The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary


cover150822-mediumThe Flatshare
by Beth O’Leary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tiffy Moore and Leon Twomey each have a problem and need a quick fix.

Tiffy’s been dumped by her cheating boyfriend and urgently needs a new flat. But earning minimum wage at a quirky publishing house means that her choices are limited in London.

Leon, a palliative care nurse, is more concerned with other people’s welfare than his own. Along with working night shifts looking after the terminally ill, his sole focus is on raising money to fight his brother’s unfair imprisonment.

Leon has a flat that he only uses 9 to 5. Tiffy works 9 to 5 and needs a place to sleep. The solution to their problems? To share a bed of course…

As Leon and Tiffy’s unusual arrangement becomes a reality, they start to connect through Post-It notes left for each other around the flat.

Can true love blossom even in the unlikeliest of situations?
Can true love blossom even if you never see one another?
Or does true love blossom when you are least expecting it?

 

When I read the blurb for The Flatshare I was immediately intrigued- two people sharing a flat, and a bed, who communicate entirely through post-it notes and have never met. It felt like it might be a bit reminiscent of “You’ve Got Mail” (which is my favourite film!) so I was really eager to read it.

The Flatshare ended up being one of the best reads of the year for me. It was so easy to pick up and be instantly immersed in the story. It’s a gorgeously uplifting romantic comedy from beginning to end. The main characters are immediately likable and they bring the story to life. There’s enough darkness and reality to the plot to make it believable, but enough cuteness, coincidence and wonderfully happy endings to make reading it a fantastic escape.

Tiffy and Leon’s romance built in a really realistic way, this wasn’t an instant love situation which all too often happens in romance books. I loved the notes they sent to each other, how they slowly became friends by leaving meals and baking out for each other, the reluctance on Leon’s part to meet Tiffy and Tiffy’s unstoppable personality proving irresistible to him.

The Flatshare is the best romantic comedy I’ve read in years. I can’t believe it’s a debut for Beth O’Leary. Her writing is warm and witty, with a fantastically well shaped plot. The Flatshare will leave you with a warm, cosy feeling in your heart long after you’ve finished reading.

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The Mummy Lessons by Helen Wallen

mummyThe Mummy Lessons: The laugh-out-loud novel for all exhausted parents and parents-to-be by Helen Wallen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a tough pregnancy, Emily is determined to tackle motherhood like a pro. But she quickly learns that Insta-Perfect-Parenting (and sleep) is hard to come by, no matter how much money you spend in Mothercare.

Irritatingly, her friend Molly seems to be breezing it. But with a business venture as well as a baby, is she taking on too much?

Liz looks as though she might have it all worked out. But when a tragedy derails her new relationship, she has some serious decisions to make.

Celebrating female friendship, the highs and lows of motherhood, and the lifesaving power of a jumperoo, THE MUMMY LESSONS follows a year of highs and lows for Emily, Molly and Liz as they learn the hardest lesson of all: life doesn’t always follow the rules . . .

I received an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

I thoroughly enjoyed Helen Wallen’s first novel, “Baby Boom” so I was really keen to get stuck into book 2, “The Mummy Lesson’s” and find out what Emily, Molly and Liz were up to.

From the first page it felt like I was catching up with old friends and I sped through the pages getting lost in Emily and Molly’s mummy journeys. Everything I enjoyed from the first book was present in this sequel, the warm natural friendships between the women, the honesty about what it’s like to be a mother and the hilarity of the Whatsapp chats, but with an added dramatic storyline for Liz which kept me firmly on the edge of my seat terrified that Gerard and Liz might come to an end (Team Giz forever!)

I enjoyed the character development between books for Emily and Molly. Becoming a mother changes you in ways that are deeply personal and individual and it was so good to see each woman handle her new role in her own way. Equally, it was nice to see that when all three friends met up their friendships were exactly the same and none of them were left out.

As well as the realistic parenting parts of the book, the dramatic storyline added real tension to the plot. Liz is the character I relate to the least and I felt like we got a bit more of her in this book. She became a bit more vulnerable which was really interesting to read. I can’t help but feel like Liz’s story wasn’t completely resolved though, which has left me really hoping that book 3 is in the works!

I really recommend Helen Wallen’s books to anyone who enjoys a fun, hilarious contemporary page-turner. You don’t have to be a parent to enjoy these books, there’s plenty of plot and character for everyone to enjoy them. If you are a parent though you’ll laugh at the sheer accuracy of some of the descriptions in these books.

One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk

One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I was younger I used to steal my mums Marian Keyes and Jill Mansell books to read, even though a lot of the references went over my head. I loved the stories and the romance and the feeling after you’d turned the last page that you’d made good friends within the pages of the book.

“One in a Million” is the first book I’ve ever read that gave me these exact feelings but also was aimed at my age group and actually referenced things I understood. Oh, the joy I felt when I read the words “Just 17”.

Aside from mentioning magazines I obsessed over as a teenager, the whole plot felt really relevant to my life. I could imagine being friends with Annie and Miranda and it was easy to understand their lives and priorities and motivations.

