31 October 2012

Book Review: A Merry Little Christmas by Julia Williams

"With four children, a Christmas cookbook to write, and her mum suffering from dementia, Cat Tinsall has plenty to juggle. When her eldest daughter, Mel, starts going off the rails, Cat has even more on her plate.

Pippa Holliday adores her family, although often finds her hands full. When Dan is involved in a terrible accident, Pippa’s world is suddenly turned upside down.

Balancing her job as a school teacher with twins and her step-son Steven isn’t easy for Marianne North. With her husband’s ex causing trouble, life is getting even trickier.

As Cat, Pippa and Marianne help each other through a difficult year, they’re all hoping for a much brighter Christmas."

Rating: 5/5

Yes, it's a review of another festive book! I am in love with the cover of Julia Williams' new book 'A Merry Little Christmas', it's absolutely gorgeous and certainly my favourite Christmas cover this year by a long way too. In real life, the title of the book is silver and sparkly which is fab, and the silver on the Christmas tree is sparkly too, very bling-tastic! I didn't actually realise until I started reading that it's a follow-on book from her last festive hit Last Christmas, a book I also thoroughly enjoyed! I quickly found myself back in the world of Hope Christmas, and completely engrossed in the fantastic story that Williams weaves!

Cat Tinsall loves her busy life as a mum, wife and successful TV chef and cookbook author too, but sometimes it's a bit too much to bear. She's struggling to get along with her eldest teenage daughter Mel, her mum is going downhill in her care home, and her husband Noel seems to be busy all the time too. Her best friend Marianne isn't having an easy time of it either - she's struggling to juggle being a mum to her young twins, and wife to Gabriel as well as running the family farm. Her step-son Stephen is also chasing his own dreams, and his mum isn't making things any easier for the North's. Finally, there's Pippa Holliday, married to farmer Dan and mum to her own children, including daughter Lucy who requires 24/7 care. Her world is turned upside-down when Dan has a horrible accident that threatens the future of their marriage and happiness together. With the festive season rapidly approaching, will the women be able to weave their Christmas magic and make a happily-ever-after for them all?

As I mentioned, if you've read Last Christmas you'll remember these characters from that novel. I have to say I love the fact that they all have festive themed names, from Tinsall as a surname to Gabriel the farmer too. It's a nice touch, and I imagine it took a bit of thinking to get as many in there as Williams possibly could! I wouldn't say this book carries on exactly where the other one left off, instead it rejoins the characters a couple of years down the line when things have settled down for them all, and certain changes have been made as well (I shan't explicitly spoil them!). There are quite a few characters in here to get the hang of, and a few of them had me confused for a little while, but once you get into it, it's easy to follow. I especially liked the inclusion of Cat's teenage daughter Mel, a character who ends up playing a big part in the book, and I really liked how her story unfolded, through the use of her Facebook status updates and her blog entries.

The other story I thought was really well-handled in this book was the one involving Pippa, Dan and their daughter Lucy. Lucy requires a lot of care, and Pippa and Dan rely heavily on the Sunshine Trust, a facility which provides respite for families who have disabled children, caring for the children so the parents and siblings can have a break. In the book, Pippa and Dan find out that their funding has been cut, and so ensues a fight to pressure the government into not cutting their funding. I thought the way this was written was touching and well done, and highlighted the importance of these facilities for those who need them. The relationship between Pippa, Dan and Lucy was beautifully done too and always left a smile on my face. Williams isn't afraid of making the path to happiness a tough one for the characters, and this book is no exception.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed every page, and as it built up to its festive climax with a few shocks in the way, it was a brilliant read that left with me with a wonderfully warm feeling inside, and a big smile on my face. While the majority of the book isn't actually set at Christmas, it doesn't seem to matter because the festive feeling soon approaches, and I found myself so involved in the story, I wasn't missing out on anything to tell you the truth! It enjoyed every page, it was very well written and the alternating chapters between the characters allows you to easily follow all of the stories, and the friendship between the characters shines through. I really hope that we'll get to meet the residents of Hope Christmas again and catch up with the next chapter in their lives, because it was fantastic to go back there and revisit them, and this part of their story was a joy to read. The perfect book for the winter months, one of my big Christmas read recommendations this year!

You can buy A Merry Little Christmas as a paperback or an eBook.

30 October 2012

Book News: Vets in Love by Cathy Woodman

The next title in Cathy Woodman's 'Vets' series is released next month, the 22nd of November to be precise! Vets in Love has a lovely wintery look to it, and sounds like a lovely story. I think I might give it a go even though I haven't read any of the other books in the series... let's hope it doesn't matter!

"Love is in the air in Talyton St George, Devon's most romantic town.

Glamorous GP Nicci (aka the galloping doctor), and Matt, the very handsome equine vet, have caught each other's eyes. On paper it looks like a match made in heaven.

There are problems, however: Matt's jealous ex-girlfriend being one of them. But the main trouble is Nicci's determination to qualify for the Badminton horse trials. Because although Matt treats horses for a living, a tragedy in his past makes him terrified every time Nicci competes.

So when Nicci has a terrible accident, a devastated Matt gives her an ultimatum: it's either him or the riding.

Nicci can't believe he means it. But can she risk putting him to the test?"

You can pre-order Vets in Love as a paperback or an eBook now!

29 October 2012

Book Review: A Winter Flame by Milly Johnson

'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...?"

Rating: 5/5

Milly Johnson is one of my favourite all time chick lit authors, and I have loved every single book she has written so far. I love when she releases a new one as it means I'm guaranteed a brilliant new book to enjoy, and when I found out that Milly's latest book was a Christmas release, I was even more pleased as I love festive books! I have to say the style of Milly's book covers are gorgeous, and the cover for A Winter Flame is beautiful, with shiny silver snowflakes really standing out against the pure white of the rest of the cover. I eagerly sat down with the book this weekend, and managed to devour the whole book this weekend... it's just fantastic!

Eve hates Christmas, and does her best to ignore the whole thing, preferring to spend the day itself at home on her own, pretending it isn't Christmas. Eve hates it so much because her fiancé Jonathan, a soldier at war in Afghanistan, was killed in action on Christmas Day, and now she can't bear to be happy. When a winter-themed fun park is left to her in her aunt's will, Eve thinks her worst nighmare has come true... especially when she finds out that half of the park has been left to a complete stranger, Jacques Glace. Can Eve make Winterworld a success for the sake of her Aunt, and will Jacques be able to help Eve mend her heart once and for all?

