Book A Day Challenge – June 2014

Book A Day

At the beginning of the month The Borough Press tweeted this photograph to get book enthusiasts (and you know, regular people) to think about the books that they have loved or had recommended to them or books that they haven’t managed to finish (you get the picture). Due to the phenomenal response of this project they have issued a July photograph. For now, here are my June picks. I hope you enjoy. #BookadayUK

01 The Worst Witch1st Favourite book from childhood

I had a lot of favourite books from childhood. In particular, I loved the Sweet Valley Twins/High and Babysitter Club series but one of the books I loved most as a child was The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy. Before Hogwarts we had Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. I loved following Mildred Hubble’s misadventures as she faced arch nemesis Ethel Hallow under the watchful eye of Miss Hardbroom. She is the classic underdog.

 

 

02 A Million Little Pieces2nd Best bargain

The best bargain book I have ever bought is A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. This is one of those book moments that I think every book lover experiences when they see a book cover but they forget the title and author name. I went to several different book stores asking for a book with a white cover speckled with what appears to be metallic ticker tape. No one could help me. However, I knew one day I would find it. Whilst looking for a second hand bookshelf I magically saw it sitting on a shelf. This bad boy (which is a fantastic read by the way) cost me the grand total of 20 English pence.

 

03 Citadel3rd One with a blue cover

I have several books with a blue cover but this has to be one of my favourites. Citadel by Kate Mosse is the third book of the Languedoc trilogy and if you have not read it before, and are planning to, then be warned it is a blood bath. A brilliant read though.

 

 

04 David Copperfield4th Least favourite book by favourite author

I don’t know if I have many favourite authors. I love JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series but she has three other books that I haven’t read. I don’t think I have read every book that a particular author has released. So for this one I am going to select David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. The other Dickens books that I have read I love; I would go so far as to class Great Expectations as one of my favourite books but David Copperfield just didn’t do it for me.

 

05 The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse5th Doesn’t belong to me

A book that I have that doesn’t belong to me is Robert Rankin’s The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse. This book technically belongs to my boyfriend but I should confess now that I don’t intend to give it back to him. Not because I particularly liked the book. In fact, it was possibly the strangest book I have ever read and was at time bat crap crazy but I am a sentimental person and I have found a man that will indulge my love of literature…no matter how obscure and random that the book is.

 

06 The Naughty Girls Book Club6th The one I always give as a gift

Lately, the book that I have given as a gift is The Naughty Girls Book Club by Sophie Hart. For most book people that I know the escapism that a good chick-lit book can give is immeasurable. The moment that I finished this book (which I owned in Kindle format) I automatically bought it for my mother. I knew she would love it. For days whenever we would bump into each other at home (which by my description may seem massive with various cavities so the likely hood of us meeting would be slim but in reality is a 3 bedroom ex-council house) she would tell me where she was up to, which character she loved, what she thought would happen next. I love that my mother and I have that bond through books. Since she finished the book we have both bought it several times over for our friends; friends that have fallen in love with the story too.

07 Carry You7th Forgot I owned it

This one goes to Carry You by Beth Thomas. It is strange that I should forget this because it is a relatively new book having only been released recently. However, I pre-ordered it on my kindle and when I was out shopping one day I bought a physical copy of it having completely forgotten that I already had it. Ah well, you snooze you lose.

 

 

08 The Godess Experience8th Have more than one copy

I have two copies of The Goddess Experience by Gisele Scanlon. In my defence, they have two different covers but I just love this book. If I were to ever write a book I would want it to be like this.

 

 

09 Trainspotting9th Film or TV tie-in

I love Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. I also love the books sequel, Porno; since that hasn’t been made into a film (yet) it doesn’t count. I first read Trainspotting in high school. I borrowed it from the staff section of the school library that I, being a senior librarian at the time, had privileges to. It was too advanced for me at the tender and innocent age of fourteen, however, I gave it another attempt a few years later and whilst I still found it out of my usual book comfort zone I was entranced. I had never read a book that had been written entirely in Scottish dialect. I love this book and therefore have both a physical copy and a kindle edition.

 

10 The Railway Children10th Reminds me of someone I love

The book that reminds me of someone that I love has to be The Railway Children by E Nesbitt. This book reminds me of my boyfriend (not that I am likely to forget him). He and I live a million miles (well approximately 240 miles to be less dramatic) away from each other and so we are doing the long distance thing. There are constant train journeys involved so for Valentine’s Day 2014 he bought me the Folio Society’s edition of this book. It is gorgeous and it makes me smile every time I see it on my bookshelf.

