Friday, 29 August 2014

The Beginner's Guide to the Birds and the Bees by Sophie Hart

Let’s talk about sex… would you share your bedroom secrets if it meant saving your marriage?

This book is a refreshingly uplifting romantic comedy about friendship, love and sex. This book sees Sex therapist Annie Hall try to help three couples put the fizz back into their relationships.  

The first couple are Nick and his gorgeous wife but he knows Julia is after only one thing – a baby and Nick is trying to make her see there's more to life than just babies but can Annie help Julia to see that?

The second couple are newly engaged Zoe and Simon can’t seem to keep their hands off each other. They’ve decided to take a vow of celibacy until their wedding night, well Simon reluctantly has agreed to this too. Will Annie help them stick to it?

The third couple are Roy and Linda have been married for over thirty years but she’s more interested in the family business than getting intimate with him, but is there more to why Linda's chooses to be like than just what appears on the surface? Can Annie convince Linda to rediscover her passion for Roy after all this time?

It’s a shame Annie's own love life is non-existent. When Jamie who works next door catches her eye, she can’t ignore the spark of chemistry.   While Annie begins to work her magic with the three couples, she soon finds herself falling for Jamie.  But she’s been hurt before – will he be different?  Will she follow the advice that she's been giving her own clients in order to potentially fall in love and learn a few life lessons of her own?  Maybe it’s time for Annie to take some of her own advice......

This was my first book that I've read from Sophie Hart & I enjoyed it, the story flowed well, made me giggle in parts and I also loved all the quotes from famous people at the start of every chapter.  If you’re looking for a light-hearted read then kick your feet up with a large bar of chocolate, turn off your phone, and sink into Sophie’s new novel.

Thank you to bookouture via Margaret Madden for allowing me to read and review this book. This book will available on Kindle and in all good bookstores and will be published on 19th September.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Dinner by Herman Koch

This book was chosen for our book club read, I was intrigued by the cover & couldn't wait to start it.  “The Dinner,” is a relatively new translated novel by the Dutch writer Herman Koch, has been a European sensation and an international best seller.

This is the story of one family's response to the havoc their children have wrought, and how they choose to deal with it. It's a novel of mystery and suspense, while at the same time making a satiric social commentary on parenting and the fusses of high end living. The novel follows Paul, the father of one of the young men of questionable behavior, as he sets out to dinner with his wife to meet his brother and sister-in-law at a rather upscale restaurant. It is evident, from the very beginning, that Paul's relationship with his brother is quite estranged and that they don't see eye to eye, but it isn't until the couples meet that the reader begins to see just how different the two families really are.

Tensions are high throughout dinner, and though it takes time for the truth of the children's misdeeds to hit the light, Koch does it in such a way that the reader is captivated throughout the meal, slowly putting together the pieces of the puzzle as Paul attempts to figure out what to do next. Alongside Paul, we are thrust into the men's bathroom, we hide alongside the restaurant, we read texts and delete messages, we watch videos we ought not to see, all to figure out exactly what he knows that he isn't telling us. I really enjoyed being inside Paul's head, even though I didn't know everything up front, and Koch does a phenomenal job keeping the readers interest throughout it all.

Although I found the novel a bit slow to start and get going but once it did, it was brilliantly paced. There is a bracing nastiness to this book that grows ever more intense with the turning of its pages. It will not please those who seek the cozy, the redemptive or the uplifting. If you are such a reader, you may stop right here. I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more work from this author.  I am dying to discuss it with my book club, I'm sure it'll raise some strong, heady ideas about love and loyalty, about justice and morality, but it doesn't hammer you over the head with them. Instead, it stabs you in the gut.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

Knowing how much I adored The Kite Runner & A Thousand Splendid Suns, this was chosen for our book club as it is compared with Hosseini's masterpiece on the cover. On the cover it is also described as Maeve Binchy meets the Kite Runner. I do not think this is a compliment.  The story itself is lightweight romantic fiction with happy endings for most of the main characters and one death as an acknowledgement of the setting which is war torn Afghanistan. The author has lived there herself and her political views are voiced through some of the characters in a very unrealistic way.  This book has often harrowing moments of the women's lives living there but I didn't really like it & I probably expected too much. Khaled Hosseini set the benchmark and this comes nowhere near.

''In a little coffee shop in one of the most dangerous places on earth, five very different women come together."

SUNNY, the proud proprietor, who needs an ingenious plan - and fast - to keep her café and customers safe.
YAZMINA, a young pregnant woman stolen from her remote village and now abandoned on Kabul's violent streets.
CANDACE, a wealthy American who has finally left her husband for her Afghan lover, the enigmatic Wakil.
ISABEL, a determined journalist with a secret that might keep her from the biggest story of her life. And HALAJAN, the sixty-year-old den mother, whose long-hidden love affair breaks all the rules.

