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THE STORY OF OUR LIVES: A Novel about Friends ~Helen Warner

February 12th, 2018

THE STORY OF OUR LIVES is a wonderful read about four friends who meet at University and remain friends over the course of their lives.  I just cozied right into this story and enjoyed the lovely conversations and problem solving involved in the women’s lives.  The language was supportive and yet the friends were able to speak clearly to each other and challenge the best of their endeavors.  Secrets were uncovered over the years and those lead to positive interactions and healthy outcomes.

There are several love stories within the book and that makes for fun dialogue and group attention.  The 4 women meet for long weekends nearly every year to catch up, enjoy their transitions and offer work related changes and opportunities.  Two of the women have big jobs in Television and Communications, one just wants to be a wife and mother to her wealthy fellow, and the fourth is a single parent who must make survival decisions about her work so she can fully parent her child.  Each character has a particular crisis to overcome and it is just terrific to understand how the friends draw together to assist in the resolutions and better outcomes.   The men in the story are definitely a part of the story, yet only one male is developed and helps with the parenting parts of the stories of their lives.

I loved the different cottages that the women spent their weekends at and how they divided up the cooking and the tasks at hand while keeping relaxation and true connections their highest priority.  This gave me a bit of a travel perspective about the UK and other warm and trendy spots for 20 – 40 somethings to be attracted to and enjoy.  I, of course, like the English expressions which are so precise compared to casual Americanisms and slang.  These women were driven to stay connected and not lose the friendship because of lack of attention to words and communications.

In the last several years I have read a number of best friend stories.  Communications and intentions to hold on the friendship seem to be the most successful role of these stories.  Being a friend is a considerable amount of work and it makes me think that younger women need to know that it is work and the communication skills are tantamount in the process.  THE STORY OF OUR LIVES did have glamour and a number of crisis points, the writer’s words flowed and the sentence structures were good and made the story move without feeling sloppy.  I would have loved to have such a nice group of friends in my younger years and rather envied the women in this story.

A lovely rainy afternoon read and a joy to know that maybe there are such nice groups happening currently.

About Helen Warner

Helen Warner is head of daytime for Channel 4, where she is responsible for shows such as Come Dine With Me and Deal Or No Deal. Previously she worked for ITV where she launched the daytime talk show Loose Women and was editor of This Morning. She lives in East Anglia with her husband and their two children.

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ALL DAY AT THE MOVIES: Family Saga Novel ~Fiona Kidman

February 5th, 2018

ALL DAY AT THE MOVIES is a beautifully told story of women who live in New Zealand starting in 1950 and continuing the story to the present day.  This is a story primarily of women and how they change a society with a few gutsy moves and through fabulously written words that just hold the narrative firmly in the reader’s mind.  The characters assist in the understanding of poverty, societies expectations, and norms all the while reflecting the change that the women are pursuing towards making a difference.

In 1952, war widow Irene Sandle takes up work in the New Zealand’s tobacco fields, hoping to build a new life for herself and her daughter.  But the bold act of female self-sufficiency triggers a sequence of events whose repercussions are still felt long after Irene’s death.  Against a backdrop of immense social and political change, Irene’s four children lead disparate lives, and learn how far family ties can bind – or be lost forever.

Fiona Kidman has written well-over 30 books and her writing parallels her own life story and the lessons she learned while being a journalist, script writer and producer.  “Kidman’s accessible prose and the way she shows (mainly) women grappling to escape from restricting social pressures has guaranteed her a permanent place in our (New Zealand) fiction.”

How Kidman could fill such a short book (300+ pages) with so many details and feelings, while moving the story line forward was amazing.  The reader was at the waves-water’s edge and then thoroughly surrounded by forest as one felt the character’s thoughts and feelings about the circumstances of the moment.  The reader is in the story and the story stays with the reader long after the last page has been consumed.

Kidman grew up in the Far North of New Zealand in small rural settlements where her parents farmed.  Later her family moved to the center of a major Scots migration.  In the thermal town of Rotorua, Kidman met her husband Ian, a schoolteacher, who is of Maori descent.  They live in Wellington now, and have lived there for 45 years, Kidman takes pride in the mixed cultural descendants who are Maori, Greek, Dalmatian, Spanish, and Chinese and is involved in refugee and migrant organizations.

