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

Friday, 29 June 2012

Book Review... Please Don't Stop The Music - Jane Lovering


Please Don't Stop The Music - Jane Lovering
Choc Lit, 2011
ISBN: 9781906931278












My rating




From the back cover:

"How much can you hide? Jemima Hutton is determined to build a successful new life and keep her past a dark secret. Trouble is, her jewellery business looks set to fail - until enigmatic Ben Davies offers to stock her handmade belt buckles in his guitar shop and things start looking up, on all fronts. But Ben has secrets too. When Jemima finds out he used to be the front man of hugely successful Indie rock band Willow Down, she wants to know more. Why did he desert the band on their US tour? Why is he now a semi-recluse? And the curiosity is mutual - which means that her own secret is no longer safe ..."


Wow... Just wow! I am almost speechless about how much I loved this book.

I have to admit that I was rather sceptical at first, but since it won the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year award I wanted to give it a go. By the time I was 20 pages in I was 100% hooked!

There is so much abut this book that is simply brilliant - the honest and hilariously funny dialogue, a brilliant cast of characters, and the hints to the secrets were weaved throughout the story like a master.

Oh, the hero's story is so heartbreaking. I guessed pretty early on in the book what might be his secret but it didn't make it any less emotional and I found myself very choked up when it was finally revealed.

The author handles these two characters, and their lives, like a dream. I adored the heroine right from the start.

This has a lot of 'funny' moments, but don't be fooled into thinking it is a light-hearted romantic comedy. It is not. This isn't always an easy book to read, at time it is very dark, but it is certainly a book that will stay with you and leave you with tears and a sigh.

Reading this book is worth it, believe me! I can't recommend it enough.

The only thing I don't like about this book is the cover. The image of the girl on the front looks a bit like an afterthought, kind of out of place, and she seems very young - I thought this was a YA book when I first saw on Amazon! But, lesson learned, never judge a book... etc!

Xx

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Wednesday on Writing... Back to Basics



A couple of weeks back, readers, I hit The Wall...

And I hit it hard. Everything was going so well, I had finished rewriting the two chapters that I was just not happy with and the WIP was going well, I was in my stride, hammering out great word count numbers daily and beginning to think "wow, I can actually do this!"

Then it happened...

I had all these ideas, sentences, dialogue snippets, etc, bouncing around my head but I could not get them down. My brain froze, my typing fingers went on strike, my computer just sat there humming away, while my chin rested heavily in my hand as I gazed out of the window.

This wasn't the urban myth 'Writer's Block' because I actually knew what I wanted to write, and how it was going to work, there was no lack of ideas, but I couldn't seem to actually, er, write.

I was stuck. Big time. So I did what I thought would be best, I took a couple of days away from the WIP, but that only made it worse 'cause I kept thinking about it.

Cue much self doubt and I'm-never-going-to-be-good-enough thoughts.

Then there was the rare occurrence of a sunny day here in the UK. My husband was out for the day, our brand new picnic bench that hadn't been used once in the two weeks we had had it due to the non-stop rain was tempting me, and I had the ideas and the time to write. But I wanted to sit outside.

So, I raced up to my study and grabbed my research notebook, my pencil case, a notepad, emailed myself the latest version of my WIP and took it all outside with the iPad, a cup of coffee, a bottle of water, and my sunglasses.

The words came!

They flowed from the end of my pen like... well, I can't think of a good analogy at the moment but you get the idea.

Surprisingly, this has worked quite well. I managed 3000 words that day, I'm surprised that my hand didn't wear down into a stump!

My desk for that rare sunny day!


I was well and truly past the wall, I thought, until I tried going back to the laptop... then it happened all over again.

The next week I was sitting down in front of my laptop, chin firmly in hand, getting once again frustrated by my lack of words. I thought about writing with pen and paper again, but it was raining so I couldn't go outside. But I took decisive action, I switched off the laptop pushed it to the back of my desk got out the same pen and pad I had used the previous time and started writing!

It was a miracle! It happened again... I wrote for nearly seven hours straight that day. And I have been doing the same ever since.

I have been typing up as I go along, and when I type up the previous days/weeks work I do a mini-edit, but I have the basis all there in ink to help me. It's like my version of the Fast Draft.

There is something strangely soothing and organic about putting pen to paper; my ideas don't seem hindered, and I'm not so distracted by everything. Every-damn-thing! It's an almost romantic feeling. A blank piece of paper looks far less daunting than a blank word document...

