Book Review: Based On A True Story by Delphine de Vigan

What’s it about?

Overwhelmed by the huge success of her latest novel, exhausted and suffering from a crippling inability to write, Delphine meets L.

L. embodies everything Delphine has always secretly admired; she is a glittering image of feminine sophistication and spontaneity and she has an uncanny knack of always saying the right thing. Unusually intuitive, L. senses Delphine’s vulnerability and slowly but deliberately carves herself a niche in the writer’s life. However, as L. makes herself indispensable to Delphine, the intensity of this unexpected friendship manifests itself in increasingly sinister ways. As their lives become more and more entwined, L. threatens Delphine’s identity, both as a writer and as an individual.

My thoughts

I’ve got to admit this book did take some getting into as I wasn’t and still am not entirely sure what is was that I was reading.  Was it a memoir, pure fiction, or a mixture of both?  I also felt confused about the books the characters were talking about and the realisation that the book that pushed Delphine into the limelight isn’t this one I’m reading.  Having got passed my own confusion, this book is so unnerving with the inference of a deadly sense of foreboding that you’re just waiting for something awful to happen, which of course, makes you read faster to find out.

The author has this way of depicting how easy it is for a person to manipulate and embed themselves in another’s life, it’s very cleverly plotted and crafted but underneath all of it, it’s still at the back of my mind – is this real, did this happen to her? I still don’t know!

If you like plots that are full of drip-fed suspense and are reminiscent of the movies Single White Female and Stephen King’s Misery this is for you.  I was excited to discover that is has been adapted into a French movie so you never know it may be translated and released at a later date.

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Goodreads

Small print for info
Source: ARC – many thanks!
No of pages: 384
Publisher:  Bloomsbury

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Book Review: The Dish by Stella Newman

What’s it about?

When Laura Parker first crosses forks with Adam Bayley, she’s only after one thing: his custard doughnut. But when she takes a closer look she sees a talented, handsome man who outshines the string of jokers she’s been dating.

There’s just one problem. Adam’s job means Laura has to keep her job as restaurant critic for The Dish, a secret. Tricky for someone who prides herself on honesty.

Can the truth be put on ice long enough for love to flourish?

And how can you expect your boyfriend to be honest if you’re not quite telling the truth yourself?

My thoughts

This is another ARC that had been on my book shelf for far too long and I’m really glad I finally got round to picking it up.  It’s very rare that I choose a women’s fiction, specifically a chick-lit novel, but I’ve got to say I really enjoyed this and would love it to have had a sequel.

From the outset I enjoyed the humour of main character Laura and her witty restaurant reviews.  The one in contention for the most part of the book was hilarious.  I also liked that it wasn’t overly schmoozy and lovey-dovey, it was pitched just right for me.  In fact my own teeny-weeny issue with the book is that a lot of the conversation takes place in email, there’s so many I find it slightly grating having to check and double check who the conversation is between but I can understand the need for it.

I also really enjoyed all the food and baking references so if you’re a foody looking for a delightful rom-drama this could really tickle your fancy so to speak 😉

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: ARC – many thanks!
No of pages: 407
Publisher: Headline

#BookReview: The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood

What’s it about?

For years, guitarist Quinn Porter has been on the road, chasing gig after gig, largely absent to his twice-ex-wife Belle and their odd, Guinness records-obsessed son. When the boy dies suddenly, Quinn seeks forgiveness for his paternal shortcomings by completing the requirements for his son’s unfinished Boy Scout badge. For seven Saturdays, Quinn does yard work for Ona Vitkus, the wily 104-year-old Lithuanian immigrant the boy had visited weekly. Quinn soon discovers that the boy had talked Ona into gunning for the world record for Oldest Licensed Driver — and that’s the least of her secrets. Despite himself, Quinn picks up where the boy left off, forging a friendship with Ona that allows him to know the son he never understood, a boy who was always listening, always learning. The One-in-a-Million Boy is a richly layered novel of hearts broken seemingly beyond repair and then bound by a stunning act of human devotion.

My thoughts

This was our latest book club read and if I’m being totally honest I went into it thinking it wouldn’t be my cup of tea.  My mum picked it and she tends to pick crime thrillers or books like Harold Fry and The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year – neither of these I particularly liked either.

You get the gist of the book from the blurb above but the first thing that I didn’t love was that not one person throughout this book acknowledges “the boy” by his name.  I just didn’t get that.  At our book group discussion one member said that the author defends this in her acknowledgements in the paperback version but as I was reading the hardback – this isn’t mentioned.  I’m also not keen on having bits of the book explained to me in the acknowledgements as I rarely read them but also it seems a bit of a cop out.

In all honesty I really don’t think I understood this book and I do think this is down to me and this being a character driven novel.  I much prefer a plot driven book that has pace and will make me feel something more than a bit meh about it.

Having said that Ona is a great character with a wicked dry sense of humour that does make parts of the book really shine.  I also had a soft spot for Quinn, the underdog wayward father, where in actual fact I think the author was aiming for the reader’s sympathy to lie with Belle but I just didn’t like or connect with her at all.

Overall, one for you if you like slow moving plots but with deep characters.  A 3* read for me.

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Website

Small print for info
Source: Library
No of pages: 432
Publisher: Headline

Eton Mess Cake

This recipe is courtesy of the BBC Good Food website which I picked as I had some end of life strawberries to use up and was perfect for afternoon tea with the family when they recently visited.

What you need:

225g plain flour
100g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
200g golden caster sugar
175g unsalted butter
5 tbsp double cream
1 tsp vanilla
5 large eggs
400g strawberries – ½ roughly chopped, ½ finely sliced
4 meringues nests (roughly broken up)
Sprinkle of icing sugar, to serve

What you do:

  1. Grease and line a deep traybake tin (ideally 20x30cm, although mine isn’t quite that).  Heat your oven to 160°c.
  2. Melt the butter then take off the heat and stir in the cream and the vanilla.
  3. Mix the flour, almonds, baking powder and ¼ tsp fine salt and set aside.
  4. Put the caster sugar and eggs into a large bowl, and whisk with electric whisk until very thick and foamy, this takes about 5-6 mins.
  5. Pour in the butter mix, whisk, then add the flour mix and whisk briefly again until mixed.
  6. Stir in the chopped strawberries, then pour the batter into the tin and level the top.
  7. Sprinkle the sliced strawberries and meringue over the cake.
  8. Bake for 40-45 mins until risen and a skewer comes out clean.  I did end up increasing my oven’s heat to 180°c for the final 15 mins as it wasn’t baking or rising.
  9. Cool for 20 mins in the tin, then transfer to a cooling rack.
  10. Serve with a sprinkle of icing sugar if required.

There’s nothing particularly healthy or reduced anything about this recipe so I had a day off from the dieting plan!

Until next time….happy baking!

Mini #book #reviews

In an attempt to get myself up to date and back in the blogging swing of things, I’ve put together these mini book reviews.  The fact that they are mini has nothing to do with quality or enjoyment, this is purely a way to get me back on track!

So, here’s what I’ve read recently:

The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer
Goodreads | Amazon

An advanced reader copy that’s been on my shelf for well over a year! Bad book blogger!

I was hoping for a mystery involving a kidnapped child, which in the most part it is which very much reminded me of Madeleine McCann, although this isn’t a police procedural.  I was totally not expecting the supernatural element which just smacked me in the face with disbelief.  I don’t do supernatural unfortunately. 3*

 


An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth
Goodreads | Amazon

Yet another ARC that slipped by the wayside 😦

This reminded me of the historical sexual abuse allegations that have cropped up recently and often doesn’t make for a comfortable read, but then I guess real life is often like that.  An ok whoactuallydunnit novel although I preferred Colette’s first novel The Life I Left Behind.  3*

 

 


The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Goodreads | Amazon

My daughter gave me this to read as she needed someone to discuss it with.  It’s definitely one of those you need to chat about as this one will totally mess with your head over who did what.  A proper gripping twisty book that I read in less than 48 hours. 4*

 

 

 


How do you keep on top of your reviews, do you do them straight away or knock out a batch at a time?