Introducing my non bookish side………

When I’m not immersed in books I indulge my other passion, running. I started running about 8 years ago when my marriage broke down. I needed to get out and socialise, make new friends and run off the weight I seemed to have accumulated after two children!

I joined my local running group, the Malvern Joggers, and have never looked back.

I’ve run three marathons, Edinburgh, Worcester and London and will attempt my fourth in October this year in Budapest.

It has not been without its trials and tribulations and I have had a couple of serious injuries which means I have got slower as I’ve got older! I’ve proved that I can run good times achieving a 3 hour 36sec marathon and a 1 hour 39min half marathon, and now I just relax and enjoy the escape it grants me from everyday life.

I use the beautiful Malvern Hills as my training ground, mixing it up with some road running, and attempt to run three times per week. I usually try and get to the gym a couple of times a week too, doing gym bike intervals and some leg weights.

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There are some good races in the surrounding area that we tend to descend upon en masse, the most recent being the Broadway Tower Charity race with a steep up hill, a fast descent and the best blueberry muffin as a reward at the finish!

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Running doesn’t have to cost a lot of money but the one thing I do splash out on is running shoes, Today I dashed off to Up and Running in Cheltenham and tried  a few different models on their treadmill before deciding to stick with my current model, Brooks Ghost 9. I don’t think i will be able to shrink into the background with these shocking pink, shiny new trainers!!

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So, that is the non bookish me. I shall be intermingling the odd running post with my book posts as long as i don’t get injured and then it will be a few cycling posts instead!!

Invincible Summer by Alice Adams

Image result for invincible summer alice adams

Picador 1st June 2017

1995 and four friends leave Bristol University to embark on their chosen careers and paths in life, all determined to stay in touch.

Lucien, and Sylvie, brother and sister intend to travel. Sylvie will then pursue her dream of becoming an artist, whilst Lucien has no real notion of what lies ahead.

Eva decides on a career in the high octane world of banking and Bennedict a PHD in physics.

Their lives will be inextricably linked over the ensuing 20 years, as careers reach dizzying heights, and life takes unexpected turns.

Whilst each character has their own story and are very different, Adams uses them to show the various themes of the time, from the greed and financial crash of the banking sector to the rise of the drug fueled club culture.

As in real life, arguments, marriage, and children force them apart for long periods of time, but the friendship remains pulling them back together time and time again.

The characters in the novel are like able, and believable but there is a distinct predictability about them, it doesn’t take the reader much to guess what happens next. There is one exception that took me totally by surprise!

The novel itself is well written, but for me I found it lacked a little depth. The ending was also a little disappointing.

Criticisms aside this is a hugely enjoyable novel and it a definite one to pack on your summer holidays.

 

The Women Of The Castle Jessica Shuttack

 

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Bonnier Zaffre 18th May 2017

It is 1938 the Germans are about to invade Poland and Hitler’s promise of a prosperous and strong Germany is gaining him widespread popularity.throughout the country.

In Bavaria at the family castle, Burg Lingenfel, Marianne Van Lingenfel is preparing for their annual party. Husband, Albrecht, an ardent resister to Hitler and all he stands for is plotting Hitler’s assassination with Marianne’s close friend Connie and it is at the meeting that Marianne promises to look after his new wife Benita. Little does she know that this will have an impact on her life and those of others that she could never have imagined.

1945, and Marianne returns to the castle with Benita and her young son Martin, rescued from a run down flat in Berlin. They are soon joined by Ania and her two sons, more refugees from a war torn Germany.

Each have their scars, each have their own way of processing what they have seen, what they have done. Marianne is the lynch pin that holds them altogether. Benita, the dreamer,wanting the niceties in life, unable to think of the politics or nastiness of war. Finally there is Ania, solid, strong, practical, concealing the biggest darkest secret of all.

What I loved about this book is its uniqueness. There is or I have not read a lot of fiction that covers the impact Hitler and the war had on the women of Germany, particularly those whose husbands were closely involved either as a resister or member of the Third Reich.

The stoicism and the strength that the characters seem to find to survive for their children is wonderfully portrayed as to is the profound effect it had on how they lived their lives after the war.

By having three characters with differing social backgrounds who might not have come together in peace time gave the novel that extra dimension, adding drama intensity and emotion.

