Friday, 31 January 2014

A Bookcase full of Treasure 2- Gary Barlow My Take

October 2006. 

Me and Jenny, 14.2.1994
My very best friend and I have been Take That fans for 14 years by this point.  We'd seen them live.  We'd bought the tshirts (and hats, scarves, badges, keyrings, necklaces, books, cushions.  You name it, we had it).  We'd made scrapbooks filled with pictures cut from magazine and newspapers, literally tens of hours spent with a Pritt Stick and a pair of scissors to preserve pictures of our boys.  We'd listened to the albums hundreds of times, broken our videos from the constant rewinding, written 'imagines' about what life would be like if we ever happened to meet them and they fell in love with us.  But we'd never met any of them.  Until now.

Living the dream, Oct 2006
We woke up about 5am to travel across the Pennines to Manchester.  An early start, but so worth it with the hope of meeting Mr Barlow filling our heads.  Jenny in particular was excited-Gary was(and is) her favourite member of the band (mine was (and is) Howard, for anyone wondering).  First a train, and then a bus, but then we were there, joining a throng of people queuing outside WH Smiths. 

We sat on the cold, hard floor and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Probably about four or five hours in total.  But then there he was infront of us.  Beautiful, charming and most importantly REAL.  When you have loved someone so long from a distance you forget that they actually have the capacity to touch and be touched.  He placed his arm around me for a photo and with my hand on his back I thought 'this is the moment you've been waiting for'.  He signed my book and then kissed my cheek.  GARY BARLOW KISSED ME!

With Jen at The Circus tour, 2009
My Take itself is an insightful read and it had been a long time coming, but the reason that this is one of my most treasured books is because of the memories it holds of a wonderful day with my very best friend and the realisation of a dream I had been harbouring for more than half my life. 

I'm still a Take That fan now (22 years and counting).  I probably always will be. 

I couldn't take a photo of the book as I have left my camera at work!  Doh!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

If you are interested in my writing...

...go and watch my vlog here.  I wanted to record my journey towards (hopefully) publication!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Random Movies Brunch at Random House Publishers- guest speaker Matt Haig

I had been counting down to Saturday 25th January for MONTHS.  I'd had an invite to the Random House Children's Publishers Blogger Brunch and I was bouncing off the walls with excitement.  A chance to talk books, meet bloggers and hear from author Matt Haig were all on the menu.  Although also on the menu was pick and mix, popcorn and a rather fabulous cake made by Harriet, one of the lovely publicists!

There are so many books being made into films at the moment, most notably Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief, and this brunch was a celebration of that.  There are some other cracking adaptations due out over the next 18 months or so, some of which I'll definitely be going to see.

I was actually the first of the bloggers to meet Matt Haig at the event as I arrived so spectacularly late to the event due to signal failure delaying my train!  I must admit to not having read any of this books before, and I didn't immediately recognise him from his twitter icon.

However, Matt was a really interesting speaker. He read us two chapters of his new release and answered questions posed by Jasmine, one of the other publicists, and the bloggers about his forthcoming release Echo Boy and about his life as an author.

So, what did I find out about Matt Haig?

- He is not a huge sci-fi geek, so writing a novel in this genre was very different to his usual work
- When he started writing Echo Boy, he wasn't sure which direction it was going to go in.  Matt said he didn't want it to be a love story as he had 'twilightphobia' (how great a term is that?!)
- Matt says that when he goes to kids events the question asked are always very diverse-and often not about books!
- Echo Boy was largely influenced by a non- fiction book he was given (Physics of the Future) about the future of health care, education, societal developments.
-Matt says that he is nervous about this book as it is so different from his previous books.  He mentioned that it almost felt like this was his debut release as an author.
- When asked if he specifically set out to write for a YA audience, Matt said that in many ways he was afraid of patronising teen readers, so feels Echo Boy is closer to a book for adults than one for children.
- He is a 'pantser' rather than a planner
- His favourite book is Hinton's The Outsiders
- Matt believes that the best YA books have 'attitude'

Most of all, one of my very favourite quotes from the day was what he had to say about the life of an author- 'You either choose to have a life, or write about life'.  As someone who is trying to write themselves I can definitely relate to this comment!  I found myself thinking I had a lot in common with Matt Haig, especially when he spoke candidly about his depression and anxiety and how writing was his therapy.

As well as hearing about the forthcoming releases from Random House (and there are some crackers- I cannot wait to read Bird in particular!) , it was lovely to meet other bloggers.  I had a chat with Leah, one of the book bloggers I met via twitter, and it was only after we'd said our goodbyes I thought I should have taken some photos for the blog!

Huge thanks need to go out to all the staff at Random House for their hospitality-they really are a wonderfully welcoming team, all approachable and have been so helpful to me ever since I started my blog.  Jasmine, Charlotte, Harriet, Clare (and apologies to anyone I have missed!)-thank you for a wonderful event.  I look forward to reviewing some of your titles over the next few months.