And, you don't get that glaring, mocking red wiggly line underneath a word you've spelled wrong, which no matter how hard I try to ignore at that moment I simply can't. It's freeing!


Plus I love the fact that if I want to go and write outside, I don't have to take my laptop downstairs, set up an extension cord, etc, I can just go with a pen and paper. If I go out, I can take a pad of paper with me much easier than lugging my laptop about! 

I have long been one of those people with a bit of a stationary obsession, I have tons of pens and stacks of notepads. My 'gear' of choice here is a regular biro pen, I have boxes of bic-style pens in my study (my husband gets them for me from work) and it must be black ink and a cheap A4 ruled refill pad from Tesco. It may not be glamorous but it works. For now at least. Perhaps in future I will use some of the many pretty notebooks I have hoarded over the years, I'm quite partial to a moleskin notebook!

And, writing with pen and paper doesn't cut me off from technology even though I have my laptop switched off. With my friend 'The iPad' by my side I have access to the web if I need to research something, dictionary apps if I can't find the right word, email and word processing apps if I want to refer back to my WIP and, most important of all, Twitter so I needn't miss out on the virtual-socialising with other writers out there.

Perhaps one day I'll go back to writing straight to screen, but for now I'm sticking to this as it seems to help.

There are lots of writers who still use longhand - Jackie Collins for one, who always writes with a yellow legal pad and a black felt pen. Cecelia Ahern is another. Or how about J.K Rowling... All of these authors are doing something right! Not that I ever expect to be anywhere near as brilliant as those three, but I'm just saying.

In a world where we use technology for nearly every facet of our lives, perhaps sitting back and doing things the old fashioned way gives us a chance to reinvigorate our creative juices. Or perhaps, this is just the latest attempt of mine to actually find a style of writing that fits...

What's your writing style - longhand or straight-to-screen, or perhaps a bit of both? And, what are your own writing rituals?

Xx

Monday, 25 June 2012

Book Review... You Don't Have to Say You Love Me - Sarra Manning


You Don't Have to Say You Love Me - Sarra Manning
Corgi, 2011
ISBN: 9780552165402













My rating




From the back cover:

"Sweet, bookish Neve Slater always plays by the rules. 
And the rule is that good-natured fat girls like her don't get guys like gorgeous William, heir to Neve's heart since university. But William's been in LA for three years, and Neve's been slimming down and reinventing herself so that when he returns, he'll fall head over heels in love with the new, improved her. 
So she's not that interested in other men. Until her sister Celia points out that if Neve wants William to think she's an experienced love-goddess and not the fumbling, awkward girl he left behind, then she'd better get some, well, experience. 
What Neve needs is someone to show her the ropes, someone like Celia's colleague Max. Wicked, shallow, sexy Max. And since he's such a man-slut, and so not Neve's type, she certainly won't fall for him. Because William is the man for her... right?"


I'm on a run of really good books at the moment!

I picked this one up from the library and, to be honest, I wasn't expecting much. The blurb sounds okay, I thought it would be interesting but same-old same-old.

How wrong I was, this book simply blew me away.

Not only is this a surprisingly sexy read, but it is also full of emotion, wit, intelligence, and plenty of fun.

I applaud the author for writing such a brilliant heroine - Neve is a wonderfully crafted character. When I read the blurb the bit about the heroine being a 'fat girl' I thought, 'oh hear we go... another 'chick lit' book with a perfectly normal size 12 girl banging on and on about how she's so fat, etc'. But again the author surprised me - not only is the heroine a size 14 and struggling to get out of the overweight bracket, but she was once 26st - very brave of the author and very honest.

Sarra Manning doesn't hold anything back about her heroine's struggles with her weight and food issues - both physical and emotional - and I for one appreciated the sincerity of this. I have since found out that Sarra Manning herself has gone through the same experience as her heroine, so she clearly writes with plenty of knowledge and experience on the subject, and this shows.

The journey that the heroine, and the hero, go on is beautiful. The characters feel like real people, often something you don't find in the chick-lit area. Once I started reading I couldn't stop, I wanted to know everything about these characters, and the author doesn't disappoint.

This book has it all and it will make you laugh, cry, and sigh in equal measures.

The wonderfully complex love story weaved into this book is the cherry on top of this brilliant book.

Xx

P is for Penalties... and D is for Disappointment...


Well, that's it folks!

England are out of Euro 2012...



