Richard and Judy

All posts in the Richard and Judy category

Under A Pole Star – Stef Penney

Published November 22, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Flora Mackie was twelve when she first crossed the Arctic Circle on her father’s whaling ship. Now she is returning to the frozen seas as the head of her own exploration expedition. Jakob de Beyn was raised in Manhattan, but his yearning for new horizons leads him to the Arctic as part of a rival expedition. When he and Flora meet, all thoughts of science and exploration give way before a sudden, all-consuming love.

The affair survives the growing tensions between the two groups, but then, after one more glorious summer on the Greenland coast, Jakob joins his leader on an extended trip into the interior, with devastating results.

The stark beauty of the Arctic ocean, where pack ice can crush a ship like an eggshell, and the empty sweep of the tundra, alternately a snow-muffled wasteland and an unexpectedly gentle meadow, are vividly evoked. Against this backdrop Penney weaves an irresistible love story, a compelling look at the dark side of the golden age of exploration, and a mystery that Flora, returning one last time to the North Pole as an old woman, will finally lay to rest.

What did I think?:

Under A Pole Star is the penultimate pick for the Richard and Judy Book Club here in the UK and is something I like to follow whenever they bring out a new list. If you’re interested in the rest of the books they have picked for the Autumn Book Club, check out the main page on my blog where there is a tab that includes all the reads for this season and some of the past choices, most of which I review in a “Talking About” feature with my sister and fellow blogger, Chrissi Reads. This is the first novel I’ve read by Stef Penney although I am familiar with her debut, The Tenderness Of Wolves which I know was very popular when it came out in 2006 and won a prize for best debut at The Costa Book Awards. If you missed the announcement last night, Under A Pole Star has made the short-list for the best novel category in the Costa Book Awards this year so I wish the author the very best of luck.

As soon as I read the synopsis for this novel, I have to say I was very excited. The idea of two rival Arctic expeditions in the late 1940’s and a blossoming love affair between the two camps was quite intriguing but I’m also not a big fan of romance – it has to be done as delicately as possible for me otherwise I just feel slightly nauseous so I did approach this book with slight trepidation as well. Romance aside for the moment, generally this is a fantastic novel. We have two main characters – the British Flora Mackie and the American Jakob de Beyn who has Dutch roots but is raised in America with his brother after a tragedy befalls his parents. Flora herself has been practically raised on the ice having lost her mother also at a young age and her father, a whaling captain takes her along on his expeditions.

The novel opens with Flora as an old woman, returning to the Arctic for one more expedition and there is a young male journalist eager to meet with the woman known as The Snow Queen to revel in the juicy tidbits of her life. Then the story goes back in time to when Flora was a teenager and first developed her love of exploring and then finally to *that* expedition of 1948 where she meets Jakob for the first time and they fall in love. We also hear parts of Jakob’s adolescence, his struggles with his family, his love for his brother and his friend Frank who ends up accompanying him on the expedition, and his triumphs when he becomes a geologist and gets to realise his dream – an Arctic expedition with explorer, Lester Armitage and a whole crew of people determined to discover new lands.

There is so much going on in this novel, it’s almost epic in proportions and I don’t want to go into too much detail about plot for fear of giving anything away (and also I don’t want to tell you the full story of course, what fun would that be?). Let’s just say there’s tragedy in both of our protagonists lives, heart-break, difficult situations that they come across where they succeed or fail but the main crux of the tale is that by falling in love with each other, it makes both their lives better despite what has happened in their pasts and what happens to them afterwards. I can almost see it as a feature length film, it felt like a screenplay would be a piece of cake for any talented writer and there is a lot to play with regarding characters and setting. I can’t pretend that there weren’t issues for me with the romance though unfortunately.

