Book Review – Stranger by David Bergen @Duckbooks

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About the Book

32505356Íso Perdido, a young Guatemalan woman, works at a fertility clinic at Ixchel, named for the Mayan goddess of creation and destruction. Íso tends to the rich women who visit the clinic for the supposed conception-enhancing properties of the local lake. She is also the lover of Dr. Mann, the American doctor in residence. When an accident forces the doctor to leave Guatemala abruptly, Íso is abandoned, pregnant. After the birth, tended to by the manager of the clinic, the baby disappears.

Determined to reclaim her daughter, Íso follows a trail north, eventually crossing illegally into a United States where the rich live in safe zones, walled away from the indigent masses. Travelling without documentation, and with little money, Íso must penetrate this world, and in this place of menace and shifting boundaries, she must determine who she can trust and how much, aware that she might lose her daughter forever.

My Review
This book turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, as I wasn’t too sure if I was going to enjoy it at first. The simple prose grew on me, and I couldn’t put it down in the end, desperately wanting to discover what happened to Íso and her baby.

As a mother I was rooting for Íso the whole time, although I did wonder what her plan was.  I was very glad to discover that she wasn’t a ‘bad-ass’ woman on the rampage, but a young mother who was quietly determined to get her stolen baby back.

The description of her journey to the United States was so clear in my mind’s eye as I was reading and felt for her as she struggled to keep out of harm’s way. I enjoyed meeting the different characters she met along the way, making me wonder how I would behave in each situation.

I definitely recommend it if you prefer quiet determined characters rather than super hero ‘badass’ types.

Thanks so much to Duckworth Overlook for my paperback advanced reading copy.

Stranger A Novel by David Bergen is published on 7 September 2017 by Duckworth Overlook.

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Music Monday: What Happened To The Love? by The Heavy

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musicmondayMusic Monday is a meme started by Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek and I thought I’d join in this week as I’ve really enjoyed listening to The Heavy’s album Hurt &The Merciless in the car this week.

 

The Heavy – What happened To The Love?

                                               

We had that thang that everybody want
Good times and hearts that beat real strong
Nine times outta ten you give me what I want
Cos we’d make a little love
Kick it from the night till morn

‘Cos you made me a believer (made me a believer)
You made feel strong
Said you made me a believer (made me a believer)
Made me carry on…

But what happened to the love, love, love?
What happened to the love, love, love?
Tell me what happened to the love, love, love, love, love, love, love?
What happened to the love, love, love?
What happened to the love, love, love?
Tell me what happened to the love, love, love, love, love, love, love?

I know I know that I should have seen the signs
But I knew what I was feeling
I knew when I feel you could be mine
Temptation rub sin
In the eyes of the blind
So I need you be sincere
I need to stop this face from crying

‘Cause you made me a believer (made me a believer)
You made feel strong
Said you made me a believer (made me a believer)
And then you made me carry on

But what happened to the love, love, love?
What happened to the love, love, love?
Tell me what happened to the love, love, love, love, love, love, love?
What happened to the love, love, love?
What happened to the love, love, love?
Tell me what happened to the love, love, love, love, love, love, love?

 

 

Book Review – What She Left by Rosie Fiore

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About The Book

35109182

 

Helen Cooper has a charmed life. She’s beautiful, accomplished, organised – the star parent at the school. Until she disappears.

But Helen wasn’t abducted or murdered. She’s chosen to walk away, abandoning her family, husband Sam, and her home. Where has Helen gone, and why? What has driven her from her seemingly perfect life? What is she looking for? Sam is tormented by these questions, and gradually begins to lose his grip on work and his family life. He sees Helen everywhere in the faces of strangers. He’s losing control.

But then one day, it really is Helen’s face he sees…

 

My Review

I was intrigued after reading the first few chapters through Readers First ‘first look’, and then won a copy to read and review. I couldn’t wait to find out what had happened to Helen, and why she walked away from a seemingly perfect life.

The story unfolds through the different points of view, of Sam, Helen’s husband, Miranda his eldest daughter, and Lara a single mum at Miranda’s school. I confess that I skimmed Sam’s chapters sometimes as he really annoyed me. I even ended up shouting out loud at him on quite a few occasions. Good job I was at home and not in a café having a coffee!!

I enjoyed Lara’s part of the story as I liked her and felt a lot of sympathy for her situation. Miranda’s version of events was very well done even though I didn’t like her.

