Review: Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams

 

Title: Our Stop

Author: Laura Jane Williams

Published: August 8th 2019, Avon UK

Status: Read August 2019, courtesy Avon/Netgalley

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My Thoughts:

Our Stop is a light hearted romantic comedy from UK columnist and Instagram influencer, Laura Jane Williams.

“To the devastatingly cute blonde girl on the Northern line with the black designer handbag and coffee stains on her dress–you get on at Angel, on the 7.30, always at the end nearest the escalator, and always in a hurry. I’m the guy who’s standing near the doors of your carriage, hoping today’s a day you haven’t overslept. Drink some time?”

Not quite sure how to introduce himself to the ‘devastatingly cute blonde girl’ who regularly shares his train carriage during his morning commute, Daniel Weissman opts to place a message in ‘Missed Connections’. Nadia Fielding is not entirely convinced the message is meant for her but she is willing to take a chance of finding true love, and replies. A flirtation ensues through the column, but when their first planned meeting goes awry it seems it will all come to nothing…unless fate steps in.

Generally the tone of the Our Stop is a light and witty romance with a very millennial vibe, though Williams touches on some serious issues such as emotional abuse, consent, depression, and UK politics.

The story unfolds from the alternating perspectives of Nadia and Daniel as their relationship is impeded by a series of missed opportunities. Nadia is likeable enough, a fairly typical heroine for the genre, except that her work has something to do with artificial intelligence, which does make a nice change from the usual professions (PR/PA) pursued by romcom heroines. Daniel is perhaps a little too perfect – embodying the ideal ‘millennial’ male, but appealing nonetheless, and I particularly liked the portrayal of his relationships with his friends, and parents.

It’s not easy to develop romantic tension over the length of a book between two people who never meet, nor given the need for a string of contrived near-misses, to sustain interest in the potential of the relationship, but I thought Williams did so reasonably well. While I did feel it was all dragged out a bit too long overall, I wanted to see how Williams would finally bring Nadia and Daniel together, and I was satisfied when they finally got their happy ever after.

Ultimately Our Stop was an okay read for me, not quite as engaging as I was hoping for, but not bad either.

++++++

Available from Avon UK

Or your preferred retailer via Booko I Indiebound

Review: The Accidentals by Minrose Gwin

 

Title: The Accidentals

Author: Minrose Gwin

Published: August 13th 2019, William Morrow

Status: Read August 2019 courtesy William Morrow/Edelweiss

++++++

My Thoughts:

It was the blurb of The Accidentals that caught my attention, promising a generational story focused primarily on two sisters, June and Grace McAlister, beginning in the 1950’s with the death of their mother, Olivia, from a botched backyard abortion.

I liked the first quarter of this novel, which concentrated on the sisters’ child and teen years after the loss of their mother, and feel that had Gwin kept this her focus, I would have been quite satisfied. Unfortunately I soon began to feel that the characters became passengers, rather than agents, of the story.

The author seemed determined to make reference to every topical social issue possible, including but not limited to, homosexuality, abortion, teen pregnancy, racism, ‘passing’, mental illness, gender inequality, Alzheimers, cancer, the rights of felons to vote, as well as touching on major cultural events such as WWII, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Challenger Disaster, and Obama’s Inaugural Presidential Run. As such, much like the birds – the ‘accidental’s’ that lose their way = so too does this story.

Which is a shame, because it’s clear that Gwin can write, and there was a lot of good here. It’s an emotionally charged novel, perhaps bleaker than I was expecting, but also often moving and sincere.

I didn’t dislike The Accidental’s, it just didn’t quite work for me, but it may well work for you.

Read a sample

++++++

Available from HarperCollins US

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Review: Four Respectable Ladies Seek the Meaning of Wife by Barbara Toner

 

Title: Four Respectable Ladies Seek the Meaning of Wife

Author: Barbara Toner

Published: April 2nd 2019, Bantam Australia

Status: Read May 2019 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse AU

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My Thoughts:

Four Respectable Ladies Seek the Meaning of Wife is the sequel to Barbara Toner’s novel, Four Respectable Ladies Seek Part Time Husband.

In the intervening decade, Pearl McLeary has become a married mother of four, Adelaide Nightingale has been widowed, Maggie O’Connell is unhappily married, and not one of them is happy about the return of Louisa Worthington to Prospect.

Perhaps if I had read Four Respectable Ladies Seek Part Time Husband previously, I would have been more invested in the characters, and hence the story. But unfortunately I have to admit I mostly found this quite hard going, though I did read to the end as I wanted to know how the four women resolved their issues.

