10 April 2015

Blog Tour: The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance by Kirsty Greenwood

Today I am excited to be part of the blog tour for Kirsty Greenwood's fabulous new book The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance! I started the book last night and already I am hooked, it seems brilliant already! Kirsty's debut was a massive success and I'm sure this one will follow suit too. Kirsty was kind enough to write an article for my blog tour stop today about 'How to Write a First Draft', something I'm sure that will be very helpful to lots of budding authors out there!

I wish Kirsty lots of luck with the new book, and send my thanks to her for inviting me to be part of her blog tour!

How to Write a First Draft by Kirsty Greenwood

I think the main thing to know about writing a first draft is that there’s no one way to do it. Some people find it better to plan out a plot before they even type the first word, many writers like to do just one draft and have it be perfect the first time around. I’m still figuring out my ideal ‘first draft’ process, but here are the top three things I’ve learned so far.

1. Give it your all.

Put everything and anything you want into your first draft. If you have an idea you think you ‘might’ like to explore just stick it in. If you think of a joke but aren’t sure if it kills, just chuck it in there. If a character pops up and they are not what you expected, you pop them in there and go with the flow. What matters is that you get all of your ideas out. Many of those ideas, you’ll probably get rid of in the edits, but some may lead to the greatest scenes in the book.

2. Relax, Baby!

It’s all going to be okay. Be kind to yourself. Writing a first draft is tough and the likelihood is that it’s going to be a bit shit at first.  But it’s only one part of a much bigger process. You will almost certainly get feelings of dismay at how rubbish it seems. There will be a voice in your head that says ‘this is the wrong idea, the characters are not good enough, I have no business writing a book!’. Ignore that voice. It hasn’t got a clue what it’s talking about. That voice can do one. The important thing is to just keep swimming. You are writing a book. You’ve got this! You rock!

3. Finish.

The most important thing of all when writing a first draft is to finish it. Even if it has massive gaps in it and characters that completely change personality or it veers off on a tangent you were not banking on. Finish it. Tell the story. And by which I mean, get down the bones of the plot as best you can. Everything will be much clearer when you type The End.  Trust me on this.  After you’ve finished it you can  A) Be really proud that you wrote a whole book – not many people can do that. And B) Re-write it and get it the way you always wanted it to be. You can take out all the bobbins parts, you can refine character motivations, you can polish those jokes until they sparkle. But you haven’t earned the right to do any of that until you finish that first draft.  Get it down in all its messy, beautiful glory. You’ll be so pleased you did. 

Good luck!

Thanks so much, Kirsty!

3 April 2015

Book Review: The Ever After of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen

"The day Ella has waited for is just around the corner. It's the day she'll marry Micha, the love of her life, the light that guided her out of the darkness. It looks like it will be the perfect Christmas-until an unexpected package arrives with a harsh reminder of Ella's past. Suddenly Ella doesn't feel as confident about her future. Can she really have a "happily-ever-after" if she's never even seen one?

Micha will stand by Ella no matter what she's going through-though he worries that she might leave him standing at the altar again. When he's offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to tour with his favorite bands for three months, Micha knows he can't leave Ella behind. But can he ask her to uproot her life to join him on the road?

Now Ella and Micha must find a way to balance their fears, their dreams, and their love . . . if they ever want to hear wedding bells."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy The Ever After of Ella and Micha as a paperback or an eBook now.

Jessica Sorensen is the first author who introduced me to the New Adult genre of books, and I am glad that she did. Since I began reading her books, I've had my eyes opened to something I probably wouldn't have touched before, and have really enjoyed reading. The first series of books I read was centred around the character of Ella and Micha, a young and troubled teenage couple. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the series, so I was really keen to read the final book and see how it would all work out for the young lovers, despite all their own personal troubles.

The day that Ella and Micha have been waiting for for ages has finally arrived - their wedding day. However, Ella is having some pre-wedding jitters, and is left unsure of what she really wants to do. Ella's not had a great family upbringing, and isn't sure she can make herself a happy future when she's never really had the chance to experience one. Micha is more sure - he knows this is exactly what he wants to do, and is looking forward to spending the rest of his life with Ella as his wife. But when he is offered an opportunity he's been waiting for for a long time, he realises he has to make a tough choice, one he doesn't want to make. Will the pair be able to make it up the aisle for their wedding day, or is it one commitment too far?

As a big fan of this series so far, I had ideas in my head about where I wanted it all to go for Ella and Micha, so there was a bit of pressure of Sorensen to deliver the right ending for me! I hadn't expected the last book to revolve around the couple's wedding, so that was a nice surprise. As usual, I loved both of the characters, and understood their individual dilemmas throughout the book. I felt so incredibly sorry for Ella. She's still not over the loss of her mother many years ago to suicide, and it's not affecting her potential future with Micah too. You can completely understand her feelings, yet at the same time I was a bit frustrated with her indecisiveness - sometimes you just have to go with your gut and do what you want to do!

Micah has to be the most understanding man on the planet! He is so completely in love with his fiancée, he's willing to put up with her craziness and indeciveness, and marry her anyway. I love how he feels towards Ella - he is her protector, her best friend, her lover, her confidante... what girl wouldn't want such a boyfriend?! He really is her hero, and I love the love between the pair, you can really feel it as you are reading. The way Sorensen writes their relationship... it's a true love story and for me there really could only be one ending.

The book isn't fast paced, it's not overly exciting to read but it s a nice slow meander to the ending of the story of Ella and Micha, and certainly doesn't disappoint for those who have enjoyed the series so far. It reveals more about these characters than we had known before, especially regarding Ella mother and what happened that fateful day - it certainly helps the reader to understand why Ella is how she is. Sorensen brings these characters so vividly to life with her story, her words and I find her narrative very easy to read. I enjoyed reading it from start to finish, and was very pleased with the ending to the series, but am sad to leave Ella and Micha behind at last. A fitting ending.

30 March 2015

Book News: The Love Shack by Jane Costello

Jane Costello is back, hurrah! I look forward to her books every year, they always make me smile and laugh, and are a highlight of my reading year. Her new book, The Love Shack, is out on April 23rd, and sounds like a great read, I can't wait to read this!

You can pre-order The Love Shack as a paperback or an eBook now.

"Life's great when you're 29 years old with a gorgeous girlfriend and fulfilling job. Until you have to move back in with your mum . . . 

Dan and Gemma have found their dream first home, but the asking price is the stuff of nightmares. The only way they'll ever save enough for the deposit is by moving in, rent-free, with Dan's mum.

It's a desperate solution, but it's only for six months. And Gemma's determined to make it work, no matter how bad things get. 

But between Dan's mum's kitchen karaoke, her constant innuendos, irrepressible argumentative streak and - worst of all - her ham and pineapple curries, life back at home would test the patience of two saints. Which Dan and Gemma most definitely are not. 

Then, as they're trying to convince themselves it will all be worth it, Gemma's past comes back to haunt her. And suddenly the foundations of their entire relationship are shaken to their core…"

29 March 2015

Book Review: His Other Life by Beth Thomas

"He was hiding a terrible secret . . .

Grace’s new husband Adam seems like the perfect package. Good looking, great job, completely charming – almost too good to be true . . .

So when Adam suddenly disappears from Grace’s life, she is left bewildered and heartbroken. And with a lot of unanswered questions.

As she tries desperately to find him, Grace opens a Pandora’s Box of secrets and lies – and starts to learn that Adam wasnt so perfect after all.

What shameful secrets was her husband hiding? Is Grace in danger? And can she survive the truth? However terrible it may be . . ."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy His Other Life as a paperback or an eBook now.

I received this eBook to review through Netgalley. I hadn't actually read anything by Beth Thomas before, but had read a few other blogger reviews that told me this would be a book I would enjoy. It's a bit of a thriller type story, nothing I would usually go for but I have to admit - I was hooked. I wanted to find out what Adam's secret was, and why Grace had been such a doormat for so long, and Beth Thomas certainly kept my attention captivated throughout the book.

Grace and her husband Adam seem to have a pretty happy life together. They have a nice home, good jobs and a solid marriage. However, when Adam leaves home one night after telling Grace he was going to fetch them a takeaway, she's completely stunned. Adam seems to have vanished without a trace - and Grace hasn't got a clue why. Grace tries to find out where he could have gone, but she knows nothing of her husband's personal life so doesn't really know where to begin. As she starts to come to terms with her husband's disappearance, she starts to discover things that shock her, and that Adam wasn't the man he had led her to believe. Will Grace be able to survive once she learns the terrible truth...?

Obviously, I can't give too much about the plot of this book away because part of the fun of reading it is discovering things along with Grace. I have to first of all say that I found Grace to be a bit of a strange character. She seems to accept the fact that she knows absolutely nothing of her husband's life, his friends, his family, and simply plods along in her marriage. For me, I found this a bit strange - why would you accept not knowing anything about the person you love most of all in the world, and let them start to separate you from your own family too. It would send warning bells to any normal person, yet Grace didn't seem to question it. We don't of course see much of Adam, but he was a character I didn't like at all, he just seemed creepy and as the story went on, I liked him less and less.

The supporting cast in this book were very good. Grace's best friend Ginger provides a little comic relief to the book - she's always there for Grace and was a very supportive friend, there when she needed her the most. Her brother also plays a big part in the book, policeman Matt is the opposite of everything that Adam is and I loved him, he was a sort of knight in shining armour character that the book needed. Grace's parents also pop up, and they certainly help Grace along the way, although we are very much following Grace throughout the book.

There's nothing gruesome in this book, nothing scary so it isn't one for fans of the hard-hitting grittier thrillers, this is still very much women's fiction, but for me it was perfect. I don't like anything remotely scary, I have a vivid imagination and I can't relax if I read something scary, so this is a thrilling as I get lol. I really enjoyed the mystery element to this book, trying to piece together what Adam was up to before Grace did, and while I did see a few things coming, there were a few that had me stumped, and I enjoyed the surprise of the story unravelling as it got to the end of the book. The story was really well written, making me feel both frustrated yet sorry for Grace, and I hated Adam even though I barely knew him! There's a few red herrings along the way, I wasn't sure what to believe at times, and I thoroughly enjoyed the read, from start to finish! I really liked this book, and will be picking up more from Beth Thomas.

Book News: The Doris Day Vintage Film Club by Fiona Harper

One book I am very much looking forward to reading soon is the new book from author Fiona Harper, called The Doris Day Vintage Film Club. It's out on 23rd April so not long to wait! I love the cover - it's simplistic and classic, and seems to suit the title of the book. I'm looking forward to starting this one!

You can pre-order The Doris Day Vintage Film Club as an eBook or a paperback now.

"Claire Bixby grew up watching Doris Day films at her grandmother’s house and yearned to live in a world like the one on the screen – sunny, colourful and where happy endings with chiselled leading men were guaranteed. But recently Claire’s opportunities for a little ‘pillow talk’ have been thin on the ground.

Until she meets mysterious Dominic. Nic is full of secrets but their connection is instant. Could he help Claire finding the Hollywood ending she’s been searching for? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…"

28 March 2015

eBook Review: Playing with Fire by Kat Black

"The steamy story of Annabel Frost and Aidan Flynn continues … Can you handle the heat?

Before Aidan Flynn had swept into her life with the destructive force of a wildfire, Annabel Frost had thought she'd had all she needed from her life. A successful career, financial independence, emotional restraint. Things that were safe, secure, steady. Everything her childhood hadn't been.

Aidan represented none of that. Reckless and risky he'd been the red hot flame that melted the icy layers of her long-frozen heart. Having run from him once, Annabel should have learnt to leave trouble well enough alone.

But now Aidan is back, turning up the heat. And regardless of the danger of getting herself badly burned, Annabel can't seem to resist the temptation to play with this particular fire.

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Playing with Fire as an eBook now.

I read the first book in this series from Kat Black a long while ago now, so when I found out there was a sequel, I certainly wanted to read it but couldn't remember every detail from the first book Melting Ms Frost. Nonetheless, it didn't seem to matter once I started reading as the important details from the first book are repeated in this so we know where we are with the characters, and why they are as they are in this book. It didn't take me long to get back into Aidan and Annabel's love story, and it was nice to read their relationship develop further and see how Annabel has changed towards the idea of having a relationship with Aidan after being distinctly frosty about it previously!

Annabel is still recovering from the vicious assault on her, but doesn't want to have to rely on Aidan to look after her. She's got her mother living at home with her, both afraid of how to move on with their lives and recover. Aidan, on the other hand, is keen to look after Annabel, show her he is ready to commit to her and be there for her, even if she isn't ready for that. Now that Aidan seems to be more of a permanent fixture in her life, is Annabel ready to finally let him in fully, and how will the pair manage to balance a relationship and their very hectic work lives as well? Will Aidan be able to melt the fire of Annabel once and for all, and tell her to let her guard down and let him in?

As I said, you don't have to have read the first book to enjoy this one, but it certainly helps to have the back story of these two. The pace of the book works really well, slow enough to really develop these characters and their burgeoning relationship at a believable pace, but not so slow that I ended up bored! Annabel is still a very independent woman, determined not to rely on anyone except herself in life, but Aidan wants to show her the error of her ways. She seemed to blow very hot and cold towards Aidan, which was quite frustrating at times and I really did feel sorry for Aidan being played about slightly, never quite knowing where he stands with her.

I really loved Aidan's character, however. He was a strong man, determined to get the woman he wanted and wasn't going to give up easily. He's a very successful business, having overcome a serious illness to be successful in a different field, and you can't help but admire him for that. There are quite a few sex scenes in the book between the pair, and Aidan certainly comes across very well in these, a man who knows what he wants and isn't afraid to ask for it! These scenes are really well written, not too gratuitous, but very sexy in their own way, Kat Black certainly knows how to write these scenes. As well as these, there are some beautiful scenes set in Ireland, and the writing was good and it was vivid - it certainly came alive in my mind as I was reading - the beautiful home Aidan owns, the beach, the local village - it all sounded picturesque! There's also a few chapters set in Monaco - this was a nice escape for the story and sounded so glamorous - everything from Annabel's clothing to the casinos were described brilliantly!

This was a really enjoyable eBook from start to finish, and it was definitely nice to catch up with Annabel and Aidan once more to see where they are at now. I loved the growth of these characters from beginning to end, and finished the book with a big smile on my face. Kat Black's writing is really easy to read, creating a wonderful world with her words, and she definitely brought the characters (and their actions!) to life on the page. I really enjoyed this second outing from Kat Black, and certainly look forward to more novels from her - I do hope this won't be the last we see of Annabel and Aidan! A great, steamy read!

23 March 2015

Book Review: A Vintage Wedding by Katie Fforde

"In a small Cotswold country town, Beth, Lindy and Rachel are looking for new beginnings.

So they set up in business, organising stylish and perfectly affordable vintage weddings.

Soon they are busy arranging other people's Big Days.

What none of them know is that their own romances lie waiting, just around the corner ..."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy A Vintage Wedding as a hardback or an eBook now!

I'm a big fan of Katie Fforde's novels, and the past few that I have read I have really enjoyed. They've been really good stories, with fab characters and an easy-going story that has kept me wanting to read on until the end. I received a copy of Katie's latest book A Vintage Wedding through NetGalley, and recently got around to reading it. I had heard good things from other bloggers, so I was really excited to finally start this one.

This book is based around a small town in the Cotswolds, and 3 inhabitants of that town. There's single mum to two young boys Lindy, a talented seamstress, but who is bogged down in the care of her own children, and her family commitments as well. There's newly single Rachel, someone who likes everything to be perfect and in its place, but is very unsure about letting anybody new into her life, let alone a new man. Finally, there's Beth, who is planning her own sister's wedding away from the controlling hands of her mother - she's unsure she can pull it off until the three new friends pull together and start their own wedding business... Vintage Weddings! But little do they know, it's more than a few wedding waiting around the corner for them...

I have read a few less positive reviews for this book, saying that the women were able to pull off their newfound skills far too easily, that everything seemed to happen too perfectly for them, and yes, while that could be true, it is a story and every story is allowed a little bit of sensationalism to make it that bit more enjoyable to read. Beth, in particular, seems to gain a cake decorating skill literally overnight which was a tad unrealistic, but again needed to happen for the pace of the novel. I liked the wedding business, the way it came together quickly and each of the women used their skills to bring something new to the business, whether it was dressmaking or perfecting the venue.

Each of the women had a different story in the book. The one I could relate to most of all was Lindy. She's a young single mum to her boys, and struggles to make ends meet, with the boys father being pretty absent from their lives. I really liked her, you could see she worked hard to be a good mum, and let her own talents fall to the wayside while she was busy being a mum. Rachel was a bit of a hard one to like at first, obsessed with her perfect house in shades of white (one called wevet, can't say I have ever heard of that haha!), and it seemed a bit off how she was desperate for no-one to come into her showhome. As the book went on and she comes out of her shell a bit more, I did warm to her but she wasn't as likeable as the others.

Beth on the other hand I couldn't work out. She's never been particularly lucky in love, her mother is a bit controlling and not all that positive towards Beth, but I struggled to understand some of Beth's decisions in the book. She put a band before her own sister's wedding, something I found a tad unforgivable personally, and I couldn't understand why the other Vintage Weddings employees let her carry on regardless of the strike for everyone else! As well as the three main women, we meet the residents of the village; Lindy's family, her boys uncle Angus, Raff and his mum, and finally singer Finn. There's a mix of characters in there, and I loved what they all added to the book - there was a real village feeling to the book and I very much enjoyed picking up the book of an evening.

There's only 2 weddings in the book that Vintage Weddings organises, and it's fun to read about what goes on behind the scenes for the three women, and what they have to do to pull off the wedding of someone's dreams as well as juggle their own love lives too! I love reading about weddings, so this was a perfect novel for me, and I did enjoy it from beginning to end. It was a lovely story, easy to read and as usual, Katie Fforde's writing is excellent and brings the book to life as you read. It's a nice escapist story that was a joy to read, and despite a couple of very minor niggles, I enjoyed all of it! Great characters, weddings, a gorgeous setting - what more could you want?! I loved it.