A Place to Read

Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro Book Review

I recently listened to Klara and The Sun on Audible and this is my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and I purchased the audio book myself. I will however use affiliate links in my post which may earn me a little money if you click through and purchase something, but they will not cost you any extra. Thank you for supporting my blog.

By: Kazuo Ishiguro
Narrated by: Sura Siu
Length: 10 hrs and 16 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 02-03-21
Language: English
Publisher: Faber & Faber

Klara and The Sun on Audible

The Blurb

The sun always has ways to reach us.

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change for ever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

In Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly changing modern world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love?  

My Review of Klara and The Sun

After reading some other discussion of this book I can see it has very mixed results. So my review is going to be my personal thoughts. I rarely read much into books before reading them, I tend to take a look at the Blurb that comes with the book and judge on the genre and whether I think I will be interested. If it’s an audio book I will then listen to an extract because there is nothing worse than listening to someone who grates on you.

I did think the narrator was good as Klara, but her grasp of the way English people speak was almost humorous. I guess we all talk like the queen then.

Ok, on to the story. I will admit, I do like a bit of science fiction occasionally and I have a particular fascination with robots and Artificial Intelligence. I was reading Isaac Asimov as a young teenager. The story of Klara fascinated me and I was excited to start this book.

Klara is the first person narrator of the book so we see the entire story through her eyes, which are not always clearly focused. Klara is an AF or Artificial Friend, developed in the future to be a companion to children. We spend a lot of the first part of the story following Klara’s life in the shop, the time she spends in the window, and her other AF friends and interaction with the shop manager. Once, while in the window, she is approached by a young girl who promises to come back for her. So, even though the manager has told her not to wait, that is what she does.

Eventually, Klara is taken home to be a friend to Josie who is seemingly unwell. Klara is a special kind of A.I. though, and takes it on herself to make Josie well again. She puts all of her trust into the power of The Sun and makes a pact with it to make Josie recover.

As the whole story is told from the perspective of the AF it does seem a little fragmented at times. You have to fill in a lot of gaps yourself, Klara is also representative of a young girl so she is also not fully developed and has misunderstandings of many issues.

I did think that maybe it would be better suited as a Young Adult book as it focuses on young people and their actions and feelings. But, it also shows the darker side of adults and the kind of world that the future may become. So, although it may be a simply told story, the underlying parts give you plenty of food for thought.

I don’t mind that you have to fill in a lot of gaps yourself, it gives a good impression of the gaps that would be experienced by the narrator, or indeed a child. You do get enough little clues to build up a bigger picture of this not too distant type of world.

You can also purchase Klara and the Sun on Amazon

My Last read The Foundling by Stacey Halls.

Uncategorized

Studying with the Centre of Excellence

It was a few months back now when I saw an ad on Facebook for the Centre of Excellence for a course I was interested in. It was on special offer and I thought why not give it a try and I signed up.

After signing up, I also decided to become an affiliate for the program, so my links here will be affiliate links and could earn me a little money if you use them, at no extra cost to yourself. So thank you for supporting my blog.

What Can You Study with The Centre of Excellence?

There is so much to choose from but the main categories are:

  • Corporate Welfare
  • Child Education
  • Herbalist Courses
  • Language Courses
  • Aromatherapy Courses
  • Reflexology Courses
  • Massage Courses
  • Autism & Special Needs Courses
  • Reiki Courses
  • Life Coaching Courses
  • CBT courses
  • Mindfulness Courses
  • Psychic and Supernatural
  • Beauty and Therapy
  • Holistic Therapy
  • Counselling Courses
  • Psychology Courses
  • Diet and Nutrition Courses
  • NLP Courses
  • Hypnotherapy Courses
  • Animal Care Courses
  • Hobby and Craft
  • Writing Courses
  • Fitness and Well-being
  • Business, Marketing and PR
  • History Courses
  • Earth Sciences
  • Children’s Courses
  • Free Courses

Currently there are two free courses you can sign up for, these do change occasionally. It’s a great way of finding out if the style of learning is for you.

So, why not try Improve Your Memory Diploma Course for free. Or even do a Home Education Course to help your children, especially seeing as these days a lot of parents have decided to go down the home education route after the pandemic.

What I Like about The Centre of Excellence

I paid just £29 for my course on Reiki Crystal Healing and now I have access to all the course materials for as long as I wish. There is no rush to complete the course in a set time, you work at your own pace. I like to keep up with a couple of sessions a week though, just so I don’t fall behind or forget what I have learned.

At the end of each module there is an assessment which you complete online. It is then marked and sent back to you. At the end of the course you get a certificate if you have passed it.

There are many good reviews about the Centre of Excellence on Trustpilot and they have won lots of awards. The certificates you earn are CPD or Continuing Professional Development and are widely recognised. If you are doing a course to enhance your career though, it is worth checking that they accept CPD credits as qualifications.

Support

There is plenty of support available from both The Centre of Excellence and the Facebook support groups. There are so many people doing courses and helping each other, or just being there for a boost or congratulations.

You can contact the support team by e-mail or telephone if you have any questions with your course or about the courses in general.

The Centre of Excellence is upfront with all the costs involved in taking the course you choose, including if you have to pay extra for the certificate. The costs vary on what course you want to take and what level.

The course costs vary but it’s worth looking out for special offers. Sometimes you can get an expensive course at a much cheaper price. Or you can even buy a bundle of courses and make a big saving. And remember, once you are signed up you can take your time in completing the courses.

For a little extra you can buy the paper or audio versions of the courses, but mostly you can do the courses online.

Have you thought about delving into a little more further education. I have a list of courses that I would like to do, but one step at a time.

Here are a few of the courses available:

A Place to Reflect

Something Positive for Mental Health Awareness Week

This week, 10th-16th May 2021 is Mental Health Awareness week. But, to be honest, our mental health is something that we should all be looking after all year long. The theme chosen for this week is Nature because connecting with nature is so good for our mental health and there are lots of ways we can do this.

Going for a Walk

As someone who doesn’t get out a lot, I’ve noticed that when I do I take much more notice of the things around me. I used to rush to the shops, get what I needed and rush back, but even on those trips there is something that can make you stop and enjoy. Once, I saw a little robin in a bush and I just felt compelled to stop and look, he was so cute, for a moment I felt my spirit lifted. I connected with nature.

Of course a walk in a place full of nature is much more rewarding than a trip to the shops, and even in my wheelchair there have been places I could visit and just enjoy the scenery. From when I was very young, I’ve always enjoyed the bluebell woods.

For more than five years I’ve been stuck at home for most of the time, but there is nothing I like more than listening to the bird song at my back door when I get up in the morning. Or even just looking at the trees and wondering about the life they contain. I’m not very green fingered, but this year I am actually managing to keep some plants alive. I’m hoping for a garden in bloom for summer.

Mindfulness

One of my main tools for keeping my mental health in check is Mindfulness. I try to spend a little time each day just focusing on nothing in particular. I can be meditating or listening to Schumann Resonance just to ground myself.

But if keeping your mind really blank is a problem their are many other mindful activities. Colouring, breathing techniques, yoga, visualisation or even crafts.

I use my LSW Mind Cards to help me. They now have a New Mums edition as well as a Kids Edition. Their journals and notebooks are also lovely. I am an affiliate for Mind Cards so I may earn a little money if you click through and purchase something, even though it won’t cost you any extra, so thank you.

I’ve had my Mind Cards for over a year now and still use them every day.

Positive Mind Training

I recently tried a Positive Mind Training Course which I found really useful. It helped me to choose how I react to things differently and more positively. I even found some of the things I learned where helpful to my daughter who is currently doing her GCSEs. It’s a really good tool for mental health awareness.

The first part of the course is free, but still worth listening to. The Positive Mind Training course is Part of a bigger initiative called Change a Billion Minds a ‘not for profit’ company that has a big aim of improving the lives of many people and help change the world for the better.

positive mind training for mental health week

Learn Something New

Learning new things can be great for our mental health and I have recently completed a course at The Centre of Excellence. Again, I am an affiliate so if you click through and purchase a course then I may earn some money at no extra cost to you.

The Centre of Excellence offers so many different courses from Child Education, to Beauty Therapy, Life Coaching to Writing Courses, History to Business Marketing. You can even learn how to set up your own online course.

If you need a little extra help with your mental health you could always choose a course on Mindfulness or Reiki.

Some of the courses are expensive, but sign up for the newsletter and you will get some fabulous bargains. I got my course for just £29, and there are free courses on offer too.

What do you do to improve your mental health? If you ever need to talk you can always find me on Twitter or Facebook and message me for a chat.

Take care and stay happy and healthy x

A Place to Read

The Foundling by Stacey Halls, a book review

Today I have another book review for you. I’ve just finished The Foundling by Stacey Halls on Audible. I really enjoyed The Familiars so I was excited to read another of Stacey Halls historical novels.

The Foundling cover on audible
By: Stacey Halls
Narrated by: Laura AikmanHattie Morahan
Length: 9 hrs and 19 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 06-02-20
Language: English
Publisher: Manilla Press

The Blurb

Two women, bound by a child, and a secret that will change everything . . .

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst, that Clara has died in care, Bess is astonished to be told she has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.

Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

From the bestselling author of The Familiars comes this captivating story of mothers and daughters, class and power, and love against the greatest of odds . . .

My Review of the Foundling.

I sped through this book because it was so intriguing. From the very beginning I was taken with poor Bess who had to give up her child. Then when she went back to pick her up, she’d gone!

It wasn’t too difficult to work where the baby had gone and how Bess found her And even though Bess had changed her name it was obvious who she was, but it wasn’t meant to be a big secret anyway.

Split into sections we have the Story from Bess’s side and then from Alexandra’s. Two very different women, with very different lifestyles, but one major connection.

I love Stacey Hall’s story telling, you really get to know the characters and all about their lives. She knows how to take you back to that time in history and understand why they did what they did.

There is a little intrigue, a few questions that need answering, some tense moments and a lot of emotional involvement. All in all, I found it a really good story. I’ll definitely be looking out for Stacey Hall’s next book.

I listened to The Foundling on Audible but you can also purchase it from my bookshop or Amazon. All links are affiliate links so if you do purchase through them I may earn a little money at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog.

Great news, Audible have officially launched their new Discounted Membership offer as of the 6th May 2021.

 Offer: 50% off membership for 4 months
Description: Just £3.99/month for the first 4 months, then £7.99/month
Click Here for Offer

A Place to Read

My Husband’s Girlfriend by Sheryl Browne, a book review

My latest audio book was from one of my favourite authors, Sheryl Browne. I think My Husband’s Girlfriend has to be one of her best so far.

My Husband's Girlfriend book cover on Audible
By: Sheryl Browne
Narrated by: Katie Villa
Length: 9 hrs and 20 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 07-04-21
Language: English
Publisher: Hachette UK – Bookouture

The Blurb

Tucking her little boy Ollie into bed one night, Sarah notices his beloved teddy bear, which she bought him when he was born, is missing and in its place is a new toy given to him by her ex-husband’s new girlfriend, Laura. When she asks Ollie about it, he begins to shift uncomfortably before whispering, “Laura told me a big secret, and she said I can never tell you.” Sarah’s heart sinks.

But when she raises her concerns, nobody wants to listen. To everyone else, Laura is the perfect stepmother, and Sarah is just the jealous ex-wife. But Sarah knew the moment she met Laura she couldn’t trust her, from her overly perfect stepmother act to the way she evaded questions about her own history. 

Soon, Ollie is asking to spend more time with his dad and Laura, and shrinking away from Sarah. Then, when she calls to him in the garden one day, Ollie doesn’t answer back. The garden is silent. Ollie’s sandpit is empty. Ollie has disappeared. 

My Review of My Husband’s Girlfriend

After reading some of the other reviews about this book I found the biggest criticism was that there were too many characters, too much going on and too much repetition from each point of view. These were the points I actually enjoyed. I guess listening to the story on Audible does make a difference.

I think Katie Villa narrates the story perfectly, capturing the essence of each character and bringing them to life. As someone from the West Midlands (Like Sheryl Browne) I get the accents and feel like I’m in a story from someone I know.

Saying that, there was a lot going on. So many twists and turns, and so many characters that all had their own little things going on. The stories were all tied up together in the end which was both exciting and satisfactory.

Being a fan of Sheryl, I do relate to her story telling. She likes her readers to get to know her characters, she adds a little tension, but nothing to horrific or gory. She starts slowly and works up into a frenzy. Then, as I have already said, the story is all brought together at the end.

I’ve never had to deal with a husband’s girlfriend (mine ran off to another Country and they didn’t go and stay until they were teens…nice free holidays for the kids in the South of France though!) But, I can understand the apprehension, the suspicion and how things can all be blown out of proportion from the Mother’s point of view. I can also understand the frustration of others around who can so easily blame the Mother’s behaviour on jealousy. You should always trust a Mother’s instinct though.

I got through this book quickly and really enjoyed it. I will look forward to Sheryl’s next book.

I listened to the book on audible, you can also buy it on Amazon where it is only £1.99 (currently) on Kindle and £8.72 in paperback.

I hope you enjoyed my review you can read more here. Have you read this book or any other of Sheryl Browne’s thrillers. I’d love to hear your thoughts.