Archive | April, 2015

Book review: Set Me Free by Daniela Sacerdoti

30 Apr

Set-me-FreeMargherita’s marriage is slowly falling apart. Getting pregnant after trying for so long may have been a fabulous surprise for her, but for her husband it was the last straw. When she needs him most, her husband is just not there for her or their children and she realises that they need time apart to figure out where their marriage is going.

As she struggles to come to terms with her new life, Margherita decides to leave London and spend the summer in Glen Avich, where her mum and stepdad have just opened a new coffee shop. She needs time away to reconnect with her daughter Lara and sort out her life. But Glen Avich can have a strange effect on people, and when she and Lara start working for Torccuil Ramsay at a rundown local estate, everything begins to change. Margherita finds her heart awakened in a way she never thought possible and Lara begins a new friendship with a mysterious local boy, Mal, which makes her mother feel increasingly uneasy.

And just when Margherita is finally beginning to discover who she really is, she finds out how quickly things can change and how hard it can be to make brave choices.

Set Me Free is the first adult novel by Daniela Sacerdoti that I’ve read and having read and enjoyed her young adult paranormal series Sarah Midnight I was looking forward to reading this new book.

This is the third book that Daniela had set in the Scottish town of Glen Avich but new readers need not worry; the story stands perfectly well as a standalone novel. For fans of Daniela’s earlier novels there are updates and reappearances from characters that you will be familiar with and I’m now looking forward to reading earlier books them to learn more about the town and some of the characters in this book.

I love Daniela’s style of writing; it’s warm, heartfelt and doesn’t shy away from exploring difficult issues and emotions. For me, this story struck a good mix between lighter moments and dark although there were some areas that I wished Daniela had explored more deeply. With topics such as separation, adoption, relationships, teenage angst and the effect of a parent’s relationship on their children, there’s a lot of scope for Set Me Free to be an emotional  roller-coaster and I felt this was particularly true of the first part of the book which had great pace.

Set Me Free introduces us to Margherita and her family; husband Ash, adopted daughter Lara and son Leo. The story starts in London as Margherita tells the sad tale of the breakdown of her marriage. Coupled with her daughters problems at school this part of the novel was quite turbulent and unsettling. The tone changes dramatically when Margherita takes her children to Glen Avich to stay with her parents for the summer holidays.

Glen Avich is beautifully described and has a wonderful community feel to it. Reading this book made me want to visit Scotland and enjoy the beauty of the scenery. This part of the novel has a more romantic lighter feel to it and I enjoyed the touches of humour as Margherita and her family settle in. Margherita’s family has Italian roots and her mother and partner run a cafe in Glen Avich. The delicious descriptions of food had my mouth watering and added to the warmth and comfort of this part of the novel.

The second part of the story also introduces a paranormal element to the plot which I found really unusual and interesting, in fact I would have liked much more of the paranormal element to feature! I won’t give away the plot but I found this thread of the story particularly poignant and it added a whole new layer to the romance of the book, particularly in the haunting highland setting.

I really enjoyed getting to know Margherita and her family and felt like I’d made a new set of friends when I finished themargherita recipes book. I will definitely visit Glen Avich again and I hope Daniela does too!

4/5

Set Me Free is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

You can find out more about Daniela and her writing at: http://danielasacerdoti.com/ 

Daniela’s publisher has also created a lovely ebook of Margherita’s recipes from the novel – you can download it FREE at: http://www.blackandwhitepublishing.com/index.php/books/view/set_me_free or from Amazon.

Guest post: Top Five TV and Film influences by Lucy Hounsom

28 Apr

Please welcome debut author Lucy Hounsom to One More Page today on the latest stop of her Starborn blog tour. Lucy works for Waterstones and has a BA in English & Creative Writing from Royal Holloway. She went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing under Andrew Motion in 2010. Lucy lives in Devon.  The beautiful hardback of Starborn was released last week and today Lucy is sharing her top five influences from TV and film – I love this list as it includes three of my own childhood favourites (bring back Knightmare!) Welcome Lucy.

