9 December 2013
Adam Basil and Christine Rose are thrown together late one night, when Christine is crossing the Halfpenny Bridge in Dublin. Adam is there, poised, threatening to jump. Adam is desperate – but Christine makes a crazy deal with him. His 35th birthday is looming and she bets him she can show him that life is worth living before then.
Despite her determination, Christine knows what a dangerous promise she’s made. Against the ticking of the clock, the two of them embark on wild escapades, grand romantic gestures and some unlikely late-night outings. Slowly, Christine thinks Adam is starting to fall back in love with his life.
But has she done enough to change his mind for good? And is that all that’s starting to happen?"
You can buy How To Fall In Love as a paperback or an eBook now.
I always like to be honest in my reviews, so I have to start by saying I do tend to find Cecelia Ahern's books a bit hit and miss. Some of those that I have read I loved, others have been a bit 'meh' and I haven't liked others at all - in fact, her most famous book 'PS. I Love You' is one that I really didn't like, but a previous festive offering called 'The Gift' is one of my favourite books. I think the problem for me is that I don't like books that have something magical in them, I don't really have time for it and Ahern tends to put a lot of that into her book. However, I really liked the sound of her latest book 'How To Fall In Love' and decided I wanted to give it a go, and I am pleased that I did, I really enjoyed this one!
Christine Rose seems to stumble upon people who need help more than ever, and none more so that when she meets young Adam Basil on a bridge in the middle of the night. He's threatening to jump and Christine is determined to talk him down. She does, but has to promise Adam that she can make him love life again before his next birthday... in just 2 weeks. Adam, though, is really down on life, and sure that he won't feel happy again. Christine is determined that she will succeed, but is fearful of what might happen if she doesn't succeed. She knows failure is not an option, but Adam is quite sure she won't be able to succeed. Christine tries her hardest, but is she going to be able to Adam fall in love with life again before his time runs out?
In order to really enjoy this book, you have to really allow yourself to get totally lost in the story and really love both Adam and Christine. If you don't, then you're going to struggle to support Christine in what she is doing, but I honestly doubt people will have a problem in liking either of these characters. Christine is very kind and warm-hearted, almost to a fault but she just loves to help people. In fact, she's quite good at it, and despite a horrific experience only a short while ago, she is determined to help Adam, even though she knows she is really up against it with him. Adam, too, is incredibly likeable and you wonder what it is that has made him hate his life so much he feels he can throw it all away. As things become clear in the book, we can see that there is immense pressure on him, and you do feel very sorry for him, and hope that Christine can work her magic and make him see the good in his future.
While there isn't anything overtly magical in this book as there is in many of Ahern's previous ones, the things that happen have to be more than mere coincidence. Christine seems to run into those in need of help rather frequently, and her job lends her to helping others too. Christine is also a big fan of 'help yourself' book, often turning to a self-help book to help her with Adam too. This is linked in to the story, through Ahern naming all of her chapters 'How To...' which I thought was an amusing touch. It's quite an emotional novel, there's a lot in there to pull at your heart-strings, and you do feel very emotionally invested in the story, even as you turn the last page. I was willing a happy ending as I don't think I could have handled anything but, simply because I had grown to love these characters through Ahern's writing.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and was pleased that I could enjoy one of Cecelia's books again! I thought the story and the characters were brilliantly written, and you really did care about them and what was going to happen to all of them. I found Ahern's writing very easy to read, the narrative was enjoyable and I found it was easy to put the book down and pick it up again and get completely involved once more. For me, this is definitely one of Ahern's better books, and I would definitely recommend it those who both love her books, and those who have perhaps been a bit put off in the past like me by her love of the magical. How To Fall In Love is a beautiful love story, and one that will fill your heart with hope.
6 December 2013
Look up the phrase ordinary girl and you’ll see a picture of me, Gemma Goodwin – I only look half-decent after applying the entire contents of my make-up bag, and my dating track-record includes a man who treated me to dinner…at a kebab shop. No joke!
The only extraordinary thing about me is that I look EXACTLY like my BFF, Abbey Croxley. Oh, and that for reasons I can’t explain, I’ve agreed to swap identities and pretend be her to star in the TV show about her aristocratic family’s country estate, Million Dollar Mansion.
