Book Review · Books

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane [BOOK REVIEW]

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane [BOOK REVIEW]

I had the amazing opportunity to participate in another instagram readalong – this time reading the Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane with some amazing bookstagrammers. Huge thank you to the team at Tandem as well as the publisher, Harper Fiction, for sending me a copy of the book to read and review!

About The Book:

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane [BOOK REVIEW]


Publisher: Harper Fiction

Pages: 416

Format I read it in: Paperback

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

Eve, Justin, Susie, and Ed have been friends since they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, the four are as close as ever, Thursday night bar trivia is sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed. Maybe she should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed still thinks about it, too.

But then, in an instant, their lives are changed forever.

In the aftermath, Eve’s world is upended. As stunning secrets are revealed, she begins to wonder if she really knew her friends as well as she thought. And when someone from the past comes back into her life, Eve’s future veers in a surprising new direction…

They say every love story starts with a single moment. What if it was just last night?

My Thoughts:

You don’t know how much you miss a certain type of book until you start reading one and you feel the instant refreshment it brings. This happened to me with Last Night. This book is so much more than your typical rom-com novel. I wanted to read it because of the “best friends to lovers” possible scenario, and instead I got so much more, and I’m so glad I did! I felt like I was Eve’s shadow – feeling everything she feels. Friendships, relationships, grief, secrets and betrayals… A remarkable roller-coaster of a story that I wasn’t able to put down.

“I notice, once again, that company that’s not the right fit for you is so much lonelier than being happily alone.”

I loved Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed.

Their group was unique and very dear. The chemistry these characters have between each other, especially Eve and Susie is truly something remarkable, and quite rare in today’s world. I felt like we didn’t get enough of Justin, and I quite liked Ed, although I did judge him for his poor decision making skills. I loved Finlay, and I really enjoyed getting to know him slowly throughout the book.

“Incredible how one revelatory discovery can completely change your perception of someone.”

Last Night is also one of those books where it’s so hard to write a review without spoiling anything, as the big bombshell happens quite early in the book. So I’ll just say this – I loved the ending and I feel like everyone got what they deserved! Last Night is the first book I’ve read by Mhairi Mcfarlane, and (said with the voice of Michael Bisping) “believe you me”, I’ll be definitely reading more. And while I’m checking out the rest of Mhairi’s books, you go ahead and check this one out. 🙂

A truly incredible story, a very emotional journey that will leave a mark in your life. A lesson on how to cope with grief, how to stop wasting energy on people that don’t deserve you, and how to start loving again and accept love back. And most importantly, a lesson that sometimes, it’s okay to be rude!

“I ponder how many mistakes in life are born of a simple fear of being rude.”

Rating:

★★★★

About The Author:

Mhairi was born in Falkirk, Scotland in 1976. She went to school in Nottingham, studied English Literature at Manchester University and then returned to Nottingham to delight its citizens with her journalism. Her debut novel, the romantic comedy You Had Me At Hello, was an instant hit upon being published in December 2012. It’s since become HarperCollins’ best selling ebook to date, has been translated into 16 languages and is being developed as a major feature film, with Mhairi writing the screenplay. The follow up, Here’s Looking At You, was published in December 2013 and made the Sunday Times Bestseller list.

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Book Review · Books

The Country Village Christmas Show by Cathy Lake [BOOK REVIEW]

The Country Village Christmas Show by Cathy Lake [BOOK REVIEW]

I don’t usually read Christmas books when it’s not winter time. Purely because I want to feel the magic of Christmas, and that’s hard to do when there’s sunshine outside. When the team at tandem advised me that the audiobook for The Country Village Christmas Show is available for this title, I decided to give it a show anyways.

About The Book:

The Country Village Christmas Show by Cathy Lake [BOOK REVIEW]


Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

Pages: 400

Format I read it in: Audiobook

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK 

Synopsis:

Recently divorced, the family home sold and her son all grown-up, Clare is at a crossroads. She’s dedicated her whole adult life to her family, and now it’s time she did something for herself.

