Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Death of an Avid Reader- Frances Brody BLOG TOUR

I've been swept along by the resurgence in 'cosy crime' and Frances Brody is an author I've been wanting to try for some time now.  Her Kate Shackleton books have already got quite a following, one which is growing with each instalment of the series.
And the beautiful covers (I mean look at this one- how beautiful can you get?) are old-school mystery with enough of a modern hint to grab the attention of readers of all ages.
I can hear what you're saying though... 'Covers are all well and good, but it's what's inside that counts...' so let's get going with the review!
The Blurb
A lady with a secret
Kate Shackleton's sterling reputation for courageous sleuthing attracts the attention of the venerable Lady Coulton. Hidden in her past is a daughter, born out of wedlock and given up to a different family. Now, Lady Coulton is determined to find her and puts Kate on the case.

A mysterious killing in the library's basement
But as Kate delves deeper into Lady Coulton's past, she soon finds herself thrust into a scandal much closer to home. When the body of the respected Horatio Potter is found in the Leeds Library basement, the quiet literary community is suddenly turned upside down with suspicions, accusations and - much to Kate's surprise - the appearance of a particularly intelligent Capuchin monkey!

The most puzzling case in Kate's sleuthing history yet
Convinced an innocent man has been blamed, Kate sets out to discover the truth. Who would want Dr Potter dead? Does Lady Coulton's missing daughter hold a vital clue? As the stories start to emerge in the seemingly quiet Leeds Library, Kate is learning fast that in this case, she can't judge a book by its cover . . .

The Review
There is nothing better on a cold autumn evening than curling up with a wonderfully written mystery and getting totally transported to a different time and place.  Death of an Avid Reader whisked me away to a bygone age, one which in many ways was easier- more simplistic and straightforward.  However, for sleuth Kate Shackleton, life is anything but simple.
Lady Coulton is desperate to find her illegitimate daughter and calls upon Kate's expertise in the hope of a speedy discovery.  Yet name changes, family dramas and moving inland from the Yorkshire Coast mean Kate's job is not as easy as it may at first seem.  And before long Kate has the additional challenge of finding a murderer as well as reuniting the mother and daughter...
There was a lot to love about this book.  The writing style manages to be fluid and flowing whilst still containing oodles of description which makes it extremely engaging and fast paced.  The quick, snappy dialogue also adds to this, making it a quick, easy read.  On a personal level, I loved the scenes in Scarborough-our UK holiday destination of choice.

I also really warmed to Kate, she is a likable character and a strong woman against the 1920s backdrop.  Death of an Avid Reader is entertaining and a good old-fashioned mystery without the gore and brutality which is often a by product of crime/thriller writing. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Death of an Avid Reader from beginning to end.  It is a gentle, mildly humorous book and I am now a fully paid up member of the 'converted to Kate' crew.  I want to get hold of the rest of the books now and see what other adventures are in store!


Death of an Avid Reader is released on Thursday 2nd October and available for pre-order now from all good bookshops and online stockists.
With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Friday, 26 September 2014

After- Anna Todd BLOG TOUR

This is a weird one for me to be writing about as it feels very close to home!  I'm friends with a lot of the other bloggers on the UK tour for After, but I don't think they were familiar with it until The Hot Bed, Simon and Schuster's raunchy side, started promoting it.  Whereas I knew all about After. 
If you've read my blog before, you'll have seen me talking of my love for One Direction-maybe even the 'celebrity crush' promo video for a book earlier in the year, where I'm holding a picture of Louis and the drool is almost visible.  That's the small scale side of the obsession.  Here comes the full on confession.  I saw them four times this summer-twice as VIP (absolutely amazing.  Niall did the Better than Words thrust practically IN MY FACE).  I went to support Louis and Niall in their charity games.  I've been tweeted by Anne, Ruth and Dan, and DMed by Keith.  Liam's car nearly ran me and my friend Svenja over at 1am on his way back from a late night trip to KFC to beat the munchies.  And I actually met Dan and nearly died with excitement (I'm a huge Dangirl Fangirl. Gotta love someone who strums that well.  Ahem).  
Basically, I'm just sharing a few credentials here so people who find my blog via Anna know I'm not a carrot ;) 

