Archive | January 2013

You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane Review

What happens when the one that got away comes back? Find out in this sparkling debut from Mhairi McFarlane.

‘Think of the great duos of history. We’re just like them.’
‘You mean like Kylie and Jason? Torvill and Dean? Sonny and Cher?’
‘I think you’ve missed the point, Rachel.’

Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart. It’s been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away.

They’d been partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on: Ben is married. Rachel is not. Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.

YHMAH

I love the line ‘You had me at hello,’ (I had it used on me once!!), so knew I had to read this when I heard about it. I must admit I was worried, it’s a debut novel, and I’ve read a lot of debut novels recently I’ve not really enjoyed. I know that’s just bad luck, so I gave it a go.

I am so incredibly glad I it. I loved it, absolutely loved it.

The reason I’ve not enjoyed quite a few books recently is that I’ve felt the charcters were too two-dimensional, they felt too shallow and predictable. The characters in You Had Me At Hello, weren’t, they were totally real and believable.

From the very beginning, I loved Rachel, she felt like she was my friend. The opening chapter shows her splitting up with her boyfriend, which although she knows is the right thing to do, is still really upsetting to her, her feelings were raw, and it just made her, well like I said, real. She then sees Ben, who she’s not seen since university. Slowly, their story comes out, intermingled with what’s happening in the present.

Then there’s her 3 best friends and their problems and issues too. They’re all brilliant characters too.

This was the first whole book I’ve read on my Kindle (well, kindle app on my phone). I have to admit I loved reading it on my phone, it was always with me, it was light, easy to hold etc. However, now I’ve read it, I’m gutted I didn’t have the actual book. I like keeping my favourite books, thinking maybe one day I’ll read them again, but also just having them on my shelf reminds me of how good they are and makes me happy. I don’t get to have this with You Had Me At Hello. Gutted.

My final words on this – I’ve just looked on Amazon, out of 1070 reviews, 645 were 5* (not including mine that I’ll be adding shortly), and 269 were 4*. You can’t argue with that many people!

Last Week

It’s the end of January this week. The beginning of Feb. I can’t believe it. We’re now 28 days into the year. 28. How has that happened? Time is going so fast.

Which is a brilliant excuse for not doing much this week. So little.

No editing. No writing course. No completed book reviews (although I started 2 which is good, not as good as completing, but still good). I managed to get in 2 check-ins for ROW80 (this counts as yesterday’s check in!), 2 fasting days for my 5:2 Diet AND burn 600 calories. Not everything is bad then.

What I did do, is read a book. I actually read it yesterday, as in that’s pretty much all I did yesterday. Oops. It was Lauren Oliver’s Delirium, it was brilliant, totally gripping.

It means that things really can only get better. To get better than this week, I’m keeping my goals the same:

7 hours editing my novel (granted I’m not as far as editing, I’m at reading draft 1 stage)

2 hours on my writing course

2 book reviews

2 ROW80 Check-ins

Burn 1500Kcal in addition to normal walking to work etc.

2 fasting days for my diet

That’s it. And this week, this week, I’m going to do better. I’ve got a really busy week, but I’m going to make time to the things I need to be diong. With January pretty much down, I’ve got a month less before I have to get my novel to the RNA for review. I can’t do what I usually do and leave things till the last minute with this, this is too important to me. So this week, will be my week.

Midweek Check-in

Oh dear, I’m not having a good week. I only set my goals Monday night (late Monday night, well after I had time to do anything that night), so I don’t feel too bad. Yesterday I could have, and should have done stuff, but I didn’t. I came home from work early (contact lenses felt like they were cutting into my eyes – ouch. Came home to take them out and work from home for the afternoon). I felt like I should have done more in the evening because of it, especially since dinner should have just been a heating up dinner from the night before.

Oh well, I didn’t and I need to move on.

Today I’ve been busy at work and in a training session, then I went out for dinner (one of my dear friends is moving to Portugal for a year. Happy for her, but sad too. Tonight as her going away meal), so the fact I’m even writing this blog is good. 

Tomorrow I’ll do some editing. My buddy Laura has promised she’ll start pushing me, I think it’s what I need!

When I started my new job, I asked if there was a chance I could work 4 1/2 days a week, or from home once a week, they said in principle fine. Great. I said I’d spend 3 months settling into the job, then see. We’re now at the end of the 3 months. The pay wasn’t what I hoped it would be, and not enough to let me drop down to 4 1/2 days, but WFH once a week is a possibility. Unfortuntely stuff is happening at work, and I’m going to have to TUPE over to another company (a much bigger company, so should be a good thing… maybe), in 6 weeks. Because of this, I’m not going to be able to change my working conditions etc now, but maybe when I move.

