Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Vintage Summer Wedding - Jenny Oliver

About the book...
Spending the summer uncovering hidden treasures in a vintage shop, Anna can still vividly remember both her childhood dreams; the first was that she’d become a Prima Ballerina, and dance on stage resplendent in a jewel-encrusted tutu. The second was that at her wedding she would walk down the aisle wearing a collective-gasp-from-the-congregation dress.
Years ago Anna pirouetted out of her cosy hometown village in a whirl of ambition…but when both of those fairy-tale dreams came crashing down around her ballet shoes, she and fiancée Seb find themselves back in Nettleton, their wedding and careers postponed indefinitely…

Don’t they say that you can never go home again? Sometimes they don’t get it right… This one summer is showing Anna that your dreams have to grow up with you. And sometimes what you think you wanted is just the opposite of what makes you happy.

About the author...

JENNY OLIVER wrote her first book on holiday when she was ten years old. Illustrated with cut-out supermodels from her sister’s Vogue, it was an epic, sweeping love story not so loosely based on Dynasty.
Since then Jenny has gone on to get an English degree, a Masters, and a job in publishing that’s taught her what it takes to write a novel (without the help of the supermodels). She wrote The Parisian Christmas Bake Off on the beach in a sea-soaked, sand-covered notebook and The Vintage Summer Wedding is her follow up.
Follow Jenny on twitter: @JenOliverBooks

My thoughts...

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher Carina in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give.

The book begins with Anna along with her fiancé Seb returning to Anna's hometown after living the dream in London, spending all their savings, planning for the wedding of the century - Anna had such huge plans. She was never, ever going back to the small town once she headed for the lights and the razzamatazz of the big smoke, leaving with disparaging remarks as she left, no-one was in any doubt of her plans.

Oh, how the mighty fell, losing her job and all the money she'd spent planning the elaborate wedding meant returning to a job sorted out by daddy with her tail between her legs. I didn't like Anna one bit at the start of the book, thinking her to be a spoilt, egotistical so and so.  However, Jenny provided family, friends, old enemies, challenging situations and people for Anna to bounce off and boy did she.

With each scenario, person and encounter a layer was stripped from Anna until I was left feeling I knew and understood her, I could see how and why she behaved as she did.   Negative things that happen in our childhood if not dealt with can seriously affect the adults we become and Anna was no exception - feeling she constantly needed to prove herself and be the best was draining and left her soulless.

Fight or flight is something we all encounter at some point and I loved the fact that no matter how much Anna talked about leaving and getting back to London she started fighting back, earning the respect and friendship of those around her. All the time her fiancé Seb, acting as her ballast, accepting and embracing their new life whilst Anna blew hot and cold.

This really did end up being a lovely book, with a beautiful ending that came because of friendships, understandings and acceptance - Anna gaining strength of character once she let go of the pressure and hang-ups she felt she had hanging over her. Making new and unexpected friendships along the way.

I gave this book 4/5 stars

Monday, 28 July 2014

The Oxford Blue Series plus interview - Pippa Croft

About the books...
The First Time We Met is the first novel in the sizzling new Oxford Blue romance series from Pippa Croft.

Senator's daughter Lauren Cusack is leaving Washington behind for the dreaming spires of Oxford University - and she's ready for a challenge. Now a fully fledged Master's student, Lauren is determined to make the most of every single minute.

But then she meets Alexander Hunt, and everything changes.

A devastatingly handsome English aristocrat, Alexander is as brooding and enigmatic as they come. Lauren tries to resist his advances, but he has his sights clearly set on the young American, and what Alexander wants, he gets.

Caution soon gives way to mind-blowing passion and Lauren is drawn into Alexander's privileged world of glamour and status. But all that glitters is not gold - for Alexander is a man with a dark past, and desire may not be enough to conquer all else  

The First Time We Met is for one week only 
(28th July – 3rd August) will be 99p

Lauren and Alexander's journey continues in the second novel in Pippa Croft's Oxford Blue romance series.

It's the beginning of a new term at Wyckham College, Oxford, and a fresh start for Lauren Cusack. Her fingers were badly burnt when a whirlwind romance with gorgeous English aristocrat, Alexander Hunt, became too hot to handle - and now she's determined to keep her distance.

Her resolve is shaken when Alexander appears on her doorstep - he's been completely torn apart by some devastating news. Lauren knows that she should stay away, but their chemistry is undeniable and she soon finds herself back in Alexander's arms.

Can Lauren handle the drama that comes with Alexander Hunt? Or will she have to sacrifice the most exhilarating passion she's ever known . . .

The Second Time I Saw You will be £1.99 
for one week only (28th July – 3rd August)!

The love story continues - Third Time Lucky is the third book in Pippa Croft's compelling Oxford Blue romance series.
Fans of E L James, Tammara Webber and Samantha Young won't be able to get enough of Pippa Croft's Oxford Blue romance series. Lauren and Alexander's journey begins in The First Time We Met, and follows on in the brilliant sequel, The Second Time I Saw You, which are both available as Penguin ebooks.
Pippa Croft is the pen name of an award-winning romantic novelist. After studying English at Oxford, she worked as a copywriter and journalist before writing her debut novel, which won the RNA's New Writers' award and was later made into a TV movie. She lives in a village in the heart of England with her husband and daughter.

Third Time Lucky will be published in 9th Oct 
and can be pre-ordered from Amazon

I had the pleasure of asking Pippa Croft a few questions...

Welcome to my blog Pippa ☺
  • Did you always aspire to being a writer and if you weren’t what would your dream job be?
I’ve always ‘written’ since I could hold a pen – but I never enjoyed telling stories, always choosing factual and descriptive pieces. After doing English Lit at uni, it’s no surprise I ended up in copywriting and journalism. I was finally inspired to start writing romantic fiction after watching a TV drama called North & South in2004. Like EL James, my novel career began in fan-fiction...
  • What is the highlight of your career to date?
Three things: getting my first book deal from Headline for Decent Exposure in 2006, then seeing it made into a TV movie in 2009 and being published by Penguin Books in 2014. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined any of those things, ten years ago.
  • What can you tell us about The Oxford Blue Series to whet my readers appetites?
It’s a passionate, steamy, intense, funny, emotional, angsty roller coaster ride... centred on two bright people who can’t bear to be together or apart. Lauren and Alexander face the dilemmas that all of us do at some time – career vs love; head vs heart – and in their case, due to Alexander’s situation, those dilemmas are intensified.
  • Third Time Lucky is the final book in the Oxford Blue Series.  Will you be sorry to say good-bye to Lauren and Alexander?
I already am! I have several ideas for new books but I’m not quite ready to leave Lauren and Alexander  behind yet so I can’t seem to settle to one just yet.
  • The Oxford Blue series is a little steamy at times, how do you research your story-lines – now there’s a leading question?
Ha!  The Oxford setting came naturally to me, having studied there – but the story-lines are a mixture of pre-planning and pantstering. When you have characters as determined and headstrong as Lauren, Alexander, Emma et al are, they tend to dictate the plot themselves.  I’ve tried to inject lots of suspense and surprises, but most of that has arisen from the dilemmas and conflicts faced by Lauren and Alexander. They definitely don’t do a ‘quiet life’! 
  • If you was granted one writing wish, what would that be?
To keep on writing more books, and expire at an advanced age, mid way through a steamy sentence.
  • What do you do to relax when you are not writing? 
Get outdoors, running, walking, swimming – outside if possible – snorkelling, surfing and bodyboarding on holiday. Or I go shopping – even Tesco is an outing to me.
  • I know you recognise and appreciate the blogging/social media community but keeping up the interaction must at times be draining - particularly of your time.  What are your thoughts on this?
It’s become part of my life and my job – and I’m addicted – so no longer seems unusual and I’ve stopped feeling guilty about it!
  • What can we expect next from Pippa Croft?
I’m having a break after writing three books in one year and when I finally let go of Lauren and Alexander, I’ll settle down to developing my next project seriously. For  now, I’m letting my brain rest. ☺
   Now for a little bit of fun, a glimpse at the 
real Pippa Croft:-

What’s your favourite tipple? 
Kir – preferably a kir royale

Do you prefer savoury or sweet things?
Savoury – I dare not have crisps or dips in the house and I am terrible for raiding the fridge around 5pm for crackers and philadephia.

Friends coming round  - cook or get a take-away? 
Now I’ve finished the series, I’d like to cook – in the ‘old days’ before I wrote books, I used to have themed dinner parties. 

Do you prefer hot or cold climates? 
Either is fine as long as it’s dry and sunny.

Do you prefer a beach holiday or city break? 
Generally, I like a beach holiday – even in the winter – or going to the Lakes where we have a holiday let flat. But we did have an amazing weekend in Rome in February as research for Second Time I Saw You.

Which would you prefer luxury cruise or fly long haul first class? 
Long haul first class – I don’t travel well but the very thought of being on a boat for longer than half an hour makes me feel queasy. I once threw up on the Dover to Calais ferry.

Do you prefer to go to the cinema or theatre? 
Impossible! I love both so much – we love seeing the latest movies on the big screen and last month I went to the Old Vic to see the Crucible with Richard Armitage.

Which do you prefer comedy or true stories?
Comedy every time, though I am addicted to newspapers and read or buy one most days for my dose of realism.

Do you have any pets? 
Sadly, my OH is allergic to furry creatures but we did have a  couple of rabbits when my daughter lived at home. I do like dogs and cats though.

Tell us something we don’t know about you? 
I’m very distantly related to a serial killer and also, on a much nicer note, to the late and amazing Jane McGrath, the breast cancer campaigner and former wife of Glenn McGrath (ask any Australian – they were incredibly famous.)

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Tea Chest - Josephine Moon

About the book...

Kate Fullerton, talented tea designer and now co-owner of The Tea Chest, could never have imagined that she'd be flying from Brisbane to London, risking her young family's future, to save the business she loves from the woman who wants to shut it down.

Meanwhile, Leila Morton has just lost her job; and if Elizabeth Clancy had known today was the day she would appear on the nightly news, she might at least have put on some clothes. Both need to start again.

When the three women's paths unexpectedly cross, they throw themselves into realising Kate's magical vision for London's branch of The Tea Chest. But every time success is within their grasp, increasing tensions damage their trust in each other.

With the very real possibility that The Tea Chest will fail, Kate, Leila and Elizabeth must decide what's important to each of them. Are they willing to walk away or can they learn to believe in themselves?

An enchanting, witty novel about the unexpected situations life throws at us, and how love and friendship help us through. Written with heart and infused with the seductive scents of bergamot, Indian spices, lemon, rose and caramel, it's a world you won't want to leave.

About the author...

Hello! I like to think of my books as being like a good chocolate brownie--rich, comforting, uplifting, but with a few chunky nuts to chew on. I live on the Sunshine Coast in Australia and now have the great pleasure of writing books for a living. My first book, 'The Tea Chest' is now on the shelves, published by Allen & Unwin in Australia and New Zealand. It will be out in the UK in July. I write about what I love and that often has a lot to do with food :) I also think there needs to be more joy in the world so I hope to do that too. Enjoy!

My thoughts...

I was offered a copy of this book by Sam Redman at Allen & Unwin the publishers for The Tea Chest in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give.  Firstly, I have to mention the marketing for this book - it is the best I've seen in years.  I received my copy of The Tea Chest along with a beautiful t-towel, t-bag to make my own brew and a hand written post card hoping I'd enjoy the book.

Simone part owner of the Tea Chest, met Kate at the market where she had a successful stall, blending and mixing teas - she made her an offer she couldn't refuse and a beautiful friendship was formed.  For six years they worked alongside each other building upon and growing the already successful Tea Chest.  The only fly in the ointment was Judy, Simones silent investor, who didn't seem to share in the joy of the business.  It was a shock to both to discover upon Simone's sudden death that she had left her half not to her backer Judy but to her friend Kate.

It's fair to say both were shocked.  Judy was pushing Kate to sell up, Kate wanted to fulfil hers and Simones dreams of opening the proposed London store.  Something she forges ahead with despite the fact it could destroy her family in the process.

Kate is joined in her battle by three women she meets along the way.  Leila, in answer to a job ad, Elizabeth and Victoria after a 'drowning their sorrows session' in the pub.  Each of the women are very different, bringing different qualities to the team.  Each having their own problems and stories to tell.  

I loved the way they latched on to each other, drawing strength from the project - working tirelessly towards the store opening.  With every set back and problem encountered a layer was lifted, revealing four, raw, emotional characters that needed a purpose and each other to re-build themselves - using The Tea Chest as an anchor as their characters evolved.

I laughed and groaned, had many 'OMG no' moments and generally smiled throughout the whole of this book.  I can't describe just quite how much I loved it.  Josephine captured a bit of my heart in the telling of this story. The descriptions given to everything are so vivid.  The store, the flowers, the outfits they chose and in particular the contents of the shop - my mouth literally watered the whole way through the book, I could smell and taste the flavours so strongly.

Whilst I sat in the sunshine, sipping my tea, Josephine through The Tea Chest mixed and blended a delightful tale allowing a front row seat to watch the four women grow, to discover things about themselves and each other - to observe the selfless acts of kindness each displayed to each other, putting others before themselves.  The supporting cast, husbands, boyfriends, friends, family and neighbouring shop keepers actively enhanced the story as they dipped in and out.  But, for me, I particularly loved the parts where we got to know and understand Simone and Judy, as the current story moved forward, Simone and Judy's went backwards  - leaving a clearer understanding of their relationship and why Judy was the character she was.

I can't tell you how much I loved this book and highly recommend it - when the chips are down, support is found in unlikely places, showing we all need to accept help and friendship not just give it to grow and understand what we as individuals are capable of if we put our minds to it.  

I easily give this book 5/5 stars

Monday, 21 July 2014

Escape for the Summer - Ruth Saberton

About the book...
Can Andi Evans find the strength to start again?

Betrayed and broken-hearted, redundancy is one shock too many for Andi. Suddenly single and in debt, a working holiday in the Cornish seaside town of Rock appears the perfect solution. Determined never to trust again, will a chance meeting with a stranger change her mind?

Disillusioned with useless boyfriends, Angel is set on finding a man who will keep her in style. Heading to Rock, summer playground of the rich and the royals, seems an inspired move until a case of mistaken identity threatens a romance that has started to mean more than she expected...

Actress Gemma is no stranger to diets and disappointments. When the future of her career hangs in the balance, she prays moving to Rock solves her problems. With a new reality TV show being filmed in the idyllic seaside town, 
surely she can avoid pasties and ice creams for long enough to win a role?

Arriving in beautiful Cornwall, all three girls are hoping for a holiday season to remember. But will this be for the right reasons? Or, as emotions run higher than the tide, will the summer escape turn their lives upside down?

About the author...

Ruth Saberton always knew she wanted to be a writer. From an early age she was busy filling note books with stories and rather than hero worshipping Wham and Duran Duran (which ages her!) Ruth's heroes were Jilly Cooper and Jackie Collins. Several attempts at bodice rippers later, Ruth turned her attention to romance and now focuses on writing romantic comedies. Her debut novel, 'Katy Carter Wants a Hero' was championed by Richard and Judy and nominated for the RNA's Romantic Comedy of the Year Award as well as being described by Heat Magazine as, 'the heir apparent to Bridget Jones'. Ruth writes under her own name, but also has several pen names which include Jessica Fox, Georgie Carter, Holly Cavendish and Lucy Hepburn. Her boyfriend says he has many women all rolled into one! 

Ruth is published by Orion, Pan Macmillan, Harper Collins and Notting Hill Press. Although she loves the UK, Ruth now lives in the Caribbean where she continues to write romances, teen novels and planning that bodice ripper! 

Ruth loves to to talk to her readers. Interact with her on her website www.ruthsaberton.co.uk on Twitter @ruthsaberton or via Facebook www.facebook.com/ruthsabertonauthor

My thoughts...

I was given an ecopy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give.

Three very different friends, each with their own set of woes, job issues and man troubles decide to head to Cornwall for the summer, to take stock, charge the batteries and escape the day to day issues of their lives.  

One wants to blend into the background and lick her wounds, one wants to bag herself a millionaire playboy and one is desperate to get on a tv show that's being filmed in the area.

Ruth has created characters you can't help but love, I laughed and grimaced in equal measures at their antics.  They reminded me very much of those care free days, before long term relationships and financial commitment. The days when the questions never needed to asked, spontaneity was a given and consequences not thought about. I did think  that essentially having three 'leading ladies' might be too much, each attracting an additional set of support acts along the way but they wove themselves in and out like little cogs, each driving the main story along seamlessly.

This book will take you on a nostalgic journey, back to the carefree days of youth, when a job, mortgage and bills are for 'really old' people. With the girls equally matched by the men they meet - nobody is actually a 100% upfront with each other.  Everyone playing a part, keeping their cards close to their chest for their own reasons - displaying persona's they think the others want to see.

