When I am on holiday!

When I’m on holiday with friends and family, I read less than when I am at home, but books and reading are still very much on my mind.

I started the holiday by reading Perfect Daughter (No greater courage) by Amanda Prowse. A new author to me, its a moving and tender story of a mother, who struggles with being a role model to her family and a carer to her elderly mother. Having lost herself, she has to find the courage to be a mother, wife and daughter while acknowledging her own needs, or she will simply fail at all that she holds dear.  It delivers an emotional punch, but at the same time gives you a positive story of family love.  Its a well worn formula, used by many different writers.  Being nothing new, it takes skill and the right balance of emotion to engage the reader and Amanda Prowse delivers both. Its not my favourite genre, so to grab me it had to have the complex mix of enough emotional clout, without dove tailing into melodrama and well sketched characters. The author gives us this and respects her readers enough not to pull cheap emotional punches. Its all very believable and some readers can no doubt relate to its themes.  If you want to read a well crafted family drama, than you should give Amanda Prowse a try!

Once finished, this left the decision of what to read next, so I turned to an author who impressed me greatly when I read his second book, Welcome to Wherever You Are by John Marrs.  The Wrong Sons being his first novel! Sadly a nasty head cold left me unable to concentrate on a complicated thriller, so it was abandoned soon after. This has nothing to do with the author, he is incredibly talented, but my befuddled brain cells were too bunged up and so I moved onto The Seafront Tea Rooms by Vanessa Greene. Charming and light hearted, its what my cold inflamed brain needed. I doubt I would read it at any other time, not enough to grip me, but it was as I said charming and if you like books based around tea, cake and friendships, this is a well written example.

So that was my holiday reading, now to carry on my challenge to read Waterstone’s monthly recommended fictional reads, with Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories by Elizabeth Strout.


The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien

My apologies for the long gap between reviews, but technology has not been my friend of late! My lap top closed just before I saved this review, so I’m trying to type it on my ancient kindle fire.

I looked forward to June’s recommended fiction read from Waterstones, because I’ve enjoyed the books chosen in the previous five months! Each book that has been chosen has been very different and often taken me to new authors I would never have read. So the decision to undertake this chllenge has been a rewarding one.

Sadly The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien didn’t work for me! I guess there was always going to be a point when one of the books they choose, failed to grab me. It’s not a bad book, many reviewers have loved it. Reading is a very personal experience and what works for one reader, simply doesn’t work for the next. In this novel O’Brien takes us on a journey to a sleepy Irish village into which comes a war criminal hiding from justice by masquerading as a healer. Attracted to him by her desperate need for a child is Fidelma, a women for whom life seems empty of purpose.

For me, the idea of taking the horrors that occurred in the Balkans and joining it with Fidelma story simply did neither story the justice it deserved. The writer touches on the horrors of this war in the title and within its pages, but largely avoids overloading the reader with sickening details. I do feel it’s only fair to say there is one scene that is deeply upsetting and it sticks with you long after the book is finished.

For me Fidelma felt too insubstantial a character to carry her part of the story, while Vlad seemed to lack the darkness and charismatic personality needed for an entire village to fall under his spell. The horrific back story of the Balkans, could have worked as symbol of a shattered chaotic world controlled by evil, with Ireland as the possibility of redemption and new beginnings, but for some reason it all felt too at odds. The one so horrific, that Fidelma needed to be a more substantial character to make me feel her story balanced it out and had equal power to carry the story to what felt to me to be a unsatisfying ending. It was all just a little too contrived for me.

Bit this was just my reaction to the book, many others felt differently. If you have read it, did you enjoy it?

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In the deep dark recesses of TBC there is a basement…a dark, damp, dilapidated room inhabited by a few unlucky souls. They all answered the siren song of a FB temptress named Tracy F…or Queen Traceeeeeey as these poor souls refer to her – when they think she is not listening! Sumaira, Helen B, Teresa, Helen C, Carol, Loo,  Melissa and Sharon all found themselves duped one day when they answered a cry for help on TBConFB:

“admin required, not much work involved, just checking posts and helping with moderating the club” said the advert….no mention of selling your soul, sleep deprivation and endless thankless tasks directed by She Who Must Be Obeyed and her depraved sidekick Charlie Fenton. I was lucky enough to gain access to the basement for one hour only to question the “admin” team who lurk behind the bright and bubbly façade that is TBConFB.


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