Synopsis

Having had to look after herself since she was a child, Zoey has built an impenetrable wall of hostility around her. However, when her friend Maya needs her help Zoey has to let her defences down and allow outsiders in. This includes Kellen, Maya’s brother-in-law.

Can Kellen help melt Zoey’s icy exterior?

Review

When I first picked up this book I was seriously misled by its cover. It looked like a light hearted chick-lit; a bit of comic relief. Instantly, I was proven to be wrong. Within the first chapter you had families living in trailer parks, abandoned teenagers, school yard pregnancies, underage drinking and abusive fathers; all in the very first chapter. I started to wonder what I had let myself in for.

What I hadn’t prepared myself for – even after this initial shock – is how much I would fall for these characters. Our protagonist, Zoey, is a tough nut to crack yet she has a heart of gold and a vulnerability that is kind of heartbreaking. You cannot help but want her to have all the good things that life has to offer.

Kellen is essentially a nice guy but his niceness tends to leave him missing out. He is calm, confident and develops a new and exciting bolshie attitude that even leaves Zoey flustered. It is almost like they balance each other out. With all good love stories – and believe me, this is a damn good love story – you find yourself yelling at the book when things go awry.

Besides the cast of characters, Zoey and the Nice Guy deals with the contentious issue of domestic violence. Not a subject to be handled lightly and fair play to Ashby she doesn’t overplay it nor does she have it as a catalyst and then sweep it aside. This plot thread is consistent throughout the story and deals with not only the physical wounds but the psychological ones of the victim but also those around her. It is interesting to see how different corners of a social group would respond – hatred, shame and even denial.

It is due to these reasons that I fully recommend Zoey and the Nice Guy. I will warn you not to be fooled by the cover. Besides the darker topics mentioned above Ashby also engages in quite graphic sex scenes and also throws in the odd (or very frequent) cuss word.

Zoey and the Nice Guy by Carter Ashby is available now.

You can follow Carter Ashby on Twitter @CarterAshby

Zoey and the nice Guy

Synopsis

Lena Dunham invites you into her world and delivers an account of some of the random events that have shaped her life and made her the person she is today.

Review

Pssst! Yes you, the one reading this. I have a slight confession. Before reading Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” I didn’t have a clue who Lena Dunham was. I’ve never watched HBO’s Girls nor had this tiny blonde lady from Manhattan made it anywhere near my radar (Lena Dunham – if you are reading this then I am very sorry). Instead, I was drawn to her book in that very way that us ‘high-brow’ book bloggers hate admitting to. I liked the pink and black writing on the cover. I hang my head in shame.

Having read Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” I do feel like I know who Lena Dunham is. Not just in a 21st century someone-who-is famous-and-therefore-known sort of way but on a more personal level.  This may seem like a crazy idea being that Dunham is only really showing us what she wants us to see; revealing only the parts of herself that she deems suitable for human literary consumption.

However, I get the sense that Dunham knows that the events of her life are funny and that by sharing them she really isn’t looking for judgement but looking to allow the reader to realise that life – anyone’s life – is full of humour, sadness, ambition and dark matter amongst a whole list of other things. She seems so conscious that in parts she comes across as a little unhinged but she bares her bones to us and good on her. There is a cathartic self-indulgence to this memoir in the sense that whilst I know the stories belong to someone else it has allowed me to reflect on my own life, the memories that have made up my story and it has given me the genus to laugh along with some of the things I used to take seriously.

So whilst I can’t honestly say that this book has inspired me to have a Girls marathon it has inspire me to take life as it comes and see the potential in each event I encounter. For that I thank you, Lena Dunham.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham is available now.

You can follow Lena Dunham on Twitter @LenaDunham

 

Synopsis

Lena Dunham invites you into her world and delivers an account of some of the random events that have shaped her life and made her the person she is today.

Review

Pssst! Yes you, the one reading this. I have a slight confession. Before reading Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” I didn’t have a clue who Lena Dunham was. I’ve never watched HBO’s Girls nor had this tiny blonde lady from Manhattan made it anywhere near my radar (Lena Dunham – if you are reading this then I am very sorry). Instead, I was drawn to her book in that very way that us ‘high-brow’ book bloggers hate admitting to. I liked the pink and black writing on the cover. I hang my head in shame.

Having read Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” I do feel like I know who Lena Dunham is. Not just in a 21st century someone-who-is famous-and-therefore-known sort of way but on a more personal level.  This may seem like a crazy idea being that Dunham is only really showing us what she wants us to see; revealing only the parts of herself that she deems suitable for human literary consumption.

However, I get the sense that Dunham knows that the events of her life are funny and that by sharing them she really isn’t looking for judgement but looking to allow the reader to realise that life – anyone’s life – is full of humour, sadness, ambition and dark matter amongst a whole list of other things. She seems so conscious that in parts she comes across as a little unhinged but she bares her bones to us and good on her. There is a cathartic self-indulgence to this memoir in the sense that whilst I know the stories belong to someone else it has allowed me to reflect on my own life, the memories that have made up my story and it has given me the genus to laugh along with some of the things I used to take seriously.

So whilst I can’t honestly say that this book has inspired me to have a Girls marathon it has inspire me to take life as it comes and see the potential in each event I encounter. For that I thank you, Lena Dunham.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham is available now.

You can follow Lena Dunham on Twitter @LenaDunham

 

Synopsis

Being part of the Winter clan is something incredibly special. Equally, being part of the Winter clan can be an albatross. The Winter’s, like most families, harbour many dark secrets; stories that they have failed to share. For although they are a close family there are some things that you just keep to yourself.

When Martha Winter, mother and matriarch of the family, calls all her children and grandchildren back to the family home Winterfold everyone is beyond curious. Hidden as an excuse to celebrate Martha’s 80th birthday, the family know that there is more than meets the eye to this party.

The house of Winter is about to be rocked to its very foundations.

Review

The final part in the A Place for Us series is like a giant hug. Over the four instalments we have fallen in love with this family, been saddened by their downfalls, heartened by their love stories, in awe of the strength of the cast of characters and basically come to see them as our extended family.

For me, I felt like I was sharing in their story, that I wasn’t just a reader absorbing the words on the page in front of me, or a fly on the wall secretly observing what was going on. I felt like I was a Winter. That is a really rare talent when a writer can make me feel inclusive of a story and whilst I have no complaints about how this story ended or what happened in the narrative I will admit that I want more. I know this goes against my devotion as a book lover but I would love to see this made into a TV series; I genuinely think it would translate well on screen.

Well done Harriet Evans, once again you did not let me down.

A Place for Us Part Four by Harriet Evans is available now.

You can follow Harriet Evans on Twitter @HarrietEvans

A place for us part four

Synopsis

Being part of the Winter clan is something incredibly special. Equally, being part of the Winter clan can be an albatross. The Winter’s, like most families, harbour many dark secrets; stories that they have failed to share. For although they are a close family there are some things that you just keep to yourself.

When Martha Winter, mother and matriarch of the family, calls all her children and grandchildren back to the family home Winterfold everyone is beyond curious. Hidden as an excuse to celebrate Martha’s 80th birthday, the family know that there is more than meets the eye to this party.

The house of Winter is about to be rocked to its very foundations.

Review

The third part of A Place for Us has by far been the quietest; the family secrets did not fall thick and fast in this part of the novel, instead it has been a book of reflection. The family are still reeling from the shock revelation of Daisy and her wayward lifestyle and the death of Southpaw and as the family assess and take in these dramatic changes in their lives we realise that nothing can really, truly ever be the same at Winterfold.

Evans choice to make this part of A Place for Us decidedly low key was impressive. The tension had been gradually building over the first two parts and some reprieve was needed. The reflective tales of David’s past and about the sacrifices that he had made throughout the years made you appreciate this family unit all the more. Martha’s sadness at his passing was truly heartbreaking – especially as we see the family look upon her to guide them, to continue the matriarchal role that she once held so proudly, so strongly.

It is also through the memories encased in the close-knit family that helps unify them once more. The Winter’s have survived worse and as we head into the winter of this narrative we see the power that a unified family can have.

A Place for Us Part Three by Harriet Evans is available now.

You can follow Harriet Evans on Twitter @HarrietEvans

a place for us part three