Tag Archive | The Truth About Melody Browne

A to Z Reading Challenge 2011

Ok, so I’m a little late doing this, sorry, but better late than never eh!

In late 2010, I heard some people talking about reading novels from A to Z. I thought, what a brilliant idea, and decided to set myself a challenge of doing exactly that in 2011. As I was writing a blog about it, it occurred to me that other people may have the same idea. I googled A to Z Challenge and found this site – A to Z Challenge I didn’t have to start one all by myself!

I started with no plan at all, except to read the A to Z (author surname) in order, and stick pretty much to just those 26 books. In 2010 I’d read about 24 books, so knew I wasn’t going to be able to read many more than the 26.

Of course as time went by and I made my way through the challenge, I found there were other books I really wanted to read that either were a letter way further down the line, or that had a letter I’d already read, or already planned what I was going to read for it. I let myself read a couple of other novels – but only if I REALLY wanted to needed to.

I did cheat a little. Kinna. I didn’t actually finish 26 novels. There were 3 letters that for different reasons I didn’t finish the novel.

Letter L was Girl with a One Track Mind by Abby Lee, I started it and was enjoying it, but it was all about sex, when this girl had it, where she had it and how much she thought about it. Nothing really wrong with that, but I do most of my reading on the tube, I felt embarrassed reading it on the tube, so picked up M, and told myself I’d read L at home. I never got round to it.

Letter O was a really good book – The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell. I got it from the library (a god send, I couldn’t have afforded 26 books in 1 year on top of the ‘really want ones’), and took it to Sweden when I went. I’m not sure if it was on the flight, at the hotel, or our friends’ house, but somewhere I lost it. Typical. I ended up having to pay it in the end anyway. I’d gone on to P while I was away, and just never got the opportunity to go back to it. At some point, I would like to buy it, or borrow it and finish reading it.

Letter Z was a hard one, which I started before a few other letters. I unexpectedly finished the novel I was reading on a Sunday and didn’t have a chance to go and get the next letter. Boyfriend came to the rescue and gave me a Z – Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny. It was sci-fi which isn’t my choice, but I’d borrowed a couple off him in the years previously which I quite enjoyed. Lord of Light was not another one though. I just couldn’t get into, or really understand it. I gave it 50 or so pages, but couldn’t go on. When I gave it back to boyfriend, he said he’d had a hard job getting into it. Sigh.

So, I didn’t make 26 novels, but I started them all. In my book I finished it – yay!

Also, I didn’t review all, or add any of my review to the site, but to be honest, I didn’t find the website too easy to navigate, and lets face it, all I need is a little excuse and I won’t do something. I guess technically if I didn’t check-in, I didn’t really do it. In my mind I did though!

I’m really glad I did the challenge, I read a lot of authors that I’d never had done otherwise, and you know me, I love a challenge. But, I’d never do it again. I found it WAY too constrictive, and because I knew I couldn’t really read many other books, I felt guilty when reading one that wouldn’t go towards the challenge. There were times when I just HAD to read other books – like The Ugly Sister by Jane Fallon and Faking It by Lotte Daley – and there were many, many more times when I wanted to read another book, but just couldn’t. There were also quite a few letters where I was so torn over which novel to read. M was a good example, I had about 3 books with the letter M on my TBR shelf at home. So what did I do? I went out and bought another. Typical! It was New Moon (Twilight) by Stephanie Meyer.

I discovered some brilliant authors because of the challenge though – Jeff Abbott, Allison Brennan, Ilana Fox Rob Ryan, Nancy Taylor Rosenburg and Minette Walters. Weird – most of the new good authors write thrillers… what does that tell me? I say I prefer women’s lit (chick-lit), but it’s a close call. I did discover new chick-lit authors, but when I discovered them, I read them out of sequence and out of the challenge because I just HAD to read them there and then (Ali McNamara and Lotte Daley)

I know all the books are listed on my ‘Books’ page, but here’s a list of them – from A to Z. Just for fun, I’m putting a comment and rating out of 5 after each one – not something I usually do. The ones which I have reviewed have the links to the actual review.

A Kiss Gone Bad by Jeff Abbott – brilliant. Can’t wait to read the other ones in the series – 4.5/5

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern – Prefered her earlier stuff, but still pretty good – 4/5 (I couldn’t choose between the As, so read them both)

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay – Loved it, love his work – 5/5

Fear No Evil by Allison Brennan – So happy I discovered her. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series 4.5/5 (ditto the comment re A for B)

The Famous Writer’s School by Stephen Carter – Not what I imagined. 2.5/5

Ex-Girlfiends United by Matt Dunn – Little slow 2.5/5

Past Mortem by Ben Elton – Good, he’s done better, but still good – 4/5

Spotlight by Ilana Fox – Didn’t expect to, but loved it 4.5/5

The Love Verb by Jane Green – As usual loved it – 4.5/5

This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes – Slow 2/5

A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro – Couldn’t get over the cultural difference – 2/5

The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell – Once got into it, really enjoyed – 4/5

The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson – Loved every second – 4.5/5

Girl with a One Track Mind by Abby Lee – what I read was good. I will finish it at some point 3/5

Twilight: New Moon by Stephanie Meyer – Not as great as Twilight, but still good. 4/5

