Monday, 15 September 2014

The Story of Us - Dani Atkins

The Story of UsThe Story of Us by Dani Atkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A gripping love story from the bestselling author of Fractured.

Emma Marshall can't wait to marry her childhood sweetheart, Richard. But then a tragic accident changes everything, and introduces a stranger, Jack, into her life. Gorgeous and mysterious, Jack is like no-one Emma has met before. But Richard is the man she loves...

Two different men.

Two different destinies.

How will Emma end her story?



Dani Atkins is an author I have heard a lot about, I have ‘Fractured’ her debut novel on my bookshelf but have not yet got round to reading; however I had heard it is fantastic and its one that I must read and as soon as possible. So when I heard Atkins had a second book out ‘The Story of Us’ I couldn’t wait to read it. As this was the first book I have read by Atkins I didn’t really know what to expect, however I was excited to finally be able to discover this author.

The story starts with the end, Emma getting ready for a wedding; which I quickly began to think could be her own. You as a reader are then transported back to learn about ‘The Story of Us’ We are thrown into a fast paced scene which leads to a tragic accident and one that had me hooked right from the first few pages.

Although the accident includes Emma and her two friends Amy and Caroline and all is not well for them, I felt that I was able to really connect with the characters and got to know them well. The story was definitely an emotional one; one in which really makes you question decisions in your life and wonder what if… Reading the side story about Emma’s mum was one that got to me personally, I have experienced this first hand with another member of the family and know how distraught it can make you feel. (I don’t want to say too much as to spoil the book for you.)

I loved Jack in the story, he was such a hero and he comes across as someone genuine and completely different to Richard. Saying this I warmed to Richard towards the end; he managed to make me see a different side of him along with Emma. I feel that he too was truly sorry and perhaps not the same man as he once was. I also loved all the smaller characters in the story such as Monique, Emma’s boss at a bookstore. I love how we don’t come across her that much, but when we do, she lets us know exactly what she is like. Her personality is a big one and one that you instantly warm to.

I really enjoyed the way the story was written and the structure of it. I enjoyed at the end of the chapter a smaller section which brought me back to the present, before gradually slipping back into the past story, which leads us to the end. (I am probably not making much sense, but this is such a good story that I don’t want to give anything away. Trying to write a review for a book like this is truly difficult as I just want to scream from the rooftops how much I enjoyed it; and to tell the world about it, but I also do not want to include any spoilers!) I felt the coming together of the book was excellent, the writing was beautiful and everything was relevant, I read the book extremely quickly as I just had to know the story and how it ending. Looking back I wished I had savoured it for a little as it was a beautiful story and one that I am not going to miss. Saying this it is going to become one of my firm favourites on my bookshelf and one that I will be returning to again and again.

I now cannot wait to go back and read Atkins debut novel ‘Fractured’ and hope she writes quickly for her next book. Atkins is an author I feel that is going to be popular for a long time if she continues to write like this.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

weekly wrap up 17- 14/9/14



Welcome to another wrap up!
Another week has gone by and I have been settling in at my new school. Because of this I have not managed to read anything. I am getting into a routine and I am hoping next week will be better. 


This week I have been sent: 

I'll take New York by Miranda Dickinson
Shopaholic to the Stars by Sohie Kinsella (finished copy)
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey 

This week I have bought: 
None


Books I have read this week:
Still reading Shopaholic to the Stars


All these books I have read I have reviewed, look out for the reviews on The Book Corner soon.

What have you received/bought this week?

How much reading have you managed to get done? Leave me a comment below to connect. 

I hope you all had a great reading week and thanks for stopping by today.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Top 10 books that have influenced my life Tag

Top 10 books that have influenced my life: 

I was nominated for this tag by my sister in - law; the rules of this tag are simple, just 10 books that have influenced your life and then nominate 2 others to do the same. 

