This week the heat gang popped our slippers on, took the phone off the hook and polished our spectacles as we sat back and enjoyed a spot of reading. On this week's heat bookshelf: Christmas At The Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan and Eloise by Judy Finnigan.
Here's what we thought:
Christmas At The Cupcake Café
Jenny Colgan (Sphere, £12.99)
The plot: What do you mean it’s too early to get into the festive spirit? Colgan’s last book, Meet Me At The Cupcake Café, followed Issy as she was made redundant and dumped by her scumbag boyfriend so opened up her own cupcake café. Now, she’s settled down with sexy Austin and is gearing up for the Christmas cupcake-buying rush, but before she gets too cosy, it looks like Austin might be dropping everything to move to New York.
What’s right with it? If you’re always the first one puckering up beneath the mistletoe, this will get you in the romantic Christmas mood as quickly as watching Love Actually in your PJs. Similarly, if you like cramming as many cakes in your mouth as possible, the book is packed with recipes, so dig out your elasticated waistbands and stretchy trousers.
What’s wrong with it? The characters are likeable, but the ending is as inevitable as you feeling sick after that seventh biscuit. You’ll find yourself glossing over the nattering about buttercreams, glazes and cake batter to get to the romantic bits.
Verdict: It might not look the most intellectual tome when you’re reading it on the bus, but it’s definitely worth ditching the diet for. 4/5 @deborah_heat
The plot: Cathy is left devastated when her best friend Eloise dies after a five-year battle with breast cancer. While in Cornwall with her husband Chris and their three teenage children, Eloise starts visiting Cathy in vivid dreams prophesying how her five-year-old twins are in danger from her husband Ted. But, with Cathy’s history of mental illness, will anyone believe her visions?
What’s right with it? The queen of daytime telly hasn’t delivered a chintzy read at all. Yes, the book is full of family revelations, but it also has ghosts and ghouls and “Gothic horror” (a phrase used about six times in the opening chapters). The descriptions of clinical depression are accurate and terrifying, and Cathy is a sympathetic narrator.
What’s wrong with it? The book hinges on Cathy’s nightmarish visions, but they’re, er, irrelevant. Ted’s clearly dangerous, and by the end everyone knows he is – and not because of Eloise’s ghost, but because he has a breakdown. It’s a massive shame that the plot wasn’t driven by things that Cathy could have only known from Eloise’s frustrated spirit.
Verdict: An interesting and unexpected read that ultimately fails to deliver on its ghostly promise. 3/5 Jo Mortimer