Right now I'm reading...

Right now I'm reading... Taylor Swift: The Whole Story by Chas Newkey-Burden.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Something From Tiffany's by Melissa Hill.

I felt this book started off a little slow.  It was nothing different from the average chick-lit books with a Christmas twist.  Set in New York the reader meets two guys trying to sort their Christmas presents.  Both buy gifts from the famous Tiffany's store but things go wrong when their gifts get mixed up.

For a while I felt like nothing much was happening but around half way through the book the story really picked up pace and there were lots of twists and turns making the book really interesting.  I got to a point where I thought the plot would be quite predictable but then things took an unexpected turn and I really enjoyed reading until the end.

There's not as many festive details as I would like to read in a Christmas book, but then a lot of the story takes place after New Year so that makes sense.

There are lots of very likeable characters in the book. I really enjoyed reading Rachel's story and couldn't wait for her to find out the truth about her gift.

All in all this is a sweet story perfect for Christmas, full of romantic proposals and a little touch of festive cheer.

The back page blurb:
Doesn't every girl dream of getting . . . something from Tiffany's?
It's Christmas Eve. And on 5th Avenue in New York City, two very different men are shopping for gifts for the women they love. 
Gary is buying his girlfriend Rachel a charm bracelet. Partly to thank her for paying for their holiday-of-a-lifetime to New York. But mainly because he's left his Christmas shopping far too late.
Whereas Ethan's looking for something a little more special - an engagement ring for the first woman to have made him happy since he lost the love of his life.
But when the two men's shopping bags get confused, and Rachel somehow ends up with Ethan's ring, the couples' lives become intertwined. And, as Ethan tries to reunite the ring with the woman it was actually intended for, he finds it trickier than expected. 
Does fate have other ideas for the couples? Or is there simply a bit of Tiffany's magic in the air ...

Title: Something From Tiffany's
Author: Melissa Hill

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

This Is A Love Story by Jessica Thompson.

So it's no big surprise that this story is a romantic one.  But when I say romantic I actually mean achingly romantic.  This is the kind of book that has you in tears, desperate to find out what will happen in the end, and getting butterflies of excitement when you think the story is going to come to it's conclusion.

It started off as a very pleasant read where you meet Sienna and Nick and learn how they both love one another, yet neither has any knowledge that the other shares their feelings.  But by the time you get a little more into the story it becomes addictive to read.  I just had to know how things would turn out.  At one point I thought I had guessed the ending, only to be thrown totally the other way and ending up in floods of tears.

Sienna and Nick are such loveable characters.  They are so ordinary which makes them so real and easy to read about.  I particularly loved Sienna, I thought she had a huge heart and her relationship with her father really touched me.  He was such an inspiration in the way he refused to feel restrained by his illness and instead did his utmost to explore the outside world without ever taking a step past the front door.

I love a book that takes you on an emotional journey and this one certainly did, from romance and friendship to hurt and loss, it was a roller-coaster of a read and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Don't discount this book as just another love story: it's so much more than that.

The back page blurb:
This is a love story. 
Boy meets girl and girl falls for boy - that much is true. 
But when Sienna meets Nick it's not the way it happens in love stories. It's because of a squirrel on water skis...
She sees Nick's dangerous brown eyes and thinks,
Who will be there to catch Sienna when she falls? She is so fragile. She has so many secrets, and he is not that serious.
Funny and sad, this is the story of two people destined never to come together in the great love affair they crave more than anything else.

Title: This Is A Love Story
Author: Jessica Thompson

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Callings Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews.

Snuggle up beside your tree and read this wonderful story to get you feeling fabulously festive.

If you're looking for a heart-warming story packed full of Christmas cheer then you need to read this novel from the Queen of chick-lit Carole Matthews.

We meet Cassie Smith, who after being made redundant and struggling to find a new job decides to make her love of the Christmas season into a career and starts up a business to help people create their perfect Christmas.

There are loads of lovely characters in this book, from millionaire Carter to the wonderful Jim, Cassie's boyfriend.  Jim was my favourite character, he does a very honourable job working in a young offender's institute and is the perfect boyfriend, being loyal, reliable and romantic.

As always with Christmas books written by Carole Matthews you are guaranteed a story stuffed full of festivities, and this book really does get you in the mood for Christmas.  Not only does Cassie's Calling Mrs Christmas business means she's wrapping presents, decorating trees and organising Christmas parties; she also takes a trip to Lapland.  Reading about Lapland was so interested, it sounds amazing.  Then to top it off there's an idyllic family Christmas to end the story.

This books explores what Christmas might be like for people who have money to throw away compared to those who have nothing at all and really makes you think for yourself what the truly important things are at Christmas time.

There is friendship, romance and family relationships a plenty in this story, all tied together with very likeable characters.  A really heart-warming story.

The back page blurb:
Cassie Smith has been out of work for a while but she has an idea. Drawing on her love of Christmas, she begins charging for small things: wrapping presents; writing cards; tree-decorating. She's soon in huge demand and Cassie's business, Calling Mrs Christmas, is born.
Carter Randall wants to make Christmas special for his children, so he enlists Cassie's help, and his lavish requests start taking up all her time. Thank goodness she can rely on her loving partner Jim to handle the rest of her clients.
When millionaire Carter asks Cassie to join his family on a trip to Lapland, she knows she shouldn't go . . . Suddenly Cassie finds herself facing a heart-breaking choice that could change her entire life.

Title: Calling Mrs Christmas
Author: Carole Matthews

Saturday, 7 December 2013

I Heart Christmas by Lindsey Kelk.

I love the main character Angela and I love Christmas so I just knew I would love this book and I was not disappointed.  Everything about this book was in keeping with the fantastic escapism that every I Heart book promises you.  Everywhere Angela goes it's guaranteed that mayhem with follow.  Reading about her adventures is so entertaining, it will have you laughing out loud.

I adore the 'I Heart' series of books and couldn't wait for the next instalment.  In this book we see Angela "Christmas the shit out of [herself]" (her words not mine!) and knowing what can happen when Angela gets involved, I just knew things would get exciting.

Not only is Angela taking on new challenges at work, she's also moving house, has unexpected house guests and plans to hit the New York Christmas scene hard!

We meet all of the much loved I Heart characters.  Once again Alex outdoes himself as the most romantic boyfriend you could wish for.  Jenny is full of life, opinions and pushiness and we see Louisa let herself go and enjoy all New York has to offer at Christmas.  We even see Angela's parents make an appearance.

Parts of this book are so so romantic I was melting whilst reading it.  And there is an obscene amount of festive loveliness sprinkled throughout the pages.

Angela might be ever so slightly crazy, definitely a bit neurotic and hopeless at dealing with problems but I adore everything about her.  She's a real hero in every book and an inspiration that no matter how badly things turn out, and how embarrassed you might feel, you can always carry on with your head held high.

This is a must read if you need an uplifting inspirational book absolutely chocced full of festive yumminess.

The back page blurb:
Angela’s planning her very own fairytale of New York…
• Enormous Christmas tree
• Eggnog
• Eccentric British traditions
• Gorgeous man
But Santa’s throwing her a few curveballs – new job (as if it’s not mental enough already), new baby-craze from her best friend Jenny, and Alex determined they should grow up and settle down. Once friends start turning up uninvited on her doorstep (and leading her astray), can Angela really have a merry little Christmas? So much for happy holidays – something’s got to give…

Title: I Heart Christmas
Author: Lindsey Kelk
I Heart Series #6

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Billy And Me by Giovanna Fletcher.

I loved this book.  Right from the first page I was hooked and could not wait to keep turning pages until I found out more about Sophie.  I loved everything about her character.  From being a shy child she had found a place to work which brought her happiness, both through the work itself and the people she worked with.

Then all of a sudden, Billy falls into her life and everything changes. The story was just so romantic. Page after page was full of the twists and turns that every relationship goes through and so cleverly written I found myself flicking between which character I agreed with, never quite sure who was in the wrong and who was overreacting.

The ides that an ordinary waitress from a small town could fall in love with a Hollywood movie start and get whisked away into his showbiz world could seem a little bit unrealistic but everything about the way the story is written is so believable that I didn't question it once.

I was in tears reading this book, it is probably the most romantic novel I have read all year.  One of my favourite lines from the book (and there were so many beautiful moments it was hard to choose) is when Billy states: "I would tell her that my world is colourless without her in it, and that, from the moment I met her, she was all I ever wanted."

I feel like this was such an honest book, based simply on a relationship between two people.  There were ups and downs, romance and jealously, hurt and loneliness.  It was true and heartfelt and therefore a pleasure to read. I would seriously recommend this to any bookworm.

The back page blurb:
Sophie May has a secret.
One that she's successfully kept for years. It's meant that she's had to give up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world to stay in her little village, living with her mum and working in the local teashop.
But then she meets the gorgeous Billy - an actor with ambitions to make it to the top. And when they fall in love, Sophie is whisked away from the comfort of her life into Billy's glamorous - but ruthless - world.
Their relationship throws Sophie right into the spotlight after years of shying away from attention. Can she handle the constant scrutiny that comes with being with Billy? And most of all, is she ready for her secret heartbreak to be discovered and shared with the nation?

Title: Billy And Me
Author: Giovanna Fletcher

Friday, 29 November 2013

Lost Dogs And Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon.

So here's the thing... I'm a cat person.  Dogs are okay but give me a purring cat any day.  So the fact that I fell in love with this book, despite it being all about those fluffy little canines must mean it's a good book!

The story was just delightful to read, all of the characters were charming and I particularly fell in love with Rachel and Natalie.  Both their stories were so believable and I could relate to them on so many levels.

This is my first time reading a Lucy Dillon book and I absolutely loved her writing style.  I was whizzing through the pages because I just couldn't put the book down.

I was worried that being about a rescue centre for dogs, the story would have me in tears because I really don't like reading about animals in distress, but this book was so heart warming that even the sad tales had an optimistic ending.

There were so many topics covered in this book, from animals to divorce, babies, romance, friendship and families.  I really believe there is something in this book for everyone.  It's a lovely chick-lit book to read that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy (and pining for a dog of your own - even if you are a crazy cat lady like me!)

The back page blurb:
When the abandoned strays from a local dogs' home are matched with brand new owners, it turns out it might not just be the dogs who need rescuing.
Rachel's aunt has left her a house, a Border Collie and, despite knowing nothing about dogs, a crowded kennel. But since her life has collapsed she's not sure she can deal with any more lost souls.
Zoe's ex-husband has given their children a puppy. The kids are in love, but she's the one stuck training Toffee the impossible Labrador. She's nearly at the end of her tether - until Toffee leads her to a handsome doctor . . .
Meanwhile Natalie and Johnny's marriage hasn't been easy since they started trying for a baby. But is a fridge-raiding, sofa-stealing Basset hound like Bertie really the child substitute they're looking for?
As the new owners' paths cross on the town's dog-walking circuits, their lives become interwoven. And they - and their dogs - learn some important lessons about loyalty, companionship and unconditional love . . .

Title: Lost Dogs And Lonely Hearts
Author: Lucy Dillon

A Cinderella Christmas by Holly Kingston.

