Review: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

IMG_20190405_181509_633.jpg
The Flatshare
by Beth O’Leary

I absolutely adored this book, so much so that the second I finished it I wanted to flip right back to the start and read it again. I laughed (a lot) and I cried (a little) but mostly this book just made me so happy.


THE BLURB

Tiffy Moore and Leon Twomey each have a problem and need a quick fix.

Tiffy’s been dumped by her cheating boyfriend and urgently needs a new flat. But earning minimum wage at a quirky publishing house means that her choices are limited in London.

Leon, a palliative care nurse, is more concerned with other people’s welfare than his own. Along with working night shifts looking after the terminally ill, his sole focus is on raising money to fight his brother’s unfair imprisonment.

Leon has a flat that he only uses 9 to 5. Tiffy works 9 to 5 and needs a place to sleep. The solution to their problems? To share a bed of course…

As Leon and Tiffy’s unusual arrangement becomes a reality, they start to connect through Post-It notes left for each other around the flat.

Can true love blossom even in the unlikeliest of situations?
Can true love blossom even if you never see one another?
Or does true love blossom when you are least expecting it?


MY REVIEW

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are very few books that make my re read pile but I think this is one that I’ll be dipping in and out of on a regular basis as the whole thing just made me so happy. As soon as I finished it (with a huge big smile on my face) I immediately wanted to go back to the start and experience it all over again.

It truly is a wonderful premise and one I will confess I didn’t fully appreciate when reading the blurb. I mean would you be willing to share a bed with a complete stranger (albeit at different times), I really don’t think I would, and it’s a mark of just how desperate to get out of her current situation Tiffy is that this seems like her best option.

I was kind of expecting this to be a light and fluffy rom com and while it is funny and sweet (and yes romantic), there’s a definite edge to it and it deals with some serious issues. Tiffy is trying to escape a seriously toxic relationship and Leon works in a hospice and is renting out his bed to raise the money he desperately needs to help his family. Romance is actually the last thing either of them wants and I really liked the way the relationship develops slowly, initially as a supportive friendship, giving them a chance to deal with everything else going on in their lives.

It’s actually a fair way into the book before Tiffy and Leon ever meet and or even speak to each other over the phone and I loved the fact that most of their communication was via the post-it notes they leave for each other. The whole getting to know one another through letters is one of my absolutely favourite romance tropes and the author does it so well. The notes were perfect and genuinely the highlight of the story for me, although I was desperate for them to finally meet, and a memorable meeting it is.

I absolutely loved both Tiffy and Leon and the relationship that grows between them was a joy to watch. Tiffy is probably about as far from me as it’s possible to get personality wise (she’s the arty, creative, outgoing and quirky type) but she’s such a generous and positive person that I found myself completely invested in her story. Leon is a little more reserved and introverted so much more difficult to get to know but beneath his hard shell there is truly a heart of gold and he really broke my heart at times.

The story is told from alternating pov’s and it’s very obvious whose chapter you’re reading as they each have very distinctive styles. Like their notes to each other Tiffy’s chapters are much more flowing and emotional while Leon’s are a lot more succinct and almost diary like. I will confess I found Tiffy’s chapters easier to read but I liked getting to know the characters this way.

As well as Tiffy and Leon there are quite a few secondary characters too and the author does a brilliant job of creating some very well rounded and unique ones. Every single one jumps off the page and feels completely real.

This was a really emotional read and I have to confess to both laughing out loud and also maybe shedding the odd tear but it truly is an uplifting read and one that I would recommend to everyone.

I used my Readers First points to claim a free copy of this book. This in no way influenced my review.

Review: I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

I Owe You One

Main character Fixie Farr may have frustrated me but I very much enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s latest rom com. It’s funny, it’s sweet and reminded my just why I love this author’s books so much.


THE BLURB

The irresistible new standalone from Sophie Kinsella is a story of love, empowerment and an IOU that changes everything . . .

Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course Fixie never intends to call in the favour.

That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time.

Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves.

Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants?