In the lead up to Christmas, Clare decides that a bit of time in the countryside might be just what she needs, so she moves back to Little Bramble, the village she grew up in. But living with her mum for the first time in years – and not to mention Goliath the Great Dane – can be challenging.

When Clare finds herself running the village Christmas show, it feels like she has purpose in her life again. Bringing together people from all sides of the community, and all walks of life, will Clare manage to pull off a festive feat like no other? And will she find the new start in life – and possibly love – that she’s been looking for?

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed listening to the audiobook for The Country Village Christmas Show and I think the narrator did an amazing job in telling the story. This was a Christmas book and yet I wasn’t able to witness the Christmas magic that Christmas books usually bring! It may have been because it’s almost summer, but I think it was something to do with the book itself.

The plot was interesting, but there was nothing special about it. Nothing stood up in particular, to make this book memorable. Clare is recently divorced and comes back to the countryside, to the place she grew up. Then she meets someone and even then, she’s too afraid to be happy. The romance in the book was terrible; no passion, no attraction, no flirting. The only good scene was the one where Sam opens up about his relationship with his sister and the accident. In terms of love sparks, or steamy scenes, there will be none in this book. So if you came here searching for that, I suggest you instead have a look at some of the books Georgia Le Carre has written.

The only reason this book has a “Christmas theme” is because a Christmas Show happens during the book. And I really enjoyed this part. The auditions for the show in particular. However, I expected more content when it came to this, and it’s just another scene in the book. I would’ve thought it would have more meaning, especially due to the mother’s connection to the hall.

I believe the focus of this book was Claire’s recovery from her divorce, and moving on with her life. The ultimate lesson that even when you think something terrible in your life happened, there is always time for a new beginning. And when I look at the book from this aspect, it did deliver. We had an amazing dog helping Clare out, her son and her mum gave her the support she needed and the feeling of belonging. However, on that same note of mental happiness, when Claire arrived in her town, her mother was clearly depressed. And Claire mentines this a few times, and then all of a sudden, everything is fine again, the mum has fallen in love and her routine is back to normal. We are left with no explanation on this transition and I just feel that this part could’ve been done so much better!

The Country Village Christmas Show a great story to let people know that it’s not the end of the world if you get a divorce, or if you lose someone… A great story to enjoy in your free time, but definitely not my cup of tea.

Rating:

★★

About The Author:

Cathy Lake is a pseudonym for a women’s fiction writer who lives with her family and three dogs in beautiful South Wales. She writes uplifting stories about strong women, family, friendship, love, community and overcoming obstacles.Cathy Lake also writes under the names Megan Attley and Darcie Boleyn

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Book Review · Books

The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore [BOOK REVIEW]

The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore [BOOK REVIEW]

I had the amazing opportunity to participate in another instagram readalong – this time reading the Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore with some amazing bookstagrammers. We even had a wonderful Q&A chat with the author once we finished the book. Huge thank you to the team at Tandem as well as the publisher, Granta Books, for sending me a copy of the book to read and review!

About The Book:

The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore [BOOK REVIEW]


Publisher: Granta Books

Pages: 304

Format I read it in: Hardcover

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

England, 1643. Parliament is battling the King; the war between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers rages. Puritanical fervour has gripped the nation, and the hot terror of damnation burns black in every shadow.

In Manningtree, depleted of men since the wars began, the women are left to their own devices. At the margins of this diminished community are those who are barely tolerated by the affluent villagers – the old, the poor, the unmarried, the sharp-tongued. Rebecca West, daughter of the formidable Beldam West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only by her infatuation with the clerk John Edes. But then newcomer Matthew Hopkins, a mysterious, pious figure dressed from head to toe in black, takes over The Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about the women of the margins. When a child falls ill with a fever and starts to rave about covens and pacts, the questions take on a bladed edge.

My Thoughts:

As soon as I laid eyes on the cover and the synopsis, I knew I had to read it. And it didn’t disappoint at all. I just had to shift my expectations a little bit.

The Manningtree Witches is a book set in England in 1643, where witch hunters were quite popular and many women were killed after being accused of witchcraft. This book is actually inspired by true events that happened in history. The focus was more on the historical aspect and bringing life to the characters, rather than the supernatural elements.

