Page Links

Home      About      Reviews      Contact     

31 August 2013

September 2013 releases to look forward to! (Part 2)

As I already let all of you know in my previous post, September 2013 has many great releases in store for us. So, don't feel too bad about the upcoming end of the summer, because no matter the weather... A good book can make any day just that bit brighter! :)

Amanda Brooke - 'Another Way to Fall' (12th of September 2013)

What would you do if you could write the story of your life?

After battling a brain tumour twenty-nine year old Emma thinks she is in the clear, but her world comes crashing down around her when she is told her fight was in vain, and there is nothing more the doctors can do.

Realising that she won’t now have time to achieve the things she dreamed of, Emma decides to write her perfect life in a story. She imagines all the things she would have done, the places she would have seen, the husband she would have shared her life with and the family they would have raised. And, mysteriously, as she writes her story, she starts to notice that some of her dreams seem to be coming true.

Now with a real love in her life, and her fading hope burning brighter, reality and fiction start to become blurred. As she writes their life-long love story Emma dares to believe that anything is possible, but can she really change her fate?

Why so excited? --> For the past couple of weeks, I've been hearing lots of things about Amanda Brooke's upcoming release, 'Another Way to Fall', and it has got me quite excited! I adore the cover of the novel, the blue is gorgeous and I love the overall design of it. However, the blurb has also definitely caught my attention. I think all of us recognise the feeling of dreaming about a perfect life, and the idea of writing a story down and it then becoming reality... I'm quite curious to find out what is going to happen to Emma and her story!

Sarah Webb - The Memory Box (12th of September 2013)

Pandora Schuster is about to turn thirty but that’s the least of her worries. In Dublin she has just been tested for a hereditary family illness and, expecting the worst, is desperate for her ex-boyfriend and father of nine-year-old Iris to be a part of her daughter’s life. There are two major problems: Olivier Huppert lives in Paris and he has no idea that Iris even exists. So when Pandora secretly tries to find Olivier during her Parisian birthday weekend, it all ends in disaster.

As the agonising weeks until her test results crawl by, Pandora manages to find some distraction with her kind and sensible boyfriend, Declan, and with her fellow Shoestring Club members as they time-share a fabulous new designer dress. Yet matters of the heart are not easily forgotten and Pandora is determined for Iris to know the truth about her handsome, charismatic father. So she creates a memory box filled with photos, letters and mementoes of the magical time she spent with Olivier in Paris.

But when the past and the present start to collide Pandora finds herself having to choose between her head and her heart...

Why so excited? --> I love the sound of 'The Memory Box'! As soon as I read the blurb I already found myself wondering what Pandora's test results will tell her and whether she will be able to contact her daughter's father, Oliver. It already seems like this novel has all the necessary ingredients to make it a thoroughly enjoyable read, even including a touch of the fabulous city of Paris, so I can't wait to read this!

Emylia Hall - 'A Heart Bent Out of Shape' (12th of September 2013)

For Hadley Dunn, life so far has been uneventful - no great loves, no searing losses. But that's before she decides to spend a year studying in the glittering Swiss city of Lausanne, a place that feels alive with promise. Here Hadley meets Kristina, a beautiful but elusive Danish girl, and the two quickly form the strongest of bonds. Yet one November night, as the first snows of winter arrive, tragedy strikes.

Hadley, left reeling and guilt-stricken, beings to lean on the only other person to whom she feels close, her American Literature professor Joel Wilson. But as the pair try to uncover the truth of what happened that night, their tentative friendship heads into forbidden territory. And before long a line is irrevocably crossed, everything changes, and two already complicated lives take an even more dangerous course...

Why so excited? --> I'm one of the lucky people who received a review copy of 'A Heart Bent Out of Shape' and I'm really looking forward to reading it! The story sounds quite mysterious, and I'm already intrigued by the tragedy that has gripped Hadley. I really enjoy switching between genres every now and again, and I can't wait to get stuck into a bit of suspense like this novel promises!

Nicholas Sparks - 'The Longest Ride' (24th of September 2013)

Ira Levinson is in trouble. At ninety-one years old, in poor health and alone in the world, he finds himself stranded on an isolated embankment after a car crash. Suffering multiple injuries, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes and comes into focus beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together – how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can’t possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.

A few miles away, at a local rodeo, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward -- even life and death – loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans -- a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he’s keeping doesn’t destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.  

Why so excited? --> I am a really big fan of Nicholas Sparks' novels. His love stories are amazing and I think all of you will be familiar with at least one of them, also thanks to the great film adaptations that have been made (The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, The Lucky One, The Last Song). I'm so excited we are treated to a new novel next month, I can't wait! Ira, Ruth, Sophia and Luke sound like a collection of fascinating characters and I'm looking forward to reading more about them and the way they are connected to one another!

Ernessa T. Carter - 'The Awesome Girl's Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men' (24th of September 2013)

Four women. Two years. A friendship to last a lifetime.
The only things that Sharita, Thursday, Risa, and Tammy have in common are their disastrous love lives. But the year three of them turn 30 will be different, they swear!

Sharita, a plump and conservative accountant wants to make partner at her firm and find the man of her dreams. Thursday, the daughter of a formerly chart-topping political rapper, wants to stop being a serial one-month stander, and settle down into a stable life with a stable boyfriend. Risa, a skinny and audacious electronica punk rocker, wants to finally land an album deal, which she feels is the only way to win back the heart of her on-again of off-again closeted girlfriend. And after getting fired as the spokesmodel for her family’s hair company, sweet and gorgeous Tammy wants to prove that she has what it takes to make it on her own.

None of these women get what they want, but over the course of two years, they get exactly what they need. And that proves to be the best thing after all.

