Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Don't Stand So Close by Luana Lewis

Thank you to Leanne at Transworld Publishers for the review copy of Don't Stand So Close.

A lingering, compulsive debut novel that will keep you tightly in its grip.

What would you do if a young girl knocked on your door and asked for your help?

If it was snowing and she was freezing cold, but you were afraid and alone?

What would you do if you let her in, but couldn't make her leave?

What if she told you terrible lies about someone you love, but the truth was even worse?

Stella has been cocooned in her home for three years. Severely agoraphobic, she knows she is safe in the stark, isolated house she shares with her husband, Max. The traumatic memories of her final case as a psychologist are that much easier to keep at a distance, too.

But the night that Blue arrives on her doorstep with her frightened eyes and sad stories, Stella's carefully controlled world begins to unravel around her.

I read the summary of this book in the Transworld catalogue and was instantly drawn to it.  Reading the book itself wasn't exactly what I had expected it to be.  I was expecting more scary thriller and less psychological thriller.  This book is designed to make you think, and is about the deep dark secrets of people who you thought you knew, and who you thought you trusted.  The two main characters also have deep-rooted problems of their own, both unique, but both linked in some way to each other.  The question is, how?

The chapters alternate so that the background story and the present day within the house play out piece by piece and you have to keep turning the pages to tease a little more information out before you can start to put the pieces together to make the jigsaw complete.

Personally, it didn't grip me as I had hoped it would, but it is a good book (and for a first novel, it is excellent).  I would definitely say it is worth a read if it sounds like your sort of thing.

Don't Stand So Close is released on February 13th 2014.

Parallel by Claudia Lefeve

Destiny has a way of catching up... 

Saddled with powers she doesn't understand, Etta Fleming's world is turned upside-down the day she meets Cooper Everett, the man who transports her to an alternate reality. A reality she was meant to be a part of. 

One minute, she's an orphan living at Dominion House for Girls, an institution for delinquent foster kids, then finds herself attending the exclusive Dominion Hall Academy. 

Plucked from the only world she's ever known, Etta now has to deal with an aunt she never knew, a boyfriend she doesn't know, and a best friend who can't know. 

So....I got an iPad for Christmas and, despite insisting I never wanted a kindle because there will never be anything like feeling the pages as you turn them, I couldn't resist having a look at what books were available to download. The cover of Parallel caught my eye, and the blurb sounded interesting too, as it would provide me with the relatively light read that I was looking for.  I'd been struggling to find a book to read, which could hold my interest, since finishing The Hunger Games and Angelfall. This book did the job nicely.

I'm not saying this book is perfect - at one point the author refers to the wrong character in a scene, which was slightly confusing and I found myself re-reading and re-reading the paragraph trying to work out if it was me being stupid or not, before deciding it wasn't and moving on.  I, personally, found this forgivable as I am used to reading proof copies where the odd mistake like that aren't totally uncommon.  However, if I had paid for the book, I would have been slightly more annoyed and it does slightly put me off paying for the follow up books.

However, I am desperate to know what happens.  Book 1 leaves you on a bit of a cliff hanger, a cliff edge which you want to jump off to plummet head first into the next book, Paradox, in order to find out what becomes of Etta.

The storyline is interesting and the characters are well drawn.  This book is a Young Adult book, but being now, in my late-20's, I found it perfectly enjoyable.  There were times where I had to re-read paragraphs to catch on to the mechanics of the plot, but overall it was a very enjoyable, fairly short and lighthearted read.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Angelfall by Susan Ee

I looked forlornly at my unread books after finishing The Hunger Games, knowing it would have to be something special to be able to follow the trilogy. I picked up a few, read the back and put them back knowing they just wouldn't cut it.  I finally settled upon Angelfall, resigned to the fact that I would probably be disappointed.

However, it was the perfect follow up book. It was supernatural enough to not be mundane after the excitement of The Hunger Games and it reminded me of Angel by L.A. Weatherly (another book I adored).

