Month: February 2016

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam (4/5)

Posted February 28, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam (4/5)Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam
Published by HarperCollins UK on November 19th 2015
Genres: Fiction, General
Pages: 400
Format: ARC, Paperback
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Big Fish meets The Notebook in this emotionally evocative story about a man, a woman, and an alligator that is a moving tribute to love, from the author of the award-winning memoir Rocket Boys—the basis of the movie October Sky.
Elsie Lavender and Homer Hickam (the father of the author) were high school classmates in the West Virginia coalfields, graduating just as the Great Depression began. When Homer asked for her hand, Elsie instead headed to Orlando where she sparked with a dancing actor named Buddy Ebsen (yes, that Buddy Ebsen). But when Buddy headed for New York, Elsie’s dreams of a life with him were crushed and eventually she found herself back in the coalfields, married to Homer.
Unfulfilled as a miner’s wife, Elsie was reminded of her carefree days with Buddy every day because of his unusual wedding gift: an alligator named Albert she raised in the only bathroom in the house. When Albert scared Homer by grabbing his pants, he gave Elsie an ultimatum: “Me or that alligator!” After giving it some thought, Elsie concluded there was only one thing to do: Carry Albert home.
Carrying Albert Home is the funny, sweet, and sometimes tragic tale of a young couple and a special alligator on a crazy 1000-mile adventure. Told with the warmth and down-home charm that made Rocket Boys/October Sky a beloved bestseller, Homer Hickam’s rollicking tale is ultimately a testament to that strange and marvelous emotion we inadequately call love.

This is a fun read. It’s based on a “family fable” so you’re not quite sure what’s real and what isn’t – however the overall story is charming and believable, and you really end up rooting for Homer and Elsie.

(I also defy anyone to read this book and not wish they had a pet alligator! … Practicalities aside, naturally.)

The story follows Homer and Elsie on a road trip across the southern USA in the middle of the depression in order to re-home “Albert”, Elsie’s pet alligator, in Florida. Along the way they meet a whole host of interesting characters and have a barrel full of adventures.

This is a fun, light-hearted book. It’s not a difficult read and it’s perfect as a “pick me up” for anyone who needs a little bit of comfort. It’s a bit like a “hot chocolate in front of a fire under a warm blanket on a rainy day” kind of book.


Too Good to be True by Ann Cleeves (3/5)

Posted February 27, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Too Good to be True by Ann Cleeves (3/5)Too Good To Be True (Shetland Island, #6.2) by Ann Cleeves
Published by Pan on February 4th 2016
Genres: Crime, Fiction
Pages: 112
Format: Kindle
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Too Good To Be True is a gripping Quick Read from Ann Cleeves, featuring Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez from the bestselling Shetland series.
When young teacher Anna Blackwell is found dead in her home, the police think her death was suicide or a tragic accident. After all, Stonebridge is a quiet country village in the Scottish Borders, where murders just don't happen.
But Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez soon arrives from far-away Shetland when his ex-wife, Sarah, asks him to look into the case. The local gossips are saying that her new husband, Tom, was having an affair with Anna. Could Tom have been involved with her death? Sarah refuses to believe it - but needs proof.
Anna had been a teacher. She must have loved kids. Would she kill herself knowing there was nobody to look after her daughter? She had seemed happier than ever before she died. And to Perez, this suggests not suicide, but murder . .

I usually enjoy Ann Cleeves’ books, so when I spotted this new release coming up, I pre-ordered it from Amazon. It’s part of the “Quick Reads” novella series, and at 112 pages it’s certainly that! However this means it loses a lot of the usual charm and subtlety of Cleeves’ usual Perez novels.

The whole premise is a bit unlikely too. An out-of-town policeman who is called by his ex-wife to solve a potential crime that local police have labelled as a suicide. He doesn’t bring anything new to the case, but yet still manages to solve it in a couple of days.

It’s not the best example of Cleeves’ work. The Shetland books are well worth reading, and while this is OK, I’m not sure I would buy another “Quick Reads” as ultimately it’s just too unsatisfactory.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris (4/5)

Posted February 26, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris (4/5)Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Published by MIRA on February 11th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Thrillers
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle
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The 2016 debut bloggers can't stop raving about. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and The Ice Twins
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace.
He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do. Though, you’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.
Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.
Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

Grace and Jack seem to be the couple who have it all. But what really goes on behind closed doors?

I had heard good things about this book, so decided to pick it up on a whim (it’s currently 99p in the Amazon Kindle store). Maybe it’s because I’m having a very mediocre month when it comes to books (or maybe because I’m still laid up with a broken ankle) – but I thought this was a great read.

It’s fast paced with good characters. The situation is a little unbelievable, but then again with most psychological thrillers there is some element of suspending belief. It’s not in the least bit gory, but it’s still a fantastic thriller that keeps you guessing right to the end.

The ending was a little soft for my liking, but otherwise I really enjoyed this. 4 stars and definitely recommended!

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (2/5)

Posted February 25, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (2/5)Me Before You (Me Before You, #1) by Jojo Moyes
Published by Michael Joseph (UK) on January 5th 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction
Pages: 481
Format: Paperback
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Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

I picked this up as it’s our Book Club’s book for our next meeting. It wasn’t until I was about a quarter of the way through I realised I had read it before.

I have to say I’m not the biggest fan of Jojo Moyes. I read Sheltering Rain in September last year and rated it a measly 1 out of 5. This book has fared slightly better, but even still it didn’t set my world on fire.

Call me cold hearted, but this book just didn’t do it for me. The characters are “OK”. The storyline is “OK”. The ending is “OK”. It didn’t grab me at all. Given the subject matter I was expecting it to be a lot more engaging and emotional than it was. In the end it was a middle-of-the-road, decidedly average chick lit read where the omnipresent good-looking love rival, just happens to be a quadriplegic.

