commercial fiction · Hachette · Hodder and Stoughton · Hodder Fiction · Women's Fiction

The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club by Chrissie Manby

 

The-Worst-Case-Scenario-Cookery-Club-Aiysha-Reads

In the quaint seaside town of Newbay, a beginner’s cookery course is starting. And three very different students have signed up . . .

Liz’s husband has left her for a twenty-something clean-eating blogger, and she’s determined to show the world – and her daughter – she’s just as capable in the kitchen. John, newly widowed after fifty years of marriage, can’t live on sympathy lasagnes forever. To thirty-year-old workaholic Bella, the course is a welcome escape from her high-pressure job. Their only common ground: between them, they can barely boil an egg!

Enter talented chef Alex, who is determined to introduce his pupils to the comforts of cuisine. As Liz, John and Bella encounter various disasters in the kitchen, the unlikely trio soon form a fast friendship. Their culinary skills might be catastrophic – but could the cookery club have given them a recipe for happiness?

I have to admit, after reading Obsession by Amanda Prowse, I found it difficult to read a book and finish it. Call it a readers block if you wish… It was frustrating. I was lucky to have been given a chance to read this title, thanks to Hodder Fiction and I read it in two sittings! We have three very different characters: Liz, Bella and John with different sets of circumstances come together through the shared desire to learn how to cook. This of course is only possible for them by Alex opening up a cookery course.

What was so beautiful about this novel was that food bought the characters together. You have Liz who desperately tried to get in her 15-year-old daughter, Saskia’s good books by trying to live up to her ‘healthy eating’ expectations (which has been influenced by her father’s girlfriend, Brittany). Despite going through a separation with husband Ian and feeling as though she is loosing Saskia (and her dog Ted to obesity), Liz tried to take control of her life in whatever little way she can. Though Alex’s cookery class she makes three new friends and learns to appreciate the art of cooking rather than opting for Sainsbury’s ready meals.

Then you have Bella whose father had a dream of bringing the Italian cuisine to their current residency: Newbay. The little Italian cafe, known as Bella’s was Bella’s father’s pride and joy, however it didn’t last long. With the death of her father three years of the cafe going bust, Bella promised her mother she would seek a respectable, high-paying job  so she’d never have to experience the poverty her mother experienced. Things change for Bella through the cookery course. She realises she has an unwavering passion for italian cuisine and decides to take a different direction in her life. Along that self-discovery, she also finds love.

Then there’s John who lost his beloved wife, Sonia and had never cooked a day in his life. He joins the cookery course to learn a few recipes and to more importantly, become self-reliant when it came to meals. He learns his all-time favourite: beef wellington and makes friends with Bella, Liz and Alex. Despite this, we understand that John has an uneasy relationship with his son. Meeting Alex and taking part in his cookery course allows John to realise that everyone deserves second chances, including his son.

This novel has friendship at its heart. This friendship is brought together through the shared interest in learning about cooking. It is this cookery course that helps each character find their way in their own lives. The plot and subplots worked very together to create a seamless story whilst including all the intricate details of what I believe all good novels should have.

It was an absolute pleasure to read. I’d like to thank Hodder Fiction for giving me the chance to review this novel for an honest review.

The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club will be published in September 2017 by Hodder and Stoughton.

commercial fiction · fiction · HarperCollins Publishers · Women's Fiction

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

The-Cows-Dont-Follow-The-Heard-All-things-books-blog

COW [n.]
/kaʊ/

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

Tara, Cam and Stella are strangers living their own lives as best they can – though when society’s screaming you should live life one way, it can be hard to like what you see in the mirror.

When an extraordinary event ties invisible bonds of friendship between them, one woman’s catastrophe becomes another’s inspiration, and a life lesson to all.

Sometimes it’s ok not to follow the herd.

The Cows is a powerful novel about three women – judging each other, but also themselves. In all the noise of modern life, they need to find their own voice.

So what did I think about this most-raved-about book? Loved it. Devoured in two sittings. The story centres around three women: Tara, Cam and Stella – women who don’t know each other but become connected through shared experience of what it’s actually like being in woman in the modern world. Cam is a successful, award-winning blogger, famed for her feminism and for her outspoken honesty. She’s passionate about being childless and wants to tell all the other women out there that they too have choices.

Tara is a TV documentary maker and a single mother to her six- year old daughter, Annie. Stella is a PA to an award-winning photographer and struggles to deal with the loss of her twin sister, Alice and who she is without her twin sister. Three women, different in their own ways with three different stories, which are woven together beautifully.

The novel is set in a social media world, which highly resonates with the world we live in today, where a person can go from unknown to trending in a mere 60 seconds. Dawn explores the themes of motherhood to masturbation and everything else in between that whichever female picks this book up can relate to it in one way or another.