Read more at  http://www.fionakidman.com

With unflinching honesty and characteristic compassion, Fiona Kidman deftly exposes the fragility of even the closest human relationships, as she weaves together the narratives of a family and its changing fortunes across fifty years and three generations. (cover)

Like a maker of fine lace, Kidman twists each thread of her plot – leaving some dangling while she gathers up others, weaving and crisscrossing each other until they meet to create a superbly crafted centre piece. (Daily Post)

The writing was so incredible in this book, I wish I could get many, many people to read this and enjoy the story.  Women do make change happen often.

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This lovely book was sent to me for review by:
Rachel Hundert, Senior Publicist
Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc.
P: 917-493-3601 RH@mzpr.com
www.MZPR.com
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THE CHALK MAN: A Suspense Novel ~C.J. Tudor

January 29th, 2018

THE CHALK MAN is about 5 children who at age 12 were a group trying to make sense of confusing community events and their small world – 4 boys and 1 girl.  1986 is the year where the story begins and 2016 is when the group comes together to discover the truth.

The children roam their sleepy English Village on their bicycles and find adventure while communicating with their chalk stick figure communications system.  The boys are pursued by mean older boys and need to hide from those bullies.  There is an accident at the summer fair when a ride injures a beautiful young woman, who later on the group finds murdered in the woods.   There are protestors against the new abortion clinic and this adds confusing information to the group and they are still figuring out what was going on back in the flashbacks.  Chalk figures are appearing everywhere.

There is speculation that this will be the Thriller or Suspense Novel of 2018.  It is predicted to be a best seller.  There is definitely a reason why these children are unable to leave town.  They have not done the work or tried to resolve their confused or disturbed behaviors.  Ed the prominent character in the story is drinking more and more and he is not even able to leave his parent’s home.  He is emotionally closed off and yet trying to be a great English Teacher at the school.

I had trouble with this book.  The writing is excellent, but I felt so awful about the problems the children were encountering and the abuse that was put upon them.  There was no one who could talk to them to relieve the pressures and provide understanding.  And the one teacher, who was trying his best was peculiar himself and the children were warned against him.  I wanted to help the children and thought about all the ways that we try to talk to children today to relieve trauma and bring about understanding.   I was kept awake by the violent death and the horrible violence perpetrated by the old boys.  I suppose this worry is what makes the book a winner in the suspense category, but it kept me awake for sure and finally I just barreled through to the end to find out what actually happened.  After you read this remarkable book, I want you to come back and tell me what you think happened to the head!

“I haven’t had a sleepless night due to a book for a long time. The Chalk Man changed that.” —Fiona Barton, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow

C. J. TUDOR lives in Nottingham, England, with her partner and three-year-old daughter. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. The Chalk Man is her first novel.

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BEST FRIENDS FOREVER: A Psychological Thriller ~Margot Hunt

January 22nd, 2018

BEST FRIENDS FOREVER is indeed about a friendship that has developed over a number of years between two very different individuals. Kat Grant is a wealthy socialite who owns an art gallery in South Florida and Alice Campbell is a logic professor/mathematician who is currently a stay at home mother. The women met regularly and shore each other up over a series of crises and wine.

Howard Grant, Kat’s financier husband, is the biggest problem as of late that the women are figuring out, and it is becoming quite major. Howard is a bully, violent, a drunk, and having an affair.  Kat does not have a pre-nuptial agreement and she does not want her husband to get her money.  Alice’s husband has lost his job and is trying to start his own firm.   Lots of tension mounting in each household, and then Howard falls from the balcony to his death.   Kat goes silent.  Alice works at figuring out what has happened.

It is very hard to put down BEST FRIENDS FOREVER as you are gripped in suspense and wanting to know the answers.  Are Alice’s children in jeopardy?  How will it evolve and come to a resolution?

I very much get caught up in this kind of story and I had a hard time figuring out what was happening and I had to figure out the depth of the truth as one of the characters began to figure it out.   This is often how counseling appointments go in my past.  The client keeps revealing little truths each session and then wow, one gets the whole picture and then the work begins to make change.  There is always lying, omission and truth as people are quite complex and have interesting journeys to arrive to the present point.

This book will be very popular I am certain and I believe it will be on a few folk’s wish list.   I know that one member of my book group will be racing to read this one right away.   Oh My!  It is hard to understand what one person will do to another and yet compelling to figure it out.   I thought this was a good read, but not several in a row please, I need to catch my breath.

Margot Hunt is the pseudonym of a bestselling writer of twelve previous novels. Her work has been praised by Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews. BEST FRIENDS FOREVER is her first psychological thriller.

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