Book review: The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

17 Mar

Longest rideThe bestselling love story behind the massive Hollywood film

Two couples. Two love stories. One epic tale.

Ninety-one-year-old Ira Levinson is in trouble. Struggling to stay conscious after a car crash, an image of his adored – and long-dead – wife Ruth appears. Urging him to hang on, she lovingly recounts the joys and sorrows of their life together – how they met, the dark days of WWII and its unrelenting effect on their families.

A few miles away, college student Sophia Danko’s life is about to change. Recovering from a break-up, she meets the young, rugged Luke and is thrown into a world far removed from her privileged school life. Sophia sees a new and tantalising future for herself, but Luke is keeping a secret that could destroy it all.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples, separated by years and experience, whose lives are about to converge in the most unexpected – and shocking – of ways.

This is only the second Nicholas Sparks book that I’ve read but it reminded me that I must read more of his back catalogue and watch the film adaptions of his books! I really enjoyed, The Longest Ride and the two love stories within it had me gripped. This is the type of epic romance that Nicholas Sparks is famous for and in The Longest Ride he gets it spot on.

There are two stories in the book; the first tells of the lifetime of love between Ira and Ruth. As Ira lies badly hurt and trapped in his car following an accident he recalls the significant moments of his life with his true love Ruth. As Ira flashed back to the moment he met Ruth, his courtship of her and their life together I was fully drawn into their story and loved reading about their relationship and its ups and downs. Ira is 91 and a character that can only be described as a true gentleman – I loved his charm and thoughtfulness and enjoyed the history contained in his memories.

In the present, university student Sophia has just ended a disappointing relationship and isn’t really looking for a new one but when she meets rancher Luke at a bull riding event there’s an instant spark between them. Mr Sparks is a true romantic and I loved the development of Sophia and Luke’s relationship. The stories run in parallel for the majority of the book and the question of how they would combine, Ira’s quest and the significance of the two different couples kept me turning the pages and fully engrossed.

There are many parallels between the two stories and couples taking in themes of immigration, family and of course love. When the big reveal finally happened I was as surprised as the characters and I thought the ending was perfect. With moments that will make you swoon and 0thers that were simply heartbreaking, The Longest Ride is an all consuming love story and showcases Nicholas Sparks talents at their best. I’m now very eager to see the film adaption of the book!

5/5

The Longest Ride is out now in paperback and ebook formats. I’d like to thank the publisher fro providing a review copy of this novel.

Find out more about Nicholas Sparks and his writing at: http://uk.nicholassparks.com/

Guest post: My top five sights to see in Spain by Sheila O’Flanagan

13 Mar

Today I’m delighted to welcome one of my favourite authors to One More Page – the lovely Sheila O’Flanagan. Sheila has always loved telling stories, and after working in banking and finance for a number of years, she decided it was time to fulfil a dream and give writing her own book a go. So she sat down, stuck ‘Chapter One’ at the top of a page, and got started. Sheila is now the author of more than fifteen bestselling titles. Sheila’s latest novel, If You Were Me is set partly in Seville and in celebration of the paperback release Sheila is sharing her top five places to visit in Spain with us today.

sheila o flanaganThe Alhambra Palace, Granada

This is one of the top sights to see in the world, let alone Spain. It is a perfect Moorish palace,  with stunning courtyards and mosaics. The Alhambra was constructed in the 14th century and was the stronghold of the Nasrid dynasty in Andalucia, until its conquest by Ferdinand and Isabella in the 15th century. It was designed with beauty and light in mind and I can’t help thinking what a shock it must have been for Ferdinand and Isabella’s daughter, Catherine of Aragon, who had spent some of her childhood there to arrive in Tudor England and have to live in a cold, damp palace!

The Giralda Tower, Seville

The tower was originally built as a Moorish minaret but with the end of Moorish dominance in the region, the mosque was converted into a church. Subsequently the current cathedral was built on the site and the tower used as the bell tower. The history is interesting but the views of the city are spectacular. And, quite honestly, the entire city of Seville is one of the most vibrant, exciting and romantic cities you’ll ever visit so the tower is just an excuse to get you there!

The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

One of the iconic sights of Barcelona is this Gaudi designed church. Construction begun in 1882 and Gaudi become involved the following year, but by the time he died 44 years later it was still only about a quarter finished. Construction is still ongoing – apparently the completion date is now 2026 so you’ve plenty of time. Meantime, while you’re in Barcelona, a cocktail at the rooftop bar of the hotel Duquesa de Cordona near the marina is a lovely way to while away the evening.

The City of Toledo

Toledo is a walled city located on a mountain about 50kms outside Madrid. It was at various times Muslim, Jewish and Christian, as well as a stronghold for the Spanish monarchy, and those cultural influences can be seen everywhere today. Every street feels like a stroll through history, although thankfully there are plenty of open air bars and restaurants to make you realise that you are in a living, breathing place. It’s famous for its steel – this is the place to buy steak knives or swords (though obviously only if you’re not on a hand luggage trip!). There are lots of cute little street corner bars as well as some very chic ones, like Bu Terraza, with great views.

if you were meThe Paradores of Spain

OK, so this is not a particular sight but I’m recommending that if you want to visit some fantastic locations full of history and culture, you should think about staying in some of the Paradores. These are usually ancient buildings such as monasteries and castles which have been sympathetically converted into hotels. You can get some great deals on them with offers such as a 5 night pass which will allow you to stay in any combination of Parador that you like. There are Paradores in all of the cities above, as well as loads more (check out Hondarribia for a really old castle!)

You can see pictures of some of the places I’ve mentioned on my Pinterest page, as they also feature in my books: https://www.pinterest.com/sheilaoflanagan/

The Paradores website is here: http://www.parador.es (click the ‘Español’ button at the top right to scroll down for an English version)

If You Were Me is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Headline.

Find out more about Sheila and her writing at: http://www.sheilaoflanagan.com/  and do check out the other stops on Sheila’s blog tour.

Book review: Hero by Samantha Young

9 Mar

9780349408781Alexa Holland’s father was her hero-until her shocking discovery. Ever since, Alexa has worked to turn her life in a different direction and forge her own identity outside of his terrible secrets. But when she meets a man who’s as damaged by her father’s mistakes as she is, Alexa must help him.

Caine Carraway wants nothing to do with Alexa’s efforts at redemption, but it’s not so easy to push her away. Determined to make her hate him, he brings her to the edge of her patience and waits for her to walk away. But his actions only draw them together and, despite the odds, they begin an intense and all-consuming affair.

Only Caine knows he can never be the white knight that Alexa has always longed for, and when they’re on the precipice of danger, he finds he’ll do anything to protect either one of them from being hurt again . . .

Move aside Mr Grey, make way for Caine Carraway! The ‘hero’ of this new standalone novel from Samantha Young is an incredibly successful and wealthy Boston business man and certainly used to getting what he wants in life but that’s where the comparisons with dominating business men from other well known novels should end – Caine Carraway is far and away one of the most complex and interesting male leads I’ve had the pleasure to meet in recent reads and Hero is set to be another huge hit for Samantha Young.

I’ve been a fan of Samantha’s books for a while now and have enjoyed all of the novels that make up her best selling On Dublin Street series so I was intrigued when I heard that she was bringing out a new standalone novel set not in her native Scotland as all of her previous books have been but in America. Boston and its wealthy society elite makes the perfect setting for this book which focuses not just on the city’s business elite but also on its ‘ruling’ society families where the right or wrong surname can make or break you and family politics are rife.

As with all of Samantha’s novels, she gives her leading characters complicated pasts and a whole series of emotional problems to overcome. Right from the start, I was rooting for leading lady Alexa Holland and I loved her strength and realism. Alexa’s father is not only the cause of major upheaval in her own life but as she has recently discovered in Caine’s too. When the two are thrown together unexpectedly, Alexa tries to make amends triggering a shocking reaction from Mr Carraway that marks the start of a rollercoaster ride of a novel that had me turning the pages as fast as I could!

Alexa and Caine’s relationship sparked off the page right from the start and I loved that she didn’t take any nonsense from him even when she finds herself working for him! Samantha Young expertly builds the tension between the two and there are some seriously hot scenes as passions rise! This is one of the hottest romance books I’ve read in a long time and I was completely caught up in the will they/won’t they relationship between Caine and Alexa.

With a great supporting cast including Caine’s mischievous best friend Henry and elderly (but extremely sassy) neighbour Effie, wonderful well-described settings from a city I’d love to visit and plenty of surprises including some shocking turns of events, Hero has everything I look for in a romance novel and is my favorite of Samantha Young’s books to date.  I really hope Samantha visits Boston and Caine and Lexy again in her future writing!

5/5

Hero by Samantha Young is published by Piatkus in paperback and eBook. You can find of all Samantha Young’s titles in the Kobo website here: https://store.kobobooks.com/List/the-hottest-new-voice-in-romance-samantha-young/J-xrHY0rhcp8fAjSHjnPlQ

Find out more about Samantha and her writing at: http://authorsamanthayoung.com/

 

Author interview: D B Nielsen

8 Mar

Today I’m delighted to welcome D B Nielsen to One More Page to tell us about her new adventure series Keepers of Genesis. The four-part series perfect for fans of Twilight and A Discovery of Witches. A magical blend of romance, fantasy and fascinating ancient history. The second part, SCROLL, publishes this week. Welcome to One More Page!

Denise#1-PortraitPlease could you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in British Hong Kong and immigrated to Australia with my family when I was six-months-old. I spent much of my childhood travelling the world with my family as my Dad is an architect. Now, I divide my time between Sydney and London, and enjoy visiting the cathedrals, crypts and museums all over the world. My dream project is to do a series of book tours in the Champagne region of France and High Tea establishments everywhere.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a princess, a ballerina, and eventually a children’s doctor. But I always enjoyed writing. When I was in high school, I would write short stories and poetry for the school magazine and even entered a few newspaper/ magazine writing competitions.

I never formally studied creative writing – I think if you love to write (and have people read your work/s) then you’re a writer whether you’re published or not. Instead, I studied Humanities at university, majoring in English Language and Literature and Linguistics (Semiotics) and became a university lecturer. But I continued to write for fun and it was only when some of my students encouraged me to publish my novel that I thought about writing professionally (and not just publishing academic essays and articles for journals which many people would consider boring!)

My genre is YA/ NA paranormal romance, which I also love to read – you’ve got to be a fan of the genre to be a writer of the genre!

Tell us about SEED: Keepers of Genesis I

SEED is best described as The Mortal Instruments meets The Da Vinci Code. It follows the journey of Sage Woods, the seventeen-year-old daughter of an eminent archaeologist, who uncovers the disturbing secret about a powerful, hidden artefact; unearthed in modern day Southern Iraq (formerly ancient Mesopotamia). With its discovery, an ancient conflict is reignited and Sage is placed in terrible danger as, unwittingly, she stumbles into an invisible war. She is embroiled in a quest that takes her from the British Museum to the Louvre to the Vatican Secret Archives and realises that her blossoming romance with the mysterious, alluring St. John Rivers is inextricably tied to the artefact. Up until now, St. John has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Sage is determined to delve deeper to uncover his dark secret and his connection to the artefact. It is a decision that will have a devastating effect on humankind…

Do you have an academic background in History?

Readers might be surprised that I have very little background in archaeology and history. I love the subject but I never formally studied it beyond my first year at university. Yet, in the novel, there’s a lot of historical details which I tried to make as accurate as possible.

What are the main themes or ideas behind the series?

I think there are quite a few messages within the novel. One of them is that history is often stranger than fiction or fantasy. If we can understand the past, we can make sense of ourselves and our world.

Also, I want readers to understand that some things have to be taken on faith. There is much to discover still in our world – the unknown, the unexplored, the unseen – but, in the end, the story is about us; about love and mortality; the human condition.

Do you draw on personal experiences in your writing?

I would love to meet these characters or go to these places but my life is much more ordinary than that! I think the only sections I can safely say are based on events in my own life are the recipes in the novel and the Christmas celebrations I describe with the specific cultural and familial traditions and customs. The character of Sage’s mum is, perhaps, similar to my own mum who was also an artist/ designer – so she’s the only character in the novel that is close to being real.

How do you combine writing with work commitments and family life?

I’m a mum and I have four children (aged from 2 years old to 18 years old) who keep me on my toes!

Parenting comes first. I often feel guilty that I might need to lock myself away to write and have to leave the kids to my husband to take care of (he’s wonderful with them but I hear them through the closed door and just itch to get involved in their dramas) – though mainly I try to write late at night when the kids are in bed and asleep.

I don’t write every day or to a schedule but I am trying to be more disciplined as I admire writers who can write 2,000 words a day and stick to a schedule. But I’m more a stop-and-start, when-the-mood-takes-me, bash out a chapter in a day then take a hiatus for two weeks, get some inspiration from other authors/ reviewers/ readers and bash out another few thousand words, get distracted by my family (kids demanding food/ drinks/ misplaced toys/ misplaced clothes/ toilet trips…) and grind to a stop (swearing in frustration because I want to write but have to prioritize), then do it all over again.

On the upside, I do have a plan of where I want my novel to go and work around that. I always have a mental map of about half the chapters (including the beginning, climax and denouement) and let the rest work itself out.

Also, I get to spend time with the kids (dance class, soccer practice, baking brownies, school concerts, kids’ parties all have their place in my life) – but my secret is to be organized with everything else so that when I get time, I can lock myself away for an hour or two to write (and try not to feel guilty!)

On a personal note, I wrote the novel virtually one-handed whilst nursing my infant son. Typing one-handed is not my forte but I managed to write SEED within three months – a fact I’m very proud of!

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

When not writing I love to cook. I especially love baking – cookies, cakes, brownies, scones … just about anything really. I use it as an excuse to procrastinate when writing. When I was young, the kitchen was my mother’s domain but the thing she’d let me cook was desserts. So every Saturday when my brothers went to play soccer and after my netball games, I’d rush home and bake a cake or cupcakes. It seemed to give lots of pleasure to everyone. Now I bake for my kids.

What novel do you wish you had written?

Of the classics, I wish I had written Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as there is something rather wonderful about the story of a young, headstrong, independent woman marrying the ideal man (who appreciates her for her brains and not just because she’s attractive).

Of the contemporary novels, I wish I had written The Time Traveler’s Wife by Hiffenegger as it made me laugh and cry and think about a love that lasted a lifetime and beyond.

I would love to write futuristic dystopian novels – I know that this is probably a trend with The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc… out at the moment, but I have a couple of ideas that are slightly different from the books published at the moment and I’m hoping to be able to write them down when I finish the KEEPERS OF GENESIS series.

Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?

I think it would have to be Gabriel Chevalier because he’s such a charming, capricious, mischievous figure. Think Loki in The Avengers and Thor film series – that’s Gabriel. But Gabriel is quite charismatic and humorous too (and he’s secretly a very deep character but the right girl will be needed to unlock all his secrets).

Tell us about the second book, SCROLL, in the KEEPERS OF GENESIS series SCROLL JACKET JPEG

The second book in the series is SCROLL. It follows Sage’s sister’s journey (so the narratives in the novels are alternating between books) and her trials and tribulations. Unlike her sister, she’s confused about love and involved in a love triangle – but she’s very attracted to the Byronic hero-villain/ the bad boy figure, Phoenix (also known as Finn). Here’s an extract of the next book (soon to be published):

He leant forward, his eyes now so dark a blue that they were almost black in the emptiness of the shadowy gallery.

‘Oh, I understand perfectly,’ he said, his tone now mildly amused. ‘But do you?’

I scowled up at him as I took a step back. ‘Do I what?’

‘Do you understand what it is that you want?’

He stepped closer to me as he spoke, forcing me to retreat until I found my back pressed up against the stone monument that I had admired only moments before, ironically mirroring the event of the previous night.

I shook my head hesitantly. ‘What are you talking about? You’ve lost me. You constantly speak in riddles and I don’t understand you.’

‘Again, you do not see, because you do not choose to see, Saffron.’

This time when he said my name it was like a caress that tingled through me, electrifying every nerve ending in my body.

‘You make me forget, Saffron…’ His voice drifted off.

Staring up at him, I asked, ‘Forget what?’

But he ignored my question.

‘Is it so wrong?’ he mused again, speaking more to himself than to me.

I frowned in dismay. ‘What?’

‘Is it so terrible to want what you should not? To crave what you cannot have? Do you fear to seize what you desire? What is forbidden?’

I found the very breath strangled in my throat. Somehow our conversation had wandered down a different path and I was alarmed by the direction which it was now taking.

I didn’t know if I was ready for this.

And I had a strange feeling that Finn wasn’t just talking about me but himself. I wasn’t afraid of the wild look in his eyes, but it made my stomach flutter in an uncomfortable way, sent my pulse hammering through my veins.

I moved, but he was quicker, placing himself directly in my path.

‘Let me pass, Finn,’ I demanded futilely. But even to my own ears, my voice lacked conviction.

The top of my head scarcely reached his shoulder and I felt dwarfed, yet oddly protected, by his height and solid muscle. He slowly bent down, his lips brushing against my ear, making me shiver in reaction as his breath fanned the tendrils of loose hair curling around my left earlobe.

‘Fear and passion are but two sides of the same coin.’ The scent of fruit was stronger now. ‘You’ve felt fear, Saffron, but have you ever really felt passion?’

Musical notes dropped from his lips like pearls, seducing me.

‘We all are afraid of losing ourselves, of losing control and being possessed, and consumed. And yet, like moths drawn to the flame, we crave it.’ Finn’s eyes seemed to see into my very soul. ‘Against our better judgement, we’re tempted … and it would be so easy to give into that temptation…’

‘Finn, please. Let me pass,’ I said again, my voice even weaker. I tried to clear my throat, but instead my mouth felt dry like sandpaper.

‘You give me an order, Saffron, yet I do not feel the force of it. Perhaps you do not mean it…’ he whispered seductively into my ear. ‘Yet you could make any demand of me, if you only knew your power…’

What are you reading now?

I love discovering Indie authors so there are a few books from the #IndieBooksBeSeen movement I’m dying to read (including JC Brennan’s A Fine Line, Robert A Palmer’s Relyk, CL Schneider’s The Crown of Stones and Renee N Meland’s The Extraction List) but I’m also interested in those books recommended to me by my readers. I deliberately stay away from any books containing angels and Nephilim whilst I’m writing, but I have just discovered Rachel Caine’s The Morganville Vampires series and I’d also like to look into Jennifer Armentrout’s books that so many of my readers just love.

SCROLL: KEEPERS OF GENESIS II by DB Nielsen is published on 12th March

Find out more about DB Nielsen and her writing at: www.dbnielsen.com  or follow her on Twitter @db_nielsen

 

Short Story Spotlight: Chalet Girl Plays Cupid by Lorraine Wilson

8 Mar

chalet girl cupidA match made on the slopes…
After a messy break up that’s left her homeless, jobless and single, temporary chalet girl Emily needs a fresh start! So when best friend Holly asks her to help out before the start of the winter season at the exclusive Chalet Repos in Verbier, Emily jumps at the chance. What broken heart can’t be fixed by après ski cocktails?

Verbier seems like the perfect escape, until Emily meets super-sexy and darkly brooding winter athlete Jake. She’s meant to be avoiding men at all costs, but the spark between her and Jake is sizzling! As she finds herself increasingly left alone with Jake, Emily begins to wonder if Cupid has paid a visit to Chalet Repos…!

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Lorraine Wilson’s Chalet Girl series for HarperImpulse. I always look forward to new releases from Lorraine and to getting an update on the Chalet Girl community. This month we’re in for a real treat with not one but two new Chalet Girl stories and the first of the new releases, Chalet Girl Plays Cupid is free to download so what are you waiting for?!

Just in case you need more convincing to try Lorraine’s fab series, I really enjoyed this latest short story which introduces a new Chalet Girl into the mix as Emily escapes from a bad situation in London to the sparkling surroundings of Verbier. This is a short story so gets straight into the action as Emily steps in to help series regulars Holly and Scott out when they are short staffed.

Holly  and Scott are also trying to help another friend in need; injured sportsman Jake. If you like your romantic heroes tall, dark and athletic then Jake is the man for you but his injury has sent him into a dark place and he is not very friendly to poor Emily to say the least! Lorraine Wilson works her trademark snowy magic on the pair by making them act as guinea pigs for a new snowbound camping experience that Scott and Holly want to offer guests. Will the adventure thaw Jake’s frosty demeanor? You’ll have to read it to find out :-)

Chalet Girl Plays Cupid is another fun quick read from Lorraine packed with romance and sizzling chemistry. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a little escape this spring.

4/5

Chalet Girl Plays Cupid is out now and is free to download from a number of ebook sites. Find out more at: http://www.harperimpulseromance.com/books/chalet-girl-plays-cupid

Lorraine’s next full length Chalet Girl novel, Rebellion of a Chalet Girl is out on 26th March: http://www.harperimpulseromance.com/books/rebellion-of-a-chalet-girl

 

Book review: A Place For Us by Harriet Evans

6 Mar

A Place for usThe house has soft, purple wisteria twining around the door. You step inside.

The hall is cool after the hot summer’s day. The welcome is kind, and always warm.

Yet something makes you suspect life here can’t be as perfect as it seems.

After all, the brightest smile can hide the darkest secret.

But wouldn’t you pay any price to have a glorious place like this?

Welcome to Winterfold.

Martha Winter’s family is finally coming home.

I read Harriet Evans’ latest novel when it was released as a four part serial during the latter part of 2014. The book has now also been released in paperback and ebook formats as a complete novel. I love serialised books and reading this novel I four parts really built the tension for me but whichever way you read it A Place for Us is an excellent family saga.

A Place for Us represents new ground for Harriet Evans and is very different to the lighter romances of her early career focusing on a complex family group and the secrets they hide. There’s definitely a dark side to this story and the twists and turns had me gripped.  I highly recommend it to readers who like family drama with an historical element and there is an excellent variety of characters and situations to appeal to a wide range of readers and will bring Harriet’s long standing fans along with a whole new audience.

The story centers around the wonderful house of Winterfold where the Winter family have grown over the years. We quickly meet a number of the family members and right from the off questions and the hint of family secrets begin to surface. Although it took me a little while to get the different characters straight in my head I enjoyed being drawn into the mystery of the story straight away and within pages I was hooked.

Harriet Evans does an excellent job of creating a complex and varied extended family. I think there are characters in A Place For Us for many types of reader to identify with and I enjoyed the mix of ages, situations, perspectives and personalities. My personal favorites were Cat who lives in Paris and has a whole life that her family don’t know about; academic Florence who is in turns brilliant and hopeless and whose story I loved and Lucy who is just starting out and looking for a way to make her fledgling career as a magazine writer a success.  Three very different women with their own individual stories that weave into the wider plot of the book; a family reunion to mark Martha Winter’s 80th birthday.

As with any good family drama there are many skeletons in the Winter cupboard and Evans continually managed to surprise me and at one point completely shock me with the revelations and twists in this story. Ultimately this is a novel about family and the notion of ‘home’ – a strong and gripping story that is in places dark but ultimately satisfying and I think it’s Harriet’s best book yet.

4/5

A Place for Us is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of parts of this book.

Find out more about Harriet and her writing at: http://harriet-evans.com/

Book news: The Silvered Heart by Katherine Clements

1 Mar

I thoroughly enjoyed Katherine Clements’ debut, The Crimson Ribbon so I was very excited to see details of her next historical novel which will visit the English Civil War period again and shed light on another fab female figure from history. The Silvered Heart will be released by Headline on the 7th May and I can’t wait!

silvered heart

The legendary figure of Kate Ferrars, the infamous highwaywoman, is brought gloriously to life in this gripping tale of infatuation, betrayal and survival.

‘The distant thrum of galloping hooves conjures nothing but doubt and fear these days.’

1648: Civil war is devastating England. The privileged world Katherine Ferrars knows is crumbling under Cromwell’s army, and as an orphaned heiress, she has no choice but to do her duty and marry for the sake of family.

But as her marriage turns into a prison, and her fortune is decimated by the war, Kate becomes increasingly desperate. So when she meets the enigmatic Ralph Chaplin, she seizes the chance he offers. Their plan is daring and brutal, but it’s an escape from poverty and the shackles of convention. They both know if they’re caught, there’s only one way it can end…

Giveaway Winners! That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay

20 Feb

THAT PART WAS TRUE JACKET (1)

 

The winners are …

Kirsty Fox, Leigh Newton and David Reeves

Congratulations! I have sent you an email. Thanks to everyone who entered. Look out for more giveaways very soon!

Book review: Thoughtful by S.C. Stephens

16 Feb

thoughtfulThe only place Kellan has ever felt at home is on stage. Gripping his guitar in a darkened bar, he can forget his painful past. These days his life revolves around his music and his band mates, and that’s the way he likes it. And then one woman changes everything . . .

Kiera is the kind of girl Kellan has no business wanting – she’s smart, sweet, and dating his best friend. Certain he could never be worthy of her love, he hides his growing attraction . . . until Kiera’s own tormented heart hints that his feelings might not be one-sided. Now, no matter the consequences, Kellan is sure of one thing: he won’t let Kiera go without a fight.

It’s been a while since I read a New Adult novel so when the chance to review Thoughtful as part of a blog tour came up, I  grabbed it. It threw me a little that this is actually the fourth book in the Thoughtless series – Thoughtless, Effortless and Reckless make up the original series and this novel goes right back to the beginning to tell the story from lead male character, Kellan’s point of view. As I haven’t read any of the other books I was a little worried but I’m happy to say that Thoughtful stands perfectly as a book on its own.

Reading Thoughtful has definitely made me want to read the rest of the Thoughtless series and I’m sure this book will bring a whole host of new fans to the series and its leading man Kellan Kyle. Kellan is the lead singer in a Seattle-based band and as would be expected, gets more than his fair share of the attention from the ladies. I really enjoyed getting to know Kellan (he even has his own Facebook page!). It was nice to read a story written from the male perspective and as I read about the tough time he had growing up I had a lot of sympathy for him and right from the start of the book was wishing for a happy ending for him.

This wouldn’t be a New Adult romance book without a fair amount of angst and as Kellan is reunited with his old friend Denny and meets Denny’s girlfriend Kiera, the tension in the book jumps to a whole new level. The chemistry between Kellan and Kiera is undeniably hot yet they both have Denny at the heart of their good intentions. I’m not usually a fan of stories that involve cheating but the twists and turns of the Kellan, Denny, Kiera love triangle had me hooked.

Thoughtless is a substantial read at over 500 pages but I flew through it and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen in the end. As well as the main storyline, there was plenty to keep me turning the pages as the other band mates have their own story lines and the band pushes upwards to bigger and better things.

If you’re a fan of authors like Samantha Young and Tammara Webber then you should definitely add S.C. Stephens and her books to your reading list!

4/5

Thoughtful is out in paperback and ebook formats on February 24th.

Find out more about S.C. Stephens and her writing at: http://authorscstephens.com/

 

Book review: Campari for Breakfast by Sara Crowe

10 Feb

campariLife is full of terrible things. Ghosts of dead relatives, heartbreak . . . burnt toast.

In 1987, Sue Bowl’s world changes for ever. Her mother dies, leaving her feeling like she’s lost a vital part of herself. And then her father shacks up with an awful man-eater called Ivana.

But Sue’s mother always told her to make the most of what she’s got – and what she’s got is a love of writing and some eccentric relatives. So Sue moves to her Aunt Coral’s crumbling ancestral home, where she fully intends to write a book and fall in love . . . and perhaps drink Campari for breakfast.

Campari for Breakfast is such an enjoyable read and a funny and heartfelt debut from Sara Crowe. I was drawn to this book by the quirky title and eye-catching cover and I wasn’t disappointed. Fans of The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets and the recently published Love, Nina will love the story of Sue Bowl and her adventures with relatives and new friends in a crumbling mansion in Egham.

Seventeen year old Sue longs to fall in love and become a writer. When her mum dies and her dad begins living with a new love, Sue can’t stand it and moves to live with her Aunt Coral and her lodgers in Green Place. The novel unfolds as a series of diary entries written by Sue punctuated by entries from Aunt Coral’s commonplace book, family letters and excerpts of Sue’s writing. Crowe has a clever way with words and Sue’s many literary mistakes made me chuckle as I read.

Sue is a character born out of time and is often traditional and naive in her views but always entertaining. The lighthearted nature of her character is balanced by the sadness of her mothers death and there are many heartfelt moments among the witty anecdotes. There are also a number of mysteries to the story and as the story jumps back and forward between Coral’s past and Sue’s story in 1987, I flew through this book eager to find out what secrets were to be revealed.

In the 1980s present there is drama aplenty as Sue finds her first job, develops a number of crushes and tries to save Aunt Coral and Green Place. The house is as much a character as its inhabitants and I enjoyed reading the background and history of it as the story played out. There’s a whole cast of wonderfully named characters – my favourites were Budlia and Cameo – and plenty of sub-plots and side stories to keep things interesting.

Campari for Breakfast will appeal to readers with a love of words and writing as aspiring author Sue forms a writing group and follows the teachings of Benjamin O’Carrol to refine her craft. The wonderfully named Egham Hirsute Group and their writing exercises never failed to make me smile and I learned many new words reading this book!

As Sue finds her place in the world I thoroughly enjoyed her story and could happily have continued reading about her and her new found friends and family. I look forward to reading more from Sara Crowe soon.

5/5

Campari for Breakfast is available in paperback and ebook formats now.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.