New Book Release: The End of Cuthbert Close by Cassie Hamer

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The End of Cuthbert Close by Cassie Hamer 

From bestselling author Cassie Hamer, comes a hilarious tale of warring neighbours in Australian suburbia, with a mystery at its heart.

‘Captures Australian suburbia perfectly. Has the reader gripped until the end. Perfect for anyone who wants to devour easy-to-read fiction, while also doing some detective work of their own.’ Mamamia

You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your neighbours. (Trad. proverb, origin: Australian suburbia)

Food stylist Cara, corporate lawyer Alex and stay-at-home mum Beth couldn’t be more different. If it wasn’t for the fact they live next door to each other in Cuthbert Close, they’d never have met and bonded over Bundt cake. The Close is an oasis of calm and kindness. The kind of street where kids play cricket together and neighbours pitch in each year for an end of summer party.

But no one’s told Charlie Devine, glamorous wife of online lifestyle guru, The Primal Guy. When she roars straight into the party with her huge removal truck and her teenage daughter with no care or regard for decades-old tradition, the guacamole really hits the fan.

Cara thinks the family just needs time to get used to the village-like atmosphere. Beth wants to give them home cooked meals to help them settle in. Alex, says it’s an act of war. But which one of them is right? Dead guinea pigs, cruelly discarded quiches, missing jewellery, commercial sabotage and errant husbands are just the beginning of a train of disturbing and rapidly escalating events that lead to a shocking climax.

 When the truth comes out, will it be the end of Cuthbert Close?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Cassie Hamer

Cassie Hamer has a professional background in journalism and PR, but now much prefers the world of fiction over fact. In 2015, she completed a Masters in Creative Writing, and has since achieved success in numerous short story competitions. Her bestselling debut fiction title After the Party was published in 2019. Cassie lives in Sydney.

The End of Cuthbert Close  by Cassie Hamer

Published: 23 March 2019

Imprint: HQ Fiction

Format: Trade paperback | RRP: $29.99 | ISBN: 9781489257918 | eBook available

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Book Giveaway and Review: So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

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So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

COMPETITION CLOSED

Thank you to everybody who entered my Valentines Day competition to win a copy of So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter. I loved reading about everybody’s favourite love stories!

The lucky winner is Melanie Jane who entered on Facebook.

Valentines Day is almost here and I have a brand new copy of  the bold and hilarious novel “So Lucky” by Dawn O’Porter for one lucky Aussie reader, thanks to HarperCollins Publishers Australia.

All you need to do to enter is let me know your favourite love story of all time in the comments here, on Facebook,Instagram, or Twitter. It could be a story about romantic love, or perhaps the love between friends, or maybe a story about the importance of learning to love yourself just as you are, like “So Lucky”.

If you zoom in on the books on my bookshelf you might be able to spy some of my own favourite love stories.

My Review

Bold and hilarious contemporary women’s fiction. So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter will have you laughing out loud and help you realise that you are actually pretty lucky after all.

Three women are doing their best to project a perfect life to the outside world, but are actually feeling miserable on the inside. Beth has the perfect career, but her marriage is falling apart; Ruby has a shameful (in her eyes) secret and feels like she is failing at everything; and Lauren’s dream life is definitely not as perfect as it seems. A big event brings them all together and out comes the truth; nobody’s life is perfect, but that’s ok.

I really loved the character in this novel, and some of the more minor characters had a big impact. There were a more than a few laugh out loud moments, but I should also warn you that some a the humour is not for the faint of heart!

“So Lucky” highlights a very common struggle that most women face: the pressure to have the perfect life is enormous and impossible to ever truly achieve. We all have our struggles and it is often made easier to cope with when we share our struggles with each other.

5 stars!

Synopsis

IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .

Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.

AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS?

Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.

And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…

Fearless, frank and for everyone who’s ever doubted themselves, So Lucky is the straight-talking new novel from the Sunday Times bestseller.

Actually, you’re pretty f****** lucky to be you.

‘A total joy’ Matt Haig

‘Compulsively gripping and taps into the shame and self-hatred we *all* battle with. It is also very, very funny’ Sara Pascoe

Details

Author: Dawn O’Porter

Published: October 31st 2019 by HarperCollins

Source: Publisher

Read: Paperback, 400 pages, 2019

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Giveaway Details

Giveaway is open to residents of Australia and will posted to the confirmed address after the competition closes at 5pm AEDT Sunday February 16th 2020.