Any excuse to relive the 'meeting Dan' moment, even though my hair did look exceptionally shit that day
And if none of that made any sense to you, you're obviously one of the bookish visitors not a Directioner...
If you know me then you'll know I unashamedly read/write/champion fanfiction.  And One Direction fanfiction is my area of expertise.  I've read it all-the good, the bad, the ugly, the downright weird.
Anna Todd is the most well known writer of fanfic in our fandom.  She has an absolute 'Anna Army' clamouring for updates and there are people who've had 'Hessa' tattoos, make endless manips and are probably as obsessed with 'After Harry' (who has been renamed as Hardin for the print version) as they are with Harry himself.  And because Anna is so bloody lovely, answering hundreds of fans tweets daily, running an online reading group and aiming to meet as many fans as she can in person, it has grown, and grown, and grown.  It's like an After snowball running away down a hill, building up speed and bundling up new readers with each update.
I'll be honest.  I resisted After for a long time, partly because of the hype.  And also, I seriously struggle with any serialised fiction because I am the most impatient human on the entire planet, and waiting for updates on fanfics I read nigh on kills me.  It was only when I started interacting with Anna on twitter that I finally started reading it, but when that happened I was hooked.
This is quite a rambly opening for a blog post, I admit.  But I couldn't launch straight into a review without a bit of background, because it is the background which has brought us to this point-where After is on the verge of release to an unsuspecting public.  Fans will be slightly reluctant to share, because Hessa is part of our fandom and we are a very tight, loyal bunch (best fans in the world, eh Nialler?).  Yet in saying that, I think everyone that's enjoyed After on Wattpad will be thrilled for Anna and the success she is having. 
She's one of us, afterall. 
The Blurb
Anna Todd's After fan fiction racked up 1 billion reads online and captivated readers across the globe. Experience the Internet's most talked-about book, now newly revised and expanded, for yourself! There was the time before Tessa met Hardin, and then there's everything AFTER...Life will never be the same. #Hessa
Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. She's got direction, ambition, and a mother who's intent on keeping her that way. But she's barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, tattoos, and lip ring, Hardin is undeniably hot! But he's also rude - to the point of cruelty, even.
For all his attitude, Tessa should hate Hardin. And she does - until she finds herself alone with him in his room. Something about his dark mood grabs her, and when they kiss it ignites within her a passion she's never known before. He'll call her beautiful, then insist he isn't the one for her and disappear again and again.
Despite the reckless way he treats her, Tessa is compelled to dig deeper and find the real Hardin beneath all his lies. He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper.
Tessa already has the perfect boyfriend. So why is she trying so hard to overcome her own hurt pride and Hardin's prejudice about nice girls like her? Unless...could this be love?
The Review 
Here goes nothing... This is literally one of the most scary reviews I have ever had to write!
But before I start, I need to get the negative out of the way- I really don't like the name change to Hardin.  I understand why it had to be altered, but Hardin just sounds so unBritish. I did kind of get used to it after a while, and for anyone coming to After for the first time it wouldn't be an issue at all.  I guess he'll just always be Harry to me *shrugs*  The other major name changes are Liam/Landon, Louis/Logan, Niall/Nate, Zayn/Zed- I actually really like the last one, but the others not so much.  They're only names though, and I can get over that.
For those who don't know, the story itself is in classic New Adult frenemies territory- preppy girl (Tessa) goes off to college leaving her reliable-yet-unexciting boyfriend (Noah) back in her hometown.  Finding herself thrown into a group of alternative types with tattoos and piercings, Tessa wonders where she fits in.  It's her roommate Steph who really opens Tessa's eyes to how appearances can be deceptive, and I love her.  She's a strong female with a real sense of her own identity and is a good friend to Tessa-she's got that rebellious streak but a good heart.  I'd love a friend like her.
Hardin is a bit more complex.  He's troubled, and broody and at times downright rude.  But he's also sexy as hell and has a reputation for being pretty darn amazing in bed. Oh, and he likes reading the classics.  Which all in all makes for a lethal and undeniably attractive character.  In real life I look for devotion and honesty, but in fiction I like my men with a bit of attitude and Hardin has that in bundles. 
Hardin was physically based on this beautiful man. What's not to love?
Of course, I'm not giving anything away if I let slip Tessa and Hardin become 'involved'.  It's messy and toxic with some steamy sex thrown in for good measure, but mostly their story is of fraught arguments and a power struggle. 
This is where some people find After hard. 
Both Tessa and Hardin can be selfish, both Tessa and Hardin are stubborn.  There is a lot of game playing between them where they seemingly testing each other. Tessa does this through meddling in Hardin's fractured family life, whereas Hardin closes off, uses sex to control Tessa and for large parts of the book is pretty awful.  There are people who have said After glamorises abusive relationships and that it shouldn't be released, especially when teen girls are reading it.  Two points on this from me.  Firstly, I don't think it does.  Tessa goes into the relationship with her eyes wide open and builds enough confidence to leave if she so wished.  And After has always been more about infatuation than straightforward love.  Secondly, those who say 'teens shouldn't read after because it gives an unhealthy view of relationships'- would you let teens read Jane Eyre?  Because having a wife locked in an attic isn't really healthy either, but I don't think Bronte was advocating it just because she used it as a plot device...
The editing has definitely improved the quality of the writing.  Wattpad is a fabulous place to get down ideas but Anna and her editors have really added to the style and substance of the book.  It is really, really readable- one of those books where you settle down to read a few pages and BAM- half your day is gone because you have been suckered in.  Put simply, if you're a fan of new adult fiction, then you have got to read After
Overall, I am really, really proud to 'know' Anna.  She built up from writing updates on her phone to a publishing deal and the After series is going to be a huge global phenomenon, even moreso than it already is.  I'm glad to have found Hardin and Tessa before the explosion which is coming.  And although it makes me a bit sad to say it, it's time for the fandom to share Hessa *sob*

