Last year I read and enjoyed my first ever Amanda Prowse novel, A Little Love. It was a delightful read, and I just loved the book cover! Amanda Prows...moreLast year I read and enjoyed my first ever Amanda Prowse novel, A Little Love. It was a delightful read, and I just loved the book cover! Amanda Prowse is a very lucky lady when it comes to her book covers - they are delightful! So when I spotted her new book cover on Amazon I was delighted! It was even better than the cover for A Little Love, would you believe? It's the twinkly stars that get me. I love twinkly stars, especially when they're bright, in a purple-blue sky. When I got the email asking me if I'd like to review the novel, I was delighted. I haven't read Poppy Day, the prequel to this book, but from reading this book it doesn't really seem to be a necessary endeavour (I like when books stand alone).
I was quite surprised when I learned Amanda Prowse had brought back one of her very first heroines - from the sounds of Poppy Day, Poppy has had quite the adventure, so it's always somewhat of a shock when an author brings back their characters for another go round, especially when they intend to make them ill. Gravely ill. It just made me so sad whilst reading the book - that Poppy, a young mum with two kids, and her husband just returned from Afghanistan are going through yet more trauma. It was quite tough to take; hadn't life already thrown them so much? Didn't they deserve to live out their days, happy as larry? But that was not to be, sadly, and we get to see Poppy start a whole different kind of fight, one that isn't always winnable. What surprised me most was the deterioration. I know cancer is awful, but it just seemed to progress so quickly for Poppy.
One of the brightest parts of the novel is most definitely Poppy and Mart's daughter, Peg. She's cute as a button, brighter and more perceptive than most adults, and wants nothing more than to be register monitor in her class. She's full of questions, desperate to know everything, and she lit the book up. In such hard times, it's nice to have a bit of relief, nice to see some innocence still shining and Peg fit that role perfectly. There's a lot that occurs, in such a short period of time in Will You Remember Me? and it's not all great - I wasn't a fan of Poppy keeping her illness a secret, nor that her husband would be so ignorant as to not pick up on some of the signs of illness, even if he didn't guess what it actually was. We're meant to believe Poppy and Mart have this fabulous relationship, so why wouldn't she tell him about her illness? To have someone to lean on? I didn't get that. It baffled me.
There's one more twist to the novel that I didn't care for, involving Poppy's friend Jo. It seemed as if it had been chucked in, and I hated it. Absolutely hated it. Considering what Poppy's going through, I didn't think she needed that extra hurt. JUST NO. I wish I could have scrubbed those pages from my memory. But, apart from all that, it was a really interesting read - I don't dare say it was 'great' because it wasn't, let's be honest. Poppy goes through something so terrible, so hard to watch, and it was hard to watch her be so ill. I just wanted to close my eyes, and pretend it wasn't happening, and I shed a tear or two towards the end of the novel. But the novel had its bright spots - I quite liked the Epilogue, it was SO cheesy (last chapter of the Deathly Hallows cheesy) but it was quite sweet, too. And I liked the St Lucia link, which was surprising and unexpected, but actually quite awesome. Will You Remember Me? is a sad, but ultimately quite uplifting tale, but tissues will be required, I can promise you that.
An interesting read. I don't read many memoirs, only because it's quite difficult to review something that's somebody's life, but Me After You sounded...moreAn interesting read. I don't read many memoirs, only because it's quite difficult to review something that's somebody's life, but Me After You sounded interesting, and it was a very interesting look into Lucie's life after her husband, Mark's, sudden death.
I wasn't a massive fan of the words "He", "His", etc, being capitalised throughout sentences - it's a very religious thing, that you see whenever God or Jesus is mentioned, and it sort of made me think Mark was in that category too. I always knew who Lucy was talking about, so there was no need for the capitalisation.
