31 October 2014

Book Review: The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

"In the early hours of an April morning, Maya stumbles into the path of an oncoming bus.

A tragic accident? Or suicide?

Her grief-stricken husband, Adrian, is determined to find out.

Maya had a job she enjoyed; she had friends. They'd been in love.

She even got on with his two previous wives and their children. In fact, they'd all been one big happy family.

But before long Adrian starts to identify the dark cracks in his perfect life. Because everyone has secrets. And secrets have consequences. Some of which can be devastating."

Rating: 2.5/5

You can buy The Third Wife as a hardback or an eBook now.

Lisa Jewell's latest novel sounds like it's usually captivating read. I love her stories, about real people going through real problems, and the way she writes these stories is incredibly readable. I was really excited to get a copy of her new book The Third Wife through NetGalley, and was very much looking forward to reading it. It follows the story of the family of recently deceased Maya, who died after walking in front of a bus one evening without explanation. Her widower Adrian is struggling to understand Maya's motives, and his children are dealing with the loss of yet another female in their lives. As Adrian begins to look into Maya's tragic demise, he begins to find that Maya wasn't as happy as he was led to believe... what devastating secrets is Adrian going to uncover, and with what consequences?

As you can see, this is a pretty dark book. There definitely isn't a lot of happiness in here - usually in Lisa's books there is something a bit lighter, something to make you see a light at the end of the tunnel but I really struggled to find that in this book. Add this to the fact that I really didn't like any of the characters in this book - it meant that this book didn't live up to my expectations, especially when Lisa's last few novels have been incredible reads. Perhaps they set my expectation barrier too high, but there was something about this novel that didn't sit right with me, and I did struggle with it at times, wondering if I would begin to like any character, or even care where the story was going.

Although the story is centred around Maya, we only meet her briefly through some flashbacks in the book, detailing some of the secrets she is with-holding from Adrian, and how she deals (or rather doesn't) with them. I couldn't really sum up any feeling for her either way, she was too absent in the book to care for strongly, and therefore I struggled to get invested in her story. Then there's her husband Adrian. Wow, what a guy. Not in a good way. He's married 3 women, had a few children with each of them except for Maya, and seems to think they all enjoy being one big happy family, simply because it is what he wants, regardless of what his children or ex-wives really want. I hated him - he's everything that is wrong with the male species and their expectations for family and relationships. I hated his attitude towards his wives - when he's bored, he'll end it but keep them all sweet and all loving together, I had no sympathy or anything towards him, and this made reading a book around him quite difficult.

The children of Adrian and his other ex-wives feature heavily in the book, but again they just weren't nice people, even the younger ones. Usually, children in books are loveable and add a bit of humour and light to a book but not in this case. None of them had many redeeming features at all, they were all affected by their parents, their "role models" for the future, and it was a bit sad to read how messed up they were. There was a bit of a mystery storyline about a character called "Jane" running throughout the book, this was well-written and held my interest. I was curious to find out who Jane was, I had a few guesses but was wrong - I'm glad this part of the story was there because it was a shining light for me in the book.

I really struggled with this review, I feel so disappointed to be giving a Lisa Jewell novel anything but a glowing review, but this was just not up to her usual standard for me. With a cast of dislikeable people, and consequently a story I struggled to connect with, this book just did not work for me at all and I found myself getting frustrated with the awful Adrian and his strange family. The story dragged on a bit for me, I felt it lost its way in the middle a bit and sort of forgot where it was meant to be going - and the ending for me wasn't good at all, I didn't like it one bit. I can whole-heartedly recommend any of Lisa Jewell's other books, particularly The House We Grew Up In or Before I Met You - those are stunning reads. Sadly, for me, this isn't Jewell's best work - I hope her next book is back to her best.

eBook News: How the In-Laws Wrecked Christmas by Fiona Gibson

We all love a free eBook don't we?! Especially when it's a festive one?! Well, Fiona Gibson is giving us an early Christmas present by way of her free short story eBook called How the In-Laws Wrecked Christmas which is released on November 13th. It sounds brilliant, and I can't wait to read it, get pre-ordering now!!

You can pre-order the free eBook now!

"A funny, festive short story from bestseller Fiona Gibson. Just the thing to curl up with on a cold winter night.

