The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff / Blog Tour + Guest Post

Today I am incredibly honoured to be a part of Pam Jenoff’s blog tour for her newest release “The Orphan’s Tale”. This book is a very exceptional read, story that is for sure going to get under your skin and make you think some things over and over again. Next to my review I also have a wonderful guest post about the covers from the Author herself, so please just put your feet high and enjoy!

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

29239940Publisher: Mira / HQ

Publishing Date: 23rd February 2016

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Historical Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival .

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

Rating: 4/5

So now. This book. “The Orphan’s Tale”. I’ve read it in one day. Even though the subject is not the easier one, it is full of difficult decisions and choices to be made, of situations the characters couldn’t decide themselves, of things they couldn’t influence, it was just flowing and it was told in a way that made me glued to the pages. I must admit – I was not so sure about this novel at the beginning – probably you must be in a right mood for such a story – it was hard for me to get into this book and the scene with the babies in the carriage was so incredibly sad that I was so short of putting it away. However, I kept reading and I am incredibly glad that I continued, as the story was beautiful, sad and engaging.

There is a group of main characters in this book and they were all really well developed, although I had some problems with Luc – for me he seemed to enter the scenes too rapidly and settled down on the pages too quickly, it somehow didn’t sit with me. I had a feeling that the author herself isn’t sure what to do with him, how to interweave his role into the story. However, all the other characters were incredibly believable, their feelings were palpable through the pages and it was really easy to get the sense of their hurt, fear, pain, uncertainty. The story was told from Noa and Astrid’s points of view mainly, but the other characters had also got a fair number of scenes – enough to root for them, worry about them. Yes, I admit, I had some problems with the character of Noa. There were moments that I couldn’t stop thinking that she’s too immature, that she voluntarily looks for danger, that she’s naive but in the end I changed my mind – she was only seventeen, for God’s sake, and she has actually proven that she’s the most non – egotistical soul in the world, that she’s willing to take a risk to save others. And – Noa developed so much in this story, she learnt. She was determined and she really wasn’t afraid to risk everything to help and save others. Her dedication, capability to sacrifice so much was truly heart – breaking and convincing. She was much more mature than her age signalized – but I think it was the case with many people during the war times, they just had to grow up faster.

I myself am not a fan of circuses but I always enjoyed reading about the wings, about the artists, and I truly enjoyed this aspect of this story, especially as it was set in such difficult times when – you could think – people had other things to think and worry about. However, the author explained and showed that people just needed this little piece of normality in their lives. She also showed how seriously the circus people took their role to entertain, how honourable they were and that their words were what counted. She has also very well captured how the lives of the artists really looked like and how much hard work it was to entertain the audience for those few minutes in the limelight. There were many troubles, struggles and hardships the performers endured – especially during the war. But no matter if in war or not, it was amazing to see how protective they were about each other, and the – yes! – families they bonded and created. It was all incredibly well researched. The knowledge shines out of the pages. We know lots about people hiding and protecting Jews during the war but Pam Jenoff has revealed many less known facts and created an emotional, heart – breaking historical novel.

“The Orphan’s Tale” is my first book by Pam Jenoff and what intrigued me about this novel was the blurb itself. Then it was told to me that the story is based on facts that the author learnt during her researches, which only made the reading more interesting. Also for certain it is not going to be the last book by this author, I can’t wait to look into her backlist titles, as this novel, this story of survival, of adapting but also of bravery and resilience was incredibly beautiful. It is a book about good and evil people, a story that tug at my heartstrings. Story about taking incredible risk and being able to risk your own life to save others. This is a poignant tale of perseverance and friendship, showing that a true family is not only who you are related to but that you can earn a true family when finding the right people, people that you can trust in the hardest, harshest of times. Recommended!

