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20 February 2017

Review: 'There is Always More to Say' by Lynda Young Spiro (2016)

Soho 1984: Two people meet and their worlds are changed forever. An unexpected meeting - a look that means their lives will never be the same again.  
In There Is Always More To Say Lynda Spiro chronicles the lives of the couple through friendships, marriage, fleeting moments and snatched time. It is a passionate account about a connection between two people that never dies even when tested by distance and when life throws the unexpected at their feet. 
"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances. If there is any reaction both are transformed." C G Jung 
As some of you might have read earlier I’ve made the difficult decision to stop with this book blog, for various reasons. One of the great things about having made this decision, though, is that I finally have time to go through my pile of review books and really sit down with every single one of them, without being interrupted by other requests coming in! One of the books that has been on my pile for quite some time now is Lynda Young Spiro’s ‘There is Always More to Say.’ The author herself contacted me several months ago and asked whether I’d be interested in reviewing her novel. I have to say I was quite intrigued by the description of the book; it sounded promising, so when I was looking for my next read a few weeks ago, it was definitely time to finally pick this up! 
‘There is Always More to Say’ tells the story of two people who meet each other in London in the 1980s, not yet having any idea of what an effect they will turn out to have on each other’s lives. In the years that follow numerous things happen: new relationships, marriage, kids, but there continues to be some correspondence here and there, never losing each other along the way. But are soul mates really destined to ultimately end up together; what happens when life keeps on throwing obstacles, making it almost impossible? 
This book is quite an unusual and quick read with less than 200 pages in print version. I have to admit I was surprised by the actual story, because it didn’t match the expectations I had before starting this novel. This is a personal thing, obviously; I was expecting a ‘regular’ fictional novel about two characters, but Lynda Young Spiro really gave this basic plotline her own twist. It is clear there are two main characters whom the story is about, but no names are given and no real background information to get to know these characters. There is also no dialogue in the novel; just description and details, written as a first person narrative, with quite a lot of repetition of particular facts. There’s almost some kind of poetic feel to the read because of this repetition and also the quotes that have been added to the start and end of all chapters.  
The storyline and the writing style did invoke certain emotions, and it is clear there is a connection between the two main characters; a connection that had a big effect on their lives. I can honestly say this is a read unlike any other book I’ve read before, but I also can’t help but say it just wasn’t for me. I want detail, explanations, dialogue, background information…. I couldn’t help but miss all of that, and I kept on hoping it would pop up as I read on, but it never did. I, therefore, also find it difficult to review and rate this book, because I’m still not quite sure what to think of it! All in all, though, I think this just wasn’t the read for me; I am sure there are readers out there who will really enjoy this, so please don’t let my review stop you from giving it the chance it deserves. 
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

19 February 2017

Cover Reveal: 'The Secrets of Ivy Garden' by Catherine Ferguson

I'm really excited to be part of a big cover reveal today for a book that already sounds and looks quite amazing...! I've had the pleasure of reading several of author Catherine Ferguson's reads up until now, most recently 'Four Weddings' and a Fiasco', which was a brilliant novel, and I am really looking forward to picking up her next book, 'The Secrets of Ivy Garden'! So, without further ado, please check out the gorgeous book cover below:

When Holly breaks up with her boyfriend Dean, she’s at a loss as to what to do next. But things go from bad to worse when her beloved grandmother Ivy dies – and Holly is left in charge of sorting out Ivy’s house and garden. As she sorts through her grandmother’s belongings and makes her way through the wilderness outside, Holly soon finds that there is more to Ivy than meets the eye, and uncovers a surprising family secret that changes everything…

This is a heart-warming and hilarious story from Catherine Ferguson about starting over, learning to garden and most of all learning to love.

The novel will be released in e-book form on 3rd April, so be sure to note that date down on your schedules and start counting down the days...!

17 February 2017

Review: 'A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother' by Christie Barlow (2015)

Fed up with the playground mafia at her children’s school, Rachel Young is desperate for a change. 

With her family and various pets in tow, a picture-perfect village in the countryside beckons. There, Rachel’s children will be able to keep chickens and skip through fields and she’ll bid farewell to the botoxed, fake-Gucci wearing Mumzillas forever.

But at the new school the mums are even worse, and before long, Rachel finds herself contending with a motley crew including Mrs High School Musical, The International Sex God and The Frisky Pensioner. 

While the children are practicing their sums and perfecting their reading, Rachel is learning some harsh lessons on the other side of the school gates, and ruffling plenty of feathers along the way…

Bookouture is one of my favourite publishers, and they are also the ones that introduced me to author Christie Barlow last year. I thoroughly enjoyed her novel 'Kitty's Countryside Dream' (click here to read my review) and also really liked her Christmas-themed release 'Lizzie's Christmas Escape', which I read at the end of last year. I got a review copy of 'Misadventures of a Playground Mother', one of her other books, but quickly realised this is actually the sequel to 'A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother' and whenever possible I definitely prefer to start at the beginning of a series. So, I got a copy of the first instalment and was curious to give it a go!

Rachel Young and her family are on the verge of a new adventure as Rachel and her husband decide to move the whole family to the idyllic English countryside. With the ideas of rolling green hills and lovely small villages in her head, Rachel can’t wait for the move to finally happen. One of the things she particularly can’t wait to leave behind is the playground mafia; the gossiping mums at the school gates who seem to judge her with every blink of an eye. No need to say Rachel is quite surprised when she discovers the playground politics in the countryside might be even worse than in the city. Without even wanting to, she gets mixed up in all of it and once you’re in, it’s quite difficult to manage to find your way out again, especially without obtaining any damage…

School gate politics has been quite a popular topic to write about for several years now. It’s a topic I don’t have any personal experience with since I don’t have any children (yet), but it’s been a topic that caught my interest and over the years I’ve read several books focusing on this subject. I was curious to see where this particular one would go and what author Christie Barlow would do with the story. The focus was mainly on protagonist Rachel; and where I was expecting her four children and husband Matt to also take on a particular role in the storyline, they hardly made an appearance, to my personal surprise. The spotlight was really on Rachel and some of the other mums in the school playground, such as Penelope, which of course shed some light on that particular side of school ground politics and not so much on the home/family aspect of it all. 

While I liked the setting and basic plotline of this novel, and it is definitely witty and amusing in places, I couldn’t help but miss something while reading it. I can’t really specify what it is exactly, but I just didn’t connect with any of the characters and was constantly waiting for the storyline to really grab me, but it just didn’t. I’m not saying I really didn’t enjoy this read, because I did, but I do think I was somehow expecting more, also based on the other Christie Barlow novels I’ve read and really liked. So, on the whole, ‘A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother’ was not exactly the read I was hoping it would be, but it is still a witty and enjoyable take on school ground politics, and I am curious to see whether the sequel to this book is perhaps more up my street!
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads