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.

18 October 2014

Book Review: The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan

"Having unexpectedly lost her husband and lacking the means to support herself, Josie DiSanti and her two daughters take refuge in the small town of Mill River, to live with Josie's aunt, Ivy. The sisters, Rose and Emily, are inseparable growing up - until a shocking tragedy tears them apart.

Years later, Rose and Emily return to Mill River for the reading of their mother's will, where they learn that Josie would do anything to force their reconciliation: the sisters must move into neighbouring houses for the summer and work together to locate the key to Josie's safe deposit box, which contains their inheritance. And so, left with no choice, Rose and Emily reluctantly begin their search. But in a place known for its magic and miracles, little do they know that an even greater treasure awaits them."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Mill River Redemption as a paperback or an eBook now.

I was really pleased to be sent a review copy of The Mill River Redemption by publishers Sphere. I first read Darcie Chan's work a few years ago when I read her debut novel, a New York Times Bestselling hit called The Mill River Recluse. It was an emotional but beautifully written book, and I was really excited to get back to Mill River and catch up with the residents. This isn't a sequel to the first book, the story is entirely separate, but for those of us who did read Darcie's first book, it's nice to go back to the town of Mill River and see how things have changed for the residents that we met before. This, though, is even better than her first book, and here's why it is a must-read for me.

Sisters Rose and Emily DiSanti are devastated by the death of their beloved mother Josie. The 2 women are forced to return to Mill River, the town where they grew up but both left years later, neither speaking to the other after a rift that destroyed the bond the girls had. Even in death, Josie is determined to bring the girls back together again, and leaves them a treasure trail of sorts that they must work together to solve in order to gain their inheritance. However, the women are determined not to work together, and neither wants to back down from their stance and it leaves their inheritance hanging in the balance. Will they be able to put their past arguments behind them and work together for one last time?

This story was really good to read from the beginning. Throughout the book, we get flashbacks to the childhood of Emily and Rose with their mother, and these scenes were among some of my favourites. It sounded like they had a pretty idyllic childhood, apart from the shocking death of their father, but everything else was pretty good. Josie, a single mum, is determined to make a success of herself and I enjoyed reading about her building up a career as a realtor (estate agent to us in the UK, I think!) with everything else she has to juggle as well. It all makes their separation now more puzzling, and you know it has to be something bad to drag these once-close sisters apart from each other. As the story moves on and we find out what happened, it is shocking, and I actually could understand the animosity between the pair, especially from Emily's point of view.

The present-day story from these two was very intriguing to read as well. The women are forced to live next door to each other, per their mother's request in her will, and immediately you sense things aren't going to go well. Rose is now a married mother to her son Alex, a gifted child who is forced to live with his mum in Mill River while his father remains in New York. However, Rose is hiding a dark secret, and she's determined to keep it hidden in Mill River. Emily is still single, and determined not to befriend her sister after all the time apart. It's hard to read the hatred between the two, I was longing for them to make it up. It was so well written, jumping from one story to the other with ease, and keeping the reader engaged. We also get to catch up with other residents in between the main story, something else I really enjoyed about the book as it kept it fresh, and it was nice as someone who has read Darcie's previous book to see these characters again.

As before, Mill River sounded utterly picturesque, and the perfect place for Emily and Rose to try and solve their differences. Darcie Chan's writing was fantastic throughout this book as well, allowing the story to develop at a slow pace, but keeping it pacey at the same time. She juggles many stories, from present day to the flashbacks, and the other residents of Mill River too, but it's easy to keep track and follow the story. I especially loved the inclusion of the girls' Great Aunt Ivy, she was fab and I loved reading her part in the girls upbringing and subsequent lives. It was a very moving story, a family saga that will leave you wanting more and sniffing into your tissue by the end at the emotion of it. All the elements of this book have come together perfectly, and I can whole-heartedly recommend this book, it's unputdownable, and just brilliant.

eBook News: Driving Home for Christmas by A. L. Michael

Another festive read coming this year is a new eBook author with Carina, A. L. Michael, whose new book Driving Home for Christmas is out at the end of this month on October 28th. I absolutely love the gorgeous cover, and the title, which also happens to be the title of my favourite Christmas song!

You can pre-order Driving Home for Christmas as an eBook now.

"Megan McAllister is home for Christmas…whether she likes it or not!

