Thursday, 31 July 2014

A Place for Us Part 1 by Harriet Evans


Published: 31 July 2014
Published by Headline
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

The FIRST of four exclusive part-serialisations of a A Place for Us by Harriet Evans - you'll be desperate to read on ...

The day Martha Winter decided to tear apart her family began like any other day.

So opens A Place for Us by Sunday Times bestselling author Harriet Evans, a book you'll dive into, featuring a family you'll fall in love with ... and never want to leave. If you devour Rosamund Pilcher and Maeve Binchy and have discovered Jojo Moyes, you'll be thrilled to add Harriet Evans to your collection of favourite authors.

The house has soft, purple wisteria twining around the door. You step inside.

The hall is cool after the hot summer's day. The welcome is kind, and always warm.

Yet something makes you suspect life here can't be as perfect as it seems.
After all, the brightest smile can hide the darkest secret.

But wouldn't you pay any price to have a glorious place like this?

Welcome to Winterfold.

Martha Winter's family is finally coming home.

My Review:

A Place for Us has been broken down into a four part series for e-book readers although I understand that the entire story will be released at a later date.

The story revolves around the Winter family from Winterfold. It is approaching Martha's birthday and each family member has received an invite which states that there will be an important announcement......intriguing!!!

Each chapter tells the story from a different member of the family so we, as readers get to know who they are, and some of their backgrounds. The most intriguing character is Daisy who appears to be the troubled black sheep of the family. I think we will learn much more about her in the remaining parts, and I definitely want to know more about her. I also really liked the character of Cat and feel like she has alot more to give as well.

I liked the story more as I got further in to it. I haven't read of Harriet Evan's books before so was new to her style of writing, but I liked it. I found it very descriptive and easy to follow.

I am not a big fan of books being serialised as I feel that by breaking it up it loses some momentum.  I have to admit that this has affected me with this book. It took me a while to get into the storyline, and with so many characters I felt like it has taken me most of the first part to get to know who they are. Just as I was really starting to get into it it ended. I have a mind like a sieve that I fear by the time I start the second part I will have forgotten sections or even worse, most of what happened in this one. I hope readers won't lose momentum by having it broken into four parts.

That said, I will be reading the next part ASAP as I can't wait to see what happens next, and what Martha's big announcement will be. I imagine it will rock the family......

Thank you to Headline who provided a copy of the book via Netgalley in return for a honest review.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Blog Tour: Not Quite Perfect by Annie Lyons

Happy sunny Sunday

I am so pleased to be able to host the talented Annie Lyons on my blog today. Annie's book, Not Quite Perfect, published by Carina, is now available as both paperback and ebook. As well as bringing you some information about the book I am thrilled that Annie has written a guest post called Keep Calm and Channel. I hope you have a great Sunday and enjoy reading this guest post from Annie.

Not Quite Perfect


The Blurb:

Sometimes having it all isn’t enough…

Emma has everything she’s ever wanted. Her boyfriend’s just proposed and her career has finally taken off. And so what if her latest client just happens to be downright gorgeous? She’s getting married. Isn’t she?

Rachel’s married with 2.4 children (well, actually, 3) and life is all about trying to leave the house in a non-stained top. Once it was about skinny cappuccinos, cocktails and dynamic ad agency meetings. She wants her old life back, but can it ever be the same?


A sparkling, funny tale of two sisters and how often you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

To purchase via Amazon please click here

Keep Calm and Channel Anne Tyler

Picture the scene. A slightly dishevelled woman sits at a laptop, her brain infused with a mixture of caffeine and fatigue. The washing machine hums comfortingly in the corner. The reassuring sound of Peppa Pig distracting her four year old daughter enables her to relax a little. She stares at the computer screen and desperately tries to channel her inner Anne Tyler. Always good to aim as high as possible, she tells herself. She blinks at the word count figure. Twenty thousand words. How is she ever going to get past twenty thousand words? A squeak from upstairs causes her to flick her eyes from the screen to the clock. Twenty minutes. It’s only been twenty minutes for Pete’s sake. She pretends she didn’t hear it. Only persistent wailing will distract her from her task. She holds her fingers over the keyboard and types. The words come quickly and then she stops. She reads them back to herself and sighs. Another squeak. This is definitely the squeak of wakefulness. She deletes everything she has written and sighs again. The squeak has become a,’Mamamamamamamam,’ very clear and very definite. She glances again at the twenty thousand word count figure and closes the document.

‘Mum!’ cries her daughter from the other room. She gets up from her computer and pauses in the doorway to the living room.

‘Yes darling,’ she asks wearily. ‘What is it?’

The baby is getting a little impatient now, his shouts constant and insistent. ‘Mam! Mam! Mam!’

                The little girl’s eyes do not leave the television screen. ‘Baby’s crying,’ she says.

Picture the scene five years later. A slightly dishevelled woman sits at a laptop, her brain infused with a mixture of caffeine and fatigue. The washing machine hums comfortingly in the corner. The reassuring stillness of a quiet house, because the children are at school, enables her to relax a little. She stares at the computer screen and desperately tries to channel her inner Anne Tyler. Some things never change, she tells herself. She glances at the pictures surrounding her desk showing the covers for her three published titles and at the framed picture with the Not Quite Perfect cover at the centre and ‘Forty Fantastic Reviews for a Fabulous Forty Year Old’ that her best friend gave her for her birthday. She smiles. Everything has changed. You just have to get past the twenty thousand word mark. And drink a lot of coffee.

About the Author


Annie Lyons is the best-selling author of Not Quite Perfect (now available in paperback) and Not Quite Perfect Christmas (A Short Story). Her new novel Dear Lizzie is published by Carina and is available as an eBook. 