And I am EXCEPTIONALLY fortunate to have a little video snippet of the gorgeous Anna that she made exclusively for Books with Bunny (see, told you she was lovely) thanking everyone for their support.  Mwah. xxx

 1D fanfic lovers, you can find me on Wattpad here .

Ebook links:
Kindle: amzn.to/1D9Yj6w
Google Play: bit.ly/1pgjfOW
Kobo: bit.ly/1uzvUDc
iTunes: bit.ly/X5Dd87

Paperback links: Amazon: amzn.to/1Da0OWI
Waterstones: bit.ly/1oOrMt3
WHSmith: bit.ly/ZmpHPt
Foyles: bit.ly/1qYb27M

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Rosie Project- Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project- Graeme Simsion

The Blurb
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is a story about love, life and lobsters...

Meet Don Tillman.
Don is getting married.
He just doesn't know who to yet.
But he has designed a very detailed questionnaire to help him find the perfect woman.
One thing he already knows, though, is that it's not Rosie.
Absolutely, completely, definitely not.

Telling the story of Rosie and Don, Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project is an international phenomenon, sold in over thirty countries - and counting.

Don Tillman is a socially challenged genetics professor who's decided the time has come to find a wife. His questionnaire is intended to weed out anyone who's unsuitable. The trouble is, Don has rather high standards and doesn't really do flexible so, despite lots of takers - he looks like Gregory Peck - he's not having much success in identifying The One.

When Rosie Jarman comes to his office, Don assumes it's to apply for the Wife Project - and duly discounts her on the grounds she smokes, drinks, doesn't eat meat, and is incapable of punctuality. However, Rosie has no interest in becoming Mrs Tillman and is actually there to enlist Don's assistance in a professional capacity: to help her find her biological father.
Sometimes, though, you don't find love: love finds you...

The Review
This was actually a reread, but I originally read it before I started my blog.  And I've got to say I am so glad I reread it.  It was even better the second time around, maybe because I understood the dynamics between the characters so much more. 

This really is a heavily character driven book.  Don, a professor with Aspergers, is incredibly likeable, particularly because his thought process is so straightforward. There are people around him, the Dean at the University for example, who don't understand his behaviours, but essentially Don is a good guy, looking for love in the methodical, scientific way which seems natural to him.  Rosie is strong, quirky, clever- but she is complicated and her sometimes guarded nature confuses Don.  Other characters (particular mention for Don's friend Gene) are also well crafted by Simsion and this is one of the major strengths of the book.

That isn't to say there is no plot, because there is.  Don looking for love via a questionnaire and helping Rosie find her biological father is strangely engaging.  When I was first given this book I really didn't think it would be something I'd enjoy, but it has become one of the books I recommend to anyone who wants to read something they perhaps might have missed.

The Rosie Effect is out this week (which is what prompted the reread) and I cannot wait.  These characters deserve a long running series, not just a sequel.  I want to know more about Don and Rosie, because I fell in love with them.  I defy you not to fall in love with them too.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

This Book is Gay- James Dawson

The Blurb
Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it's like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people 'across the spectrum', this inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know - from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell's hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-have read.

The Review
I really wish this book had been around when I was growing up.  Firstly, it talks seriously about every aspect of sexuality/sexual identity but in a way which is non-threatening, totally normative and best of all exceptionally funny.  Secondly, there are these great comic illustrations from Spike Gerrell which break up the chunks of text (I imagine, especially if you are a teen trying to suss out what you think/feel/believe, they are a nice bit of respite).  Thirdly, I think anyone-no matter how worldly wise/'openminded' -will learn from This Book is Gay

I grew up in a small market town.  Nearly everyone was, or at least presented as, straight.  I first started questioning my sexuality twenty years ago ('why does my tummy do that same funny flip it does when I see [insert male crush of the week here] when I see [insert girl I think is ultra beautiful here]?') I now know there is absolutely nothing 'wrong' with that and that being attracted to people regardless of their gender is not something exclusive to me, but at 14- well, there was no one to talk to about it and this book would have helped me A LOT.

There's all sorts of stuff in this book- the history of sexuality, LGBT* in relation to religion and culture, how same sex couples 'do it', a list of gay icons and top gay literature/films etc.  But the most touching part of this book is how real people have explained real life through heartfelt words.  Strong emotions of anger, rejection, fear are told through the stories of LGBT* people who have shared their stories, but the overriding feeling is of love, self-confidence and acceptance.  It will give those just starting out on their journey of discovery hope that things will get better.

So James, Spike, Hot Key Books and all those who shared their private journey to understanding themselves better- thank you.  You've created something very special.

This Book is Gay is out now, published by Hot Key Books.  With thanks to the publisher for giving me a copy of this book to review in return for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Books with Bunny update/changes

It's rare for me to write a blog post about Books with Bunny.  The vast majority of my posts are book reviews, often with a personal slant, or author features/cover reveals.  But things have changed a lot for me since I started this blog fifteen months ago and I feel I need to address it a bit to explain the situation.  I still love blogging and am extremely thankful for the friends I have made through it-bloggers, authors, readers, publicists.  This isn't a 'goodbye, I'm folding' post.  (If you don't want to read the lot, skip to the bottom for the pertinent points).

It is, however, a 'I can't keep going at this rate' post.  When I first started blogging (which was only a minor step up from the reading and rating I had been doing for many years) I wrote about books I chose to read.  I was then very fortunate to get publishers and authors asking me to review their titles, and I'd say yes to EVERYTHING.  Now, I'm a voracious reader, but even I need to do other things sometimes like, oooh, eat, sleep, spend time with my family.  I made a decision earlier this year to be more selective about what I read and review, especially as the vision when I began Books with Bunny was to encourage people to read.  That effectively means reading things I expect I'll like, so I can write an honest and passionate post which will make others want to run out and grab the novels I'm raving about.  However, I'm still gaining books at a rate much faster than I can read.

So yet again I'm having to be more selective still.  I have an enormous pile of books waiting 'to be read' (TBR). At my last estimate there were 300 of my own physical books and over 50 kindle titles, plus 80 physical review books from authors/reviewers and around 120 galleys.  I am not complaining.  I always said that book blogging is a labour of love and payment is in books.  Seeing as most of the money I earn in my day job goes on books anyway, it just cuts out the middle man.  I just want to explain why I sometimes take a long time to get around to reviewing titles I am given. I speak to a lot of other bloggers and know we're all in the same situation, especially since ebooks and self-publishing have really taken off and increased the amount of novels heading into an already saturated market.

Lots of you also know that I am trying to get my own writing out there (like me at www.facebook.com/kateylovell) .  I never thought I'd want to get published despite having written on and off for most of my life but numerous authors I admire encouraged me to go for it and finding time to write as well as read/review/live is exceptionally hard. 

So, the long and short of it is this.

  • I will be doing far fewer blog tours
  • I am going to have to be more selective. If you are a publisher or author, please do still approach me (or if I notice on twitter or know you have something I think I can help promote then I will approach you) but be aware that I am having to be realistic about how many books I take on.
  • Most of the books I currently read are YA, NA, Chicklit and some psychological thrillers.
  • I have previously kept going with books I haven't really enjoyed because I feel I owe it to the author/publicist to repay them for giving me their book.  I am going to have to be more ruthless- there may be some 'did not finish' reviews coming up on Goodreads/Netgalley.  Sorry!
  • Finally, I am still as passionate about words, books and reading as I always have been.  I still love having a blog and I hope people still enjoy my reviews. 
Onwards and upwards to more reviews of books I know you'll love!

