Archive | January, 2014

Exclusive cover reveal! Secret Crush of a Chalet Girl by Lorraine Wilson

29 Jan

Drum roll please! Today I’m super excited to reveal the cover for the next book in the Chalet Girl series by Lorraine Wilson! I love this series and can’t wait to read Secret Crush of a Chalet Girl which will be out on 2oth February. Isn’t this cover just fab?

Lorraine says, “Secret Crush of a Chalet Girl was great fun to write as I included a Valentine’s treasure hunt, set around Verbier. I can’t give too much away about the locations I used as it would spoil the clues but the research at Christmas was very enjoyable and involved drinking cocktails at the luxurious new W hotel on New Year’s Eve. My editor commented when I met her for lunch that she was pleased to see I believe in suffering for my art ;-)

But seriously, while this story was great fun to write, it also means a lot to me as it’s Sophie’s story. For those of you who haven’t read the earlier Chalet Girl books – Sophie is one of the chalet girls who’s been in the series from the start. I found myself really genuinely caring about her happiness so I really hope you enjoy her story.”

Secret Crush of a Chalet Girl is published on 20th February and is available to pre-order now!  

For details of the other books in the series please visit Lorraine’s author pages:

Guest post: Deciding To Self-Publish A Beginner’s Guide To Salad by Jennifer Joyce

28 Jan

Today the lovely Jennifer from Jennifer Joyce Writes is my guest, talking about her decision to self-publish her latest novel, A Beginners Guide to Salad. Jennifer is a writer of romantic comedies who lives in Manchester with her husband and their two daughters. When she isn’t disappearing into her own fictional worlds, she can be found on her blog and reviewing books for Novelicious’ Alternative Thursday. Welcome Jennifer!

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve been scribbling down stories for as long as I can remember, advancing to a typewriter and then an electric typewriter (which I felt like the bee’s knees typing on). I submitted my first book when I was twenty. I thought it was brilliant. It was not. Unsurprisingly, it was rejected.

I kept writing as a hobby, somehow finding the time to write even when I had my children. I submitted on and off for the next few years and then something changed. I realised that if I actually wanted to be a writer, I had to take it seriously. Scribbling down a page or two every now and then wasn’t going to cut it. I started to put aside my evenings to write. It was pretty tough, especially deserting the soaps, but I wanted to be a published writer so badly that it was worth giving up my free time.

I wrote a couple of books, which were rejected so I put them aside and cracked on with the next one. I wrote another book and this one felt different from the others. I loved writing A Beginner’s Guide To Salad. It was exactly the kind of book I’d pick up off the shelf and I grew to really love my main character, Ruth. I believed in the book, so I was gutted when it was rejected. I was given some feedback and more positive rejections, which was a step in the right direction at least, but I wasn’t ready to give up so easily. The other rejected books had been shelved but I couldn’t do that this time. I thought about it a lot and decided that self-publishing was the way to go.

I knew it would be hard work and scary without anybody to hold my hand, but this book was something I felt passionately about. I hired an editor and polished the book to within an inch of its life and now it’s finally out there. It’s still pretty scary but I’m glad I took the leap.

A Beginner’s Guide To Salad is a romantic comedy about a woman’s weight-loss bid for her school reunion and is available as an ebook now.

You can find out more about the book and Jennifer at:

Blog: www.jenniferjoycewrites.co.uk

Twitter: www.twitter.com/writer_jenn

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jenniferjoycewrites

Please do check out the other stops on the blog tour:

Book review: The Love Detective by Alexandra Potter

27 Jan

‘In a way, I’m a bit of a love detective. Because what’s a greater mystery than love?’

Meet Ruby Miller. A writer who makes happy-ever-afters happen. Until she discovers her fiance is a lying cheat and loses her faith in love. So when her sister invites her on a beach holiday to Goa to forget about him, Ruby jumps on a plane . . . and into an extraordinary adventure.

