Friday, 17 February 2017

My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon




I want to make my husband fall back in love with me.
Let me explain. This isn't an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven't been reading articles in old women's magazines. 'Twenty ways to keep your man'. That couldn't be further from the truth.
I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tell him to get the hell out of my life he'll care. He won't just think, 'Oh good'.
I want it to hurt.
Paula has had Robert's back since they got together as drama students.
She gave up her dreams so he could make it.
Now he's one of the nation's most popular actors.
And Paula's just discovered he's having an affair.
She's going to remind Robert just what he's sacrificing.
And then she's going to break his heart like he broke hers.
It will be her greatest acting role ever.
Revenge is sweet.
Isn't it?




What is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Well Paula's plan doesn't go the way she wanted it either. I thought the plan to get her cheating husband Robert to fall back in love with her and then dump him was a bit vindictive, and yet how else could she make sure he didn't get his happy ever after? 
After eighteen years of marriage and being a stay at home mum Paula knows she has let herself go. 
She is overweight by about three or four dress sizes and she has decided to do something about it.
Paula's battle to get fit and lose weight was very well written as it happened very slowly, it wasn't one of those quick fix diets.
Walking to work instead of getting the bus, walking a bit faster each day even although she was left exhausted and soaked in sweat, and finally getting herself a personal trainer.  Paula started eating healthily and making sure her hubby piled on the pounds at the same time. Maybe revenge is the best weapon to have in the fight to get fit and lose weight.
As Paula becomes friends with the woman her husband is having an affair with we are told the story from her and then Paula's point of view.
There were no dull moments in this book although towards the end it seemed like a bit of a comedy farce it did keep me guessing what would happen right to the end.
The characters seemed real and while Paula was likeable and will have you rooting for her, Robert and the woman he was cheating with deserved all they had coming to them.
A good light read.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Sweet-Revenge-Jane-Fallon-ebook/dp/B01M03C5OG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487341263&sr=8-1&keywords=my+sweet+revenge

The One Memory of Flora Banks



HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO TO TRUST WHEN YOU CAN'T EVEN TRUST YOURSELF?
I look at my hands. One of them says FLORA BE BRAVE.

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can't remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.
Then she kisses someone she shouldn't, and the next day she remembers it. It's the first time she's remembered anything since she was ten.
But the boy is gone. She thinks he's moved to the Arctic. 
Will following him be the key to unlocking her memory? Who can she trust?






This book is classed as YA but I honestly couldn't find any difference in it to an adult fiction book.
Emily Barr is a brilliant author so I trusted it would be a good read.
As it says above Flora has anterograde amnesia after having a brain tumour removed when she was ten years old,she is now seventeen. Flora is helped in life by her best friend Paige but when she betrays Paige their friendship is over. 

Flora's mum wraps her in cotton wool and does not let her lead a normal life but when her son needs his parents they have to leave their daughter at home in the care of Paige. Of course, Flora forgets that Paige no longer wants to be her friend and forgets to tell her parents, so just how will Flora cope on her own?
Flora has to write everything down to remind herself what to do in all different situations. On her hand is written, FLORA BE BRAVE and this girl must be one of the bravest characters I have met in a book.
As Flora takes it upon herself to follow a boy to the Artic I never believed she would get there in one piece. As she meets new people along her journey who don't know of her medical condition I worried about her and when turning the page I was concerned what trials Flora would face next.

This was a book I really enjoyed, yes some parts could be a bit repetitive but that's what happens with memory loss and it didn't annoy me,it was part of this story. Flora was a lovely character, one you just want to hug and make everything okay for her. 
It's about love and loss and trying to work out just how this old world and the people in it work.
Surprisingly this is the fourth book in a row I have read with memory loss as it's theme. This is the second I have written a review for so two more to come.

The paperback seems to be cheaper than a kindle copy so hey,what's not to like?
https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Memory-Flora-Banks-ebook/dp/B01M8NYZN5/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8



Thursday, 9 February 2017

If Ever I Fall by S.D. Robertson




Dan’s life has fallen apart at the seams. He’s lost his house, his job is on the line, and now he’s going to lose his family too. All he’s ever wanted is to keep them together, but is everything beyond repair?
Maria is drowning in grief. She spends her days writing letters that will never be answered. Nights are spent trying to hold terrible memories at bay, to escape the pain that threatens to engulf her.
Jack wakes up confused and alone. He doesn’t know who he is, how he got there, or why he finds himself on a deserted clifftop, but will piecing together the past leave him a broken man?
In the face of real tragedy, can these three people find a way to reconcile their past with a new future? And is love enough to carry them through?