As well as being a festive themed book, Milly did something I really love when writing this book... bringing back characters from past books and updating us on them. An important character in this book is Violet and her boyfriend Pav, who you will remember originally meeting in her last book, White Wedding. It turns out she is related to Eve, and is a big part of the story, and I really enjoyed a familiar face in this book, and it was nice to read about the next stage of their story .We also find a mention of the other characters, Bel and Max too. Eve and Jacques are perfectly crafted characters for this book, and aptly named for the theme of the book too I must say! Eve is a very damaged character, haunted by the loss of her beloved fiancé and so shuts herself off emotionally from everything as a result. We can all see why she's damaged but at the same time, I wanted her to break out from that and show us a happier side once in a while!

The idea of WinterPark was fantastic, and Milly must have had such fun writing about it, and really getting creative with lots of winter and Christmas themed ideas! I wish there was such a place for us to really visit, because it certainly came fully to life in my head as I was reading, and sounded like the perfect place to go in this cold weather we're experiencing at theh moment! Even the smaller minor characters involved at the park, from Effin the foreman to Holly the reindeer, are all vitally important and put a smile on your face. It's actually the quieter more emotional scenes which really tug at your heart strings... one with Eve and Holly in particular is very touching, and reveals a lot more about Eve's character and her past with Jonathan. The relationship between her and Jacques was very readable too, and I enjoyed reading about the pair of them, especially Jacques who it seemed had more to him that meets the eye.

Johnson has created a book that will warm your heart on cold autumn and winter evenings, and is a complete joy from start to finish. With a cast of characters that you will really care about, and more importantly want to read about, A Winter Flame is an utterly charming book that you won't want to put down. Everything about it is wonderful, with WinterPark being the highlight of the whole thing, and the festive spirit shines through every single page. The military theme running through too is very current and relevant, and makes you realise how hard it is on those left behind when these brave soldiers go to war, especially when they sadly don't return. It's an emotional but thoroughly enjoyable novel that will leave a smile on your face, and with a warm, cosy feeling side. Milly Johnson at her best, an excellent read!

You can buy A Winter Flame as a paperback or an eBook now.

26 October 2012

eBook News: The Christmas Bake Off by Abby Clements

I loved Abby Clements' debut novel Meet Me Under the Mistletoe which I reviewed yesterday, so I was really chuffed to see that she also has an exclusive eBook coming out on 1st December! The Christmas Bake Off is a short story by Abby, and is free to pre-order on Amazon at the moment! I also love that cover, how gorgeous is that?!

"With Christmas just around the corner, the residents of Skipley village are gearing up for the annual bake off, and tensions are high. 

Winning means a lot to everyone involved - talented cake-shop owner Katie dreams of baking stardom, Rachel wants to prove she's more than a stay-at-home mum, and John hopes his culinary skills will impress the woman he loves. 

But when the judges discover that some cakes have been tampered with, the villagers' loyalties are called into question - whose ambition would stretch to sabotage, and why?

The Christmas Bake-Off is an exclusive short story from Abby Clements, author of Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. This ebook edition also includes bonus recipes for cinnamon cookies and vanilla and almond biscuits."

You can order The Christmas Bake Off as a free eBook now!

25 October 2012

Book Review: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Abby Clements

"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?"

Rating: 5/5

I started my festive reviews the other day with 'Married by Christmas' by Scarlett Bailey, which was a fantastic read, and I carry it on today with a very exciting debut novel! Abby Clements' new book Meet Me Under the Mistletoe has an absolutely stunning cover, so Christmassy and pretty, and it's a bit sparkly in real life too. After reading the blurb, it seemed like it would the perfect winter read to snuggle up under a blanket to read in the cold weather, and now I've finished it, it seems like I was definitely right! I always worry that Christmas-themed books aren't going to be set enough at Christmas, but Clements hasn't disappointed on that front either. I loved everything about this book, and can't wait for more from Abby Clements now!

Rachel and Laurie were the best of friends at high school, but as they grew up, they couldn't help but grow apart. Rachel got married young and started a family, and she's happy with her life in a home full of love and children, but in a sleepy, country village. Laurie, on the other hand, is living the life she always wanted in London, working in fashion. But when Laurie starts to make mistakes at work, she realises she has to take some time out. At the same time, Rachel's mother-in-law falls badly ill and Rachel is forced to go to London with her and the children to help her through it. Laurie and Rachel decide on a house-swap to make life easier, but are surprised to find out the reality of their former best friends lives. As Christmas draws ever closer, will the pair make it home in time for Christmas, and will they be happy with the lives they once had after their change of circumstances?

There was something about this book that drew me right in, and I was completely absorbed right from the beginning. I loved the cast of characters, and the way the book was told through alternate chapters was fantastic, and really allowed you to get totally involved in both stories without feeling like you're missing out on either of them. Rachel was the one I could relate to most of all - a busy mum trying to be everything at once, and feeling like you're failing at them all! I really liked her relationship with her mother-in-law, it seemed very close and natural, and in fact all of Rachel's relationships were fun to read about, especially the awkward one between her and her teenage daughter Milly. It was stilted and you as the reader know that they are hiding secrets, but are just waiting for it to all come out! In fact, the relationships with these supporting characters were almost just as important as the one between Rachel and Laurie, and I loved that about this book as it really gave it a rounded read.

Laurie took a little while to become someone I liked, simply because I found it harder to feel sorry for her. She was a little career-obsessed, not necessarily a bad thing but it came at the expense of someone she really cared about, and a few of those scenes really annoyed me if I'm honest! However, as the book progressed, she mellowed out a lot and it was nice to see her undergo a bit of a change of character as she settled into Rachel's life. Clements writes about the places through visitor's eyes beautifully, from the bustling festive streets of London that Rachel is totally unused to, and Laurie is shocked to the core by cold, quiet, idyllic Yorkshire where she doesn't see a new face from day to day. I found Clements' descriptions of Yorkshire were stunning, it sounds beautiful and the perfect place to spend the festive season! The residents of Laurie's new village were fantastic too, from crazy neighbour Diana to the ladies at the charity... all so realistic and made me smile a lot!

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is a wonderful read, and I truly didn't want it to end. It's light-hearted, it's fun and it made me smile - it's everything I wanted in a Christmas book, and I loved feeling Christmassy as the characters within began their own preparations for the build-up to Christmas, although in very different circumstances from what they'd all expected! It shows you how a change of scenery can do you the world of good, and that your priorities aren't always right, even though you think they are! I loved this book, and I hope Clements has a plethora of exciting Christmas novels to come because this is simply a brilliant debut. I loved it, and urge you all to buy it, either for yourself as an early Christmas present, or for someone you love at Christmas - they'll love YOU for it!

You can buy Meet Me Under the Mistletoe as a paperback or an eBook!

23 October 2012

Book Review: Little Sisters by Lucy Dawson

"In the dead of night, Kate receives a phone call. Police have recovered her sister Anya's clothes and personal belongings by the poolside of a remote hideaway in Mexico - a place she had no idea Anya would be. Anya was last seen getting into a vehicle with a local diving instructor but now he's missing too.

Their relationship has been complicated ever since a devastating tragedy blew their family apart, but Kate cannot believe Anya would willingly travel somewhere so isolated with a man she barely knows . . . would she?

In a race against time, Kate must fight to find her little sister before it's too late."

Rating: 4/5

This book has been a long time coming for me, it was originally slated for a 2011 release but for some reason was put back until October 2012, but now the release date for Lucy Dawson's latest novel Little Sister is finally here! The cover looks suitably spooky, although the flash of bright pink at the top reminds me that this is still a women's fiction novel. I do like the use of the ghostly young girls though, it's different from any other books that I've read so far this year anyway! Dawson always weaves an element of mystery, intrigue and suspense into her books, and I knew this one would be no different, and luckily she didn't let me down, it was a great read!

Kate is quite close to her little sister Anya, and always feels like she has to look out for her and be her protector, especially since their mum has moved to the US and their dad isn't a well man. So when Kate gets a phone call in the middle of the night from authorities in Mexico, she fears the worst about her little sister. She feels even worse when she realises Anya didn't even tell her she was going away. It turns out Anya was travelling with a man she met in Mexico and the pair have gone diving... but there is now no sign of him either. Can Kate convince the Mexican authorities to keep looking her sister, and are the sisters going to be able to make amends for what happened in their past before it's too late?

The book doesn't hold back in getting started, and I really enjoyed that Dawson takes us straight into the action. Rather than setting up a previous relationship between the sisters and revealing their past traumas all at once, they're told to us as memories from the sisters, and are slowly revealed throughout the book. This creates a bit of drama because we want to know more all the time, and are left hanging, waiting for the next part to be told to us. As the narrative chops and changes between the characters too, you end up feeling differently about them as each chapter ends, and I liked that because it kept the book fresh and less predictable than it might have otherwise been too.

The characters in the book are few and far between really, but in a story like this, it doesn't need a huge cast.   Obviously the main two are Kate and Anya, sisters and friends, but each dealing with their grief for their loss years ago that they simply can't get past. I somehow managaed to like Kate and feel frustrated by her at the same time - you could understand her desperation and fear perfectly well as I'd feel the same if it were my brother, but at the same time, Dawson made me feel frustrated at her actions, and I wanted to make her take a back seat a bit and listen to her husband for a bit! She dives in without thinking of the repercussions of her actions a bit too much, but the same can be said of little sister Anya too. She's a bit too flighty, and doesn't give much thought to her family when she's flying across the world. However, these female characters work so well together and are fun to read about. Will, Anya's best friend is one of the only males in the book and I really liked him, and felt terribly sorry for him and his unrequited feelings!

I really enjoyed reading Little Sister, especially the detail that Dawson puts into the book about cave diving in Mexico! It's clear she has really researched it because it reads so realistically and to be honest puts me off ever going to do something like that myself, sounds like hell on earth to me! It's a quite scary account of what can happen abroad too, and how lost and alone you can quickly become, leaving those at home desperately worried and scared, and Dawson puts these feelings across excellently well, writing Kate as a petrified, worry-ridden older sister, and Anya as the less-thoughtful and emotionally unstable little sibling, still struggling to overcome her guilt from years ago. It's a bit of a psychological thriller which will have you wanting more and more for every page you read, needing to know if Anya will come home alive, or if it's a sad ending. Dawson's excellent writing throws you into the thick of both sides of the action, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page.

You can buy Little Sister as a paperback or an eBook now.

Book News: Once More With Feeling by Megan Crane

Somehow this festive themed release has slipped past me... but no more! Megan Crane is back on 6th December with a brand new book called Once More With Feeling, and the cover is absolutely stunning, quite like Lucy Dillon's book covers from the past few years I think. The synopsis sounds great. and I am looking forward to reading the book! :)

"She's suffered the very worst of betrayals. 

And now Sarah's facing a divorce she never expected. 

With Christmas round the corner, what better time to re-evaluate her life? As she reconsiders every choice she's made, she starts to wonder if her life was so perfect after all. 

This winter, lose yourself in Sarah's world of unmade decisions, lost friends and old flames..."

You can pre-order Once More With Feeling as a paperback or an eBook now!

22 October 2012

Chick Lit Chloe's Awards 2012: Author of the Year - Reader Nominations

Today my Chick Lit Chloe's Awards 2012 get under way with a brand new category for this year... it's the Author of the Year 2012 Reader Vote! For 3 weeks, this poll will be open to blog visitors to nominate their Author of the Year 2012. You have 3 choices, and the only stipulation is that you nominate authors whose books you have read this year - that's it! Just type their names in the boxes below (your email address is there purely so I can check everyone is only voting once) and submit. Then they'll be archived into a spreadsheet so I can sort out the top ten most popular nominations who will then go into a vote to find the winner! Happy voting!

Book Review: Married by Christmas by Scarlett Bailey

"All she wants is 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!"

Rating: 4.5/5

I know it's only October, but the festive reads are now coming in thick and fast, and for me, this is permission enough to start reading and enjoying them! One such read I've really been looking forward to is Scarlett Bailey's second novel, and second festive novel, Married by Christmas. I loved the red and gold themed cover as soon as I saw it, and I was hopeful that it would be just as good as her first novel, The Night Before Christmas which was a fantastic read. The synopsis didn't give away a lot to me so I wasn't sure what to expect from it in terms of story, but I really loved what Bailey did with it!

