Review: The Last Laugh by Tracy Bloom

The Last Laugh by Tracy Bloom
The Last Laugh
by Tracy Bloom

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Often heartbreaking, occasionally hilarious and always very real and touching. I very much enjoyed this story. One to be read in the house with a big box of tissues on standby.


THE BLURB

‘I’ve googled it, how to die,’ Jenny says to Maureen. ‘It was full of climbing this mountain, swimming that sea, becoming a marathon runner and raising millions for charity.’

‘Sounds like bloody hard work. You can make it more fun than that surely?’

Jenny discovers her days are numbered at the same time she discovers her husband is having an affair…

Frankly, her life was tough enough already. Two tricky teenagers, her mother’s constant complaints, friends who aren’t up to the job and a career which has been spiralling downwards since she won ‘Sunseeker Tour Rep of the Season’ twenty years ago.

And now this: a cheating husband and a death sentence.

Enough is enough. Jenny vows to keep both catastrophes a secret. She takes her life – and death – into her own hands and decides to live as she did when she was happiest… in 1996. She plans a spectacular 1990’s themed party in place of a wake that she herself will attend. But will she be able to keep her secrets for long enough to have the party of a lifetime?


MY REVIEW

Based on the synopsis I had a sneaky suspicion that this was not going to be a happy book (it’s about a 45 year old woman who finds out she has cancer and that her husband is having an affair on the same day) but while it is heartbreaking and poignant there is something very positive and uplifting about it. I may have cried my way through around 75% of the story but the other 25% had me laughing out loud.

Bloom’s writing is very real and easy to fall into and from the very first page I was totally behind main character Jenny. My life may be in a completely different place but there was something very relateable about her and the situation she finds herself in. She’s such a likeable character, down to earth, funny and far too nice and caring, she’s the type of person I’d want as a friend so watching her going through this was heartbreaking.

While the story is about how Jenny deals with her diagnosis the focus is definitely not on living with cancer. Things like treatment, pain and other complications are mentioned but as Jenny is trying to ignore them, they’re generally glossed over quickly. Instead the focus is very much on the relationships in her life and the author portrays them brilliantly. Again there was so much to relate to and many of the situations felt very familiar, spending time with family but never having a real conversation, the one upmanship and judgement from so called “friends” and how sometimes even the best of friends drift apart over time.

I’m probably making this sound like a really depressing story but it’s really not. There are so many funny moments scattered throughout I found myself crying one second and laughing the next. Jenny’s attempts to bring 1996 back and her family’s reactions are hilarious and elderly friend Maureen’s no nonsense and practical approach had me laughing out loud. I also loved the freedom Jenny found to speak her mind to those around her, I was cheering her on the whole way.

If I had one quibble with this book though, it’s probably the ending. It was a little too sudden for me and seemed to come from nowhere. I can’t think of a better ending but it just felt a little incomplete to me.

Overall though this was a really great read and I found myself flying through it. I would recommend though that if you do read it you keep the tissues handy. It’s an emotional rollercoaster.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

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Review: The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach by Kat French

The Bed and Breakfast on the BeachThe Bed and Breakfast on the Beach by Kat French

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Another perfect summer read from Kat French.

I’ve been a big fan of Kat (and alter ego Kitty) French for a while and always look forward to a new book from her. This time we’re off to a B&B on a little known Greek Island with three thirty something women who are at a bit of a cross roads in their lives. Stella has lost her job, Frankie has split from her husband now that their children are grown up and Winnie has found out her husband has been unfaithful.

When they take a short break to Villa Valentina on the sun soaked Greek Island of Skelidos and are plied with numerous G&T’s by the B&B’s charming owner they somehow find themselves the new owners of the B&B and a few other things. They decide to make a go of it but can the B&B offer a new start or is it one adventure too far.

