Have you ever had friends that fancy each other rotten but won’t do anything about getting together? Jamie and Zarmina are a bit like that, but withou...moreHave you ever had friends that fancy each other rotten but won’t do anything about getting together? Jamie and Zarmina are a bit like that, but without the teenage ‘I’m too shy’ or the insecure person’s ‘What if he doesn’t fancy me?’ excuses. They are both confident, and well-off (which matters in their milieu), and well aware that the other at least finds them intriguing. But, thanks to their past histories, Jamie doesn’t trust women and Zarmina is afraid of marriage. In spite of their instant mutual attraction, and their being thrown together – literally in some cases – as a consequence of step-son William’s attempt to outwit the powerful local bully, it takes a long time for them to accept they belong with each other. I’ve read a lot of books where the soul-searching this involves is repetitive and dull, where the one step back after two steps forward is the result of capriciousness or, at best, guilt, but this is not one of them. In part this is because we learn each detail of their history as and when it affects their actions and decisions – the backstories, or at least the emotional aspects of them – are not shoe-horned in just anywhere but are an integral part of the way we get to know the two main characters and the people important to them. It’s also because what happens to them doesn’t just mean they have to spend time together, or get a chance to show themselves at their best, but also because they are forced to be vulnerable and to depend on each other – a far more psychologically satisfying reason for such a change of heart than recognising that he’s pretty tough and she’s a shrewd businesswoman. Net result was that over 80% of the way through the book, they were still shilly-shallying around but I didn’t want to bang their heads together.
But what about the action? As well as finding each other, the lovers reveal the mastermind behind the theft of the talisman, vanquish his minions and become reconciled with their families. They are helped by Jamie’s mentor, Akash, and his family; the wronged Rajah; and, most entertainingly, by Roshani and Kutaro – but if you want to find out who they are you’ll have to read the book. Oh, and there are pirates and desert islands too!
It’s set in 18th century India – mostly Surat – and the descriptions of the city and the relationships between the local people and European merchants didn’t jar with all the other stuff (fiction and non-fiction) I’ve read about this place and time. Much of the dialogue is noticeably modern – by which I mean that it’s gone beyond stripping out the circumlocutions and archaic vocabulary to include newer idioms and ways of thinking too: think Suzannah Dunn rather than Philippa Gregory or Georgette Heyer. I can live with anachronistic words, even concepts (although not things) but I know it annoys some. I was, however, irritated by the expository descriptions of words such as mosque, kedgeree and howdah: things that, even if they are not familiar to us, are to the characters. Explaining what they are, rather than letting the reader work out (if they need to), for example, that kedgeree is some sort of food, not only slows things down but feels rather patronising. But this, and the odd info-dump (“my brother Sanjiv who, as you know, lives only a couple of streets away”) were my only gripes.
I had wondered how I would cope with it being Book 3 in a series when I’ve not read either Book 1 or Book 2, but I'd no need to worry. Monsoon Mists definitely works as a stand-alone novel because it focusses on the adventures of one member of the family and puts him in a place apart for most of the story. Of course, I now want to read Highland Storms to get Jamie’s bother’s view of what happened in Sweden and I’ve no doubt that that will, in turn, take me back to Trade Winds. In other words, an enjoyable historical romance from a new-to-me author that I will read again.
Review hidden, not for spoilers (I didn't finish it) but because it isn't particularly kind, but I wanted to give an honest opinion. Also,...moreDNFed at 35%
Review hidden, not for spoilers (I didn't finish it) but because it isn't particularly kind, but I wanted to give an honest opinion. Also, it pains me to write this stuff because Portia is SUCH a great writer, and such a lovely author, but I have to be honest.
(view spoiler)[I just couldn't get on with the book. I liked Mia's voice, she's a great narrator, but she's wildly childish for a 29-year-old (proclaiming she was the "starter" child compared to her sister Belle, which makes her sound bitter). The whole entire premise to me didn't make sense - if Mia Valentina is this kick-ass heroine who couldn't care less what anyone things of her... Why is she rocking up in Cornwall for her sister's wedding? She just wouldn't have gone, if she was as blase as she says.
