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30 November 2014

Review: 'Fashionably Yours' by Swati Sharma (2014)

Maya Kapoor arrived in Mumbai with a glamorous dream, quite literally. Maya wants to be a serious fashion writer for the high-end fashion magazine, Glamorous but luck is not in her favour. Instead, she lands a job with a local fashion magazine, Style. Maya hates everything about it but for now this is all she has. Despite all the odds, Maya is excited about living an independent, fashionable life in the city of dreams.

At twenty-five, love has eluded Maya. But when she bumps into the dashing photographer, Aryan Malik, she falls head over heels for his gorgeous smile and charming manner.

But Maya seems to be stuck in a rut - her credit card bills are sky-high, her melodramatic mother can't stop ranting, the boss is unbearably cruel, her younger sister has decided to tie the knot, and she's not sure if Aryan could love a simple, confused girl like her.

Will Maya get the fairytale life she dreamed about or will she let everything slip through her fingers? Read her diary and find out.

Swati Sharma's debut novel 'Fashionably Yours' (which has such a colourful and stunning cover!) was published in November 2014 by Harlequin India. Swati is a reviewer for Chick Lit Club, just like I am, and I was honoured and excited when she asked me whether I wanted to read and review her novel! I think it's amazing Swati managed to make her dream come true and have a book published; not all of us dare to take this brave leap into the world of publishers and sharing our work with others, so I definitely want to applaud her for that. I was really curious to read 'Fashionably Yours' and couldn't wait to sit down it!

Maya Kapoor is a twenty-something who has one big dream: she wants nothing more than to work as a journalist for her favourite fashion magazine, 'Glamorous.' In contrast to most girls around her, including her younger sister, Maya doesn't necessarily want to find a rich husband, she'd much rather have her own career and glamorous life filled with expensive shoes and a fabulous job within the world of fashion. So, when Maya is offered the chance to work for magazine 'Style', she immediately grabs the opportunity with both hands and moves to the city of Mumbai. Life at 'Style', however, isn't everything Maya hoped it would be, and neither is life in the city. Together with her best friend Anu she tries to make the best of things, and everything certainly starts to look up when handsome photographer Aryan Malik arrives on the scene... 

This was the first book I read set in India and I really enjoyed reading about the Indian culture and the importance of family and tradition. This sense of tradition forms an important and fascinating part of the storyline, since Maya wants to follow her dreams instead of finding a rich man to marry, completely against the will of her mother. I immediately warmed to Maya and kept my fingers crossed for her, hoping she would manage to make it in the fashion magazine world. As a character, she sparked off the pages with her emotions and enthusiasm, and the same goes for many of the other secondary characters, such as Maya's best friend Anu and Maya's parents. 

The plotline was quite easy to follow; the idea of a girl going to the city to follow her dreams is perhaps not that original, but I personally thought Maya's journey was really quite entertaining. I do think the author could have done more with Maya and her story; occasionally I felt like the story wasn't really going somewhere concrete. The potential for a great chick lit read is definitely there, but it didn't quite get there for me. I also couldn't help but spot quite a few typos and errors, which I thought was a shame, even though Swati Sharma's first language is not English. Overall, though, I definitely enjoyed reading 'Fashionably Yours'; it's an easy to read and light story about following your heart and fighting for your dreams. A novel with potential, and I already look forward to seeing what else Swati Sharma has in store for us!

Rating:
6,5/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

29 November 2014

December 2014 releases!

I can't believe it's almost December! This not only means Christmas is getting closer and closer (yay!), but it also means we've reached the final month of the year and 2014 is drawing to a close! I can't believe how fast this year has gone by, but we still have a month left to have a look at the past year and bring it to a fantastic ending! During December we are being treated to the last few new releases of the year, so be sure to have a good look at the list of books below and add some of these titles to your wishlist! Which releases are you most looking forward to? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Deborah Disney - 'Up and In' (1st December)

Maria and Joe have saved every available penny to give their daughters Kate and Sarah the best education possible, which to them means attending the most exclusive girls school in the state. But when Kate befriends the spoilt and moody Mirabella, Maria finds herself thrust into a high society of champagne-swilling mother-istas she hasn't budgeted for. Saturday morning netball is no longer a fun mother-daughter outing, but a minefield of social politics.

While the increasingly neurotic Maria struggles to negotiate the school mum hierarchy, Joe quietly battles a midlife crisis and Kate attempts to grow up as gracefully as possible (without having her life ruined by embarrassing parents).
For every woman who has ever felt she may be wearing the wrong shoes, this is a book that will remind you - you're not alone.

Why so excited? --> Besides the author's fabulous last name, I really like the sound of this novel! The school mum hierarchy intrigues me and I have a good feeling this book will be a great read!

 


Lorraine Zago Rosenthal – 'Independently Wealthy' (2nd December)

In the sequel to New Money, Savannah Morgan delves into the mystery of her late media-mogul father’s death and uncovers more than she ever expected.

In New Money, Savannah Morgan was thrust into high-society New York when she learned she was the sole heir to her father’s billion-dollar fortune. In Independently Wealthy, she is living her dream life on the Upper West Side, excelling at her job as an editorial assistant, and enjoying her handsome new boyfriend, Alex.

Everything in Savannah’s life should be perfect—but she can’t ignore the questions and scandal surrounding her father’s fatal accident. Her hopes of solving this mystery are shared by Caroline Stone—her newfound sister who is slowly becoming a friend. Savannah decides to investigate, although not everyone wants her to discover the truth. Her domineering older brother, Ned, has his own problems, including a lingering regret over his recent divorce, the constant pressure of running the Stone media empire, and managing a playboy bachelorhood. As Savannah's quest for justice becomes complicated and dangerous, she is led to Washington, D.C., an alluring stranger, and more surprises, trouble, and changes than she ever could have imagined.

Why so excited? --> I didn't read Lorraine Zago Rosenthal's novel 'New Money', to which this new release is the sequel. However, I am quite intrigued by the sound of this novel, so look forward to picking up both books!

Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads
 


Katie Fforde – 'A Christmas Feast' (4th December)

A delicious Christmas feast of short stories from the Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author of A French Affair and The Perfect Match.

Add some extra sparkle to your Christmas by joining Katie Fforde for a perfect, romantic Christmas feast of short stories. Collected together for the first time and including one brand new story.

Make your Christmas wishes come true...

Includes and exclusive sneak preview of Katie's new novel, A Vintage Wedding, coming in February 2015.

Why so excited? --> I love Katie Fforde's novels; they never disappoint, so I'm really glad to hear she's treating us to a collection of festive short stories this December! 

Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads
 


Lulu Taylor – 'The Snow Angel' (4th December)

Cressida Felbridge is living the high life as a debutante in 1960s London society when she is courted by a friend of her brother's and set to marry. Wishing only the best for his daughter, her father decrees that she must have her portrait painted to mark the occasion. But as soon as she meets the painter Ralph Few, Cressie knows her life will never be the same again. Soon, she is deeply in love with Ralph, but there is one problem: Ralph is still married to Catherine. As Cressie is drawn into a strange, triangular relationship, Catherine's behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and Ralph and Cressie escape to Cressie's family home in Cumbria. But Catherine will not give up Ralph that easily...

In the present day, Emily Conway has everything she could wish for: a huge house in West London, two beautiful children and a successful husband, Will. But as Emily and Will drive to a party, Will reveals that he has been betrayed by his business partner. Steering the car off the road at high speed, their perfect life is abruptly ended. When she wakes from her injuries, Emily is told of a mysterious legacy: a house in Cumbria on the edge of an estate, left to her by a woman she has never met. Could this house provide the chance to start anew, or does it hold secrets that she must uncover before it can be at peace?

Why so excited? --> I've had the pleasure of reading some of Lulu Taylor's work before and her dramatic, intense stories are great books to sit down with on a cold Sunday afternoon. I look forward to checking out 'The Snow Angel', perhaps during my few days off around Christmas!

Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads
 


Nikki Moore – 'Skating at Somerset House' (4th December)

The first short story in the fun & flirty #LoveLondon series from exciting new chick lit author Nikki Moore!

There’s nothing Holly Winterlake loves more than Christmas and skating, so working as an Ice Marshall at London's Somerset House is a dream come true.

Noel Summerford hates the festive season and is a disaster on the ice, so taking his godson to Somerset House is his idea of the nightmare before Christmas!

Things are bound to get interesting when these two collide…

With a forty foot Christmas tree, an assortment of well meaning friends and relatives, and a mad chocolate Labrador, will this festive season be one to remember … or forget?

Why so excited? --> I love love love the title of Nikki Moore's upcoming release, and her new #LoveLondon series sounds really promising! I can't wait to check out Holly Winterlake's story; the perfect read to sit down with to get into a festive mood, I think!

Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads
 


Miranda Dickinson – 'I'll Take New York' (4th December)

Have you ever given up on love?

When her boyfriend lets her down for the last time, Brooklyn bookshop owner Bea James makes a decision – no more. No more men, no more heartbreak, and no more pain.

Psychiatrist Jake Steinmann is making a new start too, leaving his broken marriage behind in San Francisco. From now on there'll just be one love in his life: New York.

At a party where they seem to be the only two singletons, Bea and Jake meet, and decide there’s just one thing for it. They will make a pact: no more relationships.

But the city has other plans...

Why so excited? --> Probably one of the releases of the past year I have been looking forward to the most! Miranda Dickinson is one of my favourite authors and I'm incredibly excited to read her latest book. I am 100% sure it will be just as good as her other ones, definitely one to pick up this December!

Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads
 


Nicola Doherty – 'Maggie Does Maribel' (4th December)

Maggie can't wait for her first ever skiing holiday. New Year's Eve in the French Alps with her boyfriend Leo and two other couples: what could be more romantic? She's picturing hot chocolate, romantic snowball fights and evenings snuggled together in front of the log fire. What she didn't picture is near-death experiences on the mountains, falling out with Leo and sharing a chalet with the unbearable Jenny. When she meets Sylvain, a gorgeous ski instructor, the line between harmless flirting and full-on misbehaviour becomes ... well, blurry. Will Maggie stay on the nursery slopes, or go seriously off-piste?

'Girls on Tour' is an irresistible series of interlinked stories about four friends, ordinary girls who have extraordinary fun in faraway places. Expect the unexpected, the utterly hilarious and unforgettable, on this rollercoaster ride of love, laughs, surprises and sparks. You have a VIP pass to join each girl's adventure, so pack your bags and buckle your seatbelts, because just about anything is possible...

Why so excited? --> I love the idea of Nicola Doherty's 'Girls on Tour' series which consists of interlinked stories about four friends who experience all kinds of things in faraway places. I'm quite curious to read all about Maggie's adventures in Maribel; definitely a fun short story I'll be picking up during the next couple of weeks!

Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads
 


Various Authors – 'Santa Baby' (11th December)

A 5 book festive collection of steamy romance tales. Perfect for snuggling up on those long, cold winter nights...

Kiss Me on this Cold December Night, Charlotte Phillips
The third novella in the deliciously sensual Do Not Disturb series, and Ella Scott is bumping into the ghosts of one night stands past…

Santa Wore Leathers, Vonnie Davis
There’s only one thing on Becca Sinclair’s Christmas list this holiday season – her very own column in the local paper. Enter Dan ‘Wolf’ Wolford, a Navy SEAL turned commander of the Florida Marine Rescue Unit, and the new star of Becca’s popular, post-divorce blog about men. It isn’t long before Becca finds herself the target of Wolf’s irresistible attentions…

All Wrapped Up In You, Sun Chara
When Ellie hooked up with world renowned neurosurgeon, Peter Medeci, aka ‘Prince Charming’, she thought her dreams had come true. But the demands of being the model wife isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and she decides to ditch the ‘royal’ life until he sees her as more than his bedroom playmate…

Secrets of a Chalet Girl, Lorraine Wilson
Set in the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Verbier, the winter playground of the rich and famous, Secrets of a Chalet Girl is the second book in Lorraine Wilson’s fabulous Ski Season series.

Confessions of a Chalet Girl, Lorraine Wilson
The first sexy novella in the Chalet Girl series. Pack your salopettes and pour another shot of Jägermeister, it’s time to hit the slopes!

Why so excited? --> I've really enjoyed all the Harper Impulse releases I've read so far, so I also have high hopes for this collection of festive stories by various Harper Impulse authors. If you're looking for a steamy and sexy read for the cold nights, be sure to get a copy of this collection!

Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads
 


Various Authors – 'All the Romance You Need This Christmas' (11th November)

The perfect stocking fill of romantic Christmas reads – a festive 5 book romance collection!

The Kiss Before Christmas, Sophie Pembroke
As the snow falls on Manhattan, PA Dory Mackenzie is a long way from home and the cosy family Christmases back in Liverpool. So when she agrees to pose as her high-society-boss’s girlfriend for the holidays, it’s sure to add a bit of spice!

The First Christmas Without You, Michelle Betham
Jessie Collins has always wanted to visit Lapland. But this Christmas, more than any other, it’s the place she feels she really needs to be as she tries to come to terms with a future she really needs to start living…

Say It With Sequins, Georgia Hill
Who Dares Dances is a reality TV show with a difference. Not only do contestants have to learn to dance, they also face a series of bizarre challenges. But these challenges are nothing compared to the scandals happening on – and off – the ballroom floor!

To Catch a Star, Romy Sommer
Christian Taylor: Heartthrob. Movie Star. Bad boy. The mischievous actor sets his sights on the one thing he’s told he can’t have: Teresa Adler, the ultimate Ice Princess. Will the heat of his touch melt her heart?

Christmas at Thornton Hall, Lynn Marie Hulsman
Christmas is looking blue for all-American girl Juliet Hill. But then she takes a festive catering job at Thornton Hall in the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, and with a gorgeous resident chef on the scene, could sparks fly as the snow begins to fall?

Why so excited? --> Harper Impulse sure is spoiling us this December; on the 11th they are releasing another steamy collection of festive romance stories, perfect to get into the holiday mood!

Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads


Kristin Harmel – 'The Life Intended' (30th December)

After her husband's sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she's planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn't she more excited?

At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she's really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband's hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.

Why so excited? --> I honestly think this sounds like an amazing read. It is compared to Cecelia Ahern's 'P.S. I Love You', which I loved, so I'm quite curious to see whether it can live up to that comparison!

Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads
 


Menna van Praag – 'The Dress Shop of Dreams' (30th December)

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

Why so excited? --> I was straight away intrigued by the title, cover and blurb of Menna van Praag's upcoming release. I was lucky enough to get a review copy and I can't wait to check it out. Definitely one of the December 2014 releases I'm most excited about!

Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads
 


Ellen Hawley – 'The Divorce Diet' (30th December)

"The Divorce Diet" is a novel that should be dedicated to every woman who ever walked away from a man or a diet. It s bitingly funny and insightful, while celebrating food and self-discovery just don t read it while you re hungry. It s perfect for fans of "Julie and Julia "and "Eat, Pray, Love."

Abigail loves her baby Rosie, her husband Thad, and food. She takes great joy and comfort in concocting culinary delights to show the depth of her love and commitment to her family. Imagine her surprise when Thad announces, this whole marriage thing just doesn't work for me. Abigail can't believe he really means what he's said, but he does. Abigail and Rosie move back in to her parents house, where she regresses into her adolescent self. She diets, finds work, and begins to discover the life she really wants, and a man who really wants her.

Why so excited? --> I have to be honest here and say I've never read 'Eat, Pray, Love' or 'Julie and Julia', nor have I seen the films. However, I do like the sound of 'The Divorce Diet', so look forward to giving it a chance!

Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads
 


Kristyn Kusek Lewis – 'Save Me' (30th December)

Daphne Mitchell has always believed in cause and effect, right and wrong, good and bad. The good: her dream job as a doctor; Owen, her childhood sweetheart and now husband; the beautiful farmhouse they're restoring together. In fact, most of her life has been good--until the day Owen comes home early from work to tell her he's fallen head over heels for someone else.

Unable to hate him, but also equally incapable of moving forward, Daphne's life hangs in limbo until the day Owen's new girlfriend sustains near-fatal injuries in a car accident. As Daphne becomes a pillar of support for the devastated Owen, and realizes that reconciliation may lie within her grasp, she has to find out whether forgiveness is possible and decide which path is the right one for her.

Why so excited? --> I hadn't heard of Kristyn Kusek Lewis before I found the blurb for her novel 'Save Me', but it sounds like an intriguing women's fiction read. Really looking forward to picking this up!

Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Which reads are you looking forward to this December?

28 November 2014

Review: 'Saving Grace' by Jane Green (2014)

Grace Chapman has the perfect life, living comfortably with her husband, bestselling author Ted, in a picture-perfect farmhouse on the Hudson River in New York State.Then Ted advertises for a new assistant, and Beth walks into their lives. Organized, passionate and eager to learn, Beth quickly makes herself indispensable to Ted and his family. But Grace soon begins to feel side-lined in her home - and her marriage - by this glamorous, ambitious younger woman.

Grace becomes increasingly distressed, as nobody around her believes that Beth could mean any threat.Is Grace just paranoid, as her husband tells her, or is there more to Beth than first thought? Then an unexpected email from Beth's former employer changes everything. What is Beth really capable of? Can Grace get her life back? And what if she realizes it's no longer the life she wants?

Jane Green is one of the queens of the women's fiction world, if you ask me. She has been writing for years and her 16th novel was released a few months ago. Earlier this year, I was really excited about the opportunity to read and review my first Jane Green novel, 'Tempting Fate'. I ended up loving the novel and Jane's amazing writing style and couldn't wait for her next book. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of 'Saving Grace' (which has such a lovely cover) and kept my fingers crossed for another fabulous Jane Green reading experience!

Grace Chapman appears to lead the perfect life being married to best-selling author Ted Chapman. Together they have a beautiful daughter, an amazing home, and in front of the cameras they appear to be a simply wonderful couple. However, behind closed doors, Ted isn't the kind and calm man he appears to be, he's the opposite. When his trustworthy long-term assistant Elaine decides to quit her job due to family issues, Grace knows she will have to find a new PA as soon as possible, if she doesn't want Ted's behaviour to get even worse. Luckily, she bumps into Beth who is looking for a job and she turns out to be everything Grace could have hoped for: Beth is organised, motivated and will do anything to make Grace and Ted happy. But then Beth slowly starts to take over everything in Grace's home. When Grace is unexpectedly diagnosed with bipolar disorder, her world seems to completely fall apart and somehow Beth is the one left standing, ready to take over Grace's life...

Another great read from Jane Green! It took a bit of time before the story really got going, in my opinion, but when it did I just didn't want to put it down. Grace is a wonderfully warm main character whom I couldn't help but root for, even though I did sometimes feel like jumping into the pages of the novel and slapping her for not undertaking any action. While I easily warmed to Grace, I immediately developed a sense of intense dislike towards Beth. I love how Jane Green manages to convey these emotions towards her characters with her words; it makes the reading experience even more enjoyable. 

The plotline of the novel really captivated me, even though it is slightly dark. The idea of someone being out to steal your life, driving you to insanity, making you feel as if everything and everyone is slipping away from you... I don't even want to imagine what that would be like, and Jane Green managed to portray it in a very realistic way. Aspects which I also really enjoyed were the gorgeous scene setting of the novel (Grace and Ted live in a stunning place called Sneden's Landing) and the (hopefully!) delicious recipes at the end of each chapter. Overall, 'Saving Grace' is a stunningly captivating, slightly dark, emotional read; another great novel by a wonderfully talented storyteller.
Rating:
9/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

27 November 2014

Weekly Feature: Once Upon a Story...


 'Once Upon a Story' is a weekly feature in which we go back in time and focus  on a specific novel that was released in the same month we're in right now (in this case May), but a few years back! It can be a women's fiction classic from the 1990's or perhaps a great chick lit read from 2011. I thought it would be nice to not just focus on recent releases, but also take the chance to jump back in time once a week and look back at wonderful reads that have been released over the years!

This week, we're travelling not so far back to November 2013 to look back at...


Newly engaged Natalie Butterworth is an easy-going girl. She'll do anything for a quiet life and if telling a few teensy white lies keeps her friends and family happy, then so what? It's not like they'll ever discover what she's really thinking...

Until one night, thanks to a pub hypnotist, Natalie's most private thoughts begin to bubble up and pop out of her mouth. Things get very messy indeed, especially when some sticky home truths offend her fiancé.

Natalie must track down the hypnotist before her wedding is officially cancelled. So along with bad influence bestie Meg, Natalie finds herself in the Yorkshire Parish of Little Trooley - a small village bursting with big secrets, nosy old folk and intriguing Wellington-wearing men.

When the girls get stuck in the village with no means of escape and no way to break the hypnotist's spell, Natalie is forced to face the truths she has been avoiding her whole life... 

One of my favourite chick lit reads of 2013 was Kirsty Greenwood's debut novel 'Yours Truly.' It's the perfect chick lit read including a thoroughly entertaining storyline, a funny and easily loveable heroine, and a handsome love interest! The novel really made me laugh out loud and I didn't want it to end; two main reasons to recommend this book to all other chick lit fans out there! In 2015 Kirsty Greenwood will release her second novel 'The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance' and I can't wait to read it. If you're looking for a funny, warm and fabulous read, don't hesitate to pick up this one!

Be sure to visit the blog next week for another blast from chick lit past with 'Once Upon a Story...'!

