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sharongoodwin77

Jera's Jamboree

I’m an avid reader, loving nothing more than expanding my microcosmic world. I enjoy escaping into all sorts of worlds through reading and also love to challenge my opinions and thoughts.

The Obsidian Mirror - Catherine Fisher AWESOME. So much is packed into The Obsidian Mirror - there is not one place where you can put it down because you just HAVE to keep reading.

Loved the merging of folklore and fantasy, time-travel (back to the past and a dystopian future)and the majority of characters are not what they seem.

Can't wait for The Box of Red Brocade to come out next week!

(I purchased this a long time ago and recently rediscovered it on my Kindle!)

Full review coming soon.

Stormbird - Conn Iggulden Interesting dreams while reading Stormbird!

Loved Derry (the King's spymaster - fictional) and his machinations.

Fabulous step back in history. I never tire of reading the same period as each author brings something different.

Full review coming soon.
New England Rocks - Christina Courtenay So easy to become engaged with this great story.

Main characters fabulous. Even though not a YA reader, identified with them. Rain sassy and independent but underneath vulnerable and loving. Jesse a crap background and when we meet him is mostly about status but he's amazing. Definitely new book boyfriend crush!

Can't wait to see how Raven's story unfolds.

Full review coming soon.
Kiera's Quest: Perceptions - Kristy Brown This series just gets better and better! I'm always a bit nervous with series as sometimes they just seem to go nowhere... not so Kiera's Quest.

Once again action packed. We're introduced to new species in this magical land. Characters we already know follow through and it's great to see their relationships growing and interweaving.

We find out a bit more about motivation too.

Can't wait for the next book.

Full review coming soon.

The House We Grew Up In - Lisa Jewell

The story of the complicated relationships of the Bird family is told with therapeutic emails from Lorelei (mother) to Bill in the not so distant past, the now … and with Easter being a key point in their lives, we go back to their childhood as they grow up at this time.  I enjoy stories structured in this way.  From each part we find out a bit more, the plot building and filling in the missing blanks as the three ‘sections’ weave in and out.

 

Before the tragedy occurs, we come to understand how one sibling Megan, is not so accommodating to mum Lorelei’s eccentricity or quite comfortable with one of her twin brothers.  Whilst others find Lorelei endearing, Megan is quite strident in speaking out.  Although it’s a reaction to Lorelei’s own childhood, it does become an illness and overtakes her life.  As we move through the story, Megan is a strong character, being a protector for her more vulnerable sister Beth and making her own way through life.  Although I loved all the characters, Megan is my favourite.

 

The tragedy affects the family in different ways.  Rory is angry, Lorelei pushes it away and doesn’t really accept it and Beth hides from life, using Megan’s life as a crutch.  Dad Colin is very much in the background until he makes a life-changing decision that overturns the whole family.

 

Despite the sadness and emotional trauma, the family are drawn back together as they clear the Bird house.  Are they able to forgive?  Love each other again? Accept each other?

 

The House We Grew Up In is a poignant read.  It tackles so many real life issues including those we don’t like to acknowledge.  The writing is beautiful, the pace just flows and will carry you along as you become involved in this one family’s life.  I recommend you add to your reading list.

 

I would like thank the publishers for accepting my request via Netgalley.

The Silent Tide - Rachel Hore

In the prologue, we’re with Isabel on the East Suffolk coast on 31 January 1953.  It’s one of the worst storms on record and as the North Sea floods over the marshland we witness a devastating flood scene.

 

Straight away I felt as if I was a part of the story.  The scene is so clearly portrayed.

 

Part One begins with Emily in present day Berkley Square in November waiting for her boyfriend.  She sees a mysterious woman and then finds that an old book by Hugh Morton is left for her.  This is the beginning of the clues left for her.

 

We’re then with Isabel in London in November 1948.  Isabel had fled to her aunt’s home in London, away from her family in Kent.

 

This is the structure of the story. Alternating chapters of present day with Emily following her own journey of being a part of the publishing world, her relationship with boyfriend Matthew and her involvement in Hugh Morton’s biography and the intrigue surrounding his first wife. In the past with Isabel we become a part of the life in the late 1940’s/early 1950’s and her time in the publishing world and her emotional life.

 

I have to admit I loved being in the past.  Everything feels very authentic.  Isabel is an independent woman who finds it difficult to settle into married life and motherhood.  Her life would have been much less traumatic had she lived in the present day!  It was easy to empathise with her as she tried to find her place.

