Friday, 28 February 2014

Review: The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One single mum
With two jobs and two children, Jess Thomas does her best day after day. But it's hard on your own. And sometimes you take risks you shouldn't. Because you have to . . .

One chaotic family
Jess's gifted, quirky daughter Tanzie is brilliant with numbers, but without a helping hand she'll never get the chance to shine. And Nicky, Jess's teenage stepson, can't fight the bullies alone. 
Sometimes Jess feels like they're sinking . . .

One handsome stranger
Into their lives comes Ed Nicholls, a man whose life is in chaos, and who is running from a deeply uncertain future. But he has time on his hands. He knows what it's like to be lonely. And he wants to help . . .

One unexpected love story
The One Plus One is a captivating and unconventional romance from Jojo Moyes about two lost souls meeting in the most unlikely circumstances.

Review: wow-such a different concept for a book! Whilst I was reading this book-someone asked me what it was about and I really struggled to tell them without just telling them the whole story, it's such an unusual plot. The cover really does this justice though because the novel is about those characters in the front of the book and every single one of them discovers something monumental over the course of this story. It's about an epic journey, feelings and emotions, money and what it's like to be on your own and the suddenly not. See-I'm even having trouble summing it up now-nevertheless-I loved the plot and this book was a real page turner. 

This book is written from several narratives, each and every one having its own distinctive vice which I thought was amazing. We have single mum Jess. A fabulous, feisty character who is the kind of lynchpin that holds the story together. Her optimism and go-getter attitude is something you don't see as often in today's society, and so I found her exceptionally refreshing. Ed, who finds himself unwittingly involved in this story. I think of all the characters, his journey is the longest. I didn't really like Ed in the beginning, but I definitely warmed to him as the novel progressed, and was really rooting for him towards the end. Then you have Teenager Nicky and Little girl Tanzie. Tanzie is gorgeous and reminded me of some of the children that I teach. I loved the fact that Jojo Moyes wasn't afraid to write from a child's point of view and her sections of the novels really do sound like the genuine article! Nicks sections are my favourite because he doesn't hold back with his options of events, and it is in his sections that we learn the most juicy secrets, about any of the characters. There is also a large, smelly dog, the fifth character in the nice-he doesn't have a lot to say but is a total superstar too! 

I didn't find the multiple-narrative confusing in anyway. It really added depth to the story and allowed you to see se of the key events in the novel from more that one point of view which is always a fun thing! The storyline has it all really: comedy, drama, romance, heartache, moments which caused me to become so angry I was in tears on the tube, and other moments where I couldn't help but read it aloud to whoever was near me at the time (not on the tube). It really is a unique and wonderful novel. If you are a fan of this authors writing, you will definitely love the way this novel is written. Although it is a complete departure from her previous novel, it is still magical and definitely something to be read. Do not be out off by its size because you will have to continue to turn the pages and so the sheer number of them become irrelevant, it's completely about what's going on between them. I so enjoyed this novel, it was so cleverly written and has left me feeling so optimistic I'm not sure I can read anything else now! 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Review! It Felt Like A Kiss by Sarra Manning

Meet Ellie Cohen, one of the most perfect girls in London.

Ellie manages a swank Mayfair gallery, but it’s her life that’s a real work of art. Great job, really good hair, loyal friends, loving family. It’s only her succession of lame duck boyfriends that ruin the picture.

Oh, and the world-famous rock-star father she’s never met, who won’t even acknowledge her existence.

Then Ellie’s perfect life is smashed to pieces when her secret is sold to the highest bidder and her name, face (and pictures of her bottom) are splashed across the tabloids. Suddenly everyone thinks she’s a gold-digging, sex-crazy, famewhore.

Enter David Gold. Charming and handsome David Gold. On paper he’s even more perfect than Ellie, if only he wasn’t her father’s ruthlessly ambitious lawyer whose job is to manage the crisis – and her. He certainly doesn’t think that Ellie’s the innocent party and she doesn’t trust him at all. So why is it that every time they’re alone together, damage limitation is the last thing on their minds?

Review: I'm a big fan of this author's writing and I was so excited to read this book. The structure of the book was very interesting. It covers Ellie in present day London but  also has flashbacks to when her mother was in London, and around the time that Ellie was conceived. I love parallel storylines like this (of course they both came together in the end) but I did find it a little hard to get into at the beginning. I felt a little like there was a storyline that I should know something about but I didn't, like I had missed something somewhere. When I got into the flow of the story, however, I really enjoyed this dual perspective, and found it added to the excitement of what was going to happen to Ellie in the end. 

