Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Review: Summer's Child by Diane Chamberlain

Summer's Child by Diane Chamberlain
Pages:  416

Summary:  A chance to uncover the secrets of her past On the morning of her eleventh birthday, Daria Cato finds an unexpected gift on the beach – an abandoned baby. Unable to leave the child unclaimed, the Cato family adopt Shelly, but the question of her birth haunts the local community.Twenty years later Rory Taylor returns home – and will not rest until he has answers for Shelly. As closely guarded secrets and sins begin to unravel, piece by piece the mystery of the summer’s child is about to be exposed. A mystery no one involved is prepared to face. A truth that will change her future forever.

Ever since a friend lent me The Lost Daughter, I've been hooked on Diane Chamberlain's books. I picked up Summer's Child to take on holiday with me - as the title seemed holiday appropriate! And once again Chamberlain didn't disappoint.

Summer's Child follows the story of Daria Cato, who found her now-adopted sister Shelly abandoned on the beach as a baby. Daria has grown up to care and protect Shelly but without knowing the truth about the girl's true parentage. Meanwhile Shelly is taking steps to discover who she really is by getting help from TV personality, and Daria's childhood neighbour, Rory.

For the first half of this book I was caught up in the mystery of who Shelly was and who her parents were. Every character that was introduced lead me to play detective with them and try and guess who was involved and what had happened. I was almost reading it like a detective novel. I loved the mystery and the array of characters all who all had these connections to each other, and that drove me on and kept me hooked.

But once I got to the second half of the book, I found myself less concerned with the answer to the mystery, and I don't mean that in a bad way or that I'd lost interest - far from it! I cared much more about the present situations of the characters. I loved Daria and her rekindled friendship with Rory, and seeing how she was passionate about protecting Shelly. I adored Rory and his journey back to his roots, reconnecting with lost friends whilst trying to get closer to his son Zack. I was fascinated by the mysterious Grace and just what she was up to. It was the characters that really made this book.

As a holiday read this book was perfect. I ate it up quite quickly and it didn't feel too heavy. With some of the topics covered in the story it could really have been dragged down with the emotions but it felt like everything was perfectly balanced. The setting had me immersed in the location and I loved picturing the characters sat on their porches overlooking the beach.

There were some flaws - for example the big reveal didn't quite go the way I was expecting, and a few things were maybe just a tad rushed or convenient - but nothing impaired my enjoyment of the story and the characters. If you've read and enjoyed Chamberlain's other novels then this goes up on my list of recommendations, and if you haven't then this is a great book to pick up as a first read this summer.

Rating: 4*

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Review: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
Pages: 544
Summary: France, 1916. Sophie Lefevre must keep her family safe whilst her adored husband Edouard fights at the front. When she is ordered to serve the German officers who descend on her hotel each evening, her home becomes riven by fierce tensions. And from the moment the new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie's portrait - painted by Edouard - a dangerous obsession is born, which will lead Sophie to make a dark and terrible decision.
Almost a century later, and Sophie's portrait hangs in the home of Liv Halston, a wedding gift from her young husband before he died. A chance encounter reveals the painting's true worth, and its troubled history. A history that is about to resurface and turn Liv's life upside down all over again . . .

Rating: *****

 This was my first of Jojo Moyes' novels and, having heard good things, I was excited to finally check out this author. The book alternates between past and present telling the story of Sophie Lefevre living during the first world war in France and Liv Halston living is present day London.

Having reading this book I can say for certain that I'll be reading more by this author! I was hooked from the very first page. Moyes' writing is absolutely captivating and had me completely engrossed in Sophie's world from the beginning. I could picture myself in her French village and could practically smell the food Sophie and her sister cook up in the kitchen of their bar Le Coq Rouge or the bread coming from the bakery.

The characters in this book were a huge draw for me. Sophie was someone I could instantly sympathise with and really felt for. She faces some difficult decisions and her life is turned upside down by the consequences of those decisions, but all the time I felt myself rooting for her and understanding her. 

The story centres around a painting which is central to Sophie's life and also appears in the lives of our present day characters, copywriter Liv Halston and her new acquaintance Paul. I loved how the two parts of the story, so drastically different, complemented each other so well. It never felt jarring flicking between the past and present, and each story was so compelling in different ways. I found myself longing to be with both sets of characters! 

I loved that Sophie's story kept me hooked with the wartime drama and tragedy, and yet at the same time I could enjoy the contemporary side to Liv's story. The present day side of the book was just as gripping, and sort of reminded me of a Jodi Picoult novel (she's one of my favourite authors so I say this as a complement) as there was a courtroom drama to keep me hooked throughout.

Great characters, wonderful writing and touching drama made this book an absolute winner for me and definitely one I'll be recommending! I read in the space of a day or two as every spare bit of time I had was spent immersed in the story, and once I started reading I just couldn't put it down!

Welcome to Total Fiction!

Hello! I'm Sarah and this is my brand new blog for book blogging! I previously ran the blog Total Teen Fiction where I reviewed my YA reads. I still have a huge passion for YA, but needed a bit of a fresh start, and so instead of resurrecting my old blog I decided to start a new chapter.

Over the past year or so I'd been struggling to keep up with the amount of books I used to. I fell into a long reading slump. I started a new job, then started working full time and suddenly the time and energy I had previously spent reading was being taken over by other things.

But recently I've found that spark again. I've fallen back in love with books, am finding time to read, and found myself missing sharing that with other readers as I used to when I blogged regularly. 

So here we go! I'm excited to start sharing my love of reading again and I hope you'll join me in my reading journey!

In terms of genre I'm an ecclectic reader and will read a little bit of everything! Contemporary, sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy, crime and thrillers will all probably feature on this blog. We shall see!

Thanks for reading, stay tuned for updates!

S x