I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

 

 

39084613Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 20th September 2018

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

A gripping story of friendship and betrayal from international best-selling author Adele Parks

‘I invited her in… and she took everything.’

When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay. Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.

Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different. Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben. Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.

Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence. Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her. Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it. So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal. And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…

This dark, unsettling tale of the reunion of long-lost friends is thoroughly gripping exploration of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge from Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks.

Rating: three-half-stars

Mel and Abi used to be best friends but then Mel dropped out of university due to her unplanned pregnancy. They haven’t seen each other for over 17 years – Mel has given birth to a son, Liam, is now married to Ben and they have two daughters together. Abi has done well in her job – she’s been living a celebrity lifestyle in LA with her husband Rob. However, she’s now divorcing him, after finding him in bed with another woman. This is when Mel receives an unexpected email from her former friend and immediately invites her over, opening the doors of her home and her own heart. But – did Abi get in touch because she really needed her friend, or is there more to this than meets the eye?

This book is full of sharp observations and it brilliantly captures different kinds of relationships. What I enjoyed probably most was the fact that the author presents us both sides of the story – I must admit, it takes a lot of time to learn what Abi’s hidden agenda was but I simply guessed it in the meantime, and well, yes, it may change your mind a little about her character. The alternating perspectives of not only Mel and Abi, but Mel’s husband, son and his girlfriend provided much deeper account of what’s happening and what the characters really think and feel, and you really start to think who is the real victim in this story – because there are always two sides to each story.  It was the moment that I started to feel very sorry for her. The next strong point of this book is of course Adele Park’s writing style. She writes with ease and in interesting way.

However, the characters lacked depth, I expected them to be much more three – dimensional and relatable. I didn’t care for them and I was not as invested in their lives as I’d like to. Yes, some of their decisions made me feel real desperation but I wasn’t emotionally connected to them. 

The problem is, when the book is so strongly advertised and it gets brilliant quotes that you start reading it with incredibly high expectations – especially when it’s written by such a fantastic author like Adele Parks. I read this book at the same time as I was reading another novel with exactly the same subject matter – old friends coming back into your life and turning into a very challenging one to say the least – sadly, any of those book was this what I was hoping for. Last year I read Claudia Carroll’s “Our Little Secret”, a book with the same keynote, and I can still remember how much tension there was in her novel, how much I hated the antagonist, how much I vibrated and felt all kinds of emotions – this is what I so missed in “I Invited Her In”. In my opinion, the idea was here but it lacked in development. Somehow, I just couldn’t fall for Mel, I couldn’t sympathise with her, the story itself was too predictable for my liking and to be honest, there was not any twist that would make me go “wow”. The end also seemed too rushed and just too happy – endish. I’m sorry, I really hoped I’m going to love this story. don’t get me wrong, it was not a bad book, it’s far away from it, it’s probably my expectations being set really high. It was maybe because the “thing” happening was not SO very controversial, at least not for me, that it left me a little lukewarm.

“I Invited Her In” was an interesting story about friendship and boundaries, about revenge, secrets, lies, jealousy and forgiving and it’s to my regret that I’m not in the minority that raves about it. However, it was a satisfying read that I’m sure the hard – core fans of Adele Parks will love. It was well written, I really liked the writing style and the author has a great way with words and altogether, I was intrigued to see how it was all going to play out.

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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!

The Little Kiosk by the Sea by Jennifer Bohnet / #BlogTour

Hi guys! I am starting into the new week with another blog tour, ta – dah! This one is celebrating the publication of Jennifer Bohnet’s “The Little Kiosk by the Sea” – a sweet, little book with a feel – good factor and many different characters.

The Little Kiosk by the Sea by Jennifer Bohnet

35400544Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 15th June 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 288

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Time’s running out to save the little kiosk by the sea…

Sabine knows that if she doesn’t come up with a plan to save her little kiosk soon, it might be too late. If only her best friend Owen would stop distracting her with marriage proposals!

Harriet is returning to Dartmouth for the first time in thirty years, haunted by the scandal that drove her away and shocked by an inheritance that could change everything.

Rachel never expected to find love again after her world was shattered a year ago. But it seems as if the sleepy seaside town has different ideas…

One thing’s for sure, it’s a summer they will never forget!

Rating: three-stars

This gorgeous cover was one of the things that made me attracted to “The Little Kiosk by the Sea”- it is so colourful and just beautiful, I love this blue, and it just screams summertime, don’t you think? After reading the synopsis I was hoping it’s going to be a story that will whisk me away to a warm, sunny place – did it?

Well, yes and no.

The characters were introduced to us as if they were not introduced, if you follow me. Their presence was just thrown at us, and having in mind there were six main characters it was, well, challenging. It felt as if the introduction of new characters will never stop but it did stop, of course, and what was great is the fact that I’ve never felt confused with who is who and why. At first there didn’t seem any connection between them, it felt so weird to have them all, popping out just out of the blue. There was not much depth to them, they were very straight – forward. It doesn’t mean they weren’t likeable, because they were, but I just couldn’t warm to them because I didn’t know what’s their role in this story should be. Each chapter was told from the different character’s point of view and yes, sometimes I had a feeling I am reading many different stories but eventually those stories started to interlink – however, the bringing of extra characters only to solve one of the subplots is not my favourite way. I just wanted more depth to the characters and the whole story and it would be brilliant!
There was nothing that would discompose the characters – no matter how shocking or surprising the news were, they just stayed cool as a cucumber – it was as if they didn’t have any feelings or emotions. I mean, so easily accept you have a nine – old – months baby that you have to take care of right at this moment? Discover that your aunt was a best – selling author, leaving your daughter almost one million pounds without batting an eye? It just felt weird, so very automatic and robotic, as if they really weren’t real people. The huge life changes were accepted just like this and it was all running so smoothly, nobody questioned anything and it just felt a little too unrealistic – but maybe sometimes it’s not bad when there is not so much drama, right? And it was actually nice to see how the characters rubbed along together, how they simply worked, and mostly they all wore their heart on the sleeves.
Time was passing between the chapters very quickly and without knowing it two or so months have been gone by. It just felt weird. There were so many subplots in this story that I had a feeling none of it is really deeply developed.

But altogether, it was a lovely, nice read that perhaps is not going to stay with me for a long time but it was good enough for me to spend some relaxing hours. The setting was beautiful, and the author truly vividly brought it to life. “The Little Kiosk by the Sea” was a lovely story about huge life changes, new opportunities and family relationships. And even with all those reservations I did enjoy this story. There was a lot of feelings in it, passion and hidden secrets, and this all written in a very easy, forthcoming writing style.

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Amber Green Takes Manhattan by Rosie Nixon

Amber Green Takes Manhattan by Rosie Nixon



35235874Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 29th June 2017

Series: Amber Green #2

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 427

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Novice stylist Amber Green is taking on the glittering celebrity world of Manhattan one fashion disaster and wardrobe malfunction at a time!

When her TV producer boyfriend Rob announces that he’s been offered a job in New York, filming with the infamous Angel Wear lingerie models, Amber knows its her perfect chance to take the New York fashion world by storm.

But Amber wasn’t counting on unruly toddler photo shoots, clandestine designer handbag scams and a Hollywood star who is determined to wear as little as possible on the red carpet. Until she meets a disgraced former designer who could turn her career around…or leave it all in tatters.

Fun, adventure, glamour and high-fashion make this is the perfect feel good women’s fiction read.

Rating: five-stars



Ah, guys, “Amber Green Takes Manhattan” was probably one of my most anticipated books this summer. I’ve read and adored “The Stylist” last year and really, I couldn’t be more excited for the sequel. After my review copy arrived I’ve immediately fell in love with the cover – it’s fabulous, with those lovely embossed letters and gorgeous colours (personally I think it is much, much nicer that the cover of the first book, but it’s just me, you know I am a sucker for such fairy – tale covers). But it was not only the cover that made me love this book so much – it was simply the brilliant story of Amber Green literally taking Manhattan! This book has it all, there was a lot of laugh, embarrassing moments, jumping to conclusions, some little drama and a happy end – just what the doctor ordered!

