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    • 3 stars
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    • Perfect Ten by Jacqueline Ward
      Perfect Ten by Jacqueline Ward

    Not full marks from me I’m afraid

    Thrillers aren’t my main genre but I do like to read some when I’m in the mood for something different. This book caught my eye as the blurb was very enticing and the plot sounded full of potential. Whilst I didn’t struggle to read this I did feel it failed to hook me, it didn’t actually feel like I was reading a thriller at all to be honest. Caroline, the main character and whom is the voice of the book is not easy to like and although you could feel sympathy for her situation especially the loss of her children to her husband and although you could understand how she had ended up at rock bottom and willing to use any means to get them back you just don’t feel like you’re rooting for her. The way she exploited social media was too simplistic although I did agree with her psychology of how anyone can convince themselves they know people out there.

    Once the social media avenue had been exploited the book lost some pace as though the author was herself running out of plot, the explanation of the disappearance of her sister didn’t make sense and the ending was flat. This could have been a great book about psychological abuse but it just failed to deliver.

  • Not for me

    So I was particularly looking forward to reading this book as I've not read anything set in the 60s before but, not going to lie, I was quite disappointed. First impressions: I thought it was going to be a light-hearted romance possibly with some aspects of real life from the author. A lovely little insight to one person's view of the 60s. Though I almost got that I found the pace slow, writing a bit odd (when someone is explaining a story to another character they still say "blah blah blah" he said. Like they are writing the book which is not like actually conversational story telling at all so it completely through me off) and the story lacking in any adventure, mystery, romance, anything really. It was like there were multiple possibilities for a really good story (eg. the life of Sandra and Danny, the life of Sylvie, or the romances of Linda) and instead it was trying to hard to include everything. There were a few moments where I really appreciated the story regarding Tap and a romance almost blossoms on Linda's birthday at his work but then on the night he see's Ray, he's not really mentioned again for quite a few pages. In fact I think it was around 100 pages. I guess some people may like this book but I'm sorry, this one just wasn't for me. I found it really difficult to keep on reading when really I just wanted to put it down and pick up another and because I stopped myself from doing that, I'm now in a reading slump.

  • Loved it!

    Just look at that cover! Isn't it beautiful? I always love an attractive cover and this one certainly ticks all the boxes.

    "The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes" is an exceptional and mesmerising exploration of the simple human connections that make life worth living, about dark secrets, hope, unexpected friendships and second chances.

    This is a very, very sad book at times covering some extremely painful issues but I loved the way the author Ruth Hogan introduced humour that was subtle enough to still keep you fully immersed in the emotion of the story yet not drag you down into the depths of despair. I did however feel tears forming in the chapter when after a funeral the words "Where there are birds, there are angels" were said - truly breathtaking!

    Towards the very end of the story I suddenly clicked as to the totally unexpected twist and I literally felt shivers down my spine, I NEVER saw that coming and though both a happy and sad denouement it was a truly perfect ending.

    There are some emotional triggers to the book which may affect some readers - a two year old child's death by drowning, cancer and death in general (since a lot of the story is set In a cemetery) but they are handled so, so delicately by the author, you can just tell there is some personal experience hidden in amongst the beautiful prose.

    The characters are truly wonderful and although many are slightly eccentric or diverse they stay just the right side of realistic. Likeable people you would love to know in real life. "Sally Red Shoes" was a fabulous character and the star of the show even though the main protagonists Alice and Masha tell the narrative, as the story is based around them. I think we've all known a Sally at some point!

    I loved reading this heartfelt book, I took my time with it and devoured every emotive word. I know this book might not be for everyone but should it be your genre, you will love it, it's really uplifting and it's a one I will always remember and read again in the future.

    5 beautiful stars!

  • Fab cards

    fab cards...love the simple and easy to do exercises

  • Confess

    I found this to be a bit of a confused mess of a book. There is a sound idea behind the tale - everyone has a dark secret that they don't want anyone to know and there are entities out there that feed upon the depravity and to feed they just need to make you confess. Unfortunately the author hops about all over the place with the idea and it felt like the reason for the various hallucinations and nightmares experienced by the residents of the Motel were the be all and end all of the tale and then they realised that there had to be a reason for it and a balance for it (in the form of Tara and her little boy).

    There is little exploration of the personality of the characters in the book, they are merely there as a showcase for their particular "crime"; abortion, fraud (possibly a ponsi scheme but it is not clearly explained), murder, drug use and plagarism. Each one is haunted by something that reminds them of what they did - although the spiders for the plagarist are never really explained. There is a sense of terror for a couple of the manifestations but only a couple and not enough to keep you interested in the story.

    I did slog through to the end which is almost an apocalyptic escape from the Motel and I was relieved to get there. Unfortunately there are further tales in the series and although I am sure the author has worked hard to improve their craft after this one I am not likely to pick up another one to find out.

  • All A Bit Blah

    The book actually didn't start out too badly, reasonable introduction to the characters and we get to see Beverley being a wreck at the end of the school year saying goodbye to her pre-schoolers. Unfortunately, from the moment she moves out to take her place at the helm of Fite Fitness it all deteriorates rather rapidly in to quite a dull read with nothing to really recommend it.

    The romance angle is over wrought, initially it had legs with the push and pull between Bev and Liam(?) but then it falls quickly in to soul searching cliche on both sides which just becomes annoying. The housebreaking and sabotage of the presentation by an unknown perpetrator is just there with no building of tension about why it is happening and who is responsible; even worse the characters seem to shrug it off as being no big deal. As for Bev she is quite simply too nice to be true. I suppose that's why she was a pre-school educator because only really, really sweet and nice people can work with children - she certainly seems to use bribery to get her own way which is more manipulative than nice but whatever.

