29 September 2011

Book Review: Lessons in Laughing Out Loud by Rowan Coleman

Willow and Holly are identical twins. They are everything to each other. Holly calls Willow her rock, her soul mate, her other half. And Willow feels the same about Holly. They are alike in every respect except one – Willow is afraid on the inside. And all because of a secret – one that binds the sisters closely together and yet has meant their adult lives have taken two very different paths.Willow often feels there are large parts of her missing, qualities she only knows she’s lacking because she sees them in her sister. For a very long time Willow has felt separated from Holly by one terrible moment in time – a moment that meant Willow’s life was never the same again. And when the past catches up with her, Willow realises it’s finally time for her to face her fears, and – with Holly’s help – learn to laugh out loud once more…

I haven't actually read any of Rowan Coleman's books for a few years, although I honestly don't know why. I really enjoyed her 'Accidental Mother' series from a few years back, and when I was sent a copy of her latest book, Lessons in Laughing Out Loud, I was intrigued to find out more about the story as there was something that sounded interesting about it, not least the title for a start. The cover is a bit bizarre, certainly not the norm in the chick lit world but perhaps that was the idea - to stand out from the crowd a bit? Once I had finished the book, I have to say its one of the most moving and beautifully written novels I read in a long time - and its the first to actually have me crying tears for a very long time. Come the end I was sobbing for Willow, and it takes a great talent to move me to tears, let me tell you! Here is why you MUST read this book.

27 September 2011

Book Review: A Scandalous Secret by Jaishree Misra

The truth will tear them apart… They had the perfect marriage… Glamour, money, and a beautiful home– the golden couple of Delhi, Neha and Sharat appear to have it all. But a dark secret from Neha’s past is about to resurface, a heartbreaking moment in her past that she has tried to block out. While studying at Oxford, a naive eighteen year-old Neha fell pregnant and made the difficult decision to give the baby up for adoption, vowing never to contact her child again. But now, years later, her little girl – Sonya – is now a fully grown woman and determined to find her birth mother. With the foundation of Neha’s and Sharat’s world rocked to its very core, will Sonya’s arrival in Delhi push it over the edge? And as Sonya begins to confront Neha, can mother and daughter allow themselves to forgive and forget?

I haven't yet anything by author Jaishree Misra, so when I was offered a copy of her latest book A Scandalous Secret to review, I was quite keen and decided to accept. I really liked the cover of it, the teal blue working really well in contrast with the pinks and oranges of the main images, giving  a bit of an exotic look about it. This is Misra's third book so I hoped she'd be in the rhythm of a good writing style, and after seeing on the back that it would apparently be perfect for fans of Dorothy Koomson, it seemed like a read I would definitely enjoy. However, now I've finished it I would say it doesn't live up to its dramatic synopsis on the back, and I found it all a bit too lacklustre and lacking to be classed as a great read, which was unfortunate.

22 September 2011

Book Review: The Ugly Sister by Jane Fallon

When it comes to genes life's a lottery . . .

As Abi would the first to know. She has spent her life in the shadow of her stunningly beautiful, glamorous older sister Cleo.

Headhunted as model when she was sixteen, Cleo has been all but lost to Abi for the last twenty years, with only a fleeting visit or brief email to connect them. So when Abi is invited to spend the summer in Cleo's large London home with her sister's perfect family, she can't bring herself to say no. Despite serious misgivings. Maybe Cleo is finally as keen as Abi to regain the closeness they shared in their youth?

But Abi is in for a shock. Soon she is left caring for her two young, bored and very spoilt nieces and handsome, unhappy brother-in-law - while Cleo plainly has other things on her mind. As Abi moves into her sister's life, a cuckoo in the nest, she wrestles with uncomfortable feelings.

Could having beauty, wealth and fame lead to more unhappiness than not having them? Who in the family really is the ugly sister?

I have read all of Jane Fallon's work so far and really enjoyed it, so when I received an early proof copy of her latest book The Ugly Sister, I was really excited. Fallon really shot into the public arena when her debut novel Getting Rid of Matthew when chosen as one of Richard and Judy's Summer Reads in one of their TV book clubs, and since then her books have had big commercial success. It really helps too that they are great reads, and not what you'd usually expect from chick lit. I have to admit I'm not that keen on the cover of The Ugly Sister, it isn't my type of cover and I probably wouldn't look at it in a shop, but luckily for me, I found that what is inside is far better than on the outside... much like the premise of the book if you think about it...

