Archive | August, 2010

September book release preview – my wish list

31 Aug

Technically, two of these are published today but as they are US publications, by the time I get my hands on them it will be September!

I’ve limited it to four this month as my ‘to read’ pile is getting out of hand and I need to catch up on some of the great books I got last month … I have no willpower so I’ll probably end up buying more than these but you’ll have to check my mailbox posts to see ;-)

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Published by Transworld Books on 2nd September

This one goes without saying really, given the outcome of my Shopaholic Challenge. I can’t wait to read about the adventures of Minnie Brandon!

Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) thought motherhood would be a breeze and that having a daughter was a dream come true a shopping friend for life! But it s trickier than she thought two-year-old Minnie has a quite different approach to shopping.

She can create havoc everywhere from Harrods to Harvey Nicks to her own christening. She hires taxis at random, her favourite word is Mine , and she s even started bidding for designer bags on ebay.

On top of everything else, there s a big financial crisis. People are having to Cut Back including all of Becky s personal shopping clients and she and Luke are still living with Becky s Mum and Dad. To cheer everyone up, Becky decides to throw a surprise birthday party on a budget but then things become really complicated.

Who will end up on the naughty step, who will get a gold star and will Becky s secret wishes come true?

A Weekend With Mr Darcy by Victoria Connelly

Published in the UK by Avon, HarperCollins on 16th September

I love Jane Austen – the original Chick lit author so this is a must have for me! And isn’t the cover gorgeous?!

Dr Katherine Roberts is a lecturer at Oxford University and an expert on all things Austen. But she has a guilty secret; a love of racy Regency novels by Lorna Warwick. She’s even struck up a long-distance friendship with the novelist and the two of them have been sharing their closest confidences.

When Katherine gets her yearly invite to a Jane Austen Conference at the magnificent Purley Hall in Hampshire, she sincerely hopes that Lorna will be in attendance as well. She can hardly wait to meet her new friend, but it seems that Lorna may not have been completely honest with her…

Meanwhile, hopeless romantic Robyn Love is at her happiest when her head is stuck in one of Jane Austen’s novels – if only her boyfriend Jace Collins could be more like Colin Firth.

The weekend retreat is the perfect opportunity for Robyn to escape from reality for a few days – especially when she meets handsome stablehand Dan. But Jace isn’t going to be so easy to shrug off.

With misunderstandings, muddles and a few shocking revelations, the weekend proves to be even more than they bargained for. Like all true Jane Austen heroines, Katherine and Robyn will discover that finding their own Mr Darcy is far from easy…

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Published by Harper Teen on 31st August (US Publication)

I’ve seen so many tweets about how good this is that I really want to get my hands on it now … it doesn’t come out in the UK ’till January though!

When your world is paranormal, be glad that you’re human! Sixteen-year-old Evie has always taken comfort in the fact that she is normal, even though her best friend is a mermaid and her ex-boyfriend is a lunatic — and a faery. In a world where paranormals are monitored and controlled, Evie works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency because of her unique ability to see through glamours. But someone — or something — starts killing vampires, werewolves and other paranormals, and Evie must figure out what’s happening before they all disappear. Then a shapeshifter named Lend breaks into the agency, and Evie is irresistibly drawn to him, even though he makes her aware that the IPCA is not as noble as she once thought. With everything Evie believes suddenly called into question, the IPCA is attacked and she must choose who she can really trust. And when Evie discovers she’s part of a faerie prophecy of death and destruction! so much for normal.

The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur

Published by Greenwillow Books on 31st August

I love university/college stories and this new series sounds brilliant!

Congratulations! You have been admitted to the most prestigious university in the world. Now what are you going to do?

Callie Andrews may not have money or connections or the right clothes, and she may have way too many complications in her love life, what with—

Gregory
the guy she loves to hate

Evan
the guy she’d love to forget

Clint
the guy she’d love to love

and Matt
the guy she really should love

—all vying for her attention.

But she has three fantastic roommates (best friends or her worst nightmare?) and a wholesome California-girl reputation (oops) and brains and beauty and big, big dreams.

Will it be enough to help her survive freshman year at Harvard?

So, what are you looking forward to in September?

Book Review – The Wedding Gift by Kathleen McKenna

30 Aug

(Book description from Amazon) 17 year old Leeann Worthier is the perfect girl in town – or so she says. George Willets is the heir to a booming petroleum business. When they announce their engagement, George’s controlling mother is unimpressed, and Leeann absolutely refuses to live with her mother-in-law.

So George gives his new wife a house as a wedding gift.
Thirty years before, the same house hosted a grisly scene: George’s uncle and cousins were all slaughtered and his aunt Robina accused of both murder and suicide.

The house is a gorgeous, well-maintained mansion, but has stood empty since the tragedy. It’s intimidating, but who is Leeann to turn down a free house? When the ghost of Robina begins to haunt Leeann, she realizes she’s made a huge mistake …

This novel has something for everyone – it is part chick lit, part ghost story, laugh out loud funny and scary at the same time with a good dose of mystery thrown in to keep you turning the pages.

I loved this book – it is quirky, original and a great story with one of the funniest and believable female lead characters that I’ve come across this year. Leeann Worthier is a 17 year old small town southern girl. The story is told from her perspective and Kathleen McKenna has given her a fantastic voice – the book is written as if Leeann is writing in a diary or talking to you and although it took me a little while to get used to her style, once I did, I really took to Leeann and reading the book was like having a really good gossip with a friend!

Leeann is a fantastically flawed character. She knows she is the prettiest girl in town and plays on it. She can be vain and self obsessed and she loves the good things in life which is essentially why she ends up married to George Willets – heir to his families petroleum business and part of the richest family in Dalton. She is also unbelievably stupid sometimes. On the other hand she is funny, loyal, honest and very sweet natured and I couldn’t help but like her.

Leeann really brings the story to life and together with her best friend Jessie she faces her troubles and the life threatening turn of events in the book with truly heroic style. There is quite a large cast of characters in The Wedding Gift and all of them are well written and described from Leeann’s point of view so that you get the feeling that you are part of the community of Dalton.

I have to admit, I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to horror stories so I was a bit nervous that this book was going to give me nightmares but it is far too funny for that and although there are bits of  ‘horror’ it is combined so well with the comedy and drama that I was enjoying myself too much to be too horrified! I also loved the mystery element – and was totally surprised when the real reason for the murders came out!

My only real criticism, and it isn’t really anything to do with the story, is that the cover doesn’t really do The Wedding Gift justice. I noticed today that there is a new cover on Amazon for the Kindle edition which I like better! I’d recommend this book to anyone and think it will appeal to adult and young adult (16+) readers alike – particularly if you like your books with a darker edge! The Wedding Gift is the the first in a trilogy and I cannot wait for the The Comeback which is due in December 2010.

5/5

Many thanks to Night Publishing and Kathleen McKenna for sending me a copy of The Wedding Gift to review.

In my mailbox (7)

29 Aug

In My Mailbox is hosted by the Story Siren to highlight new books bought or received each week and is a great way to find lots of new ideas for books to read.

Two for me again this week – I am being very restrained with my book buying at the moment which is good as my ‘to read’ shelf is getting out of hand!

So this week I got:

Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger

Heartbreak, headlines and Hermes – welcome to Brooke’s new world…

Brooke and Julian live a happy life in New York – she’s the breadwinner working two jobs and he’s the struggling musician husband. Then Julian is discovered by a Sony exec and becomes an overnight success – and their life changes for ever.

Soon they are moving in exclusive circles, dining at the glitziest restaurants, attending the most outrageous parties in town and jetting off to the trendiest hotspots in LA.

But Julian’s new-found fame means that Brooke must face the savage attentions of the ruthless paparazzi. And when a scandalous picture hits the front pages, Brooke’s world is turned upside down. Can her marriage survive the events of that fateful night at Chateau Marmont? It’s time for Brooke to decide if she’s going to sink or swim…

I have read all of Lauren Weisberger’s books so far and have been eagerly awaiting this one. I love the shoe covers!

