Daisy Jones And The Six (buddy read with Chrissi Reads) by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Published April 20, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

 

And now for something a bit different…..

 

Hi everyone and welcome to a bit of a different review on my blog today. I read quite a lot of books with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads. We have regular monthly features like our Kid-Lit challenge and Banned Books and then we have our Talking About feature where we both read a book then come together and do an interview-like post that explores our thoughts and feelings about what we’ve just read. 

I read The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo (arguably Taylor Jenkins Reid’s most famous book at this point in time) as a buddy read with blogger bestie Janel from Keeper Of Pages and enjoyed it so much I immediately passed it on to Chrissi to read too. It made Chrissi and I want to read Daisy Jones And The Six together as a buddy read, where we chatted three times through the book and after we finished, we fancied reviewing it a bit differently too!

We’ve decided to take the word DAISY JONES and for each letter, to find a word that describes some of the themes and in some cases, our feelings about the book.

 

Let’s get on with it!

D is for Daisy – 

Daisy is one of our main protagonists in this novel and such a fascinating character. Even though she makes some questionable decisions in the story, I still found myself rooting for her and caring about her as an individual.

A is for Argumentative –

The band Daisy Jones And The Six reminded me quite vividly of the real-life band, Fleetwood Mac who made an incredible album called Rumours but had so many scandals and in-fighting within the band. Like our band in the novel, it made for some great music though!

I is for Inspiring –

There are a few reasons why this word works for me in relation to the novel. There were some inspiring characters that I adored like Camila and her dedication and loyalty to her husband, Billy. Then there were my own feelings of being inspired by Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing. Everything about this band felt real and like Evelyn Hugo, I felt I could look them up as genuine individuals on Google!

S is for Strength –

Strength relates to some of the characters and their personalities. Again, I refer to Camila and the trials she goes through but it also reminds me of her husband, Billy who goes through hell and back with his own personal demons but refuses to succumb to them.

Y is for Yearning –

Oh yes. A LOT of yearning in this novel. Yearning of the characters for each other, yearning for a better life and yearning within the songs that the band write.

J is for Jealousy –

I picked up on oodles of jealousy in Daisy Jones And The Six. I think that’s quite normal in a band where you have people that steal more of the limelight and whether subconsciously or consciously neglect to let others have their time to shine.

O is for Outrageous –

The rock and roll lifestyle comes with some rock and roll behaviour from some of our characters. However, it was interesting to see how it connects with past events in their lives that may have precipitated more riskier behaviours.

N is for Narcotics –

What else can I say? Even though I don’t condone drug-taking myself, this is a novel about a rock and roll band in the 1970’s and drugs play quite a big role in some of the characters lives.

E is for Engrossing –

From the beginning, I thought this was going to be quite a difficult book to buddy read with Chrissi as I just didn’t want to put it down when I reached a specific checkpoint. Luckily, she was reading like a demon so I never had to wait!!

S is for Satisfying –

This is the perfect word for not only how I felt when I finished Daisy Jones And The Six but how I now view Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing in general. She’s filled me with such a hunger to read everything she has ever written and I await with eager anticipation what she writes next.

 

As you might be able to tell, I absolutely adored Daisy Jones And The Six. It was such a compelling, quirky read made all the more unique by the format it takes i.e. written as an interview with members of the band and those closest to them. Although I was tentative about the entire book being written like this at the start, it completely worked and made it such a fast-paced, enjoyable reading experience. I fell hard and fast for specific characters, in particular Daisy, Camila and Billy and it was wonderful to watch their journey as individuals and through their roller-coaster ride as the band’s fame sky-rocked through the story.

If you love a gripping yarn, stories about real people and their struggles and a plot that is entertaining and exciting, look no further than Daisy Jones And The Six. Believe the hype, it’s real.

