Review of Bookends by Jane Green @JaneGreen @PenguinUKBooks #uplit #chiclit #review #UK #US #bookshops #books #friendship #kindness #food

Bookends
By Jane Green
Rated: 4 stars ****

About the Author

JANE GREEN IS THE AUTHOR OF TWENTY NOVELS, INCLUDING SEVENTEEN NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERS, ONE COOKBOOK, AND VARIOUS SHORT STORIES.

She is published in over 25 languages, and has over ten million books in print worldwide. She has been part of the ABC News team, has had her own radio show on BBC Radio London, and has made regular appearances on TV and radio.
She contributes to a number of newspapers and magazines, and has a weekly column in The Lady magazine, England’s longest running weekly magazine.
A graduate of the International Culinary Institute in New York, Green is an avid cook, amateur decorator, and passionate gardener. She is also a regular storyteller for The Moth.
A resident of Westport, Connecticut, she lives there with her husband, a small menagerie of animals, and (too) many children.

Blurb

On the shelf, but still best friends . . .

Bookends CoverCath is scatty, messy and guarded. While Si is impossibly tidy, bitchy and desperate for a man of his own. They are total opposites – but equally unlucky in love. And they’ve stuck together through thick and thin. Because that’s what best friends do.

So when their beautiful friend Portia – the undisputed queen of their group of friends at university – steps back into their lives, after a ten year gap, her reappearance tests both Cath and Si’s friendship to the limit.

What does Portia want? Will she be a force for good in their lives, or something darker? And will Cath and Si ever get lucky in love?

 

Review

This isn’t a brand new book, it is one I have read a few times and felt like reviewing as I raided my shelves in my book cupboard. Being published in 2000, it has topical themes and all the themes of life don’t really change and it still feels as fresh and relevant as it did then. It can still be bought and may be on some library shelves. It is interesting that the cover has changed a few times over the years. Below are some of the UK (top 3) and US (bottom 2) cover versions.

This story takes readers on life’s journey with main character Cath along with Si – her great friend, Josh – her transient friend and Portia – her soulmate. This at the beginning is how she saw these main people who are in her social circle at university.

Portia is the first character to be really introduced. She comes from a rich background and Cath had assumed all was perfect when they were students, except its readers will soon learn that was perhaps not quite so. Cath, Si and Josh drift away from her as she hurt other friends of theres.

Si is a film editor in Soho and wants to find his Mr Right. Whether there is the perfect romance for him or not, you’ll just have to find out by reading the book. He certainly looks for it and I always find myself rooting for him.

Josh works within mergers and acquisitions and within this circle of friends. He is also married to Lucy, but is suspected of having an affair.

Cath is single after a 2 year distasterous relationship where she decides not to open herself up to love ever again, although whether she sticks to that vow she makes to herself or not remains to be seen.

Si is like a great best friend, he is written a bit like on a wish list of friends. He is written as caring for Cath and a lover of fashion and tries to perk her up on Bond Street, London. He also has a wonderful sense of humour. He can be moody at times and that would be frustrating. The characterisation of Si is excellent.

Lucy and Cath set up a bookshop together that’s made of so many people’s dreams. Lots of lovely books and a cafe area with the most scrumptious sounding cakes and pastries. What’s not to like? A book about frienship and how everyone interacts with each other and their lives and this lovely bookshop. The book is simply so wonderful and that is why I wanted to re-read it.

There’s romance and twists and this book is compelling. It’s one to devour and is so hard to put down once started, everything about it is so divine. The more the book goes on the more the characters almost enthrall and then there’s Portia who is mysterious and the question of what she really wants builds. She has some sort of effect on everyone’s lives one way or another.

There’s really shockingly sad heartbreak that is handled so sensitively and so believable. I won’t say to whom or what it is as it would spoil the story.

This book has everything in it. I enjoy Jane Green’s books but thus far this is my favourite of hers and one I am certain to return to again.

