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rathertoofondofbooks

Rather Too Fond Of Books

Hi, I'm Hayley,

 

I've been reading books for as long as I can remember and have recently re-discovered my book blog (Rather Too Fond of Books), which has made me excited to have a place to share what I'm reading, to review some books and to share my bookish memories. I have combined a newer blog of mine with this one and this is where I'll always post.

 

I am happy to consider any books to review. I post all of my reviews on here and on my book likes page, then I will be promoting the posts on Twitter and Facebook.

 

My email: rathertoofondofbooks@gmail.com

 

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Review: Snowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin

Snowflakes on Silver Cove: A festive, feel-good Christmas romance (White Cliff Bay Book 2) - Holly Martin

Snowflakes on Silver Cove is the second novel in Holly’s White Cliff Bay series. I read and reviewed the first book in this series, Christmas at Lilac Cottage a while ago and completely fell in love with the setting and the characters so the chance to go back there was irresistible! Snowflakes on Silver Cove is set in the same town and along the same time frame as the first book but it focuses on different characters (although you may spot some characters you recognise popping up along the way!).

 

Libby is a romance writer who never lives anywhere for longer then six months, George is her unlucky-in-love neighbour and they are the best of friends. So, when Libby suffers from a major case of writer’s block and needs romance in her life in order to be able to get into her characters’ heads, and George needs to build the confidence to ask their gorgeous new neighbour, Giselle, out on a date they decide they will date each other… but only for research purposes!

 

What follows is a series of dates that are Christmassy and full of romance but which then lead to misunderstandings galore between these two people who can’t quite admit what they’re beginning to feel for each other.

 

The way George and Libby’s relationship builds is brilliant, I loved every minute of it. At times I wanted to somehow climb into the book so I could yell at them both for missing what was staring them in the face, I so badly wanted them to get together. Libby and George are made for each other! It may take a good while for George and Libby to admit how they truly feel, but throughout the novel the love and care and adoration they each feel for the other just radiates off the page; it’s so beautiful to read and leaves you with such a warm, fuzzy feeling!

 

I loved that Libby and George had such a strong connection and how they could eventually laugh at everything that befell them every time they almost got together. I firmly believe that being able to laugh with your partner at everything life throws at you is the key to a long and happy relationship so I have high hopes for George and Libby!

Alongside this storyline, there is another budding romance between Libby’s other best friend Amy, and Seb. Poor Seb lost his wife five years earlier and since then he has honoured a promise he made to his mother-in-law, just after his wife died, that he will never fall in love ever again. Seb is ready to move on now though and is struggling to fight his intense attraction to feisty barmaid, Amy. The attraction is mutual but Amy wants a relationship that they can tell people about so they have to somehow win over Seb’s mother-in-law!

 

Amy is one of my favourite characters in this book, the things that happened to her were some of the funniest situations I’ve read in a novel in a really long time. I thought the purple hair dye storyline was funny but then came the costume she had to wear to raise money for a testicular cancer charity. Every single thing that happened to her while she was in that costume was utterly hilarious! I know I’m being a bit vague here but I really don’t want to spoil it for readers. Trust me though, it’s hysterical! I’m currently recovering from major surgery and almost did myself an injury from laughing so hard!

 

This is a very funny and highly entertaining novel that will have you laughing out loud from the very first page! It’s also full of Christmas romance and just so gorgeous – you will not be able to put this book down! I rated it 9 out of 10 and highly recommend it.

 

I received this book from Bookouture via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Snowflakes on Silver Cove is due to be published on 30th October and can be pre-ordered from Amazon now!

 

This review was originally posted on my blog: RatherTooFondofBooks. Please have a look on my blog as I have giveaways for five Christmas ebooks running at the moment, including this one!

 

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/26/review-and-int-giveaway-snowflakes-in-silver-cove-by-holly-martin

Review (and Int. Giveaway): One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot

One Wish in Manhattan: An uplifting, romantic Christmas story - Mandy Baggot

I knew I was going to love this book from the very first page, it just drew me straight in and never let me go. It was completely and utterly wonderful!

 

Hayley and her daughter Angel go to New York, supposedly on holiday but Hayley really intends to try and find Angel’s father. They stay with Hayley’s brother Dean. On their first night in New York Hayley meets a very attractive stranger and life becomes a lot more fun, and a lot more complicated.

 

I loved Hayley and Angel’s relationship, the bond between them and the way they were with each other felt so realistic and lovely. They seemed like real people to me from the very beginning and I was quite sad when I finished the book and had to leave them behind. I miss them already!

 

I couldn’t help but see parallels between this book and one of my favourite classic Christmas books – A Christmas Carol. Oliver is a hard-nosed business man, he’s self-centred and doesn’t like form to form relationships with women. In his work environment he doesn’t know the name of many of his colleagues and it becomes apparent that a lot of his staff are quite wary around him. Clara, his assistant, is a great character, she’s strong-willed and says what she thinks to Oliver. She’s the Jacob Marley character, except she does make her feelings clear and isn’t fearful of her boss. Having said that, Clara’s home life could be considered a teeny bit like the Jacob’s.

