30 Jun 2019

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Book Review / To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Published:     11th July 1960
Publisher:  Harper
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, To Kill a Mockingbird
Source:  Owned


This has always been one of those books that I have been meaning to pick up but haven't got to yet and never had the chance to read it at school.  Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect.   I wanted to go into this story blind and even though this is a classic and most people have heard about it, I had not heard a great deal apart from the fact that it was a classic.   This book really surprised me and kept me thinking for a great deal of time after finishing the last page.    I think what also helped is that I listened to this on audio book which, for me, added so much more drama to the story I was able to appreciate it more than if I had read the words on a page. 

This is undeniably a very important book for obvious reasons.  The most obvious reason is the issues of race and discrimination that it deals with.    What I liked the most was that we were not following an adult as they either commit or investigate what is going on at the time.  We are following a child who is living in these times where what race you were made a difference to how you were treated.  We follow Scout, who at first I thought was a young boy and then realised a lot later on was a young girl (which added more depth to the story considering the content), whose father is a lawyer who is defending in a case that would change their lives forever. 

This is such an important read and one that should be read by everyone.

Why this book is not taught in all schools, I don't know...

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Book Review / Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other's sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected "until death do us part" to mean seven decades.

In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.

Published:    13th February 2018
Publisher:  Dial Press
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned


What I liked about this story...  I liked that this story depicted a fairly true to like picture of what being together with someone long term can really be like - flaws and all.  There was no fairy dust or magical unicorn to make things better.  Obviously, Sylvie and Dan have issues that they need to work on and it can be very easy to lose track on what's important in life. 

What I didn't like about this story..  For me, even though real life is not always a bed of roses and sometimes you can dig your head in the sand, there do come moments where you have to step up and deal with the issues you have in front of you.  In this story, it seemed like the main characters are doing all they can not to address those problems.  The fact that a particular plot point in the story comes up and both go into panic mode about it would, if I was one of those characters, make me want to step up and face reality.  If you are with someone for a long period of time, married or living together, its kind of a given that you will probably spend a lot more time together if not the rest of your lives.  Would it really be a surprise or put you into panic mode if something happens which means that this future would be a certainty?!  

Also, the ending for me was a bit predicable.  With a title like 'Surprise Me', I was hoping that I would be surprised a little bit also with the story, but I wasn't. 

In summary...  Not one of my favourites I am afraid.  I think this is more my personal moral judgement rather than the story itself, which was well written and easy to follow.  I was hoping for something a bit more light hearted and fun but unfortunately did not find it here. 

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26 Jun 2019

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Book Review / My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - Part love story, part workplace drama, this sharply observed novel is a witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world. New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella has written her most timely novel yet.

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie's life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle--from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she's trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she's desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she's finding her feet--not to mention a possible new romance--the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family's farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away--until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie's future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth.

Published:     7th February 2017
Publisher:  Bantam
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned


After reading so many fantasy and thriller style videos and particularly as summer is peaking around the corner (despite being typical English cloudy rainy weather), I thought it was about time I picked up something a bit more contemporary and light hearted.  For that, my go to author is Sophie Kinsella who always knows how to make me laugh at the same time as completely adoring the characters she writes about.  This book was no different.

The best part of this story for me was, simply put, the characters.  First of all, you have Katie who is the main character in this story.  She is working her way up in London to a job that she has dreamt off for so long, the only problem is that she works with a lot of people who aren't very nice and a boss that appears to simply not care at all about anyone elses' feelings.   Katie, by a long shot, was my favourite character in this story.  My second favourite has to be Demeter.  Yes, she is Katie's boss and the one who appears to not really care about anyone elses' feelings but she has so many layers that you only really discover until well over halfway in the story but finding out more about her story is definitely worth the wait.  

This book was so much fun.  I just could not stop turning over the pages until the very last one!   Exactly what I was looking for.  


Continue reading Book Review / My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

24 Jun 2019

Book Review / Next of Kin by L F Robertson

The third novel by L.F. Robertson, starring death row attorney Janet Moodie.

Janet Moodie, death-row attorney, is hired to work on the appeal of Sunny Ferrante, a glamorous woman who has been sentenced to death for arranging the murder of her wealthy husband. As Janet delves into the case, she becomes sure that that Sunny is innocent. But Sunny is hiding something. Who is she protecting--and is she really prepared to die to save them?

Published:     4th June 2019
Publisher:  Titan Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 3, Janet Moodie

Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


It is very rare for me nowadays to discover a new author that I love and can't wait to read the next book in the series or next book that they bring out.  LF Robertson is one of those authors for me.  The writing is so easy to follow, the descriptions of what is happening and characterisation is the perfect amount of giving you a bit but not over doing it and the plot keeps me turning the page to find out what happens next.

