29 June 2012

Book Review: Rumours by Freya North

"Everybody’s talking – but what’s really going on?

Rumour has it that Stella Hutton landed her new job thanks to family connections. She’s guarded about her past and private about her new life.

Over in Long Dansbury, there’s always a rumour circulating about Xander – but the eligible bachelor shrugs off village gossip.

Then a rumour starts that Longbridge Hall is up for sale. Home to the eccentric Fortescues, it has dominated Long Dansbury lives for centuries.

Stella is summoned to sell the estate. But Xander grew up there. His secrets and memories are not for sale. He’ll do anything to stand in Stella’s way. Anything but fall in love."

Rating: 3.5/5

I read my first Freya North book in a long time last year, and really enjoyed Chances. I found the characters were really likeable, and I enjoyed the whole story around them, and the way North told the story. So when I was asked to review Freya's new book Rumours, I was really excited to give it a go. I have to say that I loved the cover straight away. The black is really striking and works well with the soft pinks, and makes it a book you will definitely want to pick up and find out more about. I hoped that the story would be full of juicy rumours and things going on as the title would suggest, but sadly I felt that this was one area where the book was really lacking - what a shame!

Stella Hutton has just got a new job as an estate agent - not her dream job by any stretch, but she has to put a roof over the head of herself and her young son Will. She finds herself lumbered with having to sell the ancient Longbridge Hall in the small village of Long Dansbury, which starts the small community talking about what the owner Lady Lydia is thinking of. Lydia's young friend Xander is concerned about the antics of the estate agents, and the welfare of his friend, and so decides to get involved in the sale of Longbridge Hall without thinking twice. Will Xander be able to stop Stella from selling the hall from under Lady Lydia, and why is Stella so keen to keep returning to Long Dansbury?

I have to be honest and say it took me a while to get into this book. I found North's way to storytelling to be a bit rambly in parts, it did go on when I longed for it to get to the action a bit more and get going! I found the character of Stella to be quite likeable. She wants to do the best for herself and her son, and finds herself to be a natural at her new job, despite the opposing opinions of her new colleagues who don't seem that pleased to welcome their new recruit. I loved the relationship between Stella and Will, and loved that they are really close, North writes this relationship particularly well and Will is a well-adjusted little boy. There's a bit of mystery around his father for the duration of the novel, which I quite enjoyed and it kept me guessing.

Xander, a shortened version of Alexander, is the male lead of the book and I couldn't help but like him a lot! He's close to Lady Lydia, an old family friend and I liked how he looked out for her, especially when he thought Stella was up to no good with her and Longbridge Hall. I liked the antagonistic relationship between he and Stella as well - North really does write relationships and her characters very well, and they always seem so realistic, despite the pretty quaint setting of this book. I imagined Long Dansbury to be a beautiful picturesque little village, and I have to say I love books with settings like this - makes a change from all the London/New York ones out there!

My bigggest gripe with the book was that I felt it was a bit too long. There was a lot of heavy description in there, ranging from Stella and her home life, to Xander and his, and finally to Lady Lydia and all things related to the house and the sale. While it was necessary for the movement of the book, I did feel at times that I was bogged down with it, and had to give myself a quick pep talk to keep going! I love a good narrative as much as the next person, but there was something about this in parts which just seemed to drag. Also, despite the storyline of the house sale, it didn't feel like a huge amount happened in the book - it was fairly obvious where it was going (which I didn't mind at all) but I guess I was hoping for a few more twists and turns along the way. It's a nice read to settle into, but didn't quite live up to the brilliant Chances. The characters were good, the setting wonderful but for me just a tad too long and with a slight lack of action. I'll be looking forward to North's next book :)

You can buy Rumours as a paperback or an eBook now.

eBook News: Yours Truly by Kirsty Greenwood

I don't normally post eBook news, but I wanted to make an exception for this  book! Novelicious editor Kirsty Greenwood is releasing her first novel as an eBook right now, and it's called Yours Truly! I've had a sneaky read already and it's fab, so if you fancy a fun summer read, then grab a copy of Yours Truly now!

"Your bum does not look big in that dress.

Mmm, it tastes delicious!

Of course you’re better looking than Jon Hamm.

Newly engaged Natalie Butterworth is an easy-going girl. She’ll do anything for a quiet life and if telling a few teensy white lies keeps her friends and family happy, then so what? It’s not like they’ll ever discover what she’s really thinking… 

Until one night, thanks to a pub hypnotist, Natalie’s most private thoughts begin to bubble up and pop out of her mouth. Things get very messy indeed, especially when some sticky home truths offend her fiancé.

Natalie must track down the hypnotist before the wedding is officially cancelled. So along with bad influence bestie Meg, Natalie finds herself in the Yorkshire Parish of Little Trooley - a small village bursting with big secrets, nosy old folk and intriguing Wellington-wearing men.

When the girls get stranded in the village with no means of escape and no way to break the hypnotist's spell, Natalie is forced to face the truths she has been avoiding her whole life..."

You can buy Yours Truly as an eBook now!

28 June 2012

Picture This, Picture That: Stranded by Emily Barr

Well these covers couldn't be anymore different could they?! One looks like a chick lit cover, the other looks (to me) like the sort of cover I would find on a crime novel! Emily Barr's new book Stranded is due out in the new version paperback (right) on October 25th, and for that it's been given a new cover. I'm really not entirely sure I like this cover - the font, as I said, is one I associate with crime novels, and wouldn't make me think this was chick lit - is this intentional on the part of the publishers?? For me, the earlier cover is far nicer, I adore the blue of the woman's dress and think it just looks like a classy cover. So... which do you prefer?! Vote below and we'll see which is the more popular!

surveys & polls

Book News: Stop the Clock by Alison Mercer

I love coming across debut novels, they're so exciting and I can't wait to get into a new author! Alison Mercer's first book, Stop the Clock, is due out on August 1st 2012, and sounds like a great read, and something I'm sure a lot of women will be able to relate to. What do you think - will it be one you will be reading?

"Meet Lucy, Tina and Natalie, twenty-something friends who are all negotiating the risky business of being grown-up.

Lucy knows exactly what she wants: her marriage to be a success, her children to be perfect, and to be the ultimate home-maker.

Tina knows what she wants too: her journalism career to take off and to see her name as a byline in a national newspaper... and the illicit affair she's started leaves her free enough to follow her dreams.

Natalie just wants to be happy - happy with the boyfriend she's dated since college, happy with the job she's drifted into, happy with a life she thinks is enough - but is it really?

Ten years later, all three women have the lives they thought they wanted. But somehow, reality isn't quite as neat and clean-cut as their dreams..."

You can pre-order Stop the Clock as a paperback now.

27 June 2012

Book Review: Whatever It Takes by Adele Parks

"Eloise Hamilton is a Londoner born and bred, so it is a momentous day when she reluctantly agrees to uproot to Dartmouth, leaving behind her perfect world so her husband can finally live in his. There are compensations, however. Her mother-in-law Margaret will welcome her with open arms, and besides, she can still rely on best friend Sara to be her lifeline to London.

But both Margaret and Sara are facing their own difficulties, and thrust into unexpected turmoil, Eloise finds she is the one holding everything together for her loved ones - and by an ever-weakening thread. As her world implodes with the strain of being responsible for all around her, someone is bound to be overlooked. And the damage might be irreparable..."

Rating: 4/5

When I was younger, I couldn't get into Adele Parks' books for some reason. I tried several of them but they didn't work for me. However, I've recently tried again and her past two novels, Men I've Loved Before and About Last Night and thought they were both fantastic, gripping stories that I couldn't put down, and more than that I was thrilled to add Parks back on my list of authors to look forward to! When I received a review copy of her latest book, Whatever It Takes, I was really excited to read it and see if it would live up to my expectations. I have to confess before I read the book I wasn't hugely sold on the cover, but after reading it, it makes perfect sense and seems like the perfect cover for the book.

