Book Review: The Break by Marian Keyes

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There is something so thrilling about a new Marian Keye’s book coming out. You just know it’s going to be like curling up on the couch, chatting with a wonderful and dear friend. You know you will fall in love with all the characters.

The break is out September 7, 2017. I was extremely fortunate to get an advanced copy to read and review.

I adored this book so much! I truly was drawn straight into the story and could see all the beloved characters so clearly, I truly felt as if I was there. This is the genius of Marian’s writing.

So, the story centres around Amy, a mother of two and her wonderful extended family. Amy and Hugh have been married a while. They love each other and their life together but it’s fair to say maybe a bit of a spark has gone from their relationship. After some truly sad events Hugh decides he needs a break from their marriage for six months, to travel around South-East Asia. He still loves Amy and everyone but feels it’s his only choice. No amount of pleading helps and Hugh leaves. I truly wanted to hug Amy and could feel every bit of her heartbreak, as if it were my own. I could also sympathise with how hard it was for Hugh to leave and stick with his decision. He truly believed it was his only choice for his mental health. I was hurt and upset along with Amy. I also felt angry towards Hugh but I couldn’t hate him.

So, we stay with Amy as she tackles being essentially a single parent again and all she must deal with on her own. I love Amy’s family as well especially Lillian, her mom. There is such a wonderful warmth to everything that Marian writes. Her characters are not perfect and have their flaws, just like all of us. That makes them even more endearing.

This story is wonderfully heartfelt, real and filled with humour. It’s about what life throws at you and staying in love as a married couple. I loved every minute of this book and couldn’t put it down.

I write this not as a huge fan of Marian(which I have been for years) but as a lover and ferocious reader of books. Marian fans you will not be disappointed. This book is everything and more. For other readers this is just a wonderful book to read which you will make you laugh, cry and so much more. I felt bereft as I finished the book. I didn’t want to leave Amy, Hugh and the family.

Its a must read. Make sure to get your copy when it’s out later this year. You will not be sorry. This book is one really great reason to look forward to September 🙂

 

Making it up as I go along- A review

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So making it up as I go along is a collection of best-selling author Marian Keyes’ published and previously unpublished articles, essays, travel diaries and stories perfectly put together in an amazingly funny and wonderful book. Let me start with the cover. Its bright yellow, eye catching and fabulous. This is a sign of what awaits inside.

Marian starts with a lexicon of words fondly known as Keyesisms the description of the words and their use is downright hilarious. There is also a cast of characters from Marian’s life. So you know from the start you are onto a good one here.

So in this delight of a book there are a range of topics, including breaking up with your hairdresser, a laugh out loud funny account of her dalliance with lash extensions and self-tan. On the subject of hairdressers Marian gives advice on how to deal with hostile hairdressers and hold your own. There is talk of travels and experiences. One of the funniest things was when Marian unfortunately loses her sunglasses and has to buy a new pair. The world starts to look peculiar through the new glasses and then it turns out the lenses are tinged yellow. They are henceforth known as jaundiced sunglasses. I laughed till I cried.

There is a wonderful section called Marians Antarctica diary about a trip to Antartica. Through Marian’s eyes you are taken right there onto the ship, living vicariously.

 “The sea is so full of chunks of ice, it’s like driving through a white Slush Puppie.”

This is just one example of the genius of Marian’s writing.

I literally smiled the whole way through reading this book. My train journeys were much brightened. I was trying desperately to pace myself to make it last but couldn’t help it. So I read it on my journey to and from work and at night. Needless to say it didn’t take long for me to finish. Every time I opened this book to read another brilliant story, it felt like I was settling down with a friend, sharing giggles and laughs and more.

There is so much that stayed with from this book but I’ll just mention a couple of quotes:

“I’ve grasped that happiness is not a single & correct feeling and that all other feelings must be wrestled into submission. Happiness is simply one of countless emotions I will feel in my lifetime”

There is so much truth to this. During our lives we will feel so much more than just happiness. I know deep down that this is very true and I’m hoping one day I can fully grasp and accept this.

“But I don’t want to live in a state of yearning. I don’t want to move through my days not touching the sides. I don’t want my life to be deferred until everything is perfect, because that will be never. Instead I want to want what I have. Whatever that is.”

Those words truly resonated with me and I am certain it will for countless others. We always are on the search for what’s going to make us happy. I am still trying very hard to enjoy what I have right now and not what I’m hoping to have. There is definitely no quick fix to the human condition.  Marian also briefly discusses the acceptance that having children was not in the cards for her and her husband. This touches my heart deeply as I am in the same position. I knew from quite a young age that I wouldn’t be able to have children, due to a condition I was born with at birth. I have long moved to an acceptance of this and I’m hoping something else is meant for me in life, as I feel like I have a lot of love to give.

I could go on so much more about this book but I will let you discover the joy of it for yourselves.

It is a must read, warm, hilarious, witty with food for thought thrown in. There are so many feels in this book and I loved every single second of it.

 

 

A little thank you to London

5 Years ago today I said an extremely tough goodbye to my family at the airport and boarded a plane to London. I had nothing but my suitcase, £1000 to my name which I had saved; and a desire to better my life and make my dreams come true. Thanks to the generosity of my cousin and his wife, who kindly let me stay with them for a couple months while I got on my feet in a new country, I had a lucky start.

There have been extremely tough moments when I’m missing my family and friends so much and the impulse to pack everything up and return home to South Africa overwhelms me. Many nights I have cried myself to sleep due to loneliness engulfing me and frustration at myself at not being further in life than I want to be at my age.

There is a huge amount that I am thankful to London for. One of the biggest things it has given me is self-sufficiency. I am able to do things for myself and make my own decisions and this has given me a great sense of independence. I now have the courage to go out there and make my dreams come true and to take opportunities when they come. I’ve always been more introverted than outgoing but since I’ve moved to London I have found I have gained a bit more confidence. I am able to have a conversation with someone I haven’t met. I normally wouldn’t have had the confidence to even think of doing that. I am also so thankful for the wonderful friends I have made since being in London. You know who you are and I love you all so much.

Also since moving to London I have become slightly better at cooking, as I no longer have Mom’s home cooked meals. I find I can now actually make edible meals hurrah! I even bake cupcakes which don’t come out too badly. So I’m very pleased that I am not a complete disaster in the kitchen now.

Since moving I’ve had two huge dreams come true. I took myself to New York and Las Vegas to see Celine Dion’s show. I had always dreamed of seeing the sights of New York for real, not just from films and TV. I had also always wished to see Celine’s show in Las Vegas. Celine having been my favourite singer, since I was little. So off I went all on my own (I still can’t believe I was brave enough to do that) I wondered around New York taking in the sights, saw my lovely friend Lindsay who I met online and still thought it was so surreal that I was actually there. Then I flew to Vegas and stayed in the very Pink Flamingo hotel. I took a day tour out to the Grand Canyon which was incredible.

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I was on a plane and coach with one British couple and a Japanese tour group. Then it was the night of Celine’s show. I donned my sparkly green dress. Took myself off to Spago for dinner and then it was time. I was third row from the front. A video about Celine started playing and then the curtains opened and there Celine was. I could see her so clearly.

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I held back the tears as the enormity of that I somehow had made this happen for myself washed over me. I never thought I would ever get it right and here I was in Vegas and New York. Then I went to Celine’s show again on another night(I wasn’t going to go all the way to Vegas just to see it once!) and I ran into my lovely friends Cheryl and Curtis, which was a lovely surprise. Suddenly I didn’t feel so alone in Vegas.

The second dream I had come true was meeting my favourite author Marian Keyes. This was something I never thought would happen and I am beyond grateful it did. Marian not only gives so much joy through her writing and twitter but truly has one of the most giving and kindest hearts. Marian gives her time generously to all the people coming to see her. Her humility, kindness and honesty are truly inspiring. These memories I cherish forever. I think over that memory of taking a trip to beautiful Althorp house to meet Marian for the first time, with great fondness. Marian instantly makes you feel at ease and you can completely just be yourself. Marian has certainly brightened up many a sad or bad day for me.

 

Another surreal experience was attending a taping of Celine’s performance for X Factor UK. I again donned my sparkly dress and excitedly took my seat. In my defense they had said dress in something sparkly! The green dress was the sparkliest thing I owned haha! The stage manager came on before it all properly started and was chatting to the audience. Then he noticed my green dress and got me to come down on stage and do an Irish dance. I duly went and did an Irish dance. He had thought I was wearing the dress for Louis the judge who is from Dublin. It was great fun and the Tash before London, would never have done that in a million years!

