28 February 2014

Book News: The Perfect Match by Katie Fforde

Katie Fforde is back next month with a brand new book, The Perfect Match. I really love her new cover design, I think it really suits Katie's books and I really like the look of this book too. I have enjoyed the books by Katie that I've read so far, and I hope I get the chance to read it soon. It's out on 13th March.

You can pre-order The Perfect Match as a hardback or as an eBook now.

"Three years ago Bella Castle left her home town nursing a broken heart over Dominic Thane, the man she fell in love with but couldn't have .

Now she's made a new life for herself in the country, working as an estate agent.

Bella loves her job and she loves her boyfriend Nevil. But recently he's been preoccupied, and she's starting to question if his future hopes and dreams are a perfect match for hers.

And when Dominic turns up unexpectedly in search of his dream house, she begins to wonder if home is really where the heart is. But she's over him, isn't she?"

27 February 2014

Book Review: The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman

"'Today is my death anniversary. A year ago today I was still alive.'

Rachel, Max and their daughter Ellie had the perfect life - until the night Rachel's heart stopped beating.

Now Max and Ellie are doing their best to adapt to life without Rachel, and just as her family can't forget her, Rachel can't quite let go of them either. Caught in a place between worlds, Rachel watches helplessly as she begins to fade from their lives. And when Max is persuaded by family and friends to start dating again, Rachel starts to understand that dying was just the beginning of her problems.

As Rachel grieves for the life she's lost and the life she'll never lead, she learns that sometimes the thing that breaks your heart might be the very thing you hope for."

Rating: 5/5

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

Occasionally, there is news of a debut novel that sounds so amazing, you just know you want to read it the minute you get your hands on it, and hope that it's worth all the excitement around it. One of those books for me is Hannah Beckerman's debut novel The Dead Wife's Handbook. With its straight and to-the-point title, you know what you're getting with this novel, and I've been looking forward to this since late 2013, when I first heard about it. I was utterly thrilled to be sent a proof copy from Hannah when I won one on Twitter, and I am pleased to say that the book was every bit as good as I was expecting, and much, much more.

Rachel's life was utterly perfect. She was happily married to Max, living in their beautiful home with their young daughter Ellie, and thought she had it all. However, when she suddenly dies, Rachel leaves behind everything she held dear and precious for her. But Rachel soon finds herself watching her loved ones from afar, unable to communicate with them but able to see them grieving for her, living their lives without her around. Rachel isn't prepared for how difficult she finds this new aspect of her new existence, and as Max, Ellie and the rest of their family move on as time ticks on, Rachel wonders how she is going to cope seeing her life being lived out without her being a part of it.

You can tell both from the synopsis, and even the title of the book, that this is going to be a hard-hitting emotional read. I've read lots of books that have really touched me, that have lingered with me long after turning the first page, but The Dead Wife's Handbook seems to be on a completely different scale. As I was reading, I just could not stop myself from putting myself in Rachel's shoes. As the mother of a young son, leaving him behind is my worst nightmare, and I could not think of any worse to happen that for me to die while he is so young. Rachel was going through this living nightmare, and it is very hard reading throughout. She is forced to watch her daughter from afar, learning to live without her, watching her cry over missing her mother and eventually beginning to get on with life without the huge burden of grief hanging over her. The way she is only allowed infrequent glimpses into their life too shows how separated she is from their reality, often missing months at a time and having to hope no significant changes have happened in Ellie and Max's lives.

This is painfully raw reading, and Beckerman narrates it so perfectly. She hits on every emotion with such accuracy that you really feel everything along with Rachel - and you don't have to be a mother for this to resonate with you. It's an amazing portrayal of grief, of loss and heartache. Rachel yearns to be with her family, but knows it's impossible. I felt so sorry for her, stuck in a situation she would give anything to not be a part of, and watching her family get on without her and start to introduce new people into their life was heart-breaking, it moved me to tears several times and as I said, really hit home with me. Rachel's narration is emotive, and the fact we get the flashes into Max and Ellie's life through her means we see not only their life, but Rachel's opinions and emotions on everything too, a very unique and touching narrative.

For me, though, my favourite character by far was Ellie, Rachel's young daughter. Hannah Beckerman writes this wonderful little girl with such realism, she seems real to you as you're reading and my heart hurted for the pain she was going through. At such a young age, she doesn't how to cope with the loss of her beloved mother, and her relationship with Max, her father is so beautifully written, and so moving, hearing the pair discuss Rachel, her effect of their life and keeping her alive for Ellie in her mind. Max, too, was a fantastic character, being pulled in all directions by the people that he loves. He's a grieving husband, still deeply in love with his deceased wife and not knowing how to move on, you feel so desperately sad for him and as he moves forward with his life, I was just hoping that he and Ellie could find a happy ending of their own in some way, one that Rachel could be at peace with too.

For me, this stunning and thought-provoking debut novel is one of the best books I have read recently. While it is a tragic subject, and reading about it isn't easy, at times it is indeed quite painful, Beckerman's writing is just perfect and deals with the issues in the book sensitively and with such grace. As a young mother myself, I hated what Rachel was going through, and I did find the novel hard to read, as I kept putting myself in Rachel's shoes, and consequently it was a very emotional read for me. It makes you think about that awful 'what if' moment, what would happen to your family if something terrible were to happen to you. It's a very raw book, some will find the subject matter too close to home, but for me it was a stunning portrayal of grief, love and loss, and cannot fail to move even the coldest of hearts. For a debut, this is amazingly written, and I cannot wait to see what Hannah Beckerman will come up with next. Poignant reading at its absolute best. Simply brilliant.

Book News: One Night in Italy by Lucy Diamond

I am in love with the cover of Lucy Diamond's new book, One Night in Italy! It's due out on June 5th, and I really love Lucy's books, they are always a highlight of my summer reading. This one sounds like a fantastic read, and perhaps this can bring a bit of Italian sunshine into our damp squib of a British summer!

You can pre-order One Night in Italy as an eBook or a paperback now.

"Anna has never known her dad, and with her mum stubbornly refusing to talk about him, she's given up all hope. But then she stumbles across a clue that her father is Italian, and feels as if a spark has been lit. Soon Anna's baking focaccia and whipping up tiramisu, enrolling for an Italian class and even considering dusting off her passport to go and find her dad in person.

Fiercely independent, Sophie has travelled the world and now lives in Sorrento. When family circumstances force her back to England for the first time in years, she has to face the tensions that drove her away so long ago. She takes a part-time job teaching Italian to make ends meet, vowing to jet off again just as soon as possible. But sometimes life - and love - can surprise you.

Catherine doesn't know who she is any more. Her children have left for university, her husband has left for another woman and her world feels empty. At an Italian evening class she makes a fresh start by finding Anna and Sophie - but she's going to need courage as well as friends when she discovers her husband's lies run even deeper than his infidelity . . .

As the truth emerges about one fateful summer in Italy, Anna, Catherine and Sophie have to confront secrets and betrayals from the past. With new friendships and love affairs blossoming in the most unlikely places, this year looks set to be one they'll never forget."

24 February 2014

Book Review: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

"Meet Don Tillman.

Don is getting married.

He just doesn't know who to yet.

But he has designed a very detailed questionnaire to help him find the perfect woman.

One thing he already knows, though, is that it's not Rosie.

Absolutely, completely, definitely not.

Don Tillman is a socially challenged genetics professor who's decided the time has come to find a wife. His questionnaire is intended to weed out anyone who's unsuitable. The trouble is, Don has rather high standards and doesn't really do flexible so, despite lots of takers, he's not having much success in identifying The One.

When Rosie Jarman comes to his office, Don assumes it's to apply for the Wife Project - and duly discounts her on the grounds she smokes, drinks, doesn't eat meat, and is incapable of punctuality. However, Rosie has no interest in becoming Mrs Tillman and is actually there to enlist Don's assistance in a professional capacity: to help her find her biological father.

Sometimes, though, you don't find love: love finds you..."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Rosie Project as a paperback or an eBook now.

I don't usually stray from my favourite genre of chick lit, but occasionally there is a book that piques my interest and I decide that I have to try and fit it in somewhere in my busy reading schedule! The latest book that I wanted to read was a debut novel by Australian author Graeme Simsion. His novel The Rosie Project has received rave reviews across reviews blogs, and it really sounded like something that would make an interesting read. I don't know a huge deal about the main subject of Aspergers, but I hoped that I would find the story just as brilliant as everyone else who has read and loved it so far.

