Posts Tagged ‘Publisher- Quercus’

Babies In Waiting

Rosie Fiore

babies in waitingMeet Louise, 38, Toni, 26 and Gemma, 18. They are all expecting babies in September. One of them conceived in a hurry because she was running out of time. One of them fell pregnant to keep a man and one got knocked up by mistake after a one-night-stand. But none of them realized what they would come up against as they face nine long months of pregnancy, and the reactions of friends, family and colleagues. Meeting through an online forum, they form an unlikely but powerful bond. When it seems that all they have is each other, their lives will be thrown into turmoil, as a blast from the past threatens to destroy everything. Babies in Waiting is a heart-warming novel about motherhood, friendship and finding love at the most surprising time in your life. It is also very funny, sexy and utterly compelling.

I picked this up as a bargain e-book in early 2012, but due to a tragic accident between a printer and a Kindle screen couldn’t begin it until after Christmas!

Being a first time mum that had made friends through antenatal classes, toddler groups and online, I was intrigued to read a book based around three different women thrown together through pregnancy, with a spot of romance, love triangles and friendship rifts thrown in for good measure.

So, ‘Babies in Waiting’ takes us through the lives of Louise, Toni and Gemma trimester by trimester rather than by chapters. Louise narrates her side in the first person who you instantly empathise with, even if you haven’t been plied with alcohol, bad lines and had a one stand with your married boss! Due to the less traditional circumstances around conception, after some soul searching and number crunching alongside the consideration of an abortion Louise decides to leave her successful job in her small but highly regarded Manchester based printing branch to live with her single gay and exceedingly broody brother, Simon, in London until she can set up home on her own.

Louise’s character is ultimately the centre of the story, she is confident, funny and feisty. She has the eyebrow raising back story of the work one night affair resulting in her pregnancy which she keeps hidden from all of her old Manchester colleagues, who are also her only friends. The father of her baby is also kept in the dark about his impending love child. Although this sounds horrendous, Fiores ensures we are on Louise’s side with all her tough decision making. The father, Brian, is basically a git! I can’t find a better word to describe the serial adulterer who avoids Louise’s calls after he failed to secure her as a mistress and has moved onto another female colleague instantly with his “I’m about leave my wife” line. Although we know it’s a slightly unwise decision we empathise with Louise’s no nonsense outlook that she’s entering motherhood as a Single mother and that’s how things will be, simple? Louise is faced with breaking the awkward news of her accidental pregnancy to her younger sister, Rachel, who has been trying for many years desperately for a child of her own. So in a new city, jobless and ‘knocked up’ Louise turns to a parenthood forum and befriends another expectant first time mum Toni.

Toni, a young newly-wed works in advertising where she meets the perfect man, James, her now husband of four years. Although they have always discussed that they will have children ‘someday’ this vague timescale suddenly is given a year deadline when Toni is diagnosed as having Primary Ovarian Insufficiency and her gynaecologist, nicknamed Dr Dad from his twinned appearance with her own, pretty much tells her ‘it’s now or never, if ever!’ Toni, who wears her emotions in her tear ducts, seeks out more information and joins an online forum which opens her eyes to a world of acronyms and abbreviations which translate into new terminology for talking about the most intimate part of your sex life. She is shocked to discover her and James are successful so quickly and also finds herself quite isolated as all of her friends are at different stages with their lives. She also struggles to talk to her handsome husband too, about the life changing experience they have so quickly been engulfed by.

Finally there is Gemma, a young A level student from a wealthy Surrey based family. She begins as your stereotypical surly teenager with a know-it-all attitude. Her father, David, is busy working and having affairs whilst her mother, Samantha puts up false, but well manicured appearance, to hide her sadness. Gemma is a good student and her parents are able to brag about her achievements at their many social engagements, until she falls in love with her musician boyfriend Ben. They have a wonderful six month relationship where they make gooey plans of living together off Gemma’s inheritance and how they will make beautiful babies! Gemma is besotted with her boyfriend, but when things begin to cool off as Ben’s gigs become more successful Gemma naively gets crossed wires and truly believes that having a baby with Ben will bring them closer together and as you may guess from the title results in a teen pregnancy scandal. Although Gemma is rather naive and bolshie you do want to see what happens with her, she has this youthful bubble world created in her mind about how things are going to work out. She brings a slightly deluded by romance, optimistic outlook on teen pregnancy. When Gemma is delivered to Louise at an uncomfortable afternoon tea arranged between Louise’s sister and Gemma’s parents to encourage some ‘sense talk’, Gemma impresses Louise with her ‘togetherness’ and they bond, hiding in the kitchen where they agree a story for each of their families on their big pregnancy chat.

As their pregnancies progress there is heartbreak, new romances and betrayal between the three friends as secrets unravel. You find yourself entwined into their lives, quite fluidly, and although with chick lit plots the betrayal is inevitable, you still find yourself wishing you could get in touch with the betrayed to tell them the other side for a reconciliation. As with friendships they are dotted along with humour and for me the pinnacle point is the antenatal classes which brings in some minor characters to open the girls eyes to the new world of debate around hypnobirthing versus epidurals, and the poor antenatal teacher bombarded with questions like “what do I have to say to get an epidural”.

