The Secrets We Keep by Jonathan Harvey #BookReview

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Told from the point of view of four family members, The Secrets We Keep, by Coronation Street scriptwriter Jonathan Harvey, is a funny and poignant story.

It’s hard being that woman, the one whose husband disappeared. It’s made me quite famous. I just wish it was for something else.

He went out five years ago for a pint of milk and never came back. So here I am with a daughter who blames me for all that’s wrong in the world, a son trying his best to pick up the pieces and a gaggle of new neighbours who are over friendly, and incredibly nosy.

Then I find a left luggage ticket in the pocket of one of his old coats and suddenly I’m thinking . . . What if he’s not dead? What if he’s still out there somewhere?

You think you have the perfect life, the perfect kids, and then it’s all turned inside out. What if I don’t like what I find? And is it a chance I’m willing to take?

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star three and a half

The Secrets We Keep is a character-driven story and is told through the voices of all four members of the Bioletti family. At the start of the novel Danny is standing on the cliff and it’s a long time waiting before I found out if he really killed himself and why. Why would he do this to his wife and children? This novel focuses on much more than on the missing person of this family though.

16 year old daughter Cally is dreaming of becoming a famous model and wants to take her first steps in the business after being discovered by a scout, even though her mother Natalie wants her to focus on getting a degree first. She’s headstrong though and she will fight for her dream to come true. Her gay older brother Owen is in a relationship with Matty and he struggles with his relationship. Cally often gave jibes to her brother about his being gay but I know she never meant it in a derogatory manner, she was just this cheeky teen. It was totally cool as far as I’m concerned.

Don’t let the luggage ticket fool you, it is this discovery that makes Natalie spring into action but I never actually found out what was in the luggage or why he left both luggage and ticket behind. It is only a means to crack the story open and while Natalie is finding out her husband Danny kept some things from her the author dives into Danny’s past. Danny recounts his life from the time he was a young boy and this section of the novel was the most compelling for me. His teenage life was very hard, he even slept on the streets before meeting Natalie and I felt for him in these sections. It also felt like he loved her the minute he saw her so it was a big mystery to me why he would walk out on his family.

I sort of received an answer in the end why he did what he did but it didn’t entirely satisfy me. The sympathy he had built up was slowly evaporating. He could have gotten a divorce surely if he wanted an escape. Then at least his wife and kids would have had closure and known what had happened to him.

The last 20 pages or so also felt a little rushed and it wasn’t wrapped up like I would have wanted it. Owen receives an important visit for example but you don’t know how that unfolds anymore. The lingering feeling after I finished reading remains that Danny is quite egoistic and thinks only of himself which is a bit disappointing after all.

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

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Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll #BookReview

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Her perfect life is a perfect lie . . . Ani FaNelli is the woman who has it all: the glamorous job, the designer wardrobe, the handsome and rich fiancé. But behind her sharp edges and meticulously crafted facade lies the darkest of pasts . . .

When a documentary producer invites Ani to tell her side of the chilling and violent incident that took place when she was a teenager at the prestigious Bradley school, she hopes it will be an opportunity to prove how far she’s turned her life around since then. She’ll even let the production company film her lavish wedding, the final step in her transformation.

But as the wedding and filming converge, Ani’s past threatens to come back and haunt her. And as her immaculate veneer starts to crack, she is forced to question: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for – or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

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star three and a half

Another title from my backlist that I picked up now because Reese Witherspoon saw something in it and it’s now a major Netflix film starring Mila Kunis. I really wanted to read the novel before watching the movie, but in all honesty I originally bought it years ago because of  the cover love!

Ani (pronounced Ah-nee, not Annie cos that’s too pedestrian for her) is introduced as a shallow and rather nasty character. Obsessed with looks and wealth she’s on the verge of marrying a rich guy, for status rather than love as it seems. It’s hard to like her and I wondered if there was anything that would make me actually interested in getting to know this person better.

There was, lovely reader, there was. The past chapters took me back to her start at The Bradley School, a private school full of snobs and rich kids where she tries to blend in. In order to do that she has to reinvent herself. This desire of hers to be one of them coupled to several events that happened to her in her first year make her the troubled woman she is in the present. It helped to understand and make some allowances for the way she thinks although it didn’t mean she turned my feelings around completely.