Monday, 27 January 2014

The Yorkshire Pudding Club- Milly Johnson

It's just another Milly Monday, o-o-oooooo (in a Bangles style singing voice...)
And today I'm reviewing The Yorkshire Pudding Club, which was Milly's debut novel and is still my absolute favourite of hers.
The Blurb:
Three South Yorkshire friends, all on the cusp of 40, fall pregnant at the same time following a visit to an ancient fertility symbol. For Helen, it’s a dream come true, although her husband is not as thrilled about it as she had hoped.

Not only wrestling with painful ghosts of the past, Helen has to deal with the fact that her outwardly perfect marriage is crumbling before her eyes. For Janey, it is an unmitigated disaster as she has just been offered the career break of a life-time. And she has no idea either how it could possibly have happened, seeing as she and her ecstatic husband George were always so careful over contraception.
or Elizabeth, it is mind-numbing, because she knows people like her shouldn’t have children. Damaged by her dysfunctional childhood and emotionally lost, she not only has to contend with carrying a child she doubts she can ever love, but she also has to deal with the return to her life of a man whose love she must deny herself.

Heart-warming, up-lifting, tear-jerking and lovely, THE YORKSHIRE PUDDING CLUB is the story of how three women find themselves empowered by unexpected pregnancy. How it revitalises one woman’s tired marriage, strengthens another’s belief in herself and brings love and warmth to a cold and empty life.

The Review:

I first read this book as soon as it came out back in 2007- an impulse buy.  I knew nothing of Milly Johnson, I didn't know she lived pretty much down the road from me and I committed the cardinal sin of buying purely on the cover (which was different to the one posted above, but still beautiful and eyecatching).  As it happened, I was pregnant myself when I read The Yorkshire Pudding Club, so the theme obviously resonated with me.  I could empathise with the worries the women in the novel face, the excitement and fear all wrapped up in something you can't see.  In my hormonal state there were tears, particularly for Elizabeth.  Although her story was nothing like my own, I felt like she was a friend and I longed to reach out to comfort her and offer her reassurance.

Rereading this book as the parent of a six year old, I found myself looking at the book in a different way.  Partly nostalgia for my own pregnancy, nostalgia for the feelings I had when I first read the book and also the knowledge that Milly Johnson has gone on to become one of the most successful authors in her genre.  The typical Milly nuances and humour are evident in The Yorkshire Pudding Club (although have, in my opinion, become better executed in her later novels as she has developed her style). 

One thing I love about this book (and many of Milly Johnson's other titles) is the diversity of the characters.  It makes them easy to relate to, keeps the story moving quickly and offers the opportunity to see things from a variety of viewpoints.  It is also a reminder that friendships do not have to be between people from similar background, something which is a great lesson in life.

Overall, I still loved this book second time around.  I have read so many 'chicklit' books about pregnancy but this is the one I like best of all.


The Yorkshire Pudding Club is out now, published by Simon and Schuster.

Cover reveal for The Guestbook- Holly Martin

I am delighted to be able to reveal the cover for Holly Martin's latest release The Guestbook-and look how beautiful it is!

Welcome to Willow Cottage – throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze and make yourself completely at home. Oh, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook!

As landlady of Willow Cottage, the young widow Annie Butterworth is always on hand with tea, sympathy or strong Norfolk cider - whatever her colourful array of guests require.  A flick through the messages in the leather-bound cottage guestbook gives a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of everyone who passes through her doors.

This includes Annie herself - especially now celebrity crime writer Oliver Black, is back in town. He might grace the covers of gossip magazines with a different glamorous supermodel draped on his arm every week, but to Annie, he’s always just been Olly, the man who Annie shared her first kiss with.

Through the pages of the Guestbook Annie and Olly, along with all the guests that arrive at the seaside retreat, struggle with love, loss, mystery, joy, happiness, guilt…and the odd spot of naked rambling! 

Forget sending postcards saying 'wish you were here' - one visit to Willow Cottage and you’ll wish you could stay forever.
I am very excited for this one, due for release on Valentine's Day.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn-Tilly Tennant *Cover Reveal*

Now this book sounds like my kind of book.  And look at the gorgeous cover!
'There’s only one man for Bonnie, and that’s Holden Finn.
The problem is that Holden Finn is a twenty-three-year-old pop megastar with his boy band, Every Which Way, and has no idea she exists. Not only that, but half the women in the world want to be Mrs Finn, including Bonnie’s teenage daughter, Paige. The real men in Bonnie’s life do nothing but let her down, but a man you can’t possibly have can never do that… right? She’s safe inside her fantasy bubble.
Then Paige wins a radio competition to meet Holden and the band, and Bonnie’s carefully-constructed world starts to unravel. She is about to find out that you should be very, very careful what you wish for …'
About Tilly:
Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset but now lives in Staffordshire with her slightly nutty family.  Tilly is married to Mr Tennant (not that one, though a girl can dream). She likes nothing better than curling up in a quiet corner with a glass of wine watching the world go by, but can more usually be found taxiing her daughters to parties or taking them on emergency shopping trips. After a huge list of dismal and disastrous jobs over the years, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing, she began working as a temporary secretary in a hospital to boost her income whilst doing a degree in English and creative writing. This job lasted nine years. Not terribly temporary. But it does mean that she knows just what it’s like to make monumental admin cock-ups, spend the month’s wages in the hospital coffee shop and fall in love with all the doctors. As she’s a smug married, however, it’s fortunate that the doctors in question don’t usually feel the same way.
Tilly is represented by the wonderful, gorgeous Peta Nightingale at LAW.
Get in touch with Tilly:
WIN a £10 amazon gift voucher by commenting on Tilly's blog with your funniest celebrity crush encounter. Good luck to all who enter! 
And I know you all want to know about the celebrities that us book bloggers fancy the pants off (including me!) so watch this video to find out...
There are loads of're in for a treat.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Lipstick on His Collar- Brigid Coady

