Blog tour: The Confectioner’s Tale by Laura Madeleine

Title: The Confectioner’s Tale
Author: Laura Madeleine
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review
Genre: Adult
Publisher: Black Swan
Release date: 23rd April 2015

It’s 1909 and Guillerme du Frere is about to start his new life working on the railways of Paris. He leaves his family in Bordeaux to do better for himself but he never imagined the life he was about to find. 

In 1988 Petra Stevenson is struggling with her PHD thesis but when a photo of is found in her late grandfather’s possessions with the words ‘forgive me’ and ‘Clermont’ written on the back. Instead of writing her thesis, Petra is determined to find out what her grandfather did. 

Review
It’s no secret that I’m a bit obsessed with books set in Paris so I jumped at the chance when I was offered The Confectioner’s Tale for review. 

The Confectioner’s Tale alternated between two different time lines, one set in 1909 and one set in 1988. In 1909 Guillerme du Frere is embarking on a new adventure while in 1988 Petra Stevenson is determined to uncover a family secret. The two times are very different but the story is weaved together perfectly. 

Within moments of arriving in Paris, Guillerme’s life is changed completely. In the busy station he accidentally knocks into a beautiful woman with amazing blue eyes. Before he knows it though he’s up on his feet and whisked off to start his new job working on the railway. When his first pay check arrives, Guillerme and his friends go for a night on the town which unexpectedly leads him straight back to the beautiful woman at the Patisserie Clermont. From here, Guillerme’s life in Paris changes once again and a love affair begins. 

Laura Madeleine’s descriptions of Paris are absolutely magical. As a working man Guillerme does not live a glamourous life but Madeleine makes his life seem like one big adventure which had me hooked. There is a wonderful mix of the working class and wealthy families of Paris. At times we get dirty, dusty streets where men work and then we also get Patisserie Clermont which is completely different. Having been to Paris myself I could imagine what certain places were like.  I was glad that the book started with Guillerme in 1909 rather than Petra in 1988 because it really got me gripped to the story. 

We then have Petra Stevenson’s part of the story which is set in 1988. A biography is being written about her late grandfather and she finds a mysterious photo with only the words ‘forgive me’ and ‘Clermont’ written on the back. Petra and her grandfather were really close so she has no idea what he could have been asking forgiveness for. The secret takes over her life really and she pushes aside her PHD work in order to find out more about the photo. I have to be honest and as much as I liked reading about how Petra and her research, I did prefer reading about 1909 more. It wasn’t that this part of the story was bad in any way, I just felt like Paris had more magic about it. 

The Confectioner’s Tale is a book with so much mystery, intrigue and excitement and Laura Madeleine has written it exceptionally well. 

Be sure to check out the other posts on the blog tour which you can see below!


Chick-Lit review: It’s Not Me, It’s You by Mhairi McFarlane

Title: It’s Not Me, It’s You
Author: Mhairi McFarlane
Series: N/A
Acquired: Gifted
Genre: Adult – Chick Lit
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release date: 6th November 2014

Delia Moss is pretty content with her not exciting life. She lives with her long term boyfriend, rescue dog and works in a job that is just okay. There’s nothing special about her life and she’s okay with that. When Delia proposes to her boyfriend and finds out he’s actually been cheating on her, she thinks it was all her fault. 

With a massive change and an exciting adventure for someone with no desire for either of those things, Delia begins to wonder if anything was actually her fault. Maybe it was his all along. 

Review
The wonderful Kirsty at The Overflowing Library bought me this one for Christmas last year but it took me a little while to get around to reading it. I had a massive pile of books from my husband I was desperate to read so this one was a bit down the TBR pile. 

I have to be honest and say that this really took some getting in to. For a good chunk of this book I was debating giving up on it. It wasn’t that the story wasn’t good or funny, because it was, it just took a bit of time to really get into the plot. 