GUEST POST:

Author Confidential:  On Book Covers and Titles

“I love your book cover!”  Although thrilled when someone says this, I’m never sure of the appropriate response.  “Thank you,” seems to suggest that I can take some credit for the work of art, which is the farthest thing from the truth.  “I agree,” sounds very smug.  The reality is that book covers are a complicated thing and I wind up with some mumble-mumble answer that is way more than the person who commented on the cover even wanted. The same can be said of titles.

So here are the things I would really like to say about book covers and titles.

I have no say (sort of.)  The truth is, I have very little to do with the creation of a book cover.  At some point I am asked for some key images or concepts from the story.  (This usually happens well before I have finished writing the book, which is really, really scary.)  I give my ideas and then many months later I am shown a cover concept.  By the time I have seen the concept, it has already been reviewed my many folks at my publisher and is pretty far along.  So while I get to give feedback, it is limited and late.

Titles are a little different.  I always have a working title, but it almost always gets changed.  Read on…

I never get attached to the original.  My books always start with the working title I create.  At some point though, my publisher decides this may not be the best title.  I am often asked for suggestions for alternative titles. I come up with some, they come up with some.  (But not always: I was once breastfeeding twins when my phone rang and a big editor – not from my current publisher — called and said, “We’ve changed the title to XYZ” and just hung up.)  A title may change two or three times in the course of producing a book.

Similarly, the first cover concept I am shown is almost never the final.   They almost always change.  And as you will see below, that can be a good thing.

I trust in the power of market correction.  There are times, I must confess, when an early cover concept is, well, just not right for the book.  I used to freak out about this, imagining revulsion and shame at seeing it on the shelves.  But I have since learned that covers go through many stages before approval.  If I think it is wrong, chances are someone else will also.  It may be marketing or the sales force.  Other times covers are shown to accounts (think bookstore chains and retailers) and they say it is not right.  We always get to something better.

I have also had the market correct titles.  A bookstore executive once said, “Love the book, hate the title.”  If it is a major retailer and it is the difference between the retailer taking a big order of books or not, a publisher will consider the change.

I understand that different covers work in different markets. My books also most always have different covers in the U.S. and U.K.  Sometimes they even have different titles. (Though this is not my favorite because with people reading across borders in the digital age, readers can be confused if it is the same book or different.)  Readerships are different in various countries and what may work in one market may not work in another.

All of this uncertainty and change in covers and titles can be overwhelming.  Ultimately, I just remember that I am part of a team and that we all want the same thing: to get the best possible package to you, the reader.

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Losing It by Emma Rathbone – Blog Tour/Extract

Hi guys, and happy Tuesday. Today I have a new blog tour today and I can see that I missed my actual stop yesterday, though I can promise you anything that I was sure I was scheduled for today – at least this is what I’ve noted down in my calendar. But oh well, yesterday or today, I have an extract from Emma Rathbone’s funny and sharp novel “Losing It” – hope you enjoy!

31116730I opened a drawer and took out a pencil and started scribbling on a Post-it note, trying to see how dark I could make it. Jessica Seever came in and poured herself into the chair across from me. She worked at the front desk and was my only friend at the office.

“Crazy night,” she said, referring to the previous evening.

We’d gone to a bar together and sat in uncomfortable silence until her new boyfriend showed up. Then they’d had a theatrical fight that they both seemed to enjoy.

“Kidman does like you,” she said. Kidman was her boyfriend.

“Okay,” I said nonchalantly, “sure.” I opened a folder on my computer, suddenly finding, with Jessica’s presence, the will to work on the spreadsheet.

“I’m actually—” I pointed at the screen with my pencil.

“Things just got a little out of hand,” she said, proud of herself.

“Uh-huh.”

“Look, it was me.” She put her hand on her chest. “I started it. I always do! It’s like Kidman says, I get some tequila in me, I go crazy.”

“Right,” I said.

“He’s like, ‘You’re crazy, girl!’”

