Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Book Review: The Other Us

The Other Us
By Fiona Harper
Published by HQ
Available in paperback

If you could turn back time would you choose a different life?

This question nags away at Maggie, the protagonist in Fiona Harper's latest novel, The Other Us. She comes to resent her absent husband and her empty home after her daughter has gone travelling. Her mind starts to wander to the guy who could have been the love of her life - Jude. If only...

Maggie wakes up to find herself back at university - a crossroads between two men - Dan and Jude. She has a chance for a different life. At first she falls head over heels with Jude but then she slowly realises that the deeper she falls into this life the further away she is from her original life.

I know what you're thinking - been here before, read this type of novel before - but you would be wrong. This isn't just any type of rom-com. This is a rom com with a time travel twist. This is a book about second chances and maybe realising that second chances might not offer the same level happiness as you originally had.

The Other Us shows the reader that we must appreciate what life offers, that we are the only ones who can make ourselves happy before another person can make us happy. Harper has written an uplifting book - something we all need in this unpredictable world.

This is an absorbing story and I found myself unable to put down the book. This is a great comfort read especially for a lazy day when you want to lounge around reading either on a beach, on the sofa or in the bath.

If you loved the film About Time and Sliding Doors or enjoyed reading David Nicholls's One Day then you will love this book. The Other Us is available from your favourite bookshop.

I was sent a copy via the publisher.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017


Here are a few of my favourite things on the internet at the moment...

Dr Seuss offers advice on relaxing with a book over here.

And here's David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas offering advice on submitting work and then getting started on the next story. Read the quote here.

Nintendo offering the best life advice over here.

Great advice from the late Nora Ephron including the only way to keep learning is to keep doing something new which can also be applied to writing. You can read more here.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

June's Reading Shenanigans

Boom... five books read in June.

Not that reading is a competition because honestly, five books isn't anything compared to the people who I follow on Goodreads who read ten, twenty each month. Where do they find the time? Have they ditched the sacred religion of telly watching in the evenings to sit in the bath constantly reading while being fed chunks of chocolate aka reached reading heaven?!

This month was a fantastic reading month as most of the books held my attention and I found I couldn't put them down and not because they were glued to my hands.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
Eleanor lives a simple life - learning to survive rather than live. She has a set routine and nothing can step in her way. Yet one simple act of kindness by Eleanor sets off a chain of events which lead her away from the confines of her simple life into finding new friends, confronting her past and realising there's more to life than her job and then coming home to a bottle of vodka. This is an absorbing read and I really found myself rooting for Eleanor. This is one of those addictive books - you have been warned!

Conversations with Friends - Sally Rooney
Fans of Fleabag and Girls will love this book. Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa ask each other endless questions as their relationships develop as they discuss sex and friendship, art and literature, politics and the mundane world around them. Frances starts an affair with Melissa's husband, Nick and all the the dynamics of their friendships start to shift. This is a marmite book - either people will love the characters and they will enjoy the way the book can be read as a feminist romance or people will be annoyed because the characters are overindulged. I really enjoyed the dialogue, the exploration into the female consciousness and the way friendships evolve between women.

The Other Us - Fiona Harper
If you loved the film About Time and Sliding Doors or enjoyed reading David Nicholls's One Day then you will love this book. Maggie finds herself at forty, suffering from an empty nest after her daughter has left to go travelling and her husband is being distant. She starts thinking about a different life she could have possibly taken while at university... and her wish comes true as she is taken back in time and to different life. This book captures one of the questions which pulls on many minds - 'what if...' This is an absorbing story and I found myself unable to put down the book.

An Account Of The Decline Of The Great Auk, According To One Who Saw It - Jessie Greengrass
The short story collection with the longest title goes to this book! Jessie Greengrass's short story collection contain 12 stories ranging from historical, with a sailor describing the tragic extinction of the Auk to the future where a guard watches over a strange presence but all explore loneliness and solitude. The stories are elegant and insightful. I'm looking forward to reading more from Jessie Greengrass.

Bad Choices - Ali Almossawi
Sometimes it's refreshing to read a bit of non-fiction. This book looks at how algorithms can be applied to everyday situations and also how algorithms are not just for the techies. Some of the theories behind this book and the way it looks at being more logic can be complicated but there are handy pictures and graphs along with a chatty style of writing which makes this book really interesting because on the surface this is a dry subject and could bore you if it was written in an academic style.

What did you read in June?

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Book Review: The Faithful

The Faithful
By Juliet West
Published by Mantle
Available in hardback

Juliet West's second novel, The Faithful, is a coming of age story in England, a country on the brink of World War II. Communities are divided, generations have drifted apart. Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts are causing trouble on the streets. This is a fascinating story about families and friendships formed and also broken based on each other's beliefs.

Hazel, sixteen, lives on the Sussex coast, and her summer is dragging. She feels alienated from her family, her friends have gone for the summer and she feels isolated from the outside world. She is bored with life and the routines she has fallen into.

Her life changes when the Blackshirts, a far-right political group arrive for the summer. Hazel can see people helping each other, a community with the same values, a sense of belonging - everything she has been craving. She befriends Lucia, an upper class girl who is devoted to the cause and also Tom, a working class boy who is cynical to the Blackshirt's principles. Hazel's life becomes entangled with both her friends, leading her away from a life she was meant to have - get married and have children.

This is a novel about love and deception as Hazel runs away to London with a life changing secret. She tries to escape society's expectations for a girl her age. Her life steers Hazel away from society's acceptable behaviour.  West shows the reader how dangerous extreme political groups can be - they way they promise a sense of belonging, safety and security, manipulating their members with extreme views.

The Faithful is a interesting read not just to see a young girl battle against society's expectations but for the social history during this period. West combines the personal and political into a great novel where the reader can draw parallels with today's' society. You can buy The Faithful from your favourite bookshop.

I was sent a copy via the publisher.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

May's Reading Adventures

There wasn't much time for reading in May but I squeezed in three books... don't worry I've started to read in the park at lunchtime so I'm hoping to read more than 3 books this month.

Most of my time was spent rewriting chapter 37 not once but twice but I'm definitely happier and I've moved onto the next chapter...only two left and then this draft will be done. I've started to research agents and creating a synopsis...maybe after 4 years it'll be time to send this novel out into the wild.

So here are the books I read in May:

The Faithful - Juliet West
England is moving slowly towards war. Oswald Mosley's blackshirts are causing trouble on the streets. Hazel, a 16 year old girl is pulled into the clutches of this organisation one summer. Falling in love, forming new friendships and broken families push Hazel's life into an unexpected journey. This is a novel about loyalty, loss and guilt. I really enjoyed this novel, and you can read my review soon.

Anything is Possible - Elizabeth Strout
I'm one of those people who has only just jumped on the Elizabeth Strout bandwagon after reading My Name is Lucy Barton and Olive Kitteridge last year. Anything is Possible is a spin off of last year's My Name is Lucy Barton and tells the story of the inhabitants of rural Illinois, the hometown of Lucy Barton. Each chapter tells the story of a person who either directly knows Lucy or knows of her. The stories are rich, complex, and beautifully written. Looking forward to reading more Elizabeth Strout.

The Storyteller - Kate Armstrong
Kate Armstrong's novel, The Storyteller, is a story of coming of age, depression, isolation and relationships. You can read my review here.

So what did you read in May?