Life or Something Like It by Annie Lyons

lifeorsomethinglikeit

What they say: Step into someone else’s shoes for a day…

And it will change you for a lifetime.

Cat is very good at her job. She runs a PR company with her best friend (and secret crush) Jesse, and is never happier than when her high-profile celebrities are glittering in the spotlight.

But when her footballer client gets in the press for all the wrong reasons, Cat’s career takes a sudden nosedive. So when her brother Andrew unexpectedly needs her to look after his kids for a few weeks, she can hardly say no. She’s happily single, hasn’t exactly been the ‘World’s Best Auntie’ over the years, and what she knows about looking after children would fit on the back of a postage stamp. But it’s only temporary until she gets her real life back on track – isn’t it?

From the bestselling author of Not Quite Perfect comes a hilarious story that will have you wondering just how perfect your life is!

The Review: The book begins with Cat Nightingale, who works hard and, while she lets her work define her, has no qualms about it doing so. She is a strong character who grabbed me from the start, I found her really refreshing. We are told how much she lives for her job, but then suddenly: bang! Cat is told that maybe she should stay away for a little while as part of the fall-out of a publicist’s nightmare, the faux pas of a bad boy footballer. Suddenly Cat has time on her hands which works to her brother, Andrew’s advantage. He enlists Cat to help mind his son, Charlie and daughter, Ellie. Cat is very much not a children person and she battles to befriend the two who aren’t very open to the idea of Cat being there. She is also left to deal with problems that Charlie has, issues that broke my heart and put it firmly in my stomach for a portion of the book. This all take place whilst dealing with Finn, a constant presence who is uncle to their friend and who seems to find Cat’s trials amusing. I adored the interactions between the two of them, their personalities matched the other in terms of smartness and speed and added to an already ever present wit and humour.

Then there’s the small issue of someone in Cat’s job trying to make things different for her. This was dealt with brilliantly, and I was on edge to find out what exactly was happening, and who she could really trust.

The characters in this were gold and performed their duties to perfection. I adored Cat, loved her best friend Ava, Finn, the kids … the only character I couldn’t warm to was her brother, Andrew. I loved where the book went in terms of showing the issues Cat was keeping inside, it was dealt with beautifully and also brought about showing us just how nicely Ms. Lyons does romance. The pages flew by and the comic moments put a smile on my face, as did the story.

This book is interesting in that it brings up the age old question of how people assume that females of a certain age are pre-disposed to want children. I cannot recommend this book enough for something light, yet thought provoking, definitely one to get the conversations going, though also one to make you smile. All in all, some very sweet, sad, melancholic moments, that gave me a jolt as it reminded me of times gone by. Highly recommended and I look forward to looking up ‘Not Quite Perfect’ by the same author.

Rating: 5/5

The Eight Mistakes of Amy Maxwell by Heather Balog

Theeightmistakesofamymaxwell

What they say: Amy Maxwell’s got four kids, a useless husband and crusted applesauce on her yoga pants that haven’t seen the inside of a gym in over a decade. She’s convinced her teenage daughter is up to no good, her ten year old can’t stop chattering in her ear and her oldest son has befriended a teenaged boy twice his age who is a tad bit strange. And don’t even get her started on having a toddler when you’re in your late thirties. She just can’t keep up. Forget tired; she’s exhausted and feeling unfulfilled, dissatisfied and like a disappointment to everyone; her kids, her parents and most of all, herself.

To relieve her stress, Amy finds herself fantasizing about everything from the pool boy next door to finding out that her daughter was switched at birth. She can’t help her thoughts, but she figures, if they’re in her head, they can’t hurt anyone else, right? When Jason, a very sexy forty something year old single father moves in across the street, Amy finds her fantasy world has gone into overdrive. When Amy and her 13 year old daughter, Allie, stumble upon the body of their neighbor, shot to death in her living room, Amy finds herself thrown together with Jason in the most unpredictable way. Amy finds herself bumbling around Jason, trying desperately to stop her fantasies and her underlying attraction towards him as this who done it mystery slowly unfolds. And Amy soon realizes, nobody is who she thinks they are…even Amy herself.

