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E-Book giveaway: The Art of Unpacking Your Life by Shireen Jilla

(27 Posts)
TinaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 16-Mar-15 11:39:21

We’ve got 100 copies of The Art of Unpacking Your Life, the new e-book by Shireen Jilla to giveaway this week.

When Connie invites her old gang of university friends on the holiday of a lifetime, it seems like a great idea at first, but is getting them back together a terrible mistake? Can the stark beauty and calm of the Kalahari help them rediscover the friendship that binds them together? Will they even manage to make it back to London in one piece? Click here to find out more and apply for a free copy.

Don't forget, if you're lucky enough to receive a free copy of The Art of Unpacking Your Life, we do ask that you tell us what you think about it on the thread below, or in our reviews section.

This giveaway is sponsored by Bloomsbury Reader

ScarlettDarling Mon 16-Mar-15 18:12:07

I've applied, sounds good!

Wings77 Fri 27-Mar-15 12:40:41

Thank you for a free copy of this book. The 'Art of Unpacking Your Life' is an excellent book which is about a group of old university friends reunited. It is a book which you can easily get lost in and I just couldn't stop turning the pages to find out how all the characters would end up. I would definitely recommend it for any fans of women fiction. smile

hopelesslydevotedtoGu Sat 28-Mar-15 21:25:33

Thanks for the free copy.

This is a coming of age story about six university friends approaching their 40s with various uncertainties and regrets. An African safari provides the catalyst for changing their lives and reinvigorating their friendships. The African landscape is described vividly, and I loved reading the descriptions of the Savannah. The characters are all believable and have depth. I quickly got hooked on the story. There are several twists, some of which are more convincing than others.. I enjoyed this book and thought it a fantastic escapist read that I devoured in a day.

Wizotto Mon 30-Mar-15 13:04:57

First of all, many thanks for the free ebook! I didn't find the characters that convincing to start with; there were a few things they said that jarred for some reason. I also found the number of life changing experiences that happened on the trip unconvincing and unbelievable. Despite this, I warmed to the characters as I got to know them better and beneath the surface there were some underlying observations about the nature of relationships that were quite interesting and could have been developed further. Is love enough on its own? I don't think life's quite that simple. All in all, not a great work or one that will stay with me for long. A nice undemanding read for the beach or a relaxing afternoon.

madeinkent Mon 30-Mar-15 18:58:43

I finished it last night, and loved it. I did find the characters believable - maybe it depends on who you come across throughout your life. I found myself comparing the characters to people I know or once knew. I loved the way the friends were so horribly open and honest with each other - it reminded me of how my sisters put me on the spot.

Also, reaching forty does make people rethink their lives and loves. Add that to a richly sensory experience, such as this type of holiday, and lives are bound to change.

Dsiso Fri 03-Apr-15 19:44:38

So pleased about this book on so many levels! Firstly it was a giveaway and I never win anything so thank you. Secondly it was an e-book and I take my iPad most places so that was great. And thirdly I thought when I started the book that only a few chapters would be in the kalahari and was able to relate to the whole setting in a bush lodge. My husband works in South Africa, so we spend a lot of time there and Safari trips are always a highlight! Just after we got married we were given a few nights in an exclusive lodge and I was in the story from the first page. I loved the detail, the descriptions of the animals, food and wine. The story gripped me, the characters unfolded page by page and I had tears streaming down my face for the last few chapters. Two days have passed since I finished it and I can't stop thinking about the people involved. Wonderful book to get lost in.

AlbertHerbertHawkins Tue 07-Apr-15 13:56:33

I would describe this book as 'This Life' meets aga saga. The characters are around my age and educational background but are significantly wealthier and more successful than me, so I immediately disliked and begrudged them!! I stand by my dislike of them, paricularly the lawyer one (can't recall her name at present) really can't see what Gus saw in her, and while we are at it that relationship was straight out of Mills a Boon. However, I did find the book really enjoyable and readable, it is the sort of book that slips down really easily and would be great for a beach holiday or similar. Overall enjoyed the book a lot despite finding many of the characters iritaring and entitled (see Kathryn). So thanks mumsnet!!

rachellawson Thu 09-Apr-15 16:33:51

Not easy to get through a book in 48 hours, with 4 children clamouring for attention...but this novel was pure escapism and worth snatching every moment for. If you've been to uni and cherish the friendships you made there, if you've been on safari or would like to, if you are careering towards or have experienced the big 40th bday....this novel will captivate you.Indulgent escapism on a luxurious scale. Beautiful details and descriptions serve up a fitting backdrop for the twists and turns in the lives of 6 best friends. Read it - you won't be disappointed...

minsmum Fri 10-Apr-15 23:44:13

Thank you for the book. I really enjoyed it. The characters were interesting and the descriptions were gorgeous. I got immersed in it very quickly. I would recommend it. It made me want to go on safari.

magicmoon Sat 11-Apr-15 17:04:22

Thanks for the book. I enjoyed it & it was a nice Sunday afternoon read. I liked the idea of a group of university friends getting together & how much their lives had diverged over twenty years while still maintaining close bonds. I found some of the characters - mainly Lizzie and Matt - were more realistic than others & didn't find Connie a particularly sympathetic character. It also seemed unrealistic that they were all such high-flyers and had so many crises in their lives all at the same time. There also seem to be a few typos and editorial errors although that could just have been an e-book problem.

AnnField Sun 12-Apr-15 10:34:37

Thanks for the book, which I thought was well written and good on detail.

It wasn't my usual type of read and I've struggled with it a little - there was nothing 'wrong' with it, I just couldn't get lost in it which doesn't seem to have been a problem for others.

funmummy48 Sun 12-Apr-15 13:59:30

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found it a bit hard to get into at first as there seemed to be a lot of characters introduced very quickly and a lot of information to absorb about them. However, a couple of chapters in and I was hooked, it was a good, escapist read. Just right for the Easter holidays.

2fat4that Sun 12-Apr-15 22:29:26

Thank you for the book. I'm enjoying it. I struggled with remembering who was who at first, a lot of characters were introduced at the beginning. I'll update when I've finished it.

JimmyCorkhill Mon 13-Apr-15 12:06:16

Just finished it! Once I got past the sheer amount of characters at the start I couldn't put it down. I found the main group of characters really rude and arrogant. Their reaction to Katherine's baby news was jaw dropping. Incredibly rude. And their assumptions about Luke removing his children from his ex wife, they all jumped to conclusions without talking to him - he's supposed to be their friend! I could understand the lesser characters of Katherine and Alan being sidelined but it was disappointing that we didn't get to delve more deeply into the character of Lizzie. I felt she was held up as a joke when the others hadn't made a great success of their lives either. I also thought that Connie was portrayed very sympathetically when actually she chose to turn a blind eye to her awful husband. She wasn't responsible for his behaviour but she was very aware of it. I loved the setting but I don't think I would like to go on a safari now, I am far too much of a wimp!

daimbardiva Tue 14-Apr-15 12:15:57

Thanks for the free copy - I steamed through it and found it an easy, absorbing read. However, I found the characters mostly very irritating and quite clichéd - especially the mp and the storyline surrounding him. I expected to empathise and feel connected with the group as I'm also about to turn 40 (and love a safari! ) but I found it very hard to connect with any of them, perhaps due to them all being so privileged and self absorbed. I found the way the story shifted between characters' points of view confusing and clumsy, and overall found the sheer amount of cataclysmic events crammed into one week rather improbable. I also found the ending (for Sara especialky) rather clichéd. So, not a glowing review from me I'm afraid - unlikely to recommend it or look out for other books by the author, but it did keep my attention and was a reasonably enjoyable read.

serendipity1980 Tue 14-Apr-15 20:21:32

I finished this book at the weekend while sitting on the back of our canal boat - utter bliss. It had me in tears at the end when Luke died - I couldn't see to read and I'm very glad I had my big sunglasses on!! Did no one else cry? I loved the setting, we had our honeymoon in Kenya on safari so I'm familiar with the setting and loved being taken back to it. The characters weren't as believable as I would have liked, and as others have said, too many big life events seemed to happen in one week. Also, I felt that too much happened towards the end, but that they weren't developed enough, and we as the reader weren't able to find out what happened fully as a result of those events. I did really enjoy it though, despite this and found it a real page turner. Thanks Mumsnet and Bloomsbury for the free copy!