You know what? I wouldn't have actually minded this fact - after all this is very much a rebuilt England squad that haven't really had chance to gel - and I was certainly not expecting them to go on to win the competition even if my heart secretly hoped for it, most of us didn't even expect them to get past the group stages anyway.

But WHY did they have to lose on penalties...

AGAIN

I actually found myself wishing that Italy would just get it over with and put the damn ball in the back of the net. Perhaps it's an even more bitter pill to swallow that England were playing against a, let's be honest, very lacklustre Italian performance.

All I can say is if England played like that against a poor Italy, then Germany, waiting in the next round, would have destroyed them.

So, disappointed? Yes.

Surprised? No

Annoyed that it was penalties that defeated England again? Most definitely.

Some players in the team really showed just how brilliant they are (I'm looking at you John Terry - even though you're a w*nker!) and some showed us that they simply can't play well for England even if they are thought to be the second coming, I mention no names (Rooney).

HOWEVER, regardless of last nights performance, they are still England and they still deserve our support. I have great faith that eventually we will win something, we just need to keep cheering on our lads.

And perhaps we'll even win a penalty shoot-out one day... I can dream right?

Oh, and don't pelt me with tomatoes but I want Germany to win now!

Bring on Brazil 2014!

Xx

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Book Review... One Night Stand - Julie Cohen


One Night Stand - Julie Cohen
Little Black Dress, 2007
Headline
ISBN: 9780755334834












My rating




From the back cover:

"Eleanor Connor has written lots of steamy novels, but sadly her own life is more mundane. In fact, the nearest she's come to passion for ages is having to listen through the thin walls of her house as friend and neighbour Hugh seduces an endless stream of women. 
But then Eleanor has a one-night fling of her own, waking up alone, repentant, and as she later realises, pregnant. Desperate to find her missing lover, if only to tell him he's going to be a father, she enlists Hugh to help her search. But should she be looking closer to home to find what she really needs?"


I think I am in love with Julie Cohen's writing. This is another great book of hers, which literally had me at hello!

I read a lot of romance novels (you have probably realised that by now!) so the whole one-night-stand-leads-to-pregnancy theme is nothing new. However this one is a slightly different take on it, and I applaud Julie Cohen for exploring the difficult and darker side of this aspect of life.

I'm sure we all know [of] someone who has been in this situation, and not knowing who, or where, the father is does happen. And that is what the heroine is going through.

This whole book is written with a refreshing honesty, and a touch of brutal reality, plus there is also plenty of humour to balance it out.

The characters are normal people living normal lives, but also lives that have enough secrets and forks-in-the-road to keep you interested.

The love-story between the hero and heroine plays out beautifully. I knew the two of them belonged together and I was desperate for them to realise it for themselves!

A wonderful book.

Oh, and there is a nice little nod back to this book in Julie Cohen's latest 'The Summer of Living Dangerously', it's nice when author's  do this, it makes their work feel very unique to them!

Xx

Wednesday on Writing... Distraction, Distraction, Distraction



There are days when writing is easy. I'll start the day sitting on my sofa with a cup of coffee as usual and I will be raring to go, bouncing with the want to get up to my desk and open up that word document and hammer out some words, cramped fingers be damned.

Then there are days when writing is like pulling teeth. Every word feels like it's tortured out of me and whatever I do get down just ends up as a load of old rubbish destined to meet the editing scissors.

And then there are days when I do want to write, but everything else around me just seems so much more interesting!

It's called distraction! We all suffer from it, and I am suffering from it in a bad way at the moment...

It's called Football Fever... Thanks to the current Euro 2012 tournament I can't seem to keep my focus on my WIP for more than an hour or so at a time.

I sit at my desk in the morning, have a prat around on twitter, check my email, then write blogs, or do anything else I need to do. By the time I'm usually getting into my stride with writing, at around 11am, I'm distracted by checking the football news on the internet, or watching the highlights on the telly, or prating around on twitter again... anything but writing!

In fact I have been so swept up by this disease that I haven't even read a book in five days... That's almost unheard of for me.

So, I put this question out to the world...

What are your distractions, and how do you try to stop them interfering with writing?

Answers much appreciated, and if you find my missing attention span then please send it to me!

