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

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice

Books, LIFESTYLE

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You can see from the pictures that this is a well read book. I have owned it for a few years now and read it multiple times, it is definitely one of my favourites.

The story follows Penelope growing up and finding her feet in the era post war with a new friend, Charlotte, at her side. It covers the glamour of the time with cocktail parties, the constant need for a new outfit and how everyone knows it is all about looking the part and being seen. I absolutely love this aspect of it and this can span over multiple decades finding links in any time. Far from the glamour, Penelope, although living in a grand house with a rich history, has a Mama who is scared to move forward into a modern world and her brother, Inigo who is desperate to lead the way. Penelope is a huge fan of singer and celebrity Johnnie Ray attending concerts and listening to vinyls on repeat and attends school where she learns literature but actually wants to be attending gatherings and climbing the social ladder.

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets certainly doesn’t fail in terms of bringing the glitz and the glamour and it puts the reader right in the centre of parties in upper class London. It tells of beautiful but damaged actresses, American film producers and famous musicians. Rice gives an edge of realism but in such a dreamy way that I’ve floated around with an air that I’m part of 1950’s high society for days after reading.

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice

Milton Magna Hall is the home of our main character, her widowed and beautiful Mama and her Elvis loving brother. And a guinea pig. The family are rich enough to have a cook but not enough to repair the damaged, rundown large abode and save it from the leaks, cracks and torn upholstery. The description of the house gives a great insight to what living in a family estate, with no money for the upkeep, can actually mean.

The characters in the story that do have money are Rocky Dakota, American extraordinaire. He’s plays the part for both comfort and fear for other characters in the book and it comes across as if he will sort everything out. Then there is Marina, vulnerable actress but with a definite taste for drama who blames Penelope for stealing her man. Charlotte’s Aunt Clare is a woman of the world without a hint of self doubt and an all knowing of the things that are. Something about this book that I absolutely love are the characters themselves. Gracious and beautiful in places to rash and charmingly abrasive in others.

The story includes tales of love and loss right from the start. The chance meeting with Charlotte leads to her cousin Harry who is, by and large, not your typical tall dark and handsome character. More like the charismatic best friend with a mysterious aura but immediately the reader knows he’s hanging around in the story. Penelope’s Mama and Aunt Clare share someone in common and Harry has his past and future to decide between.

After reading, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets has me wanting to take to a chaise longue with a martini and slice of cake on a side table, and spend all night at glamorous parties until breakfast at dawn. In equal amounts.

I can do that right?

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