31 March 2014

Book News: Written in the Stars by Ali Harris

One of my hugely anticipated novels of 2014 has to be the latest offering from Ali Harris! Ali has quickly become one of my favourite authors, and her previous novel The First Last Kiss won my 'Tearjerker of the Year 2013' award! Written in the Stars is out on June 5th, and sounds amazing, I cannot wait to read it! The cover is stunning too, this is one book I am so excited for.

You can pre-order Written in the Stars as a paperback or an eBook now.

"Have you ever wondered 'What if…?' What if you'd taken that other job, gone on a date with that other guy, moved to a different city. Would an alternative life path have led to a happier ending? Now imagine if you could have taken both paths… When Bea Bishop slips while walking down the aisle on her wedding day, she is momentarily knocked unconscious. Her world splits and her parallel lives take her on two very different journeys. In one existence, Bea flees back down the aisle and out of the church. In the other she glides blissfully towards Adam, her intended. But which story will lead to her happy ever after? And will she end up in the same place? One decision + two different paths = how many happy endings?"

30 March 2014

Book Review: The First Time We Met by Pippa Croft

"Senator's daughter Lauren Cusack is leaving Washington behind for the dreaming spires of Oxford University - and she's ready for a challenge. Now a fully-fledged Master's student, Lauren is determined to make the most of every single minute.

But then she meets Alexander Hunt, and everything changes.

A devastatingly handsome English aristocrat, Alexander is as brooding and enigmatic as they come. Lauren tries to resist his advances, but he has his sights clearly set on the young American, and what Alexander wants, he gets.

Caution soon gives way to mind-blowing passion and Lauren is drawn into Alexander's privileged world of glamour and status. But all that glitters is not gold - for Alexander is a man with a dark past, and desire may not be enough to conquer all else..."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy The First Time We Met as a paperback or an eBook now.

This book is the first in a new series by Pippa Croft, otherwise known as author Phillippa Ashley, who has written a lot of other novels. This, however, is her first foray into the world of New Adult literature, a genre which I have enjoyed so far , and so I was eager to start Pippa's Oxford Blue series and see if I'd enjoy that too. I actually read this as an eBook, although it is available as a paperback too, and the second of the novels, The Second Time I Saw You is due out in May.

Lauren Cusack is excited to start her  new life in Oxford, away from the constraits of being a Senator's daughter in America. She loves her parents, but is excited to branch out on her own and study something close to her heart. Lauren struggles to blend in with the English crowd. However, when she meets English aristocrat Alexander Hunt, her life quickly takes yet another new turn. He's a tall, dark, brooding Army sergeant and he's decided that he wants Lauren to be his, whether she likes it or not! She decides to give Alexander a chance, and soon the pair are in the throes of a very passionate relationship. But Alexander is hiding some secrets about his past... can Lauren get him to open to her before it's too late for them?

I haven't actually read anything by Phillippa Ashley before, so had no experience of her writing under that name, so went into her Pippa Croft novel with an open mind. I enjoyed the setting of Oxford University, somewhere I have been many times so I was able to visualise the setting quite easily in my mind which I enjoyed. Lauren was a very likeable leading character, she's quite shy and unsure of herself in a new setting, and it felt very realistic because of that, she felt just how any of us would feel if we were in her situation. I liked that she was trying to break away from her life in America, but was still proud of where she came from - she was just determined to make her own way in the world, not live off her father's name and job.

Alexander was a great hero for the book. He was a bit mysterious, we aren't sure why he's so emotionally shut off for much of the book, but when it's explained, it does make sense. His job is in the Army, so he bears the scars of that work but Lauren is determined to work him out. I liked reading about the relationship of the pair, how quickly it developed and what they got up to once they were a couple. You could tell they were really attracted to each other, and the sex scenes highlighted this - they were well written, and felt like a necessary part of the book, showing us their passion in their relationship. To contrast these two great characters that we are meant to love, there are equally some fabulously dislikeable ones that are brilliant -General Hunt and Valentina to mention a few!

As the book progresses, we get to see more of Alexander and Lauren as a couple, and the scenes set at Alexander's home towards the end of the book really opened the story up for it's sequels. I felt very sorry for Lauren, mixing in a society she had no experience of whatsoever and Alexander's awful family didn't really help matters! The story was very readable, I wanted to keep reading and find out what was going to happen next and if Lauren and Alexander would get their happy-ever-after! Croft's writing is easy to read, it really immerses you in the story, and I'm certainly looking forward to the second book in the series. With a great setting, fantastic characters and a passionate love story, The First Time We Met is a great read in the New Adult genre, and one I definitely recommend.

26 March 2014

Book News: The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

One of my new favourite authors is Lisa Jewell, her past few books have been amazing and always leave me wanting more! Luckily, her brand new book The Third Wife is due out on 3rd July, and sounds amazing. I already can't wait to find out the secrets and more that this book has to offer!

You can pre-order The Third Wife as a paperback or an eBook now.

"London 2011: In the early hours of a summer morning, a young woman is killed by a bus. A tragic accident? Or suicide?

A year later, her devastated husband, Adrian Wolfe, is determined to find out.

Adrian and Maya had only recently married, and he'd always believed they were happy together.

His children from his two previous marriages loved her. And Maya loved them.

She had a job she enjoyed, she had plenty of friends, and she and Adrian were trying for a baby. They seemed to have the perfect life.

Why then might she have wanted to kill herself?

When Adrian finds a hidden stash of poisonous emails on Maya's laptop he begins to identify the dark cracks in her life.

Because everyone has secrets.

And secrets have consequences.

Some of which can be devastating."

25 March 2014

Book News: A Proper Family Holiday by Chrissie Manby

Chrissie Manby is finally back this summer with a brand new beach read, A Proper Family Holiday. I love the cover, it completely screams beach read and it sounds like a great story too. It's out on 5th June so just in time for the summer holidays :) Are you looking forward to picking this one up too?

You can pre-order A Proper Family Holiday as a paperback or an eBook now.

"Fashion journalist Chelsea Benson can't think of anything better than going on a week-long package holiday in Lanzarote with her entire family. No, scratch that - she can't think of anything worse.

Your small nephew wiping his sticky hands all over your (borrowed) designer dress, and pestering you to play for days on end . . .

Your eighty-five-year-old granddad chatting up ladies at the hotel bar...

Getting nothing but sarcastic comments from your older sister, who's always been the family favourite and hasn't spoken to you in two years . . .

And all this is before your parents drop their bombshell.

It's certainly shaping up to be a holiday Chelsea and the rest of the Benson family will never, ever forget . "

24 March 2014

Book Review: Mother of the Year by Karen Ross

"'I often think my mother would prefer colonic irrigation to hanging out with me...'

Beth Jackson is a national treasure, celebrated for her television shows and winning the Mother of the Year Award three times in a row.

Only, her daughter just wishes that Beth would be more like a normal mum..."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy Mother of the Year as a paperback or an eBook now.

I'll be honest and say I hadn't heard much about this book or debut author until I saw another blogger raving about the book on Twitter one evening. I then got a review copy in the post, and decided I simply had to give it a go. The cover is pretty gorgeous as well, adorned with a lovely cupcake with lots of silver glitter to boot, exactly the sort of book cover that screams 'read me now!'. As it was a debut novel, I went in without any expectations, and came out of it a very happy reader indeed!

JJ's mother Beth Thomas is a famous TV star, a journalist, presenter, and she's managed to win Mother of the Year award 3 times. However, JJ isn't sure that if people knew the real Beth Thomas, they wouldn't be so quick to say what a great mother Beth was. JJ feels her mum hasn't always been there for her, instead preferring to plaster JJ's life in the press in one of her many columns, or use her as funny anecdotes on her TV show. JJ just wants Beth to be a normal mum for once, but is sure it can't happen... can it?

As a mum myself, I really enjoy reading books about motherhood and family life, although this was one book I hoped I wouldn't be able to relate to too much myself! Ross gives us a very interesting mother/daughter dynamic with JJ and Beth. From reading the synopsis, I thought the book would be all about Beth, but in reality, it's JJ who is the main character of the book and Beth is more of a secondary one, although she's very important to the story whether or not she's actually present at that time. JJ narrates the majority of the book, but at times Beth pops up with an old newspaper article she wrote, or with something that she is doing at that time, and puts her perspective across, and it makes for an interesting read.

What made the book so fantastic to read for me was the multiple things going on that kept my interest. Yes, Beth's relationship with her daughter JJ is the main part of the book, but there's a lot of other things going on in JJ's life too that makes for excellent reading! There's her flatmate Theodora who is a sand sculptor and is going to deliver a bit of a bombshell to JJ, and JJ's boyfriend Rob, who has jacked in his well paid job, and has decided to start his own juice business with his hapless best friend. It creates some very funny moments in the book, and these secondary characters are just as important as the main ones, Ross has made them so realistic and I loved every second of reading about them.

Not only is the book a funny read, and has lots of things within it that I am sure a lot of people will be able to relate to - sending the wrong email to someone important ring any bells?! - it is an emotional and inspiring one too, showing us that we can make the wrong judgements about people but if we want to, we can build the bridges and make things right - life is too short to not do so. Ross balances the more weepy side of the story with the comedy moments perfectly, and for me, it was a novel I couldn't put down! The writing was snappy, the pace kept up enough to make it interesting, and the twists and turns in the story along the way had me hooked! I cannot wait for more from Karen Ross, this is a corker of a debut that I can't recommend highly enough! Bittersweet, funny, uplifting and emotional  - what more could you want?!

Book News: What A Girl Wants by Lindsey Kelk

Lindsey Kelk is back this summer, woohoo! Her new book, the follow up to last year's summer smash hit About A Girl is due out on July 17th, and it's called What A Girl Wants! I can't wait to read more and find out what Tess has been up to next, and I think the cover is beautiful too, so summery and perfect! This is one summer read I cannot wait for.

You can pre-order What A Girl Wants as a paperback or an eBook now.

"Tess Brookes was the girl with a plan.

Now she's the girl with a choice.

Should she stay in London and start her own advertising agency with her best friend and potential boyfriend Charlie? Or should she head to exciting Milan to pursue both a new career as a photographer and a new man, the enigmatic and elusive (and highly irritating) Nick?

For the first time, Tess has to choose between the life she always dreamed of and a future she never imagined possible. With her heart and her head pulling her in different directions, Tess has to make a life-changing decision about What a Girl Wants."

21 March 2014

Blog Tour: Hannah Emery

Today I am pleased to welcome debut author Hannah Emery to my blog as part of her blog tour for her first novel Secrets in the Shadows which is published by Harper Impulse. Hannah was kind enough to write a blog post about the characters in her book, so please take the time to read it, and enjoy!

You can buy Secrets in the Shadows as an eBook now.

"You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love your shoe collection"

There’s nothing I love more than a ‘what would she do?’ conversation.  There’s something brilliant about deciding what someone, real or imaginary, would do if they were in your shoes.

Whilst I was writing Secrets in the Shadows, I constantly asked myself in random situations: what would Grace do? What would Eliot say? What would Louisa think? It helped me to get to know them all, and to make sure that they were complete characters.

When I’m writing, some characters appear ready-made, and very easy to predict.  Others, I have to work to get to know – just like real people, I suppose.  If it’s too difficult to decide what a character would do or say in a given situation, or if I start being lazy and just imagining what I would do, then I force myself to have a long think about who the character is: what hundreds of traits they are made up of, and how these combine to make them who they are. 

I think the reason some characters, from page and screen, translate so well into our lives is that they are so much like real people. The Austen-lovers’ phrase What would Jane do? is a popular one for a reason. 

Well?  What would Jane do?

It’s a tricky one because she’s not a character. I know what Darcy would do though: he’d fluff whatever he was trying to say, seem a bit arrogant but be there for me in the end.  I know what Carrie Bradshaw would do: she’d order us some cosmos and then talk about herself all night, but somehow get away with it.

Darcy and Carrie (imagine that dinner party!) might not do the right things in the imaginary situations we thrust upon them, but that’s the whole point: they are just like real people.  Good characters have quirks, flaws, redeeming qualities, things that they hate, things that they love.  And by the end of the book or the boxset, we know about 90% of these.  The rest – things that happened before we began watching, or in between paragraphs, or after the book ended – we can easily predict because of everything we do know.

That’s why the dinner party between Darcy and Carrie is so much easier to imagine than it should be…"

Thanks so much, Hannah!

20 March 2014

Book Review: Spare Brides by Adele Parks

"New Year's Eve, 1920. The Great War is over and it's a new decade of glamorous promise. But a generation of men and women who survived the extreme trauma and tragedy will never be the same. 

With countless men lost, it seems that only wealth and beauty will secure a husband from the few who returned, but lonely Beatrice has neither attribute. Ava has both, although she sees marriage as a restrictive cage after the freedom war allowed. Sarah paid the war's ultimate price: her husband's life. Lydia should be grateful that her own husband's desk job kept him safe, but she sees only his cowardice.

A chance encounter for one of these women with a striking yet haunted officer changes everything. In a world altered beyond recognition, where not all scars are visible, this damaged and beautiful group must grasp any happiness they can find - whatever the cost."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Spare Brides as a paperback or an eBook now.

I've been a huge fan of Adele Parks' chick lit novels that she has released over the previous few years. When I was younger and reading her books, I found myself struggling with them but now I love them and look forward to her new release each year. However, Adele has decided to do something a bit different this year with the release of her new book Spare Brides. This is Adele's first dabble in historical fiction, set in the years after World War One, and examining life in that period. I was hoping that I'd enjoy it as much as her other books that I've loved so much, and luckily I needn't have worried - it was a fantastic, absorbing read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Lydia is pleased that her husband's desk job kept him safe during the Great War - he did his service but Lydia can't help but feel that he was a coward staying at home instead of fighting on the front line. One of her closes friends Sarah paid the highest price in the war, leaving her a widow and single mother in one fell swoop. Behind the scenes she's struggling, but puts on a front that she's coping to all. Her sister Beatrice has neither a husband or boyfriend, and is wondering where she is going to be left in terms of society now she is getting older. She worries a lot for her brother who was left terribly wounded in the war, with life-changing injuries, but knows he doesn't want her help long-term. The women have all got burdens to bear, related to the war and those not, but will any of them find an ultimate happiness in amongst their sorrow and strife?

This book was a very interesting read from start to finish. At first, I did find that there were quite a few characters to get my head around, and it took me a while to solidify in my head who was who, and what their situation was. Sarah, Ava, Beatrice and Lydia seemed to mould into one for a while, but as the story progressed and I got to know the women better, it became easier to read and I didn't struggle with it as much. Adele's writing was as good as ever, it flowed beautifully and her descriptions of everything from the houses and land, to the women's dresses, emotions and everything else was brilliant. I could vividly imagine everything happening on their pages as if it were in front of me, it felt very atmospheric.

I don't really want to talk about the plot too much, as the beauty of this book was reading what happens for the women as their story progresses and they start to come to terms with their lives now the war is over. It's affected them all in many different ways, and I felt Adele Parks really puts across their desperation, sadness and hope too, very well and you end up hoping that the women will all find their own happiness in some way in the end. The men of the book were interesting too, quite a sideline in the book really but all those mentioned really represented the many actions of the war and how they were left affected by it, whether they'd been on the front line or not. In this respect, it was quite hard to read at times, knowing that people really did go through these horrors, but again Parks' writing was brilliant and made it easier to read.

For me, this is a great first historical novel from Adele Parks, and she has proved that she can switch genres and make it as much of a success as her other novels which is great news for her fans. I don't usually read historical fiction, but this book opened up my mind, and certainly makes me want to read more on the topic. Parks has created an intriguing world with these characters, all likeable in their own way, but have you questioning some of their decisions too - what are they driven by, is it despair, hope for the future, or just a feeling that they are pleased to have survived a national tragedy? I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I hope it's stunning cover entices more and more people to pick it up and enjoy it as much as I have done. Brilliant.

19 March 2014

Book News: Carry You by Beth Thomas

Beth Thomas is a debut author, and her brand new first novel Carry You is due out on April 24th. I love the cover, it's so pretty, and although the premise of the book sounds quite sad, I hope that the story inside will be a bit uplifting with a good message! I'm looking forward to reading this.

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

"Daisy has lost her mum to breast cancer. She’s at rock bottom and doesn’t think she’ll ever get back up again. Her best friend Abi has other ideas – she tells it like it is and she’s determined to make Daisy remember the person she used to be.

What Daisy doesn’t know is that, thanks to Abi, her life is about to take an unexpected turn, when she signs them up to do a charity walk. Added to which, someone is about to burst into Daisy’s world in a riot of colour reminding her that life can be full of surprises."

15 March 2014

eBook Review: The Best Thing I Never Had by Erin Lawless

"Five years ago at university they had been seven friends that laughed hard and loved harder.

Nicky and Miles were the couple that were always meant to be… Leigha and Adam, not so much…

So when Adam and Harriet grew close during endless days in the library, they did the one thing that changed everything – they kept a secret. And when it came out, it all fell apart.

When the day comes for bridesmaids to be chosen and best men to fulfil drunken promises, Nicky and Miles’ wedding isn’t just a wedding, it’s a reunion – loaded with past hurts, past regrets, past loves…

The Best Thing I Never Had is in turns funny and sad, but always honest, about friendship in all its forms and the practicality of second chances."

Rating: 2/5

You can buy The Best Thing I Never Had as an eBook now or pre-order as a paperback.

Sometimes, you see a book being raved about on Twitter and other book reviews sites and think that yo're missing out on something. This was the case with Erin Lawless' debut eBook publihsed by Harper Impulse. I had lots of bloggers I respect raving about it, so I thought I had better aet around to reading it on my Kindle as soon as I could. Well, I'll be honest. I started it back in January but gave up because I found it such hard work. I decided to come back to a few weeks ago to give it another go, but although I finished it this time round, I feel I really had to work at it and it wasn't an enjoyable read at all - I wonder what's wrong with me that I didn't find it anywhere near as amazing as other reviewers have made it out to be?! What am I missing?!

The book follows the friendship a group of people during their University days. In the present day, Miles and Nicky are getting married, and are determined to get the gang back together for the wedding, despite the past strifes that happened at University. There's Leigha and Adam, Harriet, Suki and Johnny. They all had a big fallout at University, and it's stayed with all of them ever since. Nicky and Miles are determined that everyone will be at their wedding, and hopefully be able to talk through the past betrayals and secrets that destroyed their friendships all those years ago. But are things in the past best left there...?

As you can see, there is quite a few characters within the story, and here lies my main issue with the book. It dived straight into the story, with a quick modern day update of what Nicky and Miles are up to, then it flies back to 2006, during the group's University days and we're suddenly introduced to all these other characters. Honestly, I had no idea who was who, who liked who and who I was meant to like and who I wasn't. It was far too confusing, and that's why I gave up. There are authors I've read who can manage a big cast list of characters, but for me, Lawless is definitely not one of them. She went in far too quickly, instead of giving her reader time to get to know these people. By the end of the book, the only ones I can really say I liked were Harriet and Nicky. That's it. The rest either didn't pique my attention because there were too many others or I just immensely disliked them.

That's another problem I had with the book. I didn't like the people in it. Because I didn't care about them, I didn't care about their story or what was going to happen at the end. Even Harriet and Adam, the big supposed love story of the book - I wasn't hoping for their happy ever after at the end as I usually am when I'm reading. None of these people were nice people! Harriet and Adam's friends in particular were just awful. Leigha is one of the most selfish, awful people I have EVER read in any book, EVER. Suki isn't much better, completely self-absorbed and nasty. Johnny, bless him, was a bit of a wet rag and I do wish he could have grown a bit of a backbone.Miles and Nicky were a bit beige for me, I kept forgetting they were there because they didn't really do anything. Finally, there's Harriet and Adam, who I enjoyed reading about but I didn't like the way they kept their relationship hidden - why?

As the book moves from the group's University days to the present day, I found myself not caring a great deal about what was going to happen next. As the wedding approached, I expected to feel a bit excited at getting the group back together again but I didn't. I was reading simply to finish this very long-winded book. Sadly, this was not for me at all. I really cannot fathom why other people have raved about this. I was expecting so much and was left disappointed by what I had read. Too many characters, too many unlikeable characters at that and a long-winded story didn't add to something I can recommend at all. I've had a few tweets from others saying they gave up on it too so I know it's not just me, but it still leaves me wondering if I missed something here. Either way, not a book for me.

14 March 2014

Book Review: It Felt Like A Kiss by Sarra Manning

"Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn't have fallen in love with?

Ellie Cohen has it all. A great job at a swank Mayfair art gallery, loyal mates, loving family and really, really good hair. Well, almost - there's the mega-famous, rock-star father who refuses to acknowledge her and a succession of challenging boyfriends (which she calls 'fixer-uppers', her friends call 'losers'), but nobody's perfect.

Then a vengeful ex sells Ellie's secrets and a pack of lies to the press. Suddenly she's no longer the girl most likely to succeed, but a girl whose world is falling to pieces. For the first time in her life, Ellie can't deal - she's fighting to keep her job, her reputation and her sanity. So it's a relief when David Gold, her father's ruthlessly ambitious lawyer, arrives to manage the crisis - and Ellie. David might be handsome and charming, but he thinks she's a gold-digger and Ellie thinks he's a shark in a Savile Row suit.

'Strategic damage limitation' aren't the three little words Ellie wants to hear, so it's just as well that falling in love is the last thing on her mind."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy It Felt Like A Kiss as a paperback or an eBook now.

I've read a few of Sarra Manning's books in the past, and was curious to read her latest offering It Felt Like A Kiss. It has one of my favourite book covers so far this year, such pretty colours and the setting of it is just perfect. The book was quite a chunk of a book, so I sat down hoping that I would like what I was about to read. I didn't know that one of the characters, Vaughn, who is main character Ellie's boss at the art gallery where she works, first appeared in one of Manning's earlier novels Unsticky. I don't think is a follow-on of any sort because I haven't read the other book and had no problems with following the story of this one.

Ellie Cohen loves her job working in an Art gallery. Yes, her boss is a bit of a pig but she's good at her job, so she's willing to stick it out. She's got quite a quiet life, that is until her ex-boyfriend Ritchie decides to sell a rather shocking and personal secret about Ellie to the national press. Overnight, Ellie is catapulted from unknown to unwilling celebrity, and she isn't enjoying it at all. She's fighting to keep her job,  her relationship with mum Ari on track, and to stay out of the limelight as much as possible. Ellie drafts in the help of top lawyer David Gold, but she isn't sure she can really trust him either. Ellie doesn't know where to turn next, and it turns out love is the last thing on this girl's mind...

The book starts by introducing us to Ellie Cohen, and I have to say I liked her straight away. She's a friendly, hard-working woman and the sort of person you could imagine yourself being friends with. She values her mother, her family and her best friends, but also enjoys life as well. Ellie is very trusting, and whilst this is her downfall in the end, it's a good trait to have! All through the book, I was rooting for Ellie because I did feel very sorry for her - what happened to Ellie is my worst nightmare! In a celebrity obsessed world where it seems everyone wants to get their name in the press, Ellie wants quite the opposite - a quiet life. She absolutely loathes her newfound fame and I loved her for that. It makes a refreshing change to read about, and I enjoyed reading about the ways Ellie avoided the press, and the intrusion into her life.

I also really liked reading about Ellie's relationship with her mother Ari. We get to know a little bit more about Ari through short flashbacks shown at the beginning of chapters, around the time Ari fell pregnant with Ellie and her relationship with Ellie's father too so we get an insight into her life pre-motherhood and what she is like as a person. The pair are very close, and Ari sounds like a great mum to me, in fact all of Ellie's family are pretty cool. The other characters in the book include Ellie's boss Vaughn, who is just a horrible person! He treats his staff and his wife like rubbish, and I can't say I liked him whatsoever. Ellie's best friends crop up a bit, but I wish I had seen more of them with Ellie, as the three seemed to have a great relationship.

I really enjoyed this book, and the look into Ellie's life as a very unwilling celebrity, and trying to deal with the fallout of her secret being made public and how it affects the rest of her family too. I really loved Elllie, she dealt with things really well in my opinion and I don't at all blame her for wanting to hide away from the intrusion. As I said previously, it was interesting reading a book from the flip side of celebrity - someone who hates it and wants to not be a part of it at all. The romance in the book is slow-burning and at times I wasn't sure it would have its happy ending but to me, it felt perfect and was so well written. Reading Ellie and David getting to know each other quickly due to the strange situation they found themselves in was interesting, I found myself not wanting to put the book down! It was a great read, a very real and emotional story, and I'm looking forward to reading more of Sarra Manning's novels. Recommended!

13 March 2014

Book News: Two Weddings and a Baby by Scarlett Bailey

One of my favourite authors Scarlett Bailey is back, and this time with a summer novel! I've really enjoyed Scarlett's previous festive books so I'm sure this one will be just as good! The cover for this book, called Two Weddings and a Baby is so summery, and it sounds great too, I cannot wait to read it. It's due out on 19th June 2014.

You can pre-order Two Weddings and a Baby as a paperback or an eBook now.

"Tamsyn appears to have it all. A lush apartment in Paris, a job working at the best design agency and a hot boyfriend - albeit a secret one.

But after five years away she's back to her quiet hometown to celebrate her brother's wedding. Cue a flood, the discovery of a mystery newborn and the impossible task of rustling up a wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses in only a few days.

And then there's Jed Edwards, the attractive priest, whom she can't help but keep running into. Suddenly Poldore is looking a lot more appealing than her glamourous life in Paris. But will she have enough faith to risk it all on someone she just met?"

10 March 2014

Author Article: Nic Tatano

Today, I am really pleased to welcome the lovely Nic Tatano to my blog for an author article! Nic's novels Wing Girl and Boss Girl have both been published by Harper Impulse, and I have loved both of them! Nic was kind enough to write me an article about his latest book Boss Girl and it's a great read! If you haven't read Nic's books yet, then you are missing out and I recommend you grab one of them on eBook asap!

My hugest thanks go to Nic for taking the time to write this for me.

You can buy Boss Girl as an eBook now!


I’d been talking to a friend, a female television anchor who wanted to find a new job but was worried she was “too old.”

She was in her late thirties.

Television news may strive for diversity, but the oldest double standard still exists. Male anchors must be older and distinguished. Female anchors must be young and gorgeous. Sounds like something from the Mad Men era.

“It's a shame,” I said to her, “that you never see an anchor team with an older woman and younger man.”

And as soon as I got off the phone, I knew I’d come up with a concept for a novel. I’d seen plenty of credible women passed over for young pageant fembots who might have trouble spelling IQ. It was time to reverse the process, even in a fictional setting. It was time for an entire network and its affiliates to use that template for every newscast. Credible, smart, attractive middle-aged woman sharing the anchor desk with a smoking hot younger guy. A brain for the male anchor not a requirement.

So I had a concept. But not a plot. No problem. I started to do what I’ve always done.

It was time to wing it.

Now I know plenty of writers who do detailed outlines before they write one word of a manuscript. Some have rooms that look like a sticky note factory exploded, with slips of paper detailing every chapter and character. Others have a whiteboard with arrows going all over the place connecting characters and events resulting in something that resembles a formula drawn by a rocket scientist. A few have stacks of index cards with every scene in detail.

But I’ve always believed the plot is already in your subconscious. Your muse simply has to help you get it out. I love writing this way because I like to be surprised as much as the reader. What’s the fun of writing a great plot twist if you already know it’s coming?

Usually when I write a novel I have a concept, a beginning and an end. But I have no earthly idea how I’ll get to that ending.

In this case I had a beginning and a concept, but no end. Whatever. I was so excited by the idea I started to write Chapter One, and by the end my intelligent thirtysomething network executive Sydney Hack had hired her first hot male anchor who otherwise might have had a career as a very attractive doorstop. And by then I also had my ending. (Don’t worry, I hate spoilers, so you’ll get no hints here.) The middle would be filled with female television executives turning the broadcasting industry upside down with great success. Yes, I went over the top with their actions, but only to illustrate how ridiculous the double standard is. Men have been acting this way for years.

Twenty-nine days later, I had a novel. And as I suspected, the entire plot was in my subconscious, surprising me along the way. Things I’d written in the early chapters amazingly became key plot points toward the end of the book. It always seems to work out that way, at least for me.

Maybe Boss Girl will start a real life trend in broadcasting, one which is certainly overdue. Till that day you can enjoy the fictional escapades of women who know what they want and take no prisoners along the way.

Book News: Thirteen Weddings by Paige Toon

Yippee!! Paige Toon is back :) I've only just read her brand new Young Adult novel The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson but that makes me even more excited for her brand new adult novel Thirteen Weddings! It's due out on May 22nd, so not long to wait, thank goodness! I love Paige's books, they really are one of the highlights of my reading year so I can't wait to dive into this one!

You can pre-order Thirteen Weddings as a paperback or an eBook now!

"Last year, Bronte left Sydney for a wedding in England, where she met newly single Alex. After a night of passion they parted ways, and Bronte returned to Australia. Now working on a picture desk for a magazine in London, Bronte is about to meet her new colleague, who turns out to be all too familiar. Although awkward at first, as Alex is now engaged to the girl he was on a break from when they met, they soon become friends. In her free time, Bronte is a wedding photographer, so Alex enlists her to do his wedding. Unable to refuse, Bronte is stuck with the job. But as the two get closer, and the wedding day looms, it is clear that Alex and Bronte have unfinished business… Will Alex leave his bride at the altar, or will Bronte be forced to photograph the wedding of the man she herself should be marrying? "

6 March 2014

Book Review: Diary of an Unsmug Married by Polly James

"What happens to love when life gets in the way?

Meet Molly Bennett. Married to Max and mother to two warring teenagers, she’s just ‘celebrated’ a significant birthday. According to Bridget Jones Molly is a “smug married”. So why doesn’t she feel smug?

Is it because everyone seems to be having a better time of it than her? Or is it that Max has started taking more of an interest in ‘business trips’ and less of an interest in their sex life? Molly is beginning to despair until an old school friend starts flirting with her through Facebook …"

Rating: 2.5/5

You can buy Diary of an Unsmug Married as a paperback or an eBook now.

Diary of an Unsmug Married is author Polly James' debut novel with publisher Avon. I was pleased to receive a review copy, as it sounded like something I might enjoy. I quite like realistic looks at life as a busy mum, and diary style books can appeal to me too. However, I have to be honest in my reviews, as always, and sadly this book just wasn't one for me. While there were parts I enjoyed, I wished there were far more of them rather than the politics of Molly's job which is littered all over the book. But here's why I wasn't sold on Diary of an Unsmug Married.

Molly Bennett is married to Max, mother to two teenagers and work for a local MP as a glorified secretary. She feels like she's stuck in a rut, there's no spark between her and Max anymore, her job is never dull but isn't exactly what she always dreamt of doing, and her kids are nothing but a worry. Perhaps it's just Molly - maybe everyone else is just fine pottering along in life. But when she receives a random email from an old school friend, Molly wonders how different her life could be if she made some radical choices. But is Molly willing to put her family life at risk to pursue a different kind of happiness...?

I wanted to enjoy this book. It sounded like a great premise and like something I would really enjoy reading, but alas it was not to be. Although I liked the character of Molly, I found her to be quite warm and funny as a narrator, and I cared about what she was saying in her diary too, I just found some of it utterly dull and it didn't intrigue me at all. Molly's job was the worst bit of the book without a doubt. Molly works for a local MP, answering his letters, his phonecalls and generally making sure he isn't putting his foot in it 24/7. Whilst there are a few amusing moments, the majority of it didn't interest me at all. In fact, I'd say probably as much as 75% of the book is set at the office - way too much for me, I wanted to see much more of Molly's family life and I think this is where I was disappointed.

There wasn't enough interaction in the book between Molly and Max to make me actually care about their relationship, and the fact that Molly might want to have an affair with her old school friend. I didn't care because I wasn't invested enough in them as a couple to feel anything which was disappointing. The fleeting scenes that they were together in passed by too quickly. There also wasn't a huge mention of Molly's children, so again, a lack of relationship development there too. In fact, Molly's most carefully accounted for relationships in the book were with her boss, and her colleague Greg! I realise when you're working, you do spend a large majority of time with your colleagues and not your family, but I just felt this book had the balance entirely wrong, for me anyway.

I took quite a while getting into the book, although I usually quite like a diary-style narrative in a book. I did find Molly's narration easy to read, and Polly James writes well, but I found the areas of Molly at work dragged on too long and my interest began to wane quite quickly. I was determined to stick it out, but the work part of Molly's life continues to dominate the book. The story with her online flirting didn't really interest me either, in fact it rather made me cringe because it just didn't seem to flow well and I couldn't believe Molly could be so silly as to fall for the drivel coming through her computer screen. Unfortunately, this wasn't a book for me, and that's a shame because I had high hopes for it. I was just uninterested in Molly's job, despite the odd few chuckles, and I found the book was just bogged down in it. It needed more of a balance as I enjoyed some of the scenes with Molly and Max at home, and her quite amusing musings about Max having an affair with their neighbour! As I said though, not for me, the downsides did outweigh the bad, sorry!

4 March 2014

Author Interview: Hannah Beckerman

Today, I am thrilled to welcome the lovely Hannah Beckerman to my blog for a Q&A! I recently read Hannah's debut novel with Penguin called The Dead Wife's Handbook, and what an emotional rollercoaster it was! A beautifully written account of a dead's wife view of her family from heaven, it is a moving and touching book that I really enjoyed, a stunningly strong debut. Hannah was kind enough to answer some of my questions, so please enjoy!

You can buy The Dead Wife's Handbook as a paperback or an eBook now.

You can read my review of The Dead Wife's Handbook here.

Q1. Please tell me about your new book The Dead Wife's Handbook

The Dead Wife’s Handbook is the story of 36-year-old Rachel, who’s dead and is narrating the story  from some sort of netherworld, where she’s afforded sporadic access to watch the lives of the living, not least those of her husband, Max and seven-year old daughter, Ellie. The book is about love and loss and how both Rachel and the people she’s left behind have to come to terms with their grief and with life moving on.

Q2. Obviously, the book is about a very emotive subject. What made you decide to choose this topic for your debut novel?

It wasn’t so much that I chose it for my debut novel as it chose me! Once Rachel as a character was in my head I just knew that I had to tell her story.  Also, I’m a pretty emotional and analytical person myself so I think it was always quite likely that might writing would be emotive too.

Q3. The book is written from a unique perspective - that of the dead wife, Rachel, herself. How hard was it to write this book, and where did you get the idea for writing it from Rachel's point of view?

The idea came from talking to a friend about the news that her ex-husband had started a relationship with a new woman. My friend confided that she felt concerned about her ex-husband sharing all her secrets with his new partner, and it got me thinking about how that’s probably quite a common anxiety. And then I got to thinking about the most extreme example of that, and hence the idea originated of a dead wife, looking down on her husband as he makes his first forays back into the dating world, and all of the complicated emotions that might evoke.

Q4. How did you feel when you signed your publishing deal with Penguin? What's been your favourite part of the publishing process for The Dead Wife's Handbook so far?

The Dead Wife’s Handbook was sold to Penguin a fortnight before I was due to give birth to my daughter so it was a pretty emotional time all round. I remember getting the email from my agent to say that Penguin were going to offer, and just reading it and re-reading thinking, ‘Really?!’

I think my favourite part of the publishing process so far has been becoming part of the book community online. The blogging community has been so welcoming and I’ve loved being a part of it and getting to know so many brilliant people. And I’ve met (virtually!) loads of great people across the publishing industry. I’ve found it an incredibly supportive and collegiate place, which I really value and is very refreshing.

Q5. What sort of books do you like reading yourself?

I like a book either to make me think, laugh or cry. There are so many great books in the world that I get a bit frustrated if a book can’t make me do at least one of those things (and the best books, in my opinion, make you do all three). I read mostly contemporary fiction - people like Nicole Krauss, Sarah Waters, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes... but if I carried on listing all my favourite authors we’d be here for a very long time!

Q6. What do you do when you aren't writing?

Not much at the moment, in all honesty. I’m looking after my 16-month old daughter full-time, so am fitting in writing in the very early hours of the morning, during her lunch-time nap, in the evenings and at weekends. So we tend just to have one family day a week together and mostly we see friends or family. But when I have a bit more free time I like long, lazy lunches with friends, country walks, travelling and movies. And reading, of course.

Q7. Have you enjoyed using social media as a way to connect with your readers so far? What are the benefits and the downfalls for you?

See question 4! Yes, I’ve loved it. It’s really tapped me into a community I didn’t even know existed a year ago.

The benefits are manifold: meeting lots of people who are passionate about books in the way I am, getting great book recommendations, chatting about everything from books to babies and everything in between. And the Twitter community in particular was genuinely an incredible source of support to me in the run-up to the publication of The Dead Wife’s Handbook: having your first novel published is a pretty scary event (as well as being incredibly exciting) but it was made so much less anxiety-inducing by the bloggers’ involvement and support.

The only downside, really, is that I’ve become so involved in the Twitter community that I find it hard ever to turn Twitter off. That’s just about manageable when I’m pottering around with a little one, but I need to get better at turning it off when I’m actually supposed to be writing.

Q8. Are you working on your next book yet? Can you tell us anything about it?

I am indeed. I’ve done the first draft and am just working on the second draft (aka my agent’s notes) at the moment. The subject is still under wraps for the time being but I promise that you’ll be one of the first to know!

3 March 2014

eBook Review: Boss Girl by Nic Tatano

"Sydney Hack is the single, thirtysomething VP of news for a failing network… and she also has a taste for younger men.

She soon realizes a whole lot of over-thirty female viewers do as well, so she sets out to give these women what they want; a chiseled, trophy buck in his twenties sitting on the anchor desk next to a woman…




With nothing to lose she does the unthinkable; along with three female managers who happen to be her best friends she brings out the casting couch and turns it into a sleeper sofa. Doesn't matter that the men have no television experience. As long as they look good. And there’s a hint of romance in every newscast.

Ratings skyrocket as a result, but Sydney and her female cohorts discover something else along the way…

True love is not always age appropriate."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Boss Girl as an eBook now.

I read and loved Nic Tatano's debut novel Wing Girl last year, it's refreshing to have a men in the women's fiction market, and one who writes so brilliantly for women too. I was thrilled to see that he was bringing the series back with 'Boss Girl' last month, and another is coming in May entitled 'It Girl'. Nic Tatano is clearly an upcoming voice in the market, and with his brilliant covers courtesy of Harper Impulse and his fantastic stories as well. Boss Girl was a book that surprised me a little, it wasn't what I was expecting from it at all but I enjoyed it nonetheless, although I can forsee that this topic matter isn't going to be for everyone!

Sydney is an upcoming TV executive, and she is very good at her job. She gets the ratings up for the TV channel she works for and they turn a blind eye to what she gets up to in her own time. Sydney realises the way to get a new market to watch their show is by giving the demographic exactly what they want - a hunky young man presenting alongside an older, more experienced female co-anchor. Sydney, together with her 3 best friends who also happen to be executives at the channel, start up a new side to their business - a casting couch with a difference. As the TV ratings begin to rise, Sydney knows she's got it right but there's trouble lurking around the corner...

Straight up, this book is full of sex. If you don't like reading about such topics, or don't like occasionally vivid sex scenes, then this is probably one eBook that you aren't going to want to read. The book also challenges a lot of people's perceptions. The premise of the story revolves around 4 female executives sleeping with potential male anchors for their TV channel to see if they are good in bed and if so, they get the job. Also, the female anchor they choose gets to sleep with the male co-star whenever they feel the need. There's a lot of loose morals going on here, and I was pretty shocked with the amount of bed-hopping and man-swapping that goes on in this book. While I was shocked, I didn't find it too distasteful but it certainly made me think about exactly how much of this book could  be based on reality...

One of Tatano's strengths is how brilliantly he writes a strong female lead. Sydney Hack is fantastic, she's not afraid to go after the men that she wants for the TV show, and isn't afraid to "trial them" either. She sees no wrong in what she's doing, and will defend her job and decision to the end, if that's what it takes. But for me, what makes this book so great was the presence of another 3 very strong women, Sydney's fellow executives: Jillian, Neely and Rica. Each of them brings something to the table,whether it's attitude, personality or stunning looks, and they use it to their advantage. The women are honest - they know what they want and how to get it - and also want to be incredibly in their careers too. I liked them all, although Sydney was my favourite.

For some, the idea of the book just won't appeal. At first, I found it a bit uncomfortable, knowing that the couples slipped off upstairs to have sex in the loft whenever they fancied, how they all swapped partners and positively encouraged each other to do so, and how they rated the men's potential on how good they were in bed. It seemed wrong in some way, yet I have to agree that it made for entertaining reading at times! The male characters in the book were great too, they were treated as bits of meat pretty much, and they knew it. They seemed to have no objections either... why would they!? Shawn was my favourite by a long way, he seemed to have the most going for him outside of the bedroom, but the men aren't the focus of their story at the end of the day.

As well as being a book about sex in the workplace, and using it to get ahead, it's a fascinating insight into the life of a working news channel. I really enjoyed the ins and outs we get to see of Sydney and her fellow executives doing their jobs and managing a successful TV station, using the new set-up of an older female anchor and young male co-star to their advantage, and turning world perceptions on its head. Tatano's writing is on the money, fun and fresh, and really easy to read. His characters jump out of the page into your mind, and everything comes alive as you're reading. The storyline was interesting, and I liked the twists and turns along the way, a lot of them quite unexpected - I certainly didn't know whether Sydney and co would have a happy ending at the end! I'm really excited to read Nic's next book It Girl and hope it'll be another fantastic read, this one certainly was!