Book Review: Some Kind of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher

Some Kind of Wonderful

So book number 57 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge (yes I know I’ve smashed it *pats self on back*) is Giovanna Fletcher’s Some Kind of Wonderful.

When the love of your life says you’re not The One, who are you? Lizzy and Ian have been a couple since the first week of university. Now, after celebrating a decade together, everyone thinks they’re about to get engaged. Instead, a romantic escape to Dubai leaves Lizzy with no ring, no fiancé and no future. Lizzy is heartbroken – but through the tears, she sees an opportunity. This is her moment to discover what she’s been missing while playing Ian’s ideal ‘better half’. But how much has Ian changed her, and who should she be without him? Determined to discover who she is at heart, Lizzy sets out to rediscover the girl she was before – and, in the meantime, have a little fun… (Thanks Netgalley!)

I have (nearly) worked my way through all of Giovanna Fletchers novels (I still have to read Always With Love – exciting!) and I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t think anything could beat her first novel, Billy and Me.  I loved Sophie and Billy’s story, and I really believed that this was Giovanna’s best work.  Until I read Some Kind of Wonderful.

Lizzy is heartbroken.  She has spent 10 years of her life loving Ian, a man she believed to be The One.  She has also spent 10 years waiting for The Question.  Holidays and milestones have passed them by as she continued to wait for him to confirm her belief that they were meant to be together forever.  When the moment finally arrives however, Ian removes all her hopes and dreams for their future whilst waving a diamond under her nose.  Heartbroken, grief-stricken and direction-less, Lizzy returns home to her family to try to rediscover exactly who she is and who she wants to be post-Ian.

We follow Lizzy as she reminisces about who she was before she met Ian.  I particularly enjoyed her reminiscing about her nights out in Chelmsford and in Dukes, somewhere my friends and I spent many fun filled evenings in our late teens (most Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays to be precise!).

What I loved about this book is that it was not about a boy.  Yes, I appreciate that Ian ditched Lizzy, but that is only the beginning of the story.  This is a story about Lizzy the woman, a woman who needs to find out what she wants from life.  Discovering who she wants to be as a person, as a professional and what she may eventually want from a future relationship.  It is also about her discovering what she doesn’t want to be, and the breakdown in her relationship finally gives her some perspective about some areas of her life that she has stringently ignored due to her total focus on The Question.

This is chick-lit, but it is chick-lit that makes you consider your own position in the world.  It makes you think about what is really important, and whether you are really acknowledging your own needs as well as everyone elses.  Life is short, and everyone deserves to be happy.

I loved this novel, and it really does make me excited for what Giovanna will present to us all next.  I definitely recommend this thought-provoking, uplifting novel about self-discovery which really does highlight just how strong women really are.

Thanks to Netgalley, Penguin and Giovanna Fletcher for providing me with a pre-publication copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Book Review: Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe by Milly Johnson

Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe

Book number 56 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe by Milly Johnson.

When Connie discovers that Jimmy Diamond, her husband of more than twenty years, is planning to leave her for his office junior, her world is turned upside down. Determined to salvage her pride, she resolves to get her own back. Along with Della, Jimmy’s right-hand woman at his cleaning firm, Diamond Shine, and the cleaners who meet at the Sunflower Café, she’ll make him wish he had never underestimated her.

Then Connie meets the charming Brandon Locke, a master chocolatier, whose kindness starts to melt her soul. Can the ladies of the Sunflower Cafe help Connie scrub away the hurt? And can Brandon make her trust again? (Thanks Amazon)

So I picked up this novel expecting it to be about a community based around the Sunflower Cafe, but in all honesty it was actually about a cleaning firm.  If I had really truly known that (I obviously did not read the blurb properly) then I probably would not have picked up this book – a cleaning firm just does not seem to be the most exciting of settings.  However, if I had not picked up this book I would have been missing out.  This novel is all about its characters, with Connie Diamond as our central character.

Connie is a stereotypical housewife, as seen through the eyes of a mistress.  She is a frumpy Mum, someone who exists to look after her husband and ensure that he is happy.  She looks after their home, working hard to ensure that Jimmy can work hard at the business.

Della is Jimmy’s right-hand woman at Diamond Shine, and has been in love with him since the moment she started working for him – something that Jimmy is very quick to exploit, despite knowing that his business cannot function without her.

Together, Connie and Della are a formidable force following the discovery that Jimmy is having an affair with the very demanding office junior, Ivanka.  The affair is not the only discovery to be made by Connie, and fuelled by her anger, disappointment and grief she is compelled to take action against her lying, cheating husband.