If you're looking for a light hearted Christmas novella that will make you giggle then you need to get your hands on a copy of A Cinderella Christmas.

It's a brilliant story based around the cast of a Christmas pantomime. The heroine of the story is the very loveable back-end-of-a-cow Lucy. She's down to earth of full of the everyday insecurities that plague us all. The other leading lady in the book is a diva and a nasty piece of work called Charmaine; not the type of person I would fancy for a friend, but enjoyable to read about non-the-less.

I loved Holly Kingston's writing style, it's so light-hearted and really easy to get into.  I was drawn into the story from the first few pages and really enjoyed reading the whole novella.

This novella has everything you could wish for in a festive read... it's full of Christmas sparkle, with big doses of humour, friendship and romance. And there's even an adorable little dog who dresses like an elf, for those of who like like a little canine influence in a story!

Oh and did I mention it's set in Manchester - which being a Mancunian I love :)

I look forward to reading more from Holly in the future.

The back page blurb:
This year’s Cinderella pantomime is the hottest production in town. What’s more, Lucy is starring alongside Ryan Aspall: famous TV actor, sex symbol and potential love of her entire life. One teeny problem – Lucy is tripping the light fantastic as … the back end of the comedy cow. Surely nothing kills a flirty moment quite like wearing a massive set of udders? 

At least she has the support of glamorous (if potentially flammable) Charmaine; a reality star diva of a Cinderella, who Lucy is completely fascinated by. But behind the fame and beauty, Charmaine is not all she seems. 
With more drama off the stage than on it, and everyone wanting to be star of the show, will Lucy find the confidence to make it out of the cow suit and into the spotlight this Christmas? 

Title: A Cinderella Christmas
Author: Holly Kingston

Buy A Cinderella Christmas here.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Just For Christmas by Scarlett Bailey.

If you want to read a Christmas book packed full of festive cheer then this is the book for you.

We meet Alex who moves from one end of the country to another in order to try and escape her recent heartbreak and troubled family life.  Unfortunately for Alex, it doesn't take long for her past to catch up with her.

Throughout this story Alex grows in confidence, from at first seeming quite vulnerable, she develops her sense of style, and takes confidence from her new relationships, becoming a much happier and fulfilled person.

The town Alex finds herself moving to, at first seems a little bit 'clicky' and I wasn't sure how Alex would be accepted by the locals but it soon becomes clear what a lovely, homely place Poldore is.

This book is stuffed full of Christmas romance, whether it's the town's nativity, several rather handsome men or the fake snow and friendships. (There's even a lighthouse!)  But there is also drama and moments that will make you want to cry.  And there are plenty of engaging characters who you will truly believe in.

Every little detail of this story is warm and engaging which makes it a wonderful page-tuning read.

The back page blurb:
When Alex Munro learns that the love of her life is getting married to another girl, all she wants is to be alone - and as far away from Edinburgh as possible.
Moving to a Cornish cottage, which comes complete with the world's scruffiest dog, Alex finds that her new neighbours are determined to involve her in their madcap Christmas festivities.
Then she meets her sexy neighbour Ruan - and somehow Alex doesn't want to be alone this Christmas after all. But having lost one fiancé, Ruan has no intention of letting anyone get close to him again...

Title: Just For Christmas
Author: Scarlett Bailey

Meet Me Under The Mistletoe by Abby Clements.

This was such a sweet story set at Christmas-time.
We meet Laurie who is a single London girl, living in a wonderful housing block which seems to be filled with lots of friendly neighbours.  She loses her job and feels in need of a break exactly the same time as her childhood friend Rachel needs to leave her cottage in the country and stay in London for a while.  The story sees Rachel and her idyllic family house swap with Laurie in the run up to Christmas.

This book reminded me a little of one of my favourite films, The Holiday, but despite drawing comparisons, Meet Me Under The Mistletoe is filled with it's own strong characters and unique plot twists.

I really enjoyed Abby's bubbly characters, it felt like each person who was introduced to the story was warm and engaging.  I loved that alongside the romantic storyline, this book was essentially a story of friendship that survives crossed wires and hurt feelings, and despite the fact that Rachel and Laurie are not always closely in touch with each other their friendship survives years.

You'll see dramas unfold around Rachel's daughter, her mother-in-law whilst Rachel is doubting the security of her marriage.  Meanwhile Laurie is trying to rediscover herself in a new town whilst having conflicting feelings over which man is right for her. 

There's a lot going on in this book, but it's very easy to follow, and really enjoyable to read.  It's filled with Christmas cheer, romance and friendship, a lovely chick-lit read.

The back page blurb:
Childhood friends Laurie and Rachel used to be inseparable - but their lives have taken very different paths since they picked up their A-level results together. Now thirty-five, they have all but fallen out of touch; glamorous single girl Laurie is based in London and dedicated to her career in fashion; Rachel seemingly living the family idyll in Yorkshire.
But when Rachel's mother-in-law needs urgent treatment in London, and disasters at work and in her love life mean Laurie needs to flee, a house swap falls into place. Soon gentle Rachel is far from the village bake sales, braving the city's mean streets while trying to keep her marriage and family together; while Laurie attempts to work an Aga, befriend the wary village locals - and forget the man who seems intent on breaking her heart. Will their relationships survive this test? And will they make it home for Christmas?

Title: Meet Me Under The Mistletoe
Author: Abby Clements

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Welcome To My World by Miranda Dickinson.

This is another lovely book from Miranda Dickinson.  In it we meet Harri who is an armchair traveller with big dreams about where her future could take her.

The book is filled with lovely characters, and is set in a very friendly town which you image being a wonderful place to live.
I really felt for Harri who had such strong dreams yet struggled to allow herself to live them.  She took brave steps and in the end reaped the rewards she deserved.

