Right now I'm reading...

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

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.