Madeline (Maddie) Hyde, her husband Ellis and their close friend Hank Boyd are privileged, obnoxious and spoiled Philadelphia socialites, living a life of extravagance and debauchery. Their lives are the image of laziness and the threesome spend their days sleeping and their nights partying and drinking. With World War II a continent away, they live their life in a bubble, completely oblivious of the hardships suffered by the people around them and the atrocities occurring half a world away.
After a particularly extreme night of depravity, Ellis is cut off financially by his father, a highly decorated Colonel, and decides upon a crazy plan to redeem himself and get back into his father’s good graces; travel to war devastated Scotland and find the elusive Loch Ness monster that his father was unable to do. As Ellis falls deeper into despair and desperation, fueled by his unsuccessful search and growing dependence on prescription medication, left alone at the local guesthouse, Maddie sets herself on a path of personal transformation and redemption.
At the Water’s Edge is a magnificently gripping and poignant story of one woman’s struggles to make a place for herself in the world and live a life of meaning at a time where everyone and everything around her has gone mad. At once a historical fiction, romance and adventure novel, Sara Gruen has wonderfully captured the atmosphere of the small Scottish village and community of Drumnadrochit that serves as the backdrop to most of the novel. The characters are brilliantly written and developed and the reader is compelled to have feelings for them, feelings that range from love or hate, sympathy or disgust.
I literally could not put this book down. The need to find out what would happen to Maddie, Ellis, Hank, Angus, Meg and Anne was just so strong and kept me turning the pages at almost breakneck speed. The plot was intriguing, the characters superb and the writing absolutely flawless. What else could you possibly ask for of this book? Nothing because it was absolutely perfect!
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House (Spiegel & Grau) for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Jeff Manning is hit by a car and killed on his way home from work. In the wake of this tragedy, two women are left to mourn him, his wife Claire and his co-worker Patricia ‘Tish’ Underhill, with whom it appears Jeff has had an affair. Told from the perspective of these three characters, in the days and weeks following Jeff’s death, through the grief and shock, we slowly piece together the struggles and alienation growing between Jeff and Claire and witness the blooming relationship between Jeff and Tish.
Hidden, Catherine McKenzie’s fourth novel is a nicely written, quiet, slow burn story that quite realistically delves into a topic that all couples deal with sooner or later in their relationships or marriages. How well do you know your spouse? What secrets are they keeping and if something were to happen to you, what secrets would be uncovered in your life? Ultimately, do we really want to know everything, every secret about the person we love?
I only had one criticism that unfortunately diminished my enjoyment of Hidden somewhat. With such a great, attention grabbing prologue, I was hooked and intrigued, looking forward to getting to know these characters and their stories. Although their histories develop nicely enough, everything just kind of rolls along and as I was reading, I kept waiting and hoping for the other shoe to drop, for emotions to intensify, for some yelling, screaming even crying. Anything actually, to show that these characters truly cared for one another.
Was this on par with Catherine McKenzie’s other novels? Not quite, but a good read nonetheless. Perfect for a quiet, rainy, lazy day read.
Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. ...more
A long time political campaigner, Lucy Toomey has finally, after years of sleepless nights, disappointing and unfulfilled relationships, and a nonexistent social life, reached the potential pinnacle of her career. The candidate she has devoted so many years to has just been elected president of the United States. But when her older sister, Alice dies unexpectedly, Lucy goes back to the one place she vowed she would never go back to, the small, tight knit community of Nilson’s Bay, Wisconsin.
In order to fulfill the requirements of Alice’s will, Lucy takes up residence in the old family home, biding her time until her imposed time period is up and she can return to Washington and her White House dream job. Alice’s influences linger everywhere in the little town, and soon Lucy finds herself taken in by Alice’s friends, a group of strong women who share with her their love and memories of Alice. Through these women, and the Nilson’s Bay community as a whole, Lucy soon learns the importance of letting go, forgiveness of oneself and others as well as allowing for second chances.
Marie Bostwick has written a wonderfully sweet, touching and heartwarming novel of family and friendships, but also of the importance of faith and having the ability to move on from past misconceptions and transgressions. In a world of too much negativity, selfishness and lack of integrity, The Second Sister offers a refreshingly wholesome, inspirational and feel good story, with strong, appealing characters and a compelling plot line. My one complaint? When I got to the last page I wished there was more and longed to continue reading about Lucy, Peter, the Friends of Alice and Nilson's Bay.
I absolutely recommend you read The Second Sister and will definitely be checking out Marie Bostwick’s other novels at my local bookstore and library. I might even pick up a beginner’s book on quilting!
Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Personally did not enjoy this book and although I did manage to finish it I can honestly say that I'm not quite sure what the story was about and whatPersonally did not enjoy this book and although I did manage to finish it I can honestly say that I'm not quite sure what the story was about and what the author was trying to accomplish.
I choose not to give any further review of The Lost Boys Symphony as I'm sure that there are readers that will enjoy it and I simply have nothing positive to say about it and do not wish to influence anyone either way.
Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy in return for an honest review. ...more
The Chinese government invites a small group of journalists, dignitaries and other VIPs to a remote part of China for the unveiling of its latest and greatest creation, the Great Zoo of China. Among those invited is Dr. Cassandra Jane Cameron (CJ), veterinarian, renowned expert of reptiles and writer for National Geographic. Developed and built in a beautiful, yet remote area of China, this is no ordinary zoo. There is only one type of animal kept here, and it is like nothing anyone has ever seen before.
As expected in a Matthew Reilly novel, the reader doesn’t have to wait very long for the thrills to start. While enjoying their tour, CJ, her brother Hamish, the US Ambassador to China and a slew of internet and newspaper journalists soon come face to face with the creatures of the zoo, who it turns out have some plans of their own. Without giving too much of the plot away, a rollercoaster ride of a battle ensues, where human and animal fight it out for ultimate control.
If there’s one thing that Matthew Reilly knows how to do well it’s to write an action packed novel. The Great Zoo of China is no exception. Literature it is not, but it is a fun, absorbing novel full of fantastical ideas, unbelievable stunts and heart-stopping action. From first to last line, the story kept me engaged and entertained, flipping the pages in anticipation of the next explosive plot twist. Sure, some of those same plot twists were totally ridiculous and at times the violence is unnecessary and over the top, but that’s what makes Matthew Reilly novels fun and exciting and capable of, if for just a moment, to transport you away from the everyday grind to a place where only adventure and action exist.
Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review....more
Told through a series of short stories or vignettes with different points of view, and all occurring in the span of a single day, Read Between the Lines gives us a glimpse into the lives of ten individuals, connected through the high school that they either attend or work at. Among these ten characters there is the popular cheerleader who feels as though she is invisible, the successful jock who is leading a double life, the nerd who suffers at the hands of a bully, the drop-out working at the local fast food hangout and living under the controlling thumb of his father, and the new and attractive English teacher who gets no respect.
Using a sensitive writing style, and a creative and refreshing format, Jo Knowles explores the old adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. The truth is we can never really tell what a person is going through just by looking at them. Everyone has inner struggles that they don’t show to the world, not even to those closest to them. So instead of judging them for their actions or hating them for what society perceives them to be, we should try to put ourselves in their shoes, try to ‘read between the lines’.
I found the characters to be well written, with such a great variety of personalities that every reader is bound to empathise and identify with at least one of them. Although their struggles are not resolved within their vignette, Jo Knowles has managed to give the reader the possibility of resolution, a glimmer of hope that these individuals will rise above their fear, hate and insecurities and the misconceptions and misunderstandings that follow them. I enjoyed reading ‘Read Between the Lines’, and found it to be hauntingly perceptive and thought provoking. It was a nice change to the typical Young Adult novels making the rounds at the moment and would recommend it to teenagers and their parents, as well as teachers looking for discussion starters for their students.
Thank you to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. ...more
As a young archeology student, Elizabetta Celestino is completing her thesis and fascinated by ancient Roman astrological symbols and the existence of a pre-Christian cult. After a traumatic injury and personal tragedy, she decides to become a nun and devote herself to Christ and the church. However, forces beyond her control are pulling her away from the life she has chosen. On the eve of the Conclave, a cave collapse at the catacombs where Elizabetta once studied leads to an investigation into an ancient Roman sect, intertwining three story lines: Nero and Ancient Rome, the playwright Christopher Marlowe and Elizabethan England and present day Vatican.
With the help of her brother Zazo, a Vatican policeman, her sister Micaela a doctor in Rome, and her father, a respected mathematics professor, Elizabetta is unwittingly pulled into a centuries old battle between good and evil, the outcome of which could lead to the end of not only the Catholic Church but civilization and the world as we know it.