I'm very glad I read it, it was a very sad, but interesting read, and very thought-provoking, and I love that Lucie is a Geordie. Geordie's are few and far between in the book world, real or fictional! (less)
Gil McNeil is an author I have always enjoyed! I count The Only Boy For Me as one of my favourite Chick Lit reads of all time, and I've always enjoyed...moreGil McNeil is an author I have always enjoyed! I count The Only Boy For Me as one of my favourite Chick Lit reads of all time, and I've always enjoyed her work. So I was super pleased to see her new novel A Good Year For The Roses on Netgalley - I wasn't sure Gil was writing books any more, so it was a very nice surprise to see she was! I was pre-approved for the title (always a joy to not have that anxious will I be approved or not? wait) so downloaded it to my Kindle straight away and I couldn't wait to get stuck in!
Some of my favourite plots in novels is the whole "starting over" theme, I like the idea of going somewhere new and starting again, somewhere fresh and unknown, and that's the theme of A Good Year For The Roses. Molly Taylor is divorced, isn't a big fan of her job as a teacher, and finds she's having to sell the home she lives in with her three sons, so when her beloved Aunt Helena passes away, and leaves Harrington Hall to Molly, she sees it as the perfect opportunity to start again, in the country! The hall is in need of desperate renovation to get it back to its best, but Molly is more than up for the job, and along with her eccentric Uncle Bertie, and Ivy and Dennis, the couple who tend to the house, Molly soon finds she's got her hands full, and she's not entirely sure she's going to be able to manage it all, but Molly Taylor does not give up on a challenge, and Harrington Hall is more than worthy of that challenge...
Gil McNeil has a very distinctive writing style - her chapters are long (like thirty minutes long) and her dialogue between character lacks the usual "he said, she said" approach, which is actually quite refreshing. We don't really NEED to be told who's speaking at any one time, especially when the dialogue itself lets us know, without any additional knowledge. But, I could have done with shorter chapters. It's hard to take a book to work, to read during your lunch hour when the chapters are so blimming long! There are natural breaks in the chapters, but I felt the chapters could have been shorter, but that's Gil's way! I really enjoyed A Good Year For The Roses, Gil is such a great writer and she manages to make you laugh and be serious, all at the same time. Her novels ALWAYS give me a chuckle, and in this case, the rather amazing Betty, the parrot, provided a lot of laughs and light relief. Bless her. She was a rude parrot, make no mistake, but she was funny. I liked the idea of her learning the ring tone to the telephone and chirping it out at all hours of the day.
A Good Year For The Roses is filled with typically warm, enjoyable characters. I feel Gil McNeil really excels with her character writing, she always makes you care, and I loved Molly, and her kids. As well as all the surrounding characters - Bertie, Ivy and Dennis, they all brought Harrington to life and it was so lovely to see the Hall restored to its former glory, and brought back to life by Molly and everyone. It was such a wonderful, warm read and it's so great to see Gil McNeil writing novels again! I've always enjoyed her novels, and here's hoping for many more in the future! A Good Year For The Roses was such an enjoyable read, and Gil's many fans will love it just as much as I did!
As soon as I heard about Tracy Buchanan's debut novel The Atlas Of Us, I was desperate to read it! I thought it sounded like one of the most wonderful...moreAs soon as I heard about Tracy Buchanan's debut novel The Atlas Of Us, I was desperate to read it! I thought it sounded like one of the most wonderful sounding novels, set during a time that's pretty hard to forget - the Boxing Day Tsunami in Thailand in 2004. I was super excited to take part in the cover reveal a couple of months ago - a rather stunning affair, which I presume must be an image of Thailand itself, featuring a boat, and tea lights floating in the sea and lots of different colours contrasting the darkening sky. There's a really inspiring letter in the front of the novel, from the Editorial Director of Avon, who have published the book and it promises a lot from the novel! There's a lot of build-up, a lot of promise that this is going to be a MASSIVE release in 2014, and I couldn't wait to dive in and see for myself if that was correct.
The Atlas Of Us is one of those multi-layered novels that surprises you the more you read - the premise itself sounds simple enough - a girl, Louise, heads out to Thailand days after the Tsunami hoping to find her mum, but what she finds instead is a dead body, said to be that of a journalist called Claire Shreve, but which seems to hold Louise's mum Nora's passport, along with a book named The Atlas of Us, filled with notes, and pictures, and drawings. Louise has no idea why this woman had her mum's bag, or why her mum had Claire's atlas, and she sets off on a mission around to Thailand to uncover her mum's last few days, before the tsunami struck, and to hopefully find her mum in the process. Whilst simultaneously, we learn the story of Claire, back in the late 90s and early 2000s, as she deals with learning she's infertile, and the impact that has on her marriage, along with her career as a travel journalist, which brings the mysterious Milo James into her life, he of the James clan, who people say are just a little bit mad... As we learn more of Claire's story, and as Louise's search for her mother continues, will we find out just what bound Nora and Claire together, and why they each had the other's belongings...
Going into The Atlas of Us, I expected just a simple enough story of a girl trying to find her mum, I did not expect the addition of Claire's story, which was a really, really great addition, and really added a whole other experience to the story! It was magnificent, I completely lapped up the whole book in one sitting, finding it to be one of the most fascinating, gripping books I've read so far this year! It was WAY more complicated that I expected, but in the best possible way, like I was unwrapping the most delicious story ever, and just when I thought I had it all figured out, bam!, out popped another strand, another secret, another lie exposed. It all weaved into one delicious story, and it's just my favourite type of book! I absolutely adore books where two separate storylines seem to be so far apart from each other, but as you read on, you realise perhaps they are linked, and it all just becomes one big race to discover the truth. These types of stories make my heart sing, because I love the coming together aspect of two stories, merging into one. Louise's story is a fairly simple one, and we don't spend as much time with her as I thought we would (I thought she would narrate the whole thing, actually) but it was nice to go back to her time and again to see how she was getting on in her search, along with Sam, her helper!
It's actually Claire's story that's the crux of the matter here - the one with the payoff, with the secrets and lies, and the one that needs unravelling. It's super, super interesting. At first I thought it a simple story where Claire meets Milo and they live happily ever after, but there's soooooo much more to it than that, and you'll have to read the book for all the heartbreaking deliciousness of Claire's story. What I liked best of all whilst reading The Atlas of Us was all the amazing sights! Thailand, which sounds like such a beautiful place to visit, destroyed by a wave; war-torn Serbia; snow-filled Finland; Dubai; Australia; San Francisco... Claire's a travel journalist and her life has always been about the travel, and she's spent time in some pretty amazing places, and I lapped up all the delightful journies! At times, I felt I was right there along with Claire, and Milo and Holly at times, Milo and Holly are two of the greatest charactes I think I've ever read - both so complicated, and haunted. The novel is filled with wonderful characters from Filipe in Finland, to Sam in Thailand, they all added a little something, and but it's definitely Claire and Louise who push the novel forward, each and every time.
My absolute favourite part of the novel was probably Claire's atlas. I love the idea, of an atlas filled with all your memories from travelling the globe. It's so whimsical, so fun, and it was such a thoughtful gift for Milo to give Claire, and Milo was such a hard character to read, and it was at times like that when you just wanted to sigh and forgive him everything. I would love something similar, like a book atlas (but not an atlas) to keep mementoes on my book journey! The Atlas of Us promised me the world and it very much delivered. I was sucked into Claire and Louise's journey, and I was desperately flipping the pages, because I just wanted to see how it would all turn out in the end. I can see why this book is being raved about at Avon, they have picked a star, and Buchanan is a massively talented writer, she knows what she's writing about, her travel writing is beautiful and she easily flits from first-person to third-person narrative with ease. The letter at the front of the book very much does it justice - it is warm, captivating, hard to put down, and sad and happy all at the same time and I could not recommend it more. I loved it, and I hope that if you read it, you love it, too!
When I was offered the opportunity to take part in Andrew Clover's blog tour for his second novel, I said yes! It seemed like a vastly different novel...moreWhen I was offered the opportunity to take part in Andrew Clover's blog tour for his second novel, I said yes! It seemed like a vastly different novel to his debut, which I couldn't for the life of me get in to, so I was quite interested to see how he handled a novel that would see his main character have a car crash and wake up back in her university days. I love novels like that - they're super interesting, they allow for changes to be made, and the potential for life in the future to be altered, and I was ever so curious about the comparisons to JoJo Moyes, whom I adore. It was an interesting novel, but not one I would rave about, I must admit.