 

11 The Prisoner of Heaven11th Second hand bookshop gem

I am going to choose The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon as my second hand bookshop gem; mainly because I love Zafon’s books. I would be more than willing to pay full price for his books which are so full of atmosphere and mystique but I recently found this one in a charity shop’s book section and didn’t hesitate in picking it up. Read Carlos Ruiz Zafon!

 

 

12 Little Women12th I pretend to have read it

I don’t think I have ever pretended to read a book before. I’m the kind of person that if someone starts talking about a book that I haven’t read then my interest is piqued and I go and buy the book. However, there is a book that I can’t remember if I have read or not. This is because the story is so well known that I can’t seem to determine if I know it from hearsay or from actually sitting with the paperback and devouring the story myself. That book is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I think that a timely reading of the classic is in order.

 

13 Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging13th Makes me laugh

One of the books that always manages to make me laugh is Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. I first read it when I was a teenager and sadly I empathised too well with the protagonist, Georgia and found the embarrassing situations that she found herself in rather too familiar.

 

 

14 A Walk To Remember14th An old favourite

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks is definitely an old favourite of mine. I’m going to be quite controversial here. I don’t like The Notebook. I don’t fancy Ryan Gosling. I just don’t get why girls go crazy over him. I think out of the two books that A Walk to Remember has the better story. It is certainly much more heartbreaking.

 

 

15 Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging15th Favourite fictional father

It would have to be Georgia’s dad in the Angus Thong series. He was so hapless and a source of all things funny.

 

 

 

16 Derby Girl16th Can’t believe more people haven’t read it

One of my favourite books is Derby Girl by Shauna Cross. I have always wanted to be part of the roller derby and this book is the basis for the movie Whip It, starring Ellen the delightful Page and whilst people have seen the film they may not know that it is based on a book. It is, in my opinion, the best book to movie transformation that I have ever seen.

 

 

17 One Day17th Future classic

A bookish friend and I were talking one day and she had asked me if I had read this book called One Day. I told her that I hadn’t and she begged me to keep my eye out for it because I would love it. I thought nothing more of it for a while and then one day (see what I did there?) I was in a shop and I saw this bright orange cover which intrigued me and I realised it was the book she was talking about. I picked it up and started it that day. It consumed me. I got completely lost in the pages to the point that when I had to go out and meet friends the book came with me and rather rudely whenever they left the table to go to the bar or the bathroom I would get the book out and read it. The writing is gorgeous and the story is heartbreakingly lovely. This will be one that in 20 years time people will still be recommending.

18 Bugs in Writing18th Bought on a recommendation

I bought BUGS in Writing on the recommendation of my boyfriend. He frequently gets frustrated by my excessive use of commas. My grammar is generally ok but there are times when I do punctuate willy-nilly or equally, not at all. I would recommend this one to anyone who is trying to get to grips with grammar.

 

 

19 Me Before You19th Still can’t stop talking about it

I was given a book by a friend called Claire who told me to read it. She told me that it wasn’t your traditional love story but to give it a go. Now the copy she had given me wasn’t attractive. It was bevelled from being dropped in the bath so I put it on my bookshelf and thought nothing more of it.

A few weeks later my friend Hannah was recommending a book to me and she was still distraught over it. That book was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I realised I had it and so with two recommendations I decided to give it a read. Oh my wow. It has been two years since I have read it and even now I still find it heartbreaking. I couldn’t read the last 80 pages for the tears. That is some damn fine writing that can still pull on your heart and still resonate two years later. It also inspired me to read more songs by Jojo Moyes.

20 The Perks of Being a Wallflower20th Favourite cover

I really love the cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It is sad to say it, but we all do judge a book by its cover and there are books that I will sniff at because I don’t like the cover. Stephen Chbosky’s book is fabulous and the cover is gorgeous. I love the punched title and the colours. I just love it. It was why I bought the book several years ago. Long before the movie which I have yet to watch.

 

 

21 Written in the Stars21st Summer read

My summer read is going to be Written in the Stars by Ali Harris. I plan on reading it as part of book blogger @EmmaIsWriting’s #Sunathon which takes place between 21st – 27th July.

