Month: August 2016

Aunty Lee’s Delights by Ovidia Yu

Posted August 20, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Aunty Lee’s Delights by Ovidia YuAunty Lee's Delights by Ovidia Yu
Published by Harper Collins on September 17th 2013
Genres: Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths, Cultural Heritage, General
Pages: 288
Format: Kindle
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This delectable and witty mystery introduces Rosie "Aunty" Lee, feisty widow, amateur sleuth, and proprietor of Singapore's best-loved home-cooking restaurant
After losing her husband, Rosie Lee could have become one of Singapore's "tai tai," an idle rich lady. Instead she is building a culinary empire from her restaurant, Aunty Lee's Delights, where spicy Singaporean meals are graciously served to locals and tourists alike. But when a body is found in one of Singapore's tourist havens and one of her guests fails to show at a dinner party, Aunty Lee knows that the two events are likely connected.
The murder and disappearance throws together Aunty Lee's henpecked stepson, Mark, his social-climbing wife, Selina, a gay couple whose love is still illegal in Singapore, and an elderly Australian tourist couple whose visit may mask a deeper purpose. Investigating the murder are Police Commissioner Raja and Senior Staff Sergeant Salim, who quickly discover that Aunty Lee's sharp nose for intrigue can sniff out clues that elude law enforcers.
Wise, witty, and charming, Aunty Lee's Delights is a spicy mystery about love, friendship, and food in Singapore, where money flows freely and people of many religions and ethnicities coexist peacefully, but where tensions lurk just below the surface, sometimes with deadly consequences.

I chose this for my South-East Asian author task for Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge.

It was an enjoyable murder/mystery book which follows the investigations after a body is found off Singapore. Aunty Lee – a mix of Jessica Fletcher and Agatha Raisin – decides to “help” the police with their investigations once the victim is found to have been a customer in her cafe.

The characters in this book are great, with some you love and others you loathe! The book is a gentle, cosy mystery with no guts and gore to it. But its a lovely read and one which I enjoyed.

Once again, this is a book that I probably wouldn’t have discovered it without the Book Riot challenge!

Hide & Seek by MJ Arlidge

Posted August 18, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Hide & Seek by MJ ArlidgeHide and Seek (DI Helen Grace #6) by M.J. Arlidge
Published by Penguin Books (UK) on 8th September 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Crime, Fiction, Psychological Thriller
Pages: 368
Format: ARC, Kindle
Source: NetGalley
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I was absolutely over the moon when I received the notification from NetGalley that I had been selected to receive an ARC of Arlidge’s latest book in the Helen Grace series. Little Boy Blue finished on a cliffhanger and this book picks up from where LBB left off.

Obviously I can’t say too much about the story as the book isn’t released until next month, but what I will say is that it is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!! It picks up the storyline really well, and the events which unfold once again leave the reader on the edge of their seats wanting to know what will happen next.

Thankfully, Hide & Seek wraps up the story started in LBB, but the ending will still have you racing to know what happens next.

Another fantastic book from MJ Arlidge who is fast becoming one of my all-time favourite authors!!

The Temporary Bride by Jennifer Klinec (3/5)

Posted August 18, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

The Temporary Bride by Jennifer Klinec (3/5)The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran by Jennifer Klinec
Published by Virago Press Ltd on September 4th 2014
Genres: Food, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Personal Memoirs, Travel
Pages: 211
Format: Paperback
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"A relationship was a mathematical formula: the correct variables of age, beauty, morality and finances were entered and the output was a successful, peaceful marriage. It couldn’t be, therefore, that their Iranian son could feel desire for someone six years his senior, someone who didn’t come to him pure and untouched. I was an amusing visitor from another world and soon enough I should return to it, fading quietly into an anecdote …"
In her thirties, Jennifer Klinec abandons a corporate job to launch a cooking school from her London flat. Raised in Canada to Hungarian-Croatian parents, she has already travelled to countries most people are fearful of, in search of ancient recipes. Her quest leads her to Iran where, hair discreetly covered and eyes modest, she is introduced to a local woman who will teach her the secrets of the Persian kitchen.
Vahid is suspicious of the strange foreigner who turns up in his mother’s kitchen; he is unused to seeing an independent woman. But a compelling attraction pulls them together and then pits them against harsh Iranian laws and customs.
Getting under the skin of one of the most complex and fascinating nations on earth, The Temporary Bride is a soaring story of being loved, being fed, and the struggle to belong.

