Taking a break

My dear and frothy readers,

I’m taking a break for a while to work on my own frothy tome. The site will stay live so feel free to check out the older reviews.

I’ll be back xx

The Villa – Rosanna Ley

What to Expect:

When Tess Angel receives a solicitor’s letter inviting her to claim her inheritance – the Villa Sirena, perched on a clifftop in Sicily – she is stunned. Her only link to the island is through her mother, Flavia, who left Sicily during World War II and cut all contact with her family. Initially resistant to Tess going back to her roots, Flavia realises the secrets from her past are about to be revealed and decides to try to explain her actions. Meanwhile, Tess’ teenage daughter Ginny is stressed by college, by her blooming sexuality and filled with questions that she longs to ask her father, if only she knew where he was.

Three women, all seeking answers. Will Villa Sirena bring them together – or drive them apart?

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor- Although all three women feature in their own chapters, the lead is Tess, who was thrust into adulthood when she became a single parent to Ginny (now eighteen), and has coped ever since. When we meet, Tess is seeing a married man- hated by her friends and family- but her trip to Sicily is their make-or-break point. Tess is quite mature for her (thirty-nine) years, level headed and pleasantly assertive, but struggling to maintain her close relationship with Ginny.

Kooks for your Kindle?- I can’t really call everyone ‘characters’, they are more like real people. It’s always a pleasure to get lost in a book that feels like it’s a real world. Flavia has an interesting history, not just the WWII era- after which she left Sicily for good- but the following years as she settled in England. She’s a woman of secrets, who finally gains the courage to share them with her family. Ginny is having a crisis of her own; boys, life, friends, education, work, what’s a girl to do. Amazingly her long lost father, who abandoned her before she was born, turns out to be the one she relates to.

In Sicily, we have Giovanni, descended from the family that Flavia and Tess’s own fell out with. He’s a strong character who initially thinks he can control Tess- but what is it he wants exactly? Tonino is descended from another family connected to Flavia, he’s an artist doing magical things with sea glass while fighting some inner demons.

Painting a Picture for your Paperback?- I’ve spent some time in Calabria and Sicily, and I can say that this brings it all back. It’s another world with its own rules and traditions, and god forbid you should fall afoul of the local men-in-charge. The beauty of the island, the food and the sea are brought to life by this skilled author. As a scuba diver I also appreciate a little underwater action too.

Evaluation of your eBook?- It’s a gorgeous, atmospheric, engrossing read, with Sicily brought to life through food, people and history. The shady southern Italian ways seem pretty accurate, with men accustomed to getting their own way and families feuding with each other. It’s a long book, something to get your teeth into, with a likable heroine. The mother-daughter-granddaughter dynamic is at the forefront, with all its complexities. It’s a gentle book for all ages, possibly more for the 30+ market.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for 56p

US: Kobobooks for $4.99, Amazon for $9.99.

Bridal Bootcamp – Bella Bailey

What to Expect:

Bridal Bootcamp is a contemporary romantic comedy set in Dublin, Ireland. When Yvonne’s boyfriend Simon accepts her marriage proposal, she resolves to give her family and friends the best wedding imaginable! And if the little matter of money gets in the way…well, she’ll worry about that later.
Besides, it’s not as if she has nothing else to fret about – Simon’s twin sister Tracey is hell-bent on finding a way to stop the wedding. When Simon’s ex, Sandra, returns from the past and reveals that Simon is the father of her baby, it looks like Tracey might get her wish – especially as Sandra is demanding a kidney from Simon for their gravely ill child.
And that’s the easy part….what Yvonne doesn’t know is that her best friend, Rachel, is harbouring a deadly secret that has the potential to obliterate Yvonne’s relationship with Simon forever…..a secret that comes to light in a dramatic crescendo on their big day in front of everyone they know.
The power of this young couple’s love is put to the test again and again, and they embark on a journey of discovery about their relationship. The issues they face force them to evaluate what’s really important to them – their wedding, or their impending marriage.

This one was difficult to categorise, and is possibly not as frothy as its cover design, blurb and title indicates. There’s some surprisingly serious subject matter towards the end, while the lighter parts were reminiscent of Don’t Tell The Groom.

