Friday, 26 June 2015

J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan- adapted by Stref with Fin Cramb



The Blurb

Peter Pan is a familiar tale to many who have been enchanted by the adventures of the boy who wouldn't grow up. In this graphic novel Stephen White goes back to the very heart of Barrie's original tale to create a story that is dark, magical, charming and authentic. The complexity of Barrie's original is drawn out in vibrant illustrations and engaging text to create a new vision of the tale for those familiar with it and to enchant a new generation of readers.

The stunning illustrations draw on original, authentic features from the locations that inspired Barrie to write his tale including Moat Brae House in Dumfries and the garden where he played as a boy. In choosing the format of a graphic novel for this retelling, Stephen White has created a new and exciting version of Peter Pan that is like nothing that has been done before.

The Review

Before I start this review I feel I need to make something very clear.  I don't read a lot of graphic novels.  I've never really sought them out, and although I've loved Raymond Briggs' Ethel and Ernest and When The Wind Blows, and revisited one of my childhood favourites Tintin, I've not felt there was much out there in the graphic novel market that would appeal to me. 

However, when I heard Birlinn were releasing a new version of Peter Pan in graphic novel format I was excited.  So long as it's done well, I love seeing books given a new lease of life and the opportunity to reach a wider audience.  And Peter Pan certainly lends itself to a more visual approach to storytelling.

I really enjoyed the hour or so I spent reading this!  It felt strange holding such a large book but the A4 size pages allow the beautiful illustrations the space they deserve.  Everything from their intricate detail to the vibrant spread of colour- this book is a feast for the eyes to behold. The image of the crocodile waiting open-mouthed for the villainous Hook was my favourite, but the Darling's house is also portrayed exactly as it should be- wonderfully classical yet somehow with an air of eccentricity.

This is a fabulous adaptation, the exquisite artwork only serving to add to Barrie's timeless classic. I sincerely hope it gets the praise and plaudits it deserves. 

And who knows, maybe I'll be more likely to consider graphic novels in the future on the back of reading this book.

J.M Barrie's Peter Pan is out now, published by Birlinn.

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

 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

A Kiss in the Dark- Lisa Fox

The Blurb

A bad boy can make a girl feel so good.

Grace’s attraction to her new web designer, amateur boxer and all-around playboy, Ryan Granger, is off the charts. But the bad boy of programming is not someone she needs to get entangled with. She’s got too many responsibilities and no time for games. She has deadlines to meet and a sick father to care for. Ryan is tempting, but being with him is completely unrealistic. Still, a girl can fantasize, right?

Ryan wants Grace badly, but while he’s building her website, they have to keep things strictly professional. Thankfully, walking her home during a city-wide blackout is on his own time and whatever happens in the dark doesn’t count. He’s falling hard for Grace and he is a man used to winning. The only problem is, he’s got to convince her that he’s worthy of her trust.

The Review

This was my first Lisa Fox book, although I've had her previous two releases One Kiss and Her Perfect Lips on my kindle for a while now.  It's nothing personal why I haven't read them, I've just been so snowed under with review copies that I've not had chance to read many of my own purchases lately.  However, after reading A Kiss in the Dark I don't think they'll be languishing in my 'Books to read' folder for much longer!

So, what did I like about this one?

Firstly, I was glad to read a novella.  Sometimes life gets a bit hectic, and at times like that shorter reads are my go-to.  This past week was busy for me as I was away at my best friend's wedding, plus the summer is always busy at my day job with end of year records to be produced and new children visiting the pre-school, but I get restless if I've not got a book on the go.  To be able to pick up a story which gets going straight away and carries on at a fast pace is perfect for me for this time of year.  Lisa Fox did this brilliantly, so that's one massive tick to start off with!

I'll admit, I wasn't sure the plot was going to be my sort of thing.  Whilst I've read and enjoyed books with an alpha male 'hero', I'm more naturally drawn to the geeks and misfits.  From the blurb, Ryan sounded like a bit of a lad.  Could I care enough about him to want to find out what happens between him and Grace? 

I needn't have worried, because although boxer Ryan has a playboy past, we're shown how Grace softens him.  I loved the practical ways he showed her how much he cared- a real reminder that romance can be walking someone home or being there for them when things get tough.  It was the everyday gestures rather than the hearts and flowers which made him appeal to me.  That's not to say he's perfect, because there were times where his laddish ways made me want to scream!  But I did develop a soft spot for him, despite his flaws.

Grace is a writer who struggles to find time to complete her novel around family commitments (I think all writers can empathise with that!) .  She comes across as very 'normal', and almost dull in her regimented lifestyle.  As more is revealed about the nature of her fathers illness I began to see why she behaved as she did, and could see the struggles between her commitment to her Dad and her longing to get to know Ryan better.

