Book Review: The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson

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Eliza Bennett is living the life she’s always dreamt about, doing something she loves with a man she loves. However she’s hiding a terrible secret that could bring her dream life down like a pack of cards. 

For one, she isn’t who everyone thinks she is. She is actually Klaudia Meyer. She’s adopted Eliza Bennett as her new name. Klaudia, she no longer was, in her own mind. And Eliza she would have stayed, until life forced her to face the truth.

Klaudia has had a difficult childhood, being the only daughter of Otto and Gwyn. Otto is the school caretaker, and an object of fun for her school mates. With his German background, the easiest jibe to fling at him was, ‘Nazi’. His obsession with religious carvings don’t help matters. By the time she becomes older, all she wants is to run far far away from her childhood home. Also lurking was the growing suspicion that maybe the school kids weren’t too far off with their jibe of ‘Nazi’. Klaudia knew that she needed to get away, and Leeds seemed far enough. 

When she moves away from home, she chooses a new name for herself, Eliza Bennett, inspired by Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett. She constructs a new identity for herself and was perfectly happy until life threw everything into disarray.

The story weaves back into the past, with Otto and Ernst’s life in Nazi Germany. Ernst narrates the tale of life in war time Germany. It makes for a heartbreaking read. It is unbearable to read of life in such situations, where people are pitted against people. Neighbours, friends, all forced to turn against each other, and the power of words, campaigns, and slogans which gave people the thrust to do things they would have never done otherwise. Things that would come to haunt them later. 

A moving tale of a girl who doesn’t know the truth of her past, of ghosts of the past haunting not just the people who lived through things, but also  generations which come later. 

A poignant read, one which I will stay with me. A good, haunting read, especially Ernst’s part of the book. A 4/5 read for me. This is the first book I’ve read of this author, and I know that it’s not going to be the last.

Thank you, Netgalley and the publishers for the review copy of the book.

About the Author

Saskia grew up in Suffolk and now lives in London. She is the mother of four children, including identical twin girls. She has a B.A hons in English Literature from Cambridge and an M.A in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway. She’s worked as a Health & Beauty Editor,freelance journalist, ghost-writer and script reader. As well as writing and reading, she loves tango dancing and dog walking.


This book is available at Amazon(UK)

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Book Review: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

The title hooked me in. There was something about the title. Actually, it’s just that mention of cake, and even the fact that I don’t even like coconut cake didn’t deter me. I love fiction based on food, or even non-fiction, for that matter. As you can see, I’m not too choosy and the blurb sounded interesting, and that was enough to get me to request for this book at Netgalley.

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Lou runs a little French restaurant, Luella’s in Milwaukee. She’s living her dream, she’s finally been able to save money and open her own restaurant. While not wildly popular or anything,they are struggling, just about able to make even, but that doesn’t stop Lou from dreaming big and working hard to reach there. The only person who doesn’t seem to take her seriously is her fiance Devlin. He seems to think that she needs ‘rescuing’ from her ‘hard’ life. As it turned out, Lou certainly didn’t need rescuing by Devlin, and walking in on her fiance unexpectedly had more than one unsavoury outcome.

Al is a brutal restaurant reviewer who is known for his harsh take downs of the restaurants he reviews. Originally from Britain, he is just about tolerating Milkwaukee and writes under a psuedonym. He gets an anonymous invite to review Luella’s, and lands up there on a day when Lou was at her worst. Needless to say, Al’s review was nothing to write home about. The review drives Lou to the pub to drown her sorrows where she runs into Al. A dare ends up with Lou offering to show Al the culinary delights of Milwaukee which involved some really delicious sounding food (the descriptions had me drooling). During this time, Lou’s restaurant is facing closure, while Al’s column is gaining in popularity.

So what happens when Lou finds out who Al really is? You have to read to find out.

A charming, cute story. One that you know the outcome of, and yet want to read on, just because the writing is so captivating, the characters so engaging, that you want to read on, you want to know what happens next, knowing fully well, that there is little that will surprise you. I loved the characters, particularly Lou’s protective friends.

A simple story, but really well narrated. A book that made me want to taste all that Lou shows Al, made me want to visit Milwaukee, and made me want to know how it all ended – even though I could easily predict the ending, but the journey to get there was absolutely delicious! The author even did the near-impossible, she made me want to try a slice of coconut cake!

