Friendship Bread – Review

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One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others.

Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life. She’d just as soon toss the anonymous gift, but to make Gracie happy, she agrees to bake the bread.

When Julia meets two newcomers to the small town of Avalon, Illinois, she sparks a connection by offering them her extra bread starter. Widow Madeline Davis is laboring to keep her tea salon afloat while Hannah Wang de Brisay, a famed concert cellist, is at a crossroads, her career and marriage having come to an abrupt end. In the warm kitchen of Madeline’s tea salon, the three women forge a friendship that will change their lives forever.

In no time, everyone in Avalon is baking Amish Friendship Bread. But even as the town unites for a benevolent cause and Julia becomes ever closer to her new friends, she realizes the profound necessity of confronting the painful past she shares with her sister.

About life and loss, friendship and community, food and family, Friendship Bread tells the uplifting story of what endures when even the unthinkable happens.

Friendship Bread is the sort of feel good story that would work beautifully for a book club choice or as a gift to a great girl friend. This is a book to be shared. Friendship Bread is reminiscent of such great girly reads as Fried Green Tomatoes and The Jane Austen Book Club. Uplifting, funny, sweet, at times sad and always entertaining Friendship Bread will have you wanting to bake the bread and share it with your friends.

I started this book and I could not stop ! I didn’t want to do anything till I finished it. I had to go out and I was annoyed that I had to put it down. This is such a beautiful heart warming story. I really enjoyed the way Darien Gee wove the story, with chapters devoted to many characters this book just draws you in. Each chapter is almost like a story within a story. I found myself wishing it was longer simply so I could learn more about the quirky characters of Avalon.

The story begins with Julia Evarts, her story is heart breaking and beautiful. Told in a simple style Julia’s story will have you weeping with her tragedies and cheering as she finds her way back into the world. Her discovery of this strange gift brings her out into the world after shutting herself off after the death of her son. She meets some wonderful new friends and starts to see that there is life after tragedy.

Readers will fall in love with Julia and her new friends and the beautiful little town of Avalon. This is a book to be shared over and over again. Give it to the women in your life, share the gift of this beautiful story, your friends will thank you.

Like me I know many readers will be very happy to discover that Darien Gee has thoughtfully included recipes for the starter for Friendship Bread, instructions on how to make it and of course variations of the recipe too. I know I will definitely be attempting to make this bread after reading the story. I hope everyone enjoys this book as much as I did, it really is a beautiful story that makes you feel happy to have friends to share it with.



Summer In The City – Review

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Following the success of the The Carrie Diaries the prequel to her multi award-winning Sex And The City,Candace Bushnell brings us a little more of the early years of Carrie and the girls in New York City. The latest instalment in what looks set to be a series is called, Summer In The City.

Summer is a magical time in New York City and Carrie is in love with all of it—the crazy characters in her neighborhood, the vintage-clothing boutiques, the wild parties, and the glamorous man who has swept her off her feet. Best of all, she’s finally in a real writing class, taking her first steps toward fulfilling her dream.

This sequel to The Carrie Diaries brings surprising revelations as Carrie learns to navigate her way around the Big Apple, going from being a country “sparrow”—as Samantha Jones dubs her— to the person she always wanted to be. But as it becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile her past with her future, Carrie realizes that making it in New York is much more complicated than she ever imagined.

With her signature wit and sparkling humor, Candace Bushnell reveals the irresistible story of how Carrie met Samantha and Miranda, and what turned a small-town girl into one of New York City’s most unforgettable icons, Carrie Bradshaw.

I am a huge fan of Sex And The City, I have watched every episode of the show more times than I care to admit, I have seen both movies far too many times as well. I am such a fan that when they released the first ever box set of the show on dvd (in a limited edition shoe box no less) I didn’t buy just one but two yes two. (I gave one away as a gift, im not a complete freak) anyway I digress….

I am a huge fan of Candace Bushnell I loved the original book that spawned the series so you can imagine my psychotic fan girl joy when I heard that there was a prequel. The Carrie Diaries was great although a little young. Well only yesterday I picked up the next instalment and I have barely stopped since I picked it up.

Now I will attempt to keep my fan girl crush to a minimum here but I have to say I loved it ! This is not a great work of literary genius but it is ridiculously enjoyable. For fans of the show this a great back story to the characters we have come to know and love. While the target audience for this book is fans of the show I do find it more suited to the Young Adult genre. This certainly isn’t the type of content people have come to expect from Candace Bushnell.

This is a great fun easy read that gives you a little more insight into the characters you love and is a nice way to waste a few hours fantasising about New York, fashion and fun.



A Discovery Of Witches – Review


It begins with absence and desire

It begins with blood and fear

It begins with a discovery of witches…..

When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library it represents an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. Though descended from a long line of witches, she is determined to remain untouched by her family’s legacy. She banishes the manuscript to the stacks, but Diana finds it impossible to hold the world of magic at bay any longer.For witches are not the only otherworldly creatures living alongside humans.

 There are also creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires who become interested in the witch’s discovery. They believe that the manuscript contains important clues about the past and the future, and want to know how Diana Bishop has been able to get her hands on the elusive volume.

