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:Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2014
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

When Class 10B got their flu shots, they expected some side effects. Maybe a sore arm. Maybe a headache. They definitely didn’t expect to get telepathy. But suddenly they could hear what everyone was thinking. Their friends. Their teachers. Their parents. Now they all know that Tess has a crush on her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper. Some of them will thrive. Some of them will break. None of them will ever be the same.

I received this book from Netgalley to write an honest review.

The synopsis attracted me to this book – can you imagine if everyone can hear your thoughts? And what if you can hear their’s? And, even worse, what if you are a teenager at the time? Goodness me! I think this book portrays this horror well. School can be tough enough to get through without everyone being able to hear your thoughts. Everyone will know who you like, if you tried to cheat and what you really think about yourself. This story is full of revelations, friendships are made and relationships are broken. There is the realisation that everyone lies, everyone is capable of keeping a secret and sometimes things are not as they seem.

I thought this was a good read. It was a quick and easy read. My Kindle app suggested it would take just 3 hours to read this novel. The book was entertaining; I sniggered in some places and rolled my eyes in others. I liked the characters. My favourite was Olivia, the shy girl who find a way to come out of her shell. I don’t think there was one character I disliked, although there were story lines were I found myself taking sides.

Like I said, this is an easy read, but one I enjoyed. I did want to know what was going to happen – would their ability be found out? What secrets would be revealed? It was an interesting read and a situation I’m glad I’ve never experienced.

I am rating this book 3 out of 5. It was a fun, quirky read. It was quick and entertaining. I would definitely read the next novel in this new series.

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CONTAINS SPOILERS!

Addition: Library hardback

Genre: Romance

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo.

Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.

But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo’s empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

I am really glad I noticed this in the library. This is the latest novel from Nicholas Sparks and it is up to his usual high standard. We see love, fear, friendship, family and a controversial issue of domestic abuse.

The story follows Katie, a new girl to the small town of Southport. She turns up hungry, thin and desperate. She catches the eye of Alex, not only because she is beautiful, but because she looks scared. Alex used to be in the CID department of the Army and had learnt to read people – he saw the fear, although he didn’t know what she was running from. Slowly Katie gets ingrained in the small town, working in the famous diner and regularly shopping at Alex’s store. When his son falls into the canal, Katie is there to comfort his daughter – which starts their friendship. Another person who befriends Katie is her new neighbour Jo. Between Jo and Alex they bring Katie out of her shell and eventually, as she falls in love with Alex, she reveals what she is running from. The story follows her and Alex as they fall in love and Katie slips into the family, spending time with Alex and his children. She is being hunted however, and life might not always be happy or safe.

The blurb hints at a dark secret , but it doesn’t take long to see this is domestic abuse and that she is running from her husband. Around halfway through the book Katie reveals her real name and tells the story of her marriage, and her husband Kevin. What I liked is that after that we then follow Kevin’s story as well. We see what happens to him once he realises Katie is gone, his thoughts and feelings and his actions. I was intrigued that he regularly quoted Bible verses, even when he was in the wrong – it showed a very confused man. However, this does not excuse his actions. I did like that both sides of the story were told, it added depth and meaning to the story.

I liked the characters, especially Katie and Alex. I loved how delicate they were at the beginning, Katie because of her husband and Alex because of the death of his wife. They were careful and I liked how they didn’t just jump into a relationship, especially as there were small children involved. I was impressed that even though Katie had left Kevin she refused to sleep with Alex because she was still married. I thought Sparks was right to do that – it added integrity to the book and characters.

The ending of the book was so exciting! Kevin came and chased Katie. I was hooked and couldn’t put the book down once he discovered where she was. The ending was tense, but really good. There was a twist that I didn’t see coming and I enjoyed the ending. I was satisfied and gripped until the end.

This is a great book. The ending was fast moving and the storyline was lovely. I think Sparks dealt with the issue of domestic abuse and death very well. The characters were so easy to like and I was hooked to this book. I can’t recommend this book enough.

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Synopsis:

After thirty years of marriage, Wilson Lewis, son-in-law of Allie and Noah Calhoun (of The Notebook), is forced to admit that the romance has gone out of his marriage. Desperate to win back his wife, Jane’s, heart, he must figure out how to make her fall in love with him… again. Despite the shining example of Allie and Noah’s marriage, Wilson is himself a man unable to easily express his emotions. A successful estate attorney, he has provided well for his family, but now, with his daughter’s upcoming wedding, he is forced to face the fact that he and Jane have grown apart and he wonders if she even loves him anymore. Wilson is sure of one thing–his love for his wife has only deepened and intensified over the years. Now, with the memories of his in-laws’ magnificent fifty-year love affair as his guide, Wilson struggles to find his way back into the heart of the woman he adores.