Perfect Daughter by Amanda Prowse (2/5)

Posted February 22, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Perfect Daughter by Amanda Prowse (2/5)Perfect Daughter: The Perfect Summer Read (No Greater Courage) by Amanda Prowse
Published by Head of Zeus on February 1st 2016
Genres: Family Saga, Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: Kindle
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Wife. Mother. Daughter. What happens when it all becomes too much?
Jackie loves her family. Sure, her teenage children can be stroppy. Her husband a little lazy. And providing round-the-clock care for her Alzheimer's-ridden mother is exhausting. She's sacrificed a lot to provide this safe and loving home, in their cramped but cosy semi with a view of the sea.
All Jackie wants is for her children to have a brighter future than she did. So long as Martha, the eldest, gets into university and follows her dreams, all her sacrifice will be worth something... won't it?
Poppy Day, What Have I Done?, Clover's Child, A Little Love, Will You Remember Me?, Christmas for One.

This isn’t my usual kind of read at all. However I’m currently laid up with a broken ankle, and was looking for something easy to read through the drug and pain haze!

The most I can say about the book was it was OK. The main character, “Jacks” (urgh!) Morgan is a wife, mother and carer to her own elderly mother who is suffering from dementia. The relationship between “Jacks” (urgh!) and her mother was never on the best of terms even when she was little, so it’s surprising that “Jacks” (urgh!) takes such close care of her as she does. She has a husband who seems to barely lift a finger, and two children (10 and 18) who expect every little thing handed to them. Then “Jacks” (urgh!) complains that she’s tired and run down. I can’t help but think if she wasn’t such a doormat then things could be a whole lot better for her!

There’s a very odd side-story about a childhood sweetheart who makes a reappearance, which didn’t really add anything to the story. There were also a couple of “secrets” which became quite obvious as the book went on and which I was just relieved when they were revealed.

There really isn’t a lot to this book. It’s fine for what it is – but I don’t think I’ll be picking up any more in this series. Besides which, the name “Jacks” (urgh!) just grated every single time I read it!!

Out of Sorts by Aurélie Valognes (3/5)

Posted February 21, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Out of Sorts by Aurélie Valognes (3/5)Out of Sorts by Aurélie Valognes, Wendeline A. Hardenberg
Published by AmazonCrossing on January 1st 2016
Genres: Fiction, General
Pages: 202
Format: Kindle
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Ferdinand Brun hasn’t always been a grumpy old man. Many years ago, he was a grumpy young man. Now he’d much rather spend time with his canine companion, Daisy, than any of his nosy neighbors. But as his behavior becomes increasingly peculiar, his daughter grows concerned and begins to consider moving him into a retirement home.
In order to maintain his freedom, Ferdinand must submit to an apartment inspection by his longtime enemy, the iron-fisted concierge, Mrs. Suarez. Unfortunately, he’s never tidied up a day in his life. His neighbors, precocious ten-year-old Juliette and vivacious ninety-two-year-old Beatrice, come to the rescue. And once he lets these two into his life, things will never be the same. After an eighty-three-year reign of grouchiness, Ferdinand may finally learn that it’s never too late to start living.

This is a really sweet, quick read. Ferdinand Brun lives with his beloved dog, Daisy, in an apartment complex. He is a grumpy old man, who’s in constant battle with the building’s concierge, Mrs Suarez. When Ferdinand is threatened with being put into an old people’s home by his daughter, he decides to clean up his act (literally and figuratively) and ends up befriending a 10 year old girl who lives in the apartment upstairs, and a nonagenarian who lives in the apartment opposite. Ferdinand’s life soon turns round with the help of these two, but will it be enough to stop his daughter shipping him off to the place he dreads most?

This is a charming book. The main character is everything a “grumpy old man” should be – and while he’s not altogether likeable, there is a charm about him. The writing is stilted at times, but the book was originally written in French and translated into English, so maybe that’s why. Overall, however, it’s a charming read, and a quick one at just 200 pages.

Disclaimer by Renée Knight (2½/5)

Posted February 19, 2016 by Babs in Book Review / 0 Comments
Disclaimer by Renée Knight (2½/5)

This is yet another book marketed with a comparison to Gone Girl – something which is getting rather tiresome now, I have to say. That said, this is a decent psychological thriller. It’s all about unearthing secrets in the past, although Catherine doesn’t know how anyone knows her secret as she didn’t tell anyone. As the secret […]

Author Interview: Catherine Webb

Posted February 17, 2016 by Babs in Author Interviews / 0 Comments
Author Interview: Catherine Webb

Catherine’s first novel, Mirror Dreams, was completed when she was just 14 years old. The book was published in 2002 and garnered comparisons with Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman. Webb went on to publish a further seven young adult novels under her own name, earning her extensive critical acclaim and two Carnegie nominations for her […]

The Versions of Us by Laura Bennett (2/5)

Posted February 11, 2016 by Babs in Book Review / 0 Comments
The Versions of Us by Laura Bennett (2/5)

I really liked the idea of this book. The “what if” scenario that I’m sure most of us think about at one time or another. (I also admit that Sliding Doors is one of my guilty pleasures!). However the main problem with this book is that it is such hard work! There are three different scenarios between […]

Pop Goes the Weasel by M.J. Arlidge (DNF)

Posted February 2, 2016 by Babs in Book Review / 0 Comments
Pop Goes the Weasel by M.J. Arlidge (DNF)

Last year I read Eeny Meeny by M.J Arlidge and absolutely loved it! I rated it 4½ stars and rushed out to buy the next 3 books in the series, ready to be all up-to-date for the fifth in the series which is released later this year. After a disappointing January, I decided to pick up this […]