A modern take on Cyrano. 3.5/5 stars.
Thank you to Headline for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.
Eve doesn’t have time for dating, but having watched her best friend and flatmate have her heart broken one too many times, she reluctantly volunteers to play her Cupid.
Max is too much of a hopeless romantic to find the algorithms of online dating anything other than clinical, but he lives with his romantically-challenged best friend who desperately needs his advice.
And after all, what are friends for?
As Eve and Max become more involved in their best friends’ relationship, they quickly realise there is a fine line between instruction and imitation, especially when they find they can’t stop thinking about their best friend’s date…
The premise of this book is great. It’s a modern-day take on Cyrano de Bergerac, and the use of text exchanges between the lovers is engaging and lively. The settings for the dates were well-described, and there was a pub that I – and probably most book-lovers – would love to visit. Aside from the romantic relationships, I particularly enjoyed the friendships, especially seeing a close friendship between two men (Max and Tom) depicted in first person.
However, I would warn those looking for a rom com, this is really more a story about friendship and dealing with loneliness, self-doubt and grief than a light love story.
An enjoyable cosy mystery with great characters. 4/5 stars.
Thank you to Penguin UK for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings.
But when a local property developer shows up dead, ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ find themselves in the middle of their first live case.
The four friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?
I was delighted to get a review copy of this book and overall I really enjoyed it. However, I do think the blurb is a little misleading: the “before it’s too late” line gives the impression that everyone at the retirement community is somehow in mortal peril or this is some sort of thriller. And it most definitely is not!
This is a cosy mystery which is more about the retirement village residents than the whodunnit. I enjoyed the focus on the older protagonists as they have all had interesting lives and are still making the most of their time. Elizabeth in particular is fascinating, and it was great how we find out bits about what she’s done in the past and are left to come to our own conclusions about exactly what her fomer line of work was.
An intriguing collection of murder mysteries in a clever frame. 4/5 stars.
Thank you to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.
All murder mysteries follow a simple set of rules. Grant McAllister, an author of crime fiction and professor of mathematics, once sat down and worked them all out.
But that was thirty years ago. Now he’s living a life of seclusion on a quiet Mediterranean island – until Julia Hart, a sharp, ambitious editor, knocks on his door. His early work is being republished and together the two of them must revisit those old stories: an author, hiding from his past, and an editor, keen to understand it.
But as she reads, Julia is unsettled to realise that there are things in the stories that don’t make sense. Intricate clues that seem to reference a real murder, one that’s remained unsolved for thirty years.
If Julia wants answers, she must triumph in a battle of wits with a dangerously clever adversary. But she must tread carefully: she knows there’s a mystery, but she doesn’t yet realise there’s already been a murder…
In Eight Detectives we are given a series of seven short murder mystery stories strung together by a unifiying narrative device.
And I liked the unifying device, as Julia and Grant talk about the book he wrote years ago, very much. It was clever and intriguing, including the use of mathematics to explain the various permutations of the plots. When the final twists are revealed (and there are quite a few!), I was impressed by just how much work had gone into the small details needed to set them all up.
Perfect mini-series material. 4/5 stars.
Thank you to Random House UK for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.
You never know where danger may come from…
6.45am. A sweltering London rush hour. And in the last 27 minutes, seven people have been murdered.
In a series of coordinated attacks, seven men and women across London have been targeted. For journalist Famie Madden, the horror unfolds as she arrives for the morning shift.
The victims have one thing in common: they make up the investigations team at the news agency where Famie works. The question everyone’s asking: what were they working on that could prompt such brutal devastation?
As Famie starts to receive mysterious messages, she must find out whether she is being warned of the next attack, or being told that she will be the next victim…
Knife Edge has a great premise for a contemporary political thriller. The protagonist arrives at work one morning to find that 7 of her colleagues have been murdered and no-one in the office knows why or whether they’ll also be targetted. In fact, one of the tensest scenes in the book is early on when the main character – Famie – and two of her colleagues are using London public transport to get home and don’t know whether anyone/everyone around them might be planning to kill them.
A great set-up leads to an emotional rollercoaster. 4/5 stars.
Thank you to Boldwood Books and the author for providing me with an e-copy of this book.
When Ava’s partner Will is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, the doctors give Will one chance to survive – an operation which means he will lose his recent memory. Ava begs him to take the chance, sure that she can cope with Will forgetting her. After all, they have something very special to live for.
But they are also keeping a heart-breaking secret, and if Will loses his memory, Ava will have to carry that secret alone.
Can they rebuild their love from scratch or will their secrets and past come between them? Will Ava really be a stranger when Will wakes up – or does the heart never really forget…
Giselle Green returns with a heart-breaking, deeply moving story of love, loss, and what it really means to be alive.
I read and enjoyed Dear Dad by Giselle Green back in 2016, so was delighted to have the opportunity to read her latest book, The Girl You Forgot.
The set-up here – explained without spoilers in the blurb above – is terrific. The heroine, Ava, has an almost impossible dilemma: can she continue to lie to the man she loves while regaining his love and trust?
I will apologise at this point for my review being fairly brief, but I do think your enjoyment of this book will be much greater the less you know about the secrets to be revealed throughout the story, so I’m going to do my best to avoid any and all spoilers. I’m following my usual policy: if it’s in the blurb, it’s fair game. Otherwise I’m keeping quiet!
Unbelievably charming. 5 shining Hollywood stars.
One of the bestselling memoirs of all time, David Niven’s The Moon’s a Balloon is an account of one of the most remarkable lives Hollywood has ever seen.
Beginning with the tragic early loss of his aristocratic father, then regaling us with tales of school, army and wartime hi-jinx, Niven shows how, even as an unknown young man, he knew how to live the good life.
