The Anniversary by Hilary Boyd / Blog Tour

The Anniversary by Hilary Boyd

 

 

38470197Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 20th September 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

A deeply emotional new novel from the bestselling author of Thursdays in the Park

Is the one you tried to forget the one you can’t live without?

Stella once thought that if she never saw Jack again, it would be too soon.

But life has other plans for her and her stubborn, handsome ex-husband.

Looking after their daughter in a time of need, Stella finds herself unwillingly reunited with the man she shared the best years of her life with – followed by the worst.

Where tragedy once tore them apart, now Stella and Jack are being drawn back together. But each of them has a new partner and a new life.

Should they fight temptation?

Should the past remain the past?

Or are some loves simply meant to be?

Rating: four-stars

Stella and Jack used to be the perfect couple – happy and totally in love. Until one day, when the tragedy happened. After that, their marriage has slowly started to fall to pieces  to eventually end in divorce. Fast forward many years and they both live their own lives with new partners and even though they have a daughter, they don’t often meet. However, it’s going to change – Eve is pregnant and needs their help. As there are many unfinished business between them, are they going to rekindle their friendship – or more – for the sake of Eve and their grandson Arthur? What is going to happen? Can they put the past to rest and focus on the present, or look even further, in the future? 

I think the author has brilliantly captured the way relationships work, and admittedly different kinds of relationships. No matter if it was a marriage or mother – daughter, or exes, if people involved were young or older, they always sounded completely realistic, with all their ups and downs and thousands of problems – the book explores them all, in a true to life way. Because of this, the characters also felt so very honest and genuine and it was really easy to fell for them and to root for them. They made mistakes and they often pushed you to your own limits, often I didn’t understand their decisions, but they were all the time real and genuine in this what they’re doing. 

Hilary Boyd’s writing style is simply beautiful. I immediately felt a part of this story. She paints a very realistic portrait of family’s dynamics. There were moments and scenes where I literally had a lump in my throat and felt my heart breaking into thousands little pieces – the book is sad, yes, it’s also sometimes tragic but it is also full of light, hope and it’s uplifting, and all those feelings and emotions are perfectly balanced. She writes so perceptively and brings all the emotions and feelings effortlessly to the pages.

My only problem was that the book was simply too long. The idea has been reformulated and remodelled through many different words, situations, events and there came a moment it was like chewing a gum, it felt as if we were going around in circles, as if the author has been trying hard to built on more elements to something that is already completely utilised. But altogether, “The Anniversary” was a beautiful, elegantly written story about second chances, families and relationships. About love and loss, about grief and hope, about finding happiness again. Full of compassion and understanding and with a great depth to it and I enjoyed it very much. Highly recommended!

 

 

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The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp by Sarra Manning

The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp by Sarra Manning

 

 

39844198Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 6th September 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A hilarious contemporary retelling of the classic society novel, VANITY FAIR, featuring the irrepressible Becky Sharp

Beautiful, brilliant, ruthless – nothing can stop Becky Sharp.

Determined to leave her poverty-stricken roots behind her, Becky Sharp is going to take every opportunity offered to her to climb to the top. Whether it’s using her new BFF Amelia Sedley to step up into the rarified world of London’s upper classes, or seducing society’s most eligible bachelors, Becky Sharp is destined for great things – at any cost…

From London to Paris and beyond, the world is there for Becky’s taking – even though some people are determined to stop her along the way…

Rating: four-stars

This story follows Becky Sharp – a runner up on Big Brother, nanny, Instagram influencer to eventually become a philanthropist. But Becky worked hard for all of this – or did she? Relying only on herself, that is until she senses a chance and someone with more money… or another someone, with even more money? Using other people or simply being ambitious? I haven’t read the original “Vanity Fair” so I am probably in the minority that won’t be comparing those two books, and also I didn’t recognise any of the scenes and couldn’t compare the characters, but I’m sure there are similarities, and also, even without reading the “first” book, I can assure you that I totally adored this modern take on “Vanity Fair”.

