Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Second Time I Saw You - Pippa Croft

About the book...
It's the beginning of a new term at Wyckham College, Oxford, and a fresh start for Lauren Cusack. Her fingers were badly burnt when a whirlwind romance with gorgeous English aristocrat, Alexander Hunt, became too hot to handle - and now she's determined to keep her distance.
Her resolve is shaken when Alexander appears on her doorstep - he's been completely torn apart by some devastating news. Lauren knows that she should stay away, but their chemistry is undeniable and she soon finds herself back in Alexander's arms.
Can Lauren handle the drama that comes with Alexander Hunt? Or will she has to sacrifice the most exhilarating passion she's ever known . . .

(The Second Time I saw you is the 2nd book in the Oxford Blue Series.)

About the author...
Pippa Croft is the pen name of an award-winning romantic novelist. After studying English at Oxford, she worked as a copywriter and journalist before writing her debut novel, which won the RNA's New Writers' award and was later made into a TV movie. She lives in a village in the heart of England with her husband and daughter.
My thoughts... 
I was given an ecopy of this book by JB at brookcottagebooks.blogspot.com in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give.  This is the second book in the Oxford Blue Series and I was a little concerned that I hadn't read book 1 first but JB assured me that The Second Time I Saw You could just as easily be read as a stand alone book and I would have to agree. I didn't spend too much time thinking I wonder what happened in book 1?....Until I'd finished it and now I want to read it to understand the characters a little better. 

Lauren is determined to stay away from Alexander and start a new term with a clean slate. However this proves impossible - Alexander turns up with a tale of woe and before you know it Lauren is sucked straight back into a relationship. 

Their relationship however, is pure chemistry when they come together it's like burning magnesium mixed with water - you can feel the heat and the reaction before it happens. It's a classic case of cannot live together, cannot live apart.  Add family & friends with secrets and problems to the mix and poor Lauren is being pulled in every direction.

Pippa has developed characters that evoked quite strong reactions - it's not often I'm reduced to shouting at a book - 'for god's sake' was uttered on more than one occasion as I willed each of them to get a grip. I can't say I loved any of the characters really yet their characteristics  I felt were perfect and suited the storyline. Valentina (Alexander's ex-girlfriend) and Prof Rafe were suitably awful, evil and slimy respectively whilst  Alexander's 17 year old sister comes across as gullible and vulnerable yet at the same time  manipulative and controlling putting poor Lauren in a very difficult position. 

I read and finished this book in just three sittings and despite my lack of love for the characters I did enjoy the book and I'm now left wanting to know more. I liked the storyline and sub-stories very much.  I feel like I've only eaten half a sandwich though having skipped the bread and gone straight for the filling. I want to see if my opinion alters or is still the same once I can see the progress and changes in both Lauren and Alex so I'm going to read book one then two again before I move on to book three.

I do recommend this book and agree with JB it could be read as a stand alone book but would say if like me you like everything to be all neat and tidy then read book 1 first. It will be interesting to see if my thoughts stay the same.  All in all this was a captivating read of friendships and relationships, with more ups and downs than a roller coaster.

I gave this book 4/5 stars

Friday, 30 May 2014

The Bookshop On The Corner - Rebecca Raisin


COVER REVEAL FOR :-
The Bookshop on the Corner
By Rebecca Raisin

Who said that only real heroes could be found in fiction?
Sarah Smith had an addiction – she was addicted to romance novels. The meet-cute, the passion, the drama and the gorgeous men! Now this wouldn’t have been such an issue if she hadn’t been the owner of the only bookshop in Ashford, Connecticut.
Ever since her close friend Lil, from The Gingerbread Café, had become engaged she had been yearning for a little love to turn up in her life. Except Sarah knew a good man was hard to find – especially in a tiny town like Ashford. That was until New York journalist, Ridge Warner stepped into her bookshop…
Love could be just around the corner for Sarah, but will she be able to truly believe that happy-ever-after can happen in real-life too!
From the brilliant author of The Gingerbread Café trilogy don't miss this linked novella to get a sneak-peek at how Damon and Lil are getting on before the next book in the series - Coming October 2014.

Find The Bookshop On The Corner here: 
Find Rebecca here: 

And Coming soon: The Bookshop on The Corner blog: http://thecornerbookshop.wordpress.com/

Thursday, 29 May 2014

In The Mirror - Kaira Rouda

About the book...

