28 March 2013

Book Review: Losing It by Cora Carmack

"Love.Romance. Sex. There's a first time for everything...

As far as Bliss Edwards can tell, she's the last virgin standing, certainly amongst her friends. And she's determined to deal with the 'problem' as quickly and simply as possible.

But her plan for a no-strings one night stand turns out to be anything but simple. Especially when she arrives for her first class and recognises her hot new British professor.

She'd left him naked in her bed just 8 hours earlier..."

Rating: 4/5

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

I'll admit I was a bit skeptical about the whole 'New Adult' genre before I read this book. I thought it was aimed at teenagers who perhaps wanted something a bit, well, ruder than what would normally be aimed at them, but I think I got it wrong. It seems to be aimed at those people just venturing into adulthood, wanting something a bit more mature from their writing, and my first venture into this was Cora Carmack's debut novel Losing It. I have to admit I wasn't sold on the cover but decided that the story sounded too good to pass up, and so I got eagerly stuck in hoping for the best!

Bliss Edwards is a virgin, and it's a fact she's quite keen to hide. Her best friend is determined to find her man to do the deed with, but Bliss is sure she doesn't want to do it with just anyone. When she's out clubbing one night and meets a handsome young English guy, Bliss thinks she might have found the one. However, when it gets to the moment, Bliss isn't sure she can go through with it. Fast forward just a few hours later, Bliss arrives for her latest acting class and is shocked when her new professor walks onto the stage... it's the man she took home to her bed just last night...

I was a bit concerned about how a storyline about a girl proactively trying to lose her virginity would sit with me, as usually that isn't something that I would want to read about, and I think it's a bit of a dicey topic as well, especially if younger teenagers were to read this book. However, it's actually covered in quite a good way, and the leading lady Bliss isn't a woman who just wants to sleep with any man, she clearly wants it to be right and special which I think is a good message to promote. After the first bit of the novel is over and it moves on, it actually progresses into more of a slow burning love story rather than predominantly being about Bliss trying to lose her virginity.

Being set at a University/college, the characters in it are probably the same age as most of the readers this book is aimed at, and they're well written. It's mainly a group of Bliss' friends, including best friend Cade who was another of my favourite characters. I felt quite sorry for Cade actually, and hope he pops up more in Carmack's further books. Garrick, the British professor Bliss rather likes, is a perfect man in almost too many ways, a bit too 'dream come true' but it works for the purpose of the story! Bliss is very likeable too, and I liked that she wouldn't be pressured into anything she didn't want to do, even if she did get herself into some awkward and amusing situations! Bliss is the first person narrator for the duration of the book so we can really get into her head, and it allows for some really amusing anecdotes to pop up!

The main story is interesting to read but the book also focuses on Bliss' dreams of becoming an actress. Being only 21, she's still 100% unsure that's what she wants to do which I think a lot of readers will be able to resonate with, and I liked her indecisiveness - she was flawed and not afraid to show it, wanting to work out the best path for her first. Carmack's writing is enjoyable to read, flowing well and she isn't afraid to shy away from the naughtier scenes, writing these incredibly well and certainly getting steamy with her characters! However, it isn't crudely done and they fitted the theme of the book well and created the required sexual tension! The ending was almost a little too neat and tidy for my liking, but it couldn't have ended any other way, and I enjoyed the addition of an epilogue with a new narrator, that was a good final part to the book.

I enjoyed reading this book much more than I had expected to, and think that the New Adult genre is one that I will be able to enjoy. Carmack's book is a very enjoyable love story, and although it wasn't a long read, I was able to get fully into the story and couldn't help but warm to Garrick more than just a little bit lol! Carmack has written another book entitled Faking It which follows Cade from this book and it's due out in June, so I know I'll be seeking that one out too to find out more about these characters. If you haven't read any of the New Adult genre before, you can't go far wrong from starting with this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

27 March 2013

Book News: The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen

Another release from the shiny new genre called 'New Adult' is the book called The Secret of Ella and Micha by American author Jessica Sorensen. I have had a proof of this sitting on my shelf for a while and I'm really curious to read it since I enjoyed my first New Adult novel just this week. It sounds really interesting, and it's out now as an eBook and as a paperback on 11th April 2013.

You can buy The Secret of Ella and Micha as an eBook now or pre-order as a paperback.

"The girl he thinks he loves needs to disappear. I don't want tonight to be irreversible, so I pull away, breathing him in one last time.

Ella and Micha have been best friends since childhood, until one tragic night shatters their relationship and Ella decides to leave everything behind to start a new life at college, including Micha.

But now it's summer break and she has nowhere else to go but home. Ella fears everything she worked so hard to bury might resurface, especially with Micha living right next door. Micha is sexy, smart, confident, and can get under Ella's skin like no one else can. He knows everything about her, including her darkest secrets. And he's determined to win back the girl he lost, no matter what it takes".

26 March 2013

Book Review: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

"Sage Singer has a past that makes her want to hide from the world. Sleeping by day and working in a bakery by night, she kneads her emotion into the beautiful bread she bakes.

But when she strikes up an unlikely friendship with Josef Weber, a quiet man old enough to be her grandfather, and respected pillar of the community, she feels that finally, she may have found someone she can open up to.

Until Josef tells her the evil secret he's kept for sixty years.

Caught between Josef's search for redemption and her shattered illusions, Sage turns to her family history and her own life for answers. As she uncovers the truth from the darkest horrors of war, she must follow a twisting trail between betrayal and forgiveness, love and revenge. And ask herself the most difficult question she has ever faced - can murder ever be justice? Or mercy?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Storyteller as a hardback or an eBook now.

The Storyteller was just an utterly amazing book, and I would agree with all of those people who say it is her best novel to date. As usual, Picoult courts a quite controversial topic as the main storyline of her book, this time choosing to write about the Holocaust. There should be no adult out there who is going to read this book who doesn't know anything about the Holocaust, so writing about something based in fact within a fictional novel was always going to be quite a challenge. It has to believable and state the facts that happen, but also include the fictional story as well. I was completely impressed by Picoult's retelling, and as a person who used to be a history buff, particularly the time of Hitler and the Nazi's, I was curious to see how much I would enjoy this book.

It tells the tale of Sage Singer, a young woman who has been damaged in her life, and now lives a very quiet and reclusive life as a talented baker for her friend's small town bakery. She still attends a grief counselling group after the loss of her mother, and makes a friend there called Josef. Josef is a pillar of the community, always helping out at school football games, and other areas of town life. But when Josef reveals a shocking and horrifying truth to Sage about his past, she's not sure if she can ever get past what he's told her - Josef was an officer in the SS and part of the Holocaust. Being part of a Jewish family, Sage struggles to deal with it and what to do, and turns to her grandmother Miska for advice. Will she be able to forgive Josef for his past?

This book is enormous, at over 500 pages it's a book you need to get into for the long haul because once you start reading it, you won't want to stop. It begins in the present day, with Sage's life and going some way to explaining why she is how she is, and the introduction of Josef. There's actually multiple narrators for the book, but this was easy to follow as they are all introduced, and have very different ways of telling their story. I enjoyed finding out about Sage, but I have to say I was excited for it to really get going and find out how Sage was going to react when Josef revealed his past to her. Of course, it didn't disappoint, and Picoult writes these scenes so brutally and honestly, you feel the same disgust and shock that Sage does, and I couldn't fathom how to deal with what he did.

As the book progresses, we meet Sage's grandmother, a Polish woman named Minka. She's haunted by her past life in Nazi Germany and what happened there, but when it comes time to tell her own tale, it is more shocking than you could ever contemplate. It's amazing how believably Picoult writes this story - everything is just horrifying to read and you cannot comprehend the fear and horror that these poor people went through, not only in the horrible concentration camps such as Auschwitz but in their homes too, working through fear and literally for their lives. Miska's narration paints a very bleak picture, and I frequently found myself in tears over the things that went on. It was uncomfortable to read in parts, but I could not stop reading, it was just compulsive and I had to see how it all ended.

Picoult's descriptions of life within the camps are very graphic and not for the feint-hearted, I imagine many will find these scenes upsetting, and it's even worse to think that people really had to live through these terrible atrocities that took place. Picoult has clearly done such deep research, and that cannot have been easy in itself, hearing people's real life stories of their own experiences. This is weaved so well with what happens with Sage and Josef within the book, and I have to say I was constantly wondering what Sage would do, it isn't obvious and I loved that about the book, it's so unpredictable. There is a bit of a shock towards the ending, along with a mysterious story that pops up throughout the book and it all draws you so far in, not wanting it to end yet at the same time wanting the horror to stop.

I honestly cannot recommend The Storyteller highly enough. It is most certainly Picoult's best novel to date, and as I've read nearly everything she's ever written, I feel well placed to be able to say that. Yes, it is a tough subject to write about and certainly a raw one to read about too, but it also gets you thinking. Not only about what Minka and the other Jewish people went through in those terrible times, but also about Sage's dilemma - should she forgive Josef for his past actions, and grant him the relief of her forgiveness? Or does someone like Josef who commited such evils deserve to die with the burden of what he did? I would like to think I could never forgive someone who committed such atrocities, but Picoult writes it so well you are left wondering what Sage is going to do. I loved every single page, and I know it's a book I will be reading again, simply because it is so, so good. Amazing. Read it now, you won't be disappointed. I wasn't.

