Sunday, November 30, 2014

Book Spotlight for Little Boxes by Celia J Anderson (Review)

As a disabled person I'm drawn to books featuring characters that represent me and I'm happy to introduce you to this sweet book about discoveries and moving on.  Keep reading to get a taste of Little Boxes by Celia J Anderson, along with my impressions of it, then add it to your bookshelf....

Suddenly bereaved, Molly White realises that she has never really known her feisty husband Jake when random boxes begin to appear through the post, each one containing a tantalising clue to the secrets of Jake and Molly’s past. Someone who knows them both well, for reasons of their own, has planned a trail of discovery. The clues seem to be designed to change Molly’s life completely, leading her around Britain and then onwards to rural France and deepest Bavaria.
Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is Tom, a charismatic artist who runs a gallery in the same town. Strong, independent and wheelchair-bound from the age of fifteen, he leads a solitary life and has no idea how devastatingly attractive he is to women. When Tom meets curvy, beautiful and funny Molly, he knows that she is his dream woman, but she seems way out of his orbit until the boxes start to weave their spell and the two of them are thrown right out of their comfort zones.


Tom sat on the beach in the spring sunshine, eating cockles out of a tub and

gazing rather grimly at the incoming tide. If it came much closer he’d have to
abandon his painting for the day – it took a good twenty minutes to pack up and get
back to his car on the promenade.
As he licked his fingers and screwed up the seafood carton, there was a scrunch
of pebbles and a whoosh of air as a small boy thundered past, whooping at the top
of his voice. He was followed at speed by the most desirable woman that Tom could
ever remember seeing in this small seaside town. It was his Lady in Red; the one
who had been cropping up in his dreams far too often since he’d first seen her on the
beach. Her hair was an explosion of dark curls, and she wore tight orange jeans with
a wildly clashing crimson sweater that came almost to her knees. Tom took a deep
breath to say hello but he was too late.
‘Max... MAX... don’t go near the sea. I mean it!’ she bellowed, skidding straight
into Tom as she chased the boy across the pebbles. ‘Sorry, sorry… have I hurt you?
Is your painting wrecked? Oh – wow; it’s good, isn’t it? You can tell it’s meant to be
the pier. I’m really, really sorry…’
Tom picked himself up and put his painting chair the right way up again. ‘Hey, it’s
okay – you can fall over me any time,’ he said, grinning into her startlingly green
She blinked and looked away, her lovely face matching the colour of her
sweater. Shielding her eyes with a hand, she scanned the beach for the boy.
‘Where’s he gone, the little toad? Ah, there he is, he’s making something out of a
heap of stones – at least he’s not paddling fully dressed like last time. Oh hell, you
don’t even know me and I’ve already wrecked your work. I’m Molly. I think I’ve seen
you here before, haven’t I? Let me fix your painting.’
She bent down to see if she could repair the damage and Tom held out a hand
to stop her trying to brush bits of stone off his picture. ‘No, honestly, it’s fine, I’ll sort it
out. I’m Tom, and I’ve seen you, too. You’re easy to remember.’
‘Am I? Why?’
‘Lots of reasons – you often seem to be in a hurry, you always wear something
red, you’ve got lots of kids, you’re gorgeous…’ Tom stopped in confusion.
‘Gorgeous? Me? Do you need your eyes testing or something?’ Molly blushed
again and looked at him properly for the first time. ‘I’m sorry, that was really rude,’
she said. ‘My mum’s always telling me I don’t know how to take a compliment.’
‘Don’t worry, maybe you just need a bit more practice.’ Tom bent to carry on
sorting his painting kit out. He couldn’t help noticing how her eyes rested on his
forearms as he finished tidying up and, clearly aware of his scrutiny, she reddened
even more.
‘You’re very strong, aren’t you?’ she blurted out.
Tom laughed. ‘I guess I have to be, don’t I? If you’ve seen me before, you’ll
know why.’
‘I don’t want you to think I’ve been staring at you, Tom. It’s just that you’re…
um… different to most of the men round here.’
‘Tell me about it.’ Tom slung his bag over one shoulder and heaved himself out
of his folding chair.
‘Can I help you at all?’ Molly asked, standing on tiptoes to get a better view of
the shoreline. ‘Oh look, here are the other two Musketeers. They can carry
something for you, if you like.’
‘I don’t need any help, thanks.’ Tom bit back the familiar feeling of irritation and
smiled up at a pair of girls, dressed entirely in black, who had stopped next to him.
The taller one had multiple piercings. Both girls were scowling.
‘Mum, what are you like?’ said the pierced one. ‘We saw you knock the paints all
over the place. You’re so clumsy. Have you seen what Max is doing now?’
Molly looked again. The small boy had been jumping off his pile of stones and
had landed awkwardly the last time. He began to wail. ‘Max! I told you last time not
to do that. Hang on, I’m coming,’ Molly shouted.
The girls sighed and rolled their eyes at Tom as they watched their mum slither
off over the stones to the sandy stretch by the sea, where Max was now hurling the
biggest rocks he could find into the waves. The pierced girl turned to the smaller one.
‘Bloody hell, why doesn’t she just leave him alone for a bit? The only place he
can go is into the sea.’
‘But he’s only little – he can’t swim.’
‘Exactly.’ The older girl smirked as they wandered off down the beach.
Tom sighed. Another opportunity lost; still no nearer to finding out more about his dream woman. Oh well, at least he knew her name now. On the other hand, it didn’t
take a genius to work out that she was already taken. The wedding ring gave it
away, even if the children didn’t.




Little Boxes is a special read as it addresses adult issues in a serious and thought-provoking way.  It leaves you weighing your future and questioning your past.  It's a story for adults and takes you on a roller coaster of emotions that keeps you immersed in the story from start to finish.

Molly is an immensely likable woman who's been with the same man for over twenty years.  While she can admit things have grown stale she's still loyal to the family they created.  Upon his unexpected death though she discovers things about her husband and herself that leave her forever changed, a woman strengthened by the truth.  Molly dealt with the slow unveiling of her husband's past in a believable way that left behind a wide range of emotions and me admiring her emotional fortitude.  She never wallowed from her loss for long as she had children left to raise and this too made her admirable and a story that was ultimately uplifting.

Tom was another character that stuck with me long after the story was done as he doesn't let his disability define him.  He's made a life for himself that he 's content with, but that doesn't stop him from wanting more once he sees Molly.  Tom's disability was portrayed in a realistic and self-deprecating way that showed Tom to be a strong-willed man.  His relationship with Molly progressed slowly as their friendship morphed into something deeper.  I enjoyed their sweet uncertainty at the start and how their ease grew with one another as they spent more time together and they ultimately became the epitome of friends to lovers.

This was a well-paced story that put readers through the emotional wringer.  It was emotionally powerful and engaging with its only flaw being the rather stilted dialogue between Molly and Tom early on.  It spoke of awkwardness but also pulled me out of the cozy web this story wove around me.  The secondary characters were all distinctive and as memorable as Molly and Tom.  Molly's children especially expressed real emotions and actions, and though they sometimes annoyed me, that too added to the story's realism.  All in all this was a satisfying and inspirational story about living in the here and now and leaving behind the past and I recommend it to those looking for an emotionally engaging read.

My rating for this is a B.

*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Celia J Anderson spends most of her spare time writing in as many different genres as possible, including children’s fiction. In her other life, she’s Assistant Headteacher at a small Catholic primary school in the Midlands and loves teaching literature (now comfortingly called English again but still the best subject in the world.)
She tried a variety of random jobs before discovering that the careers advisor at secondary school was right, including running crèches, child minding, teaching children to ride bikes (having omitted to mention she couldn’t do it herself) and a stint in mental health care. All these were ideal preparation for the classroom and provided huge amounts of copy for the books that were to come.
Celia enjoys cooking and eating in equal measures, and thinks life without wine would be a sad thing indeed. She is married, with two grown up daughters who have defected to the seaside. One day she plans to scoop up husband and cats and join them there.

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