Archive | January, 2013

Book news: Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

31 Jan

I am a massive Gilmore Girls fan and am very excited that Lauren Graham’s debut novel is out this year. The cover was revealed earlier this week and I love it! It sounds like a fab read and will be released on April 30th. I think  this is the US release but I haven’t been able to find any info on UK release – if anyone knows, do let me know and I’ll update this post!

It’s January 1995, and Franny Banks has just six months left of the three-year deadline she set for herself when she came to New York, dreaming of Broadway and doing “important” work. But all she has to show for her efforts so far is a part in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters, and a gig waiting tables at a comedy club. Her roommates―her best friend Jane, and Dan, an aspiring sci-fi writer―are supportive, yet Franny knows a two-person fan club doesn’t exactly count as success. Everyone tells her she needs a backup plan, and though she can almost picture moving back home and settling down with her perfectly nice ex-boyfriend, she’s not ready to give up on her goal of having a career like her idols Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep. Not just yet. But while she dreams of filling their shoes, in the meantime, she’d happily settle for a speaking part in almost anything—and finding a hair product combination that works.

Everything is riding on the upcoming showcase for her acting class, where she’ll finally have a chance to perform for people who could actually hire her. And she can’t let herself be distracted by James Franklin, a notorious flirt and the most successful actor in her class, even though he’s suddenly started paying attention. Meanwhile, her bank account is rapidly dwindling, her father wants her to come home, and her agent doesn’t return her calls. But for some reason, she keeps believing that she just might get what she came for.

Someday, Someday, Maybe is a story about hopes and dreams, being young in a city, and wanting something deeply, madly, desperately. It’s about finding love, finding yourself, and perhaps most difficult of all in New York City, finding an acting job.

Author news: Miranda Dickinson launches 'Future Stars' mentoring programme

29 Jan

It’s always nice when authors give something back and the multi-talented and Sunday Times Bestselling author Miranda Dickinson has decided to do that big style this year with the launch of her ‘Future Stars’ mentoring programme.

Miranda is promising “a twelve-month course of inspiration, advice, opportunity and fun” with the programme which will take place over the duration of one-year. The chosen writers will have Miranda on hand as their personal cheerleader, mentor, challenger and inspiration coach. She will work with each writer on their personal writing goals, offer help and advice with their work in progress, help with editing, advice on promotion and social media, and will introduce them to people within the publishing industry to experience first-hand what agents and publishers are looking for.

Each writer will receive a 30min phone call from Miranda each month and there will be an exclusive networking group for all five writers and Miranda to chat to and support one another throughout the year. There will also be opportunities to meet up! So if you’re an aspiring author check out the details below for the chance to become one of just five people who will benefit from Miranda’s new venture!

Miranda is looking for writers who are committed to investing a year in their writing. Not only will talent count but also a demonstrable desire to make this year the year when things happen. Because of this, four of the chosen writers will be asked to pay a course fee of £80 (because this is an investment in their future career) – and Miranda will choose one writer to receive a scholarship place for free.

Miranda says, ‘I’m asking all entrants to submit a chapter of their work, plus complete a personal statement on the application form outlining their goals for their writing. It all sounds very serious, but this way people who are really determined to be writers will stand out. I can’t promise you a publishing
deal – I wish I could – but I can promise you will learn about yourself as a writer, hone your craft and put yourself in the best possible place to pursue your dream.’

Applications are open now. Entrance to the competition is via a completed application form available at: http://www.miranda-dickinson.com together with one chapter of work sent by email to: mirandawurdy@gmail.com. Applications will close at midnight on Thursday 14th February 2013 and
the five chosen writers will be announced on Saturday 16th February.

This sounds like an amazing opportunity! Good luck to all who enter!

Find out more about Miranda, her books, Future Stars and other projects at: http://miranda-dickinson.com/

Book review: Gates of Paradise (Blue Bloods 7) by Melissa de la Cruz

28 Jan

Schuyler Van Alen is running out of time. The Dark Prince of Hell is storming the Gates of Paradise, intent on winning the heavenly throne for good. This time he has his greatest angels by his side, Abbadon and Azrael, or as they are known in this world, Jack and Mimi Force.

Will Bliss and the wolves she has recruited to join her win the battle for the vampires? Is Schuyler prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Love and vengeance, duty and and loyalty, life and death, are all at odds in the gripping, heartbreaking finale of the Blue Bloods series.

Gates of Paradise is the final novel in Melissa de la Cruz’s original Blue Bloods series. There have been so many twists and turns, crosses and double crosses in the series so far that I’ve been dying to get my hands on this book to finally find out what would happen in the end.

Gates of Paradise felt like a finale right from the start. It’s told in the usual Blue Bloods style with chapters narrated and focussing on different key characters (in this case, Schuyler, Mimi, Bliss and Tomasia in the main). I loved that Melissa de la Cruz had the girls in the lead and generally responsible for saving the world!

Cruz does a brilliant job of recapping key details and bringing the threads of the whole Blue Bloods story so far, together including the events of spin-off novels Wolf Pact and The Witches of the East. I enjoyed reminiscing with the characters as they remembered the events of previous books and by the final pages I felt that everything had been tied up quite neatly.

As with all of the Blue Bloods novels, the story has great pace and maintains the mystery right to the end. There are some excellent twists and surprises in Gates of Paradise as Schuyler finds out the truth about her family at last and Bliss fulfils the destiny that’s been hinted at for a long time. I’m not one for big battle scenes so I’m glad the scenes at the end were short and snappy and moved quickly on to what happened next to the key characters.

With a massive final twist that I would never have predicted, I was pleased to see my own favourite character getting the ending they deserved! Melissa has now said that this is the final novel in the first cycle of the Blue Bloods series which suggests we’ll see more from the Blue Bloods in future – yay!

This is the first time in a long while that I’ve actually read and finished a whole series so I couldn’t resist ending my review with a little picture of the whole series lined up together. I’m so pleased that Atom kept the covers in the same style throughout – don’t they look pretty together?!

4/5

Find out more about Melissa de la Cruz and her novels at: http://www. melissa-delacruz.com

 

Book news: Romantic Novel Awards (RoNA) Shortlists 2013

27 Jan

Earlier this week the Romantic Novelists’ Association announced the short-lists for the Romantic Novel Awards (RoNA’s) 2013.

The winners of each category will be announced on 26th February and will then go forward to vie for the coveted title of Romantic Novel of the Year, which will be announced on 16th May.

The full short-list is below and I’ve linked to my reviews of the short-listed books that I’ve read.  I’m so excited to see many of my favourite authors and books of the last year in the short-list and wish all nominees the very best of luck!

The Contemporary Romantic Novel category

Katie Fforde, Recipe for Love, Arrow
Veronica Henry, The Long Weekend, Orion
Mhairi McFarlane, You Had Me At Hello, Avon
Monica McInerny, The House of Memories, Pan Macmillan
Sue Moorcroft, Dream a Little Dream, Choc Lit
Polly Williams, The Angel at No. 33, Headline

The Epic Romantic Novel category

Rowan Coleman, Dearest Rose, Arrow
Dilly Court, The Lady’s Maid, Arrow
Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles, Bloomsbury
Kate Morton, The Secret Keeper, Pan Macmillan
Gill Paul, Women and Children First, Avon
Liz Trenow, The Last Telegram, Avon

The Historical Romantic Novel category

Charlotte Betts, The Apothecary’s Daughter, Piatkus (Little Brown)
Christina Courtenay, The Silent Touch of Shadows, Choc Lit
Kate Furnivall, The White Pearl, Sphere (Little Brown)
Pamela Hartshorne , Time’s Echo, Pan Macmillan
Susanna Kearsley, The Rose Garden, Allison & Busby
Mary Nichols, The Kirilov Star, Allison & Busby

The Romantic Comedy Novel category

Jenny Colgan, Welcome to Rosie Hopkin’s Sweetshop of Dreams, Sphere (Little Brown)
Victoria Connelly, The Runaway Actress, Avon
Jane Costello, All the Single Ladies, Simon & Schuster UK
Nicola Doherty, The Out of Office Girl, Headline
Belinda Jones, Winter Wonderland, Hodder & Stoughton
Jane Wenham-Jones, Prime Time, Accent Press Ltd.

The Young Adult Romantic Novel category

Jo Cotterill, Sweet Hearts: Model Behaviour, Red Fox (RHCP)
Laura Jarratt, Skin Deep, Electric Monkey/Egmont
Marie-Louise Jensen, The Girl in the Mask, OUP
Victoria Lamb, Witchstruck, Corgi (RHCP)
Sarra Manning, Adorkable, Atom (Little Brown)
Susan Waggoner, Neptune’s Tears, Piccadilly Press

Book review: Cupcakes at Carrington's by Alexandra Brown

26 Jan

Georgie Hart loves her job–running the luxury handbag concession at Carrington’s Department store in the pretty seaside town of Mulberry-On-Sea , and treating herself (once too often!) to a red velvet cupcake with buttercream icing in Carrington’s café.

But Georgie is thrown into disarray when Carrington’s is plunged into a recession-busting makeover, cueing the arrival of femme fatale Maxine, who wields the axe in her immaculately-manicured hands.

It spells a recipe for disaster for Georgie and soon she is fighting not only for her job, but also for the attentions of her gorgeous boss, James. And when hot newcomer Tom arrives, who may or may not be the best thing since sliced bread, Georgie must decide where her loyalties really lie…

Cupcakes at Carrington’s is Alexandra Brown’s debut novel and the first in a new series of books based around the Carrington’s department store in the fictional British seaside town of Mulberry- On-Sea. There were so many things that drew me to this book; the seaside setting, the insider view of a high end department store, the gorgeous cover and the promise of a wonderfully girly read full of cupcakes and handbags, that I was a bit concerned before I started reading that the book could never meet my high expectations!

I’m pleased to say that Alex did a fantastic job of not only meeting my expectations but exceeding them by creating a varied and interesting cast of characters headed up by a loveable, funny and believable lead in Georgie Hart and keeping me hooked with a series of dramatic and surprising twists.

After a gentle start which introduces the store, Georgie and her colleagues at Carrington’s the scene is set for dramatic change as the uber-corporate Maxine is brought in to do a review and a mysterious (and very handsome) new male colleague, Tom is introduced at short notice.

There are many threads to the story which delves into the lives and loves of the staff at Carrington’s as well as telling the story of Carrington’s fight for its future. With a full cast of  likeable characters to get behind and plenty of plot possibilities, I couldn’t guess what the outcome would be for Carrington’s or Georgie, making this a quick and absorbing read that was never dull!

From the early chapters I was engrossed in Georgie’s world and the future of the beautiful Carrington’s which is as much a character in the novel as any of the main cast. Alexandra introduces plenty of humour and pace with a good variety of customers and staff which include Georgies’s best friend Sam (owner of the mouthwatering Cupcakes at Carrington’s) , PA Eddie who loves to gossip but has a secret of his own and Georgie’s boss James who may or may not just want to be friends!

Georgie was my favourite character and I think she has potential to be up there with Becky Bloomwood and Angela Clarke as favourite chick lit heroines as the series continues. I liked that Georgie has a serious past and a sad side to her story and that her mistakes felt very believable. The novel strikes an excellent balance between scenes that will make you laugh and those that will have you reaching for a tissue.

The romance element is also nicely done – I particularly loved the crazy golf scene and Alexandra Brown kept me guessing right to the end of the book how Georgie’s love life would turn out. The story is set in the lead up to Valentine’s day which makes it a perfect purchase for those looking for a lovely escapist Valentine’s treat.

I’m so pleased that we’ll be hearing more from Georgie later this year – Christmas At Carrington’s will be out in November and is already on my Christmas wish list!

5/5

I’d like to thank Alex and her publisher for sending me a review copy of this novel.

Find out more about Alex and her writing at: http://www.alexandrabrown.co.uk/

Cupcakes at Carrington's Giveaway Winner

25 Jan

The winner is …

Rainie Bish

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

Book news: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

24 Jan

I love the title and cover of this book and I’m really intrigued that it’s been described as a Steampunk version of Harry Potter! I have’t read much Steampunk but I think Gail Carriger’s new Young Adult series set in a finishing school could get me hooked.

The novel is set in the Parosol Protectorate world that features in Gail’s adult series of the same name  – a series that I’m also determined to check out soon. Etiquette and Espionage is published by Atom on 5th February and you can read the first chapter at: http://www.atombooks.net/etiquette-espionage/

Find out more about Gail Carriger and her books at: http://gailcarriger.com

Book review: Dizzy by Arthur Wooten

21 Jan

Inspired by Arthur Wooten’s life, DIZZY is a unique read in that it’s a fictional memoir that marries two genres: an exciting backstage show business tale coupled with a frightening medical drama.

Angie Styles, a beloved Broadway star, is struck down at the height of her career by a mysterious disease and is forced to re-examine her life and the people in it as she fights to survive.

