Book News

NK Chats To… Riley Sager

pseudonymHi Riley. Thank you for joining me today. Your new book is called Last Time I Lied and was released in the UK on 10th July by Ebury Publishing. Can you tell me about it? 

LAST TIME I LIED is about an artist named Emma who went to a fancy all-girl’s camp when she was 13 and watched her three cabinmates leave in the middle of the night. They never returned.

Fifteen years later, she returns to that same camp as a painting instructor, hoping to learn more about what happened to her friends. Nothing goes according to plan. I think of it as my version of “Picnic at Hanging Rock.”

 

What’s your writing process like from idea, to planning, to writing and finally editing?

For me, it varies from book to book. FINAL GIRLS, for example, was a bolt of lightning. From writing to revising to finding it a good home, everything about that book was fast. I’m usually much slower. Once I get an idea, I spend a lot of time thinking, taking notes and trying to figure out how to turn it into a book.

LAST TIME I LIED took twice as long to write because I still didn’t quite know what to do with it even after I started written. Like some of the characters in the book, I spent a lot of time lost in the woods, trying to find my way out.

 

What advice do you have for when you’ve finished your book and want to try and get it published? 

The act of trying to get a book published can be so difficult that it’s easy to overlook the obvious—You’ve written a book! It’s such a huge accomplishment that quickly gets overshadowed by the rest of it. So I advise writers to remember to pat themselves on the back.

There’s a lot of negative involved in trying to get a book published. Rejections come fast and furious. At least they did for me. And I wish I had taken the time to be more proud of what I’d already accomplished instead of agonizing over what I had yet to accomplish.

 

Which fictional character would you like to meet and why? 

Mary Poppins. She’d fly in, we’d go on a grand adventure and when it’s over I’ll hopefully have learned an important life lesson or two.

 

Do you have advice for someone who may be experiencing writer’s block?

I find reading helps. Just pick up a book, open it and start reading. If it’s good, you’ll be inspired to be just as good. But I’ve found it’s more helpful if the book is bad. Because I can tell myself, “If this dreck can get published, then what I’m doing also has a fair shot of making it!”

 

What are you currently working on? 

I can’t say very much. It’s still a work in progress and I’m still trying to figure it out. But it features a very ornate, very famous apartment building in New York City where horrible things happen.

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Book Review: The Letter – Kitty’s Story by Eliza J. Scott

F17B7F1A-9233-44AF-81E4-39F3C1BF8024Thirty-four-year-old Kitty Bennett is trapped in a loveless marriage to criminal barrister, Dan, who’s gradually isolated her from her family and friends. Until the day she (literally) bumps into her first love, the handsome and easy-going Ollie Cartwright – someone she’s done her best to avoid for as long as she can remember.

Looking into Ollie’s eyes awakens feelings for him she thought she’d buried deep years ago, and he clearly feels the spark, too. As she walks away, Kitty can’t help but wonder what might have been…

Dan senses that his marriage is on shaky ground and knows he needs to win his wife round. He turns on the charm, skilfully using their two children, Lucas and Lily, as bargaining tools. But Kitty’s older brother, Jimby, and her childhood best-friends, Molly and Violet, have decided enough is enough. For years they’ve had to watch from afar as Kitty’s been browbeaten into an unrecognisable version of herself. They vow to make her see Dan for what he really is, but their attempts are no match for his finely-honed courtroom skills and, against her better judgement,

Kitty agrees to give her husband one last chance. But, all-too-soon, a series of heart-breaking events and a shocking secret throw her life into turmoil…
Will she stand by Dan, or will Kitty be brave enough to take the leap and follow her heart to Ollie?

Life is anything but peaceful in the chocolate-box pretty village of Lytell Stangdale, where life unravels, and hearts are broken. Full of heart-warming moments, this book with have you crying tears of joy, laughter and sadness.

When Kitty first meets Dan, he is charming, attentive and loving. It’s not long before she is won over and they are married. Kitty’s family is not so convinced about Dan and try to warn her to be careful. Ollie is also heartbroken. He’s in love with Kitty and tries hard to move on but is always in the background of Kitty’s life.