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

John Smith is not your average teenager. He regularly moves from small town to small town. He changes his name and identity. He does not put down roots. He cannot tell anyone who or what he really is. If he stops moving those who hunt him will find and kill him. But you can’t run forever. So when he stops in Paradise, Ohio, John decides to try and settle down. To fit in. And for the first time he makes some real friends. People he cares about – and who care about him. Never in John’s short life has there been space for friendship, or even love. But it’s just a matter of time before John’s secret is revealed. He was once one of nine. Three of them have been killed. John is Number Four. He knows that he is next . . .

I wasn’t sure about this one at first as it’s not my usual sort of read but I read a sample chapter and was really drawn in so I snapped up a copy when I saw it was Amazon’s half price book of the week!

Happy reading everyone!

Book Review – Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella

28 Aug

Becky’s life is blooming! She’s working at London’s newest fashion store The Look, house-hunting with husband Luke (her secret wish is a Shoe Room)…and she’s pregnant! She couldn’t be more overjoyed – especially since discovering that shopping cures morning sickness. Everything has got to be perfect for her baby: from the designer nursery…to the latest, coolest pram…to the celebrity, must-have obstetrician. But when the celebrity obstetrician turns out to be her husband Luke’s glamorous, intellectual ex-girlfriend, Becky’s perfect world starts to crumble. She’s shopping for two…but are there three in her marriage?

Two years ago this week I was heavily pregnant and approaching my due date. I really wish I’d read this book then – it would have cheered me up no end! Becky Brandon (Bloomwood) approaches impending motherhood in the same way as she approaches life – head on with plenty of opportunities for shopping and this book really made me laugh out loud!

Book five in the Shopaholic series picks up shortly after the end of the previous book. As you may have guessed from the title, the book focuses in the main part on on Becky’s pregnancy and the preparations for the birth of Baby Brandon. As is now par for the course with our favourite Shopaholic, not everything goes according to plan; there is quite a lot of drama and plenty to keep those who aren’t particularly interested in the latest Bugaboo, entertained, including a suspected affair, Becky’s fight to save the store she works for and Luke’s business problems with his latest big client.

With all this going on, Shopaholic and Baby is a real page turner and I was pleased to see that all of my favourite characters from the previous books make an appearance at some point, including Danny!

I probably don’t need to tell you how good this book is, as if you’ve read this far in the series, you will no doubt already be a fan like me!

This review marks the completion of my Shopaholic challenge just in time for the release of Mini Shopaholic next week. As I’ve said before – I can’t believe it took me so long to read this series but now I have, I’m sure they will be books that I go back to again and again. I’m now really looking forward to reading Sophie Kinsella’s other novels.

5/5

You can find out more about Sophie and her books at: http://www.sophiekinsella.co.uk/

Book Review – Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon

25 Aug

If you fall too fast, you just might crash…Daisy has been dumped, unceremoniously jilted. Not by any ordinary guy, no…Daisy has a secret in her past that she won’t even tell her best friend, Holly. She’s given up on men – and on her own family. But life still has to be lived and where better to recover than as far away from home as possible. Grabbing a chance to see the world, Daisy packs her bags and joins the team catering to the world’s highest-paid, supercharged racing drivers on the Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit. From Brazil to Italy, from Melbourne to Monte Carlo, life passes in a dizzying whirlwind. But nothing – and no one – can stop Daisy from falling again…this time for a man who is prepared to risk his life, and his heart, for the sake of speed, danger and ultimate success.

Paige Toon has released four novels to date and Chasing Daisy was the third. I reviewed her latest book, Pictures of Lily earlier this summer and have had Chasing Daisy on my to read pile for a while now. I have loved all of her books and Paige now has a firm place in my favourite author list.  Although they are all great books, Chasing Daisy is my favourite of her books so far.  I also love the way that Paige links the characters of her books together. I’m determined not to publish any spoilers on this one as I really didn’t figure what Daisy’s secret was and how she linked to previous stories – you will have to read it to find out! That said, you don’t have to read the books in order – I didn’t, as you can see. They read perfectly well as stand alone novels and you won’t enjoy Chasing Daisy any less if you haven’t read any of Paige’s other books.

This book starts with Daisy having an explosive run in with a Brazilian driver, only to find that he is actually Luis Castro, the new signing to the Formula 1 team that she works for. We then fast forward five months to the start of the new racing season as Daisy and her friend Holly, working as part of the front of house team, prepare for the Australian Grand Prix and the start of the Formula 1 season. I don’t know a huge amount about F1 – I do watch the odd race but it is clear that Paige Toon knows her stuff when it comes to racing (her Dad was a racing driver after all) and I think this detail makes the book feel very realistic and believable. But don’t worry if you’re not interested in F1 at all, it makes a unique backdrop to the story but any technical terms are explained by Daisy as she goes along.

It is certainly an exotic world and Daisy soon falls for William Trust, one of the drivers on the team. William has a girlfriend though so Daisy tries to fight the feelings she has. She also continues to have a fiery relationship with Will’s team mate Luis which makes for very funny reading. I liked the way that Will and Luis were complete opposites and how each brought out a different side to Daisy. I have to say that Luis was my favourite from the beginning but I didn’t expect the story to take the turn that it did at all. There are certainly lots of twists and surprises in this book and they kept me turning the pages as fast as I could! It really is a roller-coaster of a ride. The story is told in the first person from Daisy’s perspective which makes the roller-coaster ride of emotions very realistic and heartfelt. I like it when a character surprises me and I didn’t expect Daisy’s background to be what it was and as the book prgressed I was really wishing for a happy ending for Daisy as she had gone through so much in her life.

This book is part of my Summer Reading Challenge and is a perfect summer read. I loved the mix of glamourous locations, romance and drama and the Formula 1 setting was something a bit different for a chick lit novel. I would highly recommend this and any of Paige’s books and am already looking forward to her next release!

5/5

You can find out more about Paige and her books on her website: http://www.paigetoon.com/ and at: http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/

In My Mailbox (6)

22 Aug

In My Mailbox is hosted by the Story Siren to highlight new books bought or received each week and is a great way to find lots of new ideas for books to read.

Just two for me this week – I was planning to be very restrained and only buy a copy of the Red Queen on the day it came out but when I went to pay there was an offer on and I ended up with the first book in the Morganville Vampires series too!

Really looking forward to reading both of them and I’m very excited to be going to an event and signing by Philippa Gregory on 2nd September!

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires book 1)
College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation, where the popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks in the school’s social scene: somewhere less than zero. When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don’t show many signs of life, but they come out fighting when the town’s deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood…

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

The second book in The Cousins War series, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series – The White Queen – but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses. The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth’s daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.

Book Review – Shopaholic and Sister by Sophie Kinsella

21 Aug

Becky thought being married to Luke Brandon would be one big Tiffany box of happiness. But to be honest, it’s not quite as dreamy as she’d hoped. The trouble started on honeymoon, when she told Luke the tiniest little fib, about the teeniest little purchase. Now she’s on a strict budget, she doesn’t have a job – and worst of all her beloved Suze has a new best friend. Then she receives some incredible news. She has a long-lost sister! Becky has never been more excited. Finally, a real sister! They’ll have so much in common! They can go shopping together…choose shoes together…have manicures together…Until she meets her – and gets the shock of her life. It can’t be true. Surely Becky Bloomwood’s long-lost sister can’t…hate shopping? A sister, a soulmate, a skinflint?

*Spoiler Alert* I’ll try to keep any spoilers to a minimum but as this is a review of the fourth book in the Shopaholic series, you might not want to read on if you haven’t read the others!

I was very curious about this book from the beginning; how on earth does Becky come to have a sister?! The books starts as Becky and Luke decide to end their ’round the world honeymoon trip after ten months and head back to England. On their return they find that a lot has changed since they went away and for Becky it seems that everyone has moved on and forgotten about her; even Suze, her loyal best friend has a new mummy pal and with Luke back in workaholic mode, Becky is left with a bad case of post honeymoon blues. She brightens up however with the news that she has a sister! Of course, Becky’s sister, Jess turns out to be absolutely nothing like her and on first (and second) impressions, the pair seem to be complete opposites to the point where it looks like the relationship might be over before it begins. Add to this the fact that Becky and Luke are not getting on so well either and the scene is set for a dramatic decision from Becky!

I really enjoyed this book – it’s not my favourite in the series and I found it a little slow at the start, but Sophie Kinsella soon had me gripped again as Becky tries to salvage her relationship with Jess. I loved that a large part of this book was set outside of London and I enjoyed seeing Becky being challenged by Jess for being such a shopaholic but I also felt really sorry for her when everything seemed to be going wrong. The ending was excellent as it has been with all of the books so far and had a little twist that I hadn’t guessed. This is another fab read from Sophie Kinsella and as I near the end of my challenge I can’t believe I only have two more Shopaholic books to go – more, more, more, please!

4/5

You can find out more about Sophie and her books at: http://www.sophiekinsella.co.uk/

Book Review – Shopaholic Ties the Knot by Sophie Kinsella

16 Aug

(From the back cover) For once in Becky Bloomwood’s life, things are going smoothly. She’s got the dream job as a personal shopper (spending other people’s money – and getting paid for it). She’s got a fabulous Manhattan apartment with her boyfriend Luke. They’ve even opened a joint bank account (although they can’t quite agree on whether a Miu Miu skirt counts as a household expense).
Then Luke proposes – and all of a sudden life gets hectic. Becky’s Mum wants her to get married in Oxshott and wear her old frilly wedding dress. Luke’s mother wants to host a grand extravaganza at the New York Plaza, complete with woodland glade and the New York Philharmonic.
Becky knows she has to sit down and decide – but to be honest, it’s a lot more fun tasting cake, trying on dresses and registering wedding presents. Time’s ticking by, plans are being made both sides of the Atlantic and soon she realises she’s in trouble…

Shopaholic Ties The Knot… because you only do it once. Don’t you?

*Spoiler Alert* I’ll try to keep any spoilers to a minimum but as this is a review of the third book in the Shopaholic series, you might not want to read on if you haven’t read the others!

Wow! I loved this book. It is definitely my favourite of the Shopaholics so far. There were so many brilliant and hilarious moments. I thought Luke’s proposal was just perfect and even though I knew he proposed,  I really didn’t expect it at the point in the story at which it happens. Well done Sophie Kinsella for a truly romantic and original proposal scene!

Shopaholic Ties the Knot is set about a year after Shopaholic Abroad and finds Luke and Becky living happily together in New York. All is going well and Becky is loving her job as a personal shopper. As soon as Luke proposes and Becky accepts, both Mothers go into wedding planning mode and Becky faces her biggest dilemma yet. Does she make her parents dreams come true by getting married in England or does she accept the offer of an all expenses paid Plaza wedding in New York? True to form, Becky throws herself into the wedding preparations, putting off making her decision until the last possible minute. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what Becky’s decision would be and as with all of the Shopaholic books, the ending was brilliant!

I love the way that Sophie Kinsella’s characters really leap off the page and there are some great new characters in this book; Becky and Luke’s neighbor Danny made me smile and I loved her boss Christina and feisty Lauren too. All of the characters are written with real warmth and are interesting in themselves – I’m sure Sophie could produce a whole series of spin off books about the lives of the supporting characters! Elinor, Luke’s mother features prominently in this one and we learn much more about Luke and his relationship with her. Old favourites such as Suze and Michael are back, united in their aim of keeping Becky out of trouble!

I loved planning my own wedding and really got caught up in the detail of this book – it is another perfect chick lit read so if you haven’t read it, grab a copy now!

5/5

In my mailbox (5)

15 Aug

In My Mailbox is hosted by the Story Siren to highlight new books bought or received each week and is a great way to find lots of new ideas for books to read.

I was sooo good this week and didn’t buy any books. It was hard I can tell you!

I did get one sent to me for review though:

The Wedding Gift by Kathleen McKenna

In the author’s own words, the wedding gift is…

“… a Southern Gothic paranormal story, told in the voice of a crazy charming small town beauty queen who runs for corn princess, loses the boy she wants and marries the idiot son of the towns richest family all before senior year is over. Marrying for money can be really dangerous. Leeann’s new mother in law is beyond horrible and the wedding gift she receives is a little off too. Mrs. Willetts, Leeann’s new in law is appalled at her sons choice so as a tongue in cheek wedding gift she gives the newlyweds a fabulous antebellum mansion, one still occupied by an earlier beautiful unwanted bride who lived there and killed there.”

Sounds like fun I think and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Book Review – Simon's Choice by Charlotte Castle

12 Aug

Just for a moment, imagine yourself the parent of sweet 7 year old girl who is dying of leukemia. When the time comes that she has to be told about her future, it turns out she’s not so scared of dying. It’s more … when she gets to heaven, who will she know?

And that’s the hardest part. How can you let her do it alone? How can you let her be afraid? If it were me, I’d be terrified. And probably drinking far more than I should just to get away from it. Then, one night, after too many of those drinks, I hear her come downstairs in her little pink cotton nightie. We talk a bit, chat about this and that. Then she asks, “Who will live with me in heaven?”

What would you say?

Well, in ‘Simon’s Choice’, the little girl’s father, Simon, gives her an instant response. He says he’ll go with her. At which point, his life goes from horrible to unimaginable. Did Simon mean what he said? As the clock ticks slowly on, does he still mean it?

A couple of weeks ago Night Publishing sent me an email asking if I’d like to review Simon’s Choice. I read the synopsis above and my initial reaction was no – I thought it sounded too sad and depressing. But despite my misgivings, I couldn’t get Simon’s Choice out of my head. I found myself wondering what his choice was in the end and mulling over the plot of the book so, intrigued, I emailed back and said I’d like to read it.

I received an e-version of the book and set to reading it almost straight away. Charlotte Castle has an easy writing style and I found this a quick read which flowed well – her dialogue of family life is particularly realistic. The story pulled me in immediately as we meet feisty seven year old Sarah, refusing to wear a wig to go to church despite having lost her hair as a result of her treatment for leukemia. We then meet her father, Simon, whose battle to come to terms with his daughters impending death is the main subject of the book. Interestingly, the book is written in the third person which allows us to see events from a number of different perspectives, although the main point of view is Simon’s. I have to admit, I would have liked to have seem more from Sarah and Melissa’s perspectives to balance Simon’s and get a more rounded picture of what was happening to the whole family, but as the book is called Simon’s Choice, it made sense to focus mainly on him.

As a character, I had great sympathy for Simon, however, I did find him rather pompous and snobby, not to mention selfish at times and as the book went on there were times that I really wanted to give him a good talking to! But, as much as he annoyed me, I credit Charlotte Castle with putting  a character on the page warts and all and for depicting in what felt like a very truthful way, one mans attempt to come to terms with the loss of his only child.

Despite it’s heavy subject matter, there are funny moments within the book which prevent it from becoming depressing. There are breaks in the story where we learn more about the pasts of Simon and his wife Melissa and there are a number of good supporting characters. I particularly liked Simon’s parents and Duncan the local vicar. There were parts of this book that I read with tears in my eyes. I liked the fact that it made me think.

The ending itself came as a surprise and in a way I felt that it tied things up a little bit too nicely but it did also leave me wanting to know more about what happened to Simon and his extended family next. This type of book isn’t normally a genre I’d go for – it is very different from the books I usually read and I’m glad I read it as it took me out of my comfort zone. Charlotte Castle is a promising writer and I will watch with interest for her next book.

3/5

You can find out more about Charlotte Castle and her books at: http://charlotte-castle.blogspot.com/