A thank you from mylittlebookblog

So, it’s Sunday and the end of this celebration of mylittlebookbookblog. I’m going to keep it short because I’ve waffled enough this week.

I’ve learnt a lot blogging and I’ve learn a lot about myself in doing so and to be honest with you, I think that this blog has ultimately saved me from a number of cripplingly scary moments. My life right now is a little in limbo and it’s terrifying. I’m not sure what I want to do let alone where I want to be and in the last ten months I’ve seen the worst of myself and the panic that comes from graduating and feeling a little lost. But this blog has brought out the best of me. 

I have felt so wonderfully supported and this blog has been a life saver and I just wanted to really say thank you. From my mushy emotional and slightly whimsical heart. Because you are the best people that I could have ever wished for. All the authors, the bloggers, the tweeters, the likers the commenters and the emailers (these are not words) but all of you. Thank you. Thank you so much and here’s to another year of this pretty goddamn wonderful tiny space of the internet that I have found I’m able to call home.

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Piano from a 4th storey window: Jenny Morton Potts

Good evening readers, hope you’re all well unlike me, a little sick bunny. It seems I have caught a tummy bug which left me rendered completely useless yesterday. After being rudely awakened by my housemate, I heaved myself out of bed to go and purchase whatever it was she was complaining about. Hauling a sick ridden body out of bed dressing it in patterned black, red and white leggings, an orange t-shirt and a pair of blue fabric pumps and a massive coat with a fur hood I must have looked comical. I cannot wait to move away from the drama of where I live. Before I get too off topic there are a number of reviews that were supposed to be posted days ago but I’ve been so sick I haven’t had any time to sort them and amongst packing for the move last week. I’m hoping to get them written up ASAP so if you’re waiting for a review it’s on its way I promise. So, without further delay onto today’s review.

Lawrence Fyre and Marin Strang aren’t like other people. He is the eccentric owner of failing Sargasso Books in the Brighton Lanes. She is an ex-Jehovah’s Witness and isolated Spanish teacher. If they live together in his illegal, beautiful, rope laddered lock-up; can their love overcome their losses?  Original, sexy, very funny and deeply moving. An author in complete control of a number of unforgettable characters and emotional highs and lows, Jenny Morton Potts leaves the reader breathless, and wanting more.

So as the blurb suggests Marin Strang is a Spanish teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way she wanted it to; having to live on a wage from numerous temporary teaching contracts and coming out of a rather painful breakup she’s in a bit of a sticking point; in limbo as to what she should do next. An ex-Jehovah’s witness but with ties to her father who remains a loyal member, Marin finds her days wandering The Lanes in Brighton a shopping spot and ends up in the a café named Number 8. Here she meets Lawrence Fyre, the owner of the (failing) store Sargasso Books. The two, after a number of chance meetings enter into an intense relationship but a number of hiccups including his sister and the intriguing Nina could force their relationship to fail. Will their relationship rise or flounder? You’ll have to get hold of a copy to find out!

So, there’s the book in a nutshell; now you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a rather stereotypical boy meets girl style plot-line but it’s more than that. Firstly I have to commend the author for getting the feel of Brighton down so very well. I could feel the blustery wind and see the cobbled lanes full of brightly painted houses, it’s incredibly evocative of the little seaside town. The writing style is wonderful although a little difficult to get into to start with. It reads almost like a stream of consciousness, which we don’t experience all too often as a reader and when mixed with dialogue and narrative it was a little different at the start. However as you get more stuck in the words rise and fall in a very smooth almost lyrical prose which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In terms of plot line it is the perfect mix of both tragedy and love story and the whirlwind mix throughout is both tender and comedic. The two main characters are wonderfully written both quirky in their own rights but written with a real feel of human warmth and understanding. They come alive with each other and the conviction of their relationship is maddeningly exciting and euphoric. The pace is fast and forward thinking, it ricochets off with such breath taking speed that I found myself reading chapter after chapter without noticing.

I think what makes this book is the style; it is a unique and unforgettable writing quality that is both quirky and gripping. It also allows for the highs and the lows of the novel to really come alive and punch the reader in the jaw which is exactly what I wanted from this novel. It is a love story but it also intertwines personal growth, the pressure to conform to society or religion and trust in the relationships we have. It really made me sit up and listen and made me think about my own place in the world that I find myself in.  Overall a stylish and quirky read that was a wonderful mix; thoroughly enjoyable.

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The Back Road: Rachel Abbot

101 things in 1001 days

Afternoon bloggers. Another review from the list I am currently working my way through, recommended by friends of mine. This one comes from the rather wonderful Rachel Brown; a work colleague, friend and generally lovely person, this lady never fails to put a smile on my face, so thank you for recommending another wonderful book. Unfortunately, I’m currently not feeling particularly well, and although this could be a mix of travelling home every weekend, not getting enough sleep and not eating particularly well, I am having a weekend off for some Lizzy time so lots more reading will be done and I cannot wait!

 A girl lies close to death in a dark, deserted lane. 

A driver drags her body to the side of the road. 

A shadowy figure hides in the trees, watching and waiting.

The small community of Little Melham is in shock. For Ellie Saunders, last night’s hit and run on the back road could destroy everything she has. She was out that night, but if she reveals where she was and why, her family will be torn apart. She is living on a knife-edge, knowing that her every move is being observed. Ellie’s new neighbour, former Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas has moved to the village for some well-deserved peace and quiet, but as he is drawn into the web of deceit his every instinct tells him that what happened that night was more than a tragic accident. As past and present collide, best-kept secrets are revealed and lives are devastated. Only one person knows the whole story. And that person will protect the truth no matter what the cost. The Back Road is an electrifying thriller that will keep you guessing to the very end.

Slight admission; I actually listened to this book on audible rather than reading it. Mumma B realised that she had logged a number of credits on Amazon and sent over her details for me to have a little wander around and I thought it would be the perfect time to get hold of some of the lovely books recommended. It was a different experience but I really enjoyed it and have since downloaded a couple more. The story revolves mainly between two female characters, Ellie and Leo, who are thrown together by their solicitously polygamist father. Ellie’s mother is vivaciously opposed to this and raises Leo with appalling hate and anger especially after the mysterious disappearance of their father. Leo, once old enough leaves, and only returns to the house once her stepmother has died. Returning to the house, which Ellie now resides in, the two, must work to re-build their relationship. However, both have demons haunting them; Ellie currently is being stalked by a man who thinks that she is in love with him and Leo is incredibly wary of trusting people, especially men. Leaving yellow roses and calling and texting at all times in the day Ellie’s stalker starts to unravel the world that Ellie has created. As Leo becomes suspicious, the little village is rocked by a terrible crime. A young girl is hit on the back road; the problem is that, as the police begin to piece together what happened that eventful night, different characters are going to have to reveal secrets they never thought they would have to disclose based on their whereabouts that night. The story weaves deftly, bringing characters together whilst disclosing their fears, secrets, lies and deceit brought about by the terrible hit and run.

This story definitely packed a punch of action mixed with spine tingling scenes of mystery. The author keeps her cards close to her chest at all times making the reader piece together each part of the story piece by piece. For a long time we have no idea of the stalker or the mysterious hit or run characters and unlike some authors who let the reader know before the characters this was not the case in this instance. The characters are strongly built and wildly contrasting, especially Leo and Ellie which allowed for interesting scenes and conversations between the two especially about relationships. The novel features many shocking events including sabotage, abduction, domestic abuse and affairs but they are built in slowly so they don’t seem too over the top or unbelievable. I also liked the contrast between the past story of Abby (the girl that is in the hit and run) and the past story of Ellie and Leo. The contrasts and similarities were an interesting sub-plot. Supporting characters are vividly written especially Max and Tom, which helps to make the story more about the village than just the two main characters and allows a romantic subplot to evolve. The writing is strong and unfaltering and builds tension throughout; when I got towards the end I was finding it difficult to concentrate on anything else and sat for hours listening on. The story is saturated with a depressive feel however it helps to really convey the pain that the characters are feeling.

Few problems; Ellie at times is frustratingly naïve and weak and this does start to grate on the reader. I found myself wanting to shake her and say, open your eyes and look at what is going on. I know it’s written to evoke those emotions but it started becoming a little too clichéd especially relating to the claims of an affair that Max is having, (or not having?) The writing also isn’t terribly descriptive; I would have liked more description into the village and the characters. Although their personality traits were well formulated I was picturing them from my own imagination rather than being given an idea of what they were like visually. Additionally I found that Abbot kept going back and summarising past points, as if saying, don’t miss this important bit of information, but I didn’t and I kind of guessed what was happening because of this. I’d rather be kept in the dark and then hit with it, rather than being constantly fed information.It created a rocky feel between Aboot keeping her cards to her but feeding out little summaries. Additionally, the ending is a little wishy-washy and although it’s supposed to make you keep thinking after the book is finished I didn’t get that exhilarant feeling for some reason. 

Overall, this is a book with many twists and turns focusing on some very interesting and thought provoking events. The characters are well balanced and the tension is sustained throughout. A few complaints but definitively worth a read!
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Thoughful Thursdays

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Hello readers, a very happy Lizzy today, it’s been a very good week, and I am feeling pretty happy this morning. As it is Thursday, I have another question for you! Today’s question is:

What is a genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)

Mine are biographies. I rarely read them but almost always enjoy them when I do. I love reading into other people’s life however I never really have the time. Onto you readers! 

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Jacob M. Appel : Phoning Home: Essays

Afternoon readers, hope you’re having a wonderful day. Just wanted to say, expect a lot from me here at mylittlebookblog these next few months, I’m pushing the blog to the limit in the next few months trying to get the more views, more followers, more comments, and more interactions with all you lovely people. During August I lost my writing flow. I have vowed this month not to let that happen again whatever happens. There are some interesting things going on in the next couple of months  and I cannot wait to share them all with you! This review comes off the back of my last review of Jacob’s book. I read this when I went away to France and it really helped wile away the ten or so hours I spent locked up in the back of the car so merci to Jacob and onto the review.