Cover Reveal for Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe -Rebecca Raisin

I've unashamedly loved Rebecca Raisin's 'Gingerbread Café' series and think I may shed a little tear now it's coming to an end.  I don't want to have to say goodbye to these characters!  But thanks to them I am fortunate enough to have made a wonderful real-life friend as well as the fictional ones hiding in the pages.  Rebecca has been hugely encouraging of both the Books with Bunny blog and my own writing journey, and I would never have found her if it wasn't for this series so I'll always have a soft spot for Lily and co. 
The cover for the final instalment is absolutely stunning, my favourite yet.  Carina do seem to have a knack of coming up with beautiful covers for their releases!  Look how pretty it is!
I'm going to be drumming my fingers now until the release day.  And I can't wait until there are paper copies available because if ever there was a strokeable cover, it's this.

Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Café
Released October 15th
You are invited to the wedding of the year!
Snow is falling thick and fast outside the Gingerbread Café and inside, its owner Lily is planning the wedding of the year. Her wedding! She never dreamt it would happen, but this Christmas, she’ll be marrying the man of her dreams - in a Christmas-card-perfect ceremony!
The gingerbread is baking, the dress is fitted and the mistletoe’s in place – for once, everything’s going to plan. That is until her mother-in-law arrives... Suddenly, Lily’s famous cool is being tested like never before and her dream wedding is crumbling before her eyes.
In the blink of a fairylight, the Gingerbread Café has been thrown into chaos! Lily thought she had this wedding wrapped up, but with so much to do before she says ‘I do’, can Lily get to the church on time – and make this Christmas sparkle after all?
Pre-order the book here:
Find Rebecca here:

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Duende- E.E. Ottoman

The blurb
Famed opera singer Aimé has a lot in common with Badri, the Royal Ballet Company's most popular male lead. They have both dedicated their entire lives to their art, and struggle to be taken seriously among the Empire's elite. And both harbor a secret admiration and desire for the other.

This year for his birthday Aimé treats himself to a night at the ballet seeing Badri perform, and after the show decides to meet Badri and confess his admiration for Badri's skill. But when that first awkward meeting turns to more, they are left wondering if there is room in their lives for both career and romance…

The Review
Oh, how I loved this book!  I can't put into words just how much it touched me. 

Firstly, I adored how art was portrayed as a vessel for life.  That was something I could totally relate to and I felt E.E. Ottoman managed to put that across beautifully.  But most of all, this is a fabulous love story.  Aime and Badri aren't perfect.  But they love each other, imperfections and all, with that total, all-consuming love and fascination. 

It is intense.  It is passionate.  In fact, my heart almost leapt out of my chest because their relationship was so beautiful and tender and real.  And I think I developed a bit of a crush on Badri too.  Partly because he was so wonderfully dedicated, partly because of his love for Aime, partly because he places such importance on family by doting on his brother Sushil.

I can't really compare it to anything else out there.  It kind of defies genre.  Duende is otherworldly.  It is romance.  It is erotica.  And (although I hate classifying things this way) it is GBLTQ.

But above all it is fantastic. 

I didn't realise it was part of a series, but have now greedily got my hands on part one.  And part three is in the pipeline!  Yippee!  I just hope there will be more of Amie and Badri somewhere along the way, even if it is a cameo or reference.  I love them like I love Jane and Mr Rochester.  I want to write fanfics about them.  I want them to be adapted into a TV series shown late night on BBC3 (or maybe E4).

Basically, I want more.

Bring.  It. On.

Duende is out now, published by Less Than Three.

I was given a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

This summer I read....

After a summer with no laptop, I have a whole host of books to blog about.  The only way I can catch up is by doing a quick 'wrap up' post and then start afresh, so apologies for the short reviews coming your way, but here's what I've read this summer.

Little Lies- Liane Moriarty
The Blurb
Top ten bestselling author Liane Moriarty returns with another gripping read.

She could hear men and women shouting. Angry hollers crashed through the soft humid salty summer night. It was somehow hurtful for Mrs Ponder to hear, as if all that rage was directed at her . . . then she heard the wail of a siren in the distance, at the same time as a woman still inside the building began to scream and scream . . .

When a harmless quiz night ends with an act of shocking violence, the parents of Pirriwee Public School can't seem to stop their secrets from finally spilling out. Rumours ripple through the small town, as truth and lies blur to muddy the story of what really happened on that fateful night ...

The Review
I read and loved The Husband's Secret earlier this year and was totally ecstatic to be asked to review Little Lies.  I was hoping for more of the same, and by jove, I got it. 

Little Lies has a voyeuristic feel into community life-the playground politics at school, the secrets people keep, that relationships are not always how they look from the outside- and I was compelled to keep turning the pages as the characters lives unravelled before me (in every sense!). 

As a Mum myself I thought Moriarty did a great job of portraying the stresses of modern parenthood and how Mums are so often pigeon holed into categories of 'the career Mum', 'the young Mum', 'the hippy Mum'.

I found this an unsettling and gripping read which would have only been bettered by a more meaty ending.  However , fans of The Husband's Secret will enjoy this one just as much.

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

Barcelona-Philip Langeskov
The Blurb
And so Daniel and Isla return to the city where they celebrated their honeymoon. Daniel hopes it will be a reminder of headier days, but from the start, something seems to be conspiring against his plans: time, people, the city itself. A haunting and exquisitely written tale about love, sacrifice, and how the road not taken sometimes takes you instead.    

The Review
This little book caught my eye in Waterstone's, probably due to the glistening Sagrada Familia on the bright orange cover.  I love Barcelona and after a quick flick I impulse bought it. 

I am so glad I did.

Barcelona is an insight into the relationship between Daniel and Isla and it certainly packs a punch.  Written in vivid prose, Langeskov has written a novella which will linger in your mind leaving you with as many questions as answers.  This could be frustrating, yet somehow it is not, instead I felt wired, desperate to scrape further below the surface of both the marriage and the plot.

In many ways I was reminded of Wharton's novella Ethan Frome, which is one of my absolute favourite reads.  It is not a comfortable read, and sometimes downright heartbreaking, but I fell into it headfirst and drowned in its beauty.

I'll definitely be rereading this one.  I loved it. 

Leading Man- Benjamin Svetsky
The Blurb
'It was a preposterously glamorous gig, the sort of jet-setting occupation a shallow Matthew McConaughey character might have in a cheesy romantic comedy - until McConaughey's character falls in love in the second act and learns the greater bliss of settling down with a regular girl like Kate Hudson. Only I was stuck in my second act. The way things were going, I'd end up as Matthew McConaughey for the rest of my life, and nobody wants that.'

Max Lerner has it all figured out. He's got the girl - his childhood sweetheart Samantha. He's got the job - reporter for a national magazine. Life is sweet. Until his aspiring actress girlfriend leaves him for his childhood hero, Johnny Mars. Can Max win her back by throwing himself into the world of celebrities, hangers on and wannabes? Or will he get more of an education than he bargained for?

Uproariously funny and exquisitely poignant, LEADING MAN will take you back to your first love, your first heartbreak and the first time your heroes let you down.

The Review
Hmmmm.  Where do I start here? 

I thought this would be right up my reading alley.  I love books set in glamorous locations full of celebrity and debauchery.  I love books with good humour, and romance and first love. 

But I seriously struggled with this one.

Do you know how long it took me to read?  Eight months.  Yes, you read that correctly.  EIGHT MONTHS.  I read a few pages and then couldn't stand any more, but for some reason I wouldn't let this book beat me.  I kept slogging on (and it was a slog), waiting for it to pick up pace.  But it didn't.

So, what did I dislike?  Firstly, as mentioned above, it had an incredibly slow pace.  I am not someone who needs constant entertaining when reading.  I can accept passages, chapters or even whole books where not much happens.  But in order for me to enjoy a book I an engaging writing style and I didn't feel this offered me that.  Secondly, I couldn't tell if this was satirical or not.  At times I thought it must be, but even as I finished it I was left confused about just how seriously (or not) this book took itself.  Thirdly, I couldn't relate to the characters at all.  Max was self centred, and childish and generally an all round irritating man.

I hate writing bad reviews as I know how hard authors work, but this one just wasn't for me. I wish I hadn't persevered. 

The publisher sent me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.    

Trouble in Tinseltown- Aimee Duffy 
The Blurb
Part 1 of Summer Flings – a fun, flirty and laugh out loud rom com series of short stories.

Armed with a degree from Oxford that she doesn’t have a clue what to do with, Ciara Bree convinces her two best friends, Elle and Gem to spend their first summer of freedom backpacking across the globe. Now it’s time to shop, sunbathe, think about boys for a change, and party hard…

First stop: LA!

The girls hit Tinseltown for a few days of shopping, star spotting, and even a movie premiere!

But their plan to sneak into an exclusive celeb party in West Hollywood backfires. Elle’s gorgeous older cousin, Zack, is called to the rescue and despite knowing she should stay away, Ciara just can’t seem to resist him.

The Review

This sounded like a proper summer chick-lit romp and I couldn't wait to get started.  After all, the cover was gorgeous, begging me to read it.  'Read me, read me' it begged, in a voice like Gollum's...  Ok, maybe not, but you know what I mean.  So I sat in the garden on a beautiful sunshiny day and read it from start to finish (it's only a short read, the first in a series).

Friendships in fiction are always a winner, and Ciara, Ellie and Gem are a lively trio.  I found their bond appealing but couldn't really warm to any of the girls.  Maybe that was partly due to the length of the story, but it did mean I didn't care that much about what happened.

Whilst it had all the ingredients of a rollicking chicklit/NA read- girlfriends, relationships, humour, sex- it fell a bit short for me.  I think I'd have preferred it as a full length novel, or at least a longer novella.

Although I like Aimee Duffy's writing, I don't think I'll be rushing to read the rest of this series.  But a longer novel?  Yes please.

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

The Blurb
A collection of interesting facts and hilarious hashtags to remind the world to seize the day—after all, you only live once

The reason the first CDs were designed to hold 74 minutes of music is that Beethoven's 9th Symphony is that length. #techieswithsoul #beethoven:stillhip

Presidents George Washington and Jimmy Carter both started their careers as farmers. #mrpresidenthadafarmeieio

It is a truth universally acknowledged that "You Only Live Once," so while some of us have been using the words "Carpe diem!" or "Seize the day!" to encourage our friends, it could be far more economical just to shout "YOLO!" This little book brings together a selection of fascinating facts accompanied by inspiring #hashtags to stir you into action. You’ll soon be seizing the day so firmly it'll be begging for mercy.

The Review
This is a tiny book, pocket sized and probably aimed at the stocking filler/token gift market.  Whilst there were some interesting facts, it really didn't inspire me to do anything out of the ordinary.  Don't waste your time reading this one.  After all, #YOLO.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Mexican Kimono- Billie Jones BLOG TOUR

The Blurb
Samantha knows what she wants from life – and she’s got it!
1.A loving family. OK, her Mum’s plan to marry her off to the world’s most metrosexual man might not be ideal… but it’s only because she cares!
2.A great job. Or at least: a job that leaves plenty of time to update Twitter and shop for designer bargains online…
3.A credit card, with a very generous limit. So generous that she’s just spent over $10,000 on an antique kimono…  But suddenly Samantha’s charmed life starts to fall apart! From a hair-related fire to losing her job, Sam’s facing bad karma – and it all started when she bought that kimono…  Sure, it’s ridiculous. How could a piece of silk ever bring bad luck? But it can! Because, whether Samantha likes it or not, someone wants to teach her a lesson: it’s what’s inside that counts.
The Review

You know when life seems to keep throwing up disaster after disaster?  Well, Samantha in Mexican Kimono, certainly does.  The (literally) hair-raising fire is one thing, but soon everything is falling apart for her- her job, her home, her family, her friends- it seems nothing is stable any more.  And all because she couldn't resist buying a kimono at an auction she stumbled across...

Mexican Kimono is unlike anything I have ever read.  It is so over-the-top madcap, a proper old-school farce, but I loved it because of that.  It's quirky and fresh, with humour that is an absolute tonic for the soul, but underneath the mayhem there's a serious message about appreciating the important things in life.

The characters are larger than life.  The gossiping hairdresser, the transvestite who owns the local café, Samantha's hippy dippy mother- I loved them.  And Samantha herself, who I must admit I took a while to warm to, made my jaw drop with her self belief and total delusion.  It's kind of like Priscilla-Queen of the Desert in how it manages to be wild, wacky and yet strangely touching.

Being honest, I probably wouldn't have chosen this book if I wasn't part of the blog tour.  But I would have missed out on an entertaining, unpredictable read  which had me hooked.

It's fair to say Mexican Kimono really surprised me.  Let it surprise you too.

Mexican Kimono is out now, published by Carina.

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