I loved how the protagonist in Grace's own novel gained a love interest based on Ryan! In fact, I'd quite like to read that book myself, after all, mystery + romance = intrigue!  Possible spin off, Lisa Fox?!

Overall, I thought A Kiss in the Dark worked well as a short, snappy romantic fix.  If you're looking for a holiday read for when you're lazing in the sun, or something to keep you entertained when the kids are at the soft play centre over the six week holidays, this could be just what you're looking for.  My only complaint is that I want to know what happens next!  More!

A Kiss in the Dark is out now, published by HarperImpulse.

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

You can also read my recent Q and A with Lisa Fox here.


#HIReadathon is coming!  Find out more here.


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Waiting on Wednesday- Asking for It- Louise O'Neill

My choice for Waiting on Wednesday this week is Louise O'Neill's Asking For It.  Just reading the blurb gives me chills!  It's released on September 3rd, published by Quercus Children's.
 
The Blurb

It's the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O'Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident.

One night, there's a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can't remember what happened, she doesn't know how she got there.

She doesn't know why she's in pain.

But everyone else does. Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night.

But sometimes people don't want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town's heroes...

Return to Bluebell Hill- Rebecca Pugh

 
The Blurb
 
As sweet and satisfying as strawberries and cream! This British summertime, get out in the garden with Rebecca Pugh’s sparkling debut novel.
 
Home is where the heart is…  Jessica McAdams has never belonged anywhere; never truly felt at home. Of course, what did she expect from parents who never made her feel welcome in her own house? Leaving her life in London to return home to the charming country village of Bluebell Hill is harder than she thought. Especially as she never considered she’d be returning under such heart wrenching circumstances…

Clearing out the stunning and imposing Bluebell House after her parents’ death is difficult for Jessica—they never had the best relationship and now it’s too late. Yet spending time in the house that was never a home, having afternoon tea with dear old friend Esme—and sharing hot, sizzling kisses with delectable gardener Rueben!—opens Jessica’s eyes to the potential of Bluebell House… Could this big old, beautiful manor really be her forever home? Is Bluebell Hill where her heart is, has always been?

Jessica soon dares to dream of her very own home with delicious Rueben by her side. But when a deep, dark secret of Bluebell House is unearthed, Jessica’s world is turned upside down…

Will Jessica ever find where her heart truly lies?

An emotional tale of self-discovery, taking chances and romance! Rebecca’s unique British voice feels like coming home again and again.


The Review

Return to Bluebell Hill was one of my most highly anticipated reads of the summer.  I know Rebecca through the book blogging community and we started submitting our writing to publishers at the same time, sharing the stress of the nail-biting period where you press refresh on your email every two minutes. So to be able to review her debut and be part of her blog tour is absolutely fantastic- she's proof that with hard work and determination dreams can come true!

Return to Bluebell Hill is a romantic and mysterious tale based around protagonist Jessica's sudden return to the sleepy village she grew up in.  She arrives back full of doubt and uncertainty after the sudden death of her parents, and as the story develops it's apparent that life as she knows it is about to change forever.  Firstly, there's Rueben, the attractive gardener who's caught her eye, but there's something else too- as she clears out her family home Bluebell House ready for putting on the market she uncovers secrets beyond anything she could have believed possible...

I really liked Jessica and felt for her situation. To go back to somewhere that holds bad memories takes guts, especially without any family for support.  That's why I was glad she had strong relationships with her friends such as Sarah and Esme, and I found the scenes where she opened up to those closest to her were cosy and comforting to read. 

Personally, I preferred the storyline with the air of mystery to that of the romance, especially in the first half of the book- the secrets had me turning the page as I desperately wanted to find out more!  In fact, I'd love Rebecca to go down that route and write something laden with suspense and intrigue as those weighty scenes were fabulous- I wolfed them down like they were a box of Tunnock's teacakes! It wasn't that I wasn't interested in Rueben and Jessica's relationship, more that I was greedily trying to get back to the thread that had so grabbed my attention.

The descriptions, particularly of Bluebell House and Bluebell Hill appealed to my daydreamy nature, and I was delighted how the way they were described in the novel perfectly matched the images in my imagination.  I want a house like Bluebell House with a wraparound porch and woods all around it for romance and naughtiness...what a gorgeous location creation.


Rebecca Pugh


Overall, Return to Bluebell Hill is a well-worked blend of romance and suspense which had me longing for the valleys of my own home town. It's already storming in the rankings and I sincerely hope it continues to ride high- there's nothing like seeing a debut author grow in popularity! 

An easy-to-read summer treat which makes me curious as to which direction Rebecca will take with her follow up novel, Rebecca's writing may appeal to fans of authors such as Katie Fforde and Giovanna Fletcher.

Return to Bluebell Hill is out now, published by Carina UK.

With thanks to the publisher who provided me with a copy of this book in return for my thoughts.


Monday, 22 June 2015

Writing a reading for My Best Friend's Wedding

This weekend was the wedding of my oldest friend to her partner of 10.5 years.  Emotional enough, without being asked to not just read, but also write a reading!

I blogged about it on my author blog here.

With my best friend Jen on her wedding day.
 

Saturday, 20 June 2015

We Are All Made of Stars- Rowan Coleman



The Blurb

Do not miss me, because I will always be with you…I am the air, the moon, the stars. For we are all made of stars, my beloved... Wherever you look, I will be there.

Stella Carey exists in a world of night. Married to a soldier who has returned from Afghanistan injured in body and mind, she leaves the house every evening as Vincent locks himself away, along with the secrets he brought home from the war.

During her nursing shifts, Stella writes letters for her patients to their loved ones - some full of humour, love and practical advice, others steeped in regret or pain – and promises to post these messages after their deaths.

Until one night Stella writes the letter that could give her patient one last chance at redemption, if she delivers it in time…

The Review

Told through scenes from multiple viewpoints and a series of letters, We Are All Made of Stars is a wonderfully evocative novel about life and love.  Rowan Coleman has an incredible talent for writing books which cover all bases- humour, romance, drama, emotion- and her latest release continues in this vein.

Stella, the nurse who writes letters for terminally ill patients, was such an endearing character, I couldn't help but warm to her.  She has this sharp perception when it comes to other people's lives, yet in her own she's almost plodding along and unable to make the changes she longs for in order to reignite her marriage. 

Through the letters Stella writes, often revealing her patients innermost thoughts and secrets, the plot of the novel slowly becomes clear, the links between the characters more apparent and the story unfolds.  That sounds a bit woolly, I know, but I don't want to spoil the beauty of this book for anyone who might be thinking about reading it!  What I will say is that We Are All Made of Stars made me want to reach out and hug everyone I love, to let them know just how much they mean to me. 

Whilst the story itself is touching, it's the letters that make this book.  Letters where parents open up to their children, where lovers share their emotions, where apologies are made for the mistakes of the past.  They are somehow both tender and hard-hitting, and that's why I sobbed uncontrollably as I read this book.  They are everything you want to say to the people you value, and everything you hope you will know when those you love die.  These letters blew my mind.

We Are All Made of Stars is an incredibly uplifting read, despite the sensitive themes.  Much like The Memory Book, this will stay with me long after the final page, and that to me is the sign of a very special novel, and a very special author.  Rowan Coleman- you little star.



Friday, 19 June 2015

Ann Troup talks about the inspirations behind The Lost Child

I'm pleased to be able to welcome author Ann Troup to Books with Bunny today! I've noticed her recent release The Lost Child catching the eye of bloggers and couldn't wait to find out a bit more about what inspired the story.

 
Over to Ann...

First of all I’d like to thank Kate for inviting me onto her blog today, it’s always such a privilege to be asked to talk all things books.

So, I thought I would let you in on a few of the ‘true’ stories that inspired some of the scenes in The Lost Child.

In chapter one we are introduced to Elaine, who has an accident with her mother’s ashes and inadvertently allows them to blow into the face of unsuspecting teenager, Brodie. This incident is based on something that did indeed happen to me. Some years ago my lovely mother in law died and as she had loved the countryside my husband, his uncle and aunt and I decided that we would scatter her ashes in her favourite spot.  Off we went up into the Quantock hills with Phil resting peacefully in her urn. Once a suitable spot had been selected my husband, with great ceremony and gravity, began to scatter her ashes – it was a lovely moment, very solemn and dignified. Until the wind got up…within moments I was covered from head to foot with the remains of my mother in law. She was everywhere, billowing around like a sandstorm and landing wherever she could. She was a lovely woman, liked to laugh and was always a free spirit and very sociable. However I’m not sure that she ever anticipated that she would end up being carried around in my coat pockets! I can only imagine how much of my mother in law found their way all over Somerset and Devon, but she would have loved the experience and would have found the whole thing hilarious. I still have that coat, and still suspect bits of her remain, suffice it to say it’s not a garment that I wear anymore…

Hallow’s End doesn’t exist in real life, however Meadowfoot and Hallow’s Cottage do, though I have changed the names. I was lucky enough to come from a large family and as a child still had a few Great Aunts still with me. Two of these had been ‘in service’ for all of their working lives, both with the same family in a small stately home near to the town where I grew up. Aunt Alice was a housekeeper and retired to a nice, modern little bungalow, but Aunty Babs retired to the most beautiful little cottage. I spent many a happy hour in that cottage and it’s abundant garden. Those memories were the model for the two cottages which feature in The Lost Child, and I am sure there are elements of Aunty Babs in Miriam’s kindly character. Aunt Alice however was not the model for Esther – Alice was equally terrifying, but nowhere near as mean.