Dr Don Tillman is a genetics professor, a clever man but clearly is on the Aspergers spectrum. Don loves his life being in order - so much so that he has set times of day for doing activities, how long they last and he really doesn't like it when things get in the way of it. When Don realises he might quite like to settle down with a woman, he sets about creating a very detailed questionnaire, so he doesn't waste unnecessary time with women that aren't wife material for him. When his friend puts him in touch with Rosie, he assumes it is because she's applying for the wife project. The pair strike up an unlikely friendship, especially when Rosie makes it clear she's not at all romantically interested in Don - instead she wants his help in tracing her biological father. Don decides to help her but is unsure about how to handle the new feelings he has for Rosie...

Don is the perfect narrator for this book, and he is exactly what makes it work. I loved his narration, written in the first person, it allows us to see right into Don's mind and it's funny without necessarily meaning to be so, yet Simsion doesn't make a laughing stock of Tillman - it's just how he is and the people around him learn to adapt to his abruptness, his frankness and obsession with sticking to his timetable. I really warmed to Don from the beginning. His honesty leads to more than a few cringeworthy moments in the book, but Don really has no idea of the emotions he causes in others with the things that he says. I sat there thinking 'surely he didn't just say that' but of course he did, and that's what makes this such a brilliant read. Yes, some of the things he comes out with are a bit bizarre and strange, but again, it's just part of what makes Don, Don.

His relationship with others in the book is very interesting. He has a best friend, Gene, a lecturer in Psychology at the University where he works, and he seems to fit in with Don's schedule quite well, and his wife is very understanding of Don too. He sees them as his friends, and given he thinks he only has a few that's a precious status for them to hold. When Rosie comes into his life, he immediately strikes her off as a potential wife candidate - she smokes, she drinks a lot, and she's a vegetarian amongst other things, but there is something about Rosie that Don quite likes. Yes, he wants to help her find her biological father but I always got the impression there was something bubbling below the surface between these two. Yes, it's obvious Don likes her but has no idea how to handle the idea of asking a woman out on a date or on how to progress things so there's some quite funny musings of Don's along the way.

I loved this book from start to finish, and really loved the narrative of Don - it just works, and it's his issues that make it all the more readable. There's nothing shocking or any major plot twists or developments in this book - it actually doesn't need them at all. Instead, it's reading about Don trying to explore a new world to him that is so compulsive, working out how to be around people without saying the wrong thing, or learning that going over schedule by 10 minutes isn't the end of the world, as he fears at the beginning of his story. Yes, for me I could see the end coming, and I had hoped that it would be as it was, it seemed the right ending somehow. But I loved reading about Don Tillman. There's some interesting genetics facts thrown in along the way courtesy of Don, but aside from that it's a book about Asperger's and about human relationships. It certainly enlightened me, showed a view of the world that I knew nothing about before picking up The Rosie Project, yet had me smiling and laughing along, hoping for a love story from these two people, very different yet oddly similar to each other. The writing is brilliant, the story one you will want to keep reading until you reach the last page - for me, The Rosie Project was a joy to read, and a gem of a book. Highly, highly recommended.

Book News: A Summer to Remember by Victoria Connelly

I've been looking lately at some of the books that are due out this summer, trying to make myself feel a bit cheerful in this chilly winter we are having! One such book I am looking forward to is Victoria Connelly's latest novel A Summer to Remember. It has the most gorgeous cover, bright and colourful, and the story sounds fantastic too! It's out on 5th June.

You can pre-order A Summer to Remember as a paperback or an eBook now.

"Nina Elliot is tired of her life. She’s not sure how it happened but, somewhere along the way, she lost track of where it was all going.

So one fateful day, she makes a brave decision: she’s going to leave it all behind. Taking a job deep in the English countryside, Nina does just that. Ensconced at the Old Mill, she settles into daily life with the Milton family, where she works as a researcher for author Dudley.

With endless summer days stretching out ahead of her, Nina couldn’t be happier. But her quiet life is soon interrupted when the handsome Milton boys return home – for they plan to make sure this really is a summer to remember…"

22 February 2014

Book Review: Melting Ms Frost by Kat Black

"How do you thaw the coldest of hearts? Find out in the sexiest romance to hit the shelves this year.

When Aidan Flynn walks into Cluny’s Restaurant, he can’t take his eyes off his new boss, Annabel Frost. With his heart set on winning her over, Aidan can think of nothing but getting beneath her cold exterior.

Known as one of the toughest women in the business, Annabel is impervious to Aidan’s many charms. His compelling grey gaze and persuasive Irish lilt do anything but captivate her.

But Aidan senses there’s more to Annabel than meets the eye. And he’s not going to stop until he reveals all…"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Melting Ms Frost as a paperback or an eBook now.

I do love reading a debut novel, finding an exciting new voice in fiction that I haven't tried before. Although this technically isn't Kat Black's debut novel, this is her first book with publishers Avon. I really like the cover, it's bold and simple, and suits the book perfectly, you can well imagine that the woman on the cover is indeed Annabel Frost! I'd heard things about this book, such as 'if you enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey then you'll love this' and that it was a bit of a naughty read, so I went into it with my eyes wide open and I'm pleased that I did!

Annabel Frost is certainly a woman who suits her name - her frosty nature doesn't entice her to her colleagues, and she prefers not to fraternise with her employees either. When she has a small week's leave, she comes back to find that the restaurants owner has hired a new barman without her knowing, Aidan Flynn. Aidan is sure that there is more going on behind Annabel's cold facade than meets the eye, and is determined to make her crack and find the loving side to Annabel he's sure is there somewhere. However, Annabel isn't going to let someone in that easily, but it might prove harder to resist Aidan than she first thought....

I'll be honest and admit I found the book quite hard to get into at first. It was very heavy on narrative, with a lack of dialogue, and it seemed to get a bit bogged down at times with it. I had to put it away for a few nights, then go back to it in order to really get into the book. After about a third of the book, I had warmed up to it and finally felt like I was engaged in the story and wanting to read on and find out more. Annabel was a tough character to like, she seems very hard-faced and not at all easy to warm to as a leading lady for the book. Perhaps this is why I found it a bit hard to get into - I prefer main characters that I can love and sympathise with, and I just wasn't there at all with Annabel.

Aidan is most definitely the most likeable character in the book. Yes, he's a bit forward with Annabel, much more so than she would like, but he's got a good heart and I just hoped she would open up and let him in her life a little bit. You get the feeling there's more to Aidan than meets the eye, and I was right, but I liked how things are revealed in the book. The relationship between Aidan and Annabel takes a long while to get going, again it feels a little bit dragged out but I was pleased when things finally got moving. As it progresses, the book starts to b e littered with more and more sex scenes, and these are very well written. There's nothing too smutty in here, but they were fun to read, and I felt Black has handled well, and other reviewers are right, I'm sure you will enjoy this if you liked 'Fifty Shades'!

For me, the book was a good read. It's a long book, perhaps a little bit long for my liking but it certainly picked up towards the end half of it. I really liked the twist that came in the final quarter, it really allows us to see a much more different side to these characters and I enjoyed this bit far more than any other part of the book. The setting of a restaurant is good, although we spend a lot of time there, there isn't a huge amount of detail about the restaurant, food or anything, mainly things about Annabel's job as the manager and Aidan's as the barman. Kat Black's writing is easy to read, although perhaps a little too heavy on the detail for me, I prefer a little more dialogue between my characters. There's a lot of different emotions going on in this book, and they're handled well with their characters and the storylines involved. It was a fun read, lots of sex so not for the faint-hearted! A very good debut.

21 February 2014

Book Review: With or Without You by Helen Warner

"What if everything you ever wanted was not enough?

Martha Lamont has it all: a passionate marriage, two well-adjusted children, a lovely home and a high-profile job as a showbiz interviewer for a major national newspaper. Her gorgeous husband, Jamie, is happy being a stay-at-home-dad while she pursues her career. 

But appearances are often deceiving. One day, Martha makes a discovery that rocks the very foundation of her world and she begins to question everything she thought she wanted.

Then, during an interview with a famous actor, Charlie Simmons, Martha finds herself pouring her heart out. And soon their friendship turns into an intense relationship… 

Now, Martha must make the toughest decision of her life. Does she fight to keep the life she loves? Or are some betrayals just too big to forgive?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy With or Without You as a paperback or an eBook now.

