Review: Reasons Not to Fall in Love by Kirsty Moseley

Reasons Not to Fall in LoveTitle: Reasons Not to Fall in Love

Author: Kirsty Moseley

Pages: 92 Pages

The Blurb

Right Man, Wrong timing!

Young mum Bronwyn Reynolds is devoted to her little boy Theo, but she’s married to a not so devoted husband! Juggling two jobs to make ends meet, Bronwyn’s self-esteem is at an all-time low.

Enter Harrison Baxter.

Harrison is confident, flirty and breathtakingly handsome – and everything Bronwyn’s husband is not! What’s worse is that she knows every sexy thought about him is forbidden, which makes him all the more tempting.

The only woman that ladies’ man Harrison has ever wanted is one he can never have. Bronwyn has left her mark on him, and he can’t get her out of his mind no matter how hard he tries!

Bronwyn and Harrison have every reason not to fall in love, but are they brave enough to break all the rules?

For fans of The Boy Who Sneaks in my Bedroom Window, this short story is unputdownable!

The Review

I picked up Reasons Not to Fall in Love because I absolutely adored Kirsty Moseley’s The Boy Who Sneaks in My Bedroom Window. It seems weird really doesn’t it? We liked one book so we pick up another by the same author hoping for the same magic to be recreated. You would think that this can only end in one of two ways: we either love it or we hate it. Wrong. There is a sneaky third option of jut liking a book. That is how I felt about Reasons Not to Fall in Love.

The story is about Bronwyn Reynolds, a small town waitress who has a crap life. She is used by her husband, she works hard so she can look after their child and she has lost her sense of self. The story is about her finding out that there is someone special under her waitressing pinafore and it takes the love of a man to help her realise that.

At 92 pages long you have to be impressed by the heart warming story that Moseley has managed to cram in. You don’t feel cheated by the characters, or by the story. It is a story well told and is another that I like to think of as a commute read – one for the commute to and from work. I liked it but it didn’t blow me away.

Reasons Not to Fall in Love by Kirsty Moseley is available now.

Follow Kirsty Moseley (@KirstyEMoseley) on Twitter.

3 Stars

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After You by Jojo Moyes

The Blurb

Lou Clark has lots of questions.

Like how it is she’s ended up working in an airport bar, spending every shift watching other people jet off to new places.

Or why the flat she’s owned for a year still doesn’t feel like home.

Whether her close-knit family can forgive her for what she did eighteen months ago.

And will she ever get over the love of her life.

What Lou does know for certain is that something has to change.

Then, one night, it does.

But does the stranger on her doorstep hold the answers Lou is searching for – or just more questions?

Close the door and life continues: simple, ordered, safe.

Open it and she risks everything.

But Lou once made a promise to live. And if she’s going to keep it, she has to invite them in . . .

The Review

I was scared to read After You by Jojo Moyes, terrified even. You see, Me Before You was one of those books; one of those rare books that comes along and steals your heart. You would think that with the amount of books that I read that it would happen a lot but in reality it is still a really rare thing.

With Me Before You I spent the final 80 pages in an emotional ball covered with snot and tears – not a pretty image, I know – and even though it has been over three years since I read it I still don’t think that I am over the story of Will and Lou.

So, with some trepidation, I picked up After You and started reading and honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t know what I was expecting but somehow Jojo Moyes has managed to tell Louisa’s story post Will and still retain the dignity of their relationship. I think that was what I was most worried about. I didn’t want the beloved character of Will to just be forgotten about and Moyes managed to walk that thin line of staying respectful to what developed in Me Before You whilst showing that you can (and should) move on after a tragedy.

I loved the twists in the story and the introduction of new characters and how they were woven seamlessly into the narrative.

Overall, After You was an uplifting read that balanced the heartbreak and sadness of Me Before You.

After You by Jojo Moyes is available now.

Follow Jojo Moyes (@jojomoyes) on Twitter.

Review: The Birthday that Changed Everything by Debbie Johnson

The Birthday that Changed EverythingThe Blurb

‘A lovely, emotion-filled, giggle-inducing story’ – Sunday Times bestselling author Milly Johnson

She wanted a birthday surprise, just not the one she got…

The last thing Sally Summers expected from her husband on her special day was that he’d leave her for a Latvian lap dancer half her age. So with her world in tatters, Sally jets off to Turkey for some sun, sea and sanctuary.