I expect that those readers who enjoyed Four Respectable Ladies Seek Part Time Husband, will also enjoy this.

Read an Extract

++++++

Purchase from Penguin Australia or your preferred retailer via Booko

 

Review: One for the Books by Joe Queenan

 

Title: One for the Books

Author: Joe Queenan

Published: October 2012 Viking

Read: Read December 2012

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My Thoughts:

 

I had hoped Joe Queenan’s ‘One for the Books’ would prove to be an exception from the often stuffy, professorial tomes that wax lyrical about the joys of reading, as long as that reading is almost exclusively authored by, or about, Dead White Dudes (D.W.D).

In part it was, but unfortunately Queenan’s humour doesn’t quite negate his narrow definition of what ‘good books’ are. Queenan is a book snob, dismissing genre fiction almost in its entirety, and championing way too many D.W.D.

I was particularly frustrated by Queenan’s dismissive attitudes to libraries (his white male privilege is showing there), and his hatred of ebooks, and ereaders. I own about equal amounts of both print and ebooks, that brings my current total to somewhere over 4000 books. I have read many more, owned many more, borrowed many more, given away many more. I have, and I doubt anyone I know would dispute it, ‘…engaged in an intense, lifelong love affair with books…’ ,and I don’t care if they are written longhand on parchment, or are a complicated string of binary numbers…a book, is a book, is a book, no matter the format.

So, sadly, my search for a book from a self confessed bibliophile who isn’t contemptuous of the other 99% of readers continues.

++++++

 

Available to Purchase from

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Review: Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline

Title: Most Wanted

Author: Lisa Scottoline

Published: April 12th 2016 St Martins Press.

Status: Read April 2019 – courtesy St Martins/Netgalley

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My Thoughts:

Scottoline is known for stories that explore emotive issues which affect families within the context of a thriller, ensuring a loyal readership. I selected this book on the strength of its description, it offers a compelling hook, and definitely has genre appeal.

Most Wanted begins strongly as Christine and Marcus struggle with the idea that the biological father of their unborn child may be a serial killer, but unfortunately it soon devolves into a farce.

Unlike some other readers I actually thought that Marcus’s behaviour throughout was believable, but I could find nothing that supported Christine’s actions. I empathised with her initial fears, but really could not rationalise her subsequent conduct. Christine’s insistence on her intuitive ‘connection’ with Zachary, the donor, was laughable, and while elementary teachers are generally resourceful, I thought the way in which she inserted herself into the investigation was implausible.

On a slightly more positive note, Most Wanted was a quick, well paced read, though largely because it lacked any real substance.

I felt Most Wanted began with an intriguing idea, unfortunately I just thought it was poorly executed.

++++++

Available to Purchase via

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Review: I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

Title: I Owe You One

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Published: Bantam Press February 2019

Status: Read April 2019

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

It’s difficult to have to admit disappointment in what was once an author I could reliably expect to find entertaining. Perhaps I’m simply too jaded (ok…old) now to be charmed by Kinsella’s formula, because I’ve increasingly found her heroines insipid, and the romances underwhelming.

I found myself horribly impatient with not only Fixie’s inability to leave things alone, but also her repeated failure to defend herself from her narcissistic siblings. The romance between Seb and Fixie, complicated by the presence of Whiny Briony, is a touch unsavoury, though I did like the meet-cute setup. Ryan is so irredeemably awful from the outset I could never take him seriously.

That said, there were moments that I found entertaining, the shop assistants in Farr’s, the family business, were amusing, and I particularly enjoyed it when the Cake Club crashed the Farr’s store’s ‘relaunch’ party.

I Owe You One is an undemanding romantic comedy, and I expect fans of Kinsella will generally enjoy it, unfortunately I found it just tolerable.

++++++

Read an Excerpt

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#lovebetweenthepages

Review: Good Riddance by Eleanor Lipman

Title: Good Riddance

Author: Eleanor Lipman

Published: Houghton Mifflin February 2019

Status: Read from Feb 6th to Feb 6th 2019

Daphne Maritch doesn’t quite know what to make of the heavily annotated high school yearbook she inherits from her mother, who held this relic dear. Too dear. The late June Winter Maritch was the teacher to whom the class of ’68 had dedicated its yearbook, and in turn she went on to attend every reunion, scribbling notes and observations after each one—not always charitably—and noting who overstepped boundaries of many kinds. 

In a fit of decluttering (the yearbook did not, Daphne concluded, “spark joy”), she discards it when she moves to a small New York City apartment. But when it’s found in the recycling bin by a busybody neighbor/documentary filmmaker, the yearbook’s mysteries—not to mention her own family’s—take on a whole new urgency, and Daphne finds herself entangled in a series of events both poignant and absurd. “

Read an Excerpt

My Thoughts:

Meh.