20 September 2011

Book Review: All Over Again by Emma Heatherington

Thirty-something Natalie has never been like the other girls. A late developer, she was always the one men made fun of rather than made out with! But now she has Dougie, a handsome young widower and father of twins who can give her everything she needs everything, that is, except the one thing she wants more than life itself: her own baby. She loves him but can she settle for his ready-made family and live in the shadow of his late wife Susan?
Natalie's childhood friend Michelle had her first baby at seventeen. Abandoned by the father, Patrick, she married wealthy architect Caleb on the rebound but has not found the contentment she craves. With her two children and a heart full of longing and regret, she has come back to the holiday resort where Natalie lives, to find herself. When Patrick turns up, wanting to meet his teenage daughter, Michelle's old wounds are torn apart. For the two friends, is it time to start all over again?
I've read a couple of Emma Heatherington's books in the past and found them to be very easy reads, with good characters and lovely stories, and I thoroughly enjoyed each of them. When I was sent a copy of her latest book, All Over Again, to review I put it up near the top of my 'to-read' pile as I hoped it was going to be a lovely read just like her previous novels. The cover was pretty nice too, I like the colours and use of the two women as representations of the two main characters in the book (of sorts anyway). Now I've finished it, I thought it was a nice read but there was something about it that I just didn't click with as I have Heatherington's previous novels which I felt was a bit of a shame, but please don't let that spoil your view of it because it was an enjoyable book, I just couldn't myself to warm to the characters for some reason, I can't quite put my finger on it though!

14 September 2011

Book Review: The Perfect Christmas by Georgie Carter

All I want for Christmas is you! If you’re a wedding planner it’s best not to have affairs with married men. This is one cardinal rule that Robyn always abides by. But then she meets Jonathan…After a delicious dalliance in the dance studio, Robyn and Jonathan fall truly, madly, deeply in love. Jonathan justifies his actions because his wife is a workaholic, while Robyn finds the glamour – free from any mundane concerns – thrilling.But then the pressure mounts up: the guilt; the lies; the strain of it all. With the festive season approaching, can Robyn make this the best holiday ever or will it be the nightmare before Christmas?

I am a massive sucker for Christmas books. Stick the word 'Christmas' in the title, or put some snow, a Christmas tree or a pretty wintery scene on the cover and I'm there. I don't care who it's written by, what the story is about, I just love them all and get really excited about new festive books coming. Actually, Christmas books are among some of the only books I actually hang onto because I love to read them again at a certain time of year. Georgie Carter a.k.a. Ruth Saberton is releasing her first book through Avon, and it's a lovely festive themed read, complete with obligatory gorgeous snowy cover. I thought it sounded like a really fun story and found it a really fun book to read, and think it's definitely going to be a keeper on my 'Festive Reads' shelf!

Author Interview: Lucy-Anne Holmes

I recently read Lucy-Anne Holmes' third novel Unlike A Virgin, and thought it was one of the funniest books I've read all year, whilst managing to run a poignant and sweet story all the way through too. I wanted to interview Lucy about her new book, her new publishing deal with Little, Brown and her thoughts on some other things, and I was lucky enough to get the chance! Here's my interview with the lovely Lucy-Anne Holmes, enjoy!

Q1. Tell us about your new book 'Unlike A Virgin'.

Unlike A Virgin is about Gracie Flowers, a brilliant estate agent and all round sorted young lady, with her own flat and a handsome steady fella. But Gracie's controlled life starts to unravel at a ferocious rate and she begins to wonder whether she's become the woman she was supposed to.

Q2. Gracie Flowers is a fantastic character - are you anything like her?! Do you ever base your characters on real people?

Thank you! I love her. No, sadly she's nothing like me! She's far braver and stronger than me and I really can't sing a note. Sarah Sargeant, the scatty, slightly alcoholic heroine of my last two books is much more like me! I have based characters on real people but they tend to morph away from the person I know while I'm writing them.

Q3. This book felt a bit more serious than your two previous novels featuring the character 'Sarah Sargeant'. Was it a conscious decision to make the tone slightly more serious or did it just happen as you were writing the book? I have to say I was still regularly laughing out loud throughout though!

Oooo, interesting question. Well, I had the idea for the Gracie Flowers story and really fell for it and for her and I just wanted to write it and do it justice. I think this book has a bigger heart than the last two and it didn't seem right to make it quite as rude and bawdy as the Sarah Sargeant ones. I am glad you still chuckled in parts though. I was pleased when my sister read an early draft and I heard her guffaw.

13 September 2011

Book Review: Unlike A Virgin by Lucy Anne Holmes

Is Gracie in love for the very first time? You know that bit in The X Factor, when the singer tells everyone about the rocky road they travelled to pursue their dream? Well, that's Gracie Flowers' story. Gracie is very focused for a woman of almost twenty-six. Her favourite book is 'The 5-Year Plan: Making the Most of Your Life'. And her five-year plan is going very well. That is, until she is usurped from her big promotion by a handsome, posh idiot; she is dumped by her boyfriend; and discovers her loopy mother is facing bankruptcy. Hormones awry and ice cream over-ordered, a dream Gracie thought she'd buried ten years ago starts to resurface. A dream that reminds her of the girl she used to be and everything she wanted to become.
I've read both of Lucy-Anne Holmes' previous novels featuring the character of Sarah Sargeant and found them to be laugh-out-loud books that also had a fab story too. For her latest book, Unlike A Virgin, Holmes has moved over to Sphere publishers, and they've given her a brand new cover look for this book, which I think is fantastic. It's a great cover, lots of colour and I think it'll definitely stand out against a lot of the books coming out at the moment. The cover makes the book seem like a fun read, but I have to tell you that while there are a few really funny bits, the feel of the book is a lot darker and more emotional than I imagined, but in my opinion, the book is all the better for it!

8 September 2011

Book Review: Fallen Angels by Tara Hyland

An unwanted child: San Francisco, 1958. On a dark December night, a baby girl is left at the Sisters of Charity Orphanage on Telegraph Hill. A mysterious suicide: One year later, movie star Frances Fitzgerald takes her own life. Her husband, wealthy businessman Maximilian Stanhope, is rumoured to know more about her death than he's letting on, but nothing is ever proved. A terrible secret: What is the connection between these two events? That's what Frances's daughter, Cara, wants to find out. Abandoned by her mother when she is just seven years old, her childhood is filled with hardship and loss. As a young woman she finds professional success as a journalist, but on a personal level, she still struggles to trust those around her. Soon Cara becomes convinced that uncovering the secret behind her mother's death is the only way to lay her demons to rest, but learning the truth may end up tearing her apart.

Tara Hyland is a relative newcomer to the chick lit world given that this is only her second novel. However, it's her second novel which has received 5 stars from me, so she is definitely an author I have been hugely impressed by in such a short period of time. Her debut novel, Daughters of Fortune, came out last year and it was a great read set around the world of retail. I have to admit that initially the cover of Fallen Angels didn't capture my attention, but now I have read the book, I see how it fits in with the story and I have really changed my opinion of it. It's a fairly big story, but its one that I quickly found myself absorbed into, fell in love with the characters and by the end I was so sad it was finished, that to me is the measure of a fantastic book!

6 September 2011

Book Review: Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson

Chelsea Ross knows she's a great actress. Which is lucky, as she's just got the toughest role of her life! Washed up from Hollywood and in serious need of some cash, Chelsea jumps at the $10,000 opportunity to act as 'carer' to famous hockey player Mark Bressler, currently injured after a car crash. After all, how hard can it be to play nice and pick up after an incredibly hot invalid in need of her tender loving care? Just three months of playing nurse and the cash is hers. But Mark Bressler doesn't need help. The moody hockey player's glory days may be over, but he has no intention of letting anyone aid his recovery, least of all the maddeningly cheerful Chelsea. He's determined to get her to quit – and Mark isn't the type to give in. But then again, neither is Chelsea...

Despite the fact she's written several books with the Little Black Dress publishing label, I haven't really read Rachel Gibson's work before. I was sent her first stand-alone book (in the UK), Any Man of Mine, to review earlier this year and really enjoyed it, so when I was offered the opportunity to read the prequel (although it's released after its sequel!) to that book, Nothing But Trouble, I was eager to see if the rest of the Chinooks series would match up. I have to say I really love the covers, they aren't fancy or anything overly special but I really like them and actually quite liked the darker colours in this one, it suits the darker lead character in my opinion! Rachel Gibson's books aren't serious chick lit, they are very light and fluffy reads but that doesn't at all mean to say that there isn't a darn good story inside!

1 September 2011

Book Review: The Importance of Being Myrtle by Ulrika Jonsson

Is a death in the family the chance for a new start? When Myrtle's husband, Austin, dies on the bus one morning, everything seems to freeze. But in reality Myrtle has been frozen for nearly forty years, locked into an emotionless marriage. So if the barriers have been lifted, why does she still feel trapped? Her daughters are a mystery to her - one prickly and defensive, the other with a closely guarded secret. And thanks to Austin's cold presence, friends are a rarity. How is a widow supposed to find herself when she's alone and unconfident of her place in the world? But hope might rest with Gianni, the kind stranger in whose arms Austin died. And when nosy neighbour Dorothy discovers Myrtle's sad news, she also refuses to let her wallow. But Myrtle will never move on until she's dealt with her past and the reason for her devotion to Austin. The truth must out, even though the consequences might prove devastating for Myrtle and her daughters ...

Celebrity novels are one of those types of books where it's either really good (Sharon Osborne, Coleen Nolan), a bit middle-of-the-road, nothing to write home about (Fern Britton) or downright rubbish (Katie Price, Kay Burley). Therefore when I was offered the opportunity to receive a copy of Ulrika Jonsson's new fiction title, I was a bit wary but decided to give it a go. I haven't read her autobiography so don't know anything of her writing style, but have been informed by the publishers that Ulrika has indeed written this herself, with no help from a ghost-writer at all. After hearing that, I was sold on giving it a go, despite the dreariness of the original cover. It's since been updated with some pinks and yellows to brighten it slightly but it's still nothing to write home about really!