Where Love Lies – Julie Cohen

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To the outside world Felicity has the perfect life, a job as a children’s author and illustrator, a lovely home in a small village and a doting husband most women would dream of. Underneath all of this though, Felicity is struggling. After the loss of her mother something hasn’t felt right but one day she catches a scent she hasn’t smelt in years…could it be her mother? Following her senses has never been more risky as it all comes down to following her head or her heart.

The novel revolves around love, loss and questioning yourself. As Felicity struggles with what she knows is right and what she feels it leads us as a reader to question our own lives. It is also very important to recognise that Felicity is on her own, the mother she adored has gone, she’s never known her father and feels suffocated by the expectations that life in a small village have put on her.  After the whole village seems to know that her and husband Quinn have even considered having a baby (something which she hasn’t even decided on yet) her feelings of not belonging come to the surface again.

The fact that Cohen has also used multiple POV’s makes this go further than the chick lit title that some have given it (you are WRONG this novel goes further than that!) seeing both Quinn and Felicity’s side opens up a whole new set of questions and feelings towards the characters. I fell in love with both of the characters and it spurred me to read constantly, Cohen has an incredible knack of making you know something isn’t quite right but giving you no clue as to the real answer!

After reading Dear Thing, I was hooked by Cohen’s talent and eagerly waited for Where Love Lies, as I suspected Cohen didn’t disappoint. The novel focuses on the fine lines of love that we sometimes forget, the hazy days of a first love and the realities of settling down. While Felicities’ feelings are confusing and at times hard to understand you live through them with her and are just as desperate as she is to work out what is going on.

Although I can’t spoil it for you, the ending of this novel is absolutely spectacular and so well researched. To top it all off it’s something that you would never suspect and if anything can be slightly chilling as well as an interesting perspective. There is a worry of mine that when a novel builds steadily throughout the reveal will disappoint but I can assure you Where Love Lies is completely worth the wait and the suspense.

I’m giving this novel 5 stars *****. Although initially I wondered how this would work and worried it could be just a romance Cohen has crafted something inspiring with Where Love Lies, the novel makes you think, question and follows you for a long time after you have finished. I think quirky Felicity and loveable Quinn will live in my memory for a long time, and so will the ending but you’ll find out why once you read it yourself!

Where there’s smoke – Jodi Picoult

Picoult once again gives us a spellbinding tale, however, this time in the form of a short story released free for all Kindle and app holders. Where there’s smoke is a prequel to Jodi’s eagerly anticipated novel Leaving Time which comes out later this year. This time we see the world through Serenity’s view, a hot shot television psychic who makes a catastrophic mistake that threatens to not only end her career but also destroy her life.  As things quickly start to fall apart in front of her eyes Serenity realises that fame isn’t always a good thing, but how far will she go to salvage her reputation before she loses it all?

I couldn’t believe that by the end of this short story not only did I feel like I’d fallen into Serenity’s world and was actually living it alongside her, I started to believe in her world. I’m not someone who is into psychics and hangs onto their every word, but somehow I was hooked and started really thinking about the possibilities. It sounds extreme but this is the talent that Picoult holds, something I was entirely sceptical about was going around in my mind. Not only that but by the end of the novella I was desperate to start the novel, which we’ll have to wait until November for! In simply 40 pages Picoult has wet our appetites for the next instalment, however, we won’t have to wait that long as another short story is due to be published in the summer.

Even though I’m not usually a fan of short stories this was fantastic. I want to give this 5 stars *****, it may be short but there is certainly a lot of action involved. The only sad part is that those who don’t have an electronic device to read won’t be able to see this even after the novel is published. Other than that the short story is perfect and a great way to get us involved in the story before the novel is even released.

Review by Chloe Metzger 

One Step Too Far – Tina Seskis ***

 

 

‘They’ll be better off without me’ 

Heartbroken and pushed to her limit Emily makes a decision that many of us only dream of, she walks out of her life. 

