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.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rosemary and Fern were inseparable growing up, revelling in growing and learning together and soaking up as much attention as possible from their family and anyone who visited their home, including their father’s graduate research students. That is, until the day Fern vanishes from family life turning Rosemary from a bright, talkative child into a confused young woman desperately seeking answers to the disappearance of her sister and the reason for her older brother running away.

Karen Joy Fowler’s arguably most successful novel The Jane Austen Book Club is a book I absolutely adore so I had very high hopes for We are all completely beside ourselves. Although the plot couldn’t be more different, the writing is as beautiful and packed with emotion whilst being fiercely intelligent with enormous depth. Karen Joy Fowler really knows how to take the reader and make them empathise wholly with her characters. At points, I was so immersed in the story I forgot I was reading a novel, it honestly could have been a true life childhood memoir.

My copy of this book came with a note advising me to tweet my reaction when I reached page 77 which intrigued me and I have to say, I did not guess the big plot reveal in the slightest (which dented my ego somewhat as somebody who studied this kind of thing at university!). Suffice to say, what starts as a normal family memoir ends as something entirely different and is one of the most original plots I have had the pleasure of reading in years.

I can’t remember ever reading a novel which has so easily balanced humour and important moral issues in the way Karen Joy Fowler has here. I found myself thinking about the subject of this novel in between reading sessions in more depth than I ever would have before outside of my degree.

I cried and laughed my way through this book and fell in love with Rosemary and Fern to the extent that I was sad when I reached the end. It really is one of the most beautiful novels I’ve read in a long time and I have no doubt I will be giving copies to my friends and families for many Birthdays and Christmasses to come.

This review was first published on Nudge-books.com and Goodreads on 8th May 2014.

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Brighton Babylon by Peter Jarrette

Brighton Babylon by Peter Jarrette

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Peter Jarrette’s Brighton Babylon reads like a sitcom in novel form. Each chapter is a different anecdotal story about his life, featuring his group of friends who embody the vibrancy and uniqueness of true Brightonians. The coolness of these characters oozes from the pages. They are the life and soul of the Brighton social scene, flitting from job to job, partying and flirting outrageously with each other. Jarrette’s portrayal of the outlandish situations within the book are belly achingly funny and vivid- I could almost imagine myself being there with them.

I’ve frequently visited Brighton so the places within Jarrette’s book seemed familiar to me, however, I don’t think you can truly see Brighton unless you look at it through the eyes of someone who lives there. Brightonians have a knack of making everything about the city romantic somehow. Take for example Jarrette’s descriptions of the tramps that live opposite his flat- gross, drunken and urine stained though they are, he describes them with fondness grown from having become so used to seeing them as part of his Brighton world.

Brighton Babylon is described as being a novel. However, from the little I know about Peter Jarrette (who incidentally is somewhat of a Brighton celebrity) and the fact the main character in the book is called Peter Jarrette, I kind of got the impression that he has borrowed most, if not all, of these stories from his real life. The chapter in which he discusses being given a gagging order by an old employer to prevent him discussing them in his new book also added weight to my suspicion. Whether wrong or right, I found that this made the book more enjoyable for me. I loved the idea that these frankly barmy people actually existed in real life, and if you’ve ever been to Brighton you can quite well believe that they do. The wonderful characters that inhabit Brighton are what make it such a unique and wonderful city, and Jarrette has encapsulated this perfectly in his book.

This review was first published on Nudge-books.com and Goodreads on 6th May 2013.

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