Friday, 31 October 2014

Appleby Farm - Cathy Bramley

Cover Reveal
Wow, I'm so pleased to be taking part in the cover reveal for Appleby Farm a four part series by the lovely Cathy Bramley. I think you'll all agree the covers are just beautiful and welcoming.  All four books are available for pre-order now, with the first out on 5th Feb 2015. Something truly gorgeous to look forward to.
What Cathy says about the books...
After I finished writing Ivy Lane earlier this year, my editor asked me if I’d consider a spin-off series, taking one character from Ivy Lane and plunging them into a new setting and a new story with perhaps a few surprise visits from some old friends from Ivy Lane. I thought this was a great idea and immediately set to work creating Appleby Farm, which I’m hoping readers of Ivy Lane will fall in love with.

It’s set in the glorious Lake District, an area I adore, and follows the story of a young woman and her fight to save the farm which has been in her family for generations. It features lots of wonderful people including a very attractive farmer on neighbouring Willow Farm, Vintage tearooms, a trip to Paris and a wedding. Appleby Farm will be published by Transworld in four monthly parts between February and May 2015 and they are all available to pre-order now!

The covers themselves have been designed by Kate Forrester, the same illustrator who drew my Ivy Lane covers and I think she has conjured up the warm and friendly farm set in the beautiful Lake District perfectly.

The link to part one on Amazon UK is

Sunday, 26 October 2014

An Interview with The Author of Precious Thing - Colette Mcbeth

About the book...
Remember the person you sat next to on your first day at school? Still your best friend? Or disappeared from your life for good?

Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last for ever. 

They met when Rachel was the new girl in class and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Now in their late twenties Rachel has everything while Clara's life is spiralling further out of control. Then Clara vanishes. 

Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you've shared together. The truth is always there. But only if you choose to see it.

About the author...
Colette started her career as a trainee reporter at The Journal in Newcastle before moving to the BBC where she was a news correspondent for 10 years.

She has reported on the One, Six and Ten O’Clock News and her record for talking live on air is 45 minutes non-stop. Throughout that time she promised herself she would write the story that had been swimming around in her head since she left university. In January 2011 she enrolled on the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course and began writing Precious Thing, finishing it on maternity leave with her third child.

Colette lives in West London with her husband and children and is currently writing her second novel. whilst she dreams of being beside the seaside

