Skip to content

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.

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.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day By Milly Johnson

I Wish It Could Be Christmas EverydayIf there’s one book that will get you into the spirit of Christmas this year, it’s Milly Johnson’s latest festive offering.

Six people all going to different places are forced to hole up in a small inn on the North Yorkshire Moors. Bridge is meeting her soon to be ex-husband Luke to sign a piece of paper that will officially begin the end of their marriage. She wanted to see him for five minutes tops, because she can’t stand the sight of him. Or is she just afraid to be in his presence for any longer than that because what she feels isn’t the hate she pretends to have for him? Luke is meeting his soon to be ex-wife Bridge for the shortest of meetings. He has moved on from his disastrous marriage to her and the last thing he needs is to be trapped with her for four full days when dangerous old feelings could resurface. Industry boss Jack is on his way to a meeting with a Japanese client who cancels at the last minute. It’s a dratted inconvenience having to spend Christmas with a bunch of strangers. But is it really – for someone who is lonely and craving company? Mary has been in love with her boss Jack for four years and this was her big chance to show him she was flesh and blood not the mere useful equivalent of an office stapler. Now she has four days to show him that he needs her in his personal life… but has that chance come too late? Charlie and Robin are going to Aviemore for a snow-filled, luxury Christmas with all the bells and whistles they can muster. Having to spend it with a group of strangers instead, cooking their own dinner would be a complete and disastrous let down to them… wouldn’t it? Six people – some at peace with themselves, some work in progresses, some lost… all take and give from each other in this festive fun-filled feast. A story packed with broccoli, snowmen, carols, paper chains, mince pies, plum tomatoes and cherries… kindness, wisdom and above all hope.

The story is seen through the perspective of 6 people who are all travelling on a snowy winter’s night. The weather is so torrential that they all pull over in a hotel called Figgy Hollow Inn, that is lying vacant but is completely prepared for Christmas. The 6 people are all at crossroads in their lives but during the 23- 27th December, they become firm friends and come to some realisations about themselves.

Outspoken Bridge is meeting her ex-husband Luke to finally sign their divorce papers, married couple Robin and Charlie were off to Scotland for their Christmas celebrations, whilst businessman Jack and his PA Mary were on their way to an important business trip.

As usual, Milly has produced another book that will literally have you feeling warm and glowing inside. With the magical setting of the Figgy Hollow Inn, it’s festive and welcoming setting as well as the wealth of indulgent food on offer that literally has the reader salivating with each page.

I loved the characters so much and had a connection with each one. Bridge and Luke are a complex couple, after years of arguing and moving on, they’ve finally decided to sign the papers but whilst in Figgy Hollow, they remember the good times when money was less but they still loved each other. These parts make for poignant and warm reading as the couple reflect on old times. Robin and Charlie bicker like a old couple, but there’s a deep love between them even though there’s quite an age age between them. Charlie was the gentleman of the story, exuding charm and wisdom to the party with his gentle nature. Whereas Mary has been in love with her boss for years, but Jack has never seen her in this light, but it seems the magic of Figgy Hollow is making him look at his PA in a new way. The magical setting of Figgy Hollow is making everyone reevaluate their lives as well as the importance of friendship at this time of year.

‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ is another charming story from Milly, delivered with her trademark tenderness, love and wit and is story of hope, magic and new friendships. This book is Christmas wrapped up with a festive bow.

You can buy ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.