Monday, 27 May 2013

The Rose Petal Beach - Dorothy Koomson


When her husband, Scott is arrested for a terrible crime, Tami's world begins to fall apart. Every time she thinks she has reached rock bottom, something else happens and it all falls apart all over again. When she discovers the accuser is her best friend, Mirabelle, Tami has to choose between believing her husband or best friend. Before she's had chance to digest that, something awful happens and Tami finds herself in some real trouble.

It took me quite a while to get into The Rose Petal Beach - I nearly gave up on it, but when that 'something awful' happened, it hooked me in. Each revelation in the story is described as hitting Tami like a truck, and that's how it hits the reader too! A slow start, but then the story becomes twisty and turning and enthralling. Another great book from Dorothy Koomson. Download the free Beside the Rose Petal Beach too for an extra dimension to the story!

"Stories? We all spend our lives telling them, about this, about that, about people … But some? Some stories are so good we wish they’d never end. They’re so gripping that we’ll go without sleep just to see a little bit more. Some stories bring us laughter and sometimes they bring us tears … but isn’t that what a great story does? Makes you feel? Stories that are so powerful … they really are with us forever."

- Dustin Hoffman (Sky Atlantic ad)

Sunday, 26 May 2013

"If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them."

- George Orwell

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Women He Loved Before - Dorothy Koomson


Following a whirlwind romance, Libby marries Jack - but right from the start their marriage is overshadowed by the ghost of Jack's first belated wife, Eve. Jack clams up and refuses to talk about her everytime Libby tries to ask about her. The book starts with a crash - literally! After being involved in a car accident, beauty therapist Libby has to reassess her place in the world, her ideas about beauty and her own self image - and most importantly, her relationship with her relatively new husband.

:: Spoilers below this point! ::

While recovering at home, Libby happens upon the diaries of Eve, hidden in the cellar. Unable to resist, she reads them and discovers Eve is not what she thought. Having to escape from her mother's abusive boyfriend Eve finds herself in London and on poverty row. She reluctantly becomes a stripper, or really, a lap dancer, but it spirals into prostitution, escorting and eventually ends up as the virtual slave of a very nasty pimp. Despite this, you cannot help but love Eve. She was easily the best character in this story, as as you already know she's dead from the start - it's not going to turn out well for poor Eve. All she really wants is to wear her pink dress, to be loved and respected and not to have to live in fear.

I feel I'm not being a very good reviewer, handing out 5/5 ratings for everything - I should be harsher - however, I cannot give The Woman He Loved Before anything lower. I think I loved this book even more than The Ice Cream Girls. At first the book deals with the whirlwind romance between Libby and Jack and for me that dragged a little bit, but once you get through to Eve's story, I found I could not put it down.

In the Kindle edition there were some questions for reading groups, which had also been answered by the author, Dorothy Koomson. Two interesting ones - she said her least favourite character was Jack (mine too - he's the romantic male lead, but he didn't protect Eve and he's rather useless for Libby too) - and the question about themes - there are the obvious themes in this story - love, marriage, death etc but one that wasn't mentioned was loss. I think loss - and the fact that with true loss you cannot do anything about it - you just have to find a way to live with it -  is perhaps one of the most important themes in this book. All the character suffer loss - Eve loses her innocence and home when she has to escape to London, later she loses her respectability - for herself and from others - her baby, her mother, Jack once or twice, and then eventually her life. Libby loses her identity and her confidence. Jack loses Eve, his family and more than he probably even realises.

This is a wonderful book I would encourage anyone to read. Right, plunging into The Rose Petal Beach now! 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Ice Cream Girls - Dorothy Koomson


When they were teenagers, both Poppy and Serena were drawn in to a relationship with the same teacher, Marcus - old enough to be their father and definitely old enough to know what he's doing. The girls are groomed initially with romance and sweet nothings, but both relationships turn darker when he becomes abusive and violent. Flash forward 20 years, and we discover Marcus was murdered. Both girls were accused. Serena was found not guilty but Poppy was sent down for it. Poppy's just been released from prison and is keen to prove her innocence - and the only way she can think to do that is by making Serena confess.

The story is told in a dual format with flash backs and forwards so you experience both the past and present concurrently.

Very much enjoyed The Ice Cream Girls. I had read a Dorothy Koomson book before which I hadn't liked very much and that had put me off reading any more of her books, but this one was excellent! The plot is outside of the normal chick lit realm, but not quite a hard boiled thriller either. Great characterisation and plot - you're never sure who to believe, or which side you're rooting for - you'll choose one side and then something will happen to change your mind. I guessed the twist, but it was still a very complicated, very intriguing plot. I read it in a few days as I couldn't put it down. Very much interested in reading more Dorothy Koomson books now. (Haven't seen the recent ITV adaptation, but I'm sure it can't be as good as the book!)

2012: A Year in Books

4/5 - Very funny, very enjoyable read.

  3.5/4 - Nice book, liked it but not vintage-y enough for me!

  1/5 - Great opening chapters, followed by a dull & predictable plot

  4.5/5 - Loved this book, great story and characters.

  2.5/5 - Okay story, a little bit slow.

 5/5 - Fantastic

 4/5 - Preferred this story to the other Julie Corbin on this list. Great characters, very tense plot!

 3.5/5 - Nice, gentle story, preferred this one to the other Alice Peterson book on this list.

  4/5 - Great story.

  5/5 - My favourite Lisa Jewell book to date. Fantastic story.

 3/5 - Quite good, compelling read.

 5/5 - Fantastic melodramatic story.

  4/5 - Strange story, but very addictive.

  4.5/5 - Lovely story, like only Alice Hoffman can write!

  5/5 - Fantastic book.

  3.5/5 - Good story, but I didn't like the ending - although a 'happy' ending wouldn't have been right either.

  5/5 - Great biography from the forgotten gangster.

  5/5 - Fantastic, gripping read.

  5/5 - A real Apple Scruff's story.

 4/5 - Unusual story for Stephen King. Very good but a bit slow in the middle.

  4.5/5 - Great read. First book I read in 2012!

Total books read: 21

Thriller/Mysterys: 7
Romance/Chick-lit: 7 
Biographies: 2
Literary Fiction: 5

Book of the year: Before I met You - Lisa Jewell
 Fave author of the year: Lisa Jewell