Eloise and her family decide to make a big move from London, the city that Eloise lives and breathes every single day, to Dartmouth, where her husband grew up and where he desperately wants to be. She's nervous about the move, but knows it is the right thing for her family. It does mean leaving behind her best friend Sara who is going through some tough times personally, but Eloise has to do what is right for her. When the Hamilton's arrive in Dartmouth, Eloise and Mark are shocked to find out that his mother isn't as well as they had thought, and suddenly their lives are turned upside-down. Eloise begins to buckle under the responsibility of looking after everyone, but will she be able to help her family, Sara and Margaret to keep things going - whatever it takes?

I have to say I really did enjoy this book. I enjoyed how it started in London, showing Eloise at her most comfortable and happiest, and then moving throughout her first year in Dartmouth and showing how she starts to settle in and get used to a much quieter pace of life. I loved the way Parks wrote about Dartmouth, it sounds absolutely idyllic and beautiful, and I can see why even a city-lover like Eloise grows to love the place. Parks writes the beautiful views, lovely town and the people with such realism and warmth, it's easy to imagine it in your mind as you are reading. The characters too are all written fantastically, there aren't too many of them in the book but this allows the reader to get to know them well enough and really feel sorry for each of their individual plights. The book is divided into months as well, so we can easily follow the journey of these characters and see their growth and/or decline which makes it works so well.

Eloise is a bit of a people-pleaser shall we say, always eager to help out and do the best for people, even if it isn't necessarily in her best interests to do so. I found her a tad annoying at times, that she couldn't stand up to her old friend Sara in particular, especially when it was called for, but other than that, I really liked her and thought she is the perfect leading lady for the book. Her friend Sara on the hand, is a character I think we're meant to sympathise with because of her troubles, but I just couldn't stand her and the more the book went on, the more I really disliked her - she's just a horrible person! Eloise's husband Mark is a well written male character dealing with some shock revelations, and I think Parks writes his turmoil so well. Margaret, Mark's mother is a lovely old lady battling a horrible illness, and at times its hard to read her decline, but Parks does it so well.

Parks covers some really serious issues in the book, from Alzheimer's, to infidelity and infertility, and I found the issues were all woven so well into the plot, and were hard-hitting to read about. Parks has clearly done her research around them, and writes them in such a way you understand entirely what is going on even if you don't have much knowledge of the subject itself. The story handles these topics perfectly, and although it felt like the whole book was a bit depressing at times (hence knocking one star off the rating), it was a powerful book that really does encourage you to think about your own life and to be grateful for what you have. While I guessed some of the plot lines, there were others, particularly the ending, which I didn't see coming at all, and with hindsight there were clues there, but I didn't expect what happened to occur at all, and full marks to Parks for keeping that from us! A really beautifully written novel, and one I would recommend.

You can buy Whatever It Takes as a paperback or an eBook now.

Book News: The Perfect Present by Karen Swan

Another gorgeous Christmas cover alert! Karen Swan's new festive offering, The Perfect Present, isn't due out until 8th November (ages away!), but already I can't wait to read it. I loved her 2011 release Christmas at Tiffany's and hope this one lives up to it!

"Haunted by a past she can’t escape, Laura Cunningham desires nothing more than to keep her world small and precise - her quiet relationship and growing jewellery business are all she needs to get by. Until the December day when Rob Blake walks into her studio and commissions a necklace that will tell his enigmatic wife Cat’s life in charms. As Laura interviews Cat’s family, friends and former lovers, she steps out of her world and into theirs – a charmed world where weekends are spent in Verbier and the air is lavender-scented, where friends are wild, extravagant and jealous, and a big love has to compete with grand passions. Hearts are opened, secrets revealed and as the necklace begins to fill up with trinkets, Cat’s intoxicating life envelops Laura’s own. By the time she has to identify the final charm, Laura’s metamorphosis is almost complete. But the last story left to tell has the power to change all of their lives forever, and Laura is forced to choose between who she really is and who it is she wants to be."

You can pre-order The Perfect Present as a paperback now.

26 June 2012

eBook News: Naughty Bits by Rebecca Chance

Anyone who has read any of Rebecca Chance's novels will know that she isn't shy of writing a bit of a steamy love scene - but there are apparently some that were too hot to even make it into the books! So Rebecca's publishers have decided to lump them into one eBook and give us all a chance to read them! Naughty Bits is out on 19th July as an eBook only!

"Three too-hot-for-print short stories from Sunday Times bestselling author Rebecca Chance with a sneak peek at her sizzling new novel, Killer Heels.

Cut from the pages of Rebecca Chance's sauciest novels, Carin and Rico, Niels and Lola, and Evie and Jerome are back in their steamiest scenes yet."

You can pre-order Rebecca Chance's Naughty Bits as an eBook now!

25 June 2012

Book Review: Revelry by Lucy Lord

"One summer can change everything…

What happens when a friend breaks the one rule that should never be broken?

Best friends Bella and Poppy are living the dream – Notting Hill glamour, Shoreditch lofts, exclusive parties and drop-dead gorgeous men. But sometimes living life to the max catches up with you, and even the strongest friendships can be pushed to the limit.

Poppy, Bella and their friends spend the summer having as much fun as they possibly can – from the hedonistic escapades of Ibiza to doing Glastonbury in style. But amongst the laughter come tears, betrayal and backstabbing and one devastating decision threatens to bring it all crashing down. And, once the sunglasses have come off, Bella is forced to question if her lifelong friendship has been broken beyond repair.

The perfect escapist read, Revelry will have you laughing, crying and gasping with shock."

Rating: 2/5

I will be honest and admit that it was 100% the book cover that sold me on reading this book. It's simply gorgeous and looks like a great summer read, so when I received a review copy, I was thrilled and eagerly started it, hoping for a great novel of partying summer nights in Ibiza. Well, that wasn't exactly what I got, and to be frank, I was pretty shocked by the content of the book. I've read hundreds and hundreds of chick lit books, but none of them quite shocked me in the way this book did - and I've read the Fifty Shades trilogy! I'm not a prude or anything, but I confess I did find several aspects of this book to be uncomfortable reading, and I'll explain why.

The book follows best friend Bella and Poppy. The women are enjoying a wonderful summer break on the island of Ibiza with their lovers and friends. When they return, they set about their next trip to Glastonbury festival altogether, and it is here things begin to change. The friendship between the pair soon starts to fall apart, much to Bella's upset and confusion. What is it that Poppy has done to break down the friendship almost irretrievably, and will the friendship circle for the group ever be the same again? They party all day and all night, but when the dust settles and they sober up, maybe Poppy and Bella's lives aren't as perfect as they'd like to have believed.

First of all, I have to say the title is perhaps a tad misleading. Whilst there is a bit of partying and revelry going on, it pretty much all happens in the first quarter of the book in Ibiza and Glastonbury, then it settles down to be a normal story if you like, following the characters in their day to day lives and dealing with the trials and tribulations they have to come up against. I was expecting a lot more of the Ibiza party scene or just more partying in general than what actually went on in the book. The characters all seemed a little depressive, not enjoying themselves, instead intent on destroying themselves or each other through various means and they all seemed a mess. Lord tries to cover some more serious themes, such as rape and Alzheimer's in the book, yet these fall to wayside in the wake of the more shocking side of the book, which for me was the drug use. The book was readable in the sense that I wanted to keep reading and find out what happened, but it was more for a conclusion, than a compulsion to want to get to the end.

However, what shocked me most about this book was the prolific drug use, and the added inclusion of alcohol in almost every scenario in the book. Now, I'm not naive and know that people enjoy a drink socially and on their own too, but the people in the book seemed to rely on it to get through the day, get through the dramas and seemed not to do so well on it, and couldn't recognise what was going on. It seemed to me a sad state of affairs that these mucked up people relied so much on alcohol and drugs to enjoy themselves. The copious drug taking scenes, mentions of drugs and the blatantly relaxed attitude towards them was worrying, and I didn't enjoy any of these scenes at all. I don't think there's any call to normalise drug use like this, and found it worrying how much the characters used the drugs as a catch, in particular Poppy.