What choices would you make if you knew you might die soon?
In the Mirror is the story of Jennifer Benson, a woman who seems to have it all. Diagnosed with cancer, she enters an experimental treatment facility to tackle her disease the same way she tackled her life - head on. But while she's busy fighting for a cure, running her business, planning a party, staying connected with her kids, and trying to keep her sanity, she ignores her own intuition and warnings from others and reignites an old relationship best left behind.
If you knew you might die, what choices would you make? How would it affect your marriage? How would you live each day? And how would you say no to the one who got away?
Excerpt...

Chapter 1
Rolling over to get out of bed, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and cringed. My reflection said it all. Everything had changed.
I looked like death.
I blinked, moving my gaze from the mirror, and noticed the calendar. It was Monday again. That meant everything in the real world. It meant groaning about the morning and getting the kids off to school. It meant struggling to get to the office on time and then forcing yourself to move through the day. It meant the start of something new and fresh and undetermined. But Mondays meant nothing at Shady Valley. We lived in the “pause” world, between “play” and “stop.” Suspension was the toughest part for me. And loneliness. Sure, I had visitors, but it wasn’t the same as being surrounded by people in motion. I’d been on fast-forward in the real world, juggling two kids and my business, struggling to stay connected to my husband, my friends. At Shady Valley, with beige-coloured day after cottage-cheese-tasting day, my pace was, well –
I had to get moving.
I supposed my longing for activity was behind my rather childish wish to throw a party for myself. At least it gave me a mission of sorts. A delineation of time beyond what the latest in a long line of cancer treatments dictated. It had been more than 18 months of treatments, doctor’s appointments, hospitalisations and the like. I embraced the solidity of a deadline. The finality of putting a date on the calendar and knowing that at least this, my party, was something I could control.
I noticed the veins standing tall and blue and bubbly atop my pale, bony hands. I felt a swell of gratitude for the snakelike signs of life, the entry points for experimental treatments; without them, I’d be worse than on pause by now.
I pulled my favourite blue sweatshirt over my head and tugged on my matching blue sweatpants.
Moving at last, I brushed my teeth and then headed next door to Ralph’s. He was my best friend at Shady Valley—a special all-suite, last-ditch-effort experimental facility for the sick and dying—or at least he had been until I began planning my party. I was on his last nerve with this, but he’d welcome the company, if not the topic. He was paused too.
 My thick cotton socks helped me shuffle across my fake wood floor, but it was slow going once I reached the grassy knoll—the leaf-green carpet that had overgrown the hallway. An institutional attempt at Eden, I supposed. On our good days, Ralph and I sometimes sneaked my son’s plastic bowling set out there to partake in vicious matches. We had both been highly competitive, type-A people in the “real” world and the suspended reality of hushed voices and tiptoeing relatives was unbearable at times.
“I’ve narrowed it down to three choices,” I said, reaching Ralph’s open door. “’Please come celebrate my life on the eve of my death. RSVP immediately. I’m running out of time.’”
“Oh, honestly,” Ralph said, rolling his head back onto the pillows propping him up. I knew my time in Shady Valley was only bearable because of this man, his humanising presence. Even though we both looked like shadows of our outside, real-world selves, we carried on a relationship as if we were healthy, alive. I ignored the surgery scars on his bald, now misshapen head. He constantly told me I was beautiful. It worked for us.  
“Too morbid? How about: ‘Only two months left. Come see the incredible, shrinking woman. Learn diet secrets of the doomed,’” I said, smiling then, hoping he’d join in.
“Jennifer, give it a rest would you?” Ralph said.
“You don’t have to be so testy. Do you want me to leave?” I asked, ready to retreat back to my room.
“No, come in. Let’s just talk about something else, OK, beautiful?”
Ralph was lonely, too. Friends from his days as the city’s most promising young investment banker had turned their backs—they didn’t or couldn’t make time for his death. His wife, Barbara, and their three teenage kids were his only regular visitors. Some days, I felt closer to Ralph than to my own family, who seemed increasingly more absorbed in their own lives despite weekly flowers from Daddy and dutiful visits from Henry, my husband of six years. Poor Henry. It was hard to have meaningful visits at Shady Valley, with nurses and treatments and all manner of interruptions. We still held hands and kissed, but intimacy—even when I was feeling up to it—was impossible.
So, there we were, Ralph and I, two near-death invalids fighting for our lives and planning a party to celebrate that fact. It seemed perfectly reasonable, at least to me, because while I knew I should be living in the moment, the future seemed a little hazy without a party to focus on.
“Seriously, I need input on my party invitations. It’s got to be right before I hand it over to Mother. I value your judgment, Ralph; is that too much to ask?”
“For God’s sake, let me see them.” Ralph snatched the paper out of my hand. After a moment, he handed it back to me. “The last one’s the best. The others are too, well, self-pitying and stupid. Are you sure you can’t just have a funeral like the rest of us?”
I glared at him, but agreed, “That’s my favourite, too.”
Mr. & Mrs. E. David Wells
request your presence at a
celebration in honor of their daughter
Jennifer Wells Benson
Please see insert for your party time
Shady Valley Center
2700 Hocking Ridge Road
RSVP to Mrs. Juliana Duncan Wells
No gifts please—donations to breast cancer research appreciated.

At first, I had been incredibly angry about the cancer. Hannah’s birth, so joyous, had marked the end of my life as a “normal” person. Apparently, it happened a lot. While a baby’s cells multiplied, the mom’s got into the act, mutating, turning on each other. Hannah was barely two weeks old when I became violently ill. My fever was 105 degrees when we arrived in the ER. I think the ER doctors suspected a retained placenta or even some sort of infectious disease, although I was so feverish I can’t remember much from that time. All I remember was the feeling of being cut off from my family—Henry, two-year-old Hank, and newborn Hannah—and marooned on the maternity ward, a place for mothers-to-be on bed rest until their due dates. That was hell.
At 33, I was a pathetic sight. My headache was so intense the curtains were drawn at all times. I didn’t look pregnant anymore, so all the nurses thought my baby had died. That first shift tip-toed around me, murmuring. By the second night, one of them posted a sign: “The baby is fine. Mother is sick.” It answered their questions since I couldn’t. It hurt my head too much to try.
By the third day, my headache had receded to a dull roar. Surgery revealed that there was no retained placenta after all. I was ready to go home to my newborn and my life. So with a slight fever and no answers, I escaped from the hospital and went home to a grateful Henry and a chaotic household. I was weak and tired, but everyone agreed that was to be expected. I thanked God for the millionth time for two healthy kids and my blessed, if busy, life.
And then, not two weeks later, I found the lump.
Not a dramatic occurrence, really, at least not at first. I was shaving under my arm, and I happened to bump into my left breast with my hand. I could feel an odd mass that hadn’t been there before. When I pushed on the top part of my breast, closest to my underarm, it hurt. I freaked out and called for Henry.
“I’m sure it’s fine,” he reassured me while his eyes revealed his own fears. “We’ll make an appointment to have it checked out first thing tomorrow, OK?”
Our eyes locked then, and in that moment, I think we both knew.
It wasn’t, of course, fine. When the radiologist at the Women’s Imaging Centre read the mammogram, she called my doctor right away. The solid, spider-webby mass had tentacles spreading through my left breast. Deadly, dangerous tentacles full of cancerous cells. Surgery confirmed that what I had felt was a malignant mass that had already begun to metastasise to my lymph nodes. They moved me to the cancer floor and began treatments immediately, and that’s where I’d been, in body or spirit, for more than a year.
Ralph was the one to describe them as “circle mouths”: the initial reactions of family and friends expressing sympathy for our rotten luck. When the doctors finally figured out what was wrong with me, my family was the first to respond with their blank stares and circle mouths. “OOOOOO, Jennifer, we’re sOOOOOO sorry.” But, really, what else could we expect? Before I had cancer, I know I probably reacted the same way.
About the author...
Kaira Rouda is an award-winning entrepreneur and author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include: Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs; Here, Home, Hope; All the Difference; and the short story, A Mother's Day.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and four children and is at work on her next novel.
My thoughts...
I was given an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Shaz as part of Fiction Addiction Book Tours which I am more than happy to give.
I was drawn instantly to this book by the cover and wasn't disappointed by the words. Hats of to Kaira for sensitively tackling the emotionally charged subject of cancer with compassion and sensitivity. This could so easily have been a sad, depressing book and yes it is sad and I cried buckets but it is also thought provoking and uplifting in a big way.  

Jennifer has just given birth to her second child when she finds out she has breast cancer. She has a new baby, a toddler and a husband and is admitted to a hospital for immediate treatment, transferred to a special unit where she spends the next year. A devastating time for her and her family at an already emotionally charged time in their lives.

This story can't help but grab at your heart strings. It closely looks at families, friends and their relationships, on how our lives are shaped on the choices we make. Kaira takes no prisoners diving straight into the subject matter within the first pages. I instantly could relate to Jennifer as I know and understand the effects of cancer on a family, my mother has now been clear for two years and I can vividly remember the day I found out about her illness and the subsequent hospital visits and treatment. Remembering vividly how she 'managed' it for us!

I found this story was so true to life, Kaira gave Jennifer humour to hide behind, she's the one that's ill yet she's the one often offering comfort and support, the one for the most part not showing her true feelings to her family to save them any more upset.  Almost detaching herself from them to save both her and them from unnecessary hurt. Through Jennifer, Kaira gave me an insight into how my own mother must have felt which was just heartbreaking.  It was so easy to take at face value the outward 'face' yet like Jennifer's closeness with Ralph it's the friendships my mother sought with strangers that hurts the most now.  The not sharing with us her family to protect us!! Yet at the same time I can understand - how can we understand when it's not happening to us.

Jennifer organised a party to celebrate her life just in case she died, in fact there's almost an acceptance that this is inevitable. This was almost my undoing!  Inviting family and friends both old and new brought different elements and memories to the mix, especially when her ex Alex is thrown into the mix. I couldn't help but analyse my own life.  If I could do things differently in my own life would I and what would I change?

This is without doubt an emotional book which will be different for every reader dependant upon your own brush with cancer or another serious illness but, it is one I highly recommend - it'll make you sit up, reflect and hopefully make you want to make the most of every day, to grab every opportunity possible and just live! A thought provoking read that'll will surprise you, it's not all sad it'll probably make you laugh as much cry.


I gave this book 5/5 stars

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

White Lies - Emily Harper

About the book...
Imagine standing in line at Harvey Nichols waiting to buy the most gorgeous silk Gucci dress. The only minor problem? You can’t afford it, it’s a size smaller than you are, and you have absolutely no place to wear it. 

Meet Natalie Flemming: a twenty-something woman working in London for a fabulous shoe-designing firm, but the only thing they let her touch is the company’s tax forms.  She has decided to give fate a vacation and takes the task of finding the man of her dreams (or Johnny Depp if he would just return her calls…) into her own hands.

She craves adventure, spontaneity, passion-or will just settle for a decent date.

About the author...

Emily Harper has a passion for writing humorous romance stories where the heroine is not your typical damsel in distress. Throughout her novels you will find love, laughter, and the unexpected!

Originally from England,  she currently lives in Canada with her wonderful husband, beautiful daughter, mischievous son,  and a very naughty dog.

My thoughts...
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review by the author which I'm more than happy to give.

What a book! Emily gave us the perfect lead character in Natalie, she comes across as a totally scatty, shallow airhead - something she is very clearly not as her job as an accountant for a shoe company would indicate.  Unlucky in love, accident prone and hilarious sum up her character sweetly.  She places a singles ad and each chapter of the book is started off with a letter to her perfect man.  

The company she works for is in trouble and brings in an outside firm to head a marketing campaign  - this was headed by Oliver Miles.  He is drop dead gorgeous and finds himself on the receiving end of many of Natalie's white lies as well as somehow managing to turn up on her blind dates too!

This book is light hearted, funny and hilarious in parts - we get to know enough about the characters to care and find that outward appearances are not always a true reflection of the person within.  Natalie in particular masks her lack of confidence/self worth behind the mask of office clown.  Oliver is the one that makes her break out - push her boundaries and look at herself.  He plays good cop bad cop so well - as a reader I never doubted him, I thoroughly understood and liked him. He pushes her just far enough then brings her back in.

You can't help cringing at some of the situations Natalie finds herself in, yet at the same time  every woman will be able to relate to her no matter how confident we are.  Let's face it - women over think, over analyse and dissect every situation.

If you're looking for a feel good book, that you'll smile whilst reading and laugh out loud every other page then this is the book for you - I loved it, the perfect read for a sunny afternoon in the garden.

I gave this book 4/5 stars


How To Win A Guy In Ten Dates - Jane Linfoot

About the book...
The 10 Date Challenge
Day 1: Take one loaded commitment-phobe explosives expert, embarking on the impossible–a challenge to have ten dates with one woman.
Day 5: Add in a fiercely independent and feisty burlesque teacher who has sworn off men.

Day 10: She’s so not his type and he’s so not in her life-plan. But the heat is sizzling and the attraction is explosive. And they’re fighting it all the way….

About the author...
Jane Linfoot writes fun, flirty fiction, with feisty heroines and a bit of an edge. 

She lives in a mountain kingdom in Derbyshire, England, where her family and pets are kind enough to ignore the domestic chaos – happily, they are in walking distance of a supermarket. She enjoys writing romance because it means she gets to wear pretty shoes instead of wellies. She loves hearts, flowers, happy endings, all things vintage, most things french. 

When she’s not on Facebook or twitter, and can’t find an excuse for shopping, she’ll be walking, or gardening. On days when she wants to be really scared, she rides a tandem.


My thoughts...
I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review by the author Jane Linfoot which I'm more than happy to do.

The title misled me a bit, I was expecting to find a woman on a mission - setting out to snare the perfect man.  How wrong could I be? What I got was a love them and leave them gigalo who was challenged by his sister and best friend to have ten dates with the same person without revealing who he really was or his substantial wealth - what he doesn't bargain on is happening upon a woman who is equally determined to avoid relationships at all costs.

Ed clearly was used to women dropping at his feet and feisty Millie was more than a match for him.  This was a magical tale of cat and mouse - of both Ed and Millie trying to stick to their game plan and trying to quash their feelings - both startled by the emotions that kept rising.

Once again Jane has surpassed herself - her descriptions are so vivid I could have been in France with them when Ed took Millie so he could participate in the annual fireworks display.  I finished this book several weeks ago and yet I can still see the village, the castle, its grounds and the tent that Ed and Millie stayed in - I can feel the heat and clearly visualise the electric storms taste the food and drink the wine.

All of those elements tug Ed and Millie back and forth towards each other and away like they are joined on elastic - they amplify the emotions as each are drawn towards each other, exploding in a passion neither are prepared for - it is electric and all consuming.  Then just as fast one of them pulls back as if doused by cold water.

I constantly willed them both to be up front, be honest and open with each other but each of them hold back yet at the same time push each other to the limits.  The passion is palpable and I loved the way each brought out the others vulnerability and emotions.  This is a book that will make you smile, laugh and sit quietly - you'll feel the heat and not just from the sun. Do they get a happy ending? You'll have to read it yourself and find out - I loved it and I'm sure you will too.

Love Me for me - Jenny Hale

About the book...
Sometimes you find perfect where you least expect it...

Libby Potter has just lost the perfect job, the perfect apartment and the perfect boyfriend. Moving back to the same home town that she couldn’t wait to escape when she was younger was definitely not on her to- do list. Especially as it means running into the man whose heart she broke when she left.

Pete Bennett can still walk into a room and make Libby’s world stop with just the sound of his voice – even ten years on. Only now, she is the last person in the world that he wants to see.

As everyone else welcomes Libby home with open arms, she realises she’s missed that special closeness that comes from lifelong friendship. And, as Libby tries to make amends with Pete, she begins to wonder whether she made the right choice in leaving all those years ago. When an amazing career opportunity gives her the chance to leave again, Libby will have to decide what her version of perfect is... and where she really belongs. 

About the author...

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

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

Coming Home for Christmas went on to be a Kindle hit on both sides of the Atlantic - reaching the top 20 in the UK. Love Me for Me is Jenny's second novel.



My thoughts...
I was offered an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest opinion by Jenny's publishers Bookouture which I'm more than happy to give.

Where to start? The cover is just beautiful, I'd buy it without reading any blurb based on that image alone! It evokes happy feelings of summer, love and perfection - it didn't prepare me for the gut wrenching heartache I felt at times. This book was amazing, Jenny took me on an emotional roller coaster that was both exhilarating and stomach dropping at the same time.

Libby left her home town of White Stone for New York, destined for bigger things, burning her bridges by the scathing comments she made to everyone before she left.  She appeared to have made the right choice she found the perfect job, home and fiancé and was living the dream until restructuring saw her lose her job and with it her home and fiancé.  We begin the tale with Libby back in her home town feeling more than a little sorry for herself, determined to get her life back on track and head back to New York at the first possible opportunity.

This was an enjoyable, easy read that had so many elements I was sucked right in.  I could so easily have lived In White Stone, Jenny's descriptions are so visual.  Libby was a character who I changed my opinions of many times.  I felt pity to begin with, then I thought she was a stuck up cow who deserved everything she had coming to her, then I was rooting for her, wanting her to see what was around her, to express her feelings, to talk to those she cared about and find her happy ever after.

This story is a classic tale of past hurts influencing judgements, of living our life through someone else's dreams and allowing them to form our opinions.  The edges were so blurred that it was difficult at first to see whether Libby's choices were really her own or just that she thought they were her own.  Libby had deep opinions of White Stone and the community she used to live in and she struggled emotionally when she found herself remembering life growing up there.

I had many tear welling moments as Libby had to confront her past, the memories of happy times growing up clearly hurting her. This story does come full circle - the past chipping away at the hard coating she had put around her heart - relationships, friendships, love, contentment & enlightenment all play a big part in awakening Libby from the state she'd been living in.  Relationships are analysed and new ones forged, but most of all Libby starts putting others first, considering their feelings not her own!

