Monday, 29 June 2015

The Confectioner's Tale - Laura Madeleine

What secrets are hiding in the heart of Paris?
At the famous Patisserie Clermont in Paris, 1909, a chance encounter with the owner’s daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air.
But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins.
Almost eighty years later, an academic discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words ‘Forgive me’. Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal.

The story in this book alternates between 1988 in England and 1910 in Paris. 
In 1910 we have Gui and his story, whilst in 1988 we have Petra an academic who find amongst her deceased Grandfathers papers a photograph from Paris in 1910. 
To begin with I found it a little slow in 1988 and was glad when the book went back to 1910, but slowly the pace picks up in 1988 as the mystery deepens and Petra becomes a sleuth. I did find there was equal suspense in each of the decades and a cliffhanger ending left you want more.
I presume the author chose the 1980s as with modern day technology and social media this mystery would have been solved much quicker! So the 1980s suits the pace of the tale and has a little mystery of its own too.
I loved the social history aspect of the book regarding Paris in 1910 - so much that we take for granted today was simply a scandal back then. I was also glad I had watched the Great British Bake Off as otherwise I would simply not have been able to visualise some of the patisserie that were created other than choux buns.
All in all a good tale with an ending that I will not spoil for you. Suffice to say it had a sweet little twist!

My thanks to Netgalley for a free e copy of the book to review.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Techbitch - Lucky Sykes and Jo Piazza

Imogen Tate, editor-in-chief of Glossy magazine, is a legend in the fashion world. But when she returns from a sabbatical to find her twenty-six-year-old former assistant, Eve Morton, behind her desk, she realises times are changing.
Armed with a business degree, naked ambition and an iPhone, Eve announces she has been brought in to turn Imogen's beloved magazine into an app. With herself at the helm.
In this terrifying new world, Imogen is almost invisible. In place of her team of dedicated staff is a constantly evolving line of twenty-something bloggers at their desks day and night ('Only losers need sleep!'), amateur snaps instead of elegant photo shoots, and a URL address in place of Imogen's glossy pages.
But Imogen isn't ready to give up her hard-earned career without a fight. Where Eve has Twitter followers, Imogen has experience, talent and real relationships, and she's prepared to fight for the fashion world she knows and loves. Even if it means going to war with a ruthless Techbitch . . .

I LOVED it - keep reading to find out why.
I love fashion - but even if you don't you will love this book as it is about so much more than that. It's about the smart bright young things in any business who think because they can work an app and get online they know it all - experience counts for nothing. Imogen Tate the lead character thinks it's true too - until she begins to turn the tables with the help of some fabulous supporting characters in the form of Rashid who is a tech know all buddy and the fab Aerin Chang who I wish existed in real life as I would love to follow her IG account.
For me this book was Ugly Betty meets The Devil Wears Prada, but was so much better than either of them. The two writers obviously know their fashion stuff and that comes across in the book and makes it so much more of a substantial book than a chick lit novel, this also meant I had to slow my reading speed down! But it relates to any business really with the talk of disruptive thinking and YOLO - the new buzzes. The authors have created the ultimate Techbitch in Eve - you will have met her maybe worked with her - so true to life.
There are some great insights into seeing tech from the viewpoint of someone who is out of the loop but Imogen also catches on fast......
 "Something told her that Eve knew exactly where she was at any given moment. There was probably an app for that" 
also a great reference back to the wonderful Abbot and Costello with the "who's on first base" joke. I've stopped referencing this joke as no one today knows of it - so fab to see it again in a book with an up to date twist.
One little thing that did annoy me is that I can't believe someone in Imogen's position would have become that outdated with tech in a short time away from work - surely her daughter tweets, uses IG - would she really not have had a clue - but I went past it as it did make the book very entertaining.
There was also the article written when Imogen begins tweeting "When olds tweet" - this just made me laugh out loud. Imogen's recovery from it was fantastic.
I don't do spoilers so all I will say is that Imogen turns out to be a "real" lady in business and for me the ending was a little subdued, but I guess that's her style!
My thanks to Netgalley for a free e copy of book to review.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Kept - Elle Field

Kept (Arielle Lockley, #1)

"Did she really just say that? I am fifteen again, except the reality is I am experiencing full parental horror, aged twenty-five. I want to die."

Life hasn't quite worked out how Arielle Lockley imagined it would. Becoming the next Coco Chanel was always her childhood dream, but she's spent the past four years living a dizzying whirl of glitzy parties, luxurious holidays and daily shopping sprees - all paid for by boyfriend Piers - and not doing anything to make her Coco dreams happen.

When the recession hits, it's not just the economy that takes a tumble and Arielle finds herself living back with her parents, on bad terms with Piers, and having a CV that's as welcome as a pair of knock-off Jimmy Choos. And maybe it's the location, but she's also finding unwelcome thoughts of her childhood sweetheart are popping into her head...

What's a girl to do? Can Arielle figure out what it is she now wants to do with her life and move on, or will she be doomed to spend the rest of her life dwelling over her worst mistakes, stuck listening to her parents' embarrassing dinner table talk each night?

I wasn’t sure how I was going to get on with Arielle the main character in this book as she begins the story with her fare dodging on the train, and not just a short hop, London to Hampshire. I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and I’m glad I did, as Arielle loves fashion. She loves styling people and she name drops so many fashion icons that I was drawn into the book so quickly. At first I thought she was like Becky in the Shopaholic series - but I couldn't have been more wrong!

However, then Arielle began to exhaust me with her “what if” thoughts. She was down the path through the gate and over the road and down to the river, before any other character had time to draw breath. So – like a few people can behave in real life.

The book skips back and forth through the present day and the past. A couple of times it led on as if it was still the present, but it dawned on me that we had receded into the past after a page or so due to the references made. Clever, but it threw me out a couple of times.

The storyline never stood still – in fact it was a little bit like one of those action films where you think everyone is going to be safe, then another bombshell lands and shakes it all up again. I liked the unpredictability of it – it kept me interested and made me realise this was not going to be an ordinary girl meets boy chick lit novel.

So many classic lines that Arielle utters, but to quote and explain would just spoil the plot – so read it and find out for yourself. I doubt you’ve ever met a character quite like Arielle. There’s a second book called Lost which is just out – and despite being a little exasperated by Arielle, I would like to know what happens next……….

My thanks to the author for supplying me with a copy of this book to review, and as promised, I read it all before I wrote my review ;) Great cover BTW.