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Dot (UK)

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The Cake Shop in the Garden
The Cake Shop in the Garden
Price: £3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars is Carole Matthews' best book! I think it is possibly her longest ..., 16 Feb. 2015
The Cake Shop in the Garden, in my opinion, is Carole Matthews' best book! I think it is possibly her longest at 432 pages but I devoured it very quickly.
Fay Merryweather is the central character, she runs The Canal Side Cafe from her childhood home with the help of her Russian assistant Lija. She loves running the cafe but it is also a necessity as she is the sole carer of her mother. There is not actually anything medically wrong with Fay's mum but she took to her bed several years ago and is refusing to budge

. Fay's sister Edie couldn't care less, she lives in New York and hasn't visited for years. She only really contacts Fay if she needs her to move some money to her ever dwindling bank account.So Fay has a lot to deal with; she does have a long-term partner Anthony but he seems to be more interested in his hand-bell ringing hobby than putting any effort into their relationship.
Fay is just plodding along, she knows that she's not necessarily happy but she feels trapped by it all, especially her responsibilities to her mother. Danny Wilde turns up on his boat one morning at the bottom of Fay's garden and makes her realise that she deserves so much more. He quit his job in the city and is looking for work so he ends up helping Fay tidy the garden ready for the summer. The attraction between them is instant and palpable but Fay has Anthony and the business to run whereas Danny is just embarking on a new adventure. Fay's world is thrown into even more turmoil when tragedy strikes at the heart of her family. Will she be able to hold it all together and does she really want to?
I loved, loved, loved Fay! I could have shaken her at times but she is a brilliant character. You get a real sense of the weight of responsibility she has on her shoulders; she doesn't do anything without thinking about how it will affect everyone else first. Danny is exactly what she needs; someone to give her a jolt so she notices that life is just passing her by.
Lija, Fay's assistant is one of the best characters Carole has ever created. She is feisty, loyal to Fay and very, very funny. She provided me with many laugh out loud moments and was one of my favourite parts of the book.
There was a huge and brilliant twist at the end of the book which I in no way saw coming. I really couldn't believe what I was reading, Carole really pulls it out of the bag with this one!
I think people are going to love The Cake Shop in the Garden, it's a great story, good characters, a few surprises, humour, warmth and plenty of cake, what's not to like?

Three Amazing Things About You
Three Amazing Things About You
by Jill Mansell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Three Amazing Things About You is Jill Mansell's latest fantastic book, 16 Feb. 2015
Three Amazing Things About You is Jill Mansell's latest fantastic book. I read it in just over a day and it reminded me how much I enjoy this author's writing.
Hallie is the central character, she is only 26 but she has cystic fibrosis so she is very aware that her time is limited. She has very strong feelings for Luke but she can't act upon them as while Luke is a good friend he is also her GP. Hallie keeps her feelings a secret but how will she take it if he meets someone else?
Flo is another lovely character and she becomes more and more important as the book develops. Her attraction to Zander is a shock to her but she completely underestimated his nightmare sister who will do everything she can to wreck their happiness.
Tasha meets Rory in a very entertaining way but she can't believe how quickly she falls in love. He's a complete adrenalin junkie and his friends question whether she is too sedate for him. When their relationship is put under a huge pressure, Tash shows to everyone just how much she loves Rory and will do all she can to be by his side.
These separate characters come in to each other's lives at several points without interacting; they may just be in the same place or mention a shared acquaintance. I think this really helped explore the idea of fate, how much of our destiny do we actually control?
I think that one of the things Jill Mansell does best is the interaction between her characters. Her dialogue is effortless which makes them more believable.
Cystic fibrosis is a big issue to approach and I felt that it was handled really well. I know somebody who has cystic fibrosis and I really did feel that it was clear to see that Jill Mansell had done her research. I was very impressed with how this book will raise awareness about cystic fibrosis and organ donation.
Three Amazing Things About You had me in tears at the end. It is an excellent book and I would highly recommend it.

