Marshmallows for Breakfast by Dorothy Koomson

marshmallows for breakfast

Synopsis from Amazon:

When Kendra Tamale returns to England from Australia she rents a room from Kyle, a divorced father of two, and begins a new job. She’s looking forward to a fresh start and simple life. Kyle’s five-year-old twins, Summer and Jaxon, have other ideas and quickly adopt Kendra as their new mother – mainly because she lets them eat marshmallows for breakfast. Kendra eventually becomes a part of their lives, even though she’s hiding a painful secret that makes her keep everyone – especially children – at arm’s length. Then Kendra bumps into the man who shares her awful secret, and things fall apart: she can’t sleep, she can’t eat, she’s suspended from work, and the kids are taken away by their mother. The only way to fix things is to confess to the terrible mistake she made all those years ago. But that’s something she swore never to do …

This is a truly beautiful book which touched a whole range of emotions. This is chick-lit, but with hard issues that add amazing depth to this book. Kendra is good at running away. Something bad happened to her when she was twenty. It changed her. She became someone who didn’t really feel, she became jumpy and she locked away her feelings. When a chance to leave England arose, she leapt at the chance, and off to Australia she went. But she fell in love over there, with someone who she couldn’t have. So she returned to England when she could, and move into the studio in the Gadsborough’s back garden. She has the shock of her life when she wakes up on the first morning to see Summer and Jaxon, six year old twins standing in her flat. She soon grows attached to them, as she realises their life is falling apart because their parents are getting a divorce. For someone who wanted to keep away from children, she quickly becomes their “other mumma”, and can’t live without them. So when their mum kidnaps them she is distraught. alongside that, she has to face up to what happened to her when she was young, and the reason why she left Australia.

There is so much addressed in this book. Ashlyn, the twins mother is an alcoholic, there is attempted suicide, rape and divorce. Brave issues to tackle in a novel, but Koomson handled all of them well, and she brought believable and realistic conclusions to each issue. She dedicates sections and memories to each issue and storyline so they are thoroughly examined. This in effect means Koomson can look into these issues properly, but it also allows the characters to develop in their own right.

I loved the characters, and Koomson writes in such a way that I was completely in tune with them. When the twins were upset or scared my heart broke for them; when they went missing I felt Kendra’s pain and anguish – this is just a well written novel. I loved the twins. They were easily my favourite characters. They were so vulnerable and so easy to love. They were just gorgeous children.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a gripping book that I didn’t want to put down. Well worth reading even if chick-lit is not a genre you usually enjoy.

9/10

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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis

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Synopsis from Amazon:

Book five in the Chronicles of Narnia sees the intrepid Edmund and Lucy returning to Narnia–with their beastly cousin Eustace in tow–on the ship The Dawn Treader where their old friend Prince Caspian is searching for lost friends of his father’s. As the children take to the Eastern Seas in their hunt for the friends they find themselves embroiled in a dangerous adventure that leads them once again into the arms of Aslan the lion.

This is the fifth book in the reading order of The Chronicles of Narnia. In this book we only see two of the childern – Edmund and Lucy, as they go on their final journey through Narnia. The adventure starts in their Aunty’s house in Cambridge, in a room with a picture of a boat hanging up. On careful examination they discover the boat is Narnian, and all of a sudden they are in the sea, and not alone, they have their hideous cousin Eustace with them! They are rescued by Caspian and set sail in search of seven friends of Caspian’s father, who had been out-lawed by his evil uncle. Their adventures lead them to pirates, dragons, sea people and of course, Aslan. They travel to the end of the world, and see all sorts of magic, goodness and evil.

I enjoyed this book. Not my favourite of the series but still enjoyable. This book is full of fantasy, with the dragons and sea creatures, and all sorts of other magical beings. It was a good book, I had fun reading through it.

I was a bit disappointed it was only Edmund and Lucy this time, but I was aware that would be the case. I liked having Caspian in the book though, for a bit more consistency. We only really get fleeting glances at Aslan, but he is always there to teach them a lesson and help them out. I didn’t really have a favourite character this time round.

Overall, I found this book to be enjoyable like the others but not the best. I think both adults and children will like this story. It was easy to read and had its fair share of adventure and fantasy.

7/10

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

prince-caspian

Synopsis from Google Books:

Narnia is in trouble! All the magical creatures and Talking Animals have been forced into hiding by an evil king. Fortunately, young Prince Caspian escapes in time to lead the Old Narnians in the fight for their freedom.

But when the battle goes badly, Caspian blows an enchanted horn. Suddenly Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie are pulled back into Narnia from England, where they had returned after defeating the evil White Witch. In a race against time and with the aid of the Great Lion, Aslan, they join Caspian and his army in a battle to restore peace throughout Narnia.

This is the fourth book in The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. Like the others, I really enjoyed this book. Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are all transported back to Narnia, where Prince Caspian is on the run as his tyrant uncle has claimed Caspian’s throne and wants to kill him to ensure he isn’t rightfully restored. The children discover that the magic has left Narnia hundreds of years before, when they originally left, and that the place is not safe for Old Narnian’s. They must fight, alongside Aslan, to restore Narnia to it’s former glory and to see Caspian put on the throne.

C.S. Lewis has created such a magical world, and I love going there in his books. He is engaging and fun, and I wish I lived in Narnia sometimes. I like all four children, they are noble and brave, out to fight the evil that ensnares the world. I adored their dwarf aid, Trumpkin. He was a great character, I enjoyed watching him develop. My favourite character is always Aslan. Again, you can see how Lewis has based him on God, as he heals the sick and feels those in bondage, but this is not over bearing at all. I just love Aslan – his compassion, warrior-like personality and his love and gentleness. This book is full of some other great characters too. Lewis has created a wonderful story full of wonderful creatures.

We see castles, evil men, dwarfs, giants, humans, lions, mice, badgers, the White Witch and river gods, just to name a few. This is a great children’s fantasy book that adults can enjoy. It is fun, gripping and well worth reading. The end was a bit sad, with the adventure ending for some characters, but the very last line made me laugh. Edmund is a comedian! I recommend this book for both adults and children – this is a rounded fantasy adventure book that all will enjoy.

8/10

The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis

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Synopsis:

An orphaned boy and a kidnapped horse gallop for Narnia… and freedom.

Narnia, where horses talk and hermits like company, where evil men turn into donkeys, where boys go into battle, and where the adventure begins.

During the Golden Age of Narnia, when Peter is High King, a boy named Shasta discovers he is not the son of Arsheesh, the Calormene fisherman, and decides to run far away to the north – to Narnia. When he is mistaken for another runaway, Shasta is led to discover who he really is and even finds his real father.

This is the third book in the Narnia series – if read in chronological order. This is a fun children’s book that takes us back to the wonderful land of Narnia. Peter is still on the throne and Aslan is around. Shasta is an orphan, running away from a fisherman’s life, helped by Bree, a horse from Narnia, also running away. On their adventures they are pushed together with Aravis and her horse and they see all types of adventure on their bid to get to Narnia – including lions, deserts and war.

I really enjoyed this book. Lewis is a great writer, engaging his audience. This is a book primarily aimed at children, and it is easy to see why they are popular, however as an adult I also enjoyed this book, and recommend it to adults too.

The characters were great. Aslan is still based loosely on God and this could be seen through the way he guided the children and his other actions. He is still my favourite character, however I loved Aravis, a strong willed girl who took no nonsense and Shasta as he grew up and became noble.

The whole book was engaging and fun. It was exciting and easy to get into. Short and sweet, a book well worth reading.

8/10

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

Synopsis:

It was Friday night. Mr and Mrs Darling were dining out. Nana had been tied up in the backyard. The poor dog was barking, for she could smell danger. And she was right – this was the night that Peter Pan would take the Darling children on the most breath-taking adventure of their lives, to a place called Neverland, a strange country where the lost boys live and never grow up, a land with mermaids, fairies and pirates – and of course the terrible, evil, Captain Hook. Peter Pan is undoubtedly one of the most famous and best-loved stories for children, an unforgettable, magical fantasy which has been enjoyed by generations.

This book started off with much promise. We meet Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up and his companion, the moody fairy, Tinkerbell. After coming to the Darling’s nursery and taking Wendy, John and Michael, we are taken into the magical world of Neverland, with the Redskins, the Never Bird, pirates, including Captain Hook and Mermaids. There is deceit, fun, love, adventure and battles.

This book didn’t quite live up to my expectations however. This maybe because I am very familiar with the Disney version; yet Pan was arrogant, and not very likable, and Tinkerbell wasn’t friendly either. There were wars, and actually several deaths, which surprised me as this is a children’s book.

