Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A Cottage by the Sea - Carole Matthews

Grace Taylor is looking forward to a week away with her friends, Ella and Flick at Ella's cottage in Wales. A week to catch up and relax and spend some quality time together, along with Grace's reluctant husband Harry and Ella's partner, Art. However, the week doesn't turn out to be as relaxing as Grace first thought and relationships are tested during this eventful and life changing week in a cottage by the sea.

Grace thinks that a week with her friends will be just what she needs to get away from her London lifestyle and help her to re-evaluate her future. Her husband, Harry, however is not as keen to leave his beloved city along with all technology and connection to the world. Grace is questioning their marriage as they have grown apart and hopes that this week will bring them closer together again.
However, when she comes face to face with a mysterious stranger on the beach, Grace suddenly realises the stark issues with her marriage. And when this mysterious stranger turns out to be the new flame of friend, Flick, it becomes even more problematic.

Whilst the plotline is fairly obvious in the way the story is going to play out, this doesn't take away the excitement and shock of the twists and turns that happen during the week. There is a happy-ever-after, even though it is not the usual fairy-tale ending that one would expect from a romantic novel.

The characters are endearing and, at the beginning, all appeal to the reader in some way. As the novel progresses, they develop and become more than part of the book. I didn't feel completely attached to the characters as I have done in other novels, but there is enough dimension there to keep you hooked as you read and to be genuinely pleased for the outcome of them all.

A nice easy read, perfect for lounging round the pool. I enjoy this genre of book in it's own right, but only tend to read them when on holiday. This suited my needs for my week abroad and I would definitely recommend to anyone else looking for a holiday read. However, I would encourage anyone to read this especially if romantic novels are generally your ideal read (such as my mum).

I would absolutely look through Carole Matthews other work for my next break.

Holiday Reads

Hey Guys,

Not posted anything on here for a while. I've still been reading lots and have ploughed through many books since my last post. So I've got lots of new material to review as well as giving you my thoughts on some classics.

I got back from Ibiza this morning where I spent a week with my boyfriend relaxing, partying and reading some easy and feel-good books. I enjoy reading 'chick-lit' as it is sometimes generalised but only tend to do so when I am holiday as I like a more challenging read normally. But whilst abroad for a week, in Ibiza or anywhere else, an nice, simple read about life working out happily ever after is just what I want lounging by the pool.

This year my choices were random, with only one being based on a previous read. Last year I read Cecelia Ahern's 'P.S I Love You', and so I picked up another of her books, 'The Time of My Life' as I loved my first experience of her work. The other two books were Jenny Colgan's 'The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris' and 'A Cottage by the Sea' by Carole Matthews.

Upon finishing each of these books I was afraid that the following one would not be as good, but I was wrong every time. I read all three books in less than a week and while this was partly due to reading being one of the only activities for most of the holiday, the books were that good that I didn't once feel bored or that I was simply reading to get to the end. I was absorbed by each story and felt committed to each set of characters and their lives within the book.

So here follows a review of each of these books and my full recommendation to take them on yur holiday this year!

Happy Reading


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn


'Gone Girl' was one of those books that was everywhere that I went and I had heard really good reviews about it from people who had already read it. As it says on the cover, it was named as 'Thriller of the Year' by The Observer, a very fitting claim. Nick Dunne's wife, Amy, vanishes on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary and the police suspect Nick. He swears he had nothing to do with it but strange evidence starts turning up that implicates him. The big question is 'What really happened to Amy Dunne?'
There are so many layers to this book that just when you think you have it sorted in your head who you believe and what happened, the ground shifts and you start to question everything again. The twists keep coming right to the end of the book and every single one is shocking and never makes you question the integrity of the plot or its reliability. The different narratives throughout the book also lend it tension as different parts of the story come out in each section, such as diary entries and narratives from the other characters.
As with all thrillers, characters are the main driving for of the plot and they have to be completely three dimensional to the reader and Flynn does not disappoint. Each character is vividly present in the reader's mind and this makes it all the more poignant as the story develops and alliances change. As I was reading, I reached a point when I genuinely did not know who to believe and couldn't even hazard a guess as to how the book would end!
This was a book that I couldn't put down and found myself losing large chunks of time as I told myself 'just one more chapter'. An ideal read for holiday but can definitely be read anytime and probably more than once as there are many things to rediscover and realise in a second reading. I will definitely read more of Gillian Flynn's work after this as it is a glowing reference.