The novel gets more compelling with the start of the incident at the school and everything that ensues with the documentary so many years later. At least I felt her emotions while she went through this. There’s another monumental event prior to this that shaped her but the emotions I was expecting to read about were not there. In fact this part was written in quite a detached manner and in the aftermath there’s not much pondering about what happened. She simply pretends nothing happened and she continues being friends with people who are definitely not worth being called friends, but her whole adult life is a testimony that it really did change her. I certainly felt for her but the Ani of the past could have touched me much more deeply if the author had given me her emotions.

Luckiest Girl Alive is a novel about bad things happening to you and coming out the other way. You might seem okay but are you really? The novel involves bullying, abuse and violence when you least expect it. This is definitely a book with trigger warnings.

This novel is compared to Gone Girl but there is no Gone Girl twist so don’t go in expecting a similar experience as Ani is only a woman coping with her past.

* I watched the movie now as well and I had a different experience from reading it. The build up in the novel was much longer with a very cold and snobbish Ani, whereas the movie made me feel more compassion and comprehension for Ani. I’m still not saying she’s the warmest person in the room but I felt they at least shaved off some of it. In the movie it also becomes much sooner clear what the events were, I didn’t have have to wonder repeatedly what had happened in her past (of course I already knew but I still felt the lead up wasn’t so long and mysterious). Then again the scenes about Ben and Arthur in the book had more of an impact on me and at least her friendship with Arthur received more attention, but all in all they stayed quite close to the original and I think it is definitely worth watching.

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

Reasons To Go Outside by Esme King #BookReview

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Pearl Winter hasn’t been outside in forty-three years.

Since she arrived on Dartmoor as a girl, an isolated family cottage has been her whole world. A place of safety. But now fifty-nine-year-old Pearl is utterly alone – except for the postman, the local crows, and memories of the summer of 1976.

Teenager Connor Matthews feels like a stranger in his own home.

Since his mother’s death he’s been adrift from his remaining family, troubled by the reality of moving on, and unable to see a future ahead. But when Connor begins a summer job as Pearl’s gardener, an unexpected friendship opens the door to a fresh start for them both. If only Pearl and Connor can take the first steps . . .

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I received an invitation to read this novel so that’s how it got on my radar but I was doing just fine reading my backlist so I declined the offer. It didn’t let me go however and I kept thinking about it because the main character’s agoraphobia intrigued me, so I ended up buying an ecopy anyway.

The novel starts in August 1976 with 16 year old Pearl, her mother Lana and stepfather Ray in a car, arriving at their new home Highview. Pearl then already struggles to get from the car to the front door, she knows she won’t step a foot outside after their arrival and unbelievably so, her resolution becomes true.

Jumping to the present, Pearl is 60 years old. She spends her days cleaning, reading, feeding the crows from a distance, and as for exercise she walks the stairs up and down. But her parents have passed away and now the garden really needs tending. 18 year-old Connor answers her ad because he loves the outdoors and gardening and soon enough he comes inside and she feeds him cake, they start talking and even with the major age gap a warm friendship starts to develop between them. Sometimes all you need is for someone not to judge right? In other chapters there’s Nate who was made redundant at the insurance company after 30 years of loyalty. He finds himself making new friends too at the Happy Tails Rescue Centre, with the four-legged ones and others.

I loved how Pearl and Nate’s characters grew and found happiness, they each have a set of wonderful side characters. Unfortunately it doesn’t change Pearl into going outside or Nate from wanting to be on his own. In flashbacks I learned how Pearl and Nate knew each other quite well when they were teenagers. It was a mystery why they hadn’t stayed in touch because they still think about each other after all this time and there’s a longing that is quite endearing. You have to imagine though that times were different when she left, the means to stay in touch were not the same as nowadays, there was no mobile phone or internet, and it’s not that her parents didn’t seek help for Pearl’s conditions but the professional help back then was not at all what it would be today, so she didn’t get the help she needed basically.

I believed Nate would be the one to get her to go outside again, if only they could find each other again. But I was surprised that it is someone else who for the very first time gives her an incentive to want to venture outside. I’m not telling more but there is definitely a nasty turn of events that ultimately has a positive effect too. I also finally received an answer to the question I had been asking myself from the start, which is what had happened that made her this way. It all made sense suddenly and it made me feel quite sad for Pearl so there’s definitely not only happy but also some sad moments to be found in this novel.

Summing this novel up I’d say it’s a heart-warming and uplifting novel of friendship and love!

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

Summer at the Cornish Café by Phillipa Ashley #BookReview

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Demi doesn’t expect her summer in Cornwall to hold anything out of the ordinary. As a waitress, working all hours to make ends meet, washing dishes and serving ice creams seems to be as exciting as the holiday season is about to get.

That’s until she meets Cal Penwith. An outsider, like herself, Cal is persuaded to let Demi help him renovate his holiday resort, Kilhallon Park. Set above an idyllic Cornish cove, the once popular destination for tourists has now gone to rack and ruin. During the course of the Cornish summer, Demi makes new friends – and foes – as she helps the dashing and often infuriating Cal in his quest. Working side by side, the pair grow close, but Cal has complications in his past which make Demi wonder if he could ever truly be interested in her.

Demi realises that she has finally found a place she can call home. But as the summer draws to a close, and Demi’s own reputation as an up and coming café owner starts to spread, she is faced with a tough decision . . .

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I hate to say this but after reading a few really great romance novels this one felt a bit meh. Personally I felt that the love story lacked some real romance.

Demi and her dog Mitch are out of a job thanks to the town’s villain Mawghan and they’re sleeping rough until her one and only friend tells her that Cal Penwith is looking for hired help with restoring the holiday cottages at Kilhallon Park. She gets the job and while they’re working hard side by side Demi starts to fall for this moody handsome man. He’s still visiting his ex-girlfriend a lot though, even though she’s engaged now, so Demi comes to the conclusion that she needs to tamp down her feelings for him even if that’s easier said than done.

Summer At The Cornish Café was a nice read about big dreams with a bit of will they/won’t they get together but there was no real tension or attraction building between them. I felt it was mainly a one-sided thing from Demi‘s side. Saying that Cal is an enigma is almost an understatement. There’s really no telling what was going on in his head or what he was feeling (almost like a real dude so points for being realistic but also very frustrating at times). He’s also keeping the past three years he spent abroad under lock and key and it’s clear that something traumatized him but unfortunately I never found out what it was. It was only after I finished the novel that I discovered this was the first one of a trilogy so that will probably play its part in the sequel. Unfortunately Cal didn’t really grow on me and I didn’t see his appeal because I simply never really got to know him. I think I prefer the dog Mitch (I still don’t know what breed he is though) who is a lovely steady presence in the novel too over him.

I enjoyed reading about the restoration and the lovely Cornish setting but as you might already suspect, I won’t be continuing with this series.

I received a free paperback copy of this novel in a giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker #BookReview

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Twenty-eight-year-old Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a bottle of Xanax and a handle of vodka, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers secrets in the childhood lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man who Celine herself claimed would be her ruin.

On the hunt for answers that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life-and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.

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I’ll be honest, I certainly did not choose this novel for its cover, but I have already read 3 other books by this author (you can read my review of the last one Until it Fades on the blog in 2017, the others pre-date my blog) so I was able to look past first looks and decided it was time for another read by this author.

The prologue alone had me hooked as Maggie finds herself quite ‘trapped’ and I immediately wanted to know why and who, what was going to happen to her and what led up to this. But before any answers are given the story loops back to the start where Maggie arrives in New York to clear her friend Celine’s room after her death.

Maggie and Celine were best friends, or so Maggie thought. After Celine’s death she finds a photo of a man who’s lying in bed almost naked. At the back of the photo her friend wrote “he will be my ruin”. Maggie wonders who he is and why Celine never told her of him. Was he her boyfriend? Even nosy neighbour Ruby (she’s an 81 year-old writer) who sees and hears everything knew nothing about him. As Maggie dives deeper into her friend’s life she is shocked to find out there’s a lot she didn’t know about Celine’s life. I loved the fact that Celine was into collecting antiques and I never thought I could feel so interested in this but the side-story of a theft that Maggie was looking into really only added to the intrigue.

In this murder mystery Maggie encounters two very good-looking men so there are some sexy times in this novel and the thought alone that she might just be making out with a killer was quite unsettling. Maggie is at least convinced that her friend didn’t want to kill herself. Initially I was looking in the opposite direction from where Maggie was looking – I thought it was kind of obvious even – but then the author pointed subtly to ‘my suspect n°1’ so I had to shift my opinion again, and again. I enjoyed how she kept me on my toes and while the suspect pool is very limited I couldn’t decide nor anticipate the ending.

The side characters were great to get to know and they all help to reveal the truth, from Hans the gay antique expert who helped Céline with her collection, Ruby the neighbour who bakes the best shortbread, detective Doug and hacker Zac. In addition there’s also worth mentioning Grady the sexy super of the building and Jace, the rich man who has all women lying at his feet.

He Will Be My Ruin was a decent mystery that kept my attention throughout and even when you find out who’s behind the wheel, the suspense is not over yet. She kept me hooked until the last page!

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood #BookReview

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People aren’t sure what to make of Susan Green. Family and colleagues find her prickly and hard to understand – but Susan makes perfect sense to herself. Age 45, she thinks her life is perfect. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a steady job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits.

Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control. And things can only get worse … at least in Susan’s eyes.

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A warning, there’s an unpopular opinion ahead so if you only want to read positive reviews you might want to skip this one.

I picked this novel because I read it’s similar in style to Eleonar Oliphant is Completely Fine (loved it!) and Meredith, Alone (waiting for my copy) and I also heard they’re adapting the novel into a Netflix series with Reese Witherspoon.

Well what can I say, those are hours I can’t get back. I wanted to read this novel as fast as I could, not because I loved it but because I wanted to get to the end of it. I couldn’t get on with Susan at all. I did want to find out if see was capable of loving someone and making friends but I didn’t hold out much hope to be honest. See Susan comments on everything and everyone ALL of the time, she’s spiteful and self-centered, jealous of her brother who received more attention and love from their mother than she had. There are a few people who try to engage with Susan, his brother’s friend Rob, her cousins, her upstairs neighbour Kate who’s a single mum and just looking for a friend but Susan’t not very interested in anyone. This changes thanks to their continued efforts towards the end but it’s quite a slow process. No the one thing that she invests herself in is finding a way to make her brother Edward move out of their mother’s house. It’s her mission and she’ll take it to court if she has to.

Believe it or not but Susan did manage to find a guy (Richard) to hook up with, on her terms of course and finds herself pregnant. She doesn’t want to lose her independence so she shuts the door on him too (in a text no less) after 12 years of Wednesday evenings spent in each other’s company. Why she wanted to keep the child is beyond me and I already felt for this unborn child. She’s not excited at all about the pregnancy and it doesn’t really occupy her thoughts, she doesn’t think about baby names, she isn’t into nesting, so I wanted to see how this would go. I’m happy the novel didn’t take me so far to see how she would exactly raise this child, and how she would cope with the noise and the mess. She did babysit once rather reluctantly when her neighbour had to rush to the hospital but I can’t say the scene warmed my heart and made me feel optimistic about her motherhood.

Towards the end she mellows a little bit and is slightly more open to other people which was of course what I wanted to see but the damage was done, she couldn’t atone enough for all the negativity I had to live through. The plotline involving her trying to get her brother out suddenly gets a spin to it with a twist that makes perfect sense and I hadn’t seen coming. The ending turns out quite positive for everyone involved but I can’t shake the negative atmosphere all through the novel. I thought she was cruel and unfair so many times and I rooted for Edward to win actually most of all. You’ll have to read this novel if you want to know the outcome of the disputed will!

I bought an ecopy of this novel and this is my honest opinion.

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord #BookReview

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When it all falls apart, who can you believe in?

Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.

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I bought a copy of The Names They Gave Us in 2017. The cover sparkles so beautifully in the sunlight so that’s one of the reasons why I couldn’t resist, as well as for the glowing reviews I read at the time. But as the story goes so often, I lost sight of it until I recently held it in my hands again when I was looking for something emotional and charming to read.

After reading a few pages I did wonder if I would be able to fully enjoy this novel because I discovered right away that Lucy, the main character, is the daughter of a pastor and a very religious girl. She takes her faith pretty serious and at the start of the novel she’s struggling a bit with it after she finds out her mother is diagnosed with cancer for a second time. I don’t have anything against her faith but I was a bit afraid that I wouldn’t be able to build a connection with her. I needn’t have worried because Lucy was easy to sympathise with after all and the religious context doesn’t take over the story. As the novel progresses she becomes a lot more worldly and in the end her belief is integrated into a message of a more general nature.

Upon her mother’s request Lucy’s not going to church camp with her parents like she does every year but she’s filling in for someone at the Daybreak Camp on the other side of the lake. In Lucy’s opinion that is a ‘hippie camp’ but she can’t possibly say no to her mother when she’s just been diagnosed with cancer.

If there’s one thing I can say is that her stay at Daybreak Camp is a real eye-opener for this girl who lived such a sheltered life. This is a camp for troubled teens (where Lucy is responsible for a bunch of 8 and 9 year olds) but the camp leaders also come with their own baggage. This novel tackled several difficult topics, with loss and identity just to name some, but it never felt too heavy on me and there were lots of beautiful and fun moments too. It’s really not a sad book! The attraction to Henry was cute as well but I wouldn’t call this a romance novel, the focus fell more on the development of Lucy’s friendships and it definitely shows in the end how important they’ve all become for her.

‘What is a group of friends? A relief, a scaffolding, a safety net,…’

The camp and the people in it changed Lucy and she grew tons in this transformative novel. The Names They Gave Us refers to the labels the kids in Daybreak Camp get – even from Lucy before she arrived – but they are not just a group anymore, they are individuals and their personalities and voices touch Lucy and touched me as a reader as well. This novel holds a torch for more acceptance and understanding and delivers the message perfectly, without it being too much of a lesson but simply by showing some wonderful people and how they deal with things that life threw at them.

I enjoyed this novel more than I expected when I first started it so absolutely don’t let the religious background scare you off to read this one! I had a warm feeling when I finished reading it.

I bought a paperback copy of this novel at a local bookstore. This is my honest opinion.

Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior #BookReview

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Sometimes it takes a chance encounter to discover what happiness really is . . .

Meet Dan: Dan needs peace and order. He likes perfectly triangular sandwiches, the way coffee smells of sunshine and harvest, and the sound of birdsong that drifts into his harp-making workshop on Exmoor. His life is quiet, predictable, and safe from any danger of surprises.

Meet Ellie: Ellie is a dreamer. But recently Ellie has stopped dreaming and her world has become very small. Her days are spent keeping a perfect home for her husband, Clive, and trying to keep him happy.

When Ellie stumbles across Dan’s workshop, they cannot imagine that their lives are about to change forever…

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Ellie and the Harpmaker was Hazel Prior’s first book, published in 2019. I don’t remember reviews of this debut or it’s possible I missed them because I didn’t pay attention at the time but it’s such a beautiful, heart-warming story so Ellie and Dan’s story definitely deserve to be on the reader’s radar. Maybe you might know this author’s other books published a year later – Away With The Penguins and How The Penguins saved Veronica – better so if that’s the case I can recommend you to add this one from the backlist.

Apart from the cover it was especially Dan’s character that I felt intrigued with. I have a soft spot for the introverts and especially for characters who love peace and quiet and lots of routine. I guess I love to read about characters that I would want to be – confident detectives with super sleuthing skills – as much as characters that I can identity with at some level.

Dan isn’t exactly like me though, it’s never named in this novel or given special attention, the author doesn’t make a thing out of it, but in my mind he has the personality traits of a person with autism, he takes things literally, he can’t very well read people either but his child-like honesty and trust in people makes him a very sweet guy. Ellie is married to Clive but as soon as her husband’s introduced into the story everything about him screams dominant and commandeering. While living with someone as lovely as Clive, Ellie finds her escapism at The Harp Barn. She learns to play the harp there while Dan is at work making new instruments. She’s ticking this dream from her bucket list and along the way she discovers she can really be herself around Dan. Ellie is sensitive to who Dan is and how he functions and it was endearing to see how they develop a friendship even when having a friend isn’t evident for either of them. How long can she hold off keeping this from Clive though and how will he react when he learns she hasn’t been spending time with her supposedly injured friend Christina but with another man instead?

The novel certainly had a fair dose of drama and turbulence but many enjoyable and fun moments too. I like it when characters own a pet and I found it very original that there was a pheasant (Phineas) who came into Dan’s life and how well he was cared for. It was also a nice little extra to find out that I share the same last name with Ellie in this novel.

Ellie and the Harpmaker is such a charming and feel-good story about friendship and love and I can’t wait to read more uplifting books by this author.

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh #AudioBookReview

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I have held you every night for 10 years, and I didn’t even know your name. We have a child together. A dog, a house. Who are you?

Emma loves her husband, Leo, and their young daughter, Ruby: she’d do anything for them. But almost everything she’s told them about herself is a lie.

