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5 February 2016

Review: 'They Do, I Don't' by Susan Murphy (2015)

How can you be a part of a couple's big day when your own love life is crumbling? Her once happy life in tatters thanks to a cheating husband, lacklustre career and a wrinkling face, Viv no longer believes in love and happiness. In fact, she hates them both. The problem is that as a marriage celebrant, gleeful love is what she has to deal with every day. With 10 hilarious and tragic weddings (and a funeral) to get through before she can give up being a celebrant, can she prove that love and happiness are the pathetic hopes of the naive, or will fate intervene and show her that what she secretly craves could be right in front of her?

As some of you might have read in some of my previous blogposts, one of my goals for 2016 is to finally get through the big pile of review books I still have waiting for me! I really want to make sure I can keep my promise and review all of them, so that's going to be one 2016 resolution I am definitely sticking to! So, today I've got a review of an Australian author to share with all of you, namely Susan Murphy's 'They Do, I Don't.' The novel was released by HarperCollins Australia in January 2015 and I was lucky enough to receive a review copy through NetGalley. The book is partly based on the author's own experiences working as a civil marriage celebrant, which sounds like quite an amazing job, so I really looked forward to finding out more about it by diving into this next read!

Genevieve, known to her friends and family as Viv, has been a wedding celebrant for several years. However, when her own marriage suddenly falls apart because her husband is cheating on her with one of his much younger female colleagues, Viv decides she no longer believes in marriage and wants to quit her job. She only has 10 weddings left to go, but in that period a lot can happen. When Viv’s best friend Tom decides to leave the country for three whole months and she receives some shocking family news, Viv can’t believe what her life has come to in such a short period. She knows she has to keep on going and believe things will get better, but sometimes that is easier said than done…

‘They Do, I Don’t’ is the first part of Susan Murphy’s ‘Confetti Confidential’ series and quite a promising and enjoyable start! I found it really easy to warm to and relate to main character Viv, whose life is suddenly turned upside down when she discovers her husband Peter has been cheating on her after 19 years of marriage. I really enjoyed how fast-paced this novel was and how the main storyline consisted of several aspects: Viv’s love life (with four serious contenders for her heart), her family (consisting of her three sisters with whom she is very close and her children), and her job as a wedding celebrant. There was no dull moment in the book as the story kept on going, which I personally really liked. I loved reading about the sisterly bond between Viv and her three sisters and was even quite surprised by some of the things that happened (I don’t want to give too much away, so I’m sorry if this sounds a bit cryptic!).

I wish there would have been space in the novel to have focused more on the ten weddings and one funeral Viv attends as a wedding celebrant; I loved this aspect of the novel and would have really liked it if this had played a bigger role. However, the novel was a great read with likeable characters and an entertaining storyline, so I don’t have anything to complain about, really! Susan Murphy is a promising author within the chick lit genre and I already look forward to picking up the second part of the ‘Confetti Confidential’ series, ‘Annabel’s Wedding.’ Overall, ‘They Do, I Don’t’ is a fast-paced, fun, and uplifting story about finding yourself, family, and friendship; a read I thoroughly enjoyed and can recommend to anyone looking for their next read!
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.

4 February 2016

Review: 'We Are All Made of Stars' by Rowan Coleman (2016)

Stella Carey has good reason to only work nights at the hospice where she is a nurse. Married to a war veteran who has returned from Afghanistan brutally injured, Stella leaves the house each night as her husband Vincent, locks himself away, unable to sleep due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

During her nights at the hospice, Stella writes letters for her patients containing their final wishes, thoughts and feelings – from how to use a washing machine, to advice on how to be a good parent – and usually she delivers each letter to the recipient he or she has died.

That is until Stella writes one letter that she feels compelled to deliver in time to give her patient one final chance of redemption…

One of the first novels I reviewed for this blog was Rowan Coleman’s ‘The Home for Broken Hearts’ and that’s something I always think of when I am about to read another novel by this author. I remember searching for a great chick lit novel to start my blog with and I really enjoyed Rowan’s novel, so decided it would be a good book to kick things off with. And here we are now, several years and many, many reviews later and I’m once again standing here with a Rowan Coleman novel in my hands! I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of ‘We Are All Made of Stars’, which was released in paperback format on January 28th by Ebury Press. I had heard many positive things about this book already, including some warnings that I would need to keep a box of tissues ready, just in case. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to check out this Rowan Coleman read!

Stella Carey used to work as a trauma nurse, a job she loved. However, after her husband Vincent came back from Afghanistan badly injured, things haven’t been the same between them and especially the long nights can be challenging. Because of this, Stella switched jobs and now works the night shift at Marie Frances Hospice, a place where people come for their last resting place. In her own way Stella has found something extra she can to help some of the patients, namely by writing letters for them with final words or wishes for their loved ones. Usually Stella makes sure the letters are sent after the patient has passed away, but with her latest letter Stella can’t help but feel the urge to deliver the letter as soon as possible, in the hope of fixing what might at first seem unfixable…

‘We Are All Made of Stars’ is a touching and simply stunning read that really managed to tug at my heart strings. Rowan Coleman is a great author and her engrossing writing style really turned this novel into the beautiful read it is. The story is told from the point of view of several characters, namely Stella (who works as a nurse in a hospice and is married to war veteran Vincent), Hope (a 21-year-old with Cystic Fibrosis who finds it difficult to deal with the fact that she has no idea how long she still has to live), and Hugh (a historian who likes to hide away from the world). These three different storylines were all really captivating and I was fascinated by all characters, wanting to continue on reading to see what would eventually happen to all of them. The storylines were also all connected to one another in a specific way, which was really well done by the author. 

Next to the chapters with various perspectives, there is a whole collection of letters in the novel; letters Stella has written including the last thoughts and wishes from many of her patients. I loved these letters; they formed a great combination of humour and sadness and really added a special feel to the novel as a whole. When I discovered the setting of this book I was afraid the novel would be really sad, but Rowan Coleman really managed to turn it into something special; a book that definitely brought tears to my eyes, but also made me smile and feel hopeful. Fans of authors such as Amanda Prowse definitely will not regret picking up this book, I’m sure; ‘We Are All Made of Stars’ is a touching, emotional and beautifully-written story and a novel that has made me fall once again just a bit more in love with Rowan Coleman.
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.

3 February 2016

Review: 'Losing the Plot in LA' by Sonia Farnsworth (2015)

Sylvie is a trendy, LA party girl with more going on than she knows what to do with. Between apartment hunting, insane friends, a rapidly growing puppy, and one too many boys to juggle, she's just trying to catch her breath. Will the craziness overwhelm her, or will she find a better path to move forward? Draw a bath, pour some bubbly, and join her as she tries not to Lose the Plot.

At the end of last year I was contacted by publisher Mascot Books to see whether I was interested in reading and reviewing a new debut chick lit novel by author Sonia Farnsworth, titled 'Losing the Plot in LA.' I quite liked the book cover and while the book description didn't give too much detailed information about the story, it sounded like a chick lit read I would enjoy, so I looked forward to giving the book a chance!

Sylvie lives in LA and there's no other place in the world she loves just as much. However, life is quite a whirlwind as Sylvie tries to do everything she wants to do, from partying with her friends, finding the perfect apartment, taking care of her dog Trouble, and the ongoing search for the man of her dreams. There's hardly any time left to breathe, but Sylvie is determined to get out of life what she wants from it, even if that means there will be a few struggles along the way...

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy ‘Losing the Plot in LA’ as much as I initially hoped I would. Sonia Farnsworth started with a promising storyline; nothing too original, but something suitable to the chick lit genre and something that could have gone in several different directions. While main character Sylvie was a bit all over the place, I could have gone along with her craziness but I just couldn’t warm to her, nor to any of the other characters. Not a lot of detail was given on the characters’ backgrounds and pasts, which made it difficult to really connect with them.

The book is written in a kind of informal style; this might be fine for some readers, but it’s not a style I personally particularly enjoyed. Don’t get me wrong; there were definitely parts of the book I liked and I think there’s definitely a base for an entertaining chick lit read there. Yet, there were too many things missing that make a read a good one for me. I really wanted to like ‘Losing the Plot in LA’, but I’m afraid I just didn’t. There might be readers out there who will enjoy this, but it sadly wasn’t for me.
Rating: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.