Right; my choice in books can be sporadic, sometimes I love curling up with a chick lit, (I must admit these are my favourite reads, something light hearted to escape from busy life.) Thrillers/ crime and lately I have discovered Young Adult. I feel I am a bit late to the party, with YA. I feel that it has only been recently that this genre really took off; when I was young enough for YA to be the genre for me, little of it was available and so I quickly developed a feel for chick lit and women's fiction. I have enjoyed discovering YA and feel that they can be deeper than other genres I have read and cover many emotional issues. 

So here they are: 

1. Katy Laura and The Dream Boat by Elisabeth Foster. 

This is a favourite book from my childhood. It is very short at 31 pages and includes coloured pictures. This was one book that I remember really enjoying as a child to read alone. It is a magical book and one not many people have heard of. I enjoy this as it felt that I was keeping a secret a long with the dream boat. (You would need to read it to understand that completely.) Although it is a book I regularly read by myself it is in relatively good condition; once it does fall apart it will be one I replace. 

2. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

This was the first Sophie Kinsella book I ever read and it will remain to be a favourite of mine. Love the humour in the book and the unlikeness of the plot. This is pure escapism from busy working life. 

3. The Cities Book by Lonely Planet

This non- fiction book helps full my love of travel; I love viewing cities that are not as popular as destinations and try to work out how I will be able to get to them. 

4. P.S I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

This book was one of the first books I read that really sparked emotion. I am not one of these people who cry from reading books but this one really got to me. 

5. Me and Mr Darcy by Alexander Potter

Ok, I am going to say it and that is, I have never read any books by Jane Austen, I don't really know why this i, but they never really appealed to me. When I read this book I fell in love with it. I loved the magical element that was present in the book. This has actually encouraged me to read Pride and Prejudice one day. 

6.  The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl 

I loved all Roald Dahl's books growing up but this was my favourite. I enjoyed it because it wasn't too long so I was able to read this a lone. I also loved the idea of it. Truly magical. 

7. Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson

I loved Jacqueline Wilson's books. This was the first book that I discovered by her and from then I was addicted. I would say I think it was Wilson and her books that really began to develop my love of reading. As a kid, I didn't find reading easy. I hated reading allowed and I still do today. Her books really opened me to a different world and since then I have read hundreds of books. I have a lot to thank Jacqueline Wilson for. 

8. A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines

This book I studied for my GCSE English about 12 years ago and it is one book that I really got into and developed a love for English. This isn't the easiest book for some people but I made a connection with is and it was from there that I decided to choose English to further my education. 

I am struggling to choose just 2 other books as ones that have influenced my life as I am so lucky to read so many great books, so although this tag is meant to be 10 books I have only included 8. 

My nominations for this tag now are:

Candy = @hollow_star42
Sophie = @sophieRTB

can't wait to see you books lovelies :D


Renaissance Of The Heart by Lori M Jones blog tour, extract and giveaway!



RENAISSANCE OF THE HEART

BY

LORI M JONES

Blurb:


After her husband of fifteen years comes out of the closet, a blindsided, forty-year-old Amanda Lewis is forced to salvage what remains of her shattered heart and navigate a new life for herself and her teenage daughter. But will a sizzling secret romance with a famous young NFL quarterback lead her to winning the life she deserves or set her up for her biggest loss yet? As she embarks on the journey of rebuilding her home, Amanda discovers that finding forgiveness and repairing her damaged self-worth are her biggest challenges of all. While searching her soul–and even searching inside her city's history–she finds answers. But will answers come too late and can a broken heart ever be truly fixed?


Excerpt:

Chapter 1

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." -Anne Bradstreet



JANUARY

Six days of relentless self-pity mingled with bouts of guttural sobbing. Pain so persistent her hair hurt. The raw grief now behind her, Amanda recognized the brilliant face of hope poking through her dank mood, offering a piece of relief from the misery. Although an unshowered, disheveled mess, she intended to celebrate hope. The sunshiny face of hope. Her focus now, along with surviving a Saturday night alone, would be getting to the root of why he left, and then fixing the problem.

Three drops of red wine cascaded from the glass's rim, adding another stain to Amanda's sweatpants. Making her way to the sofa, her comforting friend, she tugged at the drooping waistband. One benefit to Derrick announcing the end to their fifteen year marriage one week ago, she mused, was the loss of a few pounds. What a cruel diet plan. She flipped through the movie channels unable to find one she hadn't already seen this week. Enough with the nauseating love stories.

The remote hit the floor as she reached for her cell phone, which alerted her to a new text. Probably another friend checking in or a family member inviting her to a sympathy dinner, she thought.

It was Derrick. His name on the phone screen shot a ball of sickness into her gut. After a quick response, she bolted up the steps to her bedroom, hitting her sister's number on her speed dial on the way.

"Deb, Derrick wants to meet me for a drink tonight. What do you think?" Amanda asked, yanking her pink sweater from the hamper, Derrick's favorite.

"I think maybe he finally got his head out of his ass and wants his perfect life back." Her sister's irritated tone evident and expected. But his life obviously hadn't been perfect here, and Amanda had to know what she did to cause his departure.

With another sigh, Amanda spoke, not really wanting advice or comfort, but just needing her sister's reassuring company. "I'm not sure what's gonna happen, but I'm nervous, really nervous."

"Text me if things aren't going well and I'll come over and key his precious Beamer in the parking lot."

Amanda laughed—a laugh only her sister could create. "That would be wonderful. Thank you!"

"You got it. Hey, because of this snowstorm coming in, Lilly's going to just sleep over. Don will bring her home in the morning if the roads are clear, okay? It's teen horror movie night at the Pucharelli household!"

"Sounds great. Lilly deserves a fun distraction. Thanks again!" Although the thought of her daughter not sleeping in the next room tonight caused a wave of sadness to wash across her heart, she knew she needed to focus on Derrick.

"Good luck tonight, Mand. Be tough."

After dressing, she peered into Lilly's room. What would life be like for Lilly if Derrick stayed away for good? How many other nights would Amanda spend alone in this house? With a hard sigh, she headed to the garage.

In typical Pittsburgh fashion, the gray January sky hung low, the snowflakes increasing in volume. Amanda's impractical choice of pumps over snowboots screamed vanity, but her attempt to look attractive for her husband reflected her desperation and her hope he would come home to her. Praying out loud in her SUV over the blaring courage-building music, she pleaded with God to end this nightmare. With a glance upward into the grayness, she petitioned for her greatest fear to be dispelled; Derrick had found another woman.

Since his departure, her imagination had played out the possibility of infidelity. Pulling into the restaurant's parking lot, her mind traveled there one final time. Perhaps their basically sexless marriage had been a warning of his unhappiness. He had been visiting the gym more often and wearing cologne at odd times. Could those be signs of a new love?



She forced the gear shift into park while sucking in one more breath. She entered the snowy night.

Her eyes, sore from crying the night before, scanned through the trendy restaurant. She moved through the irritating noise of people engaged in conversations and followed the sounds of the Saturday night crowd into the bar. A pungent waft of heavy garlic turned her stomach.

She instantly recognized the back of his dirty blonde hair, shiny with hair products. Derrick turned in his barstool. Dressed as if he had just walked from a Banana Republic ad in his dry-cleaner pressed khakis and lime green oxford, he faced her, looking as handsome as the day they had met in college. She thought it unfair his graying temples only added to his good looks. Locking eyes, she felt the same excited flutter she had when she spotted him in their Greek Mythology class nineteen years ago. Her mind knew his scent before she was close enough for her nose to detect it.

Standing with an exaggerated eagerness, he pulled out a barstool and slid it toward her. She interpreted this as his attempt to avoid hugging her.

"Hey…hi there, Amanda."

"Hi...Hey, Derrick, how are you?"

Their words stumbled over each other's like two people on a blind date attempting small talk, weighted with awkwardness. Keeping the discussion to the topic of Lilly, their only child, they finished half of their beers. Although not typically affectionate with each other in public, she touched his thigh twice during their conversation, reminding him she had been his wife for a long time.

"Look," he said, redirecting his eyes to the dwindling foam on top of his beer.

She tensed. Pushing her long auburn hair over her shoulder, she knew conversations starting with "look" are typically not good.

"I have something difficult to tell you but I think it's something you've known all along."

"What?" Her eyes hit his, and then fell to her glass. Her heart pounded.

"Will you look at me, please?"



She did. In the moment of silence, she studied his flawless face and remembered the times she would joke he had a prettier face than she had. His tired eyes, she thought, seemed to be straining, perhaps trying to tell her his news without having to speak.

He blew a long breath through his lips, proclaiming, "I'm seeing someone."

She knew it. With three words, her fear turned reality.

"Who? What… who?"

"It's not important--"

"Not important? Who is she? How long, Derrick, has this been going on?" His secretary? A woman at the gym?

"It's a man, Amanda. I'm seeing a man. I'm gay. I'm so sorry. I've known for long time--"

"No. No. You're joking…" Her head shook as if it could knock out his words.

"Amanda, I'm sorry. I need to end the lying."

Her breathing paralyzed; her body wanted to faint, to shut down. The blood left her head and her limbs. From deep within her gut, she forced out, "You bastard." A week ago when Derrick walked out of the house with a suitcase he had packed without her knowledge, she thought there could never be a greater feeling of shock than at that moment. But, she had been wrong.

Caught in a nightmare, she needed to escape. She wanted to run, to scream, to grab a vodka bottle from behind the bar and smash it across his beautiful face. Jolted by laughter from a group of men watching the NFC Wild Card playoff game next to her, she started to breathe again.

Questions rattled in her mind like coins loose in a spinning dryer. Voice quivering, she asked, "Why? Why all these years of lying? Why now? Why cheat on me and not be honest? Do I deserve that?"

His face twisted in anguish as he attempted to explain, "It never seemed like the right time to hurt you or Lilly. I was happy, most of the time. You are… my best friend. I do love you, Amanda." His patronizing touch on her arm burned. "I pushed it away. I tried every day to push who I was away so we could have our life. Then I met Jake and I knew I couldn't live this lie any longer. I couldn't face you and Lilly anymore."

Since his words weren't diminishing the sting, she attacked, "I hate you. I hate you so much."

The polished young couple next to them halted their possibly first or second date conversation to look her way in stunned curiosity, causing Amanda to swallow her words. She cursed him internally for doing this to her in public.

Looking away from all eyes, pretending to watch the football game, something she would ordinarily enjoy, she continued in a weak whisper, "You are nothing but a coward and a liar. You stood in a church and promised to love me forever and honor me. You're a liar. Oh my God, you're definitely leaving me. You have a boyfriend! Oh my God…"

Unlike a week ago when his announcement left her frozen, staring at him unable to cry, the tears came easily now. She buried her face into a napkin and watched a mental video of their life together. Then flashed the signs. Signs that should have told her he was gay. He had loved cooking and shopping. Were those signs? Of course not, her mind yelled as she pressed her fingers into her temples. What about a voice inside her whispering that something was not quite right?

Though what he told her clearly ended their marriage, her mind searched for ways to fix the situation. Her heart naively searched for hope. Maybe this was a temporary mid-life crisis?

He touched her shoulder. Pulling her posture upright, she inhaled causing the anger to devour the sadness, creating a strength needed to continue. "Why not do this before we walked down the aisle? You robbed me of fifteen years of my life." Then she saw Lilly's face. If they had not walked down that aisle, there would be no Lilly, no beautiful Lilly.

"I wish I had been brave enough to face who I was back then. I'm so sorry. I loved you and I chose you, Mand. I know I was a coward. I suppose I let society's expectations of me decide my fate. But I'm ready now to start my life over."

Start his life over? So, he rewound the video of his life so he could record a new one, erasing her. Her thoughts froze and she ended the questioning. Outwardly, anyway.

They discussed the cold details of divorce: lawyers, living arrangements and Lilly. Gracious and giving at this point due to his guilt, Amanda doubted he could remain agreeable throughout a divorce process. The Derrick she knew loved a good argument.


Author Bio:

Lori lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she writes women's and children's fiction. RENAISSANCE OF THE HEART is her debut novel. She's also the author of children's books, RILEY'S HEART MACHINE and CONFETTI THE CROC, both written with the hope that children will celebrate what make them unique. She's also written award-winning flash fiction pieces and her articles have been featured in various publications.

Lori serves on the Board of Directors for the Children's Heart Foundation and is the president of their Pennsylvania chapter. She visits schools to speak about writing, about the human heart and about embracing what makes you special.

Besides writing and spreading awareness about Congenital Heart Defects, her passions include her two daughters, her husband, Mark, her Pittsburgh sports teams and running in 5Ks. Lori is a member of Pennwriters and she loves her local writing groups! She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and journalism. She also holds a paralegal certificate from Duquesne University and is a former Washington, D.C. paralegal. Visit her website at www.lorimjones.com.

*RILEY'S HEART MACHINE (Guardian Angel Publishing)

*RENAISSANCE OF THE HEART

(Soul Mate Publishing, Spring 2014)

*CONFETTI THE CROC (Winter 2014) www.facebook.com/LoriMJonesAuthor

Giveaway!


1 x $25 Amazon Gift card

1 x free download of Renaissance of the Heart.



a Rafflecopter giveaway OR http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be030174/

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Drumbeats by Julia Ibbotson Blog tour, guest post and giveaway!


Blurb:

Drumbeats: can you ever escape your past?

Drumbeats is the first novel in a trilogy and follows 18 year old English student Jess through her gap year in West Africa. It's a rite of passage novel set in the mid-1960s when Jess flees her stifling home background for freedom to become a volunteer teacher and nurse in the Ghanaian bush. Apprehensively, she leaves her first real romantic love behind in the UK, but will she be able to sustain the bond while she is away? With the idealism of youth, she hopes to find out who she really is and do some good in the world, but little does she realize what, in reality, she will find that year: joys, horrors, and tragedy. She must find her way on her own and learn what fate has in store for her, as she becomes embroiled in the poverty and turmoil of a small war-torn African nation under a controversial dictatorship. Jess must face the dangers of both civil war and unexpected romance. Can she escape her past? And why do the drumbeats haunt her dreams?

Drumbeats Trilogy:

Drumbeats

Can you ever escape your past?

Walking in the Rain

How do you cope when your worst nightmare comes true?

Before I Die

Can Jess’s bucket list bring resolution to her life?



Excerpt

August 1965, Ghana

It was hotter than Jess had ever imagined in her eighteen years. Flying in from the UK bound for Accra, she had left the late August skies of the dull wet dreariness of an English summer. But as she stepped off the Ghana Airways VC10, she felt the heavy all-encompassing heat which shocked her system. Although it was only six o’clock in the evening, it was already dark and close.

The flight from London Heathrow had been a long and tiresome six hours and she had felt drained as she pulled down her cabin bag from the overhead and shuffled along the aisle behind the other travellers, nodding and swaying to the strains of the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” on the VC10’s tannoy system. Her mother would have a fit: her Rulebook said no pop music; it’s the work of the devil, and no dancing: Jessamy, anyone would think you were a slut. So in the holidays, when she was home from boarding school, she’d listened to Pick of the Pops furtively in her bedroom, ear pressed to the radio.

Now, as she climbed down the steps in the heat-stifling darkness to take her first stride on African soil, she was recharged with excitement.

She was aware of the male flight attendant standing at the foot of the aircraft’s steps, watching her with undisguised admiration as she climbed down. She navigated the steps as gracefully as she could in her tan wedge-heeled sandals. In the heat, she was glad that she had thought to scoop up her auburn-gold hair loosely into a ponytail. She let go of the rail with her left hand for a moment to smooth her pale pink cotton mini dress over her slim figure. At least she wasn’t irritable and demanding like the other passengers who pushed behind her as if they were in a great hurry.

The flight attendant watched her all the way down the steps and then wiped his palm on his trousers, and held it out courteously to steady her from the last step. She took it in her own cool soft hand for a brief moment.

“Thank you so much, John. Bye now,” she smiled as she passed him and headed for the small wooden shack that served as an airport building.

“No problem, miss. Welcome to Ghana.”

“How did you know his name?” hissed Sandra, from behind her. Jess turned. She noticed that John did not take Sandra’s hand. His eyes and grin were still focussed on her.

“It’s on his name label,” whispered Jess. They walked together across to the arrivals building. “OK?”

“OK. Long flight. Tired,” answered Sandra curtly. She had been unusually quiet during the flight and, it seemed, almost close to tears on occasion. Jess put her free hand on Sandra’s arm.

“It’ll be fine. Honestly. I know you’re missing Colin.” In the short time Jess had with Sandra after they were teamed up to travel to the same school in Ghana for their gap years, she had learned all about the chap Sandra was leaving behind for a year. Sandra showed her a photograph. Oh dear, he looked a lot like Maurie. Not fanciable. AT. ALL! She herself had said little about her own personal life, and the guy she had left behind. She wanted to keep him to herself. Her first real grown-up relationship. Simon. His name still tasted so new on her lips and in her head. Had she done the right thing in dutifully fulfilling the contract to come out here, even though they had only just got together? Would he wait for her? They were an item, weren’t they? She frowned and bit her lip.

About the Author:

Julia Ibbotson lives in a renovated Victorian rectory in the English countryside with her husband (four children, now grown up, having fled the nest), along with lots of apple trees, a kitchen garden and far too many moles. She is an author and academic, and loves choral singing, walking, swimming, gardening and cooking (not necessarily at the same time). She started writing as soon as she could hold a pencil in her tiny fist and has not stopped since, much to the bemusement of her long-suffering husband who brings her endless cups of coffee and sometimes even makes the dinner when she is distracted and frowning at her laptop.

She wrote her first novel when she was 10 years old, sadly never published and long since consigned to the manuscript graveyard. She loves writing novels with a strong sense of time and place and that is the basis of her latest, Drumbeats, the first of a trilogy which follows Jess through the trials and tribulations of her life. It starts with Jess on her gap year in Ghana in the 1960s.

She has also written the story of the restoration of her rectory in The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen, which also interweaves recipes from her farmhouse kitchen and which has won a number of international awards.

Recently she found an old manuscript gathering dust in her drawer, one she had originally scribbled when she was still at school, many years ago. It was a children’s story about a boy who slips through a tear in the fabric of the universe to find himself in a fantasy medieval world. She is currently blowing off the dust and redrafting it for her publishers to let it loose on the world in the autumn. It’s called S.C.A.R.S.

She loves to hear from readers (it’s a pleasant distraction from her steaming keyboard), so do get in touch via the links.

Author Links

Author page on Amazon:


Author email: juliaibbotson@btinternet.com



Author website:





Giveaway!

Overall tour giveaway on tour is 1 x ecopy of Drumbeats (International), Postcards/Key Rings/Bookmarks (UK) and will be managed via Rafflecopter. Widget code to be shared nearer the start of the tour.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

With A Friend Like You - Fanny Blake

With a Friend Like YouWith a Friend Like You by Fanny Blake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beth is a woman in supreme control of all aspects of her life and family, with a stellar career and her house an oasis of calm. Her closest friend, Megan, is very different; somehow she swims through the chaos of her family with ease, the clutter on the stairs, the cat footprints on the kitchen work space. And while they could not be more different, Beth and Megan have a genuine friendship built on years of laugher, tears and true understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses. Because that's what friends do, isn't it?

But when Beth's daughter reveals a surprising secret, a wedge is driven between Beth and Megan. What begins as mild recrimination and misunderstanding develops into a full-blown row and then a simmering feud. As the two women square up to do battle in the London suburbs, there's everything to play for. All's fair in love and war...

With her wisdom, insight and wicked humour, Fanny Blake shines a light on to female friendships, in this delicious tale of two so-called best friends.




The story centers around two family matriarchs Beth and Megan. A friendship that has spanned many years they are the best of friends although two very different characters.

Beth is the organised professional lawyer with a pristine household with Jon her husband and two daughters Ella and Amy. Ella is not unlike her mother, organised, controlled, knows what she wants out of life and Amy is the complete opposite.

Megan is almost the opposite of Beth; she has a more laid back attitude to life, is a teacher in a primary school married to Pete and has a daughter Hannah and a son Jake. Megan we learn was friends with both Jon and Pete (Pete she eventually marries) who are also best friends long before Beth arrived on the scene but once she became part of the group Megan and Beth became instant friends.

The two women and their families have been very close for a number of years, holidaying together, sharing trials and tribulations, being there for each other in times of stress, each leaning on the other for support. They have a deep understanding of each other intuitively knowing what the other would think or do in a given situation so we are told.

Their easy going relationship suddenly is thrown into chaos when Ella finds she is pregnant and after initially refusing to name the father she eventually drops the bomb. This is bad enough but when Beth finds out that Ella has confided in Megan before she told her mother everything spirals out of control and the friendship of the two women and families is put to the test. Not being able to forgive Megan for not telling her Beth is also hell bent on convincing Ella to have an abortion so that she does not ruin her life.

Fanny Blake takes the reader on a journey through the friendship of both the women, their husbands and children on how this situation affects them all. It is well written and has some good emotive passages. I don't know that I particularly found this book to be funny as such, it was realistic and relevant but not laugh out loud funny as the blurb suggested it might be so that was a little disappointing. I was frustrated that after the initial news of Ella being pregnant nothing significant happened really until around page 256 when another secret is revealed that adds to the drama.

I liked Megan, I thought that Beth however was too wrapped up in herself, it appeared that whatever happened or was said she took personally and it became all about Beth when in fact it shouldn't have been. I felt sorry for Jon who she seemed to neglect, his feelings were not really considered by her she felt that everyone should be considering her feelings above all others which made her appear shallow and self-centered. She seemed to be a control freak and when this was taken away from her she couldn't cope with others taking charge of their lives. She exaggerated every situation blowing it out of all context and I felt that she made trouble and problems where they didn't really exist. I felt so sorry for her patient husband Jon forever trying to pacify her and make her see sense all the elements that she practiced for her clients as a lawyer but she failed to have in her toolbox for herself.

Megan appealed much more to me as a character; she was warm, loving, a bit scatty and easy going. Yes I could understand how she was caught in the middle and collateral damage in the crossfire and I really wanted her to tell Beth to 'get a life' and stop being such a pain in the arse but she was much too nice. And what about Pete? Megan certainly deserved better in my opinion, always away and when he was home he came across as a bit of a drunk and unconcerned in anything happening around him. Poor Megan.

Two women so close who profess to know each other so well, would have I am sure ironed out their differences sooner that these two did. Megan should have known that Beth would react badly to Ella telling her of her pregnancy first and therefore should have refused to keep such a secret from her dearest friend, so this didn't really ring true for me. In turn Beth knowing how easy going Megan was really wouldn't have felt that she couldn't have discussed this with her without turning the whole thing into a battle ground so again given the background of such closeness it didn't work for me.

Why couldn't Ella feel she could confide in her mother? This was never made clear at all. Ella although meant to be driven and focused on her career and future, a sensible logical woman appeared to fall at the first hurdle. It did come across that Ella was spoiled and indulged and perhaps that's why she behaved as she did. She came across as rather cold towards Beth and doting on Jon presumably this added to Beth's behavior in the book.

I felt that the story could have been so much shorter, it was very repetitive in parts and quite predictable in others; there were a couple of curve balls and it was well written which in my opinion saved it.

All in all this didn't really have enough happening in it to keep me sufficiently interested, in fact I felt that Beth was so miserable and self-centered that I really got past the point of caring whether it all turned out well for the two families. I thought Megan and Pete would be better off without the friendship and Megan certainly deserved a better friend and a better deal.

I did struggle to finish this book but it was mainly due to Beth being such a pain and making me feel that I wasn't engaged with her enough to care about whether she stayed friends with Megan, whether the birth of her first grandchild made her relationship with her daughter any better, or whether the long suffering Jon gave up and went to live in a hippy commune somewhere with the lovable Megan - which actually would have made a better ending! Not really believable enough for me I'm afraid. I can only give this one 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4 for Amazon and Goodreads) and that's due to a couple of good twists and liking Megan.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, 8 September 2014

The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir who got trapped in an IKEA wardrobe - Romain Puertolas‏

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe: A novelThe Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe: A novel by Romain Puértolas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One day a fakir leaves his small village in India and lands in Paris. A professional con artist, the fakir is on a pilgrimage to IKEA, where he intends to obtain an object he covets above all others: a brand new bed of nails. Without adequate Euros in the pockets of his silk trousers, the fakir is all the same confident that his counterfeit 100-Euro note (printed on one side only) and his usual bag of tricks will suffice. But when a swindled cab driver seeks his murderous revenge, the fakir accidentally embarks on a European tour, fatefully beginning in the wardrobe of the iconic Swedish retailer.

As his journey progresses in the most unpredictable of ways, the fakir finds unlikely friends in even unlikelier places. To his surprise - and to a Bollywood beat - the stirrings of love well up in the heart of our unlikely hero, even as his adventures lead to profound and moving questions of the perils of emigration and the universal desire to seek a better life in an often dangerous world.




Intriguing title and good front cover would have made me pick this up in a book shop however having been sent this from Harvill Secker as a proof to review I didn't have to buy it but after having read it I would have happily done so.

Written I guess in the same vein as the Hundred Year Old Man et al the author takes the reader on an incredibly silly and unlikely tale about a Fakir who having conned his village into raising enough funds for a ticket to Paris to buy a bed of nails from IKEA manages to get himself into all sorts of bother. He starts his journey by conning a Parisian taxi driver out of his fare to IKEA and once inside having requested the bed he wants he is told that it is not in stock but can be ordered for collection the next day. Not anticipating that he would have to spend the night in Paris he has no where to stay and decides to sleep in the store when it shuts. He successfully manages this but becomes trapped in a wardrobe that is being shipped out to Britain and thus his journey begins travelling from Britain to Spain, Italy, Libya and finally back to France. He meets all manner of characters along the way and his journey from country to country is as unplanned as his first journey to Britain.

A very unlikely tale but so funny that I became hooked and wanted to find out what happened to him next; each of his adventures are just as silly as the first, the main character Ajatashatru Oghash (pronounced A-jar-of-rat-stew-oh-gosh) was so endearing it was impossible not to like him. I loved the author giving pronunciations after each new long name he introduces to the reader - good comic touches.

There was an undercurrent in the book; although seemingly silly and lighthearted he crosses paths with some illegal immigrants and gives moving descriptions of the hardships they face and why they are so driven to get a new life in the 'good countries'. The author touches on human traffickers, hardship and immigration systems with a particularly derisive attack on the British and Italian immigration systems. Despite the feeling of being slightly manipulated to the authors way of thinking this serious element to the book for me added a new dimension making this seemingly silly and ridiculous tale far more poignant.

A very quick and easy read - the book took me just a day and a half from start to finish; it was entertaining, very funny in parts, completely bonkers in others but a great all round read. I would easily recommend this and happily give it 4.5 stars.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me this copy in exchange for an honest review.