Review of a great contemporary novel! “All We Have Lost” by Aimee Alexander

Fab stocking filler

 

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this contemporary novel by The Book Club on Facebook & the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All views are my own. This review contains an affiliate link.

I am a huge fan of classic novels, particularly those with strong female leads, but I also have an enormous soft spot for contemporary fiction.  “All We Have Lost” features business woman, wife and mother Kim who really does seem to have it all.  She runs a successful PR agency, is married to the good looking Ian – the love of her life, has two lovely young children, a great nanny to care for them and supportive family and friends.  Kim knows her own mind, has life mapped out and is certain where she is headed.  Or is she?

For one day Kim wakes up and realises that this isn’t the road she wants to be on at all.  She rarely sees her children, her home is virtually run by another woman and her husband sees more of the children than he does her.  Add to this her parents’ “perfect marriage” that Kim has placed on a pedestal since her father’s death, and suddenly Kim feels like she is in fact failing.  She decides to wind the business down, let the nanny go and be an author who happens to be a stay at home mum.  Her husband is on trial for a new job, she has always aspired to writing like her best friend Sarah and she is certain that she can work this around the needs of 2 preschool children.  How hard could it be?

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All We Have Lost

I think that any parent – particularly the mums out there – will be able to relate to this, working or stay at home!  Of course Kim has no idea just how demanding caring for young children can be.  A 2 year old just will not stick to your carefully constructed time table allowing mum time to write her novel whilst the tot naps.  Add in cooking, housework and a bit of writer’s block into the mix and suddenly the grass isn’t greener on the other side.  I really enjoyed the way that Aimee Alexander showed Kim’s gradual decline from a business woman in control, to a woman who was “letting herself go” and suddenly felt powerless to take back that control.  How many of us can empathise with the gradual weight gain (gym, who has time to visit the gym with young children?), the lack of regular personal grooming time (feel grateful if your hair sees the backside of a brush daily, let alone regular visits for a blow dry at the salon) and the overwhelming tiredness that strikes before hubby even gets home (from his fourth late night of the week).  But it should be ok if only Kim can start writing – and yet even this is not the easy task that she has imagined.

The author shows just how quickly and easily relationships can change – in Kim’s situation it is not just her marital relationship, but also that with her mother and her friends too.  Failure to communicate leads to misunderstandings, jumping to the wrong conclusions, reading signals incorrectly and great hurt.  At times I found myself becoming so frustrated with Kim and Ian, wanting to shout at them to stand still, take a breath and look what is happening.  Kim seems to become completely hung up on her world at home, forgetting that the very things that she complains about in Ian in his new job were her not so long ago.  Ian is so intent on making up for the fact that he is suddenly the main breadwinner and also feels he has to prove himself in his new job, that he becomes unable to communicate his concerns to a wife who no longer seems to have time for him. Aghhhh – I can see your relationship falling apart and yet neither of you can.  It is a testament to Ms Alexander’s writing that I could also feel Kim’s envy for her friend Sarah’s life as an author, yet also hear the alarm bells ringing loudly to warn Kim that her decisions were having awful consequences and yet she didn’t seem to see it.  Misunderstandings and knee jerk reactions have such devastating effects for all the people that Kim holds dear – including the children.

There are no schmaltzy happy endings for every character here.  This is real life and certain actions cannot be undone or forgiven.  I admire the additional change in the relationship between Kim and her mother – how a mother’s desire to protect her children can have devastating consequences if lies are uncovered, even years later.  I laughed and I cried with the characters in this book and I found them to be believable.  The visit to a single friend’s modern flat with 2 young children for a long weekend did make me smile – you will understand when you read it! The author even examines that age old chestnut – can a man and a woman ever be just good friends?

In my opinion an enjoyable contemporary novel about real life relationships that gets 4 stars!

 

About the Author:

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Aimee Alexander is the pen name of best selling author Denise Deegan who writes contemporary family dramas about ordinary people who become extraordinary in crisis. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House and Hachette.

Aimee lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies. She has a Masters in Public Relations and has been a college lecturer, nurse, china restorer, pharmaceutical sales rep, public relations executive and entrepreneur. (taken from Author’s Amazon page)

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (20 Dec. 2015)

Buy the novel on Amazon by clicking here:

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Book Review Eva Jordan’s new novel “All the Colours in Between”

I was fortunate to be given an ARC via The Book Club on Facebook in return for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

 Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

I must be honest with you.  When I asked to review this book by author Eva Jordan I had not read the first book in the series, “183 Times A Year”, so my first stop was to do just that.  I read the books back to back so it is possible I may muddle some events, BUT the first thing that I would recommend is that you do read the first novel before embarking on “All the Colours In Between” for both maximum background and enjoyment.  I will try my best not to give any spoilers for the second book!

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The modern blended, extended family.  Marriage, divorce, teenagers, love, deceit, 3 generations, ex partners, friends, illness, flying the nest – this list is the tip of the iceberg of the life topics to be found in “All the Colours In Between”.  Lizzie is the mum, step mum, lover, daughter, ex-wife, friend and mentor driving the story of her family and the individual members life journeys.  She lives with her daughter, step daughter and son – all young adults by this book – and her partner Simon.  Her parents play a huge role in the family, along with her brother and his family and not forgetting the rollercoaster that is best friend Ruby.  The relationship with her ex, the father of Cassie and Connor, is strained at best.  But at this point Lizzie has become an author against all the odds – selling real books and featuring in the best sellers list – whilst in the first book she dreamed of this whilst working with books as a librarian.images (2)

In this book Lizzie’s daughters Cassie and Maisie have grown up, ditched their teen disguises, spread their wings and left home. Her son Connor has evolved from a lovely pre-teen into a grunting, hoody wearing, sullen sixteen year old.  I normally write a bit more about the plot in my reviews, but I really don’t want to give too much away.  Reading both of Eva Jordan’s novels gave me the same feeling that I had when I first saw the BBC comedy Outnumbered.  I was certain that someone had planted cameras in my household!  Of course as mum I identify with Lizzie – so much.  When she describes her conversations with her children and her own parents, I was shouting “Yes!”  The feelings of exasperation trying to get through to a teenage boy who looks like a man, is the size of a man, sounds like a man, and thinks he is a man yet is really a man boy – these could have been penned by yours truly!  The descriptions of her forays onto Social Media mirrored my own – my young adult kids shake their heads and ask themselves why they introduced me to it!

But Ms Jordan shakes up the commentary by writing different chapters with the voices of different family members.  In the first book she writes as Lizzie and Cassie for the majority of the time, and in this book Connor features to a greater extent too.  The Cassie of “All the Colours In Between” is older, slightly wiser, but still hilarious in her ability to use completely the wrong phrase or to misunderstand a saying.  Whilst her story is extremely dark in places, her love for her family shines through from start to finish.  Her description of a particularly stressful car journey with Maisy toward the end of the book is just hilarious – no spoilers, so no more!  Connor is that teen who feels misunderstood by all adults, is just experiencing sexual attractions, the pull of alcohol, spliffs and parties, yet is still damaged from the rejection by his father as a young child.  Maisy has moved across the world as true love struck, but when life took an unexpected turn (including a meeting with biological mum) it is her family who she returns to.Book Review - All the Colours In Between

I really could write an essay about this book, but needless to say I LOVED IT!  There is no sugar coating life here – relationships fail, family life is hard work to maintain, good things happen and shit happens.  Eva Jordan gives us it all in a way that had me laughing out loud one minute – particularly with Salocin, the grandfather – and then crying the next.  But no matter what life throws at them, this family will continue to grow and love each other….with some hiccoughs along the way. I cannot wait for the next instalment…..please, Eva Jordan!