24 March 2013

Book Review: The Paradise Guest House by Ellen Sussman

"It starts as a trip to paradise. Sent on assignment to Bali, Jamie, an adventure guide, imagines spending weeks exploring the island's lush jungles and pristine white sand beaches. Yet three days after her arrival, she is caught in Bali's infamous nightclub bombings, which irreparably change her life and leave her with many unanswered questions. One year later, haunted by memories, Jamie returns to Bali seeking a sense of closure. Most of all, she hopes to find Gabe, the man who saved her from the attacks. She hasn't been able to forget his kindness - or the spark between them as he helped her heal. Checking into a cosy guest house for her stay, Jamie meets the kindly owner, who is coping with a painful past of his own, and a young boy who improbably becomes crucial to her search. Jamie has never shied away from a challenge, but a second chance with Gabe presents her with the biggest dilemma of all: whether she's ready to open her heart."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Paradise Guest House as a paperback or an eBook now.

I really enjoyed Ellen Sussman's novel French Lessons last year, so when I was asked to be a part of her 2013 blog tour for her new book The Paradise Guest House, I jumped at the chance. When I read that it was based around the Bali bombings which took place in 2002, I was quite curious because I have to admit that while I had of course heard of the attack, I didn't know all that much about it as I was only 16 when it had happened, and didn't remember much about it, besides the horrible images that were shown across the media at that time. I hoped that it wouldn't be too hard of a read, but I needn't have worried because it was utterly beautiful novel that I read in just 2 days because I didn't want to stop reading.

Jamie first comes to Bali in 2002, where she is researching trips as part of her job as an adventure guide. Jamie loves adventure and thrill-seeking, travelling the world with her job, and meeting lots of exciting people along the way. But when she finds in the middle of the Bali bombings, Jamie is injured but meets mysterious stranger Gabe who rescues her from the disaster. A year later, Jamie is invited to take part in a memorial for those involved in the bombings, and bravely makes her way back to Bali, also intent on finding Gabe again to thank him and perhaps open her heart to him once more. Will Jamie find the closure she is desperately searching for in visiting Bali once more?

The first thing I want to say about this novel is how beautifully Sussman writes. I have never been to Bali, but thanks to Sussman's descriptions and the way she has of bringing the place to life on the pages, I feel like I can see all of the places Jamie visits in my mind, and I really loved that. She makes it sound like paradise, and exposes the culture, the people and the general feeling of Bali perfectly. Sussman goes into some amazing detail of the night of the bombings from Jamie and Gabe's points of view, and this allows you to really understand their characters and what happened that night. It's almost frightening to read, you know what is happening and how petrifying it must have been, and everything is so well described you can visualise everything that is going on. It isn't easy to read these parts of the novel but it's so compulsive, you just can't put the book down.

I enjoyed the way Sussman writes the novel, beginning in the present day i.e. 2003, one year after the bombings when Jamie has made the decision to revisit Bali despite her fears. After a while, it then jumps back a year, detailing what happened the night of the bombings and in the days after when Jamie and Gabe were recovering and got to know each other. Once more, it goes back again to the 2003 story to finish the book, and I found this was a really good way of writing, and I found it to be a joy to read. I really loved the characters of Jamie and Gabe, you care about them as people and thought they were both so brave, especially Jamie - I certainly couldn't have revisited the site of so much pain and suffering just a year on. Gabe was a damaged soul himself, and as things are revealed about him, you understand why he is as he is in the book. I also enjoyed reading the storyline of the Paradise Guest House, where Jamie stays with a Balinese man who lost his wife in the bombings, and just added yet another layer to this already amazing book.

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading The Paradise Guest House. It was a totally absorbing read, and while it was emotional and hard to read in parts, I was totally lost in it from start to finish. At just over 250 pages, it isn't a long novel. Sussman wastes no times with long narratives and descriptions, instead getting straight into the action of the novel and for me this made it all the better. Her descriptions of Bali and the fateful night of the bombings were so good, you feel every emotion along with the characters and are desperate for a happy ending for them. The emotions in the book are so well written, and I praise Sussman highly for how she makes the reader feel as you become gripped by the novel. It's beautifully written, and is a book that will stay with me for a long time, certainly a must read.

22 March 2013

Book Review: Never Google Heartbreak by Emma Garcia

"When her fiance Rob breaks off their engagement for the third time, Viv does what any girl would do - she Googles heartbreak.

Confronted by tales of misery, she decides to set-up her own self-help website for the broken-hearted. But as Viv passes through the three essential stages of grief (denial, vodka, disastrous haircut), she becomes determined that it's not too late to try and get Rob back.

When things get out of hand after a drunken declaration of love at an extremely inappropriate moment, Viv's scruffy, tequila-swilling best friend Max is there to pick up the pieces. Viv starts to realise that maybe the real thing has been under her nose all this time, and now - one ex and a massive error of judgement later - she has to face the question:

What's the craziest thing you'll do for love?"

Rating: 3/5

You can buy Never Google Heartbreak as a paperback or an eBook now.

I have really been looking forward to reading Emma Garcia's debut novel - the reviews have been great and it sounded really funny, just the sort of novel I love to get stuck into after a long hard day at work. I really love the cover and in real life, it's a lovely sparkly one with lots of foil bits on, and I really love the simplicity of it too. I was surprised to see that there has been no Twitter account or website set up for the book, as this is really a perfect trick to get more people hooked in to it, but there you go! I was hoping before I started that the book would be one that I didn't want to be put down but sadly for me, it had a fair few niggles that were bothering me all the way!

Viv is heartbroken when she is left by her fiancé Rob, but worse that that - it isn't the first time he's broken off their engagement and she's got a horrible feeling that this may be the final time for them. Viv sets out to try and get over her heartbreak by googling heartbreak and reading other people's stories. Viv is sure that she can get Rob back, and sets about trying to do just that. Viv's friend Max is the one who is there to help her pick up the pieces of her broken relationship, but when she accidentally upsets him and risks losing him too, she has a realisation that maybe she's been living under false pretences all along. Will Viv be able to get her happy ever after ending she's always dreamed of?

I have to say first off I actually found Viv to be quite annoying, and that possibly spoiled my enjoyment of the book as a whole. I really wanted her to wake up and see Rob for what a pig he was, and the fact she was so desperate to please him and wanted him back all the time really grated on my nerves for some reason. She wasn't especially nice to her friends either which was a shame, Rob really was the centre of her world and she was really blinded by it. At times, it was endearing but it really did just irritate me, especially when it starts affecting her worklife and other things. Maybe I'm just heartless lol but I just couldn't feel the sympathy for Viv that I had expected to! Rob was just hideous, Garcia certainly did a good job of making him utterly hateable - it only makes you wonder more how Viv couldn't see the truth about what he's really like!

The pacing of the book was really good and I thought the story moved along at a believable pace, and things happened well in the book. I actually enjoyed reading about Viv's job and her antics there more than I did her romantic life at points throughout the story, her assistant was just hilarious and I felt being at work showed a better side to Viv, even though her job was falling down around her ears too. I didn't really get the inclusion of the website that Viv has made, it feels like it's too much of a side story and not enough was made of it during the book which was a shame as I felt it could have been a really brilliant centre piece for the story. I also felt the whole ending felt like it was off on a bit of a tangent, and I found myself losing interest slightly as I had a feeling I knew how it would end up anyway.

Overall, I did enjoy this book and kept reading to the end because I felt invested in the book and the characters, but I didn't have that urge to pick it up at any opportunity like I often do when I'm reading a book. I enjoyed Garcia's writing, she's certainly got the knack of making you smile as you're reading because it's amusing and light-hearted, but I felt Viv was just too bogged down in the desperation of getting Rob back - I just wanted her to grow a backbone and tell him to get lost once and for all, she was too much of a soft touch for me! Max on the other hand was my favourite character in the book, and I wished he was in there more... I loved reading about him and Garcia makes him sound like a perfect man! I enjoyed Never Google Heartbreak but perhaps had higher hopes than what the book delivered on for me, but I'm still looking forward to reading more from Emma Garcia.

19 March 2013

Book News: Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements

One of my favourite Christmas reads from 2012 was Abby Clements' debut novel Meet Me Under the Mistletoe so I am so excited to read her new book Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop! It's due out on May 23rd, and I am in love with the cover, it's so pretty and I love the colour scheme too. I hope it's just as good as her previous book, if so, we are in for a treat!

You can pre-order Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop as a paperback or an eBook now.

"When Imogen and Anna unexpectedly inherit their grandmother Vivien's ice cream parlour, it turns both their lives upside-down. The Brighton shop is a seafront institution, but while it's big on charm it's critically low on customers. If the sisters don't turn things around quickly, their grandmother's legacy will disappear forever.

With summer looming, Imogen and Anna devise a plan to return Vivien's to its former glory. Rather than sell up, they will train up, and make the parlour the newest destination on the South Coast foodie map.

While Imogen watches the shop, her sister flies to Italy to attend a gourmet ice cream-making course. But as she works shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best chefs in the industry, Anna finds that romance can bloom in the most unexpected of places..."

18 March 2013

Book Review: The Perfect Retreat by Kate Forster

"Can you live on love alone?

Willow Carruthers – British Oscar winner, style icon and mother of three is facing a crisis: she’s broke, discovery of her partner’s infidelity has left her a single mother and, if the banks have their way, she’s about to be homeless.

Meanwhile nanny to Wilow’s children Kitty, is desperate to keep her job and knows just the place they can retreat too – her crumbling ancestral home in the Bristol countryside, Middlemist House.