In this second part of Amber Green’s adventures in the big world, Amber and her boyfriend Rob travel to New York, where Rob’s new job is working on a documentary for a world – famous lingerie brand – think something like Victoria’s Secret here – and Amber… well, Amber is tagging along, she doesn’t want to let Rob travel alone as they’re together only for a short while, but she also has great dreams and hopes to make her name in the styling world. And knowing Amber, you can be sure she’s going to go high, with her ability to befriend the right people and to find herself in the most hilarious, unbelievable situations ever and yes, she soon manages to get her first job with a has been/to be child star. But taking Manhattan also means social media, and Amber’s start to take over her life – is the fresh relationship with Rob going to survive? How much damage is Amber going to produce with accidentally snapped photos? And finally, is Amber REALLY able to conquest New York?

Amber reminded me so much of the one and only Becky from the Shopaholic series – she’s exactly as absent – minded and she has the ability to find herself in embarrassing situations that more than often she herself creates, mostly unintentionally. She’s very accident – prone but also she has a heart in the right place and I think it is impossible not to like Amber. OK, yes, she annoyed me, as well as Rob, with her obsession with her Instagram account and collecting followers, but well, Rob also sometimes annoyed me, taking out his frustration on the poor Amber. Sometimes is bothered me that Amber was forgetting about the whole world and focused on her career only but on the other hand I could understand her, she was in a new place and she wanted to prove herself she can do it.

The story abounds in some hilarious situations and even though there were moments they felt a little too far – fetched I still bought them, just as they were described, and they made me smile or cringe in disbelief. If the fashion world really looks like Rosie Nixon describes it then it’s better that I am an absolute outsider to it, guys – and Ms Nixon brilliantly and spot – on captured the world of the models, designers and red carpets, with all the dramas, “bags dropping”, jealousy and night life. Even though it is not so much my kind of world I totally adored to read about it.

Truly, guys, I knew after reading “The Stylist” that the second book is also going to be pretty damn good, and it was! Let me tell you, it was this little bit better than the previous one – the writing style was so much more distinctive and bolder, the characters were strong, with their own personalities and voices, and the intrigue was not only clever but it also had a brilliant ending! There came a moment that I had my own “eureka” moment and I tied the facts and guessed who and why but it didn’t spoil the read for me, not at all. I liked that the author has made Amber life not so easy, and that she had to solve some problems, both in her private and professional life. I also liked that every situation was well – rounded with the gorgeous and sharp Rosie Nixon’s humour – it made the book’s reception lighter. She also hasn’t forgotten the star of the previous book – the mini pig Pinky, and guys, Amber’s tactic of looking for a babysitter for him while she and Rob were in New York was hilarious – especially the outcome, no, Nora? Really, there were so many situations that made me laugh out loud that it’s impossible to tell you about all of them but believe me, you’re going to smile, to laugh, to cringe with embarrassment when reading this story – and I like it so much when a novel invokes so many emotions in me, because it means that it’s brilliantly written.

This book is so fast – paced and there is all the time something happening, but you don’t have the feeling that it’s too pace-y, that it’s too forced or overwhelming. There are enough twists and turns and damp down emergencies involving dressing a celebrity for Coachella (or rather, un – dressing!) and A – listers or other babies, and I truly raced through this story wanting more, and more, and more. All the characters were so great and so easily brought to life by the author. You know, I am really impressed with the way Rosie Nixon has with words, it all flows so effortlessly and seamlessly and it’s just a great joy to read. The characters are not flawless, they make mistake but they pay for them and get a chance to rehabilitate themselves, which is great.

