Thursday, 28 August 2014

Review: I Can't Begin To Tell You by Elizabeth Buchan

Continuing my report on my holiday reading (and my little holiday from chick lit, come to that!), today sees the release of Elizabeth Buchan’s I Can’t Begin To Tell You.

A historical novel set during WW2, I Can’t Begin To Tell You delves into the murky underworld of the Danish Resistance- following the agents on the ground as well as the men and women back in Britain. Read about characters fighting a very different war- one using ciphers and Morse code- some their main obstacles being the dinosaurs that run their departments, holding hostage the thinking and advances that will save their agents on the ground.

The joy of this beautifully written novel was that four of the five main voices were those of women. Kay, arguably the main character, is a Brit living in Denmark. Married for twenty years to a Danish aristocrat she finds herself torn between her happy marriage and doing the right thing for both Britain and her adopted country.

The writing is fluent and beautifully paced, the slow amble of parts of the story ratcheting up the sense of suspense mixed with the tedium of the daily grind for the operatives on both sides of the sea.

Not for you if you like a neatly-tied-up-happy-ever-after, but definitely one for you if you want to read about women making the most bitter and courageous choices at one of the most difficult moments in history.

If you follow my social media links- you’ll have seen that I recommended this book as a must for pre-order. Now it’s out, I can only urge you to go ahead and grab yourself a copy Here .

The Blurb:

Denmark, 1940. War has come and everyone must choose a side.

For British-born Kay Eberstern, living on her husband Bror's country estate, the Nazi invasion and occupation of her adopted country is a time of terrible uncertainty and inner conflict.

With Bror desperate to preserve the legacy of his family home, even if it means co-existing with the enemy, Kay knows she cannot do the same. Lured by British Intelligence into a covert world of resistance and sabotage, her betrayal of Bror is complete as she puts her family in danger.

Tasked with protecting an enigmatic SOE agent, a man who cannot even tell her his name, Kay learns the art of subterfuge. From this moment on, she must risk everything for the sake of this stranger - a stranger who becomes entangled in her world in ways she never expected.

Caught on opposing sides of a war that has ripped apart a continent, will Kay and Bror ever find their way back to one another?

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Review: The Life You Left by Carmel Harrington

This week finds me on holiday from the day job. I don’t know about all of you, but as soon as I’m in holiday mode, I go through books like nobody’s business… but this tends to leave me hankering for something a little bit different. When you’re running through books at such a fast pace, patterns and clich├ęs become more obvious… more irksome. I find myself sat there thinking ‘not again!’

I can tell you now that Carmel Harrington’s The Life You Left is nothing like this. Not even slightly. Normally, I like my genres straight up-no twists. I’ve never been sure of mixing in a bit of paranormal, say, or a bit of crime with chick lit or romance. But it seems I’ve been missing a trick, as these were the exact ingredients that caused The Life You Left to leap off the page and stand out from the dozen or so others I’ve read over the past week. I started it yesterday evening and stayed up all night, until finally, with a last sob and an empty tissue box at my side, I gave that satisfied sigh. You know the one that says it all. Good book. Epically good book.

This is a unique story where the fantastical becomes real, the sadness- heartbreaking and the love- overwhelming. This one is a must-read. For everybody.

Now please excuse me if I nip off for a nap.

The Blurb:

It started out like any other day for Sarah Lawler; getting the kids ready for school, making the pack lunches and juggling baby Ella’s feeds.

There was no way of knowing that her husband, Paul, would leave for work that morning and simply not come home.

Now the questions are piling up quicker than the unpaid bills and, unable to answer her children’s questions about where their Daddy is, Sarah is getting desperate.

But it turns out she isn’t quite as alone as she thought she was. When her beloved childhood friend, Edward, comes back into her life, Sarah thinks she’s finally been thrown a life line.

There’s just one problem with Edward: Sarah is the only person who can see him.

Grab your copy Here

Friday, 15 August 2014

Review: Lovestruck by Julia Llewellyn

I was so looking forward to reading Lovestruck, released yesterday, but now that I’ve finished reading,
I have mixed feelings about it.

At it’s heart is the old adage of “be careful what you wish for.” Basically, our two main characters, Rosie and Jake are, at least on the outside, living the dream. Jake’s star is in ascendance- and so the fortunes of his little, loving family follow. Cue the perfect house in the perfect village, the ability to buy everything you’d ever dreamed of and to do exactly what you want to do with your life. But as their fortunes increase, so Rosie’s outlook on her life gets worse and cracks appear in what at first appears to be the perfect, loving marriage.

What was good about it? Llewellyn draws fantastically real characters- the book was full of people I feel like I have come to know well. This doesn’t mean I like  all of the characters! Also, the final third of the book moved on a treat.

What wasn’t so good? I wanted to knock their heads together and tell them to get on with it- talk to each other and get on and enjoy their fantastic fortunes rather than grouch around being thoroughly ungrateful for their luck. Because of this, I found it quite a frustrating read- like a good friend who you’ve heard whine a few too many times- but at least with a friend you can tell them to quit it and open their eyes.