Lucy Hounsom - copyright Lou Abercrombie

Lucy Hounsom – copyright Lou Abercrombie

The Dark Crystal (1982)

One of the first fantasy films I remember watching as a child and being utterly awestruck by. That wonder has never left me and The Dark Crystal is still one of my favourites today. Because it’s filmed with puppets rather than CGI, everything is immediate, real and earthy. Watching it, you get the impression of a vast cultural tapestry underpinning the narrative, against which Jen’s heroic journey is set. With its majestic soundtrack, unique characters and subtle and gently humorous script, this is a film that sums up everything that’s heroic about fantasy.

Labyrinth (1986)

Despite being as old as I am, this film has not aged for me. David Bowie is always going to be the Goblin King and Sarah is always going to be stupid for not becoming his queen. Did I say that out loud? Sarah is great, really and reminds me of me, i.e. someone who’d rather read and do cosplay instead of going out on a date. Labyrinth is a coming of age story enveloped (borderline a little too much) by a riot of Henson’s magical creations. That beautiful, creepy ballroom scene inspired one of my first ever short stories.

Knightmare (1987-94)

Most of this series aired before my time, but I must have caught the tail-end of it when I was about 8 years old and I swiftly became addicted. Knightmare was a medieval fantasy adventure game show that used pretty cutting edge technology (at the time) to create a dungeon full of nasties and fiendish puzzles, which the dungeoneer and their allies had to solve. It was presided over by Dungeonmaster Treguard, whose allegiances were always rather hazy. For an 8 year old, it was super realistic and likely played a major part in turning me onto all things fantasy. Spellcasting: A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

The Princess Bride (1987)9781447268451

My sister demanded that my dad get this almost every time he went to the video rental store – I’ve no idea why we didn’t just buy it. Based on the novel by William Goldman, The Princess Bride is…how to describe this wonderful film that’s both a gentle mockery of fantasy and a brilliant adventure? Cary Elwes was every young girl’s crush while he rolled down a hill shouting, ‘As you wish.’ And don’t get me started on dashing swordsman Inigo Montoya (‘you killed my father, prepare to die!’). This is one of the easiest films to quote by heart because it’s so full of memorable characters and I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t part of every fantasy fan’s collection.

Soul Music (1997)

This seven-part animated adaptation of the Terry Pratchett novel deserves way more appreciation than it appears to have received. Out of all my friends, only one other person’s watched it, which is a crime because it has a killer soundtrack that’s a pastiche of all the best rock & roll songs and it’s full of pointed references about the music industry. It has all your favourite Discworld characters from Death, Albert and Susan to Mustrum Ridcully and the Unseen University wizards. And of course the stars of the show, The Band With Rocks In: Buddy, Glod and Cliff. Memorable lines include: ‘Glod Glodson. I can blow anything, me.’ ‘Really…? Er, that must make you very popular’. And ‘What have you done to your hair? It looks like a duck’s arse, excuse my Klatchian.’ The whole lot is currently on YouTube so you’ve no excuse not to look it up immediately!

Thanks Lucy!

Find out more about Lucy and her writing at: http://lucyhounsom.com/

Starborn is out now in hardback and ebook formats.

Pleaase do check out the other stops on the Starborn blog tour.

Cover reveal! Appleby Farm by Cathy Bramley

28 Apr

This is such an exciting week for One More Page – I’m absolutely delighted to be taking part in the cover reveal for Cathy Bramley’s new novel, Appleby Farm today.

And what a gorgeous cover it is – I can’t wait to put this book on my shelf next to Ivy Lane! The full paperback and ebook versions of the book with the beautiful cover below will be released on 13th August by Corgi but if you can’t wait until then, the first three parts of the story are available as ebooks now with the final installment to be released on 7th May.

