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The No-Show by Beth O’Leary (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audiobook, 10+ hours
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The cover of The No-Show by Beth O’Leary, narrated by Evanna Lynch, Heather Long, Kathryn Drysdale, and Luke Thompson, is misleading. O’Leary’s latest is not a ron-com; it is far more serious. Each of these women — Siobhan, Miranda, and Jane — is stood up on Valentine’s Day by Joseph Carter. The narration shifts between the three women, which makes it very hard for listeners and readers to like Carter very much. Jane is a pushover, and Siobhan is a strong woman on the outside, but Miranda is too busy trying to be one of the guys.

***I would warn those who have been harassed at work or by a professional in a partnership-type situation that this book could have triggers for them.***

This book was a long and winding trail through Joseph Carter’s love life. These three woman all play a role in his life, with two of them helping him to heal. What I didn’t enjoy was the manipulative nature of this plot and the cover image. This was not comedic at all, and the relationships here are very off-kilter. It’s almost like the author wanted us to hate Joseph from the start, only to try and redeem him through the voices of these women. I felt icky about the whole book. I preferred the side characters more than the protagonists.

The No-Show by Beth O’Leary is not at all what I wanted or expected in this book. I feel manipulated by the plot and the timelines and that doesn’t leave me with much to like about the book. The peripheral characters are great, but they are not in it enough to make this much better. I did like when Miranda gets her happy ending, but I could have cared less about the others.

RATING: Couplet

About the Author:

Beth O’Leary is a Sunday Times bestselling author whose books have been translated into more than 30 languages. She wrote her debut novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from her job at a children’s publisher. She now lives in the Hampshire countryside and writes full time.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audiobook, 10+ hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Switch by Beth O’Leary, narrated by Alison Steadman and Daisy Edgar-Jones, finds Leena Cotton agreeing to swap lives, computers, and phones with her grandmother, Eileen Cotton, in Yorkshire. The swap has Leena stepping back from her cutting edge technology and fast-paced life, while Eileen is stepping into her first London adventure. The title and the swapping of lives seems like it would be comical and funny, but like other O’Leary books, there’s much more to the story. Leena and Eileen are just two of the people affected by the death of Leena’s sister. Both have been living their lives by rote, while Leena’s mother has fallen apart a number of times, struggling with the loss of her daughter and the absence of another. Eileen has been there for it all, trying to hold her daughter together, without interfering too much.

I loved Eileen’s story of navigating online dating long after her divorce from her cheating husband, and Leena’s time in her grandmother’s shoes reignites her passion for event planning and connecting with other people in the community. Leena has to learn that she can rely on others and feel the emotions she’s been bottling up, while Eileen needs to find her own life and passions. These two are more alike than they think. The narrators did a fantastic job of differentiating between the characters, bringing life to the emotions the two women feel, and navigating the interactions of O’Leary’s characters, making them feel real.

I love that O’Leary tackles heavy topics in her books, while still making them fun reads with some comic moments. The Switch by Beth O’Leary will not disappoint. I loved the older people in Yorkshire and their interactions from the busybody to the woman who is at her husband’s beck and call. The city people that Eileen meets run the gamut, including a cat fisher. There’s a lot to juggle, but O’Leary does well to keep every story line on track.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Beth O’Leary is a Sunday Times bestselling author whose books have been translated into more than 30 languages. She wrote her debut novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from her job at a children’s publisher. She now lives in the Hampshire countryside and writes full time.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 9+ hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary, narrated by Carrie Hope Fletcher and Kwaku Fortune, Tiffy Moore is a woman who has been chucked out of an apartment she shared with her boyfriend Justin. She’s got a small budget, so she has few options that don’t involve horrible conditions or strange alternatives. One alternative is to share a flat with Leon, a hospice nurse who works nights. They would need to share the one bed, but they would be in it at different times. Tiffy works day shift as a book editor, so she’d have the place on weekends and at night during week.

How can this be romantic or comical, if Tiffy and Leon never meet? They do start communicating about the mundane doings of apartment sharing through post-its notes on the fridge, tables, etc. Leon is a man of few words, and Tiffy is the opposite — she’s effusive and chaotic.

***Trigger warning for sufferers of abuse***

This is not a light-hearted comedy alone; there are deeper issues dealt with, and yes, in a quicker timeline than normally would happen. Tiffy’s ex-boyfriend may have left her for another woman he plans to marry, but she is more than gun-shy when it comes to other men. She’s so consumed by everything Justin ever said about her, she can no longer just be herself without second-guessing or putting herself down. It’s clear something about her relationship with Justin wasn’t right. You find out later in the book.

Leon, meanwhile, is not without his own troubles. He’s dating Kay who clearly doesn’t think he spends enough time with her, which is why she’s all for the flatshare and having him on weekends at her place. He is consumed with work, finding the long lost love of one of his patients, and freeing his wrongly accused brother from prison. Leon may be quiet and mild-mannered, but he has a busy schedule.

O’Leary really writes quirky characters so well. Tiffy is someone you can imaging bubbling up you life and bringing color to it, while Leon is that introspective friend who overthinks but always has great advice. Her plot enables Tiffy and Leon to lead separate lives, even as they fall into like with each other. The comic set of side characters also keeps things unpredictable. The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary, narrated by Carrie Hope Fletcher and Kwaku Fortune, is one to read if you don’t mind a little heavy stuff mixed with your romantic comedy.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Beth O’Leary is a Sunday Times bestselling author whose books have been translated into more than 30 languages. She wrote her debut novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from her job at a children’s publisher. She now lives in the Hampshire countryside and writes full time.

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 10+ hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary, narrated by Josh Dylan and Eleanor Tomlinson, has the makings of a light, fun romantic read, but there are dark edges of depression, alcoholism, and sexual assault that make this a more serious novel than expected. Dylan and Addie fall in love/lust over a summer in France where she works as a caretaker of her friend Cherry’s villa and Dylan, a poet, is a rich man’s son who is looking for himself abroad. Immediately, I was drawn to the character of Dylan because he’s a poet and lines of verse come to him out of no where and he struggles to remember them, all the while he’s falling for Addie. They have broken up because in the present, they haven’t spoken in a few years, but they are headed to Cherry’s wedding and end up carpooling.

Dylan and Marcus have been friends for ages, but it is clear that something happened in their relationship as well because Marcus is “trying” to be better. As the novel unravels, it is clear that the relationship between Addie and Dylan was colored by the presence of Marcus. I really enjoyed the dynamics at play between Addie and Dylan (working-class, family girl and upper crust boy trying to distance himself from his father even though he still relies on family wealth) and the interplay with Marcus who seemed so much like a puppet-master of Dylan at times.

While in the present, crammed in a Mini with Marcus, Addie’s sister Deb, and random acquaintance of Cherry’s Rodney, Addie and Dylan are forced to confront their past, why they broke up, and whether the love they both have for each other still is enough to move forward with. There’s some hilarity when traffic stalls their travels or their car breaks down, but overall, there are some deep issues afoot.

What bothered me was how glossed over Marcus’ role in their relationship was until the end. At no point did Dylan try to see things from Addie’s point of view, while she bent over backward to be understanding of his connection to Marcus, even though she wasn’t really privy to why they were so tight in the first place. The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary is a good novel, I just wish there had been a little more background earlier on about Marcus and Dylan’s relationship and a little more awareness on Dylan’s part that Marcus didn’t always have his best interests at heart.

RATING: Quatrain (really 3.5)

About the Author:

Beth O’Leary is a Sunday Times bestselling author whose books have been translated into more than 30 languages. She wrote her debut novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from her job at a children’s publisher. She now lives in the Hampshire countryside and writes full time.

Mailbox Monday #680

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Velvet, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Kill It with Fire: Manage Aging Computer Systems (and Future Proof Modern Ones) by Marianne Bellotti, narrated by Katie Koster, which I downloaded for work.

Kill It with Fire examines aging computer systems, the evolution of technology over time, and how organizations can modernize, maintain, and future-proof their current systems.

“Kill it with fire”, the typical first reaction to a legacy system falling into obsolescence, is a knee-jerk approach that often burns through tons of money and time only to result in a less efficient solution. This book offers a far more forgiving modernization framework, laying out smart value-add strategies and proven incremental techniques that work equally well for ancient systems and brand-new ones.

Internationally known for restoring some of the world’s oldest, messiest computer networks to operational excellence, software engineering expert Marianne Bellotti distills key lessons and insights from her experience into practical, research-backed guidance on topics from “chaos” testing solutions to building momentum-driven teams and effective communication structures. Using clear explanations and simple exercises, she’ll help you determine when to modernize, how to organize, what migrations will add the most value, and where to focus your maintenance efforts for maximum impact. With witty, engaging prose, Bellotti explains why new doesn’t always mean better, weaving in illuminating case studies and jaw-dropping anecdotes from her work in the field.

You’ll learn:

Tips and best practices for assessing architecture and testing assumptions
How to avoid trends and pick the right modernization solutions for your specific needs
How to determine whether your migrations will add value before you invest in them
Critical considerations every organization should weigh before moving data to the cloud
Team-based strategies and motivational tricks for keeping modernization plans on track
Key outcomes and checklists for determining when a project is finished

Packed with resources, exercises, and flexible frameworks for organizations of all ages and sizes, Kill It with Fire will give you a vested interest in your technology’s future.

The No-Show by Beth O’Leary, which I purchased.

Siobhan is a quick-tempered life coach with way too much on her plate. Miranda is a tree surgeon used to being treated as just one of the guys on the job. Jane is a soft-spoken volunteer for the local charity shop with zero sense of self-worth.

These three women are strangers who have only one thing in common: They’ve all been stood up on the same day, the very worst day to be stood up—Valentine’s Day. And, unbeknownst to them, they’ve all been stood up by the same man.

Once they’ve each forgiven him for standing them up, they are all in serious danger of falling in love with a man who may have not just one or two but three women on the go….

Is there more to him than meets the eye? Where was he on Valentine’s Day? And will they each untangle the truth before they all get their hearts broken?

Memory and Desire by Gregory Luce, which I purchased.

Memory and Desire is a collection of poetry exploring the themes articulated in the title, both individually and as they are woven together. Roaming from childhood recollections to captured moments from the natural and the urban environments, the book includes poems ranging from brief lyrics to longer narratives, some humorous, others wistful.

 

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #677

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Velvet, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

The Switch by Beth O’Leary from Audible.

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some long-overdue rest.

Eileen is newly single and about to turn 80. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

So they decide to try a two-month swap.

Eileen will live in London and look for love. She’ll take Leena’s flat, and learn all about casual dating, swiping right, and city neighbors. Meanwhile, Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire: Eileen’s sweet cottage and garden, her idyllic, quiet village, and her little neighborhood projects.

But stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected. Will swapping lives help Eileen and Leena find themselves…and maybe even find true love? In Beth O’Leary’s The Switch, it’s never too late to change everything…or to find yourself.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary from Audible.

What if your roommate is your soul mate?

A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a feel-good audiobook about finding love in the most unexpected of ways.

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #674

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Velvet, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

This is what we received:

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella, which I purchased.

Call Ava romantic, but she thinks love should be found in the real world, not on apps that filter men by height, job, or astrological sign. She believes in feelings, not algorithms. So after a recent breakup and dating app debacle, she decides to put love on hold and escapes to a remote writers’ retreat in coastal Italy. She’s determined to finish writing the novel she’s been fantasizing about, even though it means leaving her close-knit group of friends and her precious dog, Harold, behind.

At the retreat, she’s not allowed to use her real name or reveal any personal information. When the neighboring martial arts retreat is canceled and a few of its attendees join their small writing community, Ava, now going by “Aria,” meets “Dutch,” a man who seems too good to be true. The two embark on a baggage-free, whirlwind love affair, cliff-jumping into gem-colored Mediterranean waters and exploring the splendor of the Italian coast. Things seem to be perfect for Aria and Dutch.

But then their real identities—Ava and Matt—must return to London. As their fantasy starts to fade, they discover just how different their personal worlds are. From food choices to annoying habits to sauna etiquette . . . are they compatible in anything? And then there’s the prickly situation with Matt’s ex-girlfriend, who isn’t too eager to let him go. As one mishap follows another, it seems while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they reconcile their differences to find one life together?

Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane from a 2-for-1 Audible sale.

You always remember your first love…don’t you?

If there’s anything worse than being fired from the lousiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else. Reeling from the humiliation of a double dumping in one day, Georgina takes the next job that comes her way – bartender in a newly opened pub. There’s only one problem: It’s run by the guy she fell in love with years ago. And – make that two problems – he doesn’t remember her. At all. But she has fabulous friends and her signature hot pink fur coat…what more could a girl really need?

Lucas McCarthy has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but he’s also turned into an actual grown-up, with a thriving business and a dog along the way. Crossing paths with him again throws Georgina’s rocky present into sharp relief – and brings a secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows what happened 12 years ago, and why she’s allowed the memories to chase her ever since. But maybe it’s not too late for the truth…or a second chance with the one that got away?

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary from a 2-for-1 Audible sale.

What if the end of the road is just the beginning?

Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun. Wealthy Oxford student Dylan was staying at his friend Cherry’s enormous French villa; wild child Addie was spending her summer as the on-site caretaker. Two years ago, their relationship officially ended. They haven’t spoken since.

Today, Dylan’s and Addie’s lives collide again. It’s the day before Cherry’s wedding, and Addie and Dylan crash cars at the start of the journey there. The car Dylan was driving is wrecked, and the wedding is in rural Scotland – he’ll never get there on time by public transport.

So, along with Dylan’s best friend, Addie’s sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride, they squeeze into a space-challenged Mini and set off across Britain. Cramped into the same space, Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart – and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all.

What did you receive?