MY REVIEW

Do you ever get so frustrated with the characters in a book you want to reach in and give them a shake. That’s pretty much the way I felt while reading I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella. This may sound like a bad thing, and for a lot of people it probably is, but for me becoming that invested in a character is a very good sign and I very much enjoyed this story. I mean it’s written by Kinsella so you know it’s probably going to be fantastic but this is for me was one of her best. Yes it’s frustrating but it’s also funny and sweet and just a pleasure to sink into.

I absolutely adored the meet cute at the start where both main characters are in a cafe when disaster strikes and Fixie’s rescue of Seb’s laptop means he feels he owes her a favour. In fact I loved the whole central concept of them constantly helping each other out in an escalating series of IOUs. They’re very cute together and with the chemistry between them it’s obvious they’re perfect for each other, if only they’d realize it.

I may have been driven nuts by Fixie but that was only because she was too darn nice, and there was a lot I could relate to. Not the need to fix everything (I’m quite happy with mess and chaos) but more her inability to assert herself and her feeling of not being good enough. What’s frustrating though is that she’s usually right, she’s good at what she does and she has good ideas, she just won’t stand up and insist others listen. I was desperate for her to take a stand and speak her mind but instead she lets everyone else walk all over her. If you want to know whether she does take a stand I’m afraid you’ll need to read the book but what I will say is I loved how her character developed.

As for romantic interest Seb, I have to admit I didn’t have any particularly strong feelings about him. He also seems nice (most of the time), he’s funny and sweet but it never really felt like we saw too far below the surface. I did however love all of his interactions with Fixie, they’re super cute together and he’s pretty much the only one who builds her up. I did want them to get together so badly.

The secondary characters were also very well done and I loved what an eclectic mix they were. I particularly loved some of the customers in the family store. They may only have appeared briefly but they certainly left an impression.

So with all of this combined with Kinsella’s always wonderful writing you may be wondering why this doesn’t get a full five stars, there are a couple of reasons. Firstly I didn’t like that Seb wasn’t single and I’m afraid I don’t like when one couple becoming involved breaks up another regardless of how horrible the girlfriend is.

The second issue was Fixie’s family. I loved that family and the family business was such a big part of the story. I loved the way the relationship between the siblings was portrayed and I loved how it developed and shifted. What bothered me was her mother whose actions didn’t really match up with the way Fixie described her. She’s absent for the majority of the book and never seems to give Fixie much credit or even to particularly appreciate her.

I can feel a rant brewing so I’d better leave it there, particularly as it’s such a small part of what is a fantastic read. Despite an unusual concept the story is a little on the predictable side but I enjoyed it so much I couldn’t stop reading and devoured it in one sitting.

If you’re a fan of Kinsella or if you just like a good romcom I would most certainly recommend this.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me an advance copy of this book. This has in no way influenced my review.

 

Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
The Kiss Quotient
by Helen Hoang

Believe the hype, this is a wonderful story. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s very cute and more than a little steamy. I adored it.


THE BLURB

It’s high time for Stella Lane to settle down and find a husband – or so her mother tells her. This is no easy task for a wealthy, successful woman like Stella, who also happens to have Asperger’s. Analyzing data is easy; handling the awkwardness of one-on-one dates is hard. To overcome her lack of dating experience, Stella decides to hire a male escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend.

Faced with mounting bills, Michael decides to use his good looks and charm to make extra cash on the side. He has a very firm no repeat customer policy, but he’s tempted to bend that rule when Stella approaches him with an unconventional proposal.

The more time they spend together, the harder Michael falls for this disarming woman with a beautiful mind, and Stella discovers that love defies logic.


MY REVIEW

I am always a bit skeptical about books that seem to have a lot of hype around them, particularly when it’s a romance, but this really blew me away. It’s most definitely an “adult” romance (there are more than a few fairly explicit sex scenes and a lot of time talking about sex) but it’s sweet and funny and I really shipped Stella and Michael.

The story is essentially a gender switched Pretty Woman, with wealthy and attractive Stella hiring escort Michael to pretend to be her boyfriend. Needless to say what starts out as a fake relationship very quickly develops into real feelings but given Stella is paying Michael to be the perfect boyfriend and they come from very different worlds could it ever become something long term?