Safe House - Chris Ewan

I bought this book for my Kindle and read the whole thing in a couple of days. It was a random purchase after reading the blurb on Amazon and I couldn't put it down. Rob Hale is involved in a motorbike accident with a woman called Lena. However, when he is questioned about the accident at the hospital, it appears that Lena does not exist. Rebecca, a private investigator who has been hired by Rob's parents to look into the suicide of his sister, Laura, becomes involved with the mysterious case and suddenly the accident doesn't appear to be as simple as it seems. Rebecca and Rob become tangled in a web of deceit and must race to find out the truth about what happened and see that justice is served.
Suspense is rife throughout the book beginning almost from the first page. The book is divided into different parts and each section shows some development in the case and keeps the reader hooked with the tension. It was this element of the narrative that kept me wanting to read on. The promise to just read to the end of the chapter was always thwarted and another four chapters would follow. While this is not conducive to accomplishing any other tasks, this is what makes Safe House such a compelling read.
The characters are integral to the way the storyline plays out and they have enough background to be relatable and believable. You feel that there are true relationships between them and the reader is drawn in to the main characters lives so that they are willing the case to be resolved. Even the minor characters are memorable and play some part in the either the plot or the way the reader constructs their perspective of the story.
The plot is very clever and clues and links to the end of the case are strewn throughout the book, making it all the more pleasurable when the end is reached and you can remember parts that are relevant. I love books that lay out the resolution from page one, yet don't reveal its importance until the very end. I was slightly confused towards the end at some points while trying to follow the loose ends being tied up. However, it wasn't anything that ruined the rest of the book and it soon became apparent after careful reading.
I am extremely pleased I decided to buy this book and would recommend it to those who enjoy crime novels. If you enjoyed 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn, this is a similar style that may be something you would enjoy. A good holiday read but make sure you take plenty more books and this one will only last you a few days!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Killing Floor - Lee Child (A Jack Reacher Novel)


'Killing Floor' is the first book in the Jack Reacher series written by Lee Child. We meet up with Jack Reacher in Georgia, USA where he has spontaneously disembarked a bus in a remote town. Within hours of arriving in Margrave, Reacher has been arrested for murder and so begins the countdown to find out the truth of what happened in order to clear his name before someone else is killed...
The character of Reacher comes across strongly as the narrative is in first person and shows his thought processes as he unofficially investigates the case. His analytical mind is the driving force in the novel along with his relationship with the characters. He forms a romantic attachment with Roscoe and this partnership has an effective balance of 'love-interest' and 'investigative partner' that is believable in the short time that they have known each other. The characters are engaging, vivid and, as a reader, they are key to a crime-thriller as it is a character driven plot.

The plot is filled with suspense and, as with all other Jack Reacher novels, there are many twists that leaves the reader reeling and thinking back over the whole book piecing together the events. There is an urgency throughout the book that builds tension as the climax is reached and finally culminates in the epic resolution.

I have read several of the Jack Reacher novels before a few years ago, but was motivated to reread them again after seeing the film featuring Tom Cruise. I was dubious about seeing the film as Cruise is nothing like I imagine Reacher to be like, but I was glad I went as it got me reading Lee Child's series again.

I would recommend 'Killing Floor' to anyone who likes crime-thrillers, but think it would appeal to anyone who would enjoys a read that mentally stimulates. It is easy to read and would be a great book to read anywhere. The Jack Reacher series does not necessarily need to be read in order but this book introduces Reacher perfectly and sets the scene and character profile for the rest of the books. I couldn't put it down and finished it in a few days so would give it a 5* rating.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

'Gift of Time' - Rory MacLean


‘Gift of Time’ by Rory MacLean is an honest, revealing and emotionally turbulent look into one family’s experience of cancer. Jean is diagnosed with the terminal illness and she, along with her son and daughter-in-law, Katrin, keep individual diaries during the last months of her life.

To say that I enjoyed the book is a somewhat grim statement, given that the content is true, but it was an enjoyable and compelling read. Cancer is something that has an impact on almost everyone’s life in some way and this is what makes ‘Gift of Time’ so appealing and enjoyable; to see how someone else has dealt with their experience and came out the other side.

The different diary entries in the book give the various viewpoints from those involved in Jean’s fight with cancer. Jean herself offers a first-hand insight into how her illness affects her physically, mentally and emotionally. Her voice is inspiring as she fights the disease and she is a character that I warmed to. Rory is her son and his entries are those that many of us could relate to the most; those of the relative who is powerless as he watches a loved one slowly fade away. His is the central voice throughout the book and his entries drive the narrative along forming a plotline. Katrin’s diary entries consist of how Jean’s illness makes her realise the fragility of life and provide inspiration to the reader to make the most of all they have.

You become part of the family whilst reading and are willing the MacLeans to battle on and reach the milestone of Marlie’s wedding. This deadline acts as a timer for the reader who knows that this may or may not come to fruition and so adds an element of suspense to the book.

This book is a thought-provoking and real account of the side of life we all experience but don’t always discuss. This book may be too heavy a topic for a holiday read but I would definitely recommend to others. A reading group would have many areas of discussion with this book, but it may be too sensitive a subject for some members.

Book from www.newbooksmag.com 

My Blog

Hi Everyone!

This is my first time blogging and I have chosen to use it to post about my greatest love in life...books! I am an avid reader and this is why I chose to study English at university. I work full time but reading is something I love to do in my spare time. So I thought I would start a blog in order to share my thoughts on the books I have read with you. And I would really appreciate any thoughts, feedback and recommendations that you guys have for me.
I have an extensive collection of books, both read and as yet unread and this is what I will blog about. So my blog will feature a variety of reviews of new and older books all mixed together so hopefully there is something for everyone.

Speak soon and wish me luck in my first post!