This book is full of stereotypical characters – frumpy housewife, philandering husband, young demanding mistress and a bitter employee.  I believe however that these characters are absolutely perfect for this novel.  We follow Connie and Della as they both learn about themselves and each other, what they are capable of and what they can truly achieve if they are willing to work hard and accept nothing less than the best for themselves from life and relationships.

I really enjoyed following Connie on her journey of self-discovery (and who doesn’t love a bit of romance thrown in for a deserving character!), but I also enjoyed following Jimmy, a man who has clearly got himself in too deep with no way out.

This was a really enjoyable, easy-read piece of chick lit.  It is a story all about friendship the importance of those friendships which I really enjoyed.  I haven’t read anything by Milly Johnson before, but I have another couple of her books on my TBR list – I’m looking forward to diving in with them!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Book Review: Holy Crap! The World is Ending by Anna-Marie Abell

Holy Crap! The World is Ending

Book number 55 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is Holy Crap! The World is Ending by Anna-Marie Abell.

End Times Are Here!
Now you can eat whatever you want and not care if you gain weight.

The president has announced that Earth is going to collide with a rogue moon, and in the process, our entire planet is going to be smashed to bits. As one would expect, upon hearing this news, humans went ballistic. It was as if every sports team in the world lost their championship game at the same time. No car was left unrolled—but oddly enough, Taco Bell remained open and made unfathomable profits in the last days. Apparently, Doritos Locos® Tacos were a popular last meal.

Autumn (who for the purpose of this retelling asked to be portrayed as drool-inducing hot with kick-ass ninja skills) has just been handed the task of saving all of humanity. With the help of her unbelievably sexy alien boyfriend and her kleptomaniac friend with fire-retardant hair, Autumn takes a spaceship and races to save her fellow humans by using the Ark of the Covenant. Along the way, she discovers how sheltered people are from the truth of extraterrestrials and their power to either protect us or destroy us.

Stupid government. 
(Thanks Netgalley)

So, firstly I need to give you all a little context.  I. Love. Disaster. Movies.  This is a fact.  The cheesier the better to be quite honest.  2012 is probably my all time favourite, but I also love The Day After Tomorrow, Armageddon and Independence Day.  Great films.  I also have a love for the Syfy channel.  Some of the films on there are so terrible they are amazing!  Anyway, I digress.  Back to the book.

Naturally I chose this book based entirely on its title.  What is not to love about this amazing title: Holy Crap! The World is Ending.  How a Trip to the Bookstore Led to Sex With an Alien and the Destruction of Earth.  Amazing book title, and it definitely does what it says on the tin!

So this novel revolves around Autumn, a young women who is suddenly forced to address the fact that the Earth is about to be destroyed by a rogue moon.  Autumn is just a normal girl trying to find her place in the world.  What she actually finds is a super hot, sexy alien who may just be able to help her save humanity.

My first thoughts when I started reading this book were about the similarities with The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.  I love Douglas Adams novels (not the film though, sorry Martin Freeman.  Although Alan Rickman was the perfect casting for Marvin!). However, the more I read the more I realised that despite the light-hearted parts of this novel, the dark sections were far darker than I was expecting.  There was rape, murder and pillage rife in society following the announcement that humanity was over.  Mistrust of the aliens who were offering to save them caused so many people to give in to their primal urges of violence and ultimately, fear.

Once I’d finished the novel, I discovered that Anna-Marie Abell has a significant interest in learning about the Anunnaki and her research is very evident throughout this novel.  I found myself looking up some of the historical references to the Anunnaki myself (how did we survive before Google?!).  I was also interested to discover that this novel is intended to be the first in a series, and I will definitely be reading the next one.

This is a novel all about aliens, the history of Earth and ultimately the destruction of Earth.  It definitely falls within the sci-fi category, and so was out of my comfort zone, having only previously read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Fade Out by Patrick Tilley (FYI: I loved both) within this genre.  I now plan on exploring more sci-fi novels, so all recommendations are very welcome.

So if you like sci-fi, or would just like to try reading something a little different then I highly recommend that you pick up this novel.  It really highlighted the potential breakdown of society in light of devastating news, whilst also raising the question; How much do we really know about what is beyond our planet, and what information do our Governments really keep from us?

Thank you to Netgalley, Anna-Marie Abell and Alien Abduction Press for providing me with a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Book Review: The Gender Game by Ella Forrest

The Gender Game

Book number 54 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is The Gender Game by Ella Forrest.

