Book Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan

Earlier in the year I tried – and failed – to read my first Steampunk novel – for my 2017 Reading Challenge.  I struggled with the book I chose – and so a friend suggested this.  Her reasoning for choosing it for this category was it was young adult and so wouldn’t be too onerous or long to read – but she’d actually enjoyed it, and gone on to read the rest of the trilogy.  She and I have similar tastes in lots of things (in fact there’s potentially a whole series of blog posts in that single comment!) so I went for Leviathan so I wasn’t beaten by Steampunk.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“The year is 1914 and Europe, armed with futuristic machines and biotechnology, is on the precipice of war. Prince Aleksandar is fleeing for his life, having discovered that his parents have been assassinated and he is now a target for the Clanker Powers, a group determined to take over the globe with their mechanical machinery. When he meets Deryn Sharpe, an orphan girl who has disguised herself as a boy so she can to join the British Air Service, they form an uneasy, but necessary, alliance. But the pair will soon discover that their emerging friendship will dramatically change their lives – and the entire course of the Great World War…”

So……

It was better than the first Steampunk novel I tried – but still not really my bag.  I romped through it – but because I was desperate to finish it and read something I wanted to, not because I was really enjoying it.

I’d been warned the YA style ‘swearing’ could be a bit annoying – and it was!

The Clankers and the Darwinists – with their traditional machinery and weird hybrid animal machines respectively were all just plain odd.

I quite liked Alek and Deryn as characters – and despite massively different backgrounds – their loyalty and bravery were parallel.

My favourite part was after the book finished (I could just put a full stop there?!)  and there was a section telling you what was based on fact and what was purely fiction – that showed it was quite clever – definitely more clever than I’d appreciated as I was reading anyway!

I also felt a bit short changed, as I did with the penultimate Harry Potter film, it didn’t really stand alone – and felt like a big introduction to the next installment.  The story was not concluded and you need to read on to discover what happens – whether anyone works out that Deryn is a girl, if it ends up being a love story, who wins the war etc etc.  Now I don’t mind a book being the first in a trilogy – but it’s good if you can read it on its own – but in this case, I don’t feel like I’ve finished.  However – I have – and I can finally say I haven’t been beaten by Steampunk – but I know I won’t be venturing into it ever again!

Now – back to a nice thriller or chick lit book for me!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Family Ghouls by Alex A King

Family Ghouls

This was recommended by a friend as ‘a book with a cat on the cover’ as part of our Reading Challenge 2017 – and so I downloaded it purely on that basis!

Here’s the blurb:

“Allie Callas has a normal-ish job: she’s the owner and sole employee of Finders Keepers, a service dedicated to the time-consuming task of finding (and finding out) things on the tiny Greek island of Merope. The fact that she’s been seeing the dead ever since she can remember is incidental. It’s nothing more than a … a … a birthmark on her soul and a pain in her butt.

Except now death is getting personal and the dead are getting bossy. Her best friend (and neighbor) has been murdered, and her ghost is back to tell Allie that the events leading up to her death are hazy (very unhelpful), and that she wants Allie to figure out whodunit.

Allie isn’t a cop, but the wall-banging, hump-happy Detective Leo Samaras is just one floor away. Does he want her help? Nooo … But he wouldn’t mind taking a good, hard look at her bedroom.

With the dead starting to make unreasonable demands on her time, can Allie figure out who killed her friend, without taking a one-way trip to the grave herself? Will she start cursing the day she started seeing ghosts? And where did the hefty ghost cat that has moved into her apartment come from anyway?

FAMILY GHOULS is the first book in the Greek Ghouls series: a comedic mystery set in Greece and steeped in ouzo.”

I have to say I really enjoyed this!  It was an easy read and a mixture of romantic comedy / murder mystery / ghost story – but all very cleverly written and amusing.  I liked Allie immediately – and would quite like to be her friend and share her supply of cupcakes.