The third instalment of the Kiss Collection has arrived, and it's got a more adult feel.  The First Kiss was tender and sweet, The Last Kiss an acutely painful read about goodbyes.

Lipstick on His Collar is a different beast entirely.  Still a short, one sitting read of approximately 1,000 words, it explores the emotion and sexual tension within an illicit relationship. It did make me feel a bit voyeuristic and uncomfortable at times, watching the event unfold, yet I couldn't bring myself to stop reading.

These short stories are wonderful, some of my favourite reads so far this year.  Passionate and powerful, Lipstick on His Collar is a dangerous romantic short that I feel almost guilty for enjoying.  But enjoy it I did.  You can find out more by clicking on the link below.

Lipstick on His Collar is out now, published by Harper Impulse, a digital imprint of Harper Collins.


With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Confessions of a Chelsea Boy- Spencer Matthews

I'm a big fan of reality TV.  I know it is trashy, I know it is mindless, but I can't help it.  I love watching Made in Chelsea as it is so far removed from my own life-people swanning off to Dubai at the drop of a hat, glamorous parties every night, huge drama as everyone is snogging everyone else...

Spencer Matthews is often painted as the bad boy in the show, a playboy with little or no regard for the women he eats up (literally and figuratively) and spits out.  From Confessions of a Chelsea Boy it is obvious that he really is a bit of a womaniser, yet he speaks respectfully about previous partners and with great affection for some of his first loves. 

The book also gives information about his upbringing, the tragic loss of his brother who died whilst climbing Everest and never returned home and his experiences with drugs.  I loved reading the stories about his early meetings with Oliver Proudlock and Jamie Laing, his Made in Chelsea costars and of course his relationship with Caggie.

This is probably not a book for anyone except pretty diehard fans of Made in Chelsea, but it does give an insight into the life of one of our biggest reality stars.

As an aside, the photos of him growing up are amusing-he looks exactly as he does now but shorter and with longer hair!

Confessions of a Chelsea Boy is out now.


With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Here Come the Girls- Milly Johnson

I can't believe it is our third Milly Monday already!

Today I'm reviewing Here Come The Girls.

The Blurb
Shirley Valentine, eat your heart out.

Ven, Roz, Olive and Frankie have been friends since school. They day-dreamed of glorious futures, full of riches, romance and fabulous jobs. The world would be their oyster.

Twenty-five years later, Olive cleans other people's houses to support her lazy, out-of-work husband and his ailing mother. Roz cannot show her kind, caring husband Manus any love because her philandering ex has left her trust in shreds. And she and Frankie have fallen out big time. But Ven is determined to reunite her friends and realise the dream they had of taking a cruise before they hit forty.

Before they know it, the four of them are far from home, on the high seas.

But can blue skies, hot sun and sixteen days of luxury and indulgence distract from the tension and loneliness that await their return?

The Review
In typical Milly Johnson fashion, Here Comes The Girls drums home the importance of friendship, especially the unique friendship of people who have known you a long time.  Roz, Ven, Olive and Frankie are all very different, and I am sure that readers will be able to relate to the characters in this book.  My life is nothing like Olive's (thankfully!) and yet I had huge admiration for her- the gumption she possesses is really inspiring. 

The cruise ship location is perfect escapism and exactly what I needed on a cold, miserable January night.  Europe in the sun with the wealthy and the wannabes is much more alluring than Sheffield in the rain with everyone trudging through the puddles looking glum.

As always there is plenty of humour- little witty one liners which had me laughing out loud and fabulous imagery of the quirky minor characters sharing the cruise liner experience with the girls. 

This book is a journey in every way- the personal journey of each girl as they find out more about themselves and their place in the world, the physical journey of the cruise and the emotional journey of the reader who is propelled through a gamut of emotions. 

I enjoy all Milly Johnson books, but this is one of my favourites.  If you haven't read it before, do.  If you have read it before, read it again.

Here Come the Girls is out now, published by Simon and Schuster.


Sunday, 19 January 2014

Snake Typhoon- Billie Jones

The Blurb
Move over Lara Croft, there’s a new action hero in town!