Fragile Lies
Fragile Lies
by Laura Elliot
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed this book, 16 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Fragile Lies (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, Fragile Lies by Laura Elliot drew me in from the very first page and I had read it in a couple of days.
Michael Carmody and Lorraine Cheevers are the main characters. Michael's teenage son is lying in a coma after being left for dead in a hit and run accident. Well-known artist Lorraine is moving to the countryside after her marriage was torn apart by her husband's illicit affair. Lorraine wants to get away from it all and concentrate on raising her daughter Emily. Yet Michael and Lorraine are both drawn together, having no idea that they are already linked. As Michael pursues the truth about his son's accident, Lorraine looks for the truth about the nature of her husband's affair.As the truth starts to be revealed, it is not certain if Michael and Lorraine's new love will take the strain.
Fragile Lies has a little bit of everything, love, tragedy, infidelity, lies and secrets. I thought that Laura Elliot set up the story perfectly at the beginning and then she kept the plot going at an excellent pace. The characters are quite complex and I think this added a real edge to the book; they felt very well thought out and I loved how the author weaved their separate stories together.
The family aspect of the book was also interesting. Lorraine and Michael are both very successful in their careers but if you strip everything away they are completely devoted to their children. Michael cannot rest until he gets justice for his son and Lorraine wants to do everything she can to protect her daughter, no matter how much Emily resents it.
Laura Elliot is a new author for me but I would highly recommend Fragile Lies. Excellent plot, interesting characters and plenty of intrigue.

The Girl in the Photograph
The Girl in the Photograph
by Kate Riordan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars there is a lot of bad feeling in the house and she begins to question ..., 16 Feb. 2015
I was very attracted to this book when I saw a few reviews comparing it to Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I can see why comparisons have been made but I think this book had a very different feel to it.
The book flits between two characters, Alice Eveleigh and Lady Elizabeth Stanton; Alice in 1933 and Elizabeth at least a generation before. Alice is in disgrace after falling pregnant to a married man. She has come to Firecombe to have her baby in secret. She comes across a few photographs of Elizabeth Stanton and is intrigued by the woman who used to live in the house. Mrs Jelphs is the current housekeeper and she used to be Elizabeth's maid but she will not talk of her old mistress which just intrigues Alice even more. As Alice begins to discover Firecombe's tragic past she begins to wonder how it will affect the present; there is a lot of bad feeling in the house and she begins to question whether it is a place of safety for her or not.
I liked both Alice and Elizabeth but I found Elizabeth's story slightly more interesting. It becomes very clear that she suffered from post-natal depression but in those times it was not recognised and women were often locked in asylums and deemed insane. The treatment Elizabeth received altered her forever and effectively tore her family apart. It was fascinating to see how post-natal depression was viewed at the time and the treatment that women received.
Kate Riordan has written an interesting and enticing book. The tension is very high in places but there were a few parts that I felt were a little too long. I did like how she brought the characters of Alice and Elizabeth together. The subtle way in which she intertwined their stories was very good.
I love books that are set in big houses and go back and forth in time. The Girl in the Photograph has a very good plot and interesting characters, I would highly recommend.

The Lemon Grove
The Lemon Grove
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Lemon Grove, 15 Aug. 2014
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Kindle Edition)
This book is tense with a capital 'T', Helen Walsh begins building the tension from the very beginning and simply does not let up. The front cover of this book is stunning but don't be fooled by the blurb; it could come across as a bit of a beach romp but it is far more complex than your average holiday bonk buster.
Jenn and Greg holiday each year on the beautiful west coast of Mallorca, this year is going to be different as Jenn's fifteen year old step-daughter is bringing along her new boyfriend, 17 year old Nathan. Emma and Nathan's arrival awakens several different feelings in Jenn; a resentment of Greg; a sadness over what life could have been, tensions and deep-rooted issues with her step-daughter and more importantly, a deep desire for Nathan which she is unable to ignore.
The tension between Jenn and Nathan is immediately palpable. Helen Walsh is so good at building up the little details, a glance here, a touch on the arm there; it all builds up to several very passionate encounters. The author is quite explicit in her descriptions of Jenn and Nathan, she shows the carnal need of both of them but then we learn of Jenn's feelings about it; how she feels about being the older woman; how she views her body and these new feelings that have possessed her.
The Lemon Grove can be quite an uncomfortable read at times but I don't think Helen Walsh had any intention of putting her readers at ease. I can't say that I particularly liked any of the characters; they all seemed incredibly selfish in their own ways.
This is the first book that I have read by Helen Walsh, I found it riveting and would highly recommend The Lemon Grove.

The Tea Chest
The Tea Chest
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The Tea Chest, 15 Aug. 2014
This review is from: The Tea Chest (Kindle Edition)
The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon is a charming read. Kate Fullerton is the lead character who finds herself unexpectedly owning half of a business. It is a business that she is passionate about but Kate has been working at The Tea Chest as the head designer and she knows nothing about running a business but in her heart she knows she wants to make it work. Kate has to leave her home and family in Australia and fly to London to set up a whole new store. She ends up employing three other women, Leila, Elizabeth and her sister Victoria. She has
to trust these women to help her fulfil her vision and keep the company going.
I found The Tea Chest a little difficult to get into at the beginning as I felt that it took a while for the main characters to come together but once they did I was completely captivated by the story. All four women are extremely likeable characters and they each bring their own individual story lines which add up to a very interesting read.
Josephine Moon must have spent a lot of time researching tea; tea is one of my favourite things so I really enjoyed that aspect of the book, reading about the many different blends and ways to prepare it. I felt that this information made the story much more realistic and believable, I totally believed in The Tea Chest as a business and wanted it to succeed.
The Tea Chest is a heart warming read, I'm looking forward to reading more by this author.

Unravelling Oliver
Unravelling Oliver
Price: £4.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unravelling Oliver, 15 Aug. 2014
Unravelling Oliver was a particularly interesting read. Oliver Ryan is a shocking character and I know that I will be thinking about this book for a long time. The opening line of the book immediately grabs you and draws you into the story:
I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.
At this point we don't know Oliver or Alice so you have no idea what has happened or why. The rest of the book explores Oliver's character an why he has physically assaulted his wife.
Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective, the only character we don't hear from is Alice. I loved this style of narration as it slowly built up a picture of Oliver and the monstrous acts he had committed throughout his life. I didn't feel that I came to any real conclusions about Oliver, he clearly suffered a loveless childhood but I didn't necessarily feel that this warranted his treatment of others, especially Alice.
Liz Nugent tells her story beautifully, it felt like quite a traditional story. She subtly built it up layer by layer; it felt effortless and it was very easy to immerse yourself in the tale.
Unravelling Oliver is an accomplished debut novel, Liz Nugent's writing is beautiful and captivating and I hope there will be more.

A Gift to Remember
A Gift to Remember
Price: £3.32

4.0 out of 5 stars A Gift to Remember, 15 Aug. 2014
I adored this book from start to finish. The only other book I have read by Melissa Hill is Something From Tiffanys but I will certainly be working my way through her other books now.
A Gift to Remember focuses on Darcy Archer; she is the manager of a
beautiful book store called Chalkers. She always has her head in a book and so is still looking for Mr Right but who will measure up to all of the great fictional men she has been filling her head with? Step in Aidan Harris who Darcy literally knocks over with her bike. Lying on the pavement, Darcy can see that Aidan is every bit as handsome as Mr Rochester but the problem is that due to the collision, he has absolutely no idea who he is. The book follows Darcy as she sets about helping Aidan to remember which is no mean feat but the more she does find out, the more she likes him but who knows if he is free or not to like her back.
Darcy Archer is a lovely character who I warmed to instantly (a little bit of this was because my daughter has the same name). As a fellow book worm, I very much identified with Darcy; often the people who I meet in real life do not match up to the fictional characters that I enjoy. Aidan is also a very good character; he is clearly handsome and Melissa Hill feeds the reader snippets that leave you wanting more.
A Gift to Remember has a really lively pace. I was on holiday but it still only took me just over a day to read it. Melissa Hill brought in a lot of humour through some of the smaller characters which I really enjoyed and I loved her descriptions of New York and its different establishments. A Gift to Remember is a fantastic read; it is romantic, funny and heart warming. I'm looking forward to catching up with some of Melissa's other books.

Life After Life
Life After Life
Price: £4.93

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life after Life, 15 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Life After Life (Kindle Edition)
I need to start this review with an apology as I know that I will not be able to do this book justice, so sorry about that but please do read on as I want everyone to read this book!
My only other experience of Kate Atkinson was reading Behind the Scenes at the Museum for GCSE English literature. I didn't like it. Looking back, I think I was too young to appreciate the wonderful nuances of Kate Atkinson's writing. Sadly this has led me to steering clear of this author ever since; that was until I read the intriguing blurb for Life After Life.

Gillian Flynn is quoted as saying:
"One of the best novels I've read this century."
I have to say that I feel exactly the same way. I am never giving my copy up as I know it is going to be re-read many times.
The protagonist, Ursula Todd, is born again and again on 11th February 1910. She is born into the same family each time but her life varies greatly in each instance. For example, in one she doesn't even make it through the birth; in another she develops into a young woman who assassinates Hitler thus preventing the war; in another she is a down trodden housewife and then we also see her growing up to live in Germany during the war, even finding a place in Hitler's inner sanctum.
Life After Life is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. It took me a good few chapters to get my head round the concept but once I had stopped questioning Ursula's constant rebirth, I was utterly gripped and swept away with the story. The concept though, cannot be ignored and I felt that whilst I was enjoying the story, the idea of reincarnation was constantly buzzing away in the background. I have not read a book for a long time that has given me so much to think about; a book that has made me look and question the choices I have made in my own life, the inevitable What if?
In the author's note at the end of the book, Kate Atkinson said that she had always wanted to write a book about the idea of Hitler not coming to power but she did not want it to be cliched as it so easily could. She said that she wanted to write:
"...something downright trickier, something multi layered and slightly fractal..."
I felt that she went above and beyond that; the book has so many different layers; as a reader it was a delight to be constantly presented with something new even though the book is repetitive in its nature.
There's just so much to talk about with this book, as I said, my review will not do it justice. The aspect that stood out to me was Kate Atkinson's descriptions of the Blitz in London and on the other side, the destruction in Berlin. These descriptions took up a large part of the book and they were exceptional. I thought that Kate Atkinson captured the human aspect of war; the innocent victims caught up in it. Ordinary domestic situations obliterated to extraordinary tragedy.
I cannot urge you to read Life After Life enough, I know that I will discover more and more each time I read it. I think I will be spending the next few months catching up with Kate Atkinson's other books, let me know if you have any particular favourites!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 22, 2014 1:39 PM BST

Eeny Meeny: DI Helen Grace 1 (A DI Helen Grace Thriller)
Eeny Meeny: DI Helen Grace 1 (A DI Helen Grace Thriller)
Price: £5.53

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eeny Meeny, 15 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I had seen this book pop up on a few people's blogs and TBR piles and I liked the idea of it; in the main I wasn't disappointed. M.J. Arlidge has worked in television for the past 15 years (I read that it was actually the pseudonym of the TV magician Paul Daniels but sadly this is not true!) producing prime time crime serials. Eeny Meeny is his debut novel but his TV experience shines through and there were several points where I could easily imagine the book being adapted for television.
M.J. Arlidge immediately takes you into the action, with the first two victims, Sam and Amy. Would you kill or be killed? That is the question the author repeatedly presents. It is almost a look at human nature and our natural instinct for survival. Helen Grace is the Detective Inspector called in to head up the case, at first she cannot comprehend what has happened to Sam and Amy but when more victims emerge, Helen knows that she has a serial killer on her hands.
As you can imagine there were a lot of twists and turns in this book; my only problem was that I felt it was a little long. There were several large and unexpected events at the end of the book but their impact was lessened for me as I had lost a little bit of interest in the story at that point.
Overall the book has good pace, the chapters are short and snappy but in my opinion there were just too many of them. I thought that the idea behind the book was fantastic and that did keep me reading. I like the character of Helen Walsh and there is plenty of room to develop that so I shall look out for more books by this author in the future.

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