Thursday, 31 July 2014

Ugly Love- Colleen Hoover

One girl throwing caution to the wind and one boy giving in to lust for the first time in six years...that's pretty much the plot of Colleen Hoover's latest release Ugly Love.  I'd heard so many fantastic things about Colleen's novels but this is the first one I have read- I can tell you now it won't be the last.

Airline pilot Miles is up front and honest.  He isn't open to love.   Sensible, reliable Tate convinces herself this doesn't matter, that she can handle a no-strings, purely physical relationship. They have two rules- don't ask about the past and don't expect a future.  But can Tate play by the rules?  And does she even want to?

I'm not going to lie, there are some pretty steamy scenes in this one.  And the amount of sexual tension that sizzles off the page...well, let's just say that Miles and Tate's story had me gripped.  Hoover uses a dual narrative to expose both the characters points of view which results in the reader feeling like they know a lot about them both.  From the moment they meet (a slumped, drunken Miles lying in the doorway to Tate's apartment) through to the emotional climax, I took them into my heart.

It is a great summer read, perfect for the beach.  I rattled through it at pace, keen to know where the story was going and if the secrets of the past would be revealed.  The only trouble is I'm now gagging for more!

Colleen Hoover has succeeded where many others have fallen short.  In Ugly Love she's written a book with an intense and sexy feel which also has a strong plot.  Hoorah!

Ugly Love is out now published by Simon and Schuster.

Dixie O'Day and the Great Diamond Robbery- Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy

The Blurb

Dixie O'Day and his best friend Percy are off on holiday, and drive straight into adventure!

Peaches Miaow, the fabulous pop star, has her priceless diamond necklace stolen from the Hotel Splendide in the crime of the century. Can Dixie and Percy track down the sinister figures at the heart of the mystery?

Pack your bags for a thrilling trip filled with glamourpusses, cat burglars and seaside fun in this gorgeous chapter book with a chapter for each night of the week, as well as plenty of exciting extra material.

The Review

I am beyond excited that the next Dixie book has finally ventured out into the big wide world.  My son and I read the first in the series, Dixie O'Day in the Fast Lane last year and fell in love with Dixie and his sidekick Percy.  It's no exaggeration to say this has been one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year in our house, and I don't just mean by Zachary!

Everything we liked about the first book is back.  Lovable characters- check.  High drama-check.  Beautiful illustrations- check.  Additional extras, maps to envisage the places in the story, chapters which are perfect in length and substance- check, check, check.

However, there are enough changes to distinguish Dixie O'Day and the Great Diamond Robbery from what has gone before.  The holiday setting worked well and Peaches Miaow is the ultimate in glamorous- my son developed quite the soft spot for her.  I also felt the 'baddies' were just naughty enough without being nightmare-inducing and of course they get their comeuppance in the end.

The vocabulary in the book will stretch most children in the target market, introducing new words to expand their language development.  There are humorous elements and a moral message.  It is all round good old-fashioned fun, and the wonderful illustrations bring the text to life.  The illustration on page 99 of Percy and Peaches is my ultimate favourite- utterly simplistic but beautifully evocative- I want a larger version of it for my wall!!!

Overall, we were not disappointed.  The only disappointment came when we finished it at break-neck speed and we realised we had a long wait for the next Dixie adventure!

Dixie O'Day and the Great Diamond Robbery is out today, published by The Bodley Head.

With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this title.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Do you remember how I loved the Pippa Croft books The First Time We Met and The Second Time I Saw You ? Well, I have news!

The First Time We Met is for one week only (28th July – 3rd August) will be 99p

Also The Second Time I Saw You will be £1.99 for one week only (28th July – 3rd August)!

You must, must, must read these books (although I apologise that you will be left eagerly anticipating the final instalment which is out later this year).  The perfect summer bargain!

Pippa has also very kindly written a guest post about her favourite fictional couples as she knows that I am rather in love with her own love story.  Over to the very lovely Pippa....


Kate sent me a lovely email saying she was touched by the love story in the Oxford Blue series and asked me to blog about my favourite fictional characters, I rubbed my hands together in glee at such a fascinating question (not really, but you know what I mean...)

And how hard can it be to pick one – or two – or three? In the end, I went by my emotional reaction to the novel. Did I laugh? Did I cry? Have I never forgotten how I felt when I read the book?

Liza & ????

Mixed Doubles by Jill Mansell

It’s hard for me to say why I loved this book so much, without giving massive spoilers. I read this one on a special wedding anniversary on holiday in St Lucia so I was probably in a gooey state anyway. All I can say is that parts of this book made me blub uncontrollably, in public, while lying on a sunlounger. Very embarrassing. The ending is a huge surprise. I met Jill Mansell afterwards and fangirled over the story and she told me something about the writing of it that will stay a secret. All you need to know is that the story follows the relationships of three women – all great fun but it was Liza’s story that had me in bits.

Octavia and Gareth

Octavia by Jilly Cooper

I realise that Octavia and Gareth may be a slightly controversial choice, judging by some Goodreads reviews and I’m not surprised. This short romance is definitely a book of its time, written in the 70s when attitudes towards women were very different – thank goodness. At first I loathed the selfish socialite, Octavia, and the blunt self-made man, Gareth. I remember thinking; do I really want this couple to have an HEA? But in this brief novel, Jilly Cooper achieves the impossible and made me long for Gareth and Octavia to have their happy ending more than any other romance. Both the hero and heroine do some outrageous things, and it all takes place in a time warp but Jilly pulls it off, with the chutzpah that only Jilly can. Reader, I cried when they got together. In a good way.

Elizabeth Bennet & Mr Darcy

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

OK. So I wanted to put them first but was worried that people would see those names pop up – again - roll their eyes and assume I couldn’t think of anything else. But bear with me here. That’s just the thing. I can’t think of many readers who *don’t* love Lizzy & Darcy. I know their love story is now over 200 years old but it still captivates us in our millions.

We’re still trying to capture what’s so magnetic about the chemistry between the rich, repressed, aloof Darcy and the bright, incisive woman who - while not exactly ‘poor’ –takes an enormous risk in turning down the chance of lifelong security for herself and her family. All because, in a most contemporary way, she isn’t sure that he’ll make her happy.

We’re still wondering and analysing the masterfully written build-up and the journey from that black moment of refusal to the sparkling, life affirming joyous and oh-so-right ending. Many movies have been made, many novels written, many PhD theses submitted on that very topic so I’ll just say. Lizzy and Darcy are still my favourites.

Friday, 25 July 2014


It's a gloriously sunny day here in South Yorkshire, and what's more- IT'S FRIDAY!  And even better than that, DIAMOND FRIDAYS ARE BACK!!!!!

Yes, after a week off due to the dreaded laptop malfunction I am back with a review of The Beach Café.  This was the first Lucy Diamond book I ever read, and as I reread it a few weeks ago I remembered exactly why I loved it so much.

