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Category Archives: Women’s Fiction

Creature Comforts by Trisha Ashley..

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creature comforts
Blurb:
Izzy has broken off her engagement to her feckless fiancé Kieran and returned to her childhood home – the sleepy village of Halfhidden.

She soon realizes that life in the village is anything but peaceful – for one thing she’s living with her mad aunt Debo and her pack of dogs, for another, Izzy has a lot of unanswered questions.

When she was a teenager, Izzy was involved in a terrible accident, involving various inhabitants of Halfhidden. As she sets out to discover what actually happened on the night of the accident, she realizes that her painful past is actually standing in the way of her future happiness. So when a handsome stranger comes to Halfhidden will she let love back into her life?

Review:
Trisha Ashley’s seventh novel and my second read of the author, Creature Comforts is a fantastic summer read with enough charm, warmth and fun to keep you entertained throughout.

The plot of the novel revolves around our protagonist, Izzy, who has just recently broken off her engagement and returned to her childhood home, the village of Halfhidden. I was pleasantly surprised when I read the blurb and saw that the novel would have a dose of suspense in addition to the romance and Ashley does not disappoint. The suspense is brilliantly interwoven into the plot and plays a key part in Izzy’s happy ending.

I absolutely adored Izzy and the supporting characters in the novel as they enhanced the entertainment factor in this story. Izzy is a very likable character, we see her grow so much as a person and I commended her attitude throughout the novel. As well as being easily relatable, she shows true bravery and strength in the way she deals with certain incidents that occur in the story. She doesn’t stop striving for her happiness and all her hard work does indeed pay off.

The suspense is only a small part of this novel, and the story itself is so much more than that. The romance is, in typical Trisha Ashley style, warm, engaging and absolutely gets you hooked from the start. Rufus is a fantastic, enigmatic hero that I’m pretty sure all romance readers are guaranteed to swoon over him. He’s the perfect balance to Izzy’s crazy life and brings a certain charm to the village life.

If you happen to love idyllic villages, where community life is the key then this book is for you. There’s something for everyone in this book from romance to suspense to moments of hilarity. This novel is a perfect for readers who love a story that takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions and keeps you engaged and entertained throughout.

Trisha Ashley never fails to deliver and Creature Comforts is a wonderfully charming, at times funny, romantic story that I think all die-hard chick-lit and romance fans should definitely give a go!

Overall Rating: 9/10

If you would like to find out more about Trisha’s novels, you can do so on her official website. You can also follow Trisha on Facebook and Twitter.

A Place to Call Home by Carole Matthews..

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a place to call home

Blurb:

All it takes is one life-changing decision …

Ayesha leaves behind a life of pain and heartache and boards a coach to London with her sights set on a new life for herself and her little girl, Sabina.

Hayden, a former pop star, has kept himself hidden away for years. In all that time, he’s opened up his home to just two people – Crystal, a professional dancer with a heart of gold, and Joy, an ill-tempered pensioner with a soft spot for waifs and strays. But he reluctantly agrees to take in Ayesha and Sabina.

As different as they may be, all these damaged people quickly form a loving bond. So when enemies from their past threaten their peaceful life, they will do whatever it takes to save their home and each other.

Review:

I’m a huge Carole Matthews fan and I had heard so many amazing things about this book from fellow book bloggers and as such I was dying to get myself a copy. It took me forever to get my hands on this book but once I did, I finished it one sitting. Carole Matthews does not disappoint with another incredible novel.

The story revolves around the lives of five main characters: Ayesha, Sabina, Hayden, Crystal and Joy. Fate works in mysterious ways and brings these polar opposite individuals together in extraordinary ways and takes them on a journey where they realise the true meaning of home. I particularly enjoyed this book because it was so different from the other books by Carole. It definitely had Carole’s trademark humour and wit but as well as that it dealt with sensitive subjects such as domestic violence.