Angelfall tells the story of an angel apocalypse, and follows the journey of Penryn and her family as she tries to come to terms with the changes and the presence of both Angels and street gangs, all fighting for survival.  Penryn's little sister is taken by the Angels and Penryn will do absolutely anything to get her back.....but what will she encounter along the way and will she make it to the Angel's lair before it's too late?

I thought this book was fantastic, and I'm dying to read World After.  The characters were well constructed and the pace was perfect.  Every word drew me in further and further until I felt every emotion along with Penryn, and Raffe (who sounds divine!).

I do hope they make Angelfall into a film, so I can daydream over Raffe and his muscles!  If it isn't already, Angelfall really should be the next BIG THING! 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I'd heard the hype, how could you not have, but I didn't even know what The Hunger Games were about until I picked up the book to start reading.  Reading the synopsis, I wasn't entirely sure that this was going to be my sort of thing, it sounded bizarre and quite terrifying.

But boy was I wrong - I was hooked almost instantly and that deep need to read on engulfed me and continued right up to the very last page, leaving me feeling bereft.  

The Hunger Games are different, and deep down it's horrific, but god is it addictive!  I devoured the entire trilogy in a matter of days!

Personally, book 1 was my favourite; probably because it's so unique.  Once I started on book 2, desperately wanting more, I found the first half a little slow before the twist comes and it's back to The Hunger Games that you know and love.  The third book takes a different tack, but is more than enjoyable.

The Hunger Games are fast-paced and action packed, with the right dose of romance and family, and will leave you desperate for more.

The long asked question of Peeta or Gale? Anyone who has read this trilogy will have formed a view of who Katniss should end up with.  I usually have extremely strong feelings towards a particular couple in books, and I know, without question, who I want to end up with who, but I didn't have that with these books.  I was constantly torn, just as Katniss is.

If you've managed to avoid The Hunger Games like I had, grab yourself a copy and read like there is no tomorrow.  Now that I have finished, I feel bereft.....what could ever match up to this fantastic trilogy?

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

It Felt Like a Kiss by Sarra Manning

Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn't have fallen in love with?

Ellie Cohen is living her dream. A great job at an exclusive Mayfair art gallery, loyal mates, loving family, and really, really good hair. Well, there's the famous rock-star father who refuses to acknowledge her and a succession of 'challenging' boyfriends, but nobody's perfect.

But when a vengeful ex sells Ellie out to the press, she suddenly finds herself fighting to keep her job, her reputation and her sanity. 

Then David Gold - handsome, charming but ruthlessly ambitious - is sent in to manage the media crisis . . . and Ellie.

David thinks she's a gold-digger and Ellie thinks he's a shark in a Savile Row suit, so it's just as well that falling in love is the last thing on their minds . . .

I must admit that I found this quite a slow burner to start with, and despite falling love with the book at first sight of the cover, I briefly struggled and considered giving up.  I think this was because Sarra Manning spends the first part of the book fully building the character of Ellie, and although it didn't seem particularly overkill with detail, I found myself wanting it to move on.  

However, after a little while, the story found its pace and I settled into religiously turning the pages.  I liked that it wasn't just about the romance.  Ellie is a working woman and she has career ambitions.  It also touches on relationships with both family and friends, and that ultimate mother-daughter relationship.

I loved the "lame duck boyfriends" reference.  And David Gold sounded utterly delicious.  The fact he was a lawyer was particularly appealing to me, being someone who works in the law myself.

Ultimately you know what is going to happen but that, personally, didn't bother me as there were enough twists and turns along the way to keep me going.

** Released just in time for Valentines Day on 13 February 2014, pick up a copy of this for your beloved book worm **

Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes

Marian Keyes, the No. 1 bestselling author of Rachel's Holiday, is back with her stunning new novel The Mystery of Mercy Close and the return of the legendary and beloved Walsh sisters.

