Book Review · Books

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex [BOOK REVIEW]

There were two things that ultimately drew me to read the Lamplighters by Emma Stonex. Firstly, it was the part about the lighthouse. There is something about lighthouses that always draws me in and intrigues me. And secondly, the fact that this story is based on an actual true story, where men did go missing and we still don’t know how.

About The Book:


Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Pages: 368

Format I read it in: Hardcover

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

★★★★

Synopsis:

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface…

My Thoughts:

The Lamplighters is a mix between a mystery thriller and historical fiction. We follow a story about three men that guard a lighthouse, who go missing. At the same time, we follow the lives of three women, twenty years later.

Emma Stonex has the ability to make a mundane daily routine seem interesting. Her writing in this book is truly spectacular, and I really enjoyed it. I especially loved that she chose to give these three women a voice that they wouldn’t have before, and let them tell their stories. There was slight flaws with the characters themselves, as they were all written in a similar tone, so it was hard to tell to them apart. But aside from that, the idea was very well executed.

I enjoyed the men’s story as well – although, sometimes, it would get too repetitive for my taste. What I did enjoy though, was the slow psychological games between them. It was very cleverly written, and even I at times was confused on what some people’s intentions were.

In regards to the mystery itself, I found it quite interesting, although somewhat predictable. There wasn’t a big twist, more like a slow wave coming toward you. You wait for it to come, and when it does, you still end up surprised a little, even though you were expecting it.

In summary, the Lamplighters was a delightful read. Never dull and always intriguing. If you love the sea, lighthouses, mysteries and lovely storytelling – definitely check this one out!

Favourite Quotes:

“People will believe anything, and given the choice they prefer lies to the truth because lies are usually more interesting.”

“Neither of us came from a happy background and that’s what bonded us in the first place.”

“If we all had a tower to be on and a couple of people to be with, just to be, without expectation or interference, to put in the light at night and extinguish it at dawn, to sleep and be awake, talk and be silent, live and die, all on our islands, couldn’t we avoid the rest?”

About The Author:

Emma Stonex is a novelist who has written several books under a pseudonym. THE LAMPLIGHTERS is her debut under her own name and has been translated into more than twenty languages. Before becoming a writer, she worked as an editor at a major publishing house. She lives in the Southwest with her family.

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Book Review · Books

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead [BOOK REVIEW]

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to participate on the readalong for the Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead. Huge thank you to the team at Tandem as well as the publisher DoubleDay for sending me a copy of the book to read and review!

About The Book:


Publisher: DoubleDay

Pages: 602

Format I read it in: Hardcover

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

I was born to be a wanderer. I was shaped to the earth like a seabird to a wave

In 1920s Montana, wild-hearted Marian Graves spends her days roaming the rugged forests and mountains of her home. When she witnesses the roll, loop and dive of two barnstorming pilots, she is determined that one day, she too will take to the skies.

In 1940s London, after a series of reckless romances and a spell flying to aid the war effort, Marian embarks on a treacherous, epic flight in search of the freedom she has always craved. She is never seen again.

More than half a century later, Hadley Baxter, a troubled Hollywood starlet beset by scandal, is irresistibly drawn to play Marian Graves in her biopic, a role that will lead her to probe the deepest mysteries of the vanished pilot’s life.

My Thoughts:

I thought I would struggle reading this book because of its size. But it was so easy to read. Descriptive, but full with action. Amazing stories of multiple characters, through many years – summed up in compact chapters.

It took me a while to get started at the beginning. I wasn’t sure what exactly was happening, and I felt like a school girl meeting my school friends for the first time. Overwhelmed with many characters, struggling to remember their names. Very soon though, things started to make more sense, and I started enjoying this book so much, that I was unable to put it down.

My favourite character was Marian.

I loved her ambition, bravery and determination to do whatever it takes to achieve her dream of flying. Her competitiveness was also an attribute that I shared with her, and it was so easy to put myself in her shoes. Her longing for freedom and independence is amazingly shown throughout the whole book.

“I was born to be a wanderer. I was shaped to the earth like a seabird to a wave. Some birds fly until they die.”

I also liked James’s point of view. It was nice to see the world from his eyes, as a twin, growing up beside Marian.

“Jamie found he liked how the people he drew gave him permission to look closely and without hurry at their faces. He liked how people became vulnerable when they were about to be drawn, revealed more than they intended with their little adjustments.”

The character I liked the least was Hadley. I simply couldn’t connect with her, although I did enjoy when her character would connect to Marian’s story. Especially when we would get a hint of history through a letter, or a person she meets. However, as a character, she didn’t impress. And the way her story ended led me to believe her character served one purpose only – to help Marian’s story.

I loved the diversity in characters, and how vividly they were all described.

When you met a side character, you felt like you really knew them, even though they wouldn’t be too present in the grand scheme of things. This is something now many authors can manage to successfully accomplish. I admire Maggie Shipstead for being able to do it.

Great Circle is also full of so many amazing facts about history, aviation, historical figures… You can notice how much research has put into this book. So many times while I was reading I would forget Marian was a historical figure. I would have to keep reminding myself that she is a fictional character.

The ending was underwhelming for me, but I think it was because I expected some big twists to happen. The ending just serves as a reminder that not all endings end with a big BOOM. Some go quietly, unnoticed, tiptoeing their way out.

Great Circle is one of the most exciting and emotional historical fiction books I’ve read in a very long time.

Rating:

★★★★

About The Author:

Maggie Shipstead is the New York Times-bestselling author of the novels Seating Arrangements, Astonish Me, and Great Circle, and the winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, and the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Book Review · Books

Letters of Note: Grief by Shaun Usher [BOOK REVIEW]

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to participate on the readalong for Letters of Note: Grief. Huge thank you to the team at Tandem as well as the publisher Canongate Books for sending me a copy of the book to read and review!

About The Book:


Publisher: Canongate Books

Pages: 130

Format I read it in: Paperback

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

Letters of Note started as a website where Shaun Usher was sharing people’s letters. Now it is a collection of the world’s most inspiring, compulsive and powerful letters, curated into different books based on their topic.

My Thoughts:

When I signed up for the readalong, I didn’t know which topic I will get, and when I got grief, I was a bit let down. I thought to myself – “another book that is sad”. Now, looking back, I am grateful I have read this book, as it allowed me to get closer to my grief and feel emotions I deliberately refused to feel. It also gave me a bit of comfort, an unexpected hug, one of those that you didn’t know you needed.

Through the 31 letters, I felt different people’s sadness of losing someone. I read words of sympathy, empathy, love and joy. For such a short book, it made me feel so much!

My favourite letter is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s letter to his grandma, when his grandpa died. My grandpa’s death is still so painful to me – even though it’s been a couple of years now. He died on Christmas Eve, and I never got the chance to say goodbye. On my last visit, I was certain I would see him again. A year later, my grandma passed away as well, and the pain stacked itself on top of the pain I was already feeling.

Is that how grief works?

We just keep stacking pain on top of each other like tower blocks through the years… waiting for it to collapse on us? Does it ever go away, or do we always carry it with ourselves? I guess only time will tell…

“It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That’s the deal. That’s the pact. Grief and love are forever intertwined.”

I am very grateful for this book. Being able to dive into how other people feel helped me understand my emotions better. Even though, we are never quite ready for grief, and we never fully heal. But without knowing painand sadness, how will we ever really know happiness?

Rating:

★★★★

About The Author:

Shaun Usher was born in St. Albans in 1978 and currently lives in Wilmslow with his wife and two sons. He is the sole custodian of the popular blog, Letters of Note, a much-anticipated book of which is to be published in October 2013 following lengthy periods of hair-pulling and despair. His obsession with correspondence is particularly interesting given that he regularly receives–and more often than not doesn’t reply to–abuse from exasperated friends and family due to his apparent inability to return their calls, emails, and, on very rare occasions, letters. His second book is underway.

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Book Review · Books

The Dilemma by B.A. Paris [BOOK REVIEW]

The Dilemma is unfortunately a book I didn’t enjoy and one I won’t be recommending to anyone, ever. I dived in expecting a thriller, a mystery, a suspenseful novel. What I got was everything but.

About The Book:


Publisher: HQ

Pages: 352

Format I read it in: Audiobook

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday and she’s having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he’s secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she’s so happy, so excited – and the guests are about to arrive.

The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

One day that will change a family forever.

My Thoughts:

In the Dilemma, we follow the life of what seems like a normal family, and we slowly start to uncover their secrets. The mum is busy planning her 40th birthday party – a huge celebration to make up for the fact that she never had a wedding ceremony. Her husband is slightly annoyed at this, but tries to make her happy. Whilst planning a surprise, he learns that something bad may have happened – and this is where the dilemma appears. Should he tell his wife now, or wait until the party is over. At the same time, the mum also learns a secret, and she is also doubting whether she needs to tell her husband.