The Blue Bay resort brings new friends and the perfect balm for Sally’s broken heart in gorgeous Dubliner James. He’s just the birthday present she needs. And when the chemistry between them continues to spark as the holiday ends, Sally wonders if this is more than just a summer fling.

But James has scars of his own and Sally isn’t quite ready to turn her back on her marriage. This birthday might have changed everything, but what will the next one bring?

The Review

Some authors just do it for me. They write stories that I just fall completely in love with. Debbie Johnson is one of those authors.

In her latest novel The Birthday that Changed Everything we meet Sally. She’s about to turn forty. Her daughter, Lucy, makes it obvious that she has no respect for Sally – she eff’s and jeff’s with vim; her son, bless him tries to steady the rocky relationship but even his patience is wearing thing; and she has a husband who has up sticks and left her for lap dancer. Things aren’t looking good for Sally but in a fit of defiance against her crumbling life she books a family holiday that changes her life.

What I loved about The Birthday that Changed Everything is that Johnson breaks down a lot of societal walls. She has a woman who knows that her life isn’t perfect. She knows her relationship is obviously not perfect and she does not have the perfect family (i.e. muck mouth of a daughter). Yes, what Debbie Johnson has so accurately captured in her novel is that people aren’t always perfect and can’t be pigeon-holed. Sally makes you feel ok about yourself. She makes you see that life is messy and you are not always going to be the prettiest, youngest or slimmest person but…and this is the important bit…you can still nab the hunkiest man around. Yes, I used the word “hunkiest” and I am not ashamed of it.

In all seriousness, Debbie Johnson’s The Birthday that Changed Everything is a story with a big heart. It will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. I laughed, covered my face in agony and shame, screamed in frustration and felt the truly full happy feeling that you get when you turn the final page of a great story. Sally was the perfect protagonist; Bridget Jones, eat your heart out. There is a new hot mess in town!

The Birthday that Changed Everything by Debbie Johnson is available from 28th January 2016.

Follow Debbie Johnson (@debbiemjohnson) on Twitter.

5 Stars

Review: The Other Girl by Pam Jenoff

The Other GirlTitle: The Other Girl

Author: Pan Jenoff

Pages: 21 Pages

The Blurb

One woman’s determination to protect a child from the dangers of war will force her to face those lurking closer to home…

Life in rural Poland during WWII brings a new set of challenges to Maria, estranged from her own family and left alone with her in-laws after her husband is sent to the front. For a young, newly pregnant wife, the days are especially cold, the nights unexpectedly lonely. The discovery of a girl hiding in the barn changes everything… Hannah is fleeing the German police who are taking Jews like her to special camps. Ignoring the risk to her own life and that of her unborn child, Maria is compelled to help. But in these dark days, no one can be trusted, and soon Maria finds her courage tested in ways she never expected and herself facing truths about her own family that the quiet village has kept buried for years.

From the international bestselling author of The Kommandant’s Girl comes a searing historical companion novella to The Winter Guest

The Review

The Other Girl is a sweet short story in the ilk of The Book Thief. It is about a young pregnant girl called Maria who finds a Jewish girl hiding in her basement. The story – like a lot of texts – is showing the kindness of others in treacherous circumstances.

The Other Girl was a good story but was just a little too short. However, if the story had been fully developed Pam Jenoff would be open to criticism that her story was too similar to The Book Thief. It is definitely worth a read. It is what I like to call a commute story, one to read on the way to work.

The Other Girl by Pam Jenoff is available now.

3 Stars

Review: Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil YapaThe Blurb

A heart-stopping debut about protest and riot…

1999. Victor, homeless after a family tragedy, finds himself pounding the streets of Seattle with little meaning or purpose. He is the estranged son of the police chief of the city, and today his father is in charge of one of the largest protests in the history of Western democracy.

But in a matter of hours reality will become a nightmare. Hordes of protesters – from all sections of society – will test the patience of the city’s police force, and lives will be altered forever: two armed police officers will struggle to keep calm amid the threat of violence; a protester with a murderous past will make an unforgivable mistake; and a delegate from Sri Lanka will do whatever it takes to make it through the crowd to a meeting – a meeting that could dramatically change the fate of his country. In amongst the fray, Victor and his father are heading for a collision too.

