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Rachel’s Holiday By Marian Keyes

Rachel’s HolidayIt’s hard to believe that it’s 25th years since the Irish wonder that is Marian Keyes released ‘Rachel’s Holiday’

Meet Rachel Walsh. She’s been living it up in New York City, spending her nights talking her way into glamorous parties before heading home in the early hours to her adoring boyfriend, Luke. But her sensible older sister showing up and sending her off to actual rehab wasn’t quite part of her plan. She’s only agreed to her incarceration because she’s heard that rehab is wall-to-wall jacuzzis, spa treatments and celebrities going cold turkey – plus it’s about time she had a holiday. Saying goodbye to fun and freedom will be hard – and losing the man who might just be the love of her life will be even harder. But will hitting rock bottom help Rachel learn to love herself, at last?

I remember reading this book on a girls holiday whilst lying on a beach in Santa Ponsa and trying to stop my pasty Irish skin from burning. I remember vividly on that holiday grabbing every spare minute that I could find to keep reading as I connected with Rachel on so many levels at that time. In an unhappy relationship, envying the singletons around me and wondering where I was going with my life. It was a complex time.

The story is seen solely through the rose tainted glasses of Rachel, who’s refusing to believe that she has a drug addiction as well as tried to take her own life. After being taken away from the bright lights of New York to the lino lined floor of the Cloisters, she’s hoping to run into celebrities to make her stay more adventurous but instead she’s having to face up to her ghosts and take a long hard look at herself.

Rachel is the woman that all women can identity with, insecure, unhappy, depressed, low self esteem. Her troubles are as long as a Tesco club card receipt, yet we all get her and think of her an inspiration, a shining light of courage and bravery.

This book is a witty and warm hearted tale about substance abuse, addiction and depression and Marian has handled these tough issues with such wit and charm that has made her one of the world’s most favourite authors. Her books have gone on to have inspired countless authors including an aspiring author, like myself. And it’s wonderful to hear that we will be meeting Rachel in 2022 with Marian’s new book called ‘Again Rachel’.

The story is written in the past and present tense, leading up to the fateful night of overdose and right from the start, this book is a hard hitting read, As Rachel adapts to her new life with like-minded people, who she refuses to believe that she has anything in common with. They have to face daily meetings with counsellors, her inmates as well as their significant others as they try to realise the damage that they are doing to themselves and others.

To the outside world, Rachel is the life and soul of the party and it really does make for sobering reading as it finally dawns on Rachel, the consequences of her behaviour and the effect it has on others and this is genuinely heartbreaking reading.

In true Marian style, no book is complete without the drama of the Walsh family, their competitive and bitchy nature but fiercely loyal behaviour made for warm reading. Whilst the inmates at the Cloisters, were a huge variety of personalities that riled and connected with each other, are always there with a shoulder or a bar of chocolate for support.

It’s hard to put together a review of this book, as no amount of wordage can really sing the praise of how brilliant ‘Rachel’s Holidays’ is. It’s coming of age, it’s witty, it’s bleak, it’s inspirational and at the heart of it all, it’s a love story – about a woman falling back in love with herself.

A book that I could easily read over and over again and still snort and cry at, happy anniversary to ‘Rachel’s Holidays’, a triumph of a story that’s written with such humour and charm but tackles substance and addiction abuse with skill.

You can buy ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Deadly Little Lies By Stephanie DeCarolis

Deadly Little Lies‘Deadly Little Lies’ is the latest book by Stephanie DeCarolis.

Juliana Daniels finally has the life she’s always dreamed of. A loving husband, a career as an attorney, and a cozy apartment in Manhattan to call home. But when she gets a message from an old college friend, her blood runs cold. Remember me? Juliana drops her phone as though she’s been scalded. The name Jenny Teller shines out from the screen… but Jenny can’t have sent that message. Because Jenny is dead. Juliana’s other college friends have all received the same message. The four of them are the only ones who know the truth about the night Jenny died. It’s a secret they have kept buried for thirteen years. With ‘Jenny’ now blackmailing them and threatening to expose their secret, only one thing is certain. Someone else knows the truth about that night… or one of them is lying.

If you enjoy a good thriller that keeps you on your toes then look no further as ‘Deadly Little Lies’ has all the makings of a gripping drama.

Written in the past and present tense through the eyes of Julianna, who’s married and happy in her job. Until one day, her past pops up and the secrets that she’s kept hidden are coming to the surface. But it’s not only her that’s being threatened but her college friends Tori and Nessa. Making them all suspicious of each other as well as former friend and all round nasty girl Emily who enjoyed tormenting her peers in college.

The story flows at a fast paced speed that immediately held my attention as it flowed in different tenses and really set the story up nicely. Giving a clear insight into each character’s role and involvement leading up to the present time.

Right from offset I liked Julia, from her college days when she’s insecure and lacking in confidence and wanting to be liked by her friends and boys and how she blossoms into a confident woman who’s settled in her life. She makes for a relatable but also fascinating protagonist in the story, as she leaves the reader with uncertainty at times and makes it difficult to judge others at times.

Riddled with drama, suspense, college bitchiness and veiled threats, ‘Deadly Little Lies’ is a cleverly written psychological thriller that made for tense reading!

You can pre-order ‘Deadly Little Lies’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 26th November 2021.

Lucy Vine

Lucy VineLucy Vine is a journalist who writes for many magazines and newspapers including ‘Grazia’,’Stylist’ and ‘Glamour’. Her first book called ‘Hot Mess’ was published in 2017 and her fourth book about friendship called ‘Bad Choices is out now.

  1. For readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
    Hello! My name is Lucy Vine, I’m an author of four books, ‘Hot Mess’, ‘What Fresh Hell’, ‘Are We Nearly There Yet?’ and ‘Bad Choices,’ which was out in June. I’ve been writing my whole life, but started writing professionally with a job on magazines when I was 20. I worked for lots of different magazines over the years before speaking with a publisher about an idea for a novel. I worked closely with that first editor and we produced ‘Hot Mess’, which came out in 2017!
  2. Can you tell us about your new book called ‘Bad Choices’?
    ‘Bad Choices’ is a love story – but a friendship love story. It’s about Natalie and Zoe and spans 20 years, with each chapter skipping a year. They first meet aged 14, in the school loos, where they bond over periods and a shared birthday. From there we follow their many ups and downs over the years, which are hopefully funny and heartwarming.
  3. You’ve got quite a unique style of writing your books. Can you tell us about it?
    I’ve actually had quite a different style of writing for all my books, to be honest! The first one was very collaborative, working with my Orion editor, Katie Seaman. I wrote 10k words a week and sent it over to her for her to read. She gave me encouragement to keep going and guidance when I was heading in a direction that wasn’t working. And it meant we had a completed book in two months… I haven’t done that with the other three, as I had a bit more confidence in what I was doing. But I do still write very quickly (I’ve just finished no. 5 and it took me about six weeks).
  4. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    Ooh, this feels too much like my English lit degree, haha. I have the worst memory for this kind of thing, and if I give you an answer, it would only be one I’d googled to make myself sound clever, so I won’t.
  5. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    I’m lucky to have met quite a few authors over the last few years (authors are the nicest people!), so I’d probably gather some I already know I get on well with! I know it would be super fun having a book club with Daisy Buchanan, Lindsey Kelk, Paige Toon, Holly Bourne, Andi Osho, Isy Suttie, Ayisha Malik and Isabelle Broom. Can we throw in some book bloggers too? Also the nicest people ever!
  6. Bad Choices

  7. What’s your favourite book of all time?
    You CANNOT ask me this! That is an impossible question! To be honest, the answer changes a lot and is very dependent on my mood. I comfort re-read a lot of Marian Keyes, who is my queen forever. Maybe Marian’s ‘Anybody Out There’ or ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ or ‘Watermelon’? Or ‘The Day of the Triffids’ if I’m feeling apocalyptic, or ‘Catch 22’ if I’m feeling giggly, or ‘Tess of the D’Urberville’ if I’m feeling weepy.
  8. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    This will sound silly, but the writing. There is so much to the process that isn’t writing – planning, timelines, thinking, editing, rewriting, networking, crying – but those weeks when I’m just writing a first draft, and I know exactly what I’m doing and where it’s going, is an absolute unparalleled joy. It’s why I do this job.
  9. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    I would Sellotape all of Marian Keyes’ books together so it becomes a compilation. That’s one.

    For no. 2 I would bring along Hanya Yanagihara’s ‘A Little Life’ because I loved it and have been meaning to reread it for ages and it’s fucking long, so would keep me occupied.
    And 3. I would bring along my own first book, ‘Hot Mess’. Not even to read, just because looking at it and knowing I wrote a book gives me the best feeling.

  10. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    I know it’s obvious, but read and write endlessly. You’re finetuning an art, and that’s how you do it. But also, you need to find your bravery. You need so much bravery to put your work out there for judgement. I know so many writers who have spent their whole life re-writing a manuscript without sending it out to agents. And that’s so easily done. You have to push the button and be brave. You’ll also need that bravery for the negative reviews and disappointments, ha.
  11. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    My dogs, Ivy and Teddy. They’re a big part of the dream; sitting in my garden office (that I just got! I love it!), writing novels with dogs at my feet. DREAM.
  12. And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I’m not allowed to tell you much about it, but I’ve just finished my first draft of book 5, which was so much fun to write. It’ll be announced in the new year I think, and I am here to give you all the details then!

    You can find Lucy Vine on Twitter and her website

    You can buy ‘Bad Choices’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops

The Hapless Husband And His Curious Wife By Helen E. Field

The Hapless Husband And His Curious Wife‘The Hapless Husband And His Curious Wife’ is the second book in the The De’Ath Family Antics series.

