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 . . .

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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: 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?

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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: 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.

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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: 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…

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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

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.

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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!