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So three weeks in the hospital gave me some time to catch up on plenty of reading and I thought I would share my thoughts on them in one post!Continue reading
Ad | Gifted | Post contains affiliate links
So three weeks in the hospital gave me some time to catch up on plenty of reading and I thought I would share my thoughts on them in one post!Continue reading
Still cannot quite believe we are in 2019 but here we go with the first round of books I have been reading recently. Some of these go back a month or three as I haven’t done one in a while but hoping this year will be a much more organised one!
Have you ever made a life-changing decision and then wondered if you made the right one…?
When Liv and Nate walked up the aisle, Liv knew she was marrying the one, her soul mate and her best friend.
Six years later, it feels like routine and friendship is all they have left in common. What happened to the fun, the excitement, the lust, the love?
In the closing moments of 1999, Liv and Nate decide to go their separate ways, but at the last minute, Liv wavers. Should she stay or should she go?
Over the next twenty years we follow the parallel stories to discover if Liv’s life, heart and future have been better with Nate… Or without him?
A clever, captivating and bitterweet story of what might have been. Perfect for the fans of Jojo Moyes and Marian Keyes.
Wow! I really enjoy Shari Low’s books and this one was no exception. The idea presented in the blurb intrigued me – could one decision really affect your whole life?
I loved the way the chapters were devoted to special events in the lives of this group of friends – parties, birthdays, weddings. It was a chance to catch up with what had been going on with them all, without having a lot of ‘filler’ detail. This meant that, rather than a frothy chick lit read, it became a more intriguing and enjoyable read. There was difficult subject matter tackled well by the author. Her writing is fresh, fun and moving – you really do get attached to these characters and wants to see what happens to them in both situations.
Highly;y recommend this one and look forward to more from Shari Low!
Thankyou to Aria and NetGalley for my ARC of this book in return for a review. All opinions are my own
Short stories are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I really enjoy them. Normally there will be a couple or three of the stories in a collection like this, that I end up flicking through as they don’t grab my attention. However, in this book, I read every single story and enjoyed them all. Some I enjoyed more than others, but each one was able to hold my attention and entertain me.
Some of the first short story collections I read were the ones by Roald Dahl and there were similarities in this collection – deception, greed, jealousy, blind ambition. It was like a trip through the seven deadly sins. Some of the stories were shocking, some horrifying and some made you cheer when the good guy actually came out on top! There is some adult content not suitable for children.
Any short story fan will love this and it is a great introduction to them if you have not previously read a collection. Highly recommended and very much enjoyed by me!
Barbara Kastelin was brought up in Switzerland, always writing and painting, and always an outsider, an observer and a collector. She studied copy-writing and design in New York and worked for the UN Secretary-General. Having married a British diplomat, she has lived all over the world. She is the author of two previous novels
Thankyou to Troubadour and NetGalley fro my ARC of this book in return for a review. All opinions are my own
An “extraordinary” (The Sunday Times) debut of unnerving beauty, Chris Power’s short story collection Mothers evokes the magic and despair of the essential human longing for purpose.
Chris Power’s stories are peopled by men and women who find themselves at crossroads or dead ends—characters who search without knowing what they seek. Their paths lead them to thresholds, bridges, rivers, and sites of mysterious, irresistible connection to the past. A woman uses her mother’s old travel guide, aged years beyond relevance, to navigate on a journey to nowhere; a stand-up comic with writer’s block performs a fateful gig at a cocaine-fueled bachelor party; on holiday in Greece, a father must confront the limits to which he can keep his daughters safe. Braided throughout is the story of Eva, a daughter, wife, and mother, whose search for a self and place of belonging tracks a devastating path through generations.
Ranging from remote English moors to an ancient Swedish burial ground to a hedonistic Mexican wedding, the stories in Mothers lay bare the emotional and psychic damage of life, love, and abandonment. Suffused with yearning, Power’s transcendent prose expresses a profound ache for vanished pasts and uncertain futures.