Essex girl Brooke secretly works for Lady Townsend, who’s attempting to transform her into a lady, by offering her an eye-opening education. She exposes Brooke to some mind-boggling experiences and a class of people a million miles away from her own, resulting in some seriously funny social faux pas along the way. Brooke’s outlook changes as she takes advantage of these opportunities to better herself, with often comic results! Meanwhile her husband Dean is clueless as to why his normally ditsy wife appears to be acting so weird. Meanwhile, Dean has been set a challenge by his boss. He’s been tasked with making their workforce the most diverse in the industry, but Dean’s unorthodox approach to recruiting, reveals that he struggles with the very concept of what he considers a ‘woke’ request. In addition, he’s still keeping his mystery shopping side hustle a secret from his demanding wife, ensuring he gets some ‘me time’ away from her and their boisterous toddler Paige.

The second book in the De’ath series is another rollercoaster of a story packed with wit and drama that made for fun reading.
We meet glamorous Essex couple Brooke and Dean who are happily married but are leading secret lives. As much as Dean wants Brooke to be a stay at home wife, Brooke desperately wants something more from life and with Lady Townsend’s help develops a keen interest in art, culture and sophistication. Whilst Brooke is learning, Dean is pretending to join gyms and make his place of employment a more diverse company.

This book is a fun story, it’s warm, reactive and witty with both Brooke and Dean being the perfect entertaining couple. Their interactions with each other and other characters make for fun reading. I particularly enjoyed Brooke’s interaction with Lady Townsend as we see her develop in knowledge and grow in confidence and blossom in the story. At the heart of it, she’s a true Essex girl with a huge heart and personality and shines throughout the story and seems unaware of the impact that she has on others.

Dean is another great character. He’s quite old fashioned in his thinking with wanting Brooke to stay at home but at the core he’s wanting to provide the best for his family and this is lovely to see.

I enjoyed this story, it’s lighthearted and the perfect pick me up. I did find it slightly puzzling how Dean and Brooke keep their side hustles from each other, but then if they were honest with each other the story wouldn’t be half as entertaining as they find themselves in madcap scenarios with outlandish lies.

‘The Hapless Husband and His Curious Wife’ is a welcome distraction from the outside world with witty one liners and hilarious situations that will have you snorting throughout.

You can buy ‘The Hapless Husband And His Curious Wife’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

A Simple Wish By Rosie Goodwin

A Simple Wish’A Simple Wish’ is the latest historical fiction book by Rosie Goodwin.

Ruby Carter works hard in her parents’ bakery. Whilst life isn’t easy, she’s happy enough – her gentle mother protects young Ruby from her cruel father and loves her unconditionally. So, when her mother falls seriously ill, Ruby is heartbroken. Then, from her deathbed, her mother reveals that Ruby was adopted. Stricken by grief and alone with the violent man she called her father, Ruby feels she has no choice but to flee. At just fifteen, homeless and alone she is relieved when a kindly stranger named Mrs Bamber takes pity on poor Ruby and welcomes her into her home. But soon, Ruby learns Mrs Bamber is not as generous as she first seemed – she forces Ruby into a life of crime as a jewel thief in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter. With nothing to her name and nowhere to go Ruby has no choice but to go along with it, despite the guilt and shame she feels. But Ruby is determined that she will atone for what she’s done, and be reunited with her birth parents. Ruby’s only wish is to find her family.

I’m not the biggest fan of historical fiction but this is the second book that I’ve read in by Rosie in one sitting so maybe my opinions are changing.

15-year-old Ruby who after her mother has died discovered that she’s adopted. After being attacked by her father, she flees the family home and begins a journey of her own, finding her place in life as well as looking for her birth mother. This journey is a chaotic one where Ruby has to battle her morals before being sent to live with a family and being the house maid to a young spoilt woman who’s jealous of Ruby’s pretty looks, kind nature and natural flair at creating distinctive jewellery. Miranda’s jealousy towards Ruby ends up with Ruby being sent to a new workplace where she’s able to hone her skill as well as relax and not worry about being attacked or being accused of being a thief.
I loved this story and was able to comfortably sink in it and get lost in the 1800’s world, a world filled with rags to riches tales with impressive jewels. Ruby is a lovely character that is instantly likable and as a reader, you really want her to be happy and finally belong somewhere. Throughout the story, she’s faced with many horrendous challenges and each time she comes back stronger and more determined that ever. The supporting characters make for warm reading as they all look out and support each other in busy houses with horrible mistresses and it makes for wonderful reading as we see the lives unfold.
This is the second book in Rosie’s ‘Precious Stones’ books and it’s a wonderfully uplifting and warm story. Beautifully written against the background of fancy London and rural Birmingham and filled with handsome men and glamorous women, ‘A Simple Wish’ is a poignant and emotional story about a young woman’s determination to find her place in life against all odds.

You can buy ‘A Simple Wish’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.