Posts Tagged With: love

She Tells All by Judah Lee Davis

Title: She Tells All

Author: Judah Lee Davis

ISBN: 978-1453687123

Publisher: Createspace (self published)

First Published: 2010

Paperback: 228 pages

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:
Sometimes to get to heaven, you gotta go through hell…

From her unhealthy obsession with stilettos to her weakness for Latin lovers, Madison Miller is a far cry from the church girl her Momma always wanted her to be.

She desperately tried to be good, but every time, she ends up between the sheets or in the back of somebody’s car. Finally, tragedy strikes and Madison is forced to learn some hard lessons about life, love, God, and why you should never spend the night with strangers.

Review:
Self-published novels often get looked down upon by the “why couldn’t they get published by a real publisher” brigade, but every now and then, you get a little gem that sparkles and stands out from the rubble, refusing to be tarred with that brush. This is one of them.

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this novel was to read. Although it chronicles Madison’s sexploits, explicit detail doesn’t usually play much of a part in the proceedings, which is a welcome relief, given the amount of shenanigans she gets up to! It’s a nice change to have a promiscuous “heroine” who doesn’t feel the need to “drop the f-bomb” (as she calls it) every five seconds and although many of her activities are explicit, the author leaves much to the imagination, giving only the bare essentials in the sex scenes.

Madison is a very likeable character. She is obviously a little troubled and has terrible taste in men, but once again, the Davis bucks the trend and refuses to give Madison all the good looking charmers – she’s a regular chick and the guys she sleeps with are regular Joes too – some better (or worse) than others. And she’s such a caring person, constantly trying to help people and do the right thing, that you desperately want things to work out for her.

This is a very quick read, but an enjoyable one. And yes, I actually shed a few tears near the end which was handled in a tactful and sweet manner. Madison’s journey through slutdom to finding herself and keeping her faith is worth picking up if you like inspirations tales with believably normal characters.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Clare first meets Henry when she is 6 and he is 36.  But Henry is no normal man, and due to his chrono-displacement condition (in short, he involuntarily time-travels), he is able to marry Clare when he is 30 and she is 22.

Their love is enduring and strong, but due to Henry’s disappearances to other times – which he is unable to control – it means that they have to adjust to a life where Clare often doesn’t know where, or even when, Henry is.

Their life together is therefore sometimes difficult but (nearly) always wonderful.  Henry has met Clare when she was a little girl and has effectively watched her grow up while all the time knowing that they will fall in love and marry.  However, while Clare can remember these meetings, Henry (when he is in ‘real’ time) can’t remember them, because they involve time traveling expeditions that haven’t happened yet – even though in one way they have already happened.

Sounds confusing, but it isn’t.  Audrey Niffenegger makes this story ebb and flow beautifully, and it is always easy for the reader (if not the characters) to understand what is happening.

I loved the character of Henry.  Rather than making him a tragic yet supremely heroic man, he is portrayed as a man who through necessity, often indulges in theft, burglary and violence (the first two out of necessity – wherever Henry travels to, he always arrives naked and without provisions; and the third in self defence when he has arrived somewhere in said naked state).  This serves to make him more believable.  Clare was somewhat less of a fully rounded character, but she was certainly realistic enough to be believable, and for the reader to care about.

Where Audrey Niffenegger has really triumphed though, is in making an outlandish plot seem credible.  I absolutely do not believe in time travel, and yet for the duration of this book, I found myself totally buying into the concept.  It helps that other characters in the book are as amazed by Henry’s predicament as you would expect anybody to be.

This is an original and compelling love story, between two characters who I really found myself rooting for.  But it’s not all hearts and flowers.  Clare and Henry suffer a lot of pain and heartbreak during their life, but while their time together is unpredictable and inconstant, their love certainly isn’t.  I will be nagging friends to read this book, and will certainly be reading it again myself in the future.

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A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Housseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Housseini

Bloomsbury 2007

Synopisis (taken from back of book):  “A Thousand Splendid Suns is an unforgettable portrait of a wounded country and a deeply moving story of family friendship. It is a beautiful, heart wrenching story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely bond and an indestructable love.”

Review: This is a fantastic, heartbreaking, moving and informative story of life in Afghanistan from the mid 1900s up to the present and includes the effects of the Taliban rule, epsecially on the streets of Kabul.

I fear my review will not do this book the justice it deserves. The story centres on a young girl called Mariam who starts life in rural Afghanistan living with her mother, who was one of her father’s ‘accidental conquests’ and consequently rejected from his family. As a teenager, Mariam’s desire to get to know her father triggers tragedy and before she knows it she is being sent to the city of Kabul and forced into an arranged marriage with a man thirty years her senior. She is young, naive and vulnerable and we learn about the strict regimes of the Islamic religion along with the build up to the Taliban rule.

