31 May 2012

Book News: Lauren Weisberger writes 'The Devil Wears Prada' sequel

"HarperCollins is to publish the sequel to the bestselling The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger, to be released in April 2013.

HarperFiction publishing director Lynne Drew bought UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, in the follow-up, Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns, through Vivienne Schuster at Curtis Brown on behalf of Sloan Harris of ICM in the US where the book will be published by Simon & Schuster. The book has been under contract as part of a multi-book deal, but it was not known if Weisberger would write a sequel.

The story is set eight years after heroine Andy Sachs has escaped Runway magazine and its editor, Miranda Priestly. Andy is editing the Plunge bridal magazine and works alongside her old Runway colleague Emily and is about to marry Max, the scion of a media company. However, Andy is still haunted by her days at Runway, and she soon finds herself back in Miranda's path.

Drew said: "We had enormous fun and huge success publishing The Devil Wears Prada and I'm thrilled to be once more encountering the world of glossy mags, Miranda Priestly and our favourite heroine, Andy Sachs, with a novel set to be one of the big summer reads of 2013."

I loved the book when I first read it quite a few years ago now, and thought for once Hollywood actually did a great movie adaptation with it starring Anne Hathaway and the ever-amazing Meryl Streep, so I'm looking forward to catching up with these characters again, only got 11(!) months to wait...

Taken from The Bookseller.

Author Interview: Alison Lucy

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Alison Lucy, author of new book The Summer of Secrets for an author interview! I recently reviewed Alison's book which is the perfect summer read, and am looking forward to reading many more from her! Please enjoy the interview, and my hugest thanks go to Alison for answering my questions.

Q1. Tell me about your new book The Summer of Secrets.

The story came from a desire to write about a dream house, a place overlooking the sea in a hot country, with a big veggie garden and an outdoor kitchen.  The sort of place you imagine yourself running away to when the pressures of modern life or heartbreak get too much.  In the book the house - Featherbow - is left to three sisters, none of whom know about each other, and when they all go looking for their legacy they find a family.  There's plenty of romance and a dash of mystery too.

Q2. The book is set in sunny Mexico - is this somewhere you have been yourself, and how much research does it take to write a place realistically? What do you find is the best form of research for something like this?

In case it's not clear by now, I love Mexico!  It made a huge impression on me when I first ventured there as a teenager and I have to resist the urge to holiday there to the exclusion of everywhere else. I have been drawn to books, articles or recipes written about Mexico since I first went there, so I felt fairly well prepared to write about the country I love.  For a more detailed understanding of the traditions such as the Quinceanera (a girl's fifteenth birthday) or how to order coffee in Mexico City I love to fish around on facebook or blogs to try and find real life experiences and interesting details.

Q3. You've published this book under your married name of Alison Lucy. What made you decide to finally change your name on your books?

I have got married, that's true, but Alison Lucy is not my married name.  I have a new publisher and everybody felt it was a good time for a reboot.  A lot has changed for me personally in the seven years since I was first published and as Alison Bond never really popped as a well-known name in women's fiction there is no practical reason for me to hang on to the name.

Q4. You're with a relatively new imprint for this book - Canvas Books. Are you excited to be working with a fresh, new publisher?

I was very interested to see what the differences would be between the old place and this sparkly new one.  The most surprising thing is how much is actually the same.  People in publishing are -  in my experience - enthusiastic, switched-on lovers of books of all kinds, which makes them fairly cool people to work with.  They make it easy to love what you do.  Canvas are a breath of fresh air, coming into the women's fiction market just as Kindle takes off and revitalises the entire genre.

Q5. You must be thrilled with the cover for this book after the not-so-great cover you had for a previous book. Did you have much say in this cover, and how did you feel when you first saw the cover for The Summer of Secrets?

When I first saw the cover I thought 'wow' and then I thought '80's' and then I thought 'beach.'  I loved it.  The colours, the sailboat, the tagline, the font.  I have nothing bad to say about it, and yes, given that a previous cover reduced me to tears I was over the moon.  It's ace.

Q6. How do you feel about the bashing that chick lit takes in the press, and about the so-called 'Death of chick lit'?

I really don't understand it.  Honestly, I have found the only people who use the phrase chicklit are those who write it, those who read it, and those who sell it.  Everybody else looks at me blankly if they ask what I write until I add 'romance'.  It's like we are bashing our own shorthand.  I have never had it levelled at me as a derogatory or dismissive way, and even if I had I would like to think it's a horses-for-courses situation.   The word 'chick' as a substitue for 'woman' is not clever, but it's not aggresive or vile.  Then after the latest little wave (ripple?) of 'chicklit is dead' press the chart is stuffed with Jojo Moyes and Katie Fforde.  I would like the conversation to move on.

Q7. You're active on Twitter (@alisonlucy and @bondgirluk) - how important do you think social networking is for authors, and do you enjoy the interaction with your fans?

When I worked in an office you probably would have callled me 'the chatty one'  (possibly the annoying one).  I worked with a lot of interesting people and I had to close my office door to get any serious work done.  Twitter is like that for me, I can go on there and find out what's going on in the real world from time to time, but it is easy to close the door and get on with it.

Q8. What do you enjoy doing when you aren't writing?

We recently moved out to the country to be near Mum and Dad and I have thrown myself into village life, community groups, fete committee, award winning tomato plants.  You name it, I'm all over it.

Q9. What are some of your own favourite chick lit books? Who are your favourite authors of all time?

I love Rachel's Holiday, I love Helen Fielding, I have been a massive Jackie Collins fan since I was fifteen.  My favourite authors of all time is a complicated question, so much depends on my mood, but I have been fascinated by Lucy Irvine and her real life tales of castaway adventures for a very long time, and I am a big Tales of the City fan too.

Q10. Finally, are you working on a second novel for Canvass?

I am, and I really should get back to it.  Thank you for the questions, Chloe, I enjoyed answering them.

30 May 2012

Book News: The Beach Holiday by Anita Hughes

Anita Hughes' debut novel The Beach Holiday is one I've been looking forward to for a while, because it sounds so good! The cover is gorgeously summery and is perfect for a great beach read. It's out on July 19th through Ebury, and I can't wait to read it!

"Have you ever wanted to escape?

When Amanda finds her French husband wrapped around his sous-chef, her perfect life comes crashing down. Worse, Andre seems to think she should just accept his infidelity and carry on as normal for the sake of their young son, Max. 

Devastated by his betrayal, Amanda accepts her mother's offer of an holiday and runs away with Max to an exclusive resort in Laguna Beach. 

The St. Regis Hotel is heaven on earth and Max is having the time of his life. But while Amanda knows she should be using the time to think about what she wants, her life gets more complicated by a meeting with a handsome older man..."

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

29 May 2012

Book Review: The Summer of Secrets by Alison Lucy

"One heady summer. Three big secrets. 1989: Newlyweds Danny and Harriet arrive at their honeymoon paradise in the Caribbean. Days later Harriet returns home. Danny is left distraught but finds comfort in the arms of two women. Nine months later, three baby girls are born... 2010: Megan leaves her childhood sweetheart behind in the UK to go in search of her long-lost father. Miles from home and temptation is at every corner - not least in the arms of the gorgeous Ray... Esmé, a Mexican beauty, married Miguel at fifteen. In unlocking the secrets of her past, can she shed the shackles of her enforced marriage? Claudia has led a life of privilege but she's never really known what it feels like to be loved. Could David be the answer? Or will he disappoint her, just like her mother always did? Three women set off on an adventure to uncover the secrets surrounding their missing father. It may be the only way to lay their demons to rest but seeking out the truth could tear their lives apart."

Rating: 4/5

I've been excited to read this new book from Alison Lucy for a while now. I've loved her previous titles released under the name of Alison Bond, so I knew that even though she's changed to her married name, the stories would still be as good and really enjoyable. The cover for this book is gorgeous, really summery and evocative, and the story inside sounded like it was going to be an interesting read as well! Mexico isn't a setting I have read much about in chick lit before, so I was curious to see how Lucy would portray the place, and if she could make it sound like a summer paradise in my mind, something I always love when reading a seasonal book to get me in the mood for summer!

