Gorgeously brutal

Heart’s Insanity by Ellie Masters

This is a brutal read, it will hurt in more than one place.  But it’s truly gorgeous. Gorgeously brutal. I loved it.

His endless optimism crashes into her awful reality.  Watching from the sidelines as he slowly wins her around made me happy.  I could feel myself cheering him on. I wanted to step in and hold her hand maybe even push her a little. But he got the timing just right. What a perfectly lovely hero he is.

I told you, I’m in this for the bigger prize.  That means all of you, not just pieces of you.”

When I first read this, I loved it. What a hero he wants all of her!  It’s like John Legend telling Chrissy Teigen he wants her curves and edges. Or when Billy Joel told Christy Brinkley that now he needed the rest of her.  The struggle here is that Skye knows how damaged she is, Ash might be a hard core rocker but he is clueless.  Billy and John are talking about pieces of a whole person, Ash doesn’t know it but Skye is in pieces.  Her pain is unbearably sad. And yet her fight and strength warmed my heart.  Even now I want to cry.

I wondered had he understood the scale of the challenge would he have pursued Skye? I think so, as not only is Ash lovely but he’s gritty and unorthodox.  And he has an ego!  But he is there for the long haul.  For me perhaps the only negative was the epilogue came to soon for me. But that’s my perspective, maybe her reality was different.

As for Forrest – good god!  What a juicy character he is!

This is a beautifully written complex and engaging story with two characters that I truly loved.

 

Thank you netgalley for providing me an arc in return for my honest review.

 

Beautiful

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

I loved this book.

It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.  I very much doubt that I can do justice to it in a review.

It’s a book about love in its various forms.  It’s the story, of the well known poet Rumi and his friend and companion Shams and in modern times of an American house wife and a Dutch writer.  The story is told by a myriad of voices, which might sound confusing but was truly enlightening.  So many voices had something valuable to add.  The power of perspective.

What stood out for me was that love is about making a choice.  This was demonstrated by the choice Ella has to make. It was both heartbreaking and life affirming. But ultimately love is a path we can all follow, but we have to choose that route.

Its a book that transcends all the nonsense we live with today, all the stuff about religion, beliefs, society’s expectations etc.

Perhaps I should be ashamed to say but I’d never heard of Rumi, but there you go.  And my understanding of Sufi’ism was pretty much zero.  I’m far from knowledgeable about either topic but I’m now far more enlightened.

Please read it and talk about it with others. It’s a special book.

Live for today

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

This is a beautiful and sad book.

I suspect it will speak to people in different ways. For some it will simply be one of the loveliest but saddest books they will ever read. I’m in that category. But for some people it will really challenge and change their perceptions, perhaps speak to them in a way nothing else will.

It’s the story of Tom, for whom time stops.  Or perhaps better said he ages so slowly he is centuries old despite his youthful appearance.

Given that time has stopped for him, what will Tom do with his life?  Will he aspire to greatness? Or will he allow fear to overcome him?  If you outlive everyone you ever meet can you form relationships?  With a seemingly endless future should you focus on the unknown ahead, the reality of your past or live for the moment?  And how do you even do that?

“The first rule is that you don’t fall in love”.

Imagine going through life avoiding falling in love. Of course, many people never feel that joy but knowing it’s impossible and never being lucky enough to experience it are very different.

Tom asks us the question – is it love that gives our lives meaning?  Or by living for now can we fall in love?

“A problem with living in the twenty-first century….. we are made to feel poor on thirty thousand pounds a year. To feel poorly travelled if we have only been to ten other countries. To feel old if we have a wrinkle. To feel ugly if we aren’t photo shopped and filtered”.

Tom knew Shakespeare, Captain Cook and Scott Fitzgerald.  He looks backward, believing that everything good is behind him.  And yet it’s a book about our own time.  A time in which despots appeal to people who feel threatened, where likes on an FB post are worth gold and celebrity images dictate our self esteem.

The author explores the role that putting down roots and forming real connections plays in your identity and mental health resilience.  What did his lack of connections post Rose and Marion say about Tom?  Should he risk it all again?

So, we come to the ultimate question.  What would you do with such a long life?  Would the fear of scientific exploration keep you in hiding?  Or would you throw caution to the wind to live your best life?

This book is so interesting, compelling and hugely relevant for today.  It’s simply beautiful.

Another great choice for your bookclub.

Time and childhood

The Child in Time Ian McEwan

At first glance from the blurb I expected a Madeleine McCann type story.  So, I started it with some trepidation, but it was a bookclub book so it had to be done.

Whilst, Kate the missing child dominates, I was surprised how little the story was actually about her.  I came to see what happened to Kate as the starting point to look at the concept of being trapped in time.

I loved the exploration of time and what it means, especially how the author cleverly speeded up time and then slowed it down.  It totally showcased the genius of the writing.

McEwan uses various ways to play with this concept of time. There’s the role of the commitee in giving structure to Stephen’s time – time was used to show that the book had already been written (past), whilst the committe sat (present) and worked towards their report (future). Brilliant!

Perhaps most impressively McEwan used his style of writing to demonstrate his theme, with the details about the committee being dull and bringing on a feeling of lethargy. Yet other parts were fast paced and absorbing.

The other theme inherent in the title is ‘child’ or childhood.  Obviously for Stephen this began with the missing Kate and then Julie’s decision not to share her pregnancy, so he had no time to prepare. The references to Stephen’s own childhood via his ride in the train engine as if he needed this memory of his own childhood before he moved on.

The character most impacted here was Charles. His revision back to childhood and Thelma’s role in this. Did this refect her experience as never having had a child? Was this their attraction?

The book is dystopian in nature which allowed for political commentary of sorts, including the gender neutral PM, most likely a representation of the Iron Lady.  This style allowed the almost magical story around Stephen and his parents’ memories, how he could access a memory from before he was born.  Memories and how we choose what to remember is another theme.

For bookclubs the quality and diversity of themes make it an absolute winner. I’m not sure I loved it, but I found it intriguing and definitely worthwhile with lots to talk about.

I read this in November but am only just catching up on review. I ran out of time (!).

Ooh something new Mrs Prowse!

 

    

Anna (out 8th March) and Theo (out 5th April) both by Amanda Prowse

I’m liking the sound of this.  Two new books by one of my real faves Amanda Prowse.

It’s being billed as one love two stories.  Or maybe one story two perspectives?  A matching his and hers set even?!

I think it’s kind of intriguing, I read a Nalini Singh where two books in a series overlapped but were different stories, so only little hints come through.  The only other example I can think of are they rather dire EL James books from his perspective. I know this will be fab.

Neither book is out til next year (boo!)   But I’m previewing the covers above, which look kind of cute!  A bit of a departure from her covers more recently.  Personally, Amanda Prowse is one of the few authors I’m happy to preorder without knowing much about the next story.

Here’s the thunderclap that Amanda and her team are sharing today so you can preorder.

Bestseller @MrsAmandaProwse presents One Love. Two Stories. First read #Anna http://bit.ly/_Anna__ a girl you’ll fall in love with then read #Theo http://bit.ly/_Theo__ a boy looking for someone to love. Two worlds, two lives, two novels that collide to create a masterpiece.

Make that call

The Good Samaritan by John Marrs (out December 1st).

John Marrs proves he is the go to author for intelligent and thought provoking books.  If you know someone who loves a good thriller put this in their Christmas stocking, they’ll be very happy. Five stars!!

Most readers will find this an easy page turner, something to keep them warm at night.  After all, the characterisation is genius, especially Laura’s.  As the villain you should (and do) hate her.  Yet I also wanted to know her, to understand her this kept me absorbed in the story, despite myself.

Because for me personally this wasn’t an easy read.  In fact some passages were so graphic and real to me that I needed a breather.  All encompassing depression and suicide are the backdrop to Laura’s story.  For most readers it simply enriches the story.

But sadly, for some of us the pain of suicide is something that even years later comes up and whacks you in the face.  It’s the number one killer of young men under 45.  That’s partly because under 45 natural causes are far less likely.  Only partly because there is a true crisis in our young men who opt to take this most drastic option.

I can honestly say that I’d prefer a heart attack every day.  How completely selfish am I?  Natural causes don’t have loved ones hating the victim or becoming ill with guilt.  They dont have young children growing up as unloveable.  Natural causes give a focus to anger and loss – kicking cancer’s butt and all that.  Suicide leaves everyone adrift, including the victim.

So, what’s the answer?  Here I head back to Mr Marrs’ book.  It’s support in that absolute moment of crisis that escalates so rapidly you cannot imagine it.  That’s why despite the pain that the theme causes me, reminding people that services like the Samaritans exist is so important.  Given that most men under 45 have young families, this is a tragedy with dreadful repercussions.  We need greater awareness and more support.

I feel the need to end this post on a more lighter note – so I’ll say I’m hoping that Laura isn’t answering the phone tonight at the Samaritans or any other helpline!

Thank you to netgalley and the author for an ARC in return for an honest review.

Romantic Dancing and ice cream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haven by Lindsay J. Pryor (Lowtown #1)

I loved it. I savoured every single word.  Ms Pryor delivers an urban fantasy masterclass

What stood out for me was the romance, it’s heart breakingly romantic.  I’m a sucker for romance, I’ll admit I probably watch Strictly Come Dancing hoping for romance.  Haven reminded me of a brilliant Viennese Waltz – beautifully romantic with constant twists and turns that left me dizzy and breathless.  My heart ached and ached.

I adored Nate’s sensitivity and all male softness.  He reminded me of peanut butter ice cream – cool, unexpected and with real depths of flavour. And let’s not forget the crunch – cos I love it crunchy!  (It’s also my fave flavour so I’m biased.)

As for Ember I loved that she was determined, smart and strong without being tough or spiky.  How refreshing is that?  I just hope we haven’t seen the last of these two.

This is urban fantasy infused with tendrils of romance.  If either genre appeal to you then this is your perfect read.

Squidgies and heart rubbing

Van by Sawyer Bennett (Cold Fury #9)

Five very shiny stars for this one.

Why the shiny? Well, this is the story of two people who have kind of lost their shininess or gloss.  She’s made some not so good decisions and has ended up lost in life, with her family’s disappointment ringing in her ears.

For him, he feels the weight of his family’s history.  And it’s certainly not shiny.  He saw others judge him as a child and found him lacking, through no fault of his own.  Not only is he distrustful of opening up to others, he actually doesn’t know how.  The simplest social interaction is hard work.  I found him to be a heart breaker, even though he isn’t trying to be.

Van gave me the squidgies right in the middle of my chest.  I rubbed my heart pretty constantly as I read.  He’s a hero you want to fix, you want to wrap up in your arms or even cook roast chicken for.

Sawyer Bennett is at her cracking best when she not only tells a story but has something to say that she’s passionate about.  Here she reminds us that we aren’t our parents, that we can’t judge someone by their DNA.  You don’t have to walk the road your parents did, but boy does it take strength to confront that.  Ms Bennett tells it so so well.

There’s also a wonderful reminder about secrecy. Of course, we all want to keep hidden our shame secret, but does that give it power? Or does keeping it secret enable you to be who you really are?  If no one knows your past they can’t judge you.

As for the romance, totally there and totally unconventional.  Here’s one of my favourite bits:

“That’s right. Don’t assume,” I tell her. “Ask if you’re confused. But Simone . . . you know the worst about me. You took my cock bare. I’m man enough to admit that I’ve got my feelings tied up now too. I sure as fuck don’t know what any of it means, and I’m totally out of my element here. I don’t know what we are, but you are anything but a lay to me”

Brave, ballsy and beautiful that sums Van up both book and man.

A gentleman snake

Archangel’s Viper Nalini Singh (Guildhunter #10)

Ooh an old fashioned gent who cooks – did I mention I was in love?!

In the past 18 months some of my fave PNR series have gone off the boil. With Nalini Singh being my fave, I admit I started this with a little trepidation. Motto to self – have more faith.  It is Nalini Singh after all!

Raphael’s mother talks about his closest friends (his seven) as being like a menagerie or zoo. I’m not sure Caliane even knows how right she is.  In that vein Venom is a bit like that the cherry on the cake!  He’s not just different, but snake different and sexy with it.

Venom rivals Dmitri for sexiness, and post Harry Potter only a truly talented author can make an actual snake sexy.  I’m not talking Shakira and boa constrictors here.  I loved his sexy side of course, but more so the way he melded his traditional side as a Raj peasant with a twenty first century lethal operative.

Talking of Dmitri, what insights we get into the vampire extraordinaire!  With Holly he’s a father dealing with a petulant but adored daughter, but with Venom he races the streets of New York like a naughty teenage gang leader. As a series fan you want – maybe need – these moments into the other characters.  As always Ms Singh delivers.

I loved Holly’s strength. I’m not sure why or how but Holly seemed so unique in her strength and this in a series jam packed with strong heroines.

Beautifully written, with a complex story, fun dialogue and a simmering romance this latest Guildhunter episode is fabulous.

Sweet, funny & brittle

Game On Victoria Denault (Hometown Players #6)

First up, I absolutely loved this book. The shades of light and dark are so powerful. It’s a masterclass in romance writing.

It was nothing I was expecting and thank god for that! I read it in one sitting, I could not leave it alone

As the hero Alex is simply wonderful. At times he’s sweet, funny and easy going and you can see why he is everyone’s best friend. And then he’s brittle, hurt, childlike. I hurt for him, I wanted to take care of him. Yet, it was obvious that wasn’t what was needed, and you had to like Brie for knowing that.

I liked how both Brie and Alex had their own prejudices about each other that slowly dissolved, and the way Brie convinced him to take a chance had my heart thumping! And their first meeting was so super cute!

Often I don’t like writing from the two different POVs but this was so well done it felt real. It’s so biographical in detail, it’s hard to remember that Alex is a fictional character.

I really hope that people will pick this up, it doesn’t matter if you’ve read the other books in the series or not. It’s such a lovely read that it will completely devour you.