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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

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I’ve never read anything by Jane Fallon before, but there must be something about her book covers that appeals because I have no less than three of her books on my shelves! I’m not a big fan of chick-lit, because it’s generally utterly predictable and fairly bland, but I had a feeling this would have a bit more bite to it, and I was right.

Tamsin and Michelle have been best friends forever, and would do anything for each other. So when Tamsin gets a hint that Michelle’s husband Patrick is cheating, she asks her good friend and work assistant Bea to proposition him in  a ‘honey trap’ situation so that she can catch Patrick out. However – and as we discover from the very first page – things don’t go to plan.

The first third of the book is narrated purely from Tamsin’s point of view, and if I’m honest, it took me a while to get into and I was starting to feel a bit blah about the whole thing. Then the narration starts to switch between Tamsin and Bea, and it picked up a lot. Considerably in fact, to the point where I found myself waiting for when I could pick the book up again.

Some parts are completely predictable and if I’m honest, some the characters are pretty stereotypical – Patrick is a bit of a pantomime villain, while Michelle is almost sickeningly sweet. I found it difficult initially to warm to Tamsin, but she grew on me throughout the book. There is a lot of humour though, and ultimately a lot of heart in this book. It’s a fairly undemanding read, and the ending did surprise me, but in a good way.

Overall I’m glad I stuck with it and I am looking forward to reading more  by Jane Fallon.

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Another audiobook to accompany me while running.

Emma is six months away from her 30th birthday when she finds the wish list she made with her friends at the age of 15 (actually I’d call it more of a bucket list than a wish list) showing all the things they hope to achieve by the time they were 30. To her disappointment, Emma realises that she has not managed to even achieve one item – not even grow her hair long!

So with half a year to go, she decides to complete the list, and along the way she discovers a few things about herself and a few things about her closest friends. It’s typical chick-lit, so of course there is a heavy emphasis on romance and female friendships, with her closest friends Cally and Asha playing fairly large roles in the book.

On the good side, Jane Costello does throw in some good one-liners; it’s an undemanding read/listen  and it kept my attention – I certainly did not find myself drifting off. On the bad side, it’s very predictable – there are sub-plots and I correctly guessed the outcome of all of them (as well as the outcome of the main plot). This is a fairly common thing with chick-lit though, and you always know what to expect when you read a book like this – for a lot of readers, that’s the attraction which is absolutely understandable – so maybe my gripe is not entirely fair.

I felt that Alex Tregear did a reasonable job of narrating the story, even if some of the accents were a bit over the top. I preferred Girl On The Run by the same author, but I would probably listen to another book by Jane Costello and would recommend her to chick-lit fans.

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Don Tillman is a highly intelligent but socially inept professor of genetics. He is able to count his friends on one hand, is painfully literal and brutally honest – not through any cruelty, but just through lack of social skills. When he decides that he needs a wife, he acts in typical fashion and devises a questionnaire to select the perfect candidate and weed out anyone who is not suitable.

So when Rosie walks into his life, Don immediately dismisses her as entirely unsuitable – she smokes, drinks, is led by emotion rather than logic and is habitually late. She is also on a mission to find out the identity of her real father – and Don, as a geneticist, is ideally placed to help her. As they become friends and go through a number of adventures to obtain the DNA of the various candidates, Don finds that sometimes emotions do trump logic, and what should make two people incompatible can sometimes be exactly what makes them click with each other.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. It is narrated from Don’s point of view, which gives plenty of opportunity for humour, and also means that the reader empathises with him in a way that wouldn’t have been so easy if it were told in the third person. I also really liked Rosie – she is feisty, intelligent and witty, and the two of them made a great main couple of characters as they navigated the highs and lows of friendship.

The ending really made me smile as well – it covers more than just the outcome of the friendship between Don and Rosie – and manages to be both surprising and heartwarming.

I highly recommend this book and am already looking forward to reading the sequel, The Rosie Effect.

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This was my most recent ‘listening while running’ audiobook, and the first book by Lucy Diamond I had read/listened to in any format.

There are four main characters – best friends India, Eve, Jo and Laura. They are all at a leisurely lunch to celebrate India’s birthday when they witness a horrific crash. The emotions it stirs up in each of them causes them all to take stock of their life. India is devastated to hear about one of the young victims of the crash, which strikes a chord with her due to her own personal history; Eve, always calm and in control, finds herself unsure of how to deal with the worrying lump she has found in her breast; Jo uncharacteristically jumps headlong into a new relationship which moves at lightning speed; and Laura, who has wanted a baby for years, feels the maternal pull more deeply than ever. As life changes for each of them, the one constant is their friendship and support for each other.

I liked this book more than I probably expected to. I think I was expecting a fluffy chick-lit novel, and while this is definitely aimed at a female readership, it actually wasn’t fluffy, and it addressed real life problems – health issues, past sorrows, changing relationships and new families – in a respectful way. I find it hard to choose a favourite character as happily all four women were very likeable.

The audiobook is narrated by Clare Wille, who did a good job of bringing all the characters to life and making them all distinctive. I don’t think the ending brought too many surprises, but it was satisfying and appropriate to the story which had gone before. Overall, this was a pleasant surprise and I would definitely read or listen to more books by Lucy Diamond.