Domestic violence is not uncommon in this day and age and Matthew’s portrayal of it is realistic. How a woman who has suffered abuse her whole life longs to be free and to live a safer life for that of her child and herself was depicted beautifully and definitely tugs at your emotions. Ayesha is an incredible character. Having suffered what she has, she still starts the day with a smile and never lets her daughter, Sabina feel what she has been through. She steps into Hayden’s household like a ray of sunshine, basking in all of the occupants into her warmth. Without a doubt she was my favourite after little Sabina, of course.

Ayesha’s not the only one who’s had to live a difficult life. Crystal and Joy have suffered problems of their own whilst Hayden has suffered following the death of his girlfriend. Their grief, in many ways, is what unites them but it’s their gradual love for one another that binds them together and makes each of them realise what it means to be a family. The novel shows how family isn’t just made of blood; it’s made of love, warmth and affection.

If you are a Carole Matthews fan and haven’t yet read this, I urge you to do so as soon as possible. This is by far Carole’s best book yet and I can guarantee you that it will leave you with a big smile on your face. An uplifting, emotional novel that will have you rooting for each and every character in this book and will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy for sure!

Overall Rating: 9/10

If you would like to find out more about Carole’s novels, you can do so on her official website. You can also follow Carole on twitter and facebook.

The Good Children by Roopa Farooki..

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good-children-master-3d

Blurb:

Leaving home is one thing. Surviving is another.

1940s Lahore, the Punjab. Two brothers and their two younger sisters are brought up to be ‘good children’, who do what they’re told. Beaten and browbeaten by their manipulative mother, to study, honour and obey. Sully, damaged and brilliant, Jakie, irreverent and passionate. Cynical Mae and soft-hearted Lana, outshone and too easily dismissed.

The boys escape their repressive home to study medicine abroad, abandoning their sisters to their mother and marriages. Sully falls in love with an unsuitable Indian girl in the States; Jakie with an unsuitable white man in London. Their sisters in Pakistan refuse to remain trophy wives, and disgrace the family while they strike out to build their own lives.

As they raise their own families, and return to bury the dead, Sully and Jakie, Mae and Lana, face the consequences of their decisions, and learn that leaving home doesn’t mean it will ever leave them.

THE GOOD CHILDREN is a compelling story of discipline and disobedience, punishment and the pursuit of passion, following the children of a game-changing generation and the ties that bind them across cultures, continents and decades. Painful and sweet, tough and surprising, it is a landmark epic of the South Asian immigrant experience.

Review:

First of all I would like to thank the lovely people at Headline Publishing, for kindly sending me a copy of The Good Children via Bookbridgr. This book took me a while to get through, not because I didn’t enjoy it but because I wanted to treasure it for as long as I possibly could.

The novel had me hooked from the start and I was immediately transported into a 1940s Lahore, in Pakistan. Coming from an Indian background, I was able to relate to the culture and identity of Pakistan fairly easily, as it is quite similar to that of India’s. The rich details that were put into the descriptions of Lahore completely immerse you into the story regardless of whether or not you have ever been there.

The story revolves around the lives of four siblings: Sulaman, Jakie, Mae and Lana. In the beginning we follow their lives from their childhood and eventually how they branch out of their small house onto bigger and better things. Throughout their lives their mother is a constant presence, whether she’s there in person or in their memories. Even after the children somewhat escape, she continues to hover over them like a dark cloud, always reminding them that no matter where they go, they can never really forget who they are and where they come from.

The brothers, Sulaman and Jakie are passionate, troubled young men that have a jest for life and go to other ends of the world to achieve just that. The sisters, Mae and Lana, simple yet beautiful find a means of escape through their marriages but refuse to bend their ways in accordance to that of their husbands. All four children are brought up to be ‘good’ but in ways that are deemed unacceptable. From scorn to abuse from their mother, the children aren’t given the love needed to nurture a child. As a result all four grow a rebellious streak and it makes the reader question to what extent a parent can go in order to make their child ‘good’.

