Title: After You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Published: 2015
Genre: Fiction

Rating: 2 out of 5

Synopsis:

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?
Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

Review:

This book is the sequel to Me Before You, a novel which I loved. I was so excited to see that Jojo Moyes had released a follow up book. And then I read it…

I did not enjoy this book. I found it completely unrealistic; with unhappy story lines and characters I didn’t really like. I just did not get into this book at all. We return to the life of Lou; Lou, who is depressed and mourning Will. He is a haunting her, all the time; and in a moment of craziness – to make herself feel alive – she tries to walk along a ledge at the top of a several storey high block of flats drunk, and she falls. Where will life take her next? She meets a lovely paramedic, she meets a member of Will’s family she knew nothing about and spends all her time trying to help her, and her Mum seems to have a midlife crisis.

I think there was too much going on in the book. There were too many story lines, too many people suffering and having some major crisis. The story about her Mum finally stepping out of her shell, of “finding herself” was too much for me. I didn’t care that she wasn’t shaving her legs. For me, it didn’t add anything to the story.

And the story of Sam, the lovely paramedic. Would she really have been allowed to go in the ambulance with him? Probably not. And would she have seen what she did? Helped out like she did? I doubt it. For me, it seemed so unrealistic. And this spoilt the story for me.

Gosh, I don’t seem to have much that is positive to say about this novel. I finished it… I wanted to get to the end. I guess I wanted to know how Lou’s life was going to turn out. But at the same time I was reluctant to pick this book up. This book is sad. It is quite unrealistic. And actually, at times I was bored. I really wanted to enjoy this book, but I didn’t.

I am rating this novel 2 out of 5. To be honest, (and I write this sadly) I wish Jojo Moyes had just left this sequel well alone.

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Addition: E-book
Genre: Christian, non-fiction
Rating: 2 out of 5
Synopsis:

A practical guide to parenting that starts with the differences that the Gospel makes in the lives of those doing the parenting – most Christian books ignore this aspect.

I decided to read this book as a group of Mum’s from my local church were reading through it together, and in the hope I might make it to one of the mornings, I decided to read along with them. Sadly, I didn’t make it as I was working each week but I still read the book. It is a hard book to review as I haven’t read many parenting books and everyone has different theology, but I will have a go! This review is more personal than for other books because it addresses my love for God, my theology and decisions on parenting we have made in our marriage.

This book is advertised as a practical way of parenting whilst focusing on the Gospel. The first few chapters were full of the good news of Jesus, and it was an encouraging read. But then Farley started to get “practical” and I discovered I disagreed with most of what he said. I disagreed with his parenting style and his theology. Oddly, I seemed to agree with his opening paragraph of each chapter e.g. that the husband is head of the home (he will be the one who will stand before God and give answers about our family and our decisions) but I didn’t agree that wives are secondary when it comes to parenting. I don’t want to get into a theological debate, but God created man and woman differently, with different roles, but one is not more important than the other. I disagreed with a lot of this theology e.g. “Father’s do not provoke your child to anger” – I don’t think this is meant just for Dad’s, but he said it was. In fact, he believes all references to parenting in Scripture are just for fathers – this surely isn’t right. And I also disagreed with how he disciplines. We don’t smack our children in our house, and I don’t think that should be the first go-to when disciplining children. I found this book hard to read – he seemed to be saying that the most important person in the house is the man, that women are secondary but shouldn’t work as that will damage their children and that we need to break our children’s self-will, even though he said that is a gift from God. I left most chapters confused by his thoughts, and then strongly disagreeing with them! Interestingly, speaking to a few friends who have read this book, they also have disagreed with a lot of what Farley says.

I found the writing style hard to follow at times too. He was wordy, and not always clear. Another problem I had, was it felt like a large chunk of the book were statistics or quotes from other parenting books. It didn’t seem like a lot of what he said was based on the Bible.

From this book, I am grateful for the reminder that the Gospel is the centre of everything, and how we parent should reflect that. I want to teach my children about Jesus, and I want to love them and serve them well. This book has helped me to think about parenting, my beliefs and sparked conversations between me and my husband about parenting, which can only be a good thing (even if I did disagree with this book!). I don’t think I would recommend this book, but I am thankful for the way it has helped me consider parenting and how we raise our children. I am rating this book 2 out of 5.