“Amber Green Takes Manhattan” was a hilarious, fast – paced rollercoaster ride in Manhattan, full of laugh, small dramas and celebrities. It was relaxing, it was funny, but what’s more important, it was not only about glitz and glamour. It was again about following your dream, about not feeling dispirited, about believing in yourself and your talents. Highly recommended for a holiday or for a lovely summer evening in the garden – I personally loved it!

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Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys. Today I have a new blog tour for all of you. It is for Benjamin Ludwig’s debut novel “Ginny Moon” and a really have no words to describe how special and wonderful this book is – you just have to read it for yourself, then I am sure you’ll understand what I mean. Next to my gushing review there is an excerpt 1 (Read the second part of the chapter at Jaffa Reads Too) – put your feet high and enjoy!

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

33370511Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 1st June 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret…

‘Brilliant’ – Graeme Simison, author of The Rosie Project

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up….

After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her.

Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right…

A fiercely poignant and inspirational story a lost girl searching for a place to call home. Ginny Moon will change everyone who spends time with her.

Rating: five-stars

Recently I was able to read some fiction novels featuring autistic children as main characters, introducing us to their different worlds. “Ginny Moon” is the first novel about a girl but it is exactly as complex and empathetic as all the other books that I had a pleasure to read. However here the author, Benjamin Ludwig, actually never mentions Ginny’s autism. We know she is in a special classroom, she takes part in the Disabled Olympics playing basketball, we see her problems and the way she perceives the world and we also see the autistic traits, such as having exactly nine grapes for breakfast, keeping eye on her watch and the exactness of the time, the comfort of routine, but the author doesn’t emphasize the disability so visibly, and I loved the way he dealt with it. It gives us a chance to see a true Ginny, not only in the light of her autism.

Ginny Moon, the main character in this novel, is written in such a brilliant way that it’s truly hard to describe in words how brilliant she was. She was so special – and not because she was autistic, but because she was incredibly brave, honest and true to herself. She was taken away from her Birth Mom Gloria by Social Services when she was nine years old – until then she’s been living the unimaginable, suffering emotional and physical abuse from her drug – addicted mother. Before she found herself in her Forever House, she’s been with two “Forever Families”. Now she lives in Blue House, with Forever Mom Maura and Forever Dad Brian. Everything seem great, that is until a child of the Forever Parents is born and Ginny tries to organize her own kidnapping. She still lives in the past, when she was 9 years old and was taking care of her Baby Doll – and she thinks she must take good care of her.

Reading Ginny’s story was so heart – breaking! I couldn’t help but fell in love with this brave, exceptional girl, and the way she was then treated by Maura truly broke my heart. Ginny was so lovely with her love to Michael Jackson and all the things “exactly”, not “approximately” – she needed exactly nine grapes for her breakfast. There was such a huge burden she was carrying and nobody believed her, and I can only imagine how frustrated Ginny must have felt, even though she couldn’t put those feelings in words. Her goal was to help her Baby Doll and she’s prepared to do anything, no matter the consequences – because I think that she realizes that there are going to be consequences. She was able to pair off the facts and she was wise.

Ginny’s Forever Parents were so genuine, with all the distress, stress, despair but also concern, this was portrayed in such a realistic way. I don’t want to have a go at Maura, I really don’t want, but there were moments that I despised her. On the one hand I truly understood where she was coming from, I got her fear but on the other hand I just couldn’t accept the way she changed. However, I think, it was all done on purpose, so that we all get a very realistic and honest picture of how complicated and difficult it can be when you adopt a child, especially a child with special needs.

What makes the story even more special is the fact that it’s told from Ginny’s point of view. We get through her life together with her, we know her thoughts and fears and we know that there is a huge burden that doesn’t let her sleep. The author has done a brilliant job unlocking her world to us and letting us understand. Ginny will easily worm her way into your heart, it is impossible not to love and admire her, the girl with the biggest heart in the world. Her characters is so complex and it feels so incredibly authentic, she’s quirky, wise and courageous, even if she doesn’t know it herself. The writing style is brilliant, running smoothly, and the author has done an incredible job with getting into Ginny’s head and showing us the world from her perspective. I personally can’t believe that it’s only Benjamin Ludwig’s debut novel – it is so complex, so intelligent and touching upon so many difficult issues without making the book feeling desperately sad.

