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29 June 2013

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

I already told you about some fabulous releases that are coming up at the start of July. However, next month has even more lovely reads to offer, as you can read below!


Judy Astley - 'In the Summertime' (4th of July 2013)

It's twenty years since Miranda, then sixteen, holidayed in Cornwall and her life changed forever. Now she's back again - with her mother Clare and the ashes of her stepfather Jack, whose wish was to be scattered on the sea overlooked by their one-time holiday home.

The picturesque cove seems just the same as ever, but the people are different - more smart incomers,fewer locals, more luxury yachts in the harbour. But Miranda and Clare both find some strangely familiar faces, and revisit the emotions they both thought had disappeared.

Why so excited? --> I'll be going on holiday to Cornwall this summer, for the first time, so the fact that this book is set there, already sparked my interest! I love the beachy/summery feel of the cover, and I'm pretty sure Judy Astley won't disappoint!


Alison Jameson - 'Little Beauty' (4th of July 2013)

1975: Laura Quinn has spent her life on the remote and beautiful Inis Miol Mor - Whale Island- off the west coast of Ireland. After the death of her parents, and faced with the continuing reluctance of her lover, Martin, to marry her, she realizes she needs to leave the island for her life really to begin. She accepts a job as a housekeeper with a wealthy couple on the mainland. But a year later, Laura is back, and this time she is not alone. She has at last found the love of her life: a baby son named Matthew. But what sort of life can an unmarried mother have on a remote Irish island in the 1970s? In this complex situation is revealed a picture of a tightly knit community where Laura inevitably comes under pressure to conform to the rules of society.

Why so excited? --> I really love the cover of this novel, it's so cute! I'm quite curious to read this one, because it is set in the 70's (I haven't read many novels set in this particular decade, which might be an interesting switch to another time), and Laura's story already fascinates me. The island and trying to conform to the rules of the society Laura finds herself in... Look forward to checking this one out!


Gemma Burgess - 'Brooklyn Girls' (4th of July 2013)

Pia is living the dream: fresh out of college and sharing a house in Brooklyn with her best friends. So why is everything so complicated?

A drunken indiscretion has led to the loss of her boring office job, while her love life is a dizzy mess of accidental hook-ups and heartbreak...

Her parents don't trust her and, if she doesn't sort her life out soon, they're going to make her move back in with them...

But all that's nothing compared to the kind of trouble she's about to face.

At least she can rely on her friends - Coco, Angie, Julia and Madeleine. But how much can she really expect them to put up with?

Why so excited? --> The New Adult genre seems to become more popular with the minute, or am I the only one constantly coming across this term?! 'Brooklyn Girls' sounds like a lot of fun; I love novels about twenty-somethings who are still figuring out what they want in life, and all the drama that comes with it! Can't wait to pick up my own copy of this!


Claire Garber - 'Love is a Thief' (5th of July 2013)

What did you miss out on because you fell in love?

I might just be ‘that’ girl. You know the one. The girl who, for no particular reason, doesn’t get the guy, doesn’t have children, doesn’t get the romantic happy ever after. So I needed to come up with a plan.

What did I like doing? What didn’t I get to do because I fell in love? What would I be happy spending the rest of my life doing if love never showed up again?

Kate Winters is going on a journey to do all the things that love has snatched from her and her friends, to reclaim her dreams and theirs in the hope of finding her future. But there’s a chance that new dreams are better than the old…

Why so excited? --> I really like the description of this novel; it sounds like something different, something that hasn't been done before. Next to that, I've only heard lovely things about this novel from other reviewers, so I'll definitely give this a chance! 


Rebecca Farnworth - 'Swimming Pool Summer' (18th of July 2013)

Frankie hasn't had a proper relationship for years. But though she tells everyone this is how she wants it, but secretly she's in love with her best friend Patrick.

Tor didn't think she could have a baby, but now she is pregnant by her younger lover. Could this mean the end of a romance that has started to mean more to her than she expected?

Leila seems to have it all - a happy marriage, a beautiful daughter and a successful career. But Leila is harbouring a secret that could destroy her marriage forever.

On an idyllic Greek island, the three women try to keep their secrets hidden. But emotions are running high, and when an unexpected guest arrives, events start to spin out of control.

Why so excited? --> Okay, if this doesn't sound like the perfect summer holiday read, then I don't know what does! As the cover says: 'three women, three secrets, one holiday'... I'm intrigued and look forward to reading more about Frankie, Tor and Leila and their holiday on a Greek island.


Lisa Jewell - 'The House We Grew Up In' (18th of July 2013)

Meet the Bird Family:

All four children have an idyllic childhood: a picture-book cottage in a country village, a warm, cosy kitchen filled with love and laughter, sun-drenched afternoons in a rambling garden. But one Easter weekend a tragedy strikes the Bird family that is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear them apart.

The years pass and the children become adults and begin to develop their own quite separate lives. Soon it's almost as though they've never been a family at all. Almost. But not quite.

Because something has happened that will call them home, back to the house they grew up in - and to what really happened that Easter weekend all those years ago.

Why so excited? --> I absolutely adore Lisa Jewell's novels. Her stories always have something special and  it sounds like 'The House We Grew Up In' won't disappoint! I'm already fascinated by the Bird Family and this particular event that happened in their family home. Without a doubt, I know this will be a good read I'll be recommending to others!