Xx

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Book Review... P.S. I'm Pregnant - Heidi Rice


P.S. I'm Pregnant - Heidi Rice
Mills & Boon Special Releases
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263907788












My rating




From the back cover:

"New York, Hollywood…Pregnant? 
If her landlady’s cat hadn’t gone missing and Connor Brody had bothered to return her messages asking for help in the search, Daisy Dean wouldn’t have been sneaking around his garden at night – and he would never have caught her in her underwear! 
But Connor’s quite pleased with his scantily clad intruder. His business deal is about to fall through because the trophy wife of a potential US investor fancies him – maybe Daisy could make it up to him by accompanying him to NYC? 
Sharing a Portobello Road market stall with Daisy, Juno’s been hearing all about Connor’s brother Mac. A Hollywood actor with a shocking reputation. So when he turns up unexpectedly at a wedding, Juno plans to act all aloof. But the best laid plans often go awry! Suddenly she’s front page news and the only place to hide out is Mac’s LA pad. 
What’s the worst that could happen?"


The uber-fabulous Heidi Rice contacted me asking if I would like to review this, her latest release. Naturally I said yes! And Heidi, as always, many thanks.

This is actually a newly packaged re-issue of two of Heidi's previous books - 'Hot-Shot Tycoon, Indecent Proposal' & 'Public Affair, Secretly Expecting' AKA 'Walk of Fame'. I had previously read both of these titles but, believe me, it was no hardship to re-read them! Public Affair, Secretly Expecting was actually the first book of Heidi's I read, I loved it so much that I went on to read all of her new and old books!

I think M&B have done a nice job of the new packaging and branding of this book, it looks lovely. On a side note, I am really looking forward to the Mills & Boon RIVA relaunch, can't wait to see what the new covers are like and what the new injection of authors will come up with!

The two stories are linked, with the heroines Daisy and Juno being best friends and the sexy Irish heroes, Connor and Mac being estranged and rather tortured brothers.

Both stories start with a bang, in the way only Heidi Rice can do... Daisy gets caught sneaking in to Connor's back garden, sans bra, by the surly and ill Connor and she nurses him through his fever resulting in a very passionate encounter. Whereas Juno surprises and confronts Hollywood heartthrob Mac at the airport, and in an effort to stop her drawing unwanted attention to him, Mac does the only thing he can think of and kisses her. From there, we are taken on two very compelling journeys, with plenty of ups and downs, and chock full of charm.

All four of the characters have painful pasts that influence the way they are in the present, and the author weaves this in with aplomb and manages to create two very emotional stories while still keeping her fun and flirty voice evident throughout.

Both stories stand alone as captivating and witty books, but as a pair they sparkle.

Not to be missed, especially if your are new to Heidi Rice's work.

Xx

Book Review... Take a Chance on Me - Jill Mansell


Take A Chance On Me - Jill Mansell
Headline Review, 2010
ISBN: 9780755328208













My rating




From the back cover:

"Cleo Quinn doesn't have a great track record when it comes to men, but now Will's come along she's optimistic. Handsome, attentive and an absolute gentleman when it comes to her questionable cooking skills, he could be her Mr Right. Things are definitely looking up for Cleo... apart from one small problem with a rather large ego. Johnny LaVenture, sculptor extraordinaire and her childhood adversary, is back in Channing's Hill and tormenting Cleo as if he'd never been away. 
But life never goes to plan, does it? Johnny isn't the only one stirring up trouble and, for Cleo's family and friends, all kinds of sparks are starting to fly. If you think you can put the past behind you, think again..."


I read a lot of Jill Mansell's books in my early twenties and always found them warm, engaging, and fun reads. This book was no exception.

I had a hard time getting to grips with the heroine's story. Although I don't mind books where there is more than one character's story involved, I felt in this case there is too much of the book devoted to a few too many character's stories.

All the character's lives/stories are intertwined but I feel that it would have been nicer if the focus had just been on Cleo and Abbie's stories - Abbie's story is wonderful, and beautifully written.

In my opinion there was a little too much jumping around, however the storytelling is flawless. This is a book that instantly grabs you and sucks you in, and it is very enjoyable.

There is lots of fun and quirkiness that makes this style of British 'Chick-Lit' magical, and, above all, the story and the characters are believable.

A good, solid read that will while away a few hours. Not a keeper for me though.

Xx

Upcoming Spotlight... Harts of the Rodeo






Starting in July, Harlequin American Romance presents a six book multi-author series...




A new six-book miniseries about a family determined to rebuild their ranch and their lives, with love, hard work, and the help of a legendary stallion...
Featuring six well loved authors from the American Romance line, this series is bound to embody all the elements that makes this line so special.

Start the story with the prequel novella to the series.