26 November 2014

Review: 'Finding Brynn' by Sky Greene (2014)

Most of Brynn's friends and family tell her she is crazy to leave everything and everyone behind to move 1200 miles from home just to try something new. She feels like she is being adventurous and wants a change from her boring Midwestern life. The only thing she wishes she could bring with her to Denver is Ned, her boy-toy turned serious boyfriend that her parents know nothing about.

Once in Denver, Brynn finds being 'adventurous' isn't as fun or easy as she expected. She's suddenly on the bad side of one of her grad school professors, she's just about out of money, and when she thinks things can’t get worse, Mother Nature wreaks havoc on her car. At least she has Kim, her new best friend that she met at school, to talk to about almost anything.

Brynn didn't anticipate meeting any guy that intrigues her, but Dave sure peaks her interest. She wants to explore if she is imagining a spark, or if there really is something there. But Ned...the sex with him is too good to just throw away, and they're making the long distance thing work...sort of. Ned? Dave? Is any of this really what she wants? 

What Brynn thinks is essential in life changes drastically when she gets the call that causes her to get on the first plane home. Only then does Brynn realize what is truly important to her and what she wants in life.

Quite some time ago I was contacted by author Sky Greene with the question whether I'd be interested in reviewing her debut novel 'Finding Brynn', which was released as an e-book in January 2014. My to read-and-review pile has been growing and growing the past few months, but I straight away liked the sound of this chicklit novel, so I decided to add it to my list and a few weeks ago I finally found the time to pick it up and read it!

Brynn has decided to leave her comfortable life in the Midwest behind to go back to university in Denver, 1200 miles away from home. Even though this means leaving behind her parents, her family home and, most importantly, her boyfriend Ned, Brynn feels it is time for a change. However, life doesn't start off that great as soon as she arrives in Denver, and combined with the struggles of a long-distance relationship Brynn starts to doubt whether she made the right decision to go to Denver. She is forced to rethink her decisions and choose what it is she really wants at this stage of her life.

The author of this novel, Sky Greene, is a counsellor at a secondary school who decided to turn the struggles she sees every day concerning self-discovery and relationships into her very first book. ‘Finding Brynn’ deals with exactly those issues; the main protagonist Brynn has made the big decision to turn her life around and start over in a new place, away from everything that’s familiar to her, including her family and boyfriend. It took me a bit of time to warm to Brynn, mainly because she was complaining quite a lot at the beginning of the book, in my opinion. However, this definitely changed as the story progressed and I started to enjoy Brynn’s journey of self-discovery. I think the process Brynn goes through is realistic and most readers will be able to relate to the things Brynn is going though, one way or another.   

The book deals with long-distance relationships and starting over in a new place, but mainly deciding what it is you truly want from life; something which will speak to many readers, I think. The story is well-paced and easy to read and has an interesting mix of characters at its core. I didn’t fall head over heels in love with this novel, but it was definitely an entertaining read and it has made me curious to see what else Sky Greene will bring us in the future. Overall, ‘Finding Brynn’ is a quick and enjoyable read; a book which I think chick lit fans won’t regret picking up.
Rating:
7/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

25 November 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books On My Winter TBR List

'Top Ten Tuesday' is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. I love making lists, so this feature fits me perfectly! If you also take part in this feature or have any additions to my lists, please get in touch; I'd love to hear from you!
 
 
Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR List

On the 21st of December, Winter will officially start. A new season with tons of exciting and fabulous book releases, and today's Top Ten Tuesday focuses on the 10 Winter releases I am most looking forward to reading. It's difficult to only pick 10 titles, since new books are being added to my TBR list every single day, but I tried my best to pick just 10. Which upcoming Winter releases are you looking forward to picking up? I'd love to hear your thoughts!



1. Lucy Diamond - 'The Year of Taking Chances'



I love Lucy Diamond's novels and I'm so excited we get to ring in 2015 with her latest release! It promises to be another wonderful story with a focus on several characters and their individual stories; the perfect start to hopefully another year filled with brilliant chick lit novels!




2. Colleen Oakley - 'Before I Go'



I have a feeling this book is going to be a real tearjerker. 'Before I Go' tells the story of a young woman with breast cancer who decides to find a new wife for her husband before she passes away. The novel is said to be great for people who enjoyed Cecelia Ahern's 'P.S. I Love You', so I have high hopes for this particular upcoming release!