To check out what Chrissi chose for her DAISY JONES words, please see her fabulous post HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Blog Tour/Social Media Blast – The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Published April 18, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…
 

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

What did I think?:

This book comes with a little bit of a story behind it and if you’ve followed my blog for a little while now, you might be aware that I’m fond of a bit of a ramble, especially when it involves a book that surprises me beyond all expectations or that I feel passionately about. I first came across The Flatshare in a bloggers event late last year for Quercus where they were celebrating some of the fiction they were most excited to publish in 2019. Now, I am painfully honest about the fact that I tend to judge books pretty quickly – sometimes on the synopsis, sometimes on the cover and whilst I’m not completely adverse to a little bit of romance, it has to be done just right otherwise I can end up feeling rather nauseated. I saw The Flatshare and initially I have to admit, I thought this book wasn’t for me at all. As part of the sought after “uplit” genre, it looked slightly fluffy and I wasn’t certain about it at all.

Beth O’Leary, author of the debut novel, The Flatshare.

This is where publicists and marketing peeps are all kinds of wonderful. I had a lovely chat with Bethan Ferguson, Marketing Director at Quercus Books and she spoke about this book so passionately that I was completely sold. Thank you to her, Ella Patel for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Quercus Books for the complimentary copy which was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. And honestly? I was blown away. The Flatshare is one of the most extraordinary and incredibly memorable books I’ve read this year and I connected with it in ways that I would never have expected prior to picking it up. I’m heartily ashamed of myself that I even considered letting it pass me by and eternally grateful for the opportunity to discover such a touching, amusing and feel-good novel that I’d be delighted to re-read again and again in the future.

What made The Flatshare so special? A few different things actually. Instantly, I was utterly charmed by both the characters and the author’s wry sense of humour but as the story continued, I appreciated the smaller details of the narrative, including the darker side of relationships and the importance of a strong support network. Tiffy and Leon became instant favourite characters of mine and I adored how we got to see challenging aspects of each of their lives and how their personal struggles are affected when they choose to open up and become vulnerable. There is a romantic element – sure, but it’s written in such a way that it becomes impossible to resist, melting this heart of mine that before now, I was convinced was starting to resemble a large, rather cold piece of stone!

Tiffy answers an advert for a room/bed in London to be shared with Leon yet the two seem destined never to meet as they work opposing shifts i.e. days versus nights.

Personally, there were points of this novel that I found quite challenging, mainly due to my own individual experiences with a specific man in my past. However (if this doesn’t sound too odd), this is one of the additional reasons why I want to rave about it so much. Readers need to find something in a novel to connect with to pronounce it a worthwhile, unforgettable experience. Obviously, that might be different for each reader, some might connect with the characters, the humour, or events that have happened in the characters lives that they themselves have gone through and relate to on an emotional level. For me, it was all these things combined that made The Flatshare such an engrossing and mesmerising affair. I experienced such an automatic click with the writing style and the delightful Tiffy and Leon that I tore through this novel in a very short space of time, gobbling up each word and momentous event with a ridiculous kind of fervour that I normally reserve only for my very favourite authors.

As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but compare it in my head to Bridget Jones’ Diary for a new generation. Although the plot and topics covered are not totally comparable, I could see the same humour, endearing characters and pivotal events that made Bridget Jones such a classic, well-loved piece of literature. The Flatshare is one of those wonderful books that sticks in your head. It makes you smile and leaves such a satisfying lump in your throat that was truly surprising, ESPECIALLY for a cynical, suspicious soul like myself! Please, don’t do a “me,” and think you know what this book is going to be about. You’d be wrong and I’d love you to give it a shot.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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AUTHOR INFORMATION

Beth studied English at university before going into children’s publishing. She lives as close to the countryside as she can get while still being within reach of London, and wrote her first novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from work.
You’ll usually find her curled up with a book, a cup of tea, and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather).

Find her on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13038484.Beth_O_Leary

on Instagram at: @betholearyauthor

on Twitter at: @olearybeth

Thank you so much once again to Ella Patel and Quercus Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. The Flatshare is published on 18th April 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour/social media blast for some amazing reviews!

Link to The Flatshare on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36478784-the-flatshare?ac=1&from_search=true

Link to The Flatshare on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Flatshare-Beth-OLeary/dp/1787474402/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?crid=325SMIVPR2L7K&keywords=the+flatshare+beth+oleary&qid=1555615002&s=gateway&sprefix=the+flatshare%2Caps%2C338&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

 

No Way Out (DI Adam Fawley #3) – Cara Hunter

Published April 17, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

DID YOU SEE ANYTHING ON THE NIGHT THE ESMOND FAMILY WERE MURDERED? 

From the author of CLOSE TO HOME and IN THE DARK comes the third pulse-pounding DI Fawley crime thriller.

It’s one of the most disturbing cases DI Fawley has ever worked. 

The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is soon fighting for his life.

Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone?

Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley’s worst nightmare comes true.

Because this fire wasn’t an accident.

It was murder.

What did I think?:

I’m so excited to talk to you about Cara Hunter’s incredible new novel, No Way Out, the third book in the DI Adam Fawley crime series set in Oxford and published in paperback on 18th April. If you’ve read my previous reviews of Close To Home and In The Dark, you won’t be surprised to hear that I’m a massive fan of Cara’s writing, her characters and this series in general so my expectations were sky high for this latest instalment. Thank you so much to Jane Gentle at Penguin Random House UK for sending me a complimentary copy a few months ago in exchange for an honest review. I deliberately held off on reading this book until a couple of months ago as I prefer to read and review as close to publication date as possible. Finally, when I couldn’t hold back any longer, I finally cracked open No Way Out and was delighted to fully immerse myself within Fawley’s world once more, a world I had been sorely missing since I finished In The Dark last year.

Cara Hunter, author of No Way Out, the third book in the DI Adam Fawley series. 

Each of Cara’s novels in this series has the beauty of being able to stand on its own, as a story in its own right and so you could potentially read it without having read any of the other novels in the Fawley saga. However, for all the specific nuances of the individual characters and the way in which we slowly get to know them through these three books, I would honestly recommend starting right from the beginning with Close To Home. One of my favourite things about this series is the way in which the author develops her characters. I believe I’ve mentioned in a previous review that it’s not just all about Adam Fawley with the other characters playing supportive, occasionally bland and vague roles as I’ve seen with some other crime fiction series.

I’m happy to announce this remains the case with No Way Out – the characters are all fully developed, interesting, personable and individually valuable and more often than not, Adam Fawley will step back within the narrative and allow another character to take centre stage. As a reader, I adore when an author does this. It’s so refreshing to see such a host of vibrant personalities that all have their own, very unique story to share. I feel as if I’m getting to know each one – Gislingham, Quinn, Somer and Everett separately and as a result, it makes them instantly more relatable and authentic, especially with the delicate way the author drip feeds information about their lives through each novel.

The city of Oxford, UK – the setting for No Way Out.

As with all my reviews but particularly for thrillers or crime fiction, you won’t be getting any spoilers here but it’s safe to say I was once again completely engrossed by this fascinating and devastating case of a house fire which involves a family with two children. The compelling element behind this tragedy is that the parents of the children appear to both be missing as the police start to investigate what happened. In classic Cara Hunter style, she uses social media, articles and transcripts from interviews to compliment her writing in what becomes an intense, highly gripping narrative which completely took my breath away. I’m familiar enough with the author’s style that I know she’s going to surprise me and I try to keep an open as mind a possible and not think too deeply about what might be going on or whom the “villain” of the piece may be. Nevertheless, she still manages to knock it out of the park every single time. I’m always shocked, constantly captivated and increasingly bereft that I’ve reached the end. Saying that, it does leave me with an exciting little fizz of anticipation in my stomach, ready for the next instalment!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Five Books I’d Love To Receive For My Birthday – 2019

Published April 16, 2019 by bibliobeth

Happy Birthday to me! April is my birthday month and my birthday actually falls on Easter Sunday this year. Like any other regular bookworm, the only thing I want for my birthday is BOOKS. I did this post last year in 2018 and enjoyed doing it so much I thought I’d have another go this year. Let’s be honest, there’s no chance of my wish-list ever getting any smaller – there’s just too many good books out there people!! This post isn’t a hint to loved ones or family members but if I’m lucky enough to get any vouchers, this is what I’ll be buying. Let’s get on with it.

