The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

blog

Here’s the official description:

Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G!

Review

I won’t lie to you now my lovely readers, I absolutely bought this book because I remembered seeing Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in the clips for the movie version. At the time of reading, I hadn’t seen the film so I really went in to this book blind. I wasn’t 100% sure of what it was about but it had been in my TBR list for a while and given that I was about to go on a long journey, I figured now was as good a time as any to get into it.

When I first started the book, it took me a few minutes to adjust. It’s like it should be read in a diary style but it’s not a diary, you’re basically reading Pat’s thoughts which are quite….simple really. Not childlike, but they are definitely those of a man who is struggling. You then find out that Pat has spent a considerable amount of time in a mental health facility aka ‘the bad place’.

As the book progresses, you realise that Pat’s problems run quite deep. He is so focussed though, his main goal now is to get better and for ‘apart time’ with his wife, Nikki, to finish. He desperately wants Nikki back and has immersed himself into working out and reading, just so that he is in better shape than he used to be and is more intellectual for her. We learn that one of her old colleagues used to call him an illiterate buffoon and I don’t know about anyone else, but I felt really protective of Pat and wanted him to be able to go up to that guy, like he was imagining he would, and to be able to fire back at him.

I really loved Pat’s character and wanted to see him succeed but you can’t help but think that he isn’t going to get his happy ending, his silver lining like he dreams of, and you wonder whether Nikki really is worth all of the trouble – she certainly doesn’t seem it.

Pat imagines that his life is a movie that God is in control of and thinks that if he pleases God by improving himself and ‘practising being kind’, then he will return Nikki to him. You get the feeling that this ship has sailed though, especially as his family are being very vague with him whenever he mentions her and the end of their apart time.

When Tiffany comes onto the scene, his friends wife’s sister, I really wanted them to hit it off straight away. Tiffany is an extremely direct woman who speaks her mind, a bit too much at times, but Pat doesn’t want her attention, all he wants is Nikki. Tiffany however, makes herself a part of Pat’s life, whether he likes it or not. It was no surprise to learn that she also has mental health problems and towards the end of the book when you learn why, my heart literally broke.

The supporting characters, like Pat’s family, therapist and his friends were great and even though they weren’t always very understanding of Pat’s problems, you discovered that they were still there to support him 100% when it mattered.

Overall, I LOVED this book. It has the perfect combination of humour and really touching moments and it really made me think about things in a different way. I loved Pat’s thoughts on silver linings and practising being nice, something we should all do. The only thing that stopped this from being a 5* for me was the amount of sports talk in the book. It didn’t put me off finishing reading it because I actually finished it in the day, that’s how much I enjoyed it, but I found myself skimming over the bits where they were talking about things I really didn’t understand. I imagine this doesn’t have the same kind of impact in the film though which for me is a good thing.

It also kind of made me want to take up running but I imagine that will pass pretty quickly, I run like Bambi, it’s not a pretty sight!

4 STARS

I have since seen the film, a couple of times, and although I do love me some Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, I can’t help but feel the script writers let the author down. So much is missed out and so much is changed that I didn’t have the same kind of empathy with Pat’s family. I also missed the therapist who played a major role in the book.

signature

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

luckiest-girl-alive-9781476789637_hr

What’s it all about:

HER PERFECT LIFE

IS A PERFECT LIE

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

t see coming, Luckiest Girl Aliveand introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

Review

MASSIVE thanks to Simon & Schuster who provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Have you ever read a book that got so far under your skin that you struggled to express why? One that pulled you in from the very first chapter and refused to let you out of its grip until IT was ready. Luckiest Girl Alive was one of these books for me. The chilling skill that Jessica Knoll has when writing about Ani FaNelli was so vivid that I almost felt like I lived through her story with her.

I first heard about Luckiest Girl Alive via Reese Witherspoon’s Instagram (I know, I was quite late to the party) and the cover was one of the things that drew me in. When I saw it on Netgalley I knew that I had to try it and I am 100% thrilled that I did.

