Friday, 30 December 2016

My Favourite Reads of 2016

I've been a pretty rubbish book blogger in 2016.  There have been times this year where I've come close to calling time on Books with Bunny, because my life has changed beyond measure since I wrote my first post for this blog three-and-a-half years ago.  But I'm not ready to give it up yet.  I still love books and reading and spreading the literary love, so although there might not be regular updates any more, this little corner of the internet will remain my bookish space into 2017 (although if you want to know what I'm reading, Twitter is the best place to find me - @katey5678).

I've read some cracking books again this year and (this is the bit I love!) it's time to share them with you - here are my favourite reads of 2016!

If you like stories about secrets within families and communities, you need to read ... A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

If you like thought-provoking non-fiction, you need to read... Girl Up by Laura Bates


If you like sweeping romances that make your heart pang, you need to read ... Miss You by Kate Eberlen

If you like stories of friendship, roadtrips and nostalgia, you need to read ... Searching for a Silver Lining by Miranda Dickinson

If you like intriguing young adult fiction about boybands you need to read ... Songs About a Girl by Chris Russell


If you like books about forbidden love against a political backdrop, you need to read ... The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

If you like romantic books about travel and adventure, you need to read ... Just One Day by Gayle Forman

If you like uplifting books about fandom and finding yourself, you need to read Love Song by Sophia Bennett

 
If you like chilling psychological thrillers that will have you hooked from the off, you need to read ... Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris


If you like young adult books with a gothic influence, you need to read ... Darkmere by Helen Maslin


If you like a good old-fashioned mystery stories or books set at boarding schools, you need to read ... Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens


If you like amusing manga about misfits and obsessives, you need to read ... Princess Jellyfish by Akiko Higashimura


If you like romcom books with an original twist, you need to read ... Please Retweet by Emily Benet


If you like your romance kooky with a hint of spooky, you need to read ... Melody Bittersweet and the Girls' Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French


What have you read and loved this year?  I'd love you to share your favourite reads in the comments!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Christmas Q&A with Caroline Roberts!


I'm delighted to welcome Caroline Roberts to the blog today for a Q&A session. 
Hello Kate, thanks so much for featuring me and The Cosy Christmas Teashop on your blog!
The Cosy Christmas Teashop is a follow up to your previous novel The Cosy Teashop in the Castle. Did the fact that it's a sequel make a difference to your writing process? How long did it take to write?

In a way, it was easier to write as I already had the main characters and setting in mind. But I also wanted to freshen it all up, so I added some new characters and situations. I had fun with it, as well as exploring the more difficult times they had to face. I felt I knew everyone so well by the end, like the castle team had really become firm friends.
It took me four months to write The Cosy Christmas Teashop. A bit of a miracle as the first book took over a year. But I had a deadline to meet, so got my head down and kept going. It was hard work, but also fun.



2) This is your first festive novel. Do you envisage writing another in the future?

Yes, I enjoyed writing about Christmas and all the lovely festive build up to that – Christmas markets, craft fairs, snow, tinsel, Christmas trees, Christmas cupcakes, mince pies and more. I’d happily write another Christmas-themed novel. In fact, I might be working on that right now!

3) What are your favourite Christmassy reads?
I loved Debbie Johnson’s romantic comedy “Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper”.  It was a warm and funny story, unique and rather sexy.
And, on Christmas Eve, I always used to read to my children “Twas the Night Before Christmas” in a fabulous pop-up version, and we also loved The Jolly Christmas Postman.

4) What are your own plans for Christmas? Do you have any special family traditions?
I love the tradition of Christmas stockings, hanging them up by the fire, and then them “magically” being filled – I still have them for my grown-up children even now! And we always have a real tree, it looks so pretty all decorated and twinkly, and you get that gorgeous smell of pine.


On Christmas day, we have a glass of champagne around ten am (mid-parcel opening) with cheese and ham croissants, a fresh fruit platter, or chocolate if you fancy, after all, anything goes - it’s Christmas! Then there’s the traditional Turkey Roast. I’m chef as I enjoy cooking, though I have to be well prepared as after a couple of champagnes and a G&T, it can all get a bit out of sync!

For me, Christmas is all about family and friends and having a lovely, sociable time with some fabulous food and drink.


5) What can your readers look forward to next?


I have a summer book coming out around April/May time. A gorgeous and poignant love story  about hurt and healing and making the most of those simple special moments in life. It’s set on beautiful Bamburgh beach in my home county of Northumberland (one of my favourite places to walk the dog). In fact, the family might have a wander down on the beach there on Boxing Day!
And by this time next year, there may well be another Cosy Christmas novel! Watch this space…

Have a really lovely Christmas everyone!

The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop is out now, published by Harper Impulse.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Talking As Fast As I Can - Lauren Graham blog tour

 
As a recent convert to Gilmore Girls (how on earth did I miss it for so long?!) I'm very excited to be part of the blog tour for Lauren Graham's Talking As Fast As I Can.

I'm one of many women out there who can relate to Lorelai Gilmore and how she says whatever's on her mind without really thinking it through.  That's part of her charm.

Picking a favourite Lorelai moment for the blog tour was tricky.  I could have gone for a mother/daughter moment (Lorelai's graduation left me with a lump in my throat) or her epic fangirling with Sookie at The Bangles gig despite being at the back of the venue, but I'm going with the one liner that makes me giggle every time I think of it, when Lorelai says to Rory - "Hey, maybe instead of going to college, you should drop out and I could quit my job and we can form an all-girl band with Lane, you know, like Bananarama. We could call it Tangerinarama or Banana-fana-fo-fana-rama…or something." 

Why does that tickle me so much?  Mostly because that sounds like a band I'd really like to be part of. 

The Blurb
In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood-along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.

In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, "Did you, um, make it?" She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood ("Strangers were worried about me; that's how long I was single!"), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge onProject Runway ("It's like I had a fashion-induced blackout").

In "What It Was Like, Part One," Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay "What It Was Like, Part Two" reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she's aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls ("If you're meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you've already set the bar too high"), and she's a card-carrying REI shopper ("My bungee cords now earn points!").

Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and-of course-talking as fast as you can.

Talking As Fast As I Can is released on December 6th in hardback and ebook formats, and available for preorder now.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

SeQuence - Lorraine M.L.M Publication Day

Happy publication day to Lorraine M.L.M!  SeQuence, the first book in her new fantasy young adult series 'The Heart of the Ocean' is out now!
 

The Blurb

From chaotic voices on Earth…

Haunted by voices inside her head, seventeen-year-old Alessia Appleton is incarcerated in a mental asylum. In her flight to sanctuary, she’s transported to Zeneshia, a breathtaking world under the sea filled with colourful forests and gigantic glowing moons. Here, she discovers the unique power of her mind—and how an entire kingdom’s survival is dependent on it. As she finds her true self, she falls irrevocably in love with Dante Erajion.

To the tranquillity of the Kingdom under the Moons…

Determined to avenge his mother’s murder, Dante isn’t looking for love until he meets Alessia. Together they unravel the past, inevitably kindling the Foretold Sequence of Hearts. In a world where Sequence takes precedence over chance, powerful forces manipulate the future and redesign Sequences, using Alessia as an unwitting cat’s paw in the Four Kingdoms’ Game of Sequence.

Love might not be enough to save them…

With Alessia and Dante’s destinies intertwined, their love is under threat…and so is the future of their people. As players of the Game make their first move, can young love survive the ordeals of a shifting Sequence to Life, Love, and Death?

SeQuence is AVAILABLE NOW in paperback and E-book from all AMAZON stores

Paperback


E-book





 
Youtube SeQuence Book Trailer


And the cover for the second book in the series is also being revealed today - SeQuence Aligned is coming soon.
 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Searching for a Silver Lining - Miranda Dickinson



The Blurb
It began with a promise . . .

Matilda Bell is left heartbroken when she falls out with her beloved grandfather just before he dies. Haunted by regret, she makes a promise that will soon change everything . . .

When spirited former singing star Reenie Silver enters her life, Mattie seizes the opportunity to make amends. Together, Mattie and Reenie embark on an incredible journey that will find lost friends, uncover secrets from the glamorous 1950s and put right a sixty-year wrong.

Touchingly funny, warm and life-affirming, this is a sparkling story of second chances. Perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern, Searching for a Silver Lining will take you on a trip you'll never forget.

The Review
As a huge fan of Miranda Dickinson's writing, I was delighted to be sent an early copy of Searching for a Silver Lining to review.  I always love how Miranda is able to create warm characters that I root for from the off, and Mattie Bell is yet another wonderful protagonist - I immediately took her to my heart.

Mattie is grieving for her grandfather.  She throws herself headfirst into an adventure when she meets the wonderful livewire octogenarian Reenie Silver, a former starlet and performer with popular 50s band The Silver Five who were also a favourite of her grandfather 'back in the day'.  What follows is a crazy quest for one last hoorah which involves amongst other things a campervan, a memorable performance of Wheatus' Teenage Dirtbag and the rather lovely club owner Gil...

This book is a reminder that age is irrelevant when there's a bond between two people, and as positive friendships/relationships across the generations is something which is still relatively unexplored in fiction it was lovely to see this portrayed so well.  Reenie and Mattie were a perfect and believable duo and I was willing them on to their own happy endings.  Reenie's stories were an absolute highlight of this book, she was like Tom Jones on an episode of The Voice with her continual name dropping!

I also loved how each chapter was given a 'soundtrack', a song from the 1950s that linked into the themes explored in that section of the book.  It brings another element to the story and introduced me to some new tunes along the way.

Most of all Searching for a Silver Lining is heart-warming and charming and oozing with everything that makes friendship such a beautiful, beautiful gift. 

I can't recommend this book highly enough.  It's Miranda Dickinson's best yet.

Searching for a Silver Lining is out now in ebook and paperback format.

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

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Recently I've Read - September 2016

I'm incredibly late posting this monthly round up and that's mainly because September was a pretty fruitful month when it came to reading.  It's fair to say I was looking for love in my September reads, with lots of commercial romantic fiction, but I also enjoyed a fair amount of manga too, which I'll wrote about in a separate post. 

Step Back in Time - Ali McNamara
 
 
The Blurb
How many lifetimes would you travel to find a love that lasts for ever?
When single career girl Jo-Jo steps onto a zebra crossing and gets hit by a car, she awakes to find herself in 1963. The fashion, the music, her job, even her romantic life: everything is different. And then it happens three more times, and Jo-Jo finds herself living a completely new life in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. The only people she can rely on are Harry and Ellie, two companions from 2013, and George, the owner of a second-hand record store.
If she's ever to return from her travels, Jo-Jo must work out why she's jumping through time like this. And if she does make it back, will her old life ever be the same again?

My Thoughts
A great read with romance, time travel and a whole lot of Beatles references! 
This was a fun and original story which had me chuckling along as protagonist Jo-Jo found herself leaping between the decades.  The attention to detail in each era made this perfect for book for anyone with a nostalgic bone in their body, and I absolutely adored record shop owner George.
My first Ali McNamara book, but certainly not my last!

Read Me Like a Book - Liz Kessler
 


The Blurb
The first YA novel from bestselling author Liz Kessler, Read Me Like A Book is a brave, honest and vital coming-out story that follows one girl's exploration of love, identity and sexuality.
Ashleigh Walker is having a difficult year. She's struggling at school, and coming home to parents who are on the verge of divorce. She knows she should be happy spending time with her boyfriend - but, for some reason, being around him just makes her worry more. It's only in her English teacher, Miss Murray, that she feels she's found a kindred spirit. Miss Murray helps Ashleigh develop her writing skills and her confidence - but what happens when boundaries begin to blur? What will the repercussions be for Ashleigh? And how will she navigate her own sexuality?

My Thoughts
An engaging and relevant coming of age story which will appeal to both YA and adult readership. This was an extremely readable tale and I rooted for Ashleigh as she explored her own sexuality.  There have been more LGBT+ books published again lately, and if they are all of this quality then I'm sure they'll be a welcome addition to bookshelves everywhere.

Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner - Helen Cox
 
 
 
The Blurb
Esther Knight is sharp, sarcastic – and hiding something. She waitresses at The Starlight Diner: a retro eatery where Fifties tunes stream out of the jukebox long into the night, and the tastiest milkshakes in New York are served.
Nobody at the diner knows why Esther left London for America – or why she repeatedly resists the charms of their newest regular, actor Jack Faber.
Esther is desperate to start a new life in the land of the free, but despite the warm welcome from the close-knit diner crowd, something from her past is holding her back. Can she ever learn to love and live again?
Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner is a witty, romantic, New York-inspired novel.
 
My Thoughts
I really enjoyed Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner.  The cover and the blurb and mainly cheery and uplifting, but don't be fooled, this isn't all ice cream sundaes and eggs sunny side up.  Esther is a far more enigmatic character than that.
I loved how this book tackled some darker plot lines whilst still having a warm humour to add a delightful balance to the novel.
This is the first book in a series and I'm very much looking forward to the next.  Service please!
 
 
Keeping Her Secret - Sarah Nicholas
 
 
The Blurb
The last person Riya Johnson expected to run into at her new summer camp is Courtney Chastain—her childhood best friend and the girl who broke her heart after a secret, mind-blowing, life-altering kiss. She definitely didn’t expect to be sharing a bunk bed with her for four long weeks.
Courtney has what every girl wants—she’s beautiful, rich, and the object of every boy’s desire at Camp Pine Ridge. Too bad none of them make her feel an iota of what Riya’s kiss did all those years ago. But Courtney needs to uphold appearances at all costs—even if it means instigating an all-out prank war with Riya as her main target.
Neither girl can stop thinking about the other…but that doesn’t mean they can give up past hurts and take a chance on a future together.
 
My Thoughts
Riya and Courtney used to be friends. Then they kissed and everything changed. Now their paths have crossed at camp and it's time to assess if they are friends or if there's something more between them...
Full of angst, camp pranks and f/f romance, this is a cute book from Entangled, but I'd have liked more of the romance and 'aww' of the later sections earlier on.
                   


Miss You - Kate Eberlen
 
 
 
The Blurb
Tess and Gus are meant to be. They just haven't met properly yet. And perhaps they never will . . .
Today is the first day of the rest of your life is the motto on a plate in the kitchen at home, and Tess can't get it out of her head, even though she's in Florence for a final, idyllic holiday before university. Her life is about to change forever - but not in the way she expects.
Gus and his parents are also on holiday in Florence. Their lives have already changed suddenly and dramatically. Gus tries to be a dutiful son, but longs to escape and discover what sort of person he is going to be.
For one day, the paths of an eighteen-year-old girl and boy criss-cross before they each return to England.
Over the course of the next sixteen years, life and love will offer them very different challenges. Separated by distance and fate, there's no way the two of them are ever going to meet each other properly . . . or is there?

My Thoughts
I adored this book!  The near-misses of Tess and Gus had me hooked from the very first page.  Kate Eberlen has created two characters that I genuinely cared about, with a supporting cast of interesting periphery characters to back them up.  None of them were two dimensional, they were real and flawed and utterly believable.
As well as wonderfully rich characters, this book had me longing to be back in the beautiful city of Florence, encapsulating the magic of place perfectly.
I've recommended this book to everyone I know - if you love a love story (and I absolutely do) then you really must read Miss You.  One of my favourite books of 2016, hands down.

 
The Honey Trap - Mary Jayne Baker
 
 
 
The Blurb
The trap is set – but which one of them is the bait?
Journalist Angel Blackthorne is looking for her next big scoop. When her sleazy editor asks her to use her charms on super successful – and married – film director Sebastian Wilchester for a juicy exposé, Angel thinks what the hell? There’s a staff job on the horizon, and, let’s be honest, no one can make a cheater cheat if they don’t want to, right?
After the scandal breaks, Angel tries to put the story – and Seb – behind her, but fate seems to have other ideas. A near miss at a premiere after-party and a shared love of vintage film brings the honey closer to the trap.
But what happens when pretence leads to passion, and a ‘kiss and tell’ becomes something real?
 
My Thoughts
Fun, flirty and at points downright filthy, The Honey Trap is the story of Angel, who works for a tabloid newspaper, and big name film producer Seb. When Angel's boss asks her to act as a 'honey trap' in order to get compromising photos and a sensationalist headline, sparks begin to fly between the two of them...
What I loved most about this was the balance between humour and sexiness - it was a red hot read in places! There were also tender moments and little twists which made me eager to keep reading. Although to be honest I fell a little bit in love with Seb along the way too, and once I love a hero I'm always hooked. If this book is anything to go by Mary Jayne Baker definitely knows how to write a delicious male lead! I'm looking forward to what's to come next from this debut author.
If you've loved the balance of wit and sex in Debbie Johnson's books, you'll adore this one.
 
The One with the Wedding Dress - Erin Lawless
 
 
 
The Blurb
For fans of romantic comedies like Bridesmaids and Four Weddings & a Funeral, and bestselling authors Mhairi McFarlane and Jenny Oliver, this is a hilarious new romantic comedy series about one bride and her four best friends.
 
My thoughts
Following on from The One with the Engagement Party, The One with the Wedding Dress reintroduces bride to be Nora and her flock of bridesmaids as they head to the Cotswolds in search of the perfect wedding day attire. Of course, in true romcom fashion there are hitches along the way and that combined with the wit and pun-tastic humour I've come to expect from Erin Lawless makes for a fun second instalment of the Bridesmaids series.
I love books that are centred around a group of friends and these girls have totally captured my heart - I can't help noticing flickers of my own pals in their character traits and I'm wondering which of the wedding party I myself have most in common with!
I'm loving watching these characters develop and can't wait to find out what happens in part three!
  
 

Saturday, 8 October 2016

My Month in Manga - September 2016

Ooops.  This post is rather late this month...so without further ado, here's a quick look at the manga I read during September.
 
Fall in Love Like a Comic vol.1 - Chitose Yagami
 
The Blurb
Rena Sakura is a high school student with a secret: she's a professional mangaka. And although she's never been on a date, that doesn't stop her from drawing steamy shojo scenes for Chami magazine. But when the gorgeous Tomoya Okita finds out her secret, she finds herself asking him out to get some real-life experience in love!

Rena asks Tomoya to be her boyfriend, hoping that gaining some experience in dating will help her improve her manga. Rena is positive that Tomoya is only dating her to help her out, but that doesn't stop her from falling in love...
 
My Thoughts
This was a fun shojo manga following the well-used manga theme of a mangaka living out her life through her art. This was an easy read and I enjoyed it for what it was, but I'm not in a hurry to find out what happens next so don't think I'll be reading the rest of the series any time soon.
 
Citrus vol. 1 - Saburo Uta
 
 
The Blurb
Yuzuko Aihara, a high school girl whose main interests are fashion, friends and having fun, is about to get a reality check. Due to her mom's remarriage, Yuzu has transferred to a new, all-girls school that is extremely strict. Her real education is about to begin. From Day One, happy-go-lucky Yuzu makes enemies, namely the beautiful yet stern Student Council President Mei. So what happens when a dejected Yuzu returns home and discovers the shock of her life: that Mei is actually her new step-sister who has come to live with her? Even more surprising, when Mei catches Yuzu off-guard and kisses her out of the blue, what does it all mean?
 
My Thoughts
Two girls who find themselves as step-sisters are unsure of their relationship.  That's pretty much the whole plot.  The art in this book is exquisite, and the quality of the book itself was excellent and included some glossy colour pages at the front.  It's just a shame the story let this one down for me - I'm not sure whether or not I'll read volume 2.

 
We Were There - Yuuki Obata
 
 
 
The Blurb
Nanami Takahashi falls for Motoharu Yano, the most popular, carefree boy in class. For Nanami, it's first love, but Yano is still grieving the death of his girlfriend who died the year before.
Nanami starts high school with high hopes of making lots of friends. She develops a crush on the enigmatic Yano, but he may have too many secrets for her to handle.

Nanami Takahashi falls for Motoharu Yano, the most popular, carefree boy in class. For Nanami, it's first love, but Yano is still grieving the death of his girlfriend who died the year before.
 
My Thoughts
There was a bit at the beginning of this book where I thought I'd be putting it down and not picking it back up (when Nanami is grabbed by the throat - I found this incredibly disturbing).  That said, for an angsty will they/won't they romance it held my attention, and I found the art visually appealing.  This is an old manga now, and I was given this by a friend who found it in a charity shop, but I'll probably try to get hold of the next instalment to find out what happens next.

 


Sunday, 4 September 2016

My Month in Manga - August

I've not been reading as much manga lately, but I've been introduced to some new mangaka.

Idol Dreams #1

 
I read part 1 of Idol Dreams, a manga with echoes of Big where 31 year old virgin Chikage wishes she could go back to her teens.  When her wish comes true, she finds herself thrust into a world of fame and sharing her first kiss with a teen idol. 

I liked Tanemura's art style and found this an easy, entertaining read - I'll definitely be continuing this series.

Kisses, Sighs and Cherry Blossom Pink
 


This f/f manga collection is set at Sakuraki High, an all girls' school and follows the relationships of the pupils and staff based there.  Nana and Hitomi's relationship is the main focus of the collection, and in many ways I felt the other couples were surplus to requirements.  I loved the bond between the two girls and especially that it had the ups and downs of any partnership.  Full of angst, romance and emotional turmoil, I couldn't read this book fast enough! 

Milk Morinaga's art is absolutely beautiful and exactly the style I find most visually appealing.  I will definitely be looking out for more of her manga. 

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Recently I've Read - August 2016

Searching for a Silver Lining - Miranda Dickinson
 
 
The Blurb
It began with a promise . . .

Matilda Bell is left heartbroken when she falls out with her beloved grandfather just before he dies. Haunted by regret, she makes a promise that will soon change everything . . .

When spirited former singing star Reenie Silver enters her life, Mattie seizes the opportunity to make amends. Together, Mattie and Reenie embark on an incredible journey that will find lost friends, uncover secrets from the glamorous 1950s and put right a sixty-year wrong.

Touchingly funny, warm and life-affirming, this is a sparkling story of second chances. Perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern, Searching for a Silver Lining will take you on a trip you'll never forget.

My review of this book will be posted on publication day on October 20th...but I loved it!

 
 
Aimee and the Heartthrob - Ophelia London
 
 
The Blurb
This Entangled Teen Crush book contains references to drug use, drinking, some sexual content, and lots and lots of kissing. Its swoonworthy hero may ruin all others for you. He never noticed her before, but now she's all he can see…
 
 Miles Carlisle is every teen girl’s fantasy. His rugged good looks and exotic British accent have helped catapult his boy band, Seconds to Juliet, to super-stardom. But after two disastrous and very public breakups, Miles isn’t interested in dating just any girl; he wants The One. And the only girl he’s interested in is not only his best friend’s little sister - and off-limits - but won’t even give him the time of day…
 
As a kid, Aimee Bingham had a huge thing for Miles…until he made fun of her for always tagging along. Now that she’s outgrown both him and her pigtails, the prospect of spending two weeks on tour with the childhood crush who broke her heart isn’t exactly enticing. Except now Miles seems interested. Very interested. And no matter how hard Aimee tries to resist him, her crush is definitely making a comeback.
 
But everyone knows that falling for a heartthrob is a backstage pass to heartbreak…
 
I blogged about this book in my post #Boybandlit which you can find here.
 
#PleaseRetweet - Emily Benet
 
 
The Blurb
Social media whizz kid, May Sparks has landed her dream job. Well, not quite, but the salary is great and all May has to do is handle the online profiles of C – list celebrities who have the tendency to say inappropriate things. Easy, right? #wrong

May’s clients include an ex big brother star (who she's definitely not going to sleep with #neversaynever), a disgraced TV presenter (who wants May to sort out his marriage as well as his Twitter account), and a woman who once flashed her boobs on X-factor. They're all relying on her to turn them into stars. But they're not going to make her job easy.

Sucked in to her virtual world, May loses grip on her real life. Friendships suffer and romance looks increasingly unlikely. If she doesn't log off soon, will there be any one real left?

I read this book as part of the #SummerImpulse reading challenge.  You can read my full review of it here.

 
A Library of Lemons - Jo Cotterill
 
 
The Blurb
A poignant story about dealing with grief through the magic of reading and friendship.
 
Calypso's mum died a few years ago and her emotionally incompetent Dad can't, or won't, talk about Mum at all. Instead he throws himself into writing his book A History of the Lemon. Meanwhile the house is dusty, there's never any food in the fridge, and Calypso retreats into her own world of books and fiction.
 
 When a new girl, Mae, arrives at school, the girls' shared love of reading and writing stories draws them together. Mae's friendship and her lively and chaotic home - where people argue and hug each other - make Calypso feel more normal than she has for a long time. But when Calypso finally plucks up the courage to invite Mae over to her own house, the girls discover the truth about her dad and his magnum opus - and Calypso's happiness starts to unravel.
 
My review of A Library of Lemons will be online soon.
 
Idol Dreams - Arina Tanemura*
 
 
The Blurb
At age 31, office worker Chikage Deguchi feels she missed her chances at love and success. When word gets out that she's a virgin, Chikage is humiliated and wishes she could turn back time to when she was still young and popular. She takes an experimental drug that changes her appearance back to when she was 15. Now Chikage is determined to pursue everything she missed out on all those years ago--including becoming a star!
 
For teen audiences.
 
You can read my thoughts on Idol Dreams in my post My Month in Manga - August, coming soon.
 
What have you been reading recently?  I'd love to know!
 

Saturday, 27 August 2016

#PleaseRetweet - Emily Benet



The Blurb
Social media whizz kid, May Sparks has landed her dream job. Well, not quite, but the salary is great and all May has to do is handle the online profiles of C – list celebrities who have the tendency to say inappropriate things. Easy, right? #wrong

May’s clients include an ex big brother star (who she's definitely not going to sleep with #neversaynever), a disgraced TV presenter (who wants May to sort out his marriage as well as his Twitter account), and a woman who once flashed her boobs on X-factor. They're all relying on her to turn them into stars. But they're not going to make her job easy.

Sucked in to her virtual world, May loses grip on her real life. Friendships suffer and romance looks increasingly unlikely. If she doesn't log off soon, will there be any one real left?

The Review
This was such a fun read!  Emily Benet has capitalised on Twitter's world domination and centred #PleaseRetweet around May Sparks, a snappy media-savvy young woman whose job it is to manage the Twitter accounts of washed up celebrities who need all the help they can get to stay in the public eye.

I loved the zippy dialogue, the sharp wit and the colourful characters, and although poor May was working 24/7 to keep her clients out of mischief I must admit I was crying out for the celebrities to make more faux pas because they were so entertaining!  Authors, reality stars, boyband members with unpronounceable names...they all needed May's guidance to keep in touch with both technology and their fans.

This contemporary novel is exceptionally well written and will act as a sharp warning to anyone who finds themselves spending more time online than in the outside world.  I loved it!

#PleaseRetweet is out now in ebook and paperback format, published by Harper Impulse.

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

Friday, 26 August 2016

#boybandlit

Books about music are one of my major weaknesses so when I found about #boybandlit chat on Twitter I was in my element.  A group of likeminded readers and authors chatted about anything and everything to do with boybands and books for an hour (although it felt like five minutes, it was one of those strange time-twisting moments) and it made me desperate to devour even more books about music.

During 2016 I've read and reviewed (and loved ) Love Song by Sophia Bennett and Songs About a Girl by Chris Russell, and I've also read...

Kill The Boyband - Goldy Moldavsky
 
 
 
The Blurb

Fangirls get a bad rap all the time - people say we're weird, hysterical, obsessed, certifiable. But those people don't understand.

Just because we're fangirls, doesn't mean we're crazy.

It's important you know that up front. Because everything I'm about to tell you is going to seem . . . well, crazy.

From thrilling debut author Goldy Moldavsky comes Kill The Boy Band, a pitch-black, hilarious take on modern fandom and the badass girls who have the power to make - or break - the people we call 'celebrities'.

The Review


Kill The Boyband has been a big YA book in 2016 and as such I had high hopes for it. As an out and out fangirl I was especially interested in how the girls were going to be portrayed.

I need to clarify that this is a very different book when it comes to bands and fandoms, exploring the obsessive (and possessive) nature of the fangirl.  I was a bit confused as to whether it was meant to be satirical, especially as the digs being made were predominantly at The Ruperts fans, when I imagine many of the target readership are likely to be fans of boybands themselves, or if it was supposed to be funny - either way something was lacking.  I also had some issues with sweeping generalisations about groups within the novel, the overweight, the gay, the rich kids...which again I assume were satirical but didn't quite come across that way.

There were elements of this book I liked - the language and dialogue and the dynamics between the band members were done especially well - and it has stayed with me since reading it in the spring.  However, I'm not sure it's a book I'd return to again because of the issues I mentioned above.


Aimee and the Heartthrob - Ophelia London


The Blurb
 
This Entangled Teen Crush book contains references to drug use, drinking, some sexual content, and lots and lots of kissing. Its swoonworthy hero may ruin all others for you. He never noticed her before, but now she's all he can see…
 
 Miles Carlisle is every teen girl’s fantasy. His rugged good looks and exotic British accent have helped catapult his boy band, Seconds to Juliet, to super-stardom. But after two disastrous and very public breakups, Miles isn’t interested in dating just any girl; he wants The One. And the only girl he’s interested in is not only his best friend’s little sister - and off-limits - but won’t even give him the time of day…
 
As a kid, Aimee Bingham had a huge thing for Miles…until he made fun of her for always tagging along. Now that she’s outgrown both him and her pigtails, the prospect of spending two weeks on tour with the childhood crush who broke her heart isn’t exactly enticing. Except now Miles seems interested. Very interested. And no matter how hard Aimee tries to resist him, her crush is definitely making a comeback.
 
But everyone knows that falling for a heartthrob is a backstage pass to heartbreak…
 
The Review
 
I sometimes find the thought of starting a series daunting, especially at the moment as I've not got as much time for reading recently as I've had in the past.  However, I read this book as part of a readalong with another blogger (Hi Sofia!) and quickly found myself immersed in Aimee and Miles' story. 
 
It's unapologetically romance, and I loved that it didn't try to be anything else.  It reminded me a lot of the Sweet Dreams books I devoured as a teenager - a sprinkling of angst, a forbidden romance and a lot of kissing. 
 
I'm definitely interested in reading the rest of this series and finding out more about the rest of the band.  If you're looking for all-out boyband romance, this could be the series for you.
 
My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend - Eleanor Wood 
 
 
The Blurb
 
Geeky girl meets famous boy . . . what could go wrong?

Tuesday Cooper is happy being normal -doing her a-levels and indulging in her twin obsessions: buying weird vintage clothes in charity shops and writing her beloved music blog (which nobody ever reads). Her love for music started when she was thirteen and had a massive crush on Jackson Griffith, teen rock god and SUPER HOT LOVE OF HER LIFE. Now Tuesday's eighteen and has moved on to fancying boys in real life and Jackson went off the celebrity radar years ago.
So it can't be him that's messaging her on her blog, can it?

From one girl's computer to the pyramid stage at Glastonbury Festival, this is a love story for anyone who has ever wished that someone would sing a love song just for them.

Dreams can come true . . .
 
The Review

 
This was a book I stumbled across at the library and picked up on a whim - and I'm so glad I did!  Eleanor Wood has done a brilliant job of writing a fun, romantic, quirky novel about an ordinary girl who meets a superstar band member.  Tuesday and Jackson end up in a complicated situation where fame and normality collide, resulting in a story far more poignant than I would have expected. 
 
I laughed out loud on more than one occasion and had a lump in my throat during the darker moments - this YA book had it all.  If you love books about bands, you really need to give this one a try.

Have you read any books about singer/bands that I really need to read?  I'd love any recommendations!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Ones I Didn't Blog - What I've Read This Summer

It's been a crazily busy summer for me, with both my day job and writing/editing my first full length novel taking up a lot of my time and energy.  There's not been much time for reading, let alone reviewing, but I've been logging my reading history for so long that it feels strangely alien not to be doing it!

I'm not going to get the chance to fully review everything I've read recently, and I imagine this lack of time to blog will continue through Winter 2016/2017 as I write my second full length novel (due out next summer).  However, I do plan to keep writing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, no matter how short they are, as I know firsthand how important reviews are to authors.  The long and short of it is this - I'm going to have to change the way I blog. 

There will be guest posts and cover reveals and (of course) I'll still be writing reviews, but I'm planning on a monthly 'what I've read' post being a staple feature.  I'll post the cover, blurb and a few short thoughts on each book I've read that month, linking to a full review if it's a book I'm particularly passionate about.

However, for today I'm making a list.  I know it's not an exciting read, but it is what it is and all I can do right now.

Recently I've read...

All Aboard - Cressida McLaughlin
Casting Off - Cressida McLaughlin
Picture Perfect - Holly Smale
First Class Murder - Robin Stevens
Kindred Spirits - Rainbow Rowell
Kiss Him, Not Me - Junko (vol 1,2)*
Hot Gimmick - Miki Aihara (vol 1,2,3)*
Paradise Residence - Kosuke Fujishima (vol 1)*
Nehigo - Ken Akamatsu *
Sailor Moon - Naoku Takeuchi (vol 1)*
Flowers and Bees - Moyoco Anno (vol 1)*
Agatha - The Real Life of Agatha Christie - Anne Martinetti*
Maid-sama! - Hiro Fujiwara (vol 1,2)*
Big Magic - Elizabeth Gilbert
Your Lie in April - Naoshi Arakawa (vol 1)*
If I Was Your Girl - Meredith Russo
Princess Jellyfish - Akiko Higashimura (vol 2)*
Playing the Player - Lisa Brown Roberts
Always with Love - Giovanna Fletcher
London Belongs to Us - Sarra Manning

And I do have a few other reads I plan to write full blog posts for over the next few weeks. 
Books with a * are manga/graphic novels.
Books in bold are ones I particularly loved.

 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Songs About a Girl - Chris Russell



The Blurb

Heartbreak, romance, fame and pop music - for anyone who's ever dreamed of saying 'I'm with the band'.

Charlie Bloom never wanted to be 'with the band'. She's happiest out of the spotlight, behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. But when she's asked to take backstage photos for hot new boy band, Fire&Lights, she can't pass up the chance.

Catapulted into a world of paparazzi and backstage bickering, Charlie soon becomes caught between gorgeous but damaged frontman Gabriel West and his boy-next-door bandmate, Olly Samson. Then, as the boys' rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles upon a mindblowing secret, hidden in the lyrics of their songs ...

The Review

It's no secret that I'm a total fangirl.  Bands, especially boybands, are my thing, and I'm not ashamed of that.  I also adore YA books with a musical element so I'm delighted there's been a bit of a boom in 'Boyband Lit' during 2016.

Chris Russell's debut novel Songs About a Girl follows Charlie Bloom as she becomes a backstage photographer for Fire&Lights.  She knows they're ordinary lads in an extraordinary situation - she sort-of-knew band member Olly before he became famous as they went to the same school - but although Fire&Lights are the hottest group on the planet right now, Charlie has no desire to be a groupie.  All she wants is the opportunity to improve her photography skills.

As the novel progresses Charlie learns more about each band member, discovering both their flaws and strengths as she sees them in and out of the spotlight.  Yet it's only as secrets reveal themselves that she realises just how bound she is to Fire&Lights...

I loved the themes in this book - friendship, trust, finding youself - and thought Russell did a brilliant job of capturing the essence of what it means to be a fan.  As a musician himself, I'm sure he drew on his own experiences of being on stage and also watching live bands when writing the scenes where Fire&Lights perform - these are some of the strongest in the book, perfectly encapsulating the unique experience of gathering with likeminded people to enjoy the shared experience of a gig.

This book is a mustread for any fangirl and is one of my books of the summer.  I'm already bursting for the next book in the series to be released to find out what's in store for Charlie and the boys!

Songs About a Girl is out now in both ebook and paperback.

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

Saturday, 6 August 2016

One Last Summer at Hideaway Bay - Zoe Cook

The Blurb

Secrets lie waiting beneath the Cornish waves in this moving and unforgettable love story. Perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks, Kelly Rimmer and Jojo Moyes.

Lucy, hi. It’s Tom. How are you? It’s been a while. I’ve been meaning to get in touch but it’s hard to know how to after so much time. I hear you’re doing really well up there. I knew you would be.
You should come here, you know, back to Hideaway bay. Come and see everyone, see how little it’s all changed. Feel the sand between your toes, the Cornish sea breeze on your face. When the sun hits the surf in that way it does, it’s as magical as ever.

That’s why I’m writing to you, actually. I want to get the gang back together again, one last time before…well…just one last time. You should come too. The four of us, a summer on the beach, like old times. We all want you here for it. I want you here for it. It’s been so long since I saw you.

I still think about you.

Tom

The Review

I read this book as part of the Harper Impulse #SummerImpulse readathon and was very keen to get stuck in.  Bloggers and reviewers have been speaking highly of this debut novel from Zoe Cook and I was excited to see if it lived up to the hype.

The story starts with Lucy living the high life in London.  Outwardly, it looks like she's got the lot - a glamorous job, a party lifestyle, and a group of friends who share her recreational drug use habit - but as she reflects on life following contact from her childhood sweetheart Tom, she realises that maybe it's all a façade.  As Lucy heads home to Cornwall's Hideaway Bay, she's unprepared for the life-changing summer that lies ahead...

The first section of the novel set the scene and gave an overview of Lucy's chaotic London lifestyle, which contrasted well with the quieter pace of Cornwall life depicted later in the book.  Personally, I felt the London section could have been slightly shorter and still amply given the juxtaposition between the two settings. I think I was ready to be whisked to Cornwall earlier in the story given the summery cover and blurb.

Lucy is not always a likeable protagonist, but that didn't detract from the empathy I felt towards her. If anything it made her seem a rounded, 'human' character and more believable.  Tom was definitely the easier to warm to of the two main characters.  I liked the periphery characters too, and would love to find out more about their backstories in sister novels.

I'd heard other readers say they'd sobbed at the ending and I'd prepared myself to crumble as I reached the final pages, but although moved by the end of the book, I didn't actually shed a tear.  I think maybe I'd prepared myself for a devastating tear-jerker ending and had steeled myself up before reaching the end!

This book may appeal to fans of David Nicholls and Jojo Moyes and is a well-crafted debut novel from Zoe Cook.

With thanks to Harper Impulse for providing me with a galley copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Paola Pica talking Italian culture and society


 
I love everything about  Italian Culture  and almost everything about  Italian Society, even if the two of them are strictly linked to each other, of course.  In fact, being Italian, I can say that the Society I belong to doesn’t live up to its simply fabulous Culture. 

Let’s take, for example, the enormous amount of historical remains scattered all over the country, small villages included, and let’s see how underestimated the most part of them is. Both Politicians and citizens seem to take all that beauty and value for granted and don’t do enough to protect and (why not?) make the right profit from them.  Someone might object that there simply are too many and it would be impossible to give each of them the due consideration.  That is actually what I am trying to say, that is, our Culture is not profit oriented enough, in this respect.  Why shouldn’t we get money from one of the greatest resources that we have?  It seems to me that the Italian Society is not talented for making money in the easiest way.   Everything must be a little difficult…to make Italians appreciate it.

And here I come to a second feature in my Culture, that is its attitude to money.  Italians sometimes think that “pecunia olet” (money stinks), according to a honor code which dates back to a far past, when people had to show more interest in the cultural aspects of things and places than in their money value.   On the contrary, I appreciate what I see in Northern Europe, where each single historical remain, even the smallest stone from a Roman “castra” or a piece from a Viking weapon, is encircled by a fence or encased in a glass box, for paying visitors to look at.

Of course, as each medal does, the Italian attitude to money has the opposite cultural side, which is our generosity and that I like very much.  I’m not speaking of large cities, like Rome or Milan, where people don’t live according to their traditional lifestyles any longer.  That’s an aspect of globalization and it is all another story.  Let’s go into the countryside or to a small town and ask people in the street for an information or some help; or let’s simply watch what happens if you are clearly in need for it. People are ready to help and don’t expect anything in return.

Something else that I don’t like in Italian Society is the way our Politics works and how distant it keeps from us citizens and the enormous bureaucracy we have to put up with.  Once again, all this dates back to our historical past, which has shaped our Society and Culture.  When Italy didn’t exist yet and its territory was divided into several small different “states” and Ambassadors were the only means of communication  among them, all had to be bureaucratically worked out and taxes and duties had to be paid just for travelling across territories.  This part of Italian Society should be deleted completely and as soon as possible, in order to make Italians’ lives easier.

One more thing that I like in Italian Culture and Society (I couldn’t separate the two in this respect) is the conviviality and good cooking.  The worldwide reputation of the latter doesn’t need any explanation; but I like to say some words about how nice and simple Italians find to enjoy the “pleasures of the table”. Even the simplest plate of “penne all’arrabbiata” (a typical kind of pasta enriched with very spicy tomato sauce), together with the less expensive glass of local (actually from any place) wine will be turned into a banquet, when friends get together and share the end of a Winter or Summer day.

What else, could I say about my everyday surroundings and environment?  I can add that, as Arts are part of our life, even the simplest and less wealthy people know how to match colours in their clothes and like to be surrounded by nice things at home.  Even the smallest places are decorated with items from our handicraft, which is so much varied from the North to the South of Italy, due to the historical fragmentation at which I hinted above.  Even the smallest window in the smallest village has its handmade lace curtain and its pot of geranium.  And that lace is usually blown up on a sea background or a mountain one.  This is my Italy, the one I really love, made up with Culture and Society strictly linked together.    
 

Paola Pica's novel Errors of Evaluation is published on 26th July 2016 and available to preorder now.

Blurb
Francesca's presence pervades the lives of those she meets. She leaves an indelible mark, the true nature of her personality revealed through other people's encounters with her. Her boldness as a spoilt child. Her temporary (and just) suffering as the victim of a shrink - an ambiguous and even more unscrupulous person than her in grasping anything graspable. And the more than explicit revelation of her blind egocentrism, because of which she ignores the one person who has tried tirelessly to help her. Three very different characters tell the same story about the enigmatic woman who has entered the lives, each one illuminating who Francesca really is, from their own point of view. Each character has made an error of evaluation which they realise has prejudiced their lives and their relationships. An omniscient narrator will have the final say. This is the first version in English of Errors of Evaluation by the Italian writer Paola Pica.