I was sent this book to review by Simon and Schuster, and I was surprised because somehow I didn't know that Helen Warner had a new book out. I have read and enjoyed her previous few books, and therefore decided this one would definitely be worth a read. I really like the cover - it's quite under-stated but suits the book a lot, it's very different to Helen's other book covers as well which I have to say is a good thing! I really did enjoy the story, it was a nice escapist read from start to finish, and I'd definitely recommend With or Without You.

Martha has a pretty good life, and she's happy with her lot. She loves her job as a newspaper journalist, writing things about celebrities, often interviewing them as well and she's good at it. She's happily married to husband Jamie, and the pair have two young children. Jamie's a stay-at-home dad, and the set up works well for the pair. But when Martha finds out a devastating secret, her world is rocked to the very core. She decides to see through her interview with actor Charlie Simmons, and ends up confessing all. She decides she needs to escape her life for a bit, and ends up in LA with Charlie, running away from her problems rather than dealing with them...

This book was an easy read from the beginning, and I didn't struggle at all to get into the story. I found myself absorbed into Martha and Jamie's home life, seemingly a perfect marriage. The pair are happy in their roles, their children are settled and things are looking good. But when Martha uncovers a secret, everything is thrown into disarray. The secret is uncovered fairly quickly in the book, and I'm pleased that the pace was kept up. There was enough story before it to give us an idea of their family life before the secret throws it all apart, so we can really see the difference of how it shatters not only Jamie and Martha's marriage, but their general life too.

I really did feel so sorry for Martha. She did absolutely nothing wrong, she was entirely faultless in what happened and is clearly a broken woman when she finds out what has been happening. I admired how she was able to put on a brave face for her children, but could totally understand her shocking reactions when they aren't about. Jamie on the hand, well, he has an excuse for everything but I wasn't buying it. There were times later in the book when I did feel a little bit more sorry for him, but my main emotions laid with Martha and her children, she was going through so much and was confused by everything. Warner writes her emotions so well, you are almost feeling them along with Martha, and I certainly had a few choice words for Jamie!

The part of the story when Martha confides in famous actor Charlie and beyond, well that was a fantastic part of the story that fitted in so well. It really allowed us to see a nice side to Martha, one who could try and forget her troubles for a while, and her lifestyle in LA with Charlie was like a dream come true. I loved the addition of Charlie and his back story too. Once an actor famous on TV in the UK, his career took him to Hollywood with his wife and young son until their marriage fell apart, much like Martha and Jamie's. Therefore he related to Martha, and the pair's relationship quickly becomes very intense. I enjoyed this storyline a lot, I didn't know where it was going, and thought it was very well handled. Charlie seemed like the perfect gent next to Jamie, you can see why Martha liked him so much.

Overall, this was a brilliant read and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. Helen Warner's writing was really easy to read, and she brings the story to life on the pages so well, I could almost feel Martha's emotions along with her, sadness, sorrow, anger and love despite everything too. I want to also say that I felt Martha and Jamie's children were well written too, some authors don't know how to write realistic children in their books, but this wasn't a problem here and there were several touching scenes with them that really made the book for me. Travelling from the UK over to the bright lights of LA, this book has a bit of everything for you to enjoy - it's a fantastic, well written read that I can definitely recommend, I'll look forward to more of Helen Warner's novels!

RNA Shortlist 2014 revealed!

The shortlist for the 2014 Romantic Novelists Association Awards has been revealed! There are some fantastic nominations on there, and I have read quite a few of the books as well so I know there are a lot of worthy nominees! The awards ceremony takes place on March 17th (Harry's birthday!!) in London, and Darcey Bussell CBE will be presenting the awards, including that of 'Romantic Novel of the Year', a book chosen from all the nomiated books across all categories. All the nominations are listed below in relevant categories, I have not included YA or RNA Rose Award nominations here.

Contemporary Romantic Novel

Helen Chandler - Two for Joy

Susan Elliot Wright - The Things We Never Said

Veronica Henry - A Night On The Orient Express

Lisa J Hobman - Bridge Over The Atlantic

Lisa Jewell - Before I Met You

Pippa Wright - The Foster Husband

Epic Romantic Novel

Jessica Blair - The Road Beneath Me

Mary Fitzgerald - The Love Of A Lifetime

Emma Fraser - When Dawn Breaks

Kate Lord Brown - The Perfume Garden

Jennifer McVeigh - The Fever Tree

Lucinda Riley - The Midnight Rose

Historical Romantic Novel

Charlotte Betts - The Painter's Apprentice

Christina Courtenay - The Gilded Fan

Liz Harris - A Bargain Struck

Joanna Hickson - The Agincourt Bride

Carol McGrath - The Handfasted Wife

Annie Murray - The Women Of Lilac Street

Romantic Comedy Novel

Jenny Colgan - Christmas At The Cupcake Café

Jenny Colgan - The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris

Margaret James - The Wedding Diary

Milly Johnson - It's Raining Men

Ali McNamara - Step Back In Time

Fiona Walker - The Summer Wedding

20 February 2014

Book Review: Just A Girl, Standing in Front of a Boy by Lucy-Anne Holmes

"'My love story may not be the sort you read about in books or see in films . . . Love stories have glorious highs and ghastly lows. But when it comes to my own life, I'd have to say, you can keep your fabulous highs and I'll happily steer clear of the terrible lows.' 

After a rocky start in life, Jenny Taylor, 27, star receptionist at the local doctors surgery, has things all worked out thanks to a list of ten daily things she must do to keep the blues at bay. But her life is turned upside down when she meets aspiring musician Joe King. And reliable boyfriend Matt proposes. And then her mum leaves her dad and moves into Jenny's flat determined to 'bond'. "

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Just A Girl Standing in front of a Boy as a paperback or an eBook now.

I love Lucy-Anne Holmes' books. They are always brilliant reads, and I have been looking forward to reading this one for a while now. I love the plain and simple cover - together with the book's catchy title it certainly piques your interest in the book and makes me want to find out more about it! I was lucky enough to receive a proof review copy from the publishers, and eagerly set about reading it last week. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and thought it was one of Lucy-Anne's best books to date. Here's why I think Just A Girl Standing in Front of a Boy is a must-read.

Jenny Taylor thinks she has finally met the man of her dreams, her very own Mr Right, when she meets Joe King. The pair feel like kindred spirits and are sure they are destined to be together. However, Jenny's plans are thrown into awry when her steady boyfriend, Mr Reliable, Matt proposes to her. It's all Jenny has wanted for a while, but now it's happened, she's suddenly feeling very unsure. Just as Jenny is trying to sort out her life, her mum turns up on her doorstep too, wanting to make amends for all the years she's spent without being close to Jenny, and to start getting over Jenny's dad, who she has just left! Jenny doesn't quite know how to deal with all her problems, and needs to find a good place to start...

First of all, I want to say how well written this book is. I really was able to lose myself in Jenny's narrative, feel part of her world for a while and I loved that. I love feeling a part of a book, and Lucy-Anne's writing is just brilliant for that. As usual, she has created a lead character that you can love. Jenny Taylor is the perfect friend next door - she's funny, she's warm, she's kind and she's just a nice person. Her best friend Phillippa is another one who I loved, the pair have such a warm and genuine friendship, it's nice to read that in a book! Jenny's finally coming through her depression, and what Phillippa does to help her get over that is nothing short of amazing, we all need a friend like that in our lives.

Jenny's love life is a bit complicated, and although she's got a boyfriend, Matt, you can understand why she falls for Joe King. There's quite a bit of joking about their names, and the pair seem spookily similar, like they are destined to be together. I was willing Jenny to get rid of Matt, but he's a bit like a bad smell - you can't get rid of him if you try! Then there's the added problem of Jenny's mum Pam coming to live with her out of the blue. I loved her character, trying to be young and single again, leaving Jenny unsure of how to deal with her mum and her new escapades! It was funny, I did laugh as I was reading it, and you could certainly have fun putting yourself in Jenny's shoes, I don't know I would have dealt with all her things going on!

