Friday, 20 February 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Up and In by Deborah Disney

A wonderfully wry tale about the pressure women put on themselves and one another to fit in, measure up and look glamorous while they're doing it. Distinctly middle class parents, Maria and Joe have committed every bit of available income to giving their daughters Kate and Sarah the best education possible, which to them means attending the most exclusive girls school in the state. But when Kate befriends the spoilt and moody Mirabella, Maria finds herself thrust into a high society of champagne -swilling mother-istas she hasn't budgeted for. Saturday morning netball is no longer a fun mother-daughter outing but a minefield of social politics. While the increasingly neurotic Maria struggles to negotiate the school mum hierarchy, Joe quietly battles a mid-life crisis and Kate attempts to grow up as gracefully as possible (without having her life ruined by embarrassing parents). For every woman who has ever felt she might be wearing the wrong shoes, this is a book that will remind you- you're not alone. 

E-book
Publisher: Harper Collins

Up and In by Deborah Disney is such an enjoyable read. Maria inadvertently upsets Bea, the Queen Bee of the mothers at her daughter's exclusive school. Maria does everything she can to fit in so that she can be part of this exclusive clique but Bea really does not make it easy for her. Maria's desperation to be included leads her to do things she would never have dreamed of, is it all worth it or has she lost sight of who she is?
I very much enjoyed Deborah Disney's writing style  and she has explored a situation that nearly every mother will identify with. The desire to fit in and be included doesn't disappear when we leave school. Maria initially seems to be doing it for her daughter's sake but very quickly it becomes Maria's own desire to be in the elite group of Mums and to be be liked by Bea. In the main, I really liked Maria but there were times that I
wanted to shake her ad her behaviour seemed selfish. There were several moments that made me cringe and I wondered why anyone would put themselves in such awkward situations as Maria does.
Bea is a marvellous creation, she is horrible, manipulative, bitchy and a complete snob. She makes an excellent villain in the book and again, readers will definitely have come across someone like Bea in their lifetime.
Up and In is a very entertaining read with some rather serious undertones. Deborah Disney explores our desire to be liked and included and the lengths we will go to in order to make this happen.
This is the first book that I have read by Deborah Disney but she is an author I would recommend.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Book Review: The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan

When Alice Eveleigh arrives at Firecombe Manor during the long languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts, none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton whose only traces remain in a few tantalisingly blurred photographs. Why will no one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish?
As the sun beats down relentlessly, Alice becomes even more determined to unearth the truth about the girl in the photograph- and stop her own life from becoming an eerie echo of Elizabeth's.

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 448 

I was very attracted to this book when I saw a few reviews comparing it to Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I can see why comparisons have been made but I think this book had a very different feel to it.
The book flits between two characters, Alice Eveleigh and Lady Elizabeth Stanton; Alice in 1933 and Elizabeth at least a generation before. Alice is in disgrace after falling pregnant to a married man. She has come to Firecombe to have her baby in secret. She comes across a few photographs of Elizabeth Stanton and is intrigued by the woman who used to live in the house. Mrs Jelphs is the current housekeeper and she used to be Elizabeth's maid but she will not talk of her old mistress which just intrigues Alice even more. As Alice begins to discover Firecombe's tragic past she begins to wonder how it will affect the present; there is a lot of bad feeling in the house and she begins to question whether it is a place of safety for her or not.
I liked both Alice and Elizabeth but I found Elizabeth's story slightly more interesting. It becomes very clear that she suffered from post-natal depression but in those times it was not recognised and women were often locked in asylums  and deemed insane. The treatment Elizabeth received altered her forever and effectively tore her family apart. It was fascinating to see how post-natal depression was viewed at the time and the treatment that women received.
Kate Riordan has written an interesting and enticing book. The tension is very high in places but there were a few parts that I felt were a little too long. I did like how she brought the characters of Alice and Elizabeth together. The subtle way in which she intertwined their stories was very good.
I love books that are set in big houses and go back and forth in time. The Girl in the Photograph has a very good plot and interesting characters, I would highly recommend.

Many thanks to Penguin for allowing me to read a review copy of this book via Netgalley.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Book Review: Fragile Lies by Laura Elliot

His name is Michael Carmody.
He is a writer and a father.
His son is lying in a coma, fighting for his life.
Her name is Lorraine Cheevers.
She is an artist and a mother.
An illicit affair has destroyed her marriage.
Michael is desperate to find the couple who left his son for dead, a victim of a hit and run.
Lorraine is desperate to start a new life for her and her daughter.
Michael and Lorraine are about to cross paths- damaged souls, drawn to one another.
They don't know that their lives are already connected.
They don't know the web of lies surrounding them.
They are searching for the truth. But when they find it, it could destroy them both.

Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 13th February, 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, Fragile Lies by Laura Elliot drew me in from the very first page and I had read it in a couple of days.
Michael Carmody and Lorraine Cheevers are the main characters. Michael's teenage son is lying in a coma after being left for dead in a hit and run accident. Well-known artist Lorraine is moving to the countryside after her marriage was torn apart by her husband's illicit affair. Lorraine wants to get away from it all and concentrate on raising her daughter Emily. Yet Michael and Lorraine are both drawn together, having no idea that they are already linked. As Michael pursues the truth about his son's accident, Lorraine looks for the truth about the nature of her husband's affair.As the truth starts to be revealed, it is not certain if Michael and Lorraine's new love will take the strain.
Fragile Lies has a little bit of everything, love, tragedy, infidelity, lies and secrets. I thought that Laura Elliot set up the story perfectly at the beginning and then she kept the plot going at an excellent pace. The characters are quite complex and I think this added a real edge to the book; they felt very well thought out and I loved how the author weaved their separate stories together.
The family aspect of the book was also interesting. Lorraine and Michael are both very successful in their careers but if you strip everything away they are completely devoted to their children. Michael cannot rest until he gets justice for his son and Lorraine wants to do everything she can to protect her daughter,  no matter how much Emily resents it.
Laura Elliot is a new author for me but I would highly recommend Fragile Lies. Excellent plot, interesting characters and plenty of intrigue.

Many thanks to the lovely Kim at Bookouture for sending me a review copy, Fragile Lies is published on February 13th.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Bear With Me!

Hello you lovely lot! Just wanted to let you know that it may be a little quiet on here for the next couple of weeks as I am in the process of moving house. Reading is the only thing keeping me sane though so I will have plenty of reviews to share with you once I am back up and running. I am also mulling over the possibility of doing some vlogs but we shall have to see what our internet connection is like.

See you all soon

Dot
xx

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Book Review: Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell

Hallie has a secret. She's in love. He's perfect for her in every way, but he's seriously out of bounds. And her friends aren't going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie doesn't have long to live. Time is running out.
Flo has a dilemaa, She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won't be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming frriends- let alone anything more.
Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type and she's afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong.
Three Amazing Things About You begins as Hallie goes on a journey. A donor has been found and she's about to be given new lungs. But whose?

Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 382
Publication Date: TODAY! 

Three Amazing Things About You is Jill Mansell's latest fantastic book. I read it in just over a day and it reminded me how much I enjoy this author's writing.
Hallie is the central character, she is only 26 but she has cystic fibrosis so she is very aware that her time is limited. She has very strong feelings for Luke but she can't act upon them as while Luke is a good friend he is also her GP. Hallie keeps her feelings a secret but how will she take it if he meets someone else?
Flo is another lovely character and she becomes more and more important as the book develops. Her attraction to Zander is a shock to her but she completely underestimated his nightmare sister who will do everything she can to wreck their happiness.
Tasha meets Rory in a very entertaining way but she can't believe how quickly she falls in love. He's a complete adrenalin junkie and his friends question whether she is too sedate for him. When their relationship is put under a huge pressure, Tash shows to everyone just how much she loves Rory and will do all she can to be by his side.
These separate characters come in to each other's lives at several points without interacting; they may just be in the same place or mention a shared acquaintance. I think this really helped explore the idea of fate, how much of our destiny do we actually control?
I think that one of the things Jill Mansell does best is the interaction between her characters. Her dialogue is effortless which makes them more believable.
Cystic fibrosis is a big issue to approach and I felt that it was handled really well. I know somebody who has cystic fibrosis and I really did feel that it was clear to see that Jill Mansell had done her research. I was very impressed with how this book will raise awareness about cystic fibrosis and organ donation.
Three Amazing Things About You had me in tears at the end. It is an excellent book and I would highly recommend it.

Many thanks to NetGalley for a review copy of this book. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Book Review: The Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews

Fay Merryweather runs her cake shop from her beautiful garden. She whips up airy sponges and scrumptious scones, while her customers enjoy the lovely blossoms and gorgeous blooms. Looking after the cake shop, the garden, and her cantankerous mother means Fay is always busy but she accepts her responsibilities because if she doesn't do all this then who will?
Then Danny Wilde walks into her life and makes Fay question every decision she's ever made.
When a sudden tragedy strikes, Fay's entire world is thrown off balance even further and she doesn't know which way to turn. Can Fay find the strength to make a life changing decision even if it means giving up the thing she loves the most? Life, love and family are about to collide in  The Cake Shop in the Garden.
Publisher: Sphere
Pages: 432
Publication Date: Hardcover and Ebook available now, paperback published 23rd April

The Cake Shop in the Garden, in my opinion, is Carole Matthews' best book! I think it is possibly her longest at 432 pages but I devoured it very quickly.
Fay Merryweather is the central character, she runs The Canal Side Cafe from her childhood home with the help of her Russian assistant Lija. She loves running the cafe but it is also a necessity as she is the sole carer of her mother. There is not actually anything medically wrong with Fay's mum but she took to her bed several years ago and is refusing to budge

. Fay's sister Edie couldn't care less, she lives in New York and hasn't visited for years. She only really contacts Fay if she needs her to move some money to her ever dwindling bank account.So Fay has a lot  to deal with; she does have a long-term partner Anthony but he seems to be more interested in his hand-bell ringing hobby than putting any effort into their relationship.
Fay is just plodding along, she knows that she's not necessarily happy but she feels trapped by it all, especially her responsibilities to her mother. Danny Wilde turns up on his boat one morning at the bottom of Fay's garden and makes her realise that she deserves so much more. He quit his job in the city and is looking for work so he ends up helping Fay tidy the garden ready for the summer. The attraction between them is instant and palpable but Fay has Anthony and the business to run whereas Danny is just embarking on a new adventure. Fay's world is thrown into even more turmoil when tragedy strikes at the heart of her family. Will she be able to hold it all together and does she really want to?
I loved, loved, loved Fay! I could have shaken her at times but she is a brilliant character. You get a real sense of the weight of responsibility she has on her shoulders; she doesn't do anything without thinking about how it will affect everyone else first. Danny is exactly what she needs; someone to give her a jolt so she notices that life is just passing her by.
Lija, Fay's assistant is one of the best characters Carole has ever created. She is feisty, loyal to Fay and very, very funny. She provided me with many laugh out loud moments and was one of my favourite parts of the book.
There was a huge and brilliant twist at the end of the book which I in no way saw coming. I really couldn't believe what I was reading, Carole really pulls it out of the bag with this one!
I think people are going to love The Cake Shop in the Garden, it's a great story, good characters, a few surprises, humour, warmth and plenty of cake, what's not to like?

Many thanks to the very lovely Carole Matthews for sending me a copy of her fabulous new book! 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

One abandoned baby. Two sisters with a secret. One chance to rewrite the past.
Over seventy years have passed since sisters Rose and Connie Doughty found an abandoned baby near their home on the island of Scribbly Gum. With no one to take care of it, Rose and Connie took the baby in as their own.
Since then the 'Munro Baby Mystery' has brought fame and fortune, putting Scribbly Gum on the tourist map, especially for the Island's annual celebration.
But now, with Connie dead and outsider Sophie Honeywell about to move into her home, Rose beings to wonder if they made the right decision all those years ago. How much longer can they cover up the lie that has sustained their community for generations? And what other secrets are about to be revealed?
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 416

Liane Moriarty is fast becoming the Queen of secrets and lies! All of her books revolve around characters keeping information from each other or bending the truth in some way and The Last Anniversary is no exception.
Sister's Connie and Rose are at the centre of 'The Munro Baby Mystery' the sister's found Alice and Jack Munro's house abandoned and their tiny baby sleeping in the crib. Nobody came forward to claim her so they brought Baby Enigma up as their own.
The sisters and Enigma's children and grandchildren all live in Scribbly Gum Island which has become a very lucrative tourist spot due to the Munro mystery.
It is all thrown into disarray when Connie dies; she leaves her house to Sophie Honeywell, a complete outsider but one who is fascinated by the Island's secrets. Rose, the sister left behind is no longer constrained by Connie to keep the secrets that have been fuelling the island for over seventy years. Rose is tired of the lies but how will the family react to her revelations?
Liane Moriarty is fabulous at drawing the reader into the story from the very beginning. The Last Anniversary is very clever in the way it has a very subtle  but sinister undertone running through it. You know that this twee little island run by two twee little old ladies is not all it seems and then you are intrigued to find out the truth. Moriarty throws in several twists at the end, making this a very memorable book.
The Last Anniversary has been a great start to my reading in the New Year. I very much enjoyed the mystery element of the book and I felt that Liane Moriarty looked at some particularly interesting and serious ideas. I hope that this author has a new book out soon and she just gets better and better.

Many thanks to Katie at Penguin for sending me a copy of the book to review, The Last Anniversary is out now. 

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