30 April 2013

Book Review: The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon

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

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Longest Holiday as a paperback or an eBook now!

I am a huge Paige Toon fan, and I'd go as far as to say she is in my all-time top 5 authors that I never miss (joined by Lindsey Kelk, Melissa Hill, Milly Johnson and Dorothy Koomson) so when I received a copy of her brand new book The Longest Holiday to review from Simon & Schuster, I was over the moon and instantly got stuck into reading it. As always with Paige's books, it was an absolutely brilliant read, and I was reluctant to finish it because I knew that that meant waiting another year for a new story from her! However, it was worth devouring straight away, and it's already made it on to my 'Keeper's Shelf'!

Laura thought she had the perfect marriage - her and husband Matthew have only been married a few months but are very much in love, and Laura is enjoying her newly-wed life. However, when she finds out that Matthew made a horrible mistake just a few weeks before his wedding, and that there are long-lasting consequences from that, she decides to hot-foot it away from the embarrassment that is her marriage, and flies to Florida's Key West with her best friend Marty, and her friend Bridget. Whilst there, she meets scuba diver instructor Leo and begins to have feelings for him that she had never expected to feel, especially given that she is still married. When it's time to go back home and to reality, Laura is sure she doesn't want to escape her holiday romance and face her husband again. Will her friends and family be able to persuade Laura that she has no future with Leo, and that her home lies with Matthew?

If you've read any of Paige's previous books, you will know that she is known for putting in characters from her older stories to keep them all linked, and I love sitting and waiting for a link to become apparent to me. It took me a few chapters to twig about this one, but I soon realised that the main character in this book, Laura, was a more minor character in Toon's previous novel Chasing Daisy. Laura was racing driver Will Trust's girlfriend, and it was nice to catch up with her a few years on from what happened in that book, and a few hints are thrown to us about Daisy and what's she up to now too which was really fun to read. In fact, now I've read this one, I'm looking forward to seeing Laura pop up in another story in a few years time!

The book dives straight in with Laura and co landing in Key West, and slowly things are revealed to us about the reasons that the girls had fled halfway across the world from Laura's husband. I felt incredibly sorry for Laura, she's been betrayed in an awful way, one which many women dread and you can understand her reluctance to get past what Matthew did. The crux of her betrayal by Matthew is at the centre of the novel really, and her marriage hovers over everything she does in Key West - is she really prepared to throw it all away on what could just really be a holiday romance? However, Toon does write Matthew quite sympathetically, and you do feel like he really didn't mean to do what he did, and I was sort of hoping Laura would make the choice to make her marriage work and live happily ever after. Leo, though, was a great character and you can understand why Laura falls for him so easily. He's a typical Latin-sounding 'stud' and his troubled past only makes all the more desirable to her, even if he has a tendency to be a bit moody and quiet at times.

Toon sets pretty much all of the book in Key West, and you can tell she has really done her research about the place, and Miami too. I've been lucky enough to visit Florida 3 times in my life, but Key West isn't somewhere we ever ventured, but now I certainly want to go there! It sounds brilliant, and I loved the detail that she puts into things like Laura's scuba diving course too. You can see why Laura falls in love with the place and wants to stay, and the people seem so friendly too, especially Leo's family, well except for Carmen that is. I found all of those characters easy to like, and they seem like such a laid back bunch, Laura certainly finds herself accepted quickly. The book actually utilises surprisingly few characters, really sticking to the 3 women we meet at the start, Matthew, Laura's parents, and the Key West contingent, and this really worked for me, it kept the story completely focused on Laura and her indecision.

What I found most surprising about the book was the ending. Suddenly, this huge development happens just a few chapters before the end and we're left on tenterhooks wondering what on earth is going to happen, and then out of nowhere, it cuts into the epilogue! It felt odd and almost rushed at the end, but luckily it isn't left too up in the air and Toon tries to tie it all up neatly for the reader. However, I just felt that it could have been eased to into a little slower, I almost felt like my book was missing a few chapters, it just seemed a bit strange! That said, it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book at all, and I was pleased that it ended how it did. I wasn't sure all the way through the book though which man Laura would choose - I certainly would have hated to have been in her position, and you can't help but feel either choice would make sense for her. The Longest Holiday is a superb read, and I really did enjoy every single page. It was a very addictive read, and kept me up until the late hours finishing it as I wanted to see who Laura would choose! For fans of Paige Toon, this is a must-read book, and certainly one to add to your collection.

29 April 2013

Book News: He's The One by Katie Price

Katie Price AKA model Jordan is back this summer with yet another novel. Somehow Katie's book have propelled her to be one of the bestselling authors in the UK in recent years, and I'm sure He's The One will be no different. It's out on 20th June.

You can pre-order He's The One as a hardcover or an eBook now.

"Can you ever forget your first love?

Liberty Evans hasn't.She has a beautiful daughter, a successful career as an actress, and she's married to one of Hollywood's most powerful directors.

But behind the glamour, things are not what they seem. Her daughter Brooke is turning into a spoiled teenager, her husband controls everything she does, and Liberty longs for Cory, the man she loved before she became famous.

Unable to live a lie any more, Liberty returns to England with a reluctant Brooke, to start a new life. While her daughter has to cope with a massive lifestyle change, Liberty finds that she cannot get Cory out of her head.

But will he want her any more? Or will she have to accept that her first love belongs to the past?"

26 April 2013

Book Review: Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

"Lottie is tired of long-term boyfriends who don't want to commit to marriage. When her old boyfriend Ben reappears and reminds her of their pact to get married if they were both still single at thirty, she jumps at the chance. There will be no dates and no engagement-just a straight wedding march to the altar! Next comes the honeymoon on the Greek island where they first met. But not everyone is thrilled with Lottie and Ben's rushed marriage, and family and friends are determined to intervene. Will Lottie and Ben have a wedding night to remember . or one to forget?"