A book I would definitely recommend. Great for a holiday read, a quick, easy and fun read. A 4/5 read for me. I know I would love to read other books by this author.

Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for the review copy of this book.

About The Author
Amy Reichert earned her MA in Literature from Marquette University, and honed her writing and editing skills as a technical writer (which is exactly as exciting as it sounds). As a newly minted member of the local library board, she loves helping readers find new books to love. She’s a life-long Wisconsin resident with (allegedly) a very noticeable accent, a patient husband, and two too-smart-for-their-own-good kids. When time allows, she loves to read, collect more cookbooks than she could possibly use, and test the limits of her DVR.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish

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Christy and Joe Davenport can’t believe their luck. They’ve managed to buy a house in the sought-after Lime Park Road. It is another thing that buying the house might mean that they would have to live on milk and bread, but it is their dream home, their ‘forever’ home. Just the perfect place to raise their yet-to-be-born kids. What makes it even better is that the previous owners had renovated it to such high standards that Christy and Joe could just move in. The house is in such a wonderful condition that they are amazed that the previous owners left so quickly. Why would someone sell their house and love away right after they had renovated it to such high standards?

However, something isn’t quite right. Frosty neighbours, and some rather weird conversations, leads Christy to deduce that something had happened on Lime Park Road which made Frasers leave so suddenly. Nobody seems to know where they went, and nobody seems willing to tell her what happened. All she knows is that everybody seemed to love Amber, and yet, nobody would say much more than that. Something had gone terribly wrong and Christy knows she has to find out. It is just too intriguing for her to not find out. Of course, it doesn’t help that she has lost her job and has plenty of time on her hands to go digging.

The story is told from Christy and Amber’s point of view. As we read Christy’s confusion , we read Amber’s time at Lime Park. I loved the way the story is made to progress. You, as a reader, know that tiny bit more that Christy and it is interesting to read how the events unfolded.

This was one of the few books where there was something unknown which I hadn’t managed to guess. A book I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved the way the author created the characters. Amber for instance, sounds amazing at the start and through the story, you see layers being peeled off to reveal the true Amber. Christy, is just a regular, normal person. A person who comes across as quite dull and boring, in comparison to her glamorous and exciting predecessor. Christy’s curiosity is so understandable, and so real. I can quite imagine myself in her situation, wondering and obsessing about Amber, especially when there are little clues littered about. Although I have to say, I would hate to live in a house which is so dominated by my predecessor, where people still refer to the house as ‘Amber’s house’ despite the fact that Amber has sold and left the place months ago. That I guess is the power of the character, who stays on, in people’s minds.

An interesting, and quite a different story, with a little unknown until the very end. A book I would definitely recommend. A 4/5 read for me. A great book for a quick, pacy and intriguing read. This is the first book that I’ve read of this author, and I know it wouldn’t be the last.

Thank you Netgalley and the publishers, Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for the ARC of this book.

About the Author
Louise Candlish is a bestselling author of nine novels, including two 2013 releases, The Disappearance of Emily Marr (a moody emotional mystery) and The Island Hideaway (an intense shot of Sicilian sunshine).

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: Disclaimer by Renée Knight

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What would you do if you picked up a book and realised as you read that it was your story? What if, not only was it your story, it was also a part of your life that you had never told anyone? Something that no one knew.

That was exactly what happened to documentary maker Catherine. Catherine had been living a charmed life. Successful in her career, a loving husband, only her not so successful son being the slight blip in her life. She chances upon a book and as she reads, realises to her horror that it was telling her story. A part of her life that was a deeply buried secret, an explosive secret which could rip apart her life. An incident from years ago that she had tried hard to forget. The standard disclaimer about any resemblance to persons dead or alive is struck off, in red. Clearly some one cares enough to do this to her, some one who is out to get her. Why? How? And why now? So many years after the incident. You can only find out as you read the book. 

In parallel to Catherine’s story is the narrative of a lonely man, a retired teacher, mourning the death of his wife. His life now revolves around clearing his wife’s clothes and living with her memories. What is the connection to Catherine and her horror?

An absolute page turner that had me hooked right from the start. A psychological thriller, that has you psyched, it got to me. I felt Catherine’s fear. The feeling that every move of hers was being watched, someone was waiting to pounce, just waiting for the right time. Perhaps waiting to push Catherine over the brink? Catherine transforms from the confident woman that she was, to a shell of her former self. A worried, scared woman, always looking over her shoulder for her stalker. Who was this and why did they care so much? What did Catherine do? What is this big secret, that she is hiding ? The characters are relatable, real.

I wish I could say more, but that would kill the book for you. It is such a powerful, fascinating book. The author reels you in, builds up the story, builds up the tension so very masterfully. A brilliant book. A 4/5 read, one I would definitely recommend wholeheartedly.

About the Author

Renée Knight worked for the BBC directing arts documentaries before turning to writing. She has had TV and film scripts commissioned by the BBC, Channel Four and Capital Films. In April 2013 she graduated from the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

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August Shroeder is out for the summer. He is a burned out teacher, who has lost his passion for teaching, an alcoholic who has not touched alcohol since his 19-year-old son died. He is on his way to Yellowstone National Park, when his vehicle breaks down. In his carefully budgeted life, he doesn’t have much manoeuver for unexpected expenses like a broken down vehicle. As he gets hold of a mechanic to fix his RV, the only concern is that he shouldn’t be ripped off. Little does he realise that his life is about to change more than he could ever imagine.

Before he knows it, he is touring around with two little boys, the mechanic’s sons. That summer turns out to be a summer that he or the boys would never forget. A summer they will cherish, a summer that gives them the hope that things are not all bleak, the summer which carries them through the rest of their lives, the summer that charted the course of the rest of their lives, in many ways.

A beautifully written book. I struggle for words to describe it. A book about flawed characters, not bad, or evil, just flawed characters, desperate situations, just life, which is so difficult to predict, control or change and the way people react to life and the challenges it throws them. The aftermaths and consequences of decisions, lifestyles that have an everlasting impact on those around them. A story that will touch your soul. It isn’t a path breaking one or even a story with a great twist or anything, but it is a story that will definitely stay with me. August’s loneliness and heartbreak, the boys’ with their defiant self reliance, or their father with his stubborn refusal to see the things right in front of him. A story that makes you wish people would see how they let their lives go. I particularly loved the way it ended, the hope that it ended on.

This book, in my opinion, is a perfect Book Club book. One which you could analyse from so many angles, one which gives you so much food for thought. It is the sort of book, I wished I could discuss with friends. Just the sort of book I like. I can’t believe that I hadn’t come across this author so far, but an author, I’m sure to be picking up more of.

An inspiring, thought provoking, sensitive story. A story that will stay with me. A 4.5/5 read for me.

Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for the ARC of this book.

About the Author
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of about 28 published books such as The Language of Hoofbeats, Take Me With You , Where We Belong, Walk Me Home, Subway Dancer and Other Stories, When You Were Older, Don’t Let Me Go, When I Found You, Second Hand Heart, The Long, Steep Path: Everyday Inspiration From the Author of Pay It Forward, Always Chloe and Other Stories, and 365 Days of Gratitude: Photos from a Beautiful World.

This book is available to pre-order at Amazon(UK).

Book Review: Recipes For Melissa by Teresa Driscoll

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Is it ever too late for the gift of goodbye?

Melissa Dance was eight years old when her mother died. They never got to say goodbye.

Melissa and her father lived their lives without her mother. Melissa managed by blanking out her memories of her mother, while her father clung on to them. Both of them coping in ways they could. On her 25th birthday, she gets handed a journal. It is her mother’s journal which she had left with special instructions to be handed over when Melissa turned 25. The journal that he mother wrote just for Melissa, something that even her father is completely unaware of. It is her way of saying goodbye to her daughter, at a time she feels might be right, rather than as a bewildered eight year old. But is the the right time or it s it too late already? Has Melissa moved into an unforgiving state with little memories of her mother to match the words that leap out of the journal? Or will her mother’s words reach out to her, hug her and comfort her when she needs it the most?

A beautifully written book. One that touched my heart. Melissa’s emotions as she reads the book and the way it impacts her life at the moment, was beautifully brought out. It was heartbreaking and sweet at the same time. A mother’s pain at leaving her eight year old and her beloved husband was palpable in Melissa’s mother’s words. It did make me wonder how/what I would do if faced with a similar situation. Would you make the most of the little time you have left in the world, by making it as normal and memorable as possible or would you tell you daughter and prepare her as best as you can. I’m not sure if I agreed with everything that Melissa’s mum did, as in, not saying a goodbye to her eight year old, before she died, but the beauty of the book is that it makes you empathise with the characters. You may not completely agree with their way of thinking but your heart goes out to them, you understand why.

The book is not just about Melissa and her mum, it is also about her dad who has been struggling in many ways himself. Having had the most wonderful relationship with his wife, he fears that he has had his chance at happiness. He’d be too greedy to expect more.

A book that will stay with me. The recipes of course, are an essential part of the book. The author does such a beautiful job of merging the recipes with Melissa’s mum’s words that you don’t even realise where an anecdote ends and a recipe begins. Beautifully handled throughout. A 4.5/5 read for me.

About the Author
Teresa Driscoll is a former BBC TV news presenter with 25 years’ experience across newspapers, magazines and broadcasting. After training as a newspaper reporter, she joined Thames TV for five years before 15 years as the anchor of the BBC’s south west regional TV news programme Spotlight.

Teresa has been writing short stories for a range of national magazines for a decade and has tutored creative writing with the support of Arts Council England.

Recipes for Melissa – her debut novel – was auctioned at the Frankfurt Book Fair and has already sold in six languages.

This book is available for pre-order at Amazon(UK), at 99p (an absolute steal!).

Book Review: What Have I Done by Amanda Prowse

This review has been sitting in my drafts for almost 4 months now. I’ve been giving my house a good spring clean, and decide to take it to my virtual home as well. So you might see some forgotten reviews pop up in the next few days. This was one of the books I definitely want to talk about.
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The opening of the book had me hooked, ‘Oh, I know. I’m sorry, I’ll try and speak up a bit. It’s always a terrible connection from here, even if I’m phoning someone locally. It’s because I am up in the main bedroom and the reception is very bad. My son thinks it may be because of all the big trees around us; we did cut them right back one year, but I can’t remember if it made any difference. Plus we get interference from the computers in the next building; we’ve been meaning to get it looked at, but that’s by the by. Right, yes. I said, I have murdered my husband.’

Kathryn Booker is the head master’s wife in a rather grand school, Mountbriars Academy. Kathryn spends her time baking scones and playing the perfect, happy wife. To the everybody, they are the perfect couple, still very much in love with each other, despite being married for decades.

So why does Kathyrn kill her husband? Why was she so calm, collected and composed while reporting her crime? As the story unfolds, we are shown Kathryn’s private hell, the prison that she lived in, the nightmare she was ready to trade with a life in jail. What could have been so bad in Kathryn’s seemingly perfect life? You have to read it to find out.

A book which I couldn’t put down, because I so wanted to know more. To know why Kathryn did what she did, to understand why the people around her and her own children reacted the way they did. Kathryn’s story before she killed her husband was interesting, and eye-opening. It gave an insight into how easy it can be, to get away with domestic violence. So easy to mask and hide, if you knew how to play people. That thought gave me the shivers. What let this book down, in my opinion were the characters. While Kathryn’s husband and Kathyrn’s characters made sense, I found it difficult to believe their children. they refused to see what was in front of them. Even when the evidence was in front of them, even after it all came out in the aftermath of their father’s death. The way the refused to see things from their mother’s point of view was heart-breaking, absolutely heart-breaking to read. Kathryn’s pain from the final way her husband managed to hurt her, long after his death was incredibly sad. I guess, it takes all sorts, there definitely are people like them, self centered, refusing to see what is in front of them, so what if they end up hurting those who love them the most.

A 3.5/5 book for me, because this book started off with so much promise, it could have been fantastic, but it fell short, somewhere. While it was an absolute page turner, there was something missing, something that left you unsatisfied. I have to say, the ending definitely made sense, it ended in the only way it could. I would still read a sequel if there is any, simply because this book felt unfinished. And for all it’s flaws, it still is a book that is very memorable, mainly because of the subject that refuses to let you go. Stuff that nightmares are made of, and yet important enough to be written about, and read, because I’m sure it will help someone in similar situations at some point in time.

About the Author
Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write. Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.

This book is available on Amazon(UK).