As the synopsis states, this is the follow up book to The Notebook. At first, when I saw that there was a sequel, I was unsure as to how that would work (if you have read The Notebook I’m sure you will understand my questioning) but I was satisfied with this book.

The story does not follow Allie and Noah, but their son-in-law Wilson. He is hard-working , to the point where he has seemingly neglected his family. He wanted to provide them with a great life, but that meant he missed parties and sporting events, and worked very late most days. This seemed fine until he forgot his wedding anniversary. This woke him up to the fact his marriage was strained and his wife was sad. This caused him to try and change his ways – and is helped by his daughter announcing that she is getting married. This gives him an opportunity to repair his marriage.

The more Nicholas Sparks novels I read, the more I love him as an author. However, this is not my favourite of his works. I found this book started slowly, and it took a while to get going. By halfway through though, I had warmed up to Wilson and I loved all he was doing for Jane. The surprise at the end was gorgeous, and I sat there with a warmed heart and a smile on my face.

I did like Jane, and felt sorry for her and felt her pain; although I did think that if she was unhappy she should have spoken out. I took some time to warm up to Wilson but I started to like him the more I read. I thought their relationship was sweet – especially in the beginning when Wilson was shy and sensible. This might be heresy to say, but I preferred Noah in this novel than I did in The Notebook. He was wise and loving in this novel, whereas I found him a bit desperate in The Notebook.

This is a lovely romance novel. It is not a long book and worth reading if you like a heart warming, satisfying story. Nicholas Sparks is a great writer and I will be reading more of his novels.

This is the first novel completed in my 2010 Summer Romance Challenge

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Waterstones Synopsis:

I’m Annabel. I’m the girl who has it all. Model looks, intelligence, a great social life. I’m one of the lucky ones. Aren’t I? My ‘best friend’ Sophie is spreading rumours about me. My family is slowly falling apart. It’s turning into a long, lonely summer, full of secrets and silence. But I’ve met this guy who won’t let me hide away. He’s one of those intense types, obsessed with music and totally unafraid of confrontation. He’s determined to make me listen. Will I ever find the courage to tell him what really happened the night Sophie and I stopped being friends? This is a captivating, emotionally turbulent, unputdownable teenage fiction – the natural step up for older Cathy Cassidy fans.

Just before the summer break something terrible happened to Annabel, leaving her lonely, isolated and misjudged. When she returns to school she finds herself alone and with her ‘best-friend’ calling her names whenever they meet. Lunches are spent alone until she meets Owen. He is not who she expected him to be, and through music and anger-management Annabel faces what happened, what she had done and the prospect of always telling the truth.

I loved this book. I read it in less than a day. I couldn’t put it down. This is the first Sarah Dessen novel I have read but I can see myself reading many more of her books. This is great young adult fiction. Dessen writes a gripping novel. It felt real and I was sucked into the story.

The novel covers many issues: the need to be popular, rape and eating disorders, as well as anger-management and being honest even when it is difficult. This was a complex book but it was not a hard read. I think Dessen deals with all this issues really well and I liked how everything panned out. I guess it was predictable but that did not spoil the read at all.

I really liked Annabel. I loved watching her change; realising that once she had been mean to others, or watched as Sophie was cruel and did nothing about it to the girl she became: confident and happy. I really felt like I was experiencing her journey as well. I loved her sister’s too. They both faced major challenges but Dessen wrote them so well that I was supporting them and really enjoyed reading about them. I felt empathy, pain and joy reading this. There were times when I could have cried and times when I sat chuckling to myself.

Owen is the hero of the story and such a likeable guy. He is a guy with anger issues but I love how Dessen wrote about them, including how he was getting sorted. She was honest with him and he did slip up, but that made it all the more readable. I think all the characters were believable and enjoyed following them through this story.

This is definitely a must read for everyone – both teenagers and adults. I was hooked from the beginning. One of the best books I have read this year.