We never get a full clarification whether Beldam West, her daughter Rebecca and the other women were actually witches, and we get a glimpse of their lives and their imprisonment. We get a front row seat of their feelings, and how this impacts them as well as the community. It was so interesting to also get a point of view from the perspective of the witch hunter. As the villain that he is, I loved getting to know his opinion on the situation and his reasoning.

“But if a witch can be in two places at once, as you say, then I cannot prove my innocence by those same means. Nor, it seems to me, by any other. I can say again and again, a thousand times, sir, that I am not a witch, and have no traffic with the Devil nor his spirits, and it will account for nothing. But if I say once that I am, then it will account for everything.”

The writing is very lyrical and also captures the old-style English.

I had to refer to my dictionary a few times, which has now become a rare occasion. And I really enjoyed learning some new words. I’m looking at you – lucre, extemporise, gaol, interlocutor and bray! You can immediately notice the love the author has for poetry. It took me a while to get into it, but after 80 pages I started loving it.

There were times when I was confused about whose point of view I am currently reading about. This slightly interrupted my concentration, but the story was wonderful in terms of timeline and storytelling.

The only reason of my rating is because my expectations were different going into the book. My need for paranormal elements and a bit of witchcraft weren’t satisfied. However, putting my expectations aside, this book beautifully represents the reality of witch hunting and the struggles so many women had to endure during these times.

If you want to read a book about the witch hunting in history, The Manningtree Witches is a wonderful lyrical take on the events that happened in Manningtree. However, if you want a book that has more “witchy” elements – I would suggest you skip this one.

Rating:

★★★

About The Author:

A. K. Blakemore is the author of two full-length collections of poetry: Humbert Summer (Eyewear, 2015) and Fondue (Offord Road Books, 2018), which was awarded the 2019 Ledbury Forte Prize for Best Second Collection. She has also translated the work of Sichuanese poet Yu Yoyo (My Tenantless Body, Poetry Translation Centre, 2019). Her poetry and prose writing has been widely published and anthologised, appearing in the the London Review of BooksPOETRYPoetry Review and The White Review, among others. 

Her debut novel, The Manningtree Witches, will be published in 2021 by Granta in the UK and Catapult in the US.

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Book Review · Books

The Elephant in the Room by Holly Goldberg Sloan [BOOK REVIEW]

The Elephant in the Room

I am so excited to finally share with you my review of The Elephant in the Room by Holly Goldberg Sloan. It was a true pleasure to read this book, and I devoured it very fast!

About The Book:

The Elephant in the Room


Publisher: Piccadilly Press

Pages: 256

Format I read it in: uncorrected proof

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

In this beautiful book, we follow young Sila, whose mum had to travel to Turkey one year ago to try and solve her immigration status and be able to return to the United States. Sila is not handling the separation well and is not as happy as she used to be. She doesn’t talk as much as she used to and is ignoring her friends.

One day, she accompanies her father while he’s fixing a truck. On this trip, she meets an elderly man who has the most incredible story – he has just won the lottery months ago. Together, they end up rescuing a circus elephant called Veda. And the rescue also leads to Sila helping out during the summer, together with a boy called Mateo.

This summer will introduce Sila to sadness, excitement, friendships and a very unique connections between her, Mateo, and the amazing elephant Veda, who also has a story of her own.

My Thoughts:

The Elephant in the Room is a very heartwarming book and I love how positive it felt, despite the obvious challenges that Sila is facing right from the very start. Honestly, my feelings were enhanced while reading this book, and I recall now how strongly I wanted to hug Sila, when she thought her wearing a certain shirt had an impact to her mum’s fate.

“Goodbyes were more important than they appeared to be.”

We have many characters that are going through a difficult period in their life; Sila is missing her mother, Gio his wife. Veda, the elephant, has been separated from her mum and sent with the circus. And Mateo is struggling to fit in. I wish he could’ve had a glimpse of how Sila and Mateo’s mums were feeling with their situations as well. In my opinion, Mateo’s character is portrayed very beautifully. I loved reading Mateo’s POV, his feelings, his thoughts. And I also love the fact that Veda has a POV as well – that was a very nice touch!

