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review 2019-05-20 15:54
The Couple - Sarah Mitchell

One of those books which are good in some parts, but not so good in others. Claire and Angus are newly engaged after meeting 4 months ago buy a house from Mark who reminds her of her university romance which didn’t end well. It veers from now to five years ago. It’s only after getting most of the way through this novel that the relevance of Claire’s job becomes apparent, but that didn’t make it less boring sadly and I skimmed those sections. Anyone wanting to know more about these things could read non fiction, search the web or simply watch or listen to news bulletins. Claire?? What can be said about her? Infuriating, weird and self absorbed spring to mind and you begin to wonder how on earth she got a job like this. None of the other characters were likeable in any way. I did enjoy the way the book was written and it was certainly a story with a difference, even if I didn’t wholly love it!

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review 2019-01-15 23:35
Thriller Aspect Not Well Done
The Couple - Sarah Mitchell

Please note that I received this ARC for free from NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review. 


Good grief, I don't know what to start with here. There was just too much going on. It didn't help that the author jumped back to the present and then 5 years before every every chapter. We are following our main character Claire's current engagement to a man named Angus and then her university romance with a guy named Dan. If you wanted to know about either guy, there's not much there. We just know that Clarie is still obsessing over Dan and where things went wrong, apparently went into a funk after the relationship ended and seems to be ambivalent (at best) about Angus. Things go to the weird where quickly where Claire meets a man who reminds her of Dan. And then it's just Claire running to and fro looking into something that made a little bit of sense at the end of the book. 


"The Couple" starts with Claire's engagement party to a man named Angus. Her family is pretty relieved that she has moved on from someone named Dan. FYI, it takes a while to even get to Dan and why Claire was so hung up on him. Claire works for the Home Office and deals with immigrant cases. We know she has a mother, stepfather, and brother, but she doesn't talk to them much, she is just telling you about them. Same with Angus. I didn't get a good sense of him via Claire. Same issue with Claire obsessing about the man she meets (Mark) and  her former boyfriend (Dan). She just runs around and says, well this person reminds me of Dan and I am now going to just run around and force this person to be with me, when I am not hiding it from my fiancee and trying to make things work there. This book was confusing. At least Mitchell didn't do the unreliable narrator thing (which I loathe). I think the big issue is that Claire is written inconsistently in this book. I don't know what she really wanted in the end. And then all of a sudden we get some huge reveal about things and I maybe squawked plot hole a few dozen times and let it go. 


The men were a mess in this book. We don't spend much time with anyone but the perfect Dan and good lord I didn't get it. You have to make him some big perfect love. Or something. Mitchell messes with his halo a bit, but then we don't get to see how things ended. We just get comments here and there and the rest is left to you to imagine. 


The writing feels really disconnected at times. Claire works at the Home Office and apparently deals with immigrant cases. Anytime Mitchell goes into whatever case Claire is working on the book gets odd. You have the idea that maybe Claire looks down on these people at times, or she doesn't really care (which I still say she doesn't) and all these cases just hang in the book. The flow is impacted by going from the present to five years ago. I just ceased to give a crap about Dan. Claire's obsession with him and his dealing with his ex got old fast. She was just a mess as the ex was in my opinion. That opinion isn't helped by the fact that though Mitchell over explains everything in this book, she decides to keep what happened to Dan vague. I mean you can guess what happened, but I wish that the rest of the book was more like that in order for it to really hit you.


The book's setting is mostly Angus and Clarie's home with Claire occasionally going out to stalk Mark somewhere else. 


The book ends in a whimper. 

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review 2018-10-11 18:32
WWII Historical fiction set in the UK and a gripping family mystery
The Lost Letters - Sarah Mitchell

I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here), and I thank her and the publisher for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

The novel tells two stories centred in two different times, one set in the 1940s, mostly in WWII Norfolk, although with some visits to London, and another taking place now, also set in Norfolk in its majority. The chapters set in the past are written in the past tense from the point of view of Sylvia, a married woman, mother of two children, still pining for her teenage love. When her aunt dies she leaves her a beach hut and through it she meets Connie, a girl from London, and her brother Charlie. Despite the distance and the difficulty in maintaining communication during the war, they become friends, and their lives intertwine in unexpected ways.

The chapters set in the present are written in the present tense (something I must confess took me some time to get used to, although it means it is very difficult to get confused as to where you are or who is talking), and told from the point of view of Martha, a Canadian teacher whose father was evacuated during the war from England to Canada. Following the death of her father and gaps in the information about his childhood (as he was working on an autobiography when he died), she decides to use the opportunity offered by her father’s plane ticket and the hotel and beach hut he had booked to do some research into his past.

Both women, whose stories most readers will guess must be connected in some way, have their own problems. Sylvia’s marriage is not exactly happy, the war takes her husband away, and apart from the everyday danger and destruction, she has to face the evacuation of her son. The author manages to create a good sense of the historical period and, in particular, of women’s lives during the war, without being heavy-handed in the use of descriptions or over-the-top in the nostalgic front. We experience the character’s turmoil, her doubts, and although we might not always agree with her decisions, it is easy to empathise and understand why she does what he does.

Martha is at a bit of a loss. She is divorced and although her ex-husband has moved on (he has remarried and has twins), it is not that clear if she has, as she still sends him birthday cards and seems jealous of her daughter’s relationship with her father’s new wife. She knows her relationship with her daughter Janey, who is studying at Cambridge, is strained but seems to have forgotten how to communicate with her. Her research into her father’s childhood and past gives her a focus, and the mystery behind Catkins (a file her sister finds in her father’s computer) and his/her identity help give her a purpose.

We have some male characters (and Martha’s father and his past are at the centre of the novel), but this is a novel about women: about mothers and daughters, about friends, about women pulling together to survive and to get stronger (I particularly enjoyed the chapters set during the war recalling the tasks women were doing in the home front, and how they supported each other becoming all members of an extended family), about the difficult decisions women were (and are) faced with for the good of their families and their children. The author is very good at conveying the thought processes of her characters and although it also has a great sense of place (and I am sure people familiar with Norfolk will enjoy the book enormously, and those of us who don’t know it as well will be tempted to put it on our list to visit in the future), in my opinion, its strongest point is its great psychological depth.

The book is well researched and it has a lightness of touch, avoiding the risk of slowing down the story with unnecessary detail or too much telling. As the different timelines are kept clearly separate I do not think readers will have any difficulty moving from one to the other.

The book flows well and the intrigue drives the reader through the pages, with red herrings and twists and turns included, although its pace is contemplative, as it pertains to the theme. It takes its time, and it allows its readers to get to know the characters and to make their own conjectures. I worked out what was likely to be the connection slightly before it was revealed, but it is very well done, and I don’t think readers will be disappointed by the ending.

A great first book, that pulls at the heartstrings, recommended to lovers of historical fiction and women’s fiction, especially those interested in WWII and the home front in the UK. I will be following the author’s career with interest in the future.

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review 2017-02-07 19:50
Second Chance with a Highlander
Second Chance with a Highlander (Highland Chance Series) (Volume 1) - Sarah Mitchell

'Second Chance with a Highlander' by Sarah Mitchell is book One in the "Highland Chance" series. This is the story of Connor and Kate.  This is a time travel type romance so be aware of that.  
Kate is in the present day dying off Cancer and pretty much alone...she has never married in this current day.  When Kate feels as if she is dying she ends up waking up in the past and is found by a Highlander named Connor. Connor takes him to his mother's house to have her take care of Kate. Kate is quickly drawn to Connor and feels as she knows him.  Connor does start to take return her feelings but there is ex lover of Connor's that isn't take it to well and starts to cause problems for them both. Kate is now in danger due to this ex lovers jealousy.  Loved seeing how this all played out..now to get to the next book since I am hooked on this series!
"My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."

Source: www.amazon.com/Second-Chance-Highlander-Highland-Book-ebook/dp/B01FG1VQ7I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486496875&sr=8-1&keywords=Second+Chance+with+a+Highlander
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review 2013-09-02 00:00
Defy the Dark - Saundra Mitchell, Malinda Lo, Myra McEntire, Sarah Ockler, Jackson Pearce, Dia Reeves, Jon Skovron, Courtney Summers, Aprilynne Pike, Beth Revis, Carrie Ryan, Rachel Hawkins, Sarah Rees Brennan, Tessa Gratton, Christine Johnson, Valerie Kemp I picked up the anthology exclusively for Sarah Rees Brennan and her I Gave You My love by the Light of the Moon, along with Now Bid Time Return by Saundra Mitchell and Where the Light Is by Jackson Pearce were my favorites. They were enjoyable and gave you enough to like and follow the characters with interest.

Nature, This Was Ophelia, Naughty or Nice and The Moth and the Spider were the only others that I made it all the way through. Some interesting ideas, but they did not hold up for me.
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