Protagonist Delia doesn’t mind that she has a pretty normal life. She goes to work, goes home to her boyfriend and her dog and she quite likes her life. There’s nothing exciting or special about it but she’s happy so that’s all that matters. But, on the day she proposes to her boyfriend and finds out he’s been cheating on her, she blames herself and thinks maybe she’s too boring. I felt for Deliah, I really did because she thought she knew what she was getting out of like and then her proposal went horribly wrong. 

Delia doesn’t want to stick around in Newcastle where she has a constant reminder of her cheating boyfriend so she heads to London to live with her best friend and try something completely new and different. It’s not like Delia at all and I loved the chance she took. I did exactly the same thing when I broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years when I was 20 although I moved to Toronto, not London. 

Delia’s adventures in London are hilarious. She has no idea what she’s doing in her new job, she’s scared she’ll mess everything up but she is also brave with her decisions. She’s also really quirky and fun and I loved that about her. She was far from boring and always up for some fun and banter which mostly what made this such a fun read. I found myself really laughing as I was reading and my husband looked at me like I was insane a few times. There was times where I really could have high fived Delia throughout this book because really, the things she did were pretty amazing. 

Mhairi McFarlane writes such likable characters whom you can relate to. Delia especially is so down to earth and I felt like I’d been in her situation before. Starting over is not easy and she did the best with the situation she was in. Not only did I love Delia but her friends were great and so were the male characters. Strangely, I even quite liked Paul who was the cheating boyfriend. I don’t know why I liked him after what he did but he was just a likable kind of guy. 

This book is really 531 pages of complete fun. Yes, it took me a little while to get in to but I’m so glad I didn’t give up on it. It’s Not Me, It’s You is by far the funniest book I’ve read this year and I would love to read more from this author now. 

It Felt Like a Kiss by Sarra Manning

About the book
It Felt Like A Kiss is a contemporary novel by Sarra Manning. The book was published by Corgi on 13th February and it is 576 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC for review.
Plot Synopsis
Ellie Cohen has a pretty good life. She works in a lovely Mayfair art gallery, has great mates and a fantastic family. Problem is, she has a tendency to fall for the totally wrong guy. She believes she can fix their problems but her friends see them for what they really are – losers!
When a vengeful ex sells Ellie’s biggest secret to the press, her whole world turns upside down. Her life falls to pieces around her and she has no idea how to make things better again. David Gold, lawyer, is there to sort it all out for her… but only because he works for her secret, famous father. David immediately thinks that Ellie is a gold-digger, wanting a piece of her father’s fame but she thinks he’s a shark in a nice suit.
With her life in a mess, surely falling in love again is the last thing she Ellie needs.
What I thought
While a fan of Sarra Manning’s young adult novels but this is the first of her adult novels that I have read.
Manning begins by letting the reader really get to know protagonist Ellie. We learn that she is a bit of a party girl, falls for the wrong guys that her flatmates hate but she also has a family that she’s really close to. Immediately, I could imagine the kind of woman that Ellie was and I could picture her doing certain things like going for a night out. Manning has a great way of writing her characters and there is always so much development written into the story as well.
Unfortunately for Ellie, she has picked the wrong man… again and after a break-up, he steals evidence from Ellie and sells her story to the press. Ellie actually has a pretty famous father but she has never spoken to him. While she knows who he is, she has never wanted anything much to do with him. So, when the press come knocking on her door, everyone instantly believes her to be a gold-digger, including her dad’s lawyer. As mean as it may sound, I did enjoy watching Ellie struggle with what was happening around her. Not because I’m cold-hearted, but it really showed how strong she could be at times.
While the majority of the plot was enjoyable, the book does have a long, drawn out beginning. There were a few times where I wanted to give up because I was quickly losing interest. It takes roughly a third of the book before all of the exciting things happen. While I liked getting to know Ellie and her life, I think this aspect of the book could have been shortened a little so that the plot could move on. However, once Ellie and David are forced to spend more time together, I decided that it was worth carrying on to see what happens.
Ellie and David are completely different people and that’s why they were so great together. David is so straight-laced and concentrates only on his job while Ellie knows how to get the most out of working and having a social life. I really enjoyed seeing these two characters together and seeing how they challenged each other. Due to something that happens quite early on in the book, there is a great amount of chemistry between them which was a huge bonus.
What was also nice about this book was that it wasn’t just about the romance. There is a solid, entertaining plot running throughout the book and the romance aspect was really just a nice bonus. Compared with contemporary young adult books, where romance normally takes the forefront, it was nice to have quite a few things going and not to be bombarded with multiple kissing scenes.
Even though it took me a few goes to get into this book, I really did enjoy it in the end.

