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This book has been sitting on my to-read shelf for years – fourteen to be precise!! I finally decided it was about time I read it, and I kind of wish I had picked it up earlier because it was much more enjoyable than I expected. You would be forgiven for looking at the cover and assuming that it was standard chick-lit fare (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but there’s more to this book than that.

The book is narrated by Sophie Applebaum, who is 12 years old in the first chapter, and the middle child in a loving family. Each chapter jumps on a few years from the one before it and the reader therefore has to fill in the gaps themselves. Additionally each chapter could be read as a standalone short story, which is the same format as Melissa Bank’s previous book ‘ A Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing’.

Sophie focusses a lot on her romantic relationships, but there are also other themes at play – death, illness, lost friendships, job worries and other factors are all part of the story.

I liked Sophie very much. She was very funny, and as she narrates in the first person I have to assume that Melissa Bank is also very funny with a quick sense of humour. The character was identifiable, as were her relationships with her friends and family, especially her two brothers. The story doesn’t really build up to one event, but rather it is slices of life. The somewhat disjointed storytelling might not appeal to everyone, but I really enjoyed it and will look for more by Melissa Bank – and new time I won’t leave it fourteen years to read them!

Well well. After over a year of being deprived of live theatre, I was absolutely thrilled to be able to go back to the RSC to see this production of Shakespeare’s shortest and arguably most farcical play. This was set in the newly erected outdoor Garden Theatre, which is just about the sweetest theatre I have been in. It has a capacity of 500, but ticket sales were topped at 310, to allow for social distancing. The weather is always a risk with outdoor performances, but regular groundling visitors to The Globe Theatre are used to coping; in any event we were lucky enough to have glorious sunshine on this particular visit.

In essence, The Comedy of Errors features two sets of identical twins – one pair of whom work for the other pair. As children the pairs get separated and one twin from each set ends up with one twin from the other set. When they meet up again as adults – with none of them knowing of the existence of their twin brother, mayhem ensues as they get mistaken for each other. One man’s wife is convinced he has gone off her, one of them is accused of owing money, and there are all sorts of opportunities for both verbal and physical comedy.

The play was updated to give a 1980s feel and look, with scene changes taking place accompanied by a group of four a capella singers, also dressed in 80s clothes.

Part of the challenge must have been to find actors who were sufficiently alike to make the mistaken identities believable, while being different enough for the audience to tell the actors apart. I thought this was achieved perfectly with the two Antiphulos characters (yes, to confuse things further each man has the same name as his twin) being played by Guy Lewis and Rowan Polonski, and the two Dromio characters being played by Jonathan Broadbent and Greg Haiste.

I loved the show, and found myself laughing all the way through – as did the rest of the audience who all seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. I hope the cast had as good a time as we did. I have missed live theatre so much during the Covid-19 pandemic and this was the perfect way to celebrate being able to see a show again.

Gosh, where to start with this?! The Eighth Life is an epic in every sense of the word. Coming in at over 900 pages of relatively small print, I knew I was either going to lose myself in this one or find it a chore to read. And I lost myself. I loved this historical saga, which takes the reader through an obviously well researched history of Georgia and Russia in the 20th century. It includes WW1 and WW2, the Russian Revolution, Stalin’s regime, independence for Georgia, Gorbachev and so much more.

On a much more personal level however, it is a story of multi generations of one family starting at the beginning of the 20th century and ending in 2007. There are seven sections of the book, each focusing on one particular character, but all with interweaving stories. There are divisions within the family as characters disagree on politics and lives take very different paths.

There is tragedy and heartbreak, but also love and togetherness. It also serves as a love letter to Georgia. In truth, there’s too much in the book to describe in this review, but I loved it and would highly recommend it.

This was an audiobook narrated by Laura Brattan, with three narrators: Lisa Kallisto, who is a harassed but loving mother and wife, devastated when the 13 year old daughter of her friend goes missing – when Lisa was supposed to be looking after her; an unnamed narrator who, it quickly becomes obvious, is a paedophile; and a third person narrator who concentrates mainly on the police investigation into the missing girl.

Lisa is understandably wracked with guilt when Lucinda Rivety disappears, and more so when it is believed that she was taken by a man who had already taken one girl and subjected her to a brutal rape. As Lisa’s world falls apart, the race is on to find Lucinda, but in so doing, secrets and lies become known and it seems that people are not always what they seem.

I don’t want to give too much away about the story, but I will say that I liked Lisa a lot. I also liked Joanne, the Detective Constable investigating the disappearance. However, there was a side story featuring Joanne wanting to get a breast reduction and I felt this served no purpose in the story and could easily have been edited out.

There was one twist which I didn’t predict and which I thought was well done, but the final denouement seemed rushed, as though the author had just tacked the ending on to get it finished quickly. Having said that, I did enjoy the book for the majority of the time, although most of the characters were not particularly likeable (the aunt of the missing girl was particularly unbearable). There was also another twist which seemed ludicrous to me, and spoiled the book somewhat. Nonetheless, I would read or listen to more by Paula Daly.

On a final note, the narration was excellent.

This was an audiobook narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis, who did an excellent job.

The story revolves around Rose Tinsley, whose 8 year old brother Billy was murder 16 years earlier and as a result, Rose has severe psychological problems. Rose, and her whole village were convinced of who murdered Billy and that the right person is in prison for the offence, but her belief is shaken to the core when she finds something shocking in her elderly next door neighbour’s house. Could it be that the person serving time for the murder is in fact innocent? To find out the truth, Rose must face her fears and examine the past.

The book has two timelines – 16 years earlier which is narrated in the third person, and the present day, which is narrated by Rose. In the earlier timeline, an 18 year old Rose meets Gareth, who is ten years older than her. At first he seems like the perfect charming boyfriend but as times goes on, it becomes clear that he is not all he appears.

This is the third book I have read by K L Slater, and unfortunately I have yet to find one that I really enjoy. As mentioned earlier, I did think the narration was done well by Lucy Price-Lewis, but the storyline itself seemed very repetitive. The main issue I have with this author is that in all her books (at least the ones I’ve read) the women are very weak, and quite frankly spineless and not able to see what is staring them in the face. Meanwhile the males are generally so awful that they are almost like a caricature and just serves to heighten the issue with the women not able to see through them.

The one positive thing I will say was that I liked the resolution to the mystery and I did enjoy Rose’s last scene in the book. Other than that, I found it fairly annoying with dialogue that seemed to go round in circles. There are LOADS of positive reviews for this book online, so it may be that this author is just not for me, but I think I’ll be giving her other books a miss.

This was an audiobook, narrated by Olivia Dowd, Aiofe McMahon, Chloe Massey, Sarah Owens, Rich Keeble and Jot Davies.

Jules, editor of a popular online magazine, and Will, host and hero of a reality tv show called ‘Survive The Night’ are getting married after a whirlwind romance. The destination is a remote Irish island, which is subject to high winds and rough weather. The narration switches between characters, including Jules herself, her half-sister and bridesmaid Olivia, the ‘plus one’ Hannah, best man Jonno and the wedding planner Aiofe.

It becomes clear that all of the guests have a secret from their past and there is a lot of tension simmering beneath the glittering surface. The timeline switches between ‘now’ – the wedding day and evening, and the day before when guests were arriving.

I liked the premise of the book and I generally do enjoy multiple narrators as it can be interesting seeing the same events from different perspectives. But while this started off well, it slipped into ridiculousness with too many coincidences being revealed towards the end. Also, almost all of the characters were just horrible people. I did like Hannah, but pretty much everyone else was awful.

I had high hopes for this one, but came away feeling disappointed.

Lorrie is a single mother of two teenagers, single since the loss of her partner some years before. She is shocked to hear from her first love, Antoine, who broke her heart thirty years earlier when she was 16. Despite the misgivings of her best friend Stu, Lorrie decides to meet up with Antoine again…but can you ever really go back? And is Lorrie destined to be with someone else?

Throw in problems at work, due to the beauty company Lorrie works for being taken over by a large corporation, and the headache that is Lorrie’s mother’s wedding, and our heroine certainly has her hands full!

I really enjoyed this audiobook, excellently narrated by Emma Gregory. Lorrie was an adorable character and I also loved her children, Cam and Amy, there were lots of genuinely funny moments and a few very touching ones. I will say that Lorrie’s mother was awful – utterly selfish and thoughtless, but still a believable character.

This was first experience listening to/reading Fiona Gibson and while I do think the ending was quite predictable from early on, I would definitely listen to another of her books.

Journalist Marianne Power decides to get her life in order with the use of self-help books. She plans to read one self-help book a month and follow their suggestions for the whole of that month to see what, if anything, actually works.

I expected a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek look at the huge self-help market, and although the book started off that way, it soon became apparent that this experiment was causing more problems than solutions for Marianne, and in fact there were some upsetting moments. It was a fascinating read, and definitely helped sort the wheat from the chaff – there are a LOT of people out there making a lot of money out of other people’s desire to improve or change their life, and some of them just made me really angry as they are so obviously taking advantage of their readers. Tony Robbins for example, who promises to change your life at one of his events – where the cheapest tickets are £500!! And ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne, which tells you that if you want something to happen, you just have to imagine that it has. Send yourself a fake cheque for a lot of money, and actual money will be bestowed! Yes, seriously.

Marianne Power is an engaging and likeable narrator, and this book certainly provided a lot of food for thought. I recommend it to all.

This is the third book I have read by Victoria Holt and I gave the others 4/5 and 4.5/5. I quite enjoyed this one but not to the same extent. Nora Tamsin and her father live a simple happy life, until he leaves England for Australia where he hopes to find gold and make his fortune. When he dies there, Nora moves to Australia and into the care of her father’s friend Charles Herrick, known as the Lynx. She is captivated by his enigmatic charisma and power, but has loving feelings towards his son Stirling. By the time she realises that Lynx is hell-bent on revenge for old grievances, she is too caught up in the family to escape, and finds herself involved in his campaign, which takes her back to a mysterious old house in England.

This is a strange kind of romance with a love triangle of sorts, which only gets more complicated in the last third of the novel. I quite liked Nora, and i loved the character of Minta. However, neither Lynx nor Stirling were particularly likeable and I found it hard to have any sort of feeling for them one way or the other. Lynx was supposed to be this charismatic but cold man, but he just seemed like a power hungry bully.

However the ending was a genuine surprise and I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the book, just that it did not live up to my expectations after the other books I have enjoyed by this author.

When Gemma O’Connor comes home after a work trip away, she is surprised to find her husband Danny isn’t there and when he hasn’t come back after a couple of days, she reports his disappearance to the police. She grows even more fearful when it turns out that two men who bear a striking resemblance to Danny and to each other, have been murdered and she is terrified that Danny may be a victim of the same killer.

As the police investigation moves forward, Gemma learns that Danny has been lying to her about all sorts of things and she starts to wonder how well she really knew her husband. And then she finds herself the chief suspect for the killings that have been taking place…

The premise of this book was great, although a book called The Perfect Couple could only be about a couple who are anything but! Unfortunately it became too silly for words, with a stupid protagonist doing stupid things, with a ridiculously incompetent police force investigating. The denouement when all was explained seemed to drag on and on and was almost like a farce. There was a also a lot of repetition in the early part of the story which bogged it down.

So overall, interesting idea but not a success for me.

This was an audiobook narrated by Elaine Claxton and Hattie Ladbury. One narrated Gemma’s story in the first person and the other described the police investigation from a third person point of view. Both narrators did a good job.