An interview...
Precious Thing has to be one of the best books I've read in many years.  I picked it up, devoured it in almost one sitting and haven't been able to forget about it since.  Read my review here! Her second novel The Life I left Behind is due out in January 2015 and I wanted all my blog readers who perhaps haven't read Precious Thing yet to get to know Colette a bit, read all about Precious Thing knowing full well if they pick up the book they'll be hooked like me and queueing up to pre-order The Life I Left Behind.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I always wanted to write but thought I needed a job so journalism seemed like the perfect fit. Then I found I loved the buzz of live TV so I spent another ten years in broadcasting. But Precious Thing was brewing in my head the whole time. In the end I had to start writing the story because the characters were getting so big they were bursting out of my head.
When I’m not writing stories I spend my time writing to do lists which I never, ever complete. I have three kids, spend my evenings collecting stray socks from under the sofa and looking at houses on Rightmove – I’m planning my move to the seaside. 
Before starting your working career you spent ‘a gap summer’ in Ibiza. Were you ever tempted to stay and what did you take from it?
Yes! I made some very good friends and one of them was running an event the following year and asked me to go back. By that time I was a trainee on a newspaper so I said no. Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like if I had stayed in that scene. Very different I imagine.  As for what I took from it, I had some amazing memories.  It really was a perfect summer. I was into music and clubbing at the time and I got to hang out with lots of people who I had been paying good money to see at clubs for years. I don’t think you can keep up that level of partying all year round though, not if you want to hang on to your sanity.  
You settled into working life and became a news correspondent, latterly with the BBC. During this time what was your greatest achievement?
That’s a tricky one. The stories you remember are the big ones and generally they are tragedies, murders or disasters so I wouldn’t call any of them an achievement. Instead I think you can  be proud of the way you reported on a story. I’d like to think I always remembered that there were real lives involved, families going through grief and sometimes unimaginable pain. One particular story that stays with me was the murder of five women who were working as prostitutes in Ipswich. That was a surreal time because the bodies were all found within two weeks of each other and you just didn’t know when it was going to end. But one of the issues that upset the families was that the women were always referred to as prostitutes first as if that was all they were and somehow their deaths didn’t matter as much. I always tried reminding people they were daughters and mothers and sisters too, not women defined by their jobs. 
After finishing your writing course, with the Faber Academy you were offered the chance to have the first few chapters of Precious Thing read not by one but 6 agents and you refused.
I did. I had polished a really small 90 second segment of the opening because that was what I was going to read to agents but the rest was a messy first draft. I didn’t want to send it out like in that state and give anyone an excuse to turn me down. I was also about to give birth to my third child so I told them I’d love to send it when it was ready. Six months later I did. That was how I got my agent. 
Taking a redundancy package and giving yourself three months to finish writing your novel was a gamble, what was plan b?
There wasn’t one! I always thought I would have to get a job but I was determined to finish the novel first. My husband had also taken redundancy at the same time so it was an interesting summer to say the least. But I maintain that it’s good to do things that scare you, and it certainly focused my mind. 
Precious Thing is about best friends, trust and obsession - where did you get your inspiration for this story-line?
It was Rachel’s character that came to me first, I was fascinated by her but she needed a close relationship as a foil. There was never any question of it being a boyfriend or a husband, it was always going to be her best friend. On some levels our female friends know us better than our partners. We can often be more open and honest and assume we’re on the same wave length, where as with boyfriends and husbands we accept there are some elements of their personality we will never grasp. In that sense the betrayal between female friends can be sharper, more devastating.
Obviously it helped that I had a very close group of female friends as a teenager so I was well aware of the dynamics and the power play and rivalries that come with being part of a clique of girls. What I did in Precious Thing was take that to the extreme. 
How much research into the locations and the psychology of the story lines was required to give realism to the novel?
It didn’t feel like a lot of research because it was done over years (I first had the idea for Precious Thing in 1998). My friend is also a clinical psychiatrist so we had several chats over wine about the personality traits of sociopaths so I was pretty confident in drawing the characters. Most of the story is set in Brighton, a city I know well very but I did go back and check out specific locations to make sure they were right. As for the TV side of things, I had spent a decade as a TV reporter so that part was a lot of fun, creating my own newsroom of dubious characters. I also wrote most of the first draft in quiet times in the BBC newsroom so all I had to do was look around me for inspiration. 
For me the story was compulsive and I developed an obsession of sorts, staying up half the night to read it. The story and characters stayed with me long after the end of the book. How easy was it for you to detach yourself once the book was finished? 
Thank you! It’s the best compliment when someone says they were still thinking about the book long after they finished it because that’s what I always wanted to achieve. I wrote the ending fairly quickly which was absolutely the right thing to do. I wanted that sense of pace and breathlessness but also it was quite difficult being in Rachel’s head towards the end. It wasn’t a healthy place to be.  I was wrung out afterwards and glad to escape but the hardest thing is letting go completely because you always know you could make it better with just another tweak. 
Describe the feeling when you held your first finished novel in your hands.
It was surreal, honestly, because you always think it won’t happen to you and that no one will want to read your novel.  In fact the most incredible time was when I found out I had got a book deal. I remember standing in a cafe waiting to be served and laughing to myself. The thing about writing is that every day you have this little voice in your head telling you not to bother, that it’s rubbish and you are wasting your time and somehow you have to learn to ignore it and tell the story you want to tell. So the book deal was vindication of that and it also meant  I could write full time. 
Your ‘jobs’ as both an author and a mother are each demanding in their own way. How do you juggle all the balls?
Badly! I know some people can be a full time mother and then write at night but I would find that impossible because I’m so exhausted by the end of the day. I write during the day when my sons are at school and my daughter is in nursery. But the hours pass too quickly and it’s always a bit of a race against the clock. Working at home also means you still have the washing and the Sainsbury’s shop to unpack when what you really need to do is write another 500 words. When I was trying to finish the second book I wished I could take myself off for a few weeks and not have to cook or referee fights or deal with bedtime because all I could think about was the story in my head. But they’re great kids and if I’m not the only mother who has to juggle so I need to stop moaning about it!
Do all of your friends expect free copies of your books and was having a novel published a bit like winning the lottery all your friends and acquaintances suddenly wanting to become your best friend?
I can honestly say all my friends have been amazing. They all bought books at my launch and then emailed me from their holidays to tell me how much they loved it. My mum friends at school have been wonderful too, they see me every day looking frazzled and they’re a great support. 
Your next novel ‘The Life I Left Behind’ is due out in Jan 15, what can you tell us about it?
It’s about two women, Melody and Eve, who were attacked by the same man years apart. Melody survived but feels dead inside and Eve was murdered. The story is told from their alternating points of view. As Melody begins to pick over her past in order to find the truth she develops a bond with Eve– a bit like a friendship beyond the grave – and realises that although she’s dead she’s the only person who can teach her how to live again.  
Now for a little bit of fun, a glimpse at the 
real Colette McBeth:-
What’s your favourite tipple? 
Rose in the summertime. 
Do you prefer savoury or sweet things? 
Crisps are my downfall.
Friends coming round - cook or get a take-away? 
Offer to cook and then wish I had got a take-away.
Do you prefer hot or cold climates? 
Hot every time. 
Do you prefer a beach holiday or city break?
Beach holiday.
Which would you prefer luxury cruise or fly long haul first class? 
Fly first class. I have an irrational fear of large boats. 
Do you prefer to go to the cinema or theatre? 
Either would be lovely, I rarely have the time these days. 
Which do you prefer comedy or true stories when watching a film?
Do you have any pets?
No but my kids are working on it. 
Tell us something we don’t know about you?
Country and Western music is my guilty pleasure. 
Huge thanks to Colette for visiting my blog and answering a few nosy questions.  If you want to order either ~ Precious Thing or The Life I Left behind you can do so below.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Beneath the Moon and Stars - Amelia Thorne

