Wednesday, 30 September 2015
Wednesday, 23 September 2015
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
Wednesday, 16 September 2015
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…
Monday, 14 September 2015
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.
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.
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
Buy The Little Kiosk by the Sea on Amazon. It's out now, published by UK Carina.
Saturday, 12 September 2015
What are your own experiences of camping/glamping?
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!
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!
Glamping Check list
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…
Friday, 11 September 2015
Anouska's post introduces us to Alex, the protagonist in Letting You Go and explains why the author has a soft spot for her...
Wednesday, 9 September 2015
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*
Sunday, 6 September 2015
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.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
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
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...
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.