Pain is the central theme and emotion in this book and it runs throughout the lives of the siblings, from their childhood to adulthood. Each of them feels the pain of their past in their present; they constantly question their decisions and whether or not what happened to them in their past is the catalyst to how they are in the present. The characters are three dimensional and so complex that I was absolutely in awe of them. Their personalities outshine all of the negativity in the story and reading and learning about them as the story evolved was an absolute pleasure.

Roopa Farooki’s writing is incredible. I don’t think I have read prose as beautiful and skilled as hers in a while and it had me completely invested into the story of the children. From start to finish, I couldn’t find a fault with the book and the only slight issue I had was with the narrative perspectives. The story is told from multiple viewpoints. Sulaman and Jakie speak in first person whereas Mae and Lana’s perspective is told in third. I would have really loved to have seen their perspective in first person narration but that doesn’t take away from the overall brilliance of the story.

Farooki picks up on a lot of important themes revolving around homosexulatiy, mixed-race relationships and domestic violence but the manner in which she deals with them is noteworthy. Key aspects are highlighted and make the reader realise that problems do not just arise from home but from society and its expectations as well.

This was my first Roopa Farooki book and I can guarantee that it will definitely not be my last. I cannot recommend this book enough. You will love, cry and root for each and every sibling in this book and hope that they will, eventually, gain the happy ending they deserve. Definitely pick up a copy of The Good Children, you will not regret it.

Overall Rating: 10/10

If you would like to find out more about Roopa Farooki and her books, you can visit her official website and/or follow her on twitter.

Deep Blue Sea by Tasmina Perry..

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tasmina perry deep blue sea

Blurb:

Beneath the shimmering surface lies a dark secret…

Diana and Julian Denver have the world at their feet. With a blissful marriage, a darling son and beautiful homes in London and the country, Diana’s life, to the outside world, is perfect. But nothing is as it seems…

When Julian dies suddenly and tragically, Diana is convinced there is more to it than meets the eye. She calls on the one person she had never wanted to see again – her sister, Rachel.

A former tabloid reporter, Rachel appears to be living the dream as a diving instructor on a Thai island. The truth is she’s in exile, estranged from her family and driven from her career by Fleet Street’s phone-hacking scandal.

For Rachel, Diana’s request opens old wounds. But she is determined to make amends for the past, and embarks on a treacherous journey to uncover the truth – wherever it may lead…

Review:

First of all thank you to the lovely people at Headline for providing me with a copy of this book through Bookbridgr. This was the first time I read a Tasmina Perry book and I can’t say it will be my last.

The story revolves around the mystery surrounding the death of Diana’s beloved husband, Julian. Diana, unlike everyone else, questions the way in which he dies and doesn’t believe for a second that everything is what it seems. As such, she calls on her sister Rachel to help her. One sibling helping another in a situation like this is normal but it comes as a surprise to all when Rachel comes to her sister’s aid in the hopes of solving Julian’s mysterious death regardless of the fact that the two sisters haven’t to spoken to one another in years.

From the beginning I was reeled into the story very quickly. We are shown the two different lives lived by two sisters, who in the prologue seem to have the closest relationship, yet now in the present for some reason, are miles apart from one another – physically and mentally. The mystery surrounding their apparent feud immediately had me hooked, as I found myself continuously wondering what could be the cause of their relationship deteoriating to such an extent.

I’m not sure how much I liked either of the sisters at the beginning but I can say that I definitely warmed to both as the plot progressed. For me, the character that had the most growth was Diana. From being reserved to naïve to independent, she blossomed into someone who you could truly appreciate as a person and I loved that she did because a lot of the time my sympathies were with her.

Tasmina puts a lot of detail into the personalities of the two sisters and I was constantly learning new things about both as the story progressed. Of course one the main issues that keeps these two sisters together (and at times apart) is Julian. From flashbacks we learn more about Julian and the type of man he was and why to Diana he seemed perfect and why to Rachel, he was perhaps not so perfect. Then of course his death brings about suspicion as to who he really was as an individual. Was he the man that Diana fell in love with and married or was he the snob that Rachel believed him to be? So many questions were brought up in the novel and they did well to keep my interest in the story going.

