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22 May 2017

Review: '#Love London - The Complete Collection' by Nikki Moore (2015)

Six couples. One city. A year to remember.

Now you can get all of Nikki Moore’s gorgeously romantic stories from the #LoveLondon series in one book! This is THE book to fall in love with …

Includes the short stories:
Skating at Somerset House
New Year at the Ritz
Valentine’s on Primrose Hill
Cocktails in Chelsea
Strawberries at Wimbledon

and the full length novel:
Picnics in Hyde Park

London is undoubtedly one of my favourite cities in the whole world. It really is a magical place and I’ll never say no to a trip to visit the city, even if it’s just for a day. So, when I first heard about Nikki Moore’s short story collection focusing on London, I immediately knew this was going to be a book I wanted to check out. When the separate short stories were released by publisher Harper Impulse I unfortunately never managed to get any review copies, but when the complete collection appeared on NetGalley, I was one of the lucky reviewers to get a review copy. Unfortunately, it took me way too long to finally sit down with this particular read, but as I’m now slowly coming towards the end of my TBR-list, I finally had a chance to check out this lovely London collection…!

The ’#Love London’ collection is an anthology of author Nikki Moore’s writing and the thing all stories have in common is that they’re all set in the lovely city of London. As we are invited to check out short stories ‘Skating at Somerset House’, ‘New Year at the Ritz’, ‘Valentine’s on Primrose Hill’, ‘Cocktails in Chelsea’ and ‘Strawberries at Wimbledon’, we meet several characters, visit different sides of London, and experience different festive times of the year, including Christmas and Valentine’s Day. After these five short stories, there is also a full-length novel included in the collection, namely ‘Picnics in Hyde Park’, which focuses on yet another set of characters, but also brings back some of the characters we’ve already had the pleasure of meeting along the way. A great collection for any chick lit/romantic comedy fan, especially if you have a soft spot for the UK capital…!

From her ‘#Love London’ collection it straight away becomes clear that author Nikki Moore has quite a bit of knowledge to share when it comes to some special places in the wonderful city that is London, but also knows how to tell a captivating romantic story. I loved all these different short stories, set in the same city, but all focusing on a different time of year, a different collection of characters and a different captivating storyline. The fact that the stories are set in London gives them that extra special something, and I loved visiting Wimbledon, Somerset House, the Ritz, Primrose Hill… I also really enjoyed getting to know all the characters and I love short stories, because they’re great when you’re commuting or have a free hour all of a sudden. 

With more than 550 pages, the collection is quite a long read. While I really enjoyed the short stories, I struggled a bit with the full-length novel, ‘Picnics in Hyde Park.’ I think this would have perhaps also worked better as a short story, because it seemed quite slow-paced and just didn’t grab my attention as much as the short stories did. If I have to choose a favourite, it has to be a tie between ‘Skating at Somerset House’ and ‘Strawberries at Wimbledon’, which I can both highly recommend. I’m really glad I got the chance to be introduced to author Nikki Moore’s writing and I am curious to see what the future will bring. All in all, Nikki Moore’s ‘#Love London Collection’ is a great collection of short stories; quite a long read, but one which I’m sure many chick lit & London fans will thoroughly enjoy.
Rating:8/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

17 May 2017

Review: 'Blood Sisters' by Jane Corry (2017)

Three little girls set off to school one sunny May morning. 
Within an hour, one of them is dead.

Fifteen years later, Alison and Kitty are living separate lives. Kitty lives in a care home. She can't speak, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here, or her life before it.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it - this is her chance to finally make things right.

But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that day. 
And only another life will do...

As some of you might know by now (or might have guessed by the name of my blog): I do like my happy endings. It’s not that I run away from books with definite unhappy endings, but books without a lot of sadness and despair quite simply make me a happier person than books where one character after the other is killed or the main character can’t stop sharing his/her thoughts about what a horrible place the world is. That being said, I do try to keep an open mind when it comes to the books I review, so when I was invited to read and review Jane Corry’s thriller ‘Blood Sisters’ I decided it was once again time for me to move out of my comfort zone. I have to admit the story sounded quite intriguing, so I was curious to give it a go (while secretly still hoping for some kind of at least semi-happy ending…)!