The first time we’d met, Kidman had barely acknowledged me, and then spent the whole night flirting with Jessica and looking around like he was really restless. Jessica and I were friends due to the fact that we were both unmarried and roughly the same age and had immediately established a mutual dislike of squirt-out hand sanitizer, which had not, in the end, reaped the conversational dividends I had hoped for. We spent a lot of time together poking at our drinks with our straws. She liked to say things and then gauge my reaction for approval or admiration.

“You know what they say,” she said, tracing the arm of her chair. “Make-up sex is the best.” Her eyes roamed over my face.

“Totally,” I said.

“After you left we went out to his friend’s apartment complex—have you ever done it in a pool?”

“Yes,” I said. “A bunch of times.”

In about four hours I would go back home to my apartment, microwave a dinner that would burn the top of my mouth, then float facedown on the Internet for a while before going to bed even though I wasn’t tired.

“We were, like, up against one of those, like, floating things, with the tube? It was shaped like a turtle?”

“A pool cleaner?” I said.

“I guess. But he was behind me, and I was holding on to a ledge.

We were in that position? And it kept bumping into his back and he was like, ‘Get it away!’ and I was like, ‘Threesome!’ And he was like, ‘You are so bad.’”

“Yikes,” I said to Jessica, trying to muster the same wry glint in my eyes.

“So good,” said Jessica. “So hot.” She looked at me for a reaction.

I swiveled around and stared at the empty town center. Sometimes, thinking about those two—Kimmy and Jason—I felt a sense of loss in my own life so drastic it was like the wind was knocked out of me.

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The Last Will and Testament of Daphne Le Marche by Kate Forster

Hello again, and good evening! Today I have one more post for you, and it is a review of “The Last Will and Testament of Daphne Le Marche” by Kate Forster – as a part of the blog tour. And guys – believe me – you don’t want to miss this book! It’s perfect! It blends everything that you can look for in a great, thrilling story and even more – make sure that you buy it!

The Last Will and Testament of Daphne Le Marche by Kate Forster

 

31144714Publisher: Mira

Publishing Date: 8th September 2016

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Paris, 1956. Eighteen year old Daphné may be from a tiny French village, but she knows she’s destined for more. Stepping off a bus into bustling Paris with a suitcase full of her home-made beauty products, she’s ready to do whatever it takes to claim her stake in the world.

London, 2016. Scandalous love affairs and an iconic cosmetics brand have kept Daphné Le Marche in spotlight – but her darkest secrets have never come to light. Now, in her London penthouse, enveloped in her rich signature scent, the Grande Dame of glamour has died.

But not even those closest to her could have been prepared for what came next.

The Last Will and Testament of Daphné Le Marche is a sweeping story of heartbreak, scandal and the importance of keeping it in all the family…

 

Rating: 5/5

“The Last Will and Testament of Daphne le Marche” is only my second book by Kate Forster – I’ve read and absolutely adored her “The Perfect Retreat”. However, it is already some time ago that I’ve read this book so I went into her new release like I usually go for debut novels – without expectations but with great hopes. And let me tell you all, guys, that the book has everything that I am looking for in books and I loved every single page of it – it was a great read!

The story moves between the present and the past, but it is done in a very seamless, effortless way, and the more we got into the past, the more secrets were coming to the light – secrets that were able to destroy the whole family unless the family was strong enough to face the problems and the hidden sceletons. I loved both the past, and the present, it was incredibly great to see what happened and what made Daphne Le Marche the woman she became. The way the story alternated between Daphne’s past life and the present worked brilliantly for this story.

