I write book reviews, I also write books, and occasionally I write about myself!

Friday, 30 September 2011

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #178

Secret History of a Good Girl - Aimee Carson
Harlequin Presents Extra
In 'Mills & Boon Loves...' Mills and Boon Special Releases
Harlequin UK, 2011
ISBN: 9780263889598

My rating

From the back cover:

"Miami hotel tycoon Paulo Domingues suspects that beneath his new events planner Alyssa Hunt’s southern priss, she’s all passion! He’s determined to seduce the fire out from behind her good-girl exterior..."

Apologies for the amount of time it has taken me to read and review this book. It was the one I was trying to read during my babysitting week (read about that here)! This is Aimee Carson's debut book, and it's fantastic!

The heroine Alyssa is a hard working and very determined event planner hoping to convince suave hotelier Paulo, the hero, to take a chance on her despite her rather sketchy past. Paulo is intrigued by Alyssa, not to mention very attracted to her. He also recognises her capability so gives her a chance to prove herself. Alyssa is also attracted to Paulo but the struggles in her past makes her intent on ignoring the chemistry between the, as she can't let anything ruin the hard work she has put in in order to turn her life around. Paulo can't help but be drawn to Alyssa, she constantly surprises him, however after his disastrous attempt at marriage and his less than happy childhood he knows he can't give her forever. Eventually though, they both give in to their passion and begin a mutually agreed short term affair. But with Alyssa's increasing confidence she soon realises she wants and deserves more.

Oh my, what a fantastic debut by Aimee Carson, I loved it! It really has everything that I like in a good contemporary romance; a feisty heroine whom is far from perfect, snappy dialogue and sizzling chemistry - and I mean sizzling, *that* scene in the elevator... whew!
The romance and relationship between Alyssa and Paulo is actually quite simple, but perfectly done. Aimee's writing flows beautifully, and she has created two great characters. I applaud her for Alyssa's 'bad girl' roots, I loved her!
The book is well written and developed, with plenty of sass and sparkle. I can't wait to read more from Aimee in the future.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #177

The Cinderella Bride - Barbara Wallace
Harlequin Romance
In 'Mills & Boon Loves...' Mills and Boon Special Releases
Harlequin UK, 2011
ISBN: 9780263889598

My rating

From the back cover:

"Secretary Emma O'Rourke keeps her head down and works hard. Now, summoned to bring back the heir of Kent Hotels, she suddenly has to step out of the shadows...
Unshaven and jaded, Gideon Kent has been sailing the world too long. As he docks, he's surprised to find Emma waiting for him.
Until now he's refused to resume the role he was born for... but the oh-so-diligent and pretty Miss O'Rourke might just change his mind….
Gideon Kent will show Emma that Prince Charming certainly does exist!"

This is the second book in the Mills & Boon Loves... anthology (a book so large it's starting to give me wrist ache!) This is my first book by Barbara Wallace and I really enjoyed it.

The heroine Emma is sent to deliver a message to the hero Gideon. Emma is the PA to the hero's grandmother and the message is asking him to attend a meeting with her. Gideon has not had much contact with his influential family for some time, after discovering some very hurtful family secrets. His grandmother tells him it's time for him to take his place running the family business. Although he is reluctant to get involved, he is interested in Emma. Emma is both annoyed at Gideon's rather glib attitude and flustered by his obvious attentions. Gideon takes Emma to New York for business where he also shows her luxury and treats her to a magical night, giving her the opportunity to see and experience things she has never been able to. Emma is wary of relationships after growing up watching her mother jump from one relationship to another, and Gideon is equally as reluctant for anything long term. But there is undeniable attraction between them and they eventually give in to the passion. Emma knows it can never be more than a fling and tries to keep herself distanced from Gideon, and Gideon finds this incredibly frustrating.

This is a really nice story, that I enjoyed reading. The book is written with a beautiful blend of emotion and sweetness, that is very appealing. To me, there seemed to be more focus on the hero and his conflict, I found this really interesting and very well written. The heroine is a wonderful character; hard working and loyal yet not at all a martyr, I couldn't help but like her.
The book also has some wonderful little touches that really brightened up the story i.e. the grandmother who MUST NOT be disturbed during her TV soaps!
The book is believable and well crafted, with a truly lovely story. Well worth a read.


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #176

The Petrov Proposal - Maisey Yates
Harlequin Presents
In 'Mills & Boon Loves...' Mills and Boon Special Releases
Harlequin UK, 2011
ISBN: 9780263889598

My rating

From the back cover:

"Madeline Forrester has never met her boss in person! But Maddy has been secretly seduced by the rich, Russian tones of Aleksei Petrov. They are about to come face to face..."

This is the latest offering by the fabulous Maisey Yates, and the first book in the Mills & Boon Loves... anthology, which by the way is a HUGE book! I was so excited to read this, I had it open almost as soon as it arrived.

The heroine Maddie meets her boss Aleksei, the hero, for the fist time and sparks immediately flow. While working together on an upcoming exhibition for Aleksei's latest jewellery collection, they become more and more drawn to each other. They both fight the attraction as they know any affair they have will be a bad idea. Maddie is especially cautious after a disastrous love affair with her boss in the past, which left her reputation and self confidence in tatters. But it quickly becomes clear that they desire each other more than they can fight, and since neither of them are looking for love they give in. Aleksei is still very much grieving for his beloved late wife, but is shocked at the level of his need for Maddie. As their affair continues Aleksei realises that he needs to distance himself from Maddie as they are both getting deeper involved and he doesn't want to break Maddie's heart.

Once again, another fantastic book from Maisey! I enjoyed it right from the start. This book really does have the perfect blend of emotion and fun, with a little bit of sass thrown in. The star of this show is Maddie; she is a wonderful heroine. I liked that she was not so innocent (and I'm not just talking about her lack of virginity). it gave her a little bit of a bad girl edge but not so much that it's her main character trait. She is also never written as feeling sorry for herself despite her painful childhood and past hurts.
The passion between the hero and heroine is literally smoking! You'll have to read it to find it out for yourself, but let me tell you this - there's a desk involved *fans self*!

Maisey's writing flows beautifully and is wonderfully descriptive (especially the descriptions of the jewellery designs).

Emotional and well crafted, this is a fantastic Modern/Presents.


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

New Voices writing workshop...

I attended the Mills & Boon New Voices writing workshop at Fulham library held by the fabulous Heidi Rice last night. After arriving a little flustered due to tube delays and my confusion over start time (I thought it started at 6.30pm but was actually 6pm, I should have got an earlier train!!), I sat down to listen to some great advice and honest opinions on writing for M&B from Heidi.

And here are some of my notes (that I have managed to decrypt), which I hope may be useful to some of you -

  • When writing for M&B expect to write more books, on average the want 2 per year, so you need to have ideas. Heidi writes 2 per year, which she works around her other work, but is currently trying to writer 3.
  • You should think in terms of your own likes and dislikes, as well as your own voice when deciding what to write and, more importantly, what line to target.
  • Your "Writer's Voice" is what makes you and your story different.
  • Don't try to copy other writers, but do think about what you do and don't like about other writers styles.
  • You should always relate to things that you know. Heidi discussed how most of her heroines are London girls as that what she is and knows well, therefore this is what she likes writing.
  • Different to other types of fiction, Romantic fiction is not plot driven. Instead it is character driven.
  • The conflict of the story is what drives the plot forward. But don't pile in too much external conflict it needs to have well developed internal conflict.
  • Internal conflict - this is what needs to be dealt with throughout the book.
  • Remember that readers likes to be involved in the characters lives and internal conflict is what enables this.
  • Writing for M&B will mean your books have a standard word limit of 50-55,000 words (up to around 70-75,000 words for some historical and paranormal lines) so this means you need to pack as much emotional punch as you can into a relatively short book.
  • Well developed plot and characters are important in order to do this.
  • The 3 most important parts of a romance are; HERO, HEROINE, INTERNAL CONFLICT.
  • Always remember that readers want to step into a characters shoes (which is most often the heroine as it's mainly women readers).
  • But male POV is also important as most readers now want to get involved in his life as well as the heroine's.
  • Must always make your characters sympathetic, but they should not be perfect. Characters should grow as the story progresses.
  • You should know your characters inside-out - think about their past, their motivations, their reactions etc.
  • When writing your characters don't make them too self aware - this is another part of their journey in the book.
  • Never make your characters do something without reason - always ask why they are doing this.
  • When developing your characters think about the following questions;
  • Name?
  • What does he/she do?
  • Why is he/she good at what they do?
  • One word to describe them?
  • Why is he/she like that?
  • What is it in his/her past that has made him/her like that?
  • What is their fear or vulnerability?
  • Your HERO must sweep the reader of her feet! The reader should be able to fall in love with him, and most likely as the writer you will fall in love with him too!
  • Most M&B HERO'S are alpha males - this is part of the romantic fantasy. But he is an archetype alpha male, not a stereotype.
  • Alpha males are usually aspirational characters, so remember that what ever they do (tycoon, lawyer, policeman, rancher, prince, military, etc) they are masters at it.
  • Most HERO'S are written as 'The Unattainable Man', which is another important element of the romantic fantasy your creating. But this doesn't mean you can't write hero who is looking to settle down, but you always need to think about why he is doing that and how readers will respond to him.
  • Your HEROINE is probably the most important character.
  • She must be relatable, but not perfect.
  • When thinking of the HEROINE'S attractiveness, don't be to tempted to make her seem like a complete stunner. She should be attractive in the sense that the hero is attracted to her, but also that she is not held back by her looks (or lack of). She must be a strong woman, but also flawed.
  • Heidi said that your HEROINE must not need a man to rescue her, she must not be needy, the journey they take together is important, not just his/hers.
Internal Conflict
  • Your internal conflict must be developed well.
  • Always relate your internal conflict to your characters - what is going to make it difficult for them to be together?
  • Every scene should include some reference to this, even if it is just a hint or a small thought.
  • When using internal conflict think about the difference between men and women's thoughts, i.e. men don't usually talk openly about feelings etc.
  • The subtext of the internal conflict will add to the tension and intrigue the readers.
  • Heidi recommends using dialogue as a good way of bringing internal conflict to the surface. It also lifts the pace of the book.
  • Avoid them!
  • Heidi talked about how it is true that there are well used themes in the romance genre. Such as; secret baby, unplanned pregnancy, marriage of convenience, blackmail etc.
  • These themes are well used as they have a really good conflict, but if you are going to use one of these themes then yours must be fresh and different.
  • The reasons behind any conflict must be believable and not cliched.
  • Always remember that the books (with the exception of the Historical line) are set in modern times, such things as marriage for the baby's sake, and unplanned pregnancies are harder to pull off these days.
  • If using a theme that is common, try to do something different with it. Heidi mentioned a book where the marriage of convenience theme was used but it was the heroine that needed it and was wealthy, rather that the hero.
  • As a new writer it is especially important to come up with something different.
  • With an idea think about how you can make it new. I.e. different take, fresh characters, modern settings etc.
First Chapters - New Voices relevant
  • Start right at point of change or a point of action. You need to hook the reader right in from the start.
  • Have an exciting moment in the first chapter.
  • Try not to info dump - don't give too much backstory at the start, this should be layered in gradually over the course of the whole book.
  • Captivate the readers immediately and make them sympathise with your characters straight away.
  • Get the characters together as soon as possible, this is especially important for New Voices as you only have the one chapter to make an impression on readers and editors.
  • Establish your emotion and internal conflict - give hints about it, enough to engage the reader but not so much that there's no mystery left.
  • The sexual tension and chemistry between the characters must be immediately apparent.
  • Be careful of secondary characters - don't let them take over. Secondary characters add dimension to your story, but should have be a main focus. Heidi mentioned that as a general rule of thumb you shouldn't go into a secondary characters POV. And of course, if you find that you have a secondary character you love, you could always write them your own book!
  • You should always stay focused on the central relationship.
  • When plotting, start with a hook then immediately start thinking about your characters.
  • Heidi said that when it comes to her writing/plotting style she is known as a "pantser", that is she flies by the seat of her pants when she writes. She lets the conflict and events develop as she writes. Whereas another writer may plan and plot meticulously.
  • Sometimes things will not work and you may have to rethink or even rewrite parts, but that's part of the process.
  • When it comes to sex, write what you feel comfortable with.
  • Sex should not be a graphic description of the act. It is about emotion and intimacy between the characters. Use it as a way of making your characters emotionally vulnerable.
  • When writing a synopsis remember this is a description of conflict not a description of plot.
  • Be careful of using brands or celebrities in your books, and don't relate directly to real life.

It was a really informative session, and I enjoyed attending. There was a nice discussion with some great questions, although the question from one lady asking if it would be better being a "proper author" (not my words!) was, perhaps, not one of them!

It was also fabulous to meet Heidi, even though I had to rush off after only a brief chat to catch my train home.

Thanks to those at Fulham library and Mills & Boon for putting together the event, and of course thanks to Heidi.


