26 July 2014

Book Review: Two Weddings and A Baby by Scarlett Bailey

"Tamsyn Thorne has not been back to her home town of Poldore for five long years.

But now her brother, Ruan, is about to get married and she has no excuses left.

Her plans to arrive in Cornwall looking chic and successful are dashed when a huge storm turns her from fashion goddess to a drowned rat. Worse, she ends up insulting the local hunky vicar - and then finds a tiny baby abandoned in his churchyard..."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy Two Weddings and a Baby as a paperback or an eBook now.

Scarlett Bailey is quickly flying up my must-read list, so when she released a summer this year, as opposed to her usual festive novel, I was really excited to read it and see what she would do with this one. I didn't realise before I started reading that it's sort of a follow up to her 2013 Christmas book Just for Christmas, which was a fantastic story. We go back to the fictional town of Poldore, catch up with the characters there and meet some new ones too. This book has just solidified Scarlett Bailey's place on my top 10 authors list, and makes me look forward to more from her!

Tamysn Thorne has stayed away from he home town for 5 long years, but now her brother Ruan is getting married to Alex, she knows she can't put off the inevitable any longer. She's got a successful career working in the fashion industry in Paris, and is sure returning to Cornwall is like a step backwards again. But as Tamsyn returns, a massive storm hits Poldore, and the town is left in ruins, as well as Tamysn utterly drenched. She manages to insult the local vicar Jed as she makes Poldore her home once more, and ends up finding a baby in the churchyard in the pouring rain. Tamsyn's life takes a massive turn as Poldore starts to pick itself up again, and maybe returning home wasn't the mistake Tamsyn thought it would be...

It actually doesn't matter if you haven't read Just for Christmas when you start this book - everything you need to know is explained well enough in this book, but I would personally recommend you read the previous novel, it was Christmas read of the year 2013 and was a superb story. The characters of Alex and Ruan, who were the main characters in that book, appear quite a lot in this book too, so it was lovely to catch up with them, as well as the other residents of Poldore. It was good to see them through Tamsyn's eyes too, someone who didn't know some of them and hasn't been around for a while. so it was good to re-meet these characters again.

Tamsyn's name had cropped up in Just for Christmas, but we didn't know too much about her. Therefore I enjoyed reading much more about her in this book. I found her quite unlikeable at first, she seemed snobby and rude to the locals, thinking she was to good to be back in Poldore after her luxurious life in Paris working in fashion. However, as the book goes on and more is revealed about Tamsyn, we realise perhaps she is different to the facade she puts on. I did warm to her, especially as she grows ever closer to the baby she rescued from the churchyard. Seeing her adapt to being a substitute mother for baby Mo was touching, and really enjoyed this, along with the scenes with Tamsyn and vicar Jed. The two had chemistry for sure, and I loved how Scarlett was able to weave the light-hearted side of their friendship with Jed's more serious past, it was so well written, it all just came together perfectly in the book.

The town of Poldore, although battered and broken, sounded as wonderful as ever. It has the sense of real community about it, everyone looking out for each other and caring for each other, especially in the aftermath of the storm. I loved everything about this book, from the return of Tamsyn and her transformation thanks to baby Mo, to Jed and his personal story, and all the other stories in between. I whizzed my way through the book because it was so enjoyable, and I felt so invested in the story, wanting to find out what Tamsyn would do, who Baby Mo's mum was and what would happen to Poldore. Bailey has a real talent for writing, and although it isn't overly summery due to the massive storm, it's a great beach read and one you'll want to devour once you start it! This is one of my favourite books by Scarlett Bailey so far, and I was especially pleased it was a follow-up to the brilliant Just for Christmas! Definitely a must-read from me.

25 July 2014

Book Review: Ice Creams at Carrington's by Alexandra Brown

"Georgie Hart and Carrington’s Department Store have got the world at their feet. Since a reality TV series put them both on the map, life has been amazing! Carrington’s profits are in the pink, Georgie has carved herself a place in the nation’s heart and her romance with Tom, the store’s boss, has finally blossomed.

Now summertime has come to Mulberry-on -Sea and Georgie is in great demand. The town is holding a big summer festival and she and her mates from Carrington’s are planning on making sure that Mulberry puts on the show of its life!

But Georgie is about to get the offer of a lifetime – one that is just too good to turn down and something that will test her loyalties to their limits… Will Georgie be able to pull off it off once again, or has her luck finally run out?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Ice Creams at Carrington's as a paperback or an eBook now.

