Wednesday, 30 April 2014

BOOK HAUL: Super Tiny but Super Exciting

I love book shopping. I'm a bit of an addict, some might say. I'm constantly browsing the web for cheap deals, new books, or the latest releases. Yesterday, I bought two books on my lunch break from the charity shop nearest to my office. Is there anything better than finding little treasures hidden in the book section of a charity shop? I also got a delivery of some books that I've been wanting for ages but had just never got round to buying - story of my life, really. Now, obviously I can't link to charity shops but what I can do is link to Amazon/Waterstones/various other book selling places so that you can check them out too!

Granted that's the worst picture in the world but what can ya do?

The first three I bought from The Book People recently and the order came through a matter of days later. I've wanted to read Ben Aaronovitch's 'Rivers of London' series for the longest time because I've heard so many people talk about it and it sounds like something that's right up my street so when I was it was just £4.50 on the website, I HAD to buy it. Now I just need to find the time to get my teeth into them.

I also (clearly) bought Stef Penney's 'The Tenderness of Wolves'. The blurb sounded amazing so I would have got it anyway but I'm sure that I've heard somebody say this is a really good book on more than one occasion. I, at the very least, remember somebody talking about it to some extent, ha. Plus, it was only £1.50, how could I say no?!

Finally, I bought Jane Fallon's 'Got You Back' - I'm SO excited to read this. It sounds amazing and it was an absolute steal at just £1! 

What books have you bought recently and do you have any suggestions for me?

Monday, 28 April 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Nicola Doherty – If I Could Turn Back Time

“What if you found The One, then lost him again?
Or not so much lost him as became the neurotic, needy girlfriend from hell. The girl who tried to make him choose between her and his job, and got seriously paranoid about his relationship with his best female friend...
Zoe knows she doesn't deserve another chance with David. But if there's the tiniest possibility of making things right, she'll snatch it. Even if it means breaking the laws of physics to do so...”

 The story starts with a character waking up the morning after with the hangover from hell. She doesn’t really know where she is or how she got that – all she knows is last night was a mental one, by anybody’s standards, and that, wherever she is, it’s ridiculously hot considering it’s winter. It turns out she’s in David’s room which, from the blurb, we can guess is her ex-boyfriend. Is this just a terrible hangover or something more..?

We’re then taken back 12 hours to when the events of the night start to unfold and we’re given the opportunity to learn about the narrator – we learn she’s called ZoĆ© and that she’s clearly hung up on her ex. After a long day at work (she works in retail), she decides to follow a tradition a customer told her about; making a wish in the shop window.

We then follow her journey as she pieces together what’s happened and tries to correct her previous mistakes in order to change the outcome – and not necessarily just to do with her relationship with David.

There’s a little bit of a love triangle and, though the characters involved might not be a surprise, the outcome and the relationships that unfold are an absolute delight to read about. Let’s face it, most of us, at some point, have been dumped by somebody and spent months moping about and wanting them back, saying we’d do anything to get them back or we’ve at least known someone like that. Either way, it helps to make this book all the more enjoyable.

The characters are well-written and the relationships/friendships are well explored and well developed. The way that they interact with each other is exactly how I’ve known people in this situation to behave so it’s very much like reading about friends in this situation – just with a bit of added time travel!

I like that there’s a bit of a moral to the book – that even if you could go back and change things, it doesn’t mean they will go as you plan because you can’t really plan for life. Things happen, people come and go, and it’s all about how you react to certain things.

We watch as Zoe rebuilds (or doesn’t, depending how you look at it) her relationship with David but also how she cheats her way into the job she’s always wanted after having been denied it before she jumped back in time. She has the upper hand in a lot of the situations but that doesn’t necessarily mean she gets what she wants out of it. She learns that maybe some things don’t work out for a reason in life and love.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and could have spent forever reading about it and watching relationships develop and fall apart. The structure was lovely, the language used was spot on, and it was incredibly light and easy reading.