And the whole "my family hate me" plot line drove me round the bend. Because we don't know WHY her mum, her sister, her Aunt & her Grandma hate her, except she used to be fat and her sister Belle is the one they all adore. *SHRUGS* What are you going to do with logic like that, eh? No parent or relative would act the way they act to Mia; maybe I could understand if it was just her Aunt, but her mum and grandma and sister, too? Over the top. And the creepy Uncle? Disgusting.
Her sister's persistence in screaming "YOU'VE RUINED MY WEDDING" was also mildly confusing. If you think your sister's a good for nothing scoundrel, desperate to ruin your big day.. WHY WOULD YOU INVITE HER? You wouldn't. But Belle did, and then spends all the novel I read up to whinging and crying that Mia is ruining everything. And then the cherry on the cake is Mia gets caught giving her sister's fiance a hand job. That's when I gave up, because there's farcical (think Bridesmaids the movie) and then there's Bad Bridesmaid which is just... too much. It's like Bridesmaids the movie on steroids and it doesn't make it better.
I wish I had liked it more, or been able to get over how self-absorbed Mia is, because there's a part of me that sees where she was coming from, but there was too much artificial hate swilling around the place, and too many ridiculous incidents that just HAD to be her fault, and I sadly just couldn't get on with the novel. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Shayla’s story starts with frustration. She doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere in her job as an assistant editor and her agent, Brenda, has not only...moreShayla’s story starts with frustration. She doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere in her job as an assistant editor and her agent, Brenda, has not only rejected her proposal for an innovative book, but is also refusing to give her the chance to work with a notoriously difficult client who has already seen off several ghost writers. To cap it all, her capable and confident flatmate, Maggie, now has a book deal as well as a fiancé. Could things be worse? Well yes, actually. She ends up fired. Her only chance is to persuade publicity-shy Tom O’Grady to work with her on a new book. How does she have that chance? Why does she end up flying out to Ireland before any such thing is agreed? And how on earth does she end up working incognita and unpaid at Castle Stone? It’s all rather complicated even before she meets Tom and finds herself falling in love with him, his family and his country.
So there’s plenty of incident in a complex plot that explores relationships between parents and children, the impact tradition and the publicity have on peoples’ lives, and the realities of publishing non-fiction in New York while we follow the inevitably tortuous progress of our heroine to the arms of our hero. Some of those incidents are touching, some mysterious and many hilarious (particularly the awards ceremony near the end), but none is completely incidental or irrelevant to the main thread of the story — even a ‘borrowed’ pashmina has significance. Plenty therefore to keep the reader turning the pages and wondering what will happen next.
Tom and Shayla have both been shaped by their past in ways that are made clear as the book goes on, but there were little bits of each I couldn’t understand and that stopped me warming to them. For example, I wasn’t really sure where Tom’s traditionalist attitude towards Tony came from and it seemed odd that Shayla-as-Sheila worried about Tom’s response to events (such as the sudden appearance of rapscallion Des) but had no qualms about stealing recipes or, until towards the end, doubts about how he would respond to discovering just how fundamentally she had lied. However, he was suitably handsome, talented, brooding and forgiving, and she grew in understanding of herself and what she wanted from life, helping others to be happy along the way, just as a hero and heroine should.
Only last week, I read another book about Americans in Ireland – which shall remain nameless for reasons which will become clear – and was constantly annoyed by the simplistic view it had of rural Ireland, and the Irish characters’ use of American English mixed with the odd (sometimes misplaced) dialect word. Lynn Marie Hulsman, on the other hand, demonstrates that assumptions about the country are not necessarily well-founded (go Grainne!) and, while she does use ‘Irishisms’ in her dialogue, she is also aware of the word order of Irish English so she doesn’t have to over-use particular words to differentiate between her Irish and American characters.
