The Blurb

Friendship is like a shark: it has to keep moving forwards to survive.

Esther and Laura have been best friends since they were seven, when Esther was chubby and Laura was already perfect. So much has changed since then – school, boyfriends, drink, experimental hair-dye, university, jobs, London, babies – and their friendship has changed just as much, but they are still close, still inextricably linked to one another.

So when Esther is told that Laura has gone missing, she leaves everything behind – including her husband and small child – to fly to San Francisco and trace her friend’s last movements. All she has is an email from Laura: ‘I’m channelling Drew Barrymore, as ever. The Gospel, right?’ In trying to understand why Laura has disappeared, and what on earth Drew Barrymore has to do with it, Esther needs to look back. Back at the secrets woven into their friendship and the truths she’s avoided facing for so long.

The Review

It was the title of this book that drew (geddit) me towards it. I will admit, I didn’t read the blurb or want to read it because of who the author is; admittedly, I have never read a book by Pippa Wright before. This will now change.

The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore is a fantastic coming of age story about the lifelong friendship of Esther and Laura. Wright, ever so succinctly, manages to peel the layers of friendship away to reveal the disarming complexities of friendship. One that, quite frankly, was all too relevant to me.

As much as Esther and Laura seem to need and rely on each other they also feed off their independence when away from each other. They don’t hate each other but there is a weird sense of satisfaction when the other person’s life isn’t going according to plan. I think all friendships have and need this diversity.

In Laura, Wright has created a weirdly dislikeable character. Her flaws are highlighted and she comes across as false, using Esther when it suits her; lovely to her when they are alone but using her as a crutch to further herself in front of others. Esther comes across as passive aggressive – clinging to her friendship with Laura when, in reality, they should have outgrown each other years earlier. However, I am a firm believer that soul mates come in the shape of friends and not lovers and that is why their lives are so inextricably linked and that their friendship has endured not only time but distance.

It is refreshing to read a book about the complexities of female friendship and Pippa Wright has done this topic a fantastic service. Read this book!

The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore by Pippa Wright will be available for purchase from March 26th 2015.

Follow Pippa Wright (@TroisVerres) on Twitter.

The Gospel of Drew Barrymore

The Blurb

It’s New Year’s Eve, and Gemma and Spencer Bailey are throwing a house party. There’s music, dancing, champagne and all their best friends under one roof. It’s going to be a night to remember.

Also at the party is Caitlin, who has returned to the village to pack up her much-missed mum’s house and to figure out what to do with her life; and Saffron, a PR executive who’s keeping a secret which no amount of spin can change. The three women bond over Gemma’s dodgy cocktails and fortune cookies, and vow to make this year their best one yet.

Bust as the following months unfold, Gemma, Saffron and Caitlin find themselves tested to their limits by shocking new developments. Family, love, work, home – all the things they’ve taken for granted – are thrown into disarray. Under pressure, they are each forced to rethink their lives and start over. But dare they take a chance on something new?

The Review

Firstly, let me just say a massive thank you to Becky Plunkett at Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of The Year of Taking Chances to review.

Straight away let me say that I loved this book. There are plenty of reasons for me to gush over it: the compelling story, the likable characters, the easy comfortable narrative to name but a few but firstly I would like to say that having never read a book by Lucy Diamond before (I know, I hang my head in shame) I was unaware of what I was going to get. I am not one for overly gooey emotional storylines – don’t get me wrong I like a book to hit me between the eyes (and hopefully make me shed a tear) but I like a story to have backbone. And that is exactly what I got with The Year of Taking Chances.

My favourite thing about the novel has to be the friendship element. I loved how these three feisty women – Gemma, Caitlin and Saffron – formed a friendship and bond so quickly and how their lives became so interwoven. You often read in chick-lit (a term I hate to use because it has such negative connotations) of women who are helpless or in need of rescuing and yes at times those labels often apply to the three protagonists, however, it is their friendship that helps them stay on an even keel. They balance each other rather than falling back on their husbands or boyfriends.

Essentially, the novel is about these three women finding themselves and how change can be scary but with the right people surrounding you that you can make some positive changes in your life no matter how adverse and dire the situation may seem.

And with that in mind I shall no longer shy away from authors whom I have never tried before….and I might just try and consume Lucy Diamond’s back catalogue of work.

The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond is available now.

You can follow Lucy Diamond (@LDiamondAuthor) on Twitter, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/LucyDiamondAuthor) and check for regular updates on www.lucydiamond.co.uk.

The Year of Taking Chances

Synopsis

Fed up with his life surrounded by abusive women (his sisters) Martin Moone makes the mature decision (well mature for an eleven year old) to get himself and imaginary friend. Cue hysterical tales of misbegotten adventure and wacky circumstances.

Review

The much celebrated Moone Boy: The Blunder Years has been released in book format and it is jolly good fun. It is very much a similar ilk to the Tom Gates books or the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series but actually much better. The comedy is much more fun and at times taboo for the age group – think innocent conversations about pimping your elder sisters boobs out for protection from schoolyard bullies and you will see where I am coming from.

Moone Boy: The Blunder Years, along with its fabulous illustrations, is the perfect book for your younger brother, or cousin or next door neighbour or random kid in need of some giggles. Basically you should just buy this book as a stocking filler for a loved one and then proceed to ignore everyone come Christmas day whilst you sit reading it instead.

Moone Boy: The Blunder Years by Chris O’Dowd and Nick Vincent Murphy is available now.

Moone Boy

Synopsis

An airborne flu virus has been unleashed in Canada. People who contract the illness are dead within 48 hours. People all across Canada and America have been told to flee. No other advice has been given. Flee. Save yourselves.

Fast forward twenty years. Survivors of the modern day plague are still trying to make sense of the virus that has killed loved ones, severely depleted the population and forcefully created pocketed communities across the land. Some of these communities are peaceful. Some are not.

In a time of much confusion, who do you trust?

Review

Firstly, let me say that Station Eleven is not the type of book I would normally be compelled to read and admittedly I was drawn to the pretty cover. I was thankful when I was an approved reviewer for this book on NetGalley and even more grateful now that I have had the chance to read it.

It is phenomenal. That is a pretty big statement to make but let me tell you my reasons.

This book terrified me. My heart was set racing at several points due to the sheer fear that it instilled inside of me. It made me question things. Like, what if an epidemic like this actually happened? Would I have the strength to survive? To hunt? To kill? Would I fall apart and just wait for death? And rather materialistically – would I be able to survive in a world without all the luxuries that I have become accustomed to? Ah, le problemes du premiere monde!

What was fascinating about Station Eleven is that Emily St John Mandel has managed to create a dystopian future from describing how life used to be. The non-linear tale added to the anguish and the confusion of the situation. What was also very clever about the story was how the lives of the survivors linked without seeming contrived or too neat. I think this was helped by the cast of characters that came and went so seamlessly in the initial post epidemic scenes.

If you like dystopian fiction then this definitely needs to be added to your TBR pile and if it doesn’t sound like your kind of thing then I would still recommend that you give it a go. Station Eleven certainly gripped my attention.

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel is available now.

You can follow Emily St John Mandel on Twitter @EmilyMandel

StationelevenUKHC

Synopsis

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.

Review

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.

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