Where on earth have you been...

I know I have not posted in a while, I can only apologise about that. There has been some family problems that needed to be dealt with in the last couple of weeks. Not to mention the emotional effects that has had.

Long story short, my husband's parents have split up and the sh*t (pardon my French) that has been stirred up and needed to be dealt with has had to take precedent. And naturally it has caused many a stressed hair tug, emergency trip to the bank, crying spells, crazy woman rants, etc.

I was away all last week staying at my Mother-in-laws to help sort out some problems as well as help take care of a very energetic 10 month old baby! Suffice to say, even though I lugged my laptop, writing stuff, notepads, and 10 books over there (on the bus with a weeks worth of clothes I might add!), I did not get any writing done and I managed to read a grand total of 8... pages (!) over the whole week.
Quite simply it was exhausting!

But I'm back at my desk today, I have a few reviews ready to be posted that I will get around to as soon as I can. I managed to escape from the divorce drama/crazy baby hole that I was in and attend the New Voices writing workshop at Fulham library held by the fabulous Heidi Rice last night. I have pages of hastily scrawled notes that I will be blogging about later today.

Obviously, there may be times over the coming months that there will be more things to be dealt with that may take me away from this. But don't worry, I will be around just not as [virtually] often as usual!

On one last note (I tweeted this at the weekend but I'm going to repeat it here) I just want to say -

If you love your husband/wife/partner/etc tell them so EVERY day, and always be open and honest with each other. But if your unhappy, for whatever reason, don't ever be afraid to speak up or make changes.


Friday, 16 September 2011

Top 5 Friday... Albums

I am a massive music fan so I was looking forward to creating this list! The albums I have chosen will no doubt change from time to time, but generally speaking these are the albums that I can listen to from 1st to last song and enjoy it all the way through (you know how annoying it is to have an album that has two or three amazing songs and the rest just crap!)



Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers - Wu-Tang Clan

Make no mistake, this is TRUE Hip-Hop music, not the rubbish that comes out these days, which only talks about money and loose women etc. This is a harsh but very well crafted album. Granted it's not for everyone, I certainly wouldn't let anyone under the age of 16 listen to it, and it's very much an 'underground' record. I don't generally like Hip-Hop music, this was one an ex introduced me to at Uni and it has stuck since.


OK Computer - Radiohead

I'm sure I don't need to say too much about this record. If you haven't listened to it, believe me it deserves ALL the hype. It is a stunning, stunning album. I just love the experimental nature of the music, and the whole concept of it. Radiohead are one of the bands that I love and have never seen live, I am simply dying to!!


The Immaculate Collection - Madonna

Now I know this isn't a studio album but I'm leaving it it! I adore Madonna, always have and always will. I love every song on this album (I know it's a greatest hits so that's kinda the idea!). I still have my original copy that I bought with my saved up lunch money from Woolworths. I was very hungry at lunch time for a whole month! LOL!


Parachutes - Coldplay

You either love 'em or hate 'em, but Coldplay are the band of my generation. I LOVE THEM! This is one of the best debut albums in history, it is simply beautiful. It's so melodic yet deep, and just holds you in all the way through.


A Rush of Blood to the Head - Coldplay

Yes, I know the last one was also by Coldplay. But this album... oh, it's so beautiful. EVERY song is wonderful. Chris Martin's vocals and songwriting are spectacular. I love how edgy yet anthemic this album is, it's also quite haunting in it's depth. Gorgeous.
I have seen Coldplay live twice, both times headlining Glastonbury Festival. They are fantastic live and I count those as two of the best moments of my life.

What are you favourite albums?

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #175

Love Without Reason - Alison Fraser
Mills and Boon Romance
Mills and Boon, 1993
ISBN: 9780263782158

My rating

From the back cover:

"Little consequences
An illegitimate baby was fodder for the local gossips - especially when the identity of the baby's father was uncertain. But Riona knew that Cameron Adams, the wealthy American who owned the farm she managed in Scotland, was her son's father. He was also the man who'd left her without a word.
When Cam returned and took one look at the five-month-old baby in her arms, Riona's deepest fear became a reality. Cam gave her a choice - a marriage of convenience to legitimize their son... or a custody battle that Riona knew only Cam could win!"

This was another suggestion from a twitter user, the lovely Sian Cusack, for a favourite Harlequin Presents. I managed to track down a copy of this one on ebay. Btw, I am still collecting suggestions for good Harlequin Presents/Mills and Boon Modern books so please feel free to comment or email me with your favourites.