It’s set it Greece – and I sometimes struggled with the names and Greek words – but it added a different element which was fun – and I now know some rude words should I holiday in Greece in the future.

My only minor misgivings were that there were occasions when there were words missing in sentences, only little words like to / of / in etc – but still a bit frustrating. There were also 2 instances of continuity errors – once when Allie’s sister’s car is described as a sedan in one chapter and a people carrier in the next, and another where a previous event was described as happening at ‘Starbucks’ when it had happened at ‘Merope’s Best’  – the local coffee shop.  I realise that I am completely anal – and I have clearly missed my calling as a book editor!!

But these are only minor issues, it really did leave me wanting more – which

a) is the sign of a good book and

b) is particularly good when it’s the first book in a new series (which is another topic I need to tick off my reading challenge list – so I can always move this sideways should I find another book I want to read with a cat on the cover #winning)

You know you’ve been at Centerparcs Longleat for the week when…………

  • You’re not sure if the children have got mud or chocolate on their faces – and frankly you don’t care
  • Daddy has cycled the tagalong bike through every possible puddle in Longleat and covered the smallest child in yet more mud.
    Tagalong
  • The adults all have rapids related injuries from the swimming pool – where the kids are all totally fine!  Centerparcs elbow is a well known ailment in our house – and tends to have just recovered before the next visit!!Rapids
  • ‘Essentials’ from the Parcmarket on the last night are bread, milk and prosecco
  • You’ve had to stand on the top of the hot tub to get a decent phone signal to take a work call
  • You’ve hit your steps target on your Fitbit every day from marching from the outdoor activity center to the Jardin de Sports because your activity planning didn’t take geography into account
  • The number of parents growling through gritted teeth at their children ‘we’ve paid a lot of money to be here, you should be enjoying it’ has hit triple figures
  • You’ve got back ache from pushing a small child’s bike up (and down) hills because they’re only confident on the flat (of which Longleat doesn’t have much!)
  • The sauna has been used every day without fail – but only to dry towels and swimming stuff.
  • You’ve bumped into a friend from school that you haven’t seen in 25 years – but you’re both necking booze at lunchtime
  • The story about Mummy crying on the Tree Top Trek has been recounted to many staff and random strangers #thankskids
  • You’ve decided to try and ignore the fact that the pool is human soup and satisfy yourself that the chlorine levels must be fine as they’re making everyone’s hair a bit lighter too!
  • The house has had to be re-mortgaged so that the children can paint random pieces of pottery that will end up being stored in the loft within 6 months
    Pottery
  • You’ve realised by the end of the day that the changing rooms at the pool need a health warning – so you plan to go earlier in the day to avoid the strange things people leave in the cubicles…
  • You’re shocked at the number of people who don’t wear cycling helmets and don’t insist their children do – having witnessed first hand the accidents that can happen even at slow speed when coming off a bike I want to shout at them all (but have refrained!)  but for us – no helmet = no bike
  • You’ve decided that donuts are a perfectly acceptable breakfast and pancakes a perfectly acceptable lunch (apologies to the parents of the children we brought with us!)
    Pancakes
  • The highlight of the week was to be the full body massage you had booked for the last afternoon – but it drops off the Centerparcs app the night before – so you almost weep with relief when the lovely lady at guest services tell you that it’s still booked #phew (and it was WONDERFUL – thank you Molly!)
  • You’re sending your nephew home with trainers entombed in mud from where he rolled his quad bike – and potentially half of his wardrobe is in a similar state #sorrysister
  • You’ve made loads of brilliant memories that will be talked about for years – and you’ve already booked to come back again for New Year and are bringing some overseas Centerparcs virgins with you!!

 

Thank you again Centerparcs Longleat for a fab stay.  Last time we stayed in this lodge we went home pregnant with our 4th child – hoping we don’t have QUITE such a lasting memory this time!!!

Do you remember where you were when???

During your lifetime there aren’t many dates that you can remember exactly where you were and what you were doing.