Rating this book is difficult. I know it is good — it does everything right, it made me laugh, there were no long introspective passages to slow things down, the minor characters are great (I especially liked Tony and Maeve) — and I did enjoy the story. But, while I sympathised with Shayla’s troubles and understood Tom’s guardedness, my inability to warm to them stops me being quite as enthusiastic as I might otherwise be. But that may be just me, so I’d certainly suggest you read it and decide for yourself.
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes has been on my to-read list since it came out. It's been sititng on my shelf, waiting for me to pick it up, but it's taken...moreMe Before You by JoJo Moyes has been on my to-read list since it came out. It's been sititng on my shelf, waiting for me to pick it up, but it's taken me a while. This book has been a phenomenal success, it has over 3,000 reviews on Amazon UK and most of those are positive. Critics loved it, it's sold billions of copies, it probably has a film in the works and it has brought JoJo to the front of everyone's minds. Her author level has gone stratospheric! That's a lot of pressure to heap onto one book so I've always stayed clear. But, you can only steer clear of a great novel for so long and eventually you cave and read it. I knew exactly what I was getting in to when I started Me Before You, but I didn't care, I just wanted to experience the magical novel everyone else has already read and discussed, and it was amazing.
Every so often a book comes along that truly blows you away, that's so well written, you can't believe you've just read a 450 page book in just one day, and Me Before You is that book. It's special. So special that, despite the fact I knew pretty much the bare bones of the novel before I started it, it didn't really matter. Because I just knew I was in for a stunning read, and it was. When Lou and Will are brought together, in the most awful of circumstances, Will after a motorcycle accident leaves him quadreplegic, and Lou after losing her job, it almost seems too good to be true when the man at the job center tells Lou there's a position available, to be Will's carer and the pay will more than help her parents stay afloat of their bills and stuff. She wonders what the catch is, why Will's mother Camille hired her to look after Will instead of someone with way more caring experience, but it's not the caring that Will needs, it's the bright, bold Lou, to brighten up his days, and perhaps show him that despite his accident, there can be a way to live with his 'now' life.
After I had read Cecelia Ahern's new novel How To Fall In Love, I was asked if it was very similar to Me Before You. I had no idea, of course, because I hadn't read Me Before You. Now that I have, I can say that yes, they are similar. They are both about showing someone who doesn't want to live that there is a life out there for you. Though, they're in very different ways. Adam in How To Fall In Love, isn't disabled. Will is. That's a different kettle of fish right off the bat, but the simple premise of both novels is inherently similar, done in very differnt ways by two very different writers. Both books blew me away, both books amazed me in different ways. Inevitable comparisons will be made, but I just say: Enjoy both books for what they are because they are both really, really special.
Me Before You was just amazing, the whole entirely book just captivated me from the start. Lou was such a lovely, vibrant character and I so adored the way she dressed, and wished I could be more like her. I loved her enthusiasm, and felt quite sad that she had ended up staying stuck in the town she grew up in, because she was like a big fish in a little pond. Despite Will's well-deserved bitterness about his situation, I loved him too. I loved how he let Lou win him around and came back to life, a bit more, page after page. How, soon, it was him telling Lou he wanted to go out and not the other way around, that gave me hope. It made me smile. I loved his and Lou's relationship because she just talked to him like a normal person, not like he was an invalid or a nuisance, not that he was to be pitied. She gave him stick and he gave stick right back and it was beautiful. The book does feature other characters - and I really liked Lou's family, with the exception of her sister Treena, who I found to be quite a selfish girl. I didn't care for Patrick, Lou's boyfriend, either. But, really, it's Lou and Will and their interactions that make this book so flipping readable.