 Chief among the creatures who gather around Diana is vampire Matthew Clairmont, a geneticist with a passion for Darwin. Together, Diana and Matthew embark on a journey to understand the manuscript’s secrets. But the relationship that develops between the ages-old vampire and the spellbound witch threatens to unravel the fragile peace that has long existed between creatures and humans—and will certainly transform Diana’s world as well.

A Discovery of Witches has been referred to as Twilight for adults. While I can see why this assumption is made it leaves me questioning, did the people who make that reference actually read the book? This book is so much more than just a romance between two people who shouldn’t be together.

A Discovery of Witches blends romance, history, genetics, alchemy, ancient books, magic, wine, supernatural race relations, evolution and so much more. This is a fascinating book that has everything a good novel needs to grab a reader’s attention and hold it.

Diana is a complex character that at first I found frustrating, she refuses to use her powers (why would you?) but towards the end of the book the reason behind her stubbornness is revealed and my frustration turned to understanding. She is the perfect female protagonist, strong-willed, stubborn and headstrong she leaves the whiny Bella Swan’s in her wake. This is a powerful female who should not be underestimated.

Then we have Matthew Clairmont the dark, brooding and at times moody vampire that looks set to steal Diana’s heart and turn the world of supernatural creatures upside down. Matthew is rich, handsome and best of all an educated articulate MAN yes I say man in capitals because it such a nice departure from all the teen characters we have had to endure for so long.

Fate brings Diana and Matthew together but the Congregation threatens to drive them apart. There are rules you see and the Congregation is there to uphold them. Diana and Matthew’s love could destroy everything.

Diana must fight to learn her magic and practice her once dormant skills as a witch and Matthew must fight to save the woman he loves. Packed full of action and romance A Discovery of Witches will take the reader on a magical journey to France, England and beyond. Let yourself get swept up in Diana and Matthew’s story you won’t be disappointed.

A Discovery Of Witches is book one in the All Souls trilogy By Deborah Harkness, book two is due for release in 2012.

A romp through magical academia’ Guardian

‘Romantic, erudite, and suspenseful’ O, The Oprah Magazine

‘A bubbling cauldron of illicit desire…all the ingredients for an assured saga that blends romance with fantasy’ Daily Mail

Stolen Innocence – Review

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Stolen Innocence is the story of Elissa Wall, it is a story of courage, hope and devotion. Elissa’s story is not uncommon nor is it a story that you haven’t heard before, but that is what makes it so startlingly tragic. Elissa tells the story of her life in a polygamist sect run by Warren Jeffs the self appointed leader or prophet of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints.

Elissa knows no other life, she was born into the FLDS and she has been raised under the strict religious doctrine that all members must live by. She is taught never to dream more for herself than a life inside the compound and to get married and be a faithful wife.

But like anyone Elissa dares to dream that life has more in store for her and so she sets her course, one that will take her far away from her family and the only life she has ever known.

Set to be married to a man much older than her at only fourteen years old Elissa knows she must find a way to escape this life and make her way in to the world. As Elissa is forced to conform to her life, her mind is screaming for freedom but what will she have to give up in order to break free?

Heartbreaking, terrifying and completely gripping Elissa’s story will have you cheering for her as she plots her escape and biting you nails waiting to know if she makes it out safely. This is a fantastic story of courage and a message of hope to all the women still trapped inside the FLDS compound.

As tragic as it is there is a silver lining to the dark clouds surrounding the early years of Elissa’s life and her attempts at love and ultimate happiness will leave everyone who reads this book with a belief that everyone has hope, no matter how desperate things may seem.

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Attachments – Review

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I was very kindly given Attachments by Rainbow Rowell as an advance reading copy at this years Independent Booksellers Conference in March. It is set to be released in June of this year and it is set to be BIG ! It is being published by the great team at Hachette and true to form this book is another stellar choice from the Hachette team !

Now I have to admit I have a bit of a soft spot for a nice rom/com, and Attachments sure fits that bill. Yet it’s so much more than that. It’s a beautifully written look at a group of people, how their lives entwine and what the future holds for them all. Attachments is a great fuzzy read that will make you smile and gush to anyone who will listen about how wonderful it is.

Attachments is the story of Lincoln, he’s kind of dorky, a little weird, quiet, shy and reserved and to top it off he is a computer geek. In short he is adorably goofy and you will fall in love with him. Lincoln works for a newspaper in the IT department, he spies on colleagues emails and he hates it. Until he starts reading emails between Beth and Jennifer and suddenly Lincoln’s job becomes a lot less mundane.

Beth and Jennifer are friends and colleagues on the paper and their email antics will have you in stitches. Lincoln is drawn into Beth and Jennifer’s world and once he starts reading he can’t stop. He knows its wrong and he feels bad about it, but he can’t help himself. He should turn them in for abusing company policy, but they seem so nice, so fun, he just keeps reading.

One day Beth reveals she has a crush on a “hot” guy at work. Jennifer of course doesn’t believe that its even remotely possible that there is a half decent looking man anywhere in the offices. But Beth is smitten, she has her eye on him. Lincoln is intrigued, who is this guy that has Beth so enchanted ?

Read the emails that fly back and forth between Jennifer and Beth and get lost in their story, it is truly delightful. Readers will love Lincoln with all his strange quirks and geeky habits. And everyone will relate to Jennifer and Beth, they are such beautifully written real characters.

For me Attachments was reminiscent of such  great modern rom/com’s as One Day by David Nicholls and Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding. But don’t start to think that you have this book figured out. Just when you think you know where the story is going it twists and turns and takes you places you really didn’t expect.

I absolutely adored Attachments and so will everyone who reads it. It’s the type of book that you start mentally casting in your mind. I could picture the characters in my mind so clearly as I read it. I really hope that this gets optioned for a film as it would be a truly beautiful movie.

Attachments is the sort of story that you read frantically, you rush through the pages, racing to the end to see how it all ends. This is a book to devour in one sitting. You will laugh and cry and laugh some more. This is the sort of story that is like a modern-day fairytale but its infinitely believable. Never over the top or silly Attachments is witty, well written, fast paced and has the best dialogue I’ve read in a long time.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell is the book everyone is falling in love with, make sure you fall in love with it too ! The only thing that you will want after reading it is to start reading it again. It really is that great !



Don’t Tell – Review

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This book was outstanding! I have read a lot of crime books and I am so happy to discover another female author who is absolutely fantastic at her craft. After growing up on a solid diet of Patricia Cornwell and Linda Fairstein, Karen Rose is the next author who I will be reading everything I can get my hands on.

I started reading Don’t Tell and I didn’t stop until I was finished, it is absolutely gripping. Karen Rose manages to do what so few can, mix human drama, crime and romance and do it all with such style that it leaves you wanting more and more.

Don’t Tell is the story of Mary grace a woman abused at the hands of her Police Officer husband. After nine years and countless injuries, one of which leaves her almost crippled and convalescing in hospital for three months, Mary Grace decides enough is enough and makes the very brave decision to run.

She packs herself and her Son up and runs to a secret women’s shelter to begin a new life with a new identity. Armed with a new identity in a new town, she and her son have found refuge hundreds of miles away.

As Caroline Stewart, she has almost forgotten the nightmare she left behind nine years ago. She is even taking a chance on love with Max Hunter, a man with wounds of his own. Until the secret she thought was buried forever comes back to haunt her and her ex husband comes after her to shatter the new life she has built.

Utterly absorbing reading Don’t Tell will have you on the edge of your seat till the very last page. I am always excited to discover new authors that really make me feel excited and Karen Rose has that in spades. I no sooner finished Don’t Tell than I was down at work buying her back catalogue so I could read them as well.

This is really well written, high drama crime writing. Lovers of gritty crime fiction will adore this book and all Karen Rose’s others as well. She really is a fantastic writer. The beauty of reading Karen Rose compared to other writers in the crime genre is that she does not fall in to the trap of writing to the same formula over and over.

Each novel is distinctly different and equally thrilling. Do yourself a favour if you haven’t already read Karen Rose then get out to your local bookstore as soon as you can, I promise you wont be disappointed.



Past The Shallows – Review

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Past the Shallows is the début novel from emerging writer Favel Parrett. It is the story of two young boys growing up in a small seaside fishing village on the wild Tasmanian coast.

Miles the elder of the two brothers is starting to learn the ropes in their fathers abalone diving business and Harry is tagging along behind under the ever watchful eye of Miles.The journey begins with Harry playing on the beach and searching for the elusive treasure of shark eggs while Miles surfs the frigid cold waters of the Tasmanian coast.

Stunning in its simplicity Past the Shallows uses the voices of Miles and Harry to draw you in to the story. Readers will fall in love with these two young boys. They are daring and adventurous and share a bond that only two brothers could ever fully comprehend. This is a story that grabs you from the first paragraph and doesn’t let go until the final page.

The gentle lilting flow of Past the Shallows is soothing and yet simultaneously chilling. Readers will be drawn into the world of Harry and Miles the way generations have fallen in love with characters like Scout in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Holden Caulfield in J.D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

Favel Parrett has a rare ability to write in clean simple language filled with stunning imagery that seems to dance across your mind, all the while drawing you deeper in to the struggle and inner turmoil of her characters almost before you are aware that it is happening.

This book will leave readers breathless with anticipation, hanging on every word until its final blinding conclusion. Anyone who reads Past the Shallows will be changed by the experience. It is a stunning novel that will enchant, delight, horrify and confuse the senses.

A timeless tale of family bonds, love, despair, loss and the struggle to survive, Past the Shallows is a masterpiece of modern fiction and will stay with everyone who reads it. Fall in love with Harry and Miles and feel your heartstrings being pulled at every turn.

This a novel to devour in one sitting just to finish it and start to the first page and read it again. It will have a lot of readers wishing they could bundle Harry up and take him home for sandwiches and milo. And believing in the power of love to rise above anything that tries to get in its way.

Past the Shallows is a heartbreakingly beautiful novel from an author I hope we will be hearing from again very soon.



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