of the challenges of being a teenage girl: boys, highschool, gossip, dances and female friendships.

Ruby is extremely funny and I like that the author doesn’t present her as a perfect character: she makes mistakes, she doesn’t appreciate her real friends or her parents enough and she hangs on to boys for all the wrong reasons.
But when she starts seeing Doctor Z, she clearly begins to understand what’s going on around her – and learns a few good lessons along the way.

Despite the great amount of boys in this book –  in fact, there are so many that I lost track of which one Ruby was talking about -I learnt a lot because of the message that is present in the story and what can be read between the lines: the effects of toxic relationships, gossip, fake friendships and their influence in mental health and dating patterns.

Lockhart is fantastic; and her writing style is super funny and witty. If you enjoy YA, give it a go – for real. And don’t forget there are 3 more books in the series…

  • The Boy Book
  • The Treasure Map of Boys
  • Real Live Boyfriends

Book review: London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning

London Belongs To Us 
by Sarra Manning

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Publication: 02/06/2016
Paperback / eBook
Publisher: Hot Key Books, Bonnier Zaffre
★★★★

The first time I heard about this book was during my first week at Bonnier Zaffre and most of my colleagues seemed excited about this new title by author Sarra Manning. Oh, okay – I thought – another book about London, another girl-meets-boy  book in which they will discover the marvellous city they live in. And well, no need to say I was -obviously – completely wrong.

London Belongs To Us tells the story of seventeen-year-old Sunny, who has always been a little bit of a pushover. However, when she’s sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she know she’s got to act. The story presented in the novel presents the reader with a mad, twelve-hour dash around London – starting at 8pm in Crystal Palace (so far away from civilisation you can’t even get the Tube there) then sweeping through Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensington, Notting Hill… and ending up at 8am in Alexandra Palace.

Along the way Sunny will meet a whole host of characters she never dreamed she’d have anything in common with – least of all the handsome (and somewhat vain) French ‘twins’ (they’re really cousins) Jean Luc and Vic. But as this love-letter to London shows, a city is only a sum of its parts, and really it’s the people living there who make up its life and soul. And, as Sunny discovers, everyone – from friends, apparent-enemies, famous bands and even rickshaw drivers – is willing to help a girl on a mission to get her romantic retribution.

– – – – – – –

I started reading Sarra’s novel when I was having my hair done in a terrible, terrible place near Kilburn Park station. I had forgotten my book at home but luckily, I was carrying my eBook reader with me and I remembered I had London Belongs To Us ready to be discovered. And what a marvellous read!

As someone who has moved to London from another country, I am fascinated by this city and I find really interesting to discover new things about it. The main character of this novel is young, funny and loves London more than anything else. Her enthusiasm for the city is contagious and the way in which she tells the story is brilliant!  I loved that each chapter in the book began with the name of a place in London followed by a description of its history because it was very interesting to learn more about it.

I also liked to see London’s diversity playing a key role in the book – because if there’s something great about the city, that is its diversity and also the respect that flows throughout its streets – and how the author succeeds in making London a character itself.

I was trapped from the very beginning and laughing out loud all the way through. The plot is fast-paced (the whole story takes place within 12 hours) and is full of fantastic descriptions of people’s feelings. The writing is exceptional – I am already looking forward to reading some other books written by the author – and the characters are adventurous and engaging.

I gave it four stars because I didn’t find the end as satisfying as I’d have loved to. There was something missing there! However, that’s just how I felt about it: some people have told me that the ending didn’t disappoint them and that they really liked it!

I guess you’ll have to read it in order to find out.

May you all have fun with Sunny around London!