Helen’s point of view was rather sparse and only really appears towards the last third of the book, when you find out why and how she disappeared. I definitely would’ve enjoyed reading more about her, as I admired her, and her ability to just up sticks and walk away.

I would recommend this if you enjoy character driven domestic dramas, as there is a lot in this book.

 

Throwback Thursday – The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

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Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favourites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them 🙂! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. If you’d just link back to her @ It’s Book Talk she’d so appreciate it.

 

My choice this week is: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

From Goodreads:

Paperback, 396 pages
Published July 12th 2012 by Hesperus Press

13486632It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not… Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century. Already a huge best-seller across Europe, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a fun and feel-good book for all ages.

 

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this book for Waterstones many years ago, and can still remember how it made laugh out loud on numerous occasions. If you enjoyed A Man Called Ove and Forrest Gump you’ll definitely enjoy this.

 

 

Wandering Wednesday

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Wandering Wednesday is a bookish meme hosted by Hayley Reviews allowing Wanderlust and love of books that enhance that feeling. “There’s no real specific, I just want to create a meme that can get us wandering and sharing books and ideas etc. So post and #WanderingWednesday and please please link back to me.”

 

27180577When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries.

What is the secret to their success? Are happy Danes born, or made? Helen decides there is only one way to find out: she will give herself a year, trying to uncover the formula for Danish happiness.

From childcare, education, food and interior design to SAD, taxes, sexism and an unfortunate predilection for burning witches, The Year of Living Danishly is a funny, poignant record of a journey that shows us where the Danes get it right, where they get it wrong, and how we might just benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves.

This was a random library find that I absolutely loved, and thoroughly recommend if you’re looking for an easy to read non-fiction book, with lots of laugh out loud moments.

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Monday

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Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off! Don’t forget to link back to her blog and feel free to add your links to the comments on her post.

 

226858Do you ever really know your mother, your daughter, the people in your family? In this rich and rewarding new novel by the beloved bestselling author of Talk Before Sleep and The Pull of the Moon, a reunion between two sisters and their mother reveals how the secrets and complexities of the past have shaped the lives of the women in a family.

Ginny Young is on a plane, en route to see her mother, whom she hasn’t seen or spoken to for thirty-five years. She thinks back to the summer of 1958, when she and her sister, Sharla, were young girls. At that time, a series of dramatic events–beginning with the arrival of a mysterious and sensual next-door neighbour–divided the family, separating the sisters from their mother. Moving back and forth in time between the girl she once was and the woman she’s become, Ginny at last confronts painful choices that occur in almost any woman’s life, and learns surprising truths about the people she thought she knew best.

 

A very good friend introduced me to Elizabeth Berg’s writing many years ago and I devoured as many of her books that I could find in the library. Unfortunately the library didn’t have all of them and I had to stop. This has been on my Goodreads shelf for years and I’m pleased that it still looks intriguing enough for me to want to read it sometime.

Down the TBR Hole Part 7

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down the tbr hole middleFrom an idea by  Lia @ Lost in a Story and as my tbr over on Goodreads is now toppling over and is definitely in need of some serious de-cluttering!

Anyway, it works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

 

The Books

The Potter’s Field by Andrea Camilleri Inspector Montalbano #13

13171249Witty and entertaining, the Montalbano novels by Andrea Camilleri-a master of the Italian detective story-have become favourites of mystery fans everywhere. In this latest instalment, an unidentified corpse is found near Vigàta, a town known for its soil rich with potter’s clay. Meanwhile, a woman reports the disappearance of her husband, a Colombian man with Sicilian origins who turns out to be related to a local mobster. Then Inspector Montalbano remembers the story from the Bible-Judas’ betrayal, the act of remorse, and the money for the potter’s field, where those of unknown or foreign origin are to be buried-and slowly, through myriad betrayals, finds his way to the solution to the crime.

I’ve read a few in this series but not in order as they were library books. I’d definitely read more as they’re laugh out loud funny, but I remember the plot from watching it a while back.

Verdict: Remove

Carte Blanche by Carlo Luccarelli

937098

 

April 1945, Italy. The final days of the Fascist Republic. World War II is nearing it’s frantic conclusion. The regime’s days are numbered, it’s disgraced leaders know it, and their quibbling over pieces of the post-war pie is getting more desperate by the minute. Commissario De Luca has been handed a murder investigation that will draw him into the private lives of the rich, privileged, and powerful. With Mussolini’s house of cards ready to collapse, he faces a world mired in sadistic sex, dirty money, drugs, and murder.

I don’t remember adding this one and I’m not keen on this description

Verdict: Remove

The Murdered House by Pierre Magnan

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One dark night in the winter of 1896, in remote upper Provence, a family is brutally massacred. Only a three-week-old baby miraculously survives. In 1920, the orphan, Seraphin Monge, finally returns home from the war to pursue the truth. Haunted by the image of his mother’s dying moments, he turns on the house that has seen such misery, destroying it stone by stone. As the walls crumble, the killers’ identities are laid bare and his anger turns to vengeance. But for every murder Seraphin plots, another hand silently executes it in his place.

 

Definitely too creepy for me.

Verdict: Remove

Southern Seas by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán

22931292Barcelona Detective Pepe Carvalho’s radical past catches up with him when a powerful businessman–a patron of artists and activists–is found dead after going missing for a year.
In search of the spirit of Paul Gauguin, Stuart Pedrell–eccentric Barcelona businessman, construction magnate, dreamer, and patron of poets and painters–disappeared not long after announcing plans to travel to the South Pacific.
A year later he is found stabbed to death at a construction site in Barcelona. Gourmand gum shoe Pepe Carvalho is hired by Pedrell’s wife to find out what happened. Carvalho, a jaded former communist, must travel through circles of the old anti-Franco left wing on the trail of the killer. But with little appetite for politics, Carvalho also leads us on a tour through literature, cuisine, and the criminal underbelly of Barcelona in a typically brilliant twist on the genre by a Spanish master.

I was obviously going through a big international crime reading phase when I added this!

Verdict: Remove

 

Far To Go by Alison Pick

10248165Pavel and Anneliese Bauer are affluent, secular Jews, whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of the German forces in Czechoslovakia. Desperate to avoid deportation, the Bauers flee to Prague with their six-year-old son, Pepik, and his beloved nanny, Marta. When the family try to flee without her to Paris, Marta betrays them to her Nazi boyfriend. But it is through Marta’s determination that Pepik secures a place on a Kinder-transport, though he never sees his parents or Marta again.
Inspired by Alison Pick’s own grandparents who fled their native Czechoslovakia for Canada during the Second World War, FAR TO GO is a deeply personal and emotionally harrowing novel.

I’m still interested in this book as it’s a time in history that fascinates me.

Verdict: Keep

 

Annabel by Kathleen Winter

7984373In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret—the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and their trusted neighbour and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boy’s female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as “Annabel,” is never entirely extinguished.

When Wayne finally escapes the confines of his home town and settles in St. John’s, the anonymity of the city grants him the freedom to confront his dual identity. His ultimate choice will once again call into question the integrity and allegiance of those he loves most.

Verdict: Keep

In the Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda


10291970If you hold a wish up high, any wish, just in front of your forehead, then life will always be worth living.

One night before putting him to bed, Enaiatollah’s mother tells him three things: don’t use drugs, don’t use weapons, don’t steal. The next day, the ten-year old Afghan wakes up to find she is gone. He is on the border of Pakistan and he is all alone.
In a remarkable true story, Italian novelist Fabio Geda describes Enaiatollah’s remarkable five-year journey from Afghanistan to Italy. His ordeal takes him through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Greece, enduring unimaginable hardships and challenges. Enaiatollah’s engaging voice is brilliantly captured by Geda, and his search for a place to call home becomes a universal story of courage in the face of fear.

I still want to get hold of this book.

Verdict: Keep

 

Patty Jane’s House of Curls by Lorna Landvik

16451

 

After Patty Jane’s husband leaves her, she and her irrepressible sister, Harriet, open a neighborhood beauty parlour–complete with live harp music and Norwegian baked goods. It’s a warm hearted place where good friends share laughter, tears and comfort. A funny, poignant first novel about the bonds between women, says the Houston Chronicle.

 

 

Sorry but the live harp music puts me off lol

Verdict: Remove

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik

228271The women of Freesia Court are convinced that there is nothing good coffee, delectable desserts, and a strong shoulder can’t fix. Laughter is the glue that holds them together—the foundation of a book group they call AHEB (Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons), an unofficial “club” that becomes much more. It becomes a lifeline. Holding on through forty eventful years, there’s Faith, a lonely mother of twins who harbours a terrible secret that has condemned her to living a lie; big, beautiful Audrey, the resident sex queen who knows that with good posture and an attitude you can get away with anything; Merit, the shy doctor’s wife with the face of an angel and the private hell of an abusive husband; Kari, a wise woman with a wonderful laugh who knows the greatest gifts appear after life’s fiercest storms; and finally, Slip, a tiny spitfire of a woman who isn’t afraid to look trouble straight in the eye. This stalwart group of friends depicts a special slice of American life, of stay-at-home days and new careers, of children and grandchildren, of bold beginnings and second chances, in which the power of forgiveness, understanding, and the perfectly timed giggle fit is the CPR that mends broken hearts and shattered dreams.

