Tag Archives: Jemm Frances Reads

Jemm Frances Reads… The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.

 This isn’t a new book but one I’ve recently re-read after previously reading it about 12 times! I’ve read this particular book so many times in fact, that with this latest reading I’ve had to perform some emergency book surgery and sellotape loose pages back into place. It’s probably time to buy a new one but I’m a bit sentimental like that.

Kate Morton has to be one of my favourite storytellers with her often haunting, beautifully written tales; so I was surprised to find that I’ve only ever reviewed one of her books (The Secret Keeper, read it here) on the blog before.

Therefore it’s long overdue that I pop up a review of another of her brilliant novels. To date, Kate has four books to her name and having read them all it’s so hard to pick a favourite. I usually pick whichever one I’ve most recently read, so The Forgotten Garden it is.

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 In 1913, at a London dock, on board a ship about to set sail to Australia, The Authoress explains the rules of the game. She tells the little girl to be patient, to wait and that together they will search out a new life together.

On the other side of the ocean, the same child is found with amnesia and a small white suitcase. The Authoress has disappeared, nowhere to be found.

In 1975, Nell Andrews is an old lady. She is on a journey of self-discovery after learning a family secret at the age of twenty-one. Her search for truth takes her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast of England, home of the Mountrachet family; where, once upon a time, there lived a celebrated painter and a writer of fairytales.

In Australia, on the event of Nell’s death in 2005, her granddaughter Cassandra not only inherits her grandmother’s unsolved mystery, but also Cliff Cottage in the grounds of a grand estate half the world away. On a quest for answers Cassandra heads to Cornwall and the cottage on the cliff, infamous among locals for its dark secrets. There she discovers a forgotten garden but will it give up all Blackhurst’s secrets?

Will the riddle of the lost little girl and her grandmother Nell finally be solved?

And exactly what was the fate of The Authoress?

 Wonderfully descriptive and atmospheric this dual time narrative spans three generations with its rich, beautifully written, multi layered plot. In true Kate Morton fashion it is masterfully woven with more magic, twists and truths than a fairytale, Elisa Makepeace (read the book) would be proud!

Kate’s books never fail to captivate and keep you there right to the very last page.

Even after reading it so many times I’m sure I will be visiting The Forgotten Garden again.

Bookworm Business: What are you reading right now? Are you a fan of Kate Morton’s books? Do you think you’ll be giving The Forgotten Garden a try?

Jemm xoxo

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Jemm Frances Reads… The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman

 I was asked to give my opinion on this book by a friend who was considering reading it. I told her to purchase it without hesitation, as I knew, having read it myself, that it would be thoroughly enjoyed. Hence the review post.

The Light Between Oceans is M L Stedman’s debut novel but you would never guess so.  The story is so beautifully crafted that you would expect Stedman to have a string of novels to her name. I will certainly be keeping my readers eye out for future books from this Australian author. 

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Having survived the trenches of WW1 Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia physically well but mentally scarred by the horrors of his experience. 

Securing a job as a lighthouse keeper on the remote Janus Rock, Tom immerses himself in the occupations isolation.

Whilst on a trip to Point Partageuse, the nearest community back on the mainland, Tom meets and falls in love with local girl Isabel Graysmark. They marry and return together to Janus Rock where they long to start a family but tragically suffer a series of miscarriages.

So when a boat washes up on the rocks containing the body of a man, and a screaming baby girl, the Sherbourne’s make a decision that will ultimately break their hearts.

Choosing to bury the body and take the child as their own will be a decision that causes unimaginable guilt and haunting consequences, not only for their family, but also for an entire community.

Stedman richly describes her characters and settings and covers a range of emotions from the view points of different individuals, while managing to attach the same levels of importance to each. Isabel’s loss and sense of doing what’s best, Tom’s sense of duty and guilt. The shock and hurt of family and friends after discovering the Sherbourne’s secret, the biological mothers sense of grief and longing for justice and a young child’s sense of confusion and loyalty. Love, sacrifice, truth and morality are all given room to play out in the book.

The story is convincingly told and illustrates how easily the lines between right and wrong can sometimes become blurred. 

Tom and Isabel’s actions speak of their loss and desperation and while half of you sympathises with their predicament the other longs for them to be discovered and the child returned to her rightful parents. The Sherbourne’s truly believe they are acting in the girls best interest and raise her in love, so does this make their actions right or wrong? And although they acted out of kindness does this make their decision acceptable? 

This is a tale that makes you question your own sense of morality and how you would act in a similar circumstance. 

Through the writing the characters come alive in your mind to such an extent that you pray for a solution that will please everyone although deep down you know this just isn’t possible.

This book is a lovely, heartfelt read. While both moving and enjoyable it will also chill to the bone as it brings home the realisation that one decision can have a lifetimes worth of consequences. 

Bookworm Business: Have you read The Light Between Oceans? Think you might give it a go? Comment, Tweet or Facebook your thoughts.

Jemm xoxo

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Jemm Frances Reads…The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

I can’t remember in exactly what context but I saw this particular book mentioned on Twitter and it reminded me how much I enjoyed reading it.  I’m not really a massive fan of frilly chick-lit as I usually prefer my stories to pack a bit more punch, but I’ve read a few of Cecelia Ahern’s offerings now and have to admit to rating some more than others.

The Book of Tomorrow is one of Ahern’s books that I think well worth the read, with a plot interesting enough to hold your attention but easy enough to make it a nice relaxing read.

It’s also a well-known fact that book lovers can never resist a book about a book. 

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Tamara Goodwin is a spoilt brat. Thanks to her father she’s the rich kid who lives a life of luxury and is used to getting everything she wants. She treats her parents with contempt, her friends even worse and never stops to consider the consequences of her actions.

So when her father commits suicide over his monumental debts, leaving her and her mother destitute, Tamara must come to terms with her dramatic change in circumstance.

Moved from the bustling city she loves to the sleepy countryside to live with family she neither knows nor likes, Tamara’s charmed life is well and truly over and for the first time she must consider what tomorrow will bring.

Bored, frustrated and lonely, when a travelling library arrives in her village Tamara investigates simply to relieve the monotony of day-to-day life. She discovers on it’s shelves a large leather backed tome mysteriously sealed with a gold clasp and padlock.

When she finally gains entry to its pages the books clever secret almost defies belief, its magic not only brings into question the past but also holds the power to change her tomorrows….

 It’s hard at first to like protagonist Tamara, ruined as she is by the lifestyle she leads but as the story progresses so do your tender feelings towards this young girl as she discovers the virtues of humility, gratitude and selflessness.

The Book of Tomorrow contains more substance than its airy, fluffy chick-lit counterparts. A bit of magic, mystery and moral learning all combine to hold your interest right to the last page.

Cecelia Ahern tells the tale of Tamara’s journey with writing that will in one instance touch your heart and in the other make you laugh out loud.

With an entertaining cast of characters I couldn’t wait to find out how things worked out for Tamara and her family although the twist towards the end makes it almost impossible to guess.

Out of all the Cecelia Ahern books I have read, this one has to be a favourite.

 Bookworm Business: Have you read The Book of Tomorrow? Are you a fan of Cecelia Ahern? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Jemm xoxo

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Instagram Diary

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1. Back in love with Essie’s Fiji nail polish with tanned hands.

2. I have a bit of a thing for stars and crescent moons so I couldn’t resist these super cute Topshop midi rings. (Sorry can’t remember how much they cost!)

3. Never before owned a pair of tan coloured sandals, until now. These pair were a bargain from Faith.

4. Got these two MAC lipsticks, Please Me & Honey Love, FREE, yes free by swapping 12 empty eyeshadow pots as part of the Back 2 MAC scheme. Happy Jemma!

5. Been after some holographic effect nail polish for ages. Found this one in Urban Outfitters.

6. Polka dot nails…

7. … to match my polka dot dress!

8. Mamma Smith and I at a family wedding in Southampton.

9. Family ladies together striking a pose.

10. Pretty purple wedding cupcakes, don’t mind if I do.

11. I love you too Costa.

12. Lastest Jemm Frances Reads post. The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence. If you’re looking for your next book read here first.

13. Current nail fashion. Illamasqua Obsess polish with a Topshop glitter fade.

14. Sometimes it’s just got to be done. Pink, sparkly Krispy Kreme.

Find/Follow me on Instagram @ JemmFrances.

What’s been happening with you this week?

Jemm xoxo

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Jemm Frances Reads…The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

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This is a book that probably would have passed me by was it not for a recommendation from a friend (thanks Leilah!) With all the other books I have stacked up to read this debut novel from Gavin Extence stood a good chance of escaping my attention altogether, but I have to say I’m so glad it didn’t.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened the cover but within the first couple of pages I was hooked, I immediately liked the protagonist Alex Woods despite that fact that he was being questioned by the police when I first met him.

To say Alex Woods is an outsider would be a bit of an understatement. With a clairvoyant single mother, a cat he treats like a sister and a love of books and science it’s no wonder he’s a prime target for school bullies. He’s also epileptic thanks to being hit in the head by a falling meteorite at the age of ten, making him one of the most famous boys in Britain.

You’d think that that would be quite enough adventure for one young man to be getting along with but the adventures of Alex Woods only truly begin when he meets cantankerous old Mr. Peterson and Alex discovers you can find friends in the most unlikely of places.

The journey, both literally and metaphorically, that the pair embark upon will make you laugh and make you cry. It will also teach you a lesson.

So at the age of seventeen when Alex is pulled over at Dover customs having driven solo across Europe with an urn full of ashes, a stash of marijuana and an entire country searching for him he has a lot of explaining to do…

This is a story that will uplift you and break your heart in one fell swoop. Alex narrates with deadpan humour, the innocence of youth and the wisdom that fighting for something you believe in can bring. Funny, tragic and hugely enjoyable. 

Cleverly written it will keep you engaged until the very last page with this double act of characters encouraging you to accept who you are, discover your principles and stand by them no matter what. 

After reading this book you might look around you and find that things may not always be as black and white as they seem. 

This book was recommended to me and now I thoroughly recommend it to you.

Jemm xoxo

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Jemm Frances Reads…This House Is Haunted by John Boyne

“I blame Charles Dickens for the death of my father.” 

If this first line intrigues you, you are not alone.

This is the declaration John Boyne uses to open his gothic Victorian ghost story, This House Is Haunted, and while it might be the first, it certainly isn’t the last nod to Mr. Dickens in this story. A few chapters in we even discover an office clerk named Cratchett!

I’m a bit of a sucker for ghostly Victorian tales but had previously only read one other of John Boyne’s books, The Boy In The Stripped Pajamas so I was curious as to what this book had to offer. From the captivating and macabre first line the scene is set, the year is 1867, let the story begin.

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Amidst the dense London fog Eliza Caine looses her only surviving parent thanks to Charles Dickens. Now alone in the world and a mere schoolteacher she struggles to pay the rent.

Answering a peculiar advertisement requesting the services of a governess, Eliza goes in search of a new life away from the city and the only home she has ever known. 

Disembarking at a Norfolk station on a chilly night Eliza gets the creeping feeling that something is amiss when an invisible pair of hands try to push her into the path of an oncoming train, but it’s too late to turn back now. An unsettling journey to Gaudlin Hall, her new home, does little to appease her fears. On arriving at the imposing country pile Eliza finds no adults there to receive her; no servants, no parents and no sign of her mysterious employer. 

Instead she is welcomed by her two young charges, Isabella and Eustace Westerly who appear to be alone in the house. The children offer no explanation as to the strange circumstances and do not answer any of Eliza’s questions. The new governess, the sixth in less than a year, is shown to her room and bid goodnight. However it soon becomes apparent that the children, and now Eliza, may not be alone in the house after all.

As Eliza Caine goes about her duties taking care of the Westerly children she feels stalked by a hostile presence intent on causing her harm. She knows that if she is to succeed where past governesses have failed she must uncover Gaudlin’s past and dig up its long buried secrets. This she must do if she is to save the children, and herself. 

Can this Victorian heroine rid Gaudlin of its ghost?

This book contains everything that a true gothic ghost story should. Bad weather, bumpy carriage rides, unhelpful villagers, a haunted Hall, odd children, hidden secrets and murder. Eliza Caine is the perfect protagonist providing a strong and feisty first person narrative in a time when young women were thought better to be seen and not heard. The suspense builds with every chapter in the run up to the final page, which like every good ghost story contains a twist at the end.

Not so terribly scary as to keep you awake at night but certainly spooky and atmospheric enough to keep you turning the page. 

If you read and enjoyed Susan Hill’s The Woman In Black you’ll love this creepy tale.

Bookworm Business: Have you read This House Is Haunted? What did you make of it? Have you read anything of John Boyne’s before? Will you be giving this book a try?

Jemm xoxo

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Instagram Diary

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1. More books. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson. Both new authors for me, maybe you’ll see these in future Jemm Frances Reads….

2. Pink overload in my shower bag. I’m not 12, honest.

3. Loving wearing my hair like this at the moment. Not really sure what this style is called :/

4. A make up face this week.

5. Costa chocolate muffin. I heart the gooey bit in the middle!

6. Desperately needed some new Topshop jeans so invested in these jegging style ‘Leigh’ jeans £38 each I think.

7. Went for a stroll around Cusworth Hall. Bit chilly though.

8. New Jemm Frances Reads… this week on the blog. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

9. Frankie & Benny’s lunch followed by a cheeky chocolate brownie and ice cream dessert.

10. Couldn’t resist this bright mint green Barry M Gelly polish. Called Greenberry.

11. Really appreciated this latte.

12. Star light, star bright. I want.

13. Sod Sunday lunch. Chip shop dining. 

14. Can I live in one of these please?

15. Pink and white cling film manicure with a hint of glitter.

Find/Follow me on Instagram @ JemmFrances

Jemm xoxo

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