Another wonderful gripping and engaging read from Diane Chamberlain with plenty of twists and turns throughout the novel. It was well-written and extr...moreAnother wonderful gripping and engaging read from Diane Chamberlain with plenty of twists and turns throughout the novel. It was well-written and extremely thought provoking. I loved all the main characters and most of the supporting characters. All the characters were well developed, likable and really believable. I found the eugenic sterilisation programme to be quite shocking and disturbing and I can't believe that it was still being practiced in the USA until as recently as 1974. The only bad things I have to say about this book was that the ending seemed a bit rushed. I wanted to know more details about what happened to Jane and Ivy over the years and I wished the author had let us know what happened to William. I'm wondering if Diane is planning a sequel to this novel featuring William? (less)
Set in London, England during the late 19th Century, The Tea Rose tells the tale of Fiona Finnegan. Fiona is the spirited, ambitious daughter of an Ir...moreSet in London, England during the late 19th Century, The Tea Rose tells the tale of Fiona Finnegan. Fiona is the spirited, ambitious daughter of an Irish dock worker. She longs to break free from the squalid lanes and alleys of Whitechapel, where she has grown up and now has a job in a tea factory. With the love of her life, Joe Bristow, Fiona dreams of escaping the poverty and opening her own tea shop. But one by one her dreams fall apart as her father is killed in a dock accident, Joe is seduced by another woman, and her mother is viciously murdered – a suspected victim of Jack the Ripper.
Devastated, her life in tatters, Fiona flees to New York City where she sets up home with her alcoholic uncle Michael. Slowly she builds his small grocery shop into a thriving business and tea house, and her new life flourishes. After ten years of hard work, she establishes herself as the head of her own powerful tea empire. But she cannot forget London – or Joe. Convinced that her father was murdered by his brutal employer, Fiona vows to seek revenge and ruin him once and for all. Making her way back to the streets of her impoverished childhood, Fiona must start her fight again.
The Tea Rose is an extremely well-researched and well-written novel which is packed full of unexpected twists and turns throughout the story. I really enjoyed this novel. I thought this book was very gripping, intriguing and engrossing tale and I found it very hard to put it down for long. I couldn't wait to find out what happened next! The descriptions of Victorian London were very vivid and I found it very easy to picture how the city looked in the 1880's thanks to these.
I fell in love with all the main characters. They were all so interesting, compelling and very well-developed, especially Fiona. She was such a fierce, strong, intelligent and brave character. The secondary characters were wonderful too. There were ones you love to love and ones you love to hate and I loved the way the author wove Jack the Ripper into the story.
I absolutely enjoyed this book! As soon as I finished this novel I brought the sequel, The Winter Rose, on my Kindle and I'm really looking forward to reading it! I will definitely be reading more of Jennifer Donnelly books, apart from this series, too sometime in the near future.
Set in Seattle, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet tells of the forbidden friendship between a Chinese-American boy named Henry Lee and a Japanes...moreSet in Seattle, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet tells of the forbidden friendship between a Chinese-American boy named Henry Lee and a Japanese-American girl named Keiko Okabe during the Second World War. Henry and Keiko are both just twelve years old when they become friends in 1942. Life is difficult for both of them. They face racism and prejudice on a daily basis and Henry's father does not approve of the friendship. After the devastation of Pearl Harbour, the US government decides to send all the people of Japanese decent to live in internment camps until the war is over. Henry and Keiko find themselves separated.
I really loved this book! Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a beautiful, fascinating, tender and moving story from beginning to end. Like the title suggests, the story is such a bitter-sweet tale, heartbreaking at times and so warm and sweet in others. This novel is set during two time periods, the 1940's and 1986. I found both periods equally compelling to read about. It is incredibly rare to find a historical fiction novel about World War Two that isn't set in Europe! Before reading this book, I knew nothing about how badly the Japanese in America were treated during the war. I was quite shocked by this. I have to admit I cried a few times while reading this book!
All the characters were vivid, well-developed and realistic. I really loved the characters of Henry, Keiko and Sheldon, and really cared about what happened to them. I've just got one gripe with the novel. I would have liked to know what happened in Keiko's life during the intervening years while they were apart.
I found it really hard to put this novel down and I look forward to reading more from this author!