You can buy Wedding Night as a hardcover or an eBook now.

Rating: 5/5

Who doesn't love a new Sophie Kinsella book? The chick lit world goes into a frenzy when a new title is announced, and finally her now book Wedding Night is out there in the big wide world and being devoured by thousands as I type! I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of the book a few months ago to review on this site, and of course I devoured it as soon as it dropped onto my doormat by the postman. I'll confess that I wasn't enamoured by the cover at first - it's a little bland and doesn't really do much for me if I'm honest, but of course I try not to let a bit of a duff cover spoil my potential enjoyment of a book. Luckily for me, the story inside was fantastic, and here is why I think you should read Wedding Night!

Lottie thought she had found the man of her dreams, and gears herself up for a proposal when her boyfriend Richard invites her on a romantic dinner. It turns out marriage wasn't exactly at the forefront of his mind, and Lottie is left reeling. When she bumps into old flame Ben, she is reminded of a pact she made with him years ago that if they aren't married by the time they are both 30, they'll marry each other. They quickly decide to go through with the marriage, and hot-foot it on a honeymoon to Greek island Ikonos. However, they soon realise married life isn't quite the romantic dream they'd hoped for, especially with the plans that Lottie's sister Fliss has up her sleeve for them. Which sister will end up coming out on top - Lottie and her happy marriage, or Fliss, the sister set on destroying her sibling's shotgun wedding?!

There is something about Kinsella's books which is so readable, and I always love reading every page of them. I was actually pleased to see that this was a stand-alone novel, because as much as I love the Shopaholic series, it's always great to read some new Kinsella characters, and Lottie and Fliss certainly don't disappoint. This is the first novel where Kinsella tries more than one narrator, with both Lottie and Fliss telling the reader their half of the story, and I found it worked really well. This book actually really needed both women's inputs as the stories really relied on each other to keep the momentum going, and to understand exactly what was going on. I found myself enjoying both narrators, although quite often I found Fliss' narration more enjoyable than Lottie's, it certainly made me laugh out loud rather a lot!

I really enjoyed how Kinsella wrote the Greek island of Ikonos, you can really imagine it vividly in your mind as you're reading, and you can't help but feel sorry for what Lottie and Ben go through on their honeymoon courtesy of a meddling Fliss - it sounds like hell on earth and you have to wonder why on earth they didn't question what was happening far more heavily than they did! Still, the fact they didn't simply adds to the comedy of the situation, and Kinsella certainly comes up with some creative ideas here, it was hilarious in parts! Another funny part of the book I must confess involved Fliss' young son Noah, one of the cleverest and most inventive young boys I've ever read about... I loved his scenes and they certainly brightened up sections of the book for me!

Everything about this book is an easy read, and I loved that I could pick it up and dip in and out it with ease. I was left wondering as I read through the book, wondering if Ben and Lottie would be able to make it to their 'Wedding Night' in the end, wondering if their marriage would last, and wondering how far Fliss would go to stop the couple consummating the marriage, with a little help from her concierge friend! The comedy flowed from beginning to end, and Kinsella writes it with such ease that it is a pleasure to read, and it made me laugh out loud all the way through. The dual narrative worked so well, you can't help but love Lottie and Fliss - their hearts are in the right places, even if their actions aren't quite there yet! Fans of Kinsella are going to love this book, and I'd say it's my favourite of her stand-alone books so far. From a beautiful setting, to great characters and some genuinely funny storylines going on, Wedding Night is a brilliant read, and I hope you'll love it as much as I did!

Book News: Swimming Pool Summer by Rebecca Farnworth

Author Rebecca Farnworth is back this summer with a brand new novel published under her own name called Swimming Pool Summer. Farnworth is of course the ghostwriter for Katie Price's novels but it's nice to see her back being published under her own steam. It's out on 18th July and looks like it's going to be a great holiday read. I love the cover as well, very relaxing!

You can pre-order Swimming Pool Summer as a paperback now.

"Frankie hasn't had a proper relationship for years. But though she tells everyone this is how she wants it, but secretly she's in love with her best friend Patrick.

Tor didn't think she could have a baby, but now she is pregnant by her younger lover. Could this mean the end of a romance that has started to mean more to her than she expected?

Leila seems to have it all - a happy marriage, a beautiful daughter and a successful career. But Leila is harbouring a secret that could destroy her marriage forever.

On an idyllic Greek island, the three women try to keep their secrets hidden. But emotions are running high, and when an unexpected guest arrives, events start to spin out of control."

24 April 2013

Book News: The Bow Wow Club by Nicola May

One of the most successful self-published authors I know is Nicola May, and she is back this month with a brand new book! The Bow Wow Club is out on the 14th May as a paperback, and is a sequel to Nicola's other book Working It Out which I really enjoyed. If you liked that one, you'll love this - although it isn't about dogs as I had first suspected lol!

You can pre-order The Bow Wow Club as a paperback now.

"Ruby is back and never expected to be starting over…

…but after a shocking bereavement, she begins to question whether or not she will ever be happy again. 

A chance encounter with handsome author Michael Bell throws her fragile heart into turmoil. Plus, a dark family secret and completely unexpected love interest add to her confusion.

Encouraged to face her demons, she volunteers at the Bow Wow Club –
(Boyfriends of Widows, Wives of Widowers).

You will laugh and cry along with a myriad of eccentric characters as Ruby searches for her inner peace. But will she let love win? Or allow her past to continue to haunt her?"

23 April 2013

Book News: The State We're In by Adele Parks

Adele Parks has quickly become an author I don't want to miss, and I am lucky enough to already have a review copy of her brand new book The State We're In, which is due out on 4th July. I have to say I like the cover of it, quite colour and eye-catching, and the synopsis sounds really interesting too, I am intrigued to find out more when I read it!

