Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Opposite of Maybe - Maddie Dawson

About the book… 
Jonathan and Rosie have been together so long they finish each other’s sentences so when he (finally) proposes and asks her to move across the country with him, everyone is happily surprised.

But when things suddenly unravel, Rosie sends Jonathan packing and moves back home with Soapie, the irascible, opinionated grandmother who raised her. Only now she has to figure out how to fire Soapie’s very unsuitable caregiver, a gardener named Tony who lets her drink martinis, smoke, and cheat at Scrabble.

It’s a temporary break, of course—until Rosie realizes she’s accidentally pregnant at 44, completely unequipped for motherhood, and worse, may be falling in love with the sentimental, troubled Tony, whose life is even more muddled than hers. 

It’s not until Rosie learns the truth about her mother’s tragic story that she wonders if sometimes you have to let go of your fears, trusting that the big-hearted, messy life that awaits you may just be the one you were meant to live.

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About the author… 
Maddie grew up in the South, born into a family of outrageous storytellers - the kind of storytellers who would sit on the dock by the lake in the evening and claim that everything they say is THE absolute truth, like, stack-of-Bibles true. The more outlandish the story, the more it likely it was to be true. Or so they said.

Her various careers are a substitute English teacher, department store clerk, medical records typist, waitress, cat-sitter, wedding invitation company receptionist, nanny, daycare worker, electrocardiogram technician, and Taco Bell taco-maker were only bearable if I could think up stories as I worked.

Today she lives in Connecticut, and spends part of every day on her screened-in back porch with her trusty laptop, writing and writing and writing, looking out at the willow tree and the rosebush and the rhododendron that has a nice nest of cardinals, who she imagines to be yelling at her to get back to work whenever she waits too long to write the next sentence.

Contact Links: 
Visit the author website

My thoughts…
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  I lwas drawn to the front cover and synopsis and the book didn't disappoint.

Rosie the main character has lived with her partner Jonathan for fifteen years. At first they both seem to be happy with their lot but very early on you get the impression that Rosie in particular is looking for and in fact needs more. Life is just ambling along. Their mutual friends and family seem to know them better than they do themselves with Jonathan and to a lesser degree Rosie being the butt of their jokes.  Things are often going to happen but.....

I hadn't previously read anything by Maddie Dawson and was impressed with the way she wove the characters in and out of the book. Building upon the emotions and characters with each chapter.  Just when I thought I'd got it all sussed, Maddie added a bit more depth to the character and I had to re-think. This isn't a straight forward story but one of discovery for most of the characters and my personal opinion of them changed several times throughout the book. 

If you want to laugh and cry and at times think deeply this is for you - It wasn't all predictable and lovely, it was just like real life - things don't always happen in the way or, at the time we want them to. 

I've found an author that I look forward to seeking out again - so a big thank you Maddie Dawson.

A Christmas Wish - Carole Matthews

About the book…
Last year, Hannah's Christmas was full of love, happiness and romance. Things couldn't be more different this Christmas. Broken-hearted and lonely, Hannah wishes she could be happy and in love again but she is struggling to find even a glimmer of her old festive spirit. Luckily for her, there's some Christmas magic in the air . . . 

A Christmas Wish is a heart-warming ebook exclusive short story that will make you a firm believer in the power of Christmas. So take twenty minutes for yourself and indulge yourself in this romantic and festive tale.  

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About the author… 
Born in St Helens, Merseyside, Carole Matthews is a successful and popular British author who is famous for her romantic comedy novels. She has published 23 novels and has appeared on the Sunday Times and USA Today bestsellers lists and her books, Welcome To The Real World and Wrapped up in You have both made the shortlist for the Romantic Novelists' Association Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Her 4th book For Better, For Worse, was picked in summer 2002 for a TV book club pick in America, Reading with Ripa, on the show Live with Regis and Kelly. She has sold over 4.0 million books worldwide and is published in more than 30 countries. Her books have sold to Hollywood. She has had more than 2 million library lends in the UK since she started writing.

In 2011 she was inducted into the Festival of Romance Hall of Fame for her outstanding contribution to romance writing

Contact Links: 
Visit author website

My thoughts…
What a beautiful short story this was.  Carole Matthews unfailingly delivers uplifting books that leave you wanting more and this short story was no exception.

It's the festive season and Hannah is just not feeling it. Everything is an effort. Last year without any warning signs she was suddenly dumped. This was such a surprise to her after spending a wonderful New Year's Eve with Mitchell. 

She finds herself drawn back to a place that had happy memories she'd shared with Mitchell, although this time you can feel the sadness enveloping her as he begins a painful journey reliving those memories. Ending when she is greeted by Father Christmas.  Does he grant her wish, to regain those happy memories? 

You'll have to read it for yourself to find out,  you won't be disappointed - I highly recommend you grab a coffee and settle down for a little bit of Christmas magic.

The Christmas Bake Off - Abby Clements

About the book… 
A fun and festive short story from Abby Clements. 

With Christmas just around the corner, the residents of Skipley village are gearing up for the annual bake off, and tensions are high. 

Winning means a lot to everyone involved – talented cake-shop owner Katie dreams of baking stardom, Rachel wants to prove she's more than a stay-at-home mum, and John hopes his culinary skills will impress the woman he loves. 

But when the judges discover that some cakes have been tampered with, the villagers' loyalties are called into question - whose ambition would stretch to sabotage, and why?

The Christmas Bake Off is an exclusive taster from the author of Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. The ebook edition also includes bonus recipes for cinnamon cookies and vanilla and almond biscuits.

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About the author… 
Abby Clements worked in book publishing before turning to writing. Her Christmas baking skills are upper-intermediate. Her countryside-survival skills are basic to none. She lives with her boyfriend in North London.

My thoughts…
Having previously read Meet Me Under The Mistletoe I knew I'd like this book. Pre-Christmas is a mad time both at work and at home so short stories just hit the spot when I have only 20 mins or so for a sit down and a cup of coffee. This book has all the right ingredients for a lovely feel good break.

Abby's descriptions of the entrants to the 'bake-off' competition are fantastic. In such a short book I could clearly visualise both the people and the settings. Anyone who has ever lived in a village will probably be able to relate to each and every one of them.
She's clearly a very talented writer to give us so many ingredients in such a short sitting.  Christmas, cakes, love, mystery and intrigue - what more could you ask for? To top it all the story is not predictable at all and has a couple of surprises.
A must read for anyone seeking a little slice of festiveness to put you in the mood, on top of that a couple of lovely recipes to try out for yourself at the back of the book

Wish Upon A Star - Trisha Ashley

About the book… 
The perfect gift isn’t always under the tree…

Single mum Cally’s life is all about her little girl Stella. She’s resigned to the fact that the only romance she’s going to get is from the rom-coms she watches, and with her busy job and her daughter, she doesn’t have time to even think about love.

But life gets very tough when Stella gets sick. Balancing her job as a recipe writer and looking after Stella is all consuming, so when Cally meets handsome baker Jago the last thing she wants to do is fall in love, especially when she’s been badly burned by a Prince Charming from her past.

Can laid-back, charming Jago unlock Cally’s frozen heart and help her find true love and magic under the mistletoe?

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About the author…
Trisha Ashley is the author of eleven contemporary romantic comedies, and her latest novel, a reprint of Good Husband Material, was her fourth consecutive Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller. Her novels have twice been shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan award for Romantic Comedy and Every Woman for Herself was nominated by readers as one of the top three romantic novels of the last fifty years. She is from St Helens in West Lancashire, and believes her typically dark Lancashire sense of humour, crossed with a good dose of Celtic creativity from her Welsh grandmother, have made her what she is today...whatever that is. Four of her novels are set in rural West Lancashire and three in Wales. They frequently explore aspects of the three F's that are a constant in her own life: Food, Flowers and Friendship.

Nowadays she lives in North Wales, together with the neurotic Border Collie foisted onto her by her student son, and a very chancy Muse.

Contact Links:
Visit author website 

My thoughts…
I've read almost every book written by the lovely Trisha Ashley so I don't even read the synopsis anymore - I just know they're going to be good and she didn't let me down with this one.

This book initially sparked my interest when reading daily tweets about the North Wales sky on twitter. I didn't know there was so many ways to describe the sky! When Trisha had internet problems I really missed my daily updates.

This book has it all - a thoroughly good read, that touches your heart and at the same time is uplifting and yummy.   Al that cake - oh how I wish I could bake!  The descriptions are so good I'm almost convinced I could pull it off and make something edible for once.

Stella, a three year old with a serious heart defect needs an urgent operation if she is going to have a chance of survival. It can only be performed in America and even then it's not 100% guaranteed to succeed.  Cally, her mother begins the mammoth task of raising the funds by selling her London home and moving back to Sticklepond to live with her mother. But she still has a long way to go before they'll have enough money to make the trip.

This book epitomises village/community spirit - everyone pulling together to help one of their own, despite the fact Cally has only been living in the village two minutes and her mother has had her own reasons for not playing a bigger part in village life.

I laughed and cried whilst reading this book.  I particularly loved the way that Cally is so focused on Stella she can't really see what's under her nose. It really is a heart warming story that yes, perhaps you can predict which way the plot is going at times but that makes it better somehow.  I was rooting for Stella and Cally and the further I got into the story the faster I read wanting to know if my predictions were right. It's not all straight forward though and there are a few unexpected turns that had me crossing my fingers and silently praying.  It's all down to the wonderful ability of Trisha Ashley to describe things so vividly and in such a way I could picture the scenario as if I was there! 

I highly recommend you bag the sofa, grab a coffee and some cake and read this book soon!

The Parisian Christmas Bake Off - Jenny Oliver

About the book…
Welcome to the most celebrated patisserie competition in Paris – ready, steady, bake!

Watching snowflakes settle on the Eiffel Tower, Rachel Smithson’s cosy English village feels very far way – as, thankfully, does her commitment-phobic ex, probably already kissing someone else under the mistletoe. But Rachel hasn’t come to Paris to mope she’s come to bake. Hard.

Because the search for Paris’s next patisserie apprentice is about to begin! And super-chef judge Henri Salernes is an infamously tough cookie. But Rachel isn’t about to let her confidence (or pastry) crumble. She’s got one week, mounds of melt-in-the-mouth macaroons and towers of perfect profiteroles to prove that she really is a star baker.

As well as clouds of flour, and wafts of chocolate and cinnamon, there’s definitely a touch of Christmas magic in the air… Rachel hasn’t come to Paris looking for a fairy-tale romance, but the city of love might gift-wrap her one anyway…

Not even a dusting of icing sugar could make The Parisian Christmas Bake-Off a more perfect Christmas treat!

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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. This time the inspiration was her addiction to macaroons, the belief she can cook them and an all-consuming love of Christmas. When the decorations go up in October, that’s fine with her!

My thoughts…
I had an e-copy of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review. I loved the sound of the book and it didn't disappoint. What a lovely read. The only problem with this book is the desire to dash out and buy cakes. I could feel myself gaining weight with every page turn of the page.

Rachel is working as a teacher, a job she enjoys and hasn't baked since her mum died. It was a shared passion and she can't bring herself to do it alone. Her friends have other ideas though and send her off to Paris to enter a bake-off competition - they know her better than she does herself it seems.

Arriving in Paris for a competition she didnt want to enter with the prospect of a xmas alone didn't instil much happiness for me. So it was lovely to watch Rachel's character change throughout the book. Gaining confidence with every new challenge presented to her. It really is an excellent, pre-christmas, feel good book and Jenny certainly got the mix right. Delicious sights and sounds of the most romantic city in the world, girl meets boy, delicious food with a sprinkling of snow.

I'll definitely be looking out for more books by Jenny Oliver and recommend this book to anyone wanting a tasty little read - you don't have to be a cake maker to enjoy this book!!

The Wedding Countdown - Ruth Sabberton

About the book… 
Parents know best, but sometimes daughters know better… 

Mills Ali has her dream job writing for an Asian magazine and a social life busier than the London rush hour. Everything's pretty good except for the husband sized shadow looming on the horizon. With a year’s countdown to her arranged marriage, Mills is on a mission. A firm believer in true love, she's determined to choose her own husband. Just how hard can it be to find the perfect suitor? Surely London’s Muslim dating scene is teeming with eligible young men? She's bound to find her soul mate. Isn't she? 

With a fast encroaching deadline Mills can't waste time. As she embarks on the search to find him, she's convinced her soul mate can't be too far away. But is he closer than she thinks? Or do her parents know best after all? 

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!  

Contact Links: 
Author website 

My thoughts…
Wow! Where to start.  Ruth offered me an e-copy of this book in return for an honest review. It gives me great pleasure to say it was brilliant.  

Many people dismiss chick-lit as having no substance but often, as was the case with this book, you learn so much.  I have been fortunate enough to have attended an Asian wedding and have experienced first hand the generousity and vibrancy that Ruth managed to portray so well in her book. For me Mills Ali the main character is brilliant. I felt every emotion that she felt - I laughed out loud and cried with her all the way through the book. By the end I felt she could have been someone I knew personally.  

Mills is a typical young adult who feels stifled by her family, who actually understand her better than she realises.  With the help of her mother she persuades her father to let her pursue her ambition to become a journalist and sets off to work on a magazine in London for twelve months - what she doesn't tell them is that she's also going to spend the year finding her own future husband to avoid the marriage her parents have arranged for her to a groom she's never met!

At the heart of the novel is the strong message of personal, cultural and family values which were different for Mills and her western friends but amounted to the same thing - respect! Ruth managed to weave the exotic Pakistani culture into this book in such a way I could see and taste the exotic Eastern clothes and food.  She managed this in a typical, laugh out loud chick-lit style whilst respectfully conveying the difficulties and emotional struggles faced by young Muslim women living in a modern, western, society. 

It's a very modern book which I highly recommend to any chick lit lover.  Ruth Saberton is an author to sit up and take notice of - thank you.

Melting Ms Frost - Kat Black

About the book… 
How do you thaw the coldest of hearts? Find out in the sexiest romance to hit the shelves this year.

When Aidan Flynn walks into Cluny’s Restaurant, he can’t take his eyes off his new boss, Annabel Frost. With his heart set on winning her over, Aidan can think of nothing but getting beneath her cold exterior.

Known as one of the toughest women in the business, Annabel is impervious to Aidan’s many charms. His compelling grey gaze and persuasive Irish lilt do anything but captivate her.

But Aidan senses there’s more to Annabel than meets the eye. And he’s not going to stop until he reveals all…

A seductive tale that will delight all fans of romance.

Buy Links:

About the author… 
Kat Black is the author of prize-winning, pulse-pounding, adult fiction. Born and raised in Australia, Kat was labelled a daydreamer from a young age – but never quite understood why that was considered to be a bad thing.

At eighteen she donned her backpack in typical Aussie fashion and set out to see the world. She got as far as London (her very first port of call) before running into a six-foot-one, solid British obstacle that stopped her in her tracks. Years later she’s still in England, penning steamy tales to help counteract the effects of the infamous weather, and enjoying plenty of adventures with her husband and children.

Contact Links: 
Website for Kat Black

My thoughts…
This was a book on my really would like to read wish list.  I loved the cover and the blurb so when Leah was looking for someone to read it for a review I jumped at the chance. I wasn’t however, prepared for the amount of erotism.  It wasn’t my usual read and although I enjoyed parts of the book and developed a huge liking for Annabel as she opened up showing her vulnerability which was well hidden behind her frosty nature I wouldn’t be in a hurry to read a book of this genre again.

Frost by name, frost by nature - or is she? 

Annabel Frost the manager of the upmarket, London restaurant Cluny’s goes to great lengths to protect herself, she doesn’t want to end up like her mother who trusted and was badly let down by the man in her life.  She let him take control, he cleaned her out and left her with nothing - no self respect, no home, no money.

Just like her name, at work she has perfected and uses a frosty, ice-queen like persona. Terrifying the staff with just a look. She comes across as hard and unapproachable, that is until she meets the new head bar man Aidan Flynn - sparks fly from the very first meeting.

Aiden uses his Irish charm to get under Annabel’s skin - delighting in her discomfort.  He seems to be able to see under the veneer and pecks away at the many layers that mask her character until he eventually gets to the real Annabel. The fact that she threatened him with the sack but never actually followed through gave him encouragement to push her further and further. It’s like a game of cat and mouse.  Just when you think Aiden is going to move in for the kill he allows Annabel  to take some control and backs off.

The sexual chemistry between the two fizzed from almost the first page and it was easy to predict what would eventually happen between Aiden and Annabel, it did however take much longer to reach that point than I thought it would. Kat Black has to be applauded, I could feel the tension crackling between the two at every encounter. Nobody it seems is exactly what you see, the many layers were broken down to reveal two characters whose pasts had shaped their present.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed this book in the end. The beginning of the book was quite a shocker - as probably the only female who hasn’t read ’50 Shades of Grey’ I was quite un - prepared for the erotism. But, it was lovely to see Annabel eventually give her trust to someone. A very well - written book which if ‘romantic erotica’ is your thing I’d highly recommend you read.