Behold 1Title: Behold the Dreamers

Author: Imbolo Mbue

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Random House/Harper Collins

The Blurb

In the vein of Amy Tan and Khaled Hosseini comes a compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy.

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

The Review

To say that Behold the Dreamers is not the usual type of fiction that I read would be an understatement. I usually read books to harbour a level of escapism. It is rare that I choose to read a book with such gritty realism but that is exactly what I got from Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel.

The story follows Jende and Neni, immigrants from Cameroon who are awaiting their legal papers and green card. They have come to New York, eyes full of glitter and heads full of the American dream. However, they soon realise that life in America is not that easy.

What was truly wonderful about Behold the Dreamers was the juxtaposition of African and American values alongside the beliefs and reality about each existence. Jende and Neni believe that life in America is full of hope and that they will live the best life there, whereas the American contingent knows the flaws of these views. We see as the story develops that the people who seem to have everything have not much at all and those with little seem to haveBehold 2 the world.

Behold the Dreamers is a really interesting, well written and compelling novel the likes of which I can honestly say I have never read before. It was an ambitious debut by Imbolo Mbue and one that she has executed with finesse.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue is available now.

For more information regarding Imbolo Mbue please visit www.imbolombue.com.

For more information regarding Random House (@randomhouse) please visit www.randomhousebooks.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollins) please visit www.harpercollins.com.

4 Stars

A Merry Mistletoe ChristmasThe Blurb

It is almost a year since Sean and Thea met and it’s been a roller-coaster ride: they’re getting married on Christmas Day!

Neither Thea or Sean want a big fuss – a simple wedding, with Christmas lights and just a few sprigs of mistletoe for decoration is all they need. But before they know it, things begin to get complicated. Trying to manage a long-distance relationship in the build-up to their Christmas wedding is one thing, but as one challenge after another comes their way, the happy couple begin to wonder if they’ll ever make it down the aisle…

With unforgettable characters, charming romance and lots of laughter, A Merry Mistletoe Wedding

Is a gorgeous Christmas read – perfect for fans of Carole Matthews, Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Milly Johnson.

The Review

Aww. This is how I feel after reading A Merry Mistletoe Wedding. Judy Astley’s latest Christmas book has you revisiting past fictional friends as they embark on their nuptials.

We originally met Thea and Sean in It Must have Been the Mistletoe; in a slight comedy of errors, each thought the other one was gay and spent the short time together trying to suss each other out. One year later, all confusion forgotten and the pair are getting married. They plan to have a beach wedding on Christmas day – a slight oxymoron of sorts but who are we to argue with the bride.

However, things are not going according to plan; with stubborn family members, creepy exes and a lack of wedding dress things start to fall drastically apart. Can Thea and Sean hold it all together and make it down the aisle?

It really was a joy to find out what happened to the characters that I fell in love with a year ago. Astley has kept the things we love about the characters and followed through on the things we learned in the previous book. Thea is still a bit insecure having lost her baby and fiancé in the space of a few days – although she is happy she can’t help waiting for disaster to strike. Her fallibility is what makes her likeable. As readers, it is this that we relate to.

Astley has written the family dynamics to perfection. The wappy parents and three very unique siblings create quite the entertaining scenarios. As with It must Have Been the Mistletoe, A Merry Mistletoe Wedding makes you feel like you have been invited into the family home on Christmas day.

I would have liked to have seen more scenes of Sean and Thea together but maybe this could be done in a short story prequel to this novel.

A Merry Mistletoe Wedding is such a lovely winter read. Make sure you all get yourselves a copy.

A Merry Mistletoe Wedding by Judy Astley is available now.

Follow Judy Astley (@Judyastley) via Twitter.

The Blurb

*Winner of the 2014 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Business Book*

In the space of ten years, Sophia Amoruso has gone from high-school dropout to founder and Executive Chairman of Nasty Gal, one of the fastest-growing retailers in the world.

Sophia’s never been a typical executive, or a typical anything, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for other girls like her: outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success.