 

 

22 The Neverending Story22nd Out of print

I have recently bought Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story. I had to buy it second hand as I think it is now out of print. I have never read the book but I loved the movie and it still terrifies me to this day. I am fascinated with stories set in bookshops or libraries which this is. I am also looking forward to seeing how the book differs from the movie.

 

 

23 Talking in Whispers23rd Made to read at school

I read Talking in Whispers for my GCSE’s and I was blown away by it. Even now I remember how much it took me out of my reading comfort zone. It still resonates now.

 

 

24 Sweet Valley Twins24th Hooked me in to reading

I actually can’t remember what book that hooked me into reading. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t either read or was read to. I suppose that the Sweet Valley books and the Babysitters Club books were the first set of books that I read avidly.

 

 

25 Anna Karenina25th Never finished it

I am ashamed to say that I never made it all the way through Anna Karenina.  I have been up to Book 12 since I was 16. That’s almost 15 years. Jeepers. I have promised Andy Miller, the writer of A Year of Reading Dangerously that I will start it from the beginning and this time I will finish it. The thing is I liked the story but the book about the love of fields was a tad bit tedious.

 

 

26 Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone26th Should have sold more copies

I’m going to throw in a bit of an odd choice here. I think the Harry Potter series should have sold more copies. Yes I know it is one of the bestselling book series of all time but damn it more people should give it a read. I can name a few people who haven’t and it still shocks me. Viva la Harry Potter.

 

 

27 Meant to Be27th Want to be one of the characters

I was asked by a friend for a list of books that I wanted for Christmas and I had been secretly eyeing Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill. I like YA fiction, but I like it even more when I fall in love with the characters. I wanted to be Julia. I wanted to go out with Jason. I wanted to have Oh Darling! by The Beatles sung at me in an abandoned place in London covered with graffiti. It is such a damn good book. Read it!

 

28 Porno28th Bought at my fave independent bookshop

In Liverpool we have an Oxfam Bookshop and I recently bought Porno by Irvine Welsh from there. I love Irvine Welsh books, the injection of humour around hard hitting topics always keep me entertained.

 

 

29 Jane Eyre29th The one I have reread most often

I have read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte on several occasions. The first time I read it was because my English teacher (and now friend) Shirley recommended it to me. It was probably the first classic that I had ever read. I have since read it as part of my degree (English Literature and Cultural History combined with Media and Cultural Studies) and each time I just get lost in the story. I think that you know a good story when you can keep coming back to it over and over again and falling in love with it all over again.

 

30 The Grimmerie30th Would save if my house burned down

The honour of this book goes to The Grimmerie. It is the accompanying book to Wicked the musical. I did not like the book Wicked by Gregory Maguire. It was too twisty and warped for my liking; this didn’t stop me watching the sequel Son of a Witch. However, the musical is fantastic and such a clever premise that completely usurps your belief in the Wizard of Oz. The Grimmerie is fabulous and is tangible exciting with its puffed out cover and gorgeous photography. I love it.

 

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A Month in the Life of a Book Addict

Hello. My name is Lisa Bentley and I am a book addict.

Ok, so this isn’t new or groundbreaking reportage but I just wanted to share with you all the extent of this addiction.

I suppose the best way to describe my attitude toward books is gluttonous. I see books and I want them, not enough to fill m up and feel comfortably full. Oh no. That would be far too easy. I want them all. I am a slave to the “Buy with 1-Click” button; my first stop in any shop is the book section. I constantly have an inner turmoil happening, telling myself that I don’t need the book but damn it, I want it.

So I decided to look at my book purchases this month. It consisted of Kindle purchases, NetGalley downloads and the classic physical copy, both purchased and those I have borrowed from the library. Here goes:

 

Kindle Purchases

Empire Girls by Suzanne Hayes

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

Cigarettes and Alcohol by Phil Sloan

Bridal Bootcamp by Bella Bailey

Effortless With You by Lizzy Charles

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

When Alice met Danny by TA Williiams

Love Always, Kate by D Nichole King

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green

The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

Make it Count by Megan Erikson

Desperately Ever After by Laura Kenyon

Soy Sauce for Beginners by Kristen Chen

The Trouble with Knights in Shining Armour by Valerie Anne Baglietto

Ice Cream at Carrington’s by Alexandra Brown

The One Before the One by Katy Regan

Written in the Stars by Ali Harris

Fan by Danny Rhodes

Reasons not to Fall in Love by Kirsty Mosely

Structuring Your Novel by KM Weiland

500 Ways to Write Harder by Chuck Wendig

One Night in Italy by Lucy Diamond

Write Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell

Writers block by Judith Flanders

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan

Melo Hearts by Ella Marie

The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris by Evie Gaughan

The Dating Experiment by Jennifer Eddlund

The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me by Lucy Robinson

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Coffee Cigarettes and Crisis by Jana Misho

Legacy of Love by Louise Pakeman

Lotties Luck by Amanda Egan

Me Without You by Kellly Rimmer

Don’t Even Think About it by Sarah Mlynowski

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nikolas Butler

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

The Reluctant Celebrity by Laurie Ellingham

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Stupid Girl by Cindy Miles

Butter by Erin Lange

Ghostwritten by Isabel Wolff

Amy and Matthew by Cammie McGovern

Styling Wellywood by Late O’Keefe

Half Bad by Sally Green

The Etymologican by Mark Forsyth

The Truth about the Harry Querbert Affair b Joel Dicker

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

The Breakup Doctor by Phoebe Fox

L’Amour Actually by Melanie Jones

A Part of Me by Anouska Knight

Are You Happy Now by Richard Babcock

Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O’Porter

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Kingdom Collection by Marie Hall

The Unpredictable Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell

Nerd Girl by Sue Lee

Since You’ve Been Gone by Anouska Knight

What’s A Girl to Do by Aimee Duffy

A French Girl in New York by Ana Adams

Life in a Rut, Love not Included by JD Hollyfield

There’s More to Life Than Cupcakes by Poppy Dolan

The Magpies by Mark Edwards

The High Street Bride’s Guide by Samantha Birch

Amanda’s Wedding by Jenny Colgan

 

Library Books

Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma by Kerry Hudson

In Between Days by Andrew Porter

Last Bus to Coffeeville

Note To Self by Alina Simone

Submarine by Joe Dunhome

Youth In Revolt by CD Payne

60 Postcards by Rachael Chadwick

I Slept With Joey Ramone by Mickey Leigh

A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchinson

Havisham by Ronald Frame

Stuff I’ve Been Reading by Nick Hornby

Ziggyology: A Brief History of Ziggy Stardust by Simon Goddard

 

NetGalley Downloads

The Final Testamony of Ralph Ignatious Phoenix by Paul Sussman

Only With You by Cecelia Gray

The Broken Heart Diet by Tom Formaro

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

Yours for Eternity by Damien Echols

One Two Three by Elodie Nowodazkij

Love Lies and Lemon Cake by Sue Watson

Facing the Music by Tim Thorogood

Apart At The Seams by Melissa Ford

A Gift to Remember by Melissa Hill

Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan

Liberty Silk by Kate Beaufoy

How We Deal With Gravity by Ginger Scott

First Tango in Paris by Shelley Thrasher

Before You by Amber Hart

The Atlas of Us by Tracy Buchanan

Where Love Lies by Julie Cohen

Between the Lives by Jessica Shrivington

Your Beautiful Lies by Louise Douglas

It Had To Be You by Ellie Adams

These Days Are Ours by Melissa Himoff

Mademoiselle by Rhonda K Garlick

Chelsea Bird by Virginia Ironside

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

 

Physical Books

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Pitch Perfect by Mickey Rapkin

The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

All That Glitters by Pearl Lowe

Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Maxwell

Love Is A Mixtape by Rob Sheffield

Looking at the amount I feel a little bit sick. Holy crap. Anywho, my pledge to myself is to not buy any more until I have read the majority of the books on this list. The reasons for this are simple. It is costing me a fortune and also I am running out of space on my kindle.

If anyone can think of any aversion therapy that they think may help with my addiction please do get in contact.

Review: Since Forever Ago by Olivia Besse

Riley has just found out that her boyfriend Noah has been cheating on her. Don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler. It happens on the very first page, heck it happens on the blurb. So like any girl in her early twenties she falls upon her band of friends for support to get her through this difficult time.

Her friends, Liz and Audrey ply her with alcohol and good times and chorus about how much of a douche bag Noah is. Her lifelong friend Max sees this as the perfect opportunity to make Riley fall in love with him. Max has loved her since they were children but never had the chance to act on his feelings but now his time has finally come. The only problem is will Riley reciprocate those feelings?

I knew what this book was going to be before I opened the first page. This is not a bad thing. There is a strange comfort in knowing how a story is going to pan out. What I was not expecting was for this classic tale of boy/girl romantic comedy to play out before my very eyes in such a fresh and relevant way. Besse has clearly got her finger on the pulse of NA fiction. The writing was sharp, witty and fast paced. The characters were likable – especially the female characters – with believable interactions bouncing between them.

I did at times feel that the story was heavily reliant on dialogue; however that also led me to the conclusion that this story would play out really well on-screen. If this book isn’t made into a movie I think it would be a crying shame.

I, for one, cannot wait to read more of Olivia Besse’s writing.

Since Forever Ago by Olivia Besse is available now.

SinceForeverAgo

Review: The Stonehenge Letters by Harry Karlinsky

Have you ever wondered how Stonehenge happened to become Stonehenge? This mystical circle of stones has fascinated people for as long as it records began. It is this mystery that is the forefront of Harry Karlinsky’s book The Stonehenge Letters.

The story is told from through various correspondences all linking back to Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel prizes. And what sometimes reads as a factual text is in fact a fictional interpretation of events.

Firstly, let me say I really enjoyed this book. I was fascinated by the facts that were included and intrigued by the question of Stonehenge’s existence and indeed the thought processes of the people who tried to pose possible answers to this mystery – the likes of Madame Curie and Rudyard Kipling among others. However, I did become completely discombobulated by the mixture of fact and fiction. The Stonehenge Letters reads like fact but it is fiction. You have to adjust your way of reading and accepting the information given.

Furthermore, the tenuous link to Freud seemed misplaced. Initially it is given as a bit of backs story into the research of Nobel prize nominees but it goes no further than that and could have probably been omitted without consequence to the rest of the story.

If you take this book as it is, a fictional account of a historical figure then you will find the facts and information entertaining. However, I personally feel more could have been made of this book had it been presented more like a fictional text.

The Stonehenge Letters by Harry Karlinsky is available now.

stonehenge-letters-cover-cdn-500

Review: Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth

Imagine what it would be like to have to constantly choose between your fiancé and your soul mate. This is the ever present predicament for Laura Joyce. She is engaged to Jim, dependable, clever and creative yet her best friend (and resident wild child) Tyler keeps pulling her to the dark (and arguably more fun) side.

The lifestyles chosen by Tyler and Jim couldn’t be more different and whilst Laura should be a natural balance between the both of them things just do not work out that way. When Laura is with Tyler she becomes party to a lifestyle of decadence; a Valhalla of drama, drink and drugs – all of which she overindulges in.

Then there is her life with Jim. She almost becomes a different person; Laura enjoys his stability and his assuredness; all the kind of things that Tyler despises, and she makes her feelings known.

You do get the sense that Laura feels that she is dependent on Tyler that she needs her yet as the story reaches its conclusion you realise it is the complete opposite. Tyler needs somebody, anybody really, just justify her antics. Animals shows us how friendships, even the closest say-things-with-a-look-and-finish-each-others-sentences friendships are not always the healthiest things. It also reminds us that growing up is not the harshest thing to ever happen.

Personally, I felt that Animals is a story about choices. I found myself urging Laura to make the right choice, to not go to another reckless party with Tyler or to not take any of the emotional blackmail that Jim threw her way and as the story develops we watch Laura unfold in front of us and grow into the most rational of the characters. She takes the better elements of Jim and Tyler and forms a better version of herself.

Overall, I would say this is one of the funniest books that I have read all year. I do feel that the translation of the humour comes from the fact that I identified with both Laura and Tyler due to their station in life. They both are growing older but aren’t quite sure how to actually grow up…gracefully at least. It is another literary triumph from Unsworth.

Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth is available now.

animals

Review: Never Google Heartbreak by Emma Garcia

Vivienne Summers has been engaged to Rob Walters for five years….well sort of. See the thing with Rob is that he is a little bit unsure of marriage. He has already cancelled the wedding twice before and now he is doing it again for the third time. That is three weddings to cancel, three dresses to return and three times to have to pick up the pieces. Vivienne has had enough. This time she calls Rob’s bluff and walks away from him. It is ok though. She knows that once he realises what he is missing he will come crawling back to her and things will be ok again.

Imagine Vivienne’s surprise when Rob starts dating someone else. Searching for answers, Vivienne turns to the almighty oracle that is Google (seriously, what did we do before Google) looking for ways to win back her lost love.

With a band of merry helper friends – Lucy, Christie and Max – surrounding her Vivienne’s search for the true meaning of love and heartbreak begins.