I found the timelines involving Nero and Marlowe very well written and captivating and would have enjoyed the novel much more if the same level of writing and development had been applied to the present day timeline involving Elizabetta and her investigation. Although not my favourite Glenn Cooper novel, this was an interesting and intelligent take on the Malachy prophecy, weaving together both fiction and fact into this story of historical fiction.
I’m looking forward to the final Glenn Cooper novel on my reading list, The Resurrection Maker. Check back soon for the review!
Thank you to NetGalley and Lascaux Media for providing me with an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review. ...more
For nine years, Will Cardiel has lived Inside with his mother Diane. Sharing the family home in Thunder Bay, Diane has created a wonderful world of fantasy and fun for Will and that has always been enough for him. She has always been enough for him. Then one day a mysterious sound coming from the backyard forces Will Outside where he meets Marcus. The boy’s simple phrase ‘Nothing can hurt you, Will’, emboldens Will and from that moment he is determined to take control of his life.
Diane, a once successful filmmaker, suffers from agoraphobia and anxiety. The death of her brother in her youth weighs heavily on her and she regards her family as cursed. She is afraid of living, afraid of being hurt again, of losing Will. Alternating between Will’s adventures and Diane’s remembering of her youth in Thunder Bay, the circumstances of their return are slowly revealed.
While Diane’s fear paralyses her and prevents her from living, Will welcomes life in spite of the dangers looming Outside. Through his friendship with Angela, sick with cystic fibrosis and Jonah, a First Nations boy who dreams of becoming a doctor, Will realises that life is all about falling, trying, succeeding and failing and having the courage to get up and do it all over again.
Michael Christie has written a beautiful, honest, intelligent, powerful book with lyrical prose and captivating descriptions of the Thunder Bay community and their socio-economic issues of the time. The characters are written with vulnerability and imperfections and Will’s voice was so authentic that while reading I felt as if was experiencing the outside world through the eyes of someone seeing it and experiencing it for the first time. This holds true for Diane as well, where her agoraphobia and anxiety felt just as crushing to me while reading it as I’m sure it was for her experiencing it. One of the best books I’ve read so far this year, I recommend everyone pick up a copy.
Thank you to Blogging for Books and the Crown Publishing Group for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Six months after the death of their mother Diane, Rose and her sister Lily are cleaning out their mother’s closet and come across a suitcase full of old diaries. Paging through them, Rose comes upon an entry involving her birth and discovers that she was adopted. Stunned, shocked and questioning her identity, Rose searches for answers from her father, who would rather drown his feelings in beer, and her grandmother, who had a difficult relationship with Diane and is unable to give Rose much information. Unsatisfied, Rose decides to take matters into her own hands and find her birth parents.
Her sister Lily, obsessed with having a baby, is worried about why she is not pregnant yet. Unable to talk to her emotionally distant husband William concerning her fears, she too turns to her mother’s diaries for comfort and perhaps some glimpse into the possible reason for her inability to have a baby. What Lily discovers within those pages will alter her view of herself as well as her marriage.
Blending mystery and romance, Ignoring Gravity takes a light-hearted view of some difficult issues such as adoption and identity, family relationships and family dynamics. I enjoyed this book and read it almost in one sitting. Although I thought Rose was being a little harsh towards her family once she found out she was adopted, almost to the point of shunning them as if they were nothing to her, I liked some of the ideas brought up in the book, in particular the idea of what makes people a family. Is it blood relations or in fact the act of sharing ordinary as well as special moments, celebrating each other’s successes and surviving failures, and through it all loving and respecting each other. The first book of the Rose Haldane: Identity Detective series, it serves as an introduction to a cast of characters that I look forward to reading about in the next installment of the series.
Thank you to NetGalley and Beulah Press for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. ...more
A tragic car accident on a covered bridge in rural Vermont shatters the Dupont family. The father Robert, is left handicapped, confined to a wheelchair and his young son, Jess, is killed. Two years later, mother and daughter are still trying to put the pieces back together again. Told from the perspective of Sylvia, Ruby and Nessa, The Forever Bridge is the story of these three incredibly damaged women and their struggle to find meaning amidst tragedy and hardship.
