Monday, November 20, 2017

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

5 Star

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.




Kathryn - 5 Star

A completely absorbing read that kept me on my toes from start to finish. I actually kept checking to see how many more pages were left to make sure I wasn't almost finished!  I am really a fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid and as her novels become more and more diverse she'll amass an even larger fan base as you never quite know what she'll tackle next.

Firstly I couldn't believe this woman could indeed have seven husbands but as we followed her life from teenager to senior citizen it made a lot more sense! An exuberant character, Evelyn is exactly what you'd want from an actress whose popularity spanned decades. What made the novel though were the relationships she formed with friends and lovers throughout her life.  She respected others and in turn earned the respect and loyalty of some very special people.  It's also interesting that we were given a taste into the process of becoming an actor, the hoops to jump through, the horrific pitfalls of sexuality and it's "expectations".  It's a timely novel. I wonder if it will reinforce the voice of women?  I hope so, with all my heart. 

The plot and development are fast paced and Evelyn moves around a lot and changes her life frequently so the reader is always kept on their toes. I liked that the author covered so many types of love and that each was explored with respect.  I hope this book makes into many hands and others enjoy it as much as I did.


Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.


Connect with Taylor Jenkins Reid:

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Name 3 Things with Alison Brodie

Please welcome Alison Brodie, author of Zenka, as she lets us into her life with our Name 3 Things interview!







About Alison:

Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side. 

Alison Brodie is an international best-selling author.  Her books having been published in hardback and paperback by Hodder & Stoughton (UK), Heyne (Germany) and Unieboek (Holland).

Alison has now gone “indie”. 


Connect with Alison:
 Website      Facebook     Twitter    Goodreads

Alison Brodie on Name 3 things:


Name three things one wouldn’t normally expect to find…

In your fridge

A half drunk Guinness (the Guinness isn’t drunk.  I mean, I drank half of the bottle)

An over-ripe pear (that’s the genteel way of saying a pear that is so bruised it looks as if it’s been flung around the room in a game of dodge-ball).

A cheap, roasted pork slab which has been bought for doggo but I’ve been stealing bits off it (I have no lunch!) and doggo has been watching me balefully with a “That’s mine” look.

In your purse

You don’t want to know!  But I’ll tell you:  

A brocade-covered diary with slim gold pencil.  

An invitation to Her Majesty’s Garden Party.  

A tracking device issued by MI5.  

(Ha!  You will never know what’s inside my handbag!)

In/On your bedside table

Books

Books

And more books

In your car

Pen.  

Writing pad.  

Maps.  (I have a boring car)
  
On your desk/writing spot

Hand spinner.  

Cup of Lapsong Souchong tea.  

A Noddy pencil sharpener.

In the "junk drawer"

Keys!  Hundreds of them.  I never knew I had so many.  I think they are breeding.

A Girl Guide whistle (??)

A compass.

In your closet/garage/storage room

A red feather boa – never worn

Gold stiletto shoes with v. high heels – never worn

Grey, baggy knickers – worn all the time

In your music or movie collection

Fats Domino, His Greatest Hits

Max Bygraves, SingaLongaWarYears!  (??)  (That must be my mother-in-laws)

Maria Muldaur  (that must be Hubby’s)

On your bookshelf

You are not going to believe this but it is true.  A glass bottle in the most beautiful shade of blue with the words TASCHENFLASCHE FUR HUSTENDE.  I bought this for one euro in a house sale, got home and checked it up on the internet.  It was used in tuberculosis sanitoriums in the 1930s for ladies to spit into.

A line of tiny wind-up toys.  I get them out at dinner parties when everyone is drunk.  There’s a prize for the one whose toy gets to the finish line first.  Everyone becomes alarmingly competitive!  What my guests don’t know is … the rabbit only does somersaults, the seal-lion keeps falling on his face, the penguin waddles and the fireman goes round in circle.  I’ll tell you the secret if you ever come to dinner:  it’s the elephant that always wins. 

“Dining With The Duchess” by Sarah, The Duchess of York and Weight Watchers.  This is a signed edition (I used to know someone who was friends with her).  And there are recipes for “Supper After a Horseback Ride”, “A Working Mother’s Lunch” (working mother?) and Apres-Ski Lunch.



Zenka



Ruthless, devious, and loyal.

Zenka is a Hungarian pole-dancer with a dark past.

When cranky London mob boss, Jack Murray, saves her life she vows to become his guardian angel – whether he likes it or not. Happily, she now has easy access to pistols, knives and shotguns.

Jack discovers he has a son, Nicholas, a male nurse with a heart of gold. Problem is, Nicholas is a wimp.

Zenka takes charges. Using her feminine wiles and gangland contacts, she will turn Nicholas into the son any self-respecting crime boss would be proud of. And she succeeds!

Nicholas transforms from pussycat to mad dog, falls in love with Zenka, and finds out where the bodies are buried – because he buries them. He’s learning fast that sometimes you have to kill, or be killed.

As his life becomes more terrifying, questions have to be asked:

How do you tell a mob boss you don’t want to be his son?

And is Zenka really who she says she is? 


Available at:
 Kindle 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Indian Summer by Marcia Willett

4 Star

For renowned actor Sir Mungo, his quiet home village in Devon provides the perfect retreat. Close by are his brother and his wife, and the rural location makes his home the ideal getaway for his old friends in London.

Among those is Kit, who comes to stay for the summer, bringing with her a letter from her first and only love, Jake, and a heart in turmoil. Years have passed since they last saw each other, and now he has written to Kit asking to meet again.

As the summer unfolds, secrets are uncovered that will shatter the sleepy community, and even tear a family apart. But those involved soon realize that the only way to move forward might be to confront the past... 


Kathryn - 4 Star

Indian Summer is my first novel by this author and I’m sure it won’t be my last.   Set in the countryside of Devon the scenery plays a big part in the story- as we delve into the past for the backstory it’s a key factor that the setting for the plot of the novel remains the same, despite the passage of time.  I even found that it was a parallel for some of the characters’ plot lines.

Admittedly I found the first few pages difficult- I didn’t immediately warm to Sir Mungo and though I tried, I didn’t relate to him at first.  I’m glad I persevered though because Mungo’s warmth did come across and I was invested in his history and his future so much.  As a young actor he seemed to have frequently returned to the family home on holiday, bringing friends and treating them to the country life, a rural escape etc. However, now retired, he appeared to be staying longer and placing more emphasis on this natural escape to being his more permanent home. 
  
Though initially focussed on Mungo, the author brought in old friends and new friends so that the plot kept expanding for Mungo, his brother and sister-in-law. Each persona had an intricate story of their own and sometimes I wasn’t sure how they would all match up.  I liked the different generations that Willett explored - typical of a village in the countryside, you find all sorts of people amongst the ever changing fields, sky and wildlife.  I was fascinated by the mystery of the past that was hinted at throughout (and mercifully is explained in the end) but I almost found it distracted from the newer relationships and found its conclusion a smidge anti-climactic- hopefully that’s just me.

Thank you to St.Martin's Press for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Marcia Willett:
Website     Facebook      Twitter     Goodreads

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Need You Dead by Peter James

5 Star


Lorna Belling, desperate to escape the marriage from hell, falls for the charms of another man who promises her the earth. But, as Lorna finds, life seldom follows the plans you’ve made. A chance photograph on a client’s mobile phone changes everything for her.

When the body of a woman is found in a bath in Brighton, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is called to the scene. At first it looks an open and shut case with a clear prime suspect. Then other scenarios begin to present themselves, each of them tantalizingly plausible, until, in a sudden turn of events, and to his utter disbelief, the case turns more sinister than Grace could ever have imagined.






Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

I have long been a Roy Grace fan so was thrilled to read another one of the books in this series. Compulsively readable, this book was as good as the others with a fast-paced murder mystery that kept me guessing.

Roy Grace is a lovable character who is unparalleled when it comes to solving crimes, no matter how difficult they may be. This story being no exception, touching such topics as murder, infidelity and abuse until it all comes to the final denouement.

The regular supporting characters like Roy Grace's boss, Cassian Pewe, and Cleo making reappearances and the introduction of new characters like Roy's son, Bruno, every detail has been well thought out and executed in the continuing saga of the detective's life.

Peter James is somewhat of a genius in this genre and I wish I knew what his secret was in creating such gripping tales!


Thank you to MacMillan for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Peter James: 
Website     Facebook     Twitter      Goodreads


Friday, November 3, 2017

Dreaming of Venice by T.A.Williams

4 Star

Find love, friendship and prosecco – in the magical city of Venice
Life is tough for Penny. A dead end job in a London café, a boyfriend in Australia (what could go wrong?) and an art career going nowhere. But then Penny is approached with an extraordinary proposition.

It isn’t going to be easy but, if she can pull it off, she will turn her life around and at long last see the fulfilment of her dream – to visit Venice. And, just maybe, find true happiness with the handsome man of her dreams.

But can dreams come true?





Kathryn - 4 Star

A fantastic tale of rags to riches this novel will swoop you away in a story of romance and friendship.  I zipped through this book and was enchanted by the characters, as I have come to expect from T.A.Williams.

Penny is a realistically drawn character for her profession- it’s not an easy life being an undiscovered artist and she’s just putting one step in front of the other until she’s “discovered” by Caroline when she rescues a baby on a train platform and ends up in the news.  Caroline approaches her to play her employer’s double (for reasons unknown at first) which seems a bit peculiar but the perks are hard to turn down!  Penny gradually makes some headway in her career and her financial situation as she plays the double more and more often.  And then she gets to chance to go to Venice ….which upped the charm and romance factor considerably for me.  I don’t want to give anything  away so I shall restrain myself on the details. 

Typical of Williams, the characters are realistic and possess enough charisma to be engaging but aren’t bogged in so much “development” that the plot lags.  He moves quickly and naturally through the action and his novels are humorous and heart-felt and always include a loveable dog.

Thank you to Canelo for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with T.A.Williams:
Website     Facebook      Twitter     Goodreads


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

5 Star

It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.

For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while Olivia deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems. 

As Andrew sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent, Emma hides a secret that will turn the whole family upside down. 

In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…




Sabrina-Kate- 5 Star

I absolutely LOVED this book. I have never read the author before but British literature is on the top of my list so I was thrilled to be offered this book to read. The Birch family was highly entertaining to me and the story had so many endearing qualities to it that I felt like I was catching up with an old friend.

Certain aspects of the book made me wonder and want to research topics more and others just felt like a wonderfully heartfelt story was coming together in exactly the perfect way.

I loved how the family had their issues and how the circumstances of this Christmas season made them have to confront them in order to just be together. Which, admittedly, was not initially pleasing to them. The book had a lot of different elements and I felt it was fairly unique, especially the circumstances that Emma found herself dealing with so unexpectedly.

Getting to know each character, their flaws and dreams, was just so enjoyable that I could not help but read this book in almost one sitting. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a compulsive read and has the time as it was almost impossible to put this book down!


Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Francesca Hornak:
 Twitter      Goodreads

Monday, October 23, 2017

Shoes for Anthony by Emma Kennedy


5 Star

‘They’re running wild. Feral! If I had a shilling for every time a Scott Street boy said he was doing something when he was doing something else entirely I’d be living in Cardiff in a house made of Lardy cake. What did I say? Bad things will happen!’

The idea of the war coming to their small, impoverished Welsh mining village always seemed remote, but with one explosive event and the arrival of the Americans preparing for the invasion of France, the people of Treherbert find their world turned upside down.

But war brings distrust, lies and danger. And as the villagers find themselves hopelessly divided, Anthony, an 11-year-old who hasn’t had a pair of shoes in years, is going to have to choose between what is popular and what is right.



Kathryn - 5 Star

Both the era and the area of Shoes for Anthony always pique my interest so I was immediately intrigued by this family story.  It is funny and sweet as well as heavy and dramatic and kept me turning the pages.

The author draws you in with Anthony's childish voice and the harsh reality of his life (that to him seems quite perfect).  It’s so easy to forget that not so many years ago every day activities could be taxing to the point of impossible for those living in rural villages and that this is still the reality for developing countries around the world.  The harsh working conditions of professions such as mining were always lingering in the background of the story. I found myself tense, waiting for something to drop but as the only source of available income for the families in Anthony’s world this feeling was a part of life.  For small children though, the admiration for the village men working in the mines brought huge excitement and pride. Though they all went to school it was expected that most boys would one day end up down the mine themselves.  Anthony barely had shoes to wear but was already anticipating his future. 

I can’t say I’ve ever been able to completely tune in to the mentality of a small boy- not my forte- however I love reading about their adventures and thought processes because it gives me a little inkling into how my father or husband once saw the world (though neither grew up in these same conditions!).  Anthony is charming in his naivety regarding the stranger that ends up living with them and yet he is also brave and aware when he realises what’s really happening.  He is at the exact age when innocence is becoming awareness- a fascinating mindset.

Despite the difficult living conditions, Anthony's family displayed affection for each other and the mother's love shines through.  Though his father and siblings are stiff and formal with him I still could feel their compassion and overall the story is of love, family and perseverance and it made me smile. 


Thank you to Thomas Dunne Books for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.


Connect with Emma Kennedy:
Website     Facebook     Twitter    Goodreads

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