#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Girl He used to Know’ and ‘On the Island’ by Tracey Garvis Graves #BookReview #Romance

Today I’m reviewing two novels by Tracey Garvis Graves, whose debut novel, On the Island (2012) spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. The novel has been translated into twenty-nine languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. I read the novel earlier this year and I enjoyed it so much that I also bought her second novel, The Girl He Used To Know (2019), which I enjoyed even more! Her books are romantic, but the romantic couples have highly problematic relationships, so there’s plenty of angst, before we get to the happy ending! Which is fine by me, I quite like some authentic, controversial and thought-provoking, romantic turmoil.

On The Island by [Tracey Garvis Graves]

From the Blurb

When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a summer job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family’s holiday home in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation: a tropical island beats the library any day.

T.J. has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He’s almost seventeen and if having had cancer wasn’t bad enough, he now has to spend his first summer in remission with his family instead of his friends.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.’s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Marooned on an uninhabited island, Anna and T.J. work together to obtain water, food, fire and shelter but, as the days turn to weeks then months and finally years, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man…

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My Review

This novel starts with a bang until they reach the island, and then it slows down, as the unlikely couple are stranded on a desert island for literally years, and in the meantime, the teenager becomes a man and they fall in love.

Their time on the island is at first traumatic. They both experience illness, hardship and emotional anguish due to the isolation and harshness of a life with no amenities at all. Their situation is challenging and it’s very well described. I felt claustrophobic on the island too! Their love helps them get through the worst, but is it real, or is it a product of their unique situation? 

The next part of the novel, back in civilisation brings even more challenges. They’ve broken too many rules and taboos and their family and society’s demands strains their relationship to breaking point, more than once.

The difficulties they face and the way in which they gradually overcome the negative forces around them, as well their own  traumas, was nerve-racking, although we’re ultimately given a believable and happy ending, no spoiler there, because it’s the way they reach their happy ending that concerns readers of romantic fiction.

The characters grow in age and evolve emotionally throughout the novel, and their love is constantly tested. It’s an emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end, which I admit I love! 

****

The Girl He Used to Know: A Novel by [Tracey Garvis Graves]

From the Blurb

Annika Rose likes being alone.
She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way. She just can’t read people. She prefers the quiet solitude of books or playing chess to being around others. Apart from Jonathan. She liked being around him, but she hasn’t seen him for ten years. Until now that is. And she’s not sure he’ll want to see her again after what happened all those years ago.


My Review

I loved this novel, so much. There was plenty of angst, too, but Annika was so easy to love. She reminded me of other heroines on the spectrum, such as Eleanor Oliphant, which I loved and reviewed here, another favourite which I reviewed here, The Cactus, and The wonderful,  Kiss Quotient, reviewed here.   

The Girl He Used to Know is a heartbreaking and uplifting second chance romance. Annika is an unusual, loveable heroine, who faces many challenges due to her brutal honesty and lack of social skills, which Jonathan finds it hard to cope with, in spite of his efforts. Johnathan is a worthy hero, but there are heartbreaking pitfalls to their happy ending. The story is told from both characters’ first person point of view, so we get to understand the characters as if we knew them intimately.

Especially for readers who enjoy uplifting romantic novels with plenty of angst and complex characters.

****

 

 

 

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Little Disasters’ and ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ by Sarah Vaughan #BookReview

Today I’m reviewing two novels by Sarah Vaughan, who read English at Oxford and worked at the Guardian as a news, health and political correspondent, until she turned to writing fiction. I’ll be reviewing her two most recent novels, Anatomy of a Scandal (2019) and Little Disasters (2020).

Anatomy of a Scandal: soon to be a major Netflix series by [Sarah Vaughan]

My Review 

Anatomy of a Scandal is a brilliant legal thriller which also deals with #Metoo issues, as well as political corruption, marriage, family drama, among other contemporary topics.

A charismatic politician is charged with the rape of his former mistress and the reader witnesses the subsequent events unfold through the eyes of his wife and the female prosecuting lawyer. Will his political friends, including the PM, save him or will this be the end of his political career?

It’s written from the point of view of several characters, one, Kate, his wife, is the only first person narrator, the other points of view are narrated by the author in third person.

It’s so well written and engaging that once I started I was drawn in and hooked from page one to the final line. The pacing is perfect, as the action is packed from beginning to end.  

However it’s not just an interesting and engaging novel, it also brings up ethical issues faced by many of the characters, particularly regarding consent in sexual relationships and the consequences of lack of consent, infidelity in marriage, and political corruption. The topics brought up, and the political context, seem relevant to contemporary politics and politicians in the UK, which made the novel even more engaging.

I highly recommend it to lovers of thought provoking legal thrillers. It’s set mainly in London, and partly in flashbacks at Oxford University. 

Anatomy of a Scandal will soon be released as a miniseries on Netflix, more information here.  I can’t wait to see it!

****

Little Disasters: the compelling and thought-provoking new novel from the author of the Sunday Times bestseller Anatomy of a Scandal by [Sarah Vaughan]

My Review

Little Disasters is a compelling family drama. Once I started reading the novel and the traumatic events narrated, I couldn’t stop. The story gradually unfolds with plenty of unexpected twists and diversions right to the last chapter.

Liz finds herself in an impossible situation when Jess brings her 10-month old baby to the ER with a skull fracture while Liz is the resident pediatrician on duty that night in the ER.

Liz’s sympathies are torn, but following the hospital protocol, social services must be involved, and that is where the rift begins between friends, and the drama begins for Jess and her family.

It’s a heartbreaking and brutally honest representation of a group of young mothers and fathers coping with full time jobs, marriage, and our increasingly complex lifestyles which sometimes lead to helplessness and desperation. It brings home eloquently the challenges of raising a family and parenting.

I listened to the audio version on Scribd which was brilliantly read by three different narrators, but I also enjoy reading through the chapters on my kindle.

Amazon US Link

Amazon UK Links

Colouring by my granddaughter, Elsa.

 

 

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Hating Game’ by Sally Thorne #Romance #BookReview @Audible

I read a lot of psychological thrillers, historical and literary fiction, and personal growth books, so I alternate with light and/or steamy romance, although romantic comedies are my favourite type of escapist fiction. I love stepping into a fairytale world where happy ever afters are guaranteed, after a tiny bit of angst and a few misunderstandings or some suspense…

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It’s all Cary Grant’s fault, he taught me to love romantic comedies, Audrey Hepburn is also guilty, as Charade (1963) is my favourite and if you haven’t seen it you’re in luck, because you can still watch this timeless, suspenseful, romantic comedy, which is also a thriller, set in Paris (where else?), for the first time!

But, back to today’s featured novel. I’ve recently discovered Australian author, Sally Thorne, who has written two bestselling novels so far, The Hating Game (2016) and 99% Mine (2019). I enjoyed them both. Today I’m reviewing her first novel, The Hating Game. Amazon.com link below.

The Hating Game: A Novel by [Sally Thorne]

From the Blurb

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman work together and they hate each other. They have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude. The tension grows when they both apply for the same promotion.

My Review

The Hating Game is a fun office romance, in which two colleagues who hate each other intensely, mainly due to their opposing personalities and life experiences, find themselves competing for the same promotion. They both desperately want the job for personal and professional reasons. As a result, the tension between Lucy and Joshua reaches its boiling point, and that’s when they discover that they don’t hate each other after all, but can they trust each other?

The premise doesn’t sound new or riveting, but I assure you it is a highly entertaining read. Their daily banter is entertaining, and the way their relationship gradually develops from enemies to lovers, as well as the expected resolution of the problem and happy ever after, is as believable as it is adorable.

I admit I was in the mood for a light, fun, romance and that was exactly what I got! The Hating Game is well written with engaging characters, for me that means I just kept turning the pages and hardly noticed a few hours had passed. In fact, I read it twice, once on my kindle and once on audible.

I must tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook version. Did I tell you I love listening to audiobooks while I’m cooking, cleaning, working out or doing my laundry? It makes chores such fun!  

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By the way, Lucy Hale and Robbie Amell are going to star in the film based on novel. More information about the movie here-

So, if you’re in the mood for a romantic comedy, you’ll love The Hating Game! Amazon UK link below.

Colouring by my granddaughter, Elsa.

 

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Apartment’ by K L Slater #PsychologicalThriller #Audible

Today I’m reviewing one of my favourite genres and authors, a creepy psychological thriller set in the heart of London by K. L. Slater, The Apartment. 

The Apartment by [K. L. Slater]

From the Blurb

Freya Miller needs a miracle. In the fallout of her husband’s betrayal, she’s about to lose her family home, and with it the security she craves for her five-year-old daughter, Skye.

Adrift and alone, she’s on the verge of despair until a chance meeting with the charismatic Dr Marsden changes everything. He’s seeking a new tenant for a surprisingly affordable flat in a fashionable area of London.

Adder House sounds too good to be true, but Freya really can’t afford to decline the opportunity and she will soon discover that Adder House has dark secrets…

Kensington Palace Image from Pixabay

My Review

The Apartment is difficult to pin down to one genre. It has mainly thriller, suspense and psychological aspects as well as gothic, ghostly and historical touches, and a hint of romance. It’s a creepy and ultimately unsettling novel which picks up speed quickly merging into a fast paced thriller.

K. L. Slater creates an atmospheric tale with engaging and unique characters, set in Kensington with its busy commercial streets, spectacular museums, famous parks, palace and secluded, affluent condominiums. I’m familiar with this well-known area of London, so it was easy and exciting to imagine Ader House and the surrounding area.

I listened to The Apartment on Audible and a huge plus to the audiobook version was listening to the author and narrator discussing the novel.

Well done! A fabulous read for readers who enjoy spine-chilling, psychological thrillers!

K. L. Slater’s latest novels, Little Whispers is on my kindle, waiting to be read (such a long list, but I’ll get there, eventually!)

Drawing by my granddaughter, Elsa, 6 years old.

 

 

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge 22nd April: Stories including vices

99-Word Flash Fiction Challenge

April 22, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a vice. It can be part of a character or a part of the story. The vice can be the focus or it can be subtle. Think of ways to use a vice (or multiples, if you are so daring) to create a compelling flash fiction.

Respond by April 28, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. All writers are welcome! Check out the other stories here.

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Not Quite an Affair

‘Where’s lunch?’

‘In the fridge.’

‘Again, dad?’

Afraid so.’

‘Don’t you care?’

‘Of course I care, but what can I do?’

‘Talk to mum.’

‘I’ve tried.’

‘We’re not a family any more, just three people who live in the same house.’

‘It’s hard to reach her.’

‘Doesn’t she love us anymore?’

‘Not like she used to.’

‘Why doesn’t she want to talk to us?’

‘She’s busy.’

‘It’s worse than an affair.’

‘God, no! That would be much worse.’

‘Not for me! I swear I’m going to throw her kindle out the window.’

‘She’ll kill you if you do that.’

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You all know how much I love reading, even more than writing, even more than speaking, or walking, or talking…

Is it a vice? It might be…

Is this autobiographical? It might be…

Why live with only the people around you when you can live with so many more…

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What happens when a writer prefers reading to writing?

It’s the first Wednesday of March!

Time to blog hop with The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

 

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What happens when a writer prefers reading to writing?

I’m a writer, but before being a writer, I was a reader.

I’m still a reader. In fact, I think I’ll always prefer reading to writing.

I blame my kindle app, which I have downloaded onto my three devices. I always carry all my books with me. I’ve even read entire books on my smart phone, if no other device was available to me at the time.

I prefer the app to the Kindle device because I don’t like the pixellated page turns. The app on my devices is great, the page turns smoothly, and I can choose font size, brightness, and background colour. I love sepia, it’s so kind to my eyes. I can go backwards or forwards easily, look up or highlight words, and even make comments, quickly and easily.

It is undoubtedly my most valuable possession, although the app itself is free, and the books are very cheap and plentiful. I have always loved reading, and now it’s just so easy, quick, and cheap. I can buy any book with a click and start reading comfortably wherever I am immediately. It’s heaven!

When people tell me they haven’t got a Kindle, the app, or that they don’t read ebooks, I feel so sorry for them. They’re missing out on so much pleasure! Most of the self-published or Indie books I’ve read have been just as good as books published by publishing houses. I have come across a few I didn’t enjoy, or were in need of serious editing, but they are a very small percentage.

There are few surprises. I read the burb, some comments, and then ‘Look Inside’ and that’s enough for me to know whether I’ll like it or not. I’ve been misled only very rarely. Basically, I know what I’m buying. It’s what I like to read, and want to read, and it usually costs between nothing and the price of a tall latte, for hours of pleasure!

I travel in time and space, see places, meet people, and experience emotions beyond my real life, almost every day.

Just in case you were wondering, I also read and carry paperbacks, too, especially if I’m going away for the weekend for example, just in case I might need the feel of paper… but I read 90% on my kindle, and that’s not going to change soon.

My only complaint is that there aren’t enough minutes in the day to read all the books I have on my kindle! I’m convinced reading helps me be a better writer and a happier person, but all that glitters is not gold…

To answer my initial question: What happens when a writer prefers reading to writing?

  1. Reading distracts me from my writing. Sounds like a bad thing, but sometimes I need to set my writing aside, breathe, and read something different. I’m also convinced every book I read teaches me something about the craft.
  2. Reading also humbles me. There are so many great books out there to read, why would anyone want to read mine? I’m just a drop in the ocean.

Oh dear 😦 I’ve just finished a great book. I’m happy :), but now I feel so insecure:(  

Check out what other writers have to say today!