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Review: Where Rainbows End

By Cecelia Ahern. Grade: B+

When I finished If You Could See Me Now, I could not help but go for the next book by Cecelia Ahern. The best thing about her is her uniqueness. Not only each book of hers is unique, they are also vastly different from the mainstream romance. Usually, in cases like these, I am often disappointed. I am glad to notice that in this case, I was not.

Where Rainbows End was a book that deserved all the accolades it received.

The book is about two childhood friends, Rosie and Alex, who grow up in Ireland. It starts out with these two naughty children who grow up into cheeky teens and then young adults on the brink of the biggest decision of their lives: continuing their education after high school.

Just when everything seems perfect, Rosie’s world comes crashing down all around her – what’s more, her best friend, Alex moves away to Boston while Rosie is stuck in Ireland.
Alex and Rosie are childhood friends, and as the book progresses, it is very interesting to see them grow as people. The story is about friendship, love, motherhood, career and fate. Fate, of course, plays the main hand.

The style of writing – in emails, instant message, and greeting cards – is very easy to read and really makes this book stand out, mainly because it provides a completely different perspective from the usual.

Also, the main character was someone we can all relate to, we felt her emotions as if she were our best friend. I loved how the book told most of her life story in the present tense, I almost felt I was living her life with her. It gives the sense of being in the same room with Rosie, as you understood her frustration with her life and sympathized with a simple mistake that changed the course of her entire life. The book touches on a lot of trials and problems that life may have to offer, and a reader identifies with at least a few if not all things that the characters go through.

Sometimes, however it does seem a little predictable. The length of the novel, I feel, could also be shortened. There were times when I thought, “Oh no! Not another twist!” It dragged sometimes in the middle, but thankfully, picked up pace quickly.

It is wonderful, refreshing, charming and funny. The characters engage you, and you start feeling for them just a few chapters down the line.

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Review: If You Could See Me Now

By Cecelia Ahern – Grade A+

There are no words to express how touching this story is.
I’ve read two books by Cecilia Ahern – P.S. I Love You and this. Both of them have touched my heart in a way rarely any book has.
If You Could See Me Now is a book which would make even the cynic of cynics sob like a baby.

Let me give you some background.

If You Could See Me Now is a gentle tale; a love story with a twist.
Elizabeth is a very uptight and no nonsense lady who has been stuck with her sister’s six year old son Luke, who is a really kind hearted and a very cute character.
Elizabeth’s impossible sister, Saoirse, is one of those characters who are inflicted upon her family through no fault of their own. She stumbles through life oblivious to the devastation she leaves in her wake, mainly because it is not Saoirse, but Elizabeth who deals with the consequences, including Luke.
And then there’s Ivan, in whom Ahern has created a very beautiful character. He is child-like, but not childish. He has a delicious sense of fun and an infinite and heart-breaking capacity to love in the purest and most unselfish of ways.
Ivan is a kind of invisible friend who helps children who need him in any way he can. The children who can see him need his help. Luke can see him, so he becomes his invisible friends.
When Elizabeth watches Luke talking to no one, she is confused and thinks that Luke has made an imaginary friend. This is normal, but Elizabeth being able to see Ivan is not. Ivan is confused, but his fascination with her is too big to ignore her. So he follows her around and wreaks havoc everywhere. Read this excerpt for example:

Ivan raised his eyebrows at Elizabeth. “Elizabeth, Elizabeth,” he sang, “Did you just make a funny? I think you did.” He stared directly at her, elbows on the desk. He sighed, blowing the loose strands of her hair as he did so.
Elizabeth froze, moved her eye sockets from left to right suspiciously, and then continued working.
“Oh, see how she treats me?” Ivan said dramatically, holding his hand to his forehead and pretending to faint onto a black leather chaise lounge in the corner of the room. “It’s like I’m not even here,” he declared. He put his feet up and stared at the ceiling. “Forget about being at a principal’s office, this is like being at a shrink’s.” He stared at the cracks in the ceiling.
“You see, doc, it all started when Elizabeth kept ignoring me,” he said loudly into the room. “It just made me feel so unloved, so alone, so very, very alone. It’s like I don’t exist. Like I’m nothing,” he exaggerated. “My life is a mess.” He pretended to cry. “It’s all Elizabeth’s fault.”

Ivan teaches her how to enjoy and become carefree. He helps her in forgiving the people who made her grow up fast. He even helps in improving Elizabeth’s and Luke’s relationship.

The best thing I liked about this book is its hero, I love him! After reading so many romance novels filled with misunderstandings and the hero being a huge cynic and pessimist, this book is a remarkable change. It is not at all like ordinary romance novels.
After reading this book, you’ll never forget it, the story will always stay with you and you’ll find yourself thinking about it when you least expect it, very unlike the novels you read once and after some days even forget the names of the main protagonist.

I was a bit unsure of Ivan initially because there’s something a bit squirmy about a 6ft man playing and acting like a little boy but I soon got over that and he grew on me.

The starting of the book is pretty boring but don’t let it discourage you to leave the book in between because if you do you’ll miss a really good opportunity to read a wonderful book.
The title of this book suits it perfectly! When you first read it, you’ll not understand what it means, but read the book once and you’ll see the effect of it.

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Review: A Place Called Here

By Ceceilia Ahern. Grade B+

How can I describe this place? It’s an in”between place. It’s like a grand hallway that leads you nowhere, it’s like a banquet dinner of left”overs, a sports team made up of the people never picked, a mother without her child, it’s a body without its heart. It’s almost there but not quite. It’s filled to the brim with personal items yet it’s empty because the people who own them aren’t here to love them.
– A Place Called Here/There’s No Place Like Here

Things go missing all the time. Even we feel lost most of the time. We’re all just trying to navigate our way through life the best way we can, but truth is.. though we seldom admit it, we become lost.

In A Place Called Here we see an imaginative world where all missing things go. It felt like nowhere but really was somewhere. It was simply called ‘Here’. We see the protagonist journeying her way through this world to truly find herself, while helping a few unlikely people on the way.

I must confess, I was quite excited at the prospect of starting another Cecelia Ahern. Her real life fairy tale stories have always been a big hit with me. I was wondering what it would unfold and what lies beneath it. A world of wonder and love and imagination.
The plot of the book is amazing, it throws the reader back for an hour. It takes a lot of imagination to think and construct such a world. Once again, hats off to Ceceilia Ahern on that.

Since Sandy Shortt’s childhood schoolmate disappeared twenty years ago, Sandy has been obsessed with missing things. Finding becomes her goal – whether it’s the odd sock that vanished in the washing machine, the car keys she misplaced in her rush to get to work or the graver issue of finding the people who vanish from their lives. Sandy dedicates her life to finding these missing people, offering devastated families a flicker of hope.

Jack Ruttle is one of those desperate people. It’s been a year since his brother Donal vanished into thin air and the sleepless nights and frantic days aren’t getting any easier. Thinking Sandy Shortt could well be the answer to his prayers, he embarks on a quest to find her.

But when Sandy goes missing too, her search ends when she stumbles upon the place – and people – she’s been looking for all of her life. A world away from her loved ones and the home she ran from for so long, Sandy soon resorts to her old habit again, searching. Though this time, she is desperately trying to find her way home…

It is about a person named Sandy Shortt, and two important facts about her are:
1. She is 6 feet one inches tall.
2. Her hair aren’t sandy.

When she was ten years old, her opposite neighbour’s daughter Jenny May Butler went missing and nobody could find her and that tickled her inner soul to tell her unconscious mind that she must find any missing thing from that moment on. It’s not so much because she had affection toward the missing girl – far from that – it’s only because she gets irritated when a thing goes missing.

She grows an obsession with missing things. She cannot simply admit the fact that things can go missing like that. She wants an answer and seeks it with full fervor. She never gives up on them and continues looking after them.
Moreover, she does everything in her power to prevent her things to go missing, she labels them, keeps them tidily, organizes them and God knows what more.

She goes to a psychologist and ends up falling in love with that hot-shot Doctor- Gregory, who understands her a little and tries to help her. But there was a problem: she was only fourteen years old. So they try to continue their friendship for more time. But Sandy then develops a problem during the transition. Her life isn’t that easy to live and Gregory too does not understand her completely.

She drops her job in the police corps and starts her own investigative bureau to find missing persons as an attempt to seek some sort of peace of mind.
Then she comes across a man, Jack Ruttle who has lost his brother Donal, and promises him that she’ll try to find him.
But one day, while she is jogging, the missing person’s person goes missing. She ends up in a place where all the missing things and missing persons end.

There are countless number of socks and things that people lose. There are lost people and moreover, there are laughter, cries, shouts and sounds that people have lost the ability to produce. She finds many people she had studied about her whole life about, whose family she had sat with and cried with and comforted.
It was her dream place. Her answer to her half life.

But there were some facts stopping her- Donal wasn’t there. Neither was Jenny May Butler. And most importantly, she realizes was that she had spent her life finding the missing ones but had never appreciated the persons who were present and loved her.

Suddenly, she missed her parents and Gregory who she had hurt so much.

The book is really slow; three hundred and fifty pages of it contained only of what she saw and felt of the place. After the first century, it grew boring.
There was no story about Gregory and Jack in the end, who had a major chunk in the story too. There was no main hero in the book. It was a major turn off. Absolutely nothing about Gregory or Jack’s feeling was there.

The ending seemed abrupt, incomplete and out of the blue. It was not satisfactory. Moreover, it seemed unfair to me that she was able to get outside while the others who also deserved (like Bobby) couldn’t.

The only – and should I say major – plus point of the book was it’s plot. It was different, refreshing and very very imaginative. Everything else needed work.

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Review: Thanks For The Memories

By Cecelia Ahern. Grade: B+

After a horrible accident, Joyce Conway is trying to put her life back together. Her life and her marriage are in pieces, but Joyce tries to get back to living a normal life, despite advice from others. But something is stopping her.
She keeps having dreams of a beautiful blond haired girl, of places she has never been. She knows things that she shouldn’t about art, about architecture. She sees a beautiful woman in her dreams.
Joyce sees and knows things she should not know. And it all started after her accident. Wanting to get to the bottom of things, to discover the reason for her newfound knowledge, Joyce tracks down her blood donor,

Justin Hitchcock is a lonely man. He hasn’t dated since his marriage broke up. Instead, he contends himself with touring universities, talking about art, about the only thing he has passion for in life. He knows he’s lonely, knows that he needs to heal. What he doesn’t know is that his life is about to change.

When a beautiful woman convinces Justin to give blood for the universities blood drive, Justin has no idea that giving away a few drops of his blood will change his life forever. He has no idea that by giving something from his heart, he may receive the very things he needs to heal it,

Firstly, you have to give Ms Ahern credit for her imagination. Her real life fairy-tale stories are very different from the norm, and do interest you. Sometimes she pulls them off brilliantly, like in If You Could See Me Now, but sometimes, she can’t.

The plot for this has a hint of fantasy, which is not entirely believable, but that is the whole point. The fact that transfusion of blood could result in transmission of memories was an interesting concept to explore. I liked it.

However there were many things I didn’t. The characters in this story were okay, I personally did not find them to be particularly special or unique. I neither loved Joyce nor loathed her – I felt quite indifferent to her. I admit I was annoyed with some of the choices she made and felt she often did things for the wrong reason. Ms. Ahern could have delved deeper into her grief, and not in an entirely depressing way: like she did in her debut novel P.S. I Love You. I would have liked that. Comparatively, here she has just scratched the surface.

Justin, her love interest, was not much better and I just found I could not warm to him at all. I felt she did not go into enough detail (the characters were sketchy at best) and it all felt very one dimensional to me.

Yes, there are touching moments and particularly the dad is a great character but overall I was reading it just to finish because I don’t like not finishing a book. The plot didn’t really go anywhere and a lot just seemed contrived. The constant near-misses started becoming irritating after a while. It was too artificial, too made-up, like in Where Rainbows End. After a while, you just want them to meet and discuss the whole thing aloud.

It would have been nicer if the book had of had more time of the two main characters together. It felt almost unfinished. There were lots of circles in the plot, but this is quite like Ahern’s style of writing and it has been apparent in her other books. Even the humor was a little duller, as compared to her other books.

All in all, the book delivers far less than expected – characters show much promise with fun-loving, vegetarian Joyce and a geeky-cute architecture lecturer of a love interest. Interestingly, the supporting cast, Joyce’s father, proves much more entertaining to read instead.

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Review: P.S. I Love You

By Cecelia Ahern. Grade: A

Cecelia Ahern never disappoints me. What she writes can not be easily categorized into any existing genre. She writes fairy-tale romance, so different from the mainline books. She thinks out of the box and comes up with one winner after the other.

And while P.S. I Love You may not have the polished and smooth style of her later If You Could See Me Now, it does strike a chord with a lot of readers. I stayed up till four in the morning to finish this book and it completely and totally broke my heart.

Holly and Gerry were the perfect couple. Not sickening perfect, but perfect for one another. Their plan had been very simple: to stay together for the rest of their lives. And so when Gerry dies of a brain tumor, Holly feels utterly lost and depressed, staying in her apartment and deteriorating. Finally she emerges from her cocoon, but still isn’t ready to reembrace life. Despite the efforts of her family and friends, she can’t move on.

Then she receives a package from beyond the grave: the List. Gerry wrote it before his death, leaving her instructions to do things like buy a bedside lamp, sing karaoke, and ends every note with “PS, I love you.” Holly obeys the List — sometimes happily, sometimes reluctantly — and her new experiences help her to remember the past, while looking to the future.

I find it very difficult to believe Ms. Ahern wrote this book at the age of 21. Her understanding of people and how they cope with a tragedy such as young widowhood is astounding. All of the characters in this book are incredibly believable and genuine. Holly is easy to relate to even if you haven’t been in her situation and has such an unique voice. The only detail that might reveal the tender age of the author is in the simplicity of her prose, but in a book like this, it reads as well. The message is more important than the words used to convey it.

The best part was the way Cecilia Ahern has created the character of Gerry. Although he is dead in the whole book but his character is so sweet and adorable that I just fell in love with him. He is like the dead Caesar of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Dead throughout but the story is still all about him.
That a man can love his girl so much is a slap at the face of the critics who love chanting, “You know, right, that statistically, half the marriages end up in divorces?”

“Don’t be afraid to fall in love again. Open your heart and follow where it leads you…and remember, shoot for the moon…

PS, I will always love you…”

This novel is fun, tender and sad; but mostly it is very very human. You can’t help yourself feeling identified with all character’s way of living, but mostly with the first character’s long-grieving and recovering process, after she lost her reason for living. I think if Holly Kennedy can endure and start over, after her husband’s death, we all can find satisfaction and success in our lives, if we want to.

However, I was a little disappointed with the letters which Gerry writes for Holly, I was expecting more but they were still touchy. Perhaps after reading too much Nicholas Sparks, I was anticipating something like Message in A Bottle. But the last letter still broke me into pieces.

PS. I Love you… Gerry.

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