Book review: The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty

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Title: The Fifth Letter
Author: Nicola Moriarty
Publisher: Penguin, Michael Joseph
Date: March 2nd, 2017
Pages: 362
Format: Paperback
Source: from Publisher for review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Joni, Trina, Deb and Eden.

Best friends since the first day of school. Best friends, they liked to say, forever.

But now they are in their thirties and real life – husbands, children, work – has got in the way. So, resurrecting their annual trip away, Joni has an idea, something to help them reconnect.

Each woman will write an anonymous letter, sharing with their friends the things that are really going on in their lives.

But as the confessions come tumbling out, Joni starts to feel the certainty of their decades-long friendships slip from her fingers.

Anger. Accusations. Desires. Deceit.

And then she finds another letter. One that was never supposed to be read. A fifth letter. Containing a secret so big that its writer had tried to destroy it. And now Joni is starting to wonder, did she ever really know her friends at all?

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Review:

When it comes to my reading experience with this book, there’s no other word to describe it but “lazy”.
I confess: I started this (mystery) book knowing that all the questions will be answered eventually and that, with time, I’ll find out who wrote the fifth letter and which from four letters belong to whom, so I didn’t bother.
I just read, the most relaxed as one reader can be, lazy to try to figure out myself.

Is it my fault for not getting invested into the book as much as the author probably wanted me to be?
Definitely.
But is it also the author’s fault for that, because her story didn’t make me want to know the answers right away?
I can’t say for sure.

But let me tell you: I liked this book. I don’t regret my laziness because I enjoyed reading this novel the way I did.

The story follows four friends who every year spend few days together on vacation. It is their tradition.
This year, they decide that each of them will write a letter in which they will tell a secret they haven’t told anyone before.
The idea sounds interesting and fun, especially because the letters won’t be signed.
What starts as a game turns into more serious situation after Joni finds the fifth letter, written by one of them, in which the one spells her bitterness and hatred for one of them.

I liked the premise of the story, and the idea of the plot, but if I’m being completely honest, I think that the content of the fifth letter wasn’t as disturbing (but then again, if I was one of four friends, maybe I’d think differently).
Also, in my humble opinion, some secrets should have stayed what they were in the first place – secrets.

Even though there was too much drama at time, I really, really liked what The Fifth Letter offered.

The main character, Joni, was the one I could relate to the most.
Trina was my second favorite, while I sometimes had problem separating Deb and Eden.

The Fifth Letter is written in third person. It is pretty easy to read, but at the same time it does not read quickly (at least it didn’t in my case).

Overall, The Fifth Letter is a solid, enjoyable read that I would recommend.

3,75

Book Review: Paris for One by Jojo Moyes

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Title: Paris for One & Other Stories
Author: Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Penguin, Michael Joseph
Date: February 9th, 2017
Pages: 336
Format: Hardback
Source: from Publisher for review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): From the #1 “New York Times” bestselling author of “Me Before You” and “After You,” a sensational collection featuring the title novella and eight other stories. Quintessential Jojo Moyes, “Paris for One and Other Stories” is an irresistibly romantic collection filled with humor and heart.
Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She’s never even been on a romantic weekend away to anywhere before. Everyone knows travelling abroad isn’t really her thing. But when Nell’s boyfriend fails to show up for their romantic mini-vacation, she has the opportunity to prove everyone including herself wrong. Alone and in Paris, Nell uncovers a version of herself she never knew existed: independent and intrepid. Could this turn out to be the most adventurous weekend of her life? Funny, charming, and irresistible, “Paris for One”is vintage Moyes as are the other stories that round out the collection.”

Paris for One
Between the Tweets
Love in the Afternoon
A Bird in the Hand
Crocodile Shoes
Holdups
Honeymoon in Paris
Last Year’s Coat
Thirteen Days with John C.
Margot
The Christmas List

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Review:

Paris for One is collection of two novellas and 9 short stories.

My favorite story (or I should say novella) was Honeymoon in Paris. It is a standalone novella, but is also connected to Moyes’ full lenght novel The Girl You Left Behind. 80 pages long, the story follows two couples placed in different time, separated by 80 years, who’s stories together make a whole. Even though I really liked it, I think I would appreciate it even more if I have read the novel.

Paris for One is second best in this collection.
It is fun and easy to read, but I think it would be better if the story was set in 90’s, because characters were really bad when it comes to communication. If there were no mobile phones, the story would make more sense.

Other two stories that I really enjoyed were Between the Tweets and Crocodile Shoes.

As for other pieces, I think they were put into this collection just for sake of having enough stories for the whole bind up.
Some were forgetable (Love in the Afternoon), some were there so Jojo Moyes’ fans would have something new to read, and one was so…. silly and ridiculous (I don’t mean it in a good way). The story I’m talking about is Holdups. I really didn’t like that one.

I don’t want to sound rude here, but I’ll say this anyway: some stories sounded like someone’s practice writing, so I couldn’t help but wonder if they were written before Moyes found her voice, before she became a successful writer.

To be fair, when it all comes down together, I think three stars rating is realistic.

I would recommend this collection to fans of Jojo Moyes.
If you haven’t read anything by her before, and you come upon this book, I would still recommend four stories I mentioned as my favorites. It would be a shame not to read them, if you already have a chance to do so.

3

Book Review: White Lies and Wishes by Cathy Bramley

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Title: White Lies and Wishes
Author: Cathy Bramley
Publisher: Punguin Random House UK, Corgi
Date: January 26th, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: Physical ARC
Source: from Publisher for review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): What happens when what you wish for is only half the story…?

Flirtatious, straight-talking Jo Gold says she’s got no time for love; she’s determined to save her family’s failing footwear business.

New mother Sarah Hudson has cut short her maternity leave to return to work. She says she’ll do whatever it takes to make partner at the accountancy firm.

Bored, over-eating housewife Carrie Radley says she just wants to shift the pounds – she’d love to finally wear a bikini in public.

The unlikely trio meet by chance one winter’s day, and in a moment of ‘Carpe Diem’ madness, embark on a mission to make their wishes come true by September.

Easy. At least it would be, if they hadn’t been just the teensiest bit stingy with the truth…

With hidden issues, hidden talents, and hidden demons to overcome, new friends Jo, Carrie and Sarah must admit to what they really, really want, if they are ever to get their happy endings.

A feel-good romantic comedy that’s guaranteed to make you smile – perfect for fans of Carole Matthews, Trisha Ashley and Katie Fforde.

 

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Review:

Cathy Bramley is the author I found out about because of blogging community.
Her book Wickham Hall was so well received, and I couldn’t help but added it to my ever-growing tbr list.
Unfortunately, I still haven’t got a chance to read it, but when I saw there was an opportunity to read and review Bramley’s newest novel, I had to grab it.

White Lies & Wishes is a story about three women, very different at the first glance, but with one thing in common: all of them have wishes they want to make happen’, all of them want more from life.

These three women, Jo, Sarah and Carrie, meet at the funeral. It’s not a happy event, but it makes them realize that life is short, and they have to make the best out of it while it lasts.
They promise to help each other reach their goals – every one of them makes a wish, and with common support, they will do their best for their wishes to become reality.

Out of all the three characters, I honestly can not say that I have a favorite.
They were all somewhere in the middle, when it comes to likeability.
Each of them had some flaws, as well as good features, and that is why, in my opinion, they felt real to me.

I enjoyed reading all of the stories, but I have to admit that the one about Jo was predictable.
It also took me longest to like Sarah, because I just couldn’t understand her. In my eyes, she was too selfish, chasing her career and not appreciating her husband enough.

The story is written in third person.
It reads really easily, but for the better reading experience, I decided to take my time with it.

White Lies and Wishes not only made me think about my life and how it is still not too late to do something more from it, but it also reminded me that it is never too late to make new, true friendships.

I would recommend this novel to women’s fiction lovers out there.

3,75

Book Review: My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

my-sweet-revenge

Title: My Sweet Revenge
Author: Jane Fallon
Publisher: Penguin, Michael Joseph
Date: January 12th, 2017
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: from Publisher for review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): I want to make my husband fall back in love with me.

Let me explain. This isn’t an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven’t been reading articles in old women’s magazines. ‘Twenty ways to keep your man’. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tell him to get the hell out of my life he’ll care. He won’t just think, ‘Oh good’.

I want it to hurt.

Paula has had Robert’s back since they got together as drama students. She gave up her dreams so he could make it. Now he’s one of the nation’s most popular actors. And Paula’s just discovered he’s having an affair.

She’s going to remind Robert just what he’s sacrificing. And then she’s going to break his heart like he broke hers. It will be her greatest acting role ever.

Revenge is sweet. Isn’t it?

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Review:

It has been two weeks since I finished My Sweet Revenge, and I still don’t know how to write my review without possibly offending some people.
Not reviewing it would easy and, in a way, right decision, but after a while I decided to do it anyway.
My opinions are my own, and I do apologise to everyone who might be offended by them.

My Sweet Revenge follows the story of Paula, who found out her husband was cheating on her for a while. Instead of confronting him, she decides to keep a secret that she knows what he’s doing, and to make him fall in love with her all over again. Once he’d realize he doesn’t want to lose her, she’ll leave him.

The reason why this story was on my most anticipated books in 2017 list is because I was so curious how Paula is going to make her husband fall in love again with her.
I also didn’t know where the story is going to go, and I was eager to find out.

The one thing I should emphasise is the novel’s unpredictability. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not imagine what was going to happened next, and I wanted to read as fast as I could to find out.

Paula was a character so much different from me, with many different opinions, making decisions I would never make.
Because of that, I wanted to follow her story, trying to understand her decisions with an open mind.
However, it was so hard for me to connect with her or like her in general.

Paula’s husband was cheating on her, and it is a terrible thing to happen’ to anyone.
She felt betrayed (as she should have), blaming her husband for everything, stating over and over how self centered he was, but not once did she ask herself what made him do it.
You see, Paula gained a lot of weight (which SHOULDN’T be a reason to be cheated on, but sometimes it is) while her husband was working out every single day, making sure he looks right.
She also can’t remember when was the last time they slept together, and one time in the story when he wanted some action, she refused.
People have needs, and having sex is one of them. If a person does not get it from his/her spouse, it’s natural that with time he/she will want to find someone else to get it from.
It’s like being thirsty and not getting a glass of water from the one person you’re sharing your life with.

So yeah, I don’t justify cheating, but in this case, I understand why Robert did what he did.

Also one more thing I didn’t like is how Paula (and one more character in the book) stated more then few times how young girls dating older men is gross.
I get why some women think that way, but young girls dated (or married) older men always, in the past and today, and it is not gross, it is natural. To each their own!

The book is written in first person, following Paula’s and Robert’s mistress POVs.
I really liked Part 2 because the story became more interesting from there.

There were some laugh out loud moments, some “OmG moments”, and then, there were some dull moments.

The writing style is good. The book reads pretty easily.

I was happy with the end. It all concluded very well and I am glad how every character got an ending that was the best for him/her, even though not all of them were aware of that.

All in all, I am glad I read this book because it showed me perspectives different from my own.

4

Book Review: A Year and a Day by Isabelle Broom

a-year-and-a-day

Title: A Year and a Day
Author: Isabelle Broom
Publisher: Penguin, Michael Joseph
Date: November 17th, 2016
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): From the author of My Map of You

Welcome to a city where wishes are everywhere

For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she’s determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything – and she won’t let that happen again . . .

For Hope, the trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she’s struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it’s all her fault . . .

For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can’t stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past . . .

Three different women.

Three intertwining love stories.

One unforgettable, timeless city.

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Review:

This year I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to read Isabelle Broom’s debut novel My Map Of You. I complitely fell in love with the story and Broom’s writing style (the book is in my top 5 books I read in 2016), so when I found out her second novel was also coming out this year, I was thrilled.
A Year and a Day immediately became one of my most anticipated releases of 2016.

This novel follows three different stories that intertwine, every story centered around another woman.
The stories take place in Prague, during period of 5 days, around Christmas time.

Megan came to Prague with her friend Ollie who has feelings for her. She doesn’t want to gamble their friendship into becoming something more. Although it could be risky, Prague sounds too good to pass. After all, she might find an inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition in that magical city.

Hope goes to Prague with her new boyfriend, who gave her a trip to that place as a Christmas gift. She recently left her husband and now is on bad terms with her daughter because of that. She would do anything to make piece with her, but she also has an urge to live the life she never had for the first time ever, to find her indenpendency and to be a part of passionate relatonship.

Sophie came to Prague to be with her boyfriend, who’ll came few days after her arrival.
Prague has a special place in their hearts, as it’s the city where they met each other for the first time.

From those three stories, Sophie’s was one that was the most interesting to me.
Other two weren’t exciting and if I’m being honest, I found them boring at times.

The writing style is simply amazing. Broom captured the beauty of Prague perfectly and I guarantee you, after reading this book, you will probably want to visit that place.

I was in Prague myself years ago, but after reading this book, I’d like to visit it again and see the beauty and culture once again with new eyes. Now when I’m older, I would appreciate everything that Prague offers so much more then I did then.

The writing consists of so many beautiful descriptions, but less character conversations.
I liked it that way, but if you’re looking for a fast paced book, this isn’t the one.
This book is the one you should take your time with.

The story is written in third person.

I wish the book had no overture (or prologue). The first sentence is absolutely astonishing, but in my opinion that part of the book spoils the big surprise that was revealed closer to an end.
I suspected what was going on from the very beginning of the story, and my guess was right.

Every single character of the story is realistic.
You could meet people like them in your every day life anytime.
I can’t say I liked one character more then the other, but I can say who I’d probably get along with and who I wouldn’t, if I ever cross my paths with any of them.
(I’d get along with Sophie, and wouldn’t get along with Megan or Charlie.)

The ending was really good.
I was satisfied with it’s realness.

If you ever decide to go and visit Prague, I would recommend you to read this book prior that trip.
It brings the bauty of the city close to reader and it could be really helpful when you have to decide what places in Prague you’d like to see.

I would recommend this book to readers of general fiction who like for their books to explore human relationships as well as inner thoughts.

Even though it wasn’t as brilliant as My Map of You, A Year and a Day is a nice festive novel that, I trully believe, will be recognized by many readers for it’s delightful writing.

Broom’s third book should be released in April 2017 and I already can’t wait to read it.

3,75

Book Review: Just Kiss Me by Rachel Gibson

just kiss me

Title: Just Kiss Me
 Author: Rachel Gibson
 Publisher: Penguin Random House UK, Corgi
 Date: July 28th, 2016
 Pages: 384
 Format: Paperback
 Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): The latest hot and funny love story from New York Timesbestselling author Rachel Gibson, author of RESCUE ME and NOTHING BUT TROUBLE.

It’s been years since Vivien last saw Henry. She was scrubbing houses for a living, he was the gorgeous son of rich parents, not fit for the likes of her.

She had vowed to get out of Charleston, become a big Hollywood star and stick it to the snooty girls who made her cry. Vivien got what she wanted – and more – but why does her glamorous life seem so trivial?

Henry got out too . . . making it all the way to Wall Street, until his life took an unexpected twist and he traded in his cufflinks for carpentry back in Charleston.

But escaping his heritage is nearly impossible. And now he’s come face-to-face with the one who got away. He’s not looking for love. He’s not even looking for sex . . . so why is resisting her the hardest thing he’s ever done?

The one that got away just came back . . .

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Review:

Rachel  Gibson is a well-known author to romance readers. She has several books out and, as it seems to me, a decent fan base.
I only read few of her books (Nothing But Trouble is my favorite and if you haven’t, I highly recommend you to read it) and from what I read, I can see why this author is the one that readers keep coming back to.
When doing my research I noticed some bloggers saying that Gibson’s books are perfect to get you out of the reading slump. Even though I haven’t been in one when reading this book, I can totally see why is that, because her books read fast and are fun, this one not being exception.

Just Kiss Me follows a story of Vivien, a woman originally from Charleston, who became a big Hollywood star.
After her mother passed away, Vivien has to go back to Charleston to arrange the funeral, see what she’ll do with her inheritance and revisit people she grew up with.
Henry is one of those people, and, even if she hated him when she was a child, the mutual attraction between the two is almost touchable.

This story warmed my heart and left me in a happy place.
You know you’re reading a good romance novel when all the time while reading you just feel happiness, even though there’s nothing happy actually going on in the story.
Don’t get me wrong, this story has more then few happy situations, but even on those pages that were far from happy, there was still that positive feeling I felt.

I decide to blame it on the writing style, because it is so easy to read, full of pop culture references that I welcomed wholeheartedly (because I am a celebrity freak!).

This novel is a romantic story, but it also holds elements of family prose.

It is written in third person, but we also get to see pages from Vivien’s diary from when she was a young girl, that were written in first person.
Although I liked those parts, I often felt like Vivien came too childish, but then again, it pictures perfectly what a sassy teenager she was.

Vivien was a really good character. I liked her most of the time even though I couldn’t agree with every move she made.
Henry was fine love interest, even though I didn’t swoon over him.

The character that left the biggest impression on me was Nonnie. At first she was not-so-likeable and was quite mysterious. However, as the story progressed, I started to admire her, as she behaved herself bigger then most people in her situation would.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading this book that I finished in only two days (which is pretty fast in my case).
There is one thing that I feel you should be warned about.
This book does contain some descriptive sex scenes, but they were not too much or out of taste.

I think romance lovers would enjoy this book so I do recommend it, especially if you like books with pop culture references.
I also think that family-prose lovers would approve Just Kiss Me because it does have aspects of that sub-genre.

I, personally, am really grateful that I had an opportunity to read Just Kiss Me and I can’t wait to read more of Rachel Gibson’s work.

4

Book Review: Martini Henry by Sara Crowe

martini henry

Title: Martini Henry
Author: Sara Crowe
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK, Doubleday
Date: June 16th, 2016
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Life isn’t an exact science. Things can be troublesome. Like pregnant step-mothers, the ins-and-outs of French existentialism . . . having an unexceptional name.

In 1988, seventeen-year-old Sue Bowl has a diary, big dreams and £4.73. What she wants most of all is to make it as a writer, as well as stop her decadent aunt Coral spending money she doesn’t have.

Living in their crumbling ancestral home should provide plenty of inspiration, but between falling in love, hunting for missing heirlooms and internship applications, things keep getting in the way.

So when a young literary professor moves in and catches Sue’s eye, life begins to take an unexpected turn . . .

From the author of Campari for Breakfast, a witty and enchanting novel about what happens after you think you’ve grown up and fallen in love, perfect for fans of I Capture the Castle, Love, Ninaand Where’d You Go Bernadette.

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Review:

From the very moment I heard (or should I say read) about Martini Henry being published, I had a strong feeling this novel will be right for me. I was right.
It was totally my cup of tea, that I enjoyed with cups and cups of tea.

The story follows Sue Bowl who goes to Greece to participate in creative writing course. There, she stumbles upon a book called FOR THE CONCERN OF THE RICH AND THE POOR. She realizes that book she found is not the one of fiction genre, but is probably a work of someone who knew her predecessors, as some of things that happened there were happening on her aunt’s property.

Martini Henry is written in one of the most interesting ways I have ever came across.
There is a Sue’s diary from where we follow the main story and it is the biggest part of the book.

Sue want to be a writer and, even though she doesn’t have a college degree, she reads a lot and is very skilled when it comes to expressing herself.
She likes to use big words and everytime she learned the new one she likes to make a note about it.

Then, there are notes, letters and lines Sue receives or sees while we follow her story.
We also get a glimpse of her work of fiction and can see how her personal life reflects on her writing.

Along with all that, Martini Henry contains small parts of FOR THE CONCERN OF THE RICH AND THE POOR, a 3000 pages long book that Sue reads.

There is so many good things I want to say about Martini Henry that I don’t even know where to start…

The writing style is really good and so beautiful, I would even dare to call it perfect.

Sue’s story takes place in 1988 and it really felt like it was written in that time period.
FOR THE CONCERN OF THE RICH AND THE POOR takes place after 1850 and, because I never read any book from that period in english, I can’t judge if the writing was authentic. However, I can tell that it sounded like it could be and that the writer captured the difference between Sue’s and London’s (that is the narrator of FOR THE CONCERN OF THE RICH AND THE POOR) in a really, really good way.

I also want to state that the book Sue was reading wasn’t there just for the sake of being, but had it’s own function and it intertwined with Sue’s story.

Martini Henry is a piece of literary fiction. That means, it’s pacing is on the slow side.
It took me some time to really get into this book (I would say something like 70 pages) and I think taking my time with it was the best decision I have made, because I really feel like I experienced Sue’s story in the best possible way.

The same goes with it’s characters too. It took some time to get to know them but after I used to them I got attached to them as well.
Sue, her aunt Coral and Joe were my favorites (especially Joe).

This is story is not just about chasing a dream, but is also about self discovery and about relationships with people around us.

As you may know, english is not my native language and I often like to emphasize that I am still in a learning process.
Thanks to this book, I discovered so many new words that now I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to expand his vocabulary.

Not only did Sara Crowe did an amazing job when it comes to presenting this story to us in an attractive way, but I feel like the editors did a perfect job too.
We can clearly see that there has been so much effort put in order to bring this book to life, especially closer to the end.
If you ask me, all their hard work was worth it.

A copy of my Martini Henry goes to my special shelf where I keep my very few books that I want to reread many times in my lifetime because I feel like I can learn something new from it everytime I read it.

4,5