Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Waiting on Wednesday- Tinsel and Terriers- Cressida McLaughlin

This week I'm Waiting on Wednesday for Tinsel and Terriers by Cressida McLaughlin.  I've been blown away by Cressida's relaxed and chatty storytelling in the Primrose Terrace series and this final instalment promises to wrap everything up with neatly folded corners and silky Christmas ribbon. 
I can't wait until it's released on October 22nd, published by Harper.
The Blurb

Christmas is coming to Primrose Terrace, Pooch Promenade is doing brilliantly and Cat has made lots of new friends in the street, both dogs and their owners. Life seems good. Things start to go badly when Cat learns something about Mark that she wishes she hadn’t. Then, when one of Ellen’s lovable schnauzers, Chalky, gets ill, it looks like this Christmas could be turning into a dog’s dinner. But Cat has never given up on anything in her life – and this is one Christmas that’s definitely worth saving…

Tinsel and Terriers is the fourth and final part of a serialized novel told in four parts – all set in Primrose Terrace.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Autumn Q and A with Lynsey James *Carina Week*

Lynsey James, author of Just The Way You Are and the forthcoming The Broken Hearts Book Club has joined me today to answer some autumn- themed questions.  Welcome to Books with Bunny!

What's your favourite thing about Autumn?
I love the crunchy leaves and the feeling that Christmas is on the way. I even love the dark mornings because you can cosy up in bed and listen to the rain outside. And the autumnal flavours in Costa and Starbucks are yummy too.

And your least favourite?
I’m not a massive fan of the rain and wind, I must admit, especially when I get caught in it!

What's your favourite comfort food as the weather gets cooler?
Ooh, it’d have to be a slice of hot apple pie and some Scottish tablet ice cream. It’s become my new favourite this year.

What's your favourite film to snuggle up with on a cold, wet day?
I’m a rom-com addict all year round, but especially when it’s horrible outside. My favourites are Because I Said So, Must Love Dogs and Sex and the City.

Lots of readers will have had children going back to school this month or be going back to school/college/university themselves.  What were your favourite subjects at school?  And what subjects did you dislike?
I loved English and Modern Studies, and French and German. I absolutely hated Maths and I still do. Never did get my head around trigonometry!

Can you tell us a bit about your forthcoming release?
Sure! It’s called The Broken Hearts Book Club and it’s about a young woman named Lucy who returns to her hometown after eight years away to find she’s inherited a book club! It’s a lovely book to snuggle up with on a cold, wet day.

And what's next for Lynsey James?
I’m dreaming up ideas for books 3 and 4 right now! Watch this space…
Thanks for joining me today Lynsey! 
Just the Way You Are is out now in ebook format.  The Broken Hearts Book Club is due for release on October 12th.  Both published by Carina UK.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Waiting on Wednesday- The Little Bookshop on the Seine- Rebecca Raisin

I absolutely adore Rebecca Raisin's books and her next offering The Little Bookshop on the Seine looks to be absolutely perfect for a bibliophile like me!  I can't wait to read it, and it's only got a holding cover so far- I can't wait to see the 'real' one!

The Blurb

Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris?

Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read!

Picturing days wandering around Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping café au laits and people-watching on the Champs-Élysées Sarah boards the plane. But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream isn’t quite as rosy in reality…

The Little Bookshop on the Seine is due to be published on October 16th by Carina UK.

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Cafe - Jenny Oliver

The Blurb

Home, Sweet Home….?

There’s nowhere more deliciously welcoming…

When Annie White steps back onto Cherry Pie Island, it’s safe to say her newly inherited Dandelion Café has seen better days! And while her childhood home on the Thames-side island idyll is exactly the same retreat from the urban bustle of London she remembers, Annie’s not convinced that Owner of The Dandelion Cafe is a title she’ll be keeping for long. Not that she can bear the idea of letting her dedicated, if endearingly disorganized staff lose their jobs. Plus café life does also have the added bonus of working a stone’s throw away from millionaire Matt and his disarmingly charming smile!
One (shoestring budget) café makeover, a few delightful additions to the somewhat retro menu and a lot of cherry pie tastings later, The Dandelion Café is ready for its grand reopening! But once she’s brought the dilapidated old café back to life, Annie finds herself wishing her stay on the island was just a bit longer. She always intended to go back to the big city…but could island living finally have lured her back home for good?

Perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond, Sophie Kinsella and Cathy Bramley.

The Cherry Pie Island series
The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café – Book 1
The Vintage Ice Cream Van Road Trip – Book 2
The Great Allotment Challenge – Book 3
One Summer Night at the Ritz – Book 4

The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café is Book 1 in The Cherry Pie Island series.

Each part of Cherry Pie Island can be read and enjoyed as a standalone story – or as part of the utterly delightful series.

The Review

I've read a few of Jenny Oliver's books and there are two things I've really enjoyed about them - the way she writes about community and the descriptions of food.  Honestly, there's no one else who can make my mouth water so much purely through their writing!

I absolutely loved The Parisian Christmas Bake Off when I read it a few years ago and also found The Little Christmas Kitchen and The Vintage Summer Wedding were good reads, although didn't captivate me in the same way.  However, with The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café Jenny Oliver had me hooked from the very first page - she's back to her baking best!

Firstly, I loved that Annie had a past.  She's not broken by it, but it's there - an ex-husband from a Vegas wedding, an insecurity built on her father's preference for her brother over her, a lack of money management skills... I felt that by knowing more about Annie's history I empathised with her plight as she fought her inner battle over what to do with the café she's inherited.   Should she stay and revamp it?  Is it financially viable?  Or should she sell it and allow developers to change the landscape of Cherry Pie Island forever?

Of course, this is a romance so there's a love interest (Hello Matt!)  Annie and Matt's friendship develops throughout the book and it's a cute and believable progression.  Both characters had baggage from their pasts but I was cheering this couple on and willing them to get together!

But the absolute highlights for me were the deliciously tempting descriptions of food being sold in the café and Jenny Oliver's charming titbits of information about the café's homely interior.  Even by the end of the book it's nothing swish, but that adds to the delightful normalcy of it.  It's exactly the kind of place you hope to stumble across for friendly conversation and a bite to eat, and is the perfect fictional retreat.

I'll definitely be back for another slice of cherry pie as the series continues.  Mine's a large slice with cream please, Annie. 

The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café is out now, published by Carina.

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

Q and A with Rebecca Pugh! *Carina Week*

Today's guest as part of Carina week is author Rebecca Pugh.  Rebecca's first novel Return to Bluebell Hill was a runaway success and she's now preparing for her next release, A Home in Sunset Bay.  Many thanks to Rebecca for kindly agreeing to answer my questions today!
1.      How different has it been writing your second book compared to your first?

I wouldn’t say ‘easy’, but I’d definitely say that the second time round, I feel much more clued up on what’s to come and what needs to be done. Writing ‘Return to Bluebell Hill’ and experiencing the editing process was a very steep learning curve for me, but having done it once, I feel better prepared now for ‘A Home in Sunset Bay’ and it’s fantastic! I’ve taken my editor’s notes in from working on my debut, and have tried very hard to put her wonderful help and insights into practice while writing my second novel. I hope that this shows if readers who read Return to Bluebell Hill decide to read A Home in Sunset Bay! I couldn’t put into words how much I’ve learnt so far, and I still feel like I have a long way to go, but I’m excited to hopefully improve as I continue to write, fingers crossed! There’s always something to change, something I can make better, and in a strange way, it’s cathartic to chop up and lengthen sentences to make the story better as a whole. I feel like I’ve gone off on a tangent here, but all in all, writing my second novel felt much smoother than writing my first! I really cannot wait to share A Home in Sunset Bay with lovely readers.

  2.      Return to Bluebell Hill had some fabulous reviews – what does it feel like to know readers are enjoying your book?

I don’t think that there’s any one word that can describe how it feels when someone tells me that they’re enjoying my book, or I read a glowing review. Sometimes, I find it hard to believe that they’re talking about my book, a book which I’ve written. Even now, it’s completely bizarre and I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s all real and truly happening. It’s a blessing, a pleasure and a dream come true, all rolled into one, and definitely the best thing that has ever happened to me. When I hear something positive about my debut, it fills me with warmth from the inside out, and I find it hard to wipe the grin from off my face for a very long time afterwards.

3.      As a big reader, have you found writing for a living has eaten into your reading time?

I guess it has, but that was always inevitable. I do the majority of my reading when in bed at night, thanks to the fantastic built-in light on my Kindle which is the best thing ever by the way. I’m still trying to find a balance between the two, but I know that my writing will now come first. Books have always been my first love, but it’s not every day that you’re given an opportunity to write and have your novels published. I’ll always read when I can, always blog and review, but not as much as I used to. Priorities change throughout life, so I’m not sad. Excited more like!

4.      Can you tell us about your next release?

Of course! My second novel with Carina is due for release February 2016. It’s titled, ‘A Home in Sunset Bay’ and focuses on the Chapman sisters whose lives, as they so often do, went off on their own paths. The sisters were once the best of friends, closer than close and birds of a feather. Now, so many years later, they’re about to be reunited, although under shaky circumstances. I have loved writing A Home in Sunset Bay. I’ll have the pleasure of introducing readers to Dolly’s Diner, a 1950’s eatery, two sisters who I hold very dear to my heart, and a tale of how they somehow managed to get their wires so twistingly crossed somewhere along the way. I’m really excited because I feel that everything I learnt with my debut has been put into play, and I just hope it shows when readers can finally step into Sunset Bay!

