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Kirsty at Book - Love - Bug (Hampshire, UK)

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The Ballroom Cafe
The Ballroom Cafe
by Ann O'Loughlin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 28 Jun. 2015
This review is from: The Ballroom Cafe (Paperback)
I adored The Ballroom Café which is a very touching story and will no doubt touch the hearts of many people across the world (and not just those with Irish connections) as it features the uncovering of an Irish adoption scandal.

It brings to mind Philomena and the scandal which has shocked people in recent years. However, at the same time this book is not really comparable to to Philomena; The Ballroom Café is so much more than just a story about adoption; it is a thought-provoking story of community, of love and loss, of hope and of friendship. I loved that the backdrop was based on true events, and you can read more about the Irish adoption scandal below.

I immediately felt like I belonged in this story which is set in County Wicklow, Ireland. Whilst heavily tinged with tragedy, there is a really light and buoyancy that radiates from this book. The characters are fabulous, whether that be the main characters or the supporting cast. I loved the relationship between the two sisters and the way they communicated only by short terse notes having not spoken for decades and I loved the way the various characters really touched each others lived.

The story is both intriguing and captivating. I was totally hooked and when the ending came, it was satisfying but there were some loose ends that left me craving more. My one and only complaint would be that the ending felt a little bit rushed, as though the editing sword had fallen a little to harshly in places. I wanted to bask in the ending and I wanted to know more.

I loved Ann O'Loughlin's style of writing, the words and chapters flowed perfectly which keeps you turning the pages and the characters are all excellently drawn to create the perfect story. I was shocked to discover that The Ballroom Café is Ann's debut book, as it feels like something from an extremely accomplished author; Ann's years of journalism and writing clearly shine through.

The Woman Who Stole My Life
The Woman Who Stole My Life
by Marian Keyes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, funny in places, always messy, delicious and real, 8 Jun. 2015
The Woman Who Stole My Life is simply fabulous and utterly divine. It is engaging, funny in places, always messy, delicious and real. It feels so right to be back in the arms of Marian Keyes.

Whilst the main narrative of the present day spans only a dozen or so days, the story covers a four and a half year period as we slowly come to learn how Stella ended up in NYC and then how she ended up back in Ireland in the state she is in. I enjoyed the time when Stella was in the hospital most, watching that 'spark' develop into a raging fire. I also enjoyed watching that fire burn and I have to say I enjoyed it burning in Ireland more than in NYC.

The Woman Who Stole My Life is not gripping in a psychological thriller type of way, but it does draw you in and it keeps you engaged. It is plump; full of detail (none of which you want to skip right over) and Keyes' has the knack of making you feel like you are in the room with the characters.

I have to admit it is not my absolute favourite Marian Keyes book; it does not have the warm Irish family loveliness that the Walsh family books have and I also have to admit that it is not totally recognisable as a Marian Keyes book from the style of writing; it didn't feel like reading Marian (in the way that reading Watermelon, for example, feels like being in a room with Marian Keyes telling you a story). However, at the same time, it is not totally unrecognisable - I still loved it; it is absorbing and I love getting lost in the world of Marian Keyes. I am not sure MK could ever disappoint, and she certainly doesn't here!

The Spider in the Corner of the Room (The Project Trilogy)
The Spider in the Corner of the Room (The Project Trilogy)
Price: £3.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nikki Owen weaves a complicated web with this gripping psychological, conspiracy-theory thriller, 6 Jun. 2015
Nikki Owen weaves a complicated web in The Spider in the Corner of the Room which is a gripping psychological, conspiracy-theory thriller and the first in a trilogy.

Nikki Owen is an exceptional writer. She has managed to concoct a story where the reader does not have the slightest inkling of what is going on but at the same time it is not frustrating, but totally absorbing.

The story is set mainly with Maria in intense therapy sessions but the story shifts around a lot and it is not always entirely obvious whether the shifts are to her memories, an alternative present or the future. The Spider in the Corner of the Room is not the sort of book you can just skim through; it requires your full attention and concentration. Even with that, there is so much going on that it was not until I sat down to write this review that I fully worked out how the shifts worked and what the present time consisted of. It is hard to say anything more without giving away the storyline!

With each shift, I found myself thinking that I finally knew what and who to believe and then I would turn the page, the timeframe would shift again, and once more I would myself back to square one and was left wondering whether I was going mad.

I have not read a book which has a character with Asperger's before and have no first hand experience of it so cannot say how true to form it is, but from reading other reviews of this book, it would appear that Maria is a well-researched and thought out character rather than being the stereotypical version of someone with Asperger's.

The book is powerful and it does make you think how scary and powerless you would feel if you found yourself accused of a murder you cannot remember committing and in a prison where you do not know who you can trust or what you can believe.

Around the middle of the book, I did find my interest waning slightly as the book as a whole is a little drawn-out and slightly repetitive but that adds to the powerful message. The build up is slow and the pace does not really accelerate until towards the end of the book when the answers you have been searching for begin to suddenly cascade into the reader's awareness. As I was nearing the end of the book, I was worried that Nikki Owen was going to end the first in this trilogy without answering a single question that I had flying around my head, but suddenly, right at the last minute, everything begins to come together and the ending does wrap up this part of the series as well as leading the way perfectly for the next instalment.

End of Days (Penryn and the End of Days Book Three): 3
End of Days (Penryn and the End of Days Book Three): 3
by Susan Ee
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Penryn and Raffe return! Swoon!, 25 May 2015
I have waited for over a year for the third book in this addictive and explosive trilogy from Susan Ee. The first two books are incredible and so End of Days had a lot to live up to!

There are two things that I love most about this trilogy.

First...although each book leaves you desperate for more, there is no messing around at the beginning of the next book; we get to dive straight back into the storyline exactly where we left off. This is simply fabulous; there is not anything worse than being left on a complete cliffhanger (as the first book does, whereas the second book stops mid-flight, literally!) and then when you finally get your hands on the next instalment you find the author takes you around the houses for a few chapters to 'settle you back in'. Susan Ee glides straight back into the action and you instantly remember why you were so hooked in the first place. This also means that if you have not had yet had the pleasure of reading any of these books, then you can read all three and they will feel like one continuous story without having the tortuous wait that most fans have had to endure!

The second thing I love about this trilogy is Raffe (not in that order, I definitely love Raffe the most)! I adored the relationship and interaction that Penryn and Raffe have in the first book, which sadly you see less of in the second book but it is back with a vengeance at the start of End of Days as Penryn and Raffe are reunited. My absolute favourite parts of this book are Penryn and Raffe based - I don't want to give anything away but look out for Chapters 5 and 12 (I literally could not tear my eyes away from the page). If anything, I wish there had been more of these moments.

The chapters in End of Days are short which means the pace is fast. Susan Ee has done a great job with continuity of all the threads into the last part of this trilogy. There continues to be plenty of action from humans, angels, demons and locusts! I read it easily in two sittings, and it would have been one had I had a choice!

I felt like everything was wrapped up by the end (although felt perhaps a little rushed), however, my only complaint would be that when the end came, I found myself thinking "That cannot be it". There simply is not enough of the one thing all fans of this trilogy have been waiting for throughout the three books! I had longed for it for so long that I wanted to bask in it forever but it is all over so quickly. Then you turn the page and find an epilogue, and your heart skips a beat, but it does not really add anything in terms of closure! Perhaps Susan Ee will treat us with a surprise fourth book?!!

Highly recommended as a trilogy; I just wish there had been more! The Penryn and the End of Days Trilogy is not just a young adult trilogy - it can be enjoyed by YA and adults alike (I can definitely not be classed as a YA anymore!). If you've enjoyed The Angel Trilogy by L.A. Weatherly, I recommend you check out this trilogy too!

Overall, I absolutely loved the trilogy, but I have given this third book 4 stars as I did not love it as much as I loved the first!

You Think You Know Me (Choc Lit)
You Think You Know Me (Choc Lit)
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rollercoaster ride!, 24 May 2015
The first two thirds of this book is a gentle but interesting ride in which Clare Chase draws you in, but it cannot prepare you for the wild roller coaster that develops. You Think You Know Me transforms into a gripping page turner and I did not come close to guessing the outcome until it was thrust upon me.

I was disappointed once the ending came, but only because I had become so embroiled in the story that my brain, and my heart, was longing for more.

The character portrayals in You Think You Know Me are excellent and combined with the fabulous storyline, it make this an incredible debut from Clare Chase.

You can always rely on Choc Lit (publishers) to deliver the absolute best authors and they have not failed to deliver, once again, on this occasion. You Think You Know Me is chick Lit with a razor sharp edge.

New Disney Frozen (I'm) Olaf Reversible Panel Single DUVET Cover Pillowcase Gift
New Disney Frozen (I'm) Olaf Reversible Panel Single DUVET Cover Pillowcase Gift
Offered by Alectro toys
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Seems to be good quality and washes well, 17 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A lovely item - purchased as a gift for my goddaughter who absolutely adores it. Seems to be good quality and washes well.

Set Me Free
Set Me Free
Price: £0.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Another fabulous Glen Avich story which will cast a spell over you, 17 May 2015
This review is from: Set Me Free (Kindle Edition)
Set Me Free is the greatly anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Watch Over Me and Take Me Home. Readers of Dani's books will be longing to revisit Glen Avich in the hope of catching a glimpse of some of the past characters as well as discovering new ones, and they will not be disappointed!

Set Me Free might not be my absolute favourite but it is certainly one of my favourites and without a doubt comparably good to Watch Over Me and Take Me Home. It made me realise how much I had missed Dani's books and Glen Avich. Dani has easily become one of my favourite authors of all time; Dani has a unique style of writing that sets her aside from other authors of the same genre and the storylines are instantly recognisable as being a Sacerdoti tale.

Dani's adult books have the power to cast a spell over the reader; they are absolutely enchanting in a raw and powerful way. Whilst the characters lives are tinged with sadness, Glen Avich contains magic which has the potential to make everything better.

