Archive | August, 2011

Book news – Cover revealed for It Started With a Kiss by Miranda Dickinson

16 Aug

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Miranda Dickinson and her books so I was very excited to see her latest vlog in which she revealed the gorgeously sparkly cover for her next novel It Started With A Kiss. I’m so pleased the cover matches her other books and can’t wait to put them all together on my bookshelf!

It Started With a Kiss is one of my ‘Top five most anticipated chick lit books of 2011‘ and will be out on November 10th.

As the singer in a wedding band, Romily Parker has seen her fair share of happy endings, even though her own love life isn’t quite as simple.

On the last Saturday before Christmas, (shortly after disastrously declaring her love for best friend Charlie), Romily has a brief encounter with a handsome stranger whose heart-stopping kiss changes everything.

Determined to find him again, Romily embarks on a yearlong quest, helped (and sometimes hindered) by enthusiastic Uncle Dudley, cake-making Auntie Mags and flamboyant Wren. Will she find the man of her dreams? Or could true love be closer than she thinks?

Book review – A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

16 Aug

Miss Kate Daltry doesn’t believe in fairy tales …or happily ever after. Forced by her stepmother to attend a ball, Kate meets a prince, and decides he’s anything but charming. A clash of wits and wills ensues, but they both know their irresistible attraction will lead nowhere. For Gabriel is promised to another woman – a princess whose hand in marriage will fulfil his ruthless ambitions.

Gabriel likes his fiancee, which is a welcome turn of events, but he doesn’t love her, and knows, he should be wooing his bride-to-be, not the witty, impoverished beauty who refuses to fawn over him.

Godmothers and glass slippers notwithstanding, this is one fairy tale in which destiny conspires to destroy any chance that Kate and Gabriel might have a happily ever after – unless one kiss at the stroke of midnight changes everything.

A Kiss At Midnight is the first book in the Happily Ever After series of four novels set in the Regency period and based on well known fairytales. This book is loosely based on the story of Cinderella and set around 1813 although author Eloisa James points out in her Historical Note at the back of the book that this novel is more fairytale than historical fiction so certain licenses with language and period detail have been taken. The essential elements are there though including a handsome prince, an eccentric godmother and a pair of glass slippers!

Kate is the herione of the story and true to the Cinderella tale, her father has passed away and her Stepmother has taken her inheritance forcing Kate to live in meagre circumstances whilst lavishing attention and treats on her own daughter, Victoria. In a key difference from the traditional fairy tale, the lone stepsister Victoria is beautiful and actually a nice character; naive but certainly not the wicked stepsister I was expecting. Kate is also a lot more feisty than the original fairytale heroine with a strong sense of justice for those living on her Father’s land. She is certainly not afraid to speak her mind and her witty retorts and observations provide a lot of the humour in the book.

In a somewhat strange turn of events, Kate is forced by her stepmother to attend an event at Pomeroy Castle posing as her stepsister Victoria. I really liked this twist to the traditional ‘Cinderella’ story and Kate’s attempts to take her sister’s place added a lot of fun to the plot. On arrival at the Castle, Kate meets a whole host of fabulous larger than life characters including handsome Prince Gabriel.  Kate’s banter with Gabriel is very entertaining, building up a good tension between them and although I could easily see where the story was heading, it was fun reading how events played out. I also loved the character of Henry who turns out to be Kate’s Godmother and certainly spices up proceedings with her ‘tell it like it is’ attitude to life and love.

A Kiss at Midnight is above all a romance novel and there are passionate scenes aplenty as the story progresses (some of which will certainly have readers reaching for their fans!). Like all good fairytales there is a moral to the story which emphasises true love over all and I found it an enjoyable, lighthearted and quick read. This is the first Eloisa James novel that I’ve read and I will certainly try some of her others now. I really like the simplicity of the covers for this set of books and already have the second book in the series, When Beauty Tamed the Beast which is released on 1st September, on my wish list.


A Kiss at Midnight is out now and I’d like to thank Madeleine at Piatkus for sending me a review copy.

You can find out more about Eloisa James and her novels at:

Book news: One Minute to Midnight by Amy Silver

12 Aug

I really enjoyed Amy Silver’s last book All I Want for Christmas and have been eagerly awaiting details of her next novel. It seems publishers really are pulling out all the stops with the gorgeous covers for their winter releases and One Minute to Midnight is no exception. The cover below popped up on Amazon today and I’ve also managed to find a synopsis. This is a winter must read for me and I can’t wait until it’s released on 24th November.

For many years, beginning when she was thirteen, Nicole Blake spent every new year with her three friends: Julian, her first love, Alex, her best friend, and Aidan, her obsession. Together the four had partied hard, supported each other, and fallen in love. But then tragedy and betrayal tore the friends apart, and Nicole settled down to married life with Dom in London.

But in the week running up to New Year’s Eve 2011, Nicole and Dom are preparing for a trip to New York to meet up with Aidan and Alex for the first time in years. But with so much left unsaid and unresolved between them all, can they really return to their old friendship? And if they do, Nicole isn’t sure she’ll ever want to come home again.

Author interview – Keris Stainton

11 Aug

Today I’m very excited to be interviewing Keris Stainton. Keris started out as a blogger and has fully embraced Twitter with a brilliant online presence. Earlier this year she set up Authors for Japan in response to the devastation caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami raising over £12,000 in the process. On top of that she’s Mum to two gorgeous boys and author of two fab young adult novels; Della Says OMG which came out last year and her latest release Jessie Hearts NYC.

Amanda: Jessie is your second young adult novel; why did you decide to write for this audience?

Keris:I started reading YA when I worked in the children’s department at Waterstone’s about ten years ago and I absolutely loved it. So then I started thinking about the books I loved when I was a teen and wondered if I could write something similar. It took me a while to get around to it, but as soon as I did, it just clicked. Now I can’t imagine writing anything else.

Amanda: How does it feel to have your second book published and if your sixteen year old self was reading it what do you think she’d say?

Keris: It feels amazing. I still can’t quite believe it. I’m not sure whether my 16-year-old self would be surprised and proud or if she’d think it was perfectly reasonable that I’m a published author – she used to flip wildly between terrible insecurity and over-confidence! I do know that Jessie Hearts NYC would make her yearn horribly for New York. Although it did the same to me when I was writing it and I’m a lot older than 16…

Amanda: You started out as a blogger; what is your top tip for blogging success?

Keris: My top tip would be to be yourself. A boring tip, I’m afraid, but I think it’s the most important one.

Amanda: You’re a big fan of Twitter; describe Jessie Hearts NYC in 140 characters.

Keris: A love letter to New York, first love and fate. And food. There’s lots of food. :)

Amanda: As I was reading Jessie, I could tell that you love New York. Jessie and Emma have some fab days out during their stay; what would your ideal day in NYC involve?

Keris: Oh wow. My ideal day. Um, it would start with breakfast in a diner – maybe the Tick Tock Diner on 8th Avenue, which I’ve been meaning to go to for years, but still haven’t managed. I’d eat enough to keep me going until mid-afternoon (in theory) and then I’d get on a bus tour. I’ve been to New York five times and so shouldn’t really keep doing the touristy things, but I love ‘em. The bus tours are great and such an easy and entertaining way to get around. I’d get off in Greenwich Village and have a wander and then I might have a mooch around Central Park before popping to Serendipity III for a frozen hot chocolate mid-afternoon. I’d have to go to Top of the Rock again because it’s just so glamorous and gorgeous and then if there was one showing I’d see a film in Bryant Park and eat a picnic tea from WichCraft. Would a martini and oysters at Grand Central Station be too much late at night? (Would they even still be serving?) It’s my perfect day, so let’s pretend they are. And then a cab back to Hotel on Rivington, which I’ve been gazing at online for a few years now. I’d like this room please.

Amanda: Which three songs should be on the soundtrack to Jessie?

Keris: If It Kills Me by Jason Mraz, which inspired the character of Finn. Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys, which inspired me to write when I couldn’t get going. New York by They Might Be Giants, which is just perfect for Jessie and Finn’s story: “But the best thing about New York City is you and me.”

Amanda: Jessie and Finn’s story is so romantic; who are your favourite literary romantic hero and heroine and why?

Keris: Oh I’m going to be boring again and go with Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Just perfectly swoonworthy.

Della Says OMG cover imageAmanda: I agree! Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing?

Keris: My favourite YA author is Meg Cabot. I’m not sure how she’s influenced my writing but I love her enthusiasm, support of other writers, and outrageous range of ideas. My favourite adult author is Armistead Maupin. His Tales of the City series got me through a very difficult time in my life.

Amanda: And finally … what can we expect next from Keris Stainton?

Keris: I’m afraid I can’t say yet … but almost certainly romantic locations and hot boys will be involved.

Can’t wait! Thanks Keris and good luck with your next projects!

You can follow Keris on Twitter @Keris and find out more about Keris and her books at:

Book review – Sometimes it Happens by Pauline Barclay

10 Aug

Winning the lottery was just the beginning for Doreen Wilkinson, nothing prepared Doreen for her holiday at Villas Bonitas and nothing prepared Villas Bonitas for Doreen Wilkinson.