“Ginny Moon” is a beautiful, gentle and realistic story about families, love, relationships, domestic abuse and communication within a family. It is a unique, outstanding read that will break and then mend your heart, and then break it again. However, there is so much hope in this read, it is also uplifting and somehow healing. It is poignant and inspiring, with wonderful characters. It is full of empathy. This story captures your heart immediately, it is written with so much insight and understanding, I’ve no idea how the author has managed to get into Ginny’s head so extremely well, but he’s done it. It deeply moved me, this book. Gorgeous, compelling read, a real tear – jerker – highly recommended! I am truly happy to be able to have read this novel and I hope you will buy your own copy – if I hadn’t received mine for the review purposes, I’d buy it in any case.

EXTRACT

2:50 in the Afternoon, Wednesday, September 8th

My Forever Parents are outside the door of Mrs. Lomos’s tiny office. “Let’s step into the conference room, Ginny,” says Mrs. Lomos.

We take five steps to get to the conference room which is across the hall. My Forever Parents sit at the table so I sit too. “Hi, Ginny,” my Forever Mom says.

“Hi,” I say back to her. She sits with her hands on her big round belly which is as big as a basketball. My Forever Dad’s belly is big too and his face is round but he doesn’t have a white beard or a nose like a cherry.

“Ginny, your parents came in to talk about what happened last night with the electronic baby,” says Mrs. Lomos.

I sit and wait for them to talk. But they don’t.

“They let me know that you put it in a suitcase,” says Mrs. Lomos. “Is that true?”

“Do you mean the plastic electronic baby?” I say.

She looks at me funny. “Yes, of course,” she says.

“Then yes,” I say.

“Why did you put it there?”

I make sure my mouth is shut so no one can see inside my brain. Then I look at her over my glasses. “Because it was screaming,” I say.

“So you decided to hide it under all your blankets and zip the suitcase shut?”

“No,” I say. “I kept my quilt out.” Because my quilt is the only thing I have left from the apartment. Gloria’s own Frenchy mom helped her make it when she ran away to Canada with me after she had me in a hospital. They made it together for me and for no one else. I used it all the time to wrap my Baby Doll in.

“All right, but why didn’t you try to comfort the baby?” says Mrs. Lomos.

“I did try to comfort the plastic electronic baby,” I say. “I said ush, ush, ush like you’re supposed to and I tried to give it my fin­ger but the hole in its mouth didn’t open. I gave it a bottle too.”

“And that didn’t work?”

I shake my head no.

“Did you do anything else to make the baby be quiet?” my Forever Dad says.

I make sure my mouth is closed again so no one can see inside. I shake my head a second time.

Because lying is something you do with your mouth. A lie is something you tell.

“Are you sure?” he says. “Think hard.”

So I think hard. About keeping my mouth closed.

“Ginny, there’s a computer inside the electronic baby,” says Mrs. Lomos. “It keeps track of how many times the baby is fed and changed, and how long it cries. It even keeps track of strikes and shakes.”

Read the second part of the chapter at Jaffa Reads Too as part of the Ginny Moon Blog Tour.

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig is out now! [Hardback, £12.99]

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The Other Us by Fiona Harper

The Other Us by Fiona Harper

 

33233986Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 4th May  2017

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 384

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

If you could turn back time, would you choose a different life?

Forty-something Maggie is facing some hard truths. Her only child has flown the nest for university and, without her daughter in the house, she’s realising her life, and her marriage to Dan, is more than a little stale.

When she spots an announcement on Facebook about a uni reunion, she can’t help wondering what happened to Jude Hanson. The same night Dan proposed, Jude asked Maggie to run away with him, and she starts to wonder how different her life might have been if she’d broken Dan’s heart and taken Jude up on his offer.

