27/12/2014

Book Review: The Dress Thief by Natalie Meg Evans



MY Synopsis
Imagine This: It’s 1930s, Germany is waging war over Spain and Paris is still the heart of haute couture on the globe. Think Chanel, Think Hermes. And think you, with dreams of establishing your own successful fashion brand.

You might not have the income, or a lover as in Coco Chanel’s case, but you sure do have talent. And you are looking for that one little break to shoot through the ranks of fashion’s elite. But dreams and talents do not put breakfast on the table of you and your fragile grandma, shitty jobs do.

Then suddenly, a task falls in your lap. Your boyfriend has managed to pull a gig that would grant you the opportunity to be all that you want. The task? Copy the whole spring-summer collection of a renowned fashion house. Every detail. Down to every thread. The result? So thousands of fakes could swamp the New York ready market for cheap counterfeit couture. The prize? A lot of money.

It’s all a very easy-task when you are plunged in the fashion house to act as mole.

But things wouldn’t be as easy as you assumed. Because you might find it difficult to gain the trust of this theatrical designer, you might be fighting off the advances of one model’s dangerous boyfriend, you might be having your thoughts constantly wrapped around an English Adonis reporter who promises a second date but disappears, you might face the threat of being arrested by the fashion police. And as though all the above isn’t scary enough, there’s a killer on your tail, threatening to make you disappear if his demands are not reached.

In a world of lies, deceit, hatred, love and haute couture Alix Gower must keep her head in the game or lose it––literally.

MY REVIEW

I loved, loved this book. So you know in my review I’d be yelling at you to go get it.

Girl wants to succeed in fashion, Girl is giving the most treacherous task, Girl needs to keep her mind focused on her family, a possible love life and her life if she wants to live long enough to be a name on every fashion enthusiast’s list. Amazing strory-line! Who really doesn’t want to read about 1930s popular culture teamed with some good, old vintage love story? A star to the story-line. ──

An enchanting heroine! Alix Gower might not be today’s it-girl, but she sure is a force for the Kardashian sisters to reckon with (except when you consider the bootay). You’d love her passion to survive in the cutthroat world of fashion, you’d love her sense to pick the style of clothes down to every detail metres away, you’d love her artistic talent to design something fresh, and her ability to predict future trends. Not to portray her as a die-hard, fashion girl––which she is, you’d be enthralled by her curiosity to tie-up the bits and pieces of her shattered past, and her intelligence. A star to the lead. ── ★★

A terrifyingly addictive plot! You wouldn’t want to put this book down. All through it, you’d be swishing from foot to foot to let go of this book so you could go spend the rest of the holiday festivities with your family. High levels of suspense and intrigue to get you flipping for more even though you’ve completed your reading limit for the day. ── ★★★

Marvellous supporting cast! There’s Verrian, the hot English reporter who would never call in time for a second date. There’s Monsieur Javier, the theatrical talented fashion designer. There’s Mémé, the secretive grandmother who worries Alix is quitting a shitty job for a shittier one with long hours and peanuts as salary just to chase her dream. There’s Bonnet, the artist friend who’s bad enough to keep a secret after a little pint. There’s Madame Rey, the nosy concierge who probes too much into Alix’ love life. There’s Serge Mantel, the persistent model’s boyfriend who has very strange tastes in bed.  Madame Kiplin, who reminds you of a pretentious socialite known to wear only counterfeits. Rosa, the landlady with witty sayings and quotes who deserves a twitter account. Loads of other characters that are amazingly developed. ── ★★★★

Humour ── ★★★★★

My rating: Obviously a five/five star book. And it’s not every debut you could label a five-star read so applause to Natalie Meg Evans.

Natalie Meg Evans' fabulous debut is available on amazon.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read about the hip, vintage world of the 1930s, anyone who wants a title laden with suspense and intrigue and anyone who wants a story with an engaging lead enough to keep you awake through 500 pages.


