How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones

Thank you to Antonia Whitton of Headline Books for the opportunity to read and review a proof copy of this debut novel. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

A debut novel in the tradition of Zadie Smith and Marlon James, from a brilliant Caribbean writer, set in Barbados, about four people each desperate to escape their legacy of violence in a so-called “paradise.”

In Baxter Beach, Barbados, moneyed ex-pats clash with the locals who often end up serving them: braiding their hair, minding their children, and selling them drugs. Lala lives on the beach with her husband, Adan, a petty criminal with endless charisma whose thwarted burglary of one of the Baxter Beach mansions sets off a chain of events with terrible consequences. A gunshot no one was meant to witness. A new mother whose baby is found lifeless on the beach. A woman torn between two worlds and incapacitated by grief. And two men driven by desperation and greed who attempt a crime that will risk their freedom — and their lives.

My thoughts:

When we think of Barbados, many of us will think of a tropical paradise as the picture above shows (thanks to our local Hays Travel agent for sharing this picture a couple of days ago).

However after reading this emotional, hard-hitting debut novel by Cherie Jones, I have visited a dark and frightening island, full of violence and a fight for survival.

We discover how Lala ended up living with her husband Adan, despite her grandmother’s attempts to keep her safe from the violence that blighted her own marriage and the life of Lala’s mother. The story looks at how there is a circle of violence, for each generation to endure. The book isn’t a comfortable read, because it include rape, domestic violence, and murder but is compelling – will Lala be able to escape this life she has been trapped in? I had to keep reading to find out what would happen next, as I was quickly drawn into lives of the characters.

This is a no spoiler review, so I recommend reading the book to find out what happens to Lala, Adan and the other residents at Baxter Beach. I look forward to reading more by Cherie Jones in the future.

Author Bio:

Cherie Jones is a lawyer based in Barbados. She won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 1999. She then studied Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam in 2015, where she won both the Archie Markham Award and the A.M. Heath Prize. In 2015 she was also awarded a full fellowship from the Vermont Studio Centre. A collection of inter-connected stories set in a different small community in Barbados won the third prize in the Frank Collymore Endowment Awards in 2016

The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello by Chris McDonald #TheStonebridgeMysteries

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my thoughts about the first in the series of The Stonebridge Mysteries by Chris McDonald, a novella published recently by Red Dog Press. This is a no spoiler review. Thanks to Meggy for the invitation to read and review.

Synopsis:

Wedding bells are chiming in the idyllic, coastal town of Stonebridge. For Sam and Emily, it should be the happiest day of their lives. But on the morning of the ceremony, the best man is found dead. The police quickly write his death off as a tragic accident, but something doesn’t seem right to wedding guest and groomsman, Adam Whyte.

Armed with an encyclopaedic, but ultimately ridiculous knowledge of television detective shows and an unwarranted confidence in his own abilities, Adam and his best friend (and willing Watson) Colin, set out to uncover what actually happened to Daniel Costello.

Buy links:

Amazon Link: mybook.to/Stonebridge

Red Dog Press: https://www.reddogpress.co.uk/shop

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Chris McDonald and I’m already looking forward to reading more of the Stonebridge series. I have seen great reviews for Chris’s DI Erika Piper Series but must admit that I prefer a cosy mystery at the moment (I also enjoyed reading the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew as a teenager).

This is a book I read in one sitting. Adam and Colin are determined to prove that Daniel’s death wasn’t an accidental alcohol induced death. Channelling their inner Sherlock and Watson, they work together to piece together the events of the previous evening and night, to see who may want to harm the best man the night before the wedding.

Loved the story, the humour and the friendship between Adam and Colin. This book was a welcome escape from the reality of 2021 and I’m happy to recommend it to fans of cosy mysteries.

Author Bio:

Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in South Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, The Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime. A Wash of Black is his first attempt at writing a book. He came up with the initial idea whilst feeding his baby in the middle of the night, which may not be the best thing to admit, considering the content. He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs. Whispers in the Dark is the second installment in the DI Erika Piper series, and Chris is currently working on his latest series, The Stonebridge Mysteries, to be published by Red Dog Press in 2021. 

Until We’re Fish by Susannah R Drissi

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my thoughts about Until We’re Fish by Susannah R Drissi as part of the blog tour organised by Anne Cater of Random Things Tours and Propertius Press. Thank you to Susannah for a signed copy of the book, sent from California. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

A man can be destroyed but never defeated.

