Book Review: Eloise by Judy Finnigan

EloiseWhat’s it about?

She was a daughter, a wife, a mother. She was my friend. But what secrets did Eloise take to her grave? After her best friend Eloise dies from breast cancer, Cathy is devastated. But then Cathy begins to have disturbing dreams that imply Eloise’s death was not all it seems. With a history of depression, Cathy is only just recovering from a nervous breakdown and her husband Chris, a psychiatrist, is acutely aware of his wife’s mental frailty. When Cathy tells Chris of her suspicions about Eloise’s death, as well as her ability to sense Eloise’s spirit, Chris thinks she is losing her grip on reality once again. Stung by her husband’s scepticism, Cathy decides to explore Eloise’s mysterious past, putting herself in danger as she finds herself drawn ever deeper into her friend’s great – and tragic – secret.

My thoughts

This is the debut novel from TV presenter and book club advocate Judy Finnigan. Having read the inspiration behind the story which explains that it was based on her friendship with TV presenter Caron Keating who died of breast cancer quite young, you can’t help hear Judy’s voice in Cathy and therefore Richard in Chris.

It’s an easy, enjoyable read and Judy’s obvious love of Cornwall, its countryside, views and heritage shows through in her writing. I love Cornwall myself but parts do read a bit like a travel guide.

I found that the plot moved a bit slowly for me, it takes chapters and chapters to learn what Eloise wants Cathy to know and to do but you do keep reading as you do get drawn in and want to find out what happens. This isn’t a full on scary ghost story, more a of a supernatural chiller (but in a fluffy way). I think it had the potential to be scarier if the author had wanted.

Cathy’s character comes across as quite weak and Chris, her husband is not one of the nicer characters, he’s quite condescending and patronising towards his wife and you will want to slap him on more than one occasion. Some parts feel a little repetitive when describing the love for the children, Eloise’s love and Juliana’s love – yes we do get it and understand! Oh and the bit in the garden with Ted and the shotgun – errrr wouldn’t normal people have called the police?….a little unbelievable!

I did pick up on a typo around page 330, or it may have been a missing word in a sentence and now I can’t find it again (very annoying and slack of me not to make a note at the time).

Don’t think I’ll be queuing up for book 2 but will probably pass this on to a friend for a beach/holiday read – one to leave behind once read though.

Overall an easy read. Read if you like sedate chillers/thrillers/ghost stories or a fan of Judy.

Available as paperback and Kindle version from Amazon Eloise

Book Review: The Death & Life of Charlie St Cloud by Ben Sherwood

What’s it about?

As a boy on the verge of adulthood, Charlie St Cloud narrowly survived a car crash that killed Sam, his little brother.

Years later, Charlie has taken a job tending the lawns and monuments of the cemetery in the pretty New England town where Sam is buried. Graced with an extraordinary gift after surviving the accident, Charlie can still see, talk to and even play ball with Sam’s spirit. But his single-minded devotion to his brother’s memory leaves his friends fearing that Charlie will never recover from his loss or embrace his future.

Then into his carefully ordered life comes Tess Carroll, a captivating, adventurous woman in training for a solo sailing trip around the globe. Charlie and Tess discover a beautiful and uncommon connection that, after a violent storm at sea, leads to a race against time, a charged encounter and a desperate choice between death and life, the past and the present, holding on and letting go.

My thoughts

I’d picked this to read as I’d recently watched the movie which I quite enjoyed. Normally, I’d have read the book first and then picked the movie to bits afterwards with all the changes and differences that tends to follow so this was a new experience for me 🙂

This is a charming, moving tear jerker of a book spanning the romance, fantasy and paranormal genres. Because of his near death experience Charlie is able to continue his relationship with Sam everyday at sundown and because of the deep bond between them neither brother wants to miss a day and let go. It’s a really nicely written story of love, friendship and hope with a good twist.

When Charlie meets Tess, it’s the first time Charlie considers missing his meeting with Sam, but then Sam and Tess meet and everything works out. Without wanting to give the twist away I was a bit unsure about the physical relationship between Charlie and Tess, it feels a little weird but you’ll have to read it or watch it to find out why. Suspend your disbelief…unless you believe in ghosts and the afterlife.

This is an easy read, however there were some words tucked in there that I’d never heard before, such as diaphanous, quietus and careening. Diaphanous sounds angelic and mysterious, I’m off to Google now.

There are a few differences between the book and the movie, in particular Charlie and Sam’s ages. Charlie and Sam not big boaters in the book yet in the movie they’re out winning a race in the opening scenes. Mum’s occupation is different and it’s Charlie’s car in the movie but ‘borrowed’ in the book. Not deal breaker changes but you do wonder why they producers/directors change things that already work…just saying…who am I?!

The Afterword by Florio and believing in miracles was a really touching finish. Read this if you like romantic stories with a twist, such as The Time Traveller’s Wife and anything by Nicholas Sparks 🙂

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Book Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

What’s it about?

Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral Mrs Alice Drablow, the sole inhabitant of Eel Marsh House, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows. The house stands at the end of a causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but it is not until he glimpses a wasted young woman, dressed all in black, at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black – and her terrible purpose.

My thoughts

I read this book quite a few months ago, around the time the Daniel Radcliffe movie was released, but as I wasn’t blogging then, here we are now. This was the first ghost story that I’d ever read and it doesn’t disappoint. This book was actually my choice for our monthly book club and I think it gave some members nightmares!

I didn’t know the story, didn’t know the author and hadn’t seen any movie trailers so had no preconceptions of what the book was about (other than a haunting)  or what happens. It’s quite a short book, only 160 pages which you can get through in no time at all as you won’t be able to put it down.

I felt that the story was well set up with Arthur writing the experience first hand as a memoir, scenes are easily visualised without being over descriptive and boring.

I think that it is well written and I did feel that the characters were totally believable and it’s very easy to sympathise with Arthur. Personally, I didn’t find it that scary but more creepy. Yes, the idea is incredibly scary and this does transport well onto screen but I think it’s harder to create that atmosphere in a book. The movie is very dark and of course the music helps to scare you out of your wits.

I think Daniel Radcliffe was miscast as Arthur, I don’t think he’s old enough and I don’t understand why the movie producers decided to the change the ending. The ending in the book is so much better and really adds to the idea of Jennet taking revenge on Arthur after a period of time when she may have been forgotten (if possible!). I do wonder how Alice managed to live in that house as long as she did…

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