Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Opposite of Maybe - Maddie Dawson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


I gave this 5/5 stars

A Christmas Wish - Carole Matthews

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

A Christmas Wish is a heart-warming ebook exclusive short story that will make you a firm believer in the power of Christmas. So take twenty minutes for yourself and indulge yourself in this romantic and festive tale. 
About the author...
Born in St Helens, Merseyside, Carole Matthews is a successful and popular British author who is famous for her romantic comedy novels. She has published 23 novels and has appeared on the Sunday Times and USA Today bestsellers lists and her books, Welcome To The Real World and Wrapped up in You have both made the shortlist for the Romantic Novelists' Association Romantic Novel of the Year Award.
Her 4th book For Better, For Worse, was picked in summer 2002 for a TV book club pick in America, Reading with Ripa, on the show Live with Regis and Kelly. She has sold over 4.0 million books worldwide and is published in more than 30 countries. Her books have sold to Hollywood. She has had more than 2 million library lends in the UK since she started writing.
In 2011 she was inducted into the Festival of Romance Hall of Fame for her outstanding contribution to romance writing
My thoughts...
What a beautiful short read. Carole Matthews unfailingly delivers uplifting books that leave you wanting more and this short story was no exception.

It's the festive season and Hannah is just not feeling it. Everything is an effort. Last year she was suddenly, without notice, dumped after spending a wonderful New Years Eve with Mitchell.  
She finds herself drawn back to a place that had happy memories she'd shared with Mitchell, although this time you can feel the sadness enveloping her as he begins a painful journey reliving those memories. Ending when she is greeted by Father Christmas. Does he grant her wish, to regain those happy memories? 

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


I gave this book 5/5 stars

The Christmas Bake Off - Abby Clements

About the book...

A fun and festive short story from Abby Clements. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abby descriptions of the entrants to the 'bake-off' competition are very fantastic. In such a short book I could clearly visualise both the people and the settings.  Anyone who has ever lived in a village will probably be able to relate to each and every one of them.

She's clearly a very talented writer to give us so many ingredients in such a short sitting.  Christmas, cakes, love, mystery and intrigue - what more could you ask for?  To top it all the story is not predictable at all and has a couple of surprises.

A must read for anyone seeking a little slice of festiveness to put you in the mood, on top of that a couple of lovely recipes to try out for yourself at the back of the book.

Buy on kindle from Amazon
I gave this book 4/5 stars

Wish Upon A Star - Trisha Ashley

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

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

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

Can laid-back, charming Jago unlock Cally’s frozen heart and help her find true love and magic under the mistletoe?
About the author...
Trisha Ashley is the author of eleven contemporary romantic comedies, and her latest novel, a reprint of Good Husband Material,was her fourth consecutive Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller. Her novels have twice been shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan award for Romantic Comedy and Every Woman for Herself was nominated by readers as one of the top three romantic novels of the last fifty years. She is from St Helens in West Lancashire, and believes her typically dark Lancashire sense of humour, crossed with a good dose of Celtic creativity from her Welsh grandmother, have made her what she is today...whatever that is. Four of her novels are set in rural West Lancashire and three in Wales. They frequently explore aspects of the three F's that are a constant in her own life: Food, Flowers and Friendship.
Nowadays she lives in North Wales, together with the neurotic Border Collie foisted onto her by her student son, and a very chancy Muse. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


I gave this book 5/5 stars

The Parisian Christmas Bake Off - Jenny Oliver

About the book...

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

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

Because the search for Paris’s next patisserie apprentice is about to begin! And super-chef judge Henri Salernes is an infamously tough cookie. But Rachel isn’t about to let her confidence (or pastry) crumble. She’s got one week, mounds of melt-in-the-mouth macaroons and towers of perfect profiteroles to prove that she really is a star baker. 
As well as clouds of flour, and wafts of chocolate and cinnamon, there’s definitely a touch of Christmas magic in the air… Rachel hasn’t come to Paris looking for a fairy-tale romance, but the city of love might gift-wrap her one anyway… 


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

About the author...
Jenny Oliver wrote her first book on holiday when she was ten years old. Illustrated with cut-out supermodels from her sister’s Vogue, it was an epic, sweeping love story not so loosely based on Dynasty. Since then Jenny has gone on to get an English degree, a Masters, and a job in publishing that’s taught her what it takes to write a novel (without the help of the supermodels). She wrote The Parisian Christmas Bake Off on the beach in a sea-soaked, sand-covered notebook. This time the inspiration was her addiction to macaroons, the belief she can cook them and an all-consuming love of Christmas. When the decorations go up in October, that’s fine with her! 

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

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


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


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


Buy on kindle from Amazon

Read an interview with Jenny Oliver on Tracie Bannisters Blog

I gave this book 5/5 stars

The Wedding Countdown - Ruth Sabberton

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

I gave this book 5/5 stars

Melting Ms Frost - Kat Black

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


I gave this book 4/5 stars

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Christmas Without Holly - Nicola Yeager

About the book...
Christmas is a time for pampering yourself.

At least that's what Holly Nightingale thinks.


A hard-working nurse, she has given herself an early Christmas gift - three days at Willows, a posh health farm in Surrey.


She's looking forward to day after day of skin treatments, dips in the hot tub, and relaxing sessions with the handsome masseurs.


But, not everything is perfect.


About the author...
Nicola Yeager was born in Lincoln to Dutch parents and is married with two children.  She currently lives in London and Amsterdam.  Christmas Without Holly is her first novella.

My thoughts...
A lovely little pre Christmas novella.  Holly a nurse has been secretly saving and books herself into a spa for three days of pampering in anticipation of Christmas with her new finance at his parents.

Holly meets Rebecca a very spoilt rich wife who she goes to great lengths to avoid.  Rebecca likens Holly to herself and Holly doesn't like what she sees.

Time away from her everyday life gives Holly the opportunity to really see what path she has chosen - does she like the direction her life is heading?  

An insightful novella which had me silently shouting my opinion's out.  Well worth a read if you have a couple of hours to spare. I wouldn't really categorise it as a Christmas story though.


Meet Me Under the Mistletoe - Abby Clements

About the book...
Childhood friends Laurie and Rachel used to be inseparable. Now thirty-five, they have all but fallen out of touch; glamorous single girl Laurie is based in London and dedicated to her career in fashion; Rachel seemingly living the family idyll in Yorkshire. But when Rachel's mother-in-law needs urgent treatment in London, and disasters at work and in her love life mean Laurie needs to flee, a house swap falls into place. Soon gentle Rachel is braving the city's mean streets while trying to keep her marriage and family together; while Laurie attempts to befriend the wary village locals - and forget the man who seems intent on breaking her heart. Will their relationships survive this test? And will they make it home for Christmas?  

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

My thoughts...
The gorgeous cover drew me to this book and it didn't disappoint.  I like the fact the book concentrated on two main characters and how their lives were entwined. I could relate to both women who, like many of us barely keep in touch because life has taken over.  Both are happy in their lives - or are they? Laurie is single and a work-a-holic, living and breathing work in the city until she drops a clanger and she is made to take a complete break from work.  Rachael is the opposite married, living in the country, putting her family, friends and community first. Circumstances make them swap houses for a few weeks and at first both kick against their new environments. 

This book was a real treat.  The sort which makes you want to curl up on the sofa with hot chocolate and a biscuit (home-made of course) and jump straight into the pages. Abby described the characters and locations in such detail it was very easy to visualise both people and places. I could have easily moved into Rachael's cottage or Laurie's flat. It was lovely to watch the self awareness of both of the women and to see their friendship grow once again.

Although at times the plot was a little predictable  (I was rooting for it to go the way I thought) it had enough twists and surprises to keep me hooked. It really got me in the mood for Christmas, virtually tasting and smelling all the delicious treats  prepared in both Yorkshire and London in preparation for Christmas.  

This book highlighted that sometimes we need to take a step back from our lives and factor in some me time. Point taken I'll just read another book :-)  

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from Abby Clements in the future.


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A Groom for Christmas - Cara Marsi

About the book... 
When a young woman hires her hometown’s former bad boy to be her pretend fiancé for the holidays, she finds she can’t wrap up her feelings as easily as a Christmas gift.
New York jewelry designer Graceann Palmer has two days to find a fiancé to bring home to Pennsylvania for the holidays so her matchmaking mama will quit fixing her up with jerks. The Falcon, a motorcycle-riding, leather-clad former high school crush, helped her out once before. Maybe he'll do it again.
Jake Falco, man of many mysteries, is back in town on a mission—one the people of Spirit Lake most likely won't appreciate. When Graceann presents him with her crazy scheme, it gives him something he's always wanted—a chance to get to know Graceann. It also gives him the perfect opportunity to add fuel to his project of revenge.
But as Jake and Graceann grow closer, their engagement-of-convenience begins to feel like the real deal—until Jake’s secrets are revealed.
Can a relationship that began with lies and secrets bloom like a rare Christmas rose into happily-ever-after?

About the Author...
When I was a corporate drone and cubicle dweller living in a fabric-covered cage, the creative energy of writing romance allowed my mind to escape the reality of my everyday world, at least for a while. No longer a corporate drone, I now have more time to indulge my love of romance, with independent heroines and the strong men who love them. I read and write romance to satisfy my craving for good love stories with happy endings.
Reading opened a whole new wonderful world to me as a child. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on, even cereal boxes. When I got older I haunted the main library in my hometown. I can still feel the rush of excitement every time I walked through the large doors and inhaled the scent of thousands of books.
There is a classic episode from the old TV show Twilight Zone that fills me with horror to this day. A bookworm survives a nuclear attack while he's in a library, only to have his glasses break. He's surrounded by all those books and can't see to read them. This is the stuff of my nightmares.
As a preteen and teen I loved the young adult romance novels of Elizabeth Howard and the Judy Bolton mysteries by Margaret Sutton.
For as long as I can remember I've made up love stories in my head. The Thirties and Forties romantic comedies that played on late-night TV when I was growing up helped shape my love of romance.
I always dreamed of being a published author. I've worked in the corporate world all my adult life, but the dream of seeing my name on a book wouldn't die.

I decided to pursue my dream. I joined Romance Writers of America and absorbed all I could about the craft of writing. I met many published authors who helped and encouraged me. I entered contests, went to workshops and conferences, and studied all aspects of the publishing business. After ten long years of hard work, rejections and disappointments, I sold my first book, A Catered Affair, to Avalon Books. Writing is the hardest work I've ever done, but the most rewarding. I’ve recently revised and re-titled A Catered Affair. It’s now A Catered Romance and is available exclusively as an ebook. 

One of the most exciting recognitions I’ve had as a writer was when I was named an up and coming author in the 2003 Affaire de Coeur magazine's readers' poll.

I write contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance. Read about all my books on this site. In addition to my books, I have had success writing short stories for women’s magazines. See my list of short stories on this site also.
I live on the East Coast with my husband and a fat, black diva of a cat named Killer

My thoughts...
I have to be honest the first chapter of this book had me wondering if I'd like this book at all.  Jake, someone Graceann knew from her school days just happens to walk into the diner where she and a friend are musing over the fact that she needs a Fiance within the next two days. She's going home for Christmas and wants to try to put an end to her mothers matchmaking.  His instant agreement to her proposal all seemed a little too convenient for me.  It wasn't like they were friends at school.  He was the 'bad lad' and she was the 'rich kid, from the big house'. However, as the story unfolded the characters grew on me and I began to really enjoy the book.  But, nothing is ever quite what it seems. Jake had his reasons for wanting to return to his home town which he didn't share with Graceann and which, just as they were growing close threatened to pull them apart. 
Cara's ability to describe the characters in such detail made me feel she was describing people I knew in real life.  She had me rooting for all the right people in all the right places - a lovely, curl up on the sofa feel good book.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe - Rebecca Raisin

About the book... 
Christmas is the season the Gingerbread Café was made for…but owner Lily couldn’t be feeling less merry if she tried. She’s spent another year dreaming of being whisked away on a sleigh-ride for two, but she’s facing festive season alone – again. And, just to give her another reason to feel anything other than candy-cane perky, a new shop across the road has opened… Not only is it selling baked goods, but the owner, with his seriously charming smile, has every girl in town swooning. 

But Lily isn't about to let her business crumble - The Gingerbread Cafe is the heart of the community, and she's going to fight for it! This could be the Christmas that maybe, just maybe, all her dreams - even the someone-to-decorate-the -Christmas-tree-with ones - really do come true!

About the author... 
Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile.  This love of books morphed into the desire to write them.  She's been widely published in short anthologies, and in fiction magazines. And now she is concentrating on romance. 
Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with.  People with big hearts who care about relationships and believe in true love. 

My thoughts... 
I was asked by the author if I would be interested in reviewing Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe.  Yes please!! I love a Christmas book, particularly as this weekend  I've done my first lot of Christmas shopping. I read half of the book before I went and half when I came back. It really was a welcome slice of Christmas - that just hit the spot. As with all good short stories the author gave you just enough - leaving me satisfied but wanting a little bit more. Her descriptions were so vivid I felt I knew the characters, particularly CeeCee and I could almost taste the cake and Gingerbread coffee - mmmm.  I can't wait for more from Rebecca and recommend this short story for anyone wanting to get in the mood for Christmas - heartwarming and yummy.

Buy on kindle from Amazon
Facebook for Rebecca Raisin

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Either Side of Midnight - Tori de Clare

About the book...
WHAT IF THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE TURNED INTO YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE?  When nineteen year old Naomi Stone is snatched from her husband at knifepoint on the night of their wedding and taken to a deserted cemetery, she knows her life is finished.  Drugged and dis-orientated, she loses consciousness as she lies in an open grave with a gun to her head.  But the following day,she mysteriously awakes to find herself unharmed and secured to a bed. She's in a beautiful bedroom in a secluded cottage in open countryside. Only one person knows she's there - the man in the balaclava who's holding her, feeding her, revealing nothing. Naomi senses the unfolding of a plan. She should be on honeymoon in the Caribbean.  Instead, she's trapped with an emotionless psycho with no hope of escape.... And his voice is chillingly familiar.  Who is he?  What does he want? What's happened to her husband? Where is she? Will anyone find her before it's too late?

About the author...
Tori de Clare, born 1970, grew up in Greater Manchester. Having taught piano for 25 years in between being a full-time stay-at-home mum of four, she began writing almost five years ago. Having worked with children and young people for so long, it seemed natural to write for that audience. Her debut novel, Either Side of Midnight, was intended for young adults, but has been widely accepted by an adult readership also. She intended it to be the kind of novel that could be enjoyed by almost anyone. She now lives in East Yorkshire and continues to teach music and write books and finds time for little else beyond family. Daughter of two pianists, it was hardly a surprise that music became Tori's career.

Tori de Clare: 'Both my parents were good at two things: music and writing. Those two things run strongly in our family. My dad died when I was 18. In his spare time, he never had a book out of his hands and aspired to having a book of his own published. Having never had the chance to realise his dream, this book is dedicated to him and to my mum who taught me to play the piano.'

Tori's next book (already written) will be the start of a YA paranormal suspense series due to be released in the near future.

My thoughts...
Having read a few good reviews about this book I decided to download it to my kindle and give it a go! Am I glad I did? The book starts just in the evening after the wedding of Naomi and Nathan and moves quickly forward in a way that was totally unexpected - so much so within the first couple of chapters my heart was pounding and I was thinking 'oh no what have I started'. But, if I start a book I have to finish it.  For a time I did think this was going to be just too much for me.

Tori then managed to seamlessly switch both time and genre. We went back twelve months and was introduced to the main characters and a love affair began.  Tori really is a brilliant author she switched back and forth between times until the past caught up with the present - leaving me alternating between heart pounding and fear and laughing and even crying.

This book has everything. It's not just a psychological thriller/mystery but a very insightful book. Things are hardly ever what they seem. Sibling rivalry, doting dad and what seems to be an over protective mother - but is she, or is she she a typical intuitive mother?  Just when I thought I had the plot all sewn up, I reached 60 % on my kindle and it was all blown apart - what a twist.  Tori had me guessing right up until almost the last page. I was repeatedly dragged out of my comfort zone back into the heart pounding - breath holding - silent pleading - fingers crossing world that Naomi had been dragged into.


I highly, highly recommend you give this book a go, you won't be disappointed and a sequel is soon to follow.

Christmas at Carrington's - Alexandra Brown

About the book...
Georgie Hart loves Christmas time at Carrington's department store.  Running the luxury handbag department, Georgie adores helping customers in the hunt for the perfect gift for the perfect someone. And this year is no exception - now she has the hunky Tom, Mr Carrington himself, to spend the special day with.
But when Tom springs a surprise, Georgie's plans are thrown into chaos, Carrington's is getting a fresh lease of life in a hot new reality TV show, featuring formidable retail guru, Kelly Cooper.
As the first show airs, Georgie is shown in a far from flattering light.  Worse is to come when Kelly's vile daughter appears to get her claws into Tom.  Georgie fears this will be the worst Christmas ever, but Santa still has a little surprise for her stocking this year - she'll just have to wait until Christmas to find out....


About the author...
Alexandra Brown is the author of the Carrington series, set in a department store in the pretty seaside town of Mulberry-on-sea, it follows the life, loves and laughs of sales assistant Georgie Hart.

When she isn't writing, Alexandra lives to Tweet too much whilst watching trashy TV. She lives near Brighton, on the South Coast of England, with her husband, daughter and a very shiny black Labrador puppy.

My Thoughts...
Wow - I was really looking forward to this book - The things I'd heard about the book and the beautiful artwork on the cover were what drew me in. I fully intended buying a copy but won one in a competition run by the author Alexandra Brown and along with it came my first xmas card of the year! :-) 

I wasn't disappointed at all.  It's was a really lovely book that has me rooting for Georgie the main character from the very first chapter. Alexander has a magnificent way of describing the characters and the settings that made me feel I knew them all personally.  I hadn't read any of her previous 'Carrington' books but didn't feel any description of the store or characters was lacking.  If you didn't know any different it sits well as a stand alone book.

Carrington's sounds like a lovely old department store where customer service and loyalty are put before commercialisation and profit for profits sake.  It's described in such a way that I feel I 'know' it. As a reader I can fully understand why it's so special to Georgie. Who when she finds out there is going to be a fly on the wall series to improve business isn't altogether happy.  The first episode was filmed without her knowing and doesn't paint a glowing picture.

As the story unfolds I feel Alexandra could  easily have been describing friends of mine. Georgie came across a bit 'Bridget Jones' like. A really lovely, sensitive, happy girl who didn't always get it quite right but her heart was in the right place. It was easy for the TV company to take advantage of her because she believed everything was being done for the future good of the store. Sam comes across as a real friend, loyal and sensitive to the needs of her friends always there for them putting their needs before her own anytime day or night. Eddie is always there for Georgie. He's always on hand to pick up the pieces and put a positive slant on turn a bad situation with his humour.  

The book as the right mix of 'feel good', romance, drama and humour.  Allowing you to love and hate all the right people in all the right places. I read this in almost one sitting, starting late afternoon yesterday and finishing it this morning.   I highly recommend this book and will be leaving 5 stars on good reads and amazon to prove it.  Can't wait for the follow up in June 2014 - can't you bring it forward Alex?  In the meantime I'll have to make do with reading backwards through the previous books.

Hollywood Holidays, Home for the holidays #1 - D D Scott

About the book...
Socialite Harper Cantwell wants more out of life than being Briar Creek, Tennessee’s philanthropic queen. Her husband Grant is a financial stud, but he’s also an emotional dud. Tired of being nothing more than his glorified event planner, she leaves him. Hoping to find herself in the creative excitement and sizzle of the holidays in Hollywood, she meets Jake Benton. One of Tinsel Town’s ultimate players, Jake doesn’t waste any time letting her know he’s interested—very interested. In spite of Jake’s hot advances, it’s Grant she can’t forget. But sacrificing herself for any man is no longer part of her party plan.

Ultra-conservative businessman Grant Cantwell III doesn’t completely understand why Harper left. He misses her terribly but is clueless how to get her back. He gets a real wake-up call when Harper’s best, gay friends tell him he’s an idiot for losing her. Under the tutelage of their company Chick Tricks Inc., Grant is soon on their fast track program, “How to Please a Woman.” But Grant needs more than just a few tricks. He must learn to open his heart instead of his wallet, before Madison gives up on him forever and runs into the open arms of Hollywood’s premier gigolo.

About the author...
D D Scott is an Amazon top 100 Bestselling Humour Author and a four-time Amazon Movers and Shakers List Author.  With 200,000 books sold around the globe, including 25 titles in five different genres and chart topping audio books too, she treats her readers to stories with loads of laughs and a bunch of heart. You can get all of the scoop on her and her books along with a whole bunch of other things on her website.

My thoughts...
I was given a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an un-biased honest review. Having never read anything by this author before I didn't know quite what to expect.  I just love a xmasy read and having visited Hollywood thought it would hit the spot.  It did with bells on!

The book begins with Harper writing a 'Dear John' note and agonising over where to leave it for maximum impact.  Having led a lavish lifestyle she finds herself renting a room in a guest house in LA not wanting to buy until she knows for sure Tinseltown is the place for her.

We very quickly learn the reasons for Harpers departure from Tennessee and so I was a little baffled as to why she immediately finds herself attached to the local good time musician Jake, another person who seems to use Harpers good nature for his own gains.

I had no strong feelings about Harper at first other than she seemed a little week and needy.  Opinions I had to change as the book unfolded.  Her character unfolded and I felt wanted to both shake her and hug her at the same time.

I didn't like Jake from the very first meeting and sadly my opinion didn't change throughout the book.  

However, Grant, Harper's wealthy husband was the real hero of the book for me.  He was genuinely baffled as to why Harper had left.  It was clear that he worshipped Harper and always put great thought into his gifts for her - generosity with money was never an issue. He gave her everything she could ever want or need except the one thing she craved the most - his personal attention. He really was oblivious to Harpers needs.

In LA Haper through talk with her new friends and an unexpected job offer finds herself and gains insight into what she wants from life. Grant or Jake? - which one does she choose, or does she choose to go it alone? You'll have to read the book to find out. 

In Tennessee Grant through help from two unexpected sources gets insightful look into Harpers life married to him and the part he played in making her leave. From the very first meeting of Grant I rooted for him, wanting him to wise up quickly and see what impact his father had on the way he interacted with people in particular Harper.  

This was a fantastic book which I highly recommend, it was lovely watching the true characters unfold - and the biggest lesson learnt was the importance of communication. Every chapter I kept saying to myself this would make a great film - I could clearly visualise watching the scenes played out on the big screen.  Crossing fingers this happens.