As these five women discover there's more to one another than meets the eye, they form a unique bond that will for ever change their lives and the lives of many others.''

I was really looking forward to reading this & I enjoyed  the beginning of this book - thanks to the initial few characters. It showed so much promise, but I was left feeling robbed of what could have been a poignant novel featuring only three characters - Sunny, Halajan & Yazmina. Instead, the story lacks real grit and is too busy. I never felt any emotional connection with any of the characters, it was full of cliches and had no depth.

This book is available on Kindle & in all good bookstores.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Into The Night Sky by Caroline Finnerty

Thanks to Poolbeg Press I received a copy of this for an honest review..... 

Into the Night Sky is the story of four people who come into each others lives when they are each in need of a friend and how the bonds that form, change them all forever more.

Ella Wilde is a TV presenter who is married to Dan and they've 3 children.  She has everything until one day she's caught shoplifting and her world starts to fall apart when she looses her job, her husband doesn't want to know her, but is there more to Ella’s problems than just what appears on the surface as she struggles to deal with the weight of public disgrace and adjust to life away from the TV cameras?

Conor Fahy is Ella Wilde's best friend and is the owner of struggling bookshop Haymarket Books and is finding it hard to cope with everyday life since the tragic death of his partner, Leni.

 Jack White is eight years old. He loves Ben 10, Ronaldo, Giant Jawbreaker sweets and reading adventure books on the floor of Conor's book shop where they strike up an unlikely friendship. He likes his Dad (when he doesn’t shout).  He doesn’t like the bad monsters that are eating up his ma inside her tummy.

Rachel Traynor is the social worker assigned to Jack White’s case but sorting out chaotic family disputes is taking its toll on her. And it doesn’t help that she has had to say goodbye to the man she loves under heartbreaking circumstances.

This was a very bittersweet & heart-warming read, the story flows well throughout the book.  I really enjoyed Caroline's third book which I read in 2 days, it kept me turning the pages until the very end. This story had it all a little bit of humor, love, family, protectiveness to more sensitive and hard-hitting issues - I found I had a little tear in my eye at the end along with shedding a few along the way, so grab this book, curl up on the couch and prepare to have a few lump in your throat moments too.  It definitely didn't disappoint.

This is Caroline Finnerty's 3rd novel, she has also written In A Moment & The Last Goodbye which are both available on Kindle & in all good bookstores.  I would like to say Thank you to Poolbeg Press for allowing me to read and review this book.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris by Evie Gaughan

I received this copy from Evie Gaughan in exchange for an honest review. So here it goes!

Edith Lane has had enough with her life in Ireland and decides to take a leap into the unknown by moving to France. Even though this means leaving her father behind, Edith knows she needs a new challenge, one she might be able to find in the vintage French bakery she managed to get a job at. Yet, when Edith arrives at the small bakery on Rue De Paris in the antique town of Compiègne where she thought she was going to be in actual Paris, she isn’t exactly welcomed with open arms by the owner. But Edith is determined to give it her best shot and before she knows it, she is learning all about the mysterious ins and outs of the bakery while trying to figure out her own life and wishes at the same time.

Edith also gets to know a gorgeous man of course. I felt like their feelings for each other developed a little to quickly, but it was a real pleasure reading about them. Unfortunately, Hugo is not who Edith thought he was in the beginning.  While reading this book, in my mind, I could clearly see the beautiful and charming French cobblestone streets with the timber houses, they were brought to life so perfectly & could even smell taste the lovely  treats that were been made daily in the bakery.

This book is a heart warming story about love, friendship and the liberty to find the right thing in life with some humor thrown into the mix and with many twists and turns.  It is nicely written and the story flows easily & it was so easy to get lost in.

Thank you to Evie Gaughan via Margaret Madden for allowing me to read and review this book. This book is available on Kindle.

Monday, 11 August 2014

The Life You Left by Carmel Harrington

Sarah is happily married or so she thought to Paul & they've 3 young children until one day she receives an email from Paul to say that he won't be home that night which changes her life forever. Carmel develops each character so that you really feel like you know them. I love how the storyline came together, it was a busy one but never did she make me feel like I was lost. I did really want to get mad at Paul for how he picked up and left but this book had a very different approach to the subject and in the end I had shed a few tears. 

The Life You Left had much more of an edge to it than that with the fascinating addition of Sarah’s guardian angel Edward who only Sarah can see & hear. I loved this concept and the way it affected Sarah’s everyday life and I was always interested in Edward’s role as Sarah tried to rebuild her life and support her family.

After a great start to this book, I loved how it just kept getting better. The Life You Left had everything – from family, love, protectiveness to more harder-hitting and sensitive issues.

