All That She Can See

All That She Can See

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

On The Other Side

Synopsis:

Feelings are part of life – feelings are life. If you take away what people feel, you take away anything meaningful. Wanting to diminish the evil in this world is a good cause, one I have fought for the majority of my life, but not like this . . . 

Cherry has a hidden talent. She can see things other people can’t and she decided a long time ago to use this skill to help others. As far as the rest of the town is concerned she’s simply the kind-hearted young woman who runs the local bakery, but in private she uses her gift to add something special to her cakes so that after just one mouthful the townspeople start to feel better about their lives. They don’t know why they’re drawn to Cherry’s bakery – they just know that they’re safe there and that’s how Cherry likes it. She can help them in secret and no one will ever need to know the truth behind her gift.

And then Chase arrives in town and threatens to undo all the good Cherry has done. Because it turns out she’s not the only one who can see what she sees . . . 

Thoughts:

Ooh. I find Carrie’s books incredibly hard to review. I don’t want to come across like I’m judging her because she has such an internet presence. It’s clear that Carrie works hard towards her goals. I sometimes feel annoyed that she gets judged because of who she is and not on her writing itself. Sure, her internet presence has to help in securing her book deals, but she did spend the time on her books. They’re not ghost written. So surely, we as reviewers, should give her a fair chance? That’s what I like to do with every author regardless of their ‘fame.’

All That She Can See has an interesting premise. It centres around Cherry who is a baker (I cringe a little at Cherry being a baker’s name) but she’s not just any baker. Cherry has a hidden talent. She can put her feelings into her creations and help others to erase their bad feelings. Once people have devoured Cherry’s creation, they start to feel better. People are always drawn back to Cherry’s shop, but they don’t know why. Cherry moves on to different towns when she feels she has done her job. Everything seems to be going well, until Chase appears on the scene. He threatens to undo all the good that Cherry has done.

At the start of reading this book, I was all for it. I was seeing 5 stars in its future. It was magical, whimsical and so easy to read. It reminded me of one of my favourites for magical realism, Cecelia Ahern. It was charming and a little silly but so easy to read. Then… the second half of the book just completely lost it for me. It felt like a different book entirely. I didn’t mind the story line in the second half, but it just seemed so different and disconnected than what came before. It didn’t fit and I found myself losing interest in the story which was a great shame as I was so invested at the start.

Carrie’s writing style won’t be for everyone, but I found it pleasant enough and easy to read. The book didn’t take me long to read at all. It’s engaging enough, even with my niggles about the plot line. I think once again, Carrie’s book is being billed as adult fiction, but to me it still screams YA. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, I’m a huge lover of YA.

To me, All That She Can See was a wonderful, imaginative idea, but the two different stories did not gel together. I would have preferred either one or the other not a mismatch of both. If one story had been focused on, then the characters and relationships could have been developed more and this book would definitely have been rated higher than I have done.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

I can see this book dividing a lot of readers. Carrie Hope Fletcher has a wonderful imagination, I just didn’t enjoy the execution of this particular book!

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Talking About ‘The Keeper of Lost Things’ with Bibliobeth

The Keeper of Lost Things

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.

Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the Keeper of Lost Things have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…

With an unforgettable cast of characters that includes young girls with special powers, handsome gardeners, irritable ghosts and an array of irresistible four-legged friends, The Keeper of Lost Things is a debut novel of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that will leave you bereft once you’ve finished reading.

CHRISSI: What were your first impressions of this book?

BETH: Generally, I thought that it was very easy to read and almost fairy tale like in its execution, particularly with the little short stories that we are told about the lost objects. Some I enjoyed more than others but overall, it seemed to be an intriguing little read.

BETH: How would you describe this book to someone who was interested in reading it?

CHRISSI: It’s a difficult one because it fits into so many genres, so you can’t exactly market it as in a specific genre. I think if I had to pick a word to describe this book it would be whimsical. It’s a story of two parts that meet together even if you don’t expect that they will.

CHRISSI: How does the story of Eunice and Bomber relate to Laura and Anthony’s story? Did you find the two plot strands difficult to juggle, perhaps too distracting? Or do the two tales enhance one another?

BETH: There is a reason for the inclusion of Eunice and Bomber’s story and I won’t go into it too much but it relates to the lost objects that Laura is looking after/trying to find homes for. I wasn’t sure at first how the two stories were connected and to be perfectly honest, preferred the current day story of Laura and Anthony to that of Eunice and Bomber. This is quite a departure for me as usually I much prefer a timeline set in the past compared to a contemporary one and I’m not sure why. Eunice irritated me slightly as a character so perhaps this put me off.

