The one with the friend 

You meet someone. You chat, you get on. You’ve got similar morals and values, a similar sense of humour. You can talk to each other about the big stuff and the silly stuff. You’re honest with each other. You help each other through rough times, you’re happy for their victories, you feel their pain. You trust each other, you get attached, they’re your best friend. It doesn’t matter that they live at the other side of the country, even the other side of the world. It doesn’t matter that you met online. Then something happens. Their world crumbles, they fall apart, and there’s nothing you can do. You’re miles away, and can’t get to them. And even if you could, there’s nothing practical you could do. Your heart breaks for them abs all you want to do is fix it for them because you love them. 

They have to protect themselves. They have to do what’s best for them. And you support and accept that 100%. 

But, as a result of that, you barely get to speak to them. You go from daily chats to barely one a week. And you get it. You’ve spent hours thinking about it, and understand exactly why they have to do this. It makes complete sense to you why this is absolutely the right thing for them, and you absolutely do not blame them. 

At the same time though, it’s like a break up or bereavement. This person was in your life every day and then they’re gone, just like that. And your heart breaks for yourself as well. 


Reading challenge- a book you can read in a day 

The Hummingbird’s Cage by Tamara Dietrich 

***This will contain spoilers, clearly marked*** 
I got this book in a deal. You know those ‘buy two get one free’ things? Read the back, thought it sounded alright. Ohmigosh. It’s going to haunt me for weeks. 

The challenge asks for a book you can read in a day, which might make you think that this isn’t deep, or thought provoking, or long. I read this in four hours. I COULD NOT put it down. To be fair, the chapters are fairly short. However there doesn’t feel like there’s anything missing. There’s a beginning, a middle, and end (just like we were taught in school). The characters are fully formed, real, and come right off the page and into your head and heart. 
***spoliers*** skip this bit if you’re likely to buy the book. 
Jo is married to Jim, who is physically and mentally abusive. The descriptions of the abuse are fairly graphic, and incredibly realistic. I’m given to suspect the author had been through something similar. She manages, with outside help, to escape with her daughter. They’ve nearly gotten away when Jim catches up with them. 

Jo wakes up in a small town with no recollection of how she got there, or where she is. Morro is idyllic. Peaceful, with kind and sweet people. She and her daughter begin to make a life there, she gets a job and her daughter goes to school. They make friends, and Jo begins a new relationship. However she begins to ask questions about how they got there, where ‘there’ is etc. 

It turns out Morro is kind of heaven. Most of the people there are full timers, but some, we find out, are only there for a short stay. They explain that it can be used as a respite place. Somewhere to gather emotional and physical strength. Once someone has done that, they can return to real life. 

Jo decides to return, to face her husband. She immediately goes back to where she left off, despite having been in Morro over six months. She fights her husband, and wins. She and her daughter begin their new lives, knowing that they can return to Morro when they are done. 

***end of spoilers***

I wasn’t expecting that. Nothing in the blurb inferred anything more than a straightforward story. And I loved it. I like a twist at the best of times, but when it’s completely unexpected and I never saw it coming, it makes me so happy. 
Her courage and strength are incredible. I’m not sure, in her situation, I’d have made the same choice. In fact, Morro sounds perfect, and I’d never want to leave. 

Reading challenge- a book written by a man 

Master of Shadows by Neil Oliver 

Many moons ago, either in Drama or English, I was taught ‘don’t tell me, show me.’ in relation to characters. Someone should have told Neil Oliver that. These characters are some of the most flat, one dimensional, unconvincing characters I’ve ever come across. And I’ve read a LOT. I know it’s hard to make people seem ‘real’ when writing about different times/cultures/sexes, and this is the author’s first novel. I was drawn by the title; I read the blurb and thought ‘Ooh, female warrior. I like Buffy so….’ Yeah, no. This book normally wouldn’t appeal to me. I’m not good at historical books, I don’t know why. Maybe because I didn’t enjoy history at school? They never seem to feel real to me. I find it far easier to imagine space stuff, vampire stuff, alternate reality stuff. However, I bought it, and persevered.

