20 October 2014

eBook Cover Reveal: One Hundred Christmas Proposals by Holly Martin

Today I am thrilled to be part of the cover reveal for Holly Martin's exciting new Christmas novel called One Hundred Christmas Proposals. We'll be catching up with Harry and Suzie again, and if you've read One Hundred Proposals, you'll definitely want to read this sequel! It's out November 3rd.

You can pre-order One Hundred Christmas Proposals as an eBook now!

"If you thought Harry & Suzie’s life couldn't get anymore sweepingly romantic than Harry asking her to marry him at the end of One Hundred Proposals – think again!

It’s Christmas in a snow-kissed London, and the.PerfectProposal.com have vowed to carry out one hundred proposals in December. No easy task at the best of times - made even more complicated by Harry & Suzie trying to plan their first Christmas and a visit from the dreaded in-laws. But one hundred deliciously Christmassy proposals later they find themselves asking if everything is still perfect in their own relationship….

Welcome back to the divinely warm world of One Hundred Proposals – with a sprinkling of pure, joyful, festive magic."

19 October 2014

eBook Review: Humbugs and Heartstrings by Catherine Ferguson

"Two ex-friends. One Christmas to remember …

Bobbie's boss Carol is a real misery-guts, dedicated to making the lives of everyone around her unhappy in pursuit of every last penny. What makes it worse is that the two women have history: once they were best friends.

When handsome hotelier Charlie steps into the frame the two women go to battle as one sees a romantic future ahead and the other a possible lifeboat for her business. With wonderful warmth and humour, and the odd mince pie fight, the women are forced to confront their shared past, the turbulent present and, most importantly, the potential of the future."

Rating: 

You can buy Humbugs and Heartstrings as an eBook now.

Us chick lit fans have been so spoilt for festive fiction this year! There are so many amazing looking christmas books out, I really didn't know where to start this year! Luckily, the beginning was dictated to me as I needed to review this book for my blog tour stop, which is today. I couldn't wait to get started, Christmas books are my favourite books of the whole year, and so I wanted my first one to really get me in the mood and excited for more festive fiction! I was hoping for something hugely festive, but sadly I felt like it seriously lacked in festive feeling, although the story itself was good. However, with the cover and title, I had expected more Christmas-ness and this sadly didn't deliver!

The story itself, as I said was good. I enjoyed the writing of it, the pace and the romance of it all, and that would be have been a higher rating for me, but I really did miss the festive feeling which was such a shame. Yes, towards the end there is a little more but it just was too little, too late for me unfortunately. I loved the little hints towards Charles Dickens' traditional festive tale 'A Christmas Carol' throughout the book - instead of Bob Cratchett as the 'hero' of the book, we have Bobbie Blatchett, her sick little brother is also called Tim (Tiny Tim in Charles' book), and even the villain of the piece had a middle name harking back to Dickens's story, Ebenetta. It was cleverly done and I liked looking out for the little hints dotted throughout.

While I did enjoy the story, there was something very frustrating about Bobbie and the relationship with her boss/former best friend Carol. I was just longing for Bobbie to man up and say something about how she was being treated - I don't think many people could take the rubbish Carol deals her for as long as Bobbie does, and it seems strange that she would just put up with it. Carol was so easy to dislike, everything from her attitude to her duplicity makes you hate her all the more, and I was hoping that in some way, she would get her comeuppance. There was a particular scene between the two women that had me laughing out loud, but also entirely shocked that 2 adult women would behave in that way, at least there was a bit of festiveness about this scene however!

The token male of the story is Charlie, a rather wealthy hotelier that Bobbie immediately takes a liking too. He's handsome, rich and seems like a genuinely nice person too. However, knowing Charlie is in cahoots with Carol to help her ailing cleaning business puts Bobbie off airing her feelings, but is there going to be a way she can make them known without upsetting the business deal? I liked the whole 'will they, won't they' element to the book, and was yearning for a happy ending for Bobbie. Bobbie's own personal troubles with her family were weaved throughout the book, and I liked how loyal she was to her family, determined to help her mother save for her sick brother's desperately needed operation, this was a touching part to the story.

The book was very well written, but I can't help but feel this would have been received better by me had it not been marketed as a festive read. Yes, there's a Christmas fayre within, and the end of the book takes place on Christmas Day (not a spoiler of any kind, it's all leading up to that time of year anyway), but sadly that's about all the Christmas you're going to get in this. I longed for me, even though the story was plenty good enough for me. It's a heart-warming, well written story but just be aware if you're looking for a deeply festive book, this probably won't tick all the boxes for you, as it didn't for me. Nice to curl up with though, for a sweet romance that will keep you turning the pages.

18 October 2014

Book Review: The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan

"Having unexpectedly lost her husband and lacking the means to support herself, Josie DiSanti and her two daughters take refuge in the small town of Mill River, to live with Josie's aunt, Ivy. The sisters, Rose and Emily, are inseparable growing up - until a shocking tragedy tears them apart.

Years later, Rose and Emily return to Mill River for the reading of their mother's will, where they learn that Josie would do anything to force their reconciliation: the sisters must move into neighbouring houses for the summer and work together to locate the key to Josie's safe deposit box, which contains their inheritance. And so, left with no choice, Rose and Emily reluctantly begin their search. But in a place known for its magic and miracles, little do they know that an even greater treasure awaits them."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Mill River Redemption as a paperback or an eBook now.

I was really pleased to be sent a review copy of The Mill River Redemption by publishers Sphere. I first read Darcie Chan's work a few years ago when I read her debut novel, a New York Times Bestselling hit called The Mill River Recluse. It was an emotional but beautifully written book, and I was really excited to get back to Mill River and catch up with the residents. This isn't a sequel to the first book, the story is entirely separate, but for those of us who did read Darcie's first book, it's nice to go back to the town of Mill River and see how things have changed for the residents that we met before. This, though, is even better than her first book, and here's why it is a must-read for me.

Sisters Rose and Emily DiSanti are devastated by the death of their beloved mother Josie. The 2 women are forced to return to Mill River, the town where they grew up but both left years later, neither speaking to the other after a rift that destroyed the bond the girls had. Even in death, Josie is determined to bring the girls back together again, and leaves them a treasure trail of sorts that they must work together to solve in order to gain their inheritance. However, the women are determined not to work together, and neither wants to back down from their stance and it leaves their inheritance hanging in the balance. Will they be able to put their past arguments behind them and work together for one last time?

This story was really good to read from the beginning. Throughout the book, we get flashbacks to the childhood of Emily and Rose with their mother, and these scenes were among some of my favourites. It sounded like they had a pretty idyllic childhood, apart from the shocking death of their father, but everything else was pretty good. Josie, a single mum, is determined to make a success of herself and I enjoyed reading about her building up a career as a realtor (estate agent to us in the UK, I think!) with everything else she has to juggle as well. It all makes their separation now more puzzling, and you know it has to be something bad to drag these once-close sisters apart from each other. As the story moves on and we find out what happened, it is shocking, and I actually could understand the animosity between the pair, especially from Emily's point of view.

The present-day story from these two was very intriguing to read as well. The women are forced to live next door to each other, per their mother's request in her will, and immediately you sense things aren't going to go well. Rose is now a married mother to her son Alex, a gifted child who is forced to live with his mum in Mill River while his father remains in New York. However, Rose is hiding a dark secret, and she's determined to keep it hidden in Mill River. Emily is still single, and determined not to befriend her sister after all the time apart. It's hard to read the hatred between the two, I was longing for them to make it up. It was so well written, jumping from one story to the other with ease, and keeping the reader engaged. We also get to catch up with other residents in between the main story, something else I really enjoyed about the book as it kept it fresh, and it was nice as someone who has read Darcie's previous book to see these characters again.

As before, Mill River sounded utterly picturesque, and the perfect place for Emily and Rose to try and solve their differences. Darcie Chan's writing was fantastic throughout this book as well, allowing the story to develop at a slow pace, but keeping it pacey at the same time. She juggles many stories, from present day to the flashbacks, and the other residents of Mill River too, but it's easy to keep track and follow the story. I especially loved the inclusion of the girls' Great Aunt Ivy, she was fab and I loved reading her part in the girls upbringing and subsequent lives. It was a very moving story, a family saga that will leave you wanting more and sniffing into your tissue by the end at the emotion of it. All the elements of this book have come together perfectly, and I can whole-heartedly recommend this book, it's unputdownable, and just brilliant.

eBook News: Driving Home for Christmas by A. L. Michael

Another festive read coming this year is a new eBook author with Carina, A. L. Michael, whose new book Driving Home for Christmas is out at the end of this month on October 28th. I absolutely love the gorgeous cover, and the title, which also happens to be the title of my favourite Christmas song!

You can pre-order Driving Home for Christmas as an eBook now.

"Megan McAllister is home for Christmas…whether she likes it or not!

Christmas is about family…and for Megan family means two people: herself, and her daughter Skye. It doesn’t mean her parents who, ten years ago, saw her pregnancy as anything but a miracle. And it definitely doesn’t include her irresistible ex-boyfriend Lucas Bright.

So ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ has never been top of Megan’s festive playlist. But for Skye, she knows she needs to spend the holiday season with the people she’s left behind. She can do this. Even if the thought of meeting Lucas under the mistletoe still has her feeling like she’s drunk one-too-many Snowballs!

But somewhere between the hanging of stockings and the crackle of wrapping paper, Christmas starts to sparkle. And Megan begins to wonder if family could be bigger than her and Skye after all…"

15 October 2014

Book Review: The Beginner's Guide to the Birds and the Bees by Sophie Hart

"Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone in order to give a relationship a good dose of TLC…

Sex therapist Annie Hall helps couples put the fizz back into their relationships. It’s a shame her own love life is non-existent. When Jamie who works next door catches her eye, she can’t ignore the spark of chemistry.

Most men would jump at the chance to skive off work for an afternoon quickie with their gorgeous wife, but Nick knows Julia is after only one thing – a baby. Sex shouldn’t be a chore. Can Annie help Julia see that?

Newly engaged Zoe and Simon can’t keep their hands off each other. They’ve decided to take a vow of celibacy until their wedding night. Will Annie help them stick to it? 

Roy and Linda have been married for over thirty years but she’s more interested in the family business than getting intimate with him. Can Annie convince Linda to rediscover her passion for Roy after all this time?

While Annie begins to work her magic with the three couples, she soon discovers that she’ll need to take some of her own advice if she’s going to let a new man into her life."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Beginner's Guide to the Birds and the Bees as an eBook or a paperback now.

I read Sophie Hart's debut novel The Naughty Girl's Book Club last year and absolutely loved it, so I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to review her newest book with brand new publishers Bookouture called The Beginner's Guide to the Birds and the Bees. Again, Sophie Hart has tackled a bit of a taboo subject, sex therapy, and I was wondering where this story was going to go! However, it was an utterly brilliant book that I loved from start to finish, the story was fantastic and I can't recommend it highly enough!

The main character is Annie, who works as a sex therapist. Despite being able to right the wrongs in other people's relationships, she can't seem to make a success of her own, and is perpetually single much to the chagrin of her parents and her happily-loved-up sister. I loved Annie, she was such a nice person, good at her job and unafraid to help even the toughest of cases, and I admired her for that, and her job overall actually! Reading about Annie's job was eye-opening, I think I had envisioned it to be a bit naughtier than it was, but as it happened I enjoyed reading about Annie's sessions with her clients, and finding out about their various problems.

The other characters in the book happen to be Annie's clients that she meets at her office. There's newly engaged couple Zoe and Simon, who are attending Annie's therapy for a different reason to most, but they are sure it's the way to a successful marriage together. There's married couple Nick and Julia who are trying for a baby, but it's starting to affect their marriage and their sex life, can Annie help them get things back on track? The last couple to see Annie are Roy and his wife Linda, they've been married for many years and things have got a bit stagnant. Ray wants more from his marriage, but is that more than Linda wants to give?

As you can see, there's a lot of different characters in the book, but they are all so different that it's easy to differentiate between them all. I loved Zoe and Simon's story, it was really touching and I enjoyed the fact it was very different to the other couples who are having trouble in their marriage. I also enjoyed how Annie handled the troubles between Ray and Linda, and Nick and Julia. I did feel sorry for the males in this book, Nick and Ray, they just want a happy marriage but their wives are just unhappy for different reasons. Nick and Julia are affected by infertility, and the way this was explored in the book was really touching, and very well written.

For me, this was a fantastic story that was so well written, I couldn't stop reading and did not want to put down until the end. I enjoyed following these characters of their journey, whether it was to solve their marriage problems, or to find some sort of happiness for poor Annie, who seems to sort everyone else's love woes apart from her own! There was a great cast of characters here, lots of fun and laughs as well as some tears and sadness, but this just adds to the brilliance of the book. A lot of what happens to these couples is very relatable, you can imagine yourself or people you know going through these problems and that's what made it so enjoyable for me. The writing flows so well, the narrative worked perfectly for the multiple characters, and overall this was a superb read. I won't forget this book for a long time, and I can't wait to read more from Sophie Hart. A must-read!

12 October 2014

Book Review: It Started With Paris by Cathy Kelly

"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?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy It Started With Paris as a hardback or an eBook now.

I've read a few of Cathy Kelly's books and while they have been enjoyable, none have really stood out to me as reads I would want to go back to once I had finished. I was really excited to receive a signed proof copy of Cathy's new book It Started With Paris from her new publishers Orion, complete with a brand new cover look too. I have to be honest, the cover is far more something I would pick up over her older covers, and so I eagerly began the 500 page novel, hoping for a brilliant story and luckily Cathy didn't disappoint!

There's quite a few characters in this book to get your head around but once you get them set in your head, it's easy to follow and work out who is who. The characters are all inter-linked, whether it's by friendship or family links, and I enjoyed this aspect of the book very much, and how Cathy Kelly brings them altogether throughout the book too, to weave a wonderful tale. It begins with a proposal at the top of the Eiffel tower, and the story slowly continues from there. It does move at a relatively slow pace, but it works because there are so many separate stories going on, and you need the detail in each of them for the book to work effectively.

One of my favourite characters in the book was Leila. She's recently separated from her love-rat husband and is struggling to get over him, despite what he did to her. She's also ended up moving into her elderly mother's house to look after it and her dog after she has a terrible fall, and she's forced to face some shocking home truths. Leila does struggle with her emotions in the book, with her relationship with her sister and lots more but I enjoyed reading her story, and seeing her character develop. The different relationships she has within the story had me fixed, from the tentative one with her mother, to the close one she has with her best friend Katy.

Katy and her family also feature heavily in the book. Katy is the character who got engaged, and the upcoming wedding is a big part of the book. We meet her parents, and her fiancé Michael and his divorced mother and father. Michael's mother Grace, a headteacher at a primary school, was another of my favourite characters in the book. She's totally passionate about her job and I loved that, as well as being a devoted mother, and maintaining a good relationship with her ex-husband too. Her story was intriguing, and I was desperate to finish it to find out how things would end up for these characters. As you can see, there are lots of different stories and characters to get your head around, but I love a good family drama and that's exactly what has been delivered here.

Cathy Kelly's writing in this book was brilliant, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from start to finish. She manages to weave many different tales together seamlessly, with the book easily switching from one character to the next smoothly, leaving the reader easily able to follow. There's a lot of emotion in the book too, and Cathy chooses to tackle some quite hard-hitting themes, from illness to eating disorders, failed marriages and single parenthood, all within one book, but it worked for me. Yes, the title hints at a romance, but there's a lot more going on in this book than the cover and title would suggest. For me, this is Cathy Kelly's best book out of all the ones I have read, and when my mum read it, she told me that this is Cathy Kelly 'back to her best'. I loved this book, it's definitely on my keepers shelf and I'm very much looking forward to Cathy's next book.

8 October 2014

Blog Tour: It Started With Paris by Cathy Kelly

I am really excited to be part of Cathy Kelly's blog tour for her brilliant new book It Started With Paris, which I read and loved a few weeks ago. Cathy was kind enough to write me a short piece on engagements in Paris for my blog tour stop so please enjoy it! I will be reviewing It Started With Paris later on today. The book is out tomorrow!

You can pre-order It Started With Paris as a hardback or an eBook now.

"Romance, lights, the Eiffel Tower and a man with a ring…. Yes, it’s the beginning of It Started With Paris and it can only mean one thing: an engagement! When I was younger, engagements on the Eiffel Tower were very popular – cheap flights, you see. And now, we’ve got cheaper flights so I began to think about where you could go for a fabulously romantic engagement in Paris. Obviously, you need to get your man/woman to read this first…

1. Along the banks of the Sene, with glorious honeyed stone buildings rising up behind you and the scent of romance in the air. People will queue to take your photo. 

2. In the Louvre – think about this one. It’s such a thrill to descend beneath the amazing glass pyramid in the first place, but imagine telling people that you stood in front of the Venus de Milo in the Greek and Roman ceramics and your beloved sank to his knees?

3. At night, as you walk in the Jardin de Tuilerie, with the Louvre behind you, the marvellously wild Parisian ferris wheel glittering on one side, and the scent of roses in the air…?

4. Find a lovely dark restaurant (they understand the need for lovely darkened lighting in Paris), where you can get a quiet booth at the back, people will be all around you murmuring in their own languages, or French (even better) and your darling murmurs: ‘will you marry me?'

Girls, would there be anything better? I don’t think so!!

Love, Cathy

Thanks so much, Cathy!