Friday 30 May 2014

Review: The Three of Us by Cathy Woodman

The Three of Us is an exclusive short story introducing Zara, the village midwife whose story you can read in Follow Me Home, and bringing us up to date with what's happened to Tessa and Jack from The Village Vet

Tessa and Jack live at the animal sanctuary in Talyton St George. They had been friends for years, but it wasn't until Jack interrupted Tessa's wedding that she discovered his feelings for her were stronger than she ever knew.

Now, a year on, they could not be happier. And when Tessa discovers she's pregnant, it's as if all their dreams have come true.

But a scan shows that there are complications, and suddenly Tessa realises that Jack has always had doubts about having a baby. Supported throughout by Zara, the village midwife, Tessa and Jack have some tough decisions to make.

However, as the baby's birth draws closer, Tessa and Jack grow further apart. Will he feel differently when the baby is born? Or will having her wonderful child mean losing the man of her dreams?

Review: this was the first Cathy Woodman book I'd read because I thought it might give me a little taste of her writing, having been recommended her books in the past. I was so glad that I read this. Frustratingly I wasn't able to sit down and read it in one big chunk because life got in the way whenever I actually tried to sit down but I read it in three sittings, although I think it would be even more lovely in one. Seriously though, this author has packed so many feels into such a little novella, it's insane! 

I so enjoyed this storyline. Even though I didn't know any of the characters from previous or further novels I still managed to fall in love with them. The idea of people having a baby and everything not being exactly rosy, actual reality sets in, the fact that things go wrong, or people become unhappy I think is so realistic and needs to be written about (and not in an overly dramatic way). This had the feel of an awesome chick lit novel but is short enough to get through after work! I loved midwife Zara and so I really want to read the full novel that follows this so that I can get to know her a little bit more, she just seemed to down to earth but I'm sure she's got some secrets lurking in her past...

This was a really enjoyable book. The setting was fab because of all the animals and it was obviously a super fast read. As you can tell from the review, you don't have to have read any of this authors novels before to enjoy this although I'm sure if you're a fan of her writing and know the characters then some of the things in the story will have extra meaning for you. A lovely little treat of a novella! 

Thursday 29 May 2014

Countdown to 5th June: Interview with Bali Rai

Today I'm very lucky to be joined by Bali Rai, just one of the authors releasing a book on 5th June this year. His book, Web Of Darkness sound gripping and fast-paced and I can't wait to read it when it comes out. 

Don't forget to check over to the Countdown website to find more fab books released on 5th June

I love hearing author's answers to my questions, they make for a fascinating read, so without further ado, I give you... Bali Rai

1. First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?

Writing is something I've always done - ever since I first read Roald Dahl's stories and wanted to create my own versions. In terms of my writing career, I showed some work to a local agent, back in the 19990s, and the agent took me on, and introduced me to publishers.

2. Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?

I do write full time, and was lucky enough to become full-time from just after my first book, (un)arranged marriage, was published in 2001. I do spend a huge amount of time on the road, doing school events, too.

3. Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer?

I tend to write about modern Britain in the main. Some people may call the these novels "issue-based" (usually as some sort of put down, in my experience) but I prefer to call them reality-based dramas. I'm very much motivated by a desire to represent voices that are missing in contemporary fiction - and unfortunately if you're non-white, or even white and working class, yours is one of those voices.

4. How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?

I always develop the main characters first, and yes, most are based on real people - even if only physically. I'm a firm believer in using the world around you to inspire your writing. As the writing progresses, I add touches to my characters, and there's always something new that comes to mind as the plot unfolds. The characters tend to be about 805 fixed as I start, with the rest added along the way.