Anna has wanted a Christmas Eve wedding ever since she was a little girl, and is thrilled to be marrying Tom and getting the wedding of her dreams at long last. Best friend Liv is helping her to prepare the wedding, and with Anna being the queen of lists and organisation, everything is dead on schedule and seemingly going to plan. However, when a few weeks before the wedding Tom drops a huge bombshell that throws the whole wedding into jeopardy, Anna goes into overdrive and decides she has to make things work, whatever it takes. Anna finds herself hopping on a plane to get across the other side of world to make everything right again, but doesn't plan on reuniting with an old acquaintance..

Straight away, I fell in love with the character of Anna. She's a damaged woman, destroyed by the action's of her mother in her early life, despite a then solid upbringing with best friend Liv and her family, who have treated her like their own since day one. I love her organisation and how committed she is to making the wedding run smoothly, and it makes it all the worse for her when things go wrong. While the synopsis tells us that Tom already has a wife, it doesn't tell us what happens after that, and it's certainly an adventure! Anna finds herself on a plane and halfway across the world, and I love things set in New York so this book was a joy for me to read, especially as it's near Christmas and it's somewhere I've been myself at that magical time of year. Tom was a character I just couldn't warm to - he seemed a bit too good to be true really and I wanted Anna to see through him a little bit before her big day!

I loved Bailey's writing of this book and find her narrative very easy to get into and enjoy reading. She writes in the third person which allows the book to flit between the main story, which is Anna in New York, and then Liv and Tom back in the UK, keeping going with the wedding plans. Although I could sense how the book was going to end up after a short while, I didn't mind because I wanted to find out what was going to happen to these characters and when, because I wasn't sure when things would start really happening for them all, especially Anna and Tom! Bailey writes about New York really well, you can picture it clearly in your mind, especially the luxurious suite in a posh hotel... lovely! I liked the message of this story too - that your past doesn't have to affect your future, and that genetics don't necessarily mean you are going to follow in past footsteps. Anna's constant fear of becoming her mother was very sad, but quite true I'm sure, and it certainly makes you grateful for having a far more stable upbringing.

My only little quibble in this book is that it wasn't as festive as I was hoping for it to be! Yes, it's set near Christmas and it's set in New York, but I would have liked a little more of the festiveness in my festive read, I'm a bit terrible like that! However, it's a wonderfully written and very enjoyable book that I devoured in a couple of days and always looked forward to picking up whenever I could! The cast of characters is fantastic, and I particularly loved Anna and Miles, they were so likeable, and I was really rooting for Miles to make his musical dream come true throughout the book! It's a lovely read that you'll want to put on your shelf and come back to year after year at the festive time of year, and Scarlett Bailey is quickly cementing herself as one of my new favourite authors! I loved Married by Christmas, it's certainly one to be reading this Christmas!

You can buy Married by Christmas as a paperback or an eBook - it's out on October 25th.

eBook News: One Perfect Christmas by Paige Toon

Paige Toon is back this November, and with a brand new short story eBook! It's a follow-on from her 2012 smash hit book One Perfect Summer, and is called One Perfect Christmas. It's due out on 8th November, and instead of a novel follow up, which so many readers requested, Paige has filled the void with this short story. I'll definitely be reading it to catch up with Alice and Joe again! :)

"One Perfect Christmas picks up with Alice and Joe one year on… He's a bigger star than ever, and Alice has managed to maintain her anonymity. But how long can that last? Will this be their first - and last - perfect Christmas? And where is Lukas?

Snuggle up in front of the fire to read this magical wintery short story about what happened next..."

You can pre-order One Perfect Christmas as an eBook now!

17 October 2012

Book News: Driving Home for Christmas by Emma Hannigan

Oooh another Christmas book! I am loving the cover for this one, it's so pretty and snowy. Emma Hannigan's Driving Home for Christmas is out on 18th October, and sounds like it will be a charming read over the winter months! I can't wait to read it.

"Christmas at Huntersbrook House is a family tradition and this year it's even more important as, with mounting debts and insufficient income from the livery yard, it looks like the Craig family might have to sell their beloved family home. 

Pippa, Joey and Lainey are the three grown up Craig children who, caught up with their own lives in Dublin, are, as yet, unaware of the problems facing Huntsersbrook. 

Joey is starting to wonder if his controlling, fitness-mad girlfriend really is the one for him. Lainey, the family worrier, is doing her best to ignore her ex's recent engagement while also trying to look out for her sister Pippa whose frivolous lifestyle is about to catch up with her. 

As the Christmas season approaches, the Craig family need to do some soul-searching and what better place than around the fire at Huntersbrook House. 

One thing's for sure, this is a Christmas none of them will forget. But will it be their last at Huntersbrook or will they manage to save the family home? "

You can buy Driving Home for Christmas as a paperback now.

16 October 2012

Book Review: Shopping With The Enemy by Carmen Reid

"The opponents : mothers vs. daughters

The battle scene : a boutique changing room

Fashion-guru Annie’s well-dressed world is falling apart – first she’s lost her legendary sense of style, and now her daughter Lana seems to have become her worst enemy. Even her multi-millionairess friend, Svetlana, is having daughter trouble – she’s at war with Elena over their business in New York.

A trip to a luxurious Italian spa seems like the perfect way to forget her problems. But celery juice and Pilates can’t solve the disasters that are about to strike . . .

Will Annie rescue her passion for fashion?

And can mothers and daughters ever truly be friends?"

Rating: 3.5/5

I love a good book series, so when I found out Carmen Reid was writing a 6th book in her Annie Valentine series, I was really pleased and looking forward to catching up with Annie and co, and finding out what they are up to now! I've read all 5 books up until this one, but as usual, you don't have to have read the previous novels to read this one, although it of course helps to know the back story when you're reading. I have to be honest and say that I didn't like the cover for this one - it looked a bit cheap and like the publishers hadn't put a huge amount of effort into it either. I couldn't work out initially who the two women on the front were meant to be either. Now I've finished it, I can safely say I enjoyed the book, but am still not sold on that cover!