Set in the small village of Caulfield in Ontario during the winter of 1867, The Tenderness of Wolves tells the story of a woman's journey into the Can...moreSet in the small village of Caulfield in Ontario during the winter of 1867, The Tenderness of Wolves tells the story of a woman's journey into the Canadian wilderness to find her missing seventeen year old son Francis, who has disappeared after a man, who was a friend of her son's, was found brutally murdered.
First off, I don't know why the author gave the novel this title as wolves do not figure in the plot much at all. They are mentioned once or twice but that's about it!
The plot was engaging and compelling at the beginning of the novel, but for about 100 pages or so in the middle it suddenly got very slow and boring, but it did pick up again in the last quarter of the novel. I thought the location of the novel was interesting. I loved the setting and the vivid descriptions of pioneer life in the Canadian wilderness in the mid-nineteenth century.
At times, the novel got extremely confusing! I loved most of Penney's characters but there was simply too many of them. I found it hard to keep track of all of them. I wished Penney had thinned these out as a lot of these "extra" characters weren't vital to the plot. I don't know why she included so many of these characters! She should have spent more time developing the characters that were central to the plot!
Stef Penney wrote all of her characters in the first person so sometimes it wasn't clear which character was doing the talking! Because of this I had to go back and re-read multiple chapters to figure out what was happening in the story. Very annoying!
The ending of the novel was very abrupt. There were TOO MANY loose ends. I desperately wanted some romance in this novel to balance the story out! (view spoiler)[ I wanted Mrs Ross and William Parker to add on the romantic feelings they were developing for each other. I wanted Mrs Ross to confront her husband over his affair and his treatment of their son and leave him! I wanted to know more about how Mrs Ross's relationship with her husband had fallen apart. I wanted to know Maria and Jacob's reactions to Moody's death. I wanted Elizabeth Bird to meet her aunt and her cousins. I wanted a final scene where Francis and his mother were reunited. I wanted to know what happened to Amy Seton. I was convinced she was one of the setters in the Norwegian village! I wanted to know how Mrs Ross had managed to leave the asylum in Scotland. Did they let her go? Had she escaped? (hide spoiler)]
This novel wasn't as good as all the hype made it out to be. I think Ms Penney should fire her editor. Jane Wood did definitely not do a good job editing this book! Good editing would have fixed most of the problems with this novel. But overall, I felt it was a good attempt at a first novel by the author. It was an interesting and mostly enjoyable read but it's a shame the ending is very unsatisfying. However, I would read another novel by this author. I think she has potential.
PS: If you want to know what Mrs Ross's first name is it is on page 170 of the paperback version. It's in the paragraph where she describes Parker's dogs :)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The Secret Keeper is a beautifully written historical fiction novel. It has a gripping and original plot with just enough twists and turns to keep the...moreThe Secret Keeper is a beautifully written historical fiction novel. It has a gripping and original plot with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader interested. The novel was also very well-researched. I thought the various time shifts in the novel were handed quite well and I found the story very easy to follow.
Kate Morton has a tendency to go into too much detail at times. The novel is 600 pages long but the story could have been written in under 400 pages. There were a lot of unnecessary, long-winded details describing the various settings of the novel. I felt it slowed the story down in places, especially at the beginning.
The characters were all interesting, vivid, realistic and well-developed. Some were likable, others were not. I loved the characters of Laurel, Jimmy and Vivien (I think I like her the best!) but I really despised Dorothy Smitham and Henry Jenkins.
The big reveal at the end completely surprised me! (view spoiler)[ I did think all along that Vivien had managed to survive somehow. From about 70% through the novel, I began to suspect that maybe she might have ran away to Australia with Jimmy. I definitely wasn't expecting Vivien to end up where she did! (hide spoiler)] I did like the ending though and it did bring a smile to my face!!