Having absolutely loved Arthur Wooten’s last novel Leftovers (it was one of my top ten books of 2012) I was very excited to see that Arthur had a new novel out. Arthur is a brilliantly varied author and a master at reinventing genres; Leftovers is an excellent ‘romantic dramedy’ and Dizzy is a ‘fictional memoir'; it is based upon events in Arthur’s life and the medical condition that he suffers from but told from the point of view of the captivating Angie Styles, Broadway star.

I loved the character of Angie straight away as the book opens with her making a perfectly timed grand entrance at an awards ceremony. As she makes her way to the venue sharing jokes with her driver and Tweeting a picture of her Louboutins, I knew she was going to be a fun character to read about and her back story is certainly a rags to riches whirlwind tale.

The story is narrated in the first person by Angie and as we follow the dramatic events in the present we are also treated to her memories in flashback as she recounts her rise to fame. Both aspects of Angie’s story kept me gripped and the contrast between the vivacious, outgoing and full of life Angie and the Angie following the development of her vestibular disorder is stark and heartbreaking. Needless to say, I was fully behind her as a character and willing her to come through.

The medical aspects of the book clearly demonstrate that this is a topic close to Arthur’s heart and Dizzy is a very well-researched and informative read backed up with  glowing reference from the Vestibular Disorders Foundation (VEDA). But as well as capturing the facts about inner ear balance disorders, through Angie, Arthur makes the condition and its impact on sufferers very clear and real which makes this an emotional read.

In addition to Angie’s story, there are also sub-plots surrounding her relationship with her parents and their relationship with each other and Angie’s close friends and agent. As the onset of her illness forces Angie to re-evaluate everything in her life, all of her close relationships come under scrutiny adding plenty of drama to the story.

Dizzy is a fascinating ‘backstage’ look at the life of a Broadway star and a gripping drama and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Whatever the genre that Arthur writes in, his books are always thought-provoking, heart-warming and above all entertaining and Dizzy is no exception, made all the more poignant because it is actually based around the condition that Arthur sufferers from.

4/5

Dizzy is available in ebook and paperback formats.

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

You can find out more about Arthur and his writing at: http://www.arthurwooten.com

Giveaway! Win a copy of Cupcakes at Carrington's by Alexandra Brown

17 Jan

Alexandra Brown’s debut novel, the gorgeous Cupcakes at Carrington’s is released today and I have one shiny brand new copy to give away to a lucky reader. To enter just leave a comment in the box below telling me your favourite place to shop (mine is Bloomingdales!)

Georgie Hart loves her job–running the luxury handbag concession at Carrington’s Department store in the pretty seaside town of Mulberry-On-Sea , and treating herself (once too often!) to a red velvet cupcake with buttercream icing in Carrington’s café. 

But Georgie is thrown into disarray when Carrington’s is plunged into a recession-busting makeover, cueing the arrival of femme fatale Maxine, who wields the axe in her immaculately-manicured hands. 

It spells a recipe for disaster for Georgie and soon she is fighting not only for her job, but also for the attentions of her gorgeous boss, James. And when hot newcomer Tom arrives, who may or may not be the best thing since sliced bread, Georgie must decide where her loyalties really lie… 

I’ll draw a winner using random.org after the closing date. This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at noon on Thursday 24th January. The winner will be announced on Friday 25th January.

Good luck!

 

Book news: The Affair by Gill Paul

17 Jan

I loved Gill Paul’s Titanic based historical novel Women and Children First – it was one of my top ten books of 2012 so I’ve been eagerly awaiting more news of her next release and here it is! The Affair sounds like another great read from Gill set during the filming of Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. I think the cover gives a brilliant sense of time and place (as well as a little mystery). The Affair will be released by Avon (HarperCollins) on 9th May and I can’t wait!

Elizabeth was wearing a clinging silvery-white gown trimmed with long white ostrich feathers and very high heels and Diana could see that she emanated a kind of effortless star quality.

Rome 1961. Diana Bailey arrives on the film set of Cleopatra to begin work as a historical advisor and strikes up a friendship with Helen, a young make-up artist.

Tensions on the set are running high with the film in financial crisis and the paparazzi whipping up a media storm over the very public affair unfolding between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

As Diana adjusts to a new life away from her troubled marriage, she seeks solace in Ernesto, a charismatic member of the film crew. But as she grows closer to him, she spends less time with Helen who is harboring a dark secret of her own…

An enthralling story of love and passion, set against the backdrop of one of the most iconic films ever made.

Find out more about Gill Paul and her novels at: http://www.gillpaul.com/