Christmas is about family…and for Megan family means two people: herself, and her daughter Skye. It doesn’t mean her parents who, ten years ago, saw her pregnancy as anything but a miracle. And it definitely doesn’t include her irresistible ex-boyfriend Lucas Bright.

So ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ has never been top of Megan’s festive playlist. But for Skye, she knows she needs to spend the holiday season with the people she’s left behind. She can do this. Even if the thought of meeting Lucas under the mistletoe still has her feeling like she’s drunk one-too-many Snowballs!

But somewhere between the hanging of stockings and the crackle of wrapping paper, Christmas starts to sparkle. And Megan begins to wonder if family could be bigger than her and Skye after all…"

15 October 2014

Book Review: The Beginner's Guide to the Birds and the Bees by Sophie Hart

"Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone in order to give a relationship a good dose of TLC…

Sex therapist Annie Hall helps couples put the fizz back into their relationships. It’s a shame her own love life is non-existent. When Jamie who works next door catches her eye, she can’t ignore the spark of chemistry.

Most men would jump at the chance to skive off work for an afternoon quickie with their gorgeous wife, but Nick knows Julia is after only one thing – a baby. Sex shouldn’t be a chore. Can Annie help Julia see that?

Newly engaged Zoe and Simon can’t keep their hands off each other. They’ve decided to take a vow of celibacy until their wedding night. Will Annie help them stick to it? 

Roy and Linda have been married for over thirty years but she’s more interested in the family business than getting intimate with him. Can Annie convince Linda to rediscover her passion for Roy after all this time?

While Annie begins to work her magic with the three couples, she soon discovers that she’ll need to take some of her own advice if she’s going to let a new man into her life."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Beginner's Guide to the Birds and the Bees as an eBook or a paperback now.

I read Sophie Hart's debut novel The Naughty Girl's Book Club last year and absolutely loved it, so I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to review her newest book with brand new publishers Bookouture called The Beginner's Guide to the Birds and the Bees. Again, Sophie Hart has tackled a bit of a taboo subject, sex therapy, and I was wondering where this story was going to go! However, it was an utterly brilliant book that I loved from start to finish, the story was fantastic and I can't recommend it highly enough!

The main character is Annie, who works as a sex therapist. Despite being able to right the wrongs in other people's relationships, she can't seem to make a success of her own, and is perpetually single much to the chagrin of her parents and her happily-loved-up sister. I loved Annie, she was such a nice person, good at her job and unafraid to help even the toughest of cases, and I admired her for that, and her job overall actually! Reading about Annie's job was eye-opening, I think I had envisioned it to be a bit naughtier than it was, but as it happened I enjoyed reading about Annie's sessions with her clients, and finding out about their various problems.

The other characters in the book happen to be Annie's clients that she meets at her office. There's newly engaged couple Zoe and Simon, who are attending Annie's therapy for a different reason to most, but they are sure it's the way to a successful marriage together. There's married couple Nick and Julia who are trying for a baby, but it's starting to affect their marriage and their sex life, can Annie help them get things back on track? The last couple to see Annie are Roy and his wife Linda, they've been married for many years and things have got a bit stagnant. Ray wants more from his marriage, but is that more than Linda wants to give?

As you can see, there's a lot of different characters in the book, but they are all so different that it's easy to differentiate between them all. I loved Zoe and Simon's story, it was really touching and I enjoyed the fact it was very different to the other couples who are having trouble in their marriage. I also enjoyed how Annie handled the troubles between Ray and Linda, and Nick and Julia. I did feel sorry for the males in this book, Nick and Ray, they just want a happy marriage but their wives are just unhappy for different reasons. Nick and Julia are affected by infertility, and the way this was explored in the book was really touching, and very well written.

For me, this was a fantastic story that was so well written, I couldn't stop reading and did not want to put down until the end. I enjoyed following these characters of their journey, whether it was to solve their marriage problems, or to find some sort of happiness for poor Annie, who seems to sort everyone else's love woes apart from her own! There was a great cast of characters here, lots of fun and laughs as well as some tears and sadness, but this just adds to the brilliance of the book. A lot of what happens to these couples is very relatable, you can imagine yourself or people you know going through these problems and that's what made it so enjoyable for me. The writing flows so well, the narrative worked perfectly for the multiple characters, and overall this was a superb read. I won't forget this book for a long time, and I can't wait to read more from Sophie Hart. A must-read!

12 October 2014

Book Review: It Started With Paris by Cathy Kelly

"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?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy It Started With Paris as a hardback or an eBook now.

I've read a few of Cathy Kelly's books and while they have been enjoyable, none have really stood out to me as reads I would want to go back to once I had finished. I was really excited to receive a signed proof copy of Cathy's new book It Started With Paris from her new publishers Orion, complete with a brand new cover look too. I have to be honest, the cover is far more something I would pick up over her older covers, and so I eagerly began the 500 page novel, hoping for a brilliant story and luckily Cathy didn't disappoint!

There's quite a few characters in this book to get your head around but once you get them set in your head, it's easy to follow and work out who is who. The characters are all inter-linked, whether it's by friendship or family links, and I enjoyed this aspect of the book very much, and how Cathy Kelly brings them altogether throughout the book too, to weave a wonderful tale. It begins with a proposal at the top of the Eiffel tower, and the story slowly continues from there. It does move at a relatively slow pace, but it works because there are so many separate stories going on, and you need the detail in each of them for the book to work effectively.

One of my favourite characters in the book was Leila. She's recently separated from her love-rat husband and is struggling to get over him, despite what he did to her. She's also ended up moving into her elderly mother's house to look after it and her dog after she has a terrible fall, and she's forced to face some shocking home truths. Leila does struggle with her emotions in the book, with her relationship with her sister and lots more but I enjoyed reading her story, and seeing her character develop. The different relationships she has within the story had me fixed, from the tentative one with her mother, to the close one she has with her best friend Katy.

Katy and her family also feature heavily in the book. Katy is the character who got engaged, and the upcoming wedding is a big part of the book. We meet her parents, and her fiancé Michael and his divorced mother and father. Michael's mother Grace, a headteacher at a primary school, was another of my favourite characters in the book. She's totally passionate about her job and I loved that, as well as being a devoted mother, and maintaining a good relationship with her ex-husband too. Her story was intriguing, and I was desperate to finish it to find out how things would end up for these characters. As you can see, there are lots of different stories and characters to get your head around, but I love a good family drama and that's exactly what has been delivered here.

Cathy Kelly's writing in this book was brilliant, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from start to finish. She manages to weave many different tales together seamlessly, with the book easily switching from one character to the next smoothly, leaving the reader easily able to follow. There's a lot of emotion in the book too, and Cathy chooses to tackle some quite hard-hitting themes, from illness to eating disorders, failed marriages and single parenthood, all within one book, but it worked for me. Yes, the title hints at a romance, but there's a lot more going on in this book than the cover and title would suggest. For me, this is Cathy Kelly's best book out of all the ones I have read, and when my mum read it, she told me that this is Cathy Kelly 'back to her best'. I loved this book, it's definitely on my keepers shelf and I'm very much looking forward to Cathy's next book.

8 October 2014

Blog Tour: It Started With Paris by Cathy Kelly

I am really excited to be part of Cathy Kelly's blog tour for her brilliant new book It Started With Paris, which I read and loved a few weeks ago. Cathy was kind enough to write me a short piece on engagements in Paris for my blog tour stop so please enjoy it! I will be reviewing It Started With Paris later on today. The book is out tomorrow!

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

"Romance, lights, the Eiffel Tower and a man with a ring…. Yes, it’s the beginning of It Started With Paris and it can only mean one thing: an engagement! When I was younger, engagements on the Eiffel Tower were very popular – cheap flights, you see. And now, we’ve got cheaper flights so I began to think about where you could go for a fabulously romantic engagement in Paris. Obviously, you need to get your man/woman to read this first…

1. Along the banks of the Sene, with glorious honeyed stone buildings rising up behind you and the scent of romance in the air. People will queue to take your photo. 

2. In the Louvre – think about this one. It’s such a thrill to descend beneath the amazing glass pyramid in the first place, but imagine telling people that you stood in front of the Venus de Milo in the Greek and Roman ceramics and your beloved sank to his knees?

3. At night, as you walk in the Jardin de Tuilerie, with the Louvre behind you, the marvellously wild Parisian ferris wheel glittering on one side, and the scent of roses in the air…?

4. Find a lovely dark restaurant (they understand the need for lovely darkened lighting in Paris), where you can get a quiet booth at the back, people will be all around you murmuring in their own languages, or French (even better) and your darling murmurs: ‘will you marry me?'