Sometimes It Happens … is about secrets, deception, lies, love and laughter. Tears will flow because this is one holiday that will never ever be forgotten by many!

For her third self-published novel, Sometimes it Happens, Pauline Barclay has created a set of characters that sparkle just as brightly as the wonderful beach-side paradise that is the setting for this bubbly summer story.  The book opens as Doreen Wilkinson settles into the millionaires resort of Villas Bonitas for her first ever holiday abroad and the plot plays out in soap opera style moving between the villas and the characters that work and play there to build up a lively story with some fun twists.

Doreen is a loveable character from the start. A true ‘East Ender’ from London who recently became a  multi-millionaire after winning the Lottery. This is Doreen’s first holiday abroad and I really enjoyed reading about her down to earth reactions to her new glamorous lifestyle. Doreen’s interactions with the people she meets at Villas Bonitas made me smile as she encounters a certain amount of snobbery from some of the villa owners and a warm welcome from others but retains the upper hand in her own unique way. As a character Doreen is well written though I thought she ‘giggled’ a bit too much at times and the use of her strong dialect in direct speech sometimes stemmed the flow of the story for me but overall Pauline makes clear point; that money can’t buy you manners or integrity and that whatever walk of life you are from, you should treat others with respect.

The supporting characters are well written and have developed back stories that make them interesting. I liked the way that the book focuses on those who work at the Villas as well as the villa owners themselves which gives a really balanced view of the characters and their lives. My favourite characters included lawyers Simon and Chicky who make a lovely couple and bring much humour to the story; Frau Hecks, a German widow fighting her loneliness and the long suffering Bob, the Villa’s caretaker who made me smile with his wry take on the occupants of the different villas. By the end of the book, I felt like I really knew the characters and had grown quite attached to many of them. I’d love to read more about the occupants of Villas Bonitas and there is certainly potential for Pauline to focus in on one of the other characters or to set a sequel at the Villas if she ever felt like it!

There are a number of good twists that will keep readers entertained not to mention wondering what will happen next as the plot moves on; is it just coincidence that Doreen’s childhood sweetheart makes a sudden reappearance? What is Simon hiding from partner Chicky and will Jack Hoskins continue to have his cake and eat it?! There are also a number of love stories woven into the plot, my favourite being the summer romance between Doreen’s seventeen year old daughter Trisha and Bob’s grandson, Ben which I thought was very sweet.

This is Pauline Barclay’s third novel and although I haven’t read her previous books, Sometimes it Happens seems to be a bit of a departure from her earlier novels. I think Pauline has really found her niche with Sometimes it Happens which is an ideal beach read combining romance, mystery and humour with fun characters and a gorgeous location to make me as a reader feel like I’d had a little holiday!


Sometimes it Happens it out now and I’d like to thank Pauline for sending me a copy to review.

You can find out more about Pauline and her books at:

Book news: Home for Christmas by Cally Taylor

10 Aug

After finding lots of fellow Christmas fans when I posted about Trisha Ashley’s next book recently, I had to post about this cover which Cally Taylor posted on her blog today – isn’t it lovely?!

Home for Christmas is released on November 10th and sounds like a great Christmas read.

Beth Prince has always loved fairytales and now, aged twenty-four, she feels like she’s finally on the verge of her own happily ever after. She lives by the seaside, works in the Picturebox – a charming but rundown independent cinema – and has a boyfriend who’s so debonair and charming she can’t believe her luck! There’s just one problem – none of her boyfriends have ever told her they love her and it doesn’t look like Aiden’s going to say it any time soon. Desperate to hear ‘I love you’ for the first time Beth takes matters into her own hands – and instantly wishes she hadn’t. Just when it seems like her luck can’t get any worse, bad news arrives in the devilishly handsome shape of Matt Jones. Matt is the regional director of a multiplex cinema and he’s determined to get his hands on the Picturebox by Christmas. Can Beth keep her job, her man and her home or is her romantic-comedy life about to turn into a disaster movie?

Book review – Bad Sisters by Rebecca Chance

5 Aug

Three ambitious, rivalrous sisters. And a deadly secret, which one of them is determined to keep buried at any cost . . .

Deeley is the fake girlfriend of a Hollywood TV hunk, who is secretly gay. But Deeley’s five-year contract is up, and his cut-throat publicist wants Deeley out. So, dejected and penniless, Deeley wends her way home to London, hoping to re-establish links with her two estranged elder sisters…

Devon is married to the nation’s-favourite-rugby-hunk Matt, and has her own highly successful TV career, as the sexy hostess of her own cookery show. But behind her buxom faÇade, Devon is lonely and frustrated, and when a live celebrity cook-off shows her up as a fraud, she leaves sweet Matt and runs off to Tuscany, to learn a few lessons – not just in cookery – from an Italian master.

