27 September 2012

Cover Change: Hidden Treasures by Fern Britton

Fern Britton has got a brand new cover look for her latest book Hidden Treasures. The original cover (right) was all bright and summery, with lovely bright pink and turquoise making it seem like a great summer read. However, for the 11th October paperback release, it's been given a wintery/Christmassy makeover, and I quite like it. However, I have to say that even though I haven't read the book, it seems a bit odd it can have 2 very different-season themed covers! I can't decide though which I like best... how about you?! Vote on the poll below and let me know :)

26 September 2012

Book Review: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? by Claire Allan

"It only takes a moment for your life to change forever. And a heart can be broken in a second . . . Kitty Shanahan, proprietor of The Dressing Room, is very much in love with love. But a routine phone-call turns her seemingly perfect life on its head. It s not easy to help hopeful brides choose their dream dresses when your heart is in pieces. And it s hard to know who to trust when the man you trusted with your entire life has mysteriously disappeared. Journalist Erin Brannigan knows exactly where the love of her life is. But Paddy, who happens to be battling cancer, has turned into a 'Groomzilla' - planning their forthcoming wedding to the very last detail. When she is challenged by her bosses to write about her forthcoming wedding, Paddy's cancer and the man who first broke her heart, she finds herself caught up in a whirlwind which spins far out of her control. Thrown together in the elegant dressing-rooms of the bridal shop, Kitty and Erin find themselves caught up in each other's lives and wondering if broken hearts can ever be mended."

Rating: 5/5

I love Claire Allan's books and am always very excited when her latest novel arrives in my letterbox! This year, Claire's book is entitled What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? complete with gorgeous purple themed cover with that signature 'Claire Allan' look about it that I really like. I find that there is a lot of warmth and realism in Claire's books and that is what I enjoy about them so much - her Irish charm really shines through and I really thought the idea of this novel - finding out how two women are going to cope with their broken hearts - sounds really good and I was excited to get stuck in and find out more!

Kitty owns a wedding dress shop, and loves her work - she loves nothing more than uniting a bride with her perfect wedding dress, and she's pretty good at it too. But when Kitty receives some shocking and devastating news from her husband, it threatens to end not only her marriage, but threatens her business too as she struggles to cope with being heart-broken and working with women in love. Then there's Erin, a client of Kitty's who is getting married but not necessarily for the right reasons. Erin is worried that things are spiralling out of control and that fiancé Paddy is getting a bit too wedding obsessed. Will Erin and Kitty be able to get their heads sorted in time to save the things most important to each of them?

Allan uses her wonderful two person narrative for the telling of this book and it works so well, especially in a story like this that really needs to focus on both people equally. Allan tells it in the third person as well, again allowing the reader a chance to get a good rounded view of the story but enough to follow closely both Kitty and Erin and begin to care about them as well. I really liked both characters, and felt sorry for them both in different was. Kitty was completely broken-hearted thanks to her husband and it's a sad tale to read about, and Allan writes about her sorrow so very well. I loved the characters Kitty surrounded herself with, from her sister to her step-mother Rose who seemed like the complete antithesis to the wicked step-mother we all too often read! The storyline involving Rose and  her mother was very well written too and it was really fun to read.

Erin's story was quite different, as it almost seems like she could be seen as the villain for some of it, and I was a bit unsure about how I felt about her some of the time. Her storyline with Paddy is quite a sad one, but Allan covers the serious issues within their story very well, and you can't help but put yourself in Erin's shoes and understand how overwhelmed she feels about it all. Allan neatly ties the two stories together through Kitty's shop, which allows for enough of a link to keep it all flowing, but not so much that they are too closely interwoven. The supporting cast throughout the book was great too, and the banter between the characters read naturally and was a joy to read. I also loved Allan's descriptions of the wedding dress shop and the gowns, they sounded beautiful and the way the moments the brides tried on dresses and got emotional were lovely to read!

This was a fantastic story that moved at a great pace, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page of it. I found Allan's narrative voice to be so easy to get into and I ploughed through the pages as I wanted to find out what Erin and Kitty were going to get up to next, and to see if they would find the happiness that they both really deserved. Allan doesn't shy away from emotion in her book, there's plenty of it throughout both storylines, although the gentle moments of humour made me smile and kept the tone of it fairly light. The book left a smile on my face, and it was really enjoyable from start to finish. I feel that Allan gets better with every book, and I always find myself getting lost in her stories. I definitely recommend this book, it's well written, easy to read and highly enjoyable, you'll certainly want to find out what becomes of Erin and Kitty!

You can buy What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? as a paperback now.

25 September 2012

Book News: Would I Lie To You? by Clare Dowling

I am really looking forward to the release of Clare Dowling's latest book Would I Lie to You? which is due for release on November 8th of this year. I really like the new cover look the publishers have given the book, it looks fresh and colourful. I'll certainly be looking to read this one.

"Why tell the truth...if you know it's going to hurt?

Hannah has known Ellen and Barbara since they shared student digs. So when Ollie, the father of her daughter Cleo, unexpectedly walks out, who better to turn to than her best friends? The reunion takes place in Ellen and husband Mark's converted farmhouse in France, where Hannah slowly becomes reacquainted with nature - the white-back pigs, the rooster with the mental health issues - and, more importantly, what she really wants out of her life. Then something shocking happens, which threatens not only her recovery, but the very bonds of her friendship with Ellen and Barbara. Her loyalty is put to the test - if she does the right thing, will it blow Ellen's marriage out of the water? And why does she find herself turning to Ollie, of all people, for advice...?"

You can pre-order Would I Lie To You? as a paperback or buy as an eBook now.

24 September 2012

Book Review: Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman

"'You are a remarkable woman and you deserve all the happiness, contentment and love in the world. I, for one, know that I have never met anyone quite like you.'

