DEAR EMMIE BLUE by Lia Louis

In this charming and poignant novel, teenager Emmie Blue releases a balloon with her email address and a big secret into the sky, only to fall head-over-heels for the boy who finds it; now, fourteen years later, the one thing Emmie has been counting on is gone for good, and everything she planned is up in the air.

At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached addressed, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.

Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off from her job. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?

Emmie Blue is about to learn everything she thinks she knows about life (and love) is just that: what she thinks she knows. Is there such thing as meant to be? Or is it true when they say that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans? A story filled with heart and humor, Dear Emmie Blue is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Evvie Drake Starts Over


Title : Dear Emmie Blue
Author : Lia Louis
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : Women’s Fiction
Publisher : Trapeze Books
Release Date : August 6, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

This is my summer read of 2020. FACT.

I picked up this DEAR EMMIE BLUE and I could not put it down, at all. Okay, there were moments to pause, look at the wall and process my feelings but that was the only break I took. This book had a light start followed a sneak attack of of more serious themes that were all fabulous-ness. DEAR EMMIE BLUE had characters to cling onto, a story that sunk me into immersion and it was one that made me hope like mad for Emmie.

At first, Emmie made me wonder if she was weak, a sap, the loyal friend being trampled on. Little did I know Emmie, because as I grew to know her better, she had such depth of spirit, a fighting character and that loyalty of hers was amazing. I came to adore her, cheer for her and want the best of things for her.

Emmie had a very quiet and hard working life, an absolute mess of parental proportions and a past trauma to navigate. She was supported in all things by Lucas and the Moreau family as a whole, but Lucas’ brother was a loyal friend, in the background, full of integrity. I’m saying nothing more because the whole story is orientated around these friendships. The story is rich, deep and wonderful with a good slice of heartache.

DEAR EMMIE BLUE had me feeling all the emotions, brimming over my kindle, onto my tissue (at times) and into my friend’s DMs. This book was written so well, so balanced with character development to die for, story to be wrapped up in and all of the feels. I am completely bowled over by it and I want to sing from the rooftops about how good it is. So good, you just have to read and discover it for yourself. Lia Louis wrote beautifully, realistically and with heart, I am dying to devour more from her.

Don’t come into this expecting all light, come in to this and fasten your seat belt…you won’t regret it.

Thank you to Trapeze Books for the early review copy.

THE SHELF by Helly Acton


Everyone in Amy’s life seems to be getting married (or so Instagram tells her), and she feels like she’s falling behind.

So, when her boyfriend surprises her with a dream holiday to a mystery destination, she thinks this is it — he’s going to finally pop the Big Question. But the dream turns into a nightmare when she finds herself on the set of a Big Brother-style reality television show, The Shelf.

Along with five other women, Amy is dumped live on TV and must compete in a series of humiliating and obnoxious tasks in the hope of being crowned ‘The Keeper’.

Will Amy’s time on the show make her realise there are worse things in life than being left on the shelf?

A funny, feminist and all-too-relatable novel about our obsession with coupling up, settling down and the battle we all have with accepting ourselves, The Shelf introduces the freshest new voice in women’s fiction. 


Title : The Shelf
Author : Helly Acton
Narrator : Daisy Edgar-Jones
Format : eARC/audio
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary
Publisher : Bonnier Zaffre
Release Date : July 9, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I didn’t expect to enjoy this one as much as I did considering I’m not a fan of reality shows but with the protagonist, Amy as an insider and almost a victim of the show, this was super clever. A great concept, good writing and fantastic narration, THE SHELF turned out to be a winner for me.

I mostly listened to the audio on this one but also a little ebook (ARC) too at night when I just had to carry on with the story. This story is a woman in a relationship’s worst nightmare of dumping alongside a reality TV show. It provoked some serious irritation in me on behalf of Amy but this was an unfolding story, with character development and resilience to come. It was also a story of sisterhood and I really appreciated that.

What stopped this from feeling a too tragic or morose was the with which Helly Acton told the story. Amy had an awakening and with that came a more quippy character who could laugh at herself and her outlook on life. I love a flawed character (aren’t we all) and Amy delivered on that. I would have loved to have known a bit more about the red flag development in the epilogue. The other characters in the house brought a fair bit of hilarity.

What was a constant theme was the misogyny underwriting the whole of the TV show, get ready to feel irritated and incensed by that. I have to admit the whole time I was listening, I was imagining the big brother house and that helped me.

The narration was exceptional and if you’re a fan of Normal People from Netflix you will recognise Daisy Edgar-Jones voice. She brought character, tonation and spirit to this listen and she brought the characters alive.

I’m not 100% certain what genre to call it but I’m not sure that’s important, however I’d go with contemporary women’s fiction. It’s definitely a read to pick up and a great debut from Helly Acton.

Thank you to Bonnier Books for the ALC.

ASK AGAIN, YES by Mary Beth Keane

How much can a family forgive?

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.


Title : Ask Again, Yes
Author : Mary Beth Keane
Format : eARC
Page Count : 390
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Penguin Michael Joseph
Release Date : August 8, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


3.5 – 4 stars

ASK AGAIN, YES is something of a heavy read with challenging topics; I felt like I had completed a marathon when I’d finished but I mean that in a good way. The book had wrung me out emotionally and I needed time to rest my mind and think afterwards.

This is a complex story of two families across two generations. Their lives were so interwoven and yet they were not close to one another. Through proximity, circumstance, tragedy and then attraction, they were repeatedly brought together and pushed one another away.

The storyline starts with the parents of these two families but over the whole of the book, it felt like the story centred on Peter and Kate. I held my breath over these two and I didn’t feel a completion at the end; I don’t think the reader is supposed to. Anne was incredibly difficult to like as a character and I admire the author for where she went with mental illness and this character. We rarely see books that will go to the extent of exposing the psychology and behaviours of someone with this level of illness. I liked Francis, I found him solid, reliable and real. George was the unsung hero of this book.

Most readers will feel the heaviness of the topics expored in this book, which include acute psychosis, addiction, cheating, first love, the effect of trauma on the psyche, grief and loss and abandonment. It’s a lot but it didn’t feel unrealistic for the timescale, the range of characters and the narrative gently and sometimes bluntly led you into these issues with skill.

This was an impressive, memorable and epic story. I felt a lack of completion overall and needed a bit more in terms of closure. Mary Beth Keane wrote the complexity with simplicity and I would read her work again.

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the early review copy.