Marie Dunwoody doesn’t feel like she has it all together. Sure, she is married to a wonderful husband; she has three lovely children and yes, a career to be proud of. Yet something a simple as a school fete has thrown her life off kilter.

Having failed to bring a showstopper cake to the school Marie feels terrible. This feeling is heightened when her shop bought French fancies are placed next to her perfect neighbour Lucy’s gorgeous and impressive cake.

At the self same fete Marie stumbles upon a second hand copy of a Mary Berry cake book and decides that she won’t go through the same shame next year. She will provide the showstopper. She will make a cake that Mary Berry will be proud of.


This is possibly going to sound snobbish but I tend to avoid books like What Would Mary Berry Do? No, not because it is chick-lit but because of the familial set up. I often find that I can’t relate to a protagonist who is a wife, a mum, a business woman because I, myself am none of those things. However, I was drawn in by my love of cake and the front cover looked delicious enough to lick*

I am awfully glad that did read What Would Mary Berry Do? because it is such a light and fluffy book that, at times, does deal with contentious everyday issues which at some point all of us either can or will relate to – redundancy, fear of losing business, adultery, first love and divorce to name a few. Upon analysis, you can see this book is as complex as the recipe and method for making a croquembouche.

What I did love about this book is the utter abundance of love. Even though Marie felt her family wasn’t the perfectly presented family you couldn’t argue that this family cared for one another. It is not unusual in chick-lit to find marital disharmony but the relationship between Marie and Robert is one to be treasured and indeed, one to strive to replicate.

It is also a book about learning. No, not just how to make impressive baked goods but about learning to see people in a different way; this is most evident in Marie’s relationship with Lucy. Both are bogged down with misunderstanding and, to be honest, a little bit of mutual jealousy. It is lovely to see how quickly a friendship can develop in unlikely circumstances.

Claire Sandy has made a wonderful cast of character come to life in this book. She has also given me the confidence to try and bake a cake. Now I just have ask myself, what would Mary Berry do?

* I didn’t lick the cover, tempting though it was, I just purged on cupcakes whilst I read it.

What Would Mary Berry Do? by Claire Sandy is available now.


I’m a book whore. It’s ok I can admit it. I flit from book to book, genre to genre heck even author to author on a daily basis. I buy books like junkies buy crack cocaine. But it stops now. Here is the line.

You see, I have a Kindle. A wonderful gift that I received from my even more wonderful mother a few years ago; I have so many books on said kindle that I probably won’t be able to read them in a life time.

So, today I made myself a deal. I chose 100 books from my kindle. 100 books which will be interspersed with my review books and NetGalley downloads to be read.  Won’t buy another Kindle book until then…well that is what I told myself. However, I am a realist (I’m also a romantic but that is another story), I know I won’t be able to stick to that promise. So my new promise is that unless the book has had a substantial decrease in price I will not buy it. Seems fair I think.

Then by the time I have finished the chosen 100 books I will be able to add them to the next list.

I present you, my lovely readership, with my 100 books. Please feel free to let me know your opinions on the books from the list that you have read.