I was looking forward to reading this book after reading the blurb but I'm sorry to say it didn't live up to my expectations. 
Dan, Maria and their seven year old daughter Ruby are experiencing a bereavement which none of them are coping with. Maria has asked Dan for a trial separation and he has to leave the family home. 
This is very upsetting for Ruby as her family is falling apart. Maria is also coping with OCD which escalates when she is under stress. 
Later we meet Jake who has bumped his head and lost his memory. He is being looked after by a retired doctor, but is he all that he seems to be? And just who is Jake?
This book started well and I was enjoying it for quite a few chapters. I thought it jumped back and forward too much. We had, after the death, before the death, and all different befores  and afters in between. 
The story of Jake and the Dr, Miles was very gripping in parts and kept me turning the page. The rest of the story was told by Maria in letters that she writes to someone who will never read them. Maria is the reason that Dan is finding life so hard as she takes her grief out on him.
Some chapters seemed quite repetitive and then I reached the ending. That was when I became disappointed and I cannot tell you why. If I told you I would be giving away the whole storyline. I can tell you I felt quite annoyed with what transpired.
I haven't seen any reviews of this book yet as when writing this it has not been published. S.D Robertson's first book Time to Say Goodbye [which I haven't read ] has great reviews. 
This is only my opinion. It is billed as a tear jerker and you may love it.
I would love to know what you thought if you read it.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/If-Ever-Fall-S-D-Robertson/0008100691/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485959789&sr=8-1&keywords=If+ever+I+fall


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

My Story by Jo Malone




Jo Malone is the inspirational British businesswoman responsible for creating her globally renowned beauty business and, more recently, her new brand 'Jo Loves'. This, her first autobiography, tells in full her incredible journey from modest beginnings as a teenager, struggling with dyslexia and leaving school with no qualifications, to becoming an international brand name and one of the world's most successful entrepreneurs.
  Jo's lively story explores how her fascination with smell teamed with her natural ability to create world-famous blends such as 'Lime, Basil & Mandarin', revolutionised the way we think about fragrance.
  Her unique talent for pioneering innovation and originality within her field is unrivalled. Yet, despite her success, she has faced huge challenges with courage and determination, including being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37 and told she only had nine months to live, and her decision to go it alone after selling the original Jo Malone brand to the Estee Lauder Corporation and walking away in 2006.
  Jo's commitment and down-to-earth approach to life, work and family makes her one of the most likeable and well respected personalities in British retail and her honesty, hard work and entrepreneurial grit are an inspiration to all.





It's been a few years since I've read an autobiography but I hope to remedy that this year as I've quite a few in my tbr pile.
I knew nothing about Jo Malone apart from the fact that she had an expensive range of candles and perfume on sale. I didn't know that she had already sold her company Jo Malone London and then started a new one from scratch, Jo Loves. 

Once I started reading this I was hooked. Jo started making her own face creams and candles from her kitchen sink. She has been gifted with the ability to smell that we can only dream of. Jo wanted to work with the French perfumers (noses) to make her own perfume  and even although she knew people in high places she found it difficult to get a foot in the door to even speak with them. 

Jo's childhood was difficult, her mum was unpredictable and Jo often had to take responsibility and also cook for her younger sister. There was an upset between Jo and her mother and both her father and sister chose the mother's side which led to Jo was estranged from her family. I felt that was the part of Jo's story that I never really understood. Why would her family not be happy at her success? Why would they not put past arguments behind them and celebrate the birth of her son or be at her beside during her treatment for cancer? So many unanswered questions but Jo has opted to keep most of the family story private and I admire her for saying that she has fond memories of her childhood and family but my heart bled for her.

We follow Jo and her husband's trial and tribulations of opening businesses, selling then and starting anew. Her battle with cancer has been a difficicult one with one step forward and two steps backwards. I've only touched on a few of the chapters in the book but it's well worth a read.

If you enjoy autobiographies, of even perfumes you will enjoy this book and it is one of the few books I will keep on my shelf and know I will read again.
I would give yourself a treat and buy the book as it's the same price on Amazon as the kindle download, but I expect you will find it cheaper in the shops.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jo-Malone-My-Story-ebook/dp/B00QNW6JE0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486493074&sr=1-1&keywords=jo+malone

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Twenty- Four Shadows by Tanya J. Peterson

L


Isaac Bittman- an average family man whose mysterious mood swings,many of which he cannot remember, begin to unravel the lives of those closest to him. After a series of bizarre encounters reveals that his personality has splintered into alternate parts, he begins treatment at a revolutionary mental health facility. The novel intricately weaves together Isaac's internal angst and his wife's and best friend's struggles to retain both a private and public semblance of normality.





After reading two of the novels by Tanya Peterson I didn't know how she could possibly top them,but she has. Tanya writes books about people with living with different kinds of mental illness. 
Her books give us an insight into the lives of people we might not come across in our everyday lives. Through her books it is hoped we might understand more clearly what some people have to cope with. Of course it's not only the person with the disorder who have to learn how to cope but their family and close friends.
This is a book about a family,an ordinary family leading an ordinary life until mental illness rears it's head. It could be any family, it could be yours.

This is the story of Isaac who has Dissociative Identity Disorder [multiple personality disorder].
It has taken his whole life for this to become noticeable but when he is found half dead in the wilds of Idaho it brings things to a head so Isaac has to be diagnosed. He then attends a daily medical facility to receive treatment.

Isaac is a very likeable character. Tanya's writing is so real that I felt I was there alongside Isaac as he try to work his way through what was making him different. He is left with no self esteem and feels he is unlovable and a burden to everyone. At various times, either at the treatment facility or at home we meet Isaac's other identities. Most of the personalities are endearing and I wondered what would happen to them if Isaac was ever cured. I then realised there is no cure only control but it does show how involved I became.

His wife Reese is a saint,no really she was. She was so patient and kind to her husband as his condition escalated. 
Dominic, Isaac and Reese's five year old son is cute and charming and multiple personalities don't bother him in the least and he is very pragmatic about it.
Everyone at the treatment centre Isaac attended were worth their weight in gold, the way that we would wish everyone we come across in a GP surgery or hospital would be.

This is a roller coaster of a story as we hear from all the people who live in Isaac's mind and we learn the devastating reason that these personalities exist within Isaac in the first place.
As I said at the beginning this is the third book I've read by the author and I think they should all have a place in all secondary school library. We can all learn something from these books.

My Life in a Nutshell : About a man crippled by severe anxiety and panic attacks.

My review : http://bookswithwineandchocolate.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/my-life-in-nutshell-by-tanya-j-peterson.html

Leave of Absence :A woman with Schizophrenia and a man with post traumatic stress disorder.
My Review and link http://bookswithwineandchocolate.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/leave-of-absence-by-tanya-j-peterson.html

The only book I haven't read is, Losing Elizabeth.

"High school junior Elizabeth Carter is self-confident and outgoing with a bright future. Life is good for Elizabeth, then she meets Brad Evans. To those on the outside, and even to Elizabeth at first, her life gets even better with Brad. Slowly and insidiously, though, Brad takes control of Elizabeth. Is she really as lucky as she thinks she is? What price is she willing to pay to be this popular, charming, attractive senior boy's girlfriend? Is she envied...or pitied? Most importantly, does she have to lose herself in order to be Brad's significant other?"

Tanya J. Peterson is an American writer and as I often find with books published in America they tend to cost a bit more. Although Twenty Four Shadows may cost a bit more than what you would normally pay for a book or kindle download. 
I'm pleased to say that the other three books are a great price,cheaper than a fancy coffee so if the price is too much you could always start with the others and you'll want to read Twenty Four Shadows.

I want to thank Tanya for sending me this book all the way from America as she knows I prefer physical books. She also knew I would write the truth about whether I enjoyed it or not.
If you haven't read any of her books, you will love them.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Tanya J. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, Master of Science in counseling, and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. She has been a teacher and a counselor in various settings, including a traditional high school and an alternative school for homeless and runaway adolescents, and she has volunteered her services in both schools and communities. Locally and nationally, she gives presentations about mental health and mental illness. She volunteers with her local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness as a support group co-facilitator and Secretary of their Board of Directors. Tanya is a regular columnist for the Anxiety-Schmanxiety blog on HealthyPlace.com, and she is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, Leave of Absence and My Life in a Nutshell, each featuring characters living with mental illness and addressing themes around mental health.





Thursday, 26 January 2017

The Silk Weaver by Liz Trenow





In 1761, Spitalfields, Anna Butterfield's life is about to change forever as she moves from her idyllic Suffolk home to be introduced into London society. A chance encounter with a French silk weaver, Henri, draws her in to the volatile world of the city’s burgeoning silk trade. Henri is working on his ‘master piece’, to become a master weaver and freeman; Anna longs to become an artist while struggling against pressure from her uncle’s family to marry a wealthy young lawyer. 
As their lives become ever more intertwined, Henri realises that Anna’s designs could give them both an opportunity for freedom. But his world becomes more dangerous by the day, as riots threaten to tear them apart forever . . .
Inspired by real historical events and characters, The Silk Weaver is a captivating, unforgettable story of illicit romance in a time of enlightenment and social upheaval.




Today is publication day for Liz Trenow's latest novel which I have been eagerly awaiting.
Anna is sent to live in London with her aunt and uncle after the death of her mother. Her father thinks he is giving her the best chance to find a husband of means and marry. Anna has other ideas. She wants to be independent and only marry if and when she falls in love. Her aunt tries to keep her tied to the house not allowing her out on her own and she has a man in mind for Anna to marry.
This stifles Anna as she is a creative person who loves to roam the countryside and draw scenes from nature although there's not much inspiration in the middle of busy London.

Henri has fled from the poverty in France and is apprenticed to a silk weaver. He is just about to become a freeman and set up on his own but first he has to finish his masterpiece and present it to the silk weavers board, all he needs is a good design.
Anna wants to help him but finds it difficult as the lives of her aunt, uncle and cousins are thrown into turmoil. Will she accept a marriage proposal or hold out for love?

I love the historical influences in Liz Trenow's books. I didn't know that as far back as 1761 foreign trade was destroying British industry. As the silk weavers protest against French imports riots start and many men are arrested and hanged in public as a warning to others. Anna and Henri find themselves involved in the unrest and there were parts of the book when my heart beat that little bit faster.
Once again a well researched story with a great ending. 
If you haven't read any of Liz's book I suggest you try them, they are all cracking good reads.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silk-Weaver-Liz-Trenow-ebook/dp/B01FMP3JY6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1484913157&sr=8-1&keywords=The+silk+weaver




For The Silk Weaver, Liz returns to her own unique history: her family have been silk weavers for nearly three hundred years, and she grew up in the house next to the mill in Suffolk, England, which still operates today, weaving for top-end fashion houses and royal commissions. This novel is set in the house in Spitalfields, East London where the company began, three hundred years ago. 

Liz is a former journalist who spent fifteen years on regional and national newspapers, and on BBC radio and television news, before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in East Anglia, UK, with her artist husband, and they have two grown up daughters. 


Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Planter's Daughter by Jo Carroll






It's 1848. And Sara, aged fourteen, must leave her family in the stinking potato fields of Ireland to seek a better life with her wealthy aunt in Liverpool. But her Uncle has different ideas.
Will she find solace among the dockers? She finds love, but becomes embroiled in the unrest of the Irish men and women who live in squalor in the Liverpool slums. Yet her efforts to help them only enrage her uncle further.
Her escape takes her to the other side of the world. But there is no comfort in the dusty outback of Australia nor in the gold fields of New Zealand. For she has left behind something more precious to her than life itself.

We first meet Sara when she arrives at her aunt and uncle's front door in Liverpool in 1948. Penniless and sent by her parents to Liverpool to escape the potato famine in Ireland and hopefully send some money back home to them. This part of the story is told through the eyes of Kitty the housemaid. 
Sarah soon discovers that her aunt had been telling her father only half truths about her family and household she also finds out that her uncle is not such a gentleman as he is thought to be.
After betraying Kitty, Sara  finds herself in a terrible position. With no option but to do as she is told she suddenly finds herself being deported to Australia where she vows to do everything in her power to get back home to what she left behind.

It is now 1852 and Australia. This part of the story is told by Grace, a widow with children and stepsons. She is religious, pious and takes in Sara to help around the house. She wants Sara to repent and to become as religious as she is and although Sarah plays along she has no intention of staying with Grace forever.
Many life changing events happen in Sara's life that she has no control over as she struggles to save money for a passage back to Liverpool. 
The last part of the book is told by Sara herself and it takes us back to her home in Ireland and the reasons she has to leave her family. If I said this was heartbreaking I wouldn't be using a strong enough word. I had no idea just what the Irish people went through at that time. Men, woman and children  dying at the side of the road, the Protestant Church refusing to help or feed starving Cathlics unless they became Protestants,oh the list goes on. 
There is lots more to this story and I have only gave you the bare bones of it because you are far better finding out the rest for yourselves. The ending was a complete surprise and I couldn't get it out of my head.

Well this is the year of the good books! 
This is a debut novel by Jo Carrol who has written previous books on her traveling exploits but this is her first fiction book.
During her travels to New Zealand Jo visited a museum and that's where she found a short biography of Barbara Weldon. All she knew about her was that she was born in Ireland, moved to Liverpool during the potato famine and ended up in Australia and New Zealand. Jo then wove her fiction story through this.
I loved this book so much, I went from disliking Sara to admiring her and then my heart breaking for her. Her life was probably similar to so many young women in those days who had to fight for their very survival. Jo has excelled herself in this novel and I hope she has many more stories to tell.
If I was to compare Jo to another writer I would say she writes like Lesley Pearse. They both write books about strong woman fighting through adversity. 
This book is only for kindle as it is self published, so skip your fancy coffee for a day and support indi publishing and have a great read.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Planters-Daughter-Jo-Carroll-ebook/dp/B01N1QUDQN/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1485097999&sr=1-1&keywords=the+planter%27s+daughter