Girls, would there be anything better? I don’t think so!!

Love, Cathy

Thanks so much, Cathy!

4 October 2014

eBook Review: A Place for Us (Part 2) by Harriet Evans

"The day Martha Winter decided to tear apart her family began like any other day. 

The house has soft, purple wisteria twining around the door. You step inside.

The hall is cool after the hot summer's day. The welcome is kind, and always warm.

Yet something makes you suspect life here can't be as perfect as it seems.

After all, the brightest smile can hide the darkest secret.

But wouldn't you pay any price to have a glorious place like this?

Welcome to Winterfold.

Martha Winter's family is finally coming home."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy A Place for Us (part 2) as an eBook now.

I'm not usually keen on book serialisations, I would prefer to sit down with the entire thing and enjoy reading it in one go. However, I have been looking forward to each part of the serialisation of Harriet Evans' new book A Place for Us, so it must be pretty good so far! This review is of the second part of the series, you can read my review of the first part here. However, I will give you a quick recap. In the first part, we met the Winter family, the many members of them, and their receiving of their annual party invitations from matriarch Martha Winter. We know that there is a secret that Martha is hiding, and it's going to be revealed at the party, and we get a hint right at the end of part 1 what that secret is. This is where part 2 picks up.

The extended Winter family have gathered for the party, looking forward to being reunited and sharing some laughs and secrets together as well... although some have more secrets to indulge than others. Things aren't well with all of the Winter's, son Bill's marriage is crumbling before his very eyes as his wife Karen reveals a shocking secrets, Cat's bringing along a brand new member of the family that no-one knew existed before, and Florence is hell-bent on getting some revenge against those who have wronged her. Combine this with the reveal of Martha's big secret and you're in for an explosive read...

As I mentioned previously, there are a lot of characters in this book to get your head around, but once you have worked out who is who, it's an easy read. It's just a matter of working out where they come in the family, and how they are related to one another! This is definitely a book you can't just dive into, you need to have read the first part for this to make sense. In this book, we find out much more about the secret that Martha has been hiding, and it was a shocking one. None of the Winter family had a clue about the secret either, and it was interesting to read their individual reactions once the secret had been exposed to all of them. Of course, this wasn't the only secret in the book and this made it all the more fun to read.

One thing I enjoyed about this part of the novel was that I felt we saw a different side to a few of the characters. Florence was a much stronger character in this book, keen on getting revenge for what has happened to her by her colleagues, and her brother Bill is also far stronger, standing up to his wife and finding out about her secret too. I also liked the introduction of a young character called Luke, a breath of fresh air in an older family, and he's fun to read. As always, Harriet Evans' writing is brilliant, very emotive and draws you in to the book, making you want to keep on reading and find out what is going to happen next. Although this part saw the big reveal, I have a feeling there are a lot more revelations to come for the Winter family, and I cannot wait to read part three! The end of this part literally leaves you begging for more. Bring on part three!

eBook News: Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake by Sue Watson

I might have only just read Sue Watson' last book Love, Lies and Lemon Cake but already I am excited to read her brand new Christmas novel too! It's published on October 17th and is called Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake! I am in love with this cover, and the book sounds fab too - if it's half as good as the last one I read, we are in for a real treat! I can't wait!

You can pre-order Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake as an eBook now.

"For Tamsin Angel, Christmas is always the biggest and best… chic parties and a little showbiz sparkle are a must. This year though, things aren’t going quite as planned…

With bailiffs suddenly at the door and her husband nowhere to be found, it looks like Christmas just got downsized. Moving into her sister’s one-bedroom flat, she wonders whether things will ever be the same again.

After losing her husband on Christmas Eve, Sam Angel has rebuilt her life around her son Jacob and her new business – The White Angel Bakery. She’s also found herself a very handsome, loving boyfriend, but is struggling to let go of the past.

Thrown together with a sprinkle of Christmas magic, Sam and Tamsin might just learn a little more about each other – and themselves. But when disaster strikes at the bakery, will they be able to save the day in time for Christmas? "

3 October 2014

eBook Review: Love, Lies and Lemon Cake by Sue Watson

"Faye Dobson has lost her sparkle. Living on film star fantasies and vague memories of a marriage that once was, she can’t help feeling that life is passing her by. She dreams of being whisked to Paris for dinner, making three wishes at the Trevi fountain and having sex under the stars. But the wrinkles are multiplying, her husband’s passion is for plumbing, and the nearest she’ll get to Rome is a take-away pizza. 

