Review: Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Sometimes you start a book and, within the first couple of pages, know it’s going to be one of those books that you can’t put down. And then other times, the start of the story doesn’t really grab you. But you stick with it because you just have a feeling…

When Flora rushes home to be by the side of her injured father, she knows there will be unpleasant memories to face. The disappearance/presumed death of her mother has haunted the family for years. And it doesn’t help matters that her dad believes he’s seen her around town recently. Can Flora finally discover the truth about what happened? And what other secrets will be uncovered in the process?

This is one of those stories that got better and better with each page. Suspenseful, yes. But not in the manner you’d expect. The story unfolds bit by bit, alternating between past and present and largely in the form of letters left behind by Flora’s mother. And the ending is good, still leaving some questions unanswered as many great stories do.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Swimming Lessons

Advertisements

Review: Love Literary Style by Karin Gillespie


Even though I REALLY enjoy books about books, I cringe a little whenever I start a new one. I half expect camp and contrivance, as much as I hope it gives me a protagonist who loves reading and writing as much as I do. 

I had nothing to fear with Love Literary Style. Gillespie wrote a perfectly entertaining and thought-provoking account of Laurie Lee, novice romance novelist, and her meet-cutie Aaron Mite, fancy schmancy highbrow lit fic writer extraordinaire. Their ups and downs totally work.  The author talking to the reader via the characters is ingenious. Aaron Mite’s longtime girlfriend is bizarre … and maybe a necessary foil so Aaron could really find himself. 

The best thing Laurie Lee did for herself and her relationships was also my favorite part of the book: finding an expert to help improve her writing. He gave her so much more, and she knew it and appreciated it. I also ADORED the ending — a happily ever after, of course — and Gillespie wrote this one with aplomb. 

I read an advance copy, and there was an error (alluded instead of eluded) in a scene that references a famous movie. Reading incorrect vocabulary gets under my skin in general, but I kind of couldn’t believe I read this in a book about writing books. Fortunately, Gillespie’s lovely epilogue made me forget all about it. She tied up all the loose … ends; and that made it easy to grin and … bear it. 

-calliope 

Buy LOVE LITERARY STYLE

Review: The Last Days of Summer by Sophie Pembroke


Wow. I thought this was just going to be a bit of fluff based on the publishing imprint (Carina) and the title. But no. It’s almost a saga. There are juicy family secrets, tensions between siblings, eccentric writers, hidden woodland hideouts, varied buildings on the family estate, and the sudden appearance of an assistant, an envelope, and a diary. 

The Last Days of Summer explores deeper issues, too. I especially loved the discussion of the blurred line between truth and fiction — and the ways it can help or hurt a relationship. Pembroke also broaches the topics of forgiveness, honesty, and loyalty. 

My favorite character had to be carefree Caroline, though she was followed closely by her older sister, main character Saskia. I was enamored by their dad and grandfather… their warmth came right through the pages. 

Pembroke really showed her talent for weaving a complicated tale that reads easily. From the arguments to the embraces, the clothes-horse auntie to the raggedy writer, this story had threads of consistency throughout. Pairs of characters on benches, the office, the woods… Every repeated instance kept the storyline tight and moving forward. Brava! 

I sort of want to keep talking and writing about this book, but I don’t want to end up giving away spoilers… so I’ll end here! Don’t miss this excellent read. 

-calliope 

Buy THE LAST DAYS OF SUMMER

Review: Love, in Writing; by Elsa Winckler

20131102-220427.jpg Just released this month!

Love, in Writing is about a romance author, Margaret, who meets a sci-fi writer, Graham. They live in different towns in South Africa but keep running into each other at various events. Margaret and Graham develop a relationship, but each is too stubborn to see the love they have between them.

I enjoyed the South African setting, the surfing references, crazy cousin Louise, and Margaret’s bookshop (full of books with happy-ever-afters). The author signings and book launches were fun to read about, too.

I really liked that Margaret stood her ground and wouldn’t compromise her values and needs just because she met a hot guy. She wanted Love and Forever, and she was prepared to wait for it. I also thought it was great that Graham wanted to hold back, since his goal was a casual relationship. He pulled back from getting too close to Margaret before he was really ready.

Within this novel, Margaret and Graham wrote about each other in the books they were writing. Using valuable novel space to describe how and what they were writing was a little too silly for me. I skimmed over those parts when I saw them coming. I thought the plans near the end to get back together were also a little unrealistic. But I suspended my disbelief and was satisfied with the ending and the epilogue.

Love, in Writing is a well-written, quirky romance. The characters are fun, and the setting is unique. I enjoyed it.

–Calliope

Buy it now Love, in Writing