Today I am totally thrilled to be a part of a very special Blog Tour. Yes, all Blog Tours are special, but this one is über – special. Why? Because it is for Erica James’s 20th book! Congratulations, Erica, and please keep them coming!
Special thanks to the lovely Elaine who allowed me to be a part of this Tour – I could read and enjoy not one, but TWO, Erica James’s books! If this is not bonanza, then I don’t know what is…
It’s the Little Things
by Erica James
Publishing Date: 20th August 2009
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 448
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)
A gripping novel about how friendships survive the best and worst of times from the bestselling author of SUMMER AT THE LAKE.
Dan and Sally Oliver and their friend Chloe Hennessey are lucky to be alive. Three years on, after surviving one of the world’s biggest natural disasters – the Boxing Day tsunami – their lives have changed dramatically.
Dan and Sally are now parents. Dan is enjoying being a stay-at-home father taking care of their young son, and Sally is the breadwinner and loves her job as a partner in a Manchester law firm. The arrangement has so far worked well, but when Dan starts to question whether Sally has got her priorities right, the cracks in their marriage begin to appear.
Dan and Sally have everything Chloe wishes for in life – a happy marriage and a beautiful child. Dumped by her long-term boyfriend just weeks after the tsunami, she’s been on a mission ever since to find the perfect father for the child she craves. When she meets Seth Hawthorne, she thinks she may have hit the jackpot. But is Seth the man she thinks he is?
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS is a moving, compelling story of how a life can change in a heartbeat.
Let’s start with saying that, to be honest, judging on the synopsis, I thought that the Tsunami is going to be like one of the main characters in the book, that everything is going to evolve around it, and while yes, the characters’ survived it and of course it made a great impact on them, it was only in the background. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I actually think that maybe it’s better, as to be honest I was a little scared that it’s going to be a tearful read about it. Author’s explanatory at the end has explained why she wanted to write a book mentioning Tsunami, but I still think that it could be any traumatic event that could have changed the characters/could influence their lives. Nevertheless, I think that we can also consider it a tsunami created by the characters themselves, as their lives are going to dramatically change.
Now on to the characters. I think they were one of Erica James’ best. You could like or dislike them but you couldn’t stay indifferent. Sally was from the beginning my no – go person, and even the author’s explanations of her awful childhood and growing up there was nothing that could change my mind about her. It – on the other hand – only reassured my thinking that women who don’t feel sure if they want to be mothers or not, shouldn’t decide for pregnancy and a baby. I don’t know if the author’s intention was to show that those are not only men who can have (or rather, CAN’T HAVE) an affair, as it is rather unusual for a female character to be the „bad one” in the story. And this one was really written in a way that made you dislike her from the very beginning. I was wondering why her husband is tolerating the way she is towards him and their son, as in my eyes he deserved so much better. Sure, you can be a bread – winner at home but it doesn’t entitle you to patronize everybody and forget about your priorities. But to be honest, taking all this dislike away, I think that Sally was one of the strongest and most expressive characters in this book, a woman that didn’t leave you indifferent.
The most colourful person in the story was doubtlessly Seth and his subplot truly take me by surprise – I haven’t expected that twist, and I really enjoyed to see how the relationship between him and Chloe is going to develop. Or if it’s going to develop at all! It was unusual, and as the religion plays a big role in it, and as the religious concepts of these two are very different from each other, it was really interesting and felt very fresh among all the other boy – meets – girl romances that I read, and I was really curious how it’s going to work and if Chloe will be able to trust Seth after the break – up with Paul.
I liked the way the author explored the friendship between Chloe and Sally. It undergoes a great change, which is in fact, not a wonder, as these two are thrown in the situations that are really trying and testing. The storyline feels very realistic, the same as the events and dialogues – they all felt not at all too pushed and the plot flowed effortlessly. The story is rather fast – paced and as each chapter is told from different point of view it feels as if there is a lot happening. But even though there IS much happening, the subplots intertwine and smoothly flow and everything is neatly wrapped up. It was a bit slow at the beginning, and I had some troubles to get into it, what with the number of characters, but in the end I found myself racing through the pages and enjoying this novel. There is a lot of depth to this story, it is really well developed and I really enjoyed it.
„It’s The Little Things” was a warm, down – to – earth read that I really enjoyed. And the title of the book has truly captivated me – isn’t it true that these are the little things that matter? That built our lives? There is much more to this book for it to be regarded as only women’s fiction (no offence here please!) as I think that it touches upon really difficult and important issues, and while it also belongs to women’s literature this book is more ambitious in my opinion. Recommended!
