It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The Its Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at Book Journey.

Life…

The past week has been a complete write off. I don’t even have any excuses, I just lacked the energy or enthusiasm to do much of anything which is reflected below. This week I have to make the effort though, I’m falling behind too quickly.

Thankfully it will be at least in part a peaceful week. My boys left for their school camp this morning and will be back Wednesday, and my daughter leaves for her camp tomorrow – she is off to Canberra,  our nation’s capital – until Friday. My oldest is still at home but she spends 99% of her time in her room so I can pretend she is isn’t here:)

 

 What I Read Last Week

Cooper Bartholomew is Dead by Rebecca James

Half The World in Winter by Maggie Joel

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

Home Baking by Jo Wheatley

 

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review: Cooper Bartholomew is Dead by Rebecca James ★★★★

Review: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters ★★★1/2

Review: Half the World in Winter by Maggie Joel ★★★

About: A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

Weekend Cooking: Chutney and Cheddar Palmiers from Home Baking by Jo Wheatley

 

What I Am Reading Today

It had been Mother’s secret and mine, one passed down through the de Winter women for generations. I would ensure it was kept that way, until I was ready to pass it on. When Anneke Sheldrake is forced to find a way to support her family after her father is lost at sea, she turns to the business by which her mother’s family once prospered: brewing ale.  Armed with her Dutch mother’s recipes and a belief that anything would be better than the life her vindictive cousin has offered her, she makes a deal with her father’s aristocratic employer: Anneke has six months to succeed or not only will she lose the house but her family as well.  Through her enterprise and determination, she inadvertently earns herself a deadly enemy. Threatened and held in contempt by those she once called friends, Anneke nonetheless thrives. But on the tail of success, tragedy follows and those closest to her pay the greatest price for her daring.  Ashamed, grieving, and bearing a terrible secret, Anneke flees to London, determined to forge her own destiny. Will she be able to escape her past, and those whose only desire is to see her fail? A compelling insight into the brewer’s craft, the strength of women, and the myriad forms love can take.

What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

 

Ella, sweet Ella, you were meant to be mine. You can’t begin to imagine all the things I want to do to you. When the time is right, I will come for you . . . A series of hand-delivered letters leaves Ella scared for her life. Someone is watching her. Wanting her. Someone promising revenge. Desperate for the nightmare to end, Ella will do anything to discover the truth. Even join forces with a man who comes with his own danger warning . .

In the latest thriller by the Edgar-nominated author of Joe Victim, someone is helping rape victims exact revenge on their attackers, prompting an edge-of-your-seat, cat-and-mouse chase between old friends, detectives Theodore Tate and Carl Schroder. Carl Schroder and Theodore Tate, labeled “The Coma Cops” by the media, are finally getting their lives back into shape. Tate has returned to the police force and is grateful to be back at home with his wife, Bridget. For Schroder, things are neither good nor bad. The bullet lodged in his head from a shooting six months ago hasn’t killed him, but, almost as deadly, it’s switched off his emotions. When the body of a convicted rapist is found, obliterated by an oncoming train, Tate works the case, trying to determine if this is murder or suicide. The following night, the bodies of two more rapists surface. It’s hard to investigate when everyone on the police force seems to be rooting for the killer. There’s a common plea detectives get from the loved ones of victims: When you find the man who did this, give me five minutes alone with him. And that’s exactly what someone is doing. Someone is helping these victims get their five minutes alone. But when innocent people start to die, Tate and Schroder find themselves with different objectives, and soon they’re battling something they never would’ve expected: each other.

‘Love comes out of nowhere for most of us, when we least expect it . . . this young man has flown into your heart and made a nest.’ Amidst the carnage of Gallipoli, British nurse Claire Nightingale meets Australian Light Horseman Jamie Wren. Despite all odds, they fall deeply in love. Their flame burns bright and carries them through their darkest hours, even when war tears them apart. Jamie’s chance meeting with Turkish soldier Açar Shahin on the blood-stained battlefield forges an unforgettable bond between the men. It also leaves a precious clue to Jamie’s whereabouts for Claire to follow. Come peacetime, Claire’s desperate search to find Jamie takes her all the way to Istanbul, and deep into the heart of Açar’s family, where she attracts the unexpected attention of a charismatic and brooding scholar. In the name of forgiveness, cultures come together, enemies embrace and forbidden passions ignite – but by the breathtaking conclusion, who will be left standing to capture Nurse Nightingale’s heart? A heart-soaring novel of heartbreak and heroism, love and longing by a powerhouse Australian storyteller

Love hurts… When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe works, he’s instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: She’s gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and as sexy as his wildest dreams. Beck doesn’t know it yet, but she’s perfect for him, and soon she can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom made for her. But there’s more to Joe than Beck realizes, and much more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect façade. Their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences . . . A chilling account of unrelenting passion, Caroline Kepnes’s You is a perversely romantic thriller that’s more dangerously clever than any you’ve read before.

A rare, beguiling and brilliant ghost story from the Miles Franklin Award winning author. Picking up her pace, Frances saw a woman in the leaf-hung depths of the garden. She wore a long pink dress and a wide hat, and her skin was a creamy white. There came upon Frances a sensation that sometimes overtook her when she was looking at a painting: space was foreshortened, time stood still. When Frances met Charlie at a party in Melbourne he was married with a young son. Now she and Charlie live in Sydney with her rescue dog Rod and an unshakeable sense that they have tipped the world on its axis. They are still getting their bearings – of each other and of their adopted city. Everything is alien, unfamiliar, exotic: haunting, even. Worlds of meaning spin out of perfectly chosen words in this rare, beguiling and brilliant ghost story by Miles Franklin Literary Award-winning writer Michelle de Kretser

I

n A Fig at the Gate, author Kate Llewellyn, now in her seventies, embraces a new phase in her life, asking the question, ‘How does one live well?’ Following the joyful crafting of her gardens in the Blue Mountains (The Waterlily) and north of Wollongong (Playing with Water), Kate creates a new garden near the sea in Adelaide, planting olives, plums, limes and blood oranges, learning how to keep poultry, setting a duck on eggs. Delight and enrichment come with the learning of new skills, being close to family and old friends, long companionable beach walks, rediscovering old recipes, food and wine. Wise and joyful, accepting what she cannot change while relishing what she has, Kate shares the beauties and frailties of the human condition and shows us what the gifts of ageing can bring.

Thanks for stopping by!

Weekend Cooking: Chutney and Cheddar Palmiers from Home Baking by Jo Wheatley

wkendcooking

I’ve decided to make the Weekend Cooking meme, hosted by Beth Fish Reads  a regular monthly post at Book’d Out. Cooking is something I enjoy and I have been making more of an effort again lately, so I am looking forward to sharing some of my culinary adventures.

**********************

Title: Home Baking

Author: Jo Wheatley

Published: Constable and Robinson: Allen and Unwin October 2014

My Thoughts:

Jo Wheatley was the 2011 winner of The Great British Bake Off, a television series pitting amateur bakers against one another to win the title of Britain’s best home baker. Home Baking is her second cookbook and includes 100 recipes.

The recipes range from the simple to the sublime and the sweet to the savoury. Home Baking includes recipes for classic treats such as Shortbread, Pretzels, Cornish pastries, Chicken and Leek pie, Salmon En Croute,  Rocky Road and Rasberry Red Velvet Cake as well as those a little more exotic like Parmesan and Pesto Fantail Loaf, Apple, Gooseberry and Elderflower Crumble, Goat’s Cheese and Fig Gougeres, and a Toffee Apple Croquembouche. There is a section devoted to cooking with kids which includes tasty recipes like Lemon and White Chocolate Muffins, Cheesy Mini Ketchup Scones and a Sweetie Spectacular Tray Bake.

This is a large format hardback with matte pages  with full page colour photo’s of the dishes. The recipes are well presented with a short comment to introduce the dish, often offering a tip or two, a bolded list of ingredients and clear prep and cooking instructions. Missing from most recipes however is a an indicator of serving size.

I have marked several recipes I would like to try including the Lemon, White Chocolate and Macadamia Bombs, Easy Italian Soda Bread, Chicken, Chorizo and Potato Frittata, and Portuguese Tarts. During the week I was in need of something to share at a committee meeting and didn’t have a lot of time, so I decided to try Wheatley’s Chutney and Cheddar Palmiers. They were quick to prepare, baked in 15 minutes and were absolutely delicious.

palmiers1

Chutney and Cheddar Palmiers

Ingredients

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry (I used frozen Pampas pastry -mine weren’t shaped quite as well as hers because I let it thaw a little too long.)
  • 1/2 cup grated tasty cheese  (I used Pizza Cheese which combines cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan)
  • 1/2 cup caramelised onion chutney (you can buy this in a jar in the condiment section of your supermarket or it’s simple to make your own)

Method

  • Heat oven to 190C/370F and line 2 shallow baking trays with baking paper
  • Lay out puff pastry and spread chutney over the surface, leaving a small margin around the edges, and then sprinkle with the grated cheese.
  • Starting from two opposite ends, roll pastry to enclose filling until both ends meet in the middle. Use a small, sharp knife to cut into 1.5cm (1/2 inch) slices. Place, cut-side down, on the lined trays.  Press slices gently with palm to flatten slightly.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden brown.
  • Makes 20-24.

You can find more recipes from Jo Wheatley on her blog Jo’s Blue Aga

Home Cooking is available to purchase from

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and all good bookstores.

About: A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

 

Title: A Sudden Light

Author: Garth Stein

Published: Simon & Schuster October 2014

When a boy tries to save his parents’ marriage, he uncovers a legacy of family secrets in a coming-of-age ghost story by the author of the internationally bestselling phenomenon, The Art of Racing in the Rain.

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel—who is flickering in and out of dementia—to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into “tract housing for millionaires,” divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.

But Trevor soon discovers there’s someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own. For while the land holds tremendous value, it is also burdened by the final wishes of the family patriarch, Elijah, who mandated it be allowed to return to untamed forestland as a penance for the millions of trees harvested over the decades by the Riddell Timber company. The ghost will not rest until Elijah’s wish is fulfilled, and Trevor’s willingness to face the past holds the key to his family’s future.

A Sudden Light is a rich, atmospheric work that is at once a multigenerational family saga, a historical novel, a ghost story, and the story of a contemporary family’s struggle to connect with each other. A tribute to the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, it reflects Garth Stein’s outsized capacity for empathy and keen understanding of human motivation, and his rare ability to see the unseen: the universal threads that connect us all.

 A Sudden Light is available to purchase from

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Review: The Cure For Dreaming by Cat Winters

 

Title: The Cure for Dreaming

Author: Cat Winters

Published: Amulet Books October 2014

Status: Read from October 16 to 17, 2014 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley)

My Thoughts:

“Your future is to become a respectable housewife and mother. Women belong in the home, and inside some man’s home you’ll stay.”

Set in the year 1900, seventeen year old Olivia Mead is a bright girl dreaming of one day going to university, but in Portland, Oregon ‘respectable’ women are still expected to desire little more than becoming wives and mothers. Olivia supports the voices of the suffragettes clamouring for the right to vote, to wear bloomers when they ride their bicycles, to choose education and independence but her father, a dentist, is appalled by his daughter’s rebellious attitude and hires a young traveling hypnotist, the renowned ‘Henri Reverie’ performing in town to ‘cure’ Olivia of her ‘unfeminine’ dreams.

The Cure for Dreaming is an unusual tale combining a specific historical issue and era with a twist of the paranormal. Aimed at young adults, the plot and characters are fairly simplistic, yet it is a thought provoking read, sprinkled with an appealing mix of romance, horror, magic and mystery.

Henri modifies Olivia’s father command for his daughter to accept society’s demands of women somewhat by telling Olivia she will wake and the see the world as it truly is. Her new perspective is frightening and far from supporting her father’s world view it shows faded and caged women, men with red eyes and sharp teeth and simply makes Olivia’s belief in female emancipation even stronger. With help from a contrite Henri, Olivia eventually reclaims her voice and her dreams.

The setting is vivid and atmospheric and supported by the inclusion of half a dozen photographs from the period. For much of Winters’ young adult audience the history about the rights of women is sure to be an eye opener.

A quirky and quick read, I think The Cure For Dreaming would be a wonderful choice for any mother/daughter book club in particular.

 

The Cure for Dreaming is available to purchase at

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via Booko

Review: Cooper Bartholomew is Dead by Rebecca James

 

Title: Cooper Bartholomew is Dead

Author: Rebecca James

Published: Allen & Unwin October 2014

Status: Read from October 13 to 14, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

When Cooper Bartholomew’s broken body is found at the base of a cliff his death is declared a suicide but Libby, Cooper’s girlfriend, refuses to believe him capable of it. Desperate to understand what led him to the edge, Libby retraces Cooper’s last hours, eventually unraveling a tale of betrayal, jealousy, and shocking secrets.

The story unfolds from the alternating perspectives of Cooper, Libby, Sebastian and Claire, and shifts between ‘then’, detailing the events that led up to Cooper’s death, and ‘now’, exposing its aftermath.

Though well paced, the novel lacked much of the tension I had been expecting, this is more of a psychological drama than a thriller. I found the plot fairly predictable and while the circumstances surrounding Cooper’s death, when finally revealed, are emotionally powerful, they didn’t come as a surprise to me. However, I found the narrative very compelling, due in no small part to my investment in the characters.

All four protagonists felt genuine in ways to me that other characters in the New Adult genre have rarely done, I believed in their emotion, motivation and actions. The characters have distinct voices, which is important given the structure of the narrative, and are complex individuals. The relationship dynamics are also convincingly drawn.

An engaging read about friendship, first love, loss and lies, I really enjoyed Cooper Bartholomew is Dead. This is Rebecca James’ third novel following on from Beautiful Malice and Sweet Damage.

Available to purchase from

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Also available {Click for my reviews}

awwbadge_2014

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The Its Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at Book Journey.

Life…

So much for best laid plains. I got so little done this past week and I’m not even entirely sure why! It was a short week, with last Monday having been a public holiday, but with the kids back at school I expected time to get on top of things, instead it seems the week was eaten up by committee meetings, school stuff and the launch of basketball season. I’m coaching two teams this season – a grade 6 girls team and a grade 3/4 mixed team (both won their respective games on the weekend!).

I’m willing to take some of the blame –  I’m watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I hadn’t seen even an episode before now but I’ve been curious since reading Lauren Graham’s debut novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe and also because I’m a fan of Parenthood, in which she stars. I didn’t expect to find it so addictive and instead of reading til 2 or 3 in the morning, I’m watching Gilmore Girls episodes instead (I’ve just started Season 4)!

 

What I Read Last Week

 

The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

Love Me or Leave Me by Claudia Carroll

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

 

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review: Outback Ghost by Rachael Johns ★★★★1/2

Review: Killing Adonis by J.M. Donellan ★★★1/2

Review: The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen ★★★

Review: Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher ★★★1/2

Review: Love Me or Leave Me by Claudia Carroll ★★★

Review: Bite Harder by Anonymous-9 ★★★

About: Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

 

What I Am Reading Today

Cooper Bartholomew’s body is found at the foot of a cliff.  Suicide. That’s the official finding, that’s what everyone believes. Cooper’s girlfriend, Libby, has her doubts. They’d been happy, in love. Why would he take his own life? As Libby searches for answers, and probes more deeply into what really happened the day Cooper died, she and her friends unravel a web of deception and betrayal.  Are those friends – and enemies – what they seem?  Who is hiding a dangerous secret? And will the truth set them all free?

 

What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

 

It is London, 1880, and Lucas Jarmyn struggles to make sense of the death of his beloved youngest daughter; his wife, Aurora, seeks solace in rigid social routines; and eighteen-year-old Dinah looks for fulfilment in unusual places. Only the housekeeper, the estimable Mrs Logan, seems able to carry on. A train accident in a provincial town on the railway Lucas owns claims the life of nine-year-old Alice Brinklow and, amid the public outcry, Alice’s father, Thomas, journeys to London demanding justice. As he arrives in the Capital on a frozen January morning his fate, and that of the entire Jarmyn family, will hinge on such strange things as an ill-fated visit to a spiritualist, an errant chicken bone and a single vote cast at a board room meeting. Written with charm, humour and rich period detail, Maggie Joel has created an intriguing novel of a Victorian family adrift in their rapidly changing world.

