Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen

The Van Ripper women have been the talk of Tarrytown, New York, for centuries. Some say they’re angels; some say they’re crooks. In their tumbledown “Stitchery,” not far from the stomping grounds of the legendary Headless Horseman, the Van Ripper sisters—Aubrey, Bitty, and Meggie—are said to knit people’s most ardent wishes into beautiful scarves and mittens, granting them health, success, or even a blossoming romance. But for the magic to work, sacrifices must be made—and no one knows that better than the Van Rippers.

When the Stitchery matriarch, Mariah, dies, she leaves the yarn shop to her three nieces. Aubrey, shy and reliable, has dedicated her life to weaving spells for the community, though her sisters have long stayed away. Bitty, pragmatic and persistent, has always been skeptical of magic and wants her children to have a normal, nonmagical life. Meggie, restless and free-spirited, follows her own set of rules. Now, after Mariah’s death forces a reunion, the sisters must reassess the state of their lives even as they decide the fate of the Stitchery. But their relationships with one another—and their beliefs in magic—are put to the test. Will the threads hold?

The reason I picked this book to read was the magical element. I haven't read a book containing magic for a long time.
Aubrey lives with her aunt Mariah at The Stitchery in Tarrytown and as they knit items for the townsfolk they weave spells into them but each person who wants a spell must give up something very dear to them.
We find that while some spells work,some do not and this doesn't make the Aunt and niece very popular with some of the people in the town.
Tradedy brings Aubrey's estranged sisters back to The Stitchery and as they each confront why they left in the first place and decide if they actually do believe in the magic they also have to try to save their home and the town from the people who want to destroy it. Each will have choices to make but will they be the right ones?

I did enjoy reading this book.I loved the explanations of how the magic worked and the readings from The Great Book in The Hall. The history of Tarrytown and the headless horseman were a good addition. The prose was very descriptive and sometimes in a book it can detract from the story but because this story was about magic it seemed to add to the atmosphere.
 As we neared the end of the story I really found it hard to put down and actually shouted "No" at one point as Aubrey was about to make a decision that would change her life. The characters were very likeable, although I did want to give Meggie a shake now and then.
Vic, the love interest was one of life's adorable men and he suited Aubrey down to a T.
If I have one critism about this book it would be that it needs something else to happen in the middle of the story, although we hear the story of the three sisters it's not very exciting until it gets to the last few chapters. That didn't stop me enjoying the story and I would read another book by this author in the future.
Amazon uk

I give The Wishing Thread three stars

Monday, 19 August 2013

The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold

After more than twenty years of marriage, Chloe Sinclair comes home one night to find that her husband, Nate, is gone. All he has left behind is a cryptic note explaining that he’s returned to their childhood town of Redbridge, California—a place Chloe never wants to see again.

Tending to their small bookstore while trying to reach Nate, Chloe stumbles upon a notebook tucked inside his antique copy of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Written in a code that Nate and his sisters created as kids, the pages contain long-buried secrets from her and Nate’s past, and clues to why he went back to Redbridge after all these years. As Chloe struggles to decipher the notebook’s hidden messages, she revisits the seminal moments of their youth: the day she met the enigmatic Sinclair children, their increasingly dangerous games a magical escape from their troubled childhoods; the first time Nate kissed her, camped out on the beach like Robinson Crusoe; the elaborate plan she and Nate devised, inspired by Romeo and Juliet, to break away from from his oppressive father, and how the thwarted attempt upended their lives forever. As the reason for Nate’s absence comes to light, the truth will shatter everything Chloe knows—about her husband, his family, and herself.

"Sitting in our bookstore at night, I can hear the stories .Or not hear them so much as feel them: the neat round softness of Austen with its improbable, inevitable love affairs; the sprawl of Dickens with its meandering theads tying into coincidental knots. All the books have colors and shapes not just from the stories written but from the stories of the authors who've done the writing; from Steinbeck's realism to Murakami's cubism, a regular art museum of voices."

This book is written so beautifully I just had to share the first paragraph with you. It is a book for lovers of books. Each chapter is named after a classic story. The Chronicles of Narnia, Where the Wild Things Are, The Pit and The Pendulum and so on.
The book begins with Chloe in the antique bookshop owned by her and her husband Nate. We find out she is having an affair and Nate has became distant and secretive. He has been called back to his childhood home and leaves without telling he, only leaving a note, part of  which says that, "Life is like a beautiful melody with messed up lyrics."
We then hear the story from Chloe of how when she was a child of eight years and feeling unloved by her mother spies on three children in the grounds of their large house, Nate,Grace and Cecilia, thinking they are loved more than she is and have a better life.
She makes friends with them and they introduce her to the world of books and secrets and storytelling. They live with a authoritarian father who is a pastor but also slightly unhinged. Their mother tries to make life good for her children and welcomes Chloe as long as their father never finds out, which is the first secret. The children are home schooled and secluded from the outside world and as their life progresses each will be damaged  by their childhood in a way they could never have imagined.
Back to the present day and Chloe finds a book full of letters written by Nate in an old code they made up as children, as she deciphers them we discover a huge tragedy, hurt, lies and more secrets.

I loved this book. I tried to guess the ending but I was wrong. Parts of the book made me so angry I wanted to jump inside it and sort them all out and I cried at the end and it was on my mind all night after I had read the last words.
If I had one critism it would be that it was a bit slow in the middle with too much about their childhood,but that could have been because I was so desperate to find out what all the secrets were.

Elizabeth Joy Arnold is an American author from New Jersey, she has written another three books which I would love to read.
Pieces of my Sister's Life, Promise the Moon and When We Were Friends.



I give The Book of Secrets five stars

I received a kindle copy of this book from the publisher in reurn for an honest review.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Some Day I'll Find You by Richard Madeley

James Blackwell is sexy and handsome and a fighter pilot - every girl's dream partner. At least that is what Diana Arnold thinks when her brother first introduces them. Before long they are in love and marry hastily just as war is declared.
Then fate delivers what is the first of its cruel twists: James, the day of their wedding, is shot down over Northern France and killed. Diana is left not only a widow but pregnant with their child.
Ten years later, contentedly remarried, Diana finds herself in the south of France, sitting one morning in a sunny village square. A taxi draws up and she hears the voice of a man speaking English - the unmistakable voice of someone who will set out to torment her and blackmail her and from whom there can be only one means of escape...

I was sent a copy of this book by Sharon from Jera's Jamboree as her to be read pile was too big and she knew I wanted to read it, thanks Sharon.
I have a bit of a soft spot for Richard Madeley, ssh don't tell anyone. I read his first book, Fathers and Sons which is the true story of his father and grandfather and it's a truly heartbreaking one. It is a few years since I read it but I'm sure it was written like a fiction story and not a biography, it's well worth a read.

Back to Some Day I'll find You. I have no idea what the title had to do with the story as no one was that desperate to find anyone. Diana thought her husband was dead and got on with her life and remarried.
 James didn't want to find Diana as he was quite happy as he was. The first chapter was so full of unnecessary commas it was distracting but he didn't overuse them after chapter one.
There is a confusing part of the book at the beginning when the Arnold family all use different first names from the ones they were given but once you are told that they never use their old names again,strange. Whoever edited the book didn't pick up on the author actually using the wrong names himself a few times, it seems even he was confused.
The chapters are short and I did get through this book quickly. Most of the story is setting the scene for the action part which starts about three quarters through the book. The book then moves on at a faster pace.
I did enjoy the story and I couldn't put it down towards the end. the only niggle I had was James, in the first part of the book we find out he's a cad,a bounder and a bad egg but nothing prepared me for what he turned out like after the war and I think it was slightly unbelievable but then I suppose war does funny things to people. I don't want to give any more of the book away as I think Richard has done that in his various interviews.
To sum it up a good quick read but not as good as Fathers and Sons but I wait in anticipation for Richard's next book.
If you read it I'd love to know what you thought.
I give Some Day I'll Find You three stars