Jojo Moyes is a wonderful storyteller. Truly gifted, and she has many books to her name, and it's going to be a joy for me to discover all of her other, fantastic I'm sure, novels. The one thing I knew for absolute certain when I started this book was that it was going to break my heart. Because it broke everybody else's and that one little spoiler assured me of what I suspected all along. I knew the ending, I knew how it was all going to go down and that thought depressed me on and off throughout the novel; why continue to read a book when I know I am not going to get my happy ever after I always love to get? But, some books are worth the pain and the heartache and this is one of them, especially when it's done so beautifully. It made me cry. Not as bad as some books have this year, but it made me cry nevertheless. I did feel heartbroken inside. On the other hand, if I found myself in a similar situation to Will, I'd be on his side every day of the week, so I could also understand it. This was an amazing novel, that blew me away in every which way. I adored it, I devoured it, and it made me laugh and broke my heart all at the same time, something a good book should always do and I can see why Me Before You has over 3,000 reviews on Amazon, because it's THAT good and it really does get you talking.This review was originally posted on Girls Love To Read(less)
When I spotted All We Had on Netgalley, I was entranced by the cover! It's just so pretty (and such a shame that my Kindle a) doesn't show covers and...moreWhen I spotted All We Had on Netgalley, I was entranced by the cover! It's just so pretty (and such a shame that my Kindle a) doesn't show covers and b) is not a colour-Kindle) with the blue sky filled with stars, and the diner glowing, inviting people in. It's what made me request the book if I'm honest, because generally, when I read a book with a synopsis like this one, it's generally something I find I don't like as much as I want to. It's too literary for me. Too long-winded, too slow-moving. But the cover won me over, so I requested the novel and I was accepted a short while later, and I couldn't wait to get stuck in.
All We Had is a very simple novel, Ruthie and her mom Rita, spend more time homeless than they do living in a home, and they do whatever it takes to get food in their bellies, and a roof over their heads. But after one dour relationship too many, Rita decides she and Ruthie will head for Boston, it's where they're going to end up anyway, because Ruthie is destined for Harvard, with her quick wit and massive smarts. But they end up in Fat River, in New York, instead. And for the first time in a long time, they start to put down roots and Fat River starts to feel like home. The folks at the Diner become like family, and Ruthie thinks that perhaps they'll be able to stay here forever, but Ruthie and Rita don't have that kind of luck, so what will happen when they find themselves drowning financially once again?
All We Had is one of those bittersweet novels, that you read with a lump in your throat. The love and bond that Ruthie and her mom Rita share, is extraordinary. Sure, many people are close to their mom, or their dad, but Ruthie and Rita's relationship is something else. They need each other. Ruthie without Rita, or vice-versa, would be so wrong, like one of them is missing half their body. They've been through so much together - awful things, things that made me shudder and things that made me think Ruthie may have been better off elsewhere, but, actually, Rita did a pretty awesome job of making sure her daughter was never hurt, and even though their life isn't perfect, it is what it is and because they have each other it's infinitely better. I would love to have that type of bond with another person. I love my parents, but the closeness of being homeless, of living in a car, of sleeping together in the same bed, limbs entwined, is different. And it was super special.
I'm also a sucker for novels where strangers happily welcome in new members to their little fold, and Arlene, Mel, and Peter Pam were delightful additions to the novel, welcoming Ruthie and Rita into their strange little life at Tiny's. I always find it so comforting to know the kindness of certain strangers. It was such a fascinating novel, and Ruthie's narrative made it all the better. She's such a grown up for such a young girl, and her voice was bright, clear and loud and her wit and humour were second-to-none. Annie Weatherwas has written such a tender, delightful novel, and I am so glad it had such a pretty cover that I couldn't resist requesting it. It was, sadly, a novel that was probably never going to end well, but it was satisfactory, and proved the world over, that Rita would do anything to help Ruthie succeed and try and become President one day (I would totally vote Ruthie for president, just sayin', if I were American and able to vote and all that jazz).
Rowan Coleman is one of my favourite authors so when I saw she was re-releasing her short story Woman Walks Into A Bar I was super pleased, especially...moreRowan Coleman is one of my favourite authors so when I saw she was re-releasing her short story Woman Walks Into A Bar I was super pleased, especially since she said that all royalties would be donated to charity - a girl after my own heart! I actually already had a review copy, but I of course purchased a copy, too, to make sure my money would go to the charity. I couldn't wait to get stuck in, as you can't beat a good novella.
When Sam's friends tell her they've set her up on a blind date for their Friday Night girls night out, Sam is understandably wary, her friends Marie and Joy don't have the greatest taste in men, Joy in particular, but Sam agrees nevertheless. She feels like the time is right and she's finally ready to move on from her last, awful relationship nine years ago. Sam hopes with all her might that her date will be with the tasty bartender Brendan at her local. Sam is ready to move on, to date, but have her friends set her up with someone with relationship potential or will it be a disaster?
While Woman Walks Into A Bar might seem like a light, sweet, easygoing novella it does actually have a stronger message in the undertones, as we soon find out. Sam's hardly had the best life growing up - bullied at school (which is the worst thing a person can go through, ever) and then her last relationship was a nightmare, and all I wanted was to see Sam happy and settled, because if anybody deserved a bit of happiness it was Sam. I really enjoyed Woman Walks Into A Bar, it was substantial and it took me about half an hour to read, which is a nice length for novellas. I enjoyed getting to know Sam and her daughter Beth. A thoroughly enjoyable read with a really strong message!
For those who regularly read the site you'll know by now that I love the New Adult genre, and I adore the fact that it has brought me some fantastic n...moreFor those who regularly read the site you'll know by now that I love the New Adult genre, and I adore the fact that it has brought me some fantastic new authors to enjoy and read! Cassia Leo is an author who I know is very popular on the NA scene, and so when I spotted her Shattered Hearts trilogy on Netgalley, I downloaded all three immediately, although I have yet to read them so when I was offered the chance to take part in Cassia's blog tour for the UK publication of her new book Black Box, I was very excited. It sounded like a fantastic novel and I liked the idea of fate being a major player in the book, I quite like the idea of fate, although I'm not always so sure I believe in it and I was very excited to see how Mikki and Crush's paths had intertwined so many times.
Black Box is a novel that I mostly loved. It was beautiful, filled with many, many quotable quotes, if I was the type to deface my book with a highlighter, and stop reading to make note of them all, but I'm not, so you'll have to trust me on this. It's a dark novel, dealing with bi-polar disorders, feelings of suicide, rape, think of any bad thing a person can go through and Mikki and Crush have gone through it, and although the novel is tough to read because of its subject matter, it's also kinda hopeful because Mikki and Crush find each other, and that was awesome. I love to read about two messed up people, who have inadvertently saved each other over the years. It just makes me ridiculously happy for some reason, mostly because I like the fate thing - I liked that Mikki and Crush didn't just meet at the airport, the day they were both supposed to fly to LA, it went back further than that and I liked how it was unravelled.
On the other hand, the novel is wildly unrealistic. WILDLY. It's inferred to us that Crush killed two people (one can be explained and was explained) but the other was cold-blooded (whatever the circumstances were - Crush killed a person, and the city of Boston WASN'T BOTHERED ENOUGH TO INVESTIGAGE? Unlikely. I don't care the reasons behind Crush doing what he did - heroic, absolutely, but murder is murder and it almost seemed unreal when it was relayed back to us because there was so little reaction to the fact he killed a man. I also wished for more from the whole "Black Box" deal. It was an interesting concept, and I enjoyed the Black Box tale, but I wanted more from the actual black box, I sort of felt like it was rushed and the whole thing was just over with before the novel was half done, which was disappointing. It was this big, mysterious, awesome thing that had helped both Mikki and Crush at various points in their life and then it was just over. :(
If you dig too deep you could probably find a lot wrong with Black Box, but I took it for what it was and I rather let all the nonsensical, too-good-to-be-true stuff slide because it made for a better story. So what if there were no repercussions for what Crush did, or that there were too many instances of fate, when there was an awesome love story unfurling between two characters who deserved nothing better than to find each other?! I read books for enjoyment, not to tear them apart and it's the work of a great writer when things that might usually bother me, don't. I've learnt to just go with the flow when I'm reading and I just loved Mikki and Crush's story. It's not all butterflies and flowers and pie-in-the-sky happiness, but I liked that meeting Crush forced Mikki to perhaps re-think what she wanted with her life, to live, and that was beautiful. I loved Black Box, sure it wasn't perfect, but I loved getting to know Mikki and Crush and barely put the book down once I'd started it!