Kate Forster has created some unforgettable characters in this story, characters that you loved or loved to hate and I truly had moments that I wanted to not only slap Robert, but perhaps strangle him. There were plenty of characters in the book but there was not a single moment that I felt confused or didn’t know who is who. So we have Daphne, grandmother and mother, the head of the family; we have her two sons, Robert and Henri, both married and/or divorced, so there were also their wives, Matilde and Elisabeth, and their children Camille (who’s dead), Celeste and Sibylla – Billie. Many of them but really, I felt immediately at home in their company. And yes, many of them, so there were many secrets and problems among them, many understatements and inaccuracies. The characters were so different to each other, they had so different personalities and led totally different lives and it was absolutely thrilling to see how they are brought together again and what happened next.
Daphne was such a wise woman and it broke my heart more than once seeing what she experienced in her life, but also I wanted to cheer her on and present her with a standing ovation seeing how she went from nothing to being a woman with a cosmetic empire. Her granddaughters proved that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The family become disjointed throughout the years and Daphne wanted to bring them together again – though it was not so easy! Celeste is the daughter of Robert and she is probably the one who underwent the biggest transformation in the story – at the beginning, to say that she was a bit unlikeable, would be an understatement, but I absolutely loved how she has changed. Billie lives in Australia, works in the lab and she adores her life, so moving to London because of her grandmother’s will is not in her to – do list. However, Billie was not the one to give up easily, and I liked her from the very beginning, her being so strong and her standing firmly on her two feet. There couldn’t be more difference between those two girls, suddenly thrown together into the family business, but it added so much spice to the story and made it even more colourful and not so predictable! You couldn’t be sure if the girls go for the challenge in Daphne’s will, and you couldn’t be sure of the things running smoothly for them – the author has took care and added a twist and turn here and there and a friction of tension.

This book is brilliantly written, it just draws you in and I didn’t want to put it down for a single moment, so immersed was I in the characters’ lives, all the twists, turns and curveballs. It was an engaging story of heartbreak, secrets, scandals and family relationships. There was much more depth and darkness to it than I expected but it only made the reading much more thrilling and interesting to me. The author couldn’t have make my day in a better way as with this perfect blend of history, scandals, glamour, intrigue and wonderful romances. A story about challenges and overcoming problems and showing that at the end of the day it is a family that counts. The book has a very solid plot and it’s very complex, it introduces us to characters full of flaws, but characters that are incredibly vivid, colourful and leading interesting lives. If you are in a need of a brilliant family saga, then do not hesitate, do not look further and treat yourself to “The Last Will and Testament of Daphne Le Marche” – I guarantee you are for a few hours of pure joy.

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The Ex Factor by Eva Woods – Blog Tour

The Ex Factor by Eva Woods

 

30987283Publisher: Mira

Publishing Date: 8th September 2016

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Is it possible to freecycle love?

Modern dating is hard, especially when all you meet are liars, oddballs, men who wear Superman pants and men who live with their mums.

So why not date someone who already comes pre-approved? Just because your friend’s ex wasn’t right for her doesn’t mean that he won’t be right for you. That’s Marnie’s new plan for herself and her three best friends, perennially single Helen, recently divorced Rosa and cynical lawyer Ani.

Through bad dates and good, the four friends begin to realise that there are advantages to dating pre-screened men…but there can be some serious pitfalls to falling for your friend’s ex.

 

Rating: 3/5

I was desperate to read Eva Woods’ story for a long time already, I have her previous novel on my kindle, patiently waiting to be eventually read, so when “The Ex Factor” whizzed its way to me I quickly started reading it. The title had me incredibly intrigued, I love anything about exes, probably because I myself don’t have too many of them and am feeling a little inexperienced in that matter 🙂 Nah, but altogether, the book had such a great vibe and I was really excited to start it.

I loved the idea of the book, meeting with your friends’ ex and generally speaking, dating – you know me, you know I am such a sucker for dating stories, I always, always hope that the author is going to totally surprise me with exceptionally hilarious date stories. It’s not easy, to surprise me with them, as there are so many books about dating, and I am all the time living in hope that one day I’ll get such a book in my greedy hands. “The Ex Factor” had some dates throughout the story, sure it did but sadly, same old, my friends, same old… Though the angle was different, of course, as I think I’ve never read about dating friends’ exes. Recycling exes, yes, but not swapping them. But you can be sure that you are in for a story that is full of misunderstandings, mistakes and troubles and as I was prepared for a funny rom – com, I was surprised with the more serious issues that were addressed there as well. It’s not bad, not at all, and “The Ex Factor” mostly concentrated on this unique way of meeting The One.