The pace of the book was slow, at times, but it reflected the mood of the characters perfectly. Tasmina’s writing is clear and easy to understand. She goes into a lot of detail, in terms of places and her character personalities are quite in depth so I felt as if I had known the protagonists my whole life. Lots of twists and turns kept the plot of the novel intriguing and I certainly didn’t expect the ending as it was and for that I’m certainly glad!

Overall, if you are a romance and women’s literature/family saga fan then this book is perfect for you. There’s suspense, love and a whole lot of family dynamics that keeps the story going and makes it even more brilliant! This book has definitely raised my expectations and I hope that, as soon I as I get my hands on another Tasmina Perry book, it’s as good as this. Do yourself a favour and grab a copy of this book because you will not regret it!

Overall Rating: 9/10

If you would like to find out more about Tasmina and her books you can do so from her official website and follow her on twitter and facebook.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes..

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mebeforeyou_jojomoyes

Blurb:

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Review:

I hope my review does this book some justice because I honestly believe that this is one book that has touched me like no other.

This was my first Jojo Moyes book and since then I’ve literally followed her books like an obsessive fan. The plot of this book revolves around the lives of the two protagonists Lou and Will.

Lou is a wonderful character that I immediately liked and was able to relate to on so many different levels. Moyes makes her very realistic and I felt that her simplicity and unselfishness is what made her so lovable. She’s very bright but does not have any stable direction in life, which is why after losing her job she applies to be a carer for a young man who has been left in a quadriplegic state. Fate works in mysterious ways and this job sets her on the path of Will Traynor, our second protagonist.

Will has been left in a quadriplegic state following a road accident, which occurred two years earlier. Unlike Lou, Will used to have a high-end active lifestyle and a successful career. However, after his accident he is left feeling demoralised, as he believes he has now lost everything. I couldn’t blame Will for being bitter and angry after what had happened to him but this is where Lou comes in. With a riot of colour she sets out to change Will’s perception and make him realise that there still are some things worth living for.

This is probably the first book I’ve read that centres so deeply around a physical impairment. What I loved though was that Jojo doesn’t just focus on the disability, rather gives us an insight into Will’s emotional journey as a whole. Will’s emotional journey and Lou’s loyalty towards making Will realise how beautiful his life really is, is what makes this story so special.

This book is very moving and made me realise just how important life really is and how easily we take so many things for granted. It made me appreciate the things I do have in life and has left a deep impact on my heart.

Me Before You is guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and fall in love all over again. Jojo Moyes has done an exceptional job with this story that needs to be heard by all. I cannot recommend this book enough; if you haven’t read it you are doing yourself a great injustice. It is a gem of a book and if like me you’re an emotional person, have that tissue box ready. A thought provoking and a memorable book that will stay with you for a very long time.

Overall Rating: 10/10

Vision in White by Nora Roberts..

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vision in white - nora roberts

Blurb:

The first book in the Bride Quartet—following the lives and loves of four friends who run Vows, a wedding-planning company. Wedding photographer Mackensie “Mac” Elliot is most at home behind the camera, but her focus is shattered moments before an important wedding rehearsal when she bumps into the bride-to-be’s brother…an encounter that has them both seeing stars.

A stable, safe English teacher, Carter Maguire is definitely not Mac’s type. But a casual fling might be just what she needs to take her mind off bridezillas. Of course, casual flings can turn into something more when you least expect it. And Mac will have to turn to her three best friends—and business partners—to see her way to her own happy ending.

Review:

I’m an old romantic at heart so when I first came across this book, I was ecstatic. From the blurb I knew that there would be lots of romance, girly talks, friendship and family aspects that I think is an absolute must in romance books.

I’m already a huge fan of Nora Roberts and I have previously loved her Chesapeake Series which were a delight to read. When Vision in White came out I was on cloud nine, literally. This is the first book in a series of four, and it tells the story of a group of childhood best friends (Mackensie, Parker, Laurel and Emmaline) who now run their own wedding-planning company. Vision in White focuses on the story of Mackensie, and how she overcomes her fears of ‘a happily ever after’ and falls slowly but surely in love with Carter Maguire.