Kooks for your Kindle?- A wide range of supporting friends and relatives provide added action and intrigue, although not many are fleshed out. Sandra, the ex-girlfriend, was nicely done as the desperate mother who has to convince Simon that her betrayal is insignificant when bigger issues are at hand. Simon was a nice down to earth chap who clearly adores our heroine, although her dramatics conflict with his desire for a quiet life. Naming five major characters with the letter S was a little cruel. Tracey and Simon are twins and the opposite sides of a coin- she has made up her mind about Tracey before they meet and her sole purpose seems to be to break them up, purely due to a bit of jealousy.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor- Yvonne had (what I call) a touch of the Shopaholics- she waltzes along in her own reality while her obviously catastrophic decisions all pile up until her understanding man finds out. The financial choices are the worst- we’re told Yvonne is well organised and level headed but she goes so far over budget, the budget becomes a speck in the distance. Her bridezilla blog highlights her selfish overbearing character, as does her behaviour with her friends Molly and Rachel. It was hard to like her to be honest, but of course she learns her lesson when it all falls apart. Her saving grace, in my eyes, was her self respect and assertiveness.

Provoking your Inner-Pedant- Pedants like me will wince at the errors, a good professional proofreader would not go amiss.

Evaluation of your eBook?- For all my negativity above, I have to say the plot was gripping, and kept me hanging on into the early hours. There’s plenty of action and of course everything goes wrong. The serious subject matter towards the end (no spoilers!) was largely handled with sensitivity. I nearly gave up near the start as I found Yvonne so obnoxious, but the fast moving plot kept me going and it got better.

Frothy Ranking: 2.5/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for £1.86, although recently it was on special for free, so click the price for the latest.

US: Amazon for $2.99.

Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What to Expect:

As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.
Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?
Fearless, gripping, spanning three continents and numerous lives, ‘Americanah’ is a richly told story of love and expectation set in today’s globalized world.

I’m doing a mini-review for this one as it’s not at all frothy, but it’s a must-read and there’s no way I can do it justice. The title refers to the nickname given to Nigerians who return home from time in America, full of the culture and accent and feeling a little superior to their compatriots. Ifemelu is decidedly different, she made a conscious decision not to adopt an American accent and began a blog in America with an outsider’s social commentary, majoring in Race, with a side degree in Hair.

It’s a big saga, although we meet Ifemelu as she’s deciding to return to Nigeria we have flashbacks to her childhood, her student years, her decision to go to the US, her life and relationships there, and her turning point. We also have her childhood sweetheart Obinze, his time as an illegal in the UK, and his success back home. Finally we find out what happens when they are both back home, struggling to find their place now that they are equipped with new perspectives.

It’s an amazing tale by such a talented writer. The observations by Ifemelu are incredibly astute. Her experiences in the US as a ‘Non American Black’ are wildly different to that of American Blacks, and her blog entries on the subject are fascinating. Ifemelu’s need to return home is the catalyst for the rest of the tale. Give it a shot. I’d never given much thought to most of the topics involved and even I couldn’t put it down- that’s the power of great writing.

Frothy Ranking: 5/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:
UK: Amazon for £2.99.

US: Kobobooks for $14.29 and Amazon for $8.99.

To Catch A Creeper- Ellie Campbell

Unfortunately I got distracted after reading this and didn’t immediately review it- apologies to Pam and Lorraine, AKA Ellie Campbell, who asked for the review. It’s a follow up to Looking for La La, and follows the further crazy adventures of Cathy with her disastrous foray into the world of advertising, unfortunately without the buffer of her partner in crime Rosa. The main focus of the book is her investigation into workplace sabotage and the latest neighbourhood shenanigans which have once more taken a turn for the murderous. Just as in the previous book, Cathy is juggling domestic catastrophes while solving multiple mysteries, earn a living and keep her marriage alive.

It would be best to read La La first as it’s more of a continuation of that, although it would work on its own. It’s best described as madcap, which is one of those words you wouldn’t use in conversation, but fits quite well. There is an occasionally confusing abundance of colourful characters, most of whom come under suspicion at some point; and a tangled web of plot lines which somehow get sorted out by the end. Neither Cathy nor her husband learned their lessons in communication after the last book; this nearly leads to the demise of their marriage again. It’s fun and fast moving, wittily told, and definitely frothy.

UK: Amazon for £1.99, sometimes on special for less.

US: Amazon for $2.99.

Falling into a YA spiral

Apologies frothy ones, been off the grid lately reading a ton of YA stuff, despite my advanced years. Spiral maybe be the wrong word- implying it’s a bad thing. Totally enjoyed it, regret nothing. It all started with seeing the Divergent movie, after which I had to read the book by Veronica Roth, and then the rest of the trilogy (Insurgent and Allegiant). They were very enjoyable and stand up well to obvious Hunger Games comparisons, being slightly more grown up. The ‘faction’ system of the new society is an overly simplistic concept with the personality types, but the plot’s nicely character driven and the new world is strongly built.

I was then pointed at the works of Rainbow Rowell by one of my favourite gossip bloggers, and devoured a couple of those too! Fangirl is about a troubled identical twin finding her way at college while losing herself in writing fan-fiction about a Harry Potter-type series of books. It probably falls into the New Adult genre rather than YA, adults would enjoy it too if you’re interested.

I then went on to Eleanor & Park, which is now being made into a movie- this one is definite YA territory, being about two 16 year old misfits. It’s both heartbreaking and heartwarming, Eleanor has such a wretched home life it’s kind of awful to see things improve for her when you know it’s probably going to get ripped away. The author cleverly avoids one of my pet peeves; although she’s in her forties she writes younger characters well. It probably helps that the latter book is set in the eighties, a whole difference world away from today’s teens.

The Real Katie Lavender – Erica James

What to Expect:
Katie Lavender has always thought she was pretty unshockable, until a year after her mother’s death she receives a letter from a solicitor telling her that the man she thought was her father, in fact wasn’t. Her real father, a man named Stirling Nightingale, has for years been building a trust fund for her. And now she’s of an age to collect it.

But Katie’s not interested in the money. She wants to know about the man instead. So decides to do some snooping. She tracks him down to a beautiful riverside home on the night he’s hosting a birthday party for his 90-year-old mother. And as she’s hovering outside, Katie is mistaken for a replacement waitress – an opportunity just too good to miss. And so Katie discovers that the Nightingales are far from your normal family … But what makes a normal family anyway?

I’ve read a fair few of Erica James’ novels, and most of them are more grown up than frothy. This one, however, seems to cross over into younger, frothier chick lit territory while still seeming like a grown up novel. Also impressive is how the author convincingly writes a younger heroine, something that not everyone can pull off.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor- At the age of 30 Katie is used to coping with the spanners thrown at her by life; having lost both parents within the last few years she’s found a way to deal with it all in a very self contained manner. This comes in handy when she loses her mediocre job and is dealt shocking news from her solicitor all on the same day: Katie’s Dad was not her biological dad. Feeling a lack of family, Katie looks up bio-daddy and meets her whole extended family- but she doesn’t exactly catch them on a good day.

Kooks for your Kindle?- Katie’s only substitute family is her bestie Tess, her hairdresser and Tess’s brother Zac, and Tess’s boyfriend Ben. Tess strikes a nice balance of being there without interfering unless absolutely necessary. Katie has a bland boyfriend, Ian, who’s making hints about moving in with her at the house she inherited from her mother. Luckily Katie sees that she’s with him for the wrong reasons.

Katie’s new-found family are quite the soap opera, although to be fair we are meeting them as they go through a tragedy unrelated to Katie’s sudden appearance. Her dad Stirling is a self-made man with a wife who enjoys the lifestyle, and 2 grown up (slightly spoilt) children. Katie’s new grandmother Cecily is a formidable lady, but is warm to those she deems worthy. She’s also surprisingly switched on for a lady of her years and doesn’t miss a trick. Additional allies to Katie are her Aunt Pen, who’s not as daffy as she seems, and Pen’s son Lloyd- Katie’s furniture designing cousin.

Painting a Picture for your Paperback?- All the settings seem to revolve around gardens, it’s quite pleasant and summery.

Evaluation of your eBook?- The main plot concerns the Nightingale family tragedy/scandal and its consequences, and Katie’s acceptance by the various Nightingales, or not as the case may be. Some of them are fiercely opposed to her and will do anything to get her out of the picture. There’s a little romance in there too, albeit ill-timed, leading to a difficult decision. The focus is not just on Katie, it’s shared by some of the Nightingales too, which makes for a nicely balanced story. It’s well paced, gripping, and heartwarming as a lost woman finds her roots.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for £1.49.

US: Kobobooks for $8.79, not on Amazon.

The Flavours of Love- Dorothy Koomson

What to Expect:

‘I’m looking for that perfect blend of flavours; the taste that used to be you. If I find it, I know you’ll come back to me.’

It’s been 18 months since my husband was murdered and I’ve decided to finish writing The Flavours of Love, the cookbook he started before he died. Everyone thinks I’m coping so well without him – they have no idea what I’ve been hiding or what I do away from prying eyes. But now that my 14-year-old daughter has confessed something so devastating it could destroy our family all over again, and my husband’s killer has started to write to me claiming to be innocent, I know it’s only a matter of time before the truth about me and what I’ve done is revealed to the world.

My name is Saffron Mackleroy and this is my story.

I decided to turn this into a mini-review as it’s not remotely frothy. I’ve been reading Dorothy’s books for as long as she’s been published; the first few were intelligent, thoughtful, fun and frothy. With The Ice Cream Girls they took a turn for the psychological thriller. These more recent books are still fabulously readable, possibly better; she’s definite found her genre.

Don’t be fooled by the title or talk of the cook book, that’s not really what this is all about. It’s a tense tale of how Saffron has been holding it together since her lovely husband’s murder, keeping her family going, keeping secrets. Her daughter has big news, news that means Saffron cannot go to the police about the letters from her husband’s killer. The secrets are slowly revealed, including horrifying ones from her daughter.

Saffron’s a great heroine who finds the strength to do things her way, risking her own health and safety to protect her family. The tension builds nicely to a very cleverly plotted finale.

I read this while on holiday and every day I couldn’t wait to get back into it every day to find out the whole story.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for £4.12, although recently it was £1.79, so click price for the latest.

US: Kobobooks for $10.19, not on Amazon.

Fractured – Dani Atkins

What to Expect:
What would you do if life gave you a second chance?
The night of the accident changed everything… Now, five years on, Rachel’s life is crumbling. She lives alone in a tiny flat, working in a dead-end job, desperate with guilt over her best friend’s death. She would give anything to turn back the clock. But life doesn’t work like that… Does it?
The night of the accident was a lucky escape… Now, five years on, Rachel’s life is perfect. She has a wonderful fiancé, loving family and friends around her, and the career she always wanted. But why can’t Rachel shake the memory of a very different life?
Gripping, romantic and heartbreaking, Fractured is a magical love story that asks: can two different stories lead to the same happy ending?

This is the author’s debut, and a strong one it is too. The beginning is a little confusing as we start to work out what is real and what isn’t, then it settles into a nice mystery with some heartbreak and romance.

Kooks for your Kindle?- Rachel’s main group of friends were all present at the accident that took Jimmy’s life in Rachel’s original history, Jimmy himself was a sweet 18 year old at the time, who clearly had a thing for his old friend. Rachel’s obnoxious boyfriend Matt knew this, and tormented him accordingly. Rachel’s bestie Sarah was adorably understanding, and eventually married a man worthy of her- on the very weekend that Rachel ended up in hospital again. Cathy always had a thing for Matt- how long can he resist her? Finally, Rachel’s Dad is devoted to her- she’s all he has- but he’s cancer-free in this new reality, is it too good to be true?

