Book Review: The Trouble with Henry and Zoe, by Andy Jones

Publisher:  Simon and Schuster

Publication date:  Paperback – 28th July 2016  |  Kindle – 1st July 2016

Trouble With Henry and Zoe My Review

The Trouble with Henry and Zoe by Andy Jones - Kindle CoverTake one fully qualified dentist, with a keen mind for recalling the subtle details of old movies, who seeks peace and quiet after jilting fiancée at the altar. Fled home town to avoid a lynch mob that can’t forgive him for said unforgiveable action. Also excels at pub quizzes and cuts a mean graduated bob. [Henry]

Mix gently with a scrabble obsessed publisher who has a peculiar streak of grey hair and a habit of comparing her past conquests to her DJ boyfriend. Currently lost, but hoping to stumble across herself soon. Will settle for any associated parts she can re-assemble along the way. [Zoe]

The result? The Trouble with Henry and Zoe, an achingly emotional blitz of lighthearted romantic moments and flashes of humour throughout – and what a magic read it is!

Differing circumstances lead Henry and Zoe to become single overnight and the story progresses as to how this came to be. In the wake of their lives recently imploding, a natural scepticism toward romantic interludes has evolved. As a result, their encounters are bursting with some unpredictable moments. These are packed into a mutual noncommittal time span of a few months before Zoe is scheduled to pack up her troubles to travel; some are touchingly comic and others I can only describe as the most perfect icing on a heart-warming cake.

There’s an unchallenging rhythm to the alternating Henry / Zoe chapters that’s so easy to fall into step with. Although they were destined to suffer the worst year of their lives without it we wouldn’t get to share their candid responses to these life changing events and how they decide to confront them. The layers of these two complete strangers gradually build and you will soon realise exactly what the title of this book suggests.

Considering this isn’t my usual fare when it comes to books, I’m a little taken aback by how much I loved it! But I think that’s because it’s not dreadfully soppy, nor does it present unrealistic expectations. This refreshingly mellow story keeps its feet firmly on the ground and was simply a breeze to read – I have no hesitation recommending it to, well, just about everyone!

Rating:  5/5

(Huge thanks to the publisher and Jamie Criswell for arranging a copy of this delightful title in exchange for an unbiased review.)

Trouble With Henry and Zoe Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

A heart-warming and funny novel about love and the choices we make. How bad choices can lead to good things, and how life is never what you expect it to be. Perfect for fans of One Day and Me Before You, from the author of The Two of Us.

Henry and Zoe have more in common than they realise. For a start, they both have pasts they’d rather leave behind. After jilting his childhood sweetheart on the eve of their wedding, Henry makes a break for London. He has no friends, no job, no home, no plan.

Zoe has great friends, two jobs, a new house, and a big scary plan. After a traumatic, life-changing event, she plans to leave London and spend a year travelling. Alone.

If Henry and Zoe had met one year ago, things might have worked out differently. But that’s not the way life works. They meet seven months after their worlds have been turned upside down. And four months before Zoe is due to climb on a plane…

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Trouble With Henry and Zoe Author Profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Andy Jones lives in London with his wife and two little girls. During the day he works in an advertising agency; at weekends and horribly early in the mornings, he writes fiction.

TWITTER   |   FACEBOOK   |   WEBSITE

 

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The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

Publisher: W & N  |  Published 28th May 2015  |  Edition: Paperback (review copy)

Ther version of us by Laura Barnett

The Versions of us is a story that ‘breathes’ as you read – it’s such a clever and thoughtful book.

What if one small decision could change the course of your life?

This is not an ordinary story. It doesn’t have a set conclusion, nor does it follow a direct path. It’s one that breathes, as it observes three possible outcomes from a chance meeting in 1958.

‘In The Versions on Us’, Eva and Jim first meet at side of the road when Eva has a puncture on her bike. From that moment on, their lives could take a varied number of paths depending on a decision they make in that small snapshot of time.

Bearing in mind Eva is already involved with someone called David at this point, the remainder of the book takes us on ‘what if’ journeys until we reach the current day in 2014.

I’d refer to it more of a life story than a love story, as it covers much more ground than just ‘boy meets girl’ one day and ‘X’ is therefore bound to happen.

It doesn’t. Life’s not always that simple.

Through heartache, missed opportunities, bad mistakes and the good times, you can’t anticipate the final version, as it ebbs and flows according to the places the characters have reached in their own careers, locations and selves.

‘The Versions of Us’ is much deeper than I’d initially given it credit for. The sheer brilliance of it lies with the fact that no matter which version is presented, it’s not wholly perfect. As in life, any number of circumstances, or the acts of individuals around us can influence what ‘fate’ may have in store – for better, or for worse.

Such a well thought out and highly memorable read that will play havoc with your emotions.

Rating: 4/5

(My sincere thanks to the publisher for giving me the opportunity to review this title @RebeccaGray.)


You can follow the author on Twitter: @laura_jbarnett | Website: http://www.laura-barnett.co.uk/

Amy Snow, by Tracy Rees

Publisher: Quercus | Publication date: 9th April 2015 | Edition: Paperback (review copy)

Amy Snow by Tracy Rees

What is the ultimate gift you could you give someone? Hope? Freedom? Or a copy of this book? All of the above?

A delightful and inventive tale of friendship, heartbreak and surviving whatever life may throw at you. It’s written with absolute class and is a glorious example of a shining needle in a very large haystack (otherwise known as ‘a little beauty’).

The Story

In January 1831, a baby came into the lives of the Vennaway family of Hatville Court, but not in the traditional way it would appear.

The new born was not a bundle of joy and happiness, it was lying abandoned on the crisp white snow of the grounds.

Amy had arrived. And so, her journey had begun.

Her tiny, naked form was discovered by the youngest member of the Vennaway household. If it wasn’t for a feisty, impetuous girl by the name of Aurelia, the babe may never have survived – she owes her life to the young heir and will never forget it.

Amy snow

Escaping the grip of Hatfield Court

So, you would think that a decent enough life would be waiting for a baby who had survived the odds, yet Hatfield Court offered nothing but a miserable existence. For all their fancy airs and graces, the cruel and vindictive ways of the Vennaways left a lot to be desired. Aurelia’s mother was so vile they should have renamed the house ‘Hateful’ Court. I truly wanted to slap the scowl right off her face and all her venom with it. Lady Vennaway’s behaviour is explained late in the book, but you’ll have to see if you think this excuses her…I’m afraid that whilst I sympathise, I personally think not.

Only Aurelia truly fought the little girl’s corner; Amy was the sister she never had.

Seventeen years later, Aurelia tragically left the world, leaving Amy behind bleary-eyed and afraid. She was released from her life of servitude, which was a relief to both parties. Having been offered a token sum in the young woman’s will, Amy was sent speedily on her way. Before she left the grounds she was secretly handed a mysterious letter written by the recently deceased.

This was the first ‘clue’ which would lead her on a solitary journey, a concept completely alien to her. Upon her arrival to her previously unknown destination, it’s not too long before another letter comes to light. Before she can move on, Amy finds she must decode the hidden messages from her only friend in the world, who is no longer with her to offer advice.

“Open the door. Unlock the secret.”

A secret and patient chase for the next clue leads an unchaperoned Amy from place to place, putting her in awkward positions, accepting or declining invites to balls and events, and introducing her to a society she never knew existed. All the while, Amy considers if there is any place where she will truly belong.

Faced with suitors she didn’t know she would attract, social soirees where she doesn’t know how to act, and Aurelia’s bizarre and secret pact – will Amy figure out the final destination before she abandons the quest, like her mother abandoned her?

Soon, Amy begins to question Aurelia’s motives – is she making a fool of her from the grave?

Whilst the ending is not totally unexpected, the story itself is a delight to read. It’s one which moves at a gentle trot, not a gallop, allowing you to bathe in the atmosphere the writer has successfully conjured up.

And you know something? It’s makes pleasant change to reach end of a book without any profanity in it.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

(I am grateful to Hannah Robinson of Quercus for agreeing to send this to me for review.)


You can follow the author on Twitter: @AuthorTracyRees | Publisher: @QuercusBooks

The Songbird’s Way, by Jennifer Barrett

Publisher: Poolpeg Press Ltd  |  Published: 23rd October 2014  |  Edition: Paperback

There’s an almost lyrical quality to the writing in The Songbird’s Way, which makes it a book you can truly wind down with. It was somewhat different to anything else I would normally read, so I was surprised by how much I was drawn into the mood of the story.

The Songbirds Way by Jennifer Barrett

A gentle, Lyrical read. And the art work on the cover is impossibly beautiful.

Great things are happening for Chrissie: after a previous career touring in a Irish music group, her teaching career now seems to be taking off. She has a relationship with a reliable man, Tim, who can offer her everything she could ever wish for, and yet, as she approaches a time of celebration on her thirtieth birthday, she is surrounded by uncertainty as to the path she feels she is destined to take in life, rather than is expected to take.

She fears that if she doesn’t confront her negative feelings soon, the changes that are happening will escalate out of her control and she could find herself being swept along in a life she cannot image herself living; she’s torn as to whether that would be such a bad thing.

Only by taking the advice her best friend and revisiting past tragedies can she find a way to move forward. But will she find the courage to decide what is right for her without hurting the people she cares about most? When she feels a mysterious affinity with an elderly lady that she reads about in the newspaper and her unusual and interesting life, this only creates more turmoil in Chrissie’s life.

Chrissie’s story is told from when she is a little girl, until the present day. We learn about her parents and the affect they still have on her life. Her mother was a travel writer and often away from home, but Chrissie relished hearing about her adventures. Her father had a stall selling records in the market, his roots firmly planted in England with his young daughter at his side; his death was a poignant moment in the book.

I really enjoyed the travel and traditional musical influences that are common thread blending the three Countries of England, Ireland and Africa into the story. Even though there’s much to contribute, at no time is Chrissie’s voice rushed and the scene-setting is sublime.

Like I say, I was surprised how much I loved Chrissie’s journey to her final destination – it was a truly memorable one.

Rating: 4/5

(Many thanks to the Publisher Poolbeg for sending me a copy of this book – I will admit, I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived a while ago, as I wasn’t expecting it – so a huge thank you.)

You can follow the author on Twitter: @JenBarrettEye  | Publisher: @PoolbegBooks