Books 21-25 in 2015 are:

21.
Erica James – The Dandelion Years
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is one of my favourite types of books, by one of my favourite authors. I really enjoy Erica James novels, and this one was set in both the present day and during WW2. I love books with a dual timeline! This story was interesting, gripping and touching – plus it was set in Bletchley Park, which I found really exciting. My review is HERE.

 

22.
Amanda Hocking – Wake
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is the first book in the Watersong series by Amanda Hocking. I really enjoyed her Trylle series, so had high hopes for this new book. This is young adult, fantasy literature, which I almost always enjoy. This book is darker than Hocking’s Trylle series, and I didn’t enjoy it as much. That said, it wasn’t a boring or bad read – I read this book in two sittings! My review is HERE.

 

23.
Marina Fiorato – The Glassblower of Murano
Rating: 3 out of 5

The Glassblower of Murano is one of those books which has been sitting on my bookcase for a few years, so I added it to my Goodreads Mount TBR Challenge, so I am pleased to report that I have now read it! This is another book which has a dual timeline; present day and the 1600s. I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as I thought I might. I didn’t find the storyline terribly exciting and I wasn’t overly keen on any of the characters. My review is HERE.

24.
Amanda Hocking – Lullaby
Rating – 3 out of 5

This is the second novel in the Watering series by Amanda Hocking. It continues the story of Gemma, and her entanglement with the sirens. Again, this instalment is darker than the first, but as this is a young adult book it doesn’t get too bad! I am enjoying this series. The storyline is gripping, I like the characters and the books are exciting. I have the last two novels to read, and I am looking forward to them.

 

25.
Beth Redman – God Knows My Name
Rating: 5 out of 5

This is the second time I have read this book, and I have loved it each time. Beth Redman looks at our identity in God. She talks about how God knows us, made us, and how we don’t have to feel shame or regret in His presence. This is a great read, full of truth and encouragement about who we are in God, and who God is to us. This is a must-read in my opinion.

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Addition: E-book
Genre: Chick-lit, historical fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Ashcombe was the most beautiful house Saskia had ever seen as a little girl. A rambling pink cottage on the edge of the Suffolk village of Melbury Green, its enchanting garden provided a fairy-tale playground of seclusion, a perfect sanctuary to hide from the tragedy which shattered her childhood.

Now an adult, Saskia is still living at Ashcombe and as a book restorer devotes her days tending to the broken, battered books that find their way to her, daydreaming about the people who had once turned their pages. When she discovers a notebook carefully concealed in an old Bible – and realising someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to hide a story of their own – Saskia finds herself drawn into a heart-rending tale of wartime love…

As you may know, I love Erica James novels! There are only a couple I haven’t read, and I am hoping to read them soon (as well as all the other books I own and haven’t read yet…!) I was excited to read this novel, and I of course enjoyed it!

This is one of my favourite types of novels – set in the present, and set in the past. It had a hint of Rachel Hore and Kate Morton in the writing style – two other authors I really like! I don’t want to give too much away as the synopsis is quite cryptic, but I liked how we jumped from the present day and Saskia’s story, into the diary and WW2. Again, I don’t want to give away too much, but the book felt very well-timed, considering the films which have recently been released.

This novel follows two love stories. I found the story in the diary more gripping than Saskia’s present day story. I struggled a little bit with Saskia. She suffered such a tragic event as a child, but now as an adult her life hasn’t moved on. In many ways, she reminded me of a moody teenager. Even right at the end of the novel, she was still stubborn and I found her hard work. I loved her family though. They had given everything up for her, to try and bring some normality and security into her lost childhood. I loved both her Grandad’s – they were funny and sweet. They made me miss my two Grandad’s, who are sadly not with us anymore.

Like I said, I preferred the story in the diary. I wanted to learn more about the characters and the lives they were leading during WW2. I really enjoyed the historical storyline. I was sucked in and desperate to learn more. It felt relevant and was really engaging. The story was tinged with sadness and the struggle for identity. There was an element of fear and I was hooked.

This isn’t my favourite Erica James book, but it was another novel I have enjoyed. I didn’t like this book as much as her last novel, Summer at the Lake, which is why I am only rating this book 3 out of 5. Erica James writes excellent novels, and there was a lot in this book to recommend it. There are two love stories, there is the search for identity and a study into our families and how as we strive to protect someone we can in fact trap them; and the highlight for me was the diary and the story set in WW2. This is another Erica James novel that I would recommend.