 

I had guessed one thing about Isabel although hadn’t realised it was unintentional but had no idea about the other!  They are connected though – one leading to the other. Sorry to be so cryptic – no spoilers!

 

I understood Jacqueline but even so, she is the character I liked the least.

 

There’s intense emotion in Emily’s life too but this didn’t pull me in as much as Isabel did.  The intrigue with the clues leads her on and motivates her to find out the truth.  I enjoyed being a part of Matthew’s literary world and I liked the significance of the Valentine’s card!

 

The Silent Tide is an apt title in more ways than one…

 

I would like to thank the publishers for providing an uncorrected proof in exchange for an honest review.

Memory - Stadt der Träume - Christoph Marzi In the prologue, Jude meets Story. This is a very atmospheric scene.

Chapter One we get to know 17 year old Jude. He’s in an English lesson and a surprise A level assessment has been set for the class. They have to write an essay on ‘The world in which we live’. Jude is not writing. To him, death is more interesting than life and with his father away a lot working and with never having met his mum, he has the space to be a part of another level of society that most people can’t see. A ‘life’ that takes place at Highgate Cemetery. The teacher challenges him and we come to understand that Jude doesn’t follow rules or commands. Nobody understands him in school.

With the help of his ghost friends, Jude races against time to find out who Story is and what happened to her. (The ghosts also help him with his homework and have some great parties! Love the premise that ghosts are the dreams of the dead). It’s not all humorous though. When Jude and Story go to find The Loveless One at Abney Park Cemetery, there’s a scary/creepy scene with ‘the faceless ones’. Oh yes, and the stone angels … the Weeping Angels on Dr Who terrified me … the stone angels in Ghost are similar but you can’t BREATHE! Loved the scene in the crypt, it will give you goosebumps.

Quentin Gaskell (famous rockstar when he was alive) tells us the stories of the body snatchers so there’s also a bit of history linked in too.

Memory is a story about greed. There’s horror, humour and history. Alongside the paranormal, myths and the crime, there’s also the blossoming of young love. YA readers will enjoy how all the different threads tie together, making this an urban ghost story that engages your attention and makes you think ‘what if?’

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a proof copy in exchange for an honest review.
A Night on the Orient Express - Veronica Henry In the prologue, the train is silent and empty, waiting for its passengers. The passengers are waiting on the platform.

Next, we read an advert. A dating agency is running a competition to win a night on the Orient Express. We get to read the profiles of two people.

Before the journey, we spend time with our characters. Widow 84 year old Adele who sends her granddaughter, Imogen, on the mysterious errand; Imogen herself who has run the art gallery with her grandmother and is now at a crossroads; Riley, a photographer who is still in demand despite his age. He journeys on the Orient Express on the same date each year; Archie, a farmer, and his best friend Jay; Stephanie who has been in a relationship with Simon for three months and finding where she fits in the family with his two children, Beth and Jamie.

Amidst the opulence and pampering on the journey from Victoria to Calais, issues and conflict build but also new relationships are formed. At Calais, two more characters join in the journey. One expected and one a surprise for the woman waiting inside the train.

Venice works its magic on our characters with some very intense scenes.

The author’s descriptions of the Orient Express and Venice let my imagination believe I was there on the train and experiencing the beauty of Venice.

A Night on the Orient Express is beautifully written. I loved being involved in the lives of the characters. Through our characters we experience love in all its different hues. There’s passion, a soul bonding that could have been destructive; new love between younger characters; enduring love; the love for a best friend and familial love. There is just so much to hold your attention with real life issues. I love a book that engages the emotions totally and this really is an emotional ride (forgive the pun!).

This book slid into my online Tesco shop :)
Ceri's journey: Angels - Linn B. Halton Angels made great reading while travelling - the time just flew by!

Great characters, drama, surprise, emotion and of course the paranormal. We're left wanting more...a great cliffhanger!

Full review coming soon.
Sophie's Encore - Nicky Wells Here we are at the final book in the Rock Star trilogy. It is a sad moment for me!

I missed the chance of getting to know one character better because obviously, we weren’t going to go in that direction. However I didn’t realise how dramatic that would be!

We begin Sophie’s Encore with Soph and best friend Rachel on a Friday night in. Straight away we’re back into the bonds they have with each other and … a crisis!