Appleby Farm PB lol

 

Freya Moorcroft has wild red hair, mischievous green eyes, a warm smile and a heart of gold. She’s been happy working at the café round the corner from Ivy Lane allotments and her romance with her new boyfriend is going well, she thinks, but a part of her still misses the beautiful rolling hills of her Cumbrian childhood home: Appleby Farm.Then a phone call out of the blue and a desperate plea for help change everything…The farm is in financial trouble, and it’s taking its toll on the aunt and uncle who raised Freya. Heading home to lend a hand, Freya quickly learns that things are worse than she first thought. As she summons up all her creativity and determination to turn things around, Freya is surprised as her own dreams for the future begin to take shape.

Love makes the world go round, according to Freya. Not money. But will saving Appleby Farm and following her heart come at a price?

Find out more about Cathy and her books at: www.cathybramley.co.uk/

 

Author interview: Gavin McCrea

27 Apr

I’m delighted to welcome author Gavin McCrea to One More Page today to discuss his historical fiction debut, Mrs Engels. Gavin was born in Dublin in 1978 and has since travelled widely, living in Japan, Italy and Spain, among other places. He holds a BA and an MA from University College Dublin, and an MA and a PhD from the University of East Anglia. He currently lives between the UK and Spain. Welcome Gavin!

GavinYour debut novel, Mrs Engels is released on 1st May; please could you tell us a little about it and what inspired you to write it?

Mrs Engels tells the story of Lizzie Burns, a poor Irishwoman who became the lover of the communist and political scientist, Friedrich Engels.

I came across Lizzie in Tristram Hunt’s biography of Engels. It was a chance meeting.  In fact, it was barely a meeting at all. Lizzie was illiterate and left no diaries or letters of her own, so there isn’t much known about her. A ghost in the record, she wafts in and out of rooms dominated by the great hulks of Engels and his friend Karl Marx. Lizzie is mentioned in the Marx-Engels correspondence but has no real historical ‘weight’ of her own. When I discovered that Engels had also had a relationship with Lizzie’s older sister, Mary, I knew I had to write the story.

I love novels that shed a light on little known figures in history and particularly women; what drew you to Lizzie Burns as a subject?

Despite, or perhaps because of her lack of historical weight, I adored Lizzie instantly. I could only get the slightest sense of her, and that was enough.  Ignited within me was a desire to build a personality for her, to perform as her, to present myself as if I was her.  I wanted to be her—as I imagined her to be.

I thought Lizzie’s would be a fascinating story to tell. Her position—as a poor worker involved with a rich communist, on one hand, and as a woman having a relationship with the same man as her sister, on the other—allows for a wealth of contradictions, conflicts and complex emotional landscapes to develop. I knew that, to do Lizzie full justice, I would have to write the book in first-person, from her perspective. As a writer, I am interested in the creation of the illusion of ‘mind’, and I wanted to give Lizzie a ‘mind’ that appears larger, more forceful, more fully realized than those of the now-famous personages who surrounded her. I liked the idea of turning a slight historical figure into a massive fictional character.

The novel is narrated in the first person by Lizzie and she has a wonderful voice! How did you get into character and was it strange to write from a female perspective?

When constructing Lizzie’s voice, the most urgent questions I had to address were, firstly, her inability to read and write and, secondly, her sex/gender.

I made the decision early on that I wanted Lizzie’s voice (her private thoughts and, in a different manner, her spoken words) to be lyrical, the product of a rich oral culture. I wanted her illiteracy to enrich her voice rather than impoverish it. I wanted her inability to read and write to add not only urgency and power but also music to her words. My hope was that both the characters within the novel and the readers of the novel would be surprised and challenged by the fierce intelligence that Lizzie’s special vocabulary conveys.

In order to create the illusion that Lizzie is ‘someone’ other than ‘me’ (i.e. a ‘woman’ rather than a ‘man’), I write her in a kind of drag. This linguistic disguise is comprised of words and phrases from a number of sources, including the Marx-Engels letters, classic 19th-century literature, and Irish and Northern English vernacular. The mix is highly artificial, but no more so, I believe, than the inherited/found/imposed/assumed/constructed/performed vocabularies which make up my own voice (the voice of ‘Gavin’), and by which I express and come to believe in my own identity (as ‘Gavin’). By which I mean: if I were to write a novel from the perspective of ‘Gavin’, it would also be a drag performance. It would be me pretending to be me, and I would never really know whether I was doing me any justice.

As a child, I remember being very frustrated that boys weren’t ‘allowed’ to wear dresses. I liked to dress in my sister’s and my mother’s clothes, and I often went out in public in drag. (My mother, to her great credit, never prevented me or scolded me or created a fuss.) Using fiction to become a woman is perfect for men like me who no longer have the bravery they once had as a child—that is, men who have lost their balls.

How did you go about your research for Mrs Engels and what was the most surprising fact that you uncovered?mrs engels

I did a large amount of research—about a year of full-time work. (I was fortunate enough to have a scholarship from the University of East Anglia, which enabled me to devote all of my time to it.) Having Lizzie as a goal made the research extremely enjoyable. My reading ranged widely, from literature to history to biography to theory. I often got lost and drawn into stories that weren’t for me to tell.  But always there, in my mind and in my heart, driving and directing me, telling me which path to follow and which to ignore, what to keep and what to discard, was my image of Lizzie.

Of course, being fiction, the novel is also full of ‘my own’ memories, experiences, and emotions. I put quotation marks around ‘my own’ because in the course of writing Mrs Engels, I came to question the nature and meaning of ownership. Mrs Engels is a book populated by characters who believed that the modes of production (i.e. the sources of power and wealth) would one day be wrested from the wealthy minority and shared among the poor majority. So I was constantly asking myself what it means to own something: houses, money, experiences, ideas, emotions. Do we ever really own anything—even our thoughts, our bodies and our selves? Ultimately, I think the book asks: can Lizzie own her own destiny?

The two most surprising facts I discovered are revealed at the end of the novel. I don’t want to spoil the surprise!

For readers interested to find out more about the period, Frederick Engels and Karl Marx which books would you recommend? 

I would recommend starting with Engels’s exposé Condition of the Working Class in England, which is as relevant today as it ever was. Engels describes the poverty of Manchester in the 1840s but he could easily be talking about a factory town in China or Vietnam today. After that, I would dive into the Communist Manifesto. Like all good propaganda it’s a short and exhilarating read; brilliantly angry. Then I would give the first volume of Marx’s Capital a whirl. Capital is surprisingly readable and contains pretty much everything you need to know about Marx’s thought: his dialectical theory of historical stages, his materialist theory of history (the struggle of classes), an economic and moral critique of capitalist civilization, an economic demonstration that capitalism was bound to collapse, a call to revolutionary action, and a prediction that communism would be the next and final historical stage. I doubt Capital will convert you to communism but its criticisms of capitalism are as compelling today as when it was first published in 1867.

 The cover for the book is striking – can you tell us the story behind it?

My novel opens in 1870 with Lizzie and Engels moving from Manchester to their new house on Regent’s Park Road in London. At that time the nearby Regent’s Park zoo held a specimen of the now extinct ‘quagga’. The ‘quagga’ was a South African wild ass. Its front part resembled a zebra, but in the mid-section its stripes faded, and the spaces between them widened, leaving a brown hind quarter much like a donkey’s.

quagga

When the ‘quagga’ was ‘discovered’ by white explorers in 1778 it was categorised as a separate species. More recent genetic testing, however, revealed the ‘quagga’ to be merely a category of zebra and not a species at all.  The ‘quagga’, as a distinct animal, only ever existed as a kind of (white European) fiction.

The ‘quagga’ makes a small but significant appearance in Mrs Engels. I was drawn to the idea of a fictional animal that looked both common (donkey) and exotic (zebra). I liked that the ‘quagga’ was classed as unique for a couple of centuries and then, long after its extinction, was given back it ordinariness. I’d like to think that if ever Lizzie had a carriage of her own, it would be drawn by zebras dressed up to look like their extinct ‘quagga’ cousins.