Winner must be over the age of 18 and confirm their Australian postal address via email or private message within 48 hours of the competition closing.

This giveaway is not affiliated with WordPress, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or HarperCollins Publishers Australia.

The winning entry will be chosen randomly by a computer generated program and will be notified by email or private message.

All you need to do to enter is let me know your favourite love story of all time in the comments here, on Facebook,Instagram, or Twitter. It could be a story about romantic love, or perhaps the love between friends, or maybe a story about the importance of learning to love yourself just as you are, like “So Lucky”.

#BookReview THOSE OTHER WOMEN by Nicola Moriarty @NikkiM3

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THOSE OTHER WOMEN by Nicola Moriarty featuring Zeus and Ziggy

Goodreads

From the author of The Fifth Letter comes a controversial and darkly comic story about the frustrations of being a childless woman in the modern baby-obsessed world… .

Poppy’s world has been tipped sideways: the husband who never wanted children has betrayed her with her broody best friend.

At least Annalise is on her side. Her new friend is determined to celebrate their freedom from kids, so together they create a Facebook group to meet up with like-minded women, and perhaps vent just an little about smug mummies’ privileges at work.

Meanwhile, their colleague Frankie would love a night out, away from her darlings – she’s not had one this decade and she’s heartily sick of being judged by women at the office as well as stay-at-home mums.

Then Poppy and Annalise’s group takes on a life of its own and frustrated members start confronting mums like Frankie in the real world. Cafés become battlegrounds, playgrounds become war zones and offices have never been so divided.

A rivalry that was once harmless fun is spiraling out of control.

Because one of their members is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And she has an agenda of her own . . .

My Review 

THOSE OTHER WOMEN is a funny read that explores the complexities of female friendships and rivalries.

I think any woman will find themselves nodding along to this novel at some points, but I hope they will also gain a clearer understanding of the other side.

Poppy’s husband has left her for her best friend. To add insult to injury they are having a baby together when Poppy had thought they were both happy to remain childless. She teams up with her single and child-free work friend, Annalise, to complain about how easy they think it is for mums. Their colleague, Frankie, always seems to be able to get out of work whenever she likes and there is even a local mums group on Facebook that won’t  let single women join. Poppy and Annalise start their own Facebook group for local single women, but things quickly move from companionship and the occasional vent to real-life confrontations and it becomes obvious that somebody in Poppy and Annalise’s group isn’t who she says she is.

THOSE OTHER WOMEN explores the the ways that women can so often be so harsh and judgmental towards themselves, and each other, and the ways that social media can often make these situations so much worse than they need to be.

As a childless woman in my 30s I have definitely felt very uncomfortable about that and been excluded by some women, and I would say I’ve probably unintentionally done the same to some women with kids myself. Like Moriarty demonstrates by the end of the novel, both groups have their own challenges and some bits about our lives that are also pretty fantastic. We really should be more open minded about other people’s life choices and talk to each other in person, rather than letting things fester and get blown out of proportion on social media.

I really love the research by danah boyd who explores how young people use social media for anybody who is interested in doing further reading about the methods and psychology of bullying via social media. It can often be far more insidious and hurtful than real-life bullying and danah’s research would be incredibly insightful for parents of teenagers so they can have a clearer understanding of some of the warning signs to look out for.

About the Author

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Nicola Moriarty

Nicola lives in Sydney’s north west with her husband and two small (but remarkably strong willed) daughters. In between various career changes, becoming a mum and studying at Macquarie University, she began to write. Now, she can’t seem to stop.

Her writing was once referred to as ‘inept’ by The Melbourne Age. Luckily on that same day the Brisbane Courier Mail called her work ‘accomplished, edgy and real.’ So she stopped crying into her Weetbix, picked up a pen and continued to write. She has been fueled by a desire to prove The Age wrong ever since.

These days, she writes everything from novels to football stadium announcements to VW radio ad scripts and Home Loan EDMs to the occasional Mamamia article and the odd Real Estate advert.

Her first two novels, Free-Falling and Paper Chains were published by Random House Australia in 2012 and 2013. Free-Falling was translated into Dutch and German and was awarded the title of ‘Best Australian Debut’ from Chicklit Club. Paper Chains was later picked up for publishing in the U.S. by HarperCollins and will be released there in 2019.

