A Million Dreams by Dani Atkins / Blog Tour + Extract

A Million Dreams by Dani Atkins

 

Publisher: Head of Zeus 46041732._sx318_

Publishing Date: 14th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 07.05.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Beth Brandon always dreamed of owning a florist, but today the bouquets of peonies and bright spring flowers are failing to calm her nerves. Because today, Beth has a life-changing decision to share with her husband.

Izzy Vaughan thought she and her husband would stay together forever, but sometime last year, their love began to fade. They both find such joy in their young son Noah – but is he enough to keep them together?

Eight years ago, something happened to these two women. Something that is about to bring them together in a way no-one thought possible…

Thought-provoking, emotional and uplifting, this is a gripping love story for fans of Jojo Moyes and Amanda Prowse.

Rating: four-stars

 

Beth Brandon has always loved flowers and together with her husband Tim worked hard to make her dream of having her own Florists shop come true. However, no matter how hard they try, the baby they also dream of so much, doesn’t appear, so eventually they decide to try fertility treatments. It doesn’t happen immediately, and they’re devastated, but then something happens that makes Beth’s world collapse. And it’s not only this that’s going to change her world forever because something else happens.
Izzy Vaughan and her husband Peter are incredibly happy when their baby is born after IVF. They love their son Noah more than anything in the world but their marriage starts to show the first cracks and misunderstandings and they separate. But one phone call is going to change everything for them.
Eight years ago, something happened – something that is going to bring Beth, Izzy and their families together, but not in a good way.

To be honest, I felt angry with Beth. I mean, I also sympathised with her, and felt sorry for her, but in my eyes she shouldn’t let the things go so far. I was more Team – Izzy, I couldn’t imagine being in her situation, trembling and fearing, not sure about the future. Don’t get me wrong, I fell for Beth as well, she was altogether full of empathy and she was always there for others, even though life didn’t treat her too well and she had already lost so much. But still, as a mother myself I was completely on Izzy’s side. Nevertheless, they both, as well as the other characters, were really well crafted, given personalities and no matter what your sympathies are, you’re going to feel the pain, desperation and hope of all of them.
The relationships in this book, no matter what kind, were beautifully written. The bonds between wives and husbands, parents and children, friends were captured with a lot of love and feeling. They felt so normal, they were full of ups and downs but there was always this feeling that the characters respect and support each other.

Of course I was incredibly intrigued how the things are going to end. Not so long ago I read a book with very similar topic though tackled in a rather different way, not so poignant and emotional like “A Million Dreams”, and the way things ended there waw a bit disappointing. As much as I think there is not a right way out of such situation, I really wanted to see which way did Dani Atkins choose and whose heart she’s going to break – because no matter what, no matter how, a heart or two are going to break. And… well… I wasn’t so sure about the court thing, and the way Beth was needed to help felt just this little bit too clichéd.

The writing style is very gentle, emotive and simply beautiful and it’s impossible not to find yourself emotionally invested in the book, impossible not to ask yourself questions “what if”. The author touches upon the most hidden feelings, bringing them to the pages of the novel, reaches to the deepest parts of the characters’ hearts. She can also so beautifully capture all sorts of emotions, making shock, horror and devastation a part of the reader as well. And even though the story is about very serious matters, it doesn’t feel too gloom or desperate, no, the writing makes it lighter and there is hope somewhere between the words, and enough humour contained within the pages. The pacing is perfect, everything has its place and even though there is quite a lot happening in the story, it never feels confusing, you always know where you are.

But maybe because of the fact that there isn’t a right way to decide about such situation, and because the author did take some easier ways out, this book, as much as I adored it, didn’t wow me as much as I thought it’s going to, and this is why I rate it with 4 stars instead of 5. Nevertheless, it held me captive and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I also truly recommend it to you all. It was sublime, moving and thought – provoking, a wonderful read that’s going to have you hooked immediately. Truly recommended!

 

EXTRACT:

‘The sooner we begin your treatment, the better the chances for a successful outcome.’

The words that reshaped our future –reshaped everything –were softly spoken. I looked across the desk, beyond the files and X-ray envelopes, at the doctor who was patiently waiting for our world to stop spinning as we absorbed the news.

I was gripping Tim’s hand so tightly I was probably crushing bone against cartilage, but my gaze was fixed on the oncologist, whose eyes revealed far more than I think he knew. Behind the rimless glasses, I saw the glimmer of a truth he was not prepared to share with us on that first black day. The chances of success were small. My ability to read faces, to pick up on tiny nuances others failed to see, had always been an asset in my work. On that day, it felt more like a curse.