Each chapter of the book begins with a snippet of Harri who has locked herself in a toilet cubicle after some kind of embarrasing situation, yet you don't find out what this was until the end which was a really interesting twist.

I didn't realise until I picked up this book and saw the cover how much of a part Venice would play in the story. It's always been somewhere I'd like to visit so I loved reading about the details of it.

This is a brilliant chick-lit read, it was really enjoyable and easy to read, filled with romance, friendship and big dreams.

The back page blurb:
Close your eyes and imagine the world is your oyster...

And now imagine never seeing it. Welcome to Harriet Langton's world. All her life she's dreamt of travelling the globe - fate always got in the way.

Working as a travel agent, the closest Harri comes to her dream destination of Venice is booking the trip for someone else. But everything changes when travel fanatic Alex drops in.

With her boyfriend Rob tied up with work, Harri is persuaded to help Alex in his quest for love. But in her attempts to help, Harri soon discovers that she's alienating those around her.

Desperate to leave her life behind, will her dreams finally come true? Or will Harri's leap of faith be her biggest mistake yet?

Title: Welcome To My World
Author: Miranda Dickinson

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

There's More To Life Than Cupcakes by Poppy Dolan.

In this book we meet Ellie, who is married but 'sprogless'.  In between her musings on potential motherhood, she works at a food magazine called 'Crumbs' and attends a baking course in the evenings.  There's a lot going on in Ellie's life which makes for a fun and interesting read.  

Ellie is wonderful, warm characters who has you engaged in the book from the start.  Her best friend is a really colourful character, and I loved both her and her husband Pete's families. 

Ellie is at the 30-something age I am where people start asking you when you're going to start a family, and I just stare that them blankly wondering myself what the answer is?!  I adored reading Ellie's musings debating should I or should I not have a baby yet.  Her ramblings are completely over the top, yet totally understandable which I loved.

There are some fantastically funny moments in this book, I was snorting out loud reading about the wedding ring which could be used as a hoola-hoop for a bee.  You will definitely have a smile on your face when reading this book.

My only wish is that Crumbs magazine was real because I would be running out to buy it straight away.

This is Poppy Dolan's first book and after reading it I really hope she goes on to write more.  It's a wonderful book to read if you need cheering up, it's packed full of loveable characters, friendship, romance, and cake.  What more could you want!

The back page blurb:
Ellie Redford has a husband, a job and a home. According to the rest of the world, it’s baby o’clock already. Shame life doesn't come with a recipe… 

Ellie knows that starting a family with lovely husband Pete would be an amazing adventure. Pete would make a brilliant dad and she’d have an excuse to eat shed loads of Cherry Bakewell. But Ellie’s bestie would rather she was up at 3 a.m. with a bottle of Malibu, not formula. And with redundancies looming, Ellie’s boss isn’t exactly going to throw her a shower if she disappears for a year, with pay. 

While Ellie juggles her feelings (and everyone else’s) as competently as a drunken clown, she finds herself signing up for a baking class, alongside the young, free and sizzling hot Joe. As they work buns and shape tarts, is there more to their friendship than a shared appreciation of Paul Hollywood? 

Ellie’s soufflĂ©s may be rising, but her personal life is one big soggy mess. If she doesn't make a decision soon, she may just lose everything that matters to her. Maybe it's time to take off the pinny and face up to the truth: there’s more to life than cupcakes… 

Title: There's More To Life Than Cupcakes
Author: Poppy Dolan

Buy There's More To Life Than Cupcakes here

Getting Rooted In New Zealand by Jamie Baywood.

Despite sometimes feeling like a work of fiction this book is actually based on the true story of Jamie Baywood's travels around New Zealand.  Written in a diary form, Jamie shares with her readers tales about the jobs she worked whilst travelling and the people she met along the way.

I have never visited New Zealand and knew little about it before picking up this book.  Throughout my journey reading Jamie's story I have picked up a few interesting snippets of information about the country, and can understand how easy it would have been for Jamie to get confused trying to understand the accents and dialects spoken over there.

It was a quick and easy read, and will take you to some interesting places meeting some quirky characters along the way.

The back page blurb:
Craving change and lacking logic, at 26, Jamie, a cute and quirky Californian, impulsively moves to New Zealand to avoid dating after reading that the country’s population has 100,000 fewer men. In her journal, she captures a hysterically honest look at herself, her past and her new wonderfully weird world filled with curious characters and slapstick situations in unbelievably bizarre jobs. It takes a zany jaunt to the end of the Earth and a serendipitous meeting with a fellow traveler before Jamie learns what it really means to get rooted.

Title: Getting Rooted in New Zealand
Author: Jamie Baywood

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Through It All by Kristyn Lewis.

If I told you this book was about domestic violence, financial difficulties and marriage breakdown you might think it would be a depressing read, but Through It All is a book about three strong women and the intensity of their friendship.

The characters are all very interesting.  I particularly enjoyed reading about Kate, who is supporting her husband through a campaign to become elected into government. Amy, lives with her husband and daughter in what she thought would be the perfect relationship, and Waverly is struggling to run her own business, a cafe making delicious treats including her near famous donut muffins, but without any support through her financial troubles.

I really enjoyed reading this book and once I got into the story I was holding my breath along with the characters, whizzing through the pages hoping for a happy ending.

Despite the heartbreak and worry experienced by Kate, Amy and Waverly the story is an uplifting one which shows that with the support of friends we can overcome the darkest events.

The back page blurb:
Waverly Brown is the anchor that keeps her tight circle of friends together. Loyal and generous with her time, she would do anything for Kate and Amy but she can't bring herself to tell even her best friends the truth about her bakery and her increasing debt. She's so consumed with her own worries that she almost misses what is right in front of her; something is wrong with Amy, terribly wrong.
Try as they might to reach out, Waverly and Kate can't make Amy open up to them. She refuses to admit there's anything wrong but Waverly is convinced Amy is in trouble and she's terrified. Can Waverly convince her friend to save herself before it's too late?

Title: Through It All
(Published un the U.S. as How Lucky You Are)
Author: Kristyn Lewis

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty.

This is a page-turner of a book.  Whilst the initial few chapters took all my concentration in order to keep up with the introduction of so many characters, once I had got used to who everyone was the real drama started.

Straight away you are intrigued by the secret in the envelope and once this is revealed things only get more interesting.  The storyline keeps you reading and turning pages throughout the book and there are twists and turns all the way through.

The characters are very strong and you really feel like you get to know them, especially Rachel and Cecilia.  I love how all the character's lives intertwine with one and other and as the story unfolds you see the links between the characters deepen.

There is a philosophical side to this book, and the epilogue in particular really makes you think.

All in all I really enjoyed this book and once I'd got into it, I didn't want to have to put it down until I'd seen how events unfolded. It was fast-paced and thought-provoking, a must-read.

The back page blurb:
Mother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband's hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death.
Curious, she opens it - and time stops.
John-Paul's letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.
Cecilia - betrayed, angry and distraught - wants to do the right thing, but right for who? If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through her heart. But if she reveals her husband's secret, she will hurt those she loves most . . .

Title: The Husband's Secret
Author: Liane Moriarty

Friday, 1 November 2013

Short Stories: Last Christmas by Talli Roland.

This is a wonderfully festive novella by the fabulous Talli Roland.  I was literally hooked from the start of this story and couldn't stand it when I had to put the book down to leave for work, I was just desperate to hear about 'the proposal'.  

Lucy is a brilliant character, she's so carefree and is happy to take risks in order to move her life on from the heartbreak she has suffered in the past.  There are lots of loveable characters in this book and despite it being only a short story I feel I've really got to know them all.

On the Christmas side - this book was the perfect festive read, it started by describing London at Christmas in a way that made me want to run straight down there and join in with the festivities.  There were constant Christmas references throughout the story, and the story ends with the Christmas Party to rival all other Christmas parties.

Packed full of hope this is an inspirational story of 'moving on' and will leave you feeling warm, fuzzy and totally festive.

The back page blurb:
Eager to banish the ghost of Christmas past - when her boyfriend dumped her on the streets of Paris - Lucy is determined to have the best Christmas ever. She rallies friends and family for an epic celebration that just happens to fall on the same day as her ex's festive wedding. Furious at how she's been treated, Lucy can't help relishing the party v wedding smackdown. But when the wedding is threatened and only Lucy can help, can she find the spirit inside to save the day, or will this Christmas be even more disastrous than the last?

Title: Last Christmas
Author: Talli Roland

Buy Last Christmas here.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Shopaholic Abroad by Sophie Kinsella.

This is the second book featuring the fabulously neurotic Rebecca Bloomwood and takes her shopping obsession all the way to New York.

She is now in a relationship with the work obsessed Luke and together they take a trip to the shopping capital of the world. 

I absolutely love the backwards logic Becky applies to shopping, she could talk herself into buying everything and despite the item being nothing she would ever need in her life, she always manages to convince herself that she really needs it.  She gets sucked into offers even though they're not good value for money at all.  And once again we see her debt mounting up.

Becky takes some knocks in this book and despite all her faults, I love her character.  Even when things are her fault, you can't help but pray that everything turns out well for her.

I really enjoyed this book, and am firmly getting into the Shopaholic series.  The books don't fail to disappoint when you're in need of some easy-to-read chick-lit that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

The back page blurb:
For Rebecca Bloomwood, life is peachy. She has a job on morning TV, her bank manager is actually being nice to her, and when it comes to spending money, her new motto is Buy Only What You Need - and she's really (sort of) sticking to it. The icing on the brioche is that she's been offered a chance to work in New York.
New York! The Museum of Modern Art! The Guggenheim! The Metropolitan Opera House! And Becky does mean to go to them all. Honestly. It's just that it seems silly not to check out a few other famous places first. Like Saks. And Bloomingdales. And Barneys. And one of those fantastic sample sales where you can get a Prada dress for $10. Or was it $100? Is Becky too dazzled to care?

Title: Shopaholic Abroad
Author: Sophie Kinsella

No-One Ever Has Sex On A Tuesday by Tracy Bloom.

This is my first Tracy Bloom book and straight away I fell in love with the main character Katy.  She's totally normal, yet just a little bit lost with a tiny bit of crazy thrown in there for good measure.

In this book we go on a journey with Katy on her road to Motherhood. I love reading books involving pregnancy as I've never been pregnant and so the whole subject totally fascinates me.

This book is full of romantic engagements, secrets and heartbreak together with some funny and embarrassing moments.  I didn't really know which way the story was going to go and couldn't guess then ending.

With lots of fun characters to meet, this book will put a smile on your face and keep you turning pages until the end.

The back page blurb:
Childhood sweethearts Matthew and Katy agree they must never see each other again after they end up in bed together following a school re-union. So all is forgotten... until eight months later when a shock meeting at an antenatal class forces them to confront the fact that Matthew could be the father of Katy's baby. Oblivious to the mayhem unfolding, Matthew's highly-strung wife frets over giving birth to twins and Katy’s much younger boyfriend refuses to take fatherhood seriously.
Love and life are messy but Katy and Matthew take things to a whole new level as deep emotions begin to resurface and hormones run riot.
How will they navigate their way through this almighty cock-up?

Title: No-One Ever Has Sex On A Tuesday
Author: Tracy Bloom

An Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson.

I love a good Milly Johnson book and I wasn't disappointed with this classic Milly Johnson tale.

Like all her other books in the 'seasons' range this one was packed full of loveable characters who are larger than life yet at the same time just as normal as you and I.  

In this book we meet Floz who moves in with Juliet and they become firm friends.  Plus we see love interests emerge in the form of Juliet's brother Guy and his wrestling friend Steve.  These love interests and budding new friendships allow the friends to work through their previous heartbreak and look towards more positive futures.

The autumnal setting for the book is lovely.  There are plenty of warm, fuzzy moments in this book, plus a couple of twists I did not see coming.  All together it was a story full of characters which intrigued me and I really enjoyed reading the book, so much I wanted to whiz through it to find out how everything worked out in the end.

The back page blurb:
After a bruising divorce, headstrong Juliet Miller invests in a flat and advertises for a flatmate, little believing that in her mid-thirties she'll find anyone suitable. But along comes self-employed copywriter Floz, raw from her own relationship split, and the two woman hit it off. When Juliet's twin brother Guy meets Floz, he is overcome with a massive crush. But being a shy, gentle giant, he communicates so clumsily with her as to give her the opposite impression. Guy's best friend Steve has always had a secret, unrequited crush on Juliet. After a night of too much wine, Steve and Juliet end up in bed, after moaning about the lack of sex in their lives. Convinced that Juliet doesn't feel the same way, Steve agrees to a 'just-sex' relationship, until they can both hook their dream partners. Just when Guy has finally plucked up the courage to tell Floz how he feels, he finds she has rekindled an old romance. Floz has never had much love in her life and is obviously thirsty for affection. She loves the whole Miller family, from Juliet and Guy's warm, loving parents, to their ancient one-eyed black cat. But can Guy turn Floz's affection for his family into something more - into love for him? Then Juliet makes a series of discoveries which will turn the lives of all four friends upside-down and turns that Autumn into a season where love can be harvested.

Title: An Autumn Crush
Author: Milly Johnson

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Take A Look At Me Now by Miranda Dickinson.

In this book we meet Nell, who after finding out she has been made redundant decides to leave the sensible decisions behind and take a trip of a lifetime.

It's such a feel good book.  Nell is a lovely, warm character who despite being as insecure as the rest of us in some ways, makes brave, confident decisions to make the best of a bad situation.  In this way she can be an inspiration to all of us.

The characters are wonderful.  I would love to flat share with Nell's cousin and am sure I would have adored the customers in Annie's who sounded so much fun.

As someone who this year went to America for the first time and has well and truly got the America-bug I was delighted that this book based in San Francisco.  It's not somewhere I've ever really given much thought to visiting, but having read the detail of Miranda Dickinson's description of it, I'm finding myself daydreaming about what a fantastic trip I could have there.

Coincidentally, just like Nell, my boyfriend has always dreamed of opening his own American diner so this book held a special fascination for me.  I loved the description of the diner and I challenge anyone to read this book without drooling over some of the dishes served at Annie's; they sound incredibly naughty and very delicious!

One thing I loved about this book was that I couldn't guess the ending.  There were plenty of moments when I had a good go, but it was far from predictable which made it such an interesting read.

I can't recommend this book enough.  It's stuffed full of fun and friendship, with a big dollop of romance thrown in too.  But most of all this is an inspirational story that allows you to believe that even when things get tough you always have the chance to turn them around.  A wonderful chick-lit read.

The back page blurb:
What a difference a day makes...Nell Sullivan has always been known as 'Miss Five-Year Plan'. But when she finds herself jobless and newly single on the same day, Nell decides it is time to stop planning and start taking chances. Nell blows her redundancy cheque on a trip of lifetime to a place where anything is possible - San Francisco. There she meets a host of colourful characters, including the intriguing and gorgeous Max. Very soon the city begins to feel like Nell's second home. But when it's time to return to London, will she leave the 'new Nell' behind? And can the magic of San Francisco continue to sparkle thousands of miles away?

Title: Take A Look At Me Now
Author: Miranda Dickinson

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Instructions For A Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell.

I have a confession to make... I only picked up this book because the lovely people at O2 gave it away as a freebie... being able to walk out of WHSmiths without paying for a book is hugely exciting!

I wouldn't normally have chosen this book, as to be honest I never seem to enjoy the books that Richard and Judy choose to be part of their book club.  I seem to find them slow and hard to get in to.

Instructions For A Heatwave was no different.  I found it hard to get into the storyline, there seemed to be too many characters which I found confusing at first.  The story jumps around a lot, one minute being in the present tense then jumping back to childhood, which with the confusion between characters just made it difficult to read.

I love a story with a mystery that keeps you turning pages, but somehow this mystery just didn't grab my interest.  And I found that I couldn't relate to the characters.

I've heard lots of good things about this book but unfortunately it just wasn't for me.

The back page blurb:
It's July 1976. In London, it hasn't rained for months, gardens are filled with aphids, water comes from a standpipe, and Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he's going round the corner to buy a newspaper. He doesn't come back. The search for Robert brings Gretta's children - two estranged sisters and a brother on the brink of divorce - back home, each wih different ideas as to where their father might have gone. None of them suspects that their mother might have an explanation that even now she cannot share.

Title: Instructions For A Heatwave
Author: Maggie O'Farrell

Love & The Goddess by Mary Elizabeth Coen.

I chose to read this book as I saw it compared to Eat, Pray, Love which is one of my favourite books.  There are a few similarities between the two novels, they both include women on a spiritual journey travelling abroad, enjoying their food and trying to decide if they are ready to love again following a separation. Unfortunately I didn't find the characters in this book as strong as Eat, Pray, Love.

But without making comparisons between this book and any other, in it's own right it is essentially the story of Kate, who following a separation, tries to rediscover her priorities in life, by travelling, cooking and dipping her toe into the world of internet dating.

Whilst the book was enjoyable enough to read I felt it lacked the spark needed to make it stand out from any other.  To me it was an average example of a chick-lit read.  For my personal taste I would have preferred more emphasis to be placed on the spiritual aspect of the book; I really enjoy those sentences that make you stop reading and think.  Maybe that's what I was hoping for here but didn't find.  But all in all a pleasant enough read.

The back page blurb:
When cookery teacher Kate Canavan’s perfect life falls apart she moves to Galway City. Kate’s friend James urges her to love and nurture herself, but mischievous Ella persuades her to dust off her unused dating skills. So Kate explores the world of on- line dating using the name of a Greek Goddess. In the midst of a mad dating frenzy, Kate has a traumatic health scare which convinces her to drop everything and go in search of a guru. Travelling with Ella, she visits a spiritual healer in Brazil, only to find Ella is more interested in having fun than seeking enlightenment. Next stop Peru, where a shaman tells her how to harness the energy of the Goddess and the Divine Feminine. Kate’s journey of self-discovery continues apace after she returns home and events unfold in a surprising manner as she learns to think for herself.

Title: Love & The Goddess
Author: Mary Elizabeth Coen

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Confessions Of A Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.

I loved this book.  I have to admit I'm a bit of a shopping addict, especially where books are concerned.  My brain really doesn't comprehend that I can ever have too many books.  Luckily I can control myself a little bit better than Rebecca can.  I absolutely love the way that she talks herself into buying things she really doesn't need or that aren't good value, getting tempted by things like Boots Advantage Points or Sale signs.

I found the character of Rebecca to be very likeable. She is always getting herself into ridiculous situations as she doesn't seem able to say when she's wrong, instead she creates hilarious white lies to cover up her shortfalls.

I thought the book would be more romantic than it was.  There is a love interest in the end but the main part of the story, as the title suggests, is about shopping - a pretty good subject for chick-lit really!

This was a really easy read of a book.  Absolutely perfect for when you want a funny, easy to read book.  Now I just have to read the others in the series...

The back page blurb:
Meet Rebecca Bloomwood.
She's a journalist. She spends her working life telling others how to manage their money.
She spends her leisure time ... shopping.
Retail therapy is the answer to all her problems. She knows she should stop, but she can't. She tries Cutting Back, she tries Making More Money. But neither seems to work. The stories she concocts become more and more fantastic as she tries to untangle her increasingly dire financial difficulties. Her only comfort is to buy herself something - just a little something...
Can Becky ever escape from this dream world, find true love, and regain the use of her Switch card?

Title: Confessions Of A Shopaholic (previously published as The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic).
Author: Sophie Kinsella

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella.

This was my first Sophie Kinsella book and it certainly won't be my last.  It's a brilliant read, a totally fabulous example of chick-lit. Right from the start I was hooked on Samantha's story.  Sophie Kinsella writes in such a light-hearted breezy way that it's impossible not to enjoy the story.  Samantha is a great main character, she's funny and very normal. The great thing about this book is that everyone can relate to it, we might not all be high-powered lawyers but we have all struggled with a washing machine that has more controls than a space ship!

The family that Samantha move in with are just the right side of crazy.  I was holding my breath that when the truth came out at the end of the story they wouldn't throw her out.  This book has a lovely chunk of romance in it but mostly it's about a girl who's lost her way in life; and I think we've all been there at some point haven't we.

All in all this is a fun, light-hearted and very easy to read book.  Perfect for when you need some heart-warming entertainment.

The back page blurb:
Samantha is a high-powered lawyer in London. She works all hours, has no home life, and cares only about getting a partnership.She thrives on the pressure and adrenalin. Until one day... she makes a mistake. A mistake so huge, it'll wreck her career.
She walks right out of the office, gets on the first train she sees, and finds herself in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she is mistaken for the interviewee housekeeper and finds herself being offered the job. They have no idea they've hired a Cambridge-educated lawyer with an IQ of 158 - Samantha has no idea how to work the oven.
Disaster ensues. It's chaos as Samantha battles with the washing machine...the ironing board...and attempts to cook a cordon bleu dinner.But gradually, she falls in love with her new life in a wholly unexpected way.
Will her employers ever discover the truth? Will Samantha's old life ever catch up with her? And if it does...will she want it back?

Title: The Undomestic Goddess
Author: Sophie Kinsella

Sunday, 22 September 2013

50 Facts About Me...

I've never posted anything which isn't book related before but I saw this on the blog of @readinginpeace (see her answers here) and thought I would give it a go myself.... although I'm not sure if I'll be able to think of 50.

I'll warn you now, quite a few of them are book based...

  1. I love reading. (but that's probably obvious from my blog)
  2. I have two cats, Hugo and Anabelle who I think are totally fabulous.
  3. I'm 30 (which still freaks me out, I'm pretty sure I should still be about 19).
  4. I have one tattoo. A bat out of hell.
  5. I live in Manchester.
  6. I'm an only child.
  7. I'm a total chocoholic.
  8. My favourite genre of books is chick-lit but I also enjoy autobiographies, crime novels and general fiction.
  9. I don't drink tea or coffee which most people find bizarre.
  10. I love Meatloaf (the artist not the food) think he's awesome. Hence the Bat Out Of Hell tattoo.
  11. I live with my boyfriend of 5 years.
  12. The most magical book I have ever read is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
  13. My Mum is one of my best friends.
  14. I have about ten tropical fish.
  15. I love dancing around at my Zumba class.
  16. I think Malibu and Diet Coke is ace.
  17. I volunteer with Girl Guiding as a Brownie leader.
    In the fabulous Las Vegas.
  18. Last year I went to Las Vegas and absolutely loved it.  Really want to go back.
  19. My favourite Christmas book is With Love at Christmas by Carole Matthews.
  20. My Brownie leader name is Beauty Owl.
  21. I get really stressed if I miss the trailers before a film at the cinema.  I love seeing which films are coming soon.
  22. I'm not very good at riding my bike.
  23. I love Twitter (@flutterbybat)
  24. I don't enjoy cooking.
  25. I'm partial to a Cherry Coke.
  26. I'm left handed.
  27. The best thriller I've read is Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson. It's a real page turner.
  28. I'm a morning person.
    30. The syphnx cat.
  29. I really enjoy yoga classes.
  30. I think Syphnx cats are really cute (the ones with no fur)
  31. I'd happily be a vegetarian.  Not a big meat fan.
  32. I love photographs.
  33. My Grandad was one of my favourite people in the whole world.
  34. I don't like driving.
  35. I watch Friends every night when I get in bed.
  36. I never leave the house without painted nails.
  37. I went to Paris on my 30th birthday.
  38. I always have a pyramid of toilet rolls in the bathroom.
  39. Numbers confuse me.
    40. Blackpool Illuminations.
  40. I love going to Blackpool illuminations.
  41. I met my boyfriend at Salsa class.
  42. I'm terrified of moths.
  43. My favourite radio station is Capital FM.
  44. I love going to Will Young concerts with my Mum.
  45. I'm a civil servant by day.
  46. I love going to the theatre.  Particularly the Royal Exchange in Manchester.
  47. My favourite series of books is the 'I Heart' series by Lindsey Kelk.
  48. I current favourite programme is Nashville.
  49. I don't like horror films.
  50. I love breaking the spines of new books.
So now you now a bit more about me, whether you want to know or not! I'll be back to book blogs next time I promise!

Killer Queens by Rebecca Chance.

This was my first Rebecca Chance book and I'm happy to say I really enjoyed it.

I didn't know what to expect when I started reading but had heard so many good things about the book that I just had to give it a go.
I don't normally read 'bonkbusters' such as this one, but it was actually a lot of fun, and really good to have a change from my normal more fluffy chick-lit.

The British side of this story feels like it is strongly based on our very own royal family, but whilst it's fun to read making these comparisons the characters are so strong you get whisked into their very own story with them and forget all about what may or may not be our own reality.

I really liked the characters of Lori and Chloe, they were so normal and down-to-earth.  I could really relate to them despite the fact that they are about to become royalty and I am, well, not.

What I really loved about this book was that it's a brilliant escape from real life.  The characters are so vibrant and busy living lives that are so far removed from my own that reading this book really did whisk me off to a royal fairytale land.  The locations in the book sound so exotic you just wish you were there with the characters.

All in all this was a really fun book to read.  I will definitely read more Rebecca Chance books in the future.

But be warned, if you read this book you will never look at a banana the same way again!

What it's all about:
Every little girl grows up dreaming of marrying a prince - but what if the fairy tale turns into a right royal nightmare? Scheming kings, killer queens, evil princes, far-from innocent princesses, secret weddings, runaway brides, illicit affairs, death plots and lashings of steamy sex - it's just another day in the lives of the world's most powerful families. Find out what REALLY goes on behind closed palace doors…

Title: Killer Queens
Author: Rebecca Chance

The Book Blogger Test.

I was tagged in the Book Blogger Test by the lovely @shoefiend1984 and immediately wanted to have a go.  So here are my answers...

1. What are your top three book hates?

  • I hate borrowing books off people who don't want me to bend the spines - it scares me - and I spend the entire time reading worried that I'll accidentally crack it open.
  • Not being able to lend people books I have bought on Kindle.  I love lending books out to other people once I've enjoyed them and although I know you can do this (somehow!) on Kindle its not the same as actually giving someone a book.
  • I don't like reading to a deadline.  I know this makes me a really bad reviewer for publishers/authors but I like to decide what I want to read next, and read it in my own time.  As soon as I HAVE to read a certain book by a certain time it takes all the fun away for me.

2. Describe your perfect reading spot...

Anywhere at home where I can cuddle up under a blanket with one of my cats curled up on my knee. 

3. Tell us three book confessions...
  • I love breaking the spine of a new book.
  • I won't buy anything on Kindle that costs more than a couple of pounds, I'd rather buy an 'actual' book.
  • I'm obsessed with updating my reading progress on Goodreads.

4. When was the last time you cried at a book?

When I sobbed my heart out to 'Love Anthony' by Lisa Genova.

5. How many books are on your bedside table?

When I'm reading a book I carry it with me everywhere, it lives in my handbag by day and then comes to sit next to me by my bed at night as I'll often read before I go to sleep. 
My Kindle often sit by my bed too.

6. What's your favourite snack whilst you're reading?

Chocolate.  Chocolate biscuits or chocolate.  Did I mention chocolate?

7. Name three books you'd recommend to everyone...

With Love At Christmas by Carole Matthews.
Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova.

8. Show us a picture of your favourite shelf on your bookcase...

9. Write how much books mean to you in just 3 words...

Page turning obsession. 

10. What is your biggest reading secret?

I can't stand classics, I know I should love them but I just can't get into the language so it takes me too long to read them which means I get bored. Sorry Jane Austen.

I tag: