REVIEW: The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan

The Mill River Redemption, Darcie Chan, Books, Reading, Blog A Book Etc, Fiction, Sphere Publishing, Little Brown Books UK

The Back of the Book

Having unexpectedly lost her husband and lacking the means to support herself, Josie Di Santi and her two daughters take refuge in the small town of Mill River, to live with Josie’s aunt, Ivy. The sisters, Rose and Emily, are inseparable growing up – until a shocking tragedy tears them apart.

Years later, Rose and Emily return to Mill River for the reading of their mother’s will, where they learn that Josie would do anything to force their reconciliation: the sisters must move into neighbouring houses for the summer and work together to locate the key to Josie’s safe deposit box, which contains their inheritance. And so, left with no choice, Rose and Emily reluctantly begin their search. But in a place known for its magic and miracles, little do they know that an even greater treasure awaits them . . .

My Thoughts

This is a book that took some time for me to get into – you know the sort that you give yourself at least until you get past page 50 before you put it down for the first time. The one thing that gave me the extra push was that the publication date was looming and I was asked to post my review on this day (not set in stone thanks to the lovelies at Sphere!).

Yet another book that jumps from past to present is here in my lap and I cannot put it down. Way past the page 50 mark and I hooked entirely. The Di Santi sisters are quite a couple of characters both together and alone they really do shake things up. This book has most definitely reaffirmed that making assumptions and jumping to the wrong conclusion really can mess things up.

Rose

Mrs Materialistic with the ideal marriage, home and life – or so one would think. With a turbulent past that has sadly shaped her current life and possibly future Rose is on the war path to finding the buried treasure. With her brilliant son at her side and loathed sister next door Rose in effect locks herself away from the world and only comes out when she feels ‘calm’. What it takes to make her feel that ‘calm’ is shockingly heartbreaking as it eventually leads to a tragedy that nobody should have to face.

With nothing but disdain Rose tends to her sister and neighbours with a very long spoon. However she shows her soft side with her aunt Ivy and son Alex. If only everyone else was treated with such tenderness Rose would find it a lot easier to live in Mill River. She does not want to be there for long nor does she want to get to know any of the people who ‘never change’.

As with everyone Rose has a lot going on in her life and there is a point that even when you think you cannot stand her any more you as reader will want to slap her and then help her.

Emily

As she wafted into Mill River Emily bought with her not only her trusty Gussie-pup but an air of happiness and freedom. The polar opposite to her sister Emily looks kindly on the Mill River way of living and tends to love thy neighbour as one ‘should’. DIY queen that she is, Emily rolls up her sleeves and just gets on with life as if staying in her old home town was what she intended to do all along.

Although the olive branch she put out to her sister has been broken it is blatantly obvious that this hurts her and she wants her sister back. However being just as stubborn as her sibling next door cruel tricks and public brawls seem to be the way forward.

Going back to Emily’s entrance into town this is one girl you would not think hangs on to the past as she travels like a hobo with the clothes on her back and a few other worldly goods. But as with everyone else in the world something is on Emily’s mind and it is the reason why she and her sister do not get along.

Ivy

Firstly I have to say – I want an Aunt Ivy. Not only does this elderly dame know how to have a laugh but she has many levels of serious that her advice rings true from start to finish. She is there for both of the girls throughout their tragic ordeal and is quite a substantial character in the story. Of course Ivy has her own back story but that is something that you will just have to find out.

Overall

By the time I reached the end of this book not only did I almost drown from shock and drop the book whilst reading in the bath my heart melted. This is a story that as mentioned before reaffirms that jumping to conclusions and making assumptions can just make trouble. Not only that but it reminds the reader that family really does mean everything and if you have the chance forgive now and work the rest out later.

There are a couple of other characters in the book which really do sizzle things up and you will no doubt find out when you pick up this book. Once I got over the initial unsure stage and blew past page 50 this story had me hooked and as I said almost drowning in the bath to finish it.

The Mill River Redemption was sent to me by Sphere as an ARC. My review contains only my opinion and nothing written has been influenced due to the book being a gift.

Rating

rating3* Mediocre Beans

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: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Back of the Book

A love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

My Thoughts

This book has been on my ‘To Be Read’ list for some time now. Any book about books is a hit with me especially with a bit of romance thrown in and seeing as it starts of with just that I was hooked. However being a Young Adult book it was slightly out of my territory but this one I would go beyond!

With Christmas around the corner Lily and Dash find themselves respectively alone. One by choice and the other by partial abandonment.

Lily – An outcast to everyone else but a superstar in my head. For a young girl to walk out in an outfit that she likes instead of trying to fit in with the ‘in crowd’ takes a lot of guts and it is something that I would never have had the balls to do back in the day. With her trusty red book she feels safe and by sending messages to and fro with Dash a friendship/love affair happens. In the days before mobile phones and internet is this what happened. Well I would hope it still happens.

Dash - 16-year-old supposed Snarly Adonis with a turbulent home life that he takes in his stride and just gets on with things from such an adult perspective. The one thing I loved about reading Dash’s parts of the book is that he is the perfect compliment to Lily. Where Lily constantly questions herself, he also does however seems to have the solution for most things and comes to these conclusions very concisely.

The Ending – Of course I am not going to tell you. What I will say is that for a book that I wrote off due to genre I can safely say I won’t be doing that again. It was so great I stayed up until 2am reading it.

Having never read any books from either author I was a total blank canvas to their writing. Now that isn’t to say that I will go crazy and read everything they have written. However if one of their books does cross my path in the future I will not be so quick to dismiss it!

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.