And that’s one of the main issues with this book. The couple spend all the book not talking to each other.

I am sorry, but what kind of relationship is that? What kind of a marriage?

The other issue is that the dad is not even sure that something bad happened – but he also refuses to find out more. There were so many ways he could have checked if that information was true, but instead he chose to spend all day worrying about it.

Then, we also have a woman who has been dreaming for a 40th birthday celebration to replace the wedding she never had. I will never be able to understand her obsession to push something into happening, to force a celebration in which she makes all guests believe she is the bride. Let’s just conclude this to be a desperate need for attention and just leave it there…

I was so frustrated with every character’s decision and their decision making process as well. There was no logic in some of the actions they were taking, and it felt like the book was dragged to be much longer than is actually needed. There was also little to no mystery in this book – just some weird “secret-hiding-family-drama” scenarios that were mediocre at best.

But I’ll give credit where credit is due – I liked the writing. The scene descriptions were vivid and the chapters ended on a note that made you want to keep going – and that is the sole reason I managed to finish this book.

If you’re ever in a Dilemma (see what I did there?) as to whether to pick this book up, I suggest you pass.

Rating:

About The Author:

B A Paris is the internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, The Breakdown, Bring Me Back and The Dilemma. Having sold over a million copies in the UK alone, she is a New York Times bestseller as well as a Sunday Times bestseller. Her books have been translated into 40 languages. Having lived in France for many years, she and her husband recently moved back to the UK.
Her fifth novel is out in 2021

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Book Review · Books

Brambles (Dauntless Path #0.5) by Intisar Khanani [BOOK REVIEW]

Brambles (Dauntless Path #0.5) by Intisar Khanani [BOOK REVIEW]

I am so glad that the author, Intisar Khanani, sent me an ARC e-copy of Brambles. Brambles is a prequel to Thorn, and is a part of the Dauntless Path series. I absolutely adored Thorn, and you can read my review of it HERE. When I heard there is a prequel, I was immediately sold!

About The Book:

Brambles (Dauntless Path #0.5) by Intisar Khanani [BOOK REVIEW]


Publisher: Harper Teen

Pages: 40

Format I read it in: Uncorrected Proof – ebook

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

In the kingdom of Adania, everyone knows what Princess Alyrra did to earn the court’s contempt, her mother’s disdain, and her brother’s hatred.

She betrayed her own.

Yet, the truth hides another story, one of honor and honesty, of a princess gambling her own life for another’s. It’s a tale of courage and consequences, and a choice that can never be undone.

A short story prequel to her multi-starred fantasy, Thorn, Intisar Khanani’s “Brambles” gives Alyrra’s account of what really happened all those years ago, and how a few critical days turned her life into a daily fight for survival.

My Thoughts:

In Brambles, we get to meet princess Alyrra before she is betrothed. We also meet her family and Valka as well. As short as this book was, it was filled with a lot of emotion, as well as a good moral story of doing what is right. Valka enjoyed messing up with the servants and ruining their lives, and when Alyrra stood up to her, it was at this point that everything changed.

Alyrra did what was right, but it was interesting to see her brother and her mother’s reactions. Clearly, their reputation was much more important to them than integrity. It is also in Brambles that we witness Alyrra’s brother and how cruel he can be. And most importantly, it is here we witness her first connection with the wind.

If you have already read Thorn, Brambles will be such a delight for you. It has Easter eggs hidden in it, and it also shows us a different side to the characters in more depth than we get to know them in Thorn. It is also lovely to see Alyrra’s life before she needs to move to the city, and how she behaves when nobody is watching.

But at the same time – if this is the first book you decide to pick up from this series, it is a perfect introduction to the story that’s about to follow. You’ll get to meet Alyrra and find out more about the circumstances she lives in. Intisar Khanani beautifully created a loop of content, that no matter which book you choose to read first, it will be a delight nevertheless.

I still find it amusing how the author managed to create such a compelling and intriguing prequel in only 40 pages.

Rating:

★★★★

About The Author:

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters. Prior to publishing her novels, Intisar worked as a public health consultant on projects relating to infant mortality and minority health, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy.

Intisar is the author of the Dauntless Path books (Thorn, The Theft of Sunlight), and her indie epic fantasy series, The Sunbolt Chronicles.

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