Danny and Harriet's honeymoon doesn't go to plan, and when Harriet returns back home to England just a few days into their Mexican holiday, Danny is left heart-broken and doesn't know what to do. Nine months, 3 baby girls are born and all grow up with not much idea about their father. Fast forward to 2010 and the girls are grown up. Esmé is unhappily married to Miguel, and feeling that there must be more to life than supporting her husband and brother Ray. Claudia grew up in a privileged background, but isn't close to her family, with her mother living in the UK, and Claudia in Mexico. When she finally meets a man, David, she thinks she'll finally get her happily ever after. Finally, there's Megan who grew up battling with her mother over everything, and decides on a whim to flee to Mexico to find her long-lost father. Will any of the girls meet their father, or are their journeys of discovery destined to end in tears?

I really loved the prologue to this book with Danny and Harriet - it's only short but sets the book up nicely and really lets us get to know the character of Danny well enough to care about him and his three children. I love that no secret is made of the fact he has three children too. Instead, the tension comes from wondering when and if the girls are going to meet their father, and indeed each other, as none of them realises their half-sisters exist. The book whizzes across the world, from the UK with Megan, and later Esmé and Claudia, over to Mexico again which was fantastic as it kept the book fresh and me really involved in the reading. I loved Lucy's descriptions of Mexico, it was written so vividly from the poorer parts where Esmé lived, to the more sumptuous resorts with Claudia, and I could imagine the beautiful sunshine and people in my mind easily.

The characters were really well written as well. There are quite a few of them to get your head around, especially as it's not just the main 3 girls, but the friends and family of those as well, yet I didn't really struggle  to keep up with who was who at all. I don't necessarily think I had a favourite, as there were good and bad things about each of them, but they were all as good as each other and had interesting stories that really added to the book in their own way. I loved how Lucy kept us guessing as to whether the girls would meet up or not, and I kept reading, waiting for the moment to happen and I really enjoyed that tension! The story surrounding their father Danny was a bit of a mystery too, and when you put all of these things together, it does create a fantastic book that I didn't want to put down.

With gorgeous descriptions of Mexico, and dynamic young characters that keep the book fresh with their adventures across the world, The Summer of Secrets is definitely a title you'll want to be flinging into your beach bag for your summer holidays! The hours will melt away as you devour the book, puzzling out the story, and enjoying the story that unfolds for us. I found Lucy's writing extremely easy to read and the pages flew past because I didn't want to stop reading - I needed to find out how it was going to end! The alternating chapters kept it fresh, and allows the story for each character to unfold at a good pace, and keep you guessing. This is a super beach read, and one I would highly recommend, I really enjoyed every page!

You can buy The Summer of Secrets as a paperback or an eBook now.

The eBook of The Summer of Secrets: The Early Years is currently available for free on Amazon.co.uk.

28 May 2012

Book News: All That Glitters by Ilana Fox

Ilana Fox is back this summer with her brand new book All That Glitters, and I love the gorgeous purple cover! It's out on 30th August 2012, and sounds like it's going to be a good read, I'll be looking out for this!

"Ella Aldridge seems to have it all. Married to Danny Riding, one of the Premiership's leading goal-scorers, she lives the dream - the mansion, the car, the freebie designer clothes. But Ella and Danny have a secret. Their marriage is not what is seems. Between them, it takes a lot of hard work to fool the press and the nation that they really are Love's Young Dream, when deep down Danny's desires lie elsewhere. With Ella's star in the ascendant, the world is at her feet - a TV show, a fashion column. But then she meets Johnny Cooper, the bad boy of British television. He's ruthlessly charming and sexy, and he can see through Ella's sham of a marriage in a heartbeat. Drawn into a risky, high-octane affair, Ella suddenly realises how much she has to lose and how quickly it can be taken from her?"

You can pre-order All That Glitters as a paperback now!

25 May 2012

Book Review: The Charm Bracelet by Melissa Hill

"Every charm bracelet tells a story and Holly O'Neill knows this better than most.

Many years ago she was sent one mysteriously, just a single charm attached. Some time later another charm appeared, and the same happened until the bracelet was almost full. Each charm proved significant, as if her anonymous benefactor knew she needed a little bit of magic in her life.

So when Holly stumbles across another bracelet - one that somebody else has lost - she recognises a lifetime spelt out through the charms, and knows she must try to reunite it with its owner. 

Using each charm to help discover more about the bracelet's owner, Holly gradually begins to piece together details of this other charmed life. And her quest leads her somewhere she never expected..."

Rating: 5/5

I am, and have been since I started reading chick lit, a huge Melissa Hill fan. I think I've read every single book she's published, and considering this is her 11th book and I'm still hooked, she must a pretty damn good writer! I love the way her plots unfold slowly and carefully, always giving me a surprise by the end, and how evocatively she writes, drawing you into the book with ease and making you whizz through the pages until there are none left and you have a year to wait for the next one! I was thrilled to receive a copy of her new The Charm Bracelet, it's purple cover is beautiful and the design once again really complements the title of the book which I love, it's perfect!

Holly O'Neill is living in New York, and loves her job working at a vintage store. She adores the clothes, and the stories each of them holds, and loves nothing more than making up tales for her customers about the clothes. When she finds a charm bracelet in one of the items, she's intent on reuniting it with its owner - not least because she has a charm bracelet herself which is very precious to her. Holly doesn't know who sends her the charms for her bracelet but each one represents something in her own life that is significant to her. Holly sets about the impossible - giving the bracelet back to its rightful owner without any real information to help her. Are the charms going to be the clue to giving it back to the person it belongs to?

I was thrilled straight away to see this book was set in New York, one of my favourite places in the world. Readers of Melissa's books will know her last book, Something From Tiffany's, was partly set in NYC so clearly it's a fond place for Melissa too. What I really loved about this book was the complete focus on the two charm bracelets that are so important to the stories - Holly's own bracelet, and the one she finds in the shop. Holly's story is told both in the present day, but also through the charms she has on her bracelet. Each one represents an event that is significant in her life, and as she ponders the charms, we are told more about her story, and her bringing up her son alone. It really allows us to get to know Holly well, and she was such a well created character, she was a joy to read about. She's a great, positive role model as a single mother as well which I really enjoyed reading.

Hill has a way of writing that really draws you in, and I love her descriptions of not only the intricate charms and their stories, but the setting of New York, the people and the adventures Holly gets up to on her quest to reunite the bracelet. Though Holly is the main focus of the book, we also meet another character who crops up too with his own story, and that's Greg. It isn't immediately clear how Greg factors in to the book, but he has his own story developing as the book progressed, and soon enough I was hooked into this one too, wondering what he had to do with Holly and her story, yet intrigued by his relationship with his fiancée, and the more touching one with his elderly father. In fact, I found the relationships the characters had with others in the book, Greg with his dad and fiancée, Holly with her son, her boss and her mother, all to be very realistic and well written, and Hill manages to tap perfectly into their emotions through her writing.

The book was amazing from start to finish and I loved every single page. Melissa Hill manages to keep you guessing all the way through about the charm bracelet, and the way she weaves the tale will leave you wanting more and more, until you reach the end! I've actually got a charm bracelet of my own that I haven't really worn for years, and reading this book has made me want to start collecting them again and reminiscing on the old charms. I found the storytelling to be marvellous, the way Hill flits between Holly's present day and past tales, to Greg being interwoven throughout the book, it reads smoothly and easily, with a cast of fantastic characters you will love, and not want to leave behind. I think this is one of my favourite Melissa Hill books, and is certainly one I will come back to again, and there aren't many books I can say that about. Simply a delight to read, I loved it all.

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

Picture This, Picture That: Fallen Angels by Tara Hyland

Tara Hyland's second novel Fallen Angels came out yesterday, and I have to say I really like the cover change for the new release (right)! While I liked the cover for the original publication (left), I felt it was trying too hard to be like the historical fiction covers we get, whereas the new lighter, brighter look for the paperback is far nice and would appeal to me much more. Having already read the book, I feel it suits it better too. Tara has been lucky getting 2 such pretty covers, but which is your favourite? Vote on the poll below and let me know!

surveys & polls

24 May 2012

Blog Tour Guest Post: Helen Rochfort

For the second part of Carole Matthew's blog tour at my site today, I also have a guest post from the woman who inspired Summer Daydreams, Helen Rochfort. Carole wrote the book based on Helen's life, family and designer handbags, and Helen kindly agreed to write a short piece for me! Thanks Helen.

"The idea for the book all started over a couple of glasses of wine (or three!). Carole and I had become firm friends after initially meeting over Facebook. My status picture was a snap of Barbara Cartland and Carole thought I would be a romance writer - but it was just my wacky sense of humour. She fell in love with my handbags and, over the months, we kept in touch through the internet. Then Carole asked  me to create a limited edition handbag for The Chocolate Lovers’ Club.  When we got chatting about life in general, Carole picked up on the fact that I’d had quite a lot colourful experiences as I’d tried to get my business off the ground and she felt that it would be a great story for one of her novels.  Sometimes, life really is a lot stranger and more crazy than fiction!

Carole then approached me about the idea of featuring my story in a book and I was blown away. Life was - and still is  - a crazy rollercoaster of juggling motherhood, the busy Helen Rochfort company, family, friendships and  handbags. I am still pinching myself now that a novel has been written by Carole, one of my favourite romantic comedy authors, reflecting  our experiences big and small, good and bad. It’s really weird seeing it on the page, but I’m also really pleased with it.

As the novel developed, we met up at a local Pizzeria in Hitchin - where I live - to chat through everything that I had experienced. We talked about when I’d first started out as a Fashion and Textile student right up to current experiences and stories. It was quite an emotional and therapeutic  process for me. The last ten years have been incredibly tough - we’ve had a lot of ups and downs along the way and the book is a fantastic mirror of our experiences but on a much shorter timescale. It’s great that something so wonderful and positive has come out of it. Thank you, Summer Daydreams!"

You can buy Summer Daydreams as a paperback or an eBook now.

Author Guest Post: Carole Matthews

Today I am delighted to welcome the lovely Carole Matthews as part of her blog tour for the publication of her new book Summer Daydreams. Carole kindly agreed to write a post for me on how to be a writer, and it makes for great reading! Thank you Carole, and please enjoy the post :)

"I think the process of becoming a writer starts very early in life. If you’re an only child, painfully shy and are blessed with some sort of affliction that means your peers at school can tease the buggery out of you morning, noon and night - terrible buck teeth in my case - then you are, quite frankly, off to a flying start. If your parents divorce in a hideous manner when you’re still young and, on top of that, you’re taught by nuns in an all-girl convent school, then you’re really starting to hit pay dirt. Not going on to achieve your full potential, dropping out of education to get engaged at seventeen because you think it’s ‘true lurrrve’ and then going on to suffer wide-ranging romantic loss, humiliation and, preferably two divorces of your own under your belt by the time you’re thirty, is all grist to the mill. If you wander in and out of a series of unchallenging jobs where you spend most of your time looking out of the window, thinking what might have been, I have a lot of hope for you. And, finally, if you write all this on scraps of paper, secreted round your house and your person as if your life depends on it - yet it’s never to be seen by anyone else -  or tell your tales of woe to your girlfriends at every possibly opportunity and never let the facts stand in the way of a good story, then the chances are that you are destined to become a writer.  

If you use humour to deal with difficult situations, often inappropriately, then you could well become a chicklit writer.  You don’t want to be too tortured throughout your life or you’ll end up writing misery stories and that’s well... miserable. 

The bad news is, if you’ve had a idyllic childhood, perfectly well-balanced parents, a satisfying and successful career and lovely homelife with  your first boyfriend, Steady Eddy from down the street, then  I’m sorry to say that, in the writer stakes, you are a complete loser. 

I think it helps if to ease all this suffering that you don’t go to counselling or invest of years of expensive therapy, instead you let it brew to a lovely stew inside you whilst, at the same time, pretending everything’s fine if you just stick your nose in a book. To escape into the fantasy world of novels, I have found, is a marvellous coping mechanism. Though it does sometimes result in a lot of burned dinners. 

I have Little Women and Black Beauty to thank for getting me through primary school and Holden Cauldfield  from Catcher in the Rye for letting me know I was not alone. Jackie Collins and Sidney Sheldon helped considerably with my teenage angst - or possibly gave me a lot more things to worry about. I read my way through my working day and, when I was a beauty therapist, had a book group before book groups were invented where we all swapped reading matter and my taste became more eclectic. Through the long nights of loneliness after yet another failed relationship I turned to Stephen King and Dean Koontz to make absolutely sure I was wide-eyed and terrified until dawn. 

Then with all the turmoil of angst, glamour, romance, loss and horror swirling to boiling point in my brain, along came Bridget Jones. She was funny, flawed and wore big pants. And seemed an awful lot like me. Women instantly fell in love with her and her quirky diary. For the first time in my life, I could read about someone I could relate to. Someone who wasn’t called Blaze Champagne and had diamonds dangling from every appendage. Also, for the first time, it felt as if someone might actually be interested in what I too had to say. I had an ordinary life. Now, ordinary could be funny. Now  it wasn’t just women who lived in penthouse apartments and spent their weekends on yachts that filled books. It was women like me.  

Suddenly all my years of sitting on the sidelines watching, all the troubled relationships, all the hurts and disappointment, all the dodgy jobs became very useful indeed! I poured it all out onto the page at breakneck speed. And haven’t really stopped since. 

I had a very quick route to publishing and within a year, my first book, Let’s Meet on Platform 8 came out. Now my twentieth book - Summer Daydreams -  is about to be published. The shy little girl they called ‘Bugs Bunny’ has come quite a long way. 

I feel as if my whole life, including all the wrong turns, led up to me being a writer and I believe I’ve found my proper place in the world. How many people are lucky enough to say that? Still, every day, I thank God for Bridget Jones and for orthodontics. "

Book Cover: Shopping With the Enemy by Carmen Reid

Carmen Reid is back this year with another installment in her Annie Valentine series with new book Shopping with the Enemy! I love the Annie V series so I can't wait to see what she gets up to this time. However, I do have an issue with the cover. Compared to her other covers which are gorgeous and classy looking, this looks really cheap, almost like those self-published Kindle covers you see on Amazon, so it's a shame to have something so basic looking on such an established author! Let's hope the story is still up to par though.

"The opponents: mothers vs. daughters

The battle scene: a boutique changing room

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

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

Will Annie rescue her passion for fashion?

And can mothers and daughters ever truly be friends?"

You can pre-order Shopping with the Enemy as a paperback now.

23 May 2012

Richard and Judy Summer Book Club 2012 books announced

Although I can't say I especially loved their TV shows, Richard and Judy have done a great thing for the world of books by way of their very successful set of book clubs, which happen throughout the year. Jojo Moyes' amazing novel Me Before You won the Spring Book Club award (rightfully so) and now they are back with their summer reading list. Let me know which of the books you'll be looking out for!

  • Louise Douglas - The Secrets Between Us
  • Emylia Hall - The Book of Summers
  • Erin Morgenstern - The Night Circus
  • Victoria Hislop - The Thread
  • Penny Hancock - Tideline
  • Patrick Gale - A Perfectly Good Man
  • Laura Harrington - Alice Bliss
  • Lars Kepler - The Hypnotist
  • Robert Harris - The Fear Index
  • Shelley Harris - Jubilee
Find out more information about the Book Club here, and also the offers that WH Smith will be offering on the titles throughout the summer, even better!

Book News: Killer Heels by Rebecca Chance

I love Rebecca Chance's novels, and having read all of her previous releases, I'm sure this one is going to be a super bonkbuster as well, perfect for sticking in your beach bag on holiday! I am loving the pink cover, and for once the picture of the shoe ties in with the title which is fantastic! It's out on 2nd August 2012.

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

You can pre-order Killer Heels as a paperback or an eBook now!

22 May 2012

Book Review: One Perfect Summer by Paige Toon

"'Do you still love him?' Every second of every minute of every hour of every day...Alice is18 and about to start university while Joe's life is seemingly going nowhere. A Dorset summer, a chance meeting, and the two of them fall into step as if they have known each other forever. But their idyll is shattered, suddenly, unexpectedly. Alice heads off to Cambridge and slowly picks up the pieces of her broken heart. Joe is gone; she cannot find him. When she catches the attention of Lukas - gorgeous, gifted, rich boy Lukas - she is carried along by his charm, swept up in his ambitious plans for a future together. Then Joe is there, once more, but out of reach in a way that Alice could never have imagined. Life has moved on, the divide between them is now so great. Surely it is far too late to relive those perfect summer days of long ago?"

Rating: 5/5

I absolutely adore Paige Toon's novels, and they are always one of my highly anticipated releases of the year, no matter what the story is about because I just know it's going to be an amazing read. Every single one of her books so far has been excellent, and I love the way Paige manages to bring in characters from previous books with ease, and makes a great reading experience for those of us who have read everything she's written so far. I was thrilled to get a review copy of her latest book One Perfect Summer and think the cover is gorgeous too - not as beautiful as her early covers (Johnny Be Good, Chasing Daisy, Pictures of Lily) but still it's a vast improvement on her last cover (Baby Be Mine) and I was just so excited to get a copy of it, it could have had a paper bag as the cover and I'd have read it!

One Perfect Summer introduces us to the new character of Alice. Before she leaves home to go to University, she takes one last family holiday with her parents to a holiday cottage in Dorset. All set to have a relaxing break, she doesn't count on meeting a boy that will change her life forever - Joe. Despite only knowing each other a few weeks, they embark on a passionate love affair, but it quickly all goes wrong, and Joe disappears from Alice's life, leaving her heart-broken. At university, she meets German student Lukas, and is bowled over by his charm and affection towards her, and decides to settle down with him. But with Joe always at the back of her mind, will Alice ever be able to give 100% of herself to Lukas or is that one perfect summer going to ruin the rest of her future?

I loved Alice. I'll say that straight away because I think she's the perfect heroine for the book, and made me want to keep following the story and reading on to find out what Alice was going to do next. Toon writes her as such as believable character, you can't help but feel her pain when Joe disappears, and although I really disliked her relationship with Lukas who I believed to be a weasel from the very moment we meet him, you could see why she craved a steady relationship but I wish she had admitted her feelings for Joe more. She's a very realistic character though, and one I am sure the readers of this book will really like. Lukas on the other hand was horrible, and I really disliked how he controlled Alice quite subtly, but in a way that meant she was merely going through the motions of a relationship really.

Joe is just a fantastic character. He starts off as a shy young teenager working for his awful parents at their pub in Dorset, and comes alive when he meets Alice and falls in love. Now, as I was reading, I wondered if Toon would do as she normally does in her books and somehow reference one of the other characters from her books in here, and it took a while for me to twig this one, but when I did, I thought it was a fab connection! Anyone who has read Baby Be Mine, Toon's previous novel to this should recognise the character of Joseph Striker, the Hollywood heart-throb Meg befriends when trying to work things through with Johnny Jefferson... well....that's the connection! As I say it took me a while, but when I realised, I rushed upstairs to grab Baby Be Mine and check, and I was right! I really do love that aspect of Toon's books.

The story itself was fantastic to read, and I adored the setting of beautiful Cambridge. Toon's descriptions of  the city, from the famous colleges of Cambridge to University, to Alice's job as a punter on the rivers was great, and it certainly makes me want to go back there again, it's written so beautifully it brings it alive in your mind with ease. The story has several time settings, at the beginning is pre-University for Alice, then we get back to Alice when she's at University, and then after a while it skips a few years on to when her and Lukas are moving on with their relationship, and then things really kick off. I loved the anticipation of waiting for Joe to show up again (revealed in the blurb, not a spoiler!), and was actually surprised it took as long as it did to happen. I've noticed people online complaining about the ending, but Paige has revealed that there will be a sequel to this book, most likely in 2014, so it'll be great to catch up on that ambiguous ending and find out what is going with Joe, Lukas and Alice!

As usual, Toon has written another absolute corker of a novel that will have you hooked from start to finish! I couldn't put it down once I'd started reading and honestly feel in love with Alice and Joe's story, it was so fantastically written you'll find yourself desperate for the happy ending they both deserve. Instead, we're left on a bit of a cliffhanger with a 2 year wait, but luckily, we all know it will be worth it! With a stunning setting, a fantastic set of characters and a great writing style that draws you in from the very first page, One Perfect Summer is one of those books that will be a 'keeper' on your bookshelf, and I know I'll be reading again. I especially loved the reference from Baby Be Mine  but it really was a stunning read that I can't recommend highly enough!

You can buy One Perfect Summer as a paperback or an eBook too.

Book News: Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell's brand new book Before I Met You is out soon on July 19th 2012, and it sounds very different to anything I've ever read from this author before. I wasn't too keen on the cover until I read the synopsis and saw that it matched it quite well, and I am really excited to read the book.

"Having grown up on the quiet island of Guernsey, Elizabeth Dean can't wait to start her new life in London. On a mission to find Clara Pickle - the mysterious beneficiary in her grandmother's will - she arrives in bustling and grungy 1990s Soho, filled with hope, excitement and dreams. She has the world at her feet and is ready for whatever life has to throw at her. Or so she thinks...

In 1920s bohemian London, Arlette - Elizabeth's grandmother - is starting her new life in a time of post-war change. Beautiful and charismatic, Arlette is soon drawn into the hedonistic world of the Bright Young People. But less than two years later, tragedy strikes and she flees back to Guernsey for the rest of her life.

As Elizabeth searches for Clara, she is taken on a journey through Arlette's extraordinary time in London, uncovering a tale of love, loss and heartbreak. Will the secrets of Arlette's past help Elizabeth on her path to happiness?"

You can pre-order Before I Met You as a paperback or an eBook now!

21 May 2012

Book Review: Ten Years On by Alice Peterson

Rebecca is happily married to Olly and content with her job at a glamorous London art gallery. But when tragedy strikes, she decides to move back to her childhood home in the country, hoping time will help her to heal. Joe, born in the same country town as Rebecca, had a falling out with her a decade earlier. Now he's the successful owner of a wine bar, Maison Joe, and is breaking local hearts by dating a striking actress, Peta. Rebecca finds living with her parents again a challenge. Nor is it easy to discover that Joe lives and works too close for comfort. When she sees him once more, memories rush back to haunt her, along with unanswered questions about the past. Why did they lose touch? What was Olly hiding? Can Rebecca answer those questions and move on?"

Rating: 5/5

Last year, I read and really enjoyed a book called Monday to Friday Man by an author called Alice Peterson, someone I hadn't read or heard of before. It was a fun look at strangers becoming lodgers, and a dog walking club and I really enjoyed the read. Then when I was sent a review copy of her new book, Ten Years On, I was quite excited to read it - I loved the cover with its shades of red and orange, it looks really fresh and quite different to any other covers I have seen out there too. I have to say I wasn't expecting quite the emotional rollercoaster that I got when reading the book, and thoroughly enjoyed every single page.

Rebecca thought her life was going exactly to plan, but when her husband Olly is tragically killed in a motorcycle accident, she finds everything has been turned upside-down and she doesn't know how to move on. Couple that with the fact she's just gotten some shocking news herself, and Rebecca really doesn't know where to turn, and ends up living back home with her mother and father again. Back in her home town, she surprisingly bumps into her old friend Joe, who now owns a snazzy wine bar and is dating actress Peta. But Rebecca and Joe hadn't spoken for many years, since something happened that they'd both rather forget. What is the terrible secret that the pair are hiding, and how will Rebecca be able to move on without her love by her side?

From the synopsis, you can probably tell this isn't going to be an easy read due to the main topic being the death of the main character's husband. This happens pretty early in the book, and sets us up for the rest of the story quite easily, with Rebecca then having to deal with the death of her husband, and the surprising news she gets shortly after hearing of Olly's death. What I loved about this book though is the way that the story is told. Of course, the majority of it is set in the present day but in the middle of this, we are suddenly sent back in time to Rebecca and Olly's time at university, with their friend Joe and the things that happen there. These are triggered by either memories Rebecca is having at the time, or because of something that happens in the story, and I loved how their past was being bit by bit.

The characters were all really well written, and I felt Peterson does a good job with Rebecca and handles the storyline of her grief sensitively, but with enough feeling that the reader can feel emotional along with her too. The fact she hears from Olly throughout the book is quite moving, and I found this to be a quite lovely addition. Considering the things that happen to Rebecca, she deals with them really well, and I was hoping her character would have something good happen to her. Her friend Joe was a different kettle of fish, dark and a bit mysterious, and I really liked reading about him. He's clearly a troubled person, and there was a storyline involving him and his father which was very emotional and so well written, and somehow worked with the main story too, it was certainly a good addition, and makes you think. I guessed the terrible secret Rebecca and Joe were hiding, but it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book, and found myself willing for something to happen between two characters who deserved happiness very much.

One thing about this book I loved was the detail Peterson goes into about the wine business, and how easy it is to read about. Personally, I don't drink wine as I just don't like it, but I found it fascinating to read about the things Joe and the other characters talk about, particularly on the wine-tasting course that happens in the book. Peterson has clearly done her research but presents it in a readable way that doesn't bog you down with detail but it certainly got my interest! Overall, this was a wonderful and emotional read of love, loss and picking yourself up and carrying on with the hand you've been given. It's a moral message of how important family is in your life, and Rebecca's changing relationship with her parents and sister is one I am sure a lot of us will be able to recognise in some forms. I found Peterson's writing was fantastic, and had me turning the pages until I reached the end. It deals with a sensitive topic with grace and empathy, and you'll certainly be moved by Rebecca's story. A heart-warming and touching read.

You can buy Ten Years On as a paperback or an eBook now!

Giveaway: Win a signed proof copy of Freya North's new book Rumours!

To celebrate the publication of Freya North's brand new novel Rumours, I have 2 fabulous signed proof copies of the book to giveaway to 2 lucky readers! All you have to do is complete the form below to enter, and you can even gain extra entries by completing the other requirements too to give yourself a better chance! It closes on Sunday 10th June (my birthday!!), and winners will be announced the following week. Open to UK residents only. Good luck!! Thanks to Maura at Riot Communications for organising the giveaway!

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18 May 2012

Author Guest Post: Mandy Baggot

As part of Mandy Baggot's blog tour for the release of her new book Taking Charge, I'm welcoming her with an author guest post. Take it away Mandy!

Hi Chloe, thank you so much for having me on your gorgeous website!

Today I’m going to tell you about a small town girl, living in a writing world, who took the self-publishing train going anywhere! Yes, I know they aren’t quite the lyrics as Journey wrote them but I’ve been on a rollercoaster of a journey with highs, lows and everything in between these last twelve months. It’s been almost two years since I chucked in my job at the solicitors and threw caution to the wind to become a full-time author (well you know, in between being a wife, mother, housekeeper, taxi driver etc. that comes with the territory!). Quite a lot of people thought I was completely crazy throwing away a pretty good career and a decent pay packet, for life as a struggling author surviving on good reviews and pennies alone. Other people admired my guts and determination and secretly wished they were brave enough to make the break themselves. Both sets of people had valid points! Yes, I don’t sell zillions of copies every month, yes I bring home a lot less money than I ever have before, but am I happier than ever before? YES and do I regret my decision? NO, not one bit!

So, when I first left the job I hated (rooting through dead people’s possessions, drafting Wills etc.) I never for a second thought it would be easy. However, I was quite optimistic that with the right approach I could secure an agent. WRONG! No one wanted to take me on. EEK! So, then I thought, cut out the middle man, approach the publishers. I had some great feedback, plenty of bog standard ‘no thanks’ letters, words of encouragement but ultimately they all said NO! Ouch! What could I do? Well I could re-read all the letters, make myself feel utterly miserable, sink some hardcore 5 star brandy, eat bucket loads of chips and wonder how I became such a big fat failure. Or I could swallow it down, take on board any helpful advice and toughen up. I didn’t start on this road thinking there would be a yellow brick road to success. I knew it would be hard work so why was I expecting anything else? Quick happy endings only happen in films and novels right? So I worked! I worked my little butt (well, you know, medium sized) off creating my social media platform, attending conferences and festivals, talking to other writers, becoming a member of Loveahappyending.com and then I concentrated on making my next book the best book I have ever written. And that’s when we get to Taking Charge, my new release. Self-publishing Strings Attached went really well when I compare the sales of my other self-published novels, so much so that I was fully prepared and very happy to be setting myself up for self-publishing Taking Charge. I had the launch date set (July!), I had people lined up for the blog tour (in July!) and I was cracking on with final edits. And then, rather randomly, I decided to submit to a few publishers. Five in total. What possessed me I don’t know. Some of them were new so I thought ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’, others I had heard about from other writers. But this time when I submitted, because my head was so firmly set on self-publishing, I didn’t even think again about the submission. There was no waiting for the postman, checking the email every fifth second, I really never thought about it again and carried on editing and preparing for launch day (in July!). Then the emails came back. Three of them loved the manuscript and wanted to see it all. Two wanted to take things further. I couldn’t believe it and also, I wasn’t sure what I wanted now. Here I was with offers on the table and I didn’t know whether I actually wanted to let go of my book!

Well, every story I write has a happy ending and here is where mine comes in. I decided to sign with new US publisher Sapphire Star Publishing. Taking Charge is set in America and having a publisher there was the right choice for me. They are extremely active in social media (which I love), they are approachable, encouraging and have helped me so much since we first started working together.

Having a traditional publishing contract has opened lots of doors for me already, I can now join the Romantic Novelists Association for example. But, having told you my story, I don’t feel traditional contracts are the only way a writer can find success. Hard work is the key! Write from your heart, embrace your passion and just keep writing. If you’re determined enough and willing to put in the effort then you will succeed. Don’t give up, there are happy endings out there, Lady Baggot is proof of that!

Taking Charge is out now as an eBook or a paperback!

Mandy's website: www.mandybaggot.webs.com
Sapphire Star Publishing www.sapphirestarpublishing.com

RNA Romance Novel of the Year Award winner announced

Last night, the Romantic Novelists' Association Awards 2012 were held at the RNA's Summer Party and the awards were given out! Congratulations to all the winners and those nominated in the categories, there were some hard decisions to be made so I don't envy the judges!

Hugest congratulations has to go to Jane Lovering for winning the coveted Romantic Novel of the Year award, taking over the crown from last year's winner Jojo Moyes. Her novel, Please Don't Stop The Music, published by Choc Lit won the prize over her other nominees, congratulations Jane!

The judges said:
“It was a narrow choice between Please Don’t Stop the Music and The Kashmir Shawl [Rosie Thomas] but Jane’s voice was fresh and new with an unexpected hero. It was a romance with dark undertones and it engaged with issues a lot of people recognise. Good humour throughout.”

Anne Ashurst, RNA Chairman said:
“Warmest congratulations to Jane and my personal thanks for making me hoot with laughter. What an achievement to become Romantic Novelist of the Year with one's first novel for talent-spotting publishers Choc Lit! A great read and well-deserved success.”

17 May 2012

Book Review: Recipe for Love by Sasha Wagstaff

"Summer in a luxurious Italian villa should be a taste of heaven, shouldn't it? 

Talented, passionate and notoriously private, Italian chef Rocco Disanti never talks to journalists. So why, when Cassia Blake has just three months to organise her wedding, has he suddenly granted her magazine an exclusive, all-access interview? Against Cassia's better judgement, she hands the wedding planning over to her frosty mother-in-law, and flies out to Italy to spend time with Rocco. But Rocco isn't exactly looking forward to Cassia's arrival. Persuaded to do the interview to help publicise his business, he has enough on his plate with his fiery girlfriend, wedding-obsessed sister and fiercely protective grandmother. And now it seems as if someone is trying to sabotage his restaurants too... Cassia's summer in Sorrento is shaping up to be a recipe for disaster. But could it also be a recipe for love?"

Rating: 5/5

Sasha Wagstaff's last book, Heaven Scent, and her debut book Wicked Games, were magnificent reads and I have been eagerly awaiting her 2012 release Recipe for Love which was finally published last week. I think the cover is so gorgeous, and really fits in well with the idea of the book, the summery fun in Italy that the main story takes place in, and is just so lovely to look at. It's quite a big book, but I found myself getting through rather quickly, much to my annoyance, because I couldn't stop myself turning the pages and didn't want to stop, even though I didn't want to leave Cassia and co behind once the book had finished! Why did I love Recipe for Love so much? Well, here's why!

This is the story of British food writer Cassia, and her travels to Sorrento in Italy, to work with famous chef Rocco Disanti. Cassia is engaged to be married to Finn, and their wedding is happening in just a few months, yet when she's offered the opportunity to live and work in Sorrento for a few weeks, she just can't turn it down, much to the annoyance of Finn's mother Grace, who decides she'll plan the wedding for them instead. Cassia quickly falls in love with Italy - the sunshine, the food, and of course working with Rocco. But she can't seem to figure out the fiery chef - one minute he's hot, the next he's cool towards her, and it makes her begin to wonder about her life back in England and whether it's really what she wants. Will her trip to Italy end in a recipe for love?!

I love a book that when you're reading it, it totally and utterly transports you away from the reality of your everyday life and leaves you in the pages with the characters, and that is exactly what Recipe for Love did for me. Every time I picked it up, I forgot I was sitting on my sofa and instead I was absorbed into the world of Cassia in Sorento, or Grace and her son Finn in their lovely home planning the wedding of all weddings. Of course, my favourite scenes were those in Sorrento, with Wagstaff's descriptions of location, weather and food totally whetting my appetite, and have to be honest... made me more than a little hungry! The way Cassia writes in the book about food for her job as a food mag journalist is just tantalising, and I can see why she's such a success in her job! Italian food is amazing anyway, but when it's written about how Wagstaff does... wow!

The characters though are what makes this book so readable. They are so readable, and I thought each of them, however minor, all added something to the story and made it so much fun to read. The main character is Cassia, and although I wanted to give her a bit of a shake in parts about Finn, she was a great lead character, and was a good match for Rocco in the book. Rocco, a lovely Italian, dark and brooding chef, was your typical guy in the sense he couldn't admit to his feelings, but I loved how he ran his business and was so close to all of his family, certainly a male character to fall in love with! Then there's Finn, Cassia's fiancé who I hated straight away, and stayed that way throughout the book; his even worse mother Grace, just an awful woman; Diana, Cassia's mother, who is haunted by a past secret that she is carrying around; Cassia's sister Julia, again a pretty despicable human being who I couldn't feel sympathetic towards at all, Rocco's grandmother who was fab and Rocco's sister, a flamboyant and self-centred model who also happened to have a big heart and was so much fun to read, especially in scenes with the more stuffy Cassia.

Yes, there's quite a big cast, but because of the way Wagstaff wrote the book, I didn't have any problems keeping up at all. I loved how the action moved from London to Sorrento, to Vegas and back to Sorrento again. Wagstaff writes so beautifully about Sorrento, I wonder what research went into this because it really came alive in my mind as I was reading, and is now somewhere I definitely want to go! There are a lot of twists and turns in the book, and quite a few other storylines running alongside the main one with Cassia, so there was always something going on, and never a lull in the book at all. It had me totally absorbed from the first to the last page, and was a complete joy to read. I actually felt sad as I turned the last page, because I felt like I'd gotten to know the characters and was sad to leave them behind - that is the sign of a great writer. I thoroughly enjoyed Recipe for Love and think it's definitely one to be taking on your summer holidays! A gorgeous book of Italy, food and love - what more could you want?!

You can buy Recipe for Love as a paperback or an eBook now.

16 May 2012

Book News: This Is How It Ends by Kathleen MacMahon

A huge release this year is Kathleen MacMahon's debut novel This Is How It Ends. It's already a huge number one bestseller in Ireland, and it's out over in the UK on May 24th, so not long to wait! It sounds amazing, and I will reading and reviewing it on here shortly. Will you be reading this book?? I think it sounds great!

"This is when it begins.

Autumn, 2008.

This is where it begins.

The coast of Dublin.

This is why it begins.

Bruno, an American, has come to Ireland to search for his roots. Addie, an out-of-work architect, is recovering from heartbreak while taking care of her infirm father. When their worlds collide, they experience a connection unlike any they've previously felt, but soon their newfound love will be tested in ways they never imagined possible.

This is how it ends . . .

A story you will never forget."

You can pre-order This Is How It Ends as a paperback or an eBook now.

15 May 2012

Book Review: The Perfect Location by Kate Forster

"Three glamorous actresses gliding through a life lived on the silver screen. One Hollywood Blockbuster.

Rose Nightingale is an Australian actress still recovering from a bad marriage.

Sapphira De Mont is the world’s most beautiful movie star, but hides a secret addiction and a broken heart.

Calypso Gable is a young star on the rise trying to escape her mum-manager’s clutches.

As they come together on set in the Italian hills, they find out more about one another – and about themselves – than they ever thought possible."

Rating: 5/5

First of all, I want to say just how much I love this book cover. It's summery, it's feminine, it's gorgeous and I loved it - it looks even better on the finished book which is fab. This is Australian author Kate Forster's debut novel, and it's one I've been looking forward to for a while. Interestingly, a prequel to this book was released as a free eBook by the publishers, although I haven't gotten around to reading it yet so I can't say you miss out by not reading it before you read the book! I was really looking forward to reading this one, and although it was the second book in a row I'd read that was set in Italy, it didn't spoil my enjoyment of it at all and I managed to get through the book very quickly as I was hooked and didn't want to put it down!

The book is the story of 3 actresses, Sapphira, Calypso and Rose. The women had auditioned for a part in a new Hollywood movie, and had each won a part. Now though, they were in Italy and dealing with their own issues as well as trying to short a brand new movie. Sapphira is battling her own personal demons whilst trying to hide her secret from her co-stars, and the world. But behind the trouble lies a broken heart she doesn't quite know how to fix. Calypso is a relatively new actress compared to her co-stars, and has been encouraged/forced into roles all her life by her mother who also happens to be her manager. She really wants to break free but doesn't know how, and just wants a sense of normality. Finally, there's Rose who always seems to be running away from something. She's running away from her failed marriage, but also from any kind of affection as well. Will the movie being shot in the perfect location help the women who seem to have it all find happiness at last?

This book got straight in with the story, and I loved that. It introduced the characters one by one, which is how the book continues, with a narrative that changes throughout the book but manages to keep you completely involved. Each of the female characters are well written, and I really enjoyed getting to know each of them as the stories of them progress. My favourite was probably Calypso, the youngest and most naive of the group but after a shocking twist in her storyline, I really liked how she evolved and found her to be very realistic. Sapphira was probably the character I took a while to warm to, but again, as things are revealed about her, you begin to understand her. Overall though, the female characters are so well written, and although they are each very different, they blend so well and make up such a good cast.

The male characters in this book too are very important, but I don't want to say too much about them because they are involved in the evolving storylines with the female characters Sapphira, Calypson and Rose. However, my favourite was certainly the director TG, a guy with a big heart who just wants to help and make everyone happy, but lovely Jack, a co-star on the film was fantastic too! Some things in the book did surprise me I have to confess - there are some graphic scenes of drug use, a couple of sex scenes that were a bit surprising to read in there due to the nature of the, and I found a few scenarios surrounding Sapphira a little bit uncomfortable as well. I really hadn't expected that within this book, but nonetheless, I didn't let it spoil my enjoyment of the book because the rest of it was fantastic.

The setting of Italy is perfect for the book, and I loved Forster's beautiful writing about the area, from the scenic descriptions to the glorious food she mentions throughout the book - she certainly makes it sound like somewhere I want to visit! Overall, this is a fantastic book that I loved, and would highly recommend to anyone who likes a bit of a gritty read. It's extremely well written, and I really enjoyed how the narrative chopped and changed between the characters, it allowed the story to keep flowing, but the film manages to keep it altogether as well. It was touching, it was emotional, it was a read full of love and hope, and was a joy to read. It's a fantastic novel, and it certainly makes me look forward to future releases from Kate Forster, she's a bright star in the world of chick lit, and this book is a fantastic summer read!

You can buy The Perfect Location as a paperback or an eBook now.

14 May 2012

eBook news: Carrie Duffy and Lucy Lord short stories

Both Carrie Duffy and Lucy Lord are releasing short story e-Books before the release of their main paperback novels, and I'll certainly be looking forward to both of these! The covers are fab and tie in nicely to the main releases, and I think short stories are a good way to garner interest for the main books! At just 49p each, they are a bargain too! Will you be buying either/both of these?

"Three girls are finding themselves in the most romantic city in the world and this will be one night they will never forget…

A hot and sexy short story from the author of Idol and Diva.

Dionne Summers arrived in Paris with one ambition: to be a star. Desperate to make it in the modelling world, she’s ruthless and uninhibited. For Dionne, life is one long party, but her wild ways are heading out of control…

Alyson McIntyre has moved to Paris to reinvent herself – from a shy, gangly schoolgirl to a beautiful, successful Parisian woman. When she meets a handsome stranger on the train, he offers her a glimpse of the stylish new world she longs for – if only she can put her demons behind her and learn to trust him.

Eccentric fashion designer CeCe Bouvier lives life to the max and loves with all her heart. But can she avoid getting her heart broken as she parties with the glamorous jet-set in the city’s most exclusive clubs?

For each of them, Paris is an escape, giving them the opportunities they’ve always dreamed of. Will they have the courage to reach for their goals, or will the city destroy them…?"

You can pre-order VIP here now!

"The biggest night in the year and the party is just beginning!

A wickedly decadent short story from the author of Revelry.

It’s New Years Eve and best friends Poppy and Bella are ready to celebrate in style in the brilliant short story from Lucy Lord.

Heading to the trendy Hoxton hotspot owned by Bella’s brother they are soon surrounded by their glamorous friends and the party is in full swing. Bella couldn’t be happier when things start heating up with the breathtakingly handsome Ben, but as the drinks continue to flow Bella soon finds the evening not going to plan.

With the clock approaching midnight, engagements, treachery and explosive confrontations guarantee the year will start with a bang. And for Bella the excitement is just beginning, with plans for their holiday in Ibiza already underway who knows what the summer has in store for her…"

You can pre-order Party Night now!

10 May 2012

Book Review: The Saturday Supper Club by Amy Bratley

"Wanted: four amateur cooks to compete in a supper club contest Rules: four strangers, four weeks, four houses, four dinner parties You might win: a cash prize You might lose: your heart Eve had her world torn apart three years ago, when the love of her life Ethan disappeared, and she never found out why. But now, her life is rosy. With a lovely new boyfriend, Joe, and a café opening on the cards, things finally seem to be falling into place. … until she agrees to take part in a supper club competition for a local newspaper. Eve is cooking the first dinner and who should turn up on her doorstep expecting a three-course meal, but her long lost love Ethan?"

Rating: 4.5/5

Amy Bratley's second novel The Saturday Supper Club is one read I have been looking forward to for a while. I really enjoyed her first book, The Girls Guide to Homemaking and was hoping this would be a similarly good read too. From the synopsis, it sounded something a take on the popular television show Come Dine With Me which is just brilliant, and therefore certainly made the book sound even more appealing. I have to confess that I rather love the cover as well - it has a bit of a old-fashioned look and charm about it and the gorgeous cake slap bang in the middle is pretty tempting too! Sadly, the book was going to be a 5 star read as it was fantastic but there is a small but for me significant reason it had to lose that half a star!

Eve is happily living in London with her boyfriend Joe, who she got together with after the disappearance of Ethan, the love of her life. She's opening a café and everything seems to be going well. When Joe begs her to take part in a supper club for a local newspaper, she reluctantly agrees but doesn't realise it's going to change her life completely. When she opens the door to her first guest, she's shocked to find Ethan standing there. What is he doing back in London, and why exactly did he run away 3 years ago never to be heard from again? Join Eve, Maggie, Ethan and Andrew for four evening's of delicious food, and a few surprise revelations along the way too!

The book dives straight in with the first meal at Eve's home, and I enjoyed that there wasn't too much setting up and it got straight into the action. Instead, Bratley choses to tell the backstory between Joe and Eve deciding to take part in the supper club, and then Eve and Ethan's relationship through little flashback throughout the first few chapters, and it was fun to read. It flitted back and forth rather easily, and I loved how I was left in suspense in parts because something would happen, and then it would jump back to another flashback, and I'd be left wondering what happened, which was fantastic! The book is written in the first person from Eve's point of view, so the flashback type of narrative works really well, and it really allows us to get into the mind of Eve and understand her reactions and why she does what she does in the book.

The dinner party part of the book was really fun to read. The book is split into 4 parts - one for each of the dinner parties and the story with Eve, Ethan and Joe progresses around these. Bratley writes the dinner parties with humour, but also manages to throw in some amazing descriptions of the food being cooked, the drinks being drunk and the homes of the people involved too. Some bits made me laugh out loud, especially poor old Andrew, and I really enjoyed getting to the know the 3 other contestants alongside Eve. They were all very different, and that's why the book worked so well, because they each bought something to it, and I liked how Bratley really set these people up as their own characters as well, not just there for the purposes of the supper club. My favourite was certainly Andrew, you can't help but feel sorry for the guy and you know his heart is in the right place!

So, why did I have to knock half a star off this otherwise fantastic book? Well, without spoiling it at all, it has to be because of the ending. I was left thinking "WHAT?!" because I just couldn't understand why it happened, and I was most displeased with the decisions made! Strangely though, The Saturday Supper Club is one one of those books where the ending is completely obvious from the beginning, which I really liked but it did leave me disappointed when it did conclude in a way I wasn't happy with! However, despite this little niggle for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book and zoomed through it in a couple of days because it was fantastic. I loved the writing, the plot and the characters, and the addition of some delicious sounding suppers didn't hurt either! It's a novel twist on a tried and tested telly format, but it worked really well, and Bratley has written a wonderful book that you'll want to devour in one sitting! Recommended!

You can buy The Saturday Supper Club as a paperback or an eBook now!

9 May 2012

Author Interview: Lucy Robinson

Today I am delighted to welcome the lovely Lucy Robinson to my site for an author interview! I read and really enjoyed Lucy's debut novel The Greatest Love Story of All Time when it came out, and Lucy was kind enough to answer some of my questions. My thanks go to Francesca at Penguin, and to Lucy for answering my questions!

Q1. Please tell me about your new book The Greatest Love Story of All Time. 

The Greatest Love Story of All Time is probably the worst love story of all time for quite a lot of the book. The novel begins with a breakup so painful that Fran, the main character, has been rotting in bed for nearly three weeks when we first meet her. Her close group of (somewhat eccentric) friends, however, are fed up with Fran’s wallowing and so they force her back out into the world with a plan for her recovery which involves internet dating. Fran has other plans though and starts stalking a woman called Nellie Daniels to try to ascertain why she was dumped. All the while she’s dealing with an evil cat, a mother with a drink problem and some internet dates so bad she can hardly believe they’re real. But all the while a truly marvelous love story is ticking away in the background.

Q2. Your title is quite a bold statement - how did you come to call your book this title, and where did you draw the inspiration for your love story between Fran and Michael? 

The title of the book is a perfect expression of the slightly hyperbolic way in which Fran views love, although it’s actually one of her friends who first coins the term. I still smile when I look at the title now because it feels like it’s straight out of Fran’s mouth. As for Fran and Michael – well, we’ve all been there I think. Met a man to whom we’ve assigned God-like qualities and declared ourselves instantly unworthy. Not very healthy and the inspiration definitely didn’t come from my current relationship !

Q3. Stefania is one of my favourite characters in the book, and I especially loved the way your wrote exactly how she would speak the words! Who was your favourite character in the book and why? 

Oh that’s hard. I love Stefania, I love Dave, I love Leonie and of course I love Fran although at times I do want to punch her. I wish I knew all of them and often wonder where on earth they came from. However I’m going to have to say that my favourite character is Duke Ellington, Fran’s evil cat. He is the only character in the novel who is based on a real person (well, cat) and every single sentence that I wrote involving Duke Ellington made me laugh out loud, thinking of the cat who inspired his character. Like Michael I find most cats quite dull but every now and then you come across a true king of felines - feisty, rude, arrogant, evil and hilarious.

Q4. This is your debut novel - how did it feel to get your book deal with Penguin, and then to finally hold a finished copy of your book in your hands for the first time? Was your publishing journey an easy one?