Sophie is not letting go of what has happened in the intervening years. Dan is still a big part of Sophie’s life but in a very different role! With Josh starting at school and Emily starting at pre-school, the time has come for Sophie to get back out into the world.

Dan teaches her sound engineering and she’s taken on as Richard’s apprentice. Love the way she hears sound in colour! I’m going to try this the next time I get the opportunity to lose myself in music! I must admit that at one point I was getting anxious that Wells had got hung up on the musical aspect of the story but no, once we’re familiar with Sophie’s new occupation, it’s integrated with her life.

Dan’s hectic lifestyle of working and supporting Sophie causes a major crisis. One particular scene is full of angst and tension. I just wasn’t expecting this! Wells portrays this really well. It is obvious she has researched and the facts translate so well into the story during this trauma.

I thought that Josh and Emily’s characters truly enriched this final part of the trilogy with their reactions to experiences being so true to life.

Dan is still HOT and very desirable. Even more so now he has matured and has taken on a different role. He’s still a lot of fun! I wouldn’t mind spending Christmas with him …

The romance? I’m not going to say anything at all apart from my favourite part has to be while Sophie and her children are touring with Tuscq … and one particular scene had me in tears of joy. You’ll have to read the book to find out more!

I have to be honest and tell you that when I reached 95% I just couldn’t pick it up again. Why? Simple. I didn’t want the trilogy to end. I was putting off those final moments.

Romance, friendships, music, how children change your life, grief, learning to live again, illness, new locations and touring with a well-known rock band … what’s not to hold your attention? Wells does include information that the reader needs to know from the previous books but to get the whole picture, you really do need to start at the beginning to see how everything builds naturally to reach its final conclusion.

I would like to thank the author in providing an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton - Dr Diane Atkinson The prologue begins with a newspaper article from 25 June 1836 detailing the excitement that Caroline’s trial is causing. She was caught up in the politics of the day, her husband using her to try and oust Lord Melbourne. It seems bizarre with our modern day laws, that a husband would sue for damages (of almost a million pounds in today’s value) for the loss of his enjoyment of his wife’s body but in 1836, this was a very real law that affected real people’s lives. In the past, the men would have been able to sort their differences by duelling (it makes me think this would probably have been a far better way than everything being made so public) but having been outlawed in 1815, this was George’s only recourse.

In the account of the trial, we learn about the real people involved (Charles Dickens was one reporter) and the real places they visited for refreshment (coffee stalls, pie shops, street vendors). We come to understand how important servants were in cases because they knew everything that went on behind closed doors. This really brought the past to life for me. With my great, great grandfather moving to London in 1832 I have no doubt that with this high profile case, it is highly likely that this trial would have been part of his conversations.

After the account of the trial we get to know Caroline and George as people. The family history is fascinating and I loved reading about the literary circles and the fashions (for example the wedding clothes in the late 1820’s). As the picture builds of their married life we witness George’s tendency towards domestic violence … and how weak he is being ruled by his brother.

Although Caroline was found not guilty she could not divorce George. Estranged and living apart, she didn’t have the right to even see her children. Using her contacts and her literacy skills, she was motivated to be involved in passing the Infant Custody Act of 1839 which was the first piece of feminist legislation. Caroline was still not allowed to have her children with her. It was a tragic accident that finally led George to agreeing for her to be a part of the children’s lives.

The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton is beautifully written. With all the facts Caroline’s story contains, at no point is this dull or boring. Social history comes alive – the politics and the way of life.

George put Caroline through deeply emotional trauma with his obstructions and trying to ruin her reputation publicly. Still she struggled on to gain rights for women. I think it is fabulous Diane Atkinson has brought to the public attention this story of a woman who was so important and yet I am guessing not many people know of the part she played in gaining women’s rights.

I’ll leave you with a quote from page 423:

“Caroline Norton is a heroine to every woman who has made a mistake in judging a man.”

I would like to thank the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Fathomless - Jackson Pearce Lo’s preoccupation with the human world and the mythology of her underwater world is shared with us in the Prologue.

We meet Celia, Anne and Jane at a carnival. Anne and Jane use their powers for lighthearted gain while Celia sees her ‘gift’ more as a curse and feels outside the bond Anne and Jane have. She walks off alone and sees a guy (Jude) trip and fall into the ocean. Lo, in the ocean with new girl Molly, also sees this and between them (despite Molly wanting his soul), they rescue him. When Celia touches Lo, she sees some of her past and as she swims away, calls out her name – Naida.

Celia and Lo meet again and Celia realises that being able to see the past can at last be useful in helping Lo to remember her human life. Running alongside this is Celia’s building intimacy with Jude. Celia at last feels as if she has a purpose away from her sisters and using her gift.

Iintrigue/mystery comes from the underwater world mythology. New girl Molly remembers how they were changed but doesn’t share and Celia can’t get past the scream in Lo’s mind. Aging rapidly, do they become angels when it’s time? What really happens to the girls living in the ocean?

Sometimes Lo is at the forefront and other times, Naida. This isn’t as confusing as it sounds as all chapters are headed with the character who is leading … plus their needs are so different there is no mistaking who we’re with.

The settings and environment surrounding the scenes are perfect. Pearce’s writing is very evocative which led me to believe that I was also a part of the ocean. Beautiful writing.

Fathomless is much more than a modern retelling of The Little Mermaid. The triplets reminded me of the Fates and also the three faces of the moon. There is another key creature from myth too – a creature that underpins everything. Would love to read the story from their point of view!

I wasn’t sure how it was going to end (would it have a happy ending as in the amended version of Hans Christian Andersen?) but I have to admit that it was perfect!

Whether you are a lover of fairytales or they’re not usually your choice, Fathomless is a story with a plot and characters that will engage and hold your attention … no matter your age!

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock - Matthew Quick Narrated in the first person, we follow Leonard as he makes his journey to each person he is going to say goodbye to. Before he sets out, he wraps a carefully chosen gift for each one, leaving a rather bizarre gift (but still very fitting) in the fridge for his mother. Everyone he gifts to has a feeling that something is wrong. If only they would say two words to Leonard, which will change the path of destruction he’s on. Of course no-one has any idea of the significance of this day!

Interspersed with letters from the future, a picture builds of his childhood, friendships with peers and how he identifies with one specific teacher, Herr Silvermann.

From the beginning it is very clear how unique Leonard is. His thought processes throughout are amazing. Seemingly random, they are very Aquarian in nature. Just loved some of the thought-provoking questions he poses! In amongst the darkness and depression there are many insightful moments. I loved the analogy of the lighthouse … shining its light but no-one seeing.

There is intrigue surrounding something that happened with best mate Asher Beal that changed the nature of their friendship … and how Leonard feels about himself; the trigger that leads to the end Leonard is working towards achieving. This incident changed not only their friendship but also how Leonard is always on the edge of everything, always angry at the world.

One simple thing Leonard always wants to ask Herr Silvermann but is afraid to (just in case the answer is more banal than his mind conjures) is vital at a turning point in the story. I hope everyone has a Herr Silvermann in their lives when needed!

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is issue-led. It’s a poignant novel that explores how clinical depression can skew our thoughts. Asher and his emotional blackmail is a very real part of some teens lives and some can see no way out. It’s not just teens either. Quick deals with this honestly and with realism. The hope comes in the form of the last letter from the future.

I hope the fictional Leonard Peacock inspires others to speak out and find help.

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a proof copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Elephant Girl - Henriette Gyland

We begin with a prologue – the murder scene 20 years ago.  My very first thoughts were that the killer, Fay, started something she lost control of … how wrong I was!

 

In present day Goa, we find out that Helen has worked in a bar on the beach for 2 years.  She hides herself away from the world having been rejected by extended family, from peers at school (because of her condition of epilepsy) and therefore protects herself from emotional pain.

 

It’s monsoon season and a stranger dashes in out of the downpour.  It’s her grandma’s solicitor.  Not being able to persuade her to go back, his parting shot that Fay is out of prison, changes her mind.

 

Next, we find out about Jason Moody and the relationship he has with his father.  An interesting scene portrays the ‘game playing’ Jason does to manipulate him.  Derek (his father) capitulates on extending the lease for the half-way house and so everything is in place for his path to cross with Helen’s as Fay is one of the occupants of the house.

 

As Helen finds out more about Fay, she’s also finding out more (and becoming involved in) the family auction business.  With her building connection with Jason, this all leads to some tense and exciting scenes!

 

I loved all the characters in The Elephant Girl, I don’t even have a favourite!  It was so easy to be there with them as the story unfolds from those who supported to those who put obstacles in the way.

 

The romance between Helen and Justin has a natural feel.  I don’t think I’ve ever come across two characters who fit together the way they do!

 

Hyland has obviously researched epilepsy, not just the physical effects but the emotional side too.  The way Helen’s condition is a part of the story is portrayed with respect and honesty.

 

With everything interconnecting, there are several characters I suspected for the murder. I couldn’t guess who the perpetrator was but in all honesty, trying to work it out was peripheral for me.  I usually like to work it out but I was so caught up in the story as a whole that it didn’t matter!

 

When the climax comes it really is tense and clichéd but true … nail-biting!  I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

 

The ending?  Perfect :)

 

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wonder Women

Wonder Women - Rosie Fiore I loved Jo’s character from the very beginning … when we find out ‘she often had dream ideas that woke her with their brilliance’. Jungletown is one such idea. Sharing with Lee, she doesn’t think he’s interested and takes herself off to the garden to sulk but when she returns, he’s done a series of drawings. We’re then taken back to ‘then’ and find out their backstory (very romantic!)

It’s obvious where Holly fits into the shop when we find out that in Johannesburg, she started her clothes business from scratch. She’s the sister of Miranda (who has children the same age as Jo and on the periphery of her life) who has moved back to London after a rather heart-wrenching experience. I really enjoyed Holly’s life in Jo’burg – such a different way of living. This is only one of the reasons why I love reading, getting to live vicariously through characters!

Mel comes into the story when she’s taken on to work in the shop. A traumatic childhood and a life-changing experience in her teens, she’s overprotective towards Serena and is very creative in the way she manages to find out what she’s doing via social media.

Chapters of ‘Now’ and ‘Then’ tell us all we need to know about the past and where our three women are now because of it. Jungletown is the catalyst that obviously brings them together and is the foundation that holds them together as life happens! I enjoyed this structure to the story making it easy to identify with each woman despite their different ages and circumstances.

All three women have very different ‘voices’ and very different crisis to cope with. Jo and Lee coping with role reversals and all the guilt, angst and distance that brings; Holly with a family illness and coming to terms what happened in Jo’burg so that she can move forward; Mel and her deteriorating relationship with Selina and her stalking! Social media plays a part as do current issues, cultural differences and rape.

It was easy to get caught up in these lives, to be fully involved with the story. I loved the secrets uncovered in the life of Holly’s mum, the romance between Jo and Lee and all the family relationships. My favourite character has to be Holly… maybe because she brought the most humour to the story alongside the trauma. Just loved the ending :)

In the acknowledgments at the end, we find out that it was extremely important for Rosie Fiore to write about the care of the ill and the dying due to personal circumstances. My personal opinion is that she has done that with authenticity and love.

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a paperback copy in exchange for an honest review. I had already bought a Kindle copy (which had been forgotten in that invisible e-bookcase) and still preferring to read paper copies, I’m grateful!
The Light Between Oceans - M. L. Stedman Part One, we begin The Light Between Oceans with the washed up boat. Izzy was tending a grave when she heard the baby crying.

Moving backwards in time we find out that Tom is scarred from his childhood and his experiences in WW1. He feels a connection to Janus Rock. Tom doesn’t look to the past or the future, having learnt that the only way is to live in the present. Tom and Izzy meet on the mainland.

We find out about the history of Point Partageuse and how it felt ‘outside’ of the world until WW1 changed the community.

Part Two moves us on to the isolation and the quietness experienced on Janus Rock. Izzy’s loss is poignantly portrayed. Very descriptive, we share this experience in full which pulls at the heart.

Tom is very conscientious, following rules to the letter, giving him a sense of order. When the boat washes up, he goes against the very thing that gives his life structure, not being able to deny Izzy. Feeling uncomfortable, when they’re visiting the mainland, an action he takes has devastating consequences for them. From this moment there is turmoil, lies and deceit. It shows the lengths a woman will go to when nothing assuages the depths of grief.

I enjoyed being a part of Tom and Izzy’s life in 1926. The community on the mainland and the isolation of Janus Rock are excellent settings for the emotional trauma to come to life. The history, not only of the time, but the lighthouses and lightkeepers, is very interesting. I wasn’t sure how it would all end … but of course, when it comes, it is perfect. So right! I was sobbing.

DreamWorks Pictures have acquired the movie rights for The Light Between Oceans (Movie Web) and even knowing what is coming, I know I’ll still be crying!

A debut novel, I will be interested to see what the author will write about next.

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.