I LOVED Bee Ridgway’s novel The River of No Return so jumped at the chance to ask her a few questions. But first, if you’ve not read the book here’s Bee talking about it to give you a flavour of this fantastic new novel.
The blurb: A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson, author of The Greatest Love Story of All Time, is a hilariously funny and gorgeously romantic story about falling in love when you least expect it.
Charley Lambert has put considerable effort into achieving a perfect life. She has The Job. The Wardrobe. And The Flat. Her womanising, junk food-loving housemate Sam lowers the tone a bit but that aside, things are peachy. Then she breaks her leg in three places, watches her unrequited love propose to someone else and – worst of all – is forced to hand over her job to her nasty deputy while she recovers. Workaholic Charley fears that she will soon go mad. Desperate for something to do, she discovers her talent for helping the lovelorn online. And then William arrives in her inbox.
Within hours of his first email, her world starts to change. Helpless, she watches herself fall in love with this man and begins to realise that she’s not who she thought she was. But will she be brave enough to turn her back on her old life – all for a total stranger?
My review: I thought she couldn’t get any better but I was wrong! It is so rewarding to have found an author that can be justifiable compared to Helen Fielding. Lucy Robinson is a genius, to write is one thing, to be funny is quite another and this lady manages to combine them both with aplomb.
The plot is simple enough at first, slick, ambitious, workaholic Charley has everything just as she wants it and has managed to convince herself she doesn’t need sleep, time with friends or a day off until disaster strikes and she ends up in hospital. The book then takes an intriguing twist as the rest of the novel is in essence a rehabilitation of Charley’s life from the bottom up.
This novel is filled with the most loveable set of characters from Charley’s Granny Helen, to her best friend, to her flatmate Sam – who was probably one of my favourites. A loveable rogue that wanders around seducing girls and eating nutella locked in his room. What’s not to like? Although each character is a slightly exaggerated version of what you might encounter on your day to day life, there are so many recogniseable elements that it works very well and you can’t help but be charmed. Even the animals are complete characters!
I also would like to applaud Lucy Robinson for her masterly use of the twist! Everytime I read a book in this genre I am hoping, against hope, that I won’t guess the ending, or at least that there’s enough in there to make a happy ending sparkle rather than be a predictable race to the obvious finish line. This ending didn’t just sparkle, it lit up the room. Highly recommended.
10 out of 10 Stars! **********
p.s. I love the BAV! When you’ve read this book, which I highly recommend, you’ll know what I mean!
The blurb: What happened to the girl you left behind?
France, 1916. Sophie Lefevre must keep her family safe whilst her adored husband Edouard fights at the front. When she is ordered to serve the German officers who descend on her hotel each evening, her home becomes riven by fierce tensions. And from the moment the new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie’s portrait – painted by Edouard – a dangerous obsession is born, which will lead Sophie to make a dark and terrible decision.
Almost a century later, and Sophie’s portrait hangs in the home of Liv Halston, a wedding gift from her young husband before he died. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and its troubled history. A history that is about to resurface and turn Liv’s life upside down all over again . . .
In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for what they love most – whatever the cost.
My review: Jojo Moyes has done it again. I didn’t think she’d be able to best Me Before You but I think she has, if it’s possible, I enjoyed this book even more! The beginning of the book threw me, I wasn’t expecting it to be set in the past but it turned out so beautifully that by the end, those were the sections of the book I enjoyed the most. If anything I would like to have spent more time with Sophie and her French village during the occupation. It was an angle I hadn’t seen in fiction before and a welcome, unique touch.
But bringing it back to the present was a way to ground the story and capture readers, it’s an interesting debate about looted art and really made me think and question about whether we own our treasures or whether they merely reside with us on loan from the universe!
All the female characters in this are strong, independent and to be admired and that’s really one thing I admire so much about Moyes books, Liv, Sophie and Mo aren’t capering about like comedy damsels but have real problems, very real if you count the Nazi’s, and have emotions that are not to be taken lightly. I’m so pleased Moyes books have the recognition and the readership they deserve, everyone should read this book!
I have been spoilt for good books lately, a masterful:
9.5 stars out of 10! *********.5
BUY ME! The Girl You Left Behind
The blurb: Sibyl Allston is devastated by the recent deaths of her mother and sister aboard the Titanic. Hoping to heal her wounded heart, she seeks solace in the parlour of a medium who promises to contact her lost loved ones. But Sibyl finds herself drawn into a strange new world where she can never be sure that what she sees or hears is real.
In fear and desperation she turns to psychology professor Benton Derby – despite the unspoken tensions of their shared past… From the opium dens of Boston’s Chinatown to the upscale salons of high society, Sibyl and Benton are drawn into a world of occult magic, of truth and lies, and into a race to understand Sibyl’s own apparent talent for scrying before it is too late. Katherine Howe’s “The House of Velvet and Glass” is a harrowing story of darkness and danger vanquished by the redemptive power of love.
My review: Bit torn here. There were some parts of this book that I completely loved but there was something that just didn’t set me on fire. I think I loved The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane so much that this book was always going to struggle to live up to its older sibling.
This is primarily the story of the Allston family and how the turbulent events of the early twentieth century will mark and change their lives and how they all, in different ways, struggle to have some control over the events unfolding around them.
I cared about the characters especially Sibyl, it’s hard not to. She’s intelligent, but restrained and overlooked, unhappy in a world where many are probably unhappy if they were given the chance to admit it to themselves. The period detail is excellent and I loved the regular snapbacks to the past history of Lannie Allston and the goings on with Eulah on the Titanic.
I was disappointed that there wasn’t more made of the scrying, it seemed to be an add on to make the story come together. Whereas it could’ve been more haunting and generational. But there were times when it nearly made me cry with the heart-breaking storylines of so much tragedy on one family.
For me it needed to be a much tighter book. There were moments when I found myself wanting to leave it and begin another book and I only stuck with it due to my admiration of Howe’s earlier novel. I’m glad I did, the ending is by far the best bit of the book. So a slightly mixed bag from me on this one, take it away with you and let me know what you think!
6.5 out of 10 stars! ******.5
BUY ME! The House of Velvet and Glass
I am Waiting again on Wednesday! This meme is hosted at Breaking the Spine and is based on a book you can’t wait to read that hasn’t been published yet.
So my book for this week is: BORN WICKED
The blurb: Romance, magic and an age-old prophecy – the first novel in a stunning new paranormal young adult series.
Our mother was a witch too, but she hid it better. I miss her. To me, the magic feels like a curse. According to the Brothers, it’s devil-sent. Women who can do magic-they’re either mad or wicked. So I will do everything in my power to protect myself and my sisters. Even if it means giving up my life – and my true love. Because if the Brothers discover our secret, we’re destined for the asylum, or prison . . . or death.
I am missing some good YA Fantasy in my reading life at the moment, so this looks perfect. There’s a trailer too, just to get into the spirit of the book! Sounds good, beautiful cover and I’ve always preferred witches to vampires! Sign me up!
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
Published: 7th February 2013, Penguin
PRE-ORDER ME! Born Wicked
Fantastic review today courtesy of new guest-blogger Sam!
The blurb: It’s Fran’s thirtieth birthday and things are good . . .
She’s bluffed her way into a Very Posh Job and her outlandishly handsome and talented boyfriend Michael is escorting her to the Ritz with a bulge the shape of a ring box in his pocket.
But something has gone wrong. Very wrong. By the end of the evening Fran is howling in bed with a bottle of cheap brandy and one of Michael’s old socks.
In her quest to figure out why her life has suddenly gone down the pan, Fran comes up with a failsafe plan: live like a badger, stalk a stranger called Nellie and cancel her beloved Gin Thursdays in favour of drinking gin every night. But then Fran’s friends force a very different plan on her and it’s nowhere near as fun. How could eight dates possibly make her feel better?
But eventually she agrees. And so begins the greatest love story of all time . . .
Sam’s review: I’m just going to start by saying that I didn’t really have any expectations when I started reading this book. The book is a debut and I actually didn’t do any research on who the author is and what’s she’s about until about 5 minutes ago, I don’t think I even read the author biography. Turns out she works in theatre and television production and then some documentary about internet dating was made about her and she has a blog on Marie Claire. She’s also apparently produced Pramface for the BBC, I haven’t actually seen it but I’ve heard good things about it.
Anyway, back to the book. It’s bloody brilliant. Absolutely laugh out loud can’t put it down (and any other cliché you would like to add in here) brilliant. It’s clever, funny, witty and one of the best chick-lit books I’ve read in a long time…and I do read ‘quite’ a lot. The characters are very well-written; Fran is a bit hopeless and at one point I did think the book was heading in a slightly irritating direction when she engineers a meeting with her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend at a meditation class…but luckily that turned out to be short lived. Another character who is fantastically written is Stefania, Fran’s crazy not-sure-which-bit-of-the-Eastern-Block-she-comes-from next door neighbour. She is probably the one who made me laugh the most, her dialogue was hilarious and some of her mixed metaphors were inspired. The plot wasn’t too contrived and, although I did kind of guess what was going to happen in one aspect of the story, there were a few twists and turns in the final quarter of the book to keep you on your toes and guessing to the end.
I think there’s just one thing that disappoints me about the book, and that’s the cover. It’s a little tame to be honest. For me, this book is where chick-lit is headed, gone are the days of the fluffy books about shopping and handbags and frustrating silly girls who run up mountains of credit card debt; here is a funny, sweary (there is A LOT of colourful language by the way, not for you if you don’t like that sort of thing), contemporary novel and I just think that the cover could reflect that a bit more, it could be a bit more edgy and new. I saw an early proof copy of the book and, even though it was just text, it did reflect the book a bit better as it had a slightly crazy edge to it, compared to that, the finished one is rather sedate. Also, just another quick thing to mention – there’s a book trailer on her website, that too is, well, not the best and I’m not sure it would make me want to read the book.
However, aside from the jacket (which is a little worrying as that’s the reason most people pick up a book in the first place…) and trailer, I literally couldn’t recommend this book highly enough. If you’re a fan of authors such as Jenny Colgan, Sarra Manning or Fiona Neill (Slummy Mummy though, not the new one) then you are in for an absolute treat! Her next one is currently snappily entitled The Book with No Name…Yet, and I for one, can’t wait.
9 out of 10 stars! *********
The blurb: Stella Bradberry and Bella Chambers work at the same high-achieving, high-end London firm. Bella is a pretty, young single mum, but an assistant to men with half her smarts. Stella, a go-getting, multi-tasking mother of two, has a seat on the board firmly in her sights.
But then these two sharp, intelligent women do something rash: they embark on affairs with male colleagues they wouldn’t look twice at outside work. Suddenly, both are telling lies to friends, loved ones and workmates. In the grip of passions they cannot, nor wish to, control, they carelessly break all the rules, sabotaging friendships and careers.
They’ve risked their livelihoods for love. But ending an affair is always harder than beginning one . . .
My review: I am struggling with this book to find something nice to say, the characters are for me almost 100% vile. Bar Bella, who I like but wish had a little more integrity.
Right so from a less passionate point of view. i have read this for our book club and I can see why it’s a seminal book in the women’s fiction genre, it’s clever, intense and causes a strong reaction with almost everyone who reads it. It’s like watching a car crash, you want to look away but you don’t want too but in the end I had too. It was too much. Unlike other books that have that ‘don’t do it’ edge to them, for instance The Mistress’s Revenge where I didn’t dare not watch the events unfold, this book became so distasteful, primarily due to a lack of connection with the characters, that I dreaded having to pick it up. I felt genuinely depressed after every read. The characters dependency on each other was nauseating and I really wanted there to be a strong woman in it, that didn’t feel worthless.
So whilst I can appreciate the cleverness in creating such a strong reaction for me I don’t read to be depressed. There were no glimmers of happiness here.
2 out of 10 stars **
The blurb: Could a secret from 1914 end a century of heartache?
A tiny figure stands at the cliff edge – hair flying in the breeze. Grania Ryan is hypnotised by the enchanting vision, unaware this young girl, Aurora Lisle, will change her life in countless ways. For Grania is suffering and has returned to Ireland and the arms of her loving family, in the hope her wounds might heal.
As their paths begin to entwine, Grania’s mother becomes deeply troubled … because almost a century of entanglement has brought nothing but terrible tragedy to their two families.
The past is set to repeat its sorrows. A suitcase hidden in the attic of a magnificent house in London during the First World War is where it all began, but could it now hold the key to ending the heartbreak that has beset the Lisles and the Ryans for so long?
My review: I start this review with a sinking heart as I never like to discourage readers from books let alone not finish them myself. However the latter definitely applies here.
In the spirit of honesty I only read half of this book. I just couldn’t continue. In my opinion it was poorly written, the Irish dialect came across as cheesey, stereotypes abounded and the storyline was unbelievable. I am probably not the audience for this book, I can see how it would appeal and I’ll end here as the saying goes: ‘If you have nothing good to say…’
3 out of 10 stars ***
BUY ME! The Girl on the Cliff
The blurb: 1786, Jerusalem College, Cambridge.
The ghost of murdered Sylvia Whichcote has been sighted prowling the grounds by Frank Oldershaw, a disturbed fellow commoner. When his anxious mother employs John Holdsworth, author of The Anatomy of Ghosts – a stinging account of why ghosts are mere delusion – to investigate the sighting, the uneasy status quo at Jerusalem is rapidly torn apart.
Holdsworth grows to realise that the sinister Holy Ghost Club governs the privileged life at Jerusalem with a rigour far more effective than anything the Master, Dr Carbury, could muster. And when Holdsworth finds himself haunted – not only by the ghost of his dead wife, Maria, but also Elinor, the very-much-alive Master’s wife – his fate is sealed. He must unravel the circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s death … or the hauntings will continue.
My review: I loooved this book! First a disclaimer, this is an incredibly hard book to read if you have a short commute! It takes me twenty minutes to get to work and I was struggling to get into this book, there are slightly complicated names, many characters (it seems to begin with) and locations so I really recommend taking an hour, or less and really absorbing this book, it requires your full attention and deservedly so!
Andrew Taylor paints a vivid picture of 18th Century Cambridge with the environs and historic buildings of that illustrious university. The characters are well drawn, John Holdsworth especially so and the antics of the Holy Ghost Club are cleverly worked. Two villains roam this piece and although it’s clear who’s to blame from the start there are twists and meanderings that keep you hooked until the last page!
The historical detail in many a book can overwhelm the narrative, not so here, just the right amount to set the tone and flavour of a fantastic historical crime novel. I’ll definitely be reading more of Andrew Taylor!
7.5 out of 10 stars! *******.5
BUY ME! The Anatomy of Ghosts
Whilst browsing the net I happened upon Stuck in a Book, I love book blogs with good recommendations and found the proprietor Stuart had created a cool little meme for bloggers to follow, so here below is my entry!
1.) The Book I’m Currently Reading:
The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor, and I love it! I can’t put it down, I find myself wishing my commute was longer so I could spend more time reading it. Definitely a book you need to devote yourself too but worth it, review on the way!
2.) The Last Book I Finished:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald And you can read the review below!
3.) The Next Book I Want To Read:
The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore I bought this a month ago and it’s sitting next to my bed crying out to be read. I can’t quite believe I haven’t gotten round to this yet, perhaps I’m waiting for a long weekend of nothing to devote to it. Who knows! I know I can’t wait to get started!
4.) The Last Book I Bought:
The Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell about a hour ago on Amazon. I’ve bought a lot of books recently for my approaching holiday and this looks so beautiful. I thought I should finally give in and buy a copy.
5.) The Last Book I Was Given:
The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley, the lovely Helen at Penguin sent me this, I’ve been hearing good things about it from other bloggers so it’s high on my to be read pile!