27 July 2011

Book Review: The Comeback Girl by Katie Price

Once upon a time, Eden had it all; she was one of the most successful young singers in the UK, and the darling of the pop industry. Life couldn’t have been better. But just two years after a sell-out tour, Eden is regarded as a has-been, better known for her drinking and the kiss-and-tell stories that a string of men have sold to the papers.

Desperate to get back in the big time, Eden begins recording a new album with songwriter Jack Steele, a man who drives her crazy for all the wrong reasons. And then she’s asked to be a judge on the TV talent show Band Ambition. It’s just the break she needs and she’s determined not to mess it up, so falling in love with Stevie, a contestant on the show, is probably not a very good idea. But Eden has always followed her heart, and she is sure Stevie is 'the one'.

But is Eden setting herself up for another fall?

Who in this country doesn't know Katie Price? It isn't a secret that Katie doesn't sit there and slave over a laptop, typing up every word of the story herself. She comes up with the idea for a book and her ghost writer, author Rebecca Farnworth actually writes the book for her. I think its a cheek she has her name on the cover and makes a lot of money from books she doesn't write, and the fact there are plenty of fantastic authors out there who can't get in with the big publishers yet Katie Price can churn out this drivel year after year is grossly unfair. Her stories are easy to read and certainly don't tax your brain but there was something about this book I just couldn't stand. Yes, the cover is bright, glitzy and lovely but that's the only nice thing about this book.

25 July 2011

Book Review: A Rural Affair by Catherine Alliott

Newly widowed Poppy Shilling should be feeling distraught at the death of her husband, Phil. But, instead, she can't help feeling relieved. No longer will she have to endure Phil's iron fist ruling over her and their two young children, or his unfortunate penchant for lycra cycling wear.
What's more, when a secret is revealed after his death, Poppy's memories of their life together are turned upside down.

Freed from the shackles of her loveless marriage, Poppy is determined not to make the same mistakes again. Fully embracing village life, she becomes the object of the local menfolk's affections- from Bob, the resident odd ball, to Luke, the sexy church organist. But it's just her luck that the one man who catches her eye can't seem to let go of his glamorous ex wife...

Will Poppy have the courage to follow her heart and refuse to settle for second best? It's time for a new beginning, and a chance to discover what real love feels like...
I've not yet read a Catherine Alliott novel, but I was looking forward to trying her new novel A Rural Affair. I was really put off by the cover at first - it really isn't inspiring and I don't think opens up the book to a wide age demographic, but I was willing to give it a go anyway. The idea of a wife being somewhat relieved at the death of her husband was quite interesting, and I wondered how Alliott would approach the issue and continue Poppy's story. At 464 pages, it isn't a short novel and I did find it hard going at times, I do felt it could have been a bit shorter with some scenes being easily cut, but I carried on nonetheless and ploughed through the book as best I could.

20 July 2011

Book Review: Breakfast in Bed by Eleanor Moran

TAKE ONE NEWLY SINGLE WOMAN: At thirty-one, Amber is being bombarded with wedding invitations just as she's collecting her divorce papers - and her bossy best friend has gone one step further and made her chief bridesmaid. It's high time Amber regained control of her life. ADD A PASSIONATE AND FIERY CELEBRITY COOK: Amber's joy at landing herself a coveted role in Oscar Retford's kitchen soon fades as she discovers Oscar is as famous for his furious temper and addiction to firing people as he is for the legendary meals he creates. TURN UP THE HEAT: But as passions start to run high, and her past catches up with her, it looks like Amber's cooked up a recipe for disaster ... 

I have to admit this is a book that wasn't on my radar for a while, I had read Eleanor Moran's debut novel Stick or Twist and enjoyed it, but didn't get around to reading her second book which Leah did do and enjoyed it. When I saw the book cover, I thought it was lovely with the blue and black shadows, yet I actually loved the proof copy even more, and I'm not sure why the publishers didn't go for that. It was bright pink as opposed to the blue, and it just looked far more eye-catching and attractive to me. Ah well, I'm sure a lot of decision went into the blue, so that's what we are left with! I've only previously read one book set in a kitchen, Miriam Morrison's Recipe for Disaster, so I was looking forward to seeing if this one would be a good read too.

19 July 2011

Book Review: California Dreamers by Belinda Jones

Ever wished you could make-over your life?

Make-up artist Stella is an expert at helping other people change their images, but when it comes to transforming herself, she doesn't even know where to start.

So when her new friend, glamorous Hollywood actress Marina Ray, summons her a movie set in California, Stella can't resist the chance to start afresh - it is the land of sunshine and opportunity after all!

But are they really friends or does Marina have an ulterior motive? What is the secret that both women are hiding about the nautical (but nice) men in their lives? And what will it take to really make both of their California dreams come true?

In a Pacific Coast journey that takes in Los Angeles, the world's most romantic ranch and California's very own castle in the sky - this story of friendship, long-distance love, kissing (and making up) is the perfect escapist read.

I adore Belinda Jones' book and her releases are one of the one I really look forward to each year. Her past few releases have been fantastic holiday books, about far flung destinations that you can really get lost in, and stories that are extremely readable. I have to admit I was a little surprised when I received a copy of  California Dreamers as the book was really thin compared to most of Jones' others books (just over 300 pages) but I hoped the story inside was just as good, albeit slightly shorter than before! The cover is absolutely gorgeous, one of my favourite summer covers as it happens, so I quickly delved in when it arrived, but I have to say I wasn't as impressed as I have been before by Belinda's books which was a shame!

My initial issue was with the fact that the book didn't really seem to go very far, despite the fact it moves quickly over to LA, has a good cast of characters and is based on a movie set. I found that Stella got the job in America very easily and in that respect it moved quickly over to LA where she began to work on the movie set, yet after that it slowed right down and in parts, I really struggled to wonder where it was actually headed, and what big event was coming up in the book. It took almost until the end for something to happen, and even then it was a bit of an anti-climax because I wasn't expecting that ending and it seemed a bit out of the blue for me. I literally sat there thinking "is this it?" because it really didn't seem like that could be the big ending that the book was working up to. When I turned the last page, it just felt like something was missing somewhere, like I couldn't have possibly finished the book there!

Stella is a good character, a British make up artist suddenly given the job of a lifetime after she finds some surprise common ground with one of the world's biggest models and actresses, Marina Ray. This friendship happens a bit too perfectly and quickly for my likking, but I guess it enables the book to move on quickly and get going with the movie storyline. I liked her, she is a good narrator for the book and I could understand how she felt a bit out of the loop with the richer and more powerful characters around her. Marina was likeable too, something I didn't expect but she did have her annoying parts that got on my nerves a bit, such as taking Stella for granted so much... I really wanted Stella to turn around for once and say no to her! The male characters are a bit few and far between to be honest, and my favourite was Marina's other half.

I found it interesting that the US Navy plays such a big area of the book as it isn't something you often read much about within the chick lit genre. Jones chooses to write that 2 of the female characters have/had boyfriends within the Navy and the impact that has had on their relationships, both good and bad. This is hammered home quite a bit by the characters, a little too heavily in parts but it makes for interesting reading as it isn't something I would usually find in a Belinda Jones novel! Despite the fact Stella is a make up artist, there isn't actually a lot in the book about make up, it is briefly mentioned in scenes where Stella is doing her job but it does seem a bit glossed over. This is the second book recently with the character having a make up artists job and in both, no great detail is bestowed upon the reader which is a shame.

Overall, this was a good summer read but just didn't live up to my expectations unfortunately. It's a good book but doesn't compare to the likes of my favourite Belinda book 'Out of the Blue' 'Livin' La Vida Loca' and 'The California Club'. For me, there wasn't enough about the place of LA, my favourite part of Jones' book is her descriptions of the exotic locations and the fun the characters get up to. In this book, Stella was too wrapped up in her job and the film, which didn't really overly interest me unfortunately and so I found my interest waning in parts which was a real shame. I'm sure it is going to be a summer hit, but for die hard Belinda fans, I'm sure that you will see what I mean about it not quite getting to the heights of her previous books when you read it, which is a such a shame. Perhaps its my fault for building it up so much, but I know what fantastic books Belinda Jones can deliver, and sadly this just wasn't up there for me!

Rating: 3/5

14 July 2011

Book Review: The House By The Sea by Santa Montefiore

An irresistibly compelling from the internationally bestselling author Ten-year-old Floriana is captivated by the beauty of the magnificent Tuscan villa that overlooks the sea just outside her small village. She likes to spy from the crumbling wall into the gardens, and imagine that one day she'll escape her meagre existence and live there. One day, Dante, the son of the villa's powerful industrialist owner, invites her inside. From that moment on Floriana knows that her destiny is there, with him. But as they grow up they cross an unseen line, jeopardising the very thing they hold most dear. Decades later and hundreds of miles away, a beautiful old country house hotel on England's Devon coast has fallen on hard times. Its owner, Marina, advertises for an artist-in-residence to stay the summer and teach the guests how to paint. Rafael Santoro is charismatic and wise, and soon begins to pacify the discord in her family. However, Rafa is not who he seems. He has his own agenda. Whether to destroy, to seduce, or to heal, it is certain to affect them all.

This is the second of Santa Montefiore's novels I have read. I really enjoyed her previous release The Affair and so when I received a review copy of her latest book, I was looking forward to getting stuck in. I was quite surprised to find out that Santa Montefiore is the sister of socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, something I only found out after googling her before writing this review to find out a bit more about her. Montefiore has written many books, in fact this is her 11th title, but do be aware that this was published in the USA under the title of The Mermaid Garden. I think the English title is far more fitting to the book, I'm not really sure I understand why the US publishers chose to bring mermaid's into the title to be honest.

13 July 2011

Book Review: From London With Love by Jemma Forte

Everyone wants to be famous, don't they? Not Jessica Granger. Her father was the movie star who played the world's favourite James Bond and, worse, her mother was voted sexiest-ever Bond Girl for her role as Heavenly Melons. Like it or not, fame is in her blood. But Jessica dearly wants to be someone in her own right. So she flees Hollywood for London, seeking independence in a city where nobody knows her name. But when she finds a job as a celebrity booker on a chat show she realizes the more friends she makes, the harder it is to keep up the lies about who she is. And when Jessica falls for Paul, a writer on the show, her life as a double agent causes double trouble. With the truth of her past about to explode into her new world, can Jessica convince Paul she's the real deal? Or maybe a sprinkling of the old 007 magic will spice up her love life?
This is author Jemma Forte's second novel, and although I haven't read her first, Me and Miss M,I've heard it is good so I was really looking forward to reading this one. The cover for this book is just gorgeous, so pink and feminine yet the black works well against that as a contrast and gives it a funky and fresh look. It has to be said that I also love books which make me laugh, I think comedy is very important, and Forte is apparently great at making readers laugh, the reviews on Amazon made me feel very positive overall about reading this book! I couldn't wait to get stuck in and luckily, it didn't disappoint!

Author Interview: Jemma Forte

Author Jemma Forte is back this year with her second novel From London With Love, and a great one it is too. I'll be reviewing it on the site this afternoon, but until then, have a read of this interview Jemma kindly offered to do with me! I had the chance to ask her a few questions about her new book, and about herself too, so get to know a bit about Jemma, and come back soon to read my review of From London With Love! Enjoy!

Q1. Please tell us briefly about your new book 'From London With Love'.

From London with Love is about Jessica Granger, whose father, actor Edward Granger played the part of James Bond back in the 80's. Her mother was famous Bond girl Heavenly Melons so Jessica has grown up in the shadow of her parent's celebrity. Desperate for independence and the freedom to figure out what it is she wants to do with her life, away from people's pre conceptions, she leaves LA and comes to London. It's not long before she finds a job as an assistant at the BBC and falls for Paul, a writer on the show. However, life soon starts to grow rather complicated for Jessica.

Q2. The book is about living a secret life in a new place - where did you get this idea from, and is Jessica Granger/Bender based on anyone in real life?

Jessica is one of my completely made up characters. I say that because there often are characters who are inspired by people I know. I've pinched her name though. My sister's called Jessica.

With regard to the idea, when pondering what to write for my second book, I thought fairly early on that it would be really interesting to explore the idea of what it would be like to have a famous parent. Would it be a help or a hindrance? Would people make assumptions about you and assume you had everything really easy? In order to make it really interesting though, I felt it was important that my heroine had no interest whatsoever in exploiting who she was. No interest in following in her parent's footsteps in the slightest. Quite the opposite in fact. When I finally thought of making the famous parent James Bond, the rest of the plot just fell into place and the book was a joy to write. It also immediately gained so much potential for comedy.

6 July 2011

Book Review: All For You by Sheila O'Flanagan

As TV's favourite weather forecaster, Lainey is good at making predictions. But what she doesn't foresee is that her own life is about to hit a stormy patch. With a string of failed relationships behind her, surely history isn't about to repeat itself with her beloved Ken? To add fuel to the fire, her estranged mother announces that she's returning to Dublin. Deanna has always been dismissive of Lainey's choices - particularly in men. And Deanna's lectures are the last thing Lainey needs now. Yet is there more to her mother than she knows? Uncovering some long-concealed family secrets, Lainey begins to reassess her life. Is the happy-ever-after she's always dreamed of really what she wants after all?

I haven't read a Sheila O'Flanagan novel for a good few years, aside from a Christmas short story collection so I was quite excited to be reviewing her new release 'All For You'. I have to admit I'm not the hugest fan of the book cover, I don't think it really reflects the story inside very well and seems a bit too generic for me. However, I do think the brighter colours are quite welcome and update Sheila's books quite well. It's a big hardback book, at over 500 pages it isn't a short read but it is a good one.

Author Interview: Louise Douglas

Today I am pleased to welcome the lovely Louise Douglas to the site for an author interview! Louise is the author of new release The Secrets Between Us, as well as two previous fantastic novels, one of which won the RNA People's Choice Award in 2010, and has been very successful. I adored Louise's new book, and was really pleased to be given the opportunity to interview Louise. So here we go, enjoy!

Q1. Please tell us about your new novel 'The Secrets Between Us'.

 It’s about a young woman called Sarah who meets, an enigmatic man, Alexander at a time when she’s vulnerable and low. He tells her that his wife, Genevieve has left him and that he’s struggling to cope with their young son alone, so, to the horror of her family and friends, she moves to the other side of the country to help him look after the house and child. As she effectively begins to live Genevieve’s life, she becomes fascinated with her, but at the same time doubts about Alexander emerge and she has to question if he’s telling the truth, and if she can trust him at all. 

Q2. I found Sarah to be a great narrator, and sympathised with her throughout the book. You wrote the book with her first person narrative, do you find this is easiest to get way to get into your character, and did you find it easy to build up the tension of the Alexander/Genevieve story as you wrote without giving anything away to your readers?

 Thanks Chloe, and yes, I definitely like writing first person best! I enjoyed seeing things through Sarah’s eyes and finding out about Genevieve with her. Because quite a lot depends on Sarah’s interpretation of the situation, it would have been far more difficult to write this story third person. 

5 July 2011

Book Review: The Secrets Between Us by Louise Douglas

A chance encounter: When Sarah meets dark, brooding Alex,she grasps his offer of a new life miles away from her own. They’ve both recently escaped broken relationships, and need to start again. Why not do it together?

A perfect life: But when Sarah gets to the tiny village of Burrington Stoke, something doesn’t add up. Alex’s beautiful wife Genevieve was charming, talented, and adored by all who knew her. And apparently, she and Alex had a successful marriage complete with a gorgeous son, Jamie. Why would Genevieve walk out on her perfect life? And why has no one heard from her since she did so?

A web of lies: Genevieve’s family and all her friends think that Alex knows more about her disappearance than he’s letting on. But Sarah’s fallen in love with him and just knows he couldn’t have anything to hide. Or could he?

I have read and loved Louise Douglas' previous two novels, so when I was given the chance to review her new, I was thrilled. I have to say I was shocked at the change in cover from the first two novels, which had gorgeous covers and looked very pretty. This one is a complete change, with a much darker appearance, with a solitary figure on the front representing our main character within the book. It has been likened to Daphne Du Maurier's "Rebecca", a book I haven't read but after looking at the synopsis on Amazon, I can see how Douglas has drawn inspiration from this novel, and other classics too. At over 450 pages, its a big chunk of a book but worth every single page, it's a fabulous read.