Still Me by Jojo Moyes Review

I’ve been a big fan of author Jojo Moyes ever since stumbling across Me Before You years ago. This was before the movie and before a lot of the huge hype. Me Before You first introduces the loveable Louisa Clark, wearer of quirky vintage clothes and bumblebee yellow and black striped stockings. In this first book she becomes a carer to Will Traynor, a complicated man not coping very well with life as a quadriplegic and they both change each other’s lives. If you haven’t read this first book, definitely give it a go. I don’t want to give anything away if you haven’t read it.

Still Me by Jojo Moyes
Still Me by Jojo Moyes, ISBN 9780718183196, 469pp, Pub Jan 2018

I loved Me Before You, even though it smashed my heart to pieces, and was quite happy for it to be a stand-alone book. But then Jojo Moyes released a sequel called After You. Although I devoured this book it didn’t have quite the same feel as book one. Louisa was far from the happy, positive young woman and with a major character missing in this book, it was a bit of an adjustment. But I liked it well enough in the end.

Which brings me to the newly released third book in the series, Still Me. I rushed out to get this because I love Jojo Moyes writing, but after book two I approached this with some trepidation. I can happily report that this book was a terrific read and the perfect conclusion to the series. The sad, messed-up Louisa from book two is back to her happy-go-lucky self in this book as she arrives in the Upper East Side of New York to work as an assistant to Agnes Gopnik, the younger, Polish second wife of a super wealthy businessman. Continue reading

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng Review

I started 2018 reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I had heard great things about this book so was very happy to get this as a Christmas gift from my husband. I am on a great reading roll at the moment and this makes the third book in a row that I have devoured.

Little Fires Everywhere
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, ISBN 9781408709719, 338pp, Pub Sep 2017

At first I thought this was going to be a hard book to get into, but I dived into this without any effort and was sustained by a cast of interesting characters and a riveting plot that delved into the lives of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots,’ the conformers and the free spirits.

Set during the time of Clinton’s presidency in Shaker Heights, Cleveland, a meticulously planned town, it follows the lives of the golden Richardson family consisting of two parents and four teenagers. Into their lives comes Mia Warren and her teenager daughter, Pearl, who rent a house from the Richardsons. 

Mia is a struggling artist who moves from place to place and doesn’t like to be tied down. She has a mysterious past and I was pleasantly surprised when the story of her past was revealed. She is the opposite of Mrs Elena Richardson who was born and bred in Shaker Heights and likes everyone and everything to be in its place. 

Little Fires Everywhere is a story about teenagers, mothers, families, parenting, art, race, class, creativity and love, told from many perspectives. There’s also a court case woven into the story that will have you debating both sides as an affluent couple who can’t have a child of their own adopt an abandoned Chinese baby, only to have the birth mother come into their lives after a year and want her baby back. I couldn’t help but cheer at the outcome of this part of the plot, even though I felt for the other side.

I’ve never read any books by Celeste Ng before but I definitely will in the future. I can see why this book was the 2017 Winner of Best Fiction in the goodreads choice awards. If you haven’t already read it and you like quality fiction, give this a read.

Verdict: An absolutely compelling book worth a read.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Review

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is the second book in a row I’ve read with a protagonist named Eleanor (the other one was Eleanor & Park). And it was another book which I sped read over a couple of days.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, ISBN 9780008172114, 386pp, Pub May 2017

Set in Glasgow, the story is told from the point-of-view of Eleanor Oliphant. She is a 30 year old loner who lives by herself, works in a boring office job and sticks to a routine which sees her wear the same clothes every day and eat the same food. She thinks and behaves very differently from the social norm and is often perplexed by the people around her. A series of events happen which disrupts Eleanor’s ordered life and lets in other people, new experiences and dark memories from her childhood which she had been trying to suppress.

I haven’t encountered a character like Eleanor before. The way she thinks and acts throughout the book had me laughing, cringing and pitying her. I also cheered her on as she opened up more to people and life. People can be cruel to someone who marches to the beat of their own drum and at times this makes for squirmy reading. I wanted to pummel her bullies and at the same time shake her for being so clueless. That’s the measure of a good book when you get so invested in a character.

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The Wintercombe Series by Pamela Belle Review

If you are looking for a great historical fiction series packed with intrigue, family issues and a little bit of romance, then I have the series for you. I first discovered the Wintercombe series by Pamela Belle about fifteen years ago. I picked up Wintercombe in a second-hand book store and then later its sequel Herald of Joy. I lost both books in a house move and then spent years trying to find them again. To my delight, I discovered that both books were available as ebooks this year and I bought them immediately. And I also discovered book three A Falling Star and book four Treason’s Gift.

Wintercombe is set during the English civil war in the 17th century and tells the story of its namesake, Wintercombe, a beautiful manor house in Somerset where Puritan Lady Silence St Barbe lives with her two step-children Rachael and Nathaniel and three children Tabitha, Deb and William. Her Parliamentarian husband is off fighting in the war. Silence is the perfect Puritan wife to her much older husband and lives a quiet, godly existence.

The English Civil war has been raging for two years when a detachment of Cavaliers is sent to garrison at this country house. Not having anywhere to take her children, and not wishing to let her house and beloved gardens be destroyed by the enemy in her absence, Silence elects to stay for the occupation.

Captain Nick Hellier is the second-in-command of the enemy Royalist soldiers and is, at first, not someone Silence is willing to trust. But compared to the brutish Lieutenant-Colonel Ridgeley who is evil incarnate, Captain Hellier is mild mannered. He soon becomes someone Silence can go to for help, despite being an enemy, as he does his best to protect her and the children from Ridgeley’s wrath. Amidst all the turmoil of war, Silence begins to break free from the constraints around her and allow music, laughter and love into her life in the form of Nick. Continue reading

The Greatest Gift by Rachael Johns Review

The Greatest Gift by Rachael Johns
The Greatest Gift by Rachael Johns, ISBN 9781489241153, 432pp, pub Oct 2017

The Greatest Gift is the latest fiction release from Rachael Johns, an Australian author with a lot of fans in both the rural romance and women’s fiction (a phrase that bugs me, shouldn’t it just be fiction?) category. This book fits into the latter category. I picked this up because I was curious to see if I would like a new author and because the subject matter intrigued me.

The Greatest Gift is set in Sydney and the Hunter Valley in NSW and tells the story of two very different couples. Harper and Samuel Drummond are a career-driven married couple who don’t want children. Harper works as a successful radio host and Samuel is a lawyer who works long hours. Claire and Jasper Lombard are a married couple who run a hot air balloon business and would love a baby  but a bout of cancer as a child has left Claire infertile.

Harper begins to feel like something is missing in her life and when she interviews another couple who got pregnant after years of trying, thanks to an egg donor, she believes she’s found her purpose. She will give someone the greatest gift of all. Continue reading