Archive | November, 2010

Book Review – Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll

28 Nov

(From the back cover) Jeweller Garet James isn’t the same as everyone else. She just doesn’t know it yet.

With her fair share of problems – money (lack of), an elderly father, a struggling business – Garet should be just like any other young, feisty, single New Yorker. If only it was that simple…

It begins with the old silver box that had been soldered shut. All Garet has to do is open it. A favour for the frail owner of the antiques shop. Who wouldn’t help?

Only it’s then that things start to change. Garet doesn’t notice at first, the shifts barely perceptible. But the city in which she grew up is beginning to reveal a long-hidden side – darker, and altogether more dangerous: parallel world of chaos, smoke and blood.

And now it’s out of the box…and it has no intention of going back in.

Lee Carroll is a pseudonym for husband and wife writing team, Carol Goodman and Lee Slonimsky. Carol is a novelist and Lee a poet and they certainly put their combined skills to good use in Black Swan Rising. I loved the use of language in this book and in parts I found that the descriptions were wonderfully poetic, adding to the sense of magic in the story.  Black Swan Rising is the first part of a new urban fantasy trilogy and the first urban fantasy novel that I’ve read that isn’t aimed specifically at the young adult market. That’s not to say that young adult readers won’t enjoy this book but there are some parts that might not be suitable for younger readers.

The focus of the story is 26 year old Garet (short for Margaret) James, a Jeweler living in New York. The action begins straight away as a storm forces Garet to seek refuge in an antiques shop. The owner of the shop recognises a crest on a necklace that Garet is wearing and gives her a silver box bearing the same crest, that has been soldered shut. He asks Garet to use her skills as a jeweler to open the box and return it to him. Garet does as he requests and sets off a chain of events that she could never have imagined would happen.

You definitely need to suspend belief to read this book; it features a myriad of fantastic creatures including fairies, dragons and a vampire and has a wonderfully detailed mythology behind it which I really enjoyed. I also liked the way that despite the fantasy element, the story was strongly grounded in the everyday and familiar, with references to well known landmarks in New York, everyday objects and recent events that have been in the news. As Garet finds out more about her ancestors and learns her true destiny, history (both her own and events in the wider world) is given a completely new and very interesting perspective. I really liked the idea that there is another world existing in parallel to ours which humans cannot see – I certainly won’t look at New York in the same way again if I ever go back!

There are many threads running through the story and a lot of characters to get to grips with. At times I felt like I wanted more information on some of the key characters, but as this is the first in a trilogy, I suspect more detail will be revealed as the series progresses and it certainly left me wanting to find out more. I think the story will appeal to a lot of readers as there is mystery as Garet begins to uncover past secrets, paranormal romance as she finds herself drawn to Will Hughes and elements of horror as well as the fantasy side and sub plots surrounding Garet’s fathers debt and a robbery at the gallery he owns and her friends Jay and Becky and their band.

This is a great debut from Lee Carroll and I’m eagerly anticipating the next installment. If like me, you are new to the urban fantasy genre, I’d recommend Black Swan Rising as an excellent place to start.

I’d like to thank Transworld Publishers for sending me a copy of this book for review.


You can find out more about Lee Carroll and Black Swan Rising at:

December/January book release preview – my wishlist (part one)

23 Nov

I only have two books on my December wishlist but I have a whole heap that I want to preview for January so I’ve decided to do December and the first week of January in this post and do a wishlist post for the rest of January next month.


The Hating Game (ebook) by Talli Roland
1st December
Published by Prospera Publishing


The ebook version of The Hating Game is out on the 1st December (paperback to follow in 2011). I’ve been lucky enough to receive an ARC of this already so look out for a review soon!

When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she’s confident she’ll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she’s perfected from years of her love ‘em and leave ‘em dating strategy.

After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £200,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it’s revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes.

Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
28th December
Published by Atom

I love the cover for this one and although I won an ARC recently, I’ll definitely be buying the final version for my collection.

She can control her pack, but not her heart …’I wanted him to kiss me?wished he could smell the desire that I knew was pouring off me. You can’t, Calla. This boy isn’t the one for you.’ Calla Tor has always known her destiny: graduation, marriage and then a life leading her pack. But when she defies her masters’ laws to save a human boy, she must choose. Is one boy worth losing everything?


Awakened (Book 8 in the House of Night Series) by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Released 4th January 2011
Published by Atom

Zoey and the gang are back fighting evil (well, duh, that’s what being a High Priestess is all about) but with a variety of romantic intrigues to distract them it’s a wonder they can get anything done! Zoey’s got some serious work to do at the House of Night if only she could concentrate …

The Spellmans Strike Again (Spellman Mysteries book 4) by Lisa Lutz
Released 6th January 2011
Published by Simon and Schuster


I love this series and can’t wait for the next installment!

At the ripe old age of thirty-two, former wild child Isabel “Izzy” Spellman has finally agreed to take over the family detective business. The transition won’t be smooth. First among her priorities as head of Spellman Investigations is to dig up some dirt on the competition, slippery ex-cop Rick Harkey. Next, faced with a puzzling missing-person’s case she recruits an actor friend, Len, to infiltrate the home of an ageing millionaire as an undercover butler. Meanwhile, Izzy is being blackmailed by her mother to commit to regular blind dates with promising professionals – an arrangement that doesn’t thrill Connor, Izzy’s soon to become Ex-boyfriend No. 12. At Spellman headquarters, it’s business as unusual. Doorknobs and light fixtures are disappearing every day, Mom’s been spotted crying in the pantry and just when it looks like things can’t go more haywire, little sister Rae’s internship researching pro bono legal cases leads the youngest Spellman to launch a campaign that could spring an innocent man from jail – or land Rae in it. It just goes to show, however many Spellman Family Rules are put in place in an attempt to hold the family together, Izzy will never be able to follow Rule No. 1: Act Normal.

Entangled by Cat Clarke
Released 6th January 2011
Published by

I’ve been hearing lots of good things about this on Twitter. It has a really intriguing plot and a great cover too.

‘The same questions whirl round and round in my head:
What does he want from me?
How could I have let this happen?

17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with table, pens and paper – and no clue how she got there.

As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she’s tried to forget. There’s falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there’s something missing. As hard as she’s trying to remember, is there something she just can’t see?

Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?
A story of dangerous secrets, intense friendships and electrifying attraction.

The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean
Released 6th January 2011
Published by Hodder


I love fashion history and this sounds like such a lovely book. I can’t wait to read it!

‘Every dress has a story.
Let me tell you mine…’

Dora is in love with a man who barely notices her, has a job she doesn’t care about, and dresses entirely for comfort, not style. All a far cry from her vivid, eccentric childhood, growing up with her beloved grandmother Mimi.

However, when disaster strikes, Dora knows she has no choice but to return to her childhood home and take over running Mimi’s vintage clothing shop. And there she makes a surprising discovery – Mimi’s been writing stories to accompany every dress she sells. Romantic, heartbreaking tales about each one’s secret life before it got to her shop…

Dora starts to matchmake these lonely frocks with new owners, but will the stories help her as well? Trading her boring high street clothes for vintage glamour is one thing. What she needs to know is whether she can trade her safe old life – and love – for something better too?

That’s my wishlist – let me know what’s on yours. I’m always looking for recommendations!

Book Review – All I want for Christmas by Amy Silver

22 Nov

Twelve days and counting…

It’s Bea’s first Christmas with her baby son, and this year she’s determined to do everything right. But there is still so much to do: the Christmas menu needs refining; her café, The Honey Pot, needs decorating; and she’s invited the whole neighbourhood to a party on Christmas Day. She really doesn’t have time to get involved in two new people’s lives, let alone fall in love…

When Olivia gets knocked over in the street, however, Bea can’t help bringing her into The Honey Pot and getting to know her. Olivia’s life is even more hectic than her own, and with her fiancé’s entire family over from Ireland for Christmas, she shouldn’t be lingering in the cosy warmth of Bea’s café. Chloe, on the other hand, has nowhere else to go. Her affair with a married man has alienated her friends, and left her lonelier than ever.

But Christmas is a magical time, and in the fragrant atmosphere of The Honey Pot, anything can happen: new friends can be made, hearts can heal, and romance can finally blossom…

Bea, Olivia and Chloe are three very different characters. Each woman has relationship issues to overcome. Bea is a single mum to her young son Luca and is trying to come to terms with life without Luca’s father; Chloe is a hard nosed lawyer having an affair with a married man and Olivia has just become engaged but fears that marriage will ruin her relationship with the man she loves. All I Want for Christmas is very much a book about relationships and the leading women all have very different backgrounds and perspectives on love, life, marriage and children. I think a lot of different readers will find something to identify with and will enjoy this book.