Her romance novella Captivation was released both as an e-book and in print as part of a collection of romance stories titled, All My Love. She has since concluded that romance writing is not her thing. She also wrote two travel themed short stories for the U.K. Sunlounger anthologies, which were Amazon bestsellers.

While completing a BA with a major in writing at Macquarie University, she was awarded the Fred Rush Convocation prize for creative writing / literary criticism in Australian literature. This achievement made her glow with pride and happily took some of the sting out of The Age’s aforementioned criticism.

In 2017, Nicola released her third novel, The Fifth Letter. Published by HarperCollins in both Australia and the U.S. and by Penguin in the U.K, it was a top ten best seller in Australia and just snuck onto the USA Today Best seller list! It was translated into German, Dutch and Hungarian. In exciting news, film rights for The Fifth Letter were also optioned by Universal Cable Productions.

Nicola’s latest novel, Those Other Women was released in Australia, the US and the UK in 2018 and was an Amazon best seller. Marian Keyes had this to say about Those Other Women, ‘I devoured it, loved it and totally escaped into it … Fun and topical.’

She has four older sisters and one older brother and she lives in constant fear of being directly compared to her two wildly successful and extraordinarily talented author sisters, Liane Moriarty and Jaclyn Moriarty. Unless of course, the comparison is something kind, perhaps along the lines of, “Liane, Jaci and Nicola are all wonderful writers. I love all of their books equally.”

Other things of note are Nicola’s lack of fine motor skills, demonstrated by her inability to thread keys onto key-rings, tie balloons, braid hair and apply eyeliner. If you have taken the time to read this far, she would very much like to send you a Freddo Frog to show her appreciation. But she probably won’t follow through, because she’ll most likely eat all the Freddo Frogs before she gets the chance to post them. Sorry, she does mean well.

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Win a copy of WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Lauren Weisberger

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WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Laura Weisberger

Goodreads

New York Times bestselling author Lauren Weisberger returns with a novel starring one of her favorite characters from The Devil Wears Prada—Emily Charlton, first assistant to Miranda Priestly, now a highly successful image consultant who’s just landed the client of a lifetime.

Welcome to Greenwich, CT, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.

Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton, Miranda Priestly’s ex-assistant, does not do the suburbs. She’s working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.

Karolina Hartwell is as A-list as they come. She’s the former face of L’Oreal. A mega-supermodel recognized the world over. And now, the gorgeous wife of the newly elected senator from New York, Graham, who also has his eye on the presidency. It’s all very Kennedy-esque, right down to the public philandering and Karolina’s arrest for a DUI—with a Suburban full of other people’s children.

Miriam is the link between them. Until recently she was a partner at one of Manhattan’s most prestigious law firms. But when Miriam moves to Greenwich and takes time off to spend with her children, she never could have predicted that being stay-at-home mom in an uber-wealthy town could have more pitfalls than a stressful legal career.

Emily, Karolina, and Miriam make an unlikely trio, but they desperately need each other. Together, they’ll navigate the social landmines of life in America’s favorite suburb on steroids, revealing the truths—and the lies—that simmer just below the glittering surface. With her signature biting style, Lauren Weisberger offers a dazzling look into another sexy, over-the-top world, where nothing is as it appears

My Review

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS is the perfect book to unwind, relax, and treat yourself to something indulgent.

Emily Charlton, everybody’s favourite assistant from Lauren Weisberger’s bestselling novel and major motion picture THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA is back! Emily has successfully developed her own company working as an image consultant to the stars. She is happily living in LA with her hunky husband, Miles, until she starts to lose her biggest clients to a young social media savvy rival. While Emily takes refuge in the suburbs of Connecticut with her former high-power lawyer turned full time mum friend, Miranda, she can’t help but take on a new client. Karolina Hartwell is a former supermodel in the midst of a nasty divorce with her husband, a newly elected New York senator with presidential aspirations. At first, Emily is bored and slightly horrified by the plastic surgery obsessed Lululemon wearing Connecticut housewives, but life in the suburbs begins to grow on her as the friendship between the three women develops.

