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Tina Harding is the successful owner and manager of her own estate agency, Harding Homes, and is very proud of where she has come from. Tina always wanted to be an actress but when her dreams didn't come to anything, she took a different direction and got to where she is today. When Tina goes with her colleague Chantelle to visit a Crystal Ball reader, Tina finds herself being sucked into the world of fortune-telling and psychic folk. Despite her initial reservations about the craft, Tina soon finds herself depending on the readings, and begins to question her life again. When housing tycoon Brian Steen comes into her life, Tina begins to wonder if she has found her "one", and sets about capturing Brian once and for all, but it seems a lot is against the pair getting together. Will Tina and her fortune teller readings be able to predict a happy ending Tina?
Another Irish writer has emerged from Poolbeg Press, and that new name is Amanda Brobyn. Her debut novel, Crystal Balls, is a fun foray into the world of psychics and fortune-telling. I am not a great believer in that sort of thing myself, but I like to keep an open mind with my reading material. When this brightly covered book dropped through my front door, I was instantly drawn to it - I'm terrible, I just can't resist a pretty book cover, and so decided that this would be my next read. I was hoping that it would be an interesting and fun read about the world of 'Crystal Balls' and perhaps teach me a thing or two as well!
If I am honest, I really struggled with getting into the book. The writing style was okay, but I found it was a little too narrative for my liking, I would have preferred a little more conversation in there to be honest as I felt the book moved on better and had a better pace when there was more conversation. The character of Tina was one I didn't initially warm to, and that pretty much continued throughout the book. I found her obsession with fortune telling and such a bit odd and it came out of nowhere, I expected it to be built up slowly and been more explained but it just wasn't, and therefore it just seemed like it was just there for the story, rather than a viable plot device.
One other thing about the book I didn't like was Tina's "relationship" with Brian, the property developer and only other real male character in the book. Again, this seemed to come out of nowhere and I wasn't exactly keen on the way it was heading either. I couldn't work out whether Tina genuinely liked Brian or not, and then when they began to become involved with each other, it all got a bit silly with things going wrong randomly and for no reason other than it had to for the sake of the plot. Then things took a more altogether silly turn when Tina finally lands herself an acting job which is just a ridiculous role. Surely she would just say no thank you but of course she signed a contract without reading it, a little too convenient I think!
There were some good moments in the book I felt were good. I loved Tina's co-worker Chantelle, she injected some much needed humour and light into the book, and I found her to be a great character who worked well with Tina and just made me smile when she appeared. I also understand how some people really do believe in fortune telling and readings and things, but I felt Brobyn had a bit of a cynical approach in the book because she refers quite a bit to the rip-off fortune telling phone lines which are clearly complete and utter nonsense, yet Tina seems addicted to them which I'm not sure is a good message to send out, especially when she is spending huge amounts on them. I'm not the sort of person who would try these things but I know there are people out there who do and the way Tina constantly tries to liken what they say to her own life is quite sad.
Overall, this book is a good enough read but it certainly didn't blow me away which was a disappointment. I was really looking forward to reading it, from the lovely bright cover which certainly caught my eye with its lovely illustrations and use of colour, but sadly the story didn't live up to the expectation for me. The writing was good but I found the characters Brian and Tina to be too annoying and odd for my liking, and also a lot of the events just felt implausible and forced. I realise chick lit is fiction, but when I read it, I like to believe it what I am reading and I just didn't for this book I'm afraid. I'll definitely look out for more of Amanda Brobyn's work, but unfortunately this book didn't quite hit the mark for me.
ISBN: 978-1842234686. Published by Poolbeg on 26th February 2011. Pages: 450. RRP: £6.99.
Thank you to the publishers for sending my a copy to review for http://chicklitreviews.com, where this review first appeared.
Thank you for reading.