Even though I was not particularly found of the characters! However, I fell for Becky and I felt sorry for her and in the next second I simply hated her. Becky was incredibly intriguing character, and Sarra Manning has so brilliantly captured all of her attributes! She was a champion of disguising her true self and so you could never be sure which of the faces you’re going to see; she for sure knew how to behave in a particular company. It depended on the person she was with and how influential they were. I don’t think we have ever come across Becky’s true colours guys, she has provided regular doses of the level of sincerity and really, I think, no, I am sure that the only person she cared about was herself. She was a master of using people and sweet – talking them. Yet – she was likeable! I might have not loved her but I had feelings of warmth and somehow I wanted to protect her. Weird, no? She schemes and manipulates in a perfect way and yet you just want to cheer her on. She truly knows what she wants and doing anything just to get her way, actually almost always getting what she wanted. She’s unbreakable.

Sarra Manning’s writing style is brilliant. The pace of the novel in fast and there are twists and turns that you’ll never see coming. The plot was hooking, I couldn’t wait to turn the page to see what’s going to happen. There were moment that it was ridiculous and hilarious, as well as some of the very colourful characters that really made me feel all kinds of emotions.

This book could go on and go, it was a kind of never – ending story, and personally I would love to see what Becky has got herself into – I think it ended in one of the most exciting moments, and our Becky implied that she’s not to rest on her laurels, oh no. But also, this end was not satisfying for me – there was a huge build up but then I had a feeling that it turned into … nothing. So really, if Ms Manning were to write a sequel to “The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp” I’d be probably the first one in the virtual queue to read it.

“The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp” was a book full of scandals, rich people and celebrities, revenge, coincidences. It was partly really bonkers crazy but this is why I enjoyed it so much, as it sat with this book so well. It was sharp and brutally honest about modern life and current priorities. It was juicy and relying strongly on social satire, and Sarra Manning has brilliantly portrayed this what makes it this satire – demeanours, the mentality, the greed and self – obsession in this Instagram era, celebrity obsessions, being famous because of being famous. It’s full of sharp and so fitting and relevant observations – highly recommended!

 

One Day in December by Josie Silver (Blog Tour)

One Day in December by Josie Silver

 

 

34879283Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 18th October 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A love story about what happens after you meet, or rather, don’t meet the one.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

Rating: four-stars

One Day in December, a boy meets a girl and a girl meets a boy… They fell in love and have their happily ever after. No? No! They meet but don’t meet. Laurie is on a bus home from work. He’s on the bench at the bus stop. Their eyes meet and there is this magical sparkle, this connection, almost like love at the first sight. But then the bus door closes and it drives away into the night.Laurie looks after the mysterious boy from the bus stop  for a year. And then she finds him! His name is Jack and he’s a new boyfriend of Laurie’s best friend Sarah.What do you do in this situation? Tell your friend? Or try to eject all your feelings and live the next decade full of missed opportunities? 

Although I’m not a great fan of cinema I’ve seen a few classic films, like “Sleepless in Seattle”, “Nothing Hill”, “When Harry Met Sally”, “You’ve Got Mail”, to name a few, and as a huge bookworm I’ve read some great books, such as the Lou Clark series by Jojo Moyes or “PS. I Love You”, and guys, “One Day in December” is the perfect mix of all of them. It perfectly combines and blends the magical moments, the moments that made you go “wow” when watching and reading. And it’s full of such magical and wow occassions of it’s own, bringing to us new characters that we’re going to talk about for a long, long time and, actually, never forget. But what makes this book even better is the fact that it’s challenging, it’s not fairy – tale – ish but it’s realistic and down to earth.It follows the lives of the characters over the course of ten years, skipping periods of time and jumping forwards, sometimes few weeks, sometimes months, and I must say that it was a brilliant idea – writing it like this made the book’s pace faster, and I really liked how it focused on things that were truly significant, without leaving out the details but still focusing on the most significant events and things. 

The friendship between Laurie and Sarah was gorgeous. I liked Laurie from the very beginning, but I actually was falling in love with her with every page that I’ve read, seeing how much she’s able to sacrifice in the name of friendship. This closeness covered so many years, it was the real kind, when you don’t see each other for few weeks and when you do you just start where you’ve finished, where you understand each other without words, where you’d do anything for the other person. It was real, genuine and honest. It was so incredibly easy to immediately become invested in their lives.As much as the tale is told from Laurie’s point of view, it also included chapters told from Jack’s perspective. And Jack, oh Jack… It really broke my heart more than once to see how he tried to make himself invisible and unimportant, how much he was also able to sacrifice and how much it was breaking him. 

My biggest problem with this story though was – it bothered me all the time, since I’ve finished reading it some time ago to this moment – that even though I loved it, and I fell for the characters, and I WANTED them to be together, I couldn’t feel the chemistry between them, didn’t see the sparkle! Their relationship missed it, no matter how much the author tried to convince me that they’re destined to be together, that they’re a perfect much. For me it was clear they’re perfect match, it was clear that they loved each other so much but still, this electricity between them was missing. And the end – even though extremely romantic and gorgeous – did seem too abrupt for my liking – after spending so much time avoiding each other and making excuses it only takes a chapter to solve the problem. 

This book was brilliantly written, and I don’t only mean the writing style. The author has so vividly and beautifully described the feelings and all the emotions were palpable through the pages – it was so powerful and overwhelming. It was easy, uplifting and poignant read and it had it all: beautiful friendship, unconditional love, brilliant characters, unfavourable in – laws, all the ups and downs of being young and falling in love and getting older and realising that life is not always a bed of roses. However, those elements could also be perceived as clichés. I’d also love some of the characters to be better developed, as they felt too stereotyped, too black and white, and some events happening too conventionally, just helping the plot to continue. You could also see the end coming already at the beginning of the book, but the execution and the way to this end was what absolutely fantastically worked for me and I simply loved this book. I could not only laugh and cry but I also closely felt the gut – wrenching pain, the despair of the characters, their resignation and desperation, and it can’t be easy to bring such feelings to the pages. Here Josie Silver has done and excellent job, pulling her readers into the story, making them fully invested in the characters’ lives. Of course it is also this kind of book that makes you ask yourself what would you do in this situation. Being Laurie, would you tell Sarah, taking into consideration this brilliant, honest friendship of theirs? Being Sarah, would you like to know? And if your answer is yes, what then? I didn’t find answers to these questions.

“One Day in December” was totally different to other books, refreshing, unique and addictive – you just have to know how it all is going to end! It was touching, moving and affecting, and I really often found myself holding my breath – at life being a bitch, at the unfairness of it, at the bad luck and especially at the beautifully captured feelings and emotions. It was not your usual boy meets girl, girl meets boy story, it was a love story with a difference, full of challenges and obstacles on the way and even though you could feel with your whole being how it’s going to end – or at least you want to end it in THIS way – you really don’t know, till the last moment, how it’s going to happen. I liked it that way, as I liked my books to give me all kind of emotions, and it doesn’t happen often that I can feel butterflies in my belly. A gorgeous story about love and loss, about friendship and relationships that is so much more than your usual love story, about falling in love and staying in love against all odds; about second chances, missed opportunities, about trust and about what ifs, regarding the question of all times: can love really conquer everything? Highly recommended! 

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The Psychology of Time Trave by Kate Mascarenhas (Blog Tour)

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

 

 

38330784Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publishing Date: 9th August 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Sci – Fi & Fantasy

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 07.03.2019)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A time travel murder mystery from a brilliantly original new voice. Perfect for readers of Naomi Alderman’s The Power and Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

1967
Four female scientists invent a time travel machine. They are on the cusp of fame: the pioneers who opened the world to new possibilities. But then one of them suffers a breakdown and puts the whole project in peril…

2017
Ruby knows her beloved Granny Bee was a pioneer, but they never talk about the past. Though time travel is now big business, Bee has never been part of it. Then they receive a message from the future – a newspaper clipping reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady…

2018
When Odette discovered the body she went into shock. Blood everywhere, bullet wounds, that strong reek of sulphur. But when the inquest fails to find any answers, she is frustrated. Who is this dead woman that haunts her dreams? And why is everyone determined to cover up her murder?

Rating: four-stars

In 1967, time travelling was invented by four female scientists – Barbara, Margaret, Estelle and Grace. Just before they were to introduce their invention to the world, Barbara suffers a nervous breakdown on live TV and is ejected from the project by Margaret. Soon after “the Conclave” is created by the remaining three pioneers, monopolised, with its own laws and different rules applied organisation to control time travelling and all the things it involves.
In 2017 Barbara and her granddaughter Ruby find an origami rabbit on their doorstep – a body of a woman will be found. Who is this woman? How far is she linked to the Conclave?
In 2018, a young student Odette stumbles upon a body in a toy museum. It affects her much more than she’s supposed it’s going to and so she decides to investigate – who was this woman, why was she murdered and how. All the threads lead to the Conclave – she joins it and becomes a time traveller, hoping to discover more about the death. She doesn’t know that she’s going to discover much more…

I was immediately hooked and immersed in the lives of those four strong women. They were all exceptional characters, innovative and strong, not afraid to take the initiative. Actually, all the women in this book were like this. They were intelligent and independent, not relying on men, and it was refreshing to read a book like this, where they achieved what they wanted on themselves. However, as much as I appreciated them, and no matter how well they were written, I couldn’t completely connect with them. I think it’s because of the number of the characters in this book, there were simply too many of them, and every few chapters we were introduced to a new one – in the present or in the future, and it was just doing my head. Nevertheless, I followed their stories with abated breath and actually enjoyed the diversity. Also, because of this time jumping we don’t have enough time to spend with the main characters at one period of time, to get to know them, to see what makes them tick, what did they feel, what did they think.

It takes time to get into this book, guys. The introduction is a very, very long one but to be honest it couldn’t be different. We need this time to really fully get into the heart of this story, to understand it. For me personally it really took of somewhere around the middle, when Odette applied for the job – the chapters turned into very short and the perspective changed almost on every page but it was easy to keep on track and to follow what’s going on. One thing took me a little by surprise, to be honest. I’m not a sci – fi chick, Dr. Who is absolutely not my scenery but from what I’ve seen and read about time travel there is one thing that is a no – go for this genre, and it is seeing your other – not sure how to call it – versions. I mean, you travel in time, and you see your other selves, moreover, you maintain relations with them, you tell them your future – I don’t think that it would work, do you? How confusing would that be, how dangerous. And, frankly, I didn’t get the idea of the silver and green version, I don’t know which one was supposed to be the real one.

The story follows many different threads and also it all the time jumps back and forth in time and changes points of view. However, guys, it doesn’t feel confusing. every chapter is preceded with the date and the name of the character so it was easy to follow, even with some of the characters just popping out of the blue. The plot is one of the most complex ones that I’ve come across in books and I really appreciated that, and the way it was kept clear. It also focuses on such issues like mental health, OCD and anxiety so you can see that, next to the main plot of time travelling, it’s really busy, and you expect it to flow. This element of mystery worked also really well. OK, it was actually the thing that made me feel confused, I think, it took me some time to completely understand when it happened and how it happened, but I liked it – if it were too straightforward the book would lost the tension and this element of mystery. The writing style was beautiful, very elegant and eloquent and the descriptions very detailed and vivid – they had to be, I think, to give us a chance to completely understand everything. However, what it doesn’t explain is how the time paradoxes worked, and I still can’t get over the seeing your other selves thing. Sorry. I’m repeating myself, I know, but it’s just bugging me.

I was intrigued by the premise of this book alone, but I haven’t expected that it’s going to be so good. I loved the way Ms Mascarenhas explored time travelling and what it could do to people involved in it, how people’s lives took a different shape, how it affected them and their mental health. Of course time travelling that allows to meet your other selves includes death and they are able to visit those who have died whenever they like (the dead are not surprised by those visit! See? Again, this time paradox), so it also deals with death, and maybe not taking people for granted. Altogether “The Psychology of Time Travel” is an excellent debut, mixing a variety of genres. It’s partly science – fiction, partly mystery, partly thriller and it may sound complicated and unusual but it works perfectly. It was complex and challenging, highly unique and not as sci – fi as I was afraid it’s going to be. Maybe one of the advantages is the fact that the four pioneers simply invited the time travelling machine, that there wasn’t any whys and whats, it just happened, period. It was also about love and relationships – between friends, between mothers and daughters, exploring many of them in different ways and showing various variations of them. Highly recommended!

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Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas

Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas

 

 

35992554Publisher: Headline

Publishing Date: 9th August 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Jo Thomas’s new novel invites you to a special cherry orchard in Spain, where sunshine, romance and family secrets are the order of the day. Perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond, Milly Johnson and Katie Fforde, SUNSET OVER THE CHERRY ORCHARD is a heartwarming, hilarious tale.

It’s time for Beti Winter to dance to her own beat.

After three failed engagements Beti is in desperate need of a fresh start. What better place than the sun-drenched hills of southern Spain?