Helen Walsh doesn't believe in fear - it's just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good jobs - and yet she's sinking. Her work as a Private Investigator has dried up, her flat has been repossessed and now some old demons have resurfaced. 

Not least in the form of her charming but dodgy ex-boyfriend Jay Parker, who shows up with a missing persons case. Money is tight and Jay is awash with cash, so Helen is forced to take on the task of finding Wayne Diffney, the 'Wacky One' from boyband Laddz. 

Things ended messily with Jay. And she's never going back there. Besides she has a new boyfriend now, the very sexy detective Artie Devlin and it's all going well. But the reappearance of Jay is stirring up all kinds of stuff she thought she'd left behind. 

Playing by her own rules, Helen is drawn into a dark and glamorous world, where her worst enemy is her own head and where increasingly the only person she feels connected to is Wayne, a man she's never even met. 

Utterly compelling, moving and very very funny, The Mystery of Mercy Close is unlike any novel you've ever read and Helen Walsh - courageous, vulnerable and wasp-tongued - is the perfect heroine for our times.

It's been too long since Marian Keyes appeared in my life and I had missed her.  As a girl with Irish blood, I may be slightly biased but her books have always been fabulous, and this is no exception.

Marian Keyes has suffered from crippling depression for a number of years and this is mirrored in her latest book, The Mystery of Mercy Close.  

It's extremely well written, and despite the extremely serious undertone, it's extremely humourous.  I found myself laughing out loud at things that you shouldn't really find funny, but Marian has that way of writing and after all, she is the perfect person to write about this topic.

The story itself is fantastically portrayed, and whilst I did guess where Wayne was, it was only a few pages before it was revealed.  Up until that point, it had been a complete and utter mystery.

Not predictable, funny but poignant and a very clever story which I loved.  Welcome back Marian Keyes.  Long may you be happy and keep writing for us all to enjoy.

The Returned by Jason Mott

Thank you to Samantha Allen at Cherish PR for the review copy of Jason Mott's The Returned.

"All over the world, people's loved ones are returning from the dead.
Exactly as they were before they died.
As if they never left.
As if it's just another ordinary day.

Jacob Hargrave tragically drowned over 40 years ago. Now he's on his aged parents doorstep, still eight years old; the little boy they knew they d never see again. As the family find themselves at the centre of a community on the brink of collapse, they are forced to navigate a whole new reality and question everything they've ever believed.

No one knows how or why this mysterious event is happening, whether it s a miracle or a sign of the end.
The only certainty is that their lives will never be the same again."

This isn't the sort of book I would usually jump at the chance to read, but reading the description intrigued me and made me want to read it.  As I started to read, I realised that it wasn't really what I was expecting, although I'm not sure what else I had been expecting in a book about people coming back from the dead years later.  It isn't zombie-esque, but the "returnings" causes the world to go into utter meltdown.  This book is about the story of a particular community and how they cope, or don't cope as the case may be.  

It doesn't really focus on the people coming back in the way I had expected - as in they didn't have deep and meaningful conversations about how much they've missed each other, and what caused their death....it is more about the world's reaction to their return.

Having started reading, and immediately thought that perhaps this wasn't for me after all, I continued and actually really enjoyed it.  It isn't the sort of book that you can lie in bed at night and dream about it happening to you, but it was enjoyable.  It kept me turning the pages and at times, it was very moving.

I'm not particularly religious, and so I couldn't necessarily relate to that element of the book, but I see how it was important and I respect that.  It is about faith, and how different people react when confronted with the same situation.  It's also about love, and the things people do; things they never thought they would.  All in all, enjoyable I thought.

Once More with Feeling by Megan Crane

This winter, lose yourself in Sarah's world of life-changing decisions, friendship and old flames....

Sarah's suffered the very worst of betrayals.  But now with a new year around the corner, what better time to re-evaluate her life?

