Book Review: Then. Now. Always.

thennowalwaysI couldn’t wait to get my hands on Isabelle Broom’s latest book but, at the same time, I was nervous.

It wasn’t that I didn’t think Then. Now. Always. would be good, I knew it would be, but I loved her last book so, SO much and I knew it would obviously be different.

Thankfully it’s a good different. A brilliant different, even. With just enough of the things I loved about A Year And A Day – things that now seem to be inherent to the way she writes – repeated that my nerves soon settled and enjoyment took over.

Here’s the blurb:

I hope you’re ready for an adventure. Twenty-eight year old Hannah certainly is.

She and her colleagues are in Spain for a month to film a documentary, and it’s a dream come true. Not least because Hannah will get to spend long summer days with Theo, her boss (and crush).

If only Tom (Hannah’s best friend and cameramen) and Claudette (the presenter) would stop getting in the way… Then things become even more complicated when Nancy, Hannah’s half-sister arrives. What is she doing here? For once in her life, can’t Hannah just have one perfect summer, free of any drama?

Reading one of Isabelle’s books is like opening the door to some new friends. Her characters are so well developed that they seem like real people rather than ones she has conjured from her imagination. She seems to understand the complexities of human emotion and be able to transfer that so eloquently to the page.

One of the things I really enjoyed about her last book was the way the setting, the historic and beautiful city of Prague, almost became another character. This time, Isabelle gives the same treatment to the mountain village of Mojacar, in southern Spain, making it come to life so that I immediately wanted to book a holiday there and maybe get a tattoo too (read the book and you’ll see why).

There is a happy ending but it’s not the perfect, all ends neatly tied one you so often find – and it’s all the better for it.

 Format: Kindle.

 Price: £4.99.

 My rating: Five stars.

Thank you to Penguin (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.

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My Top Five Books Of 2016.

Just in case you are looking for a last minute Christmas gift, either for yourself (go on, you deserve it) or a loved one, I thought I’d recommend my top five books from my favourite genres of women’s fiction/romantic fiction this year.

In the past I have often stuck to the authors I know and love but, thanks to NetGalley, I’ve not only been able to pick up some familiar favourites but also find some lovely new authors to add to my ‘must read’ list.

Picking just five (ok, six) from the 17 I’ve reviewed this year was tough because I enjoyed them all but I was lucky enough to get my hands on some truly standout novels, which I happily recommend.

1 – Joint first place goes to Joanna Bolouri and her (rather sweary) book The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year and Isabelle Broom with A Year And A Day. I don’t give out five stars lightly but I loved these two from start to finish (literally from the first sentence in A Year And A Day). The fact I still occasionally think about the characters many weeks after I finished them made picking them as my top choices very easy.

 

2 – One Christmas In Paris by Mandy Baggot. I always know I’m going to enjoy a book by this author but I feel she added something a little bit extra this time.

3 – Mistletoe On 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson. This book made me snort. You might not think that’s a good thing but to me it was the sign of a very funny and enjoyable read.

4 – Snowflakes On Silver Cove by Holly Martin. The first book I actually reviewed this year. Even though it’s a Christmas novel, I bought it in January and it made me feel festive all over again. Holly Martin was new to me at that point but I have since devoured all of her books.

5 – Miss Wrong And Mr Right by Robert Bryndza. There are some fabulous characters in this book, including a hilarious Hungarian gran, who I think should have her own series.

Thank you so much to all of the authors (and their publishers) for letting me review their books. As a would-be writer I have nothing but respect for anyone who can pen an entire novel, let alone of the quality I have been privy to this year.

I’ve already read some amazing books set to be published in 2017 and I can’t wait to share them.

What has been your favourite book of 2016? I’m always looking for more things to read.

Book Review: A Year And A Day.

yearday

Three different women.

Three intertwining love stories.

One unforgettable, timeless city.

From the very first sentence of A Year And A Day I was captivated – and long after I read the final page, my thoughts kept going back to this exceptional book.

Isabelle Broom is, undoubtedly, a fantastic storyteller, with a wonderful, lyrical way of writing.

In her latest book, she not only creates characters who I liked so much I had to remind myself that they were fictional but also manages to cleverly weave three very different stories together in a way that feels entirely natural. They build and build to reach a breathtaking climax – even now it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

What unites them, other than deep underlying love of different kinds, is the beautiful, almost mystical, city of Prague but it is so much more than just a backdrop – it’s almost a fourth story.

Here’s the rest of the blurb:

Welcome to a city where wishes are everywhere.

For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she’s determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything – and she won’t let that happen again . . .

For Hope, the trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she’s struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it’s all her fault . . .

For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can’t stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past . . .

The story switches between Megan, Hope and Sophie but they are staying at the same hotel and eventually their lives intertwine while exploring the Czech Republic’s capital city.

I was lucky enough to visit Prague several years ago and have very fond memories of exploring its historic streets, which I have no doubt added to my pleasure when reading this book. Even if you haven’t been it won’t matter as Isabelle creates a clear picture of the city – especially through Megan’s eyes (or perhaps lens, as she’s a photographer).

I can’t help but think, even though it feels a bit sacrilegious to suggest it, that this book would work brilliantly as a film (obviously everyone who wanted to watch it would have to swear they had already read the book first).

I don’t give full marks lightly (this is only my second five star review on the blog) but I would probably give this 6/5 if it was possible.

It is an unforgettable read.

Format: Kindle (published Nov 17).

Price: £4.99.

My rating: Five stars.

Thank you so much to Penguin UK, via NetGalley, for the ARC in return for my honest opinion.