 

1.) My Sister The Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite

What’s it all about?:

My Sister, the Serial Killer is a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water…

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

Why do I want it?:

This book has been on my radar for a little while and now it’s been long-listed for the Women’s Prize For Fiction 2019 that’s just bumped it up on my wish-list even further. I’ve heard great things and that synopsis is far too intriguing to pass up, right?

2.) The Silence Of The Girls – Pat Barker

What’s it all about?:

The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, which continues to wage bloody war over a stolen woman—Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman—Briseis—watches and waits for the war’s outcome. She was queen of one of Troy’s neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, Greece’s greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers. Briseis becomes Achilles’s concubine, a prize of battle, and must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army.

When Agamemnon, the brutal political leader of the Greek forces, demands Briseis for himself, she finds herself caught between the two most powerful of the Greeks. Achilles refuses to fight in protest, and the Greeks begin to lose ground to their Trojan opponents. Keenly observant and coolly unflinching about the daily horrors of war, Briseis finds herself in an unprecedented position, able to observe the two men driving the Greek army in what will become their final confrontation, deciding the fate not only of Briseis’s people but also of the ancient world at large.

Briseis is just one among thousands of women living behind the scenes in this war—the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead—all of them erased by history. With breathtaking historical detail and luminous prose, Pat Barker brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis’s perspective, are rife with newfound revelations. Barker’s latest builds on her decades-long study of war and its impact on individual lives—and it is nothing short of magnificent.

Why do I want it?:

I’m a huge fan of Greek mythology and re-discovered my love for it after reading The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller and Mythos by Stephen Fry a little while ago. Again, I’ve heard great things about this re-telling and it’s on the long-list for the Women’s Prize For Fiction 2019.

3.) Remembered – Yvonne Battle-Felton

What’s it all about?:

It is 1910 and Philadelphia is burning. For Spring, there is nothing worse than sitting up half the night with her dead sister and her dying son, reliving a past she would rather not remember in order to prepare for a future she cannot face. Edward, Spring’s son, lies in a hospital bed. He has been charged with committing a crime on the streets of Philadelphia. But is he guilty? The evidence — a black man driving a streetcar into a store window – could lead to his death. Surrounded by ghosts and the wounded, Spring, an emancipated slave, is forced to rewrite her story in order to face the prospect of a future without her child. With the help of her dead sister, newspaper clippings and reconstructed memories, she shatters the silences that have governed her life in order to lead Edward home.

Why do I want it?:

This book looks absolutely fascinating and a must-read from everything I’ve heard. Again, it’s long-listed for the Women’s Prize For Fiction 2019. If you read my Birthday TBR from last year, you’ll notice I’m AGAIN mentioning mostly Women’s Prize books. Guys, I can’t help it if the long-list is released so close to my birthday! 😀

4.) Normal People – Sally Rooney

What’s it all about?:

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers—one they are determined to conceal.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years in college, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Then, as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.

Why do I want it?:

There’s been so much buzz about Sally Rooney and although I still haven’t read her first novel, Conversations With Friends, I’m really intrigued about this one. It was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize last year and is also long-listed for the Women’s Prize 2019. Surprise surprise!

5.) My Year Of Rest And Relaxation – Ottessa Moshfegh

What’s it all about?:

A shocking, hilarious and strangely tender novel about a young woman’s experiment in narcotic hibernation, aided and abetted by one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature. Our narrator has many of the advantages of life, on the surface. Young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, she lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like everything else, by her inheritance. But there is a vacuum at the heart of things, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents in college, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her alleged best friend. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

This story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs, designed to heal us from our alienation from this world, shows us how reasonable, even necessary, that alienation sometimes is. Blackly funny, both merciless and compassionate – dangling its legs over the ledge of 9/11 – this novel is a showcase for the gifts of one of America’s major young writers working at the height of her powers.

Why do I want it?:

Yes! An outlier that isn’t on the Women’s Prize 2019 long-list! In all seriousness, although I’ve heard mixed reviews about this novel I’m too intrigued to pass up on it. It might be a love it or hate it kind of book but with those kind of reads I really love to make up my own mind.

 

I’d love to know what you think of my birthday wish-list selection. Have you read any of these books and what did you think? Or do you want to read any of them and why? Let me know in the comments below!

The Confessions Of Frannie Langton – Sara Collins

Published April 15, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

‘A book of heart, soul and guts…beautifully written, lushly evocative, and righteously furious. Frannie might be a 19th century character, but she is also a heroine for our times’Elizabeth Day

‘They say I must be put to death for what happened to Madame, and they want me to confess. But how can I confess what I don’t believe I’ve done?’

1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The testimonies against her are damning – slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.

For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed.

But through her fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?

‘A seductive and entrancing read, with captivating historical detail…The Confessions of Frannie Langton is an extremely powerful book that resonates long after the final page has been turned’ Laura Carlin, the author of The Wicked Cometh

‘I loved it…Not only a good read but an important book, reminding us of both how far the world has come and how little it has changed. I was gripped, amused, and saddened. I ate Sara Collins’ words up as though they were the sugar, or laudanum, that she writes about so evocatively. It’s a glory of a book’Stephanie Butland

What did I think?:

This review comes with an enormous thank you to Ellie Hudson at Viking Books UK who very kindly sent me a copy of this astonishing debut novel in exchange for an honest review. I had seen a bit of buzz around this book for a little while now, especially from the people I follow over on Instagram and once my attention is captured in that way, it’s hard to rest until I find out what all the fuss is about for myself. It’s even more satisfying as a reader when all that hype is completely worth it and you read a book that is so captivating that you’re just grateful for the opportunity to have picked it up. The Confessions Of Frannie Langton is a fascinating historical treat which follows a young woman from Jamaica that intrigues you from the very first chapter and is the sort of novel that gets under your skin, digging its heels in until you’ve finished the final page.

Sara Collins, author of debut novel The Confessions Of Frannie Langton.

The devastation of slavery and how it affects the individuals who are enslaved, the slave-owners who harbour ridiculous beliefs and their unbelievable feelings of entitlement and the first rumblings of anti-slavery are all brought vividly to life through the power of Sara Collins’ writing. It provides us with unforgettable characters like Frannie who possesses such a convoluted personal history filled with grief, heart-break and horrific decisions. She never feels as if she belongs in a specific area or with a particular group of people purely because of the colour of her skin and because she is raised in a very experimental way i.e. to be educated to the same level as a 19th century “white” person. As a result, individuals of both races treat her with derision and suspicion, believing she is not “one of them,” or that she believes herself above her station in life.

Coupled with this, Frannie has had some hideous experiences at her first home in Jamaica, enslaved and put to work as an assistant for Mr Langton in order to investigate some of his personal theories. It is because of the events that occur in her home country that leads to her arriving in England and being placed in the home of the Benham’s. This concurrently marks another huge turning point in her life which brings us to the present time period where the reader first meets her, being tried in a court of law. From this moment, we go back in time and hear Frannie’s incredible story and begin to learn about the instances in her past that have brought her to such a dangerous reckoning.

The Old Bailey courthouse, London, 1897 as it would have looked when our character, Frannie Langton stood trial. 

Image from: https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/static/The-old-bailey.jsp

This was such an interesting read and as I mentioned earlier, I found myself gripped by it from the very beginning, mainly because we meet Frannie at such a pivotal moment in her life and as a reader, I just wanted to know everything that preceded it. Little did I know, the trial at The Old Bailey was not the only defining moment of Frannie’s young life and the novel explores all the uglier (and occasionally happy moments) of her story in full, glorious detail. She is an unreliable narrator at the beginning, mainly because she has no recollection of the immediate events that led to her trial but ever so slowly, things start to make sense and become slightly clearer. Nevertheless, the author keeps us on tenterhooks until the very end before revealing all the dastardly goings-on of the night in question.

