Showing posts with label Women's Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Women's Fiction. Show all posts

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse


The problem with this book was that it stayed with me as I started the next one! I just couldn’t seem to get the characters….and not just the main one…out of my head. 



Stay-at-home wife and mum Nina’s life is shattered to smithereens when her husband, Finn, is tragically killed in a car accident. However, the gaping wounds of her loss have salt cruelly rubbed into them when she discovers Finn left her with millions of pounds of debt. Gone are her rich lifestyle and all its trappings, gone is the posh private school for her children, gone is her mansion of a house. With few, if not no, options left to her, she is forced to return to the council estate in Southampton, where she grew up and where her sister still lives, not only to try and make sense of what has happened but to work out how she is going to feed, clothe and house her family.


This is an excellent story with a plot and characters that ooze credibility on every page. It’s a story of tragedy and loss, enlightenment and achievement. It was my first date with this author, and I’m already lining up a few more. I’ve read many a good book, but few imprint themselves in my mind enough to distract me in my subsequent read, so, Ms Prowse, I can confidently say: job jolly well done.




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Stay Tuned by Lauren Clark

Melissa, producer of a news programme, is in a marriage which has lost its mojo…husband is never home and communication is on a yellow-Post-It basis. Added to which, her news anchors have a live fisticuffs on the evening show, resulting in both being dismissed and Melissa having to spruce herself up and fill in. Oh, and one more thing: her mother has dementia.

This all sounds all rather tame for a plot, if I’m honest. BUT…I really, really enjoyed this. What could have been a somewhat schmaltzy, boring, clichéd story was actually a very well-written one that kept me interested from start to finish, and I found myself really looking forward to picking up the story every night for my pre-beauty-sleep read. No schmaltz, no boring, no clichés. Written articulately with style, it was actually quite wholesome with some down-to-earth, believable characters. Every relationship was handled with skill and insight…they were diverse, relatable and sometimes touching.

And how refreshing to find a well-edited book for a change…quite the icing on the cake. A light and easy read, yes, indeed, but one that doesn’t skimp on balance or sincerity.






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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

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The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes


I’m a good many books away from having read a traditionally published book, so I thought I would dip in, just to see if all those harsh critics of self-published books had any basis for their unfavourable comments. Well, on the basis of this book…they haven’t.

The One Plus One features Jess, a single mum struggling to support two children after the departure of their father: a mum who wants to do the right thing whatever the circumstances and who wants instil the same ethic in her children. Tanzie is a mathematical child prodigy, and Nicky is taunted by neighbourhood bullies. They're both ‘different’ in their own way, and Jess wants to do her best for both, but a financially unsupportive ex-husband makes life very difficult.

The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Ed Nicholls is a computer software genius, financially secure with a glowing future—glowing until an error of judgement in some pillow talk rocks his world. Jess and her business partner, Nathalie, clean his house, and her relationship with him is strictly professional, but as it happens, a great deal is about to changefor him and for her.

I really did enjoy this. It was a very appealing story with some engaging characters, great dialogue and a drooling dog you just had to adore. It was very easy to climb right inside the story and feel you were part of it all. Jojo is obviously very good at her craft. However, I think she’s spent too much time in the US…whilst the writing is distinctly British, a few very American phrases have crept in, and they stood out like a sore thumb; they just weren’t necessary. I also had to raise my eyebrows at the speed at which a character was attended to in A&E. You don’t just drop in and get treated without waiting for at least two to four hours, I’m afraid.

What I was surprised…and irritated…by was the standard of editing. One of the main criticisms of the anti-indie community is just that: poor editing. The editor of this book had no idea of comma usage, there was a time and tense discrepancy and annoying font changes…I had to keep changing the font size of my Kindle. So I’m disappointed that a big publisher and this author simply don’t care about standards or their readers. As long as they’re skipping all the way to the bank with their £££s, that’s enough, it seems.

I do recommend this book, but I have read better-edited self-published books.






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Monday, November 13, 2017

Hot Gossip by Susanne O'Leary

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Hot Gossip is the sequel to Hot Property. Susanne has done an outstanding job of enabling it to stand alone, with well-thought-out references to its prequel.

Also set in the beautiful Irish countryside, Hot Gossip features Janine Marchand, a rather enigmatic (and charismatic) young and beautiful Frenchwoman, with an intriguing and colourful past. She seeks to escape the more unsavoury aspects of that past in a small, quaint village in Ireland, backdropped by austere and stunning landscape. Her endeavours to stay incognito are not helped by two men in the village, who are captivated by her, and the daughter of one of them, twelve-year-old Nelia, whose impressionability and somewhat hasty immature actions lead to near tragedy.

The story weaves expertly back and forth from a heady time in Egypt, back to the sleepy Irish village, the times and events a sharp contrast to each other. As with Hot Property, it’s obvious the fondness O’Leary has for her adopted Ireland: she sells it better than any Lonely Planet guide!

Janine, Nelia, Jake (the significant other from her time in Egypt), and Mick (Nelia’s father) are all strong, know-their-own-minds characters. Makes for some delightful ‘fireworks’, and it’s wonderful to see Polish Beata and her big-bear husband, Boris, (from Hot Property) making a reappearance.

Wonderfully written, as always by this author, this is a ‘fine romance’.