Getting a book deal was extraordinary. I was in the middle of moving abroad when it happened and I felt so detached from normality that when the news came through from my agent I just thought that this was the final straw – the world had gone completely mad. The moment I held the book in my hands the first time I felt surprised that it was so big but otherwise didn’t believe it had anything to do with me. As for my publishing journey… I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like I should pretend that I spent years slaving over my manuscript, begging publishers to read it and coping with endless agonizing rejections. The reality is that I was contacted by a publisher, very soon after starting my Marie Claire blog, who said she thought I’d make a great novelist. I wrote half a book and got a deal (although with someone else – the publisher who originally approached me rejected it!) So yes, the logistical part of it was quite straightforward but I still had to go through the same blood sweat and tears as any other author to actually write the thing.

Q5. How do you feel about the term Chick Lit and people putting your books into this genre?

Good question! I once had lofty aspirations to write hefty historical novels full of complex imagery but it appears I’m better at writing about boyfriends and stalking. I suppose I’ve always seen chicklit as being about handbags and high heels, neither of which hold much importance in my life. Now I actually read the stuff though I’ve realized that they’re not at all. There’s a lot of really brilliant authors out there in the chicklit ether.

Q6. You blog for Marie Claire on their website - how difficult did you find it going from writing a blog to writing a novel? 

Oh my god it was a nightmare! I sat down on the first day to start writing my novel and just nothing came out. I was paralysed with fear. I went back to the sitting room and told Kieran, my housemate, that I basically didn’t have a novel in me and was going to have to abandon ship and remain a blogger forever. Fortunately he was having none of it and sent me back to my room to give it another go.

Q7. Are you a fan of reading chick lit yourself? Who are some of your favourite authors and books?

I’m early days with chick lit so I can’t answer that question very well. I only started reading it when I started writing my book, so when reviewers have highlighted things like an alcoholic mother being a ‘chicklit staple’ I’ve been, like, “Ah… Oh dear. Still got a lot to learn, Robinson…” Recently I enjoyed Marian Keyes’ The Brightest Star in the Sky which genuinely kept me in suspense and moved me greatly. What lovely, real, complex characters with messy, imperfect lives. Wonderful.

Q8. You've got a Facebook page and a Twitter account, as well as your own website and blog as we mentioned. Do you think social networking is an important tool for authors to use in this day and age, and do you believe it has an impact on the success of a book/author?

OK here’s an exclusive: I can’t stand social networking. I have all those online tools because I know they help – I can’t pretend I don’t live in a digital age if I want to sell books! But, the more I do it the more I can see the value of it. And I have to say I LOVE that I’m able to receive feedback from readers and to ‘meet’ them online every day. I’ve been getting loads of reader emails in the last week since my book came out, telling me how much they’ve enjoyed my novel and it’s made me realize that it’s worth the time I spend on these networking sites – otherwise my readers would just be a faceless sea of people rather than a bunch of women (and occasionally men..) who I can see and read about. It’s nice to see their twitter feeds too; that way it isn’t all about me – I’m part of the world in which my readers live. I like that.

Q9. Are you working on a second novel yet?! If so, can you tell me anything about it?

I am. We’re still deliberating over the title but it’s a book about being a perfectionist and a workaholic . . . although of course there’s a big old love story there too! Actually there are a few love stories come to think of it, all quite different. There’s sordid affairs in cheap hotels, there’s steamy romances conducted in cleaning cupboards, there’s painful unrequited love and also a very complex online love story that drags Charley, the main character, into a whole new world. Charley is 32 and very successful, well-dressed and brilliant – but she’s not happy. At the beginning of the novel she breaks her leg and starts an online business that brings love into her life in a very unusual way . . . and that’s all I can tell you right now!

Thanks, Lucy!

You can buy Lucy's book here, and read her blog at Marie Claire here

8 May 2012

Book Review: The Desperate Bride's Diet Club by Alison Sherlock

"Violet Saunders is astounded when her boyfriend gets down on one knee and proposes. At size 18-20, she can't think why anyone would want to marry her and euphoria quickly turns to horror as she contemplates squeezing herself into a wedding dress. When a leaflet from dieting club New You! drops through her letterbox, she hurries to enrol, but is soon traumatised by the terrifying Trudie, who secretly despises her fat clients, while pretending to encourage them. Things go from bad to worse; everyone just gets fatter on the horrible New You! drink shakes. At work, Violet's half-Italian boss - a man with a lively sense of humour - looks on in amazement and finally persuades her to take a break from New You! and lunch with him at his family's delicatessen. All at once Violet experiences an explosion of beautiful tastes and textures. Inspired, she persuades her fellow dieters to form a new club, with secret weigh-ins at her house - while pretending to Trudie, of whom they are all petrified, that it is the New You! diet which is transforming them. Fabulous Italian recipes gradually begin to work their magic, but can Violet the duckling really become Violet the swan in time for her wedding?"

Rating: 4/5

There seem to be quite a few books about dieting and food around these days, it's certainly a hot topic in the world of chick lit, so you can't really get away from it... after all, a lot of women seem to be on diets at the moment, at least amongst my friends anyway! When I received a copy of Alison Sherlock's debut novel The Desperate Bride's Diet Club for review, I was curious to see whether it'd be the same as all the other books out there or if it would offer something different. I really liked the cover of it, with lovely simple pink and white making it very pretty to look at, and I think the publishers have aimed this one at the right market with the cover. So would it be a book to sit and devour, or just nibble at every now and then?!

The book is the story of a group of people (not just women!) who want to lose weight for a variety of reasons. There's Violet, the main character of the book and the desperate bride from the title of the book. She's getting married to Sebastian soon, even though she can't believe he'd ever be interested in her, and really wants to lose weight and so joins a slimming club. However, Trudie the instructor is like something from a nightmare, and she quickly makes friends with the other attendees and start their own club. There's Maggie, a housewife stuck in a rut, her daughter Lucy who wants to be able to wear the latest trends but can't fit into them, Kathy, a lonely lady who is still dealing with her own grief, and Edward who needs to lose weight for his health because it has dire consequences on his life. Will the new friends be able to work together to lose weight once and for all? Will the desperate bride fit into the dress of her dreams?!

I have to be honest in my reviews, and so I will say that at first, I really couldn't get into this book very much and I had concerns that it wasn't going to go anywhere because it seemed very formulaic. However, I decided to persevere with it and I am so glad that I did. It went from being a book about a bride wanting to lose weight to much more than that, about confidence, about love and about being a strong willed person, and I loved it for that. I really loved Violet, you can see she comfort eats because she just doesn't know how to deal with her weight, and consequently her confidence was at rock bottom, and was desperate to hold to Sebastian at any cost which I found quite sad. The other characters were brought in slowly, and their own stories were revealed, and it really added something else to the book because these characters have various reasons for wanting to lose weight, and I'm sure a lot of readers will be able to identify with one of them in some way.

I liked how the relationship of the characters changed throughout the book as they became closer, and Violet's wedding grew nearer too. My favourite scenes were those at Violet's new job, with her funny colleagues and lovely Italian boss Mark. It really showed how something so simple as getting a job and getting out of the house can make a difference to a person, and I loved how Sherlock didn't make it happen overnight, it was a slow progression but Violet did start to come out of herself bit by bit. Some of the scenes with food were really amusing, but at the same time quite sad and I felt very sorry for Violet. By the end of the book, I was hooked and really didn't want it to end, but at the same time hoping Violet would wake up a bit and smell the roses as it were, and get what she really deserved in life - happiness.

Overall, this is a lovely debut novel from Alison Sherlock, and it certainly makes me want to look out for more of her books in the future. I enjoyed the journey that all of these characters went on, all for their own personal reasons, and it really worked for that reason. Each of the characters were their own person, and although they seemed to lose weight quite easily for some, I couldn't help but feel pleased for them when they lost their weight! Lucy was a character I really identified with, yet I could sympathise with the others too, and felt Edward's story of ill health due to his weight was a hard hitting one but an all too familiar tale these days. I'd recommend giving The Desperate Bride's Diet Club a read - it's a lovely and well written novel, and I enjoyed how the narrative followed different people to keep it fresh and keep you in the loop with all the characters. It's nothing hugely new but it is an enjoyable read, and so recommended by me.

You can buy The Desperate Bride's Diet Club as a paperback or an eBook now.