5.      What’s next for Rebecca Pugh?

More books, I hope! I want to become better with my writing, I want to make more readers fall in love, I want to share my writing for years and years to come! The past year has been the most exciting of my life, and I want to live every year in the same way, sharing book news and covers and just generally making a big song and dance about it. As I said before, it’s not every day this becomes possible. This time last year I had no idea what life had in store for me, but now I wince when I think of what I’d be doing if I hadn’t submitted and at least tried, you know? I hope to continue in this exact way, blissfully happy and constantly excited. It’s the best feeling in the world!

Thank you so much for joining me today Rebecca, as always it's been a pleasure talking writing and books with you!
Return to Bluebell Hill is out now, published by Carina UK.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Question and Answer with Jennifer Bohnet *Carina Week*

I've been admiring this beautiful cover for weeks now, so when Jennifer Bohnet agreed to answer a few questions for Books with Bunny I was over the moon!  Let's hope we've got some more beautiful blue skies ahead before autumn comes.

You set your new novel by the sea- what are your own memories of the seaside?

I was born at the seaside - Weston-super-Mare - and spent a large part of my childhood there, so I have lots of memories. As many people will know the tide goes out a long way at Weston leaving a wide expanse of sand. I was very into horses as a teenager and some of my fondest memories involve lots of exhilarating early morning canters along the sand before the holiday makers arrived.

How long did it take you to write the book, and what were your inspirations?

For various reasons writing The Little Kiosk By the Sea took a couple of months longer than planned - about six months in all. My inspiration came via two things - a friend who had managed a kiosk organising boat and fishing trips and had lots of tales to tell. Dartmouth, where the book is set is one of my favourite places in the world and I wanted to set another story there.

If you had a kiosk by the sea, what would you sell?
In a previous life I did have a kiosk by the sea! Richard and I ran a beach cafe and takeaway for several years in Devon.  This ancient black and white photo shows my mother, me and my daughter standing behind the takeaway counter of our wooden kiosk on the beach!

What is your must-have seaside buy?
Nothing beats a coffee ice cream with a dollop of clotted cream on top!

My favourite word ever happens to be in your title.  'Kiosk' is just a delight to say!  What's your favourite word? 
Not sure I have one but I think ‘Author’ would have to come high on the list!

Thank you for answering my questions Jennie, it's been a pleasure to have you visit Books with Bunny.
Thank you so much Kate for inviting me on your blog.


Buy The Little Kiosk by the Sea on Amazon.  It's out now, published by UK Carina.

Author Bio: 
I’ve lived in France for 16 years now. After 11 years down on the Cote d’Azur where Richard was a guardien for a villa, we moved from the Mediterranean coast to a small quirky cottage in Finistere, Brittany. A bit of a culture shock to say the least! When I’m not writing I love reading, cooking and having friends around for lunch - lunches that follow the French tradition of lasting for several hours. 

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Question and Answer with Liz Tipping, author of Five Go Glamping BLOG TOUR *Carina Week*

Today I'm joined by Liz Tipping, author of Five Go Glamping, who has very kindly agreed to answer some questions just for Books with Bunny.

What are your own experiences of camping/glamping?  

I went glamping for the first time this summer and it was such an enjoyable experience. There were five yurts in a paddock, next to a field of dairy cows and the glampsite owners had three lambs who were absolutely beautiful. The sweetest things you ever saw!  In the morning, we had tea and coffee in a covered patio area overlooking the river and the little lambs would wander over to say hello. Inside the yurt was a wood stove and big comfy bed. It was lovely.

But I do love camping too and have been lots of times. The first holiday I went on with husband was a camping trip around Devon and Cornwall, so that’s one of my favourite memories. Our first stop was on a campsite near  Woolacombe in Devon and there was an incredible view. It was amazing to unzip the tent and the first thing I saw was the blue Atlantic sparkling! Lovely!
 What five things do you most miss when you're away from home?

Oh my goodness, I miss my bed so much! And my pillows! Whenever I return from a trip I can’t wait to get into my own bed and I say “Ah, bed. Bed, bed, bed. Bed.”

And I miss my sofa too- it’s getting a bit old and battered now, but whenever I think I will buy a new one, I spend the money on holidays instead.

I miss the telly loads as well! Well, perhaps not while I am actually on holiday, but whenever I come back from holidays, I always have a full tivo box and I’m all “Television, I have missed you!” and I get excited about catching up on what I’ve missed and getting back into whatever box set I am watching.

If there’s not a great reception where I am and there’s no wifi, I do tend to get a little bit twitchy. I’m not quite as bad as Fiona in Five Go Glamping, but I do like to know at least  twitter and email are accessible should I need them!

