#BookReview: If They Could See Me Now by Denise Welch

What’s it about?

Have you ever wondered if you made the right choices? Harper Clarke has…

Harper reminds me of many of the women I’ve known and cared about over the years. Now that her children are close to flying the nest, she is looking across the table and thinking, Is this really how my life was meant to be?

As women, we make sacrifices for our children, for our husbands and for our families. Some are worth it and some we may regret. But there comes a point when it’s time to follow our own hearts. This is the story of what happens when we do.

My thoughts

First off I’m going to admit that I don’t read a lot of women’s fiction as it’s not my preferred read, but this was sent to me out of the blue and has been on my shelf for ages.  I’m currently trying to read all outstanding ARC’s so picked this up for a change to the norm.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book which made me feel so angry towards the main character!

Obviously the reader is meant to feel sympathetic towards protagonist Harper, but I just couldn’t. Ok, her husband may have been cheating and his verbal assaults were on another level but she let him continue and then had sex with him. I didn’t need 350 pages of this to determine the guy was a prick and that was going to be justification for leaving, I had that wrapped up in the first few chapters.  What really got to me was how he bullied the younger daughter and although she told him not to do it, he continued and she let him, it’s no wonder the girl had issues.  This made me so mad!  What I got from her was that her lifestyle was more important – shallow!  I actually got the majority of my thoughts down here before I had even finished the book because of how incensed it made me.

Anyway, aside from that I suspect Denise Welch will have a successful future with any novels as fans of hers would buy them based on her career to date.  Having said that the book I thought the book was reasonably well written with decent secondary characters and I could see what see was trying to achieve.  Although given the title If They Could See Me Now, I would have expected more from what happened after rather than 90% of before and during.  Some books just don’t match their readers, and this was the case for me and this book unfortunately but I appreciated the chance to read it.

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Twitter | Website

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Source: ARC – many thanks!
No of pages: 400
Publisher: Sphere

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#BookReview: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

What’s it about?

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

 

 

 

My thoughts

Seriously…what can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said!!?

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from it but the buzz around the Channel 4 TV adaptation had me picking up a copy for our book club read which overall was received quite well.

I have to admit I didn’t love the writing style.  I much prefer to read with speech in quotation marks, rather than just pages and pages of block text – on a first glance this would really put me off.  Having said that, on this occasion I found it quite easy to read, not the heavy going slog I had honestly expected from one of the books everyone should read.

It’s probably been said so many times this was just so thought-provoking and shocking! This Government sanctioned abuse was just downright horrifying.  Made even more so because even though it was written in 1985 some of Atwood’s thoughts are still so relevant today.  This may sound strange given it’s of a futuristic nature; it’s just so cleverly written the content doesn’t date it and feels as though it could have been published yesterday.

I had such admiration for Offred’s character; her fear and courage jumped off the page and her astounding strength of character truly makes her one of the best female characters ever written and that I’ve ever read.

I’m also loving the tv adaptation and the additions to the plot they’ve made.  Seeing it on screen actually makes the whole idea seem so much darker and terrifying.  And Elisabeth Moss is just incredible in it.  Although a lot of what’s happened isn’t explained in the book or tv series, it just is what it is, and so you’re left to draw your own conclusions; such as, how many States has this affected or is it the whole of the US? Where are the Colonies and do they actually exist or is this a story that is fed to the Handmaid’s to keep them under control? Are those that were sent to the Colonies actually dead? What caused the War that led to this regime? Maybe these questions will be more explored in the second series…..Loved it, 5*, read it if you haven’t! 🙂

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Twitter | Website

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Source: Purchased
No of pages: 324
Publisher: Vintage

#BookReview: The One by John Marrs

What it’s about?

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

 

My thoughts

The One will change the way you think about dating and as a 40+ singleton this book’s blurb was incredibly fascinating…I mean, never having to stick your toe in the scary world of dating is somewhat, no not somewhat, massively appealing.