My work not done here. Off to post my review on goodreads.

Festive Book Review: It Must Have Been The Mistletoe by Judy Astley




My Synopsis
Imagine this: You are looking up to Christmas this year with your amazing boyfriend. Until he ditches you, then you are not so sure you are in a festive mood to celebrate. But at least, you do have your family, and there’s reason to be thankful?

But not until your mum and dad, after years of marriage, decide to finalize their separation. Christmas would be a major screw up this year, you think to yourself. Then your parents decide there could be one last holiday taken as a family before the year ends. Now something to look up to.

But the family vacation doesn’t go as planned. You are being pursued by someone who you assume is gay. Your sister is really losing her nerve to hold it together amongst her aloof husband and boisterous kids. Your mum might have mistakenly invited her younger lover over. And your dad’s girlfriend hops into the picture to further complicate the sleeping arrangements.

Is everyone in need of a Christmas miracle or what?

Because whatever happens, chip in a snowstorm and extreme weather conditions and you are foreseeing a disaster.

Thea’s life summed up for your delight.
My Review
I liked this book.

Great storyline. I was a sucker for the whole plot. Who knew Christmas could get this disastrous? Girl thinks she’s crazy for not warding off the advances of a gay man. Girl struggles to keep herself in a celebratory spirit after being dumped by her boyfriend. Girl wishes her family would just suck it up and not fall apart this Christmas season because they might be the only cause for her to be happy. A star to the storyline.── ★

Thea is much like your everyday self or friend or sister who has no kids and always get snubbed off by mums who tell her she has no idea what being a mother entails when she’s a teacher whose job is to control hyperactive six-year olds. Very relatable when you consider that very moment you are dumped by a guy who you thought could be that happily-ever-after one so you cut your hair, dye up some strands pink, (record heart-breaking solos with your guitar), and not bother whether you care not. A star to her.── ★★

Other supporting characters––like Anna, the (grand) mum in constant thought of whether her family would approve of her boyfriend; Mike, the (grand) dad battling with keeping her over the top girlfriend under control; Emily, the sister who wouldn’t just suck it up and enjoy the holidays because she’s in constant fear of what her husband’s ignorance might get her kids into; Mr. Over The Road who can’t keep his tongue out of throats that aren’t his wife’s when given a little drink. A star to these characters.── ★★★

I liked this book. But I really, really wish I could have loved, loved it. It had such a funky blurb I was expecting so much more. The humour could have been revved up, the pace could have been quicker, the suspense could have been more engaging.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Judy Astley’s latest is available on amazon.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants a festive title this holiday season. Anyone who could do with a little miracle could also pick this title.

My work not done here. Off to post my review on Goodreads.


22/12/2014

Book Review: One Step Closer To You by Alice Peterson




MY SYNOPSIS
Imagine This: Your life is normal as of now. Normal is what you like. Stable is what you find ideal. Especially since you had a son. You would do anything to keep the stability in you and your son’s lives being a single mother. Knowing how much it affected you when your parents couldn’t keep stability when you were little.

This is the story of you. Your life as a recovering alcoholic single-parent.

There was a time when your life was in shatters. A time when all you could think of was numbing your pain with a bottle of wine, then gin, then vodka, then… champagne. Because your ex knows you as his beautiful champagne girl. Your ex the bully. Your ex who ensured you never went a day without a bruise.
This is the story that tells us how you meet a grieving man. A grieving man who has taken his sister’s daughter as his own since her death. This is the story you help this kind-hearted man recover all the pieces he lost due to something you both share: an alcoholic past.

And as though all the above isn’t enough to check your life from that stability box to the ‘it’s complicated’ one, you would live in constant fear of your ex’s return, you would be feeling a strange connection with this guy you vow to be friends with––a connection you would want to put aside because you do not want to lose the solid friendship and that stability you’ve been holding on to for you and your son’s sake, and just when you even think of deciding the possibility of deserving the chance to move on… all your fears would come to past.