“The circus people could teach her to do many things. But they could not teach her to trust them. Or to ever forget her past.”

I really enjoyed this book!

It was very emotional and it highlights how children react to changes in their lives. It also shows the human and animal interaction, and how animals are able to understand feelings, as well as how sometimes humans can communicate better with animals as well. Furthermore, the friendships and the positivity in this book is overwhelming! Good people are all around us, we just have to find them, or let them find us. However, the only remark I have is that this book is too short and I wish the ending was longer. Unfortunately, it all unraveled rather abruptly in the last 20 pages and I wish we dived into that more slowly.

“Is something better because you don’t see it all the time?”

If this book is made into a movie, I would love to see it! I think many people would enjoy watching it as well. To conclude, if you are looking for a heart-warming fast read about a witty girl, unusual boy and an elephant that befriends them, The Elephant in the Room is the book you want.

Rating:

★★★★

About The Author:

Holly Goldberg Sloan was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and spent her childhood living in California, the Netherlands, Istanbul, Washington, DC, and Oregon (where she graduated from high school).

The mother of two sons, Holly lives with her husband (the writer/illustrator Gary Rosen) in Santa Monica, California. I’ll Be There was her debut novel. Her next book, Counting By 7s, was Amazon’s best novel of the year for middle grade. Her book Just Call My Name is a follow up to I’ll Be There and takes place several months after the ending of the first novel.

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Book Review · Books

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas [BOOK REVIEW]

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas [BOOK REVIEW]

It took me so long to start reading House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas and now that I’ve read it, I am so hyped for the next book. I wish I started it sooner, but I’m also glad I didn’t, because now I don’t have to wait too long for the second book in the Crescent City series.

About The Book:

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas [BOOK REVIEW]


Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Pages: 803

Format I read it in: hardcover

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

My Thoughts:

Oh my goodness, what a turbulent masterpiece this was! I didn’t expect so many plot twists. And I didn’t expect to care about so many people in this book! My emotional tank can only take so much!

I was reading House of Earth and Blood for a whole month, and I realised that I read books longer when I’m really devouring them. This book was one of those. The beginning was slow, but I enjoyed diving into this new world Sarah J. Maas created. And then we had a big plot twist and I was both heartbroken and hooked.

I loved how slowly we get to know Bryce, and at the same time, she slowly gets to know herself better too. We start to understand why she is the way she is. The way she copes with grief and is unable to trust anyone was so relatable to be, and this is also the reason why I enjoyed the slow burn romance as well. It fit so well with Bryce’s character and with her story.

The world was confusing at times, but things began to clear up near the end. I am also sure that when the next book comes, it will clear more things up as well. My favourite bits were the Drop ritual and the concept of different houses. I am looking forward to see the rivalries and perhaps even a bit of history between them. That’s something I think I will really enjoy.

Aside from Bryce, we get to know Athalar Hunt as well, and I really loved his story too. His story is so sad, especially his enslavement. I also couldn’t help but admire his loyalty to Bryce, especially in the end. And his ability to speak up and act for what he truly believes in, and what he believes is right and fair. But aside from Hunt, this book features so many characters that deserve a mention. Danika, Lehabah, Ruhn, Jesiba are just a few, and they were all so vividly alive and full of spirit, unlike many side characters from other books that often get forgotten.

There is so much I love about this book!

The fantasy that is able to touch reality so well. A world full of magic and powers, but also the core human feelings too. Friendships, love, betrayal and death hits all the same. And even though living in a fantasy world, Bryce is sometimes more real and more human than most of us. Be ready to laugh, cry, fall in love (slowly) and dive into an adventure of good versus evil in another masterpiece created by Sarah J. Maas. Cannot wait for the second book in the Crescent City series!

Rating:

★★★★★

About The Author:

The fantasy writer Sarah J. Maas (USA), January 22, 2020. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan

Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the Crescent City, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and the Throne of Glass series. Her books have sold more than twelve million copies and are published in thirty-seven languages. A New York native, Sarah lives in Philadelphia with her husband, son, and dog. 

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