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Bridesmaid for purchase: Book Review

The Secret Bridesmaid Book Cover The Secret Bridesmaid
Katy Birchall
Women's fiction, Contemporary fiction
Hodder & Stoughton
13 May 2021

Sophie Breeze is a brilliant bridesmaid. So brilliant, in fact, that she's made it her full-time job.

As a professional bridesmaid, Sophie is secretly hired by brides to be their right-hand woman, ensuring their big day goes off without a hitch. From wrangling rowdy hen dos to navigating last minute portaloo cancellations, there's no problem she can't solve.

So when she's employed by an actual Marchioness to help plan the society wedding of the year, it should be a chance for Sophie to prove just how talented she is.

Of course, it's not ideal that the bride, Cordelia, is rude, difficult and determined to make Sophie's life a nightmare. It's also a bit inconvenient when Sophie finds herself drawn to Cordelia's posh older brother, who is absolutely off limits. And when a rival society wedding is announced, things get even more complicated . . .

Can Sophie pull off the biggest challenge of her career, follow her heart and maintain her reputation - all while keeping her true identity hidden?

A job as a bridesmaid/ wedding planner in disguise. Interesting take on how to undertake a job when disguised. Hair dyed, name changed, relationship with bride changed – and then she is doing this multiple times all at once! How does she remember which story to tell to which set of friends and relations?
Of course, there comes a time when things don’t work smoothly. The bride doesn’t want her as her bridesmaid/planning helper. And finds inventive ways to try and persuade her to leave, but as the bride wasn’t the employer it was difficult. And of course, the bride had a dishy brother and…
Nicely written I thought, and I particularly liked the innovative use of a large blue IKEA shopping bag – and a dress – but I’ll not spoil it by telling you how.
My main concern with the story is that it again encourages the ‘Princess’ wedding. The idea that the wedding day is all about the bride and how she wants it to run and how much money – lots – will be spent on a fantasy day.
My husband and I were talking about this earlier this week. A wedding is not about the bride. It is a joining of families and two best friends in a compact for life. What she or he wears is pretty irrelevant to this, as is the colour of the napkins or bows on the chairs. Or where the wedding is held or or or… If the wedding itself is that important than why do all the fripperies matter? A simple ceremony with family and friends and maybe a meal together afterwards is all that it needs. What is worn can be anything that they all feel good in and needn’t be designer, frothy or… My wedding photo below!  

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Where did she go?

The Vanished Bride Book Cover The Vanished Bride
Bella Ellis
Female sleuths, historical fiction, bisexual erotic fiction
Hodder & Stoughton
November 7, 2019
352

The year is 1845, and Emily, Charlotte and Anne Bronte are sat around the dining room table, laughing merrily as the rain of their Yorkshire summer falls outside. When their brother, Branwell, returns from The Bull Inn, he brings with him the most shocking revelation: that Elizabeth Chester, wife of Robert Chester and mistress of Chester Grange has gone missing - but the bloody scene found in her bedroom suggests she may have been murdered. The governess at Chester Grange is Matilda French, a close friend of Charlotte's, who resolves to pay her a visit the following day. At Chester Grange, the sisters make the acquaintance of Robert, a rumoured cruel man, who is suspected of having driven his first wife to suicide. Determined that he should be brought to justice, the sisters throw themselves into solving the case. As everyone knows, solving a murder requires sense, morals and a very good imagination - qualities which these sisters have more than enough of...

The idea of this book is great, but somehow, for me, the execution didn’t work. I found the Bronte girls 2 dimensional and the gypsy too stereotypical.

I didn’t manage to finish the book.

There is one good statement however, one which many of these historical genre novels emphasise, that women were considered property and thus the authorities – who were all men, and of which there few enough, were not bothered to investigate fully, if at all. Detectives were just coming in in London at this time and not further afield.

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The Heat

The Burning Men Book Cover The Burning Men
DI ALEX FINN AND DC MATTIE PAULSEN. #1
Will Shindler
Noir Crime, Heist Crime, Serial Killers
Hodder and Stoughton
February 6, 2020
368

THE FIRST IN A PHENOMENAL NEW PROCEDURAL SERIES FEATURING DI ALEX FINN AND DC MATTIE PAULSEN. Perfect for fans of Mark Billingham, Peter James and Peter Robinson. When a high-rise development in South London catches fire mid-construction, a close-knit team of fire fighters tackle the blaze. The building should be empty, but they find a man, unconscious, next to several cases of money. The fire crew make a fateful decision; leave the man, take the money, quit the service and never speak of this again. But five years later one of them is set alight in the toilets at his own wedding. Soon after, a second is found in the burnt out remains of his Maserati, nothing but a smoking corpse. It appears that someone knows what they did. And there are still three firemen left to go. . . DI Alex Finn and DC Mattie Paulsen are an unlikely pairing, but they need to discover who is behind these killings before the last man burns. This is first in Will Shindler's Finn and Paulsen series - a British detective series that ranks with Mark Billingham, M.J. Arlidge, Staurt Macbride.

A definite 5 star read. With a great twist on the final page.

A well written, well plotted story that makes you wonder what would you have done? If you were the firemen, in that fire, and you had personal problems? And how would you have rationalised it? We do take our firemen and first responders for granted and forget just how dangerous their work is and how little they are rewarded in the scheme of things.

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Brontes again? Why?

The Vanished Bride Book Cover The Vanished Bride
Bella Ellis
historical fiction, historical crime, women sleuths
Hodder and Stoughton
November 7, 2019
352

The year is 1845, and Emily, Charlotte and Anne Bronte are sat around the dining room table, laughing merrily as the rain of their Yorkshire summer falls outside. When their brother, Branwell, returns from The Bull Inn, he brings with him the most shocking revelation: that Elizabeth Chester, wife of Robert Chester and mistress of Chester Grange has gone missing - but the bloody scene found in her bedroom suggests she may have been murdered. The governess at Chester Grange is Matilda French, a close friend of Charlotte's, who resolves to pay her a visit the following day. At Chester Grange, the sisters make the acquaintance of Robert, a rumoured cruel man, who is suspected of having driven his first wife to suicide. Determined that he should be brought to justice, the sisters throw themselves into solving the case. As everyone knows, solving a murder requires sense, morals and a very good imagination - qualities which these sisters have more than enough of...

The idea of this book is great, but somehow, for me, the execution didn;t work. I found the Bronte girls 2 dimensional and the gypsy too stereotypical.

I didn’t manage to finish the book. There is one good statement however, one which many of these historical genre novels emphasise, that women were considered property and thus the authorities – who were all men, and of which there few enough, were not bothered to investigate fully, if at all. Detectives were just coming in in London at this time and not further afield.

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Enter the AI and the Apocalypse

Emily Eternal Book Cover Emily Eternal
M. G. Wheaton
General Fiction (Adult) , Sci Fi & Fantasy
Hodder & Stoughton
23 Apr 2019

Meet Emily - she can solve advanced mathematical problems, unlock the mind's deepest secrets and even fix your truck's air con, but unfortunately, she can't restart the Sun.

Emily is an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma, which is particularly helpful when the sun begins to die 5 billion years before scientists agreed it was supposed to.

So, her beloved human race is screwed, and so is Emily. That is, until she finds a potential answer buried deep in the human genome. But before her solution can be tested, her lab is brutally attacked, and Emily is forced to go on the run with two human companions - college student Jason and small-town Sheriff, Mayra.

As the sun's death draws near, Emily and her friends must race against time to save humanity. But before long it becomes clear that it's not only the species at stake, but also that which makes us most human.

So the Apocalypse actually happens and money is no longer of any value, just barter. And Emily, an artificial intelligence was designed to interface with, and de-code human minds. She was designed to become not a maths genius, but rather a non-human psychiatrist. It was reasoned that people would open up more to a program than a human and thus more would be learnt about the human mind and emotions that way. Of course, she needed a body to undertake her work but the sun’s failure somewhat interrupted everyone’s intentions. Emily can eat, wash, sleep and alter her appearance despite requiring a Caucasian female personality for the experiment.

So, if the human race can no longer live on Earth, what can be done to record their lives, their endeavours and hopes? And how can Emily help?

An interesting idea within a set of ‘books’ within the book as Emily and her protocols evolve, and as the Earth dies but…

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