Why so excited? --> 'The Awesome Girl's Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men' has an awesome title, a great cover, and a blurb that has already got me excited! I really enjoy stories about groups of friends, and Sharita, Thursday, Risa and Tammy already sound like a great collection of characters. A book that seems perfect for all the chick lit fans out there!

Abby Clements - 'Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream' (26th of September 2013)

Amelia has a dream: toasting chestnuts by the fire with her husband Jack in their own cosy cottage. Their real life is another world - a cramped one-bedroom flat in Hackney. But when life takes a surprising turn, removal vans are soon heading to the Kent countryside.

They soon realise the cottage makeover is a far bigger project than they'd anticipated. On top of that, there's Amelia's newly loved-up mum and her tearaway half-sister, Mirabel, to contend with - pushing Amelia and Jack's marriage to breaking point.

Amelia begins to strip back the wallpaper and fittings in the cottage and discovers the story of the cottage's previous owner - and a hidden secret. As Amelia's ideas about love and family change, will her fireside dream finally come true?

Why so excited? --> I think most of you will have read or heard about Abby Clements' May 2013 release, 'Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop', and if you have, you will most likely be excited about this upcoming release! Abby Clements is treating us to another fabulous book this year, and 'Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream' sounds like the ideal Autumn read, if you ask me! 

Which September novels will you be picking up in the upcoming weeks? Happy reading!

30 August 2013

September 2013 releases to look forward to! (Part 1)

Even though some of you are lucky enough to still be on holiday, or might even have a last-minute weekend away booked, summer is slowly coming to an end! September is almost upon us, which means Autumn isn't too far away. I'm already looking forward to sitting inside, getting comfortable on the couch with a warm blanket, a cup of tea, and a good novel! When it comes to books, September has plenty to offer, so be sure to have a look at these upcoming releases and add the ones you like the sound of to your to-read list!


Emily Liebert - 'You Knew Me When' (3rd of September 2013)

When Katherine Hill receives word of an inheritance from former neighbor Luella Hancock, she reluctantly returns home to the people and places she left behind. Hoping for a second chance, she’s met by an unforgiving Laney, her former best friend. And there’s someone else who’s moved on without her—someone she once loved. Tethered to their shared inheritance of Luella’s sprawling Victorian mansion, Katherine and Laney are forced to address their long-standing grudges. Through this, they come to understand that while life has taken them in different directions, ultimately the bonds of friendship and sisterhood still bind them together. But are some wounds too old and deep to mend?
  
Why so excited? --> Emily Liebert's debut novel 'You Knew Me When' is released on the 3rd of September, and this is a release I've been excited about for quite some time. I was lucky enough to receive a review copy and absolutely loved it. Katherine and Laney are great characters, and the story made me just want to keep on reading, while at the same time I didn't want it to finish. Definitely pick up this novel as soon as you can, you won't be disappointed!

Sue Margolis - 'Coming Clean' (3rd of September 2013)

Eleven years ago, Sophie and Greg couldn’t get enough of each other. A pair of full-time jobs and two kids later, they’re in therapy asking themselves where all the sexy times went. Sophie thinks she knows: They’re buried under Greg’s mess. And even though her slob of a husband tries to make up for his shortcomings by cooking the occasional meal, Sophie is left to clean umpteen dirty dishes.

The last straw is when Greg uses some inheritance money to buy a World War II Sherman tank, which starts World War III in their marriage.

Sophie doesn’t so much surrender as retreat—right out of the relationship. While Greg almost immediately shacks up with someone else, Sophie finds herself facing even more uncertainty due to a job reorganization. And even though she begins to lose her heart to a high school crush, Sophie starts to realize that a shiny new relationship doesn’t always offer the softest place to fall…and she may find self-acceptance and love in the place she least expects it.

Why so excited? --> I'm not familiar with Sue Margolis' work, but I've read and heard that her novels are 'wickedly funny'. The blurb already shows traces of this, and I am quite curious to find out more about Sophie and Greg, and their own World War III!

Victoria Fox - 'Glittering Fortunes' (6th of September 2013)

Charlie Lomax hasn’t seen his brother in years. Cato’s been too busy living the A-list Hollywood dream to bother with the likes of a small Cornish town. But now he’s back. Hollywood and British aristocracy are about to clash, as Cato sets out to claim the Lomax legacy he believes is his birthright.

Unsuspecting Olivia needs a job after spectacularly failing to make a life for herself in London. Forced back to Cornwall, she has no idea what she's letting herself in for by becoming a gardener at the crumbling but beautiful Usherwood estate.

She certainly didn’t bargain on becoming embroiled in the biggest scandal of the year, and not least because the brooding Charlie is a man she can’t seem to stay away from…

Why so excited? --> I love the glamour and scandal of Victoria Fox's novels, and it sounds like 'Glittering Fortunes' definitely fits those two keywords! The clash of Hollywood and British aristocracy sounds fabulous, and I'm looking forward to reading more about Charlie and Cato, and the Usherwood estate (already love the sound of this)!

Amy Silver - 'The Reunion' (12th of September 2013)

They thought they'd be friends forever.

Jen, Andrew, Lilah, Natalie and Dan were inseparable at university, but in the seventeen years since they left they have hardly seen each other. Until Jen invites them all to stay at her house in the French Alps. The house where they once spent a golden summer before tragedy tore them apart.

When a snowstorm descends, they find themselves trapped and forced to confront their unresolved issues, frustrated passions and broken friendships. And as relationships shift and marriages flounder, the truth about what really happened years before is slowly revealed. And Jen realises that perhaps some wounds can never be healed...

Why so excited? --> I just love the cover of 'The Reunion' and I think it fits the story very well, from what I can gather from the blurb. I am intrigued by the idea of these four university friends, getting together again after seventeen years, to see what has changed and what might still be the same. I'm already looking forward to finding out more about these characters and the storyline!

Jane Green - 'Tempting Fate' (12th of September 2013)

When Gabby first met Elliott she knew he was the man for her. In twenty years of marriage she has never doubted her love for him - even when he refused to give her the one thing she still wants most of all. But now their two daughters are growing up Gabby feels that time and her youth are slipping away. For the first time in her life she is restless. And then she meets Matt...

Intoxicated by the way this young, handsome and successful man makes her feel, Gabby is momentarily blind to what she stands to lose on this dangerous path. And in one reckless moment she destroys all that she holds dear.

Consumed by regret, Gabby does everything she can to repair the home she has broken. But are some betrayals too great to forgive?

Why so excited? --> Is there a reason not to be excited about a new Jane Green novel?! Most chick lit fans will be familiar with Jane Green and her work, and will understand why I'm really looking forward to picking up my own copy of this novel! Gorgeous cover, fascinating blurb, and a handsome male character named Matt (a name I've always had a particular weakness for)... I can't wait!

Wendy Holden - 'Gifted and Talented' (12th of September 2013)

It's the new university term among the dreaming spires. The start of a whole new life.

Meet Isabel, beautiful, clever, shy - and leaving home for the first time. Meet Olly, recently graduated, idealistic and a little hopeless, a man whose heart leads his brain and for whom opportunity just hasn't come knocking - yet. Meet Amber, the It girl who is soon partying with the fast set - and no-one is faster than Jasper de Borchy, glamorous leader of the notorious Bullinger club. Meet the grown-ups: Diana, recently divorced mother-of-one, newly arrived in town to take up a post as college gardener - and Richard, the new college head, a widower, a scientist, and as lonely as some of the specimens he captures in his science lab.

The rich, the poor, the shy, the extrovert, the givers, the takers. Meet the Gifted and Talented.

Why so excited? --> It was love at first sight for me as soon as I saw this cover on Amazon. Isn't it stunning?! I almost wouldn't even care what the book is about with a cover like that and Wendy Holden's name on it! However, the blurb luckily doesn't disappoint either, so I am thoroughly looking forward to this!

Melissa Hill - 'The Guest List' (12th of September 2013)

When funny, kind and gorgeous Shane proposes, Cara is over the moon, and can't wait to share the news of their engagement with all their friends and family.

Excitement, however, quickly turns to apprehension when it seems that everyone has a fixed idea of the perfect wedding and offers to 'help' with the planning. With tussles over the ceremony and the size of the guest list, sibling rivalry and insistent in-laws-to-be, Cara can see the vision she has of her big day being ripped to shreds.

So she and Shane determine to make a stand and do things their way. But when they announce their plans for a beach wedding on a beautiful Caribbean island, there is uproar. Threats are made, family secrets are revealed, and things turn decidedly stormy.

Will Cara and Shane manage to overcome all obstacles? Or will their dream wedding turn into a nightmare?

Why so excited? --> To those of you who visit my blog often, this cover might seem familiar. That's because the hardback version of 'The Guest List' was one of my April 2013 picks, but I couldn't help but pay some attention to the paperback release as well! Melissa Hill is one of my favourite chick lit authors and I can't wait to pick up a copy of this gorgeous novel in September!

Be sure to keep an eye on the blog for more upcoming September 2013 releases!

28 August 2013

Review: 'Finding Justice' by Rachel Brimble (2013)

Sergeant Cat Forrester lives by her own set of rules. When her childhood friend is murdered, Cat's world is thrown into chaos. Especially because Jay Garrett—a man from her past—is a suspect, and he needs her help to prove he's innocent. After all they once shared, how can she say no?

The attraction flares between them, and getting involved with a suspect is a huge risk. But the more time Cat spends with Jay, the stronger the tug on her heart. He is the same caring, irresistible man she remembers. Yet she can't let her emotions interfere with the case—solving it is top priority. And as she digs deeper, she discovers Jay has secrets that may jeopardize any possible future together.

Almost every chick lit or romance fan has heard of Harlequin novels; small pocket books with a romantic tale inside. Over the past few decades, these books have been immensely popular and have obtained a particular status. ‘Harlequin’ is often automatically associated with book covers with a half-naked handsome man staring longingly at a beautiful woman, and it’s been said that these novels are really about the romance, not the plotline. When Rachel Brimble contacted me about reviewing her debut novel ‘Finding Justice’, part of the Harlequin Super Romance series, I was curious to try my first Harlequin novel. The blurb promised an appealing and entertaining story, and as a sucker for everything to do with romance, a Harlequin novel couldn’t possibly disappoint, right?
 
 
Cat Forrester works as a police officer; a job she obviously has a strong passion for and does well. From the outside, Cat presents herself as a strong and independent woman, but behind this front, she is dealing with some heavy emotional baggage. When she was younger, her father was killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. Since his death, Cat’s mother has turned to alcohol herself in order to deal with her own heartache. Because of these circumstances, Cat was forced to make some important decisions in her life, including leaving her best friend Sarah and first love Jay behind. Out of the blue, Cat receives a phone call: Sarah has been murdered and Jay is one of the main suspects. Suddenly, Cat finds herself travelling back to Templeton Cove to track down the person who killed her best friend. She knows she can’t let her emotions interfere with the case, but as soon as she sees Jay again, old feelings come back to the surface...

I was surprise to find out this is actually Rachel Brimble’s debut novel. She has a great writing style that flows naturally and keeps the reader interested. I liked the storyline (I loved the fact that there was a murder mystery to solve, something to keep me wondering and guessing) and the characters (Cat is a strong and independent woman, and seeing how she acts around the charming and kind Jay, re-discovering her feelings for him, was great). In a way, it reminded me a bit of the TV show ‘Castle’ (which I love), which focuses on a strong-minded female police officer called Kate Beckett, a character which Cat Forrester definitely reminded me of.

As soon as I sat down with this novel, I was taken in by the story and managed to forget everything around me. Even though the story deals with a murder investigation, it was a truly relaxing and enjoyable read. The mix of romance with the element of suspense and a touch of mystery was great, and I think that is what makes the Harlequin Super Romance series really interesting for any fans of romance who haven’t picked up a Harlequin novel before. The basic recipe for a romance tale is there, but combined with a bigger storyline and a dose of intrigue. I definitely will be picking up other Harlequin Super Romance novels in the future, and I really hope people who will read this will also give the genre a chance. Next to that, I also can’t wait to read more of Rachel Brimble’s work; a promising new author on the scene!

Rating:8/10
 

27 August 2013

September 2013 release: 'You Knew Me When' by Emily Liebert

 
Best friends forever… until life got in the way. Katherine Hill left her small New England hometown in pursuit of a dream. Now, twelve years later, she’s a high-powered cosmetics executive in Manhattan and a much glossier version of her former self, unrecognizable to her family and old friends. Not that she would know—she hasn’t been home in over a decade.

Laney Marten always swore she’d never get "stuck” in Manchester, Vermont. No, she was destined to live out her glamorous big-city dreams. Instead, she wound up a young wife and mother. That was when her best friend ran out.

When Katherine receives word of an inheritance from former neighbor Luella Hancock, she reluctantly returns home to the people and places she left behind. Hoping for a second chance, she’s met by an unforgiving Laney, her former best friend. And there’s someone else who’s moved on without her—someone she once loved.

Tethered to their shared inheritance of Luella’s sprawling Victorian mansion, Katherine and Laney are forced to address their long-standing grudges. Through this, they come to understand that while life has taken them in different directions, ultimately the bonds of friendship and sisterhood still bind them together. But are some wounds too old and deep to mend?

September has lots of amazing releases in store for us, but one of the novels I am personally most excited about is Emily Liebert's 'You Knew Me When.' I love tales about best friends, and Laney and Katherine's friendship already intrigues me! I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of this book, and I can tell you it's fabulous! Keep an eye on the blog for a review of 'You Knew Me When' and an exclusive interview with Emily Liebert, both coming in September!
 
Be sure to pre-order your own copy now on Amazon by clicking here!  
 
 

26 August 2013

Review: 'The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe' by Mary Simses (2013)

A high-powered Manhattan attorney finds love, purpose, and the promise of a simpler life in her grandmother's hometown.

Ellen Branford is going to fulfill her grandmother's dying wish--to find the hometown boy she once loved, and give him her last letter. Ellen leaves Manhattan and her Kennedy-esque fiance for Beacon, Maine. What should be a one-day trip is quickly complicated when she almost drowns in the chilly bay and is saved by a local carpenter. The rescue turns Ellen into something of a local celebrity, which may or may not help her unravel the past her grandmother labored to keep hidden. As she learns about her grandmother and herself, it becomes clear that a 24-hour visit to Beacon may never be enough.

As soon as I pulled my review copy of ‘The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and CafĂ©’ by new author Mary Simses out of the envelope (thanks to the lovely people at Headline!), I couldn’t wait to start reading it (and it was also the start of a serious craving for blueberry muffins). It’s always great to discover new writers, and after finding out other people were saying Mary Simses’s work reminds of Nicholas Sparks (one of my favourite romance novelists of all time), I already had a feeling this debut novel would not disappoint! 

Ellen Branford has it all: she’s a successful lawyer, lives in the always exciting city of New York, and in a few months she will be married to her handsome fiancĂ© Hayden. However, unexpectedly Ellen finds herself in the small town of Beacon in Maine, on a mission to fulfil her late grandmother’s last wish: delivering a letter with an apology to her teenage sweetheart. Ellen thinks it will just be a short trip, but when she falls through a dock and is saved from the water by local carpenter Roy, all kinds of unforeseen things happen. Soon, Ellen realises she might need a bit more time in Beacon to not only discover what her grandmother had been hiding from her family from years, but also to discover what she wants to do with her own life.

I couldn’t help but fall in love with the descriptions in this novel. Mary Simses really manages to create beautiful places and images with her words, and in my head I could easily picture the small town of Beacon with its local pub, Ellen’s grandmother painting, and I could almost smell the freshly baked blueberry muffins. The touches of romance and nostalgia in the book are fantastic, and they really made the reading experience even better for me. I do understand why people compare this novel to Nicholas Sparks’ work, because he can do the exact same thing with his writing and it’s a quality not all authors possess.

The plot is not too original and in places a bit predictable, but this didn’t spoil the story for me one bit. There were even some small twists and turns I personally did not see coming. ‘The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe’ is, true to its title, an irresistible novel to those readers who love a romantic and nostalgic story they can get lost in. A truly delightful and warm debut novel by Mary Simses, and I’m already looking forward to her next one!  

Rating:8,5/10

20 August 2013

Review: 'Casting the Net - Volume 1' by Julie McDowall

Anyone who's dabbled with internet dating has a story to tell, but few can tell them with as much wit and honesty as Julie McDowall.

Her online dating blog became an instant sensation on HeraldScotland.com when she charted her bizarre and hilarious experiences in search of the perfect man. Or at least a man who wasn't a total freak. Or, failing that, a freak who was freaky in the right ways...

Now for the first time CASTING THE NET - VOLUME 1 presents the unexpurgated true story of her ongoing quest for love, including all the material deemed unfit for a family newspaper. Join the eloquent and intrepid McDowall as she tackles The Janny, The Accountant, The Comedian, Foxy Doctor, the inimitable Shug -- and her ultimate nemesis, The Clown.

When I received a review request for Julie McDowall's 'Casting the Net', at first I wasn't sure whether this book would be something for me. I hardly ever read any non-fiction and I'm also not a big fan of columns or anything of the like. However, the fact that the book describes Julie's adventures in the world of online dating straight away sparked my interest. I've never tried online dating myself, but I think it is something people in the modern day and age are fascinated by, and I felt myself wanting to read about the experiences of someone who actually tried it. So, as soon as a review copy fell onto my doormat I added it to my to-read pile, looking forward to picking up my first non-fiction review copy!

'Casting the Net' is the first volume of two in which author Julie McDowall shares her experiences with internet dating. At the start of the book, Julie breaks up with her horrible boyfriend who loves alcohol a bit too much, and is forced to move in with her grandmother. After a short period of time, she finds a new place of her own, but also decides that she needs to get back in the field and start dating again. Internet dating offers an interesting and exciting opportunity, after hearing positive things from her friends, and this is where Julie's journey begins. Different men come into the picture, including a janitor, an accountant and a clown (yes, really), as the reader joins Julie on her quest to find the perfect man.

'Casting the Net' is a book that isn't very long (about 200 pages) and incredibly easy to read; I managed to finish it in one day, on my train journeys from and to work. I specifically admired Julie's guts to actually try internet dating, giving all these different kinds of men a chance by going on a date with them, and then sharing her experiences with the world. She isn't embarrassed and completely honest; she's willing to actually write down the things most of us only dare to think after going on a date with someone. Julie McDowall shares her experiences with all of us, and she doesn't even do it anonymous, so I definitely applaud her for that.  

The book is slightly darker than a regular chick lit novel, but this also gives it a realistic edge to it. I have to say that sometimes it felt more like fiction than non-fiction to me; some aspects of the book, including some of the characters, really had a fictional feel to them, which resulted in me reading the book like it was fiction, instead of a true story. Julie's experiences didn't make me laugh out loud, but I can certainly imagine that other readers find it thoroughly entertaining. I'm quite curious to find out who Julie will eventually end up with, so I would probably read Volume 2 to see what is going to happen. Overall, an interesting non-fiction account of a woman's adventures within the world of Internet dating, fitting to the modern day and age, and based on true life, which I think many readers will enjoy!

Rating:7/10

19 August 2013

October 2013 release: 'Take a Look at Me Now' by Miranda Dickinson


How far would you go to make a new start?
 
When Nell’s on-off boyfriend Aidan calls her into his office, losing her job is the last thing she expects.
 
Heartbroken and unemployed to boot, she makes a radical decision to blow her redundancy cheque and escape to the untested waters of San Francisco.

But is the glamour of the city too good to be true? And can Nell leave her past behind?

Like many other chick lit fans out there, I absolutely love Miranda Dickinson's novels! I fell in love with the cover of 'Welcome to my World' when I saw it lying in a book shop a couple of years ago, and ever since I read it I've been a huge fan of Miranda's novels. She has a wonderful writing style and her books always inspire me. So, obviously, I can't wait until her next novel, which will be released in October! Last week the cover of 'Take a Look at Me Now' was revealed, and it has managed to get me even more excited about this upcoming release! October can't come soon enough!

Click here to pre-order your own copy on Amazon now!

14 August 2013

Review: 'Longbourn' by Jo Baker (2013)

Pride and Prejudice was only half the story...

If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.

In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.


The year 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s famous classic love story ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ The publication of Jo Baker’s novel ‘Longbourn’ was specially timed for this occasion, and as a Jane Austen fan I had been looking forward to this book for quite some time. When some of the first reviews started popping up online, I was contacted by the lovely Alison Barrow with the question if I was interested in a review copy of ‘Longbourn.’ Obviously, I was over the moon and I couldn’t wait to start reading to see what Jo Baker had decided to do with one of my favourite love stories of all time.

The Longbourn estate automatically reminds us of the Bennet family in Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, but in this novel we get to take a trip downstairs, to find out the stories behind the servants working at Longbourn. There’s Sarah, a hard-working young woman who has been part of the Longbourn household since she was a little girl; Mr. and Mrs. Hill, young Polly and the new footman, James. It’s not entirely clear where James has come from, and Sarah isn’t sure what to think of him. However, she unexpectedly starts to develop feelings for him and suddenly all kinds of things start happening downstairs, which the Bennet family have no idea of…

With this novel, Jo Baker has managed to add a complete new mix of engaging and fascinating characters to ‘Pride and Prejudice’. I love the fact that with this book the reader gets a chance to find out about the things going on below the stairs of the Bennet estate. There are hidden secrets, traces of love and deceit, longing and wishes… Just like any other family, which is what this group of servants really feels like: a family. Jo Baker manages to capture and explain the emotions of these characters perfectly, which is something I really enjoyed. I am also glad the author did not decide to imitate Austen’s writing style; this is a modern novel, and a story on itself. I’d recommend readers to first read ‘Pride and Prejudice’, just because it makes the reading experience a touch more special, but you can also read this novel without any prior knowledge of Austen’s tale.

When I started reading ‘Longbourn’, I felt myself waiting for scenes in which Elizabeth, Jane, or Darcy would make an appearance. However, after reading about 50 pages I was so engrossed in Sarah’s story, I completely forgot about the original ‘Pride and Prejudice’ characters. It was actually quite refreshing to see a different (slightly clueless and ignorant) side of them. I don’t think every Austen fan will be able to appreciate this novel, because Jo Baker has really given it her own twist and added some quite controversial details. However, I personally really enjoyed this opportunity to look at ‘Pride and Prejudice’ from a completely different and fascinating perspective, and I expect that every time I’ll read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in the future I will think of the servants standing in the shadows of almost every single scene. ‘Longbourn’ is an engaging and original novel that provides readers with a fascinating look into the downstairs world of Austen’s most famous tale, and one that once again proves that there are always two sides to every story.

Rating:8/10

13 August 2013

September 2013 release: 'The Longest Ride' by Nicholas Sparks


Ira Levinson is in trouble. At ninety-one years old, in poor health and alone in the world, he finds himself stranded on an isolated embankment after a car crash. Suffering multiple injuries, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes and comes into focus beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together – how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can’t possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.

A few miles away, at a local rodeo, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward -- even life and death – loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans -- a future that Luke has the power to rewrite... if the secret he’s keeping doesn’t destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.

I am a really big fan of Nicholas Sparks' novels. His love stories are amazing and I think all of you will be familiar with at least one of them, also thanks to the great film adaptations that have been made (The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, The Lucky One, The Last Song). I'm so excited we are treated to a new novel next month, I can't wait! Ira, Ruth, Sophia and Luke sound like a collection of fascinating characters and I'm looking forward to reading more about them and the way they are connected to one another. Be sure to pick up your own copy of 'The Longest Ride', available from the 17th of September!

Click here to pre-order your copy now via Amazon!
 

12 August 2013

Review: 'The Jane Austen Marriage Manual' by Kim Izzo (2012)

Katherine Shaw—Kate— is happy with her life. She has supportive friends, a glamorous magazine career, and a love of all things Jane Austen. But when she loses her job, her beloved grandmother falls ill and a financial disaster forces a sale on the family home, Kate finds herself facing a crisis that would test even the most stalwart of Austen heroines.

Friends rally round, connecting her to freelance gigs, and presenting her with a birthday gift— title to land in Scotland—that’s about to come in very handy. Turns out that Kate’s first freelance assignment is to test an Austen-inspired theory: in the toughest economic times is a wealthy man the only must-have accessory? What begins as an article turns into an opportunity as Kate—now Lady Kate—jet-sets to Palm Beach, St Moritz and London where, in keeping company with the elite, she meets prospects who make Mr. Darcy look like an amateur. But will rubbing shoulders with men of good fortune ever actually lead her to love? And will Kate be able to choose between Mr. Rich and Mr. Right?

After reading Kim Izzo’s wonderful novel ‘My Life in Black and White’ (check out my review here), I couldn’t wait to pick up her other book, ‘The Jane Austen Marriage Manual.’ As a big Jane Austen fan, I had already heard of this novel, but never actually managed to read it. During my summer holidays this year I went to Bath for a couple of days, and it definitely inspired me to pick up a novel with a bit of Austen in it. So, after admiring the cute pink cover of ‘The Jane Austen Marriage Manual’ and reading the interesting blurb, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in this story!

Sometimes you simply have one of those weeks, and that is exactly what happens to Katherine Shaw (known as Kate to the people around her). After losing her contract-to-contract job within the glamorous magazine world and the death of her beloved grandmother, things turn out to be even worse when Kate finds out that due to her mother’s gambling addiction, they are forced to sell the family home. Thanks to a good friend and her love for anything Jane Austen, Kate ends up with a freelance assignment to write an article about the modern-day dating market: is the solution to any female’s trouble a wealthy husband at her side (in line with Austen’s famous novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’)? Even though it begins as a job, it quickly turns out to be the perfect solution to Kate’s own problems. While travelling to fabulous places like Palm Beach, St. Moritz and London, Kate starts searching for her own Mr. Darcy. But in the end, does money really bring happiness, or will love still conquer all?

I loved the Austen element that was included in this novel. Back in Austen’s time it was indeed money that came in first place, before love, when it came to finding a suitable husband. This changed over the years, but it might still be a wise business investment to secure your future by marrying a rich man instead of marrying out of love. I really liked how Kate decides to explore this idea, and how the reader can experience how she struggles between following her mind or her heart. The fabulous locations with all the rich and glamorous people definitely added to the entertainment value of the novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Kate’s adventures in these places. She is a great heroine; smart, independent, persistent (Jane Austen would have definitely approved!), and I found myself laughing out loud every now and again while reading about some of the funny situations she managed to get herself in.

The novel gives us not one, but two handsome bachelors to dream about. On one side, we have charming older millionaire Scott Madewell, who is a taken man but definitely the perfect target for Kate and her experiment, and on the other side we have Griff Saunderson, the manager of a large estate that has been turned into a B&B, who turns up every single time Kate finds herself in trouble. The book includes a great mix of characters, both male and female, and this really made reading the story even more fun. As an Austen fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the parallels between Kate and Elizabeth Bennet (the main character in ‘Pride and Prejudice’), which is why I would definitely recommend this book to any person familiar with Austen and her work. However, even if you’re not a Jane Austen fan, Kim Izzo’s novel is a well-written, entertaining and romantic story that deals with a question we all ask ourselves at one point or another: does enough money guarantee happiness, or is love simply powerful enough to help you through anything?

Rating:9/10
 

9 August 2013

September 2013 release: 'Another Way to Fall' by Amanda Brooke

 
What would you do if you could write the story of your life?
 
After battling a brain tumour twenty-nine year old Emma thinks she is in the clear, but her world comes crashing down around her when she is told her fight was in vain, and there is nothing more the doctors can do.
 
Realising that she won’t now have time to achieve the things she dreamed of, Emma decides to write her perfect life in a story. She imagines all the things she would have done, the places she would have seen, the husband she would have shared her life with and the family they would have raised. And, mysteriously, as she writes her story, she starts to notice that some of her dreams seem to be coming true.
 
Now with a real love in her life, and her fading hope burning brighter, reality and fiction start to become blurred. As she writes their life-long love story Emma dares to believe that anything is possible, but can she really change her fate?
 
Don't you just love the cover of Amanda Brooke's upcoming novel 'Another Way to Fall'? I adore it, so gorgeous! This story promises to be a real tearjerker, as the blurb already shows signs of lots of emotions and heartbreak. I can't wait to get my hands on this novel (it's released on the 12th of September) and I have a feeling any chick lit fan out there will not want to miss out on this one!
 
Click here to pre-order 'Another Way to Fall' on Amazon now! 

7 August 2013

Review: 'Billy and Me' by Giovanna Fletcher (2013)

Sophie May has a secret.

One that she's successfully kept for years. It's meant that she's had to give up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world to stay in her little village, living with her mum and working in the local teashop.

But then she meets the gorgeous Billy - an actor with ambitions to make it to the top. And when they fall in love, Sophie is whisked away from the comfort of her life into Billy's glamorous - but ruthless - world.

Their relationship throws Sophie right into the spotlight after years of shying away from attention. Can she handle the constant scrutiny that comes with being with Billy? And most of all, is she ready for her secret heartbreak to be discovered and shared with the nation?

Giovanna Fletcher’s ‘Billy and Me’ has to be the book release of the first half of 2013 I was looking forward to the most. I’ve been a McFLY fan for years, which is how I ended up following Giovanna on Tumblr and Twitter (for those of you who don’t know, Giovanna is married to one of the members of McFLY, Tom Fletcher), and that is also how I first heard about ‘Billy and Me.’ After reading the exciting blurb, seeing the pretty cover, and hearing lots of positive sounds from other bloggers, I couldn’t wait to start reading this novel myself. However, I decided it would be the perfect book to take with me on holiday (a guaranteed good read!) in July, so while sitting in the sun at a lovely beach cottage in Cornwall, I finally started reading ‘Billy and Me.’

At first glance, Sophie May’s life doesn’t seem very complicated: she still lives in the small village she grew up in (Rosefont Hill) together with her mother, she works full-time in the local tea shop ‘Tea-on-the-Hill’ together with her boss and dear friend Molly, and in her time off she loves to get lost in a classic novel like ‘Jane Eyre.’ However, it wasn’t Sophie’s own choice to not go to university and to not travel the world; she has a secret, which makes her not want to step out of her comfort-zone. However, when famous handsome actor Billy comes into the tea shop one day and falls head over heels in love with Sophie, her life is unexpectedly turned upside down. All of a sudden, photographers and the whole of England seem to be interested in the girl from the small village and every step she takes. Will Sophie be able to live with this, all for the sake of her relationship with Billy? Including sharing her biggest secret with the world?

There are so many things I loved about this gorgeous novel. I instantly liked Sophie; we both love many of the same things (tea, cake, the English countryside, old classic novels like ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’) and I could easily relate to her. Sophie isn’t one of those heroines who instantly believes in herself and knows she can do great things. Throughout the novel, she continues to feel lost every now and again, influenced by her past and the people around her, which I think happens to all of us occasionally. This made me love her even more, and I have to say Sophie is one of my favourite chick lit heroines so far. I thought the start of Sophie and Billy’s romance was also just adorable. It was clear Billy was captivated by Sophie from the start, and I loved the way he acted around her and what he did to see her and to make sure she would like him back. The fact that Billy is a famous actor really added something fascinating to the story, but it was not turned into something too glamorous, too focused on all the fame, glitter, and money. It was believable, which I think really added another layer to the story.         

After reading reviews from other bloggers, I was quite curious to find out what Billy would be like. Everyone seemed to have fallen completely in love with him after reading the novel, and I couldn’t wait to discover this modern-day Mr. Darcy myself! However, I have to be honest, I liked Billy, but I didn’t fall deeply in love with him. He definitely had his moments, but somehow he didn’t manage to capture my heart (well, maybe a tiny part of it). Yet, this didn’t spoil the reading experience for me even one bit. ‘Billy and Me’ is a brilliant and warm debut novel and I can’t wait to read Giovanna Fletcher’s upcoming releases. This is the perfect book to sit down with on a comfy chair, a cup of tea, and a slice of delicious cake. A tip: make sure you have a box of tissues nearby and several free hours ahead of you, because you will not want to stop reading this lovely story! 

Rating:9,5/10

6 August 2013

Interview with Becky Monson!


I am delighted to have author Becky Monson on 'A Spoonful of Happy Endings' today, as part of the CLP blog tour for her novel 'Thirty-Two Going on Spinster' (check out my review here)!

By day, Becky Monson is a mother to three young children, and a wife. By night, she escapes with reading books and writing. In her debut novel, Becky uses humor and true-life experiences to bring her characters to life. She loves all things chick-lit (movies, books, etc.), and wishes she had a British accent. She has recently given up Diet Coke for the fiftieth time and is hopeful this time will last...but it probably won't. 

Can you tell us something about your novel, ‘Thirty-Two Going on Spinster’?
Well it’s about Julia, who hates change and is stuck in a rut. But then change is forced on her through a series of events, and you get to see how she works through it, and how she evolves. Yah, that makes it sound too serious. Really it’s more fun than what I just described. But essentially that is what my story is about.

Where did you find the inspiration for the plotline of ‘Thirty-Two Going on Spinster’?
It was a story I came up with years ago, that evolved and changed into what it is. But it basically started with a work crush I had (before I met my hubby, of course). Thank goodness for the work crushes I had, or I don’t know how I would have survived. I realize now, looking back, that I was not the most stellar employee.

Is the main character, Julia, based on someone? Are there perhaps bits of yourself in her as well?
Julia is a mix of a few people. My hysterical friend Julie, for sure (Julie/Julia - not a coincidence). She is definitely me too, except that I am not totally freaked out by change. I actually kind of like it sometimes.

The main character of the novel, Julia, loves to bake. She’s especially known for her delicious cupcakes. Are you a baker yourself as well, and if so, do you have a favourite recipe? 
I do bake. That trait Julia and I have in common, for sure. I am not as obsessed with it as Julia is, but I do enjoy it when I get a chance to do it. I just hate the clean-up part. That is my least favorite part of baking. I do make a pretty amazing chocolate chip cookie, if I do say so myself.

I read somewhere that you love anything chick lit. What is your favourite chick lit novel or author?
Sophie Kinsella, for sure. She really is so hilarious. My favorite book from her is I’ve Got Your Number. I really love that book. I could read it over and over again. I also just read a book called Yours Truly from an Indie author, Kristy Greenwood, and I swear I have never laughed so hard while reading.

This is your debut novel. Do you have any tips for others who would like to publish their own novel one day?
Yes, please learn from my mistakes. Here is my best advice for future authors out there: Write. Don’t worry about all of the other things out there that you will need to do (and there is A LOT), just write. Write something good – something that you would like to read, and when you are done get yourself a good editor (something I wish I would have done – paid for a professional editor). Also get yourself some reliable beta readers. Once your book is done, get yourself a great cover. I cannot stress how important a great cover is. It will make or break your book (people really do judge a book by its cover). (Wow, I used a lot of parenthesis in this answer) (sorry)

What do you hope readers take away from your novel?
That change can be wonderful, if you let it.
That was cheesy. I apologize. But it’s true.

Last but not least: if you had to describe ‘Thirty-Two Going on Spinster’ in just three words, which words would you pick?
Funtastic, Romantical, Chicklity
(Yah, those aren’t words. I think I ate too much sugar for dinner. Sorry, again.)


Thanks so much to Becky for taking the time to do this interview! And if anyone is interested, Becky is willing to share her recipe for her amazing chocolate chip cookies with us! ;-)

Follow Becky on Twitter via @bmonsonauthor // Get her novel on Amazon by clicking here

Review: 'Thirty-Two Going on Spinster' by Becky Monson (2012)

Julia Dorning is a spinster, or at least on the road to becoming one. She has no social life, hates her job, and lives in her parent’s basement with her cat, Charlie. 

With the arrival of Jared Moody, the new hire at work, Julia’s mundane life is suddenly turned upside down. Her instant (and totally ridiculous) crush on the new guy causes Julia to finally make some long-overdue changes, in hopes to find a life that includes more than baking and hanging out with Charlie. 

But when the biggest and most unexpected change comes, will the new and improved Julia be able to overcome it? Or will she go back to her spinster ways?

I’m delighted to be a part of the CLP Blog Tour for Becky Monson’s novel, ‘Thirty-Two Going On Spinster’! After seeing a shout-out on Twitter for bloggers to join this tour, I checked out the blurb and immediately had the feeling this would be a story I’d enjoy. I was lucky enough to be given a spot and I’ve even got an interview with Becky Monson which will be posted on the blog later today. First of all, though, the novel itself!

‘Thirty-Two Going on Spinster’ tells the story of Julia Dorning, a 32-year-old who is slowly starting to consider herself as the real-life definition of the word ‘spinster.’ She still lives at home in her parents’ basement, she has a boring job of which the highlights are the smoking breaks in which she can gossip with her colleague and good friend Brown, and her social life is non-existent (if you don’t count watching TV shows with your cat while eating homemade cupcakes). Julia’s spinsterly existence is, however, turned upside down when Jared Moody suddenly starts working on the floor above hers. He’s handsome, friendly, and Julia can’t believe he actually seems to want to spend time with her. With the help of her sister Anna and a bit of her own confidence, Julia starts to slowly change a few things: a bit of make-up here, a new outfit there... But when Julia’s world is turned upside down once again, will she be able to crawl back up again or is she indeed doomed to spend her life as a real spinster?

Julia is a brilliant heroine and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about everything that happened to her, especially all the humorous situations she managed to get herself into. With Julia, Becky Monson managed to create a down-to-earth, friendly and funny main character, which I think many women will be able to relate to. I also loved Julia’s passion for baking, and the contrast between the scenes where Julia has the chance to bake cupcakes or cookies, and how much she adores that, and then next to that her boring job, where she obviously does not belong. She really goes through a lot of changes, and I liked how her character develops throughout the story. Jared (aptly named McManly by Julia) is a handsome leading man, and I really enjoyed reading about Julia’s typical school girl crush on him and the slightly embarrassing situations that followed (can't we all relate to this one way or another?)! 

Next to Julia and Jared, there is a really entertaining collection of characters. I specifically liked Julia’s younger sister Emma, who is dealing with her own problems after having maxed out a few too many credit cards, and the mix of colleagues at the company where Julia works. The novel is easy to read and made me laugh out loud more than once; a thoroughly enjoyable addition to the chick lit genre and I look forward to reading more of Becky Monson’s work!

Rating:8/10

If you are looking for a funny and uplifting read, be sure to pick up ‘Thirty-Two Going on Spinster’, available on Amazon by clicking here!