5. What was the inspiration behind Web of Darkness?

The new novel was inspired by stories about cyber-bullying initially. Then, as I fleshed out my three central characters, it took on even darker themes. The idea was to explore what would happen to a group of friends if their online social life was trolled by a psychopath. What drives trolls on? I'd read somewhere that internet trolls share something like 70% of their psychological profile with psychopaths and serial killers - the same sense of narcissism etc... - and I started to work around that. I've explored the darker side of human nature before, in Angel Collector and Killing Honour, and I wanted to take that further. I love crime thrillers, and I know that many, many young people do too. I wanted to write the sort of novel that would be happily accepted in the adult market, but with a YA flavour. I've always thought that young people aren't given the same respect as adults when it comes to books, and the themes within those books, and I still think that now. As adults, we are never told what to read, or which genres/subjects are best suited to us. That level of respect in reading choices should be applied to young adults too.

6. What is your writing process-do you map it out first? Write a bit at a time?

I start with characters - and I always have, Then I consider what they will face in the course of the story, and see how they react to those situations. I stick with the three-act principle on the whole. The idea that a character walks onto a page, you set up a major turning point or dilemma for them, and then they resolve or deal with that. I write in chapters, usually one or two a day, and always leave about 505 of my plot unwritten, to account for idea that arise as I write. I think it's natural that writers get more ideas as they write. The thought of a rigid, point-by-point plot makes me shiver. I don't understand where the creativity would come from in such a situation - but then again, we are all different and no two writers do things the same way. There really is no right or wrong way to do it - regardless of what some people might say. You can either write well or not - that's it. 

7. How much of you is reflected in your novel?

I've never finished a novel and though that i haven't left some of my own ideas/self in the pages. I find it hard not to do that. I think that your man in characters tend to take on your world view and even your politics or your ethical/moral code. Otherwise, you'd end up disliking them, and would;t want to write about them!

8. What kind of research do you do before/during writing your novels?

The research tends to be minimal for the modern-day, realistic fiction. I do research, but usually I've been inspired by something I've read or seen anyway, and I check my facts etc... as I go. With some of the other styles I've done, especially City of Ghosts, which is historical fiction, I did loads of research before and during the writing phase. Yet, even then, I let my imagination create the battlefields of World War One, and the streets of Amritsar (in India) during 1919. I love research and it's important, but I think writers can get too caught up in making every detail accurate. I like to have some creative licence too.

9. Do you have any plans to develop your novel further, turn it into a series or write a sequel?

Not with Web of Darkness, even though it is a possibility. The only novel I've ever written a sequel to is The Crew. That book was The Whisper, and I loved the process. City of Ghosts and Fire City are also stories with sequels planned, but I haven't written them yet. That's partly because I've gone onto other ideas, and also about the way the publishing market works. It has to be the right book, at the right time (for yourself, as a writer, and if I'm honest, for your editor too) and I am determined to write both sequels I've mentioned. It's just a question of when. Generally, however, I write stand-alone stories, although i am planning two series, both for younger readers, and will one day write the first of an adult crime thriller series that has been in my head since I was about thirty!

10. How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?

Haha - I have a weird relationship with reviews. It's obviously wonderful when reviewers love your books, and can be frustrating when they get slaughtered, and I've had both experiences! I also use social media to promote my books, so the good reviews get posted and the bad ones ignored! But, I have to to be honest too. I really, genuinely, don't care one way or the other. I know that there isn't a book anywhere which is universally loved by every reader - that's an impossibility. I also know that there are trends in reviewing and publishing. One year people promote and laud one style of writing, say historical fiction, and the next year it's an entirely new genre or style. That merry-go-round doesn't interest me in the slightest. I've been doing this for far too long to worry about trends etc... I simply write what I want to write, and if the reviews are great, so be it. If not, never mind. I've always said that writers should never get too big-headed about good reviews, nor should they get depressed by awful ones. The act of writing and getting a book published is hard enough without then becoming frantic at the thought of a bad review. Just do what you do, to the best of your ability, and understand that you'll never please everyone. 

11. Are friends and family supportive of your writing?

My friends and close family have always been supportive, and as my career grows, that support increases. They talk to me about it all the time, or send me newspaper clippings etc... Many of the next generation - children, even grandchildren - read my books, and that's a special feeling for me. My hero is and always will be Sue Townsend, despite her sad passing recently, and in my city we love and adore her and her work, and more importantly, the fact that she gave our city a voice in literature. I always wanted to add to that voice, and to represent the ordinary folk who live next door, or that you see on the bus, and I think that my social circle enjoy that aspect of what I do, and encourage it too.

