I have read a lot of great books this last year, but I sifted through and picked my favourite ten. They aren't in any order (that's just TOO hard a job), but if you haven't read them then I would highly recommend them.
Don't Want To Miss A Thing - Jill Mansell
Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Swetshop of Dreams - Jenny Colgan
I was very lucky to receive an early copy of Harriet Evans new book Not Without You and having enjoyed her others was looking forward to it. What I didn't realise was that the book would be the best in this genre I have read this year so far! Sophie Leigh is a movie star; except her real name is Sophie Sykes and she originally grew up in England even though she now leads the glamorous life of an A-Lister. The early chapters are interesting as we get to meet Sophie and her slightly mad life with the crazy `Hollywood' types such as her agent. You also get to see the real Sophie too which I liked. She's a pretty ordinary girl who made it as an actress but she has a real passion for the old time movie star Eve Noel. Eve Noel was a star herself in the 50s and 60s but then disappeared from public life never to be seen again.
At first glance Harriet's book looks like any other number of books in this genre but what the cover doesn't convey is that there is a somewhat dark side to this story. We get to see Sophie's life start to spiral as she refuses to do another `Rom-Com' movie, and the fans that once loved her seem to now despise her. There are numerous characters appearing in this book and what I really loved is the fact that the synopsis gives just enough away without telling too much. I will aim to do the same so will refrain from going over certain details of the book.
We get to see Sophie change locations so the book is part set in USA and part in the English countryside. I felt myself getting pulled further and further into the book and certain elements had a dark side and I was questioning who was involved in it right until the end. The biggest factor which made this book so enjoyable was the fact that although we see Sophie, we also go back to Eve Noel's life and her rise and fall from fame. It was done so cleverly that you wonder how the two women's lives will eventually cross over, or if they will at all. I read this book in a matter of two days and absolutely loved everything about it. It just felt so original and fresh, it really did tale me into their worlds.
I read a lot of books and sometimes every now and then one just makes it mark. Harriet Evans latest release is one such book. It is the best book I have read this year in this genre and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you think female fiction is all about love romance and happy endings don't be fooled. Harriet Evans' new book packs in a little bit of everything, creating a story that everyone can enjoy.
I read a book by Harriet Evans earlier in the year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was looking forward to reading her latest book but wasn't prepared for the bumper book that landed on my doorstep. At 420 pages it's certainly a hefty book but that didn't put me off at all.
The book starts off early in Elle's life when she was a young girl and then quickly moves to her starting out her working life doing the one thing she loves; books! Elle is a character that if I am being honest I didn't warm to straight away. Her life is made so complicate by her incessant need to worry about everything. She comes across as a very naïve girl trying to make her way amongst the other more glamorous women working in publishing.
Her boss Rory was also a character that I didn't particularly like, although that didn't change throughout the book. The story was interesting and Harriet Evans writing style is very easy to read. However, the first part of the book was set in 1997 and then there was a jump to a few years later as we literally see Elle grow up.
As each section of the book takes us to a point further in Elle's life, I admit I liked her a little more, but her life itself left a lot to be desired. Some of the other characters in the book stuck around for longer than others but only one or two stuck out for me. Elle's friend Tom was a nice guy, as was Sam her flatmate, but the rest just didn't sit well with me.
The further into the book I got the more I enjoyed it, but towards the end which took place in 2008 over ten years later I felt like the story hadn't quite taken the turn I expected. The story held interest for me, and I actually liked the fact that we see Elle grow up but by the time I finished I wasn't quite sure how I felt. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I read more of Harriet Evans books? Yes, definitely? Well then why was I still unsure? That I don't actually know, but can only say that maybe I felt something was missing. Overall a good read but certainly not a favourite for me.
Natasha Kapoor's life seems to be on a downward spiral. Her business and marriage are failing and her beloved Grandmother who lived in Cornwall has passed away. She travels back to Summercove, the family home in Cornwall, for her Grandmother's funeral. Whilst there, she discovers the diary of her aunt Cecily who died as a teenager. Natasha starts to read the diary and soon discovers that her family are hiding secrets. She is determined to find out what happened in the summer of 1963, but when she finds the truth, will she like what she hears?
This book when it landed on my doorstep shocked me a little as it is certainly a hefty read at just over 500 pages. If I am being totally honest I wondered why this book would be different to any other Chick Lit book I had read and whether I could handle such a long read. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised.
The first thing that struck me as odd once I had finished the book was the front cover. When you first see it, you imagine it is no different and will be your typical `girl meets boy' scenario book. The cover is at odds with the type of story this book tells.
At first I found the book a little slow going as we get to meet Natasha and her family. It all seemed a little stilted and hard work. At around the chapter 5 mark I was beginning to wonder whether I should bother reading on, however I don't give up easily. By around chapter 10 there was absolutely no turning back and I had engrossed myself in the story.
The book is told over two time periods. We see Natasha and her current life, dealing with all her troubles and the discovery of her aunt Cecily's diary. The second time period is that of the summer of 1963 as we too read Cecily's diary. If I am being completely honest, I preferred the 1963 part of the story as there were a lot more secrets being made cleared the more you read. Having said that I didn't dislike Natasha's story, it was just a little duller in comparison to that of Cecily's.
The story itself has real heart and we see all of Natasha's family in this story, some of them nice and some of them not so nice. All of the characters were really believable and by the end I really felt for everybody involved. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and although it wasn't the best I have read recently it was certainly enjoyable. It is a story that goes against the normal grain of romance and has characters that are quite memorable. I will certainly be reading more of Harriet Evans in the future and would recommend if you want something not too heavy, but a little more serious than the usual Chick Lit stuff.