Rainbow Rowell is an author I very much admire, and very much enjoy. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who dislikes Rainbow's novels becau...moreRainbow Rowell is an author I very much admire, and very much enjoy. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who dislikes Rainbow's novels because they're that far-reaching and that awesome. She writes books that anyone can enjoy - Chick Lit, Young Adult, somewhere in-between, so I was very, very excited to hear about her new novel Landline. I thought it sounded fantastic. I love novels with magical concepts, and I just adore the idea of being able to talk to somebody via a magical yellow telephone, in the past. It's CRAZY, but it's awesome. I get a kick out of magical elements like that, they're the best. So I was very intrigued to see if Rainbow could pull it off...
First off let me say that Rainbow is such an awesome writer - of that there is no doubt. And Landline is written superbly, but for me, I felt like every day leading up to Christmas Day was the same for Georgie. The whole reason she didn't go to Omaha for Christmas was so she could work, but she actually spends the days moping, crying, and not doing any work and every day's like Groundhog Day because she does the same thing - she goes to stay at her Mother's, she sleeps in really late, and when she does show up at work she doesn't do anything. I got a little tired of her refusing to talk to anyone, it was quite annoying, and I just wanted her to pull herself together, to be less of a sad sack. I understand she was going through a rough time, but I just felt she needed to be a bit more in control, and I could understand why (eventually) Seth got exasperated with her; if she was so worried about her marriage, she would have got on a plane to Omaha tout-de-suite.
A lot of the reviews I've read mention how Neal irritated them, which made me kind of sad. Looking at it from his perspective, I can see why he was so frustrated all of the time, and it was a classic case of Georgie and Neal needing to talk to each other. If they just talked to each other, were a bit more honest, understood that marriage is a compromise sometimes, they might not have ended up where they did. I quite liked Neal, especially the young Neal we get to know, maybe he's not stereo-typically happy-go-lucky, maybe he doesn't know what he wants from his life, but I got him. I don't know what I want to do with my life and the thing I'm doing (working at a supermarket) sucks, just like his oceanography studies. The best part of the novel for me was definitely the whole Georgie-talking-to-Neal-in-the-past. That was ace. That let us peek into their lives before kids, before marriage, before work and frustrations and all of that seeped into their every day lives and when Georgie and Neal were just falling in love, and trying to make their relationship work.
I probably would have liked Landline to have had an Epilogue. I'm a sucker for knowing what comes next, and considering we spent so long with Georgie, Seth and Scotty working on their show, I would have liked to have seen whether it had taken off (or not). But it was a great, solid read. There were times when I definitely loved Georgie (and times when I didn't) and I just felt so sad that two people who seemed so perfect for each other (although a teensy, tiny bit of me liked the idea of Georgie & Seth) were struggling so hard to keep the love alive, to keep their marriage kicking. Rainbow Rowell is a writer who I will always read, whose books I'll pre-order months in advance and although I probably loved Attachments more, Landline was a solid read, and it made me laugh a couple of times, too, and there was just something ridiculously sweet about the fact Georgie's little girl Noomi spent a lot of her time meowing. It was way, way too cute.
If there's any Young Adult novel that seems to have a lot of hype around it, it is Adi Alsaid's novel Let's Get Lost. All I've seen about this novel h...moreIf there's any Young Adult novel that seems to have a lot of hype around it, it is Adi Alsaid's novel Let's Get Lost. All I've seen about this novel has been good stuff, so when it popped up on Netgalley, I decided to download myself a copy and see what all the fuss is about. I really, really enjoy road trip novels. They make me envious, because I long to do what Leila does - just take off on a road trip, to see the Northern Lights (which sound SO beautiful, and the story she tells about them to young Dee is awesome) or just to see anything, really. To get in your car, and drive to any given destination, without having to really worry about life, or your job, or anything like that, is something I wish I had the guts to do! (A driving license would also help...)
Let's Get Lost is a super interesting read. It's like four short stories, all bound up by this one girl, Leila. She's the force that holds all of the stories together, and she's always in the right place, at the right time, with the right dose of optimism and belief to help whomever is in need of helping. It's great. The four different stories include Hudson, Sonia, Bree and Elliott, who all need a Leila intervention for one reason or another, and she helps them with whatever they need, and leaves them with a much brighter future than they anticipated. It takes quite a special girl to do all that, and I sort of wish we'd got to know her better. As much as I loved getting to know Hudson, Sonia, Bree and Elliott, Leila remains an enigma for much of the novel, more interested in helping others than helping herself (which is no bad thing!), but I wanted to know more about this young girl, who was traversing across America to see the Northern Lights, picking up strangers with her red, red car.
I enjoyed the writing approach to Let's Get Lost. I wasn't sure at first how the novel would play out, but each of the stories are like their own mini version, held together by Leila. My favourite was probably Bree's. Because it was just ridiculously fun and slightly insane. I absolutely LOVED Bree's idea to "Seize the Tuesday", too, and she did - with Leila right alongside her, and they got into some crazy situations and it was almost unreal at times, but Bree and Leila just had this awesome instant bond that I adored. Although, Leila could bond with a stick of rock, just sayin'. She's that kinda girl. What really stood out for all the stories, though, was Leila's optimism. Yes, they're about helping the person we're reading about - Hudson getting to his interview, Bree to keep running away, Elliott to get the girl and Sonia to deliver the wedding rings, but Leila does it in such an easy, likeable way that you can't help but love her. Her speeches to Elliott about their situation being rom-com like was amazing, especially since I adore rom-coms and it's all about getting the girl or guy.
Adi Alsaid has written such an interesting, enjoyable, warm novel. You warm to the characters instantly, and you end up feeling so grateful that Leila was in the right place, at the right time. I would have perhaps liked a bit more of an ending - considering the way the novel goes, I think Leila deserved better than what I read. I'm a sucker for happy endings, and this one needed just a teensy bit more build-up, a bit more... action. It's totally the road I wanted it to go on, mind, but I just needed a teensy bit more to convince me this was it. But apart from that it was a superb road-trip novel. So enjoyable, so fun, with one of the most unforgettable characters I'll probably ever meet. I am sorely tempted to go outside and raise some trouble, in the hope that a girl in a red car, with a red interior, might just be moseying on by. If you could bottle and sell Leila, she would sell out in seconds. I loved Let's Get Lost, it allowed me, as a reader, to just lose myself in the words and the enjoyable characters for a few hours, and that is priceless.
Paris doesn’t turn out quite as Gemma expected. She’s barely arrived before she realises she’s being followed, and she spends her first weekend fighti...moreParis doesn’t turn out quite as Gemma expected. She’s barely arrived before she realises she’s being followed, and she spends her first weekend fighting dirty instead of enjoying the delights of the city with Edward. But it’s not what it seems — she finds herself recruited by secret service agent Joe to investigate a plot that may result in the death of a pair of royal visitors. Of course, she can’t tell anyone, so her relationship with Edward becomes rather strained, especially when actress Monique comes along and seems to be a much more suitable match for him. Things get even more tangled when she meets Blade — he’s French and gorgeous and she’s besotted … but Joe refuses to believe he can be trusted and threatens to spoil everything. As Gemma gets to know her new colleagues in the restaurant she realises they are not all they seem, but she doesn’t think any of them could want to kill an heir to the British throne. And they aren’t the only people who are being misread so, although the bad guys get their come-uppance and everything works out for the good guys, that doesn’t mean that what Gemma — or you — thinks is going on is the whole story.
This is the second book in the Doubting Abbey series and, although I realised that pretty soon after starting, not having read the first wasn’t a problem. The earlier events explain the relationships between some of the characters and why Joe asks Gemma to become an unofficial MI6 agent, but enough backstory is given for it to make sense — although the first book sounds like it might be rather fun too.