The other thing I feel quite proud of is completing my first ever marathon in Paris last year. A few years ago the thought of even entering a marathon, wouldn’t have crossed my mind; never mind actually completing one. Now I’m training for my second marathon in Edinburgh and my 3rd in Berlin. We will see how that goes! I might be just a bit too ambitious there but I will be running for the lovely Starlight Children’s foundation UK, who I work for. So it will be for a worthy cause.

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Some of my other highlights are my trips to Ireland, still one of my most favorite countries. My trips to Belgium, Prague for the Christmas markets which was beautiful and France.

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I also can’t get enough of the wonderful west end shows over here. I’ve seen some incredible ones since I moved to London. Some of the ones that stand out for me are Matilda, Wicked, the curious incident of the dog in the night, Billy Elliott and of course Les Miserables.

So London a huge thank you! I owe you so much and am grateful as you have been good to me. I am sure there will be more ups and downs to come but I will find the strength to make it through. Here is to more incredible trips, experiences and dreams coming true.

One last special thank you to my best friend Kelly. You are my sister forever and always and I’m so grateful for you. I wouldn’t have made it through this long without you here in London. I love you millions my friend.

Happy 5 years London 🙂

Hello… sorry its been a while

Hello,

I know it has been a while since I last blogged. It has been quite crazy these past few weeks with work, family visits and a 5k charity event that I took part in. I also went to the theatre for the first time in a long time. I do really love trips to the theatre. My cousin, who is visiting from lovely Sunny South Africa, and myself at the last minute went and watched the curious incident of the dog in the night. It is a play based on the book which a lot of people recommended. It has been on my list to read and to see the show for a long time.

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The show was incredible. It is quite a sad and intense story but it also has a lot humour in it. The effects were absolutely brilliant! I highly recommend going to see it on the London West end or if there is a tour of the show near to where you are. I still need to read the book. My list of books I want to read is quite long though so I will get to it. I am sure it will be a great read! A book I am currently reading which I’ve just started, that I cannot put down is called in bitter chill by Sarah Ward. It is a mystery surrounding a kidnapping and murder. In my next blog post though I am going to do some more reviews of films I’ve seen recently and books I’ve read. I also have started trying a few new recommended beauty products which I will speak about as well.

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In other very exciting news, it is official that I will be working at the Cheltenham literature festival. It is one of the biggest and recognised festivals in the UK. It is going to be so amazing to be behind the scenes and see how it all runs. I am looking so forward to meeting loads of interesting people there. I will be blogging about the experience.

In other smaller scale news, I am starting to worry that I will not be ready for the Royal Parks half marathon which I will be running next month. I just don’t feel I will be ready. I so badly wanted to try and improve my previous time in preparation for the London and Dublin Marathons next year. Anyway I will keep at it. I will do the best I can. I will be running for Starlight Children foundation UK. They are an amazing children’s charity who grant wishes for seriously and terminally ill children. They also do hospital work where they fund parties and distraction boxes to try help the kids take their minds off their treatments etc. They also plan these escape days where the wish children and their families, as well as children from local hospitals are invited to a wonderful day out. It just helps them get away from all the hospital visits and daily struggles that they face.

Thank you so much if you take the time to read my blog posts. I am truly grateful. New blog posts very soon.

Let me know what you’ve been up to recently or if there is a book or event you really enjoyed

My day with Marian…

So I’ve mentioned in previous post about myself how much I love Marian Keyes, the international best-selling author. Recently I was so fortunate to meet her for the first time after all these years. I thought I would tell you all about it as it was one of the most wonderful experiences.

Marian’s books have been part of my life for years. I absolutely adore her and her incredible books. They have gotten me through many a tough time. They have been such a wonderful escape for me. Her books have made me laugh, cry and just so happy. There is such a special gentleness, warmth and of course her wonderful humour that Marian brings to her characters and stories. It is about real woman facing intensely hard circumstances but yet she tells them in such a fantastic way.

Marian has a new book out called the woman who stole my life, which is a brilliant read! If you haven’t read it already, I really recommend it! You will not be disappointed!

