Book Review – The Watcher by Caroline Eriksson (translated by Tara F. Chace)

The Watcher

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion.

Elena has separated from her husband and takes a short term townhouse rental to allow her time to decide what she wants to do with respect to her marriage.  She is an author but has been suffering from writer’s block.  Instead of working on a new novel, she begins to watch her neighbors through the kitchen window and she believes that something is terribly wrong with them.  This is another unreliable narrator plot but unfortunately it really wasn’t my kind of book.  This may appeal to readers who really enjoy unreliable narrators/story lines.

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Book Review – A Darkness of the Heart by Gail Bowen

A Darkness of the Heart

I have read all of Gail Bowen’s books and have really enjoyed them, partly because I live in Regina so the descriptions of the city where Joanne lives is very relevant to me. In this 18th installment, Joanne discovers that her biological father is not who she thought it was. I am not sure why at this stage in this series that this story line was introduced as I didn’t think it added anything to the overall arc of this series. While this book was okay, I did not enjoy it nearly as much as it’s predecessors.

Book Review – Deathline by Jane Aiken Hodge

Deathline

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  It was originally published in 2003 but I assume is being republished.

The book begins with Helen Westley nursing her elderly mother.  She has given up her job to move home and care for her.  In compensation, her mother has advised Helen that she is leaving her the house in her will.  Unfortunately when Helen’s mother does pass away, she quickly learns that she has received nothing other than a small allowance with the house being left to her brother, with whom she does not get along.  Her brother wants her out of the house as soon as possible so that he can sell it and she is forced to take a position of being a carer again – this time to an elderly lady called Beatrice Tresikker who has a home in a small village.

Soon the two become more than employer/employee and they form a friendship. Helen also becomes friends with residents in the village including the village doctor and a legal partner in the law firm that handles Beatrice’s affairs.  This book reminds me very much of Rosamunde Pilcher’s writing style and story lines.  While I enjoyed the book, I think it was a little too old fashioned.  It was set in 1999 and unless things were very different in England than in Canada or the USA, people were not this “old fashioned” in 1999.  However, if you enjoy Rosamunde Pilcher or Maeve Binchy, I believe you would like this book.

Book Review – Listen to the Marriage by John Jay Osborn

Listen to the Marriage

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a story like no other that I have read. The whole story takes place in Gretchen’s and Steve’s therapist’s office where they are taking marriage counselling due to their recent separation. Each chapter was a session in the therapist’s office. Both Gretchen and Steve have committed adultery and while that was the catalyst of the break up, the marriage breakdown was about much more, more specifically, terrible communication skills. Having never been married, I found the process of this couple going through marriage counselling and working through marital issues fascinating. I found it to be a very enjoyable read.

Book Review – The Confession by Jo Spain

 

The Confession

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  It is being published in September, 2018.

I had been looking forward to getting my hands on this book for months and it did not disappoint.  The book opens with married couple Julie and Harry having a quiet night in watching television.  Suddenly an intruder appears in their living room with a golf club in his hands.  He proceeds to start bludgeoning Harry until he is a bloody pulp while Julie looks on in shock.  The intruder then drops the golf club, leaves the house and promptly turns himself into police.  He confesses his crime but states that he “just snapped” and did not know the man he assaulted.  It is hard to imagine someone committing such a violent crime and not know the victim.  So, do the perpetrator, Harry and Julie know each other and if so, what is their connection and why did he assault Harry?  I read this book while on a cruise and I found it extremely difficult to put it down in order to go out on tours and exploring.  Loved this thriller!

Book Review – The Pupil by Dawn Goodwin

 

The Pupil

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The publication date is August 7, 2018.  Katherine Baxter is a stay-at-home mom.  She and her husband have two children.  They met when Katherine was waitressing and he basically rescued her from a life of poor paying dead-end jobs.  There are many vague references throughout the book that Katherine caused something tragic to happen shortly after she was married but that part of the story remains a mystery until the end of the book.  Because of this incident, Katherine’s husband has become very controlling and overly protective of her and when she wants to take a writing course and pursue writing a novel, her husband is not supportive.  During Katherine’s writing class she meets Sam, the class instructor and also a famous author and his wife, Viola who is a literary agent.  Sam reaches out to Katherine at the end of the course, offering to mentor her with respect to her book while his wife offers to represent her to get it published.  There is an air of mystery as to what Sam and Viola really want from Katherine.  While Sam’s motives appear too good to be true, Viola appears to be threatening.  I found the story to drag at times and I quickly grew tired of Katherine’s husband’s dominance and expectations of her.  I felt that he married her so that he would have someone to run after him to ensure that all aspects of his life ran smoothly.  If this is being billed as a thriller, I have to say that I have read better.

