Monday, 21 September 2015

The Art of Baking Blind - Sarah Vaughan

There are many reasons to bake: to feed; to create; to impress; to nourish; to define ourselves; and, sometimes, it has to be said, to perfect. But often we bake to fill a hunger that would be better filled by a simple gesture from a dear one. We bake to love and be loved.
In 1966, Kathleen Eaden, cookery writer and wife of a supermarket magnate, published The Art of Baking, her guide to nurturing a family by creating the most exquisite pastries, biscuits and cakes.
Now, five amateur bakers are competing to become the New Mrs Eaden. There's Jenny, facing an empty nest now her family has flown; Claire, who has sacrificed her dreams for her daughter; Mike, trying to parent his two kids after his wife's death; Vicki, who has dropped everything to be at home with her baby boy; and Karen, perfect Karen, who knows what it's like to have nothing and is determined her fa├žade shouldn't slip.
As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest choux bun seems the least of the contestants' problems. For they will learn - as Mrs Eaden did before them - that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it's very much harder in life.

The most obvious comparison to be made with this book and it's competition to find the New Mrs Eaden is the Great British Bake Off. If you are a fan of that TV show then this book will appeal to you, in fact this book does more than cover the baking competition, we get to go behind the scenes in each of the contestants lives.

For some reason I could not get the characters straight in my head until around half way through the book. Each one is introduced in turn, but a couple of them seemed to be similar and so I struggled to know who was who for a while. It is for this reason only that I gave four out of five stars.

That point aside, I really enjoyed the book. Not only do we have the back story of each character taking part in the contest, but also the back story of Mrs Eaden - the 1960s cookery writer. In this respect it reminded a little of Julie and Julia book/film. As a child on the 60s it was interesting for me to read the social content side as portrayed by Mrs Eaden - it really brought to life for me what it would have been like for my parents.

My favourite character in the book was Jenny, the empty nester. However there is just so much more to her character than her children having left home. I won't spoil the plot, but I was behind this character all the way.

I did feel the book could have delivered a little more, as it really only scratched the surface with the back stories, with the emphasis being on the cookery competition.

Four out of five stars for this book from me. 
My thanks go to Netgalley and Hodder Paperbacks for allowing me an advance copy of the book to review.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Scandalous Lies - Nigel May

Move over Jackie Collins, there’s a new blockbuster star in town.’ New! Magazine
Lovers and liars, divas and sinners, welcome to a world of scandal, where one woman will pay the ultimate price.
SUSPENSE: Georgia’s best friend, ballroom dancing sensation Mitzi, has vanished with boyfriend Foster while on holiday in California. Can Georgia get to the truth of their disappearance before it’s too late?
SECRETS: Reality TV star Nova could give the Kardashians a run for their money. But while she allows millions of viewers into her fabulous home, she’s unaware what her husband, celebrity mogul Jacob, is up to behind closed doors …
SEX: Tanya is filthy rich, married to a man who adores her but she is restless. And her sexual appetite is about to get her into a whole lot of trouble.
SCANDAL: Victoria, once the trophy-wife, has lost her mojo. Determined to get her life and marriage back on track, she’s desperate to inject some excitement in her life – but at what cost?
From the glitz of Hollywood to the glamour of Milan and the exotic luxury of India, Scandalous Lies is a deliciously unputdownable read.

As a crafter I see a lot of Nigel May on the Craft channel - so I'm always intrigued to read his wonderful books too. 

l read Trinity Nigel May's first book, but then got mixed up with the order of release, so Addicted should have been my next book to read not Scandalous Lies. Having said that I don't think it matters which order you read them in, as although one of the characters features in Trinity - you don't need to know that story to read Scandalous lies.

I enjoyed Trinity but where I enjoyed this more was the fabulous whodunnit played out in the book. Several back stories kept my interest as we flipped from one to the other and then neatly they all came together to make for a perfect summer read.

I must say that Nigel has a very in depth knowledge of ladies fashion brands - there were some I had never even heard of - I obviously don't move in the right circles.

For me this was Jackie Collins meets Agatha Christie!

Off to read Addicted now!

My thanks to Netgalley for a copy of the book to read.