Tasmina Perry - Deep Blue Sea (18th of July 2013)

Beneath the shimmering surface lies a dark secret...

Diana and Julian Denver have the world at their feet. With a blissful marriage, a darling son and beautiful homes in London and the country, Diana's life, to the outside world, is perfect. But nothing is as it seems... 

When Julian dies suddenly and tragically, Diana is convinced there is more to it than meets the eye. She calls on the one person she had never wanted to see again - her sister, Rachel.

A former tabloid reporter, Rachel appears to be living the dream as a diving instructor on a Thai island. The truth is she's in exile, estranged from her family and driven from her career by Fleet Street's phone-hacking scandal. 

For Rachel, Diana's request opens old wounds. But she is determined to make amends for the past, and embarks on a treacherous journey to uncover the truth - wherever it may lead...

Why so excited? --> I read my first Tasmina Perry novel a couple of months ago ('Perfect Strangers') and I really liked it. Her novels are filled with glamour, mystery and intrigue, and it sounds like 'Deep Blue Sea' will fit these keywords perfectly. 

Lots of exciting releases coming up in the month of July! Which ones will you be picking up?

28 June 2013

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

And then July was almost upon us! Time for summer: sunshine, day trips to the beach, watching the sunset, ice cream... And most importantly, holiday reading! Have you already decided which books to fill up your suitcase with? Well, no worries if you haven't, July has got some pretty amazing releases coming up. And if you already decided on your holiday reading, you'd better think again!


Lori Nelson Spielman - 'The Life List' (2nd of July 2013)

1. Go to Paris
2. Have a baby, maybe two
3. Fall in love

Brett Bohlinger seems to have it all: a plum job, a spacious loft, an irresistibly handsome boyfriend. All in all, a charmed life. That is, until her beloved mother passes away, leaving behind a will with one big stipulation: In order to receive her inheritance, Brett must first complete the life list of goals she’d written when she was a na├»ve girl of fourteen. Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother’s decision—her childhood dreams don’t resemble her ambitions at age thirty-four in the slightest. Some seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other goals (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future. As Brett reluctantly embarks on a perplexing journey in search of her adolescent dreams, one thing becomes clear. Sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.

Why so excited? --> I read somewhere that fans of Cecelia Ahern will love this particular novel, and as I'm a big Cecelia fan, I couldn't ignore this! I love the idea behind this novel, mainly because I am a true list-maker myself, but also because I am interested in Brett's journey to achieving the things on her list and with that fulfilling her mother's last wish... I have a feeling this will be a tearjerker! 


Adele Parks - 'The State We're In' (4th of July 2013)

What are the odds that the stranger sitting next to you on a plane is destined to change your life? Especially when they appear to be your opposite in every way.

She's a life-long optimist, looking for her soul mate in every man she meets; he's a resolute cynic - cruel experience has taught him never to put his faith in anyone.

People can surprise you. In the time it takes to fly from London to Chicago, each finds something in the other that they didn't even realise they needed.

Their pasts are such that they can never make one another happy and it's when they get off the plane, that their true journey begins...

Why so excited? --> Adele Parks is one of the big names on the chick lit scene, so do I even have to explain why I am looking forward to this specific release? I've already heard lots of fascinating and enthusiastic things about 'The State We're In', especially that it's a novel that requires some thought and will stay with you. Can't wait to get my own copy!


Jo Carnegie - 'Party Games' (4th of July 2013)

Although the countryside town of Beeversham looks picture-perfect, nothing is quite as it seems. Behind closed doors, three women are struggling to lead the lives they want.

Vanessa seems like she simply must have it all - she's beautiful, rich and married to gorgeous actor, Conrad. But beneath the glitz, she is asking herself whether this really is the life she wants to lead - when she has so much, why does she feel so empty?

Meanwhile, Fleur is trying desperately to save the farm that her family have lived on for hundreds of years, when playboy Beau makes her an offer she can't refuse.

And Catherine has given up the high-flying career she thought she always wanted, and is trying to build a wonderful new life in the country. But finding rural bliss is harder than it looks.

Hopes and dreams, loves and losses - and lots and lots of secrets - let Jo Carnegie take you behind the scenes of one very special town.

Why so excited? --> I'm personally not familiar with Jo Carnegie's work, but when I first saw the cover of 'Party Games' it already caught my eye! I love stories about countryside towns and tales that focus on more than one main character, so I look forward to finding out more about Beeversham, Vanessa, Fleur and Catherine!


Charity Norman - 'The Son-in-Law' (4th of July 2013)

For three years Joseph Scott has been haunted by one moment-the moment that changed his life forever. Now he is starting over, and he wants his family back more than anything.

This is the story of Joseph and his wife, Zoe; of their children, Scarlet, Theo and Ben, for whom nothing will be the same; and of Zoe's parents, who can't forgive or understand.

A compelling, moving and ultimately optimistic story of one man who will do almost anything to be reunited with his children. And of the grandparents who are determined to stop him.

