Marshmallows for Breakfast by Dorothy Koomson

marshmallows for breakfast

Synopsis from Amazon:

When Kendra Tamale returns to England from Australia she rents a room from Kyle, a divorced father of two, and begins a new job. She’s looking forward to a fresh start and simple life. Kyle’s five-year-old twins, Summer and Jaxon, have other ideas and quickly adopt Kendra as their new mother – mainly because she lets them eat marshmallows for breakfast. Kendra eventually becomes a part of their lives, even though she’s hiding a painful secret that makes her keep everyone – especially children – at arm’s length. Then Kendra bumps into the man who shares her awful secret, and things fall apart: she can’t sleep, she can’t eat, she’s suspended from work, and the kids are taken away by their mother. The only way to fix things is to confess to the terrible mistake she made all those years ago. But that’s something she swore never to do …

This is a truly beautiful book which touched a whole range of emotions. This is chick-lit, but with hard issues that add amazing depth to this book. Kendra is good at running away. Something bad happened to her when she was twenty. It changed her. She became someone who didn’t really feel, she became jumpy and she locked away her feelings. When a chance to leave England arose, she leapt at the chance, and off to Australia she went. But she fell in love over there, with someone who she couldn’t have. So she returned to England when she could, and move into the studio in the Gadsborough’s back garden. She has the shock of her life when she wakes up on the first morning to see Summer and Jaxon, six year old twins standing in her flat. She soon grows attached to them, as she realises their life is falling apart because their parents are getting a divorce. For someone who wanted to keep away from children, she quickly becomes their “other mumma”, and can’t live without them. So when their mum kidnaps them she is distraught. alongside that, she has to face up to what happened to her when she was young, and the reason why she left Australia.

There is so much addressed in this book. Ashlyn, the twins mother is an alcoholic, there is attempted suicide, rape and divorce. Brave issues to tackle in a novel, but Koomson handled all of them well, and she brought believable and realistic conclusions to each issue. She dedicates sections and memories to each issue and storyline so they are thoroughly examined. This in effect means Koomson can look into these issues properly, but it also allows the characters to develop in their own right.

I loved the characters, and Koomson writes in such a way that I was completely in tune with them. When the twins were upset or scared my heart broke for them; when they went missing I felt Kendra’s pain and anguish – this is just a well written novel. I loved the twins. They were easily my favourite characters. They were so vulnerable and so easy to love. They were just gorgeous children.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a gripping book that I didn’t want to put down. Well worth reading even if chick-lit is not a genre you usually enjoy.

9/10

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

the undomestic goddess

Synopsis from Amazon:

The story of a girl who needs to slow down. To find herself. To fall in love. And to discover what an iron is for…Samantha is a high-powered lawyer in London. She works all hours, has no home life, and cares only about getting a partnership. She thrives on the pressure and adrenalin. Until one day…she makes a mistake. A mistake so huge, it’ll wreck her career. She walks right out of the office, gets on the first train she sees, and finds herself in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she is mistaken for the interviewee housekeeper and finds herself being offered the job. They have no idea they’ve hired a Cambridge-educated lawyer with an IQ of 158 – Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. Disaster ensues. It’s chaos as Samantha battles with the washing machine…the ironing board…and attempts to cook a cordon bleu dinner. But gradually, she falls in love with her new life in a wholly unexpected way. Will her employers ever discover the truth? Will Samantha’s old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?

Samantha is one of the best lawyers in England – then she discovers a memo on her desk that needed urgent attention a few weeks before. This is a £50 million mistake. When she realises what has happened, she flees. She jumps onto the first train and ends up in the countryside. When she stops at a house for help she is mistaken as a housekeeper. Not knowing what she is doing she accepts the job. Except she doesn’t even know how to use a toaster, how is she going to cope? And will London ever find her?

This was a fun book. This is easy chick-lit reading. I found it amusing and a quick read. It wasn’t particularly believable, but I was hooked anyway. Kinsella is great at this genre. She writes wonderful characters, amusing characters and ones you can easily fall in love with. I liked Nathaniel’s mother, a solid lady, happy to look out for her son and Samantha, and happy to help in every way.

I think you will only enjoy this if you like Kinsella’s work and if you like chick-lit. However, I loved it! It only took me a couple of days to finish it. Yes it was predictable and unrealistic, but thoroughly enjoyable.

9/10

31 Dream Street by Lisa Jewell

cover-dreamstreetSynopsis from Amazon:

Leah and Toby have lived across the street from one another for years without meeting … and Leah has been itching to peek behind the front door of Toby’s eccentric house, always packed to the rafters with weird and wonderful tenants. When fate finally lets her in, Leah finds that Toby needs her as much as she is surprised to realize she might need him. Sometimes life needs a helping hand and with a sprinkle of romance and their own special magic, Toby and Leah’s dreams show the glimmer of a chance of coming true. 31 Dream Street is a wonderfully warm and insightful novel that will capture the imagination and soothe the soul.

One ordinary day Leah is going about her business when she notices the old man from across the street lying face down on the ground. She goes to investigate and discovers he has died. She runs to the eccentric house for help and meets Toby, the owner. This is their first meeting and a friendship is quickly born. Time spent together brings Toby out of his shell, helps him make some decisions about the house and enables him to befriend his tenants. It also has Leah re-examining her life. This death has been the beginning of many changes….

I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable book. I have read Jewell’s Thirty-something and Ralph’s Party, and enjoyed both, so I had high hopes for this novel, and I think I enjoyed it even more than the other two. This is pure chick-lit, but a wonderful read. It is over 400 pages long, but I read most of it in a day. It is engaging, humorous and a great read.

I loved Leah and Toby, but they are not the only characters whose stories are told in this book. Toby’s tenants are introduced as well and woven into the story. They have their own chapters so we can get to know them as well. This adds to the story, making it more enjoyable as you want to know what is going to happen to the house mates, as well as wanting to know about their past.

Jewell looks at the illness Cystic Fibrosis. She examines the disease through a conversation and looks at how it can affect people’s lives, as well as fears of those first encountering the illness. She also describes how this can negatively affect relationships. I think this was very well written and dealt with.

The only thing I did not like about the book was the swearing. I found there to be too much of it and it spoiled the book.

Overall, a great chick-lit book, highly recommended.

8/10

Pemberley by Emma Tennant

pemberley

Synopsis from Amazon:

Attempting a sequel to “Pride and Prejudice”, this novel brings the original characters back to life. It is a story in which their pasts catch up with them, yielding dramatic results.

Pemberley is a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The story is based at Darcy’s Derbyshire mansion, where Elizabeth is now residing as his wife. Everything seems blissful – Darcy has been softened and loves doting on Elizabeth, but all is about to return to how things were before the wedding as it is Christmas, and everyone in the family are embarking on a trip to Pemberley. Elizabeth is very concerned: Jane is about to give birth, Wickham will be present, and what about her mother? Will she keep her cool? Will Darcy revert to his prideful, sullen self? Is Christmas going to be a disaster?

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I was concerned that it would just be a copy of Pride and Prejudice, but it isn’t. It holds it own, and although the characters are the same, as are the location, it is not the same as Pride and Prejudice.

I liked that Tennant was consistant with the characters – so Mr. Collins was as ridiculous as ever, and Mrs. Bennett as flamboyant as Austen wrote her. Tennant added new characters too, which I think helped her move away from Austen’s work and helped her novel to develop on its own accord.

This is not a long book – it is under 200 pages. It was an easy and enjoyable read. I was drawn in  and connected with the wonderful characters again. I was eager to find out what would happen in the end. The story was a fun read but I did think the ending was a bit rushed. However, I will be looking to read Tennant’s new installment: Pemberley Revisited.

If you like Pride and Prejudice I don’t think you will be disappointed by this novel. Obviously not as good as the original it is a great follow up book.

8/10

Speaking of Love by Angela Young

speaking of love

Synopsis from Beautiful Books:

When human beings don’t talk about love, things go wrong.

If a mother had told her daughter that she loved her, they might not have spent years apart. If a man had found the courage to tell a woman that he loved her she might never have married another man. And if a father had told his daughter that he loved her when her mother died, she might not have suffered the breakdown that caused the rift with her own daughter.

But if you are born into a family that never talks about love, how do you learn to say the words?

SPEAKING of LOVE is a novel about what happens when people who love each other don’t say so. It deals passionately and honestly with human breakdown. And it tells of our need for stories and how stories can help make sense of the random nature of life.

This is Young’s first novel, and in my opinion it is a success. The book follows three people: Iris, Vivie and Matthew. Iris is Vivie’s mother and suffers from mental health issues and suffers a devastating break down. Vivie is only young when this happens and it emotionally scars to the point she feels like her life is collapsing around her. Matthew is a few years older than Vivie and they grew up as next door neighbours. Matthew is in love with Vivie but cannot tells her how he feels. In fact, none of them can voice their feelings; leading to heartbreak and separation. But in a special twist of fate, a storytelling event where Iris is speaking brings all of them together…will feelings be voiced and hurts mended?

This was a beautiful book. It took a little while to get going, and to be honest I did think about stopping reading it; however I am so glad I pushed on. As the story unfolds it is gripping and real. I would not class this as chick-lit or romance fiction because the main theme alongside love is mental health. Most of the consequences in the book arise from Iris’ illness and Young honestly explores the repercussion of being so ill and having a breakdown.

One aspect I really enjoyed was the fact Iris was a story teller. Not just that but some of her stories are published in the book, and they were lovely to read.

The book flits between Iris, Vivie and Matthew; and it flows easily between the three. Alongside that, they all slip into memories gracefully and this explains how they were feeling, recalls events that changed their lives and gives an insight into Iris’ illness.

This is not a fast read, however it is a wonderful book and I recommend it for everyone.

8/10

Published by: Beautiful Books

RRP: £7.99

The Last Good Man by Patience Swift

the last good man


Synopsis from Beautiful Books:

His solitude is broken by the discovery, one early morning on the flat sands of a low tide, of a child washed up on the beach. Somehow, she is still alive.

In the village, a woman reflects on a lifelong fascination with an ancient love story as she faces an unknown future.

The new arrival on the beach sets in chain a sequence of events that no-one can alter, and in this mystical and powerful novel, we witness a man experiencing our world as though for the first time.

Discover Sam: the last good man on earth.

Sam is a loner, but he likes that. He enjoys his own company, and the company of nature. His life is shaken up when he finds a girl washed up on the beach. He takes her in and looks after her. Isobel is also alone, back in the village to deal with her mother’s estate. She has been looking for love that she has read about, but without success. She crosses Sam’s path too, and things start to look up. Sam takes in the two ladies and his life changes for good….

This is a short book. It is descriptive and enjoyable. It is an easy read, with short, simple sentences. The book flowed and was a lovely read, even though it is a tragic read. It is beautiful read. Swift writes gorgeous characters, and wonderful scenery. Sam was sweet and caring. Isobel was vulnerable, with a troubled streak. The girl is silent, but was happy and a lovely read.

I found the ending a bit strange. The majority of the book was written in third person and then in the last few pages the book switches to first person. The ending is sad, but I felt it was a bit inconclusive. However, I do recommend this book, I really enjoyed it.

9/10

Love Begins in Winter by Simon van Booy

love begins in winter

Synopsis from http://www.harpercollins.com:

On the verge of giving up—anchored to dreams that never came true and to people who have long since disappeared from their lives—Van Booy’s characters walk the streets of these stark and beautiful stories until chance meetings with strangers force them to face responsibility for lives they thought had continued on without them.

This book contains five short stories. In all of them the protagonist is lost and looking for love. They all find it, but the journey each take are individual and life-changing. The characters are all likeable, and you find yourself wanting the best for them. The outcomes are not always as you expect, but that just adds to the joy of this book.

This is a beautiful book. Everything from the cover design to the stories is just gorgeous. Van Booy explores the power of children, growing up and the power music can have. The sentences are short but the stories just flow from the pages. It is a quick read, gripping and thrilling. This is a real page-turner. As I sit writing this I can’t think of a bad thing to say about this book. I was hooked right from the beginning. All five stories are different but with one theme: love. This is an uplifting book, and I highly recommend it.

10/10