As she reconsiders every choice she's made, she starts to wonder if her life was so perfect after all, and if this might be the moment that her world changes forever...

This book has been sat on my bookshelf for some time, just waiting to be read.  I had been waiting for winter to set in, as the cover is so beautifully wintery.  The cover is a little deceiving; it makes you feel like it will be a christmassy book.  Whilst this book is the ideal book to settle down with in front of the fire on a crisp winter day, it isn't a Christmas eve read.  (For that I would recommend the author Scarlett Bailey and her fabulous Christmas books!)

I very much enjoyed this book.  It resonated with me, and I found it very easy to relate to Sarah.  Not because of the affair, but because of the back story which comes out as Sarah delves into her past to try and discover why she made the choices she did.  Did she settle for Tim? Has she really been as happy as she thought all those years? What happened to her dreams? How did she end up being the type of lawyer she always hated?

To answer all those questions, and try to work out how she ended up where she is today, Sarah takes a trip down or two down memory lane.  This is the point in the book where I really started to get into it.  I saw similarities between Sarah and Brooke's friendship and an old friendship of my own.  It made me smile, and I didn't want her to leave Brooke again.  But then came along her old flame, Alec.....

Alec....Alec is delicious and sounded like my perfect man! At this point, I wanted to dive into the book and take Sarah's place!

Megan Crane does a fabulous job at making you feel everything Sarah feels: disbelief, anger, frustration at her parents, confusion, love for an old friend, lust for an old flame....! The pace is perfect, and the storyline twists and turns to keep you turning the pages.

You know a book is good when it leaves you wanting more, and this book left me begging Megan Crane to write a sequel (quite literally, I actually tweeted her before I embarked on this review!).  It wasn't the predictable ending I expected and it only hints at the future, which I'm dying to know more about.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Thank you to Tessa at Transworld Publishers for the review copy of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which was sent in return for an honest review of the book.

"When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else's life."

This isn't the most believable story, but it was one that intrigued me.

Rachel Joyce doesn't hang about, but plunges straight into the storyline with Harold embarking on his walk in the first few pages.  Any "back story" to Harold and his life is discovered en route as he walks from his home in Devon to Berwick-upon-Tweed, through Harold's memories.

I struggled for the first part of the book, as I constantly found myself wondering how someone walking from one end of the country to the other would be able to fill a whole book, but it does.  I also at times thought "why wouldn't he just get on a train?" But I guess that is the whole point of the book - he has to walk to "save Queenie".  Harold meets a whole host of people on his way, and he also untangles himself from the person he had become to remember the person he was, to remember the people he loves.  

Meanwhile, Harold's wife, left home alone with only her neighbour for company, has the same sort of realising experiences.

The whole point of his walk is to "save" Queenie's life. Yet, when he arrives in Berwick-upon-Tweed, there isn't much made of the event.  It comes and it goes; blink and you might miss it, which I found a little frustrating.

There also wasn't much mystery.  You didn't wonder if he'd had an affair with Queenie all those years ago, as he says it wasn't a romantic gesture.  It's a mystery why he feels compelled to walk all that way for this particular woman, but I found that I didn't find myself second guessing and therefore I didn't really care all that much.

As my mum said, it would have been much more interesting if he'd turned up at the hospice and his love child was sat waiting by Queenie's bed.

There was also part towards the end of the book where Harold was joined by other people on his walk.  I didn't like this bit, it left me frustrated and I wanted them to leave.

All that said, it sounds like I hated it.  I didn't - whilst some of it was a little repetitive, overall I did enjoy it and the ending was good.  If anything, I would have liked to have seen more of his relationship with his wife.  

Good, if you just want some light-reading.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones is back.....!

What do you do when a girlfriend's 60th birthday party is the same day as your boyfriend's 30th?

Is it wrong to lie about your age when online dating?

Is it morally wrong to have a blow-dry when one of your children has head lice?

