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Book Review: Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
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In Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella, a routine insurance medical gives Sylvie and Dan some shocking news – that they have at least another 68 years of marriage ahead of them.

So Sylvie comes up with an idea – that they should surprise each other. This idea leads to disastrous consequences, funny scenes and the abandonment of the idea.

But from the outset there’s a mystery that entices the reader to read on. The reader comes up with questions like:

  1. Why does Dan always go tense whenever Sylvie mentions her father?
  2. Why does Sylvie’s mum always go quiet or dismiss Sylvie when she talks about her imaginary friend Lynn?

As well as the mystery, there’s normal life going on. Sylvie & Dan have two young daughters, Dan’s working very hard and there’s lots of change afoot in Sylvie’s job.

Sylvie is an engaging character and the book is written from her first person perspective. However Sylvie does get repetitive to the point of more than mildly annoying for the reader.

Sylvie and Dan’s friend and neighbour Tilda and her son Toby are fascinating characters, the only ones really worth mentioning and a novel telling their stories would be awesome.

What really let this book down was the generic and uninspiring book cover. Who designed and approved this? The background colour is unappealing. Sylvie’s defining feature is her long hair that flows down her back like Rapunzel, yet this isn’t represented by the character on the cover.

Surprise Me is a fun, easy read. However it doesn’t compare to Kinsella’s previous releases – particularly The Shopaholic Series.

Surprise Me is available to buy on Amazon and at all good book shops.

Review soon,



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5 Books That I Will NEVER Finish

By Books & Authors, Thinking2 Comments

This blog post is cathartic for me. I always have books on my reading pile, usually about ten at any one time. For a while now, books have sat there looking at me, not being read. If I’m honest with myself, there are 5 books on this pile that I will never finish reading. Each for its own reasons.

So here are the 5 books that I will never finish and the reasons why I wont finish them:

when-god-was-a-rabbit-sarah-winman 5. When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

The only thing that is good about this book is its quirky title.

The main character Elly tells the story of her life in first person. Elly starts with her childhood, remembering it in such vivid detail that it instantly makes the plot unbelievable and makes her feel false. There was nothing likeable about her character. The plot had absolutely nothing captivating about it and it had no hooks that gave me the desire to read on.

In the end I couldn’t get past page 64. Each page was painful to read and fundamentally bored me.

a-house-for-happy-mothers-by-amulya-malladi-book-cover 4. A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi

This book was sent to me by a Publicist. I don’t know why they thought I would enjoy it or why they thought it would be the sort of book they read.

It’s about a rich woman called Priya, who has everything she could possibly want, apart from a baby. So she and her husband travels to a Southern Indian villiage to buy a baby.

I felt that as they’d sent it me, I really should read it. Or at least give it a try. I read the first chapter, but it failed to interest me, so I put it on my to-be-read pile with the best of intentions. But I’ve never picked it up since.

love-between-men-edited-by-shane-allison 3. Love Between Men: Seductive stories of afternoon pleasures edited by Shane Allison

This was another book that was sent to me by a Publicist and one I really expected to throughly enjoy.

It’s an collection of gay short stories about passion, love, but mostly lust. The importance of the first story in an anthology can’t be under estimated. It sets the tone of the book and is supposed to light up the imagination of the reader. Unfortunately the first story in this book was full of jarring stereotypes, overt sexualised description and lacked any of the things that make up a good story: interesting characters, intriguing plot and immersive description.

To be honest I’m not sure how this story even made it into the collection. Let alone became the first story in the book.

rip-it-up-richard-wiseman-book-cover 2. Rip it up by Richard Wiseman

Psychologist Richard Wiseman presents the As if theory in this book. So if you behave as if you are happy, you will become happy. Simliar to the saying: Fake it until you make it. The book focuses on positive actions, rather than positive thinking. Throughout this book he provides evidence that this theory works through referencing to a wide range of scientific studies.

This book was provided to me by a Publicist and I had three main reasons for not finishing it. First Wiseman appears to believe that the As if theory can solve anything and everything. Indeed on the book’s back cover it states that the theory can be used to: lose weight, stop smoking and feel instantly younger.

Wiseman states that the As if theory can be used to deal with depression. Very mild depression maybe, but to try and tell someone with severe clinical depression to simply act positive is bizzare and ultimately unhelpful.

Second Wiseman is an academic but failed to write about any evidence that the As if theory doesn’t work in all cases. There was a distinct lack of mention of any research that was against his point of view.

Third and finally this book is too long and begins to feel a bit repetitive after a while.

the-awakening-yvonne-heidt 1. The Awakening by Yvonne Heidt

The Awakening is a great book. It’s about three women who call themselves Sisters of Spirits who help people who have problems with ghosts. Jordan is a cop, but when an evil masculine spirit starts causing trouble in her life, she reluctantly approaches Sunny (one of the Sisters) for help.

Jordan starts to fall for Sunny, but the evil spirit wont allow happiness for any of them. The characters are interesting, the plot is well balanced with lots of peaks-and-troughs, the description is clear and Heidt’s writing style is captivating.

This book was sent to me, by my request, by a Publishers Publicist. I read the first three quarters of the book and while reading the last quarter I found out through Heidt’s website that it was the first book in a trilogy.

Having lost contact with the Publicist (it happens) I decided to stop reading the book, as it felt pointless to continue reading the book when I knew I would never get the opportunity to read the other two books.

I’ve removed these books from the I’m Reading section of my sidebar on this blog.

Write soon,


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Finally…in Recovery and getting Back to Life

By Health, Life, ThinkingNo Comments

Me Drinking Coffee. Slowly Getting Back to Life 🙂

In January, everything stopped. I stopped being able to function and was ill. The truth is that I had been ill for a long time before this, but that I had continued to solider on – hoping that I would start to feel better.

Here were some of my symptoms:
Tick Box Bullet Point No concentration span. I wasn’t able to watch TV or films, read or write. I didn’t feel safe to drive, so I didn’t.
Tick Box Bullet Point Short term memory loss.
Tick Box Bullet Point Feeling constantly exhausted despite sleeping for many, many hours.
Tick Box Bullet Point Some insomnia and night terrors.
Tick Box Bullet Point Back pain – despite resting and regularly completing physiotherapy exercises.
Tick Box Bullet Point Head aches.
Tick Box Bullet Point Stomach ache/constipation despite eating a reasonably good diet.
Tick Box Bullet Point Poor personal hygiene and not cleaning my home environment.
Tick Box Bullet Point Overeating or forcing myself to eat despite feeling that I didn’t want to.

Tick Box Bullet Point No motivation – I found it extremely difficult and tiring to do the smallest of tasks.
Tick Box Bullet Point Reckless spending of money – mostly through online shopping.
Tick Box Bullet Point Any extremely variable mood which changed throughout the day and night. From being void of any feelings to a tornado of fast swirling feelings including: guilt, inadequacy and feeling like a failure.
Tick Box Bullet Point Anxiety – resulting in becoming antisocial and finding it difficult to leave home.
Tick Box Bullet Point Worry and panic about what people would think of me.
Tick Box Bullet Point Feeling hopeless, which is the worst feeling in the world.
Tick Box Bullet Point Feeling like I was loosing my mind.
Tick Box Bullet Point Feeling like I was falling down a dark bottomless pit.
Tick Box Bullet Point Feeling frustrated at not being able to snap out of it and that nothing I did made a difference to how I felt or my ability to function.
Tick Box Bullet Point Overly self-critical thoughts and zero self esteem. A critical inner voice that was loud and repetitive.
Tick Box Bullet Point At two particularly bad points I suffered from compulsions to end my life.
Tick Box Bullet Point In short, feeling like my mind, body and soul were being devoured and destroyed by this illness.

So I went to see my GP who completed the PHQ depression test and diagnosed me with severe clinical depression. At several points throughout my treatment, this test was repeated to check on my progress. At one point, I was scoring 24 out of a possible 27. My GP started me on antidepressants and encouraged me to self-refer for counselling.

The first antidepressant didn’t work, despite gradually increasing the dose to the maximum. Apparently this is really common, happening to at least 50% of people. So my GP gradually withdrew the first antidepressant and then started me on another – which thankfully is working. I self-referred to counselling, had an assessment and to this date am still on the waiting list.

January to May has felt like a write-off in every sense of the word. But I feel extremely lucky to have made it through this dark and difficult time. What’s that phrase? Ah yes…I believe I made it through by the skin on my teeth.

Looking back, I’ve had depressive tendencies for at least the last few years. I’ve been rubbish at spotting the symptoms in myself, but am much more aware of signs, symptoms and triggers now.

I’m still in recovery and it is a gradual process. I’m still on the antidepressants and will be for sometime. I’ve started taking multivitamins to make sure my body and mind is getting what it needs. But now I’m feeling good, better than I have felt in years. I’ve even started laughing again, proper belly laughs, which I haven’t done for what feels like forever.

Now I’m getting back to life. I’ve thanked those close to me for their support, love, care and kindness. I’ve gone back to work and realised that I have the most brilliant, amazing and fantastic work colleagues. They’ve been so supportive and I feel so lucky to work with such wonderful people.

Blog soon,



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Book Review: About Writing and How to Publish by Cathy Glass

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
about-writing-cathy-glass-cover About Writing and How to Publish by Cathy Glass is a guide to creative writing that both published and non-published writers/authors alike will find useful. It’s split into four sections: About Writing, What to Write, Publishing and Self-Publishing.

The About Writing section covers lots of important aspects of writing including the importance of a writing routine and editing what you write.

The What to Write? section covers different types of writing such as articles, poetry, short stories, diaries, memoirs, biography, non-fiction, novels, plays, children’s books and ghostwriting.

The Publishing section covers Agents and Publishers as well as submission guidelines.

The Self-Publishing section covers independent presses, print on demand (POD), ebooks and marketing.

The great thing about this book is that it’s very precise and to the point. It’s a quick read, which I read in one evening. However it also meant that Glass covers the topics far too briefly for me. Advice around double spacing, using arial font and font size 12 was reiterated often.

Cathy Glass is a bestselling author who writes inspirational memoirs based true life stories. These stories come from her experience as a Foster Carer. You can see some of her books on the Amazon widget below.

About Writing and How to Publish isn’t a comprehensive guide, but it does have some great tips and is available to buy on Amazon.

Review soon,


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