L x

My 100 Book Challenge

Absolute Beginners – Colin MacInnes

A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness

A Game of Thrones: The Full Series – George R R Martin

Amy and Matthew – Cammie McGovern

Amy and Zach – Sarah Louise Smith

An Abundance of Kathrines – John Green

Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins

A Part of Me – Anouska Knight

The Best Thing I Never Had – Erin Lawless

The Best Thing That Never Happened to Me – Laura Tait

Beyond Grace’s Rainbow – Carmel Harrington

Boy Meets Boy – David Levithan *

Burnouts, Geeks and Jesus Freaks: A Love Story– Karen Gordon

Butter – Erin Lange

Butterflies in November – Auour Ava Olafsdottir

Confessions of a City Girl – Juliette Sobanet

Dark Aemilia – Sally O’Reilly

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares – David Levithan

The Dead Wife’s Handbook – Hannah Beckerman

Dear Lizzie – Annie Lyons

Desperately Ever After – Laura Kenyon

The Distance Between Us – Kasie West

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

The Dress Thief – Nat Meg Evans

Eat My Heart Out – Zoe Pilger

Eeny Meeny (Dci Helen Grace 1) – MJ Arlidge

Every Day – David Levithan

Every You, Every Me – David Levithan *

Fan – Danny Rhodes

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

The First Time We Met – Pippa Croft

Flat Out Celeste – Jessica Park

From Notting Hill to New York…Actually – Ali McNamara

Ghostwritten – Isabel Wolff

Goose – Dawn O’Porter *

Half Bad – Sally Green

Hollywood Shaped My Hair – James King **

How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran

How to Get a (Love) Life – Rosie Blake *

How We Met – Katy Regan

The Humans – Matt Haig

I Am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes

If I Could Turn Back Time – Nichola Doherty

If I Stay – Gayle Forman *

I Love the 80s – Megan Crane

Just A Girl, Standing in Front of a Boy – Lucy Anne Holmes

Just One Night – Gayle Forman

Just One Year – Gayle Forman

Landline – Rainbow Rowell

Last Bus to Coffeeville – J Paul Henderson

Lessons in French – Hilary Reyl

The Library of Unrequited Love – Sophie Divry

The Life You Left – Carmel Harrington

Lola and the Boy Next Door – Stephanie Perkins

Love Letters to the Dead – Ava Dellaira *

Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life – Nina Stibbe

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 – Francine Prose

Mary Poppins – The Complete Collection – PL Travers

Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugnides

The Middlesteins – Jami Attenberg

The Miseducation of Cameron Post – Emily M Damforth

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

My Name is Rapunzel – KC Hilton

The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris – Evie Gaughan **

Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List – Rachel Cohn and David Levithan *

Necrophilia Variation – Supervert

No Place Like Oz: A Dorothy Must Die – Danielle Paige

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

The One Before the One – Katy Regan

One Hundred Proposals – Holly Martin

One Night in Italy – Lucy Diamond

One Night in Paris – Juliette Sobanet

The One Plus One – Jojo Moyes

On Writing – Stephen King

Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerman

The Perfume Collector – Kathleen Tessaro

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek – May Van Wagenen *

Random Acts of Kindness – Danny Wallace *

Rooftoppers – Katherine Rundell

Seating Arrangements – Maggie Shipstead

The Secrets We Left Behind – Susan Elliot Wright

Severed Heads, Broken Hearts – Robyn Schneider

Shotgun Lovesongs – Nickolas Butler *

Something Like Summer – Jay Bell

Sorta Like a Rockstar – Matthew Quick

The Story of Us – Ellen Faith

The Story of You – Katy Regan

The Summer Without You – Karen Swan

Tape – Steven Camden

The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me – Lucy Robinson

The Universe Versus Alex Woods – Gavin Extence

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

We Were Liars – E Lockhart *

What A Girl Wants – Lindsey Kelk

Where She Went – Gayle Forman *

Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found – Cheryl Strayed

Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green

Written in the Stars – Ali Harris

Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Pop – Bob Stanley

Zenith Hotel – Oscar Coop Phane

It is not often, indeed I don’t think that it has ever happened, that a book has me choking back the tears and forcibly swallowing the lump that has formed in my throat back down. But then The Opposite of Loneliness is no ordinary book.

In its complete form the book is called The Opposite of Loneliness Essays and Stories. However, the author, Marina Keegan, cannot be held responsible for the onset of my emotional spiral. Marina Keegan is dead. The introduction was provided by her college professor at Yale from where Keegan graduated in 2012. Five days after she graduated she was killed in a car accident.

Entering this book I tried not to let the emotional impact of the writer’s death colour my opinion of the stories. It is too easy to do; glorify the poor girl who didn’t live to see her novel published. Fortunately, the beauty, truth and outstanding quality of Keegan’s writing meant that I wouldn’t have to worry about that; a fact that makes Keegan’s death all the more poignant.

The collection of short stories is simply breathtaking. The fact that someone so young, who hadn’t really lived, managed to find such an individual voice is beyond impressive. The stories are entertaining, sharp and beautifully written.

Keegan’s collection of essays covers a wide range of topics from the beaching of whales to the uncertainty of adulthood. Equally as impressive as her short stories her essays are filled with passion and fire, her words jump off the page and hit you with the sheer honesty of them. In the titular essay, The Opposite of Loneliness, the final essay that Keegan had produced for Yale Daily News, she told her fellow classmates that they were “so young”. She repeated the sentiment, trying to make her classmates realise that they had time to make or do things that they were passionate about. In her short time on this plain Keegan managed to leave her mark.

This book blew me away and I am genuinely saddened that the world of literature lost a promising writer before she truly had chance to shine.

The Opposite of Loneliness Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan is available now.


Last week’s attempt to read seven books was slightly ambitious. Don’t get me wrong I gave it a darn good punt but social engagements (don’t I sound fancy) and hospital appointments meant that I didn’t get through them all. Boo hiss.

Never mind. I did get through the following whilst taking part in @Emmaiswriting’s #sunathon event:

What Happens to All the Men when they Move to Manhattan? by Jill Knapp @JL_Knapp

Before You by Amber Hart @AmberHartBooks

Since You’ve Been Gone by Anouska Knight @AnouskaKnight

I was fortunate to be sent The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. Elizabeth Preston, a press officer at Simon & Schuster was lovely enough to send me a review copy. I am extremely grateful because this book had sat patiently on my Amazon wish list waiting to be bought. After I finished Since You’ve Been Gone I picked it straight up. So far I really loving it and a review will be posted later this week.

As for the books that I didn’t quite manage to get through, they will be carried over onto this week. Hopefully I will get through them. This will also include a new NetGalley download, Barefoot in Babylon. I’m hoping to have the review for this book posted on More Than The Music’s site. It is a music website that I write for so it seems fitting that a book about the most famous music festival should be posted on there too.

I had a few books sent to me this week (I also did cheekily order myself a few).

I bought Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. I was accepted to review The Book of Life on NetGalley. I requested it before I realised it was the third in the trilogy. I had the first book on my kindle so I figure I will do a future post on the trilogy as a whole. Keep your eyes peeled for that one.

I also bought The Virgins by Pamela Erens which I am excited to read. Along with My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me by Hilary Winston; based on the blurb both of these books sound awesome. Finally, I treated myself to a second hand copy of Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews. I have heard such mixed reviews about this book so I am going to give it a go and make up my own mind.

Finally, this week I wrote a review about a book that I didn’t quite like. No, that is wrong. I thought the book had a lot of potential but to me it just did not seem ready for publication which is a shame because it had a lot of promise. However, I felt bad about posting the review. Do any of my reviewer friends ever feel that? In my opinion I wasn’t mean about the book. I said what I didn’t like about it and the reasons why but not in a nasty or hurtful way. However, this guilty feeling was increased when the writer tweeted me apologising that I didn’t like the book. I felt so bad. The thing is that a lot of other people seemed to like it. She got a lot of positive feedback but I just couldn’t look past what I felt were glaring mistakes and inconsistencies. How do you handle a situation like that? I would love to know.

Anywho, another week – another TBR pile. Hope you all have a great book week. If you are in the country this week why not participate in the #staycation event which takes place from 28th July to August 3rd. For more information on this event then go to or alternatively tweet Sharon @Shazsbookblog.



Holly Jefferson is a lonely woman. Her life consists of spending time with her dog, working in her cake shop and being the charity case of her older sister Martha who worries that Holly spends too much time alone.

The reason Holly is lonely is because she is a widow. Her husband Charlie died nearly two years earlier and in that time Holly has managed to alienate nearly everyone in her life. She has a routine of eat-sleep-work and it is the only thing that is getting her through the hard and lonesome days and nights.

However, after a chance cake delivery Holly meets someone who shakes up her world. Holly, begrudgingly and tentatively allows Ciaran Argyll into her world and it is through his tenacity and determination that Holly comes back to life.

But will the memory of her dead husband stop her pursuing happiness?


Chick-lit often gets a bad name. Mainly from those who would consider themselves serious writers and in turn those who consider themselves serious readers. It is assumed that if a book has a light and fluffy cover or if it has a happy ending then it can’t at all deal with serious issues or be in anyway important literature. Those who think that are both prejudiced and wrong. Chick-lit is wonderful. There, I’ve said it and I stick by it.

Since You’ve Been Gone is the debut novel from Anouska Knight, an author she was brought to light by winning a talent competition featured on ITV’s Lorraine and Since You’ve Been Gone is a wonderful example of good chick-lit. It has everything you could want – a strong yet bruised by life heroine; a dashing yet misunderstood hero and a colourful supporting cast of characters to boot.

The comfort that comes with this book is that you know that the guy is going to get the girl. Yes, along the way there are going to be wacky misunderstanding and misconceptions between the two and yes there will be a few moments when you will yell “kiss him, you fool” at the book but that is what makes chick-lit the perfect read.

Knight has managed this beautifully. She makes you fall in love with Cairan along with Holly. When Holly feels guilty that she is betraying the memory of Charlie, her dead husband, you too feel her guilt and shame. Equal to all of that you desperately will Holly and Cairan to be together with all your might.

The good thing about chick-lit is that the majority of the time there is a wonderful happy ending. Anouska Knight will not disappoint her fans.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Anouska Knight is available in the UK. It will be available in America from July 29th 2014.

since you've been gone













Cover 2











Follow Anouska on Twitter – @AnouskaKnight