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31 May 2013

June 2013 releases to look forward to! (Part 2)

Several days ago I already informed you of some of the fabulous June releases that are coming up, but it's true... There's more! Be sure to add these lovely novels to your to-read list if you don't want to miss out! 

Lauren Weisberger - 'Revenge of Prada: The Devil Returns' (4th/20th of June 2013)


Everything’s in place for the season’s hottest launch:

Tall latte (with two raw sugars)? Check.

Gucci trench (draped over desk)? Check.

Outrageous, unreasonable demands? Check.

Andy has just turned thirty and is an incredibly successful magazine editor, working closely with her best friend Emily, another Runway survivor. She’s about to get married – life’s on track and she’s been careful to stay clear of Miranda Priestly, her dreadful first boss. But Andy’s luck is running out. Miranda Priestly isn’t the kind of woman who hides in the background.

She’s back… and more devilish than ever.

Why so excited? --> I have to admit, I'm not too keen on the covers of Lauren Weisberger's sequel to 'The Devil Wears Prada', but I am dead excited about the fact that there is actually going to be a sequel! I loved the first book and film, and I can't wait to read more about Andy and Miranda and all the outrageous, unreasonable demands... This is going to be great, I can feel it!

Victoria Fox - 'Wicked Ambition' (7th of June 2013)


If not victory, revenge!

Some will do anything for fame. Others will do anything to bring the famous down.

Three superstars. Three secrets.

For Robin, Turquoise and Kristin, the spotlight shines brightly. They ve reached the glittering heights of stardom, and are adored the world over. But in the shadows lies the truth... An exposé could be their end. Because not everyone is happy about their success. Not everyone wants the best for them. Some people want to reveal the real stories behind the luxury parties and gorgeous men, and bring their dazzling worlds crashing to the ground.

Who will fall first?

Why so excited? --> I haven't read Victoria Fox's novel 'Temptation Island', but I've heard that if you're looking for a bit of glamour and scandal, you've found the right author! The blurb and the cover already fit these two keywords perfectly, and I have to be honest: I'm definitely intrigued!

Sally Koslow - 'The Widow Waltz' (13th of June 2013)


Georgia Waltz has things many people only dream of: a plush Manhattan apartment overlooking Central Park, a Hamptons beach house, valuable jewels and art, two bright daughters, and a husband she adores, even after decades of marriage. It’s only when Ben suddenly drops dead from a massive coronary while training for the New York City Marathon that Georgia discovers her husband—a successful lawyer—has left them nearly penniless. Their wonderland was built on lies.
      
As the family attorney scours emptied bank accounts, Georgia must not only look for a way to support her family, she needs to face the revelation that Ben was not the perfect husband he appeared to be, just as her daughters—now ensconced back at home with secrets of their own—have to accept that they may not be returning to their lives in Paris and at Stanford subsidized by the Bank of Mom and Dad. As she uncovers hidden resilience, Georgia’s sudden midlife shift forces her to consider who she is and what she truly values. That Georgia may also find new love in the land of Spanx and stretch marks surprises everyone—most of all, her.

Why so excited? --> 'The Widow Waltz' doesn't fit the picture of a happy chick lit novel, but I am definitely drawn towards this book. The blurb promises a dramatic tale with a twist of hope, and the cover fits this idea perfectly, in my opinion. I'm really curious about this one and can't wait to find out more about Georgia and her struggles.

Allie Spencer - 'Save the Date' (20th of June 2013)

Family weddings can be hell.

...and, marooned in Italy for her cousin's nuptials, Ailsa can be forgiven for thinking that this one is worse than most. With the bride and groom at loggerheads and the guests in uproar, it is a million miles away from the rest and relaxation she'd been hoping for.

And then suddenly, in the middle of the mayhem, she comes face-to-face with Nick, the man she walked out on just a few months earlier.

How can Ailsa help get the wedding back on track when she and Nick can't stop arguing? But if they do, she might remember why she fell in love with him in the first place - and then there really would be trouble.

Why so excited? --> I've heard lots of exciting and lovely things about 'Save the Date' already and I can't wait for its release! The cover is simply stunning and the story sounds great... A wedding, a good love-story... Count me in!

Sheila O'Flanagan - 'The Things We Never Say' (20th of June 2013)


Abbey Andersen is the last person to go looking for change. Yes, it's tough that she barely sees her mother these days - but in San Francisco she has great friends, a steady relationship and a job she enjoys. When Abbey is contacted by Irish lawyer Ryan Gilligan she learns in an instant everything she believed about her roots is a lie. She must travel to Dublin to find out more - but she's scarcely off the plane when she's plunged into a new crisis. One that will change everything not just for Abbey but for the family in Ireland who had no idea that she even existed. Now Abbey has to make a choice that will affect everyone she knows. How can she be sure she makes the right one? And can life ever be quite the same again?

Why so excited? --> I love Sheila O'Flanagan; her novels are always guaranteed great reads, I think, and so it's no surprise I am really looking forward to reading 'The Things We Never Say'! The blurb sounds really interesting, and I can't wait to read Abbey's story!


30 May 2013

Review: 'Dear Thing' by Julie Cohen (2013)

Claire and Ben are the perfect couple. But behind the glossy façade, they've been desperately trying - and failing - to have a baby for years. Now, the stress and feelings of loss are taking their toll on their marriage. Claire's ready to give up hope and get on with her life, but Ben is not. And then Ben's best friend, Romily, offers to conceive via artificial insemination and carry the baby for them.

Romily acts in good faith, believing it will be easy to be a surrogate. She's already a single mother, and has no desire for any more children. Except that being pregnant with Ben's child stirs up all sorts of emotions in her, including one she's kept hidden for a very long time: Ben's the only man she's ever loved.

Two mothers-and one baby who belongs to both of them, and which only one of them can keep.

Julie Cohen’s latest novel, ‘Dear Thing’, which was released on the 11th of April 2013, quickly turned into a book all the bloggers seemed to be talking about. My Twitter timeline included lots of positive messages about ‘Dear Thing’ almost every single day, which only sparked my curiosity. So, when Transworld contacted me about a possible review copy (thanks so much September!), I immediately got excited. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on ‘Dear Thing’ and see whether it was really as good as everyone was telling me. 

To the outside world, Claire and Ben are the perfect couple: happily married, well-paid jobs, a beautiful big family home... The only thing that seems to be missing from this picture are the children, and that is exactly where Ben and Claire are struggling. After several years of trying and giving IVF numerous tries, Claire would do anything to have her own baby to take care of. However, when she suffers another miscarriage, she is once again heartbroken and tells Ben she doesn’t have the strength to keep doing this. So, when Ben and his best friend Romily are in the pub one night, and Romily (after a few glasses too many) offers to be Ben and Claire’s surrogate, Ben is over the moon. The day after, Romily immediately regrets what she said, but when she sees how happy Ben is, she can’t possibly back out... Especially not because she has been in love with Ben for a long time and she would do anything to see him happy. Romily, Ben and Claire soon find themselves in a tricky three-way relationship with many different emotions and a time-span of about nine months to fix it all...

The three main characters (Ben, Claire and Romily) in this novel really made the story come alive for me. Julie Cohen’s well-written, in-depth descriptions of these three individuals, and everything they think and feel, in combination with the sensitive topic of surrogacy, turned this into quite an intense read. I often start rooting for a particular character in a novel, but this time I felt myself torn between Romily and Claire. On the one hand, there’s lovely Romily, who’s disorganised, obsessed with insects, harbours a secret love for her best friend Ben, and does everything in her power to make sure her daughter Posie is brought up the right way. On the other hand, there’s Claire: as organised as can be, the perfect mother figure who is heartbroken because the one thing she has always wanted seems to be out of reach. Throughout the novel, I sympathised with both characters, but I think in the end Claire has to be my favourite. It was heartbreaking to read about how she considers herself a failure, and I really admire her strength to go on, and how she deals with everything that is thrown at her. I especially loved the relationship Claire has with one of her students, Max, which shows what a great teacher she is and what an amazing mum she could be, if only given the chance.

I thought the letters Romily writes to ‘Thing’, the baby, really added something special. Especially since they included all the feelings Romily is afraid to acknowledge out loud in the real world. I felt myself flying through the pages of this novel: it’s easy to read, which isn’t always the case when it comes to sensitive topics like this. Overall, ‘Dear Thing’ is a realistic, moving read not just about the difficult topic of surrogacy, but also about falling down and getting up again, not giving up on life and what you want from it, no matter what might be thrown at you.

Rating:8/10


28 May 2013

June 2013 releases to look forward to! (Part 1)

Wow, it seems like the month of May has passed by within the blink of an eye, or is that just me? We've had some fabulous chick lit releases the past couple of weeks, but June definitely has some must-reads in store as well, so here's part 1 (of 2) of some exciting upcoming releases!

Cora Carmack - 'Faking It' (6th of June 2013)


Every girl likes a bad boy...

And Max's current boyfriend is as bad as they come. She knows her family would freak if they saw his tattoos and piercings.

So when her parents turn up unannounced Max grabs the most wholesome guy she can to play her boyfriend.

But Cade Winston is so perfect that Max needs him to keep playing the part. And the more they have to fake their relationship, the harder it gets to just pretend.

Why so excited? --> I haven't read Cora Carmack's novel 'Losing It', but I've heard lots of people talking about it and I'm getting quite curious about Cora Carmack's writing! The cover looks quite steamy, and the blurb sounds good... Can't wait to check it out!

Erin Kaye - 'Always You' (6th of June 2013)


It’s 1992 and Sarah is in love with Cahal, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. As they plan to graduate from university, all seems set for their happily ever after…

Fast forward to 2012 and something’s gone wrong. Cahal is out of the picture and Sarah is divorced from Ian by whom she’s had two children. What happened? As Cahal walks back into Sarah’s life, can they overcome past decisions and surrounding prejudice and make it work a second time around?

Why so excited? --> Okay, what's not to love about this gorgeous cover?! I adore the purple/lilac/pink shades, the cute couple, the trees, the small plane flying away from the title... And luckily, the plot of the story sounds great as well! I've always had a weak spot for first loves losing sight of one another and then finding each other again, so it seems like this novel was made for the hopeless romantics amongst us!

Lucy Diamond - 'Me and Mr Jones' (6th of June 2013)

Is Mr Jones really Mr Right? Meet the women in love with three very different brothers...

Izzy’s determined to escape her troubled past with a new start by the sea – but flirtatious Charlie Jones is causing complications. Alicia’s been happily married to loyal Hugh for years but secretly craves excitement. Maybe it’s time to spice things up? Emma’s relationship with David was once fun and romantic but trying for a baby has taken its toll. Then temptation comes along...

As the future of the family’s B&B becomes uncertain, Izzy, Alicia and Emma are thrown together unexpectedly. It seems that keeping up with the Joneses is harder than anyone thought...

