31 October 2011

Book Review: Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt

Two cars collide on a foggy highway, and a woman dies. The survivor, Isabelle, is left to pick up the pieces, not only of her own life, but of the lives of the devastated husband and fragile son that the other woman, April, has left behind. Together, they try to solve the mystery of where April was running to, and why. As these three lives intersect, questions arise: How well do we really know those we love-and how do we forgive the unforgivable?
I have to admit that while I was originally attracted to this book because of the synopsis and how intriguing it sounded, I have to confess that I did choose to pick it up and read it because of the cover. Allen and Unwin's UK paperback is simply stunning, a gorgeous image with purple foil highlights and I just couldn't believe how lovely it was. I was really pleased about the fact there was something on the cover that said fans of Jodi Picoult would enjoy this book, and since I am a big fan of Picoult, I was therefore sure I would enjoy this one. I didn't expect that when I picked it up I would be consumed by it and desperate to read at every single opportunity I got to read a few pages. This book is wonderful, and here's why you should read it.

Book News: I Heart Vegas by Lindsey Kelk

Lindsey Kelk is back on 8th December with her brand new book I Heart Vegas, and I think it has the most gorgeous book cover EVER! My favourite colour is purple, so I think this book cover is perfect for me, and I'm sure the story inside is going to be just as good as well!! Are you looking forward to this one?!

"Angela Clark loves her life in New York. She a Brit who’s conquered the Big Apple. Unfortunately, she’s also a Brit who’s lost her job. And when, just a couple of weeks before Christmas, the immigration department gets wind of this, Angela needs to find a new job urgently. Or a husband. And she doesn’t think her boyfriend Alex will be keen.

A girls’ weekend in Vegas with her best friend Jenny seems the perfect way to forget her troubles. From the minute they arrive Angela is swept up in a whirl of cocktails, outrageous outfits, late nights and brushes with the chapel of love. But rather than escaping trouble, Angela is up to her neck in it….

But what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – right?"

30 October 2011

Book Deal: Lynda Bellingham signed by Simon&Schuster

"Actress and “Loose Women” co-presenter Lynda Bellingham has signed a two-book deal with Simon & Schuster to write commercial women's fiction.

Publishing director Suzanne Baboneau signed the deal with Gordon Wise at Curtis Brown for UK and Commonwealth rights. The first book, as yet untitled, is due to be published in spring 2013, with the second to follow a year later. Her début is described as a multi-generational family saga with a “tightly woven web of secrets and lies”. Bellingham is not working with a co-author.

Baboneau said: “A five-decade search for a woman's true identity and her battle for acceptance within her own family, this will be a plot and character-driven story conceived with true heart and commitment. The written word comes to Lynda so naturally and instinctively; it is a joy to see, and she will be a joy to work with"
Lynda is actually one of the only women on the TV show "Loose Women" that I can actually stand, so I'm quite pleased that it is her who will be writing fiction! It's interesting too that she won't be using a co-author, so Bellingham must be quite good at writing to not need any help. I'll definitely be looking out for her books, will you?

From The Bookseller

28 October 2011

Book Review: Wrapped Up In You by Carole Matthews

"A Christmas fling, or has Janie found the real thing? Thirty-something hairdresser Janie Johnson's single status is a constant source of gossip for her friends and clients. So after too many nights in with her cat, a blind date disaster and news that her ex is getting married, Janie realises it's time to do something dramatic with her life. It's time for an adventure! Leaving winter behind, Janie takes the plunge and books an exotic trip to Africa. Her friends think she's mad and Janie thinks they may very well be right ...but then she falls head over heels for her tour guide - and fully fledged Maasai Warrior - Dominic. But can Janie now face spending a snowy Christmas back home without him?"
This is my first Carole Matthews read in a while, and I have to say I was very impressed when it came through my door! I opened up the parcel and it was wrapped in a beautiful red christmas ribbon, and it really gave the book a special feel. I love the cover of the book, with the lovely wintery scene, red writing and silver theme, and think that will certainly make it a successful festive read. What I found inside was a complete surprise - instead of a sweet wintery tale set in a twee English village, our heroin ends up travelling halfway across the world to African plains, not something I have ever encountered in chick lit before but was quite excited to give it a go and see where the story would take me.

Book News: I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Here is the cover for Sophie Kinsella's new novel I've Got Your Number which is due for release on 16th February 2012! I think the cover is quite pretty, although it is a bit plain, I'd have liked a bit more to be going on to be honest! Either way, I can't wait to read it, Sophie's books are always fantastic!
"I’ve lost it. :( The only thing in the world I wasn’t supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It’s been in Magnus’s family for three generations. And now the very same day his parents are coming, I’ve lost it. The very same day! Do not hyperventilate, Poppy. Stay positive :) !!
Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!
Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.
What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life."