This is Nicola’s second novel and, after reading this, I’ll definitely be checking out her first -  The Out of Office Girl.

eBooks/Kindle: The Book People | Amazon | Waterstones

*I was lucky enough to be sent this via BookBridgr so thank you BookBridgr and Frances Gough!

Friday, 25 April 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Jimmy Rice and Laura Tait - The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me

"Everyone remembers their first love.
Holly certainly remembers Alex. But she decided ten years ago that love wasn't about mix tapes and seizing the moment - though she's not exactly sure it's about secret dates with your boss, either.
But what if the feelings never really went away?
Alex wants to make every moment of his new job count. It's a fresh start in a big city, and he's almost certain that moving to London has nothing to do with Holly. Almost.
How do you know if it was meant to be or never meant to happen at all?"

Following the story of Holly and Alex, we’re taken on a journey of their relationship both past and present. They’ve known each other for years and it’s not always been smooth sailing. He loved her but thought she was too good for him and not interested, she loved him but thought he wasn’t interested. When Alex moves to London, he gets in touch with Holly and their friendship is left to blossom but can they pick up where they left off and finish what they started?

This was the first book I’ve ever read (apart from the dull university textbooks) that have been written by more than one author and, I’ll be honest, it’s been quite the revelation. I loved the idea of it but I love it even more in practice. It really helps you to feel like you’re being told the story from both parties involved whereas usually the story focuses on one side. 

It was set in Greenwich and surrounding areas which is another thing that I really enjoyed about this book. I know it’s really silly but when a book is set in an area I know, it makes it so much easier for me to get into the book as I can picture the scene really clearly and, as I live in Greenwich, this definitely made it easier. 

The difference in tones of voices and writing styles is subtle and very complementary to each other. I think that if this book had been written any differently, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it nearly half as much. It was written in a casual tone of voice which is undoubtedly my favourite. I like to read books that are written in such a way it feels like a friend telling me a story (I really don’t think I’m explaining this well at all), with the language used and pauses taken. 

There are funny elements to this book and I definitely chuckled more than once whilst reading this, particularly at the jogging scene to name one of many. Of course, being a ‘rom-com’ book, there’s a certain element of wanting to bang their heads together but it wouldn’t be a rom-com without that, would it?! 

The characters in the book are well developed and portrayed. Sometimes I feel like a character is supposed to be bitchy but then their dialogue says something utterly different – not the case with this book. I loved that there was a character called Melissa, simply because that’s my name (well, Melisa/Melissa).

If you’re looking for a light-hearted read that you’ll be able to relate to in some manner, whether it’s a lost love or a lost friendship, this book is a great option. It’s brilliantly written, it’s funny, it has great structure and flow, and is, in all honesty, a great book.

Amazon: (Paperback) 

Monday, 14 April 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Jane Costello - The Time of Our Lives

“Three best friends. One five-star hotel. Will it be the holiday of a lifetime . . .?
Imogen and her friends Meredith and Nicola have had their fill of budget holidays, cattle-class flights and 6 a.m. offensives for a space by the pool.
So when Meredith wins a VIP holiday at Barcelona's hippest new hotel, they plan to sip champagne with the jet set, party with the glitterati and switch off in unapologetic luxury.
But when the worst crisis of her working life erupts back home, Imogen has to juggle her BlackBerry with a Manhattan, while soothing a hysterical boss and hunting down an AWOL assistant.
Between a robbery, a run-in with hotel security staff and an encounter on a nudist beach that they'd all rather forget, the friends stumble from one disaster to the next. At least Imogen has a distraction in the form of the gorgeous guy who's always in the right place at the very worst time. Until, that is, his motives start to arouse a few suspicions…”
Meredith has to be the luckiest person ever – she not only wins a holiday for 2 to a 5 star hotel in Barcelona, she then gets the competition providers to find a way of getting a third person to go too. So Meredith, Imogen, and Nicola set off on their dream holiday although, well… let’s just say it doesn’t exactly go to plan. Before they’ve even left the airport, Imogen has managed to throw her buffet breakfast over herself and a ridiculously hot man and, it turns out, it’s not the last she sees of him. 

It was at this point of the book i.e. VERY early on, that I knew I was going to love it and I was right. Jane Costello’s writing style is very lighthearted and funny which suits me perfectly – I actually laughed to myself on the tube more than once when reading this. It’s also this humour that, when juxtaposed alongside more serious/sad scenes, helps to bring you down with a bump, something I love. 

I adored the friendship between the three ladies. They look out for each other, are comfortable with each other but, at the same time, will tell it how it is with no holding back.

Things don’t run smoothly for Imogen and, as it’s her first holiday in many years, you feel bad for her but, for the most part, the scraps and situations she finds herself in are utterly hilarious and I found myself laughing at/with her more than pitying her. 

Throughout the story, Imogen frequently mentions her daughter’s father, Roberto, and is seemingly unable to get over him leaving her but never really reveals what happened. It’s because of this that she seems a bit ‘bunny boiler’-esque until she reveals the truth to Harry – the gorgeous fella from the airport, a journalist who seems to have ulterior motives thanks to the work drama that poor Imogen is having to deal with whilst on holiday.

When you find out Imogen’s past, you really want her to get with Harry and work everything else out – and you’re absolutely screaming at her by this point to take a step back from work – and re-evaluate what’s important to her and look at her priorities. 

On a personal note, I find it hard to believe that two people would form such a bond given the time frame but that’s the whole point of a book; it can romanticise and steer away from reality. 

The timeline of the book is very clear and easy to keep up with, making the book incredibly easy to read. Add to that Jane Costello’s writing style and you’re definitely on to a winner. The book made me smile and laugh – it was such a great, easy read and I loved every moment of it. I liked the characters and the situations that they find themselves in but, most importantly, I liked that they all went through it and became better people by facing up to the things that they had been ignoring – a life lesson we could all learn from sometimes.

Amazon: Kindle | Paperback
Waterstones: Paperback

Friday, 11 April 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Pippa Wright - Unsuitable Men

I’ve been so busy these last few weeks that I haven’t been able to blog as often as I’d like so, for that, I’d like to apologise. I have tonnes of notes written up about various books so I’ll get cracking on writing them ASAP. In the meantime, I finished this book on my journey to work today and I’m going to sneakily write a review at work so forgive me for any errors, I’m not the best ninja!

"After eleven years of coupled-up domesticity, Rory Carmichael is single for the first time in her adult life. Even she would admit that her ex-boyfriend Martin wasn’t the most exciting man in the world – let’s face it, his idea of a rocking night was one spent updating his Excel spreadsheets – but Rory could rely on him and, having watched her mother rack up four turbulent marriages, that’s what matters. But when she discovers that her supposedly reliable Mr Right is a distinctly unreliable cheater, she’s forced to consider the possibility that everything she knows about relationships is wrong.
In an effort to reinvigorate both her love life and her lacklustre career at posh magazine Country House, she sets herself a mission to date as many unsuitable men as possible. Toyboys. Sugar daddies. Fauxmosexuals. Maybe the bad boys she’s never dated can show her what she’s been missing in life. But if Mr Right can turn out to be so wrong, maybe one of her Mr Wrongs will turn out to be just right…"
I absolutely loved the concept of this book – we’ve all dated people that weren’t exactly suitable haven’t we? Rory finds herself single after 11 years of being with her boyfriend whom she’d planned a future with. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she finds out he cheated on her, is forced to move out of their joint home, and isn’t really enjoying work all that much. So when her column at Country House magazine gets cut she has to think fast and, influenced by a conversation with her colleague Ticky, she suggest writing about dates with unsuitable men.

This book was a genuine joy to read. I won’t lie and say I loved everything about it but I did love the majority of it and the things I didn’t like really aren’t major at all. Let’s get the ‘bad’ out of the way, shall we? There’s literally one thing: Rory’s colleagues are all posh and so everything they say, especially Ticky, is spelt out phonetically, so you end up reading it in a posh accent. Now I’m aware that for most people that would be fine but, for me, I just can’t. I don’t really appreciate a posh voice the way I know I should and so it began to grate on me because I couldn’t get away from it. (I did tell you it was silly!)

The characters in the book are well developed and very fleshed out, from the main characters to the unsuitable men that Rory finds herself dating. There are no characters that just feel like padding – for me there’s nothing worse than spending time reading about somebody to find that they’re quite two dimensional, boring and, ultimately, not really relevant to the story. This wasn’t the case – they all have their part to play and bring something worth reading to the table.

It touches upon the celebrity phenomenon but not in the way you might expect. They’re not current celebrities, as such, more past celebrities. ‘They’ being Rory’s aunt and her lodgers (lodgers feels like the wrong word as they’re more like family – something that becomes evident as the story develops).

One of the stand out things about this book was that, yes, it looks at Rory dating unsuitable men and that’s funny etc. but it also goes deeper and is about Rory growing up, changing, and becoming the person she wants to be, not the person she thought she had to be. There are moments you want to shout at her for not spotting the obvious but that just proves how well written this book is – the fact that I could get that absorbed in this make-believe world says a lot.

There’s a happy ending but it’s not necessarily the one you might think would occur as you’re reading it, although it might be as I guessed relatively early on. Having said that Pippa Wright did throw a little something in the mix that shook things up and I doubted myself for a while. Overall, this was a great book to read and, as I have ‘The Foster Husband’ sitting on my ‘to-read’ pile, I am now even more excited to get my teeth into it!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

COVER REVEAL: Sue Moorcroft - The Wedding Proposal

I will literally read anything I can get my hands on but, as fickle as it sounds, I’m more inclined to read something if it has a pretty cover so imagine my delight when I saw the cover for Sue Moorcroft’s upcoming novel, ‘The Wedding Proposal’. Here are two things that I don’t expect you to know about me; 1) I LOVE mint green and all shades that are close to it, and 2) I love petals. Now, knowing those two things, let me know you the front cover…

JUST LOOK AT IT! My goodness! It’s a thing of beauty! When I saw this, I didn’t know anything about the book but I knew I wanted to get my hands on it.

"Can a runaway bride stop running?Elle Jamieson is an unusually private person, in relationships as well as at work – and for good reason. But when she’s made redundant, with no ties to hold her, Elle heads off to a new life in sunny Malta.
Lucas Rose hates secrets – he prides himself on his ability to lay his cards on the table and he expects nothing less from others. He’s furious when his summer working as a divemaster is interrupted by the arrival of Elle, his ex, all thanks to his Uncle Simon’s misguided attempts at matchmaking.
Forced to live in close proximity, it’s hard to ignore what they had shared before Lucas’s wedding proposal ended everything they had. But then an unexpected phone call from England allows Lucas a rare glimpse of the true Elle. Can he deal with Elle’s hidden past when it finally comes to light?"
After having read the blurb, I know I’m going to enjoy it which just makes this whole cover reveal even more amazing. It’s beautiful and sounds like something I’d enjoy.

More information about Sue Moorcroft
Sue Moorcroft is an accomplished writer of novels and short stories, as well as a creative writing tutor. She’s also the fiction judge at Writers Forum and a regular guest on Sue Dougan’s Chat Room at BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. Sue’s Choc Lit novels include: Starting Over, All That Mullarkey, Want to Know a Secret?, Love & Freedom, Dream a Little Dream, Is This Love? and Darcie’s Dilemma (ebook). Love & Freedom won the Festival of Romance Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was shortlisted for the 2013 Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

‘The Wedding Proposal’ is going to be released this September and I, for one, can’t wait. 
What about you?