The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

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EXCERPT: Molly stared at the house through her Ray-Bans. ‘So weird,’ she said. ‘Just to think, you lived there, all of you, you were all just, like, normal kids, going to school and stuff, having friends and then, one by one you all left her and she died, you know, completely alone in, like, the Worst House in Britain, or whatever.’ She shook her head solemnly. ‘Weird,’ she said again. ‘I mean, can you imagine that happening to us? Like, seriously? All four of us just leaving you there and all falling out with each other and Dad going off with some crazy woman and you just going completely mental and not letting anyone in and building, like, tunnels, out of, like, newspapers. Think of our house. Our lovely house, with all its lovely things in it and yeah, okay, it’s a bit too tidy for my liking but, you know, it’s a really nice house, and we all live there and we’re so happy and everything. And when I’m an adult I want to see my brothers all the time, you know, I want to go to their houses and stuff and have my kids play with their kids. I mean, you haven’t seen your brother and sister for, like, five years. Your actual brother and sister. Who you used to live with. And see every day. I mean, I just don’t get it. How can things go, like-‘ she turned to stare at Meg with wide blue eyes so wrong?’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Meet the Bird Family

All four children have an idyllic childhood: a picture-book cottage in a country village, a warm, cosy kitchen filled with love and laughter, sun-drenched afternoons in a rambling garden.

But one Easter weekend a tragedy strikes the Bird family that is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear them apart.

The years pass and the children become adults and begin to develop their own quite separate lives. Soon it’s almost as though they’ve never been a family at all.

Almost.
But not quite.

Because something has happened that will call them home, back to the house they grew up in – and to what really happened that Easter weekend all those years ago.

MY THOUGHTS: I read The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell overnight. I could not put it down. I wanted it to never end. When it did, I felt bereft.

Jewell’s impeccable combination of characters and plot does that to me. I become totally immersed in her writing. Her characters are very ‘real’, they love and hate with passion, they are sensible, but do irrational things, they squabble and row, hold grudges and storm off in huffs, then turn around and support one another through tough times. They could be me, or you, our neighbours, our friends.

I, unusually for me, have not picked up another book since I finished this in the early hours of this morning. I need to gently disentangle myself from this family with whom I have laughed and cried, whose pain and joys I have shared. I don’t want to say goodbye to them. I want to see where Rory’s life goes, how Beth will cope.

But this book is definitely on my favourites list, to be revisited when I want a comfort read.

😍😍😍😍😍

Quote from The House We Grew Up In: The human memory is such a cruel, frustrating thing, the way it just discards things without asking permission, precious things.

THE AUTHOR: Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.

She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.

She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.

She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of The House I Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell and published by Random House from the Waitomo District Library. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1389580060

Watching What I’m Reading ….

It is a funny afternoon, hot and windy with a storm brewing. We have had storms mid to late afternoon for the last three days . It’s almost like living in the tropics 😂🤣

I am currently reading

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and should finish it tonight. I am listening to

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after abandoning listening to Lost Roses.

This week I am planning on reading

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Her husband says it’s suicide. The police say it’s murder.
Liam Buckley was a married man with two teenage children when he moved out of the family home to start a new life with his lover. His wife Jennifer never forgave him, but now she needs him to come back: she’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and the kids can’t cope alone.

One day after Liam moves home, Jennifer is found dead. Liam thinks it’s suicide. But the police, led by DS Louise Kennedy, are convinced it’s murder.

Liam hires a retired detective to help prove his innocence, but it’s no easy task. The children are distraught, and Jennifer’s best friend, Sarah, is waging a campaign against Liam, determined to expose him for a liar and a cheat.

As secrets surface from the complex web of Buckley family life, DS Kennedy must decide. Did Jennifer Buckley end her own life, or did Liam take it from her? The answer, when it comes, will shock them all…

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As a child, Vicky Hall never had the sort of family she wanted. The least important person in her new step-family, ignored by her mother in favour of her two younger half-siblings, Vicky was always an afterthought. Sitting alone at her graduation ceremony at the age of twenty-one, she vows to create her own family and her own life, one which is full of the love and attention she has always craved.

When Vicky meets William and falls pregnant in Greece that summer, it isn’t planned. But the two of them believe they can make it work, showering their child with the love which they believe should be enough.

But when her son Theo is two, Vicky leaves him in the care of her mother-in-law, walks out of her front door and drives to a hotel where she takes a room for the night. She doesn’t return.