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning

About the book
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is a contemporary adult novel by Sarra Manning. The book was published by Corgi on 3rd February 2011 and it is 560 pages long.
Synopsis
Since university, Neve Slater has been in love with William. But, William is in LA and Neve has next to no self-esteem. As a larger lady she believes that she could never get a guy like William so she’s spent the last three years slimming down and changing herself. Now she’s changed, she can’t wait for the day that William returns and falls madly in love with her. Only problem is, she’s never had a boyfriend and needs to learn about having one… fast.
Neve needs someone to show her what being in a relationship is all about and she needs some experience with men in general. Max is a well-known player from Neve’s sister’s office and he’s sexy as hell. Neve knows that she could never fall in love with someone like Max so he should be the perfect person to show her what to do with a man!

What I thought
Sarra Manning, one of my favourite authors of young adult fiction also writes adult novels although I have never really gotten into them until recently.
At the beginning of the book, Neve is getting herself ready for distant love William’s return to the UK. He’s been off in LA for the past three years and she’s been spending that time reinventing herself by slimming down so that he will fall in love with her. Poor Neve has never really had any confidence due to being overweight for the most of her life so she hasn’t gone out there and had any experience with men. I instantly loved Neve. I’m not the slimmest of women and I could connect with her immediately. There have been times where I haven’t felt the most attractive and I have put myself down a lot in the past.
Neve constantly put herself down throughout the whole book and by the way she spoke about herself, you would have thought that she was massive. Maybe she had been at one point but she also works with a personal trainer the whole time and is extremely careful about what she eats. It turns out that Neve is actually a smaller size than she thinks of herself as and this also shows how much pressure society can put on someone. Neve saw herself as something completely different than how other people saw her.
Just like Neve, I also loved the whole premise of the story. Neve needs a man to show her certain things and for her to practise on. Max is someone Neve meets through her sister Celia at a work party. He’s incredibly good looking and he knows it but he shows an interest in Neve and they end up going home together. However, this really doesn’t work out as he had planned and Neve feels so embarrassed. As she tries to apologise, and explains her situation with William, Max becomes even more interested and offers to become her ‘pancake boyfriend’ (you’ll have to read the book to find out what that means).
As the two get to know each other better, the book just gets funnier and funnier. Max lives a completely different lifestyle to Neve and this introduces her to a whole new way of living. Max takes her out to swanky parties and work dos and even a WAG wedding at one point and the situations they get in are hilarious. It was also super sweet watching them get to know each other better. Max doesn’t do girlfriends and Neve hasn’t had a boyfriend so their whole situation is a big learning curve for the both of them.

Not only is this one of my favourite adult books by Sarra Manning but one of my favourite books of hers altogether. It’s sweet, funny and romantic all at the same time. It has everything I could want in a book. 

Christmas at Carrington’s by Alexandra Brown

About the book
Christmas at Carrington’s is the follow up book to Cupcakes at Carrington’s by Alexandra Brown. The book was published by Harper on 5th December and it is 384 pages long. I received and ebook for review through NetGalley.
Synopsis
Georgie Hart runs the Women’s Accessory section in Carrington’s department store in Mulberry-On-Sea. She’s your average woman, a size 14 with a brunette bob and she absolutely loves Christmas. She’s also kind of secretly seeing the boss, Mr Tom Carrington himself. Life couldn’t be better for Georgie.
When Georgie finds out about Tom’s surprise though, she is not happy. Carrington’s is going to be part of a nationwide television show featuring retail guru Kelly Cooper who promises to revitalise the Carrington name. Georgie isn’t impressed with being on television without her permission, especially as she made a fool out of herself. Not only that but Kelly’s daughter seems to want Tom for herself and Georgie knows she can’t complete with someone like her.
Will Christmas at Carrington’s be a disaster or will there be some magical surprises along the way?
What I thought
I have to start by saying that I haven’t read the first book in this series but both can be read as stand-alone books.
Carrington’s is a large department store in Mulberry-On-Sea and the series focuses on different people working in that store. The whole idea of Carrington’s reminded me of a not so expensive Harrods but with the dreams to be as big as somewhere like that. This book focuses on Georgie Hart who works in women’s accessories. I gather from some things that happen in this book that she was also in the first as well. The staff there seem to have a really nice family feeling going on and everyone gets along well… to begin with.
You see, big boss Mr Carrington secretly makes a deal to have Carrington’s take part in a reality TV show where the store will get a massive make over by Kelly Cooper. Georgie doesn’t know anything about it even though she’s seeing Tom and is mortified when she sees herself on television for the first time. She wants nothing to do with the show until she’s talked into it with the promise of extra money per show and the opportunity for a make-over and the chance to write in a magazine. As shallow as it sounds, Georgie figures she’s going to be forced into it anyway so why not make something out of it.
I absolutely loved Georgie. Not only is she a real woman at size 14 but she’s absolutely fine with who she is. It was so refreshing to read about someone who wasn’t stick thin and who liked to eat. She’s also such a lovely character and genuinely appeared to be a kind, friendly and caring woman. What I loved so much about Georgie is that she was someone I would have loved to have been friends with. She’s put in some pretty awkward situations but she manages to bounce back every single time and she’s also hilarious while she tries.
The whole television show aspect of Christmas at Carrington’s was fantastic. The plot was something of a mix between The Hotel Inspector and that show where the woman helps out shops (cannot remember the name of it for the life of me)! It was fun to see what problems Kelly thought the store had and what she was doing to attempt to fix those things. The television show also put the characters in really funny situations such as trying to figure out who were real customers and who weren’t.
The one thing that was lacking in this book for me was the romance. I didn’t really feel the lust and attraction between Georgie and Tom. Maybe this was something I had missed out on by not reading the first book. I could see the attraction from her but he really didn’t seem that bothered during any point in the book. If there isn’t going to at least be some good chemistry, I don’t see the point in having a relationship in a book such as this. If those missing elements had been there, this would have easily been a five star book for me.
Overall though, Christmas at Carrington’s is a really good and enjoyable read.

Love is a Thief by Claire Garber

About the book
Love is a Thief is a contemporary novel by Claire Garber. The book was published by Mira Books on 5th July and it is 448 pages long. I received an e-book for review through NetGalley.
Plot Synopsis
After having a bit of a break down after a break up, Kate Winters begins her mission to take back what love stole from her!
Kate has been extremely unlucky in love. She’s the girl without a boyfriend, without children and it’s looking as though she won’t get her happily ever after. Now that she isn’t constantly thinking about a man, Kate wants to get to know herself again, finding out what it is she actually likes. She wants to do the things she never got a chance to do because she fell in love! Kate not only takes on the mission herself but extends it to women around the country.
What I thought
Recently I have been taking a bit of a gamble on books requested on NetGalley. While I love reading in the young adult genre, I sometimes need something different and this is where chick-lit comes in.
The idea behind Love is a Thief was fantastic. How many times have I given something up because of being with a certain boyfriend… I could absolutely relate to protagonist Kate. She moved to France and lived with her ski instruction (who she thought was her soul mate) there only to break up and be forced to move back home. Kate felt as though she had wasted so much time being who her boyfriend wanted her to be instead of doing things for herself. The worst thing is, she works for a magazine called True Love; how much of a bummer must that be when you’ve got a broken heart?
So, she writes an article without permission about what love stole from her and what she wanted to do about that. The response she gets from women all over the country is phenomenal and even though the magazine aren’t happy about what Kate has done, they can’t ignore what their readers want. Not only does the book follow Kate and her lost dreams, but also those of people around her and those of others. I really enjoyed reading about the range of things that people thought love had stolen from them and how they intended to go about fixing that.
The characters in this book were very varied and provided quite a lot of comedy; this was mainly due to the fact that there were a fair few large and loud personalities. What made the characters so great in this book though is that they were so real. The objectives planned by women throughout the book are more than reasonable and I could certainly relate to what some of them wanted to do. It also showed just how different people are and the things that people tend to miss out on in life.
Unfortunately, the romance is quite lacking in Love is a Thief. There is a love interest for Kate in the form of Peter Parker (no, not like Spiderman). While there was so much that could have been done with this pairing, it always fell quite short. Just when I thought something was going to happen, it didn’t. The two have a bit of a history as they were friends when they were children and then something happened to make Peter move away without a word. This was the most interesting thing about Kate and Peter and without this, there wouldn’t really have been much point to Peter’s character.
Overall, Love is a Thief is a pretty good book. There could have been more romance but the actual plot and subject of the story was really captivating.

Keeping Secrets in Seattle by Brooke Moss

About the book

Keeping Secrets in Seattle is a contemporary novel by Brooke Moss. The book was published by Entangled: Edge on 25th February and the book is 204 pages long. I received an e-book for review through NetGalley.
Plot Synopsis
Violet and Gabe have been best friends their whole lives and Violet has spent most of that pining after him. But, now that Gabe has decided to settle down with someone else, Violet is heartbroken. If that wasn’t bad enough, Gabe has asked Violet to be his best man. Violet’s roommates urge her to move on, to find someone else and stop pining for a man she can’t have. She meets Landon in a club and he isn’t at all fazed by her funky style or attitude. He likes her exactly as she is.
If only it was only that easy though. Violet is able to see through Gabe’s fiancé’s façade and she’s desperate to let him know exactly what he’s getting himself into. Violet has secrets of her own too and with wedding plans in full swing, they threaten to break out and ruin everything. Will two life-long best friends be able to see past the lies and get what they both deserve?
What I thought
Oh how much I loved this book! This was another random book that I requested on NetGalley so I didn’t know much about the author or the title before reading it.
I absolutely loved the best friend aspect of this book. Violet and Gabe have known each other since they were kids and now all grown up, are still the best of friends. Violet has had a thing for Gabe for so long though and secretly hopes that one day he will realise that he loves her back and they can live happily ever after together. However, I’m not sure that I would have personally waited around for so many years for someone like Violet did.
After Gabe announces his engagement to someone else, Violet finally attempts to move on. I also really liked that although it was clear that Violet wasn’t over Gabe, she did try with a seriously hot guy called Landon. He understood Violet, liked her for exactly who she was and he was so open with her. Landon may have had lots of tattoos and a motorbike, coming across as the tough guy, but he was super sweet, sensitive and romantic as well. Compared to Gabe, who was pretty insensitive and mean at times, Landon was definitely a good option to have.
The plot is very much the case of ‘will she get the guy’ and along with that comes some very predictable moments. However, Brooke Moss throws in some great twists and turns over the course of the book. Nothing is quite as simple as it first seems and there is the big issue of ‘that night’ to address at some point or another. I really liked that this wasn’t just your average best friends falling for one another book and that there was a whole host of interesting characters causing mischief along with Violet and Gabe.
Speaking of Violet, I adored her. She was certainly different compared to the girls in some books that I’ve read. She’s content with who she is, what she looks like and isn’t afraid to make a statement. Violet has a such a strong personality, strong character and is funny as hell. I can’t remember the last time I liked a female protagonist as much as I liked Violet. As I said before though, she has secrets and there is a lot more to her than meets the eye.

Keeping Secrets in Seattle was funny, emotional and such a joy to read. A must read in my opinion. 

