Archive | April, 2011

Book Review – The Doctor and the Diva by Adrienne McDonnell

26 Apr

1903, Boston. Dr Ravell is a young obstetrician whose reputation for helping couples conceive has made him a rising star. He is flattered when a family of illustrious physicians turns to him to treat one of its own members. Erika von Kessler is a beautiful and ambitious opera singer who has struggled for years to become pregnant. As the young doctor’s attraction to her increases, and his treatments prove ineffectual, Erika’s despair worsens. And when Dr Ravell takes a great risk that may imperil his promising career, a secret he can share with no one, it is a decision that will change their dreams and destinies. What ensues is an unforgettable love story that sweeps across snowy Boston, a lush island of the Caribbean, to the graceful piazzas and opera stages of Italy.

 This is Adrienne McDonnell’s first novel and the plot is based in part on a true story inspired by a distant relative of the author’s. I can certainly see why her ancestor’s story would have intrigued her; The Doctor and the Diva is historical fiction mixed with a good dose of adventure and a dramatic and controversial love affair at its centre and makes for intriguiing reading.

The book is divided into eight parts with the first two parts taking up the first half of the book and concentrating on the von Kessler’s struggle to have a child. Their desire to exhaust every possibility before giving up brings them to seek treatment from Dr Ravell, an up and coming obstetrician with a reputation for his success in helping couples conceive. As Ravell’s and the von Kessler’s lives become linked, Ravell takes a number of risks to provide them with the results they so desperately want, the consequences of which play out in the second half of the book.

Action in the latter sections of the book moves between Ravell’s life on a coconut plantation in Trinidad, Erika’s struggle to pursue her operatic dreams in Florence and the people that Erika leaves behind in Boston and for me this was the most heartbreaking part of the novel.

Ravell and Erika are the main characters in this story but I found it difficult to identify with or empathise with either of them. Both characters take actions that I found difficult to reconcile and whilst I found some understanding for Ravell and his desire to please the couple that he had come to like, I found that I had little empathy for Erika as the book went on. By the conclusion, I was intrigued to see how the story would play out but not really rooting for the characters to have a happy ending. For me, the love story aspect of the book was underplayed and I didn’t really feel the chemistry between characters.

With parts of the plot located in Italy and the Caribbean, I enjoyed reading about different locations and the historical detail of turn of the century Florence, Boston and the Coconut Plantations of Trinidad. The book is well researched and although not subjects I’d normally have much historical interest in, the descriptions of obstetrics and the life of an Opera singer held my attention throughout the book thanks to McDonnell’s vivid writing.

The Doctor and the Diva is certainly a thought provoking read that made me think about the freedoms that I take for granted and the changes in the world over the last hundred years. I’d recommend it to those looking for something different from their next historical fiction read and I look forward to seeing what Adrienne McDonnell will produce next.

3/5

The Doctor and the Diva is released on 28th April and I’d like to thank the pubisher for sending me a copy to review.

You can find out more about Adrienne McDonnell and her books at: www.adriennemcdonnell.com

Book news – book gossip!

26 Apr

Cover love!

As I was looking at my Amazon wish list the other day, I noticed that the cover for Philippa Gregory’s next book The Lady of the Rivers had appeared. I don’t know if this will be the final cover but I really hope so and I can’t wait to read the next book in The Cousins War series. The Lady of the Rivers is released on 15th September.

Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of nineteen she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her house-hold for love, and then carved out a life for herself as Queen Margaret of Anjou’s close friend and a Lancaster supporter – until the day that her daughter Elizabeth Woodville fell in love and married the rival king Edward IV. Of all the little-known but important women of the period, her dramatic story is the most neglected. With her links to Melusina, and to the founder of the house of Luxembourg, together with her reputation for making magic, she is the most haunting of heroines.


Lauren Graham’s debut novel

As a huge Gilmore Girls fan, the news that Lauren Graham (the actress who played Lorelai Gilmore) is writing her debut novel has me very excited. The news was announced on Twitter by publishers Random House who said “Lauren Graham’s debut novel is semi-autobiographical about struggling actress in NYC in mid-90s who waits tables as she hopes for big break.” I really hope that it will be released here too!

Ruth Saberton is Georgie Carter!

Browsing Ruth’s blog the other day, I saw the excellent news that she will be releasing a new book under the pen name of Georgie Carter with Avon. The book has a Christmas theme but will actually be released in September this year and will be called The Perfect Christmas. Congratulations Ruth and don’t forget to check out Ruth’s Blog for more book news including details of Ellie Andrews Has Second Thoughts which is released next month!

Book Review: Bumpalicious by Denise Van Outen

24 Apr

(From the back cover) When Denise found out she was expecting Betsy, she went straight out and bought a wide range of titles, from celebrity mumoir to practical guides to eating and exercising properly. But all of these books were missing something – the element of fun!

BUMPALICIOUS is much more than just a pregnancy diary – as well as Denise’s own personal experiences, you’ll also find helpful hints and tips, non-judgemental advice, nutritional and technical advice from food and fitness experts and, above all, a book that encourages you to relax and ENJOY the excitement of pregnancy and the first few months of being a new mum.

The road to giving birth may be a bumpy one but it’s not all swollen ankles and morning sickness. A frank first-hand account of what to expect when you’re expecting, reading BUMPALICIOUS is like sitting down and having a good old natter with Denise, from the comfort of your couch.

I won a copy of this book on Twitter (thanks @publicityemily) a few of weeks ago so I thought I’d do something new and write my first non-fiction review!

As a mum-to-be and person who has been known to enjoy a good bit of celebrity gossip ;-) I was looking forward to finding out what Denise’s take on pregnancy was. This book is definitely more of a celebrity diary than a pregnancy guide but having scared myself silly reading the traditional pregnancy ‘manuals’ when I was expecting my first baby, I loved the friendly and fun tone of Bumpalicious and I found it much more encouraging (and far less daunting) than some of the other pregnancy books I’ve read.

The chapters start with pre-conception and conception and then cover each month of pregnancy, ending with a chapter on baby’s first month. Each chapter has three parts; an introduction telling you what’s happening in your body that month, Denise’s diary for that month and a section with advice on nutrition and fitness from experts Amanda Ursell and Nicki Waterman.

The basic message is eat healthily, do some exercise and try to relax – easier said than done sometimes but I liked the tips and actually picked up some useful information. I was also pleased to see that the advice on eating and suggestions for ‘healthy’ snacks were actually foods that I would eat and the exercises included actually look manageable (although I admit I haven’t actually tried any of them yet!)

I liked Denise’s diary chapters a lot – her personality certainly seemed to come through in the writing and being the nosy person that I am, I enjoyed the celebrity name-dropping and details of Denise’s life. This is quite a short book at around 200 pages and with its emphasis on enjoying your pregnancy, I think it would make an excellent gift for celebrity loving mums to be, perhaps more so for first time mums but having said that I enjoyed it and I’m not a first-timer.

4/5

Book news – Watching Willow Watts by Talli Roland

23 Apr

Author Talli Roland emailed last week with an update on her next book Watching Willow Watts which sounds like an excellent read. The paperback is published on 30th November this year but as with her debut The Hating Game, the book will be available in Kindle format a few months earlier. The new cover for Watching Willow Watts has just been released and I think it’s fab – I love the way it matches the cover for The Hating Game. Check out Talli’s fab blog for more information on her books and some great reading recommendations.

For twenty-five-year-old Willow Watts, life has settled into a predictably dull routine: days behind the counter at her father’s antique shop; nights watching fuzzy telly whilst the elderly residents of Britain’s Ugliest Village bed down for yet another early night. But everything changes when Willow’s epically embarrassing Marilyn Monroe impersonation is uploaded to YouTube. A canny viewer spots Marilyn’s ghostly image hidden in the film and Willow becomes an international sensation.

Her dire little town is suddenly overrun with fans proclaiming her to be the ‘new Marilyn’. Egged on by the villagers – whose shops and businesses are cashing in – Willow eagerly embraces her new identity, dying her hair platinum and scoffing cakes to achieve Marilyn’s legendary curves.

But when the only man she has ever truly loved returns, seeking the old Willow, it’s decision time. Should she risk stardom and the village’s new-found fortune on love? Or is being Marilyn Willow’s real ticket to happiness?

Book review: Stand by Me by Sheila O'Flanaghan

21 Apr

(From the back cover) Dominique Brady is working as a waitress in a burger restaurant when she falls for Brendan Delahaye and his charming family. Dominique soon becomes Mrs Delahaye, and, in time, glamorous wife to an incredibly successful business man. Through thick and thin the Dazzling Delehayes stand by each other, but when Dominique’s carefully constructed world suddenly falls apart, she is faced with problems no one else can solve, especially not the family she has come to think of as her own. It’s time for her to take control of her own destiny…

Stand by Me is the first of Sheila O’Flanagan’s books that I’ve read but is actually Sheila’s eighteenth novel to date and I’ll certainly be reading more of her books in the future. Before I get into the content, I have to say that I love the cover for the paperback release of this book, which came out last week. It feels very fresh and modern and I think it compliments the story well.

The novel is set in Ireland (mainly in Dublin and Cork) and although narrated in the third person, it mainly focuses on Dominique Brady (Domino) as she grows up, marries into the Delahaye family and lives a semi-celebrity life as wife to Brendan Delahaye, who works his way up to become a very successful business man.The story tells of Domino’s life from being a schoolgirl to around the age of 4o and I loved learning how her life progressed over this period. One of the things I liked most about this book was the sense of time and family history – I felt like I really got to know Domino well as I read and I was sad to leave her at the end of the book.

The story opens with an intriguing prologue as main character Domino prepares for a party. As we first see Domino through the eyes of a young caterer delivering food for the party, we discover that there have been dramatic changes in her life; that she is no longer ‘Dazzling Domino’ and that there is much speculation about the state of her marriage. With many questions waiting to be answered we are whisked back in time to find out how Dominique met Brendan Delahaye and to discover the chain of events that led to their fall from grace.

There is a lot packed into the plot. At almost six hundred pages, Stand by Me has a good pace but at the same time lets the reader really get to know the characters and their relationships with each other and I found it an engrossing read. Domino is a very likeable character and it was interesting to see how she changed as the story progressed. I found her story very inspiring in parts.

This is very much a story about relationships; exploring how they change over time and the impact of life’s ups and downs on couples and families.  I have to admit that I wasn’t as enamoured with Brendan as I was with Domino – his reactions to some of the situations he and Domino find themselves in didn’t impress me and as the book progressed I found myself having less sympathy for him. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the rest of the Delahaye family who were written with warmth and humour and I loved the contrast between them and Domino’s own very religious family.

There are a number of sub-plots running through the story which add even more drama and spark to Domino and Brendan’s tale and Stand by Me tackles some serious issues including, infidelity, depression, loneliness and forgiveness but treads just the right line between seriousness and warmth making this a very enjoyable family saga and feelgood read.

Sheila’s next book All for You will be released in July and I’m already looking forward to it.

4/5

I’d like to thank Emily at Headline for sending me a copy of Stand by Me to review.

You can find out more about Sheila and her books at: http://www.sheilaoflanagan.net/

Author interview: Victoria Fox

19 Apr

Victoria Fox’s debut novel, Hollywood Sinners was released last week and is a brilliant read. I was very excited to be given the opportunity to interview Victoria for One More Page …

Hollywood Sinners is a glamorous rollercoaster of a ride and feels very much like an insider view of the lives of rich and famous celebrities; how did you go about researching the book (did you get to visit Vegas and Hollywood?!)?

Thanks! That’s lovely of you to say. I have visited Vegas and Hollywood, though not as recently as I’d like! I went once when I was a teenager, but was too young to get up to anything naughty like gambling or hitting the bars or anything like that. But the places stayed with me – LA, all clean lines and glass and palm trees; Vegas like a colourful circus springing up from nowhere in the desert – and I drew on those for the locations. Plus we’ve all seen so many films and read so many magazines that it’s not a stretch to fill in the blanks. I must admit the bulk of my research came from celeb magazines like Heat and Now – I read far too many of them! I’m a bit of a conspiracy theorist at heart and a lot of what I was reading encouraged me to wonder if we were seeing the full picture. An idea I had about an A-list Hollywood couple inspired Hollywood Sinners. I just thought, There’s a novel in that.

This is your debut novel and has been described as both ‘Scandalous’ and ‘Sexy’ ; did you always want to write a ‘bonkbuster’ and what drew you to this particular genre?

Bonkbusters have always been dear to me. When I was growing up I LOVED Jackie Collins’ books, Jilly Cooper’s, too, and I always kind of wondered if one day I’d get to write one; if I could write one. When I hit my twenties I struggled to find a bonkbuster I could relate to in quite the same way, one that was genuinely exciting and surprising and made me laugh and gasp in equal measure (because some of those early ones were actually really funny). I figured, if I couldn’t find one, I should write one. So I did!

Hollywood Sinners is set in a world of celebrity with characters who are at the forefront of the film, music and luxury industries; if you had to choose between being a film star, a rock star or a multimillion pound casino owner which would you choose and why?

I love this question! Hmm. OK, I think I would choose to be a casino owner, but only if I could do it in the seventies or something, when Vegas was still Sin City. I’d wear a leopard-print cat suit with huge shoulder pads, a diamond knuckle-duster and blast myself with so much hairspray it made passers-by choke. I’d sit on my leather bar stool sipping a dirty martini and intermittently shouting, ‘Honey, I demand another drink!’ (I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but such is my fantasy.)

Who was your favourite character to write and why?

My favourite character in Hollywood Sinners is Cole Steel, because I find him the most interesting. He was meant to be really nasty, a proper villain, but I think there’s more to him than that. He’s not all bad, he’s just weird and misguided and so far lost to celebrity that he doesn’t know who he is any more: he’s terrified of the illusion crashing down – an illusion so well maintained that he believes it himself. That’s a dangerous stage to get to. I feel sorry for him: once upon a time he was a normal guy. I’d like to return to Cole further down the line.

And finally … What can we expect next from Victoria Fox?

Ooh. You can expect another big, ambitious, glitzy bonkbuster, scheduled for publication in Spring 2012. This one’s going to be even more daring and sensational than my debut, with plenty of sex and surprises. Another big cast of characters, a fast-paced plot packed with twists and turns, and more top-secret celebrity shenanigans . . .

I can’t wait – thank you Victoria!

Book news – book gossip!

18 Apr

Cover Love!

Amanda Addison revealed the cover for her new novel Laura’s Handmade Life earlier today and it’s fab! I love the lemon background and the blues – this will really stand out on the shelves. The book will be out in June and it sounds like a good read too :-)

Laura Lovegrove is leaving behind her seamless life in London. Architect husband Adi has been relocated to rural Norfolk, a far cry from ultra-urban Ealing.

Though Laura knew village life would be different, she didn’t foresee a pokey cottage, nosey neighbours, errant poodles, and even an ex turning up. Chris had been her big love at art college and seeing him again is utterly confusing. Is she really so different from the impulsive student who once trawled charity shops for vintage treasures?

When a fire all but destroys Laura’s collection of vintage clothes, she’s heartbroken. And seriously lacking in outfits. But, salvaging what she can, Laura makes do and mends – sewing purses, bags, even dog leads (which should solve the poodle problem). Soon, she’s inundated with orders. But Adi is becoming more and more distant; it’s like there’s something he’s not telling her. Can Laura make a stitch in time and pull her family back together again?

Cremer and Levithan to team up for 2013 release…

Andrea Cremer, author of brilliant paranormal romance, Nightshade announced today that she will be teaming up with David Levithan (co-author of Nick and Nora’s Infinite Play list and Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares) to release The Invisbility Curse in 2013. You can find out more on Andrea’s blog and I can’t wait to see what the pair will come up with!

The Little Book of Sweets and Cakes!

Jenny Colgan and Little, Brown Book Group have released a free sampler for iBooks, available to downoad to iPhone, iPad or iPodtouch users. The book includes the first chapter of Jenny’s latest book Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe which was released last week and an extract from Jenny’s next book Welcome to Rosie Hopkin’s Sweetshop of Dreams to be published in April 2012 – what a great title! There are also recipies and an introduction from Jenny making this a fab freebie!

New books in May – my hot picks!

18 Apr

These are the books that are on my wish list for next month …

Die for Me by Amy Plum
Released 5th May
Published by Atom
Website:
http://www.amyplumbooks.com

Another stunning cover from those clever Atom peeps and I’ve been hearing all sorts of good things about this book. Thankfully there isn’t long to wait now!

My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything. Suddenly, my sister, Georgia and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent. Mysterious, sexy and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen. Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies…immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.

The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell
Released 12th May

Published by Century


The second of my ‘Top five most anticipated chick lit books of 2011‘ to be published. I’m such a big fan of Lisa Jewell and I love the new covers for her books.

In a hospice in Bury St Edmunds, a man called Daniel is slowly fading away. His friend Maggie sits with him every day; she holds his hand and she listens to the story of his life, to his regrets and to his secrets. And then he tells her about the children he has never met and never will. He talks of them wistfully. His legacy, he calls them.

Lydia, Dean and Robyn don’t know each other. Yet. And they are all facing difficult changes. Lydia is still wearing the scars from her traumatic childhood and although she is wealthy and successful, her life is lonely and disjointed. Dean is a young man, burdened with unexpected responsibility, whose life is going nowhere. And Robyn wants to be a doctor, just like her father – a man she’s never met. But is her whole life built on an illusion?

Three people leading three very different lives. All lost. All looking for something. But when they slowly find their way into each other’s lives, everything starts to change …

Ellie Andrews Had Second Thoughts by Ruth Saberton
Released 12th May

Published by Orion
Website
: http://www.ruthsaberton.co.uk/

Ruth’s debut novel, Katie Carter Wants a Hero was a big hit last year and I’ve been looking forward to her next release ever since.

Ellie Andrews is finally getting married. Or she will be if she drinks enough champagne to pluck up the courage for her trip down the aisle. The problem is that after months spent bickering over menus and table placements, Ellie’s never felt more distant from the man she’s supposed to be spending the rest of her life with. As last minute nerves take hold, a night of soul-searching sees Ellie reflecting back on old flames in a bid to reassure herself she’s making the right decision. There’s Rupert – adoring but dull; Jay – the teenage crush; Marcus – sexy but toxic; and Xander – a true friend. But as the sun rises and the ceremony looms ever closer, Ellie is still unsure if she’s doing the right thing. Then an unexpected encounter turns her world upside down. Should she take a chance? Or should she stick with the choices she’s made? As Ellie makes her way to the church, only one question remains: who will be waiting for her at the altar?

Summer Loving by Allie Spencer
Released 26th May

Published by Arrow

This sounds like such a fun read and I can’t wait to get my hands on it to reminisce about girly Greek holidays!

Sun, sea and Retsina… what could possibly go wrong?

There comes a point in a girl’s life when she just needs to hang out with her girlfriends – preferably in Greece – so they can laugh, reminisce and perhaps indulge in a holiday romance or two. Beth has reached that point, and being a woman who likes to organise things, she arranges the holiday of her dreams for her and her three best friends.

However, the bars, clubs and wild nights of their imaginings are a far cry from the slow, quiet pace of life on Liminaki. But if they thought that meant they were in for a peaceful time, they soon discover their mistake.

For a start, Ginny drives everyone mad talking about her bleeping wedding. Anna falls hook, line and sinker for the waiter. Beth succumbs to the charms of a handsome sailor. And something is definitely Up with Kirsten. And then Beth’s boyfriend turns up at a Very Bad Moment… surely things can’t get any more complicated?

The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly
Released 26th May

Published by
Michael Joseph

Little Women was one of the first classics I read and probably started my love of chick lit! I love the idea of Josephine March’s letters and this sounds like a lovely read.

When Josephine March’s great-great-granddaughter stumbles across her letters, the Little Women shed a glorious light on a new generation of sisters.

The Atwaters are a loving, sprawling mess of a family and Fee’s three daughters, Emma, Lulu and Sophie couldn’t be less alike if they tried. Emma is planning her wedding, Sophie is an up-and-coming actress, but Lulu – the cleverest of them all – is more than a little lost. If life is for living, why is she stuck in a series of dead-end jobs?

Grandma Jo’s letters had been gathering dust in the attic for decades, but when Lulu gets her hands on them, everything seems to change and different worlds begin to open up. And even though dark family secrets emerge, Jo’s words offer comfort and guidance across the centuries.

Sometimes family is all that matters. And sisters are the closest friends you can find.

The Ivy: Secrets by Rina Onur and Lauren Kunze
Released 31st May

Published by Greenwilliow Books
Website:
http://www.ivybookseries.com/

The first book in this series, The Ivy was in my top ten favourite books of last year and a brilliant read. The next installment sounds just as griping!

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation.

You’re a student at the most prestigious university in the country, and you’ve been tapped for the most elite social club. You’ve made it!

Now Don’t Blow It!

Callie Andrews triumphed during her first semester at Harvard: she made incomparable friends, found the perfect boyfriend, and received invitations to the most exclusive secret societies. But she may have ruined every-thing with one ill-fated night. Now she’s keeping secrets from everyone, including—

Clint – the upperclassman who’s too good to be true

Vanessa – the best friend turned backstabber

Gregory – the guy who’s a total(ly hot) mistake

and Lexi – the social queen who wants to bring Callie down.

But Callie didn’t get into Harvard by giving up, and she isn’t about to now. Besides, she’s not the only one with something to hide. . . .

Those are my favourites for May – what are you looking forward to reading next month?


Book review: Hollywood Sinners by Victoria Fox

15 Apr

POWER Marriage to Hollywood heartthrob Cole Steel secured Lana Falcon a glittering place on the red carpet. But running from a wicked past she has trapped herself in a gilded cage the price of freedom…her soul?

REVENGE Kate diLaurentis’s career is fading as quickly as her looks… What could be worse than discovering her husband’s latest mistress is Hollywood s hottest starlet? Her only option the most shocking revenge.

LUST Chloe French s innocent beauty has captured a million hearts, but no one s warned her of the dangerous, dark temptation of rock star Nate – will lust destroy her?

GREED Las Vegas King, Robert St Louis s fairytale wedding to Sin City s richest heiress is tabloid gold… But scandal circles like a vulture – dirty secrets are about to be exposed!

BETRAYAL From the deepest desires come the deadliest deeds…and these four couples are about to pay for their sins…

Hollywood Sinners is Victoria Fox’s debut novel and what a debut! Right from the first page, as a mystery woman prepares for a movie premiere, I was drawn into the world of fame and celebrity that Victoria creates and I literally didn’t want to put this book down until I’d finished it.

When I was offered Hollywood Sinners for review I wasn’t sure initially as usually I’m not a huge fan of the ‘bonkbuster’ genre but I was drawn to the gorgeous cover and the synopsis sounded interesting so I said yes. I’m so glad I did. Victoria’s writing is fresh and Hollywood Sinners taps into our obsession with celebrity, reading like an insider view of the film, music and entertainment industries. The main locations for the story are Hollywood and Las Vegas; perfect settings for this story of glamour and glitz but which also allow for the seedier underside of the story to be revealed in spectacular fashion.

The cast of characters is large enough to create a really gripping storyline but not so overwhelming as to be confusing and I loved the way that the threads of the individual stories overlapped, met and came together in the final explosive conclusion. There are some fantastic characters in this book including rock-star Nate Reid,the British front-man of The Hides and wannabe bad boy; Kate di Laurenti, Hollywood actress desperate to stay young and in the game and Frank Bernstein, Las Vegas hotelier and old school gangster. But despite the ‘larger than life’ depictions and eccentricities, there is more than a kernel of truth to the characters in Hollywood Sinners and I think their believability is what makes the story so gripping.

Although all of the characters have meaty story-lines, Lana Falcon is the main focus of the book and it was the mystery of her story that had me gripped. As half of America’s golden couple, Lana is a rising star in the acting world, married to Cole Steel, action man and Hollywood heartthrob. But appearances aren’t everything and their fairytale marriage isn’t what it seems. Both Lana and Cole are hiding secrets and Lana’s past is threatening to come back and destroy her perfect life. Flashbacks from Lana’s childhood and teenage years are woven into the story and give a brilliant air of mystery to the plot and set the scene for some dramatic twists as the story progresses.

As with any good ‘bonkbuster’ there are elements of Hollywood Sinners that came as a bit of a shock but they only added to the scandalous nature of the book and despite thinking ‘really?!’ a few times as I was reading, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read. At 600 pages, it certainly packs a punch with short snappy chapters that keep the story moving at a terrific pace with plenty of twists and turns in the plot to keep the reader guessing.

This is the book to be seen with as you lie on your sun lounger this summer – funny and fresh, Hollywood Sinners is a glamtastic debut and sure to be a huge hit!

5/5

Hollywood Sinners is released today and I’d like to thank Tory at Midas for sending me a copy to review.

Look out for my interview with Victoria Fox which I’ll be publishing next week!

You can find out more about Victoria and Hollywood Sinners and enter to win a copy of the book at: http://www.victoriafoxwrites.co.uk

Book review: Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal

14 Apr

It’s been ten years since the Wakefield twins graduated from Sweet Valley High, and a lot has happened.

For a start, Elizabeth and Jessica have had a falling out of epic proportions, after Jessica committed the ultimate betrayal, and this time it looks like Elizabeth will never be able to forgive her.

Suddenly Sweet Valley isn’t big enough for the two of them, so Elizabeth has fled to New York to immerse herself in her lifelong dream of becoming a serious reporter, leaving a guilt-stricken Jessica contemplating the unthinkable: life without her sister.

Despite the distance between them, the sisters are never far from each other’s thoughts. Jessica longs for forgiveness, but Elizabeth can’t forget her twin’s duplicity. Uncharacteristically, she decides the only way to heal her broken heart is to get revenge. Always the ‘good’ twin, the one getting her headstrong sister out of trouble, Elizabeth is now about to turn the tables…

This book is a pure nostalgia trip; from it’s bubblegum pink cover and red lettering (I was so pleased to see that the publishers had stuck to the original cover format) to it’s fabulously over the top soap-style storyline; I loved it!

I was a fan of Sweet Valley when I was a teenager, starting off with the Sweet Valley Twins books and graduating to Sweet Valley High as I grew up. Elizabeth and Jessica’s sun-drenched California high school escapades never failed to grip me and transport me to a world that felt a million miles away. And as followers of this blog will know, I’ve been excited to read this book ever since I heard it was coming out.

The story is split between two locations; Sweet Valley, where Jessica and many of the original cast of characters still reside and New York where Elizabeth is working as a journalist. The book opens with Elizabeth in New York and we discover that the twins have had a falling out of epic proportions with Elizabeth vowing never to speak to Jessica again. The Elizabeth of ten years later is a much tougher and angry character than in the original series which I was pleased to see and although on the surface Jessica seems much the same as ever, as the book progresses we see that she has grown up (a little) too.

The full details of the fall out and the events of the last ten years of Elizabeth and Jessica’s lives are revealed in flashback sections of each chapter. It took me a little while to get used to the jumping back and forward and the change from third person narrative for the main part of the story to first person point of view in the flashbacks but once I’d got past the first few chapters I enjoyed comparing past to present and filling in all the gaps from the original characters’ stories. It’s been a good while since I read any of the original series so I found the flashbacks to the twins’ high school and university days helpful in reminding me what had gone on before. Reading this book was like catching up on gossip about people you knew at school but don’t see any more but with added drama!

Most of the old gang are back with appearances from Todd, Bruce, Lila, Enid, the rest of the Wakefield family and many more and the changes to their lives have been dramatic. You’ll have to read the book to find out who is gay, who has battled alcoholism, which character has met an untimely death and who has married (and sometimes divorced) who.

There were a few little things that niggled such as Jessica’s constant overuse of the word ‘like’ but overall, Sweet Valley Confidential reminded me of everything I enjoyed about the series and I was so involved that I read it in a couple of sittings. When I visit my parents next week I’ll be digging out my old SVH books to indulge in the nostalgia a little longer :-)

4/5

Sweet Valley Confidential is released today and I’d like to thank Natalie at Random House for sending me a copy to review.

You can find out more about Sweet Valley Confidential at: http://www.sweetvalleytenyearslater.com/