So far so tropey right? We’ve all read the fake relationship becomes real story a million times before but what makes this one unique is main character Stella and the reason she needs a fake boyfriend. Stella may be extremely good at her job, be wealthy and beautiful but she’s also autistic. She struggles with social interactions and physical intimacy so hires Michael initially to teach her how to get better at sex and later how to be in a relationship.

I absolutely loved the portrayal of Stella in this story. It’s an #ownvoices book as the author is autistic so it’s very sympathetically and sensitively done and Stella always comes across as completely believable. She’s just so socially awkward, honest and unsure of the right thing to say or do. It is funny at times but in quite a sweet/cute way rather than a nasty one. I have to admit that I related a lot to Stella, possibly too much, leading me to look into autism in women further. I suspect I will not be the only one to read this and recognise a lot of the traits in themselves so if nothing else this book will definitely raise awareness of what it turns out is an often missed condition.

I also have to say how much I loved Michael and how fantastic he is with Stella. He’s incredibly sweet and kind (new book boyfriend material for sure) and never pushes her for more than she can give. It would be all too easy for him to take advantage, something a lot of previous men seem to have done, but he never does and it feels like a genuinely equal relationship. That’s not to say it’s all sweet and innocent, there are plenty of steamy moments and as a couple they have a real spark. It’s clear from the very first moment that if they can each overcome their issues and insecurities they could be perfect together.

If I had one gripe about this book it would be those issues which felt like they were dragged out a little too long. They were built up into something they really weren’t and could have been resolved fairly easily without all of the drama, although like all good romances I suppose there had to be some roadblock to throw things off course just before the big finale.

The focus is very much on Michael and Stella but I should also mention how wonderful the secondary characters were too. I loved Michael’s family and the way the author used them to bring in a little of the Vietnamese culture, it really added something extra to the story. I would have maybe liked a few more nice people in Stella’s life but for the most part they do try, and really none of this story would have happened without her mother giving her a push.

This really is a fantastic read and even though I will admit it’s not perfect I enjoyed every second of reading it. I’m very excited to see what the author does next.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy of this book. This has in no way influenced my review.

Review: The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

The Christmas Sisters: The perfect feel-good and romantic read to curl up with this winter!

This may have be a Christmas themed read but with an engaging story about family relationships that’s packed full of emotion it can easily be read at any time of the year.


THE BLURB

It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree, but who’s around it that matters most.

All Suzanne McBride wants for Christmas is her three daughters happy and at home. But when sisters Posy, Hannah and Beth return to their family home in the Scottish Highlands, old tensions and buried secrets start bubbling to the surface.

Suzanne is determined to create the perfect family Christmas, but the McBrides must all face the past and address some home truths before they can celebrate together . . .


MY REVIEW

I always look forward to a new book from Sarah Morgan and that’s especially true when it’s one of her Christmas themed stories. Similar to her last book, The Christmas Sisters marks a departure from the authors usual romance heavy reads to focus a little more on family relationships. I will confess I do miss the more traditional romances (and Morgan is sooo good at writing them) but I did very much enjoy this and it’s packed full of feels to warm you up in the cold wintry months.

As the title suggests, this is the story of three sisters, Hannah, Beth and Posy, who return to the family home in the Scottish Highlands for the festive season. They are all very different characters but each of them are facing some type of crisis in their lives that they’re hoping a trip home will help them deal with (or hide from).

The story is told from each of the sister’s points of view in addition to that of their mother Suzanne. I have to confess I’m not keen on multiple povs as I always feel more drawn to one than the others and just want the whole thing to be about them but I did enjoy the different perspectives and how distinctive each of the voices were. They are very different characters but each has their own flaws and strengths and it was wonderful to see them develop in a believable way as the story progresses. It’s a mark of the author’s skill that I found my opinions towards them shifting and changing.

I did however find myself most drawn to Hannah’s story and while the other characters do get an equal share of the limelight I never quite became as invested in their stories. I’m not sure what it says about me but there was just something about Hannah I could really relate to and I wanted the book’s focus to be more heavily on her.

