Archive for December 2017

Anatomy of a scandal – Sarah Vaughan   Leave a comment

A netgalley read which I chose as a light read for a change. It is due to be pub jan 11 2018, Sarah Vaughan is a first time author, although she has previously worked as a journalist for The Guardian.

The novel is a straight forward courtroom story, written in the now popular postmodern style, where the story is fragmented, not always chronological and jumps between narrators.

A hardworking barrister, Kate, has just lost a case and needs something to get her teeth into. She is offered the prosecution of a major political figure in a rape case and beside her better judgement she takes it.

More than we would is invested with Kate in the prosecution of this case, taking her back to her university years when she faced a life changing situation she still keep hidden. Is she ready to cope with everything this case will churn up in her own life?

The other major characters are the man being prosecuted and his wife, Sophie, who also is about to have her life values and marriage challenged. Will her marriage survive and how is she affected by Kate’s traumatic past?

A great read, light and fast moving, but challenging at the same time. The characters are well drawn and the story told at a nice pace. Not many major shocks, but well written so that you end up challenging yourself as the characters question thrmselves, a talent not often seen.

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Posted December 30, 2017 by dianne7 in book review

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Christmas at butterfly cove-Sarah Bennett   Leave a comment

 

This is another Christmas light read from Netgalley.

I found this book initially difficult to get into, as it was #3 of a series, so I was on a stiff gradient of catchup with the characters. There was suitable explanation of who everyone was, but it was necessarily compact, not wishing to bore the readers who had already finished the previous books in the series.

I was determined not to let this deter me, and pushed through. The book has a large collection of central and secondary characters, only possible in a huge tome or a series. The book centres on 3 sisters, Nee, Kiki and Mia, who have fallen in love with brothers Aaron and Luke and their best friend, Daniel. it being Christmas all of the parents and pseudo-parents are involved too.

I would presume novels #1 and #2 covered Mia and then Kiki’s love lives, probably in that order, as Kiki was proposed to at Mia’s wedding. This novel therefore, focused on Nee. She had married Luke previously but abandoned him virtually on their wedding night, to take up an offer of a sponsorship with a renowned artist in New York.

After virtually disappearing for most of a year, Nee reappears at Mia’s weddin, but something terrible has happened, she is a shell of her former self. This story follows Luke’s desperate plan to throw a huge family christmas, and win her back.

Having so many characters, it makes the story very complex in parts. I don’t imagine there were so many in the previous stories. This therefore was a big challenge to the author, Sarah Bennett, but I felt she handled it well. Each character felt believable and the story kept moving.

Being set in the artist colony of Butterfly cove added to the feel-good character of the book. It did have a vague unreal fantasy feel to it, but that is not necessarily a problem with this type of book.

Sarah Bennett has written 4 chick lit novels now. She is a British writer, not to be confused with the American author of the same name.

I would recommend this book to read, but probably best to start at the beginning and read ‘Sunrise at Butterfly Cove’ first.

Posted December 29, 2017 by dianne7 in book review

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Christmas at Bay Tree Cottage- Linn B. Halton   Leave a comment

 

Another one of the christmas novels from Netgalley. This one is the 2nd of Linn B. Halton’s cottage in the country series.

The author is one of Amazon’s UK Top 100 best-selling authors. Her book ‘Under The Stars’ becoming a best-selling novel in November 2016. Several of her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance award.

This book is a standard Christmas romance. Boy meets Girl, they feel a connection, but then both deny their feelings and put forward every excuse they can think of not to confront those feeling. They look as if they will get into a relationship with someone else until at the last minute they face up to their own feelings, and everything comes right in the end.

The book is written as a two person narrative, from the point of view of Elana and Luke. The chapters are headed by the name of the person narrating the chapter, in the ‘Game of Thrones’ style, which I felt was a mistake. It undermined any attempt to believe they could ever make a relationship with someone else. Just empty chapter headings would have worked much better.

Elana is a young widow, her husband having died in a car accident, leaving her with a 6 year old daughter, Maya, and a partially renovated house. After discovering her chimney is about to collapse, she calls in a builder, Luke, a young divorcee. They find they are good at listening to each others problems, and things progress inevitably from there.

The basic story was good. The characterisations of Elana and Luke were thorough and written with understanding and compassion. However, the peripheral characters, I felt, were very one-dimensional and not very convincing. It was my least favourite of my 5 christmas reads, leaving me feeling a bit cold at the end of it.

The final twist seemed to be set up in a hurry and wasn’t developed convincingly enough for me. A whole year was passed over and summed up quickly in short conversation. Far better to actually add a few chapters building the tension. But that is only my opinion. Still an Ok read.

 

Posted December 28, 2017 by dianne7 in book review

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Christmas at hope cottage-Lily Graham   Leave a comment

 

This is the is one of my 5 christmas reads for Netgalley. A quirky, slightly magical feel good romance set in Yorkshire.

Emma has a very bad day, breaking up with her boyfriend, then getting knocked down by a post office van which was bringing her a parcel. She ends up in hospital and has to leave London and return home with her Grandmother to convalesce.

On arrival in Yorkshire, things have changed, her grandmother has a tenant, a loud annoying, yet handsome Spaniard, who irritates her during her attempts to recover. Also her ex, Jack and the whole family feud, which she left to escape.

Her family believe that their cooking can bring about magic in people’s lives, and now Emma is home can she resolve her feelings about the family traditions and how it drove her and her boyfriend apart?

A very original storyline, and very well drawn characters. There is a lot of humour in the book. The author paints a very convincing portrait of a small northern village, where everyone knows everything about everyone else.

The author, Lily Graham, grew up in South Africa, but now lives in the English countryside with her husband and dog. Her novels usually feature either country-living or her other love, the sea. Her first two novels were Amazon bestsellers, and have since been re-published. She has another novel due out in the spring 2018. She is not the author of ‘The Phone Rang’.

I really enjoyed this book, reading it in one sitting. Very light, but funny and a great storyline. The setting played a great part, as did the side story behind the feud and Emma’s childhood. A great read.

Posted December 27, 2017 by dianne7 in book review

The Tatooist of Auschwitz-Heather Morris   2 comments

I look out for Holocaust literature to read, so jumped at the opportunity to receive this text from Netgalley. My husband is a Holocaust specialist, and his expertise has birthed a fascination with the literature in myself.

I was surprised initially that this was not published by Yad Vashem, as much Holocaust literature is. Then I noted it was marked as a novel, but claimed to be based on reminisces of a genuine Holocaust survivor living in Australia. He had chosen to share his story in his last days to the author.

The book had been written originally as a screen play, and then novelised. I wondered why it needed to be a novel, surely it was a non-fiction memoir?

After reading the book, I was left with a disconcerted feeling. I did not feel the usual horror and emotional connection I have experienced with previous testimonies.

The story is of Lale Sokolov who is the tattooist of Auschwitz. He gains more freedom due to his position and uses it to smuggle in food and medicines which he shares with other prisoners, and also develops a relationship with one of the female prisoners. Both survive and marry, later emigrating to Australia, they remained together until Gita, his wife died and now Lale was waiting to join her.

As a basic novel, the story was touching and would work on film, but it was very improbable.

I discussed the details of the book with my husband and he did some checking, as he also had qualms about the validity or at least plausibility of many of the details. Within the book it claims that all historical details have been checked, but I dispute this.

Perhaps it is a fictional device to claim this. I would presume it was entirely fictional except there are photographs of Lale and Gita in the text. So who is responsible for these glaring discrepancies? It is important that all details in Holocaust literature are completely accurate as Holocaust deniers look for any inconsistencies to prove their cruel theories.

It would take an essay to list all of the potential discrepancies, I will mention the most obvious. It would appear very little research has gone into the tattooists of Auschwitz, but other accounts list a row of several tattooists, not just 1 or 2. The sheer number of people they tattooed makes the use of so few improbable.

The freedom Lale had is most unlikely for a Jew to have gained, whether he was of Kapo level or not. Many of the places mentioned are in the wrong place, but most importantly the Jewish male and female prisoners were segregated in separate sections of the camp. They did not have Sundays to relax and mix together. It would have been almost impossible to maintain a relationship the way Lale claims.

My best guess, is that Lale has attempted to fictionalise his life, placing himself as the hero, to assuage some of the guilt he held for collaborating. This is very sad, and may explain the fiction claim of the novel, but I believe any distortion of the facts in this sensitive subject is a mistake. Alternatively, the author may have sensationalised the story for her own ends, but the end result is the same. Like ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’, this will face much criticism from Holocaust specialists on publication.

Posted December 26, 2017 by dianne7 in book review

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Stella’s Christmas Wish-Kate Blackadder   Leave a comment

This is one of 5 light romantic christmas based novels I chose as fun reads over the Christmas period this year, from Netgalley.

Stella is a successful accountant from Melrose Scotland, who now works in London. She receives a phone call from a family friend telling her that her grandmother is in hospital, following a bad fall.

She immediately leaves for Scotland, leaving an important business deal hanging, in is just before Christmas. Her grandmother is her only relative, apart from her younger sister, Maddie, who is strangely absent.

On arrival in Edinburgh she learns her sister is in Edinburgh, but no one will tell her why.

She goes to her old home to collect clothes for her grandmother and bumps into her ex boyfriend, Ross. They split up when she took the job in London, and they are both still uncomfortable in each others company.

This is all I can tell without giving too much away. Stella’s wish doesn’t actually come until right at the end, when she puts up her grandmother’s christmas tree.

Some of the story is obvious, but what I appreciated about the novel was the interesting secondary storyline concerning Maddie’s foreign trip. Personally, I felt more time could have been spend on this, giving more detail about the past.

The supporting characters of Gray, Lilias and to a lesser extent Bette and Carol, are well drawn. They feel like 3d people, a real achievement for this type of book.

I enjoyed this book, and felt Kate Blackadder proved herself as a good light fiction writer. Some light reading for the season!

Posted December 25, 2017 by dianne7 in book review

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The unmapped mind- Christian Donlan   Leave a comment

This is a book I chose to read from Netgalley in return for a review. It consists of the author’s experiences with MS in the lead up and in the first 2 years following his diagnosis. The testimony is interspersed with factual sections covering the history of treatments for MS from its discovery during 19th century to the present day.

The author is a professional writer and journalist, mainly writing video game reviews. This admits is an ideal occupation for someone with his condition.

His personal story is very honest and brave. He faces up to his long periods of denial and the bad coping methods he used and how he caused pain to his close family.

Running simultaneous to this experience, the author became a parent. He talks a lot about the brain development of his daughter, often as a comparison to his own slowing brain processes.

I found the book fascinating, as I had previously understood very little about MS. I also enjoyed the comparison and descriptions of his daughters brain development. As a person with an incurable condition myself, I appreciated the struggle he experienced adjusting his life to a new situation. I deeply appreciated his honesty and determination not to gloss over his shortcomings but to analyse and face them head on. I feel this could be very helpful to some in his situation.

I would have appreciated more information regarding past neurology discoveries and the development of the science, as the title I felt believed.

Generally the book is well written, easy to read and kept my attention so much, I read it in one sitting. A good addition to this genre.

Posted December 24, 2017 by dianne7 in book review

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