Flora comes across as quite a cold character at first, which is absolutely fine, she has had a lot to deal with in her life and has had to fend off multiple misogynist points of view regarding what she “should” be doing as a female in the 1940’s i.e. staying at home, cleaning the house, cooking dinner, bearing children and I really appreciated how the author made her so strong, fiesty and independent. Jakob was a little more of an enigma for me and I never felt like I got to know the real him which was a bit of a shame. However, my main problem was that I really didn’t believe in their relationship. They fell in love entirely too easily for my liking (ah, the dreaded insta-love!) and I’m so sorry but the sex scenes? Multiple cringe-worthy moments that really didn’t do it for me and were far too frequent. I’m no prude but I would much rather have heard more about the Arctic way of life with maybe a little sliver of romance and it felt very “sex-heavy,” if that’s a term. That’s just a personal preference though, truly some people might love it! She just lost me a little bit when she had Flora sniffing his penis.

Aside from this niggle, this is a fascinating book with some wonderful characters to get to grips with, poignant and devastating moments that I simply cannot share with you but I think you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve read this book already? Stef Penney has taken the people and the world of the Arctic and written a compelling piece of historical fiction that still keeps playing on my mind weeks after finishing it. I would definitely be interested in reading anything else she writes in the future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Advertisements

A Dangerous Crossing – Rachel Rhys

Published November 10, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go …

Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted onto dry land in handcuffs.

What has she done?

What did I think?:

I was first made aware of A Dangerous Crossing through a good blogger friend, the wonderful Cleopatra from Cleopatra Loves Books and you can read her fantastic review HERE. She gave it five stars and called it “a story not to be missed.” Cleo also won the opportunity to have her name appear as a character in this novel by means of a charity auction on behalf on CLIC Sargent so look out for her fabulous cameo near the end! Cleo is one of a special group of people to me that when she makes a recommendation I really listen and I’m so glad I did because I cannot stress enough how wonderful this book was. Rachel Rhys (the pen-name of a successful psychological suspense author) writes such a vivid historical fiction novel that I was completely swept up with the time period, the characters and the evocative, mysterious nature of the narrative.

Our main female protagonist is Lily Shepherd and she has recently boarded a massive cruise ship en route to Australia in search of adventure, to see the world and escape certain events from her past. She gratefully seizes an opportunity to pursue domestic work in Australia in the late 1930’s when they were crying out for British workers for a fixed period of time. On the voyage, she instantly connects with a brother and sister, Edward and Helena Fletcher and a Jewish refugee called Maria but also comes into contact with the glamorous and rich couple Eliza and Max Campbell, strange and interfering Ida and fascist bully George. Interestingly, all the characters she comes into contact with appear to be running away from something and as the voyage continues, Lily slowly discovers what this is. At the very beginning of the novel, the prologue describes a woman being led off the ship in handcuffs but just what the woman has done and what precipitated her crime is all left for the reader to discover, piece by delicious piece.

A Dangerous Crossing was picked for the Richard and Judy Autumn Book Club here in the UK and it’s easily one of my favourites in terms of writing style, characters and plot. How can I describe the characters? There’s only one word really – just GORGEOUS. There’s such a variety of individuals to enjoy, each drawn beautifully with their own distinct personality, motives and morals that it’s almost like watching a blockbuster movie in your head. I was taken directly into the author’s world (a very willing and excited participant) from that show-stopper of a prologue right until the sensational finale which shocked and delighted me in equal measure. England is on the brink of war but on this cruise liner, in the middle of the ocean, it’s a completely different world entirely with its very own heroes and villains, morals and obligations, drama and danger. Basically, this book is perfection and I have not got a bad word to say about it – please read it and discover its brilliance for yourself!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

 

Talking About The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel with Chrissi Reads