Filled with brazen wake-up calls, cunning and frank observations, and behind-the-scenes stories from Nasty Gal’s meteoric rise, #GIRLBOSS covers a lot of ground. It proves that success doesn’t come from where you went to college or how popular you were in school. Success is about trusting your instincts and following your gut, knowing which rules to follow and which to break.

Inspiring, motivating and empowering, #GIRLBOSS will give you the kick up the ass you need to reach your potential.

The Review

Sophia Amaruso is (among a plethora of other titles) the founder of Nasty Gal Vintage; a multimillion dollar company that started out as a little boutique on eBay. In #GIRLBOSS, Amoruso reveals how she managed her meteoric rise in the business world.

If you are looking for a paint-by-numbers, step-by-step guide to business success then you are looking in the wrong place. If, however, you are looking to read in inspirational story of hard work and reaping the benefits of that labour then maybe, just maybe, #GIRLBOSS is the book for you.

Following her natural instincts, Amoruso took her love of vintage fashion and took it right to the bank but she didn’t do this with a business degree or knowledge of the fashion world. No, Amoruso did it by following what she felt was right and with a (some would say) foolhardy determination. Along the way she learnt the ropes, knew what would sell, how to sell it, putting the customer first and also the power of social media Amoruso’s natural business acumen oozes off each and every page. You don’t think it is a coincidence that the title has a hash tag in it, do you?

One thing is for sure is that Sophia Amoruso is an inspiration. I hadn’t even finished it and I started believing that I could reach my goals and that I hadn’t fully realised my potential yet. Amoruso may not have set out to become the poster child for success but she has garnered that role through her perseverance and uncanny ability to understand the fashion market.

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso is available now.

*Many thanks to Annie Hollands from @penguinrandomhouse for sending me a copy of #GIRLBOSS to review.

The Blurb

In Christian’s own words, and through his thoughts, reflections, and dreams, E L James offers a fresh perspective on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the world.

CHRISTIAN GREY exercises control in all things; his world is neat, disciplined, and utterly empty – until the day that Anastasia Steele falls into his office, in a tangle of shapely limbs and tumbling brown hair. He tries to forget her, but instead is swept up in a storm of emotion he cannot comprehend and cannot resist. Unlike any woman he has known before, shy, unworldly Ana seems to see right through him – past the business prodigy and the penthouse lifestyle to Christian’s cold, wounded heart.

Will being with Ana dispel the horrors of his childhood that haunt Christian every night? Or will his dark sexual desires, his compulsion to control, and the self-loathing that fills his soul drive this girl away and destroy the fragile hope she offers him?

The Review

Grey, the latest instalment in the Fifty Shades series, is told from male protagonist Christian Grey’s perspective. This information is probably redundant because the excitement that came with the build up to this book’s release was massive. To be fair, EL James gave her readers what they wanted; a glimpse into the life and psyche of Christian Grey. Again, to be fair, James does this extremely well.

I know Fifty Shades got a bit of a bad reputation due to its poor writing and repetitiveness so let’s get that out of the way first. Ana bit her lip 32 times in Grey. This works out, on average – at once every 18 pages. “Laters, baby” was only said 4 times. This was not as bad as I was expecting. Fortunately, EL James’s Grey is actually written a lot better than her previous books. Kudos to the editor.

For fans, the bad bits of the series of books could be forgiven because ultimately the storyline was damn compelling; the character of Christian was so ridiculously devoted and obsessed with Ana that you couldn’t help but want to read on. I know plot and good writing should go hand in hand but even though the first three Fifty Shades books didn’t give you both, Grey most definitely has.

It also manages to not feel like ‘mummy porn’ and almost justifies the money that EL James has earned from the release of these books.

However, I do not like that EL James felt the need to justify Christian’s proclivities. Why can’t he just like kinky sex? There doesn’t have to be a seedy reason why, or a history of abuse, to make his sexual preferences understandable. EL James goes a good way into showing Christian’s thoughts on his past, something the reader had yet to be privy to.

As a business woman, EL James has already set herself up the chance to write two more books. It makes you wish you had the idea first.

Grey by EL James is available now.