Two decades later Mariam and her husband take in fifteen year old Laila, no stranger to tragedy herself, homeless, orphaned and heartbroken. Laila and Mariam have a shaky start to thier relationship but over time become as close as mother and daughter. They are living through wartime in Kabul, in a tiny poky house as wives of an old man they both grow to despise for differing reasons. “Life is a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear,” but thier strength of bond enables them to triumph over this. It does however involve sacrifices and danger.

This book taught me a lot about ‘the other side’ of the war in Afghanistan, how it is for the residents of Kabul. I also learned about the Islamic religion and thier beliefs and realised just how naive I myself am about other cultures. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a complicated read – being eight months pregnant and with a toddler I am am hardly fit for heavy going reads at the moment (!). Housseini writes clearly enough to make his work not complicated.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is hard to put down and not easily forgotten. I cannot emphasise enough how well written it is and how much I would recommend it.

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While My Sister Sleeps – Barbara Delinsky

While My Sister Sleeps

 Barbara Delinsky

Harper Collins 2009

Synopsis:

When a woman in her early thirties, oldest of three siblings and a famous successful runner, has a heart attack that leaves her brain-dead and on life support, her family has to make the painful decision of when to pull the plug. Her mother Kathryn is devastated. She cannot accept the truth of Robin’s condition. Molly, Robin’s little sister has grown up in her shadow. But as the family starts to disintegrate she has to become Robin’s voice and in doing so finds her own. Robin’s father lives for his family, and defers to them rather than voicing his own opinion. The book focuses on the definition of ‘brain-dead’ and the religious and moral issues of the right to life.

 Review:

Robin Snow is an Olympic hopeful and potential – she is in the prime of her life, running marathons and races, fully fighting fit when she is suddenly struck down by a heart attack, declared brain dead and on life support.

Her family are understandably devastated – even her younger sister Molly who had growing resentments to being Robin’s training assistant. Her mother Kathryn is losing her firstborn child and cannot bring herself to let her go. Her father is in shock and leaves the decision making to his wife. Her brother Chris has marriage problems and a young daughter, and now has to come to terms with this. On top of all that there is the family run business to keep going, Molly’s threatening eviction, an obsessed journalist ex boyfriend of Robin’s to contend with, Kathryn’s mother’s Alzhiemers disease and a few family secrets that soon come to light.

Although the plot of this book has an inevitable outcome, Delinsky introduces new ‘by-lines’ to make the story more interesting and intriguing – Robin’s true feelings about her mother, her sister and her career discovered through her journals, Molly’s relationship with the man who found Robin collapsed, Chris’ marriage problems and lack of confidence, Kathryn and her husband’s painful family secret, Molly’s relationship with her ailing grandmother, Kathryn’s acceptance of her daughter’s death and subsequent wishes. These keep the storyline going along and make the reader want to continue.

Molly is the main focus of the book, how she lived in the shadow of her famous sister, how she quietly excels at her job, how different she is to her sister and how she competes for her mother’s attention knowing she is not the favourite daughter. Through this family crisis Molly finds her voice, finds out just how much her family do love her, particularly her sister, and learns a lot about herself. She becomes Robins ‘voice’ and helps steer her mother to making the right decisions.

The ending felt quick, a bit left up in the air but maybe that shows how involved I got with the family and the story – a compliment to the writing.

While My Sister Sleeps is an emotional book in which the characters learn more about themselves and their own family – constantly asking who am I, what do I really think…..? It is a story about a family coming to terms with one of the worst things that could ever happen to them and again makes the reader ask their own moral questions about life.

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Speaking of Love by Angela Young

speaking of love

Synopsis from Beautiful Books:

When human beings don’t talk about love, things go wrong.

If a mother had told her daughter that she loved her, they might not have spent years apart. If a man had found the courage to tell a woman that he loved her she might never have married another man. And if a father had told his daughter that he loved her when her mother died, she might not have suffered the breakdown that caused the rift with her own daughter.

But if you are born into a family that never talks about love, how do you learn to say the words?

SPEAKING of LOVE is a novel about what happens when people who love each other don’t say so. It deals passionately and honestly with human breakdown. And it tells of our need for stories and how stories can help make sense of the random nature of life.

This is Young’s first novel, and in my opinion it is a success. The book follows three people: Iris, Vivie and Matthew. Iris is Vivie’s mother and suffers from mental health issues and suffers a devastating break down. Vivie is only young when this happens and it emotionally scars to the point she feels like her life is collapsing around her. Matthew is a few years older than Vivie and they grew up as next door neighbours. Matthew is in love with Vivie but cannot tells her how he feels. In fact, none of them can voice their feelings; leading to heartbreak and separation. But in a special twist of fate, a storytelling event where Iris is speaking brings all of them together…will feelings be voiced and hurts mended?