TiFani Fanelli is our narrator and what a  narrator she is. The book flits between the past and the present, 14 year old TiFani and 28 year old Ani. I can’t say I blame her for altering her name when she gets older!

TiFani is just your average 14 year old really, not the most likeable teenager ever but somewhat relatable. After moving schools to Bradley, a place that by all accounts, costs her parents a small fortune, all TiFani wants to do is fit in and become part of the popular group. In this respect, she’s just a normal girl wanting to get by in school, and who can blame her? High school can be a horrific time for anyone but for TiFani, things take an unfortunate turn when she is invited alone to a party with a few of the popular boys and this, this tragic night where 3 of the boys take advantage of a completely out of it TiFani, is what moulds and shapes the rest of her life.

Ani (that’s Ah-nee not Annie) is a 28 year old that works for a women’s magazine in New York, is engaged to a rich, handsome fiancé and has clawed her way up the social ladder with every ounce of strength she has. She isn’t particularly nice or pleasant, she starves herself in preparation for her wedding and only really has 1 friend, Nell. In the run up to her wedding, we learn that there is also a documentary about to be filmed  that centres around her past, another reason she wanted the rock on her finger and the perfect life/body, to show the people from her old school just how far TiFani has come. What we don’t know at this point, is what other dark secret she has lurking, one that she doesn’t talk about, one that still haunts her on top of what happened to her at the house with those boys that night.

I won’t go into too much detail because a spoiler for this book would completely ruin the rollercoaster ride that the author has you on. What I will say though, is that although I think we aren’t meant to like Ani, I did. When we dig a little deeper into her past, when the scars are ripped open and the wounds are gaping for all to see, that’s when you start to see why she is the way she is. Why she does the things she does.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes their leading lady with a bit of a bite, who enjoys the twists and turns of a thriller that will keep you guessing for as long as possible, and who isn’t of a squeamish/sensitive disposition!

5 STARS

Buy the book on Amazon UK / Amazon US

Visit Jessica’s Website

Follow Jessica on Twitter

signature

About Jessica

6464799

Jessica Knoll has been a senior editor at Cosmopolitan, and the articles editor at SELF. She grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and graduated from The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. She lives in New York City with her husband. 

Lila’s Choice by Laura Brown

lilas-choice-cover

Here’s the books official description:

Never let your friends get involved in your personal life.

Lila and Nate learn this the hard way. They are the star-crossed lovers of Glendale High. For three years the students have waited for the two to get together. They begged Nate to put his past relationship behind him, and cringed when Lila started dating Bryce. Just your typical teenage romance, except they’re the teachers.

Lila, a guidance counselor with a sweet demeanor, has an answer for every problem, every problem but her own. A visit from childhood friend Bryce thrusts her calm world into turmoil, as emotions buried deep inside are dragged to the surface. He soon realizes what only a friend can notice and a lover regret, that Lila, unbeknownst to herself, is in love with Nate. 

Nate has seen better days. He is a history teacher stuck living in the past. Depression has kept his love for Lila unspoken, his ego frail after being cheated on.

Now Lila and Nate’s coworkers must unleash a scheme and uncover Lila’s true feelings. In a school this nosey what better way to get fast results than to involve the student population? The students are all too eager to get involved. 

If everything goes as planned Lila will have to choose between two men. If her friends fail they might destroy these three and ruin their friendship. No wonder the scheme is called Project Torture.

Review

I’m currently part of an amazing group of women on Facebook who write chicklit and the lovely Laura is one of these women.

Her novel, Lila’s Choice, is her debut novel and I enjoyed every second of it. There are some great characters in it, all of them down to earth and completely relatable.

The book really centres around Lila, a school guidance counsellor who lives with her colleague and friend Ette.

Early on in the book we learn that Lila has one of her oldest friends, Bryce, coming to town for a spell and that she has suddenly realised she has feelings for him. Feelings that are more than the ‘just friends’ feelings that she thinks she should be having. She’s certain that these feelings are wrong and that she shouldn’t act on them. Ette however, disagrees completely.