To both women in their hour of need, the idea of leaving LA seems brilliant in theory, until Kitty’s brother Merritt returns home unannounced.

From London to L.A, The Perfect Retreat is pure escapism - full of sex, scandal and intrigue."

Rating: 5/5

I really loved Kate Forster's debut novel which was released last year called The Perfect Location which was a fantastic escapist novel. I was therefore really thrilled to receive a review copy of her brand new book, The Perfect Retreat. I was wondering if there would be a link to the previous book written by Forster since the titles were very similar, but they weren't, they are complete separate and I was quite pleased, I do like a fresh new story! I also really liked the cover of this one, it's bright and quite English looking, and fits in well with the theme of the book too.

The book centres around celebrity actress Willow Carruthers and her failed marriage. She's stuck living in London with her three children, and her nanny Kitty too. When Willow finds herself in a huge financial mess, she quickly has to leave their expensive London home, but Kitty quickly comes to the rescue with her old family home Middlemist House. However, when they get there, Kitty's elder brother Merritt suddenly reappears after years, shocked to find an A-List actress and his sister living in the house. Willow finds she quite enjoys getting herself back in the spotlight and living in the British countryside, and Kitty enjoys being back home with her brother too - what other life changes will Willow, Kitty and Merritt be making at the retreat that is Middlemist house?!

I have to say I loved this book right from the beginning, and I enjoyed reading about Willow and Kitty! I was worried that I would hate Willow because of her celebrity status but Forster writes her so well that you can't help but warm to her and really sympathise for her circumstances. Her husband is an awful character, you hate him quite easily which I think worked well in Willow's favour! I didn't really like her as a mother to her 3 children, but I guess she couldn't be perfect, she is certainly a flawed individual. Kitty was lovely from the off, perfect with the children and just the right person to balance out Willow's starry lifestyle.

I enjoyed the introduction of Merritt as well, and it allowed for the development of the storyline at Middlemist house. Forster does such an amazing job of describing it that you can easily visualise the house as Kitty walks around, from the dusty old rooms to the decrepit old gardens, and then it's renovations as things progress there. Forster really loses herself in the descriptive writing and I enjoyed reading it so much, it sounds perfect. There are scenes set in London too which were fun to read, but I far preferred those set in the countryside and Middlemist house! Merritt is so likeable too, he's the perfect main male character for the book, and he's a fantastic man for his sister and for his new tenants too.

I absolutely loved this book, and couldn't put it down once I had started reading! I was able to easily lose myself in the world of Willow and Kitty, and it just got better as it went on. I really loved the things with Kitty towards the end, they were so well handled and highlighted some important issues too, and they were sensitively handled. With this, I really enjoyed not only the tales of the main characters, but also the more minor ones too, Harold in particular stands out, and Forster writes Willow's children so well too, I fell in love with each of them, they were so sweet! I really did love this book, and cannot wait for Kate Forster's next offering, she is fast becoming one of my must-read authors!

You can buy The Perfect Retreat as an eBook or a paperback now!

15 March 2013

Book News: The Guest List by Melissa Hill

One of my favourite authors, Melissa Hill, is bac,k - hurrah! The gorgeous cover for her brand new novel The Guest List has been revealed and it is beautiful... not to mention my favourite colour too! Melissa's books are so compulsive, and this one sounds like it's going to be a fantastic read. The Guest List is out on April 25th 2013.

You can pre-order The Guest List as a paperback or an eBook now.

"When funny, kind and gorgeous Shane proposes, Cara is over the moon, and can't wait to share the news of their engagement with all their friends and family.

Excitement, however, quickly turns to apprehension when it seems that everyone has a fixed idea of the perfect wedding and offers to 'help' with the planning. With tussles over the ceremony and the size of the guest list, sibling rivalry and insistent in-laws-to-be, Cara can see the vision she has of her big day being ripped to shreds.

So she and Shane determine to make a stand and do things their way. But when they announce their plans for a beach wedding on a beautiful Caribbean island, there is uproar. Threats are made, family secrets are revealed, and things turn decidedly stormy.

Will Cara and Shane manage to overcome all obstacles? Or will their dream wedding turn into a nightmare?"

13 March 2013

Book News: Wicked Wives by Anna Lou Weatherley

Anna-Lou Weatherley is back this summer with a brand new novel, and I can't wait! I really enjoyed her 2012 novel Chelsea Wives and it looks like this years release Wicked Wives is going to be just as fantastic. I'm not sure I'm completely sold on the cover just yet but it'll grow on me! It's due out on 18th July.

You can pre-order Wicked Wives as a paperback or an eBook now.

"A tale of intrigue, revenge and excess…

When the ‘Blue Angel’ yacht is found abandoned off the coast of Antigua and Playboy and Casino owner, Tom Black, who was on board is pronounced missing, foul-play is suspected. After all, the serial gambler and womaniser has made plenty of enemies.