I found the book a bit of a struggle to read, and I can't honestly say I enjoyed the experience of reading Revelry. I found the drugs scenes hard to read, and the sheer amount of them in the book was slightly ridiculous and unnecessary. It was also unpleasant to read the actions of these characters on drugs. None of the people in the book were likeable, all very selfish, and although I felt marginally sorry for Poppy due to her personal circumstances, this was wiped out by her other actions in the book. The only character I remotely liked was Poppy's other half! I found Lord's writing style was quite good, she creates a good and realistic setting for the characters, and makes the characters believable, but just for me, not likeable. This isn't the sort of book I would look to pick up again, I wasn't left happy and smiling afterwards, just sad and somewhat depressed myself. A pity, a book that shocked and surprised me for all the wrong reasons.

You can buy Revelry as a paperback or an eBook now.

Book News: A Twist of Fate by Joanna Rees

Another of my favourite authors is back this summer with a brilliant new novel. Joanna Rees, who previously novels under the name Jo Rees, has her new book A Twist of Fate due out on 2nd August, and I can't wait. Joanna's books are always great, escapist reads and I am sure this one will be no different - I can't wait!

"Romy and Thea, two beautiful baby girls, their future’s sealed with the flip of a coin. One will enter a life of privilege, surrounded by only the best money can buy. The other will fight for survival in an orphanage, against an evil regime who seek only to exploit her. Throughout the years their paths will cross, neither knowing who the other one is, their lives overflowing with secrets, blackmail and murder. From the snow covered forests of Eastern Europe to the glistening white beaches of the Caribbean. From the gutters of London’s Soho to the towering skyscrapers of New York, A twist of fate tore them apart, only their strength and determination can reunite them…"

You can pre-order A Twist of Fate as a paperback now.

22 June 2012

Book Review: Chelsea Wives by Anna-Lou Weatherley

"This is Desperate Housewives meets First Wives Club set in the glamorous borough of Chelsea. On the King’s Road, revenge is sweeter than champagne…

They are the ultimate ladies who lunch: Imogen, the beautiful ex-model, Calgary, the glamorous, former fashion editor, and Yasmin, the feisty ex-party girl.

But life isn’t all champagne and canapés. Plagued by personal tragedy and united by failing marriages, they mastermind a shocking plan to turn the tables on their husbands.

Set against a backdrop of exotic locations, designer boutiques and London's high society scene, these Chelsea Wives are about to join forces and risk it all for the ultimate revenge…"

Rating: 5/5

As a bit of a fan of reality shows like Made in Chelsea, when I first heard about this book I was really excited because it sounded right up my street! I also really liked the fun cartoon style cover, with its bright colours that looked really different to other ones out this month. Although author Anna-Lou Weatherley has written a couple of teenage novels before, this is her first foray into adult novels, and I was hoping she would be able to put her skills as a teen author to good use and create a very readable summer book. Luckily, I was right and she did - I loved everything about Chelsea Wives, and here's why!

3 women living in London's posh Chelsea borough are about to get a bit shock in their personal lives. Firstly, there's ex-model Imogen, who is unhappily married to husband Sebastian and wants to start her modelling career up again, much to her spouse's chagrin. Then there's her best friend Calvary, who turns her a blind eye to all of her husband Douglas' indiscretions, but there's one that she just can't overlook and that is threatening to ruin her marriage for good. Lastly, there's new girl on the block Yasmin, a young party girl who has married a rather elderly Lord, and has everyone is convinced is just with him for the money and title. But there's something Yasmin is hiding, a dark secret that can threaten everything. Join the 3 Chelsea Wives as they decide to start in place a plan that will have the men around crumbling in their wake - revenge if you will. But what is it the wives must avenge?

I have to confess that I loved this book from the start. With larger-than-life characters which really get you engrossed into the book, and a plot that is somewhat ridiculous yet utterly brilliant, I found everything about this book very readable and enjoyable. Weatherley takes the time to set up the plot behind the revenge well enough that it seems plausible the women would act in the way that they do, and I found myself really rooting for the Chelsea Wives! My favourite was Yasmin, the young party girl who has everyone fooled about her real motives for marrying her elderley husband, and her story is revealed slowly throughout the book, and you can begin to understand her pain. I also really liked Imogen, especially as she starts to concoct her plot, which I found surprising in several parts, and quite clever.

As you might expect, there's a lot of name dropping of designers and posh brands in the book, but unlike in previous books where I have found it annoying, it seemed necessary in this book and quite fun to read consequently. I liked how Weatherley has invented this world for the women, and her descriptions of everything made it very realistic to read, even though it's a world I won't ever really get to experience myself! I found the latter half of the book where the women start to take their revenge to be very good, and the pace picked up as well. I enjoyed the twists and turns along the way towards the end, and found myself wanting the women to be successful! The men in the book were just so dislikeable that you couldn't help but want them to be screwed over by Imogen, Calvary and Yasmin!

This is a fantastic debut adult novel from Anna-Lou Weatherley, and the perfect beach read! It's escapist fiction at its best, and it goes to show that even if you have all the money you could ever need, it doesn't necessarily make you happy. With an outlandish cast and fantastically crazy plot, Chelsea Wives deserves to be a huge success because it's utterly fab and readable. I found the three stories easy to follow, loved how the world of the Chelsea Wives was carefully created and it made me realise it isn't a world I would want to be a part of! Join Imogen, Calvary and Yasmin on the adventure of a lifetime and pick up a copy of Chelsea Wives, you won't regret it! (Please note that Calvary is called 'Calgary' on the back cover and blurb of the book, but is called Calvary throughout the story, hence I've called her that too).

You can buy Chelsea Wives as a paperback or an eBook now.

Book Deals: The Round-Up

Not too much news in the world of chick lit at the moment, but I am thrilled about Lindsey Kelk's and Milly Johnson's further publishing deals, and funny how the erotica boom is taking off thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey! Jumping on the bandwagon springs to mind.... :)

Milly Johnson has signed a further 2 book deal with publishers Simon & Schuster, which is great news as I always enjoy her books, and look forward to each release! Milly's next book, A Winter Flame, is due out in October.

Three more Kelk for HarperCollins
"HarperFiction has signed up three more books from Lindsey Kelk, who was previously a children's book editor at HarperCollins.

Publishing director Lynne Drew acquired world rights in the three new novels through Rowan Lawton at Furniss & Lawton, with the first of the deal to be published next summer. The deal also includes two e-novellas.

Drew said: "Lindsey's direct connection with her huge readership and her instinctive grasp of digital has made publishing [her] enormous fun—we can't wait to keep innovating with her."

More publishers mount erotica bandwagon
"Erotica is continuing to steam-up acquisition meetings, with 19th July a potential sweet spot as both Simon & Schuster and Orion ready new releases.

Simon & Schuster is publishing Rebecca Chance's Naughty Bits, a collection of the romance author's scenes from earlier novels which were "too hot to print", with scene-setting introductions, an exclusive short story, and the first chapter of her next title, as a 99p e-book.

Fiction editorial director Maxine Hitchcock said: "With this rise in interest in erotica, we thought this was a fantastic opportunity. Sometimes in the context of a traditional book, less is more, but we never wanted to bin any of the scenes." She said the idea of publishing deleted scenes could have potential outside the genre, perhaps in publishing richer description of SFF worlds.

Meanwhile, Orion deputy publisher Jon Wood and editor Jemima Forrester paid a six-figure sum for UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, in the Eighty Days erotica trilogy from agent Sarah Such. The titles are written by Vina Jackson, a pseudonym of two writers, one well-known, working together for the first time, with the story focusing on the "sexually charged relationship between two strangers".

The first title, Eighty Days Yellow, will be published on 19th July in mass market paperback and e-book, followed by Eighty Days Blue and Eighty Days Red later this year."

