‘One of the funniest books I've ever read. It made me cry with laughter. I highly, highly recommend it to anyone looking for a complete gigglefest of a read!’ Kirsty Greenwood
Izzy Harris should have it all – but her boyfriend has been ignoring her for months, she’s been overlooked for a promotion, and the owner of her local coffee shop pervs on her every time she has a craving for a salted caramel muffin.
Then her life is unexpectedly turned upside down.
Izzy dumps her oblivious boyfriend, and leaps on the chance to win a big pitch at work. Needing to work closely with gorgeous colleague Alex is an added perk…
But then her best friend has her heart broken, the pitch is way more complicated than expected, and Alex is keeping secrets. Does Izzy have what it takes to help her friend, save her career and get the guy?
Keris Stainton is one of the funniest women on Twitter - and indeed online. Especially if you have a *thing* for Harry Styles. I've known of Keris for a long time - probably about 11 years since we were in the same online writing group - all of us working on what we would hoped would be our first books. Keris indeed went on to write many books - but aimed them at the YA market. If You Could See Me Now is her first foray into a "grown up" book and all I can say is.... ABOUT BLOODY TIME!!
Okay, so the concept of If You Could See Me Now is a little strange. I had purposely avoided reading anything about it because I didn't want to have preconceptions about the book. So when the main character Izzy wakes up invisible (yes, invisible) after a few chapters, I was a bit flummoxed. This was a bit left field - but I've known Keris long enough to trust that she isn't completely off her rocker and this was probably going somewhere good.
Where it went, in fact, was somewhere which elevated this book from just another chick-lit type rom-com to something a little more special. Definitely something funnier. Definitely something more thought-provoking. Definitely something perhaps a little sexier in places too. It's a relatively simple concept as they come - but with Keris' funky feminist take on things it became something much more, About how as women we blend in - we have been taught not to stand out, that it's not always safe or desirable to be noticed and that we colour our behaviour to not make a fuss - even when we perhaps really, really should be making a fuss.
Keris has created a brilliant cast of characters - not least the very memorable (and maybe Harry Styles-esque?) Alex. More of him please, Keris. Thank you very much! This was an easy read - a really, lovely enjoyable read that was the tonic to a stressful week.
I found myself turning the last page and wishing for more. So it may have taken Keris Stainton some time to write that first grown up novel - but hopefully it won't be long until we are treated to another... and another... and another.
Funny, frothy, feminist and sexy, If You Could See Me Now is a real treat to read.
If You Could See Me Now will be published by Bookouture on August 4.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, via Netgalley.
'Myself and Hugh . . . We're taking a break.'
'A city-with-fancy-food sort of break?'
Amy's husband Hugh says he isn't leaving her.
He still loves her, he's just taking a break - from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in south-east Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.
Yes, it's a mid-life crisis, but let's be clear: a break isn't a break up - yet . . .
However, for Amy it's enough to send her - along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers - teetering over the edge.
For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?
Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then isn't she?
The Break isn't a story about falling in love but about staying in love. It is Marian Keyes at her funniest, wisest and brilliant best.
It's not news to anyone who has ever asked me about writing and who I admire that I am a huge fan of Marian Keyes. Like - I even embarrass myself with how gushing I am about her - and having now met her a few times, I have made a complete gom of myself on each occasion.
You would think then that being such a huge fan of Marian Keyes would mean reading this book and reviewing it would be a breeze; but it hasn't been for a number of reasons.
1) Before I started to read I took the fear that I wouldn't like it and then I would be all embarrassed around Marian and when she asked (if she asked) if I liked the book I'd have to do that awkward cough and stare at the floor thing or change the subject or feign sudden onset muteness.
2) Second of all, I knew if I reviewed it, there was a chance herself would read the review and therefore the pressure for this to be well written and not stalker-y levels of gushing is high.
3) Thirdly of all, as soon as I heard what this book was about I felt tight knot in the pit of my stomach because already I knew that I would relate to Amy. I would get that person in a bit of a rut and not sure what she wants-itis about it all. I've made a number of huge life decisions in the last year and while they don't directly mirror Amy's - I knew there would be a resonance there. And it scared me a bit.
I was almost scared to start reading - but when I did, I had to fight between the urge to read-it-all-now and the urge to eek it out in little treat size pieces because I didn't want it to end. I didn't want it to end because Keyes writes characters so well you feel as if you know them - they are real, and raw, and flawed, and funny and they fuck up sometimes. They become friends you become heavily invested in.
What this book brings the reader is a marriage in a state of flux - and a woman who has always been there for everyone else finding that the rug has been pulled resoundly from under her feet. She doesn't know how to cope - she lurches from day to day, trying to hold family, friends and work together - managing other people's crises with aplomb while enduring the biggest crisis of her life.
That might sound a bit grim - but it isn't. As with the likes of Rachel's Holiday - Keyes has a way of writing on very serious subjects in a way that pulls the reader in without pulling the reader down. While Amy exists in a void of grief and loss, making some suspect decisions along the way - the reader never feels as if she is wallowing.
She is a strong woman - one of those "didn't know how strong she was until she had to be" characters who you cheer for and want to hug.
Similarly as with the magnificent Walsh family books, Keyes has created such a memorable cast of supporting characters that the book never feels overwritten, padded out or feels as if it has too much focus on Amy.
From her daughters, to her mother (Lillian O'Connell, Mother of Five) to her work colleague Alistair (I love him, I really do. Everyone should know an Alistair) - the characters are brilliantly drawn. They will have you laughing out loud one minute, sobbing the next and cheering the minute after that.
With her finger very firmly on the pulse, Keyes also tackles some pretty heavy issues in this book. She has spoken before how this book involves a take on the Eighth Amendment and the impact it has on women in Ireland. These chapters are strong, emotive, angry even. That Keyes has used her celebrity to speak out so strongly for the 12 women a day who leave Ireland to travel to England is admirable - but it doesn't feel preachy. It doesn't feel shoe-horned into the book to make a point.
I have to admit as much as I LOVE Marian - I would hate to be her. The pressure that she must feel as she releases each new book - with hoards of fans waiting eagerly must be immense. I think I would find it particularly crippling. Has this latest book hit the mark? Will it live up to the greatness of her previous books? Will it help her maintain her position as Queen of Commercial Fiction?
For what my opinion is worth - yes.
This book, more than any other of her's, profoundly touched me. I felt as if Marian was in my head - actually reading my thoughts, my fears, my worries - and putting them on a page for everyone to read. (Killing me Softly with her Books! Sing it if you know it!)
I stayed up until 5am to finish reading it - and when I did, I cried because it was done. And it was brilliant.
No one writes like Marian. No one should even try - her voice is unique, strong and distinctive. Her ability to pull away the layers of the human condition is remarkable.
This book is, simply, brilliant. Her best yet. It has done what I thought was impossible and surpassed Rachel's Holiday in my estimation. It will be the must read book of Autumn 2017.
(And the dirty bits are fecking brilliant too!).
The Break will be published by Penguin/ Michael Joseph on September 7.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.
When was the last time you put yourself first?
Thirty-eight-year-old divorcee Courtney Downey has no idea who she is any more. She has devoted her life to bringing up her beloved 15-year-old daughter Susan, but Courtney just doesn’t get the celebrity-obsessed, Snapchat-filtered teenage world Susan is part of, and they’re growing apart. When Susan announces she wants to live with her dad and his new, younger girlfriend, Courtney is devastated. But could the end of one life be the beginning of another?
When Courtney is offered a job in beautiful, sun-kissed Cornwall, she and her vivacious best friend Claire follow their hearts and leave their problems behind for a summer of sand, sea and second chances. And when she meets sexy but infuriating builder Tony, Courtney rediscovers her passions for life, for cooking and for love.
But just as Courtney is finally looking to the future, a crisis with Susan pulls her back to Dublin, and back into old habits. Will she ever be able to let go of the past and embrace the importance of being herself?
This is a book every woman - and especially every mum - should read - possibly several times.
It's a book for every woman who has ever felt taken for granted by her family - mostly especially her children (and let's face it, children have a habit of being terribly selfish creatures), or who has felt a yearning to rediscover her identity, or felt under-appreciated in work or finds herself unexpectedly single a little bit later in life and wondering whether it is worth the effort of even thinking about starting again.
Caroline Grace Cassidy is very skilled at cutting through the noise to get to the heart of a story - a story that will no doubt resonate with many women (as did her previous novels, especially her last book 'The Week I Ruined My Life' ).
She tells the story of Courtney Downey - newly single, desperate to cling on to the 'love of her life' (Her 15 year old daughter) and wondering how she lost her joie de vivre along the way - brilliantly. The addition of her quirky but vulnerable friend Claire adds to this brilliantly - as both women face personal crises in their lives.
It would be easy for a book such as this to slip into maudlin rhetoric littered with inspirational quotes and cliches - but what Caroline does in this book is interject the serious moments with laugh out loud humour, with stunning surroundings, and with much talk of mouth watering-ly delicious meals. (Can I be chief dessert taster, thank you very much?).
The women are real - flawed and funny and the story is a balm for the soul.
This book hits of a few punches along the way but remains gloriously predictable in that you just now our heroine is going to find herself and her happy ending - making this the perfect, uplifting summer read.
Do yourself a favour and pack this in your holiday case - and enjoy every deliciously crafted word.
The Importance of Being Me is published by Black & White
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, via Netgalley
Each girl survived an unthinkable horror. Now someone wants them dead...
They were the victims of separate tragedies. Three strangers bound by similar traumas grouped together by the press.
When something terrible happens to Lisa, put-together Quincy and volatile Sam finally meet.
Each one influences the other. Each one has dark secrets. And as the bloodstained fingers of the past reach into the present, each one will never be the same.
Quite simply - this is one thriller you simply HAVE to read.
Filled with twists and turns - it keeps you guessing (mostly wrongly!) until the gripping conclusion.
I adored this book - I gobbled it up in a couple of sittings - reading into the night and getting up early to finish it, desperate to know what becomes of the two leading characters Quincy and Sam.
This is a quickly paced psychological thriller, combined with some slasher type horror that very quickly escalates into a on-the-edge-of-your-seat read.
I most certainly do not want to spoil any of it - but I'd confidently say this is the strongest book in this highly competitive genre that I have read this year.
For a debut author, Riley Sager has pulled off something really remarkable - and I foresee great things ahead for this author and this book. It begs to be adapted into a film - but as with all adaptations, make sure to read the book first.
Final Girls will be published by Ebury on July 13.
I received a preview copy of this book for review from the publishers, via Netgalley
For the love of books
A good writer must be an avid reader. I'll be posting reviews of some of the books I'm reading. Disclaimer: I'm not a book blogger - I'm just a reader. These are books I've chosen to read for fun.