January Book Reviews

Still cannot quite believe we are in 2019 but here we go with the first round of books I have been reading recently.  Some of these go back a month or three as I haven’t done one in  a while but hoping this year will be a much more organised one!

With Or Without You by Shari Low

wowy

The Blurb

Have you ever made a life-changing decision and then wondered if you made the right one…?

When Liv and Nate walked up the aisle, Liv knew she was marrying the one, her soul mate and her best friend.

Six years later, it feels like routine and friendship is all they have left in common. What happened to the fun, the excitement, the lust, the love?

In the closing moments of 1999, Liv and Nate decide to go their separate ways, but at the last minute, Liv wavers. Should she stay or should she go?

Over the next twenty years we follow the parallel stories to discover if Liv’s life, heart and future have been better with Nate… Or without him?

A clever, captivating and bitterweet story of what might have been. Perfect for the fans of Jojo Moyes and Marian Keyes.

What I Thought

Wow!  I really enjoy Shari Low’s books and this one was no exception.  The idea presented in the blurb intrigued me – could one decision really affect your whole life?

I loved the way the chapters were devoted to special events in the lives of this group of friends – parties, birthdays, weddings.  It was a chance to catch up with what had been going on with them all, without having a lot of ‘filler’ detail.  This meant that, rather than a frothy chick lit read, it became a more intriguing and enjoyable read.  There was difficult subject matter tackled well by the author.  Her writing is fresh, fun and moving – you really do get attached to these characters and wants to see what happens to them in both situations.

Highly;y recommend this one and look forward to more from Shari Low!

Where To Buy

Amazon

Thankyou to Aria and NetGalley for my ARC of this book in return for a review.  All opinions are my own

A Bad Lot – Collected Short Stories by Barbara Kastelin

abadlot

The Blurb

Twenty-four engrossing tales of human life, each with a twist in the tail. 
A collection of bite-sized novellas to enjoy in a busy life of commitments. 
Entertaining short fiction with an after-taste of surprise and disquiet.
 
During the hour of perusal, the soul of the reader is at the writer’s control” Edgar Allan Poe .
 
A Bad Lot is a collection of twenty-four short stories. Twenty-four stories each in a different style, set in different times and in different places showing the frailty that humans are capable of.
 
The Neapolitan thief can almost be forgiven, and the lone woman in the Manor house might have been more perceptive about her suitor. The Cambridge lawyer had no guts; lies have short legs in a Caribbean resort. A crush on a police inspector is a poor excuse for some behaviour, and buying a holiday home in the sunny Algarve may have its downfalls but, for her love of dogs, the woman from Norfolk will have to be rewarded in heaven. Whether giraffes have mythical powers is questionable, while being slave to a Nordic god could confuse any young man. Yes, the world around us is full of surprises.
 
We have all come across the feelings these characters in A Bad Lot experience. Our senses record the world around us but, in our brains, it is our frail humanity that overlays the information with illusion – our vanity, jealousy, sexuality, insecurity, love, ambition and guilt warp our perception. This anthology of short stories takes us on an entertaining tour of our capacity for self-deception. Lyrical and clever, they tackle the challenges of our demons.

What I Thought

Short stories are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I really enjoy them.  Normally there will be a couple or three of the stories in a collection like this, that I end up flicking through as they don’t grab my attention.  However, in this book, I read every single story and enjoyed them all.  Some I enjoyed more than others, but each one was able to hold my attention and entertain me.

Some of the first short story collections I read were the ones by Roald Dahl and there were similarities in this collection – deception, greed, jealousy, blind ambition.  It was like a trip through the seven deadly sins.  Some of the stories were shocking, some horrifying and some made you cheer when the good guy actually came out on top!  There is some adult content not suitable for children.

Any short story fan will love this and it is a great introduction to them if you have not previously read a collection.  Highly recommended and very much enjoyed by me!

Where To Buy

Troubadour Website

Amazon

The Author – Barbara Kastelin

Barbara Kastelin was brought up in Switzerland, always writing and painting, and always an outsider, an observer and a collector. She studied copy-writing and design in New York and worked for the UN Secretary-General. Having married a British diplomat, she has lived all over the world. She is the author of two previous novels

Thankyou to Troubadour and NetGalley fro my ARC of this book in return for a review.  All opinions are my own

Mothers by Chris Power

The Blurb

An “extraordinary” (The Sunday Times) debut of unnerving beauty, Chris Power’s short story collection Mothers evokes the magic and despair of the essential human longing for purpose.

Chris Power’s stories are peopled by men and women who find themselves at crossroads or dead ends—characters who search without knowing what they seek. Their paths lead them to thresholds, bridges, rivers, and sites of mysterious, irresistible connection to the past. A woman uses her mother’s old travel guide, aged years beyond relevance, to navigate on a journey to nowhere; a stand-up comic with writer’s block performs a fateful gig at a cocaine-fueled bachelor party; on holiday in Greece, a father must confront the limits to which he can keep his daughters safe. Braided throughout is the story of Eva, a daughter, wife, and mother, whose search for a self and place of belonging tracks a devastating path through generations.

Ranging from remote English moors to an ancient Swedish burial ground to a hedonistic Mexican wedding, the stories in Mothers lay bare the emotional and psychic damage of life, love, and abandonment. Suffused with yearning, Power’s transcendent prose expresses a profound ache for vanished pasts and uncertain futures.

What I Thought

Another set of short stories which I LOVED! I devoured it and it really reminded me of the first sets of short stories I read by Roald Dahl (for adults) with their noir humour. The characters were all intensely fascinating, disturbing and multilayered.

As with many of these types of book, there were a couple which didn’t quite grab me the way the others had, but overall the book is brilliant and I would recommend to any fans of short stories or anyone interested in reading some.

Where To Buy

Amazon – available in Kindle, hardback, paperback and Audible editions

The Author – Chris Powers

Chris Power lives and works in London. His column, A Brief Survey Of The Sort Story, has appeared in The Guardian since 2007. He has written for the BBC, The New York Times and The New Statesman. His fiction has been published in The Stinging Fly, The Dublin Review and The White Review. Mothers is his first book.

Thanks to NetGalley for my ARC of this book which I received in return for an honest review.

Our Little Lies by Sue Watson (Audible)

The Blurb

Marianne has a life others dream of. A beautiful townhouse on the best street in the neighbourhood. Three bright children who are her pride and joy.

Sometimes her past still hurts: losing her mother, growing up in foster care. But her husband Simon is always there. A successful surgeon, he’s the envy of every woman they’ve ever met. Flowers, gifts, trips to France – nothing is too good for his family.

Then Simon says another woman’s name. The way he lingers on it, Caroline, gives Marianne a shudder of suspicion, but she knows she can’t entertain this flash of paranoia.

In the old days, she’d have distracted herself at work, but Marianne left her glamorous career behind when she got married. She’d speak to a friend, but she’s too busy with her children and besides, Simon doesn’t approve of the few she has left.

It’s almost by accident that Marianne begins to learn more about Caroline. But once she starts, she can’t stop. Because what she finds makes her wonder whether the question she should be asking is not ‘should she be jealous’, but… ‘should she be scared’?

Fans of The Girl on the Train and I Let You Go looking for a dark, gripping psychological thriller, with a final twist that will put their jaw on the floor, will love Our Little Lies.

What I Thought

So this was the first Audible book I have purchased that I just couldn’t get through. Not because of a terrible plot or the writing style, or even the narrator. Unfortunately I couldn’t cope with the content of the story and the quite realistic and vivid descriptions of abuse contained.

I love a good psychological thriller but unfortunately this one just pushed my buttons and I had to turn it off. I would definitely advise anyone that may be sensitive to this type of content be very wary of this one.

Where To Buy

Amazon – Kindle, Paperback, Audible versions available

Sincerely, X (Audible)

The Blurb

Some stories are too sensitive, painful or potentially damaging to share publicly — unless they can be shared anonymously. TED and Audible present Sincerely, X: an original audio series featuring talks from speakers whose ideas deserve to be heard, but whose identities must remain hidden. The first season features a compelling program of victims, perpetrators, investigators, activists, empaths and more.

What I Thought

This was a free download from the Audible store and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I have listened to a couple of TED talks but would definitely like to see more. This series is all done anonymously, the person is recorded in a studio rather than a stage and their identity is kept secret.

