Monday, 3 August 2015

July In Pictures

You can see more photos over on Instagram

Friday, 31 July 2015

My Summer Reads: Sunshine and Spaniel (A Novella) by Cressida McLaughlin

Professional dog-walker Cat Palmer's business is really starting to take off. With the help of her friends and flatmates, Polly and Joe, word has spread and she's taken on more clients. When she meets struggling single mum Frankie, Cat wants to help out - and not only with her dog, Olaf.
Sunshine and Spaniels is the second part of Cressida McLaughlin's Primrose Terrace series and I was looking forward to meeting up with Cat and her four-legged friends again. In the first part, I fell in love with puppy Disco, so I was glad she returned in this part too - as well as new, equally adorable dogs.
Although only a novella, there is quite a lot packed into Sunshine and Spaniels and I liked that there were several threads happening, which made for an interesting, fast-paced read. As well as Cat's intention to find a solution for Frankie's problems, there is also the mystery of Paris, an unhappy little papillon who seems scared to go outside and the seeds of a love interest for Cat's friend, Polly.
Cat is a great character and I like that she is always willing to help out her friends and neighbours, even if the problem isn't easily solved. She's fun and caring and obviously dotes on the animals in her care.
Cat's business life is going well, but the same can't be said about her love life. Cat has a crush on her neighbour, Mark and although he shows signs that he likes her too, Cat doesn't know much about him yet, which worries her. There is another potential love interest on the horizon, however, so I'm looking forward to the next part in the series to see how it all works out for Cat.
Sunshine and Spaniels is a lovely, dog-tastic read. I enjoyed getting to know more residents of Primrose Terrace as well as some from further afield in Fairview.
My Summer Reads is a celebration of summer reading, with reviews, giveaways and sunshiny reading habits.


Thursday, 30 July 2015

Book of the Month: July

The Love Shack
by Jane Costello
Life's great when you're 29 years old with a gorgeous girlfriend and fulfilling job. Until you have to move back in with your mum . . .

Dan and Gemma have found their dream first home, but the asking price is the stuff of nightmares. The only way they'll ever save enough for the deposit is by moving in, rent-free, with Dan's mum.

It's a desperate solution, but it's only for six months. And Gemma's determined to
make it work, no matter how bad things get.

But between Dan's mum's kitchen karaoke, her constant innuendos, irrepressible argumentative streak and - worst of all - her ham and pineapple curries, life back at home would test the patience of two saints. Which Dan and Gemma most definitely are not.

Then, as they're trying to convince themselves it will all be worth it, Gemma's past comes back to haunt her. And suddenly the foundations of their entire relationship are shaken to their core…
*     *     *     *     *

The Love Shack is full of laughs as Gemma and Dan move back home with Dan's mum, Belinda. Although Belinda's heart is in the right place, she does have a tendency to incinerate food and her privacy radar is a bit wonky. But she is a wonderful character and created many laugh-out-loud moments.
I loved the premise of the book and could only imagine how Gemma and Dan felt living back in Dan's childhood bedroom with Belinda hovering (however good-naturedly) and able to hear EVERYTHING. For me, The Love Shack had everything I look for in a great romantic comedy; fab characters, bucket loads of humour and a sprinkling of romance.
You can see my full review of The Love Shack here
or click here to see all Books of the Month

Friday, 24 July 2015

My Summer Reads: The Love Shack by Jane Costello

Gemma and Dan have been together for four years and they've finally found their dream home. Pebble Cottage is everything they want in a home, apart from the asking price, which is way above their budget. Gemma can't bear to say goodbye to Pebble Cottage so she hatches a plan that will allow them to buy it; she and Dan will move in with Dan's mum for a few months to save on rent and build up the Pebble Cottage fund.
But life under Belinda's roof isn't easy. She doesn't seem to understand Gemma and Dan's need for privacy and her cooking is atrocious. And as though that wasn't enough to cope with, Gemma is reunited with her first love and she begins to doubt whether her relationship with Dan is as strong as she'd originally thought.
Having recently read (and loved) Jane Costello's novella, The Little Things, I was really looking forward to getting stuck into The Love Shack and I wasn't disappointed at all. The Love Shack is everything I want in a book: fun, laugh-out-loud moments and a sprinkling of romance. The Love Shack had me giggling constantly and I couldn't wait to see how things would pan out with Pebble Cottage. Everybody knows buying a house is stressful but add moving back in with your mum/mother-in-law and you can only imagine the pressure cooker of stress Gemma and Dan must have going through.
I love Jane Costello's style of writing. It has such an easy flow that you find yourself devouring the pages without realising it and she has a knack of creating vibrant yet believable characters. Although Belinda could be a nightmare, I thought she was a fantastic character and her heart is definitely in the right place. She'd do anything to help her son get his foot on the property ladder, even if Dan won't always accept that help. Dan can be quite stubborn when it comes to accepting gifts or loans of money, but you can understand this when you see where he works.
The book is told from alternating chapters from both Gemma and Dan's perspective and I liked this aspect of the book as it gave a rounded view of what was happening and how both were feeling about the progress of the house sale and other events. Although there is a LOT of  humour in the book, there are also some serious and touching scenes.
Full of witty and laugh-out-loud moments, The Love Shack was an absolute delight to read and I loved every single page.

