Blog Tour · Book Review · Books

The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery [BLOG TOUR]

I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery! Huge thank you to the team at Mills and Boon, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About The Book:


Publisher: Mills and Boon

Pages: 385

Format I read it in: Paperback

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

★★★

Synopsis:

When Daisy’s dad married Sage’s mum, Daisy was thrilled to get a new sister. Except Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.

As a young girl, Sage found herself living in a palatial home where she didn’t belong. Intimidated by her new sister’s intelligence she used her popularity to put Daisy down. After their parents’ divorced, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled to Europe.

Years later, Daisy never expects – or wants – to see Sage again. But brought together by an accident involving the little sister they have in common they must learn to put aside their differences. Slowly the stepsisters begin to view the past through one another’s eyes and long buried secrets are revealed. Until their fragile truce is threatened by one careless act that could have devastating consequences…

My Thoughts:

When I heard about the author, I knew I have heard that name before and I thought I have read some of her books. It turns out, I have “The Friendship List” in my library, but I haven’t read it yet. As soon as I finished “The Stepsisters”, I was full of regret that I haven’t read the other one as well. That is about to change soon.

The Stepsisters is such a relaxing novel, in the sense that it provides a certain sense of comfort while you’re reading it. I found myself flying through the pages. The stories intrigued me and every chapter ended with me wanting to read a little bit more. The beginning was a bit hard for me to get into. It felt like a lot of characters were introduced very quickly. However, as soon as you get through the introductory part, everything goes smoothly.

Even though the synopsis focuses on the two sisters, Sage and Daisy, we also have the third sister – Cassidy. All three sisters have different qualities, and even though for some time, they were all living in the same household, they all have different experiences growing up. Sage and Cassidy were always close to each other. Sage bullied Daisy, which led to Cassidy also hating Daisy, with no real reason. And all of these feelings somehow stayed with them in the years to come, creating a very complex and fragile relationship between the three of them. Throughout the book, circumstances will make them cross paths again. This will give them a change to rekindle their relationship and either change or stay the same.

I really enjoyed the story as a whole.

The relationship between the stepsisters really intrigued me. I loved how their differences were explored, alongside with their opinions and past and current choices in life. However, there were a few things I didn’t enjoy, such as the random racist accusation that was thrown, and how both stepsisters handled this issue. It left me very confused. The other part was Sage’s story, and how it ended. For what she did and the people she hurt in the process, forgiveness shouldn’t have been served to her on a plate. There should have been a bigger road to redemption, and it’s just not a reality that I believe in.

To conclude, The Stepsisters is a very good choice of a book to dive into this summer. The variety in characters and their storylines, as well as the relatively small chapters will definitely keep you hooked and entertained.

About The Author:

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—40 million copies of her books have sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

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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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