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, set during the World Trade Organization protests, is a deeply charges novel showcasing a distinct and exciting new literary voice.

The Review

There are certain types of novels that just do it for me; I love multi-perspective narratives whereby every character is linked in some way. Fortunately for me Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa was exactly that type.

The story of Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist centres on the riots that took place in Seattle in 1999 during a World Trade Organisation summit. It highlights the positives and negatives from both sides of the argument. Our main characters all have agendas and at various points of the narrative you both agree and disagree with them vehemently.

Take, for example, Park: the rogue policeman. Throughout the novel you are presented with a man of the law – who, as a society, we assume will be a good fair person. Yet his brutality and bullying nature makes him unlikable, terrifying even. However, we learn that he is a hero. One who has sacrificed his own life to save children in another riot.

This is a brilliant skill and I love books that usurp your original opinions about a character or a theme. Jodi Picoult is that master of this and I think, based on the fact that Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist is Sunil Yapa’s debut novel, that Picoult may have someone snapping at her heels.

This is a brilliant book and is set to make waves this year.

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of aFist by Sunil Yapa is available from February 4th 2016.

Follow Sunil Yapa (@sunilyapa) on Twitter.

Review: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

The Readers of Broken Wheel RecommendThe Blurb

Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended.

Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory. All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life.

But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town.

Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.

The Review

Firstly, let me just say that I am full of warm and happy feelings right now. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald is a lovely, wonderful and heart-warming story and one that was a pleasure to read.

The story focuses on a small Podunk town in Iowa called Broken Wheel. Sara, a young Swedish girl has gone to visit her pen-friend Amy. Unfortunately, on the day that Sara arrives she finds out that Amy has recently died. The whole town take Sara under their wind and Sara pays them back in the best possible way…through the love of books.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend appealed to me based wholly on the title. I’m not ashamed to admit that I am swayed by title and book cover. What was completely wonderful is that the inside of the book was just as lovely as the outside. It had warmth to it, a gentle build up of story. It wasn’t all bells and whistles with mindboggling escapades so if you are looking for the thrill factor then this isn’t for you.

What I loved more than anything is that Katarina Bivald (and indeed translator Alice Menzies) has managed to verbalise the love of books. It is one that I, myself, have often struggled to describe in an adequate way.

Overall, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald is lovely. That is probably the best way to describe it. Lovely.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald is available now.

4 Stars

Review: More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell

More Weird Things Customers Say in BookshopsTitle: More Weird Things Customers in Bookshops

Author: Jen Campbell

Pages: 121 Pages

The Blurb

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops was a Sunday Times bestseller, and could be found displayed on bookshop counters up and down the country. The response to the book from booksellers all over the world has been one of heartfelt agreement: it would appear that customers are saying bizarre things all over the place – from asking for books with photographs of Jesus in them, to hunting for the best horse owner’s manual that has a detailed chapter on unicorns.

Customer: I had such a crush on Captain Hook when I was younger. Do you think this means I have unresolved issues?

More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops has yet more tales from the antiquarian bookshop where Jen Campbell works, and includes a selection of ‘Weird Things…’ sent in from other booksellers across the world. The book is illustrated by the BAFTA winning Brothers McLeod.

The Review

Much like I say in my review of Jen Campbell’s Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, the sequel – More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops – is equally funny. The things that people say and comment on are hilarious. Campbell uses the same winning format; she exposes her own experiences as a bookseller and those of other people in the industry across the world.

It is charming and hilarious. There isn’t really more that I can say about it than that.

I genuinely hope that Jen Campbell continues writing more of the Weird Things series because it is such a tonic.

More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell is available now.

You can follow Jen Campbell (@aeroplanegirl) on Twitter.

Review: Love Gently Falling by Melody Carlson

Love Gently FallingThe Blurb

Rita Jansen is living her dream as a hairstylist in Hollywood when her father calls with news that her mother has suffered a stroke. When she gets home to Chicago, Rita finds her mother is healing but facing a long recovery. Worse, without being able to run their family-owned salon, her mother could lose the business. Rita decides to help, but she only has until Valentine’s Day to come up with a plan.