The story is mostly told from Ani, Helen and Rosa points of view with the very occasional word from Marnie and I liked to see how they stories develop and how they cope with the many feelings that were all of a sudden evoked by Marnie and her return and her idea of the ex – experiment. I think that I preferred Helen and Rosa to Ani and, above all, Marnie. The first two were just much more relatable and much more likeable, not as cynical as Ani and Marnie. Sure, they also had some moments when I wanted to bay at the moon, so desperate I was with them but altogether, I’d rather spend time in their company. Helen, even with her light form of OCD, when every work she had to do at home had its own day and time, with her almost never leaving the house and altogether, behaving strangely, I liked her more than Ani who didn’t know what she wanted or Marnie that was egoistic and dishonest. But there is something that the girls have in common, and it is the fact that they are, right now, all single: Helen, Ani, Marnie are all unsuccessful dating and Rosa is facing a divorce, as her husband left her for a teenager. OK, for a 20 – year- old intern. After two years of absence Marnie comes home and immediately has this idea of dating your friends’ exes. I liked that the girl were so different, that all had their own lives and problems – Helen spends a lot of time at home, well, she’s working from home, though she doesn’t say what it is that she’s working, and she has her reasons for not telling it! Ani is a great divorce lawyer, but she’s also great at dating, as long as she doesn’t meet the man for more than two dates… The poor Rosa must work with her almost ex – husband, which doesn’t help her to forget him… So even though they’re not so keen, they all agree to try Marnie’s idea and set themselves on dates with their exes. Misunderstandings, disasters, jealousy are guaranteed!

This book started good and it kept me hooked but then, slowly, it just went downhill for me. The storyline didn’t seem so original anymore, it dragged on a bit but my main problem, however, was with the number of characters and them mixing with each other. Sure, I do get it, the author needed to introduce us to so many main characters to make this story more colourful and thrilling but then, when the male characters entered the scenes, and there were much more male characters than female ones, I started to lose the track and I had no idea who belongs to who. I just couldn’t remember who was dating who before and who are they dating now and to be honest, there came a moment that I stopped to care. Also, I didn’t get the Marnie character – she was behaving as if nothing happened, as if everybody was waiting for her to bring light and fun to their boring, sad lives, but in my opinion it was Marnie who brought the problems. Those were the things that spoiled the book for me.

It was a read that was full to brims with action and something was happening all the time, though it is still, in my opinion, on the slow side. The characters had a very modern life approach and the way they talked with each other sounded realistic and genuine and the girls’ voices were very different and so distinctive. “The Ex Factor” was a light – hearted story with a darker side to it, as it also deals with some more serious issues, and I liked the balance. Altogether, it was an interesting read and I will be for sure looking for more from Eva Woods.

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All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

All Is Not Forgotten

by Wendy Walker

 

Publisher: Mira

Publishing Date: 14th July 2015

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Psychological Thriller, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 Synopsis:

You can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime. Jenny’s wounds have healed. An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack. She is moving on with her life. That was the plan. Except it’s not working out. Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching. And she’s getting worse. Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial. It may be that the only way to uncover what’s wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack. And that could destroy as much as it heals.

Rating: 4/5

 

You know, I’ve requested this book after reading the synopsis, thinking it’s going to be a next psychological thriller on my list. It was only when I started reading it I realised that it’s going to be a very special read, a very unusual read, and sure, it is a book that truly got under my skin. I’ve finished reading it few days ago and I am still thinking about it, about the events and situations – it is not a book that you finish, close and forget. it’s very intense and compelling, very controversial and thought – provoking and oh boy, am I glad that I came across „All Is Not Forgotten”.