And finally … what can we expect next from Gavin McCrea?

Mrs Engels is the first part of what will be the Wives of the Revolution Trilogy.

I’m currently working on the second book, The Sisters Mao, which tells the story of a London theatre family whose fate becomes bound with that of Jiang Qing, the actor wife of the Communist dictator Mao Zedong.

Thank you Gavin!

Mrs Engels is released in hardback and ebook formats on 1st May.

Find out more about Gavin and his writing at: http://www.gavinmccrea.com/

Please do check out the other stops on Gavin’s Mrs Engels blog tour this week.

Book review: The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank

26 Apr

hurricane sistersHurricane season begins early and rumbles all summer long – for three generations of one family, drama is headed in their direction too.

At eighty, determined matriarch Maisie Pringle is a force to be reckoned with. She will have the final word on everything, especially when she’s dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-age and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz’s beautiful twenty-something daughter, Ashley, dreams of a future that keeps them all at odds.

This storm season, Maisie, Liz, and Ashley will deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. Can they establish a new order for the future of the family?

This is the often hilarious, sometimes sobering but always entertaining story of how these unforgettable women became The Hurricane Sisters.

If you like strong (but flawed) female characters and family drama, The Hurricane Sisters is the novel for you. Telling the story of three generations of women from the same family, we meet grandmother Maisie, her daughter Liz and the youngest member of the dynasty, granddaughter Ashley who is in her twenties.

I was immediately drawn to the setting for this book. Dorothea Benton Frank’s descriptions of Charleston and the fading beach house that the family owns overlooking the harbour are wonderful. I have a huge love for books set in the American South and its clear that the author loves this part of the world too and the locations and characters have plenty of quirky Southern charm.

Family head Masie can only be described as a firecracker with her much younger boyfriend and her taste for adventure. The novel opens with her daughter collecting get from jail for a minor misdemeanour! She’s also wise and I liked her voice in the story a lot.

Liz took me longer to warm to; the book is narrated from multiple perspectives and my initial view of Liz was quite negative but as the story progressed that changed and the author cleverly shows another side to Liz with her charity work for women who have suffered domestic violence.

Domestic abuse is a strong theme in the novel and the statistics presented are eye opening. At times this makes for difficult reading but makes an important point and will raise awareness, particularly of how easy it is for women from any walk of life to find themselves in a relationship that isn’t good for them on many levels.

Aside from the key theme, there’s plenty of family drama to keep the story moving and hold interest and the mix of perspectives and personalities certainly kept me thinking about the nature of love and family relationships as I read. There were times when I wished there had been a deeper exploration of a character and their actions but overall I enjoyed discovering this book and a new author and will look forward to reading more from Dorothea Benton Frank in future. Fans of Debbie Macomber and Nora Roberts should certainly give her a try.

3/5

The Hurricane Sisters is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Dorothea and her novels at: http://www.dotfrank.com/

Author interview: Tess Woods

26 Apr

Today I’m delighted to welcome author Tess Woods to One More Page to talk about her debut novel, Love at First Flight. Tess is a health professional who lives in Perth, Australia with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over all of them. When she isn’t working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to the veggie patch. Welcome Tess!

Tess Woods Author photoPlease could you tell us a little about the inspiration behind Love at First Flight?

I’ve always been inspired by the tragic love story, the story of great love that just can’t be. My favourite book The Bridges of Madison County stayed with me years after reading it and played on my mind. Then I read Twilight and out of nowhere I had to write my own book. Before this I had never entertained the idea of writing. But the longing in Twilight and the knowing that the one you love is the one that is dangerous for you resonated with me and I just had to write about that. So with the themes of desire and danger, I wrote a book about a married mother, because I wanted to write of what I know. I wanted to bring the great love story into the world of the typical suburban mum who is chasing after kids, working and running a home. I wanted her to have that Romeo and Juliet moment. So I wrote ‘Love at First Flight’.

 Did you use real events/people from your own life as inspiration when writing Love at First Flight?

Hell yes! I really do believe you write what you know. Of course the novel is a novel, not a biography, and I credit my imagination for it, but I have definitely taken inspiration from events and people in my life.

It is no coincidence that Mel has long black hair and is a health professional who falls for a tall, dark, handsome and broody, moody physio. That’s me and my husband! But the great thing about writing is that I get to make Mel as hot as I like and morph her into someone as sexy as Angelina Jolie – hey, it’s my prerogative isn’t it? Matt’s parents are very much inspired by own mother and father in-law who lived out in the country on a sprawling property where we used to go to wind down from the city with them. Matt’s sister is a powerful human rights lawyer, just like two of my world-beating cousins. I even used my children’s names for characters – Tom, Lara and Lachlan. (Lara has a blink and you miss it part because I am saving her. I have big things planned for Lara in book two!)

And I incorporated many real life events into this fictional story. My husband and I tragically lost our third child Lachy at birth, my darling friend Jess committed suicide, my darling friend Julie fought a fierce battle with cancer and those stories and a few more events that shaped my life made it into the book. Writing was my counselling!

Also, I am inherently lazy so the fact that the story unfolds in Perth and Melbourne, the two cities I’ve lived in most of my life, is not by accident. The more you know, the less you research. Some writers thrive on research, me – not so much!

What do you hope readers will take from your book?

More than anything I want my readers to be entertained. I want them to escape whatever they are doing and join Mel and Matt in their story. I want readers to be thinking about Mel and what direction her life will take when they have to leave her to get on with their real lives, and I want them to be happy to re-unite with her again when they pick up the book. I’m not out to challenge anybody and I don’t have a world-changing message for anybody. I simply want to entertain. When readers finish Love at First Flight, I would hope they are satisfied and that it captured their imagination.

What do you love the most about Mel, the main character in your book?

I love that Mel is raw. She is openly vulnerable and tortured and she desperately needs attention. I want to help her dig her way out of the hole she is in and help her find inner peace and happiness.

Do you write with a plan or do you see where the story takes you?

I wrote Love at First Flight with no plan whatsoever. Often I would read over what I just wrote and be surprised that the story had gone in a new direction that I would never have expected. With the book I am writing now, Flat White with One, I am working with a plan but there is wriggle room in there. I think I prefer winging it and seeing what happens.

How did you come up with the title?LoveAtFirstFlighteCover

I didn’t! I came up with Flight. But I got a memo from my editor, Anna, that Flight could be about birds or kites and she wanted something that sold the story more. I received that email while I was having lunch with my friend Emma on her birthday. I complained and moaned about needing to change the title. Emma came up with Love at First Flight. I emailed Anna. She thought I was a genius. I happily took the credit!

Where is the novel set and why did you choose to set it there?

The novel is set in Perth and in Melbourne. These two Australian cities are where I have lived for most of my life so I know them really well and could easily create scenarios in recognisable places. I am parochial about Perth, especially our stunning coast line, since moving here twelve years ago, so I was happy at the excuse to gloat about it. Also, being inherently lazy when it comes to research, setting the book in Perth and Melbourne, meant that I had much less research to do!

What is it about this genre that appeals to you?

I love contemporary women’s fiction because I can easily relate to books that are set in today’s world with today’s issues. I love reading about strong women and seeing how they overcome their struggles. And I am in love with love so any romantic story will tug at my heart strings.

And finally … what can we expect next from Tess Woods?

I’m just about to get cracking on my second novel. Hopefully the ideas flow freely and I have more books in me.

Love At First Flight is out now in ebook formats from HarperCollins Australia

Book news: The Little Flower Shop by the Sea by Ali McNamara

26 Apr

As I was browsing for bookish treats the other day this lovely cover jumped out at me. As regular readers will know, I love all things seaside so this sounds like the perfect book for me and the fact that its by one of my favourite authors is the cherry on the cake. I can’t wait to grab a copy to take on my seaside summer holiday this year!

little flower shop by the sea

 

Poppy Carmichael, 30, certainly never intended to own a florist. But when she inherits her grandmother’s beloved flower shop on the beautiful Cornish coast, Poppy has no choice but to return to the pretty harbour town of St Felix where she spent much of her childhood. Returning to St Felix brings back sad memories for Poppy. But when she makes new friends such as local flower grower Jake, a young widowed father of two teenagers, Poppy begins to overcome her fears, and discover for herself what’s so special about this little flower shop by the sea.

The Little Flower Shop by the Sea will be released in July. You can keep up to date will all the news on this and Ali’s other books at: http://www.alimcnamara.co.uk/

Giveaway Winners: When We Were Friends by Tina Seskis

25 Apr

when we were friends

 

The winners are …

Laura Martin, Rain and Barry Lea

Congratulations! I have sent you an email. Thanks to everyone who entered. Look out for more giveaways very soon!

Book review: The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore by Pippa Wright

25 Apr

91pDmEPJHTLFriendship is like a shark: it has to keep moving forwards to survive.

Esther and Laura have been best friends since they were seven. Quite a bit has changed since then . . . They’ve swapped school for full-time employment, boyfriends for bugaboos, experimental hair-dye for salon-preened locks – and their friendship has evolved just as much. But they remain close, knitted together by the bonds of time . . .

So when Esther is told that Laura has gone missing, she immediately leaves her husband and small child for San Francisco and begins to 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.

I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of Pippa Wright’s other novels but I think The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore is her best yet. This tale of two friends who grew up together and their mutual love of one of my favourite actresses not only made me laugh and reminisce about my own younger days but also made me think about my friendships, how they have or haven’t lasted and why.

Esther and Laura meet when they are just seven years old. As they meet, the young Laura has just returned from living in America and is full of intrigue and glamour to Esther . As the girls form a bond that lasts through school, boyfriends, first jobs and more, this book tells it like it really is and it was refreshing to read a story that dealt with the downs of a long term friendship  as well as the many ups. Wright captures perfectly just how it is when a close friend is at a different place or stage of their life to you. I felt this book absolutely captured experiences I’ve had with my own friends and as the characters are the same age as me I identified with it a lot!

I also loved the way that Pippa worked Drew Barrymore into the plot – each chapter or set of chapters starts with a quote from a film that Drew has starred in starting with ET and working through Drew’s career. The links to the films are quite subtle in places and it was fun to see how many of the films I knew and look back at Drew Barrymore’s career to date.

When Esther gets a frantic phone call from Laura’s mother saying that she’s vanished she leaves her husband and baby and flies to California to try to track her down and as she searches for her friend we find out about their friendship in flashbacks. The mystery of Laura’s disappearance holds the story together and kept me turning the pages as I was desperate to know what had happened to her.

As characters there were things I liked and disliked about both girls. Laura is clearly troubled at many times in the story and I didn’t like the way that she’d treated Esther at points in their past. Similarly, there were times in the story that I thought Esther was hard on Lauraa but through love, breakups, loss and celebration the two have ultimately been there for each other and I loved that premise.

The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore is a funny and uplifting read that had me reminiscing about Sindy dolls, watching Neighbours after school and 90’s fashions. A fab read that focuses on the ups and downs of being best friends and shows that despite these, strong friendships can survive anything.

4/5

The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.

Giveaway! Three copies of When We Were Friends by Tina Seskis to be won!

17 Apr

Today I kicked off the blog tour for Tina Seskis’s exciting new novel, When We Were Friends. Tina’s publisher, Penguin have kindly given me three copies of the book to give away to lucky readers!

when we were friends

 

It had always been the six of us.

Since we met at university twenty-five years ago, we’d faced everything together. Break-ups and marriages, motherhood and death. We were closer than sisters; the edges of our lives bled into each other.

But that was before the night of the reunion. The night of exposed secrets and jagged accusations. The night when everything changed.

And then we were five.

To enter this giveaway just leave a comment in the box below and I’ll draw three winners using Random.org after the closing date.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Wednesday 22nd April.

Good luck!n