Uplit is the latest buzz word in literature and this book has kindness, friendship and although there is heartbreak, there are enough elements that will lift people’s spirits too.

Jane’s latest book is called The Friends We Keep and was published on June 4th 2019.

A Book for Each Day of the Week #TheStrawberryThief @Joannechocolat #SummerattheKindnessCafe @Vicky_Walters #TheHangryHamster #SealedWithADeath @JamesSilvester1 #TheLongestFarewell @nulasuchet @johnsuchet1 #summer #bookish #crime #kidslit #romance #France #UK #Thriller #summerreads #review Resume of Reviews of 7 Great Books for Summer and Beyond

A resume of 7 great books I have read over the summer and beyond.

I have read and reviewed a number of books this summer. I thought I would give a quick resume of 7 of them. Full reviews are also in my blog. I have also provided individual links to the full reviews. Please do take a look, you may be inspired or reminded of a good book.

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris – Fiction

Strawberry thief

The Strawberry Thief is the latest part of the Chocolat series, written by Joanne Harris

This book sees Vianne Rocher back in Lansquenette-Sous Tannes during Easter with strawberries and chocolate filling the senses. There’s also a change in the wind as there is excellent writing, truth and emotion in the writing as Anouk has grown up and flown the nest. This is in contrast to Rosette who cannot do this part of life.
Roux still lives on the boat, preferring his own company and there is a new character called Morgane Dubois.
The writing of the wind is beautifully descriptive and tells the reader there’s much more than just the wind to come and that it is meaningful. The growing up of children who fly the nest and set up their own lives is relatable. The book will arouse anyone’s senses and emotions. It is just as good as the previous 3 books within this series. The descriptive writing is atmospheric and adds to the intrigue as to how this book will end.

Note, there is also an added afterward about Joanne’s own experience of her daughter leaving home and there is a poignant, well-written short story in print copies only of this book that are well-worth reading.

Link below:

https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/2019/06/02/the-strawberry-thief-by-joanne-harris-an-exquisite-atmospheric-and-poignant-book-5-stars-joannechocolat-orionbooks-gigicroft-thestrawberrythief-review-newbook-waterstones

 

Summer at the Kindness Cafe by Victoria Walters – Fiction

Summer at Kindess Cover (1)

Enter Brew – Kindness Cafe this summer and you won’t be disappointed. Enter Brew and be inspired to do your own random acts of kindness this summer, like the three women within this story.

Abbie Morgan is the main protagonist and is forced to leave London after being made redundant, something so relatable to many people.
Within the book there are sections called “Notes from the Brew Kindness Board”. This may inspire some people to follow-suit and do random acts of kindness. Get to know the characters and their personalities and see if Acts of Kindness transforms their lives or not.
Once the story has ended, turn the page for a lovely note by the author.

Link below:

https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/2019/06/18/summer-at-the-kindness-cafe-by-victoria-walters-this-summer-be-encapsulated-in-warmth-kindness-and-life-vicky_walters-teambatc-summeratthekindnesscafe-randomthingstours-annecater-randomactof

The Hangry Hamster by Grace McCluskey – Fiction

hangry hamster

Have fun with this children’s book. Billy gets a hamster and takes him everywhere, until the hamster isn’t allowed on the plane when Billy is going abroad. The hamster gets left behind and becomes hangry and goes on an adventure through London. Take a read of this adventurous, exciting, humorous, well illustrated book, written by a child for children.

https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/2019/07/14/the-hangry-hamster-by-grace-mccluskey-a-short-action-packed-book-to-engage-and-excite

Sealed with a Death – Fiction

Sealed with a Death Book Cover

Would you like a great political thriller? Give Sealed with a Death by James Silvester a try.

This book has got to be placed up there in one of the most current book in fiction there currently is. James Silvester writes very well and at excellent pace, in conveying what is happening and mixing it with his fictional. Meet Lucie Musilova – an assassin working as part of the Overlappers Intelligence Team. Women across many countries in Europe start to disappear, Kasper Algers, an Independent MP disappears and there’s still the case as to what happened to Ines Aubel. Readers are also taken into the world of brothels and further into the world of espionage and fake passports.

