31 January 2013

February 2013 releases

Not quite so many releases this month, but there are still plenty of good books to look forward to! I'm personally excited to read the next installment of Sam Binnies' 'Kiki' series with 'The Baby Diaries', Fiona Gibson's new book Pedigree Mum and Laura Kemp's debut novel Mums Like Us! As always, click on the covers to be taken to their Amazon.co.uk page :)

30 January 2013

Book Review: Husband, Missing by Polly Williams

"When you know, you know. This is what Gina told friends when she married Rex six months after meeting him. Passionately in love, Gina feels like the luckiest woman on the planet.

Until Rex vanishes without trace on holiday abroad. Her dream new marriage slipping into nightmare, Gina never wavers in her belief that he's alive. That she'll find him. When her frantic search unearths troubling secrets from Rex's past, Gina begins to question how well she really knows her beloved husband. But sometimes when all seems lost, unexpected, wonderful things are found..."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Husband, Missing as a hardback or an eBook now.

I have to be honest and say I didn't enjoy this book as much as I had hoped to. Polly Williams' last novel was a fantastic read, very emotional and so well written, and I was hoping for more of the same from this book. For some reason though, I didn't connect with this book quite as much as her last one, and found myself not caring for Gina as much as I had expected to. She's a woman who has lost her husband without a trace, is struggling to get by without him in all senses of the word, and is relying on his brother Jake to help find him again. She seemed a bit too drippy for me, letting Rex virtually do everything for her and then ending up lost when he isn't around to do them. I'm quite an independent woman and would hate to be reliant on a man to the extent Gina relies on Rex, and I feel this maybe made me a bit frustrated towards Gina rather than sympathetic!

Rex doesn't actually appear in the book himself, but you feel like you get to know him through the many, many mentions of him that are made through the characters in the book, with the main one being Gina of course. She speaks very lovingly of her husband, refusing to believe the stories of him others are telling her, even though they have no reason to lie, and for this I also found myself getting a tad annoyed with her. Rex sounded like he was too good to be true, and it seems like this really is the case for him... I didn't like him from the word go to be honest! His brother Jake, on the other hand, was a lovely character and one I was warmed too very much, he has a kind heart and I liked his actions in the book. Rex's mother appears in the book also, but we don't get to know very much about her at all.

The idea of a missing husband was an interesting storyline, especially as we are as clueless as the main character and have no insider knowledge (as it were) of what had happened to him. Everything we find out about Rex, Gina finds out at the same time and I liked the way it developed. The pacing of the book is very good, it moves through a good period of time throughout the book without being too fast, yet it allowed for sufficient developments of the storylines and stopped the book being too stagnant. Also, it allowed a good change in Gina as well, without making her seem like she was forgetting about her husband, and moving on too quickly at all. I don't want to spoil too much of the book by talking about what happened, but the storylines around Gina add an extra emotion to the story, and I certainly very much felt for her and her situation.

I really enjoyed reading Husband, Missing and thought it was a well written and thought out book. Perhaps its an error on my part that I didn't feel that sorry for Gina or that I didn't warm to her all that much in the book, but it didn't hamper my enjoyment of the book overall or how much I liked the idea of the story. I liked that it wasn't overly obvious either, with no clear conclusion as I was reading, and it had me hooked as to what exactly had happened to Rex and why. I felt emotion along with the characters, I did feel hope when Gina was hoping so badly for her husband, and happiness and sorrow in the right parts too, so Williams has written well to evoke these emotions in her reader. I whizzed through the book quite quickly as I didn't find it to be a long read, and while it isn't Williams' best, it's certainly one to be picked up and enjoyed, and one readers of her previous novels will love too. A very good read.

Book News: With All My Love by Patricia Scanlan

I have been lucky enough to already read a copy of this wonderful new book, and finally the cover has been revealed so I wanted to share it with all of you! Patricia Scanlan's gorgeous new book With All My Love is due out on 28th February, and is brilliant, a must read!

"On a crystal clear Mediterranean day, Briony McAllister sits playing with her four-year-old daughter, Katie, while she waits for her mother, Valerie, to join them. Valerie has recently moved to a picturesque town in southern Spain to finally leave behind her turbulent past and find a peace that has always eluded her. Briony has no idea that in a few moments' time her relationship with her mother will change irrevocably. As Katie plays, Briony pulls from her bag an old photo album, found in a box in her mother's new home. As she begins to study the faded photos, a letter falls to the ground. It is addressed to her. My Darling Briony, it begins. As Briony reads the words with mounting shock, realisation dawns. Her mother lied to her about what happened with her beloved grandmother Tessa all those years ago - and denied Briony that most precious of relationships, the type of relationship Valerie now enjoys with Katie. The lives of three generations of women are set to change forever as the past is revisited and the truth unfolds through the undelivered letters Tessa wrote to Briony over the years. Secrets, lies, betrayals and sacrifices - the complex bonds between mothers, daughters and granddaughters are intricately explored as Patricia Scanlan takes us into the hearts and homes of a family at war."

28 January 2013

Book News: The Honey Queen by Cathy Kelly

Cathy Kelly is back this year with another brand new novel, The Honey Queen. Cathy's books are always fiercely popular with her fans, and she always writes a wonderfully classic tale to be enjoyed by all ages. The new book is out on 14th February so not long to wait!

You can pre-order The Honey Queen as a hardback or an eBook now!

"To discover the sweetest things in life, you sometimes have to lose your way…

It’s easy to fall in love with the beautiful town of Redstone – the locals wave and chat to each other, the shops and cafes are full of cheerful hustle and bustle. And amidst all this activity, two women believe they are getting on just fine.

Francesca’s boundless energy help her to take everything in her stride, including a husband who has lost his job and the unwelcome arrival of the menopause, which has kicked in – full throttle.

Peggy, on the other hand, has always been a restless spirit. But now, focused and approaching thirty, she has opened her own knitting shop on the town’s high street. It’s a dream come true, but she still feels adrift.

When Australian-raised Lillie finally makes it back home to Ireland, she is drawn right into the heart of Redstone’s busy, close-knit community. But what she thought would be an ending is actually just a beginning – all is not quite as it seems in the picturesque town.

Soon, Lillie’s hard-earned wisdom will be called into play as she helps new friends navigate unchartered territory…"

25 January 2013

Book Review: The Valentine's Card by Juliet Ashton

"The Valentine's card was meant to be Orla's fairy tale ending, but really, it was only the beginning . . .

Orla adores her actor boyfriend, Sim, who's away filming a sumptuous costume drama. Although the long-distance relationship means that she can eat toast for dinner and watch as much reality TV as she likes, she misses him like crazy.

But Valentine's Day changes everything . . . The same morning Orla learns that Sim has died, she receives a card from him. As Orla travels from Ireland to London, to live and breathe Sim's final moments, can she bring herself to open the Valentine's card and read his final message?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy The Valentine's Card as a paperback or an eBook now!

Juliet Ashton's new book The Valentine's Card is one I've been looking forward to for a while now, as it sounds like a really intriguing idea, and I really wanted to find out what exactly was going to be written in the card itself! Juliet is an Irish author, so I really liked how she blended Ireland through Orla and her character being Irish and originally living there, and then moving the book over to London, where Orla moves to after the death of her beloved boyfriend Sim.

Orla and her boyfriend Sim are happy together. Sim is an actor currently living in London while he stars in a brand new television show, and Orla is back home in Ireland where she is a teacher, and she does love her job. However, on Valentine's Day morning Orla gets an awful phone call, telling her that Sim has very suddenly died, which is swiftly followed by the delivery of his Valentine's card via the postman. Orla can't bring herself to open it, and instead heads to London to find out more about Sim's over there, and to locate his precious journal as well. Will Orla be able to bring herself to open the card and read Sim's final Valentine's message for her?

The book starts quite abrubtly with Sim's death, and then we are put into the story with Orla, and her finding out he's died and the fallout from that. I was surprised that I didn't find this whole part a little bit more emotional, because I was expecting to tug at my heartstrings a little bit more, but sadly I didn't feel all that moved by it for some reason. I have to be honest and confess that I didn't warm to her that much throughout the book either, she wasn't exactly unlikeable but I wasn't feeling necessarily sympathetic towards her like I had expected to. She didn't obviously deal too well with Sim's death, but as things progress and she finds out more about Sim and his life in London, I can't say I liked her actions much and perhaps that hindered my enjoyment of the book ever so slightly.

I really liked a couple of the other characters though. There's Maude, Orla's landlady in London who is hiding a secret of her own, and her no-nonsense approach to dealing with Orla was quite funny at times too and made me smile. I liked Polish man Marek's attitude throughout the book, he was a really well written character, had lots of dimensions to him and I really liked him a lot. Sim's agent Reese pops up throughout the book, trying to help Orla decide what to do with the Valentine's card, and I liked him too. There's the pantomime villain in the shape of Sim's co-star Anthea, or Ant as she's bizarrely known as in the book. She was funny, and you can so imagine many actresses behaving like this! They were a great cast and I enjoyed the many different relationships going on in the book, and how they are all well approached and love is shown in its many forms.

I really did enjoy the mystery of the Valentine's Card throughout the book, and how Orla carried it around with her everywhere, using it as her last connection to Sim, as I'm sure many of us would do if we were in her position. The card becomes more worn as time goes on, and was quite symbolic I feel. The book took some surprising turns as it progressed, and I really didn't know how it was going to end which was nice, it didn't seem obvious as I was reading. The setting of London allowed Orla to change, and I enjoyed Juliet Ashton's descriptions of the city, but also how she wrote the characters, relationship and the many emotions throughout the story. The Valentine's Card is a well written and enjoyable novel about love, grief and moving on, and I really enjoyed how it showcased love and different relationships throughout. It made me smile, and I thought it was a very good debut, well worth picking up!

Book News: The Heart Whisperer by Ella Griffin

Ella Griffin is back with a brand new novel this month, and a lovely new cover look too. The Heart Whisperer sounds like a wonderful novel, and I think the new cover is beautiful, I'm really looking forward to reading it. Ella's book is out on 31st January 2013.

You can pre-order The Heart Whisperer as an eBook or a hardcover now.

"Claire Dillon still lives in the shadow of the past. On her thirty-third birthday, she gives herself a present. One year to change her future.

Claire Dillon's mother had everything to live for. A husband, two children, a successful medical practice. Then, at thirty-three, she died in a tragic accident. And it was Claire's fault.

Now Claire is the same age. A floundering actress with a broken heart, a collection of draft snakes, and a talent for self-sabotage. She is frittering her life away with the help of her oldest friend, the gorgeous ex-rock star, Ray Devine.

On her 33rd birthday she gives herself one last year to be more like her mother. But you should be careful what you wish for . . .

Her estranged brother Nick is back from America and keeping his distance from his clingy sister and his pathetic father while he reinvents himself as a daytime TV relationship guru. But Dublin is full of memories and Nick is already dreaming of escape. While his wife Kelly, has dreams of her own. Ones she isn't telling him about.

What will happen when another accident throws the dysfunctional Dillons together? And the secrets they have kept from themselves and one another finally begin to emerge?"

24 January 2013

RNA 2013 Shortlist Revealed!

The shortlist for the 2013 Romantic Novelists' Associations Awards have been announced, and boy do the judges have some hard decisions to make! There are so  many brilliant novels shortlisted, I send my hugest congratulations to all of those authors who have been shortlisted for their brilliant books!

Contemporary Romantic Novel
  • Katie Fforde, Recipe for Love, Arrow
  • Veronica Henry, The Long Weekend, Orion
  • Mhairi McFarlane, You Had Me At Hello, Avon
  • Monica McInerny, The House of Memories, Pan Macmillan
  • Sue Moorcroft, Dream a Little Dream, Choc Lit
  • Polly Williams, The Angel at No. 33, Headline

Epic Romantic Novel
  • Rowan Coleman, Dearest Rose, Arrow
  • Dilly Court, The Lady's Maid, Arrow
  • Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles, Bloomsbury
  • Kate Morton, The Secret Keeper, Pan Macmillan
  • Gill Paul, Women and Children First, Avon
  • Liz Trenow, The Last Telegram, Avon

Romantic Comedy Novel
  • Jenny Colgan, Welcome to Rosie Hopkin's Sweetshop of Dreams, Sphere (Little Brown)
  • Victoria Connelly, The Runaway Actress, Avon
  • Jane Costello, All the Single Ladies, Simon & Schuster UK
  • Nicola Doherty, The Out of Office Girl, Headline
  • Belinda Jones, Winter Wonderland, Hodder & Stoughton
  • Jane Wenham-Jones, Prime Time, Accent Press Ltd.

RoNA Romance Award
  • Fiona Harper, Always the Best Man, Harlequin Mills & Boon Riva
  • Sarah Mallory, Beneath the Major's Scars, Harlequin Historical
  • Heidi Rice, The Good, the Bad and the Wild, Harlequin Mills & Boon Riva
  • Carol Townend, Betrothed to the Barbarian, Harlequin Historical
  • Scarlet Wilson, West Wing to Maternity Wing, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical
  • Scarlet Wilson, Her Christmas Eve Diamond, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical

Historical Romantic Novel
  • Charlotte Betts, The Apothecary's Daughter, Piatkus (Little Brown)
  • Christina Courtenay, The Silent Touch of Shadows, Choc Lit
  • Kate Furnivall, The White Pearl, Sphere (Little Brown)
  • Pamela Hartshorne , Time's Echo, Pan Macmillan
  • Susanna Kearsley, The Rose Garden, Allison & Busby
  • Mary Nichols, The Kirilov Star, Allison & Busby

Book News: The Mummyfesto by Linda Green

Linda Green's new book The Mummyfesto, and her first with publishers Quercus, is due out on 14th February 2013. I love the sound of the synopsis, it sounds like a brilliant read and I'm loving the bright and fun cover too. I'm sure mums everywhere will be wanting to read this one, and finding if the three mums can indeed run the country... surely we'd do a fantastic job hey?!

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

"When Sam, Jackie and Anna successfully campaign to save their children's school lollipop lady, they are asked by a TV reporter if they fancy standing in the general election. It is, of course, a crazy idea: Sam's youngest son has an incurable disease, Jackie is desperate for another child and her mum is struggling with Alzheimers, Anna's teenagers - and marriage - are in danger of going off the rails. But sometimes the craziest ideas turn out to be the best. And just think what they could do if they got to run the country..."

23 January 2013

Book Review: The Lies You Told Me by Jessica Ruston

"'I do not know what you have been told about your mother. But I know it cannot be the truth...'  Klara Mortimer never really knew her mother, Sadie, a former model, who left when she was just six years old. All she has is a handful of stories, passed down from the father who raised her. Klara tells herself she has long ago come to terms with her mother's disappearance from her life, but then she receives a note and key from someone who calls themselves 'N.R.'. These lead her to a garage, full of the remnants of her mother's past, and to the diary she kept all those years ago. Within its pages, Klara discovers a woman who doesn't quite match the portrait her father has painstakingly painted for her, and a story that leads her to question everything she thought she knew..."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Lies You Told Me as an eBook now, or pre-order the paperback for its June release.

I have read several of Jessica Ruston's books to date and have really enjoyed them - I find them to be more in the women's fiction genre rather than chick lit, as I find Ruston tackles topics that you don't see much of in chick lit, and her novels are quite gritty as well. The cover for her new book The Lies You Told Me is quite striking - the grey and red combination works really well and I think it looks more like a crime type novel rather than anything else, and it certainly stands out on my bookshelf, simply because it's so different to all of the other book covers on there. The story sounded really interesting, so when I could, I dove straight in and found myself gripped by Klara's story.

Klara Mortimer grew up with just her father, and she was happy with her life. She thought that her mother had died when she was young, and now enjoys her job as university lecturer, is happily married and also has a close relationship with her father. However, when she receives a mysterious letter containing a small key, and a note signed from 'N.R.', Klara begins to wonder if what she knows about her mother is actually true, and sets out to find more. She certainly does that in the form of her mother's diary, but it seems to paint a picture of a woman who doesn't sound like the woman she's grown up hearing about. Which of the versions of her mother is true, and what secrets will Klara unearth about her family's past?

The idea for this story was a great one right from the off, and Ruston wastes no time in getting straight into the plot and getting into the mind of Klara. The book uses 2 types of narrating... we hear Klara's parts of the book from her first person perspective, which really allows you to understand her feelings and the story from her point of view, and also sympathise with her too. Klara is a woman who I think just wanted to be loved, and despite her happy appearance, the loss of her mother does affect everything she does in her adult life, as I do believe it would do in real life. I really liked her a lot, I was intrigued to read her story, and really cared about her happiness, and wanted her to find out something that would make her happy.

The other part of the book was really interesting, and was the diary entries of Klara's mother, Mary. The diaries go back to her youth, when she leaves home to move to London for her modelling career, and the rest of her life in London too. It is fun to read because it's set in a totally different time period, and I feel like Ruston captures this perfectly in her writing, from the actions of the characters, to the descriptions of clothes, and general attitude of the characters within. There's a lot going on in these pages, and a few other characters being introduced too but it was easy to keep up, and I found myself eagerly awaiting the next installment of the diaries to find out what was going to happen next, and how Klara would say it differed from her dad's account of her mother's life!

I didn't think that the ending of the book was obvious at all, and I enjoyed the path that the book took as it unwove it's intricately written story, and revealed to us what happened with Klara, her parents and their pasts. I liked how Ruston writes about Klara's life and her mother's with ease, slipping in and out of the time periods simply, and it really kept my attention as you want to find out what Klara or her mum are going to do next! Ruston's writing is simply brilliant as ever, and I whizzed through the book, it was a really gripping read and I enjoyed every page. It isn't the happiest of stories, you can feel Klara's grief and longing for her mum at times as you read, and you can't help but put yourself in her shoes at times. It's a brilliant read, and I highly recommend it, one of Ruston's best!

Book News: Party Games by Jo Carnegie

One of my favourite authors, Jo Carnegie, is back this summer with a brand new novel, Party Games. It doesn't seem to be part of her brilliant 'Churchminster' series which is a shame as I really loved those characters but I'm sure Jo will make me love these ones just as much! I love the gorgeous cover, click it for a bigger version to see the detail! It's out on 4th July, just in time for summer, and I can't wait.

You can pre-order Party Games as a paperback now.

"Although the countryside town of Beeversham looks picture-perfect, nothing is quite as it seems. Behind closed doors, three women are struggling to lead the lives they want.

Vanessa seems like she simply must have it all - she's beautiful, rich and married to gorgeous actor, Conrad. But beneath the glitz, she is asking herself whether this really is the life she wants to lead - when she has so much, why does she feel so empty?

Meanwhile, Fleur is trying desperately to save the farm that her family have lived on for hundreds of years, when playboy Beau makes her an offer she can't refuse.

And Catherine has given up the high-flying career she thought she always wanted, and is trying to build a wonderful new life in the country. But finding rural bliss is harder than it looks.

Hopes and dreams, loves and losses - and lots and lots of secrets - let Jo Carnegie take you behind the scenes of one very special town."

22 January 2013

Book News: Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners

Another debut novel I am looking forward to this year is Shelle Sumner's book Grace Grows. It's due out on 1st March 2013 and the plot sounds like its going to be a great read, just the sort of story I love to get lost it. I think the cover is pretty too, and would certainly make me pick the book up. Do you like the sounds of this one?

You can pre-order Grace Grows as a paperback now.

"Like many young women, Grace Barnum's life is a precarious mix of sensible choices and uncomfortable compromise. She dutifully edits children's textbooks that she fears may be more harmful than helpful. She is engaged to a patent attorney with whom she has a reliable relationship. She's wary of her fascinating father, a renowned New York painter, and she prefers her mother slightly drunk. Always organised, always a planner, Grace carries her life around in a handbag - that is, until the responsibility-challenged Tyler Wilkie shows up, with his warm eyes and a smile that makes Grace drop things. Worst of all, he writes tender, loving, devastating songs - about her. Tyler reaches something in Grace, something she needs, but can't admit to. Something she wants, but won't succumb to. Falling in love with him would ruin everything. And yet...".

18 January 2013

Book Review: Cupcakes at Carrington's by Alexandra Brown

"Georgie Hart loves her job--running the luxury handbag concession at Carrington's Department store in the pretty seaside town of Mulberry Bay, and treating herself (once too often!) to a red velvet cupcake with buttercream icing in Carrington's café.

But Georgie is thrown into disarray when Carrington's is plunged into a recession-busting makeover, cueing the arrival of femme fatale Maxine, who wields the axe in her immaculately-manicured hands.

It spells a recipe for disaster for Georgie and soon she is fighting not only for her job, but also for the attentions of her gorgeous boss, James. And when hot newcomer Tom arrives, who may or may not be the best thing since sliced bread, Georgie must decide where her loyalties really lie..."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Cupcakes at Carrington's as a paperback or an eBook now!

Alexandra Brown's debut novel is one I have been looking forward to for a long time now. It's the first in a series of books, and when the cover was revealed last month, I thought it looked stunning and it made me even more keen to read it. In real life, the book has gorgeous metallic copper highlights on it which make the pictures pop even more, and it is such a classy cover and fits in really well with the idea of the book. The book has garnered a lot of interest in the chick lit world, with a lot of people eagerly anticipating the book and whether or not it's going to be a good read... well I have to tell you that it's well worth the read, and I enjoyed it very much!

Georgie Hart has worked in department store Carrington's for years, and loves her job there. She has some close friends, enjoys her job selling high end products, and is trying her best to better her life. However, when the recession looks like it might get the better of Carrington's, the boss employs a new manager to shake things up and Georgie starts to worry about her job, especially as new manager Maxine doesn't seem the friendly sort. Georgie's non-existent love life is also thrown into disarray as well when she starts to be the object of boss James' affections, but she's also got the hots for her new colleague Tom. Georgie quickly has to learn what matters most to her in her life, and whether her loyalties really lie with her beloved Carrington's or there is something more important to her...

As I said, I have been really looking forward to reading this for quite a while now, so as soon as it arrived, I got eagerly stuck in. I have to be honest (as I always am in my reviews) and say that I found it a little slow to start off with. It wasn't immediately obvious where the story was going, and when it was, I found it to be a little bit predictable, although that didn't really hinder my enjoyment of the book. I was hoping for something a bit more 'out there' to happen, and while it didn't, I found the book was good but didn't quite have that special sparkle I was hoping for. I really loved the lead character of Georgie, she was very likeable and fun, although she's clearly harbouring a pain in her past relating to her father and money that isn't revealed until quite a way into the book, and we're left wondering what it is. She had a fun side to her, and her friendships in the book are very genuine and I really warmed to her.

The men in the book are well written characters too. Tom Rossi, the new colleague of Georgie is a bit of a mystery, but he's always there in the background and I was wondering how he would end up fitting into the whole plotline. He was a very well written character, and I liked him as part of the plot. However, my favourite had to be James, I felt really sorry for him because he was quite a muddled up character with a good heart, and I just thought he was great and he and Georgie were written so well as a pair too. My other favourite had to be the evil Maxine, the new girl thrown in to mix the company up, and boy does she do that!  She's hilarious, some of the things she does and says are outrageous and it really adds a bit of fun into the book because she's just so awful! There is a lot of flirtation between the three characters (Georgie, Tom and James), and I liked not knowing where these relationships were going.

The shop Carrington's itself sounds brilliant, and Alexandra Brown really brings it perfectly to life in her writing. It sounds luxurious, the sort of place you go to when you want that something special, and to be made to feel special for a while. I loved the descriptions of the lovely things for sale, especially the lovely displays and handbags that are on sale in Carrington's, wow! The cafe itself where Georgie has her own cupcakes at Carrington's is a lovely addition to the book and gives Georgie a chance to escape and sum up her feelings a little bit. The cakes all sounded divine, and I wish there was somewhere like that I could go to and get a delicious red velvet cupcake! I really enjoyed reading Sam and Georgie's relationship, it felt really genuine and Brown has written a relationship of real best friends here, and it was touching to read how they supported each other through the events of the book.

I thought this was a really good debut novel, and I really reading it from start to finish. For a debut novel, I think Alexandra Brown has created a fantastic world within the pages of Cupcakes at Carrington's, and I am really pleased that this is the first in a series because I think the characters and idea has such potential to go even further. It's got a likeable cast of characters, lots of action going on to keep you hooked when you're reading, and the descriptions of everything from bags to perfumes to cakes sound brilliant, and Brown really brings it all to life with her writing. It's all written from the first person perspective of Georgie, so the reader really can begin to suss her out and get inside her head. I really enjoyed this book, and really recommend it as a great read to while away these cold evenings, snuggled up with a cup of this and your own little cupcake on the side! Christmas at Carrington's is coming in November 2013!

17 January 2013

Book News: A French Affair by Katie Fforde

Katie Fforde is back this year with another brand new novel. A French Affair is due for release on 28th February 2013, and has a very pretty cover too, looking quite French with the red wine and lovely table on the front. Katie's books are always a guaranteed great read, and I'm looking forward to this one.

You can pre-order A French Affair as a hardback or an eBook now.

"Gina and Sally Makepiece have inherited a stall in the French House - an antiques centre nestled in the heart of the English countryside.

Gina is determined to drag the French House and its grumpy owner into the twenty-first century. Bearing all the attributes of a modern-day Mr Rochester, Matthew Ballinger is less than happy with the whirlwind that has arrived on his doorstep.

The last thing either of them want is to fall in love.

But will a trip to France change their minds?"

15 January 2013

Book Review: The First Last Kiss by Ali Harris

"How do you hold on to a love that is slowly slipping away from you? Can you let go of the past when you know what is in the future? And how do you cope when you know that every kiss is a countdown to goodbye? This is the story of a love affair, of Ryan and Molly and how they fell in love and were torn apart. The first time Molly kissed Ryan, she knew they'd be together forever. Six years and thousands of kisses later she's married to the man she loves. But today, when Ryan kisses her, Molly realises how many of them she wasted because the future holds something which neither of them could have ever predicted..."

Rating: 5/5

Last year, I really enjoyed the debut novel of Ali Harris, called Miracle on Regent Street. It was a lovely Christmas themed novel, and won my 2011 award for Christmas book of the year as well. I've been eagerly anticipating Ali's second book The First Last Kiss for a while now, and was so, so excited to receive a review copy a few weeks ago. I got stuck in as soon as it arrived because the cover was so beautiful, and I was so intrigued to read the story inside, which I have to be honest and say sounded totally different to her first book. I honestly could not put this book down, and think its one of the most beautiful and emotional books I have read in a long, long time.

Molly loves Ryan. Ryan loves Molly. Molly thought that this was her world, and she was happy with her lot. They met while at University, and despite a few ups and downs along the way, they've muddled through and are happily married, and looking forward to the exciting new things to come in their life together. However, when the pair receive some life-shattering news, Molly begins to document some of the kisses that she and Ryan have shared, as she's aware that each and every kiss that the pair share could be their last. Molly is forced to relive some of the happier, and less happy times, that her and Ryan have shared, and begins to write her very own love story.

