The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

indexThe Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb:

GRACE ATHERTON HAS FALLEN OUT OF LOVE … AND INTO LIFE

Between the simple melody of running her violin shop and the full-blown orchestra of her romantic interludes in Paris with David, her devoted partner of eight years, Grace Atherton has always set her life to music.

Her world revolves entirely around David, for Grace’s own secrets have kept everyone else at bay. Until, suddenly and shockingly, one act tips Grace’s life upside down, and the music seems to stop.

It takes a vivacious old man and a straight-talking teenager to kickstart a new chapter for Grace. In the process, she learns that she is not as alone in the world as she had once thought, that no mistake is insurmountable, and that the quiet moments in life can be something to shout about …

I received an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Within the opening pages of this book I wasn’t sure it was going to be for me. There was a lot of focus on violas, violins, cellos, classical perfomances, classy Parisian apartments and it all felt incredibley far removed from something I would enjoy.

However, after the incident in the Metro happens and the relevation that Grace and David were having a long term affair, my interest was piqued.

The story is full of passion, music, love and friendship and though some parts of the story are predictable (if a man has been stringing you along for the best part of a decade whilst he stays with his wife, your story probably won’t end happily…), Anstey Harris’ writing is beautiful and the story is weaved in a way that made me want to gulp it all down in one go. I loved Grace and so desperately wanted her to find a happy ending.

A lot of the themes of the book are sad, but the tone of the writing is so empowering that I felt a wonderful sense of wellbeing and peace once I’d finished reading.

Without a doubt the unlikely friendship between elderly customer Mr Williams, teenage shop assistant Nadia and Grace was the highlight of the book. It was a joy to read about their enthusiasm for music and their support of Grace.

I also really liked that once David’s true colours were revealed, Grace was fully focused on moving on. I would have found it too frustrating to read about that weasel of a man winning back her affections!

This book is a fantastic, warm read, perfect for a rainy afternoon to lighten your soul and your mood. Oh, and if you give it a chance all of the information about how violins and cellos are built is actually really fascinating.

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Distortion by Victor Dixen

Distortion by Victor Dixen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recieved an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in return for an honest review

I really loved Ascension so I couldn’t wait to start reading Distortion. I was desperate to know what the Martian pioneers would decide to do!

Distortion opens straight back in the thick of the action that Ascension finished on, which I loved. All too often sequels finish on a really juicy story line and pick up miles in the future when everything has been resolved. In Distortion, we get to experience the pioneers making the decision whether to land on Mars or turn the Cupido around. The suspense was really well built and up until the decision was made I was unsure which they would choose to go with.

I found the story line with Andrew and Harmony a bit of a disruption to the flow of the book. I don’t massively care about their characters because they went from being secondary to a main story line in this book and really when I’m reading about them I just want to be back on Mars! However, I feel like they do play an important part in the ongoing plot and I’m interested to see what happens in the next book.

I really loved all of the action on Mars, in particular the storm and the revelation that the robots can talk really peaked my interest and made the book impossible to put down. I’m really enjoying this series and can’t wait to continue it and see whether they continue to live on Mars, return to Earth or suffer from the depressurisation of the habitats.

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The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen

The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was instantly intrigued by the premise of this story. I loved the idea of the dead letters depot, staffed by letter detectives working to return lost mail to their rightful owners. I would absolutely love to be a letter detective, so much so I can’t bring myself to research whether this ever was an actual, real job once. I couldn’t bear to have missed out on such an interesting job because I was born in the wrong decade!

As the plot unravelled I became enthralled. I was so heavily invested in the love story of William and Clare, and then so intrigued to read more letters from the mysterious Winter. I was desperate to find out who she was and whether William would find her.

As characters, William and Clare were very flawed but also very lovable. I was rooting for their marriage and shaking my head in despair every time they did something to damage the chances of them fixing their issues. I felt like I knew them both intimately by the time I was a third of the way through the story and I think this is because of the incredibly beautiful and almost melodic way of writing Helen Cullen has.

Personally, I found the ending a bit disappointing. As I got nearer the end I could feel that I wasn’t going to get the neat, tidy ending I was yearning for. The number of pages I had left didn’t tally with the amount of story that still needed to be reconciled. I feel a bit cheated that we never got to properly “meet” Winter and that we didn’t get to see William and Clare’s reconciliation.

Overall though, I loved this beautifully written book and will be highly recommending it to many people.
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One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk

One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I was younger I used to steal my mums Marian Keyes and Jill Mansell books to read, even though a lot of the references went over my head. I loved the stories and the romance and the feeling after you’d turned the last page that you’d made good friends within the pages of the book.