 

It had been Mother’s secret and mine, one passed down through the de Winter women for generations. I would ensure it was kept that way, until I was ready to pass it on. When Anneke Sheldrake is forced to find a way to support her family after her father is lost at sea, she turns to the business by which her mother’s family once prospered: brewing ale.  Armed with her Dutch mother’s recipes and a belief that anything would be better than the life her vindictive cousin has offered her, she makes a deal with her father’s aristocratic employer: Anneke has six months to succeed or not only will she lose the house but her family as well.  Through her enterprise and determination, she inadvertently earns herself a deadly enemy. Threatened and held in contempt by those she once called friends, Anneke nonetheless thrives. But on the tail of success, tragedy follows and those closest to her pay the greatest price for her daring.  Ashamed, grieving, and bearing a terrible secret, Anneke flees to London, determined to forge her own destiny. Will she be able to escape her past, and those whose only desire is to see her fail? A compelling insight into the brewer’s craft, the strength of women, and the myriad forms love can take.

Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.

Ella, sweet Ella, you were meant to be mine. You can’t begin to imagine all the things I want to do to you. When the time is right, I will come for you . . . A series of hand-delivered letters leaves Ella scared for her life. Someone is watching her. Wanting her. Someone promising revenge. Desperate for the nightmare to end, Ella will do anything to discover the truth. Even join forces with a man who comes with his own danger warning . .

Jo Wheatley, winner of the Great British Bake Off 2011, shares a new collection of the hearty food she brought her three hungry boys up on, the fool proof recipes handed down to her by her Nan, and the treats she delights her extended family and friends with. All of the 100 recipes featured have been taste tested and enjoyed by generations of Jo’s family, and are now ready to be enjoyed by yours. Easy recipes for little ones, tasty pies and tarts, delicious pastries and sumptuous cakes all fill the pages of Home Baking, and all will make you want to roll up your sleeves and turn on the oven. Jo’s recipes are refreshingly simple and honest, and all made regularly for her family. From a classic focaccia, to delicious chocolate and honeycomb bars, perfect American pancakes and a spectacular croquembouche, Home Baking will fill your home with fantastic homemade food all year round.

Thanks for stopping by!

About: Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín

 

Title: Nora Webster

Author: Colm Tóibín

Published: Picador: Pan Macmillan Au October 2014

Read an Extract

Status: Read from October 11 to 12, 2014 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

I am somewhat embarrassed to be declaring this a DNF. Despite the appeal of the premise and some appreciation for Toibin’s style I found I was wholly uninterested in Nora’s grief and finally admitted defeat at the halfway point. However I did request this book for review and Nora Webster is receiving rave reviews from critics, who seem to think it will likely be nominated for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, so I wanted to share it with you.

It is the late 1960s in Ireland. Nora Webster is living in a small town, looking after her four children, trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. She is fiercely intelligent, at times difficult and impatient, at times kind, but she is trapped by her circumstances, and waiting for any chance which will lift her beyond them. Slowly, through the gift of music and the power of friendship, she finds a glimmer of hope and a way of starting again. As the dynamic of the family changes, she seems both fiercely self-possessed but also a figure of great moral ambiguity, making her one of the most memorable heroines in contemporary fiction. The portrait that is painted in the years that follow is harrowing, piercingly insightful, always tender and deeply true.

 

Nora Webster is available to purchase from

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Review: Bite Harder by Anonymous-9

 

Title: Bite Harder

Author: Anonymous-9

Published: Blasted Heath September 2014

Status: Read from September 27 to 28, 2014 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Bite Harder caught my attention on Just A Guy Who Likes To Read, I left a comment and a few days later the author contacted me requesting a review and I decided to give it a shot based on the premise, and Josh’s praise.

Dean Drayhart is a paraplegic amputee, having been severely injured when a hit and run driver ploughed into he and his family on a crosswalk. Drayhart’s young daughter didn’t survive, nor did his marriage, and with little left to lose, Drayhart, along with Sid, his helper monkey/assassin, and Cinda, a prostitute with a heart of gold, embarked on a vigilante spree across L.A., in Hard Bite executing hit and run drivers who thought they had gotten away with their crimes. Bite Harder is the sequel, though it works well enough as a stand alone.

It opens with Dean arrested for the murder of his last target, Ambrose Malalinda, the youngest son of a local drug-dealing crime family who mowed down a father of four. The Malalinda family have already twice attempted to exact their own revenge on Dean by first attacking the police transport during his transfer, which resulted in the death of Ambrose’s older brother Mateo, and then arranging Dean be stabbed to death in his cell. With both attempts thwarted the apoplectic Malalinda matriarch, Orella, takes matters into her own hands and arranges to hijack Dean during a manufactured medical emergency but things quickly go wrong and Dean, reunited with Cinda and looking for Sid, is on the run.

Fast paced and action packed with plenty of humour, bordering on the slapstick at times, Bite Harder is an entertaining read. The characterisation is good, Dean is a well developed protagonist, though the author is fairly reliant on stereotypes for most of the supporting cast. The writing is solid, using both a first and third point of view, but personally I would prefer character’s don’t address the reader directly, as Dean does on occasion.

A quick, aggressive and darkly funny read, I enjoyed Bite Harder, and I’m glad I gave it a shot.

Bite Harder is available to purchase from

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Review: Love Me or Leave Me by Claudia Carroll

 

Title: Love Me or Leave Me

Author: Claudia Carroll

Published: Avon: Harper Collins UK October 2014

Read an Extract

Status: Read from October 09 to 10, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the The Light Brigade/publisher}

My Thoughts:

“A divorce hotel. Where you check in married and check out single….This would be a place where two unhappy souls could quickly tie up loose ends and where something that had long been a source of acute pain to both, could gently be eased out if its misery. At least that was the general idea.”

Claudia Carroll’s 11th book, Love Me or Leave Me, is a lively romantic comedy about love, betrayal, divorce and new beginnings. Chloe Townsend is certain she has the professional experience, and personal empathy as a jilted bride, to make Dublin’s newest luxury niche hotel catering to amicably divorcing couples a success and she is determined to ensure its opening weekend will prove it. But true love, and its dissolution, never runs smooth, and with her boss hovering over her shoulder, and her ex-fiance making an appearance, the honeymoon period might be over before its even begun.

The narrative unfolds from the perspectives of Chloe, and three of the guests, Dawn, Jo and Lucy, who slowly reveal why they believe their short marriages have reached crisis point. Dawn, young and heartbroken, can’t forgive her husband, Kirk, who is embroiled in an affair; Jo, a control freak struggling with infertility, regards Dave, an often out of work actor, as irresponsible; and supermodel Lucy believes her marriage to Andrew has disintegrated due to his grown children’s sabotage. Of course none of the women are entirely blameless, and almost uniformly the men are reluctant partners in the divorce.

“There is his story, her story and then somewhere in the middle lies the truth.”

As the weekend develops, the couples are forced to confront each other and deal with their mistakes and misunderstandings. Carroll presents their issues sensitively but also with plenty of humour. There is a frisson of suspense built up as reconciliation seems possible for some of the couples, and plenty of drama, from screaming arguments to medical emergencies.

With well drawn characters, and plenty of humour and heart, Love Me or Leave Me is an engaging and entertaining novel where everyone gets their happy ever after.

 

Love Me or Leave Me is available to purchase from

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Review: Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

 

Title: Dear Committee Members

Author: Julie Schumacher

Published: The Friday Project: Harper Collins UK October 2014

Status: Read from October 07 to 09, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Presented wholly in epistolary form, Dear Committee Members is a short, witty novel exposing the weary cynicism of an aging college English and Creative Writing professor under siege from budget cuts, rampant bureaucracy, renovations, online forms and desperate students.

Over a year Professor Jason Fitger writes many letters, spurning the modern day convenience of email where possible, to complain about the lavish renovations occurring on the floor above him in the Economics department while the Humanties department slowly suffocates among the dust, to lobby whomever he can think of, enemy or no, to grant his favoured writing student a fiduciary break, and to recommend both past and present graduates, some of whom he has never met, for jobs they are wildly over qualified for.

Into each missive creeps increasingly brutally honest snippets of Jay’s frustrations with his stalled writing career and his disastrous love life, his contempt for university politics, and his dismay at the dwindling esteem for language and literature. Though painted as an opinionated, surly curmudgeon, it becomes obvious that Fitger is also a passionate and dedicated teacher whom wants the respect he feels his department and its denizens deserve.

Bitterly funny and surprisingly poignant, Dear Committee Members is a scathing commentary on the foibles of academic administration, and an eloquent argument for the rescue of Humanties studies.

Dear Committee Members is available to purchase at

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