Articles taken from The Bookseller.

21 June 2012

Picture This, Picture That: French Lessons by Ellen Sussman

Today's Picture This, Picture That takes a look at the two very different cover for Ellen Sussman's novel French Lessons. I loved the original cover (on the left), which was bold and had a really glamorous look to it, and certainly stood out to me. Now for the paperback cover (on the right), it's a lot more wishy-washy in colour, but I do like the inclusion of the Eiffel Tower which adds a French air to it, but I think I still prefer the old cover myself, just appeals to me more. Make sure you vote below and let us know which you prefer out of the two! They are 2 gorgeous covers though, a hard decision awaits!

survey tools

20 June 2012

Book Review: What I Did On My Holidays by Chrissie Manby

"Sophie Sturgeon can't wait for her annual summer holiday. Not only will it be a week away from work, it will be a chance to reconnect with her boyfriend Callum.

So this upcoming trip to Majorca is a big deal. Sophie's spent a lot of time getting ready. She's bought a new wardrobe. She's been waxed to within an inch of her life. She's determined she and Callum will have the best time ever.

Then Callum dumps her, the night before they're due to leave. In a show of bravery and independence, Sophie says she'll go to Majorca alone - but in fact, she hides in her London flat. But when her friends, family, and even Callum seem so surprised and delighted at her single girl courage, Sophie decides to go all out and recreate the ultimate 'fake break' . . . with hilarious results."

Rating: 3/5

Although Chrissie Manby has published a lot of novels under several different names, somehow I've only managed to read a few of them. I really enjoyed her seasonal novel Kate's Wedding which came out last year in time for the Royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, and which delayed the release of this book by a year. When the cover was released, I thought it was a really fun, summery cover, and I loved the fake postcard look too, it tied in well the with the idea of the book. I also thought the premise of the book sounded fun, and isn't a topic that I think has been covered in chick lit before, so I was looking forward to something new and fun here!

Sophie feels sick when the night before her special birthday holiday to Majorca with her boyfriend Callum, he dumps her and tells her he won't be accompanying her on their holiday. Sophie is devastated, but also mortified about being dumped, especially as the pair work together. To save face, she decides to stay at home in her flat, but tell everyone else that she's happily sunning herself in Majorca and getting over Callum. But when her sister Clare finds out Sophie isn't really abroad, she decides to join in on the fake holiday, and the sisters begin to try and enjoy their new found freedom, albeit limited to Sophie's flat! Will their fake break be found out by their friends, and will Sophie get over Callum in time to return to work and face him once again?

My biggest problem with What I Did On My Holidays was that it just didn't seem to go anywhere for me. It had so much potential to be a great story, but I really felt that the fake holiday never really took off, despite Sophie's sister Clare really wanting to go all out for the break and take advantage of a few days break from real life! Sophie seemed reticent to join in anything, being a bit of a stuck-in-the-mud about things and generally not enjoying herself. I realised that she is pining after and missing her ex-boyfriend Callum, but even so I wanted her to snap out of it a bit and just enjoy herself! I did find Sophie a little hard to like at times, far preferring her sister Clare who was more up for a laugh, but behind her smile held secrets about her own relationship that she was keeping from Sophie.

In many ways, this was a very different read for me, because rather than having a large cast of characters, lots of locations and things going on, the book was fairly static as it spent 90% of its time in Sophie's small flat, and with just 2 characters. This meant Manby really had to work to make these characters interesting to read about, and at times it just didn't work for me. I found myself getting bored of Sophie, but there were some funny moments in there which saved the day for me. I especially enjoyed how the girls thoroughly researched the area of Majorca they were staying in, almost to the point of forgetting they weren't actually there themselves. Manby writes well about the Balearic island too, it certainly sounds a world away from Sophie's London flat, and her job as a PA in a lift company!

While the book had some good moments, the lack of direction was a real shame and did drag the book down for me as well. It felt like a pretty short read as well, and I didn't feel like I had really gotten it before it was suddenly all over and it felt like the idea wasn't fully utilised well enough as I was really expecting much more from the book. I think it's a good beach read to make you smile when you don't want anything too heavy to read, but for me it just didn't quite reach it's potential unfortunately. The book's issues about relationships are well written, and I enjoyed the idea of having a holiday at home, something pretty relevant in these credit crunch times, and I perhaps wish Clare had been the main character, not Sophie because at least she gave it her all! A light-hearted look at fake holidays to make you smile but doesn't really begin before it ends!

You can buy What I Did On My Holidays as a paperback or an eBook now.

Book News: Meet Me Under The Mistletoe by Abby Clements

Oh I do love me a Christmas book! Debut author Abby Clements is bringing out a festive offering this year on October 25th with Quercus, and I think the cover is so fab! I love the colours and the theme of it, so pretty and I cannot wait to read it!! Click the cover to see a bigger version :)

"Childhood friends Laurie and Rachel's lives have taken very different paths since they picked up their A-level results together. Laurie is living in London and dedicated to her career, keeping track of her friends on Facebook. Rachel is seemingly living the family idyll in a cottage in Yorkshire - except she worries her marriage is starting to show cracks. When Rachel's mother in law falls ill and needs treatment in London, and Laurie decides she needs to get away for a break, a house swap falls into place. Soon Rachel is braving the mean streets of London while trying to keep her family together, while Laurie tries to figure out how to work an Aga and befriend the locals - and forget the man who seems intent on breaking her heart. Will their relationships survive this test? And will they make it home in time for Christmas?"

You can pre-order Meet Me Under the Mistletoe as a paperback or an eBook now.

19 June 2012

Book News: The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson

One of my most anticipated releases for 2012 is Dorothy Koomson's brand new book with new publishers Quercus - The Rose Petal Beach. Dorothy revealed the cover yesterday and it is so gorgeous (click it to see a bigger view), really beautiful and is so different. The book sounds amazing as well, it feels like ages since I last read a Dorothy Koomson book, so roll on August 30th when this is due out!

"Every love story has a dangerous twist. Tamia Brenett is horrified when her husband, Scott, is accused of something terrible - but when she discovers who his accuser is, everything goes into freefall. Backed into a corner and unsure what to think, Tamia is forced to choose who she instinctively believes. But Tamia's choice has dire consequences for all concerned especially when matters take a tragic turn. Then a stranger arrives in town to sprinkle rose petals in the sea in memory of her lost loved one. This stranger carries with her shocking truths that will change the lives of everyone she meets, and will once again force Tamia to make some devastating choices..."

You can pre-order The Rose Petal Beach as a hardback or an eBook now.

18 June 2012

Book Review: Summer Nights by Allie Spencer

"Flora Fielding has been dumped on her 30th birthday. And left stranded in San Francisco. With nowhere else to turn, she seeks out her cousin Bella who's been working as a nurse in the city for the past few years.

But when she arrives at Bella's apartment, Flora is shocked to find that her cousin's in even more trouble than she is. Because instead of leading the fast-paced life of an emergencey room nurse that Flora has imagined, Bella is eking out a living as the lead singer in an Abba tribute band. 

But as Flora soon learns, although life in San Francisco with Bella may be uncertain, but it's never ever dull. What with the tense Battle of the Tribute Bands, the threat to the local area by an evil developer, and the attentions of a very persistent computer geek, Flora soon begins to wonder whether she wants to go home at all."

Rating: 4/5

I read my first Allie Spencer novel last year, when I read her first stand-alone novel (that is, away from the Little Black Dress range of books) Summer Loving which was a fantastic summer read that I adored. So when I saw that her new book was called Summer Nights, I was hopeful that it'd be a sequel to that book, but I was wrong. It's a brand new story with new characters, and I have to say the cover is amazing and perfect for the summer that is (hopefully) coming. There is something about Allie's novels which is extremely readable and enjoyable, and that was most certainly the case with Summer Nights. I would think this book is perfect for sitting on the beach with - love, life, laughter and Abba... what more could a girl want?!

