Thursday, 11 March 2021

Review | Love is Crystal Clear by Joanna Cates

Published on December 10, 2020


Love is Crystal Clear is Joanna Cates debut novel and it is a refreshingly uplifting and romantic tale of self-discovery and second chances.

Henri is fifty-one and single, fifteen years after the breakup of her marriage when her husband had an affair. Danny’s relationship also ended in similar fashion when he uprooted his life only to discover his wife had been cheating on him and didn’t really love him at all. Both characters have been through enough heartache and have closed themselves off from love. But on a night out with friends, one day they meet, and sparks fly. Henri and Danny can’t stop thinking about each other. Could it be time for a second chance at love?

The beginning of the book gets the reader up to speed on the former love lives of the main characters and then in present day, initially for Henri in particular there is lots of talk about sex and little else. Early on the women in this book definitely seemed to have sex on the brain and I was looking for the story and for the romance, but Joanna Cates didn’t disappoint on this front as I grew to connect with the characters and see the depth to their feelings and how genuine they were.

The characters in Love is Crystal Clear are about to discover that life doesn’t stop when you hit the big five-oh. Henri and her friend Maggie may be going through the menopause but that doesn’t mean the end of their own stories. Joanna Cates writes about life for these women with honesty and humour. There’s plenty left for Henri and Maggie to discover including the pleasure of self-love and reinventing parts of their lives that their children and even partners had long forgotten existed for women of a certain age!

This book kept me entertained. It was fast-paced, saucy and heartfelt with likeable and engaging characters that were easy to root for and invest in their potential happy-ever-afters. I did feel that the book could have been longer as the fast pace meant at times things seemed a bit rushed when they could have been played out more. The quick pace did contribute to the feel-good vibes the book possessed but I felt like most of the obstacles for the characters happened fifteen years before the story began. For Henri and Danny there was definitely room for some more controversy in their blossoming relationship. A sweet romance always seemed on the cards, but I would have liked to have been questioning it a bit more with some drama along the way.

With that being said, it didn’t take away from how much I enjoyed this book. I really warmed to the characters as they allowed themselves to open up to new feelings and new experiences. Love is Crystal Clear had me reading with a smile on my face all the way through and I couldn’t wait to get to the end just to see how things would turn out for everybody. It does seem like there are possibilities of a follow up book in the future and I would 100% love to read more.

Review copy provided by the author - this was my honest review. 

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Review | The Kindness Project by Sam Binnie

Published by Headline on March 4, 2021


The Kindness Project is a book that had me enticed simply by a quick read of the blurb. I love stories of kindness and I believe there is always time to be kind in life. The sound of the project set by Bea for her daughter had me intrigued and I was eager to read all about it. I loved the sound of The Kindness Project straight away and the book itself lived up to all my expectations and more. I could not stop reading.

We meet Alice as she is on her way to Polperran, a place she clearly would not be visiting under any other circumstances. Having just learnt about the death of her mum, Bea, Alice takes all her ill feelings with her to the picturesque Cornish village to tie up the loose ends at her mother’s home. In truth, it’s the last place Alice wants to be and it was evident from the start that she and Bea did not have a good relationship. Alice seems a bit bitter about things that have happened between them and instead of outwardly grieving after the death of her mum, she’s ready to hear her will and get her home emptied and then go back to her day-to-day life in Cambridge.

I found the exploration of the relationship-gone-wrong between Bea and Alice really fascinating. Bea may already be dead once the book begins but Sam Binnie truly brings her character to life through the letters Bea has written, through Alice’s memories and through the stories told by Bea’s friends and acquaintances in Polperran. It’s clear that Alice felt abandoned by her mum when she was a child, but it’s also clear that Alice doesn’t know quite so much about Bea in the years before she died. It was refreshing to learn, along with Alice, some things she wasn’t aware of about her mum as it gave more of a roundness to Bea’s character rather than the wholly negative views Alice has.

I generally love reading books that explore the relationship between mother and daughter. I had the best relationship with my mum, yet others are more complex and discovering the ins and outs of family connections always has me intrigued. One thing for certain was that Bea had had a big impact on the community within the Cornish town she lived in. A place where everybody knows everybody’s business, Bea had never been content with just knowing - she liked to get involved. This is something that doesn’t escape Alice as amongst her possessions in her will, Bea leaves her daughter a series of envelopes, containing The Kindness Project – a set of missions to undergo to help out the residents of Polperran.

I loved the sound of the project and I loved reading each letter Bea sent to Alice. In each letter, she opens up more and more and in turn, maybe it helped Alice open up a bit more too. The development in Alice’s character helped me warm to her a lot during the course of this book. When we meet her, she is a bit disinterested in anything Cornwall has to offer her. She likes to keep conversations short and avoids eye contact. Small talk is the enemy. But the more time she spends there, the more vocal she gets and the more similarities between her and Bea are on show – and I loved seeing her character grow.

One thing I adored about this book was that everybody had a story to tell. The characters had pure life to them and each of them kept me engrossed.

The power of kindness shone through the pages of this book. If all it takes is a moment to say good morning or a little helping hand for someone who knows what they want but doesn’t quite know how to get there, then why on earth not? Kindness is infectious, and Sam Binnie reinforces that throughout this lovely, touching, compelling novel. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book.

Review copy provided by the publisher - this was my honest review.

Preorder The Kindness Project here: https://smarturl.it/TheKindnessProject



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