BETH: Which character did you connect with most in this novel and why?

CHRISSI: Ooh that’s hard because I really enjoyed two of the characters. I loved Laura and really felt for her at the beginning. She seemed incredibly broken and I really wanted a fix for her. I wanted her to be happy. A character that I really connected with was Sunshine. I thought she was an extraordinary character. I loved her insight. She easily understood things that others didn’t. I loved her view of the world.

CHRISSI: Did you connect with both Eunice and Bomber/Laura and Anthony?

BETH: Haha, I’ve managed to ramble right into the next question!! I didn’t really connect with Eunice as a character I have to say and Bomber was just a bit so-so for me. I found his sister, Portia to be a much more fascinating character to read about although there were some tender moments in the narrative involving these characters and their parents which I really appreciated. Laura and Anthony I liked more but the character who I enjoyed exploring the most was probably Sunshine who be-friends Laura quite near the beginning and becomes a very important part of the novel.

BETH: Did any of the stories about the objects stay with you and if so, which one and why?

CHRISSI: I wish I did have a story that stood out for me, but I really don’t. I thought all of the stories were intriguing in different ways. However,  there were so many of the stories that I couldn’t really focus in on one. There wasn’t one that immediately stuck with me. That’s not to say they weren’t well written. They were! Some were incredibly charming.

CHRISSI: How does this book compare with others in its genre?

BETH: I’m not quite sure where to place this book genre wise. Some parts of it are historical, others contemporary, others kind of magical and fantastical. As a fantasy novel I think there’s a place for it but it’s much more gentle and not as complex as other books in the genre. For me, this was a decent read that I enjoyed but I wasn’t completely blown away.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would. I thought this was an impressive debut. It read like it was from a very established author.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Yes! 3.5 stars

CHRISSI: Yes!

The Nightingale

The Nightingale

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.

As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

Thoughts:

I remember reading a book by Kristin Hannah in my pre-blogging days. It absolutely broke my heart and I remember actually crying over it. Therefore, when I knew this book was about World War II, I knew it was going to be another book that would play with my emotions.

The Nightingale centres around Vianne and her sister Isabelle. We learn about their experiences through World War II. Vianne and Isabelle have had a hard life. Isabelle was only four when their mother died. Their father was traumatised by the First World War and has sent them away unable to look after his daughters. Vianne met her husband Antoine. Isabelle ended up feeling very neglected by her father and became rebellious. Later, as World War II began Vianne and Isabelle began to experience curfews, rationing and blackouts. Isabelle is determined to do something worthwhile. She hates living life the way she is and joins the resistance fighters. Vianne meanwhile, has a Nazi soldier living in her house. Vianne is keen to keep her daughter safe. However, when people start to be taken away, she struggles about what to do…

I thought this book was so expertly written. We all have heard about what life was like for people in World War II, but I had never really thought about the struggles they must go through. Vianne had to constantly battle between whether she should work with the enemy to get small favours for those she loves or fight against the opposition for what’s right.

I can’t even begin to imagine what life was like for those living in that time period. Never knowing when it was going to stop. It’s terrifying. Kristin Hannah doesn’t shy away from describing how awful their experiences were. This book is heart-breaking but so very important to read.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re into historical fiction!

Talking About ‘The Roanoke Girls’ with Bibliobeth!

The Roanoke Girls

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Vowing to discover the fate of her missing cousin, a woman returns to her family’s Kansas estate where she spent one haunting summer as a teen, and where she discovered the dark heart of the Roanoke clan that left her no choice but to run.

Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her maternal grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, at the Roanoke family estate in rural Osage Flats, Kansas, following the suicide of her mother. Lane knows little of her mother’s family, other than the fact that her mother ran away years before and cut off all contact with her parents. Allegra, abandoned by her own mother at birth and raised by her grandparents, introduces Lane to small-town life and the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But there is darkness at the heart of the Roanoke family, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull she has no choice but to run, as far and as fast as she can.

Eleven years later, Lane is scraping by in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls with the news that Allegra has gone missing. “Come home,” he beckons. Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to Osage Flats, determined to find her cousin and assuage her own guilt at having left Allegra behind all those years ago. Her return might mean a second chance with Cooper, the boyfriend whom she loved and destroyed that fateful summer. But it also means facing the terrible secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between the summer of Lane’s first arrival and the summer of her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

CHRISSI: What did you make of Amy Engel’s first step into adult fiction?

BETH: I haven’t actually read any of her young adult fiction so I wasn’t sure what to expect from her writing. I’m really glad now that I went into this book not knowing what to expect as I think that’s definitely the way it should be read. I had heard so much buzz about it on Twitter and read some really great reviews from bloggers I love and trust so I was really excited to get stuck in. I also managed to avoid any spoilers which is fantastic as this is definitely a book that could be spoiled if a reviewer isn’t careful.

BETH: You had some quite conflicting feelings about this novel. Can you try and explain them?

CHRISSI: I can’t really articulate my feelings around this book because they’re so complex! At some points I thought it was brilliantly dark and deeply disturbing which I don’t mind in a book. I didn’t like any of the characters…again, not something that bothers me, so it can’t exactly be that. It’s incredibly hard to explain my feelings about this book in a way that doesn’t spoil it for future readers. Let’s just say, I didn’t like the way some aspects of the book weren’t challenged by the characters. I couldn’t feel empathy with them because of that. No one seemed to care or challenge issues. That frustrated me.

CHRISSI: Discuss the complex relationship between Lane and Allegra.

BETH: Lane and Allegra are cousins and when Lane’s mother dies, she comes to live at the Roanoke house with her grandfather, grandmother and cousin Allegra who has been raised there from a baby. At first, the two girls are delighted to be reunited and desperate to get to know each other, especially as they are of a similar age. It isn’t long though before tensions mount and their relationship becomes a lot more fragile which is one of the many factors that leads to Lane leaving and Allegra disappearing.

BETH: Without spoilers, did the main shock of the novel come as a big surprise to you?

CHRISSI: It didn’t. I started to guess what was going on as the story progressed. I was hoping it wasn’t going to be that way, but it was! This book is disturbing and I do feel that it should be approached with caution if you’re sensitive about some subjects that could trigger you.

CHRISSI: Discuss the small town setting of the novel and what this adds to the story.

BETH: Amy Engel captures all the quirks of a small town perfectly. Everybody knows who everybody else is and this means they also think that they’re entitled to know all their business too. There isn’t much to do in the town, purely because of the size of it and its distance from neighbouring towns so this gives some of the inhabitants, particularly our female protagonist Lane, the feeling of being too tightly enclosed and trapped. We also see when Lane returns as an adult how many things have stayed exactly the same (including people that she has left behind) and how frustrating this is for her as she fights to be free.

BETH: How do you think this book sits in the genre?

CHRISSI: I think it stands out as a book that is quite polarising. I can imagine some people will love its deep and dark subject matter. Others like me, would hope for some more sensitivity given the subject matter. It’s certainly a dark and gritty read. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind reading this book and it didn’t take long to read…it’s just not something I’d personally re-read.

CHRISSI: I had a love/hate relationship with this book. How did you feel about it?

BETH: I know you had quite an interesting reading experience with The Roanoke Girls where you couldn’t quite make up your mind whether you liked it or hated it but for me I think it was a bit more black and white. I did really enjoy this novel, purely because it was so dark and twisty which was a welcome bonus – I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be as disturbing as it was! I didn’t particularly like any of the characters at all but I don’t think you have to like a character to appreciate a good story either, sometimes I feel the best novels are where you have such strong feelings of DISLIKE for a character! It also had a great little twist at the end which I kind of guessed just before the final scene but was still a fantastic end to the novel.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I think I would. I didn’t hate the writing style, I found it particularly engaging! I would be interested to read the YA fiction that the author has had published!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! (With caution)

Then She Was Gone

Then She Was Gone

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

The Girls

Synopsis:

THEN
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?

Thoughts:

I’m a massive fan of this genre, which you’ll know if you’ve been around my blog for a while. My sister Beth and I recently read Lisa Jewell’s The Girls and really enjoyed it so I was intrigued to read this one. Especially after Beth raved about it. I found Then She Was Gone to be such a compelling read. I couldn’t put it down and easily could have read it in one sitting if I had the time!

It follows the story of Laurel whose fifteen-year-old daughter disappeared one day. Laurel and the rest of her children were so close to Ellie and her loss affects the whole family. Ten long years later, Laurel finds out that there’s updates on the case. Unfortunately for the family, Ellie’s remains have been found. With some closure, Laurel begins to move forward. She meets a man called Floyd who brings back some joy into her life. Laurel is introduced to his girls and is struck by the similarities between his daughter Poppy and her Ellie. The truth about what happened around the time Ellie was missing comes to light. Laurel isn’t sure whether she should be trusting Floyd but she’s desperate to find out what happened.