12. How do you feel leading up to your publication day?

Over the past thirteen years, my publication day feelings have become less about nerves and being frantic, and more about impatience. Once the book is finished, I just want to get into schools with it, and to read it to groups. I'm still as excited as I always was about seeing for the first time, and about adding another title to my list. There's nothing like that feeling, for me. Becoming an author was my dream from the age of seven, and every year, there's a small part of me that still can't believe that I became one!

13. Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?

How long have you got? Obviously Sue Townsend was a massive influence (and still is) but I can see one of my bookshelves as I write this, and the names Alan Gibbons, Anne Cassidy, Mal Peet, James Lee Burke and Gabriel Garcia Marquez are represented, and that's just one section! I love reading and adore books, so I'm happy to read anything, so long s it's good (which is, in itself, a very subjective thing, obviously!). I'm delighted by the current explosion in YA titles too, and looking forward to reading some great stuff this year.

14. What effect do you hope your novel will have on young people's awareness of safety?

I'm not sure Web of Darkness was written with an idea that it might affect how young people view online safety. I just wanted to write a story that worked, and was hopefully enjoyable and thrilling. If it makes people think a little more about their security online, that would be great, but it's not something I purposefully set out to achieve. I would like to think that my books challenge readers and make them think, but I have no control over whether that happens. It's just a welcome by-product of reading the stories, if it happens.

15.Finally...what are you working on right now?

I'm working on a few ideas at the moment. My next longer novel is about a Year 9 boy who is struggling to find his place in the world, just like his peers, when he is faced with a life-changing family situation. It explores illness and the death of a loved one, and how teenagers cope with such things, but is much warmer than Web of Darkness, which has a very steely and cold edge to it. It's going very well, although with a deadline approaching fast, I'm working very hard! I'm also working on two younger ideas and also thinking about the next YA project too. 

Thanks again to Bali for stopping by! 

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Guest post: Wedding Tips from Jenny Oliver

If you are as excited about Jenny Oliver's latest book; The Vintage Summer Wedding as I am then you are going to be equally as excited about today's guest post from the author herself! There's some more info about the author & a fab competition at the bottom of the page but here's the blurb for you just now...

Spending the summer uncovering hidden treasures in a vintage shop, Anna can still vividly remember both her childhood dreams; the first was that she’d become a Prima Ballerina, and dance on stage resplendent in a jewel-encrusted tutu. The second was that at her wedding she would walk down the aisle wearing a collective-gasp-from-the-congregation dress.

Years ago Anna pirouetted out of her cosy hometown village in a whirl of ambition…but when both of those fairy-tale dreams came crashing down around her ballet shoes, she and fiancĂ©e Seb find themselves back in Nettleton, their wedding and careers postponed indefinitely…

Don’t they say that you can never go home again? Sometimes they don’t get it right… This one summer is showing Anna that your dreams have to grow up with you. And sometimes what you think you wanted is just the opposite of what makes you happy…

It's my stop on the blog tour today & Jenny has been kind enough to share with you guys her top wedding tips, very appropriate as we are now well into wedding season.

Jenny Oliver’s Wedding Tips


So I am no more qualified to give wedding tips than anyone else  I thought my own wedding was brilliant but I’m sure there were things that went wrong, not least my own crippling nervousness before walking down the aisle because I was certain I might trip (I didn’t). The only thing I’d do differently would be my wedding car - I opted for just a simple black taxi when I wish I’d hired a great big pink Cadillac for the pure indulgent fun of it. C’est la vie… Maybe I’ll hire one the second time round (fingers crossed hubby isn’t reading).


Anyway, the blog is about wedding tips, so here goes...


For a bride - Don’t get nervous! It’s the most fun day you’ll ever have so enjoy. And take a moment, five minutes is enough, to spend with just the groom and bask in the joy of it all. That’s the five minutes that may just become your clearest memory.


