Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - New to Me Authors in 2015

Today I decided to join in with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, its being a long time since I complied a bookish Top Ten and felt this week's list was the perfect one to jump back in with: Top Ten New to Me Authors in 2015. Now at least half of what I've read this year has been new to me authors but I have found some real favourites who are now on my must-read list.
Silent Scream (D.I. Kim Stone, #1)  Evil Games (D.I. Kim Stone, #2) Lost Girls (D.I. Kim Stone, #3)

1. Angela Marsons: this woman's writing is superb and I've loved all three of her D.I. Stone novels that she has written this year and am looking forward to more in 2016

Three Amazing Things About You
2. Jill Mansell: I'm very sad to admit that I've never picked up a Jill Mansell novel before despite being a huge chick-lit reader. Three Amazing Things About You changed that, it was just amazing in every way and has opened up a whole new love. Luckily for me Jill has written quite a few novels so I've plenty more gems to discover in her back catalogue.

The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance
3. Kirsty Greenwood: The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance was just brilliant and the main character Jess Beam just had me laughing all the way through. I have Yours Truly her first novel on my tbr pile so hopefully it won't be sat there too long.

The Tea Planter's Wife
4. Dinah Jefferies: The Tea Planter's Wife was such a beautifully written novel and I loved how the story unfolded. I'm so looking forward to her next read The Merchant's Daughter which is out in February.

The Waiting Game
5. Jessica Thompson: The Waiting Game was beautiful, such a heart-breaking novel. Will pick up another book by her when I want an emotional read.

Christmas Ever After
6. Sarah Morgan: I've just finished reading Christmas Ever After and I adored it, love the characters, the setting, the plot, everything was perfect. I need to read more from this lady very soon.

Secrets of the Tower
7. Debbie Rix : The Secrets of the Tower was a ready good read with a dual narrative full of mystery and romance. I really hope this lady writes more in the future.

A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother Misadventures of a Playground Mother
8. Christie Barlow: I read both of Christie's novels back to back in September and enjoyed the comedy in both of them. Looking forward to her new novel Kitty's Countryside Dream which is out in February

What Would Mary Berry Do?
9. Claire Sandy: Loved What Would Mary Berry Do? and am hoping to read her other two novels before too long.

A Proper Family Holiday
10. Chrissie Manby: I've just finished the first Proper Family book and am eager to start the next one as this family just captured my heart. Will enjoy going back and reading her previous novels next year.

So that's my list, are any of these favourites of yours? Pop over to The Broke and the Bookish and have a look at other people's lists.

Joanne x

Monday, 7 December 2015

The Girls from See Saw Lane by Sandy Taylor

The Girls from See Saw Lane: A novel of friendship, love and tragedy in 1960s Brighton (Brighton Girls Trilogy Book #1))

Published: 4th December 2015
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 350
Available in Paperback and on Kindle

Brighton 1963. Mary Pickles and I walked along the street with our arms linked, looking in shop windows. We were best friends and together we were invincible.

Dottie and Mary forged a friendship over a bag of penny sweets when they were eight years old. They’ve shared everything together since then – the highs and lows of school, family dramas, hopes and dreams and now, at seventeen, they’re both shop girls, working at Woolworths.

As they go out in the world in pursuit of love and happiness, the simplicity of their childhood dissolves as life becomes more complicated. The heady excitement of first love will consume them both, but the pain of unintentional betrayal will test their friendship in ways neither of them could ever imagine…

A charming, heart-
breaking and ultimately uplifting novel which brings a bygone era vividly to life.

The Girls of See Saw Lane by Sandy Taylor tells the tale of Dottie and Mary, who’ve been best friends since age seven when Mary moved onto See Saw Lane. This is a tale of friendship, betrayal, romance, growing up and tragedy, it’s a story which seems so ordinary yet it is so well written that it will totally absorb you and capture your heart.
Both main characters Dottie and Mary are very likeable and although very different they have the kind of close friendship many of can be envious of. Mary is a dreamer and artistic and she longs to travel the world and attend art school in Paris. She infatuated with bad boy Elton and longs for him to whisk her away from Brighton. Dottie is the more sensible one, she enjoys her job at “Woolies” and all she really wants in life is to get married and have her own family, but she’s happy to follow along with Mary and her dreams.
When their friendship suffers the ultimate betrayal can they survive? Can one girl get over the betrayal and forgive her friend or can she move on and make a life on her own? What does the future hold for these two girls?
I loved the descriptions of life for the girls in 1960s Brighton, their work in “Woolies” where they encounter the latest make-up, to the record shop where they listened to their latest rock and roll heroes, to the chips the bought on the pier. It really made me feel like I was there with them experiencing everything.
I loved this novel so much, even though it’s probably the most heart-breaking story I’ve read all year. It left me sad but in a good way and I’m eager to read the next book “Counting Chimneys” to see what happens next.
I’d like to thank Bookouture and Netgalley for the review copy and rate this heart-breaking and beautifully written novel 5/5.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Bella's Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson

Bella's Christmas Bake Off

Published: 22nd October 2015
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 314
Available in Paperback and on Kindle

Two best friends. One big lie. The best bake off EVER. Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking - a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter 'Silver Fox' Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials. But this year things are going to be different. For Amy Lane, Bella's best friend from school, life hasn't held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy's husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever. Amy has watched Bella's rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella's latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy's mother's recipes, the gloves are off... After winning a competition to appear on Bella's TV show, Amy is going to make sure that for Bella and her viewers, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember... A hilarious, heart-breaking and feel good read about best friends, baking and the magic of Christmas.

After devouring Sue’s last Christmas book I was eager to read her next one and Bella’s Christmas Bake Off has all the ingredients for a perfect Christmas read for me. It was full of laugh out loud moments, entertaining characters, madcap plotlines all topped off with a sprinkling of glitz and glamour.
Amy Lane has just been left by her husband of twenty years for a younger, more flexible woman just weeks before Christmas. She’s gutted as she loves Christmas with all its trimmings and all the extra baking. In order to sooth her broken heart Amy switches on to watch her former childhood friend Bella Bradley serve up the perfect Christmas on her television show Bella’s Christmas Bake-Off. As she watches Amy notices that Bella is using recipes that Amy is very familiar with…because they were her mum’s.
In her anger Amy decides to enter Bella’s competition to win a Christmas cooked by Bella. When she wins Amy forces Bella to cook for the local homeless shelter St. Swithins or she’ll go public about Bella’s recipe stealing. When these two meet after twenty years the sparks fly but Amy begins to realise to how lucky she has been after the sparkly veneer of Bella’s life is peeled away.
Like her previous novels Sue has created characters that we can easy relate to because they’re not perfect! Amy is a little over-weight, she doesn’t make the best of her appearance and she’s jealous of what she believes Bella has, she does however have a caring side which makes her very likable. Although Bella appears to have the wonderful polished life that we can all lust after, once the cameras have gone away there is a very different and lonely woman left behind whose longing for friendship, this made her a very vulnerable and for me made a more likable.
I loved all the references to celebrity chefs such as Mary Berry and Nigella and the food! Oh my goodness, I don’t think it’s possible to read a Sue Watson book without having something to nibble on as the food descriptions are just delicious!
Bella’s Christmas Bake-Off is a book full of humour and comedy moments but by including the homeless shelter Sue has a given it a more serious element and this perfectly portrays the Christmas message that it’s not how much you have at Christmas that makes it special but who you share it with. The scenes from the homeless shelter felt really Christmassy to me when everyone came together to make the big Christmas dinner and these made the book all the more enjoyable.
This book is full of fun and Christmas spirit and I feel it would be the prefect book to read on Christmas Eve, providing of course you’ve stuffed your turkey and prepped your sprouts!
I’d like to thank Bookouture and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book, I really enjoyed it and would rate it 4 out of 5.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

How to Stuff up Christmas by Rosie Blake


Published: 5th November 2015
Publisher: Corvus
Pages: 324
Available in Paperback and on Kindle

'Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you've found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance's phone...

Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve's boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen.

But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve's best friend Daisy know that she isn't telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve's boat?

A hilarious and heart-warming novel about Christmas, catastrophes and cooking, containing exclusive Christmas recipes, from the talented Rosie Blake.

How to Stuff up Christmas is the first book I’ve read by Rosie Blake. She is an author I’ve been wanting a read for quite a while and this book, which is her second novel, more than lived up to my expectations for being a funny and engaging read.
Heartbroken Eve is not looking forward to Christmas one bit. Last year it was perfect, her boyfriend Liam had proposed on Christmas morning and Eve had been overjoyed. This year she’s single after finding out Liam was cheating on her and she wants to avoid all reminders of last year. So she books herself on a pottery course and goes to stay on a houseboat for a few weeks in December. While staying on the houseboat the village of Pangbourne and its residents….including a very handsome vet start to make their way into Eve’s heart.
The first thing I loved about this was book was the cover, it’s so sparkly and festive and really put me in the Christmas mood, plus I love anything to do with gingerbread men!
I instantly liked Eve, she says and does exactly what she thinks and is very funny. I loved that she did what many of us do after break-ups, wallow in pj’s for days on end, avoid anything that serves as a reminder and clings onto things of the lost partner, even if we don’t really want them…poor Marmite it wasn’t his fault! I also loved that when she made decision to do something she went and did it.  
I loved the way the plot flowed easy and was filled with some brilliant, witty and very honest dialogue. The opening chapter with Eve chatting to her parents was hilarious and one of the best first chapters I’ve read in a long-time.
One thing I wasn’t so keen on was that a couple of scenes were repeated from Eve and Greg’s perspective’s, right down to the same dialogue and I just found this a little too repetitive and distracted from an otherwise hilarious and addictive plot.
I loved the number of mysteries that were in this book. Where does Greg keep running off too? Who is the woman on Liam’s phone? What is Daisy hiding? And what’s with that goose!
I found How to Stuff up Christmas to be a very funny read with lovely likable characters and although it doesn’t scream Christmas it will definitely put you in the mood for some mulled wine and turkey.
I’d like to thank Corvus for sending me a copy to review and would rate this book 4/5.