I have received four new ARCs from Netgalley this week, plus a widget directly from the publisher for a book I had already been approved for from Netgalley…

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and the widget I received was

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I am slowly catching up to where I should be on my reading schedule, I think I am currently only five books behind. Though I haven’t yet looked at my December list 😂🤣 that’s a job for tomorrow.

My big excitement for the week was the arrival of my new oven. It is stored downstairs ready for next February when my new kitchen is due to be fitted.

I hope you all have your Christmas wish lists sorted…only three and a bit weeks to go now. it will be here and gone before we know it . In the meantime, happy reading my friends, and don’t stress.
Cheers
Sandy

Vacation by Jane Green

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EXCERPT: “Well,” Cindy says brightly, “nothing like a bit of soul baring at book club. I’m going to get some cheesecake. Can I bring anyone some?” She rises out of her chair, as do the others, all murmuring about getting more coffee, or cake, or another of those delicious brownies.

Only Caroline stays behind, sitting next to Sarah on the sofa, and when Sarah puts down her wineglass, Caroline takes her hand.

“I didn’t know it was that bad,” she whispers. “You should have said so.”

Sarah looks at her as it finally registers that she has confessed out loud. “Oh, my God,” she gasps. “I just did, didn’t I? Tell me I didn’t say that out loud.”

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Just when she’d sworn off men for good, Sarah Evans met Eddie. Sarah was a magazine editor, living in Manhattan, and loving her life—except for the heartbreaks. A successful real estate developer, Eddie was a breath of fresh air, a meeting of minds—and bodies. Soon came wedded bliss, baby number one—and the proverbial move to the suburbs . . .

You just sit there like a slob while I do all the work. Nine years later, this is increasingly what goes through Sarah’s mind when she looks at Evan, propped in front of the TV with a beer, ignoring their two children. The truth is, she misses her old life. She misses the old Eddie. She can’t help wondering if she’d be happier alone . . .

When Eddie’s job sends him to Chicago indefinitely, Sarah shocks him by suggesting a trial separation. But she knows it’s just a precursor to divorce—even if Eddie chooses to think of it as a “vacation.” Yet a lot can change—on both sides—as time goes by. And once Christmas arrives, Sarah and Eddie might re-discover gifts they’d forgotten they had . . .

MY THOUGHTS: I have long loved Jane Green’s books, and Vacation, short and sweet as it is, is just a great read for this, or any other, time of the year.

Jane’s characters are always so easy to relate to. They are not perfect people; they are human, they get tired and cranky, they put their feet in their mouths, they make mistakes. Vacation brought back memories of when my own children were small, and the pressures of being a stay-at-home mom, the pressures of being a full-time working dad, and how easy it is to lose sight of each other and what is really important in your life.

A lovely read. A little bit Christmas.

****

THE AUTHOR: Jane Green’s eighteenth novel, Falling, is soon to be released with Berkley/Penguin; she is the author of sixteen previous New York Times Bestselling novels, and known as one of the world’s leading authors in women’s fiction, with over ten million books in print, and translations in over 25 languages.

Previous novels have included The Beach House, Second Chance, Jemima J, and Tempting Fate.

She joined the ABC News team to write their first enhanced digital book— about the history of Royal marriages, then joined ABC News as a live correspondent covering Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton.

A former journalist in the UK, she has had her own radio show on BBC Radio London, and is a regular contributor on radio and TV, including as well as regularly appearing on television shows including Good Morning America, The Martha Stewart show, and The Today Show.

Together with writing books and blogs, she contributes to various publications, both online and print, including anthologies and novellas, and features for The Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan and Self. She has taught at writers conferences, and does regular keynote speaking, and has a weekly column in The Lady magazine, England’s longest running weekly magazine.

A graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York, Green is bringing out her first cookbook: Good Taste , with Berkley in October 2016.

She is a storyteller for The Moth radio hour on NPR,
and lives in Westport, Connecticut with her husband and their blended family. When she is not writing, cooking, gardening, filling her house with friends and herding chickens, she is usually thanking the Lord for caffeine-filled energy drinks.

A cancer survivor, she continues to raise awareness for Malignant Melanoma, Hashimoto’s Disease, and Lyme Disease.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Vacation by Jane Green for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page, or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review, and others, are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2994154392?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

All About Evie by Cathy Lamb

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by Cathy Lamb (Goodreads Author)
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Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* Jones’s reviewNov 10, 2019 · edit
really liked it
bookshelves: 2019, netgalley-arc, 4-star, chic-lit, contemporary-fiction, mystery, romance, women-s-fiction

EXCERPT:The house is tucked back in the trees, in the middle of a field, a little ways out of town. The wildflowers and feverfew and irises would bloom soon, an old willow to one side, a gnarled oak tree in the front. Weeds had overtaken much of the yard.