Published November 2, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: What did you make of Amy Engel’s first step into adult fiction?
BETH: I haven’t actually read any of her young adult fiction so I wasn’t sure what to expect from her writing. I’m really glad now that I went into this book not knowing what to expect as I think that’s definitely the way it should be read. I had heard so much buzz about it on Twitter and read some really great reviews from bloggers I love and trust so I was really excited to get stuck in. I also managed to avoid any spoilers which is fantastic as this is definitely a book that could be spoiled if a reviewer isn’t careful.
BETH: You had some quite conflicting feelings about this novel. Can you try and explain them?
CHRISSI: I can’t really articulate my feelings around this book because they’re so complex! At some points I thought it was brilliantly dark and deeply disturbing which I don’t mind in a book. I didn’t like any of the characters…again, not something that bothers me, so it can’t exactly be that. It’s incredibly hard to explain my feelings about this book in a way that doesn’t spoil it for future readers. Let’s just say, I didn’t like the way some aspects of the book weren’t challenged by the characters. I couldn’t feel empathy with them because of that. No one seemed to care or challenge issues. That frustrated me.
CHRISSI: Discuss the complex relationship between Lane and Allegra.
BETH: Lane and Allegra are cousins and when Lane’s mother dies, she comes to live at the Roanoke house with her grandfather, grandmother and cousin Allegra who has been raised there from a baby. At first, the two girls are delighted to be reunited and desperate to get to know each other, especially as they are of a similar age. It isn’t long though before tensions mount and their relationship becomes a lot more fragile which is one of the many factors that leads to Lane leaving and Allegra disappearing.
BETH: Without spoilers, did the main shock of the novel come as a big surprise to you?
CHRISSI: It didn’t. I started to guess what was going on as the story progressed. I was hoping it wasn’t going to be that way, but it was! This book is disturbing and I do feel that it should be approached with caution if you’re sensitive about some subjects that could trigger you.
CHRISSI: Discuss the small town setting of the novel and what this adds to the story.
BETH: Amy Engel captures all the quirks of a small town perfectly. Everybody knows who everybody else is and this means they also think that they’re entitled to know all their business too. There isn’t much to do in the town, purely because of the size of it and its distance from neighbouring towns so this gives some of the inhabitants, particularly our female protagonist Lane, the feeling of being too tightly enclosed and trapped. We also see when Lane returns as an adult how many things have stayed exactly the same (including people that she has left behind) and how frustrating this is for her as she fights to be free.
BETH: How do you think this book sits in the genre?
CHRISSI: I think it stands out as a book that is quite polarising. I can imagine some people will love its deep and dark subject matter. Others like me, would hope for some more sensitivity given the subject matter. It’s certainly a dark and gritty read. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind reading this book and it didn’t take long to read…it’s just not something I’d personally re-read.
CHRISSI: I had a love/hate relationship with this book. How did you feel about it?
BETH: I know you had quite an interesting reading experience with The Roanoke Girls where you couldn’t quite make up your mind whether you liked it or hated it but for me I think it was a bit more black and white. I did really enjoy this novel, purely because it was so dark and twisty which was a welcome bonus – I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be as disturbing as it was! I didn’t particularly like any of the characters at all but I don’t think you have to like a character to appreciate a good story either, sometimes I feel the best novels are where you have such strong feelings of DISLIKE for a character! It also had a great little twist at the end which I kind of guessed just before the final scene but was still a fantastic end to the novel.
BETH: Would you read another book by this author?
CHRISSI: I think I would. I didn’t hate the writing style, I found it particularly engaging! I would be interested to read the YA fiction that the author has had published!
Would WE recommend it?:
BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Yes! (With caution)
BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):
 four-stars_0
CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):
 3 Star Rating Clip Art

Kill The Father – Sandrone Dazieri

Published October 29, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

‘The rock cast a sharp, dark shadow over a shape huddled on the ground. Please don’t let it be the boy, Colomba thought. Her silent prayer didn’t go unanswered. The corpse belonged to the mother.’

THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN STOP HIM IS THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY…

Dante Torre spent eleven young years in captivity – held by a man known only as The Father – before outwitting his abductor. Now working for the police force, Torre’s methods are unorthodox but his brilliance is clear. When a young child goes missing in similar circumstances in Rome, Torre must confront the demons of his past to attempt to solve the case.

Paired with Deputy Captain Colomba Caselli, a fierce, warrior-like detective still reeling from having survived a bloody catastrophe, all evidence suggests The Father is active after being dormant for decades, and that he’s looking forward to a reunion with Dante…

What did I think?:

Kill The Father was translated from the original Italian by Antony Shugaar and is the first in a crime series involving a female detective called Colomba Caselli. It was chosen by TV personalities Richard and Judy as part of their Autumn book club here in the UK and is quite a hefty tome compared to other pieces of crime fiction, weighing in at just over 500 pages. I love that Richard and Judy are including a lot more thrillers on their recommended reads recently and usually, I highly enjoy all their choices in this genre. Kill The Father has had some terrific reviews on GoodReads with an average rating of 4.12 which, as I’m sure you know is high praise indeed. So, here comes unpopular opinion time – I really didn’t enjoy it as much as other people seem to have done. There’s so much to appreciate about it (which I’ll go into later) but for some reason, everything just felt a bit too frantic and overly convoluted for me which didn’t make it a particularly enjoyable reading experience.

Our female protagonist is Deputy Captain Colomba Caselli, officially on leave from her work with the police after an incident where she barely escaped with her life. She is vulnerable, damaged but determined and is soon pulled (unofficially) into a new case where a mother has been decapitated and her son has disappeared. The husband is charged for his wife’s murder and questioned over his little boy’s whereabouts but it is not until Colomba starts to investigate further and finds strange parallels with an abduction case twenty-five years previously. The victim in this case, Dante Torre is also psychologically scarred from the years he spent in captivity but as soon as he learns that The Father may once again be active and abducting children, he works tirelessly alongside Colomba, both using their individual specialist knowledge and personal experiences to bring the perpetrator to justice.

There are so many positive things to take away from this book and that’s why I’m wondering if it’s simply a case of wrong person reading it, not necessarily bad book. The characters are magnificent, especially our female lead who is just the right mixture of flawed and fragile but beautifully committed and hell-bent on getting the right result. However, I may have had to suspend my disbelief slightly too much on whether Dante as a civilian would be allowed that much access to a case such as this, especially as he was directly involved with the perp and considering how psychologically damaged he was from both his past traumatic experience and his daily struggles as he works on the case in the present time. I mean, would you really put someone through hell with the constant risk of coming face to face once more with a person who stole eleven years of your life? I mean, really?

If you can get over this however, the thrills don’t stop coming. This is an incredibly fast-paced book where the action doesn’t seem to let up, not even for a second and I have to admit at points I did find myself gripped, wanting to know what would happen next. Then there’s the other points where it all just seems a bit too crazy and chaotic, too much of a whirlwind of information and plot twists and endless questions to the point where it left me feeling quite exhausted just trying to keep up with it all. I have to say again with the suspension of disbelief, I couldn’t quite bring myself to believe the reasons behind why The Father was doing what he was doing. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of mystery and a juicy motive to get my teeth into but it has to be credible and I have to think: “Yes, that could happen.” Unfortunately, there was too much to try and understand and the validity of the story just didn’t ring true for me personally speaking. However, I can’t fault the brilliance of the characterisation and the general pacing of the novel which was excellent.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

Talking About The Betrayals by Fiona Neill with Chrissi Reads

Published September 21, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

When Rosie Rankin’s best friend has an affair with her husband, the consequences reverberate down through the lives of two families.

Relationships are torn apart. Friendships shattered. And childish innocence destroyed.

Her daughter Daisy’s fragile hold on reality begins to unravel when a letter arrives that opens up all the old wounds. Rosie’s teenage son Max blames himself for everything which happened that long hot summer. And her brittle ex-husband Nick has his own version of events.

As long-repressed memories bubble to the surface, the past has never seemed more present and the truth more murky.

Sometimes there are four sides to every story.

Who do you believe?

Told through the eyes of four members of the same family, The Betrayals takes an unflinching look at contemporary family life, explores the nature of memory and desire and asks whether some things can ever be forgiven.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: Had you heard of the author before reading this book?
BETH: I have to be honest and say no, I hadn’t. Looking at the author’s back-list of books however, the cover of The Good Girl does ring a few bells so perhaps I had seen it around when it was released. I’m really pleased that Richard and Judy picked this book for their book club here in the UK as it’s definitely brought an author to my attention that I wasn’t really aware of before.
BETH: Were you aware while reading that some characters’ narratives were unreliable? If so, at what point did you start to realise this? Why do you think people mis-remember significant events?
CHRISSI: It took me a while to realise this. I think it was about half way through when I started to question every character. I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when I thought ‘Hmmm…’ but I started to become uncomfortable with some of the characters throughout the novel and as the intensity built. I think it’s interesting that people do mis-remember significant events. Perhaps we build things up in our memory or remember the parts of it that we want to, meaning that sometimes we mis-remember the parts we don’t want to remember fondly! Memory is such a strange thing to me. I can’t explain it!
CHRISSI: This is part thriller, part family drama. Explore the family relationships in the novel.
BETH: I loved the mixture of thriller and drama in this novel. Throughout it all, there’s this element of mystery and unreliable narrators (which I always adore!). The relationships are particularly fraught in this story for a variety of reasons but mainly due to the divorce between Rosie and Nick which affect both their children, Daisy and Max in different ways. Daisy and Max blame their father for what has happened and this affects their relationship with him in the present time and especially with his new fiancee, Lisa. There are so many other relationships to be explored in this novel though. We also have the relationship of Lisa with her children and her ex husband Barney which is very fragile and the relationship between the siblings and step-siblings which is difficult because of Daisy’s OCD and events that have happened between the four children in the past when Rosie and Nick were still a couple.
BETH: The strongest bond in this novel is the bond between Daisy and Max rather than between the children and their parents. Why do you think this is?
CHRISSI: I think Daisy and Max are always there for each other from their childhood. They had such a strong bond. Daisy became reliant on Max when she was completing her OCD rituals. Daisy and Max stick together despite their parent’s relationship falling apart around them. I saw Daisy and Max as a team, despite Max being frustrated by Daisy’s OCD. Max felt guilt for something he had done to Daisy and I think his guilt made him want to be there for her in later years.
CHRISSI: Discuss the portrayal of Daisy’s OCD in the novel.
BETH: It’s great to see any portrayal of mental health in novels and making sufferers feel that they are not alone is so vitally important. I am not a sufferer myself but I thought the OCD was portrayed really well and quite sensitively and it certainly made me feel more sympathetic to those people that have no choice but to live with the condition. It also taught me things I hadn’t been previously aware of like its effect on other people around the sufferer and how it can have knock on effects on health, memory etc.
BETH: Who betrays who in this novel? In your opinion which is the worst betrayal?
CHRISSI: Goodness, it’s more like who doesn’t betray in this novel! I’m actually torn between the worst betrayal. I hate when best friend’s betray, I hate when partner’s betray… basically none of it sits right with me. I actually found Nick’s betrayal to be the most heartbreaking. He lets down his wife and his children. 😦 Bad times!
CHRISSI: I found myself disappointed by the ending. Without spoilers, what did you make of the ending?
BETH: I think I texted you ARRRGH at the time of reading it? Yes, that’s exactly how I felt. I had thoroughly enjoyed the story from the very first page and perhaps my expectations were a bit high but I wasn’t entirely happy with how open ended and unresolved the ending felt to me. I understand that maybe the author wanted us to make up our own minds about what happens next and sometimes I love this in novels but in this story, it felt frustrating and I was desperate to know what happened next.
BETH: Would you read another book by this author?
CHRISSI: I would! Even though I was SUPER frustrated by the ending. It had gripped me from the start and then I was annoyed by the unresolved, open ending. Others I’m sure would love it though!
Would WE recommend it?:
BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Yes!
BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):
 four-stars_0
CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):
 3-5-stars

Talking About Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land with Chrissi Reads

Published September 2, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: I started this book a bit before you and told you how disturbing it was. Did you agree with my initial impression? What were your first impressions?

