27 October 2009

Book Review: Jumping in Puddles by Claire Allan

Rathinch is a small Irish town with a lot of people who aren't necessarily friends, but Detta is set to change all that with her 'Single Parents' group. She wants to get them all talking, and despite their initial reluctance, they soon find themselves making steadfast friends and suprising themselves along the way too.

Niamh has just lost her husband Seán in a car accident, leaving her alone with their young twins... but is it all as it seemed for Niamh and Seán? Ruth was left along when her husband James ran off with a younger woman, leaving her mothering their 3 chilren alone... but Ruth is hiding a devastating secret she won't let get out. Liam is a single dad as it was his wife who ran off with Ruth's husband, but the pair don't talk as Liam wants his wife back. Finally, teen mum Ciara makes up the group and is unsure about hanging out with people her own mum's age. Ciara is keeping her baby's daddy a secret but is it for good reason, and will the older adults help her let go of her demons?

Can Detta help these people find friendship and confidence once more? And what is Detta's secret too?

I read and loved Claire Allan's second book Feels Like Maybe earlier this year and I absolutely loved it, so I jumped at the chance of reading Jumping In Puddles which is Claire's 3rd book. It was published in September by Irish publishers Poolbeg, and its gorgeous bright cover screams "chick lit", something I love! The book focuses on a group of friends who have their own problems, but how talking them through just might help them to get through the worst of it. Claire has the knack for writing believable characters who you can imagine are real people, and stories that are very realistic as well.

23 October 2009

Book Review: The Baby Group by Rowan Coleman

The main jist of the story is that we are introduced to the main character who is Natalie, a young successful business woman who falls pregnant after a fling with a handsome man. She keeps the baby and decides to raise him on her own, while her mother still thinks she is travelling in China!

Natalie is embarrassed about being a single parent, so takes it upon herself to invent a husband who works in Italy, but the story gets harder and harder to keep up.... with hilarious results!

She doesn't have any friends with children, and she realises that she needs to get out with her newborn son more but doesn't know where to start, much like most new mums.

By having some work done at her house, she meets her first "mummy" friend, a 16 year old girl who is wiser than her years let on. It makes Natalie realise that she needs some friends, and attends a baby class where she meets another mum. The group of friends continues to grow, even including a stay-at-home dad, a nice modern inclusion! There are a wide range of characters from a teenage mum Jess, a single mum who is Natalie, a SAHD; Steve and an experienced mum whose life starts to fall apart around her; Meg. The book is very well written, and the variety of characters makes for interesting reading and it is nice to see different types of people coming together with a similar interest.

22 October 2009

Book Review: Second Time Lucky by Sophie King

Once Bridgewater House was the stately home of Lord Pearmain. Now, however, the house has been divided into separate residences for financial purposes. The Lord is forced to live in one of the humble apartments alongside his newly acquired housemates, among them a newly-divorced mother-of-three, a legendary screen goddess of the 1940s, and an American PhD student. Over an eventful year their children, a burglar, a friendly dog, a very capable cleaner, and at least one ghost will transform all of the residents' lives.

The story follows the lives of the residents of Bridgewater House, an old mansion which has been converted by developers into smaller individual flats.It begins by telling us the story of Louise, who is moving out of her family home with her 3 children Nick, Tim and Justine after her marriage has fallen apart.She is moving into Bridgewater House, and her children are not necessarily pleased about it.We quickly meet another resident of Bridgewater House, Mollie DeMay, a famous elderly actress who has been recently widowed. She still sees her husband in her head, much to the annoyance and worry of her son Nigel. Marcie, another home-owner, is a young American woman desperately trying to have a baby with her English husband David. She does not get on with her step-children but her husband does not see the dire treatment she gets from them, leaving you to feel somewhat sympathetic to poor Marcie.

20 October 2009

Book Review: Expecting Emily by Clare Dowling

Emily is expecting. She is 34 weeks pregnant, her ankles are swollen, her hair is falling out and she's worried about the baby. Now she's been passed over for partnership in the firm of solicitors where she puts in more than 48 hours a week. And if that weren't enough it looks as if her husband, the piano-playing Conor, may have been running his fingers over more than the ivories while on tour in Germany. Depressed, demoted and about to deliver, Emily's not going to take this lying down... 

The cover of Expecting Emily had a quote by Cathy Kelly saying the novel was "Very funny and original" and I thought that was a good sign since I very much enjoy reading Cathy Kelly. The book started introducing us to the main character, a heavily pregnant Emily Collins. The first scenes in the book take place in an ante-natal ward of a hospital in Cork so we know straight away Emily is pregnant, and this is what the whole book is centred around.Emily has a husband, Connor, and the two of them are not getting on as well as Emily would like, especially considering she is carrying their child. She finds out a secret about her husband which rocks the boat of their marriage, and Emily doesn't know if she wants to be around her husband after his life-shattering secrets comes out.

15 October 2009

Book Review: Coming Home by Patricia Scanlan

Alison Dunwoody thought she had it all - a great job, good salary and a great life in New York City. But when the recession hits, Alison is shocked to find that she's lost her job. She's too embarassed to tell her family, and instead decides to fly home to Ireland and have Christmas with her parents, sister and 3 gorgeous nieces.

Alison loves the feeling of being back home, but misses her new friend Jack from New York - he knows about her job loss and she can confide in him. Will Alison be able to keep her secret away from her family for her holiday? Or is Coming Home exactly what Alison needs to make her feel happy again?

I have enjoyed a few Patricia Scanlan novels in the past, but I haven't read anything by her in a while now. I am a bit partial to anything festive so when I saw that her latest book was going to be based on the Christmas season, I couldn't wait to read it. The cover is a little old-fashioned, with a Christmas wreath on a door, but the small hardback makes a perfect little gift and seems like a sweet little book you can pop into your bag to read anywhere. It's not very long, only just over 200 or so pages but its plenty for a short and sweet read.

13 October 2009

Book Review: Confessions of a Reluctant Recessionista by Amy Silver

Cassie Cavanagh is pretty happy. She's got a good job as a PA that keeps her in designer shoes and a nice flat, a great boyfriend and great friends too. But Cassie soon finds herself made redundant from the job with a huge credit card debt... oh and her boyfriend has dumped her as well.

Together with her flatmate xx, Cassie has to learn to live on a budget for the first time in her life, and stick to it. But Cassie isn't used to not picking out what she wants in a shop, or buying a new outfit just because she wants to.

The recession is coming to bite her on the bum, and Cassie needs to really become thrifty... can this recessionista cut her debt, and get her life back on track?

In the current uncertain economic climate, this book is certainly one that will strike a chord with people all over the country. It looks to introduce us to a girl who has it all - the job, the friends, the guy - and then its going to be taken away from her leaving her with a scary debt and having to control her spendaholic ways. It does sound familiar, we've had a book about a Shopaholic before of course by the brilliant Sophie Kinsella, so I was intrigued to see how Amy Silver would tackle this subject from a slightly different angle and bring something new to the "spendaholic" genre.

8 October 2009

Book Review: Heaven Can Wait by Cally Taylor

Lucy Brown has got it all - a great fiancé, her perfect wedding is all planned and her life is just how she wants it. She's all set to marry Dan, but then the unthinkable happens - Lucy dies. She wakes up in limbo and is offered a choice - she can go up to heaven for eternity, or return to earth as ghost, and therefore be around Dan once more.

Lucy misses Dan terribly and decides she must stay with him, but she doesn't bank on having to complete a mission first. Lucy must find the soulmate of computer geek Archibald, a huge in itself... let alone in only a few days! Will Lucy do it and manage to become a ghost or is she destined to a life without Dan?

This is a book I have been wanting to read for a long time. It's not usually the sort of thing I read as I tend not to like anything "supernatural" or unrealistic, but I had heard such good things about Cally Taylor's debut that I just couldn't wait. Finally my copy arrived this week and I eagerly started to read as I wanted to make my mind up about whether I was going to devour it or wait a while. 100 pages later, I realised I was hooked, and didn't stop until it was finished. Cally Taylor has previously written short stories for magazines etc but this is her first novel, and thats what makes this even more outstanding for me.

6 October 2009

Book Review: Naked Truths by Jo Carnegie

jo carnegie naked truthsCaro and Benedict were happily settled in the village of Churchminster, but Benedict's job means they have to move to London, something Caro isn't too keen on. They find them in the small mews that Benedict owns, and Caro soon grows to love life in the mews and her neighbours too. There's Sebastien and Klaus, recluse Rowena who has never been seen, and Saffron and Velda, a niece and aunt. Caro begins to make friends with her new neighbours, and finds that some of her old neighbours from Churchminster are closer than she thinks. Caro is happy at last, but another bump in the road is yet to come...

Magazine editor Catherine loves her job, and also her new PA Harriet who is a god send, but Catherine is hiding a big secret that would ruin her reputation if it got out. When old boyfriend John comes back on the scene, she's worried about it coming out. How far is Catherine willing to go to keep her past buried and all colleagues in the dark about it? And what is the big secret she's hiding?

3 October 2009

Book Review: The Xmas Factor by Annie Sanders

The Xmas Factor was a great book to read during December because it is of course based around the magical time of Christmas. It tells us the tale of two mothers getting ready for Christmas and all the stress, trials and tribulations which come with it. Carol is a well-respected magazine editor, who has recently been taken off her incredibly magazine Style and told to edit the failing Women's Monthly. Carol has a young son called Tim, a lively 8 year old who misses his mum terribly when she has to work all hours to get her magazines to press.

Beth is spending her first proper Christmas with her new husband Jacob. However Beth is living in the shadow of Jacob's deceased wife Becca, whose stamp is still all over the house. Jacob's children Noel and the prickly Holly are coming to stay for Christmas with their respective partners. But she has been talked into hosting her village's Mistletoe Meet. So she has an entire village to impress, two step-children to befriend, not to mention keeping up with her job.

2 October 2009

Author Interview: Matt Dunn

I've always read books by women because generally male authors don't tend to write the sort of books I like to read. However, that changed for me when I picked up a copy of From Here to Paternity by Matt Dunn, I loved it! I then seeked out more of his books and loved both The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook and Ex-Girlfriend's United, and Leah just read and loved his latest book The Good Bride Guide. Matt's books are funny, easy to read and very enjoyable and Leah and I would thoroughly recommend them if you haven't already stumbled across Matt's books! I was thrilled to find out Matt was willing to do an interview with us, so here it is... with a little gossip about his 6th book too and the possible return of Ed and Dan!

Q1. Tell us about your latest book.
It's called The Good Bride Guide. Ben Grant is a struggling artist - and struggling to find a woman he can settle down with. With his best friend Ashif about to enter into an arranged marriage, Ben decides to enlist the help of his parents and asks them to find a bride for him. With some interesting results.

Q2. According to your website, you've had lots of jobs before becoming an author? What made you turn your hand to writing novels?
I always knew that I wanted to write. The other jobs were just a way of gaining a bit more life experience (and money!) until I could finally concentrate on writing.