Things We Never Said by Nick Alexander – Book Review

Things We Never Said

I received a copy of this book compliments of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  It is being published in paperback in September, 2018.

This book begins at the funeral of Catherine Campbell, wife to Sean and mother to April.  Sean and Catherine are both in their early 50’s, living in Cambridge, when Catherine is diagnosed with cancer.  Their daughter, April, is in her 30’s and is living in London.  Catherine’s decline is rapid and two years after diagnosis she has passed away.

Shortly after the funeral, a mutual friend, Maggie, drops by Sean’s house to give him a package that Catherine had asked her to pass on to him after her death.  Inside the package are 29 cassette tapes with corresponding photographs.  Catherine provides a photograph and then on each cassette, talks about what was happening in the picture; what was happening in their lives at the time and/or going through their heads during the time the picture was taken.  For example, one of the pictures is of a vacation that they took and Catherine talks about the fun they had on the vacation and other funny things that occurred while they were there.

Things We Never Said is reminiscent of another book “P.S. I Love You” by Cecelia Ahern, except that it is with audio cassettes rather than letters and the couple in this book are mature adults rather than the young couple in Ahern’s book.  I think I like the idea of cassettes better simply because you would get to hear the person’s voice again.

I really enjoyed reading a book where the main characters are around the same age as me because although I have never been married, there were a lot of things that I could relate to having lived over five decades.

I found this to be a very enjoyable book.  Yes, there was a lot of reminiscing of this couple over their past vacations, raising their child, etc. but there was also hurts identified and secrets revealed.  While Sean is devastated at the death of Catherine, we also get a chance to see him start healing and beginning to live again.

 

 

 

 

More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell – Book Review

More Weird Things

This is a second book that Jen Campbell has compiled of weird things that customers have said to booksellers in bookstores.  Just the like the first book, it is a fun, fast read that makes you shake your head at times at the stupidity of adults.  I understand that we all don’t like the same books and that we don’t all read the same books but I think the majority of readers know the names of classic books and popular reads.  It just blows my mind how many people don’t even know the names of classic books.  Even if you don’t want to read them, how can you not have heard of them?????

 

 

 

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis – Book Review

The Masterpiece

I received this book courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The release date for the hardback version is August 7, 2018.

This is the second Fiona Davis book I have read, the first being The Address which was about the Dakota, a famous apartment complex in New York City.  The famous New York City setting for The Masterpiece is Grand Central Terminal.  When I requested and then received an early copy of this book, I was a bit apprehensive in that I really wasn’t interested in reading about Grand Central Terminal, however, while it is the backdrop to the story, the main focus of the plot is of two women, Clara and Virginia.

Clara’s story takes place mainly in the late 1920’s leading into the early depression years.  She is a struggling artist/illustrator trying to make it in a man’s world.  Virginia’s story takes place nearly fifty years later in the 1970’s.  She is newly divorced, has just landed herself a job at Grand Central Terminal and like Clara, is still trying to make it in a man’s world even though it is 50 years later.

My apprehension about this story soon faded when I quickly became enthralled in the women’s lives, which the author deftly brought to life.  The book moved along at a quick pace and before I knew it, I was done the book.

Really enjoyed this book and learned some things about New York City and Grand Central Terminal that I did not know.  This was definitely a four star read for me.

 

 

 

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje – Book Review

The English Patient

I have a confession; The English Patient is my favorite movie of all time and I have seen it numerous times but until this week, I had never read the book before.  I am someone that ALWAYS reads the book before seeing the movie so I am totally surprised at myself that I purchased the book and read it straight away even though the book was first published in 1992 back when I was 27.

Looking on Goodreads, it appears that the majority of readers either love this book and it receives 4 or 5 stars or readers hate the book and give it one star.  There are not very many 3 stars, middle of the road ratings.

I had always been dubious about reading this book simply because I had heard that it was so different from the movie and that the movie was better.  Since I loved the movie, my attitude was “why wreck a good thing”, however, I am so glad that I finally read this masterpiece.

It is different from the movie, but not so drastically that I found it maddening.  In fact, I believe that seeing the movie before reading the book helped me in understanding the book and the characters even more.

It is a complex, passionate love story between a man who has been burnt beyond recognition and can no longer remember his name and a woman who belongs to another.  The man is called the English patient because he has somewhat of a British accent and a young nurse by the name of Hana is assigned to care for him at an abandoned villa in Tuscany shortly after the Germans have retreated from Italy during World War II.  There is also a tentative, tender love story between Hana and the young sapper, Kip, who is responsible for finding and dismantling bombs and land mines.

Having read the book, I now understand why it has won so many awards.  Ondaatje did a wonderful job inter-weaving fiction with actual real-life persons and their stories, along with little known facts that actually occurred during the war.

Love it or hate it, what category do you fall into?