Song of the Skylark
by Erica James
Publishing Date: 10th March 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 4oo
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)
Lizzie has always had an unfortunate knack of attracting bad luck, but this time she’s hit the jackpot. Losing her heart to her boss leads to her losing her job, and with no money in the bank, Lizzie finds herself forced to move back home with her parents. When she reluctantly takes a voluntary job, she meets Mrs Dallimore, a seemingly ordinary elderly woman with an astonishing past . . .
Now in her nineties, Mrs Dallimore is also reluctantly coming to terms with her situation. Old age is finally catching up with her. As she and Lizzie form the bond of unexpected friendship, Mrs Dallimore tells the story of a young girl who left America before the outbreak of World War Two and, in crossing an ocean, found herself embarking on a new life she couldn’t have imagined.
As Lizzie listens to Mrs Dallimore, she begins to realise that she’s not the only person to attract bad luck, and that sometimes life has a way of surprising you . . .
„Song of the Skylark” is only the third book by Erica James that I’ve read but I am already looking for any new release by this author. Her books are an immeasurable pleasure and I like how her stories follow a narrow circle of characters that are mostly very believable and relatable. And I adore Ms James’s writing style – it’s full of feelings and emotions and it always seems that she truly believes in her plot and her characters, which makes the reading even more intense.
Lizzie is one of the most accident – prone heroines that I came across in the books. Really. If anything were to go wrong, you can be sure that it happened to Lizzie. She’s just lost her job because she fell in love with her boss, they got caught and – surprise, surprise – she got fired while he was allowed to stay. With no job, she must move back to her parents and to top it all, her mother encourages her to start volunteering in a retirement home. Because she has nothing better to do Lizzie decides to take this job and she meets Mrs Dallimore there – an older resident of the house with incredible story of her own…
I liked Lizzie immediately. Really. She might have made things that were not the wisest ones but she learnt from those lessons. She made mistakes and even though she meant good things turned out the wrong way. Sure, there were moments that I wanted to shake her and get her naivety out of her head, and sometimes I understood why Ingrid, her sister – in – law, had such opinion about Lizzie, even though Ingrid was much too opinionated and I think she was my most disliked character in the story. Lizzie was very close to her twin brother Luke and I loved the bond they had, it felt so natural and genuine. However, even with all those problems, Lizzie didn’t stop and wallowed in self – pity, and this what I liked most in her, that she started to develop and mature and see things how they are and not like she wanted them to be.
Erica James has wonderfully combined past with present and made the two, in principle very different stories, to run smoothly together. Clarissa’s story was beautiful and heartbreaking to be honest. I think that Clarissa’s story was much more interesting and colourful, as her life was truly full not only with sadness, but also with many adventures. She was a woman for herself, Clarissa, full of courage and with heart made of gold. Her story was incredible and it kept me so hooked, and my heart went to this woman that must have experienced so much in her life and yet she never lost hope or thought badly about her bad luck. And so with her story we are transported back to the times of World War II and we travel from Boston to Suffolk on a deck of a ship and then we follow Clarissa on her journey to her never met grandparents, through helping Jewish children, finding and losing love and many of her beloved people. Those times were so brilliantly captured, with their atmosphere, clothes and the way people were then, and also all the settings just come to life. And the author made it really effortless for us to switch between the times, between the past and present.
This is a relatively slow story, and it takes some time for it to gain a speed, but I enjoyed this slow pace, as we have a lot of time to learn about all the characters and their backgrounds.I liked how this special friendship and bond between Clarissa and Lizzie, this very unexpected bond, grew and strengthened, and how they helped each other – consciously or unconsciously- in those difficult time.
„Song of the Skylark” is one of the most beautifully written books about a very unusual friendship and about all possible relationships. There is a lot of sadness in this book, as the main characters are often put to so many difficult situations, but this feeling of sadness is not overwhelming at all, as there is also a lot of hope and the characters never give up. It’s full of all kind of emotions that the author beautifully put into words. It’s about new beginnings and about putting past behind, about always looking ahead and I really like this message. The author made me feel a part of the story, I felt comfortable in the company of the characters and I couldn’t wait to read the next part of Clarissa’s story – it was hooking! And it is really an art in my opinion to write a character like Clarissa, an older and wiser person, who doesn’t seem too patronizing or too meh, which is often a case and troubles me so often. This book shows us how important friendship and hope is and that some things, like love, happiness and being able to depend on your family, never change. A great read.
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