‘I see from your file that you and your wife don’t have children, Mr Brandon.’

Tim shook his head, and I felt the tremors racking his body begin to spread to mine. I was shaking in both body and voice as I answered for him.

‘We’ve only been married for two years. We were planning on waiting a little longer before starting a family.’ I looked at the doctor, whose face was beginning to swim behind my tears.

‘I know this is a lot for you to take in, but without wishing to add to the decisions you are now facing, I have to urge you to think about safeguarding and preserving your fertility.’ Perhaps Tim understood instantly what the oncologist was talking about, but I was several pages behind him. ‘There is a strong possibility that your treatment will affect your ability to father a child in the future, so at this point we would recommend you to consider freezing your sperm.’

For one crazy moment I imagined he was talking about doing so at home, where it would sit on the shelf beside the packets of pork chops and Birds Eye peas. It took a few moments for the image to disappear.

‘There are several fertility clinics that we can refer you to. They will be able to explain the various options open to you. These can range from freezing sperm to even freezing embryos, if you should choose.’

‘Embryos?’ Tim asked, his voice ringing with confusion.

‘It’s one option to consider. There are excellent statistics for successful pregnancies resulting from cryogenically stored embryos. For couples your age and in your situation, it is definitely something worth thinking about.’

 

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While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins (Blog Tour / Q&A with the Author)

Hi guys! It’s summer, it’s Sunday and it’s second day of Dani Atkins’s blog tour! I am double thrilled to be hosting this stop today as it is my first since a very, very long time Q&A with the Author! The lovely Dani was so kind and in a flash answered my questions about her newest release, “While I Was Sleeping” – thank you! So put your feet high and enjoy!

 

Q&A WITH DANI ATKINS

Hi Dani, and welcome to the blog. Could you shortly tell us about you.

Until five years ago my life was pretty unremarkable. I live in the Hertfordshire countryside in a 350 year old cottage, which disappointingly is not haunted. My two children have both grown and flown the nest, leaving me to lavish all my love and affection on my crazy border collie Dusty, my cat Elsa, and a little on my husband too. For many years I worked as a secretary in a school, but then in 2013 something amazing happened … my first book was published, and nothing has really been the same since then.

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I haven’t had a chance to read “While I Was Sleeping” yet. It’s already your fifth full time novel – amazing! How would you “sell” it to your potential readers?

While I Was Sleeping is an emotional drama centred around three main characters, two women and one man, whose lives becoming entwined in ways they could never have imagined after a tragic event changes the course of their future. At its heart the book is about love and friendship, themes I hope every reader will be able to relate to.

 

“While I Was Sleeping” is about your whole life changing – where did the inspiration

for such a story come from?

I’ve always been fascinated by the way your entire future can be re-written in a single devastating moment, and it’s a theme that I keep returning to in my books, so it obviously strikes a deep chord with me. Having really enjoyed writing about two strong female protagonists in Our Song, I was keen to once again have two women who find themselves in a devastating life changing situation.

 

Is this novel, in any way, based on your own experiences, or is it purely fiction?

Some aspects of the book were inspired by certain news stories that had fascinated me. Another important story arc was actually inspired by the experiences of a close personal friend of mine. The rest is a product of my very over-active imagination.

 

As your devoted reader, I know that your novels are really tear – jerking (and I love it!). How is it to write such novels? Do you also cry when writing them? How much of you do you invest in your stories, in your characters?

Each time I’ve finished writing a book I’ve promptly burst into tears, but I think that might be more from relief than the actual story. Sometimes a very emotional scene will make me tear up a little when I write it, however it’s when I read it out loud (something I do each day) that the sad bits really get to me. Quite a few times I’ve had to stop because I was too choked to carry on!

During the entire writing process you live with a whole cast of imaginary people – it’s like having lodgers in your head. They are with you all the time, even when you’re not actually writing about them. It would be impossible not to become invested in them and the things that are happening to them. Very early on they become not just characters in a book, but real people who you care about.

 

What would you like your readers to take from “While I Was Sleeping”?

To live with no regrets. Leave nothing to chance. Put nothing off. Fill every minute with joy surrounded by the people you love. Nothing else matters.

 

Which character was the most difficult to write?

