Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland (A 2017 top read)

Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say? I’m lost for words!

Loveday on her passion:

‘Anyone who’s worked in a bookshop for longer than an afternoon will tell you that people buy books for all sorts of reasons. There’s the simple love of books, of course: the knowledge that here is an escape, a chance to learn, a place for your heart and mind to romp and play’.

I read that statement, and I was sold. I knew I’d love this book.

Stephanie Butlands story started out as a quirky, cute little read. So bookish and perfect for anyone who has a penchant for books about books.

Lost for Words is the name of the book shop where our main protagonist works. Loveday (yes, that’s her wonderful name, and strangely my kindle auto corrects it to the word library, which pleases me) is a sweet, quiet soul, who has wonderful relationships with books and words, but humans, well, that’s a different matter altogether.

Loveday on people:

‘I don’t really do ‘nice until you prove you’re not’– I find it saves time to work it the other way around, in the normal way of things’.

She spends her days working in the second hand book shop, reluctantly dealing with customers and colleagues, just wanting to be left to immerse herself in books. They’re her escapism, for which I completely get. She’s so passionate about poetry and stories, her body is a canvas of book~quote tattoos. Wow, I just love that!

As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that Lovedays introverted personality is the product of a childhood trauma, and she’s dealing with it. That’s until strange packages start to arrive at the shop, and Lovedays world is turned slowly upside down.

All the characters in Lost for Words are so convincingly real. Loveday has so many endearing qualities, she’s funny, dry and full of wit. But she doesn’t even realise it, she’s adorable. Archie, her book shop boss had me visualising Sir Ian McKellen playing the part. And Nathan. Lovely gorgeous, bonkers Nathan, with his DM’s laced up all wrong, he is a magical, mystical character. And rather bookishly good looking I’d imagine.

The chapters range from ‘Poetry’, ‘History’ and ‘Crime’, with various timelines that steadily combine to form the ‘bigger picture’ and pull the reader in with emotionally charged realism. I felt as though I was ‘people watching’ in this book. At times I was THAT ENGROSSED that I felt as though I was hiding at the end of the bookshop, (among the Classics) ear-wigging everything that was going on!

Everyone and everything sat very vividly in my mind, and that is a sure sign of superb writing.

Lost for Words is an enlightening, powerful and rather heartbreaking read. There’s lots of life~lessons in here as well as laugh out loud moments. Bad stuff happens to good people sometimes, and there’s nothing you can do about it apart from accept it and move forward.

For those of you who enjoyed Gail Honeymans ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’, I urge you to give this book a go. I found a few similarities throughout the story, which I loved because Honeymans book was brilliant. And so is this.

I’m going to give this a 4.5 star rating, rounded up to 5 stars as 4 isn’t enough. And it’s going on my ‘best of 2017’ Goodreads shelf.

I’d like to thank the author, Stephanie Butland, Zaffre Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.
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Sweetpea by C J Skuse (a 2017 top read)

Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I don’t want to talk any more about today. I just want to overeat and shit myself and die. Or shit myself after I die. Apparently that happens. And when you give birth too. Ugh. What a world.”

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day, her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples and squashes her sliced loaf, to the driver who cuts her up on her way to work. And then there’s the people who really deserve to die.

This story had me roaring with laughter like the mad woman I am. It is 100% my kind of humour, for which I am 100% not sorry for. It’s certainly NOT your average humour, and it could very well offend and disturb a lot of people. But not me, I loved it!

So, in order to try and lead a relatively normal life, Rhiannon, creates The Act. This is basically her way of fitting in with her colleagues and her group of friends. (aka ‘The PICSO’s’. You’ll have to read it to find out what that stands for. It’s absolute class, and everyone has a PICSO or ten in their lives!) They have no idea that she is a psychopath with uncontrollable murderous tendencies.

The story is told in diary format, which I love because it’s so easy to follow. What I loved about it most of all though was the humour. It was dark, deeply disturbing and very un-pc. Worryingly, I heard my own thoughts countless times throughout!

“Got on the scales first thing – still not lost the Christmas poundage. Googled ‘West Country Liposuction’. Can’t afford it. Had an eclair.” (Yes! Cake IS the answer!)

Had I have read this in a public place, I’d of got very strange looks because I was laughing and snorting and nodding my head in agreement all the way through. Rhiannon, you’re a gem, albeit a murderous one!!

Without giving too much away, here’s a couple of tasters of her many Kill Lists which cropped up throughout the story;

1. People who walk in groups along the pavement so no one else can get past, like they’re fucking in Reservoir Dogs. (Why do people do this?!)

2. Middle-class people who believe it’s their God-given right to bring their babies into restaurants and allow them to squawk all through a meal. (Ugh, don’t get me started on this one!)

3. Interrupters. (Yep, totally agree!)

I know it’s a pretty harsh attitude to have, but I’m certain loads of people think these things, the older I’ve got, the less tolerant I’ve become, so these felt very relatable for me! Not to the extent that I want to kill anybody though, I’d like to point out!! Rhiannon, you’re my kind of girl. But I value my life far too much to be your friend!

C J Skuse has created incredibly believable characters with such depth and imagination that every single one of them stood out for one reason or another. Sweetpea was an absolute joy to read. However, it certainly won’t be for everyone because there’s violence, profanity and stuff that is quite simply, very, very wrong. But, for me, entertainment-wise, it was very, very right. I just hope the author will be writing another instalment, because, damn it, that ended on a cliff-hanger! I need to know what happens to Rhiannon next!

This gets a well-earned 5 stars from me, mainly because I can’t stop thinking about it and I end up chuckling to myself!

Oh, and here’s what would be on my Kill List, just for the record;

1. Boasters.

2. Upstairs neighbours who think it’s a grand idea to have laminate floors with insufficient underlay and 3 tap-dancing kids.

3. People who lick the wooden stick of an ice lolly.

4. The previous tenant of MY flat, who insists on getting ‘payday loans’ under MY address with no intention of paying it back. YOU DO NOT LIVE HERE ANY MORE. THEY WILL FIND YOU. AND KILL YOU. Or maybe just insist you pay it back in manageable instalments of £1.21 a month.

I’d like to thank the author, C J Skuse, and the publisher, HQ (UK), for the opportunity to read this via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The pleasure was all mine!

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My Five Star Top Ten of 2017

5star

It’s been a bumper year for fantastic reads, I’ve been to wonderful places, and experienced all the feels with this bunch of lovelies! It wasn’t the easiest of decisions to pick just ten, but here are my unforgettable books of the year, in no particular order:

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I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the authors of these books, all of which I was lucky enough to receive in exchange for review. Perhaps next year I might actually buy a book, but, you know, perks of being a book blogger/reviewer and all that! 😉

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