I liked this story a lot. It’s light and fluffy with a little bit of romance, a few touching moments and more than a few laughs. I loved the setting of the shabby chic villa on Skelidos and I think French’s descriptions of the island and the locals were the real highlight of the story. I could almost imagine myself relaxing on the beach or beside the pool with one of the Island’s special Gin and tonics in one hand and a book in the other.

The relationship between the three friends Stella, Frankie and Winnie was also wonderfully portrayed. They had been friends since childhood and despite being very different you got a real sense of closeness and camaraderie between them. I loved how they teased each other but were always there to support each other, even when there was the odd disagreement.

With three main characters and at times three different storylines going on it did feel a bit much to me. The pov switched between characters quite a lot, particularly in the beginning, and for this reason I didn’t think enough time was spent on certain characters or plot lines. I would have preferred if the story had focused on one of the three women and their relationship, allowing a little more depth and emotion. This is however a personal preference as I’m not generally a fan of romances with more than one couple. It may have been for this reason that I didn’t feel any particular spark between any of the couples.

Snarky Australian next door neighbor Jessie did bring the phwoar factor but he just wasn’t there enough for me and the other guys were a little bit meh. French can write some really great steamy scenes and has proven before that she can bring real emotion into a rom com so I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t get it from this book. It’s very possible I was just not in the right frame of mind when I was reading it.

Overall, it is a great read and perfect for lying on the beach by the pool (or if you’re in Scotland like me, hiding from the rain). There are a lot of funny moments and a few really sweet ones so I did enjoy it, I just didn’t quite love it as much as some of her others.

Thanks to NetGalley and the Avon for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach was released on 22nd June and you can find it here on Amazon UK, here on Amazon US and here on Book Depository 🙂

Review: Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes

Paris for One and Other StoriesParis for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m generally not a fan of short stories, they’re far too short, so why I decided to pick up this collection is probably a fair question. The answer was very simple, Jojo Moyes. I absolutely love Jojo Moyes writing and think I have read pretty much every book she’s written. I was therefore very curious to see what she would do with the shorter format. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been really let down by a favorite authors attempt at a short story but thankfully Moyes didn’t disappoint.Read More »

ARC Review: Spring at Blueberry Bay by Holly Martin

Spring at Blueberry BaySpring at Blueberry Bay by Holly Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Funny and sweet romance. This put a big ginormous smile on my face and made a cold and miserable day so much brighter.

When I spied this on Netgalley I couldn’t resist requesting as it sounded like just the type of book I was in need of. Having read some heavy and kind of depressing books I was looking for something light, fluffy and romantic to get me out of a slump so this seemed like the perfect choice. From the very pretty cover to the enticing blurb this was definitely a story that appealed and it didn’t let me down.

Read More »

ARC Review: New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan

New York, Actually (From Manhattan with Love, #4)New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I always look forward to Sarah Morgan’s next book and this one, the fourth in her From Manhattan with Love series, didn’t disappoint.

It’s funny, romantic and kinda hot. There are some definite sparks in this contemporary romance and I’m loving the New York setting. Perfect for a lazy day spent reading.


The Blurb (from GoodReads)

Meet Molly

New York’s most famous agony aunt, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they’re other people’s. The only love of her life is her Dalmatian, Valentine.

Meet Daniel

A cynical divorce lawyer, he’s hardwired to think relationships are a bad idea. If you don’t get involved, no-one can get hurt. But then he finds himself borrowing a dog to meet the gorgeous woman he sees running in Central Park every morning…

Molly and Daniel think they know everything there is to know about relationships…until they meet each other that is…


Thoughts

It’s not the most original of stories, man pretends to be something he’s not to catch the eye of someone he fancies, but Morgan does it so well. It’s an addictive and fun read that I read from cover to cover in the space of a day. Molly is a very likeable character and, while she has a troubled past she was trying to get away from, it wasn’t at all what I thought it would be and definitely brought a unique twist. I loved how she was both vulnerable and also quite fiery. She doesn’t take any nonsense and is very able for the supremely charming and persuasive Daniel.

