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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A Surprise Party by Sue Welfare

One idyllic family, or so it seemed! The party was supposed to be the ultimate surprise, but instead it turned out to be the most ordinary event of the day! When warring sisters Suzie and Liz come together to organise a 40th anniversary party for their parents, they struggle to keep their personal dramas in check and make it a magical day. Suzie is struggling to keep her marriage afloat and Liz is keen to retain her Queen Bee status. Their aunt and mother are much the same, with Lilly and Fleur at loggerheads over their very different lives. Meanwhile Suzie's daughters Hannah and Megan are learning that growing up isn't as easy as their parents profess. As the champagne flows and the drama unfolds, it quickly becomes clear that this is a party that no-one will ever forget -- but will there be a happy family left at the end? A wondrous tale about the joys of family and how sparse our lives would be without them! A perfect read for fans of Carole Matthews and Kathy Lette. This is a book about a family organising and celebrating 40 years of marriage of Rose and Jack. The book is also about sisters - Rose and Fleur, Rose's daughters Suzie and Liz, and Suzie's daughters Hannah and Megan. As with all families, there are secrets, however, not all secrets are found out the night a surprise party is arranged for a 40th wedding anniversary. Relatives and guests invited to the original wedding are invited to help celebrate along with new friends and family. There are three generations of sisters, and each generation have their own secrets and problems throughout the book Fleur moved to Australia and appears to have left her male companion on the day she travelled to England. Suzie has done most of the planning and setting up of the party, whereas Liz has paid for it but not helping much as she is a TV star. Hannah and Megan are the youngsters - Hannah has got in with a bad crowd, drinks and drugs are offered, what will Hannah decide. Megan is trying not to appear the youngster and is a solid source of help to Suzie. But what is the secret that Suzie and her male friend Matt appear to be hiding, Suzie is happily married to Max but appears to be sharing a secret future with Matt. The story is a great easy read, with characters that you can warm to and I enjoyed reading it, finding out the next secret that would be uncovered. There were a couple that I guessed but then others I was way of the mark, although I think I was led that way in the story and then surprised at the last minute. The three generations of family was a great side to the story, each generation having their own problems, dealt with in their own ways. The story is basically one day - the day of the party, however there is enough that happens on that day to fill the book! It is not the conventional chick lit book - I think that is aimed at the 30 and 40 year old chick lit lovers, but don't let that put you off, all ages will enjoy the read. Thank you to Avon for sending me the book to review.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Casper Candlewack's in Death by Pigeon by Ivan Brett

Casper Candlewacks is the only boy with any sense in a village full of idiots! a hilarious debut novel from the funniest new voice in young fiction. But don't just take our word for it! Jeremy Strong has hailed it "a funny and engaging debut". Most villages have an idiot but Casper's village is full of them. So being bright makes poor Casper something of an outsider. When famous magician the Great Tiramisu curses the village, Casper's father is blamed and sentenced to death by pigeon. It's up to Casper and his best friend to find the magician, reverse the curse and save the day. A riotous tale that proves all you really need in life is a buggy that runs on washing-up liquid and a couple of boys to crash it.

This book is brilliant - for children (although I think it will appeal directly to boys) who love getting up to mischief and causing mayhem.

Casper is an ordinary boy, who does well at school, was able to write using joined up handwriting, knew his times tables and understood French. However, the rest of Corne-on-the-Knobb were anything but ordinary.

Sitting in geography class one day, he was surprised when the teacher anounced a change to the class that day, The Great Tiramisu was to visit the town the next day and they would be drawing pictures to welcome him to the village. Casper did not want to have anything to do with the project and got himself into trouble.

Other child characters included Caper's wannabe best friend Lamp, an inventor, and Anemonie Blight, the class bullly and teachers pet.

Casper's home life was no more ordinary, with a mother who had collapsed since having his sibling (no one got close enough to see it was a girl or boy), and a father who was a chef by night and looked after the sibling by day.

The story is one of funny interludes which will have youngsters full of laughter and a great story which moves at a fast pace enticing children to keep reading to find out what happens to Casper.

I would recommend it to all, either to read alone or share with others at story time. A great debut by Ivan Brett, an author who I look forward to reading more from in the future.

Thank you to Harper Collins Children for sending me the book to review.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Madame Prunier's Fish Cookery Book

This important new series rediscovers the original heroes of cookery. Reissuing texts that for decades have been available only to collectors of old books, each title has been redesigned giving the original text an updated yet timeless look for today's reader. These classic voices convey the flavour of their times and yet are astonishingly relevant to the modern reader. With two more titles to follow in September, this series will establish itself as an exciting new source of reference and inspiration for all food lovers. First published in 1938, the original editor of Madame Prunier's Fish Cookery Book, Ambrose Heath, described it as 'a really thrilling book...that should take its place among the classics of the kitchen'. This is certainly as true today as when Madame Prunier first wrote her Advice on Buying fish and Elementary Rules for Cooking Fish. Simple but wonderful recipes for Savoury Butters and Sauces, Soups, Fresh-Water fish, Salt-Water Fish and Shellfish include such delights as Crayfish Barquettes, Clam Risotto, Devilled Herrings and Sole Souffle, fulfilling the original ambition of the book to 'keep all the cooks in Britain busy for some time'.

This book is the perfect gift for fish lovers everywhere! The book is packed full to the brim with recipes for every kind of fish and for any occasion. With this book on your recipe shelf, no more are required.

The book is part of a great new series of books by Quadrille Publishers, reissuing old favorites. The book looks like a classic text, as with a collectors edition of fiction classics, it has a heritage blue cover, with silver edged pages and a ribbon bookmark (i love books with ribbon bookmarks included). Flicking through the book, the reader sees pencil drawings of fish, realistic and detailed drawings.

At the start of the book, before any recipes is a conversion chart - not hidden in the back with the index. There then follows advice on buying and cooking fish, written in plain English with easy to follow directions.

There is a section on garnishes, on savoury butters and sauces, hors d'oeuvre, soups, fresh water fish, salt water fish, shell fish and the final section is on turtle, frogs and snails. Each section is filled with many recipes written in plain English and concisely. The book finishes with a short glossary of names and terms used in cooking. The recipes are old fashioned, the book was originally published in 1938, and are therefore not for the health conscious but the book will have fish lovers having lots of ideas for new meals.

I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine program.

New Beginnings by Fern Britton

A warm, witty and wise debut about the ups and downs of life as a TV presenter Christie Lynch's life is about to change -- for ever. A journalist and single mother of two, she can't believe her luck when she is spotted by a talent agent during an appearance on daytime TV show, Tart Talk. Soon the nation's sweetheart, Christie can't help but love her new job and, for the first time in years, she can mend her leaking roof and buy her kids, Libby and Freddie, a few treats. But as her career soars, Christie's forced to spend more and more time away from her kids and from Richard -- the gorgeous single dad she recently met at the school gate. Can Christie find a way to balance her role as a mother with her increasingly demanding job? And will she make it in the cut-throat world of TV? Whatever happens, Christie's going to give it all she's got! Warm, witty and wise, New Beginnings is a behind-the-scenes look at the ups and downs in the life of a daytime TV presenter.

When I chose this book I was really looking forward to reading it. Fern Britton was brilliant on This Morning, comical and witty and I hoped that style would come out in her writing, however I was disappointed.

The book tells the story of Christie Lynch who, after an appearance on Tart Talk, is offered the opportunity to sign with a media agent. The agent arranges a meeting with T7, and she is offered a job on Good Evening Britain, covering for a pregnant with triplets, anchorwoman.

The story tells of the ups and downs of working in television and throughout the book, flashbacks are written about Christie and her recently deceased husband. Christie manages to move on in her own life, and is helped by her own mother, and their two children. Family life is hectic and Christie finds the work-home life balance difficult. With a potential new male lover on the horizon and the uncertainty about her agent and her financial situation, her daughter, who is struggling with being the daughter of a TV star, worries teachers, her nan and Christie is unsure what to do.

The book was in parts, a good read, however there were great chunks of it that I found too wordy, too much descriptive wording in parts. The story was believable and I am sure that their must be dubious agents not telling their clients how much they really earn (although these must be few and far between).

There were parts of the book that I enjoyed and it was basically a good story but not what I was hoping would be Fern's style of writing. It is a good book for an easy read, relaxed weekend, sort of read and I would be interested in reading any further books by Fern to see how her writing style develops.

I received this book via the Amazon Vine program.

Friday, 18 March 2011

William and Kate: The Royal Wedding (Ladybird)

This is a very special Ladybird souvenir book to commemorate the engagement and impending marriage of HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton. Learn about how they met, their growing romance, the engagement and their wedding plans. There are also fascinating facts about previous royal weddings, including that of William's parents HRH Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
When I was younger, I collected books about the British Monarchy. I have passed on many of the books, keeping only a few books which were special. I managed to get first editions of most of the ladybird special royal family books - the commemenorative editions to celebrate the weddings of both Prince Charles to Princess Diana and also Prince Andrew to Sarah Ferguson and other ladybird books, including The Queen and The Queen Mother.
When the announcement was made of the engagement and the subsequent naming of the day for Prince William and Kate I have been looking at the books released to celebrate the occasion, waiting for Ladybird to bring out their book to add to my collection and here it is!
I was initially disappointed as it was in a different format to the rest of my collection. It is not the same size as the rest of my collection. However, as soon as i opened the book I was glad to see the content is as good as ever. The royal family tree is included of the house of Windsor. The book is full of beautiful photographs of the couple and Williams family.
The book includes a brief summary of both William and Kate's life so far, their meeting at university and their relationship's ups and down, the proposal and their lives now. There is a page about Diana, the Princes of Wales and also Kate's fashion (no comparison made to Diana). There are pages relating to the wedding venue, Westminster Abbey and also a look back at the royal weddings of the past, along with a look to the future for the royal couple.
I really enjoyed looking through this book. The photographs are beautiful, with both posed pictures, but also photographs taken when they are off guard, relaxed in their lives. A nice introduction to the future King of England and his wife to be with a look at their lives and a look back at royal weddings of the past.
Well done to Ladybird - another book to add to my collection.
Thank you to Ladybird for sending me the book to review.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly

In tough times, crime is one of the few things that still pays, but if defense attorney Mickey Haller was expecting an uptick in business during the economic downturn, the reality is a different story. Even people needing legal representation to keep them out of jail are having to make cut-backs, it seems. In fact, the most significant part of Mickey's business right now is not about keeping clients out of jail but about keeping a roof over their heads, as the foreclosure boom hits thousands of people who were granted unrealistic mortgages in the good times and now face being kicked to the curb by ruthless corporations. Lisa Trammel had been a client of Mickey's for eight months - his very first foreclosure case, in fact - and although so far he'd managed to stop the bank from taking her house, the strain and sense of injustice are beginning to take their toll, and the bank had recently got a restraining order to prevent her protesting against their fraudulent practices. But now the bank's CEO, Mitchell Bondurant, has been found in the bank's car park with a bullet in his brain, and Lisa is about to be indicted for murder. For Mickey, it's back to what he does best on the biggest stage of all, but if he thought defending Lisa Trammel was going to be a walk in the park, he'd be wrong. Not only is he about to learn some startling truths about his client, but also about himself, and by the time the verdict is in, Mickey's whole world will have been turned upside down.

I am a great fan of Michael Connelly and each year look forward to his new release. Michael has two main characters which each have their own series of books - Harry Bosch and Michael Haller. In Michael's previous book, The Reversal, the two men met up and worked together however this book is Michael Haller - a defense lawyer who has been has been working with people trying to save their home when illegal foreclosure's are pending. However, one of his client's, Lisa Trammel, needs his defense skills when she is arrested and charged with the murder of Mitchell Bondurant, the man who signed the letters actioning the foreclosure of her home loan. She has the motive, has been sighted near the location of the murder at the right time and the murder weapon is found with DNA evidence - but did she commit the crime??

The book tells the story of the case and trial against Trammel and Haller's case against what the prosecution allege has happened. The case is a strong one and Haller believes his client's innocence bringing in experts to disprove the prosecutions case. The case and evidence is complicated, however, as ever, Connelly keeps the readers attention with his sharp and precise writing, allowing yourself to believe you are in the courtroom watching the case. The case is exciting and interesting - who knew so much could be learnt from a skull about a head wound - with much detail being provided in Connelly's writing.

The case ends and the book ends not long after - however, not before Connelly puts in one of his spectacular twists, one that was eluded to previously in the book, however one which seemed an insignificant detail but of course that is the key to a good case, finding that hidden detail. I will not spoil it here but it was a very clever one! Well done Michael - another excellent read!!

I recommend this book to all crime fans - Michael Conelly fans or new readers to this excellent author.

Thank you to Waterstones for sending me this book to review.

Monday, 14 March 2011

The Ultimate Book of Baby Knits by Debbie Bliss

Having brought up two children of her own, Debbie is all too aware of the practical aspects of designing for babies and children. The Ultimate Book of Baby Knits is a charming collection of practical, yet beautiful, hand-knit garments, toys and other nursery essentials that will delight every new parent and their baby. To make up this compendium, Debbie Bliss has selected her 50 favourite projects from her three most recent books (Blankets Bears and Bootees, Simply Baby, and Essential Baby) to provide a core collection not just for newborn babies but also for toddlers up until the age of two years. Catering to all your baby's knitwear needs, this collection includes everything from the quintessential baby blankets, teddy bears and bootees through to a hooded wrap, snug duffel coat and felted slippers. All 50 projects are knitted in beautiful, classic yarns that are not only soft and gentle against a young skin, but are also low-maintenance in that they are easy to wash and care for, to ensure that baby is kept wonderfully snug and cosseted right through its first stages in life. The Ultimate Book of Baby Knits is the perfect project book for anyone struggling to find smart contemporary knitwear designs for their baby or toddler.

This is the second Debbie Bliss book I have reviewed and I am equally impressed by this one as the first book I reviewed.

The patterns included in this book have been selected from three past books by Debbie; Simply Baby; Essential Baby and Blankets; and Bears and Bootees, and therefore fans of Debbie Bliss may already have many of these patterns.

I really like the set up of Debbie's books; easy instructions, simple layout and beautiful photographs. The book starts with an introduction by Debbie, explaining her love of designing baby items and also the importance of choosing the right yarn when knitting for newborns. There next follows a great knitting basics section where the types of yarns are detailed in greater detail (although the list includes only Debbie Bliss branded yarn, which can work out rather expensive), basic garment care and then the main proportion of this chapter is on techniques, which I have found very useful. I can knit but I found following the instructions in this section on the techniques a good refresher, as well as encouraging me to try techniques I have yet to master, including cabling.

The remainder of the book is filled with patterns: cardigans; blankets; toys; booties; dresses and shawls are to name just a few of the projects included. The patterns are written concisely and clearly and all are accompanied by beautiful photographs of the finished items. Each pattern begins with the finished size, the materials required, the recommended tension and any abbreviations specific to the pattern.

I would recommend this book to both new and advanced knitters, the patterns include something for all levels of knitter. It would make a perfect gift for a nanny to be, a mum to be with time on her hands or to be a new addition to a knitters library of patterns.

Thank you to Quadrille Publishers for sending me the book to review.

See Inside Science by Alex Frith (Usborne)

Fabulous flap book that demonstrates basic scientific ideas in a simple and engaging way. Each double page shows key ideas from a different branch of science, including astronomy, ecology, chemistry and physics. Reveals the secrets of how our world works and provides children with a strong foundation in science. With over 50 embedded flaps to lift.

This series of books are fantastic! Children of all ages will adore these books - with flaps to open, uncovering lots of hidden information to be found on each page.
There are nine sections in the book: In the beginning; Heavenly bodies; Life as we know it; The smallest things, The secret behind everything; Mixed reactions; Putting things together; See into the future and What's what.
There are lots of facts to discover - some will help with homework, others will wow teachers due to the strange facts you can discover in this book.
There is much to learn from this book - although some of the information could be difficult to understand, this book explains it in a way that children will understand and I think it will also encourage further investigation - through other books or the Internet. A great book to introduce children of all ages to science!

I recommend this as a great present to give to a child who is beginning to ask How or Why? An introduction to science, in child friendly language, which will give children the insight into a subject they will hopefully want to learn more about after reading this book.

Thank you to Amy for sending me this book to review.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Don't Shoot, I'm Not Well by Sean Brickell

THIS BOOK CONTAINS SOME POWERFUL, PRACTICAL, CONFIDENCE TECHNIQUES THAT WILL TRANSFORM YOUR WORK AND LIFE WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT. Do you want...- MORE SOCIAL CONFIDENCE to make you more popular? - MORE EMOTIONAL CONFIDENCE to make you more attractive? - MORE CONFIDENCE AT WORK so you get paid more & promoted? - CONFIDENCE TO ENJOY more adventure and excitement in your life? - CONFIDENCE TO GRAB more life-changing opportunities? If the answer to any of these is 'Yes', then the highly practical and realistic Don't Shoot - I'm Not Well! will give you the skills and the mindset you need. The techniques in the book will help you deal with rude, bitchy & patronising people; ask women or men out; gain sexual confidence; deal with a critical partner or parent; network effectively; cope with setbacks; and more. They are explained by someone who's used them successfully: when held at gunpoint; in a war zone; during undercover work; when making a profitable difference at major public corporations; and in many other random situations. Learning these techniques will energise and empower you, and you will enjoy the colourful, down-to-earth, no-nonsense, witty and highly effective way the book sets about teaching them to you. The book also includes case studies of real people who have used them to transform their lives.

This book says on the cover "Confidence for when you really need it" and is endorsed by Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

The book starts by explaining the core of confidence and the difference between self confidence and self esteem followed by what confidence can achieve and also what affects confidence. Two important chapters which really made me think about myself and how I need to believe in my abilities more.

The book has sections on both confidence for life and confidence for non-work life situations and covers a wide variety of topics including: job interviews, difficult colleagues; asking for pay rise/promotion; job image; starting your own business; talking to people you don't know; sexual confidence; physical confidence and being held at gunpoint to name but a few.

The chapters are accompanied by many cartoon sketches and interspersed with real life stories.
The book is written in plain English and the chapters are split into manageable chunks and can be dipped into as and when needed. They include many useful questions to ask of yourself or important points to consider in bullet point format, which makes it easier to pick out and consider.

I think this book will be beneficial to many people who do have a confidence issue, myself included. It is written in clear, manageable steps to develop a persons confidence.

Thank you to Michael from The School Run Forum for sending me the book to review.

Take Turns, Max and Millie by Felicity Brooks and Desideria Guicciardini

This is a delightful new title for the very young, with a simple story teaching good habits and good manners. This charming story follows two young friends, Max and Millie, as they learn about the simple concept of taking turns, so children can learn from their example. Simple, repetitive text makes this title easy and enjoyable to read to very young children.

This is a board book by Usborne. The book is brightly coloured with a cheerful cover I am sure will stand out on a book shelf anywhere.

The book tells the story of Max and Millie, friends, who both want to play with the red car at nursery. They learn how to play together and take turns.

The pages are all bright and cheerful with lovely pictures. The characters are really cute and accompany the story well. The story is printed in clear text with some words being stressed on the page to accompany the pictures.

There are three books in the series - Brush your teeth Max and Millie; Take Turns, Max and Millie; and Time for Bed, Max and Millie. I am sure they will become great accompaniments in nurseries, schools and homes everywhere as Max and Millie teach children the importance of going to bed, brushing your teeth and taking turns.

Thank you to Amy at Usborne for sending me the book to review.

Birdman by Mo Hayder

Greenwich, south-east London Detective Inspector Jack Caffery - young, driven, unshockable - is called to one of the most gruesome crime scenes he has ever seen. Five young women have been ritualistically murdered and dumped on wasteland near the Dome. Subsequent post-mortems reveal a singular, horrific signature linking the victims. Soon Caffery realizes that he is on the trail of that most dangerous offender: a serial killer. Beset by animosity within the police force, haunted by the memory of a very personal death long ago, Caffery employs every weapon forensic science can offer to hunt him down. Because he knows that it is only a matter of time before this sadistic killer strikes again...

This was my third and final book for the Transworld Crime Caper and is the first book in the Jack Caffery series.

Five prostitutes have been murdered and one thing links them all - a bird is placed inside each body before being buried. The book follows the police investigation, which has two officers following different leads. However, the investigating team did eventually work together to solve the case.

At the start of the book I was drawn into the story however as i got further into the book, and especially the last few chapters I found the story got very gruesome, which was the climax of the case, however I did find it a bit too much.

I liked Mo Hayder's style of writing and it was great to see a book set in England. The police investigation was exciting and I could see the book made into a film, maybe toning down some of the gruesome scenes. Hayder's style of writing was very descriptive and there were parts of the book that i could imagine the scene clearly, not the murders thankfully, and I will be looking out for other books from the author to see what Caffery investigates next.

Thank you to Transworld for the Transworld Crime Caper. I have found two authors that I will definitely be reading more from (Tess Gerritsen and Mo Hayder) and one that I may read again, Niamh O' Conner, although I was not so keen on this author.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

RSVP by Helen Warner

Four women, one wedding and a day to remember - or rather forget ...Anna's world is rocked when she receives an invitation to her ex Toby's nuptials - Toby was The One, The Love of Her Life, The One That Got Away. Will attending his Big Day finally give her the sense of closure she so desperately craves? Or will it only re-open old wounds? Clare is Anna's best friend, the person who was there for her when she and Toby split all those years ago. But little does Clare know that Toby's wedding day will also change her own life for ever. Ella is a classic femme fatale. She loves men and leaves them without a backward glance. But the one person who's never fallen for her charms is Toby. As he prepares to get hitched, is it too late for a last-ditch attempt to win his heart? Finally, Rachel is the blushing bride-to-be. This should be the happiest day of her life. So how come she feels nothing but a terrible sense of foreboding?

The first thing to mention about the book is the cover -Wow - it is beautiful. The style of the cover reminds me of an expensive wedding invitation, the silver embossing will make the cover stand out on the shelf and I hope, draw customers to it instantly. I also liked the old fashioned ribbon book mark that was included in the hardback edition - a very useful inclusion.

The book starts with a situation many people must dread, a wedding invitation arriving, inviting you to the wedding of your first love. That is exactly what happens to Anna, who was Toby's boyfriend through University before they split up suddenly following a party.

The story is told by many people, in chapters, each person telling the story; Anna (Toby's childhood sweetheart); Ella (the scorned lover); Rachel (the bride to be); and Clare (Anna's uni and current flatmate).

There are a number of storylines throughout this book; the main story is the wedding of Toby and Rachel. how Anna reacts, memories and feelings that have tried to be forgotten becoming prominent; but also Rachel never knew about Anna, and now she does, she realises that Toby has never talked about her, but has many photos from the time hidden in his old room at home; Clare also plays a big part in the book - she knows why Anna and Toby broke up and helped Anna through the breakup and helped her rebuild her life. Ella played a big part in the break up but now she is married to a man many years older than her, who has been alienated by his family following the death of his wife and his introduction of Ella to his family.

I will not spoil what happens on Toby and Rachel's wedding day but there are many consequences of that day which will affect every main character for many years to come.

The story flowed consistently throughout the book and I enjoyed hearing the story from different perspectives. The story jumps from present day, back in time throughout the book and the author divulges secrets from the past explaining the events of present day.

I found some parts of the book were slightly rushed, but on the whole I enjoyed the book immensely. There were a number of sub-plots which appeared throughout the book and I think that the characters could be developed further to produce a second outing for them in the future.

I enjoyed Helen Warner's writing style and I hope this is the first of many more books that will be appearing from Simon and Schuster in the future.

Thank you to to Simon and Schuster for sending me this book to review.

The Way to a Woman's Heart by Christina Jones

Cooking seemed like the perfect distraction - until a delicious chef was thrown in the mix ...Escaping from corporate city life into the heart of the Berkshire countryside, Ella Maloney hopes to find rural tranquillity and a chance to sort out the problems in her long-term relationship. On arriving, she realises tranquillity is in short supply, but welcomes the distraction her chaotic new life offers - until she meets devastatingly gorgeous, but equally attached, chef Ash Lawrence, and realises that he's maybe one distraction too many. And when Ella's favourite top-rated TV cookery programme - Dewberry's Dinners - comes looking for a venue to film their latest show, she pulls out all the culinary stops in an attempt to keep her mind on the task in hand (and not on the sexy Ash), but it's hard to keep your head when all around you people are losing theirs ...

This was the first book I have read by Christina Jones, but it definitely won't be my last. I have found another chick-lit author to read. I really enjoyed Christina's style of writing, it flowed effortlessly and I was able to loose myself in the book, frequently loosing time when I picked up the book.

The book is about Ella Maloney, who has left her job in London, and her long term boyfriend behind and taken a job as a mother's help. The job is in a small village, and the house is called Hideaway Farm - a great description as it is very difficult to find, as Ella found out when she travelled there for the first time. The mother Ella is helping, Poll, is a single mother who lives in an impressive farmhouse with her young son, but as soon as Ella arrives, she realises Poll is not telling her everything. Ella soon finds out that Poll has invited three other people to live in her home, waifs and strays who have suffered personal tragedy in their lives, but has Poll invited them to live there because she wants to help them, or has she got ulterior motives?

There is a love story throughout the book, Ella instantly falls for her new housemate, Ash, but when he arrives home, in his new company vehicle, an ice cream van, with gorgeous, exotic dancer Onyx, Ella instantly thinks she has no chance, and anyway she is in a long term and long distance relationship with Mark.

The village names throughout the book are those strange, odd names that sound so strange you instantly know they must exist Hazy Hassocks, Bagley-cum-Russet to name but a few. Each village has the variety of villagers that I picture would live in a tiny village, where community is high and village gossip flowing. When Ella visits Patsy's Pantry, the villagers are out in force, trying to find out about her and sharing what they have heard and think about Poll's idea of moving waifs and strays in to Hideaway Farm.

The story also includes a TV cooking programme, 'Dewberry's Dinners' which sounds like a cross between Come Dine with me and Masterchef and I really enjoyed the scenes which included this programme; the two married hosts who barely speak to each other off camera, but present the vision of a happy partnership, who bounce off each other with funny banter at all times on screen, the female presenter who travels with her own personal stylist, make up artist, hairdresser and wardrobe team, the male presenter who mucks in with the production team, sharing a few cans with staff before and after filming, acting as one of the lads.

I really enjoyed the book and enjoyed the slight twist at the end. There was a strong storyline throughout the book and I liked the happy ending which finished the book. I liked the characters and I think the house sounds like a great place to live (well except the creature living in Ash's room), where you couldn't feel alone, would have lots of fun and the house would be constantly filled with the smell of cooking filtering from the kitchen at all times.

I would recommend this book to all chick lit fans but also to people who want an easy read, something to curl up with on a cold evening or on a sun lounger!

Thank you to Oasis for sending me this book to review as part of their book club.