Review: The Santangelos by Jackie Collins

The Blurb

A vicious hit, a vengeful enemy, a drug addled Colombian club owner and a sex crazed Italian family… the ever powerful Lucky Santangelo has to deal with them all.

Meanwhile Max – her teenage daughter – is becoming the “It” girl in Europe’s modeling world. And her Kennedyesque son, Bobby, is being set up for a murder he didn’t commit. But Lucky can deal. Always strong and unpredictable, with her husband Lennie by her side, she lives up to the family motto – Never fuck with a Santangelo.

Lucky rules… the Santangelos always come out on top.

The Santangelos is an epic family saga filled with love, lust, revenge and passion.

The Review

On Saturday the 19th of September I picked up my very first Jackie Collins book. The Santangelos was sent to me by Book in the City for review and since I had never read anything by Jackie Collins before (believing that she wrote all those sexy books that I had never had any interest in reading) I decided to give her writing a whirl. I woke up the following morning to the news that she had sadly died after suffering from cancer.

What can I say about my first dip into the literary world of Jackie Collins? Well sitting here writing this review is a convert. I bloody loved The Santangelos.

It is such a shame that it is the last in the series because it has inspired me to buy the rest and start from the beginning.

The Santangelos are a successful family headed by the retired Gino Santangelos. His daughter, Lucky, is our protagonist and the story centres around the drama that her family manage to get themselves involved in. Son Bobby is accused of murder, daughter Max is living the wildlife in London to get over her movie star ex and Gino is gunned down in an assassination. Lucky is determined to find out who it was that killed her father but how far is she willing to go?

So, even though I have came into this world a little late I feel like I know the characters – Collins provides enough back story so new readers do not feel lost. That she manages to do this whilst maintaining a fun and frisky story is a credit to her talent as a writer. There is a reason why her writing is so popular and that reason is that she is damn good at telling a story.

I’m genuinely saddened that there are no more books about the Santangelos family but I am glad that I have the whole back catalogue to get through.

The Santangelos by Jackie Collins is available from September 30th.

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Review: Lipstick on His Collar by Brigid Coady

Title: Lipstick on His Collar

Author: Brigid Coady

Pages: 10 pages

The Review

I was thoroughly confused by Lipstick on His Collar. If you were to ask me what happened in it I genuinely couldn’t tell you without being completely perplexed. All I really know is that I have read the series out of sync and the ending of Lipstick on His Collar has put me off reading the rest.

Lipstick on His Collar by Brigid Coady is available now.

Review: Don’t Get Me Wrong by Marianne Kavanagh

Dont Get Me WrongThe Blurb

Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes, David Nicholls, and Sophie Kinsella. Here is a Pride and Prejudice for the modern era: Londoners Kim and Harry can’t see eye to eye…until the life of the person they both love most hangs in the balance.

Kim and Harry are total opposites who happen to have the same favourite people in the world: Kim’s older sister Eva and her young son, Otis. Kim has never seen what her free-spirited big sister sees in a stuck-up stockbroker like Harry and has spent her childhood trying to keep him out (must he always drive the most ostentatious cars and insist on charming everyone he meets?), while Harry’s favourite occupation is provoking Kim.

Both Harry and Kim are too stuck in their prejudices to care about what’s really going on beneath the surface of each other’s lives. They’ll never understand each other—until the worst of all tragedy strikes. Faced with the possibilities of losing the person they both love most, long-buried secrets come to a head in ways that will change both Harry and Kim forever.

Marianne Kavanagh tackles the bonds of family, friendship, and love through sophisticated storytelling. Don’t Get Me Wrong is a witty and heart-warming book that will charm readers everywhere.

The Review

Oh boy.

This is a tough review to write because I have very mixed feelings.

Don’t Get Me Wrong wasn’t brilliant. In fact, I really struggled to finish it. The reason for this is very simple and clear to me. I absolutely detested the protagonist. Kim was whiney and petulant all the way throughout the story. Her attitude, hatred and demeanour did nothing to curry favour with the audience. I can honestly say that I have never disliked a main character more.

On the flip side of this, Don’t Get Me Wrong had some truly well written, emotional scenes; these scenes, had Kim been likeable, would have saved the story for me. In theory the plot is really good but in practice I really could not get into the story. I persevered but it did take me a week to finish which is unlike me.

Maybe it was just me but I couldn’t understand why a writer would make her protagonist so unlikeable and difficult to relate to; especially when the theme of death is one we can all identify with.

Don’t Get Me Wrong was definitely not my favourite book of the year.

Don’t Get Me Wrong is available now.

 

Review: The First Thing You See by Gregoire Delacourt

The Blurb

Imagine you are a young mechanic living in a small community in France. You own your own home, and lead a simple life. Then, one evening, you open your front door to find a distraught Hollywood starlet standing in front of you. This is what happens to Arthur Dreyfuss in the village of Long, population 687 inhabitants.

But although feigning an American accent, this woman is not all that she seems. For her name is Jeanine Foucamprez, and her story is very different from the glamorous life of a star. Arthur is not all he seems, either; a lover of poetry with a darker past than one might imagine, he has learnt to see beauty in the mundane.

THE FIRST THING YOU SEE is a warm, witty novel about two fragile souls learning to look beyond the surface – for the first thing you see isn’t always what you get!

The Review

Firstly I would like to thank Sam Eades from Orion Books who sent me a copy of The First Thing You See to review.

I love quirky books. By this I mean books that when you read them you think to yourself that you have never heard a story like this before. Gregoire Delacourt’s novel The First Thing You See is one of these books.

It is gorgeously written and translated and has the most beautiful and lyrical quality to it. It lilts, repeats and refrains in all the right places.

The story of a superstar entering your life is I suspect a dream that we have all harboured at some point and for protagonist Arthur Dreyfuss that is exactly what happens. It is then that his life is taken over by a whirlwind of romance and drama.

The First Thing You See is lovely; at was such a joy to read. It is a story filled with heart and is tinged with sadness but it is strangely uplifting. It is a book that is chockfull of charm and sophistication and is entirely unique and was a genuine pleasure to read.

The First Thing You See by Gregoire Delacourt is available now.

The first thing you see

Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber

Title: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Author: James Thurber

Pages: 32 pages

The Blurb

American humorist James Thurber’s classic short story is about a man who escapes the tedium of his mundane life by retreating into his vivid imagination. This e-book features the original story, a selection of Thurber drawings and a new introduction by Rosemary A. Thurber, the author’s daughter.

The Review

Admittedly, I bought The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber because I was intrigued by the movie. I subsequently forgot about the book purchase and also the film. Now, nearly two years after I bought it I decided to read it.

It is a sweet story of a man who could have been brilliant but never got the chance to be and lives in his fantasies whether that be as a lawyer, fighter pilot or doctor. It has the overriding message of don’t take life for granted; live everyday to the fullest and be the best you that you can be.

You can see why they took the premise of this story and turned it into a film. The short story does leave potential for growth and development.

It is a simple but sweet story about achieving ones potential.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber is available now.

Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

The Blurb

Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. But when Olly moves in next door, and wants to talk to Maddie, tiny holes start to appear in the protective bubble her mother has built around her. Olly writes his IM address on a piece of paper, shows it at her window, and suddenly, a door opens. But does Maddie dare to step outside her comfort zone?

Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love.

The Review

Wow.

I mean, just wow.

Everything, Everything is unlike any book that I have ever read before.

Everything, Everything is about eighteen year old Madeline Whittier who is unlike your normal teenager. She has never been to school, doesn’t spend time with her friends of a weekend and has never gone even a little bit crazy. This is because Madeline has no immune system.

She is constantly monitored by a nurse; her mother has control over her well being and spends her time looking after her. Maddie is schooled via Skype. But to Maddie this is normality. It is only when Olly moves in the house next door that Madeline realises that maybe, just maybe she can have a bit of different normality.