And she might just have got away with it, if it weren’t for her husband’s job. Leo is an obituary writer, and Emma is a well-known marine biologist, so when she suffers a serious illness, Leo copes by doing what he knows best – reading and writing about her life. But as he starts to unravel her past, he discovers the woman he loves doesn’t really exist. Even her name is fictitious.

When the very darkest moments of Emma’s past life finally emerge, she must somehow prove to Leo that she really is the woman he always thought she was….

But first, she must tell him about the love of her other life.

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star three and a half

The Love of My Life is a novel with plenty of surprising twists and turns. The beginning is a little slow but really hooked me once Leo discovers his wife told a lie and dives headlong into the unknown by reaching out to people he didn’t know of but she’s been in contact with. Who is Jeremy Rothchild and why is his wife Janice missing? What does Emma have to do with it? You’d think this is a story about cheating but maybe it’s something else, I’m not saying more, my lips are sealed. In any case it’s not Emma herself but Jeremy who informs Leo about Emma’s history, and flashbacks to a time when Emma came into their lives show what Emma went through when she was in her twenties. The heart of the story is tragic and it will probably tug at your heartstrings too in the scenes set in the past.

I enjoyed the story but I was hoping so hard for a re-do of The Man Who Didn’t Call, this great impossible love story between a man and a woman, and being so different it didn’t entirely live up to my expectations. I loved her first novel so much and while there is definitely love in this story too, and an impossible, yearning love even, the love between the couple of main characters, Leo and Emma, isn’t what I call epic. When I think of a romance novel this isn’t what I’m thinking of and for me this falls more under contemporary fiction, a family history, drama.

So, apart from this novel feeling as a different type from her debut novel, my enjoyment was also tempered by the narration. The story is told in his (Leo) and her (Emma) voices and Leo’s voice was pleasant enough to listen to, the male voice was measured and calm but the female narrator stressed every other word in a sentence and I like audiobooks with attention to intonation but this was too much for my liking. I didn’t enjoy the other voices she did either, she gave Leo in her parts in the beginning a very deep and slow voice but that wasn’t how the other narrator presented his character. Also her child’s voice for Ruby wasn’t a young voice that sounded innocently cute or angelic, but rather annoying. I know several blog friends who love listening to audiobooks narrated by Imogen Church so I think it’s just a personal thing for me and if you’re interested in this novel you should not refrain because of this.

I received a free digital copy of this audiobook from Macmillan UK Audio via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover #BookReview

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After serving five years in prison for a tragic mistake, Kenna Rowan returns to the town where it all went wrong, hoping to reunite with her four-year-old daughter. But the bridges Kenna burned are proving impossible to rebuild. Everyone in her daughter’s life is determined to shut Kenna out, no matter how hard she works to prove herself.

The only person who hasn’t closed the door on her completely is Ledger Ward, a local bar owner and one of the few remaining links to Kenna’s daughter. But if anyone were to discover how Ledger is slowly becoming an important part of Kenna’s life, both would risk losing the trust of everyone important to them.

The two form a connection despite the pressure surrounding them, but as their romance grows, so does the risk. Kenna must find a way to absolve the mistakes of her past in order to build a future out of hope and healing.

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5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

For those of you who don’t know Colleen Hoover’s books I’ll tell you what she writes about. She writes books about flawed people. She writes about real emotions, about grief, hope, pain, and she throws in a little romance too just to make things even more interesting (or complicated). She writes stories where you root for these flawed people and you feel those emotions with them. Do you know a lot of authors who can do that in every single novel? I can count them on my one hand to be honest.

Reminders of Him tells the story of Kenna who did something terrible in the past which made her go to prison for 5 years. She only tells what that is in the last part of the novel of course, once she has won all of the reader’s hearts over already with her personality and the remorse that is palpable from the start. The letters she is writing to Scotty still and how she includes him in her everyday thoughts made me believe that whatever it was, she does have her heart in the right place. People can make bad decisions but does that mean they’re a bad person? And if you figured out the answer to that one, there’s another question that is quite prominent in this novel: what does it take to forgive someone?

Ledger, the local bar owner is put in a very difficult position when he grows fond of Kenna. Taking her side, even hanging out with her publicly wouldn’t go down very well with the people around him though. These people know Kenna and have hated her for the past 5 years. He is torn between both sides and the push and pull between became very emotional. I didn’t ugly cry with this one but it was a close call. Colleen does what she does best, delivering a rollercoaster of emotions.

I bought a paperback copy of this book. This is, as always, my honest opinion.