Tag Archives: drama

Book #7 – The Flavours of Love

The-FLAVOURS-OF-LOVE-HB-654x1024Dorothy Koomson is probably one of my favourite authors. From the minute I read My Best Friend’s Girl, I was hooked on her eloquent prose, beautiful characterisation, and strong leading ladies. I categorise her books into two ‘flavours’ essentially, her earlier books being slightly more light-hearted than her later offerings, which deal with some heavy themes, but invariably with great skill and a delicate touch. So it’s no surprise that I was happy to receive her latest offering for Christmas (although it has taken me eight months to actually get around to reviewing it)

The Flavours of Love – Dorothy Koomson

‘I’m looking for that perfect blend of flavours; the taste that used to be you. If I find it, I know you’ll come back to me.’
It’s been 18 months since my husband was murdered and I’ve decided to finish writing The Flavours of Love, the cookbook he started before he died. Everyone thinks I’m coping so well without him – they have no idea what I’ve been hiding or what I do away from prying eyes. But now that my 14-year-old daughter has confessed something so devastating it could destroy our family all over again, and my husband’s killer has started to write to me claiming to be innocent, I know it’s only a matter of time before the truth about me and what I’ve done is revealed to the world.

My name is Saffron Mackleroy and this is my story.

I make no secret of loving Dorothy Koomson’s books. They’re just really good, really interesting, really good to read, and a gorgeous portrayal of human life. The Flavours of Love is no different.

Saffron, the main character in The Flavours of Love, is still dealing with the murder of her husband eight months previously when her daughter reveals that she’s pregnant, leading to a whole host of new questions regarding who the father of her baby is, what she’s going to do about the pregnancy, and how this happened.
Saffron not only has to help her teenage daughter through this difficult time, she also has to deal with the fact that the woman who killed her husband is now writing to her claiming her innocence – and that she loved Saffron’s husband more than Saffron herself did.

The Flavours of Love is a complex, dark, gripping and poignant story which weaves together multiple threads of life into a beautifully written and intriguing narrative in which the reader questions everything as the book hurtles towards its gripping and emotive conclusion.

I’m a huge fan of Koomson’s work, and The Flavours of Love is a strong addition to her portfolio, at times sweet and at times terrifying, but always gripping.

Four Stars


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Books #76 & 77 Before The Storm/Secrets She Left Behind

chamberlain-secrets-behind-synopsis chamberlain-storm-synopsisI like Diane Chamberlain – she’s like a slightly less good Jodi Picoult, but filled with the same flavour of human drama that makes Picoult’s books so compelling. I’ve reviewed one other Chamberlain book on this blog, although I’ve read several more. So when I spotted Before the Storm in a bargain bin at the local Co-op, I picked it up, then the followup book, Secrets She Left Behind, not long after. And now it’s time to review them!

Before the Storm

Secrets She Left Behind

Fifteen-year-old Andy Lockwood is special.

Others notice the way he blurts out anything that comes into his mind, how he cannot foresee consequences, that he’s more child than teenager. But his mother sees a boy with a heart as open and wide as the ocean.

Laurel Lockwood lost her son once through neglect. She’s spent the rest of her life determined to make up for her mistakes, and she’s succeeded in becoming a committed, protective parent – maybe even overprotective. Still, she loosens her grip just enough to let Andy attend a local church social – a decision that terrifies her when the church is consumed by fire. But Andy survives…and remarkably, saves other children from the flames. Laurel watches as Andy basks in the role of unlikely hero and the world finally sees her Andy, the sweet boy she knows as well as her own heart.

But when the suspicion of arson is cast upon Andy, Laurel must ask herself how well she really knows her son…and how far she’ll go to keep her promise to protect him forever.


This duology of books was thoroughly enjoyable. Knowing that it was a Chamberlain, I went in expecting a high dose of drama, a misguided decision made in the heat of youth, attempts to protect family members, to put right past wrongs, and a searching investigation of the human condition.

I got everything I was expecting. Angsty teens, first love, arson, familial protection, alcoholism, affairs, revelations about parenthood – it’s all going on. And I loved it! Before the Storm is a part mystery, wondering who set the fire at the church, part love story, and part history of Laurel, which is hugely compelling. Secrets She Left Behind picks up nearly two years after the end of Before the Storm, and focuses on different players in the first book, both going back to the history revealed in Before the Storm, going through the fire from Keith’s point of view, and then following up on what happens in the years following.

Chamberlain books for me would be a guilty pleasure, if I felt in any way guilty about them. The thing is, though, I don’t. They’re over-the-top and melodramatic, and filled with a myriad of issues, as if any one family could have that many secrets and scandals. I absolutely love them for their pure escapism and ridiculousness. These two books are Chamberlain at her best, just realistic enough to be believable, and thoroughly enjoyable. Also, someone was killed by a whale, okay! Magnificent.

Four Stars for both books!

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All of the Books

On Facebook today, a friend of mine made a comment about her thoughts on the book she was reading at the time.
Since she’s studying for exams, she’s obviously decided this is the right time to start reading everything she possibly can, rather than studying, Much like Sinéad, and indeed myself. I don’t have exams at the moment, though, so I can read whatever I want and not feel guilty. Unfortunately, that means I’m not actually reading that much, because it’s always more alluring when you should be doing something else, isn’t it?

In any case, I put my brain to work and decided to give her a run-down of a few books in the genre that I had enjoyed.
It turned into something rather more than that, though, so I decided I’d cross-post it here so that I can look back on it, rather than have it lost in the ether of facebook.

So when it comes to supernatural teen fiction, everybody knows that the birthplace of the current vogue was the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Having read all four books, the novella, the draft of the first novel from the other main character’s point of view and the official illustrated guide, seen all five films and carefully contemplated the entire saga, I can safely say I don’t like it. That which it created, though, I have more mixed feelings about.

The immediate followers of the Twilight craze were largely bandwagon jumpers. You can see that in some of the books mentioned below.

So in what I consider the ‘Twilight-type stuff’, there’s the Fallen saga, by Lauren Kate, which is in the vein of Twilight, but of similar quality, so I don’t recommend it much.
In an extraordinarily similar story, Ann Brashares, author of the travelling pants series, wrote My Name is Memory. I’ve written about that on this blog before.
I really enjoyed Angel by LA Weatherly, and its sequel. There’s a third, but I haven’t read it yet.
Alexandra Adornetto’s Halo dealt with angels as well, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as LA Weatherly’s series.
The Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick is also angels, and is okay, but only if you’re really bored and can get a loan; I do not recommend paying for them.
Elizabeth Chandler’s Kissed by an Angel series is garbage, don’t touch it. Similarly her Dark Secrets series is pure tripe.
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini was quite entertaining, but it’s not angels, it’s Greek gods.
The Percy Jackson series is quite well-received, but I haven’t read it yet. It’s also Greek gods, which is why it snuck onto the list, despite being the only one I haven’t read yet.

If I had to pick ONE series of the above, I’d definitely go for the Weatherly ones.

In terms of older (meaning released less recently, not for older people) YA fiction which you might not have read before, I strongly recommend the following:
The Old Kingdom trilogy, by Garth Nix, (Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen)
The Wind on Fire trilogy, by William Nicholson, (The Wind Singer, Slaves of the Mastery, Firesong)
The Guardians of Time trilogy by Marianne Curley, (The Named, The Dark, The Key)
The Keys to the Kingdom Series (there are seven, so I’m not listing them)
The Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke (Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath)
The Doomspell trilogy by Cliff McNish (The Doomspell, The Scent of Magic, The Wizard’s Promise)
The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance)

Dystopian, but not necessarily fantasy, series:
Uglies by Scott Westerfield (Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras)
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Not finished yet… Delirium and Pandemonium, plus two novellas, Hana and one I forget the name of)
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (although you’ve probably read it?)
Eve and Adam, by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate is a standalone, but was entertaining.

Non-fantasy and non-dystopian books which I read and think you might like:

These are all about dying, thematically linked and whatnot:
If I Stay, by Gayle Forman
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Before I Die by Jenny Downham
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison, (BUT I read this, and it was like a not as good version of Before I Fall, so I don’t recommend it that much. I just associate them together.)
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Books about school shootings:
Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult (also most of her books are quite good, albeit melodramatic; I particularly enjoyed My Sister’s Keeper and Handle With Care)
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Other books:
Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson (although it wasn’t as good as it could have been)
I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (part of a series, but I haven’t read the rest)
You Against Me by Jenny Downham

If that’s not enough recommendations to keep you entertained, then I don’t know what is.
A word of explanation. Not all of these are YA books. Some are adult. Some are children’s. Most, however, are YA.

So that’s my massive list of books.
If you take out the section at the top, which deals specifically with supernatural teen fiction, then I recommend everything else on the list. It’s by no means all the books I’d recommend, and as you can see by the links scattered throughout the later list, they’re books I’ve read fairly recently.
But I still think they’re worth reading, or re-reading.
That’s my thought for the day anyways.


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