Firstly, the plot.  Evie is different to the rest of her family.  A bit of a dreamer, some might even go so far as to say flighty, Evie has never really settled at anything.  So when her beloved Aunt dies, leaving her a café in Cornwall, she is doubtful as to whether she can run it.  She couldn't manage it long distance, that's for sure, so would mean a move to the seaside.  And what's more, Evie can't bake.  Surely she can't really make a go of it?

It sounds good, doesn't it?  It is.  The Beach Café is a proper old fashioned story about life, love and dreams.  It makes me feel like good things can happen out of difficult situations.  It makes me believe pie in the sky fantasies can come true. And it makes me long to be on a beach, the waves crashing onto the shore reminding me of the beauty of life.

Lucy Diamond has created a character you will fall in love with in Evie.  She represents everyone who has ever longed for something which seems out of reach and everyone who has failed to live up to the expectations of society, their parts or the world at large.  In short, you'll be aching for her to triumph, in all areas of her life.

The fine line between balancing humour and poignant moments in life is walked with precision, and even though I knew what was coming I had a lump in my throat as Evie made difficult decisions.  The observational humour is brilliant, Lucy could always take her sharp quips about the quirks we as humans possess to the stage as a sideline- she'd give Peter Kay a run for his money!

Overall, this is a wonderful book, heartfelt and touching.  The perfect summer read.

Next week I am going to be sharing my thoughts on Lucy's Me and Mr Jones.  If you would like to win a copy, kindly donated as a prize by the publisher , enter the rafflecopter giveaway below.

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Echoes of Love by Hannah Fielding wins GOLD AWARD! Plus GIVEAWAY!

Last year I was invited to take part in the blog tour for Hannah Fielding's The Echoes of Love.  It was quite different to my usual reads, but there was a lot I enjoyed about the book- mainly the wonderfully evocative descriptions of Venice and the overwhelming sense of full blown romance.  You can read my review here.

Well, it has only gone and won itself a great big shiny award!  The Echoes of Love won the gold award in the romance category of the 2014 IPPY Awards (Independent Publisher Book Awards). For more information on Hannah Fielding and The Echoes of Love please visit her website .  Huge congratulations to Hannah from Books with Bunny!

And if this has whetted your appetite, how about a chance to win yourself a copy!  After all, it is an award winner...   Just enter the rafflecopter giveaway below (UK only, sorry!)

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Monday, 21 July 2014

Can I Tell You About Anxiety?- Lucy Willetts and Polly Waite

I have worked with children for the past sixteen years and strongly believe that to empower children you have to talk to them openly and honestly.  However, this isn't always easy, especially when it comes to the 'difficult questions'-those about emotions, illness, bereavement.  Can I Tell you about Anxiety? is part of a series designed to encourage discussion between parents and professionals and young people.

We are introduced to Megan, a ten year old with anxiety issues.  She talks about how anxiety affects her every day life-her ability to socialise, the physical manifestations of panic attacks, how others perceive her anxiety.  This case study approach makes the book more relatable. Can I Tell you about Anxiety? gives plenty of facts about how anxiety is a very real illness, and far more common than many people realise, and that it can impact on confidence, self esteem and education.

I was surprised by how accessible this book was.  I could imagine using it with KS2 or KS3 pupils, and perhaps as a prompt or to dip in and out of with younger children (KS1).  As someone who has first hand experience of anxiety, there were times where I found this difficult to read.  However, it gives information in a sensitive, age appropriate way and I am sure that not only children will benefit from this book- parents, teachers and health care professionals will learn a lot about anxiety and the coping strategies sufferers use in every day situations.

The book closes with a helpful list of website and organisations to support young people with anxiety. 

This would be a useful resource for anyone wanting an introduction to anxiety, also touching on PTSD, OCD and depression.

Can I Tell You about Anxiety? is out now, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

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

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Sisters- Guest post from Annie Lyons

I am delighted to welcome Annie Lyons, author of Not Quite Perfect to the Books with Bunny blog today.  Sisters are a main theme in both of her published novels, so today she is sharing her own experience of sisters (or not!).  Over to Annie...

‘So how old is your sister?’

I am momentarily confused by the question. ‘I don’t have a sister.’

‘You don’t have a sister? But both your books have sisters as the main characters.’


‘And yet you don’t have one?’

‘Er no.’ O-oh. Rumbled. Authors are supposed to write about what they know and I clearly do not know what it’s like to have a sister. ‘I have a brother though,’ I plead feebly but as I consider my six-foot-two sibling with his size fourteen feet, I realise that this will not cut the mustard.

My questioner fixes me with a suspicious frown.  I’m for it now. I close my eyes ready to be lambasted. ‘You write as if you do have a sister,’ she says almost accusingly.

I exhale. ‘Okay. Er, thank you?’

I am relieved but it does make me wonder. Almost unwittingly, I have put sister relationships at the very centre of both my novels. Why would I do this? Why didn’t I write about a small girl with a brother, older by nine years who protected, annoyed and entertained her in equal measure during their late seventies-early eighties childhood (actually, hand me my notebook. I might use that one day).

I think there are several reasons for my choice of subject. Firstly, as we have ascertained I don’t have a sister and therefore would really rather like one because you always want what you can’t have, don’t you? A lot of my friends who actually have sisters would say exactly the opposite and happily trade their sibling for a plate of chips. The truth is that it’s fun for a writer to imagine what they don’t have, to stretch their mind a little and pose that salient question, ‘what if?’

The four sisters that I have created over the course of two novels are all very different but they’re all the kind of women I would happily spend an evening in the pub with (my litmus test for any lasting friendship).

The Darcy sisters from Not Quite Perfect would be a hoot. In fact, they do spend the evening in a version of my local pub with spectacularly messy results. There is a clear dynamic in Emma and Rachel’s relationship and this is never more apparent than during the scenes where their parents are present. It is a truth universally acknowledged that as soon as you are back with your family, often in the place where you grew up, you resort to type and not always in a good way. When they’re with their parents, Rachel and Emma forget that they are a mother of three and a successful editor respectively. They bicker, tease and ridicule one another like a couple of seven-year-olds. I can’t tell you how much fun it was to write.

However, when their respective worlds collapse, they offer each other support but not in a sentimental, gushing way. It is the straight-talking, uncomplicated language of siblings. The truth will be aired in all its gory glory. Deal with it. But at the root of all this truth-telling is love. It’s the sentiment that, ‘you need to hear this because no-one else is going to tell it to you straight. I’m doing it for your own good.’

So it is with Bea and Lizzie Harris in my second novel, Dear Lizzie. Bea has that similar vein of wit and character as Rachel but her straight-talking has a more defined purpose. Her sister, Lizzie has been estranged from her family and normal life for a long time. Bea is her only real friend and lifeline and when she dies, Lizzie is devastated and unsure how she will cope. Bea leaves her twelve letters to be read one a month over the following year. They contain her final wishes for her sister which she hopes will bring her lasting happiness. They take Lizzie on a journey filled with unexpected twists and turns that will change her life forever.

These letters represent the ultimate gesture of sisterly love. They are Bea’s way of caring for Lizzie after her death and contain insights that only a sister would know. Bea understands Lizzie completely and also knows that her sister will do whatever she asks of her. She also knows that her words will be even more compelling once she is gone. Lizzie is not only forced to face her beloved sister’s death but also deal with the wishes and the conflicts they bring without Bea’s guidance.  It is tough love delivered as only a sister can.

I didn’t want the letters to be depressing though. As with Rachel and Emma, there is wit and warmth at the core of the sisters’ relationship. Although the loss of Bea is devastating, the humour contained in some of her letters and the way she recounts their memories and gently teases her sister, offer a nudging comfort and prevent Lizzie from getting stuck in a grief-flooded rut.

So as you can see, sisters have proved a great source of inspiration to me and I hope I have done them justice. I loved writing these characters. I am fascinated by families and their messy, funny, infuriating dynamics and I think sisters encapsulate the very essence of these dynamics. No-one tells you the truth more candidly, more accurately and more bluntly than a sister but then no-one loves you more than a sister either. You can point out their faults but will not tolerate it if someone criticises them in return. It is a unique relationship and endlessly fascinating.

As to whether I would like a sister? Possibly, but right now I’ll settle for my big brother and his size fourteen feet. At least I don’t have to worry about him borrowing my shoes.

Annie Lyons is the best-selling author of Not Quite Perfect (now available in paperback) and Not Quite Perfect Christmas (A Short Story). Her new novel Dear Lizzie is published by Carina and is available as an eBook.

Twitter @1AnnieLyons


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Top 5 'Things I've Learned in my 20s' by Elizabeth Aaron INCLUDING GIVEAWAY!

I'm absolutely delighted to have Elizabeth Aaron guesting on my blog today.  Her novel Low Expectations is out today, published by Quercus.

Top 5 ‘Things I’ve Learned In My 20s’ For Books With Bunny

While studying Fashion Design in London, author Elizabeth Aaron interned at Alexander McQueen and Jonathan Saunders as well as doing a freelance project for Givenchy. She moved to Paris in 2012 to write ‘Low Expectations’ while working as a nanny. Think ‘Girls’ meets ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ in Dalston- also featuring her weird/charming doodles.


-Do: Say ‘yes’ to Life! There has never been so much choice, stimulation and leisure afforded to us as human beings. If you have indoor plumbing, consider yourself to be living the Utopian ideal. Remember that there is always another avenue open to you. Say ‘yes’ to things you haven’t tried before, relax and have fun. Life is just a collection of experiences before death. Collect some interesting ones.


-Don’t: Live your life in fear. So, I actually learned this from Baz Luhrman’s camp extravaganza Strictly Ballroom, but the implications are profound. If you are making decisions because you are scared you can’t achieve what you really want, you’ll be stuck in a rut. It may be a very pleasant rut that leaves you only occasionally dissatisfied. Now is the time to explore! You may fail, but you’ll come out of it stronger, with stories to tell.


-Do: Feel like an idiot. This is not a sign that you are a moron but that you are curious and exposing yourself to new ideas. The more you feel like a fool, the sooner humiliation will fade! Eventually you will find your ignorance liberating, declaring it at every turn. You will be educated on subjects by the people most passionate about them and discover new ways of looking at the world. If someone makes you feel like a mug because of it, don’t take it personally and move on.


-Don’t: Try to transform into someone else’s ‘ideal version of you’. Whether it is a parent, friend or lover, slowly chipping away at your own preferences will leave you uncomfortable in your own skin. It also sets up an unhealthy dynamic of trying to please them - that is inevitably followed by failure of some kind. This isn’t to say don’t change - just think about what your priorities, dreams and values are. Like what you like, do what you want to do and go your own way.


-Do: Be incompetent. Life is a learning experience. Every job I’ve ever had, I’ve blagged my way into and been completely terrible at initially. Happily, if you are friendly and kind, it’s actually quite hard to get fired. You will adapt, learn and improve more quickly than you think. At which point you can move on to a new challenge – i.e. something else you are (for the moment) completely terrible at. Then one day, your accumulated new talents will lead you into something you are challenged by AND are actually qualified for. Huzzah!  

To be in with a chance of WINNING a goody bag filled with make-up and perfume samples from @eaaronwrites to celebrate the publication of LOW EXPECTATIONS (July 17th) simply tweet ‘Can't wait to read the smart, raunchy & laugh-out-loud funny LOW EXPECTATIONS by @eaaronwrites. A goody bag would be FAB too @quercusbooks

Good Luck!!!



Friday, 11 July 2014


It's the first Diamond Friday!  And this feature has been a long time coming.  This time last year I contacted Lucy Diamond and asked if she would be happy to be involved with a week dedicated to her and she was incredibly supportive.  I was delighted- I am such a fan of Lucy's writing and I wanted to share my excitement with the world!  However, life got in the way for me and it has taken until now to organise what has now become Diamond Fridays- one day a week where Books with Bunny shares reviews, author features and giveaways, exclusively about the shiniest gem in the jewellery box of authors, Lucy Diamond.  I was fortunate to meet Lucy recently (read about it here )and I'm pleased to say she was just as wonderful as her books.

One Night in Italy introduces us to a group of adults attending evening classes to learn Italian.  The unlikely group quickly form a strong bond, and as they in turn face challenges in their personal lives, they will come to rely on the friendships more than they could ever have guessed.  Catherine finds herself facing a new life alone as her children leave for university and her husband calls time on their marriage- but she soon discovers her ex is capable of things she never believed possible.  Anna is building up the courage to search for the Italian father she has never met.  And Sophie, the class tutor, is reluctantly back in South Yorkshire after travelling the world, unsure of what she wants from life.

I found myself completely and utterly swept away by this book.  The characters were a diverse bunch, at different stages of life, yet I could relate to them all, which I think proves that Lucy Diamond has an incredibly rare talent for creating characters with depth.  Even the fringe characters are well crafted and left me as a reader wanting to know more about their lives.

The Sheffield setting also appealed to me-I came to University here in 1998 and have never been away for more than a fortnight since.  Lucy Diamond definitely manages to capture the unique vibe of the city- 'the world's largest village' as it is sometimes referred to.  Knowledge of Sheffield isn't necessary to enjoy the book, but I do think it added to the pleasure I got from reading it.  I felt like I was in on a secret knowing all the pubs and coffee shops mentioned (which makes it sound like I have a much more active social life than I do in reality).

The only downside for me was that it ended when it did.  It isn't a short book at almost 500 pages, but I feel One Night in Italy is crying out for a sequel.  I want to know more about these characters!  Please don't let this be the end!

If you like fast paced books of interwoven lives, with both drama and humour, then this one is perfect for you.

One Night in Italy is out now, published by Pan Macmillan.

Next Friday I will be reviewing Lucy's bestseller The Beach Café and if you would like to win a copy then enter the rafflecopter giveaway below (UK only- entrants from outside the UK will sadly be disqualified).

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Friday, 4 July 2014

Fangirl- Rainbow Rowell RAINBOW ROWELL WEEK

There are some books that come into your life and sweep you off your feet.  You know they haven't been written just for you, but it feels like they have.  Fangirl is one of those books for me. I love it like asdfghjkl...or heart eye emoji...or squeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Here's why.

Fangirl is essentially a coming of age story, beginning as twins Cath and Wren leave for University.  Whereas they were once inseparable, the girls are forging their own identities, Wren more easily than Cath.  Cath seeks solace by writing fan fiction-  pages and pages of stories about Simon Snow (he's a bit of a Harry Potter type character).  Online she has an army of followers waiting for fan fiction updates, but in reality Cath is awkward- unsure about her room mate, adrift from her sister, worried about her Dad...and that is without the added issue of her Mum suddenly wanting to make contact after leaving on September 11th.  Yes, the September 11th.     

Admittedly, one of the reasons I love Fangirl so much is the subject matter.  I'm one of those weirdo geeks that writes fan fiction about their favourite band and posts it online, and I read all kinds of strange shit that other people post (like the one where Josh, the drummer and Dan, the guitarist are gay and they adopt baby One Direction.  That was just plain weird).  So although fan fiction and general all round obsession with a programme/band/book series might be difficult for some readers to relate to, I was super duper excited to find there was a book out there about 'us'.  The writers no one notices unless you're one of the big hitters who gets snapped up by a publisher, becomes a cult smash and gets their story made into a film (EL James, I hate you).

Like Rainbow Rowell's other novels, it is hugely character driven.  Cath is instantly likable.  She's quiet and withdrawn.  She seems inexperienced, both in relationships and life in general.  She's full of anxiety, too nervous to venture to the dinner hall for fear of making some kind of social faux pas.  She prefers the world in her head to the real world. All this made her so easy to warm to- I wanted to be her friend, write with her and watch Simon Snow films, hiding away from the big, bad world.

I also fell completely in love with Levi, the guy Cath meets through her roommate Reagan.  He's a bit of a strange one in that he blows hot and cold, but he strongly believes in the importance of family and that is exceptionally attractive.  He's caring, which he shows via meaningful gestures not just hollow words.  And he's clever.  Maybe not in a conventional way, but he is.  And he's hard working, and he has a scent all of his own, and, and, and....  He's not flawless by any stretch, but he's magnetic.  New book boyfriend alert....

I wasn't prepared to devote so many emotional feels (good fangirl word there!) into Cath, or Levi, or Wren, and certainly not her mentally ill Dad, and that was a mistake.  Because by the end I was a blubbering mess, physically wrung out.  Rainbow Rowell taps into the pain that is all around us-insecurity, anxiety, peer pressure, depression- and squeezes every little bit of emotion out of her readers, which is why she is so hugely popular.  People can relate to her characters, and want to believe they'll get a happy ending, or at least some kind of resolution or inner peace.

As Wren says to Cath-
“Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”
And I'm going to finish off with a few descriptions of being a fangirl which I think are really apt...
I'm a fangirl of Fangirl.  It is as close to perfect as humanly possible.
Rainbow Rowell, thank you for the words, the feels and the magic.
You rock.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Landline- Rainbow Rowell RAINBOW ROWELL WEEK

Landline is out today!  So whilst I do the happy dance and the fangirl squee, why don't you read my thoughts on Rainbow's latest release...

The Blurb

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

The Review

I was very fortunate to be able to read Landline prior to release.  As a huge fan of all Rainbow's previous novels I had ridiculously high hopes for this one.  Hugely high.  Like Empire State Building high. 

I'd set aside an afternoon purely to read Landline, and I was well armed with chocolate biscuits and a cup of tea.  Perfect.  It took a while to get going, in fact I actually put it down because I wasn't immediately feeling it.  Georgie irritated me, Neal irritated me, their relationship irritated me- I just felt overwhelmingly....irritated.  As an outsider looking in I wanted to bang their heads together and tell them that for any marriage to work there needs to be compromise because it isn't all hearts and flowers, it's bloody hard work. 

Then the quirkiness kicked in.  The landline.  And I wasn't sure what to think.  It was a fresh idea, totally original, but I wanted angst, emotion, moments that would make my heart pang and my stomach lurch.  And slowly, through the conversations Georgie has with young Neal, the reader learns about their relationship.  That was what I'd been waiting for, that insight into the human condition which Rainbow conveys so well.  From then on I was sucked in, loving seeing the juxtaposition of Georgie and Neal's time together from students to 'old marrieds'.  It was realistic, a world away from the way marriage is portrayed in a lot of fiction.  In fact, at times it was painful to read- I cried twice whilst reading, proper gut wrenching cries.

It's difficult to summarise my feelings about this one.  I didn't enjoy it, but I did appreciate it.  It did touch me, and I invested more in the characters as the plot progressed- I can see me thinking about this book in the future and recalling the message it sends.  For me it didn't have the immediate impact of Rainbow Rowell's previous works, but I know that the more I mull it over the more I will see.  It's one of those books that needs digesting. 

And I really wish I had that yellow rotary phone in my life.

Dear Lizzie- Annie Lyons TASTER CHAPTER

Today I am delighted to have a taster of Annie Lyons' Dear Lizzie to share with you all.  Published by Carina, Dear Lizzie is available to purchase right now!

Chapter One

Late July


The church was chilly. This came as a surprise to Lizzie Harris, walking in out of the summer sunshine, and she pulled her jacket more tightly around her for comfort. She almost hadn’t come today. As she got ready that morning, she had thought about what would happen if she simply didn’t turn up. No one would come to find her. Nothing would change. She would simply be living up to expectations. But she had come. She had come because of one person; the person she cared most about in the world and one of the few who cared about her.

So Lizzie had pulled herself together, put on the purple dress she’d bought especially for the occasion, dragged herself into her car and arrived uncharacteristically early. She had watched as other people arrived, keeping a safe distance, not wanting to attract anyone’s attention. Not yet. She wasn’t quite ready to face it yet. Every time she spotted a recognisable face, she closed her eyes and told herself that she was doing the right thing. She had to see this through, had to be strong. She waited until five minutes before the service was due to start. Only a few stragglers were entering the church now. It wasn’t seemly to be late on such an occasion. Lizzie had to tell her feet to keep walking as she made her way up the path and into the church. Breathe and walk. Her stomach was churning with nerves as she looked around the packed church. She spotted Joe sitting at the front, his arm wrapped around Sam, who looked impossibly small for a boy of ten. They were both staring out towards the front of the church, where the coffin sat draped in a purple silk Pashmina. One mourner, a man of around fifty, approached them, resting a hand on Joe’s shoulder. Joe looked round and smiled weakly at him. Lizzie wondered if he might recognise her and lifted her hand in greeting but he turned to the front again, his face glassy with grief, pulling his son closer to him. The congregation was a riot of colour, the women all dressed in varying shades of purple, the men wearing purple ties or buttonholes as requested. The church was heavy with the scent of lavender and ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ was piping through the speakers to the accompanying sound of subdued whispers and the occasional loud sniff.

Lizzie was wondering where to sit when she became aware of someone standing next to her. She turned and looked into the face of a woman worn down by grief.

‘Hello, Mum,’ said Lizzie in a hoarse whisper.

Her mother surveyed her as someone might look at a persistent stain and Lizzie noticed something else behind this, something which she had always seen in her mother’s eyes: disappointment.

‘Well at least you’ve made it to your sister’s funeral,’ she said. ‘But I hope you’re not thinking of embarrassing me by skulking at the back. At least do Bea the final courtesy of sitting at the front with her family.’ And with that she turned, her skirt a flash of purple as she made her way down the nave and took her place to Joe’s right.

Lizzie remained frozen to the spot. She had a sudden urge to rush out of the church, drive home and lock the door on the world. After all, who would really care if she did? It would confirm all her mother’s worst opinions of her and Joe would understand if she put it down to grief. He was hardly a man to challenge anyone; he’d certainly never challenged his wife.

Olivia Newton-John’s plaintive tones were fading and the congregation quietened in readiness for the service to begin. One of the vergers approached Lizzie and touched her gently on the elbow.

‘Lizzie?’ She turned to face a woman she recognised from her childhood; Evelyn Chambers, the vicar’s wife. ‘Do you want to go and take your place at the front?’ she said, ushering her forwards with practised efficiency. ‘The service is about to start.’

Lizzie wasn’t sure what she was doing as she made her way down the nave. She felt numb, almost as if she was watching herself from above, unable to control her own body. She had no choice but to keep going. She noticed the odd nudged elbow and whispered comment as she passed. She reached the front and looked to her mother, who ignored her with stiff-lipped coldness. Joe glanced up and gave her a grateful smile of recognition, gesturing for her to sit to Sam’s left. Lizzie took a deep breath and settled next to her nephew. He looked up at her in surprise and then, frowning at this father, said in a loud whisper, ‘Who is that?’ Lizzie could feel people around her shift at his words but kept her face fixed to the front as the service began.




Everyone agreed that it had been a wonderful send-off; a fitting tribute to a much-loved daughter, wife, mother and sister. The vicar had spoken warmly of the woman he’d known through childhood and into her adult life and the choir had sung with reverent fondness. Once Joe had delivered his trembling eulogy and the funeral cortege had carried Bea’s coffin down the central aisle with Sam leading them towards the door, the sobbing had reached a crescendo. Only Lizzie and her mother remained dry-eyed. Lizzie knew that her mother was not one to show her grief in public and Bea had given her sister strict instructions.

‘No wailing like a banshee during my big finale, Lizzie Lou. We’ve done our crying. I don’t want my last exit to be ruined by your mucus-stained face,’ she had grinned. Lizzie had worried whether she would be able to obey these wishes. It was all very well agreeing to these things when Bea was alive. It was the easiest thing in the world to make promises when the person you loved most in the world was still there. It was a different matter when they were no longer there to guide you. Lizzie hadn’t thought she would break down in a fit of hysterical sobbing but she was surprised at how surreal she found the experience of sitting in the church, staring at her sister’s coffin. She felt like a spectator, almost cocooned from the reality of the situation. She had no place here among these people. She was merely watching from the sidelines and she couldn’t connect the sister she had known with the body in the coffin. Lizzie felt numb as if momentarily anaesthetised against the grief of her loss; it was still there but buried deep inside.

The mourners in the pews behind them waited patiently for Lizzie and her mother to walk out together following the coffin. Ignoring her daughter completely, Stella Harris made her way out into the aisle behind the procession. Lizzie felt panicked as all eyes were drawn to her. She could almost hear their thoughts. Surely she should be supporting her mother on today of all days. Mind you, she’s hardly been the supportive one. Not like Bea. Lizzie avoided their critical glances, concentrating instead on her sister’s coffin, taking courage from her presence in death as she had in life. She fell in step behind her mother and followed her out of the church.

Once outside, Lizzie felt the sunshine warm her face and shielded her eyes as she watched Joe and the other attendants slide her sister’s coffin into the waiting hearse. There was to be a cremation but Bea hadn’t wanted anyone to be there. ‘Too bloody sad. When they shut that curtain like the door finally closing on your life? No thanks. I want it to be a celebration. I want it to be like the kind of party I would enjoy. Why does everyone get so hung up and sad about death when it’s actually as natural as life?’ Most people didn’t share Bea’s sentiment. They honoured her wishes; they wore purple and played the music she’d requested, but they were the ones left behind. They were the ones who had to deal with life without her and particularly when they saw Sam, a ten-year-old robbed of his mother, it couldn’t be a celebration. It was a tragedy playing out in front of them.

It was different for Lizzie. She didn’t know their version of Bea’s world. She only knew the world of Lizzie and Bea as sisters. She wasn’t part of Bea’s life in this community, as a successful lawyer, devoted wife and mother, beloved daughter. To Lizzie, she was Bea. Just Bea. The one who had picked her up so many times, who had always been there for her. She was the only reason Lizzie was here now and as she watched the hearse pull away, she could see no other reason to linger.

As the mourners began to disperse, Lizzie decided to escape. She planned to go back home, put on her pyjamas and watch Bea’s and her favourite film, Grease, whilst drinking as much red wine as she could handle or possibly a little more. She wanted to slip away from the helpless feeling that her life was like a ship, cut loose by her sister’s death, with no hope of getting back on course. How would she cope without Bea to guide and protect her? She had known this moment was coming for the past six months. She and Bea had talked about it but still, nothing quite prepared you. In a fight or flight world, Lizzie’s instinct had always been to flee but you couldn’t flee death. You could ignore it, pretend it wouldn’t happen, dismiss it from your mind, but you couldn’t escape its inevitability.

When Joe had phoned Lizzie to tell her that Bea had died, she had greeted his call with quiet resignation. It had felt odd to be receiving news about her sister from a man she hardly knew. She had wanted to end the call as quickly as possible. Joe’s voice had been heavy with grief and Lizzie had no idea what to say to him.

‘Thank you for letting me know,’ she had said, embarrassed by the inadequacy of her response.

‘I’ll call you with the funeral arrangements,’ he had said before ringing off.

Lizzie had stared at the phone after he’d gone wondering how she was supposed to feel. Bea was gone. It was over. Lizzie was alone now. And yet, there she stood, two feet on the ground, the sun shining outside, life continuing without her sister. Part of her was stunned. She had half-expected the walls to start closing in or the ground beneath her feet to shift at the moment of Bea’s death. She had also expected tears – wracking sobs of loss and grief – but none came. Minutes became hours became days. Lizzie thought about Bea during every waking second at her job in the bookshop, on trips to the shops, whilst making dinner but still no tears came. Every night she would fall into bed exhausted from thoughts of her sister but did not cry; she couldn’t and the worst thing was, Lizzie didn’t know why. She had thought that the funeral might be a catalyst for tears but she remained dry-eyed. The grief was still there though. It felt like something heavy and solid at the very centre of her being.

She could see Joe and her mother surrounded by people, all wanting to offer their condolences, as if their words could soothe away the pain of loss. They were all glad it wasn’t one of their loved ones and who could blame them? No one approached her and she felt this gave her the permission she needed to escape. She put on her sunglasses and started to walk to her car without a backward glance. Once inside she exhaled with relief and placed the keys in the ignition. It was at this moment that she heard a light tapping on her window. She glanced over to see Joe’s worried face peering in at her with a frowning Sam at his side. She felt her insides sink with shame as she pressed the button to open the window. How could she let this poor bereaved man and his son follow her as she tried to escape? His opening words made her feel even worse.

‘’llo, Lizzie. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to speak to you in the church. I just wanted to say thank you for coming.’

Lizzie mumbled a response along the lines of, ‘of course’. There was an awkward pause and she wondered if it would be okay to start the car, whilst inwardly praying that she didn’t run over her brother-in-law’s foot as she sped off.

‘We’re having a party for Mum,’ said Sam, his face fierce and suspicious. He was clearly offering her a dare.

‘Oh right, well I’m not sure if –’ stammered Lizzie.

‘You should come,’ said Sam as if it was the simplest thing in the world.

‘Sam, I’m not sure if Lizzie is able to come,’ said Joe, trying to placate the situation and making Lizzie feel both grateful and wretched at the same time.

‘Why not? Mum would want her to be there. She’s her sister,’ declared Sam.

‘Well of course, if you would like to come, we would love you to,’ said Joe.

Lizzie looked at Sam and knew that there was no getting out of this. He had an air of Bea in his frowning face; it was a look that said, ‘Come on sis, do it for me.’ And like everything else her sister had ever asked her to do, Lizzie agreed without question.

‘I’d love to come,’ she said with a small smile.

‘Excellent,’ said Joe. ‘We’ll see you back at the house.’




The Goode Family lived just outside Smallchurch very close to where Lizzie and Bea had grown up. When Bea and Joe married, she had made it clear that she wanted to stay near to her parents and give their children the countryside upbringing that she had enjoyed. Joe had been so in love with Bea that he would have lived in a sewer if she’d told him to and so they settled in a rambling old farmhouse surrounded by large fields and impressive views over rural Kent. Bea loved it because its boundary was flanked by cobnut bushes and fruit trees. The house itself needed a great deal of work and they had spent a lot of money and time making it into a comfortable family home.

Lizzie had never been to the house but she wasn’t surprised by its size or decor. Her sister had always had great taste and an eye for style. She felt sick as she parked her car at one corner of the gravel drive and made her way through the open front door. An impressively large staircase sat in the middle of the hall, sweeping up towards a wide landing. Lizzie imagined an exquisitely decorated Christmas tree sitting at the top of the stairs. When Bea and Joe bought the house, she remembered her sister telling her that, ‘it has room for two Christmas trees. I’ve always wanted a house big enough for two Christmas trees!’ Along with a lifelong passion for the musical achievements of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, Bea was also hopelessly devoted to all things festive. Lizzie smiled at the memory but the moment was interrupted as she heard voices approaching the door of the room to the right of the staircase. She made a beeline for the left-hand room. She needed to give herself a little more time before speaking to anyone. A buffet was laid out on a long rectangular table, which flanked one wall. Lizzie had been too nervous to eat breakfast that morning and felt queasy at the sight and smell of the food. She turned away and immediately caught sight of Sam. He was standing in front of the fireplace staring up at a large canvas photograph of him with his mother and father. It was an informal shot of the three of them, wide-eyed and laughing. Lizzie noticed Bea’s arms locked protectively around Sam’s body. If it hadn’t been for her sister staring down at her, Lizzie could have been looking at a photograph of any family. She felt as if she were intruding. This place had nothing to do with her. As she hesitated, Sam turned round to face her. It was like an electric shock jolting through her body. His resemblance to Bea was astonishing.

He didn’t smile but he wasn’t frowning any more either. His face was more a picture of curiosity. ‘Do you want a cake?’ he asked, wandering over to the food table and helping himself to a large chocolate muffin. ‘Mum and I made these before she died. We put them in the freezer so that they didn’t go off before the funeral,’ he added.

Lizzie’s stomach groaned with a mixture of nerves and hunger but there was something about Sam’s casual acceptance of her that made her take one. She nibbled the top. ‘They’re delicious,’ she said.

Sam seemed satisfied. ‘Come on,’ he said. ‘I’ll show you my rope swing.’

She watched him walk towards the door, unsure whether she should follow. She had been on the verge of leaving and yet she was torn. He paused in the doorway and looked her straight in the eye. There it was again. That look. That determination.

‘Come on,’ he repeated.

Lizzie couldn’t refuse him any more than she could refuse his mother. She followed him out into the garden, across the sweeping lawn which led down to a stream. The rope swing hung from the bough of a sturdy-looking apple tree.

‘Can you hold my cake please?’ asked Sam. Lizzie obliged and watched as he took hold of the fat stick which served as a seat and swung across without a sound. He stared at her triumphantly. Lizzie realised that some sort of reaction was required so she said, ‘That’s very clever,’ although it sounded flat to her ears. Sam probably felt this too and swung back to stand next to her and reclaim his cake.

‘You can have a go if you want,’ he said offering her the stick. Lizzie didn’t think her mother would appreciate her estranged daughter making an exhibition of herself at Bea’s wake, although she suspected that Bea would have loved it.

‘It’s all right. I’m enjoying watching you,’ she said, realising that this was true. Sam nodded solemnly and embarked on another swing, cake in hand this time.

‘Why haven’t you ever come here before?’ he asked once he was back at her side. Lizzie admired his candour. For Sam, this was merely a question that needed an answer, whereas for Lizzie, it was a can of worms she’d stuffed in the back of the cupboard a long time ago. Why hadn’t she returned to the place of her childhood for fifteen years? Why had she stayed away so long?

‘Well, I live a little way from here.’


‘Just outside London,’ said Lizzie hoping Sam’s geography wasn’t up to much.

‘That’s not far,’ he declared. Damn, thought Lizzie, why are kids so clued up these days?

‘Well I work a lot,’ she said.

‘Oh,’ said Sam, seeming to understand this. ‘Mum used to work a lot too before she got sick.’ Lizzie nodded, hoping the subject was closed. It wasn’t. ‘I suppose we could have come to visit you though.’

‘I suppose you could have.’

‘Why didn’t we then?’

Lizzie didn’t know what to say. This was the first time she’d properly met Sam and it was clear that he and Bea shared more than just facial resemblance. There was something in his honest and direct questioning that reminded her so much of her sister. ‘You’re very like your mum,’ she said fondly, hoping to buy a little time.

‘Everyone says that,’ observed Sam, sounding bored. ‘So why didn’t we see you then?’

Lizzie sighed. ‘It’s complicated.’

Sam kicked at a stone. ‘Adults always say that.’

Lizzie didn’t feel qualified to deal with this. Sam needed answers. She just wasn’t sure that she was the one to give them. ‘I used to see your mum.’ She knew how inadequate a response this was even before the words were out of her mouth.

Sam narrowed his eyes. ‘Don’t you like kids?’ It was black and white to Sam. You chose not to see me. You don’t like me.

‘It’s not that.’

‘What then?’ Lizzie was silent. ‘Is it something to do with Granny?’

‘Yes,’ said Lizzie uncertainly.

‘Because she never mentions you. Or rather we’re not supposed to mention you when she’s around.’

‘Oh. Right.’ At least I know where I stand, thought Lizzie. ‘Did your Mum ever talk about me?’

Sam shrugged. ‘Sometimes. She said you’d fallen out with Granny and so didn’t want to come home.’

Lizzie nodded. ‘That’s about the size of it.’

‘Do you miss my mum?’ he asked, eyeing her closely.

‘Very much,’ said Lizzie without hesitation.

      Sam nodded, satisfied that he was getting an honest answer. ‘I’m going to get another cake,’ he said, heading back up the lawn without a backward glance.

Part of Lizzie longed for him to stay. It might be odd to confide your innermost feelings to a ten-year-old but Lizzie got the sense that he understood, that he knew Bea like she knew Bea; an uncomplicated relationship based on love and trust. They had both lost the source of their comfort and protection. The difference was that whereas Sam had his father and grandmother and no doubt plenty of friends to envelop and help him through his grief, Lizzie had no one. She was alone. She had deliberately built her life in this way because she’d always had Bea. Now that Bea was gone, she literally had no one to turn to. She felt her stomach twist with panic at the realisation of this truth. She stared at the house, trying to imagine her sister appearing at the back door, waving and wandering down the garden to join her.

‘I miss you Bea,’ she whispered. She considered going back inside to find Sam but then she risked bumping into Joe or, even worse, her mother. It was at that moment that she noticed a male figure make his way out onto the lawn and walk towards her. At first she thought it might be Joe but as she shielded her eyes against the sun, she recognised him. She felt an overwhelming urge to run away but he was striding purposefully towards her, waving and smiling so she stayed rooted to the spot. It was fifteen years since she had seen him and as she watched him stroll down towards her she was immediately transported back in time. She remembered how her heart had surged whenever he had walked into the room, her teenage self filled with longing for his attention. He had made her feel protected and special until it had all turned sour. He must have noticed her guarded expression because at first he looked unsure, studying her face for a clue as to whether he was welcome. She told herself to stay calm. She didn’t need to deal with this now, in fact she was unsure if she ever wanted to deal with the hurt this man had caused her. She wanted to be on her way. She looked into his clear blue eyes and did her best to keep her face neutral. He smiled confidently. He had always been confident. It had been one of the things she had liked most about him. As a teenager he had been boyishly good-looking with the charm of youth to carry him. Age had allowed him to grow into his looks, and his once dark hair was now flecked with a little grey.

‘Hello, Lizzie,’ he said. ‘It’s good to see you.’ His voice was warm and genuine but Lizzie wasn’t about to be drawn in by his easy charm. Too much had happened since the time she had been his girlfriend. He had been one of the reasons she’d left Smallchurch and one of the reasons why she hadn’t come back until now.

‘Hello, Alex,’ she said coldly. He either didn’t pick up on her tone or chose to ignore it.

‘How are you holding up?’ he asked, reaching out to touch her on the arm.

She took a step back. ‘Yes, okay thanks,’ she said. It was a complete lie but she wasn’t about to share confidences with this man. ‘I was just leaving actually.’

He looked surprised but gave a small nod of his head. ‘Of course. I just had to tell you how sorry I am about Bea. I know how close you were.’ His eyes misted with grief and Lizzie felt enraged. How dare he try to hijack her loss? How dare he try to act as if he understood anything? ‘If there’s anything I can do,’ he said.

Such kind words, thought Lizzie, if they were uttered by another person, but from Alex they were like a cheap unwanted gift. She could have reacted in a hundred different ways, said everything she’d practised in her head over the years, but today wasn’t about Alex Chambers. Today was about Bea; her darling lost sister. ‘I’ll be fine thank you,’ she said turning away and walking back towards the house. It was another neat lie. Five reassuring words that meant nothing.

She hurried through the patio door, past a small gathering of people chatting in hushed tones over the strawberry pavlova. They turned as she entered but she ignored them all. She was giving herself permission to flee. Bea wouldn’t want her to stay, not after her encounter with Alex. She had almost made it to the front door when she heard a voice behind her.

‘Oh Lizzie. I didn’t realise you were here.’ From another person, this might have been a declaration of pure joy but from Stella Harris it managed to sound both cold and critical.

Lizzie turned to face her mother. In the gloom of the church, she hadn’t looked at her mother’s features properly. Now, in Bea’s brightly lit hall with the sun streaming into Stella’s face, Lizzie was shocked by how much she had aged in fifteen years. Her mother had been forty-five when she had last seen her. If someone had described Stella as being in her late sixties, Lizzie would have believed it. Her face was a mass of wrinkles, like a map of her life’s experiences. She observed her daughter, unsmiling, unimpressed. Lizzie couldn’t bear that look. ‘I’m going now. Would you say goodbye to Joe for me?’

‘I most certainly shall not,’ snapped Stella.

Her mother wanted a fight. Lizzie saw this now. ‘Goodbye,’ said Lizzie turning away. She couldn’t handle this. Not today. She knew it had been a mistake coming to the house. It was like being smacked in the face by the past over and over again. She might have been able to deal with this if Bea had been here but not on her own.

‘Well I don’t suppose I’ll see you again then,’ said her mother. There was something about the way she said this that was less critical and more regretful.

Lizzie turned back and looked at her, seeing sadness in her face that mirrored her own. She couldn’t bear it. ‘Goodbye, Mum,’ she repeated.

She hurried to her car and flung open the door, flopping down into the driver’s seat and telling herself that it was nearly done. She had almost made it through the day. All she had to do was drive home and she would be safe. Someone tapped on her window and she jumped. It was Joe. He was holding his hands up in apology, a parcel tucked under his arm. She sighed as she wound down the window.

‘Hi, Joe. Sorry, I was going to say goodbye but I couldn’t find you,’ she lied.

‘No worries,’ said Joe ever reasonable. ‘I just have something I need to give you. From Bea.’ He held out the parcel and Lizzie stared at it. As soon as she saw Bea’s writing and the name, ‘Lizzie Lou’, she felt her pulse quicken.

‘Do you know what’s inside?’ asked Lizzie, her voice almost a whisper as he handed the parcel through the open window.

Joe shook his head. ‘No, but Bea was very precise in her instructions. I was to give it to you on the day of her funeral. You know what she was like,’ he said with a fond smile.

Lizzie nodded. She looked down at the writing and ran her hand across it. Joe took a step back as if he were intruding on a private moment. ‘Well, I should let you go,’ he said. ‘Thank you for coming. It meant a lot to Sam and me.’

Lizzie knew that she should have a better response for Joe, something heartfelt and consoling, but she was too caught up with thoughts of Bea’s parcel and the need to be on her way. She laid it carefully on the seat next to her, like a mother placing her newborn in a cot.

‘Thank you, Joe. Goodbye,’ was all she could manage before she drove off. She didn’t make it very far before she pulled over at the side of the road and sat with her hands on the steering wheel, staring out at the bright summer sky, her mind racing with thoughts of her sister. She picked up the parcel and hugged it to her chest as the tears fell easily and the sobs overcame her so that she thought they would never stop.


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Attachments-Rainbow Rowell RAINBOW ROWELL WEEK

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (OK- late last year on this here blog) I reviewed Rainbow Rowell's Attachments (you can read that post here).  Unlike Eleanor and Park, Attachments is aimed at an adult readership and I'd say it has less crossover appeal.  That's not to say that it isn't a good read, because it totally is and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Lincoln, Beth and Jennifer.  I just can't imagine teens relating to it in the way that adults would.  Which is fine, because that isn't the aim.

And that made me wonder- how is it that some authors manage to connect with readers of all ages, whilst others end up pigeonholed into one genre?  I'm not talking about cross over fiction as such, more about authors who are adaptable, able to mould themselves into a writer of both adult fiction and children/YA's fiction.  

For example, I adored Judy Blume's books as a child and was beside myself with excitement when I discovered she'd also written novels for adults.  However, although her adult books were perfectly readable they didn't speak to me in the same way her YA titles had, and I was left disappointed.   I wanted that same level of fun, the same angst, the same chaotic friendships and relationships as I'd enjoyed in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Just As Long As We're Together.  And I didn't feel I got it.

With Rainbow Rowell, her books for teens appeal to me as much (if not moreso) than her books for adults, yet there are striking similarities in her inimitable style across both genres.  She doesn't seem to change depending on her audience.

Her characters are quirky, or outsiders, or normal people.

There's lots of dialogue.

She strikes the balance between humour and disquietude.

The plot is unique, but the books remain character driven.

For me these are the key elements of a good book, regardless of the target readership.  What good is a fantastic story if you don't give a damn about the protagonist(s)? The multitude of dialogue contributes to a pacey read, the kind you can't put down.  And her books are emotive.  Whatever she writes, you'll feel. 

And that's why I can't help but love her books.  Because when I turn the last page, whether it is of a book aimed at teens or adults, I feel like I have lived and breathed every scene. I've been on that bus, picked up that phone, written that fanfic, not just been a passive bookworm wrapped up in a duvet in a bogstandard terraced house. 

Rainbow Rowell is magical.  When I grow up I want to write books as brilliant as those she writes.  Books that touch peoples hearts and open their minds.  But most of all, books that people enjoy.

I am the Secret Wag- The Secret Wag REVIEW AND INTERVIEW

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a wag?  Ever wondered how much surgical enhancement they've had?  Ever wondered how they cope with the media pressure?  Then you should read I am the Secret Wag.  Written by 'an England footballer's wife', this book is a must for anyone attracted to the celebrity lifestyle.  As it is written anonymously there is scope for free speech and honesty, something which may be compromised in the autobiographies of other wags. 
I must admit to being surprised at the sauciness of some scenes-the secret wag certainly holds nothing back when it comes to disclosures about bedroom antics with her hunky footballer husband.  With sex, fashion, club brawls and boob jobs, I am the Secret Wag paints a picture of wagdom not that far removed from an episode of the Footballer's Wives.  If you subscribe to glossy magazines and gossip columns then I am sure you'll find this an interesting read.  In fact, you may have spotted the wag in one of them- her wedding was front page of popular magazine.  

On a personal level I'd hoped for a bit more about the beautiful game itself, but then I am a big football fan.  I've read The Secret Footballer books and enjoyed them as an insight into the world of professional football.  I am the Secret Wag is equally as candid, but definitely aimed at a female market.   My life is so far removed from that described in the book that I did have a few moments where I thought 'seriously?!' but then reminded myself that for someone in the media spotlight with oodles of cash it probably wasn't as outlandish as it seemed to little old me.  There were also a few moments where I felt that she contradicted herself slightly, mainly when talking about how normal she was and then following up by talking about expensive nights out at exclusive restaurants or selling her wedding to a glossy mag.

I am the Secret Wag may appeal to fans of chicklit, reality TV or those looking for an easy beach read and of course you can't help but wonder who it might be (I have very strong suspicions but am keeping schtum!).  I did wonder if some parts had been exaggerated or embellished to make a more interesting story, but at the end of the day it doesn't really matter if they had or not because the book isn't professing to be anything other than a fun glimpse into the life of a wag.

I am the Secret Wag is out now, published by Corgi.

I was fortunate enough to be able to ask the Secret Wag some questions exclusively for Books with Bunny.  Here's what she had to say...

Do you worry that your identity will one day be revealed? Especially with regard to the more risqué aspects of the book?
I absolutely wince at the prospect of my family reading about my sexual experiences, so yes it would be an utter nightmare for my identity to be revealed in that respect!  The beauty of the secret aspect is that I have been able to be 100% honest and just said it how it is.  I haven't held back in the nitty gritty details that's for sure!
How did your husband feel about you talking about your sex life so openly in the book?
He is very proud of me for what I have done, and enjoyed reading the book a lot. I must admit he did go a beetroot red colour when reading the bits about our sex life!  He was so overwhelmed with what I wrote about our relationship, especially my feelings towards him and the way I describe him.  He maintains I have never said them to his face, so he was really touched.
Would you ever consider writing a novel?
I would love to!  I have found a real passion for writing and found it very good therapy!  I love losing myself to my laptop and putting down all the thoughts racing through my head.  If anyone tries to talk to me when I'm in the flow of writing they get totally blanked!
Who do you think will win the World Cup?
I'm pretty certain Brazil will win.  They are a really strong side and being the host country and having all those passionately supporting them will spur them on even more.  The supporters become the twelth man.
Are wags really as obsessed with fashion/beauty as the media make out? 
Wags LOVE fashion and beauty. We love to have the newest items out in the shops or be trying the latest beauty products, just so that we can say we have.  We are very good at shopping as we're lucky to have the time and funds to do it, and when we want to. The atmosphere of competition means we're always striving to be the fittest and the best dressed. 
Besides your husband, who do you think is the most attractive footballer past or present?
David Beckham is absolutely gorgeous in the flesh.  His style, his hair, his charisma, he just oozes sexiness! Roque Santa Cruz who plays for Malaga is a bit of alright too.  Oh and Gerard Pique is totally gorgeous also!  It's alright to look, right?!

Sure...after all, who wouldn't look at this fine specimen of a man?! (Any excuse for a picture of the Beckmeister on my blog).

With thanks to the Secret Wag and Madeline Toy.