27 October 2011

Author Interview: Scarlett Bailey

I reviewed Scarlett Bailey's debut novel The Night Before Christmas a few days ago, and I've been lucky enough to ask Scarlett a few questions about it, amongst other things, too! My thanks go to Scarlett for answering my questions!

1. Please tell me about your new book, The Night Before Christmas.

Well, its set in the few days before Christmas right up until The Night Before Christmas, so its a proper Christmassy book, with all that entails. And its about less than perfect Lydia, who can't wait to experience her first every proper Christmas, with her first proper boyfriend and her friends in a beautiful country house in the Lake District. Obviously things do not go according to plan! There are twists and turns, surprises, some kissing, some laughs, some more kissing and a one eared dog called Vincent. Oh and a lot of snow.

Q2. Lydia is a lovely character, even if she does make a little bit of a mess of things when she starts her Christmas break! Did you base her, or any of your other fab characters, on anyone in particular?

I like that Lydia is a little flawed, we all are, I think, and so its nice that although she makes a hash of things to start out with, she finally gets a grip! I think she's a little bit like me, perhaps, maybe a mixture of my friends and all the stories we've shared over the years. The only character I say for sure is based on fact is Vincent Van Dog. He based on a real dog. With one ear.

Q3. The old house where the action of the book takes place sounds simply stunning, especially in the snowy scenes you write about. Does this place actually exist, and if so, where is it?!

It does!!! Its in Keswick, Cumbria. I went to stay there for a research trip. It's a little different from the book, because the setting isn't quite so remote now, although when the house was built it was in the middle of nowhere, now the town has grown up around it. But it was a pair of houses built for two sisters, and although I made up the spooky ghosty bit, it was quite an atmospheric place! I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised if I had bumped into a ghost.

Q4. The cover of The Night Before Christmas isn't necessarily what you'd consider a traditional Christmas chick-lit book cover, but I absolutely love it! Did you have any say in the cover, and what did you think when they first revealed the cover to you?!

Ebury asked me what I would like and I said 'Make it LOVELY' and they did. I just can't imagine it being any more perfect, I adore it.

Q5. The Night Before Christmas is your first book. How did your book deal with Ebury come about, and how did it feel to finally get a copy of your own book in your hands?

It was sort of a bit of luck really, I was lucky enough to have an agent already, and lucky enough to be writing about Christmas, at exactly the same time that Ebury was looking for a Christmas book! A very harmonious meeting of minds.

Q6. I'm a massive fan of festive chick lit, would you say the same about yourself? Do you have any favourite festive reads you like to bring out again and again?

I am a massive fan of Christmas full stop, so every year I wheel out my favourite Christmas ghost stories, I love The Turn of The Screw by Henry James (not very Christmassy, but very scary) and I love to dip in an out of A Christmas Carol. I love Trisha Ashley, and I just ready Cally Taylor's book which was fab. Also Ali Harris's book, which has my second favourite cover of the year (after mine) - all these books are great Christmas reads. But what I really love over Christmas is to curl up in front of a good Christmas movie. Yes, yes probably The Sound of Music is my all time favourite. 'The hills are alive....'

Q7. What do you do when you aren't writing books? Has your life changed much since you became a published author? 

At the moment I am quite busy working on the next book, so I seem to always be writing books, which is lovely, its the best job in the world. Life hasn't really changes that much, I've always been writing away in every spare minute as long as I can remember!

Q8. There has been a lot in the press slating the chick lit term lately, and there have been a lot of strong views about it being aired. What do you think of your books being put under the chick lit label, and what do you think of the fact the genre is constantly taking a battering?

I think its an easy target for some people to get hot under the collar about, but honestly I couldn't care less what label my books comes under. I just want to write fun, entertaining, satisfying fiction and if people, chicks or not, enjoy it - then I'm thrilled!

Q9. I've noticed you are now active on both Facebook and Twitter - do you think Social Networking is important for authors, especially debut authors like yourself, and do you enjoy being able to interact with your readers easily?

I really, really do. It lets me meet people like you, first hand, which is great and also hopefully when the book is out i might hear from some people who've read it, which would be incredibly exciting. Unless they didn't like it. That would be awkward.....

Q10. Finally, are you working on a second book? If so, could you tell me anything about it?!

I am, I am and I can't tell you too much except that I'm hoping for a research trip to New York this time! Bloomingdales at Christmas? Hello!

Thanks so much, Scarlett!

Book News: Manhattan by Ronni Cooper

Ronni Cooper's second novel is due out this winter after a delay from this summer, and I have to say the cover is really growing on me! Manhattan is due for release on 22nd December, and if it's anything like her debut novel Rock Chicks, it'll certainly be a racy and interesting read!

