Book review: Oh! What a pavlova by Isabella May

oh pavlova book

Title: Oh! What a Pavlova by Isabella May

Genre: Women’s fiction, contemporary  fiction

This book requires a warning;   your tastebuds will tingle and tins full of baked goods should be sourced before you grab a cup of tea to read. Within a few chapters, I fancied focaccia, coconut macaroons and more. My diet went out of the window while reading this book.

In this debut, Isabella May has incorporated cake, travel, affairs and domestic abuse in this story following Kate Clothier. Like the initial impression of a well made pavlova, her life is perfect. She has a good job, travels to many different cites, has the ability to buy good clothes and foreign holidays as well as a secure relationship but when the dessert is sliced, its many layers are revealed. Some of these are rather messy. In one layer of Kate’s life, she is the confident professional, another she is looking for a boost of self esteem while in the other she is trapped in an abusive relationship.

It is easy to relate to Kate, who is not perfect and approaches her life with humour, flings and cake. She is either eating it or thinking about it.  She could easily be your friend, collegue or sister. This connection I felt made me eager to see if she could accept the situation she finds herself in, build strength and break free. Isabella May’s book shows relationships are not simple and abuse does not have to be constant but can ebb and flow over time,  adding to the confusion for the abused. This books highlights how domestic abuse can occur without friends and family knowing as well as showing things can change.

The only disappointment I had was the lack of recipes for all the cakes discussed at the back of the book.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Thank you, Isabella May for an ARC in exchange for a fair review. I look forward to your next book next year.

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Book review: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

The Surrogate

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

Genre: psychological thriller

I had heard wonderful things about this book and after reading The Gift , I eagerly waited for its arrival.

The Surrogate did not disappoint. From the start I was lured in to the story of Kat, who is desperate to have a child and Lisa, who offers to act as a surrogate when they meet by chance. The two women share an old but troubled friendship though it is clear from the start, secrets are also shared and hidden. There are loops and turns throughout the book that lead you to question everything but unlike many psychological thrillers I have read recently, the ending is a complete surprise.

After reading The Gift and The Surrogate I have concluded Louise Jensen creates books which are designed for days or evenings when you can escape reality and indulge in reading a book in one sitting. They are page turners and you do not want to do anything but read.

I loved this book and have already bought a copy of The Sister to add to the top of my TBR pile. The only downside is once I have read it, there will be no more books of hers for me to read until she writes her next one.

Thank you NetGalley and Bookoutre for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Chasing Eveline book review

Chasing Eveline

Chasing Eveline by Leslie Hauser

Genre: Young Adult

Chasing Eveline fitted into July’s book club’s theme, “All about the Music” like a glove or a cassette slotted into its case. It follows teenage Ivy on her plan to reunite an 1980s indie rock group in the hope it will lead her to find her Mum. Chasing Eveline was Ivy’s mum’s favourite band and she shared her love for it with daughter. The small hurdle of the Chasing Eveline members living in Ireland and lack of money will not stop Ivy’s dream of bringing the group together.
This coming of age story entwines the themes of friendship, family, grief, teenage embarrassment with the love of retro music. Forget streaming and downloads this book is about the joy of cassettes and vinyl. It is light-hearted and easy to read but Leslie Hauser captures the deep emotions grief brings when you are left behind.
I was also relieved this lovely debut did not fall into the trap of the clichéd Hollywood ending.

Rating 🌟🌟🌟

Book review: The Gift by Louise Jensen

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This is the first book I have read by Louise Jensen but it won’t be the last. This is how a psychological thriller should be; an emotional journey with twists and turns you cannot predict,even if you think you can. Curiosity and fear drives you to read just one more chapter.
The Gift follows the story of Jenna, who after receiving a heart transplant from Callie, begins  to remember things she shouldn’t. Things only Callie knew and when Jenna’s dreams are saying Callie’s death was not how it first appeared, she has no choice but to listen.
I have read about cellular memory before in Cecelia Ahern’s light hearted ‘Thanks for the Memory’ and Jodi Picoult’s ‘Change of Heart’ touched the topic slightly but this is a different take on it. It is an intriguing subject you can’t help wanting to know more about.
This is a book to read in one sitting if you can, with no distractions apart from a cup of tea because once you start you will not want to put it down.
I am now looking forward to reading Louise Jensen’s new release ‘The Surrogate’.
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Have you read it? What did you think?
Happy reading!

The Break by Marian Keyes: Book Review

 

I didn’t know how much I missed snuggling up with a Marian Keyes book until I received a copy of The Break from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Her books are the perfect remedy for a book slump and her words, explorations into relationships and realistic, normal characters lure you into their world at the expense of reality. When I have access to her books, nothing else gets done. The duvet and a big mug of hot chocolate calls and it is useless feeling to fight.

 
I began reading her books with Lucy Sullivan is getting married and as I read The Break it seems I have aged at the same rate as her protagonists. Finding Mr Right, marriage, babies and now the emotions of middle age and teenagers. I feel old.

 

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The Title ‘The Break’ instantly put me in mind of friends where Ross and Rachel were on a break so only downfall is with this book is I have Ross’s voice “We were on a break” screeching in my mind every time I read it. While Friends was humorous Marian Keyes delves deeper and unravels the reasons, emotions and consequences of having a break.

 

The Break

Hugh, Amy’s husband, drops the bombshell he is leaving for 6 months to travel and experience life on his own, after the death of his father.  He will act as if he was single  but he loves her and will be back. Amy with her complicated family arrangement feels she has no choice but agree. The old adage “if you love them let them go” springs to mind.

 
As common with her book, there is large set of characters with Amy’s sisters and adorable mother that will make you smile to balance out the heart ache of The Break. It is a good, honest read that explores the emotions of long term relationships, love, romance and getting older. Marian Keyes excels at showing nothing in life is as black and white as it seems at first glance and this book is no exception. If you are over 30 you will find yourself nodding in places and if you are younger  – read and learn.

Rating:

3.75-stars

 

Perfection in YA: book reviews

Last month I was blown away by two Young Adult books and they both deserve to be on the bookcase of forever books so they can be reread when needed.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval

I have seen this book many times  but it was always pushed further down the TBR list. A friend urged me to read it and I am so glad I did. It is a gem and a Technicolor explosion of a book. I was mesmerized from first page to the last  by the descriptions and storytelling.

Caraval blurb

The blurb of Caraval

It is a tale of 2 sisters, living under the power of their strict and cruel father until an invitation to the magical game, Caraval, appears days before Scarlett’s arranged wedding.
When Tella,  her beloved sister is kidnapped, Scarlett has no choice to play the game to find her. The plot twists and turns like the tunnels in the island so you never know where you are but the pages leap with colour and imagination. It is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland as you do feel like you have fallen down the rabbit hole into a vibrant Tim Burton set.
Words can not express how much I love this book and I recommend it if you enjoy the fantastical. I long for an illustrated copy to sit amongst my Harry Potter ones if one exists and if not, there needs to be one pronto.

The Path Keeper by N J Simmonds

Path Keeper

I had heard great things about this book and it did not disappoint. Classed as YA it has more depth, swearing and sex than you would expect and would happily fit comfortably on the adult fiction shelf.

The Path Keeper blurb

The Path Keeper blurb

The Path Keeper is a beautifully written book that makes you want to forget the world and just read in one sitting. The characters are strong and realistic. Feisty Ella falls in love with Zac despite fate dictating she is destined for someone else but it is much more than a girl meets boy plot.  It is about soul mates, fate and how decisions made in one life impacts your next.

If you want a multi-layered story with twists and loops as you follow Ella’s journey in love and discovering secrets, this unique book is for you. It is the first of a trilogy and you will counting the days until you can read  the next instalment.

 

 

Getting ready for Autumn

September has arrived. The nights are drawing in and that means one thing: Autumn is on its way so we can look forward to snuggly socks, cups of hot chocolate and dark evenings. A perfect combination to encourage reading!

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Last month, I concentrated on reading those books waiting patiently on my TBR pile which included:

The Gift by Louise Jenson
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Chasing Eveline by Leslie Hauser
The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood
Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas
The Girl who came back by Kerry Wilkinson
The Path Keeper by NJ Simmonds

This month I can’t wait to read:
Marian Keyes The Break
Louise Jensen’s The Surrogate
A flurry of Christmas Themed ones (it is early but luckily,  I love Christmas)

The book club theme for September is Fairy Tales & poetry.

Happy Reading

Love Kate x

Date of book club parties:

Fairy Tales & poetry          29th Sept 2017

Spooky                                  27th Oct 2017

Consult your bucket list     24th Nov 2017

 

 

The Handmaid’s Tale review

The series of The Handmaid’s Tale has recently been on the TV.  I heard great things about it so decided to follow the hype and watch. It was hard going; not because it didn’t live up to the expectations but it felt so real and believable in the political climate of today. The plot deals with so many issues including fertility, environment disaster, rape and extreme religion that are consistently talked about on the news. It is violent in places so it is not one to watch or read if any of those are triggers for negative mental health. The imagery of the women dressed in red or blue depending on their status is powerful. Intrigued and caught in the plot it was only natural I needed to read the book. After all, books always win in the book vs film debate.
The waiting list at the library was mind-bendingly long so there was a wait between the “I need to read this” thought and holding the copy in my hand. The cover showing the TV character Offred was striking and more appealing than previous covers I have seen that made me walk by when they were on the shelves of bookshops.
I admit I am not a reader of classics even modern ones so I was concerned I would struggle with it but I didn’t have to worry. I enjoyed it. I can not get my head round the age of the book, 21 years, because it feels so relevant. The TV imagery helped me visualise some scenes and I felt the programme complements the book well. At the beginning if I had not seen an episode of it, I may have got distracted by other books I needed to read for book clubs but once I was into the world of Gilead I had to binge read to the end.
It follows the story of Offred a Handmaid to the Waterford’s. In a world where an extreme religious group has overthrown the US government changing the social dynamics of America and fertility has dropped dramatically,  children are seen as a rare commodity and a women’s place is firmly in the home her only purpose is to breed.
The story sent shivers down my spine; there were moments I wanted to put the book down because I did not want to know what happened next. It is a rich, emotional, clever and powerful read. I can understand why it is studied at school in English Lit courses and I wish I had the opportunity to read it then instead of An Inspector Calls.
It will take a while for my mind to stop thinking about Offred’s reality.

Comment below if you have read/watched it, did you enjoy it too?

Kate

Star Rating  4 out 5