Monday, 15 December 2014

Book Review - A Season to Remember by Shelia O'Flanagan

A Season to Remember
A Season to Remember by Shelia O'Flanagan
Published: 27th October 2011
Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 372
Available in Hardback, Paperback and on Kindle
In this collection of interlinked short stories Sheila O'Flanagan brings her own trademark sparkle to Christmas - a time when friends, families and lovers traditionally come together and when every person is hoping their wishes will come true.
Firstly I would like to thank bookbridgr and Headline Review for sending me a copy to review, it’s been a long time since I read a novel by Shelia O’Flanagan and it was a pleasure to read something by her again.  Unlike her other books A Season to Remember is a collection of short stories all linked because they take place at The Sugar Loaf Lodge. I didn’t realise this initially and was worried I wouldn’t enjoy this book as much because of it, but I’m pleased to say it was a joy to read and definitely put me in a festive mood.
The Sugar Loaf Lodge is run by Neil and Claire Archer, who have turned it from derelict old house with a tragic past into a luxury boutique hotel, which I would love to visit myself one day! The book begins by introducing us to Neil and Clare and we learn that they are having financial difficulties and have hardly any bookings for over Christmas. They’ve just rejected a deal to sell the hotel to a large company, financially this was maybe not the best decision but they both feel a connection to the hotel, Claire especially. Somehow the Sugar Loaf becomes fully booked for Christmas and they begin to welcome their guests for the season.
Each of the rooms in the hotel are named after Irish mountains and so are the chapter titles, in each chapter we meet the room occupants and learn  their background story and find out how they ended up at the Sugar Loaf Lodge for Christmas. I really liked this and was surprised how much background details we learn about these characters in such a short amount of time, they felt like we’d known them for much longer than a few pages.  Not all of their stories are happy ones but I loved the way that while at the Sugar Loaf they all seemed to let their worries melt away and enjoyed themselves.
The Sugar Loaf Lodge for me was the perfect place to set a Christmas story, the place just oozes luxury with its first class restaurant and award winning spa. Set at the foot of the mountains in lovely grounds it makes the perfect place to spend Christmas, I mean who can resist roaring log fires at Christmas?
Louisa’s story was my favourite as it gave the Lodge some history and helped to bring the whole book together as you could begin to see how Claire felt such a connection to the place and why the guests felt so spoilt. I also liked the way the last couple of stories tied many of the characters together as they celebrated Christmas Day together, this for me made this book better the a short story collection. I would love for Shelia O’Flanagan to write more about some of these characters as I’d love to know what happens next to them.
If you are looking for a feel good Christmas read then I can highly recommend this book, it highlights the fact we don’t always get on with our families but at Christmas we try our best to compromise and come together to make the best of what we have. It has left me with a lovely warm Christmassy glow and a longing to go to The Sugar Loaf Lodge myself someday.
Rating 4/5

Friday, 5 December 2014

Book Review - A New York Christmas by Anne Perry

A New York Christmas (Christmas Stories, #12)
A New York Christmas by Anne Perry
Released: 23rd October 2014
Publisher: Headline
Pages: 154
Available in Hardback and on Kindle
December, 1904. Jemima Pitt, now twenty-two, agrees to act as a “suitable companion” to her friend Delphinia, who is traveling to New York to be married to Brent Albright, toast of New York high society. Jemima is excited about the prospect of a Christmas adventure in a strange big city, but little does she expect to be enlisted on a top secret mission by Brent’s brother Harley, to track down Delphinia’s estranged mother. After some detective work and a little luck, they manage to locate her lodgings—but to their horror, they find Maria dead. Truly her parents’ daughter, Jemima is determined to unmask the killer, and enlists the aid of handsome young police officer Patrick Flannery to do it. And along the way she comes to learn an important lesson about staying true to oneself, no matter the cost. Once again, as only she can, Perry delivers a darkly suspenseful, ultimately heart-warming novel that truly captures the essence of the holiday spirit.
Jemima Pitt, I’m assuming the daughter of Inspector Pitt in one of Perry’s others series’ is heading to New York to accompany her wealthy young friend Delphinia Cardew to New York to marry into the Albright family, who are the cream of New York society. On arrival Jemima finds herself mixed up in the murder of Maria, a women believed to be Delphinia’s estranged mother. Jemima must use all her detective skills picked up from her father to help her out of trouble.
I really wanted to enjoy this story more than the previous Anne Perry novel which I read, but sadly I did not. I found the characters weak and the plotline bordering on ridiculous. The first thing that bothered me was that Jemima at twenty-three is considered past-it and only useful as a chaperone to nineteen year old Phinnie. Jemima herself came across very easily led, all Harley Albright had to do was smile at her and she followed him round New York on a silly quest, later on in the story she meets Patrick Flannery again who again pays her a little attention and she’s smitten, which made her seem a little desperate. I found Phinnie to be an incredibly annoying character; she was so smug about her fancy wedding, if I was Jemima I would have smacked her.
There was no mystery around the murder, it was obvious who has done it and why and I really couldn’t understand why Jemima was unable to see what was right in front of her nose. It lacked any kind a depth which makes a good crime novel. As for this being a Christmas novella, well the only link to Christmas throughout the whole book is the fact that New York is covered in snow, a very weak link to Christmas.
I’m glad that this was a short novella as it only took me an hour to read, any longer and I think I would have given up. I know Anne Perry has a huge following and has written a great number of books but they are not for me. I would like to thank bookbridgr for sending me a copy to review; sadly I can only give this book 1/5.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Release Day Round Up #13

This week there are five books which have been released which have taken my interest:

You Think You Know Me
You Think You Know Me by Clare Chase
Released: 3rd December 2014
Publisher: Choc Lit Uk
Available on Kindle
Sometimes, it’s not easy to tell the good guys from the bad …

Freelance journalist, Anna Morris, is struggling to make a name for herself, so she’s delighted to attend a launch event for a hip, young artist at her friend Seb’s gallery.

But an exclusive interview isn’t all Anna comes away with. After an encounter with the enigmatic Darrick Farron, she is flung into the shady underground of the art scene – a world of underhand dealings, missing paintings and mysterious deaths …

Seb is intent on convincing Anna that Darrick is up to no good but, try as she might, she can’t seem to keep away from him. And as she becomes further embroiled, Anna begins to wonder – is Seb’s behaviour the well-intentioned concern of an old friend, or does he have something to hide?
I am lucky enough to have a review copy of this sent from Choc Lit UK, I've only read a few chapters but so far it seems really good, look out for my review next week.
I’ll Take New York
I'll Take New York by Miranda Dickinson
Released: 4th December 2014
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 416
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
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.
I haven't read many Miranda Dickinson novels but I don't think I can resist the cover of this one with it gold highlights, plus it seems a like a good plot line.

The Snow Angel by Lulu Taylor
Released: 4th December 2014
Publisher: Pan
Pages: 400
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Order now from Amazon
A forbidden passion. A lifetime of consequences.

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?
Lulu Taylor is one of my favourite authors and anything she writes will definitely end up on my bookshelf. I have a copy of this one on its way to me, so keep an eye out for my review in the next few weeks.

A Christmas Feast and other stories

A Christmas Feast by Katie Fforde
Released: 4th December 2014
Publisher: Arrow
Pages: 240
Available in Paperback and on Kindle

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...
I have a review copy of this to read and I'm really looking forward to grabbing a few moments here and there the read a story all in one go. Look out for my review soon.

Red Rose, White Rose
Red Rose, White Rose by Joanna Hickson
Released: 4th December 2014
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 400
Available in paperback and on Kindle

Richard, the thirteen-year-old Duke of York, England’s richest heir.
Told through the eyes of Cicely and her half-brother Cuthbert, Red Rose, White Rose is the story of one of the most powerful women in England during one of its most turbulent periods. Born of Lancaster and married to York, the willowy and wayward Cicely treads a hazardous path through love, loss and imprisonment and between the violent factions of Lancaster and York, as the Wars of the Roses tear England’s ruling families apart.
So nearly queen herself, Cicely Neville was the mother, grandmother and great-grandmother of kings – and her descendants still wear the crown.
I haven't read an historical fiction in ages, so when I came across this book it seemed perfect. I've not read anything by this author before and very little about the Neville family, so looking forward to getting a chance to read this sometime.
This will be my last Release Day Round for 2014. I hope you have enjoyed taking a look at my favourite releases and have found some interesting books to add to your tbr piles. I will be back on January 1st with the first Release Day Round Up of 2015.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Book Review - A Christmas Hope by Anne Perry

A Christmas Hope
A Christmas Hope (Christmas Novellas #11) by Anne Perry
Published: October 23rd 2014 (Paperback)
Publisher: Headline
Pages: 165
Available in Hardback, Paperback and on Kindle
London, 1868. As the Christmas season begins, Claudine Burroughs feels little joy in its endless social calls and extravagant events. Working at a clinic for desperate women has opened her eyes to a different world.

