The Time of My Life
by Cecelia Ahern
Genre: Irish Chick Lit
Why I Read It: I’m a long-time fan of Ahern’s work.
Cecelia Ahern is one of my favorite authors, and I do believe this is one of her best books yet.
Lucy Silchester is a mess of a woman. Driving an old, beat-up car, living in a studio flat reeking of fish, working as a shoddy translator for an appliance company, still fancying herself in love with her ex-boyfriend who dumped her three years before, feeling cut-off from her friends and like she’s the biggest disappointment to her family, it’s hard to believe Lucy is almost 30 years old and hasn’t been able to put herself together.
Enter Life. With the magical twist Ahern writes into most of her stories, the author has created a character that is literally Lucy’s life. Life (also known as “Cosmo Brown,” when being introduced to Lucy’s friends) is a man whose entire existence is dedicated to her. He spends his days cataloging what happens to her, filing interactions she’s had with her friends and family, and watching from afar as she ruins things for herself. It’s a really strange concept to grasp (and to explain, for that matter), but basically Life enters the story to give Lucy a reality check. Following Lucy around, calling her out on all her bad decisions, lies, and flaws, helping her find her true value as a person, Life helps Lucy get back on track.
I didn’t like Lucy at the beginning of the book. A pathological liar who blatantly makes bad decisions against her better judgement, it was hard to relate to her. As the book continued, however, and Life was introduced, I began to like her a little more. The premise and the plot are really what made me love this book, though.
This book was humorous, romantic at times, and inspiring. I’ve been reading books (very slowly, hence why they haven’t shown up on my blog yet) about quarter life crises, and this was a fictional account of a woman who survived hers. It really got me wanting to kick my life into action: go out and get some business cards, sign up for networking events, write to that manager at work who runs a department slightly out of my league.
Listening the the audiobook was a special treat. I love Irish audiobooks because I like to mimic the accents. I love audiobooks in general because I like to act out the dialogue in my car while I’m driving to and from work. This book had me working through such a range of emotions, I think I’m very qualified to star as the leading lady should this book ever become a movie :)
I’d recommend this for all chick lit lovers and 20-somethings feeling a little lost themselves.
by Cecelia Ahern
Genre: Christmas-Themed Chick Lit
Lou Suffern is your typical workaholic/egomaniac. When not at work (always the first in and the last to leave), he is plugged into his Blackberry or sleeping with his secretary. It’s almost easy to forget that he has a lovely wife and two beautiful children at home, as he is never there. With the Christmas season approaching and a promotion right around the corner, Lou spends even more time at work, overbooking his already overbooked life, while his family becomes more and more distant from him. He justifies it by saying he’s “working hard for his family,” but what if his family just wants him?
Enter Gabe, a mysterious homeless man who seems to have Lou’s back (when he’s not judging him for being a total prick). Keeping Lou informed about inner office politics, stepping up to help in the mail room when the holiday rush overwhelms them, and being perhaps the only friendly face Lou sees over the holiday season, Gabe also offers Lou some mysterious pills that have him seeing double… literally. The pills clone Lou for a couple of hours so that he can accomplish all the things he’s promised everyone he’d do. From work commitments to family events, suddenly Lou’s able to do it all, but who would he rather be with?
This is your typical feel-good Christmas novel, with a Scrooge-esque lesson to be learned. Cecelia Ahern’s books have always been some of my favorites, but this one fell short of the mark. It felt really commercialized, like she was writing it purely to sell books around the Christmas season, and it lacked the charm of her other novels. The book was still sweet, but it just didn’t grab me.
The characters were also really superficial. Lou’s back story wasn’t really explained, Gabe really is just a strange homeless man who seems to appear out of nowhere, and all the other characters are secondary. With Lou being so unlikable and Gabe being so mysterious, it was hard to really feel too passionate about either one of them.
A short read, the book definitely wasn’t a huge investment of time, but I really felt like the story felt like it was trying too hard and wouldn’t recommend it. Cecelia Ahern has much better work out there (my personal favorites being The Book of Tomorrow and There’s No Place Like Here), and I don’t think it really got me in the Christmas spirit very much for being a Christmas book (and yes, I know it’s April, but I’m the kind of person who listens to Christmas music year-round and petitioned my parents for years to celebrate the holiday in July, as well, so I’m always in a Christmas frame of mind).