I wasn't sure initially how Ellie would deal with the problems posed to her in this book, I worried that perhaps, she would crack under the pressure, but then I remembered that this is a book written by Sarra Manning and so of course Ellie would be a kick-ass feminist heroine with friends and family of exactly the same ilk! She was a wonderful character because she never lost hope, wanted to continue to work and strived to be independent through the entirety of the novel. Her mother was equally strong and just didn't seem phased by any of the drama going on around them, when again, she could have crumbled under the pressure. 

The relationship that developed over the course of this novel was an interesting one. I kind of saw it coming but I almost didn't want it to happen. This is unusual for me, but nevertheless I still had some aww moments during the ending and the sexier scenes between the two characters were excellently written. I really liked that this book was set in London, it became another supporting character almost and gave as much to the storyline as the quirky people who worked with Ellie at the gallery and her mothers interesting acquaintances. 

Although this book was long in terms of pages, it really wasn't a difficult story to read and didn't feel like it dragged at any point. Because of the drama unfolding in the story it had plenty of pace! Overall I really enjoyed this novel and it definitely lives up to the standard set by this authors other adult novels. I have a couple of her other titles sitting on my shelf and will definitely be reading those very soon! 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Mini review: Deception-The Arcade Year 2 Episode 1 by Kitty Charles

It's New Year's Eve and the tenants of Angell's Arcade are preparing in their own ways to greet 2014. But as they gather for their traditional get together under the glass atrium, it seems as though everyone has something to hide.

And Joan is keeping the biggest secret of them all...nothing will ever be the same again.

The #1 Amazon bestselling serial! Like your favourite soap, The Arcade brings you characters you love to hate – and to love. Each bite-sized episode is perfect for your journey to work, your lunch-break – or a quiet night of escapism. And it’ll leave you wanting more – with a teaser of next month’s storyline! 

Review: this episode of The Arcade kicks off perfectly, covering every single character and catching up with wha they are doing now, it also leads readers in the directions of what is going to happen in the year ahead in The Arcade. I have to admit, I really didn't know where the arcade as going to go next, there was so much drama and so much happened last year in this fabulous series, and yet the writers have managed to set up some drama and goings on nicely for the year ahead. 

It was great that this episode literally covers all the characters. If you're wondering how things are faring for the characters featured in the November episode, you can find out here. If you're wanting to know how a certain new arcade couple are getting on, you can find out here. It is very hard to cover all the characters in such a short space of time/words and yet it has been done well here. The characters and their storylines have been covered thoroughly and without rushing, and left me feeling entirely satisfied as a regular arcade reader. 

If you missed out on any episodes of The Arcade last year, I would suggest catching up with those before reading the first episode of the second year. If you've yet to meet any of these characters and experience this wonderful monthly soap opera of novellas, then you can always download the entire twelve episodes in Where Dreams Come True, a Year in The Arcade. I don't think readers who haven't read The Arcade yet will be able to access this episode, however regular readers of The Arcade will find everything they are looking for here...

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Top Ten Tuesday REWIND: Top Ten Authors I'd Die to Meet 25/2/14

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

This is a bit of a tricky one because I've been so so lucky to have met tons of authors over the last couple of years. Some of my favourite authors to be precise and so there really aren't that many authors left that I haven't met. On the blog I list my favourite authors as  Lindsey Kelk, Rowan Coleman, Milly Johnson, Carmen Reid, Ali Harris, Sophie Kinsella, Jenny Colgan, Marian Keyes and Kate Harrison. I'll begin by listing those in that list that I haven't already met and then chuck in a few more for good measure. This is a terribly greedy top ten therefore, here goes! 

1. Carmen Reid. I love this writer and her new young adult novel last year was just awesome. 

2. Sophie Kinsella. A chick-lit queen and author of one of my favourite books of all time, I'd love to meet her! 

3. Jenny Colgan. I was supposed to meet her last summer but I was really ill so unfortunately I missed out, hopefully the opportunity will arise again soon. 

4. Jane Costello. Another author who I will hopefully be able to meet soon. Her novels always cheer me up so I'm sure meeting her will have exactly the same effect! 

5. Lisa Jewell. This was another author I was going to meet last summer but missed out on due to the horrible holiday bug and again, I hope to be able to rectify this soon. 

6. David Nicols. Again an author of one of all time favourite books, I think I'd totally Fangirl over him though! 

7. Helen Fielding. Another of my favourite books' authors and such a witty lady I'd love to have a chat with her! 

8. John Green. I know a couple of people who have met this clever writer and went to pieces, he's such a funny person and I love his YouTube videos so I'd love to meet him! 