I’m not talking about wedding(s) and the birth of children – but major worldwide events.

For me there are only a couple.

September 11th 2001:  I was at work at the Head Office of the aerospace company that I’d joined 10 days before.  The FD’s wife was at home, and after the first plane hit the twin towers, she called him to tell him what had happened.  He, I and another colleague then turned on the TV in the Boardroom and watched the news unfold in horror – witnessing the second plane hit.  My husband was having lunch in the Sports Bar on Broad Street in Birmingham.  We could instantly be transported back to that time when asked. This was highlighted when we took the kids to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York this summer – memories for us – and history for the kids.  Although one of the September 11th stories that I’ve read a couple of times – and still makes me weep tears of joy, contrary to most, is from Tara over on the Sticky Fingers Blog ( http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/2011/09/are-we-the-only-one-with-fond-memories-of-911.html) – you will not be able to read it without crying!!

The other, for me, is 31 August 1997 –  the day Diana died – and highlighted with all of the current 20th anniversary programmes.  I was on the West coast of Scotland staying in Largs with my first husband – visiting the Isle of Cumbrae, where I used to holiday as a child (and where I took my second husband and kids last year!) We’d gone to bed after watching Scottish Match of the Day (possibly one of the most pointless programmes ever at that point – Rangers and Celtic would win every week) and at breakfast the next morning were told that she’d been in a car crash in Paris.  We caught the ferry over to Millport and cycled around the island – and at each pitstop (Fintry Bay being the one that sticks in my head the most) the news was on TV and it was evident she was dead.  It was before 24 hours news was a real ‘thing’ and so the fact that all of the TV and radio channels stopped normal service was unusual.

For my Dad, the day of Diana’s funeral the following weekend would also be memorable.  He was driving down the motorway on the way to a trade fair in London and got stopped for exceeding 100 mph on the empty M40! (He subsequently got off with 6 points and a fine – not sure if that was due to his reason for speeding being that he needed the toilet – and after the policeman had finished with all the forms, Dad went in to the loos at the services just to prove a point!!)

diana-funeral-westminster-abbey-princess-diana-21529947-800-570

So, where were you on 9/11 and when Diana died?

 

 

The Tooth Fairy

tooth_fairy

 

You would think after 4 kids the tooth* fairy for this house would pretty much have it sussed.  Yes, historically there have been times when she’s been too busy to remember to come, or the child hasn’t slept deeply enough for her to move the pillow (a particular favourite!) – but she’s generally delivered – and even replied to letters left for her when the lost tooth was actually lost (in reality swallowed!)

The youngest developed her first wobbly tooth on holiday.  I don’t remember any of the others being traumatised – but this time we had hysterical wailing “I want to keep these teeth forever” and a refusal to eat, combined with a stress that the tooth fairy wouldn’t be able to find her way to St Lucia (although she’s been to Dubai and France with us before!)  Anyway – after hanging on by a thread – literally – for the last few days, it finally came out on Saturday morning.

Now, on Saturday evening the tooth was carefully placed under the correct pillow (this worked as quite a bonus, as she’d wanted a sleepover in her brother’s bedroom – but the tooth fairy wouldn’t know that – so own bed it was!)

However, the tooth fairy had been drinking prosecco yesterday evening.

Right – at this point I’m going to stop writing about the tooth fairy as if it’s someone other than me.  If someone is old enough to find this blog via social media, they’re old enough to know that the tooth fairy isn’t real!  Which reminds me of when our eldest went on a school trip to London in Year 6.  One of the girls she was sharing a hotel room with lost a tooth – and D and the other friend sharing the room weren’t sure if this girl believed in the tooth fairy or not – but she put her tooth under her pillow that night.  D and the other friend waited until she’d gone to sleep and then swapped it for some cash.  But they were on a limited budget for the trip, and neither had a spare pound coin, so their friend woke up to a handful of silver coins!!

Anyway – back to last night.  I’d had some prosecco, and gone to bed stressing about remembering to do my tooth fairy bit – as the 5 year old was so excited about the whole thing.  However I then had a very realistic dream about being the tooth fairy (not in fancy dress or anything – that would be a totally different kind of dream) – and woke up unsure if I had or hadn’t actually done the swap!

By this point I was sharing the 5 year old’s bed (it happens most nights – sadly the ‘she’ll sleep through when she starts school’ hasn’t worked 11 months on!)  So, I felt around under the pillow and could find neither tooth nor cash – so was still non the wiser.  I tossed and turned a bit more and was stabbed in the arm by a tiny sharp tooth – so knew I hadn’t done it.  I’d left 2 pound coins (it’s 2 for a first one!) on the landing – so tip toed out to get them, and did the swap.  Phew!

So this morning at 7am we had a VERY happy daughter with 2 shiny new style pound coins burning a hole in her pocket.

 

* tooth said tuth not t-ooooo-th, as we’re all from Birmingham…..

The Prices do St Lucia

St Lucia flag

14.5 years ago the husband and I got married in St Lucia.  Back then digital photos were a new fangled thing – so there weren’t many to chose from – but here you go! (Can’t believe how young we all look!!)

Wedding day 2003

We got married at The Body Holiday at Le Sport.  It’s a fabulous resort – and you get beauty treatments included each day as part of the ‘all inclusive’ aspect for the resort.  Even my Dad got in on the treatment action back in 2003. I  was actually 16 weeks pregnant with our eldest daughter (I’d come off the pill when we booked the wedding expecting it to take forever to get up the duff – but it didn’t!) and so was limited with the treatments, watersports, food and drink when there for the wedding.  But thankfully made up for that when we returned for our 5th and 10th wedding anniversaries!

40th birthday

Anyway – apart from this one ‘in utero’ visit for the eldest, the kids hadn’t seen where we got married – so we thought we’d take them across the Atlantic for a summer holiday in the Caribbean. Some friends have a timeshare slightly further down the coast from where we got married – and unlike The Body Holiday, this resort permits children to stay too.  We could have a large 5 bedroom villa in  the grounds of the hotel – so having the hotel facilities (room service, restaurants, water sports, spa etc) on tap but still staying in our own space.  So we booked a villa at Windjammer Landing through James Villas.

We headed of to St Lucia with British Airways (Virgin also fly there) – with the nice lying down seats!

SL1
The youngest signing her landing card! 

We’d been given some top tips for arriving at Hewanorra airport (UVF if you’re interested in airport codes #usefulforPointless) – basically, keep left if you’ve got young kids with you, as there’s a dedicated ‘families’ queue at immigration which is loads quicker! And it was great – straight through, bags grabbed, men trying to charge you loads of money to help avoided and out into the every sweaty concourse to await our driver.

We knew the drive from the airport was arduous!  We’ve tried a helicopter transfer before – and with all the faffing about, and the fact it only gets you to Castries, not the actual hotel – meant we stuck with road transportation.  I suffer HORRIBLY with car sickness – and the roads in St Lucia are pretty windy, bumpy and altogether vomit inducing – but I managed not to chuck for the 90 minute transfer.

It was all a bit chaotic and ‘Caribbean’ in service levels when we got to the hotel. I’m not sure I’m cut out to be laid back and all ‘irie’.  Anyway – we got up to our villa and our view was AMAZING!!!  It was just the most stunning ever.  There were a ‘few’ issues – but I’ve saved those for the Tripadvisor review 😉

SL2
The stunning view from our villa 

Whilst the husband and I had been to St Lucia before, we hadn’t ventured out of our resort – so we decided to do a trip around the island.  I – and 2 of the 4 kids – aren’t great on boats, so we did it by road.  This was not cheap – but we plumped for it anyway.  We saw Marigot Bay, did the sulphur springs, the waterfall and the Pitons.  The weather was FOUL, it took FOREVER to get anywhere – but we all survived (just!)  We’ve only seen rave reviews of doing these sites by sea – so it must just have been doing it by road that made it really hard work – of course, not helped by the fact the rain was pretty torrential.  It also highlighted just what a high proportion of the island is living in total poverty – quite sobering to see when you’re safely ensconced in your luxury resort most of the time.