The plot itself was really original and although it wasn’t hard to imagine how the story would end (who reads a romance hoping for a sad ending?!) I was captivated until the end and had to stifle some ugly happy sobs for fear of bewildering my toddler.

I couldn’t put this book down and it’s left me with such a warm and fuzzy feeling in my heart.

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The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae: A perfect read for those who loved ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by Stephanie Butland

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I absolutely loved Stephanie Butland’s last novel, “Lost for Words” (it was set in a bookshop so no prizes for guessing why it appealed to me so much) and when I saw her book available on Netgalley I couldn’t click request fast enough.

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae follows Ailsa just a couple of months after the heart transplant she had been waiting for her whole life. We join Ailsa as she learns how to live, how to be an adult and how to navigate a life in which she suddenly has a future that involves more than hospital stays and dying.

I thought the premise to this book was really interesting. I’ve read a lot of books which focus on long term illness, but never a book which explores how somebody starts to rebuild their life once they have that operation they’ve been waiting for since birth. I don’t think I’d ever considered what it would be like for someone in that position, so used to waiting by the phone to hear of a possible organ and having people look after you as if you were a child, to suddenly be better and have to completely rebuild how they thought about themselves and develop some independence.

The book is written with the use of flashbacks to before the heart transplant and I enjoyed these glimpses into Ailsa’s previous life which helped to make me feel as if I knew both versions of Ailsa- with her old heart and with her new heart (which she names Apple).

I also really liked the use of Ailsa’s blog as a story telling device. It was in these sections that I felt Ailsa was being the most true to herself, and it added another layer to her personality.

The writing was completley addictive and I found myself swept into the story quickly. It was such a life affirming story and I really felt like I was with Ailsa as she experience new things and grabbed her new chance at life with both hands.

I absolutely loved the romantic storyline, but I also loved that having a boyfriend wasn’t Ailsa’s main priority and her career, hobbies, friends and family were much more her focus.

I would recommend this book to fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jojo Moyes and anybody who loves reading the equivalent of a hug in book form!

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Baby Boom! by Helen Wallen

Baby Boom! by Helen Wallen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recieved an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

As the mother of an almost 14 month old toddler I am familiar with the mummy blogger tribes that fill instagram feeds with honest pictures, witty captions and links to hilarious blog posts. In fact, some of these bloggers helped me through some of the lonelier days of my year long maternity leave so when I saw that Helen Wallen of “Just a Normal Mummy” had turned her hand to fiction I couldn’t wait to get reading.

“Baby Boom!” is written in the same warm, inclusive, yet honest tone of the blog. It’s not a book interested in choosing sides when it comes to the best way of parenting, or even handling pregnancy and for that reason it was a refreshing read. Following three best friends in their late twenties/early thirties, two of whom become pregnant in very different situations, the book explores the highs and lows of pregnancy, relationships and motherhood.

For me, one of the nicest parts of this book was the friendship between Emily, Liz and Molly which was portrayed in the most natural and real way. Their Whatsapp conversations were hilarious to read and really made me feel as if I were a part of their friendship. Most strikingly though was the fact that at no point did the book become about them falling out. Before reading this book I didn’t realise how big a feature of women’s literature best friends having arguments is. Of course friends do argue, but in this instance it was just nice to have three women, in very different situations supporting each other in the best way they could above all else.

The only part of this book I didn’t love was the poetry at the beginning of each chapter which I find a bit twee. This type of poetry isn’t to my taste and I felt like they were a bit unneccesary to the book. However, I know a lot of “Just a Normal Mummy’s” followers enjoy her poetry within her blog so I understand why it has been included.

I wish I’d had this book to read on maternity leave, in that stretch of time before you have your first baby when you finish work and have nothing to do but wait for your baby to be born. That time when you only really want to be occupied by baby related things but also need to stop thinking about your impending labour before you go mad. It’s the perfect escapism and I will be buying a copy for any pregnant friends in future to enjoy.

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Some kind of wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher

Some Kind of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had high hopes for this book which is possibly why I feel so disappointed that I only found it…ok. Let me start by saying I love Giovanna Fletcher, as a mum, a vlogger, and a writer. Her previous books have enchanted me. I love her warm writing style; her romantic, dreamy plots and friendly characters.

Sadly, I felt that what I love about her books usually was missing from this novel. I didn’t like any of the characters (in fact I found them quite crude and vapid for the most part) and I didn’t feel like there was particularly a plot to the story beyond following a sad woman who had been dumped.

There were moments of loveliness, mostly between Connie and Lizzy but I also really enjoyed the scene with Ian towards the end and that redeemed this book for me a bit and nudged it over to three stars rather than the two it had been sitting at whilst I’d forced myself to keep reading through the NYE chapter and the whole job business with boring Natalia.

I think I was hoping that this book would be more empowering than it was. Having Lizzy pine for her 18 year old self for 400 pages seemed like a waste of a potentially good plot.

For any other author of this genre I would consider a three star rating to be not bad at all but I have come to expect comfort, positivity and gorgeous stories from Giovanna’s writing and for me this book did not live up to her previous works.

This review was first published on Goodreads on November 24th 2017.

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