Verdict : A lovely easy read for mothers of all ages, with fun characters mixed with a variety of first romances to long-distance ones too! I especially liked the quirkiness of Trimesters and not chapters and found it quite easy to jump between the main character’s varying plotlines along the way. Babies in Waiting has a refreshing perspective on teen pregnancy running alongside a rather empathic reflection of people dealing with fertility issues. Also, I love an author who gives you a tidy epilogue with a little ‘Did they? Didn’t they?” sparkly question at the end!

Reviewed by Sam

Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: March 2012
Format: eBook
Pages: 465
Genre: Chick Lit
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Sam
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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Thursday’s In The Park

Hilary Boyd
thursdays in the parkJeanie has been a loving wife to George for over thirty years, a devoted mother to their daughter and, recently, an adoring grandmother – all this despite the fact that several years ago, George withdrew from their marital bed with no reason given. At first Jeanie was determined to confront him, but days rolled into weeks, then years, and still she has no idea why it happened. Did she do something wrong? Is he in love with someone else? George won’t talk about it. Every Thursday, Jeanie takes her granddaughter to the park, and there she meets Ray, who performs the same weekly duty for his grandson. Ray seems to be everything George isn’t – a listener, easy to talk to, open-minded – and sexy. Suddenly Jeanie feels attractive again and, against her will, finds herself falling in love with him. She knows all too well that her new passion threatens everything she holds dear. She must make a choice. Family ties, dramas, secrets and lies all weave their way though this beautiful and insightful first novel written by an author who has the perfect experience to write it.

This was another of those dirt cheap ebook buys that was so worth it. Jeanie has been married to George for years when for some reason he refuses to explain, he leaves her bed and sleeps in the spare room. Ten years on this is still the case. Jeanie just gets on with life and still cares for George but when a chance meeting with Ray in the park blossoms into friendship she begins to question many things in her life.

Jeanie runs a health food shop that she loves and is heading towards 60, which she doesn’t! George wants to move to the country for a new start, Jeanie doesn’t but no one is listening to her. Jeanie and George have a daughter, Chanty, and she and George both seem to think they know what is best for Jeanie. Jeanie is frustrated but not able to get them to take her views seriously. There is a lot going on in this story. It is certainly not a simple boy meets girl and girl leaves husband for new happy life tale! This is what made it so good. There is a lovely slow growing romance between Ray and Jeanie, brought together by their grandchildren in the park. But it comes with all the complexities of life. Jeanie cares for George, for her daughter and her family. She doesn’t want to hurt people. She is trying to work out what she wants and what she can actually have. She doubts her relationship with Ray too. Does he really love her? Is he in this for a quick fling? Although it is worth noting here that they actually don’t fall into bed with each other, Jeanie is faithful to George in many ways for a long time. Jeanie knows that although she has these feelings for Ray she has never felt before she has a lot to lose from her life if she acts on them.

I also enjoyed the very three dimensional characters in the book. Particularly as this is a romance involving an older person (Jeanie would hate me saying that!) all the characters have a ‘past’ and the influence on them is obviously huge! As their back stories come out we begin to understand them at a deeper level and get how they have become the way they are. It was also interesting to see how the effects of George’s history in particular plays out in the present as he finally faces things he has long not dealt with. The repercussions for everyone are far reaching. I can’t spoil it for you by explaining any more, you’ll have to read it. It really puts Jeanie’s happy ending in jeopardy, she is so torn between doing what she wants and what she feels is the right thing.

As well as the three main characters being fully rounded I also liked best friend Bea who adds humour and someone who wants Jeanie to out herself first! Chanty and her husband Alex were great characters too, their marriage has not been easy and Alex is a selfish man! It was good to have other characters in the novel who were having ups and downs and learning lessons as well as the main protagonists. It gave it more of a family saga feel too and definitely gives it a very well rounded appeal.

Verdict: I read this really quickly! It was a book I struggled to put down and anyone who likes romance with a twist and great characters will love this.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: August 2011
Format: eBook
Pages: 353
Genre: Chick Lit, Contemporary fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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Monday to Friday Man

Alice Peterson

What do you do if you’re 34, single and recovering from being jilted two weeks before your wedding day? This is the dilemma Gilly Brown finds herself in. While friends are marrying, having children and moving into the depths of the countryside, Gilly finds herself alone in London and holding on to her fractured family with their tragic past. It’s time to meet new people.
So, she decides to get a Monday to Friday lodger, and after a succession of alarming interviews finally finds the perfect one in the shape of handsome reality television producer Jack Baker. Gilly falls for Jack’s charm and is transported into an exciting social whirlwind of parties, dining out and glamour. When Jack is introduced to Gilly’s family and friends, it’s only the attractive and eccentric Guy, the newest recruit to her dog-walking group, who isn’t quite so convinced about Jack’s intentions. As Guy watches them grow closer, his suspicions of Jack and his feelings for Gilly deepen. Is Jack so perfect after all… and what exactly does he get up to at the weekends?

Due to the absolute bargain price for this on Amazon, along with it’s title and description, it was an easy ‘click to add to basket’ moment! This is a fun and easy to read chick-lit offering which I read over just a few evenings.
Gilly is a very likeable character. She is still getting over the shock of being jilted and trying to make a new life for herself that isn’t dependent on being with that ‘special other person’ the whole time. Her dog walking friends that she meets in the park every day, although an eclectic and sometimes unusual bunch are a constant in her life and she derives much from catching up with them each day and chatting through her life’s woes. They are a bit like an extended family.

I loved the concept of the ‘Monday to Friday Man’, the lodger who will stay with Gilly in her spare room in Central London during the week and disappear back to his/her other life at the weekends. It probably happens in real life already, but I hadn’t come across it before. The angst of putting her profile on the website and wondering who was going to show up for an interview was funny and the times of sharing with her friends showed the depth of her character which was well developed by the author. Of course she ends up getting more than she bargained for with very attractive and dynamic producer Jack, who sweeps her off her feet and helps bring her back to life a bit, but who is also rather cagey about the rest of his life and is clearly hiding something.

Woven in and out of this story are flashbacks to Gilly’s childhood and an insight into why the current family dynamics are as they are today. Gilly has a twin that she is close to and who is married with children. She visits often and through the flashbacks we can see the pain that they have suffered over the years due to a traumatic family situation and how it’s contributed to them becoming the people that they are today.

However it’s not Jack that ends up being the friend she can confide in and share with, it’s Guy, the slightly eccentric fellow dog-walker that joins their group in the park and who she hits it off with. Guy is off limits though, engaged to a fiancé who is travelling the world at the moment. They have a lovely, easy and relaxed friendship. Guy is a true friend to her, and sees the best in her and the potential in her and this understandably causes quite a bit of internal conflict as she is seeing Jack and enjoying the attention and glitzy lifestyle that he offers her.

This story is fairly predictable. It was easy to see where it was going and how it was likely to end up but that didn’t matter really. I enjoyed the characters, and the relationships and it was a lovely story.

A really easy and enjoyable read, giving you that nice feel good factor at the end.

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: July 2011
Format: eBook
Pages: 374
Genre: Romance, Chick Lit
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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Lost Christmas

David Logan

When Goose’s parents are killed in a car crash on Christmas Eve, his life changes utterly. Living with his increasingly senile Nan, his dog Mutt is the only thing keeping him sane. His only other friend is Frank, a former friend of his father. Frank’s own life is falling apart and he has recruited Goose to help him carry out petty theft around the city.
A year to the day since the accident that changed his life, Goose meets Anthony, a strange man who has forgotten who he is, but seems to know more about others than they know about themselves. When Mutt goes missing, Goose has no choice but to rely on Anthony to help find him.
In an adventure that draws in Frank, who’s lost his family, an old lady who’s lost a precious bangle, an elderly doctor who’s lost his wife and mother who’s lost her daughter, Goose follows Anthony across Manchester. But at the centre of the mystery is Anthony himself: who is he, how does he know so much and can he help Goose and the others find what they’re searching for?
A delight to read from start to finish, David Logan takes the reader on a terrific journey through love, loss and the quest for home.

I’m going to be honest. I picked up this book in the shop as I had been asked to review a children’s ‘Christmas themed’ book. I had never heard of this book or of the author but I’m a sucker for ‘topical’ reads just to see what all the fuss is about. This book drew me in, as had the headline, ‘Now a major film starring Eddie Izzard’ and thanks to the rather obvious title, was a quick win to meet the task at hand.

So, it was fair to say that I started reading this book feeling a bit ‘meh’ as it isn’t something that I would have chosen with no agenda. But thank goodness I did! By the end of the first chapter I had to bite back tears and actually stopped reading to think how I would have reacted as a mother in the same situation. Towards the end of the book I was a goner, my heartstrings well and truly yanked. To balance the sadness there’s more than a little magic, intrigue over ‘Anthony’s’ true identity and humour for his quirky personality and his tourettes like ability to share random facts. Did you know that Walt Disney was scared of mice for instance?

So what’s it all about? Well the story focuses around a young boy nicknamed Goose whom, on Christmas Eve, inadvertently sets off a chain of events that creates misery and loss for a number of people, whilst making him an orphan in the process. His grandmother, already experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s dementia is left to look after him.

One year on and he is withdrawn, isolated and is under probation for thieving whilst his grandmother’s health continues to deteriorate. If his life couldn’t get more bleak already, he then loses his beloved dog Mutt. Desperate to find his dog, he relies on a rather odd stranger (Anthony – well at least he thinks his name is Anthony as that’s what the badge says on his jacket!) who has an uncanny knack for finding lost things.

Whilst poring through the TV listings for the next fortnight I see that the film will be on BBC 1 on the 18th December 5:30pm and is given a 5* rating. As the book was based on the screenplay, I can understand why the film has a perfect rating and I will definitely be watching, albeit with a box of tissues and comfort eating chocs to hand!

Verdict: a perfect read for gearing up to Christmas. If you want to laugh, cry and root for characters to get their happy ending then this book is for you. Young and old independent readers alike.

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: October 2011
Format: Hardback
Pages: 300
Genre: Christmas
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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