When Rose Pritchard turns up on the doorstep of a Cumbrian B&B it is her last resort. She and her seven-year-old daughter Maddie have left everything behind. And they have come to the village of Millthwaite in search of the person who once offered Rose hope.

Almost immediately Rose wonders if she's made a terrible mistake - if she's chasing a dream - but she knows in her heart that she cannot go back. She's been given a second chance - at life, and love - but will she have the courage to take it?"

Rating: 5/5

I'm a big Rowan Coleman fan, and eagerly look forward to all of her books as she has a way of story-telling that pulls you in, and despite the perfect bright and happy looking covers, there's always a deep and meaningful story inside that I love. Her 2011 release, Lessons in Laughing Out Loud was an emotional and powerful book, and even a year later I can remember everything about that book. I was hoping that Dearest Rose was going to be another of those amazing books, and I quite like the cover - it seems to match the description on the back of the book, and doesn't look too shiny or sparkly which would be a bit misleading. Having read it, I can definitely say it's an amazing book, one of my reads of the year, and here's why you have to read Dearest Rose.

Rose Pritchard, in the middle of the night, decides enough is enough and flees her family home with daughter Maddie in tow, and ends up in a B&B in Cumbria, banging on the door and begging to be given a bed to sleep in. Rose won't tell anyone why she has ended up in Millthwaite, but it's clear she is hiding a painful past, and her young daughter is suffering too. Rose doesn't expect to bump into someone from her past, someone she thought she'd left behind a long time ago and is thrown off course when he reappears in her life. Rose struggles to handle the reappearance, as well as dealing with the aftermath of what happened to her back at her home, and soon things start to unravel for Rose. Will an old friend prove to be Rose's saviour and help sort out all her worries?

You don't quite grasp from the beginning of the book what a rollercoaster of emotions this book is going to be. It begins with Rose and Maddie arriving on the doorstep of B&B owner Jean and Brian not disclosing anything that's gone on, and as a reader, it's left to our imagination to think about what has happened to make Rose flee. I have to say I did guess Rose's secret, but that didn't stop it being any more powerful when, piece by piece, it's revealed to us as Rose discloses her secret past and what happened that night. It's not an easy read regarding this part of the book, with some descriptions and narratives that aren't nice to imagine in your mind but it really sets the scene for this character and her state of mind. I have to say I don't envy Coleman for the research she must have put in to this book, but it reads extremely realistically and it's awful to think this happens on an all-too-often basis.

The characters are so well-written in the book, and I enjoyed reading all about them during the book. However, it isn't just the characters that made this book for me, it's the various relationships in the book that really stood out, in particular that of Rose and John. You can feel the awkwardness, the pain and the regret as you're reading, and I so wanted these two characters to work it out, and as their story progressed, I was drawn more and more emotionally into it. Rose is a damaged character, and you can really like her because you know she deserves all the happiness she can get after her past, and I was willing her to be a strong woman as the book went on. Coleman writes the young girl Maddie so easily, makes her believable if a little cheeky and doesn't shy away from showing the effects of what happened to Rose on the young girl. Fraiser was my favourite male character, a likeable male and the perfect friend to Rose, he almost seemed too perfect at times! Together, they create a fantastic cast, small but perfectly formed and you can become totally invested in them.

Dearest Rose is one of those books which you know is going to stay with you long after reading it, even after just a few pages. I loved every page of it, despite it's somewhat horrible main subject matter, simply because Coleman has crafted it so well and made Rose, Maddie and co so likeable. It is a book that makes you think, that makes you wonder why women tolerate the things that they do for the men that they love, and the storyline involving Rose's friend is shocking, just when you think you can't take anymore emotion in the book, Coleman hits you with another load from another direction. An emotional, moving and utterly brilliant book, I loved it and didn't want it to end. It's my favourite Coleman novel to date, she seems to get better and better with each book, and I really cannot wait for her next. Simply outstanding - one of my books of the year without a shadow of a doubt.

You can pre-order/buy Dearest Rose as a paperback or an eBook now.

Cover Change: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Abby Clements

Abby Clements' debut novel Meet Me Under the Mistletoe has undergone a bit of a cover transformation since it was originally listed on Amazon under the original cover, pictured left. It's now sporting a navy jacket which I think it is much bolder, and certainly makes the copious snowflakes and snow on the background stand out much more, it's gorgeous! I can't wait for the book, roll on 25th October!

"Childhood friends Laurie and Rachel used to be inseparable - but their lives have taken very different paths since they picked up their A-level results together. Now thirty-five, they have all but fallen out of touch; glamorous single girl Laurie is based in London and dedicated to her career in fashion; Rachel seemingly living the family idyll in Yorkshire. But when Rachel's mother-in-law needs urgent treatment in London, and disasters at work and in her love life mean Laurie needs to flee, a house swap falls into place. Soon gentle Rachel is far from the village bake sales, braving the city's mean streets while trying to keep her marriage and family together; while Laurie attempts to work an Aga, befriend the wary village locals - and forget the man who seems intent on breaking her heart. Will their relationships survive this test? And will they make it home for Christmas?"

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

21 September 2012

Book News: You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

One debut novel being released later this year that I'm really looking forward to is Mhairi McFarlane's first book You Had Me At Hello. I love the cover which is so bright and fresh, and I think it sounds like an utterly charming read as well. It's out on December 6th, and I can't wait to read it!

"What happens when the one that got away comes back?

Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart.

It’s been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away.

From the moment they met they’d been a gang of two; partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on. Ben is married. Rachel is definitely not. In fact, the men in her life make her want to take holy orders…

Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend."

You can pre-order You Had Me At Hello as a paperback or an eBook now!

19 September 2012

Book Review: Stop the Clock by Alison Mercer

"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..."