A toxic river divides nineteen-year-old Violet Bates’s world by gender.
Women rule the East. Men rule the West.

Welcome to the lands of Matrus and Patrus.

Ever since the disappearance of her beloved younger brother, Violet’s life has been consumed by an anger she struggles to control. Already a prisoner to her own nation, now she has been sentenced to death for her crimes.

But one decision could save her life.

To enter the kingdom of Patrus, where men rule and women submit.

Everything about the patriarchy is dangerous for a rebellious girl like Violet. She cannot break the rules if she wishes to stay alive. But abiding by rules has never been her strong suit, and when she is thrust into more danger than she could have ever predicted, Violet is forced to sacrifice many things in the forbidden kingdom … including forbidden love.

In a world divided by gender, only the strongest survive… (Thanks Amazon)
So as we all know, Facebook now loves an advert.  Well this particular novel continues to pop up on my Facebook feed as a suggested good read for people who enjoy dystopian novels such as The Hunger Games and Divergent.  As I happened to enjoy both of these trilogies I thought this one might be worth a read, so I grabbed myself a copy of the eBook and off I went reading it!
The premise of this series is an interesting one…following a nuclear fallout only pockets of the world are inhabitable.  In this particular area men and women have fought for years, eventually choosing to separate, with women ruling the East side of a toxic river and the men ruling the West.
Violet is a young woman who has struggled with the concept of men being lesser beings on her side of the river, and this feeling is exacerbated when her younger brother is banished due to his personality traits which show he is unwilling to submit to women.  Her anger causes her to get in trouble until one day she takes it too far.  In exchange for her life, she is asked to undertake a secret mission within Patrus which she accepts.  Whilst she has no choice but to take on the secret mission, what she doesn’t appreciate is just how hard life in Patrus is for women.  They have no rights, and must submit to their husbands at all times.
Violet is forced to learn lessons about herself, about love and about the divided nations as she fights for her place in the world and seeks answers about the brother who was snatched from her years previously.
This series definitely intrigues me.  At a time when equality for men and women is so rife in society, this novel turns those ideas on their head as it explores what could happen when things are taken too far.  Violet is a very headstrong character, who I found really interesting to follow.  The relationships she forms are great, and you really do see her grow as a person as she is forced to create a public persona to enable her to successfully complete her mission.  I will definitely be reading the next book in the series, The Gender Secret, as soon as I am able to!
Have you read this series?  What did you think?
Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📗

Book Review: Love at the Italian Lake by Darcie Boleyn

Love at the Italian Lake

Book number 53 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is Love at the Italian Lake by Darcie Boleyn.

Sophia Bertoni discovers her boyfriend in bed with another woman, and realizes her life is going nowhere. Leaving her high-pressure job, she travels to Italy to stay with her grandmother while she figures out her next move. 

When Sophia – quite literally – bumps into devastatingly handsome Joe Lancaster her plans are turned upside down. As the two realize they’re both spending the summer in the same town, a love affair seems on the cards. 

But Sophia and Joe are both burdened by family secrets. Despite their attraction, will the sun set on Sophia and Joe’s romance – or will they find love at the Italian lake? (Thanks Netgalley!)

So having recently read Christmas at Conwenna Cove, I decided to dive in with Darcie Boleyn’s Love at the Italian Lake, and I’m rather glad I did!  Firstly I love novels set in Europe.  I love reading about the vibrancy of those European towns, the beautiful culture and the stunning scenery.  Darcie Boleyn did not disappoint with this novel.

When Sophia finds herself at a crossroads in her life she decides to travel to Italy to spend time with her grandmother while she considers what path she will take.  What she finds is a new relaxing way of life, a closer relationship with her Italian grandmother and some unexpected attraction to the ridiculously attractive Joe!

Whilst the setting of this novel is a major plus for me, the story didn’t disappoint either.  There are life decisions to be made, family dramas to overcome and a sizzling romance thrown in for good measure.  If I was to make any criticism it would just be that despite quitting her job Sophia does not seem to have any financial worries – she’s dressed in designer gear and not particularly worried about paying her mortgage.  This is certainly not something that has ever happened to me, but then again the reason I love fiction so much is for the escapism from reality, so it’s not really an issue!

