Challenging my views

Zack #3 Cold Fury Sawyer Bennett   (possible spoilers!)

I downloaded Zack’s book whilst I was reading Garrett’s.  But the scene for Zack’s story was revealed in Garrett’s book, and its not a story theme I’m comfortable with, at all.  In fact, I decided not to read it.

Its a personal thing, but I have an issue with men who seem to move quickly through their mourning to their next relationship.  I find it disrespectful to their dead partner and difficult to read.  The problem was that Ryker’s book is looming, so I decided to motor through Zack’s book so I’d have enough of the basics to enjoy Ryker’s book (like who the hell is he?!).

But damn that Sawyer Bennett she wasn’t going to make it easy for me!  As usual I was suckered in by Ms Bennett’s fabulous characterisation and story telling.  I felt for Zack, even though I knew what was coming and I didn’t feel it was quite right.  Is five months a respectful mourning period?  Should we advocate dressing in black forever more?  Who knows?

In a way that’s the point – who knows what’s right and what’s right is different for everyone.  What was challenging was Gina was a young mother and it was an accident, Zack had no prep for what he should do.  Should you sell the house you shared?  Is that right for her child? What about her clothes?  How many photos are respectful? and how many are creepy?

The fact that Zack and Gina weren’t married was the kicker for me and a genius move from the author.  He struggled with it.  So did I.  I would have liked to have understood how much Gina’s death impacted his view of marriage.  Did it make him more open for marriage?  More likely to commit?  Or was it simply a different person?   What does that say about his relationship with his child’s mother?  He didn’t go there, and I wonder if he didn’t think about it or didn’t realise it.

Twenty-four hours later I’m still thinking about it.   For me, this is the quality of Sawyer Bennett’s writing.  We all know the way romance is rubbished – hell, I’m even guilty of it “need a trashy romance for my holiday”.  Sure this is a romance, but when you’re still thinking about it a day later, its certainly not throwaway rubbish.  There are so few writers who can do what she’s done with the first three of the Cold Fury books.  Roll on Ryker…

Again like with Garrett, to be really honest it was the epilogue that I wanted to change.  It was all going so well, until Zack articulated aloud his views on marriage to Kate.  I just wish he’d kept them to himself, it still would have been a HEA, but I would have felt that Zack got it right.  No doubt, most people will disagree?  Either way she’s fast becoming one of my fave writers.

Here’s what I said about Garrett’s epilogue:

Four shorts

On the Hunt (short story anthology) Alexandra Ivy, Rebecca Zanetti, Dianne Duvall & Hannah Jayne

I usually prefer my books long – very long – and so avoid short stories.  But I’d heard a lot about the authors of the first three stories in this anthology and decided to give it a go (thanks netgalley!).  When I say I’ve now downloaded books by both Ivy and Zanetti you’ll understand that I’m glad I went with these shorts.

The first three were for me that bit better – fast paced, memorable characters, intricate world settings and strong story lines.  I was particularly annoyed when Scorpius Rising finished – a new take on a wannabe zombies?!  Those damn hunky Scotsmen are everywhere.

But for me the passion, longing and raw sensuality of Mika and Bailey won me over – and there was enough of the intricate world that Ms Ivy has created to really have me hooked!

As for Dianne Duvall’s ghost story – who doesn’t love a lonely spirit or want a sexy dream or two?!  Yuri seemed both lost and yet very real.  Whilst the ending was perhaps a bit obvious I just loved Yuri, I would have loved to have seen more of his interactions.

The fourth story, was a tad different (probably in a good way) with strong characterisation but perhaps I’d done the short thing by then or perhaps it lacked the pace.  I didn’t quite get the first person story but the fashion setting made it stand out.

Thank you to netgalley for an ARC in return for an honest review.


swings & roundabouts

A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother  Christie Barlow

Snorting – well there seem to be a variety of definitions for snorting and there’s also a number of things one can snort.  It’s open source networks, drug taking and even sipping a whiskey.  None of which define what I did whilst reading this quite honestly mad book.  Yep, I snorted and more than once.  But it seems I need to define snorting?  Its when you publicly hold a laugh in until it escapes and you make a dreadful sound.  Better to have laughed hysterically, in hindsight.