The heroine Riona is shocked when she is confronted by the hero Cameron. She hasn't seen him in over a uear after he just left without word one day. And now he demanding to know who the father of her baby is. Riona was deeply heartbroken when Cameron left, and was left feeling like her simple crofting life was not good enough for the suarve new American Laird. She tries to deny her baby is Cameron's but he quickly realises the truth. Cameron gives her two choices; she can either marry him, which he makes clear would only be a marriage of convenience for their son's sake. Or he will sue her for custody. Riona agrees to marry him as she knows that her son deserves everything Cameron can give him, but Cameron's obvious dislike for her makes it a very difficult decision. Things only get worse when she moves to America with him and discoveres just how powerful and wealthy his faily are, not to mention disapproving. She knows Cameron never loved her, but her feelings for him never changed, which only makes it harder for her to go through with everything.

I really enjoyed this book, it had me hooked in right from the start. This is certainly a very emotion-heavy book, but it is written beautifully. The character's back story is told very well, although I would have preferred it to have been revealed bit by bit over the whole book, rather than as a big lump right at the start. I also would have liked to have Cameron's point of view included.
The author handles the differences between the hero and heroine's way of living very well. I never felt as though the heroine is an inferior character because of her basic life. The inclusion of Cameron's jealous stepsister is interesting but not overdone (hurrah!).

The book flows well, I couldn't put it down. Very enjoyable.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #174

The Greek's Forced Bride - Michelle Reid
Mills and Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills and Boon, 2009
ISBN: 9780263869972

My rating

From the back cover:

"Virgin mistress…reluctant wife!
Greek billionaire Leo Christakis is convinced the prim and proper shapeless suits worn by Natasha are simply a cover for the gold-digging harlot that lies beneath. Thinking Natasha’s been stealing from his company, Leo commands her to be at his beck and call – in and out of the bedroom. Natasha is thrown into his world of unimaginable luxury, until Leo discovers she’s innocent – in every sense!
Now she has no choice: she must become the Christakis bride!"

I found this book in my local library and picked it up. I am a fan of Michelle Reid's books so I was hoping for a good read.

The heroine Natasha is devastated and humiliated when she walks into her fiancé's office and finds him and her sister having sex. Her humiliation is only made worse that her fiancé's stepbrother Leo, the hero, was also witness to the scene. Leo had just discovered that his selfish and irresponsible stepbrother has been stealing from his company. He had been on his way to confront him when he discovered the compromising situation. Leo offers comfort to Natasha even though she has always made it look like she doesn't like him. Plus he has always been attracted to her. However just as they begin to get close, Leo discovers that Natasha is involved in the theft from his company. He tells her that he wants her with him, as his mistress, until the stolen money can be accessed or she will face the authorities. Natasha has nothing left, her engagement is off and her sister and parents have turned their back on her, so she agrees to go with Leo. When Leo takes her to Greece with him, his desire for her soon overtakes his need for revenge. But when he realises that Natasha is a virgin he soon finds that he wants more from her.

I really enjoyed this book. As usual from Michelle Reid, the story is very emotional with the perfect blend of angst and lightness. I really liked the character of Natasha; she is written with honesty and never acts like the martyr of feels sorry for herself. Leo is a brilliant Alpha-hero and really made this story. Both characters 'grow' as the story progresses, which is very satisfying to read.
The writing is beautiful, this has a great story and sizzling chemistry.

Really enjoyable.


Monday, 12 September 2011

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #173

The Girl he Never Noticed - Lindsay Armstrong
Mills and Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2011
ISBN: 9780263886672

My rating

From the back cover:

"From invisible PA...
Tycoon Cam Hillier requires a suitably attractive young lady to grace his arm at this season's fundraising party, but time is running out. So Cam must turn his attention to the woman right under his nose - his dowdy PA, Liz Montrose.
To belle of the ball!
'Personal duties' were not in Liz's job description - but, with her little daughter to clothe and feed, she knows she must go above and beyond. But there will be no sensible suits or thick-rimmed glasses to hide behind tonight! Cam's never noticed her before...but all that's about to change!"

For some reason the last three books I have read have all included "girl" in the title... strange!