As I mentioned, I have read so many thrillers. So many are a bit samey, but I was impressed with Then She Was Gone. It kept me turning the pages. Although I had guessed what had happened to Ellie, I was still compelled to keep reading. Desperate to see if I was right. I also didn’t know exactly how the thing I thought (sorry, no spoilers!) had happened. Therefore guessing the twist didn’t affect my enjoyment. 

I loved the narrative! It’s broken up into different parts, thinking about then and present day times. As a reader, you get to read from the main character’s point of view and I love that. I felt like it gave a really well rounded look at the story.

Lisa Jewell’s writing is exceptional. I am seriously considering checking out the other books that she’s written as I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve read so far. I love getting into the minds of her ‘bad’ characters. It’s fascinating!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This book comes highly recommended if you’re a fan of the thriller/mystery genre!

Together

Together

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Dear Thing

Synopsis:

This is not a great love story. 
This is a story about great love.

On a morning that seems just like any other, Robbie wakes in his bed, his wife Emily asleep beside him, as always. He rises and dresses, makes his coffee, feeds his dogs, just as he usually does. But then he leaves Emily a letter and does something that will break her heart. As the years go back all the way to 1962, Robbie’s actions become clearer as we discover the story of a couple with a terrible secret – one they will do absolutely anything to protect.

Thoughts:

Beth absolutely loved this book which she demanded that I read as soon as I could. So I bumped it up my TBR and got to reading it near enough straight away! I really enjoyed this book which was such a lovely romance with a hint of a secrecy that kept me turning the pages.

Together is a love story between Robbie and Emily. At the beginning of the book, we find out about their relationship at an older age. They’re struggling with some health issues. From then, we learn about their relationship in reverse. I loved reading about their relationship in this way. The reader gets to know about the ups and downs in their relationship and you really feel like you know them. I loved how a secret was teased from the start. I knew it was going to be a big one that could destroy their relationship. I was intrigued and it kept me turning the pages.

I won’t reveal anything about the secret, but it’s something that I didn’t see coming. I love it when an author surprised me and Julie Cohen definitely does that. I just had to keep reading to find out what on earth was going to happen. I’m happy to say that I hadn’t predicted what was going to happen. I had some ideas about what it could be but I was by far wrong.

I enjoy Julie Cohen’s writing. I found Dear Thing to be a touching read and this book was too. Julie’s writing is absolutely beautiful and her characters are so well developed. I would definitely read more from her in the future!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A lovely read! Worth checking out if you’re into contemporary reads!

This Is How It Is

This Is How It Always Is

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

Rosie and Penn always wanted a daughter. Four sons later, they decide to try one last time – and their beautiful little boy Claude is born. Life continues happily for this big, loving family until the day when Claude says that, when he grows up, he wants to be a girl.

As far as Rosie and Penn are concerned, bright, funny and wonderful Claude can be whoever he or she wants. But as problems begin at school and in the community, the family faces a seemingly impossible dilemma: should Claude change, or should they and Claude try to change the world?

Warm, touching and bittersweet, THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS is a novel about families, love and how we choose to define ourselves. It will make you laugh and cry – and see the world differently.

Thoughts:

This book came into my hands from the book pusher that is Beth. She said she thought I’d really enjoy it, so of course, I pushed it to the top of my TBR. I thought This Is Where It Ends was such a touching read.

It centres around Rosie and Penn who have had many boys. They’re desperate for a baby girl. However, when Claude is born he adds to their group of boys. Claude is different though. Claude wants to be a girl. It starts with him wearing dresses and using ‘girly’ accessories. As time goes on, it’s clear Claude is serious about being a girl. It’s not just a ‘phase’. Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever they want to be. Soon problems start to occur at school and in their local community. Rosie and Penn are wondering whether Claude should change or should Claude continue being whoever they want to be. Does the world need to change?

This really is such a touching read. It is easy to fall in love with the family. I loved how Rosie and Penn accepted that Claude wanted to be Poppy. I loved that they embraced his sensitive side. Even though it was clear that Rosie and Penn were struggling with people’s reactions and what the future meant for Poppy, it was lovely that they still gave Poppy the opportunity to be themselves. The ignorance that Poppy and the family encounter, is totally believable. Even in 2017, many people still experience ignorance because of their differences.

I loved how the book didn’t try to pretend that everything was rosy for the family. It really wasn’t. The siblings suffered and struggled, although they did have love for Poppy…life wasn’t easy and isn’t that just right?

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fabulous read, I highly recommend it!