Thursday, 8 August 2013

Book Review – ‘Sunlounger’ by Belinda Jones Travel Club




Book Review – ‘Sunlounger’ by Belinda Jones Travel Club ~ 5 Stars!


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When my parents went off on a two week holiday to Italy without me, major jealousy issues ensued. However after having read ‘Sunlounger’, when I received their postcard from ‘Sorrento, Italy’, I could only laugh and think, ‘Oh, I’ve been there, and Ibiza, Turkey, Australia, Greece, Spain, Cairo, Argentina, Paris, Mexico, Marrikesh, Mauritius, Jamaica, Thailand, Brazil, Cambodia, Iceland, Russia, Dubai and Mallorca. So there!’

This was a wonderful collection of stories to read, and I absolutely loved each one. There were those that were downright hilarious, so hilarious that I literally cackled like a lunatic whilst reading them. There were those that were shockingly sad and emotional, those that made me cry, those that gave me a warm glow and those that made me think ‘Wow!’.

But most of all, every single story made me think ‘I would love to go there.’

I loved how all the writers approached the holiday prompt and had their story give a different message. For example, some of the stories were romantic comedies, but all spoke to the reader in a different way.

All the stories brilliantly depicted the cultural barriers that travellers face when in a different country for the first time. One that really resonated with me in this way was Carrie Duffy’s ‘At First Sight’ (Holiday Destination – Dubai) where an interior designer who is married to her work, is ushered into a shop of robes and experiences a glimpse of the life of a Dubai women, where she is covered head to toe with only her eyes on display. It was a brilliant story that showed just how different life is in different cultures. A man in Dubai may fall in love with a woman after only glimpsing her eyes, whereas in other cultures, there tends to be a focus on entire body image.

Kate Guest’s ‘Hanoi Jane’ (Holiday Destination – Vietnam) was great fun as we see character Jane defy the health laws of the country and skip out onto her very own adventure with loveable American Toby. It was both hilarious and dealt with serious issues. I loved it!

Two stories that particularly express the dangers of travelling to other countries were Kate Harrison’s ‘Holiday Reading’ (Holiday Destination – Barcelona, Spain), where we see the dangers of women being prey to muggers, and Wendy Rigg’s ‘From Elvissa With Love’ (Holiday Destination – Ibiza) which describes the dangers of young girls travelling alone, being captured and forced into illegal activities in order to gain their freedom. Sadly these are real issues that face travellers today, and I liked how these stories subtly expressed these warnings without forcing the information on you.

Rosie Blake’s story ‘Ice, Ice Baby’ (Holiday Destination – Iceland) had me in fits of laughter throughout, starting with realistic glimpses of the everyday life of a couple, with them greeting each other in the morning with grunts, yet how despite their petty arguments, are still in love and can be incredibly romantic when the occassion calls for it.

Valerie-Anne Baglietto’s heartbreaking story ‘Genie of the Rock’ (Holiday Destination – Gibraltar) tells the tale of a young recently widowed woman having a miracle happen, and the story really touched me. There was an added element of fantasy that wasn’t too overpowering and gave a wonderful balance to the story, which made it both realistic and magical. Despite this being the second story of the forty-four in the book, this story stayed with me right till the end.

The award for ‘Story that had me most intrigued’ and ‘wishing for a whole novel devoted to the story,’ was Margaret James’ ‘The Anniversary’ (Holiday Destination – Tuscany, Italy). I loved the mystery infused within the story and how the reader is left guessing and pondering over what exactly happened. Who was the man and why was the woman his ‘project’? Why and how did the events happen the same day every year? And what was the woman’s accident she mentioned? It was a brilliant mysterious and heart-wrenching story that I adored!

I am a sucker for friends turned lovers stories, and loved Pernille Hughes’ ‘Fia McQueen’s Great Escape’ (Holiday Destination – Mauritius) where we see a young girl Fia grieving after being jilted by her fiancé, and is brought back to life by her closest friend Simon. It was a funny, touching and heart-warming story.

And not all of the stories had a happily-ever-after. I really connected to some of the deep emotional stories where I could feel the writer’s pain as I read, as though they had literally poured their soul into their characters. ‘Love at First Kiss’ by Lisa Heidki (Holiday Destination – Venice, Italy & Sydney, Australia) was a moving story about a woman pining after a man who she kissed whilst holidaying in Venice. Seeing her unable to move on and live in the present was sad, and although there was no romantic reunion at the end of the story, I rejoiced to see the heroine realise that she needed to find a better place for herself. A stunning piece of writing.

Holly Martins ‘One Hundred Proposals’ (Holiday Destination – Australia) was a fantastic addition to the book, which makes the reader really think about what they themselves want. What is the Perfect Proposal? And what makes it perfect? A brilliant story!

And what better way to send off the readers than with Tiffany Wright’s work of art ‘Signs from Sydney’ (Holiday Destination – Sydney, Australia).  This was a brilliant story about the journey of self-discovery and had the greatest twist at the end that had me swooning and squealing in equal measure.

‘Sunlounger’ has taken me on my very own holiday this year and has made me laugh, cry, ponder life, and rethink romantic displays of affection (I’m so climbing a tree to get a lime for a guy’s beer one day. Just to see the look on his face! As seen in Emily O’Neill’s ‘La Posada Amor’ (Holiday Destination – Mexico)) I wish I could talk about every story in detail because I loved them all so much, like Nicola Moriarty’s ‘The Red Glove’ (Holiday Destination – Australia) and Miranda Dickinson’s ‘Midnight in St. Petersburg’ (Holiday Destination – St Petersburg, Russia) but I’ll just give a mention to every other author who contributed, as I loved every single one of these stories!

5 Stars, and a definite recommended read!

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