17 December 2009

Book Review: The ChristmasCookie Club by Ann Pearlman

Every year, Marnie and her 12 friends meet for the annual meeting of The Cookie Club which happens on the first Monday of December every year without fail. The friends have been there for each other through a lot of ups and downs, and that's not about the change any time soon.

During the meeting, lots of secrets are revealed that shock the friends to the core. Marnie is waiting to hear from her pregnant daughter Sky about whether the baby is viable, Charlene is still struggling to get over the death of her son Luke, Tracey is hiding a huge secret from all but a few of her friends, Jeannie and Ruth are still enemies over the discovery of another friend's betrayal that has torn their friendship apart, and Rosie has to decide which is more important - her marriage or her need for children.

Together the friends help each other get through their problems, and show each other how important it is to have friends who are there for you no matter what. Their lives are all woven together as they await anxiously for news of Marnie's grandchild and pass around the cookies for another year, but what secrets are going to be revealed once and for all?

Although this is author Ann Pearlman's debut fictional novel, Ann has actually written a personal memoir which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize called Infidelity. Ann has now turned her hand to writing fiction, and this book was released in America under the title of The Christmas Cookie Club. Presumably, the publishers have had to change it because they couldn't get it out as a pre-Christmas release, but due to the nature of the plot it makes it a good read all year round, even if the action does take place in December in the book.

12 December 2009

Book Review: She'll Take It by Mary Carter

"She'll Take It" tells us the story of Melanie Zeitgar, a woman living in New York City with dreams of becoming a world famous actress. But Melanie has a downfall...she has a penchant for stealing things. Not enormously expensive items you understand, just the odd sweater from Barneys or the odd pillow from the Homewares shop. But Melanie can't stop, even when a man comes into her life whose job in life is to help shops detect thieves. Will he suss out Melanie? And more importantly, will Melanie be able to curb her stealing habit?

I instantly warmed to the main character in this book, Melanie. She is hilariously written, and despite the fact she is a serial thief, I really liked her, even when she was stealing! She was hilarious because it was clear she knew what she was doing was very wrong, but she managed to find a rational way of thinking which would help her to steal! She also started each chapter with the sentence "This is how Im going to die" and then relayed some ridiculous tale of how she would perish. I was actually crying with laughter at points in this book, it was simply hilarious.

Author Interview: Anna Davis

Anna Davis caught my eye recently when I read her latest book The Jewel Box, and loved it. It's set in the 1920's and follows copywriter/journalist Grace Rutherford as she struggles with her feelings for two men, and also to fight the expectations on women in the 20's too. I found it a fascinating read, and was really impressed with the amount of research that must have gone into it. Anna was kind enough to grant us an Author Interview, so here it is!

1. Tell us about your latest book.

Set in London in 1927, The Jewel Box is the story of Grace Rutherford, an advertising copywriter by day, a flapper extraordinaire and newspaper gossip columnist by night under the pen name Diamond Sharp.  At a party, Grace meets and falls for Dexter O'Connell, a charismatic American writer.  Later that same night she finds herself attracted to the dashing John Cramer.  Drawn to both men, Grace discovers they are bitter enemies, and is quickly drawn into a web of secrets and lies.  Which man, if either, can she trust?

The Jewel Box is about love and lies.  It's about falling in love with two people at once.  And it's also about our relationships with our own past -  the elements of our past we're not proud of and how they come back to haunt us.

9 December 2009

Book Review: The Wish List by Martina Reilly

Allie and Tony have had their ups and downs throughout their marriage, but nothing prepares Allie for the awful shock she gets when she answers the door one day. Suddenly, the future, the home and the life she shares with Tony and their two sons Mark and Owen are uncertain and Allie doesn't know what to do.

Allie's eldest son Mark is inquisitive and wants to know what is going on with his dad, but isn't convinced by their fibs. He befriends the man who lives next door, Jeremy, and is pleasantly surprised by his secret - Jeremy is really Santa Claus! Mark confides his every worry in him but Jeremy is worried about to handle this messed up little boy. Is Allie going to realise that Mark is more troubled than she thinks, or is the worry about Tony all consuming, and will it destroy their family for good?

I've been a fan of Martina Reilly's book ever since I read her older work under the name of Tina Reilly quite a few years ago now. I also passed on several books of hers to my mum who also loves Reilly's work now, so she is definitely an author who appeals across the age ranges. The wish list is her fourth novel under her more serious moniker of Martina Reilly, and is out in large paperback, with the UK smaller paperback due out in January 2010. Reilly always deals with serious themes and issues in her books, and The Wish List is no different, covering topics from drug abuse to the effect this has on young children.

7 December 2009

Book Review: Eastern Promise by Jessica Fox

Priya Gupta is a bit cynical when it comes to matters relating to love and fate. So when at her best friends hen night Priya is told she has to see a clairvoyant, she's not happy and is determined not to believe anything that the pyschic tells her. Strangely though, Priya comes away with just one message: "In matters of love, mother knows best". Priya doesn't believe a word, and carries on with her life.

Priya's sister Neesh is getting married and is making a big song and dance about it too. The Gupta family are about to return to India for the wedding of the century, and Priya is going to keep working throughout. At the Ashram, Priya meets Noah and finds herself attracted to him. As well as finding out what is exactly is going on at the Ashram, Priya has to contend with her new feelings for Noah and her sisters wedding. Is it going to be proven that her mother knows best after all?

This book is the second of Jessica Fox's The Hen Night Prophecies series. The first book is called The One That Got Away but they are all stand alone stories so not something you will have to read in succession. In fact, I was surprised at the lack of mention of other characters at the hen night throughout the book - they appear at the beginning for the scene with the clairvoyant, but then the book moves into the life of Priya and we don't hear another word about the Hens or the hen night except for a brief  mention at Priya's party. I was pleased about this because obviously I was starting at the second book, not the first but still I was surprised at the lack of story with the hens.

5 December 2009

Author Interview: Patricia Scanlan

Patricia Scanlan is one of the biggest names in women's fiction, and has held her place at the top for a good many years now. I first heard of Patricia because my mum absolutely loves her books, and is always trying to get me to read the City Girl trilogy which I must find the time to read! I recently had the pleasure of reading Patricia's latest book, a Christmas themed title called Coming Home. It was a lovely read, and Patricia was kind enough to do an interview with us, so here it is!

Q1. Tell us about your latest book "Coming Home".

Coming Home is about two sisters who have different perceptions about each other’s lives, Alison Dunwoody’s high flying financial career is on the skids when she’s made jobless due to the financial melt-down, her Upper East Side apartment is now way beyond her means and she’s far from financially secure. But pride prevents her from telling her family back home. Her sister Olivia is finding it difficult to juggle family, career, caring for their elderly uncle, trying to make preparations for Christmas and organize a surprise party for her mother’s seventieth birthday. She envies and sometimes resents Alison whom she thinks has a great life in New York. Coming home is the last thing Alison wants to do especially now that she’s met a rather dishy, sexy, down to earth neighbour who doesn’t believe in ‘non exclusive dating’ unlike her wealthy boyfriend, Jonathan. But family ties are strong and Alison comes home and gets to really know her family again especially her young nieces who are having a magical time, stirring the puddings and making wishes, lighting the candle in the window on Christmas Eve, performing their Nativity play in Church on Christmas Morning, after the excitement of Santa’s arrival, and having a very merry Christmas dinner. Alison comes to realise that the love of her family is far more important than wealth and success, Olivia recognizes how lucky she is to have a happy marriage and three lovely children and how great it’s been to have her sister home to share good times with their parents. At the end of the day, family is more important than anything.

1 December 2009

Book Review: The Good Divorce Guide by Cristina Odone

Rosie Martin thought everything was fine with her marriage to Jonathan, until she discovers a text on his phone that makes it clear he's having an affair. Rosie is shocked to find out Jonathan loves her, and he soon leaves their marital home to set up with Linda. They decide that they have to divorce, but want to remain friendly for the sake of the children.

As the divorce progresses, both Rosie and Jonathan realise they have to work harder at making their divorce a good one than they thought. When Rosie meets not one but two men that are interested in her, she's unsure what to do and if she should wait to find another man, or just try it out for size. Will Roie and Jonathan be able to have the good divorce they want, and accept each other's new partners once and for all?

I first came across Cristina Odone when I read her debut novel The Dilemmas of Harriet Carew last year, and to be honest it wasn't the best read of the year for me, I found it hard to sympathise with and didn't enjoy the read at all. Still, I was willing to give her another go, and so got a copy of her new book The Good Divorce Guide. It was a Sainsburys Book Club read last month, and it did sound like a good book so I hoped it would be an improvement on her debut. Odone also writes for newspapers too so has experience of writing, which makes it even stranger that I didn't like her writing style and couldn't get into her books at all.