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor- Rachel is a very self contained character; she’s gone to ground since Jimmy’s death 5 years ago, driven by guilt and not believing that she deserves a happy life of her own. With her own health in a worrying decline, she forces herself to go to her best friend’s wedding- which is the first reunion of all those present at the previous accident. When Rachel inevitably ends up in hospital, she wakes to a different reality; one which seems like everything she could have wanted. But can she trust that this one is real, not her old miserable life? Rachel is admirably strong, not afraid to face the truth, even when her fiance is acting suspiciously. Her personality, outlook and dialogue has a maturity that’s way older than her 23 years.

Painting a Picture for your Paperback?- The beauty of this is not knowing if there’s a supernatural side to the story, or a more earthly explanation.

Provoking your Inner-Pedant- No worries, except for one passage near the end in which the spellchecker/proof-reader left a few clangers to keep me entertained.

Evaluation of your eBook?- You’d never know this was a debut; it’s so confidently done, and a brilliant story concept. There are a few hints along the way if you want to guess the ending before you get there, but really it could have gone in other directions so it’s not predictable. The story is beautifully haunting; I had to go back and read the beginning and the end again once I’d finished. The ideas and the characters stayed with me afterwards. Highly recommended and right now it’s a bargain too!

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for only 59p.

US: Not on Amazon, but Kobobooks have it for just $1.45.

Tangled Lives – Hilary Boyd

What to Expect:

Annie Delancey is happily married, in her early 50s, with three grown children. But Annie guards a dark secret. At age 18 she had a baby boy, and gave him up for adoption. She still thinks of him every day. Then, out of the blue, she receives an official-looking letter from Kent Social Services. Her son, Daniel, wants to make contact. On one hand she is overjoyed – she longs to meet him. On the other, she has never told her children that they have another sibling. Tangled Lives follows the effect this revelation has on her family, as, with Daniel as the catalyst, a few small tears in the family fabric suddenly gape wide.

It’s hard to categorise this one, as it’s not of a frothy subject matter, and yet it’s relatively short and readable with plenty of drama. The leading lady is a little like the one in Thursdays In the Park (same author, previously reviewed), possibly with more assertiveness.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor- Our heroine here is not to be trifled with; she’s a mature woman who knows her mind. Annie owns a very successful high-end cake business and occasionally whips one up herself to keep her hand in. If anything her capability and confidence is what gets her in trouble- for she is convinced Daniel can slot right in with her existing family. When it blows up in her face she has a few wobbles but handles it better than a less experienced woman might have done.

Kooks for your Kindle?- Annie’s support system consists of her GBF Jamie and her old friend Marjory. She and Jamie are solid, they’ve been friends since childhood and he knows where all the bodies are buried, so to speak. Marjory is retired and frail but still as supportive as when she housed Annie and other pregnant teens way back when that was something to hide. These days you might think they’d have their own reality series along the lines of ‘Sixteen and Pregnant’, but Annie’s mother Eleanor would be the last person to sanction such a thing. Eleanor is- let’s face it- a raging snob; she even ran a finishing school, and she’s always had a strained relationship with Annie. Ironically if she’d known all along who the teen baby-Daddy was, she’d have been far less keen to sweep it all beneath the carpet. Charles was Annie’s teen fling, successful, from an approved family, he’s a little different now than he was back in their school days, and a welcome contrast to her husband.

Then at home Annie has husband Richard, who has always known about the baby she gave away before he came along and had never been bothered about it- until now. Their kids are in their twenties and had never known about their older half-brother, this news goes down with very mixed results. The youngest, Lucy, welcomes him with open arms and pushes Annie into bringing him into their home too soon. Marsha is more balanced, but Ed takes it very badly. Ed sees his new big brother as the successful son his father had always lacked. He’s already insecure with a beautiful drama-queen of a girlfriend that he doesn’t really trust, so things are ripe for an explosion.

Evaluation of your eBook?- It’s a grownup tale with an older heroine, but works for all ages I believe. The younger generation is represented by Annie’s various kids, who have to deal with a very nasty situation after a party, no spoilers, lets just say it was tricky! The plot moves along nicely and the ending isn’t tied up too neatly, which felt right considering all that had happened. Recommended for some good family drama with a satisfying resolution.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for £1.09

US: Amazon only in paperback. Kobobooks ebook for $4.99.