Luxury – Jessica Ruston

We all want luxury in our lives? But how far would you go to achieve it?

Logan and Nicolo have a dream as young men. The desire for the best and for luxury. They will work to get it.

Maryanne, one young woman in love with Nicolo, but marries Logan.

Now as men the only thing between them is rivalry and revenge. Sworn enemies, we are taken to perfection and then failure. Public and private lives, business and pleasure everything that perfection and failure may touch.

This is a world where money is no object, those that want the best will do anything to get it, to prove to themselves but all their doubters as well.

But whilst money is no object it comes at a cost – life is not luxurious if you do not have anyone to love, anyone to share your dreams with.

This novel is complex as we piece together how exactly Maryanne, Logan and Nicolo’s lives come together and are slowly torn apart throughout the novel, in a very slow-paced way. It was almost if the author was showing us how everything can unravel in front of your eyes with nothing you can do to stop it.

So much is packed into this book, that to try and tell a small part of it would give too much away. Just like the Luxury island that Logan has created, I am going to let it all remain a mystery.

This is not a chick-lit genre novel which focuses on the girl who has nothing to suddenly getting everything and the man as well. This was very much a ‘blockbuster’ novel, the sort I imagine a Jackie Collins to be like. We are dealing with the top end of luxury, the rich, the famous and the infamous. The way drugs and drink seem to infiltrate this almost untouchable class. The media that are playing to suit everyones ends it made me think that perhaps luxury is just too good to be true.

I was transported to this other world and to be honest I think I enjoyed watching it from the sidelines and was rather glad that I was not a part of it. This is exactly what the book does transports you to another world and lets you dream. A guilty pleasure read worth every minute spent on it.

I picked this book up because I had heard Jessica Ruston talk about her most recent novel The Lies you Told Me back in 2013. I have yet to read that book, but I know it is somewhat different from this her debut novel. 

What is your idea of luxury; mine would contain books, chocolate, shortbread and tea and a gloriously comfy bed. 


The A to Z of You and Me – James Hannah

Ivo is in a hospice. He is a young man, he does not belong in this place you would think. Sadly for Ivo he knows this and as he lies in his bed, thinking over the life he has led so far and what trouble there has been and what love he has had and subsequently lost.

We don’t know why Ivo is in a hospice. We know very little about him and there seems to be no or few visitors. He is isolated. He blames people. He does not want to face the guilt of his past. His only contact is with Sheila the nurse with a sense of humour and wanting to give Ivo and everyone a sense of purpose even if they are coming towards the end of their lives.

Sheila uses the A to Z game. Name a body part and tell a story about it relating to your past. Ivo takes up this challenge somewhat reluctantly but anything to stop his mind becoming too anxious. And as you start to think yourself as parts of a body, we learn about Ivo.

As this recollection continues through the book, we start to get a picture of the man who is lying in this bed. How he came to be there? What went on before him? What effect he had on others around him?

This is ultimately a sad book, but there is something rather refreshing about it. It’s style is different as we go through the alphabet piecing together the story. The structure is strong as the story unravels in front of us. At times I felt like I was intruding on something so precious, so beautiful and desperately sad that I did want to cry. At others I felt I was sharing in the ‘gallows’ humour that made me chuckle, as one memory triggered another.

As Ivo finds peace with the emotions and actions that have affected his life? Will the ultimate action mean he can now return to his one yearning – his only true love?

It has such a gentleness about it, that you want to hold onto its memories, you somehow treat the book and the story with some sort of reverence not afforded to other novels. It is not a book to pick up if you want some light reading but that does not make in a turn a difficult read. You need to be in a gentle place to read this and get the most out of it. A debut novel with a difference, it is going to make people talk.

The A-Z of You and Me is published today in hardback. 

Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book for review. 

I am not one for comparing books in genres and topics, etc. However, in the case of this book it reminded me of Rachel Joyce’s recent novel about Queenie Hennessey. I think it was the hospice setting, the coming to the end of your life and it has made me revisit my only experience with that when my grandmother died nearly three years ago. Seeing her in those final days was traumatic and that still remains with me, it has conflicted me. Reading books like these somehow gives me more understanding. 

Books · Crafts · Jottings · Knitting

A knitted square



If you have read my blog in the past you will have noticed spattered amongst the book posts have been some knitting (and other craft) posts.

What could be better than actually a post that combines the two?

Earlier in the year I was sent an email regarding reading a debut novel. The book in question is The A – Z of You and Me by James Hannah.

….tells the story if a young man, Ivo, lying in a hospice bed, his mind full of regrets over a trouble life and a lost love….

It sounded intriguing, I was in but the question also came in – could I knit?


Could I knit a square about 8″ square and send it back to the publishers for a project they are embarking on for the paperback copy of the book.

Well of course, why not, it wouldn’t take me too long and so with thanks to some needles and lovely Women’s Institute Wool (plus instructions) they sent me, a square was duly knitted and sent back:


Knitted Square

But why a knitted square? What can possible be the connection between such a simple item and a debut novel?

Well the only way to find out is to read this debut novel.

The A-Z of You and Me by James Hannah is published on 12 March in hardback. Pop back to this blog on the 12th March and read my review.

And as for the square when I hear anything I will let you know.

(Sorry Ben, I did not put a scarf in there – but I am knitting socks at the moment if that is any good)


The Final Minute – Simon Kernick

Imagine waking up and realising you had amnesia?

You can remember nothing. The people around yo are telling you all about your past, so you can make sense of what is going on now.

Imagine if they were not telling you the truth? How would you know?