Raine: Born in Brooklyn, the undisputed queen of the City, Raine owns the sexiest, starriest nightclub in New York - and no one is ever going to take her crown. Mei-Lin: The beautiful, enigmatic madam moves in all the right circles - but it wasn't always that way. Now her American dream has become a nightmare and she may have to pay the ultimate price for freedom. Stevie: Once the lead singer of the biggest female rock band in the world, Stevie is now flying solo – but she has a secret that could destroy her. Now all three women are about to discover that payback is the biggest bitch of all…

25 October 2011

Book News: The Jewels of Manhattan by Carmen Reid

I'm a huge fan of Carmen Reid's Annie Valentine series, but I was still really excited to see that Carmen is back with a standalone read this winter, and it sounds really great! The Jewels of Manhattan is due out on 10th November, and really does sound different to anything that Reid has released before! Here's the synopsis:

"Like all crazy plans it was plotted out on a cocktail napkin. 1. Steal fabulous jewels 2. Sell for millions 3. Live happily ever after. Brilliant and oh so simple... when you're a few Cosmopolitans down.Not quite so easy... if you've never stolen anything before and you're dating a detective.The three Jewel sisters Amber Sapphire and Em came to New York in search of the perfect life. But do they have to steal their dream? Or can they resist the temptation? A gorgeous glittering romantic tale for anyone who has ever dreamed of more sparkle."

24 October 2011

Book Review: The Night Before Christmas by Scarlett Bailey

"All Lydia's ever wanted is a perfect Christmas...

So when her oldest friends invite her to spend the holidays with them, it seems like a dream come true. She's been promised log fires, roasted chestnuts, her own weight in mince pies - all in a setting that looks like something out of a Christmas card.

But her winter wonderland is ruined when she finds herself snowed in with her current boyfriend, her old flame and a hunky stranger. Well, three (wise) men is traditional at this time of year..."

I am a huge fan of Christmas novels, I love the cheesiness of them, the stories, the settings, they're fab. In fact, Christmas novels are some of the only ones I keep on my bookshelves as I like to come back to them again and again. It's even better when you get a debut author as you don't know what you're going to get, and when I received a copy of Scarlett Bailey's debut book As I said, I was really pleased when it arrived on my doorstep, and despite the fact Christmas is still a few months away, I couldn't resist getting stuck in! It was a fantastic read, and if Bailey's book continue in this vein, then it is going to be a successful writing career because I for one loved it!

Book News: It Started With A Kiss by Miranda Dickinson

Another read I have really been looking to is Miranda Dickinson's third novel, It Started With A Kiss, due out on 10th November 2011. I think the cover is really beautiful, I love the contrasting pink with the snowy scene, and I can't wait to get around to reading this one! Is it one you'll be reading?

As the singer in a wedding band, Romily Parker has seen her fair share of happy endings, even though her own love life isn't quite as simple.

On the last Saturday before Christmas, (shortly after disastrously declaring her love for best friend Charlie), Romily has a brief encounter with a handsome stranger whose heart-stopping kiss changes everything.

Determined to find him again, Romily embarks on a yearlong quest, helped (and sometimes hindered) by enthusiastic Uncle Dudley, cake-making Auntie Mags and flamboyant Wren. Will she find the man of her dreams? Or could true love be closer than she thinks?

22 October 2011

Irish Book Awards Shortlist Announced

The shortlist for the Irish Book Awards have been announced, and I wanted to share with the category that will of interest to me, the Easons Popular Fiction Award!

The shortlisted authors and books are:
  • Cecelia Ahern - The Time of My Life
  • Emma Hannigan - The Pink Ladies Club
  • All For You by Sheila O'Flanagan
  • Me and My Sisters by Sinead Moriarty
  • Love and Marriage by Patricia Scanlan
  • NAMA Mia! by Ross O'Carroll Kelly
Also I want to send my congrats to Casey Hill writing team Melissa Hill and husband Kevin for the shortlisting of their debut novel Taboo in the category 'Ireland AM Irish Crime Fiction Book of the Year', congratulations!

A book I also recently reviewed, The Lingerie Designer by Siobhan McKenna is also up for the 'Sunday Independent Best Newcomer of the Year' award.

Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors, best of luck!

You can check out the rest of the categories and nominated authors at the Irish Book Awards website here.

21 October 2011

Book Review: If Only You Knew by Claire Allan

Cousins Ava Campbell (married, sensible, feeling old before her time) and Hope Scott (single, debt-ridden, in love with a man who will never love her back) have nothing in common. But fate is about to throw them together. When their beloved Aunt Betty the free-spirited black sheep of the Scott family dies in France, the girls find themselves flying to the picturesque village of Saint Jeannet, tasked with sorting through her belongings and fulfilling her last wishes. To guide them on their way, Betty has left them a series of letters detailing her own life, the heartbreak that led her to move to France and the peace she found there with her beloved Claude. As the women find each letter, a different layer of Betty's life, and their own lives, unfolds with hilarious, devastating and life-affirming results. A story of secrets, love, loss, longing and purple shoes.
 I've read a couple of Claire Allan's books now and she has a real knack for writing really warm and realistic characters that you want to read about in a well woven and written story. It seems that Irish authors are really on the up at the moment, and it's a terrible fact that they are often overlooked by the bigger name publishers because they are a lot better than some of the big names I read if I'm totally honest... especially celebrity authors! The cover of this book caught my eye, it isn't anything amazing yet it intrigued... what did the wedding dress and purple shoes have to do with the story, and exactly what secrets was Betty hiding from her 2 nieces.

Giveaway: Win a signed Milly Johnson book, bookbag and bookmark too!

As you may know, I reviewed Milly Johnson's brilliant new book An Autumn Crush here on the blog this week, and thought it was a fantastic read! Now, thanks to Milly, I have 2 signed copies of the book to give away, and each winner will also receive a bookbag and bookmark from Milly too! It really is a fab seasonal read, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

To win, all you have to do is fill out the form below, and answer the question correctly! All correct answers will be put into a draw and the winners picked using random.org.Only one entry per household please, and the competition will close on Sunday 30th October at midnight. UK only. Good luck!!

20 October 2011

Author Interview: Ali Harris

I have the pleasure of welcoming the fantastic new author Ali Harris to my brand new blog today in an exclusive interview! Ali's debut novel Miracle on Regent Street was one of my favourite festive reads of this year, (you can read the review here!) and one of my favourite books overall too, it was just so fantastic, I couldn't put it down. I had a chance to ask Ali some of my burning questions about the book and her road to becoming published, so here we go! Welcome Ali!

Chloe: Tell us about your new book Miracle on Regent Street.

Ali: With pleasure! But I can't tell you how weird it is being interviewed - it's usually me asking the questions! Miracle on Regent Street is about a sweet stockroom girl called Evie Taylor who lives an invisible existence unpacking endless boxes in the basement of Hardy’s – a department store that has seen better days. The stockroom has become her comfort blanket, where she can bury her past heartbreak and hide from her future. All that is threatened when Evie overhears that Hardy's is at risk of being sold unless it seriously increases its profits by December 26th – just 3 weeks time. Evie and Hardy's are both looking for a Christmas miracle to turn their fortunes around, but will it be in the form of the handsome American who has swept into town, along with the snow?

Chloe: 'Hardy's' sounds like a beautiful shop - did you base it on any shops you've ever visited, or is it entirely from your own imagination?!

Ali: It really is the shop I wish existed, especially at Christmas time so a lot of it is from my own imagination, but I drew inspiration from wonderful old department stores in London like Liberty’s and the sadly departed Dickens and Jones. I wanted to write about a place that had once been great back in ‘the old days’ but had lost its way. I like to think that Hardy’s is as much a character as Evie is, and actually, they’re a reflection of each other. They both just need someone to uncover their true potential.

Chloe: I absolutely loved Evie and her love of vintage clothes too - is Evie based on anybody, and are you a bit of a vintage clothes fan yourself? Did you have to do a lot of research into vintage to write about them so well?

Ali: Ahh thank you, I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for her myself! She is actually loosely based on someone I worked with many (many) years ago.  My first job out of University was at Selfridges and at our morning staff meetings I was always intrigued by the stockroom girl. I didn’t particularly enjoy working there and I found myself envying the freedom of her job that meant she came and went as she pleased and didn’t have to deal with all the petty problems and politics of the shop floor. It occurred to me that although she probably felt invisible, she knew the stock better than anyone else. She was in the engine room, the heart and soul of the store and we all relied on her, whether we knew her name or not. And that’s where the idea for Miracle On Regent Street came from. And I definitely share Evie’s love of vintage clothes.  Being a teen in the 90s (the decade that fashion forgot) I always longed to wear clothes from the past – when an outfit was a statement and you didn’t need an excuse to dress up. My sister and I used to spend weekends scouring antique centres and charity shops for vintage pieces just like our mum used to wear (who was a successful hairdresser in the swinging 60s) – and that’s never left me. I have lost count of the number of beautiful vintage frocks I have in my wardrobe but as much as I love the clothes themselves, it is the stories of lives lived before that appeal to me as much.

Chloe: Miracle on Regent Street is your debut novel - how did your book deal come about and how did you feel to finally see your first novel in print?