Dan and Kitty have now been married for a few years. Dan is dominating and mostly absent from the family home. When he is there, he is emotionally abusive. This is where we find Kitty at the beginning of the novel.

Kitty, despite having the outwardly appearance of having the perfect life is in fact living quite a tragic one. I was torn between wanting to step into the novel to give her a hug and to firmly tell her to leave Dan behind.
Without giving too much away, something definitely shifts for Kitty throughout this book.

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NK Chats to… Elaine Roberts

Roberts_Elaine original_previewWelcome Elaine. Your new novel is called The Foyles Bookshop Girls. Can you tell me a bit about it?

It begins in 1914 when the threat of war with Germany hangs over the country.

There’s a strong bond between Alice, Victoria, and Molly, which stems back to their childhood, and continues as they work together in Foyles Bookshop.

When Alice’s underage brother, Charles, joins up, her boyfriend, Freddie, consoles her. He declares his love and wants to marry at the earliest opportunity, but her excitement is ripped away when he admits to signing up and leaves the following day.

The girls pull together and their friendship helps them to survive the trials and tribulations that lay ahead of them.

 

What are the challenges with writing a historical novel? What was your planning process like?

One of the biggest challenges is the research. It is easy to get lost in the events. At one point I had so much information, I had to remind myself I wasn’t writing a World War One book. This is inextricably linked to not wanting to let the reader down.

After all my research is done, I construct a historical timeline of events. This will be the basis of my story. My characters lives, and things that happen to them, are woven around, or into, the historical setting.

In The Foyles Bookshop Girls, I had three timelines – the historical facts of the war, the history of Foyles and my characters’ lives. All the information is put on to a spreadsheet in chronological order. The skeleton of my story is there, so that leaves the task of adding the detail, and that’s when I become creative.

 

What was it that drew you to the historical setting and why Foyles?

My setting evolved. Alice’s mother was originally a young girl in a Victorian novel I had written, but I was advised by an industry professional that this period wasn’t popular unless you were an already established author, which I obviously wasn’t. Someone close to me suggested I move my characters forward in time, so I started looking at events in history.

I have a love of books, so I was playing with the idea of having my main male character working in, or owning, a bookshop.

 

What is your typical writing day like? Do you have any rituals or habits?

I have a system of working. I try to write every day, even if it’s only a few hundred words, and my best creative time is first thing in the morning. I’m often answering emails and on social media on my phone by about six in the morning. That’s the time I used to get up for work and I can’t seem to get out of the habit of waking up early.

I’m sitting at my desk by nine every morning, often accompanied by two cats that like to get into and sit on all of my paperwork. I don’t leave my office, apart from twenty minutes at lunchtime, until three in the afternoon, unless a visitor arrives. It sounds hard work doesn’t it, but in those six hours, I do spend time gazing down my garden, looking for inspiration, stroking and taking photos of the cats. I’m quite fortunate that my husband keeps me fed and watered.

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NK Chats To… Rosie Clarke

rosie clarkeYour latest novel is called Mulberry Lane Babies. Can you tell me a bit about it and what has changed for your characters since the last novel?

New characters and new loves bring changes. Peggy’s husband returns to the lanes and she finds it difficult after being in sole charge of the pub. Janet has to come to terms with her life, and Maureen is busier than ever. They have heard of the new flying bombs the Germans have invented but as yet they have not struck.

However, life is hard enough for the residents. Maureen is the character who has the most to bear in this book. Her motivation is to succeed and hold her family’s business together while looking after her children and her husband. Janet also has too much pain to carry but will eventually move on and Peggy is caught in a dilemma but there is hope that she will be happy one day.

 

What are the challenges with writing a series of books?

Making sure that you get the continuity right and don’t bring in a character that was written out without having a good reason. You need to keep the characters true but they also need to grow and develop, because otherwise they become stale. Also, you need to bring in new characters but still carry on the threads of the earlier books. Most difficult of all is deciding how much of the previous book to retell. Just a hint here and there is probably best, but some readers want to be reminded and others don’t.

 

What was it that drew you to the historical setting? What was the planning process like?

I like the period of the Second World War, because it was poignant and tragic and I know it well. It is also very popular with readers who cannot get enough of it. First of all, you plan your main characters and the setting for their lives and then just decide how they will unfold.

 

What is your typical writing day like? Do you have any rituals or habits?

I write every morning on a laptop. Sometimes I revise in the afternoons. I used to write all day but I find that the morning is when the best ideas come and work done in the afternoon can be laboured. No, I don’t have rituals. I just get on and write.

 

Which song would best describe you and why?

I don’t think I could name a song that describes me. I like country music as well as ballads.

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Blog Tour: One Summer in Italy by Sue Moorcroft

one summer in italyA lovely big welcome to Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her latest novel, One Summer in Italy. 

When Sofia Bianchi’s father Aldo dies, it makes her stop and look at things afresh. Having been his carer for so many years, she knows it’s time for her to live her own life – and to fulfil some promises she made to Aldo in his final days.

So there’s nothing for it but to escape to Italy’s Umbrian mountains where, tucked away in a sleepy Italian village, lie plenty of family secrets waiting to be discovered. There, Sofia also finds Amy who is desperately trying to find her way in life after discovering her dad isn’t her biological father.

Sofia sets about helping Amy through this difficult time, but it’s the handsome Levi who proves to be the biggest distraction for Sofia, as her new life starts to take off…

 

Mick Arnold has reviewed the novel, plus Sue has shared a recipe but first, an extract..

*** start of extract***

The next day, Sofia set out down the hill to visit Gianni at Hotel Alba, butterflies doing aerobics in her stomach and Via Virgilio’s crawling traffic loud in her ear. Her thoughts were on what lay ahead – getting to know her uncle’s family. Her family, in fact.

1D420D12-02B0-4A15-8790-97E4C3D82D76At the beginning of her journey she could see Hotel Alba on the facing slope but it was hidden from her view by a multitude of other buildings as she got down into the centre of Montelibertà. Traversing both Piazza Roma and Piazza Santa Lucia, busy with tourists and loud with as many English and American voices as Italian, she followed the route she’d memorised up Corso Musica, a street that, once past the theatre with a sort of bandstand outside, quickly narrowed. It wasn’t until she branched into Corso Sant’Angelo and rounded a sharp bend that Hotel Alba popped into view again.

Sofia paused to drink it in. Tall and white with the ubiquitous terracotta tiled roof, it was probably twice the size and twice the age of Casa Felice, and looked as if it was a cut above. Stonework framed the windows and arched like eyebrows over the doorways. Imposing urns set at intervals around the building were extravagantly planted with red, white and purple petunias. The road and pavement leading up to the hotel were cobbled, and the main doors stood welcomingly ajar.

Subduing an urge to retreat, if only to the nearest large window to check her appearance after a twenty-minute walk, Sofia strolled through the imposing doors, hoping her attack of nerves didn’t show. In the vaulted reception area, the ceiling was hung with impressive glass chandeliers. Walls and ceilings were painted white but the floor was glossy black marble, and the sofas dotted about were black too. Bureaus and side tables were painted a dull pewter. Paintings depicting busy market places and teeming cafés dotted the walls, bold splashes of colour standing out against the otherwise monochrome elegance.

Several guests sat around with either phones or tablets in their hands. Sofia guessed that the best free wifi was in this area.

***end of extract***

 

Sofia’s Lasagne

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June’s Novel Kicks Book Club: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Eligible Curtis sittenfeld

Borough Press, 2016

June is here. Was May a long month or was it just me? 

With June comes exceptional weather (so far) and the official longest day. I am loving the lighter evenings and more excuses to curl up in the sunshine with a book.

This month’s title is a modern reworking of Pride & Prejudice.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. 

About the novel…

As usual, I have posted a question to get the discussion going and the great thing about our book club is that anyone can take part and being online, you can do so from the comfort of your own armchair/lounger/bed. 

For sisters Liz and Jane, coming home to suburban Cincinnati means being paraded at the Lucas family’s BBQ, where burgers are served alongside the eligible men.

But it’s difficult to focus on re-booting their love lives when the family’s mock-Tudor house starts to crumble around them.

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Book Review: Shelter by Sarah Franklin

ShelterI am pleased to be welcoming Sarah Franklin to the blog today and the tour for her debut novel, Shelter. 

Early spring 1944.

Connie Granger has escaped her bombed-out city home, finding refuge in the Women’s Timber Corps. For her, this remote community must now serve a secret purpose.

Seppe, an Italian prisoner of war, is haunted by his memories. In the forest camp, he finds a strange kind of freedom.

Their meeting signals new beginnings. But as they are drawn together, the world outside their forest haven is being torn apart. Old certainties are crumbling, and both must now make a life-defining choice.

What price will they pay for freedom? What will they fight to protect?

 

Shelter is a story about WWII told from a unique point of view.

Connie has found herself in the Forest of Dean in the middle of the Second World War. She is training to be a lumberjill. To begin with, she is there to escape things from her past but she also comes to find some solace in the trees.

Seppe is a POW from Italy who has been brought to a camp on the edge of the forest. He doesn’t share some of the views of his fellow prisoners and this doesn’t make him very popular.

It’s not long before Connie and Seppe’s paths cross and something begins to happen that neither of them were expecting.

From the first page, I loved Connie. She has something about her that is very likeable. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind but she’s not cruel. It’s clear she has things she is hiding/escaping from and as these are revealed through the book, it’s not difficult to feel empathy for her.

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Book Review: The Forever Night Stand by Bena Roberts

Paperback-forevernightstand

Happy Bank Holiday everyone. A big hello to Bena Roberts and the blog tour for her novella, The Forever Night Stand. 

Sara has her back up against the wall. She is recovering from the side effects of chemotherapy and at her own “cancer free” party, she makes a decision that will change her life forever.

The adventure begins when she leaves her posh lifestyle in Scotland and moves in with her Bollywood loving parents, in West London. Her parents are tragically ashamed of Sara’s actions and her electronic monitor. She decides to make them happy again and considers re-marrying.

Enter Raj, a possible hero who comes with the promise of a huge Indian wedding in Goa!

George, the childhood love of her life who seems to be hanging around every corner. Or should she just go back to her husband? Sara faces the biggest dilemma of her life, after making the colossal mistake of her life. What will she do and whom will she choose?

 

My verdict: 

The Forever Night Stand is told from the point of view of Sara and George.

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Extract: Shaken and Stirred by Bella Osborne

shaken and stirredHello to Bella Osborne who is returning  with the blog tour for Ottercombe Bay: Shaken and Stirred.

Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.

With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?

To celebrate the release of Ottercombe Bay Part Four: Shaken and Stirred, Bella and Avon have shared an extract. Enjoy. 

 

**** Start of Extract.****

The warm spring weather had brought the trees to life, the seagulls were back in full chorus and as the holidaymakers returned the sleepy town was waking up. Daisy needed it to be a good season.

Locos was busy because Easter was fast approaching, the celebrations for which appeared to start early thanks to Daisy’s Singapore Sling cocktail promotion, and she was rushed off her feet.

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Book Review: Decide To Hope by June A. Converse

EBOOK COVERHello and welcome to the blog tour for Decide to Hope which is the new novel from June A. Converse. 

An unimaginable trauma. A future that seems impossible. When your world shatters, how do you put it back together?

For 950 days, Kathleen Conners has struggled with that choice. Behind a scarf and sunglasses, she hides from the world, from herself, from The Event, from any future with anyone.

After receiving a box of letters from his deceased mother, Matt Nelson is shoved from his predictable, controlled life to a secluded beach in North Carolina. While trying to understand his mother’s intent, he discovers Kathleen.

Matt must choose whether to follow the path his mother orchestrated or rescue the woman who has captured his heart. When the only person Kathleen blames more than herself reappears, can Matt be the strength Kathleen needs to create a new life, or will he be forced to walk away if she decides the climb is too great?

Decide to Hope Blog Tour Poster (1)

 

 My verdict: 

Kathleen is the survivor of something she calls ‘the event.’ She barely speaks and her days are spent in a very structured way.

Matt on the other hand is a very overworked tax attorney who doesn’t know when to switch off. He is forced into having a vacation through letters from his mother who has not long passed away.

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Blog Tour: Giveaway and Review of Gravity Well by Melanie Joosten

gravitywellcoverA lovely welcome to the blog today for Melanie Joosten and the tour for her new novel, Gravity Well which was released by Scribe on 10th May 2018. 

Thanks to Scribe and Melanie, I have two copies of Gravity Well to give away. 

If families are like solar systems ― bodies that orbit in time around one another, sometimes close and sometimes far away ― what is the force that moves them? And what are the consequences when one planet tugs others off course?

Lotte is an astronomer who spends her nights peering into deep space rather than looking too closely at herself. Returning to her hometown after years abroad, and reeling from a devastating diagnosis, she finds that much has changed. Lotte’s father has remarried, and she’s estranged from her former best friend, Eve. Initially, Lotte’s return causes disharmony, but then it is the catalyst for a much more devastating event ― an event that will change Lotte and Eve’s lives forever.

How to enter: THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.

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Upcoming Books Releases: May

the burning chambersHello May. 

I am not entirely sure how we’re already in May. The weather doesn’t help. It’s very confused right. To help escape this weather or enjoy basking in the sunshine (I can hope,) the list below is a few of the new releases coming this month.

 

The first book I want to feature is The Burning Chambers which is the new book from Kate Mosse. I haven’t read any of her books (and I am not sure why,) but this book is a great reason to start. 

Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.

But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.

Toulouse: As the religious divide deepens in the Midi, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as sectarian tensions ignite across the city, the battle-lines are drawn in blood and the conspiracy darkens further.

Meanwhile, as a long-hidden document threatens to resurface, the mistress of Puivert is obsessed with uncovering its secret and strengthening her power . . .

(Released 3rd May by Mantle.) 

 

the castThe second upcoming release on my list is The Cast by Danielle Steel. It is due to be released by Macmillan on 31st May. 

Kait Whittier has built her magazine column into a hugely respected read followed by fans across the country. She loves her work and adores her grown children, treasuring the time they spend together. But after two marriages, she prefers to avoid the complications and uncertainties of a new love.

Then, after a chance meeting with television producer Zack Winter, everything changes. Inspired by the true story of her own grandmother, Kait creates the storyline for a TV series. Within weeks, Kait is plunged into a colourful, star-studded world of actors and industry pros who will bring her vision to life, from the reclusive grand dame to LA’s hottest bad boy actor.

As secrets are shared and revelations come to light, friendships deepen. But in the midst of this charmed year, Kait is forced to confront the greatest challenge a mother could ever know and this unforgettable cast becomes more important to her than she ever could have imagined.

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NK Chats To… Catherine Ferguson

CatherineHi Catherine, it’s lovely to welcome you and the blog tour for your new book Love Among The Treetops to Novel Kicks today. What is your typical day as a writer?

I work best in the early mornings, so I like to reach for my laptop (and lots of tea) almost as soon as I wake up. On a good day, I’ll write five hundred words before breakfast, and to make it easier to face that blank page every day, I like to make rough notes on the next part of my story the night before. I usually write between 500 – 1500 words a day and I aim to finish by ‘lunch-time’, which can be anything from midday to mid-afternoon! By then, I find all the emotion of living the story with my characters has taken a bit of a toll on my energy levels. (I’m always amazed by how exhausting it can be, writing on emotional subjects – particularly when your main character has hit rock bottom. You feel all the see-saw emotions she’s going through and it’s almost as if you’ve been through it yourself.)

 

What inspired Love Among the Treetops?