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Addition: E-book, review book from Netgalley
Genre: Chick-lit, historical fiction
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

Floriana loves her job as an Oxford tour guide and thrives on the variety each day brings – one day it could be leading an Inspector Morse and Lewis tour, another day it could be a Pre-Raphaelite tour.

Her biggest failing is that she’s a habitual procrastinator and this leads her to put off telling the one true love of her life how she felt about him until it was too late. Now, out of the blue, after two years of not speaking, she receives a card from Seb announcing his forthcoming marriage.

It’s a card that sets off a chain of events that ensures life is about to change for Floriana. For if she hadn’t been so distracted by Seb’s news, she would have seen the car coming. . . And if she’d seen the car, there would have been no need for Adam Strong, a local property developer, and elderly spinster Esme Silcox to rush to her aid.

And if she hadn’t met Adam and Esme she would never have had the courage to agree to attend Seb’s wedding in beautiful Lake Como. But if she goes, can she be trusted not to leap from her seat and cry, ‘It should have been me!’?

I received this book from Netgalley to review – thank you Netgalley and Orion Publishing for letting me read and review this book.

I love Erica James. The first novel of her’s that I read was Hidden Talents, and from there she has been one of my favourite authors and I have read almost all her books (I have a couple on my TBR pile, and cannot wait to read them).

Like all Erica James novels, this book had me hooked from the beginning and did not let me down. The story follows three people: Floriana, Adam and Esme. The synopsis talks a lot about Floriana but I found that the character that stood out the most to me was Esme. Floriana is worrying as she walks home from work about that dreaded “Save the Date” card that her old friend Seb has sent her. She is so lost in thought that she steps off the pavement and in front of a car that is speeding. The car drives off and leaves Floriana on the road. Fortunately, Adam and Esme, two strangers, are on hand to rush to her aid. This opens up a new friendship for the trio and their lives become entwined. As the friendship develops, we step back in time to hear about Esme’s summer at the lake in Italy and how it completely changed her life. The story jumps between the past and the present as Esme shares her life, Adam breaks up with his girlfriend and has to move on and Floriana needs to decide, will she go to the wedding?

I really enjoyed this book. I particularly like books that are set in the past and present. This novel reminded me of books written by Kate Morton and Rachel Hore – two authors I really enjoy. I found Esme’s story captivating. I wanted to know about her time in Italy and her relationship with her father, a wonderful artist. I wanted to know how she had ended up alone in her eighties. I really liked her. She was kind and compassionate. I found it a joy reading about her life changing with these two new friends – it was like she had found hope again. Esme was the stand out character in the book for me and I really liked her. If she was real, I would like to know her!

This is a wonderful book. I saw this comment on Goodreads:
“I needed to read this now. I needed the hope.”
I think this sums up the book. It is filled with hope – the biggest being that even in your eighties you can make friends who will change your life and you don’t have to be lonely. This novel is currently rated as 4.07 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and it is easy to see why.

There is an element of predictability in this book, but I didn’t find this spoilt the read for me. What I did like was there was no cheesy epilogue. It could have been easy to add on a chapter set a year later with everyone in love living happily ever after. I was so pleased that Erica James chose to not write that.

I have rated this 4 out of 5 because it was a lovely, quick read. The descriptions were beautiful (I know want to go to Italy a lot!) I liked the characters, particularly Esme and I thought it was a brilliant storyline.

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The first book I finished in March is Erica James’ Summer at the Lake. This is book number 11 in 2014, and Goodreads is informing me I am currently 4 books ahead of schedule!

I received this book from Netgalley, a review book website and I would like to thank them and Orion Publishing Group for letting me read and review this book as Erica James is one of my favourite authors and I really enjoyed this book. This is not a cheesy girly book. There is love and friendship, but it is more than that. It is a look back at the summer that changed Esme’s life. I like a book that is set in two eras, such as this book. We are transported to Italy in the middle of twentieth century and we are taken there in 2014. This is a great read. It has love, friendship and hope, and it is edged with sadness too. This is a beautiful read and I really enjoyed it. A review is to come.

Addition: E-book, review book
Genre: Chick-lit, fiction, historical
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Synopsis:

Clayton Miller’s promising media career and personal life are in tatters. To put it all behind him he retreats to a secluded country house. There he meets Alice, who goes to great lengths to avoid telling the truth about herself. When Alice and Clayton discover the truth about each other they form an unlikely friendship…

I love Erica James’ novels ♥ I have read them all, except one, which I have waiting to be read, and like the others, I was not let down by The Queen of New Beginnings. The story follows two characters: Alice and Clayton. The former is private and wants to keep her past hidden. She is a voice-over artist and makes her living reading stories for audiobooks or recording adverts. She has changed her name and lives in a quite, secluded village. Clayton, on the other hand, has had his life ruined in the media. He is a screen writer who has come to the same village to hide out. His girlfriend and best friend have shacked up and are blaming him for the loss of their unborn baby. It is all over the press and Clayton has been shamed. He meets Alice and eventually gets the truth of her past out; only to use it for his salvation…

This is a great story. Alice is a very likeable character – and she made me laugh at the beginning of the novel when she took the persona of  a woman called Katya, who was intimidating, even to Clayton. She has a sad story – a girl who lost her mother, then fell for her step-brother who used her and then broke her heart. She had lost contact with her father over the years and had been living a new life, albeit a fairly lonely one. I enjoyed reading her story and seeing her open up.

I liked Clayton too. He is in hiding, but as we learn more about him, I just felt so sorry for him. Barry, his ex-best friend and his old writing partner really betrayed him, and I felt more angry at him than Clayton’s ex-girlfriend. Clayton does make a monumental mistake – but I understood why he did it, and it had good consequences, which made good reading.

They are not the only two characters who make this book though. James writes some wonderful people, and my overall favourite was easily George, the mad old lady. When we first meet her she is pointing a gun at Clayton, and from there her eccentric ways continue. She even knew Alice as a girl, which was a lovely link to the past. She was wise, very good at reading people, and just a great personality.

There is a lot in this story, with a whole range of characters and events. James keeps you interested the whole way through and it did not take long to read this book. I really enjoyed it. It was realistic, and I found myself getting involved. James has done it again – written a cracking book! This is more mature chick-lit, and I loved it! James writes wonderful locations too, all of which I can still picture, even though I read the book a month ago! I remember the story clearly, and there are some shocks in the story line. The end was fairly predictable, but there were moments when I could have cried, and times when I laughed. And I liked how Clayton and Alice worked as a team and how everything worked out. Top marks from me!

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its the little things

Waterstones Synopsis:

Dan and Sally Oliver and their friend Chloe Hennessey are lucky to be alive. Three years on, after surviving one of the world’s biggest natural disasters – the Boxing Day tsunami – their lives have changed dramatically. Dan and Sally are now parents. Dan is enjoying being a stay-at-home father taking care of their young son, and Sally is the bread winner and loves her job as a partner in a Manchester law firm. The arrangement has so far worked well, but when Dan starts to question whether Sally has got her priorities right, the cracks in their marriage begin to appear. Dan and Sally have everything Chloe wishes for in life – a happy marriage and a beautiful child. Dumped by her long term boyfriend just weeks after the tsunami, she’s been on a mission ever since to find the perfect father for the child she craves. When she meets Seth Hawthorne, she thinks she may have hit the jackpot. But is Seth the man she thinks he is? IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS is a moving, compelling story of how a life can change in a heartbeat.

I am a big fan of Erica James, and this book was not a let down. We follow the lives of Chloe – a woman torturing herself over a decision she made years ago and Dan and Sally as their marriage starts on the slope to destruction. James writes some wonderful characters, and this book is no exception. It was easy to feel emotions towards to the characters – I really felt for Dan as he tried to work out Sally; I had empathy for Chloe as she struggled to fight her feelings for Seth; I gradually began to dislike Sally more and more and I fell in love with Seth!

The storyline is not particularly original, but it made for good reading. I found it interesting that a female writer wrote such a nasty female character – Sally was the bad person in this book nit Dan, and I found that a refreshing read. My only complaint with the story is that it implies in the blurb that the Tsunami would feature a lot in the book, and it doesn’t. There is the occasional mention of the nightmares they were having and the horrors of the event, but by and large it did not feature as much as I thought it would.

Like all other James novels I found this readable and enjoyable. It is a book of 430 pages, and I enjoyed each one. I liked how I had reactions to all the characters and I wanted to find out was happening. This book has left me satisfied. This is decent chick-lit, with twists I wasn’t expected. This is well worth reading.

9/10

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