Twitter @1AnnieLyons


Friday, 25 July 2014

If I Could Turn Back Time by Nicola Doherty


Published by Headline
Purchase on Amazon click here


The Blurb:

What if you found The One, then lost him again?

Or not so much lost him as became the neurotic, needy girlfriend from hell. The girl who tried to make him choose between her and his job, and got seriously paranoid about his relationship with his best female friend...

Zoe knows she doesn't deserve another chance with David. But if there's the tiniest possibility of making things right, she'll snatch it. Even if it means breaking the laws of physics to do so...

My Review:

Wouldn't we all, at some point, wish we could travel back in time and change things? I know I would! If they ever invent time travel I will be first in line.......

In If I Could Turn Back Time, Zoe has that opportunity. When we first meet Zoe she is pretty miserable. It's coming up for Christmas, she has recently been dumped by David, her boyfriend, and she doesn't really like her job. One night before she goes to bed she wishes she could go back and change things (who hasn't).

When Zoe wakes up the next day it is a warm July day, and before long she realises that she has travelled back six months in time and she is once again going out with David. This gives her the opportunity to become the 'perfect' girlfriend and undo the mistakes she thinks she has made in the past. She can also use her knowledge of the future to impress her bosses at work, and carve out a new role.

Do things go to plan and Zoe live the life she envisages as perfect? I couldn't possibly let the cat out of the bag, but I would definitely recommend you read the book and find out for yourself.

I found that the book was funny and lighthearted in parts, but also felt a strong message coming through about friendship, loyalty, and that love is about being accepted for who you are, not who someone wants you to be. You only live once and you deserve to be loved and to enjoy life.

Zoe is a fantastic character. She is the kind of girl you can imagine just hanging out with who would always be there for you, but make you laugh lots too. I enjoyed accompanying her on her adventures. I could imagine conspiring with her over how to get rid of David's friend Jenny, or how to seduce him to make sure he fell head over heels in love and never looked at another woman again. There are some scenes set at her workplace where I wanted to dive in and play mother hen to protect her too.

There are two main male characters in the book. I instantly disliked David (the boyfriend) and felt quite angry and resentful that she felt she had done something wrong to deserve being dumped, and that if she changed she could win him back....grrrrrrr. I think that resonated with me as I have been made to feel not good enough, which made me root for her all the more.

The other male character is Max (excuse me whilst I swoon!). Max is a friend of David's and becomes Zoe's flatmate. I think I found myself another book boyfriend. Caring, funny and easy to be around...perfect....I loved the way he seemed to always be there for Zoe ad have her back.

I hadn't read any of Nicola's books before but will be heading off to get my hands on another very soon. Infact I have already gone on to read Poppy Does Paris, a novella by her which is equally as good.

If I Could Turn Back Time is a  brilliant read for the summer holidays, commuting, or just when you want to escape into a good read. I loved the way the story flowed and the writing style really appealed to me.


 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Poppy Does Paris by Nicola Doherty


Publication date: 17 July 2014
Published by: Headline
Purchase as an e-book from Amazon here


The Blurb:

The first instalment in this hilarious, romantic and unputdownable five-part series. Perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk's I Heart... novels.

Paris. City of love, city of romance. The last place you want to go to on a work trip when you're in the middle of an epic dry spell. But that's where Poppy is headed, along with her colleague Charlie, who's shallow and annoying but very, very good-looking. During a white-wine-fuelled session with her friend Alice, Poppy concocts the perfect plan: work by day, and have some no-strings fun with Charlie by night. Of course, it might prove a little more complicated than that, but it's nothing Poppy can't handle - or is it?

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

My Review:

Poppy Does Paris is the first in a five part series by Nicola Doherty. At 65 pages it is a perfect quick feel good read. It is full of fun, romance and laughs. It really put a smile on my face.

Poppy is a great character. Having not had a boyfriend for a long while she is a bit out of practice. She heads off to Paris, with her work colleague to meet an author they are trying to sign up. Having had a bit of a crush on him she plans to seduce him in the city of love. Things of course don't go quite according to plan. Her character made me laugh alot. She came across to me as quite ditzy and I found this very endearing. I could see myself in some of her characteristics , such as a wrong sense of direction, so also laughed at memories it bought back.

I really enjoyed the novella and am looking forward to meeting the next girl on tour. I would like to see mo of Poppy in the future as I am sure there is much more of her story to tell.

I would recommend this novella as a great fun read.

Thank you to Headline for providing me with a copy in return for an honest review.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Extract: From Paris With Love by Samantha Tonge

Hi all

Hope you are feeling all summery and happy! I am so delighted that I am today able to bring you an extract from From Paris With Love by Samantha Tonge, which is being published by Carina on Thursday 24 July. I am so in love with the cover and since I first saw it I am desperate to go off to Paris!! The book can be purchased via Amazon by clicking here if you are in the UK, or here if you are in the US.

Enjoy reading the first chapter below, along with information about the author Samatha Tonge.



What's the book about?

Every girl dreams of hearing those four magical words Will you marry me? But no-one tells you what's supposed to happen next.........

Fun-loving Gemma Goodwin knows she should be revelling in her happy-ever-after. Except when her boyfriend Lord Edward popped the question, after a whirlwind romance, although she didn’t say no….she didn’t exactly say yes either!

A month-long cookery course in Paris could be just the place to make sure her heart and her head are on the same page… And however disenchanted with romance Gemma is feeling, the City of Love has plenty to keep her busy; the champagne is decadently quaffable, the croissants almost too delicious, and shopping is a national past-time! In fact, everything in Paris makes her want to say Je t’aime… Except Edward!
 
 But whilst Paris might offer plenty of distractions from wedding planning - including her new friends, mysterious Joe and hot French rockstar Blade - there's no reason she couldn't just try one or two couture dresses is there? Just for fun
 

Chapter Extract


                                              CHAPTER ONE
In my gorgeous new dress and earrings borrowed from Abbey, I walked as elegantly as possible, down the aisle. I wore a pale blue set of underwear – apparently matching bras and knickers are the height of sophistication – and my mother’s old gold watch, for good luck. Sashaying now, I smiled at people to my left, and then my right. Ahead, Edward caught my eye and winked. Stomach tingling, I stopped by his side and stared at the lusciousness that was Lord Edward Croxley. *Sigh*. I grinned at the vicar. Today, Friday the first of February, was possibly one of the happiest of my life.

‘Move out the way, will yer?’ boomed a voice from behind. Talk about rude! I fought the urge to indicate with two fingers, in a “W” shape for “Whatever”, that I’d only be a couple of seconds. I slipped off my jacket and dropped sideways, into my seat, next to my guy. The loud man pushed past, towards the loo. Still standing, unsteadily, the vicar burped and looked out of the window. Truth be told, he was a plumber called Jim and in fancy dress for a stag weekend.

Despite all that something borrowed, something blue malarkey, this was no wedding, but a trip on an aeroplane. Squirming in my seat, I pulled down the short hem to my cherry red dress. Some of last year’s training that helped me pretend to be modest, aristocratic Abbey for two weeks had clearly stuck – thanks to my teacher, Lady Constance Woodfold  (Lady C to me), and her crash course in how to act in a more refined way.

‘I can’t believe we’re only ten minutes from Paris!’ I said as the sign lit up for us to fasten our seatbelts.

Edward put away his travel guide and squeezed my hand. ‘What’s more exciting, Gemma – your first flight or the prospect of spending one month in the tremendous City of Light?’

I cocked my head, wanting to say neither – I was most looking forward to working in restaurant Chez Dubois for the whole of February and learning everything I could about French nosh. But that wasn’t a very romantic answer, considering he’d proposed only a short while ago, at Christmas – just moments after I’d decided to travel the world in order to learn how to become a chef.

You see, Edward had tipped thirty whereas I was still a couple of years off celebrating my twenty-fifth. Independent me, much as I loved him, just wasn’t sure whether to say “yes” and sign on the dotted marital line. So patient Edward was still waiting for my answer. I cleared my throat and fortunately, at that moment, the air stewardess came by, to check our belts. In fact she’d been mega attentive throughout our journey and suddenly blurted out:

 ‘You two were great on Million Dollar Mansion last year…’ Her cheeks tinged pink. ‘I’ve been longing to say that since we left Gatwick. It’s the best reality show ever and I’m so glad your side won.’

Edward’s eyes shone. ‘How kind. Yes, it was super to secure the financial future of my ancestral home.’

 ‘You were excellent, passing yourself off as your classy best friend, Abigail Croxley,’ she said to me and giggled. ‘Your antics were a real hoot.’

Even though I’d had the same conversation a thousand times since being on telly last September, I never got bored of chatting to the show’s fans. Not even when people exclaimed how “common” – whatever that meant – I looked, away from the camera, nor when women ogled Edward, who looked even hotter in real life.

 It would be strange in Paris, where no one knew us. Perhaps Edward and me could finally grab some “quality time” together. Jeez, just saying that made me sound about a hundred – I’d spent too much time living in his family home, musty old Applebridge Hall! It was the first time I’d been travelling without slathering myself in fake tan or packing my boob-enhancing chicken fillets. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved my short skirts and colourful nails but… Lady C’s training… All that stuff about moderation… Somehow bits of it had etched themselves permanently onto my brain.

‘Are you two on a romantic getaway?’ the stewardess continued, oblivious to the glares of the colleague in front of her, trying to pass with the drinks trolley.

I avoided Edward’s eye. Not that he’d made a fuss when I’d asked for more time to consider his proposal, but it was hard to stay strong. The soppy part of me melted at the sound of his very English voice – at the sight of his strong shoulders, that teasing mouth, those soulful eyes – and didn’t want to think rationally about my jet-setting career plans.

‘Um… Not really,’ I said, cheeks tingeing pink. ‘I’m here for a month, developing my cookery skills. One of the workmen renovating Applebridge Hall’s top floor heard about me longing to travel. He spoke to his daughter who works in France, in the catering business.’

‘It’s who you know, not what, don’t they say,’ said the air stewardess, nodding her head.

‘Too right! She passed on details of a bistro that needed reliable, temporary English-speaking staff to help out during February. Although there was some mix-up and we’ve ended up working at Chez Dubois, a different restaurant.’ I shrugged. ‘Anyway, a friend of hers lent us her flat as she’d just taken on a cruise ship job for a month and didn’t want it standing empty. Apparently she’d heard of Million Dollar Mansion and cos we’re “famous” – her words, not mine – trusted us not to trash her place.’

‘I’d love to live in Paris for more than an overnight stopover,’ said the stewardess, in a dreamy voice.

 ‘The restaurants over there are expecting business to boom due to a series of spring events to commemorate the First World War,’ chipped in Edward and ran a hand through his honey curls. ‘I believe Chez Dubois is one of the oldest in the area. It was built in the seventeenth century, originally as a café where men might drink and listen to the wit of visiting actors. Over the centuries it became the haunt for many famous writers, so understandably Gemma and I – both keen readers – are thrilled to work there.’

‘Aw, and you’re keeping Gemma company?’ said the air stewardess and gave a flirtatious giggle.

Honestly! How did Edward manage to turn most women to putty within minutes of talking to them?

He smiled. ‘Gem doesn’t need me to accompany her – she’s capable of making new friends anywhere on this earth. No, the magazine I write a weekly column for is interested in several pieces on the First World War commemorative events in England. I thought a take on the French perspective might also interest readers, so asked lovely Gemma if she’d mind me tagging along.’

How chuffed Edward had been when Country Aspirations magazine offered him the column, having been impressed with the success of his daily blog during Million Dollar Mansion. Since publishing his weekly pieces on the twenty-first century world from an aristocrat’s point of view, their sales figures had soared. The magazine’s stodgy readers particularly lapped up articles on Applebridge Hall’s renovation, high society events and the fine nosh we taught people to cook at the food academy we set up with the million dollars prize.

The air stewardess wished us luck and moved on, probably disappointed that we hadn’t announced we were eloping or on some sort of honeymoon. As the plane tilted its nose and got ready to land, I leant past Edward to look out of the aeroplane. He’d offered me the window seat, as it was my first time in the air, but I’d said no. Each peek out of the window gave me an excuse to cuddle up to my yummy man. Meringues of cloud parted to reveal sunshine. For a second the plane shook – talk about the ultimate rollercoaster ride, and one that would end at the coolest ever destination!

My heart felt like it would explode with sparks of joy as I relaxed back into my seat and held Edward’s hand tight. I glanced sideways at him and couldn’t wait to kiss his lips, to feel his breath on my neck, under the starry Parisian sky… A smile crossed my lips. If Auntie Jan knew how Edward still made me feel, she’d call me “a right soppy sausage”.

 ‘Have you worked out exactly where our flat is?’ I said, as the plane finally ground to a halt and we stood up to get our hand luggage. ‘If not, I’ll Google the address on your laptop.’ I patted his rucksack.

 ‘Done,’ said Edward as we stepped out of the aeroplane and followed the other passengers towards the luggage carousel. Once there, he took out the travel guide and pointed to an underground station, in the north of the capital. ‘As we thought, the flat is near Chez Dubois, in Montmartre – near the Sacre-Coeur.’

‘Ooh, close to that square full of artists that I’ve seen on the telly? Aren’t we the cultured ones?’

‘I believe it is excessively touristy nowadays, but yes, that’s the place.’ He leant forward and kissed me on the lips – an action which never failed to make my heart race, as if it only had a few beats left before giving out. ‘Oh, Gem, I can’t wait to show you my favourite Parisian haunts. When Mother brought me here, one school holiday, I thought it was the most wonderful place on earth. The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower is smashing – truly panoramic. And we visited the extraordinary Pompidou Centre and Père Lachaise, a magnificent cemetery where some of the greatest writers of all time are buried, like Oscar Wilde. The tombs are like nothing you’ve ever seen – even bigger than those on your favourite supernatural programme…’

I screwed up my forehead.

‘The one where high school students transform into werewolves or consume blood.’ He pulled a face.

‘Ah, the Vampire Diaries.’ AKA the greatest show on earth! And I wasn’t the only dedicated viewer at Applebridge Hall. Amazin’ cook, Kathleen, watched it too, under the guise of ironing in front of the telly. Proof that grey hairs and wrinkles don’t stop you appreciating hot men – well, bloodsuckers really, but still, what was a couple of sharp glinting teeth between friends?

Having said that, much as I liked watching lush vamps hang out amongst gravestones, I’d already selected more lively locations to visit during my stay here. For me, the French capital was all about wicked boutiques, awesome cafés and, of course, Disneyland Paris, dream destination to children of all ages – including forty-three year old Auntie Jan, who was Minnie Mouse’s number one fan.

Plus I could just imagine Edward and me sitting outside some fancy bar in the capital, sipping red wine, and eating slices of baguette with smelly cheese. We’d look all arty and refined, with a cluster of museum guides and shopping bags at my feet. All I’d need then was a beret and miniature poodle to make the fantasy complete. In the background, classy music would play – like that golden oldie about not regretting something or other... *Sigh*. I’d fallen in love with Paris already.

Pardon!’ mumbled a lady in a fur coat, who squeezed past us to get her bags.

‘Huh?’ I shrugged at Edward. ‘But I didn’t say anything.’

‘No, that means excuse me,’ said Edward as he studied the carousel.

Oh. Clearly my GCSE French was rustier than I thought. Mind you, I hadn’t forgotten everything and when the woman came back again, carrying a smart suitcase, and repeated the polite word, I said. ‘Au naturel,’ pleased to have remembered the phrase for “of course”.

The woman gave me a strange look and hurried on. Edward chuckled.

‘You just said “naked” to her,’ he whispered.

Really? Nah, he had to be wrong, even though he’d spent the last few weeks revising his French. Certain things from school lessons never left me – like the time I did an essay about me and Auntie Jan attempting to make homemade jam. Right healthy it was, and I wrote that we’d used no préservatifs. You should have seen the teacher’s face. Well, how was I supposed to know that was the French word for condoms? Cue, a fleeting moment of fame at school, as everyone thought I’d muddled up the words on purpose.

As the luggage went around on the conveyor belt, a man in a black suit and sunglasses stood on the other side of the carousel and stared my way. His light brown hair was styled army short. He had tanned skin, a strong jawline and chiselled cheekbones. All of a sudden he turned away and disappeared into the crowds. Perhaps Parisians might recognise us after all.

A fashionable woman struggled to retrieve her huge suitcase and Edward lunged forward, easily lifted it off the conveyor belt and bowed his head as she giggled and muttered her thanks in French. Yes, I was officially going out with one sexy, appealing hunk! Whistling, arm linked with my man, I eventually left the airport.

We pulled our suitcases on wheels, both of us carrying rucksacks on our backs. Once outside I took a deep breath, expecting to smell garlic or see strings of onions around people’s necks. This was France, right? Plus my first time abroad… But, disappointingly, everything looked much the same as back home, including the grubby pavement and grey clouds.

How could this be? I wanted glamour! The Exotic! Sophistication! Even the birds were the same, I noticed, as a couple of chubby pigeons ambled past. You’d think they‘d look all slim and sexy, living over the Channel. Edward hailed a taxi and muttered something in the local lingo. Apparently he’d got top marks for his French A-level and once stayed with family friends in the South of France. As a girl I’d always been lucky to get a week in Margate – not that I’m complaining. It takes a lot to beat a visit to the arcades, followed by a cone of chips and stick of rock.

We got in the car and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the strange man with sunglasses get into a waiting black BMW. Wow. Its windows were tinted. He must have been important.

Anglais, uh?’ said the taxi driver, as our car pulled away.

‘Yes,’ said Edward.

‘‘oliday?’

Non…’ I cleared my throat. ‘We are, ‘ow you zay… workeeeeng.’ I caught Edward’s eye and giggled, realising that just adding an accent to my English didn’t make me a linguist.

Nous travaillons,’ I said, racking my brain for the right words.

‘Ah… but still… Exciting, non… in Paris?’

Au naturel,’ I said, despite Edward thinking he knew what that meant. And, indeed, the car swerved, proving that the driver was impressed with my French.

 ‘Bit of a luxury this, isn’t it, a taxi?’ I said to Edward as the driver looked in his mirror to give me a weird look and turned up the radio.

‘Quite. After years of watching every penny, to save Applebridge Hall, my instinct would have been to take the underground.’

‘You mean Métro,’ I said airily. ‘Yes – but I’m glad we took the convenient option, instead of dragging our cases across the capital. It’s made our whole trip a lot easier.’

‘Our first trip together…’ Edward smiled fondly at me. ‘I wonder where we’ll go for our second? Imagine going on a cruise, like the girl whose flat we’re borrowing. Even though she’s working on the ship, it’s a chance second to none – a life on the waves…’ Edward stared dreamily out of the window.

It had been weird for him – the fallout from last year’s reality show. The world suddenly realising that his cousin Rupert – not him – was the rightful heir to Applebridge Hall. Once Rupert took over, after graduating later this year, Edward would be free of his aristocratic responsibilities, if he wanted, to carve out any career path.

I gripped his hand and gave it a squeeze, before gazing out of the window. Whoaa! This was more like it. Clearly we were entering the centre of the Paris. Just look at those cute cafés with people drinking beer and coffee outside, under the early rays of spring sun. And those shop windows had gilt-edged windows… Glamour at last! Plus an old man just cycled past wearing a beret!

Mind you, he’d have been better off wearing a sturdy helmet. My eyes widened as cars weaved randomly in between lanes, hooting and winding down their windows to swear. Perhaps I’d need to head for the Champs-Elysées to experience French elegance at its best. And sure enough, we drove down that huge avenue eventually – not that I took in much detail, after the psychotic way our car had hurtled around the Arc de Triomphe a few times, seconds before.

‘I suspect we’re being taken on the sightseeing route,’ said Edward and glanced at the taxi meter before pulling out his travel guide. I held onto the door, heart racing as if I’d just done the scariest ride at Alton Towers. I must have been confused, cos I was sure I saw that black BMW hurtling around with us, as well.

Not long after, however, the streets narrowed and, able to focus once again, I saw Parisian life up close. Away from the busy boulevards, people walked at a slower pace. They talked on their phones or, carrying a newspaper, stopped to chat with café owners. The most adorable balconies with plant pots fronted white-washed flats above shops, shutters either side of the windows. I sent Abbey a quick text to let her know how cute the city was.

‘Are you going to miss Applebridge Hall? And your dad? It’s ages since you’ve been away, what with the financial stresses,’ I said.

Edward chuckled. ‘Father and I could probably do with a break from each other after all this time. But seriously? I feel happier leaving him behind, now that he enjoys the companionship of Lady Constance.’

I nodded. Theirs was a mega sweet romance, fuelled by a mutual love of birdwatching. ‘Shame she won’t be with him for Valentine’s Day.’

‘At least she’s only in Switzerland for a few days.’

‘True.’ Dear old Lady C – well into her seventies and still giving advice on running finishing schools. Having owned one for years, she’d become something of an expert in the field, plus appearing on Million Dollar Mansion had raised her profile. She’d been mega chuffed to be invited to a girls’ college in Zurich for three nights.

‘Almost there, now,’ said Edward, as we pulled into a busy street which was cobbled, full of pedestrians and increasingly narrow. How adorable! I’d have to take loads of photos later and upload them to my Facebook page, with the status “Wish you were here.”

‘We can walk from here.’ He paid the driver and we got out.

 Towing our luggage, we eventually came to a tiny square where I did finally breathe in garlic – along with a whiff of seafood wafting out from a bottle-green painted bistro on the left called “La Perle”. Next to that was a gift shop with racks of postcards outside. Opposite was a butcher’s with a queue coming out of the door and a tiny supermarket. A van pulled up near the gift shop to unload fresh produce for a grocer’s further along. Edward pointed upwards, to the right.

Voilá!’ he murmured.

Wow – it couldn’t get better than this. Our home for the next month was bang on top of a patisserie – that’s a cake shop, to you and me – called… Ah, I could translate those words – the sign said “The Golden Croissant”.  Roll on breakfasts of fresh swirly Danish pastries… And down the end of the avenue, along from there I could just see a red canopy over small tables – a bar!

‘Come on!’ I said and hurried towards the flat. Pulling my suitcase, I charged towards the cake shop and headed up a staircase on its right, whilst Edward nipped inside the Golden Croissant to get the key. Five minutes later, we were inside the flat and surveying our new home in silence. Talk about fab.

The small, functional kitchen and lounge were open plan, with a welcoming fireplace in the middle, near an ivory sofa and chairs. Underneath the glass coffee table lay a turquoise patterned rug, over oak-laminated floor. On the ornate black balconies, outside the windows, sat potted plants.  There was a dinky bathroom and the cutest bedroom, with rustic bedcovers, a bowl of potpourri and a wash basin and jug. A beech table with four chairs just about fitted into the far corner, on the window side….

‘Our Parisian abode really is quite charming,’ said Edward as he took out a notebook from his pocket, to jot down some notes.

‘Look at you, ever the writer,’ I said and winked.

He nodded. ‘It’s just a few random thoughts of our taxi drive and the sights so far. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to squeeze a few weeks’ columns out of this trip and not just report on the commemorative First World War events.’

I opened the windows, by the balcony, to air the flat. The divine aroma of crème fillings, sugar and spice wafted up from the cake shop. I could get used to that.

Edward smiled. ‘Why don’t you pop out and buy some basics, for tea, from that little supermarket? By the time you get back I should have the heating and kettle on. Or if you like, I’ll get the food in and you can set up the flat.’

‘No it’s fine…’  Me shopping – that sounded perfect! Although Edward had become something of a fan of this pastime, since meeting me… Primark was his particular favourite. He couldn’t get over the choice, as over the years he’d made do with the services of a local tailor and occasional trips to a small men’s clothes shop in Applebridge.

 ‘I won’t be long…’  A lump came to my throat, just for one second. Edward was so caring and reliable, staying behind to set up a cosy little home for us. Perhaps I was mad to not immediately accept his proposal of marriage. I stepped up on tiptoe, and kissed him firmly on his lips. Tenderly he responded, sending a trickle of tingles down my spine.

Once outside, I headed towards the supermarket and, as I glanced ahead, I let out a gasp. The man in a black suit stood by a nearby tree. Of average height, he nevertheless stood out. His whole physique shouted discipline – with his clear skin and subtle gym-bunny shape.

 Quick as a flash, he turned away and I shook myself. No. Don’t be paranoid. He must have been a different bloke to the one on the plane. Dark suits and sunglasses were all the rage nowadays.

 I gazed around at a poor lady with matted hair and a threadbare scarf. She sat on the pavement, asking for change. I slid my rucksack off my back and delved in for my purse, before handing her some coins. Then I entered the supermarket, in my head practising the pronunciation for the French equivalent of “how much, please?”

At the back of the shop, I swung around an aisle, looking for milk and… Whoa! ... came face to face with that man again. Suddenly he reached for a packet of biscuits. The hairs on the back of my neck jumped to attention. Instinct told me that he was pretending to look busy. But why? Could he really have followed little old me, all the way from the airport?

 Shopping forgotten, I made for the door, nevertheless telling myself my suspicions were… Well, my first thought was “bonkers” but since staying with Edward these last months, my vocabulary now included phrases my new aristocratic friends used. Occasionally I’d say something was “quite terrible” or “nonsensical” or “awfully idiotic”. So yes, my suspicions were quite nonsensical.

Who did I think the man was? A real-life version of the Men in Black agents, about to zap aliens? If we’d been in England, he could have worked for one of the countless TV companies who’d approached me during the last few months, to do other reality shows. Yet we were in Paris… I swallowed. No one knew me. I was letting my imagination work overtime.

Chest nevertheless pounding, I led him away from the direction of the flat and instinctively quickened my pace. After five minutes, I gazed over my shoulder, as the sunlight began to fade. Really? I mean, really? Had he just dodged behind a parked car?

No doubt about it, then. He was stalking me. Mouth dry, I took a sharp left into an avenue and ran as fast as I could in my heels. Yet footsteps still sounded behind me. I cut into an even smaller avenue. Shit (sorry Lady C, manners out the window at this point)… I stared at a dead end. My hands felt sticky and in slow motion, I swivelled around.

The black BMW from earlier pulled up. The door opened. Inside was the mysterious man. He climbed out and walked stealthily towards me.
 
About the Author:

 
Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family, and two cats who think they are dogs. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, came out in November 2013.

 

 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Cover Reveal: Tastes Like Winter by CeCe Carroll



Genre: Young Adult

Publication Date: September 16th, 2014

Book Description:
When home no longer feels like home - where can you go?
When your best friend won’t listen - who can you turn to?
When love makes you feel weak - how do you protect your heart?

With constant fighting at home, Emma decides working at High Street Books and practicing avoidance is the best method to save her from more heartache.

She doesn’t expect to meet Jake, the shop owner’s nephew,
who makes her stomach do crazy things.
But Jake is intent on pushing her away, and Emma must ask herself:
Is he scared? Or is he hiding something?

Tastes Like Winter is a story of love, family, and friendship and, when everything is uncertain, trying to figure out where you fit in.

Goodread: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22616155-tastes-like-winter?from_search=true

About the Author:



CeCe began writing as an escape from her days as a corporate slave laborer. She grew up splitting her time between the beautiful beaches of New Jersey and the bustling city of New York. Currently, she lives in Massachusetts with her super handsome and talented husband and two adorable, but often-sassy cats. CeCe gets excited easily, mostly about travelling, food, and of course, her first love: books.


Contact Links
Website: http://www.cecewrites.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cecebooks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cececarrollauthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/photo/author/8346222.CeCe_Carroll

Short Excerpt:

I sigh. “It’s so toasty warm in here and so cold and wet out there, I don’t want to get out.”
“I could drive you right up to your door, but I don’t think your mom would appreciate me parking in her pansies.”
“Probably not,” I agree.
He reaches into his pocket, shifting in his seat to pull his phone out of the denim. “Let me get your number before you leave.”
I don’t think a boy has ever asked me for my digits before, and having that boy be Jake makes me ecstatic.
I take a moment to calm myself before answering, and Jake must read that as a sign to retreat because he adds, “You know I should probably have it…for emergency purposes.”
I tell him the number, and he shoots me a text so I have his. I say good-bye, leave the warmth of his car, and start walking up the front walkway. Before I reach the door, my phone buzzes in my pocket, signaling another text.
Jake: I trust you made it to the door okay. I probably should have walked you so you wouldn’t have to suffer alone.
I tease him back.
Me: I made it, no worries, though I’m not sure this counts as an emergency.
Jake: Felt like one to me. Well, have a great night. Don’t miss me too much.

“Your pick. Traditional snowball fight? Or sledding? I have a sled in the trunk and that hill”—he points to the far edge of the park—“looks like it would work.”
If I choose the snowball fight, I might end up with a face full of snow, quite the risk, but flinging packed balls back at him sounds like fun and might end in snow wrestling, which would be more than worth the chill. However, if I pick sledding, there will be a lot of tiresome hiking up and down the hill, but also a good chance I can ask him to go down with me, allowing me to feel his body pressed up against my back.
I look at him devilishly. “Prepare for battle!”
And I dart away from him before he has the chance to process my answer. I decide to play tactically, using the jungle gym as a barrier. I throw myself behind the cover of the slide and begin packing together snowballs as quickly as I can. He runs after me and copies my strategy by positioning himself behind the playground’s merry-go-round.
I thought I had time and the element of surprise on my side, but he is fast, and before I know it, he is flinging balls my way. The first one smacks the slide beside my head and explodes into icy dust. Crap! He has good aim. I wasn’t counting on that.
“You’re gunning for blood, aren’t you, Addler?” I taunt, throwing one back at him. While it doesn’t come quite as close as his, it’s not a bad first attempt.
We continue tossing snow back and forth from a safe distance, trash-talking and egging each other on. I land a solid hit on the side of his face that leaves him stunned, and seeing a window of opportunity, I charge at him. I don’t have another ball prepared, so instead I throw my whole body at his, knocking him away from the merry-go-round and down into the snow. I childishly and triumphantly bury his face, shoving heaps of powder down into his jacket as I go. Once he has sufficiently paid for his smack talk, I sit up, my knees on either side of him, straddling his body. The position is intimate, and despite the fact that his face is still covered and he must be freezing, I feel a stiffening in his pants.
I gasp at the contact. My momentary distraction gives him time to recover, and he twists, pulling his body over mine and throwing me to the ground. He hovers over me, locking my wrists above my head and pinning my body down, sinking us deeper into the snow. I cower, afraid of his retaliation and waiting for my own onslaught, but he doesn’t move to enact his revenge. Instead he pants heavily over me, trying to catch his breath. His cheeks are spotted with redness, and his hair sticks up from the dampness of the snow.
“You little hellcat, you. You are so lucky you’re a girl, or I’d totally be annihilating you right now.”
I squirm under him, trying to free myself before he changes his mind and stops taking pity on me. The movement presses my hips up against him, making contact again with his physical excitement. It doesn’t go unnoticed, this time.
“Fuck! Are you trying to kill me?”
He rolls off and kneels beside me in the snow. His breath continues as a series of sharp inhales before finally slowing and returning to a normal pace. I don’t even try to get up, but rather I continue laying there, the warmth in my lower belly enough to shield me from any cold. I imagine pulling him down, kissing him hard on the mouth, and having ourselves another roll around in the snow, but I already decided I wouldn’t throw myself at him and risk getting shot down again. I’d rather wait for him to make the first move. So that’s what I do, quiet on the outside, but with my mind screaming at him. Kiss me, Jake! Kiss me!
Unfortunately, Jake does not appear to be telepathic.
After giving himself enough time to recover, he lays back on the ground, close but purposefully not touching. “You know what would be good right now?”
Your tongue in my mouth? I silently reply.
“Hot chocolate covered in whipped cream and piled high with mini marshmallows.”
Wrong answer, Jake. Wrong answer. While hot chocolate is not the first-choice liquid I’d like to be savoring right now—that honor would go to more salivary fluids—it is one of my favorite winter staples, and I happen to have all the fixin’s at home.
I sigh louder than I want, releasing some of the sexual frustration with my outward exhale. “Okay, Jake. I wouldn’t mind some hot chocolate. Let’s go to my house.”


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Letters to my Daughter's Killer by Cath Staincliffe


E-book: Out Now
Paperback: Published 17 July
Published by: Little Brown Book Group UK
Purchase from Amazon

The Blurb:

Grandmother Ruth Sutton writes to the man she hates more than anyone else on the planet: the man who she believes killed her daughter Lizzie in a brutal attack four years earlier. Ruth's burden of grief and hatred, has only grown heavier with the passing of time, her avid desire for vengeance ever stronger. In writing to him Ruth hopes to exorcise the corrosive emotions that are destroying her life, to find the truth and with it release and a way forward. Whether she can ever truly forgive him is another matter - but the letters are her last, best hope.

Letters To My Daughter's Killer exposes the aftermath of violent crime for an ordinary family and explores fundamental questions of crime and punishment. How do we deal with the very human desire for revenge? If we get justice does reconciliation follow? Can we really forgive those who do us the gravest wrong? Could you?

My Review:

Wow! Letters to my Daughters Killer grabbed me from the opening page, and didnt let me go again until the very last. A exceptional book full of raw emotion and grief. I cannot begin to describe how moved I have been whilst reading this book. It will live with me for a long time to come.

The book tells the story of a Mother, Ruth, whose daughter has been murdered. The story is told through a series of letters to the man Ruth believes murdered her daughter Lizzie. As a reader I was led through the brutal murder scene, the arrest of the suspect, the trial, and the aftermath which questions whether life can ever get back to normal after something so horrific. I don't really want to tell you too much more about the plot as I feel it would ruin it for you as a reader.

I felt that I connected with Ruth almost immediately. The book is so skilfully written that I really felt that I was in Ruth's world, and could strongly feel the emotions that she seemed to be feeling, I felt like throughout the book I was going through all the stages of grief with her. I felt very connected to the characters and hated seeing the pain they were going through.

I am often a fast reader but found myself slowing down to really absorb what was happening, and the story felt so realistic that I felt like I had to read slowly out of a sort of weird respect to those involved, which is odd as it is purely a work of fiction.

Cath Staincliffe has created a book which really took me on an emotional roller coaster ride. She has tackled some very strong and serious subjects in a very tasteful manner. It certainly has me thinking and I think it has the potential to do wonders in raising a wanes of these serious and sensitive themes.

I am still feeling angry at the person who committed the crime and still feel sad beyond words for Ruth and the other main character of the book (who will quickly become clear once you start reading). She is an incredibly talented author to be able to write a book with such power and such a deep and strong subject. Using letters was to me ingenious as it made me feel like the depth of hatred and pain were even stronger. I could imagine sitting there and pouring out all these emotions on paper, I am a big letter writer myself too.

I would highly recommend this as a must read. Powerful, extremely moving, and thought provoking. I think this book will stay with the reader long after the last page.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Confessions of a Chocoholic by Lynda Renham



Out now
Purchase from Amazon

The Blurb:

A collection of short funny tales and a unique insight into the world of chicklit royalty, aka Lynda Renham. A right comedy of errors if ever there was one. If you're looking for her beauty secrets and fashion ideas you've come to the right place. Read of her intimate sex life, her secrets for staying young and how she keeps her man - just. A fly-on-the wall true account of the life of a romantic comedy novelist, written in her own words. It's all here, the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 

My Review:

I spotted the title of this book 'Confessions of a Chocoholic' when it was free on Kindle. Being a self confessed chocoholic I downloaded it straight away. It took me a bit by surprise as, rather than being a fictional story of a chocolate lover, it was a book of real life  experiences of the author, told in short stories.

The stories were quite funny and they did have me chuckling in parts. The book is only 65 pages long so it's quite hard to write the review without giving it all away. Lets just say that it touches on some humorous moments related to marriage, sex, builders, mice, and medical treatment. It's an easy book to escape in to when you are commuting, or have an hour or so spare. The chapters are short enough that you can also dip in and out as and when.

The writing style is good, it flows nicely and and at times I have de ja vu about sharing some of the experiences Lynda has had. It didn't even matter that it wasn't all about chocolate (saved me drooling all over my kindle).

Sunday, 6 July 2014

My Top Ten Novellas of 2014 so far.....

Not only have there been some amazing full length novels out this year so far, there have also been a large number of novella's that I have also loved. This post will bring you my top ten of the year so far (in no particular order)
 
The Ivy Lane Series by Cathy Bramley (parts 1&2 have been already been published)



 
 
Little Lies by Heather Gudenkauf
 
 
The Bookshop on the Corner (and the rest of the Gingerbread Café series) by Rebecca Raisin
 
 
Dead Man's Gift (3 part series) by Simon Kernick
 
 
Tuesdays at the Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene
 
 
Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts by Talli Roland
 
 
 
Weightless by Michele Gorman
 
 
 
Zenith Hotel by Oscar Coop Phane
 
 
Confessions of a Chocoholic by Lynda Renham
 


Lock and Load by Sean Black
 




I would love to know what novella's you have read and enjoyed. Why not let me know what you would recommend.

Happy reading!


 

Friday, 4 July 2014

Ivy Lane: Part 2 (Summer) by Cathy Bramley



The Blurb:

Romance ripens at Ivy Lane . . .

Tilly Parker is feeling happier than she has done since her life completely changed nearly two years ago. As she flourishes under the summer sun, she throws herself into life at Ivy Lane, complete with strawberry planting, chinwags with Gemma and cups of tea with Alf.

And excitement reaches fever pitch when a TV crew descends to capture life inside a modern-day allotment, bringing out the best (new wellies and lipstick) and the worst (parsnip rivalry) in them all.

As Tilly's broken heart slowly mends, she attracts the attention of not one but two suitors - but is Tilly ready for romance and what secrets is she still keeping from her friends at Ivy Lane?

Ivy Lane is a serialized novel told in four parts - taking you through a year in the life of Tilly Parker - with Summer the second part.

My Review:

Hooray, Tilly and the Ivy Lane allotment gang are back! I loved the first part of this series (Spring) and was so excited about getting stuck in to find out what happened next. I wasn’t disappointed!

In the first part we met Tilly Parker, the main character, who had recently moved into the area and had taken on an allotment. We don’t yet know all her history, but we do know that a guy called James has left her broken hearted. We also met a number of other characters, all of whom are involved in the allotments. The first part was fast paced, fun and I really liked the characters so was eager to get reacquainted with them.

Summer brings a camera crew to the allotments. They are there on and off over the summer to film the goings on at the allotment, and in particular follow one of the new members...cue the unwitting Tilly taking centre stage.

In the first book we met Charlie who seemed like he could become a love interest. In this book we still have Charlie, who is definitely keen, but we also meet another man....Aidan.

I loved hearing more about the characters, particularly Gemma who is becoming one of Tilly’s best friends. She has a teenage daughter and some of their scenes really made me laugh remembering my own rebellious teenage years.

The story is only 95 pages so it is a good quick read that totally engrossed me. I found it hard to put it down and do day to day things wanting to follow the story.

The big mystery of the story is around James. What happened to him? I found myself trying to make guesses throughout. Then, just as I thought we were getting answers..........

The story ends on a massive cliffhanger and has left me desperate to know what happens next. I cannot wait until the start of September to see what is going on.

I found the story so well written, easy to follow, fun and it has left me really wanting an allotment of my own to make friends like those at Ivy Lane.