Ania, stood out for me, with her cold hard exterior, ever resourceful and practical, seeking the best outcome for her sons, whilst hiding a tumult of emotions and perhaps the most harrowing journey of them all. T

The story is well researched, and informative, with just enough factual information, that does not detract the reader from the main premise of the story.

My only criticism and hence a 3,5 star rather than a 4 is that I felt the last few chapters although necessary were a little too protracted.

Ultimately Women In The Castle is a novel of survival and hope, and one that I would highly recommend.

Thank you to Bonnier Zaffre Books for a copy of the book to read and review

The Light We Lost Jill Santopolo

The Light

HQ 18th May 2017

If you want a heart wrenching story then this is the novel for you.
Meet Lucy and Gabriel, both at University in New York.
They meet on that fateful day, September 11th 2001, when two planes crashed into the Twin Towers. As they watch the dust rise from Ground Zero, there lives become forever intertwined in a love that will never die.
Their initial relationship falls apart when Gabe leaves for foreign shores to pursue his dream of becoming a photographer.
Lucy slowly rebuilds her life, Gabe ever present in her mind. When fate intervenes Lucy must make a choice, a choice that could alter the rest of her life.
Narrated by Lucy as if she is talking to Gabe, we get the sense that something has happened but we are not sure what. I thought this was a great device used by the author to entice the reader, make them guess and keep them reading.
The whole novel was a little like being on a roller coaster, one minute the emotions high and happy the next plunged low into the dark depths of unhappiness.
The characters tugged at your heart strings, and you could not help but get emotionally involved with Lucy and Gabe., such is the quality of the writing.
I will admit to shedding a few tears, so be prepared and have those tissues ready. because this is one novel that will stay with you long after you read the last page.
Thank you to HQ Stories and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Gail Honeyman

Eleanor

Harper Collins May 18th 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine isn’t she? She gets up every morning diligently carries out her duties at the advertising firm where she works, comes home eats pasta and pesto every night, does the crossword and goes to bed. Every weekend she stays at home, drinks vodka and slips into oblivion until Monday morning appears once again. You see Eleanor is lonely, she talks to her absentee mother every Wednesday and has no other family or indeed any friends. Her plain speaking, saying it as it is, the scar down one side of her face, the ill fitting lacklustre clothes, mark her as different, a bit ‘mental’ Then, she encounters, Raymond, the company IT man and develops a crush on a handsome singer she sees at a gig she wins tickets to and all of a sudden Eleanor’s live begins to change. I’m not going to say any more because I want everyone to read this truly wonderful debut novel. It will make you laugh and cry. It will make you question what it means to be lonely, to not know what life can really be like if you just take those first few steps to open up and reach out to someone

Honeyman’s characterisation of Eleanor is so good, really plunging the depths of her angst and emotions, pulling the reader in , making the reader turn those pages faster to find out what happens to Eleanor next. Will she drown in her loneliness or will she emerge like a beautiful butterfly from the confines of a chrysalis that has for so long protected her from people and modern life?

The writing is such that I became totally immersed in the story, empathising with Eleanor, laughing at her odd take on life and shedding the odd tear at the sad moments. I particularly loved the relationship between Raymond and Eleanor, her first real friend, the first person to accept her for who she was and didn’t think her mad, the one to pick up the pieces and encourage her to believe. If from this review you are thinking this is a tragic sad novel, then yes it is, but it is also funny and more importantly full of hope. Already, optioned to be made into a film by Reese Witherspoon, this novel is destined for great things, so make sure you buy it and read it!

Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read and review.

It’s just a bit scary……..

This is the post excerpt.

I’ve always wanted to start a blog and never had the courage, so I’ve finally taken the plunge. Its all very new and just a little bit scary. The site is in its infancy and I’ve not quite worked out how everything works, so please bear with me.

The main aim of the blog is of course to talk about the books I have read, post reviews and generally comment on the book world, but there may be times when I mention my love of running, the odd trip out on the bike and a glorious walk on the hills with my constant companion Bob Dog.

It is my intention to post one to two blogs per week depending on work commitments and whatever else is happening in my life.

I want it to have an informal feel with the odd bit of seriousness. Ultimately I want to shout about books and reading and the benefits it can have on your everyday life.

Next post is it my first book review!  Watch this space………….

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