Flora is all set for the holiday of a lifetime to San Francisco with her boyfriend to celebrate her 30th birthday, but when he dumps her on the day he's supposed to jet out to meet her, Flora is sure he's ruined her life. Now she's stranded in San Francisco all by herself, and decides to seek out her cousin Flora earlier than planned. Flora is a singer in an Abba tribute band, but is hiding some secrets from her cousin, mainly to protect Bella. As the competition for 'Battle of the Tribute Bands' hots up, Flora finds herself making lots of new friends in the US, and realises who she can really rely on when things suddenly take a turn for the worse. Will Flora actually want to leave her new life behind when the holiday comes to an end?

The book doesn't have action set in the UK, and is therefore set in San Francisco, and I really enjoyed that! It's nice to see a setting other than New York, or LA, or the other typical American locations you read about, and I enjoyed the way Spencer wrote the place, she really made it sound like a great place to be, and full of great people too. Flora is an easy character to like - she's heart-broken and unsure how to deal with the break-up of her relationship, and you can't help but feel sorry for her. However, as she got her head together throughout the book, I loved the turns her character took and we get to see more of her personality which was great. It didn't happen too quickly or too slowly, just right and it was well written overall.

I loved the other characters in the book too, from Bella's friends to Bella herself, who is the singer in a tribute band for Abba, and I loved the presence of the Abba songs throughout the book, you can't help but start humming along as you read about them! Bella and Flora manage to get themselves into a few sticky situations, and one near the end in particular had me laughing out loud! There is a very serious storyline involving Bella in the book, and it took me by surprise as I didn't expect to see it there. It was so well written by Spencer, you could really feel the emotion as you were reading, and I confess I did shed a tear over it. The whole segment took the book in a whole new direction, and I thought it was so well done by Spencer, it made the book even better.

This is a super book for the summer, and was a joy to read from start to finish. I loved Spencer's writing and found it so easy to read and get into, and she crafts characters that you really love and will want to have a happy ending for. I adored the setting, the other characters in the book and especially the Abba tribute bands scenes which were just brilliant! Spencer manages to weave many storylines into one, and the story surrounding the old town was brilliant, showing how people from all walks of life can come together and make things happen when they need to. It's a fab book for the beach, and will leave you with a big smile on your tears, after a few tears and a lot of laughs as well. Fabulous!

You can buy Summer Nights as a paperback or an eBook now!

Giveaway: Win one of 5 copies of Tamar Cohen's book 'The Mistress's Revenge'

I'm bringing you another fab giveaway today to celebrate the paperback release of Tamar Cohen's debut novel The Mistress's Revenge! I reviewed the book last year and thought it was fab, so if you want to be in with a chance of winning one of 5 copies, simply fill in the form below, and you'll be entered into the draw.

One entry per household, only open to UK residents. Closing date: 25th June at 23:59. Good luck! Winners will be chosen at random.

15 June 2012

Book Review: Summer With My Sister by Lucy Diamond

"Polly has always been the high-flier of the family, with the glamorous city lifestyle to match. Clare is a single mum with two children, struggling to make ends meet in a ramshackle cottage. The two sisters are poles apart and barely on speaking terms. But then Polly’s fortunes change unexpectedly and her world comes crashing down. Left penniless and with nowhere else to go, she’s forced back to the village where she and Clare grew up, and the sisters find themselves living together for the first time in years. With an old flame reappearing for Polly, a blossoming new career for Clare and a long-buried family secret in the mix, sparks are sure to fly. Unless the two women have more in common than they first thought?"

Rating: 5/5

I've read most of Lucy Diamond's books now, the pen-name of author Sue Mongredien, and enjoyed pretty much all of them. I found her last novel, The Beach Café, a little bit of a long read, so I was keen to read Summer With My Sister to see if it would be another fab read that I know Diamond can write. The cover to this one is so pretty, with the lovely white background being decorated with the small images around the side, and looks like a cute and kitsch summer read. It's a fairly sizeable novel, but I found once I got into reading it, the pages flew past and I enjoyed every single one of them, and was sad when it ended because I'd really grown to love the sisters Polly and Clare!

The book begins by introducing us to the life of high-flyer Polly. She's moved away from the small village she grew up in, and now lives in a flash London apartment, gets paid a lot of money to work in the financial sector, and loves to live her life to the full - she's not afraid to splash her cash either. So when she is suddenly made redundant without warning, Polly feels life crumbling around her, and is forced to return home to live with her parents. Sister Clare, a divorcee and mother of two makes ends meet by working as a doctor's receptionist, and making homemade gifts for her friends and family. When her successful sister is suddenly back in her life, Clare becomes resentful of Polly's attitudes, and the women fail to get along. But they are both hiding guilt over something that happened in their pasts. Will they get past it to finally realise the importance of their sister?

There was something about this book I just loved. I loved that there weren't too many characters to get confused with, I loved that the book had a point and got to it straight away re Polly and Clare not getting along as sister's, and I loved the development of the story as it went on. I found Diamond's writing was easy to read and enjoyable, and really brought the characters to life with ease. Polly was a bit of stuck-up snob at the beginning of the book, and as we aren't immediately told why, it's difficult to be sympathetic towards her in any way. I found Diamond's descriptions of Polly and her lifestyle really good, and made it vivid in my mind. It was hard to feel sorry for her, even when her life started crumbling, but something bout her made me like her in a small way.

Clare was the character I could really relate to - a single mum working hard to do her best for her family. She's bogged down with everyone else's perceptions of her and when an opportunity arises that could change her life, she's reluctant as she doesn't have the confidence. Also, she's resentful of Polly returning and acting like the world owes her a favour, and you can really sense that resentment through Diamond's writing. Both of these female characters seemed so realistic, and were both strong females who carried the book easily. The way Diamond progresses their relationships, both with each other and with the new respective males in their lives, was enjoyable, and I really loved the whole book, I couldn't put it down. The whole thing just felt very believable as I was reading, and I was really praying for a happy ending for the women!

This is a book I highly recommend for summer reading - it's a great read with lovely characters that will have you wanting happiness for both of them, especially as secrets are revealed during the book that are both shocking and heart-breaking - I was actually shocked when it was revealed as I hadn't expected it at all. The sisters, Polly and Clare were great characters, each with their own problems and resentful of each other's lifestyles without realising it. The book makes you realise the importance of families and siblings, and sticking together when you most need it. I loved every page, and this is most definitely Diamond's best book yet.

You can buy Summer With My Sister as a paperback or an eBook now.

Book News: I Should Be So Lucky by Judy Astley

Judy Astley is back this summer with her new book, and it's got a lovely summery cover to match - I love the yellow! It's called I Should Be So Lucky and is out on 5th July. I really enjoyed Judy's last book so I'll be looking out for this one.

"Viola hasn't had much luck with men. Her first husband, Marco, companion of her youth and father of her only child, left her when he realised he was gay. Her second, Rhys, ended his high-octane, fame-filled life by driving his Porsche into a wall. No wonder her family always believes she needs Looking After, and her friends think she really shouldn't be allowed out on her own...

Which is why, at the age of thirty-nine, she finds herself shamefully back at home, living with Mum.

Viola knows she has to take charge; she needs to get a life, and fast. With a stroppy teenage daughter, a demanding mother, and siblings who want to control her life for her, where is she going to turn?"

You can pre-order I Should Be So Lucky as a hardback now!

14 June 2012

Marian's back!

She's back. Marian Keyes is back. With a new Walsh family novel too. Wowsers. The Mystery of Mercy Close is due out on September 13th 2012 (still a few months away!), but I cannot wait to read it. I've read a few of the Walsh novels and loved them, and I think this one is going to be absolutely HUGE. I for one can't wait. Can you?

"“I employ this thing I called The Shovel List.”

“A shovel..?”

“No, a shovel list. It’s more of a conceptual thing. It’s a list of all the people and things I hate so much I want to hit them in the face with a shovel.”

Helen Walsh doesn’t believe in fear – it’s just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good job – and yet she’s sinking. Her work as a Private Investigator has dried up, her flat has been repossessed and now some old demons have resurfaced.

Not least in the form of her charming but dodgy ex-boyfriend Jay Parker, who shows up with a missing persons case. Money is tight – so tight Helen’s had to move back in with her elderly parents – and Jay is awash with cash. The missing person is Wayne Diffney, the ‘Wacky One’ from boyband Laddz. He’s vanished from his house in Mercy Close and it’s vital that he’s found – Laddz have a sell-out comeback gig in five days’ time.

Things ended messily with Jay. And she’s never going back there. Besides she has a new boyfriend now, the very sexy detective Artie Devlin and it’s all going well, even though his ex-wife isn’t quite ‘ex’ enough and his teenage son hates her. But the reappearance of Jay is stirring up all kinds of stuff she thought she’d left behind.

Playing by her own rules, Helen is drawn into a dark and glamorous world, where her worst enemy is her own head and where increasingly the only person she feels connected to is Wayne, a man she’s never even met.

Utterly compelling, moving and very very funny, The Mystery of Mercy Close is unlike any novel you’ve ever read and Helen Walsh – courageous, vulnerable and wasp-tongued – is the perfect heroine for our times."

Pre-order The Mystery of Mercy Close now!

13 June 2012

Book Cover: When I Fall In Love by Miranda Dickinson

Gorgeous cover alert! Miranda Dickinson's fourth novel isn't due out until 8th November (boo!), but yesterday Miranda posted the cover on her blog and my goodness is it beautiful! When I Fall In Love sounds like it's going be another wonderful read, and after reading and loving It Started With A Kiss last year, I can't wait to read this. Click on the cover to see a bigger view :)

"Elsie Maynard never expected to be starting again... 

...but eighteen months on from the biggest challenge of her life, she is doing just that –because she made a promise to the person who believed in her the most.

Determined to step into her uncertain future, Elsie meets handsome Oliver Hogarth, who seems intent on winning her heart; she inadvertently founds a choir, and overcomes obstacles – most of which involve arrogant Torin Stewart. 

Then a heartfelt request brings her to Paris – and the final item on ‘The List’ that she never dared complete. 

Can Elsie follow her heart and put her past to rest? 

A moving, uplifting and heartwarming read from the bestselling author of It Started With a Kiss."

You can pre-order When I Fall In Love now as a paperback or an eBook.

12 June 2012

eBook Review: Bondi Blonde by Lucille Howe

"It's Christmas Eve and jobless Emily has just made the biggest impulse buy of her life...

Arriving on Bondi Beach, pear shaped, lily-white and clutching a bottle of factor 30, she has two options: 

1/ Hide out in the Irish pubs 

2/ Get with the programme

Join Emily as she falls for Sam, the hot barista, and meets her nemesis in Kiki, the Japanese surf siren. Bondified, and bent on perfection, will Emily be saved from the surgeon's scalpel? Can she win Miss Bondi, and does love mean reading between the tan lines?

Find out this summer. BONDI BLONDE: When it pays to have skinny genes."

Rating: 4/5

I don't normally read eBooks as I haven't got the time to squeeze them in amongst the other review books I have to get through, and for a long while I managed to lose the charger for my Kindle which meant not reading any eBooks either. However, when I was sent an email from Lucille Howe asking me to review her new book Bondi Blonde, something drew me to it and made me want to read it... possibly the cover quotes from Tilly Bagshawe and Holly Valance may have swayed me a bit as well! The cover looks fun and summery, bright too and so I started to read without expectation, but ended up pleasantly surprised by what I read!

The book is about British character Emily, who was happy in her job at a trashy magazine in the UK but when it suddenly folds, she finds herself out of a job and unsure about what to do with her life. On a whim, she pops into a travel agents and buys herself a one-way ticket to Bondi in Australia. She finds herself a bit stranded there, but soon makes a friend in hunky barista Sam, and becomes part of the surfer sect that he is in with. Emily soon settles into life in Australia, finds a few jobs in magazines, and befriends a few colleagues along the way, but what's troubling Emily is the one she left behind - did she do the right thing in kissing goodbye to Jude once and for all? Or will the girl from the UK end up being Queen of Bondi?

I really enjoyed the beginning of the book with Emily in the UK, and her eventual move to Australia, but I was surprised at how long it took the action to actually move over there - much longer than I had anticipated. For a while after it got to Oz, I felt the book lost its way a little bit, and I was drawn into characters who were forgettable, but soon it came back again, with Emily more settled out there, making new friends at magazines and also meeting new boyfriend Sam. I enjoyed seeing Emily come more out of herself, and found her narrative was readable and really drew me into the book, and the rest of the characters worked well with her too.

Despite the sunny outlook of the book, and the happy ideal that is living in Australia for us Brits, Emily soon finds that there is a downside to living in Australia - the constant need to be a stick-thin bikini babe. Howe uses this storyline to create a more sinister side to the book, and write about how damaging body issues can be, and what lengths some will go to to get what they deem is the perfect body. Indeed, Emily's story is quite serious, and as the book progresses she seems to be more and more body conscious, to the extent where I was quite uncomfortable reading about it, and almost wanted to skip it as I didn't like what I was reading - kudos to Howe for evoking those feelings in a reader.

This was a very enjoyable book with a bit of a dark side that runs throughout, and I really liked it. I did find at points I got confused with some of the minor characters, and wished in a way there was more development on the relationship between Emily and the important characters back in the UK as these were some of my favourite bits. The writing was good, with a few mistakes here and there to be noted, but they didn't really spoil my enjoyment of the book. A fun (if sometimes overly enthusiastic) narrative adds well to the feel of the book, and I really enjoyed the setting of Australia and Bondi, which Howe wrote very realistically and I felt came across really well in the book. A very good summer reading with a twist!

You can buy Bondi Blonde as an eBook now!

Book Cover: With Love at Christmas by Carole Matthews

Yesterday, the lovely Carole Matthews tweeted the GORGEOUS new cover for her festive novel, With Love at Christmas, coming on October 25th! I know it's only just "summer" (ha!) but I am in love with this cover, it's so cute and festive, and I cannot wait to read it :) Click the cover to see a bigger version.

"Juliet loves her family very much. She would do anything for them and she knows her husband, Rick, feels the same - which is a good thing because they ask a lot! Son, Tom, may be looking for work but he doesn't seem to be looking very hard. Their pregnant daughter Chloe has returned to the family home, bringing her two-year-old son with her. Juliet's father, Frank, is getting over a heartbreak of his own and Rita, Juliet's mother, is becoming more and more erratic each day. And then there's Buster, the much-loved family dog - even though he does smell a bit ...With Christmas fast-approaching, Juliet knows that she and Rick need to pull out all the stops to turn the chaos into calm otherwise it could be a disaster. But things seem to spiralling out of control, which means just one thing - it must be Christmas!"

Pre-order With Love at Christmas as a paperback now!

11 June 2012

Author Interview: Lindsey Kelk

Lindsey Kelk has just released the fifth story in her 'I Heart...' series, and I reviewed the fab book the other day, and loved every page! Lindsey was kind enough to answer some of my questions about the book, her career (and her WWE obsession), so here is the interview, enjoy! My hugest thanks go to lovely Lindsey for answering all of my questions!

Q1. Please tell us about your new book I Heart London?

I Heart London  sort of brings the series full circle. Angela is back in London and really forced to take stock of what’s happened in the past two years, where she’s been, where’s she’s going and what’s next. It was really nice to look at how things have changed for everyone – Angie and Alex are engaged, Louisa has a baby, Jenny’s on a bit of a downward spiral and on top of all of it, she’s yanked out of her safe little New York cocoon and thrown back into the middle of her old life. It was really about that feeling you get when things feel like they’ve changed so much but when you look outside yourself, you see they haven’t really. Plus la change, and all that jazz.