And big mugs! Tiny hotel cups always upset me greatly. In Ireland this January I was in a lovely hotel but it had the smallest teacups so I went to Dunnes and bought myself a big mug- but the first one I picked up from the display had orange juice in it. I’d love to know how it got there!

So bed, telly, sofa, wifi and big mugs!
Five go Glamping is set at a music festival- what are your five favourite songs to listen to at the moment?

These are the last five songs I’ve listened to- I have them in mind for the soundtrack for my next book!

Taylor Swift – Style
Jana Kramer – Whiskey
Mother Love Bone – Chloe Dancer
Carly Rae Jepsen- I really like you
Soundgarden - Fell On Black Days

What are your five essentials for camping/glamping?
1. I think sausages are an essential component for any glamping or camping trip because otherwise, what even is the point of going?

2.Cold beers ( ginger or otherwise!) – I made a beer box the last time we went camping. I filled around ten  freezer bags with water and put them in the freezer. When they were frozen,  I put them into a cardboard box with some already chilly beers and they stayed really, really cold for over two days. As the ice in the freezer bags melted, I used the water in the saucepan for cooking and making tea.

3.Warm clothes- even if it is a sweltering day, tents are often chilly at night, so don’t forget to pack a cardigan and socks!

4. Make up remover wipes- whether you are glamping or simply having a glamourous camping experience, you will bump into people on the way to the shower in the morning, so you can’t sleep in your make up the night before even if you do that at home. You don’t want to scare other campers off first thing in the morning because you look an extra from the Walking Dead.

5. And don’t forget the most important thing - a good book!

Finally, what five words would you use to describe your books?
I hope that readers will find them funny, romantic, inspiring, optimistic and heart-warming.

Many thanks for joining me today, Liz!

The Blurb

Glamping Check list
Festival tickets
Double check best Instagram filter
Avoid thinking about work/Connor/five year plan!!
A four day break from her hectic life to relax in the countryside and hang out at a local festival (for free!) is just what Fiona Delaney needs. With her best friends, great tunes and a cool looking hat her Instagram shots are going to look A-Mazing!
Until suddenly glamping starts to feel a lot more like camping and Fiona’s in desperate search of a comfy chair, wi-fi and a chilled glass of wine. But when she finally makes it to the local pub she discovers this trip could be more than just a holiday, it might just change her life forever…
Five Go Glamping is out now, published by Carina.


Friday, 11 September 2015

Guest post by Anouska Knight

Today's guest on Books with Bunny is bestselling author Anouska Knight.  Her previous releases Since You've Been Gone and A Part of Me have received rave reviews, and her new release Letting You Go looks to hit the same dizzy heights. 

Anouska's post introduces us to Alex, the protagonist in Letting You Go and explains why the author has a soft spot for her...

Alex Foster is not in a great place. She’s in her late twenties, trying to live her life in as small and inconspicuous a way as possible because she doesn’t feel that she deserves any of the opportunities denied to her younger brother, Dill.

Dill’s accident happened on Alex’s watch and there is absolutely nothing Alex can ever do to change the consequences of that one, brief lapse in concentration. Alex’s case isn’t helped by the fact that instead of watching Dill, Alex had been preoccupied in the bushes with her boyfriend at the time, Finn. As a result, there’s nothing Alex can ever do to repair the damage done to her relationship with her father, a man who has seemingly done his best to keep Alex at arm’s length from her old life.

I really felt for Alex when writing Letting You Go, I think mainly because she is so identifiable. She’s just a nice, decent girl who made an easy mistake as a seventeen year old that, for all the wishing in the world, she can’t ever take back. A decade on, Alex is carrying her guilt around with her because that’s all she can do to pay penance somehow.

Keeping a low profile living hundreds of miles away was going okay for Alex, sort of. But when her mother falls ill Alex has to face up to her father again, the town she left behind and the old ghosts she simply can’t hide from any more.

But Alex isn’t the only one with a past she’d do anything to change. In many ways, Alex’s preoccupation with her own inadequacies has blindsided her. She’s surrounded by secrets she never sensed were there before. Even her father and sister seem to be holding out on her.

Throughout the course of Alex’s journey, she learns that she doesn’t know all there is to know about the people around her, that she isn’t the only Foster who has inadvertently hurt the ones they love, and that there were other factors influencing the course of events that led up to Dill’s accident that day. That said, forgiving those individuals turns out to be far easier than forgiving herself.

Alex has to learn how to stand tall again. How to not shy away and hide from the love in her life, but to fight for it.

Letting You Go by Anouska Knight is out now (Mira, £7.99) .