The heroine Liz is temping for the hero Cam, when he finds himself without a date one night. He tells Liz that she will need to accompany him, Liz only agrees as she needs to keep her job as she has her young daughter to think of. Liz is a single mother struggling to be a good mother and provide for her daughter, as well as still dealing with grief over the rejection of her and her pregnancy by her daughters father. After the party Liz and Cam form a solid friendship, which they soon realise goes much deeper as their feelings for one another grow. As they get to know each other they try to see if they could have anything more between them, but while cam is open about his ever growing feelings for her, Liz is plagued by doubts and her insecurities.

While this book has a nice focus on the romance element of the relationship, I felt it was a little boring. There just wasn't much chemistry between the characters, and the storyline itself just lacked something. There are a few things in the story that are built up and I expected them to be made more off but they just seemed to be forgotten.

This is not a bad book, the simplicity of the relationship is very pleasant to read but, in my opinion, it just didn't have that sparkle.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #172

Girl in the Bedouin Tent - Annie West
Mills and Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2011
ISBN: 9780263886900

My rating

From the back cover:

"Not your average damsel in distress!
Sheikh Prince Amir has vowed to redeem his scandalous family name - so the last thing he needs on a tour of his desert kingdom is to have a sensuous blonde with more spirit than clothes presented for his harem.
Fiery Cassie might have been kidnapped by bandits and dolled up as the Sheikh's love-slave, but she refuses to be any man's plaything. Yet spending a week in Amir's desert tent pretending to be his mistress would get under any girl's skin. Especially when she is under his sheets..."

This is a book that my husband bought for me as he thought the cover was really nice, and I agree, it's beautiful. I enjoyed this one too.

The heroine Cassie and the hero Amir meet when she is presented to him as a 'favour' during his negotiations with a tribal leader in his country. Cassie is terrified what will happen to her, and attempts to attack Amir in order to try and escape. But she is no match for him and once Amir is able to calm and reassure Cassie that he will not hurt her he learns that she was kidnapped by the tribe when the bus she was travelling on broke down in the desert. Amir promises to protect her, especially after her brutal treatment from the guards, but she has to stay with him in the royal tent until Amir's business is finished. Cassie is nervous around men after a bad experience in her youth, but she feels safe with Amir. As they get to know one another they realise that they desire one another, as well as feeling a connection that is much deeper. Amir finds it hard to end his and Cassie's relationship, but he knows it can never be anything more than a fling as Amir must do his duty for his country and that included marriage to a suitable woman.

I enjoyed this book. It really grabbed my attention right from the very start. I liked that the way the hero and heroine first meet is a little dark and dangerous and very original. Annie West does have a talent for creating exciting back stories/events. Even though the first part of the characters relationship took place over only a couple of days, the author managed to make it seem like it had been longer. The story itself has a wonderful flow, although the almost constant switching of point of view is a little disruptive.
I do think the story lost its way towards the last third, it just didn't seem to have that exciting edge that it started with. The HEA and closing chapters are, however, fantastic.


Sunday, 11 September 2011

10 years on...

10 years ago today I was sitting in an A Level English Literature class, probably bored, unaware of the horror that millions of people in New York City were starting their day to.

I was home in time and glued to BBC News channel to see both the 2nd plane hit the World Trade Centre and also to see them fall, as well as hearing the news of a further strike on the pentagon and when flight 93 came down. I was rendered shocked, with my heart in my throat watching through television one of the most horrendous events of my generation.

I cannot even begin to imagine what the people affected by it went through.

To those who lost their lives on September 11th 2001, whether you were in or around the Twin Towers, one of the many emergency workers, innocent passengers on board all of the crashed planes or someone whom lost a loved one on this day 10 years ago, you will not be forgotten.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Top 5 Friday ... Movies

So last week it was books, this week I'm going for movies. I know I could have been a little more adventurous but I thought I would keep it simple for the first few of these 'Top 5' posts.

Without further ado, here they are -


Four Weddings and a Funeral

I agonised over putting this one in. But I really do love it!
This is such a good story that I can even forgive (sort of) the fact that Andie MacDowell is the most wooden actress in the history of the word.
There are some genuinely funny and witty moments, including the first 5 or more minutes of the movie only consisting of the work f**k in a truly British way. It's also very touching.


Star Wars

Now, I am cheating a little here. When I say Star Wars I am counting all three (the original trilogy btw) into one movie. Yes, it's geeky, but I love it and always have. I have watched it too many times to count and never get tired of it. I admit that I'm not as dedicated as some Star Wars fans out there, I'm quite content just to watch the movie and enjoy it. I'm not interested in collecting toys or discuss it at length or talk about Boba Fett as though he's god... I just really like the movies!



It's certainly not a pleasant film to watch, yet at the same time it's very beautiful! Now I admit that I'm not so much into movies now as I was while I was at uni, and this is one of the films that I watched during my 'film buff' days (oh to be a student with nothing else to but sit around watching movies in a big group!). This one just seemed to stick! I love the stylistic aspects of it; the use of garish primary colours, 'the' drawn out injection scene, withdrawal hallucination-baby-on-ceiling, etc. The fact that it is not at all Hollywood-glossed (the Scottish accents causing many an American to scratch their heads!) is also very appealing.
It's also a movie that has a genuine message, and not just 'don't do drugs, kids'!


The Shawshank Redemption

Some people reading this have probably groaned out load at this choice! I know it's one that is always talked about, the critics choice and all that! But there is a reason for it. It is a beautiful film. I adore the message of friendship behind it, and it is an absorbing film.


Forrest Gump

This is the movie equivalent of Marmite, you either love it or hate it. Well I love it, and I don't care that it's rather cheesy and different to the book etc etc. Let me tell you, not many things make me cry (I'm British after all, I wear my stiff upper lip with pride!) and this film, EVERY TIME, chokes me up- of course at the time I insist that it's just something caught in my throat! I have this movie on DVD but each time it is on TV I have to watch it. I like all the pop culture references, even if they are silly, and the fact that it can't really be labelled - it's warm, it's a comedy but it's also a drama etc. A lovely film.

And that's it!
Obviously I want to point out that these are often subject to change! I had a hard time picking these 5, other films that wanted to squeeze in were; The Reader, Rain Man, Amelie, Cast Away, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Born on the Fourth of July, and a few others!!

What are your 'Top 5' movies?


Thursday, 8 September 2011

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #171

Girl in a Vintage Dress - Nicola Marsh
Mills and Boon RIVA
Harlequin UK, 2011
ISBN: 9780263883879

My rating

From the back cover:

To outsiders it might seem that Lola Lombard, queen of all things vintage, would be over the moon at having to organise a retro-themed hen-do. In reality she’s shaking in her seamed stockings, for the terrifyingly glamorous gaggle of hens brings back all the insecurities she's been hiding behind her bright red lipstick!
Worse still, with the hens comes the bride's gorgeous blue-eyed brother. A too-cool-for-school entrepreneur, Chase has no patience for Lola's 'retro' (read: old-fashioned) ideals...
Sparks fly as modern man meets 1950s siren, but Chase grows increasingly fascinated - who is the shy woman behind the elaborate vintage mask...?"

I absolutely love this cover, isn't it just stunning?! The title is also fantastic, they compliment each other perfectly. So naturally, I was pretty excited about reading this one. Oh, the North American and Australian covers are also gorgeous (especially the Austrailian one), click on the links to see them on Nicola Marsh's blog - do it now, I'll wait...!

The heroine Lola owns a retro and vintage store, but it is so much more than her job. Vintage is her life, something that gave her purpose and confidence after growing up feeling like the ugly duckling in a family of models and beauty queens. She meets the hero Chase when he comes into her shop to ask her to arrange a week long retro themed hen party for his sister. He is the complete opposite of Lola with his sleek and modern corporate life, and they immediately rub each other up the wrong way. But sparks also fly and they are very attracted to one another.
As the hen party week gets under way, Chase finds he can't stay away and he and Lola end up spending a lot of time together. As they get to know one another they find a connection with their equally lonely childhoods and the loneliness that they both still carry with them, as well as the desire that is between them. But shy Lola is not the fling type and Chase doesn't want long term.

Oh, how I adored this book, I really did. Everything about it feels beautiful. I am into vintage and retro myself (I really do wear my hair and makeup like my avatar!) and I could tell that Nicola Marsh had not only done her research very thoroughly but also enjoyed it! The descriptions of Lola's shop, clothes, accessories, hair, make up etc are fantastic, I could really visualise everything.
The story is really good too! Chase and Lola are two wonderful characters; perfectly matched yet totally different, which makes for some really delicious tension. What I like most about this book is the balance between the snappy, casual and fun writing and the tenderness of the romance. Nicola Marsh's characters are always likeable and, more importantly, relatable and this is certainly the case with Chase and Lola (love that name!).

If I had to pick one word to describe this book it would be 'Gorgeous'. Because it really is!