Finally the setting of Hallow’s Court is very real though again the name has been changed. Some years ago I was fortunate enough to work for an organisation that was based in an old stately home. The owner had rented it out for years, and at one time it had been used as a school. Not many people get the chance to roam freely in a house that has 138 rooms and which is a real slice of history. Whilst I was there I would frequently get lost just trying to find my way back from the cavernous kitchens. On one occasion, when staying overnight I took the wrong staircase and ended up in the cellars – let’s just say it was quite an experience and I have rarely been so scared in my life! It took me two hours to find my way out and I was glad to never make the same mistake again. My favourite parts of the house were the roof tops, only the Georgians and the Victorians could have made such a mundane part of a building such exciting terrain. On quiet days, I would take my lunch up there and sit amongst the chimney pots indulging my childhood memories of Mary Poppins and The Water babies. They don’t build houses like that anymore, and I’m not surprised – the heating bill alone was in excess of £30,000 a year. But it was bliss, and an experience I will always treasure.


The Lost Child is out now, published by Carina.

 
 
Ann Troup author bio
Ann lives in Devon in a small house just a pebble’s throw from the beach. She shares her home with her husband and a small white dog, both occasionally allow her to be inattentive to them so that she can write. Her many skills include an unparalleled ability to consume coffee and the gift of being able to kill houseplants by merely admiring them. In addition to that she is a great proponent of the Miss Havisham method of housekeeping, which includes regarding cobwebs and dust as nature’s ornaments.  
BWB adds- Ann forgets to mention that she has an extraordinary talent in paper crafting.  You can enter to win one of her creations, a gorgeous scene from Pride and Prejudice presented in a globe (with working lamp light!) here.
 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Lisa Fox- the Kiss Questionnaire!

Today I'm joined by author Lisa Fox who's kindly agreed to answer some of my questions.  As her new novella A Kiss in the Dark releases today, the questions are all kiss related!



A huge welcome to you, Lisa! Your HarperImpulse novellas all have a 'kiss' theme- what inspired you to use this idea?
It actually all started with One Kiss, my first book with Harper Impulse. That story takes place on New Year’s Eve, and we all know how important that midnight kiss is! I thought it would be really fun to base a series around having all the characters share their first kiss at midnight and then having that kiss be the significant turning point in their relationships. Of course, all the stories couldn’t all take place on New Year’s Eve, so I’ve had to come up with interesting ways and means for their kisses to occur at midnight. It’s been a lot of fun!

Tell us a little bit about your newest release, A Kiss in the Dark.
It features Ryan Granger, an amateur boxer and web designer, and Grace Betancourt, a cozy mystery writer. They meet when Grace hires Ryan to create her a new website. He’s bad boy, and she is a nice girl, and they are instantly attracted to one another. I think they have a lot of really good and very sweet chemistry, and I loved writing about them.                                               

Do you remember your first kiss?
Of course! Doesn’t everyone? It was at my junior high’s spring dance, in a darkened corner of the very romantic cray paper filled gymnasium. He was a boy I had known since the fifth grade, and I wish I could say it was love, but it was really more like an exploratory mission—for science! Lol! Still, it was nice, and it will always be a wonderful memory.

What's our favourite kiss in literary/film history?
My favorite kiss isn’t even a proper kiss. It’s the almost-kiss of Mulder and Scully in the first X-Files movie. God, I loved them so much! The X-Files was my very first real fangirling experience. When they almost kissed, I almost died!

What's your favourite song with the word 'kiss' in the title?
I’m not all that into ‘romantic’ music, so I’d have to go with Kiss Me Deadly by Lita Ford. Lol!

And finally, kisses or cuddles?
I’m not overly fond of the word ‘or.’ I much prefer AND.
 
Thank you so much for having me over, Kate!

Many thanks to Lisa Fox for joining me. A Kiss in the Dark is available to buy in ebook format right now, published by HarperImpulse.

My review of A Kiss in the Dark will be published here on Books with Bunny next week!

 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Waiting on Wednesday- Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm by Rebecca Raisin

This week, my Waiting on Wednesday book is by one of my favourite contemporary romance authors, Rebecca Raisin.  I've read all her previous releases and loved them, and her summer 2015 release sounds like another book to snuggle down with and get totally lost in! 
 
 
The Blurb
 
Maple sugar kisses
 
Clay’s inheritance of Maple Syrup Farm came at the perfect time. Leaving city life behind he headed for maple-tree surrounded Ashford, Connecticut. Getting the farm in working order again might be back breaking work – but it seems to be the only way for Clay to finally forget about the girl who once broke his heart… Lucy’s had enough of rules and the stress of planning her life down to the very last detail. Looking for an adventure she stumbles upon Maple Syrup Farm and its gorgeously gruff owner. This could be the perfect place to hide out…! But the tranquillity and warmth of Maple Syrup Farm is enough to heal even the most battered of hearts. There are very few problems in life that can’t be cheered up by maple syrup! The new standalone novel from bestselling author of the Gingerbread Cafe trilogy and The Bookshop on the Corner, Rebecca Raisin.

Don't miss a single book in the Once in a Lifetime collection: The Gingerbread Cafe Trilogy:Book 1 - Christmas at the Gingerbread CafeBook 2 - Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread CafeBook 3 - Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread CafeThe Bookshop seriesBook 1 - The Bookshop on the CornerBook 2 - The Little Bookshop on the Seine (coming October 2015)

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm is available in ebook format from July 17th, published by Carina.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Raine English sharing an excerpt from Second Chance Bride, part of the Magical Weddings collection

Today's guest is Raine English, here to talk about Second Chance Bride, her new release which is published today as part of the Magical Weddings collection.



Happy publication day to Raine and all the authors involved in this release!

*

Thanks for inviting me here today to talk about my new release, SECOND CHANCE BRIDE. I love summer weddings, so it’s no coincidence that the heroine in my new book is planning one. However, fate steps in when a telepathic rescue dog convinces her she’s marrying the wrong man and leads her to Mr. Right.

Here’s a short excerpt from SECOND CHANCE BRIDE:

Kya walked him to the door. After he left, she went back into the kitchen and took her dinner out of the refrigerator. She’d begun to eat the rest of it when Lucky, who was sitting at her feet, scratched at her leg with his paw.

I can’t believe you’re going to marry that jerk.

She dropped her fork, and it hit the plate with a clatter. “What’s wrong with me? Am I losing my mind?”

There’s nothing wrong with you, except that you’re marrying the wrong guy.

She stared into the dog’s deep brown eyes. “Then why do I think you’re talking to me?”

Because I am.

“But that’s not possible. Maybe I put too much wasabi in my soy sauce, and I’m hallucinating.”

You know that’s not it. We really are having a conversation. Okay, my part might only be in your head, but it’s still real.

She shook her head as if that would make the voice she was hearing go away. “This is crazy. Just crazy, and it can’t really be happening.”

I’ll prove it to you. Ask me a question.


SECOND CHANCE BRIDE is part of the MAGICAL WEDDINGS box set on sale now for a limited time for only $0.99/£0.99.

 
 
15 Romances by USA Today and National Bestselling Authors

--All stand-alone stories (no cliffhangers)
--Includes 14 New Releases written expressly for this set!
--Limited time (get your copy now)
--Over 97% off retail for the individual books once they become available separately!


Whether real or only in the hearts of the bride and groom, the magic of weddings is undeniable. And irresistible! As these 15 enchanting happily-ever-afters by bestselling and award-winning authors prove.

From sweet to spicy, the romances bundled into this set cross time and unite hearts, cast spells of laughter, battle wedding jitters and fight back tears, while weaving love's hopeful magic throughout 1400 pages.

Her Wedding Wager by Leigh Michaels, National bestselling and Award-winning author. Unless Celia can marry a titled gentleman before Lady Stone's house party ends, she'll end up in an arranged marriage with her distant cousin Simon. It's Simon who's wagered she can't win the most important bet of her life, so why is he the only one who can hold her attention?

The Last Wedding at Drayhome (Breens Mist Witches) by Aileen Harkwood, author of paranormal and fantasy romance. Never underestimate the power of a witch and warlock in love who have nothing left to lose.

The Dress by Eve Devon. Two couples, 400 years apart. From a masquerade ball in Venice 1615 to a wedding in England 2015, can a dress laced with magic weave its spell through the fabric of time?

Second Chance Bride by Raine English, USA Today bestselling and Award-winning author. She thinks she's marrying the man of her dreams, until a telepathic rescue dog leads her to someone else... Will this bride-to-be say "I do" to the wrong man?

Two Hearts Surrendered by Tamara Ferguson, Bestselling and Award-winning author. After years of fighting their feelings, Kelly and Luke share a night of passion at her sister's wedding.  But will one night of enchantment be strong enough magic for Luke to surrender his heart to the woman he loves - once this military hero returns home as a disheartened wounded warrior?

Something Borrowed, Something Blue by Lynda Haviland. She has a wedding to crash--until love gets in the way!

Heart of the Secret (Witches of Lane County) by Jody A. Kessler, Bestselling and Award-winning author of new adult paranormal romance. A 500 year-old curse, a witch who will do anything to marry her one true love, and the heart of a secret that will either divide them or bring them together...forever.

The Jealous Love of a Scoundrel by Jane Lark, National bestselling author of Regency historical and new adult romance. How do you fight a calling that comes from your soul?

A Wedding Across the Winds of Time by Bess McBride, National bestselling author of time travel romance. Darius and Molly found each other Across the Winds of Time. Now, it's time for their wedding!

Kiss This by L.L. Muir, National bestselling and Award-winning author. You never expect the florist to catch the bouquet...

Caution is a Virtue by Jennifer Gilby Roberts, author of Regency romance and women's fiction. How much is too much to risk for love?

Loving Lindy by Jan Romes. In order to become the bank's new Vice President, Gunther Justin has to be "settled." With Lindy McPherson posing as his fiancé everything is set to go off without a hitch--until real feelings get in the way.

With this Kiss by Heather Thurmeier. Can a simple kiss under the Bridge of Sighs wield enough magic to reunite former lovers, or will what happens in Vegas simply stay in Vegas?

Real Magic by Elsa Winckler. She's the bridesmaid, he's a best man. Will the magical evening stay just that or will it turn out to be real after all?

The Wedding Guests (A Tassamara Short Story) by Sarah Wynde. When unexpected guests attend Akira and Zane's wedding, lives will change forever. But for better or for worse?


MAGICAL WEDDINGS: 15 ENGAGING ROMANCES is available at these retailers:

 

Author Bio: USA Today bestselling author RAINE ENGLISH writes sweet small-town contemporary romance, along with steamier paranormal and Gothic romantic suspense. She’s a Daphne du Maurier Award winner and a Golden Heart finalist. She lives in New England with her family and her French bulldog, Bailey.

You can find Raine English at www.RaineEnglish.com



 

Monday, 15 June 2015

Books with Bunny is two today!



I can't believe it's a whole year since I wrote my 'Books with Bunny is one today!' post.  That year went by far too quickly! 

At the risk of repeating that post word for word, thank you so much to everyone who's read my posts, shared them, chatted to me about books on twitter or facebook, sent me books to review, entered the giveaways, guested on Books with Bunny or invited me to guest on their blog- I love this community so much!

As a little birthday treat, I have some rafflecopter giveaways for you all!  Unfortunately, this time some are UK only, but there are a few for you overseas lovelies too (see each giveaway for details).

Best of luck!

A signed paperback copy of Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey (open internationally)



a Rafflecopter giveaway
With thanks to Iona Grey for donating this prize

This gorgeous and unique Pride and Prejudice scene handcrafted by author Ann Troup- with light up lamplight! (UK only)



a Rafflecopter giveaway
With thanks to Ann Troup for donating this prize

A Box of Bookish Booty- including new books, signed goodies and a few surprises! (UK only)

I'm not showing you the actual box or contents- it's a surprise!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Set of 3 cute notepads and a bookmark (open internationally)




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Colour Therapy colouring book and bookmark (UK only)

 
 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck everyone!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Forever- Judy Blume

The cover I remember from my youth

 
When YA author Keris Stainton mentioned a Judy Blume readalong, I knew I'd be jumping onto that bandwagon.  I've been a fan of Judy's for over twenty five years, and it's been a while since I've reread her books.  I recently pledged to reread it when I was interviewed for Jaffa Reads Too.  You could say it was perfect timing!

Forever is one of those books people talk about.  It's a book about sex for starters, and that always gets tongues wagging.  And a YA book about sex, that was first published in 1975?  That's pretty groundbreaking by anyone's standards.

The plot is simple.  Girl (Katherine) meets boy (Michael).  They fall in love.  They have sex.  They promise each other forever.  Life changes.  Suddenly forever seems a very long time...

I remembered so much of the book as I reread it- Jamie embroidering mushrooms onto jeans, the fondue party, Sharon and Ike smoking weed, Katherine's grandma sending her 'the package'... and of course, Ralph.  It was all so clear in my mind. I could even remember certain phrases word for word.  I don't think I could do that with some of the books I read in the last few weeks, but Forever, which I read over and over as a teen- it's somehow engrained in my mind.

The first time I read it I was thirteen, and an inexperienced thirteen at that.  I hadn't been kissed, let alone anything else, although I did know people in my year at school and the year above who were having sex.  I don't remember being shocked by the content though, even then- especially as Katherine and Michael are seventeen.  There was definitely an element of titillation though, and a wonder as to whether the sex scenes were accurate.  Reading this book as an adult is completely different to reading it as a teenager.

Things that struck me as I reread Forever-


The cover of the copy I now own
-I don't like Michael. I never did as a teen particularly, either.  I always felt he pressured Katherine and guilt tripped her when she didn't want to be intimate.  I still felt like that reading it now, but it made me more cross as an adult than it ever did in my teen years that as her boyfriend he felt he had the right to pressure her in that way.

-The sentences are generally short and simple, and the reading age is a lot younger than the content.  It's accessible, and can be read very quickly.  There's a lot of dialogue, but never much conversation.

-The fringe characters are really interesting, in many ways far more appealing than the protagonists.  They deserve their own books, Sybil and Artie in particular. I'd love to know what happened in their lives.

-It's about so much more than sex.  There's drugs, and teen pregnancy, and bereavement, and mental health issues.  For a book that's 178 pages, that's a lot to cover. 