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Waiting on Wednesday- A Merry Mistletoe Wedding- Judy Astley

It's been a while since I've read a Judy Astley book, but I love the look of this one!  Christmas and weddings are two of my favourite things, and combined it's enough to make my little heart whoop with joy.  I'm looking forward to reading this one closer to Christmas, but it's released on October 8th, published by Transworld.
The Blurb
It is almost a year since Sean and Thea met and it's been a roller-coaster ride: they're getting married on Christmas Day!

Neither Thea or Sean want a big fuss - a simple wedding, with Christmas lights and just a few sprigs of mistletoe for decoration is all they need. But before they know it, things begin to get complicated. Trying to manage a long-distance relationship in the build-up to their Christmas wedding is one thing, but as one challenge after another comes their way, the happy couple begin to wonder if they'll ever make it down the aisle . . .

With unforgettable characters, charming romance and lots of laughter, A Merry Mistletoe Wedding is a gorgeous Christmas read - perfect for fans of Carole Matthews, Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Milly Johnson.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Three-and-a-Half Heartbeats- Amanda Prowse * Forthcoming release raising funds for The UK Sepsis Trust*

Please, please take  the time to read this blog post.  Author Amanda Prowse is determined to raise awareness of Sepsis and funds for The UK Sepsis trust through her new release Three-and-a-Half Heartbeats.  Buying this book really could save lives.
Inline image 1“Someone I knew was tragically affected by sepsis. Her daughter died. When I looked at the figures, I knew I wanted to do something” - Amanda Prowse, bestselling novelist
Three-and-a-Half Heartbeats
By Amanda Prowse
Bestselling author of the critically acclaimed No Greater Love series
Published as an Ebook by Head of Zeus
on September 10th 2015 at £1.99
Praise for Amanda Prowse:
Captivating, heart-breaking and superbly written – Closer
Prowse handles her explosive subject with delicate skill... Deeply moving and inspiring – Daily Mail
Have tissues at the ready! – Bella                         Powerful and emotional – Heat
Someone dies from Sepsis every three and a half seconds.
Amanda Prowse is releasing this exclusive ebook to raise awareness and funds for The UK Sepsis Trust.
All proceeds for the book go to the UK Sepsis Trust. The target for ebook sales is £500,000.
Dr Ron Daniels, CEO of the UK Sepsis Trust and frontline NHS consultan: “Sepsis is a cruel and indiscriminate killer. Amanda’s kindness will have a transformative effect on our charity so that we can continue raising awareness amongst the public and medical profession.”
Three and a Half Heartbeats is about Grace and Tom Penderford. They are a normal loving married couple, with a comfortable home in Hertfordshire and a beautiful baby girl, Chloe. When Chloe is three years old she has to have her tonsils out.  It’s a fairly straight forward operation. When they get her home she’s shivering, she hasn’t peed all day and she’s very quiet. Her parents call the hospital: the nurse suggests they bring her in, if they’re really worried, but her parents don’t want to be melodramatic: it’s probably just a cold. No point wasting hospital time.
A few hours later Chloe collapses.
Also referred to as septicaemia, Sepsis is a deadly disease which, shockingly, very few people know about and even fewer know that it is a medical emergency.
AUTHORS:Prowse, Amanda:_Author photo&questionnaire:Prowse_AUTHOR PHOTO_final_credit Paul Smith Photography_250pxh.jpgAbout Amanda Prowse
Amanda Prowse is a bestselling novelist of several short stories and 10 books, including the Number 1 bestselling What Have I Done?  She has also been Writer in Residence on ITV’s This Morning and has an incredible 130K followers on Twitter. On Remembrance Day 2012 Amanda Prowse made headlines with her debut novel Poppy Day. She received widespread military support, celebrity endorsements and appeared in newspapers and on TV sofas everywhere. Amanda donated all her author royalties to the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. This was followed by 4 more novels Clover’s Child, What Have I Done, A Little Love and Will You Remember Me?  Her latest novels are A Mother’s Story and Perfect Daughter.
Amanda is married with two children. They live near Bristol.
Connect with Amanda on Twitter at @MrsAmandaProwse, on Facebook and YouTube and at
More Information about Sepsis
·        Sepsis is the current term for septicaemia, or blood poisoning. When the body starts to fight an infection it can trigger the immune system to go into overdrive, damaging the body’s own tissues and organs. Untreated, sepsis leads to multiple organ failure and death.
·        If diagnosed and treated in the first hour following presentation with sepsis, the patient has more than an 80% survival rate. After the sixth hour, the patient only has a 30% survival rate.
·        In the UK, it’s estimated that we see 102,000 cases of severe sepsis every year, with a staggering 37,000 deaths. In comparison, breast cancer claims over 12,000 lives each year. 
·        Sepsis is one of the biggest direct causes of death in pregnancy in the UK.
·        It consumes over a third of our most expensive hospital beds in Intensive Care and costs the NHS around £2.5 billion a year.
·        UKST public awareness poll 2014: 40% of the public had heard the word ‘sepsis’ and of those only 40% knew it was a medical emergency.
·        Global figures: In the developing world, sepsis kills more than 6 million neonates and children yearly. Every hour, about 40 people die from sepsis worldwide.
·        Symptoms of sepsis include a rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, a change in behaviour (confusion, drowsiness or slurring words – patients can appear ‘drunk’), hypothermia, diarrhorea, changes in skin colour, sore throats and flu-like symptoms.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

We Were Liars- E. Lockhart

The Blurb

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

The Review

This time last year EVERYONE seemed to be reading this book.  I bought We Were Liars even though I knew nothing about it- because there was such a massive buzz all over my twitter timeline I felt I needed a copy.  And now I've finally read it I'm excited to share my thoughts.

Cadence, Johnny, Mirren and Gat are the four 'liars' of the title, family members that meet up each summer on Grandpa Sinclair's island.  They are exceptionally tightknit despite their mothers (who are siblings) squabbling over who'll get the family wealth.  Whilst the adults are bickering, the liars are enjoying teen life, running amok in their blissfully protected world.

However, when Cadence sustains a head injury during 'Summer 15' (the year the liars are 15 years old) and loses her memory everything changes.  Suddenly she's surrounded by secrets with no idea why, despite her pleas, everyone is hiding the truth.  I found Cadence an interesting character and wanted to dig deeper into her troubled mind.  Although she's the narrator, I still didn't feel I knew her that well by the end of the book and I wish I could have.  In some ways we learn more about Johnny, Mirren and Gat than we do about Cadence.

Much has been made of the 'twist', but I'd managed to avoid details of it before reading.  Whilst I didn't see it coming I wasn't surprised...and that's all I'm going to say because I don't do spoilers!

The biggest strength of this book was the gorgeous writing.  I absolutely loved E. Lockhart's writing style.  It was brisk, it was brusque and it was beautiful, and during the gentle lulls in the plot that's what kept me reading. 

If this is an indication of her other works I'm excited to read more!

We Were Liars is out now, published by Hot Key Books.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Suite Scarlett- Maureen Johnson HOT KEY BOOKS WEEK

The Blurb

If living in a famous art deco hotel minutes away from Central Park sounds like your idea of a pretty sweet deal - you should talk to Scarlett Martin. Having a hotel for a home really isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when you've got no guests, no money and no prospects for any fun thanks to your parents putting you to work all summer. Luckily for Scarlett, the Hopewell is about to be shaken to its foundations with the arrival of Mrs Amberson, a glamorous travelling socialite who's planning on putting down some roots for a while - and hiring Scarlett as her assistant. With a new job, new friends, and (maybe) a new boyfriend on the horizon, Scarlett's summer is beginning to look a lot more interesting...

The Review

Birthday girl Scarlett Martin is a fifteen year old girl like any other- except that her and her family own a hotel in the centre of Manhattan.  As the business is flailing the siblings are expected to pull their weight and contribute to the running of the hotel, and alongside her paltry birthday presents she's handed responsibility for the swankiest suite in the hotel.

When the glamorous yet ditzy Mrs Amberson turns up looking to live in the hotel for an extended period the Martin's seize the opportunity.  An income!  And as she's staying in Scarlett's suite, Scarlett is expected to fulfil her every desire which has some outlandish consequences.

However, I feel the family relationships were the most interesting aspect of this book.  As I only have one sibling who's 11 years older than me, I'm always drawn to books about larger sibling groups.  In Suite Scarlett there's Spencer (budding thespian, and at some points it feels like this book revolves around this subplot), Lola (who has a rich boyfriend Spencer hates) and Marlene (the baby of the family who gets away with murder because she's been ill).  Then of course there's Scarlett, and although they all rub each other up the wrong way there's an obvious bond between them all deep down. 

Overall this book is fun with a cute (yet not quite believable) romance for Scarlett in her brother Spencer's new acting buddy Eric, some madcap scenes where Mrs Amberson takes matters into her own hands and a realistic portrayal of the issues between families, but I'd say Suite Scarlett has less crossover appeal than some other YA books out there.  If I'd read this in my mid-teens I'd probably have liked it a lot more, but I'm only able to give this a middling review as it didn't blow me away, and I'm unsure as to whether I'll realistically read the rest of the series.

Suite Scarlett is out now, published by Hot Key Books.

With thanks to Hot Key Books for providing me with a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion. 

The Big Lie - Julie Mayhew HOT KEY BOOKS WEEK

The Blurb

A shocking story of rebellion and revelation set in a contemporary Nazi England.

Jessika Keller is a good girl: she obeys her father, does her best to impress Herr Fisher at the Bund Deutscher Mädel meetings and is set to be a world champion ice skater. Her neighbour Clementine is not so submissive. Outspoken and radical, Clem is delectably dangerous and rebellious. And the regime has noticed. Jess cannot keep both her perfect life and her dearest friend. But which can she live without?

THE BIG LIE is a thought-provoking and beautifully told story that explores ideas of loyalty, sexuality and protest.

The Review

I don't quite know where to start with this review because the premise of The Big Lie completely bowled me over and knocked me out.  I can honestly say it's a fresh concept and one which is perfect for the current YA market which is bursting with diverse and challenging books.

Set in an England that lost the second world war and lives under Nazi rule, The Big Lie explores big themes in every sense.

Jessika, the protagonist, is a stickler for the rules.  Keen to impress her father who is a respectable member of the community, she lives a life constrained by fear- of contaminated music, of her sexuality, of how she is perceived.  She throws herself into ice skating, yet deep down she's battling her sexual feelings towards her best friend.

Clementine couldn't be more different from Jessika.  As a political radical who rebels against the propaganda-fuelled society, she looks to be controversial and open the eyes of the passive followers.  Clementine was a far more exciting and engaging character than Jessika- I admired her gumption and how she was prepared to make sacrifices for her beliefs. 

The Big Lie is a dark and uncomfortable read and I think many readers will get a knot in their stomach as they read- I certainly did.  In much the same way as Louise O' Neill's Only Ever Yours, the power lies in how real the situations in this book could be/have been.  It's thought provoking stuff.

The biggest disappointment for me was the ending. As I was reading it I could feel myself getting frustrated and I wanted more of Jessika's story to wrap everything up neatly.  However, on reflection Julie Mayhew's actually been very clever with it and I've been left with questions about what happened next.  I'm torn between admiration and annoyance over it! 

Overall, this incredibly powerful read had me considering how different life could be in modern day Britain.  Whilst I didn't love it, I've certainly never read anything else like it.

I predict awards for Julie Mayhew on the back of this one!

The Big Lie is out now, published by Hot Key Books.

With thanks to Hot Key Books for providing me with a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Counting Stars- Keris Stainton HOT KEY BOOKS WEEK

The Blurb

A new life in a new city - would could possibly go wrong . . . ?

When eighteen-year-old Anna leaves school and moves to Liverpool, she feels like her life is finally beginning. She's landed her dream job at a theatre, and she's moving into an exciting (if not slightly run-down) houseshare on a buzzing street lined with shops, bars, and buskers. Best of all, her new flatmates are kind, welcoming and a lot of fun - what more could she ask for?

But her new life is also a little overwhelming. Anna's job quickly falls through, and then she realises that although her new friends are great, they're also a little mixed-up... and it's not long before Anna starts using her blog to talk about her experiences, from the hilarious to the ridiculous to the little-bit-scary. But when Anna spills a bigger secret than she can handle, suddenly the consequences are all too real. She'll have to prove she has the mettle to make it in the big city, or risk losing everything she thinks she wants.

The Review

I can't get enough of books about tight-knit friendship groups at the moment and newfound friendship is the basis for Counting Stars.  Anna excitedly leaves home to start afresh in Liverpool, and quickly settles into life in a shared house in the city centre.  Her housemates are her new best friends and she's open and honest with them about so many things- the fact the job she moved to Liverpool for has fallen through, that she's not used to drinking, that she's a virgin... but she doesn't mention her online alterego as vlogger Anna Sparks. As time goes on it seems harder to share this secret, but Anna can't stop vlogging, it's s deeply ingrained in her life. 

I thought the characters in this one were brilliant; all likable and believable for their age group.  Sean, who's hung up on a boy called Charlie who doesn't know he exists. Alfie, the sensible and sensitive one who knows he doesn't want to follow in his father's footsteps as a moneygrabbing businessman.  Molly, who's unreliable and flighty and lives in the moment without fear for the consequences. And finally Nina, who's dropped out of performing arts college and is chambermaiding at a hotel, although her and bootycall Jack find themselves on the job rather than doing their job pretty regularly.  Each bring something different to the book and they all have their own storylines and subplots, which I felt added depth to the book. 

There was always something happening which ensured there was never a dull moment, and as soon as one situation was resolved another challenge was laid down for the characters to overcome.  This did mean some parts felt a little bit hurried and I'd have gladly found out even more about the characters and their life and had a book double the length!  I was talking to my friend Laura at Blabbering About Books who said she'd have loved this to be a series, and I can understand what she means as it's so moreish and there's so much contained in the plot and subplots.  Ultimately, I think we both just longed for more!

This book took me back to the heady days soon after leaving home where freedom is both liberating and downright scary.  It's a challenging time and Counting Stars portrays that perfectly.  I can't say how much I loved it and I'm so glad I got my copy signed at YALC (you can read about that, and my meeting Keris here) as it's a definite 'keeper' for me.

Keris Stainton has come up trumps again!

Counting Stars is out today, published by Hot Key Books.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Waiting on Wednesday- Lily and the Christmas Wish- Keris Stainton

As it's Hot Key Books week on my blog, I had to choose one of their upcoming releases as my Waiting on Wednesday!  I love Christmassy books and Lily and the Christmas Wish looks like the perfect heart-warming seasonal read.

The Blurb

When a town's Christmas wishes get mixed-up, can one little girl and her dog put them right? The little town of Beechwood can't wait for Christmas this year. They're going to celebrate by putting up a giant Christmas tree in the town square, and asking all the townspeople to hang a Christmas wish on its branches. Everyone is feeling very festive - everyone except for nine-year-old Lily. She's only got one thing she wants for Christmas this year, and she's not sure it can ever come true. But she's determined to try - and so when she sees a shooting star just as she hangs her wish, she wishes as hard as she possibly can...and wakes up the next morning to a bit of a surprise. Bug, her adorable pug puppy, can talk! It's magic - and a wish come true! But it's not Lily's wish...Lily and her little brother James soon discover that something happened last night at the wishing tree - the wishes have been granted, but to the wrong people! They'll have to work out which wish belongs to who, and sort everything out before Christmas Day - otherwise no one will get what they want for Christmas.

Lily and the Christmas Wish is released on November 5th, published by Hot Key Books.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Monkey's Secret- Gennifer Choldenko HOT KEY BOOKS WEEK

The Blurb

In a segregated town, a hidden boy, a courageous girl - and a mystery in desperate need of solving. San Francisco, 1900. Thirteen-year-old Lizzy Kennedy is not like the other girls in her town. She'd much rather be helping her doctor father with his patients than be stuck in frilly dresses and learn how to dance - but unfortunately for her, society (and her Aunt Hortense) has other ideas about what is 'proper' for a young lady. This includes not poking your nose in other's people's business - but then Jing, their beloved housekeeper, gets stuck in the Chinatown quarantine. Fear rules San Francisco - fear of the Chinese, and mostly fear of the plague rumours that circle them. Lizzie knows she has to help Jing, whatever the warnings. But what she doesn't expect to find is a strange boy hiding in Jing's room. The boy is called Noah. He says he's Jing's son - although Lizzie's never heard of him - and although he's escaped the quarantine, he can't risk leaving the house in case he gets rounded-up too. Lizzie wants to investigate, but it seems her questions only get people riled up. Is there really plague in San Francisco? What have the Chinese got to do with it? Just what or who is the mysterious 'monkey' - and what has his secret got to do with anything? Lizzie will have to use all of her courage, instinct and cleverness to unravel the mystery of the monkey's secret, save Jing, Noah and Chinatown - and maybe even her change her own destiny.

The Review

I've not read Gennifer Choldenko's previous books, and The Monkey's Secret is quite different to my usual choice of reading material.  However, I was drawn in by the bright cover art and when I realised it was set in San Francisco I knew I wanted to give it a whirl (it's one of the destinations I'm heading to on my trip to America later in the year).

The Monkey's Secret is a fictional story based around actual events in San Francisco at the turn of the twentieth century.  Doctor's daughter Lizzy overhears an adult conversation which appears to be spoken in code- why is everyone talking about a monkey?  After much digging, she discovers rumours that the plague is rife in the Chinatown region of the city and takes it upon herself to find out more. 

Lizzy is a wonderful character- brave, clever and sharp as a tack.  She's determined and strong and refuses to let adults keep her in the dark.  Her tenacity is admirable and I am so pleased this book had a great female protagonist, particularly as it's set in the past.  Aunt Hortense was a formidable woman too, I could imagine her throwing the most withering of looks to those who dared to do anything she disagreed with.  This book will definitely appeal to the feminist reader due to the ballsy portrayal of the female characters.

There were times the pace was a bit slow for my taste, but I was interested enough in the story to keep turning the pages.  It was appealing to read a book set in a different time and place and the imagery Choldenko portrays, particularly within Chinatown, is magnificent.  The sense of mystery really comes across and whilst I was cheering Lizzy on, willing her to obtain the information she desperately longs for, I had my heart in my mouth at the end of the story.  There are a few chilling moments, that's for sure.

At the end of the book there's a timeline showing the actual dates of the events that inspired Choldenko and I definitely learnt a lot from this - I never even knew San Francisco had been affected by the plague. 

If you're looking for a unique mystery with a feisty female lead, The Monkey's Secret is well worth a look.

The Monkey's Secret is out now, published by Hot Key Books.

With thanks to Hot Key Books who provided me with a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.