 

Oliver’s father and brother have recently died and he believes that he is about to die of the same heart defect that kills them. Each time he has a collapse and the closer he gets to Hayley the more he begins to thaw. She is like the ghost of Christmas present, showing him what he could have if he just lets her into his life. HIs father and brother are ghosts of Christmas past, and his belief that he will die soon and alone is his potential future because it is in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy if he doesn’t slow down a bit at work. Hayley and Angel show Oliver that life can be completely different if he just relaxes the tight reins a little bit. The way Oliver’s character develops throughout the novel is rather Scrooge-like!

 

This book is not a re-telling of A Christmas Carol but the parallels between the two books made my enjoyment factor even higher, and now this brand new book has won me over and will take its place beside an old favourite in Christmases to come, and what can be better than that for a book lover? All of this combined with One Wish in Manhattan being about Christmas in New York, which is one of those experiences that always seems magical and beautiful, make this book sheer perfection!

 

Christmas is a part of this novel from beginning to end and I adored that. I loved how, from the minute they arrived in New York Hayley and Angel kept stopping and saying how whatever they were doing was another reason why Christmas is better there. It kept the Christmas spirit all the way through!

 

I rated this book 10 out of 10 and highly recommend that this book makes your Christmas reads list this year!

 

One Wish in Manhattan is out now and available from Amazon.

 

This review was originally posted on my blog RatherTooFondofBooks 

where I'm currently running an International giveaway where you can enter to win an ecopy of this very book. There is also a giveaway for ebooks of Bella's Christmas Bake Off, Christmas at Lilac Cove and Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses. The final giveaway will be posted tomorrow and this is for an ecopy of Snowflakes at Silver Cove. Please check my giveaways out at RatherTooFondOfBooks Giveaway Post!

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/review-int-giveaway-one-wish-in-manhattan-by-mandy-baggot

Review (and Int. Giveaway!): Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses: A feel good Christmas romance novel - Jenny Hale

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses is a wonderful Cinderella story about Abbey and Nick.

 

Abbey is a single mum to six year old Max; she works as a nurse to Caroline but dreams of having her own interior design business. After she re-decorates Caroline’s home she is offered the chance to re-decorate and furnish Caroline’s Grandson’s mansion.

 

Nick is Caroline’s Grandson. He lives alone in his mansion and has done ever since he and his wife divorced. He puts all his time and energy into running the family business that his father left to him.

 

Abbey and Nick get to know more about each other as Abbey is re-designs the interior of his house and she begins to get under his skin. He feels a need to look out for her and make sure that she is ok. After Nick meets Max he begins to form a bond with the boy despite saying that he never wants children of his own.

 

This novel has all the elements you could possibly want in a Christmas novel: It has romance, it has snow, it has a storyline that will tug at your heartstrings. I loved seeing how Abbey and Nick’s relationship developed, it was lovely how it wasn’t all one-sided. Nick lavished gifts on Abbey but actually what she gives him is so much more important. She teaches him about the value of making time to be with loved ones and about following his dreams. It’s a wonderful reminder of what Christmas is really about.

One of my favourite moments in the novel was when Nick took Abbey and Max to meet the real Santa, it just made me melt and reminded me of those wonderful visits that I was taken on as a child to see Santa. It gave me goosebumps when Santa’s feet appeared down the chimney and reminded of the magical set up at the place where my mum used to take me.

 

This is the first book I’ve read by Jenny Hale but I’m absolutely certain that it won’t be the last, I’m now very much looking forward to reading her other novels.

 

I rated this book 9 out of 10 and recommend it to everyone who loves a cute, romantic and magical novel to read at Christmas.

 

I received this book from Bookouture via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses is out now and available from Amazon.

 

This review was originally posted on my blog RatherTooFondofBooks where I'm currently running an International giveaway where you can enter to win an ecopy of this very book. There is also a giveaway for ebooks of Bella's Christmas Bake Off, One Wish in Manhattan, and Christmas at Lilac Cove. The final giveaway will be posted tomorrow and this is for an ecopy of Snowflakes at Silver Cove. Please check my giveaways out at RatherTooFondOfBooks Giveaway Post!

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/review-int-giveaway-christmas-wishes-and-mistletoe-kisses-by-jenny-hale

Review: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas by Kathi Lipp

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas: Simple Steps to Enjoying the Season - Kathi Lipp

I couldn’t resist requesting this book when I spotted it on Net Galley recently because I’ve previously read Kathi Lipp’s book Clutter Free and her ideas really have helped me have a much more organised (and streamlined!) home.

 

This is a guide to getting organised for Christmas and it’s really useful. In short, easy to follow chapters Kathi explains how to be much more organised in the run up to Christmas. Each chapter is dedicated to a different element of Christmas planning and everything is broken down into easy to manage tasks. The idea being that the planning is started early so that there is no last minute rushing to cause stress as Christmas gets closer.

 

Get Yourself Organised for Christmas contains chapters on a variety of Christmas tasks. It may be that not all the tasks are relevant to how you spend the holidays but the book is set out in such a way that you can mark the chapters that will be helpful to you and then focus on those. My favourite chapter, and one I will frequently refer back to, was about making a Christmas binder that I can then amend each year but will basically contain all of my lists, recipes, gift ideas etc all in one place. It’s such a simple idea yet one I’d never come up with myself.

 

Kathi encourages working out what the most important aspects of Christmas are to you, and your family, and then to just focus on those. She also encourages sharing tasks so that one person isn’t stressed out doing everything, and if you’re someone (like me) who isn’t good at accepting offers of help when you’re stressed, Kathi has suggestions for how to deal with this which are practical and helpful.

 

It’s lovely that the book includes a reminder to plan all the things that you love to do in the build up to Christmas but often run out of time for – like driving around the local area to see all the Christmas lights or making time to go into the town centre to drink a hot chocolate while mooching around soaking up the Christmas atmosphere. I always want to do this but usually remember when it’s too late so it’s good to have a reminder that these kind of things should be scheduled in if they’re important to you and your loved ones.

 

Kathi’s emphasis on prioritising the people who are most important really struck a chord with me and has actually helped me finally make the decision not to send any Christmas cards this year.

 

Kathi offers suggestions throughout this book on how to make every aspect of planning Christmas easier and much less stressful. This book just really makes you feel like you’re in good hands, that you are capable of having the relaxing, fun Christmas you’ve always dreamt about.

 

I rate this book 7 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who finds getting organised for Christmas difficult or stressful.

 

I received a copy of this book from Harvest House Publishers via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas is out now and available from Amazon.

 

This review was originally posted on my blog RatherTooFondofBooks

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/review-get-yourself-organized-for-christmas-by-kathi-lipp

Review: 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

13 Minutes - Sarah Pinborough

 

Wow, what a stunning book! I finished this book a little while ago and just had to sit quietly for a while to catch my breath and gather my thoughts.

 

Tasha is pulled from the icy cold river; she has been dead for thirteen minutes. The medics manage to revive her but she is left with no memory of what happened, or how she ended up in the river. Her two best friends Hayley and Jenny rush to be by her side to support her, along with her childhood friend Becca.

 

This is a brilliantly constructed YA psychological thriller. Sarah Pinborough absolutely nails the tension, jealousy and rivalry that goes on between female friendships, and the added intensity within the cliques that teenage girls often form. The drama that unfolds between these girls is extreme but it stays rooted within the realm of possibliity: It is absolutely plausible that this could happen in reality and that’s what makes it so chilling to read. I found it near impossible to put this book down. The underlying hatred that lies underneath seemingly close relationships is tangible in this novel; it was such a tense read that at times I had to actually remind myself to breathe.

 

This is one of the best psychological thrillers I have read in a very long time. It builds and builds, constantly heightening the tension; there are twists and turns within the story that quite often seem small but some are building to something bigger and others are leading you in the wrong direction. You’re never quite sure who to trust, it’s a deeply unsettling read. Sarah Pinborough is a master of this type of book.

 

13 Minutes is an outstanding novel, one you absolutely shouldn't miss! I can already say for sure that this will be in my top reads of this year, if not the very top. I cannot recommend it highly enough - go pre-order it now, you won't regret it!

 

I rate this book 10 out of 10 - I’d give it 100 out of 10 if I could! 

 

I received this book from Orion Publishing Group / Gollancz via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

13 minutes is due to be published on 18th February 2016 and is available for pre-order now on Amazon.

 

This review was originally posted on my blog: RatherTooFondofBooks

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/review-13-minutes-by-sarah-pinborough

Books about Grieving

 

 

I recently joined another book site called Riffle and one of their features that I love is the ability to make and share lists of books. I made a list of books about grief; I know it's not a happy and fun list but it was important to me to make this list.

 

I wrote a longer post about this on my blog: RatherTooFondofBooks with links to the list and an invitation to join Riffle.

 

Today, I was stunned, and so pleased, to find that my list of books had been recommended to Book Riot and they have included it in their weekly round up of the best book lists on the internet. I really want this list to reach as many people as possible in order for it to be an easy reference for people who are going through the grieving process. 

 

Please have a look at my blog and share the link to my post, thank you.

 

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/riffle-books

Review: The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft

 The Girl With No Past  - Kathryn Croft

 

The Girl With No Past is the story of Leah, a thirty year old single woman who lives a very sparse and solitary existence; she has no friends, she doesn’t see much of her mum, she has no possessions apart from her books. She has no past. Leah has a job in a library and is making enough money to stay in her tiny, dingy flat but she is getting by not living. Then one day she receives a card on the fourteenth anniversary of the terrible thing that happened and her life begins to unravel.

 

The novel is told mainly in the present, with some chapters going back to the past. It’s a novel about how the feelings teenagers have can become so magnified that they believe they are justified in doing whatever want. It’s about how falling in love for the first time can make someone blind to the nastiness a person is demonstrating. It’s about how you can’t run from your past mistakes and how karma will always get you in the end.

 

I really enjoyed this book, I started it yesterday evening and ended up being very late to bed as I couldn’t stop reading. It’s quite a fast-paced book and every chapter moved the story on so that there was never a place that felt right to stop reading - it was brilliant! 

 

I couldn’t make up my mind how I felt about Leah; sometimes I quite liked her and could see she was a nice girl who was just easily led. I felt sorry for teenage Leah and how besotted she was with Adam; she would have done anything to make him happy and that was her downfall. I could never quite relax into liking her in the present day though because I was constantly on edge wondering what she had done in her past. I did swing from having sympathy for her to then wanting to shout at her to wake up to what was going on; the only thing I really liked about her was her love of books! It’s quite refreshing sometimes to read novels where I don’t fully warm to the main character, it can make for a more interesting read and that was certainly the case here. I wanted to see if she ever redeemed herself, it kept me completely hooked!

 

I was very shocked when it was revealed what had happened all those years ago, I wasn’t expecting it to be what it was and it was horrible to read. It was cleverly written though because I absolutely believed that although I knew Leah was a nice girl, the build up had been there for her to follow her boyfriend into anything. 

 

The ending of the book didn’t come as a complete shock to me, I’d began to suspect that this might have been what happened but it was still incredibly disturbing to read it. It made me go cold! Once I’d turned the final page I had to just sit quietly for a while to mull it all over, it left my head spinning and I love when a book leaves me feeling like that.

 

I highly recommend this book; it’s a fast-paced thriller that will keep you reading until the small hours of the morning! I rate it 9 out of 10.

 

The Girl With No Past is out today and is available from Amazon.

 

I received this novel from Bookouture via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

My review was originally posted on my blog: RatherTooFondofBooks

 

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/review-the-girl-with-no-past-by-kathryn-croft

Review: The Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan

The Good Neighbor: A Novel - Amy Sue Nathan

Izzy Lane has been having a rough time of it. She is a divorced mum of one, who has recently had to move back to her childhood home with her 5 year old son, Noah. She has had a hard time adjusting to all of the changes in her life but she her good friends Rachel and Jade, and her elderly neighbour Mrs Feldman are always looking out for her and gradually she’s began to find her feet and settle down. Until her ex shows up one day with his new girlfriend in tow and Izzy finds herself letting slip about her new boyfriend, Mac.

 

Izzy runs a very popular blog where she talks about life after divorce and what it’s like to date again, she enjoys sharing about her wonderful new man. The only problem is, she made him up! Before she gets a chance to admit to her real life friends that what they’ve read on her blog isn’t entirely truthful, one of them offers her a brilliant job opportunity to be the resident dating expert on a very successful website. Izzy can never find quite the right moment to confess, and it all continues to get more complicated as her friends want to meet him, and then she catches the eye of a real life man!

The wonderful Mrs Feldman from next door steps in and give sage advice to Izzy to just confess to her friends but Izzy just can’t bring herself to do it. But then a mysterious commenter starts posting on her blog asking awkward questions about Mac and it all begins to feel too much.

 

I loved how Izzy wasn't a bitter ex wife, she was just trying to find ways to move on and to find her new normal in this life that she hadn't planned for. She wanted the best for her son, and even though she didn't want her ex husband in her life, she very much wanted him in her son's life on a regular basis. I was glad Izzy was like this as it meant she remained likeable even when she invented a new boyfriend. Izzy's made-up man came about more from loneliness during the times when Noah was in bed or with his dad, rather than from any malice. 

 

I really liked Izzy all through this novel and I couldn’t help but feel for her. She got herself in a huge mess over what was originally just a little fib to make herself feel better. I didn’t blame her at all for telling the fib, she was feeling down on herself and she mentioned Mac before she’d really thought about any implications - it wasn’t a long thought out deception. The problem for Izzy is that it spread into her real life and she just couldn’t bring herself to admit it to her friends who were so happy that she was apparently dating again. I was wiling Izzy on to just tell them though because once she stopped being truthful with her real life friends the little fib became a big lie, and a big lie is hard for anyone to forgive. I started to worry for Izzy, knowing that she was putting everything she had at risk in order to keep her story going, and I hoped she would redeem herself in the end.

 

My favourite character was Mrs Feldman. She just exuded warmth with a bit of sass that I love to see in older people. Her own secret was heartbreaking, and the way her family treated her made me so sad at times but I love how Mrs Feldman adapted and made things better for herself in the end. I adored the relationship that she had with Izzy, it was a really lovely and special friendship where they each took care of the other in their own ways. I wish I had a Mrs Feldman in my life!

 

I’m going to miss the characters in this book, the crappy ex husband aside that is! Amy Sue Nathan has written a book with such well thought-out characters that they really did seem like real people to me and most of them were so warm and genuine and I felt like they were people I actually know. I’m going to miss them.

 

This book wasn’t quite what I was expecting it to be but I very much enjoyed it and I’d highly recommend it. I rate this book 9 out of 10.

 

I received this book from St. Martin’s Press via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Good Neighbor is out today and available now from Amazon.

 

This review was originally posted on my blog: RatherTooFondofBooks

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/review-the-good-neighbor-by-amy-sue-nathan

Review: The Broken Hearts Book Club by Lynsey James

The Broken Hearts Book Club - Lynsey James

I love books about book clubs so I couldn’t resist the chance to read The Broken Hearts Book Club! 

 

Lucy grew up in the idyllic Luna Bay but something happened eight years ago which caused her to run away and she has never been back. She has managed to avoid all reasons to return but when her beloved Nana dies Lucy finally returns to her childhood home for the funeral. It is her intention to make this a quick visit but when her Nana’s Will is read and Lucy finds out she has been left her gorgeous Rose Cottage and her broken hearts book club, Lucy feels compelled to stick around for a while. After meeting the lovely, and very attractive new pub owner, Jake, Lucy suddenly finds even more reasons to stay in Luna Bay!

 

There is a mystery that runs through this book about why Lucy ran away all those years ago. Lucy refers to it many times but can never bring herself to tell anyone what she did. I’ll be honest there were a few times when I wanted to grab Lucy and just make her open up about it but it was true to her character that she was forever skirting around it - this is the girl who ran away for eight years rather than stay and face it after all. I felt sorry for her especially as some of the people in Luna Bay who were there eight years ago still made Lucy feel bad, even after so much time had passed.

 

Lucy is such a lovely character, her heart is in the right place and she just wants to make things right with those she's done wrong by, and she wants to help make better the lives of the broken hearted in the book club. I love how she can’t always control her impulse to sing if she reads, or hears someone say a song lyric. I burst out laughing reading the very first page with the Joni Mitchell song incident! It’s the sort of thing that could happen to any of us and that’s what makes her so endearing.

 

I adored the book club! I love the idea of a book club for broken-hearted people especially the way it was for people who had suffered any kind of loss, all the member supported each other and no loss was made to feel less than any other. I enjoyed reading about the books they were reading too and hearing their thoughts on them. I’ve already read all of the book club reads apart from The Rosie Project and they’ve convinced me to give it a try! 

 

The Broken Hearts Book Club is perfect for these colder, darker nights - it’s like a big warm comfort blanket in book form! It’s a feel-good read with a bit of depth to it. I rate this book 9 out of 10 and highly recommend it. This was the first book I’ve read by Lynsey James and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve already bought her debut novel Just the Way You Are and hope to read it very soon.

 

The Broken Hearts Book Club is published today and available on Amazon now!

 

I received this book from Carina UK via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

This review was originally posted on my blog: RatherTooFondofBooks.

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/review-the-broken-hearts-book-club-by-lynsey-james

Review: 24 Hours by Claire Seeber

24 Hours: An intense, suspenseful psychological thriller - Claire Seeber

 

24 Hours should really come with a warning about how addictive it is! I started reading it this morning thinking I’d just read a couple of chapters while I drank my coffee and I got so engrossed that the next thing I knew I’d finished the book and it was lunchtime! This is such a brilliant thriller, it’s impossible to stop once you start reading!

 

24 Hours is the story of Laurie Smith; she has been caught up in a fire in a hotel and believes her best friend is dead and that her daughter may well be in grave danger. She is now in a race against time to find her.

 

The novel is told in alternating chapters - one from the past that gradually leads up to the present day, and one from each of the 24 Hours that Laurie is frantically searching for her daughter, Polly. It’s so well written because you’d think that the chapters told over the 24 Hours would be the most intense but the chapters set leading up to this day become increasingly more unsettling and there reaches point where there is such tension in every chapter that you almost can’t breathe.

 

Each of the 24 Hours is brilliantly plotted, you can almost feel Laurie’s increasing tiredness and exhaustion as the hours draw on and the way she starts to question herself and what she thinks she knows because she is almost delirious with fatigue, it begins to feel like you’re in it with her and you’re as unsure as she is. It’s such good writing.

 

I rate this book 10 out of 10 and highly recommend it. I read a lot of psychological thrillers and this one just felt so refreshingly different to a lot of others that I’ve read of late. Go buy this, you won’t regret it!

 

24 Hours is published today and is available from Amazon.

 

I received this book from Bookouture via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

This review was originally posted on my blog: RatherTooFondofBooks

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/review-24-hours-by-claire-seeber

Review: Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

Pretending to Dance - Diane Chamberlain

 

Pretending to Dance is a moving novel about the damage that secrets can do. Molly is happily married to Aidan, they have a good life together but something is missing. Molly can’t have children so they are going through the process of adopting a baby, it’s something they both want but Aidan is throwing himself into the process and Molly is much more reserved and nervous. She doesn’t want to risk anyone to find out about the secrets she is keeping.

 

The novel then goes back to 1990 when Molly was 14. She was growing up in a tight knit family, with her extended family all living close by. Molly was a typical teenage girl, obsessed with New Kids on the Block and Jonny Depp. She was a very naive girl, having lived a sheltered life, but on meeting a new friend, Stacie, her eyes soon become open to new things, particularly boys, and her focus in life begins to change.

 

Molly had a very close bond with her dad, Graham, she idolised him and she helped him in his work as a pretend therapist. He was suffering from MS and Molly did everything she could to help him and to make his life happier, it’s a wonderful relationship to read about. Molly was unable to see, or perhaps didn’t want to face, the fact that her dad’s health was deteriorating. So when he died it seemed very sudden and seemed out of nowhere to her. She was utterly distraught and began to question everything she thought she knew about her family, which eventually led to her leaving them behind and starting a new life but the secrets she carries are still haunting her.

 

I absolutely loved this book, it is Diane Chamberlain at her best. The novel is part mystery, part coming of age, part family and domestic drama; it’s got a bit of everything and it’s brilliant, I found it near impossible to put it down. 

 

The opening of this book hooks you in immediately when you hear Molly tell how she is not only a liar but a good liar. Straight away you want to know more about her. Is she a pathological liar? Can we trust anything she says? Or is she lying to protect someone? So many questions and you feel compelled to keep reading. Molly is actually very good at keeping secrets much more than she is a liar but there is a fine line between the two - when does a secret become a lie? This is a question I kept asking myself all through this novel because I never really saw Molly as a liar, just someone burdened with a difficult secret but because she never shared her secret, it becomes a lie of omission and she really struggled with that. The idea of whether a secret is a lie, or can become a lie runs through this book and really gives you pause for thought.

 

The storyline focuses a lot on Molly’s dad Graham’s MS and this was so well written. I found it very difficult to read for personal reasons but you know a story is done well when it really gets to you like that. There was clearly a lot of research done into the disease and nothing is shied away from. It was apparent to everyone, including the reader, that Graham was deteriorating but the family colluded in shielding it from Molly, which in the end leaves her feeling very left out and lost. I felt increasingly more sympathetic for everyone in this family, no one had an easy time of it. Molly’s father was trying to keep going as long as he could but was obviously suffering. Molly’s mother was still very much in love with her husband but knew she was going to have to let go very soon, and this meant she became very focused on him which left Molly feeling unloved. Molly was just a normal teenage girl who wanted everyone to be okay, she didn’t have enough life experience to know that loving someone isn’t enough to keep them alive when they’ve had enough of suffering. It made me so sad that Molly and her mother couldn’t find a way to communicate, there were so many missed chances when they could have talked and formed a better bond together. It’s so true to life though that sometimes a misunderstanding, and the keeping of secrets drives such a wedge between people that it seems like it will never be able to be mended. 

 

I was fascinated by Graham’s job as a pretend therapist, I love how it was woven through the book along with Amalia’s interpretative dancing sessions with Molly; it all revolved around the idea of finding out who you are and if you’re not the person you want to be then pretend for a while and eventually you’ll become that person. I don’t know if pretend therapy is a real therapy or even based on a real therapy, but the idea of it seems quite wonderful. I’m going to take the idea of pretending to dance and remind myself of it on the bad days, it really is a great lesson for us all.

 

I rated this book 10 out of 10 and can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a compelling read that has something for everyone, it’s a book not to be missed!

 

Thank you to St. Martins Press via Net Galley for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

This book is published today in paperback and is available on Amazon.

 

This review was originally posted on my blog: RatherTooFondofBooks

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/review-pretending-to-dance-by-diane-chamberlain

Review: The Lies We Tell by Meg Carter

The Lies We Tell - Meg Carter

I can never resist a new psychological thriller so this caught my eye immediately! The premise of the book is very intriguing; two teenage girls, Jude and Kat, become best friends as teenagers and then one day, on a school trip, something happens and Kat never saw Jude again. Until, that is, twenty years later when Jude suddenly gets in touch, and her reappearance coincides with a series of increasingly strange and unsettling things that start happening to Kat and the people closest to her.

 

This was a very good debut novel; it had quite a few twists and turns, and moments that were very unsettling and made me feel very on edge, which all good thrillers should do. I did work out quite early on who was involved with the mystery in the  present day but I was left gobsmacked by one of the twists, which totally made up for me working out the other elements.

 

The parts of the story set when Kat and Jude were teenagers was the most unsettling part of the book for me. There was just a real sense of something sinister lurking beneath their friendship, the tension hanging between them was radiating off the page and making me feel like I couldn’t breathe at times. There is often an unspoken rivalry between teenage friendships and Meg Carter got this perfect and heightened it further. The scenes set on the heath were really creepy, and it was written in such a great way that I couldn't work out what had happened that day or how it had led up to the present day. It was so good!

 

I rate this book 8 out of 10.

 

The Lies We Tell is out now and available from Amazon.

 

I received this book from Canelo via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

This review was originally posted on my blog: RatherTooFondofBooks

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/review-the-lies-we-tell-by-meg-carter

Review: Six Poets: From Hardy to Larkin by Alan Bennett

Six Poets: Hardy to Larkin: An Anthology - Alan Bennett

Six Poets: From Hardy to Larkin is a wonderful anthology of poetry; it’s a book that I know I will go back to time and time again. I was already a fan of Philip Larkin but I knew only a little of the other five poets so it was fascinating to learn more. Alan Bennett’s voice comes through as you read this anthology, his wonderful personality and enthusiasm run right through the book. It was fascinating to learn in the introduction that Bennett used to feel that 'literature was a club of which I would never be a proper member' and that there are still poets that he has never managed to read and hearing about them reminds him 'how baffled one can feel in the face of books'. Immediately this is reassuring to anyone who picks this book up that they are in good hands, that this isn't an academic book, this is a book for everyone to enjoy without needing any prior knowledge or understanding of poetry.

 

Alan Bennett selected over seventy poems from six poets -  Thomas Hardy, A. E. Housman, John Betjeman, W. H. Auden, Louis MacNeice and Philip Larkin - for this anthology. Each poet is introduced with a brief biography, which is followed by selected poems interspersed with candid commentary. The way the book is set out, with the poets being written about in chronological order, allows the reader to easily understand how one poet was influenced or inspired by his predecessor. Some of the poems Bennett has chosen from one poet link together with poems form another in the anthology, which again makes it easy to grasp common themes and how each poet put his own stamp on a sometimes similar idea.

 

Bennett strikes a great balance between serious biographical information and amusing anecdotes. We learn that Larkin ordered that all his papers be destroyed after his death, and that Hardy wrote a poem in tribute to the wife he treated terribly when she was alive. He then proposed to his second wife by pointing out a plot in the cemetery next to his first wife’s grave and explaining that it would be hers! Auden couldn’t bear to edit his work so he would take the best of what he’d been working on and put it together with his favourite lines saved from his other unfinished works and make it work as a single poem!

 

Six Poets was an utter joy to read. I thought I would enjoy the part on Larkin the most seeing as he is one of my favourite poets already but Bennett introduced the other five poets in such a way that I very much enjoyed reading about them too and feel that I have a better understanding now.

I rate this book ten out of ten and I can't recommend this book highly enough!

 

Six Poets: From Hardy to Larkin is out today on Amazon.

 

I received this book from Yale University Press via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

This review was originally posted on my blog: RatherTooFondofBooks

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/review-six-poets-from-hardy-to-larkin-by-alan-bennett

Review: Dying to be Slim by Abby Beverley

Dying to be Slim: The slim woman inside Clara is dying to get out, but will that unzip a few home truths? - Abby Beverley

I was intrigued by the premise of this novel and couldn’t resist the chance to read it. It’s about Clara who, having been a single mum to four children for many years, turned to food for comfort. Many years later she is married to a lovely man, Jakey, who is a wonderful baker and just wants to make Clara happy by giving her everything she wants, including all the cake she desires. Clara ends up weighing 34 stone and being housebound.

 

Jakey and Clara have a teenage daughter together, along with Clara’s four grown up children from her previous relationship and although she doesn’t get to see them as often as she’d like she is very proud of the successful lives they have led her to believe they are living. Then one day a strange turn of events gives Clara the opportunity to step outside her body and become Starla, the thin person who has been living inside of her all these years. This leads to her discovering that all is not as she has been told. There are many shocks and surprises in store for her!

 

I really enjoyed this novel, it was hard to put down once I start reading. I really liked Clara and how her weight issues were handled very sensitively; it felt like quite an insight into what it’s like to be morbidly obese. I enjoyed Starla’s exploits even more though! It was such fun finding out what every member of her family was really like, how their lives were really lived and seeing how Starla/Clara reacted to, and dealt with, it all.

 

The ending of the novel was a surprise to me, all the way through I’d been expecting something different to happen. The epilogue tied things up so well and was the perfect ending to the novel.

 

I recommend this book if you’re looking for a warm, fun and heartfelt read about what it’s like to escape your own body and to see the side of people’s lives that you would never normally get to see.

 

I rated this book 8 out of 10.

