Saturday, 29 August 2009

61 Days to go!!!



I know that loads of people have written about Marian Keyes' new book The Brightest Star in the Sky which is released on October 29th but I have just realised how excited I am about this! 61 days to go, I was hoping it would be out in time for my birthday (October 20th) as then it could have gone on my wish list but it's only a few weeks after.
Watermelon was the first Marian Keyes book that I read when on one of those awful holidays you have to go on with your parents as you're just that little bit too young to stay at home and fend for yourself. This book was definitely my introduction to the world of Chick Lit and I don't think that I could have started with a better author. Since then I have devoured every single book she has written as they come out and loved every single one of them. A lot of people have said that This Charming Man had a very different feel to Marian Keyes' other books and I think it did as it was a little bit darker but the way she dealt with the issues in that book was excellent and the humour and witty dialogue were still there in abundance.
The Brightest Star in the Sky does not sound like it is going to disappoint either:
At 66, Star Street in Dublin, someone is watching over the lives of the people living in its flats. But no one is aware of it- yet. One of them is ready to take the plunge and fall in love; another is torn between two very different lovers. For some, secrets they want to stay buried will come to light and for others, the unveiling of these secrets will have tragic consequences. Fate is on its way to Star Street, bringing with it love and tragedy, friendship and heartbreak, and the power to change their lives in the most unexpected of ways.

If you have not read a Marian Keyes book then you really are missing out, check out her website for some more information about her previous releases, or like me you can read the new one in just 61 days!!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Review: A Romantic Getaway by Sarah Monk


I loved this book, I think it has only taken me just over a day to read it as I enjoyed it so much!
We meet sisters Marilyn and Liesel at the beginning of the book, they are struggling to make ends meet in their tiny London flat, plus they have Marilyn's five year old son Alex to provide for. This all changes when they discover that Alex has inherited a hotel in Cornwall from his great aunt Nancy. The only catch is that they have to run it for a season first, otherwise it is passed on to Godrich, Aunt Nancy's hypochondriac dog who they have also inherited!
So Marilyn, Liesel and Alex set off for their new life in Cornwall and it doesn't take them long to realise how huge the task they have undertaken is. However, they soon have a new group of friends and a love interest for both sisters in the form of the gorgeous local vet and the hotel's live-in handy man. But as with all good stories, things do not always go smoothly; the girls new life in idyllic Cornwall comes under attack and they have to fight for what they have come to love.
The characters in this book are brilliant, I am extremely close to my sister so I could totally identify with the relationship between Liesel and Marilyn. The setting was perfect too, I love the idea of a big old hotel in Cornwall, complete with a tower and eccentric employees.
If you want a good, light book that keeps you entertained from the very beginning then give A Romantic Getaway a go!

Booking Through Thursday: Recent Fluff



What’s the lightest, most “fluff” kind of book you’ve read recently?

I'm not sure if I like would like to use the word 'fluff' to describe it but the lightest book that I have read recently would be Life's Too Short to Frost a Cupcake by Rosie Wilde. It was pure escapism, basically Alice has got a good, solid job at Carmichael Music, an extremely reliable boyfriend and a family that doesn't cause her too much trouble. However, this all changes when Alice's boss from New York pays a visit to the London office. Alice is pretty certain that she is in the firing line, but instead she is offered a dream job opportunity in America. The only catch is that the aim of her glamorous new job is to persuade the once-successful but now highly reclusive rock star, Wyatt Brown to record an album.

I'm really enjoying reading some lighter books at the moment, it's lovely to just drift away somewhere pleasant for a while! What's the lightest book that you have read recently?

Friday, 21 August 2009

Review: The Believers by Zoe Heller


My lovely sister bought me this book; I have not ready anything by Zoe Heller before but I am going to read her other books after finishing The Believers.
The story revolves around the Litvinoffs, a dysfunctional family living in New York. Audrey makes a shocking discovery about her husband Joel; he is a radical lawyer who she thought she knew inside out. Their daughter, Rosa, begins a journey into Orthodox Judaism, pleasing her atheist parents no end. Karla is in a loveless marriage with nobody to turn to for support, especially not her own mother who does not have a kind word to say about her. Lenny, the adopted Litvinoff, is taking drugs again and looking for a new route in life.
The book is extremely tense; I greatly disliked the character of Audrey and the way she forces everyone to dance around her, constantly treading on egg shells. The dialogue created by Zoe Heller is superb, it is extremely natural and I think it is the aspect of the book that I enjoyed the most.
The Believers does discuss religion but so much more as well. It explores the relationships we believe in and the amount of unquestioning trust that we place in them. Ultimately each character is led to question their beliefs in some way yet they are all desperately searching for something to place their beliefs in. I think that is how most of us get through life; we have to place our beliefs, hopes and aspirations in something in order to make sense of our surroundings and experiences.
This book gave me a great deal to think about and I know that I will return to it again in the future. Zoe Heller has created brilliant, vivid characters who she provides with an excellent plot and sparkling dialogue, making The Believers an extremely difficult book to put down.

Review: The Secret Life of Evie Hamilton by Catherine Alliott


I read my first Catherine Alliott book, A Crowded Marriage a few months ago and loved it so when I heard that Penguin were publishing her new book, I couldn't wait to get hold of a copy!
It has only taken me two days to read as I was completely gripped from the very first page. Evie Hamilton lives in Oxford with her best-selling author husband and their beautiful daughter Anna. They have a charming life but this is about to come to an end when a letter arrives on Evie's doormat. Suddenly her whole life feels as though it is under attack and nothing will be the same again. I don't want to give too much away about the plot but there are many twists and turns and a very big surprise at the end that I really did not see coming.
Catherine Alliott sets the scene perfectly; I love how she conjured up Evie's idyllic life in Oxford, surrounded by the university and the rich culture it has to offer. Equally as lovely and believable was the setting of Evie's family home, a farm in rural Oxfordshire, run by Evie's worn-out brother Tim and sister-in-law Caro. I could totally imagine these places and Catherine Alliott takes you below the surface to show you that things are not always as perfect as they seem and that you should not always assume that people are blissfully happy and content with their lot in life.
I really identified with the character of Evie Hamilton and her insecurities. Her strength lies in her honesty about how she is feeling; many people put on a facde but it seems that she is almost unable to.
I think that I am going to become a big fan of Catherine Alliott's books! I find her similar to Lisa Jewell and Marian Keyes in that her writing style is extremely witty and entertaining, especially the dialogue but the poignant moments are still there and always beautifully created.
If you want a book that will make you giggle but also stop and think then I would definitely recommend giving this a go!

Review: The Seance by John Harwood


I ordered this book after reading Simon's review over at Savidge Reads and it came just in time for my holiday. I have to say that a cruise ship in the Mediterranean sunshine is probably not the best environment in which to read a Victorian mystery but it certainly didn't spoil it!
We meet the character of Constance Langton in 1881, she lives in a darkly, depressing home. Her father shows no interest in her and her mother is grief-stricken over the loss of her other daughter, Alma. It is her mother's grief which leads Constance to attend a seance and the consequences are grave, leaving her utterly alone in the world. As she struggles to contemplate the future, she is told the news that she is to inherit Wraxford Hall; a sinister estate with a mysterious and extremely murky past. This inheritance only serves to take Constance into an even darker world of apparitions, murder and blackmail.
John Harwood has created such an air of mystery and suspense and it permeates throughout the whole book. I constantly felt as though something or someone was lurking in the shadows and nothing was what it seemed. The story has many twists and turns as Harwood highlights aspects of society at the time, especially the vulnerable position of women. The two central female characters go through extreme unhappiness due to male figures in their life and the power that they wield over them.
It was extremely interesting to read about spiritualism in the Victorian period and it reminded me of Affinity by Sarah Waters which also deals with this subject. Interestingly, I don't think that people's views and opinions have changed that much; it's just that now you can openly voice your beliefs without the threat of being locked up in an asylum.
As I've said before, I love books that include a big, old, country house and Wraxford Hall with its crumbling facade and disappearing occupants is just perfect! I think that I will definitely read this book again; Harwood weaves a brilliant story and whilst it didn't scare me out of my wits, it certainly did send the odd shiver down my spine!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Review: A Spring Affair by Milly Johnson


How on earth did fiesty, fun-loving Lou Casserly become the ultimate 'surrended wife'? Long gone is the outrageous girl who once dreamed up wild plans with her best friend Deb. Now Lou is a lonely, picked on woman who no longer realises when she is being taken advantage of- whether by her never satisfied mother or unfaithful husband Phil.
Then one day, she picks up a dog-eared magazine and spots an article about clearing clutter, little realising how it will change her life. What begins as an earnest spring clean soon spirals out of control. The more Lou lets go of, the more light and air can get to those painful, closed up places at the centre of her heart. When she meets hunky, local man Tom Broom, she sees her philandering husband in a very different light. But, even with Tom's help, can Lou Winter manage to put the spring back into her step? And who knows where her new found zest for the stripped-back life will take her next?

This is the first book by Milly Johnson that I have read, somehow I missed her first book, The Yorkshire Pudding Club. I loved how she offers you little snippets of information along the way, you keep turning the pages in order to get more. The character of Lou Winter was extremely well created; we meet the down-trodden Lou who has been with Phil for far too long and lost who she truly is. As the story progresses we start to see the real Lou shine through as she begins to take control of her life again.
I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it! It was the perfect book to ease me into my holiday!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

I'm back!!

Well I got home last night! Mr S and I had a perfect wedding day and a really lovely honeymoon! Still trying to take it all in to be honest and there are still many pictures to look at and a lot of wedding cake to eat! I really enjoyed all of the books that I read while I was away and reviews will be appearing over the next few days so come back and have a look! Hope that you are all okay, I have really missed reading all your blogs while I have been away so I'm going to be making many visits to find out what you have all been up to!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

I'm off!!!


Well I am off to get married! I can't tell you how excited I am to become Mrs S!! Thank you for all your lovely messages and book suggestions for the honeymoon!! I will be back on August 18th and will hopefully have lots of lovely book reviews to share! See you all soon! xxx

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