But it is his astonishing stories of life in Hollywood and his accounts of working and partying with the legends of the silver screen – Lawrence Oliver, Vivien Leigh, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, James Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Marlene Dietrich, Noel Coward and dozens of others, while making some of the most acclaimed films of the last century – which turn David Niven’s memoir into an outright masterpiece.
An intimate, gossipy, heartfelt and above all charming account of life inside Hollywood’s dream factory, The Moon’s a Balloon is a classic to be read and enjoyed time and again.
I don’t read as much non-fiction as I feel I should, particularly biography and autobiography. So I was stepping outside my comfort zone when I picked up David Niven’s autobiography, taking a chance on it mostly because I’ve always found him charming in films (A Matter of Life and Death is one of my favourites).
And I’m very glad I made the effort because The Moon’s a Balloon is absolutely cracking. “Gossipy” doesn’t do this wonderful series of tales justice. Niven does apologise in the introduction for the name dropping that is to follow and he is not building up false expectations. Every time you think he can’t possibly name a bigger star, he does. Then when he can’t name anyone further up the pecking order of Hollywood royalty he’s rubbed shoulders with, he drops in real royalty and chats with Winston Churchill just for fun.
As meticulously researched as it is entertaining. Top stuff! 5 stars.
The (much shortened by me for the sake of brevity) blurb:
In this ambitious history, that spans the Bronze Age to the coming of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Greg Jenner assembles a vibrant cast of over 125 actors, singers, dancers, sportspeople, freaks, demigods, ruffians, and more, in search of celebrity’s historical roots. He reveals why celebrity burst into life in the early eighteenth century, how it differs to ancient ideas of fame, the techniques through which it was acquired, how it was maintained, the effect it had on public tastes, and the psychological burden stardom could place on those in the glaring limelight. DEAD FAMOUS is a surprising, funny, and fascinating exploration of both a bygone age and how we came to inhabit our modern, fame obsessed society.
I don’t read anywhere near as much non-fiction as fiction. This is simply because I can never read it as quickly and I often find my attention sliding away from the page. However, I really wanted to read Dead Famous because I’m a fan of Greg Jenner, particularly his BBC Podcast, You’re Dead to Me (it’s on BBC Sounds, please check it out, you won’t be sorry).
Jenner excels at making history accessible, entertaining and often funny. I chuckled many times while reading Dead Famous and once laughed out loud at such volume I made my kids jump! (It was at a particularly hilarious pun, if you’re wondering).
An entertaining office romance. 3/5 stars.
Thank you to Headline for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.
Samiah Brooks never thought she would be ‘that’ girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date reveals the painful truth: she’s been catfished by her three-timing jerk of a boyfriend.
Suddenly Samiah – along with the two other ‘girlfriends’, London and Taylor – have gone viral. Now the three new besties are making a six-month pact: no men, no dating, just time to focus on themselves.
This means Samiah can finally focus on her exciting career in app development – so having the deliciously sexy and distracting Daniel Collins walk into her office definitely isn’t part of her plan…
But is Daniel really boyfriend material – or is he simply too good to be true?
I must say first off that 3 stars is a good rating from me! I know some reviewers and authors see it as negative, but I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to fans of the genre.
Now that’s out of the way, The Boyfriend Project is a fun contemporary romance that has a lot going for it. I loved the opening which is described in the blurb above. I was particularly delighted that when the three women find they’ve been dating the same man they join forces and turn on him, rather than turning on each other. And then that they go on to become great friends and a mini support network for each other is wonderful.
We don’t need another hero.
Thank you to Picador/Pan Macmillan for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.
Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020
In A Thousand Ships, broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes retells the story of the Trojan War from an all-female perspective, for fans of Madeline Miller and Pat Barker.
This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them. ..
In the middle of the night, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of brutal conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over, and the Greeks are victorious.
The devastating consequences of the Trojan War stretch from Mount Olympus to Mount Ida, from the citadel of Troy to the distant Greek islands, and across oceans and sky in between. These are the stories of the women embroiled in that legendary war and its terrible aftermath, as well as the feud and the fatal decisions that started it all. . .
Powerfully told from an all-female perspective, in A Thousand Ships Natalie Haynes gives voices to the women, girls and goddesses who, for so long, have been silent.
It’s interesting that the blurb mentions Madeline Miller and Pat Barker. I’ve read The Song of Achilles and Circe (both by Miller) and The Silence of the Girls by Barker. I enjoyed A Thousand Ships more than the Barker but didn’t love it as much as either of Miller’s books.
Barker’s The Silence of the Girls disappointed me because I’d hoped it would retell events from The Iliad from the perspective of the female characters. But halfway through the narrative we switch from the female characters’ viewpoints to Achilles’, and I didn’t think we needed yet another male view on events. Thankfully, Haynes doesn’t do this in A Thousand Ships. Instead, we get an entirely female perspective as we skip between the stories of various characters featured in The Iliad (and, to a lesser extent, The Odyssey), including goddesses.
A great romantic short story.
In the summer of love, or rather of madness, a whole set of stories are emerging. But there is one that has got everyone talking. When Kurt decides to win back his ex-girlfriend with the help of a literary classic, he sets off a string of events that will build to a dramatic finale.
Having taken his long-suffering girlfriend for granted one too many times, Kurt finds himself dumped. When the usual heartfelt apologies and begging fail to win her back he decides to make a grand gesture. And that’s how he ends up reading from Wuthering Heights every day outside the local train station. But will it work?
This is a terrific, romantic short story. It’s something you could download and read on your lunchbreak or even in your tea break for you speed-readers out there. It’s well-written, flows beautifully and is peppered with some lovely comedic touches.