 

Thanks to Troubadour Publishing Ltd and Net Galley for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Dying to be Slim is out now and is available on Amazon.

 

This review was originally posted on my blog: RatherTooFondofBooks

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/03/review-dying-to-be-slim-by-abby-beverley

Review: Breaking Away by Anna Gavalda

Breaking Away - Anna Gavalda

 

Breaking Away is a wonderful short novel about four siblings. Garance is travelling to a family wedding with her brother Simon and his wife Carine. Later in the journey, they sister Lola joins them. Once they arrive at the wedding the three siblings decide to go off to visit their brother Vincent in Tours leaving Carine behind.

 

This novel is ultimately a wonderful celebration of the love and friendship between siblings. Garance, Vincent, Simon and Lola have grown up together; they have shared memories and a lifelong connection. The day of the wedding they take time out to relive the youth they had together. Garance has such intense nostalgia during this day spent with her brothers and sister, she feels like she is borrowing time and wonders how many other days there will be like this. They’re all moving in different directions, which is natural for siblings to do but still such a wrench when they’ve always been so close.

 

Simon’s wife Carine at first seemed quite harsh on Garance and Lola but there doesn’t seem to be a specific reason for the irritation. As the novel goes on we learn more about Simon and Lola’s very close bond and it becomes apparent that Carine feels like an outsider to this strong family unit. She seems somewhat jealous of what the four share, even though she has two children with Simon and so has her own strong connections with him that will never be broken. It was lovely to hear Simon stick up for his wife later in the novel, and for him to explain to the others how much she means to him.

 

The part of the novel where Garance, Simon and Lola listen to a playlist that Vincent has made for them brought a lump to my throat. So many of people, including myself, must have made mix tapes for our younger siblings  It’s the shared history in all of those songs that you heard throughout your lives together, there is a bond that those outside will never quite understand or break though. 

 

I very much enjoyed this novel, I loved how it was a meandering wander through Garance’s thoughts and feelings throughout the course of a day. And it was wonderful to see siblings so closely bonded and wanting to spend time together, I don’t think that happens enough in novels.

 

I rated this book 8 out of 10 and highly recommend it.

 

I was kindly given a copy of this book to read and review by Gallic Books via Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.

 

Breaking Away is out now and available from Amazon.

 

This review was originally posted on my blog: RatherTooFondofBooks

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/review-breaking-away-by-anna-gavalda

Review: Bright Stars by Sophie Duffy

Bright Stars - Sophie Duffy

Bright Stars is about four people who became friends at university and their lives become intertwined one fateful evening in 1986. The story is narrated by Cameron Sparks in the form of his journal; it takes place in the present day, and during his time at university 25 years earlier.

 

Cameron Sparks is 46 years old and his life is spiralling out of control. He has been suspended from his job as a Ghost Tour guide in the underground vaults in Edinburgh. He is separated from his wife and is living back at home with his dad. Then one day a letter arrives out of the blue from Christie, a Canadian girl he knew during his university days.

 

This takes the story back to 1986 when Cameron was an awkward, cripplingly shy teenager trying to find his way at university. He finds a friend in Christie, and then by chance also becomes friends with wannabe rock star, Tommy, and he falls head over heels in unrequited love with Bex, a feminist activist. The unlikely foursome spend their time getting drunk, listening to or making music and attempting to be activists. Then one fateful night an accident happens and it changes everything.

 

None of the characters in this book are particularly likeable, they all have such flaws but it makes the novel so very readable. Tommo always seems to land on his feet, trouble finds him but he manages to shake it off over and over again. Bex is very focused on her causes, like being a sab, and then when she and Tommo get together her life becomes about him. Cameron is not a bad person, he’s just easily led because he so badly wants to feel like part of the crowd but it’s often hard to like him in the early part of the novel because he appears so feeble. Christie is probably the nicest of the group but is the one we seemed to get to know the least as Cameron wasn’t as fixated on her as he was on Tommo and Bex.

 

No one won on the fateful night when everything changed in the lives of these four but some of them lost more than others. This novel has such a depth to it, and has been going round and round in my head since I finished reading it. I’m finding it hard to review because there is so much I want to say but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

 

This novel is really about the fine line between good and bad. About how everyone has to take responsibility for the things they do and if they don’t it will catch up with them in some form or another. There are some people who take, or are given, more than their share of blame and heartache and still spend a large part of their lives trying to come to terms with that, and perhaps punishing others rather than the ones they know who should be punished. It is ultimately a novel about how the ghosts of the past are doomed to haunt us, about how redemption never comes in the way we expect it and how karma doesn’t run an exact course.

 

I rated this book 9 out of 10 and highly recommend this novel.

 

I received this book from Legend Press on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Bright Stars is released on 1st October and is available for pre-order now from Amazon

 

This review was originally posted on my blog: RatherTooFondofBooks

Source: http://rathertoofondofbooks.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/review-bright-stars-by-sophie-duffy