On other days we did the zip wire over the rainforest (and the youngest and I did a cable car instead as she was too young to zip wire – and I’m too scared of heights!!)

The husband and girls also did horseriding – including a ride along the beach.

We also went to the water park in Rodney Bay with our friends which was brilliant (again the 5 year old was too young, and quite put out about this!!)  – but the older kids and the husband enjoyed it (although he struggled to move the next day!!) We also had an amazing meal at Spinnakers on the beach that night.

SL26

And, of course, we took the children to see where we got married #romantic

The airport lounge for the flight back is not the best lounge we’ve ever been in (Dubai International – DXB – is the best if you actually want to know!) but we passed the time there, and then flew back (not the best flight ever either – a 5 year old with ear ache meant I spent a large proportion of the flight sat in the footwell of her seat comforting her – and my lovely bed went unslept in!).

But lots of family memories – good, bad, amusing and disturbing – were made over the fortnight!

The eldest daughter made this fab video of what we got up to – which shows what a great time we had (thankfully it doesn’t include the torrential rain, or the times the kids just wanted to sit and watch their iPads!!)

Thank you St Lucia – you’ll always have a special place in our hearts as it’s where we said ‘I do’.  I’m not sure in January 2003 I would have expected to return 14 years later with 4 children in tow!

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Kicking The Bucket List by Cathy Hopkins

Kicking The Bucket List

“Meet the daughters of Iris Parker. Dee; sensitive and big-hearted; Rose uptight and controlled and Fleur the reckless free spirit.
At the reading of their mother’s will, the three estranged women are aghast to discover that their inheritance comes with strings attached. If they are to inherit her wealth, they must spend a series of weekends together over the course of a year and carry out their mother’s ‘bucket list’.

But one year doesn’t seem like nearly enough time for them to move past the decades-old layers of squabbles and misunderstandings. Can they grow up for once and see that Iris’ bucket list was about so much more than money…”

I’m not sure how this ended up on my Kindle (potentially prosecco fueled late night purchase?!?) but I started reading it a few days ago and enjoyed it.

It’s based around 3 sisters – although they’re nothing like me and my 2 sisters so can’t draw any analogies there.

I found it really quite emotional – and sobbed a few times (but then I cry at anything – current fave being the Morrison’s pie advert, so other people might not weep as much!)

The chapters are told from the different sisters’ viewpoints – although fundamentally by Dee (official name Daisy).  I liked Dee (although occasionally wanted to tell her to man up a bit!)

The story ends up much more complicated than it starts off – but I don’t want to give any of the plot twists away, as it would ruin it knowing some of the stuff up front!  Occasionally it felt a bit repetitive – but overall I enjoyed it.

An easy summer read – exactly as it says on the cover!

Not sure where it will fit into my  2017 Reading Challenge (and it could easily have warranted a cat on the front cover which would have been one category sorted!!)

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Strong Woman: The Truth About Getting To The Top by Karren Brady

Karren Brady - Strong Woman

I’ve always liked Karren Brady (despite the fact that I’m a Villa fan!) and remember on more than one occasion, back in the day when I had a ‘corporate’ job, we were the only females on  the train from London Euston to Birmingham International.  A sea of dark suited men  – and me and Ms Brady.

I’ve followed her professional career from when she arrived at Birmingham City – despite them being my football team’s bitterest rivals.

Karren is 5 years older than me – but seemed so much more glamourous and grown up than me when I was doing my A levels.  A real aspirational role model – a successful businesswoman who wasn’t prepared to hide the fact that she was most definitely female!

