Book Review: One Thousand Stars And You.

cover138629-mediumThe one thing you can guarantee after reading an Isabelle Broom novel is that you’ll want to book a holiday – and this time you’ll be packing for Sri Lanka.

One Thousand Stars And You is a beautifully written tale of friendship and self-discovery with more than a touch of romance.

I was quickly swept into the story and was really quite surprised to find myself at the end – I even went and checked how many pages it was because I felt sure it couldn’t be over already, even though it clearly was. It just flows perfectly and there’s never a good point to put it down – so I obviously didn’t!

Here’s the blurb:

Alice is settling down. It might not be the adventurous life she once imagined, but more than anything she wants to make everyone happy – her steady boyfriend, her over-protective mother – even if it means a little part of her will always feel stifled.

Max is shaking things up. After a devastating injury, he is determined to prove himself. To find the man beyond the disability, to escape his smothering family and go on an adventure.

A trip to Sri Lanka is Alice’s last hurrah – her chance to throw herself into the heat, chaos and colour of a place thousands of miles from home.

It’s also the moment she meets Max.

Alice doesn’t know it yet, but her whole life is about to change.

Max doesn’t know it yet, but he’s the one who’s going to change it.

I sigh happily when I think of Alice and Max but that’s because I’ve finished the book and know how things end (I’m pretty sure that’s not a spoiler).

At the start they are both pent up and unhappy – although I’m not sure Alice realises it yet – but Sri Lanka, with its endless beaches, exotic wildlife, rich culture and historic sites, quickly begins to work its magic.

Isabelle has a wonderful talent for making the location almost another character in her books. I was lucky enough to travel there for work many moons ago but I know from her other novels that, even if you haven’t been, her colourful descriptions, seamlessly woven into the story, make you feel like you have.

Once again, Isabelle has crafted a wonderful novel with a cast who come alive on the page – and not just Alice and Max but their friends too.

While A Year And A Day will probably always be my favourite, her new book is a very close second.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £4.99.

My rating: Five stars.

With thanks to Michael Jospeh, via NetGalley, for inviting me to read it.

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Book Review: The Map Of Us.

mapofusHow can someone tell such a mighty story using so few words? That’s the question I asked myself after finishing The Map Of Us by Jules Preston.

There are well over 100 chapters but some are only a couple of paragraphs long. I still felt like I knew the characters as well as if they’d had entire books dedicated to them. And even the shortest chapters, maybe especially the shorter ones, packed a punch.

You really need your wits about you to keep up as the tale spans generations of the same family and broadens out to include others who are all, in some way, linked.

Here’s the blurb:

Violet North is wonderfully inconvenient. Abandoned by her family and lost in an imagined world of moors and adventure, her life changes in the space of just 37 words exchanged with a stranger at her front door.

Decades later, Daniel Bearing has inherited his father’s multi-million pound business, and is utterly lost. He has no idea who he is or where his life is headed.

When Violet’s granddaughter’s marriage falls apart, Tilly, always adept with numbers, compiles a detailed statistical report to pinpoint why. But the Compatibility Index Tilly creates has unforeseen consequences for everyone in her world.

Tilly and Daniel share a secret too. 10.37am, April 22nd.

Soon, a complex web of secrets and lies is exposed and an adventure begins with a blue typewriter…

There’s an energy to this book that almost propels you along. It feels exciting. It feels new, which is no mean feat.

I’ll admit the fact it had a typewriter on the front just like the one I was bought for ninth birthday was the reason I was tempted by this book but, memories aside, it didn’t take long to be completely gripped by this quirky, beautiful and fantastically told story.

It seems to start off small and then bloom. There’s a story within the story, which led to me almost forgetting that it was all fictional and not just some of it.

I can’t seem to find much info about Jules Preston (maybe I’m looking in the wrong place?) but this appears to be his debut, although it feels too accomplished for that. I have certainly put him on my one to watch list.

Format: Kindle.

Price: 99p (via Amazon).

My rating: Five stars.

 

Book Review: Falling Short.

fallingshortThe cover caught my attention and the blurb lured me in but it was the quality of the writing that gripped me to the end.

Lex Coulton has been described as a “true new talent” and, after reading her debut, Falling Short, I think that quote is spot on.

Even in the first few pages the book felt markedly different – in a good way.

There are two central characters, Frances and Jackson, who both have strong and believable voices.

Parts of their story made my heart actually hurt while others made me laugh out loud but afterwards I realised the strangest thing…I wasn’t sure if I really liked either of them.

Here’s the blurb:

School-teacher Frances Pilgrim’s father vanished when she was five, and since then other things have been going missing too: car-keys, promotions, an endless roster of unsuitable boyfriends . . . And now here she is, thirty-bloody-nine and still losing things. 

Frances needs someone to talk to. Ideally to Jackson: fellow teacher, dedicated hedonist, erstwhile best friend. Only they haven’t spoken since that night last summer where they had too many glasses of Merlot (oh, large, please . . .) and things got complicated.

But now she has a much more pressing problem. Her mother Mary, whose odd behaviour Frances has long put down to eccentricity, is slowly yielding to Alzheimer’s, leaving Frances with some disturbing questions about her father’s disappearance, and the family history she’s always believed in.

As the new school year begins, and Mary’s behaviour becomes more and more erratic, Frances realises that she might just have a chance to find something for once. But will it be what she’s looking for?

Maybe not ‘liking’ them is the wrong way to describe it, it was more that there were elements of their characters I found frustrating, intriguing and confusing – just like in real life, I suppose.

People are complicated and I think part of Lex’s talent is writing characters who don’t feel like characters. Both Frances and Jackson felt like real people, people who don’t follow a linear path, who make mistakes, who live lives that ‘fall short’ and perhaps do things differently to how I would.

It didn’t detract from how well the story read, if anything it made it more interesting. I will say that by the end I was willing for good things to happen to poor Frances (I won’t spoil it by saying more).

Maybe it won’t be for everyone but I found her writing exciting and I’m looking forward to what comes next.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £4.99 (on Amazon).

My rating: Five stars.

With thanks to John Murray (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.

I was lucky enough to interview Lex ahead of publication for my Behind The Book series. You can read it here.