Fabulous multi-generational fashion themed family saga DRESSING THE DEARLOVES by Kelly Doust (@KellyDoust) #BookReview

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DRESSING THE DEARLOVES by Kelly Doust

Goodreads Description

One crumbling grand manor house, a family in decline, five generations of women, and an attic full of beautiful clothes with secrets and lies hidden in their folds. Kelly Doust, author of Precious Things, spins another warm, glamorous and romantic mystery of secrets, love, fashion, families – and how we have to trust in ourselves, even in our darkest of days. One for lovers of Kate Morton, Belinda Alexandra, Fiona McIntosh and Lucy Foley. Failed fashion designer Sylvie Dearlove is coming home to England – broke, ashamed and in disgrace – only to be told her parents are finally selling their once-grand, now crumbling country house, Bledesford, the ancestral home of the Dearlove family for countless generations. Sylvie has spent her whole life trying to escape being a Dearlove, and the pressure of belonging to a family of such headstrong, charismatic and successful women. Beset by self-doubt, she starts helping her parents prepare Bledesford for sale, when she finds in a forgotten attic a thrilling cache of old steamer trunks and tea chests full of elaborate dresses and accessories acquired from across the globe by five generations of fashionable Dearlove women. Sifting through the past, she also stumbles across a secret which has been hidden – in plain sight – for decades, a secret that will change the way she thinks about herself, her family, and her future.Romantic, warm, and glamorous, moving from Edwardian England to the London Blitz to present day London, Dressing the Dearloves is a story of corrosiveness of family secrets, the insecurities that can sabotage our best efforts, and the seductive power of dressing up. 

400 pages
Published August 20th 2018 by HarperCollins
ISBN 1460705645 (ISBN13: 9781460705643)
RRP $16.99 AU (Kindle) $26.99 AU (paperback)

My Review 

Fabulous multi-generational fashion themed family saga! DRESSING THE DEARLOVES the second fashion themed novel by Australian author Kelly Doust, and you can really tell that she has a great love for vintage fashion and the stories they hold.

Sylvie Dearlove failed spectacularly in the cut-throat New York fashion design world. With her company bankrupt and her reputation in tatters she has no choice but to return to her family’s upper crust ancestral home in the English countryside. She is shocked to discover that Bledesford is even more run down than she remembered, her grandmother and family matriarch, Lizzie, is terribly ill and her parents seem to have no choice but to sell up and make way for boring and generic sub-divisions.

While helping her parents clean out the overflowing attic with the help of her best uni girlfriends Sylvie discovers more than just the high fashion of  five generations of her enigmatic and successful female ancestors. She also stumbles across a shocking family secret that  changes the way she feels about her family, what it means to be a Dearlove, and will alter her future plans irrevocably.

I loved the way that Doust tied the stories of the Dearlove ladies in with their clothing. I think it’s so true that the clothes we wear for special occasions do hold onto our stories and the way Doust writes about vintage fashion with such love is a wonderful reminder of the power of dressing up. 5 stars!

About the Author 

 

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Kelly Doust, author of DRESSING THE DEARLOVES

 

Kelly Doust is author of the novels Dressing the Dearloves (September 2018) and Precious Things, both published by HarperCollinsAlso A Life in Frocks, vintage fashion bible Minxy Vintage: how to customise & wear vintage clothing and The Crafty Minx series of craft books.

With a background in book publishing and publicity, Kelly has worked in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia, and has freelanced for Vogue, Australian Women’s Weekly and Sunday Life Magazine. She lives in Sydney with her husband and daughter, and works as a Lifestyle Publisher for Murdoch Books.

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BURNING FIELDS by Alli Sinclair @allisinclair 5 Star #BookReview

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BURNING FIELDS by Alli Sinclair featuring Ziggy the cat

Goodreads Description

1948. The world is struggling to regain a sense of balance after the devastation of World War II, and the sugar cane-growing community of Piri River in northern Queensland is no exception.

As returned servicemen endeavour to adjust to their pre-war lives, women who had worked for the war effort are expected to embrace traditional roles once more.

Rosie Stanton finds it difficult to return to the family farm after years working for the Australian Women’s Army Service. Reminders are everywhere of the brothers she lost in the war and she is unable to understand her father’s contempt for Italians, especially the Conti family next door. When her father takes ill, Rosie challenges tradition by managing the farm, but outside influences are determined to see her fail.

Desperate to leave his turbulent history behind, Tomas Conti has left Italy to join his family in Piri River. Tomas struggles to adapt in Australia—until he meets Rosie. Her easy-going nature and positive outlook help him forget the life he’s escaped. But as their relationship grows, so do tensions between the two families until the situation becomes explosive.

When a long-hidden family secret is discovered and Tomas’s mysterious past is revealed, everything Rosie believes is shattered. Will she risk all to rebuild her family or will she lose the only man she’s ever loved?

My Review 

Set in the northern Queensland sugar cane fields in 1948 BURNING FIELDS by Alli Sinclair beautifully tells the love story of Rosie Stanton and Tomas Conti. Rosie is struggling to settle back into to life in Australia after serving during World War II, and trying to convince her father to allow her to help out on the family sugar cane field is next to impossible. Tomas is trying to become accustomed to life in Australia after suffering through Mussolini’s terror of Italy and Tomas’ hometown of Sicily.

I fell in love with Tomas from the very first chapter! He was perfectly mysterious but also gentlemanly and kind, just like I imagine many Italian men of his era to be. I could also very well relate to Rosie and her frustration at being expected to fall back into the sexist role expected of females in Australia back then after working so hard during the war. Post-war Australia really is a fascinating period of history, and I think Sinclair has perfectly captured many of the issues everyday Australians and immigrants faced during that time. 5 stars!

 

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Alli Sinclair

 

An adventurer at heart, Alli Sinclair is a multi-award winning author who has lived in Argentina, Peru, and Canada. She’s climbed some of the world’s highest mountains, worked as a tour guide in South and Central America, and has travelled the globe, immersing herself in array of exotic destinations, cultures, and languages. Australia has always been close to Alli’s heart as she loves the diverse landscapes and the rich multicultural heritage of this wonderful land.

Alli’s books explore history, culture, love and grief, and relationships between family, friends and lovers. She captures the romance and thrill of discovering old and new worlds, and loves taking readers on a journey of discovery.

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#BookReview A PLACE TO REMEMBER by Jenn J. McLeod @jennjmcleod

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A PLACE TO REMEMBER by Jenn J. McLeod  featuring Ziggy

Goodreads Blurb

A man loses five years of his life. Two women are desperate for him to remember.

Running away for the second time in her life, twenty-seven-year old Ava believes the cook’s job at a country B&B is perfect, until she meets the owner’s son, John Tate. At twenty, the fifth generation grazier is a beguiling blend of both man, boy and a terrible flirt. With their connection immediate and intense, they begin a clandestine affair right under the noses of John’s formidable parents.

Thirty years later, Ava returns to Candlebark Creek with her daughter, Nina, who is determined to meet her mother’s lost love for herself. While struggling to find her own place in the world, Nina discovers an urban myth about a love-struck man, a forgotten engagement ring, and a dinner reservation back in the eighties. Now she must decide if revealing the truth will hurt more than it heals…

My Review

A PLACE TO REMEMBER is a sweet Australian romance story spanning two generations. Ava takes a job as a cook for the B&B on a remote northern Queensland cattle station, Ivy-May owned by the Tate family, in the 1980s. She is running away from a troubled childhood and plans to stay just long enough to save enough money to travel overseas. She doesn’t plan on falling in love with the only son of the Tate family, John. Tragedy separates Ava and John until thirty years later in the present day when both Ava and her daughter, Nina, travel to Ivy-May to seek answers about the past.

I really enjoyed the remote and quintessentially Australian setting and characters of A PLACE TO REMEMBER. I’ve visited this area before and McLeod has perfectly captured the scenery and Aussie characters through her vibrant and descriptive writing style. Ava and John’s tragic romance story filled with long-buried family secrets and betrayal was beautifully told.

 

About the Author

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Jenn J. McLeod

Jenn J McLeod was fifty when she started ticking things off her bucket list. So far she’s made that sea change, written that bestseller, and downsized her life to hit the road full time. Since 2014, home for Jenn (and her partner) is a 3-tonne, 25-foot caravan named Myrtle the Turtle. Selling her slice of suburbia and every stick of furniture was liberating (as was saying goodbye to the glut of kitchen gadgets and swapping a wardrobe of classy clothes and shoes for rubber Crocs, T-shirts, and shorts). (Check out my blog post on that.)