I do love a good book series, so when Alexandra Brown first released her Carrington's series, I was really excited to start liking some new characters and get stuck into a new book series at long last. Ice Creams at Carrington's is the third book in the series, a gorgeous summery read that you'll want to be reading on the beach or at least in your garden on the sunlounger with an ice cream of your own in your hand! I love the cover as well, it's perfect for the book and matches the rest in the series too, which I always like. So here's why I think Ice Creams at Carrington's is the perfect summer read.

Georgie Hart is back, and is more successful than ever with her job at Carrington's department store. She's still happily in love with her boyfriend Tom, and it seems like life is treating her well. Carrington's is successful as a business, and with summer approaching, the store decides to sponsor the local summer festival in Mulberry-on-Sea. Georgie is put in charge of helping to organise the stalls and manage the store's input in the festival too due to her popularity after starring on a reality show based around Carrington's. However, Georgie soon realises the scale of the job she's taken on, and is being pulled in all sorts of directions.When she gets the offer of a lifetime, Georgie is torn between her loyalty to Carrington's and this amazing opportunity... which one will Georgie choose when push comes to shove?!

While you don't have to have read the previous books in the series to enjoy this one, it obviously helps to know the backstory of Georgie and Carrington's, as things are referenced. However, if you haven't read the other books, this is still a very enjoyable read and there's enough in there to tell you all you need to know. As this is the third book, I feel like I've gotten to know these characters really well, especially Georgie, Tom and Georgie's best friend Sam, who owns the cake shop within Carrington's. Georgie is the same as always - hard-working, kind and very dedicated to her job, but I liked that she was presented with a bit of a challenge in this book about what she really wants, and gets to travel a little as well, that was different!

I loved the idea of the summer festival - it's something that happens quite often in seaside town and it was easy to picture Mulberry-on-Sea in my mind covered in all the ice-cream vans, stalls and people milling around. The planning side isn't a piece of cake for Georgie though, and there are quite a few funny moments involving this that made me smile! As well as the funny and light-hearted bits of the book, there are quite a few serious sides to the book too, especially involving Georgie's best friend and new mum Sam. I really enjoyed these scenes, they were so well written, and Brown has really done them justice. She handled the emotion and feeling delicately and weaved this story alongside the main plot so well.

It was nice for the book to take a bit of a detour outside of Mulberry-on-Sea for a while, but I won't spoil it and say where Georgie goes on her travels! I liked the addition of this part of the book, and it really added a good element to it. If you've enjoyed the previous books in the series, then you'll definitely want to read this and find out what's next for Georgie and the Carrington's crew. I love reading about Georgie and Tom's relationship and how it grows throughout the books too, it's a sweet love story between those two! I'm hoping that there's still more to come for Georgie, and that we haven't left her behind for good now Alexandra is bringing out a new three-part series set in Tindledale with some new characters This is a lovely, light-hearted summer read that you'll definitely need to pop in your suitcase or on your kindle this summer!

Christmas in July: The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown

Yes, that's right, I've brought back the Christmas in July feature for an extra-special post, as I've been so excited to see the cover for this book!! Alexandra Brown is back this Christmas with a brand new novel called The Great Christmas Knit Off! It's a step away from her fab Carrington's series, so I can't wait to get stuck into this one! It's due out on November 6th, and this is the eBook cover - the paperback one is the same, only white instead of the red. I think this is way more festive though so that's why I've put this one here!

You can pre-order The Great Christmas Knit Off as a paperback or an eBook now.

"The perfect seasonal tale of how laughter, friends and wacky Christmas jumpers can mend a broken heart. For fans of Trisha Ashley and Jenny Colgan.

Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering at work that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to see an old friend in the picturesque village of Tindledale.

Tindledale seems to hark back to a bygone era and to her delight, Sybil also discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, can’t keep up with the rent and now the shop is due for closure. Sybil has some ideas that might help and when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen…"

22 July 2014

Book News: It Started With Paris by Cathy Kelly

Another book I am really looking forward to this autumn is Cathy Kelly's brand new novel, and her first with new publishers Orion! It's called It Started With Paris, and I have to say how much I love the cover, it's gorgeous! I'm lucky enough to have a proof copy already so I can get stuck in soon, but it's out on 9th October, so not too long to wait!

You can pre-order It Started With Paris as a hardback or an eBook now.

"It all started with Paris. At the top of the Eiffel Tower, a young man proposes to his girlfriend, cheered on by delighted tourists. In that second, everything changes, not just for the happy couple, but for the family and friends awaiting their return in Bridgeport, Ireland...

Leila's been nursing a badly broken heart since her love-rat husband just upped and left her one morning, but she's determined to put on a brave face for the bride. 

Vonnie, a widow and exceptional cake-maker, is just daring to let love back into her life, although someone seems determined to stop it.

And Grace, a divorced head teacher, finds the impending wedding of her son means that she's spending more time with her ex-husband. After all those years apart, is it possible she's made a mistake?"

21 July 2014

Book News: Pieces of You by Ella Harper

This September sees another new book I am really excited for. It's a release by Ella Harper called Pieces of You, her first book with publishers Avon, but it's not her first foray into the world of writing. Ella is a pseudonym of author Sasha Wagstaff, whose previous novels I have loved, but this sounds like a real departure from her previous writing. It's out on September 25th, and sounds fantastic.

You can pre-order Pieces of You as a paperback or an eBook now.

"The perfect marriage.

A devastating secret. 

An impossible choice.

Lucy was always sure of one thing – her future with husband and soulmate Luke. But after eight long, heartbreaking years trying to have a baby, that future is starting to crumble before her eyes.

When a terrible accident puts Luke into a coma, Lucy is forced to reassess everything she thought she wanted.

Then Stella arrives. A woman Lucy’s never met, but with a secret that will change her world forever…"

20 July 2014

Book Review: Thirteen Weddings by Paige Toon

"Sometimes you have to step out of the light to see clearly again…

Bronte never expected to see Alex after their one night together, but she never stopped thinking of him. So when she arrives at work one day to find that Alex is a new colleague, she is secretly thrilled. The only problem is that Alex is now engaged to Zara, the girl he was on a break from the night they met.

Determined to move on with life, Bronte becomes a part-time wedding photographer, alongside her day job. Surrounded by loving couples, warring couples, tearful bridesmaids, mischievous pageboys and interfering mothers-in-law, she tries to navigate her way through wedding after wedding while her heart is being torn apart.

As Alex's own wedding day draws ever nearer, Bronte and Alex's chemistry becomes harder to ignore, and Bronte must decide whether to fight for the man she loves, or to let him go forever."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Thirteen Weddings as a paperback or an eBook now.

Paige Toon is one of my favourite authors, and the release of a new book from her is always one of the highlights of my year! This year though, I've been lucky enough to have 2 new Paige Toon books to look forward to, the first being her first forray into YA called The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson, and this book, Thirteen Weddings. This isn't a sequel to any of Paige's previous books, but of course characters from her other books crop up in this book too, this is always one of my favourite things about Paige's books and I'm always excited to see who would pop up and what's been going on with their lives since I last read about them.

Bronte feels like she is happily settled in the UK now, having moved over from her native Australia a few years ago. She's got a good job working on a magazine, good friends and feels happy. However, she didn't expect to bump into someone she had a one night stand with a few years ago, a guy called Alex who seemed to have captured her heart. He's now engaged to Zara, and the fact he's a new work colleague is starting to make life difficult for Bronte - she's struggling to deal with all these feelings. When she gets a new part time job as a wedding photographer, Bronte thinks she might have found her calling, even though she finds it hard to be surrounded by all the loved-up couples. When she's told she has photograph Alex's wedding, Bronte realises she really needs to move on, but can't seem to stay away - will she be able to let Alex and Zara have their happy ever after?

I have to say that I felt this book was very different to Paige's other books. The story is really a love triangle - which man Bronte should end up with, and why. Paige's books are usually more than this, but that really is all there is to this book, and I was a bit surprised at that to be honest. Bronte has to decide whether she wants to be with Lachie, a guitar player she meets at a wedding she is photographing, or Alex, who is of course engaged, but she can't seem to get him out of her head. I didn't like that Bronte wanted to keep going after a man who was with another woman - I never think it's okay to do something like that and therefore in my head it was a no-brainer as to who she should be with - I didn't like that she couldn't move on from him, and was willing to sacrifice his relationship for them to be together.

The wedding photography aspect of the book was really good, and definitely my favourite thing about the book. There are thirteen weddings mentioned in the book, and each of them is so unique, I really did enjoy reading about each of them, and finding out what style the wedding would be, where it would be and about the new bride and groom. Obviously, each one isn't done in huge detail, enough to make it come alive in your mind, but I loved Bronte's descriptions as she was taking her photographs. Paige Toon has obviously researched photography carefully when writing this book, and writes about it with authority, I loved reading about Rachel and Bronte and their job. It's clearly a passion for both characters and that comes across so well.

As we move through the different weddings in the book, we find out that Bronte has a serious dislike of churches too. It takes quite a while for her reasoning to be revealed, and I have to confess I was shocked. It's nothing like anything that Paige has covered in her books before, but I thought it was really well handled, and goes some way to explain Bronte's reluctance towards relationships as well, and it made me sympathise with Bronte too. Bronte is a good character, likeable for the most part, except for her obsession with a taken man, perhaps mainly due to the fact they had such unfinished business from before. I found Alex dislikeable from the beginning, I just couldn't warm to him and didn't understand what it was Bronte saw in him. Then there's lovely Lachie, who seemed like the perfect man to me, and I just wanted Bronte to choose him. For me, it was a no-brainer, but clearly not for Bronte! Other friends make appearances, some with bigger roles than others but the story mainly focuses on these three people.

This was an enjoyable book, with a good cast of characters and a story that will keep you wanting to read until the end to find out exactly who Bronte is going to end up with. As I mentioned before, we do catch up with a few characters from previous books - Lily (Pictures of Lily), Laura (The Longest Holiday) and Alice (One Perfect Summer). I love this aspect of Paige's books more than anything, and it really keeps you in touch with those characters you've loved from before, it's so great! Paige's writing, as usual, is spot on and so easy to read and follow, there's humour, sadness, happiness and sadness weaved within the story and Paige Toon writes each of these with ease. It's a great book, Paige balances Bronte's love life with the more serious themes in the book, and it makes for great reading overall. I enjoyed the book, and can't wait for my next book from Paige Toon.

19 July 2014

eBook Review: The No-Kids Club by Talli Roland

"At almost forty, Clare Donoghue is living child-free and loving it.

Then her boyfriend says he wants kids, breaking off their promising relationship. And it's not just boyfriends: one by one, her formerly carefree friends are swallowed up in a nonstop cycle of play dates and baby groups. So Clare decides it's time for people who don't have children to band together. And so the No-Kids Club is born.

As the group comes together?Anna, who's seeking something to jumpstart a stale marriage, and Poppy, desperate for a family but unable to conceive?Clare's hoping to make the most of the childless life with her new friends.

Will the No-Kids Club be Clare's route to happiness, or will the single life lose its sparkle?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy The No-Kids Club as an eBook now!

I was really pleased when Talli Roland contacted me about reviewing her brand new book, The No-Kids Club. I've read a few of Talli's short stories previously, and I've enjoyed them a lot, and this sounded like a really interesting book. There's lot of novels out there based on motherhood, unexpected or otherwise, so the idea of a book about those women who did not want, or could not have, children was an interesting concept. As Talli is a relatively new mother herself too, I was curious to see how she would handle the story, and not make the main characters someone you can't relate to, which I sometimes find to be the case with a story like this.

Clare Donoghue is pretty happy with her life. She's approaching 40, she's single, child-free and has a good career that she enjoys. However, just as she is settling into her latest relationship, her boyfriend has a change of heart, decides he wants to have children after all, and so ends it with a devastated Clare, who thought she might have found the one. Clare decides she needs to connect with other adults who don't want children either, and so begins the No-Kids Club. Clare meets two women - Anna, whose marriage is feeling a bit worn and in need of some attention, and Poppy, who wants children more than anything but it seems like it isn't on the cards for her or her husbands. Will Clare be able to make some new friends at the club, or is her life destined for another path?

Due to the way this book was handled, you'll definitely to be able to love it, or even relate it to it whether or not you want children, or if you even have them too. I really enjoyed reading this straight from the beginning - the characters were likeable, especially Clare, and I really found myself liking her a lot. She's quite happy with her decision not to have children, but it's the social pressure from everyone else that gets to her - I think it is true that when a woman reaches a certain age, we all assume that she will start to want children, but that hasn't happened for Clare. When she decides to start the No-Kids Club, she wants to meet like-minded people, and you can understand that - although it isn't exactly what she gets at her first meeting!

The other characters in the book had differing opinions on children and families too. There's Poppy, who wants to be a mum more than anything, but nature seems to be going against her at the moment. I did feel very sorry for her, she was clearly torn inside about what was happening, but the things that she did in the book I had a hard time sympathising with, I felt she made bad choices and seemed a little crazy at times. I did like Anna too, who was struggling with her marriage, and although the pair were happy without children, you can sense Anna's fed up with her life somewhat. The three women represent many differing opinions on life as an adult, with or without children, and I enjoyed reading their relationships, seeing how they are all affected by their circumstances, and how they each dealt with them.

Talli's writing throughout the book was so easy to read, and I enjoyed every moment that I got to pick up this book. There is humour, emotion, sadness, shock and lots more covered in this novel, and Talli Roland really brings everything about this story to life, from the characters to the setting. Talli was able to put across these differing views about parenthood so well, you can understand each of these characters, in particular Clare, and begin to empathise with them. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish, a subject that is perhaps still a bit taboo is covered really well here, and written in a way that makes you want to keep reading until you reach the final page! If you haven't discovered Talli Roland yet, you won't do far wrong from beginning with this book, a brilliant read.