As events come to light however, the finger of suspicion points to three women in particular – and the men they’re married to.

Ellie Scott, the beautiful socialite with a dubious past; Loretta Fiorentino, the fame-seeking gold-digger and Victoria Mayfield, the glamorous successful author.

Full of intrigue, revenge and decadence, this is a tale you’ll want to revisit again and again."

12 March 2013

Book Review: The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

"As dawn breaks over the Pont Neuf, and the cobbled alleyways of Paris come to life, Anna Trent is already awake and at work; mixing and stirring the finest, smoothest, richest chocolate; made entirely by hand, it is sold to the grandes dames of Paris.

It's a huge shift from the chocolate factory she worked in at home in the north of England. But when an accident changed everything, Anna was thrown back in touch with her French teacher, Claire, who offered her the chance of a lifetime - to work in Paris with her former sweetheart, Thierry, a master chocolatier.

With old wounds about to be uncovered and healed, Anna is set to discover more about real chocolate - and herself - than she ever dreamed."

Rating: 5/5

You can pre-order The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris as a paperback or an eBook now.

I loved this book so much. I almost think I could stop the review there because that is really all there is so say about it! It draws you in and is just beautifully written, interesting, tantalising and just all round brilliant to read, and I think this is my favourite of Jenny Colgan's books I have read so far. I was wondering how much of it would be set in the lovely city of Paris, and the answer is pretty much all of it. Although I've been to Paris a fair few times in my life, I wouldn't say I know it very well or am particularly enamored by it so I was hoping Colgan would be able to persuade me otherwise.

The characters are absolutely fantastic in the book, and they are what really draws you in because you care about them and want to find out what happened to them all by the end of the book. Our leading lady is Anna, a young woman who suffers a bit of an unfortunate accident at work and finds herself bored in hospital and out of a job. Surprisingly, she bumps into her old french teacher Claire who is desperately unwell. Claire persuades Anna to take her life into her own hands and do something exciting, and so she ups and leaves to Paris to work in a world famous chocolate shop under the watchful eye of Claire's old friend Thierry. But is it just chocolate Anna will making whilst she's in Paris?

Jenny Colgan really manages to bring the city of Paris to life in the book, and writes about it so evocatively you feel as if you are there with Anna, Thierry and co making chocolate in their shop! Everything from the streets to the buildings to the landmarks are so beautifully described that you can picture them when you close your eyes and that was one of my favourite things about this book. I also found the way Colgan wrote about the chocolate and Thierry's processes for making it were just magical - it seemed like so much more than just chocolate and it was mesmerising to read it, especially the way Thierry worked. I was totally lost in the pages of this and it actually made wonder what goes into the chocolate that I eat lol!

One of my favourite bits of the book though (shock horror... not the chocolate!) was Claire's story which is interspersed throughout the book with Anna's. Claire's is told as a flashback using an italic font to make it stand out slightly, and it's quite simply a joy to read. Everything from her moving to France as a naive, sheltered young girl and literally growing up there was wonderful to read, and I just didn't want to put the book down when Claire's story was the focal point. At some points, I actually ploughed through Anna's story just to get to more of Claire's, I was totally lost in her world and I wish in a way Colgan could have written a whole book just about this, it was wonderful!

This book made me laugh, smile and cry along with it - the ending for me was so bittersweet and I actually flicked back several pages to make sure what I'd read was right, simply because I didn't want to believe it was the end, I felt it could have gone on and on and I'd have kept reading! The book was enchanting from start to finish, and Anna's humour peppered throughout kept the tone light and the chocolate made it all the more delicious to read! For me, this is Jenny Colgan's best book to date, and she effortlessly weaves the timeless tales of Claire and Anna throughout the beautiful city of Paris, and by the end, I didn't want to leave either Claire or Anna behind, nor their beautiful chocolate shop in Paris. Simply a must-read. With chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

11 March 2013

eBook News: Cooking Up A Storm by Sue Welfare

Sue Welfare is back with a brand new eBook, and I can't wait to read it! Cooking Up A Storm  has just been released, and sounds like it's going to be a fun read. I've read and loved a couple of Sue's previous books, and am so looking forward to diving straight into this one.

You can buy Cooking Up A Storm as an eBook now!

"When newly single Sarah Peterson rents a cottage on Kit Roseberry’s country estate and swops cooking supper for rent, she isn’t expecting TV producer, Magda Holmes, to fall for Kit and his culinary skills, or offer him a slot on her TV show.

Kit can’t boil water, but he’s got the look and needs the money. Magda is keen to go for a traditional feel, happy families, picnics on the beach and birthday teas, so Sarah - along with her two boys - finds herself as undercover cook, and an instant wife and family for Kit’s TV debut.