There is one major flaw in the story that annoyed me though – near the end of the first chapter. Don't click on this spoiler until you've finished reading the novel because it will definitely spoil the whole ending for you: (view spoiler)[When Henry Jenkins finds Vivien after 20 years why does he call her "Dorothy"? That did not make sense! I could understand him calling her "Dorothy" if other people where around just to intimate her, but, since he thought they were alone together, he would have logically called her by the name he knew her as! Vivien!! And how did Laurel and her siblings not recognise their mother's handwriting in that Peter Pan novel? I know my own mother's handwriting a mile off! Everyone knows their own mother's writing! (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Basically the storyline of the novel is Gone With the Wind from Rhett Butler's point of view and it was a bit of a disappointment really. Gone With th...moreBasically the storyline of the novel is Gone With the Wind from Rhett Butler's point of view and it was a bit of a disappointment really. Gone With the Wind is one of my favourite novels and I found all the characters in RBP, even the major ones of Rhett and Scarlett, are out of character. There is also a lot of errors that contradict the original, characters dying when they lived in GWTW and vice versa, Melanie knowing about Scarlet being in love with her husband, etc. As a standalone historical fiction novel, Rhett Butler's People is okay but as a complement to Gone With the Wind it sucks! (less)
Set in 1912, The Dressmaker tells the story of Tess Collins, an aspiring dressmaker, who manages to find a job working for the world renowned dress de...moreSet in 1912, The Dressmaker tells the story of Tess Collins, an aspiring dressmaker, who manages to find a job working for the world renowned dress designer Lady Lucile Duff-Gordon as a maid while she and her husband travel to America on board the Titanic. On board the ship, Tess meets two men, one an older but handsome Millionaire and the other an attractive, kind and good-hearted sailor and develops feelings for both of them. This is a tale about the aftermath of the disaster and about Tess, her dreams for her career as a dress designer and finding love.
The Dressmaker is an engrossing, compelling and well-written story of the aftermath of the Titanic's sinking with interesting and well-developed characters. It is a mostly fictional book set around factual events. I really enjoyed this novel. It was very hard to put it down. I loved all the historical details about the Titanic and its survivors. I liked this unique take on the Titanic disaster. Not many books about the Titanic sinking feature the aftermath of it and how survivors try to deal with what happened and move on.
Most of the characters were quite likable and easy to relate to. The character I liked best of all was Pinky Wade. The Duff-Gordon's and Elinor Glyn weren't likable at all. The three of them came off as being cold and manipulating. I had complicated feelings for some of the characters. I really liked the character of Tess but sometimes she annoyed me. Tess was very fickle at times and I got pissed off at her and just wanted her to make up her mind already! (view spoiler)[I wished Tess had chosen Jack over Jim. I loved Jim but I felt that Tess and Jack just seemed to be a better couple. They suited each other better. I was hoping Jim would end up with Pinky. Pinky seemed to be falling for Jim throughout the novel and I thought she deserved Jim more than Tess did. (hide spoiler)]
This book was a great attempt of a debut novel and I look forward to reading more from this author!
Set in 1914 at the beginning of the First World War, after the sinking of the Empress Alexandra a group of 39 people are left adrift in a lifeboat, bu...moreSet in 1914 at the beginning of the First World War, after the sinking of the Empress Alexandra a group of 39 people are left adrift in a lifeboat, built to hold far less, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean for 21 days. This tale is told retrospectively from the point of view of Grace Winter, a 22 year old newlywed, who manages to find a place on a lifeboat. But the lifeboat she's found herself on is overloaded and in danger of sinking, there isn't enough food and water for everyone on board, soon some of the passengers are discussing "volunteers" to go overboard. Some may need to die if the rest are to survive.
The Lifeboat is the debut novel of author Charlotte Rogan. It is a compelling, gripping and extremely thought-provoking tale. This novel tells the story of survival at its most basic level. It explores human nature and morality. It shows what happens to people while they are fighting to stay alive. The novel is a psychological thriller really. The book is very well-written. I really loved the author's writing style. I was completely engrossed in this novel from the very first page. The way in which Charlotte Rogan describes the moral decisions the characters have to make is quiet chilling. With everyone weak from hunger, in despair over their situation on the lifeboat, fearing they won't be rescued and they'll die out there, all the characters find their behaviour, beliefs and morals being tested to the limit. It's extremely terrifying. You can't help but finding yourself wondering "would I do the same in that situation?"
Grace was an unreliable narrator, which I thought added to the story by making it all the more shocking. Even by the end of the novel, I wasn't sure what to make of Grace. Was she as innocent as she appeared to be? Or was she frighteningly manipulative? In parts of the novel, Grace seems to be surprisingly honest in revealing her negative thoughts and feelings about the other passengers in the lifeboat, along with her worries about her husband's survival. You are left wondering if what Grace is telling you is the whole truth, deliberate lies, or the effects that shock, starvation and exhaustion are having on her mind. She's a very complicated character.
I'm sure we all hope we’d behave better if we were in a similar situation but this novel poses some interesting moral questions: if you're own survival was at stake, how far would you go to ensure you were the last one left standing?
I can't wait to read more from this author! Four stars! (less)
Set in Albany New York during the American Civil War in the 1860's, Mary Sutter is a renowned and respected midwife. However, her fascination with med...moreSet in Albany New York during the American Civil War in the 1860's, Mary Sutter is a renowned and respected midwife. However, her fascination with medicine doesn't end there and she dreams of maybe, someday becoming a surgeon, an almost impossible ambition for a woman of that era. Mary is repeatedly turned down for admission to numerous medical schools for simply being a woman. When Dorothea Dix persuades Abraham Lincoln to allow her to recruit a band of female nurses to serve alongside the army doctors, Mary travels to Washington D.C. to secure a position in an army hospital in the hope that this will help her establish a medical career.
I'm a big fan of historical fiction, and this novel is historical fiction at its best. This is a novel that will both move and anger you. It was a very compelling and enthralling story, particularly the fact that Mary Sutter was an unconventional heroine in some respects, but such a strong woman underneath it all. There were quite a few twists and turns in the novel and I found I was unable to put this book down for long, I kept turning the pages hoping Mary would eventually achieve her dream and I kept wondering which man Mary would choose (three men were in love with her during the course of the novel). The level of historical detail in this novel was amazing. It is clear that the medical and civil war aspects of the novel were extremely well-researched. I found the depth of research and work the author put into this novel was simply astounding.
All of Robin Oliveira's characters were vivid, well-developed and extremely likable. I really loved how the protagonist's character evolved throughout the novel. Mary does seem quite shy and awkward at the beginning of the novel but she's filled with a fierce determination to succeed. Mary overcomes her obstacles managing to achieve her dream of becoming a strong and confident doctor in a time that was not at all friendly to women in general. I found Mary's character to be extremely admirable and quite courageous.
I enjoyed this novel immensely and I absolutely loved the main character. My Name is Mary Sutter has become one of my favourite novels. I look forward to reading more from Robin Oliveira in the future.
Beware, the war and medical descriptions are quite graphic so if you are the slightest bit squeamish then this isn't the novel for you. (less)
This novel was my favourite Stephen King book in a long time!
King's earlier works were absolutely brilliant but I have been disappointed with his mor...moreThis novel was my favourite Stephen King book in a long time!
King's earlier works were absolutely brilliant but I have been disappointed with his more recent novels. But 11.22.63 is a return to his former greatness!
11.22.63 is both a terrific time-travel tale and a well-researched historical fiction novel. The concept is very clever and such a fantastic premise and King manages to keep the intrigue and tension going all the way through the story, right up to the very last page. The characters are written beautifully. They were believable and sympathic, and Jake's dilemma is a heart-wrenching one. The setting of the late 50's/early 60's America is so detailed you could almost imagine you were there. I truly loved this novel. Five stars. (less)
This was a great novel that had me engrossed from beginning to end. It's an anti-hero story where you root for both of them. I think it definitely des...moreThis was a great novel that had me engrossed from beginning to end. It's an anti-hero story where you root for both of them. I think it definitely deserved its Booker Prize short listing and I look forward to Patrick deWitt's next book. (less)
**spoiler alert** I'm a huge fan of Stephen King and The Green Mile has got to be one of the best novels he has ever written. In fact, it's one of the...more**spoiler alert** I'm a huge fan of Stephen King and The Green Mile has got to be one of the best novels he has ever written. In fact, it's one of the best novels I have ever read in my entire life and a great piece of literature to boot!
The novel is simply amazing. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down! It is very beautifully written and extremely moving at times. The plot is original, gripping and heart-breaking. All the characters had depth, and were vivid, intriguing, and believable. The story is told so well that it was easy to imagine yourself in Cold Mountain Penitentiary in Alabama back in 1932.
It takes a terrific writer to evoke feelings of sympathy for murderers, but Stephen King managed this effortlessly. I wished that John Coffey would be set free somehow, but I knew deep down that he would die. I had tears streaming down my face when he was executed. The novel left me thinking about the death penalty and whether it's time it should be abolished worldwide. I've developed quite a convinced moral stance against the death penalty thanks to reading this novel. My country doesn't have the death penalty so I never really thought much about it until I read this book.
I'd give this book more than five stars if I could!(less)