Why so excited? --> I didn't know anything about the release of this novel, until I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of Charity Norman's new book. I've already read it (review will be up on the blog soon), and trust me, if you're looking for a gripping, emotional read, you have to pick up a copy of 'The Son-in-Law'... Definitely a recommendation!


Lindsey Kelk - 'About a Girl' (4th of July 2013)

I’d lost my job. I’d lost the love of my life. My mum wasn’t talking to me. My best friend was epically pissed off. And my flatmate probably had a hit out on me by now. I never meant for things to get so out of hand…

Tess Brookes has always been a Girl with a Plan. But when her carefully constructed Plan goes belly up, she’s forced to reconsider.

After accidently answering her flatmate Vanessa’s phone, she decides that since being Tess isn’t going so well, why shouldn’t she try out being Vanessa? With nothing left to lose, she accepts Vanessa’s photography assignment to Hawaii – she used to be an amateur snapper, how hard can it be? Right?

But Tess is soon in big trouble – she isn’t a photographer, she isn’t Vanessa, and the gorgeous journalist on the shoot with her, who is making it very clear he’d like to get into her pants, is an egotistical monster.

Far from home and in someone else’s shoes, Tess must decide whether to fight on through, or ‘fess up and run…

Why so excited? --> Because it's Lindsey Kelk! Do I really have to say more? The 'I Heart...' series is one of my favourite book series and over the past few years, Lindsey Kelk has become one of my favourite authors. Her books are a great way to escape reality and they always crack me up. Tess sounds like a great new heroine, and I'm SO excited to read everything about her (and that gorgeous journalist...)!


Ashley Prentice Norton - 'The Chocolate Money' (4th of July 2013)

An innocent little girl
A phenomenal fortune
A mother like no other

Ten-year old Bettina and her mother, Babs, are heiresses to one of America's biggest fortunes. But Bettina’s whole life is overshadowed by that of her beautiful, hedonistic mother, the glamorous but domineering Babs.

At fifteen, Bettina escapes to New England and an exclusive, preppy boarding school called Cardiss, where she hopes she can finally start to figure out who she really is. But while she thinks that fitting in with the other students represents her best chance of surviving the cliques and politics of Cardiss, soon she’s making choices that show that Babs' maternal shadow still looms long over her. Can Bettina ever break free to forge her own identity - or is she simply doomed to being her mother's daughter forever?

Why so excited? --> Somehow, I am really intrigued by the cover of 'The Chocolate Money.' Cardiss sounds like an interesting boarding school (I've always been fascinated by boarding schools, I can't help it!) and I'm quite curious to find out more about Bettina and Babs and their mother-daughter relationship. I honestly have no idea what this novel will be like, but there's nothing like a good surprise read every now and again!


Fanny Blake - 'The Secrets Women Keep' (4th of July 2013)

Rose waits for her family to arrive at their villa in Tuscany when a casual glance at her husband's phone tips her world upside down. The text reads simply: 'Miss you. Love you. Come back soon.' 

Daniel has always been popular with women, she knows that. But until this moment she has had no cause for worry. Has something shifted within their marriage without her realising?

As the family gathers for the summer break, Rose's faith in Daniel is shaken. How well does she really know him? She fears that, after decades of marriage and children, the man who lies beside her at night is lying in other ways too. Then events take a tragic turn.

Why so excited? --> Fanny Blake's new novel sounds like a traditional, enjoyable chick lit, ideal to take with you on a trip to the beach! A villa in Tuscany, a troubled marriage, secrets, a tragic turn... 'The Secrets Women Keep' definitely has caught my attention and I can't wait to find out more!

Be sure to check the blog in the upcoming days for part 2, filled with some other lovely upcoming July releases!

27 June 2013

Review: 'The Time of My Life' by Cecelia Ahern (2012)

Dear Lucy Silchester, You have an appointment for Monday 27th July 2011. Yours sincerely Life.

Lucy Silchester has received an appointment card. Actually, she's been invited along a few times to this appointment, but she keeps brushing the gold embossed envelope under the shag pile carpet. She's taken her eye off the ball and has busied herself with work (a job she doesn't love), helping out friends, fixing her car, feeding her cat, seeing her family and devoting her time to their life dramas. But Lucy is about to find out that this is one appointment that she can't miss. And she can't escape it either. Her Life is about to catch up with her in the most surreal of ways.

We’re nearing the end of June, which means I read another novel for this month’s book discussion for The New Book Club (@thenewbookclub). I had the honour of choosing our next book, and I decided to go for one that had been lying on one of my book shelves for quite some time already, but somehow I hadn’t found the time to actually pick up and start reading; ‘The Time of My Life’ by Cecelia Ahern. Cecelia Ahern has been one of my favourite authors since I read ‘P.S. I Love You’ and I have no idea why it took me so long to actually read ‘The Time of My Life’, because I always buy her new releases as soon as I can. So, this was a great opportunity to finally pick up this novel and dive into it!

Lucy Silchester has developed the tendency to ignore most things in her life: her job (she doesn’t hate it, doesn’t love it), her apartment (it’s tiny, but it’ll do), her family (she has probably used every possible excuse to get out of any kind of family gathering), her friends (she never even stays until the end of get-togethers, because what’s the point?)... However, one day Lucy is confronted with something she can’t possibly ignore, no matter how much she might want to: an invitation to a meeting with her Life. The same one she has been busy ignoring for the past few years, while hiding herself from others behind a framework of lies. Lucy will have to face the facts and make some changes, with no one but her own Life by her side to guide her along the way.