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

About the book
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom is a stand-alone novel. It was published on 14thMarch by Doubleday and the book is 400 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review. (A stunning hardback copy too!)
Plot Synopsis
Set in 1791, orphaned on her journey to America, seven year old Lavinia becomes a new member of the Tall Oaks household. However, as Tall Oaks is a tobacco planation, she is forced to live and work with the slaves in the kitchen house, no matter the fact that she is white. Lavinia is put under the care of young Belle, the master of the house’s illegitimate daughter and soon becomes to love everyone in the kitchen house as her own family.
After a few years, Lavinia makes it into the big house where the mistress becomes an opium addict after several traumatic experiences. Lavinia soon realises just how different the two worlds are and has trouble separating the two. Torn between her family of slaves and the family running the plantation, Lavinia has to make a decision about her life but it is far from an easy one.
What I thought
This is not my usual kind of read but I’m trying to branch out a little more and try something new so when I got a review request for this one, I decided to give it a go. Instantly, I enjoyed the setting of the novel. Going back over 200 years in Virginia, the setting of the plantation of the people who lived and worked there was described beautifully.
The story is told through a dual narrative from Lavinia and Belle, a worker in the kitchen house. I have to say, that while I enjoyed both narratives, it was Lavinia’s which I enjoyed more. As a young, orphaned white girl, Lavinia doesn’t really understand her place in her new home. She’s more than ok with living with the slaves of the house and soon comes to think of them as family, using names such as Mama and Papa. Lavinia’s upbringing was certainly different to that of a typical white person during the times of the novel but she doesn’t think anything differently of it. Lavinia was a sweet but naive character, not knowing her place in the world. However, the novel follows her through to her 20s so we get to see her grow and develop a lot as a character.
Where we see Lavinia growing up, Belle gives a different perspective on the story. As she is older, she is able to give insight into the events covered throughout the novel. Being a slave and the illegitimate daughter of the house puts Belle in a somewhat awkward situation at times but through her narrative, we are able to understand why certain things happen, especially things that Lavinia either doesn’t know about or doesn’t understand. Over the course of the novel, Belle’s voice gets stronger and stronger and she became a character I liked more towards the end.
The Kitchen House provides a wonderful view of what life could have been like during times of slavery in America. Kathleen Grissom manages to make her novel exciting, heart-felt and heart-breaking all at the same time. As this novel spans roughly thirteen years, a lot does happen. At times, I felt there was too much going on but then it was necessary in order to show character development and the change in lifestyles. The lives of the slaves and the family running the planation are intertwined throughout the novel, which is how it becomes possible for so much to happen. Although it seems that white slave traders and owners were very racist against the slaves at times, there was a hell of a lot of sleeping around going on and so many secrets. I was somewhat shocked to realise that there was so much going on behind closed doors.
Secondary characters come more and more into play throughout the novel. Young Marshall, the son of the owners of the plantation, grows into a man and a tyrant too. He had a pretty rough kind of life himself and it wasn’t easy at all for him during his earlier years. The Kitchen House shows how he progresses into such a devil of a man towards the end. He was certainly a character to be hated but Grissom makes sure to explain all aspects of this character. During the middle of the novel, Lavinia and Marshall become quite good friends and she is able to see him as a loving and caring man. Unfortunately he does not stay this way though and becomes mean, aggressive and violent – not to mention selfish and rude.
Overall, this story about slavery and the relationships forged in such a time is a beautiful read and one which was utterly captivating. 

Guest Review: The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

It isn’t very often I have guest reviews on the blog. Actually, I don’t at all but today, my wonderful fiancé John is reviewing for me. This was one of his own books but I have sneakily asked him to write a few more reviews for me, seeing as he’s reading from my pile at the minute anyway!  

About the book
The Prisoner of Heaven is the third book in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. The paperback was released on 7th March and the book is 320 pages long.
Plot Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Barcelona, 1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife, Bea, have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julián, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city’s dark past.
His appearance plunges Fermín and Daniel into a dangerous adventure that will take them back to the 1940s and the early days of Franco’s dictatorship. The terrifying events of that time launch them on a search for the truth that will put into peril everything they love, and will ultimately transform their lives.
What I thought
I can’t tell you how excited I was when I heard about this book. This is the third in the Cemetery of Forgotten books series, set in and around the Sempere and sons bookshop in Barcelona. The two previous instalments were The Shadow of The Wind and its prequel The Angel’s Game. This is my favourite series of books and Carlos Ruiz Zafon is my favourite author. I read this book in one day and I loved every page.
The Prisoner of Heaven is both sequel and prequel to The Shadow of the Wind (it will make sense if you read all three) and is also a sequel to The Angel’s Game. The 3 books in this series are written as stand-alone, interconnected stories, designed to be read in any order. They share characters, locations and events but I’d recommend reading them in publication order – The Shadow of the Wind first, then The Angel’s Game, then this one. It will give you a richer, fuller reading experience and I also think The Shadow of the Wind is the better of the three so a good place to start.
As I said, The Prisoner of Heaven is a sequel to The Shadow of the Wind and events follow on from that book. Daniel Sempere is married and has a son and all looks good for him – until the past catches up with him. I am deliberately not going into plot details because the less the reader knows the better. Trust me.
Compared to the previous two books, The Prisoner of Heaven is actually a pretty short and non-complex story. It fills in some blanks from the previous books and helps those two books slot in together. It adds some scope to it. This book also sets things up nicely for the fourth, concluding part, which Carlos Ruiz Zafon had better hurry up and write!
I can’t recommend this series enough. They are magical, gothic, supernatural, mystery, thriller, horror, comedy, historical, haunting stories. The characters are fantastic and I just love them. The Prisoner of Heaven is as fantastic as the others – but make sure you read them first.

Annabel by Kathleen Winter

About the book
Annabel by Kathleen Winter is a LGBTQ novel. The book was published by Vintage on 1stMarch 2012 and it is 480 pages long.
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret: the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boy’s female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as “Annabel,” is never entirely extinguished.
What I thought
For my final essay for my Reading Gender and Sexuality class at university, I got to choose either one or two books of my own choice to use with either one or two from the course. The most interesting for me on the course concerned transgender and my sister highly recommended this one to me to use as well.
Annabel tells the story of a family living in a remote town in Canada. The town is very male driven, with the men of each family going out to hunt etc. Women are mostly stay at home mums and very few of them have ‘important’ jobs. When Jacinta and Treadway have a baby, everything changes. The baby is born a hermaphrodite and the couple have no idea how to deal with that, let alone how to bring the baby up. I really enjoyed the slow build up in this novel, as the setting is a very important thing. Being set in a town where different is not celebrated, and due to it being set in the late ‘60s, Kathleen Winter addresses issues which would have been seen to be controversial.
As Jacinta and Treadway bring up baby Wayne, it is never clear whether or not it was the right thing to do. The novel questions whether how a person is brought up can really affect the way they turn out later in life. Treadway never wants to admit that Wayne could actually be more female and feminine so he spends a lot of time and effort trying to teach Wayne the ‘right’ ways to be a man especially in the town in which they live. It was interesting to see the different influences that different people had on Wayne as this showed both his masculine and feminine side.
Winter makes sure that the reader gets to see things from all sides, which was something I really appreciated. I don’t think that I would have cared as much about Wayne, had I not gotten to know his parents and friends and how each separate person treated him. Wayne on his own was a wonderful character though and one who was easy to warm to. For a large part of the book, Wayne doesn’t know anything about when he was born and what the family went through so admission and acceptance are strong themes within the novel. A lot of time is spent on Wayne’s childhood and him being a teenager which were some of the best chapters of this book. From following Wayne as a baby right until his twenties, Winter makes it possible to understand and have empathy for him.
Annabel is a really important novel which tackles some serious issues. What I loved so much about this is the crossover into the young adult genre. I think that this book appeals a lot to adults as well as young adults and there is something in there for everyone. The novel is beautifully and thoughtfully written and one which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.