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24 April 2017

Review: 'The Other Half of Happiness' by Ayisha Malik (2017)

Sofia Khan is just married. But no-one told her life was going to be this way . . .

Her living situation is in dire straits, her husband Conall is distant, and his annoyingly attractive colleague is ringing all sorts of alarm bells.

When her mother forces them into a belated wedding ceremony (elopement: you can run, but you can't hide), Sofia wonders if it might be a chance to bring them together. But when it forces Conall to confess his darkest secret, it might just tear them apart.

When I found a paperback review copy of Ayisha Malik’s on my doorstep several weeks ago, I immediately recognised the name of the author. In 2015 I was asked to read and review her debut novel ‘Sofia Khan Is not Obliged’, which I really quite enjoyed (click here to read my review). At the start of April, the sequel was released by publisher Twenty7 and I was really happy to see the publisher had kept me in mind with the review copy I received. The book has a lovely cover which fits Spring really well, if you ask me, and I couldn’t help but smile every time I took the book out of my bag. However, it’s also important to see what was inside of that lovely outside, though, so be sure to scroll further down to check out my opinion on the book!

**Please be advised this review will contain spoilers for readers who are still planning to read Ayisha’s Malik novel ‘Sofia Khan Is not Obliged’, to which this new title is the sequel**

When Sofia Khan married Conall, her Irish next-door neighbour she couldn’t help but fall in love with, she had no idea what to expect of marriage. However, reality definitely does not fit the hopes she had for life as a married woman. Conall is more focused on finishing his documentary, which requires a lot of travelling and spending time with his attractive female colleague, and Sofia’s family is constantly minding her business. When she is asked to write her second book, this one about her experiences of marriage, she is keen to take on this next challenge, especially since her new editor thinks it will be a success. But what happens when Sofia discovers Conall has been hiding something from her, something quite big, something that could change their entire lives, and especially their marriage…?

I really liked how author Ayisha Malik seemed to pick things up where her debut novel ‘Sofia Khan Is not Obliged’ ended; after just the first chapter I had once again become a part of protagonist Sofia’s life, and I loved stepping back into her world, populated by the familiar faces of her friends and family. There’s also the same comfortable and well-paced writing style and form of the book, which is written in relatively short chapters/diary entries, spread over the four seasons. Because of this I also highly recommend reading the other book first, before picking this one up. While this novel can be read as a stand-alone, it really will influence your reading experience if you’re not yet familiar with these characters and what they’ve been through together, and Ayisha Malik’s debut novel is worth picking up.

I was quite surprised by the direction of the story; I was surprised by Connall’s secret and how this influenced the rest of the characters and the plotline of the book, and I was especially surprised by the ending of the novel, which I have to admit I wasn’t a big fan of. However, I don’t want to give too much away in this review, because I can imagine other readers might actually really enjoy how this was written and worked out. I understand the comparison that is being made to Bridget Jones, but at the same time I also feel Ayisha Malik deserves to not be labelled like that; this book is something fresh and new, and deserves to be read like that as well. All in all, I found ‘The Other Half of Happiness’ to be a compelling modern-day read with some fascinating characters and mixing of cultures at its core; a promising new voice within women’s fiction and a read certainly worth checking out.
Rating:8,5/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

23 April 2017

Upcoming Release: 'Four Bridesmaids and a White Wedding' by Fiona Collins


Don’t tell the bride!

Rose, Sal and JoJo have been looking forward to their best friend Wendy’s hen party for ages. A relaxing spa break is the perfect way to escape their crazy careers, grumpy husbands and stroppy children – even if the groom’s straight-laced sister, Tamsin, is coming too.

Until they realise that there’s been a mistake in the booking and instead of sipping prosecco in fluffy white dressing gowns they’re off to bridesmaid bootcamp!

Squeezing themselves reluctantly into tiny shorts and sliding through the mud, it’s only a matter of time before secrets emerge that could change everything…

Forget about saving the date, these four bridesmaids need to save the day – otherwise will there even be a white wedding at all?

I love myself some wedding lit; I will definitely check out any book that's a combination of chick lit and weddings, there are hardly any exceptions...! Combined with a lovely author such as Fiona Collins, you can certainly count me in which is why I'm really excited about the upcoming release of her 'Four Bridesmaids and a White Wedding.' This promises to be a great read, whether you're in need of something to distract you from your busy times at work or something to relax with in the Spring sunshine... This is on my April to-read list and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy! 

21 April 2017

Review: 'The Choir on Hope Street' by Annie Lyons (2017)

The best things in life happen when you least expect them

Nat’s husband has just said the five words no one wants to hear – ‘I don’t love you anymore’.

Picture-perfect Caroline has to welcome her estranged mother into her house after she was forced out of an exclusive nursing home.

Living on the same street these two women couldn’t be more different. Until the local community centre is threatened, galvanising Caroline and the people of Hope Street into action. But when the only way to save the centre is to form a community choir – no one, least of all Nat, expects the results…

This spring, hope is coming!

When I saw ‘The Choir on Hope Street’ popping up on my NetGalley overview page, I just couldn’t stop myself from requesting a review copy of the book even though I am trying my very best to get my review book pile down to 0. I wasn’t familiar with author Annie Lyons before picking up this latest title of hers, but was definitely curious to check out this particular novel because the title, blurb and cover immediately got me excited. I just can’t ignore a promising chick lit read…! ‘The Choir on Hope Street’ was released by HQ on 6 April, and it was undoubtedly one of the April releases I was most looking forward to checking out, so as soon as I received my review copy I sat down with it….

Natalie is trying her best to pick up the pieces of her life after her husband Dan completely unexpectedly told her he isn’t in love with her anymore, even though she had the feeling things were going quite well between the two of them. Now, Nat not only needs to take care of herself, but also need to make sure her son Woody doesn’t get stuck in the middle of her problems with Dan. At the other side of Hope Street, perfect mum Caroline is dealing with some unexpected troubles of her own when she has to take in her estranged mother, who has been turned away from the nursing home she was staying at. Even though Nat and Caroline don’t seem to have a lot in common at first sight, their love for the Hope Street Community Centre is what brings them together. The local council has plans to demolish the centre, so the locals decide to get together and start a choir to try their best to save this important place in their community…

Oh, I’m such a sucker for novels in which communities get together to work towards a common goal, such as starting a choir to save the local community centre… I loved ‘The Choir on Hope Street’ and am so glad I got the chance to check out Annie Lyons’ writing. This really is a great chick lit read; one with some interesting characters at its core and even a focus on some quite serious topics (which I wasn’t expecting at first). The chapters in the books are told from the points of view of Natalie and Caroline, alternating between them. The two female leads couldn’t be more different: where Natalie is quite sarcastic and chaotic, Caroline is bossy and organised, but the two are thrown together due to circumstances, which ends up in some great reading material.

I really liked the idea of starting a community choir and loved how this brought different kinds of people together, all fighting for the same goal. I wouldn’t have minded if the choir had played a slightly bigger role in the novel, really adding that musical touch to the story, but I still thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The author’s writing flowed really well, provided a good mix of description and dialogue, and fit the genre. I know I will definitely look out for Annie Lyons’ name the next few months and hope she will be treating us to another read soon. All in all, ‘The Choir on Hope Street’ is an uplifting, hopeful and warm-hearted romantic comedy read which I’m sure any chick lit fan will enjoy just as much as I did!
Rating:9/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.