Sunday, 12 March 2017

Emma's Review: Evie's Year of Taking Chances by Christie Barlow

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Evie’s job has always been her safe haven. As a librarian in the little town of Becton she loses herself in books - after all it’s far easier to read about other people’s problems than set about solving her own.

Then, one birthday, everything is turned upside down. A mysterious parcel containing a beautiful book with a poignant inscription arrives for Evie. It’s the beginning of a new chapter for Evie and she’s inspired to try and find her real mother. 

Evie’s search leads her to meet handsome author Noah Jones. Charming and intelligent, Noah seems the perfect catch but what Evie doesn’t realise is that he is hiding something – a key to Evie’s past. 

As Evie gets closer to Noah and discovering her mother, she must take a giant leap of faith. Can she embrace the new and make this her year of taking chances? And if she does, will she get her heart broken? 

Amazon links: Kindle 

I've said it before and will probably say it many times in the future but Bookouture really do the best covers for all of their wonderful authors. This new book from Christie Barlow is no exception and the cover for Evie's Year of Taking Chances is simply stunning. It's simple yet does the job it sets out to do which is make you want to reach for this book from the shelves and dive in. The colours are eye catching and make this such a beautiful cover and thankfully within the bright, inviting cover is a lovely, heart warming and emotional story waiting to be read. Once you pick up this book you will find it increasingly hard to put down. I would have read it all in one sitting only work and general ongoings in life got in the way. 

I only started reading Christie's books last year when I read and adored Kitty's Countryside Dream. Christie has such a lovely flow to her writing and although one would think her books could be typical of the chick lit genre I find beneath all the sweetness and light that definitely needs to be in a book of this genre is quite often a story with lots of hidden messages and many things for the reader to take from what they have just read. The story of Evie and her decision to take to grab life by the horns was a joy to read and I really didn't want it to end so caught up was I in all the goings on.

Evie right from chapter one was an instantly likeable character that the more you read through the story, the more you wanted a positive outcome for her and one that you knew she would find happiness and that it would last forever. What also drew me so much to Evie was that she worked in a library and adored books just like many of the people who will probably pick up this book. I mean who doesn't love a book featuring books and libraries, it's a bookworms dream. The bookish chat and camaraderie in the library was just so lovely to read about and it was evident Evie was very happy in this aspect of her life. If only all the other sections could fall into place one could say she leads a life of perfection. Even better was a Mim's bookclub which featured and in books you often wished places like this existed and it was a delight to discover that this was actually the case. 

Evie has just turned 22 and lives in Marbury. She is independent and stands on her own two feet, living in her own home and enjoying her job. Yet life has not always been plain sailing for Evie and even now there is that niggling feeling of discontentment ever present at the back of her heart and mind. When she was younger she had spent many years in and out of the foster system pulled and pushed from pillar to post until finally settling with Irene who became like her birth mother. A deep connection was forged between the pair which remained evident throughout the story. At any point in time that Evie needed advice or if she wasn't seeking help from  the simply brilliant character of best friend and co-worker Clara then it was Irene she turned to. Even though Irene herself had recently retired from the library at all times she was there for Evie. Not once was Irene pushy or in your face instead she was a character who was utilised to perfection, there with the right words of comfort or advice when needed or else bubbling away in the background with her own little lovely storyline.

With her birthday Evie makes a decision, all the questions regarding her birth mother need answering. She feels she can't go on not knowing the truth of her birth and the ever supportive Irene backs her all the way. Clara does too and I loved how forthright and honest she was whilst at the same time retained such a sense of fun and humour as she battled on a daily basis with her love life problems. But this was all done with such wit and warmth that it didn't take from Evie's problems instead it provided laugh out loud moments and a nice balance to what Evie was experiencing. Evie decides to contact the Salvation Army who can set the wheels in motion to locate her birth mother and from then she juggles many balls while waiting for confirmation. 

What make this book such a wonderful, engaging read was that there were many little sub plots working away and none of them ever became too shoved upon the reader. Instead they slipped in and out at just the appropriate time and one never dominated over the other. The entire focus of the story could have been on this big, big search to find her birth mother instead it felt so realistic that Evie began her quest but at the same she had to continue to lead her normal life as answers don't just appear immediately and we have to keep going on a daily basis even though a million thoughts and emotions are constantly running through our mind and at times driving us crazy. 

This wouldn't have been such a great read without the inclusion of some romance and the introduction of new librarian Aiden, with his young son and author Noah Jones – whom Evie has the biggest crush on, added some sparkle to the story and counteracted the seriousness of what Evie was going through outside of the library as she waited for news which would inevitably change her life. I never could decide just how things would work out for everybody regarding any of the given situations explored throughout the story although there was something gnawing away at me regarding one particular character but I couldn't establish the connections. 

The story as a whole moved along at just the right pace nothing felt forced or rushed or out of place and my love for the characters grew the deeper I got into the story. There was a great mystery element to the story not just surrounding the location and identity of Evie's birth mother but also who exactly the author Sam Stone was and why certain mysterious and unexpected things happened to Evie? The author kept me guessing regarding everything until the very end and that's what a good book should do. Evie is seeking closure in more ways than one and in order to discover whether she achieves this I strongly suggest you pick up a copy of Evie's Year of Taking Chances as soon as you can. It's a little gem of a book with such a brilliant, feel good factor. 

I really hope Christie will provide her readers with another book this year, I just can't seem to get enough of her writing and would happily sit all day and read her excellent books.

Many thanks to Bookouture via NetGalley for my copy of Evie's Year of Taking Chances to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

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