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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Ebook Torn by Gilli Allan

AMAZON UK
AMAZON US

I’m often teased for my dogged determination to finish every book I start, regardless of its quality. Had I been the sort of person to discard a book at the early stages because it wasn’t grabbing me, this might have been one such book. At the beginning, I couldn’t engage with the main character, Jess—a fast-living, good-time girl with a young son of indeterminate paternity. I'm so glad I have a ‘read-it-at-all costs’ policy! This turned out to be a romance with attitude and gumption, and I found myself page-turning frantically.

Ebook Torn by Gilli Allan

With a three-year-old young son, father unknown—the product of alcohol- and drug-fuelled free living, Jess finds herself fleeing her abusive boyfriend, taking refuge in rural England. Her old habits die hard and she finds herself boomeranging between a young ‘eco-warrier’ and a ‘gentleman’ farmer. Two men, completely different, both with their own ‘baggage’ and crosses to bear. She loves both. She knows one is unsuitable and the other perfect husband material. She is torn.

Allan brings the three main characters to life vividly. Actually, she brings all her characters to life. They are superbly drawn, and I had a clear picture of all of them. Allan didn’t make me work hard to imagine them. Her research, too, was in-depth and meticulous. There are many references to and scenes involving farming practices. Far from blinding me with science, they were described in just enough detail to set the stage, but fascinating at the same time.

I didn’t like Jess at first, but she grew on me, despite her questionable morals. She knows her own mind, is strong, focussed, and determined. Her choices aren’t obvious. And that’s what I liked about this romance: there was no predictability about it. 

Ebook Torn by Gilli Allan


Unfortunately, I had an issue with the editing, or rather lack of it. It was obviously self-edited, and it was littered with innumerable errors, some wayward tenses and the dreaded homophone it’s/its. Too many errors for me to be able to give this five stars, regrettably. It’s such a shame when the standard of writing isn’t matched by the standard of editing.


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Sliding Past Vertical by Laurie Boris

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AMAZON US

Sliding Past Vertical by Laurie Boris


And another winner by Laurie Boris.

Who, out of Sarah, Emerson, and Rashid, will surface unscathed from their pools of unfortunate choices, wrong decisions, and tragedy?



If you’re thinking, goodness, am I going to enjoy a book which seems to be tinged with doom and gloom, let me assure you right now, yes, you will.

When Sarah finally fleas the evils of her latest unsuitable partner, she heads for the only place she knows she will find solace. Her dear friend, Emerson, whom she met at college, years before. They fell in love. She fell out of love. Or did she? Emerson, however, never stopped loving her and could only stand by while she made endless disastrous choices of subsequent partners. Good old Emerson. Always there for her, always supporting her, always Emerson. His mundane job in an old people’s home is supplemented by his writing of ‘those’ sorts of stories for a men’s magazine, which in turn supplements his aspirations to become a serious writer. If only Sarah could always be around.

Rashid is his housemate. A brilliant researcher from India, constrained by the rigours of his culture. A constraint which ultimately threatens to break the tenable link between the three.

Once again, Laurie throws every last drop of emotion and credibility into her characters. What emerge are people, not characters. They’re real. You want to reach out to them and say ‘No! Please! Don’t do that!’ You feel you know them, you care about them, and want to help them.

It’s an intense novel that sucks you in from the start and doesn’t let you go until the final word. Excellent.



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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Not to Us by Katherine Owen

AMAZON UK
AMAZON US

I admire every single person who writes a book. I may not like the book, it may have faults, but I can’t ever take away from an author that he or she has poured out thousands of words to fulfil a dream to pen a novel. Truly admirable.

So, here’s the thing: the key word there is the ‘a’ in 'a great idea'. I can’t help thinking that this author scribbled down a number of ideas and thought, I know, I’ll put them all into one book. Result? Idea overload. (Which stretched to covers as well: I've seen four for this book.)  Can you have too much drama in one book? Quite possibly. 

Ellie’s husband has an affair with her best friend. The big C rears its ugly head. Ellie marries best friend’s husband. That’s probably enough to make a pretty good story, but no, let’s throw in two tragic deaths, a pregnancy, infidelity (yes, more) and you find yourself pretty stuffed after this smorgasbord of cheesiness.

And now, just to confuse you…despite what I’ve said, I…er…actually quite enjoyed it. (quite…let’s not get too carried away). 

I found it a little hard to understand how Ellie seemed to be able to have men…three of them…falling at her feet. She was full of cancer and babies and not much personality, and yet they were all declaring undying love for her. It was all a bit mushy, despite dealing with some pretty full-on issues, and none of the characters were developed enough. It was hard to like, or even dislike, any of them.

Four things irritated me: the repetitive ‘bodacious tah tahs’. First time was amusing. The second, a little less. The third raised a titter. But after the seventeenth time, I’d had enough. I was also a little irked by the habit-of-stringing-a-whole-sentence-together-with-hyphens-to-make-it-an-adjective. Thirdly, this was written in the first person, present tense. It didn’t work. The (huge) issues in this book were ones dealt with by different people in different ways: I didn't perceive the gamut of emotions of the other characters, because of the first person POV and present tense. Lastly, the main character, Ellie, is an editor. A pity she didn’t edit her own book. There are a number of grammatical and punctuation howlers.

I really can’t quite fathom why I found it such a compelling read! Apart from the afore-mentioned annoyances, this author does write rather well. There was something about this work that drew me in, and ultimately, it was an effortless read.





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