It used to be charming, a bright yellow home with white trim and a green door. Now it wasn’t. I had many memories that were stuck behind the dirty, ragged white picket fence and in the backyard, by the pond. There were memories at the end of a rope swing hanging from the willow tree, in the highest branches of the oak tree, and in a fort that had since fallen down behind the house.

Inside the house, too, were memories. In the kitchen with hand-painted yellow tiles. In a back bedroom painted a cheerful pink.

The pink bedroom didn’t match with the blood in the kitchen.

I sniffled as my eyes filled with tears.

What had happened there was my fault and I have never forgotten it, never forgiven myself. I had been young, yes, but I had known better.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: As a child, Evie Lindsay was unnerved by her premonitions. As an adult, they have become a simple fact of life—sometimes disruptive but also inescapable, much like her quirky, loveable family. Evie’s mother, Poppy, and her aunts, Camellia and Iris, are well known on San Orcanita island for their free-spirited ways and elaborately decorated hats. Their floral shop and Evie’s bookstore draw streams of visitors all summer long. This season promises to be extra busy: Evie’s sister, Jules, is getting married on the island.

As Jules plans her unconventional wedding, she arranges to do a DNA test with her mother, sister, and aunts, to see how much accepted lore about their heritage holds true. The results blow apart everything Evie has grown up believing about herself and her family. Spurred on by the revelations, Evie uncovers the real story of her past. But beyond her feelings of shock and betrayal, there are unexpected opportunities—to come to terms with a gift that has sometimes felt like a curse, to understand the secrets that surrounded her childhood, and to embrace the surprising new life that is waiting for her . . .

MY THOUGHTS: Anything with Cathy Lamb’s name on it is an immediate draw-card for me, whether she has written the book or is simply endorsing it. So you can understand my going into shock when, at 4%, I thought ‘I don’t like this book. I. Do. Not. Like. It.’ I sulked and wondered why she had written such a stupid book. I blamed it on my current reading slump, or book hangover, whatever you want to call it, stomped about a bit, then gave myself a mental kick in the rear, picked up All About Evie and kept reading, because I did not believe Cathy Lamb would write a book I didn’t love.

…and fell in love with Evie. I love her sense of humour, her sense of family, her stubbornness, her love of books, her love of animals, her love of food, her sass. I want her to be my sister, my BFF. I need an Evie in my life!

I laughed. I cried. I ranted – mostly at Evie because I didn’t understand why she was doing what she was doing. I wondered if she was one of those people who enjoy torturing themselves… This book was FUN.

I loved her eccentric family. And now is probably a good time to share a few of my favourite quotes from All About Evie. Picking just a few was extremely hard, but I could not limit myself to just my normal one….
‘we should have a day off each month where everyone is required to stay home and read and read and eat their favourite cake.’
‘I so hate running. It makes me breathless. Now and then I see people running or jogging, and I think, ‘My, that looks miserable.”
‘”We all have to take time each day for meditation and tranquility.” “Yes,” Aunt iris said. “And beer. Or tequila.”‘

So why not the full five stars? Because Cathy didn’t include the recipes for the cakes…..I want to eat the five layer chocolate ecstasy cake, and all the others that had me drooling as I read. Or are you planning, Cathy, to publish a separate cookbook with all the yummy recipes of the beautiful cakes and pies in this book. I hope so. And if you need a tester…..

4 five layer chocolate ecstasy stars

THE AUTHOR: Cathy Lamb was born in Newport Beach, California. As a child, she mastered the art of skateboarding, catching butterflies in bottles, and riding her bike with no hands. When she was 10, her parents moved her, two sisters, a brother, and two poorly behaved dogs to Oregon before she could fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a surfer bum.

She then embarked on her notable academic career where she earned good grades now and then, spent a great deal of time daydreaming, ran wild with a number of friends, and landed on the newspaper staff in high school. When she saw her byline above an article about people making out in the hallways of the high school, she knew she had found her true calling.

After two years of partying at the University of Oregon, she settled down for the next three years and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, and became a fourth grade teacher. It was difficult for her to become proper and conservative but she threw out her red cowboy boots and persevered. She had no choice. She had to eat, and health insurance is expensive.