Christmas in the country. What could be better? All you need is one country house, one gorgeous boyfriend and a liberal dusting of snow. Right?

That’s what Anna thinks and she can’t wait for the festivities to start. But then she meets her gorgeous boyfriend’s awful parents. And their drunk friends. And she starts to hear all about a certain ex-wife. Suddenly this doesn’t look like a very merry Christmas after all…"

29 October 2014

eBook Review: To Catch A Star by Romy Sommer

"Teresa Adler is the ultimate Ice Princess, with a heart as frozen as the winter landscape of her beloved home, Westerwald. All her life, she’s belonged to the ‘inner circle’ of wealth, privilege and position.

Christian Taylor: Heartthrob. Movie Star. Bad boy. The mischievous actor sets temperatures soaring in the picturesque baroque principality – and with a wicked glint in his eye and a chip on his shoulder he sets his sights on the one thing he’s told he can’t have. Teresa.

While Tessa holds the ultimate clue to the secret of Christian’s parentage, it is the heat of his touch that will make this Ice Princess feel more alive than she ever has before…"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy To Catch A Star as an eBook now.

I have loved the first few books in Romy Sommer's eBook series with Harper Impulse, all set around the fictional country of Westerwald, and it's royal family. They really have been magical fairytales, with the girls getting the handsome prince they've always dreamed of, and so I was really excited to be sent a review copy of the last in the trilogy, To Catch A Star. The cover of this eBook is stunning - I'm so glad Harper Impulse have realised the importance of a gorgeous eBook cover for readers - they really can sell a book to you, especially when you only have that and a blurb to go on! This cover is so wintery and magical, it suits the book perfectly, and I loved the story, a lovely way to end this fantastic series that I will be sad to say goodbye to.

Teresa Adler is part of a well-to-do family in Westerwald, a family of position, trust and respect and she is keen to show that in her behaviour. When her father asks her to take a job as PA to a movie star who is shooting a movie in Westerwald, Teresa isn't exactly thrilled by the prospect. However, she knows what she has got to do, and is determined to make a good job of it. Christian Taylor, the movie star Teresa is working for, has a good work ethic but enjoys his time with the ladies too. He's a bit taken by Teresa and sets his sights on wooing her, although she's determined to ignore his every advance. Will Christian be able to melt the heart of Teresa and show her a thing or two about living?

This book was really enjoyable from the start. We are quickly introduced to Teresa, who isn't a member of the Westerwald royal family, but for a long time was in a relationship with Prince Federik, before it all fell apart. So Teresa is used to life in the limelight, and I liked how cool and calm she always was with the press and paparazzi around her, much to Christian's astonishment. Teresa, or Tessa as she is sometimes referred to, is quite a cold character, determined to keep up her steely facade to everyone around her, and not reveal her inner turmoil, particularly about her own engagement. You can see she is falling for Christian, and I wondered how this would be tackled in the book further on, if the pair would act on it.

Christian was an interesting character. Although I was quickly able to guess who he was, the book doesn't confirm it for a long while. although Teresa and her father have their suspicions due to him being seen with a precious Westerwald heirloom. I liked Christian - clearly he's got his own secrets about his past that he doesn't want to come out, and it does take a while in the book for him to reveal things about himself, his mother and what happened to him as a child. I liked Christian a lot, he's very open for an actor and didn't take himself too seriously, he was quite fun to read about as well, especially the scenes with his best friend Dom, they were funny at times! The interactions between Christian and Teresa weren't always easy to read, but you can sense the tension between the two, and I just hoped Christian would be able to melt Teresa's heart just a little bit so we could see the real her!

The setting of Westerwald for the book was great, I feel that over the series I have gotten to know the place and it's Royal Family quite well! It was nice to see the other characters from previous books crop up in this one and update us on how they are doing, I love when writers do that. As I said, I had guessed Christian's link in the whole thing quite early but it didn't matter to me, I enjoyed the story that it took in getting to that revelation, and Sommer's writing is wonderful to read. I love her writing, she really brings to life the characters and setting of the book, as well as the magic and romance of it all, they truly are fairytales for us grown-ups!

For me, this was a lovely ending to what has been a very enjoyable trilogy from Romy Sommer. I've loved getting to know the characters throughout each of these books, the people of Westerwald, and the wonderful fairytale romances that they have each been part of. I enjoyed the story of Christian and Teresa a lot, I know exactly how I wanted it to end, and at times it felt like that wasn't going to happen - I was bereft! I hope that this won't be the last we hear from Romy Sommer, because she's an author I have quickly learned to love, and look forward to her romantic tales from fictional kingdoms! This will leave you with a big smile on your face, a warm heart and wanting more! A fantastic read.

27 October 2014

Book Review: OMG Baby! by Emma Garcia

"This ISN'T a book about babies... It IS about two people, one unexpected pregnancy and a question…

Viv and Max were best friends for years, then they were lovers and then it all went terribly wrong. Now finally they are to be reunited.

Viv feels sick. Not just with nerves at seeing the gorgeous Max again, but because there's a small chance she might… quite possibly… most definitely… be pregnant. It's thrilling. But also terrifying.

At thirty-two Viv doesn’t have a job, only eats fruit when there’s nothing else, and can barely meet the needs of her foster cat. And whilst she knows that Max is the love of her life, they don’t exactly have the most stable relationship…

Then, as Viv's long-lost mother reappears on the scene and they all end up sharing an apartment, all hell breaks loose.


Rating: 3/5

You can buy OMG Baby! as a paperback or an eBook now.

Although I wasn't particularly overkeen on Emma Garcia's debut novel Never Google Heartbreak, something kept drawing me to the cover of the sequel to that book called OMG Baby! which has been sat on my bookshelf for a few months now. I decided I would give it a try and see if this one would be a book I would love. I didn't really remember too much about the first book, other than the main characters were called Viv and Max, so I sort of went into this as if it weren't a sequel, my mind being refreshed by the story as the new book went on. Things are briefly touched on from the first book, but this story can definitely stand-alone too, with the characters at a new stage in their lives... expecting a baby!

Viv and Max have finally gotten together, and are in for a shock. Viv is surprised to find out she is pregnant, and Max is delighted, sure he's going to be a dad to a baby girl. Although they aren't quite set up for parenthood, living in separate flats and neither earning especially good money, they are determined to make it work. But when Viv's estranged mother turns up on her doorstep after years of silence, Viv is sure her impending motherhood is the ideal way to bond with her own mother, and so invites her to stay with her and Max in her small London flat. Unfortunately, Max and Lorraine don't exactly hit it off and Viv finds herself stuck in the middle, as well as juggling her new company and pregnancy...

Don't get me wrong, this is a fun read. It's a light-hearted look at pregnancy for the unprepared, with Max and Viv both happy to admit they haven't got a clue what to expect or how to raise a human being between them. In fact, I'm sure that's like most people when they find out they are pregnant, and there were some humourous moments - Viv is genuinely clueless and it's funny finding things out along with her, and her funny reactions to things. However, what I didn't like about Viv was how she was treated by her mother (and how she kept on letting herself be treated like crap by her) and consequently how she treated lovely Max because of those problems. I wanted to give Viv a shake and tell her to wake up, and at times found myself so frustrated with the way it was going I had to put it down for a while and read something else.

Viv's mother was quite possibly the worst character in a book I have ever read. And I've read a lot of books and horrible characters, believe me. There was nothing - NOTHING - redeemable about this woman at all. The way she takes advantage of her poor pregnant daughter, the way she manipulates people and situations, and how she had so little care for Max was just awful and I couldn't stand her. I also couldn't understand how Viv couldn't see through her, and it left me really frustrated, and took away from the other things I enjoyed about the book overall. Some of the other characters are more light-hearted, such as Damon from Viv's workplace who did make me smile, and lovely Christie who she has started a new company with, but Lorraine just left such a sour taste in my mouth.

As the book went on, I enjoyed the progression of the story and how Viv and Max confront their new circumstances together, even against the odds of Lorraine conspiring against them. Garcia's writing is easy to read, quite pacey and did make me smile a lot as I was reading. There was a touching addition of a friendship storyline between Viv and her best friend Lucy, who goes through a horrible time in the book, and I enjoyed a more sensitive and soft side to Garcia's writing amongst all the humour. It was a good read, I did care about the story and the characters, and wanted to finish it, but I can honestly say I've never encountered a character I have hated so much and been so cross at before, so much so it hindered my overall enjoyment of the book sadly. I do hope there will be more from Emma Garcia, a very promising voice in women's fiction, but hopefully without the abominable Lorraine!

26 October 2014

Book Review: After I Left You by Alison Mercer

"Anna has not been back to Oxford since her last summer at university, seventeen years ago. She tries not to think about her time there, or the tightly knit group of friends she once thought would be hers forever. She has almost forgotten the fierce sting of betrayal, the heartache, the secret she carries around with her, the last night she spent with them all.

Then a chance meeting on a rainy day in London brings her past tumbling back into her present, and Anna is faced with remembering the events of that summer and the people she left behind. As Anna realises that the events of their past have shaped the people they've all become, hope begins to blossom for what the future could hold . . ."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy After I Left You as a paperback or an eBook now.

I thoroughly enjoyed Alison Mercer's debut novel Stop the Clock last year, it was a fresh voice in women's fiction, and I knew Alison would certainly be one to watch for future releases. She's just released her second novel, called After I Left You and it is quite different to her debut novel. This is set in Oxford, and is the story of a group of graduates who were once the best of friends, but have now been torn apart by a tragedy that occurred many years ago when they were undergraduates at the prestigious university. Anna is unsure that she wants to go back to that time in her life and go through the wave of emotions once more, but finds herself more and more drawn into the group again...

There are some books which take me a few chapters to get into, for whatever reason. However, this was definitely not one of them. Straight away, I was drawn into the story of Anna, and why she was so reluctant to befriend the people she had once been closest to. There are no hints of what went on all those years ago, making it somewhat of a mystery throughout the whole book, and I enjoyed this element of it very much. The book switches between the present day Anna trying to reconcile herself with making a new friendship with these people again, and the younger Anna the student at Oxford University, in the midst of relationships, friendships, and eventually, tragedy. The way Mercer writes the two stories and blends them together as one for the book is cleverly done - at no point was I bored or restless, I wanted to keep reading on to see what was going to occur for the group next.

I liked Anna as the main narrator of the piece. She was very likeable, not overly out-going but wanting to please and make friends with those around her. By the present day, Anna is a bit more withdrawn, keeping herself to herself, and plodding along in life. It's hard to reconcile the two Anna's together, but as things in the past become more clear, it's clear for the reader to see why Anna in the present day is as she is. The others in the group were odd, not exactly likeable but not unlikeable either - I just struggled to develop any feelings for them one way or the other. Perhaps the only one I liked was Victor - Anna's ex-boyfriend. Although he was a bit of a cad in his student days, the older Victor we see was likeable, and you can see why Anna was drawn into trying to form a friendship with him once more.

The setting of Oxford was brilliant. I enjoyed reading about Anna and her group's adventures at the University, whether it was in their dorm rooms, or elsewhere, it was nice to read and easy to imagine as it's somewhere I have visited lots of times myself. Mercer portrays the young student group so realistically, you can believe they get up to everything they do in the book, and why it was Anna struggled so much in the aftermath of the tragedy, and why the group fell apart. All through the present day story, I was hoping Anna would find some peace and happiness, and for her to move on to her own future, not held back by what had happened in her past. You get the sense by the end perhaps this is something that could happen, and I found the ending very satisfactory, certainly room for you to make your own judgments on how things will pan on for these characters.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable book from start to finish. At no point was I flagging when I read this, my attention was kept throughout and I enjoyed the whole story. I very much liked the dual narrative of the story, with Anna's student days and her in the present day contrasting really well to deliver an intriguing and fascinating story that looks at the struggle from adolescence to adulthood, and the pitfalls and highs that come with that journey. Mercer's writing is very easy to read, I was able to easily escape into the book each evening, and enjoyed picking it up for a bit more of the story. Definitely recommended.

20 October 2014

eBook Cover Reveal: One Hundred Christmas Proposals by Holly Martin

Today I am thrilled to be part of the cover reveal for Holly Martin's exciting new Christmas novel called One Hundred Christmas Proposals. We'll be catching up with Harry and Suzie again, and if you've read One Hundred Proposals, you'll definitely want to read this sequel! It's out November 3rd.

You can pre-order One Hundred Christmas Proposals as an eBook now!

"If you thought Harry & Suzie’s life couldn't get anymore sweepingly romantic than Harry asking her to marry him at the end of One Hundred Proposals – think again!

It’s Christmas in a snow-kissed London, and the.PerfectProposal.com have vowed to carry out one hundred proposals in December. No easy task at the best of times - made even more complicated by Harry & Suzie trying to plan their first Christmas and a visit from the dreaded in-laws. But one hundred deliciously Christmassy proposals later they find themselves asking if everything is still perfect in their own relationship….

Welcome back to the divinely warm world of One Hundred Proposals – with a sprinkling of pure, joyful, festive magic."

19 October 2014

eBook Review: Humbugs and Heartstrings by Catherine Ferguson

"Two ex-friends. One Christmas to remember …

Bobbie's boss Carol is a real misery-guts, dedicated to making the lives of everyone around her unhappy in pursuit of every last penny. What makes it worse is that the two women have history: once they were best friends.

When handsome hotelier Charlie steps into the frame the two women go to battle as one sees a romantic future ahead and the other a possible lifeboat for her business. With wonderful warmth and humour, and the odd mince pie fight, the women are forced to confront their shared past, the turbulent present and, most importantly, the potential of the future."

Book Rating:

Festive Rating: 

You can buy Humbugs and Heartstrings as an eBook now.

Us chick lit fans have been so spoilt for festive fiction this year! There are so many amazing looking christmas books out, I really didn't know where to start this year! Luckily, the beginning was dictated to me as I needed to review this book for my blog tour stop, which is today. I couldn't wait to get started, Christmas books are my favourite books of the whole year, and so I wanted my first one to really get me in the mood and excited for more festive fiction! I was hoping for something hugely festive, but sadly I felt like it seriously lacked in festive feeling, although the story itself was good. However, with the cover and title, I had expected more Christmas-ness and this sadly didn't deliver!

The story itself, as I said was good. I enjoyed the writing of it, the pace and the romance of it all, and that would be have been a higher rating for me, but I really did miss the festive feeling which was such a shame. Yes, towards the end there is a little more but it just was too little, too late for me unfortunately. I loved the little hints towards Charles Dickens' traditional festive tale 'A Christmas Carol' throughout the book - instead of Bob Cratchett as the 'hero' of the book, we have Bobbie Blatchett, her sick little brother is also called Tim (Tiny Tim in Charles' book), and even the villain of the piece had a middle name harking back to Dickens's story, Ebenetta. It was cleverly done and I liked looking out for the little hints dotted throughout.

While I did enjoy the story, there was something very frustrating about Bobbie and the relationship with her boss/former best friend Carol. I was just longing for Bobbie to man up and say something about how she was being treated - I don't think many people could take the rubbish Carol deals her for as long as Bobbie does, and it seems strange that she would just put up with it. Carol was so easy to dislike, everything from her attitude to her duplicity makes you hate her all the more, and I was hoping that in some way, she would get her comeuppance. There was a particular scene between the two women that had me laughing out loud, but also entirely shocked that 2 adult women would behave in that way, at least there was a bit of festiveness about this scene however!

The token male of the story is Charlie, a rather wealthy hotelier that Bobbie immediately takes a liking too. He's handsome, rich and seems like a genuinely nice person too. However, knowing Charlie is in cahoots with Carol to help her ailing cleaning business puts Bobbie off airing her feelings, but is there going to be a way she can make them known without upsetting the business deal? I liked the whole 'will they, won't they' element to the book, and was yearning for a happy ending for Bobbie. Bobbie's own personal troubles with her family were weaved throughout the book, and I liked how loyal she was to her family, determined to help her mother save for her sick brother's desperately needed operation, this was a touching part to the story.

The book was very well written, but I can't help but feel this would have been received better by me had it not been marketed as a festive read. Yes, there's a Christmas fayre within, and the end of the book takes place on Christmas Day (not a spoiler of any kind, it's all leading up to that time of year anyway), but sadly that's about all the Christmas you're going to get in this. I longed for me, even though the story was plenty good enough for me. It's a heart-warming, well written story but just be aware if you're looking for a deeply festive book, this probably won't tick all the boxes for you, as it didn't for me. Nice to curl up with though, for a sweet romance that will keep you turning the pages.