31 July 2014

Book Extract: A Girl Called Summer by Lucy Lord

Today, I am thrilled to host an extract of Lucy Lord's brand new book A Girl Called Summer. The book sounds fantastic, and with a cover that screams 'summer read', this is definitely one you'll be wanting to read on the beach this summer. The book is out now, but read the extract now to whet your appetite!

You can buy A Girl Called Summer as a paperback or an eBook now.

You can read the extract from A Girl Called Summer right here, just click to view!

"A new start…
Bella and Andy have escaped the rat race for the sun-drenched, relaxed lifestyle on the island of Ibiza. But with a run-down house to make habitable and a distractingly gorgeous neighbour, is their island idyll all that it seems?

A holiday adventure…
Tamara Gold has been Hollywood’s most notorious car crash since she was a child star. Now clean and sober, and engaged to Tinseltown’s hottest leading man, it seems like she’s finally conquered her addictions, if not her bratty behaviour. But a summer in Europe with all the hedonistic lures of Ibiza beckons…

A girl called Summer…
Summer Larsson has always known Ibiza as home: a haven of hippies, yoga and healthy eating – and loneliness. But in Bella, she’s found the friend she always needed, and when Bella’s glamorous Hollywood friends come to visit, it looks like she might have found true love as well…

This could be the summer that everything changes…"

30 July 2014

Book Review: Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan

"There are some summers you’ll remember forever

Fiery chef Élise is determined to make this summer one of them – but with the grand opening of her chic French café falling apart – it looks like it might for all the wrong reasons.

Until Sean O’Neill comes back to town.

Last Summer Élise and Sean shared one hazy whirlwind night together – and Elise is looking forward to repeating their last encounter.

As long as she can stick to her one-night-only rule and listen to her head rather than her heart. After all, Sean hates life in his home town and is planning on leaving again soon as he can.

But recapturing the magic of last summer could be about to change everything…."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy Suddenly Last Summer as a paperback or an eBook now!

Suddenly Last Summer is the second in Sarah Morgan's 'Snow Crystal' trilogy, which I got into reading last winter when she released the first book in the series with publishers Mills & Book called Sleigh Bells in the Snow. I absolutely loved that book, so I was thrilled to be sent the second book for review. I think the cover for this book is great too, so summery and bright, for me a cover is so important! Even if you haven't read the first book, this is definitely an enjoyable read and I would certainly recommend it for holiday reading!

Although business is slowly picking up at Snow Crystal resort thanks to the input of Kayla and Jackson, there's still a way to go before it's safe and the family can finally relax. For French chef Elisé, she's made Snow Crystal her home after a tumultuous past and wants to make the restaurants as much of a success as she can. She doesn't bank on Jackson's handsome brother Sean making a return to Snow Crystal, and sitting up a load of feelings that she doesn't want to be feeling. Elise was happy with their one night together, but she's not sure it was enough for Sean. Will the pair be able to put their feelings aside and help Snow Crystal get back on its feet, or is the magic of their last time together too much to resist?

Both Elise and Sean are characters we first met in Sleigh Bells in the Snow, although they had more minor parts in that book. However, I love that this was based around the same family and resort so you feel like you know them well, and it was fun to see more of Kayla and Jackson too, who the first book centred around. A bit of a troubled past has been hinted at for Elise before, and I've been wondering what it is, and luckily all is revealed in this book. We understand why Elise is so reluctant to want to commit to anyone, especially Sean, and why she is so determined to stay at Snow Crystal. I loved her French temperament, the fire in her belly, and her passion for her cooking as well.

Although I loved Elise, my favourite was Sean. He's a very successful surgeon, and the only one in the family who has chosen to live away from the resort, and is fairly reluctant to return as well. He doesn't seem to mind what his family think of his reluctance to come back home, but stays close to his brothers, especially his twin Jackson. I loved the chemistry he had with Elise, it was really fun to read and I was hoping that the two would get together, they seemed to be very attracted to each other and were staying apart for what seemed silly reasons! He seems a bit of a hero for the book, and I was quite happy to read a whole book based on him.

The setting of Snow Crystal was brilliant as usual, and we get to see a lot more of the restaurant side of the business due to the story being based around Elise. I loved reading about the set-up of the new restaurant too, how much Elise was determined to make it a success and what she put into it as well. Another element of the story that I really enjoyed was the relationship between Sean and his grandfather, it goes to show how we react in certain situations can change a relationship, sometimes irretrievably and I so wanted the pair of them to make it up. It was a lovely family-oriented story, and I was rapt from beginning to end. I'm really excited to read the final installment in the trilogy this winter, although I will be sad to leave Snow Crystal and the family behind! This is a fabulous summer read, there's a bit of everything in here - romance, laughs, family drama and the odd sex scene as well! I loved it, and definitely recommend it as a great summer read!

Blog Tour: Thirteen Weddings by Paige Toon

Today I am delighted to be part of Paige Toon's blog tour for her brilliant new book Thirteen Weddings! I read and reviewed the book a few weeks ago, and now I am thrilled to bring you an author article from Paige about her Top 5 Wedding Songs. Enjoy! My thanks go to Dawn from publishers Simon & Schuster for organising the blog tour, and to Paige for taking the time to write this piece!

You can read my review of Thirteen Weddings here.

You can buy Thirteen Weddings as a paperback or an eBook now!

Top 5 Wedding Songs

It took my husband-to-be and me ages to decide on a first dance song for our wedding, so in the end we went for The Conga and led all the guests around the Barbican Garden Rooms where we had our reception. We followed this up with The Beautiful South’s Dumb and INXS’s Never Tear Us Apart. My husband is from East Yorkshire and I’m from Australia so we figured they were fitting choices…

As for my top five wedding song recommendations, you could do worse than add these to your playlist…

Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper
I felt like I had to choose an 80s classic considering Alex and Bronte from Thirteen Weddings meet in an 80s club. This is my favourite Cyndi song – I listened to it over and over when I was a teenager.

Crazy In Love by Beyoncé
One of my favourite songs ever. Get everyone on the dance floor and shake some booty! The 1920’s inspired Emeli Sandé version from The Great Gatsby soundtrack is also great and very classy.

Wicked Game by Chris Isaak
Surely one of the sexiest, sultriest songs ever written? Maybe this is one for the end of the night when everyone is drunkenly swaying in their lovers’ arms – or the arms of someone they’re hoping could be their lover (if they’re not toooooo drunk…).

Underneath It All by No Doubt
I love the reggae vibe of this song and lyrics like, ‘You see the colours in me like no one else.’ Funnily enough, Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale got married in the same church as my hubbie and me only weeks before. (St Paul’s in Covent Garden, London.) They, like us, are still going strong after eleven years. One, two, three: AWW!

Your Song by Elton John
I was trying to find something more upbeat and rocky for my last suggestion, like Billy Idol’s ‘White Wedding’, or Aerosmith’s brilliantly cheesy ‘Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’, but in the end I had to settle for good old Elton. This is my favourite song of his – the lyrics are beautiful beyond words. I’ve just checked and I actually have four versions of this song on iTunes, including covers by Ellie Goulding and Ewan McGregor, so I must really like it!

Well, that’s it, and if you’re getting married anytime soon, I wish you all the very best of love and luck!

‘Always the photographer, never the bride…’
Thirteen Weddings is a bittersweet love story about Bronte, a wedding photographer who falls in love with a groom.

A note from Paige: Sign up to my book club, ‘The Hidden Paige’, at www.paigetoon.com for free short stories, competitions and the chance to find out more about me and my characters and what we’re all up to.
Follow me on Twitter @PaigeToonAuthor or visit me at www.Facebook.com/PaigeToonAuthor

Thanks so much, Paige!

26 July 2014

Book Review: Two Weddings and A Baby by Scarlett Bailey

"Tamsyn Thorne has not been back to her home town of Poldore for five long years.

But now her brother, Ruan, is about to get married and she has no excuses left.

Her plans to arrive in Cornwall looking chic and successful are dashed when a huge storm turns her from fashion goddess to a drowned rat. Worse, she ends up insulting the local hunky vicar - and then finds a tiny baby abandoned in his churchyard..."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy Two Weddings and a Baby as a paperback or an eBook now.

