#BookReview By Lou of #BetweenTheCovers pick – Lessons In Chemistry By Bonnie Garmus @BonnieGarmus @alisonbarrow @TransworldBooks #LessonsInChemistry

Lessons In Chemistry
By Bonnie Garmus

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Lessons in Chemistry By Bonnie Garmus is a successful debut novel. It has made it onto Between the Covers on BBC 2, presented by Sara Cox and is a bestseller and even captured the attention of the New York Times to become on their bestselling list. It is available in hardback. Now, ahead of the paperback launch in March 2023, I have been gifted a hardback copy by Alison Barrow at the publisher- Transworld, in-exchange of an honest review. Travel back to the 1960’s, or just below to discover the blurb and my review. 

Blurb

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results. 

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

Review


Be transported back to the 1950’s and 1960’s with chemist – Elizabeth Zott. It’s easy to do. The first page shows how different the world was then, even in day to day things many people possibly take for granted nowadays like seatbelts. The book shows how attitudes and how things are handled these days were better back then, but how women like Elizabeth Zott gives as a good as they get. There’s a strong thread of early feminism throughout in her beliefs, her chosen workplace, her ability to go to university, her kick-ass approach to certain situations in all areas. It’s refreshing to show that feminism is not new and has been around in some form or another for many years, even further back than the time-scale in this book to a certain extent.

Elizabeth Zott is a chemist at The Hastings Research Institute, USA; or rather, she was in the 1950’s, before she was catapulted further into the public consciousness in the 1960’s on a tv show – Supper for Six, where she became a tv cook. She met successful scientist – Calvin Evans, whilst working for the institute, after graduating at Cambridge, England. A guy with a passion for rowing and a very impressive ability to hold grudges, even more than Elizabeth. He also very much wants to love. There is much humour between him and his Cambridge rowing team-mates. There is much humour throughout the book and the reaction Elizabeth and Calvin have for each other as chemistry of the romantic kind of swirls, is even more so. It’s also tender and sweet, especially where Calvin is concerned.

There are the most unexpected twists, one in-particular comes with a hard whack and yet is perfectly done and comes just at the right time to continue this being the unexpected compelling, rather addictive read it is. 

Even with the twists, some which are dark, the humour and the pushing of boundaries continues and evolves to her child, Madeline (Mad) and also onto the TV set. Through the anger, some that’s perfectly reasonable, especially the way women are put into boxes (still happens today, but with everyone) and more… but sometimes a bit silly, such as over school assignments… Surprisingly, it has a nice sentimentality, such as over a dog called Thirty Six. Readers will find out why that name during the book.

This is a book I very much recommend. It has something for everyone in what is a strong debut.
Lessons In Chemistry is available in hardback now and in spring this year, it will be published in paperback.

Advertisement

#Review By Lou of Keeping A Christmas Promise By Jo Thomas @Jo_Thomas01 @TransWorldBooks #Christmas #RomanticFiction #ContemporaryFiction @alisonbarrow #KirstyDunseath

Keeping A Christmas Promise
By Jo Thomas

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Keeping A Christmas Promise is the latest festive offering by Jo Thomas to whisk readers off on an adventure of a lifetime with lifelong friends to keep a very important promise. This is one of the best books I’ve read by Jo Thomas yet! Discover the blurb and my review below, thanks to Alison Barrow and Kirsty Dunseath at Transworld Books.

                                                                             Blurb

A Christmas to remember for a friend they’ll never forget

Four friends
Twenty-five years ago, Freya and her three best friends created a bucket list. The future seemed bright, full of hope and most importantly guaranteed . . .

One promise
Now they are travelling to Iceland in memory of the friend they’ve lost, determined to fulfil her dream of seeing the Northern Lights at Christmas.

A life-changing adventure
They didn’t count on an avalanche leaving them stranded! Handsome local, Pétur, comes to the rescue, showing them how the community survives the hard winter. With Christmas approaching, Freya and her friends throw themselves into the festivities, decorating and cooking for the villagers using delicious local ingredients.

But will the Northern Lights appear so they can honour their friend’s wish? And can Freya’s own dreams come true, this Christmas?

‘A deliciously festive treat bursting with Icelandic flavour, adventure and romance’ RUTH JONES

‘Sparkling, romantic, magical – and delicious’ MILLY JOHNSON

‘Heart-warming, moving and romantic, with a beautiful setting – what could be better?’ KATIE FFORDE

Review

Bucketlists, they make us think of our mortality, what’s important to us and what new experiences we should try in our lives. They make us get out there and instead of only existing, they can turn life into a rich tapestry of adventure that also brings excitement and an air of optimism.

