REVIEW: For Once in My Life by Marianne Kavanagh

For Once in My Life, Marianne Kavanagh, Books, Reading, Review, Fiction, Relationships, Blog A Book Etc

Back of the Book

Tess and George are soul mates. They’ve just never met each other.

They both live in London. They went to the same university. But throughout their twenties, despite their shared friends’ best efforts, they never come face to face. And now they’re stuck with partners who don’t understand them and jobs that make them unhappy, always settling for second best.

Finally they meet at a friend’s thirtieth birthday party. Can they disentangle themselves from their former lives and grab hold of their one chance to be together? Or is it too late?

My Thoughts

This is one book that I would like to talk about each character however as there are quite a few it would probably be one of the longest posts I have ever written. So in the spirit of getting to the point there will be two sides with many overlapping points as that is just how the story goes. The two characters that I will be discussing at what may seem length will be the main focus of Tess and George.

Firstly let me say when I got this book a couple of weeks ago I honestly did not think it would be as good as it was. Also that the writer would be such a gem. Check out her site she is just fabulous.

Tess

A vintage loving twenty something who seems to be consistently on the edge of a mid-life crisis way before her time. As timid as a church mouse, many people if given the chance would walk all over her. This may seem incredibly unfair to say but she is a bit of a doormat. Although with her soft personality she is a hopeless romantic who believes in soul mates and what seems to be eternal love. With this I can identify. It seems that whenever this is admitted there is always someone waiting to ‘just let you know’ that it is a crock of ish!

George

A piano playing jazz loving band manager who although living in the shadows or pretty much everything around him inside wants to push his way to the top of the tree and play for the stars. His belief is that his band really have what it takes if they put the work in. Now this is not something to be sneered at, if people had this general work ethic things might actually get done around a workplace rather than complacency taking over. George is an entity unto himself – especially when he starts playing and loses himself in the music.

Both Tess & George have a group of friends who cross paths many times that I almost couldn’t keep up with the who’s who. But once in the story it was hard to get lost. Each character was loveable in their own way and you just couldn’t help but feel attached and slightly protective.

My, my, what a tangled web we weave! 

As their joint set of friends have endless attempts at getting Tess & George to meet the years pass by with mounting speed. As the years pass life moves on however for Tess & George the pace seems glacial. They manage to lose themselves in other peoples lives and dreams and leave themselves until last. Property is exchanged, a wedding is had and eventually a child crops up. Despite all of these goings on Tess and George still manage to miss out on the wonderment of each other.

It gets to the point where I was sitting on the edge of my chair urging them to somehow bump into each other. Of course it didn’t happen until it was too late – or so I thought. I will not be giving anything away as to what happens between the two. Whether it is a happy or unhappy ending is completely up to you – but I would advice you to read it.

The book is heavily based around the story of soul mates and relationships which really is something that is close to home with me. One more reason to fall in love with the book. Everyone seems to be connected in one way or another and as you go through the book the links will start to fall into place and even some of which are quite unexpected. A story full of the trials and tribulations of real love.

When I reached the end of the book although it is all left to your imagination I appreciated this as it was up to me to concoct whatever story I thought would be appropriate at that point. This is the part of the book that really tests whether you are an optimist or pessimist.

Rating

rating4* worthy fix

REVIEW: The Unfinished Symphony of You & Me by Lucy Robinson

The Unfinished Symphony of You & Me by Lucy Robinson

The Back of the Book

Sally is a woman of many (hidden) talents. She’s been working as wardrobe mistress at the Royal Opera House, not telling a soul she’s a damn good singer. But then, she’s only able to sing if she’s shut inside her wardrobe, where it’s safe.

But she made a promise to her cousin Fiona that she would audition for Opera School and for complicated reasons, she can’t get out of it – even though she’d rather claw her own eyes out than sing in public. Sally has a lot to learn, but will she figure out that stage fright is about more than forgetting the words? And that perhaps her real problems lie very much closer to home?

My Thoughts

There were so many thoughts whirling around in my head whilst reading and once I had finally closed after the last word that I had to actually write them all down.

Let me go through my thoughts character by character!

Sally – A hidden talent with a lot to give as far as caring for loved ones and those around. Scared witless of being heard and seen by most of the general public and this includes friends and family. Sally is the sort of person that would have been told as a child that ‘Children are to be seen and not heard’.

In a way Sally’s crippling fear of being heard is very sad as it can really spoil something special. However there is a point in life where you just have to forget about others and think about yourself. The trouble with this is that not everyone feels that way. Poor girl. On top of everything else having to deal with her tear away of a cousin just WOW!

Sally’s Parents – Throughout the book I just wanted to slap her mother and then shake her dad straight after just to wake him up from his life long comatose state. Unfortunately for Sally her parents seem to have taken to being in hiding and push it to the extremes.

Fiona – The tear away cousin! Her character at the beginning of the book was great as it was vibrant and exciting. However after a while it begins to wear a bit thin and she started to really annoy me. Sometimes I would think – stop being so selfish, wake up and take a HARD look around you and see what you are doing to the people who love and care for you. There is something that happens in this book that is MASSIVE and is based around this character but as I am not in the habit of giving away spoilers I will say ‘READ THE BOOK’ it really is worth it. By the time it happens you will probably have figured it out which will make you really feel like part of the story.

Brian – An old friend of Sally from her days as a wardrobe mistress Brian is someone who she can trust and really be herself around which is lovely. Brian is like the father figure that Sally has always wanted as he is there rooting for her and telling her how proud he is throughout her time at Opera School. Without being forceful Brian is the one that keeps Sally grounded. You just have to LOVE him.

Jan Borsos – When you read the book you will realise why I am using his full name and will forever more! This fabulous specimen of man/character is one that if was in film would just light up the screen with his presence. The parts of the book that Jan Borsos appeared just felt exciting let alone making the writing feel a lot more fast paced than it probably should have been. His character was a real lightning bolt. He certainly jazzed up Sally’s life. Underground (Literally!) Hip Hop and Rap night in a converted public toilet sounds awesome right?!

Julian – Well where do I start with this one. For some reason this character made me think of Christian Grey! If there is anyone out there that has read this book then please do let me know if that happened to you. If you haven’t read the book yet – read it and let me know! Julian is the other half of this book and whilst reading about him and reading him next to Sally you cannot help but love him. There were points where my mouth literally hung open at the dramas surrounding him. I will reassure you however my jaw is now back intact.

This book made me swoon, gasp, laugh and cry – most definitely worth the reading time which did not take that long at all. The short reading time was due to me not wanting to put the book down. It really made me think if life was like this book and chivalry was not all but desecrated then maybe the whole opposites attracting may work out.

As I have never read any of Robinson’s books I really am on the look out for another one. Her style of writing is fresh, clean and enjoyable. Her sense of humour is not only relevant but piques interest for the rest of the book but doesn’t make you think too much. Perfect chick lit summer book with an edge of depth thrown in for good measure. When you read this book be prepared for romance in epic proportions.

Where is my opera singing Mr Perfect?!
I really should go to the Opera and Ballet!

Rating

rating4* worthy fix

Thank you to the lovelies at Penguin Books UK for sending me this advanced copy and sorry it has taken me so long to read and review. 

REVIEW: The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

lemon-grove

Before I get started with this review let me tell you a bit about how I came across this book. After sifting through various sites online I came across the fabulous Books on the Underground. Now this is not a boring website – no, no! Books on the Underground is run by Hollie, she is friendly, helpful and ready to take this project to a new level. Spreading the bookish love by leaving little treats for the general public on the London Underground is only part of her arsenal of tricks – there is a book club now and being of part of it is just fabulous. Sadly I was unable to make it to the meet for the discussion of the book I am about to review. From what I gather however the word on the end of most tongues was ‘unconvincing’. We shall see . . .

Check out Books on the Underground

The Back of the Book says

Each summer, Jenn and her husband Greg return to Deia, on Mallorca’s dramatic west coast. This year the arrival of Emma, Jenn’s stepdaughter, and her new boyfriend Nathan threatens to upset their equilibrium. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn. As she is increasingly seduced by Nathan’s youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession begins to blur. What follows is a highly charged liaison that puts lives and relationships in jeopardy. For Jenn, after this summer, nothing can ever be the same.

My Thoughts

From E.L. James to Sylvia Day the mummy porn section of the book aisle has expanded ten fold over the past year and a bit. This book would fit nicely in that area. With a softer side sexual exploration this slightly unbelievable tale of a step mother who seems to have tried her very best to fit into the family but goes off the rails. Now when I say off the rails do not get the wrong impression of a party animal young mum, think more along the lines of cradle snatching older lady. Be clear in your thoughts that I am not saying that it has not happened in reality and if it did then it is by no means my business (unless it is my son!) but the way the storyline pans out just makes you think out loud ‘REALLY?!’. This however did not make the book a disaster.

The first couple of pages with their descriptive text pulls you into a dream like state of fantasy with the sun beating down on you whilst you shelter in the titled Lemon Grove and flick through your latest read. The only thing on your mind being where you are going to get the next glass of Chianti and a recent dinner reservation. Then suddenly she remembers the imminent arrival of step-daughter Emma and her new beau Nathan. Big question being – when did she get old enough to have boyfriends joining her on holiday. Asthma pump at the ready and Jenn is suddenly wondering if the invite was such a good idea.

Enter sultry, sulky young Emma and her ‘Adonis’ beau Nathan and all of a sudden tranquility turns into turbulence. Not only is Jenn gobsmacked at the womanly sight of her step-daughter but her knickers need ringing out after the young pound of flesh known as Nathan parades around like the poolside is his catwalk. After much deliberation the debauchery ensues and Jenn has plunged into a seedy world that she must keep quiet and lives in fear of her nearest and maybe not so dear finding out. Can it continue? Well that is why you have to read the book.

Helen Walsh did well here, however it was just slightly too unconvincing with the description Nathan’s ultra manly physique when he was otherwise described as a young boy. Apart from this be prepared for a sizzler of a summer read that you may need a spare pair of pants and if you in the singles club your little black book may get a dusting off!

Rating

rating3* Mediocre Beans

REVIEW: The Vintage Girl (Swept Off Her Feet) by Hester Browne

The Vintage Girl by Hester Browne

The Back of the Book

When Evie Nicholson is asked to visit Kettlesheer Castle in Scotland to archive the family heirlooms, she jumps at the chance. Evie’s passion for antiques means that, for her, the castle is a treasure trove of mysteries just waiting to be uncovered.

But in each heirloom lies a story, and in the course of her investigations Evie stumbles upon some long-buried family secrets. Add handsome, gloomy heir Robert McAndrew and a traditional candlelit gala to the mix, and Evie’s heart is sent reeling with an enthusiasm that may just extend beyond the Kettlesheer silver…

My Thoughts

It has been a while since I finished listening to this particular book. I guess the best place to start is at the beginning.

This book may be better known as Swept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne. The writing was deliciously sweet and listening to the book gave it a completely different dynamic. My bug bear with audio books is that they take the imagination out of reading. When you pick up a book and really get stuck in the voices that you have in your head are yours and only that. When audio takes over you just have to go with it or stop listening. Luckily the reader was delightful and put on a variety of voices that fit the bill perfectly.

Evie is a thirty year old hopeless romantic who loves everything art, vintage, history and quite a bit of old tat. Everything has a back story which fascinates Evie endlessly. Driving her boss mad buying on a whim and hoping that someone will see the beauty that she has seen. Evie lands the opportunity of a lifetime (for Evie!) and she heads up to the beautiful Scottish Highlands. Her sisters other halves family live in the most beautiful (from description) castle in the middle of nowhere. Not everyone can say that they have been a welcomed family guest in a castle. Well some may be able to but I can safely say that I am not one of them.

Whilst taking in all of the beauty of Kettlesheer’s glory the family descend and we meet Duncan and Ingrid a pair that can only be described as nothing other than chalk and cheese. With Duncan’s hefty outbursts and Ingrid’s quite becoming conversation they really are a couple that if I met would be in awe. They say opposites attract and this a testament to exactly that.

This is the point where I just cannot forget Robert McAndrew. You will get to know throughout the story that there is some serious chemistry between Evie and Robert. Quite the modern young scotsman in London, a family man at heart but with his own life and outlook on it. A man that most woman seem to want these days – damn fiction! Between the reeling (dancing!) and shuffling through family heirlooms the build up of sexual tension is ferocious and you will most likely like myself scream at the pair of them to just make something happen and SOON!

There are lots of other delightful twists and turns throughout the book that if you like most chick lit you will most definitely enjoy.

Overall this book is worth the read and I would recommend it as a holiday read.

Thank you to Quercus books for sending me the lovely book and sparking my interest in the first place :D

Rating

rating3*

Mediocre Beans