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2015 Reading Book 13 – The Fountain by Mary Nichols

Synopsis:

Worn down by several years of marriage, Barbara feels she has lost all the vitality of her youth. But her old friend Simon is not prepared to let Barbara lose sight of the woman she really is – the woman he has always loved. He reawakens Barbara’s passion and fighting spirit – but at what cost?

Quick Thoughts
This is the third book off my Mount TBR Challenge that I have read. I was looking forward to reading it as I enjoyed Nichols’ novel The Summer House (it was one of my top reads in 2011), yet I found this novel to be a complete disappointment. I didn’t like the storyline and I didn’t like the characters. For me, this was essentially a book about adultery and I didn’t enjoy it. I only finished this book because it is on my Mount TBR Challenge. I can’t think of a positive thing to say about this story really. This isn’t a happy read; I did not like reading about this unhappy marriage and the unfaithfulness of both spouses; and (this is a very trival point!) the story is called The Fountain, yet that doesn’t feature until right at the end of the book!

Rating: 2 out of 5

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Addition: E-book
Genre: Fiction, chick-lit
Published: 2001
Rating: 2 out of 5
Synopsis:

Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows?

Twenty years, two people, ONE DAY.

This novel follows the lives of two people, Emma and Dexter, on the same day for twenty years. They meet on the night of their graduation and stay up talking, amongst other things. In the morning they must go their separate ways. The novel visits them on 15th July, St. Swithin’s day, for twenty years. We follow them through their twenties, when Emma is struggling to find direction for her life and Dexter is on TV; and through their thirties where Emma has made it as a Young Adult author and Dexter has a failing marriage and no direction for his life. We follow their friendship, various romances and all the things life throws at them. There is a twist at the end of the novel, but I won’t give any more away than that.

I was really excited to read this book a few years ago when the book came out. I remember there was a lot of hype – and a lot of people questioning whether Anne Hathaway should have been chosen to play a Yorkshire girl (I haven’t seen the film so can’t comment on that decision!) I remember I was traveling home from York, stuck on the M25 and Fearne Cotton was raving about this book. I immediately downloaded it as I needed something to do but I didn’t get very far. I managed a few chapters – up to the point of Emma working in a Mexican restaurant and Dexter travel ling and realised I was bored. I stopped reading the book then. This year I have decided to take part in the 2014 Mount TBR Challenge, which can be found on Goodreads. I selected this novel as one of the books I would read that had been hanging around for a while.

To be completely honest, I did not like this book. I found it very slow and really sad. This is not an uplifting read. I was bored most of the way through this book. I’m disappointed to be writing this because this book has won a lot of awards, but in my opinion the book is dull. There a several reasons for this I think:

  1. I didn’t like the characters – any of them. There isn’t much to say about that! I found Emma quite miserable. I wanted her to man-up most of the book and stop complaining. And Dexter, I felt like he needed to grow up and get help for many issues in his life. I wasn’t bothered by any of the supporting characters either.
  2. Although a clever concept, one day in time, I found it missed out huge chunks of their lives so I never felt like I could relate or that I knew the characters very well. For me, it felt like there was a lot missing from the book because it just focused on that solitary day.
  3. I didn’t relate to any of the issues. There was nothing I could empathise with, nothing that stood out for me.
  4. I kept reading because I knew there was twist coming. However, when it arrived I wasn’t surprised at all. I had suspected that it would happen from quite early on in the book.

It is unusual for me to finish I book I dislike so much, but I really wanted to complete a book in my TBR Challenge. I think that is the single reason why I completed the book – not a great reason at all! I’m rating this book 2 out of 5 simply because even though I didn’t like it at all, I did finish the book.

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The fifth book finished in 2014 was David Nicholls’ One Day. This book I have had waiting to be read for a long time, so I added it to my 2014 Mount TBR challenge; so I am pleased to say I have read it. 1 down, 11 to go in that challenge.

What to say about One Day…to be honest, I really disliked it. I found it slow, boring and sad. It was not a happy book. I feel bad typing this, as it was quite the phenomenon when it was released – I remember hearing about it all over the place, but I didn’t like it. I will write a review of this book and expand my thoughts more; however I will say I didn’t like either Dexter or Emma, the lead characters; I didn’t find the story gripping and I just wanted to get to the end and tick it off my list.

