• ISBN-13: 9781401341701
  • Publisher: Voice
  • Publication date: June 2011
  • Format: Trade Paperback, 416 pgs
  • Source: Personal Library

  • After reading the blurb at the back of this book, I knew I have to read it as the story is about the German Occupation in Guernsey during WWII, and also it revolves around the life of a woman whose husband has gone off to war and how she has fallen in love with a German captain. 

Vivienne de la Mare knew that life is not easy during the war times, especially when she has two young daughters and an ailing mother-in-law to take care of. Before the German soldiers invaded their town, she and her daughters are supposed to have left for London but Vivienne chicken out at the last minute after seeing so many people squeezed into the small ferry and that they had to travel under bad weather. Knowing that she has no choice but to stay, she grits her teeth and continues her life back at her countryside home. 

When a few German soldiers take up residence in the house next door to hers, she thought that as long as they remain low profile and discreet, then they would be safe but alas she never expect that she would fall in love with Gunther Lehmann, a German captain who is not only their enemy but also one who has a family like her too. 

Vivienne knew she is not supposed to love this man, but her relationship with her husband has already turned cold way before he has gone off to war. Plus, Vivienne feels connected with Gunther and she has never felt so lively with a man, at least not with her husband. So there begins their secret affair, and Vivienne now has to face another fear aside from the war - for being discovered by her family and the community. 

Life continues until a day her young daughter told her about a 'ghost' she met - a prisoner who has escaped from a Nazi work camp. Either feeling sorry for the prisoner or having guilty conscious for falling in love with the enemy, she decides to help the prisoner by giving him food and a place to stay, without the knowledge to anyone except her young daughter. It is at this time that she questions herself and wonder how much she could trust Gunther. 

Filled with intensity and emotions, The Soldier's Wife is one of the best fictions I read this year to date. Aside from the writing, the setting in Guernsey interest me as I don't think I have ever read a story set in that place before (yes, I should consider reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) and on top of that, both the plot and the characterisations are riveting and at times, I wasn't sure if I should feel angry or sympathy towards Vivienne. She isn't a strong heroine in my opinion (i.e.her indecisiveness) ; but the good thing is, she is a compassionate person. 

The scenes about her relationships between her two young daughters and her ailing mother-in-law are another highlight of this story. Through Vivienne's eyes, I understand how difficult it would be to be the only family member to take charge of the household. And finally, how would one justify her relationship with Gunther? It sounds wrong to fall in love with your enemy, but from another point, he is just an ordinary man, only with a wrong nationality. So what is Vivienne to do? I suppose you have to read this book yourself to find out, but I just want to say the ending ends well with me. 

  • ISBN-13: 9780399157646
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: May 2012
  • Format: Hardcover, 464 pgs
  • Source: Personal Library

When I first saw the book cover, I was totally smitten by the silver glittery fonts and the cityscape as the backdrop. What's more, Karen White (author of The Beach Trees; and one of my favourite authors) quoted on the front cover that this as "Irresistible. A memorable story of a timeless love."  Needless to say, I was hooked and I bought it, regardless of the eye-popping price tag (S$50.24). 

The story opens with the heroine searching in earnest for a Captain Julian Laurence Ashford. The year is 1916 in Amiens; a city in N France and World War I is raging at that time. The heroine doesn't really understand the urgent need in finding Captain Julian Ashford but she does know that she has to warn him of the danger he would be in and hopefully he would listen to her so he would be spared, from death. 

Fast forward to Year 2007 in New York City, Kate Wilson is a twenty-something Wall Street investment banker. She is good in her job but the thing is her superior rarely recognises her hard work and give all the important tasks and credits to another coworker instead. Being the low-profile person, Kate kind of accepts her fate but one business meeting allows her to meet the legendary investment genius Julian Laurence and her world changes thereafter. Julian is not only young and good-looking and it seems he is quite taken with Kate. 

What follows next is the alternative chapters that shift between the past and the present, allowing readers to find out and to understand the connection between Julian and Kate, and why these two people seem to have a purpose when seeking for each other, no matter in Amiens or in New York City. 

While this is a time-travel romance, it does has a tad of intrigue added to this romantic fantasy as there are scenes whereby Kate's safety is threatened at some point and makes you wonder who it is and why. 

I have to admit I am not a big fan of time-travel fiction, be it romance or mainstream but Overseas has definitely won me over with the unforgettable characters and the interesting premise as well. Author Beatriz Williams' style of writing is smooth and enticing and while I know the time-travel part is impractical and would never ever happen in reality, what matters is that love would never go out of time, anywhere. As long as there is love, there will always be stories to be told; and this is probably one reason why romance remains as one of the popular genres among others?  

  • ISBN-13: 9780345803481
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: April 2012
  • Format: Paperback, 514 pgs
  • Source: Personal Library

I am sure many of you must have heard or read some reviews on this trilogy; after all these books are hard to miss, as they are often seen under the best-selling section in the book stores and/or that many readers have read and raved about them. I have to admit I was piqued with curiosity of the hype of this trilogy and thought this is a thriller at first glance of the book cover. I was wrong; this trilogy has nothing to do with mystery or crime but of romance - erotic romance, as the back of the book indicated. Well, I have nothing against erotic romance and a few friends of mine are reading it so I decided to jump on the bandwagon. 

Literature student, Anastasia Steele gets to interview a young entrepreneur, Christian Grey, who is brilliant and good-looking  yet intimidating at the same time. He intrigues her and despite knowing their difference, Ana wants this man and little does she know that Christian wants her too. However, Christian has secrets and his agenda, but the top of it all is, he has this singular erotic tastes and he wants Ana to be the one for his own dark desires. Ana would then embark on this daring and passionate physical affair but would she be able to resist or consumed by Christian's dark desires towards the end? 

The beginning of the story was great; for I felt the sparks of attraction between Christian and Ana. Unfortunately, my interest in the story began to wane towards the middle as I felt it was the same old emotional struggle between the couple throughout the chapters (i.e., Ana gets frustrated over their so-called relationship and after some comments or a few 'jealousy acts' by Christian, they would be back together in bed, again). There was a point where I felt like throwing the book against the wall because I was getting tired of their charade. Also, I felt it was not well-written though it made an easy read to me. 

Another thing I think I was not wowed by the story is the stalking and controlling behaviour of Christian. While some readers may think it is kind of romantic to have the hero to stalk and control the heroine, however it is another different story in reality and I hope one would not mix the fantasy in fiction with reality. And you know what, the controlling behaviour in Christian reminds me a lot of a co-worker in my ex-company, though he is not at all good-looking or charming like Christian, ha. This ex-co-worker of mine loved to give (unreasonable) orders and couldn't seem to take no for an answer, and I suppose this is probably another reason why I wasn't impressed with this book, despite all the hype. That said, I have Book 2 and 3 in my TBR pile but I am not in a hurry to read them. I suppose I would wait for my reading mood to strike, and I hope the storyline will get better.