As Rita takes her mother’s place at work, the nearby skating rink she loved as a child brings back fond memories. Rita also finds herself renewing friendships with her childhood best friend, Marley, as well as her classmate Johnny. Although they now lead such seemingly different lives, Rita is surprised by how well she and Johnny connect and how far he will go to help her. Though Rita believes Johnny is only being kind, with romance kindling in the air and on the ice, their friendship may just fall into something more.

The Review

Admittedly, I decided to read Love Gently Falling is because the front cover was misleading. I believed it to be a Christmas Story. It isn’t.

However, it was a surprisingly good novella; a novella that ticks all the boxes for a romantic story; a hot dude, a cute girl and a series of misleading information that may or may not lead the romantic leads to not get together in the end.

Ok, so it all seems rather bog standard but it is actually a lot more interesting than I have made it out to be.

So we have Rita who has returned home because her mother is unwell. She meets up with an old friend (Johnny) and sparks start to fly. In this will-they-won’t-they story, Carlson has you chomping at the bit to get to the end to see how things turn out. Now as all romance readers know the love story has to have a happy ending. It is part of the convention of the love story. However, I think I was a little disappointed by the cliché this time – whilst I will defend Love Gently Falling in that it is well written, you have to ask yourself the situation was too romanticised for a modern day audience. Conventional happy endings don’t always apply and it is something that I think I personally found too saccharine.

Overall, Love Gently Falling is a good, quick and easy read.

Love Gently Falling by Melody Carlson is available now.

Review: Holding Out for a Hero by Victoria Van Tiem

Holding Out for a HeroThe Blurb

The problem with first love is that it never truly dies . . . Libby London fell in love with the eighties, came of age in the nineties, and now the twenty-first century is baffling her. Her New-York-City style is more, erm, vintage tragedy than retro babe and her penchant for All Things Eighties might just be what’s holding her back in matters of life and love . . . At least that’s what her well-meaning friends think. They’ve staged a #80sIntervention in an effort to bring Libby bang up to date. What with her dreaded birthday party, friends’ madcap ambush, and being forced to relocate her vintage shop, Libby’s nearing breaking point! Will she ever be able to move on when the one she loves keeps her in the past?

The Review

I’m going to say it straight. Holding Out for a Hero left me feeling conflicted. There are lots of things that I liked about this book but there are a handful of things that I didn’t like.

Firstly, the concept of the novel: I loved it. I loved the link to the 80s movies and the music and the love of all things kitsch. As a child of the 80s it was a nice time-tunnel. I liked the use of The Breakfast Club as the basis of Libby’s life changing mission.

However, I don’t think I really liked the character of Libby. I think she didn’t appreciate her friends or what they were trying to do for her. I think this is definitely a personal taste thing. I am sure other people will love the character but Libby and I just didn’t gel.

What I thought was quite wonderful about Holding Out for a Hero is the way Victoria Van Tiem dealt with the issue of depression. It was sensitive and not at all judgemental. For this Victoria Van Tiem should be proud.

Holding Out for a Hero by Victoria Van Tiem is available now.

Follow Victoria Van Tiem (@VVTiem) on Twitter.

35 Stars

Review: 99 Reasons to Hate Cats by Tom Briscoe

Title: 99 Reasons to Hate Cats 

Author: Tom Briscoe

Pages: 114 Pages

The Blurb

A book for people who love and (love to) hate cats 99 Reasons to Hate Cats was born out of deep familiarity. It shows the many ways in which the Felis Domesticus can drive their owners mad yet maintain their keeper’s affections. Read, laugh and see if you find yourself (and your cat — or cats) in these pages. The 99 reasons are all amusingly illustrated with original cartoon art. At the book’s end, there are short biographies of the 4 real life cats (Booger, Moses, Cookie and Fluffy) which inspired the book.

The Review

I love cats. I would be a crazy cat lady except that I am not allowed to have cats – I have heard that is a pre-requisite for becoming a crazy cat lady. I decided to read this simple graphic book to cure me of my love for all things feline.

It did not cure me

Sure cats have their faults. Rubbing their bum in your face, loud obnoxious mating and loud obnoxious fighting, malting. But I just love them. One way to make me melt is to show me a picture of a kitten. Fortunately for me, the internet is made for cat lovers. Hazzah!

99 Reasons to Hate Cats by Tom Briscoe is a perfectly funny book for cat lovers and haters alike. Read it!

99 Reasons to Hate Cats by Tom Briscoe is available now.