Spelbound

                                                                gardenspells

I am charmed by Sarah Addison Allen’s books. They are beautifully written and I couldn’t wait to share them with you. If reading for you is about escaping into a different reality just for a little while, you will enjoy them. In her work she stamps on a solid ground and touches the supernatural at the same time, with the latter so subtle that if one is not careful enough, they may miss it sometimes.

If you want a taste of the aforementioned magical feeling she brings, you are invited to the moonlit garden that Claire, in “Garden Spells” by Sarah Addison Allen, tends to during her sleepless nights. The garden seems to have a life of its own. Plants just appear and blossom overnight, the temperamental apple tree, the heart of the garden as it seems, bears fruit regardless of the season. Claire learned how to listen to the garden, she knew that ‘’Something was about to happen, something the garden wasn’t ready to tell her yet.”

Claire is content with her life, with the catering business she runs, where she uses her own produce made from herbs and plants. But it’s not all about fragrant gardens, stargazing and sunny days throughout, not for her sister Sydney anyway. Claire lives peacefully in an inherited Waverley family home but her troubled sister has been gone for a decade. Sydney, so used to playing with fire, has drifted onto a dark path that she is now desparated to escape. In a search for a safe place, she is determined to bring her daughter Bay, of whose existence Claire didn’t even know, to the Waverley house – or perhabs she is being led to it by the various fragrances of the garden.

Magic in S. A. Allen’s books is perhabs not as unearthy as it may sound to you right now. Don’t we all sometimes get that unsettling feeling or experience a strange chill? Maybe this is part of us all, maybe the Weverleys women are just more tuned to it. Their unusual abilities haven’t been left unnoticed by their neigbours, eager to purchase the gourmet produce Claire makes out of the herbs and plants she grows, for their various properities.

Both sisters feel betrayed by their mother who left them early in their childchood at their grandmother’s care. Claire is full of regrets as to the way she has treated Sydney when they were kids, although isn’t the sisterly rivarly just a part of the siblings dinamics? At the same time she feels anger towards Sydney for abandoning her family home. Sydney wanted to cut herself free from all the quirks that being a Weverley meant, all that Claire has been cherishing, but now the family home is her only safe place. Will the sisters recocile?

Witty, humorous, insightful. I will gladly award this book 4 simplestar-300px simplestar-300px simplestar-300px simplestar-300px stars, bookmarks or bicycles.

Stars, bookmarks or bicycles rating

simplestar-300pxsimplestar-300pxsimplestar-300pxsimplestar-300pxsimplestar-300px– one of the best books I read

simplestar-300pxsimplestar-300pxsimplestar-300pxsimplestar-300px– charmed

simplestar-300pxsimplestar-300pxsimplestar-300px– good read

simplestar-300pxsimplestar-300px– disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

simplestar-300px – don’t waste your time

Another one I have picked

the-daisy-picker-best-selling-novel

“The Daisy Picker” by Roisin Meaney kicks off with good pace and humour. It is a lightly written book about finding yourself, if I was to summarise it in one sentence.

Characters in R. Meaney’s books often have a strong inner drive to be who they want to be, rather than what is expected of them. It is a pleasure to see how much happiness this brings them when they succeed. It never seems to be too late, neither for the forty something year old Lizzy in the “The Daisy Picker” nor for Sarah, the busy young mother with a full time job, in “Something in Common”.

One day Lizzy decided she wasn’t happy. Maybe it was the fact that she was already in her forties or the article that she read in the dentist’s office – most likely both. Whatever it was, it made her realise how quickly the time was passing. She knew that if she wanted what she was so passionate about, she needed to act quickly. She too had a talent that had been left untouched, waiting for her to gain some courage and make use of it. She was finally eager to give it a chance. In order to do that she had to abandon her old life.