This novel is luminous in the way it approaches the historical elements of the narrative and oozing with atmosphere that made me feel as if I was walking the exact same paths as Frannie herself. There were some tough moments too and I loved that Sara Collins was not afraid to explore the dark side of that particular time period, especially with slavery and the perspectives on the black community. It felt gritty, realistic, disturbing and important and I’m so excited to see what she’ll write next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Talking About Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty with Chrissi Reads

Published April 14, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out…

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Combining all of the hallmarks that have made her writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: There’s been mixed reviews of this book. Did that affect your opinion going into the story?

BETH: I hadn’t actually realised there had been mixed reviews until you told me – haha! I’m a huge fan of Liane Moriarty although I’ve only managed to read a couple of her books – the incredible Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret (although I have Truly Madly Guilty on my shelves). I have to be honest and say that because of that, I probably look at the author’s work through rose-tinted glasses and was determined to keep an open mind, ignore the haters and try and make up my own mind about the novel as I read my way through.

BETH: I found Moriarty’s dry wit brought something a bit more interesting to this story. Do you agree?

CHRISSI: Interesting question. I think without dry wit this book would have puzzled me even more. I think it made the story more cold? If that makes sense. It wasn’t a heart-warming story. It was almost clinical for me. I hope that makes sense, I know what I mean. I felt like the way in which the book was written, didn’t really make you feel for the characters. It was almost like Liane Moriarty was making fun of her own characters.

CHRISSI: Why do you think the author chose to tell this story through multiple perspectives? How would it have changed your view of each of the characters if the story had been told through just one voice?

BETH: I always love a story told through multiple perspectives. You get a much more rounded view of the situation as it happens and a true view of each individual personality. I think if it had been told through one voice, you would have that individual bias of how just one character saw a situation and other people around them. It does make it more exciting too – especially if you’re not a fan of a particular individual but you’re keen to get back to another one’s point of view.

BETH: Who was your favourite character in Nine Perfect Strangers and why?

CHRISSI: Oh wow. This is a tough question because like I said in my previous answer to your question, I felt like I didn’t feel for any of the characters. That disengagement meant that I didn’t have a favourite character. I guess, if I had to pick I would pick Yao because I found him the most intriguing.

CHRISSI: Discuss the pros and cons of the retreat’s ban on technology and social media. What do you think the author is saying about the effects they have on society?

BETH: I’m not sure about the author’s personal views on social media and technology but I find it crazy sometimes how much they take over our lives. Obviously having blogs, we probably spend a good deal of our free time on social media. I know I post a lot on Instagram, try to blog hop every day and re-tweet other bloggers posts every day but I can also remember a time when we didn’t have the internet and I got my kicks by watching Top Of The Pops on a weekday night and recording the TOP 40 off the radio on Sunday afternoons! In a way, the fact that we have constant access to information (and funny animal videos which I have a particular fondness for!!) has isolated us slightly from those around us and I do try to restrict the time I spend on my phone and have normal, face to face conversations too. From the point of view of Nine Perfect Strangers though, it is fascinating to watch how individuals cope when these things we now take for granted are taken away from them.

BETH: I sympathise with your struggle to give this book a rating. Why do you think you’re torn in this way?

CHRISSI: I think it’s because I wanted to love it. I love Liane Moriarty’s writing and I know she is highly thought of. I also really enjoy reading her ideas. I just felt for me this book was too ridiculous and unbelievable. Not every book has to be believable, but something like this got too far fetched for me. I wanted to love it, I didn’t hate it…so I’m somewhere in-between. I think if I could have connected with the characters, then it might have been completely different.

CHRISSI: Would you ever go on a retreat like Tranquillum House? Why/Why not?

BETH: Maybe not EXACTLY like Tranquillum House haha. However, I could see myself doing something like this. I love the idea of getting away from the world and learning new techniques to relax. As long as I had a big pile of books to accompany me, I think I would quite enjoy a retreat like this. For now, I’ll take pleasure in my reading holidays to Malta with you my sister! 🙂

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes! I do like her writing and I’m not put off at all.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI: Yes?

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

The Dollmaker – Nina Allan

Published April 13, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Stitch by perfect stitch, Andrew Garvie makes exquisite dolls in the finest antique style. Like him, they are diminutive but graceful, unique, and with surprising depths. Perhaps that’s why he answers the enigmatic personal ad in his collector’s magazine.

Letter by letter, Bramber Winters reveals more of her strange, sheltered life in an institution on Bodmin Moor, and the terrible events that put her there as a child. Andrew knows what it is to be trapped, and as they knit closer together, he weaves a curious plan to rescue her.

On his journey through the old towns of England, he reads the fairy tales of Ewa Chaplin–potent, eldritch stories which, like her lifelike dolls, pluck at the edges of reality and thread their way into his mind. When Andrew and Bramber meet at last, they will have a choice–to break free and, unlike their dolls, come to life.

A love story of two very real, unusual people, The Dollmaker is also a novel rich with wonders: Andrew’s quest and Bramber’s letters unspool around the dark fables that give our familiar world an uncanny edge. It is this touch of magic that, like the blink of a doll’s eyes, tricks our own.

What did I think?:

The whimsical nature of The Dollmaker was first brought to my attention during an event held by Quercus Books last year where they showcased some of the fiction they were excited to be publishing in 2019. The Dollmaker was one of these books and marketed in such a gorgeous display that not only was it immediately eye-catching but I was instantly intrigued to read the novel. Thank you so much to the publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wonderful display for The Dollmaker from the team at Quercus Books.

From the very beginning, The Dollmaker felt like a very “me” book. From the quirky subject matter to the inclusion of fairy-tales and the nods to magical realism, I was incredibly excited to read it, desperately hoping I would be instantly captivated and under the author’s spell. Now that I’ve finished it, I can finally report back with a mixture of both positive and more tentative thoughts that I’ll do my best to get across coherently. First of all, I don’t think this book is going to be for everyone. Stay with me though because that isn’t necessarily a negative statement. Very much like the dolls within the narrative, the story itself is quite disjointed and has a tendency to shift as you’re reading it, almost at times like a stream of consciousness.

Nina Allan, author of The Dollmaker.

We see most of the story through the eyes of Andrew and Bramber who have struck up a correspondence and are beginning to feel quite strongly towards each other, sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings through the letters they write and receive. When we begin the novel, we learn about Bramber, who has spent much of her life in an institution for reasons unknown and as she gradually opens up to Andrew, we learn more about the events that led to her present situation. Unknown to Bramber, her correspondent Andrew, who has mastered the fine art of doll-making is on his way to where she is to finally meet her face to face and build on their relationship. Interspersed between their stories and letters are fairy-tales from Ewa Chaplin (also a doll-maker) which Andrew is reading on his journey. However, as the stories continue, there appear to be some strange cross-overs between characters in Chaplin’s tales and events in Andrew and Bramber’s own lives.

I have to say, the fairy-tale aspects of this novel were one of my favourite parts. I didn’t enjoy all of them to the same degree but some of them were incredibly dark, delicious and gripping. However, this is also where the difficulty rose for me with this novel. I appreciated the beautiful, unusual style of writing and the clever way in which the author intertwined parts of the fairy-tales with the main narrative. Yet it was only when I read the fairy-tales that I found myself fully invested in the story. Sadly, I didn’t feel a connect with either Andrew or Bramber and although I was intrigued to find out what would happen if and when they met face to face, I didn’t get as much out of their characters or personalities as I would have liked. Sometimes it felt as if it went off in too many directions for me to catch hold of the thread and unfortunately, I found myself looking forward to the next fairy-tale rather than the story between the two main protagonists.

There’s no denying that The Dollmaker is a very unique and accomplished read and there are real sparks of magic, suspense and darkness that were wonderful to experience but it was just a shame I couldn’t find a connection with the primary characters or their individual stories. Nevertheless, I would still be interested in reading other works by this author on the strength of her storytelling ability.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art