One Day by David Nicholls – Took a long time to get into it. Had me crying like a baby at the end though. 3.5/5

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell* – I need to finish this – 3/5

Still Thinking of You by Adele Parks – as always a brilliant read from Ms Parks  4.5/5

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen – took ages to get into the story – 2.5/5

Trans Am by Rob Ryan – fast paced, gripping – 4.5/5

Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton – loved. Better than her first (and, you know –New York) – 4.5/5

Mitigating Circumstances by Nancy Taylor Rosenburg – Brilliant 4.5/5

Die for You by Lisa Unger – Not what I expected in a really good way. 4/5

The Birthday Present by Barbara Vine – slow, slightly boring. 2.5/5

The Sculptress by Minette Walters – Excellent – 4.5/5

The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai by Ruiyan Xu – Really enjoyed it 4/5

Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto* – again, couldn’t get over the cultural differences 2/5

Lord of light by Roger Zelazny – just couldn’t get into it – sci-fi really isn’t my thing – 1/5

All in all, it was a good year, but I’m glad it’s over and I can read what I want to read, not what’s next on the list!

The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell (@lisajewelluk)

When she was nine years old, Melody Browne’s house burned down, taking every toy, every photograph, every item of clothing and old Christmas card with it. But not only did the fire destroy all her possessions, it took with it all her memories – Melody Browne can remember nothing before her ninth birthday.

Now in her early thirties, Melody lives in a council flat in the middle of London with her seventeen-year-old son. She hasn’t seen her parents since she left home at fifteen, but Melody doesn’t mind, she’s better off on her own. She’s made a good life for herself and her son and she likes it that way.

Until one night something extraordinary happens. Whilst attending a hypnotist show with her first date in years she faints – and when she comes round she starts to remember. At first her memories mean nothing to her but then slowly, day by day, she begins to piece together the real story of her childhood. Her journey takes her to the seaside town of Broadstairs, to oddly familiar houses in London backstreets and to meetings with strangers who love her like their own. But with every mystery she solves another one materialises, with every question she answers another appears. And Melody begins to wonder if she’ll ever know the truth about her past…

As you’d know if you read many of my blogs/reviews I love Lisa Jewell. In fact I’m shocked it took me so long to read this.

When I found it quite tough to get into, I was really surprised, until I realised why. Melody Browne isn’t much older than me, and yet she has a teenage son and is living in pretty poor area. I’m childless and live in an ok area. It just took me a while to connect with the character because she wasn’t like me – at all.

But, when I did, guess what? I loved it. I fell in love with Melody and was excited to be going on her journey to find out about her history with her – as well as finding herself in the present.

It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s brilliant. I’d totally, totally recommend it to anyone. I love Lisa Jewell.

A to Z Challenge – The Struggle with ‘I’ and ‘J’

I finished A.M. Home’s This Book Will Save Your Life last night. I enjoyed it, but in the same was as American Gods (Neil Gaiman) – I have no idea why. Unlike AG, I didn’t spend the whole book wondering what the hell was going on, I spent it wondering what the point was. But, I still enjoyed it, and I got to the ‘can’t put it down’ stage. Weird.

My friend saw I was reading it and commented on it ‘Nothing happens.’ It’s kind of true, but I still enjoyed it.

So that brings me on to letter I. Let me tell you, there aren’t that many authors whose surname begins with I. In Waterstones book store I found a couple. One book slightly interested me, but not all that much. Not enough to spend just £3 on it. 

Today I went to the library. Barbican library is a pretty big one in the heart of LondonCity. In ‘Fiction,’ ‘Romance,’ ‘Sci-fi,’ ‘Fantasy,’ ‘Young Adult’ and ‘Large Print’ I found about 5 novels. None of them really leapt at me. I wondered about for over half an hour and in the end couldn’t decide between 2 – Graham Ison’s ‘Lost or Found’ and Kazuo Ishiguro’s A Pale View of Hills – so I got them both. I still can’t decide. I think I know which I’d prefer, but I’m not 100%. I almost feel like I should read the one I’m not as drawn to, just to read something totally different to normal – isn’t that the point of this challenge? Doing something different.

I don’t know. But I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

I also did something naughty. I picked up another book. It wasn’t too naughty, it was letter J – which will be my next book, but I already had a J. I also already had a J in mind to buy. Uhhh, oops. But the J I have and the J I wanted to buy are by the same author as the J I picked up today – Lisa Jewell. I’ve had After The Party for over a year, but it is a signed copy from when I met her so part of me doesn’t want to read it and mess it up (plus when I got it I was going through a break up and couldn’t handle the idea of a couple breaking up OR staying together in the book I was reading, so couldn’t read it then. Having said that, we’ve been back together 8 months, so that’s a pretty rubbish excuse!). The one I want to buy is her new one The Making of Us. When I met Lisa she was just finishing this and told us all about it, so I’ve spent a year wanting to read it. Which is why I picked up The Truth About Melody Browne today.

I figure if I decide to read After the Party, or buy the other one, I can just take this one back to the library, no worries. This is what I tell myself.

I’ve not done any writing or editing for days and days. I meant to last night, but was just too tired to get any motivation at all. I’m going out tonight, but might stay back at work for half an hour before I go to do some writing. It’s better doing that than saying I’ll do it when I get in – very doubtful.