4 friends created a bucket list 25 years ago. Their friendship stood the test of time and they still have that zest for adventure. There’s poignancy, which really comes across as one of the friends has died, so they are now living out her wish – to see the Northern Lights in Iceland at Christmas time. I loved that real care and loyalty to their now dead friend, to carry out her wish in her memory. It oozes warmth amongst heartbreak and the genuine determination they have to do this.

There is a lot of Christmas fun to be had with spreading a bit of joy and mucking in with an Icelandic community to ensure this, after some rather serious danger due to an avalanche, putting everyone and everything at risk.

It’s a very endearing book that will warm anyone’s heart and soul and show the way of true and everlasting friendship and some romance along the way.

#Review By Lou of – Love Untold By Ruth Jones @TransworldBooks @alisonbarrow #rosieainsworth

Love Untold
By Ruth Jones

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Love Untold is beautifully written multi-generational story with heartfelt poignancy and great characters. Discover my blurb and full review below.
Thanks firstly to Transworld Publishers for inviting me to review gifting me an e-copy copy of Love Untold by Ruth Jones to review.

Blurb

Grace is about to turn ninety. She doesn’t want parties or presents or fuss. She just wants to heal the family rift that’s been breaking her heart for decades.

But to do that she must find her daughter Alys – the only person who can help to put things right.

And when she finds her – if she does – she risks betraying granddaughter Elin. Who is far less forgiving of the past, with its hurts and secrets and lies. Meanwhile Grace’s great-grand-daughter Beca is oblivious to all these worries, too busy navigating the highs and lows of teenage life and keeping secrets of her own.

All families have their problems. And most of them get resolved. But Grace’s problem is thirty years old. And she doesn’t have time on her side.

So is it too late for her to make peace? Or is reconciliation still within reach?

Love Untold is about mothers and daughters and the complex bond between them. It’s about the heartache that comes from leaving things unsaid and the power of true forgiveness. It is a joy-filled, life-affirming, sob-inducing novel – with characters you’ll come to know and love – from no.1 bestselling author Ruth Jones.

Review

Relationships between humans can be complicated and yet there is love and sometimes that is untold and Ruth Jones choice of words to show this are, at times, sublime to demonstrate this. The characters she creates are well observed and it is easy to be hooked in and stay with them, through to the end, even through their complex lives of lies, betrayal and she has the art of making you, as a reader want to hold out to see how things can end. She also has the skill to endear, which she does through Grace and her friends as well as taking readers through a gambit of emotions and leave satisfied in the end, but also with a layer of thought, shrouding you as you dwell on the unexpected, but very good end.

Love Untold unwraps itself through alternating chapters – Grace, Beca and Elin. The sea envelops, capturing the reader in its waves with a sense of serenity, well, until the reality hits of being 2 months off of being 90 for Grace, then it becomes, momentarily sobering. She lives in a residential home, Cadwallder House, which sounds exquisite from the outside and views, save all the utilitarian essentials, which then ensures that you know it’s for the elderly to be taken care of. Grace has friends here and is quite endearing on the whole, in nature and the conversations are great and the characterisation is wonderful.

Elin is Grace’s 51 grandaughter, who tries to persuade her that she needs to have a celebration, as a reader you can only hope it isn’t in vain, as she throws herself into wanting to plan it all, with a hotel at Dylan’s Quay, with such exuberance.

Beca is 16 with definite teenage attitude to match her age. She has exams and her thoughts of having to sit them, when a previous year couldn’t more than frustrates her, frustrates is putting it mildly. The light in which Beca is portrayed in is just fabulous and the temperament is spot on, readers will definitely know she’s a teen. From the grumbling of subjects to the way she is yelled at to get ready and down the stairs will be relatable to every parent with teens or be a reminder of their own teenage years.

There is also Alys who is a bit wayward and complicated, who later joins the fray and readers can see life from her path too.

The book portrays that life isn’t always easy or linear and has joy as well as sadness, but, certain events can happen as they do in this book, there can be warmth and poignancy, which she writes in a way that may give readers time to also reflect on life.

Ruth Jones is showing that she is conquering the book world as she did, the tv world with her wonderful creativity and observations of so much of human life and getting it down on the page in a way that is so compelling. I now look forward to seeing if she writes another soon.

Her books so far are: Never Greener, Us Three and Untold Love, each one stand alone and are excellent reads.