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS is a lighthearted and seriously funny look inside the glitz and glamour of the wealthy Connecticut suburbs filled with on-trend pop culture references. As Emily observed, this world is a lot like THE REAL HOUSEWIVES reality series with a bit less yelling. But, Weisberger successfully includes insightful social commentary on the craziness of this world, the importance of strong and supportive female friendships, and the ways our priorities and confidence in ourselves change as we grow older along with all the fun and action. I loved the guest appearance of the devil in Prada herself, Miranda Priestly, and it was nice to learn that she hasn’t changed a single bit.

Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers Australia for sending me a review copy.

Competition

I have a copy of WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS to one lucky Australian reader.

To enter, simply let me know in the comment section your favourite way to indulge yourself while you read.

Competition is open to Australian residents and entries will close July 24th, 2018.

Visit me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to increase your chances of winning.

 

#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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#BookReview THE STORY OF OUR LIFE by Shari Low @sharilow

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THE STORY OF OUR LIFE by Shari Low

Goodreads Blurb

Unwind, laugh, cry … but feel uplifted with this bittersweet love story. Perfect for the fans of Jo-Jo Moyes and Marian Keyes.

So what would you do if your ‘happy ever after’ was stolen from you?

Colm strolled into my life fifteen years ago. If there’s ever such a thing as love at first sight, that was it for us both. A few weeks later we married, celebrating with those who cared, ignoring the raised eyebrows of the cynics.

We knew better. This was going to be forever. The dream come true. The perfect ending. Until it wasn’t.

Because a couple of months ago everything changed. We discovered a devastating truth, one that blew away our future and forced us to revisit our past, to test the bonds that were perhaps more fragile than they seemed.

So now I ask you again, what would you do if your ‘happy ever after’ was taken from you?

Because this is what I did.

I’m Shauna.

And this is the Story of Our Life…

My Review

Colm and Shauna have been married for 15 years. Despite plenty of ups and downs they were planning on spending the rest of their lives together until tragedy turns their worlds upside.

After reading the description of this novel I wasn’t quite expecting just how  gut wrenching this novel actually was. I had to put this novel aside for a while once I discovered how sad it actually was compared to what I was expecting from the blurb. I often enjoy sad stories but I do like to be prepared for it from the get go.

I’m glad I was able to pick it up again, though, because it really is a beautifully written story. The characters are well developed and sometimes did things I disagreed with, but I could also understand why they behave they way they did. I think almost everybody deals with tragedy in ways that don’t make any sense at the time.

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Shari Low

Shari Low has published eighteen books under her own name and pseudonyms Millie Conway and Ronni Cooper. She is also one half of the writing duo, Shari King, with old friend and TV presenter, Ross King.
Back in the nineties, after living abroad for many years, Shari returned to Scotland, met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, two teenagers and a labradoodle.
Shari also writes an opinion column and a literary page for a newspaper and is working on the TV adaptation of one of her books.
For all the latest news, visit her on Facebook, twitter, or at www.sharilow.com

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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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The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay

Perfect for classical book lovers!                                     

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Img Source: Goodreads

 

The Brontë Plot is a contemporary novel set in Chicago that features quotes and inspiration from dozens of favourite classics, particularly works of the Brontës of course. I didn’t find out until I began writing this review that it is also classed as Christian Fiction. It clearly wasn’t too obviously religious, though, so that may be either a good or bad thing for some readers.

The story centres around Lucy who makes a living selling rare books for the slightly kooky and endearing interior designer, Sid. Lucy’s Dad was a bit of a con-man and unfortunately Lucy has picked up some of his bad habits. This causes much trouble for Lucy, particularly when her boyfriend, James, discovers she deceived him as well as Sid.

James’ grandmother, Helen, reveals that she has a history with Lucy’s family and decides to take Lucy on a bookish sight-seeing trip to England despite the fact that James has split up with her. All sorts of things come to a head in a Brontë – ish style in Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters.

I’m not sure how I feel about this novel. I really enjoyed the literary references, but I didn’t really feel a connection to any of the main characters. James and Lucy’s was a bit off for me as well. They went from strangers to being in a committed relationship and then split up really quickly, which just didn’t feel right. I’m not sure how they could have such strong feelings about each other based on what we knew about them.

Description

Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious measures to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy’s secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt, and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.

In a sudden turn of events, James’s wealthy grandmother Helen hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy’s predicament better than anyone else.

As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen’s wisdom, as Helen confronts the ghosts of her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters’ beloved heroines, who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of change.

Now Lucy must go back into her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that’s been waiting for her all along.

Details

Title: The Brontë Plot

Author: Katherine Reay

ISBN: 1401689752 (ISBN13: 9781401689759)

Published: November 3rd 2015 by Thomas Nelson

Genre: Contemorary, Christian Fiction

Pages: 334

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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Christmas at Thornton Hall by Lynn Marie Hulsman Book Review

Title: Christmas at Thornton Hall  Christmasatthorntonhall

Author: Lynn Marie Hulsman

ISBN: 9780007568871

Published: Dec 2013, HarperCollins UK, Harper Impulse

Rating: 3/5

Pages: 386

Description:

Need a fun, festive treat to warm you up on cold winter nights? Don’t miss this terrific debut from a witty new voice in romantic comedy!

When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend’s apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas – with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!

So when she’s personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it’s not long before Juliet’s standing at the (back) door of the Earl of Gloucester’s impossibly grand ancestral pile.

The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.

But other flames are burning besides those on the stove… Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet’s getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?

As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall’s numerous dark cupboards!

CHRISTMAS AT THORNTON HALL is a country house romance for the modern age, a must-read for fans of the scandals and drama of Downton Abbey and the charm and wit of Helen Fielding.

My Thoughts:

I received my copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Christmas at Thornton Hall is the 6th Christmas themed book that I have read as part of the December Challenge that I’m participating in with the Aussie Readers Group at Goodreads. This one was a bit longer than a lot of the other Christmas themed novels around and it took me a little bit longer than I would have liked to get through. That’s my own fault though, not the book’s, since I must have gone crazy for a while earlier this year and elected to study two university subjects over the Christmas break so I have been pretty busy around here lately!

The longer than usual length allowed the author, Lynn Marie Hulsman, to pack in a lot of action and interesting characters. I quite often felt a bit stressed out for Juliet, the main character, because there was so much going on around her. She’s a top chef to the stars dealing with a break up with her boyfriend, Ben and sexual tension with Edward, her sexy fellow chef and Jasper Roth, her handsome and wealthy boss while cooking for a huge, snobby Christmas party on her own at Thornton Hall which is one of those super wealthy English properties that have been owned by titled families for generations.

There were quite a few times that I questioned whether Juliet really had true feelings for any of these men as she seemed to be able to jump from fantasizing about one to another in a matter of seconds. Her previous ex was also brought up often so that makes four love interests in one book which is perhaps a few too many for me.

Juliet was a bit of annoying main character to be honest. 99% of her problems could have been solved just by talking about them to the relevant people but she seemed to avoid that like the plague. I could certainly relate to her tendency to drift off and daydream at the drop of a hat but I found myself getting frustrated at her indecisiveness and unwillingness to talk to anyone about anything.

The other characters were all well developed although I would have liked to have read more about Edward the fellow chef. He was missing for the majority of the story and from what I did read about him he seemed like a pretty interesting guy. He leaves Juliet in the lurch at the beginning of the book to cope with the Christmas festivities at Thornton Hall on her own with no explanation after a night of passion. I found it difficult to believe that Juliet simply didn’t bother to give him a call to find out why he left. If some guy pulled a stunt like that on me I’d be chasing him down if only to give him a piece of my mind!

Edward had his reasons for leaving but will he be able to explain everything in time to stop Juliet from traipsing off to America with her married boss? Jasper Roth is rich, handsome and American so he did what any American who wants to succeed in London does apparently and married Lady Penelope who is titled but crazy. He has been after Juliet for ages and hopes to leave his wife and take off home to America with Juliet. Jasper wasn’t the most likable of characters, he was far too interested in expensive things and rude to his staff for me.

There are a host of terrific supporting characters in Christmas at Thornton Hall. At times it was perhaps a few too many to keep up with. Some of my favourites included Terrence, the sassy gay butler, Rose and Seamus, the elderly and kind couple who have worked at Thornton Hall most of their lives and The Earl of Gloucester who is known by the downstairs staff as The Painter since he is a well known artist. The Earl has some interesting secrets of his own.

Christmas at Thornton Hall is a Christmas story with an interesting plot and characters. There is mystery, plenty of romance and few steamy love scenes. There are plenty of laughs and I found it to be a really enjoyable Christmas themed read with a noticable lack of cheesiness which I quite liked.

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