While there is the funny side to the book, Lucy-Anne cleverly balances this with a more serious and sombre side too. There's a shock revelation at the end of the book that I didn't see coming whatsoever, and it really shocked me. It showed us a totally new side to Jenny, and this part of the book moved me to tears - it was so well done and so emotional, but it seemed right somehow that it was there. There's a lot of love in this book - love in its different forms - between friends, mother and daughter, boyfriend and girlfriend etc, and it shows us how all these different loves in our lives can shape us as a person. The book flows beautifully and I enjoyed it from start to finish. The book moved me, it made me laugh and it made me smile. I loved Jenny Taylor, and I'm sure you will too, how can you not?! A wonderful book, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

19 February 2014

Book News: You're The One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher

I adored Giovanna Fletcher's debut Billy and Me last year, so I was thrilled to see she is back this with a brand new novel! You're The One That I Want has an amazingly gorgeous cover, it's so pretty! (Click it to see a bigger view). The book is due out on May 22nd, not too long to wait!

You can pre-order You're The One That I Want as a paperback or an eBook now.

"Maddy, dressed in white, stands at the back of the church. At the end of the aisle is Rob - the man she's about to marry. Next to Rob is Ben - best man and the best friend any two people ever had.

And that's the problem.

Because if it wasn't Rob waiting for her at the altar, there's a strong chance it would be Ben. Loyal and sensitive Ben has always kept his feelings to himself, but if he turned round and told Maddy she was making a mistake, would she listen? And would he be right?

Best friends since childhood, Maddy, Ben and Rob thought their bond was unbreakable. But love changes everything. Maddy has a choice to make but will she choose wisely? Her heart, and the hearts of the two best men she knows, depend on it..."

Book News: Your Beautiful Lies by Louise Douglas

Louise Douglas is back this year with a brand new novel, Your Beautiful Lies. It's not out until August 14th so we've got a bit of a wait, but I have loved everything Louise has written so far so I've got high hopes for this one! It sounds like a bit of a spooky book, many of Louise's books have a psychological element to them, and this sounds no different. I'm really looking forward to reading it.

You can pre-order Your Beautiful Lies as a paperback now.

"Annie Howarth is living a restless life in a restless town. The mining strikes mean tensions are already running high, but when a murdered girl is found on the moors the community's anxiety levels are pushed to breaking point.

Married to the Chief of Police, Annie should feel safe - William can be secretive, but surely whatever he's hiding is for her own good.

But Annie is keeping her own secrets. Ten years ago the man she loved was ripped from her life in a scandal that still haunts the both of them, and his return has led her to put everything she has at risk..."

18 February 2014

Book News: Ice Creams at Carrington's by Alexandra Brown

Alexandra Brown is back this summer with the third novel in her 'Carrington's' series, and it looks like a good one! Ice Creams at Carrington's is due out on 5th June, and I am in love with the cover, the pastels are fantastic and it looks so summery! I'm excited to read it and find out what happens next for Georgie Hart...

You can pre-order Ice Creams at Carrington's as an eBook or a paperback now.

"Georgie Hart and Carrington’s Department Store have got the world at their feet. Since a reality TV series put them both on the map, life has been amazing! Carrington’s profits are in the pink, Georgie has carved herself a place in the nation’s heart and even better, her romance with Tom, the store’s boss, has finally blossomed after a shaky start.

Now summertime has come to Mulberry-on -Sea and Georgie is in great demand. The town is holding a big summer festival and she and her mates from Carrington’s are planning on making sure that Mulberry puts on the show of its life!

But Georgie is about to get the offer of a lifetime – one that is just too good to turn down and something that will test her loyalties to their limits… Will Georgie be able to pull off it off once again, or has her luck finally run out?"

17 February 2014

Book Review: The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman

"The name of your first-born. The face of your lover. Your age. Your address...

What would happen if your memory of these began to fade?

Is it possible to rebuild your life? Raise a family? Fall in love again?

When Claire starts to write her Memory Book, she already knows that this scrapbook of mementoes will soon be all her daughters and husband have of her. But how can she hold on to the past when her future is slipping through her fingers...?"

Rating: 5/5

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

Rowan Coleman has quickly become of my favourite authors, both with her amazingly emotional books and her more seasonal offerings under her pen name of Scarlett Bailey. Her past few books, Dearest Rose and Lessons in Laughing Out Loud have been amazing books, full of serious stories handled so sensitively by Rowan, and they have been books that have stayed with me. I can safely say that The Memory Book is the most emotional of the lot, a real tear-jerker of a read, cleverly interspersed with moments to make you smile and that make you grateful for the life you have now. Here's why The Memory Book is already one of my top reads of 2014.

Claire thought she had it all. She's married to her gorgeous husband Greg, mum to her lovely daughters Caitlin and Esther, and she loves her job as a teacher. But Claire's world is blown apart when she gets a devastating diagnosis that threaten to ruin everything she has built up over the years - Claire has early onset Alzheimer's.  She starts to log her own memories in her new memory book, everything from raising Caitlin as a single parent, to meeting her husband and having their baby girl Esther together. Claire's family struggle as the woman they know and love starts to drift away from them, through no fault of her own. Will Claire be able to hang on to even a bit of her past when she's so unsure about her future?

As you can tell from the synopsis, this isn't going to be an easy read, and it really wasn't. It was hard-hitting in places, had me in tears because of what poor Claire was going through and the injustice of the disease, robbing someone of their memories, their mental faculties and leaving those left behind feeling devastated and bereft - the person is still there in body, but what makes them 'them' has disappeared forever. It was a book about Claire dealing with her disease, how her decline affects her family but ultimately about her memories of a life full of happiness and love. It's a very moving and emotional story, and Coleman handles it so beautifully, her writing is a joy to read and I was completely consumed by the novel.

The book is told through several narratives. There's Claire, of course, who is our main narrator. She's struggling with her Alzheimer's as we meet her in the book, and it does make for some hard, yet at times amusing reading. Claire can't remember the names of simple things like her watch, where she lives or even how to perform basic household tasks anymore, so is reliant on her mum, eldest daughter and her husband to help her get by, but she doesn't like being reliant on other people. Claire sees it as giving up her freedoms, and is struggling to get by in her new life. It's Claire's brain letting her down - she still wants to be herself but doesn't realise her new limitations, and subjects her family to some frightening realisations when Claire decides to take matters into her own hands.

But it's the story of her family which is all the more heart-breaking. There's eldest daughter Caitlin's narrative, going through her own personal strife as well as dealing with losing her mum a bit more every day, and trying to take on the caring responsibility too. She's got a mature head on her shoulders, but I did feel incredibly sorry for her and what she was going through, Coleman makes her a very sympathetic character, and one you just want to hug. Claire's mum is also present in the book, angry at what is happening to her daughter, but equally devastated as this is the way she lost her beloved husband too. Claire's mum knows what is coming, and I think that makes it all the more difficult and devastating to deal with. But it was Greg's story which frequently moved me to tears. It was Coleman's observations which were utterly devastating, one line about extra pages in Claire's memory book hit me hard and moved to tears, it was just so poignant.

I really enjoyed the stories within the memory book that Claire and her family contribute too. It gives us a bit of a look into Claire's life before the Alzheimer's took hold, and it showed us she has had a happy and fulfilled life. The memories shared by her mother and daughter complete the story, and made me smile. We can see the difference between Claire then and now, although I did find Claire's reasoning and rationalising her behaviour in her current state amusing at times, she almost reverts to a childlike mindset, and it is a little light relief throughout the book - I was constantly thinking of her poor family left behind picking up the pieces of madcap ideas though. This is one of the best books I have ever read. Yes, it's emotional and devastating, but it's a novel that will stay with you long after you turn the final page. It's an honest account of how living and dealing with Alzheimer's affects everyone - yet it uplifted me because it showed me love can transgress even the most awful of scenario's. The ending made my heart soar, my eyes cry and me feel so utterly moved. Heart-breaking, and simply brilliant. Thank you, Rowan Coleman.

Book News: The Inheritance by Tilly Bagshawe

Tilly Bagshawe is one of my favourite authors. I'm really pleased she is back this year with a brand new novel called The Inheritance. It's due out on June 19th and has a bit of a different cover look to her other books too. Tilly's books are always a fantastic escapist read, and I'm sure this one will be no different.

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

"Tatiana Flint-Hamilton’s gilded cage is torn away when her estranged father dies. As the beloved family estate slips through Tati’s fingers, the portraits of her ancestors look down disapprovingly.

The new Lord of the Manor is just as ruthless as Tati. The old-world status of Furlings is everything the wealthy, self-made Brett Cranley has ever wanted. Luckily his wife Angela is the perfect homemaker, happy to fall into line with whatever Brett desires. Along with her two children, Furlings soon becomes Angela’s lifeline, a place she can finally belong. And one she’s not going to give up easily.

Losing everything has made Tati realise that her rightful inheritance is all that she now lives for… and she will do anything to get it back.

But the fate of Furlings lies in the hands of the villagers.

Let the Fittlescombe fireworks begin!"

15 February 2014

Book Review: The Winter Folly by Lulu Taylor

"In this house there are many secrets… It is 1965 and young Alexandra Crewe obediently marries the man her father has selected for her. But very soon both she and her husband Laurence realize that their marriage is a disaster. When real love finds Alexandra, plucking her out of her unhappy existence, she is powerless to resist. Her home becomes Fort Stirling, a beautiful Dorset castle, but Alexandra fears that there will be a price to pay for this wonderful new life. When tragedy strikes, it seems that her punishment has come, and there is only one way she can atone for her sins . . . In the present day, Delilah Young is the second wife of John Stirling and the new chatelaine of Fort Stirling. The house seems to be a sad one and Delilah hopes to fill it with life and happiness. But when she attempts to heal the heartbreak in John’s life, it seems that the forces of the past might be too strong for her. Why does John have such a hatred for the old folly on the hill, and what happened to his mother when she vanished from his life? As Delilah searches for the truth, she realizes that perhaps some secrets are better left buried . . ."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Winter Folly as a paperback or an eBook now.

I was utterly thrilled when the lovely Lulu Taylor sent me a copy of her brand new book The Winter Folly at the beginning of last month. I'd been dying to read it for ages, having loved all of Lulu's previous novels. I was immediately taken by the cover too, it's so beautiful and really suits the story as well. While Lulu's previous books have been about rich glamourous young girls, this book takes a step away from that into being a more serious novel, with a large portion of the book set in the 1960's as well. I was excited to read it and see how much I'd enjoy it, and I'm so pleased I did because I loved it!

In 1965, Alexandra marries well and is moved into Fort Stirling, a huge Dorset castle, and is sure she is going to live out her happy-ever-after there with her new, perfect family. However, tragedy is soon to be bestowed upon Alexandra, and life changes for the family for good. Back to the present dat, Delilah Young has just moved into the spooky Fort Stirling with her new husband John Stirling, and she is determined to unlock the secrets of the past, and the secrets of the house, especially to do with John and his mother. He also appears to have an irrational hatred for the old folly in the grounds of the castle, but Delilah can't work out why. She sets off on a mission to find out exactly what happened in the past to make her husband so emotionally torn, and finds out some shocking secrets....

I'll be honest and say at the start I found the book a bit spooky!! I don't read any kind of crime fiction because I literally get too scared to read on, and it plays on my mind. The opening to this book had a little bit of a sinister feel to it, and as I was reading it quite late at night, I had to stop and wait until the morning to carry on, it was just a bit spooky for my liking, I can't deal with it! As it moved on from this prologue to the present day story though, it settled down and became something I could enjoy reading! There's 2 stories going on in this book, flashbacks to the time of Alexandra's life in 1965, and then the present day with Delilah, both set at Fort Stirling, and there are strange similarities in the stories, it was fantastic to read.

I adored Alexandra and the part of the book set in the 1960's. It was fascinating to read as I haven't read a lot of fiction set at the time, so it was an eye-opener for me. Taylor describes everything brilliantly, from the clothes to the places and really absorbs you into that time period. I felt desperately sorry for Alexandra at the beginning, she's forced into something she really has no clue about, and I was hoping she would find her happiness. As her story went on, you finally think things have gone well for her, her story takes a more tragic turn, and it was really gripping reading. In between these parts of the story, we join the troubled new marriage of John Stirling and Delilah. I didn't know whether these two could stay together, and this is what made it all the more compulsive to read.

I felt Delilah had got herself into a situation she didn't know how to get out of, and while I felt very sorry for her, I did think she needed to stand up to her husband more. Her story got a lot more interesting as she started digging in the past to find out what event has made John heartbroken, and exactly what happened to his mother. What she uncovers was truly shocking, and I didn't see it coming at all - I loved that! It really did surprise me, and is a fantastic twist in the tail of the story - I think Taylor did a fantastic job of leading us up the garden path and never at all making you think this is what really could have happened. You have to read it for yourself to find out what it is though!

This book was a fantastic read for me, and I found myself taken to either Alexandra's or Delilah's world every time I picked up the book. Fort Stirling is so beautifully described, you feel like you are exploring all the old, dusty room alongside Delilah, not just from the pages of the book. There is quite a bit of tragedy in the book, but the love stories are very touching, and uplift the book. Yes, this is very different from Lulu Taylor's other books but her writing is just as fantastic, and I loved that she has tried something different here, it's worked really. I loved having two time periods to read about, it keeps the pace of the book up and I found it really fascinating to read. I loved this book, the brilliant writing, wonderful descriptions and compulsive stories make it a book you should definitely pick up.

13 February 2014

Valentine's Round Robin Romance: Part Four by Evonne Wareham

I'm really pleased to be part of Choc Lit's special Valentine's Round Robin story, with a selection of their authors each writing a separate part of the story. The story has been great so far, and I am thrilled to be hosting the fourth part today.

Part Four by Evonne Wareham

Read part one on Reading in the Sunshine, part two on Victoria Loves Books and part three on Chick Lit Reviews and News

"Ten to eleven.

Ethan hurried towards the building, resisting the urge to yank at the tie he’d put on to make the delivery. His sister, Sandra, had laughed when she’d seen him but as she’d agreed to mind the shop while he was gone, she was allowed.

Michelle was waiting in the foyer, apprehension and excitement clear in the tense lines of her body.  Ethan wanted to shout: ‘He’s not worth it!’ Instead he let her whisk him through the entrance procedure with what he hoped was a convincing smile.
A security guard hurried to intercept them as Ethan clipped his visitor’s pass to his jacket.

‘Miss James, you need to get up to the conference room on level 3, now. Mr Starkey is meeting your department there.’ The guard grinned, winking at Michelle. ‘Take your young man with you. He can wait with the receptionist. You can thank him properly for the Valentine after.’

Ethan had no time to explain that he was the delivery guy, not the boyfriend. Michelle was towing him towards the lift. The warmth of her hand, closed around his, drove out every other thought.

‘We don’t need to wangle our way into Mr Starkey’s office.’ Her voice trembled with anticipation as they hurtled upwards. ‘It must be fate.’

The lift doors opened. Two men stood in the otherwise deserted reception area. As Michelle and Ethan stepped out of the lift, one of the men stormed towards it, yelling over his shoulder. ‘Tell the staff yourself, Starkey. I’m not doing it!’

Jake Starkey shrugged and shouldered his way into the conference room. Michelle and Ethan exchanged a confused glance and slid in behind him.

The speech was short.

‘This department is terminated, as of today.’ Starkey looked at his watch. ‘Redundancy and notice payments were transferred to your bank accounts five minutes ago.’

The door banged behind him, leaving a stunned silence.

Twenty seconds to fire forty people.

Men in dark suits shepherded them to the main office. Each desk had an empty box and a brown envelope.

Combative, angry words whirled around – tribunal, legal proceedings. Ethan hoped, fiercely, that these people could challenge Jake Starkey for what he’d just done, but right now he was more concerned with the stricken look on Michelle’s face as she slumped in her chair. Jake Starkey was the most arrogant, egotistical … Ethan took a deep breath. Shouting names inside his head wouldn’t help Michelle. He pointed to the box. Michelle bit her lip.

‘Could you …?’

It didn’t take long to identify and pack Michelle’s possessions. Ethan dropped the rose on top.

They joined the queue of staff, tramping down the back stairs to a side door and a line of waiting taxis. Ethan helped Michelle into one, prompted her to give the driver her address and settled the box beside her. Her head jerked when she saw the rose. ‘Take it away, please. I don’t want it.’ He snatched it up as the taxi revved impatiently. Backing away, he slammed the door.

His last sight was her pale face, paler than the rose in his hand, staring back at him through the window, as the cab pulled away.

Ethan looked down at the bouquet he’d just made up – a dozen perfect yellow roses – friendship, concern, care.

‘Sandra – can you drop this one off on your way home?’  He scribbled down the address he’d recited to himself, over and over, all the way back from this morning’s disaster.

‘Of course.’ Sandra took the carefully wrapped package. ‘They’re lovely, more original than the red ones.’
Ethan nodded, unable to say any more as Sandra bustled around, collecting her coat and bag. At last the
shop door clattered closed behind her.

‘And that may have been the stupidest thing you ever did. The last thing she’s going to want is a reminder of today – or you.’