Ali: Oh my goodness, it feels completely amazing! I know it’s a cliché but it’s honestly a dream come true. After a lifetime of writing, wanting, hoping and dreaming about it, I finally got my book deal last June when my now-editor (the utterly wonderful Maxine Hitchcock from Simon & Schuster) offered me a two-book deal after reading the first fifteen chapters of Miracle on Regent Street. Sounds like it was easy, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled! I’m the girl that’s been rejected by practically every literary agent and publisher in London (including S&S!). But the day after I received my last rejection on a book I’d worked on for three years and had secured a literary agent with (and after crying buckets of tears) I started writing Miracle on Regent Street. Three months later I had a book deal. I am living proof that if you want something badly enough and don’t give up, you will absolutely get there in the end.

Chloe: The cover for Miracle on Regent Street isn't what you would call a traditional Christmas cover, but now I've read the book, it suits it so well. How much input did you have into the cover, and is what you imagined the cover to be like?

Ali: It is better than I could ever have imagined and I adore it! Right from the start my editor, agent and I were on the same wavelength and it was a totally collaborative process. We wanted to give a nod to the time of year without putting the focus on the Christmas element of the story, as we didn’t want that to overshadow the story itself. Personally what was important to me was how Evie looked and that Hardy’s should feature on the cover as I see Evie’s main love affair being with the store (although, don’t worry, there are a couple of hot male love interests too!)

Chloe: What do you think about the whole press barrage on Chick Lit at the moment? Are you proud for your novels to be classed as 'chick lit'?

Ali: I am an unashamed, unsurpassed SUPER-fan of chick lit and I’m absolutely honoured to be a part of this genre. It upsets me how over the past few years, critics have turned ‘chick lit’ from a fun, positive way to describe a popular genre into a derogatory phrase that is used a weapon to criticize what is, unquestionably, still a hugely successful and exceptionally important part of the fiction market. No other genres are treated with the same disdain as the chick lit market now receives. But I guess that’s what happens in all of popular culture; pop music and rom coms still live on – as will chick lit! No matter what the naysayers think. So there! (sticks out tongue at critics)

Chloe: What do you do when you aren't writing books?

Ali: Um, right now? Potty training and pureeing! (my life is SO glam!) I’ve got two young children, my little boy is 2 ½ and my daughter is 7 months – so every minute I’m not writing, I’m mum – and sometimes I’m doing both. I also still freelance for magazines, so I’m currently juggling writing articles with writing my next book, The First Last Kiss whilst the baby naps and my boy is at nursery. When I have any spare time at all I can be found with my head buried in a book (or a glass of wine. Ok, mostly the wine).

Chloe: What would be your three desert island reads, and who are some of your favourite authors?

Ali: Ooh this is hard! They’d have to be a) really long and b) a mixture of old favourites and something new. I’d take Swallows and Amazons, which is one of my all-time favourite childhood books (and handily appropriate reading matter), Lord of the Rings which counts as one book as you can buy them in a volume! (I know - cheat!) I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the world who hasn’t read the books OR seen any of the films as I can’t ever watch a film adaptation if I think there’s even a slim chance of me reading the books one day as it would totally spoil the experience. A desert island would be a brilliant place to finally read that trilogy. And my last book would be Riders by Jilly Cooper because it’s the ultimate beach read. As for my favourite authors – there are so many! I adore Marian Keyes, (who doesn’t?!) Jennifer Weiner is a long-time favourite and I also love Lisa Jewell, Cecilia Ahern and Kate Mosse. All brilliant writers.  But there are a gazillion others I could mention too!

Chloe: Finally, are you working on your next book, and if so, could you please tell us anything about it?!

Ali: I am and it’s called The First Last Kiss. It’s a love story that focuses on Molly and Ryan, a young couple in their 20s who have always seemed destined to be together. It follows the ups and downs of their relationship and each chapter of the novel is a memory triggered by a kiss. The book examines if you can ever hold on to a love that you know slipping away from you. I’m really excited about it and hope lots of other people will be too!

Thank you so much Ali!! You can follow Ali on Twitter here and become a fan of her on Facebook!

Book News: The Secret of Happy Ever After by Lucy Dillon

This winter there have been so many fantastic books released, we've been very lucky! One such book I've been looking forward to is Lucy Dillon's latest book The Secret of Happy Ever After, which is due out on 10th November. I think the cover is adorable, really wintery looking and I can't wait to get stuck in! Are you looking forward to this book too?
"When story-lover Anna takes over Longhampton's bookshop, it's her dream come true. And not just because it gets her away from her three rowdy stepchildren and their hyperactive Dalmatian.

Unpacking boxes filled with childhood classics, Anna can't shake the feeling that maybe her own fairytale ending isn't all that she'd hoped for. But, as the stories of love, adventure, secret gardens, lost dogs, wicked witches and giant peaches breathe new life into the neglected shop, Anna and her customers get swept up in the magic too.

Even Anna's best friend Michelle - who categorically doesn't believe in true love and handsome princes - isn't immune.