Stolen bags, a runaway sister and a handsome American stranger sweep Ruby into a magical mystery tour across India. Amid fortresses and fortune tellers, and a whirlwind of weddings, she uncovers fascinating stories of love, lost and found.

But as the mysteries deepen, secrets are revealed that turn Ruby’s life upside down. And what started as a journey to find her sister, becomes a journey to find herself – and love – again.

Readers, this book is something special; it’s real, funny and magical, taking you on a whirlwind adventure through India and is the perfect pick me up for a cold wet January. I should warn you though; the story really set off my wanderlust and it will have you longing to book your next holiday.

The Love Detective of the title is Ruby who is actually an author who creates romantic happy ever afters for her readers. But having hit rock bottom in her own romantic life and suffering from writers block, Ruby is encouraged by her editor to get out of her rut and take a holiday. Ruby is the organised responsible one in her family; big sister to the flighty and impulsive Amy who has been travelling the world and is about to return home. Seizing the moment, Ruby decides to join Amy in India for the end of her trip.

The banter between Ruby and Amy is fab and I loved that their relationship wasn’t perfect but that they were there for each other when it mattered. As Amy disappears just as she’s due to return to England with Ruby, Ruby makes her first impulsive decision to try to track her down! This is where the adventure really takes off and from the point that Ruby boarded the train to Delhi I could not put this book down. I loved the fact that I couldn’t predict where the story or Ruby was going to go next and the ups and downs of her adventure were a wonderful surprise.

Alexandra Potter has created a varied and intriguing cast of supporting characters too from handsome American Jack who turns from annoying fellow traveller to hero in disguise, driver Rocky who I loved and leads Ruby and Jack on a whirlwind tour of the sights and sounds of India to cafe owner Billy who shows Ruby the real India. Each character has a perfectly formed role to play in the bigger story and I loved all the little linkages.

The descriptions of India are amazing; Alexandra Potter should work for the Indian tourist board! I’ll admit that when I started reading, India wasn’t at the top of my ‘must visit’ list but having read this book, I immediately moved it up the list! I defy anyone to read The Love Detective and not want to visit the beautiful places Alexandra describes. From yoga retreats in Goa to wedding season in Udaipur, Alexandra has clearly done her research and her love of travel and experiencing new places really comes through in the story. I’m so pleased that this is the first in a new series as I can’t wait to discover more fab destinations with Ruby.

I loved seeing Ruby change through her trip; it’s a subtle change and cleverly done by Alexandra as Ruby loses her way, her possessions and finally her inhibitions whilst discovering a host of wonderful love stories along the way.  And it’s not just romantic love that she uncovers but all kinds of relationships. This is such a warm feel-good read and just what I needed to boost my spirits when the January blues hit! It would also make the perfect holiday read at any time of the year and I predict this will be a huge hit for summer 2014 – put it on your packing list now ;-)

5/5

The Love Detective is out in paperback and ebook formats now.

Find out more about Alexandra Potter and her writing at: http://www.alexandrapotter.com/

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

Book review: Confessions of a Bad Bridesmaid by Jennifer Rae

26 Jan

She should never have agreed to be a bridesmaid!

Bridesmaid Olivia Matthews has arrived at her best friend’s glamorous society wedding – and stepped into her worst nightmare! From her cleavage to her attitude, nothing about Livvie is welcome – and before she knows it she’s won the disapproval of everyone there.

The only silver lining is best man Edward Winchester. He might be a bit uptight, but he’s also gorgeous and kisses like an X-rated dream… So Livvie decides there’s only one way to redeem this wedding from hell: persuade control freak Edward to cut loose and have his wicked way with her. If only he’d stop being so chivalrous…!

Confessions of a Bad Bridesmaid is Jennifer Rae’s Modern Tempted debut and sees Australian Olivia Matthews attending the English society wedding of her best friend. Olivia isn’t just a wedding guest, she’s a bridesmaid and right from the start it’s clear that Livvie doesn’t fit!