About the book...
Home, sweet home…
Joy Cartier has been to some of the most beautiful places in the world – but none of them have ever felt like home. So moving into a tiny cottage in the idyllic village of Bramble Hill, walking distance from her childhood home, seems like the perfect plan.
That is, until she gets there. The surly inhabitants of Britain’s Friendliest Village are anything but welcoming. Even her neighbour, reclusive Hollywood star Finn Mackenzie, takes one look at her and walks in the other direction.

But when the village animosity steps up a gear, it is the infuriatingly brooding Finn who keeps coming to her rescue. Slowly Joy begins to realise that maybe a happy home isn’t about where you live, but who you’re with…

My thoughts…
I was given an ecopy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review something I’m more than happy to do.

Firstly, lets talk about the cover for Beneath the Moon and Stars - it’s simply gorgeous, so bright and inviting, willing you to pick it out. It was exactly what I needed with all greyness from the dingy mornings and evenings we’re starting to have.  I read the prologue to the book and was instantly intrigued.  There was clearly going to be more to this story than I first thought from reading the synopsis.

We’re introduced to Joy Cartier the main character in this book in shall we say an unconventional way, swiftly fast forwarding to moving day when she and her brother are moving her into a cottage she has rented in Bramble Hill, a village not far from her childhood home.

This is Amelia’s debut novel and she has given us characters that are intriguing and different.  Each one having their own story and background that is slowly revealed throughout the book Finn, Zach and Casey the first villagers Joy meets all have stories that intertwine with hers throughout the book, each of them needing rescuing in different ways.  It is instantly clear that Joy is more than a little bit clumsy, things just seem to happen when she’s around, she manages to rub people up the wrong way but her vulnerability, loving nature and heart of gold shine out alongside pride, determination and a little bit of stubbornness.

It was apparent very early on that Joy was looking for somewhere to settle, to put down some roots having not managed it in any of the previous places she’d lived - and there’d been a few!  She was sure that Bramble Hill would be the place but within a day of arriving in the village she managed to get the heckles of the locals up, yet managed to gain support from an unlikely source.

This book is not simply a romantic, chick lit read. It is funny and emotional and also has a pinch of crime and mystery too.  Amelia drip feeds information throughout the story at a pace that is just perfect.  At times it is hilarious, I laughed out loud on several occasions and often sat smiling like the village idiot.  At other times I groaned and cursed at the characters and then a chapter later I found myself willing a happy ending for the very same people.  Beneath the Moon and Stars has many twists and turns that left me second guessing, not always correctly I might add.  

Something that Amelia has done with panache is to create characters that evoke feelings, this is only possible when an author has developed rounded characters with depth that aren’t superficial or unnecessary to the plot.  I truly loved this debut novel of Amelia Thorne’s and look forward to reading more in the future.  It is a book that is perfect for a lazy afternoon, curled up on the sofa whilst the rain lashes at the windows. I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking a bit of lighthearted escapism.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Seaside Hearts - Melissa Foster

About the book...
SEASIDE HEARTS by Melissa Foster
Seaside Summers, Book Two
Jenna Ward is vivacious, spontaneous, and confident—except when she’s around the man who stole her heart years earlier, strikingly handsome, quiet, and reliable Pete Lacroux. After years of trying to get his attention and overwhelmed from dealing with her mother’s new cougar lifestyle, Jenna’s giving up on Peter—and is ready to explore other men.
As the eldest of five siblings, with an alcoholic father to care for, boat craftsman Pete Lacroux always does the right thing and has no time for a real relationship. He’s looking forward to seeing his friend Jenna, a welcome distraction who’s so damn sexy and so painfully shy that she equally entertains and confuses him.

When Jenna picks up a hard-bodied construction worker, jealousy ignites Pete’s true feelings, and he’s powerless to ignore the desires for Jenna he never realized he had.  But Pete’s not the quiet guy he appears to be, and his life is anything but conducive to a relationship. Can Jenna handle the real Pete Lacroux—the sexiest, most passionate alpha male she’s ever seen—or will she crack under pressure? And can Pete reclaim the life he once had without tearing apart his family?
Buy Links

About the author...
Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the  World Literary CafĂ© and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine. 
Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.
Visit Melissa on social media. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.
Authors Links

Monday, 20 October 2014

One Hundred Christmas Proposals - Holly Martin

Cover Reveal

The eagerly anticipated follow-up to One Hundred Proposals.

If you thought Harry & Suzie’s life couldn't get anymore sweepingly romantic than Harry asking her to marry him at the end of One Hundred Proposals – think again!

It’s Christmas in a snow-kissed London, and have vowed to carry out one hundred proposals in December. No easy task at the best of times - made even more complicated by Harry & Suzie trying to plan their first Christmas and a visit from the dreaded in-laws. But one hundred deliciously Christmassy proposals later they find themselves asking if everything is still perfect in their own relationship….

Welcome back to the divinely warm world of One Hundred Proposals – with a sprinkling of pure, joyful, festive magic.

Have yourself a very merry Christmas indeed with Holly Martin’s Christmas novella. Available 3rd November - pre-order now!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Beneath the Moon and the Stars - Amelia Thorne

Beneath the Moon and the Stars by Amelia Thorne is out now.  
Home, sweet home…
Joy Cartier has been to some of the most beautiful places in the world – but none of them have ever felt like home. So moving into a tiny cottage in the idyllic village of Bramble Hill, walking distance from her childhood home, seems like the perfect plan.

That is, until she gets there. The surly inhabitants of Britain’s Friendliest Village are anything but welcoming. Even her neighbour, reclusive Hollywood star Finn Mackenzie, takes one look at her and walks in the other direction.

But when the village animosity steps up a gear, it is the infuriatingly brooding Finn who keeps coming to her rescue. Slowly Joy begins to realise that maybe a happy home isn’t about where you live, but who you’re with…

 To celebrate the launch Amelia has a fab prize bundle to giveaway.  You could win these gorgeous hand carved wooden necklaces, a £15 iTunes voucher and a £50 theatre ticket voucher.

All you have to do is copy one of the pre-prepared tweets below, tweet it and you’ll automatically be entered into the draw to win this prize bundle.  The more you tweet, the more times you’ll be entered.
You can even make up your own tweet about the book, just as long as it has the book link to amazon, ( the hashtag #BeneathTheMoon and Amelia’s Twitter name @Amelia_Writes in the tweet you’ll be entered into the draw.  

The competition will run until midnight (UK time) on Sunday 26th October and the winner will be announced on Tuesday 28th October so plenty of time for tweeting.  Every time you tweet, you’ll be entered into the draw.

Good Luck
Beneath The Moon and the Stars by @Amelia_Writes is out now, a gorgeous story of love, friendship and secrets
Beneath the Moon and the Stars by @Amelia_Writes has it all; beautiful men,a feisty heroine and a gorgeous lovestory
Beneath the Moon and the Stars by @Amelia_Writes has it all; 3 gorgeous men,2 adorable dogs, 1 beautiful love story
Beneath the Moon and the Stars by @Amelia_Writes is a gorgeous story of love, secrets and misguided revenge
Beneath the Moon and the Stars by @Amelia_Writes has secrets, revenge, a diamond thief & a beautiful love story
Beneath the Moon and the Stars by @Amelia_Writes has 3 gorgeous men, 2 weddings and a whole heap load of secrets

Friday, 17 October 2014

Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake - Sue Watson

About the book...

