Synopsis

Can two people from different worlds be together? It seems that maybe they can. When Ben’s PR company take on Effy’s cause as part of their charity scheme the two seem like polar opposites; Ben, the high flying executive with the fancy apartment and expensive car and Effy, the driving force behind a new charity to fund the set up of hospitals in the desperately deprived Uganda.

Yet despite their differences, these two fall for each other, they fall hard. As with life, the course of true love never runs smoothly. A secret about Ben’s job threatens not only their relationship but all the hard work that Effy has done.

Can Effy and Ben survive this?

Review

Jessica Thompson has only bloody done it again. I absolutely loved her first two books (This is a Love Story and Three Little Words) and I have waited ever so patiently for the release of Paper Swans. The wait was worth it.

Thompson, somewhat ironically, has a flawless way of writing flawed characters. She does so in a way that you cannot help but empathise with them. Ben is essentially a mess. Broken by events of his past that he hasn’t ever dealt with and yet his so called perfect life would lead anyone to believe that he doesn’t have a care in the world. Effy is a beautiful girl who sees the good in everything…until that thing lets her down. She wants things to be perfect, to right and good and when Ben shows a tiny chink in his armour she feels too let down to carry on. It takes the full story for them to both realise perfection isn’t something that you can achieve.

With Paper Swans, Thompson had me chuckling away to myself, getting angry and telling the characters off and also swooning at the loveliness of certain chapters. What she also manages to do is raise awareness of a serious topic. The theme that runs throughout this novel is one of mental health and the stigma attached to it. What Thompson tries to do, and in my opinion does quite successfully, is show that it isn’t a certain stereotype that can suffer with mental health problems. She shows that the world of mental health covers a wide spectrum and none of us are immune to needing a little help from time to time.

The symbolism of swans was really clever especially when used as an allegory for Ben who seemed to be gliding through life seamlessly whilst working his backside off just to stay afloat. And with the swans, who mate for life, representing the ever lasting love that he wants to have with Effy was seamlessly interwoven into the story and once again shows Thompson’s skill.

Thompson’s stories are beautiful, romantic and full of heart but more than that they have the backbone of contentious issues which distinguish her stories from those of her contemporaries.

Paper Swans by Jessica Thompson is available now.

 

This week was a week of good books. I managed to make my way through the majority of my TBR pile from last week and I managed to read two of my own books that were not specifically for review (although technically I did review one of them but you know what I mean).

This week I read:

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan

What Would Mary Berry Do? by Claire Sandy

The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

The Atlas of Us by Tracy Buchanan

Every single one of them was brilliant in their own way. What I have noticed about myself through reading this selection of books is that my taste in literature has matured over the past few years. Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy a good light hearted chick lit but a lot of the books that I have read lately have been a lot weightier. The themes and plotlines are dark, twisty and a lot of the time they are unresolved. So, Kudos to me and my reading maturity.

This week’s TBR pile looks a little like this:

Paper Swans by Jessica Thompson (Physical Copy)

Between the Lives by Jessica Shrivington (NetGalley)

A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray (NetGalley)

Boy About Town by Tony Flectcher (Physical Copy)

Chelsea Bird by Virginia Ironside (NetGalley)

I hope you all have a really good reading week.

L x x

Synopsis

How far would you go for the one you love the most? The clever tagline that graces the front cover of The Atlas of Us makes you instantly think of far off places and adventures but it also means how much would you do for those you love.

For Louise Fenton this means travelling halfway across the world to a disaster area to find her mother Nora who was in Thailand when the tsunami struck.

Meanwhile, Jay, a journalist is looking for his friend Claire Shreve who was also there on that fateful day. Both of the ladies seem to be connected but neither Jay nor Louise knows how. It is through Louise’s determination and desperation to find her mother that this heartbreaking family mystery gets uncovered.

Review

It has been an awfully long while since a writer has had my pulse racing but that is exactly what Tracy Buchanan’s The Atlas of Us managed to do. The drama and drive of this novel created a feeling of panic and urgency within me as I read from chapter to chapter, voraciously talking in the story and getting mad at my own eyes for not being able to read any more quickly.

The storylines were so delicately woven and each time a new plot twist happened I was genuinely shocked; I didn’t see any of them coming and, believe me, there were plenty to choose from. The characters, though each ultimately flawed in some way were easy to root for. For example, Milo seemed so beaten by life, constantly trying to do right by everyone but ultimately letting himself down; Louise just wanted to fix the past but time and ultimately a natural disaster prevented her from doing so.

Overall, The Atlas of Us does everything a good book is supposed to do. It held my attention, it had me genuinely worried for the outcome of the characters – heck it even had me cheering them on to bigger and better things and Buchanan managed to take me to far off distant places that I have no other way of knowing. I travelled with this book from the confines of my own bedroom. The Atlas of Us is a truly accomplished novel.

The Atlas of Us by Tracy Buchanan is available now.

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Synopsis

D.U.F.F – Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Maggie finding out that is what people think of you. This is exactly what has happened to Bianca. Whilst she was out at a club with her two best friends Casey and Jessica the biggest douche bag (and her worst enemy) Wesley came over to talk to her. When she questioned why he had chosen to talk to her of all people he tells her she is the DUFF. And talking to the DUFF will guarantee that one of her friends will think he is a nice guy and will potentially have se with him. Bianca is mortified.

However, after this Bianca’s life tailspins out of control and rather than hating on Wesley more than normal she starts to have a fling with him. But her fling comes at a cost.

Review

Admittedly, I had never heard of the term DUFF before but looking back on my social group of friends I can see how many times in my past I have been the DUFF. I then realised that at some point everyone is the DUFF. We all have social anxieties that plague us. This may seem strange but I would know I was going to have a good day if I had the best maintained hair on the bus on the way to university. It sounds completely crazy and illogical because….well it is crazy and illogical. We always thing that someone is prettier, dresses nicer, has straighter teeth than we do; we are so quick to pick apart ourselves and everyone around us that it is no wonder terms like DUFF exist.

What Keplinger does brilliantly in DUFF is make you realise that we are all different and that cliché as it may sound, beauty is only skin deep. She shows the constant anxiety and blatant lack of confidence that a teenage girl will go through on a daily basis. She frames this with other issues such as alcoholism and violence, social grouping, education and applying for university, and sex.

There is a lot of sex in this book so it definitely veers towards the older young adult reader and yes there are a few frequent expletives but then in reality what teenager deals with real problems with a “gosh darn it” and a feisty shake of the fist. What Keplinger has produced succinctly is a book about being a teenager on the cusp of adulthood with a sharp and witty verisimilitude.

DUFF by Kody Keplinger is available now.

 

Synopsis

Marie Dunwoody doesn’t feel like she has it all together. Sure, she is married to a wonderful husband; she has three lovely children and yes, a career to be proud of. Yet something a simple as a school fete has thrown her life off kilter.

Having failed to bring a showstopper cake to the school Marie feels terrible. This feeling is heightened when her shop bought French fancies are placed next to her perfect neighbour Lucy’s gorgeous and impressive cake.

At the self same fete Marie stumbles upon a second hand copy of a Mary Berry cake book and decides that she won’t go through the same shame next year. She will provide the showstopper. She will make a cake that Mary Berry will be proud of.

Review

This is possibly going to sound snobbish but I tend to avoid books like What Would Mary Berry Do? No, not because it is chick-lit but because of the familial set up. I often find that I can’t relate to a protagonist who is a wife, a mum, a business woman because I, myself am none of those things. However, I was drawn in by my love of cake and the front cover looked delicious enough to lick*

I am awfully glad that did read What Would Mary Berry Do? because it is such a light and fluffy book that, at times, does deal with contentious everyday issues which at some point all of us either can or will relate to – redundancy, fear of losing business, adultery, first love and divorce to name a few. Upon analysis, you can see this book is as complex as the recipe and method for making a croquembouche.

What I did love about this book is the utter abundance of love. Even though Marie felt her family wasn’t the perfectly presented family you couldn’t argue that this family cared for one another. It is not unusual in chick-lit to find marital disharmony but the relationship between Marie and Robert is one to be treasured and indeed, one to strive to replicate.

It is also a book about learning. No, not just how to make impressive baked goods but about learning to see people in a different way; this is most evident in Marie’s relationship with Lucy. Both are bogged down with misunderstanding and, to be honest, a little bit of mutual jealousy. It is lovely to see how quickly a friendship can develop in unlikely circumstances.

Claire Sandy has made a wonderful cast of character come to life in this book. She has also given me the confidence to try and bake a cake. Now I just have ask myself, what would Mary Berry do?

* I didn’t lick the cover, tempting though it was, I just purged on cupcakes whilst I read it.

What Would Mary Berry Do? by Claire Sandy is available now.

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