Q2. It's fab to have Angela back again - how much fun is it to step back into her shoes and write her next adventure?

It’s so much fun. There really was a lot of me in this book, a lot of what I was feeling at the time. Not specific scenarios obviously but definitely emotions I was going through with deciding where home was going to be for the foreseeable. Plus, you know, she has very lovely shoes.

Q3. What inspired the 'I Heart' series? I personally love diving back into a book where I know the characters, their pasts and seeing how things unfold for them in the next installment - is it the same for you when you're writing them?

It’s exactly the same. Every time, a couple of chapters in I freak out and panic that there’s nothing to say and that the story doesn’t make sense and then by the end, I can’t bear to finish it. It’s more everyone else from Angela, they’re always clamouring to have more to do and more to say. Angela’s pretty passive really! Everything happens around her, she’s never the voice that wakes me up in the middle of the night. Maybe because the story unfolds through her.  I hate thinking I’m putting her on the shelf for a while.

Q4. Your last novel was a stand-alone story - The Single Girl's To-Do List. Why did you choose to write a non Angela Clark book, and do you have plans for any more stand alone books? Was it strange to start with a whole new group of characters?

It was strange but it was liberating. I had another story to tell – that book was really personal and I couldn’t write it into Angela’s story, she’s got her own stuff going on now. The next book will be the first in a new series but I’m excited to write some new people, make some new friends, try out some new places. It’s fun. A change is as good as a rest.

Q5. I think you have some of the most beautiful book covers out there, especially for a book series. How have you felt about your covers so far, and how much say do you get in the design process, if any?

I get no say. Seriously, when HC showed me the first cover, knowing how much I love my edgy American lit, they told me my opinion didn’t count. Actualy said ‘we don’t expect you to like it but remember who it’s for.’ It was hilarious, I think I’d sold myself in as too much of a hipster. But I love them so much, Adrian who illustrates them is amazing. The London cover is gorgeous – have you seen the travel card case? It’s AMAZING. The weirdest thing for me is seeing the different covers in different countries. America and Canada go for more hipstery photo covers to make it less chick-litty. They’re super cool. The Dutch and Polish covers are hilarious.

Q6. As well as writing adult fiction, you work as a children's book editor. Has working in publishing been something you've always wanted to do, and how did you go about getting your book deal for I Heart New York?

More than anything, I’ve always wanted to write. When I was little I used to write stories all the time and it just grew with me. I studied writing at uni as part of my English degree but honestly, never thought it would come to anything. Even being an editor seemed like a pipe dream then – I went to Nottingham Trent, I come from a pit village – publishing and writing seemed like a very fancy thing to get into. Once I  made it through the door as an editor and started writing again, it all just sort of fell into place. Lots of hard work, lots of persistence and lots of talking to anyone who would listen to me, same as anyone else. I had my manuscript with an agent but she and I did not get along so I spent a year trying to find another one and eventually asked a friend at HarperCollins to recommend and agent for me. She passed it on to Lynne, the publisher of HarperFiction and I just couldn’t believe it when she said she wanted to sign I Heart New York. I did my first deal directly with Harper but I would never recommend acting without an agent. I was lucky because I’d got experience of publishing contracts but I wouldn’t be without Rowan (Lawton, my agent at FurnissLawton) for anything now.

Q7. You now live in New York. Why did you move there, and is it as much fun as it sounds living in the Big Apple?! What do you miss most about home?

It’s an obscene amount of fun. I want to lie and say it’s the same as living anywhere else but it’s just fantastic. I think everyone has a place that completes them and New York is definitely that city for me, there’s always something to do, someone to see, places to visit. Plus I love travelling around the States, it’s just bonkers. This year alone I’ve seen frozen lakes, a goat pageant show, sausage dog racing festival and sung a lot of karaoke in a lot of random little towns. Next week I’ going to the Appalachian mountains to see bears. Giddiness. That said, I miss my friends and family so much. And London is beautiful. It really hit home on this last visit, the jubilee injected this massive jolt of primary colour into the city that made you look at it with fresh eyes and sweet jesus, that city is one hell of a looker.

Q8. You, like me, are a massive fan of WWE (thanks for getting me hooked again btw lol). What is it about WWE that you like so much, and why do you think it is so globally successful? 

Ha! I was going to say it’s my secret shame but it’s so not a secret. I lost more twitter followers when I live tweeted Wrestlemania than when I live tweeted the general election… whatevs. I think I just love the glossy soap opera-ness of it all. I used to watch it obsessively with my brother when I was growing up and now it’s just such an easy way to switch off. It’s that classic good versus evil storyline, the goodies and the baddies, the twists and turns and um, you know, the really hot men. Really. Hot. Men. I was at Survivors Series in New York when Punk won the belt last year and I lost my shit so badly. My friend was quite scared.

Q9. As a writer, do you ever think you could write better stories than the WWE creative team?! Do you think you could write them without ever being biased towards certain wrestlers?! (*cough* CM Punk *cough*)

I love him. Seriously, it’s not a crush. I want that made abundantly clear. L. O. V. E. But I could  definitely put my feelings aside to be professional. Besides, I’d need to write him out for the honeymoon. Basically, I think the WWE creative team should call me immediately, if only to dig themselves out of this abhorrent pit of divas storylines they’ve got themselves in at the moment. Everyone knows the women’s division is never going to pull in as many viewers as the men’s but it’s downright disrespectful right now. Triple H! Call me!

Q10. Name 3 things you couldn't live without and why!

So hard! My iPhone because I’m a twitter/facebook/email/text/iTunes ADDICT. I need to be occupied every single hour of every single day so I’m constantly tweeting or texting and I have music running all the time. Unless I’m watching wrestling, obviously. My iPhone changed my life. I’m not ashamed. The other two things would probably be my laptop and my kindle although all three of those are sort of related, aren’t they? I can’t imagine not having something to write with and I can’t imagine not being able to read. I love that I can download pretty much anything on my Kindle, even though I do still prefer the feel of a good solid book. I suppose I could cope with just my laptop since it’s a MacBook Air which would mean I could have my Dior Lip Glow lip balm and Mulberry Alexa handbag to keep them both in. That lip balm is a miracle and the handbag cost so bloody much if I don’t use it at all times, I get the guilts. Not proud, but very happy.

Q11. Can you PLEASE tell me something about Angela's next adventure? You've written 5 of the 7 books in the series so far - do you know where Angela's last books are going to be, and would you ever bring her back once the series is done? (please say yes, please say yes).

Eep, please don’t hurt me but I Heart London is going to be the last in Angela’s adventures for a little while. She isn’t gone away forever, just having a bit of a rest while I tell some new stories. When I first started London, I actually thought I wouldn’t write anymore but by the time I was halfway through, I knew I would. well, if the publishers let me, that is!

7 June 2012

Book Review: I Heart London by Lindsey Kelk

"The fifth in the bestselling and immensely popular I HEART series following Angela’s romantic misadventures

Angela’s visa has expired and it looks as though she’s going to have to set foot again on home turf where further romantic trouble awaits. She has to face the ex-boyfriend she ran out on, her best friend’s new baby, and her mum. Is she now a New York girl through and through or can London win her heart again?"

Rating: 5/5

Angela is back! God, I love Lindsey Kelk's I Heart... series, and finally we join Angela back home in London after 4 books spent jetting all over the world! There is something fab about rejoining a group of characters who we have known and loved for a few years now, and it helps somewhat that the covers are divine as well! I feel sad that in just a few books this series will end, and we will have to leave Angela and her fiancé Alex behind once and for all, but for now, I eagerly anticipate each new release! I was so excited to receive an early review copy of I Heart London and started it straight away, and managed to devour it in just a few days, no matter how much I told myself to slow down and try to make it last a bit longer! As ever, it was fabulous and possibly one of my favourite I Heart... books so far!