I really bought into this story and cared about each of the girls, wanting the best for them.  Willing each to have a happy ending.  Willing them to open up and show their true identities, complete with baggage and all.  I loved how the characters developed and were enhanced along with their tans,  I for one would happily spend an evening with them, sitting at a quayside bar, sharing a chilled bottle of wine, whilst the sun dances on the bay.

This was chick lit at its best, humorous and traumatic, with the characters going on journeys of self discovery.  A lesson learned I think - if you're happy in your skin, life seems a whole lot easier.  Thank you Ruth for an indulgent, nostalgic, slice of summer.

I gave this book 5/5 stars

The Page Girls - Birthday Week July 21-25

From July 21-25, 
The Page Girls is celebrating its first official 
“birthday week,” which means a giveaway every day plus other goodies. 

About The Page Girls...
The Page Girls (www.thepagegirls.com) is a new online mag with an emphasis on books, cocktails, and female friendships. Each week, they publish a themed issue containing short stories, book reviews, personal and funny essays, videos, cocktail recipes, and more. Some sample issues include The Craziest Thing I Did For Love and LYLAS (Love You Like a Sister).

Sign up for The Page Girls’ weekly newsletter to get notified about new issues, and be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

The Prizes

In addition to the daily prizes on their blog, o celebrate The Page Girls First Blogaversary I have been gifted a couple of prizes to give away on my blog. An ebook An Imaginary House by the Sea by Cecily Gates (Contemporary Romance)(US/INTL) and a set of custom letterpress coasters (US only) 
Enter my Giveaway below

The Ghostly Father - Sue Barnard

About the book...
Romeo & Juliet - was this what really happened? 

When Juliet Roberts is asked to make sense of an ancient Italian manuscript, she little suspects that she will find herself propelled into the midst of one of the greatest love stories of all time. But this is only the beginning. As more hidden secrets come to light, Juliet discovers that the tragic tale of her famous namesake might have had a very different outcome... 

A favourite classic story with a major new twist.

About the author...

Sue Barnard was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. After graduating from Durham University, where she studied French and Italian, Sue got married then had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase "non-working mother" would be banned from the English language.
Since then she has had a series of part-time jobs, including some work as a freelance copywriter. In parallel with this she took several courses in Creative Writing. Her writing achievements include winning the Writing Magazine New Subscribers Poetry Competition for 2013. She is also very interested in Family History. Her own background is stranger than fiction; she'd write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.
Sue has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling questions for BBC Radio 4's fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as "professionally weird." The label has stuck.
Sue joined the editorial team Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet) was officially released on St Valentine's Day 2014.  Her second novel, a romantic mystery entitled Nice Girls Don’t, is due for release in July 2014.

You can find Sue on Facebook, Twitter, or follow her blog here.

An interview with Sue...

Hi Sue welcome to my blog :)

Thank you for inviting me!

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in North Wales, but have spent most of my life in an around Manchester.  I’ve been married to the same wonderful man for over thirty years, and we have two grown-up sons.  
  • What can you tell us about your next novel The Ghostly Father?
It’s a retelling of the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet, but with a few new twists and a different ending.  It takes the form of a backstory for the character of Friar Lawrence, and the story is told from his point of view.
In this version he’s called Fra’ Lorenzo, which is the Italian form of his name.
  • You studied French and Italian at university I believe. Did you ever consider using those and working or settling abroad?
I used the French for a while during some of my various office jobs.  And I do enjoy travelling (and the languages come in useful for that!).  There was a point, some years ago, when my husband’s job might have meant moving abroad, but in the end that didn’t happen.
  • Did you always want to be a writer and if you weren’t what would your dream job be?
I’ve been writing, off and on, for quite a long time, but it’s only during the past few years that I’ve started taking it more seriously.  This was triggered by a life-changing event which happened just under ten years ago.  That’s another story entirely and would probably fill another book all on its own.

I don’t have a “dream job” as such; I don’t think there’s any job which is totally devoid of drawbacks in some form or other.  But if someone offered me the job of all-expenses-paid travel correspondent or restaurant critic, I think I’d be very tempted!
  • The cover of your book in no way gives a clue to a classic love tale, how was it chosen and how much input do you have into the cover designs of your books?
The choice of cover was a joint decision between me and the publisher.  Several designs were suggested, but that was the one which really stood out from the crowd.  The monk represents the “Ghostly Father” of the title.  We wanted something which was eye-catching and slightly mysterious.  The same is true of the cover of my second novel (Nice Girls Don’t, published on 15 July 2014).
  • Describe a typical day in your life of Sue Barnard the author.
Er – what is this “typical day” of which you speak?  My days seem to fill themselves without any visible effort on my part! The nearest I have to a routine is that mornings are usually given over to errands and admin, and writing is done in the afternoons. But none of that is set in stone.
  • What was the process and how long did it take from writing your first page to having the book published?
I started writing the first draft of The Ghostly Father in the summer of 2010.  It was officially published on St Valentine’s Day 2014.
  • Where did the inspiration for this book come from and how do you research your story-lines, are they complete fabrication or part fact?
I’ve always loved the story of Romeo & Juliet but hated the ending, and I’ve often wished that there was an alternative version of the story which had a more satisfactory outcome.  I was finally kick-started into writing The Ghostly Father when I saw one of those lists of “Things You Should Do Before You Die.”  The one which leapt out at me was “Write the book you want to read.”

The Ghostly Father is a complete fabrication, but the tale is closely woven round the original Romeo & Juliet story.  Because it’s told from the Friar’s point of view I researched the routine of life in a monastery, and because the he’s skilled in herb-lore I had to study a bit of that too.  

In Nice Girls Don’t, two of the episodes in the story are based, at least in part, on real events.
  • Now the book is published and ‘out there’ how do you feel?
Still a bit bewildered, to be honest.  Every so often I have to go to the bookshelf and pick up the book, just to convince myself that I haven’t imagined the whole thing.  
  • Is there a message for the reader, what do you hope they get from one of your books?
Both The Ghostly Father and Nice Girls Don’t contain what I hope is a strong message of reconciliation and forgiveness.  
  • What can we expect from you in the future?
Goodness knows!

Now for a little bit of fun, a glimpse at the real 
Sue Barnard:-

What’s your favourite tipple? 
A pint of real ale.  And it has to be a pint.  Halves are for wimps.

Do you prefer savoury or sweet things? 
Savoury, always.  

Friends coming round  - cook or get a take-away? 
Cook.  It’s usually a joint-effort; Better Half is a much better cook than I am, and he’s happy to take care of most of it!

Do you prefer hot or cold climates? 
Hot – so long as it’s a nice dry heat rather than oppressively humid.  

Do you prefer a beach holiday or city break?
I’m equally happy with either.

Which would you prefer luxury cruise or fly long haul first class? 
Cruising has never really appealed to me.  I’ve flown long haul several times, but for reasons of cost it’s always been cattle-class.  I don’t have a problem with flying, but I do have a problem with cramped conditions.  Flying long haul first class, and being able to do the journey in comfort, is the one “rich person” thing I’d love to be able to do.

Do you prefer to go to the cinema or theatre? 
That depends what I’m going to see.  My decision is based on the show itself, rather than the format.

Which do you prefer: comedy or true stories when watching a film? 
Comedy.  There’s far too much misery in the world as it is.

Do you have any pets? 

Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I was once sawn in half.

Thanks for visiting my blog Sue:)

It’s been a pleasure!

My friend Jo has written a review of The Ghostly Father 
you can read it here: Comet Babes Books

Friday, 18 July 2014

Not Quite Perfect Blog Tour - Annie Lyons

About the author...

Annie Lyons is the best-selling author of Not Quite Perfect (now available in paperback) and Not Quite Perfect Christmas (A Short Story). Her new novel Dear Lizzie is published by Carina and is available as an eBook.  

Author Links: Carina UK / Facebook / Twitter Goodreads

About the book...

Sometimes having it all isn’t enough…

Emma has everything she’s ever wanted. Her boyfriend’s just proposed and her career has finally taken off. And so what if her latest client just happens to be downright gorgeous? She’s getting married. Isn’t she?

Rachel’s married with 2.4 children (well, actually, 3) and life is all about trying to leave the house in a non-stained top. Once it was about skinny cappuccinos, cocktails and dynamic ad agency meetings. She wants her old life back, but can it ever be the same?

A sparkling, funny tale of two sisters and how often you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Win a copy for yourself here:-

#NotQuitePerfectBut blogging chain....

I received an email out of the blue with a quote from a fellow blogger, she had nominated me to be part of the #NotQuitePerfect blogging chain. I have to say I was touched and delighted to be nominated, I sat at my desk, thinking OMG, how lovely is that. I didn't hesitate and made my return nomination with ease.  I've always read books, that's my hobby period!!  I'm not creative or talented in any other way - except perhaps list writing :) but I love losing myself in a book.  Sometimes it's a gritty crime or psychological book, other times it's a lighter contemporary book - but the one thing I look for is a book with a message.  It could be something complex and deep or it could be something simple like friendship or the need for communication.  I have only blogged about books since last November, so only eight months and I'm so glad I started - I've made so many new friends, both fellow bloggers and authors - virtual and real.  I love it when someone says they're going to buy book, because of my review - sharing a passion, when someone appreciates the time I've taken to post my thoughts is totally fulfilling - but you see I'm #NotQuitePerfect because "whispering" I never read reviews until I've read the book myself.

Anyway the absolutely gorgeous, Sam Smith was my nomination.

Dawn to Samantha Bates: "You're #NotQuitePerfectBut you're always upbeat, positive and encouraging to everyone no matter what sort of day you are having yourself, thank you for your support, you're amazing".   

Come back next week when the competition ends my review will be here!!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Sophia's Secret - Julie Ryan

About the book...

This is the second book in the Greek Island Mystery series.  Although each book is intended to be read as a standalone, some of the characters from the first book, ‘Jennas’s Journey’, do make an appearance. 

Kat has never understood why she was sent at the age of seven from Greece to live in England with her Aunt Tigi. When she receives an email from her grandmother, the first contact in over twenty years, informing her of her mother’s death, she knows this could be her last chance to find out the truth. Little by little she finds out the shocking facts as her grandmother opens her heart.  It seems everyone has a secret to tell, not only her grandmother, as Manoli, her school friend, also harbours a guilty secret. Then there’s a twenty year old mystery to solve as well as a murder and what happened to the missing Church treasure?

About the author...

Julie was born and brought up in a mining village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. She graduated with a BA (hons) in French Language and Literature from Hull University. Since then she has lived and worked as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand. She now lives in rural Gloucestershire with her husband, son and a dippy cat with half a tail.  

She is so passionate about books that her collection is now threatening to outgrow her house, much to her husband’s annoyance!

She is the author of two novels set in Greece, “Jenna’s Journey” and “Sophia’s Secret” both part of the Greek Island Mystery series. She is currently working on a third book, ‘Pandora’s Prophecy.”

Author links: Facebook / Twitter / Blog
My thoughts...

I was given an ecopy of this book by Shaz at Fiction Addiction Book Tours in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give.

As soon as I saw the cover of this book I wanted to read this story, I've been to various greek islands and the cover reminded me of the endless, sunny days, lazing outside little taverna's with a meze and a bottle of wine.

This book is told in several parts the first sees Kat returning to Greece for her mothers funeral, a woman she hasn't seen or had contact with in over twenty years.  Kat was sent to England to live with her aunt, age seven.

I loved the way that almost from the first page Julie described life in England so typically, working closely with people yet not knowing anything about them.  Whereas life in Greece is far more close knit, both within the family and the community - everyone knowing your business before you know it yourself.

It's an emotional journey for Kat and she finds the family and friends she hasn't known for twenty years actually seem closer to her than her husband and friends back home.  I particularly loved the community spirit, so very typical of every Greek holiday I've ever known.

There are several mysteries, secrets, hurts and truths that unfold throughout this book, nothing is quite what it seems and life is unsettled by Kat's visit to Greece.  I particularly loved the way the present day chapters were vibrant and at times emotional, other times light and up-lifting - interspersed with the background to how Kat, her grandmother and in particular her childhood best friend have carried burdens over the years.  

Julie created characters that were realistic for the most part.  This isn't just a chic lit, set on a sunny isle, it digs deeper with a few 'bad un's" to despise as well.  It's about discovery, emotional development and acceptance.  As ever things become clearer and situations are resolved by communication.   

At the beginning of the book I was of the opinion that Kat was totally wronged and felt nothing but pity for her, not giving much thought to her grandmother.  Forgetting she'd been estranged from her family, from a grand-daughter she clearly adored, keeping secrets that should have been told years before.  Living with secrets is as hard as living without knowledge. A big lesson learned - communication is important, no matter how hard the truth.

But, not to spoil the story at all, it does have an ending to suit the lovely, sunny, uplifting book cover. I thoroughly enjoyed this read, it wasn't entirely what I was expecting but in a good way.  I want to read Jenna's Journey now.

I gave this book 5/5 stars