5/5

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marshmallows for breakfast

Synopsis from Amazon:

When Kendra Tamale returns to England from Australia she rents a room from Kyle, a divorced father of two, and begins a new job. She’s looking forward to a fresh start and simple life. Kyle’s five-year-old twins, Summer and Jaxon, have other ideas and quickly adopt Kendra as their new mother – mainly because she lets them eat marshmallows for breakfast. Kendra eventually becomes a part of their lives, even though she’s hiding a painful secret that makes her keep everyone – especially children – at arm’s length. Then Kendra bumps into the man who shares her awful secret, and things fall apart: she can’t sleep, she can’t eat, she’s suspended from work, and the kids are taken away by their mother. The only way to fix things is to confess to the terrible mistake she made all those years ago. But that’s something she swore never to do …

This is a truly beautiful book which touched a whole range of emotions. This is chick-lit, but with hard issues that add amazing depth to this book. Kendra is good at running away. Something bad happened to her when she was twenty. It changed her. She became someone who didn’t really feel, she became jumpy and she locked away her feelings. When a chance to leave England arose, she leapt at the chance, and off to Australia she went. But she fell in love over there, with someone who she couldn’t have. So she returned to England when she could, and move into the studio in the Gadsborough’s back garden. She has the shock of her life when she wakes up on the first morning to see Summer and Jaxon, six year old twins standing in her flat. She soon grows attached to them, as she realises their life is falling apart because their parents are getting a divorce. For someone who wanted to keep away from children, she quickly becomes their “other mumma”, and can’t live without them. So when their mum kidnaps them she is distraught. alongside that, she has to face up to what happened to her when she was young, and the reason why she left Australia.

There is so much addressed in this book. Ashlyn, the twins mother is an alcoholic, there is attempted suicide, rape and divorce. Brave issues to tackle in a novel, but Koomson handled all of them well, and she brought believable and realistic conclusions to each issue. She dedicates sections and memories to each issue and storyline so they are thoroughly examined. This in effect means Koomson can look into these issues properly, but it also allows the characters to develop in their own right.

I loved the characters, and Koomson writes in such a way that I was completely in tune with them. When the twins were upset or scared my heart broke for them; when they went missing I felt Kendra’s pain and anguish – this is just a well written novel. I loved the twins. They were easily my favourite characters. They were so vulnerable and so easy to love. They were just gorgeous children.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a gripping book that I didn’t want to put down. Well worth reading even if chick-lit is not a genre you usually enjoy.

9/10

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the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

Synopsis from Amazon:

It’s 1946 and author Juliet Ashton can’t think what to write next. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – by chance, he’s acquired a book that once belonged to her – and, spurred on by their mutual love of reading, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, her curiosity is piqued and it’s not long before she begins to hear from other members. As letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under the German Occupation, Juliet soon realizes that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name.

What an extraordinary book. The narrative is all letters. It is through a letter that Juliet, an author struggling to find something to write about after WW2 discovers about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. She receives a letter from Dawsey about a book of hers he has, and from there their correspondence blossoms. Soon there are several members of the Society writing to her and she learns how the group came about and how they have helped each other through the Nazi Occupation of the Island. She is drawn to the place and eventually ends up living there; where she finds her writing mojo, forms lasting bonds and finds peace and love.

I loved this book. Even though it is written in letters it is very easy to read. I liked that it was all written in letters, it gave a more personal feel as people were free to express their feelings to their friends. I found the story to be extraordinary – what a genius idea for keeping sane during a war. I just love the idea that books can bring people together and can form lasting bonds between people.

I loved all the characters. It was a joy to watch Juliet find happiness, she was a lovely person to read about. And the Literary Society were a group of great people. Dawsey is a strong, solid, reliable man, and I fell in love with him. It is interesting that even though we never meet Elizabeth we hear all these wonderful stories bout her and her heroics, how she brought everyone together and helped them out in times of need, and I found myself wanting to get to know her. And when we discovered what happened to her I could have cried.

I was attached to this book and the characters. It wasn’t a quick read, but lovely. Well worth reading. I felt emotions along with the characters and didn’t want the book to end. One of the best books I’ve read recently. This is a must read.

10/10

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the undomestic goddess

Synopsis from Amazon:

The story of a girl who needs to slow down. To find herself. To fall in love. And to discover what an iron is for…Samantha is a high-powered lawyer in London. She works all hours, has no home life, and cares only about getting a partnership. She thrives on the pressure and adrenalin. Until one day…she makes a mistake. A mistake so huge, it’ll wreck her career. She walks right out of the office, gets on the first train she sees, and finds herself in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she is mistaken for the interviewee housekeeper and finds herself being offered the job. They have no idea they’ve hired a Cambridge-educated lawyer with an IQ of 158 – Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. Disaster ensues. It’s chaos as Samantha battles with the washing machine…the ironing board…and attempts to cook a cordon bleu dinner. But gradually, she falls in love with her new life in a wholly unexpected way. Will her employers ever discover the truth? Will Samantha’s old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?

Samantha is one of the best lawyers in England – then she discovers a memo on her desk that needed urgent attention a few weeks before. This is a £50 million mistake. When she realises what has happened, she flees. She jumps onto the first train and ends up in the countryside. When she stops at a house for help she is mistaken as a housekeeper. Not knowing what she is doing she accepts the job. Except she doesn’t even know how to use a toaster, how is she going to cope? And will London ever find her?