Told in turn by 5 characters (mostly) each with different stories to offer about their experiences of finding The One and what happens when do or don’t.  It certainly helps that the majority of the characters are all pretty ‘normal’ people and certainly relatable in terms of their relationships.  Even the less ‘normal’ ones have this air of appeal about that makes you want to know what makes them tick.

Each chapter ending on its own mini cliffhanger certainly makes for a gripping read and had me wanting to skip to their next chapter to find out what happens so I managed to read this in just a couple of days.  I mean, there’s murder, a bit of romance, kidnap…the whole premise is so enticing but reality always has a way of playing its hand so it can’t all be happy ever after – can it?

I did have the ending for one of the male characters (Nick) pegged differently and would love to have been right about that as I it would have been so much more dramatic given the rest of the book’s content but hey ho, that’ll be one for discussion with other bookish peeps.

I think the author’s stand out performance here is the original plotline and I think it would make an excellent thriller of a movie.  Start picking who you want to see playing these characters guys – that’s my prediction for a forthcoming book to movie adaptation!

Is this a taste of futuristic dating? Would you do it? Would you take the test?

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Twitter | Goodreads

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Source: Purchased
No of pages: 416
Publisher: Ebury

#BookReview: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

What’s it about?

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal…

A murder…a tragic accident…or just parents behaving badly?

What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?

 

 

My thoughts

I’ve read one other of Liane Moriarty’s books before (The Husband’s Secret) and remember thinking that what’s between the covers was a lot darker and had more depth to it than what you’d expect from just the cover.  Same again here and I ‘m not gonna lie, I was totally drawn to this book because of the recent TV adaptation!

The book’s format isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste in that the chapters are interspersed with a reporter’s interviewees responses but I liked it and thought it added to the tension and suspense of what was really going on! WHO’S DEAD AND WHO DID IT? Right from the outset we don’t know the answer to either so that really drew me in but by god did it also frustrate me but I tell you what it made me read quicker 🙂

I liked the way this book explored the darker side of everyday life; playground mums (and some dads), school bullying that’s not just the between the students but with this black comedic twist and so much misdirection.

Surprising to find that all of the 3 main women characters are likeable, it’s the majority of the others you’ll have issues with.  I’m now looking forward to being able to watch the TV show somehow because it looks to have been perfectly cast.

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Facebook | Website

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Source: ARC – many thanks!
No of pages: 460
Publisher: Penguin

Book Review: The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

What’s it about?

When lovelorn Annie McDee stumbles across a dirty painting in a junk shop while looking for a present for an unsuitable man, she has no idea what she has discovered. Soon she finds herself drawn unwillingly into the tumultuous London art world, populated by exiled Russian oligarchs, avaricious Sheikas, desperate auctioneers and unscrupulous dealers, all scheming to get their hands on her painting – a lost eighteenth-century masterpiece called ‘The Improbability of Love’. Delving into the painting’s past, Annie will uncover not just an illustrious list of former owners, but some of the darkest secrets of European history – and in doing so she might just learn to open up to the possibility of falling in love again.

My thoughts

This book had been sat around on my book shelf since last October when I purchased it from a second hand book shop during the BAMB campaign.  It had been recommended by a fellow blogger who’s views usually match my own.

Overall there wasn’t anything I really disliked about the book.  I thought it was an original read which was interesting as well as entertaining which just oozed money.  Although I would probably have enjoyed it more had there been less of the pretentious unnecessary words that I had to look up and also the fact that although I liked the ending I would have preferred a different outcome.

I enjoyed this book because I liked all the arty stuff and historical interpretations and particularly loved the chapters from the painting’s point of view – funny and intelligent with a sense of its own importance, this could have made a book all on its own!  I liked that Annie didn’t have the perfect lifestyle and her blossoming relationship with Jesse wasn’t of the typical cliché romance.  4* from me!

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Twitter | Website

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Source: purchased
No of pages: 496
Publisher: Bloomsbury