Stunning and elegiac, Susannah Rodríguez Drissi’s debut novel Until We’re Fish juxtaposes vivid landscapes, brilliant, playful meditations on life, and penetrating insights into the human heart, to richly bring to life the story of rapscallion dreamer Elio, a Cuban teen whose unbridled confidence is severely tested after a near-fatal shark attack.

Elio longs for freedom from the dreary home he shares with his mother. He spends his days and nights fantasizing about an American bike and Maria, his vivacious next-door neighbor. Two obstacles stand in his way: the 1959 Cuban Revolution and Maria’s dream of moving to Chicago. Yet Elio is steadfast in believing that somehow, some way he will get both the girl and the Schwinn. When an injury leaves him terrified of the sea, he’s faced with an impossible choice: to overcome his fear and do whatever it takes to realize his vision, or to stay safe, and risk losing everything he’s been living for. 

An unforgettable coming-of-age story, Until We’re Fish blends the romance, violence, mood, and ethos of the Cuban Revolution with a young man’s hopeless and heroic first love. With the truth of experience and the lyricism of poetry, Rodríguez Drissi constructs an exquisite, gossamer tale of revolution and hearts set adrift. A Don Quixote for our times, Until We’re Fish is an intimate exploration into the souls of people willing to sacrifice everything to be free.  

My thoughts:

This beautifully written book starts in 1959, as young Elio deals with being being abandoned by his father, who has travelled to the USA to find fame and fortune. Elio suffers an injury at the beach and loses his nerve for swimming in the sea.

The book follows Elio, Pepe and Maria, as they grow up and start work in Cuba as the revolution changes the lives of the Cubans. Maria dreams of moving to Chicago but Elio doesn’t want to leave. The book is a blend of a coming of age story and a historical fiction novel. Would they stay or would they try to flee to the USA, to be able to live the consumer dream (Maria was obsessed with the Sears catalogue as a teenager).

This is a complex story, with Elio, Pepe and Maria on a variety of life journeys through over 30 years. I was engrossed by the story and enjoyed my virtual visit to Cuba, a world very different to England, especially during this time period. A book for both history and travel fans.

Author Bio:

Susannah Rodríguez Drissi, PhD is an award-winning Cuban-born poet, writer, playwright, translator, director, producer, and scholar. She is Faculty in Writing Programs
at UCLA, Affiliate Scholar in UC-Cuba Program Initiative, and Associate Literary Editor for Cuba Counterpoints,Cuban and Caribbean Research Studies Institute. As a 1.5-generation writer (born in Cuba in the 1970s, but coming of age in the US), Rodríguez Drissi writes about Cuba through a double lens—from the vantage point of the native and also from the benefit of a temporal and geographical distance.

Her poems, short stories, creative nonfiction, and reviews have appeared in anthologies such as In Season—Stories of Discovery, Loss, Home, and Places in Between (2018 Florida Book Award Winner); and journals such as the Los Angeles Review of Books, Saw Palm, Literal Magazine, Diario de Cuba (Madrid), SX Salon, Raising Mothers, Acentos Review, Cuba Counterpoints, among other journals. Following readings at the University of California, Irvine and the University of
California, Los Angeles, her award-winning play, Houses Without Walls, premiered at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2018. More recently, her short plays, The Fruit Flies and Rey y Atenea were selected to the 2019 Short+Sweet Theatre Festival and premiered at the Lee Strasberg Film & Theatre Institute, in Los Angeles. Rey y Atenea received an Audience Choice Award and was Finalist for the 2019 NBC Universal Talent Infusion Programs Award.

She is the author of the poetry collection The Latin Poet’s Guide to the Cosmos (Floricanto Press, 2019) and Rey y Atenea / Rey and Atenea, a Bilingual Edition (Cassandra Press, 2019). Her musical, Radio Nocturno, El Musical, wasscheduled to premiere at Miami Dade College’s Koubek Center, on August 6th, 2020, directed by Victoria Collado (John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons), musical direction by Jesse Sanchez (Hamilton, national tour), and produced by George Cabrera (Broadway Factor). The production was postponed due to COVID-19 and is now planned for August 2021.

Learn more at susannahrodriguezdrissi.com

The House Beneath the Cliffs by Sharon Gosling

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my thoughts about this debut adult fiction novel by Sharon Gosling. Thanks to Sara-Jade at Books and The City for this gorgeous proof copy, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. The book is due to be published by Simon and Schuster in the UK on 29th April 2021.

Synopsis:

A remote yet beautiful village. A tiny kitchen lunch club. The perfect place to start again.

Anna moves to Crovie, a tiny fishing village on the Moray Firth, for a fresh start. But when she arrives, she realises her new home is really no more than a shed, and the village itself sits beneath a cliff right on the edge of the sea, in constant danger of storms and landslides. Has she made a terrible mistake?

Yet as she begins to learn about the Scottish coast and its people, something she thought she’d lost reawakens in her. She rediscovers her love of cooking, and turns her kitchen into a pop-up lunch club. But not all the locals are delighted about her arrival, and some are keen to see her plans fail.

Will Anna really be able to put down roots in this remote and wild village? Or will her fragile new beginning start to crumble with the cliffs . . . ?

Beautiful, moving and utterly absorbing, The House Beneath the Cliffs is a novel of friendship and food, storms and secrets, and the beauty of second chances 

My thoughts:

Anna has finally left behind the dreadful Geoff, and has bought herself a ‘house’ in the village of Crovie, to escape from her previous life, where her dreams and ambitions were ignored by the person who should have helped her the most.

This book was a much needed escape from the start of 2021, as we were back in Lockdown again in the UK. Sharon brought the village of Crovie, on the coast of Scotland to life, the smells and sound of the sea and the taste of the food. This is not a book to reading whilst dieting, because the food that Anna prepares for her new friends and customers sounded delicious.

The story follows Anna in her first few months in Crovie, making good friends (so many great characters in this book) and the occasional enemy (Douglas McKean), as she decides what to do next with her life. Through a number of adventures/opportunities, Anna quickly becomes part of the local area, boosting tourist numbers and helping when the summer storm threatens to destroy everything. But will she stay or will she go?

This is a lovely book to read, a timely reminder of why friendship and community are important, especially in times of trouble or illness. Also it is a reminder that it is never too late to change a job or area if it means we can find (or reignite) a passion for something we enjoy. My favourite character was Young Robbie, who was determined to protect the local dolphin pod from danger. I look forward to reading more by Sharon in the future.

Author Bio:

Sharon Gosling began her career in entertainment journalism, writing for magazines in the science fiction and fantasy genre, before moving on to write tie-in books for TV shows such as Stargate and the ‘re-imagined’ Battlestar Galactica. She has also written, produced and directed audio dramas based in the same genre. 

She lives in London with her husband and a cantankerous cat, surrounded by books and daleks.

The German Girl by Lily Graham

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my thoughts about the The German Girl by Lily Graham, published in ebook today by Bookouture. Thanks to Sarah Hardy for the invite to join the blog tour and for the free digital copy. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

‘Our parents were taken. And if we go home, the Nazis will take us too…’

Hamburg 1938. Fifteen-year-old Asta is hurrying home from school with her twin brother Jurgen. The mood in the city is tense – synagogues have been smashed with sledgehammers, and Asta is too frightened to laugh as she used to.

But when she and Jurgen are stopped in the street by a friend, her world implodes further. Her Jewish parents have been dragged into the streets by German soldiers and if she and Jurgen return to their house, they will be taken too.

Heartbroken at the loss of her parents, Asta knows they must flee. With her beloved brother, she must make the perilous journey across Germany and into Denmark to reach their only surviving relative, her aunt Trine, a woman they barely know.

Jammed into a truck with other refugees, Asta prays for a miracle to save herself and Jurgen. Crossing the border is a crime punishable by death, and what she and Jurgen must embark on a dangerous crossing on foot, through the snowy forest dividing Germany and Denmark. And when barking dogs and armed soldiers find Jurgen and Asta escapes, she must hold on to hope no matter what. One day she will find her twin, the other half of herself. Whatever the price she has to pay…

A gripping and poignant read that will break your heart and give you hope. Fans of Fiona Valpy, Kristin Hannah and Catherine Hokin will be gripped by the story of a brave brother and sister seeking safety during one of the darkest times in our history.  

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book, my first historical fiction read of 2021 and a new author discovered. Lily Graham has set a high bar for the other historical fiction authors to reach, with great characters and emotive writing in this book.

The story starts in Sweden in 1995, when Ingrid is making changes to her life, including checking on her grandfather Jürgen. However she discovers that Jürgen is not who she has always thought he was. We travel back in time to Hamburg in the 1930’s to find out what happened to Asta, Jürgen and their family as the Nazi party tried to remove all the Jewish people in Western Europe.

I flew through the story, and found myself unable to put my Kindle down, wanting to find out what happened next. As usual in historical fiction novels set during this time period, there is a lot of tragedy and heartbreak, but there are also some lighter moments too. I’m happy to recommend the book to readers of my book blog and I will be looking to read more books by Lily Graham in the future.

Author Bio:

Lily has been telling stories since she was a child, starting with her imaginary rabbit, Stephanus, and their adventures in the enchanted peach tree in her garden, which she envisioned as a magical portal to Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree. She’s never really got out of the habit of making things up, and still thinks of Stephanus rather fondly.

She lives with her husband and her English bulldog, Fudge, and brings her love for the sea and country-living to her fiction.

https://twitter.com/lilygrahambooks

https://www.facebook.com/LilyRoseGrahamAuthor/

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://bit.ly/3b2aGdL

The minute I saw you by Paige Toon

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on ‘the minute I saw you‘ by Paige Toon. A huge thank you to Sara-Jade of Books and The City for this gorgeous book which popped through my letterbox just before Christmas 2020.

Synopsis:

When Hannah meets Sonny, she’s irresistibly drawn to him: he’s sexy and confident, but only in town on holiday. That’s fine with Hannah – she doesn’t do long-term relationships. And luckily for her, neither does Sonny. But before they can even so much as kiss, Sonny receives some shocking news and commits to making serious life changes – ones that can’t and won’t include romance.

With even a short fling now off the cards, Hannah and Sonny settle for being friends. But as summer hots up and their chemistry shows no signs of cooling, they start to question their reasons for shutting each other out.

Are they both too broken to find love? And if they tear down the walls between them, will they still like what’s on the other side?

My thoughts:

My initial thoughts are why has it taken me so long to read one of Paige’s books. I have five sat on my Kindle at the moment. I bought them during lockdown part 1 to read on holiday later in the year. The holiday didn’t happen and so they are still waiting to be read.

I picked this book up over the Christmas holidays when our local area was plunged into Tier 4 as rates of Covid had doubled in just a week, and my anxiety levels had also risen. Now was not the time to be reading something depressing.

I partly chose this book from the to-be-read shelves because it is set in Cambridge, where I should be this month with a group of students and work colleagues. It is a beautiful part of the world and I hope to head back there again one day soon.

The story revolves around Hannah and Sonny, who are both fighting demons from their past, which have made them act differently and could stop them finding the happiness they both deserve. The story flows well, as slowly we find out more about what has happened in the past and how they can help each other with friendship to move forward.

There are so many fabulous characters in this book, including Archie and Matilda, plus the four legged best friend Bertie, who spent more time visiting pubs and people than any of us did in 2020. This book tackles both fun and serious issues but in a sensitive and skilful way, so that the reader is left feeling uplifted by the experience.

Happy to recommend this fabulous book for anyone wanting an emotional read (the gorgeous dragonflies from the cover feature in the story too). I’m looking forward to reading more from Paige in the future too.

Author Bio (from Amazon):

Paige Toon was born in 1975 and grew up between England, Australia and America, following her racing driver father around the globe. A philosophy graduate, she worked at teen, film and women’s magazines, before ending up at Heat magazine as Reviews Editor. Paige is married, has two children and lives in Cambridge.

Visit Paige’s website at paigetoon.com to sign up to her free book club, ‘The Hidden Paige’, and say hi to her on Twitter @PaigeToonAuthor and Facebook.com/PaigeToonAuthor

There are more reviews this month on my book blog for other Books and the City Books, including these:

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Today I’m sharing my review for The Push, the debut novel by Ashley Audrain, published yesterday by Michael Joseph Books. Thank you to the publisher for a digital proof copy via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

What if your experience of motherhood was nothing like what you hoped for – but everything you always feared?

‘The women in this family, we’re different . . .’

The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life. 

It was meant to be a fresh start. 

But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn’t right. I have always known that the women in my family aren’t meant to be mothers. 

My husband Fox says I’m imagining it. He tells me I’m nothing like my own mother, and that Violet is the sweetest child. 

But she’s different with me. Something feels very wrong. 

Is it her? Or is it me? 

Is she the monster? Or am I?

The Push is a heart-pounding exploration of motherhood, obsession and the terrible price of unconditional love.

My thoughts:

As readers of my blog will know, I tend to go for uplifting books or cosy murder mysteries, rather than ‘darker’ books, but after seeing great reviews, I decided to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and find out more.

This debut novel is well written and found that I didn’t want to put it down. Quickly I was drawn into the mystery of motherhood in this family. Three generations of mothers, each struggling with motherhood. This is a very clever debut novel which left this reader wondering who was the problem. Do we need to have a good example of a mother, to be a good mother ourselves? Can a child be that manipulative? Why was Fox so unhelpful?

I’m a mother of two teenagers and this book left me feeling very uncomfortable because it felt so plausible. Being a mother isn’t easy, despite the rise of the Instagram picture perfect family suggesting otherwise. The Push features a family with many issues and tragedies. It is definitely a book that will stay with me for a while and I look forward to hearing the views of other readers. I also look forward to reading more by Ashley Audrain in the future.

Author Bio:

ASHLEY AUDRAIN previously worked as the publicity director of Penguin Books Canada. Prior to Penguin, she worked in public relations. She lives in Toronto, where she and her partner are raising their two young children. The Push is her first novel.

The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn

Happy publication day to Frances Quinn. Thank you to Clare Hey at Simon and Schuster for the copy of the book to read and review. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

The smallest man. The biggest heart. The mightiest story. A compelling story, perfect for fans of The Doll Factory and The Familiars.

Nat Davy longs to grow tall and strong and be like other boys, but at the age of ten, he’s confronted with the truth; he’s different, and the day when the stares and whispers stop is never going to come.

Narrowly escaping life in a freak show, he’s plucked from his family and presented as a gift to the new young queen of England – a human pet to add to her menagerie of dogs and monkeys. But when Nat realises she’s as lost and lonely as he is, the two misfits begin an unlikely friendship – one that takes him on an unforgettable journey, as England slides into the civil war that will tear it apart and ultimately lead the people to kill their king.

Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is narrated by an irrepressible hero with his own unique perspective on life. His story is about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together.

My thoughts:

I read a large number of historical fiction books last year and I’m pleased to say that this is one of the best (I’ve given it 5 stars on Goodreads).

The story begins when Nat is a young boy, who has already been overtaken in height by his younger brother. He believes his mother, thinking that he will have a growth spurt soon. However, his childhood changes dramatically after the visit to the local fair, where he realises that he will never grow any taller.

Nat tries hard to grow and avoid being sold to the local fair, and he does escape this fate. But is being sold to the local Duke to become a living doll for the young Queen Mary, going to be any better?

Nat moves to a pampered life, no more going hungry, wearing beautiful clothes and relaxing on luxury furnishings but still misses his family. Thankfully he meets Jeremiah, who was also chosen for the royal palace for his unusual height (for being much taller than normal) and develops a much needed friendship. Nat is determined to prove he is a man, not just a boy and with help from friends, he becomes an important member of the Queen’s court, and he helps save the Queen on a number of occasions during the start of the English Civil War.

The storytelling is superb and the pages flew by. This is an era of history I knew very little about, but now feel I understand more. The hero of the story is Nat, who is determined to help his family and friends survive the Civil War, and is willing to risk his own life to do so. This is a fabulous debut novel and I look forward to reading more books by Frances Quinn.

Author Bio:

Frances Quinn read English at King’s College, Cambridge, and is a journalist and copywriter. She has written for magazines including Prima, Good Housekeeping, She, Woman’s Weekly and Ideal Home. She lives in Brighton with her husband and who Tonkinese cats. The Smallest Man is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter @franquinn.

George the Orphan Crow and the Creatures of Blossom Valley by Helen Fox

Today I’m sharing my review of the first in a series of books by Helen Fox about Blossom Valley. Thank you to Helen for a copy of the book. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

After his parents are killed, George, the Orphan Crow, starts a new life among the lively creatures of Blossom Valley and the enchanting butterflies that live there. But all is not as it seems… an evil ladybird, envious of the butterflies’ beauty lures them to a remote place with a wicked plan in mind. George becomes suspicious and flies out looking for them. But is he too late? Has the wicked ladybird already put her plan into action? This original, intriguing story is mainly told by the colourful characters that make up the community and will fascinate readers of all ages.

My thoughts:

I don’t read so many ‘children’s books’ now that my own children are older and I no longer work in primary schools. However, I do enjoy having a break from my usual genres and was happy to read and review this for Helen.

George has a challenging time in this book, with the loss of his parents and helping try to thwart evil 5 spot ladybirds from harming the beautiful butterflies of Blossom Valley. There are a large number of characters from across British wildlife in this book, who encounter new friendships, death, bullying, homelessness and jealousy. The story is full of emotion and suspense and reminds me of the books I enjoyed reading during my own childhood.

I will pass my copy onto a primary school teacher friend for her thoughts too but I’m sure that children who enjoy reading about animals (my daughter certainly did) will enjoy this book.

Author Bio:

I love Nature and all creatures great and small. I live close to a beautiful Park in North London, where I can often be found feeding the squirrels and birds. I love all birds but I am drawn to crows in particular, for though they are the least loved of all birds, they are very intelligent and charismatic.


During my daily walks at the Park, I found that three crows would be at the same spot each time I went to feed them and before long I discovered they favoured meaty foods to seeds, so I tried my best to oblige. I noticed that when one would fly off the grass the other two would follow suit, so I gathered they must be a family; father, mother and perhaps their son?


One afternoon, my crows weren’t there and as I sat at the bench and waited, the younger one landed on the grass walking anxiously around. Seconds later, he took to the air circling low over the trees and cawing his little heart out. Was he calling his parents? Were his carks cries of fear and despair, had his parents abandoned him or even worse been killed?


It was this scene that inspired me to write ‘ George the Orphan Crow and the Creatures of Blossom Valley,’ a traditional storytelling that has been loved by many readers.

Hungry by Grace Dent

Today I’m starting my 2021 book blog reviews with a mini review for the book I started in 2020 and finished on New Years Day. Thanks to Mudlark Books for a copy of this book via the Readers First website.

Synopsis:

From Frazzles to Foie Gras: a memoir of wanting more.

From an early age, Grace Dent was hungry. As a little girl growing up in Currock, Carlisle, she yearned to be something bigger, to go somewhere better.

Hungry traces Grace’s story from growing up eating beige food to becoming one of the much-loved voices on the British food scene. It’s also everyone’s story – from treats with your nan, to cheese and pineapple hedgehogs, to the exquisite joy of cheaply-made apple crumble with custard. It’s the high-point of a chip butty covered in vinegar and too much salt in the school canteen, on an otherwise grey day of double-Maths and cross country running. It’s the real story of how we have all lived, laughed, and eaten over the past 40 years.
 
Warm, funny and joyous, Hungry is also about love and loss, the central role that food plays in all our lives, and how a Cadbury’s Fruit ‘n’ Nut in a hospital vending machine can brighten the toughest situation.

My thoughts:

I must admit that I haven’t read any of Grace Dent’s food columns but I have enjoyed watching her on Masterchef. After reading the opening chapters of the book on Readers First, I knew that I would enjoy reading this book.

My favourite part of the book was when Grace was growing up. I grew up in Yorkshire in the same era as Grace grew up in Carlisle, and so many of her food stories from this time reminded me of my own childhood. I remember eating Crispy Pancakes and shopping in our new huge Asda, and must admit that I still look for the yellow reduced stickers now.

I loved hearing about how Grace developed her taste for new foods when living and working in London. When I look at the meals that we now eat at home compared to the meals of my childhood and that of my mum’s generation, there has been a huge change in the variety of meals eaten across the UK.

Grace has lived a busy and interesting life, and I enjoyed reading about how her career progressed as her tastes in food evolved. A fascinating book I’m happy to recommend.

Author Bio (From Amazon):

Grace Dent is a broadcaster, author and columnist. She is restaurant critic for the Guardian and one of Britain’s best-known voices in food.  She has been a regular face on MasterChef – in all its formats –  since 2013. Grace currently presents the multi-award-winning show The Untold on BBC Radio 4 and What We Were Watching for BBC Four. She is a familiar face on shows such as Have I Got News For YouPointless and Great British Menu. Grace has published nine books for young adults and for several years wrote ‘Grace and Flavour’ for the London Evening Standard as well as a popular Independent column.