But what will that do to Sarah's fresh start, her new man, ex-husband and the rest of her life?

Is it a recipe for disaster or have all the ingredients of a great romance?

Cooking up a Storm is a classic Rom-Com, and includes recipes for all the dishes cooked by Sarah and Kit.’"

8 March 2013

Book Review: Mums Like Us by Laura Kemp

"Attention, all lardies!

Are you sick to death of mum-upmanship at the school gates?

Have you had your fill of Mother Superiors who lose their baby weight in six weeks while you're still carrying yours years later?

Do you crave the company of like-minded mums who will admit motherhood smells not of roses but of dirty nappies?

Well, look no further than Mums Like Us, a weekly group where knackered mums can let rip about kids, husbands and work.

So join our rejection of perfection, and fight for 'good enough' parenting. And drink. And lots of cake.

Stella Smith

Mums Like Us Chairwoman"

Rating: 2/5

You can buy Mums Like Us as a paperback or an eBook now.

I really enjoy it when I have a good debut novel to look forward to, and Mums Like Us sounded just like my cup of tea when I read the synopsis on Amazon. As I've mentioned before, I love books about parenting so this sounded a perfect read for me. I have to say I really wasn't taken by the cover when I first saw it at all - it's bland and quite dull, and certainly isn't a book cover that would make me want to pick up the book in a shop which is a shame. However, I was willing not to judge the book by its cover and eagerly started it, and the quote from Milly Johnson on the front cover and press release made me even more excited to get stuck in!

The book began quite well, although from the beginning I struggled to get over the very bizarre narrative that I just did not like at all. It was written in the first person from the point of view of Stella, the chairwoman of 'Mums Like Us', a new mums club based around the idea that no mother is perfect and we're all just getting by! The narrative is addressing the members of the club, which is really weird and I found it hard to like it, I couldn't settle into it and that was a shame right from the beginning. She was directly addressing them throughout, even so far as to point out where the biscuits were in her kitchen and other things that just didn't work for me.

Oddly though, Stella's husband Matt makes infrequent posts throughout the book, on his dad's football club blog and I really enjoyed these. Actually, I enjoyed these much more than Stella's story, and for some reason, his narrative worked so well. He was funny, and kind and I really liked Matt. Stella on the other hand, well. She tries to be the 'every woman' but I just didn't like her. Yes, some of the things she said ran true for me but others were written just to be inflammatory or to really poke fun at the mum's who do like to dress up, have the best for their kids, and I didn't particularly enjoy that side of it, although I have to confess 'smugaboo' did make me giggle.

My really huge problem with the book was its unrealistic story and progression. Stella went from being a normal mum doing normal things with her life, to a virtual media magnate, with exclusive access to the Prime Minister (!!), appearances on national television and a million pound selling calendar, all in a ridiculously small space of time and for silly reasons. I found myself getting more and more annoyed by it as I was reading, and there were times I was ready to give up on it. Yes, I know it's fiction, but I like a certain amount of believability in my books and I didn't feel that was there at all in this book. I disliked Stella the more I read on, and as things got completely silly, I just wanted to get to the end simply so I would know how the loose ends would be tied up, and also what would happen to Matt, probably the only one in the book I liked.

I was so disappointed by this book, especially as I had such high hopes for it. I found the narrative annoying, the main character particularly detestable and I didn't enjoy how unrealistic it was at all. As I said, I do know its fiction but it really wasn't for me simply because it wasn't a believable look at a parenting club, much like other books I've read on the subject. While it was at times funny, and I could relate to several of the parenting quips made in the book and I did laugh a few times, the bad far outweighed the good for me and I was left with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth afterwards. Sadly, it wasn't a debut novel I enjoyed that much, and would struggle to recommend! :(

Book News: The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon

Paige Toon is one of my most favourite authors of all time, and thankfully she is back in April with a brand new book!! The Longest Holiday isn't due out until April 25th, but I'm already very excited to read it! I love the cover too, it's very summery and pretty, and sounds as usual like the perfect holiday read! Something about Paige's books really draws you in to the story, and I'm sure this one will be the same. Roll on April 25th!

You can pre-order The Longest Holiday as a paperback or an eBook now.

"'Don't wait for the storm to pass; learn to dance in the rain...' Laura has been married to the man of her dreams for seven months. But a week before the wedding, Matthew made a terrible mistake. Escaping the humiliation that is now her marriage, Laura is whisked off to Florida's Key West by her best friend Marty. A carefree holiday full of cocktails and fun, surrounded by gorgeous, tanned men, is exactly what the doctor ordered. Distraction comes in the form of sexy Cuban scuba diver Leo. Laura's instant attraction to him knocks her flying, and she falls hard. As the end of the holiday approaches, Laura doesn't want to go home. Is it time to face the music? Or is there more to Key West than a holiday romance?"