You can pre-order The State We're In as a hardback or an eBook now.

"What are the odds that the stranger sitting next to you on a plane is destined to change your life? Especially when they appear to be your opposite in every way.

She's a life-long optimist, looking for her soul mate in every man she meets; he's a resolute cynic - cruel experience has taught him never to put his faith in anyone.

People can surprise you. In the time it takes to fly from London to Chicago, each finds something in the other that they didn't even realise they needed.

Their pasts are such that they can never make one another happy and it's when they get off the plane that their true journey begins..."

22 April 2013

Book News: Deep Blue Sea by Tasmina Perry

I am a huge Tasmina Perry fan, and always look forward to her new releases, they're always guaranteed to be a great read! Her latest book Deep Blue Sea is due out on 18th July, which luckily isn't too far away, but how beautiful is that cover?! It looks absolutely stunning, and it's got an intriguing plotline to match as well.... I can't wait to get stuck into this!

You can pre-order Deep Blue Sea as a hardback or an eBook now.

"Beneath the shimmering surface lies a dark secret...

Diana and Julian Denver have the world at their feet. With a blissful marriage, a darling son and beautiful homes in London and the country, Diana's life, to the outside world, is perfect. But nothing is as it seems...

When Julian dies suddenly and tragically, Diana is convinced there is more to it than meets the eye. She calls on the one person she had never wanted to see again - her sister, Rachel.

A former tabloid reporter, Rachel appears to be living the dream as a diving instructor on a Thai island. The truth is she's in exile, estranged from her family and driven from her career by Fleet Street's phone-hacking scandal.

For Rachel, Diana's request opens old wounds. But she is determined to make amends for the past, and embarks on a treacherous journey to uncover the truth - wherever it may lead..."

Book Review: The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel

"The North Star Bakery has been in Hope's family for generations, the secret recipes passed down from mother to daughter. But at thirty-six and recently divorced, with rebellious daughter Annie and elderly grandmother Rose to care for, Hope is less than enthusiastic about carrying on the family legacy. When the bakery runs into financial trouble and Rose takes a turn for the worse, Hope's delicate balancing act is in danger of crumbling entirely.

Then Rose reveals a shocking truth about her past and everything Hope thought she knew about her family and the bakery is turned upside down. At her grandmother's request, Hope travels to Paris, armed only with a mysterious list of names. What she uncovers there could be the key to saving the bakery and the fulfilment of a star-crossed romance, seventy years in the making."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Sweetness of Forgetting as a paperback or an eBook now.

I find it funny how sometimes you can never read about a book on a subject, then suddenly a few come along at once. This was the case with firstly Jodi Picoult's book The Storyteller, a superb novel based on the Holocaust and the tale of Sage's grandmother who was a Polish prisoner of war at Auschwitz. Almost by coincidence just 2 weeks after finishing that book, I was drawn to reading a new book I was sent by Quercus called The Sweetness of Forgetting by American author Kristen Harmel. I had no idea what it was about and decided to give it a try. I was then shocked as I read to find out it was another book on the Holocaust, and the similarities with Picoult's book were quite astounding once I had finished.

Hope has been running her family bakery The North Star Bakery for a while now, but she can't honestly say it's what she has always wanted to do. She fell into it after becoming a mother and then getting divorced from her ex-husband, and while she enjoys the work, she feels the pressure of running a business, being a mum, and making ends meet on all accounts. When her elderly grandmother Rose's Alzheimer's gets worse and she asks Hope for a special favour, Hope gets a shocking insight into Rose's past that she had no idea about before. She's sent to Paris, and starts to piece together the puzzle of Rose's past. Will she be able to help her grandmother before it's too late, and save her family bakery too?

I didn't really go into this book with any expectations as I hadn't read anything by the author before, and the synopsis didn't give too much away either. I loved the cover and I'll admit that it was really made me pick it up in the first place, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself completely absorbed in the book when I was just a few chapters in, and I was thoroughly enjoying it. The storyline wasn't too obvious at first, but as it progressed, I was surprised at the twists and turns, especially as the similarities to Picoult's book became more and more similar too. However, I found Harmel's writing to be quite different, leaning more towards the softer and emotional side of Rose's tale, and made it more of a love story than anything else which I loved.

I really liked the main character of Hope. She's a hassled woman, haunted by her past that she can't change, and let's hinder her. Her relationship with her ex-husband is strained, and the relationship she has with her teenage daughter Annie isn't great either, especially when her ex tries to be the "better" parent. I'm sure a lot of women will be able to resonate with Hope's situation, and as her grandmother's illness becomes more important in the story, it's quite emotional to read how it changes Hope and Annie's dynamic, and how important the older woman is in both of their lives. I liked Hope's initial reservations about going to Paris and the adventure, I expect many people would feel the same and it only made me warm more to Hope and sympathise with her.

The story that Rose is holding back is quite an emotional one, and I loved the way that things develop slowly and we are simply drip-fed the story rather than being given everything at once. I don't want to go into any detail about it because it's a story that has to be read and devoured to be appreciated, but I found it to be very enjoyable to read, and very emotional too, I quite often found myself welling up frequently as it progressed. Harmel writes the emotions of all of the characters involved so well, you certainly start feeling some of their emotions yourself, and I was hooked on the book by around halfway through, desperate to find out what was going to happen next and if Hope could really make the impossible possible for Rose. It really touches you and brings home the harsh realities of the situations of that time. It isn't graphic in the way Picoult's book is, but certainly touches on similar issues and topics within it.

I love when you start a new book not having many expectations but by the time you finish, you can't wait to read something else by that author. That is how I felt after finishing Kristin Harmel's book - I just wanted to read more. I found The Sweetness of Forgetting to be a very enjoyable book, and Harmel has researched her topic so well, and has really opened my eyes to a whole new side of what happened during World War Two and the Holocaust. I loved the characters in it, especially Rose, Hope and Annie - 3 very different females in the same family all dealing with their own futures in different ways and trying to not to be held back by their pasts. It was a wonderfully written and very emotive book, and I would definitely recommend it to those looking for something a bit different to read. I'm looking forward to reading more from Kristin Harmel, what a fantastic book.