This one is fun because of the scrapes into which Gemma gets herself, the interesting people who work in the restaurant and the sheer preposterousness of the plot. If you like your romance served up with a dose of realism, this is not the book for you because you’ll find yourself saying ‘Yea, right! Like that would really happen!’ every few chapters. But if you’re willing to accept the James Bond hokum, days and times off that would make anyone in the catering business sigh with longing and so on, then the story works like the Big Thunder Mountain ride at Disneyland Paris — lots of ups and downs, lots of twists and turns.
While I was willing to suspend disbelief in order to accept the plot, there were little things that niggled because they didn’t ring true or because they made me stop reading for a moment to question or check something. Most were not important (and some were undoubtedly the result of me being overly picky, which is why I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment by giving examples) but there were rather too many of them for me to get completely lost in the story. That was a real shame because there is a lot to like about this book, not least the descriptions of Paris.
It’s something of a cliché to say that the setting is a character in its own right — albeit a cliché that doesn’t usually get used when talking about holiday reads — but the byways of Montmartre and side streets off Blvd St Michel get as much attention as the tourist attractions and all are part of the story. Gemma’s voice is strong too. She is consistently optimistic and aware of her failings without ever seeming arrogant or overly self-pitying, and that comes across in her narrative. You therefore get a good sense of what she is like as a person and so are able to understand some of her decisions that seem odd to other characters.
Overall then, a lovely bit of summer fun … just send your inner pedant away with a large bottle of absinthe first.
When I spotted The Objects of Her Affection on Netgalley, I thought it sounded really, really interesting. I was a big watcher of White Collar for a w...moreWhen I spotted The Objects of Her Affection on Netgalley, I thought it sounded really, really interesting. I was a big watcher of White Collar for a while, until it dropped off my radar, and I loved the idea of Sophie being an art-thief and no one even realising, it's the perfect crime! So I couldn't wait to dive in; some reviews said it was quite a high-class novel and I must agree - Sophie may be suffering after buying her new house, which leads to all the art-related thievery, but her and Brian are hardly suffering. They're certainly not poor and there is a tad bit of snobbishness to the novel, but I didn't let it effect my enjoyment of the book.
Perhaps the whole point of the novel is that because Sophie and Brian are the perfect family, with the perfect family house, that no one knew what Sophie was doing, but I thought it was great, and I rather got a sense of tension any time Sophie decided she needed a new 'score', for lack of a better word. The beginning of the novel sets up the need for Sophie's need to steal, and it was somewhat surprising that despite saying she was the one who took care of the family's finanaces, that she was willing to play so fast and loose with her mortgage just because she felt like the house was the 'one'. I would have expected her to be on top of her finances, to not be led astray by a dodgy mortgage broker, but I could also understand her blindness, and her need to get the house at all costs, damn the consequences, though it obviously comes back to bite her in the bum.
I enjoyed the novel - it was fun and quite frivolous, with an added edge of danger whenever Sophie went into the museum where Brian worked to steal more stuff. Cobb managed to make it quite tenuous and tension-filled. I felt kinda sad for Brian, considering he had no clue, but really he was way too interested in a French candlestick - Brian's whole purpose for the novel was to discuss that bloomin' candlestick! I was kind of surprised he didn't pick up on Sophie's change of mood, and that he was so oblivious to the trouble they were in, but it was all candlestick this, candlestick that. It was the same old Chick Lit trope, though, if Sophie had opened her mouth sooner perhaps she wouldn't have had to go to the lengths she did, although the best parts of the novel was when she was either stealing stuff or going up to New York, to meet Harry, an antiques dealer.
One thing I felt The Objects of Her Affection lacked was the ending. It just... ended. It was the one issue I wondered about before I started reading - because how do you end a novel that's about stealing? You can't really have a happy ever after and although I liked how serious the matter of Sophie's actions became, I just felt that it all came together too neatly, and that the ending was just a bit blah, for lack of a better word. I wanted closure. I wanted to know what was going to happen going forward, with Sophie, Brian, the kids, everything. It was a shame to have such a short, sweet, unexpected ending after quite the roller-coaster ride. It was a very interesting read, though. I really enjoyed it, The Objects of Her Affection was very different to most novels I read, and I enjoyed the art aspect and the thieving aspect - it was great, and had my heart pulsing.