Sophie’s Turn – Nicky Wells

Sophie’s Turn poses the question do you follow your head or your heart?   

How many of us have dreamed of being proposed to by a rock star, especially one that we have idolised since our teenage years? For most of us that’s as far as it gets, but for Sophie Penhalligan it went further. Not only did she dream it but it actually happened to her. Dan from rock group Tusk is her dream come true, or is he? There is of course the small matter of her boyfriend Tim who has also proposed to her.

Sophie’s Turn is a delightful story of moral dilemma and conscience, throwing caution to the wind and reality checks told in a light hearted way with a great insight and understanding of human nature.

Sophie is a fun character who kept me amused and as the story unfolded, I got to know her better and found that there was a lot more to her than first appeared on the surface. She is a girl with a conscience that she is constantly battling with, trying to justify her actions with varying degrees of success. To help Sophie in true BBF style, Rachel is always there to offer advice and a shoulder to cry on. Then there’s the Accountant boyfriend; rock steady [yes the irony is intended] slightly anal Tim. And, of course, there is Dan the rock God, lead singer of Tuscq who Sophie has loved from a far for over ten years. The two worlds of reality and fantasy collide and Sophie is stuck between the two until something far more important happens, the ripple effect of which brings her to a point where she has to face up to the good and the bad and take the right turn in life.

The book is set in three parts with the first setting the backdrop to the story by way of several flashbacks which, I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about initially but once I got into the story I was able to slip back and forth with ease. The flashbacks work because that part of Sophie’s life is not what the story is about but are essential to understand and move the plot forward.

I loved the second part of the book and how the relationships between Sophie and Tim and Sophie and Dan developed and evolved. Part three was just as good, giving rise to some moral dilemmas, making you route for Tim one minute and then Dan the next and made you wonder how you would handle the same situation.

The outcome, well what a great ending – not what I expected but totally satisfying. All in all a fab story told in a refreshing way.

 To find out more about Nicky Wells visit her blog at

www.nickywellsklippert.wordpress

Nicky is also on Twitter and Facebook

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Turning the Tide – Christine Stovell

 Turning the Tide is set in the sleepy backwater  town of Little Spitmarsh where five years ago    Harriet Watling, or Harry as she prefers to be  called,  inherited her father’s boatyard and  hired help, George.  Not wanting to move  forward she remains set in her ways and is  desperately trying to live up to her own idea of  what her father would have expected of her.    With only the help of old George she attempts to  keep her father’s boatyard business going in the  traditional way it has always been run.

The arrival of property developer Matthew  Corrigan  with  his plans to regenerate the area  and the seemingly support of the local  townspeople  only serve to take Harry’s sense of  her against the world to a new level.

Harry takes an instant dislike to Matthew for what he represents but can’t help feeling attracted to him.  Matthew appears to be having the same problem.  Harry is a pain in the backside but there’s something about her that causes his mind to wander back to her time and again in a way that is definitely not conducive to the success of his business plans.

The story allows time for the characters to develop and for the reader to get to know and understand them.  Matthew is sexy without being flash, business like but with compassion and you can’t help but admire his patience and persistence.  Harry with her tomboy ways, strops and bloody-mindedness,  forever trying to live up to the memory of her father, can leave you feeling empathy and frustration all at the same time.

The plot moves the story along continually and brings into play other delightful and funny characters, each with their own little journey to make.

I loved the cover of Turning the Tide, it reflects the gentleness of the way the story unfolds.  Rather than racing off into a stormy sea of ups and downs at a breakneck speed, the plot glides and bobs along to a clement breeze with a mixture of intrigue, humour, mystery and romance, enticing you to read on and on.

www.christinestovell.com

Christine is also on Facebook and Twitter

Working It Out – Nicola May

I took Working It Out away with me on a long weekend, hoping for something light hearted and fun to read that would make me smile and chuckle.   I wasn’t disappointed.

The heroine of the story, Ruby Matthews, is a fiesty red head, in her late 20’s, living in London who can give as good as she gets.  Having been made redundant she is a girl on a mission – twelve jobs in twelve months in a bid to find her true calling career wise.  Whilst attempting this challenge, Ruby finds herself in different employment and situations every month, ranging from a care assistant in an old people’s home, a nanny in France to a receptionist at a sexual health clinic and many more equally not so run of the mill jobs.  Along the way Ruby encounters a whole host of eclectic and often ecenric characters.

Although the twelve jobs, twelve months challenge moves the story along  nicely time wise, it is not just an excuse for Ruby to be put in bizzare and funny situations.  Each job and each member of the supporting cast impacts on Ruby’s life one way or another and props up the underlying story line – can Ruby find love and contentment?

What I liked about this book was that although it is chick lit, Ruby isn’t the typical girly girl that you often find in this genre.  Ruby is a bit of a ladette, drinks pints, swears,  likes football and jumps into bed, often drunk, with some good and not so good bed fellows.  However, she is also kind, warm-hearted and generous which gives her the dimension and contradiction that makes her believable.  She has good and bad points, just like real life people.

Working It Out touches on some of life’s more serious issues but in a sensitive and understanding manner, giving balance and insight that is not out of kilter with the Rom Com, feel good factor of the book.

Definitely one to pack in your suitcase for chilling out on the beach with.

Nicola is a featured author with www.loveahappyending.com

and I am pleased to be an Associate Reader

Nicola is on Twitter and Facebook

You can find out more about her at www.nicolamay.com

Hurry Up and Wait – Isabel Ashdown

“Hurry up,  hurry up and wait, I stay away all week and still I wait, I got the blues, please come see, what your lovin’s doing to me……” [Sunday Girl, Blondie ’79)

Being a teenager of the 80’s I had a lot of fun reading Hurry Up and Wait  taking a trip down the proverbial Memory Lane.  Not just for the fashion, the music and social references but for the re-ignited feelings of fickle teenage friendships, falling in love not to mention falling out of it, shifting relationships with parents and adults and thinking I was already grown up and knew it all!

Hurry Up and Wait, although set in the 1980’s, could actually be set just as well in the 1990’s or 2000’s – the events could be played out in any era as, fundamentally, the teenage angsts  and crux of the story are timeless.

The story starts at a school reunion in 2010 where the main character, Sarah Ribbons, hooks back up with old friends.  From the start there is the sense that Sarah is not exactly looking forward to it – something happened in the past, in the summer of 1986, that has not yet been resolved.

The reader is then taken back to the mid-80’s  where Sarah is 15 and attends the local high school with her friends Kate and Tina, although Sarah feels slightly on the outside, never truly comfortable within her peer group.  Their everyday teenage life is depecited with an honesty and accuracy, showing the complexities and loyalties of friendship and love.

Essentially, this is a coming of age story where Sarah finds herself being drawn into a situation which as adults we can look at and the alarm bells ring madly, but as a teenager Sarah feels she is old enough to deal with.

The last part of the book comes full circle and is set back at the reunion where Sarah faces up to what happened all those years ago.

I really enjoyed reading Hurry Up and Wait.  I felt the characters were realistic, the dialogue spot on and the relationship Sarah had with her father to be a candid portrayal – one of embarrassment and irritation at times but also one of a deep sense of love.  Yep I can relate to that!

 www.isabelashdown.com

Isabel is also on Twitter and Facebook.

Isabel has also written ‘Glasshopper‘ which was published to much critical acclaim, and was twice named as one of the best books of 2009 by the London Evening Standard and the Observer Review.

Dear Dee – by Sue Uden

When I first read the blurb for Dear Dee I have to admit  it wasn’t the sort of book I would normally pick up and the issue of mental health made me question whether I would enjoy reading it.

However, I’m so pleased that I did read it, the subject was dealt with in a compassionate and sensitive way showing how both mental and physical illnesses touch the lives of each member of a family and how they react as individuals and as a family unit.

Dear Dee is the story of a family, John and his wife Nickii together with their two grown up daughters Claire and Jackie, the latter who has suffered from mental illness for approximately 8 years.  The story shows how the illness has affected them all and gives all four viewpoints, including that of Jackie, which I particularly found interesting and refreshing.

John feels frustrated that he cannot do what every father would want to for their child – to make things better and this continual emotional strain eventually takes it’s toll on his health.   His wife, Nickii, feels helpless and is worried about the effect it is all having on John, while Claire carries a guilt with her from childhood about her feelings towards her sister.     As for Jackie, all she wants is to be back to how she was before her illness; with her husband and children.  Without giving the story line away,  something happens which changes their lives completely and the family have to adjust and learn to deal with a different future.

The story is compelling, thought provoking and at times emotional, at one point I was blinking back the tears,  but all dealt with in a caring and understanding way.

Full credit must be given to Sue Uden for the way she has tackled the delicate, little understood and often taboo subject of mental illness and its effects.  Most of all though, the honest way this is portrayed through the intricacies of family relationships, their interactions and feelings towards each other must be commended.

Dear Dee is Sue’s first novel and she is a featured author with www.loveahappyending.com

Sue is a regular on Twitter and can also be found on Facebook .

You can find out more about Sue through her website www.sueuden.com