I really like the way this book is structured. Each chapter is a date and the chapters count down to Christmas day starting on 14th December. The chapters are broken down into timed entries and it reads almost like a diary with events told from the different perspectives of the three key characters; Bea, Olivia and Chloe. Bea is the main character and Chloe and Olivia are customers at her cafe, The Honeypot. The different entries in each chapter made the story flow really well and I found that the different plot lines and perspectives held my interest and made this a quick read.

Bea’s story is told in the first person and from the beginning, I felt very sympathetic to her. She is struggling to hold everything together and build a perfect first Christmas with her little boy. The first person perspective made me feel like I really knew Bea and as the story progresses we learn more about her past and how she came to be in her current heartbreaking situation. Chloe and Olivia are written in the third person and although I found their stories interesting I didn’t feel like I knew as much about them by the end of the book. As Christmas draws nearer, each of the girls has to face a difficult relationship situation and make decisions about how they want to take their lives forward. As they try to come to terms with new loves, past loves, loss and loneliness, they  find themselves confiding in each other and beginning to build new friendships.

I love Christmas and always make sure I have a number of seasonal books to see me through December, but for those of you who don’t want an overtly Christmassy story, this is the book I’d recommend. This isn’t a book about wrapping presents, snow-filled winter wonderlands or over-sentimentalised family Christmases; it is a story of three women, and their lives, which just happens to be set at Christmas.  I’d recommend it as an enjoyable winter read with a nice satisfying ending.

All I Want For Christmas is released on 25th November and I’d like to thank Amelia at Arrow (Random House) for sending me a copy to review.


In my Mailbox (16)

21 Nov

Just two for me this week; one for review and the last Christmassy book I pre-ordered from Amazon arrived. I’m ready for my Christmas countdown now!

For Review

Beautiful Creatures by Lulu Taylor
Released 27th January
Publisher: Arrow (Random House)

Thanks to Amelia at Random House for sending me this one. It sounds fab and I’m looking forward to reading it over the Christmas Holidays!

Everyone has heard of the Beaufort twins, but few have ever seen them… On the eve of their 21st birthday, at one of the most lavish parties society has ever seen, Octavia and Flora Beaufort are launched into the world. For Octavia, it is one of the most thrilling nights of her life, an evening glittering with the promise of her future. But Flora shrinks from the limelight, fearful of what lies beyond the walls of her over-protective aunt’s house. As Octavia is swept into a whirlwind of lavish spending and fashionable society, she grasps eagerly at whatever she wants: clothes, houses, men… even a department store. But Flora yearns for security – and when she is rescued from harm by a kind stranger, she seems to have found the love and protection she craves. Prey to all kinds of dangers, the twins soon realise that without each other, they run the risk of losing everything. But is it already too late…?


Comfort and Joy by India Knight

The cover of this book really caught my eye and it sounds like an interesting Christmas read.

It’s December 23rd and Clara Dunphy is running around Oxford Street like a blue-arsed fly trying to buy presents. She wants to make Christmas perfect: it’s a lifelong ambition. And a challenging one at the best of times, even without taking her sixteen guests – sorry, “loved ones” – and their varying degrees of social dysfunction into account. Meanwhile, something weird has happened to her marriage, and the ho, ho, ho is thin on the ground. Why does Christmas have such an emotional hold over us? Why does family stuff hit the peak of its madness on December the 25th? And is it okay to want more than you have, when what you have seems so enviable from the outside?

From Notting Hill with Love … Actually winners!

20 Nov

The winners are …

Debbie, Jessica, Karen and Katie!

Congratulations! I have sent you all emails. Thank you to everyone who entered. Please check back soon as I have some very exciting Christmas giveaways lined up.

Book review – From Notting Hill with Love … Actually by Ali McNamara

16 Nov

She was just a girl, standing in front of a boy … wishing he looked more like Hugh Grant. Scarlett loves the movies. But does she love sensible fiance David just as much? With a big white wedding on the horizon, Scarlett really should have decided by now … When she has the chance to house-sit in Notting Hill  – the setting of one of her favourite movies – Scarlett jumps at the chance. But living life like a movie is trickier than it seems, especially when her new neighbour Sean is so irritating. And so irritatingly handsome, too. Scarlett soon finds herself starring in a romantic comedy of her very own: but who will end up as the leading man?

