If You Could See Me Now [Cecelia Ahern]

1150655Elizabeth Egan’s life runs on order: Both her home and her emotions are arranged just so, with little room for spontaneity. It’s how she counteracts the chaos of her family — an alcoholic mother who left when she was young, an emotionally distant father, and a free-spirited sister, who seems to be following in their mother’s footsteps, leaving her own six-year-old son, Luke, in Elizabeth’s care. When Ivan, Luke’s mysterious new grown-up friend, enters the picture, Elizabeth doesn’t know quite what to make of him. With his penchant for adventure and colorful take on things large and small, Ivan opens Elizabeth’s eyes to a whole new way of living. But is it for real? Is Ivan for real?

My thoughts on the novel: For many years, I have been a huge fan of Cecelia Ahern’s books. They’re always full of hope and love, all wrapped up with some magical pixie dust. In this regard, the novel “If you could see me now” is in keeping with the author’s signature writing style.

However, I must admit that it took me a long while to really take to this story. There were some lengthy passages that made it difficult to remain focused and interested.

I thought it took a bit too long to set out the context, the characters and their personalities.

To be fair, the core plot/storyline is quite interesting. It’s about the role of imaginary friends in the life of children… and adults! Out of the blue, Ivan becomes visible to an adult Elizabeth whose life is rather deprived of magic and enchantment. She’s been through quite a family ordeal from a mother walking out on her, her troubled sister who keeps storming in and out of their lives, and her complex father.

It was witty to introduce a character like Ivan into Elizabeth’s life to help her put her move on and strive for real happiness.

I thought the style was true to Ahern’s most famous books. I actually really enjoyed the final chapters that I found poetic and lovely.

Although this novel isn’t one of my favourite from Ahern, it’s still worth reading it because of the message it conveys about hope, friendship and happiness.

My Score : ♥ ♥ (= I liked it)

 

Coins in the Fountain [Judith Works]

With middle age looming, Judith Works decided it was time for a change. But after graduating from law school at the age of forty-seven, she still faced the question “What now?” Casual conversations about far-off travels with husband Glenn became a reality with the offer of a dream job at the United Nations in Rome, Italy.

Coins in the Fountain brings to life the challenges of acclimating to the beautiful and chaotic ancient city of Rome. Works shares her struggles of learning the arcane rules and folkways of the UN while Glenn begins his valiant effort to cook Italian-style, as they both endeavor to embrace la dolce vita. With an extraordinary count and countess for friends, dogs in the doctor’s office, snakes and unexploded bombs on the golf course, along with a sinking sailboat, the unexpected was always just around the corner.

Through wit, wry humor, and enticing descriptions of food and travel adventures, Works takes you on a journey into the heart of what it is truly like to live in the Eternal City. According to Roman lore, if you toss a coin over your shoulder into the famous Trevi Fountain, the gods will grant you a return trip. When it was time for them to leave, Works made that hopeful toss of a coin and her wish was granted.

My thoughts on the novel: Coins in the Fountain is a captivating memoir written by Judith Works who has clearly led quite a hectic, exciting life. Moving from the US to Italy to occupy an incredible job at the United Nations in Rome, she and her husband have to adjust to a new language, a new culture, a new way of life, a new “everything” basically. On top of that, you should know that at the time they started this adventure, it was near the end of the eighties, so forget all the practical technology, online banking and high speed Internet we now rely on and could not live without!

When she shares her many awkward or funny anecdotes that took place at the beginning of her journey, you won’t resist laughing a little. Experiencing the cultural shock helps you grow and learn about yourself. I know what I am talking about (let’s not even mention the impact of the reverse cultural shock). Coins in the Fountain made me reflect of my own experiences, so I liked this book a lot.

It is filled with interesting, informative and entertaining stories on a vast array of topics, from local traditions and cuisine to politics and history, religion and culture. It is meticulously researched and detailed. It makes for a vivid tale. The author really managed to encapsulate what expatriate life can be like (trips, friends, job, discoveries, bad moments and happy moments). I particularly enjoyed reading the bittersweet ending. You can really tell how hard it can be to leave behind your new heart home.

If you are unsure you’ll enjoy this kind of once-in-a-lifetime adventure, do read this book, it’ll help change your mind to give it a go.

My Score: ♥ ♥ ♥

A Wish Come True [Kolet Janssen]

Mark has to spend a lot of time in the hospital because of a serious illness affecting his blood. The Make-A-Wish® fairies agree that this brave little boy deserves a treat. Mark wishes to catch bad guys! The fairies offer him an unforgettable day at the fire department and the police station. Mark and his parents have a blast!

A Wish Come True is a lovely children’s book aiming to raise awareness about the now famous Make-A-Wish® association whose goal is to grant wishes to sick children with life-threatening medical conditions. The little boy, Mark, doesn’t wish for just anything… he wishes to catch bad people. So, he embarks on an exciting adventure as a firefighter and a policeman, all that made possible by three fabulous fairies!

It’s a great book to teach children how precious life can be and that wishes should be about more than material stuff. Mark embodies the values of selflessness and dedication — instead of wanting something just for himself, he wishes for something that will benefit others.

A Wish Come True will be released on June 13th.

The Little Christmas Kitchen [Jenny Oliver]

The Little Christmas Kitchen par [Oliver, Jenny]Christmas at the Davenports’ house was always about one thing: food!
But when sisters Ella and Maddy were split up, Ella to live in London with their Dad, and Maddy staying in Greece with their Mum, mince pies lost their magic.
Now, a cheating husband has thrown Ella a curved snowball…and for the first time in years, all she wants is her mum. So she heads back to Greece, where her family’s taverna holds all the promise of home. Meanwhile, waitress Maddy’s dreams of a white Christmas lead her back to London…and her Dad.
But a big fat festive life-swap isn’t as easy as it sounds! And as the sisters trade one kitchen for another, it suddenly seems that among the cinnamon, cranberries and icing sugar, their recipes for a perfect Christmas might be missing a crucial ingredient: each other.

My thoughts on the novel: From England to Greece, the author embarks the reader on a lovely Christmas adventure where two sisters must come to terms with their difficult past marked by their parents’ divorce and a childhood spent apart from one parent.

On top of that, Ella and Maddy have personal issues of their own to resolve, whether a marriage on the rocks or dreams of a big career in the music industry. Will they be able to find the answers they’re looking for? Both characters are endearing and touching. The plot is well-paced and entertaining. It was particularly fun to read about the creation of a girls’ band. It will give food for thought about the concept of fame!

This festive book is about knowing oneself and learning to forgive and move on. To make it all sweeter, the novel is filled with great baking ideas and Greek specialties.

This heartwarming novel will make your mouth water and your heart melt.

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