Why so excited? --> I've been lucky enough to have been sent a review copy of this novel, and I can tell you: this is definitely one of the June releases to get really excited about! It's a fabulous summer read; be sure to keep an eye on this blog for a review and interview with Lucy Diamond coming soon!

Fiona Walker - 'The Summer Wedding' (6th of June 2013)

The hotly anticipated wedding of Iris Devonshire, ravishing teenage daughter of celebrity couple Mia and Leo, is to be held in the gardens of their grand Palladian pile alongside the Thames. But Mia and Leo worry that she's rushing into the marriage. Just ask their best friends since college, Simon and Laney de Montmorency, whose relationship is on the rocks again - and they've already married each other twice.

On the big day, Iris's hellraiser fiancé Dougie Everett is not the only one flying high. As Iris rides up the aisle on a white stallion, a hot air balloon appears over the woods, heading straight for the ceremony. Its arrival is about to transform the lives and loves of some of the wedding guests for ever.

Why so excited? --> A highly anticipated wedding and a hot air balloon crashing the festivities...? Fiona Walker's new release sounds like quite the adventure and I'm really curious to find out what will happen to Iris, her fiancé Dougie and their summer wedding!

Helen Chandler - 'Two for Joy' (6th of June 2013)


Julia and Toby have been friends for years, but apart from a couple of drunken snogs in their university days, there's never been anything more than friendship between them. It's only when Toby goes through a dramatic break up with his gorgeous ballerina girlfriend Ruby, that he and Julia realise they're meant to be together.

Then Ruby drops a bombshell - she's pregnant - and though he feels torn in two, Toby feels he has to give their relationship another chance.

Heartbroken Julia is left to lick her wounds in her little Walthamstow home, thinking she has lost Toby forever. But things soon become much more complicated...

Why so excited? --> Once again, a lovely cover (I adore the small bits of London at the bottom!) I simply couldn't resist if I saw it in a bookshop! This is Helen Chandler's debut novel and I'm quite curious to find out what it's like. The blurb sounds good... Got to love a good, complicated love triangle! 

Hester Browne - 'The Runaway Princess' (6th of June 2013)


Amy Wilde is tired of the idiots her glamorous flatmate Jo tries to set her up with - she'd much rather be landscaping a garden with her dog Badger at her side than trying to find the man of her dreams. That is, until she meets Leo Wolfsburg. Handsome, polite, funny, intriguing - Leo is everything Amy could want in a man. Best of all, the attraction seems mutual.

But Leo's lifestyle is a world away from her own. Private planes, charity balls, exclusive members' clubs - Amy begins to realise that her simple existence has been turned upside down. And just where is Leo's home country of Nirona, anyway? Is this all too good to be true?

Why so excited? --> The title of this novel has already drawn me in, 'The Runaway Princess' sounds lovely, don't you think? It all reminds me just a bit of Meg Cabot's 'The Princess Diaries', but I loved that series and I think this sounds like a promising novel as well! 

Be sure to check the blog for part 2 of June 2013's upcoming releases to look forward to!

27 May 2013

Review: 'Lone Wolf' by Jodi Picoult (2012)

Luke Warren would sleep in the dirt if it meant he could be under the stars. He lives by the laws of nature, and would surely want to die that way. But Luke is in a coma, and his family must make an unbearable decision. As tensions and secrets rise to the surface, the tragic accident which brought them back together against the odds could well tear Luke's family apart forever. They know Luke would not want to live like this. But how can they choose to let him die?

The May 2013 book to read for The New Book Club (@thenewbookclub), which I am a part of, was Jodi Picoult’s ‘Lone Wolf.’ Last month, we read YA novel ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ by Jenny Han, and I was glad when I discovered a completely different novel was chosen as the next book to read. Jodi Picoult is one of the big names when it comes to contemporary women’s fiction, and I’ve heard lots of people who are really enthusiastic about her work. I don’t know why exactly, but I’ve never felt really drawn to her books. I read ‘The Pact’ a few months ago (which I thought was alright), and of course I’ve heard lots about the novel and the film ‘My Sister’s Keeper.’ Reading ‘Lone Wolf’ offered me a new chance to get acquainted with Jodi Picoult’s work and see whether I would perhaps be blown away this time.

‘Lone Wolf’ centres on the Warren family. Luke and Georgie had several good years together, in which they had two children: Edward and Cara. However, Luke is not your average person: he is incredibly passionate about wolves. In fact, so passionate that he decided to leave his family behind for two years to go and live in the wild with a pack of wolves. Now, a couple of years later, Georgie lives together with her second husband Joe and their two children, while Cara lives with her father and has developed a love for wolves, similar to Luke’s. However, when Cara and Luke are involved in a serious car crash, the world of the Warren’s is turned upside down. Cara gets out of the crash with some minor injuries, but Luke is declared brain dead and in a coma. The whole family, including Luke and Georgie’s son Edward who fled to Thailand when he was 18 for an unknown reason, is brought together again to not only make a crucial decision about Luke’s life, but about their own futures as well.

Jodi Picoult is known for her complex plots which usually include a big moral decision. This is a specific formula she uses in all her novels and one that seems to guarantee success. ‘Lone Wolf’ also has that big moral decision at its centre: Cara and Edward have to decide whether they want to end their father’s life or believe in a possible recovery. The concept of ‘family’, and all the misunderstandings and secrets that come with this, is explored alongside this moral dilemma. However, while the basis for this novel definitely includes some interesting aspects, I wasn’t drawn in by the plot or the main characters. Even after about a 100 pages, I still wasn’t convinced whether I wanted to keep on reading or not. A part of me wanted to find out what would happen to Luke, Edward and Cara, but another part of me simply didn’t really care. 

It is clear Jodi Picoult did a lot of extensive research before writing this novel. A large part of the book consists of information on wolf packs and how they live, and this is then compared to humans. While I thought some of the wolf facts were definitely interesting, I thought the overall focus on wolves was too much. I would have liked the story better if that specific space had been used to develop some of the characters a bit more. I felt like I didn’t really got to know Cara, and I would have loved for Helen Bedd (the court-appointed guardian) to have played a bigger role. ‘Lone Wolf’ has a fascinating plotline, but the way it was eventually worked out disappointed me. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the Jodi Picoult book to convince me, and I’m curious to find out whether I will try one of her novels again soon and if so, what that experience will be like. 

Rating:6/10          


22 May 2013

Review: 'The Lying Game' by Tess Stimson (2013)

There are some things we are never meant to know...

Harriet Lockwood has never really bonded with her daughter, Florence, the way she has with her three sons. Then one day, she discovers why. The girl she’s raised for the last fifteen years is not her biological child.

Zoey Sands is a single mother with a chaotic lifestyle. The one constant in her life is her daughter, Nell. Nothing can ever come between them – can it?

When Harriet turns up on Zoey’s doorstep demanding to see her biological daughter, the two families are plunged into a storm of bitter rivalries… and unexpected alliances.

I was really excited when I found a review copy from the lovely people at Pan MacMillan of Tess Stimson’s ‘The Lying Game’ in my mailbox. Not only had the attractive cover already caught my eye a few times (I love the intense blue of the woman’s skirt, the red high heels, and the touch of drama added by the falling wine glass), but I had never read anything by Tess Stimson before, while I’ve heard good things. This review copy of ‘The Lying Game’ therefore provided me with the ideal opportunity to sit down with a hopefully great novel and to be introduced to a new author at the same time! 

Harriet Lockwood seems to have the perfect life: she is married to the love of her life, Oliver, with whom she has four children (one daughter, three sons); she has a PR job which she loves; and she lives in a beautiful house in rural Vermont. However, somehow Harriet has never really bonded with her teenage daughter Florence. Somewhere deep down it is therefore not a complete surprise when Harriet discovers her biological daughter and Florence were switched at birth. At the other side of the world, Zoey Sands lives together with her daughter Nell in a small, messy London flat. Zoey’s already slightly chaotic life is completely turned upside down when she receives a letter from the hospital stating her daughter Nell is not her biological child. Harriet, Zoey and their families are taken on an emotional rollercoaster ride as they try to deal with the switch and what this means for each and every one of them and their futures.

Within the first 40 pages of this novel, the reader is invited to have a look at the lives of the Lockwood’s and the Sands’, from the perspectives of mothers Harriet and Zoey, and daughters Florence and Nell. It doesn’t take long before the switched-at-birth incident comes to the light and together with the characters in the novel I was taken on a heavily emotional and unpredictable journey. The subject of babies being accidentally switched at birth in the hospital is a controversial topic that has been discussed in various ways over the years (perhaps some of you are familiar with the American TV show ‘Switched at Birth’). Tess Stimson deals with the issue in a realistic and interesting way, especially by not simply writing from one point of view but using the perspectives of numerous characters: both mothers (Harriet & Zoey), both daughters (Florence & Nell), and also a male standpoint from Harriet’s husband, Oliver. I personally thought this really added another layer to the story, because the experience is different for each individual character with a world of emotions behind it. Because the novel is not that long (approximately 300 pages), this did result in some seemingly hurried scenes every now and again. While some people might like the fast pace of this novel, I found myself wishing there were perhaps another 100 pages extra to get to know the characters just that little bit better. 

While reading I found myself not wanting to put this novel down for even a single second. The term ‘emotional rollercoaster’ is one that definitely applies when it comes to this book. This is of course linked to the controversial topic, but also has to do with the way Tess Stimson manages to introduce new enthralling elements every few pages. If you are looking for a simple light summer read, I would not recommend this book. But if you are looking for an absorbing, thought-provoking, fast-paced chick lit novel, then definitely pick this up... You will not be disappointed! 

Rating:8/10      

21 May 2013

May 2013 release: 'Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop' by Abby Clements

 
When Imogen and Anna unexpectedly inherit their grandmother Vivien's ice cream parlour, it turns both their lives upside-down. The Brighton shop is a seafront institution, but while it's big on charm it's critically low on customers. If the sisters don't turn things around quickly, their grandmother's legacy will disappear forever.

With summer looming, Imogen and Anna devise a plan to return Vivien's to its former glory. Rather than sell up, they will train up, and make the parlour the newest destination on the South Coast foodie map.
 
While Imogen watches the shop, her sister flies to Italy to attend a gourmet ice cream-making course. But as she works shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best chefs in the industry, Anna finds that romance can bloom in the most unexpected of places...
 
I absolutely adore the summery pastel cover of Abby Clements' novel! I don't know why, but I simply love any kind of story that one way or another has to do with ice cream parlours or cupcake cafes... Perhaps it's the yummy treats? This novel has been on my to-read wishlist for quite some time already, and I'm glad the 23rd of May is almost here... Can't wait to find out what will happen to Imogen and Anna and that lovely ice cream parlour!
 
Pre-order your own copy here!

20 May 2013

Review: 'Because You Are Mine' by Beth Kery (2013)


When they met, the instant attraction was unmistakable…a purely, exquisitely physical charge. 

Succumbing to their desires is the easy part. But when passion opens the door to an intimacy neither has known, can a man known for being unbendable learn to love?