 

This was definitely a page turner of a read. Dawn has an art for story-telling as she seamlessly weaves three different lives together beautifully, with humour and honesty about what is actually means to be a woman in 2017. Ladies, go get you copy, and don’t follow the heard. Be you! That’s the message I got and I think it’s relevant and needed now more than ever.

The Cows was published by HarperCollins in April 2017.

 

commercial fiction · fiction · Women's Fiction

The Idea Of You by Amanda Prowse

the-idea-of-you-aiysha-reads

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…

This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?

I read this book without having actually read much about it, though knowing it was women’s fiction, that was just about all I knew. This book focuses on a couple that are trying to get pregnant and follows their journey through a few heart-breaking misscariages. I’ve not read much or thought so much about what it must feel like to have a misscarriage but Amanda captures the pain and heart-broke so beautifully through her protagonist Lucy. I really feel for Lucy because she feels a strong desire to get pregnant and every time it happens for her, she ends up loosing the baby and I can only imagine how difficult and strenuous that can be for a couple.

An extra layer of difficult is added for Lucy when her step daughter, Camille from France comes to stay for a few weeks in the holiday. Lucy struggles to form a relationship with the sixteen-year old and slowly starts to feel like an outsider in her own home. She does everything she possibly can to make Camille feel welcome and at home, but the effort and respect is not reciprocated as Lucy had hoped. When Camille meets Dex from her part-time job, we learn that she falls pregnant – and this news turns both Lucy’s and Jonah’s world upside down. Nevertheless, Lucy finds the strength to support Camille through the pregnancy, even though she has to watch another woman go through exactly what she has yearned for. This had to be the most exciting part of the novel for me because it was unexpected and gaged my interest (I only wish it came a bit sooner, as the plot started to feel stagnant half way through). I think it’s very mature and kind-hearted of Lucy to support Camille and give her all the tiny clothes (she had kept onto of her wardrobe for her own baby) to Camille.

We learn that Lucy has secrets of her own, and this ties in very nicely with the structure of the book – after each chapter, Lucy writes a small section about her thoughts and feelings about getting pregnant. But later on in the novel, we understand the reason for this as it does have a wider purpose and I thought it ties in beautifully with the wider plot – won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it.

I liked Lucy and Jonah’s characters as I think Amanda portrays marriage realistically though them – it’s not a bed of roses and it can get quite complicated and it was nice to be given the truth rather than a fairytale. I also liked the portrayal of a woman going through misscariages and Lucy’s journey in accepting  not having a baby and finding happiness in all that she currently has. It was nice to see that  Lucy  could  nurture and mother Camille once their relationship strengthened that she realised that she didn’t need to give birth to feel like a mother after all.

The Idea Of You was published in March 2017 by Amazon.

 

 

HarperCollins Publishers · Women's Fiction

Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

erotic-stories-for-punjabi-widows-book-review-aiysha-reads

 

Every woman has a secret life…

When Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she’s shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals.

Yet to her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty – these are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands; being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories. But as they begin to open up to each other about womanhood, sexuality, and the dark secrets within the community, Nikki realises that the illicit nature of the class may place them all in danger.

East meets west and tradition clashes with modernity in a thought-provoking cross-cultural novel that might make you look again at the women in your life…

I had seen the book cover of this beauty filling my twitter feed and was first attracted to read it because of the cover and the title, which immediately screamed: THIS IS A BOOK YOU WANT TO READ AIYSHA!

I’m very grateful for HarperCollins who allowed me to review this title.

Set in Southall the book explores the lives and stories of Sikh immigrant Punjabi widows through a writing class that sparks their creativity. Balli effortlessly creates a protagonist stuck in the middle of two cultures: Punjabi  and British. I immediately clicked with Nikki as I too find myself in a similar position and therefore found it very easy to relate to her struggles and desires for both independence and acceptance in both worlds.

Balli breaks the boundary between eroticism and Punjabi widows so beautifully by bringing these two ideas to the forefront and equally showing us that even older women have desires for love and sexual fulfilment. And to read these women’s stories is also hilarious!

Reading this book was effortless, the chapters explore the main plot concerning the writing class for the widows, but this then also beautiful explores the lives of some of the women in the community, especially that of Kulvinder and her past. Alongside this, we also have the  narrative of Nikki’s personal life between herself and her family and her relationship with Jason. These subplots merge seamlessly together and provide a gripping read. I believe we need more books like this, focusing on the asian community in order to crush taboos and bring life experiences and perspectives of immigrant asian women to the forefront.

A brilliant read and a fantastic cover. I’ve already recommended to friends and family.

Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows was published by HarperCollins in March 2017.

 

Avon · fiction · Women's Fiction

If Ever I fall by S.D Robertson

if-ever-i-fall-aiysha-reads

Is holding on harder than letting go?