„All is Not Forgotten” is a story about rape – a young girl is raped in the woods during a house party. And the author doesn’t spare us the descriptions – the rape is graphic. Very graphic. It made me cringe inside and often I felt repulsion, it really made me feel sick. But back to Jenny, the main character – she is offered a new treatment, during which the doctors can erase the memory of the rape and the aggressor so that she will never have to come back to those memories. But – and this is one big BUT – can you really erase all memories? And is it sensible? Can you cope without knowing? Without those memories it’s impossible to punish the assassin. So Jenny’s parents, Charlotte and Tome, seek help of a psychiatrist who specializes in therapy that should bring back her memories.

What surprised me most was the way the book was written, I think I’ve never read a book written in such a way, as if it were told from someone’s perspective, someone’s that is not involved. At the beginning I didn’t have a freaking idea who it is that is telling the story and I must admit, it annoyed me, it really annoyed me. This person was reporting what has happened as if they were a fly on the wall. I had my suspicions who this could be and it was confirmed in chapter 7, I think, but really, till then it irritated me not to know who is talking to us. And to be totally honest, the first half of the book felt as if I am reading a psychology coursebook – there were so many descriptions of feelings, emotions, the therapy and the author was using very technical words, words that I’ve seen for the first time in my life actually, and it was hard and difficult to get through this half. The very clinical tone, and especially the focus on exploring all the psychological aspects is – in my opinion – really dangerous. While studying I used to also have psychology classes, and I loved them, I was the only one to get the best note once (sorry. Sorry. I needed to tell you this :) ) but still, there were moments that it was too much of the academic language and I skim – read some of those passages. There were also many facts and some characters introduced that seemed so insignificant to this story, because well, let’s be honest, why should I be interested in someone, a person that the therapist was also helping? Yes, it annoyed me, and I was so close to put this book away, but there was something that kept me reading, and when I crossed this magic half, then I didn’t want to put this book away for a single second! It kept me hooked, I knew who is who and why and I had a feeling that actually everything is VERY significant to the story. It is a book that you can love or hate but it is for sure not going to leave you emotionless and indifferent.

It was really a very special way to tell the story through the eyes of the psychiatrist. It was like a never ending, very long monologue and there were no dialogues like we are used to. He was only reporting what other people told him and yes, it took me a long time to get used to it. It switched from character to character, it switched between times but it was always told through Dr. Forrester eyes. And as much as he tried to be objective and presented us the facts without emotions, there came a moment that I stopped to believe in his objectivity and I’d give anything to hear something, anything directly from other characters. This narrative is almost analytic, with no emotions involved, so clinical and clean. My biggest problem was that I couldn’t place Dr. Forrester. I wasn’t sure if I can trust him – no idea why, though somewhere after the first half of the book I stopped to trust him completely, although it was again mixed, because he had his own interior motives but still it seemed that he really wants to help Jenny! So what to think??? I also had problems with his personality. He seemed so smug and arrogant, the know – better – kind, patronising his own wife and her not being as intelligent as he was. He was totally devoid of emotions, or at least he looked like this, and maybe he needed to be like this to stay professional, but he just gave me the shivers. However, I had a feeling that he knows much more than he wants to say and that he tried not to let out anything and also that I am not fully allowed into the story because he controls everything.

But no matter what you think and what are your feelings towards the book, it is for sure going to make you think. It is a story full of twists and turns and tension and honestly, I didn’t know till the end who raped Jenny and why. I’m not sure how I feel about it, and especially about the reasons why and what made the assassin to did what they did but I think it couldn’t have different end, as I think the author wanted to show us how different people’s minds work. It was not an explosive reveal or something like this, no, but for me it was still unexpected, and thanks the author for this! Altogether, a dark story written by the author who knows how to manipulate the reader, a very unpredictable read, moving and very intense. Recommended!

 

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

by Phaedra Patrick

 

Publisher: MIRA

Publishing Date: 7th April 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 Synopsis:

When Arthur Pepper discovers a mysterious charm bracelet in his late wife’s wardrobe, he sets off on a journey to discover, charm by charm, her secret life before they met.

Having been married for over 40 years, 69-year-old Arthur Pepper is mourning the loss of his wife. On the anniversary of her death, he finally musters the courage to go through her possessions, and happens upon a charm bracelet that he has never seen before.

What follows is a surprising adventure that takes Arthur from London to Paris and India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met, a journey that leads him to find healing, self-discovery, and love in the most unexpected of places.

Rating: 4/5

 

„The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper” by Phaeda Patrick is a book that surprised me totally with the way the plot developed. I was expecting the main character, the lovely, charming Arthur to discover much more of the world and to travel to the most hidden places of the globe and at first I was a little disappointed that it was not the case, but right now I think that maybe it’s better this way, and for sure much more believable. Because it was more a journey of discovering himself for Arthur and I’m guessing that it was the main goal of the story, for Arthur to find himself afresh after the death his beloved wife.

Arthur Pepper was a very unusual character, for me at least. I don’t read many books that feature sixty – nine – year – old male characters but this is one of the things that made the book so very exceptional, original and unique. One year after the death of his wife Miriam he discovers a mysterious charm bracelet and this is a beginning of a new chapter in his life – because he’s not only to discover what’s the meaning of each of the charms but he’s also going to discover that Miriam had a life he was not aware of, and also to discover himself. And here starts his brilliant journey, and here we are introduced to many unusual, often extravagant characters, and next to Arthur’s somehow estranged children and his neighbour Bernadette, we have characters that he meets when he’s on his way following Miriam’s secrets. They are all exceptionally well written, all so colourful and vivid. Arthur’s adventures include being attacked by a tiger, getting robbed, wearing a pair of electric blue harem pants (you would never see him in such trousers before. NEVER. You would only see Arthur following his routine, day by day, week by week, month by month, so just imagine how much this coming out of his comfort zones must have cost him, and the author has wonderfully captured all these feeling of unease, uncertainty but also hope), making new friends and opening to the world – and this is a kind of story that is going to melt your heart, to make you slow down and to think. It’s going to make you laugh and to shed a tear. This novel is full of warmth and you have a feeling that it envelopes you.

In a very warm and charming (yes!) way the author showed us with her story that it is possible for us to not really know those that we think we know best, and it made me think a little. She also showed – with the example of Miriam who, even though already gone for a year, was brilliantly and vividly pictured as a lovely, friendly woman, who lived a very exciting life before she met her husband, but for whom, after finding him, nothing else mattered, only family and love – what is really important in our lives. There came a moment that Arthur started to doubt if Miriam was happy with him, comparing the live she lived before and after she met him, but I think she was – she’s experienced a lot and then found the right place at his side and she didn’t need anything so special again.

There were moments that the story dragged a bit for me and I couldn’t wait for something to happen, and some parts felt a little too far – fetched, but on the whole it was a very well written story that had me really hooked. But also thanks to those a little too far – fetched situations we have a chance to get to know the most unusual, colourful characters and places and I really appreciated it. It is a moving read, charming and at the same time sad and funny, and with adorable message that it’s never too late for anything, that not everything is like we think it is and that we shouldn’t be afraid of new experiences.

Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Sleepless in Manhattan

by Sarah Morgan

 

Publisher: Mira

Publishing Date: 10th March 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 Synopsis:

Great friends. Amazing Apartment. An incredible job. Paige has ticked off every box on perfect New York life checklist. Until disaster strikes…

What if the person who broke your heart, is the only one who can help you find your future?
Great friends. Amazing Apartment. An incredible job. Paige has ticked off every box on perfect New York life checklist. Until disaster strikes and instead of shimming further up the career ladder, Paige is packing up her desk.