Does the Dalai Lama actually tweet or is it his assistant?

Is technology now the fifth element? Or is that wood?

Is sleeping with someone after 2 dates and 6 weeks of texting the same as getting married after 2 meetings and 6 months of letter writing in Jane Austen's day?

Pondering these, and other modern dilemmas, Bridget Jones stumbles through the challenges of single-motherhood, tweeting, texting and redisovering her sexuality in what SOME people rudely and outdatedly call 'middle age'.

The long-awaited return of a much-loved character, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is timely, tender, touching, witty, wise and bloody hilarious.

By now, you will all have heard the "SPOILER" about the latest Bridget Jones book.  And if you haven't....stop reading now and hide under a rock until your copy gets delivered.

Yes, Darcy is dead.  And all of you that are outraged by this fact and as a result of your outrage are protesting by not reading the book, well you're quite simply missing out on the same old lovable Bridget.  Yes it is sad, and yes we all miss him (including Bridget), but GET OVER IT.

Think about it logically.  If Darcy was still alive, he and Bridget would be married.  You'd want them to be happily married and for it to last forevermore.....they would have their beautiful Darcy-like children and there would be the chaos that comes with children, but Bridget wouldn't have the dating disasters that we all came to love her for......unless she left Darcy.....and that would be even more outrageous.

I personally can't recall reading the first two books, although they sit neatly on my bookshelf, so I can't compare and reassure you that "Yes, it's just as good" or shake my head miserable and say "No, it's not the same, I preferred the first book" but what I can say is that it's enjoyable, it's funny, it made me laugh out loud and it made me cry.  It is the same old Bridget Jones, and as I read it, I can vividly see the spectacularly embarrassing moments being broadcast to me on the television in years to come.   

Helen Fielding most certainly hasn't lost it, she has perfectly captured Bridget Jones.  It is a different chapter in Bridget's life and you need to embrace that.

I was pleased to see that Daniel Cleaver still features, albeit occasionally.  Helen Fielding has his character well and truly nailed.....reading those passages is like listening to Hugh Grant speak to me, which quite frankly, is amazing in itself.

Of the new characters, I loved Bridget's children, especially her little girl....who sounds like the cutest thing on the planet.  

All in all, I enjoyed it.  Yes times had moved on since Bridget Jones first crashed into our lives, but it's still a great read, with or without Mark Darcy.  It made me laugh, it made me cry (more than once!) and when I'd finished, I closed the book with a smile on my face.

I know Helen Fielding didn't write this book with a film in mind, but we all know it will happen and it will make a wonderful film.  They're going to need to start looking for a very cute young mini-Bridget (think Karen from Outnumbered) and an equally as dashing mini-Mark Darcy.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Moment by Claire Dyer

Do you remember the moment your life changed forever?

Paddington station, nine a.m., rush hour. As the crowds ebb and flow, time suddenly stands still for two people: Fern and Elliott, ex-lovers who parted twenty-five years before and never expected to see each other again.

But here they are, face to face, and the connection is as powerful as it was the day they first met. Their lives have moved on - to marriage, children and divorce - yet neither has stopped regretting the day that drove them apart.

Fern gives Elliott her number and they tentatively arrange to meet again that evening when both will be travelling back through the station. 

And, as the day ticks on, and the memories resurface, both Fern and Elliott reflect on the past. As their emotions go round in circles, so does the Paddington clock, counting down the minutes to eight p.m. - and the moment the future is in their hands.

I honestly hate it when I don't love a book.  It doesn't happen often, I'm one of those annoying people who always loves every book she reads. Only occasionally do I find a book I dislike.  I didn't dislike The Moment, for the most part I enjoyed it, but I never felt totally and utterly engaged or engulfed by the characters.  It was the penultimate chapter that made me think that I would be seriously disappointed by it, but the final, short chapter, saved me from hating it.  

I thought the message that the person you are today hinges on an infinite number of moments in your past was a really thought-provoking message, but sadly, this book just didn't satisfy me in the way I imagined it would when I both heard about it and opened it for the first time.  Thinking about it now, after I've had time to digest the ending, it is, of course, the right way to end it.  There isn't any other way to do it.  But it lacks that unconditional romance that I do love to read.  But as I'm fast coming to realise fairytales don't really exist.  This book is about real life; how people make mistakes and people adapt.

The first chapter starts with Fern, one foot poised at the top of the escalator ready to go down to the Circle and District lines in Paddington station.  There is then a relatively long narrative describing what runs through Fern's head at this moment.  Now, I'm not someone who commutes in and out of London, but I know for a fact, that a moments hesitation at the top of an escalator in a tube station is not going to go down well with Londoners.  This was the overriding thought I had when reading this first chapter, and it spoiled what could have been a fabulous start to the book.

I did, however, think that the book was well-written, and it is impressive that Claire Dyer managed to fit the history of 25 years into a day (and this book).  It was wonderful to see each of Fern and Elliott living out the same historical moments, but from their own perspective, and how actually if they'd have followed their instinct back then things would have turned out different.  However, at times, I did find it a little repetitive as you were experiencing the same moment twice, sometimes more throughout the book.  I also found myself glossing over parts of the book that didn't directly involve Fern or Elliott as it didn't seem to engage me enough to make me savor every word.

That said, if you read the back of this book and you think it might be something you'd like....try it.  Don't let me disappointment put you off, I'm probably just craving that fairytale escapism that is more commonplace in novels.

The Moment was released on 12 September 2013, and thank you Cecilia Keating from Midas PR for the review copy.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

I came to say goodbye by Caroline Overington

It was a crime that shocked the world.

The CCTV footage shows a young woman pushing through the hospital doors.

She walks into the nursery, picks up a baby and places her carefully in a shopping bag.

She walks out to the car park, towards an old Ford Corolla. For a moment, she holds the child gently against her breast and, with her eyes closed, she smells her.

Then she clips the baby into the car, gets in and drives off. This is where the footage ends.

What happens next will leave a mother devastated, and a little boy adrift in a world he will never understand.

I finished this book last night with tears in my eyes.  Having read the back of the book, I was expecting an action packed thrill ride, but it isn't like that, it's a slow tale through the history of a family which eventually culminates in a tragedy.  It is a very moving storyline though, it just takes time to build.

The book begins with a very short prologue describing a woman walking into a hospital at 4am, and taking a baby.  Part One is then written by a man, Med Atley, father to three children who describes his marriage, bringing up his children and the past slowly making his way forward in to the present.  Part Two is written by one of Med's daughters, Kat, as she picks up a specific part of the tale before returning to Med.  The entire book is written as a letter from Med and Kat to a Court judge.  It isn't apparent from the start what Court case is happening, but it is clearly something to do with the kidnapped baby. 
Finally, the book ends with a letter written to the judge by a lady we haven't met before.

I personally really liked the style it was written in, it was very personable and I thought it was unique.  It perhaps wasn't as gripping as I'd imagined or hoped for, and there were some flaws in the story but it was generally captivating and moving.

I came to say goodbye is released on 26 September.

Thank you to Citizen Sigmund of Random House for the review copy!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace

You know that typical story of Boy meets Girl? You know the one, you've read a million different versions, you've seen it depicted by Hollywood in every possible way.  Well....I bet you haven't seen the heartwarming everyday tale of Boy stalks Girl?

"My name is Jason - and I have just met the most incredible woman on Charlotte Street.  

Well, I say 'met'.  I sort of held her bags for a second.  But she smiled at me!

And it was this amazing smile.

Of course, I don't know her name, or anything about her at all.  But I do happen to have something of hers.  She left behind one of those old-school disposable cameras.

I've got it here.  It's here in front of me.