WYATT: Return of the Cowboy
by Cathy McDavid

ebook exclusive.
Free for a limited time @ Harlequin









In July

AIDAN: Loyal Cowboy
by Cathy McDavid

Available now at
Harlequin (ebook & paperback - North America)
Mills & Boon (ebook for UK and International)

Author website






In August

COLTON: Rodeo Cowboy
by C.J. Carmichael













In September


DUKE: Deputy Cowboy
by Roz Denny Fox














In October

AUSTIN: Second Chance Cowboy
by Shelly Galloway













In November

BEAU: Cowboy Protector
by Marin Thomas












In December

TOMAS: Cowboy Homecoming
by Linda Warren










I'm thrilled to be invited as part of the the promotional tour of this new mini series, along with some wonderful other bloggers, I can't wait to get stuck in and reading what I know will be a fantastic mini-series.

Look out for reviews, author interviews, and possible book giveaways.

Many thanks to the editors at Harlequin American Romance, author Marin Thomas, and Sara @ Harlequin Junkie blog for arranging and including me.





For more information visit

Book Review... Welcome to My World - Miranda Dickinson


Welcome to My World - Miranda Dickinson
Avon Books, 2010
ISBN: 9781847561664












My rating




From the back cover:

"A travel agent who longs to travel. 
An intrepid explorer who just wants to find a place to call home. 
And a Big Idea that changes everything! 
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? 
A gorgeous love story for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Jill Mansell"

At times I really enjoyed this book, but overall my feeling towards this book is one of frustration.

The author does a good job of making her heroine both likeable and unlikable, I especially liked that the author delved into the theme of loneliness.

But there is a lot about this book that is frown-inducing; It was quite clear, even though it wasn't revealed until nearly the end, that the heroine's boyfriend was cheating - I felt this made the heroine out to be very stupid, and also there was never really any explanation as to why he did it, I felt there wasn't enough 'closure' on that part. The hero (and I use that term lightly) was an idiot, and he came off as very patronising towards the heroine. There is a part in the book where the heroine overhears him telling one of his friends that he only hangs out with her as he pities her - his response is that he only said that to get his friend off his back but I couldn't buy this, the author didn't really make him believable, or redeemable, after that. And the evil-girlfriend character and her antics just didn't make sense.

I felt there were a lot of good elements that weren't really used to their full potential.

The narrative was very slow, it dragged in places and many times I almost gave up reading. However the author hooked me in buy having the story begin in the present with the heroine hiding out in a toilet cubicle and us, the reader, not knowing why only that something bad has happened - and the rest of the book is all the events leading up to that moment.

Not a bad book just, I don't know, not quite there.

Xx

Monday, 11 June 2012

Come on England!


It seem's to have been overshadowed this year, what with The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the upcoming Olympics, but now Euro 2012 is well and truly on it's way.

I relish International football tournament time - it's the only time I get to truly control the TV remote! I am a huge football fan, have been all my life, so this next 30 days is going to keep me entertained.

So far there have been some good, boring, and just OK games. The highlights have been Russia beating Czech Republic 4-1, a surprise victory! And Ireland getting beaten 3-1 by far-superior Croatia last night.

Less exciting games have been a 1-all draw between Italy and Span - the two greatest teams in the world, I expected a lot more. And, a lacklustre Germany only just beating Portugal.

But tonight... It's the big one, our first game.

England v France

I'm as nervous as I am excited, but I truly believe in the team and wish Roy and the boys all the best.

Usually when a football tournament is upon us the build up goes on for months, so much so that by the time the England are about to kick their first ball there is not only the usual pressure of winning a match but also got the whole country, including the wolves of the press, leaning heavily on them, expectation high, and waiting to either cheer or throw them to the lions.

Perhaps with the focus on other events recently, that will go in England's favour... Or perhaps the injection of a new manager and a new mindset will be the key to cracking the code that is England's international team.

Who knows, but one thing is for sure that that tonight, at 5pm kick off, the country will wait with bated breath for that magic thing that is the beautiful game to begin...

Sing it with me...

I'm England til I die,
I'm England til I die, 
I know I am, 
I'm sure I am,
I'm England til I die. 


Book Review... Starting Over - Sue Moorcroft


Starting Over - Sue Moorcroft
Choc Lit, 2009
ISBN: 9781906931223













My rating




From the back cover:

"New home, new friends, new love. Can starting over be that simple? Tess Riddell reckons her beloved Freelander is more reliable than any man - especially her ex-fiancé, Olly Gray. She's moving on from her old life and into the perfect cottage in the country.
Miles Rattenbury's passions? Old cars and new women! Romance? He's into fun rather than commitment. When Tess crashes the Freelander into his breakdown truck, they find that they're nearly neighbours - yet worlds apart. Despite her overprotective parents and a suddenly attentive Olly, she discovers the joys of village life and even forms an unlikely friendship with Miles. Then, just as their relationship develops into something deeper, an old flame comes looking for him... 
Is their love strong enough to overcome the past? Or will it take more than either of them is prepared to give?"


This was one of those books that came up as one of the 'you might also like...' recommendations after I bought something on Amazon. I have been hearing lots of good things about Choc Lit publishing but haven't read any of their books so far, so I thought I would give this one a go.

I was a little unsure of the book at first, it took me a while to get used to the author's style - there are lots of fragmented sentences that, at times, felt a little jarring. However once I was used to it, this ended up being a brilliant read.

The story is so full of emotional ups and downs and very relatable. The heroine grows as the story progresses, although she is a nicely flawed character and makes some very well written and honest mistakes.

The hero is a little difficult, but that is what makes him really charming. I fell hook, line, and sinker for him!

This is so much more than boy meets girl and then they live happily every after... The story explores problems after that initial HEA, as well as past mistakes coming back to haunt you, and how quickly you can fall out of love as you do fall in love. The author takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, and a tells a wonderful love-story.

Lovely!

Xx

Book Review... Any Way You Want Me - Lucy Diamond


Any Way You Want Me - Lucy Diamond
Pan, 2007
ISBN: 9780330446433













My rating




From the back cover:

"On paper, Sadie's got it all - the partner, the children, the house. But in real life, that doesn't feel quite enough. Sadie can't help harking back to the time when she was a career woman by day and a party animal by night. And what happened to feeling like a sex kitten, anyway? The only sleepless nights she's getting now are due to the baby. Maybe a little reinvention is the answer... 
Sadie can't resist creating a fictitious online identity for herself as a hot TV producer. It's only a bit of harmless fun...until truth and fantasy become dangerously tangled. It isn't long before she's wondering if the exciting alter ego she has dreamed up really is the kind of person she wants to be after all... 
Wry, funny and with a wonderful twist in the tale, "Any Way You Want Me" is an enchanting novel of infidelity, motherhood and friends reunited that heralds the debut of a lovely new voice in fiction."


When it comes to romance novels, infidelity as a theme is an absolute no-no for me. However, with chick-lit books I don't have a problem reading this, if it's handled well, mainly because these books are more life focused (it does happen!) and we're not necessarily reading for a HEA.

This book had the heroine being unfaithful, and it's not pretty. It's not because her partner doesn't treat her right, or he is also having an affair... No, it's the selfish kind of affair, but the author doesn't make any excuses for it.

Throughout the book the heroine behaves appallingly, but at the same time you can understand why and, after all, we all make mistakes.

The author does a nice job of keeping you guessing throughout and the rollercoaster journey the heroine goes on is on that is honest, gritty, emotional, and above all believable.

I do feel that the 'other man' character wasn't really used to full potential, the author makes a big effort to make us think that he really does love the heroine despite them both being in tricky situations, but then in the end he turned into a bastard, it seemed a little inconsistent.

Also, I felt this book may have been written a few years before it was published as there were a few things that felt a little dated.

But other than that, this is an interesting, emotional, and brave story.

Xx

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Book Review... The Summer of Living Dangerously - Julie Cohen


The Summer of Living Dangerously - Julie Cohen
Headline Review, 2012
ISBN: 9780755350650












My rating




From the back cover:

"Alice Woodstock has been running away. 
Well, not literally. She spends most of her time glued to her desk, writing about grommets and model aeroplanes. No, Alice is avoiding the real world because there’s something—someone—in her past that she’s desperate to forget. So when she’s commissioned to write about life in stately home Eversley Hall, she jumps at the chance to escape into Regency England, even if it does mean swapping her comfy T-shirt for an itchy corset. Perhaps she’ll meet her own Mr Darcy… 
But when her past resurfaces in the shape of Leo Allingham, Alice is brought down to earth with a bump. Reckless, unpredictable Leo reminds Alice of the painful price of following her heart. And the new Alice doesn’t live dangerously. 
Or does she?"


I got this book on a recommendation and after reading Julie Cohen's 'Getting Away With It' I was champing at the bit to read this one. But I have to be honest and say that reading the blurb, I thought that I wouldn't like it going on the fact that the whole historical/regency/period drama thing is not my cup of tea.

How wrong I was. I simply loved this book, it's utterly brilliant!

Julie Cohen's heroine was so engaging, and beautifully portrayed, I couldn't stop reading needing to find out just what it was that was causing her so much pain (which, by the way, is heartbreaking). And, I loved that there were two contenders for the hero, it kept me guessing all the way through.

Not only is this a fun filled and charming book, it is also sad and emotional, you will be reduced to tears moments after laughing.

Julie Cohen does a fantastic job of weaving together the real and pretend lives, I was one hundred percent involved with the heroine's journey - both in her real, modern life and her pretend, historical story. The parallels between the two 'lives' of the heroine are subtly done, but work wonderfully.

Simply brilliant, it made this history-averse girl actually interested in life in a regency home! A must read.

Xx

Book Review... Watermelon - Marian Keyes


Watermelon - Marian Keyes
Arrow, 2006
ISBN: 9780099489986

N.B. The above details refer to one of the many reprints of this book.











My rating




From the back cover:

"At twenty-nine, fun-loving, good-natured Claire has everything she ever wanted: a husband she adores, a great apartment, a good job. Then, on the day she gives birth to her first baby, James visits her in the recovery room to inform her that he's leaving her. Claire is left with a beautiful newborn daughter, a broken heart, and a body that she can hardly bear to look at in the mirror. So, in the absence of any better offers, Claire decides to go home to her family in Dublin. To her gorgeous man-eating sister Helen, her soap-watching mother, her bewildered father. And there, sheltered by the love of an (albeit quirky) family, she gets better. A lot better. In fact, so much better that when James slithers back into her life, he's in for a bit of a surprise."

I read a couple of Marian Keyes's books back when I was in my late teens, I remember liking her style so I thought I would give this one a go. Although, to be honest, I hadn't realised that this was first published all the way back in 1996. If I say one thing it's that this had held up well, and apart from a few elements this doesn't feel aged at all.

I loved reading the journey that Marian Keyes takes us on with her heroine. She was in a right ol' mess and we are with her for every high and every low. There is not 'perfect' heroine here, far from it, and there is no lack of honesty from the author about her character's sometimes terrible behaviour.

The low moments in the journey are difficult to read but also funny, as well as endearing. I found I was sad for and frustrated at the heroine in equal measures.

The narrative and 'breaking the fourth wall' style isn't my favourite, so for me this occasionally felt a little forced, however the writing is flawless - hard to believe this was Marian Keyes's debut.

This is a magical story of a life in tatters and finding the will to get through it.

Xx

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Book Review... The Innocent's Surrender - Sara Craven


The Innocent's Surrender - Sara Craven
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2010
ISBN: 9780263877649











My rating




From the back cover:

"His price: her awakening 
Natasha Kirby has long been saddened by her family’s feud with the Mandrakis men…now she’s caught in its savage crossfire. Her family’s business has fallen into the hands of merciless tycoon Alex Mandrakis. Summoned to his bedroom, Natasha is given an impossible ultimatum: sacrifice her virginity, or he will destroy her family! 
Captive on Alex’s luxury yacht, Natasha finds her trembling fear turns to traitorous shivers of desire. By rights she should despise him, but slowly she finds herself wishing that her bittersweet seduction could last for ever…"


I feel like before I start writing this review I should put a disclaimer or something... This will not be a book for everyone, that's for sure!

This is a difficult review to write because this is a difficult book to read, at times. There is something about Sara Craven's rather un-PC books that I like, she's certainly 'old school' in her style. This one, well, perhaps it went a little too far!

If you read any other review for this you will be able to ascertain that the first love scene is, er, not the best. I'll be honest, it's a little rapey...

In my opinion it would have been much better without it as the rest of the story is beautifully written and very absorbing.

The book feels very dark, so in a way the first love scene does fit the mood. Sara Craven does a great job of hinting at the real truth underneath all the horrible surface stuff, and that makes you want to keep reading.

The heroine fights her feelings at every step and as a result her character really goes on a journey of self discovery (sorry for the newage speak!). She starts off unforgivably naive yet ends up really growing as a character.

The same for the hero, even though there was no POV for him, at the start I hated him but ended up falling totally for him.

This is a very up and down book, but somehow Sara Craven waves her wand and makes this a very compelling read.

If I have one moan it is that the hero and heroine didn't meet until 15% into the book (thank you Kindle stats!) and that felt a little too long to wait, IMO.

Anyway, like I said, it's not for everyone but I actually enjoyed this book.

Xx

Book Review... Androletti's Mistress - Melanie Milburne


Androletti's Mistress - Melanie Milburne
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2007
ISBN: 9780263853612
Reissue - Mills & Boon Modern Backlist
eISBN: 9781408939499










My rating




From the back cover:

"Duty forced Nikki Ferliani to leave the only man she'd ever loved - Massimo Androletti - and marry another. Massimo was left with the bitter memory of Nikki, the gold-digging seductress. Now she's widowed and broke, and the only person who can help Nikki is the very man she once betrayed...
Massimo has purchased her body for revenge, and she's paid with her heart. Little does he realize that Nikki's now carrying his child, and would have given him both for free..."

This is a re-read, I first read it maybe two years ago and enjoyed it a lot, and I still very much enjoyed it on second reading!

Reading this book is a bit of an effort, it has a lot of difficult moments and at times I really wanted to hate the hero and his [occasional] cruel attitude towards the heroine. But at the same time I could see why he would behave that way. This is something that Melanie Milburne does quite a lot - her characters behave very badly but she is able to make the reader empathise with them, and her hero's always tread the fine line between Alpha-male and complete bastard yet she makes this work.

I was hooked throughout the whole book, mainly down to the fact that the heroine's story is uttely heartbreaking.

With all the anger between the hero and heroine there is lots of fiery passion to go with it, as well as some genuinely tender moments that balances the mood a little.

The book deals with some difficult subjects, but they are handled well. Yes, it is a little hard to read and, perhaps, overly dramatic but it is also a moving and powerful read - especially for a 180ish page category romance!

Xx

Book Review... Behind the Castello Doors - Chantelle Shaw


Behind the Castello Doors - Chantelle Shaw
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890730











My rating




From the back cover:

"Torment on his doorstep 
Cesario Piras, brooding master of the Castello del Falco, wasn’t prepared for the visitor who turned up on his doorstep during a raging storm – or for the little bundle bearing the Piras name she had in tow. Cesario’s head screamed Run, but his damaged heart began to betray him. 
Beth Granger knew the moment she knocked on the castle door that there was no going back. She had a job to do. But the moment Cesario looked deep into her pleading eyes her faultless plan crumbled around her…"

Chantelle Shaw is one of those authors who I can't decide if I like or not. I have read a lot of her books and they are a little hit and miss, but this one was a hit! I really enjoyed it.

When I started reading this book I was almost groaning out loud thinking that I knew exactly what was going to happen. But I'm pleased to say that the author surprised me and didn't take the easy cliché route.

I adored everything about the hero and heroine, their backgrounds were equally painful and these were two damaged and flawed characters. As a result, there is plenty of angst in this story as well as some explosive passion.

The plot is absorbing and keeps you guessing. There is an almost tense atmosphere to this book that really helps set the mood, and draws you in.

Worth a read, definitely!

Xx

Book Review... Marrying the Enemy! - Elizabeth Power


Marrying the Enemy! - Elizabeth Power
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1999
ISBN: 9780373187003
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459252301










My rating




From the back cover:

"For better, or for worse... 
Alexia had known that coming home after all these years would be difficult - even more so as she'd be living under the same roof as York Masterton. The last time they'd met, Alexia had been an innocent teenager. Now she was a sophisticated woman who knew what she wanted: her rightful inheritance. 
York didn't bother to hide his suspicious dislike of Alexia - until he realized that, far from hating her, he wanted to marry her And he'd give everything he owned to be able to trust his new wife. Especially now that she was having his baby...."

I'm a fan of Elizabeth Powers's books, there is something about the very emotional stories she writes that apeals to me, and this is another good book of hers.

At first the story is a little difficult to get into, there seemed to be a lot of hints to lots of different things that you don't really make sense of until much later in the book. That is frustrating, but it certainly keeps you interested, and keeps you reading!

The relationship between the hero and heroine is full of ups and downs, as well as plenty of passion, betrayal, angst, etc - all those lovely things that you want out of a Presents! The heroine's background is interesting, and well written to have some great emotional impact. It was particularly interesting to have a grey haired heroine (hereditary premature greying), it would have been nice if this had been reflected on the cover.

The bitchy-other-woman character and plot was unnecessary and I feel that it ruined the flow of the book, it seemed forced in.

Overall, this is a very entertaining book.

Xx