3. Melissa Pimentel - 'Age, Sex, Location'



I added this book to my TBR-list as soon as I read the blurb. It's described as 'the Bridget Jones' Diaries for HBO's Girls' generation', and it's all about the world of modern dating. I like the sound of it and hope it will not disappoint.




4. Carole Matthews - 'The Cake Shop in the Garden'

The cover of Carole Matthews' upcoming release 'The Cake Shop in the Garden' isn't available yet, but this doesn't mean I'm any less excited about it! Carole Matthews' novels never disappoint and I am sure this will be one of my favourite reads of the upcoming months.



5. Anna Bell - 'Don't Tell the Brides-To-Be'



Anna Bell's 'Don't Tell...' series is a great chick lit book series and I'm so excited another part will be available in February 2015. I love the title and the book cover, can't wait to read it!




6. Erica James - 'The Dandelion Years'



I absolutely love the sound of this novel, which tells the story of Saskia who works as book restorer and lives in a wonderful country house called Ashcombe where she finds a secret notebook revealing a wartime love story... This sounds so good, I can't wait to pick up my own copy!




7. Cathy Bramley - 'Ivy Lane: The Full Story'



Cathy Bramley is a wonderful author and I've already read 'Spring', the first part of her Ivy Lane series, which was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I can't wait to read the other parts and see what happens to main character Tilly!




8. Beth Kendrick - 'New Uses for Old Boyfriends'



I haven't read any of Beth Kendrick's other works, but I always really like the sound of her books. I'm adding this one to my Winter TBR-list and really hope I will finally be able to pick up one of her works!




9. Jenny Colgan - 'Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery'



I am really looking forward to reading this next part in Jenny Colgan's Little Beach Street Bakery book series! The novel will be released at the end of February and I think it's going to be one of the first reads that will make me long for Spring and Summer again!




10. Pippa Wright - 'The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore'

Another upcoming Winter release without a cover image, and another one I'm really excited about. Pippa Wright's novels are always great reads and I have to say I am already in love with the title of this one. It has to be another fantastic read, I'm sure of it! 

Which releases are you looking forward to this Winter? I'd love to hear from you! :)

24 November 2014

Miranda Mondays!

A few weeks ago I told you all about this incredibly exciting Miranda Dickinson-related project I am a part of called Team Bea! Team Bea is basically the promotional team for Miranda Dickinson's upcoming wonderful new novel 'I'll Take New York' and several bloggers have hosted Miranda Mondays the past couple of weeks, sharing exciting giveaways and fun facts about the new book. Today, I have such a great post to share with all of you, namely Miranda's own guide to Christmas New York! 

 
1. Visit a Christmas Market

Visit the Grand Central Station Holiday Fair (87 East 42nd Street) in the Vanderbilt Hall – what an amazing setting for a market! Jake and Bea visit Grand Central during one of their New York sightseeing trips (it’s one of Jake’s favourite places) and although they don’t visit during the Christmas season, you can bet it’s somewhere they would love. For a fab outdoor market, head to the Union Square Holiday Market (14th Street to 17th Street, between Broadway and University Place, Manhattan), which has over 100 red-and-white stalls selling everything you could possibly want for Christmas… Or be like Bea and head to the Christmas Brooklyn Flea (at Skylight One Hanson, 1 Hanson Place, Fort Greene, Williamsburg) – much beloved of Bea and Rosie, a quirky market that moves indoors at Christmas with three floors and over 100 sellers, perfect for unusual gifts and unique Brooklyn chutzpah.

2. Skate on a Christmas ice rink

It’s a classic New York sight and there are several places you can have a festive skate, including the Rockefeller Center (overlooked by the famous Christmas tree), Prospect Park and the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park. Of course, Bea’s favourite place to skate is the Wollman Rink in the centre of Central Park. It’s also known as the Trump Rink, but Bea can’t bring herself to call it that! She has long dreamed of skating on the rink after watching the film Serendipity too many times, but until she meets Jake she’s never experienced it. What happens when they venture out onto the ice surrounded by New York’s most beautiful park is one of my favourite scenes in I’ll Take New York…

3. Visit a Christmas toyshop

It has to be done! You can design your own Muppet, see the giant piano Tom Hanks made famous in the film Big! and revel in the huge Christmas toy displays at FAO Schwarz (767 Fifth Avenue) or stock up on your superhero supplies at Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co (372 Fifth Avenue, between 5th Street and 6th Street, Brooklyn) which not only is one of the coolest places in New York but also gives all profits to Dave Eggers’ amazing 826NYC charity that teaches creative writing to children.

4. Head to an Outdoor Event

New York comes alive at Christmas and the best thing to do is to wrap up warm, head out into the snow and get stuck in to the fun! Watch the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree (Rockefeller Plaza, West 48th Street to West 51st Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues, Manhattan) – a classic New York festive sight with twinkly lights, the ice rink, famous guests and a Swarovski-star-topped Christmas Tree. Or go to a neighbourhood event like Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square (Lincoln Square, Manhattan) – with live music, tree lighting in Dante Park, street performers, ice sculptures and an amazing choice of food from local restaurants.

5. Grab a Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity3

Bea James would choose this in a heartbeat! While you can get hot chocolate all over New York during the festive season, there is something really special about having one of Serendipity3’s famous beverages  (225 East 60th Street). Whether you go for their classic ‘Frrrozen’ Hot Chocolate or the hot ‘Serendipitous Hot Chocolate (with whipped cream, grated Valley orange, cinnamon and shaved French chocolate), sitting in the café made famous by Bea’s favourite film, gazing out at the snow-covered Manhattan street, has to be a truly special New York Christmas experience!
  
I’ll Take New York is published on 4th December by Avon (HarperCollins) in sparkly paperback, ebook and audio versions.

23 November 2014

Review: 'Where Love Lies' by Julie Cohen (2014)

Lately, Felicity just can’t shake a shadow of uncertainty. Her husband Quinn is the kindest person she knows and loves her peculiarities more than Felicity feels she deserves. But suddenly it’s as if she doesn’t quite belong.

Then Felicity experiences something extraordinary: a scent of perfume in the air which evokes memories that have been settled within her for a long time, untouched and undisturbed. As it happens again and again, the memories of a man Felicity hasn’t seen for ten years also flutter to the surface. And so do the feelings of being deeply, exquisitely in love . . .

Overwhelmed and bewildered by her emotions, Felicity tries to resist sinking blissfully into the past. But what if something truly isn’t as it should be? What if her mind has been playing tricks on her heart?

Which would you trust?

Earlier this year I was incredibly lucky to get an invite to attend the launch party for Julie Cohen's latest release, 'Where Love Lies', on the 24th of July, organised by Transworld. I always feel really honoured when receiving invites like this one and hope I will be able to actually hop on a plane and attend one someday in the near future! Unfortunately, this time I couldn't make it, but I did receive a review copy of Julie Cohen's new book, which was released as hardback on the 31st of July and the paperback version will follow in February 2015. I was already familiar with Julie's writing after reading her successful novel 'Dear Thing' last year, so I started the book with high hopes!

Felicity Bloom leads a good life together with her husband Quinn, who loves her to the moon and back and is willing to do everything it takes to make Felicity happy. Together they live in a beautiful cottage in a small town, close to Quinn's family, and they've settled in very nicely. Then one day Felicity starts to smell the sweet flowery scent of frangipani in the air, a smell that immediately brings back memories of her ex-boyfriend and first love, Ewan. Felicity starts to smell the distinctive scent more and more often and it is somehow combined with deep feelings of love. But love for whom, Quinn or Ewan? Felicity finds herself starting to doubt everything in her life and she knows she will have to take a step back into the past to discover what it is she is feeling.

I read Julie Cohen's 'Dear Thing' last year, which was an intriguing and really well-written novel filled with emotions, and ever since I'd been looking forward to Julie Cohen's next release, hoping it'd be just as compelling. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed. 'Where Love Lies' is a unique story and I can honestly say I've never read anything quite like it before. I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but the book deals with some quite serious and fascinating topics and Julie Cohen's writing is simply wonderful; so captivating and descriptive, easily bringing the story to life with her writing style. I was intrigued by mainly Felicity's character from the first few pages and was really curious to see what would happen to her and how things would eventually work out for her and her husband Quinn.

While reading, I had mixed feelings when it came to Felicity. One moment I really felt for her and kept my fingers crossed for a happy ending for her, but at other times she made me quite angry with the decisions she made. Quinn is a simply wonderful husband and I think many female readers will develop a little crush on him, just like I did. I really cared about the two of them as a couple and I can't even start to imagine what it would be like if something like this would happen to someone I love. Once again, Julie Cohen has managed to treat us to a thought-provoking, original and heart-wrenching read; a book that comes highly recommended if you're looking for your next compelling women's fiction read!
Rating:
8/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.