If you are looking for an escapist read; grab this book, a packet of tissues, a glass of wine and some cupcakes. Switch off, relax and enjoy!  I really enjoyed Carmel's second book. It kept me turning the pages to the end. Good mix of mystery and romance & I think all of us can say we've a guardian angel looking over us or have done at some stage in life as I know I have.

This book is available on kindle & in all good bookshops.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Red Ribbons by Louise Phillips

Two girls are discovered buried in shallow graves. Both are laid out in a particular way, with their hair plaited with red ribbons tied in them. Dr Kate Pearson is a profiler who is struggling to find the balance between family and work. Together with DI O'Connor they try and predict the killer's next move.

Red Ribbons is a debut novel from an Irish writer, Louise Phillips and it is set in Dublin.  Even though I read this last year I really enjoyed this book immensely & it's a long time since I did enjoy a book as much as I did with Red Ribbons. It was a real page turner & you couldn't wait to find out what was on the following pages. I also got a chance to meet Louise Phillips at an authors evening that we had in a friends house last year, I'm also looking forward to attending her third book launch next week.

As I am from Dublin, alot of the locations that were written into the book where very poignant for me. As I was reading the book I could visualize myself standing in all of the scenes, from the Garda Station to the side of the road in the Dublin Mountains, that was the first time a book has ever taken an effect like that on me, an excellent read & I would highly recommend it. If you love the likes of Criminal Minds, CSI & Profiler you will love this book.  I can't wait to get started on The Doll's House next.

This book is available on Kindle & available from all good bookstores.

GREAT NEWS!!! You can now order the KINDLE version of LAST KISS in the U.S via Amazon with RED RIBBONS and THE DOLL'S HOUSE also been available shortly too.

Friday, 8 August 2014

What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan by JL Knapp

I received a copy of this book from Jill Knapp in exchange for my honest review. So here it goes!

Amelia Hastings is a 23 year old who thinks she has it all, a boyfriend, best friends, an amazing apartment, an education. However, after being dumped by her seemingly faultless boyfriend Nicholas, Amelia now finds herself day dreaming about her friend and classmate Michael.  She has always had feelings for Michael but now that Nicholas is out of the picture will she finally take a shot and see where things lead?  While juggling school, friends, heartbreak and love Amelia gives you an insight into the life of a true New Yorker.

This book was like a breath of fresh air, it's funny, face paced & quirky, I really liked it.  It also reminded me a lot of Sex in the City, in a good way as I loved watching this when I was a bit younger (than I am now) & even still find myself sitting re-watching episodes of it from time to time.  While the main characters life is far from perfect and the writing never came off as overly dramatic or whiny. This was a quick easy read and took me back to my days of being single and out in the City. Jill Knapp description of city life and the people who dwell within it are exquisite.  I felt like & wished I was right there along side Amelia and her friends, walking to class, riding the subway, shopping and cramming for final exams while eating cold take out and drinking wine.

I found out that this is a trilogy of books & I am really looking forward to the next installment in the series and I can't wait to see where Amelia's journey will take us next.

Thank you to Jill Knapp for allowing me to read and review this book. This book is available on kindle & will be available in paperback from around November.

Monday, 4 August 2014

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

It is hard to believe that it is just over 102 years since the tragic sinking of the Titanic.  Titanic is a familiar story but this novel is based on the story of fourteen real life characters who left from Ballysheen in Ireland to start a new and better life in America. As such it brings alive the stories of the passengers who went through the disastrous sinking of an 'unsinkable ship'.  It is told in two parts, part one is in 1912 with Maggie Murphy, a steerage passenger as the focus along with all the people from her town that travelled on the Titanic. The other part is told in 1982 with the focus on Grace Butler, who's great-grandmother is Maggie. Throughout it's run it threads of a love story and the guilt and pain of being a survivor.

This book is so much more than a story, it's a well-researched background giving a real 'feel' of the people and the times as well as describing life aboard Titanic from the very different views of passengers and staff.  It's well written and very moving, it's also very poignant in places, the author makes you feel you know the central characters and goes on to show how survivors of the disaster were treated and how their lives were altered.  All with two lost love stories thrown in - one in present times and one going back to 1912 Ireland.

I loved this book so much, the story flowed & the pages kept turning as I couldn't wait to see how the love story would unfold.  The Girl Who Came Home will tug at your heartstrings and make you cry with happiness and sadness over this tragic story that tells of loss, friendship, memories, love and the true meaning of coming home. It is an beautifully told story that will stay with me forever. 

If I had to sum this book up in three words, they would be Heartbreaking, Captivating and Moving.

After reading this book, I really hope to get a chance to go to the Titanic Experience in Belfast as I've always found everything in relation to the Titanic interesting. 

This book is available on Kindle & in all good bookstores.