Addition: E-book
Genre: Fiction, chick-lit
Published: 2001
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Addition: Review e-book

Rating: 2/5

Synopsis:

Emily is a lonely, disillusioned, teaching assistant at a college of Further Education. Jamie is a neglected, unpredictable student. Trapped together in a falling lift, wherever will this lead? Told from Emily’s point of view, this story explores the ambiguity of relationships between staff and students, and reflects on who is actually in control.

I saw this book advertised on a blog site and thought I would check it out. I got it as a review book from Smashwords but to be honest I wish I had not wasted my time. The story follows Emily, a teaching assistant who also works at a call centre. Due to having two jobs she has not made friends and feels isolated and alone. She does not even think the students appreciate her. She finds herself in the lift, after having handed in her resignation at the college when it breaks down. The other person in the lift is one of the students she helps, Jamie. Unsure as to his feelings towards her, she is shocked when he kisses her as the lift plunges downwards. This then leads onto a full relationship, and for a time he lives with her as his father has kicked him out. But all is not as good as it seems, and she finds herself manipulated by Jamie, embarrassed by the students and intimidated by Jamie’s father. All of which leads to the college finding out what has been going on…

This book had the potential to be really good. Other stories that have involved student-teacher relationships, such as The Ice-Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson and Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller were readable and gripping. This book wasn’t. I found Chisnell’s writing to be amateur – almost as if she wasn’t used to writing a story. The style reminded me of celebrity autobiographies, where they almost seem to list what has happened. There was also  a lot of bad language, which I didn’t like.

I wasn’t really a fan of any of the characters. Emily irritated me – I thought she was a bit needy, always wondering what people thought of her and whining that she had no friends. I thought she could have resolved her problems in another way. I also didn’t think much of Jamie, although he did come across as a stereotypical teenage boy – into alcohol, sex and the like.

The storyline wasn’t all that believable – the kiss in the lift was very cliché and so was the relationship, sneaking around and the worry of being caught. I think the college handled the situation well but I did think Chisnell weakened the story by having Emily resign before the affair started. I did finish this book, but I didn’t think much of it. Other reviews have rated this book highly, but for me, I just didn’t enjoy it at all.

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Synopsis:

A fast-paced, wickedly funny tale of office back-stabbing and corporate intrigue that unfolds in a succession of escalating e-mails.

Carla Browne-1/5/00, 3:05 pm
to: All Departments
re: I’m leaving now . . . but before I go there are some things you should know . . . !!!!

Set in a London ad agency desperate to land a coveted big account, e follows the bureaucratic bungling, cutthroat maneuvers, and outrageous sexual antics of a group of Miller-Shanks employees as they scheme, lie, lust, and claw their way up (and down) the company ladder.

Written by a former advertising copywriter, this hilarious, dead-on-target novel marks the debut of a hip and exciting new voice in contemporary fiction. With the click of a mouse, Matt Beaumont brings the novel of letters into the twenty-first century, turning his merciless, unerring eye on today’s Machiavellian corporate culture-with uproarious results.

Rachel Stevenson, Personnel-1/5/00, 3:09 pm
to: Chandra Kapoor cc: David Crutton
re: Urgent: Please delete Carla Browne’s ID from e-mail with immediate effect. Thank you.

This book was recommended to me as a friend who loved this book. However, I didn’t enjoy this book very much. The story is told through e-mails so you do not really get a chance to get to know the characters for who they are. What the reader does see is an office where people do not like each other very much and are all out to make themselves look the best. There is the boss who can’t send emails without sending them to everyone who works for the company, even though who work abroad; the secretaries who all back-stab each other and sleep around and the head of department who stole ideas from others.

This book is full of lies, swearing and disaster. The company is trying to launch a new campaign but the staff don’t appear to be very good and the ideas being used are stolen from some students and being passed off as their own. We see disaster abroad with models falling sick and their implants exploding on aeroplanes. There were some funny moments in this book, but this is not a story that portrays humans and office work well. Are people really this horrid? I found some of it hard to believe – some of the characters were extremely two-faced and others were just idiots.

It didn’t take long to read this as the story is broken up into emails, most of them short. There wasn’t a character I liked the most, I just carried on reading to see what would happen to this horrendous company. I don’t have much to say about this book. I didn’t think it was that good and probably would not recommend it. I would only give this 2/5.

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