I’m also incredibly nosy – and so have enjoyed following her personal life – marriage to a footballer (Paul Peschisolido), 2 kids, serious health concern – so I knew the headlines – but was interested to know more.

My 2017 Reading Challenge means I’ve been picking a more varied set of books than normal – so when I needed ‘A book with career advice’ – this seemed an apt choice.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“Karren Brady is an inspiration to women everywhere, and her incredible success is borne of her passion, impressive business instinct, ambition, and her very genuine, honest, down-to-earth outlook.

This is Karren’s story… before being Alan Sugar’s aide on The Apprentice and VC of West Ham United, how she started out as a sparky 18 year old at Saatchi & Saatchi and at 23, went on to persuade David Sullivan to buy Birmingham City football club – turning that business round to sell it for an incredible £82 million 12 years later.

Strong Woman tells how she balances her personal life with her professional, her priorities, her life as mother of two and wife. Karren reveals how she coped when doctors told her after a routine scan that she had a brain aneurysm, that she must have a complicated operation immediately and had a 30% chance of not surviving, and how it has since influenced her outlook and priorities.

An overwhelmingly inspiring and real look at work and life, Karren Brady defies convention as a directional business woman in a male industry. This is the truth about how she does it, and through her experience, her drive and her skills – it offers brilliant advice on how you can do it too.”

I have to say I really enjoyed the book – for many different reasons.

I was reading it on holiday in the Caribbean – but whilst there, juggling family life with still working – as we have our own business – and so could empathise with a lot of  the content – about not taking days off, and being permanently ‘on call’.  People often say how ‘lucky’ we are to have the lifestyle that we do – and travel all round the world – but there’s not much luck to it – most is damn hard work, day in and day out, which is just what Karren says.

I liked the fact that Karren’s family is also, clearly, really important to her.  Like her, I juggle the kids and work – and sometimes feel torn in two, but wouldn’t be without either part of my life.  We have also been lucky with our childcare, like the Peschisolido kids were, having had one nanny for the last 7 years in our case.  It really is the simplest option when you don’t have a 9-5 job (and in our case, LOADS of kids!)  I’ve blogged about this before – and how people somehow seem to think having a nanny means you’re spoilt! The chapter looking back at Karren’s early years was also really interesting (I am just naturally nosy!)

As I said at the outset – historically on the train sometimes the male / female ratio was not very even!  Having been the only girl at my school wanting to do further maths A level, I had to do it at the boys school next door.  Then I did a maths degree at University – and the trained as an accountant with one of the ‘Big 6’ firms (that’s showing my age as there aren’t 6 any more!).  Finally, I’ve ended up running a construction company!  None of it is QUITE as male dominated as working in football – but I can definitely appreciate working in a male environment.  However, to paraphrase Karren slightly, I’m all for people getting a role because they are the best person for the job, not just because they need to fill a quota based on the shape of their genitalia.

The section about TV work – specifically The Apprentice – was also great, really feeling like you were getting a behind the scenes view.  It’s daft – but I’d never thought before about the long hours that the advisers would work as well as the competitors.  Having to fit the ‘day job’ in after filming hours must also be crazy busy.

I found the chapter on Karren’s aneurysm really moving.  It wasn’t written in an over hyped way – but very matter of fact with all of the issues that happened and how they were dealt with.  But still – it makes you think ‘what if?’  Having had a close friend go  through breast cancer over recent months – she said just the same as Karren did – the worst thing was having to tell her children that she was ill. But as with my friend sharing her breast cancer story,  Karren sharing her ‘journey’ with her aneurysm may help someone else going through the same situation – and definitely makes you grateful for your own health.

The photos at the end were fabulous – lovely seeing all the people that have been important to Karren over the years – and obviously the variety of clothes and hair styles! #priorities

This has turned into a bit of a fan girl blog about Ms Brady – having totally empathised with an awful lot of what she said.  I also think this would be a GREAT book for girls and young women thinking about what they want to do with their futures – lots of food for thought and inspiration to be had.

 

 

 

Book Review: The Break by Marian Keyes

The Break

I have blogged before about my love (bordering on total fangirl-ness) for Marian Keyes, and so was very excited when her next book was put on Netgalley – so I downloaded an advanced review copy for free in return for feedback!

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“The Break is the brand new, funny, touching and truly fabulous novel from Marian Keyes . . .

‘Myself and Hugh . . . We’re taking a break.’
‘A city-with-fancy-food sort of break?’

If only.
Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her.
He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in south-east Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.
Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . .
However, for Amy it’s enough to send her – along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers – teetering over the edge.
For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?
Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then isn’t she?
The Break isn’t a story about falling in love but about staying in love. It is Marian Keyes at her funniest, wisest and brilliant best.”

The central character is Amy – who at 44, is a very similar age to me, which is always a winner.  She and Hugh seem to have a secure – if slightly complicated – family set up.  I was concerned I’d be confused as to which ‘daughter’ was which – but soon settled in to it.

The extended friends, family and colleagues are also an important part of the storyline – and you feel like you get to know all of them – and most are really likeable in their own way.

I liked Amy a lot (although a couple of times wanted to shout at her to get a grip, or at least stand up to her mother about ‘babysitting’ her Dad when she had such a busy life already) but was always in her corner.

The way everyday references are brought in are great – social media, vlogging, internet shopping – all used in a totally ‘normal’ way.  I particularly liked the fact that not ‘liking’ a friend’s Facebook posts for over a week clearly showed you were upset with them!!

I also enjoyed the Strictly references – knowing that the author is a superfan (and quite frankly a joy to watch every time she’s on It Takes Two!) – I could almost hear her reading out that section of the book!

There was also an amusing section about people bringing round casseroles in time of trouble (although maybe the casserole is an Irish thing – as when a friend was having a tough time it was mince and tomato based meals in Worcestershire!!) – but the principle was totally the same.

I really enjoyed that throughout the book you didn’t know what was going to happen after ‘The Break’ – exactly as Amy didn’t.  And obviously I won’t give away what does!

There are so many interesting characters in the book, this could quite easily turn into the start of a series??  #wishfulthinking?!

Overall this is another great book from Ms Keyes – I would definitely recommend you read it when it comes out in September.  Now – to see if I can shoehorn it into my 2017 Reading Challenge! 

 

Book Review: The Forever House by Veronica Henry

The Forever House

I have enjoyed Veronica Henry’s books before (although having checked – none since I started reviewing my reading habits on here) – and we have mutual friends on Facebook (practically a claim to fame I know!)  Anyway – when I saw this had come out I downloaded it – although not sure how I can shoehorn it into my 2017 Reading Challenge – maybe there’s a cat hidden on the front somewhere?!

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“Hunter’s Moon is the ultimate ‘forever’ house. Nestled by a river in the Peasebrook valley, it has been the Willoughbys’ home for over fifty years, and now estate agent Belinda Baxter is determined to find the perfect family to live there. But the sale of the house unlocks decades of family secrets – and brings Belinda face to face with her own troubled past. . . “

The book cycles between the present day, and present-ish day, and 1967. I enjoyed this aspect – and really wanted to know what was happening in both stories – which are clearly linked – and with ‘Hunter’s Moon’ as a main character in both.  The descriptions of the 60s were great – from fancy London town through to fancy pants clothes – it was all really evocative of the era.

The interactions between the different main characters was also lovely – although a little bit predictable (but lovely predictable, so totally fine!)

I was really rooting for Sally in 1967 and the present day – and Belinda too – both lovely central characters.

I absolutely loved the final chapter – set 4 years on from the bulk of the story – but still want to know what’s happened to everyone subsequently – which is always the sign of a good book.

All in all a perfect, summer, easy, escapist read.

So, to quote Jill Mansell off the front cover, ‘A delight from start to finish’!