When the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ trilogy by E.L. James topped the book charts all over the world in 2012, I got curious and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I had never read any erotic romance fiction before, so it was something completely new (and I have to admit, slightly scary) to me. The tale of Christian Grey and Ana Steele definitely held my interest; otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to read all three books. But to say I absolutely loved the novels and couldn’t wait to sneak in a few pages of reading after a long working day... No, not really. So, when I received a review copy from Headline of Beth Kery’s ‘Because You Are Mine’ and I read the blurb, I wasn’t too sure whether this book would be for me. However, I wanted to give the genre another chance, so with a large cup of tea and a blanket ready on the couch, I dove in. 

‘Because You Are Mine’ tells the story of thirty-something wealthy businessman Ian Noble and twenty-three year-old artist Francesca Noble. Francesca is an Arts student who has won a competition to create the centrepiece painting for the lobby of Noble’s new office building in Chicago. During a party held in her honour, she meets Ian Noble for the first time and from the start there is something between them. Francesca is immediately fascinated by Ian and the attraction appears to be mutual. Ian helps Francesca to discover her sexuality, but it doesn’t take long before Francesca longs for more. She wants to break through Ian’s walls, but is he ready for this and does he want the kind of intimacy Francesca is looking for?

The storyline of this novel seemed very familiar: a dominant, rich, handsome alpha male falls for a younger, slightly shy, virgin whom he teaches about sexuality. This is apparently seen as a ‘winning formula’ within the world of erotic romance fiction (so I’ve read), which is probably why it reminded me so much of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ A bit too much, to my personal opinion. I really missed the chemistry between the two main characters, Ian and Francesca. I liked Francesca at the beginning of the novel; she seemed to be a strong young woman, opinionated, and not someone to simply play around with. However, as the story progressed, Francesca became more and more submissive. I know this is part of the novel and the relation Ian and Francesca have with one another, but I thought it was a waste Francesca seemed to transform into someone completely different. I really missed the development of the characters throughout the novel, and felt like not much was going on or actually changing.

While ‘Because You Are Mine’ was published as one novel in 2013, it had already been released as 8 separate parts at the end of 2012. I didn’t notice that the author originally wrote this story as several parts; it definitely fit the form of a longer novel. I also really liked Beth Kery’s writing; it was easy to read and seemed to be of a certain kind of quality which I sometimes miss in these kind of novels. Yet, while I was working my way through the book, I wasn’t once really grabbed by the story. It didn’t bother me to read it, but I also wasn’t sad when it all came to an end. I am sure there are people out there, particularly fans of erotic romance fiction, who will be able to really appreciate and love this novel, but it wasn’t one I think I will pick up again.

Rating:
6,5/10
   

May 2013 release: 'It's Up to You New York' by Tess Daly


Will Holly find love in the city where dreams are made?

Fielding calls from disgruntled customers on a crispbread telesales careline isn't exactly where Holly Collins saw herself in life. Living in a shoebox flat and working in a windowless building on an outer London industrial estate were never quite what she'd had in mind. So when Holly is picked from obscurity to take part in Street Scout, a television series on the hunt for fashion's next big model, life finally seems to be taking a turn for the better for the happy-go-lucky twenty-something. Surely this is her big moment?

But Holly knows only too well that dreams are just that and when it feels like everything - and everybody - is conspiring against her, Holly heads for New York with her best friend Meg. The magic of Manhattan has Holly in its grasp: strutting down 5th Avenue and drinking two too many cosmopolitans, taking romantic carriage rides in Central Park and standing at the top of the Empire State building she can scarcely believe how far away the real world seems. But when Holly is faced with the biggest decision of her life can she make the fairy tale become a reality?

I only know Tess Daly as a TV presenter and I honestly had no idea she is also an author of chick lit novels. Her book 'The Camera Never Lies' looks like a lovely read, but on the 23rd of May her new novel 'It's Up to You New York' will be released! This book tells the story of Holly Collins who goes to New York to escape her troubles and hopes to find her own real-life fairy-tale in the Big Apple. I am already in love with the cover and the setting of this particular novel, and I can't wait to find out what Tess Daly's writing skills are like!

Pre-order your own copy here!

19 May 2013

May 2013 release: 'Billy and Me' by Giovanna Fletcher


Sophie May has a secret.

One that she's successfully kept for years. It's meant that she's had to give up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world to stay in her little village, living with her mum and working in the local teashop.

But then she meets the gorgeous Billy - an actor with ambitions to make it to the top. And when they fall in love, Sophie is whisked away from the comfort of her life into Billy's glamorous - but ruthless - world.

Their relationship throws Sophie right into the spotlight after years of shying away from attention. Can she handle the constant scrutiny that comes with being with Billy? And most of all, is she ready for her secret heartbreak to be discovered and shared with the nation?

Giovanna Fletcher's upcoming novel has been getting a lot of attention the past few weeks, and I am one of those people who really can't wait to get their hands on a copy! I've only heard good things and read great reviews of 'Billy and Me', and apparently there's especially lots of love for the character of Billy... Nothing like a gorgeous leading man to dream about! Giovanna Fletcher is such a lovely person and I am 100% sure her novel will not disappoint... Can't wait for its release on the 23rd of May! 

Pre-order your own copy here!


18 May 2013

Review: 'Perfect Strangers' by Tasmina Perry (2012)


Just an innocent invitation...

When Sophie Ellis is asked to house-sit at a luxurious Knightsbridge townhouse, it appears to be the offer of a lifetime. Drawn into the glittering circle of the home's owner, she meets wealthy American businessman Nick Cooper and is swept up into a thrilling and passionate affair. 

But when Nick is found dead in his hotel suite, Sophie is suddenly the prime suspect for his murder, and soon realises Nick was not the man he seemed. Racing to find the truth and clear her name, Sophie must elude not only the authorities but also a group of dangerous players who believe Sophie has something that they want. And who won't stop until she's caught...

I am a true sucker for romance and happy endings; have been for as long as I can remember. This becomes instantly apparent from my favourite books and films: all of them have to do with love and, most importantly, have that happily ever after some people find too unrealistic or predictable. I know precisely why these are the kind of tales I love to lose myself in: I want to find that kind of happiness in my life, and I thoroughly enjoy reading about other people’s (even if they are just fictional characters) roads to their own happy endings. Why would I want to read about murder, financial troubles, war...? There’s already enough trouble in this world, so in that little corner of my mind there’s simply not allowed to be any. So, when I received this review copy of Tasmina Perry’s novel ‘Perfect Strangers’ from the lovely people at Headline, I at first wasn’t completely sure whether this novel would be something I’d enjoy. How wrong was I!

Sophie Ellis is a rich Chelsea socialite who seems to have it all. However, when her family loses all their money and her father suddenly dies of a heart-attack, Sophie’s life changes significantly. She decides to pick up the pieces and go on as quick as possible, so when she is asked to house-sit for a new friend in Knightsbridge, she gladly accepts. At a glamorous party she meets handsome stranger Nick Cooper with whom she starts a passionate love affair. Yet, when Sophie finds Nick’s lifeless body in the shower one morning and she is automatically considered one of the main murder suspects, her life is once again turned upside down. This time, however, it turns out to be slightly more difficult to find her way out...

I hadn’t read a novel by Tasmina Perry before, and I was pleasantly surprised. From the first couple of pages I was captivated by the story and its exciting and intriguing plot. Who killed Nick, and why? What was going to happen to Sophie? I didn’t want to put the novel down, and all the twists and turns which I seriously did not see coming only strengthened this longing to keep on reading. I really liked Sophie; she isn’t your average Chelsea girl, which becomes clear from the start. She is thrown into a situation no one wants to find themselves in and I think it is very impressive how she deals with everything that is going on in her life. I adore fictional heroines who are strong, know how to take care of themselves and want to do the right thing; Sophie fits this picture perfectly. I found myself rooting for her straight away and hoping she would be able to find the real killer and go on with her life. 

Tasmina Perry turns out to be one of those authors I have definitely been missing out on. Even though I initially thought this novel might not be the kind of thing I would like, I found out that chick lits with a touch of crime might after all be books I can really enjoy and get lost in. ‘Perfect Strangers’ encompasses a great mix of mystery, excitement, drama and a touch of romance and keeps on throwing new twists and turns your way. If you’re looking for a novel that includes both glamour and intrigue, then be sure to pick up this book. I certainly can’t wait to get my hands on the next Tasmina Perry novel!

Rating:
8/10


13 May 2013

May 2013 release: 'The Lying Game' by Tess Stimson


There are some things we are never meant to know . . .

Harriet Lockwood has never really bonded with her daughter, Florence, the way she has with her three sons. Then one day, she discovers why. The girl she’s raised for the last fifteen years is not her biological child. Zoey Sands is a single mother with a chaotic lifestyle. The one constant in her life is her daughter, Nell. Nothing can ever come between them – can it?

When Harriet turns up on Zoey’s doorstep demanding to see her biological daughter, the two families are plunged into a storm of bitter rivalries… and unexpected alliances.

Ever since I saw the cover of Tess Stimson's new novel, I've been excited about it. The gorgeous blue dress and red high heels really grabbed my attention, but so did the blurb! The story reminds me of the TV show 'Switched at Birth', which I really like, and I'm quite curious to read what Tess Stimson did with this particular storyline. What will happen to Harriet and Zoey and their daughters? If you're already just as intrigued by this novel as I am, be sure to pick up your own copy from the 23rd of May!

Click here to pre-order your copy now! 


12 May 2013

Review: 'From Notting Hill to New York... Actually' by Ali McNamara (2012)

Scarlett O’Brien, utterly addicted to romantic films, has found her leading man. She’s convinced Sean is Mr Right, but the day-to-day reality of a relationship isn’t quite like the movies. With Sean constantly away on business, Scarlett and her new best friend Oscar decide to head to New York for the holiday of a lifetime. 

From one famous landmark to the next, Scarlett and Oscar make many new friends during their adventure - including sailors in town for Fleet Week, a famous film star, and Jamie & Max, a TV reporter and cameraman. Scarlett finds herself strangely drawn to Jamie, they appear to have much in common: a love of films and Jamie’s search for a parent he never knew. But Scarlett has to ask herself why she is reacting like this to another man when she’s so in love with Sean …

Somehow I didn't know anything about this sequel to Ali McNamara's 'From Notting Hill With Love... Actually'. Don't ask me how, because I absolutely LOVED that novel and I had been secretly wishing and hoping for another book about Scarlett for quite some time already. So, imagine my surprise and excitement when I walked into a book shop last year and suddenly saw a familiar title jumping up at me. I remember even squealing and perhaps jumping up and down a bit, out of pure excitement, then and there (I also remember my boyfriend's sigh because I was getting so excited about 'just another book'), because I simply knew this novel would not let me down. I couldn't wait to get lost in Scarlett's world again, and find out which movies and celebrities would cross her path this time around... And let me tell you, the sequel certainly didn't disappoint!

Scarlett O'Brien seems to have it all: she has found the love of her life in the form of Sean, with whom she is living together in his lovely Notting Hill mansion and the family business is thriving like never before. However, Sean is a busy man and away on business a lot, which results in Scarlett starting to feel like something is missing from her life. When Sean suggests a trip to New York, Scarlett can't wait to pack her bags and within no time she and her best friend Oscar are on their way to the Big Apple. During the trip, Scarlett meets several interesting people, such as reporter Jamie with whom she has an instant click, and quickly finds herself starring in another celebrity-filled romantic adventure which she had not seen coming...

This novel already has a great basis, because of the same lovely characters that were introduced in the first book: Scarlett (whom I just love as the heroine of this series), Oscar (who plays a bigger role as Scarlett's BFF and managed to crack me up continually with his behaviour and comments), and Sean (who is just the perfect match for Scarlett, a real Prince Charming!). Yet, the several new characters that are introduced such as Jamie, Max, and Peter bring their own special something to the table. I already loved the scene setting at the start of the novel, Notting Hill, but New York obviously brings another level of excitement and fabulousness to the story. I've never been to New York myself, but with this novel it really felt like I was there, visiting all the landmarks and doing the sightseeing. My desire to visit NYC someday has only grown! Next to the well-written characters and the fantastic scene setting, Ali McNamara once again managed to add some fantastic classic romantic movie scenes to the story (from 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' to 'You've Got Mail') and some great celebrity appearances (ladies, be prepared for some entertaining scenes with some seriously good-looking famous men!). Next to all these great elements, the plot itself is really entertaining with not just romance and humour, but also a bit of mystery in it here and there.

If you're a fan of chick lit novels and/or romantic comedies, you must pick up this novel because it is a definite must-read! No worries if you haven't read 'From Notting Hill with Love... Actually'; Ali McNamara gives enough background information to understand the story without having read the first novel. However, I highly recommand starting with the first one, simply because it is also a great novel you don't want to miss out on. Trust me, you will not want to put it down! Some readers might label this book as 'cliched' or 'obvious', but I have to disagree. I think with most chick lit novels you can sometimes slightly predict what is going to happen, but in this case it definitely didn't ruin the story for me. To me, the novel had a certain sparkle, a touch of magic, which resulted in me simply not wanting to put it down and not wanting it to end. Talking about endings, this novel has to have one of my favourite endings of all time... It's quite spectacular! So, overall, an amazing read which has left me with one burning question: when can we expect a third novel?

Rating:
10/10



8 May 2013

Review: 'Husband, Missing' by Polly Williams (2013)


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Gina has only been married six months when her husband Rex goes on holiday to Spain and vanishes without a trace, tipping her dream new marriage into nightmare. As a frantic search gets nowhere, Gina is adamant that he's alive and vows never to give up hope. Speculation is rife: he's drowned at sea, lost his memory...or just walked away. Troubling stories start to emerge about Rex's past that are hard to square with the man she married. How well does she really know her handsome, charismatic husband? They'd fallen in love so quickly, so passionately, that the past had seemed barely relevant to either of them. Now an explosive secret threatens to rewrite the story of their love affair. As the mystery of Rex's whereabouts deepens, Gina begins to wonder whether you only ever truly know the person you love once they've gone.

Thanks to the lovely people at Headine, I received a copy of ‘Husband, Missing’ in the mail last week. After reading some great reviews of this novel on other blogs the past couple of weeks, I had already added the book to my ‘to-read’ list. As soon as I pulled the sunset-coloured cover from the envelope, I knew I couldn’t wait to get started and see whether I would agree with all the positive reviews out there.

‘Husband, Missing’ tells the story of Gina and Rex, a couple who are blissfully in love and got married after only knowing each other for six months. Everything seems perfect, until one day Gina receives a phone call that Rex has gone missing. He had gone on holiday to Spain with his brother Jake and some friends, went out surfing one morning and didn’t return. Gina’s world comes crumbling down, but in between all the chaos she knows Rex is still alive; she can feel it. Even when her friends and family lose hope and tell her to move on, Gina cannot let go of her husband. However, as time goes by, Gina gets to know more and more about Rex’s life before she appeared in the picture, and she starts to have doubts about the man and the marriage she so blindly believes in...

After the first couple of pages, I was already hooked by this story. From the moment Gina hears Rex has gone missing, I only wanted to read on in order to find out what was going to happen. Where was Rex? What had happened to him? The story is told from Gina’s perspective, which results in the reader being taken along on this emotional rollercoaster of feelings. The mystery surrounding Gina’s husband, Rex, kept me intrigued and I wasn’t satisfied until I had finished the novel. However, it wasn’t just Gina, but also the other characters that made this story so compelling. Rex is the link which connects various people to Gina: his half-brother Jake, his mother Clarice, his ex-girlfriend Mandy. These characters were all well-developed and had their own story to tell, which I loved. 

I hadn’t read any of Polly Williams’ work before this novel, but I heard good things about ‘The Rise and Fall of a Yummy Mummy’ and ‘The Angel at No. 33’. After reading this novel, I will certainly check out Polly's other books as well. ‘Husband, Missing’ is beautifully written; a warm, honest and bittersweet tale. This novel has a somewhat deeper and more mature feel and isn’t your typical chick lit romance. So, if you are looking for something slightly different, be sure to pick up this intriguing and well-written novel which will keep you in its grip until the very end!  

Rating:
8/10

7 May 2013

May 2013 release: 'The Foster Husband' by Pippa Wright

 
In love and marriage, practice makes perfect...
 
Kate left her seaside home town of Lyme Regis for the bright lights of London when she was eighteen, and never looked back. She had it all: the glamorous career, the lovely house, the gorgeous husband.
 
But now she’s back: unemployed, separated, and holed up in her dead granny’s bungalow. Worse still, she’s forced to share the bungalow with Ben, the clueless and domestically challenged fiancé of her bossy sister Prue.
 
Ben is a man in need of simple instruction. And Kate is a woman in need of a project. So she decides to secretly train Ben, her foster husband, as a selfless pre-wedding gift to her sister.
 
But Kate may still have a few lessons of her own to learn…
 
I am really excited about this new novel by Pippa Wright which will be released on the 9th of May! Next to the pretty purple and pink cover, the blurb promises a fabulous story! I love the idea of a project, and a foster husband to train sounds like a recipe for disaster and laughter. Perhaps us readers can even pick up a thing or two to deal with the men in our lives! Can't wait to find out what happens to Kate!
 
Click here to pre-order your copy now!

6 May 2013

May 2013 release: 'Wish You Were Here' by Victoria Connelly


Sun, sea and secrets…
 
A week on the sunny Greek island of Kethos is just what Alice Archer needs, even if she has to put up with her difficult sister. Stella’s tantrums and diva-like demands are a fair price to pay for crystal-clear waters, blue skies and white clifftop villas.
 
When Alice meets Milo, a handsome gardener at the Villa Argenti, for the first time she suddenly feels beautiful, alluring and confident. But is it just holiday magic or will the irresistible pull between Alice and Milo survive against all odds?
 
The sun has finally arrived and this upcoming release (the 9th of May, to be exact!) by Victoria Connelly will only make sure we hang onto that summery feeling! 'Wish You Were Here' tells the story of Alice Archer's holiday to a Greek island where she meets a hunky gardener... Do I need to say more? I loved Victoria Connelly's novel 'A Weekend with Mr. Darcy' and I can't wait to get my hands on this holiday read!
 
Click here to pre-order your copy now!



5 May 2013

Review: 'From Notting Hill With Love... Actually' by Ali McNamara (2010)


She was a girl, standing in front of a boy...

Movie fanatic Scarlett O'Brien dreams of a life as glamorous and romantic as all the big screen flicks she worships. When a chance house-sitting job in iconic Notting Hill comes along, she knows living in one of her favorite movie settings is an opportunity too good to pass up.

Leaving behind her skeptical friends, family, and fiance, Scarlett heads to London and finds herself thrust into the lead role of her very own romantic comedy. But can real life ever be just like the movies? Larger-than-life new friends, a handsome but irksome new neighbor, and a mystery from her past may prove to Scarlett that living her life like a RomCom is more complicated than she thought!

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a complete sucker for a romantic tale. Next to my obsession with chick lit novels, I adore any kind of romantic comedy, or ‘chick flick.’ I have DVDs of all the classics at home, and every time a new romantic comedy hits the cinemas you can count on me to buy a ticket in order to enjoy 2 hours of romance, laughter and tears. ‘Notting Hill’ and ‘Love Actually’ have been two of my absolute favourites for years, so as soon as I saw the cover of Ali McNamara’s debut novel I had already fallen in love with it. It was one of those books I couldn’t wait to dive into, because I simply knew it would be amazing. 

Scarlett O’Brien is a 23-year-old film fanatic who lives in Stratford-Upon-Avon, where she works for her father’s company specialised in popcorn machines. Scarlett, whose name and looks are often immediately linked to Vivien Leigh and ‘Gone with the Wind’, enjoys her life with her sensible fiancé David, but she somehow feels as if something is missing. As soon as she receives the opportunity to house-sit a mansion in Notting Hill, Scarlett leaves behind her family and friends in order to prove to them real life can be just like in the movies. However, soon Scarlett finds herself starring in her own personalised romantic comedy as she starts a journey to unravel some mysteries from her past and is joined by her hunky neighbour Sean on the way... Will Scarlett be able to accept that life can’t always be like a movie script, or will she be able to prove everyone around her there’s a touch of movie magic in everything we do after all?

I honestly don’t know where to start with this novel. Why? Because I simply adored every single detail. I loved the heroine of the novel, Scarlett, and all the other characters that were introduced, from the more important ones (Scarlett’s attractive neighbour Sean, the fabulously extravagant Oscar, and Scarlett’s lovely best friend Maddie) to the extra’s (the policemen that find Scarlett wandering around Notting Hill, the elderly Parisian lady who shares some important information with Scarlett). Even though the plots of romantic comedies are usually known for being quite predictable, I thought the story of this novel was quite clever with its several sub-plots and there were definitely several surprises I personally did not see coming! The storyline flowed easily and I wasn’t bored by it for even a second. I absolutely loved recognising all the scenes from films such as ‘Notting Hill’, ‘Sleepless in Seattle’, ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘Love Actually’, and the occasional appearances from real-life celebrities only added that extra bit of movie magic to the story.

With every page I turned, this novel only made me smile brighter. I couldn’t help but be amazed by all the details and the inclusion of everything I love in one 400-page novel: Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, themed weddings, Disneyland, benches in Notting Hill, the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens.. You name it, it’s in there! To all the hopeless romantics out there just like myself, I don’t want to give anything away, but the ending of this novel... You’ll be blown away. I can’t believe this is Ali McNamara’s debut novel, and I absolutely can’t WAIT for her other novels (including a sequel to this one, oh yes!). I recommend this novel to any fan of romantic comedies and/or chick lit novels; this book belongs on your shelf, without a doubt!     

Rating:10/10