Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

A stunning debut about a girl who has learned how to survive – but not how to live.

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is fine. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except sometimes, everything.

No-one’s ever told Eleanor life should be better than fine. But with a simple act of kindness she’s about to realise exactly how much better than fine life can be. 

Published 18th May 2017 by Harper Fiction (UK) 


Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine was one of those books which, pre-publication, gained a lot of attention and praise. I'd actually picked this up from Amazon Vine before I'd heard anyone else talking about it, then became very excited as I read all the hype. I'm going to come right out and say it - It didn't quite live up to it for me. That's not to say I hated it, there were parts I thought were absolutely fantastic. But I do have mixed feelings about it. It took me a while to get into. In fairness, I was pretty exhausted and wasn't having the best of weeks - feeling pretty restless and prickly myself. I put it down to that, because then I did really begin to enjoy it.

I found it difficult to connect with Eleanor to begin with, despite my love of a quirky character I just didn't warm to her. In fact, at one point I felt a bit annoyed, in a scene involving a bikini wax, as I felt the character was actually being ridiculed. It was, I guess, supposed to be a humorous scene, but it didn't make me laugh. It just didn't ring true to me. Eleanor clearly has severe social difficulties,  yet I felt her traits were so stereotypical and contrived, she became almost a caricature in the first few chapters of this book.

As I read on though I became absorbed in Eleanor's metamorphosis, and did find myself charmed by her. I particularly enjoyed her unfurling friendship with Raymond, who takes Eleanor under his wing after a shared experience brings them together. This is such a genuinely, innocent and touching friendship and I loved the subtle little moments scattered throughout which depict Eleanor's emerging feelings of friendship and connection to him beautifully. I also really loved seeing her growing confidence, and when it all came crashing down around her, I felt heart broken and devastated for her. There's some shocking and difficult scenes later on in the book which I thought were written superbly, with brutal honesty and raw emotion.

Eleanor is a character who grew on me slowly, and I felt it was in the second part of this book I really became to understand her. It's made clear from the start that she's suffered a traumatic and abusive past, although a mystery surrounds just what exactly did happen to her for much of the book. However, Gail Honeyman doesn't go for the bombshell approach to revealing Eleanor's secrets, and I really liked that as it suited the story and the character well. Rather, through little snippets, we learn what happened as Eleanor is ready to slowly share and there's an authenticity here which I did really appreciate. By the end of the book, I'd become totally invested in this character's life and hoped that she would be completely fine after all. I'd actually love to read a follow on and see what life does in fact have in store for Eleanor.

So, there, for me this was a book of two parts. the first I found difficult to connect with and felt unease at how this character was being depicted. I was pleased to find that as the book evolved, Eleanor became more rounded and complex and believable, and less of a caricature. Ignoring the awkward bikini wax scene, Gail Honeyman does manage to inject some dark humour along with more lighthearted moments successfully. However, it's Honeyman's engaging writing and the increasing understanding, connection and development of Eleanor which made the second half of this book truly stand out and redeem itself for me. While I wasn't as blown away as other readers. I did feel by the end it was a book worth reading and would recommend to others, with a warning to stick with it if you feel as I did.

(I read an advance proof copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program)

Cover Reveal: Sunshine After The Rain by Daisy James

I'm thrilled to be able to share with you the cover of Daisy James' new book, Sunshine After The Rain today. Personally, I think it's gorgeous ....what do you think?  




Sunshine After The Rain by Daisy James

A summer that changes everything…
Frazzled workaholic Evie Johnson has finally had enough! When she’s blamed for a publicity disaster at the art gallery she loves, she decides to flee the bright lights of London for the sun-drenched shores of Corfu and turn her life upside-down.

Under the shade of the olive trees, she picks up her dusty paintbrushes and begins to chase the dreams she had put aside for so long. But she never expected to bump into drop-dead-gorgeous Sam Bradbury – and certainly not whilst wrapped only in a towel!
A summer fling is the last thing Evie wanted but a few stolen kisses under the stars might just begin to change her mind… 

Published 5th July 2017 by HQ Digital (UK) 

Doesn't it sound like just the most perfect holiday read? I'm looking forward to getting my hands, or eyes! on this. 

