BOOK REVIEW: How To Be Happy by Eva Woods

Format: Kindle, Bought
Links: Goodreads | Amazon UK
Blurb: Annie Hebden is stuck. Stuck in her boring job, with her irritating roommate, in a life no thirty-five-year-old would want. But deep down, Annie is still mourning the terrible loss that tore a hole through the perfect existence she’d once taken for granted—and hiding away is safer than remembering what used to be. Until she meets the eccentric Polly Leonard.

Bright, bubbly, intrusive Polly is everything Annie doesn’t want in a friend. But Polly is determined to finally wake Annie up to life. Because if recent events have taught Polly anything, it’s that your time is too short to waste a single day—which is why she wants Annie to join her on a mission…

One hundred days. One hundred new ways to be happy. Annie’s convinced it’s impossible, but so is saying no to Polly. And on an unforgettable journey that will force her to open herself to new experiences—and perhaps even new love with the unlikeliest of men—Annie will slowly begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, there’s still joy to be found in the world. But then it becomes clear that Polly’s about to need her new friend more than ever…and Annie will have to decide once and for all whether letting others in is a risk worth taking. Continue reading

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Book Review: With Love at Christmas by Carole Matthews

with love at christmas carole matthewsWhat it’s about:

Can the imperfect family really have the perfect Christmas?

Juliet Joyce adores Christmas. She loves the presents, the tree, the turkey, the tinsel.. just everything! Already the festive spirit is upon her, which is just as well as this Christmas things are starting to get a little out of hand. Her son, Tom is out of work and bringing home a slew of unsuitable partners; pregnant daughter Chloe and her little boy have moved back in; Juliet’s father, Frank, is getting over a heartbreak of his own and Rita, her eccentric mother, is behaving more erratically each day. And has the chaos got too much for Juliet’s husband, Rick?

With the big day fast approaching, Juliet hopes that she can stop everything spiralling out of control, because the only thing she wants is her family all around her and her home to be filled with love at Christmas.

CharlooDividerReview:

Now this book was an absolute joy to read. Despite the fact that I probably read it at the most inappropriate time of the year (slap bang in the middle of summer..) it 100% dragged me into the Christmas spirit and left me wishing that winter and Christmas would just hurry up! This story is about a delightful woman called Juliet who adores every aspect of Christmas. She wants the decorations to look perfect, the food to be wonderful but what she wants most of all is for her whole family to enjoy the big day. However, with a family like Juliet’s, that proves harder than it seems. This was such a laid-back, easy-going book I quite easily read more than half the book in one day and not only that, it was incredibly entertaining and left me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. I think what made this book such a success was that it was so relatable. It’s mostly written from Juliet’s point of view so you learn to appreciate how difficult it is being a wife, mother, grandmother and a carer all in one. Throughout the book, she faces a series of very real problems along the way, ones which the majority of us will probably have to deal with at some point or another. From a mother with advancing Alzheimer’s to the passing of a loved one and her son’s unemployment and string of unsuitable partners. Juliet faces them all with such grace and dignity (apart from spraining her ankle in an attempt to ravish her husband), which I think makes her an inspiring and perfect main character.

Some of the ridiculous scenarios Juliet and her family find themselves in did make me wonder if some of it is based on true stories, which is something I’d love to ask the author about if I ever got the chance. Every family has their moments, but you would need some imagination (or own experience) to come up with some of the situations that occur during the book. This book really does tug at emotions you never knew you had and I’m not afraid to admit that it brought a tear to my eye at times. Everything’s just so much sadder when it happens at Christmas, don’t you think? The characters and their personalities are described so well you really begin to get a feel of what it’s like living with these people, some more pleasant than others. Each character has their own story and problems in their life and they were all described very well, which I liked, with Juliet being the centre of it all. With her kind-nature and her ability to always find the best in people, it’s no wonder her entire family (plus a few who are not) always come to her for help, guidance and assistance. The chapters are all very short as well so it’s very easy to get lost and just keep reading.

This is a very warm, feel-good story full of fun, happiness, festive spirit and the occasional tear. Carole (and Juliet) also manage to teach you a few valuable life lessons along the way, the main one being to never forget how important family is. Especially at Christmas. If you haven’t already, I would definitely recommend picking up a copy in time to read for Christmas! Seeing the world through the eyes of Juliet, you begin to feel like a part of their family and by the end of the book I genuinely missed the shenanigans of the dysfunctional yet loving Joyce family.

I didn’t know this but the Joyce’s feature in another of Carole Matthew’s books called, ‘The Loving Feeling’ so I’m quite relieved that I can visit them again in what will no doubt be another fun-filled read.

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

perks What it’s about:

Charlie is a freshman and while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the side line forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming of age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant, roller-coaster days known as growing up.

CharlooDivider

 Review:

I’m not one to follow the crowd but I did jump on the bandwagon with this book and as much as I didn’t want to like it after all the hype about it, there was something about the main character Charlie, that pulled me in and made me keep reading and ultimately fall more in love with him and his story. The story is written from Charlie’s point of view in a series of letters to a ‘friend’ which remains anonymous. I was a bit sceptical at first as I felt this might get a bit tedious but instead it had the complete opposite effect. It draws you in to the life of this mixed-up, socially-awkward, confused boy which you connect to instantly. At some point during your adolescent years, you’ve probably been through something similar to what Charlie writes about and his problems are all so real you find yourself becoming emotionally attached and identifying to him, his friends and the problems he faces throughout the book. I also like the way the book is written. Chbosky doesn’t try and be clever but simply writes it as a teenage boy would write which not only makes it more believable but an easy read that makes you want to keep going and going in the hope that things will eventually work out for young Charlie.

This book is full of surprises and includes a range of different emotions and situations that will take you back to your teenage years, from Charlie falling in love for the first time with his friend Sam to finally feeling like you’re a part of something when he makes new friends. He mentions a lot of books, musicians and songs that Charlie comes to love and the groups ever growing love for the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I honestly cannot think of a single criticism for this book and as much as I didn’t want to get pulled into the drama of it, I’m glad I did because Chbosky deserves the hype and the praise for this emotional, touching and beautifully written novel in which some of his words will stay with you long after you put the book down.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was turned into a film in 2012 starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller and Paul Rudd and is available to buy now on DVD.