Before I say anything about the contents, I have to say how much I love the cover for this book. Not only is it very pretty (the snowflakes are all shiny!) but it sums the book up perfectly and is wonderfully eye catching with its red and black lettering. Definitely one of my favourite covers of the year so far! In keeping with the theme, the book itself is a bit like a DVD – it comes with extras at the back; a map and tour of Notting Hill, a movie quiz and some really fab facts on some classic chick flicks.

From Notting Hill with Love … Actually starts with lead character Scarlett arriving in Notting Hill. Her film obsession is apparent from the opening line as she compares herself to Julia Roberts. Scarlett’s movie moments start straight away with a brief encounter with a handsome (but grumpy) man in The Travel Bookshop from the Notting Hill movie. As she leaves the bookshop she literally bumps into fashion boutique owner, Oscar in the street, getting soaked with orange juice in the process. The first part of the story is told in flashback as the flamboyant Oscar rescues Scarlett and her shirt and plies her with tea and biscuits while she tells him how she came to be house sitting in Notting Hill. The flashback part of the story sets up the plot nicely and includes some very funny moments.

Scarlett confesses her love of films to Oscar and explains that her husband to be (David), Dad and best friend (Maddie) all think that she can’t live her life in the movies so have orchestrated the month long house sitting break to allow her some time to get her head together before her impending wedding. The book is written in the first person, from Scarlett’s perspective which gives the reader full access to all of her movie obsessed moments. Despite the frivolity of wanting to live her life like it is in the movies, there is a serious side to Scarlett. Her mother left when she was a baby and she hasn’t seen her since. She can see that her fiance loves her and that her Dad has her best interests at heart but she just can’t let go of the feeling that something is missing. I liked Scarlett as a character and found her very funny. Although I did find her a bit selfish at times, she realises her mistakes and moves on to become a better person – just like a good movie heroine should!

The plot steps up a gear with the introduction of Scarlett’s neighbour Sean, whose sister Ursula just happens to be best friends with Scarlett’s new pal Oscar. Oscar invites Sean and Scarlett to a dinner party where Scarlett confesses her aim to ”collect’ movie moments to prove to her family and friends that it is possible to live her dream.  The story is packed full of anecdotes and references from classic films like An Affair to Remember and romantic comedies including my all time favourite – When Harry met Sally. As Scarlett spends more time with Sean and he begins to help her in her quest to find her Mum, she realises that her feelings for him might be more than just friendly! I thought the tension between Scarlett and Sean was fab and the relationship between the two felt very realistic. I loved the contrast between Sean and David too and Ali McNamara kept me guessing right to the end about who Scarlett would end up with.

Despite being packed full of scenes that are reminiscent of classic chick flick films, From Notting Hill with Love … Actually is very fresh and the movie moments are cleverly woven in without becoming cliched or annoying.The plot includes two fantastically out of this world weddings which I loved for their originality and I also enjoyed the sub-plot around Scarlett’s search for her Mum which added some more serious and heartbreaking moments to the story and even brought a tear to my eye in one part.

I have been known to judge a book by it’s cover and in this case my judgement was entirely right. From Notting Hill with Love … Actually encapsulates all the things I love about romantic comedies; lovable (and eccentric) supporting characters, a ‘Will they? Won’t they?’ plot line, laughter and tears and above all an amazingly romantic ending leaving me with a big smile on my face. This is a great debut from Ali McNamara and I’m very excited to read more from her in the future. My final thought it that someone really should turn From Notting Hill with Love … Actually into a film ;-)


From Notting Hill with Love … Actually will be published on 25th November and I’d like to thank Hannah at Little, Brown Book Group for sending me a copy to review.

I have five copies of From Notting Hill with Love … Actually to give away! Full details can be found in the ‘giveaways’ section of the site or by clicking the link below:

From Notting Hill with Love … Actually Giveaway

You can find out more about Ali Mcnamara and From Notting Hill with Love … Actually on her website at:

In My Mailbox (15)

14 Nov

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


I bought four books this week – three of which are lovely and Christmassy!I’ve been hearing lots of good things about Trish Ashley’s Twelve Days of Christmas and when I got to the supermarket they had a special offer to get a free copy of Trisha’s previous novel, Chocolate Wishes so I couldn’t resist! I also got A Winter’s Wedding from Amazon mainly because my own wedding was a wintry one and I loved the cover. Finally I picked up Coming Home for Christmas because the cover really caught my eye!

Twelve Days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley

Christmas has always been a sad time for young widow Holly Brown, so when she’s asked to look after a remote house on the Lancashire moors, the opportunity to hide herself away is irresistible – the perfect excuse to forget about the festivities.

Sculptor, Jude Martland, is determined that this year there will be no Christmas after his brother runs off with his fiancée and he is keen to avoid the family home. However, he will have to return by the twelfth night of the festivities, when the hamlet of Little Mumming hold their historic festivities and all of his family are required to attend.

Meanwhile, Holly is finding that if she wants to avoid Christmas, she has come to the wrong place. When Jude unexpectedly returns on Christmas Eve he is far from delighted to discover that Holly seems to be holding the very family party he had hoped to avoid.

Suddenly, the blizzards come out of nowhere and the whole village is snowed in. With no escape, Holly and Jude get much more than they bargained for – it looks like the twelve days of Christmas are going to be very interesting indeed!

Chocolate Wishes by Trisha Ashley

Life is sweet for chocolate maker Chloe Lyon! In the picture-perfect Lancashire village of Sticklepond, Confectioner Chloe dispenses inspirational sweet treats containing a prediction for each customer. If only her own life was as easy to forecast – perhaps Chloe could have foreseen being jilted at the altar! But when a new Vicar arrives in the village, the rumour mill goes into overdrive. Not only is Raffy Sinclair the charismatic ex-front man of rock band ‘Mortal Ruin’, he’s also the Chloe’s first love and the man who broke her heart. Try as she might, Chloe can’t ignore this blast from her past. Could now be the time for her to make a wish – and dare to believe it can come true?

Coming Home for Christmas by Patricia Scanlan

Two sisters…two very different lives.

Alison’s American dream is in tatters. Her highflying career is on the skids in the financial meltdown. Her Upper East Side apartment is now way beyond her means . But pride prevents her from telling her family back home just how bad things are. Olivia is fraught trying to juggle family, career, preparations for Christmas and organize a surprise party for their mother’s seventieth birthday. How she envies, and sometimes resents, her sister Alison and her life of excitement and affluence in New York.

Coming home is the last thing Alison wants to do, especially now that she’s met a rather attractive, sexy, down to earth neighbour who doesn’t believe in ‘non exclusive dating’ unlike her wealthy boyfriend, Jonathan. But family ties are strong. Alison and Olivia sort their differences, the party throws up a few surprises and Christmas brings changes for Alison that she could never have imagined before coming home

A Winter’s Wedding by Sharon Owens

Love in the bleak mid-winter . . . Emily loves Dylan.And Dylan loves Emily.Their relationship is rock solid.Everyone says they are meant to be together, it’s just a matter of when – not if – Dylan’s going to pop the Big Question. There’s just one tiny fly in the ointment: Emily hates weddings. Which is fair enough seeing as she was jilted at the altar years ago by Alex, her supposed soulmate.Still, Dylan isn’t Alex.He’s gorgeous and sexy and scruffy and kind – and more than worth taking a chance on … But what happens when the ghost of Emily’s Christmas past threatens to ruin everything? Can Dylan convince the love of his life he’s different and that their wedding day will be remembered for the right reasons? After all, with a sprinkling of snow and a touch of magic in the air, there’s nothing quite like a winter’s wedding to warm the soul …

Happy reading everyone and if you are a UK resident, don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a copy of From Notting Hill with Love … Actually which featured in last week’s mailbox! I have five copies to give away :)

Win a copy of From Notting Hill with Love … Actually by Ali McNamara

11 Nov

Do you love chick lit and chick flicks? Do you think you know your Pretty Woman from your Bridget Jones? Have you ever been Sleepless in Seattle? Then this is the competition for you!

Scarlett O’Brien is in love … with movies

Utterly hooked on Hugh Grant, crazy about Richard Curtis, dying with lust for Johnny Depp, Scarlett spends her days with her head in the clouds and her nights with her hand in a huge tub of popcorn. Which is not exactly what her sensible, DIY-obsessed fiance David has in mind for their future.