I live near a place called Alnwick Garden in Northumberland. It’s incredibly magical and they have a beautiful restaurant in a fairytale tree house. I wanted an unusual setting for my café in this book, and I suddenly thought what a romantic setting a tree house would be!

 

How do you pick your names in a novel?

For my heroine, I like to choose a name that really appeals to me – and if it can be that little bit different (therefore memorable), then so much the better. Sometimes the name just slots into my head when I’m dreaming up the character. It just seems to fit. And that’s what happened when I was imagining my main character in Love Among the Treetops. The name ‘Twilight’ came to me and it was perfect!

 

Is plot or character more important?

With me, what tends to happen is I have a basic idea at the start of what’s going to happen in my book and a rough idea of my main character’s personality. So at that point they’re equally important. But then I think character takes over and to some extent dictates the way the story progresses. Once I’m immersed in seeing things through the eyes of my heroine, surprising plot twists seem to happen. That’s why I never start out with a plot that’s set in stone because it always changes – I have to obey my main character!

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Book Review: The House of Hopes and Dreams by Trisha Ashley

46609AD3-25CC-48D2-BEE5-592DE50F425BIt’s Sunday. It’s snowing. Therefore it’s the perfect time to snuggle up with a Trisha Ashley novel and it’s lovely to welcome Trisha and the blog tour for her latest book, The House of Hopes and Dreams to Novel Kicks today. 

When Carey Revell unexpectedly becomes the heir to Mossby, his family’s ancestral home, it’s rather a mixed blessing. The house is large but rundown and comes with a pair of resentful relatives who can’t be asked to leave.
Still, newly dumped by his girlfriend and also from his job as a TV interior designer, Carey needs somewhere to lick his wounds. And Mossby would be perfect for a renovation show. He already knows someone who could restore the stained glass windows in the older part of the house…

Angel Arrowsmith has spent the last ten years happily working and living with her artist mentor and partner. But suddenly bereaved, she finds herself heartbroken, without a home or a livelihood. Life will never be the same again – until old friend Carey Revell comes to the rescue.

They move in to Mossby with high hopes. But the house has a secret at its heart: an old legend concerning one of the famous windows. Will all their dreams for happiness be shattered? Or can Carey and Angel find a way to make this house a home?

 

As a long time follower of Trisha’s novels, I was delighted to receive a copy of her new novel from the publisher. I had intended taking my time, rationing myself, savouring each page so the experience would take a week or so, so much for good intentions as I started this on a Friday and was finished on Sunday evening.

What to tell you about the story? Well, as little as I can get away with, as I don’t like giving away too much.

Angel Arrowsmith’s life is thrown into confusion by the sudden death of her partner, causing her to lose her home and livelihood. Her best friend Carey Revell is recovering from a bad accident that lost him his job when he is bequeathed a slightly run down ancestral home.

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Book Review: Ivy & Abe by Elizabeth Enfield

Ivy & AbeIvy and Abe were inseparable as children until an accident tore them apart. Several decades later, when both are in their seventies, a chance encounter reunites them. But time is not on their side.

What if they’d met in a different time and place?

In another life, Ivy and Abe meet in their forties, when both are married already. Unable to resist the attraction between them, they embark on a passionate affair.

In yet another, they marry young, with a bright future ahead of them – only for a dark shadow to threaten their happiness.

Throughout various incarnations of their lives, they come together and go their separate ways, fall in and out of love, make or break promises.

In every universe, Ivy and Abe are meant to meet. But are they meant to be?

Ivy & Abe is the story of this couple who can only be described as soul mates. This book focuses on these people in a series of parallel universes. At the beginning of the book, they are in their seventies having not seen one another since children. In another, they are married with children whilst in another they barely meet for five minutes.

In each one, it was interesting for me to see how they interact with one another and how there are common themes and events that tie these universes together. How, in whatever version, certain things will happen regardless of what comes before and after.

Also, it was compelling how two people who are so destined to be together are capable of hurting one another so much. This was a bittersweet aspect. Continue reading

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