18 April 2013

Book News: Midsummer Magic by Julia Williams

Julia Williams is back this summer with a new book, and I'm already in love with the cover! Midsummer Magic is due out on 4th July, and it has such a magical look to the cover which ties in the idea of the novel so well, it sounds like it's going to be a great read, I can't wait.

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

"Recently engaged Josie is visiting her parents in Cornwall with best friend Diane, fiancée Harry and his pal Ant. Josie can’t wait to start wedding planning, if only Harry was more interested, and Diane and Ant weren’t at war with each other.

As the four make amends over a drink in the local pub, they meet Freddie Puck, a well known TV hypnotist and find themselves agreeing to a dare – to stay out all night on the hills by the standing stones.

Local mythology says a young married couple will find true happiness if they can last a whole night there on Midsummer’s Eve. But as night time falls, not everyone seems to have remembered the boundaries of love…"

16 April 2013

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

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

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

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

Rating: 5/5

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

I was sent a review copy of this new eBook sensation quite a few weeks ago now, but for some reason it didn't jump out at me and I wasn't sure it was my sort of thing. However, I kept reading things on Twitter about it, and in the end, curiosity got the better of me and I decided one night to start Jessica Sorensen's book. Sorensen has published many books under many different series, but this is the first of her books to be picked up by a British publisher (Little, Brown), and it's part of the 'New Adult' genre that is certainly becoming all the age at the moment. It seems quite a few authors who went down the self-publishing route are getting a big break, and now I've read The Secret of Ella and Micha, I can see why Sorensen is a New York Times bestselling author.

This is basically a love story. Ella and Micha have been best friends for years, but as they have grown, so have their feelings for each other. Ella is haunted by her past, and by what her mother has done, and a few months ago had a bad night with Micha and she ran away to Vegas, where she went to college, but she didn't tell anyone, especially Micha, where she had gone. Now it's summer and she has to return, knowing she will bump into Micha once more, but she doesn't want to reveal the old Ella as she's done such a good job of reinventing herself for the Vegas crowd. But as she's forced to spend more time with Micha when she gets home, feelings start to become stirred once more, and he's determined to get her to realise her feelings for him, and make her love him as he loves her. Will Micha be able to win back his beloved Ella for good?

The book's prologue hooks you in straight away - you are left wondering what on earth is going on to make Ella act in such a way, and you can also feel Micha's love for her. After that short prologue, the book suddenly jumps 8 months into the present day where we pick up the story and stay with it for the rest of the book. The book is told through two first person narratives, Ella's and then Micha's, and it continues this way up until the end, and I really enjoyed this. It allowed me to get really into the story of both of these people, and we're given different perspectives of what happens as well. Despite Ella's initial hesitance at getting close to Micha, you can tell she has deep feelings for him however she might appear, and I was left just waiting for her to finally give in to Micha and to her feelings. Ella was quite a closed book, and things are slowly revealed about her past which allow us to make sense of why she's such a introverted person and wanting to hide who she used to be.

Micha is a fabulous male lead, and he's everything you want to read about in a hot male lead! He sounds rather attractive, with his pierced lip, he's a musician (of course), and likes to drive cars - fast. He is deeply in love with Ella and wants her more than anything, and is hating the fact she is turning him down. Yes, he's a bad boy but he's so much more than that too, and Ella really brings out a different side of him. Micha has a bit of a back story with his family too, and I felt more sympathetic to him as the book went on. I especially liked his scenes when he's driving his fast cars - Sorensen writes the action and the excitement so well that you feel like you're in there with them, feeling the adrenaline pumping as Ella does. Sorensen writes the sexual tension  between Ella and Micha so well, you can really feel it as you're reading, and I was left wanting them just to get on with it because you can see how much they want each other, no matter how much Ella might try and deny it, and Micha's way of wooing her is pretty great lol, however did she resist?!

I was only around a 1/4 of the way through the book when I began reading it Sunday night, and I ended up staying awake until gone 2am to finish it, because I became so absorbed with their story that I couldn't put it down. I loved everything about this story, from the way Sorensen builds up the tension and the story between Ella and Micha, and also how she weaves in their pasts, especially Ella's to fully round off their tales. I liked the inclusion of Ella's college roommate Lila who is there to show us how different the Ella of now is compared to the one she was pretending to be at college, and I loved her shocked reactions to some of the things Ella does. It's a real love story that will draw you in and have you turning the pages until you reach the final one because you're desperately craving a happy ending for Ella and Micha. I'm thrilled to see that there is another book with Ella and Micha coming later this summer, and I can't wait to catch up with these two once again. Jessica Sorensen took me by complete surprise with this book, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Now where can I find me my own Micha?!

12 April 2013

Book Cover: Step Back in Time by Ali McNamara

I'm really excited about the release of Ali McNamara's new book Step Back in Time which isn't due out until 7th November, but the cover has really got me wanting to read it right now! It's so brilliant, and I love all the iconic images on it that I'm sure many people will recognise. The story sounds amazing too, hope you're looking forward to this one as much as I am! Click the cover to see a bigger version.

You can pre-order Step Back in Time as a paperback or an eBook now.

"How many lifetimes would you travel to find a love that lasts for ever?

When single career girl Jo-Jo steps onto a zebra crossing and gets hit by a car, she awakes to find herself in 1963. The fashion, the music, her job, even her romantic life: everything is different. And then it happens three more times, and Jo-Jo finds herself living a completely new life in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. The only people she can rely on are Harry and Ellie, two companions from 2013, and George, the owner of a second-hand record store.

If she's ever to return from her travels, Jo-Jo must work out why she's jumping through time like this. And if she does make it back, will her old life ever be the same again?"

11 April 2013

Book Review: Dear Thing by Julie Cohen

"Claire and Ben are the perfect couple. But behind the glossy façade, they've been desperately trying - and failing - to have a baby for years. Now, the stress and feelings of loss are taking their toll on their marriage. Claire's ready to give up hope and get on with her life, but Ben is not. And then Ben's best friend, Romily, offers to conceive via artificial insemination and carry the baby for them.

Romily acts in good faith, believing it will be easy to be a surrogate. She's already a single mother, and has no desire for any more children. Except that being pregnant with Ben's child stirs up all sorts of emotions in her, including one she's kept hidden for a very long time: Ben's the only man she's ever loved.

Two mothers-and one baby who belongs to both of them, and which only one of them can keep."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy Dear Thing as a hardback or an eBook now.

Every so often, there is a book that captures your attention and makes you so excited to read it that everything else goes out of the window once it arrives. That was certainly the case for me and Julie Cohen's brand new novel, Dear Thing. Yes, I had loved her 2012 release The Summer of Living Dangerously, but it wasn't even that which made me so keen to read this new book. I had just really loved the synopsis of this, and the idea of it really drew me in, because I couldn't fathom how one woman could offer to do such an amazing thing for another woman, then take it away again at the last minute. I had an idea this book wouldn't be an easy read, and I was right, but my God was it a truly great one.

Married couple Claire and Ben have it all - all except children that is. They've been trying for many years to have their own baby, but sadly things have never happened for them. After a final failed attempt at IVF, Claire decides she has had enough and accepts her life without children in it, despite her pain. When Ben's best friend Romily hears of this, she immediately offers to be a surrogate for them, carrying a baby to term for them and then handing it over once it's born. But Romily has secretly been in love with Ben for years and years. Being pregnant with Ben's baby suddenly brings all her feelings flooding back to the surface, and she's unsure she can go through with the plan. Claire is desperate to have this baby, sure it's only chance to raise her husband's child. What will happen to the baby with 2 mothers who are both desperate to have it?

As you can tell just from the synopsis of the book, it's a quite controversial topic and one that is sure to stir up a lot of emotion in people, both good and bad towards the characters, in particular Romily. Cohen opens the book with Claire and Ben, telling us a bit about their history and letting the reader straight away understand their pain in not being able to have children, and how it is affecting them as a couple. As a mum myself, it's hard to understand the pain of someone who can't have children, but you can't help but sympathise with Claire and Ben, and the extreme efforts they go to conceive themselves. In fact, this only makes what Romily does all the more worse I think! Claire is written so well, she has changed her life in order to be a mum, and I felt desperately sorry for her, and you can understand why she is ready to give up her hopes - she simply can't take the pain and sadness anymore. Cohen doesn't shy away from making Ben's pain and upset just as real too - often the dad-to-be can be forgotten in all the sadness, but he is just as sad as Claire that he can't be a father.

Romily is Ben's best friend, and I found her character very interesting to read about. She has her own daughter Posie, but the pair have a very peculiar relationship. Posie calls her Romily, not mum, and Romily admits she isn't overly maternal, preferring her insects to her daughter at times - she struggles with simply remembering to pay for her daughter's lunch. She seems to make the decision to have a baby for Claire and Ben seemingly too easily and follows it through without thinking of the real consequences of it, and I really did dislike her at points. You can understand her hurting because of her love for Ben, and her desperation to keep the baby is quite sad, you do feel sorry for her, but at the same time, knowing how much Claire wants and can't have a baby, I couldn't make peace with what Romily wanted.

I'm sure there are going to be so many different viewpoints about this book, and I can't wait to hear about what other people think once the book has been read and have had a chance to think the ideas through. Cohen's writing is brilliant - she is able to dive right into the mind's of the main three characters, and provoke such strong reaction from her readers about them. I, for example, liked Ben a lot but wished he would grow a backbone and see things from Claire's side about Romily. He does seem a bit naive but again it's understandable given the circumstances. You're left in limbo right up until the end wondering what decision Romily is going to make, and it did feel like an emotional rollercoaster of a read! The story jumps about between Romily and Claire's stories, but it's so easy to follow and just a joy to read and devour!

This is simply one of the best books I have read so far this year, and I am sure it is one which will stay with me for a long, long time, and I know I will be reading it again too. Dear Thing isn't afraid to dive into the harsh realities of surrogacy, and how everyone involved suffers through the pain of the decisions that can be made, and how nothing is ever as straight-forward as it seems. Despite the fact there is only a few characters through the whole book, it is so intrinsically focused on these characters you don't need anymore - you only want to read about Romily, Ben and Claire and to hope for a happy ending for everyone involved. Cohen's writing was simply brilliant and allowed me to devour the book at such a pace, I just couldn't put it down once I started reading. I hope everyone enjoys this book as much as I have, it's brilliant and I can't recommend it highly enough. Grab a copy of Dear Thing right now, you won't regret it!

Book News: One Night Only by Emma Heatherington

Irish author Emma Heatherington is back with a brand new book, and I love her new cover look too. The book's publication date was 28th March 2013, so it's a brand new release, and sounds like a great read. I've read several of Emma's books and really enjoyed them, so look forward to this one.

You can buy One Night Only as a paperback or an eBook now.

"Polly's marriage has gone off the boil big time. Her husband ignores her, her children take her for granted and she feels as glamorous as a dirty dishcloth. She needs a break and she needs one now. Gorgeous schoolteacher Tess is under pressure. Her husband wants a baby now. She wants one never. She needs a break and she needs one now. Mousey housewife Gina has had enough. Her life is a misery and she is living on the edge of her nerves with her bullyboy husband Trevor and his bit on the side. She needs a break and she needs one now. When blast from the past Ruth Monaghan comes back to live nearby, the ladies meet up and agree to arrange a girly night out. Just one night away from it all - one night to recharge their batteries, to let down their hair and to discover what it really is they want in life. But throw in a raucous stag party, a handsome policeman and a charming man called Marco and these four desperate housewives get a hangover and a whole lot more in a hilarious night out that they will never forget!""

