The Scent of You by Maggie Alderson Book Review @MaggieA

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“A sweet romance and relationship focused novel set in the world of perfumery”

4/5 stars

Synopsis

Perfume blogger Polly is in crisis. Will her husband’s absence break her … or make her? A novel of perfumes, exploring life, love, loss and forgiveness – Maggie Alderson’s new bestseller.

Are you still married if you haven’t seen your husband for months?

Polly’s life is great. Her children are away at uni, her glamorous mother – still modelling at eighty-five – is happily settled in a retirement village, and her perfume blog is taking off. Then her husband announces he needs some space and promptly vanishes.

As Polly grapples with her bewildering situation, she clings to a few new friends to keep her going – Shirlee, the loudmouthed yoga student; Guy, the mysterious, infuriating and hugely talented perfumer; and Edward, an old flame from university.

And while she distracts herself with the heady world of luxury perfume, Polly knows she can’t keep reality at bay forever. Eventually she is forced to confront some difficult truths: about her husband, herself and who she really wants to be.

My Review

The Scent of You is a sweet romance and relationship focused novel set in the world of perfumery. Polly is a part-time yoga teacher and successful English perfume blogger. Her professor husband, David, abruptly left their home under mysterious circumstances leaving strict instructions not to look for him. Polly copes with the stress of David’s disappearance and her mother’s failing health with the help of her two children, Shirley, the blunt yoga student, Guy, the mysterious perfumer, and Edward (Chum), an old university boyfriend.

I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of all the lovely perfumes interspersed throughout the novel and loved Polly’s blog posts which linked perfumes with memories. The characters were all well-developed and likable, except for Polly’s husband and occasionally Polly herself. I couldn’t help but wonder how Polly had no idea of the issue David had been facing for so many years!

4/5 stars

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The Pretty Delicious Cafe by Danielle Hawkins

 

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The Pretty Delicious Cafe by Danielle Hawkins

Synopsis

On the outskirts of a small New Zealand seaside town, Lia and her friend Anna work serious hours running their restored cafe. The busy season is just around the corner, and there are other things to occupy them. Anna is about to marry Lia’s twin brother, and Lia’s ex-boyfriend seems not to understand it’s over.

When a gorgeous stranger taps on Lia’s window near midnight and turns out not to be a serial killer, she feels it’s a promising sign. But the past won’t let them be, and Lia must decide whether events rule her life or she does.

The Pretty Delicious Cafe will remind you of those special, good things we love about living. And the food is great.

A warm, witty novel, brimming with the trademark romance, friendship and eccentricity that Danielle Hawkins’s fans adore.

My Review: 4/5 Stars

Don’t read The Pretty Delicious Cafe without treats nearby! Food plays an integral role in this novel as the main character, Lia owns a cafe with her best friend and soon to be sister-in-law, Anna. The story is full of delicious food descriptions and there is even some Pretty Delicious Cafe recipes included at the end of the book.

While the love story was central to the story there was a lot more to this book than just romance. Lia’s zany family and relationship dynamics were fantastically written and characterised. I was pleasantly surprised when a series of dramatic events turned so dark. It almost seems like there was too much going on in this book, but it felt like just the right amount of drama while I was reading it.

The Pretty Delicious Cafe is full of surprises and great food! I loved the New Zealand setting and common sayings. The language rang true to me and the setting descriptions reminded me that I really do need to visit myself.

Details

Title: The Pretty Delicious Cafe

Author: Danielle Hawkins

Published:  November 21st 2016 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance

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Exposure by Rose Edmunds #bookreview #amreading @RoseEdmunds

Ebok cover Exposure

Synopsis

City high-flyer Amy has crashed and burned. Fresh out of rehab and with her career in tatters, the sudden death of an old friend propels her into an illicit undercover fraud investigation.

But Amy’s in way over her head. The assignment quickly turns sour, pitching her into a nightmare where no one can be trusted and nothing is what it seems. 

In mortal danger, and with enemies old and new conspiring against her, Amy’s resilience is tested to the limit as she strives to defeat them and rebuild her life.

My Thoughts

Exposure is the sequel to the psychological thriller, Concealment, which I adored when I read it last year. The sequel picks up not long after the dramatic conclusion to Concealment with one of my favourite female protagonists who is affectionately, yet appropriately, dubbed ‘Crazy Amy.’

Amy isn’t doing so well after her life as she knew it completely disintegrated over the course of Concealment. She doesn’t even have a chance to complete a half-hearted stint in rehab before she is plunged into the depths of another deadly mystery in the corporate world she is no longer part of.