To be perfectly honest, I loved them all.  They were a joy to write and I still miss them all dreadfully.

 

When you write, do you always follow a plan or do you let your characters to take you on a journey?

I’m not a planner, although I have author friends who wouldn’t do it any other way. When I sit down to begin a book I always know where it will start and where it will end. It’s the bit in the middle that is a mystery. This can make it quite scary when you first begin, but it also makes the whole process rather exciting.

Once you have created the characters, they have a funny way of taking on a life of their own. Sometimes it feels as though they are in charge of the story and not me. I am just the observer and the narrator.

 

On a little lighter note, what are three facts that we don’t know about you Dani?

I’m a nervous driver and never drive on motorways.

I have double jointed thumbs.

I am obsessed with country music.

 

It’s so hot right now – do you have any plans for holidays?

Over the last few years I have become a total convert to cruising, and am really looking forward to going on my next one later this year.

 

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Our Song by Dani Atkins

Our Song

by Dani Atkins

27555699

 

 Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Publishing Date: 28th January 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 512

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

  Synopsis:

The stunning new emotional drama from ebook phenomenon Dani Atkins, author of Fractured – perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Dorothy Koomson.

This is the story of Ally and Charlotte, whose paths have intersected over the years though they’ve never really been close friends. Charlotte married Ally’s ex and first true love, David. Fate is about to bring them together one last, dramatic time and change their lives forever.

Full of Dani’s signature warmth and emotion, this is a gripping and emotional family drama. With breath-taking plot twists, Dani explores themes of serendipity, friendship and love. She fully engages the reader in the dilemmas faced by her characters. What would you do if your husband was the love of somebody else’s life? And when faced with an agonising decision, could you put the past behind you and do the right thing?

Rating: 3/5

 

Oh man. It is going to be very difficult. I’ve read Dani Atkins’ both previous books and they had incredible impact on me – they were so emotional and if I were looking for author to compare the writing to, I would go for Jessica Thompson. I haven’t reviewed Dani’s debut novel „Fractured”, as it left me speechless and I couldn’t find enough words to prize it, and I also loved „The Story of Us”, so you can imagine how excited I was when, totally unexpectedly, a beautiful proof copy of „Our Song” arrived on my doorstep.

There is no need to say that I started reading this book with great anticipation and expectations – and now I am wondering if I read the same book as other reviewers who are singing it prizes. Sure, it was beautifully written, with a lot of feeling, understanding and compassion, but for me that was all. I had a feeling that I’ve been there, I’ve seen this and the story couldn’t surprise me with anything. It was -screaming and kicking – heading to the end that I could predict already when I started to read it. I am really sorry to say, but this story couldn’t keep my attention and I wasn’t hooked – as I was hoping I’d be.
It was also told in the simplest way ever, present intertwined with past, but both of those stories lacked in originality for me, I really had a feeling that I’ve read thousands such stories. The characters were also not the ones that I warmed immediately to and yes, I had compassion with them, but still I didn’t feel any connection to them. And I disliked Charlotte. I don’t know, there was something in her that was off – putting, and I wouldn’t like to have her as a friend.

Of course there are also aspects that I liked in this book. It is amazing that everything there happens actually during only 24 hours – in this time we get to know the characters and their background, and we keep our fingers crossed for them in the present. Thanks to the flashbacks to the past the author deeply describes the characters and gives us a chance to really get to know them. The jumping between past and present is seamless and flaws effortlessly, and often we are presented with the same situation seen through different perspectives, through different points of view, through the eyes of Ally, Charlotte, David or Joe. Dani Atkins’ writing style is beautiful and she can wonderfully describe the most difficult scenes and feelings.
But for me the book, and especially the passages in the past, dragged on much too long – there was actually only one decision to be made, everything led to this decision and it was obvious it is going to happen, and for me it was just too much – the whole story, with all the flashbacks, characters’ stories, a very long book.

There is so much hype about this book and it was really one of my most anticipated reads this year, and I am really sad that it wasn’t for me. I do realise it is a special novel. It is intense and full of important messages and some very difficult decisions to be made. It is a very moving love story that already tugs at the readers’ heartstrings, a story that can make you think about fate, destiny and how you never know what can happen, but a story that just wasn’t for me. I am sure it’s going to be a very acclaimed book, judging by the wonderful reviews, it is going to be a big hit, and I am happy for this book, really happy, and you can say that I am wrong in my feelings – that’s okay. I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I’d hoped.