Saturday, 12 December 2015

Review: Callies Christmas Countdown by Julie Ryan

Today, I am delighted to be taking part in today's book blast forJulie Ryan‘s new Christmas novella Callies Christmas Countdown. A review copy was provided by Brook Cottage Books in exchange for an honest review.

Keep an eye open for more reviews today on Twitter.

Callie is an event planner, organising weddings and corporate parties. What she'd really love however, is to organise the perfect Christmas. How difficult can it be after all? She simply needs to get her divorced parents talking to each other, sort out a Christmas Eve wedding for the daughter of a millionaire and wait for her hunky, rich boyfriend to propose. What could possibly go wrong?

My Thoughts:

Chick-lit at its best. Perfect for a pick me up in the busy run up to Christmas. At a 150 pages this is a lovely guilt free quick read and a festive treat covering the long run up to Christmas. An amusing and lovely relaxing read.

Callie is likeable and easy to emphasize with. Counting down to Christmas Callie knows exactly what her perfect Christmas would be. Whilst Lauren knows what her perfect wedding should be. Callie is her wedding planner and together they are organizing the perfect Christmas wedding. I really liked the twists and turns in the plot, there are plenty of surprises and funny bits.

There is a love triangle too. Personally I couldn’t imagine what she saw in the stuck up but sexy twit she’s dating. Whilst the attentive, sexy friend and neighbor; now that’s another story –I get that.

Being a Christmas novel, there is some lovely Christmas sentiment in here too, I love Granny’s Christmas star and the role it played in the story. It was funny too how Callie ends up playing both the matchmaker and the parent role to her mother.

I can heartily recommend this book for some Christmas cheer.

What others are saying:

Michele - "I absolutely loved this book by Julie Ryan, so different to her other books IV READ and equally as enthralling."

Rachel's Random Reads - "There is a lovely sense of humour in this story, and I loved how Callie seemed to care more about others than herself."

  • Format: ebook
  • Author: Julie Ryan
  • Release Date:2015
  • Genres: Chic-Lit
  • Julie was born and brought up in a mining village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. She graduated with a BA (hons) in French Language and Literature from Hull University. Since then she has lived and worked as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand. She now lives in rural Gloucestershire with her husband, son and two cats, a rescue cat and a dippy cat with half a tail. She is so passionate about books that her collection is now threatening to outgrow her house, much to her husband’s annoyance, as she can’t bear to get rid of any! They have been attempting to renovate their home for the last ten years.

    She is the author of the Greek Island Mystery series, Jenna’s Journey, Sophia’s Secret and Pandora’s Prophecy, each of which can be read as a standalone. She considers Greece to be her spiritual home and visits as often as she can.

    Connect with the Author:
    Website | Facebook | Twitter

    Tuesday, 8 December 2015

    Review: Out of Control by T.A. Belshaw

    Today, I am delighted to be taking part the blog tour for T.A. Belshaw‘s new book Out of Control. A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review. Please keep reading to the end of my review as there is a fabulous giveaway for you to enter!

    It began with a trivial moment of carelessness, but the shockwaves that reverberate from this seemingly insignificant incident, spread far and wide.

    Ed and his heavily pregnant wife Mary are on an errand for Ed’s ailing father before the pair depart for warmer climes. But the winter of 1962 comes early and one innocuous event and a hastily taken decision will have devastating consequences for the family of young Rose Gorton.

    Mary’s already fragile mental state is put under further stress while Ed tries to make sense of events that are spiralling massively, Out of Control.

    My Thoughts:

    At 78 pages this was a quick and haunting tale of the unexpected. Trevor takes us back to 1962, cool cars, full ashtrays, typing pool gossip and a pre-mobile phone age.

    What starts as a simple story quickly goes “Out of Control”. Make no mistake this is a game of consequences; A moment of carelessness and one bad decision which quickly leads to another.

    This book really surprised me and was very different to my normal genres. I didn’t particularly connect with the characters, nor did I really like them. Here it was the suspense and their actions rather than the petty details of their respective characters that lay central to the story.

    Reminiscent of a television series previously enjoyed, the surprise ending took me back to the late seventies. The ending isn’t one I will forget in a hurry, but this is a clever story which needs be be discovered one page at a time, to say more would quiet literally spoil the storytellers tale.

    I would like to say that I felt transported back in time whilst reading, but the truth is I didn’t. This story could have taken place in era and any small town where the lack of a telephone could be explained.

    Recommended as a quick read for suspense fans and lovers of “Tales of the Unexpected”.

    What others are saying:

    Beverly - "Twisty, turny and downright creepy in places"

    Ali The Dragon Slayer - "leaves you gasping for breath by the end ... mix of drama, horror & emotion"

  • Format: ebook
  • Author: Trevor Belshaw
  • Release Date:25 Aug. 2015
  • Genres: Noir-Suspense
  • GIVEAWAY
    5 Ecopies and 2 signed Paperback copies of the book.
    Open Internationally
    [ENTER]

    Trevor Belshaw, aka, Trevor Forest, is a writer of both adult and children's fiction. He lives in Nottingham, UK with his mad Springer Spaniel, Maisie. Trevor is the creator of Tracy’s Hot Mail (Crooked Cat Publishing,) and has recently released a noir novella, Out of Control.

    Writing under the name, Trevor Forest, he has published fourteen children’s books including the Magic Molly series, The Stanley Stickle series, and Peggy Larkin's War.

    Trevor’s short stories and articles have appeared in various magazines including The Best of British, Ireland’s Own and First Edition. His poem My Mistake was awarded a highly commended status and included in the Farringdon Poetry competition best entries anthology. His children’s poem Clicking Gran, was longlisted in the Plough Poetry competition 2009.

    Trevor’s short stories have been published in many anthologies including the charity anthologies. 100 Stories for Haiti, 50 Stories for Pakistan, 100 Stories for Queensland, The Best of CafĂ© Lit, (2011 2012 and 2013) The Best of Friday Flash Volume 2, Another Haircut, Shambelurkling and other stories and 24 Stories for Advent.

    Connect with the Author:
    Website | Facebook | Twitter

    Monday, 7 December 2015

    Review: The Accidental Guest by Tilly Tennant

    Today, I am delighted to be taking part in the Brook cottage Books blog tour for Tilly Tennent‘s new book The Accidental Guest. A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review. Please keep reading to the end of my review as there is a fabulous giveaway for you to enter!

    From the author of the much-loved, best-selling Mishaps in Millrise, a brand new four-novella-part series, Once Upon a Winter- come and fall in love this Christmas!

    Once Upon a Winter is a new four part series which begins with a big surprise on Christmas Day – and it’s not those bath salts from your auntie Edith! Join Hannah and her sister, Gina, as they navigate the choppy waters of love… will they sink or swim?

    Soulmates don’t just fall from the sky… do they?

    Hannah Meadows doesn’t believe in fate or destiny, or any of the other things people reach for when they lose control of their lives. That is, until a man arrives on her doorstep on Christmas Day begging for help. Hannah’s not the sort of woman to turn her back on someone in need, but this isn’t what compels her to aid the handsome stranger, nor is it his intense dark eyes, or the inexplicable feelings she quickly develops for him.

    Something magical is coming her way, something that will turn her life completely upside down. Hannah Meadows may not believe in fate or destiny, but they seem to have other ideas…

    '...a wonderful read with a bubbly, unique and fresh style of writing' Sky’s Book Corner

    'Tilly makes her characters so relatable that you can’t help but fall in love with them' Starcrossed Reviews

    My Thoughts:

    The Accidental Guest is a real corker. You have to hand it to Tilly she certainly knows how to put an amusing spin on a turn of events. Her chatty prose leaps from the page and there isn’t a dull moment. The characters are interesting and easy to emphasize with. At 80 pages the book is short but packed with story. It is a real pageturner.

    Tilly gently takes the reader by the hand and together we embark on an intriguing journey of discovery making this book feel initially more a mystery than a romance. Three single women are spending Christmas together. Hannah, her sister Gina and Gina's daughter Jess are making dinner on Christmas day and generally goofing around when there is a knock at the door.

    How the characters interact with each other is very amusing. I really enjoyed both the way the story evolved and new characters are introduced. It made me chuckle and left me with a big grin on my face.

    This is both my first Tilly Tennent and my first experience of reading in installments. Whilst Tilly didn’t disappoint, I discovered I don’t have the patience to read in installments. Just as I was getting into the story it ended abruptly and on a cliffhanger. This definitely is not a book, which can be read alone; it is the first installment of a new series.

    If you are a Tilly Tennent fan you are in for a treat.

    Recommended.

    What others are saying:

    Jack's Reviews - "Tilly writes so well, whilst I was reading this I started to think it really was Christmas day, and found myself craving turkey, a crackling fire and lots of chocolate!

    Grass Monster - "Loved this by Tilly Tennant, so much so i had to finish it which left me going to bed at 2am.

    Hilda D. - "Tilley provides the reader a gripping story with developed characters, well written plot, twists and turns, funny dialogue and heart wrenching ending. I can’t wait to read the next book.

  • Format: Kindle
  • Author: Tilly Tennant
  • Release Date: 5th November 2015
  • Pages: 80
  • Genres: Romantic Comedy
  • In her own words: Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset, the oldest of four children, but now lives in Staffordshire with a family of her own. After years of dismal and disastrous jobs, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing (she never could carry a bowl of soup without spilling a bit), she decided to indulge her passion for the written word by embarking on a degree in English and creative writing, graduating in 2009 with first class honours. She wrote her first novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and has not stopped writing since. She also works as a freelance fiction editor, and considers herself very lucky that this enables her to read many wonderful books before the rest of the world gets them.

    Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was her debut novel; published in 2014 it was an Amazon bestseller in both the UK and Australia. It was followed by Mishaps and Mistletoe and The Man Who Can't Be Moved. Find out more about Tilly and how to join her mailing list for news and exclusives at www.tillytennant.com

    Connect with the Author:
    Website | Facebook | Twitter

    Monday, 30 November 2015

    Review: Return of the Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan

    Today, I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Susan Buchanan‘s new book Return of the Christmas Spirit which was released only yesterday. A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review. Please keep reading to the end of my review as there is not one but two fabulous giveaways for you to enter!

    I have always been in love with the idea of Christmas and really enjoy watching all the Christmas movies in the run up to the big day. For me curling up on the sofa with the spirit of Christmas and Scrooge is as much part of Christmas as Turkey and mince pies. This book captures the essence of that.

    Christmas is just around the corner when Star begins working at Butterburn library, but not everyone is embracing the spirit of the season.

    Sixteen-year-old Arianna’s mock exams are looming and she’s feeling under pressure. With her father living abroad and her mother working three jobs, she doesn’t have much support at home.

    The bank is threatening to repossess Evan’s house, and he has no idea how he’s going to get through Christmas with two children who are used to getting everything they want.

    Patricia’s clichĂ© of a husband, after 23 years of marriage, has announced he’s moving out of the family home, and moving in with his secretary.

    Daniel is doing the work of three people in his sales job, as well as looking after his kids and his wife. Pulled in too many different directions, he’s feeling stressed out.

    Can Star, the library’s Good Samaritan, help set them on the path to happiness this Christmas?

    My Thoughts:

    Capturing the true spirit of Christmas this is a delightful book. Not too long and not too short at 150 odd pages it is ideal to relax and curl up with a cup of chocolate or glass of wine in the busy run up to Christmas.

    Star the new librarian isn’t who she appears to be. Her timely arrival before Christmas touches all around her but in particular the lives of Patricia her boss and Evan, Daniel and Arianna who frequent the library. With a kind word and a little magic here and there she transforms the library and brings happiness into their lives.

    It is very cleverly written; the character and plot development are excellent. Susan successfully takes four seemingly separate and unrelated stories and weaves them together. The characters were very easy to empathise with and I found myself really rooting for each of them. The pace was good, making it a real page turner.

    This book also surprised me because it had more depth than I’d anticipated. There are some clear messages contained here about being true to yourself, the value of family and persistence.

    This is the second book featuring the Christmas Spirit but stands well on its own. It refers only briefly to the first title “The Christmas Spirit” published in 2013, which I have not read. Had I read it; I would have really appreciated the way this book skillfully linked back to the previous one giving a glimpse into the lives of the characters from that book this Christmas. I look forward to a third book in the series, which will hopefully do the same for Patricia, Evan, Daniel and Arianna.

    Will definitely get you into the Christmas spirit....loved it ...

    What others are saying:

    Nothing yet but there is plenty of praise for "The Christmas Spirit"

    ThisChickReads - "I adore Susan's writing style and how each of the character's stories intertwined creating one beautiful, layered tale about love, friendship and family"

  • Format: ebook
  • Author: Susan Buchanan
  • Release Date: 29th November 2015
  • Genres: Contemporary Fiction
  • GIVEAWAY
    There are 2 giveaways associated with this tour
    Visit Susan’s blog at www.susancbuchanan.blogspot.co.uk, where there will be a Rafflecopter giveaway for a £10/$15 Amazon voucher for the duration of the tour and the launch day itself.
    Plus
    Enter the tour giveaway here to win an ecopy (x2) of Susan’s book THE DATING GAME

    Susan Buchanan lives in Central Scotland with her partner, Tony, and their two children. She is the author of three other novels: The Christmas Spirit, The Dating Game, and Sign of the Times. Return of the Christmas Spirit is her fourth book. She is currently working on her fifth book, What If.

    Susan is also a proofreader, editor, and translator, and when not working, writing, or caring for her two delightful cherubs, loves reading, the theatre, quiz shows, and eating out - not necessarily in that order!

    Connect with the Author:
    Website | Facebook | Twitter

    Sunday, 15 November 2015

    Review: Chez Stinky by Susan C. Daffron

    Spotted this little gem in Amazon's Top Free 100, the good news is that it is currently also free in Kobo and Nook format. Published in 2013 it is the first in a series but can also be read alone.

    Kat Stevens is a slightly insecure, mostly bored technical writer who likes her cat a lot more than her boss. She hasn’t laid eyes on her great aunt Abigail since she was eight, so she’s stumped when she inherits Abigail’s house in the small hamlet of Alpine Grove.

    Kat’s uncomplicated life gets decidedly less so when she discovers the inheritance comes with some hairy conditions: four dogs and five cats that her aunt wanted her to love as her own. Of course, the house smells like a barn–with a touch of antique skunk–and, naturally, has serious roof issues. And that’s before the three-legged cat gets stuck in the wall and the shower goes kablooey.

    When Kat meets Joel, an unemployed techie type with no love lost for his sister, Kat looks past his obvious flaws, given his timely and desirable skill set: a talent for fixing things (and his own tools).

    Despite out-of-control dogs, cat fights, dust dinosaurs, massive spiders and an old grizzled hippie passed out in the yard, Kat discovers the tranquility of the forests of Alpine Grove starting to seep into her soul.

    And why she can’t she stop thinking about Joel?

    Note: Chez Stinky is a full-length novel (300 pages/80,000 words) that is Book #1 of the Alpine Grove Romantic Comedies. It's a feel-good novel that appeals to people who enjoy a little light romance and quirky animal stories.

    My Thoughts:

    This isn't typical of what I normally read but I really enjoyed 'All Dogs go To Kevin by Jessica Vogel' and 'Lawyer for the Dog by Lee Robinson' so was open to another pet story. Personally I didn't like the cover or the title, but the "Chez Stinky" title tickled my curiosity enough to read the book description and download this book. As it turned out I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed this warm and amusing escapist title. Written in 2013 and set in 1995 it is a nice light and relaxing read.

    Kat is a bored and under-appreciated Technical Author who inherits a home in the country. With the odds stacked increasingly against her in the city she moves to Alpine Grove where she makes plans for her new life. But before she can implement them she needs to sort out a few obstacles in her path. The first of which is getting rid of the awful smell and making the house habitable.

    Packed with interesting details and situations this is fun read. Whilst the plot is simple and the pace relaxed it is also very entertaining. I liked that this was more than just another romantic comedy; it is a nice story about family too. It is an intriguing read with romance, humour, a little mystery with great characters and a great location thrown in.

    The description of the house and its inhabitants are lovely and provided the escapist read I was hoping for. All the featured cats and dogs have such lovely and quirky personalities. Once I got into this book I found it hard to put down and was sorry when it ended.

    The first of a current series of seven, I am looking forward to reading more about the inhabitants of Alpine Grove.

    Recommend for pet lovers and readers who love a quirky clean romance.

    What others are saying:

    Chick Lit Plus - "The book was easy to get immersed in, and the characters of Chez Stinky are full of personality and so fun to read about.

    StephTheBookWorm - "I really enjoyed this one and love that it featured animals so heavily. If you’re a fan of chick lit or animals, two things that I personally love, then check this one out! I’d highly recommend it!"

  • Format: ebook and paperback
  • Author: Susan C. Daffron
  • Publisher: Magic Fur Press (September 23, 2013)
  • Thursday, 12 November 2015

    Review: What Rosie Found Next by Helen J Rolfe

    Today, I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Helen J Rolfe‘s new book What Rosie Found Next. A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review. Please keep reading to the end of my review as there is a fabulous giveaway for you to enter!

    A shaky upbringing has left Rosie Stevens craving safety and security. She thinks she knows exactly what she needs to make her life complete – the stable job and perfect house-sit she’s just found in Magnolia Creek. The only thing she wants now is for her long-term boyfriend, Adam, to leave his overseas job and come home for good.

    Owen Harrison is notoriously nomadic, and he roars into town on his Ducati for one reason and one reason only – to search his parents’ house while they’re away to find out what they’ve been hiding from him his entire life. When he meets Rosie, who refuses to quit the house-sit in his parents’ home, sparks fly.

    Secrets are unearthed, promises are broken, friendships are put to the test and the real risk of bushfires under the hot Australian sun threatens to undo Rosie once and for all.

    Will Rosie and Owen find what they want or what they really need?

    My Thoughts:

    Set in Australia, this is an interesting book in which Rosie has to decide what is important. Rosie is engaged to Adam who is the safe choice and offers security. Like a glass of good burgundy it is full bodied, full of flavour and to be savoured. Once opened the desire to finish it in one sitting is hard to resist.

    Rosie needs to allow herself to be happy. When Owen enters her life she starts to develop doubts about Adam. In the beginning she had admired Adam for his ambition, how he knew exactly what he wanted in life and took every opportunity to go for it. But his dreams are different to hers, Rosie wants the simple life. She’d always been independent but for some reason she’d let Adam take control. Adam assuming they want the same things doesn’t ask her what she wants for their future. Rosie knows what she wants, but is it what she needs?

    Owen too is on a journey of discovery; something doesn’t add up. His parents are being evasive but he is determined in their absence to discover the truth. There is also more to Owen than meets the eye.

    I really enjoyed this book; both characters have great chemistry, are substantial, interesting and well developed. The plot too has plenty of surprises and whilst Adam’s character is less developed than Owens I enjoyed the way contrasts were drawn both between their personalities and their relationship with Rosie.

    The book has a good plot; the love triangle provides the continuity but is only part of it. The setting in Magnolia Creek is charming despite the ever present bush fire risk. This is my first book by this author but having enjoyed it so much I will be looking out for more.

    Recommended.

    What others are saying:

    RatherTooFondOfBooks - "I really enjoyed this novel, it was different to what I had been expecting but I loved that parts of it surprised me. It has a real depth to it and I became so invested in these characters and was really willing them on to find happiness.

  • Format: ebook and paperback
  • Author: Helen J Rolfe
  • Publisher: Fabrian Books; 1 edition (3 Nov. 2015)
  • Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women's fiction. She enjoys weaving stories about family, relationships, friendships, love, and characters who face challenges and fight to overcome them. Her books feature strong female lead characters and although her stories often deal with serious issues, they always have a happy ending.

    Helen has a Business degree and worked as a Computer Programmer before realising her dream in 2003 of being a writer. After pursuing a career in journalism and having written for women's health and fitness magazines she is now the author of two published novels "The Friendship Tree and "Handle Me With Care" published in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

    Born and raised in the UK, Helen spent fourteen years living in Australia before returning home. She now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and children.

    Her passions next to reading and writing include yoga, Pilates and chocolate.

    Connect with the Author:
    Website | Facebook | Twitter

    Tuesday, 3 November 2015

    The Broken Hearts Book Club by Lynsey James

    This book has been on my TBR list for a while, who good resist a book with such a gorgeous cover.

    Secrets never stay buried for long...

    Lucy Harper has always been good at one thing: running from her past. But when her beloved Nana Lily passes away she has no choice except to return to the one place in the world she most wants to avoid...

    Luna Bay hasn't changed much in the eight years she has spent in London. The little Yorkshire village is still just as beautiful, but the new pub landlord is a gorgeous addition to the scenery!

    Lucy only intended to stay for a day, yet when she discovers that Nana Lily has not only left her a cottage but also 'The Broken Hearts Book Club', Lucy is intrigued. Her Nana never have mentioned the club and Lucy can't wait to get started, but walking into her first meeting she is more aware than ever that her past is finally catching up with her.

    One way or another, Lucy must finally face the secrets she's kept buried for so long - or spend the rest of her life on the run...

    My Thoughts:

    I really enjoyed this relaxing, feel good read. There was so much lot I liked about this book. I really liked the plot and the teasing nature of the writing, but I loved the opening. The opening immediately sparked my curiosity and fuelled my need to know more. I quickly warmed to Lucy, she was easy to empathise with. The story was told from her perspective, her character was well developed and grew as the story progressed.

    Lucy returns after an eight year absence to attend her beloved nana's funeral. Whilst the reasons behind her absence is hinted at throughout it is in the closing chapters when we find out the truth. She had only planned on staying a few days but having been left "Rose Cottage" in nana's will she decides to stay.

    The general theme is moving on and the love interest is not without complications. Lucy has spent her life running away it is time for her to take a stand and leave the past behind.

    "If you give up, you'll always be wondering what would've happened if you'd tried.
    Trust me that is worse than falling on your face."
    All together this is lovely well written light and relaxing read. Set in Yorkshire, Luna Bay sounds like a great place to live. It is somewhere you can easily escape to and lose yourself in. I really enjoyed the way we were introduced to the village, it's pub, residents and local shops. It was nice reading their stories and seeing how Lucy tried to help them, even when her efforts seemed in vain. My only criticism is that I missed the voice of the other key characters who were less developed. Personally I would have liked the story to have been told from different perspectives as well as Lucy's. I would have liked to get to know George better too who featured heavily in the first half of the book and am hoping there is a serial in the works. Rumour has it that Lynsey quiet fancies a trip back to Luna Bay...

    Recommended.

    (Review copy gratefully received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.)

    What others are saying:

    Rachels Random Reads - "The Broken Hearts Book Club is a fantastic book, which has a lovely story and a lovely location in Luna Bay.

    What the author is saying:

    Lynsey James as guest blogger on Hello ChicLit - "My second novel The Broken Hearts Book Club is set in a gorgeous little place called Luna Bay. It’s a village on the Yorkshire coast ...."

  • Format: ebook
  • Author: Lynsey James
  • Publisher: Carina; 1 edition (12 Oct. 2015)
  • Connect with the Author:
    Blog | Facebook | Twitter

    Friday, 30 October 2015

    Review: The Mince Pie Mix-Up by Jennifer Joyce

    Do you love mince pies? I do, so was immediately attracted to this new title.

    ‘I wish I could live your life. I’d happily swap lives with you.’

    ’Tis the season to be jolly but for Calvin and Judy the usual festive bickering has already begun! Judy’s convinced that her husband has it easy – no glittery wrapping paper, no playground gossip and absolutely no Christmas baking.

    Calvin wishes he could trade in his obnoxious boss and dull nine-to-five job to spend more time kicking back with his kids – how hard can Judy’s life really be?

    But after a magical mince pie mix-up, one thing’s for certain – by Christmas Day, life for Judy and Calvin will never be the same again. Perhaps the grass isn’t always greener after all…

    A hilarious, feel-good festive read, perfect to curl up with this Christmas. Fans of Carole Matthews, Jane Costello and Mandy Baggot will love this story!

    My Thoughts:

    Be careful what you wish for this Christmas; Another bake off inspired title but with a subtle difference. Judy wife to Calvin and mother to their two children loves to bake, not that she has much time to enjoy it.

    Don't judge someone before you've walked a mile in their shoes.
    This story is a nice twist on an old favourite. Both Calvin and Judy are tired and both convinced that the other is getting an easy ride in comparison and make a wish.
    "I wish I could live your life. I’d happily swap lives with you."
    Whilst their initial reactions are understandably stereotyped the book quickly gets into it's own. This book is very amusing, the characters well developed and easy to relate to. I really like the Christmas angle which sets it apart. Scrooge too was a nice touch tying in well with the Christmas theme.

    I really enjoyed the character development as each made mistakes but utilised their own personal strengths in their new role and learned to appreciate their spouse. Yes it was cliche and sometimes very predictable but there were some nice surprises too and I really enjoyed it.

    Grab a couple of mince pies and a mulled wine and get into the Christmas spirit. Curl up with "The Mince Pie Mic-Up" this Christmas.

    Recommended.

    (A big thank you to Carina and NetGalley for providing a pre-release digital copy in exchange for an honest review.)

    What others are saying:

    Nothing yet, but I will keep my ear to the ground.

  • Format: ebook
  • Author: Jennifer Joyce
  • Publisher: Carina; ePub ed edition (6 Nov. 2015)
  • Connect with the Author:
    Website | Facebook | Twitter

    Wednesday, 28 October 2015

    Review: A Step In Time by Kerry Barrett

    Can't get enough of Strictly.

    The time of her life!

    Following a (totally justified) ugly, public brawl with her love-rat boyfriend, soap star and paparazzi darling Amy Lavender's TV career is over.

    Her agent assures her that winning a glitzy dancing TV competition will put Amy back on top. But Amy has two left feet, and her hot dance partner Patrick seems to think that she's behaving like a superficial spoiled brat (also totally justified).

    At rock bottom, Amy is now living in a rented room when she encounters her upstairs neighbour, an elegant older lady with a mysterious, tragic air who knows more than a thing or two about the foxtrot.

    But it'll take more than a couple of dance lessons to get Amy back on the leaderboard and ready to cha cha cha her way to glitterball glory!

    Carina.

    My Thoughts:

    I absolutely love this book. Set in London against a Strictly backdrop it is as gorgeous as a perfectly performed American Smooth. This book literally has it all. What started out as a quick peek lasted a lot longer because I was hooked from the first page and couldn't put it down. This is a book about living life to the full, following your dreams and being true to yourself whilst empathising with others.

    Just like Amy there is far more to this book than glitter and sparkle. Another story runs throughout the book; Cora's story. Cora now in her nineties lost the man she loved at the end of war. It is the combination of both of these stories set against the Strictly glitter and glamour which gives it depth and makes this book so magical.

    On the outside Amy seems to have it all. A buffed boyfriend, celebrating lifestyle and a good part in a soap. Amy has always loved acting but as she finds herself drawn more and more into the celebrity lifestyle she loses contact with her dream of being a serious actress. I really liked Amy she was so easy to emphasise with. Amy has two left feet but when she loses both her boyfriend and her job she accepts a place on Strictly. With no job and nowhere to live she acquires a low rent apartment agreeing to keep an eye on the old lady upstairs. Amy is walking disaster but there is more to Amy than meets the eye. Partnered with the equally buffed Patrick a love triangle of sorts emerges.

    This is my first Kerry Bennet but it is so well written with a great plot, easy dialogue and well developed characters that I will be looking for more by this author.

    'You messed it up a bit at the beginning,' he said.
    'But you got it back and you delivered.
    Amy Lavender, I smell something very sweet with you.'

    There aren't enough stars for this fun, deeper than expected witty and relaxing read.
    Highly recommended.

    (A digital review copy gratefully received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)

    What others are saying:

    Fiona via GoodReads - "This was a really enjoyable, funny read. It features a show based on Strictly Come Dancing which is currently on TV, making it extremely relevant."

    Ann via GoodReads - "I liked the way Cora's story was interspersed with Amy.'s and a tear in my eye on more than one occasion! As for the winner of the dance show - you'll have to be patient and read the book!"

  • Format: ebook
  • Author: Kerry Barrett
  • Publisher: Carina (19 Oct. 2015)
  • Connect with the Author:
    Website | Facebook | Twitter

    Monday, 19 October 2015

    Review: Lotus by Kay W. Smith

    Kay Smith is on tour October 19-26 with her novel Lotus, visit CLP Blog Tours for details of all the tour stops.
    Shellyback books is delighted to be kicking off the tour by hosting the first stop.

    Saying ‘I do’ is easy. Deciding who to spend forever with can be a little complicated.

    Newlywed Lotus Price has everything that she should have ever wanted: a great husband and a dream job as an executive of Chicago’s most prominent philanthropic foundation. Her pre-planned future seemed to be gift-wrapped in a perfect bow, until the day she discovers she is pregnant and runs into her first love. Despite his offer to be friends, Lotus tries to keep the past where it belongs. As the pregnancy begins to interrupt the dream that Lotus envisioned for her marriage, she is forced to rethink everything she thought she knew, including the single day that led her to her husband and away from the man she saw herself spending forever with.

    Ultimately, the one question which will remain is who will be willing to give up what they have in order to get what they have always desired? In the end, the scars that each of them thought were long buried will resurface to reveal the single event that changed each of their lives forever.

    My Thoughts:

    This debut novel is powerful and thought provoking. It is about choice, the ability to forgive and ultimately what is most important in love and life. For its size this is quiet a substantial book, at a 180 pages it isn't a long book but is packed with quality content and story. I found this title very hard to put down and read it in a single sitting.

    Lotus pregnant with her first child, married to her best friend finds herself in a love triangle when an old flame the man she can't forget re-enters her life in a chance encounter. Lotus needs to ask herself why she can't let go of someone who hurt her, and why she is willing to lose a person who has proven he loves her.

    The character development in this book is extremely good. At first when we are introduced to Lotus, her husband and former lover the temptation is to take each at face value. As the book progresses we learn more about each character, their motivation and insecurities. It is this character development which makes the book so interesting and thought provoking.

    My first impression of Lotus and her husband were not good, but gradually i warmed to both. Lotus cried tears at her wedding for another man with whom she was obviously still in love. Her husband came over as more interested in his career than his wife and child. In contrast i found it easy to empathise with her former lover who is now a doctor and despite his failings came over as sympathetic and far less selfish and self-centred.

    Gradually we learn about the past and how much the death of her sister impacted her life, how grief colours our vision and effects our choices.

    I got more than I bargained for when I opened this book. Amazon lists this book under romance but make no mistake this isn't your typical romance or women's fiction title. The ending really surprised me. It's potential for discussion makes this is an ideal choice for a book club read, the questions in the back of the book providing a good starting point for discussion. As the story drew to a close I personally was left with the following questions to ponder.

    Is it true that

  • love is about giving up many things to be with the person you love?
  • the past doesn't matter because the only thing which matters is today?
  • Should Lotus sacrifice what she knows she needs for what she thinks she wants?

    Highly recommended.

    What others are saying:

    IndieReader - “The revelations tied to Lotus’ fate are done slowly and masterfully and the fullest portrait of the situation is only illuminated in the final pages….A portrait of a woman at a crossroads, LOTUS is an unflinching look at marriage, secrets, and loss.”

    Jersey Girl Book Reviews - "riveting and realistic portrayal of the complications of life and love... hard to put down... mixture of drama, emotion, and humour ... will simply leave you wanting more.

    This side of Paradise books - "I couldn’t put this book down... Every woman imagines what could have been but not many get a second chance to find out…"

    Polished and Bubbly - "This is one of those stories that just makes sense ... the writing is so flawless, it seems seamless. Lotus is ... so well developed ... She's one of those characters you feel a connection with."

  • Format: ebook and paperback
  • Author: Kay W. Smith
  • Publisher: Self published (14 July 2015)
  • kay smith

    Kay W. Smith is a writer and blogger living in Chicago, Illinois with her husband and two sons.

    She worked in public policy for several years before pursuing her passion to write full-time. In addition to writing she also teaches a quarterly seminar focused on the fundamentals of successful blogging and provides guidance on how to effectively write on socially-sensitive and controversial topics.

    She is a graduate of Spelman College and the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

    Connect with the Author:
    Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

    Blog Tour:

  • October 19 – Shellyback Books
  • October 20 – Polished & Bubbly
  • October 20 – This Side of Paradise
  • October 22 – Cindy Arora
  • October 23 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews
  • October 26 – Granny Loves to Read
  • October 26 – Two Children and a Migraine
  • Wednesday, 14 October 2015

    Excerpt: Girl Code - Anthology of 4 stories: HOPE, LIVE, FAITH and PERSISTENCE Jessica Jayne, Lea Brosen, Cait Jarrod, DC Stone

    This one is for charity. All proceeds from sales are being donated to The Wounded Warrior Project.

    Four best friends struggle with decisions that affect their lives, their hearts, and their futures. As sisters, they embrace the Girl Code.

    All proceeds from sales are being donated to The Wounded Warrior Project.

    Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/0qF5HnFUKvE

    Available at Amazon and AmazonUK

    Genre: erotic romance, contemporary romance,
    romantic suspense

    Date of Publication: July 31, 2015

    Josephine "Joey" Lockhart escapes her past, herself and her home town of Pearl, Ohio to Florida after high school. Years later, she meets a man that refuses to let her hide behind her camera lens and encourages her out of her shell. Will he be the one to push her to feel for the first time?

    Deep in thought, he hadn’t noticed Joey inching her way toward the garage until it was too late. She stood in front of him holding the hose nozzle like she was about to shoot a pistol, with a shit-eating grin.
    “Don’t you fucking dare.” His helmet muffled his warning, but the cocked eyebrow indicated she’d heard him just fine.
    “Or what?”
    He flipped off his helmet and tossed it away from the ATV so the inevitable water fight didn’t ruin it. He turned off the four-wheeler and stashed the key in his pocket. “Do you really want to find out?”
    “Maybe I do,” she sassed him, and he chuckled. He liked this playful, ballsy side of her. He’d had a glimpse of it a few times over the months, but she always tried to keep it in check. Today—however, she was balls to the wall.
    “Then go for it. I dare you. I triple dog fucking dare you.” He stood with a foot on each platform straddling the ATV with his hands resting on the handlebars. She pushed the trigger. Hot water pelted him in the chest as the hose cleared the water that had been sitting in the line all day. Two seconds later, cold water showered him, hitting him in the face, the chest, and she even had the audacity to aim for his groin.
    Hurdling over the ATV, his feet splashed in the mud created by her water escapade. Screaming, she dropped the hose and ran through his back yard. He followed. She had some speed. He’d give her that. All the running she did at the beach paid off, but he was faster.
    In ten strides, he wrapped an arm around her middle. Her legs dangled in the air as he swung her around and walked her back to the garage area.
    “Stop, Talon! Stop!” She kicked and wriggled attempting to escape, but he tightened his hold.
    “I warned you, didn’t I?” Still holding her with one arm, he bent and swiped the hose off the ground.
    “Talon Manness! You wouldn’t,” she shrieked.
    “You don’t know me too well then, Sweetness.” He held the nozzle as far as his arm could stretch so as not to hurt her from the force of the water. Squeezing the trigger, he sprayed her hair until not a single strand remained dry, and brown rivulets streaked her face and arms from the mud. Then, he targeted her tank top, before releasing his hold on her and aiming the nozzle at her lower body. She dashed in the direction of a tree, but wasn’t quick enough to avoid getting the back of her pants drenched.
    “Truce,” she yelled from behind the tree. She peeked around. Her hair hung in matted clumps. Black smudged under her eyes from her mascara. He snickered, and sprayed in her direction again. Her head ducked behind.
    “Come on out, Joey. This hose can stretch pretty far. I don’t want to come out and get you, but I will.”
    “I’m already soaking wet.” Her voice sounded shrill.
    “Then getting wetter should be no big deal.”
    “I can’t get any wetter. It’s a waste of your time.” She peeked around the other side of the tree, and he blasted her again. “Arrggh!”
    Jessica is a born and raised small town Ohio girl, who moved to the Sunshine State after graduating from college. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in English because she could not imagine doing anything else but reading and writing.
    In the journey of life, she obtained her law degree (and bar license) and also became a wife and a mother of three children. So, life is always an adventure.

    Website: www.jessicajayne.com/blog

    Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6545547.Jessica_Jayne

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Jessica-Jayne/388268367912903

    Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thejessicajayne/

    Twitter: @JessicaJayne13

    Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Jayne/e/B00BTIL6V4/

    After seven years in drug hell, detoxing Juliette "Juls" Carrington returns to her hometown Pearl to attend her grandmother's burial. Once more rejected by her family, she has a swim in a pond nearby when a mysterious camper, an ex-drunk, coaxes her to come to his hut in the woods. Together they must fight their inner demons for a chance to love...and live.
    Lea Bronsen likes her reads fast, hot, and edgy, and strives to give her own stories the same intensity. After venturing into dirty inner-city crime drama with her debut novel Wild Hearted, she divides her writing time between psychological thriller, romantic suspense, and erotic contemporary romance.

    Selena Bodine escaped into the United States Air Force to leave behind a painful past and the one man who she refused to let herself love. Years later, an urgent call from her father brings her back to Pearl, Ohio and face to face with the man she still loves. But will the secret that Cullen is investigating her threaten their second chance?
    From writing ‘every girl’s dream heroes’ to ‘strong, down-to-earth heroines,’ Cait Jarrod twists ‘cliff hanging plots’ and ‘clever, unpredictable sub-plots’. She loves diving into a good book as much as she loves writing one. Mother of three gorgeous daughters, she’s married to her best friend, hangs out with a great group of women—the WWC, and loves a good glass of wine.

    Laydi Michaels has been running away from her past and bad memories for years. Finding herself wasn’t an easy task, but she’s managed to finally get to a point to where she wants to be. Only to wake up married to her boss….who fired her the night before. Wrapped in a case that puts her life in danger, and dealing with a grave situation back home in Pearl, Laydi figures out she wasn’t close to finding herself, and now, she’s risked everything.
    DC Stone has over sixteen years of investigative experience, including working as a criminal investigator in the United States military anda private investigator. Currently, she works as an internal affairs investigator by day and a romantic suspense author by night. She has herMaster’s degree in Criminal Justice and is dubbed, “The Investigative Whisper.” Commonly called upon to act as an expert witness, she also trains with local, state, and federal law enforcement officers. She provides numerous workshops that help authors gain insight into “digging” into a character’s mind to better understand motives, create suspense, and help maintain conflict.


    When she isn’t trying to solve a new puzzle in the world of fraud, she is engulfed with coffee, her laptop, and all those crazy characters in her head. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hudson Valley Romance Writers, RomVets, RWA Kiss of Death, and the Liberty State Fiction Writers. She served as the 2014 Vice President and Conference Chair for NJRW.
    Find her on Facebook, Twitter, or her at www.authordcstone.com.




    Sunday, 11 October 2015

    Review: The Runaway Bridesmaid by Daisy James

    Having read and enjoyed several titles featuring runaway wives and mothers, I was immediately attracted to "The Runaway Bridesmaid" as a nice twist on a familiar theme only to my delight discover the great British Bake Off ripple effect.

    What a girl wants…

    Squeezing herself into a frothy, flouncy, bubble-gum pink dress, Rosie Hamilton thinks that being a bridesmaid for her spoilt little sister Freya can’t get any worse. But discovering her boyfriend in a cupboard with the bride, ten minutes before Freya is due to say ‘I do’, is the icing on the sequinned wedding cake – and Rosie’s cue to pack her bags.

    Swapping her Louboutins for Wellingtons, Rosie throws her bridesmaid bouquet in the air and flies from bustling New York to sleepy Devon. Her late Aunt Bernice’s cosy countryside cottage is the only place that’s ever felt like home. Now, for the first time in her life, and with the help of her beloved Aunt’s diaries, Rosie must put herself first for a change – and decide what she really wants…

    A delightful romance, perfect for fans of Sophie Hart and Lindsey Kelk!

    My Thoughts:

    Attracted by the title, I really enjoyed this book which was as amusing as its delightful cover. At first sight it appeared to be well written and pretty standard chic-lit but quickly transformed into a warm and witty story. Dating your boss is never a good idea especially if he is a cheating weasel. Rosie having taken on the mothering role to her younger sister when their mother died also needs to put herself first for a change and concentrate on her own happiness.

    Despite having spent months organising the perfect wedding for her needy younger sister a series of unfortunate events cause her to flee the scene. Out of respect for her favourite and now dead aunt she makes the journey alone to visit her funeral and to go to the reading of the will. Despite some really delightful scenes including Rosie in her unsuitable frothy, flouncy, bubble-gum pink dress it was her arrival in the UK that was the turning point for me and where I really started to enjoy the story.

    The character development was good. Rosie was easy to empathise with, got herself into amusing scrapes and very likeable once she started to drop the doormat act. The boys too were fun and full of surprises. Suddenly Rosie has not one but two very attractive eligible bachelors in her life. It was really amusing to see this city girl in the country. Her Aunt and others in the village gave the story body, and the scene with her scones was a hoot.

    Rosie finds herself faced with some serious choices. Life in rural Devon is growing on her. The choice of wellies over stilettos is a hard one but "she realised her precious Louboutons would never have coped and the avoided damage sent shivers down her spine." With two new men in her life Rosie "learns that her decision to stay in Devon may have benefits after all". Charley contrasts sharply with the rich and successful Austin and she has to decide what is most important in life.

    I really this enjoyed reading about Rosie's escape which made me smile. Being a debut novel I obviously haven't read any of her previous work, but this is an author who I will be looking out for in the future.

    Recommended light reading.

    (Digital ARC gratefully received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

    What others are saying:

    Portabellobookblog - "I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel: it was sweet and romantic ... Just the thing when you want a feel-good read to leave you with a smile on your face.

    Splashesintobooks - "This is an outstandingly well written novel. I have to say how great it is to read such a superb story where the author is capable of portraying so much without once having to resort to having her heroine go bed hopping!

  • Format: ebook
  • Author: Daisy James
  • Publisher: Carina (28 Sept. 2015)
  • Wednesday, 7 October 2015

    Review: Look Both Ways by Carol J. Perry

    In the mood for a little light hearted whodunnit with a dusting of paranormal sugar.

    In Salem, Massachusetts, there are secret everywhere--even in the furniture. . .

    When Lee Barrett spots the same style oak bureau she once had as a child on the WICH-TV show, Shopping Salem, she rushes to the antiques shop and buys the piece. Just like the beloved bureau she lost in a fire, this one has secret compartments. It also comes with an intriguing history--it was purchased in an estate sale from a home where a famous local murder took place.

    The day after the bureau is delivered, Lee returns to the antiques shop and finds the owner dead. The police suspect the shop owner's unscrupulous business partner, but Lee wonders if the murder is connected to her new furniture. At least part of the answer may be revealed through a mirror in the bureau, tarnished and blackened, allowing Lee to tap into her psychic visions. Using this bureau of investigation, Lee may be able to furnish her policeman beau with the evidence needed to catch the killer--before the next one to be shut up is her. . .

    My Thoughts:

    Cozy feel good mystery with a paranormal twist. The third in a series set in Salem, Massachusetts; This book stands up well on its own but is so good that you will want to read the whole series.

    Lee Barrett who is furnishing her almost empty apartment is delighted when she finds a bureau which appears to be identical to one lost in a fire. The bureau holds secrets in more more ways than one and forms the pivot in the puzzle, to solve two murders. She is romantically involved with Pete, a local police detective. What Pete doesn't know is that Lee is a “scryer" and still coming to terms with her gift of visions which are messages from the dead and departed.

    Lee works as a teacher at the drama college (Tabitha Trumball Academy Of The Arts) but volunteers for a job over the summer sourcing props for three student productions. With her limited budget and an old but trusty pick-up truck at her disposal this gives her plenty of opportunity to checkout secondhand shops and yard sales. Given her own preference for preloved over new she is easily able to combine her new job with the much needed task of furnishing her apartment.

    This book was a delight to read packed full of interesting characters and situations. I really liked all the characters in this book who were all very easy to relate to. Being set in Salem I really enjoyed too reading about the surroundings and local history which tied in well with the storyline. O'Ryan the cat is absolutely delightful in his role of witches familiar and even seems to have powers of his own.

    The story is a cozy mystery with a light dusting of paranormal to add extra interest making it a mystery first and a paranormal tale second with some romantic interest thrown in for good measure. I found the whodunnit a little predictable but the story was extremely well told with some really nice twists. Boyfriend Pete was more of a mystery than some of the other characters; I hope to get to know him better in the anticipated next instalment.

    This is my first Carol L. Perry novel but I enjoyed it so much that I am planning on reading the previous two books in the series.

    Recommended and a perfect Halloween read.

    What others are saying:

    Kirkus Reviews - "Perry’s fans, who are likely more invested in the sweet character interactions and long-term development than the intrusive question of whodunit, will find this perfectly relaxing and readable."

    Lisa via GoodReads - "I was so intrigued by this storyline that I had to locate the first two in the series so I could catch up on Lee’s previous activities.

    Karen via GoodReads - "The third book is wonderful! Lighter in feel then the first two but so much goes on! Loved it and think this is a fantastic series!


  • Format: ebook and paperback
  • Author: Carol J. Perry
  • Publisher: Kensington (27 Oct. 2015)