What I liked about The Things I'd Miss was the fact that, at the beginning, we're introduced to Lucy, and her husband and her kids, and we can see that her life isn't perhaps how she had planned it to be - 5am wake-up calls (that would end in MURDER in my house, fyi), fights about anything and everything, and kids who barely give you the peace and quiet Lucy so craves. Then, when the accident occurs, the novel hops around, from place to place - Lucy in Uni, Lucy as a kid, back and forth we go, with no linear storytelling, until a mystical being appears, and Lucy ends up back as a kid, and works her way back to her Uni days, and back to Hugh, whom she professes to love. If I'm honest, I preferred the hopping back and forth, to times in Lucy's life that seemed to define her as a person, I liked the zig-zag pulled from one place to another feel, because once the story settled into its Hugh/Lucy love-fest, I didn't find it as compelling.
Lucy's Uni days are certainly interesting, and I loved getting to know Hugh, Simon, Lucy herself, and her best friend Gemma, but what I couldn't understand was why, if Lucy liked Hugh as much as she says she does, why she didn't say anything! Wouldn't you just have told him, all those years ago? It's clear there's mutual feelings between the two of them, but for some reason or another, neither of them confessed to it, until Lucy ended up revisiting her memories after her crash. If you're going to write a novel about a great, Romeo-and-Juliet-type romance, there needs to be solid ground, and while I felt their connection, it seemed entirely pointless considering the fact they'd both stayed completely silent, and they were just friends for as long as they knew each other. I wanted more honesty! But, of course, if there had been honesty, and they had confessed their feelings, there would have, perhaps, been no book.
Overall, it was an interesting read. I wouldn't go so far as to compare it to a JoJo Moyes read, especially as, at times, I found the narrative quite jarring - too many exclamation marks and italicised writing, Lucy's mum talks to 5-year-old Lucy in the most awful, excruciating way, and 5-year-old Lucy talks and thinks like, well, not a 5-year-old. I also STRONGLY oppose the fact Clover made Kipper the dog go in the car with Lucy, when she crashed. That's just plain mean. But the pace wasn't too bad, and the novel skipped along quite well, it wasn't the perfect read, but it was enjoyable and I actually liked seeing Simon's progression the most - he's rather left out, when it comes to Hugh and Lucy, and yet he's always there, always present, and he's a sneaky bugger, which I liked. The Things I'd Miss is definitely a thinker, and there was a lot I liked about the novel and I do love a good going-back-in-time novel!
WIN! To win yourself a copy of The Things I'd miss, see the Rafflecopter giveaway below! :)
Interesting novel, interesting subject, but a bit too slow for my liking. Glad I read it, for the pulse-pounding ending, but the build up to it was to...moreInteresting novel, interesting subject, but a bit too slow for my liking. Glad I read it, for the pulse-pounding ending, but the build up to it was too slow and I guessed what was going on before it was officially announced. With more pace I would have liked it, but I only finished it to see what happened...(less)
I was very excited to have the opportunity to read and review EXPECTING by Ann Lewis Hamilton, but overall I was disappointed with the novel. It start...moreI was very excited to have the opportunity to read and review EXPECTING by Ann Lewis Hamilton, but overall I was disappointed with the novel. It started very well, but I soon got lost in all the baby making talk. I can very much appreciate what Laurie and Alan go through, it's just not my kinda thing, as it's not something I have experience with.
I expected a somewhat light-hearted, entertaining read, but it wasn't that at all. I found the third-person, present-tense narrative jarring and the characters spent more time dreaming up scenarios than having actual scenarios play out on the pages. I also wasn't a massive fan of the quick, jarring paragraphs. The scenes in the novel should have been better presented, instead of the quick-fire rapid way which didn't really allow me to get into the scenes, as just as one scene started, it was over and we were onto the next "bit".
EXPECTING just wasn't my kind of novel. I won't be reviewing it on my blog, but I wanted to provide a little bit of feedback.(less)