Tuesday, 20 October 2020

2020 Reading Challenge | The Vow by Debbie Howells

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The Vow by Debbie Howells - 4/5 

"Two weeks before her wedding, a stranger stops Amy in the street and warns her she's in danger. Then that night, Matt, her fiance, doesn't come home. Desperate, Amy calls the police - but when Matt fails to emerge, she's forced to call off her wedding day.

Then another man is reported missing, by a woman called Fiona - a man meeting Matt's description, who was about to leave his fiancee for her. He was supposed to be moving in with her - but instead, he's vanished.

Amy refuses to believe Fiona's lover can be her Matt - but photos prove otherwise, and it soon becomes clear that Matt has been leading a double life. As the police dig deeper, two conflicting, yet equally plausible stories emerge from two women who allegedly have never met.

The wedding day never happened. But the funeral might."

What a great read!

Amy is getting married to Matt. She has an 18 year old daughter called Jess from a previous relationship and feels like she is given a second chance at love when she meets Matt.

Amy is a herbalist and creates remedies from plants that she has grown in her garden. This is an integral part of the story. Whilst delivering an order, an old lady randomly approaches Amy and tells her not to trust Matt and that she is in danger. Amy thinks nothing of it. That night, Matt disappears and she reports it to the police.

Another woman named Fiona then reports her boyfriend as missing. It turns out to also be Matt and she claims that he was about to leave Amy for her. He had been leading a double life. But is Matt the only connection that the two ladies have?

The story is told from the narratives of Amy, Fiona and Jess. We learn that Jess has never liked Matt but said nothing because she thought that her mother seemed happy.

We also have flashbacks of an tragic event that happened back in 1996 between a Kimberley and Charlie. In true thriller fashion, everything unravels and makes sense as you read on. It had me totally gripped! 

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

The Winter We Met by Samantha Tonge

The Winter We Met by Samantha Tonge - 5/5 

"When charming, mysterious Nik sits next to Jess on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair, she never could have imagined the impact he'd have on her life. As they touch down in London, Jess is hesitant to let Nik walk away, and before she knows it, she's invited him to visit.

As the two take in the delights of the toy store where she works, Jess gets an upsetting phone call. Willow Court, her grandmother's care home, is to close before Christmas. Jess is determined to find the perfect new home for her Gran – and throw the best Christmas party Willow Court has ever seen!

But time is running out with the closure looming and Jess becomes increasingly drawn to enigmatic Nik who joins forces with her and best friend Oliver to realise those plans.

Will a chance encounter on an aeroplane bring love to Jess's life or is this Christmas miracle too good to be true?"

I am so excited to be on the blog tour for this wonderful book today and what a beautiful read it is! Thank you Aria Fiction.

Jess and Nik meet on a flight from Nuremberg to London after a toy trade fair. He is an Australian toy manufacturer who is visiting London to get some ideas from other locations and Jess is the manager of a toy shop.

I went into this book blind and assumed it would be a typical festive themed romance but it is so much more than that.

Jess's grandmother is in a residential care home called Willow Court and they get the sad news that it is closing down. They won't get to have their annual Christmas party and understandably, the residents are devastated at the prospect of moving out and being split up.

Nik accompanies Jess to the care home and charms everyone there. It was lovely to see the dynamics between the residents and learn more about each person's backstory. Alf is definitely my favourite as he loves a good conspiracy theory - even coming up with one about Nik!

Jess's best friend and roommate Oliver is suspicious of Nik, stating that no one is that nice and willingly visits the care home of a relative of a girl he only just met. I instantly thought the same upon reading and assumed it was too much of a fluffy, easy, cut and dry romance but I couldn't be more wrong.

There is a really deep backstory for Jess regarding her family life and relationship with her mother and Nik shares a lot about his life too. It's written so well and I just loved every bit of it!

It is a beautiful, heart-warming, Christmassy book that is full of not only romantic love, but the unconditional love between friends too.

Thursday, 8 October 2020

2020 Reading Challenge | The Move by Felicity Everett

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The Move by Felicity Everett - 2/5 

"Karen is driving through a strange landscape into a new life. Always a city girl, now she is on her way to an idyllic country cottage, refurbished for her with impeccable taste by her husband Nick. They’re making a fresh start.

But something is awry in the new house – it’s not just the fact that Karen and Nick are ill at ease in one another’s company – that their recent history is far from picture perfect, it’s the whole vibe. The landscape is breathtaking by day, eerie by night. If the countryside is supposed to be a place of peace, far away from curtain-twitchers, who is the person watching them from the hill? And who are their new neighbours?

With Karen only recently emerging from a dark place in her life, can she find the trust in her husband Nick to let go of events that have followed them to their new house?"

The book opens with Nick and Karen moving into their new home in the country. They lived in London previously and it becomes clear that Nick bought the house and renovated it while Karen was getting help with mental health issues. The reasons for that becoming clear as you read on.

It is obvious that Nick is gaslighting her. He seems perfect to everyone else, buying her a new house, moving his life in the city which he loves to a home in the quiet countryside, even setting up her own space (complete with kiln) for her to making her pots and other pieces. Their relationship is obviously troublesome and Nick's relationships with his sons (Ethan, with Karen and Gabe from a previous marriage) are very different too. I would have liked to have seen more from these characters.

I felt like the book plateaued out a bit. It was basically a book about their life in this new house with no real chase or climax. A few parts got me a bit excited but nothing really came of it. Not one for me. 

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

2020 Reading Challenge | Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

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Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall - 
Nancy, Eleanor and Mary met at college and have been friends ever since, through marriages, children and love affairs.

Eleanor is calm and driven, with a deep sense of responsibility, a brilliant career and a love of being single and free - despite her soft spot for her best friend's husband.

Mary is deeply intelligent with a love of learning, derailed by three children and a mean, demanding husband - she is now unrecognisable to herself and her friends.

Nancy is seemingly perfect: bright, beautiful and rich with an adoring husband and daughter - but beneath the surface her discontent is going to affect them all in terrible ways.

When Nancy is murdered, Eleanor and Mary must align themselves to uncover her killer. And as each of their stories unfold, they realise that there are many different truths to find, and many different ways to bring justice for those we love...

It is going to be hard to review this without spoilers but I'll give it a go!

The book follows three women who became friends at university; Eleanor, Nancy and Mary. They are now in their late 40s. 

Each of their lives have taken a different path. Eleanor never married nor had children, Nancy was married to Robert and had one daughter called Zara and Mary who was the "other woman" to Howard, a man 20 years her senior whom she ending up marrying and having three children with.

The story is split into three parts, each told from the perspective of each of the women. We find out that Nancy is having an affair and she dies following a meeting with the man she is seeing. But who killed her?

These women, as the book title says, are far from perfect. Eleanor is in love with her best friend's husband, Nancy is having an affair and Mary is living with a husband who treats her horribly. 

I struggled with this one. Although it is in three parts, Eleanor's is first and takes up almost 50% of the whole book. I wasn't drawn in by her story but luckily, I'm not the type to leave a book so I persevered. I was glad I did. Nancy and Mary's chapters are wonderful. We hear about Nancy's postnatal depression after Zara was born and the backstory of Howard and Mary and how their relationship progressed over the years.

The last half of the book definitely had me hooked so although it's a slow burner, it is worth powering through.