Hear the Echo

by Rob Gittins. 

This book is set in South Wales in two very different eras – during the 1930s and 1940s, and the present day.  It is based around the lives of two women, Chiara and Frankie, and follows their journey as they discover more about themselves and the consequences of decisions they have to make.

I loved this book and although it took sometime for the connection to grow with the character of Frankie, by the end of the story I felt like she was a firm friend and I wanted to make sure she was ok, and wanted to know that things would work out for her. The way Rob Gittins leaves it until the very end to weave the two stories together was a very clever technique, turning the book into a real page turner for me, as I came to like and care about the characters so much more.  Any questions that I had throughout the book were answered by the end and I loved the way two character’s lives mirrored each other in what appeared at first to be such a subtle way. 

We first meet Chiara when she is a young girl living in Italy, and follow her as she moves to Newport and progresses into adulthood, having to grow up very quickly and be thrown into an unfamiliar world.  Because of seeing her immediate vulnerability I found her character to be warm and somebody that I wanted to learn more about.  We meet Frankie in very different circumstances(!) however as her story continues it becomes clear that she is in fact very strong and her true positive qualities are soon discovered.

I would highly recommend this book to anybody that loves reading about different countries and past eras, and that loves a book with many twists and turns along the way.  There was never any point in the book where I correctly guessed what would happen.  Highly recommended, and if Rob Gittins were to write similar books to this I would be definitely putting them at the top of my reading list. 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

This book was so beautifully written and I loved the way that it became so easy to be engrossed in the character’s lives. I was sceptical at first about whether I would want to read a book written entirely in a letter format, but I found it intriguing and it made me want to read on to find out the contents of the next letter that Juliet would send or receive!

This book focusses on a young journalist called Juliet Ashton, who,after the second world war is struggling with writer’s block. She receives a mysterious letter from a man, Dawsey Adams, who has come across a copy of a book she once owned. From there the conversation begins and the story really develops. I loved the way that on the one hand it was like reading someone’s personal diary, and on the other hand it taught me a great deal about the German occupation in Guernsey that I was previously unaware of.

The story is written in such a beautiful way that I found myself picking up clues about how events may unfold, and there were enough surprises in the book to maintain the momentum and interest of the story. It was just so lovely to read and I am very glad I read this before watching the film, which I am assured is equally as good.

As it was set in 1946 I find myself wondering what Juliet Ashton would be doing now, how her life would have panned out, and this is yet another book I have read where the characters have really felt like friends. Highly recommended.

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

This is the second book I have read by Sarah Morgan, the first being Holiday in the Hamptons, and it was really interesting to see how she had continued the theme of sisters, and the close and often complex relationship that forms and changes between siblings. I love the way that Sarah Morgan focuses on the little details of a person’s character or memory, often long forgotten moments, and brings them to the forefront of her exploration of families.

I absolutely adored The Christmas Sisters. From beginning to end I couldn’t wait to turn the page and I found myself thinking about the characters when I wasn’t reading the book, wondering what they would be doing…quite a few times I had to remind myself that they were not real people! That is how Sarah Morgan weaves her magic, she creates characters that are so likeable, real and relateable that they wind their way into your subconscious and end up feeling like old friends.

The story focuses on three sisters; Posy, Hannah and Beth. They have all taken different paths in life yet every Christmas they come together in Scotland, not always through their own choice. The story picks up when all three sisters appear to be at very different crossroads in their lives and they end up having to face some difficult truths, some uncomfortable conversations and some life shifting realisations.

Sarah Morgan writes in such a way that I really did feel this book was like a hug in a mug, ‘cosy’ was one way I described it when I was asked, and I mean this in an entirely positive manner. It is the perfect book to read with a warm blanket, hot cup of tea and a few hours of ‘me’ time.

My only regret is that it was not longer and I wish that there was a sequel, as I would love to know what the McBride sisters are up to now!

The book believer – the beginning.

Welcome to my blog. Here I will be posting reviews of books I have read – I aim to be completely honest and post reviews even of books that haven’t appealed to me, to show complete transparency.

I love reading. It really is that simple. I always have done and through my job as a teacher I aim to inspire young minds to love reading (and writing) too.

I hope that this blog will inspire people of all ages to get reading again, to pick up books, and to find themselves immersed in the incredible world of books.

I’m going to sign off with my favourite quote about reading:

“Everyone is a reader…..some just haven’t found their favourite book yet.”