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.

 

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Book Review: Where The Light Gets In.

where the light“You know those cracks in your heart, Lorna, where things didn’t work out, but you picked yourself up and carried on? That’s where the fear gets out. And where the light gets in.”

By the time of this quote, I was already in love with Lucy Dillon’s Where The Light Gets In – and my Kindle tells me it’s only about the 2% mark.

This wonderfully written, incredibly emotional and thought-provoking book was hard to put down.

It tackles some big, tough subjects – relationships, growing up and dying to name a few – but it is still a very readable and enjoyable story.

Here’s the blurb:

It was Betty, defiant to the end, who sent Lorna back to Longhampton. If Lorna’s learned one thing from Betty it’s that courage is something you paint on like red lipstick, even when you’re panicking inside. And right now, with the keys to the town’s gallery in her hand, Lorna feels about as courageous as Betty’s anxious little dachshund, trembling beside her.

Lorna’s come home to Longhampton to fulfil a long-held dream, but she knows, deep down, there are ghosts she needs to lay to rest first. This is where her tight-knit family shattered into silent pieces. It’s where her unspoken fears about herself took root and where her own secret, complicated love began. It’s not exactly a fresh start.

But as Lorna – and the little dog – tentatively open their cracked hearts to old friends and new ones, facing hard truths and fresh promises, something surprisingly beautiful begins to grow around the gallery, something so inspirational even Lorna couldn’t have predicted the light it lets into her world…

All of the characters felt so well developed, especially Lorna, but it is artist, Joyce, who stole the show for me. Her feisty personality was perfectly pitched and I really enjoyed learning her story and seeing her relationship with Lorna, centred around their shared passion for art but about so much more than that, develop. She felt very real to me.

There should also be a special mention for the dogs, Rudy and Bernard. Lucy captures the relationship between human and animal perfectly.

There’s plenty of drama, which helped keep things moving, and means you don’t dwell too much on the hard parts.

I cried at the beginning and near the end of this book – although it was more a sniffle at the start whereas near the end it was full on ugly crying (thankfully I was on my own at the time). Don’t let that put you off though because, while is an emotional tale, it is also genuinely uplifting.

Lucy Dillon is another author I’ll be adding to my must read list.

Format: Kindle (released April 19th).

Price: £7.99.

My rating: Five stars.

With thanks to Random House UK (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.

Book Review: The Boyfriend Swap.

cover118284-mediumI haven’t read a slow burn for a while (they have either been all or, in thankfully rare cases, nothing) but it took some time for The Boyfriend Swap, by Meredith Schorr, to warm up for me – although when it did, it caught fire.

I’m not sure whether it was the characters I struggled with at first or the premise that you could swap boyfriends like they were Lego trading cards but, as I learned more about them and the reasons behind what they were up to, I got more into it.

In the end it turned out to be a fun and enjoyable read – and well worth settling into.

Here’s the blurb:

Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year? New Yorkers Robyn Lane and Sidney Bellows aren’t so sure.

Robyn has always dated struggling creative types. For once, her parents would love her to bring someone with health insurance and a 401(k) to their Chrismukkah celebration. Her actor boyfriend doesn’t qualify. While across town, Sidney’s professional life already belongs to her parents. She’s an attorney at her father’s law firm and she works tirelessly to keep her love life private. If she brings her lawyer boyfriend to their annual Christmas extravaganza, her parents will have the wedding planned by New Year’s Eve.

A mutual friend playfully suggests they trade boyfriends for the holidays. The women share a laugh, but after copious amounts of wine, decide The Boyfriend Swap could be the perfect solution. This way, Robyn can show off her stable attorney boyfriend and Sidney’s high-society family will take no interest in her flaky actor beau.

It’s a brilliant plan—in theory. In practice—not so much. When Will turns out to be the boy-next-door Robyn crushed on hard throughout her teenage years, and Sidney’s family fawns all over Perry like he’s an Oscar-winner rather than a D-list wannabe, one thing is certain: The Boyfriend Swap might just change their lives forever.

A plot like this is bound to need some explaining – and maybe that’s why it takes time to properly get going. I think that’s fair enough.

I especially enjoyed the way the relationship between Robyn and Will develops and learning more about their history. Her family is also a delight.

Their story is like a little boat sailing along on a gentle breeze whereas Sidney and Perry’s side of things is more like a speedboat on choppy water.

I really liked the way they balanced each other out.

There are some funny moments, on both sides, and the story keeps you guessing about how things will turn out until the very end.

All in all this was a great tale and I’m happy to give it four stars.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £2.29.

My rating: Four stars.

 

Thank you to Henery Press (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest opinion.