#BookReview by Lou of The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin @itsmcronin @alisonbarrow #LenniAndMargot #Fiction


The Hundred and One Years of Lenni and Margot

By Margot Cronin
Rated: 5 stars *****

Essential, witty and emotional – The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is marvellous and utterly unputdownable.
Find out more about the author, the blurb and review below.
With thanks to Alison Barrow at publisher – Transworld Books/Doubleday for gifting me a beautiful physical copy of the book.

About the Author

Lenni and Margot took me seven years to write and I’m very excited that their story is now reaching readers here on Amazon.

Before I started working on writing fiction full-time, I spent my days in academia, writing things that nobody wanted to read (not even my mum!). I have a PhD in Applied Linguistics but I don’t use the title ‘Dr’ on official documents because I’m scared of being asked to help in a medical emergency and having only a thesis on linguistics to help.

I like to write at night and I like to be alone when I do. When I’m not writing, I can be found trying to be funny in various improv groups or watching my recently-adopted cat sleeping under my desk.

LenniAndMargot Cover

Blurb

An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories.
Their last one begins here.

_______________________________________
Life is short. No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni living on the terminal ward. But as she is about to learn, it’s not only what you make of life that matters, but who you share it with.

Dodging doctor’s orders, she joins an art class where she bumps into fellow patient Margot, a rebel-hearted eight-three-year-old from the next ward. Their bond is instant as they realize that together they have lived an astonishing one hundred years.

To celebrate their shared century, they decide to paint their life stories: of growing old and staying young, of giving joy, of receiving kindness, of losing love, of finding the person who is everything.

As their extraordinary friendship deepens, it becomes vividly clear that life is not done with Lenni and Margot yet.

Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life even when it is about to be taken away, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need them most.

LenniAndMargot Cover 2

Review

Set primarily in Glasgow, with tales of life being lived in London and on a beach in Troon,  the premise of life and death is fabulous and is as far from bleak as you can get with such a subject matter. This is pretty uplifting and also essential, as we all live and we all have final days and yet it isn’t talked about very much. For a debut novel, it is very accomplished and totally enthralling and utterly compelling and unputdownable.
Lenni is in hospital in Glasgow and it initially sounds pretty bleak, but this could not be further than the truth! It questions life and death in such a natural, funny and brave way. Lenni is foreward in giving opinions and statements and generally gives the chaplin – Father Arthur a run for his money, especially about life and death and God, and is in search of answers as to why life is ending at the tender age of 17. It is absolutely brilliant in how so many emotions are portrayed and how matter-of-fact thoughts and dialogue is.
Lenni and Margot, truly have a story of  significance and importance to tell, after all, this covers subjects that are natural and yet not properly talked about and it nicely doesn’t skirt around the cycle of life and subsequent death. It calls it all what it is, which is refreshingly honest. 

At the other end of the scale is Margot, who Lenni comes across in the hospital. She is 83. Here is the clever thing about the title. Margot (83) and Lenni (17) have the most extraordinary inventiveness how to reach 100, which is just joyous and bittersweet all at once, but with a wonderful upbeat determination.
What blossoms is a lovely friendship. This is, despite life coming to and end, just so heartwarming and beautiful to watch occur and what makes it so, apart from the humour, is that Margot tells Lenni about her younger years of life, and how she becomes interested in it. This is as much about life and not just merely existing, but truly living it, as it is in making the most of what is left of it. It isn’t about just about staying in a hospital bed either, it’s about still doing activities, as they met in an art class within the hospital and it is about when life was lived and death couldn’t be further away.

It’s a book that will make you laugh one minute and all sad in another as emotions oscillate throughout, this is a terrific debut novel, full of heart and the most unlikely of friendships, but circumstance brough Lenni and Margot together, because it can be extraordinary how and when and who with friendships are formed, which develop into something that becomes natural. It is a wonderful book from beginning to end.

Happy Publication Day to Ruth Jones #BookReview of the outstanding #Mustread – Us Three By Ruth Jones #RuthJones @AlisonBarrow

Us Three
By Ruth Jones
Rated: 5 stars *****

Us Three is an uplifting, joyous and emotional read of 3 character’s lives and their friendship together, that is just an incredibly impressive book that is well observed on human nature. that I highly recommend. Once started, it is difficult to put down and leave. All in all, Ruth Jones, famed for Gavin and Stacey and her debut – Never Greener, has written outstandingly, again with this second novel.

It has to be said, I was so amazed  and excited, that I have this opportunity to review Us Three by Ruth Jones. Thank you so much to Alison Barrow at Transworld Books.
Read on for the blurb and full review…

Us Three

Blurb

The new novel from Ruth Jones, author of the smash-hit, number one bestselling debut, Never Greener.

Meet Lana, Judith and Catrin. Best friends since primary school when they swore an oath on a Curly Wurly wrapper that they would always be there for each other, come what may.

After the trip of a lifetime, the three girls are closer than ever. But an unexpected turn of events shakes the foundation of their friendship to its core, leaving their future in doubt – there’s simply too much to forgive, let alone forget. An innocent childhood promise they once made now seems impossible to keep . . .

Packed with all the heart and empathy that made Ruth’s name as a screenwriter and now author, Us Three is a funny, moving and uplifting novel about life’s complications, the power of friendship and how it defines us all. Prepare to meet characters you’ll feel you’ve known all your life – prepare to meet Us Three.

Review

I was, as you an see, very excited to see that I had an opportunity to review Us Three by Ruth Jones. She isn’t just an incredibly good script-writer and actor, but also a very good novelist. Us Three takes readers on a well-written, well-observed journey with Catrin Kelly, Lana Lloyd and Judith Harris. The three have a big trip planned of Greek island hopping before parting ways as Catrin wants to study medicine at Cardiff, Judith wants to read economics in London and Lana wants to train to be a musical theatre actor.
The writing is amusing and has a natural flow that you can’t help but be swept along with it from the start.

Characters are given their own chapters, but each are interwoven into each other’s lives and it’s great getting to know them. In amongst the friendships and comaraderie, things in life aren’t always easy, not when Judith’s mum falls terribly unwell, or did she? This is a question readers will find the answer to as the story continues.

When, finally on holiday, the three get into some unplanned situations, some of which are rather unfortunate indeed. There’s also some fun, gorgeous scenery and archetecture and perhaps a bit of romance to stumble into. There are also some unexpected revelations concerning Judith’s family. It’s interesting as they come tumbling out from George.
The relationship that Lana is involved in is one that may make you, like it did me, if it could last or not.
Catrin has exciting news.

The friendship that is captured is absolutely wonderful. The way they look out for each other, practically shines a light on how friendships ought to be. The Three of Us is so heartwarming. There are however some major challenges to overcome as well as utter heartache within one of the families as they’re taken to quite an unexpected dark place. Ruth Jones expertly navigates the shades of light and dark of life. It catches you right there. One moment you can be smiling and the next, feeling a bit more serious. She totally captures you in the book.

Part 2 takes readers into their lives 18 years later and the year is 2005 and part 3 is 12 years on, with the year being 2017. It’s an interesting insight into how Catrin, Lana and Judith are growing up and how their friendships are as time moves on and how certain things change and life’s milestones occur, some happily, others with deep sadness. All the way through I can’t help but root for their friendships to survive the ups and downs. The ups are joyous and the downs are sometimes to the extent of heartbreak in their personal lives. There are also ups and downs within their friendship to each other. The downs are the sort that, if you, like me, have friendships with some people who you’ve known most of your lives, don’t happen. I’m totally invested in these characters lives and it is tremendously easy to do so, even as early as the first few chapters in part 1. The time moving on works incredibly well as the insights are fascinating as the story builds and there is a great desire to keep reading on and finding out more because they are characters with lives to care about. The parts are also, so succinct, being divided like that, that they flow effortlessly from part to part. Each has a realistic feel to it. By the time I finsihed, I am almost speechless. It’s just absolutely, one of the most heartwarming books. The strength of character is each woman is undoubtedly amazing.

All in all, I highly praise and recommend Us Three by Ruth Jones.

About the Author

Ruth Jones is best known for her outstanding and award-winning television writing, most notably BBC1’s Gavin and Stacey, which she co-wrote with James Corden and in which she played the incorrigible Nessa Jenkins. The most recent Christmas Day special of Gavin and Stacey gained national critical acclaim, drawing an audience of over 18 million and winning a National Television Award for Impact. Ruth also created and co-wrote Sky 1’s Stella, which ran for six series. As well as being Baftanominated for her role as the eponymous Stella, Ruth has also starred in several other television comedies and dramas. Her debut novel Never Greener has now sold over a quarter of a million copies. It was chosen as WHSmith Fiction Book of the Year 2018, was a Zoe Ball Book Club pick, and was a Sunday Times bestseller for fifteen weeks, three weeks at number one. Us Three is Ruth’s second novel.