What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – My Review

Alice

What’s it all about:

Alice is twenty-nine. She adores sleep, chocolate, and her ramshackle new house. She’s newly engaged to the wonderful Nick and is pregnant with her first baby.

There’s just one problem. All of that was ten years ago . . .

Alice has slipped in a step-aerobics class, hit her head and lost a decade. Now she’s a grown-up, bossy mother of three in the middle of a nasty divorce and her beloved sister Elisabeth isn’t speaking to her. This is her life but not as she knows it.

Clearly Alice has made some terrible mistakes. Just how much can happen in a decade?

Can she ever get back to the woman she used to be?

Review

Liane Moriarty has fast become one of my favourite authors. After reading Big Little Lies I found myself searching Amazon to buy more of her books and so What Alice Forgot and The Husband’s Secret were my next investments.
What Alice Forgot is one of those books that forces you to be reflective, to think about your own life – how would you act, feel, love, if you lost a decade of memories. It made me smile, laugh, ponder my own life and marriage. I adore a book that makes you think and think I did. Alice Love has had a nasty bump on the head, a nasty bump that has caused her to lose the last ten years of her life. As far as Alice is concerned, she’s 29 years old, pregnant with her first child and decorating their new dream home with her husband, Nick. So when she wakes up after a trip and fall at the gym, is carried out on a stretcher and taken to hospital, all Alice can think is how silly it all is that people are making such a fuss. And why on earth is she at the gym with a woman she never particularly liked?Alice Love has had a nasty bump on the head, a nasty bump that has caused her to lose the last ten years of her life. As far as Alice is concerned, she’s 29 years old, pregnant with her first child and decorating their new dream home with her husband, Nick. So when she wakes up after a trip and fall at the gym, is carried out on a stretcher and taken to hospital, all Alice can think is how silly it all is that people are making such a fuss. And why on earth is she at the gym with a woman she never particularly liked?

Alice Love has had a nasty bump on the head, a nasty bump that has caused her to lose the last ten years of her life. As far as Alice is concerned, she’s 29 years old, pregnant with her first child and decorating their new dream home with her husband, Nick. So when she wakes up after a trip and fall at the gym, is carried out on a stretcher and taken to hospital, all Alice can think is how silly it all is that people are making such a fuss. And why on earth is she at the gym with a woman she never particularly liked?

When her sister, Elizabeth arrives at the hospital, Alice just wants Nick. Why hasn’t Nick arrived? What is he doing in Portugal? Why can her sister barely look her in the eye and why, when she does speak to Nick, does he hate her so much?

Of course, ten years on Alice has not only had one child, she has had three and cannot remember a single thing about them. The thought of being left alone with them terrifies her and Nick isn’t much help. They are on the brink of divorce and fighting for custody of the children so he believes everything that she does has a motive behind it, that she always has an angle and is trying to make him look bad. If I’m honest, I felt drained for them both.

Snippets of Alice’s memory try to make a return, a smell with trigger an emotion but she cannot seem to pull out an actual memory. Her family warm to the new old Alice, the Alice that isn’t busy, busy, busy, the Alice that will eat a custard tart without thinking of calories, the Alice that isn’t a bitch.

Along with Alice’s POV we’re treat to a diary of sorts from her sister who is recording events in a journal for her therapist. We learn more about Alice and how she changed from the girl they all loved to the girl who would rather spend time with her new friend Gina than her sister or husband. Alice learns that everything seems to lead back to Gina as the book goes on and when we finally think we have the answers as to who Gina is….we don’t. We don’t even truly have the answers as to who Alice is and what went so wrong between her and Nick until nearer the end.

I cannot express how much I loved this book. The characters felt like they were a part of my life, my heart broke for Alice again and again as she became lost in the new world that she had created for herself but didn’t have a clue how. I longed for Nick’s armour to come down, for a happy ever after for the couple but the way the story pans out to me was perfectly realistic and appropriate. I believed every word I was reading and genuinely wish I could go back and read it for the first time all over again.

For anyone looking for a book to spend their Christmas money or voucher on, anyone looking for a book that will pull you in and keep you in a vice like grip setting you free bit by tiny bit while you hold your breath in anticipation for what else Alice forgot then this is the book for you. I could ramble on for hours and hours but won’t. Just buy it. Please.