It wouldn’t be a Morgan book without a bit of romance and in this one there are a few romantic relationships all at different stages, from shiny new to a long term partnership and friendship. However with multiple couples as well as family relationships in the mix I’m afraid the romance side of the story never really did it for me and I didn’t feel any real spark.

The writing is however wonderful as you would expect and there is a real emotional depth to the story. I laughed and I cried (more than I thought I would and on two separate occasions on the train) and I ended up loving it a lot more than I thought I would.

Overall this has an engaging story and is an emotional read that’s perfect for the Christmas or pretty much any time of the year.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an advance copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley. This has in no way influenced my review.

Review: Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Love and Other Words
Love and Other Words
by Christina Lauren

This was a lot different from what I was expecting but I did kind of love it.


THE BLURB

Love, loss, friendship, and the betrayals of the past all collide in this first women’s fiction novel from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Autoboyography, Dating You / Hating You).

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.


MY REVIEW

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a little while to process this book but it really was kind of wonderful. Different to what I was expecting but somehow more.

Told in two separate time lines, one the present and the other 10-15 years earlier, it really drew me in to the lives of Macy and Elliot and the relationship between them. I absolutely adored watching them first become friends at the age of 11, seeing them grow up together and for that friendship to turn into something more. It’s just so sweet and real and perfect. Also, I have to say how much I loved the way the author portrayed the relationship between Macy and her father, the closeness and understanding between them was beautiful to read and I loved how much he tried as a single parent to do what was best for his daughter despite not really understanding her. He’s such a strong and reassuring presence.

The present day I wasn’t so sure about. I found it fascinating watching Elliot and Macy meet again 11 years later and I still adored Elliot but there was something about Macy I couldn’t get. It is deliberate, she’s shut down, unemotional and distant and it does work but makes it difficult to connect with her or understand her actions.

The story itself focuses primarily on their relationship and is a lot more serious than I was expecting but it does flow along quite nicely. The author gets the pacing pretty much spot on and the mixture of past and present is perfect. There is just enough revealed to give you an idea of what happened but still keep you guessing. It is an emotional read in places and I will admit to crying more than once (including in my workplace on one occasion) but it also made me smile and just sigh with the cuteness of it all.

It really is a wonderful story and I did come to really care about the characters. If you’re a fan of CoHo I think you’ll love this.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own

Review: The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

The Governess Game
The Governess Game
by Tessa Dare

The Governess Game is yet another brilliantly fun historic romance from Tessa Dare. I loved the little nods to one of my favorite classics (and a certain movie with an iceberg).


THE BLURB

He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart . . . without risking her own.

The infamous rake

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling . . . and he’s in danger of falling, hard


MY REVIEW

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really, really love Tessa Dare’s books and her latest is no exception. I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite, that honour goes to the first in this series, The Duchess Deal, but it does have all the things I love, a sweet but feisty heroine, a troubled hero, quite a few funny moments, a bit of drama and a lot of chemistry.

This time around there is a very Jane Eyre feel to the story as Alexandra Mountbatten, orphan making her own way in the world accepts a job as governess to the two wards of soon to be Duke and rake about town Chase Reynaud. She’s trying to make enough of a living to be independent and he’s looking to get the two wards he’s been landed with, who are not the best behaved, shipped off to school. Neither are really looking for a relationship but as you can probably guess sparks fly between them.

I really loved Alex as a character. She’s clever, caring, a little naive and wonderfully unconventional. She also doesn’t let her financial situation or the hardships of her past hold her back. She has no experience as a governess but seems to instinctively know how to help Rosamund and Daisy who it’s safe to say have some issues (doll Millicent dies of some horrific disease most days).

Chase, I have to admit, I had some reservations about initially. The rake thing doesn’t really do it for me, but as the story progressed he did grow on me. It’s also difficult to resist someone who’ll eulogize a doll so eloquently and hilariously (in case you can’t tell those doll funerals were a highlight of the story for me) and there are reasons for why he behaves as he does.

The biggest draw was however the relationship between Alex and Chase. There is some brilliant banter between them and some serious heat. I just loved how their relationship developed and changed. There aren’t many surprises (there’s no mad wife locked in the attic for example) but it’s an enjoyable journey.