After a horrible event in their past, in 1991 when they were just little girls, Alison and Kitty now lead completely separate lives, roughly sixteen years later. Alison works as an art teacher; when she gets the opportunity to teach art lessons in a prison, she decides to take the job, hoping it will somehow ease her mind about everything that has happened. Kitty, however, lives in a care home; she can no longer speak and has no memory of what happened all those years ago. But even though Alison might like to leave the past for what it is, circumstances won’t let her. Recent events bring Alison and Kitty back together, and it soon turns out there is an extra person in the picture, someone who is looking for revenge for what happened all those years ago…

‘Blood Sisters’ was my first Jane Corry read and one of the very few psychological thrillers I decided to pick up this year so far. Luckily I can say I’m glad I did, because the book definitely made an impression on me and I enjoyed it much more than I initially expected. The story is told from alternating perspectives of female characters Alison and Kitty; two completely different people. The main difference is that Kitty is mentally disabled, and looks at the world, and therefore also everything that happened to her and Alison in the past, in a completely different way. I think the author did a great job incorporating this in the story and it provided me, as reader, with the opportunity to learn more about this and also made me see things in a different light.

As with most psychological thrillers, the tension is clearly present in the novel, but it is well built-up throughout the story (perhaps a bit too slow-paced at times). It kept me guessing until the end, which is one thing I do like; not knowing what is going to happen and being surprised by the author. The story is filled with lies and good dialogue that had me captivated; and I personally also really liked the fact that the book consisted of relatively short and quick chapters. Jane Corry is a name I’m adding to my list of authors to read, especially because I’m curious to check another one of her works, hopefully soon. All in all, ‘Blood Sisters’ is a gripping, original and enthralling story focusing on the relationship between two sisters and how one single event can impact many lives for years to come… A big thank you to the publisher who provided me with a copy, since I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have checked out this book otherwise!
Rating:8,5/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

14 May 2017

Review: 'Invisible Women' by Sarah Long (2017)

Tessa, Sandra and Harriet have been best friends through first crushes, careers, marriage and the trials of motherhood. After twenty years of taking care of everyone else's every need, they've found themselves hitting the big 5-0 and suddenly asking themselves: 'what about me?!'

Sandra has a sordid secret, and Harriet is landed with her ailing mother-in-law. Tessa is looking for something to fill the gaping hole left by her youngest daughter's departure for uni, where it seems she's now engaged in all sorts of unsavoury activities, if Tessa's obsessive late-night Facebook stalking is anything to go by.

When Tessa impulsively responds to an online message from an old flame, she soon finds herself waiting at Heathrow Airport for The One That Got Away. 

But what will the plane from New York bring her? The man of her dreams, or a whole heap of trouble? 

And could this be the long-awaited moment for Tessa to seize her life, for herself, with both hands?

Another unexpected review copy landed on my doorstep a few weeks ago and I decided to squeeze it in just before I’m closing down the blog by the end of this month… (I can’t believe how fast time has flown by and my review pile only consists of one or two titles left to read and review)! ‘Invisible Women’ was released by publisher Bonnier Zaffre at the start of May, and I’m glad I received a surprise review copy of the novel. Not only did I like the sound of the story, but I also liked being provided with the opportunity to check out author Sarah Long, who I wasn’t yet familiar with before picking up this latest release of hers!

Tessa, Sandra and Harriet have been good friends for years and as they are getting closer to hitting 50, the three of them take a close look at their lives and ask themselves whether they are really happy where they are at right now. Now their kids are taking care of themselves and their husbands no longer seem to pay attention to them, it might be time for some significant changes. Tessa’s husband is more focused on making money than her, so when an old crush of hers suddenly pops up in her life again, she can’t help but love the attention. Sandra is dealing with the aftermath of her husband’s mental breakdown, and Harriet is being treated by her husband as a servant, having to take care of her sick mother-in-law. Will the three women decide to make some drastic changes in their lives and is hitting 50 the trigger they needed to start thinking about themselves for a change; or perhaps some of the recent events will make them see what it is they really want from both their husbands and life in general.

Sarah Long’s ‘Invisible Women’ is a read I think especially female readers between the ages of 40 and 60 will be able to really enjoy and relate to in one way or another. However, as a twenty-something female reader I also enjoyed reading about best friends Tessa, Sandra and Harriet and what they are going through in their lives. The women are all reaching the milestone of becoming 50 and they are getting tired of feeling as if things don’t matter anymore. This leads to some more risky behaviour; the question is, is this really what will make them happier in the end? I liked how the story focused on the three different storylines, while at the same time linking all of it together because the three characters are best friends and share everything with each other.


I think there were just a few things in the novel I didn’t particularly like, and the combination in the end resulted in me giving the book a 7,5. First of all, I did find it difficult to put myself in the shoes of the characters, mainly because of their situations and age. However, that is something I can definitely put aside; the main thing was the male characters in the novel were just all pretty horrible, and I couldn’t understand why the women were still married to them or interested in them. I like it when there is a romantic and happy element to a novel, where I really root for the characters, and I just missed that here. Therefore, I do think ‘Invisible Women’ is an enjoyable read about women hitting middle age and trying to deal with this in their own way, but in the end it just wasn’t entirely the read for me.
Rating:7,5/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.