Scarlett Bailey is quickly flying up my must-read list, so when she released a summer this year, as opposed to her usual festive novel, I was really excited to read it and see what she would do with this one. I didn't realise before I started reading that it's sort of a follow up to her 2013 Christmas book Just for Christmas, which was a fantastic story. We go back to the fictional town of Poldore, catch up with the characters there and meet some new ones too. This book has just solidified Scarlett Bailey's place on my top 10 authors list, and makes me look forward to more from her!

Tamysn Thorne has stayed away from he home town for 5 long years, but now her brother Ruan is getting married to Alex, she knows she can't put off the inevitable any longer. She's got a successful career working in the fashion industry in Paris, and is sure returning to Cornwall is like a step backwards again. But as Tamsyn returns, a massive storm hits Poldore, and the town is left in ruins, as well as Tamysn utterly drenched. She manages to insult the local vicar Jed as she makes Poldore her home once more, and ends up finding a baby in the churchyard in the pouring rain. Tamsyn's life takes a massive turn as Poldore starts to pick itself up again, and maybe returning home wasn't the mistake Tamsyn thought it would be...

It actually doesn't matter if you haven't read Just for Christmas when you start this book - everything you need to know is explained well enough in this book, but I would personally recommend you read the previous novel, it was Christmas read of the year 2013 and was a superb story. The characters of Alex and Ruan, who were the main characters in that book, appear quite a lot in this book too, so it was lovely to catch up with them, as well as the other residents of Poldore. It was good to see them through Tamsyn's eyes too, someone who didn't know some of them and hasn't been around for a while. so it was good to re-meet these characters again.

Tamsyn's name had cropped up in Just for Christmas, but we didn't know too much about her. Therefore I enjoyed reading much more about her in this book. I found her quite unlikeable at first, she seemed snobby and rude to the locals, thinking she was to good to be back in Poldore after her luxurious life in Paris working in fashion. However, as the book goes on and more is revealed about Tamsyn, we realise perhaps she is different to the facade she puts on. I did warm to her, especially as she grows ever closer to the baby she rescued from the churchyard. Seeing her adapt to being a substitute mother for baby Mo was touching, and really enjoyed this, along with the scenes with Tamsyn and vicar Jed. The two had chemistry for sure, and I loved how Scarlett was able to weave the light-hearted side of their friendship with Jed's more serious past, it was so well written, it all just came together perfectly in the book.

The town of Poldore, although battered and broken, sounded as wonderful as ever. It has the sense of real community about it, everyone looking out for each other and caring for each other, especially in the aftermath of the storm. I loved everything about this book, from the return of Tamsyn and her transformation thanks to baby Mo, to Jed and his personal story, and all the other stories in between. I whizzed my way through the book because it was so enjoyable, and I felt so invested in the story, wanting to find out what Tamsyn would do, who Baby Mo's mum was and what would happen to Poldore. Bailey has a real talent for writing, and although it isn't overly summery due to the massive storm, it's a great beach read and one you'll want to devour once you start it! This is one of my favourite books by Scarlett Bailey so far, and I was especially pleased it was a follow-up to the brilliant Just for Christmas! Definitely a must-read from me.

25 July 2014

Book Review: Ice Creams at Carrington's by Alexandra Brown

"Georgie Hart and Carrington’s Department Store have got the world at their feet. Since a reality TV series put them both on the map, life has been amazing! Carrington’s profits are in the pink, Georgie has carved herself a place in the nation’s heart and her romance with Tom, the store’s boss, has finally blossomed.

Now summertime has come to Mulberry-on -Sea and Georgie is in great demand. The town is holding a big summer festival and she and her mates from Carrington’s are planning on making sure that Mulberry puts on the show of its life!

But Georgie is about to get the offer of a lifetime – one that is just too good to turn down and something that will test her loyalties to their limits… Will Georgie be able to pull off it off once again, or has her luck finally run out?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Ice Creams at Carrington's as a paperback or an eBook now.