I selected this as my read for the “food memoir” task for Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge.

Set in Iran, I have to say my mouth was watering with many of the descriptions of local delicacies. It’s clear that the author is passionate about food, recipes, provenance and learning authentic dishes from around the world. However Klinec also comes across as spoilt and selfish. The product of rich parents who seemed to care more about money than their children.

Alongside the food memoir, this is also a story of love. Klinec meets Vahid, an Iranian citizen, who invites her to visit his family and learn from his mother’s cooking. They start a relationship which seems to be doomed from the very beginning.

Reading about her relationship with Vahid, I started to feel angry towards Jennifer. She seemed to be selfish and single-minded, with no real thought to the position she was putting Vahid in with regards his family and his community. That said, by the end my feelings had mellowed slightly, but I still think she could have been more respectful of the circumstances she was in.

For a food memoir, this book is also sorely lacking in recipes! For all she clearly has a love of the food she discovered, there was no further information on the dishes, which was really disappointing.

This was a good read and I enjoyed it. But the inclusion of some recipes would have made it even better!

Essays by George Orwell

Posted August 15, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Essays by George OrwellGeorge Orwell: Essays (Penguin Modern Classics) by George Orwell
Published by Penguin on January 2nd 2014
Genres: Fiction, General, Literary, Non-Fiction, Political, Short Stories (single author), Social History
Pages: 466
Format: Paperback
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This outstanding collection brings together Orwell’s longer, major essays and a fine selection of shorter pieces that includes My Country Right or Left, Decline of the English Murder, Shooting an Elephant and A Hanging.
With great originality and wit Orwell unfolds his views on subjects ranging from the moral enormity of Jonathan Swift’s strange genius and a revaluation of Charles Dickens to the nature of Socialism, a comic yet profound discussion of naughty sea-side picture postcards and a spirited defence of English cooking. Displaying an almost unrivalled mastery of English plain prose style, Orwell’s essays challenge, move and entertain.

I have always enjoyed Orwell’s writing. Like many people, Nineteen Eighty Four is one of my favourite books. But I had never read any of his essays before now. I chose this book specifically for Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge and I wasn’t disappointed.

This is a real mix bag of stories. From the short to the long; from diatribes on Charles Dickens to essays on “Bookshop Memories”; this book has it all. Although many of the essays are now 80 or more years old, they still hold a remarkable amount of relevance.

A lot of the writing is founded upon Orwell’s socialist leanings, and many essays cover uncomfortable topics such as war and death. The writing certainly isn’t what you would call “politically correct” in today’s terms, with numerous references to the N-word, C-word and F-word, among others. These are all in context – especially when viewed against the backdrop of the time – however if you’re likely to be offended by such language, then give this book a miss.

It would be a shame to miss out though, as this is a superb collection of essays, which are incredibly readable and still very relevant today.

The Secret by Kathryn Hughes (4/5)

Posted August 13, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

The Secret by Kathryn Hughes (4/5)The Secret: The #1 Bestselling Author by Kathryn Hughes
Published by Headline Review on September 8th 2016
Genres: Family Saga, Fiction
Pages: 416
Format: ARC, Paperback
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From the #1 bestselling author of The Letter comes The Secret - a heartbreaking novel of tragedy, hope and second chances. Fans of Jojo Moyes and Amanda Prowse will love the moving human drama of Kathryn Hughes. 'A wonderful uplifting story' Lesley Pearse on The Letter
Mary has been nursing a secret. Forty years ago, she made a choice that would change her world for ever, and alter the path of someone she holds dear.
Beth is searching for answers. She has never known the truth about her parentage, but finding out could be the lifeline her sick child so desperately needs. When Beth finds a faded newspaper cutting amongst her mother's things, she realises the key to her son's future lies in her own past. She must go back to where it all began to unlock...The Secret.

I have to say that this isn’t the usual kind of book I would be drawn to, but I was fortunate enough to win a copy from Headline Review on Twitter. I’m so pleased that I did as I absolutely loved this book!