Dan’s life has fallen apart at the seams. All he’s ever wanted is to keep his family together, but everything seems beyond repair and, try as he might, he can’t turn back time.

Maria is drowning in grief. She spends her days writing letters that will never be answered, unable to connect with the real world.

In the face of real tragedy, can this couple find a way to reconcile their past with a new future? And is love enough to carry them through? 

I’d heard so much about this book that I knew I had to get my hands on it. It’s been a long time since I’ve been touched by a genuine, emotionally-gripping and beautifully written story and it was effortless to read. The story reveals and centres around a broken family that are trying to get through the storm of loss and devastation.  This is achieved by having three very distinct narrative threads and it did take a while to understand that all three were deeply connected to one another.

There is Maria who writes letters to Sam as a way of dealing with the tragic loss that she is struggling to come to terms with. She also writes these letters as a means to explore her marriage with Dan and to also calm her OCD. Each time Maria writes a letter to Sam, the plot moves forward in time, which allows the plot to unfold.

Then there is Dan and each time we meet him, the time is going backwards leading up to a very specific, tragic event (that would be every parent’s nightmare) that happened a couple of years ago. In the book we get to see how both Maria and Dan deal with this tragic event, but in their own  unique ways. We also see how this event alone has strained their marriage and their family dynamics, as everything from that point onwards feels as though it is falling a part.

There is also a man named Jack who is suffering from severe amnesia and is being looked after by a retired Dr. Miles in a remote part of Wales. Jack tries to regain his memory and does sometimes gets flashes of memory but fails to understand how they’re connected to himself. I thought the exploration of amnesia through Jack’s character was very insightful as I knew very little about the illness and it helps to bring awareness to the severity of it.

Towards the end of the book, these three separate strands come together by looking at the tragic event itself, as Dan relives the devastation (not going to say what happens, but it would be most parents’ nightmare to have to go through this.) As the threads are woven together, everything begins to make perfect sense.

This is a touching book that explores the complexities of a nuclear family and how a family can cope with loss. This book also focuses on marriage and the complexities of a marriage fizzling out when children are involved. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every part of it as the plot and characters was well developed and I love losing myself in other people’s lives to take the pressure off of focusing on my own life so much, and this book allowed me to do just that.

If Ever I Fall was published on 9 February by Avon.

 

 

 

 

 

Women's Fiction

November Reads | Christmas titles

https://allthingsbooksweb.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/christmassy-reads.jpg?w=663It’s that time of year again. The lights have gone up in Oxford Street, christmas decorations will soon be in most of department stores’ displays and I’ve been itching to get my hands on fiction centred around the festivities.

I’ll be starting the month with these three titles: A Yorkshire Christmas by Kate Hewitt, Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson and Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson.

Below are each book’s blurb. I will be reviewing as soon as I’ve finished reading and I can’t wait to share my thoughts on them.

A Yorkshire Christmas 

Wealthy New York City girl Claire Lindell isn’t looking for a Christmas miracle or happiness when she abruptly decides to hole up for the holiday at her godmother’s cottage in a little Yorkshire village, and lick her wounds from a near disastrous romantic decision.

After her car skids into a snow bank, Claire may have accidently found her perfect Christmas and the family and love she’s craved when she offers Noah Bradford of Ayesgill Farm help to push the back end of one of his sheep out of the icy mud, even if she’s going to ruin a brand new pair of Prada boots during the rescue.

What’s a little leather when love’s on the line?

Mistletoe on 34th Street

Olivia has never experienced a snow-covered, ‘traditional’ Christmas before. Having grown up in a family that chose winter sun over decking the halls, she’s not sure what all the fuss is about. So when she and her colleagues are stranded in New York after a work trip, Olivia is perfectly happy spending the holiday season in the Big Apple.

Jon, Olivia’s friend, on the other hand is desperate to get home in time for his big family get-together. Nevertheless, determined to make the best out of the situation, he sets out to show Olivia how enchanting Christmas in New York can be. And when handsome New Yorker Elijah is added to the mix, could the magic of the season finally be working its charm on Olivia? As 25 December draws closer, Olivia suddenly finds herself with a decision to make: who does she really want to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe 

Becca Fletcher has always hated Christmas but she has her reasons for being Little Miss Grinch. Now, though, she can’t avoid her version of ho-ho-hell – because she’s travelling to the Comfort Food Cafe to spend the festive season with her sister Laura and her family. She’s expecting mulled wine, 24-hour Christmas movie marathons and all kinds of very merry torture.

Little does Becca know that the Comfort Food Cafe is like no other place on earth. Perched on a snow-covered hill, it’s a place full of friendship where broken hearts can heal, new love can blossom and where Becca’s Christmas miracle really could happen – if only she can let it…

Inviting readers new and old to pull up a cosy armchair, Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe is the novella-length follow-up to the 2016 best-seller Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe.