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183 Times a Year

Author: Eva Jordan
Published: 15 September 2015
Reviewed: 19 July 2016
4 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from Booklover Catlady Publicity in return for a fair and honest review
Description:

Mothers and daughters alike will never look at each other in quite the same way after reading this book—a brilliantly funny observation of contemporary family life.

Lizzie—exasperated Mother of Cassie, Connor and Stepdaughter Maisy—is the frustrated voice of reason to her daughters’ teenage angst. She gets by with good friends, cheap wine and talking to herself—out loud.

16-year-old Cassie—the Facebook-Tweeting, Selfie-Taking, Music and Mobile Phone obsessed teen—hates everything about her life. She longs for the perfect world of Chelsea Divine and her ‘undivorced’ parents—and Joe, of course.

However, the discovery of a terrible betrayal and a brutal attack throws the whole household into disarray. Lizzie and Cassie are forced to reassess the important things in life as they embark upon separate journeys of self-discovery—accepting some less than flattering home truths along the way.

Although tragic at times this is a delightfully funny exploration of domestic love, hate, strength and ultimately friendship. A poignant, heartfelt look at that complex and diverse relationship between a Mother and daughter set amongst the thorny realities of today’s divided and extended families.

My Thoughts & Review: 
I’m so glad I took a chance on this book, when I read the description I was curious but not entirely sure if it was the book for me.
A funny, entertaining and light hearted read for most parts, the reader is introduced to a typical dysfunctional family, a mother nearing the end of her tether with her teenage daughter and stepdaughter, and worrying her delightful son will find his hormones and will turn into another moody teen.  Throw in her ex husband who seems to have abandoned the kids almost completely, her new partner working away from home a lot so not able to support her when it comes to the kids, it’s no wonder that Lizzie needs the help of good friends and wine to keep her sanity.  
Lizzie is a fantastic character, her quirkiness makes her leap off the pages and seem so real.  I can see traces of my own mother in her, and I can see myself already following down some of the pathways taken by Lizzie, especially talking out loud to myself and having a full blown conversation half inside my head and aloud.  
Cassie is the typical 16 year old, her life revolves around what others think of her, her social status and making sure everyone knows that life isn’t easy when you’re 16.  She’s a character that I think most people can see traces of themselves in, I know I certainly can and I really need to apologise to my mother for that – amazing I made it through teenage years without any injuries!
The narration from alternating perspectives of Lizzie and Cassie is incredibly well written.  It gives the reader a great insight into each character, but it also opens the characters up even more, makes them even more relatable.   

The writing is superb, for a début novel I was impressed.  I particularly liked how Eva Jordan dangled the implication of there being more to a situation but not giving all the details away at that time.  Doing this ensured that my attention was held captive by her storytelling but also, illustrated that Jordan has quite a talent for writing.  

I would definitely say this is a book that both teenagers and adults should read, it relates to so many issues cleverly whilst telling a heart warming story.  Most importantly though, it reminds us not to take others for granted and appreciate the things that others do for us – even if it is just emptying the dishwasher or taking cups from the bedroom before they start to grow penicillin cultures.  
You can buy a copy of 183 Times a Year here.  

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The Twelve Dates of Christmas

Author: Lisa Dickenson
Published: 22 October 2015
Reviewed: 09 December 2015
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Little, Brown Book Group UK in return for an honest review.

  4 out of 5 stars  

 

At thirty, Claudia’s life is stale and the romance with long-term boyfriend, Seth, has disappeared. Determined to inject some festive spark back into their love life, Claudia and Seth go on their first date in a very long time. But when the night ends in disaster, Claudia suddenly finds herself facing life – and Christmas – alone.

Life alone is exciting, scary and full of soon-forgotten exercise regimes and ill-advised attempts at crafting sexy underwear. It’s also filling up with dates, surprisingly. With best friends Penny and Nick at her side, a surplus of festive markets, mulled wine and Christmas tunes, Claudia attempts to face all this change with gusto. One thing’s for certain: this year, Christmas is going to be very different . . . 

This is the story of Claudia and her twelve dates of Christmas. Hilarious, uplifting and romantic, it’s a story about losing love, finding love, and discovering what’s been there all along. Expect Christmas sparkle, butterflies-in-your-stomach romance and a lot of very funny moments in The Twelve Dates of Christmas.

When her long-term relationship with Seth takes a turn for the worse Claudia fears that this is it, she will be alone forever more, life is over and she’s going to be miserable until the bitter end.  Her best friends Nick and Penny are there to help her pick up the pieces and put her life back together again.  And once she feels ready, Penny knows just what Claudia needs to make her feel better, a date!  Blinds dates aside, Claudia is worried she’s not ready yet, not ready to move on, not ready to decide what she wants from life, what she wants to do or who she wants to be with….or does she? 

Claudia realises that if she wants something she needs to stand up and take the opportunity.  She makes the decision to go on dates, some are disastrous, some are wonderful (especially when a certain man is concerned) and one brings a new friend into her life. 
But there’s one man that keeps appearing and she definitely wants to spend more time with him. 

The dates themselves range from a trip to the Winter Wonderland, to coffee in Starbucks, or ice skating ending in trouble with the Police, but all have their equally funny moments for Claudia.  As the story progresses Claudia becomes more and more adventurous, she finally admits her feelings and for a fleeting moment she finds happiness, but will a silly understanding ruin it all?  I can’t say more about the plot without giving too many juicy bits away, but I will say this, sequins on knickers sounds painful!!

I love Dickenson’s writing in this book, there were times I genuinely giggled out loud or wanted to shout “nooooooo!!”, I felt like I was right there with Claudia at times, seeing the excitement on Nick and Penny’s faces when they were speaking about Christmas or when they were all drunkly dancing at the Ballet Christmas party.  The descriptive writing here is tremendous, there’s great attention to detail and the characters are all so likeable. 

This is definitely a lovely book to curl up with for Christmas, the sort of book you could easily read in a day if you got the peace and quiet to do so and it’s a genuinely lovely read.  

I would have no hesitation to recommend this to anyone that enjoys Fiction, Romance and Comedy genres.     

I would like to thank Little, Brown Book Group UK for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book was published on 22nd October 2015, a copy can be purchased here The Twelve Dates of Christmas (UK Kindle Version)

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Death of a Diva

Author: Derek Farrell
Published: 18 November 2015
Reviewed: 24 November 2015
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Fahrenheit Press in return for an honest review.

7 out of 5 stars  

(maths never was my strong point!)

 

Danny Bird is having a very bad day. In the space of a few hours he just lost his job, his boyfriend and his home.

Ever the optimist, Danny throws himself headlong into his dream to turn the grimmest pub in London into the most fabulous nightspot south of the river. Sadly, everything doesn’t go quite as planned when his star turn is found strangled hours before opening night.

Danny becomes the prime suspect in the crime, and then the gangster who really owns the pub starts asking where his share of the takings has gone… it seems things are going to get worse for Danny before they get better.

From the very start of this book you get a feeling that things aren’t going to go to plan for Danny Bird, the protagonist is a troubled soul.  He’s lost his job at a fashion magazine (and was escorted off the premises by burly security guards), walked in on his boyfriend and the window cleaner in flagrante and subsequently walked back out again, losing him home.  So it’s little wonder that he has a light bulb moment sitting in a dingy pub, nursing his pint that he could turn things around and transform the grittiest, grimmest, most run down pub into “the place to be”.  Even better, he’s got a star performance for the opening night, a star that will draw in the punters.

In the life he’s lived up to this point, Danny hasn’t mixed with gangsters, or run a pub, so this is a wealth of new experience for Danny, but thankfully he’s not alone.  He has Caroline, affectionately known as Caz to “help” him out.  With her Mary Poppins-esque bag, she pulls out almost everything for the situation that Danny finds himself in, miniatures of booze to settle the nerves,  lipstick and a compact mirror to make sure she’s in tip top style to show off her looks and assets to get Danny the answers he needs, or just cash to put in the till to keep things ticking over in the bar.  It’s through Caz that Danny secures his star turn for the opening night.  The night that will change everything for Danny, especially when he becomes a suspect for the murder of the star, who Danny just happens to find strangled to death in her dressing room just moments before she was due on stage.

I’m really conscious of not saying much past the first few chapters of this book, purely because I don’t want to spoil any of the intrigue or mystery that this novel has.  There are twists, turns and some absolutely fantastic dialogue that I’m desperate to share but you need to read this book to find out more!

The characters in this book are brilliantly written, Danny is a great character, you genuinely feel for him at times and you’re rooting for things to go well for him, there are points that you find yourself reading and wondering how it could go so wrong for him.  Another character of interest is Caz, for obvious reasons, she’s funny, sassy, she has a bottomless pit of a handbag and can keep Danny from spiralling into the depths of despair.  The relationship between these characters is very well written, the way they nag, nit pick and clash with each other is believable, the characters compliment each other very well which I think makes this so enjoyable to read. 

Physical descriptions are incredibly good in this book, the grim horrors of the pub, the opulence of Lyra Day’s costumes, the violence of the brawl, all give you a very real image  of what you’re reading, granted each interpretation will differ somewhat, but I think we can all agree that Danny’s pub is the sort of place you’d want to wipe your feet after leaving.

Farrell shows a great skill in his writing, this book was incredibly hard to put down, but upon picking it back up after the weekend I was immediately able to work out where about in the story I was and continue reading.  At no point did the narrative drag, or did I feel I wanted to skip ahead because I was bored or fed up.  This is definitely a page turner, and I have to agree with a review I’ve read on Amazon, it is somewhat like a modern game of Cluedo, a cleverly written “whodunnit” book, that definitely keeps you guessing and trying to work out who the murderer is and why – and I’m not ashamed to say, I was wrong when I guessed who the murderer was!

I would have no hesitation to recommend this to anyone that enjoys Fiction, Crime, Mystery and Thriller genres.  In fact, I would insist you check this book out and take a gamble if it’s not already piqued your interest! 

Many thanks to Fahrenheit Press for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book was published on 18th November 2015, a copy can be purchased here Death of a Diva (UK Kindle Version)

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Holy Cow

Author : David Duchovny
Published: 24 September 2014
Reviewed: 11 November 2015
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Headline in return for an honest review.

5 out of 5 stars

 

 

Elsie Bovary is a cow and a pretty happy one at that. Until one night, Elsie sneaks out of the pasture and finds herself drawn to the farmhouse. Through the window, she sees the farmer’s family gathered around a bright Box God – and what the Box God reveals about something called an ‘industrial meat farm’ shakes Elsie’s understanding of her world to its core.

The only solution? To escape to a better, safer world. And so a motley crew is formed: Elsie; Shalom, a grumpy pig who’s recently converted to Judaism; and Tom, a suave turkey who can’t fly, but can work an iPhone with his beak. Toting stolen passports and slapdash human disguises, they head for the airport …

Elsie is a wise-cracking, slyly witty narrator; Tom dispenses psychiatric advice in a fake German accent; and Shalom ends up unexpectedly uniting Israelis and Palestinians. David Duchovny’s charismatic creatures point the way toward a mutual understanding and acceptance the world desperately needs.
  
Elsie was what I thought to  be a “normal” cow, with “normal” cow things on her mind, eat grass, produce milk and generally just mooo about….but this has turned my thinking on it’s head!  Who knew that a cow could think and feel so much? 
After sneaking out one night in a daring move, Elsie makes her way to the farmhouse where she sees the humans worshipping the Box God (TV for those who’ve not read the book) and is fascinated by what she sees, that is until the startling discovery about a ‘meat farm’ – this is too much for Elsie to take in.  She can’t quite believe the images she has seen, she can’t “un-see” them and she can’t stop thinking about what it means for her and her friends in their idyllic life on the farm.

Being a wise cow Elsie plans her escape, aided/ hindered by Jerry the pig (who converts to Judaism and now goes by the name Shalom) and Tom the turkey (who has amazing abilities with his beak!) the trio break out of the farm one night and are off into the unknown, looking for freedom, safety and acceptance.

Whilst this is a humorous book, it does touch on some serious ideas, religious intolerance and animal welfare, but these are done without offence.  The conversational narration by Elsie is both witty and funny, the cow humour is fantastic, the references to pop culture are clever, and there are opportunities aplenty for laughs. 
This is an engaging book, and despite being a quick read, it’s a satisfying read.  Having short chapters and being written in the style of a script, this book can easily be read in one sitting (that is, if you have the time to sit and read and not have a toddler to entertain, housework to do, or a job that requires your attention!)

An absolute departure from reality,  but a welcomed change of pace and thinking! 

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone that enjoys contemporary fiction, or just something “out of the ordinary” 

We all know Duchovny from his days on TV, whether it’s as Fox Mulder in the X Files, or Hank Moody in Californiacation, he’s starred in many films and has released an album in the music industry, but he’s now known as a writer.  After Holy Cow, I think it’s safe to add writer to the list of his talents. 

I would like to thank Headline for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book was published on 24th September, a copy can be purchased here Holy Cow (UK Paperback Version)

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