Friday, 21 July 2017

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah

The A to Z of You and MeThe A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is a striking literary debut of love and mortality perfect for fans of quirky, heart-wrenching fiction like Nathan Filer, David Nicholls and Rachel Joyce. Ivo has all kinds of everyday joy in his life - he's young, he's in love, he has friends who promise to stand by him if life ever goes wrong. Then one day, life does go wrong. He makes a mistake, and it's big and unforgiveable. Now time is running out and his life is falling apart. But he's going to put it together again. His own way.

This is a story about how far love must stretch to gather a life in pieces. And how strong friendship never dies.

Oh dear, another deeply depressing and maudlin novel. I like to read for escapism, entertainment, mystery and intrigue not to read about terminally ill people who spending their days in a hospice with no visitors or friends resort to playing a game of A-Z and a memory that goes with it. I really didn't connect with this book, it was too depressing, I skim read it and although the author tried it was just too miserable for me to keep going. Ivo was very self indulgent seeming not to take responsibility for the situation he finds himself in and therefore not very likeable. Dreary, dull and uninspiring I could not recommend it giving it only 1 star for effort.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

The Light We LostThe Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Two people. One choice. What if?

Every love story has a beginning…

11th September 2001. Lucy and Gabe meet in New York on a day that will change their lives – and the world – forever. As the city burns behind them, they kiss for the very first time.

Over the next thirteen years they are torn apart, then brought back together, time and time again. It’s a journey of dreams, of desires, of jealousy, of forgiveness – and above all, love.

And as Lucy is faced with a devastating choice, she wonders whether their love is a matter of destiny or chance.

…what if this is how their story ends?

Sorry not for me. This was achingly slow and characters lacked depth; I didn't engage with them or the story and it became very boring very quickly. I skim read most of it - essentially its' about a love affair between two people Lucy and Gabe told from Lucy to Gabe - it starts with a tragedy of 9/11 and frankly for me it was a tragedy of a novel. Characters lacked realism and depth, the atmosphere of the novel was doom and gloom and I ended up not caring what happened to either of them in the end.

Very transparent with an ending that was lack lustre and an overall uninspiring drab read. Can only give his one 2 stars - instantly forgettable.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga, #1)And I Darken by Kiersten White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.

Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.

The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she'll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

A Young Adult book and I guess it helps if you are a young adult reading it. I never really bought into the kind of myths and legends genre so it was a stretch on believability having said that it is darkly addictive although I do wonder at the intensity and hidden depths of young minds in reading this. Set in Transylvania at the height of the Ottoman Empire it tells the story of Lada Dracul who was abandoned with her brother Radu by their father to be bought up in the Ottoman Sultan's court. Lada has learned at an early age that ruthlessness is the key to survival and success and their lineage makes her and her brother targets.

Lada is one tough cookie, ruthless, driven to take revenge on the empire that is holding her captive but when she meets the sultans' son Mehmed she is torn between her feelings as they inevitably become rivals. Lada is the epitome of the feminist heroine, fierce, resilient but with all the feminine wiles that will get her what she wants.

Good descriptive passages this is set in eastern Europe and peppered with different religions and traditions interwoven with complex relationships which makes this a compulsive read. Clever linking to historical and political events this adds to the authenticity of the novel and guides the reader along a fast paced addictive journey. Young adults will love it and even skeptics like me will be hooked - great storytelling has to have a 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5* for Goodreads and Amazon.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 17 July 2017

The Reminders by Val Emmich

The RemindersThe Reminders by Val Emmich
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Overcome with the loss of his boyfriend Sydney, Gavin Winters has set fire to every reminder in their home. A neighbour has captured the blaze on video, turning this little-known TV actor into a household name. Gavin flees LA for New Jersey, where he hopes that ten-year-old Joan, the daughter of a close friend, can reconnect him with the memories of Sydney he is now in danger of losing for ever.
Joan was born with a rare ability to recall every single day of her life in perfect detail, and in return for sharing her memories of Sydney, Gavin will help her write a song for a local competition. For Joan has had enough of being the girl who can't forget – she wants to be the girl who will never be forgotten . . .
Charming, beautifully observed, poignant and funny, The Reminders by actor and musician Val Emmich is an irresistible story of the unlikely friendship between a grief-stricken man who can’t remember and a ten-year-old girl who can’t forget.

Joan Lennon Sully is a ten year old little girl with HSAM - Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory which means she is one of the very few people in the world who can remember exactly everything that has happened in her life including events, dates, and conversations which she can relay verbatim.

She loves the Beatles and enters a song writing contest helped by her father and new actor friend. Gavin the actor friend finds her to be sometimes tiresome and annoying and finds himself traipsing all over town searching for clues to a mystery.

To be honest not much goes on and it was a bit schmaltzy for me - very sweet but just a little too much saccharine which made it hard for me to really like this novel. Sorry only a 2 stars from me.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Before Everything by Victoria Redel

Before EverythingBefore Everything by Victoria Redel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Anna, Molly, Ming, Caroline, Helen: the Old Friends.

Since adopting their official name aged eleven, they have seen each other through careers, children, illnesses, marriage, divorce, addiction, fame, fall outs.

But now, Anna - fiercely loved mother and friend, and the Old Friends' glue - is diagnosed with cancer again, and this time, tired of recoveries and relapses, pitying looks and exhausting regimes, she simply says: no more.

As her health declines, the politics of the still lived-in world merge with memories of the past while each Old Friend tries to accept the truth of what is happening: they are losing someone they cannot imagine life without.

Before Everything is a celebration of friendship and love between a group of wonderful women.

End of sixth grade they made it their official name. It was a joke one afternoon but they liked the way it sounded. Permanent. The Old Friends. This way, the five girls agree, it's just a fact. And ours forever.

Sorry not my type of read at all. Very maudlin tale about five firm friends since school who gather together to say their final goodbyes to their friend Anna who having to face recurring cancer has decided she will not seek further treatment and enters a hospice. It was told from each of the five friends' perspective going back and forth to reveal their enduring friendship. It was executed well but I like to have a book that gives me a little entertainment and this was not it. The subject matter was just too heavy for me. Because I wouldn't have chosen it to read and it was sent for an honest review I must say it was well written and sympathetically done and for that I would give it 3 stars but not one for me .

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson

Island of SecretsIsland of Secrets by Patricia Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'The story started at dawn on the fourteenth of September, 1943 . . .'

All her life, London-born Angelika has been intrigued by her mother's secret past. Now planning her wedding, she feels she must visit the remote Crete village her mother grew up in.

Angie's estranged elderly grandmother, Maria, is dying. She welcomes Angie with open arms - it's time to unburden herself, and tell the story she'll otherwise take to her grave.

It's the story of the Nazi occupation of Crete during the Second World War, of horror, of courage and of the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children. And it's the story of bitter secrets that broke a family apart, and of three enchanting women who come together to heal wounds that have damaged two generations.

Set during the Second World War years in Greece the story takes place on the island of Crete where Angie returns to her birthplace to visit her elderly grandmother Maria much against the wishes of her own mother. Maria wants to make her peace before she dies to tell Angie the terrible story that she does not want to take to her grave.

German occupation of the island during the war reveals some terrible stories that are based on the mostly true stories told by the elderly women of Amiras. This was mixed nicely with the culture and traditions of this village. Gradually as secrets are revealed we piece together the past. Good characterisation and vivid descriptive passages bring this story to life. A little flitting between past and present did make it a bit tricky to maintain continuity but it didn't spoil what was otherwise a good read. Some good twists and mysteries carefully revealed make this a worthwhile read. Not my usual genre but does get a well deserved 4 stars.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Good Girlfriend's Guide to Getting Even by Anna Bell

The Good Girlfriend's Guide to Getting EvenThe Good Girlfriend's Guide to Getting Even by Anna Bell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Lexi's sport-mad boyfriend Will skips her friend's wedding to watch football - after pretending to have food poisoning - it might just be the final whistle for their relationship.

But fed up of just getting mad, Lexi decides to even the score. And, when a couple of lost tickets and an 'accidentally' broken television lead to them spending extra time together, she's delighted to realise that revenge might be the best thing that's happened to their relationship.

And if her clever acts of sabotage prove to be a popular subject for her blog, what harm can that do? It's not as if he'll ever find out . . .

Chiclits are not my usual read although I must confess to being a Sophie Kinsella and Jane Costello fan so when I saw this was recommended for these authors fans I had to read it. I really enjoyed the humour and some laugh out loud moments that this entertaining book had.

Lexi's sporting mad boyfriend Will skips her best friends' wedding to go and watch his favourite team play football and is captured on camera which is then sent to Lexi while she is at the wedding. Believing her boyfriend to be at home with a stomach bug she is incensed and hell bent on revenge. What follows are some hilarious escapades while she tries to prevent him from enjoying his various sporting pursuits.

In addition to sabotaging all sporting events Lexi is also writing a blog about it to which she gets hundreds of reviews. The more she posts the more reviews she gets, she believes Will won't ever read it so where's the harm. She is conscious that she is painting a very one sided picture of Will and is slightly guilty of this yet she carries on, you can see how this is going to spiral out of control.

Good characters who all seem to gel with each other, great hilarity and good observational techniques.

Things come to a head but you'll have to read it yourself to find out whether it is a happy ending or not.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.