If I had one criticism of this story it’s that there are certain elements that are becoming very familiar from Dare’s other books and it’s starting to feel a little formulaic (sorry). I suppose there is a limit on how unique they can be but if like me you’ve devoured a large number of them in a short space of time they start to all feel quite similar. Certain characters seem to keep popping up.

Despite this though I would really recommend to anyone who loves a historic romance. I should also add that while this is the second in a series it can easily be read as a standalone, although The Duchess Deal is brilliant so you should read it too.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. As always all views are my own.

Review: How To Keep A Secret by Sarah Morgan

How To Keep A Secret
How To Keep A Secret
by Sarah Morgan

This may be a little different from Morgan’s usual stories but it’s every bit as enjoyable and addictive.


THE BLURB

When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surprise

Lauren has the perfect life…if she ignores the fact it’s a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.

Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it’s… Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she’s determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.

Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?

Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha’s Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challege, the rewards could be infinite…

Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan’s brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.


MY REVIEW

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always look forward to a new Sarah Morgan book and while this was a bit of a departure from her usual style I very much enjoyed it.

Rather than being a romance focusing on one couple this is much more about family and tells the story of three generations of women, Nancy, her daughters Lauren and Jenna and Lauren’s daughter Mack. Each of them facing a crisis and in need of the support of their family, if they can find their way back to each other and reveal the secrets that have kept them apart.

While this is a little bit different from Morgan’s typical books it does feel like a natural progression and hangs on to all of the things I love about her writing. Her romances always had a little bit more depth, dealt with difficult issues and had strong friendships and family relationships. This is just a little lighter on the romance and a little heavier on the family relationships, what brings them together and what pulls them apart.

That’s not to say there’s no romance in this story because there most definitely is and as you would expect from a Morgan story it is wonderful. Sweet, funny, emotional and with quite a bit of heat. What’s particularly good about it is the way that the author looks at the different types of relationships and romances. We have Nancy who’s in her 60’s, 5 years a widow and trying to deal with betrayal and move forward in her life, 35 year old Lauren whose seemingly perfect life with her husband and daughter falls apart forcing her to return home as a single parent where she runs into an old flame, first grade teacher Jenna who’s very happily married to her childhood sweetheart but desperately wants children of her own and 16 year old Mack who’s having a hard time at school, doesn’t know who she is and just wants to fit in.

I really loved the way all of the different relationships within this story were portrayed and how realistic both they and the characters felt. I have to admit I had a particular soft spot for Lauren but by the end of the novel I think I came to love them all even Nancy who initially seemed very self centered and cold.

It was good to have chapters from the point of view of each of the women in the story. They each had very distinctive voices and you could tell even without the chapter headings whose head you were in. It made them very real and I have to say the chapters from Mack’s perspective in particular were very well done. I can’t really remember what it was like to be a teenager but I think the author captured it so well.

The story is a little bit on the predictable side, the secrets are pretty easy to guess, but I still enjoyed reading it. In fact as always I found it an incredibly addictive read and ended up finishing the whole thing in a day, although this is normal for me with Morgan’s books. They’re just too likable and easy to read.

Overall therefore while this is a little different from Morgan’s usual style I very much enjoyed it and I will be hoping for more of the same.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all thoughts are my own.

Review: The Last Romeo by Justin Myers

The Last Romeo by Justin MyersThe Last Romeo by Justin Myers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wonderful writing and a scarily accurate portrayal of the dating scene make this a very readable and addictive story. It left me with very mixed feelings but that can only be a good thing can’t it?


THE BLURB

James is 34 and fed up. His six-year relationship with Adam has imploded, he hates his job making up celebrity gossip, and his best friend Bella has just announced she’s moving to Russia.

Adrift and single in loved-up London, James needs to break out of his lonely, drunken comfort zone. Encouraged by Bella, he throws himself headlong into online dating, blogging each encounter anonymously as the mysterious Romeo.

After meeting a succession of hot/weird/gross men, James has fans and the validation he’s always craved. But when his wild night with a closeted Olympian goes viral and sends his Twitter-fame through the roof, James realises maybe, in the search for happy-ever-after, some things are better left un-shared. Seriously, wherefore art thou Romeo . . .


MY REVIEW

When I finished this, very early one Saturday morning, I felt so mixed up about it. Did I enjoy it? I’m honestly not sure. I think it was so completely different from what I was expecting it confused me.

There is certainly a lot to really like about it. The writing is excellent and there’s a lot more depth and realness to it than I was expecting. It’s wonderful to finally come across a book with a gay main character who’s looking for love that gives such an accurate portrayal of the dating scene.

As a main character, James (or Jim) is very genuine. He’s far from perfect, he’s insecure, doesn’t seem to really like or value himself but he is someone I’d want as a friend and there was so much I could relate to. I didn’t particularly agree with everything he did (a lot frustrated or worried me) but I could certainly understand it. Similarly his experience of dating, while uncomfortable and awkward a lot of the time was very believable and true to life.

I really loved the other characters and the way the relationships between them were portrayed. I think the author really captured modern friendships and how your circle of friends can become in fact your family. I also loved the commentary on celebrity and social media and found it so relevant. Myers has a very successful blog (I hadn’t read it before picking up the book but have now and it’s brilliant) and works as a freelance writer and columnist for several major publications so his knowledge and experiences really shine through.

Unfortunately however I think it was the realness and the depth that stopped me from loving this. For some reason I was expecting a bit of a light and fluffy romance and the fact that it was so completely not this threw me off. It has some funny moments but at times it goes a little bit dark making it more uncomfortable rather than enjoyable to read.

Overall, I’m not sure my feelings on this will ever be clear. The more I think about it the more I think yes that bit was brilliant or I’m really not sure I liked that bit. It definitely challenged me so I think I’ll just suggest that you read this for yourself and make your own mind up.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
They Both Die at the End
by Adam Silvera

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unsurprisingly this was an emotional read but what impressed me the most was the incredible detail that went into the world building. I loved how this made me think and how when I finished I wanted to rush out and live my life. Absolutely brilliant.


THE BLURB

When Mateo receives the dreaded call from Death-Cast, informing him that today will be his last, he doesn’t know where to begin. Quiet and shy, Mateo is devastated at the thought of leaving behind his hospitalised father, and his best friend and her baby girl. But he knows that he has to make the most of this day, it’s his last chance to get out there and make an impression.

Rufus is busy beating up his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend when he gets the call. Having lost his entire family, Rufus is no stranger to Death-Cast. Not that it makes it any easier. With bridges to mend, the police searching for him and the angry new boyfriend on his tail, it’s time to run.

Isolated and scared, the boys reach out to each other, and what follows is a day of living life to the full. Though neither of them had expected that this would involve falling in love…

Another beautiful, heartbreaking and life-affirming book from the brilliant Adam Silvera, author of More Happy Than Not and History Is All You Left Me.


MY REVIEW

Do you know what, I’m not sure that title was wise. This is an absolutely brilliant book but honestly I spent pretty much the whole time afraid to get too attached to Mateo or Rufus just in case they did in fact both die at the end. I kept hoping it wouldn’t happen, that they would be the exception, there was a mix up with the names and they received the call in error or that just by finding each other they’d save each other but just in case I kept myself that little bit detached. Consequently I think it lost that emotional punch I was expecting. It is still packed full of feels and some very touching moments but I was ready for out and out devastation.

It is an incredibly well written story and I really loved both Mateo and Rufus. Both are a little bit lost in the beginning but it was so wonderful to watch them develop over the course of the story. Mateo was probably the more relatable of the two, anxious and afraid to live (or leave his bedroom) in case he does something that results in the dreaded death cast call informing him he has less than 24 hours to live, I could see elements of myself in him. Wanting to go on adventures and be brave but just too scared and needing that little push. He was also just the nicest and sweetest guy. I really wanted him getting the call to be a mistake. Rufus took a little longer to warm up to, he’s beating someone up at the story, but you can’t help but grow to love him when he helps Mateo so much and starts becoming more like him.

The relationship between them is just so sweet and funny and wow. They begin the day as complete strangers and opposites but somehow they compliment and bring out the best in each other. Rufus encourages Mateo to be brave and break out and Mateo makes Rufus kinder and better…. oh god I’m gonna cry.