In this story, we are back with Janet Moodie, who is an attorney, and is hired to work on the appeal for a woman called Sunny Ferrante who has been sentenced to death for arranging the murder of her wealthy husband.  Little does Janet know that there is a lot more to this story than she bargained for. 

For me, this story was more about the journey of the case, what happened in the past and what is going to happen in the future rather than the actual plot reveal.  I thoroughly enjoyed the journey and all of the 'legal talk'. 

If you enjoy John Grisham's novels, you should give this author a try.  Although this is a third book in a series, you can certainly just pick this one up if you want to and it will not spoil the books that came before it and you won't be missing any of the story in this book by not reading the other books.  That said, I would highly recommend picking up the first two books in the series as you have Janet Moodie in both of those also and you can get a good feel for this character and her background too.

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9 Jun 2019


Book Review / Under Currents by Nora Roberts

For both Zane and Darby, their small town roots hold a terrible secret. Now, decades later, they've come together to build a new life. But will the past set them free or pull them under?

Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers―and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake―see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth, until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back...

Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.

Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.

Published:    9th July 2019
Publisher:  Piatkus
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


I am a big fan of Nora Roberts, both in her own name and writing as JD Robb.  I was so excited to dig into this one which is more of a thriller than a romance.  The main part of this story is the story of  Zane and his sister's family, both from what happened in the past, what happened in the present day and how the past has affected them.  Along with that, you have Darby who is a gifted landscape artist who was working on the family home when she meets Zane.  You have a bit of romance in this story (because what would a Nora Roberts story be without at least a little bit of romance) but the main part of the story, I believe, is centred around Zane and his family's past.

The most interesting part of this book for me was the way the issue of domestic abuse was dealt with, particularly through the children and how the effects of that kind of upbringing never leaves a child.   For me, it was also quite shocking to realise who the abuse was coming.  Obviously, I won't go into this too much as that would spoil a twist in the story that is better figured out when you are reading it  but I believe it highlights that you should not always assume that it is a certain person who is abusing.

The first half of this book concentrated on this story and then in the second part we move to present day where the children have grown up and are trying to get on with their lives.

There are certainly quite a few twists and turns in this book.  For me, I had already anticipated a lot of the twists and turns but this was more about the journey of the story and following the characters dealing with all they had to deal with from their part to their present day.
Very well dealt with and an interest read.  Would highly recommend.

Continue reading Book Review / Under Currents by Nora Roberts

2 Jun 2019

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SERIES REVIEW / Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her ... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Published:     2012 to 2018
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1 to 8, Throne of Glass
Source:  Owned


With the final book in this series now out, rather than just picking that up and reading it and as this series is one of my favourite ones of all time, I thought it would be a good idea to pick this up again right from the beginning.   I know that if I was to just pick up the final book, I would just end up spending a great deal of time at the start trying to remember and figure out what had gone on before.  I am so that glad I did.

What I didn't like about this series...  Despite the fact that I loved this series and have given it a full five starts, that doesn't mean that there were no aspect of it that I would have changed given the chance.  One of those for me was with the main character Celaena herself.  Yes, she is a hard ass trained assassin but at times it felt that she did not think too much about the actions she takes or the repercussions of her actions, leaving remaining characters to pick up the rest.  

What I liked about this series...  

The Writing -  Easy to read, follow and because of the type of complexity of the story you don't want to spend too much time trying to decipher fancy wording etc.  No fancy wording but great descriptions that helped build the world and characters in my own imagination.

The Characters - What I liked the most was the character progression and the different struggles they face as the story goes along, both in terms of the story and in terms of their own internal dialogue.  My favourite character was Chaol.  You see him at the start a bit grumpy and
very regimented on his position but also very loyal.  As the story goes on, he is still all of those things but we slowly see a lot more.

The Story - With each book, we learn more and more.  Even with Tower of Dawn when we take a 'break' from the main story and follow Chaol on his journey (that, of course, was one of my favourite stories of the whole series).  There were a few story lines that I enjoyed more than most.  One of them was the story of Chaol (as mentioned above), where he meets Celeana and goes on from there.  There are a few more but don't want to spoil the story for those who have not read all the series yet!

In Summary...  I loved this series.  It was one of those stories that I picked up and just could not put down until I reached the very last page of the last book.  I am so sad that this series has come to an end but very excited to see what Sarah J Maas has in store next!

Continue reading SERIES REVIEW / Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas