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Review: Open Book by Jessica Simpson

Format: Audiobook finished 6 April 2020

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Jessica reveals for the first time her inner monologue and most intimate struggles. Guided by the journals she’s kept since age fifteen, and brimming with her unique humour and down-to-earth humanity, Open Book is as inspiring as it is entertaining.

Review: This is hands down the best memoir that I have ever read (or had read to me as I listened to the audiobook). I can’t say I’m a huge Jessica Simpson fan and would struggle to name more than about two songs but I loved the show Newlyweds and she was part of pop culture when I was growing up and going through my teens.

I had no idea about some of the experiences that she had to go through and it made for heart breaking stuff. As she narrates the audiobook, there were occasions where you could hear her voice shaking and this completely set me off as well. The behind the scenes elements for newlyweds was incredible – you really can never tell.

I loved how candid she was, how vulnerable she came across at time, the details were juicy but at the same time utterly brutal at times. You begin to think ‘how could she let a man do that to her’? and then when you think about it, you can completely understand how and why it happens.

I learnt so much about Jessica in this book having had no idea about the abuse and addition elements of her life.

I would highly recommend this book. Even if you’re not a fan, it is almost impossible to read this book and not have respect for her at the end. Writing a book like this takes balls!

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Review: Our Rainbow Queen by Sali Hughes

Format: Hardback finished 3 April 2020

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: This riotously colourful book takes a photographic journey through Queen Elizabeth IIs ten decades of colour-blocked style.

Review: It is no secret that I am a big fan of the Queen so this book was an absolute delight to read. Yes there are not many words but a pictures speaks a thousand words.

Each image was accompanied by information about where the outfit was worn and often there were pieces of trivia about the Queen or about the outfit and the circumstance she wore it in.

I read this in two sittings and it has taken pride of place on my bookshelf. A must for anyone who is a fan of the Queen or fashion.

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Review: The Passengers by John Marrs

Format: Audiobook finished 23 March 2020

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

Review: This was the first book I’ve read by John Marrs and I will definitely be picking up more. I listened to the audiobook of this and the structure of it was brilliant. A cast of voices with the newsflashes worked in throughout the book.

If the idea of driverless cars terrifies you then this probably isn’t the best book to read but then again if you are in favour, you may not feel favourable towards this the content of this book. It took some courtroom/detective elements, threw in some hostages and a jury and out came a brilliant book.

It was shocking, suspenseful, it had me captivated by each of the characters and provided for one hell of a ride.

I can’t really say more than that without spoilers. I would however say that you should read The One by John Marrs first as that book is referenced in this one.

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Review: Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams

Format: Audiobook finished 9 March 2020

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

What if you almost missed the love of your life?

Nadia gets the 7.30 train every morning without fail. Well, except if she oversleeps or wakes up at her friend Emma’s after too much wine.

Daniel really does get the 7.30 train every morning, which is easy because he hasn’t been able to sleep properly since his dad died.

One morning, Nadia’s eye catches sight of a post in the daily paper:

To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I’m the guy who’s always standing near the doors… Drink sometime?

So begins a not-quite-romance of near-misses, true love, and the power of the written word.

Review:

I really enjoyed this light-hearted ‘romcom’ and I listened to the audiobook.

Twenty-nine year old Nadia has had a few hard relationships and is disillusioned with love. She wonders if she will ever find her perfect man? Her life was a bit of a muddle but she had a new plan and she will become a beacon of organisation and the rest will fall in place.
On the first day of her new plan she sees an advert in the ‘Love Connections’ column in the paper talking about “the cute blonde girl on the 7:30 train.” Could this be her?

Daniel is a romantic at heart but he lacks confidence. Making a promise to himself not to remain the underdog he places an advert on the ‘Love Connections’ column hoping to get the attention of the cute blonde girl on his morning train.

It was fun to read their ads back and forward (this element reminded me of The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary) and we follow them through a few near misses as their paths crossed and almost crossed several times.

I enjoyed the strong friendship theme of this book as well as the support and encouragement Nadia and her two best friends show for each other. There was a good undertone of feminism and an LGBTQ+ element as well. The friendships felt real and genuine.

The author covers issues like gaslighting, consent and toxic relationships without going too deep. There were lots of humours moments, as Nadia and Daniel deal with the minefield that is dating. This book kept me engaged and was a welcome break to the normal thrillers and crime I read and this was a well written and thought out book that reflected real life.

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Review: Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner

Format: Hardback (from library) finished 7 March 2020

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

The remarkable life of Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret who was also a Maid of Honour at the Queen’s Coronation. Anne Glenconner reveals the real events behind The Crown as well as her own life of drama, tragedy and courage, with the wonderful wit and extraordinary resilience which define her.

Review:

An extraordinary memoir of drama, tragedy, and royal secrets by Anne Glenconner–a close member of the royal circle and lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret.

Anne Glenconner has been at the centre of the royal circle from childhood, when she met and befriended the future Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, the Princess Margaret. Though the firstborn child of the 5th Earl of Leicester, who controlled one of the largest estates in England, as a daughter she was deemed “the greatest disappointment” and unable to inherit. Since then she has needed all her resilience to survive the vipers of court life with her sense of humour intact.

A unique witness to landmark moments in royal history, Maid of Honor at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, and a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret until her death in 2002, Anne’s life has encompassed extraordinary drama and tragedy. In Lady in Waiting, she will share many intimate royal stories from her time as Princess Margaret’s closest confidante as well as her own battle for survival: her broken-off first engagement on the basis of her “mad blood”; her 54-year marriage to the volatile, unfaithful Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner, who left his fortune to a former servant; the death in adulthood of two of her sons; a third son she nursed back from a six-month coma following a horrific motorcycle accident. Through it all, Anne has carried on, traveling the world with the royal family, including visiting the White House, and developing the Caribbean island of Mustique as a safe harbour for the rich and famous-hosting Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Raquel Welch, and many other politicians, aristocrats, and celebrities.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book – helped by the fact i really enjoy autobiographies and i love a book about the Royal Family. Definitely one i would recommend as it gave a real insight into this mostly hidden world.

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Review: The Other People by C.J. Tudor

Format: Audiobook finished 29 February 2020

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .

Review:

This is a book I listened to and was disappointed that I didn’t enjoy this more. It was a shorter book than the normal thrillers I read and the style was well done, with it switching between the three main characters.

The story is told from three points of view. Gabe’s wife, Jenny, and their young daughter, Izzy, were murdered in their home three years ago but Gabe is convinced that Izzy is still alive after he sees her in the back of a car. Despite no one believing him, and a father-in-law who identified the bodies of his wife and daughter, he has devoted his life to searching for her. The second POV is a woman and her daughter who are on the run from an unnamed threat. And finally, we have the waitress who often waits on Gabe at the restaurant where she works.

All three characters are dealing with grief and loss. Their stories will come together and intersect in surprising ways

I gave it the three stars as it started really well but lost me about half way through. The story started to get more complex which is fine if it is done well.

There is a small paranormal aspect that did not fit in well with the rest, and I did not understand what it had to do with the movement of the story or the finality of the plot.

It was an okay read. It’s nothing that had me thinking about it after I was done, no big jaw-dropping moments, and probably nothing I will recommend. It’s a good read for a holiday or by the pool.

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Review: Clean Break by Tammy Cohen

Format: Kindle finished 25 February 2020

Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis:

Marriage is complicated, especially for Kate. Her husband Jack has a temper on him, and has been an absent father for years. Kate knows it’s time for a divorce. The trouble is, Jack refuses. And now that he has found out Kate has met another man, his jealous rages escalate. Can Kate rid herself of her jealous husband before it’s too late?

Review:

This short story from Tammy is fantastic. Despite only taking about an hour to read, the whole book kept me captivated and I loved every word. Oh and the twist at the end was incredible.

The story switches between two viewpoints chapter by chapter – a husband and a wife. It’s the tale of their marriage and has such a hook for the reader.

The characters feel genuine and real and despite the length you certainly build up feelings for them (good and bad ones).

Again I cannot rave enough about the ending and the only reason this didn’t get 5/5 was because I wanted more than the 128 pages. Definitely not one to be missed and I’ll be looking for more short reads very soon.

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Review: The Donor by Clare Mackintosh

Format: Kindle finished 23 February 2020

Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis:

When Lizzie’s daughter Meg is given a life-saving heart transplant, Lizzie feels hugely grateful to the nameless donor. Then she receives a letter from the donor’s mother, Karen, asking to meet, and it seems like the least she can do.

But as soon as Karen is welcomed into their lives, Lizzie feels something isn’t right. And before long, she can’t help but worry that by inviting Karen in, she might have put Meg in danger . . .

Review:

A quick read (about an hour for me), but an awesome one. This is how to write a short story. The terror of the situation comes across so well.

In this book, Clare Mackintosh broaches the subject of organ donation and the moral dilemma over whether or not it is a good idea to meet the family of people whose loss saved the life of your loved one. Organ donation is a very emotional topic, and Clare handles it with sensitivity.

However, this isn’t a simple tale and Clare has you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole book which quickly escalates. There are twists and turns as you’d expect from Clare and there would definitely be the possibility of a sequel. A thrilling and captivating book.

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Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Format: Hardback finished 22 February 2020

Rating 3/5

Synopsis:

When Emira is apprehended at a supermarket for ‘kidnapping’ the white child she’s actually babysitting, it sets off an explosive chain of events. Her employer Alix, a feminist blogger with the best of intentions, resolves to make things right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke and wary of Alix’s desire to help. When a surprising connection emerges between the two women, it sends them on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know – about themselves, each other, and the messy dynamics of privilege.

Review:

The book started very strong, I loved the main character Emira, and that she is shown in a situation that is likely possible in the real life. You immediately feel for Emira and this felt like a book that wouldn’t shy away from dealing with the related issues. I felt for her and hoped that this will deal with these issues however, it focused on issues you’d expect in a YA.

There are some great characters especially Briar and Emira and I loved the relationship between them. You could very easily picture the two of them in your head. Alix was a horrible person, and I think Kelley was meant to be a hated character but I think he was lacking – I didn’t feel anything for him either way. The opening scene in a supermarket where Emira is accused of taking a child which will make terrific viewing if there is a TV or film adaptation of this book.

For me, this was an interesting book but not an outstanding one.