Jenny Sparrow Knows The Future by Melissa Pimentel – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Jenny Sparrow can tell you her future:

1. Meet soulmate at 25
2. Move in with him
3. Marry him this year . . .

According to the plan Jenny made at thirteen, it’s time for her to get married. But when her boyfriend proposes a break instead of a wedding, a girls’ weekend in Vegas is the only solution . . . until she wakes up in a stranger’s bed, and discovers that this is the year she gets married – to the wrong man.
Jenny wants a quick divorce and her old boyfriend back.
But what if her accidental husband has other ideas?

My Review

It is years since I read anything like Jenny Sparrow. I have been trying to remember and it probably is Sophie Kinsella whose books this is likened to. I need a poke in the ribs for leaving it so long, I loved every page of this novel and it was a welcome respite from crime fiction.
Jenny and Isla were brilliant characters, and even though Isla was a little exhausting with some dubious habits she was a good and loyal friend to Jenny. They had a strong friendship that had lasted through their childhood even though they did have different personalities.
You don’t realise at first why Jenny was so obsessed with her lists, I thought it would have been light hearted but there was something much deeper about it so whilst I laughed a lot while reading I was also weepy. In fact, this wasn’t a book I could read in public, laughing, crying and feeling frustrated at some of the decisions she made.
Despite the huge tourist attraction London it was also a lonely place to be and the isolation experienced by Jenny felt real. I liked seeing the different version of London when she was spending time with Jackson. The description of Las Vegas had confirmed its place at the bottom of my list of places I want to visit.
This book is a great read for the summer, I have a vision of it being read on beaches everywhere.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received

 

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray Browne – Review.

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About the Book

Eleanor, Richard and their two young daughters recently stretched themselves to the limit to buy their dream home, a four-bedroom Victorian townhouse in East London. But the cracks are already starting to show. Eleanor is unnerved by the eerie atmosphere in the house and becomes convinced it is making her ill. Whilst Richard remains preoccupied with Zoe, their mercurial twenty-seven-year-old lodger, Eleanor becomes determined to unravel the mystery of the house’s previous owners – including Emily, whose name is written hundreds of times on the walls of the upstairs room.

My Review

I thought that The Upstairs Room would be an old-fashioned ghost story, but whilst it did have some spooky moments there wasn’t many of them. The novel was mainly about three of the individuals who lived there.
I have to say that I struggled to like any of them initially, but as I read more I started to like Eleanor. I would think that being married to a man like Richard would be enough punishment for anybody. But as well as putting up with him she was also the one who suffered most living in the house. She knew that there was something wrong, knew that her eldest daughter was suffering but got no help. She was just reminded that she was ill. Their lodger, Zoe was a mess, she had nothing and had no idea what she wanted. But Richard was also causing problems for her.
I persevered with this novel because even though it wasn’t like I expected it to be, a spooky read, the relationship between the three intrigued me. At times, I found it as chilling as what was happening in the upstairs room. If I had a quibble it would be that I would have liked to know more about what happened in the house in the past with less focus on the present day inhabitants.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via NetGalley.

 

Shelter by Sarah Franklin – Review.

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About the Book

Led here by necessity, she knows she cannot stay. Brought against his will, he never wants to leave.

Early spring 1944.

Connie Granger has escaped her bombed-out city home, finding refuge in the Women’s Timber Corps. For her, this remote community must now serve a secret purpose.

Seppe, an Italian prisoner of war, is haunted by his memories. In the forest camp, he finds a strange kind of freedom.

Their meeting signals new beginnings. But as they are drawn together, the world outside their forest haven is being torn apart. Old certainties are crumbling, and both must now make a life-defining choice.

What price will they pay for freedom? What will they fight to protect?

My Review

When I first saw the publicity for Shelter on social media I was instantly drawn to it. Not only because of its synopsis but also for more personal reasons which I will talk about at the end of the review.
The novel concerns a handful of people and their connection to each other because of the war and the forest. The main character is Connie. Grieving and suffering the consequences of an ill-fated night out in her home town of Coventry she accepts a position with the timber corps in Gloucestershire. There she meets Seppe, Amos, Joyce and Frank and starts to rebuild her life.
Shelter is an incredible book to read. I’m ashamed that I know nothing about Italy’s war but the author has peaked my interest and I am determined to find out more. I loved Seppe’s character alongside that of the three locals. Amos, the stubborn widower who misses his son fighting in the war, Joyce and Frank the childless couple who had so much love to give. And then there was Connie, who some could dislike. She could be selfish and appear unloving but I thought a lot of the way she behaved was due to guilt. I cringed at times with the way she treated Seppe. Even though he felt he was a coward, the way he was with her and Fredo, the camp bully was heroic.
I don’t want to say much about the storyline but the author does an incredible job of showing the way WW2 was fought in a different way. Yes, cities and soldiers do feature but only briefly. This is all about the foresters and how important and unnoticed their role was.
And now the personal reasons. My maternal Grandmother was a Lumber Jill. I struggle to put the image of the tiny, stubborn elderly lady doing a job like the one that Connie did. A reminder that she would have once been a young incredibly resilient woman and I will never forget how proud she was to receive her belated medal.