The Review: First off, thanks so much to the author for a copy of the book in return for an honest review. I really enjoyed this book, however I’ll start with the reason I found it tough, and wouldn’t recommend for anyone who hasn’t kids (for those who do, there will actually be a lot you can relate to). I was at a talk recently where the author said that there was a common idea that all books should be set on an atypical day, that is a day that repels the norm. I’d actually never heard that, though of course it’s common sense, if we want anything interesting to happen at all! This sprang to mind when I started this book, I thought it showed a bit too much of the everyday struggles. Let me explain. We meet Amy, who’s starting to feel like she’s on a merry-go-round of Groundhog day syndrome, consisting of the everyday trials of being a parent to four children. Things are also lukewarm with her husband in terms of how they interact. I didn’t warm to Amy until near the end, I just found her so negative, I know we all have days where we find things so hard and irritating, but she was so non stop, there was no light and shade with her, she rolled her eyes and cursed at everything, and I couldn’t believe that anyone would wish their husband dead (I have four boys and an, em, interesting husband and I don’t think I’ve ever even come close!;))

The second half of the book, though, changed everything. On one occasion where Amy was having one of her daydreams, things shifted in real life and she found her and her daughter embroiled in one hell of an adventure. Cue woodlands, a chase, guns, the works!! It came out of nowhere and hit me over the eyes and I loved it!
I enjoyed this book, and with tweaking, it could be 5 star gold! The ending was so different to anything I’ve read, it was really kooky and the pages flew by to reveal some of the most heartwarming moments I’d ever come across that made me happy I’d started to read.

Rating: 3.75/5

Would a review stop YOU from reading a book?

Yesterday I didn’t buy a book BECAUSE OF A REVIEW. Big news, eh? I bet some of you have even turned away by now, thinking ‘What type of news IS this?’ But, for me, it is truly a scary revelation. Let me explain. Obviously, in the last few months I have started to review books. I decided that where I had been actively asked to give a review on my site, I would. Where I wasn’t, and the book wasn’t quite up to the mark, I’d confine it to Goodreads and Amazon. That’s fair, I thought, because if I wasn’t actively asked to read the book, is it fair to shout about it? Which, let’s be honest about it, is what you’re doing when you blog. With my posts, I originally intended on informing people, letting them know whether their decision to buy a book would be justified. Would it deliver on excitement? Would it be romantic, tug at the heart strings, make them smile? My tag-line states that I was out to find as many 4 and 5 stars as possible to ‘add to the lighter side of a heavy tbr pile.’ The tbr pile is that mountain of books that needs to be dealt with, the ‘to be read’ pile. For many people, they adore books so much, and yet have so little time, that a bit of help is needed. Enter book reviewers. Now I’m not saying that MY blog is far reaching and amazing enough to inform ALL of these people, but I like to think it would help someone!
And so what of the other ratings? What of the two stars, the three stars, the (shudder) one stars? Well, I have to admit, I didn’t really think about them. ‘You idiot’ you say, shaking your head with a bored look on your face. ‘Didn’t think about the one or two stars? That’s positively idiotic!’ But I didn’t! Any reader that writes a review MUST in their head, commit to it being honest. It’s not fair otherwise. I’ll admit, when I read reviews, the one stars sometimes direct me ‘to’ the book as opposed to away from it. The things the reviewer state they hate in a book is sometimes what entices me in. Or sometimes I think the review is so unwarrented, that I just try to prove it wrong. But there’s times you can’t. Yesterday, a review said that the tension built up within a book led her to nothing. That the event it was to lead to didn’t really take place. This wasn’t a spoiler per se, as it didn’t state exactly what did or didn’t happen, but this event was built up so much in the blurb that I decided it probably was a non starter. This, paired with the fact that I’ve four kids and spend nights juggling reading, writing and my own personal studying of what I so technically term ‘the literary stuff;)’ ie articles on writing, publishing, marketing, promotion and grammar, means I don’t want to read average books. Harsh but true. There are published gems out there, and self published gems out there, and I want to find them.

Is this a fair way to be? Do you post book reviews? Do you stick to the (unsaid, unwritten) rule of being fully honest(without being mean, of course!)? Do you think I should blog ALL reviews, even if not asked? I’d love to hear your opinion, so let’s do this!!!