Daniel, well he’s determined to get what he wants and will go to any lengths to get it (even if it means borrowing a dog and pretending to be a dog person) but you can’t help but like him. He also hasn’t had the best past and despite the charm and the polish there’s a very kind and caring man underneath it all.

The relationship between the two is brilliant. Morgan knows how to create some real chemistry between her characters and there were some definite sparks. There’s a lot of banter and teasing (and one hilarious moment of revenge) but there are a lot of quite sweet moments too. They were definitely a couple I was rooting for.

The supporting characters were well developed and I loved how heavily the dogs Valentine and Brutus featured although I do now want a dog. This book did introduce a few new characters who weren’t in the original trilogy and for me they were welcome additions.

Overall a great story that I’d recommend to any one looking for a fun and romantic read with a few surprises along the way. I should also add that while it is the fourth in the series it could quite easily be read as a standalone as there isn’t too much of an overlap with previous books.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an ARC. All views are my own.

ARC Review: All She Ever Wished For by Claudia Carroll

All She Ever Wished ForAll She Ever Wished For by Claudia Carroll

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Probably wrongly, I feel a little bit misled by this book. Based on the cover, the title and the release date of October I kind of thought that this was going to be a Christmas romance and unfortunately it’s not. I no doubt should have paid a bit more attention to the blurb but I just got too excited about a Claudia Carroll Christmas story. I absolutely loved Meet Me In Manhattan and would probably rate it as one of my all time favourite Christmas romances.

Alas in this case it was not to be. That’s not to say this is not a great story, because it is. It’s the story of two women, Kate and Tess who are at very different points in their lives. Kate’s marriage to billionaire Damien King is over and Tess is planning her wedding to art historian Bernard. Their lives intersect one day on the Ha’penny bridge, when Tess comes across Kate in tears, and then a couple of years later when Tess is called for jury duty and ends up embroiled in a legal dispute between Kate and Damien over a painting.

The chapters alternate between Tess and Kate for the most part (Bernard gets a couple of chapters) with Tess’s chapters set in the present and telling the story of her wedding plans, the court case and her relationship with Bernard, his family and hers. Kate’s chapters are mostly flashbacks, telling the story of her relationship with Damien from their first meeting to the events that resulted in them in court battling over custody of a painting.

I have to admit that initially I found the story a little on the slow side and this wasn’t helped by the fact that I didn’t really take to either Tess or Kate. Both came across as quite weak characters, with Tess particularly frustrating me with her blindness to the fact that she and Bernard were a complete mismatch.

Where the story really picks up however is when the court case begins. I really enjoyed Tess’s attempts to get out of jury duty and loved some of the conversations between the jurors who are primarily composed of pensioners.

I don’t think I ever took to Kate unfortunately and this is probably the main reason why I rated it as I did. The flashbacks were interesting but as a lot of them were in the form of newspaper articles it was kind of difficult to get that connection. She felt a bit absent to me and honestly I don’t think I cared what the outcome of the case would be.

Bernard and his family were also a little annoying to me. They were just that bit too stereotyped as socially awkward, eccentric, intellectuals. I think I spent most of the story waiting for Tess to come to her senses and call the wedding off which I suppose in a way did keep me reading.

As a Claudia Carroll book it is well written and there is some fantastic dialogue but it just seemed to be missing that little spark for me.

Overall, therefore I’d say good rather than great.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb (from GoodReads)

A gorgeous story of chance meetings and unexpected friendships . . . because sometimes what you’ve always wished for isn’t necessarily what life has in store . . .

Marriage. It’s a dream come true. Isn’t it?

One wet winter night, two women meet on a bridge. One is Tess Taylor, a personal trainer on the way to meet her boyfriend for date night. The other is Kate King, a celebrity married to a handsome billionaire who just happens to make her cry. In the cold dark evening, there is nothing to link them together but the bridge they shiver on. Little do they know they’ll both hold the key to each other’s future marriage…

All She Ever Wished For tells the story of what happens when your dream is about to come true. And what happens when that dream turns into a bit of a nightmare…