Rating: 4/5

Alison Mercer's debut book is one of the novels I have really been looking forward to this year, simply because it sounded great and I wanted to find out more about it! Before it was released, it went through a bit of a cover change to the one we have as a finished published edition (the picture on this review), and I have to say I did like the original one slightly more because it was quite eye-catching! However, I wanted to start it so quickly did and found myself completely involved in the stories of each of these friends - very different and surprising in their own ways, but each as believable as the next. It's a wonderfully written debut novel and one I'm highly recommending.

Three friends, Lucy, Tina and Natalie have been close for years, and one New Years Eve share their life plans with each other - their hopes, dreams and ambitions for the future, and hope that they will all get exactly what they want and need. Fast forward ten years, and things are very different from how they were a decade ago, but have each of the women got what they crave? Lucy craves stability and a happy home and family life, Tina wants success in her career and to be an independent woman and Natalie just wants to meet Mr Right and settle down and live a happy life with the one she loves. Will any of the women have got their happy ever after ending?

I really liked the way this book was written. Mercer makes sure to divide the story equally between the three women, and weaves them together in such a way that they stand alone as their own stories, but at the same time relies on the friendship of the women to bring it all back together again and be a cohesive story. We meet the women when they are in their twenties, and all hopeful for what life has ahead of them. When we meet them later, things have greatly changed in different ways, and so has the women's friendship too, a fact which felt realistic as of course no matter how close we are at one point in our lives, things change as we all move in our lives in different directions, and this part of the book felt extremely well put together.

I liked each of the characters for different reasons, and the strength each of them found to overcome the various obstacles within their stories - I'm not going to reveal a lot about what happens to them because I think it's more fun to read about the things happening as you go through the book. My favourite character was Tina which surprised me as I didn't really like her at first at all, yet Mercer really turns her around and made me sympathetic towards her a lot more, she was a very believable characters also, in her feelings and her behaviours. I struggled to warm most to Natalie, as I felt I couldn't get that into her story - she felt like she got the least "air-time" in the book for some reason. Lucy was almost the one who held it all together for me, and it was nice to see how their friendship remained important to them, and they valued it in different ways as their lives took different directions.

I think a lot of women will be able to relate to this book in different - it's a book that can appeal to a wide range of readers, and is a very successful novel. I think it's a strong debut with a great narrative, and a storyline (or three!) that draws you in and doesn't throw you back out again until you've turned the last page. It isn't a book with an obvious happy ending in lots of ways, and I enjoyed trying to work out what the three women were going to do next, and how their decisions would impact on those around them too. It's a great novel, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading Mercer's future novels, of which I hope there will be more soon! A great novel, and a must-read.

You can buy Stop the Clock as a paperback or an eBook now!

Book News: The Holiday by Jane Green and Friends

Another festive collection of stories, and one with a gorgeous cover to match! Jane Green is back this year on 8th November with a collection of new Christmas stories, with some written by her author friends too. I adore the cover, it's so pretty and I think I will be looking to try this one, it sounds great and I do love a good Christmas novel! :)

"If you had one wish this Christmas, what would it be?

Sarah wishes not to be lonely. She shouldn't be - not with Eddie, her husband, and their two children by her side ... but since Sarah waved farewell to the bright lights of the big city and moved to a picture perfect home in the country, her marriage is missing its usual sparkle. So when Eddie's job takes him away from home shortly before Christmas, the enforced break in their relationship - while tricky - probably couldn't have come at a better time.

But will his absence make her heart grow fonder? And if so, for whom? As seasonal cheer begins to flow, Sarah discovers rather a lot can happen in one holiday ... especially when it's Christmas.

Jane Green and her friends are delighted to bring you this enchanting trio of tales for the holiday - stories about falling headlong in love and the miracle of second chances."

You can pre-order The Holiday as a paperback now.

15 September 2012

Book Cover Alert! The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

I don't normally post book covers at the weekend, and I haven't touched on 2013 releases yet, but I couldn't resist when I saw this gorgeous cover!! Jenny Colgan's novel The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris isn't due out until 14th March 2013, but already I can't wait, and the cover makes it all the more enticing! It's purple, and pretty, and French looking, and I love it! Are you loving this cover as much as I am?!

14 September 2012

Book Review: The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes

"Helen Walsh doesn't believe in fear - it's just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good jobs - 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 and Jay is awash with cash, so Helen is forced to take on the task of finding Wayne Diffney, the 'Wacky One' from boyband Laddz.

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. 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."

Rating: 3/5

Marian Keyes' latest book has been a long time coming for many of her fans, and it's another installment in the Walsh family novels. Now, the only one in the Walsh novels I have read is Watermelon, which also happens to have been Marian's first ever book which I really enjoyed (and probably should have read the rest of the saga). My next Marian book was 'This Charming Man' which was a bit of a strange one for me, and then followed this up with The Brightest Star in the Sky, another odd book which I found strange, and not completely to my tastes. I was hoping that with a return to the Walshes, I'd find a more "normal" novel (for want of a better word) but I'm not entirely sure that's what I got...

Helen Walsh is a Private Investigator, and a fairly good one at that. She's been working for many years, but what with the recession, she's finding it hard to make ends meet as work starts to dry up more and more. Not only that, but Helen is contending with a never-ending depression, one which makes her have suicidal thoughts and feelings, and she doesn't know where to turn. When she's offered a lucrative job as a PI to search for a missing popstar, Wayne, part of man-band Laddz, she decides to take it and find him once and for all. But where is Wayne, and what mystery of Mercy Close is lying behind Wayne's front door? Also, is Helen going to be able to battle her depression and work on probably her most important job to date?