With her Seasons Collection of four novels already adored by readers in her home country, April 2018 will see her fifth novel released by the UK’s 2017 Independent Publisher of the Year, Head of Zeus, and distributed worldwide. Best described as heart-warming tales of Australian country life, friendship, family, love and contemporary issues, readers who enjoy family and friendship stories in the style of Monica McInerney, Mauve Binchy and Liz Bryski, will enjoy Jenn’s small town stories.

In addition to her novels, Jenn is published in short form and in industry magazines (including the Australian Literature Review’s ‘Novel Writing in Australia’ education series). She also maintains her own blog and loves connecting with readers online

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Scatterbooker reviews ‘That Girl’ by Kate Kerrigan

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That Girl  by Kate Kerrigan

Goodreads Synopsis

You can escape a place. But you can’t escape yourself.

Hanna flees the scene of a terrible crime in her native Sligo. If she can just vanish, re-invent herself under a new name, perhaps the police won’t catch up with her. London seems the perfect place to disappear.

Lara has always loved Matthew and imagined happy married life in Dublin. Then comes the bombshell – Matthew says he wants to join the priesthood. Humiliated and broken-hearted, Lara heads to the most godless place she can find, King’s Road, Chelsea.

Matthew’s twin sister, Noreen, could not be more different from her brother. She does love fiance John, but she also craves sex, parties and fun. Swinging London has it all, but without John, Noreen is about to get way out of her depth.

All three girls find themselves working for Bobby Chevron – one of London’s most feared gangland bosses – and it’s not long before their new lives start to unravel.

 

My Review

‘That Girl’ is a romance with a twist, set in the fascinating world of London during the swinging sixties.

Three girls leave Ireland to start lives in London where they get caught up in the grimy underworld of the sleazy gangster,  Bobby Chevron where they discover that no matter how far you run your past will always catch up with you in the end.

Hanna is trying to escape from a horrifying crime, Lara is running away from a broken heart, while Noreen is looking for a final fling before she settles down to married life in her small Irish town. These three main characters were completely different, but they complemented each other perfectly. They all had their reasons for heading to London and dealt with the adversity they were faced with in different but equally strong ways. ‘That Girl’ really is a story of strong female characters getting stuff done no matter what.

I am a sucker for good historical fiction and Kate Kerrigan always does a brilliant job of setting the scene. I almost felt as though I was walking down King’s Street in its heyday and my feet were stuck to the floor of Bobby Chevron’s gangster nightclub. Five out of five stars!

Thank you Head of Zeus and Harper Collins Australia for providing me with a review copy.

Links

Kate Kerrigan

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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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Book Launch: ‘The First Year’ by Genevieve Gannon @Gen_Gannon

About the Book

‘Genevieve Gannon writes with a fresh and funny narrative voice … chick lit at its very, very best’ Tess Woods, author of Love at First Flight

The first year of marriage is hard no matter what. Throw in jealous exes, high-pressure careers and two wildly different families, and the degree of difficulty goes up a few more notches. Determined to beat the odds, one couple comes up with a plan to keep their romance alive – but life has other ideas.

Saskia is an up-and-coming jewellery designer, waiting tables at a trendy cafe to keep her fledgling company afloat. Andrew is a corporate lawyer who wants to be known for more than his family’s money. They’re passionate about their work and each other, but with Andy’s job in jeopardy and Saskia’s jewellery label taking off, the pressure is taking its toll.

As life pulls them in different directions, the two of them are forced to decide: Just how important is their marriage? And how hard are they willing to work to protect it?

‘A clever and entertaining read-into-the-wee-hours-of-morning story about love, creativity and the things that make us tick. Genevieve Gannon writes with passion and wit in a story you’ll relate to whether you’ve struggled through love, art or the wrath of public transport ticket inspectors.’ Claire Varley, author of The Bit in Between

Details

Title: The First Year 

Author: Genevieve Gannon

ISBN: 9781460708460

Published: April 24th 2017 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Genre: Chick Lit, Romance, Romantic Comedy

I’m looking forward to reading this one with a nice coffee or two!!

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