Five golden stars from me.

 

Blog Tour & Review for “Need You Now” -first in the series of Cloud Bay novels by Emma Douglas

I was fortunate to be given an ARC copy of this book by the author and her publishers, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Imagine that you are the daughter of a legendary rock star, the lead singer of one of the biggest rock bands to come out of the USA. The same legendary rock star who gave you half siblings by different mothers, a dysfunctional yet privileged upbringing and his own brand of love.  An upbringing on an island that, since your father’s untimely death and the subsequent breakup of the band, has become the place of pilgrimage for fans wanting to visit a pivotal place in the band’s history – an island that is your home.

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Imagine that you are a tennis player, at the top of your game with sponsors and adoring fans following your every tournament.  But following shoulder surgery, it is becoming harder and harder to remain in those top rankings and you have announced your unexpected retirement during a press conference.  Now said press, management and fans are desperate to change your mind and you need somewhere to just be incognito and happy in your decision.

Faith Harper is the daughter of Blacklight frontman Grey Harper, and she continues to be the face of the Harper clan in Cloud Bay on Lansing Island as she is the organiser of one of the country’s most popular music festivals, CloudFest. Caleb White has gone to ground since announcing his departure from the tennis circuit until his friend Liam invites him to a music festival, CloudFest, with exclusive use of the home of a Blacklight bandmember.  Neither is looking for a relationship, much less love…..

This is an easy to read, romantic fiction novel that doesn’t always follow the path that the reader expects.  There is a rapport between Faith and Caleb from the moment that they first lay eyes on each other, but they each come with huge amounts of baggage and Ms Douglas does not give us a story where the course of true love runs simply!  Throw in a complicated family that encompasses blood relatives and band members, the attention of the world’s paparazzi and a festival full of music lovers, bands, not to mention surprise acts that fail to show,  what could possibly go wrong?!

The characters are easy to warm to and I felt that they developed into three dimensional people over the course of the story.  It is light – so not for those of you looking for deep literature – but not written in a saccharine or overly sentimental way. Great for a weekend away on a sun lounger or curled up at home for an autumn evening or two. I enjoyed Need You Now and I think that if you are a fan of romantic, contemporary fiction you will too.  This gets 4 stars from me and I’m looking forward to more in the series.

Available from Amazon  Need You Now (Cloud Bay), a Cloud Bay Novel by Emma Douglas – in paperback and Kindle, and other stockists.

Published by St Martin’s Press, 29 August 2017. Macmillan

This post contains an Amazon affiliate link

To conclude her Book Blog Tour – Q&A with author Laura Trentham

Earlier this week I posted my review for new novel Leave the Night On and now to celebrate and conclude her blog tour, here is a fantastic Q&A with author Laura Trentham.

 

  1. What inspired the novel plot?

Plots are strange things for me…I can rarely pinpoint anything in particular that triggers an idea. They usually pop into my head when I doing something else entirely like making dinner of driving the kids around.

  1. What’s your favorite scene? Why?

I love the scene where Sutton gets drunk and finally propositions Wyatt for real. I hope it’s funny and sexy and the reader can feel her mortification when she thinks he turns her down.

  1. Who’s your favorite character? Why?

Wyatt. He’s sexy and tough, but also incredibly sweet. He loves his family and would do anything for them. My heroes are complex and most definitely not a-holes.

  1. Any other books in the pipeline?

Two more Cottonbloom books! WHEN THE STARS COME OUT (1/30/2018) features Wyatt’s twin brother Jackson. SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE (8/2018) is Mack Abbott’s book. Also, sometime in the fall of 2018, I’ll have a military themed romance/women’s fiction book releasing! I’m super excited about it too.

  1. What led you to write in this genre over others?

Actually, my first books were historical romances, and I’ll be re-releasing two and adding a new book in my historical Spies and Lovers series this fall (Sept/Nov 2017). But, while the historical books were on submission with publishers, my agent suggested I try a contemporary. It sold to St. Martin’s Press only a couple of months after my historicals sold. I’ve set all my contemporaries in the American south because that’s where I was born and have lived most of my life. I understand the way southerners talk and think.

