Jasmine Nights

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How did I get it?:
Borrowed off Bibliobeth

Synopsis:

1942 and the world is at war. It is a war that has already shattered families and devastated countries. But for some, it will also mean the greatest of adventures.

In a burns hospital in Sussex, a beautiful young singer performs to a ward full of injured soldiers. Saba is captivating and one pilot, Dom, shudders as her gaze turns his way. He can’t bear her to see his scars but resolves to write to her once they have healed.

The world is on the brink of enormous change. Saba’s journey as a singer with ENSA takes her to the fading glamour of Alexandria and the heat and decadence of Turkey. On the glamorous Middle Eastern social circuit, Saba rubs shoulders with double agents and diplomats, movie stars and smugglers. Some want her voice, some her friendship, and some the secrets she is perfectly placed to discover…

JASMINE NIGHTS is a tale of decadence and destruction, of love and of danger. It is the captivating love story set in an extraordinary world.

Thoughts:

This is a beautiful story full of love and danger. Julia Gregson uses two characters to narrate a tale of the North African campaign of the Second World War. I liked how the story alternated from Saba and Dom’s point of view.

I particularly liked the character Saba, a beautiful but stubborn singer from Wales who defies her family to strike out on her own after being forbidden to sing in public by her father. Saba decides to go against her families wishes and pursues her dream of singing to the troops and is sent off to Cairo. Saba encounters Dom who is an RAF pilot badly burned in a Spitfire crash whilst she sings at a hospital where he is receiving rehabilitation. Dom is facing some demons after feeling guilty for a friend’s death and being left by his fiancé. He falls in love with Saba from the moment he encounters her and follows her to North Africa where he is transferred. Julia Gregson made the couple’s love believable. It was very touching. Both Saba and Dom are complex characters that are really well-written.

The story itself was very intriguing although I did feel at times that the pace slowed down. It was interesting to read about female entertainers being used as spies in the Second World War. I wish that there had been more about the danger Saba was putting herself in, this didn’t seem to happen until nearer the end of the story. I was waiting for some spy action to happen and it took quite a while! Jasmine Nights wasn’t a perfect story, but it is a decent read and kept me intrigued.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Reading next:
I’ll Take What She Has- Samantha Wilde

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Gold

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How did I get it?:
It was given to me by Bibliobeth.

Synopsis:

The extraordinary third novel from Chris Cleave, author of the internationally bestselling, Costa-shortlisted THE OTHER HAND.

Kate and Zoe are friends but also ardent rivals – athletes at the top of their game, fighting to compete in the world’s greatest sporting contest. Each scarred by tragedy, and each with a great deal to lose, they must choose between family and glory and ask themselves: what will I sacrifice?

GOLD captures the extraordinary effort and dedication that go into the pursuit of victory. But this life-affirming novel is about more than sport. It is about human endurance, motherhood and love, and what enables us all, in our different ways, to achieve the remarkable.

It is a story told as only Chris Cleave could tell it. And once you begin, it will be a heart-pounding race to the finish.

Thoughts:

It’s really hard to sum up what I feel about this book because on the one hand I really loved parts of it and on the other it fell short. I do think that Chris Cleave is a brilliant writer and I wouldn’t think twice about reading a book of his. There’s something about his writing style that keeps me interested and wanting to read until the end.

This book has been included in the Richard and Judy Spring Reads and I can see why. It’s not just a story about athletes competing in the Olympics but a story about the people behind the athletes, the personal tragedies that they’ve endured.

The main five characters are so different from one another and Chris Cleave does a fantastic job of writing their side of the story, However, in my opinion, the most touching sections to read were the parts from Sophie’s point of view. The little girl was so unwell and tried to hide it to keep her parents happy. The character of Sophie really was the star of this book for me. I cared what was going to happen to her more than whether her parents got an Olympic Gold medal.

It’s hard to say whether I’d recommend this book or not. I do think it’s a decent and easy read. It’s just not what I expected from reading Chris Cleave’s other work.

Coincidently, my sister over on Bibliobeth has just posted a review of Gold too. Have a look HERE to see what she thought of it.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Reading next:
Speechless- Hannah Harrington

Gone Girl

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How did I get it?:
I borrowed it.

Synopsis:

‘What are you thinking, Amy?’ The question I’ve asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage: ‘What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?’ Just how well can you ever know the person you love? This is the question that Nick Dunne must ask himself on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren’t his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife? And what was in that half-wrapped box left so casually on their marital bed? In this novel, marriage truly is the art of war…

Thoughts:

This book is on the Richard and Judy Spring Reads 2013 list, but to be honest, I think I probably would’ve read it anyway as the synopsis sold it for me. I haven’t read any Gillian Flynn books before but from reading this book I think I will be checking out some more of her books soon. Or, at least, adding them to my very big to be read pile..

Gillian Flynn has created some incredible characters. They weren’t likeable at all, but this didn’t make the story flat. It made me question what on earth had happened in their marriage. I would warn the potential reader of this book to not expect to like the characters.

I think the narrative really works. Both Nick and Amy tell their story and Gillian has given them such a unique voice that you don’t forget whose side you’re reading.

I don’t want to say too much as it is a story full of twists and turns which I don’t want to spoil for the reader. It’s a story full of tension right from the beginning. It gripped me, I couldn’t put it down. I definitely didn’t predict what was going to happen. A great read.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

Reading next:
Fifteen Days Without A Head- Dave Cousins