So when Scarlett has the chance to house-sit an impossibly grand mansion in Notting Hill – the setting of one of her all-time favourite movies – she jumps at the chance to live out her film fantasies one last time. It’s just a shame that her new neighbour Sean is so irritating – and so irritatingly handsome, too.

As a chaotic comedy of her very own erupts around Scarlett, she begins to realise there’s more to life than seating plans and putting up shelves. What sort of happy ending does she really want? Will it be a case of Runaway Bride or Happily Ever After? The big white wedding looms, and Scarlett is running out of time to decide…

Ali McNamara’s filmtastic debut novel, From Notting Hill with Love … Actually is released on 25th November and thanks to the lovely Hannah at Little, Brown Book Group I have five copies to give to movie buffs who correctly answer all of the questions below, which are based on Scarlett’s favourite films.

1. In Notting Hill, Anna checks into the Ritz with a cartoon character’s name. Which two names did she use in the movie?

A. Flintstone & Pocahontas
B. Pocahontas & Bambi
C. Flintstone & Rubble
D. Simpson & Flanders

2. Also in Notting Hill, what does Hugh Grant’s character, Will, exclaim when he tries to climb over the garden fence, but slips?

A. Golly gosh!
B. Whoopsy daisies!

C. Oh bother!
D. Crikey!

3. What type of car is Edward driving when he picks up Vivian in Pretty Woman?

A. Porsche
B. Ferrari
C. Lotus

D. Lambourghini

4. Sticking with Pretty Woman, what street are Kit and Vivian working on?

A. Beverly Hills Boulevard
B. Los Angeles Boulevard
C. Hollywood Boulevard

D. Rodeo Drive

5. Which two authors made an appearance in Bridget Jones’s Diary?

A. Jeffrey Archer & Salman Rushdie
B. Agatha Christie & Jeffrey Archer

C. Salman Rushdie & Dan Brown
D. JK Rowling & Dick Francis

6. What did Bridget put in the soup to make it turn blue for her birthday meal?

A. Blueberries
B. Gin
C. String
D. Food colouring

7. In Sleepless in Seattle, where is Sam when he first sees Annie?

A. On a highway
B. At a train station
C. At a restaurant

D. At an airport

8. Which newspaper does Annie work for?

A. Baltimore Sun
B. New York Times
C. Washington Post

D. Chicago Tribune

9. Which of these people are not mentioned when Hugh Grant’s character lists the great things that have come out of Britain in Love, Actually?

A. Jeremy Clarkson
B. David Beckham
C. Harry Potter

D. Sean Connery

10. What is on the last card that Mark shows to Keira Knightley’s character Juliet?

A. Merry Christmas
B. To Me You Are Perfect
C. My Wasted Heart Will Love You

D. Enough Now

It’s a toughie so get your thinking caps on and dig out those classic rom coms (as if you need an excuse!). I’m currently reading (and very much enjoying) this one and I’ll be posting a full review early next week.

Email your name and answers to by midnight on Friday 19th November. UK entries only at the request of the publisher.

The names all of the correct entries will be put into a hat and five winners chosen at random. Winners will be notified and the results published on my blog on Saturday 20th November.

Please note that the questions and answers are supplied by the publisher and their decision on prizes is final.

Good luck everyone!

Book Review – Welcome to my World by Miranda Dickinson

10 Nov

(From the back cover)
Close your eyes and imagine the world is your oyster…

And now imagine never seeing it. Welcome to Harriet Langton’s world. All her life she’s dreamt of travelling the globe – fate always got in the way.

Working as a travel agent, the closest Harri comes to her dream destination of Venice is booking the trip for someone else. But everything changes when travel fanatic Alex drops in.

With her boyfriend Rob tied up with work, Harri is persuaded to help Alex in his quest for love. But in her attempts to help, Harri soon discovers a whole new set of problems. Now Harri is locked in a ladies loo cubicle at the village hall drowning her sorrows.

Desperate to leave her life behind, will her dreams finally come true? Or will Harri’s leap of faith be her biggest mistake yet?

Welcome to my World is Miranda Dickinson’s second novel. Her debut, Fairytale of New York was one of my favourite books of 2009 (and a Sunday Times bestseller!) and I have been looking forward to reading this book since I read the sample chapter of it at the end of Fairytale last year. The novel starts with  Harri locked in a toilet cubicle in the village hall, hiding from the world, convinced that her life is over. It then flashes back to Harri agreeing to help her friend Viv find a love interest for her son (and Harri’s best friend), Alex.

I liked the structure of the novel a lot; each chapter starts with Harri (still locked in the loo) reflecting on what has happened to lead to the disastrous events that have resulted in her hiding away from everyone she knows and loves. The chapters flow from Harri’s reflections really nicely and as the novel progresses a picture builds of Harri, her friends and family and her life in Stone Yardley. The truth about Harri’s distress is finally revealed in the penultimate chapter after some clever twists to the plot – this made the book a real page turner for me as I was dying to know what had happened to upset Harri so much!

As the lead character in Welcome to my World, I really liked Harri. She is very down to earth and the type of person I’d have as a friend. Harri has had a tough time of things, losing both her parents to cancer and she misses her family dreadfully but her life is looking up. Her gorgeous boyfriend Rob is hinting at ‘the future’ in a very positive way, she’s getting on well with her job as a travel agent and with her Auntie Rosemary, Viv and best friends Alex and Stella on hand, she is content.  I did think Harri was a bit too nice sometimes but I had a lot of sympathy for her as she has a lot of very persuasive friends and sometimes it’s just not easy to say ‘no’! She is a complete romantic at heart and when  faced with a very determined Viv, agrees against her better judgement to help her sort out Alex’s love life.

Alex is a totally drool-worthy character in my opinion and I developed a huge book crush as soon as I read about him with his surfer looks and exotic travel tales. Alex has recently returned to Stone Yardley to settle down and run a coffee shop after ten years of travelling and he and Harri immediately strike up a friendship based on their mutual love of far-flung places.  In many ways, Alex is the opposite of Harri. He’s spontaneous, adventurous and relaxed whereas Harri is a worrier, likes the security of life in Stone Yardley and fears being alone. She is an armchair traveller having found a miriad of excuses not to leave the safety of her familiar surroundings.

Miranda has created a fantastic set of  quirky characters in the occupants of Stone Yardley and I loved the way that the supporting characters all had detailed back stories which gave me as reader a sense of being part of the community. I could certainly see why Harri would be reluctant to leave the place! At it’s heart though, this is a story about facing your fears for the things/people you love. As the book progresses Harri has to deal with a series of complications and dissapointments as she introduces both Stella and Alex to the partners of their dreams. As her friends find romance, Harri’s relationship with Rob suffers due to Rob’s obsession with his job.

So, does Harri get her happy ending and her dream trip to Venice with the man of her dreams? I’m not telling! You’ll just have to read it and find out ;-) but I will say that Welcome to my World is a fabulous book filled with heartwarming charcters, mouthwatering food and lots of romance and it will make you want to book your next holiday right now!

Welcome to my World is out is out now and I’d like to thank Harper Collins for sending me a copy of this book to review.


You can find out more about Miranda and her novels at:

Book gossip – book news

9 Nov

Cover crush – anyone for seconds?!

Secrets (The Ivy)

Rina Onur, collaborator on The Ivy series posted the cover for the second book in the series today. I loved The Ivy and can’t wait to get my hands on book two and am loving the purple cover! Secrets will be released in May 2011 and picks up where The Ivy ended.

Gregory or Clint? Clint or Gregory? Matt, anyone? And what is Lexi up to . . . exactly? When we last saw Callie Andrews, she was caught on the horns of a dilemma. Lexi was threatening to expose all of her safely guarded, deeply buried secrets from high school, and Callie had just hooked up with bad-boy Gregory—despite the fact that she had a perfect (sort of) boyfriend and her BFF Vanessa had claimed (sort of) Gregory as her own. Yow. Entertaining, hilarious, addictive, scandalous, sexy, and smart, The Ivy series is an insider’s look at freshman life at Harvard University. This isn’t high school anymore!

Wolfsbane (Nightshade)

Andrea Cremer, author of Nightshade posted the cover for the second book in the series, Wolfsbane, on her blog at the end of last week and it is gorgeous! Nightshade isn’t out until December over here in the UK but it’s been getting rave reviews so far. Looks like a very exciting new series to follow.

House of Night website revamped!

The UK House of Night Website has had a makeover with lots of fab new links and features to try out. It’s definitely worth a look: