by Sophie Duffy
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 01 Oct 2015 | Archive Date 04 Apr 2016
Legend Press, Legend Times Group
Cameron Spark's life is falling apart. He is separated from his wife, and awaiting a disciplinary following an incident in the underground vaults of Edinburgh where he works as a Ghost Tour guide. On the day he moves back home to live with his widowed dad, he receives a letter from Canada. It is from Christie. Twenty-five years earlier, Cameron attends Lancaster University and despite his crippling shyness, makes three unlikely friends: Christie, the rich Canadian, Tommo, the wannabe rock star and Bex, the feminist activist who has his heart. In a whirlwind of alcohol, music, and late night protests, Cameron feels as though he's finally living; until a horrific accident shatters their friendship and alters their futures forever. Christie's letter offers them a reunion after all these years. But has enough time passed to recover from the lies, the guilt, and the mistakes made on that tragic night? Or is this one ghost too many for Cameron?
‘Wonderful - bounces along with drama and verve.’ Kate Long
‘…storytelling that stays with you.’ Helen Lederer
‘Hilariously funny and desperately sad...’ Maureen Lee
Praise for Sophie:
Winner of the 2010 Luke Bitmead BursaryWinner of the Yeovil Literary Prize Shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize.
‘A warm, moving, wonderful read.’ Wendy Holden
‘A born storyteller with a gift for characterisation, she writes with warmth, lovely earthy detail... echoes of Victoria Wood.’ The Daily Mail
‘A brave, bold, warm, rich, amusing, engaging novel.’ Hello! magazine
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 81 members
4 stars! I liked this book in the fact that it centered on four characters that went to uni together. Not all of them would be the type that you would necessarily see hanging together. Actually, Cameron is the type you would not see hanging with anyone. The story goes back and forth from uni days with the four of them to Cameron's present day. Then one day they are all invited to the unveiling of one of the four friend's newest wine. While there, they reminisce about uni days and a secret known by three of them comes out to the worst damaged of the four of them. I really enjoyed reading this and was definitely kept interested. The characters were all pretty likable except for Tommie. I didn't and still don't like him. And his dad should have done more at that coffee shop meeting towards the end of the book other than just offer up his condolences. Cameron was done wrong in SO many ways. This was an emotional ride wherein I felt mixed emotions for all the characters at times. I found it to be a great read and I seriously recommend it!! Thanks Legend Press and Net Galley for providing me a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
I was interested in this book because of the gorgeous cover, which had me expect a darker kind of chicklit. That was no at all what I found. However I did find a captivating and interesting read. The book is Cameron's diary, that he is writing because of his counsellors suggestion. It is however, nothing like Bridget Jones. It is a tool for Cameron to deal with what happened 25 years ago and move on with his life. The reader gets to experience him close up, which is both dark and exciting. I also got a bit frustrated with Cameron, when he just went along with things instead of standing up for himself. But that's because the book is wellwritten and makes me care about Cameron. I don't remember reading other books quite like this one, and to me it is fresh and original. Usually I avoid books with flashbacks and changes in time, as it takes away from the story. But in Bright Stars it works really well and is combined with the kind of writing that creates images in my mind. I still have clear images of scenes from the book in my head. Cameron is a Scot and there are many Scottish words and phrases. Luckily Kindle could help with that, and I found it really nice to experience a bit of Scotland. I would, no doubt, recommend Bright Stars to others - it is a great read.
Four students are involved in a tragedy that rips their friendship apart. What happens when they are reunited 25 years later? Cameron Spark's life is falling apart. He is separated from his wife, and awaiting a disciplinary following an incident in the underground vaults of Edinburgh where he works as a Ghost Tour guide. On the day he moves back home to live with his widowed dad, he receives a letter from Canada. It is from Christie. Twenty-five years earlier, Cameron attends Lancaster University and despite his crippling shyness, makes three unlikely friends: Christie, the rich Canadian, Tommo, the wannabe rock star and Bex, the feminist activist who has his heart. In a whirlwind of alcohol, music, and late night protests, Cameron feels as though he's finally living; until a horrific accident shatters their friendship and alters their futures forever. Christie's letter offers them a reunion after all these years. But has enough time passed to recover from the lies, the guilt, and the mistakes made on that tragic night? Or is this one ghost too many for Cameron? In 1986 Cameron Spark went to university in Lancaster, a shy and quiet young Scottish lad that managed to form three of the most unbelievable friendships that change his life forever, shape what becomes of him and his friends. Cameron first meets Tommo who is the antithesis of Cameron; he is English, he is loud, he dresses in drainpipe jeans, wears fashionable shoes, drinks alcohol and wants to be a rock star. Then there is Bex, the love of Cameron's life, an animal rights activist, feminist and can do no wrong as far as Cameron is concerned. Christie, the final of the four, is a Canadian, who comes to Lancaster to study marketing before she takes the reins of the family wine business back home. Being the typical students, they go to lectures, get drunk, go to gigs and generally have a good time being young and free from parents watching over them. Or that is until that fateful night that changes everyone's lives, the accident changes Cameron's life in more ways that he can imagine, friendships are abandoned, and the mistakes that are made that night will haunt each of them for the next 25 years. Switch to current day, Cameron, now in his 40s has split from his wife, moving back into his childhood home with his widower father (and Myrtle the dog), suspended from his job (pending investigation of an incident in the underground vaults of Edinburgh) and writing a journal as part of his therapy from a counsellor as a means to coping better. Then the letter arrives from Christie, inviting them to a reunion of sorts, what can she possibly want Cameron there for? Can he face her after what happened all those years ago? Have Tommo and Bex been invited too? There is so much I could say about this story, but I really don't want to give away too much and spoil the book for others. The writing style of this novel is good, the jumping back and forth between 1986 and present time is done really well, it gives so much information about Cameron as a young man at university and the group of friends he has, and explains a lot of why things have turned out as they have. For me, none of the characters are particularly likeable, they are all at one point or another needing taken aside, shaken and told to "buck up" - but this is very realistic in many ways, how many times do we do things, say things, act in ways that make us annoying to others, naive or just plain stupid? For someone to make characters like that it's very good writing in my opinion, it's easy to write loveable characters, but to create ones that are difficult to like seems a lot harder (maybe I'm wrong?). There is a fine line between doing things for the right reason and doing things for the wrong reason, and this novel explore that well. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys Fiction, Chick Lit, it would also make a good holiday read. I would like to thank Legend Press for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book will be published on 1st October 2015 . A copy can be purchased here Bright Stars (Kindle UK Version).
Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. - Thomas Jefferson Cameron Sparks is from Edinburgh, Scotland and is the narrator/protagonist of this story. In earlier times he was rather dweebish/nerdish so it is surprising (to him) that when he goes away to Lancaster University in England, he makes three cool friends - Ptolemy aka Tommo, a hopeful rock star; Bex, an activist that Cameron falls into unrequited love with; and Christie, coming from a rich Canadian wine family. Then a terrible accident happens and time shifts 25 years into the future in the story. And for the first time since the accident, the four are getting together again. Characterization was excellent in this story. I didn't particularly care for any of the characters, even Cameron, and he was the most sympathetic character of the four. But I was drawn into the tale, wanting to know what happened next. And I was able to visualize each of the characters easily with the in-depth descriptions given by author Duffy. The pacing of the story was well done, shifting back and forth between the 1980s and current day events. Mystery, romance, drama, humor - all packed in a well written story about friendship, honesty, mistakes, and ghosts from the past. NOTE: I received this book from Legend Press through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.
Bright Stars is about four people who became friends at university and their lives become intertwined one fateful evening in 1986. The story is narrated by Cameron Sparks in the form of his journal; it takes place in the present day, and during his time at university 25 years earlier. Cameron Sparks is 46 years old and his life is spiralling out of control. He has been suspended from his job as a Ghost Tour guide in the underground vaults in Edinburgh. He is separated from his wife and is living back at home with his dad. Then one day a letter arrives out of the blue from Christie, a Canadian girl he knew during his university days. This takes the story back to 1986 when Cameron was an awkward, cripplingly shy teenager trying to find his way at university. He finds a friend in Christie, and then by chance also becomes friends with wannabe rock star, Tommy, and he falls head over heels in unrequited love with Bex, a feminist activist. The unlikely foursome spend their time getting drunk, listening to or making music and attempting to be activists. Then one fateful night an accident happens and it changes everything. None of the characters in this book are particularly likeable, they all have such flaws but it makes the novel so very readable. Tommo always seems to land on his feet, trouble finds him but he manages to shake it off over and over again. Bex is very focused on her causes, like being a sab, and then when she and Tommo get together her life becomes about him. Cameron is not a bad person, he’s just easily led because he so badly wants to feel like part of the crowd but it’s often hard to like him in the early part of the novel because he appears so feeble. Christie is probably the nicest of the group but is the one we seemed to get to know the least as Cameron wasn’t as fixated on her as he was on Tommo and Bex. No one won on the fateful night when everything changed in the lives of these four but some of them lost more than others. This novel has such a depth to it, and has been going round and round in my head since I finished reading it. I’m finding it hard to review because there is so much I want to say but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. This novel is really about the fine line between good and bad. About how everyone has to take responsibility for the things they do and if they don’t it will catch up with them in some form or another. There are some people who take, or are given, more than their share of blame and heartache and still spend a large part of their lives trying to come to terms with that, and perhaps punishing others rather than the ones they know who should be punished. It is ultimately a novel about how the ghosts of the past are doomed to haunt us, about how redemption never comes in the way we expect it and how karma doesn’t run an exact course. I rated this book 9 out of 10 and highly recommend this novel. I received this book from Legend Press on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Bright Stars is released on 1st October and is available for pre-order now from Amazon.
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed The Generation Game, I love this author's use of well-dripped nostalgia into her storylines. An intriguing read with lots of light and shade and a cast of unlikely friends who are difficult to like, yet who are all strangely engaging.
Cameron Sparks is a quiet shy boy from Edinburgh, the first of his family to go to University. At Lancaster he makes some unlikely friends in Tommo, Bex and Christie and while he falls in love with Bex immediately she is besotted with Tommo the rich boy who wants to be a pop star. Tommo is involved with drugs and alcohol while Cameron does neither, in fact he is a bit of a wimp but we understand his as his is the voice that takes us through the book. The story shifts between two time frames following Cameron as a university student in 1986 and then forwards to 2013 where the adult has separated from his wife and probably lost his job as well and moves back in with his father. A letter from Christie the rich Canadian brings the friends together again in London and stirs up memories and emotions from their student days and the horrific accident that changed their lives. . But has enough time passed to recover from the lies, the guilt, and the mistakes made on that tragic night? Beautifully written our affection for Cameron is intrinsic to the narrative but I struggled to relate to the two girls whose characters seemed sketchy. May because they were seem through the perspective of a male unable to understand the female psyche – an interesting angle from a woman writer. I became immersed in the story and while there were chunks which I felt were difficult to navigate, I really enjoyed the book and read it quickly and with much interest. I think Sophie Duffy has plenty more to offer as an author and I shall follow her career.
