Monthly Archives: July 2012

Before I Met You – Lisa Jewell

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Having grown up on the quiet island of Guernsey, Betty Dean can’t wait to start her new life in London. On a mission to find Clara Pickle – the mysterious beneficiary in her grandmother’s will – she arrives in grungy, 1990s Soho, ready for whatever life has to throw at her. Or so she thinks…

In 1920s bohemian London, Arlette – Betty’s grandmother – is starting her new life in a time of post-war change. Beautiful and charismatic, Arlette is soon drawn into the hedonistic world of the Bright Young People. But less than two years later, tragedy strikes and she flees back to Guernsey for the rest of her life.

As Betty searches for Clara, she is taken on a journey through Arlette’s extraordinary time in London, uncovering a tale of love, loss and heartbreak. Will the secrets of Arlette’s past help Betty on her path to happiness?

I was given this book to review by Lisa Jewell’s publisher, having reviewed ‘The Truth About Melody Browne’ and I have to say that it is a brilliant, unputdownable read.

The story is set both in the past, the 1920’s and the present, the 1990’s and follows the lives of Arlette and her step granddaughter Betty.

Arlette’s story is set in the 1920’s. She comes from a little island called Guernsey but decides to go London to stay with a friend of her mother. Whilst there Arlette embarks on a colourful adventure and meets plenty of colourful characters, my favourite being the exotic Godfrey Pickle! He and Arlette embark upon a relationship, but as Betty soon discovers, it is a journey where heartbreak and tradegy are never far away.

Betty’s story is set in Soho, in the 1990’s. She also comes from Guernsey, having nursed her step grandmother Arlette throughout her last years. Betty is quite a quirky little character and very likeable. Having decided that she wishes to find the mystery beneficiary of Arlette’s will, her journey to find Miss Pickle, is not without drama which includes a world famous cocksure pop star and gentle market trader!

I have to say that this book had me hooked from the first page. I love how Lisa manages to effortlessly incorporate both periods within the book, switching between the two seamlessly. I just had to finish this book and find out who Miss Pickle was, did Arlette marry the man of her dreams, what was the terrible tragedy and did Betty solve the mystery in the end!

I really loved the narratives of both Arlette and Betty, which were both intriguing and moving. both periods in the book were brought to life and you felt the characters, their lives and their settings jump right off the page and place you in the thick of it!

This is by far the best book of 2012 that I have read so far and highly recommend that you all add this to your ‘to be read’ pile!

My Rating: 

Physical and digital copies of Before I Met You are available here

Destined To Play – Indigo Bloome

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When 37-year-old psychologist, Alexandra Blake, leaves her comfortable suburban existence to give a series of lectures , she meets up with Dr Jeremy Quinn, the man who opened her eyes and body to the world in ways she never thought possible.

After a few glasses of champagne in his luxurious hotel penthouse, he presents her with an extraordinary proposition. Alexandra knows that they never promise each other something they can’t commit to and that he will challenge her every inhibition.

But she soon finds herself seduced into a level of surrender – and danger – she could never have imagined.

Destined to Play is the first book in the Avalon trilogy exploring the intricate relationships between trust and betrayal, desire and love, risk … and reward. 

I recently asked to review a copy of this book and was more than excited to get stuck in, given the hype of the 50 Shades of Grey (as this is said to be a winner if you liked those books).

The postman came and delivered the book and I physically restrained myself from snatching the parcel from his grip, tearing open the envelope and getting stuck in!

On reading the first few chapters the book had me intrigued, Alexandra has a family in Australia. Her marriage is somewhat of an unhappy one and I think it’s fair to say that she has only stayed married to Robert for the sake of their children.

Robert takes the children away on a camping trip and that is when the fun really starts for Alexandra. She takes this opportunity to throw herself back into her work, which she feels has somewhat been neglected due to the rearing of her children, and so off she goes.

However she meets up with her best friend, and one time lover, Dr Jeremy Quinn. I have to say on reading the book and reflecting on the story – this character gave me the creeps. He had so many different sides to his character but the really sleazy side of him just outshone the caring nature and love he has towards Alexandra.

Jeremy treats Alexandra to a luxurious hotel, expensive champagne and exotic foods, but this all comes at a cost! Alexandra therefore promises Dr Quinn 48 hours and no questions asked!

I wont divulge further into the story as I don’t want to give away the plot. For me this book was an OK read, I’d be interested to read parts two and three, if only to get a better picture of the whole story. The book doesn’t focus on romance between the characters, which is a good thing, but is an erotically charged read that leaves you hanging on the edge to find out what happens to Alexandra next…!

If you loved 50 Shades of Grey then give this book a go.