For Tamsin Angel, Christmas is always the biggest and best... chic parties and a little showbiz sparkle are a must. This year though, things aren’t going quite as planned...
With bailiffs suddenly at the door and her husband nowhere to be found, it looks like Christmas just got downsized. Moving into her sister’s one-bedroom flat, she wonders whether things will ever be the same again.

After losing her husband on Christmas Eve, Sam Angel has rebuilt her life around her son Jacob and her new business – The White Angel Bakery. She’s also found herself a very handsome, loving boyfriend, but is struggling to let go of the past.

Thrown together with a sprinkle of Christmas magic, Sam and Tamsin might just learn a little more about each other – and themselves. But when disaster strikes at the bakery, will they be able to save the day in time for Christmas? 

Christmas - tick. Cake - tick. Laughs - tick, tick, tick.

Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake is a truly heart-warming and hilarious read about sisters, love and finding the courage to be yourself – one snowflake at a time. 

About the author...

Sue Watson was a TV Producer with the BBC who combined motherhood and family life with a busy career. However, one day it dawned on Sue that Cosmo magazine may have been telling porkies about 'having it all,' and her life had become a slightly crazed juggling act.

So after much soul searching (and comfort eating) Sue abandoned her TV career, bought a pink laptop and wrote a novel. Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes, became a Kindle bestseller.

Originally from Manchester, Sue now lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Worcestershire. When she's not toiling over her latest novel, Sue can be found enjoying large bags of chicken crisps, huge tubs of Caramel Chew Chew ice cream while watching 'The Biggest Loser USA'. 

My thoughts...
I was given an ecopy of this book by Kim at Bookouture in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give.  If anyone read Sue's last book Love, Lies & Lemon Cake you'll know how much I was looking forward to this book.

This book revolves around Tamsin and Sam, two sisters who are outwardly living two totally different lives but when the veneer is stripped away they both share some very similar qualities and ideals.

Tamsin is moving in high circles, with a very polished act which she secretly hopes her 'friends' can't quite match.  Sam on the other hand is living a very simple life trying to rebuild her life after husband's death and establish her bakery business, by keeping her self to herself and working like a demon.

The two girls couldn't really have been more different.  From their personalities  to their clothes and even their coffee!! Despite their differences when Tamsin's upper crust world starts to crumble after a visit from the bailiffs Sam steps up to the mark to support her in trying to salvage and rebuild her life.  Sue takes us on a journey of discovery with both girls lives interspersed with secrets.  Each ending up with an almost complete role reversal.

This book demonstrates exquisitely how events in our childhood can and do shape the adults we become.  Tamsin, as older sister protected Sam from the real version of how their childhood really was, and continued to do so into her adulthood.  She became larger than life, wanting to be the best, to be noticed and admired - this was at odds with her sister who lacked confidence and wanted to blend into the background.  All of this is turned on its head and Tamsin retreats into herself leaving Sam with no choice but to step up and take charge.

I loved the role reversal, each sister moving out of their comfort zone, situations pushing them to be people they weren't.  Emotions run high at times as Sam becomes the stronger, bossier sister - trying to coax Tamsin into action when all that Tamsin really wanted to do was curl up, hide from the world and drink coffee. 

This book explores love, trust, friendship, confidence, loyalty and support.  Knowing when to give and when to take.  Two sisters and an eclectic mix of friends, family and acquaintances go on a journey with often hilarious results.  Much of it caused by fashion faux pars and Mrs J, the cleaner come busybody.  Help and support for both Sam and Tamsin comes from unexpected places.  But, for me Tamsin was my favourite character she fell from her lofty perch, was nurtured and pandered to until, when the time was right she literally rose from the ashes like a phoenix to save Sam.  It was just beautiful to watch her character grow once the polish was removed.

Sam and Tamsin both prove that when the chips are down - family and good friends really are all that you need.  All of this was delivered with love, cake - that  I literally could taste and a few snow angels.  I can confirm that lying in the snow, making snow angels is the perfect antidote to a stressful day - I'd highly recommend it, along with the coffee and cake you'll need after it to recover from the cold.

Sue's books keep getting better and better, the bar raised a little higher each time - I highly recommend you go out and order a copy of this book and indulge yourself. A truly beautiful read, thank you.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Ivy Lane Part 3 - Cathy Bramley

About the book...
Trust blooms at Ivy Lane . . .

Life at Ivy Lane allotments is as hectic as always. With crops to harvest and weeds to tackle, Tilly is busier than ever, but she can never resist chatting with Alf, an elderly widower with top-notch turnips and many a story to tell.