Book Review: The Last Piece Of My Heart by Paige Toon

Meet Bridget, a successful travel journalist with ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog into a novel. But, after numerous rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition: Nicole Dupre died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel, and the family need someone to finish it. Bridget is just thankful to have her foot in the publishing door. But as she gets to know Nicole’s grieving family, and the woman behind the writing, Bridget’s priorities begin to change …  

Published 18th May by Simon & Schuster (UK)  

This book was absolutely perfect for me as I read it. I've had a rubbish week and I just wanted something warm, something to get involved in and make me smile. With a cast of characters to fall in love with, stunning settings and a romance to melt your heart, I got everything I wished for. Definitely a seven second hug - this book hit every spot.

Thirty something travel writer Bridget has had an eventful love life up to now as she easily falls in love time and time again. When she comes up with the idea of catching up with her ex-boyfriends and asking for the pieces of her heart she gave them, while blogging about her journey, she hopes to convince her agent that this will make a great novel. What she's not expecting is to be offered a job as a ghostwriter, to finish the sequel of popular novelist Nicole Dupre. But the job comes with decisions - Nicole's grieving husband insists she must move to Cornwall to fully immerse herself in Nicole's ideas and inspiration. As Bridget finds herself living in her Dad's camper van and tiptoeing about Nicole's home and bereaved family, she's not convinced she made the right decision at first. But she's about to discover she still has a piece of her heart left to give away - and she couldn't be more surprised by the person who eventually takes it.

I LOVED Bridget. She's fun, witty, and slightly bonkers with a huge heart filled with compassion. I'd love to have a friend like Bridget - I don't think you'd ever be bored in her company and she's completely endearing without being overbearingly sweet. She doesn't take herself too seriously, and can laugh at herself and her mistakes which gives her an added charm. I was rooting for this character all the way.

I guessed where The Last Piece Of My Heart was going pretty early on, but this didn't make the journey there any less enjoyable. The developing romance and relationship in this book is beautifully observed, so that the reader feels the increasing tension as it happens. It's a building romance, which develops slowly and is entirely believable given the difficult circumstances surrounding it. Awkward and messy combined with touching and tender ensures that you can't help but get behind it. There's some difficult themes of grief, loss and moving on covered, and I felt Paige Toon did so sensitively and thoughtfully.  I also lost a little piece of my heart reading this book, courtesy of a very special little character!

 I was bowled over by the heartfelt and honest writing which drew me in and connected me to these characters, becoming as invested in their lives as if I knew them myself ... that's how real and credible they were. As for the setting, well it couldn't have been anymore perfect, and had me yearning to visit Cornwall. With Bridget's intriguingly quirky blog writing research lending lighter, laugh out loud moments, The Last Piece Of My Heart lead me on a roller-coaster of emotions, ending with one huge, soppy smile. I absolutely loved this warm, gorgeous, feel-good book and can't fault a thing.

(I read an advanced proof courtesy of the publisher)






Book Review: The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo


Two people. One choice. What if?

Every love story has a beginning…

11th September 2001. Lucy and Gabe meet in New York on a day that will change their lives – and the world – forever. As the city burns behind them, they kiss for the very first time.

Over the next thirteen years they are torn apart, then brought back together, time and time again. It’s a journey of dreams, of desires, of jealousy, of forgiveness – and above all, love.

As Lucy is faced with a devastating choice, she wonders whether their love is a matter of destiny or chance.

…what if this is how their story ends? 

Published 18th May by HQ (UK) 

I'd read so many amazing things about this book, with praise for its beauty and intense emotional impact. It sounded very much like my perfect type of read, but there's always that concern when you've built up your expectations that reality won't quite live up to it. So, to make it clear right away. This book completely lived up to my expectations and I absolutely adored every single word.

The beauty is in its simplicity really, the story of falling in love and developing a connection to last a life time. It happens all the time, every day the world over, unremarkable to others while being sweepingly huge and all consuming to individuals. What's special about this book is how Jill Santopolo sweeps the reader along with Lucy and Gabe's romance, intimately inviting them to share the intensity of it all. The book is narrated by Lucy, speaking in an almost confessional style to Gabe, so that all the emotion, excitement, disappointments and dreams are first hand as she spills her heart, leaving nothing unsaid.

The book spans over a decade, as the couple's lives take them in different directions yet remain connected. Lucy and Gabe meet on September 11th 2001, as terror and tragedy unfold around them, and while the book isn't really about the attacks themselves, I thought the author conveyed the rawness of emotions and intensity of connections made in the face of such tragedy, and how the experience influences their future choices and direction, convincingly and honestly.

Jill Santopolo's writing is beautiful. It just flows. Reading The Light We Lost is effortless, despite the emotional journey of highs and lows. Her portrayal of relationships is exquisite, depicting strengths and flaws, generosity and selfishness, happiness and heartache. As Lucy tells her side of this story of enduring love, there's a feeling we're heading to an inevitable, without knowing what it is. When it came though, it rocked me - leaving me to pick up my broken heart and put it back together again. The Light We Lost is simply stunning, every word of that early praise I'd read is true, Romantic and emotionally intense and written with the most beautifully effortless prose, I know I'll be thinking about this book for a long time to come.

(I read am advance proof copy courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)

Book Review: The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite

A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret. 
Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village. 

Nothing can shake her happiness - until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home. 

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk? 

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger… 

Published 12th May 2017 by Bookoutre (UK)  

I really had no idea what to expect when I started this book, the author being completely new to me. However, a lot of bloggers whose opinions and tastes I've grown to respect were very excited about it, and so caught up in that excitement I thought I'd give it a go. How pleased I am that I did, because not only does The Darkest Lies sit up there with some of the best psychological thrillers I've read this year, but something about this book got right under my skin.

The Darkest Lies is told in a second person narrative - I can't remember the last time I read a book in this style and it works so very, very well here. Melanie's thirteen year old daughter goes missing, and is then found battered and on the brink of death. The book is narrated by Melanie, to her daughter, and details the days following the attack and the ensuing investigation. I found this an incredibly honest, raw and emotional way to tell the story and became instantly connected to Melanie.

I hadn't been prepared to relate so strongly to Melanie, but it was like she was living my very worst fears. I'm the parent of an almost thirteen year old daughter myself, and everything about this story rang true. The relationship between Melanie and Beth was authentic and the events leading to the horrendous attack are realistic and believable - it's likely there are similar stories playing out between teenagers around the country as we speak. Melanie's reactions following her daughter's attack were also brutally honest, with Barbara Copperthwaite not shying away from depicting the real, raw and desperate side of her grief.

The Darkest Lies is set in a small community, where everyone knows one and another and each others business. Or so they believe. But this twisty, gripping tale weaves a sordid tale of a community full of secrets, small and large, and reveals just what people are willing to sacrifice to protect themselves. The finger of blame points in many directions, but I truly could not have guessed the truth. Then just when I thought the case was resolved, the author pops another twist in there which, to be quite honest, left me speechless.

This wasn't altogether an easy read for me - a lot of the themes are quite close to home, tapping into some of my biggest fears as the mother of a teenager in the twenty first century. I found it emotional, horrifying and scarily believable and it sent me running up to my daughter's room just to give her a hug at one point (yep, I got the eye-roll from her). Barbara Copperthwaite's writing is gripping and she knows exactly how to deliver a twist to make your jaw drop. Her character's are extremely well observed and believable, as is the tension and feelings of unrest and suspicion in the small community. The descriptions of the stark and wild marshes were atmospheric and eerie, providing the perfect backdrop to this fast-paced, heart-thumper of a thriller. The Darkest Lies is a book I'll be able to remember vividly for a long time to come and I really can't wait to read more from Barbara in the future.

(I read an ebook courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)





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