So there are two things I could now do:

I could develop the photos.  Maybe work out a way of finding her.  See that smile again.

Or I could chuck it in a bin like a grown-up.

I'm fairly sure one of those ideas is a good one.  I'm fairly sure the other might be illegal.

Look, if you were me... what would you?"

When I first heard on TV that Danny Wallace had written a novel, and that it was to do with a boy....stalking a girl, I was instantly drawn to it.  It sounded like something I would adore.

And I did, to an extent.  There were parts of the book which I feel I just didn't "get" and at that point, I felt slightly disconnected.  You know that feeling when you're fairly sure someone has just cracked a joke, but you just don't get it.  I experienced that throughout the majority part of the book - where there London in-jokes that I, as a country bumpkin, just didn't get??  Or maybe there wasn't, maybe I was over thinking it as the author is known as a 'funny man'.  There is certainly a sense of fun running throughout the book.

It made me smile, but it didn't make me laugh out loud.  Overpoweringly though, I loved the characters.  Danny leads you up certain paths that you might fall for, or you might not.  The ending isn't overly shocking, it's kind of predictable but it's perfect.

They say it'll happen when you least expect it, and this story tells you just that.  My absolute favourite part of this book was the last few chapters (and no, I don't mean because it was going to be over).  They're perfect, in every way.  So much so, I went back and reread them a few hours after finishing!

As mentioned by other reviewers, I can absolutely see this being made into a film.  Hurry up and sell the film rights!!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Today I finally finished The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.....

I'm a little ashamed to admit that I allowed myself to get distracted from this book.  I got three quarters of the way through, it ended up in a different location to me and I started another book whilst I awaited its return.  Since that moment, I've read more books than I count on one hand.....!  Now, that isn't at all like me.  I usually get into a book, and I struggle to put it down until I have absorbed every last word.  I mistook my casual attitude to returning to it as disinterest, but having returned to it today, I was wrong.  

The main character is lovable, in an extraordinarily different way.  With undiagnosed asperger's syndrome, Don is a very special man!

In this book, you'll experience a number of projects....the Wife Project, the Father Project and as the name suggests, the Rosie Project.  I found myself wondering when the Rosie Project would begin and I had to wait until the end of the fourth paragraph on page 256 to see those three little words 'the Rosie Project'

Funny, perfectly pitched, not your typical rom-com but packed full of real life.

You can follow the author on twitter @GraemeSimsion.  Could you come up with a story in 140 characters or less, twitter fiction and you might just stumble upon some on Graeme's twitter page.  See the challenge and story here

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Thank you to Jessica at Orion Books for the review copy of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

This book has been marked as 'Thriller of the Year' by the Observer.  It isn't, however, your typical thriller that will have you quivering in your seat.  However, it is chilling as a psychological thriller that makes you realise just what human beings are capable of if they really put their minds to it.  You might think it is silly and unrealistic, but think about - deep down, you know someone could pull this off if they really really wanted to.

The book is split into parts which, in a very clever way, depict the two sides to this particular story.  The story (and you may have to keep reminding yourself that it is, just that, a story!) is very well written, woven together and maintained right up to the last page.  It's packed full of twists, and I challenge anyone to say that they saw them all coming!  The life lesson is that revenge is a powerful thing!!  The characters are very well drawn.

As I got close to the end, I became very aware that it had the potential to have a very disappointing ending for me.  I, luckily, wasn't disappointed, and most importantly, I wasn't annoyed.  However, I know for a fact that some of you will read it and absolutely hate the ending!  Unfortunately, there is only one way to find out but what I will say is, if you've managed to avoid it so far, DON'T read the spoilers before you embark on this as they will, quite simply, ruin it for you!

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

First of all, a big thank you to Mia Churcher at Hesperus Press who supplied a review copy of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.  You can follow Hesperus Press on twitter @HesperusPress and they have their very own blog which you can follow and get involved in here.

When I first heard about The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared I was, quite simply, intrigued.  It sounded unique, and I couldn't imagine what I was letting myself in for when I opened the first page and began to experience the adventure of Allan Karrlsson (the hundred year old man, who doesn't wish to attend his hundredth birthday party, so he embarks on an adventure you couldn't even begin to dream up if you tried).

This book translates fabulously from Swedish (hats off to the translator, Rod Bradbury) and conjures up a book which will take you beyond your wildest dreams.  The thing I loved about this book is that it is so lighthearted.  It starts on in 2005, the day of Allan's hundredth birthday but the chapters soon start to skip between the past and the present.  Chapter by chapter, you uncover the full story and history behind the man who is Allan Karlsson.  This skipping doesn't break up the flow of the story at all; it is absolutely seamless.

Now, I don't claim to know a huge amount about history (it was not my subject of choice at school), so I cannot tell you how accurate the tales are, but you will soon discover that Allan has been now only involved in, but been the key feature, to some of the most momentous events in the twentieth century.  Despite his aversion to politics, he becomes entirely tangled up in it!

The characters are fabulously created and maintained throughout.  I loved that they were quite often referred to by way of a description, rather than by name, for chunks of the book before you actually came to learn their names.  It depicted exactly how a hundred-year-old man might think and talk.

All in all, I loved reading the adventure, I loved meeting the characters and following them along their sometimes-ludicrous journey!  The tale is extremely well woven together and has a very satisfying ending.

Finally, CONGRATULATIONS to Jonas Jonasson and Hesperus Press, as they are currently celebrating selling over 1,000,000 (yes, that is one million) copies of the book!  Will you add to that number? Get yourself a copy, and I'd love to know what you thought.....

Monday, 24 June 2013

Love is a Thief by Claire Garber

Thank you to Lucy Pearson (@UnlikelyBookWrm) for the copy of Love is a Thief by Claire Garber which I received for free in return for my honest review.

“I might just be ‘that’ girl. You know the one. The girl who, for no particular reason, doesn’t get the guy, doesn’t have children, doesn’t get the romantic happy ever after.
So I needed to come up with a plan. What didn’t I do because I fell in love?"

When I first received Lucy's email, and read the brief intro to this new book (which is published by MIRA in paperbook and ebook on 5 July 2013), I jumped at the chance to read it! As a hopeless romantic, yet at the same time quite cynical when it comes to my own love life, it sounded like the perfect read.  I must admit, I even bumped it to the top of my "to read list" as soon as it arrived.

What has love stolen from you?

When I first opened the book, it reminded my of one the most poignant poems I have ever read.  Love after Love by Derek Walcott:

The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving 
at your own door, in your own mirror 
and each will smile at the other's welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart 
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

all your life, whom you ignored 
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 
Sit. Feast on your life. 

This book is about knowing yourself, knowing what you are without love, and recognising that love changes who you are.

I found this book to be inspiring, unique and funny.  I loved the characters, who are so wonderfully defined.  Kate's grandma and the other residents of Pepperpots are fabulous.  I adored Peter Parker (and I challenge you not to!), and his wonderfully unique story (I didn't see the twist, and was totally engrossed at the potential catastrophe ).  I even loved Chad, who some of you will hate....but his constant use of the word 'twat' or 'twatting' as every other word in a sentence did make me laugh.

This story is based on real life heartbreak, yet at the same time it is full of uplifting moments.  It makes you think about your own life - “If you knew you were going to spend the rest of your life alone, you would never fall in love, never settle down, never have children, what would you want to do? What would make you happy? What would fill up your time, your heart, your soul for the rest of your days? Are you currently doing that thing?”

Ultimately, it made me smile, it made me laugh and it made me want more.  

If you'd like to get a taste of what Love is a Thief is about, you can download the free short story Love's Stolen Dreams here and you can visit the Love is a Thief website here 

You can also follow Claire on twitter @ClaireGarber