Just like most of her other novels, Cecelia Ahern has added a touch of magic to ‘The Time of My Life’, as already becomes apparent in the novel’s description. The idea of your own Life actually walking around on the earth somewhere and when things aren’t going the way they should, you being invited to have a meeting with your own Life... I can honestly say that is something that had never even crossed my mind before I read this novel. But it is at the same time an idea I love and I once again applaud Cecelia Ahern for her imagination and impressive writing skills to come up with such a clever idea and executing it in such an enchanting way. At the beginning of the novel, I didn’t particularly warm to Lucy. I thought she was a bit annoying, but as the novel progressed, Lucy changed and I really liked this development of character. I enjoyed the mix of characters around Lucy (Life/Cosmo Brown and Don in particular) and I really felt myself warming to the story as it continued.

It took me a bit of time to really get into the story, longer than usually with Cecelia Ahern novels. However, I really enjoyed this novel and the unique concept behind it. I think Cecelia Ahern’s novels have to be your ‘cup of tea’, and you have to believe in a bit of magic, if you really want to enjoy them. Yet, since most of her novels end up on the best-sellers lists over and over again, I think I can safely say she has a large fan base who loves her specific style of writing and ideas. ‘The Time of My Life’ is a wonderful tale that is funny, has a touch of romance, and turns something ordinary like the choices we make in life and how they define us, into something special. This novel is a magical, warm and thought-provoking read, and after reading it I know I will continue to secretly hope to find an invitation from my own Life in the mail one of these days!

Rating:8/10

24 June 2013

Review: 'A Cottage by the Sea' by Carole Matthews (2013)


Grace has been best friends with Ella and Flick since university. The late-night chats, shared heartaches and good times have created a bond that has stood the test of time. Now in their thirties, Grace is always a bit disappointed about how little time they get to spend together, so when Ella invites them all to stay for a week in her cottage in South Wales, Grace jumps at the chance to see her old friends. She also hopes that the change in pace will help her reconnect with her husband, Harry. Unfortunately for her, Harry isn't as enamoured with Cwtch Cottage as she is. Then Flick arrives; loveable, bubbly Flick, accompanied by the handsome and charming Noah, and suddenly the week ahead looks as though it may be even more confusing for all the residents of Cwtch Cottage.

In April 2013 I read and reviewed Carole Matthews’ novel ‘Summer Daydreams’, which I absolutely loved. I really liked the plotline of the book and the way it was written, so I was excited when I realised I did not have to wait long for a new Carole Matthews novel. ‘A Cottage by the Sea’ has a gorgeous, colourful cover and when I discovered it is set in the south of Wales, I was already sold. I used to spend all my summer holidays there, in my grand-parents’ house near the beach. Unfortunately, both of them aren’t with us anymore, but I have some amazing memories from those summers spent in Wales. All in all, I couldn’t wait to read ‘A Cottage by the Sea’ and see whether it would fit my expectations.

Grace, Ella and Flick have been friends since their days together as university students. Over the years they’ve stayed in touch but because of their busy lives they hardly see each other. So, when Ella invites her friends to spend a week in the summer together at her cottage in South-Wales, it is the perfect opportunity for them to spend some time together again. Grace is bringing her husband Harry, with whom she hopes to have some quality time as well, since their relationship is no longer what it used to be. However, as soon as they arrive, the only thing Harry is interested in is the amount of glasses of wine he can drink in one afternoon and whether his mobile telephone works or not. To make matters even worse, Flick arrives with her latest boyfriend, the delightful and attractive Noah, and Grace starts feeling all kinds of things she shouldn’t be feeling as a married woman. This one week at Cwtch Cottage starts off as a simple summer holiday for Grace, Harry, Ella, Art, Flick and Noah, but as the days progress secrets are unfolded and lives will be changed forever...

Carole Matthews’ writing flows so easily, making her novels an absolute delight to read. ‘A Cottage by the Sea’ and its storyline immediately took me in and made me forget about everything else. I loved Grace; she’s a great friend to Ella and Flick, trustworthy, friendly. As a reader, I really felt for her and the situation she finds herself in: she is married to Harry and wants to do everything to make their marriage work. However, his problem with alcohol and the way he acts towards her... Who can blame her for having unexpected feelings for Noah? I think lots of female readers will fall in love with Noah, just like I did: what a gentleman! However, while I loved reading about this love triangle between Grace, Harry and Noah, I also really enjoyed the other storylines, including Ella, her boyfriend Art, and Flick. Just add the fabulous setting of Cwtch cottage, right at the beach, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a thoroughly enjoyable read!

One of the reasons why I loved reading this novel so much has to do with the fact that it brought back tons of memories of my own family holidays spent on the beaches of South-Wales. However, even if you don’t have that specific link to the setting of the story, I’m sure lots of readers will still adore this novel. It’s a perfect summer-read and exactly what a chick lit novel should be like, filled with tons of emotions and laughter. ‘A Cottage by the Sea’ shows that it’s never too late to find true love or to decide to chase your dreams, and that’s a message we can’t hear often enough, if you ask me. 

Rating:9,5/10

20 June 2013

Review: 'The Rose Garden' by Marita Conlon-McKenna (2013)

Molly's perfect life comes crashing down following the unexpected death of her husband David. She is left alone with a big old house to maintain, finances in disarray and her hopes for happiness in a heap. But Molly is a survivor. Despite objections from her two daughters, Molly fears that the only solution will be to sell their beloved home.

But as she finds herself drawn to the old neglected and overgrown walled rose garden and the dilapidated gardener's cottage attached, she suddenly sees a future as she decides to restore them. As the rose garden takes on a new life and starts to bloom again, Molly finds that she can look to the future with new confidence and hope.

When I received a review copy of this novel (thanks to the lovely people at Transworld!), I was pleasantly surprised. I hadn’t heard anything about this book or its author before, but I straight away fell in love with the gorgeous cover (from the beautiful font to the wonderful colours that remind me of spring and sunshine) and the title. I’ve always had a soft spot for large country gardens with tons of flowers and wooden benches with engravings in them... Even though I am personally absolutely rubbish at taking care of even the simplest plants. Somehow, I had a feeling that I would really enjoy this novel, and thankfully, I was right!

Molly Hennessy is heartbroken after the sudden death of her beloved husband, David. She is now a widower with two grown-up daughters who are busy leading their own lives in other parts of Ireland, while she is still living at Mossbawn House, the large country manor that has functioned as their family home for several years. Molly can’t possibly imagine leaving Mossbawn, but there’s simply too much room for just her and her dog Daisy, and financially things aren’t looking great. One day, Molly discovers a part of the grounds she hadn’t really paid too much attention to before, a rose garden, and she decides to restore it to its former glory. With this project to keep her occupied and the help of two other women living in the town of Kilfinn, Gina and Kim, Molly finds herself slowly starting to pick up the pieces of her life and thinking about her own and Mossbawn’s future.

After just a few chapters I was already completely absorbed by this novel. I felt myself wanting to read on and on to find out more about the characters, the small Irish town of Kilfinn in which the story is mainly set, Mossbawn House... All of it. This probably had to do with the fact that ‘The Rose Garden’ includes numerous elements I adore in novels: some great and diverse female characters (Molly, Kim and Gina are each different and lovely women), several plotlines coming together, a wonderful setting (I loved all the descriptions of the Irish countryside) and a large, enchanting, country estate. Marita Conlon-McKenna managed to describe Mossbawn House so perfectly; I could see the house and garden in my mind, and the journey it goes through in this novel was just fabulous. I love visiting these kind of old mansions in my free time, and discovering the history behind the house and the families that grew up there, so the fact that a place like Mossbawn House takes on such a central role in this novel, made me enjoy it even more than I already did because of the interesting storylines and characters.

If I have to name something about this book I really did not like, I don’t think I could come up with something. However, there was something that did bother me a bit and that was the amount of characters, most specifically the amount of names. Kilfinn is a small town in which almost everyone knows everyone, and perhaps this is something Marita Conlon-McKenna wanted to get across. However, all the different names that were introduced with each event or party got my head spinning sometimes, because I couldn’t remember whether I was supposed to know someone or not and whether they played a significant role, yes or no. After a while, though, I just decided to read on and not remember all the different names, which worked out just fine. Overall, ‘The Rose Garden’ is a fabulous, heart-warming story about dealing with loss and taking the time to find love and happiness, in whatever kind or form... A definite must-read for lovers of anything romantic! 

Rating:9/10  

19 June 2013

Review: 'Things We Never Say' by Sheila O'Flanagan (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?
Sheila O’Flanagan is one of the biggest names within the world of chick lit with about fifteen best-selling novels to her name. As a lover of anything chick lit, I also have a couple of her books somewhere on my shelves and every time I see a new title in a book shop, it attracts my attention. But somehow I’ve never actually managed to pick up one of Sheila O’Flanagan’s works and sit down to read it. So, when I received a review copy from Headline (thank you!) of her new novel, ‘Things We Never Say’, I knew I would finally take the time to explore one of her novels myself.

‘Things We Never Say’ focuses on two places in the world: Ireland and California. In Ireland, we find the Fitzpatrick family, which is devastated after the sudden death of patriarch Fred. His children Donald, Gareth and Suzanne are not necessarily devastated by the fact that their father is no longer amongst them; it is his will that has left them most distressed. The reason for this can be found at the other side of the world in San Francisco. Abbey Andersen has a good life: she loves her job as a nail technician, she has a nice apartment with her boyfriend whom she loves very much, and she has great friends to support her. However, when her boyfriend suddenly decides to leave her behind with several debts, Abbey’s life appears to not be so great anymore. When out of the blue an Irish investigator shows up to tell Abbey her family history also isn’t exactly what she thinks it is, Abbey is forced to make some decisions that will not only affect her, but also those around her.

I really liked the fact that this novel focused on two separate storylines that later on become entwined. From the first few pages I already adored Abbey; she’s a lovely character and I was really rooting for her throughout the book. She really cares about the people around her and tries to do what’s best for everyone, not just herself, in any kind of situation. Next to Abbey’s storyline, there’s the feuding Fitzpatrick family. It took me a longer time to get used to these characters. They all have their own secrets and are obsessed with money and particularly their father’s will. I liked discovering and reading about Gareth, Donald, Suzanne and their families, even though most of them weren’t really easily likeable characters. I thought it was great how Sheila O’Flanagan managed to bring all of these diverse characters with their own individual personalities together.

The novel starts with a fascinating chapter set half a century ago, during the Magdalene Laundry era. These Magdalene Laundries were mainly Catholic-run facilities in Ireland for ‘fallen’ women, for example prostitutes or pregnant girls and women who had been left behind by their families. I thought this really added a historical layer to the novel which I personally loved. I have to say I thought the main part of the novel took up too many pages; the story seemed a bit slow at times, and I would have preferred fewer pages or perhaps a more extensive romantic storyline for Abbey. Overall, ‘Things We Never Say’ is an intriguing and enjoyable novel all about family dynamics, which has convinced me to definitely pick up another Sheila O’Flanagan novel in the near future!     
Rating:7,5/10

18 June 2013

June 2013 release: 'The Rose Garden' by Marita Conlon-McKenna

 
Molly's perfect life comes crashing down following the unexpected death of her husband David. She is left alone with a big old house to maintain, finances in disarray and her hopes for happiness in a heap. But Molly is a survivor. Despite objections from her two daughters, Molly fears that the only solution will be to sell their beloved home.
 
But as she finds herself drawn to the old neglected and overgrown walled rose garden and the dilapidated gardener's cottage attached, she suddenly sees a future as she decides to restore them.
 
As the rose garden takes on a new life and starts to bloom again, Molly finds that she can look to the future with new confidence and hope.
 
Even though I am horrible with flowers and plants and everything that has to do with gardening, I have always loved beautiful gardens and all kinds of colourful flowers. 'The Rose Garden' immediately caught my attention because of the title (nothing like a small, romantic garden with all kinds of gorgeous roses) and because of the cover (it's simply stunning!). The blurb of Marita Conlon-McKenna's new novel sounds really interesting. I love stories about old country houses and I'm quite curious to find out what happens to Molly and her family. Be sure to pick up your own copy of this lovely novel from the 20th of June! 
 
Pre-order your own copy here!

June 2013 release: 'Things We Never Say' by Sheila O'Flanagan


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?
 
I just love the look of this new Sheila O'Flanagan novel! I've heard her books are always guaranteed great reads and so it's no surprise I am really looking forward to 'The Things We Never Say', which will be released on the 20th of June. I really like the cover of this novel; the colour combination is really pretty, with all the pink, and it gives me a calming feeling which is quite nice in the middle of a very busy time! I'm really curious to find out what Abbey's story will be like and how she will deal with this entire new Irish family.
 
Be sure to pre-order your own copy here

17 June 2013

Review: 'The Desperate Wife's Survival Plan' by Alison Sherlock (2013)

From riches to rags...

Charley Summers doesn't have a care in the world. She lives in the lap of luxury, supported by her rich husband and surrounded by a loyal group of friends.

Until the business goes bust and her world collapses. Before long the bailiffs have taken everything, and as if things weren't bad enough, she catches her husband with another woman. Suddenly, Charley needs a job, any job, so she can start repaying some of the money her husband squandered.

But with nowhere to live and no recognisable skills, how on earth is she to do that?

Charley needs a survival plan fast!

I had already heard many lovely things about Alison Sherlock's latest release, 'The Desperate Wife's Survival Plan', when I was contacted about a review copy (thanks so much, Philippa!). I haven't read Alison Sherlock's first novel, 'The Desperate Bride's Diet Club', so I was excited about finding out what her writing would be like. I had already fallen in love with the cover of the novel (just look at all the yummy ice cream and cakes), so I had my fingers crossed the story would match it!

Charley Summers is living the dream: her own beautiful mansion with expensive furniture and a closet any girl would kill for, a wealthy husband who loves her, and all the free time she could possibly want to spend at the spa or organising dinner parties. It's no wonder Charley's world is completely turned upside down in all possible ways when she and her husband are declared bankrupt, she has to give up her beloved home, and to finish it off, she finds her husband in bed with another woman. Charley is forced to start again from scratch and it quickly becomes clear that won’t be easy. Yet, after finding a job as a cleaning lady, Charley realises she can’t continue to live in the past and feel sorry for herself. She needs to face reality, and everything and everyone that comes with it...

I really liked the heroine of this novel, Charley. At the start I was a bit worried, because she reminded me of a rich, spoiled housewife who doesn’t know the definition of the word ‘work’, but after a few pages this image was thrown out of the window, and the reader is introduced to the real Charley: a true fighter who does not give up on her dreams and who cares a lot about the people around her. Friendship and family play a central role in the book; I especially liked the friendship between Caroline, Julie, and Charley; such a lovely threesome who support each other through thick and thin. I liked it that there were also separate storylines for Caroline and Julie, so that the novel included more than just Charley’s own tale. While I’m talking about the characters, there is also one I can’t possibly not mention: Boris! He’s such a cute dog and I felt myself wanting to jump into the novel and cuddle him to pieces.

I loved the optimistic feel of this novel; the idea that even when it feels that you have hit rock bottom, you simply have to dust yourself off and give it another shot. What other way are you going to get closer to your dreams? One thing that also got me excited was Charley’s passion for making ice cream. The way Alison Sherlock described it all made me crave all the delicious flavours Charley came up with. ‘The Desperate Wife’s Survival Plan’ is a well-written, enjoyable story about friendship, following your dreams and being able to stand upon your own two feet. I definitely recommend this to all chick lit lovers out there, and I personally can’t wait to pick up a copy of Alison Sherlock’s other novel, ‘The Desperate Bride’s Diet Club’! 
Rating:8,5/10

13 June 2013

June 2013 release: 'Save the Date!' by Allie Spencer

 
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.
 
The past few weeks I've been hearing and reading lots of exciting and lovely things about 'Save the Date!' and I can't wait for its release on the 20th of June! The cover is simply stunning and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. The story sounds great: a wedding, Italy, a good love-story... I'll definitely be adding this to my holiday book list!
 
Pre-order your own copy here!

 

5 June 2013

Review: 'Me and Mr Jones' by Lucy Diamond (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...

As soon as I took my review copy of Lucy Diamond’s ‘Me and Mr Jones’ out of its envelope (thank you, Becky!), not only a smile appeared on my face but I also think it lit up the room just a bit! The lovely colours and small pictures on the cover immediately made me think of sunshine, fun times and summer. I hadn’t read any of Lucy Diamond’s novels before this one, but the beaming cover and the blurb (which includes the phrase ‘from the queen of summer reading’) already promised rays of sunshine, which seemed a good and welcome distraction from all the horrible rain we’ve been having the past couple of weeks!

‘Me and Mr Jones’ tells the story of the Jones family. Eddie Jones and his wife Lilian, who have been happily married for several decades, still live in the lovely Mulberry House, where they once started their family. After their three sons Hugh, David and Charlie left home, Lilian and Eddie turned their home into a cozy Bed & Breakfast, but Eddie’s health is slowly deteriorating. Lilian decides it is time for them to retire, but who will take over the business and Mulberry House? Will it be the eldest son, Hugh, who is dealing with a big secret of his own, while his wife Alicia is dreading her upcoming birthday (the big 4-0) and decides to step away from her reputation as the perfect housewife? Or what about David and his wife Emma, who have been trying for a baby for several years, which is slowly driving the two of them further and further apart? Or Charlie, the youngest Jones man and a true charmer who can’t possibly be able to run the family business by himself... Right? What will happen when Charlie falls head over heels for dance teacher Izzy, who has two young daughters and some bad experiences with men? The Jones family seems to not only have to decide about their beloved home, but also deal with some tricky individual troubles along the way... 

I really loved this novel, from the very first chapter. Lucy Diamond’s writing is fabulous, which made me not want to stop reading. From the start, I could easily imagine the beautiful Mulberry House and the town of Lyme Regis, where most of the story takes place. Next to that, the novel includes an amazing set of instantly-captivating characters, which all have their own distinctive personalities. The chapters each focus on a different person and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen each member of the Jones family and their own particular part of the complete storyline. I especially loved Charlie and Izzy (and Izzy’s two adorable daughters) and their tale, but the entire Jones family managed to capture my heart. 

This novel is a delightful, warm read with a real family feeling attached to it. It focuses on the struggles of multiple characters of different ages, and some serious subjects are touched upon. However, Lucy Diamond manages to do this in a perfectly-balanced whole with fun and drama mixed together. ‘Me and Mr Jones’ is a delightful summer read, but also ideal for a rainy afternoon with a cup of tea. I really enjoyed reading about the Jones family, and I am sure I am not the only one secretly hoping we will perhaps be able to visit Mulberry House again in the future in the form of a sequel!

Rating:9,5/10


Review: 'Love is a Secret' by Sophie King (2013)

Caroline is finding it difficult to trust her husband Roger. Can a marriage really survive an affair? Then a chance meeting makes her wonder if it's time for a fresh start....

Susan is struggling to bring up her disabled daughter Tabitha on her own, and dreams of a better life for them both. But just when it seems things can't get any worse, a knock at the door changes everything.

Mark is learning how to be a single dad while his wife Hilary is away. But as he wrestles with the secrets he is keeping from his family, he's blissfully unaware of the secrets they're keeping from him.

Lisa is looking forward to the birth of her child. Will a new baby help her get over the past? Whatever that is...

Sometimes you have to keep a secret from the one you love - and sometimes you have to keep the one you love a secret.

Thanks to Ian at Corazon Books I received an e-copy of Sophie King’s new novel ‘Love is a Secret’ to review. I was already familiar with some of Sophie King’s work; several years ago I read ‘The Wedding Party’ (2009) and ‘The Supper Club’ (2008), and I enjoyed both books. So, I was quite excited about reading ‘Love is a Secret’ (previously published under the title ‘Mums@Home’) and finding out whether I would still enjoy Sophie King’s writing and ideas!

‘Love is a Secret’ centres around four main characters that all have two things in common: they are all users of the forum ‘Mums Know Best’, which has been set up for mothers around the country as a place to come for advice or just to talk to other parents about their experiences. Next to this, they all have a secret which they are keeping from one another or from the people closest to them... There’s Caroline, who is trying to make her marriage work after she caught her husband Roger cheating on her, but when she meets another man, her whole world is turned upside down. We meet Lisa, who wants nothing more than to have her own baby, but her past continues to get in the way. There’s Mark, who is trying to be a working single dad while his wife Hilary is away from home, but he has some trouble trying to juggle everything at once. And last but not least, there’s Susan who has been used to bringing up her disabled daughter Tabitha all by herself, until suddenly her ex-husband decides to come back into the picture. Within the world of parenting, everyone has their own secrets and things might not be what they initially seem...

I have always had a specific love for novels that focus on more than two characters that tell their own story. I always find it fascinating to find out about these individual tales, and the things that ultimately link these different characters together. So, as soon as I read the blurb of ‘Love is a Secret’, I couldn’t wait to get started and read about Mark, Susan, Caroline and Lisa. I really liked how each chapter was written from a different perspective, and that the novel included four separate storylines which all came together in a way. The characters were well-written and their individual tales were each fascinating and tackled a different aspect of parenting. I specifically liked Caroline and Mark; I thought they were great characters, and I couldn’t wait for their chapters to find out what would happen to them and their families. 

‘Love is a Secret’ is easy to read and I can imagine mums (and dads!) can really relate to the various characters and storylines in this novel. However, as someone without children I also really enjoyed this book and felt myself wanting to read on to find out what was going to happen to the four main characters. The novel didn’t really make me laugh out loud or shed some tears, but I didn’t really miss feeling any kind of strong emotion for a change. Sometimes, it’s nice to just sit down with a lovely book and to be transported to another universe where you can look over the shoulder of other characters and find out how they deal with the cards life has given them. If you are looking for a good, well-written, not too complicated or intense read, then definitely pick up ‘Love is a Secret’!

Rating:7,5 / 10

4 June 2013

Review: 'Your Room or Mine?' by Charlotte Phillips (2013)

1 cheating ex, 3 bottles of white wine, an emergency pep talk from the girls… and this seemed like a good idea at the time:

Izzy Shaw’s Getting-Over-Him Action List

1. eBay his entire collection of football memorabilia and spend all profits on treating myself to fabulous new wardrobe.
2. Turn plans for ‘Loved-Up Mini-Break’ at exclusive boutique hotel into a weekend of spa pampering, me-time and shopping at Harvey Nics.
3. Don’t get even, get even better. Have one night stand with drop-dead gorgeous stranger – Mr Tall, Dark & Handsome in the hotel lobby is just what I need!

Your room or mine? Go on Izzy…

Several weeks ago HarperCollins announced a new exciting range of romance fiction: HarperImpulse. Since then, the lovely team has set up their own website (check it out at http://www.harperimpulseromance.com/) and they have signed their first authors, including Charlotte Phillips... Exciting times! I had seen the cover for Charlotte’s short story ‘Your Room or Mine?’ flying past on Twitter several times, and was quite curious what the Harper Impulse authors would be like. So, when I won a free e-copy of ‘Your Room or Mine?’ (thanks to the lovely ladies at HarperImpulse!), I couldn’t wait to sit down and get stuck in the story.

Izzy Shaw needs all the wine and chocolate she can get. Just a few weeks ago she was happy in love with her boyfriend Joe, secretly dreaming of a proposal and decorating their future family home. Imagine the shock when she found out Joe was busy with a slightly different kind of ‘business’ during his business trips than Izzy thought. After a pep talk from her best friends, Izzy decides to not act like the victim and she makes use of the surprise romantic mini-break she had planned for her and Joe. Never mind the Romantic Getaway Package, including the His & Her massages and romantic dinner... Just when Izzy decides this hotel visit might not have been the best idea ever, she bumps into handsome, dark-haired business man Oliver Forbes. It’s clear from the start that Oliver is flirting with her and up for a night of passion, no strings attached. But good girl Izzy couldn’t possibly do a thing like that... Or could she?

I warmed to Izzy from the first few pages of the story. I thought she was really strong for going on this romantic hotel mini-break without her boyfriend. And I couldn’t help but feel for her when the hotel staff gave her that pitiful look, while going on about the ‘his & her’ massages and romantic dinner package. Thank god for Oliver! The instant chemistry between him and Izzy almost sparked off the pages, and I knew Izzy wouldn’t be able to stay away from him (honestly, she would have been crazy if she had!). Even after their first night together, I wanted to read on to see whether this would turn into more than just a one-night-stand, and I was secretly hoping for a big Oliver & Izzy get-together before the ending of the story... However, that is of course something I am not going to give away in this review!

I was pleasantly surprised by Charlotte Phillips’ short story. I usually only read full-length novels, but I really enjoyed this because of the lovely characters and the fast-paced plot. Next to that, I’m not too big a fan of erotic fiction, but this was definitely more ‘romance’ with a sexy twist to it. I even found myself wishing there had been more pages... In my opinion, Oliver and Izzy deserve a full-length novel! ‘Your Room or Mine?’ is a romantic, sexy, fun read, which many contemporary women will enjoy and relate to. I can’t wait to read Charlotte Phillips’ next story/novel and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for more Izzy and Oliver in the future!

Rating:8,0/10