Sunday, 28 September 2014

Going Back by Rachael English

"It's never too late for a second chance.
 Ireland, 1988.  Elizabeth Kelly's parents think she belongs at home; her boyfriend is certain of it. But, unwilling to settle down just yet, she decides to spend the summer in Boston.
Quiet and dutiful at home, she surprises herself and everyone else by falling in love with Danny, a restless charmer with a troublesome family - and everything changes.
More than twenty years later with opportunities in Ireland scarce once again, a new generation looks to America, awakening memories of a golden summer for their parents. When a crisis occurs, Elizabeth returns to Boston where she is drawn back into the life she once lived. But will she be able to reconcile the dreams of her twenty-year-old self with the woman she has become?"

I was delighted to discover Rachael English, through the medium of twitter, and even more delighted when she offered to send me a copy of her debut novel, Going Back, and delighted once more when I saw that Rachael had inscribed the front of the book for me!  Thank you Rachael.

Going Back is divided into two parts; the first part is set in June 1988 when Elizabeth first steps foot in Boston, fresh off the plane from Ireland, and the second part begins in 2010, and follows Janey (Elizabeth's daughter) as she begins the same journey.  However, this book is not a comparison of the times Elizabeth experienced and the times her daughter, a generation on, experiences. 

Emigration is only the background to this book, and in Going Back we meet two people from two very different worlds who make a connection, and the question is whether that connection can stand the test of time.

I found the initial part of part one to be a little slow burning, and I often found myself wondering who this character was and what had been happening with them previously.  However, as the tangled webs continued to be weaved, I found myself more drawn in and the way the first part of the book ends left me craving more.  The second half of the book flew past and I enjoyed it, although would have liked to have gained a little more knowledge about Elizabeth in the twenty years in between the two parts. 

As a girl with Irish roots, the Irish dialogue often made me smile, and the quotes from Elizabeth's Irish parents were brilliant.

Going Back is an impressive debut novel; a story of love, regrets and second chances. 

I am looking forward to diving into Rachael's next book, Each and Every One.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Quarter Past Two on a Wednesday Afternoon by Linda Newbery

Thank you to Shaz's Book Blog and to Transworld for the competition prize of a copy of Quarter Past Two on a Wednesday Afternoon.

"It was the day when everything stopped.

At quarter past two on a hot afternoon in August, Anna's beautiful, headstrong elder sister Rose disappears.

Twenty years later, Anna still doesn't know whether Rose is alive or dead. In her early thirties now, she sees her future unfolding - with sensible, serious Martin and a grown-up, steady job - and finds herself wondering if this is what she really wants.

Unable to take control of her life while the mystery of her sister's disappearance remains unsolved, Anna begins to search for the truth: what did happen to Rose that summer's day?"

This book was not at all what I had expected.  It focuses on Anna, twenty years after her sister's disappearance, as well as Anna and Rose's mother.  It shows the different ways that each member of Rose's family continues to struggle with the unexplained disappearance of Rose hanging over their lives, preventing them from living their lives to the full.

The story also jumps back to various points in the past and, like a jigsaw, allows you to see the bigger picture very slowly and piece by piece.  Linda Newbery does exceptionally well to weave each thread together in such a way that the reader understands what is happening but doesn't see the whole picture until the moment she wants you to.  

It is hard to give a truly honest opinion of this book without spoiling the ending for those of you who have not read the book yet, but all I will say is I found it hard to believe each family member's reaction to the answer they had all been waiting for for twenty years.  I understand the concept, and it is actually very clever, but I expected more fireworks and explosions and it left me with some unanswered questions.  

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Wedding Proposal by Sue Moorcroft

"Can a runaway bride stop running?

Elle Jamieson is an unusually private person, in relationships as well as at work – and for good reason. But when she’s made redundant, with no ties to hold her, Elle heads off to a new life in sunny Malta.

Lucas Rose hates secrets – he prides himself on his ability to lay his cards on the table and he expects nothing less from others. He’s furious when his summer working as a divemaster is interrupted by the arrival of Elle, his ex, all thanks to his Uncle Simon’s misguided attempts at matchmaking.

Forced to live in close proximity, it’s hard to ignore what they had shared before Lucas’s wedding proposal ended everything they had. But then an unexpected phone call from England allows Lucas a rare glimpse of the true Elle. Can he deal with Elle’s hidden past when it finally comes to light?"

I am a huge Sue Moorcroft fan, and despite first encountering Starting Over by Sue Moorcroft over three years ago (my review can be found here), I still remember how much I enjoyed the book and most importantly, the love I felt for Ratty. So when ChocLit offered me the chance to review Sue's latest book, I didn't even need to read the synopsis before jumping at the chance.

There is never anything to fault with Sue Moorcroft's books.  They have exceptional characters (some that melt your heart (whether they be children or adults), some that you want to be friends with, some that you dislike immensely, some who you fear (the dreaded Fiona) and one who you fall in love with (or in this case two - Lucas and Carmelo)), great pace, a great storyline with twists and turns and some damn good romance, and The Wedding Proposal is no exception.  

This book wasn't what I had expected, as "the wedding proposal" in question is something from Elle and Lucas's past.  I loved the beginning of the book when Elle and Lucas clash after being thrown together for the first time in four years, and I enjoyed getting to know them both and seeing how they worked around each other after all this time.  There are also some exceptionally good secondary characters, who make the book complete.

This book made me want to go to Malta, enjoy the sunshine and fall in love.  It made me smile and it made me cry, both with sadness and happiness.  A story of second chances, and the ideal book to read in the last of the September sunshine....