The book takes us to the far right of British politics and also to France where there’s the Gilet Jaune movement and the author takes this element into Britain. There’s also a focus on the everyday prejudices, pay as well as the cuts to police resources.

I have to say, I was impressed by not just how current this book is, but also the calibre of writing, considering the time it takes to write a book, especially well and how politics moves along at the moment. The language and tone of all the characters is believable, there’s no holding back!

Link below:

https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/2019/07/15/sealed-with-a-death-by-james-silvester-jamessilvester1-urbanebooks-lovebookstours-politicalthriller-thriller-espionage-newreview-newbook

A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft – Fiction

A Summer to Remember Cover

Clancy Moss is the main character, leaving her old life to start a new one. There’s romance, there’s social, tourism and education issues that are dealt with. From beginning to end this book has so much of human life and yet it feels as light as summer, and still it skillfully has meaningful substance. It is a most enjoyable and absorbing read of break-up, romance and life’s trials and tribulations and escapism. A Summer to Remember is a book to remember this summer and for more summers to come.

Please note, there is also an added short story in physical print copies of this book that is worth reading.

Link below:

https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/2019/07/24/a-summer-to-remember-by-sue-moorcroft-a-delightful-summer-read-suemoorcroft-avonbooksuk-summer-summerreads-heatwave-review-newbooks-ebookpromo-norfolk-romance

 

Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew – Non-Fiction

zippy cover

Ronnie Le Drew is best known as being the puppeteer for Zippy in children’s TV show – Rainbow. It is a well written autobiography about becoming a puppeteer, his starting out at the The Little Angel Theatre. Some of the hard time he had to go through (not a sob-story though, it is better than that). and the people he worked with such as Jim Henson and David Bowie. Ronnie comes across as being down-to-earth as he never forgets his roots. This book is also about a bit of Rainbow scandal and what happened to the people working in it afterwards. It is nostalgic to say the least. Readers will get a look of behind the scenes of Ronnie’s puppeteer work, which makes it a fascinating read.

Link below:

https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/2019/08/02/zippy-and-me-by-ronnie-le-drew-with-duncan-barrett-and-nuala-calvi-re-visit-your-childhood-with-this-enlightening-book-about-rainbow-zippyandme-punchand-unbounders-duncanbarrett-nualacalvi-rai

The Longest Farewell by Nula Suchet – Non-Fiction

The Longest Farewell book pic

 Condensing my review down, only goes a little into what is really within the pages of this book. I will say it is a very worthy book to read, so please do take a look at the full review of it. I will also say it is the most emotional book of the summer. Nula Suchet’s husband James who, at the age of 57 had Picks disease – a form of dementia and this is chronicled very well in this book, with every heart-felt sentence. John Suchet’s wife – Bonnie also had dementia. It is heartbreaking and there is also so much love as Nula cares for James, who does go into a care home, but that is also where she meets John, who is there visiting his Bonnie. It is also about the relationship that develops between John and Nula and their travels together, that at first don’t exactly go smoothly. The writing is so amazingly strong, every aspect of the book is absorbing and all-consuming in a good way because every emotion can practically be felt and empathised and sympathised with. It is telling that it is all written from the heart and this part of both John and Nula’s life was not easy. It does however have the most happy of endings or rather shows the happiness of a continuation of their lives. 

Please do look at my full review for this book, if you haven’t done so already because just a few words only really highlights the book’s existence and a little of what it is about.

Link below:

https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/2019/08/07/the-longest-farewell-james-dementia-and-me-by-nula-suchet-nulasuchet-johnsuchet1-serenbooks-david_suchet-vicky_mcclure-the_writereads-dementia-nonfiction-review-newbook

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris – An Exquisite, atmospheric and poignant book – 5 Stars @joannechocolat @orionbooks @gigicroft #thestrawberrythief #review #NewBook #Waterstones

The Strawberry Thief
By Joanne Harris
Rating – 5 Stars

About the Author

Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy.

In 2000, her 1999 novel Chocolat was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow at St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded and MBE by the Queen.

Blurb

Everyone is different. Some of us are just more different than others…

Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-Sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her ‘special’ child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.

But when old Narcisse, the florest, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. The arrival of Narcisse’s relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist’s across the square – one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own – all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence – even perhaps a murder…

Review

The Strawberry Thief is the latest part of the Chocolat series, written by Joanne Harris (who also writes many other genres of books, which are also excellent). This book, even though, now as far as fourth in this series has been absolutely worth the wait. It’s atmospheric, emotional and exquistely written. It grabbed my attention from the very beginning and that never dissipated.

This book sees Vianne Rocher back in Lansquenette-Sous Tannes. Like in the first book – Chocolat, it is Lent and there’s now, what has become the comfortable familiar of Vianne making Easter treats. She seems a bit more accepted and settled in Lansquenet. There are familiar characters as well as the introduction of someone new.

The writing of the wind is beautifully descriptive and tells the reader there’s much more than just the wind to come and that it is meaningful.

There are the cacao beans and this time, also wild strawberries, filling the senses and emotions and there’s once again change. Change which every parent with growing children will be able to relate to. Anouk, Vianne’s daughter has, as expected, grown up and flown the nest. The words of this are filled with emotion. Rosette – Vianne’s winter child, as she calls her, is also growing and may not be able to say much, has vision and yet also what she and Vianne refer to as “accidents”.

I like how Rosette is written and the contrast between what people think, alongside their pity, in comparison to what Vianne, as her mother, feels, is well observed and as a reader, creates emotion inside.

Roux still lives on his boat, preferring to live on his own without the community of Lansquenet, that he does not trust, but is still a presence in Vianne’s life, who, lets face it, is also different, although accepted, from the people who originate in the area. This, throughout the books, for me, anyway, is very relatable to in small towns and villages. Things have evolved from Chocolat though and Reynaud is now no longer seeing her as the enemy come to spoil tradition and break “rules”, but as a friend.

There’s a new character for readers to become intrigued about – Morgane Dubois who unsettles Vianne. Joanne’s  writing certainly made me feel the uneasiness and suspicious of what would actually happen with this incomer. A sense of fear is deftly created.

There are wild strawberries that seem to stir up some atmosphere and emotions and conjure up lovely imagery of them growing in the strawberry wood. This story hits upon all the senses. It has a way of drawing in the reader closer and closer until you’re nearly within touching and smelling distance that lasts from the beginning to the end. The strawberries serve a purpose however, they aren’t just there to pretty things up. There’s also a strawberry thief, as you’d expect from the title and readers should continue on with the book to discover much more about this.

The writing is atmospheric and descriptive, giving a real sense of place, but cleverly also adds to the intrigue. This is worth all the wait and the buzz that surrounds books written by Joanne Harris. It is available now in bookshops, libraries and online.

Joanne Harris, in all her wisdom has done something quite wonderful in her physical books, especially for Waterstones, she has exclusive copies whereby books aren’t just signed, but also contains a very poignant afterword and a short story called The Cat Child. Joanne Harris is well-known for supporting bookshops and libraries (as well as authors) and her actions in both the past and present always speak volumes, which is admirable.

The afterword gives great insight about certain parallels between Joanne’s family life and what is written in the fictional story as well as further thoughts.

The Cat Child is poignant and resonates. It’s not some random short story, this is well thought out. It has some similar themes to The Strawberry Thief. There’s the daughter whose soul keeps soaring and the mother who is trying to keep her grounded, whereby there’s a younger daughter who is the cat child, never quite growing up and managing to leave. One night, however something “magical” occurs…

The Cat Child is also worth 5 stars. It’s concise, poignant and terrifically atmospheric.all within just a few pages, which is a skill within itself.  It also feels like it accompanies the main story very well.

Sunshine & Secrets – The Paradise Cookery School by Daisy James @daisyjamesbooks @ElliePilcher95 @canelo_co #NewReview #fiction #food #Romance #Newbook

Sunshine & Secrets – The Paradise Cookery School
by Daisy James

Rating *****

 

Daisy James picAbout the Author

Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.

Daisy would love to hear from readers via her Facebook page or you can follow her on Twitter @daisyjamesbooks or on Instagram @booksdaisyjames.

Paradise Cookery School

Blurb

When newly heartbroken, Michelin-starred chef Millie Harper is offered a job overseeing the setup of The Paradise Cookery School she jumps at the opportunity.

Leaving London and her memories of heartbreak behind she hops on a plane to the hilltop cocoa plantation in St Lucia. But this beautiful island break might be more work than she’d expected….  

With only two weeks to have the kitchen installed and with cocoa pods going missing from the plantation, Millie’s going to need some help. Gruff but charming estate manager Zach Barker, is only too happy to offer his opinions. As the two clash heads can they remain focussed on the job in hand and get the cookery school finished in time?

Pack your bags and jump right into the sun and secrets of The Paradise Cookery School.

 



Review

Travel to St. Lucia to escape all your problems in this book and enter the Caribbean and all its life and food. That’s what main character, Millie did! She escaped the fact she has  a broken heart after newly breaking up with her boyfriend Luke. The original destination was Nice, France, until such a great opportunity in St. Lucia, she was persuaded not to pass up on came her way.
There is a new cookery school is opening up at Claudia’s villa in the hills overlooking the bay at Soufrière in the south of St Lucia. She won’t be alone though as she meets other people inhabiting the island. The characters are all well written and really fit well into this book. They are all characters that I found I wanted to read about and I am sure other readers will want to as well.

I love the descriptions of the setting and the warmth that oozes from them as they will take readers on a journey in such a way that anyone can delight in being able to picture themselves there and basque in the warm glow. There’s also tenderly written romance and broken hearts and thoughts of past love in the paradise that is St. Lucia. There are also twists and turns along the way and paradise isn’t all what it always seems to be as well as lots of food.

Firstly, when readers encounter the new cookery school, the kitchen has to be installed and there are emails that need tending to with what is to be expected. The emails are well thoughtout in their font as it is different from the rest of the type in the main story, so they stand-out well.

There are plenty of food and recipes being created within this book, which makes it different and quite fun, especially if you like reading or eating food, or both. The food is so well written that any reader will be able to imagine what it could actually taste like, its a treat for the senses.

It isn’t just people who work around the cookery school and the cocoa plantation, which is also owned by Claudia. There is also Henri,who is a journalist in St. Lucia, when readers meet this character. He would enlighten any reader as he talks about whatelse goes on this seemingly paradise island, such as drugs and corruption. It’s clever of the author to point this out I reckon and it prevents the story from being whimsical as well as informing readers that all is not always as it first seems on this island as there is a darker side to the paradise backdrop.

This is an excellent, effortless read to escape into for awhile, where the story glides across the pages at a good pace. It’s warm, it’s scenic, it’s got some twists as secrets are uncovered, it has emotion. It is also a delicious read with all that food, to make you end up with an appetite of your own. With all that going on, it’s a well thought out, well written and paced book that is thoroughly enjoyable. I very much recommend this book.

With thanks to Ellie Pilcher from the publishers – Canelo for sending me an e-book review copy and for the author Daisy James for contacting her publishers and for allowing me to review her book. Thanks also to Daisy James for supplying me with her author bio and photo.

*This review is impartial.

________________________________________
Title: Sunshine and Secrets – The Paradise Cookery School
Author: Daisy James
Publisher: Canelo
Main Purchase Points: Amazon
Other books by Daisy James can be purchased from WH Smith.