My Summer Reads is a celebration of summer reading, with reviews, giveaways and sunshiny reading habits.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

MSR: Summer Cover Star: The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter

Books, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways
The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP)
by Kate Winter
Falling in love is never simple. Especially when you're dead.

When Rosie Potter wakes up one morning with what she assumes is the world's worst hangover, the last thing she expects is to discover that she's actually dead. With a frustrating case of amnesia, suspicious circumstances surrounding her untimely demise, and stuck wearing her ugliest flannel PJs, Rosie must figure out not only what happened last night, but why on earth she's still here.
*     *     *     *     *
I read The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter a couple of months ago (you can see my review here) so while it isn't on my summer reading list, I did want to include it in the My Summer Reads cover stars because the cover is just so gorgeously summery.

The cover is quite simple, with the focus mainly on the title, but the colours are so vibrant. I love the bright pinks and orange against the pale blue and the flowers add such a pretty touch that definitely reminds me of the summer.

If there's a cover you're bursting to shout out about, let us know by joining in Cover Stars!
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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

#AmWriting Christmas In July

That's right; while the sun has been (mostly) shining, I've been channelling all things festive - mince pies, Santa, reindeer, fairies, snow... you get the picture. It's been almost six months since I've worked on my Christmas novella, but I've dusted her off and dived back in.
It's quite hard channelling all things cold and frosty when the sun is shining so I've needed a little bit of help. While this has mostly taken the form of Christmas music (I LOVE Christmas music so I'm delighted to have an excuse to listen to it mega-early), I've also taken to drinking my cup of writing-enabling tea in a festive mug.
I've also popped a little silver Christmas tree decoration on my pin board, as I thought putting a full-on Christmas tree with decorations in the living room was a *bit* over the top.
I usually listen to North Pole Radio when I'm writing Christmassy things (because it's usually around Christmas) but it's not on up and running at the moment. Luckily, there's lots of Christmas stations on AccuRadio, so I've been making use of those. All I need now is a mince pie...

Friday, 17 July 2015

My Summer Reads: The Cake Shop In The Garden by Carole Matthews

Fay Merryweather was forced to give up her office job with the local council when her mum became ill so that she could care for her round the clock. Although Miranda recovered from her illness, she took to her bed and has refused to re-join the real world ever since. Shackled to the house, Fay sets up a café and cake shop in garden of her canal side home to make some much-needed cash.
Fay takes her responsibilities on the chin, getting on with things without complaint. But when she meets Danny Wilde, a young, carefree man who makes her feel things she's never felt with her long-term boyfriend Anthony, she begins to question the life she has been lumbered with.
I've been looking forward to reading The Cake Shop In The Garden (any book with 'cake' in the title is enticing to me) and I wasn't disappointed. I love the easy reading style of Carole Matthews' books and the way they allow you to relax into the worlds she creates. Canal House and its café sounded like such a wonderful place, with all those delicious cakes and the canal at the bottom of the garden. Reading about all the gorgeous cakes did make me hungry, but it was worth it!
Although I did like Fay, I found her frustrating at times as her mum and her sister put so much pressure - both emotional and financial - on her and I was willing her to stand up for herself more. I really couldn't stand Fay's younger sister, Edie and I was hoping she'd get her comeuppance as she was such a selfish character. On the other hand you have Lija, Fay's assistant at the cake shop and café. While she comes across as abrasive, she's actually loyal and caring underneath the scowl and I adored her. She's such a feisty character and her directness and sharp tongue made me laugh on numerous occasions. I also really liked Stan, a neighbour and daily customer at the café. He was sweet and I liked the friendship between him and Fay.
Although I really enjoyed the book, there was tiny niggle that began to bother me as the book progressed but as it involves a spoiler, I won't say what that niggle was as it would ruin the book for those who haven't read it yet. It didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book as a whole, but it was there in the background for the latter part of the book.
Overall, I thought The Cake Shop In The Garden was a great read with some interesting (and some infuriating) characters. I loved the setting and the array of cakes, not to mention Diggery the dog and his neckerchiefs. It's a perfect read for sitting in the garden in the sunshine.

My Summer Reads is a celebration of summer reading, with reviews, giveaways and sunshiny reading habits.
If you'd like to join in, email me at

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