The Blurb

A story of love and loss inspired by heartrending true events in the Unoccupied Zone of wartime France.

An epic, sweeping tale set in wartime France, The Silent Hours follows three people whose lives are bound together, before war tears them apart:

Adeline, a mute who takes refuge in a convent, haunted by memories of her past;

Sebastian, a young Jewish banker whose love for the beautiful Isabelle will change the course of his life dramatically;

Tristan, a nine-year-old boy, whose family moves from Paris to settle in a village that is seemingly untouched by war.

Beautifully wrought, utterly compelling and with a shocking true story at its core, The Silent Hours is an unforgettable portrayal of love and loss.

The Review

Having followed Cesca Major on Twitter the buzz she built around her novel The Silent Hours compelled me to read it. Talking to other reviewers furthered this desire as they told me just how good the book was – unputdownable, can be read in one sitting, will keep you up all night – these were just a few of the comments. The amount of five star ratings on Goodreads assured me that this was a good book. It was at this moment that I made the conscious decision not to rush read The Silent Hours. I decided to pace myself and for someone who can generally finish a 400 page book in a day it was shocking just how long I took to read The Silent Hours. One whole week. I am awfully glad I made the decision to do this.

The Silent Hours is about a small village that is seemingly unaffected by World War Two. Not completely unaffected; the boys from the village have gone to fight against the Nazis and food has been rationed, however, the town hasn’t yet been occupied and in a sense life goes on as usual there. It is a story of survival told from five different perspectives; each one as compelling as the others and seamlessly intertwined.

What makes The Silent Hours so special is that Cesca Major has taken a true and harrowing story and woven a tale that batters your heart. The verisimilitude in the detail makes you feel like you are there. I felt like I was a character in the novel – through the magical moments it was lovely but through the harrowing parts I felt the panic and the drama as if it was me living it.

Let me just say, The Silent Hours is beautiful. It is a beautiful heart-wrenching multi-perspective story and it is told in the most gorgeous way. It isn’t the most fast paced story but I think it needed to have a much more languid development. Some stories of war can get bogged down with action and make it difficult to connect with the characters but at the forefront of The Silent Hours are the characters and the lives they live.

The Silent Hours is a triumph of a novel and one that was a heartbreaking delight to read.

The Silent Hours by Cesca Major is available now.

Follow Cesca Major (@CescaWrites) on Twitter.

Thank you to Corvus Books for sending me a review copy of The Silent Hours.

The Silent Hours

The Blurb

Boy meets girl…
Alex Bradley can’t help but feel that life is rather passing him by. And not just life – promotions, invitations, romance; the girl he loves only has eyes for his flatmate and his 9-5 job as the Immigration department skivvy is slowly numbing his soul. Until he meets Nadia.

Girl meets boy…

Nadia Osipova is running out of time. With no money, no lawyer and a totally fictitious boyfriend, she’s got one last summer and one last appeal before the British government deport her back to Russia.

Girl gets deported?

It’s going to be a bumpy ride, one she’s dragging her new friend Alex along for. As Nadia races through a list of all her favourite London adventures, for what may be the last time, Alex can’t help but start to see the city, and his life, through Nadia’s eyes.

From hazy summer days on the Common and heady nights in Soho’s basement bars, to twilight walks along the Southbank, will Alex realise what he’s got before it’s too late?

Funny, addictive and always honest, this is a love letter to London, friendship and the unexpected from the author of the bestselling The Best Thing I Never Had.

The Review

First there was Bridget and Mark; then there was Em and Dex and now there is Nadia and Alex. Oh, my heart.

Somewhere Only We Know by Erin Lawless is a full on modern day romance centring on Home Office worker Alex – a man who is just being carried along by life rather than actually living it. His life consists of spending time with his flatmate Rory and Rory’s girlfriend Lila….who Alex is secretly in love with. When Nadia comes into his life everything is turned upon its head. She makes him start living rather than just existing. It seems that this project is her swan song as she is currently undergoing a trial that might extradite her from the country that she calls home.

Besides Somewhere Only We Know being a tradition love story between a boy and a girl it is actually a bit of a romance with the city of London. The London described is gorgeous; the best places – besides the obvious tourist spots – are shown perfectly. I wanted to go to those places; I wanted to spend time in the company of characters in those places too. It is this want to be in the story that I think makes Somewhere Only We Know a magical book.

You can’t help but fall in love with Alex and Nadia; you can’t help but yell at the book because you want them to realise that they love each other; you cannot help but swoon. This is the kind of book that makes you fall in love.

Somewhere Only We Know is the book I have wanted to read for a very long time; longer than it has been in existence. How is that possible you may be asking yourself? Well, let me tell you. It is a rare thing to be able to make the love between two fictional characters become so real that you actually champion their love from your very roots but this is exactly what I did for Nads and Alex. And I know you will too.

Somewhere Only We Know by Erin Lawless is available from June 11th 2015.

Follow Erin Lawless (@rinylou) on Twitter.

Somewhere Only We Know

The Blurb

A heroic story of friendship and belonging

No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. And when it comes to the Socs—a vicious gang of rich kids who enjoy beating up on “greasers” like him and his friends—he knows that he can count on them for trouble. But one night someone takes things too far, and Ponyboy’s world is turned upside down…

Written over forty-five years ago, The Outsiders is a dramatic and enduring work of fiction. S. E. Hinton’s classic story of a boy who finds himself on the outskirts of regular society remains as powerful today as it was the day it was first published.

The Review

I’ve never read an SE Hinton book before; I’ll admit that until I read the introduction of The Outsiders that I didn’t even realise that Hinton was female. I assumed that a book about teenage boys and gang culture was written by a male writer. This was the first of many shocks; good shocks but ones that made me realise that I had a prejudice in me that I wasn’t aware of. Another surprise is that a book of such high acclaim could be written by someone so young. Hinton wrote her debut novel at the tender age of 17. Impressive – there is not much else to say on that matter

The Outsiders centres on two rival gangs the ‘Greasers’ and the ‘Socs.’ The ‘Greasers’ come from the wrong side of the tracks, have no money, work hard but for very little and they have little chance of bettering themselves. As opposed to the ‘Socs’ – the middle/upper class people of society who get away with whatever they do because they have the money to back them up.

Things get out of hand when greaser Johnny kills a Soc when trying to save his friend (and the protagonist of this story) Ponyboy. This causes an out and out war between both gangs and the results are fatal.

It would be fair to say that nearly 50 years on from its publication date that the slang in The Outsiders is dated but the intention and the thematic resonance of the book is still extremely powerful and relevant in modern society. There are still gang related crimes happening everyday; there are still young children playing at being grown-ups with no worry of the consequence. SE Hinton’s debut novel is still as potent and as readable today as it would have been when it was first released.

What I will say is that as a book reviewer it does take a lot to impress me and whilst I do really like a lot of the books that I read it does take something special to have be finish it in one sitting. That is exactly what happened with The Outsiders. This book is a classic for a reason.

The Outsiders by SE Hinton is available now.

The Outsiders

Title: In a New York Minute

Author: Claudia Carroll

Pages: 23 Pages

The Blurb

Love isn’t always like it is in the movies … or is it?

Amy has moved to the city that never sleeps, and now she’s looking for love.

But after a string of dating disasters it seems that finding Mr. Right isn’t quite as easy as Amy first thought.

Following in the footsteps of her favourite New York movies Amy is determined to have that romantic Manhattan moment. But like all good romances – love often turns up in the most unexpected of places…

A heart-warming, 23 page short story from best-selling author, Claudia Carroll, this is the perfect read for Valentine’s Day.

The Review

It is strange that New York (along with a few other cities) has been romanticised by the media. Movies, songs and books all sell it as the most romantic city in the world. New York is the setting for the Claudia Carroll short In a New York Minute.

Thirty-something Amy has wangled a job transfer for one year to the most exciting city in the world and she is determined to make that year count. Amy plans to do this by falling in love. She decides to date a number of men in specific, famous locations around the city. However, like all bourgeoning love stories, Amy’s dates don’t seem to go to plan.

In a New York Minute is a simple classic fairy tale love story about finding Mr Right in the right place at the right time. There is nothing more to it really. The story is too short for you to really fall in love with the hero or bond with the heroine. It just leaves you with a feeling of indifference.

This story is nice. That is it. It won’t change your life; it probably won’t even change your day but it is nice.

In a New York Minute by Claudia Carroll is available now.

In a New York Minute

The Blurb

‘If you’re looking for an original romance with a quirky twist, look no further.’ – Books with Bunny

What the Dickens is going on?
Edie Dickens is a shark of a divorce lawyer. She doesn’t believe in love and she scoffs at happily ever afters, however she’s agreed to be maid of honour for her oldest friend, Mel in two weeks and she still has the hen night to endure. But she has even more to endure when she’s visited by Jessica Marley’s ghost and finds out she must change her ways or end up being damned to an eternity watching other people’s happiness. Edie is visited by the Ghosts of Weddings Past, Present and Future, every Friday night until the day of the wedding. Can she learn from her mistakes in time? And did the ghosts send the hunky new lawyer, Jack Twist, to distract her?

The Review

My reasons for wanting to read No One Wants to be Miss Havisham were pretty simple. Firstly, I love Great Expectations and secondly, I too – like many other women – fear becoming the crusty old depressed Miss Havisham.

Admittedly, when I first started reading No One Wants to be Miss Havisham I was confused and a little bit put off by the premise of the story. It is essentially a modern day retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol but then by having Miss Havisham in the title and then having characters named after or similar to Dickensian characters I felt it was a little, dare I say it, lazy. However, once I got over my whole cross referencing issues (which I assure you dear reader were solely my own weird hang ups) I actually really enjoyed No One Wants to be Miss Havisham.

No One Wants to be Miss Havisham is a story about Edie Dickens, a hardcore divorce lawyer with a swinging brick where her heart should be. She is closed off from everyone and almost sees other peoples’ lives as an inconvenience to her own. Three weeks before her best friend wedding starts the visit from three ghosts who all show her how her life has taken a wrong turn. Seeing the error of her ways, Edie tries to make amends before it is too late.

You can see where the story is going, right? I think part of the reason I enjoyed reading this book is that I knew it could only have a happy outcome. That was kind of comforting. What I also liked about the No One Wants to be Miss Havisham is that whilst the reasons for Edie becoming an “Ice Queen” are justified they aren’t played on. In some books the author tries to rely on pop-psychology to rationalize a person’s actions but Brigid Coady lets it be a reason without dominating the entire story.

No One Wants to be Miss Havisham is definitely a hearty read with an outcome that you will enjoy. It should definitely be added to your book pile.

No One Wants to be Miss Havisham by Brigid Coady is available now.

Follow Brigid Coady (@beecee) on Twitter.

No One Wants to Be Miss Havisham