Another set of short stories which I LOVED! I devoured it and it really reminded me of the first sets of short stories I read by Roald Dahl (for adults) with their noir humour. The characters were all intensely fascinating, disturbing and multilayered.
As with many of these types of book, there were a couple which didn’t quite grab me the way the others had, but overall the book is brilliant and I would recommend to any fans of short stories or anyone interested in reading some.
Amazon – available in Kindle, hardback, paperback and Audible editions
Chris Power lives and works in London. His column, A Brief Survey Of The Sort Story, has appeared in The Guardian since 2007. He has written for the BBC, The New York Times and The New Statesman. His fiction has been published in The Stinging Fly, The Dublin Review and The White Review. Mothers is his first book.
Thanks to NetGalley for my ARC of this book which I received in return for an honest review.
Marianne has a life others dream of. A beautiful townhouse on the best street in the neighbourhood. Three bright children who are her pride and joy.
Sometimes her past still hurts: losing her mother, growing up in foster care. But her husband Simon is always there. A successful surgeon, he’s the envy of every woman they’ve ever met. Flowers, gifts, trips to France – nothing is too good for his family.
Then Simon says another woman’s name. The way he lingers on it, Caroline, gives Marianne a shudder of suspicion, but she knows she can’t entertain this flash of paranoia.
In the old days, she’d have distracted herself at work, but Marianne left her glamorous career behind when she got married. She’d speak to a friend, but she’s too busy with her children and besides, Simon doesn’t approve of the few she has left.
It’s almost by accident that Marianne begins to learn more about Caroline. But once she starts, she can’t stop. Because what she finds makes her wonder whether the question she should be asking is not ‘should she be jealous’, but… ‘should she be scared’?
Fans of The Girl on the Train and I Let You Go looking for a dark, gripping psychological thriller, with a final twist that will put their jaw on the floor, will love Our Little Lies.
So this was the first Audible book I have purchased that I just couldn’t get through. Not because of a terrible plot or the writing style, or even the narrator. Unfortunately I couldn’t cope with the content of the story and the quite realistic and vivid descriptions of abuse contained.
I love a good psychological thriller but unfortunately this one just pushed my buttons and I had to turn it off. I would definitely advise anyone that may be sensitive to this type of content be very wary of this one.
Amazon – Kindle, Paperback, Audible versions available
Some stories are too sensitive, painful or potentially damaging to share publicly — unless they can be shared anonymously. TED and Audible present Sincerely, X: an original audio series featuring talks from speakers whose ideas deserve to be heard, but whose identities must remain hidden. The first season features a compelling program of victims, perpetrators, investigators, activists, empaths and more.
This was a free download from the Audible store and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I have listened to a couple of TED talks but would definitely like to see more. This series is all done anonymously, the person is recorded in a studio rather than a stage and their identity is kept secret.
The talks were on a range of different topics and all very interesting. There were a couple out of the ten that didn’t quite grab my attention as much as the others, but I recommend a listen to the whole series, you will not be disappointed. I am looking forward to the second series!
See Ted Talks for more information
How do you solve a mystery when you can’t understand the clues?
’A rich tapestry… distinctive and compelling’ Observer
’A stunning whodunnit’ Mail on Sunday
‘A beautiful, original novel, at once funny and tragic and brave’ Sarah Pinborough
There are three things you need to know about Jasper.
1. He sees the world completely differently.
2. He can’t recognise faces – not even his own.
3. He is the only witness to the murder of his neighbour, Bee Larkham.
But uncovering the truth about that night will change his world forever…
An extraordinary and compelling debut which will make you see the world in a way you’ve never seen it before
Well, I think most thought that 2018 was the year of Eleanor Oliphant for best character but Jasper could take the crown just as easily. Jasper is a really likeable character and has a refreshing kind of honesty about him which I adored.
Once again, Ste ended up listening in to this one and loving it too. I think its perfect for anyone who also enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant and both me and Ste enjoyed our time in Jasper’s world. A highlight of the year.
Amazon – Kindle, hardback, paperback and Audible versions available
Lindsay Subbloom’s marriage didn’t make it past the honeymoon. Her prince had a secret that she never saw coming. Now an internet obsession is keeping her connected to a brokenhearted past.
Her sister knows that if Lindsay doesn’t let go of her horrible new habit, she’ll have no future. Enter her brilliant idea—the gift of going offline. She hopes pushing Lindsay back into the real world will open the door for a second chance at love.
When Seth O’Shea sets his sights on the beautiful third-grade teacher, there’s an instant connection. Insta-smitten quickly turns to insta-smut. And when insta-love starts settling in, it looks like Lindsay may just get the fairy tale she’s always dreamed of in time for Christmas.
But what happens when she reconnects? Will she finally get her happily ever after? Or will old habits resurface and make her new man bounce before it begins?
This was a sweet, very easy read (I almost finished it in one sitting when I was poorly post Christmas). I thought the focus would be more on the challenge of being disconnected from social media, but it didn’t really focus on that which was a little disappointing.
The characters were likeable and the story was realistic. It can be a little ‘risque’ in places and there are some frank discussions about sex so not suitable if you are a prude! I could see this book as a good rom-com movie, there is definitely scope for improvement and filling out the storyline.
A cutsie, easy read if you are looking to pass a few hours with a modern romance style book.
Amazon – Kindle version available
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book in return for my honest review
Hope you enjoyed that little round up for this month and give some of these a try if you haven’t already. If you have read any of them let me know what you think in the comments below – do your opinions differ to mine?
Well, May was a funny old month. I didn’t get a great amount of reading done as I was focused on getting my last couple of university assignments finished but I did enjoy what I got round to. I finished a couple of audio books this month and am really enjoying my Audible subscription. I listen to them on long car journeys and when I am doing the ironing and cleaning for example. Here is a round up of what I read (and listened to) this month.
This month I took part in the blog tour for The Fear by C. L. Taylor. I really enjoyed this and if you are a thriller fan, I am sure you will too. You can see the full review here
What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands?
Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – teenage girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed.
If you are a bookworm like me and enjoy discussing books with like minded people I suggest checking out Dawn O’Porter’s book club on Instagram – The Cold Water Book Club. Last month the book she chose was Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which I had already read (my review can be found here) and this month she chose this for the fiction book. I really enjoyed the questions i the book club after listening to this one, and thought the issues it raised were thought provoking and interesting.
I really loved the sound of this book. The premise was different from anything I had read before and that excited me. I downloaded it with the free credit I get from my Audible subscription for which I pay £7.99 a month.
I can’t say I loved this book but I did have to keep coming back to it and I wanted to hear how it all played out. It is a great one for a book club and I would recommend it to anyone who is in one as it evokes a lot of conversations with its themes of power, feminism and religion among others. I really liked the characters of Roxy and Tunde. The writing was brilliantly evocative at times and the scene where Roxy had something dreadful happen (trying not to spoil it for anyone), was very emotional and made me want to cry for her. I could feel her pain as I listened. Some scenes are a little explicit and I would only recommend this to adult readers.
One of the major downsides of this book for me was the narration. I really did not get along with it on this one and it was a definite hindrance to the book for me. A couple of the different accents were done well, but the others just grated on me. However, I am not sure I would have finished this book if I had the actual book rather than the audio version as I think I would have been bored and less inclined to pick it up.
If you enjoy something a little different and can get by with the narration of the audio version of this, I would recommend it. I liked the concept, the delivery wasn’t always as engaging as I would have liked but it did keep me listening till the end.
I was dead for 13 minutes.
I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.
They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?
This book was a little shorter thn most I have on Audible so I also finished this one this month. And I really enjoyed it!
I do enjoy a thriller and this one did not disappoint, even though I worked out the big twist. However, following the journey and how everything payed out was still gripping.
The book focuses on a group of teenage girls following the night one of them is rescued from the river and bought back to life after being ‘dead’ for 13 minutes. She has lost her memory of what happened, so has to rely on her friends to fill in the gaps for her and can understand what happened to her. The book is well written and the author has done a good job with the characters of the teenage girls.
The narrator of this one was much better and was able to keep set accents and voices to different characters. Ste thought she spoke quite fast but I felt the pace was fine and much more conversational, as it would be in real life.
The Giving Tree meets Eat, Pray, Love in a brazenly honest, refreshingly irreverent, and even hilarious look at going “through” versus going “down.”
Tricia LaVoice’s life turned upside-down when her parents were tragically killed in an automobile accident. Her close relationships with her mother and father made everyday life afterwards a challenge.
Happily married and with a beautiful baby girl, Tricia had no time to fall apart. Over the years as her family grew, Tricia met two strong, dynamic women, both survivors of their own life challenges, whose wonderful friendships and unconditional maternal love and strength guide her to trust in life.
But tragedy strikes Tricia’s family again, shaking her faith in life once more. It was during this time of suffering and loneliness that she found an unexpected respite in nature, in the form of a beautiful pine tree Tricia named Martha. This rare bond inspires Tricia who literally talks to Martha daily as she heals the hurt in her heart. Tricia learns to listen to her inner voice, and heals herself by finding her source of courage and strength is within her.
They say to save the best till last and that is certainly the case this month. What a fantastic book chronicling a woman’s journey through life and grief.
Sometimes, it is the case that you happen to pick up a book at exactly the right point in time you need to read what it has to say. That was the case for me with this one. If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I lost my Grandma at the end of April. The author of this book lost both her parents in an accident just after having her first child. This book follows her through the rest of her life and how she deals (and often does not deal) with not having her parent’s in her life. Through moving (often and cross country), having children, family ups and downs we see what her reaction is and how she manages. She shows the way her grief impacts on those around her, reflects on her faith and learns different coping mechanisms.
I just can’t do this book justice ad really do recommend a read. It will definitely be on my favourite books of 2018 list. If I told you that, in fact, Martha is a tree you would probably say – Natalie, WTF – but honestly, especially when dealing with your own grief after losing someone, whatever stage you are at, this book will say things that you can understand completely.
I hope you enjoyed my reviews this month. What have you been reading this month and would you recommend it? I love to hear a good recommendation! Let me know in the comments below and I will see you for another round up in a months time.
Aside from the month going super quickly, I feel a bit meh about this month’s book reviews. I just haven’t LOVED everything I have read this month which is a little disappointing and has meant I have struggled to swap my phone for a book in the evening. For that reason I have about three books I am still wading through so they will now be on next month’s list. Here are my reviews for this month.
Anthology of short stories from culturally diverse writers writing in response to Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories.
Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories was one of the first true children’s books in the English language, a timeless classic that continues to delight readers to this day. Beautiful, evocative and playful, the stories of How the Whale Got His Throat or How the First Letter Was Written paint a world of magic and wonder.
It’s also deeply rooted in British Colonialism. Kipling saw the Empire as a benign, civilizing force, in a way that’s troubling to modern readers. Not So Stories attempts to redress the balance, bringing together new and established writers of colour from around the world to take the Just So Storiesback, to interrogate, challenge, and celebrate their legacy.
Including stories by Adiwijaya Iskandar, Joseph E. Cole, Raymond Gates, Stewart Hotston, Zina Hutton, Georgina Kamiska, Cassandra Khaw, Paul Krueger, Tauriq Moosa, Jeannette Ng, Ali Nouraei, Wayne Santos, Zedeck Siew, and Achala Upendran, with illustrations from Woodrow Pheonix.
I was really excited to read this, having read many of the Just So stories as a child. The foreword did not disappoint and had me excited for the stories to follow. However, they were not all as enjoyable as I expected, and I sometimes struggled to pick this book back up. I think my two favourites were How The Spider Got Her Legs and Best Beloved. The spider one definitely struck a nerve with me as it told the story of a mother fighting for her children.
I thought this was going to be an alternative bedtime story type book, and at least in part, suitable for me to read to the boys. That wasn’t the case, and I think even my avid reading 9 year old would struggle with this, if that was the intention.
I wouldn’t discourage someone from having a read of this if it interests them, but I certainly wouldn’t be pushing people to either unfortunately. I love the idea of changing something like the Just So Stories to be more modern and relevant but for me, most of the stories just did not grab my attention.
“I’ve talked at length about why it’s important that we see ourselves in children’s books. All of us. Because for a person from a marginalised background to see themselves in fiction, it shows them that their stories are valid and they are seen”
“It’s a brave choice to take something so much a part of the canon as Kipling and make it more inclusive, and yet that’s what has happened in the following pages”
And in that instant I fall in love. Not just with him, though he is the better part of it, but with them both, with the whole scene: the house, the garden, the magazine perfection of it. And I want very badly to be in this picture.
As Edie Jones lies in a bed on the fourteenth floor of a Cambridge hospital, her adult daughter Dido tells their story, starting with the day that changed everything.
That was the day when Dido – aged exactly six years and twenty-seven days old – met the handsome Tom Trevelyan, his precocious sister, Harry, and their parents, Angela and David.
The day Dido fell in love with a family completely different from her own.
Because the Trevelyans were exactly the kind of family six year-old Dido dreamed of.
And Dido’s mother, Edie, doesn’t do normal.
In fact, as Dido has learnt the hard way, normal is the one thing Edie can never be .
I was a little shocked at some of the content in this book, I will be honest. I am no prude but some of the things the young Dido talks about, observes and hears are not for little eyes or ears. She shouldn’t be being exposed to it. However, I am under no illusion that children have and do grow up like this.
This didn’t put me off however, I really did enjoy this book. Poignant, sad, laugh out loud and written with such raw emotion – it certainly takes you on a ride. The author does a beautiful job of telling Dido’s story with some wonderful characters and an interesting look into this strange and unique mother-daughter relationship. She also did a great job of capturing the sense of time with some good references to popular culture. I listened to the Audible version and felt the reader did a great job in conveying the story in this format. I especially loved the voice she gave to Edie.
I highly recommend giving this book a try, it was certainly the highlight of the month for me. I really enjoyed the Audible version but I think I would have also enjoyed reading the physical book just as much too.
Italy, 1819. Emilia Barton and her mother Sarah live a nomadic existence, travelling from town to town as itinerant dressmakers to escape their past. When they settle in the idyllic coastal town of Pesaro, Emilia desperately hopes that, this time, they have found a permanent home. But when Sarah is brutally attacked by an unknown assailant, a deathbed confession turns Emilia’s world upside down.
Seeking refuge as a dressmaker in the eccentric household of Princess Caroline of Brunswick, Emilia experiences her first taste of love with the charming Alessandro. But her troubling history gnaws away at her. Might she, a humble dressmaker’s daughter, have a more aristocratic past than she could have imagined? When the Princess sends her on an assignment to London, she grasps the opportunity to unravel the truth.
Caught up in a web of treachery and deceit, Emilia is determined to discover who she really is – even if she risks losing everything . . .
I actually didn’t read this one this month, but at the beginning of the year and ghave just realised I didn’t let you know what I thought. This one gripped me withnin a few pages and had me hooked. I am a big fan of historical fiction and enjoy all the nods to actual events that happened during the time the book was set.
Emilia was a likeable lead, and this helped immensely as you read on to find out what happens to her. It was also great to read about Caroline of Brunswick and I always love a book which inspires you to find out more about a character, as I have been with her.
A great read which combines history and mystery with a dash of romance.
That’s this month’s round ups! I have an exciting post coming soon about a book I was sent and am LOVING so can’t wait to let you all know about that. Fingers crossed I will be back with a bang and lots of great books next month. As always let me know what you have been reading and would recommend in the comments below. Happy reading!
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Good morning and happy Wednesday! Hope you are enjoying a great week and good news – it is half way to the weekend! I have a great new website to share with all you spoonies like me, called No More Grapes.
I don’t know about you, but getting admitted to hospital, especially when it comes so unexpectedly, is a really testing time. Aside from the fact I am obviously not well, I have two children to think about, a dog and a house that I run.
You then get millions of messages and phone calls with people wanting to see how you are, when they can visit and asking what is going on. While this is lovely, sending out the same texts about the same things a million times, when I feel grotty anyway, is not my idea of fun. Posting things like that in Facebook and on other social media platforms is just too public for some things. Because of my blog, I share a lot on these pages, but there is some things you keep just between you and your close circle isn’t there?
That’s where this website comes in. No More Grapes has been set up to help people dealing with terminal and chronic illnesses plan, share information and get support when it is needed. The sign up process is easy and completely free. A few simple bits of information (name, email address and set up a password) and you are in.
You can then start building your circle – adding those people who are the ones helping you and supporting you during your illness. The people who come with you to hospital appointments and who visit and hold the fort at home while you are an inpatient. You add people through their email addresses which is very simple to do. They then get an email with a link to click to accept the invite.
My favourite part has been the linked calendar part of this. I sometimes struggle with my memory so having them all marked down in one place (where my family can see the appointments too) means I won’t forget anything and we can easily arrange who is able to come with me to them. When I was in hospital last year and my Mum, Dad and Aunty all helped out with the boys for me, I was having to try and remember PE days, organise World Book Day outfits etc all from my hospital bed. Fielding messages from different people constantly was not easy. With this I am able to pop everything needed on the calendar and know everyone who is helping with the boys will be able to see it, so no mass texting and sending the wrong people the information someone else needs! Adding in appointments is super easy, with just a little form to fill in with the time and date etc and it is automatically added to the calendar and everyone in your circle knows about it.
It is also great for organising your visitors. I have had times when I have a million and one visitors and then won’t see anyone for two days. Due to many wards having a strict two visitor per bed policy this can often cause problems, but on here everyone can arrange when they are going to come and see you, so you are never having to turn people away or manage a rotating system with people waiting in the corridors. Equally, you aren’t sat by yourself for long stretches of time, as people can see when you don’t have anyone coming and will pop in to see you.
The last time I was in hospital was about a month ago and I had the usual nightmare of having to get the boys sorted again (didn’t help that the ex was being a pain about it), but aside from talking to them, I spent most of my time asleep or reading. I was in so much pain I just could not do much else. Having family members constantly ringing and messaging for updates is really lovely, but being able to put up one message in the morning to explain I was awaiting a scan, was on pain meds and was very sleepy, would have saved me from feeling bad about not responding to everyone, and them getting worried.
Another tab they have is the wish list. This is where you can scroll through a range of products and add them to the list of possible treats you would like. I have often been asked for what I would like people to bring and aside from the necessities, don’t want to expect gifts, but you get them anyway. This way you can get things that would be really useful to you and what you need, without the awkward conversation!
Other than that you can post text and photo updates about how you are getting on. Now nobody will miss out on my amazing hospital food photos! Will be making them all jealous won’t I?! Luckily, neither me and Ste are in hospital at the moment, but it is already proving handy to keep track of both our appointments. Ste is very forgetful and with the amount of appointments he has, it is good to have them on a calendar in front of us, all in one place. We can then arrange if we can go with each other, or need to have someone else go with us. We can manage them around the times we have the children and where we are staying (he is in Halifax and I am in Derby).
I highly recommend having a look and signing up to this if, like me, you often have unexpected and sometimes long periods of time in hospital. You can check out their website here. I love how simple and easy to use it is, and that it is there, ready whenever I will need it (hopefully not anytime too soon). And just in case you were wondering, there’s a rose gold Apple Macbook coming soon on my wish list if you know any rich people…!
This post was written in collaboration with No More Grapes. All views expressed are my own