When unseasonable weather hits the sunshine city of Brisbane, a freak typhoon terrorizes the citizens. It’s not just any typhoon though, it’s a snake typhoon! And the deadliest snakes in Australia, with venomous fangs are flying straight for Kez.

Kez is the new girl in the office and she’s desperately fighting to prove herself, but what’s a girl to do when faced with a typhoon of snakes coming straight for her helicopter?

These flying diabolical snakes will stop at nothing to kill their victims and Kez only has one option: Figure out how to stop a snake typhoon and save the world... or die trying!

The Review
When the author approached me and asked if I'd like to review Snake Typhoon, I really wasn't sure if it'd be my sort of thing.  I mostly read romance or thriller/suspense and this is a completely different book!  It reminded me of those action movies that require you to suspend disbelief- Snakes on A Plane type films with a generous sprinkling of the farce from the parodies of the genre, or a cartoon from my childhood.

Although totally different to my usual reading material, I enjoyed Snake Typhoon more than I thought.  It was entertaining and amusing, quirky and unique. 

I liked Kez as the girl who has a point to prove, she was an interesting character that I'd like to learn more about.

Overall, if you like humorous spoof films such as Scary Movie then this could be the perfect short read for you.  At just 10,000 words it can easily be read in one sitting for a quick dose of action and it certainly gave me some laughs on my commute.

Snake Typhoon is to be released as an ebook by Carina on January 24th and is available for preorder now.


With thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Friday, 17 January 2014

The Book that Changed Me

I have thought long and hard about this as there are so many books which have changed me.  Books like the Famous Five series which gave me escapism through books which I have taken through life with me, books like Forever which accompanied my transition from childhood to adolescence, books like A Room with a View which was the first classic I thoroughly enjoyed and related to and got me over my phobia of them.

However, I'm going to settle on Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters.  I probably shouldn't as it isn't really a book that changed me, more a book that changed my opinion of myself.  Sarah Waters writes absolutely beautifully, which is why her books are always big hitting best sellers.

The reason Tipping The Velvet in particular resonated with me is the subject matter.  Nan and Kitty's same sex relationship is beautiful, dangerous, all consuming.  Intoxicating and toxic.  Set around theatres and cabaret acts, everything about it appealed to me.  I'm a huge burlesque fan and love glamour, glitter, vaudeville humour and found myself drawn to Kitty in a way that Nan must have been

So how did this book change my life?  Well, for many years I had known I was attracted to females as well as males.  I'm happily married, and certainly not seeking any same sex relationship, but it was something surpressed inside of me, almost a dirty little secret.  Tipping the Velvet changed that.  I spoke openly with my husband and close friends about my feelings and their overwhelming support at my lowlevel 'coming out' was empowering and enlightening.  I no longer had to hide my feelings.  I could be open and honest for the first time in my life.  I could be me.

And I realised that the people who mattered loved me just the same, no matter who I was attracted to.

I can't thank Sarah Waters enough for writing this book and allowing me to find the strength to be true to myself.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Book that Changed Me- Kerry Fisher

When I’m asked about books that changed my life, I always feel a terrible burden to come up with something profound, a recognisable classic that everyone agrees with, intellectual enough to possess a ‘subliminal message’ – whatever that is. Or at least something by Jane Austen. 
But the book that really changed the way I think about writing is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I read it at a time when my own novel about school gate snobbery – The Class Ceiling - was suffering more rejection than the last Brussels sprout on Boxing Day. One agent turned it down because it was ‘too real for a funny book’. 
When I read The Help, I realised that ‘real’ didn’t have to be a negative. A skilful author could deal with a serious subject without killing the comic element. Racism. Prejudice. Difficult to get more real than that and not funny at all. But the humour in The Help was a brilliant conduit for showing how ridiculous the white women were in their treatment of their black maids. The funny scenes didn’t undermine, rather they underlined, the serious message. Stockett doesn’t shy away from showing the worst human emotions in their rawest state. Up until then, I’d always felt embarrassed to write characters with socially unacceptable opinions, as though by writing them, readers might judge them as my own. 
I fell in love with The Help all over again when I saw Kathryn Stockett speak at Guildford Library. I asked her how many rejections she’d had before she had a breakthrough with The Help. ‘Sixty over five years,’ came the answer. ‘But I’m feeling a bit better now because Spielberg’s just bought the film rights.’ 
The book taught me humour can work for any subject. The author taught me not to give up. 
And I didn’t.

The Class Ceiling will be published as The School Gate Survival Guide by Avon in August 2014. Available now on Amazon Kindle. Visit Kerry Fisher’s website to find out more.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Book that Changed Me- guest post by Laura Lovelock

When I am faced with questions about the books that 'changed my life' I normally always cop out and choose Perks Of Being A Wallflower; it is the only book that I can remember had a massive impact on my life. But then I thought that this was about books that changed ME, not my LIFE.

So, I sat (or should I say reclined in the bath) and had a really good think about my book past and rather quickly one jumped out at me: Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks.

I read this book when I was probably about 14-15 and I remember it had a massive impact on the way I perceived people around me and the world of books. Up until then I hadn't read any kind of crime novel and I was completely and utterly shocked that such amazing works of fiction existed: it changed my whole outlook on books and realised that books weren't always happy; books could tell sad and angry and scary and dangerous stories.

But it also made me think about my peers: what happens if some of them are taking drugs? Having sex? Committing crimes? It made me very wary and incredibly critical in analysing behaviour of those around me: I almost became a super sleuth!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the book helped me grow up through my teenage years, it challenged my preconceptions and it made me into the person I am today. I think so many books have the power to do that and I have been shaped by so many of them. I think Black Rabbit Summer is one of those books that will always stay with me and will continue to remind me of the power books can have over your life.

With huge thanks to Laura for guesting on my blog today- I highly recommend you visit her fabulous blog!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Book that changed me- guest post from Dawn at AuroraLaPetite

The book which changed my life was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It was the book that changed my choice of books from shorter children’s books to longer, more involved stories.


My first reading was as a 10 year old child after I found it in a stack of old books belonging to my grandparents. It has been years since I turned the pages of my battered copy but I still remember the sense of adventure and trepidation I felt as Mary discovered the key for the long abandoned secret garden.


I’ve always relished how love, fresh air and kindness transformed a young spoiled child into a loving girl. Slowly through bringing the garden back to life and the friendships she cultivates in doing so, Mary undergoes a complete transformation to become a happy and loving person.


Looking back as an adult reader on the way disability and illness is portrayed in the book is disconcerting, given the difference in attitudes between now and the time of writing. Regardless, the discovery by Mary of her sickly and temperamental cousin mirrors her initial state of being. Like her, the garden helps heal Colin both physically and psychologically, allowing him to let go of his fear and walk for the first time.


Looking back on my many readings of The Secret Garden, the main messages to me then were that happiness begets happiness and kindness and love can help anyone- positive messages at any age.


In addition to the themes and lessons that my younger mind pulled from the book, The Secret Garden was the book that set me down the path of reading books for pleasure and enjoyment. From my initial discovery of The Secret Garden, I was started upon a journey which has given me countless hours of happiness.

Monday, 13 January 2014

White Wedding- Milly Johnson

Milly Monday is here again! 
Today I'm reviewing White Wedding, a book I hadn't read previously, and I'm delighted to say that I loved it.
The Blurb 
It's the day they've always dreamed about. But will it turn out to be a nightmare ...?
Bel is in the midst of planning her perfect wedding when disaster strikes and everything she thought she knew is turned on its head. Can she hold it all together and, with the help of her friends, and a mysterious man she meets unexpectedly, turn disaster into triumph?
Bel's friend, ice-cream parlour owner Violet, is engaged to Glyn, who is besotted by her although Violet fell out of love with him long ago. But however trapped she feels in the relationship, she can't quite say the words, 'I don't want to marry you anymore.' Then, just when she's about to give up and resign herself to married life, she finds love in the most surprising of places. Will duty rule her heart or will she allow herself to be swept off her feet?
Max was planning a quick registry office do with her fiance Stuart until she sees a TV programme about traveller brides and becomes determined to have the most extravagantly glitzy wedding ever. But in all the excitement has she lost sight of what's really important? Does she want the wedding more than she wants the groom?
And as all three friends find the dress of their dreams at the White Wedding bridal shop, its owner, the lovely Freya, guarantees that her gowns will bring
them happiness - though maybe not quite in the way they expected ...
The Review
For me, Milly Johnson's forte is her ability to portray the strength that can be found in friendship.  White Wedding is no exception, where Violet, Bel and Max are all struggling in the build up to their big day.  Whilst it should be a time of happiness and excitement, each girl has her own doubts.  It is the support network the girls have which stops White Wedding being overly depressing.  Yes, it deals with serious issues such as depression, yet there is a thread of humour woven throughout the story (particularly Max's weddings plans which I found hilarious!) which adds a vibrance and verve .
Some readers may find Violet and Glyn's story hard to read, particularly as the story progresses.  I had huge empathy for Violet, moreso than any other character in the book.  Her sense of duty and guilt was obvious and weighed heavily on me as a reader. 
On a lighter note, Violet's ice cream parlour Carousel is a dreamy shop that I would definitely be frequenting if it were real.  And some of those mouth was watering just at the thought. 
The fringe characters were also well developed and realistic, with the typical Milly Johnson quirks.  I especially liked Freya, the bridal shop owner with her sharp observations and Yoda-like wisdom.
Fans of Milly Johnson will not be disappointed by White Wedding.  The balance between light hearted humour and the dramas of life is perfectly weighted.  Wonderful.

The book that changed me- Guest post by Emma Louise

When Kate kindly asked fellow book bloggers on Twitter to speak out a book which has had an impact on their lives, I jumped at the chance and quickly emailed her. In all my years of reading, I have never come across a book which has changed the way I value my life.


Let me introduce you to a very special woman in my life, my mum. She’s really the greatest person in my life – she cooks the greatest chicken Sunday roast and never fails to express how proud she is of me.

            In April 2013, my mum was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and our lives came crashing down when there wasn’t just one lump, there were two. Thankfully, it was caught extremely early and both lumps were successfully removed. Then came the start of the chemotherapy (ugh!) and once that was over, the radiotherapy began which she had to have every single day for just over a month (not including weekends, thankfully).

            My mum is now Cancer free and we’re looking forward to having a hospital free year or so we hope. Like most people, you feel scared when someone so close to you is diagnosed with Cancer because you aren’t aware of the outcome. Anything can happen at any given moment. For my family, we were always on pins and needles when it came to my mum having Cancer because my Nan (mum’s mum) sadly passed away of Breast Cancer which unfortunately worked its way up into her brain and ate her alive. It sounds horrible saying it like that, but it’s the truth. I was frightened that my mum would go the same way but thankfully, she didn’t.

            Her hair is now growing back and she’s racing alongside my nephew to see who has the most hair. At least it’s able to put a smile back on her face.


When Harper Impulse introduced Carmel Harrington to me, I instantly took a shine to her. Once my TBR pile reached a novel called Beyond Grace’s Rainbow, I didn’t know what to expect. Little did I know that I would be crying buckets of tears every single chapter. I’m forever grateful to Carmel for writing this novel because it’s allowed me to grow up and value my life. I read Grace’s story whilst my mum was having chemotherapy and it was like I was having my own therapy. Grace is a beautiful, strong woman and her story touched me far more than it did to any other reader.

            Since finishing the book, Carmel and I have bonded over Twitter and emails. She’s more of a close friend now than a fellow author. Because of Beyond Grace’s Rainbow, I’m more than happy to promote Carmel until I’m blue in the face.

            At the end of November 2013, I went to my local Waterstones in Liverpool One to explain how daft they’d be not to stock the touching and emotional novel. The manager took one look at me, realised I was passionate about the book and she’s given me her word that she’ll do her best to get hold of the book and allow Carmel to do a book signing.

Carmel, I can’t thank you enough for writing a beautiful novel. My words of praise will never do Grace’s story justice. Because of you, I’ve become a better person and I no longer take anything for granted. I love you more than Harry Potter himself (now, that’s a big deal!)


Emma Louise xxx


My Twitter: @EmmaLouAuthor       My blog:


Carmel’s Twitter: @happymrsh       Carmel’s:

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Billy and Me- Giovanna Fletcher

I bought this book pretty much as soon as it came out.  I hadn't heard anything about it but I loved the cover (yes, totally lured in by the overwhelming pinkness and girliness) and the blurb made it sound like the kind of book I'd enjoy.

I'm a bit ashamed to write this next bit, as it is judgmental and full of preconceived ideas that are totally wrong.  When I found out that the author was someone in the public eye (Giovanna is the sister of TOWIE's Marco Falcone, wife of Tom from McFly and an actress/columnist in her own right) I was put off.  I don't tend to like books written by celebrities and so Billy and Me languished unread for seven months.  I kept seeing it there, goading me, but I'd already written it off.  It was only when fellow bloggers were compiling their books of the year and Billy and Me kept recurring in the lists that I decided to give it a try, and I'm glad I did-it has been a lovely book to start the year with.  Touching, sweet and romantic, Billy and Me pulled me in from the start. So I'd like to say a heartfelt sorry to Giovanna and that I have well and truly learnt my lesson not to judge a book before reading!

The Blurb
Billy and Me is a gorgeously romantic debut novel about the redemptive power of love by actress, journalist and blogger Giovanna Fletcher.

Sophie May has a secret.

One that she's successfully kept for years. It's meant that she's had to give up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world to stay in her little village, living with her mum and working in the local teashop.

But then she meets the gorgeous Billy - an actor with ambitions to make it to the top. And when they fall in love, Sophie is whisked away from the comfort of her life into Billy's glamorous - but ruthless - world.

Their relationship throws Sophie right into the spotlight after years of shying away from attention. Can she handle the constant scrutiny that comes with being with Billy? And most of all, is she ready for her secret heartbreak to be discovered and shared with the nation?

Charming, heartwarming and utterly romantic, Billy and Me will completely capture your heart.

The Review
Well, as I said earlier, I really enjoyed this book.

Firstly, the characters were well constructed.  Sophie was immediately likeable and easy to empathise with, whilst Billy is the big name star.  They balanced each other out beautifully and gave the book depth.  However, Sophie's friend Molly and the other minor characters, such as Sophie's Mum and Colin, were also easy to relate to.

The locations were great too-a simple country lifestyle in Kent juxtaposed with the pace and glamour of London highlife.

The plot itself could have been out and out fluff and glamour given the subject matter, but actually Billy and Me is as much a book about bereavement, self esteem and realising what is important in life as it is about celebrity relationships.  Ultimately, it is about seeking what makes you happy.  Reading this book over new year was especially poignant as I was already in that mode of reassessing hopes and dreams and this book pushed me on to think about exactly what I want out of life.

There was only one minor point that irritated me slightly whilst reading, and that was the abundance of exclamation marks.  I tend to read with quite a lot of emphasis and intonation and found myself wishing there weren't so many as it disturbed the flow.  That said, I am aware this is purely personal preference and it definitely didn't deter me from reading on.

If you love chicklit, romance and dreaming of celebrity heartthrobs, this is an absolute must-read for you. 

I'm looking forward to Giovanna Fletcher's next offering and won't be leaving it unread, languishing on my bookshelf for months, that's for sure!

Billy and Me is out now, published by Penguin.


Friday, 10 January 2014

Thursday, 9 January 2014

You don't know me, but...- Clarke Carlisle

I've had a bit of a fangirl crush on Clarke Carlisle for many years.  He's an extremely handsome chap.  He always speaks in a considered way.  He stands up for what he believes in in the fight against racism/homophobia/mental health awareness.  Plus, he has been on Countdown (I auditioned for Countdown once and didn't make it on, so anyone who does is a success in my eyes).  So when my husband bought me this book for Christmas, my eyes lit up like glowing lights on our tree.

Anyway, enough fangirling.  On to the book.  I've read so many football autobiographies over the years, some high profile premier league players and others by players who have plied their trade in the lower leagues.  Quite a few of them deal with the impact that success and fame can have on a person, particularly those with an addictive personality (thinking of particular about the autobiographies of Tony Adams, Paul Merson, Niall Quinn here).  You don't know me, but... does have some similarities to these books. Clarke makes no bones about his addiction, and talks frankly about how decisions have been impaired as a result of these addictions.  However, for me the highlight of this book is Clarke's ability to convey what it is like to be suffering from depression, especially when to the outside world it seems you have it all going for you.  I found myself nodding along saying 'yes, that's exactly what it's like!' and he beautifully captures the fragility and vulnerability of a depressive.  I've never overdosed, thankfully, but the acute pain Clarke writes of in the section about his own overdose is hard hitting and emotive.

In terms of his footballing stories, there are some interesting ones-as a Sheffield United fan I was interested that he might have been transferred to Bramall Lane at one point, and I am always keen to hear how players and former players talk about the managers they have worked under.  Yet the forte of this autobiography is without a shadow of a doubt how impeccably Clarke Carlisle talks about issues that other people in the public eye shy away from. 

His obvious intelligence adds to the readability, the words flowing freely which makes You Don't Know Me, But... an easy book to get sucked into.

One minor mistake in it that griped me a bit as an adopted South Yorkshire lass- Rotherham's new ground is not Don Valley (that's the one with the running track, now being demolished), it is the new York Stadium.

Overall, I wouldn't just recommend this book to sports fans, but to anyone who has felt at a low ebb.  It is exquisitely written and yet remains highly accessible.

You Don't Know Me, But... is out now published by Simon and Schuster.


Monday, 6 January 2014

The Birds and the Bees- Milly Johnson

It's our very first Milly Monday! Today I'm reviewing The Birds and the Bees...
The Blurb
Romance writer and single mum Stevie Honeywell has only weeks to go to her wedding when her fiance Matthew runs off with her glamorous new friend Jo MacLean.

It feels like history repeating itself for Stevie, but this time she is determined to win back her man. She isn’t going to act as he might expect. She isn’t going to wail and dig her heels in, she is simply going to pretend to let him go whilst she pursues a mad course of dieting, exercising and self-improvement.

And it feels like history is repeating itself for Adam MacLean too, who is also determined to win his lady, Jo, back with the same basic psychological tactics.

Then he is going to initiate his master plan: getting together with Stevie to drive Jo wild with jealousy.

So, like the Scottish country jig ‘The Birds and the Bees’, the couples all change partners and learn some revealing truths about each other along the way.

But what happens when Adam’s master plan actually starts to work? And just who will Stevie be dancing with when the music stops?

In typical Milly Johnson fashion, The Birds and the Bees is a tale of friendship, trust and romance with a large dollop of humour on the side.  I absolutely loved the lead character Stevie and was willing her to see exactly what was under her nose! 

The farcial games Stevie and Adam play to try to win back Matthew and Jo respectively were entertaining and gave me chuckles.  However, the plot also touches on some of life's more harsh realities- debt, unfaithfulness, domestic abuse and single parenthood- ensuring that this is more than just an out and out light-hearted read.

The complete star of the show for me though is Danny, Stevie's wonderful young son.  He is wise, mischievous and certainly keeps Stevie on her toes!  He reminded me very much of my own little boy with his big ideas and sharp insight.

The majority of the chapters were very short which made this a perfect book to read over Christmas when I was only able to dip in and out of reading. 

Fans of Milly Johnson will love this book, which may also appeal to readers of Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes. 


The Birds and the Bees is out now, published by Simon and Schuster.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Incoming- The Return!