It's hard to write a review about this book without spoiling the essence of the book because the main part of it works because you don't know what's coming up in the book. I had a feeling about what was happening with Ryan and Molly, but Harris chooses not to make it obvious, instead leaving the reader to wonder and reveal the story slowly but surely. As the plotline slowly comes to the forefront of the story, it's heartbreaking, sad, emotional and is hard to read because after this time, you've grown to love these characters despite their faults and foibles, and you just want a happy ending for them. Molly is such a realistic character, she does the wrong thing, says the wrong thing but has a good heart, and you can't help but love her. I loved her introduction to each kiss that is told in the book, and I feel that Harris really got into Molly's head when she wrote this. Ryan too was very likeable, I loved the close relationship he had with this family, and his mum in particular was hilarious and had me laughing out loud! He's kind, caring and a great man, and it was fun to see how his character grew as the book progressed.

What worked so well for me with this book was the emotion, and how it really touched me. There aren't many books that have me sitting there with tears running down my face and feeling genuinely sad and upset (Jojo Moyes' 'Me Before You' was the last one) but Ali Harris made me weep with this book. She manages to set up Ryan and Molly's relationship so well that you have to love them, you have to root for them and you want them to make it through the tough times they share. It isn't told in chronological order, instead a thread for the modern day pops up every now and then, and is interspersed with Molly's kiss memories, and this gives us all the points in Molly and Ryan's life that are important, and really set up their relationship well for the reader. It isn't hard to keep up, and I loved that it jumped around and showed lots of different sides to Molly and Ryan. Molly's first person narration is perfect for the book as well, as it helps convey her emotion, and really helped me get into the book as I was reading, desperate to find out what Molly's next memory would be.

This is a book that will touch you and will stay with you long after you turn the final page, and I know it is one I will be re-reading as soon as I get the chance to simply because I loved it so much. It is a beautifully written love story with characters that you'll care about, and a supporting cast that make the book feel whole, and have you laughing and crying all the way. Harris' writing is superb, she totally become Molly for the duration of the book, and you become lost in the love that Molly and Ryan share together, through the good and the bad. I urge you to find a copy of this stunning novel and read it yourself; it shows a real maturity and growth in Harris' writing from her debut, and makes me so excited to find out what she's going to bring us next. This is a wonderful story of love, the importance of loving and of being loved, and for living life to its potential. One of my favourite reads of all time, without a doubt.

You can buy The First Last Kiss as a paperback or an eBook now.

Book News: Me and Mr Jones by Lucy Diamond

Lucy Diamond's 2012 release Summer with My Sister was one of my favourite reads last summer, so when I saw the gorgeous, bright, summery cover for her new book Me and Mr Jones, due out on 6th June 2013, I was very happy indeed. Lucy's books always mark the start of summer for me and I can't wait to get stuck into this one.

You can pre-order Me and Mr Jones as a paperback now!

"Introducing a family business and four different women, each dealing with their very own Mr Jones . . . Lilian and Eddie Jones have been the owners of Mulberry House for years, but now Lilian’s worried about Eddie’s health. Will any of their three sons step in to take on the business? Alicia, married to Hugh Jones, is a perfectly behaved wife and mother. But with her fortieth birthday looming, she feels the need for excitement. Maybe it’s time to spice things up . . . David Jones is struggling to come to terms with his redundancy, while his wife Emma is desperate for a baby – whatever the cost. And Isabel Allerton is on the run from a dark and troubled past. She’s determined not to fall for charming, unreliable Charlie Jones . . . but will her heart listen? From the queen of summer reading, this is a sparkling tale of heartbreak, hope, and home."

14 January 2013

Book News: Dear Thing by Julie Cohen

Julie Cohen's new book Dear Thing is one that has been on my radar for a long time. I remember reading something about it way back last year, and thinking that I couldn't wait to read it. Luckily, we now only have to wait until 11th April 2013 to read this book, and the plot idea sounds fantastic, with the cover merely making it all the more readable. I am really excited about this one, and April can't come quick enough!

You can pre-order Dear Thing as a hardback now.

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

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

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

11 January 2013

Book News: Love From Both Sides by Nick Spalding

Sometimes, there are eBooks which, thanks to their popularity and brilliance, get noticed by the big publishing houses and then end up being printed as paperbacks with a big name behind them. Nick Spalding's eBook Love From Both Sides is one such book, and publishers Hodder have gotten behind him, printing the story but apparently giving the readers a longer story too. I haven't read it yet, but the reviews on Amazon are making me seriously want to go and grab it now. It's out in paperback on January 31st.

You can buy Love From Both Sides as an eBook now or pre-order as a paperback.

"Sometimes, the hardest part of finding love is keeping a straight face...

For Jamie Newman, being a single guy isn't proving to be much fun, especially when confronted with a sexually belligerent divorcee and a goddess so far out of his league she might as well be a different species.

Mind you, being a girl in search of love isn't a bowl of cherries either. Just ask Laura McIntyre, who's recently contended with a horny estate agent on a quest for light relief and a rabid mountain bike enthusiast with a penchant for lycra that leaves little to the imagination.

When Jamie and Laura bump into one another (quite literally) it looks like their luck may have changed - but sometimes finding the right person is only the start of your problems..."

10 January 2013

Book News: Never Google Heartbreak by Emma Garcia

There are some debut novels that you can really excited about, and Emma Garcia's brand new novel Never Google Heartbreak is one such novel. It isn't out until March 14th 2013, but already I cannot wait to read it, and I'm lucky enough to already have a copy on my shelf waiting to be read! It promises to  be a hilarious read, and I do love a book that can make me laugh, not to mention one that has a fab cover like this!

You can pre-order Never Google Heartbreak as a paperback or an eBook now.

"When her fiancé Rob breaks off their engagement for the third time, Viv does what any girl would do - she Googles heartbreak.

Confronted by tales of misery, she decides to set-up her own self-help website for the broken-hearted. But as Viv passes through the three essential stages of grief (denial, vodka, disastrous haircut), she becomes determined that it's not too late to try and get Rob back.

When things get out of hand after a drunken declaration of love at an extremely inappropriate moment, Viv's scruffy, tequila-swilling best friend Max is there to pick up the pieces. Viv starts to realise that maybe the real thing has been under her nose all this time, and now - one ex and a massive error of judgement later - she has to face the question:

What's the craziest thing you'll do for love?"

9 January 2013

eBook Review: Divorce for Beginners by Sophie King

"As Lizzie juggles running a failing women's magazine with bringing up a young family she ponders on whether you really can “have it all”. The answer comes sooner than she expects when her husband's actions turn her world upside down...

Alison should be looking forward to a quieter life with David now that their youngest has flown the nest. But David has other ideas and his increasingly bizarre behaviour leaves Alison wondering if she really knows her husband at all...

Karen has managed to hold her family together since leaving her husband Paul many years before. That makes her the perfect person to start The "How to Survive Divorce" Club, to help others on their own. But as the burden of past secrets unravels, Karen realises she needs help too.

Ed really believes in marriage. So much so that he's done it three times already. But as his work and home life get ever more complicated, will he ever be able to find “The One”...?

Add in mysterious diary entries, an overbearing sister, a troublesome stepbrother, the surprise return of faces from the past, grown up kids with their own problems, and ageing parents who've discovered the ups (and downs) of internet dating and you have a gripping and entertaining tale of modern life as our foursome struggle with... Divorce for Beginners."

Rating: 4/5

Before I'd read anything published her own name of Janey Fraser, I'd read and enjoyed several books that were published under the pseudonym Sophie King, and hoped that publication under a new name didn't spell the end of her books as Sophie King, as I'd always found them to be really enjoyable and fun reads that centre around believable people. Her latest book, Divorce for Beginners is only being released through the eBook format, but I was lucky enough to be sent a copy to review on my Kindle, and I couldn't resist getting stuck in as soon as it appeared on my device.

This book sticks to a format tried and tested by Sophie before, and I found it really worked for the purpose of this book and the many stories that it has going on within. There's young mum and journalist Lizzie who is left devastated when she finds out a shocking secret her husband has been hiding from her despite their outwardly happy marriage; Alison is looking forward to having some quiet alone time with her husband David now that their youngest has left for University but her plans and world are about to be shattered in two...; Ed, a man who wants more than anything to settle down and get married, but none of his marriages so far have worked out. He's starting to lose hope, will he ever find the one? Holding these lonely hearts together is Karen, a woman who has survived a marriage separation and now enjoys a close relationship with her son and young grandson, but when her former husband Paul makes a comeback in her life, Karen is unsure of her feelings after so many years, what advice will the divorce agony aunt give herself?!

I've seen a couple of comments that say there was too much going on in this book and that it was hard to keep up, but I have to say I didn't find that to be the case at all. Yes, there are lots of different families and characters, but once you have them all in your mind, it's easy to follow and I enjoyed how the book chopped and changed between all of the stories, it keeps you updated as a reader and keeps your interest in all of the stories as well. Each of the characters was believable and likeable enough in their own way, and you have to feel pity for them all for what they are put through by their ex husbands/wives/partners. My favourites were Alison and Lizzie, there was something really likeable about these women, and I could relate a bit to the things that happened to them, and the feelings of abandonment and sadness they felt.

I liked that there was a male perspective in the story too from the character of Ed, although he does feel a bit out of place in a group full of women! I liked his story very much and really wanted a happy ending for Ed, although there was an element of secrecy hanging over him throughout the story and I was really curious to find out what it was as I was reading. I enjoyed the writing style very much, the third person narrative allows King to flit between the stories and focus characters with ease, I especially liked the group meetings that the characters held, funny yet tinged with emotion and sadness. King writes the many emotions of the characters so well, I have to confess I found myself in floods of tears at one very unexpected scene that for me was a little close to home at this time, her writing really puts across the sadness and loss for one of these characters and I applaud King for her realism when writing that scene.

I am sure there will be a lot of women (and men!) out there who will be able to relate to things that any of these characters go through in the book, but even though the subject matter isn't always an easy read, I enjoyed the story that King weaves and found the book to be very compulsive - I wanted to read it at every opportunity and find out the next part of the story, as well as who was writing the mysterious diary entries that kept cropping up throughout the book. With real emotion written throughout, Divorce for Beginners is a poignant read that will have you rooting for its characters, and admiring them for their resilience in the face of adversity in their lives - they represent what a lot of people go through in their day to day lives, and I found I could really sympathize and feel sorry for them. Sophie King (Janey Fraser) is a fantastic storyteller, and I urge everyone to give this one some space on your Kindle!

You can buy Divorce for Beginners as an eBook now.

8 January 2013

Book News: A Passionate Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson

I've really been looking forward to Lucy Robinson's second novel, curiously titled A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger... if that title doesn't leave you wanting to find out more, I don't know what will! Her debut novel of last year The Greatest Love Story of All Time was a fantastic read, and I'm hoping this new book will be just as great! It's out in all formats on 31st January!

"Charley Lambert has worked hard at creating a perfect life. She has an aspirational flat, a job of international significance and a very good pair of legs, thanks to a rigorous health and fitness regime. Best of all, her boss has asked her out after seven years' hard flirting and a covert fumble in a mop cupboard.

Then she breaks her leg in three places, watches her boss propose to someone else and - horror - is forced to hand over her job to her nasty deputy. Charley, a certified workaholic, fears that she will go mad.

Dangerously bored, she starts helping people who are talentless at internet dating. Then William arrives in her inbox and rocks her world. Helpless, she watches herself fall in love with him and discovers she's not who she thought she was.

But can she turn her back on her old life - all for a total stranger?"

You can pre-order A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger as an eBook or a paperback.

7 January 2013

Book News: The Last Time I Saw You by Eleanor Moran

Eleanor Moran's new book, and first with publishers Quercus, is due out this month, on January 17th to be exact (although the Kindle version is available right now). I love the cover, it's really pretty, and makes me curious to read the book as well. It sounds like a great read, and as I enjoyed Moran's last book, I'm looking forward to this one too.

"When Olivia Berrington gets the call to tell her that her best friend from university has been killed in a car crash in New York, her life is turned upside down. Her relationship with Sally was an exhilarating roller coaster, until a shocking betrayal drove them apart. But if Sally really had turned her back, why is her little girl named after Olivia? As questions mount about the fatal accident, Olivia is forced to go back and unravel their tangled history. But as Sally’s secrets start to spill out, Olivia’s left asking herself if the past is best kept buried."

You can buy The Last Time I Saw You as an eBook now or pre-order the paperback.

4 January 2013

Chloe's Ones to Watch in 2013!

2013 is of course going to be another amazing year in chick lit, and although it's tough, I've managed to squeeze it down to just 10 choices that I am really looking forward to reading this year. They aren't really in any particular order, they are just books I'm really excited about, and please share yours in the comments!!

1. The Guest List by Melissa Hill (May 2013)
Melissa's books are always a mysterious tale that have me hooked until the end, eager to find out what secret has been withheld from the reader, and I love that she always keeps me guessing. I can't wait for The Guest List.

2. Billy and Me by Giovanni Fletcher (May 2013)
Giovanni Fletcher's debut novel Billy and Me is one that looks so good, and I'm excited to read another new voice in Chick Lit in 2013. Giovanni's married to McFly band member Tom Fletcher, but I'm sure most of her readers will be unaware of her connections, so I'm curious to find out if she has a talent in writing!

3. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult (March 2013)
Jodi Picoult is still one of my favourite authors, and each year I eagerly await her novels. The Storyteller promises to be another super read and I can't wait.

4. It's Raining Men by Milly Johnson (April 2013)
Milly is one of my favourite all-time authors, I've read everything she's published and It's Raining Men sounds like such a fun title, I can't wait to find out what tale Milly will be weaving this time around.

5. Husband, Missing by Polly Williams (March 2013)
Polly Williams' last book was an emotional read that took me completely by surprise, so I'm hoping for more of the same from her brand new book Husband, Missing.

6. About A Girl by Lindsey Kelk (July 2013)
Lindsey Kelk left behind her fab 'I Heart...' series last year with the release of the final book I Heart London, so she's back with a brand new novel, which also happens to be the first in a brand new series and I can't wait! (Thanks to Lindsey for letting me know it's a new series!)

7. Never Google Heartbreak by Emma Garcia (March 2013)
I've heard such good things about this book, I love a book that can make me laugh and Emma Garcia's debut novel promises to do all of that, and sounds like it's going to be a great story too!

8. The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon (May 2013)
Paige is one of the finest Chick Lit writers we have, and her books are always hugely anticipated in the Chick Lit world. The Longest Holiday features Laura's story, who first appeared in her previous novel Chasing Daisy, so it'll be great to bring back a character again, something Paige does so well!

9. Covet by Tracey Garvis Graves (May 2013)
Tracey Garvis Graves' debut novel from 2012 On The Island was one of my big surprise favourites, and was a fantastically written debut. It makes me really look forward to her next book Covet which is coming later this year.

10. A Night on the Orient Express by Veronica Henry (July 2013)
Veronica Henry is an author I love to read because I just know she delivers on writing a fantastic story every single time. A Night on the Orient Express sounds amazing just from the title, and I am so excited to read the story and find out more!

3 January 2013

eBook News: Divorce for Beginners by Sophie King

Author Sophie King aka Janey Fraser is back with a brand new eBook for 2013 called Divorce for Beginners. I've loved all of Sophie's previous books, and now with new publisher Corazon, Sophie is making a great comeback. I'm currently reading this on my Kindle and it's great so far! It's out now.

"As Lizzie juggles running a failing women's magazine with bringing up a young family she ponders on whether you really can “have it all”. The answer comes sooner than she expects when her husband's actions turn her world upside down...

Alison should be looking forward to a quieter life with David now that their youngest has fled the nest. But David has other ideas and his increasingly bizarre behaviour leaves Alison wondering if she really 
knew her husband at all...

Karen has managed to hold her family together since Paul walked out on them many years before. That makes her the perfect person to start The Divorce Club to help others on their own. But as the burden of past secrets unravels, Karen realises she needs help too.

Ed really believes in marriage. So much so that he's done it three times already. But as his work and home life get ever more complicated, will he ever be able to find “the One”...

Add in an overbearing sister, a troublesome half-brother, the surprise return of faces from the past, grown up kids with their own problems, and ageing parents who've discovered the ups (and downs) of internet dating and you have a gripping and entertaining tale of modern life as our foursome struggle with... Divorce for Beginners."

You can buy Divorce for Beginners as an eBook now!

1 January 2013

January 2013 releases

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a great Christmas, and I'm now looking forward to getting stuck in to some amazing new books this year! January is shaping up to be an exciting month, just look at all these great books due out in January. Which ones are you looking forward to most of all? I'm not sure I can choose...