The contrast between colourful Olivia and English gent best man Edward Winchester is stark and they don’t exactly hit it off to a good start as Edward misses collecting Livvie from the airport and resents being asked to collect her at all! I liked the immediate tension that Jennifer set between the two but I have to admit that my initial impression of Olivia was to agree with many of Edward’s assessments of her. She came across as a little thoughtless and self absorbed initially but it soon became clear that the outer rather ostentatious Olivia is a carefully constructed facade to hide her insecurities.

The story is told from the dual perspectives of Edward and Olivia and I enjoyed their different takes on the situations they found themselves in. The changing perspectives gave the story a nice pace and it was fun to read the outward reactions of the characters followed by their actual thoughts and feelings and despite Edward’s best efforts he is almost instantly attracted to Olivia. Both have been hurt in love in the past and are distrustful of love, unlike bride and groom, Will and Fi who are getting married after a whirlwind romance.

As the wedding party gathers, Olivia is introduced to her best friend’s future in laws including the fabulously bitchy Bunny and it becomes clear that she doesn’t meet the mark. My respect for Livvy grew as she faced up to Edward and the rest of Will’s friends and family and I loved it when the sparks really began to fly between Edward and Olivia and thought there was something a little Elizabeth and Darcy about their relationship! As their back stories are revealed we see that they have more in common than they first thought having both suffered family issues.

Overall this was a fun quick read with some great characters and a glamorous English countryside setting and  I look forward to reading more from Jennifer Rae.

3/5

Confessions of a Bad Bridesmaid is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the Modern Tempted team for providing a review copy of this novel.

Find out more about Jennifer and her writing at: http://jenniferraeromance.wordpress.com/

 

 

Book review: Rumor Has It by Elisabeth Grace

25 Jan

Today it’s my stop on the brilliant New Adult Blog Tour being hosted by the lovely Faye at A Daydreamer’s Thoughts throughout January. Read on for my review of Rumor Has It by Elisabeth Grace. You’ll find your scavenger hunt clue and the rafflecopter for the big tour giveaway at the end of the post and don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour!

All publicity is good publicity, right? Unless you’re recent college grad Ellie Wagner and an embarrassing video of you and your boyfriend goes viral. Every man in your life abandons you, but who knew a one-minute clip of your latest doomed relationship would brand you a slut, prevent you from getting your perfect job, and force you to keep doing the one thing you swore you’d never do again…live with your mother. 

But staying with mom and her latest boy-toy (is this husband number four or five?) until your life turns around might not be all bad. Especially when you fall – literally – at the feet of a sexy, green-eyed stranger who offers you freedom and a life of luxury on a gold-rimmed platter. 

There’s only one little problem – the man of your dreams is none other than Mason Nash, the latest hip-hop star busting up the music charts. Fame and fortune are his calling cards and he’s vying to steal the show on a new reality TV series that will catapult him into mainstream stardom. Hello spotlight. 

The man behind the famous persona is perfect for Ellie in every way, but can she overcome the ugly pitfalls that come with Mason’s celebrity status? Or will she be forced to choose between the man she loves and the independent life she longs for? 

After all, fame and fortune aren’t always what they seem and not all publicity is good publicity… 

Rumor Has It is a fast paced, hot romance that sees recently graduated Ellie meet hip-hop star Mason and follows their story as two very different worlds collide! I was drawn in to the story from the start as Ellie who is working in a real estate office while she looks for her ideal job, is sent to sort out keys for a client who can’t get into his house. As Ellie literally falls into Mason’s life the chemistry between them jumps off the page and from that point I couldn’t put this book down.

I loved Elisabeth Grace’s writing and the way that she kept the story interesting with varied locations and plenty of plot twists. Reading Rumor Has It felt like getting an insider view of the music industry and life as a very recognised celebrity. But fame and fortune aren’t always as glamorous as they seem and the book shows the positives and negatives of life in the spotlight.

Mason and Ellie are both great characters and their back stories not only give them common ground but also add depth to their characters. I would have liked a little more in the story on Mason’s family and how the story there worked out but hopefully that will come in later books in the series. The main focus of the story is the developing romance between Mason and Ellie which plays out against a background of media interest and the pressures of Masons job. The book has a strong message about the positives and negatives of social media and made its point nicely.

There’s a good balance of serious scenes and fun in the story and I loved the banter between Mason and Ellie which really builds the tension of their romance. And boy does Elisabeth Grace know how to write HOT romance with some very sexy scenes! As the story drew to a close with a major twist that I didn’t see coming, I was really hoping for a happy ending and was very pleased that the novel didn’t end on a cliffhanger!

Rumor Has It is the first book in the Limelight series of linked but separate stories. The next book, Picture Perfect will focus on Ellie’s friend Skye but I really hope we hear more about Ellie and Mason too. A great start to a fab new contemporary romance series  and Elisabeth Grace is definitely  a New Adult author to watch!

4/5

Find out more about Elisabeth and her writing at: http://elisabeth-grace.com/

I’d like to thank Elisabeth for providing me with a review copy of this novel.

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Book news: Mills and Book launch Modern Tempted writing competition!

20 Jan

I absolutely love the Modern Tempted series from Mills and Boon so I was excited to see that they have launched a fab competition for budding romance writers.  #TemptedToWrite launched today and runs to the end of January.

 

#TemptedToWrite is the Modern Tempted writing competition that Mills & Boon will be running on Facebook and Twitter this January!

The Modern Tempted team will be asking daily questions for ten days, designed to get people thinking about their characters, conflicts and plot. Each day, they will choose their favourite answer, and every winner will receive lovely Modern Tempted books as a prize.

The competition will run from 20th January to 31st January. At the end of the ten days, entrants will be invited to write a short story (10,000 words max) based on the questions and answers, to be submitted by 10th February. The winner will be published on the Mills and Boon website on Valentine’s Day, and also receive an editorial mentor in the form of the lovely Clio.

I must admit, I’m tempted to have a go at this one :-) Good luck if you do enter!

The Facebook link for #TemptedToWrite is – https://www.facebook.com/millsandboon or you can follow the competition on Twitter at #TemptedToWrite

 

Book news: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

19 Jan

Having declared The Book of Life as one of my most anticipated reads of 2014 last week, I was very excited to see the exclusive cover reveal and extract over at Glamour UK. I love the cover and cannot wait to read the book! The Book of Life is out in hardback and ebook formats on July 15th.

Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew once more in the stunning climax to their epic tale, following A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES and SHADOW OF NIGHT.

A world of witches, daemons and vampires. A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future. Diana and Matthew – the forbidden love at the heart of it.

After traveling through time in SHADOW OF NIGHT, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchant?ing series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home in France they reunite with their families – with one heart-breaking exception. But the real threat to their future is yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on a terrifying urgency. Using ancient knowl?edge and modern science, from the palaces of Venice and beyond, Diana and Matthew will finally learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

Find out more about Deborah Harkness and her writing at: http://deborahharkness.com/

Read my review of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Read my review of Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Guest Book review: A Christmas to Remember by Katie Flynn

19 Jan

Today I’m welcoming my Mum back to the blog with her review of Katie Flynn’s latest novel.

A few days before Christmas Tess Williams rushes into Albert Payne’s tobacconist shop, with two boys in hot pursuit, saying she’s a thief. Albert chases the boys away, and though Tess does not realise it, this incident changes her life.

Tess lives with her grandmother, Edie, in a small flat on Heyworth Street in Norwich.She has recently returned from Bell Farm, where she was evacuated during the war, and is being bullied by her schoolmates, but when the handsome Snowy White comes to her rescue she thinks her troubles are over, and returns for a working holiday to Bell Farm and her old friend Jonty.

This leaves Edie to her own devices, however, and Tess is jealous of the friendship which blossoms between her grandmother and the tobacconist.Yet though Tess resents Albert, it is to him she turns when things start to go wrong.

Although this story starts and concludes at Christmas, it is not a Christmas story, but covers a number of years in the life of Tess Williams, her family and friends.

At the beginning of the book we are introduced to Tess as she takes refuge in a tobacconist shop down the street from where she lives as the result of a confrontation between herself and one of the market stall holders. The reader soon establishes a picture of families fighting hard to recover from the war years in an area of Liverpool, and although the picture seems cold and wanting there is a stark contrast in the characters, which are resilient, caring, hard-working and resourceful.

An immediate friendship springs to life between Tess and the owner of the shop, Albert. They end up sharing a cuppa in the kitchen, as Tess explains her predicament which made me consider if things have necessarily changed for the better. Up until midway through the story, the reader is given generous helpings of life just after the war, with rationing and the struggle to re establish businesses. In parallel we also see the difficulties of country farming life, as Tess revisits the Bell family who treated her as their own during her evacuation to Norfolk during the war.

I have to say at some points I really did wonder how much these poor folk could cope with. One crisis seemed to follow another and even a fun day out at the seaside, in the height of summer, turned to mayhem when Norfolk was hit by a storm with hailstones the size of golf balls – having said that I do think Katie Flynn has a knack of ‘ telling it like it is’ – no frills, and this is refreshing and honest.

Midway through the book sees Tess growing up; having been befriended by a boy older than herself – Snowy White, a charismatic character whose charm attracts the girls, like bees to a honey pot – Snowy respects Tess and forms a true friendship with her. As the story develops the reader is held in suspense as to whether Tess will choose Jonty her Plough boy friend from Norfolk, or the handsome educated Snowy, to give her heart to.

There are many tribulations for Tess to deal with, including a discovery that could have sent her tumbling and a very nasty situation which involves her Gran and dear Albert. As the story concludes Tess puts her heart into creating a business that will support her and Gran – but as Christmas arrives what happens at the station has the reader spellbound! Certainly a Christmas to Remember and a resolution and conclusion that I would not have predicted.

A pleasant read, easy to pick up, but from the middle of the book, difficult to put down!

3/5

We’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Katie Flynn and her novels at: http://www.katieflynn.com/

Short story spotlight: One Kiss by Lisa Fox

14 Jan

Sometimes one kiss can change everything.

New Year’s Eve is supposed to be a night for celebration and new beginnings. For best friends Kat and Dean, it is a nightmare filled with disastrous dates and enraged ex-girlfriends!

Lucky for them, they’ve got each other to help laugh off the embarrassing, and downright inappropriate, moments. But then midnight rolls around and neither of them have anyone to kiss…

There’s no doubt this is a night they will always remember.

The real question is whether it will be a night they want to forget…

One Kiss is Lisa Fox’s debut for Harper Impulse and will certainly start your romance-reading new year with a bang! The first thing that attracted me to this book was the cover – it’s brilliantly eye-catching and I think it captures the fast-paced style of the story. This is a quick read novella that takes place mainly on New Year’s Eve in New York and I read it in one sitting.

The story focusses on Kat and Dean who are best friends and colleagues. Despite their brilliant friendship their relationship is strictly platonic and although both are clearly attractive and have no shortage of admirers, they find themselves both single and heading to a colleagues party on New Year’s Eve.

I thought Kat and Dean were both fun characters; they live and work in New York city with fab jobs at a close knit design firm. Their outlooks and backgrounds are quite different though and it took me a while to like Kat as much as I liked Dean as she seemed a little hard and reserved at first but I did enjoy the banter between them and Lisa Fox sets up their relationship well.