Then her two worlds collide. A prostitute smuggled into a grandiose Christmas party is found brutally beaten. Poet Dai Tregarron stands accused. But Dai insists he was trying to protect her from the violence of three young men. Claudine believes him, but with society closing ranks against him, how can she prove his innocence without risking everything?

This was my first experience with an Anne Perry Christmas novella and I found it to be a gritty look at Victorian England. The blurb sounded intriguing and I was hoping for a mystery set among the grandeur of a Victorian Christmas, instead I got a slightly depressing look at the morals of the Victorian upper classes, done in a way which I found slightly repetitive.
Claudine Burroughs is an outsider in her social circle and spends much of her time helping less fortunate women in a clinic. I wanted to feel something kind of empathy for her as she’s not happy in her marriage to her husband who clearly doesn’t love her but she just came across as a rather dull character.
There is no real mystery to the story as it’s obvious to the reader what happened to the poor young woman. This is more a story of Claudine trying to find a way to convince people to do the right thing and not let their social standing impact on their actions. It gives a very bleak view of the concept of marriage in Victorian England; love is not a factor often considered it seems, this for me made a quite bleak story. I’m someone who loves a little romance in a book, especially at Christmas.
If you are a fan of stories set in Victorian times you will probably enjoy the bleak realism this book portrays, for me it lacked depth in the mystery and was missing a little Christmas spirit.
Thank you to bookridgr for sending me a copy to review. Rating 2/5

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they create a new bookish top ten list, this week it is books we're looking forward to reading in 2015. This has been the easiest list for me to create in sometime as there are loads of books looking good for next year, so here's my top ten:
I am a huge Milly Johnson fan and have been waiting for this ever since I saw it pop up on Amazon. There's no cover picture yet but I'm sure it will be as lovely as all the others.
 The Woman Who Fell in Love for a Week
2. The Women Who Fell in Love for a Week by Fiona Walker, released 8th January 2015 in hardback
Again another author who I love and am always eagerly awaiting the next book from. They always end up making me feel really good.
Second Life
3. Second Life by SJ Watson, released 12th February 2015
Before I Go To Sleep was a brilliant debut and his second book sounds as if it will be just as good, if not better. Definitely one which will be one my pre-order list for next year.
4. Creature Comforts by Trisha Ashley, released 18th June 2015
Another favourite author who's books always make me smile. How cute is the name Halfhidden for a village name?
The Cake Shop In The Garden
5. The Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews, released 18th January 2015
I am determined in 2015 to read all the books in Carole's back catalogue that I haven't read and as there are 25 in total I have a few to go at. This is her newest one and the cover looks yummy!
6. The Dandelion Years by Erica James, released 26th February 2015
Erica James has a real talent for creating likable characters in a plotline which always has a little bit of mystery and I love reading her books. As this is set in a big country house I'm sure I will love it.
7. Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond, released 4th June 2015
Lucy Diamond is a recent discovery for me but I love the books of hers that I have read. This will be her second book to be released next year. I already have a proof copy of her first The Year of Taking Chances and I'm excited to start reading it straight after Christmas.
8. A Vintage Wedding by Katie Fforde, released 12th February 2015
I have a dream of one day having my own vintage style wedding so I can't wait to read this book to maybe pick up a few ideas.
The Life I Left Behind
9. The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth, released 1st January 2015
This is Colette's second novel and looks like it has a really intriguing plot which I can't wait to read, not long till release day.
10. One Small Act of Kindness by Lucy Dillon, released 24th April 2015
I love Lucy's books, they have a lovely magical quality to them which makes for a great read, cannot wait for this one to be released.
So that's my list of books I'm most looking forward to in 2015, I'm sure there will be many more books that I will add to this list as the year gets under way. What are you most looking forward to reading next year? Take a look at other people's lists here.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Book Review - Bewitched,Bothered and Bewildered

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered by Kerry Barrett
Published: 31st October 2013
Publisher: Carina UK
Available on Kindle
Part-time witch, full-time glamorous high-flyer Esme Mcleod rubs shoulders with celebrities for a living, has a sort-of-boyfriend …and just enough magic in her fingertips to solve life’s little irritations; why shouldn’t she cast a little spell to catch the busy barman’s attention, or to summon a latte to aid her all-nighters?

Called back to her small Scottish home town and meddling family, stiletto-clad Esme is way out of her comfort zone… But Esme must embrace her abilities as a witch, or watch her family lose their beloved café.

Except Esme has never claimed to be a whizz at witchcraft, and her charms are starting to go awry - she certainly never meant to cast a love spell on her ex-boyfriend Jamie! It’s time for urgent lessons in magic as well as love – it seems there’s only so much that muttering a few words over cupcake batter will fix…
I was kindly sent the third book in the Could It Be Magic series by Kerry Barrett to review, having not read the first two I decided to start at the beginning of the story with Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered as it sounded like a series I would love.
Esme Mcleod is a witch who works as a family lawyer in London. She has been away from from her family up in Scotland since she was a teenager. She had a disagreement with her mother over the use of magic, which Esme is not a fan of, except for when that coffee cup just needs to come a bit nearer or the barman aren’t looking her way. Her family practise magic on a daily basis in their café, helping people whether they ask for it or not.  When her cousin Harry (Harmony) asks her to come home and her run the family business as her Aunt Suky is ill with cancer Esme has no choice but to return to the home she fled from years earlier.  Esme soon realises it’s not just Suky’s illness which is making the café business suffer and the only way she can help her family is to put her magic skills to good use.
I really liked the main character Esme; I loved the way that she defended her family from outsiders even though she didn’t completely agree with what they were up to herself. She also had a way of getting into scrapes with her magic which were quite funny, such as turning one of the villagers into a frog. My favourite scenes with Esme were when she got drunk in the pub with her old friend Chloe and tried to convince her old boyfriend to date the much younger barmaid, really funny!
This is a story filled with heart-warming characters full of family loyalty, a little romance and some quite sad parts with Suky’s storyline. The story moves at a fairly fast pace and is sprinkled with magic and humour throughout which will leave you, like me wanting to find out what happen next for Esme and her family.
Rating 4/5

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (Wednesday) - My Winter TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the list is Top Ten Winter TBR list, I've focused my list on books which are due for release in Dec and January. So these are the books I'm most looking forward to reading this winter.
The Snow Angel by Lulu Taylor
I’ll Take New York
I'll Take New York by Miranda Dickinson
You Think You Know Me (Choc Lit)
You Think You Know Me by Clare Chase
Red Rose, White Rose
Red Rose, White Rose by Joanne Hickson
 The Year of Taking Chances
The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond
Three Amazing Things About You
Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell
The Silent Sister
The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
As Good As It Gets?
As Good As It Gets by Fiona Gibson
The Girl on the Train
The Girl On The Train
A Trick of the Mind
A Trick of the Mind by Penny Hancock
So what I'm most looking forward to reading this winter, after I've finished all my Christmas books that is, what are you most forward to this winter?

Monday, 24 November 2014

My 100th Post!!!

So after just over five months in blogging I have written 100 posts, I'm quite proud of this as I wasn't sure blogging was really for me after two previous failed attempts, but this time I've found something which I want to write about and that's BOOKS!!!

I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has visited my site over the past five months and I hope you found something which makes you want to come back. Also thank you to everyone who has lefts comments, I know I have not always replied and for that I am sorry and hopefully going forwards this is something I will get better at.

I also want to say thank you to all the publishers and authors who have been kind enough to send me copies of their books to review. Nothing makes me happy than receiving a new book through the post or that email that says you've been granted access to that book your longing to read on Net Galley. I just wish there were more hours in the day so I can read all these fantastic books quicker!

I hope to continue blogging, although please don't worry if I suddenly disappear sometime next year. I'm waiting for some surgery on my heart so may end up in hospital for a while, but I will definitely return and the thought of all the lovely books I can take with me is making me not dread hospital quite so much.

Best Wishes

Joanne xx

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Release Day Round-Up #12

This week there are four books which have caught my eye and are due for release.

Stable Mates
Stable Mates by Zara Stoneley
Published: 20th November 2014 (Paperback Copy)
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Pages: 336
Available on Kindle and now Paperbck
Welcome to tranquil Tippermere, an idyllic village nestled deep in the Cheshire countryside. Home to lords and ladies, horsemen and farmers, and plenty of secrets and scandals…

Leaving a scumbag ex behind her, Lottie Brinkley has hotfooted it out of Spain and back home to the country in serious need of some flirtatious fun to soothe her aching heart.

Luckily for her she’s spoilt for choice with not one but three eligible bachelors offering a steamy romp in the hay! But faced with the attentions of roguish eventer Rory Steel, the smiling Irish eyes of hunky farrier Mick O’Neal, and mysterious newcomer Tom Strachan, how can she possibly choose?

When billionaire landowner Marcus James drops dead unexpectedly, his WAGish wife Amanda threatens to sell the heart of the village and sets her sights on Tom! It seems things are heating up for little Tippermere… both in and out of the saddle.
I reviewed this back in August when the e-book version came out and I will be purchasing a paperback copy for myself as I know its going to be one of those books I re-read often, I'm already starting to miss Lottie and the gang so hopefully over Christmas I'll get chance to have a re-read. This book is also special too me as it was the very first book I was accepted to read on NetGalley and made my blogging adventure a little more real. Check out my full review here. I definitely recommend this to anyone and I cannot wait for a follow to hit the shelves...hopefully soon.
Waiting for Doggo
Waiting for Doggo by Mark B. Mills
Published: 20th November 2014
Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 224
Available in Hardback and on Kindle
No-one ever called Dan a pushover. But then no-one ever called him fast-track either. He likes driving slowly, playing Sudoku on his iPhone, swapping one scruffy jumper for another. He's been with Clara for four years and he's been perfectly happy; but now she's left him, leaving nothing but a long letter filled with incriminations and a small, white, almost hairless dog, named Doggo. So now Dan is single, a man without any kind of partner whether working or in love. He's just one reluctant dog owner. Find a new home for him, that's the plan. Come on...everyone knows the old adage about the best laid plans and besides, Doggo is one special kind of a four legged friend...and an inspiration.
Think I was a bit slow on the uptake with this on as review copies seem to be floating round blogger land and I seemed to have missed the boat. When I went to see what the fuss was about I found a book which does like will be a winner. At least the wait for publication day is over and I can go buy myself a copy and judge for myself.
Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline
Published: 20th November 2014
Publisher: Headline
Pages: 368
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award winning author Lisa Scottoline is loved by millions of readers for her suspenseful novels about family and justice. Scottoline delivers once again with Keep Quiet, an emotionally gripping and complex story about one man’s split-second decision to protect his son - and the devastating consequences that follow.Jake Buckman’s relationship with his sixteen-year-old son Ryan is not an easy one, so at the urging of his loving wife, Pam, Jake goes alone to pick up Ryan at their suburban movie theater.  On the way home, Ryan asks to drive on a deserted road, and Jake sees it as a chance to make a connection. However, what starts as a father-son bonding opportunity instantly turns into a nightmare. Tragedy strikes, and with Ryan’s entire future hanging in the balance, Jake is forced to make a split-second decision that plunges them both into a world of guilt and lies. Without ever meaning to, Jake and Ryan find themselves living under the crushing weight of their secret, which threatens to tear their family to shreds and ruin them all. Powerful and dramatic, Keep Quiet will have readers and book clubs debating what it means to be a parent and how far you can, and should, go to protect those you love.
This one has a brilliant premise for a thriller and already has me questioning would I would do in similar circumstances. I have the on my to review pile so check back soon to see what I thought about it.
Mr Miracle
Mr Miracle by Debbie Macomber
Published: 20th November 2014
Publisher: Arrow
Pages: 272
 Available in Paperback and on Kindle
 Harry Mills is a guardian angel on a mission: help Addie Folsom to get her life back on track - and help her find love.

Creating a happy ending for Addie and her neighbour Erich doesn’t seem like much of a challenge. But soon after arriving in the town of Tacoma, Harry realises he might need some guidance. Addie and Erich can't stand each other; growing up he was popular and outgoing, while she was rebellious and headstrong. Addie would now rather avoid Erich entirely, especially at Christmas.

Harry is going to need all the help he can get, and a bit of divine inspiration, to help Addie and Erich find their Christmas miracle.
To me you can't have Christmas without Debbie Macomber, the majority of those Christmas movies we all love will usually be based on one of Debbie's novels. This one looks to be another one where people in need get that special Christmas miracle, I love them and can't wait to read this one.

Blog Tour Book Review - The List by Joanna Bolouri

Welcome to the second to last stop of the blog tour for The List by Joanna Bolouri, organised by Emma Louise in conjunction with Quercus. If you want to find out more out Emma Louise, check out her blog here.

The List
The List by Joanna Bolouri
Published: 10th April 2014 (first published 5th December 2013)
Publisher: Quercus
Pages: 400
Available in paperback and on kindle
Phoebe Henderson may be single but she sure doesn't feel fabulous. It's been a year since she found her boyfriend Alex in bed with another woman, and multiple cases of wine and extensive relationship analysis with best friend Lucy have done nothing to help. Faced with a new year but no new love, Phoebe concocts a different kind of resolution.

The List: ten things she's always wanted to do in bed but has never had the chance (or the courage!) to try. A bucket list for between the sheets. One year of pleasure, no strings attached. Simple, right?

Factor in meddlesome colleagues, friends with benefits, getting frisky al fresco and maybe, possibly, true love and Phoebe's got her work cut out for her.
The List has been a book which has been on my radar to pick up since it first came out, so when Emma Louise organised this tour I took the opportunity to join in and finally read it and I’m so glad I did. The List is a hilarious book which talks honestly about sex and relationships in a way which is not too vulgar or sugary sweet.
It’s New Year’s Eve and Phoebe Henderson is nursing a broken heart after finding boyfriend Alex in bed with another woman. After numerous bottles of wine and relationship dissection with friend Lucy, Phoebe decides its time to find out what she really wants. So she sets herself a new resolution with a difference. Ten things she’s always wanted to experience in bed but hasn’t yet had the chance.  In order to complete her challenges Phoebe enlists the help of best friend Oliver for some no strings, sexual fun.  So begins Phoebe’s quest for sexual enlightenment, along the way she encounters a few obstacles and gets herself into a couple of compromising positions.  So does Phoebe complete her challenge? Well you’ll have to read the book and find out!
I was instantly drawn to Phoebe, she says exactly what comes into her head, even though at times she realises afterwards she could have worded things better and been a little less abrupt.  I loved her chats with Lucy, the way they were so honest about everything, including the sex and how good or bad it was. They talked like you would expect two friends to, nothing held back, anything goes, which made for some very funny conversations.  The thing I really liked about Phoebe was despite coming across as confident and sure of herself on the outside, on the inside she still had a vulnerability about her, with real insecurities about ending up all alone, which for me made her really endearing. She is a real heroine for women today, a woman who isn’t afraid to go out there and get what she wants, a woman who doesn’t care what she weighs, how much she drinks, or how much she swears…which is a LOT!
This book is written in a diary format from Phoebe’s point of view and I thought this worked extremely well.  The book is spread across the year and at 400 pages you would expect it to take a while to read, but you’ll get hooked on Joanna’s easy flowing writing style and be finished before you know it. I kept reading just a bit more as I wanted to find out how Phoebe’s next challenge would work out. Some challenges went fairly smoothly and some were more disastrous but they were all really FUNNY. Throughout her year Phoebe’s encounters a number of sexual partners and some of them are definitely more frog than prince.
Now I cannot write a review of this book without talking about the sex. The best word I have come up with to describe it is HONEST, sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad and sometimes it’s just downright funny. It is described in such a way that makes it believable. Yes there is a lot of it and yes it is fairly detailed in some parts, but not in a way that makes you throw the book across the room in disgust. It is written in a way that makes you curious, because let’s face it we’re all curious about having better sex whether we admit it or not. So whether you embark on your own LIST or just live through Phoebe just enjoy it!
As a debut novel I think Joanna Bolouri has done excellent job in providing us with an honest and hilarious look at sex and relationships and I cannot wait to read what she writes next. I’d love a follow on to find out what happens to Phoebe. I rate this book 5/5 as there is nothing I can think of which I didn’t really enjoy, if you are looking for a book to make you laugh then this is it.
I’d like to thank Emma Louise for organising this blog tour and also Quercus books for sending me a copy to review and lastly to thank Joanna for writing such a brilliant book. If you would like to find out more about the author then you can visit or follow her on twitter @scribbles78 where you can see just how funny this lady really is.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Book Review - The Great Christmas Knit-Off by Alexandra Brown

The Great Christmas Knit Off
The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown
Published: 6th November 2014
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 400
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century at work, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to the picturesque village of Tindledale.

There, Sybil discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, is struggling and now the shop is due for closure. And when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen…
Firstly I would like to thank Harper Collins for sending me a digital copy of The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown, I actually squealed when I saw this little beauty land on my kindle, for a fan of Christmas and all things crafty it’s perfect for me.  If any of you have read her Carrington’s series you will know that Alexandra has such a way of creating a magical heart-warming sense of community and characters that you just can’t help but adore her books.  With The Great Christmas Knit Off she has done it again, will an added bit of Christmas sparkle.
In The Great Christmas Knit Off we meet Sybil and she’s having a pretty rough year. First she was jilted at the alter by love rat Luke, who then ran off with twin sister Sasha. Then her mother keeps trying to set her up with the neighbour’s son, finally she makes a BIG mistake at work which has cost literally thousands. Exhausted and in need to somewhere to hide Sybil heads off to the small village of Tindledale, hidden deep in the countryside to visit her friend Cher. After a brief encounter with a dishy gentleman on the train Sybil arrives in Tindledale to discover snow and no taxis.  Eventually she arrives at the village pub to find to electricity, no room at the inn and no Cher.  After she’s given somewhere to stay by  B & B owner Lawrence, Sybil finds herself in Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, somewhere where she can indulge in her favourite past time KNITTING.  In Hettie, Sybil finds a kindered spirit and the pair pour their hearts out to each other over the click-clack of the knitting needles.  As Sybil begins to knit a Christmas jumper for Hettie, word of the knitting spreads round the village and one by one the villagers join Sybil and Hettie knitting and the Tindledale Tappers are born and soon they have an extra special project to complete.
I just adored all the characters in this book. Sybil is so lovely the way she wants to help Hettie get herself back on her feet after only just meeting her. She seems a little fragile when she first arrives in Tindledale but with Lawrence’s help she begins to blossom and feel complete herself, like she’s finally found where she belongs.  Lawrence, is just, well he reminded of a fairy-godmother for Sybil, giving her shelter and a shoulder to cry on when she needed someone to listen. I just loved him. Hettie reminded me  little of my grandma, the way the knitting just brought a smile to her face even though her heart was aching on the inside and I just wanted to give her a hug and make everything alright for her again.  The little budding romance between the adorable Dr Darcy and Sybil was so cute, I was just longing for them to find a little alone time to see if there was real chemistry between them. Other characters I liked were Ruby, Marigold and Taylor as they all added a little depth and more background to the story.
Tindledale sounds like the perfect place to live, everything is centred on village life and the community spirit in this places oozes off the pages. I really loved the little map at the beginning of the book as it really helped me picture this quaint little village in my mind.  My favourite place was Hettie’s House of Haberdashery as I love anything crafty and can imagine spending hours in here browsing and perhaps hoping someone will be able to finally teach me to knit if I stayed long enough!
This book is the perfect Christmas read is it brimming with everything Christmas described in a lovely whimsical, slightly old fashioned way and I adored it, another visit to Tindledale and its inhabitants cannot come quick enough.  Alexandra Brown has another winner with this book and the only downside to it is…I’ve finished it!!
Rating 5/5

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Release Day Round-Up #11

Just a mini post this week as there has only been three books which have caught my eye

Mistletoe Mansion
Mistletoe Mansion by Samantha Tonge
Published: 10th November 2014
Publisher: Carina UK
Pages: 384
Available on Kindle
Kimmy Jones has three loves: cupcakes, gossip magazines and dreaming of getting fit just by owning celeb workouts.
When Kimmy’s Sensible Boyfriend told her he didn’t approve of her longing for the high life or her dream of starting a cupcake company Kimmy thought she could compromise – after all, she did return those five-inch Paris Hilton heels! But asking her to trade in cake-making for a job sorting potatoes is a step too far.
I've already read and reviewed this and I loved it, its full of fun, celebrities and something a little bit spooky. Check out my full review here.
The Reluctant Elf
The Reluctant Elf by Michele Garman
Released: 13th November 2014
Publisher: Notting Hill Press
Pages: 132
Available in paperback and on Kindle
Meet Britain's Worst Innkeeper

Single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie, has five days to become the ultimate B&B hostess to save her beloved Aunt Kate’s livelihood.

When Aunt Kate ends up in the hospital, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter are called to rural Wales to stand in at the B&B. Without the faintest idea how to run a hotel (she can barely run her own life), Lottie must impress the picky hotel reviewer and his dysfunctional family who are coming to stay over Christmas. Without the rating only he can bestow, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood.

But will Danny, the local taxi driver who she hires to help her, really be Santa’s little helper, or the Grinch who stole Christmas?
This sounds like something I will just love, I love women who are undomesticated being thrown in at the deep end and finding out if they can cope, so this looks perfect. Just need to decide Kindle or paperback?
How the In-Laws Wrecked Christmas
How the In-Laws Wrecked Christmas by Fiona Gibson
Released: 13th November 2014
Publisher: Avon
Available on Kindle
A funny, festive short story from bestseller Fiona Gibson. Just the thing to curl up with on a cold winter night.

Christmas in the country. What could be better? All you need is one country house, one gorgeous boyfriend and a liberal dusting of snow. Right?

That’s what Anna thinks and she can’t wait for the festivities to start. But then she meets her gorgeous boyfriend’s awful parents. And their drunk friends. And she starts to hear all about a certain ex-wife. Suddenly this doesn’t look like a very merry Christmas after all…
 This looks so good and like it could be very funny, there is no reason for no one to not read this as its currently free on Amazon for Kindle, so get it while you can. So that's my three picks for this week, what's caught your eye this week?

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Book Review - Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson

Cold Feet at Christmas
Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson
Released: 6th November 2014
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Pages: 222
Available on Kindle
Running out on your wedding shouldn’t be this much fun!

A remote Scottish castle on a snowy Christmas Eve. A handsome husband-to-be. A dress to die for. It should have been the happiest day of Leah Harvey’s life – but the fairytale wedding turns sour when she finds her fiancé halfway up the bridesmaid’s skirt just hours before the ceremony!

Fleeing the scene in a blizzard, Leah ends up stranded at the nearest cottage, where she collapses into the arms of its inhabitant – a man so handsome she thinks she must have died and gone to heaven!

And when Rob Cavelli suddenly finds himself with an armful of soaking wet, freezing cold, and absolutely gorgeous bride on the run, he’s more than happy to welcome her into his snowbound cottage this Christmas…
I received a copy of this through Net Galley from Harper Impulse in exchange for an honest review.
 Cold Feet at Christmas has a lovely festive cover and a plot which sounded a whole bundle of fun and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Leah, the main character is having the worse Christmas Eve ever; she’s run away from her own wedding after catching groom Doug in the arms of her bridesmaid, the car she runs away in then breaks down in the middle of a snow drift. With no phone signal her only hope is walk across a snow filled field to the only light she can see.  So is it any wonder when she arrives at the cottage, bedraggled, worn out and soaking wet that when the door opens she falls straight into the arms of the extremely handsome Rob Cavelli.
Rob’s come to Scotland to escape Christmas and some demons from his past, the last thing he wants is to be disturbed but when he opens the door to a dishevelled but still beautiful Leah, something stirs in him and he can’t help but let her stay.  These two are instantly drawn to each other and it isn’t long at all before the temperature in the cottage rises and they end up in bed together.  So begins some very hot scenes as these two make the most of being snowed in at Christmas. Rob asks Leah to come back to Chicago with him and as she’s lost her husband to be, her home and her job she agrees.  Back on his home turf Rob decides he should maybe have left Leah back in Scotland as being around her is causing his emotions to go into overdrive and the guilt from his past flares up. As the two can’t handle their feelings and unable to just be friends, they start to have petty little arguments whenever they are around each other. Will they ever be able to admit their true feelings and live happily ever after?
After reading the first couple of chapters  I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this book as it just all seemed a bit ridiculous and over the top. How many people would jump into bed with a total stranger the day after their supposed wedding, not many I’m sure? I had a real issue with Leah just totally forgetting about Doug, okay he was a total idiot for sleeping with her bridesmaid but if I’d found my man messing about on our wedding day I would be DEVESTATED and probably uncontrollable with tears, not to mention angry, I would NOT jump into bed with next man I saw, no matter how hot he was.  I also had issues with Leah jumping on a plane and moving to a whole other country without telling anyone. I get that she doesn’t have much of a family but there must have been someone other than Doug who she cared about enough to talk to about leaving.
I wanted to hate Leah, but despite her man-eating tendencies and her extremely childish behaviour I couldn’t help but like her.  She seemed to always look on the bright side of things and nothing seemed to really bother her and I’m glad she was able to make a go of her life in Chicago. I didn’t like Rob, he might be gorgeous but I thought he was incredibly selfish taking Leah to Chicago as some kind of play thing and then abandoning her and being rude to her when her realised he actually had feelings for her, what a jerk! I really think his mother should have given him a good talking too and told him to grow up and stop letting his past guilt give him an excuse to be so arrogant.
I’m not exactly sure what this book has to do with Christmas, apart from the fact that Rob and Leah meet at on Christmas Eve there is nothing festive about it. No family togetherness, no forgiveness, no gift giving or anything related to Christmas, so if you looking for a book full of Christmas cheer this is not the book for you.  I think the title is very misleading, a better title might have been “Craziness in Chicago” because that about sums it up.
This book did make me laugh at the lengths Leah went to to try and get Rob to notice her.  Although I did have a number of issues with the plot and the characters I did still enjoy it.  If you are looking for a read which is light-hearted and you don’t want to take it too seriously then this could be the book for you, if you’re looking for your next Christmassy read then maybe not.
Rating 3/5