By My Side – Alice Peterson

One of the great things about reviewing books is that when you finish one you can’t mindlessly dive into the next one- you have to take a bit of time to process what you’ve just read. The standout for me here is that this is amazingly well researched. We’ve covered a couple of Alice Petersons here already, and this one seems the most ambitious.

Cass is a medical student, happily fulfilling her lifelong career dream and falling in love with her boyfriend Sean. Her world comes crashing down when she is hit by a car and suffers a spinal injury that leaves her paralysed from the waist down. Once Sean has scarpered and Cass has moved in with her parents to adjust to her new life, she discovers a whole new world of rehabilitation, getting around, dogs, friendships, action-packed holidays, and possibly love.

Kooks for your Kindle?– Where to start? So many great characters here. The star was Ticket, Cass’s trained helper dog who performs impressive feats to make Cass’s life easier and keep her out of danger. Cass’s Mum is a well layered character who surprises even herself by pushing Cass to get out into the world instead of coddling her. Guy and Dom are similarly afflicted friends from Cass’s time in hospital, they form a strong bond as they head back into the world with varying levels of success. Cass meets Charlie on a ski trip, he’s able-bodied and she ends up moving into his spare room when she returns to London. Their relationship is unpredictable and as complicated as you might imagine.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Cass has above-normal levels of resilience in her journey to adapt to her new life, and startles everyone around her with brave decisions, some of which turn out well, others not so much. The only area she struggles with is her old life as a medical student, and instead moves towards charity work.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– This book is an amazing insight into the nightmare that is spinal injury, from the accident to rehabilitation, all the way through to adaptation, acceptance and finally enjoying life again. Details of little things that you wouldn’t normally consider make the story very real.

Evaluation of your eBook?– For such a serious subject the book was very readable, almost light in tone. Despite Cass’s setbacks she still has the normal problems for someone of her age in the areas of dating, career, friendships, family and where to live. I like a book that makes little time jumps to the next interesting period in someone’s life, but I would have been interested in seeing a little more of the time immediately following her injury because that is mainly covered in flashback snippets. At least we get right to the business of learning to lead a new life, and it’s quite engrossing. It’s funny, heartwarming, tragic and memorable. And you’ll never take your legs for granted again!

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for £5.03.

US: Not on Amazon, but can be found on Kobobooks for $9.39.

Letters From My Sister – Alice Peterson

Katie thinks she is living her life to the full, running her own clothing store, arranging fashion shows, and cohabiting in London with her career-driven boyfriend, Sam. But in the space of a fortnight her outlook changes completely, due to her unusual sister Isabel (Bells) visiting while their parents go mysteriously off the grid. Bells normally lives in a residential community in Wales, and despite her regular letters to Katie, hasn’t seen her or heard from her for a long time. Katie doesn’t understand why she’s kept her own family distant, avoided her lovable sister for so long, and why she hasn’t mentioned her to Sam or any of her London friends. In seeing things from Bells’s (uninhibitedly outspoken) perspective for a while, getting reacquainted with her, and keeping her safe, Katie comes to see what’s missing from her life and her relationship. But is it too late to fix things?

Kooks for your Kindle?– The author has created some vivid characters, the most interesting being Bells. Bells knows she’s different from most people, but has found peace in her supportive community. Her difficulties come in situations with the general public where her odd social behaviour are not always met with understanding, although they occasionally turn in to a good ice-breaker to meet new open-minded people. Despite this and some minor problems, she lives a full life with her friends, her love of football and movies, and her vast talent for cooking.

It’s clear from the start that Sam is very much concerned with image and appearances; and is thus not well suited to artistic Katie. He’s not totally insensitive though, and tries to understand her in his own way. Katie’s friends and colleagues are much more considerate of Bells.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– That’s not the case here, Katie is strong and confident in most aspects of her life, although it’s not easy to empathise with her in the beginning. At first glance it might appear that Katie has been selfish, keeping her family at arm’s length for the last ten years, but via a series of little flashbacks, we are shown glimpses of all stages of her childhood. I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say it’s easier to understand when we see things from her point of view.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– The book is set in London and although I’m not a lover of cities myself, it did sound appealing; picnics in the park, nightlife, public transport, good pubs and coffee shops. However the most vivid picture painted is that of Bells and Katie’s sisterhood.

Evaluation of your eBook?– My initial frustration with Katie for not telling anyone in London about her sister faded and I then thoroughly enjoyed the journey. Bells was an unexpected and effective second-lead character, her innocent perspective opened things up completely. It’s gripping and well paced, speeding up in correlation with the increasing chaos as Katie’s life unravels. The romance side of the story began as par for the course but with some unexpected spanners thrown in the works. Seeing Katie change and try to rebuild her disarrayed family was gratifying, and as I’ve come to expect from the author, it’s a warm, touching, fun read, with an understanding take on a sensitive subject.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Note– This version released Nov 1012 but previously published as Look The World In The Eye

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon did have it on special for 99p, but currently it seems to be £4.19, but click the price to get the latest. WHSmith for £5.64.

US: Kobobooks for $7.99. It’s not currently on Amazon.

Ten Years On – Alice Peterson

It couldn’t get any worse for Becca, her husband has been killed in an accident and she subsequently discovers she’s pregnant. In a reluctant backwards move, she moves in with her parents for the duration of her pregnancy. Back in her hometown, she discovers a former college friend of both her and her late husband, leading her to face the events of their past before she can contemplate her future. Despite this, the book is not at all morbid, only poignant, positive and a good medium sized read.

It’s nicely structured for the main part, interspersed with flashbacks revealing the mystery of the conflict of the two leads. Although the book plays out to the expected conclusion, there are some unpredictable hurdles.

Nookie for your Nook?– Not steamy at all, but plenty of love.

Kooks for your Kindle?– Many supporting characters, well depicted and a wide selection, although some seemed overly similar to those in her previous book Monday to Friday Man.

The Bella-Swan-Pitifully-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Becca is reasonably self-sufficient, despite her dire circumstances.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– The insight into the world of wine is unexpectedly interesting, but other than that, the characters are the heartwarming setting. There is one minor supernatural element, which might sound out of place, but it fits.

Evaluation of your eBook?– Well written, not totally frothy but easily read. The time jump near the end doesn’t quite seem to work, it’s a little jarring, but doesn’t detract from the overall verdict. Good satistfying character development.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails

UK: Kindle book currently £2.99 on Amazon UK, also on ebook for £5.64 at WHSmith, or paperback at Waterstones for £4.89.

US: Not currently available as a Kindle read through, but can be found at Ebooks for $9.99, Kobobooks US and Kobo Canada for $7.99.