There’s No Place Like Here
by Cecelia Ahern
What I admire most about Cecelia Ahern’s writing is her creativity. Though her earlier works, P.S. I Love You and Love, Rosie, are less fantastical, Thanks for the Memories, The Book of Tomorrow, and If You Could See Me Now are absolutely amazing stories. Who else could think up a heartbreaking tale about an invisible friend falling in love with a woman who can’t see him? I love Cecelia Ahern for her imaginative mind, and this book proved to be further evidence of how wonderfully whimsical her stories can be.
Ever since Sandy Shortt was a small child, she has been obsessed with finding missing things. She drives her friends and family crazy with her insistence on keeping every thing in its place and her maniacal searches when things mysteriously disappear. What happens to the socks that seem to vanish from the washing machine? Where do teddy bears disappear to when they fall out of the bed in the middle of the night? Sandy Shortt’s mission, spawned from the sudden disappearance of her childhood nemesis, is to find the lost.
As an adult, Sandy starts her own agency to find missing people. Working late nights, traveling all over the country, her obsession turns into her life mission. Though she does her research and follows leads, some people still slip through her fingers, and she is left feeling as though there’re some mysteries that she just can’t solve.
When Sandy begins working on a new case, however, she suddenly finds herself missing, too, and transported to a place where all missing things go: socks, teddy bears, keys, and people. Feeling as though she’s both locked in heaven and hell, with her life’s purpose suddenly fulfilled but unable to return to the home she once knew, Sandy suddenly finds herself in the middle of controversy as she begins to connect with the missing people she’s spent her career searching for. Will she be able to settle into a life among the missing? Or will she be able to pull a Dorothy and wish herself back home?
While I loved this book, my one complaint was that it felt too short. At 352 pages, it certainly wasn’t a wisp of a book, but the world Ahern imagines as a home for all these lost items could use a book to all itself. She touches on the governance, the bartering system, and the different villages set up across the world, but I would have liked to hear even more about it. I actually had a dream shortly after reading this book that I was living in a land for lost items, but for some reason I was preparing for battle against these evil monsters who were coming to steal all the lost socks we had collected. Obviously, I need to stop drinking strawberry milk before bed.
Or Rosie Dunne Or Where Rainbows End
by Cecelia Ahern
Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I found out that my latest audio book was, in fact, the same book I already had on my shelf but with a different title. I was - okay, am - still pretty bummed about not having many more Cecelia Ahern novels left to read, but I must admit that I was a bit giddy to be able to enjoy a book both in the car and in bed (okay, that sounded a bit awkward, but to continue…).
Remember my post about One Day? This book has pretty much the exact same plot, but it takes itself a little less seriously. Rosie and Alex have been best friends since primary school, and as they’ve grown up, their friendship, and love for each other, has only grown stronger. Unfortunately, like in One Day, the two are too afraid to share their feelings, and something always seems to be in the way. Lost chances, accidents, and mistakes make the story a bit sad and remorseful, but Ahern’s humorous voice made the tone of the book still rather uplifting. I felt myself genuinely empathizing with Rosie, crying over her losses and proud of her accomplishments, getting sick from the things that were sometimes thrown in her path. One of my favorite quotations is “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” This book is the embodiment of that quotation; watching Rosie and Alex’s dreams begin to take form as children, witnessing them graduating, filled with so much hope for the future, and being with them through all the set-backs and disappointments thrown their way, it really made me think about what my own future has in store.
The story was written in epistolary form (that’s my new vocabulary word of the day!), told through e-mails, letters, chatroom conversations, IM’s, and cards. This form of writing surprisingly covered quite a bit of time, and switching from one media to another helped keep my interest - had the book just consisted of one email after another, I would have been very, very bored. While reading the book, this form of writing made sense, but as you can imagine, it made the audio book a bit difficult to listen to: hearing the narrator pronounce every ‘ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha’ was more than a bit awkward.
Of course, I did have some complaints: Rosie’s lack of a backbone through the majority of the book got to be very annoying, very fast. The obvious direction in which the storyline was going also made me frustrated; I just wanted to push Alex and Rosie together at times. Altogether, though, this book was cute and light-hearted, like all of Cecelia Ahern’s books, but without the hint of the supernatural that are usually characteristic of her work.
Seriously, like One Day, this book featured a lost letter full of Alex’s feelings towards Rosie, a surprise pregnancy, divorces, the death of a parent, relocation, etc. The similarities were downright scary, but I do have to say that Alex is a lot more likable of a character than Dex, thank goodness. This post is actually more than a bit delayed - I popped this in immediately after finishing One Day - and I think it might have been a little too much, too soon. The book didn’t really “wow” me as much as it probably would have because I felt it was just a repeat of what I’d just finished.
Above: The temporary workstation I created while house-sitting a few weeks ago, featuring my adorable Curly Girl Design laptop cover and my new book: Love, Rosie.
This is just a little post to talk about disappointment. I recently picked up another one of Cecelia Ahern’s audiobooks at the library entitled Rosie Dunne. Having bought the book Love, Rosie a few weeks ago, I thought it was strange that Ahern would have two protagonists with the same first name and figured that one must be a sequel of some sort. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the two are actually the exact same book. Further, the book has a third name, Where Rainbows End. Cecelia Ahern has not written very many novels, and here I was thinking there were two extra books just because I knew she had two extra titles. This has been a very sad discovery.
Thanks for the Memories
by Cecelia Ahern
Cecelia Ahern, whose books I absolutely love and whose most popular story was turned into the crazy emotional movie “P.S. I Love You,” was once again the choice of my most recent audio book. I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but I especially love Ahern’s audio books because the narrators are Irish and have the most fun-to-imitate accents I’ve ever heard.
The two protagonists of this book were Irishwoman Joyce Conway and American Dr. Justin Hitchcock, two completely unrelated characters whose paths are suddenly crossed when Justin donates blood that ends up running through Joyce’s veins. Somehow, Joyce absorbs some of Justin’s skills, personality traits, and memories, and the two find themselves drawn together like magnets. Though one of the two is able to piece the puzzle together, how can they possibly explain it to the other?
With a cast of hilarious supporting characters, including Joyce’s aging and out-of-touch father, Justin’s crazy, decorating-obsessed sister-in-law, Joyce’s quarrelsome best friends, and Justin’s teenage daughter, the story was multi-dimensional and constantly being propelled forward.
A typical chick-lit book, it was as effortlessly charming as the rest of Ahern’s work with the same relatable characters, cringe-worthy but hilarious moments, hint of the mysterious, and quirky wit. It was so engaging, I can honestly say it’s the only audio book I’ve been able to listen to straight-through without getting bored and having to switch to some Nicki Minaj to quell my diminishing interest.
I believe I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that If You Could See Me Now was in the planning stages of becoming a movie. While I couldn’t exactly picture a movie about an invisible friend, I think this book could definitely translate well onto the big screen. I would definitely see it on a girls night out with my friends.
Altogether, it was a cute, quick read which I could see Sophie Kinsella fans really enjoying. A perfect summer read!
If You Could See Me Now
by Cecelia Ahern
After enjoying reading (okay, listening to) Cecelia Ahern’s The Book of Tomorrow a few months ago, I decided to pick up another audio book version of one of her novels: If You Could See Me Now. Lighthearted chick lit with a bit of a twist, this book seemed to match her other work. While I enjoyed the book, and especially the audio version of it (I love the Irish accents), I can’t really think of why. The ending was disappointing, questions were left unanswered, and yet… it was still a cute, pleasant story.
Elizabeth is an interior designer living in a small Irish town, taking care of her family as she’s done her whole life. Her mother, an alcoholic drifter, left her family so often in her childhood, Elizabeth learned to pick up the pieces herself, taking care of her heartbroken father and raising her little sister, Saoirse (I seriously just Googled that; how do you think it would be pronounced? In the audiobook, it’s said as “Sure-sha” – who would have thought?). As with many young girls forced to grow up too early, Elizabeth is a serious sort of woman: quiet, terse, and a strict follower of the rules. Saoirse, meanwhile, has depended on Elizabeth to take care of her throughout her whole life, and as a result, does not appreciate her older sister’s kindness and becomes an alcoholic and drifter just like her mother, leaving her young son, Luke, in Elizabeth’s care. Elizabeth, never really having a childhood of her own, does not allow Luke a fun-loving childhood, either, and forces him to adhere to the same strict rules in her household that she has set for herself. When an imaginary friend called “Ivan” enters Luke’s life, Elizabeth thinks that her strict parenting style just needs to be amped up a bit to get rid of him, but little does she know, Ivan is real, and he’ll soon be making an appearance in her life, too.
This book was lighthearted and fun. It is actually told from two perspectives, Ivan’s and Elizabeth’s, which gave an interesting twist to the story. When Ivan becomes visible to Elizabeth after a few days of only being able to communicate with Luke, he makes it his mission to give her the childhood she never had. Over the course of the book, the two grow more and more fond of each other, and even call it love, but how can they stay together with the constraints of the Invisible Friends lifestyle: never aging, never being seen by anyone else, and never having control of who they are sent to help next?
Altogether, it was an interesting conundrum, and I really had hoped to learn more of the inner mechanics of the Invisible Friends business. How do they get started? How do they get from their home base of “Ekam Eveileb” to our world? What other powers do they possess? Where do they get their powers from? These questions were never answered, which disappointed me, as did the kind of ‘eh’ ending. I still felt content after reading the book, but there were some questions that kept nagging me long after the CDs were done.
Interestingly, this book was actually supposed to be turned into a Disney movie starring Hugh Jackman. It was in “pre-production” for a long while, then Jackman allegedly bailed, and the whole movie page on IMDB has since been deleted, so there is little hope for the movie’s future. It’s still interesting to note. Personally, “Brave” looks so good, I’d be happy if that were the only Irish movie Disney released this decade.
The Book of Tomorrow
This was my first real audio book, and I quite enjoyed it. I’ve never been a fan of audio books. I’m the kind of person who hates to be read to. I could always read much faster than a teacher or narrator could in class, so I saw no use sitting around waiting for someone else to read a story; I simply had to finish it first. I tried out a Georgette Heyer audio book a few months back, and I absolutely hated it. The narrator’s voice sounded very arrogant, and I kept having to resist the urge to whip my steering wheel around every time something surprising happened in the plot. It was very distracting, and I couldn’t get into it.
The Book of Tomorrow, however, was a completely different story. It follows a girl named Tamara as she copes with her father’s suicide and her affluent family’s sudden poverty. She leaves her posh Dublin mansion and ends up living in the countryside with her strange aunt and uncle. A spoiled brat, Tamara suddenly finds herself having to make due without her private jet, multiple vacation homes, swimming pool, and tennis courts. Instead, she oddly takes refuge in the ruins of an old castle adjoining her uncle’s property, burnt down in a horrible fire decades before. She spends her days caring for her sick mother, making a few odd new friends, and reading a secret diary that seems to tell the events that will take place the following day. The diary, or the “book of tomorrow,” helps Tamara make better decisions, one day at a time. The story is basically a coming-of-age tale of a young woman recovering from a devastating shock.
Meanwhile, though, there is mystery: strange feelings, unanswered questions, and suspicious activity all have Tamara on high alert. A few chapters away from the end, a few things clicked for me, but upon reaching the climax, I realized that the whole story was a lot more intricate than I originally suspected. As there is already a hint of magic with the future-telling diary, the mystery becomes even more intriguing.
At first, Tamara seems like a really hard person to relate to. She’s around high school age, which is young for the kind of books I usually read, and she’s led a very priviledged life. As the book continues, though, she becomes more sympathetic of the people around her and aware when she’s acting out because of the teenage hormones surging through her body. She becomes endearing as she begins to process the things happening in her life.
At points, the audio version of this text was a little hard to understand. With one reader and a first-person narration, it was sometimes hard to distinguish what was a diary entry and what was really happening in audio-form. However, I really loved the reader’s Irish accent (even though I found myself trying to repeat what she was saying and had to rewind the CD a few times), and it added a lot to the atmosphere of the book (can books have atmospheres? I think so). Also, whenever the narrator said “The Book of Tomorrow,” “tomorrow” sounded a lot like “Tamara” with her accent, which I thought was really cute.
Anyway, I really enjoyed the book. The audio version of it was nice on my hour-long commute in the mornings and 1.5 hour commute in the evenings, but after coming back from work last night at the height of the most important part of the book, I had to take the last CD inside with me and listen to the last few chapters on my computer.
Altogether, I enjoyed the book very, very much, and I am anxious to check out other books by Ahern.