Following the accident, Sylvia Dupont suffers from agoraphobia, anxiety, depression and panic attacks. She has become a recluse, never venturing further then her small vegetable garden near her rundown home. She is tormented by guilt for what has happened to her husband and son and has forgotten how to be a wife, mother and friend. Eleven year old Ruby loves designing and building bridges and this fascination has given her the strength to overcome the tragedy of that night on the bridge. She still however misses her brother, feels pity for her father and yearns for the way her mother used to be.
Nessa, a young, mute runaway is returning to her childhood home in the hopes of finding her mother. When she finds that her mother has gone, and has no one else to turn to, Nessa finds shelter in an abandoned shack in the woods. Hungry, desperate and alone, she survives on stolen morsels from Sylvia’s garden until an accident and chance encounter with Ruby sets these three women on a collision course that will change them all profoundly.
A mesmerizing novel, I found it to be eloquently written and the descriptions of the landscape captivating. The impending hurricane, which serves as a backdrop to most of the story, added to the feeling of urgency. The characters were beautifully written and the women’s fragile emotional states were so tangible that you feel them teetering on the brink and you sensed that the slightest thing could break them and cause them to spiral out of control.
I would have liked for the connection between these three women to have occurred earlier in the novel allowing a more realistic timeline for their bonding, but I suppose the fact that they were kept separate from each other until almost the very end magnified for me that feeling of isolation and desperation that Sylvia, Ruby and Nessa were experiencing.
This was my first novel by T. Greenwood and having discovered that she has quite a large body of works, it will not be my last. A beautifully written novel, I give this 4/5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing me with an Advanced Reader copy in exchange for an honest review. ...more
I first read this book shortly after its release in 2007 as part of a reading challenge and loved it. As with Lisa Genova’s novel ‘Left Neglected’, thI first read this book shortly after its release in 2007 as part of a reading challenge and loved it. As with Lisa Genova’s novel ‘Left Neglected’, the story of Alice has stayed with me all these years. So when I received a copy of ‘Still Alice’ through a giveaway, I was more than happy to read it again and share my thoughts of it with you in the hopes that you will pick up this book and read it too.
Alice Howland is a well respected and very successful cognitive psychology professor at Harvard. At 50, she is happily married to John, a successful academic in his own right, and is the mother to three grown children, Anna, Tom and Lydia. After several instances of disorientation and forgetfulness, she seeks out medical help and is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Although afraid of losing her self-awareness and that which makes her ‘Alice,’ and powerless in the face of this incurable disease, Alice is determined to live life on her terms, with courage and dignity.
There are a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, available out there that give the reader wonderful insight into the emotional and physical struggles of caregivers on the front lines, dealing day in and day out with the destruction that Alzheimer’s wields on their loved ones. Their courage and strength is admirable and I take my hat off to them. In the case of ‘Still Alice’ however, Lisa Genova has taken a different road, choosing to examine the perspective of the Alzheimer’s victim. Told entirely in Alice’s voice, using her memories and perception of her present situation, the reader has a sense of taking this journey with her.
As the novel progresses so does Alice’s dementia, and her once sharp, intelligent mind and exceptional memory become increasingly unreliable, muddled and distorted. Her frustration when she forgets a word, or can’t find her keys makes us cringe and think about that time when we couldn’t find our phone or couldn’t remember that word on the tip of our tongue. Our heart breaks for her as she slowly gives up the things she loves, like writing, reading and running, because we love these things too. We cry when she forgets the ones she loves because we can’t fathom a life in which we don’t recognise or remember our spouse or children.
Alzheimer’s disease destroys the essence of what makes us who we are: memories, knowledge, experiences, feelings and the relationships we have with friends and loved ones. This is what defines us. Through Alice’s story, Lisa Genova has brought these issues together and written a powerful novel about love, courage and the human spirit.
I absolutely recommend this wonderful novel and give it 5/5 stars. ...more
At forty, things are going well for Joe O’Brien, a Boston police officer. Life is far from perfect, living in a three floor walk-up with his wife Rosie and his four grown children Patrick, JJ, Meghan and Katie but he is happy and satisfied and making plans for a quiet, comfortable future surrounded by his tight-knit, loving family. When he starts experiencing strange and unexpected jerky movements in his legs and arms, the inability to complete his police reports and violent outbreaks at work and at home, he pays a visit to the doctor to placate Rosie. The diagnosis is devastating: Huntington’s disease, a fatal, hereditary neurological disease that affects a person’s mental and physical abilities.