Polly’s dilemma summed up for devouring.

MY REVIEW

I loved, loved this book. So you can guess in my review you’d be urging me to seek therapy if I am in anyway disturbed.

There are story-lines that are not fresh, at all. There are also storylines so timeless, with an amazing presentation a writer could produce a masterpiece. This story falls into the latter category. Another book about addiction, major eyeroll. But is it in anyway different from all the other books about addiction you have picked? I can vouch for that. Amazing originality with Girl getting flashbacks of past events that shattered her life, Girl keeping everything under control in present life and just so scared of losing the reins for something that entails sparks and love. The one novel to get you asking, does everybody deserve a second chance? Do I deserve a second chance? A star to the storyline.── ★

Polly is dull. Dull in a very elegant way. A soothing point of view that carries hope for the reader as she journeys through recovery and gaining the trust of people she hurt, meanwhile keeping an eye out for the father of her son. No adrenalin-pumping main, no main full of sass and attitude providing a kicking read, just a main character seasoned to embody anyone going through a healing process with lots of calm and peace. You’d love her for this reserved poise. A star to the characterization.── ★★

We all love chick-lit that imparts lessons that are dateless in our world. Addiction, domestic abuse. You’d find yourself picking bits and pieces of our main character’s life wondering where she went wrong and how to prevent yourself (or a friend) from getting into similar situation. This book would awake your judgemental side as well as elevate your empathy towards (the main character for) moving issues brought up in this title.── ★★★

A star goes to the supporting cast who made reading this book breath-taking and entertaining at points. You would love Hugo, our main character’s partially blind brother whose story is an inspiration to lots of people visually-impaired. You would love the supportive Aunt Viv, who reminds you of that black sheep in your extended family for which your parents would be praying tirelessly you do not inherit her gene. Janey, the best friend of our lead who I think––among all the other reasons––also played a part in the exacerbation of our main’s addiction. Louis, the adorable son of Polly who isn’t hard to fall head over heels with. Neve, our main’s AA sponsor whose gone through similar trials as our lead.  Stephanie, the counsellor who tries so hard to stay objective when all she wants to do is provide all the suitable decisions our main has to make on her own. There’s also Polly’s mum whose presence and tight-lipped-ness would make you snort with derision anytime in her presence. Ben, the charming uncle who is just fine being friends with Polly. And Matthew, Polly’s cowardice, shithead ex who you’d just want to strangle.── ★★★★

Suspense, and (laid-back) humour play a major part in this title. Throughout the novel, you would feel this unease that would break your every resolve to let go of this book and get a nap. You would be so glued to this title, you would need nurses from a psychiatric ward to pry you and this masterpiece apart. Lots of chuckling moments that would teeter you on the verge of tears.── ★★★★★

My rating would obviously be five/five stars. The one book whose end would make you slam a palm to your heart and sigh (because you can now go shower out of your urine-embedded sweatpants).

Alice Peterson’s moving latest, One Step Closer To You, is available on amazon.

I recommend it to anyone who wants something inspirational this festive season, anyone who wants a book that would make them rethink all life’s decisions for which caused harm to those they love. Anyone who wants something with dense, emotional themes should also pick this.

(I also love the caption on the back-cover that says, ‘Open Your Heart To Alice Peterson’. It’s just hard not to).


My work not done here. Off to post my review on Goodreads

18/12/2014

FESTIVE BOOK REVIEW: Coming Home For Christmas by Julia Williams




MY SYNOPSIS
Imagine This: There’s an imminent construction of a hotel complex in your homely small town about to ruin everything your community stands for: love, neighbourliness and giving a helping hand to the mentally disturbed.

Of course, you would do anything to halt these construction works, call up town meetings, gather feisty senior citizens to line up for a protest, use unconventional methods that come to mind. Because, your farm is going down, and these planners want to rip you off your family land for their giant hotel complex. Never mind the idea of a spa is really far-removed from the mind of a farmer’s wife whose cuticles are constantly trapped with grit and bits of cow teats (for when they are getting uncooperative).

Except you are no more a farmer’s wife.

You and your husband are on the verge of a finalized divorce if only you can ever get around to mailing the untouched papers to his solicitor. At a time where you need him most, he just wants out and you are left with no option but to champion your protests, save the bankruptcy your farm is at the brink of lest you sell to the Hotel Complex Sharks, look for support from your boyfriend who thinks you’d be better off in London as a fundraiser ball organizer wife, deal with your daughter who has cerebral palsy and is against your current love interest.

At least, you have you have your friends to help. But not when they have problems of their own.

Cat’s been dropped off local television because she’s incapable of losing baby weight and is getting too old for camera retouching (on a cookery programme?!). Marianne’s husband’s ex is back in the picture with her mental disease that drives away her husband’s attention from her, Marianne, and just when things are looking up, there enters Marianne’s fiancée who jilted her on the day of their wedding. (Too many exes her life could qualify as extreme porn with a parental guidance notice).

Someone help save your town before the Yummy Mummies, who are just a different breed of farmer’s wives the sight of whom are so surprising, sell up the town just so they could have that much-needed massage and manicure they’d have to drive all the way to the cities to have. And really what about your personal problems? Oh, this Christmas…

Pippa Soon-To-Be-Not-Holliday’s dilemma summed for your entertainment.

MY REVIEW
I loved this book. So you know in my review, I’d be telling you to shove that Christmas Cake out the window and go get it! (Really, haven’t you had enough of calories already?)

The storyline is amazing. Three friends trying to stabilize their family, their love lives and prevent their town from being transformed into one of those places where filming of Real Housewives of You-Never-Mind-Naming-There takes place. Lovely. A star to the story-line.── ★

I adored the three main leads in this title. All strong women except for when they are worrying too much about ageing quickly, dealing with a divorce and being suspicious of a doting husband. You see now they are much like you? Beautiful characters! Marriane, Pippa and Cat. With different story-lines that appeal to readers immensely. No way you’d read the point-of-view of a character and doze off (... unless your family has driven you nuts on Christmas Day). I felt this book should have been titled Farmers’ Wives, because isn’t it a nice change to read about women very much settled in their country environs and helping out their husbands with cattle? Anyway, these are fab characters you can’t help but keep rooting for. A star to them.── ★★

You would find out this is a marvellous festive read. I did find out after this title, not all books you enjoy should put you at the edge of your (toilet) seat. Like this, they should be filled with warmth that helps you relax during these hectic Christmas preparations you’d be braving through. (If you are looking for a novel that would make you skid off your toilet seat… really, beware your head doesn’t crash against your tiled floor) Marvellous plot!

Other characters in this book made it special too. Miss Woods, a senior citizen with her guerrilla methods towards protesting. Batty Jack and his very commendable unconventional methods of driving away the hotel constructors. The (ex) husbands, Dan, Noel, Gabriel who were the rocks of our main characters. Luke Nicholas, Marriane’s ex, and his penchant to head every program that calls for the ruin of Hope Christmas. The children, Mel (Cat’s daughter juggling motherhood with education and a successful blog and book), Paige (Cat’s teenage daughter who’s more into snap-chatting that she’d snap at anyone who tries to make a degrading comment about her habit), Lou Lou (Cat’s year-old granddaughter who’s so adorable any reader would be tempted to stay off contraceptives), James (Cat’s son whose motto in life is to live like you are never writing any exams the following day), Lucy (Pippa’s cerebral palsy daughter who has so much attitude it’s a good thing she cannot talk. Ouch, bad thing to say, I know) Harry and Daisy (Marriane’s toddler twins who visit the loo so much you’d not be wise not to think they might end up with jobs that would make their visits more permanent). Oh, and Ralph Nicholas and Michael who are always at the right place at the right time to offer a helping hand. Angela, Cat’s mother-in-law], the Yummy-Mummies… oh, I could go on and on!── ★★★

I loved the presentation of this piece. From January to December and years in between that had a significant incident happening during one Christmas, Julia Williams wows readers with a portrait that isn’t too unfamiliar with their normal lives.── ★★★★

There were moments I guffawed so much. Especially during the final protest that led to senior citizens, and lots of mummies being apprehended by the cops.── ★★★★★

Did I love, love, this book? Yes, I did. But it had a bit of a shaky start. Though getting into the book so I could only push this thought to the back of my mind, I still have to slash one of its stars.

So my rating: 4.5 stars/five.

Julia Williams’ latest, Coming Home For Christmas (which I really wished it was titled Coming Hope For Christmas because the characters did need lots of hope to pull through) is available on amazon.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants a festive read that champions a good cause, speaks on dense themes of loss, marital problems, mental illness you could relate to, and anyone who needs a miracle this Christmas (for Hope Christmas is the centre for all things miraculous). (Oh, plus if you are considering getting off that contraceptive, pick this title. Way too many adorable children).


My work not done here. Off to post my review on Goodreads.

15/12/2014

Book Review: Cure For The Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick



MY SYNOPSIS
Imagine This: You are in between cities and in between boyfriends. Kind of easy when you are a flight attendant, jetting all over the world seeing new places and new hotties. Currently, your number one flavour is a pilot, who pilots your plane, until he breaks your spleen and then your heart.

You thought you were invincible. But why does this breakup hurt so much? Perhaps you are not used to guys ditching you? Or this triggers a childhood memory you’d rather want buried. The only solution is to run away, regroup, and get back on your feet.

But where exactly could the newly-dumped and single find refuge without bumping into senior citizens walking hand-in-hand and staring at one another longingly?

Delaware, Black Dog Bay, centre for the recently heartbroken.

With the Eat Your Heart Out bakery, Better Off Bed and Breakfast, and Whinery Bar, what’s not to love about this place with likeminded heartbroken tourists and a sexy mayor who doesn’t want to give you an hour of his Friday night. Yes, you are back on your feet again, and getting the mayor to lose his chip on his shoulder and go out with you would sure keep you occupied and away from moping around with Kleenex.

But the baddest bitch in town is out to get you and keep you away from your mayor and is willing to take the whole town down. It’s not like you want to even spend all your days in Black Dog Bay anyway, or that you might actually be falling for the mayor. Which you are not, really. So you could just leave all of Black Dog Bay behind, your new friends and life and just fly somewhere else. Like you always do.

Then you see the Black dog, and your priorities change…

Summer Benson’s life summed up for your delight.

MY REVIEW
So you would like the storyline of this title. Girl gets her heartbroken, Girl retreats to breakup central, Girl picks up new life with new friends, new enemies and not forgetting a new love interest. Girl must decide if she should triumph over love or let herself be overcome by it. It’s beautiful, and with an engaging plot that’s full of heart and fast-paced, there’s really no putting this book down. A star to the storyline. ── 

Summer, the main character is plain likable. Has a cynicism towards love that isn’t off-putting (because how many of us haven’t had our hearts broken?), funny and with so much spunk that gives this title lots of attitude. You would love her for strange advices on how to hook the perfect guy, you would love her for her penchant to rob clients to pay hairdressers who are in dire need of the tip, and her dislike for anything formal and black-tie. A toast to her! ── ★★

Other characters make reading this title also fun. Hattie Huntington, Black Dog Bay’s no.1 bully (who would sue a saloon if an employee mistakenly splashed nail lacquer over her lids). Hollis, Black Dog Bay’s number one bookshop owner, stocking her shelves with body-rippers and self-help. Jenna, owner of the Whinery, who has the best gloomy song for every right moping mood. Ingrid, sister of the mayor who doesn’t know a thing or two about using facial wipes (how much more makeup?).  The mayor, Dutch Jansen, who lives up to all your expectations as women in need of hot distraction from your monotonous husbands. Jake Sorensen, Black Dog Bay’s acclaimed rebound guy on call to rip off the little pieces band aid (and clothing) after your breakup. And the ever-persistent senior citizen constituents who wouldn’t give Summer and our mayor sometime alone if they hardly ever come close to getting any. ── ★★★

Funny and ridiculous, I laughed at lots of moments. A star to the humor. ── ★★★★★

Now, I liked this book. But I really wished I could have loved it. Throw in a few plot complications, make it less predictable, and it would have been just fan-freaking-brilliant!

My rating: Four/ Five stars.

Beth Kendrick’s Cure For The Common Breakup, your fun-packed rom-com this Christmas, is available on amazon.

Can’t wait to ravish New Uses For Old Boyfriends (by the same author, of course) coming up 2015.

I recommend this title to anyone who has ever been a flight attendant or would love to be one, anyone who loves a heroine who lacks all the innocence of an English rose, anyone who loves their chicklit with ridiculous humor yet having lots of heart to make you swoon when the final page is flipped over.


My work not done here. Off to post my review on goodreads.

04/12/2014

Happy Holidays: The Greatest Gift This Christmas + INT GIVEAWAY



What would you do if all your friends abandoned you for cooler countries?

For me, the answer to the above question was, get a life! But how exactly did I get a life if really I had nothing to live for?

So I needed to get my zest for life back. Here’s how I started:
I put all my interests on board, going through them, analysing them, judging them based on ‘would they help me make my friends see they made the biggest mistake of their lives deserting me?’

But that didn’t help.

Sheesh, I needed to grow up! I needed to move on with my life and stop making everything a big fuck-up about them leaving me. Chances are, they were living life to the max, and I was here moping and scheming for ways to make them see I was The Friend they let go away. I needed to take on my interests in a different light. I needed to take on my interests based on the fact that they were my passion and that I loved doing them (not because I wanted something to say, “Aha! You ungrateful morons! Take that for leaving me all alone.”).

I scanned over my list, which included tanning (I don’t have the complexion for this!), working out (look what happened with my friends, so clearly I didn’t have the heart for cardiovascular), singing (Oh, I got bored when every song that came out of my lips was a sad––and horrible rendition of––an Adele track) and books.

Books.

My eyes focused on the last five-letter words. Reading came to me, curling up on a sofa with a book came to me, hiding in the dark garage from my dog and (even more from) my family with a torchlight illuminating a book came to me.
Then I knew what to do.

Books were an escape, a fine one. This year, The List by Joanna Bolouri wowed me, and opened a different portal to me where I began to view sex as a positive change to anybody who could really use some achievable New Year Resolutions. The Secret Paris Cinema Club threw me into the amazing scenery of Paris and lovers of the old monochrome pictures and showed me a world where love has no limitations. Low Expectations by Elizabeth Aaron jetted me into the dramatic life of a fashion student dealing with her addiction to men with beards, and taught me life can sometimes throw you a-light-in-the-tunnel curveball even when things are going not-so-well, but only if you choose to work on your goals, and persevere a little (more), success is yours!
I love books. They have given a whole new dimension to me and a whole new meaning to my life. That’s why I would always say, (even if you whack me in the head with a Harry Potter novel), books are the greatest gift to give to anyone this Christmas.

And a big Thank You to Quercus for supplying me with a whole lot of books this year to review. Quercus, also deciding to help me surprise you all, are giving away five books (I chose) to be mailed out to you this Christmas with these themed stylish bookmarks.




Just comment on this post (answering the question: Why Books Are The Greatest Gift?) and enter the raffle below to win...



   




and be surprised this Christmas.


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Happy Holidays
Kobby.           `