The RemindersTitle: The Reminders

Author: Val Emmich

Pages: 321 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

Overcome with the loss of his boyfriend Sydney, Gavin Winters has set fire to every reminder in their home. A neighbour has captured the blaze on video, turning this little-known TV actor into a household name. Gavin flees LA for New Jersey, where he hopes that ten-year-old Joan, the daughter of a close friend, can reconnect him with the memories of Sydney he is now in danger of losing for ever. Joan was born with a rare ability to recall every single day of her life in perfect detail, and in return for sharing her memories of Sydney, Gavin will help her write a song for a local competition. For Joan has had enough of being the girl who can’t forget – she wants to be the girl who will never be forgotten . . .

Charming, beautifully observed, poignant and funny, The Reminders by actor and musician Val Emmich is an irresistible story of the unlikely friendship between a grief-stricken man who can’t remember and a ten-year-old girl who can’t forget.

The Review

The Reminders by Val Emmich is one of the quirkiest books that I have read in a long time. It centres on the unusual friendship of Gavin and Joan. Gavin is an actor who has recently lost his boyfriend and he isn’t coping with the loss. Joan is a ten year old girl who has HSAM – a condition which means that she remembers everything that happens to her. Gavin and Joan form an unlikely alliance; Gavin has Joan tell him stories about Sydney and Joan has Gavin help her write a song for a competition that she is desperate to enter because Joan wants to be remembered the way she remembers everything.

The Reminders is a wonderful story of loss and grief and, in a sense, a coming of age tale. Emmich has managed to create a very realistic and believable situation with his two protagonists and maintains clear narrative voice for them both. There is a massive heart at the centre of The Reminders which makes it a likeable one-sitting read.

The Reminders by Val Emmich is available now.

For more information regarding Val Emmich (@ValEmmich) please visit www.valemmich.com.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan.com) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

4 Stars

The AddressTitle: The Address

Author: Fiona Davies

Pages: 354 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House UK

The Blurb

Fiona Davis, author of The Dollhouse, returns with a compelling novel about the thin lines between love and loss, success and ruin, passion and madness, all hidden behind the walls of The Dakota, New York City’s most famous residence.

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden’s biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City—and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich—and often tragic—as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives —and lies—of the beating hearts within.

The Review

Firstly, I’d like to thank Samuel Bonner from Penguin for sending me a review copy of The Address.

I was initially drawn to the cover of The Address – yes, once again judging a book by its cover – it is beautiful. The jacket design is beautiful to look at and is even more sumptuous when you have a physical copy. It initially draws you in with the black and white background and colour image of a woman in the foreground. The image filled me with intrigue. I had to read this book.

The Address is a story told from multi-perspective; two different time zones with two different feisty characters. In the late 1880s we meet Sara Smythe: the manageress of a busy London hotel who gets the opportunity to work in New York as the manageress of the soon to be opened Dakota. With upward mobility and adventure on her mind Sara travels to New York for this new life. But is she in danger of being swept away by the romance of the land of opportunity?

Sara’s counterpart is Bailey Camden whose experience of New York couldn’t be more different than that of Sara. Eighties New York was the land of the “Yuppie” – drink and drugs were rampant and Bailey has been a victim of a drug fuelled haze. With the risk of falling back on her negative ways Bailey grabs on to every opportunity to keep her head above water. This includes the mystery of the Camden family and their sordid history that is entrenched in the Dakota buildings.

Whilst both protagonists are very different their lives parallel each others in the sense that they are both restricted by their circumstances, those being: money, family status and being a woman.

I really loved The Address. Fiona Davis transported me to the other side of the world and back in time. Personally, I preferred Sara Smythe’s story. I constantly felt bound which shows the power and skill of Davis’s writing. Without giving too much away, the way in which Davis dealt with the issues surrounding mental health was compassionate but equally terrifying and called upon a genuine fear of mine. At times reading Sara’s story I struggled to breathe.

With plot twists and characters that you loved and that you loved to hate, Fiona Davis has really accomplished great things with The Address. It was a joy to read.

The Address by Fiona Davis is available now.

For more information regarding Fiona Davis (@FionaJDavis) please visit www.fionadavis.net.

For more information regarding (@PenguinRHUK) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

4 Stars

 

The Lesser BohemiansTitle: The Lesser Bohemians

Author: Eimear McBride

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Crown Publishing/Hogarth

The Blurb

The captivating, daring new novel from Eimear McBride, whose astonishing debut novel, A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing, was an international literary phenomenon and earned the author multiple awards and recognition.

Upon arrival in London, an eighteen-year-old Irish girl begins anew as a drama student, with all the hopes of any young actress searching for the fame she’s always dreamed of. She struggles to fit in — she’s young and unexotic; a naive new girl — but soon she forges friendships and finds a place for herself in the big city.

Then she meets an attractive older man. He’s an established actor twenty years her senior, and the inevitable, clamorous relationship that ensues is one that will change her forever.

A redemptive, captivating story of passion and innocence set across the bedsits of mid-nineties London, McBride holds new love under her fierce gaze, giving us all a chance to remember what it’s like to fall hard for another.

The Review

When I first started reading The Lesser Bohemians I didn’t like it. Even as an avid reader, I have never come across this writing style before and I won’t lie to you it got me cross. There were unfinished sentences and thoughts and I will admit I just thought that Eimear McBride was writing in this style to be artsy and different. I found it to be a pretentious style of writing. However, my mama didn’t raise no quitter so I persevered and I am awfully glad that I did.

The overall story is really good. The relationship between the two main characters is developed nicely over time and you can feel the struggles of this bourgeoning relationship because of the age different and life experiences.

Therefore, I liked the story as a whole but the writing style is just not my cup of tea.

The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride is available now.

For more information regarding Eimear McBride please visit www.eimearmcbride.com.

For more information regarding Crown Publishing (@CrownPublishing) please visit www.CrownPublishing.com.

For more information regarding Hogarth Books (@HogarthBooks_UK) please visit www.vintage-books.co.uk.

3 Stars

How to Save a LifeTitle: How to Save a Life

Author: Kristin Harmel

Pages: 208 Pages

Publisher: Gallery

The Blurb

Groundhog Day meets Grey’s Anatomy in this heartfelt novella with a hint of magic from the internationally bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and The Life Intended, in which a woman with only a short time to live discovers she can repeat the same day over and over until her life feels complete.

When a pediatric oncology nurse receives a devastating prognosis—she has just weeks left to live—she finds unexpected comfort from a patient. Her young friend shares a life- and death-changing secret: it is possible to live the same day over and over again until she’s experienced a truly full life. Thus begins a heartbreaking and joyful journey of love, friendship, and self-discovery, as the brave nurse only truly learns how to live in the face of death.

Kristin Harmel, whose work has been called “immersive and evocative” (Publishers Weekly), “absorbing…well-paced and warmhearted” (Kirkus Reviews), and “absolutely enthralling” (Fresh Fiction), infuses her poignant, uplifting novella with a dash of magic and a hefty dose of heart.

The Review

My review of How to Save a Life, the latest novella by Kristin Harmel, should have been cut and dried. I should have hated it. I should have.

Hear me out.

The one thing that really stresses me out beyond belief is the thought of doing something over and over and over again. It is for this reason that I cannot watch Groundhog Day and why for one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Life Serial – Season 6 Episode 5) I get extremely stressed out. I don’t know why this phenomenon has such a negative effect on me but it does. Therefore, I was fully intending to dislike How to Save a Life on that principle alone.

Ooh, but that Kristin Harmel is a good egg. I’ve yet to read something by her that I have disliked and How to Save a Life is no different. It is a lovely story. The premise being that a terminally ill nurse have to try and correct the regrets in her life before she dies and with the help of some other terminally ill patients she is able to reconcile the aspects of her life with which she is unhappy.

How to Save a Life is a sweet, heart warming story that makes you question the negativity that you may be holding on to and like all good books helps us develop empathy because we all have limited time on this earth so we may as well make the most of it whilst we can.

How to Save a Life by Kristin Harmel is available now.

For more information regarding Kristin Harmel (@kristinharmel) please visit www.KristinHarmel.com.

For more information regarding Gallery (@GalleryBooks) please visit instagram.com/gallerybooks

3 Stars

The Reader on the 627Title: The Reader on the 6:27

Author: Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

Pages: 194 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

An international bestseller, The Reader on the 6.27 is ready to take you on a journey . . .

Guylain Vignolles lives on the edge of existence. Working at a book pulping factory in a job he hates, he has but one pleasure in life . . . Sitting on the 6.27 train each day, Guylain recites aloud from pages he has saved from the jaws of his monstrous pulping machine. But it is when he discovers the diary of a lonely young woman, Julie – a woman who feels as lost in the world as he does – that his journey will truly begin . . .

The Reader on the 6.27 is a tale bursting with larger-than-life characters, each of whom touches Guylain’s life for the better.

For fans of Amelie and Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, this captivating novel is a warm, funny fable about literature’s power to uplift even the most downtrodden of lives.

The Review

What can I say about The Reader on the 6:27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent? Well, I didn’t love it. I liked it and I appreciate the concept of the story but there were some things about the story that I had problems with.

The story is about Guylain Vignolles, a factory worker who spends his commute to work reading random pages from stories to the other passengers. By chance, Guylain comes across a memory stick and discovers the diary of a young girl. He starts reading her journal entries, instead of pages from books, to the passengers and sets out to find her.

It is in the latter half of The Reader on the 6:27 that the story starts to get interesting. For the first half, I was confused as to what the heck was going on. For me, the exposition was far too lengthy and only offered me information that was irrelevant. It is the introduction of Julie that makes The Reader on the 6:27 interesting. Sadly, this part of the story was too short.

Overall, The Reader on the 6:27 is quirky and interesting but unfortunately, it was a little too weird for my liking.

The Reader on the 6:27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent is available now.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

2 Stars