Her brother’s best friend Jake might be the only person who can help her put her life back together. He also happens to be the boy she spent her teen years pining after, and Paige is determined not repeat her past mistakes. But the more time she spends with Jake, the more Paige realises the one thing that was missing from her world all along. The perfect New York love story…

 Rating: 2/5

 

So, Sarah Morgan. I haven’t read all of her books, but this what I had a pleasure to read has totally convinced me to this author, so when I’ve seen that her new book, „Sleepless in Manhattan”, is going to be published, I knew I want to read it. Because of the author, because of the synopsis, and because of this lovely, gorgeous cover – I love it. I just love it. It’s pink, guys! Pink! This novel is the first one in the „From Manhattan with Love” trilogy and super thrilled I was waiting to start it and love it.

However, I have also never waited so impatiently for a book to eventually come to end. It turned out to be totally not my kind of read.

I am truly sorry to say that Jake is the kind of male character that I totally dislike in the books. For me, there was nothing neither exciting nor sexy in him – I despise such alpha males playing hard to get and heaping blame for all his problems on their childhood and treating women like the last dirt. Really, there was nothing in him that I found positive or interesting. I much more liked and warmed to Paige’s brother and Jake’s best friend, Matt, who was also so clichéd in this whole „don’t touch my baby sister or I’m going to kill you” thing, but he seemed much more normal and warm and I’m for sure going to read the next book in the series if it’s going to feature Matt. Though not necessary Frankie, as I can guess it’s going to be processing her bad past, what with the „special” mother that was mentioned a few times in „Sleepless in Manhattan”.

Also, Paige. Can somebody please explain me what was SO SPECIAL in this woman that everybody wanted to PROTECT her all the time? Yes, I get it, she had a heart condition, but she was okay now, right? I would get crazy being Paige, with everybody trying to protect me, nearly seclude me from the world, organize everything for me, everything in the name of protection. Paige wanted to be so, so independent but at the first sight of an obstacle she went with a tail between her legs either to her brother or to Jake. There is nothing wrong in asking for help, absolutely nothing, but after repeating over and over again she won’t accept any help it was… well, weird.

Altogether, the characters felt much too clichéd for my liking, alpha males with big hearts, beautiful girls with hidden talents, and even though something went wrong for them at the beginning of the story, they had all the right contacts to start afresh. Also, to be totally honest, it took me a long time to understand what it is that the girls are doing, what kind of work Urban Genie does, and I can really understand the embarrassment and troubles with the stag party.

I also had a feeling we are going in circles and that I am reading the same thing only: about Paige starting her new business, or about Paige and Jake playing cat and mouse, never – ending game of will they/won’t they, and to be totally honest, I couldn’t care less if they’re going to stay together or not – though of course it was more than predictable how the book is going to end.
The whole setting up of the business, organizing everything took so much time, and I was waiting for something to happen eventually – the pace was not fast enough for me, the story dragged on too much and I must be a champion in skim – reading right now and not feeling that I missed something. This bubbling romance between Page and Jake was totally not my kind of thing and I had a feeling that I’ve read about it thousand times before – it was also dragging on and on, even though it was obvious from the very beginning how it’s going to end. And I’m sorry, but the supposed chemistry between those two also didn’t sweep me off my feet.

What I liked was the feeling of friendship, great descriptions of New York and the dialogues, which sounded very realistic, though sometimes there were too many conversations and I am so disappointed because I so wanted to love this book, I truly did, but it just annoyed the hell out of me. It felt a little too flat and too obvious, there was nothing that I can say that surprised me, it didn’t bring anything new and the lack of originality has really bothered me, as I know that I can expect much more from Sarah Morgan. Sure, I can see that the book is already receiving raving reviews, that people are delighted with it, and that’s OK, but it just didn’t work for me.