 The story goes like this: There’s Badr, who saves his friend Patrick’s life. Patrick makes him promise that of anything happens to him, Badr will look after Pat’s wife and son. Patrick dies, obviously, so Badr goes to find the Mrs and kid, who live in Scotland. He arrives in the nick of time and saves their lives from the baaaad land owner. Fabulous. The Mrs gets killed a bit later, so Badr takes the son, John, under his wing and trains him to be a badass killer, just like him and Patrick, whilst also telling him about his father and that his mother isn’t his mother, just Patrick’s wife. Meanwhile, in Constantinople, a woman has died and her daughter is really upset. She decides to kill herself and throws herself off a balcony in a church, as you would. A Prince who just happens to be in the church and catches her (yeah) saves her life, but he breaks his back. They fall in love, of course. Back to John, who’s all grown up, and he’s the badass killer it was obvious he was going to grow up to be. He and Badr are mercenaries (a word I often get confused with missionaries, which is very different) and Badr gets killed. Very sad, much tears, so cry. But not before telling John that he, Badr, has a daughter and wants John to find her and look after her the way he has for John. I assume he does NOT want him to train her to be a killer, but you never know. John sets off, and on the way meets a woman who turns out to be his real mother. She’s also Joan of Arc who apparently didn’t get burned at the stake; someone else did in her place. She went off, had a fling with Patrick, and then learnt to be a ‘fearsome female warrior’. And a nun. Yup. They team up, and pootle off to Constantinople to ‘rescue’ Badr’s daughter. Who, gasp, is the girl that lobbed herself off the balcony. John falls in love at first sight, she fancies him but is in love with the prince that saved her so they have a snog but then she decides that she must be with the prince. There’s a big fight, the baddies mostly die, or run off with their tales between their legs. Joan of Arc, John, and balcony girl rescue the broken prince from where the baddies have tied him up, and everyone lives happily ever after. Still with me?

 There is NO timeline. Literally none. I have no idea how old John is when Badr first turns up. I have no idea how long the story takes place over. Then there’s this business the whole way through about how John is the only person ever who can feel the rotation of the earth. He’s aware of movements all the way across the planet even though in those days they didn’t know the earth was round not flat. What? How? What?

 The only thing I liked was a story told by balcony girl, told to her by her granny. Some souls have twins, people that connect with them on a deeper level. They can be a parent and child, lovers, friends, any relationship you can think of. Most people never meet their soul twin, which seems a bit unfair. The book infers that John and balcony girl are going to be soul twins, and then *drum roll* you find out its someone else. Big twist, lovely. The story appeals to me cos I’m secretly a mushy git. 

 As you might have realised, I was not a fan of this book. It was confusing, it was flat, it was bloody hard to follow, and there was not one single funny moment in the whole damn thing. If I weren’t the stubborn madam I am, I’d have given up on it. I wish I had.





Reading challenge- a book written by a woman.

The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman. 

A book written by a woman seems a fairly broad area, and it would have been really easy to pick a bit of fluffy ‘chick lit’ (I hate that expression btw). I found this book whilst sale shopping, and thought it might be a more interesting book to write about. 

The basic story is: teacher in a loveless marriage falls for a 16 year old boy at the school she teaches at. He’s also one of her son’s closest friends. They have an affair. 
What I liked about the book was that the story is told from the teacher’s (Judy) perspective and the boy (Zach). It is very clear that both want the affair to happen, there’s no hint if grooming or abuse. Whilst in America (where the book is set) the age of consent is 18, so therefore their relationship is illegal, it is not a story of a teacher taking advantage of her pupil. 
Judy is a kindergarten teacher, and as far as I could see, an excellent one. She is invested in every child in her class. She only knows Zach at first as a friend of her son whom she sometimes gives a lift home. At first she even finds him rather immature. However they end up working on a school project together, and she sees him clearly. 
I REALLY didn’t like Judy. She is moody, selfish, and doesn’t ever give any consideration to how her family are feeling. Toward the end of the affair, she manipulates Zach to get what she wants even though he makes it very clear he feels otherwise. 
Zach is much more likeable. He loves his family, he is a good student. He’s also quite deep, and thinks more than I’d ever given 16 year old boys credit for. His biggest fault is that he allows Judy to call the shots whilst still believing that she’s letting him do that. Although to be fair he’s 16, and therefore naive. 
I don’t want to post spoilers, just in case, so suffice to say their relationship comes to an end. However the ending of the book felt….unfinished in some way. Not so much a cop out, like when they don’t know how to finish a film so it’s aliens; or in a ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ way. It just left me with unanswered questions. Things that were alluded to earlier and left too much to the reader to make their own mind up. 
Will I read it again? No. Did I enjoy it? Not as such. Would I recommend it? Not really. 

Reading challenge 2017

Been a while… this thing on?? 
I’ve been sent a reading challenge for 2017 and as I love books almost as much as tea, I’m in! Then I thought I’d blog about the books, as a lot of them will be new to me. So….. yeah. 

This is the challenge, I’ll do them (as they say) in no particular order: 

Firestarter- Stephen King

Back in the old days, before aliens were always the answer, Stephen wrote really good books. There’s one called The Dark Half I highly recommend, bloody brilliant. 

This is one of his earlier books. It’s about people with powers, telekinesis etc, which I’ve always been interested in. But it’s also a really good story. 

No Time For Goodbye- Linwood Barclay

Now, I was brought up on thriller/murder mysterys. Morse, Poirot, Midsomer Murders. You name it, I saw it cos mum loves them. I’ve gone on to love them too. As a result of that, my mind is constantly trying to spot whodunnit/why/the coming twist. And I’m right about 90% of the time. So when I tell you I DID NOT SEE THIS COMING you have a reasonable idea of how good it is. 

I was on the bus home from work when it was revealed, and said ‘no way!’ very loud. Much amusement from my fellow commuters.