For a groom - Urm. Get a good suit and a good haircut!? There is nothing like a good suit, I think, to make a man.


Dream wedding gift list - We weren’t going to have a list until my aunt demanded it of us and so we spent an afternoon in John Lewis picking out fun things we would never have bought ourselves. Things like bright red toasters, a yellow bread bin and a juicer. We even had his and hers electric toothbrushes on the list. When the man came to deliver it all after the wedding it was like Christmas! Boxes and boxes of presents piled up in our kitchen. I’m ashamed to admit it was one of the best bits of the whole thing! So I can’t tell you what to get or ask for but make sure it’s something that will make you smile. Even now when I use my red toaster I’m reminded of the friend who bought it for us.


The Dress - In The Vintage Summer Wedding the dress is quite a contentious issue. It becomes more important than the marriage itself. I’d say that whatever the bride wears she invariably looks stunning so don’t bankrupt yourself and don’t necessarily go white just because tradition dictates. If you like a cream trouser suit or a hot pink maxi dress then go for it. Like Anna in TVSW though if I had all the money in the world I’d choose Vera Wang.


Finally try and get a couple of photos on your phone or emailed to you because they are all you’ll want to look at on the plane or in the car to the honeymoon! Happy days xx  

Thanks so much to Jenny for stopping by today and how gorgeous is that cover?


The publishers also have a fab Pinterest page where they're running a competition to win a vintage summer hamper!


And if all that wasn't enough...The book is currently available for £2.99 as Google Play Read of the Week-

JENNY OLIVER wrote her first book on holiday when she was ten years old. Illustrated with cut-out supermodels from her sister’s Vogue, it was an epic, sweeping love story not so loosely based on Dynasty.

Since then Jenny has gone on to get an English degree, a Masters, and a job in publishing that’s taught her what it takes to write a novel (without the help of the supermodels). She wrote The Parisian Christmas Bake Off on the beach in a sea-soaked, sand-covered notebook and The Vintage Summer Wedding is her follow up. Follow her on Twitter @JenOliverBooks





Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

By day, two young women spend their hours emailing each other, discussing every aspect of their lives. By night, Lincoln, a lonely IT guy, spends his hours reading every exchange. Soon Lincoln is drawn into their lives, and finds himself falling for one of them. Lincoln decides it's time to muster the courage to follow his heart.

Review: wow, what a novel. I have been meaning to read this book for ages and I have no idea why I waited so long to do so, if only I had known what beauty lay within, and how quickly I would read this book I so would've been chomping at the bit to pick it up! 

This is such an interesting storyline, so simple and yet it could totally happen. The novel takes place over a relatively short timescale but the things that build up painstakingly slowly over the timescale are amazing. I felt so emotionally connected to the storyline and yet essentially what I was doing was, like Lincoln, reading other people's emails! 

The emails and interspersed with chapters featuring Lincoln and what is going on with him and I think there is the perfect balance between the email exchanges and the times when Lincoln is chatting in real life or actually in his own headspace. There are great characters in this novel. Lincoln is clearly completely obsessive, obsessive about learning, obsessive about his job  and obsessive over on girl in particular. It's a easy trap to fall into and it's fairly obvious that this is just his personality trait. I loved Beth, she was so straight taking with a dry sense of humour, she reminded me of my best friend. I didn't warm to Jennifer as much, but it was still interesting finding out what was going on in her life. 

This book didn't really have much of a setting outside of the office, they obviously go other places and 
Talk about other things but the fact that it is mainly set on a computer screen in an office doesn't make it any less of a book, you honestly don't notice that you are secretly snooping on other people's emails either! I laughed a lot and I couldn't put this book down, I think it would be fabulous for any audience and if you're looking for a quick read that will definitely stick with you, this is for you! 

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Guest post from Karen Booth

Today I'm lucky enough to be joined by the final authors from the love finds a way Boxset. Karen booth is stopping by to explain what her novel is all about and how it plays it part in the Boxset. Thanks to all the authors who've posted as part of this Boxset promo, it's been great having you!