So when Faye meets Dan the gorgeous Australian surfer guy working in the local deli she can’t help but wonder what it would be like to see the world. He is blonde, tanned, ten years younger and bakes the most amazing lemon cake. Unlike her husband Dan actually listens to Faye, his smile makes her feel fizzy inside, and when he smiles... Oh. My. God. 

But is Faye being silly? What would Dan see in someone like her? Even if he did have feelings for her, could she give up everything to be with him? "

Rating: 5/5

You can buy Love, Lies and Lemon Cake as an eBook or a paperback now.

I have had Sue Watson's latest book Love, Lies and Lemon Cake sitting on my kindle for a good few months now. I really had no idea what to read next a few days ago, and decided that it sounded like my sort of read. I eagerly began, hoping it would be a read that I could lose myself in and enjoy. Luckily, Sue Watson has definitely delivered a superb novel here and now I can't wait to read more from this author, she's brilliant!

The book is about Faye Dobson, who is unhappily married to her husband, and is sure she can't go on being miserable in her marriage. Her daughter Emma has gone away to University, and now Faye knows it is the time to break away from her dull life, and find something better for herself. She moves in with her friend and boss at the hairdressers where she works, and sets about bettering herself at last. She meets Australian surfer Dan at the local deli where she goes to collect her lunch, and she is sure there's a spark between the two of them, despite the fact he's 10 years younger than her. Will Faye be able to see past the age gap and allow herself to be happy with Dan?

I love it when I can rave about a book, and that's exactly what I am going to do with this book. Right from the first few pages, I loved this book and found it so easy to read. I loved the main character of Faye from the start, miserable from being stuck in a loveless marriage, and I really did want her to find some happiness and the man she deserves to have. Yes, it's sad her marriage broke down, but you can see how truly happy she is once she moves away from it and I loved that for her. I also loved how she found a new side to herself when her friendship grew with Dan, she was so insecure about their friendship and it was sweet reading Dan try to bring Faye out of herself a bit more. Dan was a fantastic character too, you could see why Faye warmed to him so quickly.

I loved the different settings for this book as well. A part of the book is set at the hairdressers where Faye works, with her boss Sue that she eventually moves in with after she leaves her husband. Through this part of the book, we also meet Mandy, one of the other hairdressers at the salon and her sad backstory, and I liked how this was approached in the book and how it fitted in with the other stories, but there is a bit of a lighter side to her as well which had me laughing out loud! There was also a lot of story set at the deli were Dan works, and the descriptions of all the amazing food there were so mouth-watering! You could see why Faye kept going back agian and again, both the food and the company sounded pretty amazing!

This was a fantastic read, and I honestly loved everything about it. Sue Watson's is so fantastic to read, I could completely lose myself in the novel and felt absorbed by Faye's story. I liked the fact the story is based around an older woman finding a new happiness for herself after the death of her marriage, and it's not like any other book I have read before either. This book is laugh-out-loud funny, poor old Faye manages to get herself into a few funny situations, but I loved that she often saw the bright side in it all too! The book certainly lives up to its title as well, with lots of love, lies and lemon cake making an appearance in the book! This is a fantastic feel-good read, I loved it and would whole-heartedly recommend it. Brilliant.

1 October 2014

eBook News: Escape for Christmas by Ruth Saberton

One of my favourite summer reads this year was Ruth Saberton's eBook Escape for the Summer. So imagine my delight when I saw on Amazon that there is a second book in Ruth's 'Escape' series called Escape for Christmas. I can't wait to catch up with Gemma and Cal, this is sure to be a brilliant read, especially as it's based around Christmas! It's due out on 30th October from Notting Hill Press.

You can pre-order Escape for Christmas as an eBook now.

"Gemma Pengelley is looking forward to a romantic Christmas with her boyfriend Cal, far away from the chaos caused by their well-meaning family and friends. After a whirlwind of a year some quality time in a picturesque Cornish cottage is exactly what they need. 

But when ghosts of partners past, a tangled web of secrets and the demands of a reality television show strike at the very heart of Gemma’s plans, her dreams of the perfect Christmas crumble. Will she still find her Christmas escape? Or is Gemma just running away? "