Garton Sun 19-Apr-15 08:00:55

I recieved my free copy with the amazing help of being told how to get it on kindle. I will be reading and havent forgotten but got 2 others I need to finish first. look forward to reviewing.

sallyc06 Sun 19-Apr-15 09:57:07

What a fab book, curled up on my sofa and got completely lost in this book, an excellent read, very absorbing. Well done Shireen!!

2fat4that Sun 19-Apr-15 12:45:38

I've enjoyed the book, although it took me a while, but that's because I was in the middle of another book. I enjoyed the storyline, although some of the characters were quite irritating. Gus constantly saying "Eh" really got on my nerves and I couldn't hear it, couldn't understand why, what sort of accent it was meant to be. I would probably look out for more books by the same author.

katb1973 Mon 20-Apr-15 19:24:37

Thanks Mumsnet and Bloomsbury for this great book. I read this over a month due to 2 kids and a newborn but I thought about it in the periods between which always marks a good book for me. Rekindling friendships, accepting the people you have become and acknowledging that you are no longer the same. Issues we all face at various times in our lives and handle in varying ways. Picking up the friendships of our 20s when we are in our 40s is the main theme of this book. Relevant and fascinating. Really enjoyed this book, go out and read it.

GreenShadow Tue 21-Apr-15 17:43:25

First of all, many thanks to MN and Bloomsbury for the book and especial thanks to Stephanie who very kindly send a real book when I stupidly realised that the offer was for an E-book which I don't have means to read....

I must admit my initial impressions were not very encouraging. The first couple of chapters didn't really grab me and it took a while to establish any real sympathy for the characters. But, I did eventually get into it and soon became interested to find out more about the back-story behind each character. I sometimes wondered what they all saw in each other though - they appeared a bit too disparate to have stuck together for so long.

The main thing that grated with me however was the writing style. I have always felt that if you actually notice the style more than the story, then there is something wrong. It just didn't flow in a natural way but felt a little stilted. Whether that was a deliberate thing or not, I have no idea, but it wasn't for me.

By the end however, I was certainly sucked into the story and glad to have been given the opportunity to read it.

daimbardiva Tue 21-Apr-15 21:20:44

greenshadow - you've hit the nail on the head there. I was thinking about this book again today and realised that I never forgot that I was reading a book while I was reading it if that makes any sense. Sometimes I can get so absorbed in a book that the story surrounds you, but with this one stayed detached and aware that it was a novel.

ScarlettDarling Wed 22-Apr-15 12:07:54

Many thanks for the chance to review this book.

I'm really sad to say that I didn't particularly enjoy 'the art of unpacking your life'. Unfortunately I found the characters very one dimensional and I didn't warm to any of them. I thought their relationships were odd and I couldn't bring myself to believe in them. I should have felt sad when Luke died, but actually I wasn't bothered. I should have felt angry on Connie's behalf when Julian's betrayal was revealed but I didn't. And as for Sara, I found the whole Joanne Sutton obsession thing just plain weird. And when the black rhino charged at the group and Kathryn said 'I have urinated'...well, that just made me laugh!

I found the writing of the story very stilted in parts. There were too many central characters and far too many storylines going on. Dan,Alan and Lizzie were really undeveloped characters, and I felt they weren't needed in the story at all. It felt as though we lurched from event to event without anything believable or gripping happening.

Having read the above reviews which are mostly really positive, it is clear that I'm in the minority in not enjoying this book. I will be passing the book on to a friend and look forward to hearing what she thinks.

Thanks again.

wifeandmotherandlotsofother Fri 15-May-15 12:47:52

Many thanks to Mumsnet and Bloomsbury for the free ebook.

Apologies for the delay in the review. I found it easy to read and inoffensive, sadly I didn't quite believe in the characters and didn't really engage with them. The précis made me think I would properly enjoy it but sadly not.
I read it on holiday and it was fine for a holiday read, not a "oh my life I have to stay up all night to finish this" but as a book for the beach and not having to concentrate terribly hard, quite acceptable.

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