Hello everyone! Today I am finally going to start my book reviews, focusing first on my romance section purely because this is my favourite kind to read and the type I own most of; there’s nothing I like more than grabbing a cheesy romance with a happily-ever-after plot line (as in the kind that get put on the shelves at Christmas time with pretty covers and predictable storylines) and snuggling up in a blanket wearing fluffy pyjamas with a hot chocolate in the colder months (especially at Christmas time, it’s pretty much tradition now). Maybe I enjoyed them because I was seriously lacking any kind of romance in my life or maybe it was because I craved the courage that the majority of these women got after a rubbish relationship in the hope of finding new love and a new life? Who knows, I love them and I’m not ashamed to admit it! So let’s start with the person that reignited my fire for reading – Lucy Dillon.
My first book that I bought of hers was ‘The Secret of Happy Ever After’ and I straight away bought two more of her books after but I read them in the wrong order; you are meant to read them in order because they revolve around the same town and mention some of the characters from the other books (certain occurrences might change the fate of certain characters that are mentioned). So we’ll be starting with ‘Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts’:
Omg this book didn’t half tug at some heart strings and make me want to adopt a dog, her description of a Basset Hound actually had me melting and wanting one of my own and I’m not even a fan of hounds! It also made me desperately crave for a bacon sandwich; seriously I’ve never read a book that mentions one type of food so much as this book with bacon sandwiches. I actually asked my dad to get thick white bread and unsmoked bacon when he went shopping shortly before I finished this book the second time I read it, just so I could have a bacon sandwich.
This book focuses on three different lives; a woman called Zoe who is struggling with the life of a single mum, Natalie and Johnny who are busy trying to make their own family, and single, child-less Rachel, who has just ran away from the life of a mistress into the life of a Kennel owner as she inherits her late aunt’s house and business. This book had me more absorbed in the storyline rather than affecting me emotionally, I couldn’t put it down! ‘What happens next?’ was a strong theme throughout as you are constantly swapping between the different lives. I don’t feel like I particularly related to this book or anyone in it, and I don’t think it is for anyone who has any baby-related issues (whether you want one or not) as that is a strong theme in this book. I did however thoroughly enjoy the passion of re-homing dogs, it made my want to foster a dog and volunteer at a dog shelter even stronger! The romance in this book is rather non-existent but makes for nice fictional reading.
The next book is ‘Walking Back to Happiness’; I actually found this book to be rather sad if I’m honest, it focuses around a woman called Juliet who has lost her husband and is trying to cope with the grief, as well as what is expected of her. Although it is sad, the book is rather heart-warming and follows suit with the idea that dogs can help mend broken hearts. Being a dog lover, it is enjoyable to read about little doggy antics and the special relationship they have with their owners, as well as the opportunities they can open for their masters in social situations. It definitely made me more excited to walk a dog in the hope that I might meet some new faces!
This might be a good book for someone who has recently lost a loved one, or even someone who suffered a bad break-up and has been disconnected from their old life (or someone who just loves dogs and romance); I think Juliet is definitely relatable, especially to someone like me who often has to deal with lack of will power to get out and socialise with people. There are a couple of lip-wobbling moments as well as moments where I let out a ‘ha!’ but nothing too overwhelming. I find this book to be a more subtle romance, focusing more on being positive and rebuilding yourself rather than lots of vom-inducing details of a romantic relationship.
Next up is ‘The Secret to Happy Ever After’ which is a bit of a longer read compared to the last two books; again dogs and love, but still being subtle with the romance. This story focuses on two women called Michelle and Anna, both best friends and both with very messy family lives. Michelle is starting afresh in town with a flair for her business and no interest in romance, whilst Anna is having to grapple with the idea of her perfect married life coming to an abrupt halt as she takes on her husband’s three daughters from his previous marriage, preventing her from having her own. This book made me laugh a fair bit, no weepy moments though.
I would suggest this to middle-aged women because it focuses a lot on marriage and the upheaval of family life which I think a lot of married mothers could relate to. The book still focuses on keeping positive and having the courage to do what you want with your life, even if it means sacrificing some things for the time being. Even though I am not married or a mother, I could still relate to Anna; she has this intense frustration that she might not get the future she is desperate for. I personally suffer a lot of frustration regarding the future, it can be very difficult to deal with current life when the future suddenly becomes unseeable, especially if your life goals are only achievable ‘in the future’ (getting married, having kids etc.). I feel that this book is a little more realistic compared to her other stories but still a comforting and cosy read nonetheless.
That’s the last of Lucy Dillon in my collection but I thoroughly enjoyed her writing style and characters; having the switch from one character to the next at the start of a new chapter prevented the stories from going stale, especially if the chapter ended on a note that left you curious for more. I will definitely be ordering ‘A Hundred Pieces of Me’ and ‘One Small Act of Kindness’ to add to my collection!
Next up is ‘I Heart New York’ written by Lindsey Kelk; this is a recent purchase of mine actually when I was close to finishing the novels I had picked up over Christmas. I remember reading somewhere that a certain book was pretty much a teenage rip-off of it, and having already owned ‘I Heart Vegas’ I decided to give it a go. Again I decided to start from the beginning of her list because many of the same characters are used throughout the book series, and I didn’t want to miss any important plot lines!
The story focuses on a woman called Angela Clarke who flees her best friend’s wedding after discovering her fiancé in a sexual clinch with some other woman; with the very basics, she jumps on a plane to New York City and begins her journey of self-discovery with new friends, new job and new romances in tow. To me this is a book that lives out every woman’s romantic fantasy without her actually having to do it; break away from a shoddy relationship, fly to one of the most amazing cities in the world, find out who you are, and fall in love. Any woman in a stale relationship would pick this up and wish it was her, wishing that she had the confidence to take this massive leap and stop worrying about what you can’t do. To me this is definitely a wish of my own because sometimes I feel like I am defined by my anxiety, work and, unfortunately, my relationship; sometimes I feel a little lost about who I am and whether I am more than just the office employee and so-and-so’s girlfriend. Made me laugh a fair few times and a little more adult on the sexual front, a nice gap-filler whilst you’re travelling or perhaps if you’re a little bored of your own life haha. This book has a positive message and an uplifting story to encourage the reader to take that leap of faith and follow their heart’s true desires.
Okay I’m gunna end this blog post with one more review that I recently re-read and it’s ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes. OMG this book, this book made me cry my eyes out both times I read it! I love it and yet I hate it at the same time; I didn’t know what to expect when I first bought it, I guess a typical fall-in-love-happily-ever-after sort of story but nope sorry guys, it is far from it. The story focuses on 26 year old Louisa Clark who loses her job at the town’s local café. Desperate for a job, she applies for the only job available that is suitable to someone with a lack of qualifications – a job in caring. Will Traynor is a man who once led a big life, someone who loved adventure, risk-taking, his high-flying job and sex. Unfortunately disaster strikes when he becomes a quadriplegic after being hit by a motorbike, and is struggling to adjust to his new ‘life’ which he just can’t seem to accept. The two are brought together unexpectedly, both helping the other far more than they could ever have realised.
Okay, so I literally do not want to spoil anything which is why I am giving no more away, but I will warn you that if you have any issues with disabilities (especially severe physical) or grief of being a carer then this book might not be for you. It hit home hard a fair few times given the type of work I am in as well as the struggles I had to experience back when my mum was around, but I think even if you have never experienced anyone with life-threatening illnesses or severe disabilities then this book is still a sure thing to make you cry your eyes out. It made me laugh a fair bit or at least smile for the most part, and I really enjoyed the characters, especially Will whom I almost fell in love with myself. I laughed out loud for real at the part when you are first introduced to him, not only because it was light-hearted but because I know how it would’ve made me feel. It almost felt like someone had written down their personal experience as a carer and turned it into a story; it felt like it was written with a lot of thought and research rather than someone writing their ideal romance. I could relate a little to Louisa because she is still unsure of what to do with her life and hasn’t travelled anywhere; the story seeped real-life struggles, and all I can really say is that this book was really well written and sucked me into the storyline so much that I couldn’t put it down. I shed tears for a lot of elements in this book but it was not until the very end, which by the way you’re going to hate.
I will note however that Jojo Moyes wrote a sequel to the book that was released in 2015 on hardback; I am waiting for the paperback which won’t be released until the end of June this year (why!!??), so if you enjoyed this book like I did and you want to know what happened next then you might want to give this a read! It is definitely on my list of ‘books to buy next’ so look forward to that soon! I’ve also just discovered that a movie adaptation of this book is due to be released June 3rd 2016!! I don’t think watching it in the cinema is a good idea as I might just flood the place out! Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones) will make an excellent Lou Clarke I think, she definitely fits the description of Lou from the book in my eyes, but Sam Claflin however (Finnick Odair from Hunger Games) doesn’t fit my idea of Will but only just, hopefully he won’t ruin Will’s character for me.
So that’s the end of this book review blog post for part 1:1 of my romance section haha…next will be part 1:2 with the rest of my romance reviews! I hope you are enjoying them so far or at least have found something new that you might like to read, all of these books are recommended by yours truly because I hand-picked them and purchased them for myself to read, and I am being honest in these reviews. Until next time, happy reading!~♥