Annie feels like she's losing her fashion mojo. She doesn't 'get' any of the fashion on the catwalks or in the shops - it's like she's rewound back to when she was younger and she doesn't know what to do with it. For someone who presents a fashion show, this isn't a good thing. Annie's daughter Lana now lives and work in New York, working with Elena, her colleague at Perfect Dress, their new company which is doing reasonably well. However, when Annie's billionaire friend Svetlana offers Annie the opportunity for some much needed R&R at an Italian spa, Annie jumps at the chance. But as usual, things with Svetlana never quite go to plan and Annie's peaceful break is quickly shattered. Will she be able to help her friend in her hour of need, and save her failing relationship with her daughter before it's too late?!

I was wondering where Reid would be able to go with these characters, as I felt a lot had happened to Annie and her family in the previous 5 books, and whether any further stories starring them would be realistic enough to be believable, or not. I was surprised that the main story of this book didn't really involve fashion at all, and was actually based around Svetlana, not Annie herself. The more secondary storyline with Annie's daughter Lana and their company Perfect Dress was more enjoyable, and I liked reading about the younger members of the cast, and seeing the fire the girls had in their bellies about their product and fashion. Annie seemed a little bit tired and old in this book, and I felt like she wasn't at all the same person we had in the earlier books which was a shame. I didn't like Svetlana much either, she's a bit too much for me and I don't like her attitude and how she treats Annie.

I don't want to spoil much of the storyline for you, but the plot with Annie and Svetlana wasn't something at all I expected to find within the pages of this book. It was quite to fun to read about, completely mad because of the people involved but Reid did manage to touch on Svetlana's desperation very well, and it was a well written storyline. I enjoyed the travel across Europe, it certainly made a change, but I also loved the scenes in New York too, from Lana and Elena's small Fifth Avenue office to the clubs they visit and the other things they get up to. It's certainly an international book, and there's always something going on to keep the reader entertained. If I'm honest though, it isn't my favourite of the Annie Valentine series, there just seemed something missing for me.

Overall, this was a good read that I was happy to pick up and enjoy to pass the time, but as I said it wasn't my favourite of the series by a long shot. It moves quite a way away from fashion in the book, mainly staying linked through Lana rather than Annie, and I missed the old Annie, she seemed to have lost some of her sparkle within this book which was a pity. I do wonder if this book spells the end for Annie and co, I wonder how much further they can go as a series, and if so, this would be a good final book for Annie. Shopping With The Enemy is a book you'll want to read if you've read the rest of the series simply to find out what's happening next, but if you haven't, it's an enjoyable light-hearted read.

You can buy Shopping with the Enemy as a paperback or an eBook now!

15 October 2012

Cover Face Off: The Charm Bracelet by Melissa Hill


I do love a Christmassy remake for a book cover so I am really in love with the new look for Melissa Hill's latest book The Charm Bracelet! I reviewed the book back when it was released in May, but I have to say I think the cover for the October paperback release for the book (left) is so gorgeous! The red and white work perfectly with the silver bracelet, and I think it'd make a fantastic stocking filler for anyone who loves Melissa's books! It's out in paperback format on October 25th :)

12 October 2012

Book Review: The School Gates by Nicola May

"At 3.10pm every weekday, parents gather at Featherstone Primary in Denbury 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 sideline, but really all she longs for is another child. Slummy Mummy Mo's wife-beating husband leads her down a path she never thought possible, and Supper 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"

Rating: 4/5

Nicola May is one of the few self-published authors I choose to read, and there's a reason for that. Nicola is constantly striving for publicity, for the best look for her books and to get her work out there as well. I love that Nicola's covers are very professional too and don't look like they've been done using a hideous amount of clip art, which I have seen before and trust me, these look like books you'd expect to come from a big publishing house name. This is the third of Nicola's books I have to read, with both of her previous novels being very enjoyable, so I was hoping for another book I could get stuck into and really enjoy, and luckily Nicola certainly delivered on that front once again.

The book is about a cast of parents whose children all happen to attend the same school, and what goes on in their lives. It's quite a big cast of characters within the book, and I have to say at first I did find the amount of them a little over-whelming and hard to keep track of, especially as the story flits so quickly back and forth between them all. There's Alana, single mum to daughter Eliska who is hiding a big secret about the father of her daughter, and is scared that it's going to get out and make her life worse. Ex Czech au pair Dana thought she'd found her prince, but her marriage isn't all it's cracked up to be and she's struggling to find happiness. Gordon has a broken heart but is daddy to young twin girls and has to juggle a busy career with raising his girls, and finally there's Joan and Mo, 2 down-trodden mums who are dealing with the trials and tribulations of life as a mum and a wife, but with secrets going on behind closed doors.

As you can see just from that list, there's quite a few characters to be going on with. May starts by introducing us to each of the characters in turn with a short chapter, allowing us to get to know a bit more about them and their story, but the introductions are quite short and after a while, I kept muddling a few of the characters up and forgetting which storyline belonged to who. After a little bit of flicking back and forth, I got the hang of them and found it quite easy after that, and enjoyed the ways which May managed to weave them altogether, even though you wouldn't expect some of them to be socialising with each other due to their circumstances and preconceptions about each other!

May covers some quite serious issues in the book, from death and consequent adoption of children, to single parenthood, IVF, miscarriage and domestic abuse amongst others, yet I didn't find the book hard to read at all. In fact, I loved that it got stuck in with these areas, and it was made all the more realistic because you could really believe these characters were going through these things, and as we all do, hide the pain at the school gates and plaster a smile on our face. I particularly felt for Dana and Mo in the book, two women who were once happy but through various ways find themselves in terrible positions, and your heart really goes out to them. I do have to say May writes the scenes with children especially well too, so often I've read books with children where I think the author hasn't got a clue about how children speak or react yet I was really impressed with May's efforts in this book.

I really enjoyed The School Gates and found it to be a very entertaining read that doesn't shy away from the more serious side of life behind closed doors of the parents involved. I have to say I was pleased that that the bad language I've encountered in Nicola's previous books wasn't really there this time around, and was no more the worse for it (unless she had my copy specially doctored haha!!). With a cast of likeable and realistic characters, the book takes you on a journey along with these people battling their woes and sadnesses, and also smiling a fair bit too. May carries all of these characters easily, balancing the storylines and keeping her narrative voice in the third person which worked so well for the multiple people involved in the story. Do pick up a copy of The School Gates, you won't be left disappointed.

You can buy The School Gates as a paperback or an eBook now.