So now it’s not just my tan I’m faking – it’s Kate Middleton style demure hemlines and lady-like manners too. And amongst the hundreds of fusty etiquette rules I’m trying to cram into my head, there are two I really must remember; 1) No-one can ever find out that I’m just Gemma, who’d be more at home in the servants quarters. And 2) There can be absolutely no flirting with Abbey’s dishy but buttoned-up cousin, Lord Edward.
Aaargh, this is going to be harder than I thought…"
You can buy Doubting Abbey as an eBook now.
I was asked by author Samantha Tonge to review her new book with publishers Carina, called Doubting Abbey. According to the internet, it is perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, a show I have no interest in whatsoever so I was a bit nervous when I started it that it really wouldn't be my cup of tea at all. However, I decided I had to give it a chance and I'm really pleased that I did because I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was quite different from other things I have read lately and had me laughing away at points. I also loved the cover, although I do have to note the similarities between it's title format and that of Lindsey Kelk's 'I Heart...' series... perhaps designed to draw readers of that popular book series in?!
Gemma Goodwin works as a waitress, likes her short skirts, tight clothes and layering on the make-up. So when she is asked by her flatmate, the aristocrat Abbey Croxley to pretend to be her for a few weeks at her crumbling family home Applebridge Hall, for the popular TV show Million Dollar Mansion, Gemma is sure she can't pull it off. With a crash course in manners, etiquette and dressing like Abbey, Gemma is thrown in at the deep end with Abbey's cousin Lord Edward and the rest of the family. Gemma is sure she will found out and kicked out of the home, but as time goes on, Gemma finds herself adapting to the role of Abbey quite well. But will she be able to save the Croxley family home before it's too late, and win the TV show's huge prize?!
As I said before, I'm not really a fan of Downton Abby and have never seen an episode, so I was wondering how much I would enjoy this. Luckily, I needn't have worried and that's mainly due to the brilliant lead character Gemma, otherwise known as Abbey in the book. She's a pretty normal girl, happy with her life until she's thrown into a world that is completely alien to her. This of course leads to lots of hilarious calamities that Gemma finds herself in, mainly because she had good intentions but they don't always come off for her, and it really does make you smile and cringe at the same time! Gemma really does try so hard to be Abbey though, and you really love her for it, although my favourite part of Gemma was when she was being herself, observing what was going on around her, very funny!
Another of my favourite characters in the book was the brilliant Lord Edward. He's a stuffy aristocrat, but Gemma is sure there is more to him than meets the eye. Included at the start of chapters in the book is his blog, his first outing online like this actually and it really brings a smile to your face! You do see a different side to him here, and I liked the inclusion of it, it certainly gives the book something different. The descriptions of the house and the other members of it too were excellent, everything from the lavish grounds to the bedrooms, from the cook to the TV crew who descended on the house were well written and brought to life on the pages so well. I did fall in love with Applebridge Hall, it sounded perfect despite it's few flaws, and you really do want the poor old building to win the money and get a second chance at being fabulous again for the Croxley's!
The book was a really good read, and I really enjoyed the whole read. It was very amusing from start to finish, and the trials and tribulations of poor old Gemma definitely put a smile of your face and keep you turning the pages ready for more! The Croxley's suspicions about "Abbey", lovely Lord Edward, and a bit of competition makes for a page-turning read, and I found it so easy to read, and was able to pick it up and dive straight back into the story immediately because I was so involved in it, and was really hoping for a happy ending for the Croxley's and Applebridge Hall! Samantha Tonge's debut novel is a real fun read, and definitely one I can recommend. It's not a festive read despite the cover perhaps hinting at that, but it was still a great story, even for those of us who don't like Downton like me! A lovely, easy-to-read, enjoyable book.
4 December 2013
As part of the blog tour for Emma Hannigan's brilliant new festive read Driving Home For Christmas, Headline have kindly offered me an amazing prize to giveaway to one lucky reader before Christmas, a Headline Book Hamper!
This amazing prize contains the following:
Emma Hannigan's Driving Home For Christmas
Tasmina Perry's The Proposal
David Beckham's brand new book
and Mary Berry's Christmas Collection!
What a prize! All you have to do to enter is use the giveaway form below, and I'll use Rafflecopter to pick the winner. The winner MUST get their postal details back to me asap, as we want to send the hamper out by December 16th to ensure you get it in time for Christmas, so please keep an eye on your emails after the closing date of Thursday 12th December as I'll be emailing the winner as soon as I can! Open to UK residents only. Closes on 12/12/13 at 23:59.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
You can buy Driving Home For Christmas as a paperback or an eBook now!
Emma Hannigan's Christmas Song Favourites!
5. Fairytale of New York - Kirsty Mac Coll & The Pogues
I know many people feel this song is over played at Christmas but I love it. It’s a wonderful mix of traditional Irish music with a little touch of Christmas magic.
4. Stay Another Day - East 17
East 17 were probably the ultimate bad boys at one point when I was growing up. So it was pleasantly surprising when they came up with this rather tender and heartfelt song.
3. All I want for Christmas is you - Mariah Carey
This song makes me happy! It’s fun and frivolous and I love the message that people are what really matter at this time of year.
2. Last Christmas – Wham
I idolized Wham as a teen. I was in George’s camp rather than Andrew’s! But this song in particular tugs at my heartstrings every time I hear it. At sixteen I lost my best friend in a car crash. This was ‘our’ song. No matter how many times I hear it or how many years have gone by it always reminds me of her!
1. Driving Home for Christmas - Chris Rea (of course)
I adore the story this song creates. It was the inspiration for my book and I can’t imagine any one disliking the image it evokes!
Thanks so much, Emma!
You can buy Lisa's The Twelve Dates of Christmas series as eBooks here!
Interview with Lisa Dickenson
Q1. Please tell us about your series of eBooks 'The Twelve Dates of Christmas'.
Thank you for asking! Twelve Dates is all about Claudia, and how her same-old-same-old life suddenly gets shaken like a snowglobe just weeks before Christmas. Things get pretty confusing as she embarks on a number of dates, and she realises that both the last thing, and the first thing, she wants is romance. It’s sparkly and festive, and hopefully will bundle readers into a warm of seasonal world of London at Christmastime.
Q2. What inspired you to release the books as 6 parts as opposed to one big story?
I’m afraid I can’t claim credit for that one – it was my Editor at Little, Brown, Manpreet, who came up with this idea. She’d wanted to try serialising a women’s fiction novel, and Twelve Dates split quite neatly into six parts! It works especially well at Christmas, when more and more of the novel can be revealed the closer you get to the big day, like an advent calendar.
Q3. Do you have any Christmas traditions in your house?
All of them! I’m mega-annoying at Christmas because I always want everything to be very traditional and exactly the same every year! But one thing is that I do like to kick the season off with a screening of Muppet Christmas Carol.
Q4. What's your favourite thing about Christmas?
I’m not sure I could pick one thing – which is super lame of me. Can I pick the run up as a whole? The Christmas adverts appearing, the red cups in Starbucks, the lights, the carols, the yuletide jumpers… And also now one of my favourite things about Christmas is that my first ever novel was released.
Q5. What are some of your favourite festive reads?
Ooo I love reading festive reads in the run-up to Christmas! There’s nothing better than curling up in a coffee shop with a gingerbread latté and devouring thousands of evocative words about Christmas. Chick Lit is my go-to genre for a festive fix – I love Winter Wonderland by Belinda Jones among many others – but a classic that I read every year is A Christmas Carol by Mr Dickens.
Q6. What do you do when you aren't writing?
Urm, mostly I procrastine, but that’s when I’m supposed to be writing! When I’m supposed to be doing nothing of the sort, I’ll either be thinking up reasons not to go to the gym, wandering about the house looking for snacks, walking along by the beach, watching US TV shows or at my day job, at a scientific publishers.
Q7. If you were stuck on a desert island, what 3 things would you want with you?
A massive can of aerosol sun spray, a knife, and a superyacht.
Q8. If you could be as successful as any other chick lit writer, who would it be?
I’d love to be as successful as Jackie Collins (aiming high, much?!) because she writes whatever the heck she wants, several books at a time, lives in a mansion, is published around the world, and I think is actually a very strong role model as well – she’s built this huge empire writing about women who run major companies, who hold the power, who enjoy having a partner but their happiness isn’t reliant on them.
Q9. Are you working on something new for next year?
I am! Or at least I’m supposed to be… I really must get my head down and get on with it so I can send some material to my lovely agent Hannah at The Marsh Agency soon. It’ll be another chick lit novel, but this time set (mainly) in the US, where my leading lady wins a place at a film summer school. She knows nothing about the movie industry, and is totally out of her depth. I’ll be sure to throw lots of trials and tribulations at her, poor girl!
Thanks so much, Lisa!
30 November 2013
Without a fairy godmother to wave a magic wand, Ellie Summers needs more than a pumpkin to impress her gorgeous boss. She works hard, not as a scullery maid but as a super sassy saleswoman, but he doesn't notice her. Their company's lavish Christmas party is the opportunity Ellie's been waiting for to make a big impression. And she doesn't intend it to be winning the mince pie eating competition.
With the help of fellow dieter Sam, a sleigh load of will power and a sprinkling of Christmas magic, Ellie knows finding her Prince Charming is just a mistletoe kiss away.
But is her prince really so charming? Or is Christmas romance closer than she thinks?"
You can buy Weight Till Christmas as an eBook now!
This is another novella which has been released through the newly formed Notting Hill Press, and is by author Ruth Saberton, who has previously published with Orion and under a few other pseudonyms too. I knew it was only a short story heading into it, and I've really warmed to those lately, it's nice sometimes to settle down with something you know won't take you days to read, and being a festive read is even better! I really enjoyed Weight Till Christmas, and certainly think it's worth a read this Christmas.
Ellie Summers knows she needs to lose weight, but if she's honest, she can't be bothered. It's easier just to grab lunch on the go, and her job as a car saleswoman doesn't lend itself to being hugely active. Ellie also has a bit of a thing for her rather handsome boss, and is sure if she can lose a few pounds by Christmas, she can make him see her in a different light. Together with her best friend Sam, the two are determined to lose some weight before Christmas, so Ellie can woo her boss in her dream dress at the company Christmas party. Will Ellie have the willpower to see it through to the end and get her Mr Right under the mistletoe?!
I really liked the characters in this book. They are all quite real, and you can certainly imagine meeting them at a car dealership or elsewhere, they are believable people. Ellie in particular is funny, she knows she's a big girl, and I didn't like that she felt she had to lose weight in order to seem attractive to someone. It seems a popular theme in books these days that the main female character has to lose weight to get her dream guy, and it's a shame perception is still like this. Ellie was hilarious whether she was a big girl or not, and if a guy wants you to lose weight to be attracted to you, he isn't worth it really, and I wished Ellie could see that. Ellie had really low self-esteem, and in that respect you have to feel sorry for her, she genuinely does believe she isn't good enough for him as she is.
Sam was a great character, such a kind-hearted man and I hated his girlfriend with a passion! It seemed no matter what Sam did, he was in the wrong! He was great for Ellie and the friendship between the pair was so sweet. There aren't too many other characters in the book as these two are the main ones, but suffice to say Ellie's boss was a pig, and I couldn't stand him. The setting of a car dealership was different, and it was clear that Ellie had a passion for her job and was pretty good at it too. I'm not really a car buff (my little boy is though!) but even I enjoyed reading these scenes. The only thing I have to say in this book is that it just wasn't really festive enough, it didn't strike me as a particularly Christmassy read, I prefer my Christmas to be laid on nice and thick lol!
Overall, this was a funny short novella to read in an evening, and will certainly give you a few laughs along the way. It's a pity it's main focus is a girl losing weight to attract a guy because that isn't something I support, but the sweet romance within the book is worth reading, and I loved the ending as well. Ruth's writing is very easy to read, and she writes both the more emotional moments and the comedy ones just as well, and the narrative was very easy to get into. If you fancy something funny, then I would recommend Weight Till Christmas as a short read for you, and I look forward to reading more from Ruth Saberton.
25 November 2013
When Alex Munro learns that the love of her life is getting married to another girl, all she wants is to be alone - and as far away from Edinburgh as possible.
Moving to a Cornish cottage, which comes complete with the world's scruffiest dog, Alex finds that her new neighbours are determined to involve her in their madcap Christmas festivities.