10 April 2013

Book Review: A Family Scandal by Zoe Miller

"The Rock Star

It is twenty years since rock musician Zach Anderson plunged to his death. When media interest in the incident is re-ignited, hidden tensions fracture the glamorous facade of the Morgan family, totally changing their lives.

The Sisters

Twenty years after this tragedy, the Morgan sisters Ellie, Miranda and their half-sister Lucy, Zach Anderson's love child, find themselves in the harsh glare of the media spotlight once more.

His Legacy

Beautiful fashion designer Ellie has spent her life trying to forget Zach Anderson so flees Dublin for the anonymity of New York.

Miranda, desperate to spread her wings, reclaims her life in the vibrant city of Hong Kong.

And in London, fashion model Lucy is full of unresolved questions about her father's death.

But what secrets are they all hiding? And will their love for one another hold them together or tear them apart?"

You can buy A Family Scandal as a paperback or an eBook now.

Rating: 5/5

I read my first of Zoe Miller's novel last year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Rival Passions was a fun read, and I was surprised that after reading it that it had taken me so long to pick up one of Zoe's books! Therefore when I received a review copy of Zoe's latest book A Family Scandal (published in the UK by Piatkus), I immediately stuck it at the top of my to-read pile because I was so eager to get stuck and reading it as soon as I could! Luckily, it didn't disappoint, and I whizzed through the book in just a couple of evenings as I was so keen to get to the end and find out what was going to happen!

The book is about 3 sisters, who have very big life differences and don't always get on. There's eldest sister Ellie, a fashion designer who's in a relationship but isn't sure that it's forever; middle sister Miranda who has fled across the world to Hong Kong where she feels she isn't living the shadows of her sisters, and their younger half-sister Lucy, who is the daughter of tragic rock star Zach Anderson, and a fashion model in her own right. It's the 20th anniversary of Zach's death, and the sisters are more deeply affected than they will let on, and turn to each other at the tough time. But when things happen that threaten the relationship between the Morgan sisters, will they be pushed together or pulled further apart than ever?

This story dove straight in to the action, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The Morgan sisters are introduced to us one by one, and their life and story is roughly explained to the reader so we know who is who, and what is going on. It continues this way throughout the book actually, and it allows us to follow each of the sisters throughout the book and across the world without being too confusing as well. Miller's writing throughout is seamless, and I found it so easy to keep up despite the chopping and changing of who the book is following, and everything that is going on throughout. I liked the use of the third person narrative which was the perfect voice for the book, and Miller writes the three women in particular so well, that by the end of the book you really feel like you know the Morgan sisters.

While we see perhaps the least of Miranda in Hong Kong, I enjoyed her story and her "middle child" syndrome too, and you can see how being away from her family makes her a stronger person which is interesting. The book does mainly focus on the other sisters, Lucy and Ellie who were great characters. Lucy is a bit of a spoiled brat to be honest, used to getting what she wants thanks to her looks, and doesn't seem to appreciate a great deal. However, the death of her father when she was a baby clearly still affects her, and I liked how this brought out a softer side to her as the book progressed. She was the main part in another important part of the story involving a stranger called Ian who weaves himself into the lives of the Morgan family, and is a bit of a mystery... this part of the book was fantastic and it really helps with the tension and excitement towards the end of the story.

Ellie is perhaps the character I liked the most. She is the eldest of the sisters, and feels the responsibility of this all the time, especially towards Lucy. You do feel very sorry for her as the book goes on, but I liked how she took off to New York to try and get over the betrayal she suffered, and starts to try and make a new life and new friends over the pond. In the book, Miller highlights the delicate bond between sisters, and how even the smallest betrayal can tear them apart, and I was really hoping that the Morgan sisters could forgive each other by the end of the book. As I mentioned, the book flits from Ireland to London, Hong Kong and New York, and Miller writes the places so well you can clearly picture them all as you are reading. I especially loved the parts in Hong Kong, I felt they really stood out in my mind and were good to read.

This was a fantastic read that I enjoyed from start to finish. It's quite a detailed book in that you have to concentrate and follow what is going on with the characters, but once you are into it, it's a joy to read and there was plenty going on to keep you interested. The family dynamics were interesting, and you can see how the bonds between the sisters are stretched to breaking point. I liked the sinister overtones that lie throughout the book, and the inclusion of the mysterious Ian makes it all the more intriguing, you're desperate to keep reading to find out more about him! I loved this, and Miller's writing is a joy to read from beginning to end. I can't wait to read Miller's next book, she's certainly become an author I really want to read!

8 April 2013

Book Review: Wonder Women by Rosie Fiore

"Jo has always dreamed of starting her own business, but the arrival of her two gorgeous toddlers has put her ambition on the backburner. Then she hits on a brilliant idea – a kids’ clothing shop with a twist – and is thrilled when it really takes off. When husband Lee offers to quit his job to look after the family while her business grows, it seems a godsend – but will their marriage stand the test of reversing their roles?

Jo soon recruits Holly and Mel to help her in the shop. Designer Holly’s high-flying career has come crashing down and she’s moved back home – but is she ready to manage a major family crisis? Meanwhile, Mel worries her teenage daughter Serena is going off the rails. Is finding out more worth risking her daughter’s trust? 

At the crossroads of their lives, friendship could be the only the thing keeping these wonder women strong."

