Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pedigree Mum – Fiona Gibson

Kerry Tambini and her husband, Rob, get an offer to live by the sea in a small village called Shorling. After an idyllic family day out there they decide to leave the hustle and bustle of London behind and move with their two children to the coast. Then Rob makes the biggest mistake of his life and the whole family dynamic is changed.

Kerry soon realises how hard it is to bring up her children single-handedly in a village full of competitive, un-friendly mum’s. She feels heartbroken for her struggling children who are missing their father enormously, so, after months of them begging for a dog and in an attempt to cheer them up, she finally decides to adopt one.

Enter, Buddy!

The children and Kerry instantly fall in love with Buddy and his wayward ways and very soon he begins to fill part of the gap they all have in their lives. Then, just as things start to settle a little, Kerry finds she has a couple of admirers in Shorling but she struggles to feel romantic towards anyone after being so badly let down by Rob.

Firstly, let me say thank you to Dot at Dot Scribbles for sending me this book to review. This is the first Fiona Gibson book I have read and it was so enjoyable, I devoured it in a couple of days.

Underneath the funny and cringe-worthy happenings in each of these character’s lives, there are some serious issues being dealt with in the story which, on the whole, I think Fiona Gibson handles with honesty and humour. My only tiny comment would be that I feel Rob is treated very unsympathetically throughout the book and although he makes a huge mistake, I did feel a little bit sorry for him. Apart from that, I found this book to be entertaining and well worth setting aside some time to read. It is ideal for a holiday read.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Stranded - Emily Barr

To continue with the “Summer Holiday Reads” theme, here is a review of a brilliant psychological thriller set on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean off the coast of Malaysia. It will have you looking over your shoulder as you bask in the sun!

Stranded – Emily Barr

After the breakdown of her marriage, Esther Lomax needs to escape. She is hoping a little R&R on the beaches and islands of Malaysia will be just the thing to help her de-stress and get on the road to recovery.

A couple of days into her holiday at the beach resort, Esther takes a boat day trip with six other holiday makers to have lunch, catch some sunshine and seek solitude on an uninhabited island. It is peaceful and quiet there and as they begin to set up the cooking facilities, the guide realises he has forgotten to bring some essential equipment for the day and decides to go back to collect what they need, promising to return within the hour.

The hour passes, then another hour, then the afternoon and then the day, but, neither the guide nor a boat returns to collect them. Slowly this group of strangers all begin to realise they are stranded together, in the middle of the ocean on a remote, uninhabited island without food and more importantly, without drinking water. The days pass by, tensions rise and secrets emerge and Ester and her companions are tested to the limit in order to survive. Will they ever see the mainland again? Esther begins to wonder; ‘if no-one knows you are missing, how can you be found?’

This book was sent to me by my lovely friend, Dot, from Dot Scribbles. It is not a book I would have picked up myself and what a shame that would have been because I loved every word of it and could not put it down once I started reading.

The storyline may sound familiar and even a little contrived; people stranded on an uninhabited island, nobody knows they are missing, they have to struggle for survival etc, but, this story is anything but contrived, each person has their own story and as time goes by more and more is revealed. It is packed with surprising twists and turns and even though I thought I had it all figured out towards the end, I was completely wrong about what was going on! So wrong, in fact, that I began reading it again as soon as I had finished to see where the clues were hidden along the way. They are not easy to find and it is a testimony to Emily Barr’s clever storytelling that this is such a great book and such a thrilling read.

If you like testing your powers of detection and enjoy stories about people in tense situations, then this is the book for you. I can highly recommend it as a classic summer read; one which may make you think twice about taking a boat trip anywhere!


Friday, June 7, 2013

A Cottage by the Sea – Carole Matthews

As summer is upon us, for the next few posts I will be reviewing books which are just perfect for reading to get into the mood for summer sunshine and happy holidays. The first in this collection is Carole Matthews’ latest book, A Cottage by the Sea.

Ella, Flick and Grace have been friends for years. They have shared heartaches and celebrations and although it is a while since they lived together at university, when Ella inherits Cwtch (pronounced Cutch)Cottage on the Welsh coast, she invites her two friends for a week away by the sea.

Grace is now married to Harry who is older than her and has become rather fond of drinking way too much these last couple of years. She feels the strain of their relationship as they seem to grow further and further apart so she is hoping that this week away with him and her friends and their partners will be just the boost they need to help their flailing marriage.

Ella and Art have been together for years. Art leads a rock and roll lifestyle looking after major rock bands. He often has to go on tour with them, leaving Ella behind. When she inherits Cwtch Cottage Art encourages her to sell it as it doesn’t really fit in with his image and lifestyle. Ella, however, has so many lovely childhood memories of visiting the cottage during the long summer holidays when she was growing up. She loves the place and cannot imagine selling up.

Flick is the wild one of the group. Single, with an eye for attached men, she rolls up to the cottage with the charming and handsome Noah who hasn’t met any of the rest of the group before.

The atmosphere is filled with expectation, hope and longing and what a week of discovery, forbidden love and surprises it turns out to be when they all spend time together in A Cottage by the Sea.

Let me start by saying that I love Carole Matthews’ books and this one did not disappoint. Set in and around a cottage by the beautiful South Wales seaside, this story is of three best friends who met at university and although they are still close, don’t get to spend as much time with each other as they used to. Ella decides to make up for that by inviting her friends and their other halves to her cottage for a week’s holiday together.

As the days pass by the group seems to fall into two parts with those who love to party, drink and stay up into the wee small hours and those who like to make the most of the beautiful scenery and feel happier watching the sunset rather than drinking sun-downer’s or having long lunches in nearby pubs.

A Cottage by the Sea is a lovely story of friendship, love, relationships and the South Wales seaside which is breathtakingly beautiful under Carole Matthews’ penmanship. If you want a lovely summer read that will take you on an interesting journey then this is the book for you.


Monday, June 3, 2013

The Angel at No. 33 – Polly Williams

Sophie and Jenny have been friends since university days when they met for the first time in their new dorm. Through thick and thin they have been there for each other. Sophie is now married to the smoulderingly handsome, Ollie, they have the adorable Freddie and her life seems perfect, whilst Jenny is still single, but still, they are more like sisters than just friends.

Jenny has been engaged for over a year, but, despite the fact that they agreed to a short engagement, there seems to be no sign of getting any closer to setting a date with Sam who is quite prepared to keep changing the subject when it comes up.

One night, after too much wine during a fabulous catch up get together, Sophie is hit by a bus and killed outright in front of Jenny. Everyone’s life changes from that moment on and Ollie, Jenny and Freddie have to begin to come to terms with the loss of the most pivotal and influential person in each of their lives.

When Ollie is lost and devastated and Freddie seems sad, the” Help Ollie campaign team” which consists of four mum’s who were friends of Sophie’s from her local neighbourhood, decide come the rescue . They forged a firm friendship with Sophie during hours of gossip waiting outside the school gate and bonded over school fundraisers and bake sales. They meet Jenny for the first time at Sophie’s funeral and plot to draft her into their ranks to lead the mission of cheering Ollie up and making sure Freddie gets more to eat than cereal or biscuits. Jenny begins to discover a side of Sophie she had no idea existed and is soon drawn into the lives of these generous women who each have troubles of their own.

This is a funny, beautifully written and touching story of love, motherhood, friendship and dealing with grief. The thing I liked most about it was that although Sophie lingers on after her death and is an observer and often a narrator of events that happen after her death in this story, she has very little or no physical influence on how things unfold and begins to think she is a useless ghost. Polly Williams draws a wonderful picture of how a person can influence those closest to them even after their death. She deftly paints a picture of how we feel the presence of our loved ones long after they have gone because of the impact they had on us during their lifetime.

It is the first Polly Williams book I have read and it will not be the last. I am so excited to have found her work.