I really enjoyed this novel, it was a perfect summer romance and just what I needed as the weather turns colder.  I definitely want to book myself a trip to Italy and find myself a hunky man to enjoy the trip with (but shhh, don’t tell my husband!). I recommend you go out and get yourself a copy of this lovely novel.  Let me know what you think once you’ve read it!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Book Review: The Woolly Hat Knitting Club by Poppy Dolan

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club

Book number 52 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is the new novel by Poppy Dolan, The Woolly Hat Knitting Club.

Finding happiness one stitch at a time

When Dee Blackthorn’s brother, JP, breaks both wrists not only is he in need of a helping hand – or two – but the knitting shop he owns can’t function. Sisterly duties take Dee away from her demanding job and she is unceremoniously fired amidst rumours of inappropriate behaviour. Dee is certain that her hot-shot nemesis, Ben, is behind it all but has no proof.

When Dee bumps into an old friend who is a new mum to a premature baby she convinces JP to enlist his knitting pals to make lots of tiny woolly hats. Then Ben turns up denying involvement in Dee’s sacking and she ropes him into helping the knitting cause. 

But before long Dee’s good intentions backfire and she risks losing her friends, her family and Ben, who’s turned out to be not so bad after all…(Thanks Netgalley!)

Dee Blackthorn is a high flying professional who thrives on working hard and making money.  She could not be more different from her brother JP, who runs a knitting shop and blogs regularly about all his knitting pursuits.  When JP accidentally breaks both his wrists (that bunting is a danger!!) Dee finds herself rushing to his aid.  Following her brief absence from work she finds herself fired from the job she loves (which of course is her nemesis Ben’s fault) and back home, adjusting to a slower pace of life.  What follows is Dee struggling to find herself again as she has to re-evaluate her life up until this point.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of this book – I have no idea how to knit for a start, but now I feel like I should learn!  I loved the fact that the knitting theme of this book revolves around a man rather than a woman, it really turns the idea of knitting being an older womans pastime on its head.  I also liked seeing Dee, JP’s sister, as the ‘bread-winner’.  She was a driven woman who knew what she wanted from her career, which in turn enabled her to financially support her brother to achieve his dreams.

This novel also explores what Dee gives up in order to pursue her dream career.  She did not manage to maintain friendships or hold down relationships, something that she wasn’t able to see until she was back home helping her brother.  This is a novel about a woman who when faced with serious life changes is forced to rethink her priorities and work out what she really wants.  Thrown in for good measure we have family, friendship, love and knitting!  This is a great easy read, and I really enjoyed it. Go grab yourself a copy!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Book Review: Pretty Broken Girl by Jeana E. Mann

Pretty Broken Girl

So, book 51 of my Goodreads Reading Challenge is Pretty Broken Girl by Jeana E. Mann.

‘Have you ever done something so horrible, so shameful that you can’t look at yourself in the mirror? I have. I divorced the love of my life. I thought I was doing the right thing for him and for my family. I had no idea he’d walk through my office door ten years later as my new boss, more handsome than ever, determined to make me pay for my sins. My knees go weak every time I look at him. Too bad he hates me. He’s determined to make my life hell. The only thing I know for sure? We can still heat up the sheets. He thinks he can break me, but I’m not the girl I was.

From the bedroom to the boardroom, Sam and Dakota are locked in a battle of wits and desire. One of them will break. One of them will pay. Both of them want to win. Neither of them expects to fall in love—again.’ (Thanks Amazon)

So I grabbed this whilst it was a freebie on Amazon for the Kindle (and it still is, so grab it while you can if it takes your fancy)

Pretty Broken Girl is the first in the Pretty Broken series and is about Dakota Atwell and Sam Seaforth. Dakota and Sam had a forbidden love – Dakota’s mother was the ‘help’ in the Seaforth house, and as such, Sam’s father disapproved when they fell in love.  Despite this disapproval they continued to see each other, breaking away from the Seaforth family and getting married.  Their love was all they needed, until Sam’s father made Dakota an offer she couldn’t refuse.

Ten years later, divorced, Dakota finds herself confronted by her new boss: Sam.  The feelings of hurt and betrayal bubble back to the surface as they are forced to work together, making each of them confront the love that never really left either of them.

This was a good easy read, and it was free which makes it even better!  I found the story a little silly in places (without giving anything away, I’m not convinced Dakota would have chosen to divorce Sam considering how much he had already given up for her but that’s just my opinion).  There were very few surprises, but you don’t always want surprises in your novels so this is not necessarily a problem.   The characters however were well-rounded and believable, making them enjoyable to follow.  The ending rather predictably set up the book for the next in the series.  I won’t be rushing to get the next book, but it doesn’t mean I won’t read it at some point in the future.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