Rating: 4/5

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

I very much enjoyed reading Rosie Fiore's 2012 release Babies in Waiting which was published through Quercus, so I was really pleased when they offered me a copy of her new book to review as a Kindle edition (the paperback is being released a few months after the eBook). I eagerly downloaded it to my Kindle and began reading... no mean feat since I would rather read a paperback anyday, but I was so keen to read this one, I didn't mind the Kindle for once and got stuck in. The cover has been through a bit of a change since it's original, and is now a blue hue instead of the more garish green, and I actually prefer the blue, far more suited to the idea of the book now I have read it!

The book is based around a group of women who run a children's clothing shop together. The main character is Jo, married to Lee and mum to two young children. Jo's career didn't really take off as she planned, but she is sure when she has the idea for the clothes shop that she can make it work. Husband Lee is really supportive, and decides to take on the bulk of childcare while his wife works on her new career. Also working at the shop are new friends Holly and Mel. Holly has just returned from living in South Africa for 10 years, and is getting over her own betrayal and heartache. Mel is a single mum to daughter Serena, but is worried about the state of their relationship. She's sure Serena is hiding things and is worried about her daughter but is unsure of how to broach it with the volatile teen. Will the three women be able to make a success of the shop against the odds?

The story begins mainly with Jo and Lee, and jumps about in their life story, from when they were just friends, to getting together and eventually getting married and having children together. I liked that Fiore took to the time to introduce these characters properly because it allows the reader to really like them as a couple and want things to work out for them. I really liked Jo, and could relate to her feelings of guilt as a working mum. Fiore makes her seem very real, and she doesn't make the journey too plain-sailing either, you can feel when Jo is up against it, and her uncertainty about her success endears you to her. Her relationship with husband Lee is also very realistic too, and he is a great character, struggling to cope with the demands of suddenly becoming a stay-at-home father and a wife who isn't around as much as before.

The other women too were great to read about, and I think a lot of women reading will be able to relate to them in some way, however small. Holly's story was fascinating to read, and I especially enjoyed the parts set in South Africa. It is Fiore's native country, and she writes it and its people so brilliantly, you feel like you are in the thick of it with them! Holly's South African friends in particular were brilliant, and I really did enjoy these parts of the story. Holly's tale in the more present day is at the same both excellent and heart-breaking. The storyline involving her mother had me in tears, it's so emotionally written and Fiore handles it so well, I think I cared more about this story than Jo and Lee in parts, it was so moving. Mel, the single mum's story was less compulsive, but you want things to work out okay for the mother and daughter duo, she's a likeable character and works hard in the shop for Jo.

The idea of opening a shop isn't a new one for a book, it's a subject which has been written about many times in chick lit and women's fiction, but I really did enjoy Fiore's take on it. She doesn't shy away from letting the reader know all aspects of opening a shop and how hard it was for Jo, and I enjoyed reading about the progression of the shop, and how that changed the lives of its workers. The relationships of all those in the book are good to read about, and the women in it really are wonder women, going up against the odds to try and make a success of their new venture. The shop they create sounds fantastic, it's certainly something that I could imagine would be do-able and a welcome idea to many parents out there! I definitely recommend this book, it's a brilliant read and I was engrossed in the story of Jo, Mel and Holly from start to finish, and it certainly brings Rosie Fiore up into the ranks of a must-read author for me, I can't wait for her next book!

5 April 2013

Book News: Things We Never Say by Sheila O'Flanagan

I always know that when I pick up a new Sheila O'Flanagan book I'm in for a really good read, so roll on June 20th when her new book Things We Never Say is released! As usual, it sounds like a fab book, and I am sure Sheila will have delivered on it being yet another brilliant read.

You can pre-order Things We Never Say as a hardback or an eBook now.

"Abbey Andersen is the last person to go looking for change. Yes, it's tough that she barely sees her mother these days - but in San Francisco she has great friends, a steady relationship and a job she enjoys. When Abbey is contacted by Irish lawyer Ryan Gilligan she learns in an instant everything she believed about her roots is a lie. She must travel to Dublin to find out more - but she's scarcely off the plane when she's plunged into a new crisis. One that will change everything not just for Abbey but for the family in Ireland who had no idea that she even existed. Now Abbey has to make a choice that will affect everyone she knows. How can she be sure she makes the right one? And can life ever be quite the same again?"

4 April 2013

Book Cover News: Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

One of the most awaited books this year has to the sequel to the hugely successful book The Devil Wears Prada, which is to be called Revenge Wears Prada and is due out on June 20th 2013. The cover has finally been revealed, and while I have to say it isn't my cup of tea, I am certainly looking forward to reading it, and catching up with these great characters again!

You can pre-order Revenge Wears Prada as a paperback or an eBook now.

"The hotly-anticipated sequel to The Devil Wears Prada – the million copy bestseller that took the world by storm.

Everything’s in place for the season’s hottest launch:

Tall latte (with two raw sugars)? Check.

Gucci trench (draped over desk)? Check.

Outrageous, unreasonable demands? Check.

Andy has just turned thirty and is an incredibly successful magazine editor, working closely with her best friend Emily, another Runway survivor. She’s about to get married – life’s on track and she’s been careful to stay clear of Miranda Priestly, her dreadful first boss. But Andy’s luck is running out. Miranda Priestly isn’t the kind of woman who hides in the background.

She’s back… and more devilish than ever."

Book News: Two For Joy by Helen Chandler

Another debut novelist this year is Helen Chandler, and her brand new novel Two For Joy sounds like it's my cup of tea. I really love the cover, I love the colour scheme, and it really makes me want to pick it up and read it right now. It's out on 6th June, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

You can pre-order Two For Joy as an eBook or a paperback now.

"Julia and Toby have been friends for years, but apart from a couple of drunken snogs in their university days, there's never been anything more than friendship between them. It's only when Toby goes through a dramatic break up with his gorgeous ballerina girlfriend Ruby, that he and Julia realise they're meant to be together.