I don’t want to give too more away because Exposure is so full of twists and turns except that I couldn’t put this book down. This is a perfect fast paced thriller and I can’t wait to read about what Crazy Amy gets up to next!

Rose Edmunds has also written several short stories about the Crazy Amy world which you can read at http://roseedmunds.co.uk/. These provide an excellent background and extra character development to the Crazy Amy world!

Details

Title: Exposure (Crazy Amy #2)

Author: Rose Edmunds

ISBN: 1544001002 (ISBN13: 9781544001005)

Published: March 17th 2017 by Mainsail Books

Genre: Thriller

Source: Author

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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In Cold Blood by Truman Capote #BookReview #DBowieBooks

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Synopsis

Controversial and compelling, In Cold Blood reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and both their children. Truman Capote’s comprehensive study of the killings and subsequent investigation explores the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime and the effect it had on those involved. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who, vividly drawn by Capote, are shown to be reprehensible yet entirely and frighteningly human. The book that made Capote’s name, In Cold Blood is a seminal work of modern prose, a remarkable synthesis of journalistic skill and powerfully evocative narrative.

My Thoughts

In Cold Blood is widely regarded as Truman Capote’s best and most influential novels. It tells the true story of the murder of the Clutter family in 1959. The Clutters were a well-respected family of four in the tiny farming town of Holcomb, Kansas – Herb, Bonnie, Nancy, and Kenyon. They were brutally murdered by two petty criminals who were on the hunt for a non-existent safe full of cash but actually made off with about $50 and a radio.

Capote was a journalist at the time and, with his childhood friend Harper Lee, traveled to Holcomb to cover the story of one of the most gruesome of senseless murders of the time. Capote spent five years in Holcomb, mixing a blend of fact gleaned from interviewing the protagonists and fiction to write In Cold Blood.

I’m glad I gave myself the opportunity to read In Cold Blood properly. I have studied parts of this novel in several of my writing units at uni and I regret reading it in bits and pieces first. I wish I’d done it the other way round because I did find it difficult when I came to sections I had read previously. And it was impossible not to think of all the academic kind of stuff I had covered previously.

I am glad I studied this novel, though, because there are so many interesting things about it and the way it was written. In Cold Blood was a completely new style of writing at the time. Crime and mystery fiction have always been popular genres, but In Cold Blood isn’t fiction. And many parts aren’t quite factual either. Capote called this sensational new style of writing New Journalism and this development has been incredibly influential in the crime and mystery genres (and many would argue in journalism!) ever since.

Now I feel better by covering some of the academic reasons for why  In Cold Blood is a modern classic I will finish by recommending this novel to all the true crime fans out there. Capote’s blend of fact and fiction is a masterpiece and the only thing I regret is not reading it earlier.

And finally, here is a rather cute pic of my crazy Zeus checking out my copy!

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Details

Title: In Cold Blood

Author: Truman Capote

ISBN: 0141182571 (ISBN13: 9780141182575)

Published: February 3rd 2000 by Penguin (first published 1965)

Genre: Classics, Modern Classics, True Crime

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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This book is part of the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

1. 1984

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The Gnostic Gospels

4. A Clockwork Orange

5. Lady Chatterley’s Lover

6. The Art of War

7. In Cold Blood

Unrivaled by Alyson Noel

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Goodreads Synopsis

Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life.

But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.

She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.

That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.

Unrivaled is #1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noël’s first book in a thrilling suspense trilogy about how our most desperate dreams can become our darkest nightmares.

Details

Title: Unrivaled (Beautiful Idols #1)

Author: Alyson Noel

ISBN: 0062324527 (ISBN13: 9780062324528)

Published: May 10th 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 420

Genre: Mystery, Romance,  Young Adult, Contemporary

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts

Fun beach read!

Unrivaled is the first novel in the Beautiful Idols trilogy by Alyson Noel. The novel focuses on three people vying to win Ira Redman’s Unrivaled Nightlife promo competition. Ira owns several Hollywood nightclubs and the competitors score points based on how many celebrities they can bring into Ira’s clubs and how famous those celebrities are.

Layla dreams of becoming a journalist but currently runs a celebrity blog called Beautiful Idols.

Aster feels stifled by her wealthy but conservative Persian parents and aspires to become an actress.

Tommy has just moved to Hollywood from Oklahoma and dreams of becoming a famous guitarist and showing up his father who doesn’t even know he exists.

Madison Brooks is a star actress and worth the highest amount of points in Ira’s competition. As the novel progresses it becomes clear that there are dark secrets in Madison’s past. Madison’s story is where the mystery comes into play.

Unrivaled is a really fun read, perfect to take with you to the beach. 

There is quite a lot of character development and back story throughout the beginning and middle of the novel and a bit of a slow buildup before all the action starts to take place. This is something I enjoy but I think some mystery fans might find it a little bit too slow for them.

I also loved that the chapters are all named after songs. I found that fit in really well with the Hollywood setting of this novel.

There is quite a lot of character development and back story throughout the beginning and middle of the novel and a bit of a slow buildup before all the action starts to take place. This is something I enjoy but I think some mystery fans might find it a little bit too slow for them. The action starts to heat up towards the end of the novel, just in time to leave you dying to know what happens after the crazy cliffhanger. I’ll definitely need to check out the next book in the series to find out!

 

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

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Goodreads Synopsis

Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune, she vows never to love another. So when she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts (no survivors) her heart is broken. But her charms draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humperdinck who wants a wife and will go to any lengths to have Buttercup. So starts a fairy tale like no other, of fencing, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, bad men, good men, snakes, spiders, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passion and miracles, and … a damn fine story.

Details

Title: The Princess Bride

Author: William Goldman

ISBN: 0345418263 (ISBN13: 9780345418265)

Published: August 2008 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 1973)

Pages: 317

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Adventure, Young Adult

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts

The Princess Bride is possibly the only time I ever saw the movie before I read the book.  I must have watched the movie about a million times, as did most 80s kids, so I was a little bit apprehensive about reading the book around the wrong way after such a long time. I didn’t have anything to worry about because I enjoyed the book just as much as I loved the movie. I couldn’t help but picture the movie characters as I was reading, but I found that most of the action and classic lines in the novel were portrayed accurately in the movie.

Like this one!

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I found Goldman’s fictional great Florinese author, S. Morgenstern, and his “classic tale of true love and high adventure” an interesting technique. It’s definitely an interesting way of skipping through all the boring bits and adds an air of excitement to the story.

 

 

 

 

The Art of War by Sun Tzu: #bookreview #DBowieBooks

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Goodreads Synopsis

Conflict is an inevitable part of life, according to this ancient Chinese classic of strategy, but everything necessary to deal with conflict wisely, honorably, victoriously, is already present within us. Compiled more than two thousand years ago by a mysterious warrior-philosopher, The Art of War is still perhaps the most prestigious and influential book of strategy in the world, as eagerly studied in Asia by modern politicians and executives as it has been by military leaders since ancient times. As a study of the anatomy of organizations in conflict, The Art of War applies to competition and conflict in general, on every level from the interpersonal to the international. Its aim is invincibility, victory without battle, and unassailable strength through understanding the physics, politics, and psychology of conflict.

(Original publication date was circa 500 BCE.)

Details

Title: The Art of War

Author: Sun Tzu

ISBN: 1590302257 (ISBN13: 9781590302255)

Published: Originally published circa 500 BCE

Genre: Classics, Eastern Philosophy, Non-Fiction

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 4/5 StarsThis book is part of the

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This book is part of the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

1. 1984

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The Gnostic Gospels

4. A Clockwork Orange

5. Lady Chatterley’s Lover

6. The Art of War

My Thoughts

Although The Art of War was written over 2000 years as a war manual for Chinese soldiers, many of the lessons can be applied to almost any situation where there is conflict, particularly the business world. The 13 topics in each chapter include: laying plans, attack by strangers. tactical dispositions, energy, weak points and strong, maneuvering, variation in tactics, the army on the march, terrain, the nine situations, the attack by fire, and, the use of spies.

While it is relatively safe to skip some of the more detailed descriptions of Chinese terrain, there are some valuable and universal lessons to be learned. The biggest take aways for me is that to effectively ‘win’ when conflict arises it is important to learn as much about the situation as possible and deploy the right tactic for each situation. Only sometimes is an all-out attack is the best option:

“To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”.

The Art of War is the 6th book I read since undertaking the David Bowie Reading Challenge approximately one year ago and today is the anniversary of the day Ziggy Stardust went back home. I still wish he was here but the past 12 months have brought my own little Ziggy Stardust into my life and I have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated every single book that I’ve read from David Bowie’s top 100 books of all time.

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My own Ziggy Stardust

 

I’m going to pair this novel with David Bowie’s recently released posthumously track, No Plan. After being ripped off in his early years Bowie strategically built his empire to be so strong that he is still in control of when and how his music is released!