Tag: Books: Contemporary


Review: The Illusion of Separateness

Posted 21 June, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Illusion of Separateness
By: Simon van Booy
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

In The Illusion of Separateness, award-winning author Simon Van Booy tells the haunting and luminous story of how one man’s act of mercy on a World War II battlefield changes the lives of six strangers across time and place. From wartime Britain and Nazi-occupied France, to modern-day Los Angeles, the characters of this gripping novel – inspired by true events – include a child on the brink of starvation, a blind museum curator looking for love, a German infantryman, and a humble caretaker at a retirement home in Santa Monica. Whether they are pursued by old age, shame, disease, or regret, these incandescent characters remain unaware of their connection until seemingly random acts of selflessness lift a veil to reveal the vital parts they play in each other’s lives.

At long last I read Everything Beautiful Began After (review) earlier this year and absolutely adored it and didn’t want to wait long to read another book by him. I heard great things about this book from other readers about this book so after a brief deliberation I decided to pick this book up next.

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Review: Who’s That Girl?

Posted 16 June, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Who’s That Girl?
By: Mhairi McFarlane
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

When Edie is caught in a compromising position at her colleagues’ wedding, all the blame falls on her – turns out that personal popularity in the office is not that different from your schooldays. Shamed online and ostracised by everyone she knows, Edie’s forced to take an extended sabbatical – ghostwriting an autobiography for hot new acting talent, Elliot Owen. Easy, right?

Wrong. Banished back to her home town of Nottingham, Edie is not only dealing with a man who probably hasn’t heard the word ‘no’ in a decade, but also suffering an excruciating regression to her teenage years as she moves back in with her widowed father and judgy, layabout sister.

When the world is asking who you are, it’s hard not to question yourself. Who’s that girl? Edie is ready to find out.

I read two of Mhairi McFarlane’s books last year (see author tag) and absolutely loved them. At the time I still had two of her other books to read but then I picked up this book. It took me a while after that to get around to reading it, probably because I wanted to savour it a bit and really be in the mood to enjoy it. Well, here we are 🙂

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Review: The Nest

Posted 30 May, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Nest
By: Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the future they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

I kept seeing this book everywhere last year that eventually I caved in when it went on sale on Kobo late last year and picked up a copy to see what the buzz was all about.

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Review: Everything Beautiful Began After

Posted 25 May, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Everything Beautiful Began After
By: Simon van Booy
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Rebecca is young, lost and beautiful. A gifted artist, she seeks solace and inspiration in the Mediterranean heat of Athens – trying to understand who she is and how she can love without fear. George has come to Athens to learn ancient languages after growing up in New England boarding schools and Ivy League colleges. He has no close relationships with anyone and spends his days hunched over books or in a drunken stupor. And then there is Henry, an accomplished young Welsh archaeologist who spends his days devotedly uncovering the city’s past as a way to escape his own – a past that holds a secret that not even his doting parents can talk about.

As these three lost and lonely souls wander the city, a series of chance encounters sets off events that will forever define them, in this powerful portrait of friendship and young love.

I have been eyeing this book for years, I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up sooner. I suppose I figured last year that it was high time I picked the book up so here I am, having read it at long last and reviewing it.

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Review: The Love Song of Queenie Hennessy

Posted 12 May, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy
By: Rachel Joyce
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

When Queenie Hennessy discovers that Harold Fry is walking the length of England to save her, and all she has to do is wait, she is shocked. Her note had explained she was dying. How can she wait?

A new volunteer at the hospice suggests that Queenie should write again; only this time she must tell Harold everything. In confessing to secrets she has hidden for twenty years, she will find atonement for the past. As the volunteer points out, ‘Even though you’ve done your travelling, you’re starting a new journey too.’

Queenie thought her first letter would be the end of the story. She was wrong. It was the beginning.

Ideally I had planned to re-read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (review) but as I was partly in a reading slump and just started reading the first pages of a few books on my TBR pile, this book grabbed my attention from the get-go. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy I should note is a companion novel of sorts, unfolding simultaneously as Harold Fry is making his pilgrimage to see Queenie in person.

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