Book Of The Month: The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Books, LIFESTYLE

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* Post contains spoilers, you have been warned*

After reading the blurb for this book I still didn’t really know what to expect but after loving After You and Still Me by Jojo Moyes I was ready to give it a go. I shall start by saying that The One Plus One is very different from the other two novels I had read. Although the others did have realistic storylines and tugged at the heart strings, The One Plus One can only be described as a blow to the gut. In parts it made me feel the nerves and the anger from the characters and others made me look like I was catching flies as I read (I believe the real saying here is ‘jaw dropping’) and from a book that I was at first uncertain about as I closed the pages I found it a great read. 

I really didn’t know where this story was going to go when I started reading it. Following the conversations of two cleaners losing a job it felt almost too realistic and as I read for escapism and entertainment I wasn’t sure this was going to provide a happy ending. I am very glad that I continued to read because I did indeed enjoy each of the characters developments throughout the story. The story follows Jess, her young daughter Tanzie, her non-biological teenage son Nicky and lastly Ed, the rich, slightly rude but helpful acquaintance. After some extreme car trouble with Jess’ car, Ed offers to drive the family to Scotland. Their time in the car together becomes the story and this is very reflective on real life situations. Long journeys always tend to promote conversations that wouldn’t usually be had or provoke irritations within the confined space. The story conveys this perfectly and makes it even more tense as the characters are strangers to each other.

Jojo Moyes The One Plus One  book of the month

I am not usually a fan of books that switch between the characters voices but The One Plus One did this well. The story flowed, didn’t change scenes completely and I found it easy to follow, something that I don’t find in many of this type. I also enjoyed the characters voices themselves. Even though two of the characters are younger and you can tell this isn’t disruptive and they would seem ‘grown up’ for their age, especially Nicky towards the end of the book.

A couple of storyline twists in the book left me open mouthed in shock for a minute or two and I thoroughly enjoyed this about it. Finding out where Jess’ partner was and the accident with Tanzie and the dog towards the end were a definite surprise, not pleasant but interesting. And even better that it ended positively.

As the story is mainly centred around Jess the reader gets to know her character a little more. I do prefer to read books which have a female lead who is strong, independent and aspirational and although Jess is these things it is portrayed in a way completely different compared to female characters in other narratives. Instead of the high flying careers, designer labels and jet set life that I usually find in women’s literature, this is down to earth, arguably more realistic for the masses and aspirational in other ways. Ways like; working hard pays off, be a good person and be true to yourself. There are so many underlying meanings in the book, probably even a few that I didn’t catch, that the reader is bound to come away with something and I’ll definitely be keeping this one on the bookshelf to read again in the future.

Have you read The One Plus One or any other books by Jojo Moyes?

Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Cafe by Georgia Hill

Books, LIFESTYLE, Uncategorized

*Spoiler alerts*

Cakes? Check. Love interest? Check. Pet dog? Check. Seaside town? Check.

Yep this book has ’em and it was the perfect read to completely relax and fall into the story. Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Cafe follows Millie running her beach side cafe and follows the high and lows that this can bring. With a new larger coffee shop moving into town Millie has to find a way of keeping her smaller, yet more personal cafe afloat. I love a story that includes someone running a business so I immediately wanted to keep reading. The way it is wrote also makes the storyline easy to follow without too much chopping and changing and too many characters. Reading for me is all about finding a relaxing moment and getting absorbed and I can’t tend to do that if there is too much to follow.

Another part to the book that I enjoy are the multiple diy projects. Whether it’s for the cafe having a revamp or the hotel having a complete renovation right through to the homemade bread and local artwork there is something going on throughtout the story to feel inspired by and feeling the urge to start a project. All of the characters get involved in some kind of craft from sewing bunting to painting artwork and the novel has a good community spirit vibe. It all adds to the homemade skill effect of the story and it leaves the reader full of inspiration as well as entertained.

Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Cafe holds plenty of love stories within its pages too. There are the two pooch loving pensioners that have a dislike to love relationship which is sweet (excuse the pun) as anything. Then the younger, university age characters who aren’t sure what they want and of course, Millie herself. It starts in the cafe with a classic meeting between Millie and a tall, dark, handsome stranger. Of course, it was never going to be a smooth boy meets girl scenario and not before long there is a an incident to rock the boat. Jed, being the handsome business type that he is, actually works for Millie’s rival – new in town/mass produced/cheaper – coffee shop.

There is also another romance between Millie’s best friend and her old school crush. Both actors the characters rekindle their old romance and Millie is the one that is picking up the pieces and trying to support her best friend throughout. It brings a lovely friendship storyline the book and a little drama. This storyline and the one of Millie’s new mermaid-esque cafe assistant are what I can imagine would shake a little seaside town. It add complexity to the characters and, I would argue, a little more adult behaviour than what it could have been without them.

I haven’t yet read a book in the ‘chick-lit’ genre where love didn’t prevail and thankfully it does here too. It makes it a light read (even though realistically its probably one of the thicker books in the genre I have read/seen) and good to grab a tea and slice of cake with.

What are your favourite books recently?

The list that changed my life by Olivia Beirne

The List That Changed My Life by Olivia Beirne

Books, LIFESTYLE

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Having not heard of Olivia Beirne before this book I did not know what to expect. Even after reading the first few pages I was still unsure of how the writing was going to continue. The title is catchy and intriguing and the blurb definitely caught my attention. You begin to wonder what the life changing event is that means the character Georgia must fulfil her sisters ‘before 30’ bucket list. 

The whole book is written like nothing I have read in a long while. It is a novel of its time with references to modern culture such as the X factor, Don’t tell the Bride and Strictly Come Dancing among others. I enjoyed these references because I can relate to them being of my generation and think I would read it again in the future because I’ll ‘get’ them. I do wonder if maybe I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if I didn’t understand the references or they tune out a future market.

The theme of the book, as well as connecting sisters through life, has a constant draw to the diary of our main character. This theme also comes across in the writing style itself. I haven’t read a book in a while that reflected diary entries and I enjoyed it. The writing is friendly and colloquial and a breath of fresh air in a market where many books have a similar style or storyline. I just also want to make a reference about the use of exclamation marks. Now I am a fan of an exclamation mark but I know many reputably despise them. Each to their own but knowing this I was very surprised to see how many were used throughout. Of course it brings back the idea that it is Georgia herself writing the diary entries and writing for yourself you can say it how you want and I guess that this is why it felt different to many. 

Referring to the story itself I love how the two sisters have opposing ways of looking at life. Georgia, our narrator, lives the London money struggle, dirty flat life along with trying to keep up with friends whilst being there for her sister Amy. Amy is a PE teaching, fitness fanatic who always looks on the bright side and ways to overcome situations rather than mull in them. A recurring theme in her character is ‘mind over matter’ until she is diagnosed with MS and sees a change in her lifestyle and ability to maintain independence. This is where the story takes a switch and it is Georgia who tries to be the one that attempts to cheer her sister up and gives her some of her own wise words. I enjoyed the turns throughout and the positivity bug constantly jumps between them both, showing that there is a little bit of each in everyone.

The List that changed my life by Olivia Beirne book

I love the premise of the story and the idea of a ‘before 30 bucket list’, I even wrote my own at the beginning of the year (skydives not included) and at this current time have too many still waiting to be achieved. I enjoyed seeing the idea of a 10k run evolve into a charity event and even further into a proposal, apologies, happy tears and friends coming together and it does *almost* make me want to bake a Victoria sponge cake. Hey, I said almost.

It is an inspiring read and can be relatable for many either from a big life changing perspective or even finding that you are Georgia, happy getting by with a steady job, flat and colleagues or Amy, full of life and energy and pushing to achieve. The sisters want the best for each other and that’s relatable for families on any level.