Author Article: Nicola May

Author Nicola May is back with her brand new book The School Gates, a fun and sometimes emotional read about a group of parents whose children all attend the same school. I really enjoyed the book, and Nicola kindly wrote me an article to post, and I'll be reviewing the book later this afternoon! Enjoy, and my thanks go to Nicola for writing the article.

The School Gates by Nicola May

I have to say despite some of the tricky subject matter I thoroughly enjoyed writing The School Gates. In fact I wrote it in a record time of under two months.

This was mainly because I was at home recovering from a hysterectomy - sad times for me but necessary for my good health so I had no option. I wouldn’t say I’d recommend having the op; however, writing in bed for six hours a day without any distraction was a gift for a butterfly-minded creative type like me!

Chloe will tell you all about the book so I won’t bore you again with the detail. But, I hope that not only have I have retained my trademark humour, but for anyone who has been through the trauma of IVF and losing babies, pray you get some peace from my first first-hand account of this subject.

I also hope than anyone suffering from domestic abuse will see that there is a light at the end of every tunnel.

And, despite having no children of my own, I hope I have accessed correctly the difficulties and love that parenthood brings.

I sometimes maybe veer off the subscribed chick-lit path of having to create happy endings for all. I view my writing as chick-lit with a kick! Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’d rather touch on real life and emotions and say it how it is.

I must be doing something right though, as Scott Pack from Harper Collins has put me as a One to Watch on his blog this week saying ... One of the best chick-lit writers I've read (and I must admit I have read a few). I went all tingly when I read that.

So, I finish saying I really hope you enjoy The School Gates. If you read it and like it a review is always like gold to a self-published author. You can reach me though my website and I respond to every email I receive. www.nicolamay.com. Happy Reading!

9 October 2012

Book Review: One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern

"Journalist Kitty Logan’s career has been destroyed by scandal, and she now faces losing the woman who guided her and taught her everything she knew. At her mentor’s bedside, Kitty asks her – what is the one story she always wanted to write?

The answer lies in a file buried in Constance’s office: a list of one hundred names. There is no synopsis, no explanation, nothing else to explain what the story is or who these people are. The list is simply a mystery.

But before Kitty can talk to her friend, it is too late.

With everything to prove, Kitty is assigned the most important task of her life – to write the story her mentor never had the opportunity to. Kitty has to not only track down and meet the people on the list, but find out what connects them. And, in the process of hearing ordinary people’s stories, she uncovers Constance’s – and starts to understand her own…"

Rating: 3.5/5

I'll start this off by saying I am a bit hit and miss with Cecelia Ahern books - there have been a few that I have liked, but others that I just haven't gotten at all, and I've found some of them a bit of a struggle to get on with. I don't necessarily like magical books, and this is something Ahern does a lot in her novels. I wasn't sure whether this was going to be another magic book, or if it was going to be a 'normal' story but I have to admitted I was curious about the concept and wondered where the author could take it, and how exactly these one hundred names were going to be linked together! One thing I do have to mention is the cover - once again Ahern's publishers have gone for something fairly simple but it's gorgeous, and I love it, the silver, purple and white works so well, it's beautiful.

Kitty Logan is the main character of the book, a journalist whose career is in tatters after writing a story that was proven to be false, and ruining someone's life because of it. From the sound of this, it doesn't sound like Kitty is someone who we are supposed to be sympathetic to, but Ahern seems to write her to be a naive young journalist who went after the story for her big break, encouraged by those higher up the chain than her and then vilified when it all went wrong. I liked Kitty, she was very honest, and clearly devastated over the death of her close friend and editor Constance. Kitty is clearly ashamed of what she did, and I found her reactions seemed pretty realistic, wanting to separate herself from what she did whilst living with the guilt of it.

The whole idea of the one hundred names in the book was strange to me, and I was curious to find out what link these names had, and how Kitty was going to be able to find out the link of so many people in such a short period of time given in the book. In fact, this storyline doesn't seem to go much past the 6 or so characters involved in this in the book and when things are finally 'resolved' or sussed out by Kitty, I couldn't help but think we'd been left with more questions than answers. I felt a little bit like it had still been left up in the air, and nothing had been fully settled, and if I'm honest, I felt a big disappointed by the lack of definite answers given by Ahern. I kept waiting for this big shocking moment where everything would fall into place, but it just didn't happen and by the end, I have to be honest and say it did hamper my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

It is a touching book, and the individual stories within that Kitty manages to touch upon are very written and thought out, and certainly make the reader think about their own life, and how your actions can and do impact upon the people around you, but there wasn't the ending that I was hoping for. There didn't seem to me to be any magic in this book, and it was all the better for it, but it isn't anywhere near the best book I've read this year. In fact, I wonder if it didn't have Ahern's name attached to it if it would do as well as it undoubtedly will do, as parts of it felt very ordinary and it lacked direction in some parts. I found it quite uplifting in parts, especially those involving some of those on the list of one hundred names, and it was well written, with Kitty being a good, strong leading female character but it didn't blow me away and I wish things were left with a more definite ending than the somewhat indecisive finish we were left with!

You can buy One Hundred Names as a hardback or an eBook now.

eBook News: Santa Maybe by Scarlett Bailey

While Scarlett Bailey is back with her new book Married by Christmas at the end of this month (25th October), her new eBook only story Santa Maybe is out now! I love the festive cover and it'll be a good stop-gap between now and the release date of the new book! :)

You can buy Santa Maybe as an eBook now.

"Amy Tucker is single. So single in fact she hasn’t had a man in her room for three years and her idea of a good time is buying new kitchenware at Ikea. So when she wakes up on Christmas Eve to find a strange man at the end of her bed, she is more than surprised.

Least of all, when the beautiful man claims to be Santa and has sexy stubble to rival George Clooney.

Santa whisks Amy on an exciting and unforgettable journey around the world through time and space. But can he really make Amy's Christmas dreams come true?"

5 October 2012

Book Review: Lifesaving for Beginners by Ciara Geraghty

"Kat Kavanagh is not in love. She has lots of friends, an ordinary job, and she never ever thinks about her past.

This is Kat's story. None of it is true.

Milo McIntyre loves his mam, the peanut-butter-and-banana muffins at the Funky Banana café, and the lifesaving class he does after school. He never thinks about his future, until the day it changes forever.

This is Milo's story. All of it is true.

And then there is the other story. The one with a twist of fate which somehow brings together a boy from Brighton and a woman in Dublin, and uncovers the truth once and for all. 

This is the story that's just about to begin . . ."

Rating: 4/5

I really did enjoy this book, and more than I expected to. I found Ciara's last book, Finding Mr Flood to be a little hard-going at times and felt, to me anyway, a bit too long but I really wanted to give it a go, especially after I had read some early reviews online saying it was fantastic. I thought the cover was really unusual too, the burst of colour really cheering up an otherwise quite bland picture. Luckily, the book ended up being much more my cup of tea, and I really enjoyed the double narrator which I had slight reservations about, but in the end, it seemed to work perfectly for this book, and I was speeding my way through the pages, desperate to find out what was going to happen.

It's a very emotional and feeling-driven book, and this is where the narrator use comes in well. Milo, the young boy who narrates half of the book, is very honest and true in everything that he says, as most children are, and does not hold back on his emotions, his feelings and how situations make him feel. This makes it easy for an adult reader to understand him, but it is, as I say, very emotional especially when he's discussing his mother. Geraghty has tapped perfectly into the mind of this young boy, and it contrasts so well with the older, more mature narrator of Kat, who is suffering her own problems at this time. I did find that Milo made me less sympathetic to Kat, that he was going through more than her and she seemed selfish in comparison to me, but that is the clever thing with these narrators, they bounce off each other and evoke real feeling in the reader. Faith was another of my favourite characters, and I couldn't help but feel desperately sorry for this lost and bereft teenage girl who has been forced to grow up very quickly.

Geraghty's narrative descriptions for both characters are so incredibly vivid. From the café where Milo's mum worked, to the Irish landscape he and sister Faith see, even to his best friend Damo from school who we barely meet ourselves in the book - each of these are easy to imagine so clearly in your mind because Geraghty pays such attention to detail they almost jump out at you from the page. It is the same for the characters. Due to the fact you are in their heads for the duration of the book, you imagine them so clearly and almost experience things with them, from the good to the bad, and this adds to the emotion of the read. I also enjoyed how Geraghty slowly unwound the story as the book progressed, things become clearer as you progress and I found how she drew the threads of the separate stories very clever and I hadn't guessed the developments at all.

Lifesaving for Beginners is a very unusual read. It isn't often we find a child narrator in women's fiction, but it works so well in this book, simply due to the fact Geraghty writes Milo so beautifully. Everything comes together to become a very emotive story, and covers some tough topics - death, depression, adoption amongst others. In fact, one of my favourite parts of the book was involving Kat and her brother - it was fantastically written and you can feel Kat's frustration at people's reaction to her beloved brother come through so clearly. It isn't all sadness and tears though, there are parts that will have you smiling and laughing, and it's this that keeps you reading and keeps you hooked - you don't know where it's going to go next. Kat and Milo couldn't be more different, but the way they are drawn together is both shocking and suprising - you have to read this book to find out more about them, and why both characters had me enthralled. A really deep and emotional read, this one won't disappoint.

You can buy Lifesaving for Beginners as a hardback or an eBook now!

Giveaway: Win a copy of Lifesaving for Beginners by Ciara Geraghty

Thanks to publishers Hodder & Stoughton, I have a copy of Ciara Geraghty's brilliant new book Lifesaving for Beginners to give away to one of my readers! It's a fabulous read, and the lucky winner will receive a paperback copy of the book. It's open to UK residents only, and closes on Friday 12th October at midnight. One entry per household only, and good luck!! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

3 October 2012

Book Review: All That Glitters by Ilana Fox

"Ella Aldridge seems to have it all. Married to Danny Riding, one of the Premiership's leading goal-scorers, she lives the dream - the mansion, the car, the freebie designer clothes. But Ella and Danny have a secret. Their marriage is not what is seems. Between them, it takes a lot of hard work to fool the press and the nation that they really are Love's Young Dream, when deep down Danny's desires lie elsewhere.

With Ella's star in the ascendant, the world is at her feet - a TV show, a fashion column. But then she meets Johnny Cooper, the bad boy of British television. He's ruthlessly charming and sexy, and he can see through Ella's sham of a marriage in a heartbeat. Drawn into a risky, high-octane affair, Ella suddenly realises how much she has to lose and how quickly it can be taken from her..."

Rating: 5/5

I was really pleased to get a copy of Ilana Fox's new book All That Glitters because I have really enjoyed her previous two novels that I've read. I have to say the cover for All That Glitters is absolutely gorgeous, purple is my favourite colour and the gold glitter all over the front works really well! If I remember rightly, this book was originally called 'Prince Charming' and I'm glad the title was changed, this one sounds so much better! When I read that it was about a WAG, I was a little worried as that really isn't my sort of thing to read about at all, but I put my faith in Ilana's writing and I was right to do so... it was a fantastic read!

Ella Aldridge landed on her feet when she married footballer Danny Riding. Many of the club's fans have accepted her into the fold, and Ella is slowly trying to make friends with her fellow WAGs, although a small part of feel like she doesn't quite fit in. However, Ella and Danny are both hiding a big secret that threatens to ruin everything they've built up together. When Ella meets television presenter Johnny Cooper, she feels a spark between them that she can't ignore, and is totally unsure what to do. When things suddenly start falling apart for Ella, she is struck by how much she values her life, and how she's going to get herself out of this big dilemma...

I really did love this book. It's an easy to read, and enjoyable story that I found myself whizzing through really quickly. It had a cast of very likeable characters and it all comes together to create a great story that I thoroughly loved reading. Ella is the perfect heroine for the book. I had fully expected to dislike her because she's a WAG but when you read the book, you realise she's not a stereotypical WAG at all, in fact quite the opposite and I loved her, there is nothing to dislike, even when she starts having feelings for bad boy Johnny! We've all been there and had feelings for the bad boy, the one we know isn't good for us but can't quite help ourselves from going there anyway! What Ella does isn't right but somehow I didn't hold it against her, and felt sorry for her as the story progressed. She's a very realistic character and I loved her.

The secret that Danny and Ella have together wasn't something I guessed, and I'm pleased that Fox has chosen something like this within this book - it's an important thing to cover, and I liked how it progressed as the book went on, and I liked the resolution of it. I found Danny to be extremely likeable as well, doing what he does for the right reasons (for him) and I felt sorry for him actually. I loved how Fox described the lavish lifestyles of the Ridings, from the house to the cars and the lovely designer wardrobe that Ella possesses - lots of names are dropped here but it's not over-the-top and works well in the theme of the book so didn't bother me whereas normally I'd hate it! I wasn't sure how it would all end up for Ella and Danny and Fox leaves you in doubt for a little while as to whether they'll all get a happy-ever-after which I loved!

This was a great read, and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every page. Fox's writing takes us smoothly through the book, it moves at a really good pace that keeps you entertained and wanting more, and has some great characters who you'll love (or love to hate in a few cases!). It's thoroughly entertaining, I loved the fact that it was set in the world of WAGs but not perhaps how we would envision it as things become revealed between the pair that sets them apart from the other football couples! It does highlight the more negative parts of the lifestyle that we've all come to know about WAGs, and knowing Fox's past in working on national newspapers, you can't help but wonder if some of these characters are based on real people, and therefore who they are based on...! A great read that makes me excited to read more from Ilana Fox.

You can buy All That Glitters as a paperback or an eBook now.

Book News: All I Want For Christmas by Poolbeg authors

Yay, another Christmas read! This time, it's the turn of Poolbeg's authors to release a Christmas short story collection entitled All I Want For Christmas with a portion of the proceeds going to children's charity Barnardos. It features stories from authors including Claire Allan, Michelle Jackson, Shirley Benton, Claudia Carroll, Fiona Cassidy, Carol Coffey, Emma Hannigan, Emma Heatherington, Marisa Mackle, Pauline Lawless and more! I think it's a great idea, and I look forward to reading it.. especially with a cover that gorgeous!

"All I Want for Christmas is a collection of heart warming short stories written by some of Ireland’s bestselling authors, all of whom are donating their royalties to Barnardos.

Some of Ireland’s top women fiction writers come together in this collection of humourous, witty, sad, charming and poignant stories to ensure there is a great read for everyone. It is a super stocking filler, Christmas present, Kris Kindle idea or a treat for you.

Poolbeg Publisher Paula Campbell said, “obviously reading is very close to our heart and helping Barnardos with their children’s literacy programme is a great honour for us. Many of our authors including Claire Allen, Linda Kavanagh and Rosemary McLoughlin amongst others have contributed a short story to make this the perfect read leading up to Christmas and we are proud to work with them and them and Barnardos to help change the lives of children all over Ireland."

You can buy All I Want For Christmas as a paperback now.

1 October 2012

Book Review: Friends and Rivals by Tilly Bagshawe

"Kat fears she is past her prime. Her philandering husband, Ivan, who she still loves passionately after twenty years of marriage, leaves her for a younger woman. Devastated, there is only one person left who Kat trusts.

Kendall is sure she has it all. But underneath her tough exterior she hides a vulnerability – she is helplessly struggling with an unrequited love. But when Kendall’s need for success consumes her, she won’t let anyone stand in her way.

Ava is an innocent, plucked from obscurity and thrown into the deep-end of the glamorous world of fame. When she is pitted against Kendall, the world watches closely, wondering who will survive.

As these three women try to navigate a backstabbing world of infamy, desire and fortune, will they be tempted to betray the people they hold dearest?"

Rating: 5/5

I love Tilly Bagshawe's books. End of. I don't think the woman can do any wrong in my eyes, I just get lost in her books and I really love reading them and never want them to end! Her latest books, Friends and Rivals, landed on my doormat a few weeks ago and I couldn't wait to start it, even though I have to admit I really wasn't keen on the cover at first, it seemed so bland, especially when you compare them to some of her older, bolder covers. As ever though, the book blurb seemed like it was going to be a great read, although I will say right now it is less "bonkbust-ery" than her past novels, although the novel wasn't lacking at all because of that, in fact it allowed the story to be more in depth and I really loved this one, maybe to the extent I'd say it was my favourite Tilly read so far!

I loved the characters in this book - they were all completely needed for the story, there were no surplus characters I didn't care about and the whole thing was just a brilliantly crafted read. I can't quite put my finger on who the main character was because I think it's an ensemble book, with the two female characters perhaps nudging out the males in terms of importance. Catriona, or Kat, thought she was happily married to Ivan, a music producer, and the pair have a gorgeous house, and 2 children too. She's learnt to ignore the whisperings about Ivan's lack of fidelity and buries her head in the sand, happy to look after their family home. So when Ivan leaves her, she's devastated and doesn't know which way to turn, letting her fly by on a downward spiral. I loved Kat, and I could sympathise with her so much, she's not at all naive and is devastated by her husband, and you cannot help but feel sorry for her.

Kendall on the other hand... I started out really disliking her but as the book progressed, I felt sorry for her and thought although that she did things for the wrong reasons, there was something very fragile about her and I really wanted her to be happy in the end. The way Bagshawe handles two very different female characters so easily says a lot, and I really liked reading about both as the book went on. The males in the book, well, Ivan was horrible, a man clearly only doing what was best for him and his career was destestable, exactly as he should have been, and there's his anthithesis, Jack, Ivan's business partner and best friend of many years, the perhaps anti-hero of the book, and the only male in the book I liked! However, the whole cast of characters, including Jack's photographer friend Lex, are fantastic and really make the book worth reading.

I really enjoyed that the book was set in the music business, and it's clear that Bagshawe has done her research about what goes on behind the scenes of the corporate music world. I also really enjoyed how it flitted between both America and the UK, and Bagshawe balanced both of these storylines equally well, and they really came alive in my mind, and made it all the more fun to read. There was nothing about this book I didn't like, the storyline was completely compulsive and each time I picked the book up, I was transported back into the music world of Kat, Kendall and co. and didn't want to leave them behind! Bagshawe has triumphed again with this book and I really loved every page - it's dramatic, it's fun, it's exciting and it's a fantastic read that you shouldn't miss. Things such as name-dropping throughout the book added a realistic edge to it, and I wish I could be a part of their world, even just for a day! A fab book you mustn't miss. Out now.

You can buy Friends and Rivals as a paperback or an eBook now!

Christmas comes early...

I have no idea how, but somehow it's already October! This means that some of my favourite books of the whole year are coming out.... Christmas books! I don't care who writes them, or really what they're about, I just love Christmas books. All of them. And I love the covers more than anything! Luckily for me, 2012 is no different and we have a wonderful selection of festive reads due beginning later this month! Which of these are you most looking forward to?! You can't help but notice that blue is definitely "in" this Christmas!