So back to the story now! I found out about a literary festival happening at Althorp house, which is Princess Diana’s ancestral home, and that Marian would be doing an event there. It is about an hour train from London and then a cab ride. I immediately was so excited and thought this is my opportunity. It didn’t matter to me about the tube and train Journey. I knew it would be worth it to make the trip. I was lucky enough to get a ticket and then it was real that this would finally be my chance.

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So on the 11th of  June  at 6.30 am I went on an adventure! I got to Northampton station. I jumped into a cab and was on my way, excitement bubbling in my tummy the whole way. The driver gave me some lovely history about the estate and Diana, as we drove along and I enjoyed the scenery. We pulled up to the gates and I exclaimed breathlessly, I was there to see Marian. The lady asked if I worked with Marian. Grudgingly I admitted I do not work with Marian but am here for her event. I wish I worked with Marian haha. The driver took me to the other entrance and then I was there. It is such a beautiful place! I walked around and then made my way to the state dining room for the event.

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After a few minutes Marian entered with the lovely Suzi, who would be interviewing her. It was amazing and the whole audience laughed throughout the interview.  Marian then did a reading from her new book which was so funny! It was one of the funniest parts in the book as well and to hear Marian reading it, made it even more amazing! Then it was time for the audience to ask questions and Marian answered each question with wit, charm, honesty and of course humour!  I did have a good question in mind to ask but wasn’t brave enough unfortunately. Maybe next time.

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Then it was the book signing and I was overwhelmed with excitement and the reality that I would be meeting someone who I have so much respect and love for. I tried to squash the nerves and then I was next in line. I got to give her a hug and to have a little quick chat. I also got my book signed. I didn’t want to take up to much of her time, as I knew other people were waiting their turn. I went outside and had to sit down as the emotion came over me, that after all these years I had met one of my heroes, there isn’t any other word for it. I had to phone my mom back home in South Africa right away to tell her about the whole experience and how special it had been.

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Not only is Marian, one of the most talented and gifted writers but is inspiring as well, in her honesty about life’s ups and downs.

I found it truly remarkable how much Marian has been through in life but yet still manages to make us all laugh. Marian gives me comfort in the fact that you are allowed to have your sad and lonely days. You will have those days where everything makes you sad and you feel depressed and that’s ok. Not every horrible experience can be a lesson and turned into something positive. Sometimes you just can’t be bubbly and happy.

Marian is one of the loveliest, engaging and approachable people I’ve been lucky enough to meet. I don’t have enough adjectives to explain how special Marian is.  I have even more love for her after meeting her in person if that’s even possible. Marian also has twitter and is hilarious. Her tweets really make me smile and laugh so hard! I know people might say oh you just have adoration for her but that’s not the case. I feel a genuine friendship love for this incredible lady and will always be supportive of her.Colleagues at work often eye me suspiciously when I’m chuckling away at my phone. They are like what’s Marian gone and said now. No one makes me laugh like Marian except maybe my parents and my one friend Kate who has such a brilliant sense of humour.

I really could go on and on but will stop now. It was truly one of the most memorable days and I will cherish it forever.

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The ABC of me

The ABC of me

As a way if getting to know me a bit more, I’ve done an ABC of myself. Would love to see your ABC as well, so let me know!

A is for African. I was born and raised in South Africa. It is the most beautiful country and it will always have a huge part of my heart.

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B is for Books Since a very young age I have loved escaping into books. I think because I don’t have a brother or sister and also as I haven’t met the right man just yet, I can live vicariously in a way. In the books I can be a beloved sister. I can be loved so deeply by a lovely man. I can be anyone else but me. I can be the beautiful girl in the story.

C is for Celine Dion. Anyone who knows me will know how much I love her voice and music. She has been my favourite singer since I was little. I also love how family orientated she is and how devoted she is.

KATIE - 4/25/13 - Celine Dion invited Katie Couric into her recording studio for an exclusive conversation about her family, her husband?s cancer diagnosis, and her brand new music, airing on KATIE, distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Ronda Churchill/Disney-ABC via Getty Images)  CELINE DION

D is for Determination. This is a huge part of who I am. I have a lot I wish to do and achieve in life and I go for it as best I can.

E is for Endeavor as no matter how many knocks I have to face, I just keep trying and somehow keep going.

F  is for family and friends who I love with all my heart. Their support, encouragement, love and advice have got me through some of the toughest moments. My life would be meaningless without them.

G is for Guilt My old friend guilt follows me around always waiting to pounce. I feel guilty about anything and everything. Also my guilty pleasures are Pretty little liars, reality shows like Real housewives of Beverley hills, Made in Chelsea

H is for Height which mine is  1.40m tall. I am a short arse 😉

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I is for Improvement. I always try to improve myself. I am striving to be more honest with how I am feeling and not be afraid to actually express what I really want or am feeling. I am also trying to be more assertive without losing my natural patience and helpfulness.

J is for jewellery of which I have a few pieces which have a lot of sentimental value to me given to me by my Mom, Gran, family and friends.

K is for Keepsakes I love keeping photos of special memories and also I love mementos from my travels. At theatre shows I always end up buying a souvenir from it.

L is for London which I am very fond of as it has given me so much. I moved there 4 years ago on my own, to try and make a better life for myself and to achieve some of my goals. It has made me self sufficient and I’ve had some amazing experiences since I’ve been here. I couldn’t be more grateful.

M is for Marian Keyes who is my favourite author and has been for years. Her books are incredible and she is a wonderfully talented writer. I always am so excited for her new books. I have had the good fortune recently of meeting her for the first time and she is truly one of the loveliest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

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N is for Numbers which is a big part of my daily working life as I work in accounts.

O is for Optimism and hope for the future have had a huge hand in helping me through the past few years as well as the love of my family. I have my low days but I do my best to try not lose complete faith that I will get to where I want to be. That someday i will become a mom as I have a lot of love to give.  I’m hopeful I might one day become a published writer and people will respond to what I have to say.

P is for pet peeves which are when people don’t use common courtesy. With my height I also am constantly being bumped by backpacks and people shoving past and knocking me. I know im short but im still here! I just wish people would be more aware.

Q is for quote- “When life gives you lemons the last thing I want to do is make lemonade. Sometimes a horrible experience is just that, a horrible experience. – Marian Keyes in a Sunday times column. This is so true!!

R is for Running- this is something I started about two years ago and have found it very therapeutic. I did my first ever marathon in Paris in April 2015 and am planning my next ones in Dublin, London and New York if possible.

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S is for Shoes I love shoes! I cant get enough of them. Hoping one day when im old enough I can afford my first ever designer pair 😉

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T is for Turners syndrome which I was diagnosed with at birth. It definitely has had a part to play in shaping who I am today but it has never completely defined me. It hasn’t always been easy but I have come to terms with it. I cant have children so will have to look at adoption as a way to become a mom. Ive accepted this though and see it as i will be able to love a child as my own who needs it and hasn’t had it before 🙂

U is for Underwear which I don’t pay major attention to as I just tend to buy mismatching average underwear which does the job. I keep thinking whats the point as I have no one to dress for. Maybe it would be nice to have a sophisticated and pretty set to make me feel good.

V is for Vacation So far my travels have taken me to Ireland, Prague, New York, Las Vegas, Paris and Belgium. I still have quite a list of places I would love to see such as Italy, Greece, Spain, Norway, Switzerland and a few cities in America.

W is for Wish I have quite a few things that I wish for. Happiness and health for my family and friends. I truly wish there could be more tolerance and kindness in this world. I wish that when someone is tolerant and kind that it wasn’t taken as a weakness to be taken advantage of . I wish people didn’t take loved ones and genuine people who offer patience and kindness for granted.

X is for (Ex friends) I have had friends over the years and some of them have stayed and continue to hopefully and others have just cut contact without any reason I could understand. Each time though its chipped a little piece of me away. As time marches on you learn to let go.

Y is for Yes I am definitely the yes girl. No matter how inconvenient it may be for me I always try to help and never say no.

Z is for Zodiac sign of which mine is Gemini. I am torn in two a lot of times which is the emotional side of me and the practical side.

Hello

Hi there 🙂

I am a 31 year old South African girl trying to make her way in the world, having moved to London, UK.

I was diagnosed with Turners Syndrome when I was a baby and will be discussing that as well.

I’ve decided to give writing a blog a try and am hoping I will have some interesting things to say.

I will be talking about various things such as my travels, book reviews, films, beauty products, experiences in London and a lot more. I will also be putting my thoughts forward on all sorts of different topics

I truly hope I get some readers who I can get to know and interact with as we go along.

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