I don’t fancy this at all.

Verdict: Remove

 

The Unreliable Life of Harry the Valet: The Great Victorian Jewel Thief by Duncan Hamilton

10717661In October 1898, on route to Paris’ Gare du Nord station, the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland’s jewels were stolen from her train carriage. More than 40 pieces, worth nearly £2m today, disappeared that night and the perpetrator along with them.

It would become one of the most widely reported heists of the late Victorian era, but what no one knew was that the man who committed this most daring and well planned theft had already committed nine almost identical crimes.

A man who wore bespoke suits and handmade shoes; who used a dozen pseudonyms to dust over his tracks; who belonged to three smart London clubs and lived in the luxury of West End hotels; whose staple diet was champagne and whisky; who was pursued by London’s top detectives for five and a half years and – by their own admission – ‘proved smarter’ than them; and who fell so much in love with a women who he would steal for and lie for but who would eventually betray him.

The true story of the most notorious Victorian Jewel thief, The Unreliable Life of Harry the Valet has all the hallmarks of the finest detective fiction, but has romance at its heart and a love story which endured on Harry’s part for the rest of his life, despite ultimately destroying him.

Sounds good but my shelves are too big!

Verdict: Remove

 

I haven’t done one of these posts for ages and I really must do more, especially if I manage to remove 7 books at a time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday – The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth

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Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favourites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them 🙂! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. If you’d just link back to her @ It’s Book Talk she’d so appreciate it.

 

My choice this week is: The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth

From Goodreads:

Paperback, 422 pages
Published April 7th 2011 by Arrow (first published 1972)

10774517

Can you forgive the past?

It’s 1963 and a young German reporter has been assigned the suicide of a holocaust survivor. The news story seems straightforward, this is a tragic insight into one man’s suffering. But a long hidden secret is discovered in the pages of the dead man’s diary.

What follows is life-and-death hunt for a notorious former concentration camp-commander, a man responsible for the deaths of thousands, a man as yet unpunished.

 

 

I read this a few years ago even though it was originally published in 1972. I must admit that I’d always I considered anything by Frederick Forsyth to be very male orientated and something I wouldn’t enjoy reading. Well I was very pleased to be proved wrong, as it was a brilliant thriller with such an unexpected twist.

Book Review – Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

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About the Book

51KyHLzuqmLTHEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s
golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.
NOW
It’s been ten years since Ellie
disappeared, but Laurel has never given up
hope of finding her daughter.

And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet. Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter.
Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away. Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age. And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? Who still has secrets to hide?

My Thoughts

I loved this dark, creepy,  latest novel from one of my favourite authors. I was hooked from the first page right through to the last.

What I love about Lisa Jewell’s books is the way she writes and develops such believable characters and scenarios. I feel that I could  be reading about my neighbours, ordinary people that I past on the street everyday who I know nothing about. Her world building is so strong that I can see everything so clearly in my mind’s eye as I get slowly absorbed into her books.

Then She Was Gone, was slightly different in that I got into this book so fast that I was quite surprised by the speed of the plot. I enjoyed the telling of the story from the different characters, and the flitting between the past and present definitely added to the tension throughout. The mystery of what happened to Ellie is slowly but surely revealed with a such a force that I felt emotionally overwhelmed by the last page.

It’s a book that will definitely stay with me for sometime and I will be reading again in the future.

If you like a creepy, dark read that’ll you make your flesh creep then this is a book for you.

I received an Arc through NetGalley, Random House UK, Cornerstone but actually read my own copy that I’d pre-ordered from Waterstones.

 

Stacking the Shelves

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Stacking The Shelves is hosted at Tynga’s Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

 

I found both of these on NetGalley. Fierce Kingdom is a ‘Read Now’ and The Devil’s Claw is a sample.

 

I downloaded both of these Kindle freebies via social media.

 

Finally, I almost resisted the lure of free books whilst volunteering at the library, only coming home with an audiobook on Monday and a non fiction book on Friday.

What have you been adding to your shelves this week?