ROMANCE/CHICKLIT

Between Sisters – Kristin Hannah

I am sad that I didn’t love this book. I read two of Kristen Hannah’s books and they were fantastic. I was disappointed with this one from the start. Aside from being totally predictable, it was equally unbelievable.

Meghann is a high-priced divorce attorney in Seattle Washington. Her estranged younger sister, Claire, manages a “resort” with her father, Sam, in the small town of Hayden, Washington.

Claire has never been married and has a five-year old daughter, Alison or Ali-Cat as her mother likes to call her. She meets an aspiring country-western singer who she falls promptly in love with. He in turn falls for her. They get married just a few weeks after meeting. [picture me rolling my eyes].

Meghann, or Meg as her friends call her, is rather loose in the morals department. Never mind that she is a well known and respected attorney who you would think would be cognizant of her reputation. Meg goes to Hayden in an attempt to reconcile with her sister. While there, her old habits get the best of her. She happens into a tavern and picks up an attractive but shabby guy by the name of Joe. They go to Joe’s cabin. After a couple more amorous nights together, they also fall deeply in love. [now I know I’ve burned at least 5, maybe 10 rolling my eyes]

Of course, as you may predict, [and you will], the rest of the story. There are many other characters in this book. I’m not going to go on with any more details.

I can hardly believe this same author wrote ‘The Nightingale’ and ‘The Great Alone’.

I won’t let this one be the last book I read by Ms. Hannah. However, I will screen them carefully. I know she can write wonderfully

Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. Additionally, it was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week.

MAGICAL REALISM

Kinnara – Kevin Ansbro

“In Thailand and all of Southeast Asia, two of the most beloved mythological characters are the benevolent half-human, half-bird creatures known as the Kinnara and Kinnari, which are believed to come from the Himalayas and often watch over the well-being of humans in times of trouble or danger”

Whenever I read a book by this author, I come out of it being a little more informed than when I started it. 

Calum and Hannah grew up together and were the best of friends both residing in Norwich. Hannah has been in love with Calum since they were children. He, however, is preoccupied with other things of the boyish nature. They become separated when Hannah’s father is transferred for his job to another location. Hannah was crushed when Calum doesn’t say one last goodbye. They don’t see each other for years. But, fear not, they do meet up again.

After Calum’s current girlfriend is caught in the act, so to speak with a co-worker, Calum goes to Thailand solo on a planned vacation that was supposed to be for two. 

This novel takes place in England, Germany, and Thailand. It is clear that the author has been to and fallen in love with Thailand. The descriptions of the landscape and the people of Thailand, along with their beliefs and customs made me feel as if I was there with Calum. Here he meets a poor Thai boy named Sawat. He and Sawat become fast friends. 

Now, over in Germany, a serial killer is obsessed with pregnant women. At this point, I am scratching my head as to how all this is going to fit together. But have faith in the author he never disappoints.

The Kinnara in this story has been punished for a long-ago transgression of the murder of a human and has been banished to the bottom of the sea to sit and wait for forgiveness from someone. 
This was an adventure ride. Better than a roller coaster. Splendidly researched, romantic but not sickening. Happiness and sorrow both reside on the pages. A brilliant 5***** review for me. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

About the Author

Kevin Ansbro was born of Irish parents, and has lived in Malaysia and Germany:
He was educated at Hamond’s Grammar School in Swaffham, and at the Norfolk College of Arts and Technology, King’s Lynn.
Kevin also has a background in karate and kickboxing and has travelled extensively – particularly in the Far East.
He is married to Julie, and currently lives in Norwich, England.

Likes: Art, travel, good manners, independent women, Sunday newspapers and dirty laughs; funk, punk, Bob Marley, Pulp, Foo Fighters, Marmite, winks, pouts, Masterchef Australia and Earl Grey tea.

Dislikes: Strawberries (I’m not alone with this one), drivers who don’t indicate, men who devote their weekends to cleaning the family car (what’s that all about?) English winters, 1970s-style armpit hair on women, skinflints, insufficiently-chilled white wine, homophobes, misogynists, xenophobes and ignorant jerks in general.

Right, enough about me: my books are way more interesting.
http://www.kevinansbro.co.uk

LITERARY FICTION

Bluethroat Morning – Jacqui Lofthouse

An intricately written novel.

This book was provided to me from NetGalley, Blackbird Publishing and Jacqui Lofthouse in exchange for my honest opinion. To them, I send my deepest gratitude. 

Bluethroat Morning by Jacqui Lofthouse was beautifully written with intricate plot and sub-plots. It’s a rather long book, but I didn’t mind this and never lost interest once. 

Harry Bliss is a retiring school teacher who was married to a former super-model, Alison Oakley Bliss who turned best-selling author. Her book was very well received and she had many fans. Inexplicably, six years prior to the start of this novel, Alison had taken a writing holiday in a small town called Glaven. The Glaven River is in the eastern English county of Norfolk, is 10½ miles long and flows through picturesque North Norfolk countryside to the North Sea. Today, it is a popular tourist destination, but Alison rents a run-down cottage there to finish her second book without distractions. 

Harry is absolutely devastated by his wife’s unexpected suicide. He is determined to find out what transpired the last two weeks of Alison’s life. Harry is also going through a mid-life crisis. He has been somewhat of a recluse in the years since Alison’s death and thinks its time to come out of the shell. 

In comes Helen. Oh, lovely, 19-year-old Helen. The daughter of Harry’s closest friend at school where he teaches. Helen bears a strong resemblance to Arabella, who was his great-grandfather’s wife. Arabella also committed suicide by walking naked into the water and drowning for unknown reasons just as Alison did. Harry and Helen start a torrid, although inappropriate, affair and she travels with him to Glaven to try to find answers. Helen is also a huge fan of Alison, both through her modeling career and her author status. 

What transpires after that, I will withhold. This book is expertly written and intricate in detail, both of the characters and the surrounding area. My hat is off to Jacqui Lofthouse. She weaves a web of secrets and revelations that are shown to the reader slowly and deliciously. 

It is an excellent book. I enjoyed it very much. 

About the Author

Jacqui began her career as an actor touring India as Sheila in J.B. Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’. She went on to study Drama and English at the University of Bristol and subsequently worked in radio production and media training. In 1992 she studied for her MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia under Sir Malcolm Bradbury and Rose Tremain.

Jacqui has taught creative writing in a broad variety of settings including from City University to Feltham Young Offenders Institution. She has also taught English and Drama in London secondary schools. 

In 2005, Jacqui founded The Writing Coach, a coaching and mentoring organisation for writers (www.thewritingcoach.co.uk). She is currently working on her first YA novel and returning to actor training at Identity School of Acting. (less)

BOOK REVIEWS

29 Seconds – T.M. Logan

What would you do if someone, a complete stranger, offered to make one person of your choice disappear forever, with absolutely nothing to tie you to the disappearance? I, of course, as most people would answer a resounding “no way”. You could not do such a thing. 

Don’t be too sure. This book takes you into the mind and life of Sarah, a contracted, temporary professor at a university with an absent husband and children. Sarah is almost sure, to be offered a permanent tenured position at the university. But, there’s one hitch, her womanizing, sleazy boss, Alan, is a superstar at this university. He has two sides. One is cordial, professional and intelligent, a star fundraiser. The other is misogynistic, execrable and just plain sleazy. His reputation is known well by the women at the university. 

Now, I, along with thousands of other women have had to endure the obnoxious men that talked inappropriately, touched inappropriately and sometimes propositioned us. However, Sara’s boss, Alan also holds the key to her future, whether she continues as a contracted professor, loses her job completely, or whether she realizes her dream of advancing at the university. 

A chance encounter with a would-be kidnapper of a child manages to bring her to the attention of the intended victim’s father. An ultra-wealthy “business” man with somewhat shady dealings. As a way to pay her back, this man offers her the chance of a lifetime, to get rid of her detestable boss. 
As the story unfolds, it develops into a fascinating psychological thriller. I didn’t see the ending coming. I have given it 5 ***** due to the fact that I always seem to figure out the endings and this time I didn’t. Also, because it was beautifully written with great suspense.

Wow, what a book. A page-turner for me. I have had “Lies” by T.M. Logan on my Kindle app for a long time. I will now move it up near the top. If it’s half as good as “29 Seconds” I will love it. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Netgalley and the Author T.M. Logan for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Bestselling author TM Logan was a national newspaper journalist before turning to novel-writing full time. His debut thriller LIES was one of Amazon UK’s biggest ebooks of 2017, selling 350,000 copies and gathering more than 1,400 5-star reviews so far. It was published in the USA in September 2018 and has also come out in South Korea, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and the Netherlands.

His next thriller, 29 SECONDS, is a psychological thriller set against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement. What if someone offered you a solution to the biggest problem in your life – would you take it, if you knew you’d never be found out? Even if you knew it was wrong? What if a 29-second phone call could change your life forever?

BOOK REVIEWS

The Fish That Climbed A Tree – Kevin Ansbro

I have had nothing on my mind but this book since I finished it last week. I’ve waited to write a review until now because I wanted to give the book all that it deserved. I loved this book. Five gigantic *! As I see it, it is a book about good at the extreme and bad at its worst.

First the good. The Reverend Ulysses Drummond had been appointed vicar of St Cuthbert’s Chuch in the London borough of Hackney. He and his wife, Florence lived quietly and only wanted to help everyone.

Henry Drummond is Ulysses’ and Florence’s 10-year-old son. On Henry’s 10th birthday, his Mother and Father are brutally murdered in the vicarage while Henry was at school. Henry is a most peculiar child in that he had an old-fashioned air about him. He was an avid reader and was the butt of the other children’s bullying. He was basically friendless while going through school.

Now the bad. Pascal Makuza had escaped Rwanda and arrived in London after a very dangerous trip. The Hutu death squad that he had been forced to join had sliced off his upper lip and fed it to a dog. Therefore, his appearance was somewhat that of a skeleton.

He was mentored by Yuri Voloshyn a Ukrainian who remains unpunished for his many crimes, including rape and murder in Odessa. Henry vowed to his only friend, Bertie, to hunt the men down and see that they are punished for the murder of his mother and father.

In the meantime, Ulysses and his wife are somewhere between earth and paradise. Now being raised as a Catholic, I imagined this is what purgatory would be like. Ulysses and Florence were having an argument. Florence wanted to go toward the light and enjoy paradise and Ulysses wanted to stay where he was so that he can watch over his son Henry. Florence stayed a while but then decided she would follow the light and go on to paradise hoping that Ulysses would soon follow.

There are other characters in this book, developed beautifully by Kevin. Much happens to Henry and I absolutely could not put it down. You have good, evil, love, and humor.

Who the characters are; does good overpower bad are all questions that I will leave unanswered. All that I can say is READ. THIS. BOOK. You will not be disappointed.

I have downloaded the other two books authored by my good friend on Goodreads, Kevin Ansbro, and intend to read them both in the near future. Kevin, thank you for writing this wonderful book.

Kevin Ansbro was born of Irish parents, and has lived in Malaysia and Germany:
He was educated at Hamond’s Grammar School in Swaffham, and at the Norfolk College of Arts and Technology, King’s Lynn.
Kevin also has a background in karate and kickboxing and has travelled extensively – particularly in the Far East.
He is married to Julie, and currently lives in Norwich, England.

Right, enough about me: my books are way more interesting.
http://www.kevinansbro.co.uk

BOOK REVIEWS

The Need – Helen Phillips

I really thought I would like this book.  I expected to like this book.  Why didn’t I?

The main reason was I didn’t know what the heck was going on for about 85% of it.  Mol/Molly clearly is flawed.  She has two precious children, Viv who is 4 years old and Ben who is a baby.  Ms. Phillips simply wore me out with the lactating references in almost every short chapter.  I didn’t see the need.  Okay, you have a baby, who is walking BTW, and you’re a proponent of breastfeeding.  Hip, hip, hooray for you. 

The first 15% of the book was good.  After that, it simply fell to pieces.  I felt absolutely no kinship or affection for any of the characters, largely because they were never really developed.  And the ending, Ugh!! I have whiplash it ended so abruptly.  So, the question remained in my mind was Molly simply insane, was she dead, were the children dead, did the elusive husband, David even exist.  I never figured it out.  Big letdown. 

I do, however, want to thank Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Helen Phillips is the author of five books, including, most recently, the novel THE NEED. Her collection SOME POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS received the 2017 John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Her novel THE BEAUTIFUL BUREAUCRAT, a New York Times Notable Book of 2015, was a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her collection AND YET THEY WERE HAPPY was named a Notable Book by the Story Prize. She is also the author of the children’s adventure novel HERE WHERE THE SUNBEAMS ARE GREEN. Helen is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and the Italo Calvino Prize, among others. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, the New York Times, and Tin House, and on Selected Shorts. She is an associate professor at Brooklyn College. http://www.helencphillips.com.

BOOK REVIEWS

The World We Knew – Alice Hoffman

Five stars for sure. This was a beautiful book. Even throughout reading about the brutality of the era, unconditional love, loyalty, and bonds between those in need were evident. World War II was a horrific time. Horrible things happened. This book will be hard to read for some.

The magical realism is well represented and a genre that I have never explored. I had to stop and research a lot of the book, but I learned a great deal in doing so.

I would highly recommend this book to everyone, although it will no be for everyone.

I would like to thank Netgalley, Simon & Schuster and Alice Hoffman for an opportunity to read this ebook in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York.

Hoffman’s work has been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions. Her novels have received mention as notable books of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, and People Magazine. She has also worked as a screenwriter and is the author of the original screenplay “Independence Day” a film starring Kathleen Quinlan and Diane Wiest. Her short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, Redbook, Architectural Digest, Gourmet, Self, and other magazines. Her teen novel Aquamarine was recently made into a film starring Emma Roberts.