Anyway, moving swiftly on, I just loved their story but what made this even better was the little glimpses into the lives of others who cross their paths. The chapters more or less alternate between Mateo and Rufus’s povs but there are these other chapters thrown in from the pov of their friends, the people who make the calls to inform people they’re going to die that day, and others who have either received their call or just bump into Rufus or Mateo in some way. These gave such an insight into the world and raised so many questions I found it fascinating.

Actually the whole world just fascinated me. What would it be like to live in a world where everyone finds out between midnight and 3am whether they’re going to die that day? What would you do if you found out it was your day to die? Would you deny it, try to fight it? Would you accept it and try to make your last hours count? Take control and decide for yourself how you’re going to die? Or what if you don’t get the call? Does that mean you can’t die no matter what you do that day? Would you take more risks? It really makes you wonder about fate, self fulfilling prophecies and whether you have any control over your destiny.

The world the author creates and the way he presents all of these issues and questions was just brilliant. Such clever writing to create a world that’s so similar but so different in terms of attitudes to life and death. I think this is a story I’ll be thinking about for a long time.

Overall an absolutely brilliant but emotional read.

Review: Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan

Hold Back The Stars by Katie Khan
Hold Back The Stars
by Katie Khan

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

More of a love story than a space adventure, this story may not be for everyone but I have to praise it for being so completely unique and yet so completely real.


THE BLURB

Ninety minutes.

A few years from now, not too far in the future, two people meet.

It is a classic story of boy meets girl.

Except that it’s not.

When we find them, they have an hour and a half left.

Unless they can save themselves, they won’t survive.

The clock is ticking.


MY REVIEW

It seems to have taken me forever to come up with a review for this as my thoughts on it have been and, a few weeks later, remain rather muddled.

Firstly I want to say that I absolutely loved it for its originality. In fact, I was so drawn to the concept behind it that I somehow ended up both buying a copy and requesting it from NetGalley (I forgot I already owned it). There was something about the idea of a man and woman adrift in space with only 90 minutes of air left and almost no hope of salvation that really appealed to me. Space has always seemed so big and terrifying to me and the thought of being adrift…. wow.

However, if you’re expecting a tense and nail biting fight for survival similar to Gravity or The Martian I fear you will be disappointed. While there is some attempt to save themselves the majority of the story is spent with Max and Carys reflecting back on their relationship. Interspersed with the current time, and their rapidly diminishing air supply, we get flashbacks to their first meeting and all of the ups and downs of their romance, leading up to how they ended up in their current predicament.

The story of their time together does make for a fascinating story and combining that with some truly incredible world building really did engage me but given how little air they had remaining I couldn’t help but think, shouldn’t you be trying harder and focusing more on that?

I felt there should have been more tension. The portrayal of their relationship is wonderfully real and the story is truly heartbreaking at times but I found it difficult to reconcile this leisurely stroll through their past with the thought of their rapidly approaching deaths.

Added to this I have to admit that I didn’t particularly take to either Max or Carys. The characters are believable and well rounded but Carys was too insecure and needy and Max too committed to his beliefs and unwilling to compromise. They do balance each other out in many ways but I never really got behind them as a couple and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was worth it (although maybe I’m just too much of a cynic).

The biggest highlight of this story for me was probably the world the author created. Set in the future it’s so incredibly well thought out and believable. There’s no info dumping but rather all of the details around the state of the world, the political situation and belief systems are revealed gradually and in a very natural way. I liked this idea that their are no real nationalities or religion but rather everyone is encouraged to be an individual, although it did seem a tad lonely and a selfish way of existing.

The pacing of the story is a little bit on the slow side but the writing does make it very readable and it was yet another I found difficult to put down. The ending when it comes is like a lot of the book, a little confusing, a lot unique but ultimately felt right.

Overall I have to say I loved how unusual this book was and also how real it was. I just wish there had been a little more tension and passion to it. If you’re looking for a sci fi space type story I don’t think this will necessarily be for you but if you like unique love stories this may be perfect. I know I will definitely be looking out for more from this author.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.