-Judy Blume is so straightforward and to the point!  She's honest.  She also manages to educate through aspects of her plot (e.g. birth control) without coming across as preachy.

Do I think Forever would appeal to young people today as much as it did ten, twenty, thirty or forty years ago?  Possibly not.  The YA spectrum is so much more diverse now than it ever was then, and when you compare Blume's simplistic writing style to that of some of today's best-sellers such as John Green- it's world's apart. 

But there's still a place for Judy Blume, both on YA bookshelves and in my heart, because she tells stories that leave an impact and stay with you long after closing the book. 

And that will never, ever go out of style.

With thanks to Pan Macmillan, who sent me a new copy of Forever when I was appealing for anyone who may have my original copy to come forward.  If you happen to have the Pan Horizons issue shown above, with 'Kate loves Howard' written in the front, I would love to swap it for a new edition!


***

You're not too late to join in the Judy Blume readathon!  Find out more by visiting Keris Stainton's blog or following the hashtag #readalongralph.  The next book we're reading is Are You There God?  It's me, Margaret.

Judy Blume week is coming to Books with Bunny starting July 20th.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Waiting on Wednesday...I Knew You Were Trouble- Paige Toon

Is it really Wednesday again already?! It must be time for Waiting on Wednesday...
 
Having read and loved The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson last year, I am jigging about like an excited bumblebee for the next instalment! Paige Toon has a loyal fan base for her women's fiction titles, but she's now building a name for herself as an author of YA too.  I love the bright, summery cover-so very different to the first Jessie book, but equally as eye catching. 
 
I can't wait to read this one, it feels like I've been waiting for it for AGES!
 
The Blurb

Life as the undercover daughter of a rock god isn't going to be easy. How will Jessie adjust to her old boring life again after spending her summer living it up with her dad in LA? With tough decisions ahead (and not just choosing between two hot boys), can she cope juggling her two very different lives?

Summer may be over, but Jessie's story is just beginning…

I Knew You Were Trouble is released on 30th July 2015 and available for preorder now.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Cover reveal for Rebecca Pugh's Return to Bluebell Hill!

I'm very excited about the cover I'm revealing today, not just because it's super pretty, and girly, and daydreamy.  No, I'm especially giddy because this one is for the lovely Rebecca Pugh, known to many for her blog, Becca's Books! 
 
I'm thrilled that she's being published by Carina, and that her first book Return to Bluebell Hill is out later this month.  Becca and I started submitting our work to publishers at the same time, and to see her achieving her dream is wonderful!
 
My copy's already on pre-order...is yours?
 
 
 

Return to Bluebell Hill

Blurb

As sweet and satisfying as strawberries and cream! This British summertime, get out in the garden with Rebecca Pugh’s sparkling debut novel.

Home is where the heart is…

Jessica McAdams has never belonged anywhere; never truly felt at home. Of course, what did she expect from parents who never made her feel welcome in her own house? Leaving her life in London to return home to the charming country village of Bluebell Hill is harder than she thought. Especially as she never considered she’d be returning under such heart wrenching circumstances…

Clearing out the stunning and imposing Bluebell House after her parents’ death is difficult for Jessica—they never had the best relationship and now it’s too late. Yet spending time in the house that was never a home, having afternoon tea with dear old friend Esme—and sharing hot, sizzling kisses with delectable gardener Rueben!—opens Jessica’s eyes to the potential of Bluebell House… Could this big old, beautiful manor really be her forever home? Is Bluebell Hill where her heart is, has always been?

Jessica soon dares to dream of her very own home with delicious Rueben by her side. But when a deep, dark secret of Bluebell House is unearthed, Jessica’s world is turned upside down…

Will Jessica ever find where her heart truly lies?


An emotional tale of self-discovery, taking chances and romance! Rebecca’s unique British voice feels like coming home again and again.

 

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Author Biography

Rebecca Pugh grew up in the green county of Shropshire, with a mind full of fairy-tales and happy endings. Enchanted by true love and Disney Princesses, she decided that no matter what life threw her way, she’d continue to see the world through a child’s eyes. Through the pages of countless books, her adoration of reading blossomed, and it didn’t take long for her to fall under the spell of hundreds of authors’ words.
Now, Rebecca’s own story has taken a fairy-tale like turn, and at 22, her dream has come true. With her faithful companions: Bonnie the dog, her partner, and her gigantic family by her side, Rebecca is ready to share her stories with readers who enjoy falling in love and losing themselves within beautiful, fictional worlds.
Rebecca Pugh is the author of women’s fiction and romance, her all-time favourite genres. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a good swoon?
Her debut novel, Return to Bluebell Hill, is due to be published June 18th 2015 by Carina UK.

