Oh wow! My hearts still pounding in my chest. What a shocker of a novel!
I first came across Clare Mackintosh when I read an interview with her in Writers Magazine. I liked the sound of her thriller genre novels and I’ve been waiting to read them for ages. My only regret being that I waited so long!
I Let You Go is Clare’s debut novel and it focuses on a hit and run incident. There are several perspectives in the novel and I’m going to be a bit shady about the entire plot because there are a couple of massive twists that I do not want to spoil for anyone!
I really enjoyed this novel, it was a page turner without a doubt. I couldn’t put it down, the storyline gripped me and changed my view of British thriller writing irrevocably. It seemed like everything I thought was true was wrong! There were so many twists and turns that it made my head spin but in a good way!
I can’t wait to get stuck into Clare’s second novel I See You because if it’s anything as good as this one I’ll find myself literally thrilled!
I’ve loved Milly Johnson’s novels since I picked up a sample of Its Raining Men in Waterstones, Meadowhall a few years ago. I was really excited to receive my copy of The Queen of Wishful Thinking from the publishers Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.
As usual I really enjoyed the book. This one deals with a lot of sensitive issues, as is expected with the romance/chic-lit genre it focuses on two people who are unhappy and find happiness with each other. But it also deals with the more serious issues of infertility, abortion, infidelity and euthanasia. I also love that there are funny anecdotes at the beginning of several chapters which are extracts from The Daily Trumpet as usual posting hilarious misprints. Being a Yorkshire lass myself I found the one about a 12 year old called Beyoncé-Jane particularly funny, because I know for a fact that there’s probably kids called that in S.Yorks.
Anyway, back to the storyline; Bonnie is in a loveless marriage with Stephen who controls everything about their lives, to top it off she’s also unhappy in her job, until she unexpectedly lands a job at a new antique store called Pot of Gold and gets more than she bargained for when she falls for her boss Lew. Lew is having problems of his own with his golddigger wife who is fast becoming unrecognisable. Having just recovered from a heart attack, Lew just wants a quiet life. And his feelings for Bonnie are developing as well.
Alongside the love story, as aforementioned there are lots of other issues going on, but it all comes together very nicely. Milly has a skill of putting together novels which make you equal parts laugh along with the characters and fall apart with them as their world comes crashing down around them and they struggle to pick the pieces up. But friends are on hand, support is there and these friends go to outrageous lengths to protect their own.
And of course in the end they all get to live happily ever after which is the best part about all of Milly’s novels!
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier is, like Rebecca a novel of thrilling mystery and distrust and unexpected twists and turns.
Philip Ashley has lived with his elder cousin Ambrose since he was small, they have always had each other, their collection of male servants and the love of the people who live around their estate. There has never been the need for a woman in their lives. That is until Ambrose goes to Florence and meets their mysterious cousin Rachel, and marries her.
When Ambrose dies under suspicious circumstances, Philip is determined to reep revenge on the woman he blames for his death. But when she turns up on his doorstep he finds that his feelings for her are quite different.
The novel makes you want to scream with frustration at the naïveté of some of the characters, while wanting to bash the heads in of others at the same time. It is equally, if not more darkly gripping than Rebecca. Although it’s left for you to decide if Rachel is guilty or not, I think it was great to see people getting their just desserts in the end for once. Really enjoyed this suspense filled novel of love and betrayal.
I’ve always had a (not so) secret love for Alan Titchmarsh’s novel ever since I read Only Dad many years ago. Mr Gandy’s Grand Tour is such a lovely little read and very refreshing after the two tomes I’ve read recently!
Mr Gandy is suddenly (if tragically) released from his unhappy marriage around the same time as he is forced into early retirement. Inspired by a book he finds about 18th century young gentleman going on the Grand Tour (modern day gap year), he decides to embark on a tour of Europe of his own, much to the disgust of his eldest son who views it as him squandering his inheritance.
What Mr Gandy finds, is not only beautiful hotels, culture filled cities and art, but also friendships and love. Alan Titchmarsh writes surprisingly profound messages about love and life and often gives you a good laugh as you go along!
I really enjoyed this short novel particularly the travel parts, as I’m in Italy myself at the moment it was great to see Mr Gandy’s views and actually be able to picture them myself!
Being an adult is hard. That’s a short sentence because it hardly needs any elaboration. There are many things that make it hard, things like getting a job and being able to afford a house and a car and to still have some semblance of a social life when all the bills have come out. The hardest thing for me personally though is the making and maintaining of friendships.
I got to thinking about this last night. I’ve finally finished training at my new job so I’m in my new team and ostracised from my old team mates who I’ve been through training with since November.
We went on a team night out last night and everyone including my manager were just great. They were easy to get on with, easy to talk to and easy to laugh with. I planned on eating my meal and having one drink but instead I ended up out until the last train because I was enjoying myself with my new friends.
The thing is though as an adult these friendships do not remain. As proven by my training team. I had nights out with them which were just as good. We got drunk and laughed a lot and partied till the early hours. We promised to keep in touch and stay friends, continue having great nights out. But it’s not always possible. Some of them moved on to other jobs, the rest of us are on contrasting shifts and can’t seem to get a day off or even a lunchtime together. The group chat on Facebook has gone from a nightly occurrence to pretty much nothing.
The same has happened in the past. Friendships I’ve made at companies I’ve worked at where we’ve promised to always stay in touch have dribbled away to nothing or just the odd message now and again promising we will meet up soon but never actually organising anything.
It’s the same with existing friendships. We keep in touch via text and the odd phone call, occasionally stretch ourselves to a quick coffee and a ‘catch up’ but it’s hard to find the time. Moving away to a different town puts distance between us. Different working hours, study time and partners are all things which affect the time we can actually make for friends.
So I wonder as I sit there with my brand new temporary friends. Is this what it is to be an adult? Small fleeting connections with many different friends who all bring something new to your life but never remain?
Someone told me once that a woman has a personality change every 7 years. I don’t know how true that is or what evidence there is to back it up, but I gave it some thought in terms of my own life and how much I’ve enjoyed it despite the changes I’ve made and the different lifestyle I live now compared to 7 years ago when I was 18.
Life for me used to be very money orientated and in some ways it still is but for different reasons. It used to be all about going out and getting drunk and suffering from that feeling we often get; particularly as young people that if we don’t do something we’re missing out. I allowed myself to get into debt because I wanted to go on THAT holiday which ended in disaster when I fell out with my friends and had a traumatic journey back from Ibiza on my own in 2013. I went on a night out every weekend even if it meant paying for my skint friends drinks/taxis/club entry when I didn’t really have enough money myself. I wanted to be out there doing everything and living life to the fullest the only way I knew how. The results of this were a series of one night stands or relationships that lasted no longer than two weeks. A battle with depression and anxiety. Messing up several good jobs, losing a few friends and a lot of debt from loans (both from family and actual lenders) and a hell of a lot of regret. I was that girl who wants to stay out until 3am even if the night is downright sh*t just in case something happened. Even if all my friends had gone home I’d hit up some acquaintances, find out who was out and go party with them instead. I’d waste my Sunday’s lying in bed (not always my own) feeling horrendous and eating copious amounts of pizza while watching Gossip Girl. Monday’s would often find me ringing in sick due to a two day hangover or struggling in and managing to do nothing resembling productivity.
Things changed when I met my boyfriend in February of this year. Everything moved very fast due to him finishing uni and getting a job in Nottingham in May. The only option we could both see (due to agreeing that a long distance relationship wouldn’t work) was to move in together. There were doubts on both sides from each other to family and friends but we made it a success and we’re very happy. Money is still important to me but in a different way, it means keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table. I still like to go out but now I prefer a restaraunt we’ve never tried before or a trip to the cinema, a walk down the canal with our dog (previously my dog) and taking in places of natural beauty or history in our local area. I still enjoy seeing my friends, bingeing on pizza and Netflix but I do it now minus the headache and with someone warm and cuddly to snuggle up to. We have a great sex life that doesn’t run the risk of heartbreak or (even worse) STDs . I have a best friend who I get to share all my crazy thoughts with as well as sleeping together and being each other’s Rock.
On Wednesday the people who read my blog regularly will already know I left my job. After the move and relocation I was struggling with the commute to my old job so I took an office job in my new town through an agency. I had my doubts at interview when the manager told me ‘I haven’t read your cv, I have no idea what to ask you or what to show you’ and asked me 6 or 7 times if I had any questions for her. To be honest it felt more like I was the one interviewing her! I took it though due to the desperation I was feeling about changing jobs and the promise of an improved salary (plus no travel costs) what I got though was a clicky office of nasty, b*tchy women who advised they couldn’t see the point in training me past the easiest most mundane tasks due to me being at uni so probably not wanting to stay at that job forever. When you bear in mind that I have 3 years left at uni, being a glorified office junior is not the career path I’m looking for. They stole from me, they were generally awful to me and when confronted denied it and I got no sick or holiday pay or any other rights due to being an agency temp. So I left. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. Given time to regroup and decide what I want to do for a job and career has been great. It’s given me the power to only accept interviews with companies I actually want to work for and with. If I’ve had interviews that have given me the creeps or the feeling it’s not right for me I’ve been able to say thanks but no thanks.
I think what I’m trying to say is that my outlook on life has changed significantly in the last year. Yes I’ve got into a relationship for the first time in many years but becoming part of a couple has enabled me to find out who I am as a person in my own right. I’ve gained independence, confidence and a drive to do well and be a success in my own right in a job I actually want to do.
It seems to become a pattern here where I write while waiting for interviews! I’m actually in a coffee shop today waiting to interview which is new to me but I always think the cliche of the writing juices flowing in a coffee shop are fairly accurate.
So today’s writing challenge asks for a quote I try to live by. I have a very influential quote from The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. It’s said by one of the main characters Jace and I have it tattooed on my collar bone.
(An old photo from when my hair was black)
For me the quote is really difficult to explain to me. It says ‘I am in the end what you made me’ and what it basically means to me is that no matter what you do or who you try to prove yourself too, people will always see and believe what they want to about you.
I got it a few years ago when I was a bit of a good time girl. I went out partying a lot I had a lot of male friends and aqua untangles and it was instantly presumed that I must be sleeping with all of them. I wasn’t but it didn’t matter how much I protested or how much the guy denied it people still chose to believe it. There was a lot of sex-shaming that went on. The fact remaining that it wasn’t really anyone else’s business if I was doing what they said I was or not. So I decided to just stop caring. I carried on doing what I wanted and having a lot of fun with it and let them continue to believe what they wanted and I realised that the fun I was having going out and enjoying myself was definitely a better sort of fun than anybody who was having fun from talking about me was having.