This celebrity-sibling cash-in slash family history slash inspirational memoir is not as fluffy as one might expect.
Having trained in law and subsequeThis celebrity-sibling cash-in slash family history slash inspirational memoir is not as fluffy as one might expect.
Having trained in law and subsequently worked as a film developer, Gesine Bullock-Prado seemed to have it all in La La Land but something was missing and so, along with her supportive husband, she decided to up sticks to deepest Vermont to set up her own patisserie. With a few friendly pushes from big sis Sandy, Gesine found herself waist-deep in flour, butter and sugar as well as customers and mounting online orders.
Gesine contrasts her seemingly perfect life in fast-paced Hollywood, where she dined in the finest restaurants and lived among the beautiful and the successful, with her 4am starts and demanding workload in sleepy Vermont. However, no matter how tough it seems for her running her own business, she makes it sound as if it’s all worth it – because she’s happy.
If you’re looking for an expose of her sister’s life, a la Christopher Ciccone, you’re in the wrong place. Although Sandy is frequently mentioned, it’s only when relevant to Gesine’s narrative. I would have preferred a bit more information of what Gesine’s role in Hollywood entailed, all she really says is that it was unfulfilling and full of fakes.
Each chapter ends with a recipe for one of the mouth-watering treats Gesine has talked about. So not only is it an entertaining read, it’s an opportunity for trying out some beautiful pastries.
At times, Gesine comes across as childish and spoilt, as well as neurotic but the neuroses can be attributed to her perfectionist nature. I was really surprised that she talked in so much detail, sometimes scathingly, about her patrons and staff. Even if she has given them pseudonyms, with her descriptions, it won’t be hard to figure out who they are if you know them. However, her brutal honesty adds a certain authenticity to her writing. Knowing she is being so honest about her family and customers makes me want to trust more than your average published food-guru.
The book is dedicated to Gesine’s mother, who taught her the joy of eating in moderation. Her German heritage oozes from the pages as she talks about high jinx on both sides of the Atlantic and how her mother and grandmother’s rituals seeped into her own life. It is, quite clearly, a tribute to a woman who remains greatly loved and missed. The highlight of the book for me was the Oreo rampage teenage Gesine went on after her mother had banned junk food.
This book is about following your dreams but also understanding that nothing is perfect, even your dreams require a lot of effort and hard work, they’re still worth chasing after. ...more
‘The Weight of Silence’ is a tense thriller which focuses on two little girls being discovered missing one summer morning. Seven-year-old Calli has se‘The Weight of Silence’ is a tense thriller which focuses on two little girls being discovered missing one summer morning. Seven-year-old Calli has selective mutism brought on by a tragedy in her early years. Petra is Calli’s best friend and also works as her voice. But no-one knows where either of the girls are.
This non-linear narrative tells the story from various character’s points of view as well as revisiting the past to reveal family secrets. The book follows Calli and Petra’s parents, as well as the sheriff involved in the search and Calli’s older brother Ben.
I found this book a real page-turner with a compelling narrative. For a debut novel, this is quite a feat. Intelligently and sensitively written, Gudenkauf manages to explore the intricacies of family life as well as the effect secrets have on people.
The prose is almost lyrical in places and Gudenkauf manages to make you desperate to reach the conclusion of this tale. ...more
After reading ‘Breaking Away’ by Anna Gavalda, I realised that it’s easy to miss the beautiful moments in life because you’re too preoccupied with resAfter reading ‘Breaking Away’ by Anna Gavalda, I realised that it’s easy to miss the beautiful moments in life because you’re too preoccupied with responsibilities.
I found this novel easy-to-follow and a perfect holiday read, nice and light with a realistic portrayal of families. The characters are easy to identify with the growing nostalgia of a family who, nearing middle age, reflect on missed opportunities and disappointments.
I found the story both funny and touching in places and I really empathised with Garance, the main character. Her love for her siblings is touching, and I really understood her growing irritation towards her neat-freak sister-in-law. Leaving duty behind, even just for one day, is something I, and most adults, would love to do. If you feel too bound up by responsibilities, I would recommend you read ‘Breaking Away’.
This book is about getting older and lamenting a lost youth which is definitely something I identify with. However, I would have liked more resolution at the end of the story. All in all, Gavalda’s novel is about realising that life may not have turned out how you expected, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less amazing. ...more
The beginning of this book sees the title character, Skippy, die during a doughnut-eating competition with his friend Ruprecht. This book not only telThe beginning of this book sees the title character, Skippy, die during a doughnut-eating competition with his friend Ruprecht. This book not only tells us what happens to Skippy before his untimely death but also what impact Skippy’s death has on the people close to him.
Paul Murray’s novel seems, for quite some time, to be something akin to ‘Dead Poets’ Society’ and I found it difficult to care about some of the characters. Many of the privileged boarders at Dublin’s Seabrook College for Boys aren’t particularly likeable. The characters – from boffin Ruprecht to beautiful but messed up Lori – are well-drawn and very believable. Ruprecht’s room-mate Daniel ‘Skippy’ Juster has a lot on his mind, including his burgeoning romance with Lori as well as the fact that Carl, the school psycho, seems to have it in for him among other things.
The list of characters is rather extensive and I found myself getting confused. However, I eventually worked out who was who and found each narrative equally compelling.
‘Skippy Dies’ has laughs, romance, and heartache and even a little bit of time travel. It’s a great, up-to-date school saga with a power-mad acting head, a drug-dealing bully and a History teacher who doesn’t know what he wants from life.
Paul Murray has quite a unique talent – he manages to balance both tragedy and comedy succinctly. His honest account of modern youth is both disarming and heartbreaking. My only criticism is that, for a school saga, this book is really rather long with no particular decisive ending. ...more
It's 1891 and Florence is neglected by her guardian uncle. She's left in a decrepit New England mansion, miles from anywhere, and is banned from readiIt's 1891 and Florence is neglected by her guardian uncle. She's left in a decrepit New England mansion, miles from anywhere, and is banned from reading. Left alone in the house with her younger brother Giles and a group of servants, Florence teaches herself to read against her uncle's wishes and talks to herself. During the night, Florence sleepwalks and is worried about a dream in which Giles is threatened. Sometimes, Florence fakes her sleepwalking in order to find more out about her shadowy past.
Following the death of their first governess, her replacement - Miss Taylor - mysteriously appears and Florence becomes convinced Taylor is the malevolent spirit intent on doing her brother harm. With no adults to confide in, Florence is left to deal with Miss Taylor herself.
This is a wonderful ghost story with many twists and turns. Initially, the way in which Florence narrates the story is hard to get to grips with but it is a very original narration and I felt I really was really reading a child's account.
The relationships between Florence and her brother, as well as the adults around them are well-explained and the friendship between Florence and her asthmatic friend is a great side story. I don't want to spoil the story but there is a lot of ambiguity at the end. I would have preferred more resolution.