I was underwhelmed by ‘Good Riddance’. The yearbook, and it’s potential, was a great hook for a story, but I found the plot superficial and banal. So too was Daphne, Lipman’s main protagonist.It was her father, Tom, that I liked most, and who I thought had the most complete character arc.

A quick, easy read, but not one I’d recommend unless you are a particular fan of the author.

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Available to Purchase From

HMH Books or your favourite retailer

Review: How to be Single by Liz Tuccillo

 

Title: How to be Single

Author: Liz Tucillo

Published: Simon & Schuster AU February 2016

Status: Read from March 28 to 29, 2010  – I own a copy

My Thoughts:

How to be Single has been re published to tie in with the movie release of the same name starring Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie, Leslie Mann, and Damon Wayans Jr.

I read this novel back in 2010 in my pre blogging days but posted some thoughts on Goodreads at the the time which I have shared below.

Maybe because I have never really been single, I just found this trite. From the perspective of being married, I want to tell these thirty something women to grow up and get over the princess in waiting attitude. I feel like most of the women have completely unrealistic expectations of what love and commitment are. Really if the reason Julie can’t get a guy is because she is only a size 6 and has cellulite – then how does that explain the hordes of happily coupled/married size 12 and up women?
Julie in particular is shallow and unlikeable, even before she decides that her true love lies in an already married man (no matter how open his marriage may be). I mean, really? I am wondering why she even bothered leaving her hotel when “researching” – somehow I think speaking to less than a dozen people in an entire country does not count as thorough investigation.
The girls who are left at home are much more interesting – Georgia falling apart in the wake of her husband leaving her, Ruby contemplating single motherhood, Serena acting like a total flake and Alice holding on to an ideal in the face of reality.
There were moments in this book – warm and humorous, but overall I think this book is irritating and I am not the least bit surprised that Julie remains single.

Available to purchase from

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and all good bookstores.

 

Watch the official movie trailer

Review: Dogs of India by Polly McGee

 

Title: Dogs of India

Author: Polly McGee

Published: The Author People November 2015

Read an Extract

Status: Read from November 26 to 27, 2015 — I own a copy

Dogs, monkeys, corruption and sexual politics: Dogs of India draws on the complex, chaotic and colourful tradition of Indian storytelling in a spicy literary blend of Animal Farm vs. Holy Cow via Bollywood.
Revenge. A dish best served cold. Or if you’re Sydney native Lola Wedd, with a broken heart and a life in chaos, a dish served up by heading to India to marry a total stranger as part of an international visa scam.
Lola naïvely thought she would ‘find herself’ in India. Instead she is enmeshed in a drama worthy of Bollywood, starring an abandoned Pariah dog, a dead civil servant, a vengeful actor, a suicidal housewife, a boutique hotel owner, a blushing chauffeur, an absent groom, an ambitious girl journalist and a megalomaniac monkey.
As Lola begins to understand the consequences of her choices, she ignites a series of events that lead to a Diwali Festival more explosive than anyone in New Delhi could have imagined.”

My Thoughts:

Review to come

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A thought about: Host by Robin Cook

 

Title: Host

Author: Robin Cook

Published: Pan Macmillan October 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from October 31 to November 03, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

Lynn Pierce, a fourth-year medical student at Mason Dixon University, thinks she has her life figured out. But when her otherwise healthy boyfriend, Carl, enters the hospital for routine surgery, she doesn’t know it’s the last time she will see him whole again.

Devastated by Carl’s death, Lynn searches for answers. Convinced there’s more to the story than what the authorities are willing to reveal, Lynn uses all her resources at Mason Dixon—including her initially reluctant lab partner, Edward—to hunt down evidence of medical error or malpractice.

What she uncovers, however, is far more disturbing. Hospitals associated with Sentinel Healthcare, including the one attached to Mason Dixon, have unnervingly high rates of unexplained anesthetic complications and patients contracting serious and terminal illness in the wake of routine surgery.

When Lynn and Edward begin to receive death threats, they know they’re into something bigger than either of them anticipated. They soon enter a desperate race against time for answers before shadowy forces behind Sentinel Healthcare can put a stop to their efforts once and for all.

My Thoughts:

The plot was just too similar to Cook’s well known best seller, Coma. Though a quick, easy read that was not completely devoid of suspense, overall Host felt like an attempt at a contemporary rewrite that fell well short of the original.

Available via

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