My rating: 

This book is available both in physical and digital format here

The Truth About Melody Browne – Lisa Jewell

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When she was nine years old, Melody Browne’s house burned down, taking every toy, every photograph, every item of clothing and old Christmas card with it. But not only did the fire destroy all her possessions, it took with it all her memories – Melody Browne can remember nothing before her ninth birthday.

 Now in her early thirties, Melody lives in a council flat in the middle of London with her seventeen-year-old son. She hasn’t seen her parents since she left home at fifteen, but Melody doesn’t mind, she’s better off on her own. She’s made a good life for herself and her son and she likes it that way.

 Until one night something extraordinary happens. Whilst attending a hypnotist show with her first date in years she faints – and when she comes round she starts to remember. At first her memories mean nothing to her but then slowly, day by day, she begins to piece together the real story of her childhood. Her journey takes her to the seaside town of Broadstairs, to oddly familiar houses in London backstreets and to meetings with strangers who love her like their own. But with every mystery she solves another one materialises, with every question she answers another appears. And Melody begins to wonder if she’ll ever know the truth about her past…

This was one of the first books I bought for my Kindle and started to read it two days ago. The story features on a woman called Melody who lives with her son Ed. Without going into too much detail and giving away the story, she doesn’t remember anything about her life before she was nine years old.

I thought the twists in this book were fantastic and kept me hooked! I was desperate to read about this intriguing young woman and find about about her past.

After Melody goes on a date with Ben she is hypnotised and suddenly her life as she knows it, is turned on it’s head and spun round. She learns the people she thought were her parents, weren’t really her parents – but long lost relatives of her mother’s.

The story outlines the tragedy Melody’s mother faced when she was just five years old, having given birth to Melody’s sister Romany who tragically passes away, Melody’s mother goes into melt down and her whole life is destroyed.

I really admire how well thought out the characters of the book were, how all their pasts interlinked and flowed across the pages. Melody’s mother does a dreadful thing but Lisa has written the character out in such a way that you can’t hate her for what she has done, and in fact feel nothing but sympathy for her.

Throughout the book my heart melted for poor Melody. There is a character by the name of Ken and at first I did have reservations about him, but in fact at the end I just wanted to give him a big hug!

Lisa Jewell has managed to tackle some rather taboo subjects throughout the book, but did so with consummate ease. The plot was believable as were the characters and I would definately recommend that those of you who have yet to read a book by Lisa Jewell, do so and start with this one.

Fantastic read which had me hooked to the end!

My rating: 

The Truth About Melody Brown is available here

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

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A fight to the death – on live TV. The game show where you kill or die, and where the winner’s prize is survival. In District 12, where Katniss Everdeen lives, life is harsh and brutal, ruled from afar by the all-powerful leaders of the Capitol. The climax of each year is the savage Hunger Games – where twelve boys and twelve girls from each District face each other in a murderous showdown. When sixteen-year-old Katniss is chosen to represent her district in the Games, everyone thinks it’s a death sentence. Only one person can survive the horrors of the arena. But plucky Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

I have to say that when I first saw these books I was a little dubious as I thought they were aimed at teenagers (which isn’t the case). It all seemed a little far fetched and so I held off buying the books until I had gone to see the film at the cinema.

The film absolutely blew me away! The plot is brilliantly thought out and I immediately downloaded the trilogy as soon as my Kindle arrived!

I started to read the book in the evening and 24 hours later I had completely devoured it!  The book is set in the future and centres around the Hunger Games, whereby two children between the ages of 12 and 18, one male and one female are chosen from each of the Twelve Districts, to participate in these games. Each district are unique to their own industry, i.e mining, farming and the like.

The participants are then trained before being placed in an artificial environment whereby they fight to the death. There can only be one winner.

The main character, Katniss wasn’t initially picked to participate in The Hunger Games, it was her sister Prim. On hearing Prim’s name being called out Katniss immediately begs to take her place, she will do anything to protect her family. Peeta was also picked from District 12 to participate in The Hunger Games, and as the plot unravels we learn that he is very fond of Katniss and has in fact saved her life once before.

Katniss hasn’t had an easy life, her father died in a mining disaster and so she became the family’s sole provider, breaking laws to put food on their table, whilst her mother fell to pieces.

My favourite character within the book was Haymitch, he was a previous winner of the Hunger Games. He also came from District 12 and is enlisted to help train Katniss and Peeta.

Although the book is set around people being killed, I didn’t find the book to be morbid and thought it to be very well written. It wasn’t a bloodbath as I had expected it to be. The book will have you gripped from the start of the Hunger Games. Will Katniss conquer?!

I don’t want to give too much away but I have to say that this is one of the best books I have read this year. I cannot wait until the second instalment is released in the cinemas next year!

My rating: 

The Hunger Games is available here