The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams

What a perfect summer read – I mean, I know you should not judge a book by its cover, but this book cover certainly says ‘perfect summer read’. In fact, you should be reading this somewhere hot and sunny – or, failing that create your own summer escape. (Which the wonderful Book Taster helped us do this month with all our lovely goodies).

Anyway, back to the book. This book was a great read for the summer break. Annie’s wedding is called off – as she arrives at the church. For some, this could be the end of everything but, for Annie, it becomes a whole new adventure, because she takes her honeymoon anyway – with another man. On her Australian adventure, she takes the chance to re-evaluate life, and realise maybe it was all a lucky escape – and should she be following another path?

This is a light-hearted read with a big message. Maybe we do need to remember sometimes that we do not have to follow the path that society makes us feel we have to – I mean, afterall, one size does not fit all. But, also, you do not have to stick to the plans you have made.

I just found this book an enjoyable read and almost like a little holiday.

Looking forward to hearing all the book clubbers share their thoughts – and if they all want to rush off to Australia too?

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

As part of a ‘Collective Voices Readalong’ for Tandem Collective UK, I read ‘Take a Hint, Dani Brown’ by Talia Hibbert.

This is probably a book that I would never have picked up without that encouragement. It really is not a book that you should judge by its cover – that suggests a whimsical romance story; a hero and his girl. However, this book tackles so much more and so skilfully.

This is the tale of Dani Brown, who has convinced herself that romance and relationships are not for her – her ambition is enough, as long as she has a bit on the side. Zaf is a lover of romance novels and really likes Dani, if only she would notice, or at least see him as more than a friend. This may sound like a trope-filled romantic fiction novel, however underpinning all this are themes of identity, grief, mental health and healthy relationships. It becomes a real page-turner as you want to know more about Zaf, Dani and their stories. And, of course, if they will get their happy ending.

Nowm this quite a sexy book and, in some ways, it is quite liberating to read a book which is not afraid to be quite so liberal. However, it won’t be for everyone. Although, you could easily skip this without losing anything from the book.

I do now feel invested in the finding out more about the Brown sisters, so will be reading more of Talia Hibbert’s books. This a well-written, contemporary piece of fiction – with a sexy edge.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Oh wow – I am LATE to the party with this novel. Every single bookstagrammer and bookblogger in the world seemed to have read this book – so, I finally gave in. Well, I am glad that I did decide to give it a go.

This is not just a tale of romance with two charming central characters, but it dares to tackle some harder topics. The control of Tiff’s ex comes under real scrutiny. It is interesting that the book tackles something that really should be discussed more; great that it brings it to a wider audience.

However, the real charm of this book is, of course, the developing relationship between Leon and Tiff. How two complete strangers , yet also two flatmates, manage to help each other discover the life they really should be living. Of course, there is the odd bump in the road (a risk of social media), and, a few false starts, but love always seems to find a way. Even for the lovely Mr Prior, which was one of my favourite plots in the book.

I can understand why this books has such a loyal band of followers. It is a charming story with a lovely collection of characters. The perfect comfort read for these strange times – a clear reason why reading is a perfect piece of escapism.

Paris for One by Jojo Moyes

A friend of mine who loves books as much as I do shared this beautiful book with me. After I insisted that I would enjoy a book of short stories, even though I love Jojo Moyes, she proved me well and truly wrong.

In fact, I finished the book in no time at all. The simple thing that drew me in was the fact that there were so many fabulous females in the stories. It was great to read about ‘normal’ women who carry the same anxieties and guilty secrets many of us do (I do have rather a weak spot for crisps, like one of the heroines).

My favourite stories were both based in Paris. The lovely story that gives the book its title drew me straight in. In fact, it left me with a burning desire to visit Paris. The romance and adventure that the city can offer all those who visit, for whatever reason, is beautifully created in this story. You root for the heroine from the moment you start reading, as a series of unfortunate events leads her on quite an adventure and, ultimately, to a much better happy ending than she may have been due if she did not seize the day.

My second-favourite piqued my interest, as it is a lovely story that flits between the past and present to tell the story of two newlywed women who clearly knew what they wanted and how to ensure that they had it. However, it also suggests that sometimes there needs to be compromise. It also harks back to the romance of Paris in the early 20th century and the artistic lifestyle led by those who wanted to share their passion for art.

However, overall, the whole book is a joy of stories that are page turners. It has certainly made me excited for the publication of Jojo Moyes new book, ‘Still Me’, in January. I also may be less dismissive of short story collections in future, as it is a real talent to be able to tell a story in so few words and pages.