I think there's no reader, especially of women's fiction and historical fiction that hasn't heard of Anita Shreve Originally posted on This Chick Reads
I think there's no reader, especially of women's fiction and historical fiction that hasn't heard of Anita Shreve. She's a well known name and author of many brilliant books. The first book of her's I've read was The Pilot's Wife and it was kind of love at first sight moment for me. Naturally I was so excited to hear she's got a new book coming out and I couldn't wait to read it. While it's classic Anita Shreve that we know, I think this certainly is her best yet.
The book is based on real life events, a terrible fire that caught Maine in 1947. This dreadful event is the frame for the main story, a story of loss, hope, survival and new beginnings. The story is centered around Grace, a young woman in her early 20s, wife of Gene and mother of two young children under the age of 2. She's the pillar of the family, running errands, taking care of the house, making sure everyone is pleased and taken care of. However, her marriage is not the happiest. It takes her a lot of time to realize this. Gene is rude, secretive and treats her unkindly. She hardly sees him or makes love to him. For a woman of that age, naturally this is a problem. While her friend, Rosie is having the best marriage with loads of passion, it seems Grace will never get to have it. But she's not jealous, it's more like she's not even aware of what she's missing until she sees the life her friend, Rosie leads.
But one dreadful event, the fire that rages through Maine, a fire which will burn down her and many other houses, will be the event that will change her life forever. Gene is out to help out with the fire spreading and she's left alone to take care of her children, saving not only theirs but also the lives of Rosie and her kids. At such a difficult time she discovers her own strength and strong desire for survival. She's 5 months pregnant, unfortunately loses her kid. However, that doesn't stop her, she's got two little children to take care of.
Gene is missing and Grace moves in her deceased mother-in-laws house. And that's where everything starts really changing. Though she's got no time to mourn her lost child or house, Grace is certain she wants to move on.
I absolutely enjoyed this book! Many times I was close to tears, especially when the fire was raging and Grace was fighting for her life and the life of her kids. The strong mother's love was so well described, I even started imagining what I would do if I were in that horrible situation. What I loved the most is how Grace transforms, how she grows from the gullible 23 year old to strong, confident woman making some excellent choices.
The book delivers so many great messages, like the importance of understanding in a marriage, the need to rely on each other in times of a disaster or how one grows in most difficult of times. I love the fact Grace rose literally from her ashes, creating a new and better life than the one she had.
But the thing that I felt missing (and which is the reason I can't give it 5*) is the fact I wish I saw more of Gene's reasons for his behavior. I know there are a lot of mean people in the world, however I couldn't understand why he was treating Grace so badly or why she put up with that. I guess one of the reasons is that back in the 40s divorce was not an acceptable thing. Still, I wish I knew why Gene was so bitter, it would help me get a clearer picture of him as a character.
While there's some romance, it was gradually built and I absolutely love Ms Shreve's gentle approach thus showing a nice, American, family woman from the 40s.
Overall, this was truly an enjoyable read. It's short so I read it in about three hours and I absolutely loved the ending. Speaking of the ending, some things might be rushed by the ending but it all fit in perfectly. If you're looking for a great women's fiction/historical fiction to devour over the weekend, no need to look any further. Warm, emotional and carrying many strong messages, The Stars Are Fire is definitely a treat. ...more
First off, isn't the cover stunning? I don't know about you, but I'm a big sucker for a gorgeous cover and this oOriginally posted on This Chick Reads
First off, isn't the cover stunning? I don't know about you, but I'm a big sucker for a gorgeous cover and this one caught my attention immediately. As I haven't read the first book in the series (The Beachside Sweet Shop) I really had no expectations. Maybe I expected more laughs judging by the blurb, but nevertheless I ended up liking it (most of it).
As I said, I haven't read the first one in the series (but had a quick glance at the reviews and blurb) and Karen brought the readers back to Shipley where Carrie is off to help her out with her flower stall. The beautiful sea place is nothing like Manchester where Carrie's spend the last 10 years of her life. She's an accountant and knows nothing about flowers (except watching a tutorial on youtube) but her parents think it's a good idea for her to go and help help her aunt as firstly, she's in between jobs anyway and secondly, her aunt Ruby would appreciate it. However being back to her home town, the one she escaped a decade ago brings back not only memories but people from her past too. Tom is there, still gorgeous and successful and seems she hasn't gotten over him still.
The reason why Carrie fled her hometown was to heal her broken heart, after her friend, Megan ends up with Tom. There's a lot of unresolved issues and now she's back, seems she has to face the past. But while I enjoyed Tom and Carrie's story, I have to say it's not the only story we follow in the book. Which I liked as it gives the book another interesting layer. The story of Ruby, her 'illness' and past was what really kept my attention.
While I didn't particularly like Ruby, I tried to understand her as much as possible as I'm a mother myself. I also liked that we were gradually being introduced to her past and bit by bit being allowed to see Ruby for who she really is. At the beginning, I really didn't understand her reasons for giving up on her stall and closing in on the people around her. But as I learned more and more about her, her behavior started to make more sense and I could feel her more.
While there are many things I enjoyed about this book, the lightness and the beautiful setting being just few, I also didn't like some parts. Actually, the main problem were the characters. I can assume what the author tried to do and how she wanted to portray Carrie as someone who transforms by the end, however it was slightly annoying how gullible Carrie was at times. As the book opens with an event 10 years ago, at Tom's 21st Birthday party, we get to see the 'awkward' friendship between Carrie and Megan. I was so surprised to read Carrie could swallow such a thing and actually have a friend like Megan. I mean, they were in their twenties, not actually kids. The relationship was anything but friendship and no matter how much I tried to like Carrie, I felt like I've lost all my respect for her right at the beginning of the book.
But there's hope as Carrie does transform however it was too late for me, as I already had my opinion firmly made. While Megan is evil and a real bitch, she's definitely important to the story and is the perfect example of how evil some people can be, using lies and manipulating with people and their trust. I'm thankful I haven't had the experience of having someone as her in my life, but I guess there are people out there who've had a Megan as a friend. So, be careful when you give your trust, guys - there's a nice little message in this book.
However, the triangle was a bit too much for me and their story was less interesting for me than Ruby's. Ruby's story was really what kept me turning the pages and got me even emotional at times. While I'd certainly like the book more if I could've connected to any of the characters more and if the pacing was faster, I still enjoyed it and would definitely continue the series. If you enjoy light, warm reads and flowers even, this is definitely the book for you....more
Seriously guys! Every time I pick up Ms Marsons' book I think of t Originally posted on This Chick Reads
OMG, OMG OMG!!! Can this series get any better?!
Seriously guys! Every time I pick up Ms Marsons' book I think of this question, and each time she proves me she CAN get better and better. I mean, this whole series is such a delight and a real breath of fresh air. It's the only thriller/crime series I follow, read all the books in order and not only that, but enjoyed the hell out of them!
I was beyond excited for the sixth one in the series, Dead Souls. Needless to say I had such high expectations as I freakin adore Ms Marsons' writing. She simply knows how to make you devour her books. You know how kids feel in front of a candy store? That's exactly how I feel when I see her book downloaded to my kindle. No end to my excitement! And then I read the book in 4 hours and have months to wait for the next one. Oh, well...that's the life of a die hard fan.
But back to Dead Souls. It's everything I expected from DI Kim Stone (and Ms Marsons) and so much more. If there's one thing Kim loves it's her team. They understand her and are such a hard working bunch. But this time she's gotta work on a case (old crime, body found at an archaeological site) with no other than her nemesis, DI Tom Travis. Now, there was a time when these two were partners and good friends, but something happened and before you know it, Kim is out of the station and looking for a transfer which leads her to Black Country. The tension between Kim and Tom is palpable and they simply can't stand being around each other. Kim is rather disappointed to be working with Tom on the case but has no other option as it's an order from her boss. She'd also hate for the case to suffer so does her best to put up with Tom's arrogance and cold looks.
Now that Kim is assigned to work with Tom on the case of these old crimes, Bryant and Dawson are following another one, but what none of them knows is that these seemingly unrelated crimes are all connected. Stacey blew my mind. I'm so happy we got to see more of Stacey and discover what a great police officer she is. She's ballsy, smart and follows her intuition. We all know it's hard for women in the police force, because they're always looked down on, or pitied or ...I don't know what. And though Stacey is part of the team it's like she's got a lot to prove. She does make the occasional mistake, but at the end it appears these were not mistakes at all. I'm telling you, she's so awesome and kick ass.
Like all of the previous in the series, there are a lot of crimes to be solved and a lot of bodies appear. But what makes this one stand out is the seriousness of the topics, hate crimes, racism, every day problems the LGBT community faces. Sometimes it was really hard reading this book because of this. Next thing I found fascinating was how Ms Marsons put some other characters in the front line, allowing us to get to know them better and see how Kim functions in a new environment. I absolutely loved the dynamics between Kim and Tom, it did take me some time to understand the reason for the tension between them but it all made sense at the end.
It really is hard to think of all the fabulous things about this book when all I want to tell you is ...JUST READ IT! If you're a fan of thrillers/crime and had a chance to see the brilliance that is Ms Marsons, I'm sure you're jumping up and down as this book is out today and already downloaded to your kindle! However, if you haven't heard of this series...were you sleeping under a rock or something? Seriously, it's just so so good and you really need it in your life. Absolutely addictive, gripping, clever, dark and pacey, Dead Souls is a perfection! I am dead serious when I say this. :) Another gem by Angela and another wait for me and millions around the world for #7 in the series. I am already getting impatient! But I'm sure it will be soooooo worth it....more
It's been a while since I've read a book by Tilly Tennant and I was really excited about A Wedding in Italy. I ju Originally posted on This Chick Reads
It's been a while since I've read a book by Tilly Tennant and I was really excited about A Wedding in Italy. I just adore the cover and the blurb made it sound like totally my thing. However, while I did enjoy it, I have to say I am slightly disappointed. It could be the fact I had expectations as I know Tilly is an amazing author, or the fact most of my friends loved it and I assumed I will too.
A Wedding in Italy is the second one in a series, and while I haven't read the first part, I can say this one can definitely be read as a stand alone. While there are many characters, I had no trouble in remembering their names or their role. However I did read some reviews on Rome is Where the Heart Is (the first part in the series) to get a better feel of the MC, Kate and her history with Alessandro. While apparently the first part is more focused on their romance, in the second part we meet Alessandro's family and see Kate trying to fit in.
The family dynamics is what makes this book enjoyable and so easy to ready. Alessandro has three sisters and while Kate has established a good relationship with Lucetta and Abelie, Maria, Alessandro's oldest sister is really not fond of the English girl. The Italian Mum is also hard to impress, though she's kind and nice to Kate, it's no secret she'd like a good Italian wife for her only son. Rome is a wonderful place, but Kate is no tourist and she's gonna try hard to win her man. One of the reasons Maria dislikes her so much is the fact that Maria has plans of her own for her brother. There's nothing she'd like more than to see Alessandro get together with her friend. Orazia who'd make a perfect wife for him. She could even understand his working hours better, since she's a police officer herself.
The book opens with Lucetta getting married which is stressful for all the family members, including Kate, who will be meeting the whole family (400 wedding guests is not a small thing). All Kate wants is to be good for Alessandro and be accepted by his family. Kate is a lovable girl, she's trying hard to make ends meet and dreams of starting up her sewing business. She's very good at making dresses, though she's not that good when it comes to finances.
While I absolutely enjoyed reading about the Italian culture, their customs and the family bond between the members, I have to say I found the book a bit slow. It takes good 30% for things to start happening and it was then that I started enjoying the book. There's too much drama by the end, which I liked to certain extent however it was pretty much predictable.
What I liked about this book the most was the feel good factor, will the girl get her boy and show the world how great she is? That was what kept me reading. I wasn't the biggest fan of Kate however I liked her and appreciated her efforts to fit in though I think sometimes she tried too hard. I wish she was more ballsy and voiced her opinion more freely. I also wish there was more romance, but I guess I'll need to go back and read #1 in the series for that.
Overall, A Wedding in Italy is a cute, light, easy book perfect for a lazy weekend. While it isn't the most memorable book I've read this year, it certainly made me smile and feel good while reading it. I'd definitely read more from this author as I felt through the pages she's got something, that X factor needed in chick lit. Tilly knows how to create characters that will make you smile and feel entertained. ...more
Oh this was such an enjoyable book! The Cornish Escape is the second one by Lily Graham that I've read and while Originally posted on This Chick Reads
Oh this was such an enjoyable book! The Cornish Escape is the second one by Lily Graham that I've read and while I certainly enjoyed her first book, The Summer Escape, I found this one much deeper and layered story.
I've been reading a lot of dark and disturbing books lately, so this book was just what I needed. I did have some expectations, however it proved to be much better than anything I've thought it would be.
After 9 years of marriage Victoria's happy life is shattered. Her husband cheats on her with a much younger woman and she sees no way out of it but to escape...leave him for good. She's a successful autobiographer and due to her work she's traveled all around UK and feels this special bond with Cornwall. Naturally it is there she finds peace and starts anew. However, there are some secrets she'll reveal, secrets that span decades and go back to the previous owners of the house she buys in Cornwall.
At the worst time of her life she discovers Tilly's diary and letters and starts her own investigation on who exactly Tilly was and why is there so many rumors about the house she bought, some even calling it the Cursed House. Good thing is that Victoria is not really into rumors and love s a bit of mystery and research. She starts feeling Tilly so close to her, as if never meeting this young woman or the decades that lay between them didn't matter.
This was such an easy book to read. The author's writing and the short chapters with some diary entries and letters make it really dynamic and easy to follow. I was quite impressed with the mystery element. I thought the book would be all about Victoria reinventing herself and healing her broken heart, and while it certainly there's a lot of it about that, the story goes beyond. Tilly's story makes the book more complete, complex and layered and it sure made me intrigued enough to keep turning the pages.
The only reason why I've decided to give it 4* instead of 5* when it's obvious I enjoyed the book, is that I wasn't too pleased with the ending. For me, it felt a bit rushed and I do think a few more chapters could've helped and made it more enjoyable. But this could be totally me as I've seen a lot of reviewers loving the ending even being surprised by it.
To sum up, The Cornish Escape is one enjoyable, feel-good book I totally recommend. You'll simply be flying through it, devouring it in one sitting. The author picked the perfect setting, beautiful Cornwall and did an amazing job in transporting me to this place. If you're a fan of women's fiction with some mystery and drama, this is definitely the book for you....more