But when secrets from Michelle's own childhood come back to haunt her, and disaster threatens Anna's home, will the wisdom and charm of the stories in the bookshop help the two friends - and those they love - find their own happy ever afters?"

19 October 2011

Book News: Confessions of a Karoke Queen by Ella Kingsley

Another exciting new release coming at the end of the year is debut author Ella Kingsley's book Confessions of a Karoke Queen! It's out on 8th December, just in time for Christmas, and I think the cover is fabulous, so girly and pink! You can follow Ella on Twitter here: www.twitter.com/ellakingsley

Maddie Mulhern is suddenly in charge. Her parents - former 80s pop duo Pineapple Mist - have left for the summer on a nostalgia tour, entrusting her to manage their struggling karaoke bar, Sing It Back. Panicking over the dodgy finances, Maddie takes a gamble: she signs up for a fly-on-the-wall reality TV series. With her faithful staff (divalicious drag queen Ruby, shy barman Simon and wannabe actress Jasmine) she'll transform the bar into a huge success. Simple. Right? Executive Producer Evan Bergman knows that scandal sells. It's no coincidence that he hires cool, attractive Nick Craven as director. Evan wants drama on screen - and he'll do anything to get it. As the series builds to a live finale, will Maddie see the truth in a Careless Whisper? Will Nick be able to keep his Poker Face? One thing's for sure: we all do things at karaoke that we regret ...

18 October 2011

Book Review: An Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson

"After a bruising divorce, headstrong Juliet Miller invests in a flat and advertises for a flatmate, little believing that in her mid-thirties she'll find anyone suitable. But along comes self-employed copywriter Floz, raw from her own relationship split, and the two woman hit it off. When Juliet's twin brother Guy meets Floz, he is overcome with a massive crush. But being a shy, gentle giant, he communicates so clumsily with her as to give her the opposite impression. Guy's best friend Steve has always had a secret, unrequited crush on Juliet. After a night of too much wine, Steve and Juliet end up in bed, after moaning about the lack of sex in their lives. Convinced that Juliet doesn't feel the same way, Steve agrees to a 'just-sex' relationship, until they can both hook their dream partners. Just when Guy has finally plucked up the courage to tell Floz how he feels, he finds she has rekindled an old romance. Floz has never had much love in her life and is obviously thirsty for affection. She loves the whole Miller family, from Juliet and Guy's warm, loving parents, to their ancient one-eyed black cat. But can Guy turn Floz's affection for his family into something more - into love for him? Then Juliet makes a series of discoveries which will turn the lives of all four friends upside-down and turns that Autumn into a season where love can be harvested."
 I am a HUGE Milly Johnson fan and really look forward to her books coming out because they are always such a great read. What I love about them is the realistic characters, fun stories but most of all they are just bloomin' good books to read and I never want them to end. Now Milly has started to release 2 books a year under her contract with S&S, and this release follows the fantastic A Spring Affair which was released earlier this year. This seems to be the last of her season themed books, and is perhaps a little more serious than her previous offerings, in my opinion anyway, but it didn't stop it being hugely enjoyable, again full of warm and wonderful characters that you can really get involved with as you are reading. I do want to quickly say that I do love this cover as well, it does have a lovely autumnal feel about it and the colours work so well together, it really suits the book, another great job by S&S!

Book News: Breakfast at Darcy's by Ali McNamara

Another eagerly anticpated winter read for me has to be the fabulous new novel from Ali McNamara, entitled Breakfast at Darcy's. I think the cover is so, so pretty and I'm lucky enough to have a proof of this so I can't wait to get stuck in! It is due out on 24th November, let me know if you're looking forward to it!

"When Darcy McCall loses her beloved Aunt Molly, she doesn't expect any sort of inheritance - let alone a small island. Located off the west coast of Ireland, Tara hasn't been lived on for years, but according to Molly's will Darcy must stay there for twelve months in order to fully inherit, and she needs to persuade a village full of people to settle there, too. Darcy has to leave behind her independent city life and swap stylish heels for muddy wellies. Between sorting everything from the plumbing to the pub, Darcy meets confident Conor and ever-grumpy Dermot - but who will make her feel really at home"

17 October 2011

Book Review: 4am in Las Vegas by Michelle Jackson

It's Halloween in Las Vegas and things are crazier than normal for Connie the wedding planner. Vicky and Frank are in town for their nuptials but she soon realises that he has more on his mind than wedding bells. Vicky's teenage daughter Tina is less than impressed until she meets Connie's moody and enigmatic son Kyle. Frank's brother John is trying to hold everyone together but then something happens that turns the wedding party on their heads at 4am in Las Vegas! Life and love seem to have slipped through Suzanne's fingers but then, new to Facebook, she stumbles upon more than she expected when she receives a friend request from old flame Ronan in Boston. He's on his way to Las Vegas for a work convention and Suzanne's friend Eddie convinces her that she should go too. What has she got to lose? When they all meet in Binion's Casino the cards have already been dealt but will there be a winner?

I was thrilled to receive a copy of Michelle's latest novel 4am in Las Vegas, and I think the cover is fantastic too, exactly the sort of thing we all think of when we think about Las Vegas! It's a large paperback so seems quite a big story but as soon as I started reading, I didn't want to put it down. I have read and loved a few of Michelle's previous books, I love her stories centred around travel, with complex yet well stories wrapped around them. Michelle isn't afraid to write about hard-hitting issues, yet manages to combine these easily with the travel side, and consequently it makes for a great read. Luckily for me, 4am in Las Vegas is another success!

Book News: One Minute to Midnight by Amy Silver

Amy Silver's third novel, One Minute to Midnight, is coming soon, on 24th November to be exact. I think the cover is adorable and I can't wait to read it. I loved Amy's last novel All I Want For Christmas when I read it in 2010, so I can't wait to see if this one lives up to it!
"For many years, beginning when she was 13, Nicole Blake spent every new year with her three friends: Julian, her first love, Alex, her best friend, and Aidan, her obsession. Together the four had partied hard, supported each other, and fallen in love. But then tragedy and betrayal tore the friends apart, and Nicole settled down to married life with Dom in London. But in the week running up to New Year's Eve 2011, Nicole and Dom are preparing for a trip to New York to meet up with Aidan and Alex for the first time in years. But with so much left unsaid and unresolved between them all, can they really return to their old friendship? And if they do, Nicole isn't sure she'll ever want to come home again."

16 October 2011

Book Review: Persuade Me by Juliet Archer

When do you let your heart rule your head? As far as men are concerned, Anna Elliot is stuck in the past. No one can compare to Rick Wentworth, the man she was persuaded to give up ten years ago. Meanwhile, Rick's moved on - and up. He's got a successful career and a carefully controlled love life where his heart doesn't get a look in. The words 'forgive and forget' aren't in Rick's vocabulary. The word 'regret' is definitely in Anna's. When they meet again, can she persuade him that their lost love is worth a second chance?
As a rule, I'm not mad keen on modernisations of classic stories, especially if I haven't read the original book so I can compare the two. However, I've recently read 2 new retellings of Daphne Du Maruier's story 'Rebecca', a book I haven't read myself but I loved both adaptations of the book. When a copy of Juliet Archer's new take on Jane Austen's 'Persuasion', I was really curious as it sounded like a good story and for some reason, the cover really took my fancy too. I've only just read my first Jane Austen story, Pride and Prejudice, and really enjoyed it so hoped I'd enjoy the idea of 'Persuasion' too. After reading Archer's book, I now really want to read Austen's story and that's the sign of a good retelling if you ask me!

12 October 2011

Book Review: Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris

Dreams can come true - it could happen to you...For the past two years, Evie Taylor has lived an invisible existence in London, a city she hoped would bring sparkle to her life. But all that is about to change. For winter has brought a flurry of snow and unexpected possibilities. Hidden away in the basement of Hardy's - once London's most elegant department store - Evie manages the stockroom of a shop whose glory days have long since passed. When Evie overhears that Hardy's is at risk of being sold, she secretly hatches a plan. If she can reverse the store's fortunes by December 26th - three weeks away - and transform it into a magical destination once again, she might just be able to save it. But she's going to need every ounce of talent and determination she has. In fact, she's going to need a miracle.

I love debut novels. There is something about heading into the unknown with a brand new author that is both exciting and intriguing. I love it even more when their debut novel happens to be a festive one, and when I received a copy of Ali Harris' debut novel Miracle on Regent Street, I was rather excited! I'll admit that I wasn't keen on the cover when I initially saw it, thinking it wasn't at all Christmassy looking but now I've read the book and seen the cover in real life (which does look far more beautiful I have to say), I think it's a lovely cover and suits the book perfectly. It is a gorgeous book to curl up with under your duvet in the cold evenings, and days if you can find a bit of spare time!

11 October 2011

Book Review: The Camera Never Lies by Tess Daly

Britt Baxter is unaware of the effect she has on people. A big-hearted, no-nonsense northern girl, she naturally looks for the best in everyone she meets, but in her attempts to make it as model she finds she struggles against being pinned down on the casting couch by the most unlikely people. So when a happy accident lands her a career as a presenter on breakfast television, it looks as if she has made it out of the modelling world of close-ups and cattle calls and into the big time - or at least daytime TV. But scarcely has Britt had time to wonder at how far she has come, when backstage machinations propel her with ever increasing speed through a series of trapdoors and she soon realises that the drama backstage far eclipses anything that happens in front of the camera.

I'm still in two minds when it comes to celebrity novels - they seem to either be really good or really bad, and it's always a bit of a gamble when you try a new book because you never know what you're going to get. I don't think you can ever be 100% sure that a celebrity has written the book themselves without the aid of a ghost writer either, and while I haven't found anything about Tess Daly that suggests she has used a ghost writer, it's a very tight and well written book for a debut, so if it was all done by Tess, then all credit to her. I have to say the cover isn't overly inspiring and I never like it when an author name is bigger than the book title, which is usually the case for celeb books, but aside from those things, I think this is one of the better celeb books that's been released this year, and I think Tess Daly might actually do quite well with this one.

5 October 2011

Book Review: Winter Flowers by Carol Coffey

When her dishevelled, eight-year-old nephew Luke comes knocking on her door in the middle of the night, Iris Fay knows her sister Hazel is in trouble again. This time, it is a house fire started by her drunken boyfriend Pete Doyle. As Iris is drawn back into Hazel's dysfunctional lifestyle, she is haunted by her own past and also by the childhood memories she has kept secret from her sister. When Pete becomes an even greater threat to the family and her sons are placed in danger, Hazel realises she must turn her life around or else lose them. But then she stumbles on a pile of letters in her mother's attic and their contents spiral her into an even darker place. Meanwhile Iris, too, is confronted by her past when her former husband Mark suddenly comes back into her life, looking for answers. Can the sisters face up to their memories and find the future they long for? Or will the secrets of their childhood continue to destroy them and those they hold dear?

I really love trying new authors, and occasionally a book comes along that really grabs my attention and makes me want to read it straight away. Carol Coffey's third book with Irish publishers Poolbeg was one such book, and the gorgeous snow covered cover really caught my attention, and the story sounded really great too, very interesting and not too light and fluffy. The tag line on the front from the Sunday Independent claiming it's a "must-read for fans of Jodi Picoult" also piqued my interest, since I love Jodi's books, I was therefore pretty sure I would enjoy this too. It's a large paperback, which isn't my favourite style of book, but luckily the story inside was absolutely fantastic and I really struggled to put this book down.

4 October 2011

Book Review: Finding Mr Flood by Ciara Geraghty

Dara Flood always says the most interesting thing about her life happened before she was born. Thirteen days before she came into the world, her father walked up the road and never came back. Now Dara lives an uncomplicated life. Pizza with friends on Wednesday, salsa class on a Friday, and Saturday nights with her boyfriend. Some might say it's safe. But it's exactly the way she likes it. And apart from the odd, fleeting moment, she's never thought about the man who abandoned her family. Then her sister gets sick, and Dara's carefully ordered life falls apart. Suddenly ahe must find the father who could be their last hope. As she uncovers some truths about her father, and herself, Dara learns that to let life in, sometimes you just have to let go . . .

This is the third of Ciara Geraghty's books that I have read, and while her debut novel Saving Grace was absolutely brilliant, sadly her second read didn't quite match up to that for me. I hoped therefore I would have more success with this one, Finding Mr Flood. I really liked the cover, its quite plain but I love that the title of the book is so prominent, and I think it's a very classy cover. It's quite a long book, one I felt I had to sit down and really enjoy rather than picking it up and putting it down, but it was still an enjoyable book. There are few niggles that brought it down for me, and while it isn't as good as Ciara's debut novel, it's still well worth a read!
 Geraghty seems to have that warmth that a lot of Irish authors have, and if you're a fan of Marian Keyes, or other Irish authors like her, then I'm sure you will like Ciara Geraghty's work too.

3 October 2011

Book Review: Debrett's: A Modern Royal Marriage

Debrett's: A Modern Royal Marriage offers an exclusive perspective on the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. This beautiful book celebrates and commemorates their relationship, from their first dates right up to the marriage ceremony and honeymoon, and is sumptuously illustrated with gorgeous photographs and filled with quirky facts about the royal couple. The Debrett's experts also provide an insight into the royals themselves, with a biography of both William and Kate, the Royal Family tree and the genealogy of the Middleton family. There is a section devoted entirely to the wedding ceremony, with details of The Dress, bridesmaids, flowers, music and Westminster Abbey, and the role the iconic building has played in Royal Weddings through the ages. Debrett's: A Modern Royal Marriage is a unique book and the perfect Royal Wedding companion. 

I'm a bit of a big fan of the Royal Wedding between Catherine Middleton and Prince William that happened earlier this year, and we held a Royal Wedding week on the site that I really enjoyed. Because of this week, I was offered the chance by Simon & Schuster to review their new Royal Wedding title, a gorgeous hardback memorabilia book all about the "Modern Royal Marriage", but that also takes a look back at Royal Weddings of the past too. I was really impressed when it turned up, it's a gorgeous purple hardback with just a few choice images on the front, and it does look rather posh and impressive I have to say.