We soon learn that the pair are a group of four friends who all work together at Glendale High. Nate and Kent complete the group and I have to say, I loved the friendships they all have. Kent and Ette are brilliant at lightening the moods of Lila and Nate, who incidentally has a huge crush on Lila.

Poor Nate is currently going though a divorce after being separated for 3 years but can’t seem to take that final step, and when he learns of Lila’s new relationship with Bryce, he all but gives up on the idea of anything more than friendship with her – especially when Bryce pops the question in front of the group and Lila says yes, and then drops the bomb that she’ll be leaving with Bryce to move to Florida at the end of the school year.

About halfway through the book, Ette learns of Nate’s affections for Lila from Kent and after watching her carefully, she realises that Lila is not only having doubts about the move to Florida, but she’s having doubts about Bryce. So Kent and Ette decide team up with some of their students – who are also abundantly aware of the feelings Nate has for Lila – to try and get Lila to see what everyone else can, that they are both very much in love with each other.

There are some very comical moments in this book, but most of all I found it a sweet and genuinely heartwarming read about friendships and going after your true love. There are many twists and turns, and in parts I felt really sorry for both Lila and Nate, but as with any love story, the path to true love doesn’t always run smoothly.

I also have to say that Glendale High has a Deaf Program in the book and reading about it really made me want to learn sign language! This really made the book stand out from anything else I’ve read and I look forward to reading more.

4 STARS

Get the book here:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

signature

Truly, Madly, Greekly by Mandy Baggot

Truly Madly Greekly

What’s it all about:

Sun, sea and a sexy stranger – a whole lot of fun just got a lot more complicated.

Capable, confident and career-driven, Ellen had her dream job and a marriage proposal from boyfriend Ross. Life was good, her future set. Until it wasn’t and everything fell apart…

Whisked off to the beautiful island of Corfu to plan her sister Lacey’s big, fat, Greek wedding, Ellen is hoping some time out will help clear her head and heal her heart. But letting go of her past is not going to be easy.

With Lacey in full on Bridezilla mode, Ellen is soon distracted from her own problems. And when the all-inclusive treats on offer at hotel Blue Vue include one gorgeous, brooding Adonis – Yan – Ellen finds him difficult to resist.

But Ellen isn’t looking for love or lust, or anything involving too much ouzo…or is she?

Review

Book provided by Bookouture via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Picture this, cornflower blue skies, taupe coloured sand, the glittering ocean……sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? And heaven is exactly what you experience with this scorching summer read by the wonderful Mandy Baggot.

The story follows Ellen (great name, right?!) and her younger sister, Lacey as they travel to Corfu to plan Lacey’s impending nuptials. Staying at the 5* Blue Vue Hotel, Ellen tries to help her sister focus on wedding prep but Lacey seems a little lost, instead focusing on one of the guys that works at the hotel, Sergei, rather than planning the biggest day of her life. Ellen on the other hand, comes across as focused, driven, a workaholic to some degree and constantly distracted looking at her phone, but there’s a warmth about her that comes across when she’s with Lacey who I couldn’t help but love, especially towards the end.

We also meet Yan. Oh Yan. Cute, loveable, delectable Yan. There is some mystery with Yan at first, we know that he is from Bulgaria and is wanting a clean slate from something, but the question is, what?

There is definite chemistry between Ellen and Yan which I adored, and some of their scenes together are both heart warming and hilarious. I found myself grinning from ear to ear at certain points, especially with the language barriers!

The longer the 2 women are at the hotel, the more you see them grow. Lacey makes a life changing decision and Ellen decides that there really is more to life than work. She learns to take chances and live a little, with Yan by her side, encouraging her every step of the way. But Ellen is harbouring her own secret, much like Yan and trust isn’t something that comes easily to either of them. They must take a leap of faith on each other, on love, but is love enough?

What I loved about Truly, Madly, Greekly was that it not only gave me ALL the feels where Yan and Ellen were concerned, their relationship blossoming before our very eyes in a beautiful setting, but the fact that the story explores so much more than romance. There are trust issues, family issues, a past that haunts each of them, and all are addressed in such a wonderful way that I felt like a part of their story myself. I immersed myself completely and almost forgot that these perfectly written characters weren’t real.

If you’re looking for a book that will pull you in, have you dreaming of your next holiday and melt your heart all in one go, then Truly, Madly, Greekly is the one for you.

5 STARS

Buy the book on Amazon UK / Amazon US

Add Truly, Madly, Greekly on Goodreads

Follow Mandy on Twitter

signature

About Mandy

0mandy b

Mandy Baggot is an award-winning romantic fiction author, writing hot heroes and emotional reads. She is represented by Kate Nash of The Kate Nash Literary Agency.

In 2012 she won the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance and has since scooped Top Ten Reads/Book of the Year places from a number of UK book bloggers.

Traditionally published by US publisher Sapphire Star, Harper Collins’ digital first romance imprint, Harper Impulse, and most recently, digital fiction specialists, Bookouture, a great story is never far from her fingertips!

A contributor to writing blogs and short story anthologies, Mandy is also a regular speaker at literary festivals, events and women’s networking groups.

Mandy loves mashed potato, white wine, country music, World’s Strongest Man, travel and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and auditioned for The X-Factor.

Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and cats, Kravitz and Springsteen.

How to Get a (Love) Life by Rosie Blake

blogg

Here’s the official description:

Some people book last-minute holidays, walk barefoot in the grass or party on a week night. Not Nicola Brown. Nicola is the kind of girl who double-locks the front door, leaves the plastic covering on new furniture, sticks to a super-strict diet and definitely, absolutely Does Not Date.

Her colleague Caroline – loopy, warm and exasperated by her, knows that Nicola’s reluctance to lose control means she’s living only half a life. And so she lays down the gauntlet: Nicola must cast aside her hang ups and go on as many dates as it takes to find true love in time for Valentine’s Day.

The pick of local men is, quite frankly, a bit rubbish. And there are only three months until February 14th. Surely it’s an impossible task? But, as Nicola is about to find out on her dodgy dates, letting go isn’t quite as scary as she imagined. In fact, it’s rather a lot of fun…

 Review

After seeing all of the rave reviews and people saying how funny it was on Twitter, I couldn’t NOT one click this beauty!

Nicola Brown is a single 29 year old creature of habit, and that’s putting it mildly. She has serious OCD, from the strict times she has her food on a specific day of the week to her super organised office space. Nothing she does is ever spontaneous and her life is meticulously planned – but she likes it that way….doesn’t she?

It’s Nicola’s colleague, Caroline, that finally get’s Nicola to relax little by little by setting her a challenge: find true love by Valentines Day.

Caroline is hilarious. I loved her care free attitude and free spirit, if it wasn’t for her I don’t think Nicola would have ever taken the plunge and realised how little of her life she was actually living.

Poor Nicola has to suffer her fair share of disastrous dates though and there are some genuine laugh out loud moments. My ultimate favourite was the kayaking date. I. LOVED. It.

1390990848

Between Caroline and her brother Mark, Nicola finally let’s her hair down and becomes the happy person that she deserves to be which results in her potentially finding love in the most unexpected of places 😉

Once Nicola finally begins to relax, the book skips along nicely and I for one really fell for all of the characters at that point.

4 STARS

signature

Dear Darling – Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal

Today is the day that I’ve been SO looking forward to since I put Dear Darling out there for the world to add on Goodreads……COVER REVEAL DAY!!

Many people will vouch for me when I say I’ve been like a child at Christmas with this cover, patience is not one of my strongest virtues but I got there. Eventually. Anyway, without further ado, here is the cover for my new release which will be out on 31 July!

sized cover1

What it’s all about:

‘I’m 30 years old and sat celebrating with a greasy pizza and a bottle of cheap plonk.’

On her 30th birthday, Ellie Darling decides that it’s time to start a diary. Mainly as a reminder for when she’s old and living with cats that she once had a life that wasn’t all bad. Even if it was one where at 30 years of age, she still refused to spend that extra £3 on the good wine instead of chocolate.

But when the only proposal she gets from her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day is that of a threesome, she decides that enough is enough! With a new, improved job as Personal Assistant to one of the most feared Partners at her law firm – one that she doesn’t seem to be able to stop dreaming about – Ellie decides that this will be her year. And if she has to run errands for her boss’ neurotic Russian girlfriend or drag her best friend to a sponsored cycle with her now gay first love, then so be it.

Let me know your thoughts!

You can also add Dear Darling on Goodreads here.

signature

Travel and Writing

As I prepare for my new release, I’ve been thinking a lot about what really inspires me as an author and have realised, shockingly late in the day, that as well as real life and the people around me, I’m heavily influenced by travel. The places I’ve been or the places I’d love to see help me focus my mind and gather my thoughts. The research side of things also helps take my mind off of the pressures of deadlines and gives my brain a welcome nudge too.

Take for example San Francisco. My debut novel, The Story of Us is set in the magical city by the bay, a place I have been lucky enough to visit twice already and will be returning to next year. I can’t get enough of SF and all someone has to do is mention those fatal words, ‘have you been?’ and my mouth just won’t stop. I could talk for hours about the haunting feel of Alcatraz as you pull up to the dock, the shivers you get down your spine as you walk towards the imposing prison, the fact hell will freeze over before you’ll get me there on a night tour! Or the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park where you really feel like you’re in Japan, surrounded by many sculptures, bridges, ponds and plants it’s easy to lose yourself while sipping a speciality tea or pink lemonade in my case. Haight Ashbury where you’re thrown back into the 60s or Pier 39 where the sea lions sit basking as tourists look on in awe (though they are quite noisy and whiffy, I won’t lie). So when it came to settings for Lexi to escape to in The Story of Us, there really was nowhere else that I would have wanted to escape to myself when writing.

My second novel follows Lexi around London and Yorkshire, which for me was again, like travelling. I live in Yorkshire but love London, so to be able to include Oxford Street and the wonders of London in my book was brilliant.

Learn To Love Again has a slightly different tone to it but still, inspiration for my setting came from a spur of the moment visit to see my Uncle up in Saltburn-by-the-Sea. It’s a wonderful coastal town that became the location of Barton-by-the-Sea, the small village that Lillie grew up in and the setting for my latest novella.

Dear Darling, while set in London, also visits Miami. Miami has been on my bucket list for years and I would love to go. Researching the hotels, the beaches, the attractions, was so thrilling and exciting that I almost felt like I was planning my own holiday. Nothing would have pleased me more than to jet off and do some thorough research but alas, Google had to come to my rescue instead.

It’s a funny old thing, inspiration. It comes when you’re least expecting it and shoots a bolt of excitement through your veins when you start piecing things together, raring to write and explore the wonderful world that has entered your brain.

There are still many places that I will be bringing to you soon, Tuscany is high on my list of locations because after spending a part of my honeymoon in Florence and exploring Tuscany, I cannot wait to share it with you!

Writing this post has been quite an eye opener for me really. I’ve always known that food has played a big part of my inspiration (mainly because I just love to eat) but now when I’m asked in an interview what inspires me, I feel like I can give a better response. Travel. Travel is what inspires me. Travel is what makes me want to mould and shape new characters and tell you all their tales; it’s what excites me when I visit a new place, and travel is what makes me want to write away furiously before the moment passes ha

I want to share with you a few of my favourite photographs of the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. Some are of places that I have written about, some you will read about very soon, but until then, enjoy…….

IMG_2295

Siena, Tuscany

IMG_2300

Siena, Tuscany

IMG_2341

Looking out towards San Gimignano, Tuscany

SDC10223

The infamous Pier 39 seal lions – San Francisco

SDC10253

Lombard Street – San Francisco

SDC10336

The infamous Bush Man – San Francisco

SDC10446

IHOP, the place where dreams come true…..well, if you dream about pancakes that is.

The famous Cliff Lifts leading to the sea – Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Saltburn-by-the-Sea Pier

signature