Book Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

Title: By Your Side
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: January 31st, 2017
Pages: 352
Format: ebook
Source: Purchased

 

Synopsis (from Amazon):

An irresistible story from Kasie West that explores the timeless question What do you do when you fall for the person you least expect?

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn at first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Review:

If you know me, you know Kasie West is my contemporary queen.
I simply adore her books, and I always feature them in my WoW posts, because I am always eagerly anticipating her new releases.

Since I loved every single book she wrote, I don’t think I have to underline that my expectations for By Your Side were high as Empire State Building (and yes, I am copying that group/band Fun here).

I could blame my level of expectations for the fact that this was my least favorite book written by Kasie West I read so far (I still have to read her paranormal series).
I could, but I won’t, because, truth be told, By Your Side is just a solid contemporary story that explores mental illness.
When I say solid, I mean good solid.
You see, this book is good, but it isn’t special in any way, nor will it stay with me long (I mean, it will because I know it was written by West, but if it was written by some author I read for the first time, it’d probably end up in my “to-be-donated pile).

The story talks about Autumn who finds herself locked in a library for the whole weekend.
What would be a terrible experience turns out to be a bit easier event because she was not alone. Dax, a mysterious guy who goes to school with her, is there with her.
As they spend time together, they get to know each other better and become closer.

First of all, we bookworms would be happy as hell if we got to spend weekend locked in library (okay, maybe we wouldn’t be THAT happy, but still we wouldn’t mind because we love books).
Here, there is a totally different story, because Autumn is not a reader, so in my opinion, those two could have ended up being locked in the wood storage or steal depository, the story would be the same.

Second, what kind of library doesn’t have a landline??

Third, I don’t mind love triangles, but please, if you decide to put one of guys into coma and make him a part of love triangle, please give me a chance to meet him and potentially fall in love with him before you doom his destiny.
Therefore, I would prefer if this book had two more chapters in which we’d get to know Autumn, Jeff and their friends before the whole library thing.

The best part of this novel is West’s writing style. She is always amazing when telling the story, and this one was no exception.

I also liked was how anxiety was presented in this novel. From my own experience, it was believable.
Then again, I saw some reviewers saying it wasn’t presented properly, so I guess it depends on one’s experience and own observing.
I guess everyone handles anxiety in his own way, so interpretations can be different.

What turned me off from the story was how most of the characters were selfish and self-centered.
From Autumn’s friends who didn’t even notice her missing, to Autumn herself.
I get that she was anxious, but she was also selfish.
Jeff’s best friend (whose name I forgot) was also jealous for no reason other but because he was self centred.

All in all, By Your Side is a good book to pick up when you need a light read that will entertain you, but don’t expect too much from it.

Book Giveaway: Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

christmas-at-the-comfort

We have exactly one month to go until Christmas, so to help you get into Christmas Spirit, lovely people from HarperCollins UK offered one paperback copy of Christmas at the Comford Food Cafe to one lucky winner.

I read this novella back in September and I really enjoyed it.
If you want, you can read my review HERE.

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About the book:

The brand new Christmas romance from best-selling author Debbie Johnson and the follow up to ‘Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe’.

The Comfort Food Cafe is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu.

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Giveaway:

  • This giveaway is for UK residents only
  • You can win 1 paperback copy of Christmas at the Comford Food Cafe novella
  • The winner will be emailed and will have 48 hours to respond. Otherwise, a new winner will be chosen.

You can entere here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Book Review: The Christmas Project by Maxine Morrey

the-christmas-project

Title: The Christmas Project
Author: Maxine Morrey
Publisher: HarperCollins UK, HQDigital
Date: November 14th, 2016
Pages: 263
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Professional organiser Kate Stone has never – NEVER – been tempted to hit a client over the head with a snow shovel, but Michael O’Farrell is the most obnoxious – and heart-stoppingly gorgeous – man she has ever met. If he weren’t her best friend’s brother, she would not have waited on his doorstep in the freezing cold for five minutes, let alone an hour.

Kate knows, however, that her job isn’t just about tidying up, sometimes she needs to be part therapist too, and Michael clearly needs her help to declutter his heart as well as his home.

But with the festive season just around the corner there isn’t much time to get Michael’s house ready for the O’Farrell family celebrations, but everyone knows that at Christmas anything can happen…

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Review:

I feel like I’ve been so lucky with my books lately.
Since HoHoHo readathon started, I read some amazing festive novels, and this one did not dissapoint.
Now, I only hope my luck will continue.