I liked Mac’s character because she was independent, fierce (when required to be) and incredibly loyal to her friends. She’s a photographer for the company and loves to make someone else’s wedding day special. I understood Mac’s fears of not believing in marriages herself because of her personal experience with bad parenting. Her mum is unstable and egoistical and her father has been absent since she was a little girl. This would therefore make anyone wary of marriage and long-term relationships.

However, this is where Carter comes into the picture. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a hero as much as I loved Carter. He’s nerdy, clumsy, intelligent, cute and incredibly charming. Oh did I mention he’s also an English teacher? For me, Carter is the complete opposite of what most heroes are portrayed as; he’s not got a six pack, not an alpha male, not a ‘bad boy’, he wears glasses and loves literature. Probably one of the most realistic interpretations of a hero, in a novel, till date. Kudos to Nora for that! It’s also for that reason why I think he’s so lovable, I could easily relate to him and he was definitely the star of this book.

I loved the family/friendship dynamics of the four friends and how they stick together through thick and thin. By the end of the book, I found myself wishing that this wedding-planning quartet were real and not just fictional characters. The story does at times drag on a bit and I found myself skipping some parts in order to get to Carter’s scenes more quickly. However, it doesn’t take away from the beauty of the writing and it is a typical Nora Roberts novel where you can be assured that whatever happens throughout the story, there will always be a happy ending.

I recommend this book to all romance fans and chick-lit fans because it’s an absolute joy to read. Also if you love this book, do read the others in the series: Bed of Roses (Emmaline’s story), Savour the Moment (Laurel’s story) and Happy Ever After (Parker’s story).

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Please Forgive Me by Melissa Hill..

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melissa hill

Blurb:

Have you ever dreamed of running away? Of just leaving the past behind you?

Leonie has done just that. She’s moved to another country and got a new job, a new home, a brand new life. . .But when she discovers a box of unread love letters in the bottom of her wardrobe, all ending with the words ‘please forgive me’, she finds herself drawn to the mystery behind them.

Can the unravelling of another person’s story help Leonie deal with her own past and her own secrets? All she knows is that she has to try. Because if the couple behind the love letters had a happy ending, then perhaps she just might too.

Review:

I wouldn’t have actually read this book if it wasn’t for my sister, so first and foremost big thank you to her for introducing me to the fantastic Melissa Hill.

Melissa Hill writes an extraordinary tale of three parallel stories that interweave with one another, with the past and present clashing in such ways that I was compelled to read on and on into the night. It has to be said, this book didn’t allow me to sleep much but that’s predominately why I loved it so much.

The plot has so many twists and turns that I was kept fully engaged throughout the book. Hill gives us vibrant 3-dimensional characters, whom we can easily relate to. The main story revolves around the heroine of this novel, Leonie. A girl who’s fled from her native Dublin after a broken heart to a new city and a new life. Leonie finding a box of old unopened letters is when the story really starts to unfold and the reader is given a glimpse into the lives of two extraordinary lovers.

Initially, I did get confused at times because the story is told through past and present events, so I did find myself going back to the beginning sometimes to get a good handle on things. However, that doesn’t take away from the easy flow of the writing or from Melissa’s incredible imagination, which makes this book what it is.

What I loved most about this book was that Melissa talks in great detail about forgiveness. This story made me question if I were ever in a situation, like the characters in the book, would I forgive easily or not? What does it mean to fully forgive someone and how should one ask for forgiveness? I was so intrigued by Melissa’s interpretation of this concept and loved that she gives you two sides to a story.

Melissa Hill gives a realistic insight into three different – yet at times similar – love stories, all of which are set in different times and places. If you’re a romance fan, then this book is definitely for you, I can’t recommend this book enough. It will take you on an emotional journey that will have you rooting for each and every one of the characters within this book. It was absolutely impossible to put this book down and Melissa Hill has now become one of my all-time favourites.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10