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What Fresh Hell By Lucy Vine

What Fresh Hell‘What Fresh Hell’ is by Lucy Vine.

Meet Lilah Fox. She’s on the hen do from hell. Then she gets a message (44 of them, actually) from her best friend with big news: she’s getting married in six months. Oh, and Lilah’s her maid of honour. Which means she just got signed up for.

Lucy Vine is a relatively new author for me, I’ve read 2 of her books and have 2 more of her books to look forward to reading.

In this book we meet Lilah, who’s at the age where her life is filled with weddings and hen weekends, her bank account is being drained due to wedding gifts and the constant question being directed at her is when she will she be next? Her once laid back best friend has announced her wedding in 6 months and is determined that Lilah will make it the best wedding ever.

I adore Lucy’s books, her books read like a spokesperson for women of a certain age, where marriage and settling down is expected not trying to get further in their career and enjoying being single and child free.

Her writing is fresh and honest and makes for instantly relatable reading that is easy to sink into and connect with on so many levels.

I loved Lilah, she’s fun, outgoing and packed with wit and finds it impossible to say no hence the debilitating bank account. Her boyfriend is a sweetheart and her divorced parents hate each other and mostly talk to each other with the most inventive insults ever. Lilah is a generous character and she’s easily taken advantage off by, her friends, family and workplace. But as the story progresses, we see Lilah struggle with keeping others happy and putting others before herself.

This book is a riot from start to finish, with boisterous characters, fantastic one liners and scenarios that are instantly relatable and over the top. Lucy’s writing is sharp, quick witted and really connects with her readers.

If you’re looking for perfect escapism story that will lift your spirits and distract from the drama outside, I’d wholeheartedly recommend ‘What Fresh Hell’ and every other book by Lucy Vine.

You can buy ‘What Fresh Hell’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Chasing The Italian Dream By Jo Thomas

Chasing The Italian Dream‘Chasing The Italian Dream’ is the latest book by Jo Thomas.

Lucia has worked hard as a lawyer in Wales, aiming for a big promotion she hopes will shortly come her way. Finally taking a well-earned break at her grandparents’ house in southern Italy, the sunshine, lemon trees and her nonna’s mouth-watering cooking make her instantly feel at home. But she’s shocked to learn that her grandfather is retiring from the beloved family pizzeria and will need to sell. Lucia can’t bear the thought of the place changing hands – especially when she discovers her not-quite-ex-husband Giacomo wants to take it over! Then bad news from home forces Lucia to re-evaluate what she wants from life. Is this her chance to carry on the family tradition and finally follow her dreams?

I spent my Saturday with my head in Jo’s latest book, the perfect escapism story to curl up with filled with strong women and delicious recipes that literally made my mouth water.

The story is seen through the narrative of Lucia, a daughter of Italian parents who spends 2 weeks each year with her grandparents in Italy. With her out of office off, she longs for the Italian sun and to reunited with her Nonno and Nonna. But when her Nonno announces his retirement from the family restaurant and Lucia is distraught at the change until she realises that she wants to run the family business, but it’s unheard of a woman being a pizzeria owner in the small town. As well dealing with the shock of her Nonna’s retirement, she has to face up to her ex-husband Giacomo who she never divorced who also wants to buy her Nonno’s business. The pair of them end up in a secret competition creating delicious pizzas and dishes and the winner gets the restaurant.

I absolutely love Jo’s writing, set in picturesque settings that sweep the reader away from the temperamental weather that we’re currently experiencing. Lucia is a great leading lady accompanied by other strong leading ladies and an eager kitten. I loved Lucia’s determination to change the dynamics of the small town and prove that women are just as worthy to be business women, she’s adamant to bring the town into the 21st century and get rid of the silly traditions and notions. I adored her grandparents, especially her warm and bubbly grandmother who’s quietly encouraging her grand daughter to make a change. Also interactions with Lucia and Giacomo make for tender and charming reading as the pair of them compete against each other and face up to old ghosts and feelings.

Beautifully written and poignant from the first page, Jo has written another beautiful and heartwarming romantic tale that hooks the reader from the first page. With vivid descriptions of mouth watering recipes and the Italian landscapes, ‘Chasing The Italian Dream’ is an inspirational joy to read about one woman’a journey and determination to make a change.

You can pre-order ‘Chasing The Italian Dream’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 10th June 2021.

Last Night By Mhairi McFarlane

Last Night’Last Night’ is the latest book by Mhairi McFarlane.

Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed have been friends since they were eighteen. Now in their 30s, the four are still as close as ever, Thursday pub quiz night is still sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed. Maybe Eve should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed sometimes thinks about it too. Then one night, in an instant, all their lives change forever. And, as Eve learns she didn’t know her friends as well as she thought, she also discovers she isn’t the only person keeping secrets.

When it comes to books by Mhairi, you’re guaranteed to read a book packed with classic one liners, fantastic and relatable protagonists that you instantly connect with and a plot that will make you snort throughout.

But in Mhairi’s latest book, it’s filled with her trademark quirky characters and storyline but she also touched on grief and loss.

Eve has has a group of 4 best friends since secondary school. Susie, Justin and Ed. Eve and Ed have had a bit of complicated relationship after admitting feelings for each other but it never went anywhere. The 4 have maintained a tight friendship through the university years and now they’re in their mid 30’s. One night after a ritual pub quiz, the quartet is tragically changed leaving Eve question the friends that she thought she knew so well.

The story is seen through the narrative of Eve as she deals with the realisation that she didn’t really know her friendship group and finds herself finding solace in Finlay, Susie’s older brother who she was lead to believe is the bad guy.

I adored Eve, she’s fun, outspoken and heartbroken for the life that she used to have. The story is a romantic comedy as Eve and Finlay get to know each other under unexpected circumstances, but there are darker undertones to the story that does make for emotional reading in parts. Other supporting characters such as Finlay made for a delicious inclusion in the story, an estranged model that was always labelled the bad guy in Susie’s family. As Eve and Finlay tentatively get to know each other, their interactions make for tender and fun moments.

I love Mhairi’s writing, she has a skill of creating fantastic stories with such engaging characters that you instantly fall in love with and become friends with. As per her previous books, the story is packed with creative dialogue and one liners that made me giggle throughout.

‘Last Night’ is a beautifully written and observational story about heartache and friendship delivered with Mhairi’s wit and charm that made for genuinely uplifting and emotional reading.

You can buy ‘Last Night’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Source By Sarah Sultoon

The Source‘The Source’ is the debut novel by award-winning CNN journalist Sarah Sultoon.

A young TV journalist is forced to revisit her harrowing past when she’s thrust into a sex-trafficking investigation in her hometown.

Written in the past and present tense, this book which is based on true life experience is a intense thriller that makes for unsettling reading at times.

The story is seen through of the narrative of teenager Carly, who lives with her alcoholic mother and baby sister called Kayleigh. She hates the life that she has to lead and blames her mother for everything that has gone wrong. Her brother Jason has joined the army and invites her and her best friend Rachel to come to the barracks and it’s there that both girls get caught in a sex abuse and Carly feels unable to say no incase something happens to her little sister. Now many years later, Marie a journalist is investigating a new sex trafficking ring and is finding it a difficult with new emotions and memories coming back the closer and more involved she gets in the story.

This story is a difficult read, Carly is a strong character with a deep frustration for her alcoholic mother who has let the family go and sits around self-pitying herself. She longs for a better life and the sex is an escape for her. Her primary concern is her little sister and will do everything in her power to keep her safe and from harm. As the story progresses, we see Carly realise that this isn’t the life for her and longs to make a better one and it makes for sad reading when everything blows up and Carly has to deal with the aftermath.

Although the author doesn’t go into much detail of the extent of the sex abuse, there is enough details for the reader to read between the lines, how never to say no and bite the sheets and this does make for disturbing imagery for teenagers as young as 14 and younger.

Deeply dark and troubling. ‘The Source’ shines a light on sex abuse within the army and police, forces that are meant to protect and not to deprive young ones of their innocence. The story is written over a decade, shows how far a person will go for a story as well as confronting their past. Fast paced and powerful writing from the very beginning, ‘The Source’ is a hard hitting and emotional story about survival and resilience.

You can pre-order ‘The Source’ from Amazon and will be available from good bookshops from 15th April 2021.

The World At My Feet By Catherine Isaac

The World At My Feet‘The World At My Feet’ is the latest book by Catherine Isaac.

1990. Harriet is a journalist. Her job takes her to dangerous places, where she asks questions and tries to make a difference. But when she is sent to Romania, to the state orphanages the world is only just learning about, she is forced to rethink her most important rule. 2018. Ellie is a gardener. Her garden is her sanctuary, her pride and joy. But, though she spends long days outdoors, she hasn’t set foot beyond her gate for far too long. Now someone enters her life who could finally be the reason she needs to overcome her fears.

‘The World At My Feet’ is the third book by Catherine and just like her debut, it’s just as tearjerking and captivating.

The story is seen through the narrative of mother and daughter Harriet and Ellie. To the outside world, Ellie is a strong and powerful woman with a strong following on her gardening Instagram page but Ellie doesn’t move beyond her garden due to agoraphobia. Much as she’d love to step outside her garden, her fear and anxiety have prevented her leaving the house for a number of years, leaving her reliant on deliveries and support from her parents and younger sister called Lucy.

Although Ellie’s narrative is written in the present tense, her mother’s Harriet is written in the past tense at the height of her career when she was a war correspondent travelling to some of the most dangerous places in the world.  One place that particularly triggered an emotion and connection with Harriet, was the Romanian orphanages, were children with haunting eyes who were not only malnourished of food but also love and affection.

The story seen through Ellie’s makes for frustrating and sad reading, she’s a wonderful young woman who quite literally has the world at her end but is consumed by her fear that her life is in limbo. Aware that she needs to make changes before it’s too late, she become friends with Jamie, the garden centre delivery man who gently coaxes her out into real world with his kind and fun nature. Their friendship makes for lovely reading as they get to know each other and their interactions.

Harriet’s narrative makes for quite hard hitting reading as she travels to war worn torn and poverty stricken countries. Catherine vividly describes the desperation and desolation of the orphanages as the children long for love and are horribly deprived of it and this make upsetting reading at times.

Like her previous novels, Catherine’s novels really strike a chord with its reader connecting with them on an emotional level that really pulls its audience in. The story focuses on genuinely upsetting topics such as agoraphobia and the orphanages in Romania, but she writes with such sensitivity and warmth which really captures the readers heart. Even in the darkest moments of the story, there are elements of light with the beautiful descriptions of the gardens and the inclusion of a friendly canine called Gertie.

Beautifully written with thoroughly researched subjects, Catherine has created another soulful story that captivates the reader. ‘The World At My Feet’ is a stunningly written story of hope, courage and new beginnings.

You can buy ‘The World At My Feet’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.