The Christmas Project has everything you want in a festive read: beautiful cover that catches eye, amazing setting with beautiful descriptions of surrounding, cold and snow, interesting protagonist and likeable side characters, hot guy and cute puppies.

I mean, what else could you ask for?
Just based on everything I just mentioned you should at least consider giving this book a chance!

The story follows Kate Stone, a woman who works as a professional organiser.
Her latest job is to help her best friend’s brother organize his house for Christmas.
After his divorce, he stopped taking care of the place he lives in and the beautiful house started to look like a mass storeroom.

Kate was, as I already said, an interesting main character. She has a good personality, but is somewhat naive. She is a hard worker, really organized and good at heart. She likes to help people and she spends her free time helping in an animal rescue center.

Michael is a mysterious guy, hurt by his ex. In my own words, after his divorce, he became a grumpy hoarder.

I like how their relationship evoluted from hate/dislike to friendship, and then started to develop into something more.

All of the side characters in this novel were plain good.
I am still not sure how to feel about it. I mean, the story is full of white (I don’t mean skin color), one dimesional characters (there were, of course, two “bad” characters, that were also one dimensional).
I didn’t like how “bad” characters weren’t mentioned anough in the story, especially when it comes to Kate’s boyfriend. I get that she spent almost no time with him, but I wish he wasn’t just mentioned as an absent boyfriend, I wish we got to see him more before the “big scene”.
Also, when it comes to Michael’s ex, I wish we got a chance to hear her side of the story, or anything that happened before the divorce.
In other words, I think negative characters weren’t explored enough.

The writing style is simple and you can easily read the story, as it reads pretty quicky.
It is written in first person, following Kate’s POV.

This story will wake up your emotions, at least it woke up mine.
I was angry, frustrated, sad, happy, felt the joy in my heart… And I swooned. A lot.

As the story was coming to an end, it became better and better with every page.

What I’m sure I’ll get from this book is I’ll remember one particular scene for a looooong time to come: (SPOILER ALERT!! the scene in which Lily (Michael’s little niece) says how she heard her friend’s mom saying that she thinks Michael is sixty (but in reality, that mom said sexy)).

Overall, this was a great festive story and I highly recommend it to everyone who’d like to read something quick and easy that will put a reader in a festive mood.

4,5

Book Review: All She Ever Wished For by Claudia Carroll

all she ever wished for

Title: All She Ever Wished For
Author: Claudia Carroll
Publisher: HarperCollins UK, Avon
Date: October 6th, 2016
Pages: 496
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): A gorgeous story of chance meetings and unexpected friendships. Because sometimes what you’ve always wished for isn’t necessarily what life has in store . . .

Marriage. It’s a dream come true. Isn’t it?

One wet winter night, two women meet on a bridge. One is Tess Taylor, a personal trainer on the way to meet her boyfriend for date night. The other is Kate King, a celebrity married to a handsome billionaire who just happens to make her cry. In the cold dark evening, there is nothing to link them together but the bridge they shiver on. Little do they know they’ll both hold the key to each other’s future marriage…

All She Ever Wished For tells the story of what happens when your dream is about to come true. And what happens when that dream turns into a bit of a nightmare…

Claudia Carroll brings you a Christmas gift filled with second chances, fateful encounters and a lesson in what true love means.

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Review:

I will start my review with a warning: Don’t let the cover full you! This is not a festive read. I repeat: THIS IS NOT A FESTIVE READ.
Judging by it’s releasing day and the cover, you probably think this is a beautiful Christmas story, but, unfortunately, it’s not.
Whoever designed this cover did an amazing job when it comes to appearance, but it’s so misleading. I mean, they even put snowflakes on the cover!
Why would you do that, when there’s no winter, no Christmas in the story whatsoever?

This year I read Carroll’s short story In A New York Minute and complitely fell in love with her writing style. That short story was the best read I had in July and I knew I wanted to read more of her work.
When I saw All She Ever Wished For on Netgally and my reading request was approved, I was beyond happy.

I would lie if I told you my expectations for this novel weren’t high.
However, I don’t think that my expectations have much to do with my impressions.
The story was just not interesting enough for me to like it more.
I was bored many times while reading and characters didn’t help the case either.

All She Ever Wished For follows stories of two women who’s lives intertwine.
Kate had some hard time. She had an ugly divorce and now she’s proving her right ownershinp of the painting her ex husband bought her as a birthday present while they were still together.
She’s being called gold-digger by media but we get to see her side of the story.

Tess is getting married, but she also has to attend the court as a juror. While she has so much things to do to make sure everything goes right on her big day, with their families not on good therms, time spent on court at first comes as burden, but after some time, being in court jury makes her forget about all the obligations for a while and she starts to rethink her decision…

Kate’s story was so much more interesting then Tess’.
After all, Kate was the one who was fighting for her rights.

This is the story that describes many happenings at court.
And in whole honesty, those parts were simply boring.

There is also one side character who has a big role in the story: Will. I just couldn’t like him, no matter how hard I tried. I thought he was too nosy, asking questions and saying things that weren’t his business and it was all okay because he’s a writer. I get that writers are curious, and I get that there are people like him all over the world, but telling someone you only just met (wait, not even met properly, but only just saw because you are in the same room together) that the song she chose to have for her first dance on her own wedding is stupid, and suggesting her to go with another one is just plain rude. Oh and mind you, he knew what song she chose because he was listening to her phone call, which is also rude.
This is just one of the situations that made me came to conclusion that Will is simply rude.

The writing style was really good, it was the best part of the book.
Nevertheless, not even a good writing style can help the boring story make more interesting.
As I already said, it was pretty boring at times and in my opinion, too long.
I couldn’t connect with characters, especially with Tess. With Kate I couldn’t help but emphatize and feel for her as a woman.

The ending was good and satisfying.

Overall, I think this book just wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m looking forward to read more books by Claudia Carroll because I really like her writing style.
I already bought Meet Me In Manhattan and I plan to read it soon.

3,5

Book Review: The Fire Child by S.K.Tremayne

the fire child

Title: The Fire Child
Author: S.K. Tremayne
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Date: June 16th, 2016
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): The chilling new psychological thriller by S. K. Tremayne, author of the Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller, THE ICE TWINS.

When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.

But then Jamie’s behaviour changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the spectre of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized than she thought?

As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words:

‘You will be dead by Christmas.’

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Review:

 

„The doubting the doubt is the beginning of faith.“

 

In the blurb for this book, they said it was chilling.
And it was.
I got chills multiple times as I was reading this brilliant, in a good way disturbing novel.

The story follows Rachel, a thirty years old woman who marries David, a rich widower, and moves into his big, beautiful house called Carnhallow, in Cornwall.

Cornwall is the place I read about in so many books, I can’t even count. But you know what? This was the first time I was reading a dark tale that was settled in that admirable place I’d like to visit one day.

I liked the atmosphere in this book. Nothing was perfectly clear and, often, it felt like I could picture the mist over the Cornwall and the whole story that S.K. Tremayne so talentedly presented to us.

What I liked the most was the fact that all characters, main and impotant side ones, were unreliable.
Jamie, Rachel, David, David’s mother Julie – they were all unpredictable and I couldn’t trust anyone.
Even the dead character, David’s first wife Nina, was untrustworthy.

This book messed with my head bigtime, and I welcomed it wholeheartedly.
It kept me on the edge of my seat, made me want to read faster and then made me feel angry I couldn’t.
It made me emotional, it made me scared for characters, it made me question my logic.

And those, in my opinion, are the signs of a well-done psychological thriller.

The story is written in two POVs: Rachel’s and David’s.
Rachel POV was written in first person and it had that power to pull you into the story. Majority of The Fire Child is written in Rachel’s POV, as she is the main character.
David’s POV was written in third person and even though there were only few chapters that told his perspective, they were important ones.

The writing style was pretty amazing. It was fast paced with some bigger words used from time to time.
S.K. Tremayne is one skilled writer who knows how to capture the intension and compel his readers.

This was my first time reading his work but it surely won’t be the last.
I already have his Ice Twins on my tbr and am happy to give it a go when I’ll be in a mood for something extremely thought provoking.

4

Waiting on Wendesday (# Lucky 7): Who’s That Girl by Mhairi McFarlane

wow

Waiting on Wendesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases we can’t wait to read.

This week I am eagerly anticipating:

who's that girl

Who’s That Girl by Mhairi McFarlane

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: April 7th, 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

An achingly funny story from the author of the bestselling YOU HAD ME AT HELLO

What’s the one thing you DON’T do at a wedding?

When Edie is caught in a compromising position at her colleagues’ wedding, all the blame falls on her – turns out that personal popularity in the office is not that different from your schooldays. Shamed online and ostracised by everyone she knows, her boss suggests an extended sabbatical – ghostwriting an autobiography for hot new acting talent, Elliot Owen. Easy, right?

Wrong. Banished back to her home town of Nottingham, Edie is not only dealing with a man who probably hasn’t heard the word ‘no’ in a decade, but also suffering an excruciating regression to her teenage years as she moves back in with her widowed father and judgey, layabout sister.

When the world is asking who you are, it’s hard not to question yourself. Who’s that girl? Edie is ready to find out.

Why am I waiting?

When I saw one of my favorite authors, Lindsey Kelk, talk about this book and say she feels an “author jaleousy” when it comes to McFarlane’s writing, I knew I had to check it out. I mean, when an amazing author says she wishes she could write like that, that has to be something, right?

The premise of this book sounds really interesting and the sentence “Will make you laugh out loud.” makes me want to read it even more.

This chick-lit should be over 500 pages long, which means I’ll probalby spend a lot of time having fun while reading it.
I just can’t wait to finally read it!

Author Website * Amazon UK * Amazon US * Goodreads * The Book Depository

Book Review: Where Have All The Boys Gone by Jenny Colgan

where have all

Title: Where Have All The Boys Gone
Author: Jenny Colgan
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date: August 1st, 2005
Pages: 340
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed

 

Synopsis (from Amazon): 

Where have all the men gone? Faced with 25, 000 more women than men in London, and gleeful media reports that it’s statistically more likely for single women to be murdered than get married, Katie is reached an all-time low. But all is not lost …
Another hilarious high-concept romantic comedy from Jenny Colgan.

While Katie’s glad it’s not a man’s world any more, she’d be quite pleased if there were more men in it – or at least single ones, anyway.

More likely to get murdered than married, according to gleeful media reports, Katie resigns herself to the fact there’s no sex in the city and heads for the hills – or the Scottish highlands, to be precise.

Despite the fact she’s never been a girl for wellies – and Fairlish is in the middle of nowhere – the tiny town does have one major draw: men. Lots of them.

But while Katie relishes the chance to do battle with armies of admirers, she’s not reckoned on going head to head with her grumpy new boss, Harry, shadowy developers intent on destroying the beautiful countryside and Mrs McClockerty, the least suitable hotelier since Norman Bates.

At least there’s the local eye-candy to distract her, including gorgeous newshound Iain. But he is at loggerheads with Harry, and Harry despises her. Life in the country might not be one big roll in the hay but can Katie ever turn her back on the delights of Fairlish and return to city life?

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Review:

Browsing trough my local library’s shelf, an amazin and a bit funny book title cought my attention: Where Have All The Boys Gone?
With the adorable cover and the fact that it is written by Jenny Colgan, an author I want to check out for the longest time, I just had to borrow it.

The story follows three friends in their late twenties. One day, they were just minding their own girly buisness, when they saw an article in the newspaper which said that a single girl in London has a bigger chance to be murdered then to find herself a man.

I don’t think I have to tell you what girls’ reaction was. Already stressed out, they started to worry they’ll never find a decent man for themselves…

This book was one really good entertaiment. The story pulled me in and I was just having a great time reading it. I didn’t think about anything, I just enjoyed the ride.

Almost all the charaters in this book were likeable, although I didn’t feel attached to any of them.
There was one guy I didn’t particurarly like (Harry) because I found him to be too judgamental, but the world is full of people like him, which made me appreciate him as a character.
I don’t think that every fictional guy has to be swoon worthy and perfect, because life doesn’t work that way.

The writing style is really good. Colgan captured the atmosphere of a little Scottish town in such an amazing way (that was my favorite aspect of the story).
She also handled very well  an inner struggle of characters. Because of that, it was very easy to keep up with their process of thinking that lead them to make decisions they made.

This book is written over ten years ago and now when I read it, I want to check out some of Colgan’s new work to see how she developed as an author.

Overall, if you want to read a book just to occupy your mind, make you laugh on the way (I even cought myself laughing out loud at times) and make you forget about the world around you, I think this book is a good choice for you.

3,75