Tuesday, 25 February 2014

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

The One Plus One is the beautiful, poignant and utterly compelling new novel by the internationally bestselling author Jojo Moyes.

Jess Thomas wants . . .

. . . to be more than a single mum getting by day after day

. . . to do her best for her gifted but sensitive daughter Tanzie

. . . to find a way back from the loneliest place on earth
Ed Nicholls is hoping . . .

. . . he won't go to jail

. . . there's a way back from the biggest mistake of his life

. . . something or someone will make it all go away
Jess and Ed are . . .

. . . two strangers looking for a little kindness

. . . two lost souls with a lot to learn from each other

. . . about to find out that one plus one makes more - so much more - than two

Jess and Ed are two people who in the normal course of life would never have came into contact with each other. Jess, a single parent scraping a living cleaning caravans and Ed, a wealthy business man who has problems of his own.
Jess's Daughter Tanzie is gifted in Maths and has been given a chance to sit an exam for a place in a private school but with a father who pays no money to his children's maintenance Jess will never be able to afford the reduced fees.

Ed, after being rude to Jess sees her and her family out walking late at night and stops to see if they need help  but then finds it difficult not to be involved in all Jess's family ups and downs.
 Two adults, two children and a huge dog who farts and slobbers are all sharing a Mini on route to Scotland, Ed to visit his father and Jess's family to take Tanzie to her math exam. There's many trials and tribulations along the way and a long road to go to get to a happy place for all five of them,Yes I included Norman the dog because he's such a bit part of the story. Thrown in for good mix is a horrible,violent family on the estate where they live who are out to hurt them.

I loved the way Jess would do anything for her family. I like Ed, he found himself on the wrong side of the law after being conned by a woman he was trying to help and yet he still found it in his heart to help Jess.
Jess's ex, Marty made me angry, especially as Jess had been making excuses for him to the children. She was having to struggle while he was having a nice life.

I've read a few books by Jo Jo Moyes and this book is so different. It is more of a comedy although I did shed a few tears as is usual with Jo Jo's books. I could see this book as a TV drama/ comedy, it would work very well. If you're a romantic at heart like me but like a few chuckles too then you'll love this book.
This has turned out to be a shorter review than usual as I don't want to give away the main part of the story, I hate spoilers,don't you?

One plus One Amazon.co.uk 
On sale from 27th February although there is a free sampler to download on Amazon. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Diary of an Unsmug Married by Polly James

What happens to love when life gets in the way?
A funny and perceptive book about real relationships. Perfect for fans of Dawn French, Sue Townsend and Bridget Jones’ Diary.
Meet Molly Bennett. Married to Max and mother to two warring teenagers, she’s just ‘celebrated’ a significant birthday. Bridget Jones would call Molly a “smug married”. So why doesn’t she feel it?
Is it because everyone seems to be having a better time of it than her? Or is it that Max has started showing more interest in ‘business trips’ and less interest in their sex life? Molly begins to despair. And then an old school friend starts flirting with her through Facebook …

After reading this book I have decided that Molly Bennett has the worst job in the world. Employed as a senior caseworker  for back bench labour MP Andrew Sinclair in his local constituency she is neither appreciated or paid well for the work she does. Molly goes out of her way to help his constituents who have genuine problems,but when the nutcases walk through the office door she hears the tune to The Twilight Zone playing in her head.
There is no security in the office and life becomes very threatening which seems to go over the head of boss Andrew. It is not helped by Andrew signing a shotgun licence for one of the nutters.

Home life is not running smoothly for Molly as she thinks her husband has the hots for sexy next door neighbour Ellen.  On top of that her sister is driving her mad complaining about their father and his love interests in Thailand. Molly can't find the time to question her husband about their love life (or lack of it) between her job and driving her accident prone son back and forward to casualty and sorting out fights between him and his sister,just a normal family really.

I'm not usually too keen on a book written in diary format but I forgot quite soon that I was reading diary entries as the story flowed so smoothly. I loved the character of Molly and really wanted her to change her job as it was so depressing for her even although it gave me the funniest of moments.
 One that sticks out for me is when Molly and her co-worker Greg are watching their boss, Andrew on Prime Minister's Questions via the office computer. They notice Andrew slouching further and further into his seat and his eyes closing. Molly texts him to tell him to sit up and at the same time they are fielding phone calls from irate people complaining that Andrew is falling asleep in the house of Commons.

We don't find out until the end whether Molly was right or wrong about her husband Max having an affair but there are plenty of laughs along the way. One of them being an old flame from Molly's schooldays who gets in touch via Facebook, he wants to meet up with her, he looks like Vladimir Putin (which should have put her off) but he is now director of a global oil company (rich).
Will Molly have an affair of her own? Will her husband leave her? Will her dad ever act his age? Will her boss ever appreciate her?
All those questions are eventually answered but not before lots of misunderstandings and some hilarious escapades. I think this debut novel by Polly James is a jolly good read. You might shed some tears but they will be the result of laughter.
Polly James started writing about Molly Bennett on an online blog which later devoped into her first book. She is now writing another which will also feature Molly and her family.

Polly's blog is here

Diary of an Unsmug Married  Amazon.co.uk (kindle) 99p
The Book Depository Paperback, free shipping worldwide

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Author in The Spotlight and New Book Cover Reveal for Harbour Ways by Valerie Poore

Published on 18th February

Today I'm revealing the cover of Harbour Ways,Valerie Poore's sequel to Watery Ways.
Watery Ways is the story of Val's big move from South Africa to Rotterdam where she decided to rent a barge and change her life. Val loved the lifestyle so much that she eventually buys her own barge The Vereeniging and Harbour Ways is the story of how she restored it.

I enjoyed Watery Ways and reviewed it here

Val's books are not just about barges, they're about people and the life centering around the Oude Haven in Rotterdam. We are promised in her new book Harbour Ways more about some of the people we got to know and love in Watery ways such as Angelique  and Koos. I'm sure there will be just as many laughs in this book as Val finds her way through the complicated process of restoring an old barge.

Valerie Poore's books are never dull. She has a flair for comedy and shows this in bucketfuls in her fiction book, How to Breed Sheep,Geese and English Eccentrics my review 
my review is  here

Val writes about another life changing event in  her book   African Ways 
She emigrated to South Africa with her husband and two small children. They had no idea where they would live or if they could handle the primitive African lifestyle,this is her story.
My review is here

Val has also written a children's book called The Skipper's Child
The fiction story is based on the childhood memories of her partner Koos. This book is one of the finalists
in The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards in the teenage section. Fingers crossed for a win.

Valerie Poore

Valerie is an Indie author who is lives and works in Rotterdam where she teaches English for business and academic purposes. She stills loves her barging  and writing. 
Harbours Ways is her latest book which will be published on 18th February and if you click on any of the highlighted names of her other books it will take you to Amazon where for less than the price of a fancy coffee you can download her books and read something a little bit different.

Here are some of the lovey views that Val sees everyday.
The washing still has to be done even on a barge

Val, steering her barge.
You can find Val on her blog Watery Ways
or her facebook page Valerie Poor Barging About as an Author
Or tweet her at  @valleypee
and keep up to date with her book launch.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Stella Bain by Antia Shreve

An epic story, set against the backdrop of World War I, from bestselling author Anita Shreve.When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in. A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his house guest. Stella had been working as a nurse's aide near the front, but she can't remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield. In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation.

The story begins in 1916 in a makeshift hospital on a French battlefield. Stella wakes up confused and injured trying to remember who she is. She is wearing the uniform of a nurse's aid but being miles away from the field hospital where she worked  no one knows her. Thinking her name is Stella Bain  and she is told she sounds American she still can't remember why she is in France  until she overhears the name Admiralty and London and something from within her tells her she must go there.

In London she is found by Lily and she takes her into her house to be seen by her  doctor husband, August, who believes Stella is suffering from shell shock, radical thinking at that time that it could apply to women as well as men.
I enjoyed the part of the story which was set in France. The descriptions of the battlefields and hospitals and what was suffered for many made it so real. I was less hooked on the London part of the book when Stella was trying to discover why she felt compelled to visit the Admiralty.
I found her reasons for leaving America and doing something as drastic as going to the war in France a bit thin considering what she was leaving behind. There was also a court case that went on for too long. I don't want to tell you what Stella left behind in America as I think it's better to be surprised, there's plenty of spoilers on Amazon if you want to know.
The friendship that blossoms between Stella, Lily and August is very proper given the constraints of the time but it is also very endearing.
A good read but enjoyed the part in France better.

Amazon UK for kindle (for some reason the kindle version is called The Lives of Stella Bain)
Thanks to Net Galley for a download of this book in return for an honest review.

The Spanish Promise by Karen Swan

One of Spain’s richest men is dying. But as he prepares his estate, his family is shocked to discover he is making plans to give away ...