BETH: It was quite funny in a way. You started reading it and then texted me just two words – “Woah dude.” Then I got to the exact same point in the book that you did and texted you exactly the same thing! I know we usually hate comparisons and like that a book should stand on its own but as you said to me, this was one of the most disturbing things I’ve read since Gone Girl, I think. Obviously I don’t want to go into too many details for fear of spoilers but this novel is a lot darker, a lot twistier and more warped than I could have ever expected. You would think I might be expecting this if you read the synopsis? No, I wasn’t prepared for how “wrong,” it was going to get.

BETH: What did you think of the character of Phoebe? Could you sympathise with her at all?

CHRISSI: It’s an interesting question as Phoebe is such a complex character. I felt sorry for her because her home life was pretty horrific. Her mother didn’t have a great bond with her and she was feeling left out when Milly was getting a lot of attention from Phoebe’s parents. That can’t be nice. Especially when Phoebe’s mum gave Milly a gift that Phoebe thought was a precious thing between Phoebe and her mother. However, I didn’t feel comfortable with the bullying that Phoebe and her friends were inflicting upon Milly. Bullying should never be excused in my eyes!

CHRISSI: Ali Land is a Child and Adolescent Mental Health nurse – how do you think this affects the way she has written this novel?

BETH: I think it’s given her a perfect insight into mental illness in children, to be honest. She’s probably seen and experienced some things in her career and understands how a child may view a certain situation, what they might do and what kinds of emotions they might be experiencing as a result. Because of this, the novel came across as very authentic to me and as I mentioned before, I certainly wasn’t prepared for the directions the author took with the story.

BETH: Milly has to give evidence in a court in front of her mother – how do you think this was handled in the novel?

CHRISSI: I thought this was dealt with really well in the novel. Milly wanted to be there in court and this wasn’t disregarded because it was too tough for her. The adults around Milly seemed to listen to her. I also enjoyed how the court scenes were written. I loved how Milly’s mother’s presence was so strong in the novel. It was almost creepy. She felt like an incredibly evil character (what she did was awful!) and her little movements mentioned in the court scene made my skin crawl. I loved how the author made us feel her presence in court (despite Milly not physically seeing her) and how much Milly was aware of it.

CHRISSI: What does this story tell us about the question of nature vs nurture?

BETH: As a scientist (by day!) I probably could have a very scientific answer for you… 😝 but to be honest, I think the book explores both aspects. Is it the genes within us that programme us to be what we are and how we react to certain situations? Or is it the environment outside i.e. how we are brought up, who we interact with that determines our behaviour and actions. If I’m fair, poor Milly didn’t have much of a choice either way considering she was brought up with a serial killer for a mother. It’s how she responds when taken out of that situation however that gets very interesting.

BETH: How would you describe the relationship between Milly and her mother?

CHRISSI: In two words… incredibly unhealthy! I felt like Milly constantly struggled with the feelings towards her mother. It says it all really in the title ‘Good Me, Bad Me.’ Milly was so aware of what was right and wrong. She knew what her mother had done was wrong, yet she still felt a strong pull towards her, despite all of the awful things that had happened to her. Milly really was messed up by her mother and understandably so. Their relationship was toxic. Milly’s mother ‘training’ her daughter for such awful things…

CHRISSI: How does this book compare to others in its heavily populated genre?

BETH: I was a huge fan of this book. I think it stands heads and shoulders above quite a few books in the genre. I don’t know if it’s the writing style, the subject matter or the fact that the author isn’t afraid to go to incredibly dark places but I loved what she did with the story and even though it made me feel intensely uncomfortable and disgusted it was an unforgettable reading experience.

BETH: Would you read another novel by this author?

CHRISSI: I really would! This is such a promising debut novel. I loved how Ali Land didn’t shy away from such an uncomfortable topic.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Without a doubt!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

 

Talking About Cartes Postales From Greece by Victoria Hislop with Chrissi Reads

Published August 24, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

Cartes Postales from Greece is an extraordinary new book from Victoria Hislop, the Sunday Times Number One bestselling author of The Island, The Return, The Thread, and The Sunrise. It is fiction in full colour – magical and unique.

