Summer Reads

After hardly getting a chance to read at all in June, the past few weeks have seen me get through quite a few books to my ‘to be read’ pile.  And with the holidays almost over up here in Scotland, I thought I would share with you what I’ve been reading this summer.

Fly Away Home – Jennifer Weiner

Sylvie Woodruff is married to senator Richard, and has spent most of her adult life being the perfect senator’s wife.  When Richard makes the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Sylvie takes herself off to her family’s beach house in Connecticut to consider her future.  The book also follows the stories of Sylvie and Richard’s daughters Diana (an ER doctor with her own family problems) and Lizzie (a recovering addict), and looks at their relationship as sisters and their relationship with their mother.  I really enjoyed the way the story was told from the perspective of the different characters, and I thought the characters themselves were believable, particularly Sylvie who doesn’t really remember who she is apart from a politician’s wife.  Chick lit with a twist, would recommend!

The Girl Under The Olive Tree – Leah Fleming

My mum gave me this book and I have to say it didn’t immediately jump off the shelf at me – historical fiction is not something I read very often.  However, once I started reading I could not put it down.  Set mostly in Crete during the Second World War, it tells the story of Penelope, a British woman who, against her family’s wishes, becomes a Red Cross nurse and remains in Greece under the occupation of the Nazis.  She then returns to Crete 60 years later, and has to face her past and some of the secrets she thought she had left behind.  It is clearly a very well researched book, with lots of historical detail, and very descriptive.  It is such a compelling story, and you not only get a feel for the atrocities that went on in Greece during that time, but also the sense of friendship and kindness found among strangers.  The only criticism I had was at the start I felt it was a bit jumpy between the past and the present day, but it didn’t really affect my enjoyment at all.  Definitely a five star read!

House Rules – Jodi Picoult

I know Jodi Picoult is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I really enjoy her books.  They always leave you with a lot to think about and House Rules is no different.  Jacob Hunt is an 18yo boy with Asperger’s Syndrome.  Although he has a higher than average IQ, he struggles to relate to human emotion, and if his daily routine is thrown off kilter he is prone to (sometimes violent) outbursts.  When his social skills tutor goes missing and is then found dead, Jacob finds himself accused of her murder.  The story is told from the perspective of various different characters, including Jacob, his mum Emma, brother Theo and Jacob’s lawyer, and it is interesting to see all these characters developing.  A lot of research clearly went in to not just the character of Jacob as the person with AS, but also how it affects those closest to him.  I have to say though, I was fairly sure I knew “whodunnit” very early on, although this didn’t spoil the story at all as I wanted to make sure I was right! 

The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

I received this as part of a #BringBackPaper book swap run by Jocelyn over the The Reading Residence.  I’d heard all about it and have seen the film trailer but had never bought myself a copy.  For anyone who doesn’t know the storyline, it’s about terminally ill Hazel, whose life changes dramatically when she meets the gorgeous Augustus at a teenage cancer support group.  I know, cheery stuff, right?  I think the subject matter and the hype around it were what put me off actually going out and getting it for myself.  It is a beautifully written book, of that there is no question, although some of the dialogue I found a bit unlikely for two 17yo kids.  Having said that, they are not “normal” teenagers – Hazel has known she is going to die for quite some time, and Augustus lost a leg to cancer, so maybe they would speak in that way.  Did I cry?  Honestly?  Not as much as I thought I would.  There is lots of humour to break up the sadness/melancholy, and there are definitely some touching moments between the two main characters, but I wasn’t the blubbering wreck I thought I would be.  Overall, I thought it was a good book, a 3 and a half out of 5, and I want to see the movie, but for me it didn’t quite live up to its hype. (*runs off and hides from all the John Green fans*)

The Honey Trap – Thea Wolff

This has been sitting on my shelf for ages, and I picked it up because I wanted something light hearted after House Rules and The Fault in Our Stars.  Issy is a single mum making ends meet by working at The Honey Trap – an agency that tests men’s fidelity for suspicious wives and girlfriends.  Her life starts getting complicated when her son finds a severed finger in their back garden, and then she breaks the golden rule of the agency by sleeping with one of the clients.  I couldn’t get into this at all unfortunately – the story was very odd and I wasn’t keen on the writing style.  Give it a miss!!

Would love to know what others have been reading over the summer.  Any recommendations?!

Forgotten passions (no, not that kind!!)

Today, Aberdeen Football Club won their first bit of silverware since 1995. “So what?!” I hear you cry.  Please bear with me, even if you don’t like football!

If I’d started this blog five years ago, one of the first things I would have mentioned in my bio or intro was the fact that I had a season ticket for AFC. An actual season ticket.  As in I went to pretty much every home game, and the odd away game too.  Not quite a die hard fan, but I sat through far too many 0-0 draws in the peeing rain and howling gales in the middle of winter to be called a fair weather fan.  And I went for years.  I got my first season ticket at the age of 11 – to start with my dad took me and my younger brother (under sufferance it has to be said, we definitely didn’t get the bug from him!), then as we got older we went just the two of us.  My brother would regularly get told off for using bad language in the family stand, so we moved where he could swear without anyone batting an eyelid!!  I suppose looking back it’s amazing that he never wanted to ditch his older sister to go with his mates instead, but we carried on going together even once I’d moved out of my parents’ house, although I remember he did once accuse me of only going so I could talk to boys about football…..!! 

So I was at Hampden in 1995 when The Dons won their last trophy.  I was also there the last time we reached a cup final, in 2000 (our goalkeeper was injured a few minutes into the match.  We didn’t have a goalie on the bench.  Didn’t end well).

I gave up my season ticket for a couple of years in my early 20s, largely because my boyfriend at the time didn’t like me going (I know…..), but I always kept up my interest with the club and would go to the odd game here and there.  Then I met my hubby, who despite not being from Aberdeen was a massive fan and had had a season ticket since he moved here for uni.  It was immediate common ground, and probably one of the things that cemented our friendship initially, and then our relationship.  I ended up getting a season ticket again, and our Saturdays often involved a pub lunch, watching the early kick off on TV then heading to Pittodrie.

Yet now, football doesn’t even get a mention in my bio, because all that changed when B was born in 2009.  She was due in the November, so I didn’t renew my season ticket in August.  Hubby did (by this time another friend was sitting with us, so he wasn’t going on his lonesome!).  Of course with a new baby we couldn’t both disappear for two hours every other weekend – a couple of people suggested to me that we should take turn about going to games, but there was no way hubby was going to agree to that!!  So he continued going, in fact he went to a game the day after I got home from hospital with B, having had an emergency section three days previously….(my midwife was appalled!!).  And I stopped going, and because I wasn’t going to games, I gradually lost interest.  I didn’t know any of the players, I wasn’t really interested in hubby’s post match analysis on a Saturday evening.  In fact it became the cause of a bit of resentment, as he disappeared off for a minimum of 3 hours every other Saturday, leaving me at home with a baby then a toddler, then a three year old and a big bump, and most recently a stroppy 4 year old and a newborn.  Even today, knowing how excited he was, part of me was thinking “Oh yes, off you go, leaving at 9am for a game that starts at half 2, leaving me to manage all day AND do bathtime and bedtime on my own AGAIN”!!!

Then I got caught up in a little bit of the excitement, on FB and Twitter, and listening to the local radio.  It seemed like it was all anyone was talking about!!  B had said she wanted to watch the match, but I knew the reality of it would be that she would watch ten minutes then get bored, and I’d have to find something else to entertain her.  So we went off out for the afternoon, and I’d planned to get home so we could see the last ten minutes of the game, and see AFC lifting the cup if they won.  Best laid plans and all that, we didn’t get home until 4.15pm, just at the end of the 90 minutes.  However, it was 0-0 which meant extra time – as suspected, B wasn’t really interested once she discovered she could see daddy on the TV, but she was happy colouring while I fed A and watched.  After another half hour, it was still 0-0, so on to the dreaded penalties.  By now I could feel the nerves and adrenalin I used to get at a match, and even B was caught up in it, standing at the TV shouting “Get it in there min”!!!  First penalty to Caley Thistle – saved by our keepr!!!!  First penalty for the Dons – scored!!  Then Caley Thistle missed their second!!  Our second went in, so did Caley’s third.  If our third goes in we’ve done it, we’ve won the cup…..  Yaaaaassssssss!!  And suddenly I’m leaping around the living room with A, B’s jumping up and down and I have to confess I had a tear in my eye.  Hubby phoned absolutely ecstatic (possibly crying, I couldn’t tell), and B’s shouting down the phone “I know Daddy, I’m watching the football programme”!!!

Ten minutes later, normal life was resumed and I started cooking tea, but with a wee grin on my face.  I’d forgotten the passion I used to have for football – when you support Aberdeen there are more lows than highs, but the highs….  Bloody brilliant!!!

So while I might not be signing up for a season ticket any time soon, the next time I get the chance to go to a match, I might just see if we can line up a babysitter!!