Talking About ‘The Party’ with Bibliobeth!

The Party

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Martin Gilmour is an outsider. When he wins a scholarship to Burtonbury School, he doesn’t wear the right clothes or speak with the right kind of accent. But then he meets the dazzling, popular and wealthy Ben Fitzmaurice, and gains admission to an exclusive world. Soon Martin is enjoying tennis parties and Easter egg hunts at the Fitzmaurice family’s estate, as Ben becomes the brother he never had.

But Martin has a secret. He knows something about Ben, something he will never tell. It is a secret that will bind the two of them together for the best part of 25 years.

At Ben’s 40th birthday party, the great and the good of British society are gathering to celebrate in a haze of champagne, drugs and glamour. Amid the hundreds of guests–the politicians, the celebrities, the old-money and newly rich–Martin once again feels that disturbing pang of not-quite belonging. His wife, Lucy, has her reservations too. There is disquiet in the air. But Ben wouldn’t do anything to damage their friendship. Would he?

CHRISSI: I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but what were your initial impressions of this book from its cover?

BETH: I have a confession to make. I do that judgey thing and judge a book by its cover. I have been proved wrong in the past – for example, I really didn’t like the cover of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and as you know Chrissi, I adore that book. What can I say? I think a cover really sells a book and if you can market it “prettily,” you’re onto a winner (with me at least!) I have to admit for this cover? I just found it a little bit dull and unfortunately, it didn’t inspire me to read the book at all. In fact, if I saw it in a bookshop I wouldn’t pick it up on the basis of this cover alone. Luckily what was inside proved to be much more fascinating in the outside so time and time again, I must not judge!!

BETH: What did you make of Martin’s relationship with his wife, Lucy?

CHRISSI: Oh good question! I felt a bit sorry for Lucy actually. I feel like she always came second for him. He was far more concerned with his friendship with Ben than his relationship with his wife. She must have seen his neediness for his friend and wondered why that wasn’t there in their relationship. I felt like she was so loyal to him despite him constantly pushing her boundaries.

CHRISSI: How can we tell Martin is an unreliable narrator?

BETH: From the very beginning. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that when we first meet Martin, he is being questioned in a police station. That isn’t to say he’s done anything wrong, there was an “incident” at a party and he is being asked what he knows. We soon find out what’s gone on in due course. As a reader, it does make you think what could have happened though, especially with the evasive way he is answering some of the questions…..
Then we get more information about his childhood and his relationship with the host of the party and the way he talks to and reacts to certain people makes him all the more intriguing.

BETH: Can money buy you happiness? Does being part of a wealthy elite change the way the Fitzmaurices behave to others not in their circle?

CHRISSI: I don’t think money can buy you happiness. I think it can help your life and help to reach the goals you may have for yourself. I definitely felt like the Fitzmaurices behaved in an incredibly entitled manner. They were obsessed with the power money held over others. Martin certainly enjoyed the high life when he was with Ben. I don’t think they were very kind to others in a lower class than themselves.

CHRISSI: To what extent did the narrative structure (where the bulk of the plot takes place over the course of one evening with flashbacks to the past) heighten the tension?

BETH: I love narratives like this. We hear about the present time, where as I mention, Martin is being questioned about what happened on that night, then it flits back and forward from the present day, to episodes where Martin is at school and as a young adult. As a reader, I wanted to get back to the questioning parts to try and get a clue about what exactly had happened but at the same time I wanted to get back to Martin’s past too as there’s definite clues there about his relationships and the reasons why they end up the way that they do.

BETH: Did you anticipate where this story would lead? Were you surprised by the outcome?

CHRISSI: I wasn’t really sure where this book was going to go. I did love the element of mystery. I also loved how I thought I was steps ahead and knew what was going on, but I wasn’t always right. For me, the ending was a little abrupt and it left me wondering what was going on or going to happen.

CHRISSI: Does this book fit into a genre?

BETH: This is such a hard question! On Goodreads it’s defined into quite a few categories – mystery, thriller and contemporary to name a few but I think it falls quite nicely into literary fiction too. It certainly has aspects of all of these genres, the intrigue where we don’t know what’s going on, a modern setting and a thrilling plot where we’re never quite sure of our characters’ motives.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would! I did enjoy reading it, even if it felt a little slow in places for me.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars

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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!

The One-in-a-Million Boy

The One-in-a-Million Boy

How did I get it?:
I received it from my Mr B’s Reading Year subscription!

Synopsis:

The story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don’t they teach you anything at school?

So says 104-year-old Ona to the 11-year-old boy who’s been sent to help her out every Saturday morning. As he refills the bird feeders and tidies the garden shed, Ona tells him about her long life, from first love to second chances. Soon she’s confessing secrets she has kept hidden for decades.

One Saturday, he doesn’t show up. Ona starts to think he’s not so special after all, but then his father Quinn arrives on her doorstep, determined to finish his son’s good deed. The boy’s mother is not so far behind. Ona is set to discover that even at her age the world can surprise you, and that sometimes sharing a loss is the only way to find yourself again.

Thoughts:

I hadn’t heard of this book (somehow, I have no idea how!) before it was sent to me as part of my reading year birthday present from my Mum and sister. I’m glad I got the chance to read it though. It’s not one that will particularly stand out for me, but it was a decent read and I’m pleased I read it.

The One-in-a-Million Boy centres around a boy scout who was assigned to help an older lady. The older lady in question is 104 year old Ona Vitkus. Ona has rejected so many boy scouts as not good enough but she almost immediately connecting with ‘the boy’. He’s different compared to others his age. Ona and ‘the boy’ start to get to know each other through tea and biscuits. ‘The boy’ asks if he can ask her some questions and Ona starts to reveal more about her life. ‘The boy’ is obsessed with the Guinness Book Of Records. They discuss things that can get you into the book and hatch a plan to get Ona into the book. This gives Ona a new lease of life. One day, ‘the boy’ doesn’t turn up at work and Ona feels let down, like she was with the other boy scouts. However, his father Quinn turns up in his place and continues his son’s chores.

I loved how this book had so many things going on, but at the same time it didn’t feel rushed or overly crammed with information. It’s about family. It’s about a woman’s incredibly long life. There’s sadness, but there’s hope as well. It really is a mixed bag. It has some absolutely fantastic characters who you immediately take to and want things to turn out for them all.

I enjoyed Monica Wood’s writing style. I found this book incredibly easy to read and appreciated the different formats and points of view involved.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A touching read!

Letters To The Lost

Letters to the Lost

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Bloomsbury!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Thicker Than Water

Synopsis:

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

Thoughts:

I have heard of Brigid Kemmerer’s work long before now, but I’ve only ever read one of her books. Until now! I was really intrigued by the synopsis of Letters To The Lost. I’m so glad I read it and now I’m definitely intrigued to read Brigid’s back catalogue. Letters To The Lost is an emotional, but important read surrounding grief and people’s perceptions of one another.

Letters to the Lost centres around two characters, Juliet and Declan who we hear from throughout the story. Both Juliet and Declan have lost part of their family. Juliet writes letters to her mother and leaves them on her grave. One day, Declan comes across it and feels compelled to reply. They become close through letters and emails although they don’t know who they’re talking to. They know they go to the same school, but they’re scared to reveal themselves. Both Juliet and Declan have judged each other in ‘real life.’ In ‘real life’ they don’t get on. Juliet thinks Declan is a criminal and looks down on him and Declan thinks Juliet is a little stuck up. Throughout the story, the reader is just waiting for the penny to drop and them to realise exactly who they are.

This book is heavy going because of the subject matter. Declan has gone through a lot in his life already. His sister has died, his Dad’s in prison and Declan is doing community service after crashing his father’s car into a building. Everyone in the town judges him and treats him negatively. Juliet was just another person that judged him. Juliet herself is grieving for her mother who died in a tragic accident.

I loved reading their interactions by letters and emails. Declan was known as The Dark and Juliet was Cemetery Girl. Declan really started to come across as a kind, thoughtful person. He was so sweet towards Juliet and really began to open up about the struggles in his life. I took a while to warm to Juliet, but I eventually did, especially during the interactions with Declan online. She was honest about her feelings and encouraging.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It was a deep, raw read. I think if you’re not into dramatic reads then be mindful of that when you go into this book. This book is dramatic because of the issues Declan and Juliet are going through. I think it’s worth reading though. It’s engaging, well written and so easy to read!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic, deep read. I will definitely read more from Brigid Kemmerer!

Fall For Anything

Fall for Anything

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Cracked Up To Be
Some Girls Are
All The Rage

Synopsis:

When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on…but are some questions better left unanswered?

Thoughts:

I have recently discovered Courtney Summers and I ADORE her writing. I love that she’s not afraid to write about tough subjects. She does so in such a raw way which I really appreciate. She doesn’t shy away from tough subjects which makes her writing so compelling to read.

Fall For Anything centres around Eddie Reeves, whose father has committed suicide. Immediately you know that the story isn’t going to be all sweetness and light. It’s tough. It’s hard to read about Eddie’s grief, as expected, Courtney doesn’t shy away from writing about struggles after a bereavement, especially one as painful as suicide. It was so tough to read, but so important at the same time. She really portrayed the family left behind, completely broken. Eddie tries to piece some of the information left about her father in order to understand why he killed himself. It really is a rollercoaster of emotion, that the reader gets to experience through Eddie.

I really enjoyed that romance wasn’t a huge element of this story. Eddie needs time to grieve. Whilst trying to piece everything together, Eddie pushes those close to her away as her main goal is to find out why her father felt he had to do what he did.

I don’t want to say too much because otherwise I’ll spoil the reading experience. Courtney Summers is an author that really stands out for me as an author that’s not afraid to write honestly. I can never put one of her books down, no matter how hard it is for me to read. I appreciate that and highly respect it!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Whilst this isn’t my favourite book from Courtney Summers, I still raced through it eager to find out what was going to happen!

Behind The Scenes (Daylight Falls #1)

Behind the Scenes (Daylight Falls, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

High school senior Ally Duncan’s best friend may be the Vanessa Park – star of TV’s hottest new teen drama – but Ally’s not interested in following in her BFF’s Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father’s mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van’s on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she’s capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can’t play by Hollywood’s rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

Thoughts:

I have had Behind The Scenes on my radar for what seems like ages, so I was pleased to finally get around to picking it up on my week break from my job. It was engaging and fun to read.

It centres around Ally who has a famous teen actress as a best friend. Ally doesn’t have it easy. Her father’s medical bills are threatening her dream to go to Columbia to study. Ally and her friend Van come up with a plan to solve the issue which would involve Ally being Van’s on-set assistant. Ally has a great time being an assistant, she gets to earn good money and spend some time with Van whilst Van films. She also finds herself falling for Liam, Van’s stunning co-star. However, Van’s publicist decides that Van and Liam should ‘date’ for the tabloids which begins to cause all sorts of problems for Liam and Ally.

Behind The Scenes is such a readable love story. It being centred in Hollywood means there’s so much drama to read about. It’s great to try and imagine what happens in Hollywood. We all know that it isn’t exactly what it seems. I loved reading about how contrived relationships can be in the media. I’m pretty sure that it happens much more than we might think.

What I loved about Behind The Scenes was the story of friendship amongst the romance. Ally and Van’s friendship was real and survived the test of time (and Hollywood) even though they were so different. The romance is completely adorable too. Liam is such a fantastic character. I really believed in the relationship.

Dahlia Adler’s writing style is so easy to read. I found it really comforting to read. I lapped up the story, completely engrossed in the plot. I shall definitely be reading more from Dahlia in the future if this book is anything to go by!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A wonderful piece of YA contemporary! Worth reading!

Talking About ‘The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend’ with Bibliobeth!

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

How did I get it?:
Beth bought it for me!

Synopsis:

Sara is 28 and has never been outside Sweden – except in the (many) books she reads. When her elderly penfriend Amy invites her to come and visit her in Broken Wheel, Iowa, Sara decides it’s time. But when she arrives, there’s a twist waiting for her – Amy has died. Finding herself utterly alone in a dead woman’s house in the middle of nowhere was not the holiday Sara had in mind.

But Sara discovers she is not exactly alone. For here in this town so broken it’s almost beyond repair are all the people she’s come to know through Amy’s letters: poor George, fierce Grace, buttoned-up Caroline and Amy’s guarded nephew Tom.

Sara quickly realises that Broken Wheel is in desperate need of some adventure, a dose of self-help and perhaps a little romance, too. In short, this is a town in need of a bookshop.

CHRISSI: What were your first impressions? Go on, did you judge it by its cover?

BETH: Oh man, you know me too well! Yes, I did judge it by its cover and I was praying that I was going to like it as the cover was just SO beautiful. I have a special Goldsboro books edition that has lovely blue spayed pages and the image is a girl snuggled in an armchair with a book up to her face. Of course, if you’re a loud and proud bookworm like myself, this picture is pure bliss and definitely made me want to read the story. A book about books- I mean, what could be better?

BETH: Parts of this book are told in the form of letters between Sara and Amy. Did you enjoy this and how do you think it added to the story?

CHRISSI: I did enjoy this! I really like when there are little snippets of different media in a storyline. I don’t know why, but for me as a reader, I think it gives the reader an even deeper reading experience. Especially in this story, where we don’t often read from Amy’s point of view. I think the letters made it special and enhanced the storyline. I felt like I knew Amy.

CHRISSI: What affect does Sara have on the inhabitants of Broken Wheel?

BETH: She has an effect on every singing inhabitant of Broken Wheel that she comes into contact with, either directly or indirectly or even visitors to the town from the larger neighbouring town of Hope. Sara is a quiet, quite reclusive type that loves her books so passionately that it encourages everybody to try reading for themselves, especially when she opens a bookshop of her own and manages to find a book for everyone. I totally believe that there is a perfect book for everyone, if you’re not a reader, maybe you haven’t found that perfect one yet?

BETH: How do you think Sara and Tom’s relationship developed over the course of the novel and did you buy into it?

CHRISSI: Interesting question. Initially, I wasn’t sure about Sara and Tom’s relationship. I mean, I really like them as characters, but I was worried about Tom’s reluctance. I’m not sure I completely bought into the relationship, but it was a sweet enough romance despite some bumps in the road.

CHRISSI: How does Sara change through her experience of coming to Broken Wheel?:

BETH: As I mentioned in the previous question, Sara comes to Broken Wheel as quite a quiet and shy individual who is not used to socialising with many people and doesn’t have many friends, dreams or prospects in her life or back home in her native Sweden. Her life changes for the better when she comes to Broken Wheel. Through her love of books and the letters that she shard with Amy, (former inhabitant of Broken Wheel) she discovers a whole new world. She learns the joys of friendship, socialising with other people, falling in love and realises what her dreams for the future really are.

BETH: Who was your favourite character in this novel and why?

CHRISSI: Hmm, that’s a tough question as there were quite a few characters that I enjoyed reading about. I did like reading Amy’s letters though. I kind of wish there was more from her as I think she was a fascinating character and I thought she was incredibly sweet. I love how Amy and Sara connected as fellow bibliophiles. If I can’t pick Amy, I’d pick Sara as I found some of what she said about books highly relatable!

CHRISSI: I found it hard to classify this book. What would YOU classify it as?

BETH: Gosh, that’s a difficult question! It’s kind of contemporary fiction, kind of romance, humour…basically it has a bit of everything. GoodReads has a special category which classifies it as Books About Books’ which I think is perfect! If you love books that mention other books, you’re sure to love this little treasure!

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?:

CHRISSI: Yes! I think she has a very charming writing style and I was very impressed that this book was her debut!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!