9. Stephen Fry. I know he's kind of more a celebrity than an author but I found his writing so interesting and I just think he'd be awesome to have a conversation with...

10. Holly Smale. I just loved her Geek Girl books and so did the kids at school so it would be amazing to meet her and also to have her come and visit my school! 

So there you have it. I am jammy enough to have met so many wonderful authors and I still want to meet more! Let me know in the comments which authors you would love to meet...

Monday, 24 February 2014

Book Ninja Challenge

I have a confession to make... When I am out shopping for books, even just browsing Bookshops, I do something a little bit naughty. I take books that I love by authors that I love and I move them to more prominent positions. Whether this is just turning the book around so it is facing out wards rather than just the spine being visible, moving it from the bottom of a shelf to the top of a shelf, or moving it onto the tables nearer the front of the shop, I want others to love the book and so I give that book a better chance to be seen (and loved) by other people.

This wasn't something that I did before I started blogging, it's something that I've started doing since it met such lovely authors, perhaps this is something that you've done too. Or thought about doing and not been as naughty as me to to actually do it...

The other day I moved novels by Rowan Coleman, Hannah Beckerman and Miranda Dickinson in a branch of a certain well-known bookshop chain (others bookstores are available) and was chatting about it on twitter afterwards. Are there other people who do this? Or other people who would be willing to do this? And what's the most outrageous you can be whilst moving these books around your local bookshop?

Now I'm not condoning moving displays around in bookshops, I know its a naughty thing to do so what I'm looking for is you reading any one of these authors' books in a public place. Reading their books in plain view of other people is a great way to make people aware of them as well. So take a picture of yourself reading any of their books on the train, on a beach or even in a bookshop! Tweet me the pictures using #BookNinjas for a chance to win (and love) something by these authors and I'll choose a winner at the end of the week. 

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Letterbox Love #3

Welcome to Letterbox Love, this is a UK meme, hosted by the lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking and inspired by The Story Siren's In My Mailbox. This post is a means by which to highlight the books we get in the post and beyond, and especially to bring attention to those books which may be sat on our shelves for a little while yet that we love all the same.

I've received a couple of books for review over the last couple of weeks and also bought a few books for myself so I'd like to share these with you now... 

From Head of Zeus I received Fractured by Dani Atkins and A Little Love by Amanda Prowse. I'm so looking forward to reading these and thanks so much to the publishers for sending me them for review. 

I had a trip up to Glasgow this weekend and popped into my favourite waterstones where I picked up Down London road and Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young.

I also popped into a few branches of The Works, and in the Bath branch and the Harrogate Branch I bought a few books...

I bought Bad Girls and Divas by Rebecca Chance; The Juliet Society by Sasha Grey; The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach; linger by Maggie Stiefvater; Angel Uncovered by Katie Price; The Delirium Series by Lauren Oliver; Extras and Specials by Scott Westerfield and The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue. I also got Salmon Fishing in The Yemen on audiobook. As well as this I popped into Waterstones in Reading and picked up The hardback More than This by Patrick Ness for a bargainous £5!

Let me know below what you have received this week, or what I should be reading next! 

Friday, 21 February 2014

Cover reveal: A Girl Called Summer by Lucy Lord

I'm very excited to be bringing you another fabulous cover reveal today, have been lucky enough to reveal some wonderful covers lately... So without further ado here is the gorgeous cover of A Girl Called Summer by Lucy Lord:

Island life is just one step away…
A new start…
Bella and Andy have escaped the rat race for the sun-drenched, relaxed lifestyle on the island of Ibiza. But with a run-down house to make habitable and a distractingly gorgeous neighbour, is their island idyll all that it seems?
A holiday adventure…
Tamara Gold has been Hollywood’s most notorious car crash since she was a child star. Now clean and sober, and engaged to Tinseltown’s hottest leading man, it seems like she’s finally conquered her addictions, if not her bratty behaviour. But a summer in Europe with all the hedonistic lures of Ibiza beckons…
A girl called Summer…
Summer Larsson has always known Ibiza as home: a haven of hippies, yoga and healthy eating – and loneliness. But in Bella, she’s found the friend she always needed, and when Bella’s glamorous Hollywood friends come to visit, it looks like she might have found true love as well…
This could be the summer that everything changes…
Author Website:

Amazon link:

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Recent Author Meetings...

 One of the best parts of being a blogger/reviewer is being invited to events held by authors or publishers, whether they are publicity events, book launches or signings. Whilst some of these are public events, some of these events are laid on especially for us blogger and so i feel very lucky to get invited to some of these events. 

A couple of weeks ago i had one week were only one out of the seven days ended up being a day that i did not get to meet a writer/author. It was an amazing, if very tiring week, and although i did take away a lot of review copies of books, the most enjoyable part was having the opportunity to connect with these authors. 

I have already written about my time at the Random House Bloggers Brunch so if you want to find out about that event and meeting Matt Hag, have a look back at that Post. 

On the Monday I was incredibly lucky because Miranda Dickinson was lovely enough to come into my school and speak to my children about writing. It was a very tiring day for her speaking to 4 classes of year 6 children, all with very interesting questions but she was amazing. She did an activity with them that was generating story ideas and some of the tales they came up with were just wonderful! The children seemed incredibly inspired by her, and by the day and many of them have come to me to tell me that they have since borrowed her books from the library, or asked to borrow copies of mine!

The event that took place on Wednesday was a book launch. It was to launch How to Get a (Love) Life by Rosie Blake. The event took place is a fabulously trendy bar in soho and the room couldn't have been more perfect for the launch. It was great to put lots of faces to twitter accounts and meet some other wonderful authors who have added even more to my massively towering TBR pile. The fabulous author gave a very moving speech thanking people for their support and saying that she'd had the launch to thank all those of us who are so supportive on twitter as well as in real life. t was a great event and I'm so pleased for her that it was so well attended. I reviewed the book, it was an excellent chick-lit novel and you can see my review from last week on the blog!

On Thursday I was back to Random House for and evening of crime. This was an interesting event and not the kind of thing i would ususally go to. I have started to really enjoy reading YA novels and find it useful to know the kinds of things that are coming up for children of the age that I teach and up. I've found some wonderful titles for some of our more able readers recently and they are always coming and asking if they can bowwor my books or asking me to find them something to read. This event featured four authors all of whom were there and all of whom signed my book afterwards. They were; Jane Casey author of How to Fall, talking about her new books which i mentioned in my previous Random House post. Also mentioned in my previous post was Simon Mason who wrote crime detective novel Running Girl. Both of these lovely authors signed my book and talked very comprehensively about what its like to write crime fiction for teens. 

We also got to listen to Niall Leonard talk about his new book Incinerator which is the sequel to Crusher. He was so interesting to listen to and spoke in exactly the same way as he writes! The final author was Helen Grant. We got given copies of her novel Silent Saturday which she signed for us all and she spoke about her new novel The Demons of Ghent. The way she pitched her novels made them sound so compelling, even though this isn't normally a genre i read, i will definitely be giving these two a go, perhaps i feel a marathon coming on.

The final event of this fabulous week of authors was organised by OUP and some lucky bloggers, including me of course, were summouned to a room just near to Waterloo station to meet two fabulous authors as they launched their books. I have read both of these novels and so it as a real treat to be able to meet the authors. We were treated to drinks and nibbles and then a talk and quiz from both Joss Stirling and Nikki Sheehan. I was rubbish at both of the unfortunately but the authors made up for that by signing my books and chatting to me afterwards.

It was wonderful to meet them both as well as the team from OUP. Catching up with some of the other blogger was great too and i was one of the last to leave, proving what an awesome evening it was. 

Although this week wore me out completely, it was amazing to meet so many fabulous people and be inspired to read so many great books.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Guest Review: Christmas At Thornton Hall by Lynn Marie Hulsman

Today I have a treat of a guest review for you, although this is a Christmas review, it s a book that works well at any time of year, thank so much to my guest reviewer for this one! 

When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend’s apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas – with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!
So when she’s personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it’s not long before Juliet’s standing at the (back) door of the Earl of Gloucester’s impossibly grand ancestral pile.
The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.
But other flames are burning besides those on the stove… Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet’s getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?
As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall’s numerous dark cupboards!

Being a big fan of Christmas-based stories and films, I was particularly looking forward to reading this debut novel by Lynn Marie Hulsman. It tells the story of Juliet, an American chef who takes a job at the last minute catering for a Christmas house party at Thornton Hall, an English country house. We meet a host of characters representing residents, staff and guests, some of whom are entertaining, and others downright annoying.
It took me a while to get into this story, principally because I felt like I had walked into a party where everybody knew one another and the history of what had transpired between them in earlier times. Gradually, things became clear through a series of flashbacks, but it was hard going for a while. I found this style of writing rather distracting, but persevered and eventually got hooked into the story.
There was quite a bit of humour in the tale, particularly in the interactions among the staff members at the hall. However, at times the story line seemed unnecessarily complicated. In places, we were led down side roads that just petered out. The cast of characters was almost too large, and the story was sometimes cluttered by events involving minor players.  However, there was bags of romance as well, as Juliet seemed to have men falling over themselves to win her. We were kept guessingpractically to the end as to which one she would eventually choose.
I don’t think that Christmas at Thornton Hall is a book that I will want to read again and again, but it is an entertaining tale for anyone looking for a festive romance.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Reasons I Love being A Blogger 18/2/14

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

This is a fun one, and so easy to write. These are in no particular order so I'll just jump right in. 

1. Meeting other bloggers. Not many peoe understand how I find the time to read with such a busy job and social life as well. They also don't understand why I feel the need to buy so many bos when I really don't have much money. Other bloggers understand this. Other bloggers always have support for me, a book recommendation for me or indeed a bookshop recommendation for me. They find the time to fit in a good book even when no time can be seen-other bloggers are amazing! 

2.  Meeting authors. This has definitely been an amazing part of blogging for me so far! Whilst I went to book signings Before, I didn't get invited to so many exclusive events as well. Being invited to launches is just the most amazing feeling and I've also met some amazing authors who have come in and inspired my children at school as well as inspiring me! 

3. Getting to know about new books ahead of time. This has been amazing. Through twitter and speaking to bloggers or authors themselves I've been able to find out about new books an author has been working on and know about things that are happening months in advance. This means that I can get super excited about the book months in advance too-yippee! 

4. Being sent books. I can't deny that getting advance copies of books or review copies of books is an amazing perk of being a blogger. It's wonderful because as a blogger you want to read ALL THE BOOKS but you can't always afford to and whilst the library is amazing, it doesn't always have things I want in, so being sent review copies is totally awesome! 

5. Finding amazing debut novelists. This is definitely a fun part of blogging, sometimes you get asked to review something by a debut author and then amazing things happen for that author and you can be someone who supported them right from the beginning-such a lovely feeling! 

6. Being knowledgable enough to find a book for a reluctant reader. Whilst this is generally children I work with at school, sometimes this can be a friend or acquaintance who doesn't like to read. Having read or heard about so many awesome books, it's great to help them find something that will work for them! 

7. Knowing interesting facts about books on the shelves. I was in Asda the other day and I said to the soon I was with-oh that books was originally going to have red accents on the cover, but they chose pink at the last minute because the thought it popped more-that was very cool and not something I'd know about if it hadn't been for blogging! 

8. Getting to hear the authors motivation for writing. When we are sent books we are issues with a press release as well and often this has a lot of information about the Author, this can help the reader understand the motivation behind that book and that takes the enjoyment of the book to such a different place. This also happens when you meet authors and are chatting to them and it just opens up a whole new world. I've often been tempted to go back and re-read a book again after having spoken to the author, or heard an interview with them about their motivation being writing. 

9. Meeting some of my favourite authors. On my blog I list my favourite authors as Lindsey Kelk, Rowan Coleman, Milly Johnson, Carmen Reid, Ali Harris, Sophie Kinsella, Jenny Colgan, Marian Keyes and Kate Harrison. (Direct quote) and I have met five of these amazing ladies! These authors have got me through some really tough times and I have devoured new things they have come out with. Getting to meet some of these writers has meant to much to me I can't even express it and that has been on of the most wonderful things that has come of having this blog! 

10. The amazing books. Sometimes as a blogger, you are sent books or asked to read a book you might not normally pick up. This has happened many times for me, and whilst sometimes it's tempting to say no and carry on with the trusted genre you know and love, sometimes it can totally pay off to read something different. Last year I read so many books tha weren't really my kind of thing that turned out to be totally amazing and made it onto my top ten books of the year. Of course there were risks that didn't pay off, but that's always going to happen whatever field you're in. Discovering amazing books that take you to amazing places is definitely the best part of being a blogger. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Review: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. 

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, , she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

Review: wow-I loved this book. I wasn't sure what to expect with it, I just decided to go for it on a whim-aren't those always the best book buys? I was sucked into this book right away and could not tear myself away from it! I downloaded it on audiobook and actually relished sitting in traffic last night because it meant that I got to listen to a whole chunk of it and then relish the last moments when I eventually got home. This was such a compelling read, so touching and such a well thought out storyline. 

I think the idea for someone losing their memory and having to rediscover their life is not an original one, but it's not one that has been done as well as in this case. The storyline itself is just so intricately woven with every detail and every moment accounted for, you can tell this author put in a lot of thought and effort into how the twists and turns of the story were going to take place. I love that fact that Alice regresses just ten years, she can remember her husband, but not much else about her current life, and the more she discovers about the person she is now. The more she doesn't like her. It's a bit like a reverse Christmas Carol but without the snow. Some of the events that happen are seriously touching, others absolutely hilarious, but all are described in such details that you feel like you are actually living them yourself! At moments, the reader feels as if they are Alice and each thing that slowly unravels for her, also reveals itself to them-just so clever! 

The characters in this book are just gorgeous. Alice is so likeable. When she loses her memory, she becomes so optimistic and so willing and open to everything it is impossible not to fall in love with her. Her friends and relatives provide a lot of comedy and I think it's hilarious that no on understands that she can't remember them! Her children are gorgeous characters and are an integral parts of the story, something which so many other books lack. Again, it's not just the storyline that is well-thought out. The characters themselves have traits that last from the present day, to ten years ago, to the future in the epilogue. They carry these traits right the way through the book and each and very detail is accounted for-so clever. 

The book has an epilogue-which I love and it really wraps up the whole story so I was left feeling entirely satisfied by the ending, just like having finished a really comforting meal and feeling just ready to chill out. I just loved this book from beginning to end. It was lovely to have a book set in Australia, there aren't enough of these around and I think that every reader will be able to find something to love here. Because you are wanting to find out who Alice is and how the events that have come about have transpired this is a real page turner and so will be a very quick read, although the audiobook is superb and I really recommend that. Read this book and then appreciate what you have and those around you, I guarantee this will get you out of any reading slump/back to reading quicker than you can click your fingers! 

Friday, 14 February 2014

Review: Diary of an Unsmug Married by Polly James

What happens to love when life gets in the way?

A funny and perceptive read about real relationships. Perfect for fans of Dawn French, Sue Townsend and Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Meet Molly Bennett. Married to Max and mother to two warring teenagers, she’s just ‘celebrated’ a significant birthday. According to Bridget Jones Molly is a “smug married”. So why doesn’t she feel smug?

Is it because everyone seems to be having a better time of it than her? Or is it that Max has started taking more of an interest in ‘business trips’ and less of an interest in their sex life? Molly is beginning to despair until an old school friend starts flirting with her through Facebook …

Review: I was very excited about reading this book, I love a good diary structure-Bridget Jones being one of my favourite all time books! I got into this book straight away, I liked the chatty diary voice and I found the character of Molly fairly likeable, initially. As the book went on, however, I found her more and more confusing-you never knew what she was going to do next and so I found myself wanting to read about her less as I got to know more about her. There are two parallel storylines going on in this novel, Molly's work life and Molly's home life and I have to say I liked reading about her home life a lot more than I liked reading about her work life. I found the fact that she worked in politics a little boring. That's just my personal taste and I'm sure many other readers wouldn't be out off by this, but there was a lot of talk about party conferences and petty issues within the community the the MP she worked for had to deal with that just really didn't interest me. 

The other characters in this novel really were the gems for me. Her husband Max is just an ordinary middle-aged man trying to decipher what women (or specifically his wife) wants. They have two teenage children and these guys provide some real funny moments in the story-as you can well imagine. There is also a crazy neighbour, some slightly eccentric siblings and of course-the mother. You can see why I warmed so much more to Molly's home life than I did her work life. She does make some decisions in her home life that I really didn't like, however, and I found myself rather uncomfortable in parts. Again this is just my personal reading taste and I'm sure these things won't bother other readers (no spoilers of course)!

The is a fairly long book and I do think that some things in the book could've been left out, or told in a slightly shorter way than they were. I admit, there were some political scenes that I skimmed slightly because I just wasn't that into that storyline-don't judge me! I enjoyed having so much meat to the story about her personal life and I was really really happy with the ending. The ending was actually so good that I hope there is going to be a sequel! Overall, this was a good chick-lit novel and definitely a different idea for a storyline. It's in the long side so if that's the kind of thing that puts you off, then it's not for you. But if you're looking for something that will last you through that trip away then this is perfect! There were some really clever and witty moments of writing in this book their sure everyone will love, but it is slightly heavy on the political references for my taste. 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Exclusive Extract From The Guestbook by Holly Martin


Welcome to Willow Cottage – throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze and make yourself completely at home. Oh, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook.

As landlady of Willow Cottage, the young widow Annie Butterworth is always on hand with tea, sympathy or strong Norfolk cider - whatever her colourful array of guests require.  A flick through the messages in the leather-bound cottage guestbook gives a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of everyone who passes through her doors.

This includes Annie herself - especially now celebrity crime writer Oliver Black, is back in town. He might grace the covers of gossip magazines with a different glamorous supermodel draped on his arm every week, but to Annie, he’s always just been Olly, the man who Annie shared her first kiss with.

Through the pages of the Guestbook Annie and Olly, along with all the guests that arrive at the seaside retreat, struggle with love, loss, mystery, joy, happiness, guilt…and the odd spot of naked rambling!

Forget sending postcards saying ‘wish you were here’ - one visit to Willow Cottage and you’ll wish you could stay forever.

There is a review today on
Read on for the second exclusive extract of The Guestbook, released on Valentine’s Day.  The first extract can be found on

 8th – 14th March
Oliver Butterworth.  Black

I’m here to kill someone and I’m not leaving until I’ve done it.  
Oliver Black

I’m thinking of using a scythe, with a jagged serrated edge.  Though I don’t want my victim to die too quickly, it needs to be slow and painful, it needs to be bloody.  I want her to see her blood drain out of her, slowly, agonizingly feel her life force ebb away.  I want her to beg for her salvation.  I want that tough hard exterior to crumble in the last pitiful minutes of her pathetic life.  I want to see her cry.

My best laid plans continue to go awry.  As devious as I am in trying to catch my prey, she is as cunning at evading me.  I almost respect her for it.  Almost.

Oh Olly, you do make me laugh.  It’s good to have you back.  You do realise how this will look don’t you, or is that your intention?  I’ll have the police on me for harbouring a criminal.  If they come for me, I’m taking you down with me.  There’s no honour amongst thieves.  
Annie x

Careful Annie, or I may have to kill you.

Oh please do, I’ve been begging you to kill me off for years.  The bloodier and messier the better.  Could you chop off my head and tear out my innards?  Could you gouge out my eyes and keep them about your person as a memento?  You could have a whole box of eyes left over from your victims.  Oh and could you write some message on the walls using my blood? My brain could be the full stop.  I’d love that.

I bet you would you sicko.   Now leave me alone.  I came here for some peace and solitude, not to be bothered every five minutes by the dodgy landlady next door.  If you disturb me again I really will consider ripping out your heart and letting you watch as it beats feebly in my bloody hands.

Promises, promises.  Come for dinner tonight, don’t shut yourself away for the whole week, I’ve missed you.  If you come I promise to be good and quiet for at least a day.

Right, that’s it, you’re in for it now.  I need a big knife.

I have one.  You’re welcome to come round and borrow it.

After dinner with my sister-in-law I feel much better about the murder.  We talked things through and she gave me some great ideas on how to commit the perfect crime.  I now know how I’m going to dispose of the body too.  No one will ever find her.  Claudette Montana is going to die tonight.  I will not rest until she is lying in the ground.

Claudette Montana?  Really? Please kill me off, not her.

I am not killing you off.  I’ve told you before, Annie Butterworth just isn’t sexy enough to be in one of my books.  Annie Butterworth sounds like an old granny with fluffy slippers and someone who wears cardigans no matter how hot it is.  Why do you think I changed my name to Oliver Black?  Oliver Butterworth would be smoking a pipe and sucking on his Werther’s Originals, he certainly wouldn’t be the number one crime writer in Britain, nay the world.

You think a lot of yourself don’t you?  And yes, I’m well aware I’m not sexy enough for you.

Are we still talking about the book here?  Let’s not go down that weird road again.   Besides you were in my last book, you obviously didn’t look hard enough.

I was not, I would have noticed that.

Try the very front of the book.

What’s this?  The Great Oliver Black having writer’s block?  Surely not.  
Sophia Lorenzo.  Cleaner.

Oh Annie.  Please tell me, with all your money, why you still haven’t got yourself a decent cleaner yet? Why do you still have this old bag hanging around like a bad smell?

Oliver Butterworth, don’t think you are too old to be put over my knee.  Sophia

Oh Aunty Sophia, are you still mad that I killed you off in Behind Closed Doors.

I was more bothered that you made me into a prostitute.

High class escort actually, I couldn’t resist.  Besides Sophia Lorenzo is a much sexier sounding name than Annie Butterworth.

You dedicated your last book to me!!  How did I miss that?  I can’t believe you did that.  That’s… Thank you.

Oh don’t get all soppy on me.  Jeez if I knew it was going to get this reaction I would have dedicated it to my local Chinese take-out, who kept me fed through the duration of the book.

And Sophia, it wasn’t so much writer’s block, more murderer’s block.  I had made the character of Claudette so clever, underhanded and cunning that she wouldn’t fall for the plots and ploys of Maxwell Hunt.  I also needed to make sure the reader would feel sympathetic towards him, they had to want Claudette dead almost as much as he did.

It is technically Tuesday.  3.27 Tuesday morning to be precise.  But Claudette has been killed.  I feel like singing ‘ding, dong the witch is dead’.  I have cracked open a bottle of Whin Hill Cider to celebrate but may sneak next door and top up my celebrations with some of Annie’s amazing trifle.

Note to self: When breaking into your sister-in-law’s place either go blindfolded or call out to make sure she is decent first.  I don’t know who was more shocked when I walked in to find her stark naked tucking into the trifle.  Admittedly we’re experiencing one of the hottest springs since before dinosaurs roamed the earth but still, one should wear a robe when wandering about downstairs.  

Why should I wear a robe in my own house?  Normally my guests don’t just take it upon themselves to wander into my house and help themselves to my food.  That’s not part of the service.  Besides you have seen me naked before.

Yes.  You’ve put on weight since the last time.

Oh my god! Thanks very much!

Annie! You know very well that I meant that as a good thing.  You were a bag of bones the last time I saw you.  I’m so glad you’re eating properly again now.

Nag, nag, nag.

I’m just saying, what I saw in the light of the fridge for those brief seconds was damned sexy.

Sexy enough to be in one of your books?


If you won’t kill me off how about making me into a murderer instead?

Annie Butterworth, blonde hair, blue eyes, face like an angel, cast as an evil murderer, who would believe it?

My sister-in-law has gone mad.  Maybe the grief of my brother dying has finally got to her and it’s pushed her over the edge.  She tried to kill me three times yesterday.  
The first time she leapt out of a cupboard with an axe.  Scared the bloody crap out of me, but only because she was screaming like a banshee.  When I turned around and saw Annie brandishing an axe in her little flowered blouse and denim shorts with those stupid oversized sandals she loves so much I burst out laughing, hardly the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.  
The second time a quiche appeared in my kitchen with a packet of rat poison next to it.  The quiche tasted amazing, Annie always could cook.  
I had to give her points for trying on the third attempt.  I woke to find her straddling me, dressed head to toe in a black leather cat suit, her hair slicked back, her eyes lined with black and a knife pressed to my throat.  I must admit she did look mean, but I was too busy trying not to be turned on to be scared of her.  Quite frankly if she had killed me then I would have gone with a huge grin on my face.  
Annie, I know you just don’t have it in you to be a killer. I’ve seen you stop the car for a frog to cross the road.  You didn’t even have the guts to use a real knife, you had a spoon handle pressed to my throat.

I didn’t want to hurt you.  I could be believable as a killer, just you wait and see.

Annie may be a better killer than I thought.  Last night I nearly died laughing.  
She had made a dummy by stuffing old clothes with newspapers, a head out of an old melon and fastened it all together to look like a body then wrapped it in a black bin bag.  Just as it was starting to turn dark she went out to her front garden, and in full view of the rest of the village, dug a hole to bury the body.  She obviously wanted to raise suspicions and prove that people would think she was capable of such a thing.  
She was in luck.  David Lambeth, the local constabulary, was driving past and he stopped when he saw her digging.  I think she nearly did a little victory dance that he would ask her what she was doing and to explain the body shaped bag on her front lawn.  But without a word, David went to the shed, grabbed another spade and helped her to dig the hole only stopping once to clarify how deep she wanted it.  I laughed so much I think I ruptured something inside.

Even when I told him I wanted the hole six feet deep he didn’t bat an eyelid.  I did relent in the end and told him I’d finish the hole the next day.  He’s coming round later to help me finish it off.

I’m being kicked out today.  Apparently a paying guest is more important than family.

You can stay in my spare room, you know that.  I promise not to jump you.

I’d prefer to keep the boundaries a bit stricter, after last time.


I’ll be back for the grand re-opening of The Painted Plate.  Take Care Annie, Sophia, take care of her.

I will.  Don’t stay away so long next time.  Sophia x


Tomorrow is Publication Day for The Guestbook!!! Join me on to listen to me talk about the inspiration for The Guestbook and on there will be another review.

Link to buy:

Now YOU can get involved too, here is our very own Guestbook online, take the time to visit and leave a comment, join in the fun and tell us what you thought of your experience. Meet new friends or be nosey and see what others have got up to before you!