She met her husband on a blind date. A mutual friend who was an undercover vice cop busting drug dealers set them up. It was love at third sight.

Teaching children about the Oregon Trail and multiplication facts amused her until she became so gigantically pregnant with twins she looked like a small cow and could barely walk. With a three year old at home, she decided it was time to make a graceful exit and waddle on out. She left school one day and never went back. She likes to think her students missed her.

When Cathy was no longer smothered in diapers and pacifiers, she took a turn onto the hazardous road of freelance writing and wrote almost 200 articles on homes, home décor, people and fashion for a local newspaper. As she is not fashionable and can hardly stand to shop, it was an eye opener for her to find that some women actually do obsess about what to wear. She also learned it would probably be more relaxing to slam a hammer against one’s forehead than engage in a large and costly home remodeling project.

Cathy suffers from, “I Would Rather Play Than Work Disease” which prevents her from getting much work done unless she has a threatening deadline. She likes to hang with family and friends, walk, eat chocolate, camp, travel, and is slightly obsessive about the types of books she reads. She also likes to be left alone a lot so she can hear all the odd characters in her head talk to each other and then transfer that oddness to paper. The characters usually don’t start to talk until 10:00 at night, however, so she is often up ‘til 2:00 in the morning with them. That is her excuse for being cranky.

She adores her children and husband, except when he refuses to take his dirty shoes off and walks on the carpet. She will ski because her children insist, but she secretly doesn’t like it at all. Too cold and she falls all the time.

She is currently working on her next book and isn’t sleeping much.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of All About Evie by Cathy Lamb for review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my profile on Goodreads.com or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2985978754?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading…

I woke this morning to heavy rain on the roof and pelting against the windows. The wind was swirling through the trees, whistling under the eaves and screaming around the corners of the house. I lay in bed and thought what a wonderful day it was to stay in bed and read. Then came the dawning realisation that I had to work today…

Tonight I will finish reading

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This week I plan on reading

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Just when she’d sworn off men for good, Sarah Evans met Eddie. Sarah was a magazine editor, living in Manhattan, and loving her life—except for the heartbreaks. A successful real estate developer, Eddie was a breath of fresh air, a meeting of minds—and bodies. Soon came wedded bliss, baby number one—and the proverbial move to the suburbs . . .

You just sit there like a slob while I do all the work. Nine years later, this is increasingly what goes through Sarah’s mind when she looks at Evan, propped in front of the TV with a beer, ignoring their two children. The truth is, she misses her old life. She misses the old Eddie. She can’t help wondering if she’d be happier alone . . .

When Eddie’s job sends him to Chicago indefinitely, Sarah shocks him by suggesting a trial separation. But she knows it’s just a precursor to divorce—even if Eddie chooses to think of it as a “vacation.” Yet a lot can change—on both sides—as time goes by. And once Christmas arrives, Sarah and Eddie might re-discover gifts they’d forgotten they had . . .

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Discredited British Army officer Jack Elliot is a man with nothing left to lose—or to live for. For him, life is cheap and death expensive: He kills now for money. So when Ang Yuon, a wealthy Cambodian refugee, asks him to cross Thailand to rescue his wife and children from the Khmer Rouge, Elliot demands a large price. This time he expects, even hopes, to die. But two things curse him with a reason to live—the enormous suffering of the Cambodian people and the appearance of his estranged daughter, Lisa. On the day of her mother’s death, Lisa learns that there is more to her father’s past than the picture of the heroic soldier killed in battle her mother had painted for her. So Lisa sets out in search of Elliot and follows him as far as Bangkok, where she falls foul of his Thai associates, Tuk Than and “La Mère Grace,” ruthless people whose business interests encompass girls as well as guns. From the fetid jungles of Cambodia to the sleazy back streets of Bangkok, The Noble Path is a hard-hitting tale of suspense and intrigue.

Only 2 ARCs from Netgalley this week. Didn’t I do well achieving my target for the first time in who knows how long!

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Happy reading my friends.

I’m going to snuggle up with my book now until it’s time to cook dinner. I am really enjoying All About Evie. I want her for my BFF!

Watching What I’m Reading…..

Apologies for the lateness of my Sunday post….I am currently overwhelmed with commitments in every aspect of my life. I know it will pass and I just have to keep breathing, the most important thing! I am 5 books short of finishing my October reads, and I haven’t even looked at my November list yet….

I have started reading

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which I am really intrigued by.

I am listening to

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which I requested for review pre-release, and was declined for.

This week I am planning on reading

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1941, Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. An unforgettable story of love, hope and betrayal, and a testament to the courage of humanity in history’s darkest days.

University professor Josef Held has never recovered from the loss of his wife. He has no intention of letting anyone new into his quiet, safe world, where the ticking clock in his mathematics classroom drowns out the beat of Nazi soldiers’ boots.

But when his Jewish pupil Michael comes to him, saying Jews will no longer be allowed to study, Josef can ignore the situation no longer. In an impulsive act of courage, he offers Michael a place to hide in his attic.

In the quiet gloom of the secret room, Josef discovers Michael is everything he himself is not: spontaneous, poetic, and unafraid to love, though his passionate relationship with a non-Jewish Dutch girl is strictly forbidden. Michael insists: not even the Nazis will keep him from his fearless, beautiful, chestnut-haired Elke.

Josef sees the determination in his young friend’s eyes. Remembering his own heartbreak, he feels desperate to give Michael and Elke a chance. But in the dark days of war, with danger and betrayal at every turn, no-one can be trusted.

And then tragedy strikes, facing Josef with an impossible choice. If Michael is to survive and get back to the woman he loves, it will be down to Josef – to find the hero inside himself, and do whatever it takes to keep Michael alive.

Even if it means putting his own life on the line.

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As a child, Evie Lindsay was unnerved by her premonitions. As an adult, they have become a simple fact of life—sometimes disruptive but also inescapable, much like her quirky, loveable family. Evie’s mother, Poppy, and her aunts, Camellia and Iris, are well known on San Orcanita island for their free-spirited ways and elaborately decorated hats. Their floral shop and Evie’s bookstore draw streams of visitors all summer long. This season promises to be extra busy: Evie’s sister, Jules, is getting married on the island.

As Jules plans her unconventional wedding, she arranges to do a DNA test with her mother, sister, and aunts, to see how much accepted lore about their heritage holds true. The results blow apart everything Evie has grown up believing about herself and her family. Spurred on by the revelations, Evie uncovers the real story of her past. But beyond her feelings of shock and betrayal, there are unexpected opportunities—to come to terms with a gift that has sometimes felt like a curse, to understand the secrets that surrounded her childhood, and to embrace the surprising new life that is waiting for her . .

I have received 4 new ARCs this week. …

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I hope you are all happy and well, my friends. Happy reading

❤😍📚

Ralph’s Party by Lisa Jewell

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EXCERPT: Ralph barely noticed Jem the first time he saw her. He was arguing with his girlfriend, Claudia, sitting at his desk, cradling the phone under his chin as he carelessly pulled elastic bands into tight ligatures around his wrists in an apparently subconscious attempt to cut off his blood supply and end the painful predictability of it all.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Meet the residents of the London brownstone on 31 Almanac Road who together weave a tangled web of romance. Ralph, a ne’er-do-well artist, suddenly realizes he’s head over heels in love with his new flatmate Jem, the most fun and sensible girl he’s ever encountered. Unfortunately, Ralph’s best friend, Smith, has already won Jem’s affections, although Smith has not entirely given up his passion for the femme fatale, Cheri, who lives upstairs. Across the hall, Karl and Siobhan have been happily unmarried for years, until Karl gets a smashing job as a London rush-hour DJ and momentarily gets tempted into Cheri’s cozy lair.
These six star-crossed tenants become more enamored, and more confused, as the story progresses-until their true destinies are revealed on one crucial night-the evening of the extravaganza that is . . . Ralph’s party.

MY THOUGHTS: Light, fluffy, funny but with hidden depths, Ralph’s Party is reminiscent of the Oscar Wilde classic The Importance of Being Ernest. I enjoyed this comedic romp, Lisa Jewell’s first novel which she wrote as the result of a dare. There are a few cringeworthy moments, but nothing out of character. Though I must admit that Ralph’s character could be extremely irritating at times.

Jewell’s ability to round her characters out is already in evidence here, as is her ability to think outside the box. Not everything went as I expected, she has thrown a few surprises in the mix.

I enjoyed Imogen Church’s narrative style, and I will be either reading or listening to the follow up, After the Party, which picks up the story eleven years from where Ralph’s Party ends.

😊😂🤣😊

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Ralph’s Party by Lisa Jewell, narrated by Imogen Church and published by Penguin, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1389580081?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1