I had wanted to read this book for a long time. I admit the allure of the pretty cover was the main thing that piqued my interest. I also thought the concept of ‘Googling’ for answers on heartbreak was quite inventive. In our fast-forward society we know that most answers are a finger click away so why shouldn’t the answers to love be equally as easy to find.

I have to admit that when I first started reading the story I was extremely put off by the character Vivienne. I didn’t like the way she tried to solve her problems; she came across as needy and undignified and a little bit selfish. I couldn’t warm to her. However, as the story and the character developed I found myself growing fond of her and also a little protective. Talking to the book and begging Vivienne not to make the mistakes she was inevitably going to make.

The story and the character development made the latter half of the book all the more enjoyable. However, the book was left unresolved (obviously because of the recently released sequel OMG Baby!) and I wanted more. I wanted to be there for the dramatic ending. Instead, we the reader are left with just a little bit of hope.

One thing I definitely came away from this book wanting was an Où est Max t-shirt.

Never Google Heartbreak by Emma Garcia is available now.

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Review: The Bookshop on the Corner by Rebecca Raisin

the bookshop on the cornerTitle: The Bookshop on the Corner

Author: Rebecca Raisin

Publisher: Carina UK

The Blurb

Who said that only real heroes could be found in fiction?

Sarah Smith had an addiction – she was addicted to romance novels. The meet-cute, the passion, the drama and the gorgeous men! Now this wouldn’t have been such an issue if she hadn’t been the owner of the only bookshop in Ashford, Connecticut.

Ever since her close friend Lil, from The Gingerbread Café, had become engaged she had been yearning for a little love to turn up in her life. Except Sarah knew a good man was hard to find – especially in a tiny town like Ashford. That was until New York journalist, Ridge Warner stepped into her bookshop…

Love could be just around the corner for Sarah, but will she be able to truly believe that happy-ever-after can happen in real-life too!

The Review

There is nothing in the world that Sarah Smith loves more than books. She loves the smell of them, the way you can get completely lost in a good book, the dog eared pages within a loved book; everything about them. It is no surprise that she owns her own second hand bookshop in her hometown of Ashdown, Connecticut.

However, Sarah has allowed herself to become closed off to the world. Rather than having her own boy adventures she would rather read about the fictional adventures of her favourite heroines instead. That is until Ridge Warner comes into her home town and sweeps her off her feet.

Ok. I’m just going to say it. I am not a fan of short stories. I feel that as a reader I am robbed of sweeping exposition and that I am not given enough time to fall in love with the characters. This very fact made The Bookshop on the Corner to be quite a pleasant surprise because I found myself rooting for the motley crew of people found in this fictional small town. However, whilst the story was sweet and very well delivered I still found that the constraints of the short story were extremely limiting.

Sarah and Ridge’s romance was so rushed that I felt that I didn’t really have time to enjoy it. The pragmatism of their relationship wasn’t fully developed enough for me. They had the initial banter, then they liked each other, then came the drama and then the resolution. It was all too machine-gun quick for my personal taste.

Part of me questions whether I feel this way because I haven’t read the two novellas that preceded The Bookshop on the Corner. Maybe the novellas would have worked better if they were all part of the one book rather than a series. I can’t fully determine that without having read them first. However, this is all my own personal taste and please do not let that put you off The Bookshop on the Corner. I did at times find myself wanting to be Sarah Smith. What book lover hasn’t dreamed of owning their own bookshop? I think part of me is just being glutinous and wanting more of this story because I genuinely did enjoy it I just personally feel that it would have benefitted (me) by being a full length novel.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Rebecca Raisin is available now.

3 Stars

 

Review: After I Left You by Alison Mercer

alison mercer after i left you 1Title: After I Left You

Author: Alison Mercer

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: Black Swan

The Blurb

Every broken heart has a history.

Anna hasn’t been back to Oxford since her last summer at university. She tries not to think about her time there, or the tightly knit group of friends she once thought would be hers forever. She has almost forgotten the sting of betrayal, the secret she carries around, the last night she spent with them all.

Then a chance meeting on a rainy day in London brings her past tumbling back into her present. . . Can Anna finally face up to the memories of that summer and the people she left behind?

An absorbing, powerful novel of love, friendship and secrets that sweeps you away from the very first page. The perfect read for fans of Lisa Jewell, Liane Moriarty and Jane Fallon.

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

Anna Jones is 18 years old and has been accepted into the prodigious Oxford University to read English. As she embarks on this new educational adventure she knows no one, she is shy and a little unsure of herself and she doesn’t seem to fit in with the elite circle of students compromised by Victor, Meg, Barnaby, Clarissa and Keith; that is until one day she is invited into the fold.

However, things – and people – aren’t necessarily all that they seem.

After I Left You is a story steeped in mystery and intrigue. It is told from two different time perspectives yet both from the protagonist Anna’s point of view. Throughout the novel Mercer maintains the suspense and keeps the reader wanting to read the next chapter to find out what is about to happen. She has created a wonderful cast of characters that you can love and hate in equal measure as she masterfully reveals their idiosyncratic quirks and traits.

What Mercer manages to do is give you a fly on the wall perspective of what life appears to be like in a prodigious college atmosphere. If I had to liken it to another book I would say that After I Left You has the same mood and allure of The Secret History but in a much more accessible way. The secrets and lies naturally draw you in as the lives of the privileged few eek out onto the page.

One thing that initially did take me by surprise was the speedy exposition. There is no gentle ride to the main drama of the story. From the first page you are thrown in. I wasn’t expecting that, however, on reflection I can see why this was necessary. Within the first few lines Anna is confronted with her past, a past that she has, up until now, managed to leave there. For me, this made the story more real. We didn’t get to wistfully become acquainted with Anna and then hit with a stumbling block; it all came as part of one big package. We learn about whom Anna is, her past and her present all at the same time.

This really is a wonderful read and the descriptive nature of Mercer’s writing paints a gorgeous picture. I am looking forward to reading other her other novels and seeing what else she is capable of.

After I Left You by Alison Mercer is available now.

3 Stars

 

Review: The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman

memory bookTitle: The Memory Book

Author: Rowan Coleman

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Ebury Press

The Blurb

The name of your first-born. The face of your lover. Your age. Your address…

What would happen if your memory of these began to fade?

Is it possible to rebuild your life? Raise a family? Fall in love again?

When Claire starts to write her Memory Book, she already knows that this scrapbook of mementoes will soon be all her daughters and husband have of her. But how can she hold on to the past when her future is slipping through her fingers…?

Original, heartwarming and uplifting, The Memory Book is perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

Meet Claire. She is in her 40s. She is married with two daughters, Caitlyn and Esther and she has early onset Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).

The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman is the heartbreaking story of Claire Armstrong who is battling with a degenerative illness that she has inherited from her father’s side of the family. Every day she wakes up unsure whether she will have a good or bad day; whether she will be lucid in the present or lingering in the past; whether or not her mind will be able to recognise her loved ones.

The multi-perspective story explores the debilitating effects of AD on not only the patient but also on the patient’s family and loved ones. We see how Ruth, Claire’s mother has to watch her daughter go through the same regression that her beloved husband went through before he succumb to the disease.

We watch Caitlyn as her life mimics her mother’s life when she was in her early 20s. Her struggle seems all the more brutal because she needs her mother now more than ever but only sees her own problems as an extra burden on a family already struggling under the weight of their circumstances.

And then there is Greg, Claire’s husband who watches his wife become a stranger on a daily basis. She forgets who he is, what connection he has to her and most hurtfully that he is the love of her life. Greg continually gets lost in the fog of Claire’s condition and it is truly heartbreaking.

I don’t claim to know a lot about Alzheimer’s Disease but what I do know is that it is a wretched disease not only for the person who has been diagnosed with it but also for their family. What Coleman has managed to do with such acute verisimilitude is to beautifully present a heartbreaking yet heart warming story of a family fighting to come to terms with a diagnosis that does not have a positive outcome. It is this skill and tenacity of storytelling that made this book a real eye-opener and a privilege to read. If you haven’t read this book then add it to your nightstand pile of books immediately.

The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman is available for purchase.

4 Stars

 

Ten Things that I Learnt from Grease 2

Ok. So this may be controversial to many people but I truly believe that Grease 2 is one of the greatest movies of all time. Ever. I don’t just mean better than Grease (although it evidently is way better than its predecessor) but better than most movies. By this I don’t mean that it is a technically brilliant film without laws or that the acting is in any way shape or form any good but it is one of those films, which for me, is just perfection. Here are the things that I learnt from watching Grease 2 and the many reasons why I love this movie.

1) I have learnt that singing the hearty chorus of Back to School will make you hate your employees if you work in a school but it will make going back after six week of being off for the summer that little bit more bearable. That “the board of education took away my parole” was the first reason that I decided that I had to hate “the man” – one could even argue that this is a political movie.

2) Not only is Grease 2 entertaining but it is educational too. My introduction into sex education came from the song Reproduction, and I learnt the grammatical rule for whom – “To who, to whom. To you that’s whom.” I also learnt that “certainer” isn’t a word but that more certain is the adequate way to quantify the word.

3) The correct way to intimidate rival gangs is to pull mean faces and to comb your hair.

grease_2_t_birds  Pink ladies

4) Bowling is a euphemism for sex. Yes, nothing is sexier than rental shoes.

5) A girl who bowls whilst wearing gold lamée leggings can cause a case of nymphoidmania to horny teenage boys. However, bowling without putting your fingers in the bowling ball holes will save the girl from breaking her nails.

6) Talking about comic books with popular girls will probably not make them fall in love with you but if you pretend to be something that you are not AKA a Cool Rider you will probably win her heart…but leave the superhero talk for when you get to know each other better.

7) All earthquakes are caused by Biker Boys. You’re gonna know it when he gets there because the ground…it will be shaking.

8) Anyone who plays a red hot accordion probably won’t win a talent show.

9) I also learnt that unless you are in one of the two cool gangs in school you are going to get a shockingly bad set design for your talent show. I’ve also learnt that you can be in a motorcycle or be a motorcycle gang bangers girlfriend but no rival gang will mess with you about being in a talent show.

10) Even if you have a mental breakdown on stage and ruin your girl group’s song and essentially their chances to win a talent competition, there is no need to fret. You will still win the competition…mainly because your teachers will fear gang related rioting. Let me explain…

Ok, in the pivotal scene of Grease 2, Stephanie Zinoni waits outside the school on the night of the talent show for her Cool Rider whose name she still doesn’t know and whom she still hasn’t guessed is actually the geeky exchange student from England, Michael Carrington – mainly due to his new devil in skin tight leathers look, motorbike and safety goggles.

grease2-1 disguise

As he approaches Rydal High the T-Birds see him and threaten that this time they are going to get him. They give chase and Stephanie grabs the Pink Ladies who then start following the T-Birds. Whilst in the car following the T-Birds, Pink Lady Sharon worries that she will die wearing her mother’s underwear. Wearing your mother’s underwear is never acceptable.

Sadly, Michael Carrington AKA The Cool Rider is driven off the road into a dangerous ditch believed never to be seen again. Paulette tries to reassure Stephanie that Mr Cool Rider will be ok because he jumped over a car at the Bowl-A-Rama and that was a really big jump.

We get to see a few acts on the talent show that all have demonstrably crap sets but when the T-Birds perform they blow the audience away with the mediocre and misogynist song. But wait, don’t hand over that prize just yet. The girls, lead by the Pink Ladies own Sharon, perform A Girl for All Seasons. This should have been the winning performance. However, midway through the song Stephanie Zinoni (who is the girl for December and is currently dressed as a Christmas tree) is overcome with grief and stops singing mid-song. Seemingly she has forgotten the words. The shock of the sudden (and supposed) death of the Cool Rider has sent her into a musical catatonia and the chanteuse breaks out into her own song – (Love Will) Turn Back the Hands of Time.

Grease-2-grease-2-6068240-1600-900 christmas

Ok, so I know this should anger me because in theory A Girl for All Seasons is still playing but Stephanie Zinoni is now singing her own song. Oh but it gets much worse because halfway through the song Stephanie stops singing. It turns out her song is in fact a duet with the believed to be deceased Cool Rider. So besides singing a different song to the wrong tune with a dead guy, they both stop and talk through the song and then to top it all off Stephanie takes the star on top of her Christmas tree ensemble and it flies out into the audience.

If you think it can’t get any worse well then you would be wrong because despite all these flaws in performance the Pink Ladies (plus surplus movie extras) and the T-Birds both win the competition. Only in a musical would this plausibly happen.

TM, ¨ & Copyright © 1998 by Paramount Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Quite clearly you can see that I know that this is unrealistic yet I still find it much more believable than the final scene of Grease when the car, known as Grease Lightning, flies. My reason for this is because Grease was set in 1959. The Russians had only sent Sputnik into orbit two years earlier so there is no way that a high school mechanics class could have created an aerodynamic car.

So yes, these are the things that I have learnt from Grease 2 and why I think you should love this movie as much as I do.