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30 September 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books That Were Hard for Me to Read

'Top Ten Tuesday' is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. I love making lists, so this feature fits me perfectly! If you also take part in this feature or have any additions to my lists, please get in touch; I'd love to hear from you!
Top Ten Books That Were Hard for Me to Read

This week's Top Ten Tuesday definitely made me think for quite some time! Books that were hard for me to read, whether they were just really difficult, or the subject matter was personal, or the book was just cringeworthy... I managed to come up with 10 books, and I'd like to see whether there are other readers out there who share my opinion! 

1. Amanda Prowse - 'Will You Remember Me?'

This book tells the story of a main character who discovers she has cancer. This is something that hits quite close to home for me and it definitely had me in tears, making it difficult to continue and finish the book.

2. J.K. Rowling - 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'

I don't think I have ever cried as much while reading a novel as when I was reading the last part of the Harry Potter series. I couldn't get through the pages fast enough, but at the same time I never wanted it to end.

3. Mary Fitzgerald - 'The Love of a Lifetime'

I love war-time romance stories, but they always make me think of my grandmother, who passed away last year. I was really close to her and while I love remembering her, it can sometimes get a bit emotional!

4. E.L. James - 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

When I read that cringeworthy books were also allowed in this week's top 10, I immediately had to think of the '50 Shades' trilogy....

5. Ashley Prentice Norton - 'The Chocolate Money'

I remember having a really difficult time trying to finish this book. It's something I would never have picked up by myself, but I received a review copy and decided to give it a go. I ended up really not enjoying the book and was glad when I had managed to finish it.

6. William Shakespeare - 'Hamlet'

Books that were hard for me to read... Shakespeare has to be on this list. I remember all the hours struggling to get through his plays while I was at university.

7. Jodi Picoult - 'The Pact'

Somehow Jodi Picoult's novels are also really difficult reads for me. I don't know whether it's the sensitive topics she deals with, but I especially remember struggling to get through 'The Pact.'

8. J.M. Coetzee - 'Disgrace'

If I have to name one author I was introduced to during my time at university whom I will forever remember but will NEVER EVER pick up another book from ever again, it has to be J.M. Coetzee.

9. Ann Brashares - 'Sisterhood Everlasting'

I love love love 'The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.' I don't want to give too much away about the last part of the series, especially for those of you who haven't read it yet, but I was really shocked with what happened at the start of the book and it really made me look at the series in a different way.

10. J.R.R. Tolkien - 'The Lords of the Rings'

I have to admit I never actually finished 'The Lord of the Rings'... After the first 60 pages I just gave up *hangs head in shame*

What are some of the books you found hard to read? I'd love to hear from you! 

29 September 2014

October 2014 releases!

And Fall has offically arrived! I already spotted some pretty coloured leaves on the trees around my neighbourhood, slowly the temperatures are dropping and we're getting our comfy sweaters out of the back of our closets... I have to admit I am quite looking forward to the colder weather, because it is the time to snuggle up on the couch with a cup of tea, a blanket, and a good book. And, also something I am personally really excited about, the lead-up to the holiday season! The book releases that are coming up in October form a great mixture of some fab chick lit novels to promising stories of festive cheer which I can't wait to pick up. Which releases are you looking forward to the most? Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment to this post! :)

Eve Devon - 'The Love List' (2nd of October)

Falling in love is just not on Nora King’s To Do List…

Neither is accidentally super-gluing her shoe to her hand right before the biggest presentation of her life!

With all the hard work she’d put into securing the family business after her father’s death, Nora has no choice but to accept help from a knight in shining armour.

Disaster relief worker Ethan Love is still haunted by his last deployment, and desperate for distraction. He’s in town to ask Nora for a major favour, and swooping in to save her presentation is a sure way to get her on side.

As Ethan sticks around and helps Nora through her grief, her barriers tumble down…but will she dare to swap her To Do lists for a How to Fall in Love list?

Why so excited? --> What better way to start the month than with a new and exciting Harper Impulse release? I love Harper Impulse's romance stories and Eve Devon's 'The Love List' sounds like another great read!


Fiona Harper - 'The Little Shop of Hopes & Dreams' (3rd of October)

Nicole Harrison is planning the proposal of the century. Too bad its not her own…

Nicole, a born organiser and true romantic, has created her dream job when she sets up the Hopes & Dreams proposal agency – staging YouTube worthy proposals… until she’s hired to plan a proposal by gorgeous photographer Alex Black’s girlfriend.

Alex is the New Year’s kiss that Nicole hasn’t been able to forget – and now she’s planning his wedding to someone else! But if she lets herself fall for Alex’s charms, her reputation and business will be ruined before it’s even got off the ground! Suddenly the girl whose always prepared is at a loss…and falling head over heels.

Why so excited? --> Last year I got the chance to read Fiona Harper's novel 'Make My Wish Come True' and I really enjoyed it. I absolutely LOVE the sound of 'The Little Shop of Hopes & Dreams'; the Hopes & Dreams proposal agency already sounds amazing and this is definitely an October release I am really looking forward to! / / Goodreads

Fiona Valpy - 'The French for Christmas' (3rd of October)

Evie used to LOVE Christmas, but this year she can’t wait for the tinsel and presents to be a distant memory. 

When her best friends offer the use of their cottage in the beautiful French countryside, Evie jumps at the chance. With her soon-to-be-ex-husband, celebrity chef Will Brooke, plastered over the news with his latest ‘love interest’, leaving the country seems like the perfect plan.

Armed with her French grandmother’s tattered notebook of recipes, Evie is determined to ignore Christmas altogether and bake herself back to happiness. 

And when Evie meets her next-door neighbour – the très gorgeous doctor Didier she finds a very willing taste-tester. But is it possible that he could be interested in more than just her Tarte Tatin? 

With snow falling, a special Réveillon dinner and a little Christmas magic in the air, could Didier even be the one to thaw Evie’s heart? Or will a visit from the ghost of Christmas past change everything?

Why so excited? --> I fell in love with Fiona Valpy's writing this year and I honestly can't wait to pick up another one of her stories. I love Christmas and I think this will be a great read to get into an early festive holiday mood! / / Goodreads

Yona Zeldis McDonough - 'You Were Meant for Me' (7th of October)

What do you do when you have to give up the person you love most?

Thirty-five-year-old Miranda is not an impulsive person. She’s been at Domestic Goddess magazine for eight years, she has great friends, and she’s finally moving on after a breakup. Having a baby isn’t even on her radar—until the day she discovers an abandoned newborn on the platform of a Brooklyn subway station. Rushing the little girl to the closest police station, Miranda hopes and prays she’ll be all right and that a loving family will step forward to take her.

Yet Miranda can’t seem to get the baby off her mind and keeps coming up with excuses to go check on her, until finally a family court judge asks whether she’d like to be the baby’s foster parent—maybe even adopt her. To her own surprise, Miranda jumps at the chance. But nothing could have prepared her for the ecstasy of new-mother love—or the heartbreak she faces when the baby’s father surfaces....

Why so excited? --> I'm not familiar with Yona Zeldis McDonough's work, but I really like the sound of her upcoming release 'You Were Meant for Me.' It sounds like an intriguing read, perfect for book clubs and discussions with other readers. / / Goodreads

Vanessa Greene - 'The Seafront Tea Rooms' (9th of October)

The Seafront Tea Rooms is a peaceful hideaway, away from the bustle of the seaside, and in this quiet place a group of women find exactly what they've been searching for.

Charismatic journalist Charlotte is on a mission to scope out Britain's best tea rooms. She knows she's found something special in the Seafront Tea Rooms but is it a secret she should share? 

Kathryn, a single mother whose only sanctuary is the 'Seafront', convinces Charlie to keep the place out of her article by agreeing to join her on her search. 

Together with another regular, Seraphine, a culture-shocked French au pair with a passion for pastry-making, they travel around the country discovering quaint hideaways and hidden gems. But what none of them expect is for their journey to surprise them with discoveries of a different kind...

Why so excited? --> I love the sound of Vanessa Greene's October release! The Seafront Tea Rooms sounds like a lovely place to spend the time and I can't wait to join these characters and learn more about their story! / / Goodreads

Hilary Boyd - 'A Most Desirable Marriage' (9th of October)

Lawrence and Jo have enjoyed a strong marriage, the envy of their friends. Even after thirty years they have lots to say to each other, many interests in common and, until recently, a good sex life.

But Lawrence seems wary and restless. Something’s wrong. Just how wrong, Jo is about to discover…

Can they use their years of history – all the things they’ve shared – to overcome a devastating betrayal?

Why so excited? --> Hilary Boyd's 'A Most Desirable Marriage' sounds like a really fascinating read, a great book for those who are looking for a nice women's fiction title to pick up this October! / / Goodreads

Cecelia Ahern - 'The Year I Met You' (9th of October)

Jasmine know two things: one, she loves her vulnerable sister unconditionally, and will fight to the death to protect her from anyone who upsets her. Two, she's only ever been good at one thing – her job helping business start-ups.

So when she’s sacked and put on gardening leave, Jasmine realises that she has nothing else to fill her life. Insomnia keeps her staring out of her bedroom window, and she finds herself watching the antics of her neighbour, shock jock Matt, with more than a casual eye. Matt is also taking a forced leave of absence from work, after one of his controversial chat shows went too far…

Jasmine has every reason to dislike Matt, and the feeling appears to be mutual. But not everything is as it seems, and soon Jasmine and Matt are forced to think again…

Why so excited? --> Yay, I am SO incredibly excited a new Cecelia Ahern novel is coming our way! Cecelia Ahern is one of my favourite authors and her magical style of writing is really unique and her stories never cease to amaze me. Definitely one of the books I'm most looking forward to this Fall! / / Goodreads

Tracy Bloom - 'I Will Marry George Clooney (By Christmas)' (9th of October)

There comes a time in every woman's life when the only answer is to marry George Clooney.

For Michelle, that time is now.

Slogging her guts out in a chicken factory whilst single-handedly bringing up a teenager who hates her is far from the life that 36-year-old Michelle had planned.

But marrying the most eligible man on the planet by Christmas could change all that, couldn't it?

Sometimes your only option is to dream the impossible - because you never know where it might take you.

Why so excited? --> Okay, the title of this novel alone is already enough reason to pick up this book, if you ask me! I really enjoyed Tracy Bloom's previous novel and I have a feeling this will be another fun read! / / Goodreads

Cathy Kelly - 'It Started With Paris' (9th of October)

It all started with Paris. At the top of the Eiffel Tower, a young man proposes to his girlfriend, cheered on by delighted tourists. In that second, everything changes, not just for the happy couple, but for the family and friends awaiting their return in Bridgeport, Ireland...

Leila's been nursing a badly broken heart since her love-rat husband just upped and left her one morning, but she's determined to put on a brave face for the bride.

Vonnie, a widow and exceptional cake-maker, is just daring to let love back into her life, although someone seems determined to stop it.

And Grace, a divorced head teacher, finds the impending wedding of her son means that she's spending more time with her ex-husband. After all those years apart, is it possible she's made a mistake?

Why so excited? --> A gorgeous cover, a great title, and the promise of a love story set in Paris... Do I need to give more reasons for wanting to pick up this release this October?! / / Goodreads

Emma Hannigan - 'The Heart of Winter' (9th of October)

Holly Craig's family have lived happily in Huntersbrook for generations but when times grow hard, even she must admit defeat and sell off their once-successful stables.

The three Craig children, Lainey, Joey and Pippa find themselves locked in a fight to keep their beloved Huntersbrook; dare they transform it into one of Ireland's most sought after countryside venues?

Renovation work is well underway when life rears its ugly head and everything stops in its tracks. The Craig family is forced to reassess what matters and although they no longer live at Huntersbrook, can the house work its magic even so ... and lead them into the light once more?

Why so excited? --> I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Emma Hannigan's novel 'Driving Home for Christmas' last year and it was one of my favourite Christmas reads of 2013. This year, Emma Hannigan is treating us to a sequel in which we get to visit the lovely Craig family and their amazing home, Huntersbrook. Can't wait! / / Goodreads

Jenny Hale - 'A Christmas to Remember' (10th of October)

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!

Why so excited? --> Jenny Hale's previous Christmas novel, 'Coming Home for Christmas', was an absolutely fabulous read and I'm really excited Jenny is treating us to another Christmas story this year! I'm sure 'A Christmas to Remember' won't be a disappointment and already look forward to sitting down with it! / / Goodreads

Michele Gorman - 'Perfect Girl' (14th of October)

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?

Why so excited? --> I just have to say I really like the cover of 'Perfect Girl', it would definitely have caught my attention in any book shop. I've enjoyed Michele Gorman's previous novels, so I have high hopes for this new one! / / Goodreads

Elin Hilderbrand - 'Winter Street' (14th of October)

Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket's Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four, all of them grown and living in varying states of disarray. Patrick, the eldest, is a hedge fund manager with a guilty conscience. Kevin, a bartender, is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper named Isabelle. Ava, a school teacher, is finally dating the perfect guy but can't get him to commit. And Bart, the youngest and only child of Kelley's second marriage to Mitzi, has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines.

As Christmas approaches, Kelley is looking forward to getting the family together for some quality time at the inn. But when he walks in on Mitzi kissing Santa Claus (or the guy who's playing Santa at the inn's annual party), utter chaos descends. With the three older children each reeling in their own dramas and Bart unreachable in Afghanistan, it might be up to Kelley's ex-wife, nightly news anchor Margaret Quinn, to save Christmas at the Winter Street Inn.

Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, a small house fire, many shots of whiskey, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling, in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.

Why so excited? --> I haven't had the chance to read any other books by Elin Hilderbrand, but I really like the sound of her upcoming release 'Winter Street.' It sounds like a fascinating story about family around Christmas time, so I have a feeling I will really enjoy this; definitely part of my to-be-read list! / / Goodreads

Claudia Carroll - 'Love Me or Leave Me' (23rd of October)

‘Welcome to the Hope Street Hotel – where you check in married, and check out single.’

Two years ago Chloe Townsend was dumped at the altar and had to leave behind everything that mattered to her. Even now she’s finding it hard to move forward. That is until she lands an incredible job, running a brand new boutique hotel. Suddenly she’s starting to put her life back together, and, apart from the fact that her hard-to-please new boss is breathing down her neck, things are looking good.

But what goes on in the Hope Street Hotel is a far cry from anything she’s ever dealt with before. This is a pioneering ‘divorce hotel’ designed to make every aspect of breaking up efficient and pain-free. In one single weekend, Chloe’s team promises to take care of everything – legal, technical, emotional – and guests check out carefree and single.

No one is better qualified than Chloe to understand what couples need when their relationship is at breaking point, but she soon finds herself having to tackle the heartbreak she’s tried to bury. In particular three couples need her help – Jo and Dave, Lucy and Andrew, and Kirk and Dawn – and the opening weekend is full of revelation, trouble, memories happy and sad, facts that need facing, and some very big surprises.

It’s time to move on. And it soon becomes clear that some endings are, in fact, very exciting new beginnings …

Why so excited? --> Another great author who is treating us to a new novel this Fall is Claudia Carroll! I've been looking forward to reading 'Love Me or Leave Me' since I saw the cover, which I think looks absolutely fabulous! I really think this will be a great read and I'm sure I'm not the only one! / / Goodreads

Ali McNamara - 'From Notting Hill With Four Weddings... Actually' (23rd of October)

Movie addict Scarlett O'Brien is finally living the jet-setting life she's dreamed of, but it all hangs by a shiny, golden thread. Flying between London and New York, running two businesses, and planning her wedding to handsome fiancé Sean along with her best friends Oscar and Maddie—life couldn't be better. Then Scarlett meets paparazzi darling Gabriella Romero, and life suddenly becomes even more extravagant and glamourous. But as she begins to experience the other side of being rich and famous, it's not only Scarlett's perfect wedding that's put in jeopardy, but her whole world.

Why so excited? --> YES, YES, YES! I'm SO excited Ali McNamara decided to write a third part of her absolutely amazing 'From Notting Hill With...' series and I can't even explain how much I'm looking forward to reading more about Scarlett and Sean and Oscar and Maddie... This is going to be one of my favourite reads of 2014, no doubt about it! / / Goodreads

Carole Matthews - 'The Christmas Party' (23rd of October)

Louise Young is a devoted single mother whose only priority is providing for her daughter, Mia. Louise has a good job in a huge international corporation and she's grateful for it. The only problem is her boss who can't keep his hands to himself, but Louise can handle him. What she really doesn't have time for is romance - until she meets the company's rising star, Josh Wallace.

Louise usually says no to evenings out but she's decided to let her hair down tonight. It's the office Christmas party, she has a pretty dress to wear and she's looking forward to some champagne and fun. She's completely unaware that others around her are too busy playing dangerous games to enjoy the party - until she's pulled into those games herself...

Why so excited? --> Every year, Carole Matthews has an amazing Christmas novel ready for us and I'm really looking forward to picking up her 2014 festive read, 'The Christmas Party'! It promises to be another entertaining and lovely holiday read, and I can't wait to read it! / / Goodreads

Clare Dowling - 'A Special Delivery' (23rd of October)

Every family has its ups and downs...

Aisling Brady is miserable. So is her husband Mossy. The three kids are too. Yet nobody dares say a thing. Instead the Bradys keep their heads down and grimly look forward to another miserable Christmas in Dublin. 

What Aisling doesn't know is that this year, they will get the most unexpected gift of all. One that will bring joy and heartbreak, hope and a string of sleepless nights.

As their world is turned upside down, questions have to be asked. But are the Bradys ready to face the truth about themselves? And what each of them has done?

Why so excited? --> I've been lucky enough to have read 'A Special Delivery', Clare Dowling's latest novel, and it's a great read! The paperback version is released on the 23rd of October and if you're looking for a good women's fiction read, definitely be sure to pick up your own copy. / / Goodreads

Sarah Morgan - 'Maybe This Christmas' (29th of October)

This winter, ex-skiing champion, reformed heartbreaker and single dad Tyler O'Neil has only one mission—making sure his daughter, Jess, has the best Christmas ever. The fact that his best friend, Brenna, is also temporarily moving into his chalet at the overbooked Snow Crystal resort is a delicious distraction he's simply going to have to ignore. Theirs is the one relationship he's never ruined, and he's not about to start now. 

Ski pro Brenna Daniels knows all about the perils of unrequited love—she's been in love with Tyler for years. But living with him is absolute torture…how can she concentrate on being his friend when he's sleeping in the room next door? Then when Tyler kisses Brenna, suddenly the relationship she's always dreamed of feels so close she could almost touch it. Could this be the Christmas her dreams of a happy-ever-after finally come true?

Why so excited? --> And October has another lovely Christmas novel in store for us! Sarah Morgan's 'Maybe This Christmas' sounds like the perfect romantic read to get into the holiday mood and I have a feeling I'll really enjoy it! / / Goodreads

28 September 2014

Upcoming release: 'The Perfect Christmas' by Kate Forster

Hollywood movie star Maggie and friend and manager Zoe need an escape from their complicated star-studded lives in LA. With its history and Christmas charm, London feels like the perfect getaway.

But can they truly leave their realities behind?

In their luxurious quarters, the girls meet Holly who is ideal at showing Maggie and Zoe the sumptuous sights and sounds of London in their most glittering light. But behind her bright façade, Holly is hiding a secret: suffering from unrequited love, she’s looking for a Christmas miracle. Desperate to see an unattainable love story for Holly come together, will our LA starlets succeed in providing a Hollywood ending before the dawn of Christmas Day?

Some of you might know Kate Forster from novels such as 'The Perfect Location' (2012) and 'The Perfect Retreat' (2013), and before the end of this month she is treating us to a special Christmas novella! 'The Perfect Christmas' promises to be a lovely holiday story, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who is secretly already really excited about Christmas 2014! I love the sound of this short story and its gorgeous cover, and I think it will be a great read to end September with a touch of festive cheer! 

26 September 2014

Review: 'First We Take Manhattan' by Colette Caddle (2014)

Identical twins, Sinéad and Sheila Fields, have always done everything together and so, after graduating in millinery, they decide to open their own hat shop. It's a small business but thanks to hard work and talent, they build up a loyal clientele. Then one day a glamorous young actress buys one of their hats, wears it to the Baftas and suddenly success seems guaranteed.

But within weeks, tragedy strikes when Sheila disappears, and is presumed dead. After months of desolation, Sinéad is just beginning to come to terms with her loss when she is given new hope: there has been a sighting of her sister. While she is filled with excitement at the thought that Sheila might be alive, she is haunted by questions. Why would Sheila have deserted her twin without a word? After all, they had always told each other everything … hadn't they?

Earlier this year I was incredibly lucky to win a competition on Twitter which resulted in me receiving a gorgeous copy of Colette Caddle’s latest release, ‘First We Take Manhattan’! The paperback version of the book was released on the 14th of August, so I decided to read my own copy around that same time, during my summer holiday. I’ve read some of Colette’s previous books and loved all of them, so I was really looking forward to sitting down with this new one. Intriguing blurb, gorgeous cover, great title... I definitely had high hopes for this one!

Twin sisters Sheila and Sinead Fields are about to finally make it in the world of fashion. Following their graduation, the sisters decided to set up their own millinery business and after an actress decided to wear one of their hats to the BAFTA’s, business seems to be booming. Then, unexpectedly, Sheila mysteriously disappears and all that is left of her are her car and her bag. Everyone assumes she probably killed herself, but the body was never found. Sinead is completely devastated and finds it difficult to go on with her life without her twin sister by her side. Eventually, Sinead hires someone new to help out at the hat shop, but as things are finally starting to look up, some family secrets come to the surface and Sinead once again starts to doubt whether Sheila really killed herself...

‘First We Take Manhattan’ is Colette Caddle’s thirteenth novel and I personally think it is her best one so far. One of the things I enjoyed most about this novel is that it kept me guessing and managed to surprise me until the very last pages. This is also why this review might not include as much information about the book as usual, because I simply don’t want to ruin the reading experience for others. The plotline is incredibly captivating, the cast of characters is interesting and diverse, and there’s also a lovely touch of romance in the book. Sinead is a fabulous protagonist; I couldn’t help but warm to her and I’m sure many readers will experience the same feeling. Next to Sinead, there’s a wonderful cast of supporting characters. I especially loved the character of Krystie, who is hired by Sinead to help out in the hat shop. All the supporting characters are there for a reason and really added different aspects to the story as a whole. 

The novel is quite fast-paced and you have to stay focused in order to not miss anything. I really enjoyed Colette Caddle’s writing; she managed to catch my attention from the very first chapter and I didn’t want to put the book down before I had finished it. As I already mentioned, I don’t want to give too much away, but I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good women’s fiction read; you will not be disappointed! ‘First We Take Manhattan’ is an incredibly intriguing, well-written and thoroughly enjoyable novel that will keep you guessing until the very end; a book that comes highly recommended!
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

25 September 2014

Review: 'A Pretty Mess' by Carla Caruso (2014)

Sometimes, to come clean, you've got to get your hands dirty ...

Celeste Pretty, a self-confessed neat freak, has found the job she was born to do: a professional organiser, de-cluttering people's homes and workplaces. Her new business gets off to a cracking start when she lands her first client, health and fitness guru Natalia Samphire, in the well-heeled suburb of Astonvale. But things get messy at Natalia's mansion when Celeste finds a blackmail note and other mysterious items. And then there's Lenny Muscat, the sexy builder renovating the place, whose constant presence is muddling Celeste's usually organised brain.

When things get decidedly suspicious at the mansion, she and Lenny have to team up to investigate. But will Celeste emerge with her heart and professional reputation unscathed?

Not too long ago I was contacted by HarperCollins Publishers Australia about reviewing Carla Caruso's latest book, 'A Pretty Mess', which was released on the 1st of October 2014. The novel is the first in a new series, the Astonvale series, and I have to say that after seeing the cover and reading the blurb I was quite curious about it and looked forward to picking it up, especially since I didn't have the chance to check out Carla Caruso's work before!

Celeste Pretty is a professional organizer; a job which is simply perfect for a neat freak like herself. She decided to start her own company called POPink and has landed her first very important job, namely helping fitness guru Natalia Samphire organise her new home. Celeste wants to do anything she can to make sure she does a good job, but at the same time she's busy dealing with her cousin and new assistant Flip and Lenny, the handsome builder who's working on Natalia's house and always seems to be around. To make matters even worse, Celeste unexpectedly discovers Natalia is being blackmailed by someone, and soon she finds herself entangled in way more than just the organizing job she signed up for...

This book can be described as a combination of enjoyable chick lit and an entertaining touch of detective/who-done-it/mystery. I really liked the plotline of the novel and it didn't take long before I was fully immersed by the story, guessing what would happen to the characters and how it would all work out in the end. It took me a bit of time to get used to the main protagonist, Celeste. There were moments when I really liked her, and then her sometimes slightly snobbish behaviour came around the corner again. However, I did warm to her as the story progressed and I definitely wouldn't mind reading other stories in which she stars as the leading lady.

Lenny, the hunky builder who works for celebrity Natalia Samphire just like Celeste, was a great male character and I think many female readers will develop a small crush on him like I did. The chemistry between him and Celeste is undeniable and really added something fun to the story. There are some colloquialisms used in the book which I wasn’t familiar with, but from the context I could get what I needed to understand what was going on, so it definitely didn’t ruin the reading experience. Overall, ‘A Pretty Mess’ is a fun and entertaining chick lit and mystery mix and I already look forward to the next part of Carla Caruso’s ‘Astonvale’ series!
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

24 September 2014

Weekly Feature: Once Upon a Story...

 'Once Upon a Story' is a weekly feature in which we go back in time and focus  on a specific novel that was released in the same month we're in right now (in this case May), but a few years back! It can be a women's fiction classic from the 1990's or perhaps a great chick lit read from 2011. I thought it would be nice to not just focus on recent releases, but also take the chance to jump back in time once a week and look back at wonderful reads that have been released over the years!

This week, we're travelling back to September 2012 to look back at...

'You are a remarkable woman and you deserve all the happiness, contentment and love in the world. I, for one, know that I have never met anyone quite like you.' 

When Rose Pritchard turns up on the doorstep of a Cumbrian B&B it is her last resort. She and her seven-year-old daughter Maddie have left everything behind. And they have come to the village of Millthwaite in search of the person who once offered Rose hope. 

Almost immediately Rose wonders if she's made a terrible mistake - if she's chasing a dream - but she knows in her heart that she cannot go back. She's been given a second chance - at life, and love - but will she have the courage to take it?

I haven't read Rowan Coleman's 2012 release 'Dearest Rose' yet, but I've heard so many incredibly positive things about it I decided to share it with all of you today for this week's 'Once Upon a Story...' The book was named the Best Romantic Read 2012 at the Festival of Romance and was shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year 2013. I'm familiar with Rowan Coleman's writing and really enjoyed some of her other novels, and I am sure this one won't disappoint either. The book is described as a warm-hearted and poignant novel and it's one of those books I think I can recommend without having read it myself!   

Be sure to visit the blog next week for another blast from chick lit past with 'Once Upon a Story...'!

22 September 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books On My Fall To-Be-Read List

'Top Ten Tuesday' is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. I love making lists, so this feature fits me perfectly! If you also take part in this feature or have any additions to my lists, please get in touch; I'd love to hear from you!
Top Ten Books On My Fall To-Be-Read List

This week's Top Ten Tuesday list is one I am incredibly excited about, because Fall 2014 has tons of amazing releases in store for us! It was difficult to only pick 10 upcoming releases I'm looking forward to reading, but I managed to do it. Which books can't you wait to pick up? I'd love to hear about more titles to add to my to-be-read list!

1. Sophie Kinsella - 'Shopaholic to the Stars' (25th of September)

Do I even have to explain why I'm excited about this one?! Sophie Kinsella's 'Shopaholic' series is one of the most loved series within the world of chick lit and I'm so looking forward to reading about Becky's new adventures!

2. Fiona Harper - 'The Little Shop of Hopes & Dreams' (3rd of October)

I love the fact that this book is about a proposal planner; doesn't that sound like a fantastic job?! I also think the cover is simply gorgeous and I honestly can't wait to read this!

3. Cecelia Ahern – 'The Year I Met You' (9th of October)

Cecelia Ahern is one of my favourite authors and I always look forward to her new stories. 'The Year I Met You' sounds like an intriguing read and I hope it will live up to my expectations!

4. Cathy Kelly – 'It Started With Paris' (9th of October)

Paris, the promise of a good love story, a stunning cover... I don't need more to get excited about an upcoming release!

5. Emma Hannigan – 'The Heart of Winter' (9th of October)

I really enjoyed Emma Hannigan's previous books and I'm really excited about this upcoming release. 'The Heart of Winter' has a lovely cover and it immediately makes me long for those nice winter days...

6. Ali McNamara – 'From Notting Hill With Four Weddings… Actually' (23rd of October)

YES YES YES! I can't even begin to describe how much I am looking forward to reading Ali McNamara's new novel. I just know it's going to be AMAZING!

7. Alexandra Brown – 'The Great Christmas Knit Off' (6th of November)

This Fall Alexandra Brown is stepping away from her marvelous Carrington's series and treating us to a new read, 'The Great Christmas Knit Off'. I love the description and cover of the book, and I know Alexandra Brown will treat us to a fabulous story!

8. Jenny Colgan – 'The Christmas Surprise' (6th of November)

Another Rosie Hopkins novel is coming our way in November and I'm so happy Jenny Colgan decided to write another book starring the lovely Rosie. Can't wait to read this!

9. Mhairi McFarlane - 'It's Not Me, It's You' (6th of November)

The cover of this book has not yet been released, but the book description has already got me really excited! Mhairi McFarlane's 'Here's Looking At You' is a novel I really enjoyed, so I look forward to picking up her new release this Fall!

10. Miranda Dickinson – 'I’ll Take New York' (4th of December) 

I'm so happy we will get a new Miranda Dickinson novel in 2014. I absolutely love all of her books and I can't wait to sit down on the couch with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate and Miranda's new novel!