This book will teach you so many things about life. The grass isn't always greener, success and high achievement don't necessarily make happiness and sometimes you have to take a step back to see what is under your nose. If you put someone else's feelings first and give without expecting anything in return you may find you receive all you've been looking for.

What a journey! I can't recommend this book enough - it's a book that will keep you guessing right up until the final pages - a book that isn't all hearts and flowers yet has left me feeling happy and content, perfect! 

I gave this book 5/5 stars

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Vintage Summer Wedding - Jenny Oliver



I'm so pleased to be part of the blog tour for the lovely Jenny Oliver, I have a guest post to share with you today and a review later in the week.

About the book...

Spending the summer uncovering hidden treasures in a vintage shop, Anna can still vividly remember both her childhood dreams; the first was that she’d become a Prima Ballerina, and dance on stage resplendent in a jewel-encrusted tutu. The second was that at her wedding she would walk down the aisle wearing a collective-gasp-from-the-congregation dress.
Years ago Anna pirouetted out of her cosy hometown village in a whirl of ambition…but when both of those fairy-tale dreams came crashing down around her ballet shoes, she and fiancée Seb find themselves back in Nettleton, their wedding and careers postponed indefinitely…

Don’t they say that you can never go home again? Sometimes they don’t get it right… This one summer is showing Anna that your dreams have to grow up with you. And sometimes what you think you wanted is just the opposite of what makes you happy…

The book is currently available for £2.99 as Google Play Read of the Week so it would be great if you could include a link to that promo too - http://bit.ly/1tnH0t5

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 and The Vintage Summer Wedding is her follow up.
Follow Jenny on twitter: @JenOliverBooks

Guest post...

Jenny Oliver's dream vintage wedding… 

Well to start with there would be hundreds of lanterns. I was in a cafe in Central Park in New York and when I looked up I saw that the trees were hung with vintage, chintzy lampshades. They were all lit with coloured lights and shone in the twilight - I was instantly smitten and when I have a garden of my own I'll probably have them in my trees always. 

Along the pathways at this wedding would be lots of jam jars of all different shapes and sizes with flickering tea lights and the tables would have flowers in old coke bottles or coloured tins. I might pot up a few dandelions and have them on the tables as well or daffodils - depending on the season. Lots of yellow! I went to a Christmas wedding once that was a marquee packed with Christmas trees decorated only with white fairy lights and it looked amazing… 

Like Anna in THE VINTAGE SUMMER WEDDING I might have a tea party rather than a full blown three course meal - so delicate fairy cakes, bright coloured macaroons and big fat Victoria sponges all served on vintage plates of all different shapes and sizes. 

I'm not very good with music so I'd let my husband-to-be choose what we danced to - although I would like a band that played outdoors…(I'm imagining some French village square where people dance all night to the local band and there's spontaneous singing under plane trees and bunting.) The men would wear tweed. The bridesmaids could wear whatever they liked. And I'd scour lots of shops until I eventually went back to the very first one and bought the lovely dress that I tried on at the beginning! 

Vintage or ultra modern I think the best weddings are where everything is relaxed (a trick that usually involves the most planning!) and the decor and style echo the couple themselves rather than tradition. 

As mentioned before, if you so wish you can offer a vintage inspired item as a prize to your followers. You can wither pick something from this Pinterest board or let your winner decide themselves. We suggest the easiest way to run the competition is by using a rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If that isn't enough Jenny's publisher Carina UK are also running a comp on their Pinterest page for the chance to win a luxury summer hamper from Fortnum & Mason. Check it out here.

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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Closing In - Sue Fortin

It gives me great pleasure to be part of this Blog Tour for Sue Fortins new book Closing In organised by Fiction Addiction Book Tours

About the book...


Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn?
Helen has had to leave everything she’s ever known behind; her home, her family, even her own name.
Now, returning to the UK as Ellen Newman, she moves to a small coastal village, working as a nanny for Donovan, a criminal psychologist. Attractive, caring and protective, this single father and his sweet daughter are a world away from Ellen’s past. She thinks she’s escaped. She thinks she’s safe.
But something is wrong. Strange incidents begin to plague her new family, and their house of calm is about to become one of suspicion and fear. Who can be trusted? Who is the target? Who is closing in?
For fans of Emily Barr & Rosamund Lupton