Basically, I found it to be a story about two pretty self-absorbed people who have forgotten how to communicate- and this is resolved when they pull their heads out of their behinds and start talking again (due to an almighty twist in the story that I found to be a little bit ‘helicoptered in’ to make something change)

Finally- some of the stories of the peripheral characters, that were so well drawn and felt like they were leading somewhere, just weren’t tied up or given their mention to keep the reader satisfied.

With all this said- The ending was a good one, and I’m glad I finished the book- but it was far more about the rose-tinted spectacles being put back on than true love, happily ever after and soul-mates at dawn.

I did enjoy the book and would recommend it for your suitcase for an easy poolside read, but it’s not one that I’ll be adding to my ‘keepers’ shelf

The Blurb:

Do you trust the ones you love?

Jake and Rosie fell in love fast. Before they knew it they were married with kids, and happily living in a cramped flat in London. All the while Jake struggled to make it as an actor - waiting for that big, lucky break.

When he got it - courtesy of his agent, Christy, who also happens to be Rosie's best friend - everything changed. Suddenly Jake was hardly there, working hard, always in demand - a rising star.

But as fame and fortune reveals a side to Jake that Rosie's not sure she likes, she begins to wonder just how well she knows the man she married. And soon enough she's questioning how far she can trust the woman always at his side - her best friend Christy...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Review: Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

This Thursday sees the release date of the most unmissable book of this year so far. Liane Moriarty has done it again with her new book, Little Lies. With her customary ability to bring darkness, destruction and intrigue to a small town complete with its small-town characters, Moriarty has written this in such a way that it is absolutely impossible to put down – it kept me company for a whole day whilst I was recovering from flu and really is the best book of this year.

Moriarty writes complex, intriguing, broken characters that you really care about, loathe, love or feel all three emotions at once for. The pace is incredible and as the plot thickens and the twists tie you up in knots, you’ll not be able to put Little Lies down until it reaches its unexpected, final twist of a climax.

Seriously, if you’re only going to treat yourself to one summer read this year, it has to be this one. It’s not chick lit, but it has the best-drawn characters I’ve ever come across and moments that will make you gasp out loud and cover your face with your hands- only to peep between your fingers to continue to read!

If I gave marks, this would be a ten out of ten. But I don’t- so just promise me you’ll read it.

The Blurb:
Jane hasn't lived anywhere longer than six months since her son was born five years ago. She keeps moving in an attempt to escape her past. Now the idyllic seaside town of Pirriwee has pulled her to its shores and Jane finally feels like she belongs. She has friends in the feisty Madeline and the incredibly beautiful Celeste - two women with seemingly perfect lives... and their own secrets behind closed doors.

But then a small incident involving the children of all three women occurs in the playground causing a rift between them and the other parents of the school. Minor at first but escalating fast, until whispers and rumours become vicious and spiteful. It was always going to end in tears, but no one thought it would end in murder...

Laura x

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Review: The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me by Lucy Robinson

Oh. Oh My. Aargh! Bleurgh! Argh! AARGH!!! Or at least that’s what I would imagine Sally to say in this circumstance… and probably Lucy herself for that matter.

See, thing is, I have a new girl-crush on Lucy Robinson. I’d not come across her fabulousness before a review copy from the lovely people at Penguin plopped onto my doormat – (Penguin- you have a lot to answer for- including a new crush, several sleepless nights and prune-making baths as I raced through this book).

The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me has caused much snuffling, spluttering, giggling, crying and mutterings of “Ha! Wazzok!” to escape my lips over the last few days. Lucy Robinson has a fantastic, irreverent style of writing that will instantly grab your heart and not let go.

Sally Howlett is the perfect leading lady – made more so due to her seeming lack of ability to be this in her own life. You can’t but help adore her. And Julian – well all I can say is that it’s been a long time since I’ve properly fallen in love with a literary hero, but this did it for me. They had better not get him wrong when casting for the inevitable film version, that’s all I’m sayin’ chicken! Ah, Barry from Barry Island… well, I can’t describe him- you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

Basically- I could wax lyrical about this book for pages and pages and completely jam up your screens- anyone that can write such a rich, juicy story, tightly packed with emotion but still manage maintain the most lovably ridiculous voice throughout earns my undying devotion.  And yours too – I promise. 

This one is going firmly on my favourites shelf- to be read again and again. Due out 19th June!

The Blurb:

The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me by Lucy Robinson, author of A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger, is a wonderfully witty and gorgeously romantic story of facing your fears and falling in love.
Sally is an incredible singer but she sings only in her wardrobe where nobody can hear her. She'd rather join a nudist colony than sing in public.
That is until she ventures to New York where a wild and heady summer of love and loss changes her forever. No longer able to hide in the shadows, Sally must return home to London to fulfill a promise she cannot break - to share her voice.
But just as she's about to embark on her new life, a beautiful man turns up on Sally's doorstep bearing a sheepish smile and a mysterious hand-written message.
How did he find her? Why is he here? Does he hold the truth to what happened back in New York? And, with him back on the scene, will she still have the courage to step into the spotlight?
Laugh out loud and follow your heart with Lucy Robinson's The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me.