This was a beautiful book. It took a little while to get going, and to be honest I did think about stopping reading it; however I am so glad I pushed on. As the story unfolds it is gripping and real. I would not class this as chick-lit or romance fiction because the main theme alongside love is mental health. Most of the consequences in the book arise from Iris’ illness and Young honestly explores therepercussion of being so ill and having a breakdown.

One aspect I really enjoyed was the fact Iris was a story teller. Not just that but some of her stories are published in the book, and they were lovely to read.

The book flits between Iris, Vivie and Matthew; and it flows easily between the three. Alongside that, they all slip into memories gracefully and this explains how they were feeling, recalls events that changed their lives and gives an insight into Iris’ illness.

This is not a fast read, however it is a wonderful book and I recommend it for everyone.

8/10

Published by: Beautiful Books

RRP: £7.99

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Love Begins in Winter by Simon van Booy

love begins in winter

Synopsis from www.harpercollins.com:

On the verge of giving up—anchored to dreams that never came true and to people who have long since disappeared from their lives—Van Booy’s characters walk the streets of these stark and beautiful stories until chance meetings with strangers force them to face responsibility for lives they thought had continued on without them.

This book contains five short stories. In all of them the protagonist is lost and looking for love. They all find it, but the journey each take are individual and life-changing. The characters are all likeable, and you find yourself wanting the best for them. The outcomes are not always as you expect, but that just adds to the joy of this book.

This is a beautiful book. Everything from the cover design to the stories is just gorgeous. Van Booy explores the power of children, growing up and the power music can have. The sentences are short but the stories just flow from the pages. It is a quick read, gripping and thrilling. This is a real page-turner. As I sit writing this I can’t think of a bad thing to say about this book. I was hooked right from the beginning. All five stories are different but with one theme: love. This is an uplifting book, and I highly recommend it.

10/10

Published by: Beautiful Books

RRP: £7.99

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Dying Unfinished by Maria Espinosa

dying unfinished

Synopsis taken from information given to: http://www.bookclubforum.co.uk

Using her own love-rage relationship with her mom as a catalyst, American Book Award winner Maria Espinosa weaves fact and fiction in her latest highly acclaimed novel Dying Unfinished. A novelist, poet, translator, and teacher, who has been reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, New York Review of Books, and The San Francisco Chronicle, Maria is featured in the Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series. This latest book is the follow-up to her critically acclaimed novel Longing.

“Dying Unfinished is a lyrical novel that takes place over three generations and that reminds us of the arduousness, and even desolation, of love relationships-between husband and wife, spouse and lover, mother and daughter…”–Kirkus Reviews–

Dying Unfinished is about a mother and daughter’s difficult relationship made more so by the mother’s affair with her daughter’s husband. Narrated by both women this tumultuous story coincides with a 70 year period where the world under went massive change.

This story is about Eleanor and her daughter Rosa. Both have problems – Eleanor finds it difficult to communicate and there is a deep sadness in her, and Rosa has mental health problems. The book recalls events in both their lives – flashing from the present to the past. Eleanor remembering her childhood, searching for her identity and happiness, raising three children and trying to love Rosa. Rosa, struggling with her schizophrenia, trying to find her identity and trying to please her mother. The book is narrated by both Eleanor and Rosa, giving an insight into how each is feeling.

I am not sure what to write about this book. I didn’t really enjoy it but wanted to keep reading. There is a lot of sex in this book – Eleanor has many affairs, and is raped – but sex seems to be how she gets enjoyment and how she connects with people. Rosa has tremendous mood swings, also likes sex, has a little girl who helps her find herself and places all the blame for her struggles on Eleanor.

I’m not sure I had a favourite character. I don’t think I liked anyone in the book particularly. There were those I definitely did not like – such as Rosa’s abusive and manipulative husband, nor Aaron, Eleanor’s husband, an artist who seemed very self-involved – life had to revolve around him.

I didn’t feel there was particularly a story – just lots of memories and experiences. And I didn’t feel that anything was really resolved by the end of the book.

Overall, I wasn’t particularly happy reading this book, but was hooked anyway. I have come away unsatisfied.

5/10

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Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas

When 19 year old Ruby decides that she has had enough of her life in London, she runs away to her grandmother Iris’s home in Cairo.  As Ruby falls in love with Cairo, Iris is in ill health and fears that she is losing her memories of wartime Cairo and the soldier she fell in love with, who lost his life in World War II.  As we learn the story of Iris and Xan Molyneaux, we also see Ruby growing up, forming a relationship of her own and bonding with her grandmother.  

 

I really enjoyed this book.  As well as being a retrospective love story (which is wonderfully told), it is also a story of Ruby’s own journey from a troubled and thoughtless teenager, to an intelligent and compassionate young woman.  The story deals with love and heartbreak, fear and memory, and in particular, how the memory of one certain time in life, can affect all the times that come after it.

Cairo is vividly brought to life – both in the modern day and during World War II – and it was very easy to imagine how Ruby felt discovering the city for the first time.  Reading the book made me want to visit there myself.

Although the love story between Iris and Xan is passionate and beautifully told, it is never cheesy or overly sentimental.  

All of the characters were entirely believable – more so for not being perfect – and the writing is fantastic.  I am determined to seek out more by this author.

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My Best Friend’s Girl by Dorothy Koomson

my-best-friends-girl

my-best-friends-girl

Synopsis from Amazon:

What would you do for the friend who broke your heart? Best friends Kamryn Matika and Adele Brannon thought nothing could come between them – until Adele did the unthinkable and slept with Kamryn’s fiance, Nate. Worse still, she got pregnant and had his child. When Kamryn discovered the truth about their betrayal she vowed never to see any of them again. Two years later, Kamryn receives a letter from Adele asking her to visit her in hospital. Adele is dying and begs Kamryn to adopt her daughter, Tegan. With a great job and a hectic social life, the last thing Kamryn needs is a five year old to disrupt things. Especially not one who reminds her of Nate. But with no one else to take care of Tegan and Adele fading fast, does she have any other choice? So begins a difficult journey that leads Kamryn towards forgiveness, love, responsibility and, ultimately, a better understanding of herself.

Meet Ryn, an independent woman, who works long hours and parties hard. Living in Leeds, she tries to distance herself from her past and the life she could have had. Two years before she discovered her best friend Adele and her fiance Nate slept together – the result being Adele’s child Tegan. Swearing to never see or speak to either again, Ryn is shocked when she discovers a birthday card from Adele telling her she is dying. After rushing to London, she realises what Adele’s dying wish is – that Kamryn adopts Tegan. This completely changes her life. She tracks down Tegan at Adele’s father’s house, in a shocking state, and leaves with her. When Adele dies, Ryn faces a long struggle alone. She battles with adjusting her life, getting Tegan to trust her, grief, love, Nate and the issue of adoption.

This is the first Dorothy Koomson book I have read and I really enjoyed it. I was drawn in emotionally and didn’t want to put the book down. What Ryn did deserves a medal – she took in Tegan, having not seen her for two years, even though she reminded her of why she left London and why she hurt so much. I loved Tegan, what a beautiful little girl. My heart ached when we first met her and saw the abuse she had suffered, and when she cried for her Mum, yet she was a bubbly and warm girl who you couldn’t help but fall in love with.

There are so many issues in this book, and Koomson dealt with them all wonderfully. Death, child abuse, adoption, race and love. I didn’t feel let down by the way she wrote these issues, nor how the story turned out. I think Koomson did a superb job.

This is a heart-warming and touching book. I could have cried throughout the whole book. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

9/10

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Stick or Twist by Eleanor Moran

stick-or-twist

Synopsis from Google Books:

Name: Anna Christie
Age: Very, very early thirties
Marital status: Living with boyfriend
Sex: It’s been a while. Maybe six weeks?
Career: Crafting sparkling features for magazine Casual Chic such as ‘Man Boobs: Why No Marriage is Safe’
Current dilemma: What to do when your much loved boyfriend of ten years gets down on one knee and pops the question you’ve been secretly dreading?
Options: Stick – say yes, jump on the marriage bandwagon, accept that babies are now standard issue and always wonder if the grass is greener …
OR Twist – walk away, move onto your best friend’s sofa, pine for your ex but perk up once sexy and seemingly perfect Harry comes breezing into your life…
Hilarious, romantic and painfully honest, Stick or Twist proves that sometimes the most unlikely man turns out to be the One.

This is Eleanor Moran’s first novel, where she introduces us to Anna, a commitment-phobe 30-something, who runs when her boyfriend of 10 years proposes to her. She thinks she is clean and dry until her magazine asks her to prepare a piece on weddings. She is thrown into the deep end, planning a glitzy event, meeting couples about to tie the knot, and attempting to stay ahead of her colleague, who is all about marriage and babies. Through this event she meets Harry, a gorgeous photographer, several years her junior and tries a relationship with him while she attempts to piece her life together. However, she has told one-too-many lies and they all come out at once, leaving her once again scrabbling to pick up the pieces. She forms unlikely friendships and finds love with an unlikely soul…

To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy this book. It was just mediocre chick-lit. It wasn’t particularly grabbing and fairly predictible. There wasn’t anything original or outstanding about the storyline, it was just another bog-standard female fiction book.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the characters. None of them held my interest, least of all Anna, who was just a compulsive liar. I didn’t really feel sympathy for her. In fact I didn’t feel sympathy for any of the characters.

I was glad when I had finished the book, purely because it was over. There really wasn’t anything special about the book, which is a shame. Although not a dire book, it just didn’t jump out and hold my attention.

6/10

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