Angels and Demons

“If a person truly cares about you, they’ll get more pleasure from the way they make you feel, rather than the way you make them feel.” – Colleen Hoover, ‘Confess’

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Title: ‘Confess’

Author: Colleen Hoover

Publisher: Atria Books

My Rating: *****

This book is definitely five stars all the way. Colleen Hoover has a way of really capturing the Romantic/drama genre all the while capturing your heart with each turn of the page.

‘Confess’ tells the story of Auburn Reed, a young teenager in the mist of young love with her boyfriend who is terminally ill. When her first love disappears from her life forever she doesn’t think she will ever be able to look at someone the same way again. That is until years later when she walks into an art studio advertising a job in Texas.  To her surprise the art is not the only thing that intrigues her within the gallery and she soon finds herself enthralled by the artist behind it, Owen Gentry.

When Auburn puts her heart on the line once again, she soon discovers that Owen is hiding some secrets that may change the way she feels about him forever. How the past intertwines with the present may result in destruction of everything or will it strike discovery of not only herself but also her heart?

Owen doesn’t want anything to mess up what he has with Auburn but he can’t seem to stop the truth from hurting his chances. It seems all he has to do to save their relationship is confess… but will he? Owen is afraid the truth is more destructive than the actual act and bearing it all may just be the last straw.

A gripping tale of love between two people and how fate can play an important part in life. I highly suggest this book and any of Colleen Hoover’s novels. You will not be able to put them down!  

 

 

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Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’

“What really matters is what you believe.”– Dan Brown

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Title: ‘The Da Vinci Code’

Author: Dan Brown

Publisher: Anchor

Rating: *****

So I am super late in the game but decided a couple months ago to read ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and to my surprise I finished it within two days of picking it up. I also didn’t realize at the time that ‘The Da Vinci Code’ is the second book in the Robert Landon series written by Dan Brown. ‘Angels and Demon’s’ is the first book in the series which I read next after this. (So basically I read them backwards-personally after reading both I don’t think it really matters the order they are read.)  With a passion for Art myself, The Da Vinci code’s vast abundance of true art historical facts is what I found to be the most interesting aspect of the book. It was like taking a journey through time all the while uncovering information on things I thought I had already known all the answers to.

The book follows a religious Art Historian by the name of Robert Langdon. One night while he is in Paris he receives a phone call in the middle of the night. The curator of the Louvre has been murdered and what is left on his body is just the beginning of a race for answers to mind boggling symbols leading to different clues. Langdon and the curator’s daughter, Sophie Neveu, soon find themselves on a mission to decipher through the bizarre riddles that are left before them and become stunned to discover a pattern of clues hidden deep within the works of Leonardo da Vinci.

One thing I found most interesting is some of these clues are images that have existed in Leonardo da Vinci’s painting for centuries and to one person are perceived a certain way. Therefore I ask myself, why all of a sudden do I notice these symbols in a different way just as I have begun to read Dan Brown’s book?  Not only does Dan Brown disguise his cryptic clues in a never ending path throughout the story but he also lets us into the ingeniously disguised clues that lie within da Vinci’s most famous works of art. This is what I believe makes this particular novel of his enriching.

As Langdon and Sophie race through the cathedrals and mansions of Europe they sort through bizarre riddles finding answers to not only the reasoning behind her Grandfather’s death but also secrets about Sophie’s own past. Unless Langdon and Sophie can figure out the labyrinthine puzzles while avoiding the people who are going after the same thing then the ancient truth may seize to exist. 

 

Rebel of the Sands

“I was a desert girl. I thought I knew heat. I was wrong.”Alwyn Hamilton, Rebel of the Sands

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Title: Rebel of the Sands

Author: Alwyn Hamilton

Publisher: Viking Books

Rating: ****

Besides its beautiful cover art and mysterious title, Rebel of the Sands is a literary adventure with every turn of the page. This book took me back to my imaginative childhood, making me want to escape to the desert and live off the land, fighting thieves and following the stars.

Mixed with a bit of sci-fi the book follows a mortal young girl named Amani, whose fate is stricken by her evil uncle who tells her she either finds a husband or dies. Living in Dustwalk, a small haven in the middle of the desert with poverty and a cast system, Amani is destined to create her own fate. When Amani meets Jim, an interesting foreigner, she soon discovers he may be her only escape route. However in all the years she dreamt of escaping Dustwalk she didn’t quite imagine it would be this difficult, especially when she begins to feel herself falling for Jim which she least expected most of all.

Soon Amani realises the fate of the desert lies in her hands and asks herself if her dream of escaping to a better life really is what she wants or if there something bigger and better that lies just beyond the horizon.

Rebel of the Sands is the first book in a new series by Alwyn Hamilton. I really enjoyed every second of it, as it constantly kept me on my toes. It was a rather fast read but mainly because each page is gripping and makes you turn the page to find out the outcome of the previous event. Hamilton has a way of drawing her readers in and leaving them with just enough suspicion to keep them guessing. I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

The Lake House

“May your past be a pleasant memory, Your future filled with delight and mystery, Your now a glorious moment, That fills your life with deep contentment.”

– Kate Morton, The Lake House

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Title: The Lake House

Author: Kate Morton

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Rating: *****

Its hard to pinpoint a certain character this book follows as through each turn of the page you are introduced to a new character whom intertwines with the rest. However mainly the story tells the lives of two very strong, bright, inquisitive woman. Morton describes their lives through the past an present by recalling events that all eventually lead to the vanishing of a little boy and the determination to find out what happened the day he disappeared.

Cornwall, 1933:

Alice Edevane an adventurous, investigative sixteen year old spends her days exploring the grounds of her family’s beautiful lakeside estate in Cornwall. She is an aspiring writer, determined to write a page turning mystery. But the mysteries she puts on paper are no trial to the mystery her own family is about to withstand.

Eleanor Edevane, mother of Alice and three other beautiful children, Deborah, Clemmie, and Theo. Being a devoted wife and mother defines her life, but she yearns for the adventurous girl that used to roam the grounds of the Lakeside estate all those years ago. Her husband has not been the same ever since his return from the war. His shell-shock continues to progress and in turn affects his daily life giving him visions of the past he desperately tries to forget. Eleanor begins to worry for her children and his conditions effect on them and the dangers he could put them in. When Eleanor falls pregnant with Theo she thinks he might be just what he needs: a boy. But when things don’t change for the better Eleanor must make a choice that will change her life and the lifes’ around her forever.

Ben Munroe, a gypsy, and wanderer finds his way working as a gardender on the Edevane’s lake side estate in Cornwall. Not only does he capture the lives around him but he reminds people that anything is possible if you know where to look for it. But are his reasons for being there really as innocent as they seem or is he determined to be closer to someone that has impacted his life in so many ways.

Cornwall, 2003: 

Sadie Sparrow, a young Detective in the London Metropolitan Police Department finds herself at her Grandfather’s house in Cornwall after being asked to take a leave of absence due to a wrong doing during a previous case. One morning Sadie goes for a run and stumbles upon an abandoned estate beside a lake. Her detective instinct takes hold and sparks her curiosity setting the stage for a number of secrets for not only the Edevane’s past but also her own. All the while introducing her to people she never knew would have such an impact on her life.

Bertie, widower and Grandfather to Sadie, spends his days trying to adapt in a new environment in Cornwall after loosing his beloved wife. With Sadie now living with him its hard to forget the past when it’s secrets continue to unfold. However maybe the past will be just what he needs in order to fill a void he so long ago was never able to fill.

Kate Morton has a way of introducing different characters and yet still intertwining them with one another in a way to convince the reader they have known them all along. The Lake house was an immensely enjoyable read that constantly kept me on my toes. Just when I thought I had it figured out I was credulously wrong, evoking the urge to read on to see the outcome. Morton takes historical fiction and blends it seamlessly with the present making it a marvellous piece of modern day fiction.

I truly enjoyed how Morton has different characters tell the story through their own words. With that said I would have liked to see more of some of the characters. It would have been interesting to see Ben Munroe have a chapter dedicated to his side of the story. As well possibly hearing what Bertie might have to say in regard to his own past and how it related to the present.

Morton’s way of introducing fiction to the reader is not only adventurous but also a way of taking the reader on a journey whilst painting the words of the story out like oils on a canvas.

Me Before You

“Push yourself. Don’t Settle. Just live well. Just LIVE.” – Jojo Moyes, Me Before You

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Title: Me Before You

Author: Jojo Moyes

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Rating: *****

 

 

 

 

This book was in so many ways wonderful. Have you ever felt incredibly sad about something but at the same time incredibly thankful, hopeful and excited about the future and what it can bring? This is exactly how this book makes me feel. I honestly thought the book would make me reach for the tissues a lot more than it did. Yes, it had a sad overall theme and some aspects tugged at my heart more than others however the melancholy aspects of the book somewhat came with an uplifting turn. In a way Moyes makes the reader look for the good in a bad situation. Arguably, could be the outcome of what she hoped the reader to get out of the ending as I have read a lot of reviews and I know some really disagree with the way the book took a close.

Me Before You reminds you to appreciate all the things that are good in your life and reminds you that YOU are the only one that can truly make your life worth living. Jojo Moyes has a way with words, intertwining your thoughts to connect closer to the characters presented throughout the book.

Lou Clark, is a twenty-seven year old stuck in a dead end relationship with her muscle obsessed boyfriend. Lou lives at home with her parents who are struggling financially and to make matters worse Lou finds herself unemployed from her job at the local cafe. I would have liked to see Moyes go into a bit more detail about Lou’s past and why she was where she was in her current life. In so many ways I feel like the book ended up being more about Lou’s life than Will’s yet there is still a gap that I feel should have been filled in reference to Lou’s incident in the maze.

Will Traynor, a thirty something young man is a paraplegic due to an accident that happened two years ago. Everyday he is miserable, joyless, and misses his old life of adventure. He finds it hard to see a reason to live in a world that reminds him everyday of his condition.

I love how Moyes presents different chapters narrated by different characters throughout the book. However I feel like it would have been interesting to see it in Will’s perspective which was never presented. As well as maybe even having a Chapter where Lou’s boyfriend is telling the story through his eyes.

Both Lou and Will are a bit lost in the world. Lou has never travelled outside her hometown and likes staying in her little bubble of protection under her parents roof. All the while, Will is struggling with what life can provide him as a paraplegic and yearns for an end to his misery. As both their lives cross paths they soon realise just how much they will change each others lives forever. The ending whilst not what I was hoping for (without giving too much away) still was a strong ending.

Have you read it? What did you think of the book and would you change anything as well?

As a side note I’m also really interested to see how the book is presented through the movie that is coming out in August in London! It will be interesting to see what they change and include throughout the story line.

 

More Freelance work for Reader’s Digest

In the April 2016 issue of Reader’s Digest you can find a piece I wrote on the ‘Best of British Service Stations’

‘Forget the standard roadside stop-offs-these rejuvenating places are a destination in their own right’

Check out Reader’s Digest’s April 2016 Issue available at WHSmith and find a preview of it below! x

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The Girl on the Train

“I am no longer just a girl on the train, going back and forth without point or purpose.” – Paula Hawkins, ‘The Girl on the Train’

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Title: ‘The Girl on the Train’

Author: Paula Hawkins

Publisher: Transworld Publishers

Rating: *****

 

 

 

 

 

I must admit that I am not one for reading Thrillers, or anything that makes me peak behind the shower curtain or look under the bed for monsters. However I convinced myself to read The Girl on the Train and see what all the fuss was about.  The verdict? I picked it up and couldn’t put it down. So yeah, I get what all the hype was about. Paula Hawkins has a way of making the reading get to know each character as if you are standing right in front of them talking to them yourself. I found myself taking sides with one character but then completely changing my mind on the next page.

The story follows three women whose lives interlink in various ways: Rachel, Megan and Anna.

Rachel Watson, who takes the same commuter train every morning and evening. On her journey the train always stops at a red signal when passing the same suburban homes allowing her watch the couples that occupy them. She starts to feel like she gets to know them. She feels their life is perfect, a life that she is missing, and the life she lost.

The story then introduces Megan Hipwell, who seems to have the perfect life. She lives in an adorable suburban home with her husband and spends the day lounging on her deck watching the trains go by. But is this enough for her? Is her past catching up with her, making her yearn for more?

One day on her way in on the train, passing the suburban homes Rachel sees something shocking, something she can’t just keep to herself. She ends up going to the police. Rachel finds herself entangled not only in the investigation but the lives of everyone involved. Is she really a reliable source? Has she done more harm than good?

One scene presented throughout the book is the reoccurring theme of Rachel seeing a blue dress curled up in a ball along the side of the train tracks. I love how Hawkins uses little symbols like this to get the reader looking towards the details for clues throughout the book. I also love how this type of imagery makes you then go back to the first time you read it and think: ‘Hold on wait a minute…’ completely changing your perspective from your beginning thoughts.

Hawkins juggles multiple perspectives throughout the book and creates incredible suspense at the same time. A true page-turner piece of fiction that you will pick up and not be able to place down.

 

Someday, Someday Maybe…

 

“Anyone can smile on their best day. I like to meet a man who can smile on his WORST.”- Lauren Graham, ‘Someday, Someday Maybe’

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Title: ‘Someday, Someday, Maybe’

Author: Lauren Graham

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Rating: *****

 

 

 

 

 

Remember Lorelai Gilmore, from Gilmore Girls? Well she wrote a book. Well not Lorelai but Lauren Graham, the actress that plays Rory’s mom! Yes I know I was just as excited as you when I first found this out. I bought it and read it in the same day. Yes, its that good. But you see, I’m a sap for ‘feel good’ stories, the kind where you don’t really need to think yet in the end your playing the story back in your head casting yourself as the protagonist.

The story follows a struggling actress named Fanny Banks, who finds herself with only three months left on the three year plan she gave herself to be successful in New York City. Yet day to day she finds herself in a dead end waitressing job and her only acting opportunity?…an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters.

Fanny lives in Brooklyn with two other people; Jane who is her best friend from University and Dan a shy sic-fi writer who fanny would never even consider boyfriend material. The best part of Fanny’s day is the one hour she spends at acting class where she drools over a charming guy she is hoping one day to get up the nerve to ask out.

Fanny has always dreamt of doing something big, something important but never seems to get the opportunities she needs in order to achieve this. While her money slowly disappears you are left turning each page wondering if she will run out of funds or time first. ‘Someday, Someday, Maybe’ is a hilarious take on the daily troubles of following your dreams in the ever powerful and frightening world we live in. Yet when you are done reading it you are left with wondering if you have been searching for your dream in the wrong place this whole time.

 

 

The Perks

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”-Stephen Chbosky, ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ 

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Title: ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’

Author: Stephen Chbosky

Publisher: Pocket Books

Rating: ****

 

 

 

The year was 2004, I was 13 years old, loved every single colour in the rainbow, sparkles, Lizzie McGuire and woke up extra early every morning just to watch Saved by the Bell. My favourite holiday and still to this day is Halloween, and in 2004 just like every year previous I was prepared to show up to school in the best costume possible. The day came, and my Mother helped me put a wig on and everything in tow. However when Mom pulled up to the drop off section of school, my stomach took a nasty turn. I saw my friends, my classmates, my teachers, yet it was not the site I wanted to see. None of them were dressed up in fancy costume, everyone was in regular school clothes. I’ll never forget that day because it was the first day my awkward stage as an adolescent sunk in. kids made fun of me so badly and years to follow just proved that I was a nerd. Now of course at twenty-five this is something I embrace but at 13 this was a nightmare.

So, this brings me to an amazing book written by Stephen Chbosky. The book follows a young boy named Charlie who has just started his Freshman year in high-school. Charlie is not a nerd, nor is he well-known he is rather uncategorised, he’s just normal. Charlie is extremely intelligent, a bit shy, and somewhat socially awkward. In other words he is a Wallflower-trying to live his life whilst also trying to run away from it.

The book follows Charlie through experiencing he has not dealt with before. Some of these situations include, First dates, sex, drugs, making friends, and finding that one song that when you listen to it you feel utterly infinite. As Charlie faces new experiences he slowly succumbs to the idea that maybe staying on the sidelines isn’t fulfilling enough.

I remember having to read this book as a kid in school, and maybe really getting it’s full potential. Since then I have read it numerous times and it is one of my favourites. Chbosky has a way of telling Charlie’s story but at the same time also letting you reminisce on your past and or present. The Perks of Being a Wallflower encourages you to feel good about yourself, makes you step back and say ‘I’m going to live my life by what makes me happy’ whilst listening to your favourite song on repeat.

A little Freelance with Reader’s Digest

logoBack in October I had the privilege to do some Freelance work for Reader’s Digest UK. If you are into ghosts, unnerving noises, and mysterious happenings in eerie mansions then this article is for you!

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“This haunted townhouse claims to be home to the spirit of a young woman who committed suicide in the attic. Constructed in the late 18th century, the home first belonged to the British Prime Minister George Canning who lived there between 1770 and 1827.

The attic seems to be the on-going theme of spooks in this home. Legend has it that a young man was locked in the attic room and fed through a hole in the door until he went mad and died. Another story claims a little girl, who was killed by a sadistic servant, haunts the attic room.

After Canning, the home was rented to one Mr. Myers, who had recently been abandoned by his fiancée. He reportedly locked himself in the attic room and slowly went insane until his death.

In 1879, Mayfair Magazine reported that a maid who had stayed in the attic room had gone mad whilst working there, and died in an Asylum.

The day after this was reported, a nobleman wanted to see for himself if the home was haunted and stayed the night in the attic room. He died the next day. The coroner pronounced ‘fright’ the cause of death.”

To continue reading, Click below!

Best of British: 7 Haunted Mansions