    The inner workings of a fashion house were quite interesting but little time is spent on this which is a pity as they were the best bits of the book. Overall it is just a series of set pieces and woe-is-me moments stapled together until we can get to the Happy Ending where Bev completely changes herself from Couch Potato to Fitness and Business Guru to get her man - bleuurrrgghhh.

  • Claustrophobic

    I was pleased to see that the format of the previous book in the DI Adam Fawley series followed the format of the first with no clear chapters but rather broken in to descriptive prose of the events and the investigation with snippets of the media surrounding the case and excerpts from transcripts of interviews with various suspects and witnesses. Somehow the author manages to bring the investigative side to the fore and thoroughly absorbs you in it - sadly I see a whole slew of copycats emulating her style and, likely, failing.

    Nothing is what it seems in this tale. It seems so cut and dried in the beginning - young woman and her child locked in a cellar, the owner of the house has Alzheimer's and his responsibility is severely impaired. The only real question is how long has he kept her prisoner and why. The investigation takes a darker turn when the police realise that the garden is overlooked by the former home of a local reporter who went missing 2 years ago and is presumed dead. When a body is found in the garden it soon looks like this is far darker than kidnapping and imprisonment.

    There are plenty of twists and turns in this book and a large cast of civilian characters. Like their Constabulary counterparts the characters are drawn sparingly but still manage to exist on the page as fully fleshed people. However. this is not a tale about the people - even the lead character has only sparing detail about his personality and home life (although, we do find out much more about him in this book) - this is all about the investigation and the little things that can make or break the case for the team. The things they miss, the things they notice all bring about a cohesive whole.

    This is a gripping read that is hard to put down with twists and turns being crafted rather than just appearing by some deductive leap. For me, being able to figure things out based on logic and reasoning makes it a far better read than the denouement being reached by some miraculous deductive leap (even Sherlock Holmes always had a sound reason for his leaps of deductive prowess) which seems to be all to prevalent in the genre these days. I am looking forward to the third book being published and hopeful that Ms Hunter can continue in the same vein.

  • New Beginnings

    3.5 Stars

    This is a fairly charming tale of starting over after your Happily Ever After becomes a Fairy Curse. The problem for me was that I found Kate to be quite an unlikeable character who was quick to judge others and rather inflexible in her opinions and life. I know that part of that was to serve the plot but that didn't stop me from finding her unpleasant and as the tale is told from her viewpoint that did spoil my enjoyment of it.

    The secondary characters of Lisa and Harriet(?) are wonderfully written and had that breath of reality infusing them that I have come to expect from Ms Swain. I would love to know more about both of them but suspect that this is unlikely. Although, there is much more to Nightingale Square than the 3 ladies,there are a host of supporting characters that live and breathe on the page - more importantly they garden together and party together too. I did find the battle for a community allotment to be a great plot device to absorb newly arrived Kate in to the Nightingale Square crew and a good way of introducing everyone to us. Sadly, I think communities of this type only exist within book pages these days.

    The romance angle of the book is quite pronounced but from the unusual perspective of Kate refusing to have anything to do with it as she has blown her chance after separating from her husband. The real reason why is dragged out through the book and I did find that infuriating as it became this big "thing" that Kate would not reveal and turned out to be fairly pedestrian in the end. The resolution to all this is that of course she does realise that there is more than one love out there for her and it is who you suspect it is going to be from the moment they first meet.

    This is a thoroughly enjoyable book that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys this genre of fiction. There is a warmth to Ms Swain's writing that invites you in and she has a real knack with drawing a great character on the page. Unfortunately for me I did not like her main character so I have marked the book accordingly but the story arc is well paced and the people believable - trust me if you want a hug from a book this will provide it.

  • Wonderful Story!

    Loveday Cardew's best friends are books. She tattoos the first lines of her favorite books on her body like a collection of fond memories she wants to keep close forever. She hides a secret about her past and never lets people past her defenses. Books don't judge. Books don't pity. She works in a bookshop, surrounded by the peace and feeling of safety the books give her. But, someone has found out about her past. And Loveday Cardew's quiet little world is about to tumble into chaos.

    I loved this book! As the story progressed and I learned more and more about Loveday....her past, her thoughts, her secret....I found myself sympathizing more and more with her. Sometimes the past keeps a tight grip on a person that takes years to loosen. I know this experience personally from my disastrous relationships with my birth family. For Loveday, she hides from her hurts and emotions and only loves books...until she lets her defenses down just a bit. And the world comes crashing in. So realistic. I also love the idea of getting tattoos of first lines of favorite books, or those with personal meaning.

    I listened to the audio book version of this novel. Narrated by Imogen Church, the audio is just under 9 hours long. Church's voice is perfect for this book, and I loved the audio. Even with my hearing loss, I was easily able to hear and understand the entire book.

    This was a binge listen for me.....I couldn't stop once I got immersed in the story. This book is sad, hopeful, and beautiful. Despite how we remember our lives Before, there is always a life After.

    I absolutely loved this book and will be reading more by this author. I usually steer away from emotional fiction, but this story is beautiful. I have to admit that this book sat on my To-Read shelf for awhile before I worked up the courage to read it. I knew it would poke at the hurts still present from my own past...and I had to work up the courage to go there. I'm so glad I did.....totally rewarding experience. Full stars from me!

    **I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from St. Martins Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**