Thanks for letting me stop by to talk about my book Bring Me Back, and the unbelievably fabulous box set it’s now a part of, called Love Finds a Way. When my fellow authors and I were finding the unifying theme to our set, we decided on “unconventional love stories”What makes Bring Me Back unconventional? There are several things, but the one I’d like to talk about is…dun dun dun…the “mature” heroine.

Claire Abby, the heroine in Bring Me Back, is on the brink of forty. This did not seem like a big deal when I was writing the book, which is about Claire meeting and falling in love with Christopher Penman, the British rock star she was obsessed with in high school, only twenty years later. As soon as the book was released, I quickly saw that readerscared about Claire’s age. A lot. Either they are as long in the tooth as she is, and readily identify with her or they are younger and find themselves still able to relate, but are surprised by this.

Mature. My brain sputters at the word. I’m forty-five. If Claire is mature, I’m…egad! I like to think I’m a young forty-five. As far as my brain is concerned, I’m still seventeen, just as goofy and distracted by cute boys and shiny objects as I was back then. Sure, I have kids and attend the occasional PTA meeting and am responsible enough to change the fridge filter every three months and not allow the laundry to pile up, but I don’t feel forty-five. Not that I even know what that would actually feel like. I only know that I don’t feel old.

I started to write Bring Me Backwhich was the first novel I wrote, soon after I’d turned forty-one. A friend had given me a magazine for women over forty, a gift I partly resented because my friend hadn’t yet passed the four-decade mark, but I read it anyway. Inside was an article featuring a quote that stuck with me: “Now that you’re forty, look at your life and ask yourself, are you taking off or are you coming in for a landing?” I know it’s a bit corny, the stuff of office motivational posters, but it resonated with me. Just because I was beyond forty didn’t mean that I couldn’t take on a brand new challenge and begin a new chapter in my life. I have energy and inspiration and the need to express myself. I’m not even close to being done. In fact, I’m just getting started.

That right there gives you a lot of background as to why I chose to make Claire thirty-nine. I also wanted her and Christopher to meet after he was beyond the glory years of his career. Considering the decades Christopher’s band spent topping the charts, this was a matter of math. They both had to be older.

Additionally, I knew from the start that Claire was a single mom and that her daughter Samantha was in her teens. That’s one of the biggest stressors in Claire’s life—it’s been just her and Samantha for years and now her daughter is a year away from college. It causes Claire to be overly protective from time to time, which forces her to really look at herself. She’s clinging to Samantha because the most important person in her life is stepping awayAdditionally, because Claire was preoccupied with Christopher at the age of seventeen, I liked mirroring this in Samantha. That’s life—things come full circlethe next generation repeats our mistakes, they have the same wants and desires.

Lastly, I wrote a book that I wanted to read. This is one of those things writers are supposed to do. It keeps you wrapped up in your own story. I wanted to see a woman my age go through the excitement and rush of new love, but on a pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming level. Certainly I couldn’t be the only woman who wanted to read such a story.We all want crazy love and hot sex, unbelievable passion and unconditional understanding. It doesn’t matter if we’re twenty-five or fifty. Add a fairy tale element with the adolescent crush you never quite managed to stop thinking about? Even better!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Silhouetted Book Covers 27/5/14

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!

Funnily enough, I was discussing my book choices with a friend the other day and she commented on how a lot of books I own have similar covers. This is because though, I like a cover that looks like this. Clearly there is a trend for having a silhouetted cover on a wash type background but it's all good! So here are my top ten silhouetted covers! 

1. Three Little Words by Jessica Thompson. This book is sitting on my shelf because of the awesome London skyline silhouette on the cover. 

2. the Geography of you and me by Jennifer E Smith. Another gorgeous London skyline! 

3. It Felt Like a Kiss by Sarra Manning, and another one, awesome book too! 

4. Gifted and Talented by Wendy Holden, I love the academic cover of this book and can't wait to see how it reads! 

5. How We Met by Katy Regan. I was lucky enough to have this book bought for me as a gift, I love the cover and and I loved the story! 

6. Written in The Stars by Ali Harris, how lovely is them cover of Ali's new book??

7. I know it's kind of cheating having two by the same author, but she does have some lovely cover art on her novels! 

8. Both books by Giovanna Fletcher have had gorgeous covers but this one just pips Billy and Me by having a pink sky! 

9. Fractured by Dani Atkins. I love the light green back ground on this one and can't wait to read it! 

10. My so Calle Afterlife by Tamsyn Murray. I think the covers in this series are lovely and feature more silhouettes of the London skyline-ace! Plus my copy is signed by the lovely author making it even more special! 

So there you have it. I could have listed loads more and I've not actually read all of these so that's very very cool that I've got some of these to look forward to I do enjoy having them looking lovely on my shelves though. What do you think of these covers? Do your books follow a particular look or trend? Do you think it's difficult when all books look kind of similar?

Happy reading! 

Friday 23 May 2014

Review: The Arcade Year 2: Surprises by Kitty Charles

April may be famed as the cruelest month but not in Angell's Arcade. Preparations are underway for the long awaited wedding of Eden Hart and Philip Neale and Eden's determined nothing is going to stand in the way of her happy ever after, not the bridegroom's unconventional dress sense and certainly not the menacing presence of Vladimir Ivazov.

But leaving the Russian off the guest list could be the worst thing the newlyweds could have done. Vlad is out for revenge and he doesn't care who gets hurt in the process... 

Review: aww what a lovely installment this was, it was weddings galore (well one anyway) in this months episode and it was just such a perfect wedding, of course there were surprise outfits and dance routines, this is the arcade after all, but they fitted in perfectly with the goings on in our favourite shopping centre this month. 

Again this was an episode that featured all the characters so you got to catch up with them all. This one also featured Joan fairly heavily, something which not all of the episodes do. I am so intrigued by this lady and so this was a real treat for me. It also features the newest member of the arcade family, Vlad and we get to know him a LOT better. 

Of course there was the usual level of drama in this episode, making me gasp out loud. It did also leave me wondering, however, how any of the arcade staff get anything done. They are so busy sorting out fights and plotting to overthrow the arcades latest owner, do they actually have time to serve any customers, do any customers want to be there as gorgeous Jason (my favourite book boyfriend) patrols the aisles with his gun at the ready and a baby on his hip? I do worry what will become of the residents of the arcade but I can't wait to find out in next months episode! 

Remember you can catch up on what happened in last years arcade by reading Where Dreams Come True, and there are four instalments from this year to catch up on, all of them fabulously featuring all your favourite arcade characters! 

Thursday 22 May 2014

Winner of Snow White Giveaway

Ok so there weren't many entrants but I think it was a fun way to do a giveaway this time and I loved reading all of the entries.

Sorry for the delay in posting this winner but life kind of got in the way this week.

So without further ado, the winners of their very own chilling copy of the twisted Snow White are...





I loved the ideas for your fairytale twists so get in touch with your emails and I'll get a copy of the book sent out to you! 

Thanks to everyone who entered! 

Review: Thirteen Weddings by Paige Toon

Last year, Bronte left Sydney for a wedding in England, where she met newly single Alex. After a night of passion they parted ways, and Bronte returned to Australia.

Now working on a picture desk for a magazine in London, Bronte is about to meet her new colleague, who turns out to be all too familiar. Although awkward at first, as Alex is now engaged to the girl he was on a break from when they met, they soon become friends.

But as the two get closer, and the wedding day looms, it is clear that Alex and Bronte have unfinished business

Review: I was very excited about reading this book. I love it when a book comes out by an author I know I like and try and make time to read it straight away. This book got off to a great start for me. I find it easiest to get into a book when you are dumped straight in the action, getting to know the characters as you go along. This was definitely the case in this book and I loved the idea of starting off with a hen party coinciding with a stag party and two characters meeting that way. The rest of the story line was really good too but began to slow for me, towards the middle of the book. Thankfully there was a really long epilogue which wrapped everything up nicely, which again is something that I love. I thought the idea of someone going through life photographing weddings was fab and adds to my assurance that Paige Toon does escapism better than anyone else in her novels, but it just felt a little slow for my personal reading taste. This is not something that has happened to me with a Paige Toon novel before, let me reassure you!

I thought the characters in this novel were really interesting and the mix of personalities was just great, you couldn't get a more random bunch if you tried. I liked this though, because it is indicative of friendships that I have and those friendship groups that I see around me! Bronte was a great protagonist, if a little indecisive. If she had been more decisive, however, a lot of stuff in the book wouldn't have been able to happen. She was very brave to give up everything for a job in the UK and throw herself into the wedding industry too, that way that she did. I loved the two male leads in this book, but definitely favoured one over the other because of his free spirit and unconditional ability to love!

There was an interesting storyline involving alcoholism and another involving closeted homosexuals among the clergy which i thought were unique choices for a novel like this. I'm no sure that they fitted with with Thirteen Weddings persona but it was refreshing to have these issues dealt with with such honesty by an author who normally covers slightly lighter topics. Overall I did enjoy this novel, i just didn't get as much of the usual Paige Toon sparkle that i normally get from these books. Nevertheless, I will definitely be counting this up there with the others and it would make a super summer read whether you're lying on a beach or sitting in your own back garden!

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Bout of Books 10 Wrap Up

Well I didn't do tooooo badly in this readathon considering the fact that life was pretty manic (more than usual) that week!

I finished off a couple of reads, started another couple and managed to read 3 entire books.

The first book I finished was One Moment One Morning by Sarah Rayner. I loved this and read 200 pages to finish it.

I also finished attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I read this with Sam from Sam's Book Corner and read 160 pages to finish this during the readathon.

The other book I part-read was Last Bus To Coffeeville by J Paul Henderson. I read  140 pages of this and will finish it next week!

I read Thirteen Weddings by Paige Toon. I read this in it's entirety, a total of 400 pages.

I also listened to the audiobook of The Last Little Blue Envelope. I'd been wanting to read this since reading the first in this series and so being able to read it during the readathon was useful. This totalled 282 pages.

And finally, I completed a re-read of Forever by Judy Blume. This was part of my Re-read May challenge and was definitely interesting to do! This was 178 pages. 

My total for the week then, was 1352 pages. This total is pretty disappointing but I struggled with some of the books that I picked. If I'd enjoyed them all as much as the first 2, I'd have read much more. Not a bad total overall then!

What did you read this week? What SHOULD I have been reading?

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Guest Post From Karen Stivali

Another fab guest post from one of the Love Finds A Way Boxset I featured a couple of weeks ago now... This time you lucky readers can also read an excerpt from Karen's book: Meant To Be! 

LOVE FINDS A WAY is a very fitting title for this boxed set of unconventional love stories. Every book in this collection explores the path to love for its characters and, as in real life, that path isn’t always smooth. There are more than a few bumps and twists and roadblocks in the way, but in the end, love finds a way. We’re all just lucky enough to go along for the journey.
MEANT TO BE is a story that lived in my imagination for over eight years before I wrote the first words. Once I started writing it, the whole story just poured out and even when Meant To Be “ended” I knew I wasn’t done with the characters, so I wrote the sequel, HOLDING ON.
The premise for Meant To Be comes from the saying that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I was thinking about that and realized that, while it’s true, you never know who’s there for which purpose. People who you expect to have in your life forever can wind up being there only a short time while others, who you may have thought were only temporary—a neighbor or co-worker---can wind up becoming the most important people in your world. When Daniel and Marienne meet they have no idea the impact they’ll have on one another. That’s what fascinated me about their story. They didn’t know it, but they were meant to be.
I’ve written multiple contemporary and erotic romance novels over the years. All of my stories, regardless of genre, are love stories. Most of them, including Meant To Be, are friends to lovers stories. It’s my favorite trope to write. I love exploring the change in dynamics as friends become something more. In the case of Daniel and Marienne, their friendship is unique and special all on its own. Theirs is an unconventional path to love because they have so many obstacles along the way and because they’re both unwilling to do anything to risk compromising the friendship they’ve grown to depend on. That just makes the pay off that much more sweet when they finally decide to take a chance on love.
Here’s the official blurb and a tiny excerpt so you can meet Daniel and Marienne…
Sometimes you’re already committed to the wrong person when fate finally brings you the right one.
When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead of domestic bliss he finds his neighbor, Marienne Valeti. She loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies sparks a powerful bond between them. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, surrendering only in the seclusion of their minds. Their friendship helps them weather every hardship, from divorce to widowhood, leaving them both secretly wondering if it can survive a first kiss.

Teaser excerpt:
Marienne watched as Daniel grabbed a bottle of Coke out of her fridge.
He unscrewed the cap and took a drink. “It’s quite difficult to understand American slang when English isn’t your native tongue.”
He continued speaking but Marienne’s mind was caught on the words native tongue. Or, more specifically, tongue. More precisely still, Daniel’s tongue. She’d always loved the sound of his voice, the expressiveness of his choice of words, but sometimes she just enjoyed watching his mouth. This was one of those times. She studied his tongue as it moved to form his words, as it licked his lips when he paused to think, as it pressed against the Coke bottle when he drank. Heat prickled through her.
Is it hot in here or is it him? She was unable to focus on the thought as once again she was mesmerized. Now it was curved upward, pressing against the back of his top teeth as he looked at her, eyes narrowed.
“Are you alright?” he asked. The concern in his voice caught her attention as did the puzzled look on his face.
“What?” She no longer remembered what they’d been discussing.
“You’re not listening to a word I say, and that’s not like you. I’ve been speaking total gibberish and you didn’t even react. Are you okay? You’re all flushed.”
She tried to think of a way to explain to her best friend that she’d been too busy obsessing to concentrate. He’s divorced. Frank’s gone. Maybe I should. Her heart galloped.
He leaned over and felt her forehead. She held her breath, dizzy from his touch. She wanted to scoot forward and kiss him, hard, on the lips, but didn’t dare to move. Thoughts of the kiss, and his tongue, flashed through her mind.
“You’re really warm.” His hand trailed to her cheek, flipping over so he could assess her with the back of his fingers. They felt cool and silky along the contours of her face and she pressed against them.
His brow furrowed. “You’ve got a fever.”
What? Her hand flew to her forehead. “Shit,” she said, as even she could feel the burning warmth.
He grabbed a glass from her cupboard and held it beneath the ice dispenser. The crystal chunks tumbled into it. “You must have finally caught whatever Ella had last weekend.” He filled it with water and handed it to her.
“Oh, God. You’re right.” Ella had come home sick from preschool three days ago and that was the standard grace period Marienne usually got before catching things from her daughter. She rested her head on the kitchen table.
Daniel smiled at Marienne’s whining; she was acting like Ella.
“Drink your water.” He opened another cabinet and reached for the Tylenol. He shook out two and returned the bottle to the top shelf.
“Here.” He rubbed his knuckles against the top of her hand. “Take these.”
She groaned.
“Take them.” He nudged a second time. Heat radiated from her skin. Enticing. Alluring. He shuddered, trying to shake the thoughts from his mind. “Come on now, be a good girl.”
She sat up and scowled. He smiled and dropped the tablets into her upturned hand. The backs of his fingers grazed her palm and a tingling flush rippled through him.
She stared at him, eyes defiant, then popped the pills into her mouth and took a sip of water. She flipped her head back and swallowed hard, an action that caused Daniel to gulp as well. He wanted nothing more than to swoop down and kiss her with total abandon, to feel her overheated body, to be immersed inside her.
He said the only words he could think: “Let’s get you up to bed.”

Author Info for Karen Stivali:
Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies and fictional British men. She is a multiple award winning author of contemporary and erotic romances for Ellora's Cave, Turquoise Morning Press and Samhain Publishing.