Once she leaves the nest, she doesn’t look back until the old life catches up with her. Just when all the pieces seemed to be falling into place, Lizzy is once more reminded how fast indeed the time flows. Are people able to just pack up, find their dream place and settle there for their happily ever after, or do they, just like after a nice long holiday, need to eventually get back to their old routine and settings? Is the unexpected crash with hard reality a realisation that every chance she took lately was a mistake or just a little setback that life is full of? Was she right in abandoning her old life without looking back? Does she have regrets? Can her new idyllic life be saved?

Lizzy’s character is quite beliveable. She isn’t flawless but she is likeable and fun to read about. I enjoyed the inner monologue, the smirky replies she was having in her head – which she stops, and rightly so, as she grows happier in herself. I enjoyed the other characters too. Her warm, welcoming and merry, though brokenhearted friend Angela, amongst others. There was a bit more romance that I would normally welcome in a book but it was nicely written, not overly sweet and romantic, set in as a part of life events more than a point of focus in itself.

Has the book earned my usual 3  waterdrop-300px waterdrop-300px waterdrop-300px rain drops, pots of gold or rainbows? Yes, I think it has.

3 rain drops, pots of gold or rainbows rating:

waterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300px – one of the best books I read

waterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300px – charmed

waterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300px – good read

waterdrop-300pxwaterdrop-300px – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

waterdrop-300px – don’t waste your time

On another shelf

goneagain

I am in the middle of reading another book by Roisin Meaney, and I will post a review soon, in the meantime here is a different one, while you wait. You are not going to believe me, but I bought this e-book for under €2. (I did promise I would discuss cheap books, didn’t I? So you can see what you can get for the price.) “Gone Again” by Doug Johnstone. Was it a masterpiece? No. Did I enjoy it? Yes.

It is a rather fast paced thriller. There is something about a male narrator that I enjoy – the lightness, if I was to describe it in one word. The “eh” kind of an attitude; I won’t have a healthy meal today, I will buy a take away two days in a row and won’t think about it twice – kind of an attitude. I cannot say that I got to like Mike, the main character very much, not with his anger management issues – no to hitting women. Not even when she is a bitchy mother of a school bully who picks on your son. It’s just not right. I didn’t dislike him though, he is a loving father, I have to give him that. He doesn’t make his life too complicated but life tends to get tangled whether you like it or not – especially when you are a fictional character of a thriller book, then it can really get out of hands.

Mark’s wife disappears one day. He is happily married, but he questions his marriage when she is gone for a second time. He finds it hard to believe however, that she would have abandoned their son Nathan out of her own free will, even if she got fed up with her partner. He recalls her post natal depression that drew her away from home the first time and wonders if this it happening again, now that she is pregnant with their second child. The author digs dipper into the troubled young mother’s past to give us a more complex picture of her personality.

The more information the detectives gather the more inclined they are to consider a foul play in her disappearance and her husband as a suspect. While the police is concentrating their scarce resources on him, Mark decides to take the investigation into his own hands… Cliche? Yes. Readable? Yeah. Take on a sunny holiday to the beach or read on a bus half asleep in the mornings. Action spirals out of control pretty quickly, so it’s a fast read.

How is the poor little Nathan going to forget about all he has seen, pictures that no little boy should have witnessed? I don’t know, poor Mark asks himself that very question. What happened to his wife? No spoilers, you will just going to have to find out for yourself.

Rating? Ah, alright let it be 3 grey-cloud-1-300px grey-cloud-1-300px grey-cloud-1-300pxclouds, stars or monkeys.

clouds, stars or monkeys rating

grey-cloud-1-300pxgrey-cloud-1-300pxgrey-cloud-1-300pxgrey-cloud-1-300pxgrey-cloud-1-300px – one of the best books I read

grey-cloud-1-300pxgrey-cloud-1-300pxgrey-cloud-1-300pxgrey-cloud-1-300px– charmed

grey-cloud-1-300pxgrey-cloud-1-300pxgrey-cloud-1-300px– good read

grey-cloud-1-300pxgrey-cloud-1-300px– disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

grey-cloud-1-300px – don’t waste your time

Happy New Year’s read

   Something+in+Common.jpg

“Hi Aneta
Many thanks for your very candid reviews of the books, glad you’re enjoying them and thank you for spreading the word. 
Best
Roisin”

As promised, here is about another book by Roisin Meaney. I just finished reading “Something in Common”.

At the start I was a bit disappointed. Not because I was expecting some magical sparkle, it wasn’t a Christmas read any more, but it seemed to have been missing something… I wanted to know more about the two main characters, Helen and Sarah, but as I was turning the pages I was getting an impression that their stories run separately to the rest of the word, hanging in some sort of a limbo. I wanted to see them interacting more with the outside world.

Yes, there was Alice, Helen’s daughter, unfortunately not bringing the book more to live until she reached her teenage years; There were the residents of the nursing home where Sarah got a job as a cook, and a handful of more people but still Helen-Sarah-Helen-Sarah… The two women were sending letters the each other and perhaps if it was just the letters for just that part of the book then the two sole dimensions wouldn’t bother me.

I could see how Sarah’s and Helen’s personalities were purposely drawn to be strikingly different for contrast (I much more prefer when such crafts are put in place by the writer in a much subtler way) but I agreed to let it go and kept on reading. I don’t like giving up and I liked the ease the text was written with. It doesn’t necessarily has to be a quick read for me, I am up for challenges, but nowadays with my little baba pulling at my hair, banging his wooden blocks, having a concentration span of five minutes on average and constantly looking for more stimuli, I do not mind an easy read.

Progressively it got better though. The individuals grew on me, I started liking them more and more, and that’s also how a story gets you, isn’t it? I remember being a young reader and getting used to the characters so much that I actually missed them each time I put the book down… It was interesting to see how the time was passing by, Ireland changing in the background, Helen, Sarah, Alice and the others all growing older and maturing.

R. Meaney shows how life’s events change people. I think that’s her strength as a writer. Helen in this book, and Laura in one that I read previously by the author “I’ll be home for Christmas”, are the prime examples. Whether they turned out for better or worse is for you to judge but certainly neither Helen nor Laura would have been who they had become if their lives took different paths or if they encountered different people.

When the ending was approaching I was afraid that, as it happens so often, it will be rushed and therefore out of proportion, not in pace with the rest of the text – it was beginning to seem that way, but the plot took a twist which has enriched it. I don’t want to give away too much, I don’t want to spoil it for you.

What did Helen and Sarah have in common then, if anything, one may ask? I believe it was their honesty that connected them. Although Helen’s words were sharp as a blade while Sarah wouldn’t dream of offending anyone, both women were pretty straight forward with the people around them and refused to live a lie. Why don’t you meet them for yourself and see if they will leave a mark on your life. Even fictional books can teach us something.

 3snoflake-300px.png snoflake-300px.pngsnoflake-300px.pngsnowflakes, stars or blobs… it deserved, I believe.

snowflakes, stars or blobs rating

 snoflake-300px.pngsnoflake-300px.pngsnoflake-300px.pngsnoflake-300px.pngsnoflake-300px.png– one of the best books I read

snoflake-300px.pngsnoflake-300px.pngsnoflake-300px.pngsnoflake-300px.png– charmed

snoflake-300px.pngsnoflake-300px.pngsnoflake-300px.png– good read

snoflake-300px.pngsnoflake-300px.png– disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

snoflake-300px.png – don’t waste your time

What was my Christmas read last year?

imag1382         illbehomeforchristmas

What are you looking for in a Christmas time read? For me it’s warmth. The kind of warmth that the twinkling lights on a tree and a child’s smile can give. I don’t expect much in the sense of a literary craftsmanship for the occasion, although a badly written book can put me off even around that time.

Reading “I’ll be home for Christmas” by Roisin Meaney was like being wrapped in a warm blanket and sat in front of a roaring fire with a cup of hot chocolate in my hands. Funny enough, it wasn’t a cosy read, no decorating the tree or baking cakes for the main character. To the contrary, what can be more unsettling than being stranded in the airport hundreds of miles from home just before Christmas? What brings the comforting feeling into the book are the amazing characters. Not sugar coated but each with a set of their own problems and yet still eager to help others and bring them joy. Yes, this is the time of the year when you do want and need to believe in the goodness in people. Might be a bit unbelievable but Christmas is a magical time and so is the little island off the Irish coast where the book is set. I did enjoy the Irish scenery – the raw countryside, untamed sea, the piercing wind. Despite its harsh weather conditions the remoteness and isolation of the welcoming island made an attractive place to escape to in your imagination.

Overall a good Christmas read for people who are willing to let a little bit of magic in, but I suppose if you are looking for a Christmas holiday read you must be open to it. Yes, you might be a cynic on a bad day, and may not believe in so much kindness in the word but I hope you do, at least when it’s Christmas time, when we all want to be kids again and believe in Santa and forget our everyday worries, for a little while at least.

I know it’s not Christmas anymore and I don’t particularly enjoy being reminded that it’s already gone and that the next one is far away but I needed the introduction. The book encouraged me to buy another of R. Meaney’s books, two even (found them at a good price as e-books, just a click away, couldn’t resist. Me, who used to overthink every purchase, now so hasty… Not enough time on my hands now – having a baby can be exhilarating in that way. Then again, how wrong can you get when purchasing two books for under a tenner, especially when you already read something by the author and enjoyed it, eh?).

I would give the book 3 baubles  RGB-Christmas-Ornaments-300px.pngor stars or hearts…

I shall return with a review of another R. Meaney’s book, as soon as I finish reading it.

baubles, stars or hearts rating

patternedbauble6b-300px patternedbauble6b-300px patternedbauble6b-300px patternedbauble6b-300px patternedbauble6b-300px – one of the best books I read

patternedbauble6b-300px patternedbauble6b-300px patternedbauble6b-300px patternedbauble6b-300px– charmed

patternedbauble6b-300px patternedbauble6b-300px patternedbauble6b-300px   – good read

patternedbauble6b-300px patternedbauble6b-300px  – disappointed, thought it was going to be better

patternedbauble6b-300px – don’t waste your time

First blog post

Books, books, books…

      I cannot decide whether I like reading or writing more – I enjoy books, reading and writing alike.

      Something I learned a long time ago about language comes to my mind now; that it is just a code we use when we want to express ourselves. We do our best to ensure that what we say gets through to the others the way we intended, but the human mind is creative and a language is just a code and what comes across can never be a perfect match to what we mean. This realisation dooms on me especially when I take into account that English isn’t my first language, but I am improving, I hope.

      Books. I do like them indeed. I am proud of my little collection. I am running out of bookshelf space and had to acquire an ebook reader sometime ago. Although I was a bit reluctant, old fashioned maybe, used to the paper feel, the smell of a new book, I have to say I like the device. Do you know what’s good about it? It’s like reading the right hand side page all the time. Isn’t it a bit annoying, reading the left hand side page of the book, especially the first few pages? When the whole book heavies in your hand on the right and keeps closing on itself and you cannot see the print nearest to the binding, and you try to open it wider and you just cannot settle and get into the story? And no more bookmarks! I was constantly loosing them. Desperately searching my bag for a used ticket or something when my stop was approaching. (Yes, I commute to work, every day via Luas). Thanks God the ebook readers don’t have the kind of an operating system that computers do. If I was to wait for it to load and then log off each time, I would not have gotten one. But they are great, the ebook readers.  Amazing, how many books mine can store and it doesn’t get any heavier in my bag.

      I like buying books but I don’t like spending much. I am especially happy when I can find books for under a fiver, new books, even cheaper than some second hand copies… I will try to give you a few tips how and where to look for such occasions and show you what you can get for the price and perhaps you will find that you can enjoy some of them.

      Happy reading.

          Aneta