Point I’m getting to here? I’d like to work from home once a week, so that I’m here, and ready to start writing or editing or whatever as soon as I’ve finished work. (You know, like I didn’t do yeasterday!). I think I’d also stop for a lunch break and get stuff done then if I was at home for a day (I pretty much never do now).

I can probably do it unofficially for the next 6 weeks and see how it goes with the new company after that.

Sorry, went off the subject there.

This weeks goals. I’m not going to go through them, because there’s not that much. But, I have achieved some things: this is one of my blogs for this week; I’ve started a book review; I’ve done 1 fasting day. So all is not lost, yet. No, all is not lost yet. No comma. Comma not needed!

Hope everyone is having a good week!

Last Week’s Loses

Last week was a mix of a week. I had some good days, and some really horrible days. That’s mainly just because of work. I hate that work can make a difference to a real life day. Well, I do when I’ve had a bad day.

In terms of my goals, last week was a pretty poor week. Pretty poor. These were my goals, and successes (or lack of them):

7 hours editing – totally failed this one, none.

2 hours of writing course – again, failed totally, not one.

2 Book Reviews – Completed one, drafted one. It’s a good thing I fiinished the one I did, it was for the website Novel Kicks, and on Thursday, it was pubished. Woop! That’s my first review for anyone other than myself. I’m looking forward to reviewing more for them. Check out my review of All That Glitters by Ilana Fox, and enter the competition to win a copy here.

2 ROW80 Check-ins: COMPLETE!

Burn 1,500 Kcals in additional to normal walking to work exercise: 600kcal done. It’s better than none. Plus, I took the big step of going to the gym though. First time this year. That’s a big step!

3 ‘fasting’ days: I only managed 2. I kept putting the second back, and ended up accidently being hungover yesterday, so really couldn’t face the idea of it.

Not a great week, but certainly not a terrible week. I’ve very happy with the review on Novel Kicks. I’m very happy with going to the gym. I’m happy I can at least do check in blogs.

I’m going to keep most of my goals the same for this week, just changing one and adding another. They are:

7 hours editing

2 hours of writing course

2 Book Reviews – 1 for here and one for Novel Kicks. I’m sure they don’t want another one so soon, but if I get it done, it’s ready when they’re ready for it. The one for on here is drafted so shouldn’t take that much effort. She says…

2 ROW80 Check-ins PLUS another blog: My check in blogs are about my progress. I don’t write so much about what I’m writing (or editing in this case). I like those blogs, so I’ll add one of those too.

Burn 1,500 Kcals in additional to normal walking to work exercise: I know I’ve not managed it so far, but it’s good to have a big goal to aim for.

3 ‘fasting’ days.

I’d really like to do a week round up and actually be positive about what I’ve acheived that week. I can’t remember the last time I wrote a blog and was really happy with everything I’d done over the whole week. I think this might be the week. I’d really like it to be, but I do have quite a lot of plans. But saying that, I’ve not got outragous goals; everything is possible.

Wednesday’s Words

I can’t believe it’s Wednesday night already. How did that happen? Being busy at work really makes the week fly! 

I’ve done no editing yet this week. I’m quite disappointed with this. Steve (the boy) was away on Monday, getting back late Tuesday. On Monday I accidentally (!!) turned the TV on and watched some soaps, then some CSI, then some more, then some Law and Order. Then I realised it was midnight, bedtime. I had my laptop on my lap the whole time. Really disappointed with myself.

Yesterday I planned to go to the gym after work, but had an accidental (see a theme here?) glass of wine during a catch up with an old colleague in the afternoon. After months of not going, I didn’t think being a little tipsy (it was a large glass, on an empty stomach!!) was a good plan, I’ve never fallen off a running machine, but didn’t want a first time.

Tonight I’ve been really tired, so done nothing.

Somethings are going well though this week. These are my goals, and how they’re coming on:

7 hours editing – 0 so far. But it is only Wednesday.

2 hours on my writing course – 0 again. Ditto above.

2 book reviews (one for here, and the completed one for Novel Kicks) – 1 done and sent to Laura at NK, 1 started. Not bad.

Burn 1,500 Kcal in addition to normal daily walking to work etc – 150Kcal so far. Well, it’s 1/10. Least it’s something. Hmmmm. Gym tomorrow.

3 fasting days: 2 done so far – Monday and today. Result.

I’ve done some things, so it’s not that bad. And, I still have 4 days left. Not sure the exercise one can happen now, but I’ll give it a go.

Exciting news of the day – Laura from Novel Kicks liked my book review, so in the near future I’ll have my first review on the site. Woo. So excited about that. I’ve been posting book reviews on here for years, but it’s such a big thing to be asked by someone else to write on their site. Makes me want to write another one right now…

Instead, I’m going to have an early night in the hope I sleep well, get up on time tomorrow (which I haven’t done this year) and become productive tomorrow night.