  1. Do you have a favorite book and author?

I’m going to have to throw it back to Mary Stewart as my favorite author. I quite often reread her books. But as far as which book I’ve reread the most, it would have to be Julie Garwood’s The Bride.

  1. Why and how did you decide you wanted to write for a living?

I’ve always been an avid reader, but I didn’t even consider writing until five years ago. My daughter started preschool, and going back to work doing what I went to school for (chemical engineering) wasn’t feasible. I sat down one morning and started writing. At first, I didn’t even tell my husband what I was doing. I won’t lie, it took a lot of work and rewrites to get those first manuscripts good enough. But, eventually, I signed with an agent and sold them both.

  1. What’s your favorite way to relax?

Reading! (I know that’s a shocker:) I also enjoy the mindlessness of games on my phone.

  1. What’s your favorite food?

Fried rice! I just learned to make it at home. My rice cooker is my second favorite appliance (behind my coffee maker!)

  1. Sounds like Sutton’s fiancé’s a cheating…um…cheats.  Why did you decide to use that as an aspect of your story?

Andrew is a secondary character in the first Cottonbloom trilogy about the Fournette siblings. He’s kind of a slime ball in those books too.

  1. Tell us something about Wyatt that we don’t learn from the book.

He likes to wear women’s underwear. Just kidding!! Actually, I’m drawing a blank, he’s an open, honest kind of man.

  1. This book is set in Mississippi.  Does this location contribute to the story in some way?

It’s actually set half in Mississippi and half in Louisiana. I wanted a southern location. But, I also envisioned a twist on the wrong side of the tracks story. In Cottonbloom, the more affluent live on the Mississippi side and the blue-collar working class live on the Louisiana side. I wanted that push-pull and rivalry between the two. It informs the relationships between my couples.

Thanks Laura for a great new read!  I will be looking out for some of the other Cottonbloom books….quite fancy finding out what happens to those other Abbott boys!

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Blog Book Tour: Review “Calling Major Tom” by David M. Barnett – Part 1

This week has seen author David M Barnett on a book tour flying between the online world of blogs & social media and the real life world of book stores, as he publicizes his wonderful book “Calling Major Tom”.  You can meet David at The Grove Bookshop, Ilkley  gateway to the Yorkshire Dales on Thursday 13th July from 7pm, if you are in the area!

I first wrote a book review at the beginning of the year ahead of publication and later recommended the book to my local book club as our monthly read.  I would like to share my review with you again, before putting some questions from our book club to the author.

Warning: whilst the review does not contain spoilers, the subsequent questions might!

Book Review for Calling Major Tom by David M. Barnett

I was given a copy of this book(ARC) from Netgalley via The Book Club on Facebook in exchange for a fair & honest review.  All views are my own.calling-major-tom

I challenge you, whether Bowie fan or not, to read this book without constantly having Space Oddity going round your head!  Thomas Major is a lowly scientist working at the British Space Agency when he finds himself in a position to be the first man to visit Mars.  The only thing is that it is a one way mission, but Thomas has his own reasons for wishing to leave his life behind & entering a self imposed solitude.  Back on earth the Ormerod family are struggling to survive – teenager Ellie & younger brother James living with grandmother Gladys whilst their father is in jail. Ellie should be having the time of her life shopping & partying with her friends, but instead her mother has died, she is working 3 jobs, caring for her brother & worrying that social services will split them if they realise that Gladys has dementia.

It was difficult to see how these two very separate story lines could interlink and work, but they dovetail together beautifully from the day that major Tom tries to call his ex-wife from space and Gladys answers the telephone.  Their lives are linked through the most unusual series of events which see Thomas Major helping the Ormerod family overcome financial and social issues…and even come to terms with a few of his own demons.

I loved this book – it made me laugh and cry.  The view from the space ship window is described so vividly that I could see it, and the personalities of the individual main characters brim with life.  The comedy that the writer incorporated into the character of Gladys turns a sensitive situation into a human one.  She made me laugh out loud.  The back story for Thomas Major unfolds and he is surprised to find himself changing as his relationship with the family on Earth develops and makes him re evaluate.  These people were very easy to identify with and I wanted to know what life had in store for them.  Mr Barnett makes the reader care.

A feel good story showing the best in human nature without over sentimentality, and how communities can come together.  An uplifting read that I give 5 stars.

Review also on goodreads, Netgalley & Amazon

Questions for the author

Who was the inspiration for the Thomas Major character?
Why space? And specifically Mars?
If Calling Major Tom were to be made into a film, who would you like to play Thomas Major? Matt Damon of The Martian fame?
The family dynamics between Gladys and her grandchildren are tangible – has David had first hand experience of dementia and if not where did he gain his insight for Gladys’s actions that made us laugh and cry?
Did Thomas see in the Ormerod family what had been missing from his own upbringing? Could he have ever moved forward from this if he had stayed on Earth?
When you started the book, did you intend that it would be so humorous?
 I remember that at the end I felt it wasn’t particularly heartwarming because I didn’t see how Major Tom was going to survive on Mars. What did the author think would happen next – or is there a sequel?
And finally….the obvious – are you a Bowie fan?
Some of the comments from my book club included:
Just finished the book, laughed out load, and cried, loved it!
 
Not finding this easy and it is because I am not liking using the iPad to read. (Book club read it – at my suggestion – before available as a  paperback book)
 
very quick read after the initial few pages…very funny..
General consensus was that we all really enjoyed it!

Answers to follow in Part 2

The book is published by Trapeze Orion Books UK
 
Available from 29 June in paperback, currently £5.59 and ebook £1.99 on Amazon

Calling Major Tom and also from your local bookstore (prices vary).

This contains an affiliate link.

Review of Roomba 630- Is it Worth the Price? from Darci at Life UnPlanned Blog

I belong to a great group for giving practical advice for Mom Bloggers – Life Unplanned – run by the lovely Darci.  She has just reviewed a cordless, robotic vacuum cleaner and it sounds great, particularly for my Spoonie pals!  I want one…..

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Picture from Life Unplanned Blog

“Are your floors a hot mess?  Do you struggle to manage your entrepreneurial duties with maintaining your home in a somewhat presentable state?  I try… lord, I try.  And I’ve found the most exciting appliance that will make you feel on your game and spoiled at the same time.  The Roomba 630 is a basic model iRobot Vacuum-Cleaning Robot.  That’s right, it’s a robot that vacuums for you!  Say what?  Hallelujah!  When I heard the concept, I just had to have one.

The Roomba has technology that navigates throughout your home, has an advanced 3-Stage cleaning system with brushes that reach into corners and suction your floors, simple one-button start, automatic dock and recharge, and vacuums over all floor surfaces including, carpet, tile, hardwood, and laminate without a glitch.

(This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.  See my full disclosure policy here.)

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

My reason for originally trying the Roomba was that I’d had to have surgery on both hands, which made it very difficult to push a traditional vacuum.  The Roomba was gifted to me, and I’ve never looked back!……..”

FOR FULL REVIEW PLEASE GO TO LIFE UNPLANNED BLOG – ROOMBA REVIEW

Balanced Belly Book Club: The Good Gut Guide by Liz Earle

I think you already know that I like a book review and as someone who is increasingly suffering with gut problems, this piece by Jen nutritional therapist at A Balanced Belly blog jumped out at me.  Might be heading off in search of a new book this afternoon…..

“This month’s balanced belly book club review is….. The Good Gut Guide by Liz Earle.

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Image from Amazon

What is it?

The Good Gut Guide is written by skincare guru Liz Earle (think that seems a bit random? Well it’s not really. I’ve blogged before about how our skin is very much connected to our gut) It really is a guide in every sense of the word- it offers sections on the science of our gut microbiome, practical how-to guides (with everything from a probiotic face mask to fermenting foods for dummies), a week by week programme and, of course, lots of recipes.

What I Liked About

I apologise for the gushing and can assure you that not every book review will be littered with over the top praise, but this is truly one of the best books I’ve read about gut health……”

For the full review please follow link: The Balanced Belly Book Club – review The Good Gut Guide

The Princess and the Pea – from little Princess Rubie at My Stripy Life Blog

I have to share this post with you from My Stripy Life blog – a fellow EDS zebra.  Except part of this post has been written by 7 year old Rubie and incorporates a review of her favourite story.  Enjoy……

The story tells of a prince who wants to marry a princess, but is having difficulty finding a suitable wife.  One stormy night a young woman drenched with rain seeks shelter in the prince’s castle. She claims to be a princess, so the prince’s mother decides to test their unexpected guest by placing a pea in the bed she is offered for the night.  She covers the bed in 20 mattresses and 20 feather-beds. In the morning she asks the princess how she slept.  ……..

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Picture from My Stripy Life

For decades I have related to the story of the Princess and the Pea.  As a child I was always tossing and turning in bed at night uncomfortable…………Now, I have my own princess who feels every bump in her bed and is finding parallels with this story and her own life.  When she had to complete a book review for homework this week on her favourite traditional tale she immediately chose this story……”

To read Rubie’s review please follow this link:  Rubie’s review of The Princess and the Pea

Adrenal Fatigue – Pin review from Cathy, Ty Siriol Ceramics & Crafts

Cathy at Ty Siriol Ceramics and Crafts recently posted a short review for this book on pinterest which I thought I would share with you.

The “blurb” from Amazon reads “This is an incredibly informative and reader-friendly book about a common debilitating medical condition that goes largely undiagnosed and untreated. ADRENAL FATIGUE: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome is a very empowering work cram-packed with vital information about a condition that very likely affects millions of people”

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Cathy writes “I’ve recently read this book to try to get to the bottom of why I’m so exhausted, among other things. It’s a really good read and helps you to assess if this could be a problem for you as well as giving really thorough advice….” Remainder of her short review is here:

http://pin.it/tyWipX2

On Amazon the book has received 151 reviews with an average 4.5 stars out of 5.

Album Review: The Lonely Cry of Space & Time by Anna Coogan

I have just read this review for an artist that I have never heard of in Hifi Pig magazine.  Not quite in character for me – usually Duncan, Mr Intimate Audio, who would be doing this – but I thought I would have a listen based on the review.  Very, very unique sound – slightly reminiscent of Kate Bush…..anyway I have ordered it for Mr Intimate Audio, so great review James Fleming at Hifi Pig!!

The fight against ignorance is central to The Lonely Cry Of Space And Time. Combining the natural with the political, the scientific with the philosophical, and then soundtracking those themes with stirring, atmospheric electric guitar-strumming and haunting vocals is a deadly concoction.

Anna Coogan’s operatic Kate Bush-esque vocals spread the good word across The Lonely Cry Of Space And Time. A voice of reason in an era that conclusively proves that common sense is neither, Coogan’s words are a subversive and eloquent “fuck y’all.”

Underneath its sweet tones and stunning musicianship is a deep dissatisfaction with the status quo of today. The status quo appearing to be ignorance.

Both musical and cultural; here is a classically-trained opera singer armed to the teeth with an electric guitar, a record’s worth of great songs and sharp lyrical insight into the 21st century. If the top 40 sounded like this, we wouldn’t have Supreme Overlord Donald to worry about.”

Full article can be found here :Anna Coogan: The Lonely Cry of Space & Time

It has some great artwork too!!

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