I'll be honest and say I did struggle with this book at times, and really had to give myself a kick up the bum to pick it up and carry on ploughing through it. It's a big old hardback book, and at 500 pages, it isn't short either, and at times feels like it is going to go on for a while. Helen was quite a dislikeable character for the most part, for me anyway. She narrates the book in the first person, so we can really try and get into her head, and I just found her hard to like. She's quite selfish in a way, money-oriented, and tends to feel sorry for herself in so many ways. I found her to be quite horrible to her own family as well, having strange relationships with those around her, even her boyfriend Artie, and ex-boyfriend Jay, who happens to be manager of Laddz. There are parts where she made me smile, parts where she made me feel very sorry for her but in the other parts, she just wasn't a character for me!

I do have to praise Marian on the way she writes the storyline of Helen's depression, something Marian herself has a lot of experience of, and it shows in her writing of this story arc. She uses names of prescription medicines, details about treatments, doctors and it feels very realistic as you're reading it. I felt incredibly sorry for Helen, she really struggles with her problems, and her family almost seem a bit dismissive of it at times, and she doesn't seem to reveal how bad things get to others in her life - she seems a lonely kind of person. The part of the story which I did like a lot was the mystery of Mercy Close - where pop star Wayne was, why he'd disappeared, and Helen's hunt for him. It was great to read, fast paced and lots going on, throwing you in wrong directions and it entertained me - and I didn't guess how it ended up either.

However, as I mentioned already, I felt the book was really too long for me, and there were parts of it which I found went on and on, and I could have skipped without missing too much of the story. Helen wasn't a likeable lead character, and considering that the point is told entirely by her, that meant it affected my enjoyment of the book overall which was a shame. The arc of Helen's job as a PI and her "mission" in this book was the enjoyable part and I really thought Keyes had done a great job of this. The Walsh family all get name-checked in this book, although they are barely a passing mention in most cases, except for Claire, which I was surprised about. Die-hard Marian fans will love this, and I'm sure will love seeing the long-anticipated final Walsh sister novel, but for me, it wasn't really my cup of tea and it's a shame I couldn't enjoy it more.

You can buy The Mystery of Mercy Close as a hardback or an eBook now.

Book News: The Twelve Days to Christmas by Michele Gorman

Ooh, another Christmas novel! Michele Gorman is releasing a new Christmas novel this year, and it sounds really good, and I love the cover too! The Twelve Days to Christmas will be available as an eBook and a paperback from 11th October, so look out for it then!

""What if his proposal had an expiration date?"

Hannah’s in a bit of a pickle. In twelve days she flies from Hong Kong to the US with Sam, where he’s finally going to meet her parents… and ask to marry her.

Since overcoming a rather rocky patch in their relationship (which was totally his fault), he really is a new man, and they’re completely in love. The problem is, she feels panicky every time she contemplates matrimony. Which is perfectly normal, isn’t it? Isn’t it?! She has no idea but she’s got to find out before he pops the question... because she’s not 100% sure she’s going to say yes. Which will make for a very uncomfortable family holiday. He’s got to ask her before they go. So Operation Proposal begins. 

As time ticks down to their flight, Hannah realizes that her own secrets are threatening their future. Before she can be happy with Sam, she’s got a lot to learn about herself in the twelve days to Christmas."

You can buy The Twelve Days to Christmas as an eBook now.

13 September 2012

Book Review: The First Time I Saw Your Face by Hazel Osmond

"Jennifer had it all. Until a terrible accident took almost everything. When she moves back home, with her interfering ex right on the doorstep, the future doesn't look that bright. Until she meets Mack. Sexy, dishevelled and just a little clumsy, he starts to make her believe that she can move on from the past and embrace life all over again. But he has a secret he'd do anything to protect, and he's about to betray her to keep it. Will he realise what she means to him in time? And if he does, will she be able to love the real Mack?"

Rating: 4.5/5

Jennifer had her life planned out ahead of her - she wanted to be a successful actress and have a fantastic career. All seemed to be going well until she was involved in a terrible car accident that has left her scarred for life, and a mere shell of the person she used to be. Her cousin, famous Hollywood superstar Cressida wants Jennifer to come out of herself a bit more but doesn't know how to get there. When hunky Mack turns up in Jennifer's small town, she starts to feel things that she hasn't felt for a long time, and Mack seems like the perfect guy in so many ways. But there's something that Mack isn't telling the villagers, and if it comes out, it's going to cause more than a few ripples among the residents....

I read Osmond's debut novel Who's Afraid of Mr Wolfe? last year, and really enjoyed it. I liked her style of story-telling and the realistic characters she crafted, but when I read the synopsis for this book, I knew it was going to be something a bit darker and deeper than what I had previously read from this author. I have to say the cover was pretty eye-catching, with the dark colours contrasted with the bright pink of the title, and the photographic image being fairly striking too, considering a lot of women's fiction in the UK tends to stay away from photos on book covers, preferring to stick to cartoon style covers.

I found this book a really good read, and I ploughed through it was ease, even though it was a fairly sizeable novel. Osmond creates a brilliant cast of characters, based in a small village in Northumberland, and a tight knit community who love to protect their own. Osmond centres a lot of the action around a play that the local drama group is putting on, and this gives ample opportunity for her to introduce lots of characters, and it gives a great feel to the book, and unlike some books where I struggle to keep up with a big cast, I didn't find this too much of a problem here as they were all so different, and didn't detract from the main cast at all. Jennifer is perfectly written as the damaged (in many ways) young woman, and Osmond writes her humiliation, her embarrassment and her need to hide herself way so realistically, you feel incredibly sorry for her very quickly.