Here are my first incoming books of 2014...

The Morelli Diamonds- Sara Sheridan

I am an absolute fangirl when it comes to Mirabelle Bevan.  I can't help it.  She's just amazing.  Sharp, witty, beautiful, strong and with a deep down vulnerability which belies her outer exterior. 
The Morelli Diamonds is a short story, probably equating to the equivalent of one short chapter of a full length novel.  It took maybe 10 minutes to read, so would be suitable for reading on a coffee break or when commuting.
Mirabelle is caught in a scandal at the Imperial hotel when the body of a young girl is found at the same time that wealthy guest Morelli says diamonds have gone missing.  I found this an interesting short story with a lot packed in, but as with The Night Train I wished that it was longer so I could really get my teeth into it.  I liked the plot but did feel it would have been strengthened by more hints about Mirabelle's character for fans of the fictional sleuth.
However, for a quick Mirabelle fix it works well, and now that we're into 2014 it isn't long until the next full length novel!  I can't wait!
The Morelli Diamonds is out now in ebook format.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Say It With Sequins:The Rumba- Georgia Hill

The Blurb
For fans of reality dance shows, this series is strictly irresistible!

Slip on some dance shoes and step up to love!

Who Dares Dances is a reality TV show with a difference. Not only do contestants have to learn to dance, they also face a series of bizarre challenges.

Julia Cooper signs up in a bid to revive her flagging acting career. But when she meets dare-devil TV presenter Harri Morgan the attraction is instant – and hot!

Forced to perform a sexy rumba together, the sequins really start to fly. Will they score the perfect ten, or is their romance destined to be a dance disaster?

Find out in Say it with Sequins, the first in a series of three novellas.

The Review
Firstly, how gorgeous is the cover of this one?  Eyecatching and classy it encapsulates all the glamour and romance of ballroom dancing.

There were aspects of this book that I found hard to get to grips with, mainly that there are a lot of peripheral characters which were surplus to the main plot.  For a short novella I personally would have preferred there to be less named characters which would have made it easier for me to follow.

However, as a huge Strictly fan and a dancer myself I absolutely loved having a story about dance to snuggle down with.  The rumba certainly lends itself to a bit of sauce and spice and I think Harri may be my first book boyfriend of 2014.  Honestly, I loved him.  It made me wonder why on earth there aren't more Welsh men in romance books because they are HOT!  Especially when they talk Welsh... Mae'n boeth iawn...

I enjoyed how the romance built up and found both main characters easy to warm to.  I just wish it had been longer so I could have had more of hunky Harri.  Honestly, Georgia, get writing more about him.  Please.  I'm begging.

Cheesy in parts but also the kind of sweeping romance I adore, I'll definitely give the other books in this series a whirl...but until then, I'll keeeeeep dancing.

Say it with Sequins:The Rumba is out now, published by Harper Impulse.


I received an ARC of this book in return for my honest opinions.

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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The First Kiss- Brigid Coady

Having read and enjoyed Brigid Coady's The Last Kiss recently (you can see my review here ) I was really excited to read the next instalment in the Kiss trilogy.  Designed to be read on a phone or tablet (or on a coffee break, bus, sat on the loo!), these short romantic stories are full of heart and soul despite their short length.

The First Kiss encapsulates the magic and anticipation at the start of a romance.  Brigid Coady wraps up the innocence and naivety of this experience perfectly and will transport you back to those heady moments of your own first kiss.  Despite being such a short read there is still a build up which had me gripped. This would be suitable for a young adult reader as well as mature readers and everyone else in between!

If romantic short stories are your thing (and they are most definitely mine) I would highly recommend you try the Kiss stories.  Tender, romantic and classic, these stories are a reminder that good old fashioned romance has not been totally ousted by the rise in erotica.

The First Kiss is out now, published by Harper Impulse, a digital imprint of Harper Collins.


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2014 on Books with Bunny

Happy New Year!!!!!
I can't believe that 2013 is over and here we are in 2014.
I discovered some brilliant authors in 2013 and am hoping that this year will be just as exciting.  Over the next few weeks I'll be giving my blog a bit of a tidy up to make it easier to navigate and bring it bang up to date with the books I have to review and those I am looking forward to in 2014.
To alleviate the pain of miserable Mondays in January and February, I am delighted to announce Books with Bunny will be running 'Milly Mondays' -reviews of all Milly Johnson's novels.  They are the perfect humorous and touching read to bring a smile to your face.  There will of course also be giveaways to run alongside it...
I have set myself a challenge to read 250 books this year. Yes, it's crazy.  But there are a group of book bloggers on twitter who are all striving for this quarter century of reads so we can all encourage each other (not that we need much encouragement, we're all voracious readers).
Throughout 2014 I shall also be resurrecting my Incoming posts (Fridays)and A Bookcase full of Treasure posts (sporadically).
Plans are also in the pipeline for Lucy Diamond week and there will be a plethora of guest posts too.
Bring it on!  I can't wait.