Then Ruby drops a bombshell - she's pregnant - and though he feels torn in two, Toby feels he has to give their relationship another chance.

Heartbroken Julia is left to lick her wounds in her little Walthamstow home, thinking she has lost Toby forever. But things soon become much more complicated . . "

3 April 2013

Book Review: A Cottage by the Sea by Carole Matthews

"Grace has been best friends with Ella and Flick forever. The late-night chats, shared heartaches and good times have created a bond that has stood the test of time.

When Ella invites them to stay for a week in her cottage in South Wales, Grace jumps at the chance to see her old friends. She also hopes that the change of scenery will help her reconnect with her distant husband.

Then Flick arrives; loveable, bubbly, incorrigible Flick, accompanied by the handsome and charming Noah.

This is going to be one week which will change all their lives forever...

Join Grace, Ella and Flick for a week of love, laughter, tears and friendship in A Cottage by the Sea."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy A Cottage by the Sea as a paperback or an eBook now.

I was pleased to be sent a review copy of Carole Matthews' brand new book A Cottage By the Sea a few months as I really liked the idea of this book. It sounded like it was just about friendship, nothing else, and it was going to be enjoyable, as all of Carole's books are. I loved the cover when I first saw it too, such a beautiful image and it certainly makes the book look like one you want to sit and devour, especially in this horribly cold weather, and it looks bright and sunny on the cover of this one!

The book is about a woman called Grace, and the friendship she has with her two friends whilst they are all on holiday together, staying in Ella's family cottage in South Wales called Cwtch Cottage. Grace's marriage is in trouble, and she is sure this holiday is either going to make or break the bond between her and husband Harry. Trouble is, she's not sure her husband can live without Twitter or the internet for a week while they are there. Then there's her other friend Flick. The three have been best friends since they were young, but Flick has always been the flighty one of the group, and Grace isn't sure how to talk to her high-flying friend anymore, especially when she turns up with yet another man, Noah, in tow. Their week in the cottage by the sea will certainly stretch their friendships more than they dreamed possible, but will it be a happy ending for all of the friends?

I really enjoyed this book for so many reasons. I liked that there wasn't a gimmick with it, it's just a good old-fashioned story about female friendships and the ups and downs that they go through. All three of the women are very different, but that is what makes it fun to read, because you just know things aren't going to go smoothly for them all on holiday. The main character of the book is Grace, and I warmed to her from the start. She's just keen to have a good time in the cottage, and I could certainly understand her frustration at her husband, paying more attention to his phone than to her, and I expect in this technological day and age, this is something that is becoming more and more common! You do feel sorry for her, and as the book went on, I certainly had my own hopes for her happy ending.

The stories involving the other women were good to read as well, and Matthews cleverly weaves them all together so effortlessly. I really liked Ella's story - I could see where it was going, but still you can't help but hope for a change of heart, and I enjoyed reading it as it went along. Noah is the mysterious male of the piece, and he was written perfectly. He seems the perfect man in all ways, polite, a good cook, fun to be around and helpful in difficult situations, and although things with him were a bit predictable, I didn't mind because it was such an enjoyable read. Another thing I loved about this book was Matthews' descriptions of the cottage and the Welsh countryside - it sounded absolutely idyllic and like the perfect holiday, in the middle of nowhere in the peace and quiet, and I really enjoyed reading the descriptions and being taken away mentally on Grace's holiday.

A Cottage by the Sea is a delightful and charming read that I enjoyed from start to finish. I loved how I was swept away into the Welsh countryside with this group of friends, and experienced their highs and lows along with them. I was particularly drawn into Ella's story, which I felt was really well written, and Grace was a great main character who you were really hoping for a happy ending for. Yes, it was a tad predictable in that I knew what would happen by the end, but it really didn't matter because I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns it took to get there. As usual, Matthews has written the perfect book to sit down and devour, it's a great holiday read, and I bet you'll enjoy it just as much as I have. A fantastic book that makes me eager to read yet more from Carole Matthews!

2 April 2013

Book News: The Lying Game by Tess Stimson

I am a big fan of Tess Stimson's writing - her books are always gripping reads and cover subjects you don't always get to read about, and therefore I get really excited for a new book from her. The Lying Game sounds amazing, and I cannot wait to read it. It's due out on 23rd May, not long to wait!

You can pre-order The Lying Game as a paperback or an eBook now!

"There are some things we are never meant to know . . . Harriet Lockwood has never really felt that strong mother-daughter bond between herself and her daughter, Florence. Then one day she finds the reason why. The girl she has raised for the last fifteen years is not her biological child. Zoey Sands has a somewhat chaotic lifestyle and is completely the opposite of Harriet Lockwood, but the one constant thing in her life is her daughter Nell. Could it be that Nell isn't her child. When Harriet turns up on Zoey’s doorstep wanting to see her biological daughter, the two families are instantly thrown together and nothing can ever be the same again."

1 April 2013

Book News: The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne

I'm really pleased to see Hester Browne is back this year with a brand new novel with publishers Quercus, and it sounds like a really good one to read too. The Runaway Princess is out already as an eBook but is coming as a paperback on June 6th. I have to say the book cover is so pretty as well!

You can buy the eBook now, or pre-order the paperback.

"Amy Wilde is tired of the idiots her glamorous flatmate Jo tries to set her up with - she'd much rather be landscaping a garden with her dog Badger at her side than trying to find the man of her dreams. That is, until she meets Leo Wolfsburg. Handsome, polite, funny, intriguing - Leo is everything Amy could want in a man. Best of all, the attraction seems mutual.

But Leo's lifestyle is a world away from her own. Private planes, charity balls, exclusive members' clubs - Amy begins to realise that her simple existence has been turned upside down. And just where is Leo's home country of Nirona, anyway? Is this all too good to be true?"