Phoning Home is a collection of entertaining and thought-provoking essays featuring the author’s quirky family, his Jewish heritage, and his New York City upbringing. Jacob M. Appel’s recollections and insights, informed and filtered by his advanced degrees in medicine, law, and ethics, not only inspire nostalgic feelings but also offer insight into contemporary medical and ethical issues. Both erudite and full-hearted, Appel recounts storylines ranging from a bout of unrequited love gone awry to the poignant romance of his grandparents. We learn of the crank phone calls he made to his own family, the conspicuous absence of Jell-O at his grandaunt’s house, and family secrets long believed buried. The stories capture the author’s distinctive voice–a blend of a physician’s compassion and an ethicist’s constant questioning.

Three words for this book; nostalgic, thoughtful and satirical. Those three words pretty much sum up my perfect writing style. Something a little witty, self-deprecating and emotional, this is a personal and private collection of events, snippets, and conversations, in Appel’s rather interesting life. This book is incredibly heartfelt and achingly beautiful, rather than focusing on the ‘big picture,’ the tales are tiny scraps that are woven together to create a beautiful book filled with wisdom. The first story describes Jacob’s family having trouble with a telephone joker (this will explain the cover of the book) calling up the phone at unsystematic times in the day, the family are at the end of their tether. We later find out that little seven year old Jacob is the culprit (sorry!) however, the real moral of the story is that these days as soon as little boys or girls do something out of the ordinary there is immediately something terribly wrong. Jacob notes that in his case this small instance of rebellion was never anything more than the casual interest of a little boy. The stories often take this format; explaining the events and then looking deeper, taking a philosophical view point. It leads to an incredibly heart-warming collection of short passages.

Two other stories (they are separated out into 13 essays as the title suggests) stick in my mind one desciribing the loss of two rubber cat toys. “We’d just visited my grandaunt in Miami Beach, the last time we would ever see her. I had my two travel companions, Fat and Thin, securely buckled into the backseat of my mother’s foul-tempered Dodge Dart.” However the beloved toys are stolen and never seen again, Appel struggles with what he calls a private apocalypse; even now there is a space for Fat and Thin on his shelf at home. The internal grapple with the loss at such a young age affects Appel even now although in a different way. The self-reflection is incredibly humbling. The second story (my favourite) describes a patient Mr Nimble a 94 year old male who falls and hurts himself. Once in the hospital he jokingly asks for a suicide pill. (Appel is a physician and ethicist.) Sending the doctors into a panic over his mentally stability, it turns out the last time Mr Nimble was sick such a thing still existed; as they realise he is without a telephone, family or friends, he is a danger to himself. The state is intervening, however the patient asks why? He has lived so long like this and yet now he is going to be kept against his will. “The underlying problem is that our society has never had a meaningful, collective conversation regarding how much risk a mildly impaired senior citizen must pose to his neighbours before we take away his freedom.”

Just a few technical bits; the writing is strong and unfaltering. Woven with beautifully deep descriptions I was completely submersed in Jacob’s world. Even though the essays are quite short the characters are full-bodied and spring from the page in an incredibly mature way. Additionally although the stories are told in first person, we get to learn a lot about the narrator’s personality which is lovely. It allows the stories to all consume the reader and drag them further into the authors life. I liked the length of the book too, although I did find myself wanting it to go on and on. I found myself needing time to reflect over all the stories and it has made me want to learn more about some of the themes discussed throughout. 

Overall this is a witty book full of philosophical nuggets of wisdom. The writing is incredibly fluid and has an unsolicited feel, We really get an insight into the thoughts, hopes and fears of the author. I said last time that Appel was going on my list of authors to watch out for in the future and this book has helped him to shoot straight to the top of the list. Beautifully honest I found myself thinking about this book long after I turned the final page. The essays have a real mix, some talk about family, love, unrequited love (that’s another special story) hope, fear, friendship it constantly mixes and matches beautifully personal moments and discussions of society and the norms that we live by. Overall I loved this book; gorgeous, spectacular and humbling. PERFECT

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10,000….

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Right, I can’t actually put into words how happy I feel right at this minute; when I set up this blog eleven months ago, I never thought that it would lead to anything. This blog was created to be something, personal; a place for reflection and for myself. What has actually happened has not only shocked me but has sometimes moved me to tears. Today, I reached 10,000 hits on my blog and I have gained 1,000 incredible followers. Bloggers that want to listen to my thoughts, comment on my ideas, read my posts and reflect with me. I cannot thank you all enough for the confidence you have given me in not only my ideas and in my ability to write and review, but in my understanding of books and authors and therefore ultimately myself. Today, I received my first paper-back book through the post to read and review, and I was interviewed for a podcast as a guest reviewer. If you had told me all of that would have happened eleven months ago I would have laughed and told you that no matter what I did this blog would never have given me that much; and yet here I am. Close to tears, but smiling (^ as you can see above) All I can say is thank you. From the bottom of my heart, you lovely, lovely bloggers.