General Fiction

#BookReview
The Story of Our Life by Shari Low
@sharilow

#BookReview The Story of Our Life by Shari Low @sharilowTitle: The Story of Our Life

Author: Shari Low

Published by: Aria on July 1, 2016

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 326

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Aria, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Unwind, laugh, cry … but feel uplifted with this bittersweet love story. Perfect for the fans of Jo-Jo Moyes and Marian Keyes.

So what would you do if your husband slept with another woman?

Colm strolled into my life fifteen years ago. If there’s ever such a thing as love at first sight, that was it for us both.

A few weeks later we married, celebrating with those who cared, ignoring the raised eyebrows of the cynics.

We knew better. This was going to be forever. The dream come true. The happy ever after.

Until it wasn’t.

Because a couple of months ago everything changed. We discovered a devastating truth, one that blew away our future and forced us to revisit our past, to test the bonds that were perhaps more fragile than they seemed.

So now I ask you again, what would you do if your husband slept with another woman?

Because this is what I did.

I’m Shauna.

And this is the Story of Our Life…


Review:

Deeply moving, insightful, and sweet.

This is a heartwarming story that, ultimately, reminds us how precious life really is.

It has a wonderful cast of characters that are strong, real, and empathetic. And the plot is written in a past/present, back and forth, style that gives a wonderful depth and appreciation to all the personalities and relationships within it.

The writing is extremely well done, and you will not only laugh, but cry, as this tale of love, heartbreak, friendship, hardship, and loss unfolds.

It truly is a lovely, bittersweet novel that was a pleasure to read.

 

This book is due to be published on July 1, 2016.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Aria Fiction, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Shari Low

Shari Low has published twenty novels over the last two decades. She also writes for newspapers, magazines and television. Once upon a time, she got engaged to a guy she’d known for a week, and twenty-something years later, they live in Glasgow with their two teenage sons and a labradoodle.

#BookReview
The Last Days of Summer by Sophie Pembroke

#BookReview The Last Days of Summer by Sophie PembrokeTitle: The Last Days of Summer

Author: Sophie Pembroke

Published by: Carina UK on June 9, 2016

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 384

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Carina UK, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Escape to the beautiful world of Rosewood this summer 

The only feel good summer read you’ll need, The Last Days of Summer is perfect for fans of Harriet Evans, Debbie Johnson and Lucy Diamond.

Saskia has always loved Rosewood. It was her family home, her sanctuary and her memories of it are vividly alive even after two years of being absent. Never did she think she would be standing in the rose garden afraid to cross the threshold and own up to the past she had run away from.

So much about Rosewood hasn’t changed, everyone still dresses for dinner, sips cocktails on the terrace, her father cooks every delicious meal and her beloved grandfather still tells spellbinding stories. But the cold reception from her grandmother, Ellie’s complete avoidance of her and the judgmental gaze of Edward, her grandfather’s new assistant (who seems to know more than enough about her past), are all new to Kia.

All Kia needs to do is attend her grandparent’s Golden Wedding Party and make it to the train station without her secret coming out. What could possible go wrong in just one weekend?


Review:

Interesting, intriguing, and thought-provoking!

This is an engaging novel that touches on the importance of familial dynamics, secrets, loss, forgiveness, love, the power of truth, and the importance of home.

The characters are well-developed, complex, and flawed. And the plot builds nicely, unravelling piece by piece, keeping you captivated until the very end.

This is a compelling story that, ultimately, reminds us that all our lives are sprinkled with a little bit of fiction.

It is a very enjoyable, easy read and I would definitely recommend it.

 

This book is due to be published on June 9, 2016.

 

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Carina UK, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

#BookReview
What We Didn’t Say by Rory Dunlop
@roryjamesdunlop

#BookReview What We Didn’t Say by Rory Dunlop @roryjamesdunlopTitle: What We Didn't Say

Author: Rory Dunlop

Published by: Bonnier Zaffre on June 30, 2016

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 320

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Bonnier Publishing, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A darkly funny story of a marriage in crisis, perfect for readers who loved Us by David Nicholls and The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

Jack and Laura have separated. Jack thinks it’s all Laura’s fault.

Laura disagrees.

Jack writes to Laura, desperate to put across his side of the story.

Laura interrupts.

Wryly sarcastic and intensely well-observed, What We Didn’t Say is about that gap between words and feelings where relationships live – and die.


Review:

Deeply moving, insightful, and captivating.

This is a poignant novel that reminds us that life is short and precious, and that fundamentally we all need to love and be loved.

It touches on familial dynamics, marriage, secrets, jealousy, love, trust, and the importance of communication.

The story is written using a two-person narration, in a creative and unique style, which allows readers to flow both effortlessly between past and present, as well as hear both perspectives seamlessly.

It is well written. The prose is simple, precise, and darkly witty.  And the characters are complex and real.

This is engaging story with a powerful impact, and I highly recommend it.

 

This book is due to be published on June 30, 2016.

 Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon link.

Amazon UK

 

For more information on Rory Dunlop, follow him on Twitter at: @roryjamesdunlop

 

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Bonnier Publishing, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

#BookReview
Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen

#BookReview Miller’s Valley by Anna QuindlenTitle: Miller's Valley

Author: Anna Quindlen

Published by: Random House on April 5, 2016

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 257

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Filled with insights that are hallmarks of Anna Quindlen’s bestsellers, this extraordinary novel is about a woman coming of age, as she unearths secrets about her family and her town, and surprising truths about herself.

For generations the Millers have lived in Miller’s Valley. Mimi Miller tells about her life with intimacy and honesty. As Mimi eavesdrops on her parents and quietly observes the people around her, she discovers more and more about the toxicity of family secrets, the dangers of gossip, the flaws of marriage, the inequalities of friendship and the risks of passion, loyalty, and love. Home, as Mimi begins to realize, can be “a place where it’s just as easy to feel lost as it is to feel content.” 

Miller’s Valley is a masterly study of family, memory, loss, and, ultimately, discovery, of finding true identity and a new vision of home. As Mimi says, “No one ever leaves the town where they grew up, even if they go.” Miller’s Valley reminds us that the place where you grew up can disappear, and the people in it too, but all will live on in your heart forever.


Review:

This is a very interesting and intriguing story.

It is a sobering novel that reminds us that life is short and precious, and that everyone and everything that enters our life shapes us in some way and makes us who we are today.

It touches on familial dynamics, secrets, friendship, unconditional love, and the true meaning of home.

This story is well written. The characters are complex and real. And the first-person narration, by Mimi, captures you from the beginning and sweeps you along through her life’s highs and lows effortlessly.

This is a quiet, subtle story with a powerful impact that I think would be a shame to miss.

 

#BookReview
The Moment of Everything by Shelly King

#BookReview The Moment of Everything by Shelly KingTitle: The Moment of Everything

Author: Shelly King

Published by: Grand Central Publishing on September 2, 2014

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 270

Format: Paperback

Source: Borrowed

Book Rating: 7.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

In the tradition of The Cookbook Collector comes a funny, romantic novel about a young woman finding her calling while saving a used bookstore.

Maggie Duprès, recently “involuntarily separated from payroll” at a Silicon Valley startup, is whiling away her days in The Dragonfly’s Used Books, a Mountain View institution, waiting for the Next Big Thing to come along.
When the opportunity arises for her to network at a Bay Area book club, she jumps at the chance-even if it means having to read Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a book she hasn’t encountered since college, in an evening. But the edition she finds at the bookstore is no Penguin Classics Chatterley–it’s an ancient hardcover with notes in the margins between two besotted lovers of long ago. What Maggie finds in her search for the lovers and their fate, and what she learns about herself in the process, will surprise and move readers.

Witty and sharp-eyed in its treatment of tech world excesses, but with real warmth at its core, The Moment of Everything is a wonderful read.


Review:

This was a book club read for me this month, and I have to say I enjoyed it.

To me this story is a journey of finding one’s self, discovering what makes you happy, realizing that sacrifices are not really sacrifices when we make them for love, and friendship. 

The setting is a wonderful juxtaposition, where on the one hand we have a quaint used book store. A store seeped in history and the past, right down to the musty shelves and the crinkled pages. And on the other hand we have Silicon Valley, the epitome of the future, all things new, better, faster and electronic.

The story flows nicely. The prose is subtle but lovely. And the characters are quirky, interesting and engaging.

It is a nice, heart-warming story that was a pleasure to read.

 

#BookReview
The Things We Knew by Catherine West

#BookReview The Things We Knew by Catherine WestTitle: The Things We Knew

Author: Catherine West

Published by: Thomas Nelson on July 12, 2016

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 352

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Thomas Nelson, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

When their tragic past begins to resurface, can he help her remember the things she can’t?

After her mother’s death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother’s death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can’t remember a bit of it.

But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him. Once her brother’s best friend and Lynette’s first crush, Nick seems to hiding things from her. Lynette wonders what he knows about the day her mother died and hopes he might help her remember the things she can’t.

But Nick has no intention of telling Lynette the truth. Besides the damage it might cause his own family, he doesn’t want to risk harming the fragile friendship between him and the woman he once thought of as a kid sister.

As their father’s failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface—secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question all they ever believed in.


Review:

This is an intriguing story about the difficult challenges we face in life and how we each, independently, cope with them.

It is an engaging mystery that touches on the importance of familial relationships, secrets, loss, forgiveness, grace, and, ultimately, the power of truth.

It is well written. And the characters are well-developed, complex, interesting and flawed.

Overall, I found this novel to be a nice, heartwarming enjoyable read.

 

This book is due to be published on July 12, 2016.

 

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

#BookReview
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
@WmKentKrueger

#BookReview Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger @WmKentKruegerTitle: Ordinary Grace

Author: William Kent Krueger

Published by: Atria Books on March 4, 2014

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 307

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger comes a brilliant new novel about a young man, a small town, and murder in the summer of 1961.

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were at the ready at Halderson’s Drug Store soda counter, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a summer in which death assumed many forms.

When tragedy unexpectedly comes to call on his family, which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother, Frank finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal.

On the surface, Ordinary Grace is the story of the murder of a beautiful young woman, a beloved daughter and sister. At heart, it’s the story of what that tragedy does to a boy, his family, and ultimately the fabric of the small town in which he lives. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, it is a moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.


Review:

This is a really great story about the challenges we face in life and the ways in which we handle them.

It is a coming-of-age story, with a side of mystery, that touches on the power of perspective, the strength of familial relationships, friendship, loss, grief, forgiveness and faith.

It is exquisitely written. The prose is beautiful. The setting is vividly described. And the characters are well-developed and complex.

It is a subtle story that flows effortlessly, leaves an impression, and makes an impact.

I highly recommend it. It is definitely worth a read.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

For more information on William Kent Krueger, visit his website at: williamkentkrueger.com

or follow him on Twitter at: @WmKentKrueger

 

#BookReview
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

#BookReview The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina GeorgeTitle: The Little Paris Bookshop

Author: Nina George

Published by: Broadway Books on March 22, 2016

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 416

Format: Paperback

Source: Borrowed

Book Rating: 6.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives.


Review:

As a book lover, I was really excited to read this book. I thought it had a great premise and great potential. Unfortunately, for me, it didn’t live up to my expectations and I can’t really pinpoint exactly where it went wrong.

The imagery of Paris and the French countryside is vivid, bold, and extremely well done. The characters evolve, develop, and grow throughout the story. And the plot is unique and thoughtful.

It is, ultimately, a story about loneliness and longing, the ability to love and to be loved, and what it means to truly live.

However, saying all that, it just never seemed to capture my attention. It didn’t flow well and I found myself putting it down numerous times before pushing myself to pick it back up to finish it. 

This is probably one of those stories that some people will love, but I would have to say with all the other great stories out there I would give this one a miss.

 

#BookReview
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

#BookReview A Man Called Ove by Fredrik BackmanTitle: A Man Called Ove

Author: Fredrik Backman

Published by: Hodder And Stoughton Ltd. on March 27, 2015

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 294

Format: Paperback

Source: Borrowed

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.


Review:

I was really surprised at how much I liked this book.

This is a really touching, funny, melancholy story.

It is, ultimately, a story about life. It takes us on journey through loss and grief, finding the will to survive, and the importance of being needed.

The characterization is extremely well done. The main character, Ove, is a quirky, quiet, stubborn, big-hearted man you can’t help but love. And the secondary characters are bold, unique, and entertaining, right down to the SAAB.

It was a delight to read this story about, Ove. I laughed. I cried. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thank you Allison for lending me this book. It was terrific and I can’t wait to recommend it to others.

 

 

About Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove (soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, as well as two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.

#BookReview
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

#BookReview The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle ZevinTitle: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Author: Gabrielle Zevin

Published by: Penguin Canada Books Inc. on April 4, 2014

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 260

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books–and booksellers–that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.  

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island–from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.


Review:

I am a little embarrassed to say that I purchased this book quite a long time ago and only just picked it up to read last night.

Saying that, this is one of my favourite books I have read so far this year. I loved it. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting.

It is a lovely, warm, bittersweet story that touches on how life is short, and how the choices we make and the experiences we have shape us, and those around us, more than we may think. 

It is also a story about books, those who write books, those who sell books, and those who love books.

The prose is simple but elegant. The characters are unique and engaging. And the plot is insightful, funny, interesting, and a little sad.

This is a beautifully written book and I can’t wait to share it at book club. 

It really is a must read for all book lovers.

 

 

About Gabrielle Zevin

GABRIELLE ZEVIN is an internationally bestselling author whose books have been translated into over thirty languages.

Her eighth novel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (2014), spent months on the New York Times Best Seller List, reached #1 on the National Indie Best Seller List, and has been a bestseller all around the world. The Toronto Globe and Mail called the book “a powerful novel about the power of novels.” Her debut, Margarettown, was a selection of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program. The Hole We’re In was a New York Times Editor’s Choice title.

She also writes books for young readers. Her best known young adult novel is Elsewhere, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book. Of Elsewhere, the New York Times Book Review wrote, “Every so often a book comes along with a premise so fresh and arresting it seems to exist in a category all its own… Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin, is such a book.”

She is the screenwriter of Conversations with Other Women (Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Eckhart) for which she received an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Best First Screenplay. In 2009, she and director Hans Canosa adapted her novel Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (ALA Best Books for Young Adults) into the Japanese film, Dareka ga Watashi ni Kiss wo Shita. She has also written for the New York Times Book Review and NPR’s All Things Considered. She began her writing career at age fourteen as a music critic for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Zevin is a graduate of Harvard University. She lives in Los Angeles. Her 9th novel is Young Jane Young.

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