It isn’t of its genre without a relationship blooming and The List That Changed My Life delivers on this too. Jack is at first mistaken for someone else from a dating app who then Georgia has to work a little too close to, SPOILER her boss’ brother. Whilst it is all going smooth as a reader I am completely aware that this can not last through the entire book.  I can’t remember a time when I actually held my breath during reading but I did when the ‘perfect romance’ twist came. I don’t want to completely spoil it so won’t say what it is but I can say that I was genuinely surprised. Of course it all has to work out in the end (and it does, thankfully).  

Have you read The List That Changed My Life by Olivia Beirne? What’s next on your reading list?

L x

After You by Jojo Moyes

After You by Jojo Moyes

Books, LIFESTYLE

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Did you read my previous Jojo Moyes book review? Are you now confused as to why I’m reading them the wrong way round?! My husband, as a surprise, bought me Still Me not realising it was the last of three. I waited and waited and looked and looked for the second in the book series but couldn’t wait so started reading it anyway.

Seeing as I understood a lot of what was going on in the book as there are references in the third novel I didn’t have much catching up with characters to do. This was a good thing because I knew there was a happy ending but not so good in terms of knowing what was coming in the characters storylines.

Throughout After You even knowing the ending I was waiting for Louisa to find her way with her new boyfriend and surprise flatmate. Along any romantic storyline I almost hope they get together without a hitch, is it ever going to be that easy? Would I even read it if it was? Of course that isn’t the case as Louisa and Sam take well over their fair share in a troublesome beginning of coupledom.

SPOILER ALERT!

In Me Before You, if you haven’t yet read it, Louisa takes care of and falls in love with Will; a hard-truthing, sure and knowing man who changed her life and left it. After You follows the aftermath of someone dying and how she deals with this in the months following. Of course it is sad in parts but the little joys that come in between Louisa’s dark days give a little light. The way she holds on to Lily over taking a new job and the way she cares for Sam brought the novel to an even mood for me and gives a deeper understanding of life after death.

A new character you meet here is Lily (I know, I know) and she is a new teenage kind of handful that Louisa learns to care for. Lily’s story is a giant unsubtle and terrifying nod to teens (and older) growing up in the world today and Moyes portrays the hardship very well. The next character meaning came through Louisa’s mum becoming more independent through a literature class she attends. Along with her dad, the couple and their feminist/patriarchal views although a very important topic also manage to add a little humour into the novel.

I can’t say that I enjoyed After You quite as much as Still Me but I would definitely read them again, maybe even in order.

Have you read anything from Jojo Moyes?

Until next time,

L x

Reading more books in 2020

New Reading Goals for 2020

Books, LIFESTYLE

I know, I know we are nearly at the end of January (although it doesn’t feel it) and I’m still here making new goals and intentions for 2020. It’s ok though as I’ve been taking this month steady, going easy on myself and settling in to the new year and new routines.

My first new reading intention is to make time. I find time to scroll on my phone and I find time to stand around my house designing interiors I’ll never change and I find time to watch endless YouTube videos. In these times I could definitely be reading, opening my mind and doing something that completely relaxes me. I find reading and taking those moments good for my mental health so why wouldn’t I do more of it.

The second goal is to read one book a month. I’m doing well coming up to the end of January as I have finished a book (I did start it before Christmas but left it sat for too long) but I can’t wait until I have read a minimum amount of 12 over the year. I consider that for myself and my time this is workable.

The third, but not final, goal and intention is to broaden my genres. I have a strong tendency to stick to the books and genres I know. They are easy to purchase as most of the time you’ll know what you’ll get, happy go lucky themes and end up exactly how you wanted it too. I have ventured out of my comfort zone before but a while ago now and should do it again to get the best from more books.

Do you have any reading goals for 2020?

Until next time,

L x

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Books, LIFESTYLE

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Where are the first two books in the sequence I hear you ask? Well, friends and family I haven’t yet read them. My husband decided to treat me to a couple of books he saw online and Still Me by Jojo Moyes was one of them. He didn’t realise it was the third book of three and I eventually decided to read it anyway, I would pick the story up (hopefully) and if and when I could I would purchase and read Me Before You and After You, which come in that order.