When the announcement of a young offenders project sends waves of suspicion through the allotment, Alf and Tilly must persuade Ivy Lane to trust the newly arrived teenagers . . . but what secrets is Tilly keeping to herself?

With best friend Gemma to support her, Tilly must face up to her difficult memories and finally reveal what happened to change her life for ever. But can she open her heart to love at the Hallowe'en party?

Ivy Lane is a serialised novel told in four parts.

About the author...

After four years of flinging herself round the dance floors of Nottingham's nightspots, British author Cathy Bramley somehow managed to get an honours degree in business.
She then plunged herself into the corporate world of marketing, working on high-powered projects such as testing the firing range of SuperSoaker water guns and perfecting the weeing action of Tiny Tears until deciding in 1995 to set up her own marketing agency.

She now lives in an idyllic Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog called Pearl.

You can get in touch with Cathy via her website or her Facebook page
My thoughts...
Cathy certainly knows how to reel in an audience.  Ivy Lane is set in and around an allotment and is told in four parts just like the seasons - spring  summer, autumn & winter   Each part gives you not quite enough or just the right amount depending on how you look at it.  I'm impatient so feel frustrated when each of the books end - I was left just desperate for the next instalment and trying to second guess what would happen next.

Part 3 was just like visiting old friends - Cathy has developed characters that are highly imaginable and feel to me like real people.  Tilly Parker the main character in Ivy Lane has developed and blossomed as I've read each of the books. It is so very apt of Cathy to centre the story around an allotment when things grow with love and care.  Just like Tilly with all the love and support of her new friends on the allotments.  Tilly has very much kept her cards close to her chest as to how and why she has ended up in Ivy Lane but this book sees Tilly's story un-ravel but not before we see her character flounder a little.

The TV company comes back to show a preview of the series they filmed, a young offenders project begins on the allotments and let me just say  that Tilly's confidence takes a bashing, jealousies arise, advice is given and new beginnings are forged.

Confidences are shared and Tilly reveals her past - it's clearly a huge relief to her to finally share her secrets and release the weight that she has been carrying around with her.  This was a slightly more serious part with many differing emotions on display.  There were still plenty of moments that had me laughing, smiling and groaning out loud though, imagining the antics going on, in and around the allotments   Even when displaying her serious side Tilly still manages to make me smile - there is a vulnerability and dippy side that just makes me want to hug her and say bless! Cathy has once again managed to wrap a bit of magic around me with Ivy Lane part 3 - leaving me yet again dangling with the ending!!

I'm left in two minds.  I am desperate to read the final part 3, winter  yet sad because I don't want it to end.  This has been a truly beautiful book that tackles very serious subjects in a sensitive way, along with a much needed dollop of humour and good fun to brighten up the grey evenings.

I urge you all to go out and buy Ivy Lane, parts 1, 2 & 3 and pre-order part 4 now!!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Perfect Girl - Michelle Gorman

About the book...
Cinderella meets Falling Down in this wickedly funny tale about having it all

Carol is perfect… at least that’s what everyone thinks. In reality she’s sinking fast – her family treats her like their personal assistant and her boyfriend is so busy with work that he’s got her single-handedly running their relationship. Not that her job is any easier. As the only woman on the bank’s trading floor she spends twelve-hour days trying not to get sworn at or felt up by colleagues who put the "W" in banker.

How long can she go on pleasing everyone else before she snaps and loses it all?

With humour and empathy, Perfect Girl lays bare the balancing act that working women face in a man's world

Amazon US: / Amazon UK:

About the author...
I write romantic comedy, including SINGLE IN THE CITY (the first in The Expat Diaries series) and BELLA SUMMER TAKES A CHANCE. Born and raised in the US, I lost my heart to London 16 years ago, where I've lived ever since. I've also turned my hand to upmarket commercial fiction under the pen name Jamie Scott. 

I spend way too much time on twitter and Facebook when I should be writing, so please come say hello there.

I'm @expatdiaries on twitter, and we can connect on facebook through

My thoughts...
I received an ecopy of this book from Notting Hill Press in exchange for an honest review which I am more than happy to give.

The cover should really have given the game way  - 'girl on a tight rope, juggling balls'.  That pretty much sums up Carol's life.  She has so many balls in the air at any one time it was heart stopping reading when I actually thought about it.

The main character Carol was working in a male dominated job and quite clearly being took for granted by everyone close to her. Her boyfriend, sister and family have no real concept of how busy her own life is and expect her to drop everything to pick up the pieces of their lives on a whim. She literally is at their beck and call.

This book has a bit of everything - a huge helping of reality, lots of humour and some romance.  I defy anyone not to relate to Carol in some way - either because we are like her in some way or we know someone like her. She's a salt of the earth character who finds it difficult to say no.  Every time somebody takes her for granted or expects her to drop everything to do something for them a little bit of her soul is chipped away until something has to give.  Sink or swim were the only options - it was obvious to me Carol would be a swimmer but wasn't quite sure what would push her to fight back.

The fact that Carol comes across as weak was clearly not in sink with the important job she held as an analyst for a bank.  The pluck and fight she must have gone through to get the job is what I kept looking for whenever she was put upon by her family. It had to come through at some point and Carol gets support in unexpected places when she needs it most.

Her family, including her surrogate sister Zoe, a student lodger her mother had kind of adopted, provide hilarious situations and one liners that had me laughing out loud. I couldn't help but like them despite the fact they were often the ones at the root of Carol's problems. Not to mention the elusive boyfriend or the stick she got at work.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was a lovely read which I read almost in one sitting - yes Carol frustrated me at times.  I wanted to give her a shake and tell her to stand up for herself but I was hooked in by all the drama - the book has some hilarious and ridiculous moments that had me laughing out loud. I shall look forward to the next offering from Michelle with impatience.

A Christmas to Remember - Jenny Hale

About the book...
Everyone loves Christmas... don’t they?

Carrie Blake loves her job as a nanny but, while her friends are settling down, all of Carrie’s spare time is spent with other people’s families. Though it breaks her heart, her New Year’s resolution is to embark on a new career and fix her love life.

As Carrie starts her last job, she’s sure she’ll be going out on a high – the house is amazing, the kids are adorable, and she’s in charge of decorating the tree! The only problem could be her boss... single-dad Adam Fletcher might be both handsome and successful, but he’s always working. Doesn’t he realise he’s missing out on precious moments with his son and daughter?

As Adam’s family arrive for Christmas including his sensitive sister, Sharon, and his fun-loving elderly Grandpa, Walter, Carrie realises that she might just have found the perfect allies in her quest to persuade Adam to loosen up. There’s still time for Carrie to make this the best Christmas ever... after all, Christmas is the time for miracles, isn’t it? Let the festivities begin! 

About the author...
When she graduated college, one of Jenny's friends said "Look out for this one; she's going to be an author one day". Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn't until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to her.

Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can't. Whilst she didn't start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children and hundreds of thousands of words later, Jenny finished her first novel.

Coming Home for Christmas went on to be a Kindle hit on both sides of the Atlantic - reaching the top 20 in the UK.  Visit her at: 

My thoughts...
I was given an ecopy of this book by Kim at Bookouture in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give.  Kim really knows what books I like and I always trust her choices.  Who could say no to a Christmas book, it has to be the best time of year for me.

The main character Carrie is a hugely successful nanny who has reached the point in her career where she has decided she needs to take control of her own life and plan for a family of her own and a fresh career.  This was to be her last nannying post intending to get a grip with a fresh start in the new year.

Christmas brings its own memories to each of us but for most I'd say warmth, smells, home, family and friends would evoke quite a strong image.  Carrie is introduced to The Fletcher household and finds none of the above, despite the fact that it's only a couple of weeks to christmas.  Adam, the father is a work-a-holic with only very part time care for his children since his divorce from their mother, hence the need for a nanny and has made no plans at all for Christmas.

I took an instant liking to Carrie who despite her experience and confidence knowing how to interact with children wasn't so confident asserting herself with other adults. She has serious confidence and anxiety issues - relying on self help books to get her through each day, yet when the need arose she managed to go in guns blazing, then worried about the consequences afterwards.

Carrie used to helping children with different problems and situations seems to confidently know how to get Adam's children Olivia and David on side.  Their father was a different matter. She was troubled from the outset by the lack of interaction between the children and Adam.  Carrie has confidence issues when moved out of her comfort zone, yet despite this goes back time and time again to confront Adam to try and get him to understand what he's missing by not spending time with his children.

Support unexpectedly comes in the form of Adams family who come to stay for the holidays, quickly enveloping Carrie into their fold but unbeknown to her bring their own set of issues and opinions too.  Each and every character was someone I wanted to know more about - from Joyce, Adam's mother who draws her family around her with home cooking, to Walter, Adam's grandfather, who sees everything and dispenses wise words when needed.