Clearly a lot of research has gone into this storyline, so many aspects of it are beautifully done by Osmond, from Jennifer's thoughts and feelings to the more medical side of it where things are being described and it's a moving read in this respect. I loved how the characters, such as Mack who meet Jennifer for the first time, are shocked by her face, and don't hide this, much how many people wouldn't in real life, and this made the book all the more convincing. I loved Mack's character, he was a real family man going through problems with his own mother, and I felt like he was between a rock and a hard place throughout this book. I really cared about both of the main characters, and was willing them both to have the happy ending they both really deserved.

This is a wonderfully written book by Osmond, and I highly recommend it to fans of her previous book, and also those who like something a bit more serious as well. Osmond handles the delicate topics within with ease, and gives us a cast of characters that you really care about and get into. The way Osmond tells the story from both Mack's and Jennifer's perspectives allows the reader to get glimpses into each of their lives and understand them more, and I found that the romance in the book was really well written as well, and really did fit the pace of the story perfectly without being too obvious and unnecessary. A very enjoyable read, and one that comes recommended by me.

You can buy The First Time I Saw Your Face as a paperback or an eBook now!

11 September 2012

eBook News: One Perfect Christmas by Paige Toon

Exciting news for fans of Paige Toon! Her sequel to her fabulous 2012 book One Perfect Summer is coming much sooner than anticipated! One Perfect Christmas is coming this November, and is going to be an eBook exclusive, and it'll also feature some 'sneak peek' chapters from Paige's 2013 book. I can't wait for this and to catch up with these characters again!

"Simon & Schuster UK are thrilled to announce an exclusive  eBook publication of  ONE PERFECT CHRISTMAS from  Sunday Times bestselling author Paige Toon. The short story,  which reprises characters from Toon’s bestseller  ONE  PERFECT SUMMER, came about as a direct result of reader demand.

Maxine Hitchcock, Fiction Editorial Director says: Paige has  been inundated with requests from fans wanting to know  what happened next to Alice and  Joe and so, despite  being partway through her next novel and up against a  deadline, she wrote it for them. Paige has always enjoyed  a very special relationship with her fans and this illustrates  just how much she listens to and respects them. She has been one of our  digital stars from the very start of the  eBook revolution and we are thrilled to see her sales grow  rapidly in both digital and print formats in a hugely competitive area of the market."

Taken from Simon and Schuster.

10 September 2012

Book News: Married by Christmas by Scarlett Bailey

Scarlett Bailey is back this October with another festive offering, and I can't wait! It may only be September, but already I've lined up lots of Christmas reads, and this one will be near the top of my pile. Married by Christmas is due out on October 25th, and I love the gold and red themed cover, very festive looking! I hope it'll be as good as Scarlett's debut novel The Night Before Christmas which was one of my favourite 2011 Xmas reads!

"All she wants is the perfect Christmas Eve wedding...

It's been on Anna's wish-list since she was a little girl, dreaming of a far happier family life than she'd ever experienced.

But now - only two weeks before her big day - her perfect husband-to-be drops a bombshell...

Only nothing's going to stop Anna's plans - not even the pesky inconvenience of discovering her groom already has a wife!"

You can pre-order Married by Christmas as a paperback now!

6 September 2012

Book Review: The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson

"Every love story has a dangerous twist. Tamia Challey 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 this 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..."

Rating: 5/5

Nothing gets me more excited in a list of book publications than a new Dorothy Koomson novel. I absolutely adore her books, the drama, the shocking twists and turns along the way, and the dramatic storylines that she effortlessly weaves between the pages. Dorothy has just moved publishers to Quercus, so this book has been a little while coming, but believe me when I say it's worth the wait. The Rose Petal Beach is a stunning novel of love, loss and betrayal and has an equally stunning cover to match, I love the muted tones and how they clash with the red of the rose petals. For fans of Dorothy's previous books, you will love this one, I guarantee it!

Tamia Challey thought that she had it all. She's happily married to husband Scott, and together they have 2 beautiful young daughters, a lovely home, 2 best friends, Beatrix and Mirabelle whom she loves dearly, and is happy. But all that changes when one evening, a police officer knocks on the door and arrests her husband. Scott seems to know what is coming, but Tamia doesn't and is shell-shocked. What follows is the undoing of Tamia's life as she knows it, with shock revelations and truths being uncovered that Tamia had no idea about. Will Tamia choose to fight for her marriage, or has too much damage been done to ever come back from?

It's sort of hard to review this book because I don't want to reveal too much of the storyline, as one of the best things about reading it is undiscovering the story as it slowly unfolds. Koomson manages the book by telling it through the present tense, with Tamia and Scott's story unfolding, and then moves back and forth  between the past and present, telling us the back story of Tamia and co, the back story of their lives and how they have ended up in the predicament that they are in. Many of the chapters are from Tamia's point of view, although we also get chapters from Beatrix, Tamia's best friend and Fleur, a character revealed later on in the book, and the mix of narrative worked well, and gives us different sides of the story too.

The story is based around one theme, which progresses and changes at the book goes on, but the driving force of the book is the emotion of the characters. Koomson manages to get into the heart of her characters and really display their feelings through her words, and also their actions. In particular, I felt she wrote Tamia amazingly well, the wronged wife struggling to keep life going as normally as she can, and I felt so sorry for her. The other characters, well you don't see things until they are revealed by Koomson and I loved that, it really keeps an air of suspense throughout the book as you seriously don't know what is happening, and I was left in shock when things came to a conclusion at the end of the book.

I would argue that this is probably my favourite of Koomson's novels to date. It has all of the ingredients to make a fantastic book, and Koomson makes them work well together to create a gripping and tense story that will leave you on the edge of your seat desperate to read more pages. It's a big old hardback book, and at over 400 pages, it's a long story but it makes full use of every page. I loved it, I loved the characters, the storyline, the mystery throughout, it's just a great book and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves high quality women's fiction. Koomson seems to get better and better with every book and this books reaffirms why she's one of the my favourite authors! Read it!

You can buy The Rose Petal Beach as a hardback or an eBook now.

eBook News: The Perfect Treat by Avon authors

Avon are offering up this fantastic treat to us all, and it's free!! It's a collection of short stories from some of their best authors, Miranda Dickinson, Claudia Carroll, and debut authors Mhairi McFarlane and Liz Trenow too. It sounds like a wonderful addition to any Kindle, and you can pre-order it for free right now, ready for delivery on 17th September when it's officially released!

"Heart-warming short stories for cold winter nights…

Featuring short stories from Sunday Times bestselling authors Miranda Dickinson and Claudia Carroll and highly anticipated debuts from Mhairi McFarlane and Liz Trenow, this collection is the ultimate treat.

Each short story is followed up by exclusive extracts of each of the authors upcoming titles.

Love, Loss and Coffee Cake: Through tears, heartbreak and the undying hope of love, a tale of a pair of star-crossed lovers.

It’s A Wonderful Life: A comedy that proves you should be very careful what you wish for.

Driving Home For Christmas: A touching tale about a newlyweds desperate to spend their first Christmas alone.

Breaking The Spell: A moving story about the power of hope and love.

The Twelve Lies of Christmas: A hilarious feature that offers up the truth about the festive season."

5 September 2012

Book Review: Killer Heels by Rebecca Chance

"From the boardroom to the bedroom, the catwalk to the kerbside...Starry-eyed ingenue Coco Raeburn is passionately ambitious. She will do anything - and anyone - to get her own editorship at a top fashion magazine. And her ruthless boss Victoria Glossop, editor at top UK fashion magazine Style, will do everything in her power to stop her...But Victoria has her own ambitions - she wants the top job at Style's US headquarters, and nothing will come between her and her dream. Uber-svengali Jacob Dupleix, media magnate, owner of Style, and one of the most powerful men in New York and London, is used to controlling all he sees. But when Victoria demands that he give her the US Style editorship, he gives in, little realizing that his empire could be about to fall apart. In New York, mentor and voice of calm in a storm, Mereille watches the shifts of power with detached amusement. If only they knew quite how much power she could wield if she had to..."

Rating: 4/5

I love Rebecca Chance's books - they're very naughty bonkbusters but lots of fun to read and I always find myself getting lost in the very glamourous and exciting worlds of her characters! Killer Heels, with it's bright pink cover featuring a studded stiletto, looked like it was going to be no different, and I was right! I'd actually go so far as to say this is Chance's naughtiest book yet, so do be warned - if rude bits in books aren't your thing, then you're probably going to want to shy away from this one! I thought the story in this book was fantastic, I was so keen to find out what was going on and who was going to get one up over who that I couldn't put it down until it was finished!

Coco Raeburn wants to be at the top of her game in the world of magazines, and will seemingly do anything to get there. She's changed immensely from the young girl she used to be when she started as Victoria Glossop's assistant back at Style magazine in the UK, and is determined to prove to her and Jacob Dupleix, Style's owner, that she has what it takes to be a magazine editor herself. But Victoria is determined not to be upstaged by her young protégé, despite issues in her personal life threatening to put a stop to her successful career. Then there's Style's French fashion director Mereille who is watching the battle between the two women with concern, wondering where it's going to leave her if the women do battle. How are things going to end between Victoria and Coco - will one woman triumph over the other?

I don't want to talk too much about the story of this book as I really enjoyed reading it as it progressed, and it's one of those where it will spoil it if you know too much! I will. however, talk about the characters because they are what I really liked about the book, and as usual Chance delivers a cast of powerful and strong women with a bit of a hidden something about them. Coco, a young woman with a deep determination proves herself to be indisposable to editor Victoria, but when the tables turn and she finds herself getting attention from powerful Jacob, she finds a new side to herself that she didn't realise she had, but will it be the right thing for Coco? Victoria is a career woman without a doubt, but is finding pressure from her husband to start a family hard to handle, especially as she wants to move back to America.

Both of these women were great to read about, and Chance writes the world of magazines so well! You can see why some of the editors get power crazy when people treat them like Victoria gets treated as Style, but I can't really fathom why women like Coco are willing to be treated like dirt just for a chance to work with them, but I suppose each to their own! The story is so interesting, as you're always wondering what is going to happen next for the women, and how things will go for them. There are glimpses of the present tense story, hinting at something between Coco and another character but we aren't told what, then it suddenly goes back to the past story again for a huge chunk, leaving us in suspense once more! I really like this style of story-telling by Chance as it allows you to get really involved in the story, and desperate to find out exactly what's going on - I was shocked when it was revealed I have to say!

I really enjoyed reading Killer Heels, although I did find the obsession with weight and being skinny a little hard to read about sometimes, as well as the relationship that Coco has which made me uncomfortable in parts, but it did all work well in the scope of the story. Chance is definitely back with a bang, and isn't shy at making those scenes quite shocking, perhaps the most shocking she's written so far. With a great cast, and a story that will have you gripped, Killer Heels is a must-read for fans of Chance's other books, and will transport you away from your normal day to day life as you get dragged into the world of Coco, Victoria and co! Magazines, designer names galore, powerful men and women - this book has it all and more... you won't want to miss it.

You can buy Killer Heels as a paperback or an eBook now!

Book News: Rescue Me by Rachel Gibson

Another book I am looking forward to later this year is the latest book from Rachel Gibson. Rescue Me has been pushed back from a July release date to the 6th of December, but maybe it'll make a nice change from all the Christmas and winter themed books I'll no doubt be reading at that time!

"Get ready to play some Texas Hold 'em.