Wondering turns into fantasising, and then one morning fantasising turns into reality. Maggie wakes up and discovers she’s back in 1992 and twenty-one again. Is she brave enough to choose the future she really wants, and if she is, will the grass be any greener on the other side of the fence?

Two men. Two very different possible futures. But is there only once chance at happiness?

Perfect for fans of One Day, The Versions of Us and Miss You.

Rating: three-stars

Sometimes you see a book and you have a feeling that it is calling to you  “please, read me!”I had such feeling with “The Other Us” by Fiona Harper, even without reading the synopsis I just knew I want to read this book, period, so I was incredibly happy to be accepted for it on NetGalley.

Maggie is forty – six and she’s not happy with her marriage. she starts wondering what would have happened if she, instead of marrying Dan, stayed with her university flame Jude – would her life be better? Would she be happier? I think it is the thing that happens to most of us, we sometimes wonder what if – but we don’t get the answer. However, Maggie did – one day she wakes up to discover she’s in her twenties again and she has a chance to see how her life would look like if she agreed to stay with Jude. So what follows are alternate stories of Maggie’s life with Dan and Jude and we see the consequences of the many different decisions she makes.

There were some things that just didn’t ring a bell for me, that just didn’t work. Firstly, I really don’t understand why Maggie has suddenly started “jumping” between three timelines. It happened oh just because, for no reason,  and she calmly faced the fact and accepted it very quickly and it was nothing unusual for her. Such thing would scare the hell out of me if it happened to me. Then I had a big problem with Maggie herself. She has never seemed to be happy with things – never! She was disappointed with everything and she always found something, in all those three lives, to be unhappy about. She just didn’t know what she wants and it bothered me incredibly. I had a feeling she’s self – obsessed, everything was “I”, “me”, about her – yes, I do know it was written from her point of view but there came a moment that I just couldn’t hear any more of her whingeing. Thirdly, this book is so wordy! There are so many inner – monologues, reflections, what ifs, wondering, with little dialogues, and so it felt too dragging, too flat, too long, as if nothing, except for Maggie “jumping” (as she says so herself) was happening. I also didn’t see anything in particular she could learn from this “jumping”, the periods of times she skipped and the moments she found herself arriving were not so significant and were very random, there was no plan to them.

The good thing is that I never felt confused with the times changing and Maggie jumping. I also liked the fact that the book is ambitious, asking questions and making you wonder about your own life and happiness. “The Other Us” is a story about love, full of emotions and second chances and learning what is important. I’m sure it is a great, thought – provoking book but – sadly – it didn’t work for me the way I hoped it would. Nevertheless, please try it for yourself, you may find yourself falling in love with it.

 

Under a Sardinian Sky by Sara Alexander / Blog Tour

Hello, hello, hope you all are having a great Saturday! Also hoping it’s not as cold as rainy as here, bleurgh. However, if it is, I may have a brilliant remedy for you – the book that I am going to review today, as it’s my turn on Sara Alexander’s blog tour, is as sunny as the Sardinian Sky mentioned in the title, it is delicious to read and it is for sure going to brighten a day like this!

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Under the Sardinian Sky by Sara Alexander

 

33650464Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 20th April  2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 400

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback 

 

Synopsis:

Set against the beautiful backdrop of post-World War II Sardinia, Sara Alexander’s evocative novel is a sweeping story of star-crossed romance between an American lieutenant and a local girl.

Sometimes a family’s deepest silences hide the most important secrets. For Mina, a London-based travel writer, the enigmatic silence surrounding her aunt Carmela has become a personal obsession. Carmela disappeared from her Italian hometown long ago and is mentioned only in fragments and whispers. Mina has resisted prying, respectful of her family’s Sardinian reserve. But now, with her mother battling cancer, it’s time to learn the truth.