Excerpt

Prologue

The bag had been hidden at the back of the loft for several weeks now. Packed and ready to go. Helen checked the contents. The all-important papers were there. Deed poll, change of name. New bank account. New bank card. New passport. She ran her finger over the gold embossed coat of arms of the little red book before flicking through the green pages, pausing at the photograph. The face that had stared back at her all these years was the same; shoulder length blonde hair, hazel eyes and fair complexion but the name betrayed the picture. Helen Matthews was no more.
‘Hello, Ellen Newman.’ It was a whisper. Helen barely dared to say her new name out loud. The past twelve months had taught her caution at all times. She had been waiting for this opportunity for what seemed like forever; like a sleeper cell, her escape plan could finally be activated. Her hand shook at the thought of what lay ahead. A mixture of anticipation and fear. She took a moment to calm her breathing and bring the rush of adrenalin under control. She needed to keep a clear head and not panic. She had rehearsed this over and over again in her mind for several months. The anxiety passed, allowing the control to take its place. She closed the passport and stuffed it back into the holdall. ‘Come on, Ellen, let’s get you out of here.’ 


‘What do you mean, you don’t know where she is, Kate?’ He squeezed his mobile phone tightly, feeling the frustration rise but fought to keep it in check. ‘You’re her best friend. Surely she told you where she was going?’
‘Look, Toby, I honestly don’t know where she is.’
Toby didn’t miss the guarded note in Kate’s voice. She wasn’t going to tell him anything. He took a deep breath and forced a conciliatory tone. ‘I don’t even know why she took off. I got back from a weekend away clay pigeon shooting and found a note. I’m worried about her. That’s all. Please, Kate?’ Jesus, was he going to have to beg?
‘Okay,’ Kate relented. ‘If I hear from her, I’ll tell her to ring you or something.’
‘Thanks. I really appreciate it. I feel lost without her.’ Finishing the call he dropped his phone on to the sofa and picked up the note Helen had left.
Toby, by the time you read this, I will be gone. I am leaving you for good and not coming back. Things between us have become too bad. Please don’t try to find me. It’s over between us. Helen
P.S. Please remember to feed Scruffs. I’ve stocked the cupboard up with cat food so you don’t need to buy any more for at least a week.

He looked at Scruffs stretched out on the sofa next to him. Toby reached over and ran his fingers up and down the cat’s neck. He could feel all the tiny bones of its skeleton beneath the fur and skin. Scrawny little thing. Helen adored that cat and, yet, she had left it. This was all so out of character for her. Running out on him, on the cat, on their life together. It was the last thing he thought she would do. How had he not seen this coming and where in God’s name could she have gone? He was sure Kate knew. In fact, he’d stake his Square Mile bankers’ salary on it. Scooping the cat up, Toby continued to stroke the tortoiseshell fur as he walked over to the full length window. He stood looking out over the Islington skyline.
His finger and thumb massaged the back of the cat’s neck, before sliding all the way around, meeting under its chin. 
‘You’re out there somewhere, Helen.’ He dropped Scruffs to the floor, ignoring the squeak of protest at the rather unceremonious dismissal. Toby pressed his forehead against the glass, the palms of his hands following suit. ‘I’m not letting you go without a fight, that’s for sure, sweetheart.’ 

About the Author...

Lover of cake, Dragonflies and France. Hater of calories, maths and snakes. Sue was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex.
Sue is married with four children, all of whom patiently give her time to write but, when not behind the keyboard, she likes to spend her time with them, enjoying both the coast and the South Downs, between which they are nestled.

To find more about Sue visit her blogs...

My thoughts...

I was given an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of a blog tour to promote 'Closing In' by Sue Fortin, which I am more than happy to do.

I love a psychological, suspense book as much as I love a romance.  This book is a bonus as it has both genres in the one book, although I have to say it does lean heavily towards the former.  I went through many emotions reading this book - the worst being panic and fear.  I thought reading on a sunny, early evening would dampen the emotions the book evoked - wrong!

It was clear from the start that there has been problems within Helen's relationship with her partner Toby, so much so that she has got herself a new identity as Ellen and leaves the country, returning six months later to work as a nanny.  She told no-one other than her best friend where she had gone and where she was living. Although, she did leave Toby a note to say she had left him - something which seems to enrage him! He was determined to find her and we immediately saw his controlling behaviour emerge - it was almost like 'how dare she leave me? I didn't tell her she could go'!

This was an easy, fast paced book to read so, if you like a book that will have you second guessing, that also has suspense, drama, romance, love and friendship,  then I have to say, this is the book for you.  I read this book in two sittings and literally couldn't put it down.  I got more than I bargained for and an ending that left me open mouthed, not quite what I was expecting - a difficult thing to do so well done Sue.  This book isn't predictable in any way.  Yes, as the book progressed I wanted certain outcomes and sometimes I was right, but most times I wasn't. 

It was particularly lovely to read about the new relationships Ellen forged with both Donovan and his daughter Izzy - both were extremely likeable characters. I couldn't help hoping Donovan was the good guy and would become the rock Ellen needed to anchor herself to. Was he? You'll just have to read the book yourself to find out.  

This was Sue's second novel so I will definitely be looking up her first to read as she well and truly sucked me in with this one.  All in all this is a brilliant book, written by a lovely author who, with a writing style like this deserves success, so thank you for 'Closing In

I gave this book 4/5 stars

Friday, 16 May 2014

Other Halves by Nick Alexander

About the book...
Hannah and Cliff’s marriage is over. After a traumatic family holiday, Cliff’s lies have been exposed and Hannah has been reunited with her lost love, Cliff’s brother, James. But after fifteen years together, and forever bound by love for their eleven-year-old son, Luke, breaking free and starting again seems impossible.

A new life in Australia with James beckons for Hannah – but can she embark on this adventure without losing the love of her son? And can Cliff finally face up to issues he has suppressed since adolescence and find happiness in a confusing world?

Amid the turmoil of separation, and with Luke caught in the crossfire, both Hannah and Cliff face the challenge of rebuilding their lives. To make the other halves of their lives count, they need courage and determination. But perhaps it’s more than they possess . . .

About the author...

I grew up in the seaside town of Margate England with four brothers including three on the web: Matthew AlexanderGreg AlexanderSteven Alexander who are all painters as was our father, Chris.

On leaving Margate, I moved to the Midlands and then Cambridge. In 1991, in need of adventure, I headed off with a backpack finally settling in Nice France where with the exception of a brief, exciting stint in New York, I have lived ever since.
After being refused by truly every publisher in the world, I self-published my first novel 50 Reasons to Say Goodbye in 2003. Encouraged by its success, I wrote and published four sequel novels: Sottopassaggio (2005), Good Thing / Bad Thing (2006), Better Than Easy (2009) and Sleight of Hand (2010) as well as a standalone novel, 13:55 Eastern Standard Time (2007).

My self published 2011 title The Case Of The Missing Boyfriend reached #1 in Amazon’s UK chart and gained me my first proper publishing contract with Corvus-Atlantic who also republished the entire 50 Reasons series and the sequel to The Case Of The Missing Boyfriend, The French House which sold more than 200,000 copies.

My 2012 novel The Half-Life Of Hannah, though mysteriously refused for publication by Corvus, again, once self published, reached number one and sold over 275,000 copies, and the paperback rights were subsequently purchased by Black and White Publishing Black and White are also publishing the Hannah sequel entitled Other Halves in both ebook and paperback, so I seem, finally, to be on a bit of a roll. Long may it last!

I also edit and contribute to the gay lit website, BIGfib.com

I currently spend half my time in Nice, and the other half in a cabin in the French Alps where I get bored enough to actually concentrate on writing. But whenever I can, I jump on a plane or a train to London, my favourite city in the world.

Author Links
My thoughts... 
I read an ecopy of this book as part of the Blog Tour organised by Fiction Addiction I had previously read The Half Life of Hannah and jumped at the chance to read Other Halves to find out what happened after the holiday in France ended and they all went home.

I finished the last book totally disliking Cliff - Hannah's husband and feeling sorry for Hannah, hoping that she would get her happy ending with James once everyone returned to England.

However, like real life nothing is ever as simple as it seems and all three struggle to come to terms with their new domestic arrangements.  Each one suffering their own 'demons' about their part in how they come to be in the situation they have ended up in.

The story is told from both Cliff and Hannah's perspective and Nick has created characters that are more complex than they first seem - I found Cliff to be softer in this book a more rounder, deeper character and Hannah has had her edges roughened so doesn't quite come across as the soft, gentle victim in this book.  As for James, for me he demonstrates characteristics that aren't always something he should be proud of - not forgetting he and Cliff are brothers too!

A truly, riveting read, demonstrating how relationships and children play a big part in your future - no matter what the circumstances a past life cannot and should not be completely erased. It's not always easy to close a chapter of your life and begin a new one with a completely clean page.

This book could easily be read in one sitting, a long afternoon or evening and could be read as a stand alone book but I feel the book is all the better if the reader, like I had, had read the Half Life of Hannah first.

A sign of a good book for me is when there are still questions that could be answered - Nick I feel could follow this story on and I personally would welcome a third - it would be nice to know what happens in the future to Cliff in particular as I went from disliking him totally in The Half Life of Hannah, to feeling real empathy for him in this book 'Other Halves'

I gave this book 4/5 stars

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