The Woman at Number 24 by Juliet Ashton (Review)

The Woman at Number 24 by Juliet Ashton

About the author

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Juliet Ashton was born in Fulham and still lives in London. She writes under a variety of names, including her real name, Bernadette Strachan, and as Claire Sandy. She is married and has one daughter.

Blurb

When your marriage falls apart, the last place you’d want your husband to move to is downstairs. Unfortunately for Sarah, up in the eaves at number 24, her ex-husband now lives one floor beneath her with his new wife. Their happiness floats up through the floorboards, taunting her.

A child psychologist, Sarah has picked up great sadness from the little girl, Una, who lives with her careworn mother three floors below, but is Sarah emotionally equipped to reach out?

The Spring brings a new couple to the house. Jane and Tom’s zest for life revives the flagging spirits, and Sarah can’t deny the instant attraction to handsome Tom. Having seen at first hand what infidelity does to people, she’ll never act on it … but the air fizzes with potential.

The sunshine doesn’t reach every corner of number 24, however. Elderly Mavis, tucked away in the basement, has kept the world at bay for decades. She’s about to find out that she can’t hide forever.

Review

It has been a long time since I have read a book with so many twists and turns and so jam packed with storylines, I loved it! This book I got a while ago as a freebie on Apple Books and since reading it I have downloaded another of Ashton’s books to read in the near future.

The book’s main character is Sarah but also in my opinion the house itself is an integral character. The house is located in Notting Hill and is made up of flats. Mavis lives in one of the basement flats, Una and her mum live in the other basement flat, Leo and Helena share another, Jane and Tom in one and lastly Sarah in the attic flat. Sarah and Leo are divorced as Leo had an affair with Helena and finally married her. Since her divorce Sarah’s life has been turned upside down and somehow she is trying to rebuild her life again.

As the story follows Sarah it shows her develop and grow and as she does the other characters also grow and develop. The house also feels this, it fills with love and good feelings and friendship in every way.

I loved all the characters in this book apart from Leo as I just found him very smarmy and unpleasant. I also disliked Helena, she came across as very fake and annoying but thankfully she was not in the book much. This book kept me on my toes on every page, I made assumptions and they were quite often turned on their head. I just could not predict what would happen next and that is what I loved about it as it was not a predictable romance novel.

Sarah is such a caring character that I found myself wanting her to be my friend and wanting to give her a big hug. Tom is full of energy and love of life, you just can not help but smile when you read about him, his enthusiasm jumps from the page. Jane is also similar to Tom in her exuberance for life, even if she is a little bossy. Poor Mavis is a recluse and not a very nice lady, she has spent her life being miserable to people but I could not stop feeling sorry for her. Little Una is a wonderful child who has been affected by her parents’ break up but with Sarah’s experience and help she can recover from this experience.

I could tell that Ashton had thought about each of her characters in great detail and imagined their back stories, I also believe she has drawn on real life people as the characters are so believable. I truly adored this book and would happily read it again. I have given it a big 5 out of 5 dragons and I can not recommend it enough to people, especially if you enjoy a good romance novel. Thank you Juliet Ashton for a fabulous read!

Lady Book Dragon

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Mid Week Quote

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.”

Karl Marx

 

This quote is something I agree with as everyday you see in the news instances of people not learning from history and making the same old mistakes.

Anyway that is my thought of the day, I hope you are all having a good day.

Lady Book Dragon

One Man’s Meat by Jeffrey Archer (Review)

One Man’s Meat by Jeffrey Archer

About the author

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Jeffrey Archer was born in England in 1940, he is a former politician and author. Archer was a member of parliament from 1969-1974 but did not seek re-election due to a financial scandal that almost bankrupt him. Facing bankruptcy Archer began to write and in so doing revived his fortunes. Archer’s political career has been filled with scandal and in 2001 he was sent to jail for perjury and perverting the course of justice, in 2003 he was released. All his life experiences influence his writing and make for interesting reading.

Blurb

One Man’s Meat is part of The Year of Short Stories and is one of several digital shorts released to celebrate the publication of Jeffrey Archer’s magnificent seventh collection, Tell Tale.

Taken from Jeffrey Archer’s third collection of short stories, Twelve Red Herrings, comes One Man’s Meat, an irresistible, witty and ingenious short read.

When Michael Whitaker spots the stunning Anna Townsend on the steps of the theatre, he decides he will do whatever it takes to get to know her. Finding a way to get a ticket for the seat next to her, he then invites her to a drink at the interval. By the end of the play, Michael asks her to accompany him to dinner. But what will her answer be?

What follows are four different endings . . . choose just one, or – if choosing to read all four – they can be read in the following order: Rare, Burnt, Overdone, and À Point . . .

Review

I am back to reading to short stories at breakfast again, after having quite a break whilst I read some other books on my Kindle. I am glad to be back as I really enjoyed this book, especially because you can choose your own ending.

The book features Michael Whitaker who immediately drops everything in pursuit of Anna Townsend and pays no regard to the consequences. Each ending shows a different set of consequences for his actions. Michael is in the restaurant business and Anna is a doctor, two very different professions.

The beginning of the story sees the two characters enjoying the play and getting to know one another over a drink during the interval. At the end of the play Michael asks Anna out to dinner and from there the different endings take place. The fact that Michael drops everything because of just seeing a beautiful woman makes me wonder if the man is of a sensible and sane mind. In my opinion he is a little creepy and not a man to rely on.

Rare is the first ending and in my opinion more of a fantasy, it is more like Michael dreaming it all and it was not my favourite. It seemed a little too unbelievable like the beginning.

Burnt really shows just what a fool Michael is and that chasing this woman could have cost him everything, to be honest this is my favourite because I think the man gets what he deserves. Yes I am being unromantic but the story just does not fit in my mind.

Overdone is my least favourite mainly because I disliked the character of Anna, she suddenly seems to have had a personality change and not for the better. She is rude, irritable and spiky. I actually feel sorry for poor Michael in this ending.

À Point is my second favourite ending because if it has to end in Michael’s favour this is how I would like it to go. It is believable and a lovely ending and the reader is left dreaming of what could happen next.

All in all this was a good short story and I loved the quirkiness of the optional endings. I gave the story 3 out of 5 Dragons mainly because although the story was enjoyable I just found it rather unbelievable. It is a good read that will take you less than an hour to devour, plus it is free on Kindle. So put up your feet and have a nice break with this story and a mug of your favourite hot beverage.

Lady Book Dragon

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Waterstones Challenge

Hello!

How was everyone’s weekend? I hope you all managed to get lots of reading in.

Some of you might have noticed an added page on my blog called Waterstones Challenge, this page has every place that a Waterstones store is located. I got the list off their website and I plan on trying to visit and buy a book from every one of them. I will check their website once a month to make sure the list of stores is up to date and adapt my list accordingly.

I got the idea off my sister and her partner, they have been doing the same kind of thing for the past few years with JD Weatherspoon pubs. I love visiting book shops of any kind especially independent ones. However, the ones I really love are Waterstones, they are always so well organised and welcoming and I do love their loyalty card, plus you can find one in most places and I believe a holiday is not a holiday without a good book buying binge. Whilst on holiday in Bath I had a silly thought about trying to visit every Waterstones on the planet and that silly thought has stayed with me and developed and so I have decided to try to accomplish it.

The rules are:-

No Waterstones can be ticked off the list without:-

  • A photo of the store
  • A book bought from the store

I had to make sure I actually got some books as well, I am after all a book hoarding dragon.

Two have been ticked off the list already, Bath and Shrewsbury and I hope to get visiting as many as I can as soon as I can.

Wish me luck!

Lady Book Dragon

 

Bird Box by Josh Malerman (Review)

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

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About the author

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Josh Malerman is an American novelist, short story writer and one of two singer/songwriters for the rock band The High Strung. It was during touring with the band that he wrote his novels.

Blurb

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat–blindfolded–with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

Review

After hearing all the hype about the movie starring Sandra Bullock I was quite excited to see the book on Kindle for 99p. I always like to read the book of something before I see the movie and so I got reading straight away.

The book focuses mainly on Malorie from the time when the strange events start occurring to five years later when not much of mankind remains. Malorie has two young children to look after and try to make a better life for but she must first tackle the river whilst something follows them. As the three of them travel the long journey Malorie thinks about the past and the reader gets to see flashbacks.

Through the book Malorie becomes a strong independent woman because she has to; she has two children to look after and nobody to help her, all her friends are gone. She lives in fear of seeing the thing that drives everyone to madness and violence, this fear she has taught her children and trained them to develop their hearing so they can see using sound.

At first I loved this book and could not put it down but before long I found that it started to drag and at times I found it frustrating. I wanted to find out more about the creatures but the questions I had were never answered. I constantly wanted to know more detail and just found it lacking. It was an excellent horror story and the attic scene was by far the best but other elements in my opinion remained disappointing, there were times when an element could have been brilliant but it just felt like Malerman had given up or lacked experience to develop that element of the plot.

One element I found very unbelievable was what Malorie achieved straight after child birth, yes she had to, to survive but after all that trauma and blood loss I am not sure I believe the feats she accomplished and on so little food, whilst feeding two newborns. The part of the story I hated the most was what happened to Victor, that I really did not enjoy.

It was a good plot line, the idea of something we can not identify causing mankind to go mad, so at all times mankind must keep their eyes closed is excellent and a terrifying thought, even though we do not know what the creatures look like, or what they are, they are deadly. Without seeing them mankind has no way of fighting them, so I could not but wonder what hope is there for mankind to survive.

The book overall was a bit hit and miss for me, parts I loved parts I did not, so overall I gave the book 3 out of 5 Dragons. I am not entirely sure that I will bother with the film but I will see in the future, one thing I do know is that Sandra Bullock is way too old to play Malorie.

Lady Book Dragon

 

Happy Birthday Alan Alexander Milne!

“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.”

Today is A. A. Milne’s birthday, he was born on this day in 1882!

Although Milne wrote and adapted plays, wrote poems and adult fiction, he is best known for creating Edward bear, otherwise known as Winnie-the-Pooh and his many friends.

I can not thank Milne enough for creating Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends, as they have been with me since I was tiny. This book is only two months younger than myself, I know this because the kind lady who gave it me wrote a wonderful little inscription inside and dated it two months after my birth.

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I have early memories of my sister reading this book to me and when I was old enough I read it myself, over and over again and still read it as an adult. Then I fell in love with Eeyore and the obsession began. I’m not sure when I fell in love with Eeyore but it has been going on for a very long time. I just adore him, he is very cute and I just want to cuddle him and make everything better. I started collecting Eeyore’s from an early age and now even as an adult the collection continues. They even have their own chair in the house!

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I find even as an adult I can relate to the characters in Winnie-the-Pooh. Piglet is very scared of the world and certain things and sometimes I find things scary and do not want to leave the house but, just like Piglet, I have to be brave. Eeyore is down in the dumps and sometimes just wants to be left alone, yes, I have those days as well Eeyore. Tigger is very hyper and when I have had enough sugar, I can be just the same. The list continues.

The best example I can show you today is Pooh trying to touch his toes in the morning during his exercises. Pooh and myself both have the same problem, too much honey!

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This page also shows the bookmark I got at primary school and have preserved in this book ever since. I love a good bookmark! Also notice the bookmark is a dragon!

Anyway, Happy Birthday A. A. Milne and thank you for the world of Winnie-the-Pooh!

Lady Book Dragon.

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Friday Poetry

Today is A. A. Milne’s birthday! So I went for a suitably related poem. I hope everyone has a good weekend planned ahead of them.

The King’s Breakfast

 

The King asked

The Queen, and

The Queen asked

The Dairymaid:

“Could we have some butter

The Royal slice of bread?”

The Queen asked

The Dairymaid,

The Dairymaid

Said: “Certainly,

I’ll go and tell

The cow

Now

Before she goes to bed.”

 

 

 

The Dairymaid

She curtsied,

And went and told

The Alderney:

“Don’t forget the butter for

The Royal slice of bread.”

The Alderney

Said sleepily:

“You’d better tell

His majesty

That many people nowadays

Like marmalade

Instead.”

 

 

The Dairymaid

Said “Fancy!”

And went to 

Her Majesty.

She curtsied to the Queen, and

She turned a little red:

“Excuse me,

Your Majesty, 

For taking of 

The liberty,

But marmalade is tasty, if 

It’s very

Thickly

Spread.”

 

 

 

The Queen said:

“Oh!”

And went to 

His Majesty:

“Talking of the butter for

The Royal slice of bread,

Many people

Think that 

Marmalade

Is nicer.

Would you like to try a little

Marmalade

Instead?”

 

 

 

The King said:

“Bother!”

And then he said

“Oh, deary me!”

The King sobbed: “Oh, deary me!”

And went back to bed.

“Nobody,”

He wimpered

“Could call me

A fussy man;

I only want

A little bit

Of butter for 

My bread!”

 

 

The Queen said:

“There, there!”

And went to

The Dairymaid.

The Dairymaid

Said: “There, there!”

And went to the shed.

The cow said:

“There, there!

I didn’t really 

Mean it;

Here’s milk for his porringer

And butter for his bread.”

 

 

 

The Queen took

The butter

And brought it to

His Majesty;

The King said:

“Butter, eh?”

And bounced out of bed.

“Nobody,” he said:

As he kissed her

Tenderly,

“Nobody,” he said,

As he slid down

The banisters,

“Nobody,

My darling,

Could call me

A fussy man-

BUT

I do like a bit of butter to my bread!”

 

A. A. Milne

 

Lady Book Dragon.