Have you ever looked at the departures board at a train station and just thought Why don’t I just go, leave all of this behind me and just leave? The answer? You have. You can lie to yourself all you want but each and every one of us at some point have just wanted to leave and start a fresh. At the start of the novel we don’t understand Emily’s motives but we are deeply aware something has gone wrong. Leaving with the memories of her husband and son Emily gets on a train to London and attempts not to look back. As she quickly learns the ways of a London runaway Emily, now reinvented as Cat, tries desperately to shake off her past although it always comes back to haunt her…

The novel is intertwined between a mix of characters, Emily, Cat, Ben, Caroline, Frances and Angel to name a few. While this makes One Step Too Far interesting and puts together the pieces of the puzzle it is also a little confusing at times. You generally know  who is speaking but there are always questions, where are they? What is the time period is this part is set in?  For example the novel starts from Emily’s perspective and it appears to be pretty straight forward, we are then transported to the birth of twin girls and a mother who simply does not have enough love for two. That quick change is very important to the novel later on but doesn’t seem to make much sense initially. I’m quite used to novels like this however I think that for some readers this may become pretty complicated. I don’t say this lightly, even I had to go back sometimes and re read to make sure I actually understood what was going on. There were some important things towards the end that I missed and others that didn’t make sense to me until a much later point, although I do believe this was Seskis’ intention.  This is true of the ending of the novel, about 90% of the way though I got very confused and a little frustrated because of a significant change. As my regular readers know I don’t like spoiling things for you so I can’t reveal why I was so irritated at one point. 

Despite any irritation I felt towards the end (although may I add this was resolved by the last page), the character of Emily/Cat fascinated me. I feel that Seskis has tapped into a gold mine after creating this plot in the sense that anyone can relate to Emily. She relates to our wildest desires of simply uprooting and getting away with it. I’m not saying I want to just dispensary but everyone’s had days where they wish they could reinvent themselves or just start over. That said I feel that Emily was made into a real person, it’s impossible to like her all the time. I sat with book in hand feeling so many emotions, I smiled at the happy times, I despaired at her lowest, I absolutely loathed her at times, I laughed occasionally and I gasped as I finally got to her darkest secret (although I’ll admit I was a little confused too). 

I would generally recommend this novel to friends as I do think it is a good read, that said I do feel that sometimes there are too many twists and turns (especially at the end). I’ll give the novel 3 stars because it reflects my feelings of being right in the middle. I do like the plot and the characters but at the same time I struggled at times with quite important aspects and even now after finishing feel I may need to go back and re read some parts. I also felt that the ending kind of took away from some of the realism of the novel as a whole, however I would still recommend this to a friend as a good read. 

The Light Between Oceans – M.L. Stedman

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A Woman stole your heart when you didn’t know it could mend, 

Her heart is now broken and you can fix it if you never tell a soul as well as saving a child. 

Set just after  WW1, war hero Tom Sherborne wants a quiet life after what he has seen. With a heavy heart it is just short of a miracle when he finds not only a perfect job on the isolated island of Janus, but also a young and fiery Isabel. After exchanging letters Tom and Isabel marry as he takes her back to Janus to join him in the lighthouse and start their own paradise on the island. When a boat arrives on the island holding a dead man and a tiny infant the couple don’t know what to do. While Tom is adamant he must stick to the keepers code Isabel , heart broken by the death of her stillborn son and two miscarriages and sure the child is an orphan, takes in the little girl and as she takes her to her breast Tom knows he cannot send the child away. The couple begin to realize however that Janus isn’t the only place in the world and while their paradise is a world away  they cannot hide forever. 

This novel absolutely warmed and shattered my heart all at once. I honestly can not remember a book that has touched me in this way before, even my favorite The Storyteller didn’t make my heart ache this much. I knew nothing of this book before I found it in my local Tesco’s and I was hesitant to pick it up, but I am so glad I did. The blurb warns you that it will break your heart but I was skeptical, I am yet to read a review which hasn’t brought the reader to tears by the end. I’ve read reviews beforehand saying that they couldn’t stand Isabel and I could see why some would but I just couldn’t. I don’t know if it is because I’m a woman, because I have maternal instincts but I understood Isabel. I understood why she did what she did and how much losing her children broke her and changed her in a way because think about it, wouldn’t it change you? I can also understand Tom’s dilemma and the decision he makes and maybe it’s not the right one but in his shoes I doubt anyone knows what they would really do. In a way it is a what would you do story but you don’t realize it until afterwards. 

 

The novel has a very real sense of the implications of war and the fragile nature of human life without being a historical novel. Although we never hear about Tom’s time as a serving soldier to graphically you don’t need to because it is not the dead who will shatter you heart it is the living who are left behind. On land there is an eerie sense of the hardships of war, of the men who came home but never really came back at all, the mothers and widowers who refuse to believe their boys are really dead. Stedman also bravely touches on another subject, racism after a war, when an innocent life is lost because of the decisions of the few. As a young Austrian man loses his life it is swept under the carpet that his murder was in a towns rage. In my opinion this was incredibly important because we rarely see this side written about and also because it shows the hurt of a whole community and also the sacrifice of Australia in WW1. 

One of the main reasons I loved it though was because I wasn’t in a rush. This wasn’t a thriller but it made you want to read on at your own pace. After saying this however this does not mean that I couldn’t put it down and even though I peeked later on at one point I soon forgot what I had read because you get so absorbed in the novel. The imagery  of the surroundings is beautiful and I could hear the characters inside my head. The way I can decide if it is a novel worth passing on is if the characters live on in my head, if they become alive and Stedman has certainly done this. I think about living in a light house, about Tom and Izzy’s life and I dream about Australia, so on that basis I think I can give you a five star rating! 

The Light Between Oceans – M. L Stedman (debut novel) 

***** – It may have broken my heart but I love this novel to pieces already! 

Published by Black Swan 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chbosky

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Last month I sat down to watch The Perks of a Wallflower, not knowing that there was a novel. As a Emma Watson fan I was very excited to see  how she would tackle an american role and how should would progress as an actress, and I had heard it was a good movie. As I watched I felt that there was something missing, after finding the novel I hoped that I could work that out.

The novel opens with Charlie’s letter, addressed to simply ‘friend’ and why he has chosen them and that he doesn’t want them to find him. This is itself I found a little odd but decided to carry on to the actual novel and try and find what was missing. All I can say is that if I hadn’t watched the film (and didn’t have you guys to think about) I probably wouldn’t have continued with the novel. The problem was the narrative perspective, throughout most of the novel I found it really hard to be sympathetic with Charlie. Not only did his voice appear dull, fractured and frankly odd there was also no reason for the way he acted around people. The attitude is made worse by the self pity that until much later has no reason, Charlie just appears to be a moping teenager wondering where he fits in and living the life of a loner. To make matters worse every single scenario generally ended in an incredibly depressing way and focused on the gloom of life.  

When Charlie meets some friends I thought hallelujah!, this might perk things up from here. I was wrong again and starting to get a little annoyed, Chbosky portrayed these group of teenagers as spending all their time drinking, driving (sometimes after drinking), getting high or stoned or being in generally abusive and troubling relationships. There were some areas of lightness, such as Charlies family relationships but these were generally after a secret of some kind and that ruined the relationships for me. 

I know I haven’t said an awful lot about the novel but the problem with there being a major spoiler right near the end of the book is that there isn’t much I can reveal. Honestly I was incredibly let down by this novel and in some ways I found Charlie as being quite irritating as a narrator. In the end I felt less so as things seemed to blend a little but before I could enjoy it the novel was dragged back to a depressive state (which at the end is understandable). 

I give this novel 2 stars **, I might watch the film again but I doubt I would read the novel. I honestly struggled and was incredibly bored throughout. 

 

Review by Chloe Metzger

The Storyteller – Jodi Picoult

the-storyteller

Imagine living a life where destroying others made you a good person.

Imagine living a life where the monsters you imagined suddenly became real. 

Imagine a revelation and story leaving you trying to make sense of the world

past and present.

Welcome to the world of The Storyteller, Jodi Picoult’s brand new and breath taking novel. From the very beginning you are caught up in Picoult’s world, arguably more seamlessly than any other novel. Yet again she has created an entire novel from a simple moral question, someone who committed murder asks for your forgiveness, what would you do? Ok maybe it’s a little bit more complicated but this simple seed quickly branches out and has you deep in thought as you read. Sage Singer is a baker, she works at night alone as she cannot face the world seeing her scars, she later meets an elderly man who for the first time is someone she can talk to apart from her boss.  Imagine he tells you he needs your help, he wants you to help him die but before you do that you need to forgive him for helping to murder millions of people. Hooked yet? I certainly was.

A bit of context might help here. I waited for months and months for this novel to be released, imagine how excited I was when my boyfriend managed to get hold of a copy for me from the United States before it was released in the U.K. The novel combines some of my favourite things, Jodi Picoult novels, historic fiction, learning about the Holocaust and divided perspective, oh and a poke at Fifty Shades of Grey ( I did chuckle a lot at one simply joke). My own personal fascination with the Holocaust both the survivors and those lost started when I was looking at the period at the age of 11, I would trawl through accounts of the survivors both horrified and hooked at the same time. I think this is what makes The Storyteller even more fascinating, from picking up any of Picoult’s novel you will know that she does her research thoroughly but this is something else entirely. On the one hand you have the character of Minka who tells the story of a Holocaust survivor, an incredible tale. I had to remind myself that this was fictional, simply as the sheer amount of detail that has gone into Minka’s section was amazing if you were given this and not told it was written by an author you would genuinely believe it was a real survivors story. What is incredible also is how Picoult has woven Minka’s story ideas into the novel, at first I was a little thrown but they match the plot line perfectly and give really interesting ideas that I never would of thought of on my own and show the humanity in others as well.   To combat this however the reader is also given an equally shocking story beforehand, although this one made me sick to the stomach. SS officer Josef’s story was beyond belief, from the beginnings of Nazi Germany where young boys were pretty much brainwashed into being brutes (not that I think this is an excuse at all)  and then either went insane from their ‘duties’ or had to drink themselves stupid just to try and  forget  (see even you are feeling some mild sympathy, the brilliance of the author!), because at the end of the day no matter how monstrous and vile they were human…one point in time at least.

I cannot fault this novel in any way (as my readers will know if I don’t like something, I really don’t like something) and ending was incredible and so shocking not even a hardcore fan could work it out! The different perspectives are incredible too because it leave you having sympathy for characters you really feel you shouldn’t. I think that although Minka and Josef’s story will dominate the reader, Sage and another character (who I will not give away as I don’t want to ruin the surprise) present a modern perspective which is needed in this type of novel. The division Sage feels towards Josef as an old man and him in his youth tears the reader apart too, so does her turmoil over her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor. I cried though this novel, sometimes I had to put it down because it was so hard to process but within minutes it was back in my hands. Why do I like The Storyteller most of all though? Because even in one of the darkest parts of history and in the presence of the most revolting crimes against humans you still feel that there is light, that humanity still exists.

So to end, this novel made me want to live, it made me want to live for those who survived and those who didn’t.

***** five stars (although this doesn’t seem enough) released in the UK on the 26th March.

Can I just add a HUGE thank-you to Jodi for taking the time to reply to my tweets, this was incredible for me and I hope this review does the novel justice. Hopefully one day I can talk to you in person. Thank you so much! (I’m desperately trying to get to a signing but they’re all clashing with college).

Chloe Metzger – a lifelong fan.