Sunday, August 31, 2014

Friday I'm In Love

First paragraph: "Some great romances worth the telling are never told, their lovers slipping silently between life's timeworn cracks only to be pitched with yesterday's trash. As owner of a small estate-sale business, I'd witnessed evidence over the years of various couples' love lives. So I'd learned to sift through piles of forgotten memories. Learned to appreciate a second look...and perhaps ease my pain."

      Amazon /

"Forever Friday: A Novel" by Timothy Lewis is a love story.


In the summer of 2006, Adam Colby is supervising one of his estate sales in Houston, Texas. The old house belonged to the Alexanders- a couple who have both passed away. Whilst perusing the contents during his day, he flicks through an old photograph album, and finds six decades worth of postcards- each with a poem written by Gabe Alexander to his wife, Huck. 

As Adam reads each one, he finds himself enchanted by their seemingly 'perfect love'. Unhappily divorced two years ago, he wonders how the Alexander's kept the spark in their marriage when his went so disastrously. The more he reads the more he wants to know, and sets off contacting people from the Alexander's past in order to discover more about them. His main interest is Yevette- the daughter of the Alexander's housekeeper. If he can find out the formula for the 'perfect marriage', perhaps he has a second chance at love.

Meanwhile, in 1926, Gabe and Huck Alexander meet for the first time. The rest is history.

Switching between point of views, we see the story told from Adam, Yevette, Gabe and Huck's perspective. The story is told through a series of flashbacks to Huck and Gabe's first meeting in 1926,  and beyond, following their love story and that of the postcards- sent every Friday for sixty years. 


This story was inspired by the lives of the author's great-uncle and aunt, and shares many similarities. At their estate sale, he discovered sixty years of postcards poems from his great-uncle to his great-aunt, and it was that which sparked the concept for this book.

In this story, each poem connects to an event in Gabe and Huck's life at the time. We don't get to see all of them, but almost every chapter starts with one of the poems- relating it to events in the chapter as they would have related to events in the Alexander's lives. They span from 1926 to the mid-80s when Gabe died. 

You have two stories here- Adam's and the Alexander's. The latter is the focus of the book, and most of it is spent in the past with them. We also get flashbacks to 2004, when Huck is in a nursing home with dementia, and still believes that Gabe is sending her postcards. He promises her one final postcard, and there is a small mystery about what is says- revealed at the end. 

From the very start you know the framework of the ending. You have the story of two lovers who lived full lives and are both deceased. But as the years fly by, the inevitability of it, mixed with the uncertainty of the 'how' creates a sense of dread and sadness. A bitterness that must seep through the sweet.

The Alexander's love starts off as a heady, rosy-tinted whirlwind romance. As the honeymoon faze fades, a more realistic relationship does develop. They quarrel, they bicker and they fight, but they never allow themselves to lose their love. Huck is definitely the less mature of the two, occasionally throwing tantrums if she doesn't get her way, but there is absolutely nothing superficial about their relationship.

Obviously, Huck and Gabe's story is the focus, and it shines through. Adam's story, however, I found quite predictable, and I didn't really get anything much out of it. However, as I said, this if the story of Gabe and Huck, and that's it. The story of two people who meet and fall in love. The simplicity of the concept creates a kind of magic to the words. It is a very moving story. We may know the basics of how the story ends, but as the old proverb goes- it is the journey that matters, not the destination, and that is the mantra of this story.

There are some possible supernatural elements. Perhaps an angel, or maybe just a drifter whose words inspired a young girl's heart. It doesn't matter who he was, what matters is what he meant to Huck, and what she believed he was. It was the hope he sparked in her that emanated throughout this book. 

The characters are, well Gabe and Huck are the two who stand out, as they should. Their absolute adoration for each other shines through the pages, and make this story. The other characters are almost superfluous. With one exception. A character by the name of Mister Jack, who I will say no more on lest I spoil it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book- far more that I thought I would. This is more than the usual love story. It is a story of hope. Of two people who consciously choose to never let their love slide, and that love is undeniable. While the situations may be romanticised (and therefore not entirely realistic) there is no doubt of the characters devotion to one another. It radiates. It is the lifeblood of this book. Yes, it can be a little sappy at times, and very cheesy, but oh well. 

I believe this book is sometimes labelled "Christian fiction". Personally, I don't really like that as a label, because it tells you nothing about the book other than some form of God may be in it. Fiction is a diverse genre, and is not a clear enough description of a books genre. To me, describing a book as "Christian fiction" is like describing a book as "Chick Lit". Yes, we all know what that mostly means, but it is not a label that I think works. Anyway, I am not a religious person myself, so what did I think of the religious factors in this story. Well, they're not preachy- which is always my biggest worry. Rather, some of the characters are religious, and their actions and words will represent that. There may also be an 'angel', but it's left ambiguous. So, for me it wasn't really a big deal. 

This is a feel-good book (for the most part), but was more profound than I expected it to be. I flew through the pages, as the years flew by the Alexander's. A great love story with a deeper meaning.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from Blogging for Books. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Twenty Questions (Round 2)

Well, I enjoyed doing round one of this so much that I decided to do a second round. If you want to see the first twenty, you can find it here.

Just like the last round, these questions came from 101 Books. You can find the original questions here.

Well, let's just get into then, shall we?

  1. Will Dicaprio’s performance as Gatsby be better than Redford’s? He's Leonardo DiCaprio. Of course it will be.
  2. Narnia or Middle Earth? Oh, this is a hard one. I think I'd have to go with Middle Earth though. Narnia seems like it would get bland pretty quickly.
  3. Hemingway or Joyce? Hemingway
  4. Favorite font? Well that really depends on what I'm using it for. For example, this blog is written with Georgia, but here's another font I like: IM Fell DW Pica- Look at this fancy font. Bubbles. Cheese on toast. Onomatopoeia.  
  5. What’s your ideal book length for reading? 200-250 pages (But I'm not picky).
  6. You have to go a year without a book (all forms) or a week without food. Which one do you choose and why? I'd go a week without food. Difficult, but manageable. It's only a week. I can't do a whole YEAR without reading! That's just crazy talk.
  7. Best concert you’ve ever been to? Hmmm, I'm not a huge concert fan. I'm pretty short, so I tend to get the short end of the stick (no pun intended) in a crowd. 
  8. Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars. 
  9. Best compliment you ever received from a teacher/professor? "Are you thinking about going into writing?"
  10. What’s your one piece of writing advice? (don’t be shy!) Find your style. Don't try to write like someone else, because that's going to get you nowhere. Find your groove, and rock it.
  11. Mountain reading or beach reading? Well, beach reading is more likely to happen in my life. But then you have the sun in your eyes, sand everywhere, the book can get wet, etc. Reading inside next to a fire, while snow falls outside your window and you have a hot drink next to you just sounds fantastic, doesn't it?
  12. What’s one novel you think is awesome that everyone else thinks is bad? Oh no. I could give you an example of books I didn't like that everyone else did, but the other way around? This is a hard one because it's so subjective. Okay, so I looked up so many books for this question, trying to find one that was not only hated, by poorly rated as well. And this is my answer: Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. Apparently that didn't do too hot. 
  13. Conversely, what’s one novel you think is bad that everyone else thinks is awesome? The Loop by Nicholas Evans. One of the most boring books I've ever read. It has 4 stars on Goodreads. Four!
  14. Amazon: Good or bad? Mostly good. (This is 101 Books answer, but I have nothing to add).
  15. Most famous author you’ve ever met? I've met Eoin Colfer. And yes I have his autograph. It was pretty awesome.
  16. What percentage of books on your bookshelf have you actually read (estimate)? A pitiful amount. 50% or less maybe? The problem is for every book I read, I buy at least five more. Curse you charity shops and your affordable literature!
  17. Favorite reading beverage? Don't really have one. If the book mentions a particular drink in nice detail, I might crave it, but otherwise just whatever I'm already drinking. 
  18. A hypothetical: Print and digital books are no more and audio books are the only form of literature remaining. One catch: All the audio books are read by Gilbert Gottfried (who has indeed recorded an audio version of 50 Shades of Grey). Are you done with literature? Sorry Gilbert, but probably yes. Maybe every so often I would forget how terrible it sounds and try another, only to be unpleasantly reminded. For me, narrators of audiobooks are a big part of whether or not I'll enjoy it. I'm extraordinarily picky when it comes to narrators, which is generally why I prefer to just read the book myself.
  19. One novel every teenager must read? Alice in Wonderland. You're never too old to imagine. 
  20. Who inspired you to become an avid reader? I'm not sure. I think I was just in an environment with lots of readers. I have a large family, and many of them are avid readers. Probably my parents though. They bought my sister and me the Biff and Chip books (The Magic Key series, that's what they were) and it was through those that I learnt to read. I suppose the passion for reading would've come from me.

And there you have it. Another 20 questions delving into my psyche, or something. I hope you enjoyed this quick-ish post. Next week should be a review, now that another assessment is out of the way. See you all then, cheerio!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Prudence and the Crow (August 2014)

Well it's that time of the month again, and a lovely brown package awaited me as I descended the stairs.

If you'd like a little more information about Prudence and the Crow, you can check out my first review (where I go into a little more detail) or their website. You can find out more details, such as prices, etc, from either of those sources, but for now, let's get into Prudence and the Crow, mark August 2014.

I won't be showing all the packaging details anymore, and if you want to see photos of how the box comes packaged, etc, you can look up my previous review via the link above. I'll be starting this review after opening my box.

Well, mostly. But I have to stop and share the amazing stamps that were on the outside of my box. I believe the bottom two are (on the right) Alice in Wonderland, and (on the left) The Wizard of Oz. 

When I came down the stairs on Thursday (the 14th) I did not expect to find my box awaiting an audience with me. The boxes only ship out on the 13th, so my postman must have seriously put on his skates!

This was what I saw upon opening my box. Let's just go through it one thing at a time, eh?

First up: let's go through the sundries.

Top left we have the personalised library card that comes with every box. Top right some Prudence and the Crow movie tickets that come with many boxes, and on the bottom we have the tasty treats I got this month. Again treats come with every box, but exactly what you get changes.

Next up, something new and amazing- a Summer Mix Tape with 16 songs covering a wide variety of genres.


My favourite songs from the bunch were these:

"Is This Love" by Aiden Grimshaw

"It Doesn't Matter Anymore" by Buddy Holly

and "Teignmouth" by Patrick Wolf

Thanks Prudence and Crow for introducing me to some awesome new music. Anyway, on with the show. Time for the piece de resistance- the book itself. This month it came with a lovely "picnic feeling" cover.

The material is fantastic. Soft and smooth, and so very fitting for the book itself:


Well, I'm very excited to read about some fabulous jaunts along the Thames, a la "Wind in the Willows" ambience. The perfect accompaniment to the British Summer. I'll have to find a lovely willow tree to sit beneath as I read this. 

So that's the lot. I'm very happy with my box (as always) and can't wait for the next. I love the mystery. Never knowing what I'm going to get. Is it September yet?

I'll leave you all with this quote from my box (courtesy of The Wizard of Oz):

Words to live by, I think. 

Monday, August 11, 2014


Just to let you all know that I'm making some changes to the design of my blog. If you notice new things here and there (or more likely things looking off) that's why. I'm trying to make them as quickly as possible, but I'm sort of learning the code as I go and mistakes are inevitable. Thank you for bearing with me. 

Have a great day!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Patch Up Your Heart With Some Sweet, Home Comfort

First Paragraph: '"We need to update out mission statement." Lara was sitting with her legs crossed and scribbling on her notepad.'

  Amazon /

'Betrayal' is the first book in 'The Broken Heart Refuge' series by Martina Munzittu. Like the last book I reviewed I had the pleasure of working behind the scenes with the creation of this book too. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process, and would love to do it again sometime. Anyway, onto the review.


In a house in Hampstead lives Nonna Pina. 'A caring, gentle and warm Italian granny' who is always cooking, and who opens her home to those in need of healing. This is the Broken Heart Refuge. A place where people can come to relieve some of the pain in their hearts, and hopefully a place where they can recover.

This year marks the 10th anniversary, and things are still going strong. The focus of this book is on three people- Nonna Pina (who is the main character, but acts like a background character. Reacting rather than doing); Mary (a recent widow who thinks her late husband was hiding a secret); and Lisa (a 20-something who is in love with her best friend's boyfriend). 


The writing style of this book reads much like that of a cozy mystery, minus the murder. Almost slice-of-life mixed with home comfort. In fact, comfort food is a big  part of this book- with all the baking and cooking that goes on. I don't think I can recall a single scene with Nonna Pina in it where she is NOT cooking something. This story is a big helping of home comfort.

Lisa is the character given the most focus. It's unclear whether this is her first time in 'love', but I questioned whether she really was in love with him, or whether she thought she was because he noticed her. She is the shy, wallflower common in many stories, and she is struggling to gain confidence, figure out her feelings and to not hurt her friend. Perhaps it evolves into love (maybe?), but it certainly seems like a school-girl crush at the beginning. Especially considering she's never really spent much time with the man she's supposedly in love with. Either way it's largely irrelevant. What matters is that she's hurting, and this is what draws her to the Broken Heart Refuge.

Almost every character in this book is a broken heart. Essentially, a community of close-knit people has been built out of the foundation founded by Nonna Pina, and they are more of a family than mere acquaintances. I mention this because it's important to any new characters, and to introducing the Refuge to the reader. Its focus is on comfort and support. On creating an atmosphere where any newcomer can feel welcome and safe, and through the community it achieves that. Considering that the Refuge is the epicentre of the book, and the conglomeration of many characters this is a key necessity, and the writing achieves this well.

Each character's story is based on one theme- betrayal. Sometimes the betrayals are childish and superficial, other times mature and cutting deep. I'm guessing each book will have its own theme, so I'm interested to see the range of stories, individual situations and characters that could come from that. Despite the large array of characters in this story, each individual's arc is coherent and the book blends them all together well. 

There is a subtle questioning of what betrayal actually means, and whether anyone is free from guilt or any responsibility. Betrayal is often a multi-pronged affair, and rarely done without reasons. People view the same action from different angles. Can something be a betrayal if you, in turn, betrayed them too? Well, yes, but it becomes a much more complicated matter, but this book does skim the surface of it.

However, every story can be quite dramatic. The reactions of certain characters can be a little over the top at times, which occasionally renders serious scenes funny for all the wrong reasons. Some of the dialogue is corny, and at times reads like a costume drama. For some that may be a pro, but certain exchanges come across a little (dare I say?) 'fanfictiony', but this is only in specific small segments. 

Clearly the author has an interest in London, as we get lovely 'picture postcards' descriptions here and there of certain parts of it. This adds to the slice-of-life feeling, and to the home comfort the book focuses on, with its descriptions of lazy afternoon picnics and watching time pass.

 Essentially this is a feel-good story. Happy endings all round, and a brief set-up for the next book. It's a book you don't have to put much effort into. Some of the dialogue may be corny, but the book deals with some pretty depressing situations- albeit in a pretty light manner. You recognise the wounds, but they have long since stopped bleeding. The aim is closure. Healing and moving on. It focuses on the impact complete strangers can have in aiding that, and the desire for personal connections everyone craves. 

Perfect for fans of light romance, cozy stories and anyone with a love of pasta.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the author. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Aren't We An Odd Couple?

First Paragraph:  "Toasted bacon sandwich, orange juice and a strong cup of coffee. That's what I call a good breakfast. I love the smell of friend bacon lingering in the kitchen, and the aroma of my coffee, still hot in my cup. I'm holding the latest Vogue magazine, but out of the corner of my eye I notice the weekly post piled up on the side of our table. It's got my name on it: Lucy, Ms L.J. Evans, Lucy Evans. However you address it, it's still mine. Nothing exciting as usual, mostly bills."

Amazon /

"Incompatible Twins" by Martina Munzittu is a tale of two sisters. I'm excited about this review because I was a part of the creative process. Nothing major, but back last year when the author approached me to be a beta reader for her new story, I was over the moon! I may not have really done anything, but my name is officially in print! I meant to review this months ago, but as you all know I took a bit of a sabbatical. Better late than never, right? (I'm a terrible person). Anyway, into the review.


Lucy and Poppy Evans may be twins, but they couldn't be more different. Lucy is a successful real-estate agent, and a 'material girl', while Poppy is an artistic hippie who's just come home after travelling the world for 18 months. Now this odd couple are forced to share Lucy's flat and tensions run high. The cover tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the characters and story.


Both sisters believe they are looking after the other, and we all know what they say about a road paved with good intentions. I don't have much to say about the characters, but I do want to linger on Poppy for a second. It may be because she's been travelling for so long, or because she's never really been part of the 'daily grind', but she is incredibly disconnected from reality. Her actions and thoughts are almost apathetic and unrealistically naive. For instance, she tries to hand-write her CV because she thinks it shows she cares. She acts a lot longer than her 24/25 years, and doesn't understand why her actions upset people sometimes, causing her to victimise herself. For instance, (without any spoilers) she upsets the balance within Lucy's flat and believes herself to be, without a doubt, in the right. One particular scene I found particularly annoying was in the introduction of a new character. He introduces himself as _____ (no spoilers), and Poppy keeps shortening it. This might not seem like an irritating thing, but when he repeatedly corrects her, it starts to chafe. There is, in fact, a scene where she wonders why he keeps correcting her, believing that what she calls him doesn't matter. A name is an incredibly personal thing. It is a form of identification and not to accept someone's choice is disrespectful and rude. The fact that he keeps correcting her shows that he's not happy with how she is identifying him. 

Poppy comes off as rather arrogant and annoying, but she is the only character I have any issues with. This is not a criticism of the writing, but of the character- unless she wasn't supposed to come off in that light, in which case the writing would be at fault.

In terms of plot, there isn't really one. The two sisters live together and things happen. That's it. Slice of life, which I personally enjoy. This is a short book with a feel-good, light read factor. If you're looking for a story you don't really have to think about, this is perfect. No serious consequences; happy endings all around; and a quick read. Everything gets tied up in a nice, little bow - or so you assume as the book suggests an ending- rather than actually giving the reader anything concrete. It's one of those, if things keep on like this this could happen, or this. For all we know, nothing turns out like that.

Because this book is so light, there isn't really much character development (not strictly a factor. Length does not necessarily equal better characters). The characters stay constant and unchanged throughout the story. There's no growth or revelations. Essentially, this is a story about two sisters living their daily (slightly fantasised) lives. Nothing profound or soul-searching, but a pleasant read that could liven up your daily commute.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy of this book from the author. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.