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The Lost Girl by Carol Drinkwater – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Since her daughter went missing four years earlier, celebrated photographer Kurtiz Ross has been a woman alone. Her only companion her camera. Since Lizzie disappeared, she has blamed and isolated herself, given up hope. Until, out of the blue, an unexpected sighting of Lizzie is made in Paris.
Could this lead to the reconciliation she has dreamed of?
Within hours of Kurtiz arriving in Paris, the City of Light is plunged into a night of hell when a series of terrorist attacks bring the city to a standstill. Amid the fear and chaos, a hand reaches out. A sympathetic stranger in a café offers to help Kurtiz find her daughter.
A stranger’s guiding light
Neither knows what this harrowing night will deliver, but the other woman’s kindness – and her stories of her own love and loss in post-war Provence – shine light into the shadows, restoring hope, bringing the unexpected. Out of darkness and despair, new life rises. New beginnings unfold.
Dare she believe in a miracle?
Set during a time of bloodshed and chaos in one of the most beautiful cities on earth and along the warm fragrant shores of the Mediterranean, Kurtiz discovers that miracles really can happen.

My Review

Kurtiz is in Paris on the night of the Bataclan attacks in November 2015. She is getting increasingly desperate, not knowing if her husband had found their daughter at the concert and whether they were both safe. The subject matter is a little upsetting at times, it’s a recent event and there have been numerous terrorist attacks since that dreadful night. But the flashbacks to Marguerite and Charlie’s life were welcome respite.
It was Marguerite’s story I preferred. I enjoyed reading about her desire to be an actress and the development of her relationship with Charlie. She was a character I wasn’t keen on at first. She seemed a little self- obsessed but by the end of the novel she was my favourite character. I would love to read more about her life in future novels.
The desperation felt by Kurtiz was convincing, not being able to get answers regarding her family’s safety. The things that she witnessed combined with the images I remember from the news at the time were all realistic. As convincing was how hard the emergency services found the situation in which they had been placed. Needing to treat the injured, yet keep worried family members away from the scene.
Some of the novel I felt a little unconvinced by, but this was a novel I enjoyed reading.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.

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This Family Of Things by Alison Jameson – Review.

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About the Book

On his way back up from the yard Bird had seen something white and round – a girl who had curled herself into a ball. Lifting her was like retrieving a ball of newspaper from out of the grass or an empty crisp bag that someone had flung over the ditch. She seemed to lack the bones and meat and muscle of real people. She felt as if she was filled with feathers.

On the day Midge Connors comes hurtling into Bird Keegan’s life, she flings open his small, quiet world. He and his two sisters, Olive and Margaret, have lived in the same isolated community all their lives, each one more alone than the others can know.

Taking in damaged, sharp-edged Midge, Bird invites the scorn of his neighbours and siblings. And as they slowly mend each other, family bonds – and the tie of the land – begin to weigh down on their tentative relationship. Can it survive the misunderstandings, contempt and violence of others?

A poignant and powerful study of the emotional lives of three siblings and the girl who breaks through their solitude.

My Review

This Family Of Things is a novel that focuses mainly on two families in a small town in Ireland. Midge comes from an abusive family, all her brothers and sisters have left home and are not in touch. Bird, Margaret and Olive are siblings who run a farm nearby. When Bird finds Midge late at night all their lives change.
I haven’t read much Irish fiction but the books that I have read I have enjoyed. I like the humour and the approach to life that you never seem to see in novels set elsewhere. I found though, that I didn’t get into this immediately. I think this was mainly because I was only reading a bit at a time. Once I could read it in bigger chunks I enjoyed it a lot more.
All the characters were different, even Bird and his sisters had little in common. All coped with their various problems in different ways and none could be judged with how they chose to live their lives. I did struggle though with the way I felt about Midge until the second half of the novel.
Set in Ireland and Oregon, I preferred the Irish setting. The way the villagers communicated with each other was magical, if not always likeable. A combination of compassion, ridicule, denial, fear and sarcasm that all felt natural.
A different type of novel from my usual crime fiction but it was a welcome one. Recommended.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.