Ok, now that I have that oxymoron out of the way, let’s talk about Everything, Everything. This book is phenomenal. Now I don’t like to hyperbolise things so I genuinely mean what I say here. It. Is. PHENOMENAL.

Yoon has masterfully created a world that is almost oppressive to read about. I felt Madeline’s frustrations, her claustrophobia and her desire for something more. I would hate to live a life that in fact wasn’t being lived at all. I actually felt myself clawing at my throat to get more air.

Everything, Everything is one of the best books that I have read in 2015 if not ever. You must read this.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon is available now.

Follow Nicola Yoon (@NicolaYoon) on Twitter.

Everything Everything

Review: Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

The Blurb

Never date your best friend.

Always be original.

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be clichés so they even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow; But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green.

It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover they’ve actually been missing out on high school.

And maybe even on love.

The Review

Having read (and loved) Let’s Get Lost in 2014, I was eager to get my hands on a copy of Adi Alsaid’s new novel Never Always Sometimes. Now obviously, Alsaid had a lot to live up to; Let’s Get Lost was a brilliant road trip book and an adventure I would gladly take again. Thankfully, Never Always Sometimes did not show any signs of second album syndrome. In fact, I think it outshines Let’s Get Lost.

The story is of an unbreakable friendship between Dave and Julia. Friends for five years they have always been loners together. However, in the final weeks of high school they try to cram in as many clichéd high school experiences before they graduate. It is through this experience that feelings are felt for the first time, feelings are hurt and relationships become broken.

Never Always Sometimes is wonderful. Our two protagonists, Julia and Dave are presented so well that you feel like you are watching your own friends going through this treacherous high school experience. You frequently want to bang their head together and tell them what you think. What I think is very clever but very subtle is the way that Alsaid uses their familial back story to shape the people that they have become but without using it as a justification tool. Smooth move Alsaid!

The story is about acting out teenage clichés but that is one thing that Never Always Sometimes definitely is not. The story is fresh; it pops off the page and urges you to read on. Personally, I wish I had friends like Dave and Julia when I was in school. It would have made it a lot more of an enjoyable experience.

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid is available now.

Follow Adi Alsaid (@AdiAlsaid) on Twitter.

Never Always Sometimes

Review: School Ties by Emma Lee-Potter

Title: School Ties

Author: Emma Lee-Potter

Pages: 67 Pages

The Blurb

Downthorpe Hall. A posh boarding school in the Home Counties. Will Hughes has been installed as the new headmaster – fresh from working in an inner-city Comprehensive.

Will knows there will be challenges ahead. Difficult parents, rebellious teenagers, and jealous teachers who will fight his attempts to reform the school.

What he didn’t expect was a battle for his heart.

But when he meets the fiercely ambitious deputy head Grace Foley, and the brilliantly smart science teacher Henry Mead, Will realises that the ties at Downthorpe are not just the kind you wear around your neck.

What follows is a tangle of competing ambitions and desires that will leave Will bemused – and may force him to choose between the job he has always wanted and the woman of his dreams.

School Ties is a sparkling romantic comedy that takes the reader inside the cloistered, elite world of a top public school. It introduces a brilliant cast of characters that will entrance and entertain the reader.

The Review

School Ties is a lovely short set in a boarding school. It centres on Will, a new head teacher and his relationships with his colleagues and the students.

I’m not really going to go into the plot that much because it will reveal far too much. However, I will say that this book was the tonic that I needed. I had just finished reading two really heavy books and I needed something light and uncomplicated and I received that from School Ties.

That is not to say that it is devoid of drama because it really isn’t. It is actually a very accurate representation of the dynamics of a school (believe me, I work in one) and is really engaging. Emma Lee-Potter has packed a really great story into just 67 pages.

If you a looking for a little comic relief from a really dark read then School Ties is the perfect pick me up.

School Ties by Emma Lee-Potter is available now.

School Ties

Review: The Last Honeytrap by Louise Lee

The Last Honeytrap by Louise Lee

The Blurb

Scot ‘Scat’ Delaney is a world famous jazz singer. He has ample opportunity to stray and his girlfriend, Alice, needs to know she can trust him.

Introducing Florence Love, Private Investigator.

Florence has just ten days to entrap an A-Lister. Whilst sticking to her cardinal rule:

One kiss, with tongues, five seconds – case closed.

A master of body language, evolutionary science and nifty disguises, her approach is unconventional, her success rate excellent. But targets are rarely as beautiful as Scat. Never fall for the target.

That is very bad form indeed.

The Last Honeytrap marks the energetic launch of a brilliant new series. Once you’ve met Florence Love, you’ll see the world in glorious technicolour at last.

The Review

Florence Love is a private detective who specialises in entrapment cases. When she is hired to entrap hunky superstar Scott ‘Scat’ Delany she plans to make sure she gets the scoop. She is a professional gumshoe after all what she doesn’t bank on is her falling in love with her latest target.

Amidst all this someone from Florence’s past is trying to get in touch and tell her something. Can she keep her professional head on as she tries to solve a deeply personal case? Only time will tell.

I had heard that The Last Honeytrap was a feel good, funny novel; a bit like chicklit but with more sass. To be fair it was good. It was entertaining and in a very basic way, it is a damn good detective story that kept me guessing from the beginning right to the very end. I personally did not see any of the twists and turns coming. I would make a woeful detective.

However, I found it hard to like our protagonist Florence Love. Sure, she had been scorned and had decided to become a private detective because of being scorned by a man (ok, her mum influenced her as well). She just wasn’t very likeable. Louise Lee tried to give her back story some extra elements to make us empathise with her but her actions made her come across as selfish, demanding and a little unhinged.

To be fair to Louise Lee, The Last Honeytrap is extremely well written and it will make a fantastic series. And to a large extent I did enjoy the story but when I am reading a book I have to like my leading lady. Heck, I have to want to be her but with Florence Love I just didn’t.

The Last Honeytrap by Louise Lee is available now.

The Last Honeytrap

Review: Spinster – Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick

The Blurb

‘Whom to marry and when will it happen – these two questions define every woman’s existence.’ So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single.

Using her own experience as a starting point, Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why she – along with millions of women, whose ranks keep growing – remains unmarried. This unprecedented demographic shift is the logical outcome of hundreds of years of change that has neither been fully understood nor appreciated.

Spinster introduces a cast of pioneering women from the last century whose genius, tenacity and flair for drama has emboldened Bolick to fashion her life on her own terms essayist: journalist Neith Boyce, essayist Maeve Brennan, social reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and novelist Edith Wharton. By narrating their unconventional ideas and choices, Bolick shows us that contemporary debates about settling down and having it all are timeless – the crucible upon which women have tried for centuries to forge a good life.

Intellectually substantial and deeply personal, Spinster is a new kind of unreservedly inquisitive work of memoir and broader cultural exploration that asks us to acknowledge the opportunities that exist within ourselves to live authentically, unbounded – and to be savoured.

The Review

This is a very difficult review to write. On one hand, I loved Spinster; the historical element and the attention to detail is flawless. It is entertaining, bittersweet and a document that should be used in gender studies. I learned so much about key items in the evolution of women’s independence i.e. – the typewriter.

However, I found the premise that Kate Bolick felt akin to the five women that she admired a little annoying. She constantly went on about how she felt that they were her kindred spirits and how she wished for a life like her heroines. She portrayed herself as a little girl lost, trying to find some understanding about what she wants; she wants to be a spinster but she keeps falling for inappropriate men or she falls for the right one but then pushes him away because the relationship doesn’t live up to the literary ideal that she has created in her head.

You want to scream at Bolick that real life isn’t like that. Relationships aren’t like that. You can’t have it both ways. She came across as selfish and also like a self-saboteur.

The thing is that I really liked Kate Bolick’s writing style. I thought it was a really clever and interesting book. I think that Bolick chose some really interesting women to worship. I just didn’t like the ‘grasping at straws element’ to make her life exactly like those that she revered.

Overall, Spinster is an interesting read but the biographical element was a bit too much for my personal taste.

Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick is available now.

Spinster