This is a truly magical book and was so beautifully written, bringing together trust, confidence, love and family to iron out the creases.  Many situations were made worse by the various characters being backed into a corner but time and honest talk - not always welcomed though, resulted in eyes being opened and obstacles eventually flattened.

There is some romance thrown in for good measure but not when you expect it.  Like most readers I like to second guess what is going to happen but Jenny threw a few curve balls to throw me off course.  This is a book of discovery and growth for more than a couple of the characters and I thoroughly enjoyed taking their journey with them.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a happy ending but in a book that isn't all predictable. I so wish Adam's mother Joyce would have added a few of her recipes to the end of the book - I was left planning for Christmas and wishing we had a little more snow in England.

Thank you Jenny for such a beautiful read which had me hooked from the very first page.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Chronicles of a Lincoln Park Fashionista - Aven Ellis

About the book...
Recent college graduate Avery Andrews is ready to begin a new life in the big city. She’s landed an apartment in Chicago’s famed Lincoln Park neighbourhood and has her eye on the cute commodities trader just a floor above.
If Premier Airlines knew about her fear of flying, they never would have hired her to be their marketing assistant—but it’s not like Avery wants a lifelong career. Right now she simply wants a job to pay her bills…and fund a few little shopping excursions, too. 
Her new lifestyle comes with a price tag, as Avery is not only faced with paying a ridiculous rent but finds she’s perceived as one of the vacant, husband-hunting fashionistas who live in the area. Avery resents this stereotype—so she doesn’t want a lifelong career, and she loves fashions she can’t afford, but that doesn’t mean she is empty-headed and spoiled, does it? 
When an opportunity to participate in a documentary at work arises, Avery finds a two-fold solution to her problems. She’ll earn extra money for it, and the documentary will show her as a serious career woman, enabling her to shed that husband-hunting fashionista label for good. 
When the camera is on, Avery attempts to be a motivated professional woman. But when she is challenged by Deacon Ryan, the videographer assigned to cover her story, Avery finds herself wanting things she was never supposed to want—like a lasting career—and Deacon. And Avery might just gain more from the experience than a perfect career image and extra cash to put in her Tory Burch wallet…


About the author...
Aven Ellis has been writing fiction since she was sixteen. She studied communications at a large Midwestern university, and after graduation, Aven worked as a reporter for a community newspaper, followed by a stint at a public relations agency.
But writing about city council meetings and restaurant franchises was not as much fun as writing for young women trying to figure out their careers and potential boyfriends. So Aven got herself a job in television that allowed her to write at night.  Connectivity is Aven’s debut novel. Waiting For Prince Harry was published in April 2014.  
Aven lives in Dallas with her family. When she is not writing, Aven enjoys shopping, cooking, connecting with friends on social media, and watching any show that features Gordon Ramsay.
 Author Links

My thoughts...
I was given an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour organised by JB Johnston at Brook Cottage Books.  It gives me immense pleasure to be part of this tour as Aven has to be one of the kindest, most generous hearted authors I've had the pleasure to meet through blogging and tweeting.

The story centres around Avery, just out of college living in the famed, Lincoln Park area of Chicago whilst working as a marketing assistant for an airline. On the surface she appears to be living a quite shallow life - spending more than she earns on clothes, not having enough money to pay the rent and living for celebrity gossip.  

As part of a documentary being made about the company she works for Avery as a newish employee is to be filmed for the show.  Deacon Ryan is commissioned as the camera man to shadow her both at work and at home living her life.

Let us just say that numerous opinions are formed by both Avery and Deacon about each other and also about and by the colleagues and friends that Avery mixes with on a day to day basis.

A book about self discovery, finding trust, confidence and love along the way makes for a lovely read.  It is a romance novel that makes you aahh a bit but, just like in real life it isn't a straight forward path. With every turn of the page another layer was uncovered ensuring my opinions of both Avery and Deacon changed many times throughout the book.  It just goes to show appearances can be deceptive and although first impressions count sometimes interpreting them from a different angle gives a totally different impression. From the outset both appeared to be confident, carefree characters who knew their own minds and destiny and were happy with their lot.  As the story develops this image becomes a little different....

I loved how and without realising it, they fought in each others corner, giving each other the confidence and security to take on challenges that alone they wouldn't even have considered.  At the same time a beautiful friendship developed taking me the reader along with it - always a good sign when I find myself rooting for the characters, willing them to say and do what I think they should!

This book shows that sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zone and put ourselves out there, to stand tall and conquer our fears and most of all it's always ok to be ourselves! Thank you Aven for a thoroughly enjoyable read.