Becca Stone is stuck in a rut. She is approaching thirty, single and in a mind numbingly boring job. So when the chance for a promotion comes up she grabs the opportunity with both hands.

Suddenly her life starts to fall into place, she meets the man of her dreams and her new job role as PA to a difficult celebrity chef is challenging her in ways she didn’t think possible. Is it all too good to be true?

As quickly as things fall into place Becca’s life begins to fall apart. Will she manage to be the same old Becca when everything in her life is changing so suddenly?

I am a big fan of chick-lit. I went through a phase of not being able to read it because I found some of the storylines tired and clichéd. So for a while I simply stopped. I changed genre and after a few months I was back on track with good old comfortable reliable chick lit.

Comfortable and reliable. Those are the two words that I would use to describe Yes, Chef! It is not that the book isn’t good. It has some really entertaining parts. However, it was the comfort of knowing exactly what was going to happen that got me through the narrative. The reliable tale of a girl who will eventually get the guy even though she won’t realise that he is the one even though he has been there in front of her face this whole time is one as old as time. It was just a tad clichéd.

I personally just felt that at times it came across a little disjointed. The storyline had potential but it didn’t flow seamlessly. It jumped from different time periods using quick recaps to fill in the missing time which, for me, read awkwardly. Also, the narrative voice seemed to be unsure; at times the novel read like it was trying to replicate a voice from Bridget Jones and then at other times it dropped this tone altogether. It left me befuddled.

The latter half of Yes, Chef! was better than the beginning part. To begin with I did find Becca Stone difficult to like. She was self-involved and whiny. In this sense, you can see the development of the character because by the end of the novel I actually quite liked her but I didn’t want to keep reading to find out what happened next to Becca. I didn’t root for the characters as much as I have done with other books in this oeuvre.

The sad thing is that I genuinely do think that the book has potential to be better than it is. However, the book as a whole just wasn’t for me.

Yes, Chef! by Lisa Joy is available from the 14th July 2014

yes chef

Mason Street has turned up back home after a whirlwind five years touring with his eponymous band. The band have crashed and burned, as often such bands do, so Mason Street has returned to lick his wounds.

Having nabbed himself a place to stay with his old mentor Ray, Mason has to face how much things have changed since he has been gone; starting with Ray’s daughter, Avery. Having never really paid much attention to her whilst they were growing up Mason is shocked and quite frankly a little turned on by the woman she has become.

As Mason sets about trying to win Avery’s affections he is quickly awakened to how difficult her life actually is.

Avery is a hero – she tends bar, she looks after her dad, she goes to college and she looks after her 5 year old autistic son, Max.

Avery and Max come as a package. The question is, is Mason man enough to take them both on?

Oh Ginger Scott, what have you done to me?

I recently finished Ginger Scott’s novel How We Deal With Gravity and oh man, I have a book hangover along with a new fictional crush.

Firstly, let’s talk about Mason Street. It is hard not to fall for him; he has charm, charisma and the picture that has been painted in my head means that he is pretty damn attractive too. You cannot help but root for him and hope that he gets the girl because essentially How We Deal With Gravity is a love story. The love spreads further than just between a man and a woman. The love Avery has for her son, Max, bounces off the page. It is about love that happens quickly and suddenly alongside a deep rooted love that has lasted almost a lifetime. So, yeah, it is pretty difficult not to feel the warm and fuzzies when you read it.

The broader issue in the book is that of Autism. Scott tackles the issue head on revealing the low points and the highlights of living with a child with Autism. She isn’t patronising nor is she excessive in her points but she does make you aware of some of the key features of the condition; the routine, the intelligence, the hardships. She really advocates the people who are living with the condition along with those who are living with a person diagnosed with the condition.

How We Deal With Gravity is a great book. I would implore those who like romantic fiction to read it. However, it is an even greater book if you want to get an insight into Autism and those who struggle on a daily basis with the condition.

How We Deal With Gravity by Ginger Scott is available now.

how-we-deal-with-gravity-by-ginger-scott

Miss Prudencia Prim is new to the village; a isolated village in the outskirts of France. She has taken the position of librarian and quick sets about organising the gentleman’s library which is filled with dusty tomes of years gone by. However, Miss Prim quickly realises that not all that goes on in this village is what it seems.

The story focuses on Prudencia Prim and how she adjusts to the people and their (often strange) customs. Miss Prim is always proper and conscientious about the things she says or does. She is fiercely independent and firm in her beliefs and initially finds it hard to adapt or change for anyone or anything; nonetheless, she does find herself warming to the quirks and foibles of the residents in town – even when they make it their town mission to find her a husband.

For me, The Awakening of Miss Prim has echoes of literatures past embedded in the story. I couldn’t help but find that the people of the village came across a bit Stepford Wives, almost like the rules had been changed and the people who live their conditioned to act a certain way. The banter between Prudencia and the man in the wingchair reminded me of Elizabeth and Darcy – quick, cutting and chock full of wit.

However, it was an extremely curious read. The narrative paralleled Miss Prim’s attitude and countenance but what it also did was keep you at arms length. You are watching the story unfold but never fully immerse yourself in it. I think this is supported by the fact that you never learn the male leads name. Everything seems to be kept at a distance. Whether or not that was to replicate some of Miss Prim’s personality is up for interpretation.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was different from what I was expecting and entertaining in its strangeness.

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera is available now.

The awakening of Miss Prim

A trio of women all living in different periods of the 20th century are all held together by a genetic link. One that will see them pass in and out of each other’s lives over the course of sixty years.

Our first heroine, Jessie is living in France. After being abandoned by her husband she begins to rely on kindness of strangers to get by; transforming herself from Jessie to Perdita – muse, socialite and lover of a famous artist.

Next comes Baba McCleod aka Lisa La Touche, a Hollywood starlet, maker of her own destiny and big dreamer. Her success comes during the pre-World War II period but after she has been left in a delicate way from an affair with a married actor Lisa has some big decisions to make. Can she leave the glitz and glamour of Tinsletown behind?

And finally there is Cat. She is the most strong willed and independent of the three; a photographer who throws herself into the most dangerous situations. Her adventures happen amidst a backdrop of sixties decadence along with the darker side of the decade – focussing on the political unrest of a period of history that saw dramatic social and political upheaval.

Kate Beufoy’s stunning novel was based of letters that her grandmother had written just after the First World War. She was working in France and fell in love with painter. The letters, along with a dress from Liberty’s of London and other artefacts became the premise of this story.

This is a wonderful novel; the three generations of remarkable, strong willed, determined women that had to fight against societal constraints to stay afloat is one that we all should want to read. Beaufoy has managed to capture three very distinct voices and separate them into three different historical backdrops (that in my opinion acted as tertiary characters throughout the novel) and makes you empathise and fight for each one of them. It truly is a love story in both the conventional and non-conventional sense.

I loved this Liberty Silk. From the very first page I was transported into a different world. I was both titillated and impressed with how seamlessly Beaufoy mixed fact and fictionby introducing famous figures of the 20th century – such as Zelda Fitzgerald and The Beatles et al – into the story like they had a purpose in the narrative. However, I was more in awe of how much heart this story had. It was heartbreaking and heart warming in equal measure and I am genuinely sad that I have finished reading it.

Liberty Silk by Kate Beaufoy is available now.

liberty silk

Today, July 3rd 2014, saw the release of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. The story centres on Nella Oortman who has left the comforts of a country life that she knows and loves because she has married a successful merchant from Amsterdam. This union, arranged by her mother, is the complete antithesis of what Nella believes to be a good marriage. Her childhood dreams of marrying for love and doing everything that is expected of a good wife are quickly shattered when she enters the home of her husband, Johannes Brandt. She is quickly reminded of her place by her formidable sister-in-law, Marin and she can’t quite get the measure of Johannes who refuses to share their marital bed and only converses with Nella when he is forced to. The only sign of affection (and indeed acknowledgment of their nuptials) comes in the form of a dollhouse that Johannes has specially made as a wedding gift for Nella; one that replicates the Brandt household.

Things aren’t quite as they seem in the Brandt household and Nella finds herself trapped in a world whereby she doesn’t know anyone, she isn’t being supported by her husband or his sister. She has no control over anything. That is until all the secrets and lies begin to unfold.

Admittedly, it took me a while to get fully immersed into The Miniaturist. I could appreciate straight away how atmospheric the novel was and that there was a story itching to be told, I just found it a little slow to begin with. However, as the story begins to unravel it became very hard to put the book down. The parallels between Johannes and Marin’s story are captivating and complex and are held together through both of their burgeoning relationship with Nella, who swiftly becomes the glue to a family that is crumbling around her.

This multifaceted novel explores themes of betrayal, lust, race, sexuality and loyalty. It is hard to determine which of these themes takes precedent. However, the underlying paradox that it is all taking place in a macrocosmic allegory of a dollhouse. Burton manages to make you care about each of these issues. Much in the same way that she makes you care about these characters, even when you don’t necessarily agree with their actions.

Overall, The Miniaturist is one of those books that will stay with you once you have read it, however, for me personally it was a slow burner.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton is available now.

The Miniaturist cover