Let us jump straight into this review as I clearly have a lot to say.

I LOVED IT.

Thanks for reading.

Jokes aside, I can honestly say that this has been my favourite read of the year. With only a month or so to go I feel I can say that with confidence. I managed to sit down and finish a chunk of it, like a giant chocolate brownie, all at once and I think thanks to this I was able to really fall in love with the characters. Louisa Clark – a woman we could all probably get along with who is seemingly so ‘real’ that it is easy to take a liking to her from the off. Relatable is a trait I appreciate in a character and I find I am more likely to continue reading a book if I can see elements of myself or friends in them. Mrs De Witt ended up being my favourite character in Still Me as she changed throughout the story and arguably became the most like-able, along with of course her faithful pup, Dean Martin. As mentioned in other book posts I am a sucker for a doggy sidekick in a novel and this one didn’t fail to deliver.

The story itself seemed to comprise two parts. One half to include Louisa as she started working in New York, finding her way around the city whilst having a long distance relationship back home in England and the other half finding who she was without a partner, job or place to stay. It was the second half of the story that really got me engrossed as it included many a funny one liner to which I laughed out loud (luckily at home) and cried, (multiple times). These along with the evolution of Mrs De Witt’s character and her relationship with Louisa made the second half of the book for me, simply un-put-down-able.

With a little backstory into my personal history there has always been a sewing machine roaring, dresses hung around the house waiting to be mended and always a pin to stand on when you least expected it. Quality clothes have always made their way around us so I was engrossed when Mrs De Witt and Louisa talked of their style, the fashions and their love of clothes throughout the book. I understand that this can’t be the same for every reader but made it that little more special for myself.

Unfortunately the love lives of the characters are not blessed until the end and thankfully it is as romantic as you hoped it would be with the New York setting, if not fantastically prolonged and tension building. Will Traynor, Louisa’s reason for getting herself out there in the first place, still crops up in moments of remembrance and it is a great way of coming back to how it first started, even if like me, you missed the first two books. I didn’t go in completely unawares though, I did watch the film based on the book Me Before You, (to which there were of course more tears). The love story between New Yorker new guy Josh starts as a fairytale and I was soon thinking how perfect it all seemed then reality set back in and led to me thinking, ‘that’s not how it usually works’ and lo and behold I was right, although it definitely took a turn and got me thinking.

Pulling up something a little random but this book is meaty. No I haven’t tasted it I mean more like you can really get your teeth into it. Really now I must think away from eating. It has a lot of content. That’s where I’m going with this. There are plenty of ‘scenes’ throughout the book, still flowing continuously and all linking but it really brings the story to life, rather than jumping and missing moments. Whether these are big inclusions, like Louisa’s time at home over Christmas and her meeting with ex-boyfriend Sam to smaller sections, perhaps the times spent at the library, they are all following a path rather than disjointed moments jumping from one romantic scene to the next. I understand this is probably a given and many books do have some form of secondary storyline happening but not one I have read for a long time and not as descriptive and as in-depth as Jojo Moyes does in Still Me. This absolutely goes with the novel itself and Louisa’s character development whereas it could just be a happy go lucky romance. This is probably a big reason into why I loved it. Not only does it tell of a love story but of a woman blazing her own trail and probably as well why it left me in tears in parts, nervous and laughing as I believe you could only do this when you’re really rooting for the characters and you’re taken in by the story.

I will certainly be reading Jojo Moyes other books after reading Still Me and already can’t wait to see whats on the shelves next time I’m out. Sorry not sorry if you didn’t like the book and came here for an unbiased review, cause well, I don’t have one. It will be the book I hand to my mum to read and she’ll love it too.

Until next time,

L x

Always with Love by Giovanna Fletcher

Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher

Books, LIFESTYLE

I started following Giovanna Fletcher on Instagram a few months back and loved her content. It was so real and connecting that when she bought out her ‘new at the time’ book Some Kind of Wonderful I wanted to read the books she had previously written. It was Always With Love that I found in the bookshop first and of course then had to pick it up even if it was one part of a bigger story.

Even though I hadn’t read the others in the series following Billy and Me I was immediately absorbed and picked the story up easily. It has an air of including the best of both worlds and as it has the real life vs celebrity life narrative it delivers a certain element of fantasy. Not in the sense of magic but more in the way of those dreaming of a celeb life.

This novel, Always With Love, follows the story of Sophie and Billy as he takes up work in Los Angeles while she runs a tea room and cake shop in Rosefont Hill in the UK. It takes you through the challenges they face living apart and continuing their relationships via letters, phone calls and fly in visits and the emotions and struggles that this can come with. These lie both within the family and friends that Sophie and Billy have individually when they are apart and the differences in the lifestyle, what they each deem to be ‘normal’ in their everyday. Even after having a relationship previous to this book the characters seem to be still finding their feet with these new obstacles, especially as Sophie is now to be part of Billy’s life as he returns to acting. Their relationship before refers to a ‘quieter life’ being together in Rosefont Hill.

I am a sucker for a cosy environment and Giovanna Fletcher describes the tea rooms so well it makes me want to open one immediately. There are a few novels that include a tea shop or involve cakes in some way and I can definitely see why as a comfort, cosy factor certainly adds to a good romance novel. The writing works in same way that a life in LA sounds just as good with the description of the city being drenched in a sunrise of ‘luscious purples’, ‘vivid reds’ and ‘perfect pinks’. Written like this does make the reader vote for a move either side of the world as there are pro’s and con’s to both, a theme which keeps you hanging on right until the end of the book asking the question, where will Billy choose?

Reading Always With Love does make me want to read Giovanna Fletcher’s other novels including Eve of Man that she wrote with her husband Tom as I enjoy the way she writes. I will definitely read the novels that cam before this one and likely read this again after, to follow the characters along. Have you read Always With Love or have any recommendations?

Until next time,

L x

The Juniper Gin Joint by Lizzie Lovell

The Juniper Gin Joint by Lizzie Lovell

Books, LIFESTYLE

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A little tongue twister for you there, The Juniper Gin Joint. This was my first novel from Lizzie Lovell and I picked this up when I was looking for some holiday reads back in July. The cover is super colourful so grabbed my attention and the title has gin in it so I was doubly sold. Gin’s ‘moment’ is not over yet and I am still tasting new combinations now. We briefly visited The Lakes Distillery (but are yet to do a tour) and I was gifted Gin Festival tickets a couple of years ago so I am still all about it and had to pick up this book.

The premise of the story doesn’t start until fairly late on in the book and although the theme of gin runs throughout it isn’t really highlighted until near the end, just touches on the idea here and there. I have learnt a bit about the gin making process yet although my Dad makes a mean rhubarb gin I don’t think I’ll be starting anytime soon.

This novel sees Jen, in her mid-life years, with two children and ageing father and an ex-husband. The story follows her working with friends at a quiet, failing museum and meeting a new love interest at the beginning. The middle uncovers more about Jen’s past and previous relationships (with her now loathed rival). It also follows the relationships with her children and what obstacles you might have to over come if they run away with their boyfriend.

A good love story always pulls at the heart strings and this is exactly what was delivered. A complicated previous relationship and a new gentleman on the horizon makes for a good romance and brings a touch of suspense in the will they/won’t they drama. What I did like was how shy Tom, her new love interest, was and just when you thought they were about to state their undying love for each other it would go the other way.

Being a dog person I am also a sucker for a puppy somewhere in the storyline. This one, luckily for me, had multiple puppies so I was more than happy. Other than adorable pups one of my favourite characters was her dad. A forgetful older gent with a penchant for heading to the shed at the right time. It added both comedic timing and a little heartwarming touch and again brought in true to life characteristics.

I suppose every story needs some kind of villain and this story is no different. you could I guess choose Jen’s ex-husband who left with another woman but wants to return yet there is also Dave. Dave wages a war against Jen’s team of save-the-musuem-gin-bar openers and wants to destroy a historical part of the community to turn it into a run of the mill pub chain. Do you think he’ll get his way?

The Juniper Gin Joint was a great read and I’ll keep it close to read again in the future without a doubt. Let me know if you’ve read it or anything else from Lizzie Lovell.

Until next time,

L x

Talk like Ted by Carmine Gallo

Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo

Books, LIFESTYLE

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It was my husband that first picked this up but I admit I am a total book thief and read everything if it looks in the least interesting or a slightly fun read. The book, Talk Like Ted, was written by Carmine Gallo who I hadn’t heard of before now but am interested on looking into his history a little more after reading to find other reads in the business genre.

It can be guessed correctly that this book is based on presentations, speeches and how to deliver both confidently whilst keeping the interest of your listeners and now, viewers. To be honest I have watched a few Ted Talks presentations but never really thought about the amount of preparation that went into each by the person delivering them. Thinking about this now I must say this book opened my eyes a little on the work, the nerves and the outcomes that each presenter may feel.

Given the topic throughout I didn’t really engage fully with some parts of the book as I wasn’t preparing myself for a huge speech but can see how it would help those who were. I did find some chapters and paragraphs very interesting, one of these being the 18 minute rule. Watching the Ted Talks previously I hadn’t thought about how long they lasted but it’s great to keep people’s attention. The book throughout does well to keep the reader engaged and moves cleanly from chapters, ideas and suggestions. What I also liked about it is that some paragraphs are in bold to grab attention or pick out topics and there are diagrams to demonstrate ideas. Parts also break up in bullet points, with images or headers which makes what could be a heavily informative book a lot lighter and divided into sections makes it easier to digest certain sections or engage the reader in other ways, instead of pushing the information one way only.

If you are giving a presentation at work or get nervous speaking in front of people this book could be a good read. If you are looking for ideas on how to put together a great speech, timing, and delivery again it could be a great help.

Let me know if you have read this book and if it helped your presenting style if you did.

Until next time,

L x

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Books, LIFESTYLE

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My first book for review was written by Sophie Kinsella who I have previously read other titles from but not for years. The story of My Not-So Perfect Life follows Katie who has moved to London for work and to find a better, cooler lifestyle. Little did she know that city life and keeping up appearances wouldn’t be quite as much fun as she first thought. Her work environment makes it hard to stand out, the girls in her office seem to have it so much easier and her boss, Demeter, seems so perfect.

Katie goes on to meet the ideal guy who seems like he could be the one until she hears rumours from colleagues he’s secretly with her boss. Her life all but crumbles down when Katie gets fired from her job in London. Her house share suddenly becomes far too expensive and she soon has to move home to help her dad with his new glamping business in Somerset, without him realising what’s going on of course.

For a while she is able to keep up with her lie that her life in London is great in front of her Dad and his girlfriend, Biddy, that is until her ex-boss comes glamping with her family and Katie’s love interest turns up to fire her.

It all gets quite funny as Katie invents a form of meditation in the woods and secrets get unravelled whilst trying to still keep everything from spilling out in front of her Dad and Biddy.

Throughout the book there are some good twists and I thoroughly enjoyed letting the story carry me away.

Reading this book you certainly want a happy ending and it thankfully delivers. I believe a few people could relate to the story entwined in the book too. Instagram only shows you part of someone. They post what they want you to see but there may be so much more going off behind the scenes. Katie realises this and goes from posting a seemingly perfect lifestyle to the real stuff, to which I’m sure many readers can relate.

The story is easy to follow along with the characters and again a lot of people could probably pick out parts of themselves or others throughout the book which makes it fun. It is lighthearted and a recommended read if you are a fan of the chick lit genre like me.

Let me know if you’ve read this book or if there are any more from Sophie Kinsella that you would definitely recommend!

Until next time,

L x