The talks were on a range of different topics and all very interesting. There were a couple out of the ten that didn’t quite grab my attention as much as the others, but I recommend a listen to the whole series, you will not be disappointed. I am looking forward to the second series!

See Ted Talks for more information

The Colour Of Bee Larkin’s Murder by Sarah J. Harris (Audible)

The Blurb

How do you solve a mystery when you can’t understand the clues?

’A rich tapestry… distinctive and compelling’ Observer

’A stunning whodunnit’ Mail on Sunday

‘A beautiful, original novel, at once funny and tragic and brave’ Sarah Pinborough

There are three things you need to know about Jasper.

1. He sees the world completely differently.
2. He can’t recognise faces – not even his own.
3. He is the only witness to the murder of his neighbour, Bee Larkham.

But uncovering the truth about that night will change his world forever…

An extraordinary and compelling debut which will make you see the world in a way you’ve never seen it before

What I Thought

Well, I think most thought that 2018 was the year of Eleanor Oliphant for best character but Jasper could take the crown just as easily. Jasper is a really likeable character and has a refreshing kind of honesty about him which I adored.

Once again, Ste ended up listening in to this one and loving it too. I think its perfect for anyone who also enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant and both me and Ste enjoyed our time in Jasper’s world. A highlight of the year.

Where To Buy

Amazon – Kindle, hardback, paperback and Audible versions available

A Disconnected Christmas by Ryan Ringbloom

The Blurb

Lindsay Subbloom’s marriage didn’t make it past the honeymoon. Her prince had a secret that she never saw coming. Now an internet obsession is keeping her connected to a brokenhearted past.

Her sister knows that if Lindsay doesn’t let go of her horrible new habit, she’ll have no future. Enter her brilliant idea—the gift of going offline. She hopes pushing Lindsay back into the real world will open the door for a second chance at love.

When Seth O’Shea sets his sights on the beautiful third-grade teacher, there’s an instant connection. Insta-smitten quickly turns to insta-smut. And when insta-love starts settling in, it looks like Lindsay may just get the fairy tale she’s always dreamed of in time for Christmas.

But what happens when she reconnects? Will she finally get her happily ever after? Or will old habits resurface and make her new man bounce before it begins?

What I Thought

This was a sweet, very easy read (I almost finished it in one sitting when I was poorly post Christmas). I thought the focus would be more on the challenge of being disconnected from social media, but it didn’t really focus on that which was a little disappointing.

The characters were likeable and the story was realistic. It can be a little ‘risque’ in places and there are some frank discussions about sex so not suitable if you are a prude! I could see this book as a good rom-com movie, there is definitely scope for improvement and filling out the storyline.

A cutsie, easy read if you are looking to pass a few hours with a modern romance style book.

Where To Buy

Amazon – Kindle version available

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book in return for my honest review

Hope you enjoyed that little round up for this month and give some of these a try if you haven’t already. If you have read any of them let me know what you think in the comments below – do your opinions differ to mine?

Read With Me

26 comments

  1. A Disconnected Christmas looks like a book I would actually read but that is disappointing that it doesn’t focus on the disconnecting from the social media aspect. I have always found that topic so intriguing since it’s so hard for me to disconnect now especially with my blog!

    Like

  2. I am not familiar with any of these books but I saw a few that piqued my interest. The Colour Of Bee Larkin’s Murder, just because I love me some mystery thriller. Our Little Lies just because of The Girl on the Train reference (sorry that you didn’t enjoy this one tho) and Sincerely, X because I love watching Youtube vids of TED talks. 🙂

    Jennilyn @ Rurouni Jenni Reads

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  3. Ouch! I was going to look into Our little lies and your review has made me a bit reluctant now..
    I hope you get to read more books like Shari Low’s..

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    1. Thank you, love her books! I’m probably a little more sensitive to it but it just got me! Lots of people have enjoyed it though but wanted to let people know how I felt as it may trigger others too xx

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  4. Wow you have read a lot recently. Certainly quite a few I’d enjoy. Sorry you couldn’t enjoy Our Little Lies. Think I’d still like to give it a try #readwithme

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  5. You’ve definitely sold The Colour of Bee Larkin’s Murder to me! But I also like the sound of With or Without You and Our Little Lies, even if you didn’t enjoy it.

    Like

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