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.

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.

Take Me Home – Daniela Sacerdoti

What to Expect:

Inary Monteith’s life is at a crossroads. After a stolen night with her close friend Alex, she’s just broken his heart by telling him it was all a terrible mistake. Then she has to rush home from London to the Scottish Highlands when her little sister’s illness suddenly worsens – and in returning she must confront the painful memories she has been trying so hard to escape.
Back home, things become more complicated than she could ever have imagined. There’s her sister’s illness, her hostile brother, a smug ex she never wants to see again and her conflicted feelings about Alex in London and a handsome American she meets in Glen Avich. On top of that, she mysteriously loses her voice but regains a strange gift from her childhood – a sixth sense that runs in her family. And when a voice from the past keeps repeating, ‘Take me home’, she discovers a mystery that she knows she must unlock to set herself free.

This is our second review for Daniela, her last book Watch Over Me was lovely, and this one continues in a similar vein with some sadness and some ghostly elements. It’s also set in Glen Avich again and we bump into some old friends, but it’s not a sequel as such, the main characters are new. It’s engrossing and not very long so I devoured it in two evenings.

Kooks for your Kindle?– A really nice collection of supporting characters, family and friends. Lesley is her best mate, originally Caribbean, and the kind of supportive girl you want around when you lose the ability to speak for months and start seeing dead people. Inary’s brother Logan is the only one who knows about her sight, and is alarmed to hear of its return- but he has plenty of issues of his own, mostly stemming from his resentment of Inary for leaving him to take care of their sick little sister alone. Tyler is a friend of Logan, he’s American; while in town for a project he befriends Inary and becomes quite useful in her quest to solve the mystery.

Inary’s ex-fiance Lewis is the guy we all love to hate, smug enough to warrant a good take-down, even if Inary does have to scribble her cutting comments on a notepad for him to read! Finally the lovely Alex is left behind in London to try and accept that Inary doesn’t want him- can he move on and find happiness at last?

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Inary starts off in a bad place and it’s downhill from there. She’s living in London with good friends but a mediocre job, not pursuing her true passion of writing, and she’s avoiding her family problems back in Scotland. When her little sister takes a turn for the worse she has to return- and face the older brother that was left holding down the fort when Inary ran off with a broken heart three years before. This time she’s the one leaving a broken heart- her friend Alex in London, who finally thought they’d found happiness when she spent the night with him.

It takes Inary time to find her feet back home- not least because of her mysterious loss of voice and the return of her ghostly visions. But she finds the strength to face up to everything, even her own ghosts of (living) boyfriends past, and solve the mystery that the spirits present.

Painting a Picture for your Paperback?– It’s refreshing to return to the peace and fresh air of the small Scottish town on the loch, where the height of modernisation is the new coffee shop. It’s very atmospheric, the misty, spooky scenes on the lake are quite terrifying. The locals are back in force, which prove quite suffocating for the very private Inary, but that’s the nature of this small town, everyone knows your life history.

Evaluation of your eBook?– Couldn’t put it down. You can’t not fall for a tale of a wounded young woman facing further adversity and finding strength, but it’s so lovingly written too. Once again I’m amazed that such an eloquent, elegant story is written by the author in their second language, you’d never know. With all the sadness, heartbreak and tragic ghosts you’d think this would be a depressing tale and not remotely frothy, but instead it’s uplifting, romantic, fast-moving and quite positive. Don’t miss it.

Frothy Ranking: 5/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for 69p.

US: Not on Amazon, but only $1.70 on Kobobooks.

Goodness, Grace and Me- Julie Houston

What to expect:
When Harriet’s husband, Nick, throws in his safe, but boring job in order to set up a new business during the current recession, Harriet is distraught. More so when she realises Amanda, her and best friend Grace’s old enemy from school is back in their lives. Amanda, it turns out, is Nick’s new boss’s wife and, because of her legal and language skills, will be accompanying Nick on his business trips to Italy. How will Nick not succumb to the ruthless charms of the utterly gorgeous Amanda once he’s away from Yorkshire and in glamorous Milan? Knowing Nick is being seduced is bad enough, but when Grace falls madly in love with Sebastian, Amanda’s precious, much younger son, it can only mean trouble ahead. Determined to fight for her man, Harriet’s seduction techniques go into overdrive. Unfortunately she is hampered in her attempts by two bolshy teenagers, an increasingly eccentric mother and a job teaching horrible children. Not to mention something very strange going on at the bottom of her garden! Can Harriet save her marriage, and also her friendship with Grace? And what will happen if Nick’s new venture fails, especially now that the one thing Harriet has not even considered in all this mess appears to be staring her right in the face…?

It might just be me, but the title and the cover immediately made me think it was fiction of an upstanding Christian nature and nearly ran a mile, but don’t fear, it’s quite the opposite. Many thanks to the author for the review copy.

Kooks for your Kindle?– Harriet’s husband Nick is yummy enough to keep things happening in the bedroom even 15 years or so (and 3 kids) into their relationship, and he clearly cares for her more than she realises. The eponymous Grace is Harriet’s bestie from school days, partner in crime and still her closest mate. She’s undergoing her own crises which, by coincidence and the nature of a small town, become entangled with Harriet’s. ‘Goodness’ is the old school days nickname the girls had for Amanda Goodners, former head girl, current wife of Nick’s business partner and translator for Nick on his business trips to Italy, much to Harriet’s horror. Throw in the dramas of Harriet’s parents, sister, kids and job, it’s quite a busy tale.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– An awful lot goes wrong for Harriet in the course of this book and for the most part she handles it with a sense of humour, strength and some wine. Which beats whining. She’s never spent any significant amount of time living on her own, pre-family, and just wants a little room to call her own to sit down for a read, but never really gets the chance. I’m not sure I’d handle it all so well, but then control freaks like me don’t thrive as well on chaos.

Evaluation of your eBook?– I wasn’t sure in the first couple of chapters, but once it gets into its stride it’s quite a ride. Harriet is a resourceful heroine, keeping things together with no sleep, money, husband or hours in the day. The ending was not predictable, which I always appreciate, fortunately all is not as it initially seems -this goes for most of the problems faced by Harriet- and the surprises make for a good ending. It’s quite over the top in the sheer scale of the calamities than happen to everyone concerned, and really quite funny, but with some real heartache and serious family issues at stake too.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for £1.99

US: Amazon for $2.99.