What comes next can only be described as heart-shattering so make sure you have lots of tissues ready. Not only does this wonderful, devoted family have to deal with the progression of Joe’s symptoms but also make difficult decisions about the future of their own lives. Testing is available to Joe’s children, but how will the knowledge of having, or not having Huntington’s disease affect them? How do you live your life to its fullest when there is this horrible, ugly monster hiding around the corner?
Lisa Genova has again written a powerful, poignant and heartbreaking book about a family struggling with the unthinkable. As with her previous novels, in Inside the O’Briens, we get an intimate, up close view of the O’Brien family, of their pain, fear and anger. But all is not lost, and although this family has been dealt a horrible blow, Lisa Genova touchingly captures the sense of hope, love and resilience they still have in the face of this hardship.
Having read Still Alice and Left Neglected, I am always amazed and in awe of how Lisa Genova can at once educate and entertain the reader with her novels. Her passion comes though on every page, in every line and the stories she creates awaken that same passion in her readers. Inside the O’Briens is no exception and I urge you to get it at your local bookstore or library and read it. Spend a few hours in the company of the wonderful O’Brien family.
The Alphabet House, told in two parts, opens with James Teasdale and Bryan Young, two British pilots on a reconnaissance mission over Germany during WWII. When their plane is shot down and they crash in enemy territory they must do what is necessary to survive. While being pursued by German soldiers, James and Bryan manage to escape aboard a train carrying wounded SS officers, taking the place of two patients they have thrown off the train, hoping to have a chance to escape at some later time. Upon their arrival at the Alphabet House, a mental institution, they must continue their charade, all the while being subjected to horrifying and atrocious experimental procedures and therapies.
The second part, occurring some 30 years later, brings us face to face with Bryan Young again and his quest to find his friend and fellow Alphabet House patient, James. However, things are not as they seem and soon Bryan is involved in a mystery, involving some unexpected characters from his past.
This was my first taste of a Jussi Adler-Olsen mystery/thriller and I must say it was a difficult read for me. Rich in detail of the time, it is a well researched book giving wonderful insight into the appalling conditions for patients in mental institutions at the time. However, as insightful as that can be, and in general lends well to plot and character development, the details are what dragged the story down for me. Having started it, I found myself at times even avoiding it, reading other books and not wanting to really go back to it. I just couldn’t find any sympathy for any of the characters, all of them flat, two dimensional and unappealing.
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group (Dutton Adult) for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Noel Summerford hates winter, especially Christmas. If it were up to him, he would be relaxing on the beach in some sunny and warm summer paradise insNoel Summerford hates winter, especially Christmas. If it were up to him, he would be relaxing on the beach in some sunny and warm summer paradise instead of in the cold weather at the skating rink with his godson Jasper. Holly Winterlake, a former competitive skater loves Christmas and hates summer. Christmas is her favourite time of year and she enjoys the crowds of people, the decorations and lights and spending time with her colourful family. Then one day, Noel and Holly meet by chance at the skating rink at Somerset House, and although they do not hit it off right away, there is subtle romantic tension between them. Is it possible though, for two such opposite people to put aside their differences and allow their feelings to blossom?
‘Skating at Somerset House’ is the first story in Nikki Moore’s ‘#Love London’ series. It was a light, fun read, easily completed in one sitting. The characters were engaging and quite well developed for a short story. There was so much back story in fact, that I wanted to read more about these two characters and can easily imagine Holly and Noel’s story developed into a full book version. I would recommend this to anyone in the mood for a short sweet romance with a festive feel and look forward to reading the other titles in this series.
I give this book 3.5/5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK (HarperImpulse) for providing me an ebook copy in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Nicky Frank’s car has just plummeted down an embankment in rural New Hampshire, but she has miraculously survived. When she regains consciousness, altNicky Frank’s car has just plummeted down an embankment in rural New Hampshire, but she has miraculously survived. When she regains consciousness, although dazed and injured, her only concern is for her young daughter, Vero, who is missing.
However, as the police soon discover, Nicky and her husband Thomas have no children, no daughter named Vero. It seems that as a result of numerous freak accidents, Nicky has sustained several concussions in the past six months, and suffers from severe brain trauma, which leaves her confused and unable to distinguish illusion from reality.
As Sgt. Wyatt Foster and private investigator Tessa Leoni team up to investigate the suspicious circumstances of Nicky’s car accident, they slowly uncover chilling clues to Nicky’s past. But instead of answers only more questions remain. Is Nicky the victim or is she the criminal? Is Thomas really her loving and doting husband or does he have more sinister motives? And who is Vero? Does this little girl really exist or is she a delusion conjured up in Nicky’s damaged and battered mind?
‘Crash & Burn’ is a fast-paced and intense psychological thriller with many surprising and terrifying twists and turns, like an unstoppable train rushing to its dramatic and gripping conclusion. Lisa Gardner has managed to capture so remarkably the effects of brain trauma on a person’s mind. So convincing in fact, that the reader is apt to feel just as confused and troubled as Nicky, unable to determine if what they have read is real or just an intricately created smoke screen.
A fantastic read, I give ‘Crash & Burn’ 5/5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley and the Penguin Group (Dutton) for providing me an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. ...more
The past few years for high school physics teacher and running coach Neil Kazenzakis have not been easy. A tragic accident has left his wife Wendy inThe past few years for high school physics teacher and running coach Neil Kazenzakis have not been easy. A tragic accident has left his wife Wendy in a permanent vegetative state at a long-term care facility. He is a single parent to teenage son Christopher and takes care of his mother-in-law, Carol, who suffers from dementia. If that were not enough, he has kept his relationship with Lauren, Carol’s caregiver, a secret from his son. When an incident at school results in career ending allegations, his carefully reconstructed life threatens to shatter. Although surrounded by a good support network of colleagues and friends, Alan and Kristen, Neil struggles with the decisions he needs to make and the memories and emotions he has tried to forget.
Jon Harrison has written a compelling novel about a man just like us. The character of Neil Kazenzakis was refreshing and honest, and the fact that the author chose for his main character to be a man (instead of a woman as most of the characters are in these types of books) was what made it even more interesting.
Throughout the book, Neil is searching for answers to questions that we have all struggled with at some point in our lives. We are all searching for love, happiness, friendship and acceptance, forgiveness and absolution, health, happiness and success for our children and family members. Jon Harrison touches on so many issues that we also deal with everyday and has captured these human emotions and struggles beautifully.
A wonderful, touching and thought-provoking read. I give this book 4/5 stars. ...more
I was given an ARC of this novel by Penguin Canada.
‘The Woman who Stole my Life’ is told using two timelines, starting in the present where we are intI was given an ARC of this novel by Penguin Canada.
‘The Woman who Stole my Life’ is told using two timelines, starting in the present where we are introduced to Stella Sweeney, a self-help book author who has just returned to Dublin, Ireland after spending a year living in New York and travelling all over the USA promoting her book. She is sad and broken, frustrated with her teenage son, who would rather spend the day doing yoga instead of typical teenage boy activities.
The second timeline introduces the reader to Stella Sweeney from about 4 years in the past. She is a 40 year old woman, living an ordinary, uneventful life in Dublin. Married to Ryan, bathroom designer extraordinaire, and mother to Betsy and Jeffrey, she works as a beautician with her sister Karen at the Honey Day Spa. Unexpectedly, Stella is stricken by a life threatening illness that leaves her paralysed, able to communicate only through blinking. This singular event catapults Stella on a path of change, a path that will forever alter her life.
While Stella works hard to promote her book, forces are working against her and as we soon discover, things are not exactly as they appear. As these two timelines are slowly and intricately woven together, a sense of mystery builds and urges the reader to keep reading, until the final moment of unveiling, when we discover the reason for Stella’s hasty and unceremonious return to Dublin. Will she recover from this latest setback and find success and happiness? And who is this mysterious man leaving her phone messages?
Marian Keyes has written a touching novel that was at times witty and funny, heartwarming and inspirational. The characters are real and down to earth and very easy for the reader to relate to. Both their struggles and successes are known to us and as such the reader can see themselves in whole or in part in these characters. Stella’s eccentric parents, her high strung friend Zoe and Karen’s husband Enda, the imposing chief of the Gardai, round out Stella’s immediate circle, and provide much of the comic relief of this book.
I found myself cheering for Stella and hoping for her recovery, success and happiness. Her words of wisdom were simple yet empowering and left me, on more than one occasion, smiling. On the whole, a very satisfying, good-feel read. ...more