Here’s to the rest of the week!

Week Round Up

I can’t believe it’s Sunday already. This week has gone so quickly. Too Quickly, I didn’t get as much done as I wanted. On Monday I had a migraine, it lasted all evening, so cut off any chance of doing anything that night. On Tuesday I had a headache all day, I always do the day after a migraine. Wednesday I stayed at work till about 7pm. Then today, I’ve had a headache all day again. So really, I haven’t had that much time to write, edit etc. Also, I’ve had to do some work, so again, that took away time from doing stuff for me.

Here’s my goals and what I achieved:

Week 1

Editing: My goal was 7 hours. I did 4 hours. I did an additional hour prepping for a short story (more later), so 5 altogether. Considering I’ve never done any novel editing before, and I’ve been putting this off for about a year, I’m really happy with it.

Writing course: Ah. Well. Um… So I totally have an excuse for not doing this. My next assignment (I vaguely remember) is to write the plot to a novel. I’m going to use The Man of My Dreams, cause I think it would be good to have a tutor give comments on it. But, seeing as I wrote most of it well over a year ago, I can’t really remember it, so I need to go through and write up what happens. Oh, and work out an ending. That’s what I’m doing at the moment in editing, so need to finish that before I can do the assignment. He he.

Book Reviews: I planned to do one for my blog, and one (my first) for Novel Kicks. I did the one for here – The Headhunters by Jo Nesbo. I’ve drafted the one for Novel Kicks, but I’m taking my time, because it’s someone else’s website, so I want it to be perfect. I’ve written up the bio I’ll send over with it. Massively excited about it.

ROW80 Check Ins: 2. Wednesday and Sunday. Done.

Reading challenge Blogs: 2, done. The TBR Pile Challenge blog and the Mystery/Crime Challenge blog.

Burn 1500Kcal on top of normal excercise: 800 done. It’s the fault of the migraines and headaches, I couldn’t exercise with them. Next week!

Fasting Days: 1 of 2. I planned to have my second one today, but because I’ve got this headache, I thought I should feed my body properly. I’ll do 3 next week to make up for it – starting tomorrow.

During the week, I found out about the Belinda Jones Travel Club’s Sunlounger Short Story Competition. You can enter a rom-com short story on the subject of holidays, with the prize being having the story printed in the Sunlounger anthology, along side Belinda Jones, Kate Harrison, Talli Roland, Chrissie Manby, and many, many more. I don’t have an exact idea for a story, but I’ve got a character idea and a situation idea. Closing date is the end of March, so I’ve got time to think about it.

Goals for this week:

7 hours editing

2 hours on my writing course

2 book reviews (one for here, and the completed one for Novel Kicks)

Burn 1,500 Kcal in addition to normal daily walking to work etc.

3 fasting days.

As long as I can shake this headache that’s been plaguing me all week, I should be OK.

The Headhunters by Jo Nesbo

Roger Brown has it all: clever and wealthy, he’s at the very top of his game. And if his job as a headhunter ever gets dull, he has his sideline as an art thief to keep him busy.

At a gallery opening, his wife introduces him to Clas Greve. Not only is Greve the perfect candidate for a position that Brown is recruiting for; he is also in possession of one of the most sought-after paintings in modern art history.

Roger sees his chance to become rich beyond his wildest dreams, and starts planning his biggest theft ever. But soon, he runs into trouble – and it’s not long before the hunter becomes the hunted…

headhunters

 

I read my first Jo Nesbo novel, The Snowman, last year, and loved it. I liked the setting of Steig Larsson’s novels, and so thought I’d give Nesbo a shot, I’m so glad I did, Larsson had nothing on him. The Snowman had me gripped, Nesbo is SUCH a good writer. When my step mum gave me this over Christmas I couldn’t wait to start reading it.

Roger Brown is a weird main character, in that he’s not really a very nice person, and you don’t warm to him easily. He loves money, art and his job. Luckily he also loves his wife. If it wasn’t for her, I actually think he’d be a monster. Although I I wasn’t sure about him for a long time, I was gripped by the story almost immediately, and kind of rooting for him.  Having finished it, I can’t say for definite if I do like him or not, but I LOVED the novel.

I is a totally thrilling thriller, I found myself getting really nervous in a few situations, with my heart racing, and that genuine nervous, jittery feeling.

At some points in the novel I thought that it was too much, that it was too unrealistic, but I’m not sure if it was. It’s hard to say anything else without giving too much away, but some of the situations he got in seemed just a little stretch of the imagination. Or he was just damn lucky.

I know it’s been made into a film, and I’m really interested to watch it, I think it has the potential to be brilliant.

I cannot wait to read more Nesbo books, he’s got a massive back list of novels that I’m going to love getting through. I just can’t believe I hadn’t discovered him before now!