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Saint Anything By Sarah Dessen

Saint Anything ‘Saint Anything’ is by bestselling American author, Sarah Dessen.

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and – lately – concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident? Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac: gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

I’ve been a fan of Sarah Dessen for years, when I was younger I used to curl up with her books enjoying her warmhearted tales of young adult love and drama.

When I received a copy of ‘Saint Anything’, I was delighted to take a trip down nostalgia lane and enjoy stories of less complicated and dark lives. In this story we meet Sydney, a teenage girl, who lives in her older brother’s shadow. Ever since, he paralysed a boy in a drink driving incident, Sydney has had to live with his guilt as well as fade into the background as their mother focuses her time and attention on bringing Peyton to rights even though he is in jail for the crime.

For a quiet life, Sydney is transferred to another school, away from the prying eyes and curious looks and it’s in this new school that Sydney makes new friends with the outspoken and fun Layla. Layla takes Sydney under her wing and helps her adjust to her new life and introduces Sydney to her chaotic family and handsome older brother, Mac. A quiet and gentle soul that Sydney finds herself drawn to.

The story flows at a gentle pace we see Sydney come of her shelf and begin to live her life, after years of being a wallflower. She begins to speak up for her beliefs and begin to voice her announce, which is a joy to read.

A tender and poignant tale that tackles issues that all teenagers have to go through such as self confidence and self doubt, this book was beautifully written with a relatable tone that all young adults can relate to.

A story of first love and new beginnings, ‘Saint Anything’ is a charming and sweet story about starting over and sometimes just believing in anything is enough to get you through the day.

You can buy Saint Anything from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

A Legacy Of Spies Book Tour – Extract

A Legacy Of SpiesAnd now for something a bit different for the website. I’m delighted to be sharing an extract from John LeCarré’s new book ‘A Legacy Of Spies’.

What follows is a truthful account, as best I am able to provide it, of my role in the British deception operation, codenamed Windfall, that was mounted against the East German Intelligence Service (Stasi) in the late nineteen fifties and early sixties, and resulted in the death of the best British secret agent I ever worked with, and of the innocent woman for whom he gave his life.

A professional intelligence officer is no more immune to human feelings than the rest of mankind. What matters to him is the extent to which he is able to suppress them, whether in real time or, in my case, fifty years on. Until a couple of months ago, lying in bed at night in the remote farmstead in Brittany that is my home, listening to the honk of cattle and the bickering of hens, I resolutely fought off the accusing voices that from time to time attempted to disrupt my sleep. I was too young, I protested, I was too innocent, too naive, too junior. If you’re looking for scalps, I told them, go to those grand masters of deception, George Smiley and his master, Control. It was their refined cun- ning, I insisted, their devious, scholarly intellects, not mine, that delivered the triumph and the anguish that was Windfall. It is only now, having been held to account by the Service to which I devoted the best years of my life, that I am driven in age and bewilderment to set down, at whatever cost, the light and dark sides of my involvement in the affair.

Just from that short piece, you already can tell this sounds like a thrilling story!

You can buy A Legacy of Spies from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Betrayals By Fiona Neill

The Betrayals‘The Betrayals’ is the latest book by Fiona Neill.

Best friends Rosie and Lisa’s families had always been inseparable. But that summer, Lisa had an affair with Rosie’s husband Nick. And now, after years of silence, she sends Rosie a letter begging for help. A letter which exposes dark secrets. Daughter Daisy’s fragile hold on reality begins to unravel. Teenage son Max blames himself for everything that happened that long hot summer. And Nick must confront his own version of events.

It’s not often that I struggle with a book, but for me ‘The Betrayals’ was a difficult book to get into, filled with a complex and unlikable characters. Towards the end, I was almost looking forward to finishing it.

The story is seen from the perspective of the Rankin’s family, who all suffered badly when father, Nick was exposed for having an affair with Lisa, the best friend of his wife, Rosie. After this exposure is revealed, Daisy becomes unwell and develops OCD, creating many routines. She becomes consumed with the OCD, fearing that if she doesn’t act out her routines, that Rosie will die. Her illness spreads to her younger brother Max, who also becomes consumed, having to placate his sister and understand her reasons.

But just as Daisy finally recovers, her old symptoms reappear when Nick announces his engagement to Lisa, suddenly she’s counting in times of three and constantly having to check the knife drawer, all whilst fearing for her mothers safety. She tries to hide her illness but Max is fine attuned to her symptoms and begins to fear for her. But he’s other things on his mind, having met the mysterious Connie, an older woman who’s taken his heart. He finds Daisy irritating and is angry that she’s constantly looking for his attention and support.

Whilst the children deal with sudden reappearance of Lisa in their lives, Rosie throws herself into her work and Tinder, meeting men to distract her from what is going on around her.

Nick is paying for his infidelity, even though he loves Lisa dearly, he clearly regrets how things have turned out and how little his children think of him. He scares off his future and how bleak it will be without Lisa in his life, he pleads for her to seek proper treatment but she decides to go the alternative route, convinced that her cancer is her punishment for cheating on her best friend.

The story is written in the past and present tense. Going back to the time, when the affair was revealed and how it affected people particularly Daisy, who’s version of events is different to others.

The characters are complicated and self absorbed, all caught up in their own dramas and constantly seeking reassurance or forgiveness. At times, I found their neediness and drama irritating and just couldn’t find them relatable or engaging and also felt the sorry could have been wrapped up a lot sooner.

This is the first book that I’ve read by Fiona Neill and I’m disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it, although she is an author that I would like to look into, with the success of her previous book ‘The Good Girl’ which is on my TBR pile. Sadly, ‘The Betrayals’, a dark and obsessive story about lust and friendships just wasn’t for me.

You can pre-order The Betrayals from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 10th August 2017.

When Light Is Like Water By Molly McCloskey

When Light Is Like Water‘When Light Is Like Water’ is the latest book by Molly McCloskey.

Alice, a young American on her travels, arrives in the West of Ireland with no plans and no strong attachments – except to her beloved mother, who raised her on her own. She falls in love with an Irishman, marries him, and settles down in a place whose codes she struggles to crack. And then, in the course of a single hot summer, she embarks on an affair that breaks her marriage and sets her life on a new course. After years working in war zones around the world, and in the immediate aftermath of her mother’s death, Alice finds herself back in Ireland and contemplating the forces that led her to put down roots and then tear them up again. What drew her to her husband, and what pulled her away? Was her husband strangely complicit in the affair? Was she always under surveillance by friends and neighbours who knew more than they let on?

This book is written in the first person and is seen through the narrative of Alice, a young American who travels to Ireland, intending to stay there for a short time, but she ends up staying for a number of years, marrying an Irish man and settling down.

The story is written in a reflective style as Alice has returned to Ireland after many years away and she looks back on what she has done with her life and how she has got to where she is.

The story is written in the past and present tense and gives the reader a great insight into her life, as she reflects on her failings in relationship as both a wife and daughter.

After many years away from Ireland, Alice has left Nairobi and returned to the place that she thought of as home. After her mothers death, Alice finds herself unhappy and trying to properly find herself in Ireland but it’s packed with so many memories, her failed marriage and her affair. But where she went wrong in Ireland, she reconciled in Africa helping people who were less well off.

I really enjoyed this book, it’s deep and honest that really did make for insightful reading. Set against the bleak background of Ireland, the story is about a young woman trying and failing to find her place whilst trying to deal with the complications and pressures of relationships.

You can buy When Light Is Like Water from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Before It Rains By Dinah Jefferies

Before The Rains‘Before The Rains’ is the latest book by Dinah Jefferies.

1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband’s death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza’s only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she’s determined to make a name for herself. But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince’s handsome, brooding brother. While Eliza awakens Jay to the poverty of his people, he awakens her to the injustices of British rule. Soon Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families – and society – think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what’s expected, or following their hearts. .

‘Before The Rains’ is the first book that I’ve read by Dinah and it was a lovely gentle and exotic introduction to the author.

The story is seen from the perspective of Eliza, who has been sent to India to photograph the Royal family, in her adventure, she is hoping the escape the heartbreak of losing her husband and is looking forward to throwing herself into her work. But, the last thing she expects, is to find herself attracted to Jay, a handsome and charismatic man that she is reluctantly drawn to. As the story progresses and Eliza and Jay find themselves drawing closer to each other, Eliza begins to feel her broken heart begin to mend and begin to feel happier in life. But just Eliza begins to find happiness, all that is taken away when a secret from her past is revealed and her new relationship is put into question when prejudices are pitted against the couple.

Set against the swirling colours of India, this romantic tale makes for fascinating and insightful reading, with a strong and independent female lead and brooding hero, this suspenseful and thrilling story is riddled with secrets and drama and was impossible to put down.

You can pre-order Before the Rains from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 23rd February 2017.