Lastly, there’s Maxie: a politician’s wife, Maxie is fiercely ambitious. She’s furious when Deeley, hard on her luck, sells the sisters’ childhood story to a tabloid newspaper, revealing their impoverished roots and unsavoury parentage. The story undermines Maxie’s carefully cultivated image, and the fallout threatens to be devastating. But Maxie is only too aware that there is much more Deeley could yet reveal. What murderous secret lies in the sisters’ past? And just how far will Maxie go to keep it buried?

If you like your reading packed with glitz, glamour, rivalry and intrigue then Bad Sisters is the book to get this summer! The story starts with a bang as the prologue takes readers back to 1993 where sisters Maxie, Devon and Deeley McKenna form a tight knit trio as they struggle to deal with life. With a drug addicted mother in prison ,they are homeless and penniless, thankful to be taken in by their Mum’s boyfriend Bill. But all isn’t what it seems and the events of one particular night changes the sister’s lives forever, forcing them to keep a deep dark secret.

Fast forward eighteen years and the three Mckenna sisters have certainly come up in the world. With chapters covering each sister in turn, readers are given a detailed insight into the privileged lives that Deeley, Devon and Maxie now lead. Deeley is living a pampered life in LA as ‘fake’ girlfriend to her gay tv star friend; Devon is a Nigella-style TV star in her own right with a cookery show and Maxie, the super ambitious sister is married to an MP having graduated Oxford and completely buried any traces of her poor start in life. I really enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the very different worlds that the three sisters live in; reading this book felt like an insider view into the celebrity and political worlds and a very believable one at that – even the more shocking elements!

Rebecca Chance has created characters that you will love or hate or even love to hate; all three sisters provoked a strong reaction in me as a reader and I thought their personalities gave a real spark to the story. Maxie is the brains and ambition, Devon the glamour and beauty and Deeley the most down to earth of the three. I took to Deeley straight away, initially feeling sorry for the nine year old Deeley as she struggled with the events of 1993 and feeling sympathy for her as she loses her ‘job’ and is forced to return to London hoping that her sisters will give her a warm welcome. Deeley is the youngest and most innocent sister; she doesn’t always get it right but her heart is in the right place and as the book progressed I found myself willing everything to turn out alright for her. I also liked Devon, although I found her obsession with being a size twelve slightly annoying at times and I thought she treated her husband terribly but as the story unfolded, I found myself warming to her. I couldn’t warm to Maxie at all but found her actions and ambition gripping and I love that she kept me wondering what she would do next.

The plot is well put together and detailed with the three sisters’ very different lives giving plenty of variety and interest taking in some amazing locations including Tuscany, LA and Jersey. As the sisters carry on with their lives in the present, with sub plots covering their careers and relationships,  further details of the past emerge slowly keeping the reader guessing as to what will happen next.  In true bonkbuster style, the story is punctuated with some seriously sexy scenes with hot male love interests including an Italian prince and an England rugby hero.

Bad Sisters had me turning the pages as quickly as I could to find out what lengths the McKenna sisters would go to to realise their ambitions and hide their dark secret. As the past finally catches up with the present, the book concludes with a clever twist that I did not see coming. I love it when an author keeps me guessing or surprises me and Rebecca Chance certainly did that with this book – a great summer read.


Bad Sisters is out now and I’d like to thank Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy to review.

You can find out more about Rebecca Chance and her novels at:

July round up

2 Aug

July was a busy month in terms of reading and the huge number of fab releases that came out. I managed to pack in nine books which is my monthly record for this year! My ‘to read’ pile is still huge but I’m steadily and happily working my way through it!

The nine books I read were:

July book of the month

The Raising by Lauren Kasischke

Working it Out by Nicola May

All For You by Sheila O’Flanagan

From London With Love by Jemma Forte

Maidens’ Trip by Emma Smith

Baby Be Mine by Paige Toon

Incubus by Carol Goodman

Lessons in Laughing Out Loud by Rowan Coleman

Sometimes it Happens by Pauline Barclay

All but one of these were paperbacks with just one Kindle book … I need to spend more time with my Kindle! Six of these were new releases for July. I’ve found it really difficult to choose a book of the month for July; I rated four of the books I read with my top 5/5 rating and I’ve been in a total dilemma trying to pick a favourite but I’ve finally chosen From London with Love because I think it’s such a lovely summer read and it made me laugh out loud!

As well as reading lots I was lucky to be invited by the lovely Headline team to interview Sheila O’Flanagan on Twitter which was great fun and I also interviewed Nicola May on the blog.

July's most popular review!

The top three most popular reviews on the site for July were:

Baby Be Mine by Paige Toon
About Last Night by Adele Parks
To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell

‘Paige Toon’ was top search closely followed by Adele Parks. This month I thought I’d take a look at the more unusual search terms that brought people to the site. My favourites are: “book black page edges”, “female antique appraiser discovers secret”, “book about a girl who loses her job and moves to Brighton” and “prom queen dies in car crash” – extra kudos to readers who correctly identify the books from those :-D

August is going to be an interesting month for me as my baby is due at the end of the month so I might have to take a little blogging break at any time … or I could still be waiting to meet the little man in September! I’ll keep you posted but look out for reviews of Bad Girls by Rebecca Chance, A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James and What You Don’t Know by Lizzie Enfield. I’ll also be interviewing the lovely Keris Stainton very soon!

Happy Reading!

Book review – Lessons in Laughing Out Loud by Rowan Coleman

1 Aug

Willow and Holly are identical twins. They are everything to each other. Holly calls Willow her rock, her soul mate, her other half. And Willow feels the same about Holly. They are alike in every respect except one – Willow is afraid on the inside. And all because of a secret – one that binds the sisters closely together and yet has meant their adult lives have taken two very different paths.

Willow often feels there are large parts of her missing, qualities she only knows she’s lacking because she sees them in her sister. For a very long time Willow has felt separated from Holly by one terrible moment in time – a moment that meant Willow’s life was never the same again. And when the past catches up with her, Willow realises it’s finally time for her to face her fears, and – with Holly’s help – learn to laugh out loud once more…

As mentioned in a ‘book news’ post a while ago, this book caught my eye because of its fab title and cover. I hadn’t read any of Rowan’s previous novels (this is her ninth adult book and she has also written a childrens series and a paranormal series!) and I honestly cannot believe it’s taken me so long to discover this excellent author. Lessons in Laughing Out Loud is a great  piece of contemporary fiction combining elements of the lighthearted with wryly observed humour and just a touch of magic whilst at the same time tackling issues that are both dark and distressing to create a novel that will make the reader think.

Thirty-nine year old Willow is a likeable lead and the story focuses on how she faces her fears and confronts her past to move forward with her life. Willow is a complex character and I loved the way that Rowan Coleman revealed her layers throughout the book as she reacted to the events that she was faced with. There is a lot in Willow for readers to identify with; on the surface she is the less ‘together’ twin, divorced and possibly in love with her best friend, struggling with body image issues and has a very demanding job to hold down. As we get to know her, we find out that there are events in her past that are holding her back and preventing her from forming the close relationships that she desires.

As the plot progresses, Willow is forced to confront the people and issues that have held her back including her relationship with her ex-husband Sam and his daughter Chloe, her relationship with her own mother and with her best friend Daniel. Through Willow, her friends and family, Rowan Coleman takes the reader through the full spectrum of emotions and I’ll willingly admit to shedding a tear or two as the story progressed. It is only towards the very end of the novel that the true source of Willow’s fear is revealed and I truly admired Willow’s bravery in facing her fears and moving on and found this a very inspiring and believable novel.

I don’t want to give away the plot as the element of mystery to Willow’s past is key to reading this novel and kept me eagerly turning the pages but I loved that motherhood is a major theme together with forgiveness and love. Despite the seriousness of the issues that Lessons in Laughing Out Loud covers, there is a lot of humour in the story too with Coleman showing a wry wit. Willow’s slightly mad boss Victoria really made me smile. Willow is tasked with babysitting film star in crisis India Torrence which makes for some amusing scenes particularly when she encounters teenage Chloe. There is also more than a touch of magic to the story as willow stumbles upon a mysterious shop one day and purchases three items that have a profound affect on her as the story progresses including a fantastic pair of shoes! With several threads, the plot meshes together well and the lighter elements and humor keep the story positive despite addressing some truly heartbreaking issues.

The romantic element to the plot almost seems secondary to the overall story but is actually intrinsically linked to Willow and her future and I thought the outcome was just right for Willow and the men in her life. Lessons in Laughing Out Loud is perfect for readers looking for a thoughtful and thought provoking read that isn’t afraid to address serious issues. With well drawn characters and an element of mystery, I’d recommend this to fans of Lisa Jewell and Marian Keyes.


I’d like to thank Rowan and her publisher for sending me a copy of Lessons in Laughing Out Loud to review.

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