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…

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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

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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

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!

Book review: Big Bones by Laura Dockrill

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Big Bones
By Laura Dockrill
★★★★
Pub date: 8th March 2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books

I read a lot. Probably not as much as I’d want to but a lot nonetheless. However, I do not write reviews of all the books I read. Probably like most book bloggers. Big Bones, though… deserve a mention here because it’s just like a sunny day in the middle of winter.

Written by renowned author Laura Dockrill, the story revolves around Bluebelle, aka BB, aka Big Bones – a sixteen-year-old girl encouraged to tackle her weight even though she’s perfectly happy, thank you, and getting on with her life and in love with food. Then a tragedy in the family forces BB to find a new relationship with her body and herself…

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Big Bones is the first YA novel that I have read in 2018 and I am glad I requested a digital copy from NetGalley. It was a lovely reading experience because Dockrill really knows how to write and the story was hilarious.

BB is awesome, her experiences brought back memories from when I was a teenager myself and her way of looking at life was refreshing. This is a story about body confidence and getting to accept who we really are – both physically and mentally.

It’s an easy read, very well written, funny, raw and honest. The book is intended to be Bluebelle’s food diary but in it, she also writes about her family, her thoughts and feelings, her aspirations, feminism and body positivity. To be honest, I’ve never read something like this before – this is not a book about a toxic relationship with food, in fact, it’s quite the opposite and it’s empowering.

The story was believable and I think it was only once or twice where I found myself doubting the plot. The characters were warm and seeing the heroine being so happy in her own skin was inspirational.

It’s a story about food, friends, boys and family but above all is a story about trying to be healthy, taking care of oneself and finding balance. I loved the development of BB’s attitude and genuinely enjoyed every page. All in all, this book is a success and I hope everyone gets the chance to read it.

Big Bones out on 8th March and you can get your copy here.

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

 

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…

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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?

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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: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz
By Heather Morris

★★★★
Pub date: 11th January 2018
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

I try to read as many books as I can and some people will understand me when I say that my to-read list increases by the day. I buy books when I still got tons at home. This one I didn’t buy, though. I received the ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. So here it goes:

The Tattooist of Auschwitz tells the incredible story of the Lale, the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist and the woman he loved.

Lale Sokolov is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies’ man. He is also a Jew and this is why he is taken from his home country, Slovakia, to Auschwitz in 1942. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tätowierer– the tattooist – to mark his fellow prisoners, forever. One of them is a young woman, Gita, who steals his heart at first glance.

His life given new purpose, Lale does his best through the struggle and suffering to use his position for good. This is the story of Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov, a real-life Holocaust survivor.


When I was around 17 years old, I read The Diary of Anne Frank, a book that changed my life. It’s true,  Anne’s story changed me for good and during many years I studied and read a lot about Second World War: how it developed, its repercussions and of course the Holocaust. I’ve read multiple non-fiction titles on the matter and I also visited Auschwitz and Auschwitz II Birkenau in Poland many years ago. No soul is prepared to learn about what happened there.

When I read about The Tattooist of Auschwitz on social media, I instantly knew I wanted to read this one but I honestly didn’t expect to find such a story.
Full of beauty and hope, the book is based on years of interviews that author Heather Morris conducted with Lale Sokolov, our protagonist.

Throughout the chapters we learn about Lale, where he comes from, his family, his feelings and how he ends up becoming the tattooist of Auschwitz. We discover how was life in the concentration camp and we are present when he first meets Gita and falls in love with her. The omniscient narrator helps us understand what is going on at all times and that’s why I never found myself lost in the story.

This is a difficult story that will keep the reader hooked from its very beginning. What is going to happen to Lale? Will he see Gita next week? Is it true what they say about the gas chambers? Will he live to see another day? The Holocaust is a difficult topic but it is something that it’s important to know – and read – about.

The message that the book gives us is heart-wrenching, illuminating and unforgettable. In fact, Lale’s story is unforgettable – just as all of the stories of those who ended up in a concentration camp during the war.

What I liked the most was not only that it was beautifully written but that the book is based on a true story. So yes, it is history and real facts and it is about love and about friendship and about sadness, and joy. It’s about our history – one that we all hope will never repeat itself.

Lale’s and Gita’s story is worth knowing so thank you, Heather, for putting it down on paper. And thank you to the publishers for seeing the potential of this book and bringing it to life.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz will be published in January 2018.
You can pre-order 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 extraordinary.

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.

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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 . . .

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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.