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This book has been receiving all sorts of accolades and applause, and after reading it, I can absolutely see why.

The story is told from the point of view of Eleanor Oliphant, a 30 year old accounting clerk who leads a regimented and lonely life. She goes to work in the week, where she doesn’t mix with her colleagues at all. Her weekends are spent in her flat, on her own, with two bottles of vodka for company. Eleanor’s only interaction with anyone else is her weekly conversation with  her mother, with whom there is a clearly a difficult relationship (and more about it is drip-fed throughout the book). Her life starts to change when she and a colleague help an old man who collapses in the street, and she is forced to interact with others and navigate her way through a world that is alien to her.

I’m not really sure what I expected from this book, but I absolutely loved it. The writing is fantastic and flows so well, balancing humour (and some of Eleanor’s thoughts and interactions are hilarious and simultaneously cringeworthy) and extreme sadness. Eleanor is literally to the nth degree and while she is clearly intellectually clever, she has no idea of how to behave in a social setting. (For example, upon learning that it is customary to take alcohol to a party, she takes a half empty bottle of vodka as a birthday present to someone, along with a packet of cheese slices, reasoning that men always love cheese.)

The ending contained one last surprise which I was not expecting, and which wrapped the story up beautifully That said, I would like to know more of what happened to Eleanor after the end of the book, but at the same time, this book was so perfect that a sequel just isn’t needed.

I highly, highly recommend this book – it will make you smile, it will make you laugh, it might make you cry and it will definitely make you think.

 

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The Hartes and The Golds have lived next door to each other for years. The two couples are best friends, and their children – Christopher and Emily – grew up together, and eventually fell in love. Life is seemingly idyllic for the families, until the night where Emily is killed from a gunshot to the head, and Chris tells his parents that it was a suicide pact gone wrong. Neither family wants to believe this could have happened and both want to know the truth. But as the police investigation begins, both sets of parents have to question how well they really knew their children at all.

As is almost always the case with Jodi Picoult, this book is compelling reading, and held my interest throughout. There are two timelines – the one in the past which builds up the history of Chris and Emily’s relationship, and the one in the present day, which focuses on the police investigation and the discovery of what really happened that fateful night.

As it transpired, I actually found myself disliking both sets of parents and feeling more sympathy towards the Chris and Emily – Emily in particular, not only because she dies at the very start of the story, but also because she actually seemed the most likeable character of all. I did enjoy the character of Jordan McAfee, Chris’s attorney and his assistant Selena. I was not particularly able to warm to Chris but I had to remind myself that he was a privileged (read, spoiled) teenager, going through an incredibly tough process. There were a few things that jarred with me – Emily’s mother Melanie mistakenly believes at one point that her new neighbours are a gay couple and wonders what kind of neighbourhood she and her family have moved to. I’m not sure if this was meant to be a reflection upon the character of Melanie herself however, I also felt that Emily and Chris were almost pushed together because it was what their parents’ wanted, not necessarily what they themselves might have wanted.

Nonetheless, if you want a story that moves along at a good pace, despite alternate chapters set in different timelines, and one that that will keep you guessing as well as presenting the reader with a moral dilemma, then I would probably recommend this book. It’s not Picoult’s best (my own lowly opinion would rate that as the excellent Nineteen Minutes) but it’s still an absorbing story.

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Emma O’Donovan is the girl every girl wants to be. She is clever, beautiful and the envy of her friends. Until the night that she goes to a party and her life takes a downhill turn. All of a sudden everyone hates her, she is classed as a whore and there are lurid photos of her all over Facebook. It’s made clear to the reader that what her friends and schoolmates initially consider to be her sleeping consensually with a group of men, was actually a group rape; however this doesn’t stop people taunting her and calling her all sorts of names.

Emma’s life falls apart when the case becomes public knowledge, her family start to split at the seams and people still blame her for what happened, and the book shows the aftermath of the terrible event.

I am in two minds about this book. I think it’s an important subject, and I quite like that O’Neill does not wrap everything up in a neat bow at the end, although I didn’t actually like the ending she chose to write. However, Emma is (I suspect intentionally) in the beginning at least, a deeply unpleasant young woman. She tries to get her friend’s boyfriend to fancy her, she is jealous of any girl who may be approaching being as pretty as Emma herself is and is unnecessarily unkind to people. None of this matters a jot – or at least none of it should matter a jot – of course when she is horrifically violated. What happened was wrong, full stop. The reaction of others was almost as horrific as the violation itself.

The first half of the book lays out Emma’s character and shows events leading up to the night of the party, while the second half deals with the aftermath. I did not like Emma’s mother at all, and felt that she was at least partly to blame for Emma’s obsession with her looks. Her father was not a likeable character too, although I suspect that his treatment of Emma after the rape was for some, all too accurate. I did however like her brother Bryan.

I feel that this is a book that people should read, and it is certainly one I raced through due to the flow of the writing, but can I say that I loved it? No – it’s hard to love a book with this subject. But I would probably recommend it.

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