Whilst Set Me Free is a standalone book, readers of the earlier Glen Avich books will recognise some of the characters. In particular, we get to catch up with Inary and there are also references to both Eilidh and Alex. I love the way that the Glen Avich books are intrinsically linked and the supernatural element which we saw in the earlier books continues in Set Me Free but once again it is subtly perfect.

I have to admit, I had completely forgotten about the prologue until I saw it mentioned in a fellow reviewers review. I had got so wrapped up in the story that I had forgotten the clever hint that Dani had set right at the start.

Set Me Free is a book of ethereal beauty; it is delicately sensitive and precious and you should bathe in its wonderfulness. I found myself racing towards the end of the book, desperate to know what happens but at the same time desperate for it never to end.

Glen Avich and its cast will stay you for a long time, and I hope it isn't too long before Dani allows us to visit again! Dani comes out with the most beautiful lines that they make you go back and re-read them to let their beauty sink in a little further.

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train
Price: £5.70

4.0 out of 5 stars Not as gripping as I thought given the hype but I did enjoy the ride., 17 May 2015
I had obviously heard of The Girl on the Train, I had seen people reading it on my commute into London and I knew from Marian Keyes twitter page that she considered it to be #GripLit, but other than that, I had no idea what to expect - I had not read any articles or reviews and I had not even read the synopsis. I just knew I wanted to read it.

The Girl on the Train is certainly gripping. The book is told from three different perspectives - Rachel, Anna and Megan. Megan's perspective is slightly behind in terms of the timeframe at the outset but eventually catches up; you will need to pay attention to a degree. Each time the perspective shifted, I found myself longing to go back to know what else that character had to share with me whilst simultaneously longing to stay with the current characters version of events. As a reader, you also have to try and decipher who you can trust and whether you believe what you are reading as all three of the main characters have traits that cause them to be unreliable at best.

The book does not contain the sort of characters that you will necessarily like or feel a connection with but it is the curiosity and intrigue that will keep you hooked to this particular tale. It is quite an achievement to grip a reader to a book in which the reader does not actually like any of the characters (although the characters are well portrayed). However, this is the sort of book that you will find yourself saying 'I'll just read one more chapter' until suddenly you find yourself at the end!

I have to admit that I was lulled in and I did not guess the ending, but had I taken the time to think it through along with the 'it is the last person you would expect' philosophy then perhaps I would have done.

Not as gripping as I thought given the hype but I did enjoy the ride.

Take a Chance on Me (Choc Lit)
Take a Chance on Me (Choc Lit)
Price: £2.63

5.0 out of 5 stars Another beauty from Choc Lit, 17 May 2015
This book reminded me of Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson (in terms of the steamy scenes and the strength of the connections between the main characters, rather than the Christmas theme) and if you liked that book I am sure you will enjoy this one.

There are some particularly steamy scenes in Take A Chance on Me but they are exceptionally well written. When I first started reading, I wasn't sure about Sadie; I thought she was going to be shallow and irritating but I was wrong. She soon stumbles across Mac and this instantly brought a smile to my face. The book is so well written that the connection between Sadie and Mac is exceptionally strong and it jumps off the page. It feels so real that you feel like you are living it yourself so when the inevitable problem arises, you, as a reader, feel the longing feeling in your heart as though it were your own loss.

I enjoyed the fact that although this is a romance book, it has a strong business element to it and I was not surprised to discover that Debbie Flint had a career in finance once upon a time. Whilst the romantic side of the book is not all that unpredictable, it is still gripping because the emotions are so powerful and the other side of the storyline has plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing.

The Life You Left
The Life You Left
Price: £2.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grabbed my heart and soul and dragged me straight into the pages, 10 May 2015
This review is from: The Life You Left (Kindle Edition)
I had been looking for a new Irish author, and I have found that in Carmel Harrington, who is easily comparable with the best; Cecelia Ahern and Marian Keyes.

The Life You Left took me totally by surprise when it grabbed my heart and soul and dragged me straight into the pages. I had not expected the storyline that unfolded in front of my eyes; the last thing I had expected when I read the back of the book was murder and guardian angels but I loved every minute of it.

The concept of guardian angels may not sit with everyone's beliefs but there is something about the way that The Life You Left is written which absorbs you into this world where I did not doubt or question the storyline for even a nanosecond. I loved the references to white feathers (something which we have in our family) and I had not come across the pennies from heaven before. I was walking out of the tube station the other morning, and sat there glistening on one of the steps was a penny; it made me smile on an otherwise bleak morning, so thank you Carmel for bringing something new to my life as well as your fantastic book.

Harrington has an incredible writing style and you can feel the emotions pouring off of the page. It made me cry, it made me laugh and it made me feel rage at a certain character. I felt the fears and anxiety radiating off the characters but I also felt the love and energy pouring out of their hearts.

The Life You Left is packed full of a fantastic cast of characters, both goodies and baddies. I warmed to the lead character, I adored her children, I loved her twin and the other supporting cast members and I loved despising the baddies. The Life You Left is warm and uplifting, it is about moving on and fresh starts, it is about love and friendship and it is about making a difference. This book will stay with me for a very long time.

The back of the book is absolutely spot on - if you like Jojo Moyes and Cecelia Ahern, you will also love Carmel Harrington.

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