Book Reviews: Shadows over Paradise, Summer Sisters and Christmas Knit Off

Shadows over Paradise by Isabel Wolff

Official BlurbJenni Clark is a ghostwriter. She loves to immerse herself in other people’s stories-a respite from her own life and from a relationship that appears to be nearing its end. Jenni’s latest assignment takes her to a coastal hamlet in England, where she has agreed to pen the memoir of an elderly farm owner named Klara. Jenni assumes the project will be easy: a quiet, ordinary tale of a life well lived. But Klara’s story is far from quiet. She recounts the tale of a family torn apart by World War II and of disgraceful acts committed against a community in the Japanese prison camps on the Pacific island paradise of Java. As harrowing details emerge and stunning truths come to light, Jenni is compelled to confront a secret she’s spent a lifetime burying. Weaving together the lives of two very different women, Isabel Wolff has created a captivating novel of love, loss, and hope that reaches across generations

My Take: 4,5 out of 5: I didn’t rally have many expectations coming into this book. I bought it without even reading the blurb because I’m a huge fan of Isabel Wolff and Vintage affair is a marvelous book. I was surprisingly engaged in this little gem of a book. Part historical fiction, part relationship drama, part self help it kind of embodies a lot of different genres (especially ones that I love) in a beautifully tied package. The Java story is wonderful as well as the modern day exploration of the main characters. It is a great vacation read, i devoured it in one day in the beach.

Summer Secrets by Jane Green

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Goodreads blurb: June, 1998: At twenty seven, Catherine Coombs, also known as Cat, is struggling. She lives in London, works as a journalist, and parties hard. Her lunchtimes consist of several glasses of wine at the bar downstairs in the office, her evenings much the same, swigging the free booze and eating the free food at a different launch or party every night. When she discovers the identity of the father she never knew she had, it sends her into a spiral. She makes mistakes that cost her the budding friendship of the only women who have ever welcomed her. And nothing is ever the same after that.

June, 2014: Cat has finally come to the end of herself. She no longer drinks. She wants to make amends to those she has hurt. Her quest takes her to Nantucket, to the gorgeous summer community where the women she once called family still live. Despite her sins, will they welcome her again? What Cat doesn’t realize is that these women, her real father’s daughters, have secrets of their own. As the past collides with the present, Cat must confront the darkest things in her own life and uncover the depths of someone’s need for revenge.

My Take 3.5 out of 5:  Not one of Jane Greens best, but definitely better than some of her latest. I actually found the story quite compelling, and heartwarming and an addictive read (ironic given how much the book deals with addiction)

The Great Christmas Knit – Off by Alexandra Brown

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Goodreads Blurb: The perfect seasonal tale of how laughter, friends and wacky Christmas jumpers can mend a broken heart. For fans of Trisha Ashley and Jenny Colgan.
Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century at work, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to the picturesque village of Tindledale.
There, Sybil discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, is struggling and now the shop is due for closure. And when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen…

My Take 3 out of 5: Alexandra Brown’s books, which I have read quite a few, are not literary masterpieces. You have to take them for what they are,frothy and easy to read cool chick lit books. In that category she is superb. Its a quick read, sweet and sentimental. As with her Christmas at Carringtons, I read this over the Christmas break and its just a great companion to the holiday season, making you feel all warm inside. As a side note, it made me think of the other wonderful knitting stories that I have love, especially the Friday Night Knitting Club, and made me think: why havent I taken up knitting? at least my cross point stitching is on point!

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