Friday, 4 December 2015

Masquerade by Hannah Fielding

Paperback, 442 pages
Published August 6th 2015 by London Wall (first published August 1st 2015)
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb:

"A young writer becomes entangled in an illicit gypsy love affair, pulling her into a world of secrets, deception and dark desire.


Summer, 1976. Luz de Rueda returns to her beloved Spain and takes a job as the biographer of a famous artist. On her first day back in Cádiz, she encounters a bewitching, passionate young gypsy, Leandro, who immediately captures her heart, even though relationships with his kind are taboo. Haunted by this forbidden love, she meets her new employer, the sophisticated Andrés de Calderón. Reserved yet darkly compelling, he is totally different to Leandro but almost the gypsy's double. Both men stir unfamiliar and exciting feelings in Luz, although mystery and danger surround them in ways she has still to discover.

Luz must decide what she truly desires as glistening Cádiz, with its enigmatic moon and whispering turquoise shores, seeps back into her blood. Why is she so drawn to the wild and magical sea gypsies? What is behind the old fortune-teller’s sinister warnings about ‘Gemini’? Through this maze of secrets and lies, will Luz finally find her happiness… or her ruin?

Masquerade is a story of forbidden love, truth and trust. Are appearances always deceptive?"

My Review:

This is a romance set in 1970's Spain. It is the follow up to 'Indiscretion', the story of which has a significant impact on the Luz's life. I hadn't read the first book which was quite good as it meant I had to find out what happened with Luz.

I enjoyed the beautiful imagery of the Spanish countryside but this book was a bit over-descriptive for my tastes and some of the descriptions get repetitive. Am I the only person who gets annoyed when a main character is soooo beautiful and rich and happens to be very intelligent too? That's just far too annoying! If I had to read one more time about her beautiful long black hair and her sapphire eyes and all the men swooning over her I was going to throw the book out the window.

I did finish this book but by the time I was 250 pages through I was so bored I decided to skim read the rest (which I never do). There's quite a good twist in this book if you can be bothered to battle through the descriptions of how moody and virile Andrés is and how wild and sexy Leandro is.

I would give this book 2 out of 5.

About the Author:

Hannah Fielding was born and grew up in Alexandria, Egypt. Her family home was a large rambling house overlooking the Mediterranean where she lived with her parents and her grandmother, Esther Fanous, who had been a revolutionary feminist and writer in Egypt during the early 1900s.

Fluent in French, English and Arabic, Hannah’s left school at 18 and travelled extensively all over the world. Hannah met her husband in England and they lived in Cairo for 10 years before returning to England in 1989. They settled in Kent, bringing up two children in a Georgian rectory, surrounded by dogs, horses and the English countryside. During this time, Hannah established a very successful business as an interior designer renovating rundown cottages.

With her children now grown up, Hannah now has the time to indulge in her one true passion, which is writing. Hannah has so far published three novels: Burning Embers set in 1970s Africa, The Echoes of Love set in 1980s Venice, and Indiscretion set in 1950s Spain. Her romance novels are adored by readers all over the world.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Not That Easy by Radhika Sanghani

Published by Mills & Boon in paperback and e-book
19th November 2015 - £7.99
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Blurb:

"If the women on Sex and the City got dates on a daily basis, and even the more normal-looking girls on Girls, then why wasn’t I? If I wanted to live the fun, twentysomething life I was destined to live, I was going to have to up my game.

Ellie used to be a virgin, but now she’s a woman with sexual experience. Well, some sexual experience. She also has debt, an unpaid magazine internship, and three flatmates who left her with the single room to match her single status.

That’s okay. She doesn’t want a boyfriend anyway—she wants several. And if the sex is exciting enough, her ruthless magazine-editor boss can exploit her dating life for a column.

But after countless hookups and forced attempts at seeming sexy backfire, Ellie starts to witness the emotional wreckage she’s leaving in her wake. Turns out that sex can be hard—and there’s a downside to giving it up too easy…"

My Review:

This was an entertaining read that made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. This is the second book in a series following the main character, Ellie, who was on a mission to lose her virginity in the first book. I didn't realise that this was a follow-up when I first started reading it, so it can definitely work as a stand-alone book too.

Ellie is a funny character, clueless and haphazard in her attempts to expand her sexual horizons. However, she is a bit annoying as she whines a lot and gets obsessed with silly things, and is a bit too determined to play the field. She becomes more selfish and blinded as the novel progresses. While I was reading it I felt like she was playing at being someone else which made me a bit uncomfortable.

This is a good read if you want to laugh at someone having awkward sexual experiences.

I would give this book 3 out of 5.

About the Author:

Radhika Sanghani is a 23-year-old full-time journalist for The Daily Telegraph where she specialises in writing about women and women’s issues. She has an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City University London, a BA in English Literature from University College London, and recently came second in GQ’s Norman Mailer writing competition. Her debut novel V!RG!N was published in 2014.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Forest King's Daughter by Kendra Olsen

Kindle Edition, 201 pages
Published March 5th 2015 by Pilrig Press
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb:

"The year is 1886 and Swedish teenager Ingrid Andersdotter is about to face a series of life-changing events – the rural poverty of her family which her carelessness suddenly makes worse, her attraction to the new school teacher which leads to ostracism and shame, the pressure of the church to conform to things she doesn’t believe, and her strong opinions which put her at odds with her traditional community.

Ingrid’s only option is to leave her home and family, first to Stockholm as a lonely servant in a rich household, where she soon discovers her vulnerability. Just when she fears she’ll be thrown onto the street, a turn of events gives her the chance of a new life – in America. But is she brave enough to make an ocean crossing to a strange land on her own, leaving everything she knows far behind? And will she find the freedom she dreams of if she takes such a risk?

Told through the lens of a Swedish fairy tale, this epic coming-of-age story, is both a page-turning personal account of one feisty young woman’s determination to seek a better life, and the tale of many single women who emigrated from Sweden to America in the 19th century."

My Review:

Ingrid is an interesting character, by turns naive, strong-willed and hopeful. She comes from a life of poverty in rural Sweden where her family scratch a living from the land. Her horizons are gradually expanded as she meets different people and she begins to question the values which have been drilled into her from birth. As she grows up she is forced to move away from the family she loves and to start out on her own. This is a moving tale of courage and hope and Ingrid is a likeable character who sticks to her principles.

I enjoyed learning more about Swedish culture in the late nineteenth century and the book felt well-researched and realistic. I particularly liked the descriptions of the Swedish countryside and of Ingrid's travels.

My criticisms for this book would be that it was slow to start off and I felt that the writer's style developed and became stronger as the novel progressed. It also felt like the author was trying out different writing techniques during the novel, by using diary entries and letters as well as narrative. I think the letters worked better in progressing the story than the diary entries. I thought the prologue and epilogue told from Ingrid's point of view in the future were a bit unnecessary. It didn't particularly feel like a fairy tale to me, which is how it is advertised, and the tale of the 'Forest King's Daughter' within the story was a little pointless.

It seems like I have given this book a lot of criticism but I did really enjoy it and I will look forward to reading more by the author in the future.

I would give this book 3 out of 5.

The book is available here.

About the Author:

Kendra Olson lives in London, England with her husband and two cats. The Forest King's Daughter is her first novel.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

Paperback, 409 pages
Published October 22nd 2015 by MIRA Ink

Blurb:

"Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They've been together forever. They never fight. They're deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they're sure they'll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.

The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won't understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni's life. As distance and Toni's shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?"

My Review:

This was a really interesting novel about Toni who is struggling with gender issues and Toni's girlfriend, Gretchen, who is trying to be supportive through the process while at a different college. The story is told from both their points of view which helped give both their perspectives and sometimes gave better clarification of what was going on.

I liked Gretchen's character as she is trying to find her own feet at college whilst trying to understand what Toni is going through. Although she did make mistakes her heart was in the right place.

Throughout the novel Toni is trying to decide which gender to identify as and avoids using pronouns like he or she, him or her. While writing this I'm trying not to refer to Toni as either gender but it is really difficult. The author made it seem quite natural in the beginning but it sometimes disrupted the flow of the story and did get a bit grating after a while, particularly when Toni then debates over other different ways of referring to people. Toni's new group of friends at college are all going through similar things which helps Toni in some ways, but it seemed to me that it also put pressure on Toni to make decisions faster than Toni would have felt comfortable with otherwise.

I found Toni's indecisiveness and self-absorption quite frustrating at times, but the book definitely highlights how confusing it must be to feel as though you have been born in the wrong body. This is the first novel I have read with characters who are dealing with transgender issues and it really brought to light how this affects both that person's daily life and the impact on their family and friends.

This was a thought provoking read. 3 out of 5.

About the Author:

Robin Talley grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, writing terrible teen poetry and riding a desegregation bus to the school across town. Robin is married and lives in Washington, D.C., with an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. When Robin’s not writing, she’s often planning communication strategies at organizations fighting for equal rights and social justice. You can find her on the web at robintalley.com or on Twitter at @robin_talley.

Monday, 23 November 2015

The Piano Man Project by Kat French

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published July 30th 2015 by Avon

Blurb:

"Finding love isn’t always black and white…

You: kind, piano-playing sex god
Me: hopelessly romantic charity shop manager

Honeysuckle Jones has a problem, and her best friends Nell and Tash are on a mission to help her solve it. She needs a man – a caring, intelligent, funny man. But most importantly, a man who’s good with his hands…

Luckily Honey’s new neighbour – moody, antisocial ex-chef Hal – fails on almost every count. Even though the chemistry between them is electric, he’s obviously wrong for her in every way.

But when Honey discovers the devastating reason for his moods she decides to give him another chance. And discovers that the best songs aren’t always in tune…

A hilarious, feel-good, sexy romantic comedy for fans of Lucy Diamond, Paige Toon and Giovanna Fletcher."

My Review:

I love it when I find a gem of a book like this. The story flows beautifully, the characters leap off the page and are funny, sexy and human.

The characters' relationships are brilliantly developed and I felt as though they really had known each other for years. I really enjoyed Honey's friendship with Mimi and Lucille and the other residents of the old people's home where she works. Also, Honey's best friends Tash and Nell are really funny in their determination to set Honey up with various pianists.

Hal is a brilliant character who is struggling with coming to terms with a change in his life and so is antagonistic to everyone he meets. Sparks fly off the page in every scene with Honey and Hal together. Their arguments were hilarious but there were many tender and touching moments in this book too.

I loved this book and can't wait to read others by this author. 5 out of 5.

About the Author:

Romantic comedy writer, disorganised mum, fairy light lover, and champion wine drinker.

Slightly less smutty alter-ego of Kitty French, USA Today bestselling smut fictionista.

Twitter ~ @katfrench_

Friday, 20 November 2015

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Paperback, 229 pages
Published October 16th 2008 by Speak (first published September 21st 2006)

Blurb:

"When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washedup child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl."

My Review:

Colin Singleton is an interesting character but quite annoying at times. The majority of the book consists of him contemplating his own intelligence or girls names Katherine (whose names cannot be spelled Catherine, or Katie, or Katy or any other derivative of Katherine), who always seem to dump him. I found this book to be quite slow to get in to mostly due to Colin's self-absorption. His friend Hassan who goes with him on their road trip is much more entertaining. However, Colin does start to redeem himself as the book continues and he starts to pay attention to what other people think. I think it helps that he is away from his parents, who have told him how intelligent he is throughout his life.

On the plus side, I did learn some fun facts, like why shower curtains always seem to be drawn in towards the water from the shower. Apparently, the water from the shower creates a vortex, who knew?! However, the characters' frequent use of the word 'fug' instead of swearing definitely grated on me and there was far too much of a focus on maths (Colin is trying to create a theorem to explain his relationships with Katherines).

I think part of the trouble is that with every John Green book I read, I expect it to be as amazing as The Fault in Our Stars and none of his books (that I have read) have matched it yet. This was a good read but I found the main character too annoying to really enjoy it.

2.5 out of 5 for this one.

About the Author:

John Green's first novel, Looking for Alaska, won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award presented by the American Library Association. His second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, was a 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His next novel, Paper Towns, is a New York Times bestseller and won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best YA Mystery. In January 2012, his most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, was met with wide critical acclaim, unprecedented in Green's career. The praise included rave reviews in Time Magazine and The New York Times, on NPR, and from award-winning author Markus Zusak. The book also topped the New York Times Children's Paperback Bestseller list for several weeks. Green has also coauthored a book with David Levithan called Will Grayson, Will Grayson, published in 2010. The film rights for all his books, with the exception of Will Grayson Will Grayson, have been optioned to major Hollywood Studios.

In 2007, John and his brother Hank were the hosts of a popular internet blog, "Brotherhood 2.0," where they discussed their lives, books and current events every day for a year except for weekends and holidays. They still keep a video blog, now called "The Vlog Brothers," which can be found on the Nerdfighters website, or a direct link here.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper by Debbie Johnson

Published 5th November by HarperImpulse
PB: £7.99 | Ebook: £1.99
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb

"For single mum Maggie, Christmas has always been a family occasion – her daughter Ellen filling the house with her bubbly warmth and mistletoe, her dad Paddy having one too many festive tipples, and the traditional family Christmas tree looking like a drunken elf vomited a rainbow all over it. But this year, with both Ellen and Paddy away for the holidays, Maggie’s facing a truly blue Christmas – alone with nothing but a bottle of Baileys and an M&S turkey dinner. Until walking the snowy streets of Oxford, Marco Cavelli quite literally crashes into her life – and, complete with broken leg, becomes her unexpected houseguest. All dreamy brown eyes and 6’5” of gorgeousness, the man is hotter and more delicious than a freshly baked mince pie.

Though Maggie always thought it’s a truth universally acknowledged that you never kiss a man in a Christmas jumper…?"

My Review

This was a really sweet, Christmassy read. I enjoyed the story and watching as Maggie and Marco got to know each other. I definitely admired Maggie's character for how strong and selfless she has been in her life and it was good to see her get something for herself and know that she deserves happiness too.

I liked that the story was told from both Maggie and Marco's points of view - even switching mid-scenes - as I felt that it made their relationship come alive. I sometimes preferred reading from Marco's point of view as it made a nice change from other romances I have read and I found his thoughts funny and how in some ways he was much more in touch with his feelings than Maggie was.

Maggie's relationship with her father and daughter was lovely to read, and the descriptions of Christmas in their home and the camaraderie were really heart-warming.

This was a cute Christmas read and I am looking forward to reading Debbie's next book which is out in January, The Birthday That Changed Everything.

3.5 out of 5 from me.

About the Author

Debbie Johnson lives and works in Liverpool, where she divides her time between writing, caring for a small tribe of children and animals, and not doing the housework. She writes romance, fantasy and crime - which is as confusing as it sounds! Her first humorous contemporary romance, Cold Feet At Christmas, a seasonal tale of snow-bound fun, was released by HarperImpulse last year, and became an Amazon top ten best-seller. You can also find her supernatural crime thriller, Fear No Evil, featuring Liverpool PI Jayne McCartney, on Amazon, published by Maze/Avon Books. Debbie also writes urban fantasy, set in modern day Liverpool. Dark Vision and the follow-up Dark Touch are published by Del Rey UK. Debbie blogs at www.debbiejohnsonauthor.com. She lives with her family in Merseyside and is available to write features.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Christmas Ever After (Puffin Island #3) by Sarah Morgan

Published by MIRA as a paperback original £7.99
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The blurb:

"Skylar Tempest has never understood Alec Hunter’s appeal. So what if he’s a world-renowned historian? He’s also cynical, aloof and determined to think the worst of her. So when a twist of fate finds her spending the lead-up to Christmas with Alec and his family, she’s not expecting the season to be either merry or bright.

Alec has learned the hard way not to trust beautiful women—and Skylar is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. But as he watches her throw herself into his family’s festive chaos, Alec realises there is far more to this blonde bombshell than meets the eye.

With Christmas around the corner, Alec and Skylar return to Puffin Island, a tentative bond forged between them. Neither intends to fall in love but as the nights become darker, and the fire between them grows hotter, could this be the chance for Alec and Skylar to find their own happy ending?"

My review:

This book makes me want Christmas to start now! The descriptions of both an English Christmas in the countryside and Christmas on Puffin Island are fantastic; I could practically feel the freezing cold outside and the beautiful heat and smell of the log fire inside.

The characters were vibrant and likeable and the story was really romantic. I loved that they were both really passionate about their fields of interest and that they found common ground.

My only criticism of this book is that some of the conversations between Alec and Sky started to feel slightly repetitive as they kept talking about why they couldn't be together. However, the ending was absolutely lovely.

This is the perfect book to snuggle up with as the weather gets colder. 4 out of 5 from me.

About the Author


Sarah Morgan writes warm contemporary romantic fiction which has gained her fans across the globe. Described as ‘full of sparkle’ by Lovereading.com, she has been nominated three years in succession for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America and won the award twice; in 2012 and 2013.
Sarah lives near London with her husband and children, and when she isn’t reading or writing she loves being outdoors, preferably on vacation so she can forget the house needs tidying. Visit Sarah online at www.sarahmorgan.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan and on Twitter @SarahMorgan_

Friday, 6 November 2015

Leftovers by Stella Newman

Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 25th 2013 by Avon (first published March 18th 2013)

Blurb: "A novel about friendship, hope and the power of pasta from the bestselling author of Pear Shaped.

According to a magazine, Susie is a ‘Leftover’ – a post Bridget-Jones 30 something who has neither her dream man, job, nor home. She doesn’t even own six matching dinner plates.

According to her friend Rebecca, Susie needs to get over her ex, Jake, start online dating – or at least stop being so rude to every guy who tries to chat her up.

But Susie’s got a plan. If she can just make it the 307 days till her promotion and bonus, she can finally quit and pursue her dream career in food, then surely everything else will fall into place. If only her love life wasn’t so complicated…

A sharp, witty and refreshing novel about love, friendship and enjoying what's left on the table."

This was a fun novel to read, it also made me hungry for quite a lot of the time I was reading it as the food that Susie made sounded so good! I would definitely recommend having something tasty to hand while you're reading. There are also a few recipes at the back of the book which I'm going to try making soon.

I really related to the characters, especially Susie who has been stuck in a job she hates for a long time but can't work out how to escape to do something she loves. I liked that she stayed true to who she was no matter what life threw at her. The dialogue and descriptions in the book are witty and entertaining and made me smile.

This was a lovely, easy read which flowed really well and made me laugh.

This was 4 out of 5 for me.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Learning to Speak American Blog Tour: Review and Q&A


Learning to Speak American by Colette Dartford

Published by Twenty7
Ebook, 5th November 2015, £4.99
Paperback, 14th July 2016 £7.99
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Blurb:

"After the tragic death of their only child, Lola and Duncan Drummond’s last chance to regain their lost happiness and rebuild their marriage lies in a trip to America. Day tripping in the heart of California’s wine region, the couple stumble across a derelict house in Napa Valley that’s crying out for love and attention.

It’s a far cry from their life in the Somerset village they call home, but Lola immediately falls for the house and shows the first spark of enthusiasm since the death of Clarissa. Unable to talk about Clarissa, Duncan reaches out to his wife in the only way he knows how, buying the house in the hope that the renovation project will bring both Lola and their relationship back to life.

As Lola works on the house she begins to realise the liberating power of letting go, helped along the way by her new Californian friends including easy going blond and blue-eyed project manager, Cain McCann. He may be 10 years younger than Lola, but his surfer good looks and easy charm work wonders, and soon Lola finds herself opening up for the first time in years.

Unbeknown to Lola, back at home her life with Duncan has begun to fall apart. Still emotionally scarred from his daughter’s death, Duncan starts to lose deal after deal in his high flying London job. Finding release in a series of one night stands, Duncan convinces himself he still loves Lola and promises himself that each infidelity will be the last…until he meets Saskia.

As Duncan and Lola get caught up in a series lies and indiscretions, drifting into the arms of others, will they be able to untangle their relationship or will the distance tear them apart?"

My Review

This is a beautifully written book, with engaging characters and a powerfully emotional storyline. Colette Dartford really transports you to Lola and Duncan's struggle in rural Somerset where they are dealing with their daughter's death in very different ways. Lola just wants to remember her daughter but Duncan can't bear to talk about her which is damaging their relationship, especially when they are surrounded by memories of her in their home. I found it difficult to like Duncan's character at times but I did feel sorry for him.

In complete contrast is Napa Valley, California where they go on holiday to try to rebuild their marriage. A place of sunlight and warmth and hope, Lola finds freedom from the weight of her grief in California. The derelict house they find and decide to renovate gives her a project and brings new focus to her life. The characters in California are so warm and friendly that it is not surprising that Lola begins to feel more at home in California.

I would give this book 5 out of 5, I highly recommend it. The message of hope is wonderful.

About the Author

Learning to Speak American, is Colette Dartford’s debut novel and is based on Colette’s personal experience of renovating a derelict house in California’s Napa Valley. Following buying and renovating the house, Colette lived there with her husband for many years before moving back to the UK. Before becoming a writer, Colette worked as a Political Research Consultant in public policy for many years and has an MPhil in Political Science. Her second novel, The Sinners, will be published by Bonnier in 2017.



My Q&A with Colette Dartford

What inspired you to start writing?

I had always enjoyed creative writing as a hobby but it was moving to the Napa Valley that inspired me write a novel. I was sitting on the deck of my newly renovated house, sipping a glass of wine and watching the sun slip slowly behind the mountains when the title, Learning To Speak American, jumped into my head and stayed there.

What is your favourite part of being a writer?

Seeing the thoughts and ideas that have been buzzing around in my mind take shape on the page. And there is something hugely satisfying about seeing a manuscript go from those first few pages to over three hundred – physical evidence of all your hours of hard work. But of course the eureka moment is getting a book deal and seeing your novel in print.

What made you decide to move to America?

Like the fictional Duncan and Lola Drummond in Learning To Speak American, my husband and I went there to celebrate a wedding anniversary and fell in love with the Napa Valley. We bought a run-down house and turned it into a beautiful home. It was only ever meant to be for holidays but the more time we spent there, the more we realised we wanted to move our life in that direction. The economic recession brought our Californian dream to an abrupt end but it was a wonderful experience.

What were the best and worst things about the move?

The best thing was the sense of adventure – the feeling that we were following our dream. And we already have a house and lots of friends in the Napa Valley so that made the transition easier. The worst thing was missing the family and friends we had left behind in England.

Where are your favourite places to visit in California?

San Francisco is an amazing city with its iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the sparkle of the Pacific Ocean and impossibly steep streets that seem to go on forever. The Napa Valley is 80 miles north of San Francisco and dense with vineyards that produce some of the world’s most highly prized wines. A few times we have driven along the coast road – the Pacific Coast Highway – all the way from San Francisco to Los Angeles, stopping at Carmel and Big Sur. But no trip to LA would be complete without a visit to Hollywood and a cocktail at Soho House. You never know who you might see.

Have you started writing your next book?

It’s already written. The Sinners is being published by Bonnier in early 2017. I'm working on the edits at the moment and have another novel in progress – Writing For Prizes.

What’s your favourite book that you’ve read so far this year?

I belong to a book club so am sometimes pleasantly surprised to enjoy a book I would never have chosen to read. One such book was The Signature Of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s about a nineteenth century American botanist – not an easy sell – but was ambitious in scope and so beautifully written I was disappointed when I finished it.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading My Name Is Lucy Barton by Pulitzer Prize winning author Elizabeth Strout.

When and where would we most likely find you reading?

Anywhere! I always have either a book on Kindle with me in case I have the chance to steal a few minutes reading time. My favourite place to read is in bed but today I was on the tube and so engrossed in my Kindle that I missed my stop.

How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?

Because I have a fairly unusual name it’s easy to find me online. My website is http://colettedartford.com, my twitter is @colettedartford and FB is Colette Dartford Author.

And finally, if you could meet any character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?

That’s such a difficult question. When I was seven I read a book called The Ship That Flew by Hilda Lewis and the main character was a boy named Peter who had a magic ship that took him on incredible adventures. It captured my imagination to the extent that I still remember the joy of reading about those adventures. I would love to meet Peter and ask him about them.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

It's Got To Be Perfect by Haley Hill

Paperback Edition, 352 pages
Published September 10th 2015 by Mills & Boon
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb: "Ellie Rigby isn’t holding out for a hero; she just wants a decent guy.

But the promise of meeting thousands of ‘likeminded singles’ has come to nothing and she is fed up negotiating the minefield of one online dating disaster after another.

In a moment of clarity, Ellie realises that she must take matters into her own hands. Her mission? Reclaim Cupid’s bow from soulless software and become a matchmaker. As her client list grows, Ellie becomes an expert. She knows twenty eight is the most eligible age for a women, that most relationships fail and, most of all, that it’s got to be perfect.

Until a match with one of her clients changes everything…"

This book had a lot of the ingredients that made me think I would really enjoy it but it fell quite flat for me.

Unfortunately from the very first chapter I felt incredulous about the main character. Ellie, a scientist who has spent her entire career working in a laboratory, has had a series of bad dates so on the spur of the moment decides to quit her job and become a matchmaker. Chapter two sees her headhunting for men and women in all the poshest/trendiest bars in London, with a focus only on those who are the most attractive or wealthy. There's barely a mention of concern about whether she will build a client base or whether she can afford to live in the meantime.

The main focus of the book appears to be on looks. Are all men and women really that shallow? The vast majority of the women in the book are portrayed as being interested only in how wealthy the men were or how sexy, very little was mentioned about personality apart from focussing on a few of the male characters who would make inappropriate comments at every opportunity or who would only brag about the size of their appendages and on how important big breasts were.

A real low point of the book for me was when Ellie held her first matchmaking party and all the singles start practically having an orgy in the club, with multiple mentions of humping and hands going under various clothing... I think you get the picture.

The characters also all blurred together, I had to check back in the book to work out who some of the characters were and had little interest in who they actually ended up with.

On the plus side, it did make me laugh a few times but I couldn't tell you what happened in the book that actually made me laugh.

I wouldn't recommend this one unfortunately. 2 out of 5 from me.

Friday, 16 October 2015

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst

Paperback
Published October 8th 2015 by MIRA (first published August 25th 2015)
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb: "Family secrets. Forbidden love. And the true price of wealth.

Thomas is a small-town boy and when Lily invites him to a dinner party, he gains access to the exclusive upper echelons of Hollywood society. As he enters a world of private jets and sprawling mansions, his life and career take off beyond his wildest dreams.

Then he meets Matilda Duplaine.

Beautiful and mysterious, Matilda has spent her entire life within the walls of her powerful father’s Bel-Air estate and Thomas is immediately entranced by her. But what starts as an enchanted romance soon threatens to destroy their lives and the lives of everyone around them."

This is a really well written novel. There are beautiful descriptions which really brings the characters and their setting to life. It really reminded me of The Great Gatsby both in style and content. This is a great depiction of the upper echelons of socialite society with all of its wealth and superficiality. As Thomas enters their world, more and more cracks appear in the perfect facade of their lives.

Matilda's character and life are very mysterious and the story develops great tension as you read on engrossed to find out their family secrets. Who is she and why she never been allowed to leave the luxurious estate in Bel Air? Thomas is just as intrigued and as a journalist he can't help but dig into the past which causes trouble not just for himself.

The characters are really well developed and you can understand all of their motivations, although it does amaze me the lengths some people will go to for wealth and power.

I particularly loved the character of Lily Goldman, she was really intriguing and mysterious. I liked Matilda's character to begin with as she was quite innocent having grown up away from the outside world with only old Hollywood movies to keep her company. However, as the story progressed I found it hard to like her at times.

I did feel that there were perhaps slightly too many twists in Matilda and Thomas's relationship but they did work well and I liked the way the book ended.

This was a great read that really draws you into the world of those with more money than sense. I would give this book 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

After You by Jojo Moyes

Kindle Edition, 411 pages
Published September 24th 2015 by Penguin (first published September 23rd 2015)

Blurb: "Lou Clark has lots of questions.

Like how it is she's ended up working in an airport bar, spending every shift watching other people jet off to new places.

Or why the flat she's owned for a year still doesn't feel like home.

Whether her close-knit family can forgive her for what she did eighteen months ago.

And will she ever get over the love of her life.

What Lou does know for certain is that something has to change.

Then, one night, it does.

But does the stranger on her doorstep hold the answers Lou is searching for - or just more questions?

Close the door and life continues: simple, ordered, safe.

Open it and she risks everything.

But Lou once made a promise to live. And if she's going to keep it, she has to invite them in..."

It was quite a surprise for me when I found out that Jojo Moyes was writing a sequel to Me Before You. Like so many other people I absolutely loved Me Before You and I wasn't sure if a sequel was a good idea when the original book was so brilliant. Now that I have read After You I'm really glad that Jojo Moyes wrote it. It was really good to find out how Lou was getting on after losing Will. It is set 18 months after the end of the first book and Lou is still grieving and her grand plans to live her life to the full have fallen by the wayside. She has fallen into another menial job with an awful boss and a ridiculous uniform. She has also lost part of herself as she no longer wears her fun outfits but is blending in by wearing jeans and t-shirts. It takes falling from a great height to start bringing Lou and her family back together. It was interesting to see how Lou's actions had affected their lives too. They also encourage Lou to go to meetings to deal with her grief. Lou meets a lot of interesting characters through these meetings, including Ambulance Sam who is dealing with his own grief.

This is definitely a book about coming to terms with loss and rediscovering who you are without that person in your life. Lou imagines what Will would say in different situations and knows she isn't doing as he asked but can't see how to change things. Then Lily turns up out of the blue and changes Lou's world in an entirely new way. Lily is the most annoying kind of teenager - completely self-obsessed, moody and selfish. However, there is more to her than meets the eye and her relationship with her mother is awful which explains why she is a bit messed up so I definitely felt sorry for her.

This book definitely has a lot of funny moments and some moments that were very sad, although it didn't have quite the same emotional effect as Me Before You. I wouldn't say you have to read it if you enjoyed Me Before You but if you want to find out what happens next it's a really good read. I would give this 8 out of 10.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Around the World with Book Connectors and Trip Fiction - Ireland with Carolann Copland


The Around The World Blog Tour is a partnership between TripFiction and #BookConnectors ~ bloggers and authors, travelling the world, through fiction.

TripFiction was created to make it easy to match a location with a book and help you select good literature that is most pertinent and relevant to your trip. A resource for armchair and actual travellers, it is a unique way of exploring a place through the eyes of an author. We blog, and chat books and travel across Social Media, and love to meet authors and bloggers as we take our literary journey.

http://www.tripfiction.com/

Book Connectors was created as a place on Facebook for Bloggers, Authors and small Publishers to share their news.

We encourage book promotions; information about competitions and giveaways; news of events, including launch events, signings, talks or courses. Talk about new signings, about film deals .... anything really.

Book Connectors is a friendly group, there are no rules or guidelines - just be polite and respectful to each other.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1466353170351020/

The current stop on this tour is Ireland and today I have a Q&A with the lovely author Carolann Copland. She has also very kindly agreed to giveaway signed copies of her two novels to one lucky winner, read on for details on how you can enter below.


Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I’m the founder of Carousel Creates, a writers' centre in the Dublin Mountains. I have a Bachelor of Education in English and Drama and have been a teacher for sixteen years. My first book, Summer Triangle was published by Emu Ink in October 2013, followed by Scarred, launched in June 2015 and a third novel is currently underway. I’m from Dublin, Ireland and I’ve also lived in the Middle East and the United Kingdom. I’m married to Neil and am a mother of three children aged twelve to twenty-four. Through mentoring writers of all ages; from all walks of life; I’m happiest when I’m sharing my passion for writing. I’m a member of two writing groups and I work to promote other writing groups in Dublin.

What inspired you to start writing?

I didn’t know I wanted to write until my mother told me to when I was forty. And I always do what I’m told. (Ahem!) But as usual she was right and I became addicted to the escapism writing provided and it very quickly became a huge part of my life. Now I wonder how I lived for forty years without it.

What is your favourite part of being a writer?

Mostly, I love getting an idea that makes the hair rise on the back of my neck and being desperate to sit and write it out. Also, the friends I have made with other authors and the privilege of sharing with other writers and readers just make life perfect.

What is your most recent book about?

Scarred explores the fact that time doesn't heal everything...

The main character, Rory Mc Gee, is obsessed. The man who murdered his girlfriend, Maria Dooley, must be brought to justice.

Ex IRA activist, now politician, Fergal O’ Gorman, is accused of murder on live television during elections, causing a media frenzy. Rory’s quest to expose the truth threatens to destroy the family he fought so hard to rebuild, and he’s dragging Maria’s daughter Shona Moran through the mire with him.

Rory needs to overcome his guilt about Maria’s death going unpunished. It’s a story of buried love and exhumed hatred where revenge can only be achieved at a cost.

Do you have a work in progress at the moment?

I have just spent the summer in Andalucia, writing a novel set between Spain in post-civil war years and modern day Ireland. I am deeply in love with all things Spanish and it was inevitable that it would creep into my writing eventually.

Was it important to you to set your books in Ireland?

Very much so. Both my parents are Irish and I have lived most of my life here so it was inevitable that much of my writing would be set in Ireland with Irish characters. But my travels around the world have meant that my characters and plots travelled to many countries too and my readers can savour the wonderful experiences that I have had.

What is your favourite place to visit in Ireland?

Mountains and sea are important to me no matter where I am. But childhood holidays in Donegal have given me a heartfelt connection with that county. My second book is set there and part of book three also.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I have a yearning to go to India. My mother-in-law was from Calcutta and my fourth novel is partly set there; based on the stories that she drip fed to me in the time that we spent together before she died.

What’s your favourite book you’ve read so far this year?

I would have to say it was a draw between Jax Miller’s Freedom’s Child and Louise Phillips’ The Game Changer. I’m new to reading crime within the last five years or so and both these novels were read in one or two sittings. That’s the sign of a fantastic read, when you can’t bring yourself to leave the pages.

What are you reading at the moment?

Martina Devlin’s About Sisterland. I’m almost finished and I’m loving it. It’s so different to anything I’ve ever read before. In fact it’s very different to Martina’s usual genre. I’m out of my normal comfort zone reading (it’s set about 100 years in the future) but it’s wonderful.

When and where would we most likely find you reading?

In bed. In the woods. By the sea. On the bus. In a café. Anywhere. Anytime. I go nowhere without some reading material (and writing material) in my bag.

How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?

Author Website: http://www.carolanncopland.com/

Carousel Writers’ Centre Website: http://www.carousel-creates.ie/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolann.copland

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CarolannCopland


And finally, if you could meet any character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?

Alice. (Surrounded by her friends from Wonderland of course.) I’m besotted. Alice finds her way into all my teachings with children and recently she seems to be cropping up in my adults’ creative writing classes too. She is the most intriguing and versatile character I have ever met. I am fifty next month and I have treated myself to a beautiful piece of artwork by David Morrison entitled Alice on a High. That’s me!


Giveaway!

A comment left on this post will be picked at random and will win a signed copy of Summer Triangle and Scarred (open to residents of the UK and Ireland only).

The competition will close on the 25th October at Midnight (GMT). Please make sure you comment with a profile, and not just as unknown to be counted, or please ensure that you include your twitter handle (if on twitter), so I can find you easily if you win. You will need to hit preview and then publish your comment. Good luck everyone!

Summer Triangle is available here.

"One terrible moment changes everything...

Shona and Majid are living very different, but ordinary, lives on opposite sides of the globe, when both their worlds are shattered.

Majid, who witnesses the death of his fiancé, a bomb victim at an Irish/Saudi festival, is so distraught he runs from his problems – right into the arms of Islamic fundamentalists. Together his new allies and he plot to show Ireland exactly what they think of its cooperation in the US war against terror, but will Majid really get the closure he so desperately craves?

Meanwhile Irish teen Shona falls pregnant following a drunken party and stumbles through early motherhood in a haze of alcohol. An overheard conversation about her past leaves her wallowing in the self-pity of betrayal and ripe for falling into the wrong hands.

When 08/08 threatens to become Dublin’s very own 9/11 will a chance meeting of the two teenagers hasten their road to self-destruction or help them rise from the ashes of the past?

Particularly when there are darker forces at work…"

Scarred is available here.

"Time doesn't heal everything...

Rory Mc Gee is obsessed. The man who murdered his girlfriend, Maria Dooley, must be brought to justice.

Ex-IRA activist, now politician, Fergal O’ Gorman, is accused of murder on live television during elections, causing a media frenzy. Rory’s quest to expose the truth threatens to destroy the family he fought so hard to rebuild, and he’s dragging Maria’s daughter Shona Moran through the mire with him.

Rory needs to overcome the guilt he feels about letting Maria’s death go unpunished. In a story of buried love and exhumed hatred, revenge can only be achieved at a cost. But how much is Rory willing to pay?"

I'll be excited to read these in the near future and review them on here!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Love You Better by Natalie K. Martin: Review and Giveaway

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published October 1st 2015 by Lake Union Publishing
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb: "After a soul-destroying breakup with her ex, Smith, Effie Abbott has met the man of her dreams. She’s had the whirlwind romance and the fairy-tale wedding to the charming and suave Oliver Barton-Cole, and life seems firmly back on track.

Things were never simple between Smith and Effie, so when he forces his way back into her life, Effie knows he’s a complication she doesn’t want or need. After all, she has Oliver, a man who loves her better than Smith ever did.

But when cracks in her marriage begin to emerge and Oliver shows flashes of a darker side, Effie has to question just how well she really knows her husband, and whether Smith is back to derail her seemingly perfect marriage or save her from it."

Any story which begins with a whirlwind romance definitely is a warning sign in my opinion but Effie is really happy to have found her perfect man in Oliver, who is handsome, rich and comes from a "normal" family. The book starts at Effie and Oliver's wedding when they have only been together for a few months. However, cracks in Oliver's perfection emerge during the honeymoon which Effie brushes aside as a misunderstanding. I thought the author was very clever in showing how Effie was being drawn in by Oliver, how he affected her confidence and started manipulating and controlling her. This book definitely shows warning signs of an unhealthy relationship and I thought it was quite realistic in the way it showed how hard it could be to leave it.

Effie comes from a slightly disfunctional family and has a tense relationship with her Mum who is a bit of a hippy and moved them around a lot when Effie was young. This has definitely affected Effie's need for something normal which makes Oliver seem all the more appealing.

I really liked Effie's relationship with her friends Lou and Mickey and with Smith, who is a more complex character.

I found this to be really easy to read and engrossing. I cared about the characters and their relationships and enjoyed the story. I would give this book 8 out of 10.

Giveaway

I was lucky enough to be invited to a party celebrating the launch of Love You Better, which involved a lot of cake and some delicious cocktails. I was given a signed copy of the book to run a giveaway. A comment left on this post will be picked at random and will win a signed copy of Love You Better (open to UK residents only).

The competition will close on the 21st October at Midnight (GMT). Please make sure you comment with a profile, and not just as unknown to be counted, or please ensure that you include your twitter handle (if on twitter), so I can find you easily if you win. You will need to hit preview and then publish your comment. Good luck everyone!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik: Review and Q&A

The book is published by Twenty7 - an innovative new imprint publishing all their titles in ebook first. The paperback of Sofia Khan is Not Obliged is out in January. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb: "Sofia Khan is a single 30-year old Muslim woman, living in London with her parents. After her (ex) boyfriend suggested that she move in to his parents’ house after they were married – a house which has a convenient hole-in-the-wall for parental spying – Sofia decides she’s better off without men.

Meanwhile, Sofia has several post-Ramadan resolutions which should (hopefully) enable her to become a better and more insightful human being: give up smoking, unglue self from all social media outlets, serve literature through being a brilliant book publicist, accept that life may never contain sex, remember to continually update blog (Yes, I’m Muslim, Please Get Over It) and scout out more appropriate praying locations (although the medical cupboard at work may have to do). Being a strong independent Muslim woman in the 21st Century is no easy task.

And there’s one more thing: her boss wants her to write a book on Muslim dating. So in between preparations for her sister’s wedding, her best friend’s polygamous marriage and her family’s unsubtle hints about her own marital future, Sofia plunges herself into the less-than-perfect world of modern dating.

With the warmth and authenticity of Bend It Like Beckham and the hilarity of Bridget Jones, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged is an original contemporary romantic comedy about modern life as a British Muslim, the trials of awkward dates and finding love in unexpected places."

I think this is a brilliant first novel by Ayisha Malik. It gives a great cultural insight into the life of a single, Muslim woman. I found it particularly interesting as I had very little knowledge of British Muslim culture before reading this novel, especially surrounding dating. This novel also highlights the lack of knowledge about Muslim society in Britain, which makes this book really important for others to read so that people can understand each other better.

I found the characters to be likable, even with the wide-ranging ideas that they represented. Ayisha portrays Sofia's strong familial relationships really well, which demonstrates what an integral part of Muslim culture families are. Especially with the idea that, when married, women sometimes move in with their husbands' families.

I felt that I learned a lot while being thoroughly entertained. The comparison to Bridget Jones is fair, and in some ways I enjoyed this book even more than Bridget Jones as Sofia felt like a stronger character. I found the depictions of Sofia's varying relationships with her colleagues, friends and strangers really interesting to show the range of receptions she receives; from accepting and supportive to casual or outright racism.

This book is also very funny and definitely had very emotional moments too. I liked the style of the writing and found it really easy to read.

I would give this book 8 out of 10. I hope Ayisha can write another book soon!

My Q&A with Ayisha Malik

Ayisha Khan is the exciting new author of Sofia Khan is Not Obliged which is the first title in a brand new imprint from Bonnier, called Twenty7, which only publishes work by debut novelists, first in ebook and later in paperback. Read on for her thoughts.

How have you found this experience of writing your first book?

Generally wonderful. Perhaps hindsight is rose-tinted though. I remember having a lot of ‘breaks’ from writing – most of the time because it becomes an all-consuming world and I needed to engage with reality for a while.

How long did it take you to write it?

On and off, just over two years.

Who is your favourite character in the book?

How to choose! I am rather partial to Conall, I must say.

Sofia has to deal with racism in the book, have you ever had to deal with this yourself?

Yes. I think it’s hard not to have come across it in some form or another when you’re Pakistani, and on top of which, wear a hijab. Part and parcel of the gig.

In the book, there is a lot of pressure on Muslim women to marry within their religion. Do you think Muslim men are encouraged to the same extent?

I think they are but if they choose not to then there’s less stigma attached to it. There’s a verse in the Qur’an that can be interpreted to justify their marrying outside the religion. Personally I think it’s a pretty flimsy excuse because as with so many other verses it’s just exploited to suit a person’s need. It’s slowly changing now though and more women are breaking the mould. At the end of it, it’s a very personal decision and it really depends on what the religion means to you.

How do you think Sofia's family will react when they find out who she is in love with?

Ah, they’ll just have to deal with it, won’t they?

What main message do you want people to take away from your book?

There isn’t a message as such, but I’d like the reader to go away with a feeling – actually several feelings, if possible. I want them to feel hopeful, but I also want there to be empathy and understanding (a bit of feel-good joy thrown in for good measure). Many aspects of Sofia’s life might feel foreign to non-Muslim and non-Asian readers, but I want to close that gap of ‘otherness’. Hopefully Sofia is written well enough so that her Muslim-ness becomes incidental and she is just another heroine who the reader roots for.

Do you have any plans to write another book?

Yes, I do. Let’s hope Sofia is well received because there’s more of her to come.

What books have you enjoyed reading recently?

I’m reading ‘Room’ right now and I’m utterly, utterly gripped. It deserves every bit of praise it’s received.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Last Embrace by Pam Jenoff

Paperback
Expected publication: August 13th 2015 by MIRA - I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Also published under the title The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach.

Blurb: "In the summer of 1941, sixteen year old Addie Montforte flees war-torn Europe and arrives in Atlantic City. Forced to leave her parents on the other side of the world, she is dependent on an aunt and uncle whom she doesn’t know. She strikes up a friendship with the close-knit Irish Connallys next door and soon finds herself drawn to the eldest brother, Charlie.

But war changes everything. Following the attack on Pearl Harbour, Charlie enlists, leaving Addie alone again and holding onto the promise of a reunion. Tragedy strikes, pushing Addie to flee to London she finds a job with the Washington Post, and is forced to face the war at close quarters. The air raids and destroyed buildings are a constant reminder of everybody she has lost. The past, looming close, demands a reckoning. The Last Embrace is a skilful exploration of identity, destiny and what it means to be a survivor. Pam Jenoff is at her best as she pens Addie Montforte’s journey from Jewish refugee without to a confident young woman with a purpose and path of her own choosing. The Last Embrace shows the reader that home is not always where, or with whom, you think it will be."

I was asked to be part of the blog tour for the release of The Last Embrace by Pam Jenoff and was pleased to receive a review copy.

The Last Embrace is an entertaining read and quite moving at times. The story starts in 1945 in a prologue, then moves briefly to 1943 and then tells Addie's story from 1941 when she is sent by her mother on a ship to America to stay with relatives she has never met before. However, there were certain elements of this book that stopped me from really enjoying it.

The main problem, for me, was that Addie didn't grow on me as a character. It often felt like we were being told things about her character but I didn't feel like that was who she was. Similarly, at the beginning we are told how rebellious and destructive Liam is but nothing really jumps out at me as particularly bad behaviour. Addie seems quite naive and quiet, other characters comment how strong she is but it almost feels like she's oblivious at times to what is going on. I also found it difficult to understand some of her actions. For example, her mother gives Addie her necklace before she is sent away, the other half of which her father has, but Addie then gives it to Charlie when he is going off to war. This doesn't make sense to me as I find it hard to believe someone would give away the last memento of their mother when they may never see her again. In my Q&A with Pam Jenoff, she explained that the necklace represents love and hope to Addie and that she wants to keep Charlie safe. Perhaps that is my personality though, I tend to keep things of sentimental value, whereas other people see value in giving things another purpose. On another note, when Addie receives a photograph of her with the Connally brothers after the death of one of the brothers she sets fire to it, I do not understand why she wouldn't keep it for the fond memories she has of their time together, other than to maybe show that their time has passed.

What I did like about the book was that I enjoyed the descriptions of London during World War 2, it brought to life for me the struggles of life during the war, from air raid warnings causing panic and for everyone to stop what they were doing until the all clear sounded, to trying to travel on the underground but the the train stopping for no apparent reason. It also highlighted that women were brought much more prominently into the workforce at this time and how draining it would have been to work at factories and in other roles and then come home to look after children, all while worrying about the male family members who were away at war. Pam Jenoff did a wonderful job of depicting life during the war and she clearly did a lot of research and used it well.

I also really liked the depictions of the Connally family at the beginning, who are so warm and welcoming to Addie. I have to admit that I was surprised that they welcomed a stranger into their family so quickly, but it was a different era.

I wanted to like this more than I did, but often the characters didn't feel real to me and their actions didn't make sense to me personally. I also found the story quite hard to get into at the beginning.

This was 5 out of 10 for me. I'd really like to hear other people's thoughts on this book.