5 March 2013

Book Review: Pedigree Mum by Fiona Gibson

"A straying husband. A broken heart. And a crazy rescue dog in a town of posh pooches…

When Kerry Tambini upped sticks with her family to a new home on the coast, she couldn’t have been happier. Then husband Rob made the biggest mistake of his life…

Stranded with her children in snooty Shorling, Kerry has plenty on her plate. So how can she say no to the kids' pleas for a dog when they're missing their father dreadfully? Will adopting a wayward hound lead Kerry to a new love – or has she bitten off more than she can chew?

As she steps back into the dating world Kerry must juggle her family, her neurotic dog and try to fit in with the local pedigree mums, making her a true heroine for our time."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Pedigree Mum as a paperback or an eBook now!

I've read quite a few of Fiona Gibson's books, and I always enjoy her really amusing take on parenting and life in general. While they are often laugh-out-loud funny, they always have a great message and heart to them and I look forward to picking them up. When I saw that this one was based around dog's, I was a bit concerned as I'm not a huge dog lover and don't especially enjoy books all about dogs, but my fears were unfounded - the dog was a fun addition to the book but in no way took over, and I really enjoyed how the story was handled as a whole. I highly recommend Pedigree Mum, and here's why!

Kerry Tambini though she had it all - a good marriage, 2 lovely children and a great house in London. When she and husband Rob decide together to make the move out of London and to her relative's coastal home, Kerry is excited for what the future has to bring. However, when Rob makes a massive mistake, Kerry finds her whole future in doubt, and is unsure of how to go on as normal for the sake of her kids. She decided that granting their wish of a dog is going to help them settle in to their new home, but quickly realises she knows nothing about raising a dog. Will Kerry be able to handle a new dog, a new home and suddenly finding herself in a brand new set of circumstances for the first time in years?

I found this book to be a brilliant read from start to finish. I really warmed to Kerry straight away, she's a character a lot of mums reading about her will be able to relate to, and I found myself agreeing with a lot of the things she did and said, especially towards her children. She's written as a believable and likeable character, and you can't help but want things to go well for her. I also really liked Rob, even though because of what happens in the book I probably shouldn't! I felt incredibly sorry for him, and thought he had a good heart behind what happened. I did want to shout at him sometimes to wake up and stop faffing about, but he was likeable none the less.

Buddy the dog was a fantastic addition and allowed for some really good humour in the book to come up, whether you're a dog person or not! He is also a catalyst for allowing Kerry to relax a bit too, and I loved him for that. Gibson doesn't shy away from the less pleasant parts about dog owning as well, and Kerry's naivety about the whole dog situation makes it all the more funny in parts! Kerry's different relationships are well explored in the book, and I thought Gibson wrote them all so well, allowing the reader to really get into Kerry's head. I loved the small coastal town and the way it is written in the book too, it sounds idyllic and the perfect place for Kerry and her children, despite some of the local snobs lol!

Overall, I thought this was a wonderful read that I thoroughly enjoyed picking up and reading at the end of a long, hard day at work. Gibson's writing is so easy to read, and I enjoyed the way the story flicks between Kerry and Rob's stories, and manages to weave them together at the same time. The pace of the book is really good, moving along enough to keep the story going but at a gentle pace that lets you easily follow and get absorbed into Gibson's descriptions of places, relationships and of course, Buddy the dog! I have to say I was surprised at the ending, it wasn't really what I had expected but I like that it wasn't perhaps the ending we may have all wanted... it was a realistic and believable ending, much like the rest of the book. I loved it, and look forward to Fiona Gibson's next book!

4 March 2013

Book News: Losing It by Cora Carmack

The New Adult genre is something I've been quite interested in for a while, and Cora Carmack new novel Losing It is a book by Ebury Press that fits nicely into that genre. I can't say I'm 100% sold on the cover, although I have to say the guy in the British cover is much nicer than the guy on US cover (see here!). It's out now as an eBook but is out as a paperback on 28th March, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

You can buy Losing It as an eBook now or pre-order as a paperback.

"Love.Romance. Sex. There's a first time for everything...

As far as Bliss Edwards can tell, she's the last virgin standing, certainly amongst her friends. And she's determined to deal with the 'problem' as quickly and simply as possible.

But her plan for a no-strings one night stand turns out to be anything but simple. Especially when she arrives for her first class and recognises her hot new British professor.

She'd left him naked in her bed just 8 hours earlier..."

1 March 2013

March 2013 Releases

The year is really getting going now, and what an amazing month March is shaping up to be! With brilliant new book from Jenny Colgan, Jodi Picoult, Trisha Ashley and Janey Fraser, we're really being treated this month! There are some gorgeous book covers in there too, which is your favourite and which are you most looking forward to? As always, click on the book covers to be taken to their Amazon.co.uk page!