‘Hislop’s passionate love of the country breathes from every page’ Daily Mail

Week after week, the postcards arrive, addressed to a name Ellie does not know, with no return address, each signed with an initial: A.

With their bright skies, blue seas and alluring images of Greece, these cartes postales brighten her life. After six months, to her disappointment, they cease. But the montage she has created on the wall of her flat has cast a spell. She must see this country for herself.

On the morning Ellie leaves for Athens, a notebook arrives. Its pages tell the story of a man’s odyssey through Greece. Moving, surprising and sometimes dark, A‘s tale unfolds with the discovery not only of a culture but also of a desire to live life to the full once more.

Beloved, bestselling author Victoria Hislop’s Cartes Postales from Greece is fiction illustrated with photographs that make this journey around Greece, already alive in the imagination, linger forever in the mind.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: Discuss the structure that Victoria Hislop uses to tell her story.

BETH: I loved the way in which this story was structured. First of all, the author uses photographs of places/people in Greece to illustrate a particular point in the narrative (and I always enjoy seeing something a bit different in a book – illustrations/photographs/emails/letters always welcome!). Not only this but as our male character A is travelling through Greece he comes across a host of different people along the way, all of whom tell him a little story as he passes through. Each of these stories is reproduced like a short story through the novel. This was a great reading experience as you could read it as a whole or read it in little portions i.e. one short story at a time.

BETH: Do you think the inclusion of photographs in a work of fiction changes your reading experience?

CHRISSI: I think the inclusion of photographs does change your reading experience. Having a photograph or a picture of some sort gives you an exact picture of what the author is portraying. Without photographs, it’s left to your imagination which can be very different. Photographs are specific and allow the author to show the reader what they really want them to see.

CHRISSI: How do we learn about A’s character through the notebook?

BETH: To be honest, I don’t think we got to learn a huge amount about A’s character through the novel. We do see the growth he goes through as a person after experiencing heart-break but I think we learn more about Greece as a country and the people that live there rather than about A directly. That was just my personal opinion of it and I felt a bit detached from him as a character because of this.

BETH: How do you think Ellie changed as a person through reading A’s postcards/journal?

CHRISSI: I think Ellie really changed as a person throughout her experience of A’s postcards/journal. She is inspired by his postcards to travel to Greece on her own. The postcards encouraged Ellie to travel and become independent. I believe they changed the direction her life was going and gave her confidence to change her path in life!

CHRISSI: You enjoy reading short stories. What did you make of Victoria Hislop’s inclusion of short stories within this book?

BETH: I certainly do and I loved the addition of short stories in this novel. It made it something quite unique and enjoyable and I loved how each short story stood on its own. Some were a little darker than others, some had a moral tale to tell but I thought it gave a beautiful picture of what Greece was like and it really made me want to visit!

BETH: Which short story stood out the most for you in this novel and why?

CHRISSI: I can’t say one in particular stood out for me. I liked how all of the stories had a message they brought with them. I read them as individual stories and appreciated them for what they were. I’m not the biggest fan of short stories, but I enjoyed these because I felt they let me get to know Greece a little bit more as someone who has never visited (but wants to!) I enjoyed reading about Greek culture, religion and lots more besides through the stories.

CHRISSI: We’ve both read a few of Victoria Hislop’s books now. Was this book what you expected from Victoria?

BETH: Yes, I think so! If I had to compare it with one of my favourite books of hers, The Thread (which I read in my pre blogging days) I have to say I think I prefer The Thread but I still think that its a quick and enjoyable read. I’m still thinking about a couple of the short stories today so they must have had an effect on me! My only criticism is that I don’t think the characters were as well developed as I would have liked. Saying this though, the short stories were brilliant and they made up for any flaws or lack of connection I felt with the characters

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would. I enjoy Victoria Hislop’s writing when I read it but sometimes I find her books a little heavy going.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art