In 1952, Simius is a busy Sardinian town surrounded by fertile farms and orchards. Carmela Chirigoni, a farmer’s daughter and talented seamstress, is engaged to Franco, son of the area’s wealthiest family. Everyone agrees it’s a good match. But Carmela’s growing doubts about Franco’s possessiveness are magnified when she meets Captain Joe Kavanagh. Joe, an American officer stationed at a local army base, is charismatic, intelligent, and married. Hired as his interpreter, Carmela resolves to ignore her feelings, knowing that any future together must bring upheaval and heartache to both families.

As Mina follows the threads of Carmela s life to uncover her fate, she will discover a past still deeply alive in the present, revealing a story of hope, sacrifice, and extraordinary love.

Rating: three-stars

I am the first in the line for a good historical fiction, so when the opportunity to review “Under a Sardinian Sky” came my way I didn’t hesitate for long. This book is set in the 1950’s Sardinia and it includes all of the elements that make a novel really great – lovely setting, interesting background, traditional Italian families and scandal. Hello, I thought, or salve – give me this novel, like, pronto. It immediately transported me into this different era and the characters’ world.

So. This book. It gave me a headache, really. I absolutely loved the writing style, the descriptions and even the characters were nicely drawn, but… Yes, but. But after the initial euphoria that I am so in love with the book there came a moment that it started to feel too flat for my liking, and in the end it just didn’t wow me. After such a promising start I was expecting the story is going to continue like this but – sadly – for me it just went downhill and it didn’t keep my attention.
The story features Carmela, a young Sardinian girl, oldest child in her family, currently engaged to Franco. A very talented girl – a great seamstress who could also speak fluent English, which was very useful, as there were American soldiers stationing nearby, in need of interpreters. And needless to say, this closeness to those Americans was a reason of the troubles that were to come. Introducing here Joe Kavanagh, who felt in love not only with Sardinia and landscape and the Italian hospitality but also with a girl that was promised to another man.
The author introduces us to SO MANY background characters in this story that really quickly I stopped to try to understand who is who and in which relationship they are to Carmela and her family. The names were like a blur, and so many of them were too insignificant to the story in my opinion and I didn’t want to waste my time for them. Carmela herself was a multi – layered character and as it usually happens in historical fiction, she was much ahead of her times, although she valued her family and traditions very much. However, she was brave enough to see what it is she wants from her own life and that she wants much more from marriage than is being promised to her. She wanted to be treated like a human being and not a machine bringing children into the world and cooking all day long. Her story was brought to us through Mina – and guys, please help me here, but why? Carmela was the hugest taboo in Mina’s family, they just didn’t talk about her and yet here comes Mina and tells us her story, and I just couldn’t understand why did she feel this need? It would work perfectly without Mina, trust me, and the end would also work without her – maybe wouldn’t feel so rushed like it felt when I read it.

As much as I appreciated the descriptions of the setting, food and all other things, after the initial fascination I started to feel a little tired with them all. Each thing, event and material used for sewing a dress were described in a very minutiaed, detailed way and sometimes they took many pages, and I just wanted to get back to the thread, to see what’s going to happen. Of course, the author could bring all the smells and freshly cooked food to life but there came a moment that I couldn’t take it any longer. Also, the inner monologues of the characters, especially of Carmela, started to be really tiring – I wanted her to get straight to the point and not weigh up all the pro and cons (yes, you can say a lot about Carmela but not that she was spontaneous – there was not a place left for questions or understatements, she was just over thinking everything and mostly it made me feel desperate), only do!

But altogether, “Under a Sardinina Sky” was a very atmospheric love story, but it also touched upon many different issues, such as deciding what it is you want from your own life, about courage, love and family bonds. The writing was evocative and, my problems aside, it was truly beautiful and atmospheric. I didn’t have any problems to feel a part of the characters’ world, such vivid was the writing. The author has thoroughly researched the era she was writing about, bringing all the traditions and the family bonds so easily and effortlessly to life. A lovely, colourful story about a young woman with a backbone (finally!), about choices and being fearless in following your dreams and your heart. I am already looking forward to reading Sara Alexander’s another novel.

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