He looked over at the white Michelle rose, standing in a tall vase on the counter. Its head had drooped, so that it was almost touching its stem. He knew exactly how it felt.

But he still couldn’t give up on a tiny glimmer of hope."

Follow the final part of the story on Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell on the 14th February (Valentine’s Day!)

To be entered into Choc Lit’s special Valentine’s Day giveaway, collect the questions at the end of each part of the story and send your answers to info@choc-lit.com

Question: Ethan makes up a new bouquet towards the end of part four. What colour roses does he choose?

Author bio:
Evonne Wareham was born in South Wales and spent her childhood there. After university she migrated to London, where she worked in local government, scribbled novels in her spare time and went to the theatre a lot. Now she’s back in Wales, living by the sea, writing and studying a PHD in history. She still loves the theatre, likes staying in hotels and enjoys the company of other authors through her membership of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Evonne’s debut novel, Never Coming Home won the 2012 Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award, the 2013 Colorado Romance Writers’ Award for Romantic Suspense, the Oklahoma National Readers’ Choice Award for Romantic Suspense plus was a nominee for a Reviewers’ Choice Award from RT Book Reviews. Evonne’s novels include: Never Coming Home and Out of Sight Out of Mind.

Book News: Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan has fast become one of my favourite authors thanks to her brilliant novels in the past few years, all centred around chocolate shops, sweet shops and cupcake cafés! She is back this spring with a brand new novel, this time about a bakery! Little Beach Street Bakery is due out on 13th March, and I think the cover is adorable, I love the colour scheme and I am so excited to read it.

You can pre-order Little Beach Street Bakery as a paperback or an eBook now.

"Polly Waterford is recovering from a toxic relationship. Unable to afford their flat, she has to move miles away from everyone, to a sleepy little seaside resort in Cornwall, where she lives alone above an abandoned shop.

And so Polly takes out her frustrations on her favourite hobby: making bread. But what was previously a weekend diversion suddenly becomes far more important as she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, and each loaf becomes better and better. With nuts and seeds, olives and chorizo, with local honey (courtesy of local bee keeper, Huckle), and with reserves of determination and creativity Polly never knew she had, she bakes and bakes and bakes . . . And people start to hear about it.

Sometimes, bread really is life . . . And Polly is about to reclaim hers."

12 February 2014

eBook News: Crazy for You by Emma Heatherington

Another exciting pre-order from Harper Impulse is the new novel from Irish author Emma Heatherington, called Crazy For You. It's due out on February 13th so not too long to wait, because it sounds like a really great read. I've read some of Emma's previous novels too which were excellent, so I'm looking forward to reading this.

You can pre-order Cray For You as an eBook now.

"What would you do for a second chance at first love?

Aspiring actress Daisy Anderson is a hopeless romantic with dreams of finding her own happily ever after. She’s left her sleepy home town of Kilshannon and the heartache of lost love far behind her, determined not to look back… until her past comes looking for her that is!

When disaster strikes and her holiday to sunny Spain is cancelled, the last thing Daisy expects is to open the door to her estranged best friend, Eddie, in desperate need of her help and with one hell of a crazy plan in mind!

Heading back to her home turf to fulfill a dying woman’s final wish might be bad enough, but by the time she sets eyes on Jonathon Eastwood; tall, dark and as handsome as the day they parted, Daisy’s already in too deep to run. Plus, Jonathon’s not the only guy back in town, and with the devastatingly gorgeous Christian Devine back in her life, Daisy’s world is about to turn upside down."

11 February 2014

Book News: The Story of You by Katy Regan

I was browsing Amazon this weekend, and saw that Katy Regan is back this year with a new novel called The Story of You. It's not out until 3rd July, so we have a bit of a wait, but as with Katy's other books, it'll be worth the wait! I have to say I really like the cover as well, it's simple but I love the colours, it's a nice bold cover to grab your attention.

You can pre-order The Story of You as a paperback or an eBook now.

"Your past will always be part of you, but does it have to define your future? Or can you rewrite your story?

Growing up in an idyllic, northern village, Robyn's life was pretty damn near perfect. Then, she turned sixteen and everything exploded: her beloved mother died, and she fell in love for the first time with the hottest boy in school – Joe Sawyer. Then that summer something happened that changed everything. She changed. She had to.

Seventeen years later, it’s happening all over again: a funeral, an unexpected pregnancy, and Joe back in her life. But although this should be a second chance – a chance to get things right this time, to be happy – Robyn knows, deep down, that she’s going to have confront the terrible events that have shaped her life until now, before she can begin to love and live fully.

Is she brave enough?"

10 February 2014

Book Review: The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson

"Jessie has always wanted to find her real dad. But when her mum dies in a tragic accident, she thinks any hope of discovering the truth is gone too.

It isn't until Jessie goes off the rails, that her stepdad makes a shocking announcement: her father is legendary rock star and former hell-raiser, Johnny Jefferson. Suddenly finding herself the daughter of a global superstar, Jessie is soon sucked into the LA lifestyle - paparazzi, parties and hot guitar-wielding boys included!

But despite the excitement, Jessie's still reeling from her mother's death and the revelation about Johnny. Can he live up to her expectations and help her move on? One thing's for sure, Jessie's tiny little world has just got a whole lot bigger…"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson as a paperback or an eBook now.

I am a huge fan of Paige Toon's work, and have been since I read her debut novel Lucy in the Sky a good few years ago now. I've looked forward to each of her new titles, usually cleverly inter-linked with her previous books, and this time is no exception. However, Paige's latest book The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson is a bit different - it's Paige's first foray into the world of Young Adult literature. I'm not usually a reader of young adult books, but given that I've loved all of Paige's others books, and this was a book that would tie in with her adult novels, I just had to give it a go, and I'm pleased that I did!

Jessie always thought she was a pretty normal girl. She lives at home with her mum, and her step-dad Paul, who also happens to be one of Jess' teachers at school. But her happy(ish) home life is destroyed when her mum suddenly dies in a horrible accident. Jessie is left bereft, and starts to go off the rails, testing her relationship with her step-father. When she is told out of the blue that her biological father is none other than famous rock star Johnny Jefferson, her world is thrown upside-down. She's sent over to LA to meet her father, his wife Meg and her two new-half brothers. She's sucked in to her new world, full of paparazzi, money, famous faces and boys... Without her mother, Jessie finds herself drawn to her new father, but is a bit worried about leaving her old world behind.

Those of us who have read Paige's adult novels will know the characters of Johnny Jefferson and his wife Meg from the books that they have previously starred in (Johnny Be Good and Baby Be Mine). I have always loved Johnny, despite him being a bit of a bad boy, and was really excited to see a different side to him - that of a father to a teenage girl! The book is written in the first person from Jessie's perspective, and Paige really gets into the head of the young, confused girl. We meet her when she's struggling with her step-father - she wants to go out and party, drink and smoke all the time but he is trying to make her see sense. She's hanging out with other kids, has lost contact with her best friend and is just clearly struggling. It's easy to feel sympathetic towards Jessie, she's young, hurting and confused and doesn't know to deal with her emotions. Yes, she makes some bad choices but what teenager doesn't?

Where I felt she really came into her own as a character was when she went over to LA to meet her father and his family. She's very shy, excited to be in LA but also unsure of how to react to everything around her. It seemed so realistic as I was reading, and I was really hoping that Meg and Johnny would be really nice to poor Jessie! Of course they were, and I loved reading about how their relationship changes as they get to know each other better, and how Jessie becomes accustomed to their somewhat crazy lifestyle. I loved reading about it from an outsider's perspective, someone who isn't used to being followed everywhere, having her picture all over the internet every time she leaves the house. Jessie's reactions are really normal, and I felt she kept really grounded throughout the book. Johnny's house sounds wonderful, complete with huge blue swimming pool, sumptuous bedrooms and copious rooms, Jessie's awestruck descriptions really make the place come to life.

I love that despite having the drama of meeting her biological rock star dad, that Jessie is still dealing with the trials and tribulations that come with being a teenager. She's got a boy back home who she is interested in, and who seems to like her, but she's met Jack at a party she went to in LA and seems torn about who she likes more, and how to be around these boys! It just reiterates to the reader that Jessie really is just a normal teenager placed in crazy circumstances, and I just really loved her. I think a lot of teenagers reading will be able to relate to Jessie and the things she goes through - the worries she has and the battles she has with the adults around her, Paige Toon has done really well in conveying a teenagers world in the book and it was fun to read about, but did make me glad I've now thankfully passed that stage of my life!

