1 Sept 2015

july and august book reviews: the dish, the orange girl, the olive branch & dream a little dream

My aim this year was to read a book a week but I've fallen behind slightly. At the halfway mark of the year, I was up to 22 instead of 26 so at this rate, I'll probably get to 45 for the whole year rather than 52. Anyway, this month's book reviews...

The Dish by Stella Newman

"Love is on the menu. With a side order of lies.

When Laura Parker first crosses forks with Adam Bayley, she's only after one thing: his custard doughnut. But when she takes a closer look, she sees a talented, handsome man who outshines the string of jokers she's been dating.

There's just one problem. Adam's job means Laura has to keep her job as restaurant critic for The Dish a secret. Tricky for someone who prides herself on honesty.

Can the truth be put on ice long enough for love to flourish?

And how can you expect your boyfriend to be honest if you're not quite telling the truth yourself?"

The blurb and cover had me interested - the girl dresses similar to me (floaty tops and high waisted skirts!) but as I said the last time I posted some book reviews, never judge a book by its cover. Nevertheless, I was excited to read this book and I was right to be: it's a cracker.

From the beginning, the characters were warm and relatable and I found myself wanting to work at The Voice! Stella Newman has a way of telling the story in a funny way that has you hooked and I found myself racing through this book at an rapid pace.

The book tackles many real life issues that most of us will be familiar with: honesty within relationships (both romantic and family), work relationships and how to deal with tricky co-workers and bereavements and illnesses. And the way they are tackled are realistic and not over the top.

This is one of the better books I've read in the last few months: the plot goes at a decent pace and the characters are all multidimensional. Plus, the many mentions of food just sounded amazing - it made me think that if medicine doesn't work out, maybe this'll be a career I could consider! (Joking of course.) This book gets a solid 8/10 from me.

The Orange Girl by Jostein Gaarder

Ever since I read Sophie's World when I was 16, I became a huge Jostein Gaarder fan. That book was the reason why I chose Philosophy and Ethics as an AS Level when I was 17 and now, at the grand old (!) age of 24, I decided to check out some of his other books. I bought a few of them on Amazon (they were all under £2 including postage and I wanted physical versions as opposed to the Kindle version) and the first one I attempted was The Orange Girl. Firstly because the cover was amazing (it's a shiny blue) and because orange is one of my favourite colours.

"'My father died eleven years ago. I was only four then. I never thought I'd hear from him again, but now we're writing a book together'

 To Georg Røed, his father is no more than a shadow, a distant memory. But then one day his grandmother discovers some pages stuffed into the lining of an old red pushchair. The pages are a letter to Georg, written just before his father died, and a story, 'The Orange Girl'.

 But 'The Orange Girl' is no ordinary story - it is a riddle from the past and centres around an incident in his father's youth. One day he boarded a tram and was captivated by a beautiful girl standing in the aisle, clutching a huge paper bag of luscious-looking oranges. Suddenly the tram gave a jolt and he stumbled forward, sending the oranges flying in all directions. The girl simply hopped off the tram leaving Georg's father with arms full of oranges. Now, from beyond the grave, he is asking his son to help him finally solve the puzzle of her identity."

It's a relatively short book compared to the other novels I've read this year: it rings in at just over 150 pages. And I think this is the perfect length for it and I would even recommend it over Sophie's World if you've never come across Jostein Gaarder before.

Honestly, I really liked this book. At first, I wasn't sure if it would draw me in but it did! The book is a sad-happy type of book and the meaning behind it all is just so beautiful. It's not a book that is too complex and though I had a theory or two about who I thought The Orange Girl was, the reality is just ridiculously cute and romantic. With it only being 151 pages long, you really have nothing to lose! I'm rating this a 8/10 and would say it was suitable to anyone over the age of 12.

The Olive Branch by Jo Thomas

Back in November, I reviewed The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas and I really loved it. As a result, I had high hopes for The Olive Branch and I'll let you into a slight spoiler: it didn't disappoint.

"You can buy almost anything online these days. For Ruthie Collins, it was an Italian farmhouse.

Yet as she battles with a territorial goat and torrential rain just to get through the door of her new Italian home, the words of Ed, her ex, are ringing in her ears. She is daft, impetuous and irresponsible.

But Ruthie is determined to turn things around and live the dream.

First, though, she must win over her fiery neighbour, Marco Bellanouvo, and his tempestuous family... and then there's the small matter of running an olive farm. As the seasons change and new roots are put down, olives and romance might just flourish in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun."

Jo Thomas is a brilliant author and The Olive Branch only reinforces this. Ruthie is likeable, warm and down-to-earth. Her ex sounded like an idiot from the get-go and I can't help but feel no sympathy for characters who stay with someone out of comfort rather than because of love (talking about books in general here!). From the first mention of Marco, he sounded quite dreamy (educated, rugged and handsome? Where can I get me one of those?).

The plot itself was interesting: it's quite similar to The Oyster Catcher but the way the story is told definitely makes imagining each scene that bit easier. It moves at a decent pace: not too fast and not too slow; and the characters are introduced brilliantly. I could smell from a mile off who was good and who wasn't but I can definitely relate to Ruthie's situation where she's a complete stranger in a new environment. So maybe that'll explain why her douchebag radar was a bit off!

Overall, a little bit of a predictable read but it's perfect for those summer evenings with a glass of something chilled. It gets a solid 7.5/10 from me - I read it quickly (5 days!) and enjoyed it as a light summer read.

Dream A Little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher

Having read each and every one of Giovanna Fletcher's books in the past, Dream A Little Dream would inevitably suffer the same fate.

"Sarah is doing just fine. Sure she's been single for the last five years, and has to spend an uncomfortable amount of time around her ex-boyfriend, his perfect new girlfriend and all their mutual friends. And yes, her job as a PA to one of the most disgusting men in London is mind-numbingly tedious and her career is a constant disappointment to her mother. But it's really okay. She's happy (ish).

So it's not surprising that when Sarah starts dreaming about a handsome stranger, she begins to look forward to falling asleep every night. Reality isn't nearly as exciting. That is until her dream-stranger makes an unexpected real-life appearance, leaving Sarah questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Because no one ever really finds the person of their dreams... do they?"

Image Credit: Goodreads

In short, I really enjoyed this book. It was a perfect summer read and all of the characters were likeable (apart from Dan...!). The plot moved at a good pace though I did find some of the dreams a bit strange! However, I'm definitely not judging - some of the dreams I have are questionable too! If you're looking for a book that is a light and romantic read, this is a decent offering. This is definitely Giovanna Fletcher's best offering thus far. Dream A Little Dream scores a solid 7.5/10.


  1. I read The Dish last month I think, and I really enjoyed it too! I rarely seem to read any books about writers, so I really liked that aspect too! Also read Dream a Little Dream a couple of weeks ago and it was brilliant. Had me feeling so many emotions! I think Giovanna's books are definitely getting better!

    1. Definitely agree - I didn't enjoy You're The One That I Want as much as Billy and Me. Dream A Little Dream is definitely the best one she's written :) x