22 February 2015

Book Review: The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond

"It's New Year's Eve, and Gemma and Spencer Bailey are throwing a house party. There's music, dancing, champagne and all their best friends under one roof. It's going to be a night to remember.

Also at the party is Caitlin, who has returned to the village to pack up her much-missed mum's house and to figure out what to do with her life; and Saffron, a PR executive who's keeping a secret which no amount of spin can change. The three women bond over Gemma's dodgy cocktails and fortune cookies, and vow to make this year their best one yet.

But as the following months unfold, Gemma, Saffron and Caitlin find themselves tested to their limits by shocking new developments. Family, love, work, home - all the things they've taken for granted - are thrown into disarray. Under pressure, they are each forced to rethink their lives and start over. But dare they take a chance on something new?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Year of Taking Chances as a paperback or an eBook now.

I love Lucy Diamond's books, so I was really excited when I received a proof copy of her latest book The Year of Taking Chances. Complete with a gorgeous turquoise cover, the story sounded very readable, and certainly the perfect sort of read for it's New Year's Day release date. I didn't get around to it until this month, but once I had started, I didn't want to put it down!

Gemma and Spencer seem to have the perfect marriage. They've moved into a gorgeous old house, have 2 beautiful children and don't have any worries. But when Spencer suffers a serious accident at work, their idyllic home life is thrown into disarray, and Gemma is the one left picking up the pieces. Saffron, a PR Executive living in London finds herself being pushed to her limits when she makes a shocking discovery. She escapes to a holiday cottage where she meets Gemma at her New Year's party. There, they also meet Caitlin, a childhood friend of Spencer going through her own tough time. The three women strike up a newfound friendship. and find themselves rethinking their lives when they are all dealt a tough hand...

One thing I love about Lucy's books is the multiple characters and their own stories within the one book. I also love how she brings them together, and this was definitely the case in this book too. The three women in this story were each very likeable, realistic and I thoroughly enjoyed following their stories until the end. Gemma was the character I felt I connected with most of all. She is a devoted wife, and struggles once Spencer has his accident. She tried her best, and really found the whole situation tough to manage, especially Spencer's mood swings. I felt incredibly sorry for her trying to balance everything and keep everyone, except herself, happy. Even when she found her own job as a talented dressmaker, she had no confidence in her own abilities, I was so pleased her friends encouraged her. Spencer's story was difficult to read, but something that could happen to any of us. I was pleased to see such a thing being highlighted in a book, and it shows how even the strongest and happiest person can be broken by something.

The stories of Saffron and Caitlin were also extremely readable. Saffron is a career girl, happy to date around, but when she's thrown a curveball, she's unsure of how to react and deal with the situation, especially as she's alone. She again flees to the holiday cottage in Larkmead where she relies on her new friends Gemma and Caitlin to help her make a brave decision. Caitlin is struggling with the loss of her beloved mother, this was quite an emotional storyline, especially when she discovers her mother was keeping secrets from her. Both women were likeable, you could imagine them being people you know, and I felt for their situations and what they were going through. The friendship between the women was sweet, they didn't judge each other and instead spurred each other on to make the best of themselves.

What I liked about this book was that it wasn't about making New Year's Resolutions, lose weight, eat healthily, all the sorts of things we do for a few weeks and then give up until the next New Year rolls around. Instead, it was about making brave life choices that would have positive implications on the rest of their lives going forward, and how it takes the courage to make such decisions, especially when it wasn't something you were ever planning for. It was very heart-warming and inspiring to read. It showed that while you may have bad things happen, you can always turn it around - let others help you, don't just rely on yourself and how important friendship can be, especially in the tough times. Lucy Diamond's writing was just brilliant, drawing me into the story more and more and it left me with a warm, happy feeling as I turned the final page. Thank goodness Lucy is back this summer with a brand new novel, I love her stories! This one was a brilliant read, definitely recommended.

Thank you to the publisher Pan Macmillan for sending me a review copy.

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