24 Mar 2022

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Book Review / The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

 


 The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans of "Downton Abbey," it's the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death, and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all.

The novel is full of secrets - some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier. It's also a meditation on memory and the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.
 

Published:     15th June 2007
Publisher:  Pan
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Bought

 

 


MY REVIEW

 

One of my missions this year is to read all of the novels written by Kate Morton.  This novel I had read previously, so this was a re-read, and it was just as a good as what I remembered it to be.  

What I loved about this book was the fact that the main character in this novel is not one of the rich people living at Riverton, but we follow a maid who joined after being recommended by her mother who had also worked at the house.   This novel is split over two time periods.  We have the past and what happened back then and we have the present where we see Grace, the maid, now an elderly lady in a nursing home remembering the past.  

There's nothing better for me than a book with a lot of secrets that need to be revealed.  This book certainly had its fair share of secrets!  If I had to have one criticism, and it really is only a tiny criticism, is that the novel was quite long at 484 pages.  It could have easily been 400 or a bit less and the story would have been just as good.

If you like a good novel with a lot of family history and secrets, this is the one to pick up.

 

 

 

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21 Mar 2022

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Book Review / The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett


 

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
  

Published:     2nd June 2020
Publisher:  Riverhead Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Bought

 

 


 MY REVIEW


I have to be honest and say that I bought this book purely because of the cover!  I knew nothing about the book or the author, having not read her other book.  I just knew that I had to buy it.  Yes I know it is probably best to know a bit about the book before you buy it or want to read it but, for me, that takes the fun out of it a little bit.  There's nothing better than picking up a book that you know nothing about and end up really enjoying the journey the author takes you on.

What I enjoyed the most about this story is that it shows that no two people are the same or have the same dreams.  Here you have twins who, clearly, have very different interests.  Life has also thrown some curve balls at them and has taken them down paths they really were not expecting.  I found it fascinating following both Stella and Desiree as they navigate their paths.  

For me, this was a slow paced read but with this type of story it fit perfectly.  I could sit back, relax and enjoy the journey.

Would highly recommend. 


 

 

 

 

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18 Mar 2022

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Book Review / Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer


 A fantasy series about a kingdom divided by corruption, the prince desperately holding it together, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it crashing down.

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents' shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King's Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion--it's the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most--but it's still not enough.

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King's Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it's even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first.
 

Published:     14th September 2021
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Defy the Night
Source:  Bought

 


MY REVIEW

 

I have read and thoroughly enjoyed by the Cursebreakers trilogy and Letters to the Lost  by this author, I knew that I had to check this out.  There's just something about this author's writing that always draws me in.

This was a very interesting start to either a trilogy or series, whatever it is planned to be.  With this first book, there is a lot to learn and a lot of characters introduced but there wasn't any point at which I thought it was too much that I couldn't retain the information or know all the characters when they pop up again.  There is a really impressive reveal/twist in this story that I wasn't expecting, which I won't reveal as I don't want to spoil the story for those who haven't read it, and on top of that you have a problem in this world where there's a sickness and the only known cure is an elixir made from a rare flower.  

I am now fully invested in finding out what on earth is going on and how are they going to save everyone from the sickness.  Can't wait for the next one!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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14 Mar 2022

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Book Review / Burning Girls by C J Tudor

 

An unconventional vicar moves to a remote corner of the English countryside, only to discover a community haunted by death and disappearances both past and present--and intent on keeping its dark secrets--in this explosive, unsettling thriller from acclaimed author C. J. Tudor.

Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself.

Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture. "But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known."

The more Jack and her daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.

But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village's bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider.

Published:     9th February 2021
Publisher:  Doubleday
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Bought
 

 


MY REVIEW

 

Having read and thoroughly enjoyed The Other People last year, I was really excited to pick up another book by this author.  There's nothing like finding a new author who you have the feeling it going to become one of your favourites.  C J Tudor is fast becoming one of mine and I am slowly working through each novel.

One of my favourite aspects of a good book is a secret history of any kind, whether that is a family history or a history of a town etc.  This book certainly has that!  This book kept me on the edge of my seat right the way through to the very last page. 

What I loved the most was finding out more of the village that Reverend Alex Brooks moves to and more about the villagers, some of whom are keeping secrets...