“One in a Million” is the first book I’ve ever read that gave me these exact feelings but also was aimed at my age group and actually referenced things I understood. Oh, the joy I felt when I read the words “Just 17”.

Aside from mentioning magazines I obsessed over as a teenager, the whole plot felt really relevant to my life. I could imagine being friends with Annie and Miranda and it was easy to understand their lives and priorities and motivations.

The plot itself was really original and although it wasn’t hard to imagine how the story would end (who reads a romance hoping for a sad ending?!) I was captivated until the end and had to stifle some ugly happy sobs for fear of bewildering my toddler.

I couldn’t put this book down and it’s left me with such a warm and fuzzy feeling in my heart.

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Ascension by Victor Dixen

Ascension by Victor Dixen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recieved an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley

As soon as I read the blurb for this book I knew I had to read it. I have a weakness for books set in space and I loved the idea of a speed dating reality programme aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars, it’s definitely an original idea!

This book gave me the same kind of feeling as The Hunger Games did when I first read it, both because of the aspect of young people trying to outwit themselves in a ruthless competition and for the fact I couldn’t tear myself away from it once I started reading.

The story unravelled really well, revealing massive plot points seemingly in every chapter which really kept me glued to the book desperate to see what happened next.

At times I found that the dialogue between the characters felt a bit stilted but I think this was down to the translation of the book. There was also plenty of cheesiness in each speed dating session but I think this perfectly depicted how awkward it is to try and sell yourself to someone in a six minute window.

I was gutted when I reached the end of this book because I wasn’t ready for it to be over. I need answers! I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series!

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Always Forever Maybe by Anica Mrose Rissi

Always Forever Maybe by Anica Mrose Rissi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exhange for an honest review.

I would find it very hard to say I enjoyed reading this book given the subject matter, however, I can say that it is a very powerful, engaging and important book.

Always Forever Maybe tracks the relationship between Betts and Aiden, from the first head over heels, love at first sight moment, to the intense puppy dog love stage and beyond into more toxic territory.

Anica Mrose Rissi charts the rise and fall of this abusive relationship so realistically it is very difficult to read in places. Although Aiden does become more psychically abusive towards Betts as the book goes on, much of the story focuses on his emotional abuse- alienating his girlfriend from her friends, trying to change her behaviour and making her apologise for insignificant things so that she keeps the peace and avoids his dramatic mood changes.

The intense fast-paced nature of this relationship is so common in abusive relationships. It’s a way of gaining complete control over a person and making them feel as if they need the relationship and can’t leave. Even with the support of her friends, Betts still found herself trapped, feeling as if Aiden was the only thing that mattered.

I loved Betts and Jo’s friendship, and the unwavering support Jo showed for Betts even when she was being a bad friend to her. Jo also provided some much needed comic relief in this book and was probably my favourite character for this reason.

Although it was difficult to read, I’m glad a book like this is out there. This type of toxic behaviour in relationships can be so easy to explain away when you think you are in love. Hopefully, this book will help some people realise that they shouldn’t be subjecting themselves to such treatment.

Whilst it’s incredibly well written, I only recommend this book to you if you feel you can handle the topic. If you are at all senstive to the subject of domestic abuse I would advise reader discretion.

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Trying by Emily Phillips

Trying by Emily Phillips

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recieved an e-arc of this book via Netgalley in return for an honest review

I initially requested this book via Netgalley because I thought it was going to be a humourous book about a couple trying for a baby. It is a humourous book, and it is about a couple who want a baby but the humour and the infertility are separate. I feel like that’s an important thing to state early in on in this review. If you are currently struggling with fertility and you’re hoping to pick up a book that you can empathise with and to help you find some humour in your own experiences then this isn’t the book for you.

Considering it wasn’t at all what I expected it to be, by the time I was about 1/3 of my way into it I enjoyed it immensely, however, I did have some difficulties with it. I disliked the main characters very, very much. I felt they were immature and vacuous. Although the premise of the book suggested they were desperately trying for a baby, in actuality they seemed unwilling to do anything that might assist them with getting pregnant. I also have a real annoyance with the cliche that so often pops up in fiction that if a married couple have an argument they’ll both immediately pop off and drop their drawers for anyone who winks at them. It seems like there are no happily married people in books and that would be nice to read about.

As I mentioned though, by the time I was about 1/3 of the way into the book I felt I had a good understanding of the characters and my dislike for them personally did not detract from the fact that Emily Phillips has written a really good dramatic, funny and emotional story. I became fully caught up in the dramas; I could feel myself cringing as the lies started to unravel and I shed a few tears at the end of the book. It’s a testament to her writing that I obviously found myself emotionally invested in characters I hadn’t liked at the beginning of the book.

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