Then she meets her sexy neighbour Ruan - and somehow Alex doesn't want to be alone this Christmas after all. But having lost one fiancé, Ruan has no intention of letting anyone get close to him again..."
You can buy Just For Christmas as a paperback or an eBook now!
Scarlett Bailey, a pseudonym for hugely successful chick lit author Rowan Coleman, has been around for a few years now released brilliant festive novels, and luckily for us, she's back this year with another one! Just For Christmas has a really stunning cover, the purples and blues work so well for the festive look, although I was surprised that the woman was a photograph when I got the cover, instead of a cartoon. Either way, when I was looking for a cosy Christmas read a few weeks ago, my hands flew straight to this novel on my shelves. I was really excited to start it, and of course Scarlett didn't let me down, it's my favourite Christmas novel of the year so far, and I don't say that lightly!
Alex Munro decides to flee her hometown of Edinburgh when she discovers that her best friend and the only man she has ever loved is getting married to another woman. She ends up in a small Cornish town called Poldero, at entirely the other end of the United Kingdom. She knows no-one, and that's the way she likes it. She doesn't count of the town spirit though, and the fact that everyone there is determined to make their new neighbour part of their Christmas festivities. She soon bumps into a new neighbour, the quiet and brooding Ruan. Alex finds herself joining in and feeling more of a part of the Poldero family than she expected, even though she misses her family and friends miles away. As Christmas fast approaches, Alex doesn't want to be on her own, but she's also realised that there is more to Ruan than meets the eye...
I have to say that there was something about this book that touched me. Weeks after finishing it, I still think about it a lot - the story, the setting, the characters. It was just utterly charming and I loved every single page of it. My favourite thing about it all was the lighthouse. Yes, this is Ruan's home and not a major plot part or anything, but it was just totally different and the way Bailey describes it makes it sound utterly perfect and it fits in with the story so very well. I loved Alex's job of Harbour Master, despite the fact everyone seems to think a man is the best fit for the job! Alex is skilled, and Bailey writes about the job well, it isn't bogged down in detail but gives you enough information to understand what she does and the importance of her job.
I really loved Alex as a main character. We know straight away she is running away from several things back home in Scotland, but these are revealed slowly to us. Early on (and in the blurb!), we learn that she mainly ran away because the man she loves is marrying someone else, but there is almost something else there about her father, something that takes a good duration of the book to be revealed. I was constantly wondering what on earth it could be, but Bailey had me stumped and I wasn't able to guess it! In fact, I liked that it wasn't predictable, and you really do feel sorry for all parties involved here, it's sad to read of how Alex and her father's relationship has broken down and I was really hoping that they would be able to repair it and make things okay between them again. Alex is very independent, very much a tomboy and I liked how she didn't feel she had to live up to anyone's expectations regarding her clothes, her general manner or anything, she was very much herself and that was fun to read.
The town of Poldero is so brilliantly written, you almost want to move in there yourself! Bailey describes everything beautifully, from the picturesque harbour to the old historical buildings, and even the local pub, and you can picture it so clearly in your mind as you are reading. The residents are absolutely brilliant, from Ruan's sister and local nanny Cordelia to barmaid Lucy (with an AMAZING backstory that I thought was so well thought out) to Buoy, Alex's reluctantly-adopted 11 year old dog, who seems to think he owns the cottage, not Alex! They all mean something to the story, and you fall in love with the place more as you read on. I'm not ashamed to say the book moved me to tears more than once, it's an emotional read, and I have to say I have never cried more over a dog in a book than I have over Buoy.
Scarlett Bailey is an utterly brilliant storyteller, and for me, Christmas wouldn't be complete from now on without one of her festive tales. This book though, is above and beyond anything else I have read this year so far, and for a long while actually. It's a book that can be enjoyed not only at Christmas, but throughout the year when you need something positive and life-affirming to turn to. There's a lot of characters, a lot going on but it's worth the time and effort to read, and it's so easy to lose yourself in the world of Alex and the residents of Poldero. Yes, there's a good bit of romance in there, with a few mishaps along the way, but it all builds to an utterly brilliant and emotional ending that will certainly leave you wanting more. I feel like I'm gushing but I really, truly adored this book. Put this one onto your Christmas lists now. It's simply brilliant.