Friday, 10 June 2016

Book Review: Caramel Hearts by E.R. Murray

Title: Caramel Hearts
Author: E.R. Murray
Author Info: Website|Blog|Facebook|Twitter
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Alma Books Ltd
Publication Date: 26th May 2016
Rating: 4 stars

Tell Me About It
Liv Bloom’s life is even more complicated than that of your average fourteen-year-old: her father walked out on the family when she was young, her mother is in a recovery centre for alcoholics, and her older sister is struggling to step into Mum’s shoes. The only person she can turn to is her best friend Sarah, who gets out of scrapes at school and is a constant source of advice and companionship. One day Liv discovers a book of recipes written in her mum’s handwriting, which sets her off on a journey towards self-discovery and reconciliation – but a theft, a love rivalry and a school bully are just some of the many obstacles on the way.

Structured around real cake recipes, Caramel Hearts is a coming-of-age novel about love, disappointment and hope, and discovering the true value of friends and family, no matter how dysfunctional they are.
My Thoughts
When I first heard of Caramel Hearts I knew had to read it, and what makes this even more readable is the recipes that are featured in the book as part of the story. Recipes + book = perfection.

Liv and Harriet are trying to survive without their mum, who is currently in recovery. Harriet has traveled back from university in Edinburgh to stay with Liv, so she isn't put into care. Harriet is trying her best to keep the family together, but is also dealing with a lot of stress and resentfulness towards Liv. While looking through her mums belongings Liv finds a cooking book, with hand written recipes from her. Determined to bring back some happy memories into thier lives, Liv makes it her mission to cook the recipes in the book.

Harriet is somewhat resentful of having to care for Liv, and berates her for not looking after herself several times, not cleaning up, not getting her uniform ready, not having her own money, and while I like how Harriet gave up everything to come back home, I really didn't like how she behaved towards her sister, like it was Livs fault for doing this. Liv isn't the perfect sister, she does make mistakes and genuinely forgets to tidy up, and she does become slightly obsessed with baking. But it's not exactly an easy life for her either. She has to deal with jealous bullies, and struggles with her friendship with Sarah who often feels abandoned while Liv juggles two different sides of the friendship coin.

Caramel Hearts is a book that has the perfect blend of story and cooking. The recipes sound mouthwatering and I really can't wait to try one or two myself. I really liked how the recipes play an important role in the book, just as much as the characters, and how they help bring back memories, or apologise for mistakes. The story within the pages is heartwarming, sad, and has the occasional happy moment. It's about struggling to survive when you feel like everything is against you. About learning to overcome your demons and help others with theirs.

As a character I liked Liv, but as the story progressed I didn't really like the person she was becoming, the baking was taking over her life and she makes far too many mistakes in order to achieve this dream that baking will fix everything. I felt sorry for how she is torn in all directions, and that moment made my heart break for her. Harriet was someone who I alternated my feelings over. I really admire how she gave up her life to help Liv and keep her home, but I didn't like how she takes it out on Liv when she makes a mistake. To do what she does can't have been easy and I think trying to deal with it all was extremely hard for her.

Final Verdict
Caramel Hearts was a book that had me engrossed with all aspects of the story. I loved how it all made a nice read and the added bonus of baked goods makes this a book to re-read with goodies and coffee at hand.

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