I do love a good book series, so when Alexandra Brown first released her Carrington's series, I was really excited to start liking some new characters and get stuck into a new book series at long last. Ice Creams at Carrington's is the third book in the series, a gorgeous summery read that you'll want to be reading on the beach or at least in your garden on the sunlounger with an ice cream of your own in your hand! I love the cover as well, it's perfect for the book and matches the rest in the series too, which I always like. So here's why I think Ice Creams at Carrington's is the perfect summer read.

Georgie Hart is back, and is more successful than ever with her job at Carrington's department store. She's still happily in love with her boyfriend Tom, and it seems like life is treating her well. Carrington's is successful as a business, and with summer approaching, the store decides to sponsor the local summer festival in Mulberry-on-Sea. Georgie is put in charge of helping to organise the stalls and manage the store's input in the festival too due to her popularity after starring on a reality show based around Carrington's. However, Georgie soon realises the scale of the job she's taken on, and is being pulled in all sorts of directions.When she gets the offer of a lifetime, Georgie is torn between her loyalty to Carrington's and this amazing opportunity... which one will Georgie choose when push comes to shove?!

While you don't have to have read the previous books in the series to enjoy this one, it obviously helps to know the backstory of Georgie and Carrington's, as things are referenced. However, if you haven't read the other books, this is still a very enjoyable read and there's enough in there to tell you all you need to know. As this is the third book, I feel like I've gotten to know these characters really well, especially Georgie, Tom and Georgie's best friend Sam, who owns the cake shop within Carrington's. Georgie is the same as always - hard-working, kind and very dedicated to her job, but I liked that she was presented with a bit of a challenge in this book about what she really wants, and gets to travel a little as well, that was different!

I loved the idea of the summer festival - it's something that happens quite often in seaside town and it was easy to picture Mulberry-on-Sea in my mind covered in all the ice-cream vans, stalls and people milling around. The planning side isn't a piece of cake for Georgie though, and there are quite a few funny moments involving this that made me smile! As well as the funny and light-hearted bits of the book, there are quite a few serious sides to the book too, especially involving Georgie's best friend and new mum Sam. I really enjoyed these scenes, they were so well written, and Brown has really done them justice. She handled the emotion and feeling delicately and weaved this story alongside the main plot so well.

It was nice for the book to take a bit of a detour outside of Mulberry-on-Sea for a while, but I won't spoil it and say where Georgie goes on her travels! I liked the addition of this part of the book, and it really added a good element to it. If you've enjoyed the previous books in the series, then you'll definitely want to read this and find out what's next for Georgie and the Carrington's crew. I love reading about Georgie and Tom's relationship and how it grows throughout the books too, it's a sweet love story between those two! I'm hoping that there's still more to come for Georgie, and that we haven't left her behind for good now Alexandra is bringing out a new three-part series set in Tindledale with some new characters This is a lovely, light-hearted summer read that you'll definitely need to pop in your suitcase or on your kindle this summer!

Christmas in July: The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown

Yes, that's right, I've brought back the Christmas in July feature for an extra-special post, as I've been so excited to see the cover for this book!! Alexandra Brown is back this Christmas with a brand new novel called The Great Christmas Knit Off! It's a step away from her fab Carrington's series, so I can't wait to get stuck into this one! It's due out on November 6th, and this is the eBook cover - the paperback one is the same, only white instead of the red. I think this is way more festive though so that's why I've put this one here!

You can pre-order The Great Christmas Knit Off as a paperback or an eBook now.

"The perfect seasonal tale of how laughter, friends and wacky Christmas jumpers can mend a broken heart. For fans of Trisha Ashley and Jenny Colgan.

Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering at work that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to see an old friend in the picturesque village of Tindledale.

Tindledale seems to hark back to a bygone era and to her delight, Sybil also discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, can’t keep up with the rent and now the shop is due for closure. Sybil has some ideas that might help and when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen…"

22 July 2014

Book News: It Started With Paris by Cathy Kelly

Another book I am really looking forward to this autumn is Cathy Kelly's brand new novel, and her first with new publishers Orion! It's called It Started With Paris, and I have to say how much I love the cover, it's gorgeous! I'm lucky enough to have a proof copy already so I can get stuck in soon, but it's out on 9th October, so not too long to wait!

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

"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?"