But it’s not all sangria and siestas. Beti finds work on an old Andalucian cherry farm where there are cherries to be picked, trees to be watered and her fiery boss, Antonio, to win over.

As the sun toasts her skin, Beti finds herself warming to the Spanish way of life. Embracing the art of flamenco, she discovers there is much to learn from the dance of passion. She just has to let loose and listen to the rhythm of her heart.

Jo Thomas takes you there.

Rating: four-stars

Our main character Beti Winter finds herself in Spain and with a third engagement broken. No only this, but she’s penniless and jobless, and watching her biggest dream of owning a bar in Spain fading away. But Beti is strong and determined, so she pushes on – she finds a job, a place to stay and getting her head down she starts to save for her promised Butterfly Bar. But life is not a bed of roses, especially for our Beti, so there are many challenges coming her way, many problems and troubles – is there going to be a happy end for her?

It seems there must have been a mix up somewhere along the way about the publication date, my press release says 23rd of August and please correct me if I’m wrong but the book was out on 9th August? Apologies then for my late review but better late then never and no matter when you read the book, it’s going to take you on a beautiful, gorgeous, impressive journey to Spain – it was a lovely read, guys!

Beti was so real and I kept everything crossed for her – she so much deserved for her dream to come true and I couldn’t believe my eyes when fate was throwing so many challenges and obstacles at her all the time. She was also my favourite kind of character, she’s been growing and developing and it was a real joy to see how she changes into this confident young woman. She was not afraid to become a washer – upper in a restaurant, she was not afraid of working because she had a goal before her eyes and she was determined to – this time finally – achieve it. I really admired her.

I also liked the romance aspect. It was not so straightforward and obvious as you could expect. There were so many obstacles on the way and also I liked how it was weaved in into the story – it was not too overwhelming, too forced on us. However, even if many other things, such as keeping the farm and restaurant, Beti finding her true vocation were the focus of the story, this lovely romance was seamlessly and effortlessly accompanying us on the way and the outcome was simply fabulous.

This novel is so worth reading if only because of its end! I mean, not only because of this, as the whole story is so encompassing, full to brims with emotions and gorgeous descriptions, but the end has so exceeded my expectations. It was simply gorgeous and I personally felt so, so proud of Beti! You know, I even found myself straighten out, putting my chin high and deciding to be like Beti, getting up, following your dream and never let anybody to belittle me anymore. Well, that’s the theory at least. But Beti is my new hero and example right now.

It was a very descriptive book, and nothing wrong with this guys, as Jo Thomas’s writing style goes from strength to strength with her every book, and she has a way with words. She easily brings to life her setting, the gorgeous Cherry Orchard, the characters, the food and there is always so much understanding and knowledge when she writes about animals, and I love this. However, I had a feeling that Beti starts to be repetitive and that the descriptions of her feelings, her inner monologues and noodling over – as much as beautifully written and important – just slow down the action. Yes, I own up, I did skip a passage or a page as I wanted to just go on. But it doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy or appreciate the book, which I did, with my whole being – it was a gorgeous, colourful read, guys. Jo Thomas’s writing style is so warm and really, there is passion in every word.

“Sunset Over the cherry Orchard” is a story about dreaming big and not giving up, as your turn will come – earlier or later, but it will come, so please don’t stop believing. There was humour and poignant moments, there was fun and sadness, it was full of surprises and unexpected friendships and relationships, fiery flamenco and Spanish food, glorious Spanish food. It was so heart – warming and inviting, like a pure escapism that you’ll easily lose yourself in and forget about the passing time. The good vibes were palpable through the pages, it was as sweet as the cherries and as fierce as flamenco, but no worries, it was not too saccharine, oh no, Jo Thomas knows what she’s doing. And boy, I must mention the cover! It’s simply gorgeous! Those deep reds, the bright orange and yellow and there is even a cat…! It really shows off the setting and atmosphere of this novel to a T! I really recommend this book.

Death in Provence by Serena Kent (Blog Tour)

Death in Provence by Serena Kent

 

 

40648013Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 23rd August 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Mystery, Cosy Crime

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

When Penelope Kite swaps her humdrum life in Surrey for a picturesque farmhouse in the south of France, she imagines a simple life of long lunches and chilled rosé . . . What she doesn’t imagine is the dead body floating in her swimming pool.

Convinced that the victim suffered more than a drunken accident, Penelope plunges headlong into local intrigue and long-simmering resentments to uncover the truth.

But with a meddling estate agent, an unfriendly Chief of Police, a suspiciously charming Mayor, and the endless temptation of that second pain au chocolat, life in the delightful village of St Merlot is certainly never simple. . .

Curl up and escape to the sunshine of Provence with this deliciously entertaining mystery!

Rating: four-stars

Penelope Kite is a 50 year old retired divorcee, and after years of being at everyone’s beck and call she decides to start a new life by purchasing an old house in the south of France. The house is gorgeous but in need of many renovations, but Penelope is up for this challenge. She’s happy – until she finds a body floating in her swimming pool! Penelope soon finds out that there is more to this death as initially supposed and with police that’s not so willing to cooperate, she has to use her skills she’s learnt as a former forensic pathologist’s assistant. Who did it? And why? Is it something bigger, as there are also few attempts on Penelope’s life? 

The characters were really well – rounded, though I must admit it took me time to get used to Penelope. I’m not sure why, I had problems to get into the book and to warm to her character though there is really no particular reason why – it’s just one of those things. There were, however, very many characters, and till the end I had problems to match them, to know who is who and why and if they’re the baddies or the good ones, if they’re significant to the plot or they’re only mentioned because they just fit in to the scene. But they were also very well rounded and quirky, for example the drop – dead gorgeous mayor, Penelope’s larger than life best friend Frankie who takes no prisoners and Madame Valencourt, with her brilliant diet tips. Penelope was mature, she was smart and sassy and I admired her willpower and she was  really brave to drop everything like this and move to another country.

The mystery was really well tackled, and it was full of surprises. There were twists that I haven’t seen coming and to be honest, I have suspected probably all of the characters throughout the whole story. I think I don’t have to mention the fact that I didn’t guess who was the perpetrator even though, now when I look in retrospective, there were enough clever hints and tips from the author on the way. My bad.  

Serena Kent’s writing style is incredibly inviting and vivid. The book is set in the south of France, Provence, just like the title suggests, and the descriptions of the places, people and food were picturesque. She has managed to also reflect the spirit of the French villagers, to capture their personalities and mentality in such a realistic, true to life way. She easily brought to life the town, the landscapes, the croissants and characters. On the other hand, those many, many detailed descriptions slowed down the reading for me a little and there were moments that I had a feeling that nothing’s happening actually, that we’re there to admire the setting, and it also felt repetitive, with the repetitions of what has happened, what we’ve discovered and how far in the investigation is.  

Altogether, “Death in Provence” was a really cosy read, light and breezy. It was humorous and I really liked the characters’ sense of humour. There was this real French vibe to it and writing style was so warm and inviting – I am already looking towards Serena Kent’s next book!

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Vox by Christina Dalcher

Vox by Christina Dalcher

 

 

cover134192-mediumPublisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 21st August 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Thriller

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 07.03. 2019)

 

 

Synopsis:

Silence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.

Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.

Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.

For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…

[100 WORD LIMIT REACHED]

Perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale, don’t miss the thrilling debut that everyone is talking about!

Rating: four-stars

“New research indicates there’s a biological reason why women talk so much more than men: 20,000 words a day spoken by the average woman, according to one study, versus about 7,000 words a day for the average man.” – that was my Google search. Now reduce it to 100 a day, which is what happens in “Vox” – women are allowed only 100 words per day. It’s being controlled by wrist – band counters, cosily called “bracelets” by the male part of the population, and exceeding this daily quota results in a very painful electrical shocks. No matter if you’re an adult woman or a young girl.

Jean McLellan, the main character in this exceptionally good debut novel by Christina Dalcher, is a cognitive linguistic, mother of four children (three boys and one girl), wife. She used to protest against present government, she voted for another President candidate. Now she’s silenced, just like all the other females in the United States. She can’t work anymore, she’s supposed to stay at home, do her shopping, cook and, ultimately, be seen and not heard. Her husband Patrick works for the present government (the irony!), as a science advisor to the president (what science, you could ask, and it would be a very understandable questions, as everything is being controlled by the state). But then THE accident happens and Jean is approached by the President’s people – her professional skills are required. Will she help? Will she be made to help?
Jean is a very intelligent woman and after negotiating a deal she starts working but it quickly turns out that – of course – nothing is as straightforward. Is she going to win this race against time?

Occasionally I do like to read a book that doesn’t belong to my favourite genres and after seeing all the hype about “Vox” I thought that maybe I should try it and see what’s it all about. It often happens that the novels that are being so strong advertised really don’t live up to expectations but well, “Vox” is for sure not a book to be missed, guys. It’s thought – provoking and controversial and clever and not too dystopian and I really liked this book. I can understand that the book is probably going to unleash a storm of discussions, especially when it comes to religion, and I have my own opinion about it as well but I don’t want to entwine such threads into my review. I don’t want to know if it is done on purpose, the way Christianity was presented in this novel, in those times when religion is the biggest weapon, when extremity and fundamentalist are on the pages of every magazine – I went into this book with open mind and finished it without judging, and I hope you’re going to do the same, to fully enjoy it. I was only not sure when the action actually takes places. I know it was America but did I miss the timeline? I guess it was in the future, however how close or far away, this I don’t know, and it bothered me a little, as for me it was an important piece of knowledge for this book. So let’s agree on foreseeable future.

This story substitutes this saying: “Children should be seen but not heard” for “Women should be seen but not heard”. There came a moment that I was actually scared to read further – I had a very bad feeling for what can happen and I guess I just didn’t want to see my assumptions come true. But I also didn’t want to put this book down, especially when the second half started and the atmosphere of terror and not knowing what’s to come was incredibly overwhelming. And there could anything happen, guys. Anything. The characters, in the name of a “proper” religion, weren’t afraid to stop at nothing. I actually think that such kind of a country would suit some of the present dictators, and probably this is also what made the book, even though dystopian, so realistic and so frightening. The number of lunatics in this book was also horrifying, to be honest, claiming they really believe in what is said. Amazing. I can’t believe something like this could happen in reality, especially so quickly and with so many women that march in response to it but well, there is always this little quiet voice in your head asking “What if” when you read this book. But OK, that’s not the point of this novel, right – but you can see that it’s a book that is going to make you think, ask questions and wonder.

The effect of all those actions were brutally honestly showed through children. While the twins were not the most significant characters, the author mostly focused on the oldest son and then the youngest daughter Sonia. It made me frustrated to see how quickly they adapted to the new situations and regulations. The oldest son changed in a way that the “pure” expected, but also Sonia adapted, winning a competition at school – the competition was, of course, which girls speak the less words. She has managed three. It just blew my mind how you could live like that, watch your daughter not being able to vocalize, who wasn’t allowed to read nor communicate in any other way – my own six – year – old talks without taking a breath, reads books and seeing her like Sonia would be a real torture. How much did she miss!

The last part of the book was, in comparison to the whole story, very fast – paced and nothing was impossible there. It happened too quickly for my liking but I’m guessing that without this fast tempo there wouldn’t be the intentional impact on the reader – I personally was glued to the last pages. I’m not sure about the ending, though, to be honest, it was too meh for me – I don’t want to say more in case I’m going to spoil something but I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on the end.

This is not the story about “how” (it happened), it’s a story about consequences and results but I think we really don’t have to know how it happened, it’s not the important part. It is written in a very captivating way, I really didn’t want to put it down. There are some issues I had problem with, like the above mentions ending, or for some things just happening, very conventionally, the science happening just like that, the right people at the right places but overall it didn’t spoil the reading for me.

Altogether, “Vox” was a very powerful, important book about the importance of speech and political freedom, especially for women. It was heavily emphasized in this novel but it wasn’t overwhelming, so really kudos to the author for balancing it in such a great way. It showed how quickly people can get used to new situations, how quickly they take for normal this what is far away from normal. How patronizing they become and how quickly they can be brain – washed. Thanks to the author’s background in science there are some interesting and intriguing questions being asked: what would be the world without language, without words? What would happen with women after a few generations of not speaking? Not reading? What should they do with their lives? It was chilling and the bleak, dark atmosphere was so very well captured that it was actually like watching a film, hearing the ominous music and knowing that something is going to happen. It dealt with gender, sexuality, domestic violence, racism and even though in extreme, dystopian way, it somehow rang a bell. A great statement about speaking up, standing strong for yourself and your beliefs. Highly recommended!