Things are getting tricky for sexy Sadie Hollowell, about to be forced into a bubblegum-pink bridesmaid dress for her little cousin Tally Lynn's wedding. And if that ain't problem enough, the second she drives back into town, the entire population of Lovett, Texas will be fixing her up with the nearest available man - any man. She needs a rescue plan now. And good-looking stranger Vince Haven might just be the perfect 'date' she needs to get her family off her back.

But moody ex-Navy SEAL Vince Haven is only stopping by Lovett to visit his crazy Aunt Luraleen. 'No strings attached'is his motto, and he'll be damned if he acts as any woman's fake date! Sadie's out of luck again - but when Vince's aunt makes him an offer he can't refuse, he could be hanging around town for a while. And if Sadie gets that date after all, she might just get more than she bargained for!"

You can pre-order Rescue Me as a paperback or an eBook now!

4 September 2012

Author Interview: Tracey Garvis Graves

Today I am really pleased to be welcoming the lovely Tracey Garvis-Graves, author of the fabulous novel On The Island which I read and loved last month. It's a wonderful love story set on a desert island where the main characters Anna and T.J. end up after their plane crashes. Tracey was kind enough to answer some of my questions, so my thanks go to her for taking the time to answer them, and to Katie at Penguin for organising the interview.You can read my review of The Island here.

1. Please tell me about your book 'On The Island'.

On the Island is a story about a thirty-year-old teacher named Anna who has been hired to tutor sixteen-year-old cancer survivor T.J. Callahan. They were supposed to be spending the summer at the Callahan's vacation rental in the Maldives. Unfortunately, the plane Anna and T.J. are traveling on crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. They make it to the shore of an uninhabited island and wait for a rescue that never comes.

2. Where did you get your idea for the book, and what sort of research had to go into writing it?

I've always loved the desert island premise. I loved the movie Castaway but I'm not sure I ever fully bought the idea of Tom Hanks and the volleyball. I thought it would be a great challenge to put two people on an island - two people who really shouldn't be together - and then see what would happen.

I did a lot of research on dehydration, including finding out how long a person can stay alive without fresh water. I watched YouTube videos on how to make a fire using the bow and drill method (which is what T.J. used) and I remember feeling ecstatic when I discovered that breadfruit is high in Vitaman C (otherwise, T.J. and Anna really could have died of scurvy or some other illness caused by vitamin deficiency). I also read about malnutrition and how long it would take for it to cause problems even if you did technically have enough to eat.

3. The book has been wildly successful, receiving rave reviews from across the globe. How does it feel to have such a success with your debut novel, and why do you think it's been so successful?

It feels wonderful and I'm eternally grateful to my readers for embracing the story so wholeheartedly. I think part of On the Island's success stems from the fact that it's a feel-good book. The characters experience real hardship, but it's ultimately an uplifting story with likeable characters you can root for.

4. You wrote the book in the first person from both Anna and TJ's perspectives - how was it writing from the mind of two very different people, especially a teenage boy?!

It was really fun! Anna was easier to write, for obvious reasons, but T.J.'s chapters really allowed me to channel my inner teenager. The fact that it was a teenage boy made it even more appealing because I knew it would be a challenge. T.J. was younger than Anna and therefore his thoughts and actions were less censored than hers. He really did act from the heart.

5. Having Anna be a much older woman having an affair with young, experienced student T.J. is quite a controversial plotline - did you consider reversing the ages of these characters, and were you worried of any negative impact your storyline would have?

I never considered reversing the ages of the characters. The entire premise rested on the challenge of taking two characters who really shouldn't be together and creating a relationship that the reader would not only understand, but come to root for. I was very worried about how readers would react to the premise, but I hoped they would agree- once they read the book - that I handled the age difference in a sensitive manner; the premise was never meant to be salacious or to titillate. On the Island spans 8 years with the epilogue so T.J. is not sixteen for the whole book.

6. 'On The Island' was originally self-published by yourself after being rejected by literary agents, and has now been picked up by some huge publishing houses. How did it feel to finally sign those book deals, and what do you think made them finally realise what a gem the book is?

Being offered a publishing contract for On the Island was definitely a dream come true. In hindsight I was probably naive in thinking that a publisher would be interested in a book that had a somewhat risky storyline and didn't fit neatly into one single genre. I think the readers embracing the story showed publishers that there actually was a market for a different kind of love story.

7. Who are some of your own inspirations as an author, and what are your top three books of all time?

Stephen King - because he's a master storyteller (The Stand is one of my all-time favorite books). The other two are probably Anne Rice's The Witching Hour and Anne Rivers Siddon's The House Next Door.

8. You have an active Twitter account (@tgarvisgraves) - do you think social media is an important tool for new authors, and do you enjoy interacting with those who have read your book?

I do think it's important if it's used correctly. Social media allows authors to be very accessible to their readers which is a great thing. I love interacting with readers on Facebook and Twitter, and I've made some great friends. Using social media to spam people with a plea to buy your book is definitely not advised, though.

9. Are you working on another novel, and can you tell me anything about it?!

Yes, I'm currently writing a book called Covet. It's my first foray into upmarket women's fiction and it's a story about a married couple and the effects of the husband's job loss during the recession. It's both heartbreaking and hopeful. Have your Kleenex box handy.

Thanks so much, Tracey!

You can buy On The Island as a paperback or an eBook now!

Book News: The School Gates by Nicola May

Nicola May, one of the most successful self-published authors I know, is back this year with another brand new book, and it sounds right up my street. The School Gates is due out late September/early October and will be available from Amazon. I can't wait to read this one, and I am loving the cover too!

" At 3.10 pm every weekday, parents gather at Featherstone Primary to collect their children. For a special few, the friendships forged at the school gates will see them through lives filled with drama, secrets and sorrows.                   

When Yummy Mummy Alana reveals the identity of her love-child’s father, she doesn’t expect the consequences to be quite so extreme.  Ex Czech au pair Earth Mummy Dana finds happiness in her secret side-line, but really all she longs for is another child. Slummy Mummy Brenda’s wife-beating husband leads her down a path she never thought possible, and Super Mummy Joan has to cope when life deals her a devastating blow. And what of Gay Daddy Gordon? Will he be able to juggle parenthood and cope with his broken heart at the same time?          

Four very different mothers. One adorable dad. And the intertwining trials and tribulations that a year at the primary school gates brings. "

You can buy The School Gates as a kindle edition now, and the paperback is coming soon!

3 September 2012

eBook Review: The Darling Girls by Emma Burstall

"Three women in love with the same man meet for the first time at his funeral. Can they separate the truth from the lies – and learn to trust again?

When world famous music conductor Leo Bruck dies suddenly, he leaves behind three grieving women and a mass of unanswered questions.

Did the man who juggled these simultaneous relationships while thrilling audiences around the globe, direct The Darling Girls like an orchestra?"

Rating: 5/5

For some reason, I've not really been able to getting into reading books on my Kindle, I just prefer books that I can hold, I'm a bit old-fashioned like that! However, when I went on holiday a few weeks ago, I couldn't fit any of my books in my suitcase so I decided to take my Kindle with me and see if any of the books on there would tickle my fancy. Out in Majorca, I realised I had the new eBook from author Emma Burstall to read, and decided to give it a go as I had enjoyed her previous novels. I quickly found myself getting to it, and was gutted when my Kindle died a day before my holiday ended, so as soon as I got back, I found my charger and devoured the rest of the book, it was so good!

Leo Bruck was a famous music conductor until his sudden death at a performance, but Leo has left behind a trail of destruction that seems set to destroy the lives of those he held dearest to him. Leo's long-term partner Victoria, mother of his two children Ralph and Salome isn't naive and knows of Leo's past indiscretions throughout their relationship, but is devastated to find out how dearly he cared for his other women. She, in particular, hates Maddy, mother of Leo's other illegitimate child Phoebe, the woman she feels set out to take Leo from her. However, when young Cat, the complete antithesis of both Victoria and Maddy comes along, the two older women are surprised at who else Leo has fallen for. But Cat is devastated by the death of her lover, and is struggling to move on with her life. How will Leo's 'darling girls' ever get past his death, and will he play as well in death as he did in life?

Everything about this book was brilliant. Burstall has created a small yet powerful cast of characters which hook you in right from the beginning of the book, and have you wondering how things are going to end up for throughout the book, as there's no obvious happy ending for any of them! I have to say Cat was my favourite character, a troubled young woman struggling with issues with her father, and her mother's rapid decline, as well as the death of Leo. She was likeable because she was very realistic in her feelings and actions, and I could understand her reluctance in moving on romantically, and her struggle to find out who she really is. Her relationship with Victoria in particular was really interesting to me, and I found that Burstall really hit the nail on the head when she wrote those two characters, it was perfectly done.

Victoria and Maddy, Leo's other women are both just as devastated, Victoria most of all as she finds out more shocking secrets about the love of her life after his sudden death. Burstall writes Victoria's desperation and sorrow with ease, using Victoria's job as a counsellor to help her along the way. I love how Burstall wove in Victoria's love of cello playing throughout the novel, and how she used music to soothe, mentioning several classical pieces along the way, always with reference to Leo. Considering we never actually meet Leo in the book, he is so well created by Burstall that we feel we know him, and I disliked him very much for what he did, despite the excuses his lovers made for him. His back story, however, was an emotional one and I applaud Burstall for going for something completely different in this book, it was quite moving to read.

This eBook took me completely by surprise, and I'm thinking it's going to go on my list of top ten reads of 2012 with ease. Burstall creates a world for these characters that you can get lost in, and by following Victoria, Maddy and Cat in the year after Leo's death, we get to see the ups and downs of these womens lives, and experience their feelings along with them. Nothing is obvious in the book, I really couldn't see how it could all end nicely for them, and Burstall manages the story perfectly, keeping some of Leo's secrets back from us until we simply have to know what has been revealed, and we end up sympathising with each of the wronged women in different ways even though we know what Maddy and Cat was doing was wrong. It's an emotional and gripping read, and one I hope gets Burstall the coverage and recognition she fully deserves. Brilliant.

You can buy The Darling Girls as an eBook now!

Book News: A Winter Flame by Milly Johnson

The ever-lovely Milly Johnson is back next month with a fab new book A Winter Flame, and as usual I cannot wait to read it! The cover is gorgeous, so wintery and lovely, I do love that her covers are all continuing the same theme too! It's due out on October 25th, so not too long to wait now.

"'Tis the season to be jolly...But can Eve find happiness through the frost...? Eve has never liked Christmas, not since her beloved fiance was killed in action in Afghanistan on Christmas Day. So when her adored elderly aunt dies, the last thing she is expecting is to be left a theme park in her will. A theme park with a Christmas theme...And that's not the only catch. Her aunt's will stipulates that Eve must run the park with a mysterious partner, the exotically named Jacques Glace. Who is this Jacques, and why did Aunt Evelyn name him in her will? But Eve isn't going to back down from a challenge. She's determined to make a success of Winterworld, no matter what. Can she overcome her dislike of Christmas, and can Jacques melt her frozen heart at last...?"

You can pre-order A Winter Flame as a paperback or an eBook now!

1 September 2012

September 2012 releases

Not quite so many books being released this month, but still some really good ones to look forward to! The formidable Marian Keyes is back with another Walsh family novel, The Mystery of Mercy Close; the brilliant Jojo Moyes returns, as does Michelle Jackson, Ilana Fox, Tilly Bagshawe, and the lovely Rowan Coleman! Which releases are you most looking forward to?