Friday, 15 June 2018

The Forgotten Guide to Happiness - Sophie Jenkins

Date of Reading: 15/06/2018
Author: Sophie Jenkins
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: July 26, 2018
Rating: 4.5/5
From: NetGalley 

About the book:

You can lose your memory, but you never forget how to love…
Lana Green has a talent for pushing people away. As a writer, she’s perfectly happy to be left alone with her books. But when she meets Jack Buchanan and Nancy Ellis Hall, Lana’s solitary life will change for ever.

Nancy has dementia, and social services believe this makes her vulnerable. But Lana can see the funny, brilliant woman underneath the illness.

As Lana and Jack struggle to keep Nancy out of a care home, Lana starts to question everything she ever thought mattered.

Because what’s the point in stories, if there is no one to share them with?

My Review:

       Have you ever read a book that makes you feel warm, happy and content? If you have gone through a similar experience, then you won't be able to pass this one by. The stunning debut with its unique perspective and story line will endear anyone with at least a small inkling to write.
        The story was quite engaging from the start itself and we immediately connect with Lana Green, the author of a single famous romantic novel whose life is now in shatters. Her quirky but insightful comments on other writers (especially the one about Hemingway) and about writing had me grinning from ear to ear.  
       And I never thought that someone with dementia can contribute so much fun. In reality I don't think they will, but here I completely agree with Kitty, "no one wants to read how it all went wrong . . . they can look to their own lives for that sort of thing."
      The characters we meet are also quite distinctive, starting from Nancy. Then there is Jack and we can't but admire how he pedalled  through some really dark periods in life. Love is insanity (some loves at least) and it is good to see him so forgiving. He has become one of my favourite heroes.
      That being said, I won't classify this as a romance novel since that plays only a minor role here. This is a writer's search for her novel, that particular story which is waiting for her to be written. Endowed with one of the perfect endings, this uplifting book will make you happy irrespective of whether you forgot the feeling or not. 

Something to ponder ...

"Generallay, you have to be thin-skinned to be a writer, so you can be insightful and all that, but you have to be thick-skinned too, because no one in the history of the written word has ever written anything that everyone likes" - Loc 169
"I can spot a teacher a mile off. They'r e the ones telling people off." - Loc 427

"Self-pity is seductive, but it makes you pitiful." - Loc 479

"A photograph is like a stare, a voyeuristic activity in which you can study someone with all the time in the world and make up a narrative about them" - Loc 2982

"The problem I've always had with real life is, you never know what's going to happen." - Loc 3986

Meet the author:

Sophie Jenkins
Sophie Jenkins is a serial joiner of writing groups and workshops and a prolific short story writer. To encourage her creativity she regularly enters half-marathons and trains by running from her home in North London to breakfast in the centre of town with a notepad.

The character of Nancy in The Forgotten Guide to Happiness is based on her experiences with her own mother, who was diagnosed with dementia fifteen years ago.  

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Clutch - Lisa Becker

Date of Reading: 08/06/2018
Author: Lisa Becker
Publisher: Becker Press
Publication Date: October 10, 2015
Rating: 4.3/5
From: NetGalley 

About the book:

Clutch is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.  

My Review:

        A completely predictable, utterly enjoyable romantic comedy -- that is how I would like to describe this novel. Starting from Caroline's days at Harvard, it follows the friendship and witty banter she shares with Mike. Mike is a playboy who leaves behind a string of broken hearts everywhere while Caroline is in search of the Mr. Right or the 'Clutch'. Clutch is the name of her business venture, something she has built because she held onto her passion. Now she needs a man whom she can hold onto.
         There follows a series of dating adventures with the chapter titles giving a rough notion about the suitors. The only downside is, we know it will all end badly, that is until we reach the chapter 'Clutch'. So a small advise: better not read this in one sitting, it tends to be a bit boring then.
        More than Caroline, I liked the character of Mike. He has an insight that Caroline totally lacks. We can't but wonder how she became a successful businesswoman. Still, it was total fun reading about her dating blunders :)

Meet the author: 

Lisa Becker is a romance writer who spends her time like she spends her money - on books and margaritas. In addition to Clutch: a novel, she is the author of the Click trilogy, a contemporary romance series about online dating. As Lisa’s grandmother used to say, “For every chair, there’s a tush.” Lisa is now happily married to a wonderful man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach, California with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened to her, there’s hope for anyone! You can share your love stories with her at 

Sunday, 10 June 2018

The Distance between Us - Georgie Capron

Date of Reading: 10/06/2018
Author: Georgie Capron
Publisher: Aria
Publishing Date: July 1, 2018
Rating: 4.5/5
From: NetGalley 

About the book:

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Coming Home to Ottercombe Bay - Bella Osborne

Date of Reading: 07/06/2018
Author: Bella Osborne
Publisher: Avon
Place: London
Publication Date: 28th June 2018
Rating: 4/5
From: NetGalley 

About the book:

Ottercombe Bay was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.
Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.

With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?

My Review:

        The moment I saw the cover I totally fell in love with this book. Yes, yes I know. I should not be judging by appearances. But what was inside was equally heartwarming and comforting. The book traces one year in Daisy's life when she is forced to stay in Ottercombe Bay in order to get her inheritance. So keeping her wanderlust on hold, she is forced to confront the painful memories related to her mother's death.
         There is  a mystery, a bit of romance and a lot of funny moments all thanks to the cunning black pug, Bugsy. I am glad Osborne gave him much importance, we can't help but adore him. I  eagerly waited for his pranks all the time.
        Osborne has successfully captured the life of Ottercombe in its true beauty and it stays as a soothing, calm village with helping, lovely neighbours till the very end. Quirky Tamsyn, sweet Jason, annoying but loving Max, caring Coral and the list goes on. It was almost as if I was living there myself. We could feel the salty sea breeze and a certain cosiness that can only be found in Ottercombe Bay. 
        Thank you, Avon, for giving me a review copy via NetGalley. It was an enjoyable read!

Meet the author:

I've been jotting down my stories as far back as I can remember. Somehow life took over, I got a sensible job in project management and the writing has remained a passion.
I live in The Midlands with my lovely husband and our wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept me as I am (with my mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).
You can follow me on Twitter @osborne_bella. 

Friday, 1 June 2018

Happily Never After - Emma Robinson

Date of Reading: 01/06/2016
Author: Emma Robinson
Publisher: Bookouture
Place: London
Year: 2018
Rating: 3.5/5
From: NetGalley 

About the book (Goodreads):

Rory doesn’t believe in love. She’s got far too many real problems to deal with.

She’s just bought a tumbledown house. Her mother is generally behaving like a wicked witch, insisting on calling her Aurora, and generally interfering in her (admittedly pitiful lack of) love life. And her 16-year-old daughter has finally grown out of Disney princesses and discovered dating…

But Rory’s adamant that she doesn’t need saving. In fact, the only thing she’s wishing on a star for is a bit of practical help. However, when she meets a builder whose name is John Prince and who seems to be in the habit of rescuing her (right down to finding her lost shoe one evening) she might have to face a truth as uncomfortable as hobbling home barefoot – that maybe there’s something enchanted in the air.

Her mother, daughter and friends are convinced her prince has come, but Rory just wishes everyone could let it go. Especially when she hears a story that makes her question whether he is really the hero everyone thinks he is…

My Review:
        I don't know why it is given the subtitle 'A laugh out loud romantic comedy' because there is nothing much to laugh in this. The story is more about parenting troubles, teenage rebellion and the challenges of teaching profession. It was a story with great potential, one I would have loved more with the addition of humour. 
      We encounter a bunch of realistic characters. Rory is not a fan of HEA and her daughter lives in search of a fairy tale prince charming. We could see the clouds of disaster approaching there itself. I really admire Rory even with her stubborn attitude, she is the type of teacher I would like to be one day. 
       Since it is the story of a single parent, instead of giving much interest to Rory's potential partner, it also focuses on the love life of her intimate friends - Susie and Penny. Rory's mother Sheila, I feel, is the sole fun element. Still this was an enlightening read, beautifully structured around the renovation of Rory's new home, aptly ending with housewarming party where all loose threads come together.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

The Weaver's Daughter - Sarah E. Ladd

Date of Reading: 26/05/2018
Author: Sarah E. Ladd
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Place: Nashville, Tennessee
Year: April 2018
From: NetGalley
Rating: 4.3/5

About the book (Goodreads):

Kate's loyalties bind her to the past. Henry's loyalties compel him to strive for a better future. In a landscape torn between tradition and vision, can two souls find the strength to overcome their preconceptions?

Loyalty has been at the heart of the Dearborne family for as long as Kate can remember, but a war is brewing in their small village, one that has the power to rip families asunder --including her own. As misguided actions are brought to light, she learns how deep her father's pride and bitterness run, and she begins to wonder if her loyalty is well-placed.

Henry Stockton, heir to the Stockton fortune, returns home from three years at war seeking refuge from his haunting memories. Determined to bury the past, he embraces his grandfather's goals to modernize his family's wool mill, regardless of the grumblings from the local weavers. When tragedy strikes shortly after his arrival, Henry must sort truth from suspicion if he is to protect his family's livelihood and legacy.

Henry has been warned about the Dearborne family. Kate, too, has been advised to stay far away from the Stocktons, but chance meetings continue to bring her to Henry's side, blurring the jagged lines between loyalty, justice, and truth. Kate ultimately finds herself with the powerful decision that will forever affect her village's future. As unlikely adversaries, Henry and Kate must come together to find a way to create peace for their families, and their village, and their souls - even if it means risking their hearts in the process.

My Review: 

        A beautiful novel that will hook you to the end even though we know full well what is going to happen. We are presented with a set of admirable characters which, if I should be honest, is quite unlike the era of their setting. Kate is fiercely independent and in no way be subdued by a marriage of convenience or the talks of being a lady. She wants to be taken seriously as any other weaver in the society. Needless to say, Henry is attracted to this caring, brave and generous woman and the duo make a handsome, happy couple.
         The book has been put under the category of Christian fiction, but it focuses on the innate idea of Christianity rather than customs and prayers of the Christian religion. The story stresses the need to forgive and to be truthful and even gives insight into the heart of the major rival, Frederica Pennington. Like many other beautiful girls, she is trapped by the conventions of the society where the only means of escape is a profitable marriage.
       Beginning lightly with Kate as a child, the story picks pace with the mystery of a murder at its core and concludes with a peaceful and satisfying ending. Thanks to the gripping narration, you won't be able to put it down without finishing.

Meet the author:

Sarah E. Ladd has always loved the Regency period — the clothes, the music, the literature and the art. A college trip to England and Scotland confirmed her interest in the time period and gave her idea of what life would’ve looked like in era. It wasn’t until 2010 that Ladd began writing seriously. Shortly after, Ladd released the first book in the Whispers on the Moors series. Book one of the series, The Heiress of Winterwood, was the recipient of the 2011 ACFW Genesis Award for historical romance. Ladd also has more than ten years of marketing experience. She holds degrees in public relations and marketing and lives in Indiana with her family and spunky Golden Retriever.
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