Cameron is struggling through life. He never really stands up for himself. He was a nerdy student and by accident he became friends with Bex, Tommo and Christie. They are all very different characters, not very nice ones. But somehow they formed a friendship. Until a tragic accident happened, after that they lost contact. Now, 25 years later Christie offers them a reunion. This book is more like a journal. Cameron was told by his therapist, that he should write everything down what happened. The story springs back and for. The first half is more a about the time at the university, how they met and how they became so unlikely friends. We learn about the accident and how it changed their lives forever. Cameron was the first of his family to go to university. First he met Bex and fell in love with her. Cameron idealized her a bit. She is not very nice, she is egoistic and as soon as she meets Tommo, everything is all about for her. Later Cameron meets Christie and they became friends. He brings them all together. Beeing students, they go to lectures and they have fun. Tommo is a wannabe rock star and he drinks and takes drugs. Switching forward to 46 year old Cameron we meet him on the edge of losing his job. His wife already left him because she wants a baby and he doesn’t. He moves back to his childhood home with his widowed father. He receives this letter from Christie. She owns a winery in Canada and she launches her vine in the UK. She invites him to come to London and meet her. Bex and Tommo are also invited. Their reunion starts as if nothing ever happened and no time passed by. But this tragic accident is hanging like a dark cloud above them. But soon they begin to come to terms with the past. The book is very well written. The characters are all unique and well developed. They are all not very likable, they all have their flaws. But they are all very realistic. I asked myself many times why they are all friends. They are so unlikely. Their lives are all haunted by the ghost of the past. At the end it comes more or less to and an “all ends well” conclusion. But I think this is for us readers to be happy and satisfied. I liked this book and enjoyed reading it very much.
A fun and enjoyable story with plenty of heart. This was a lighter story than I expected but I did enjoy it. I would recommend this to readers who usually enjoy chick lit and are looking for something a little bit different.
This was a fantastically moving story involving four people who became friends at university in the 1980's. A strange bunch, who come together mostly by accident, they find themselves muddling along together, until tragedy strikes and they are sent their separate ways. 25 years later, and Cameron Sparks is struggling to hold his life together. His job is on the line, his wife has left him, he is living back home with his dad and still struggling to come to terms with the outcome of the tragedy. Then an invitation arrives from Christie, one of the university four, and a dilemma surfaces. Can he face the old gang and finally put his demons to bed? Wonderful writing made this book a pure joy to read. The characters were so interesting and the plot involving. I just loved Cameron, that person for whom life never seems to offer a break, and really enjoyed that the story is narrated through him. A very good read, and if you enjoy this then I recommend her book 'This Holey Life', which I liked even more.
I was absolutely sucked into this book from the beginning. I actually thought this would be a chick lit novel because of the cover and title, but I was pleasantly surprised. I wouldn’t say that I liked any of the characters much, but I think I was hooked by the two incidents that Cameron keeps referring to throughout the novel – one incident during his university years and the other in his more recent working life. When the details of both are revealed, the story takes a sharp turn and I can honestly say that I didn’t expect the story to pan out how it did. It kept me on my toes and that’s when I know that the book that I’m reading is worth reading. Also, any story involving Edinburgh and a protagonist that can rock a kilt, is a must read for me. If you’re looking for one of those stories that suck you in and you don’t want to get emotionally attached to characters – you would probably like this book.
Gritty and real, ‘Bright Stars’ was a refreshing, (and recognisable!) insight into the lives of four university students and how their lives intertwined. Cameron Sparks, a painfully shy Scotsman from Edinburgh moves to Lancaster University and forms an unlikely friendship with three other students; Tommo the charming rockstar-in-waiting; Christie, a wealthy Canadian; and Bex, outspoken activist and the love of Cameron’s life. Against the odds the four friends become virtually inseparable despite their differences in background, experience and expectations. They share the good times and the bad, soured somewhat for Cameron by the bond that develops between Bex, the girl he loves, and self-centred Tommo, the good for nothing wastrel who Cameron feels treats her very badly. Nevertheless, the four remain friends until a tragic car accident, the circumstances around which tears them apart. Jumping time sequences between past and present we follow Cameron through his adult life as he looks back on the past in preparation for the future; a reunion with his three lost friends, including Christie who has travelled across from Canada to see them. Old grievances resurface and the four are forced to confront the event that has stood between them for all these years. Told with humour and sensitivity, ‘Bright Stars’ is a very real story about life which I thoroughly enjoyed. I give ‘Bright Stars’ 4 our of 5 bright stars!
We are back to the 1980's here were there are four lads at Uni. Each of the lads are very different in character and make up, which I sometimes wondered how they merged together as a friend unit, but they do say that Opposites attract right? This story goes back and forth to the time in Uni to present day events, gradually leading us up into the 'now'. We learn about a tremendous tragedy and they each go their separate ways. One of those lads..Cameron Sparks is now 25 years old, he's lost his wife, job is on the line and he has to move back with his Dad. He still hasn't got his head around the tragedy he's recently learnt. What a blow... Anyway, a letter arrives, or should I say, an Invitation from one of the others he knew back in the day..Christie. He has a dilemma now, does he go? Or should he leave the past where it is and build on what he has left? This is a heart rending, sometimes emotional read for poor old Cameron, he surely needs a break in his life for some good to happen. A well written story that kept my attention through out. My thanks to ^Legend Press and Net Galley for my copy^
In 1986 Cameron Sparks started uni as a shy awkward teenager who found it hard to communicate and make friends, but along came Christie, Tommo and Bex. An unlikely foursome but they live as students - getting drunk and into the music scene until an accident happens that changes everything. In 2001 Cameron's life is still not on track - he has been suspended from his job as a ghost buster, separated from his wife and at his age having to go back to live with his Dad! Then out of the blue a letter arrives from Christie inviting him to a reunion - are they all going and can he face them after all these years and have they all moved on. A good story that makes a nice change from the normal predictable stories. I didnt particularly take to the characters but that didnt detract in any way from the story so would definitely recommend it
This story strongly reminded me of a 21st century Brideshead Revisted - but in a good way. Set on a university campus in the 1980's, it is written from the point of view of the clumsy, likeable, working class Cameron, who lives in the glittering shadow of his fellow student, Tommo, a manipulative, charismatic and privileged aspiring rock star. Tommo's personal magnetism and wanton disregard for the welfare of the people who love him leads inevitably to tragedy and ruined lives all around; but suffice to say that when we meet the characters again in the present day he remains the sort of bloke who can still get away with wearing skinny jeans at the age of 46 without being laughed at by his teenage kids; such is his enduring glamour and star quality. This is a very readable and engaging novel. The characters and settings are well drawn and believable. I would definitely recommend this book and look forward to reading more from the author. Many thanks to the Legend Press and NetGalley for allowing me to review it.
I think what attracted me most to this book was the fact of the friends being friends through decades, but still being there for each other. I have friends I made at school, and 30 years later we are still friends, talking to each other on a daily basis and being part of each other's lives. Cameron is the glue that keeps the friendship group together and after some difficulty at work, he moves back home. He then receives a letter from an old university friend Christie. Christie, Tommo and Bex were his best friends 25 years ago, and he thoroughly enjoyed his university lives together. An accident changes this friendship forever, and they scatter apart. This part reminded me of the "I know what you did last summer" movie series. Unfortunately secrets only stay secret for so long. Throughout the book I was waiting to see how the book unfolds and how the friends come together. This was a very warm and nice read, and I really recommend it for anyone who would like something out of their normal genre
I adored this book. I think what drew me in was the fact that these people met in school and kept the friendships going for over 30 yrs. I have been very lucky having this with alot of my friends. The friend are pulled back together when tragedy happens. This book was well written and the characters are likeable.
With marital troubles and losing his job Cameron moves back in with his father. He receives a letter from Canada, Christie an old friend who along with a gang of four all parted on bad terms due to a tragedy. This is an emotional tale, love and friendship bring this fantastic read to life. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was sad when I finished it The author is an amazing storyteller and the characters are a joy to know. They are all perfectly 'real' and as the story weaved by the narration of Camerons journal I just felt more and more for all involved tremendous