The book follows Beth, who has never known who her father was. After her mother’s death, she starts to unearth secrets which will rock her family to its very core. The story is told along two timelines – modern-day with Beth, her husband Michael and their 5-year old son Jake, who has end stage liver failure; and flashbacks to 1975 when a group of people were involved in a fatal road crash. As Beth finds out more about her past, the two stories come together in a fantastic story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, and can’t thank Headline Review enough for this proof copy. I wouldn’t have picked up this book normally, but I am definitely looking forward to reading more from this author.

No Way Back by MJ Arlidge (3/5)

Posted August 11, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

No Way Back by MJ Arlidge (3/5)No Way Back Published by Penguin UK on August 11th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Crime, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths, General, Suspense
Pages: 40
Format: Kindle
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A treat for fans of DI Helen Grace: an ebook short story from Top Ten Sunday Times bestselling author M. J. Arlidge.
Jodie's arriving at her third children's home. She's only fifteen.Maybe this time will be different. She'll be safe. Looked after.
But the truth is Jodie has no one left to protect her.She must defend herself. She must change.
PRAISE FOR M.J. ARLIDGE:
'Helen Grace is one of the greatest heroes to come along in years' JEFFERY DEAVER'The new Jo Nesbo' JUDY FINNIGAN
'Fast paced and nailbitingly tense ... gripping' SUN
'DI Helen Grace is a genuinely fresh heroine ... MJ Arlidge weaves together a tapestry that chills to the bone'Daily Mail'Chilling stuff' Fabulist
'A chilling read' My Weekly 'A grisly, gripping thriller' Sunday Mirror
'Gruesomely realistic, intriguing and relentless. Arlidge's fledgling army of fans is about to grow' Sunday Sport
'Eeny Meeny debuts one of the best new series detectives, Helen Grace. Determined, tough and damaged, she must unravel a terrifying riddle of a killer kidnapping victims in pairs. Mesmerizing!' Lisa Gardner
'Expertly pulled off. It has a devious premise. DI Helen Grace is fiendishly awesome. It's scary as all hell. And it has a full cast of realistically drawn, interesting characters that make the thing read like a bullet' Will Lavender
'A fast-paced, twisting police procedural and thriller that's sure to become another bestseller' Huffington Post

I’m a huge fan of MJ Arlidge and have read and reviewed all his books released up until now. With the exception of one, I have loved them! I’m also eagerly awaiting the 6th book in the series – Hide and Seek – which is due to be released next month. So when I spotted on Twitter that there was a new short story out, I bought it straight away.

This is a prequel to the Helen Grace series, and as such really needs to be read after the main series of books in order to give the necessary background and context. Without wanting to give away too much about the stories in the series, it covers Helen’s time in a children’s home immediately following the death of her parents.

It’s a very short book – 40 or so pages, which I read in about 20 minutes. But priced at 99p it’s not the biggest financial outlay and it was an entertaining story. I could have done with it being longer – but that’s only because I love Arlidge’s writing so much and wanted to get more into the characters. But even at such a short length, it still packs a punch.

I See You by Clare Mackintosh (4/5)

Posted August 11, 2016 by Babs in Book Review / 0 Comments
I See You by Clare Mackintosh (4/5)

I thoroughly enjoyed I Let You Go when I read it earlier this year, so I was really looking forward to this new book from Clare Mackintosh. Although I tend to find 2nd books a little bit hit and miss, I have to say that this one didn’t disappoint. It’s a great thriller that has elements to […]

Spectacles by Sue Perkins

Posted August 11, 2016 by Babs in Book Review / 0 Comments
Spectacles by Sue Perkins

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book since it was published, and although I waited until it was out in paperback, I have to say, it hasn’t disappointed! This is a very entertaining memoir and glimpse into Sue Perkins’ life. It’s very much written in her “voice” and on occasion feels very much like […]

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (5/5)

Posted August 8, 2016 by Babs in Book Review / 0 Comments
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (5/5)

I was fortunate enough to win a copy of this book in a GoodReads giveaway. This is a book which is not always easy to read, but which is ultimately very rewarding. A friend of mine commented “I’m not yet over this book” – and that’s a very good way of summing up the experience. […]