Barrie’s writing was a novelty at first. He writes like we are there with him watching the events unfold. He communicates like we are having a conversation with him about what we are watching. However, by the end of the book I was a bit annoyed by this.

The fairy tale wore off as I was reading too, and by the last 60 pages I was just wanting to finish the book. I had high expectations for this book, and sadly they were not met.

6/10

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

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Synopsis from Amazon:

‘You’ve never heard of The Tales of Beedle the Bard?’ said Ron incredulously. ‘You’re kidding, right?’ (From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) Published by the Children’s High Level Group in association with Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, The Tales of Beedle the Bard is the first new book from J. K. Rowling since the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The Tales of Beedle the Bard played a crucial role in assisting Harry, with his friends Ron and Hermione, to finally defeat Lord Voldemort. Fans will be thrilled to have this opportunity to read the tales in full. An exciting addition to the canon of Harry Potter, the tales reveal the wonderful versatility of the author, as she tackles with relish the structure and varying tones of a classic fairy tale. There are five tales: ‘The Tale of the Three Brothers’, recounted in Deathly Hallows, plus ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune’, ‘The Warlock’s Hairy Heart’, ‘The Wizard and the Hopping Pot’, and ‘Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump’. Each has its own magical character and will bring delight, laughter and the thrill of mortal peril. Translated from the original runes by Hermione Granger, the tales are introduced and illustrated by J. K. Rowling. Also included are notes by Professor Albus Dumbledore, which appear by kind permission of the Hogwarts Headmasters’ Archive. CHLG is a charity co-founded by J. K. Rowling and Emma Nicholson MEP and campaigns to protect and promote children’s rights and make life better for vulnerable young people. The Children’s High Level Group is a charity established under English law. Registered Charity Number: 1112575.

If you are a Harry Potter fan, this book is for you. It contains five wizard fairytales, and notes made by the Professor Albus Dumbledore. Like with Muggle fairytales, they contain moral messages and words of wisdom to the budding wizard. They are short and thoroughly enjoyable. The notes made by Dumbledore had me chuckling – what a great character! I loved how the books linked back to the Harry Potter series, making the book a must-have for Potter fans.

My favourite Tale was “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump“- very funny. A great washer woman. A fiery character who taught a valuable lesson and had a genius laugh.

As ever, Rowling writes in an engaging and fun way, and although this is predominantly a child’s book, adults will appreciate the book too, with some subtle adult humour and comments. This was a gripping and fun book to read, and I loved the illustrations, done by Rowling herself. This is a great companion to the much-loved Harry Potter books, and I highly recommend this little gem.

10/10

Helpless by Barbara Gowdy

This was an interesting book to read, and as I sit here writing this book I’m still trying to decide what I make of it. Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

Celia is the struggling single mother of an exceptionally, angelically beautiful child: nine-year-old Rachel. All too aware of the precarious balance of the life she has built for the two of them, she worries about her daughter’s longing for the father she has never met. When Rachel disappears one summer night during a blackout, Celia is stricken with guilt and terror about what her choices might now mean for her daughter’s fate. The media coverage of the abduction is tremendous, running nationwide. Closely monitoring events is Ron, an appliance repairman who lives in the neighbourhood. Though Rachel is a stranger to him, he convinces himself that she is his responsibility. His feelings for her are at once tender, misguided and chillingly possessive. Tapping into the fears that lie just beneath the surface of modern urban life, HELPLESS is a haunting and provocative story of heart-stopping suspense.

The beginning of the book had me gripped and I got half way through the book quickly, however my interest started to wain around then and it was a bit of a struggle to finish the book.

Gowdy addresses some difficult issues – single parenting, child abduction and paedophiles. I felt she looked at these issues well, there was nothing offensive or heavy about how she dealt with these. I felt it was good to write a book about these things as they are a real threat in our society.

I have mixed feelings about the characters. I liked how Gowdy looked in depth at the Rachel, who went missing and Ron, the man who felt responsible for Rachel. However, others key characters such as Celia the mother and Mika the landlord and trusted friend lacked a little depth and I felt I did not know them as well.

This isn’t a long book, and was quite a good read. I didn’t like the ending, I do not think it was realistic. There were many other ways Gowdy could have ended the book, I just wasn’t convinced by it.

6/10