Matt Barron injured in a car accident is now being tended to by his sister and a nurse in a remote house in Wales. He has amnesia. Something is making Matt wary and uncomfortable. He feels trapped with snippets of memory coming back but not making any sense.

A chance to escape leads to discovering the present situation and ultimately along a road back to his past as his memory starts to return.

Ex-detective Tina Boyd, now working under the auspices of a private detective, is searching for a missing girl. A newspaper article prints a picture not just of Tina but the girl and it seems that Matt has a flashback to something related to both these women.

Tina could answer the questions Matt has. Together they try and piece together what exactly is going on in the present, what has happened in the past and potentially what is going to happen in the future.

This is thriller that I could not put down, it has all the twists, turns and red herrings that you would expect from such a novel and from what I have read by this author. And whilst some may say it is an unexceptional storyline for someone like me who tends to shy away from such novels, it was thrilling, gruesome and fascinating in equal measure. It made me question the actions of the characters, and I verged from sympathy to sheer disgust within a couple of pages of this writing, as I was swept away with the storyline.

A good thrilling read, ideal if you want to start reading the thriller genre.

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book.

The Final Minute is out now in hardback and ebook. 

This is the second Kernick I have read which features Tina Boyd. She is a character which gets under your skin, she is not afraid of hard graft and a bit of violence if it is necessary. I need to learn more about her, so will certainly read some of Kernick’s previous novels to get more of an idea. What is great is you don’t have to read these novels in any order, they work well independently, they just have a recurring character. 



Fly Away Home – Jennifer Weiner

Sylvie has discovered that her husband has had an affair. She has been his rock and support for over thirty years, everything she has done has been for him. Even giving up her career as a lawyer was for him, to look after him, be the perfect wife and mother. To be sought after to represent him if he was not available. How can he have treated her so?

Diana, wanted for nothing as a child. She is in control of her life, her work as a doctor, her child, her husband, her feelings, everything is as it should be. Nothing can be a surprise. Not until she starts an affair with someone. Now everything seems out of control, can she possibly halt this life she has walked into?

Lizzie, is trying to find peace. She is trying to find a life which does not involve drink, clearly drugs and inevitable rehab. Perhaps if she can find the right man it will be answer, but what if he has been influenced in his past by someone with a drink problem. Can he see past his own past?

Three women who are at very different points in their lives, all thrown together. Lizzie is Diana’s younger sister, temporarily looking after her small son Milo. Both are the daughters of Sylvie and their father, is an American Senator.

The whole of America is going to know what he did. The whole of America has seen them as a family. The whole of America has an opinion on them now.

Now that the family is fragmented they are all trying to find there way home.

That home seems to be in the family beach house, where first Sylvie retreats to, followed by Lizzie and then Diana. There they can just be. No makeup, no tailored clothes and most of all no judgement. Just something simple, good food, comfort, sea air and love.

The book starts fairly slowly and rather plodding in its approach and whilst it does not pick up the pace something shifts in it when the three main characters become more connected and learn a lot about themselves. It is a book which you can read, put down and have enjoyed but not one that will stay with you.


February Roundup

Blink and I think I might have missed February. I am sure it is the same every year, but this year feels even more fast, especially as I have wasted reading time by being poorly yet again. However, I am hoping a new approach, some new exercise and a shedding of many draining aspects of life and people might lead to a much more healthier and productive month for March.

What I did read in February was some good and some average books. I even had a did not finish, which sounds very bizarre thing to be posting about but it was a wonderful cathartic process. The book in question was J.K.Rowling – A Casual Vacancy. I bought the book (in hardback) when it came out and it has languished on my shelf ever since. With the prospect of a BBC adaptation, I thought it was time it was dusted off and read. I did read more of the normal 50 page rule and give up but in the end I could not and did not want to invest any more energy in the book. Therefore it is not finished and the programme not watched. Wow what a feeling!

To make up for it all, I turned to another author who was making his way with a second novel after the runaway success of his first. S.J. Watson – Second Life is very different from the first and makes you question just how many lives do we have running at the same time? I sense this book will probably be a slow one to climb the charts, but is worth a read.

Keeping the blood pumping and the heart racing without going to the gym led me to read Simon Kernick – The Final Minute*. Thrillers really are a new genre for me to be investing reading time in and I am beginning to enjoy them, even if I do wince and hold the book far away at the more gruesome elements.

It was time to get away from all the thrilling reads and indulge. What better way than with Jessica Ruston – Luxury*. I came to this book, knowing that money doesn’t buy love and happiness, and I feel desperately sorry for anyone that thinks it does. This book just shows you what money, greed and jealously can do to you.

February has been a month for reading recently released novels as well as some that have been on my shelf for a while. One of those was Jennifer Weiner – Fly Away Home*, a passable diversion but not a book that is going to stay with you.

Another booked which had been flitting about from shelf to bedside table and back again was Paula McLain – The Paris Wife* which is the last book I finished in February. It was a historical fiction read and one which I would not necessarily have thought would be interesting, however interest has been piqued and there is much more to be read about The Paris Wife, Hadley Hemingway.

So February was a lean reading month, but I was pleased to get some older books off my shelf, to still keep up to date with recent releases and enjoy reading. Even though Goodreads tell me I am 3 books behind schedule and that I have also hardly touched any of my challenge read books either!

I have ended the month with a good old-fashioned read – Agatha Christie, at least that will be one book finished in March and one of my challenges.

How was your reading in February? Anything I may have missed? What do you have lined up for March?

*Review yet to appear on blog.