Angela Clark is back in London, and isn't too happy about it. She really feels like New York is her home now, and misses the hustle and bustle of the city, and her friends as well. She and Alex, together with her best friend Jenny Lopez who wants to finally go to London herself, descend upon Angela's shocked parents and begin to settle into a more sedate lifestyle in London. However, Angela's interfering mother manages to cajole her and Alex into something they aren't entirely sure they want. This, for Angela, means trying to keep the peace between her two best friends in the world, American Jenny and British Louisa - two ladies whose lives couldn't be more different! Will Angela ever settle into life back at home, or will she be fleeing back to New York as fast as the next aeroplane can carry her?

I found this book so easy to get into, and within just a few pages, I was back in the world of Angela in the fab city of New York. I loved that it started in New York, where Angela seems to really belong and moved over to the UK after a little while, and with a good pace of the story. As ever, Angela is funny, self-depreciating and a brilliant leading character who you can't fail to love and warm to, and she is what makes the books so readable and successful. The relationship between her and now-fiancé Alex is so believable that it's great to read, and you want things to work out for the pair as they just seem to be made to be together. I have to say for the first time Angela did get on my nerves slightly in this book, seeming to being Jenny's lapdog for parts of the book and ignoring her childhood friend Louisa somewhat, but I looked past those bits when they annoyed me and got back into the rest of the story.

It was fun seeing the characters out of their normal environment, especially Alex and Jenny and it made for some fun reading. It was nice seeing London through a tourist's eyes, even for Angela who hasn't been home for years and is a bit worried about returning. We meet some characters we haven't met fully before in the books - Louisa, Angela's best friend, Angela's parents and even a brief appearance by her cheating ex-fiancé which is quite amusing! There's always something going on in the book and that's what I loved about it - I wasn't for a second bored and never wanted to put it down as I knew Angela and crew were going to do something even more fun in the next few pages! As the book progressed, I wondered where it was heading for an ending, but as usual, Kelk manages to bring it altogether nice and neatly ready for the next installment of Angela's adventure, and leaves the reader with a big smile on her face!

I loved every page of I Heart London and am sad to leave Angela behind once more! I found it fun to bring the character back to her homeland, as we've really only read Angela in other locations before so it was interesting to see her being a bit unsettled and treated like a child rather than the independent adult she thinks she is! I loved the main arc of the story (which I haven't spoilt as it was fun and a nice surprise for me!), and it was something totally different to anything else we've read in an I Heart... book before! I have no idea where Angela is off to next, but I hope it's going to be as much fun as this one. As usual, Kelk brings a real warmth and lots of humour to her writing, I really did laugh out loud so many times, and I love that a book can do that. Angela's narrative is so funny, and works so well in the first person. I can't recommend this highly enough, especially if you've read and loved the other I Heart... books, you'll love this too! Read it now!

You can buy I Heart London as a paperback or an eBook now.

Author Article: Lucille Howe on the making of 'Bondi Blonde'

Lucille Howe, author of new eBook Bondi Blonde, has kindly agreed to write me an article on how the book came about, partly inspired by her own adventures in Australia! I will be reviewing the book shortly, and thought it was a really fun read, with a slightly serious look at body image as well, and I think it'd be a great beach read. My thanks go to Lucille for writing the article!

"Five years ago, you would have called me the luckiest lady in Lucky Land. I was living three cartwheels away from the edge of Bondi Beach, with a ‘right hottie’ (quote, unquote) and writing all sorts of sordid nonsense for Cosmo magazine, Down Under, where I worked as their Features Editor. There was only one problem…I felt like I’d had a lobotomy. Starved of culture, good conversation and lively debate on anything other than low carbs v low sugar I sat down at my computer, determined to keep my brain sharp, and filed 700 words of what would be 92,000 of Bondi Blonde. 

Cut to a year later and my life in the Zen lane took a swerve. I left the hottie, bringing my tan, and a gazillion pairs of Havianas, back to London, on the grounds that I couldn’t sign up for marriage and kids 23 hours and £1,200 of air travel from everyone else I loved in this world.

65,000 words were now under my very much tightened belt (that’s what endless beach runs, Bikram yoga and a body fascist boyfriend does for a girl) and I was stuck, unable to end in fiction what has taken such a turn in reality.

May 2010, I decided that I really wanted to revisit Cannes Film Festival so I pitched the following feature to the Daily Mail: ‘Can you get your film green-lit in 48 hours’ and the very clever Commissioning Ed told me to dry clean my best red carpet frock and go get ‘em. After some schmoozing at the British Film Pavilion, I invited Paul Brett, of Prescience Film Finance (co-producers of The King’s Speech), to see if he could eat £300 worth of lobster on the Daily Mail expense account. Fortunately, his appetite didn’t stretch beyond a Tuna Nicoise, and around our third wine, he challenged me to give him my best 30-second elevator pitch on the fictional film I had come there to finance. 

My neurons perked up at this stage and fought the effects of the alcohol to come up with the Grand Plan: ‘Why not pitch the plot to your book, ya great drongo?’ And this is where the story really hots up. I will paraphrase here, but the general response was, ‘by golly I LOVE it,’ at which point I was whisked to the Australian Film Commission to regale said plot to the big cheese there, and for the subsequent 48 hours, I survived on a diet of bubbles and optimism.

But first things first: I had to finish the thing. So, summer 2010 was a blur of power-writing, fuelled on midnight snacks and encouraging emails from Paul, which were the equivalent of him waving poms poms at me from the top of a human pyramid.

By the time I delivered the finished manuscript, at the end of the summer, Prescience had taken an axe to their budgets and  cooled on the idea (not, however, before flying me to the Toronto Film Festival, meeting Darren Aronofsy and Danny Boyle). But – **swoon** – they had meanwhile hooked me up with the film agent at top agency, Curtis Brown, to potentially broker the deal at a later date, who had put the book in the hands of legendary literary agent, Sheila Crowley.

After 20 years of writing the call came, and from Sheila herself…would I like her to represent me? Does the Queen like jewels? ‘Of course!’ Sheila was, and is, everything an author could dream up in their fervid imagination re the kind of glamorous, nurturing, terrifyingly smart expert/friend you long for in this process. Long may she reign.

Initially, we got half a dozen rejections, and some bang-on notes, from her A-list of editors at the big publishers. So, I went away and revised my latest draft to incorporate some of those suggestions, took some nail scissors to chapters and pruned it into a slicker shape, and decided to e-publish myself as a sort of dummy run to show publishers what the public think. 

Luckily, Bondi Blondes around the world have bought the book to bring some candy to their Kindle and rad to their iPad and I hope that even more readers get to experience Bondi Beach the way I did. It’s an antipodeanly hot, LOL, read that explores some darker body issues along the way, so I do think it’s unique among summer romances. But, most of all, I hope my real-life story inspires writers to seize the day and know that connections and opportunities might come from the most unexpected of places. The trick is to say, ‘yes’ as much as you can, especially to new adventures."

Thanks, Lucille!

Bondi Blonde is available from Amazon.co.uk/com.

For more info on Lucille, visit www.lucillehowe.com and www.facebook.com/BondiBlondeTheBook

5 June 2012

Book News: Don't You Forget About Me by Alexandra Potter

Alexandra Potter is back this summer with her brand new novel Don't You Forget About Me on July 19th and I think it sounds like a great idea... who doesn't wake up and have a terrible previous night erased?! I also love the cover, it's simple yet very pretty. Are you looking forward to this one?

"After a bad break up, doesn't every girl want the same things? 

* For her ex-boyfriend to stay single forever...
* Or maybe emigrate, to a remote, uninhabited island?
* Better still, that she'd never met him in the first place!

But what if one of those wishes came true?

Tess is heartbroken when Seb breaks up with her and can't help blaming herself. If only she'd done things differently. If only she could make right all her regrets... But she can't. It's over. She has to forget about him. Drunk and upset on New Year's Eve she wishes she'd never met him. 

But when she wakes up to discover this dream has come true, she realises she has a chance. To do it all over again. And to get it right this time..."

You can pre-order Don't You Forget About Me as a paperback now!