Friday, 29 July 2016

Reading is Ice Cream for the Soul

Do you agree? I find reading a great consolation or distraction for tough times (when I choose something easy so I can escape); at the other end of the scale, to reading enhances a good time/mood e.g. on holiday as I am now, so somehow that good book becomes woven into the fabric of the pleasant memories, making it vitally important to select quality reading matter!  So chickens, here are some suggestions for your holiday reading matter.

You & Me Always : Jill Mansell

Feelgood plot (Tick)
Laugh out loud moments (Tick)
Believable / Likable characters (Tick)
Drama / Plot twists (Tick)
Summery setting (Tick) this one's a bit personal, but I don't really like reading christmassy books or those with a cold backdrop when I am lazing in the sun!

The plot of this book is told from 6 different viewpoints – the main players in the story – so it is easy to understand their 'motivation' for actions they take, whilst being able to feel like an on-looker when there are misunderstandings, as there often are. The setting is a close knit village, where any new arrival is a 'big deal' and can change the dynamic.

A motherless girl looks for her real father, whilst hoping to find love; A hairdresser whose biological clock is ticking so loudly that she endures a horrible string of Internet dates; A widow and successful businesswoman thinks her life is complete – but is it? A local playboy nurses a potentially explosive secret; An A-list actor needs to keep a low profile while a property developer finds his past catching up with him.

If you have read 'The One You Really Want' also by JM, or watched Notting Hill (starring Hugh Grant) you might see some similarities, but you will enjoy this novel nonetheless. Jill Mansell is a solid writer of very enjoyable chick lit. Pick any one from her list of books, you wont be disappointed.

Paper Aeroplanes : Dawn O'Porter

This is a completely different style of book, it follows 2 teenage girls living on Guernsey Island in the 90s. Both girls struggle to survive in the dog eat dog world of school (in the lead up to their exams) and dating, despite both coming from 'broken' home backgrounds which offer their own challenges.

Renee is being brought up by her grandparents, her mother has recently died of cancer and her father escaped to live in Spain – nobody in her family can talk about their feelings surrounding the bereavement so Renee hides behind the persona of class clown who loves to break rules. She has burgeoning sex appeal which she struggles to understand, while her younger sister is filled with anger and may be developing an eating disorder.

Flo lives at home with her mother, brother and pre-schooler sister – for whom she provides primary care while her mother works. Flo's brother is the local Lothario and her father lives in squalor, having become depressed after the separation. Flo's troubles are increased by the very controlling Sally – who maintains she is her best friend –but uses Flo as a tool to make herself look cleverer, prettier, richer while taking every opportunity to attract the attention of Flo's brother.

What these girls need is understanding, support and most of all a 'guide' to help them through the shark-infested waters of growing up, understanding their bodies, their emotions and how to deal with boys and the pressures of life. Is it possible they could help each other? Or are they too broken?

This book is very well observed and grounded, there are real shots of humour and D O'P definitely writes from the heart – I would happily read other books she has written.

If you like this - you may also find this enjoyable : Hurry Up and Wait (recognise the Blondie lyrics?)  Isabel Ashdown's story unfolds around three 15 year old girls who are similarly blind-sided by exams, dysfunctional families and their sexual awakening, but this one is set in the 80s and the truth comes back in flashes at a school reunion.

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