This was a fun book. This is easy chick-lit reading. I found it amusing and a quick read. It wasn’t particularly believable, but I was hooked anyway. Kinsella is great at this genre. She writes wonderful characters, amusing characters and ones you can easily fall in love with. I liked Nathaniel’s mother, a solid lady, happy to look out for her son and Samantha, and happy to help in every way.

I think you will only enjoy this if you like Kinsella’s work and if you like chick-lit. However, I loved it! It only took me a couple of days to finish it. Yes it was predictable and unrealistic, but thoroughly enjoyable.

9/10

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cover-dreamstreetSynopsis from Amazon:

Leah and Toby have lived across the street from one another for years without meeting … and Leah has been itching to peek behind the front door of Toby’s eccentric house, always packed to the rafters with weird and wonderful tenants. When fate finally lets her in, Leah finds that Toby needs her as much as she is surprised to realize she might need him. Sometimes life needs a helping hand and with a sprinkle of romance and their own special magic, Toby and Leah’s dreams show the glimmer of a chance of coming true. 31 Dream Street is a wonderfully warm and insightful novel that will capture the imagination and soothe the soul.

One ordinary day Leah is going about her business when she notices the old man from across the street lying face down on the ground. She goes to investigate and discovers he has died. She runs to the eccentric house for help and meets Toby, the owner. This is their first meeting and a friendship is quickly born. Time spent together brings Toby out of his shell, helps him make some decisions about the house and enables him to befriend his tenants. It also has Leah re-examining her life. This death has been the beginning of many changes….

I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable book. I have read Jewell’s Thirty-something and Ralph’s Party, and enjoyed both, so I had high hopes for this novel, and I think I enjoyed it even more than the other two. This is pure chick-lit, but a wonderful read. It is over 400 pages long, but I read most of it in a day. It is engaging, humorous and a great read.

I loved Leah and Toby, but they are not the only characters whose stories are told in this book. Toby’s tenants are introduced as well and woven into the story. They have their own chapters so we can get to know them as well. This adds to the story, making it more enjoyable as you want to know what is going to happen to the house mates, as well as wanting to know about their past.

Jewell looks at the illness Cystic Fibrosis. She examines the disease through a conversation and looks at how it can affect people’s lives, as well as fears of those first encountering the illness. She also describes how this can negatively affect relationships. I think this was very well written and dealt with.

The only thing I did not like about the book was the swearing. I found there to be too much of it and it spoiled the book.

Overall, a great chick-lit book, highly recommended.

8/10

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the five people you meet in heaven

Synopsis from Amazon:

From the author of the phenomenal number one bestseller TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, comes this enchanting, beautifully written novel that explores a mystery only heaven can unfold. Eddie is a grizzled war veteran who feels trapped in the toil of his father before him, fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. Then he dies in a tragic accident, trying to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakens in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a lush Garden of Eden, but a place where your earthly life is explained to you by five people who were in it. These people may have been loved ones or distant strangers. Yet each of them changed your path forever. As the story builds to its stunning conclusion, Eddie desperately seeks redemption in the still-unknown last act of his life. Was it a heroic success or a devastating failure? The answer is as magical and inspirational as a glimpse of heaven itself.

Eddie dies on his birthday attempting to save a girl when part of a pier ride malfunctions. When he gets to heaven he meets five different people who explain life and parts of Eddie’s life which lead him to rethink hi anger and bitterness. This is a journey that will release him for heaven.

I read this book in a day – it is really good. It is not a long book, only 208 pages, but is a wonderful read. Albom draws you in and it really feels like you are going through these memories with Eddie. You feel pain, hurt and happiness as you read.

Because Eddie died on his birthday there are several chapters that are birthday memories. Ranging from the age of five up to his sixties. I really liked these. They showed tenderness and a glimpse into how Eddie’s life was changing.

There are many issues discussed in this book – such as the war and how that affected life and parent issues, particularly violence from his father. Albom deals with these wonderfully and shows that with help things can be forgiven.

I liked all the characters. It was lovely how some of the people Eddie met in heaven he had only briefly met in life, or not met at all, but how they played a part in his life. I particularly liked Tala, a little girl. She had died young in the war but she was sweet and forgiving, and loving. I felt for Eddie too. He lost his wife young and the war had left him maimed, leaving him sad and stuck in a rut. I loved being there as he sorted out his life in heaven.

I highly recommend this book. I loved it. I can think of no complaints.

10/10

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