The heroine is a pain – truly does the woman know the meaning of no?   And could she ever say it?!  Even when swinging (and not on the playground swings) is on offer she can’t manage those two letters!   Urgh!

As a rule if the heroine isn’t that likeable usually the book’s a dud – not so here.  I return to the issue of snorting – frequently and in public!  Oh dear!

Being a mother with a few playground antics of my own, I thought I’d be identifying my own playground mums.  I’m kind of relived I wasn’t.  The overall theme is one that any mother will identify with, especially at Rachel’s first school, but the characters later on are more unique (read mad, again snorting).

My main advice ladies is give this to the dads.  Mine has remained oblivious to the school yard mothers, if only I could get him to read this he may actually listen? One lives in hope.

Places not to read this book – on the tube (definitely), by the pool (well, I guess if you don’t know anyone its okay) and in your garden when the neighbours are entertaining (yeah, that one’s a no no!).  So, if you can find the spot to read a ridiculous book and snort without issue then go and download it!

Calling all cat girls

Taming the Billionaire Jessica Clare

If I have to choose an animal its always going to be a cat, so Jessica Clare’s new heroine had me at “come here kitty..” A feline behaviorist  – love it!

Jessica Clare is queen of the billionaire romance, she sets a standard that few even aspire to.

For me, this probably didn’t hit quite the heights of her other books.  Its about the hero for me.  I needed to know him more, I needed to have that absolute moment when he fell for Edie.  Perhaps my challenge was that he was just a tad more crude than I expected and a lot less geeky than felt right to me.  Oh and his brother was a douche! (then so was her sister!)

However, I got Edie’s moment when she knew that pushing him had worked.  Of course, she was surrounded by cats.  Perfect!

If you love the alpha rich man, the heroine who finds her balls and animals this is a winner.  And even better Gretchen and Hunter appear.  I love that girl, she’s so damn honest!  Bring on her wedding!

Definitely recommend this 4 solid stars.

game free zone!

First day of the school holidays, if its a bit damp and murky where you are, perhaps its a great day to be curled up with a book.  Personally, I think any day is a great day to be curled up with a book!

Choosing your next book is such a fab experience – that’s the thinking behind the Big Little Sister reading challenge for kids.  The idea is to encourage children and those caring for them to do more than just read but to talk and think books too!

You can find details on the reading challenge here

If you think its open to interpretation or a bit vague – you’re right and deliberately so.  This gives kids the chance to choose books that appeal and more hopefully inspire.

The list has been written to appeal to all age ranges (including those big kids – adults!) – even the littlest ones can help choose their library books to meet the challenge.

Here are some suggestions for children in the KS2 age range (7-10 yo).  I will try to update this with suggestions and I might even try to do an 11+ list or a younger readers list if there’s any interest for it.

But the joy of the challenge is for children to find the books themselves, and to interpret the categories as they like.  I may interpret them wrongly afterall!  So, if you get stuck have a look below.

 1.  A book with a profession in the title

The most obvious one here is David Walliam’s Demon Dentist.  This category is made a lot easier if you’re a royalist or simply think being a Princess, King or Queen is a profession – if you do then you won’t need much help!

My favourite here would be the Magician’s Nephew and anything Witch related (eg Jill Murphy).  Something left field would be Cow Girl by G R Gemin.  Other professions in the titles are:

Dr Dolittle
The Witches (Dahl)
The Mum Minder (Jacqueline Wilson)
Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter (Astrid Lindgren)
The Pet Sitter (Julie Sykes)

2. Someone’s story

Reluctant readers will love this one – after all there will be endless David Beckham and One Direction books!   This is about finding one individual’s story.  Is it a person or an animal?  You decide.

Perhaps a bit of Beatrix Potter and Jemima or Jeremy Fisher or what about Pippi Longstocking?

I recently read Pinocchio, I didn’t enjoy it but it’s definitely a classic and of course the original story is a world away from Walt’s version!  Talking of Disney, there’s a whole range of books that inspired the movies – anyone who saw Paddington might love the book.  There’s also a few books about a boy called Harry that were made into films.  Some others:

The Story of Tracy Beaker Jacqueline Wilson
Audrey of the Outback Christine Harris
Danny the Champion of the World Roald Dahl
Black Beauty
Charlotte’s Web

3. A book that’s won a prize

You could go for an American classic like The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (Caldecott Medal winner).  My absolute favourite is Rooftoppers Katherine Rundell (Carnegie Medal & Guardian Children’s).  A winner this year is Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens (Waterstones) is another modern favourite.

The thing here is to research some of the prizes given to children’s authors.  And don’t restrict yourself to just your own country!

4. A book title that is size related

Ooh! this one is a just fab!  American classics Laura Ingalls Wilder or Louise May Alcott are good starters both for “little”.   Surely Roald Dahl’s BFG counts?  Well, if not James and the Giant Peach does!  Some other suggestions:

The Little Prince  Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea
101 Dalmations

 5.  A book that’s out of this World

Well, what does this mean – let the imagination run riot!  Books in this category is one of the main reasons that adults still read kid’s books so choose one for yourself!

My little one suggests Rooftoppers. But you might also like to go for Narnia, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson (Rick Riordan) or even Lewis Carroll’s Alice?  And if you like Sci-Fi I loved a Winkle in Time as a child.

There’s also some amazing Greek and Roman myth books out there.  Or what about the solar system?

7.  A book that solves a mystery

This is another vague category, ready for you interpretation.  I’m thinking mystery books – what about you?  Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton, Sherlock Holmes there’s so many to choose from.  Some less well known ones:

Ottoline and the Yellow Cat Chris Riddell
Violet and the Pearl of the Orient Harriet Whitehorn
Or what about a history book?  A chance to learn more about the Pyramids?  Or the mystery of the sea?

8. A book with a natural phenomenon in the title

For me I’d like to books with an amazing natural occurrence in them like Storm Boy (Colin Thiele).  But the natural phenomenon might be more of an everyday thing like Watership Down, The Wind in the Willows or Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Or an obvious natural occurrence like Treasure Island, The Jungle Book or Around the World in Eighty Days.

Michael Morpurgo is worth tracking down for this one – Listen to the Moon is a great story.

Remember its the title that has nature in it!

9. A factual book

So many to choose from but I love the horrible histories – the Vile Victorians are a fave!

10.  A book that delights one of your senses

This one should delight most children, it doesn’t have to be about the story.  Don’t forget choosing a book is about covers, titles, stories or illustrations.

My first choice here would be a Lemony Snicket book – I love the way the author’s name sounds and feels on my tongue, and of course it sounds funny and lemons taste and smell horrid!  Are there any other authors with great names?  Dr Seuss anyone?

You might be thinking titles with colours or music or clothes.  What about chocolate? Can you really go past Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

What about a cover you just love?


Well, that’s just for starters…..

I will update based on suggestions from others and ideas I come across.

Seeping grief

You, Me and Other People Fionnuala Kearney

Grief, grief, and a bit more grief.  This really shouldn’t be a good read, yet its wonderful.  Its a book all about relationships and the grieving process.  At the heart of the story is Beth and Adam’s marriage,  Adam’s dim choices has left their marriage in tatters.

Whilst Beth starts to move forward and grieve for her twenty year marriage, Adam is unable to.  And slowly, his wider issues reveal themselves and it becomes clear that Adam has more to deal with and to grieve for.  His inability to grieve and face his demons drove his unwise choices.

Its hard to forgive lies and secrets in a marriage, of course it is.  Yet, Adam has perhaps inadvertently, taken on a great deal, he copes by hiding behind secrets (and their subsequent lies).  Once he starts is it that he can’t stop lying and hiding?  Or is it that seems so easy?  Or has he become addicted to his web of secrets and lies – like a comfort blanket?  After all, as an adult he agreed to keep one huge secret.

What intrigued me the most was Beth’s view that Adam was all about drama.  Hard as it sounds, she’s right in trying to hide his history Adam created drama time after time.  Yet, she lived with him for twenty years and never saw what he hid.

Of course, I don’t want to add in any spoilers, but Adam’s biggest grief is his missed opportunity – he missed out on what should have been the most wondrous relationship just as he was offered a glimpse.  Its a real tragedy.

Totally recommended, I think book clubs will find a lot to talk about – I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Thank you netgalley for an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.