This was a fantastic read that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. I didn't mind that it was YA at all, in fact, it was quite easy to forget that once I started reading, I just enjoyed the narrative of Jessie and her story. Paige has such a talent of bringing her characters to life, and I am pleased that this is the first in a series, so we have lots more adventures to come with Jessie, Johnny and Meg! Anyone who has read the books about Johnny Jefferson is going to want to read this to catch up on the latest in his crazy life, but this opens Paige up nicely to a new market too, and will make younger readers catch on to her, hopefully get them wanting to read her adult books as well! A fantastic book, enjoyable for all ages!

Author Interview: Paige Toon

Today I'm excited to welcome the lovely Paige Toon to my blog for an author interview! I've just read Paige's latest book, a Young Adult offering called The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson, a new turn for Paige but believe me, it's a successful one! Fans of Paige's other books, especially the ones starring rock god Johnny Jefferson, are going to want to read this, and catch up on the latest installment in Johnny's life! My biggest thanks go to Paige for taking the time to answer my questions!

Q1. Please tell me about your new book 'The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson'.

This is the first of a new series of young adult books about fifteen-year-old Jessie, the daughter rock star Johnny Jefferson never knew he had. Johnny is the star of my adult books, Johnny Be Good, Baby Be Mine and short story ebook Johnny’s Girl. It’s about an ordinary girl who is thrown into an extraordinary world.

Q2. This book is in the young adult genre, as opposed to the women's fiction you usually write. What was it that prompted you to switch genres and write Jessie's story?

I’m still writing adult chick lit and you’ll still be getting one book a year in time for summer. Basically, I decided to write two books a year and my friend and fellow author, Ali Harris, suggested I make one of them YA. I had the idea for Jessie while writing Baby Be Mine, but it was only after Ali suggested YA that I realised it would work well as a whole series with a teenage protagonist.

Q3. How easy did you find it getting into the head of a teenager to write this book accurately? I found it very believable so I think you've done a great job!

Thank you, that means a lot. Weirdly, I didn’t find it hard at all, because all I ever have to do is get into the head of my characters, period. The fact that Jessie was fifteen, actually made it a lot more fun for me.

Q4. You are very well known for including a lot of past characters within each of your novels - for example, we reference Joseph Strike in this book, and meet Meg and Johnny again from other novels. How easy do you find it to keep track of them, and to keep their stories up to date too?!

Not very easy at all, to be honest! I really need one of those huge cork boards like you see in films where I track the timeline of each of my characters with torn-off bits of paper, ha ha. As it is, I usually spend hours with my head in my hands, trying to work out what happened when and how it will have a knock-on effect on the rest of my novels. I’ve made mistakes, but I’m not telling you what they are…

Q5. Your new adult novel 'Thirteen Weddings' is coming soon - how did you juggle writing both of these books at the same time?!

I didn’t. I would have definitely found that hard. I wrote Jessie first and then focused on Thirteen Weddings. The hardest thing was having to edit Jessie while I had my head in Thirteen Weddings, and also managing social media and publicising Johnny’s Girl. Plus my new agent (I haven’t had one until now) wanted me to write the synopsis for my next book, so I had to think about that, too. I hadn’t anticipated how much extra work there would be, so Thirteen Weddings was probably the hardest book I’ve ever written. I cried with relief at the weekend when a friend of mine told me she thought it was my best. I really had no idea!

Q6. This new book, The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson, is the first in a series - how many books do you intend to write for the series, and do you know already how you want things to pan out for Jessie and her rock star dad?

Pretty much, yes. And I also know what’s going to happen with Jack and Tom – I can’t wait to write more about those two. Mind you, I have been known to change my mind, so I guess only time will tell. At the moment I’m thinking about four books in the series.

Q7. Your characters are the best thing about your books - they are always so believable. Do you have a favourite among them, or is that too much like being asked which of your children is your favourite?!

It is a bit! Hmm. If pressed, I might even have to go all the way back to my first book and say Nathan, dreamy surfer boy that he is.

Q8. What is next for you?

My next adult chick lit book, Thirteen Weddings, comes out 22 May, and soon I will start to write part two of the Jessie saga – title still TBC. Then, in the summer, I’ll be starting work on my next adult chick lit book. I have something else up my sleeve, but I don’t want to jinx it, so stay tuned to Twitter @PaigeToonAuthor and Facebook.com/PaigeToonAuthor for news.

Thank you so much, Paige!

8 February 2014

eBook Review: The First Christmas Without You by Michelle Betham

Jessie Collins has always wanted to visit Lapland. But this Christmas, more than any other, it’s the place she feels she really needs to be as she tries to come to terms with a future she really needs to start living.

Rating: 3/5

You can buy The First Christmas Without You as an eBook now.

This novella is another from publishers Harper Impulse that I managed to read just after the Christmas period. They have been releasing a lot of amazing novels and novellas as of late, from lots of brand new authors and I was excited to read this one. I hadn't heard of Michelle Betham before reading this book, but I have to admit I was swayed by the cover into reading it, it's stunning, just a shame it didn't show up in colour on my Kindle Paperwhite!

This book is set in gorgeous Lapland at Christmas. We are there with our leading lady Jessie, who has taken the trip with her brother and his friends because her lovely husband Jase died in an accident, and it's somewhere that the pair had always wanted to go. Jessie was determined to make the trip in honour of her husband, but is unsure what to expect when she gets there. She knows she has to start to move on from her husband, but doesn't even know where to start. When she meets a mysterious stranger and starts listening to his wise words, maybe she can start to envisage a future without her husband but with a little bit of happiness.

I have to admit the first few chapters did go on a little bit and I struggled to get into the story fully. I know that Jessie is devastated by the loss of her husband, but it's harked on about a little too much for me, and I felt myself getting a tad frustrated, wanting the story to move on a bit quicker and get to Lapland. It was quite repetitive, with Jessie saying the same things about her and Jase a bit too much, especially about the holiday to Lapland, but I persevered! Eventually it did move on to Lapland, and I'm pleased I held on for that. Betham writes beautifully about the country, perfectly describing everything from the scenery to the snow, to the hotel where Jessie is staying.

Jessie meets Mikku, a man who she is sure is destined to change her life in some way. I found him a bit strange, there was something a bit different about him, and when I realised what it was, I knew that you have to suspend your disbelief for a while when reading this book, there is a bit of a magical element to it. I'm not a fan of magical books if I'm honest, I prefer something a bit more realistic so perhaps this wasn't really for me in this respect. However, I love Betham's writing about Lapland, the amazing Northern Lights experience which is one I certainly want to experience for myself one day, and Jessie was a fairly likeable character, struggling to get over a life-changing loss and finding happiness in a new way. It feels festive and Christmassy, so it's one to load up on your Kindle for the next festive season.

7 February 2014

Book News: Ghostwritten by Isabel Wolff

One novel I am really looking forward to next month is Isabel Wolff's new title, Ghostwritten. It sounds very different from anything else I have read in a long time, and sounds utterly charming. I love the cover as well, it's striking and beautiful to look at. The book is out on March 27th, and I'm so looking forward to reading it.

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

"A childhood mistake. A lifetime of regrets.

Jenni loves her job as a ghostwriter – it satisfies her insatiable curiosity about people. And she can hide behind the stories of others, and not think about her own life too much…

But when she starts working on the memoirs of a survivor from the Japanese internment camps in Java, striking coincidences force her to examine her own past."

6 February 2014

Book News: The Time of Our Lives by Jane Costello

Jane Costello is back with a new book this year called The Time of Our Lives. It's due out on March 27th and I really like the cover, it looks very summery and certainly a book to cheer you up in the evening when you're reading. I love Jane's books, they're funny and always guarantee me a great read, so I'm really looking forward to this one too.

You can pre-order The Time of Our Lives as a paperback or an eBook now.

"Three best friends. One five-star hotel. Will it be the holiday of a lifetime...? 

Imogen and her friends Meredith and Nicola have had their fill of budget holidays, cattle-class flights and 6 a.m. offensives for a space by the pool.

So when Meredith wins a VIP holiday at Barcelona's hippest new hotel, they plan to sip champagne with the jet set, party with the glitterati and switch off in unapologetic luxury.

But when the worst crisis of her working life erupts back home, Imogen has to juggle her BlackBerry with a Manhattan, while soothing a hysterical boss and hunting down an AWOL assistant. 

Between a robbery, a run-in with hotel security staff and an encounter on a nudist beach that they'd all rather forget, the friends stumble from one disaster to the next. At least Imogen has a distraction in the form of the gorgeous guy who's always in the right place at the very worst time. Until, that is, his motives start to arouse a few suspicions . . . "

5 February 2014

Book Review: The Love Detective by Alexandra Potter

"'In a way, I'm a bit of a love detective. Because what's a greater mystery than love?'

Meet Ruby Miller. A writer who makes happy-ever-afters happen. Until she discovers her fiance is a lying cheat and loses her faith in love. So when her sister invites her on a beach holiday to Goa to forget about him, Ruby jumps on a plane . . . and into an extraordinary adventure.

Stolen bags, a runaway sister and a handsome American stranger sweep Ruby into a magical mystery tour across India. Amid fortresses and fortune tellers, and a whirlwind of weddings, she uncovers fascinating stories of love, lost and found.

But as the mysteries deepen, secrets are revealed that turn Ruby's life upside down. And what started as a journey to find her sister, becomes a journey to find herself - and love - again."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Love Detective as a paperback or an eBook now.

For some strange reason, I haven't ever read any of Alexandra Potter's novels, despite the fact she has written quite a few so far! When I received a review copy of her new book, The Love Detective, I absolutely loved the cover and decided it was a book I had to read (yes, I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but we all do it!). It looked nice and summery, just what I needed in the cold wintery evenings when I was curled up on my squashy sofas with my book. I was really hooked on this book from the start, and here's why I think The Love Detective is a must read!

Ruby is an author, mainly writing love stories, but isn't very lucky in love herself. She has recently found out that her fiancé, the man she was going to spend the rest of her life with, is a no-good lying cheat, and the pair have split up, leaving Ruby alone and at a loose end. She's struggling to find a new storyline for her latest book, so when her younger sister Amy, travelling in India at the moment, invites her to stay for a week, Ruby jumps at the chance, deciding that a change of scenery is what she needs to kick-start her writing again. What Ruby doesn't count on is a bit of an Indian adventure... meeting a handsome American stranger called Jack, a whirlwind wedding and a lot of stolen bags as well. Ruby's determined to make things right again, and maybe with the help of Jack, she just might succeed, and maybe help herself to believe in love again...

Now, I will be honest and say that India is never somewhere that has really appealed to me to visit before, so I was a little apprehensive when I realised this book was predominantly set in India. I needn't have worried to be honest. Potter makes it sound so magical, like such a fantastic place that you just have to go to, and it just really comes to life on the pages. Everything, from the crazy train journey to the small towns, Indian food to the wild taxi ride Ruby finds herself on is compulsive reading - it sounds amazing, full of life and fun and I loved every second of it.

The characters in the book were fantastic also. Ruby was a great heroine, the writer of exactly the sort of books I love to read myself, and it was fascinating to see her with her writer's block - unable to think of a decent love story at all. I really liked Ruby, she was very warm and caring, especially towards her younger sister Amy who was a bit of a spoilt brat, the baby of the family and the one who expected everything to fall into place for her. Ruby had a real sense of responsibility about her, and it was interesting to read how she changed as things went beyond her control in India, and she had to learn to trust others and let them into her world for a short while. Jack, the American whom Ruby meets by accident, is a bit of a strange one - there was something I really liked about him but we aren't really told much of his story until right at the end so he's a bit of a mystery throughout the book which I rather liked!

The fact Ruby had pretty much given up on love is the subject of this book, and when her sister makes a shocking decision, it's Ruby who decides she has to put a stop to the plans. I felt I could identify with Ruby on this, a bit cynical about love, but as she goes on her journey through India and meets love in its many forms, she begins to soften. Visits to such gorgeous Indian places like the Taj Mahal start to work their magic on Ruby, and we do see a softer side to the writer. Potter's writing was a joy to read too - written in the first person from Ruby's perspective, I found the pacing and the narrative so easy to follow, and was able to get straight back into the story when I picked the book up in the evening, it was a wonderfully easy and escapist read. I am thrilled this is the first book in a new series as we will get to see much more of Ruby and Jack on their travels, and this makes me regret that I have never read any of Alexandra's books before, something I shall certainly have to remedy asap! A wonderful read that I highly recommend.

Author Interview: Alexandra Potter

Today I am thrilled to welcome the lovely Alexandra Potter to my blog today for an author interview! I recently read Alexandra's new book The Love Detective, which happened to be the first of her books I have read. It was a fantastic read, an exciting adventure over to India with our heroine Ruby, and it's the first in a new series so there is more to come! My biggest thanks go to Alexandra for taking the time to answer my questions :)

You can buy Alexandra's latest book The Love Detective as a paperback or an eBook now!

Q1. Please tell me about your new book The Love Detective.

It's the first in a brand new series, which I'm very excited about as I've never written a series before. It's a romantic comedy with my touch of magic that I love so much, but it's also got an added element and that's travel. Travelling is a huge passion of mine and I wanted to share that passion with my readers. This first book is set in India and mostly Rajasthan, 'The Land of the Kings', where I spent a magical four weeks.

The heroine of this book is Ruby who's heart has been broken by her (now) ex-fiancé. So when her sister invites her out to Goa for a week's holiday, she jumps on a plane expecting a week of sea, sun and sand... and is swept up into an extraordinary adventure across India that involves a runaway sister, stolen bags and a handsome American stranger. Amidst fortresses and fortune tellers and a whirlwind of weddings, her search for her sister uncovers fascinating stories of lost and found. But as the mysteries deepen, secrets are revealed that turn Ruby's life  upside down. And what started as a journey to find her sister, becomes a journey to find herself - and love - again...

Q2. You have said that this is a new book series - how many books are there going to be, and do you already know how the series is going to pan out?

I am planning to write at least three books in this series, though there could be a lot more as I have so many ideas and wonderful places that I can take my heroine, Ruby Miller. And yes I do have an idea of what is going to happen, especially with her relationship with Jack, and there are going to be a few surprises….

Q3. The book is set in India - did you travel there yourself to get experience for the book so you could write it with authenticity?

Yes, I spent four weeks researching this book and I have been before. I adore India, it is truly a special place and I couldn't have written about it without experiencing it first-hand. A lot of people that have read The Love Detective have said that the descriptions I use have transported them to India and that they are dying to pack their bags and go there!

Q4. There seems to be a lot of fate going on in The Love Detective - is this something you believe in a lot yourself?

Part of me very much believes in fate and destiny and yet the other, practical, sensible side of me says it's impossible. I think most people feel like that. They WANT to believe in fate, they want to believe in serendipity but they think surely it can't exist. That's why I love writing my books as I allow the idea of the impossible to be possible…,

Q5. Are you a fan of the chick lit genre? If so, who are some of your favourite authors? 

I'm not a fan of the term 'chick-lit' as it lumps every female novelist together and there are so many different types of books that falls underneath this umbrella. I'm a fan of books that are about women today with issues that are relevant to them. I'm a fan of romance and comedy. And I'm a fan of a happy ending. So that if makes me a fan of chick lit, then yes I am!

Q6. Do you enjoy using social media to interact with your fans? What are the best and worst bits of it?

I've been on facebook for a while but I've only recently started to use Twitter. I confess at first I was a little reluctant, I'm not sure why, I think I thought it might be quite invasive. But actually I really enjoy being part of the Twitter community as it has allowed me access to lots of my lovely readers which is fab! Though it is terriblly distracting and EXTREMELY addictive and you can easily spend hours on there if you let it, so I have to be firm with it! 15 minutes with my morning coffee tweeting to my twitter friends and retweeting interesting stories and then I log off.

Q7. What is your usual writing day like?

I'm a bit all over the place at the moment, but I do try to get into a routine and that involves working a regular 5 day week (or 7 day if I'm on deadline!). The best part of my job is being able to travel and not set an alarm clock, which is lucky for me as I am terrible in the mornings. When I wake up I make a strong espresso and check my emails and my twitter and Facebook page. Then I tend to do some paperwork (there is always so much paperwork) and once that's done I tend to head out to a local coffee shop or library. I can work from home but I find it very distracting, so I like to go out and writer. I try to put in a good 6 or 7 hours a day but that can vary.

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


Q9. Can you tell me anything about the next book in the series?!

The second book is going to be set in Paris, the capital city of Love, and I have a wonderful magical love mystery attached that Ruby will want to try and solve...