Monday, 8 June 2015

High Wages- Dorothy Whipple



The Blurb- taken from the Persephone Website

It is about a girl called Jane who gets a badly-paid job in a draper’s shop in the early years of the last century. Yet the title of the book is based on a Carlyle quotation – ‘Experience doth take dreadfully high wages, but she teacheth like none other’ – and Jane, having saved some money and been lent some by a friend, opens her own dress-shop.

As Jane Brocket writes in her Persephone Preface: the novel ‘is a celebration of the Lancastrian values of hard work and stubbornness, and there could be no finer setting for a shop-girl-made-good story than the county in which cotton was king.’ And the cultural historian Catherine Horwood has written about this novel: ‘Dorothy Whipple was only too well aware that clothes were one of the keys to class in this period. Before WW1, only the well-off could afford to have their clothes made: yards of wool crepe and stamped silks were turned into costumes by an invisible army of dressmakers across the country, and the idea of buying clothes ready-made from a dress shop was still unusual. Vera Brittain talks of “hand-me-downs” in Testament of Youth with a quite different meaning from today. These were not clothes passed from sibling to sibling but “handed down from a rack” in an outfitter’s shop, a novelty.’ High Wages describes how the way people shopped was beginning to change; it is this change that Dorothy Whipple uses as a key turning point in her novel.

The Review

I read High Wages for the Sheffield Persephone Book Group, and we last Thursday we met at Bird's Yard Sheffield to discuss our latest read.  Here are a few of my thoughts about the book.

High Wages had appealed to me for a long time, mainly because everything I'd read about it indicated it was the story of a young woman starting a business and making her way in the world.  Although written in 1930, the book is set from c1912 into the 1920s, and I'd expected Whipple's novel to offer a good insight into the life of ambitious women in this pivotal period in history.

The opening scenes, where Jane takes a job at a large department store, grabbed my attention.  I could imagine the shop windows and down-on-her-luck Jane peering into them full of hopes and aspirations.  I wanted to know where the plot would go and if this would be the inspirational shop girl-made-good story I hoped for.

It's fair to say I was surprised when the emphasis of the story shifted to romance, as although it's an ever-popular theme in literature- particularly that aimed at women- the reviews and articles I'd seen focussed on the elements of fashion, business and society within the novel.  Jane, who in the early chapters appears to be quite an 'average' girl in every sense, seems to turn men's heads left, right and centre.  The creative Wilf and attractive Noel both show signs of interest in Jane, and there's also evidence of her hold over other men, such as mentioned in the scene at the ball.  I imagine some of these scenes were considered quite risqué when the book was first published.  As a reader of contemporary romance, I can see how High Wages might be considered an early example of modern women's fiction-it had a lot in common with the bestselling 'chicklit' titles I've read recently. 

Whilst I liked the writing style and some of the more vividly painted scenes (especially the visit to the seaside which captured the essence of the great British holiday), I longed for more consistent character development.  It felt hard to get to know who Jane was and what she wanted, and although I mostly wished her success there were times I thought she acted inconsistently.  However, High Wages is early Whipple, written at a time when she was developing her style and honing her writing skills, and I can imagine her later works are more well-rounded in a literary sense.

High Wages was a page turner of a book and I can see why it appeals to the modern reader.  It just wasn't what I'd expected.  If you're interested in social history, the development of women's fiction and enjoy a good old-fashioned love triangle, High Wages might be for you.

High Wages is out now, published in paperback by Persephone Books.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Waiting on Wednesday...Dream A Little Dream- Giovanna Fletcher

It's that time again- Waiting on Wednesday, the meme created by Breaking the Spine where bloggers share their excitement for forthcoming releases!
 
Today I'm shouting about Giovanna Fletcher's summer release Dream a Little Dream.  Last year I devoured You're The One That I Want and Billy and Me- both were engaging, romantic reads that made me fall just a little bit in love with Giovanna Fletcher's writing.  Her summer release sounds like a perfect summer novel for whiling away the days, and I'm likely to be reading this as soon as my preorder flashes up on my kindle!
 
Even the cover is beautifully summery and cheery!
 
 
 
The Blurb

The new gorgeously romantic novel from bestselling author of Billy and Me and You're the One That I Want, Giovanna Fletcher.

Sarah is doing just fine. Sure she's been single for the last five years, and has to spend an uncomfortable amount of time around her ex-boyfriend, his perfect new girlfriend and all their mutual friends. And yes, her job as a PA to one of the most disgusting men in London is mind-numbingly tedious and her career is a constant disappointment to her mother. But it's really okay. She's happy (ish).

But it's not surprising that when Sarah starts dreaming about a handsome stranger, she begins to look forward to falling asleep every night. Reality isn't nearly as exciting. That is until her dream-stranger makes an unexpected real-life appearance, leaving Sarah questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Because no one ever really finds the person of their dreams... do they?

Dream a little Dream is released on June 18th 2015, published by Penguin.