5 STARS

Buy the book – Amazon UK / US

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Visit Liane’s website

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The Lonely Hearts Travel Club – Destination Thailand by Katy Colins

thailand

What’s it all about:

What if you had a second chance… to find yourself?

Instead of slipping on her something borrowed and tripping up the aisle to wedded bliss, Georgia spends her big day crying into a warm Sex-on-the-Beach, wondering where it all went wrong.

Forced to make a bucket list of her new life goals by best friend Marie, it’s not long before travel-virgin Georgia’s packing her bags for a long-haul adventure to Thailand.

Yet, Georgia’s big adventure doesn’t seem to be going to plan. From strange sights, smells and falling for every rookie traveller scam in the book Georgia has never felt more alone.

But the good thing about falling apart is that you can put yourself back together any way you please. And new Georgia might just be someone she can finally be proud of…

Review

Book provided by Carina UK in exchange for an honest review

Katy’s debut novel caught my eye on Twitter when her cover was revealed (and what a beautiful cover, no? <3) and after reading the blurb, I just had to read it. Like, now. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge sucker for a list – I genuinely struggle to function without one – but when that list is a bucket list, a TRAVEL bucket list, I can barely contain myself.

Destination Thailand follows jilted bride, Georgia, as she struggles with the aftermath of her fiance dumping her weeks before their wedding for another woman. Her best friend, Marie, takes her away on a holiday to Turkey so that on the day she was supposed to say her I do’s she isn’t hiding away from the world saying I can’t. It’s on this holiday that Marie convinces Georgia to create a bucket list, something that will help her get back to her old self again. To travel and do the old cliche and ‘find herself’.

After some serious deliberating, Georgia finally books a 6 week backpacking tour of Thailand as part of a group and this is where the fun begins.

Now I just want to say that Thailand is high up on my travel bucket list so to read a book written by someone that has genuinely travelled to the places she is writing about was a huge plus for me. Especially Bangkok, a place that both fascinates and terrifies me at the same time! I may or may not have stalked Katy’s blog to drool at her photographs too. Just saying.

Poor Georgia has some amusing and yet truly horrifying experiences when she arrives in Bangkok to meet her fellow backpackers and it doesn’t get much better for her until she decides enough is enough and heads off to do her own thing. I loved the fact that Georgia finally plucked up the courage to go it alone and for me, that’s when I really began to get lost in a dreamy haze, googling pictures of Koh Lanta and imagining myself in Georgia’s shoes. She meets some very interesting characters along the way but the guys in Koh Lanta were my favourite, especially Ben. The only downside for me was that it seemed to end a bit quickly.

If you’re looking for an escape from the cold, winter nights, the drudgery of day to day life and love to read about exotic locations then Katy Colin’s debut novel is the book for you.

4 STARS

Pre order on Amazon UK / US

Follow Katy on Twitter

Read Katy’s blog

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How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake – My Review

xmas

What’s it all about:

‘Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you’ve found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance’s phone…
Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve’s boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen.
But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve’s best friend Daisy know that she isn’t telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve’s boat?

Review

As soon as I saw Rosie’s new cover appear on Twitter way back when, I knew I had to have it and I’m so pleased to tell you lovely bookish folk that it was a highly anticipated read that didn’t disappoint one bit.

How to Stuff Up Christmas follows Eve, a recently single woman after discovering her arse of a fiancé was cheating on her with someone who is quite partial to sending picture messages of their ladygarden…..can you imagine?! So Eve would like to avoid the festive period if she can. This doesn’t mean she’s a humbug, because she isn’t, she’s simply a woman who would rather lock herself away with a bucket of ice cream than spend the day with her family and the reminder of how perfect the Christmas before was when her fiancé proposed. Who can blame her, right? So this year she decides to escape and enrols in a pottery class in the quaint little village of Pangbourne and rents a houseboat. From this point on the world around me disappeared! Emails were avoided, meals were burned and husbands were ignored (it’s fine though, we have a snack cupboard he raided!) Seriously though, Pangbourne was a truly delightful setting and I could just imagine myself walking through the village, watching the world go by on the river…..and attending pottery classes.

In Pangbourne, Eve meets local vet Greg under comical circumstances and it becomes clear that the two of them will hit it off, but Greg has something mysterious going on in his life which means he can be frustratingly elusive and it doesn’t help that he doesn’t seem to want to open up to Eve. To be fair, she is a stranger but I still found myself pleading with him to go visit Eve more, to not misinterpret her distance with disinterest. Their story is heart-warming and I loved watching them get to know each other better.

The supporting characters were also wonderful and realistic and I found myself laughing along at the antics of Eve’s sister and brother in law, best friend Daisy, Eve’s dog, Marmite and a special shout out goes to the geese; they made me snort with laughter. So attractive.

If you’re looking for a festive read that is jam packed with Christmassy romance, festive recipes (what a bonus!) and humour that will have you spitting out your mulled wine, then How to Stuff Up Christmas is a must read for you. I would also like to add that I fell so deeply in love with this book that it inspired me to attend a pottery class myself in a local village not too far from me. It was one of the best experiences and I have the lovely Rosie Blake to thank for that.

5 STARS

Buy the book: Amazon UK / US

Follow Rosie on Twitter

Visit Rosie’s website

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Picnics in Hyde Park by Nikki Moore – My Review

Picnics in Hyde Park

What’s it all about:

Hot summer romance…or cold revenge?

Super nanny, Zoe Harper is mad! It was bad enough discovering her ex-fiancé Greg cheating on her just weeks before their wedding. But now she’s returned home to London to find her younger sister Melody has been left jobless, homeless, broke and dumped.

Zoe is determined to get revenge on the infamous Reilly brothers for her sister’s heartbreak. So when an unexpected opportunity gives Zoe a way in to uncaring—and dizzyingly gorgeous!—successful music producer Matt Reilly’s world, she jumps at the chance to make him pay.

But living with Matt as nanny to his two adorable, but complicated children, Zoe soon begins to suspect that not everything is as it seems… Matt insists on pushing everyone away including his children, but why? And if his delicious summer kisses are anything to go by, he can’t be that bad surely?

Can Zoe convince Matt to open up a little and help fix this family before she leaves…or worse, before Matt learns who she really is?

Review

Book provided by Harper Impulse via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

This is the first book I’ve read in the Love London series and wouldn’t hesitate to read the others, or any other by Nikki Moore in fact. This book was the perfect holiday read, I devoured it in one day sat by the pool!

Picnics in Hyde Park follows Zoe on her return from 5 years in New York to find a heart broken sister who has just been brutally sacked from her job as a live-in nanny for a London record producer, Matt. Seething, Zoe arrives on Matt’s doorstep ready to give him a piece of her mind and get some answers for her sister, Melody, who is at a loss as to why she was kicked out without so much as an explanation. However, things don’t go according to plan and soon Zoe finds herself agreeing to replace Melody as Matt’s new nanny on her own undercover revenge mission.

Zoe has a plan, a plan to bring Matt down and out him to the world for the arse that she thinks he is, but the longer she lives with him and his children, the more she learns about him and his ex wife, and the more she softens. It also helps that Matt is easy on the eye!

I absolutely fell in love with Matt and his children, they were both so adorable and in desperate need of Matt’s attention, something he hasn’t truly given them since his wife died. There is a mystery surrounding this story which is eventually revealed and I found my heart wrenching for both Matt and the children. Zoe soon realises that her revenge mission is something she can’t follow through with, she’s in too deep with Matt, but will it be too late when he finds out exactly why she took the job in the first place?

Picnics in Hyde Park took me on a wonderful journey through London and is a story that seriously sizzles in parts. Zoe takes her role as big sister very seriously and was a great character for me to be introduced to the London Series with. If you’re looking for a romance that will take you back to summer and pull at your heartstrings, then I urge you to buy this asap!

5 STARS

Buy the book: Amazon UK / US

Follow Nikki on Twitter

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Mile High by Rebecca Chance – My Review

mile high

What’s it all about:

First class is about to get dangerous . . . Pure Air’s new LuxeLiner is flying from London to LA – its inaugural journey – with a first-class cabin packed with A List celebrities. As the feuding crew compete to impress their famous passengers, the handsome pilot tries to win the attention of a pretty young stewardess.

But one VIP singer is battling something seriously sinister: watching her every step is a very determined stalker, someone who will go to any lengths to get the star to satisfy their desires. At thirty thousand feet there is nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide . . .

Review

Book provided by Pan Macmillan via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I want to start by saying I’m a massive fan of Rebecca Chance and couldn’t wait to read Mile High. The cover caught my attention straight away and I couldn’t wait to devour it on holiday.

The premise of the book is the first flight of Pure Air’s Luxe Liner flying from Heathrow to LA containing the who’s who of the celebrity world; the piece de résistance being Catalina, a pop star at the height of her career and the one to help create the biggest buzz about the airline. The only problem is that the prologue lets us into a dark secret that Catalina certainly isn’t expecting….her stalker will be on that flight, and they intend to join the mile high club with her. The prologue sent chills up my spine, it was utter brilliance and I felt my eyes widen with every sentence.

Throughout the book, (which is purely set on the plane aside from the flashbacks we get of Catalina) we’re given an insight to the private life of the pint-sized popstar. We read about when she discovered she had a stalker, the dependency she has on her best friend and assistant, and the current heartbreak she is suffering from. For me, she was the most surprising and I felt that she was a down to earth young woman who was just going through hell.

Of course, the flight is filled with more drama than you can shake a stick at. A bitchy senior stewardess out to destroy the career of the new girl with her gay sidekick, a randy celebrity chef on the lookout for someone to have a bit of fun with, a British actress pining for her personal trainer, and a publicity director trying to do as much damage control as humanly possible. Not an easy task.

I found myself on edge throughout most of the book when people were trying to get Catalina on her own; when a fan approached, when someone from her past showed up, it was all very tense.

Overall, I did enjoy the book but found it hard to get into, despite the prologue dragging me in at breakneck speed. I found that some chapters were maybe a bit too long or were just drawn out longer than necessary which meant that it was a slow read in parts and wasn’t a book that I flew through. It wasn’t one of my favourite Rebecca Chance books but was definitely full of twists and turns so expect the unexpected.

3.5 stars

Buy the book: Amazon UK / US

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Appleby Farm by Cathy Bramley – My Review

Appleby

What’s it all about:

Appleby Farm was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.

Freya Moorcroft has wild red hair, mischievous green eyes, a warm smile and a heart of gold. She’s been happy working at the café round the corner from Ivy Lane allotments and her romance with her new boyfriend is going well, she thinks, but a part of her still misses the beautiful rolling hills of her Cumbrian childhood home: Appleby Farm.

Then a phone call out of the blue and a desperate plea for help change everything…

The farm is in financial trouble, and it’s taking its toll on the aunt and uncle who raised Freya. Heading home to lend a hand, Freya quickly learns that things are worse than she first thought. As she summons up all her creativity and determination to turn things around, Freya is surprised as her own dreams for the future begin to take shape.

Love makes the world go round, according to Freya. Not money. But will saving Appleby Farm and following her heart come at a price?

Review

The moment I saw Appleby Farm in Asda, there was no question, no hesitation, just a swift pluck of a book from the shelf and it was mine. And isn’t the cover just beautiful?

Like Ivy Lane, Appleby Farm was originally published as four parts, four separate ebooks, but I decided to wait it out to own the paperback instead.

Appleby Farm is all about Freya Moorcroft, a lively young woman with a twinkle in her eye and passion in her heart. She appears to be loved by everyone she meets, and this is perfectly understandable. I found myself wishing she was my friend too, she is just so relatable as a character and most definitely not one of those characters that needs to be saved by a man. Of course, she does already have her very own handsome fireman, Charlie.

In the past, Freya has found herself unable to settle anywhere, nowhere feels like home for too long, and we get the feeling that although she has Charlie whom she clearly loves, she is just convincing herself that Kingsfield really is home. But then a phone call from her Auntie Sue throws everything out of the window and sees Freya heading straight up to Lovedale, a small village in the Lake District, to help her Aunt and Uncle.

The moment Freya arrived in Lovedale, I knew that I would get lost in this book and it would be one of my favourite reads of the year. There is something magical about the way Cathy describes the scenery in the Lake District, and as someone who has just recently been on a break there myself, I felt like I was coming home. What a strange feeling, but it was so true. I felt like Cathy was pulling me into this family, making me feel like I belonged at Appleby Farm and it became a place that I never wanted to leave.

The set of characters that Cathy introduces us to when Freya returns to Lovedale are endearing, quirky, and such a caring bunch that you feel invested in each and every one. From Eddy who looks after the cows on the farm, to Uncle Arthur who has suffered a recent accident yet is stubborn as a mule and will not rest, to Lizzie who becomes an instant friend to Freya. Freya throws herself into life at the farm, just a temporary arrangement over the Easter period she tells herself, but on her return to Kingsdale once again, another frantic phone call sends her rushing back to Auntie Sue’s side, this time her stay becoming as long as she is needed. Which poses a slight problem for her relationship with the ever patient Charlie.

The longer she stays at Appleby Farm, the clearer it becomes that the farm is in trouble, and Freya needs to come up with a plan to save it, and plan she does. Freya thrives as she plans Appleby Farm Tea Rooms, along with a few other brilliant ideas, and though there are a few bumps on the way, with meddling and malicious characters, you can’t help but feel Freya’s positivity rub off.

Appleby Farm is such a fun, engaging read with the sense of community evident when times get hard for Freya’s family, one disaster hitting them after another. I cannot stress enough how brilliant Cathy’s writing is. If you’re looking for a read that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside, Appleby Farm is the one for you. Buy it people, buy it now!

5 STARS

Buy it now:

Amazon UK / US

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Cathy’s website

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton – My Review

FullSizeRender

What’s it all about:

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true.

As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household she realizes the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands – but does she plan to save or destroy them?

Review

I’ve had this book for a while now, sitting on my bookshelf waiting patiently as I pluck other books from around it or choose one of my many eBooks to read first. This weekend though, I finally picked it up and found it hard to put down.

The book begins at the funeral of a mystery person, from the point of view of a woman in the crowd, watching both the revelers and the mourners, her distaste evident.  If this isn’t enough to feed your curiosity and encourage you to continue then I don’t know what is.

The book then starts properly, part one introducing us to Nella Oortman from Assendelft, stood waiting patiently on the doorstep of her new husband’s house in Amsterdam. Nella has married wealthy merchant, Johannes Brandt, a much older gentleman, and is expecting to start her new life as a married woman with her husband, but she soon realises that she will be spending more time with her new sister-in-law, Marin, and their two servants, Otto and Cornelia, than her husband.

Johannes is constantly absent, meaning Nella spends much time alone, even when Johannes is home from work, trading one thing or another, he is usually locked away with one of his faithful dogs rather than joining her. Eventually, we get the feeling that Marin, who is far from shy, has words with him and one day, Johannes returns from work with a doll’s house. A toy, Nella feels, to occupy her and fill her days, decorating and furnishing as she wishes.

Nella tries to probe into the life of her new family, find out more about her husband, about how she can become a real part of his life but Marin, although seemingly kind in parts, has a cold exterior that continually pushes Nella away. Nella’s only friend becomes Cornelia, their maid, but even then, it feels like a lonely existence for Nella.

Deciding to solicit the help of a miniaturist for her replica house, Nella decides to make the best of what she has. After all, she does need something to distract her from her absentee husband and impending boredom. But when her first collection of miniatures arrive, there are a few more items than requested, all eerily identical to items that live in her house, including two miniature models of their dogs. Unsettled, Nella writes to the miniaturist but unrequested items continue to come. Each time they unsettle Nella more and more and become wicked premonitions of what is to come, yet remain overlooked by Nella until the event happens.

There were more twists and turns in this book than I ever imagined. The secrets that lie within the Brandt household could never be guessed from the outset, each one more shocking than the last. Each of the five parts of the book is given a date, so we get an idea of the timescale of events, and each of the first four parts contain not quite cliffhangers, but shocking endings nonetheless.

It’s hard to leave a full review of a book with numerous twists and turns without giving away spoilers, but what I will say is that this book hung over me last night like a thrilling cloak of mystery. I couldn’t get it or the house and characters out of my head, feeling like I had become a part of their story, invested in what happened to them all. I finished the rest of it this afternoon and although I did indeed love it, my only complaint was that Nella never got to meet the miniaturist. I feel like we missed out on a piece of a puzzle here, on who this woman was and how she did the things she did. Aside from that, and the fact I had to concentrate at first with the bits of Dutch thrown in (which is understandable given the setting) if you enjoy a book that will pull you in and feed you nuggets of wonderfully twisted information bit by bit, a book that is hauntingly addictive and gives you characters that you can both feel empathy for yet question their actions at the same time, move this beauty up your TBR list. Or add it if you haven’t already.

4 STARS

Buy it now:

Amazon UK / US

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