It is rarely the case that a thriller surprises me.  More often than not I guess what is going to happen well before the ending.  This novel kept it secrets right until the very end.  I certainly did not guess that ending until it was right upon me and I loved it!

I would highly recommend this novel.  If you haven't yet picked up a novel by this author, this one would be the perfect place to start!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / Burning Girls by C J Tudor

12 Mar 2022

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Book Review / Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult


 Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Gal├ípagos—days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.

But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It’s all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes.

Almost immediately, Diana’s dream vacation goes awry. The whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father’s suspicion of outsiders.

Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself—and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.

Published:     25th November 2021
Publisher:  Hodder & Stoughton
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Bought
 

 


MY REVIEW

 

The one thing that Jodi Picoult never fails to do for me is both surprise me and makes me think long after I have finished one of her books.  This book is no exception.

The one recommendation I would make is to not read any reviews or know too much about this story before you go into it.  Go into this book as blind as you can be and let the story take you on a journey.  

This is exactly what I did and boy was I thrown off my chair with surprise.  There is a massive plot twist in this story that I didn't see coming and I loved it!

I am not going to go into any more detail or give reasons to avoid spoilers completely but just to say you need to pick this book up immediately!  This book is one of my favourites of both this year and of all time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Mar 2022

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Book Review / Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham (aka Sopkie Kinsella)


 

Roxanne: glamorous, self-confident, with a secret lover -- a married man

Maggie: capable and high-achieving, until she finds the one thing she can't cope with -- motherhood

Candice: honest, decent, or so she believes -- until a ghost from her past turns up

At the first of every month, when the office has reached its pinnacle of hysteria, Maggie, Roxanne, and Candice meet at London's swankiest bar for an evening of cocktails and gossip. Here, they chat about what's new at The Londoner, the glossy fashion magazine where they all work, and everything else that's going on in their lives. Or almost everything. Beneath the girl talk and the laughter, each of the three has a secret. And when a chance encounter at the cocktail bar sets in motion an extraordinary chain of events, each one will find their biggest secret revealed.

Published:     19th August 2010
Publisher:  Black Swan
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Bought.




MY REVIEW

 

So I have finally made it to the last Madeleine Wickham book written.  For those of you who have been following this journey, you know that I am not having the best of time with these novels and I am really sad about that.  I am not sure if there are going to be any more novels written under this pen name, but this is the last one I am going to pick up.

I am happy to say that we are ending on a good note though.  I did enjoy this one.  The cast of characters wasn't too great and I was invested enough to really want to follow the story and see what happens.  You have the three main characters who each have their own secrets and we get to explore those and see those played out.  

I was hoping that this would be a good story that was also fun to read and it was that.  Yes, it was predictable but that was ok.

This is not a story that I would pick up again but did enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham (aka Sopkie Kinsella)

7 Mar 2022

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Book Review / The Tennis Party by Madeleine Wickham (aka Sophie Kinsella)


It was Patrick's idea that they should have the tennis party. After all, he has the perfect setting -- the White House, bought out of his bonuses as an investment banker. He hasn't actually told Caroline, his brash and beautiful wife, what the real reason for the party is. She is glad to welcome Stephen and Annie, their impoverished former neighbours, less glad to see newly wealthy Charles and his aristocratic wife Cressida, and barely able to tolerate the deadly competitive Don and Valerie.

But as the first ball is served over the net it signals the start of two days of tempers, shocks, revelations, the arrival of an uninvited guest, and the realization that the weekend is about anything but tennis.

 

Published:     9th June 2011
Publisher:  Black Swan
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Bought

 

 


MY REVIEW

 

OK, so I am on a roll with these novels now.  Since I am not really enjoying them as much as I thought I would I am just going to read them one after the other just to say that I have read them.  I wouldn't normally continue if not for the fact that I absolutely love Sophie Kinsella's main novels and as one of my favourite authors I like to say that I have read all her novels, including those I don't necessary get on with.

Honestly, I didn't have a lot of fun with this one.  There were far too many characters and of those many many characters that were in this novel I didn't really connect or care about any of them or their stories.  There was a certain point in the middle of this book where I just was bored and my interest never really came back again.   

I wish I had loved this more because I adore the author but this was just not for me. 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Mar 2022

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Book Review / A Desirable Residence by Madeleine Wickham (aka Sophie Kinsella)


 

Liz and Jonathan Chambers were in trouble. Mortgage trouble. They'd stretched themselves to busting with their new exciting project - well, Liz thought it exciting - buying and managing the Silchester Tutorial College, and now couldn't sell their old house. Here they were, stuck with two mortgages, mounting debts and a miserable adolescent daughter who hadn't wanted to move anyway.

Then Marcus Witherstone came into their lives - and at first it seemed he would solve all their problems. Marcus, senior partner in Silchester's leading estate agency, was large, assured, and wore an expensive overcoat. He knew the perfect tenants from London who would rent their old house - glamorous PR girl Ginny and almost-famous Piers. Everything was going to be OK.

But soon Marcus found himself involved with Liz in a way he'd never intended. Keeping his adulterous trysts secret from Anthea was uncomfortably easy - most of the time her head was firmly buried in Improve your Child's IQ. Meanwhile, as Liz was lost in blissful dreams of Marcus, Jonathan was left to run the tutorial college. Neither of them had time to notice that teenage Alice was developing a desperate passion for the tenants, Piers and Ginny.

Everyone seemed to be entangled with everyone else, in the most awkward possible way. And as events closed in on him, Marcus began to realise that some deceptions are just a bit too close to home.

 

Published:     27th October 2011
Publisher:  Black Swan
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Bought

 

 


MY REVIEW

 

After reading Swimming Pool Sunday, I have to be honest and say that I didn't have high hopes for this novel.  I had to say that, but its true.  With Swimming Pool Sunday I had figured out that the usual sense of humour that I love with Sophie Kinsella novels would be missing from these novels written under the pen name.  Knowing and expecting that, I did enjoy this novel a bit more.

What I enjoyed the most about this novel was that it wasn't concentrating necessarily on a whole cast of characters but a few.  Mainly, we are following Liz and Jonathan as they navigate their financial troubles and try and find a way out of it.  Of course things do not go according to plan and of course there are a lot more problems that crop up along the way.

I still didn't connect with any of the characters enough to be fully invested in the story.

This was an OK read but not one that I would pick up again.  


 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / A Desirable Residence by Madeleine Wickham (aka Sophie Kinsella)

1 Mar 2022

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Book Review / Swimming Pool Sunday by Madeleine Wickham (aka Sophie Kinsella)


 One shimmeringly hot Sunday in May, the Delaneys open their pool to the whole village for charity. Louise is there with her daughters, and while the children splash and shriek in the cool blue waters, she basks in the sunshine, attempting to ignore her estranged husband and dreaming of the new man in her life, a charismatic lawyer. The day seems perfect.

Then a sudden and shocking accident changes everyone's lives forever. Recriminations start to fly. Whose fault was it? Louise's new lover insists that she sues the Delaneys. Her ex-husband isn't so sure. Opinion in the village is split. Old friendships start to crumble. New ones are formed. Will the repercussions from the accident ever end?

Published:     3rd November 1997
Publisher:  Corgi
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Bought


 

MY REVIEW

 

Sophie Kinsella is a firm favourite for me, having loved most of her novels and enjoy both her style of writing and her sense of humour.  I had gone along for many years thinking that I had read most of her novels but then discovered in the past year or two that she had also written some novels, quite some time ago, under a pen name.  I knew that I had to give them a go.

I am not sure why she chose a pen name for this particular novel because it seems similar to her 'main' novels, the only difference I can see is that this has a cast of characters rather than a certain number of them and the sense of humor that I love in her main novels was missing from this. 

I really wanted to like this novel but, honestly, this was an OK story for me.  I enjoyed following the story and seeing what would happen after the accident but I didn't connect with any of the characters, so, honestly, wasn't really bothered one way or another what happened (except for the children, which I did feel sorry for...).   If this novel had a dose of the well known Kinsella sense of humour then maybe I would have enjoyed it more than I did.  

That said, this is not going to stop me from picking up the other novels written under this pen name because I am certainly intrigued to see what I think of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / Swimming Pool Sunday by Madeleine Wickham (aka Sophie Kinsella)