I enjoyed the glimpses of the supporting cast who added some very funny moments to the story and there were some good twists to establish that there might just be more to Kat and Dean’s relationship than either of them were willing to admit. Lisa Fox builds the tension between them well and kept me guessing as to where the story would go when the clock struck midnight and I was (again) surprised by Kat’s reaction to events and wishing along with Dean that I knew what had happened in her past.

Fox does a good job of keeping the reader guessing and I couldn’t have predicted Kat’s reveal. With a good dose of romance fireworks as the book draws to it’s conclusion, this is a novella that will certainly warm up a cold January for its readers!

4/5

One Kiss is out now in ebook formats. You can read the first chapter for free on the Harper Impulse website by clicking the image below:

Visit
Find out more about Lisa Fox and her writing at: http://www.lisafoxromance.com/

I’d like to thank HarperImpulse for providing a review copy of this book via Netgalley.

 

Book review: The Railwayman's Wife by Ashley Hay

13 Jan

In Thirroul, in 1948, people chase their dreams through the books in the railway’s library. Anikka Lachlan searches for solace after her life is destroyed by a single random act. Roy McKinnon, who found poetry in the mess of war, has lost his words and his hope. Frank Draper is trapped by the guilt of those his treatment and care failed on their first day of freedom. All three struggle with the same question: how now to be alive.

Written in clear, shining prose and with an eloquent understanding of the human heart, The Railwayman’s Wife explores the power of beginnings and endings, and how hard it can sometimes be to tell them apart. It’s a story of life, loss, and what comes after; of connection and separation, longing and acceptance. Most of all, it celebrates love in all its forms, and the beauty of discovering that loving someone can be as extraordinary as being loved yourself.

The Railwayman’s Wife is a beautiful and haunting piece of historical fiction that I really enjoyed. Ashley Hay’s writing throughout the book is almost poetic and her words captured me from the very first pages and didn’t let me go.

The novel is largely a study in death, grief and loss but although it made me think, I didn’t find it a depressing read; firstly because of the beauty of the words used and secondly because the underlying message is that the human spirit is capable of enduring all manner of hardships and carrying on and also that love endures.

Set on the Australian coast, in the town of Thirroul which is also the author’s home town and the setting for Kangaroo by D H Lawrence,The Railwayman’s Wife is filled with beautiful imagery and descriptions of nature. I particularly loved the descriptions of the sea and coastline. The beauty of these descriptions contrast starkly with the descriptions of the railway and the powerful trains that are a constant throughout the book and of course the darkness of war and grief which are ever-present.

The story takes place in 1948 as the town and its occupants try to move forward following the war years. This book serves as a reminder that the the Second World war truly was a world war as the two main male leads in the book return from the battlefields each suffering their own demons. The melancholy aspect of the post-war world is represented by poet Roy McKinnon who is desperately trying to reconcile that he could write beautiful poetry in the most horrific circumstances but can’t find the words surrounded by peace, nature and beauty.

Doctor Frank Draper represents a more angry and hostile reaction to the post-war world. The stories of both men are revealed slowly and their feelings of loss and grief analysed alongside those of Annikka Lachlan, the railwayman’s wife of the title. Mac, her dead husband also has a voice throughout the book as chapters in the present are interspersed with recollections of his life. I enjoyed these flashbacks and memories as they filled in Mac and Ani’s history making her loss all the more poignant.

I liked Ani as a character and admired her strength and determination to keep going and adjust to her new circumstances. Ani is a book lover and is offered a job at the railway library. The descriptions of books, poetry and libraries in The Railwayman’s Wife are just wonderful. Hay really gets inside Ani’s mind to show all of the thoughts and feelings associated with the loss of a loved one from the initial shock to finding out things that you didn’t know about the person to the beginnings of acceptance. The ending to the story was a surprise; it wasn’t the one I was hoping for but despite this was completely fitting to the story and left me with a sense of completeness.

Highly recommended!

4/5

The Railwayman’s Wife is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank Sam at Allen and Unwin for sending me a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Ashley Hay and her writing at: http://www.ashleyhay.com.au/