Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Stay Close To Me by Helen Warner



Widow Jennifer is still trying to come to terms with losing her husband two years ago. She felt like she and Michael were soul mate, sharing passion and friendship as well as love for their daughters, Kate and Amy. But a face from the past brings back some painful memories and makes Jennifer reassess her life with Michael and the secret she has been keeping for over thirty years.

Amy leads a dream life. Married to successful businessman, Ben, Amy spends her days shopping and meeting friends for lunch before returning home to the children and the nanny. She doesn’t have to work or worry about money. Until one day when Ben doesn’t return home. Worried, Amy does a little digging and realises her luxurious lifestyle is about to come crashing down.

Kate doesn’t lead quite the same pampered lifestyle as her younger sister. Her dream of following in her parents’ footsteps and becoming a doctor were scuppered when she fell pregnant while at university, forcing her to drop out of her course. Now Kate is a nurse and married to Miles, juggling work with caring for their two children. Kate loves Miles but all the fire seems to have vanished from their relationship. Kate doesn’t feel at all appreciated or cherished by Miles so she is flattered when she starts to receive attention from another man. Jack is handsome and wealthy and there is a mutual attraction between the pair. Kate can’t seem to stay away from Jack but is she really willing to risk her marriage for a bit of passion with a near stranger?

Over the course of a year, the three women’s lives change irrevocably. Lives crumble as secrets are revealed but there are also fresh starts, new relationships are forged and long forgotten dreams are reignited.

Stay Close To Me centres around one family but there is plenty of drama going on; Jennifer’s past resurfacing, the crumble of Amy’s lavish lifestyle and Kate’s turmoil over Jack. I wasn’t sure I was going to like Amy to begin with as she was so spoilt. She didn’t work yet she employed a nanny to take care of her children, even when they spent most of the day at school. I was almost willing the rug to be whipped out from under her feet just to teach her a lesson. I have to say, however, that Amy did grow on me and she coped with her new circumstances remarkably well. There are times when she loses her temper, when she could have been more understanding but it must have been a scary and frustrating time for her so I can see why her emotions boiled over occasionally.

Some of the threads within the story were a little predictable but it didn’t hinder the enjoyment of the book. I really enjoyed delving into Jennifer’s past, uncovering the circumstances surrounding her secret and it was nice to see Amy growing as a person, moving far beyond the spoilt, vacuous woman she once was. I could also understand the lure of Jack for Kate. Miles was quite difficult and stubborn and they didn’t lead much of a life so the prospect of a wild fling with Jack was thrilling but it would also come with dire consequences for her family.

Stay Close To Me is a story of keeping secrets from those closest to you and the fallout created when those secrets are exposed.



Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy to review

Monday, 28 January 2013

Book Of The Month - January

 
I've read some fantastic books since starting this blog and I'd like to give some of them a bit more recognition. So I've decided to add a new feature to the blog and give a special mention to one outstanding book each month. Feel free to add your thoughts of the chosen book in the comments below or even recommend an outstanding book of your own.

January
 

'You are a remarkable woman and you deserve all the happiness, contentment and love in the world. I, for one, know that I have never met anyone quite like you.'

When Rose Pritchard turns up on the doorstep of a Cumbrian B&B it is her last resort. She and her seven-year-old daughter Maddie have left everything behind. And they have come to the village of Millthwaite in search of the person who once offered Rose hope.

Almost immediately Rose wonders if she's made a terrible mistake - if she's chasing a dream - but she knows in her heart that she cannot go back. She's been given a second chance - at life, and love - but will she have the courage to take it?



I've read some great books this month but Dearest Rose stood out for me because it was so touching. The story of Rose and her tragic life was emotional yet inspiring and there was a fantastic range of characters to get to know. You can see my full review here 


Click here to see all 'Books Of The Month'.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Book Of The Month


I've read some fantastic books since starting this blog and I'd like to give some of them a bit more recognition. So I've decided to add a new feature to the blog and give a special mention to one outstanding book each month, starting with January's Book of the Month next week. Feel free to add your thoughts of the chosen book in the comments below or even recommend an outstanding book of your own.


January - Dearest Rose 

February - The Baby Diaries

March - Life After Life

 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman

 


As a little girl, Rose didn’t have the best start in life with an alcoholic father and a mother suffering from depression. By the age of nine, Rose’s father had walked out on the family and her mother was sinking deeper into severe depression, reversing the mother/daughter relationship as she depended on young Rose for care.

By the age of 17, Rose was alone in the world. She wanted nothing more than to be loved and taken care of, part of the family unit she had always craved so when she met Richard shortly before her 18th birthday, Rose finally felt happy.

By the age of 31, Rose is running away from her life, taking her seven year old daughter away from everything and everyone they know, including her husband, Richard. Rose turns up at a Bed and Breakfast in Millthwaite, a town depicted on a postcard Rose received years earlier and kept close to her heart. Despite the late hour, the B&B’s owners take Rose and Maddie in but Rose knows it’s only a matter of time before her old life catches up with her.

Dearest Rose is a deeply moving tale, from Rose’s inadequate childhood to her disturbing marriage and her awkward daughter, Maddie. Rose has always tried to keep her problems from her daughter but her relationship with Richard has obviously taken its toll on their child. I felt for Maddie, whose bluntness often alienates her from other children, but I was glad when she started to form new bonds with people in Millthwaite.

Rose has lived such a difficult life, jumping from one heart breaking moment to the next so Dearest Rose is an emotional read but also gripping, keeping you turning the pages to find out what will happen next and whether Rose will finally find her happy ending. The book is full of big characters, from little Maddie to B&B owner Jenny, artist John Jacobs and Rose’s best friend, Shona. Shona was probably my favourite character. She was so complex; on the surface she was loud and brash, often vulgar while inside she was just as troubled as Rose. I also really liked Jenny, despite her coldness at the beginning. She soon thawed and I liked how strong and loyal she was.

Dearest Rose is a fantastic read with characters I truly cared for and I enjoyed reading it immensely, despite the near-constant ache in my chest as the extent of Rose’s life unfolded. Rose is a strong woman, even if she doesn’t always believe it, and I willed her on the whole way, wanting her to break free from her past and build a new, happy life for herself and Maddie.



Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Birthdays and Snow Days

It was my 30th birthday on Monday (30? How did that happen?) and, as an added bonus, I didn't even have to do the school run as my daughters' school was closed due to the snow. I'm not a fan of snow. Or rather, I'm not a fan of what snow becomes after a day or two - ice. But I decided to make the most of it and wrapped myself and the girls up and had some fun. We threw a lot of snowballs, with the kids ganging up on me (even though I was the birthday girl - brats :-P ) and we attempted to build a snowman but  soon got bored. The oldest and I gave snow angels a go but it wasn't quite deep enough.

 
 
Later on, a delivery of gorgeous pink flowers and chocolates arrived from The Husband (I knew there was a reason I married him).
 
 
 
There was also cake and the four of us braved the snow again to go out for tea.


So that's it, my twenties have gone *sob* This time a decade ago, I'd just waved goodbye to my teens (and was already 3 weeks away from becoming a mum - oopsie). Since then I've had another child and got married but I still don't feel any more mature. I'm still waiting for that to happen. Perhaps sometime in the next ten years...

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The First Last Kiss by Ali Harris

 

It seems Molly Carter and Ryan Cooper are meant to be. First meeting as teenagers, the pair get off to a rocky start. Ryan is cool and confident, a star footballer in the making while Molly is a bit of an outcast, dressing in black and hiding behind her camera. She doesn’t believe she is good enough for popular Ryan and the pair go their separate ways. But fate brings them back together and Ryan eventually convinces Molly that she is the girl for him. Molly has never been happier that when she’s with Ryan but their life together is not destined to be so easy. Work, family and social commitments pull the couple in different directions and their disagreements take their toll. Molly regrets the break up as soon as it happens. She still loves Ryan but does he still love her and can they make it work second time around?

The First Last Kiss is told in snippets, rewinding and fast forwarding through Molly and Ryan’s stormy relationship as well as showing Molly in the present day as she packs up her home in preparation of a big move. We don’t know where Molly and Ryan stand or how their relationship has developed over the years but there are teasing clues to keep you turning the pages to find out what happens with them. I wasn’t sure how the book would work to begin with, flipping backwards and forwards through the years and events. I thought it might prove to be confusing and difficult to keep up with but it did work and there were no problems at all with the mixed up scenes. In fact, I quite liked the formula. It felt fresh and kept me guessing as to what would happen next or how Molly ended up in certain situations.

I loved the relationship between Molly and Ryan. They're quite different in personality and their outlook on life but they seemed like a lovely, genuine couple who meant the world to each other so it was a joy to be allowed into their lives and see them grow. Their relationship wasn’t perfect, which only made it seem more real.

As well as his relationship with Molly, I also loved how close Ryan was to his mother. Jackie is a big character and in real life would probably be quite hard to take but I thought she was fantastic in The First Last Kiss and was clearly very loving and loyal. Molly didn’t have the same closeness with her own parents but there are some touching moments between them once Molly has left her teenage angst behind.

For me, one of the most complex characters was Molly’s best friend, Casey. My feelings switched from feeling sorry for the fellow outcast to feeling frustrated and even angry with her for the duration of the book. She could be fiercely loyal yet scatty or needy and immature so you never really know what you’re going to get when Casey is around.

There are amusing and light moments in The First Last Kiss, particularly the banter between Molly and Ryan and Ryan’s grandmother, Nanny Door, is a lot of fun but you should be warned that a box of tissues may come in handy along the way too. The First Last Kiss is an emotional rollercoaster of a read and is gut wrenchingly touching and heart breaking at times. I read chunks of the book with a lump in my throat and an ache in my chest but I was compelled to see it through to the end and I’m glad I did because the book is beautiful and thought provoking. The story of Molly and Ryan will remain with me for a long time.

 
 
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy to review.


Monday, 21 January 2013

#amreading Thirty Nothing by Lisa Jewell

One of my reading goals for 2013 was to re-read some of my older books gathering dust on my bookcase. The first one I chose was Thirty Nothing by Lisa Jewell. I love Lisa Jewell's books and, along with Jane Green's books, they started my love of chick lit. It's also my 30th birthday today so it seemed an apt choice.
 
I've read Thirty Nothing many times but I'm really enjoying getting to know Dig and Nadine all over again.
 
 

Ever wondered what happened to your first love?

Imagine bumping into them twelve years later and realizing you still fancy them rotten. That's exactly what happens to Dig Ryan when he sees Delilah again.

Now imagine you're Nadine. You and Dig have been best friends for fifteen years. And you've finally realized that you're in love with him. So when Delilah - who always was your nemesis - returns, you're mad with jealousy and can't help behaving childishly. Like phoning your first love Phil - just to get your own back ...

Thirty-Nothing is a story of ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends and friends dabbling with yesterday when they really should be thinking about today.



You can see my review of Thirty Nothing here



Do you re-read books? And what are you reading at the moment?

Friday, 18 January 2013

Saved By Cake Challenged!

 
 

Between March and November 2012, I challenged myself to bake a different cake/biscuit from Marian Keyes' book, Saved By Cake each month. I was a beginner at baking and used the same recipes over and over again so I thought it would be nice to try something new. I took photos and posted them on here each month - the good, the bad and the ugly.
My family and I have voted for our top three bakes and here are the results:
Contenders for top spot:

Black Hole Chocolate
Cheesecake


Chocolate Cheesecake
 Cupcakes


Chocolate Macaroons


Blondie Cupcakes

 
But the joint winners were:
 

 
 
 
I've loved using my Saved By Cake book and although some of the recipes sound or look daunting for a beginner, the recipes are very straight forward. I particularly enjoyed the humour from Marian Keyes within the recipes, which made the recipes seem fun rather than complicated. I will definitely continue to bake using Saved By Cake - both the recipes I have already tried and new ones I haven't had a go at yet.
 
Click here for all Saved By Cake Challenges


Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Chat With Jaimie Admans

Kismetology is a novel about dating with a difference. Instead of finding Mr Right for herself, Mackenzie is determined to find Mr Right for her mother! I thought Kismetology was a fun, entertaining read full of crazy dates and quirky characters. You can see my review here and author Jaimie Admans has agreed to answer a few questions.
 
 

When did you realise you wanted to become a writer?
I’ve been writing since I was young, and writing seriously for about twelve years now. I always knew I loved it and I wished I could make a career of it but didn’t think it would ever be possible. About seven years ago, I wrote my first chick-lit novel, and I realised that people could and did make careers and earn a living from doing just that. That’s when I started to really concentrate on writing novels and started to take writing seriously, with the intention of writing something that could one day be published.
 
Why did you decide to self-publish Kismetology?
Although my dream is still traditional publication, I’m not in a position right now to pursue it with all my heart. I had put my dreams of writing on the back burner, and continued writing books with no real plan of doing anything with them, just writing because I enjoyed it. I’d heard of self-publishing years ago and decided it wasn’t for me. With the rise of ebooks, I started looking into it again last year, and it was such a revelation to me. How much things had changed since the Kindle came along! I researched and researched and researched some more and something just clicked. Self-publishing was the perfect fit for me.
 
How have you found self-publishing so far? Was it easier/harder than you imagined? Were there any problems you didn’t anticipate?
I’m absolutely loving it so far. I’ve only been at it a few months, but I can honestly say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. In fact, my only regret is not doing it sooner! I have two books out now, and I still cannot get my head around the fact that people are reading them and enjoying them. They have sat on my hard drive for years, doing nothing but gathering virtual dust, and it’s absolutely unreal that people are now reading my words on their Ereaders!
 
I think it’s been a bit harder than I anticipated. I came into this with a pretty good idea of the amount of work involved. I had no illusions of it being easy, but there are so many little things that take up hours of time and frustrated fiddling for almost invisible results, so it has been harder in the sense of little things that no amount of research could warn you about.
 
The biggest problem I’ve come across so far is the number of sneaky little typos that find their way into any manuscript no matter how many times it has been proofread, and how hard it is to spot them. I can’t tell you how disappointing it is when you’ve had a book edited, proofread by others and by yourself a few hundred times, and then someone points out a typo in the published version. I firmly believe it’s impossible to catch every single one, no matter how many people you have working on the manuscript before it’s published! It’s so disheartening when you fix it and go to republish and wonder how many people have already read it and thought badly of you as a writer. It makes me feel unprofessional, even though typos can sneak in anywhere, even in traditionally published books!
 
What advice would you give other writers who are thinking of self-publishing their book?
Just do your research. Read as much as you can about other writer’s experiences, and make sure you think it’s for you. You have to jump in both feet first and absolutely whole-heartedly. For a long, long time the only person who cares about your book is going to be you, and it’s an uphill struggle all the way. It’s certainly not as simple as pressing that ‘publish’ button and becoming a millionaire overnight (unfortunately!) This isn’t the easy route, but it’s definitely the most rewarding. The feeling of getting a good review or a compliment on your cover or something is the best feeling in the world, and made even better by knowing that you’re the only person responsible for it.
 
What was your inspiration for Kismetology?
I love reading books where the character is trying to find the perfect man, and I love dating stories whether the dates are good or bad. It’s particularly fun to hear about the bad dates! I wanted to write something like that, but I thought that the ‘single girl trying to find the perfect man’ angle was a bit overdone. I’ve often thought my own mum could do with a man, but she would consider herself too old for dating. I realised I could combine the two ideas, and Kismetology was born!
 
In Kismetology, Mackenzie decides to find a new man for her mum. Have you ever played Cupid yourself?
No, but since my mum has read Kismetology, she suddenly wants me to! She keeps asking why I can’t find a man for her like Mackenzie tries to find one for her mother in the story! I may have to play Cupid pretty soon after all!
 
Who was your favourite character to write?
I loved writing Eleanor – the mum in the book – because she’s kind of neurotic and a bit paranoid and overbearing and she overreacts a lot, and she kind of gets more pronounced as the book goes on. It was fun thinking ‘what can she do next?’ to annoy Mackenzie. I have to say though, I thoroughly enjoyed writing the men that Mackenzie meets, particularly the bad ones!
 
What was the first book you ever bought yourself?
I think it was Deenie by Judy Blume! I loved her books, and I loved Enid Blyton. I devoured all that I could get my hands on and read them over and over again when I was younger!
 
If you were stranded on a desert island and had only one book (conveniently) about your person, what would you like it to be (bearing in mind you may be stranded for months on end with nothing else to read)?
Can’t I have just one Kindle with hundreds of books on it? (Er, and a charger and electricity. And a WiFi signal.) No? Okay, my one book would have to be Survival When Stranded on a Desert Island for Dummies! If that doesn’t exist, I’d go back to my childhood and have Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series with me, the omnibus edition of all six books in one, obviously! That should give me quite a bit of reading material!
 
Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
I’m in the middle of editing book three – a paranormal romance for young adults, which is due for editing in February and I’m hoping to have it out around March/April time!

*       *       *       *       *
 
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Jaimie.
 
Kismetolgy is out now.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Kismetology by Jaimie Admans



Mackenzie Atkinson has recently moved in with her boyfriend of two years but living with Dan isn't proving to be quite the dream they envisioned. There are plenty of cosy nights in but unfortunately Mackenzie's mother invites herself along for most of them, bringing her dog, Baby, with her.

Although her mother's near-constant presence is frustrating, Mackenzie knows the reason Eleanor visits so often is because she has been lonely since Mackenzie moved out. The solution to Mackenzie and Dan's problem seems simple enough - they just have to find Eleanor a man to share her life - and her Coronation Street viewing - with.

Mackenzie doesn't want to set her mother up with just anybody so she begins a thorough vetting process to find the ideal man for Eleanor. The only downfall is Eleanor's fussiness and setting her up isn't as simple as it first appeared.

Kismetology is a light-hearted read, which I found amusing as Mackenzie meets disastrous man after disastrous man in the hope of finding love for her overbearing mother. Each potential date seems to be worse than the last but it was fun to watch their bizarre traits unfold. Despite Eleanor taking interfering to the next level, I quite liked her as a quirky character, especially coupled with her over-indulged dog, Baby. I could see why Mackenzie needed a bit of space but didn't feel she could simply ask her to back off.

Kismetology is an entertaining book about finding love with more than a few comical bumps along the road to happily ever after.


Thank you to Jaimie Admans for providing me with a copy to review. I will be chatting to Jaimie on Thursday.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

A Chat With Anna Bell


Don't Tell The Groom is the tale of gambling addiction and dream weddings. When Penny realises she's lost a huge chunk of their wedding fund through online bingo, she decides to play her own version of the tv show Don't Tell The Bride and plan the wedding in secret, keeping fiance Mark in the dark about the details of their wedding and her gambling addiction.
 
You can see my review for Don't Tell The Groom here and author Anna Bell has kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

 


When did you realise you wanted to become a writer?

After a failed interview for the TV show The Apprentice a few years ago, I walked by Random House with my husband and I drunkenly pointed at the building and said ‘one day they’re going to publish my book’. It was the first time I had told him that I harboured secret writing fantasies, and I expected him to laugh at me. Instead, he said that he’d found my Apprentice application really funny and that I should try and write a book. So I did.

Why did you decide to self-publish your novels?

I had written and released Millie and the American Wedding as a bi-weekly podcast on iTunes. When the podcast came to an end, it seemed a shame not to do anything with it. As it had been in the public domain for free, I didn’t think a traditional publisher would want it, so I decided I’d self-publish it in the hope of selling fifty copies. I still intended to try and get the rest of my books traditionally published, but after the success of Millie I have continued to to self-publish.

What advice would you give other writers who are thinking about self-publishing their book?

Take your time with it; it’s not going to make a difference if you publish it in a few weeks or a few month’s time. Once it’s up and it gets reviews - those reviews are always linked with that book, no matter if you change your content. Make sure you get people you trust, and people that will be honest with you, to test read your book to make it the best you can. Then get it professionally edited (I’d recommend both line and copy editing). And as people judge a book by the cover - do get a professional cover designed. It costs quite a bit of money in initial investment, so you have to be really sure that you do want to self-publish.

What was your inspiration for Don't Tell the Groom?

I got married eighteen months ago, and much to the horror of my mother, my husband and I married on a shoe-string budget. It turned out to be an amazing wedding and it showed a lot of our friends and family (my mother included) just what you could achieve without spending the earth. With so many chick-lit wedding stories focusing on dream weddings, I thought it would be fun to have a budget bride character. Only unlike me, Penny the main character in the book had the budgeting forced on her when she gambled away her wedding savings!

In Don't Tell the Groom, Penny dreams of marrying in a castle. What would be your ideal wedding location?

My husband and I initially wanted to get married on a Costa Rican beach. There’s a beautiful beach called Manuel Antonio where we once spent a magical few days that would have made the perfect destination. But when it came down to the planning, we decided that the people at the wedding were as important as the venue - and a lot of our friends and family wouldn’t have been able to make it to Costa Rica. We ended up getting married in a beautiful Museum that was an old Victorian Officer’s mess (which may just have been the inspiration for Penny’s venue).

Penny is addicted to online bingo. Have you ever dabbled yourself?

In the beginning I had thought that I should at least play one online game to see how it all worked, but I started researching the addiction first. I was introduced to a friend of a friend who’d had an online gambling addiction, and it was scary to realise how easy it had been for them to gamble and lose a lot of money. Once I’d read about the darker side of bingo, I didn’t dare let myself play a game, and instead I learnt how to play from the online tutorials.

If Don't Tell the Groom was made into a movie, who would be your dream cast?

Now that is a difficult question. I think Penny would be played by someone like Emily Blunt as she’d need to be someone that could be serious with a hint ditzy, yet able to show a lot of emotion. Josh, with his startling blue eyes, would have to be played by a pretty-boy like Chase Crawford. And then for Mark, maybe someone like Tom Ellis from Miranda.

Who has been your favourite character to write to date?

Penny from Don’t Tell the Groom has definitely been my favourite to write so far. I think mainly because she’s the first character I’ve written in the first person. I had a lot of fun being in her head and writing her sarcasm and witty responses to the scenes playing out around her.

What was the first book you ever bought yourself?

The answer to this is almost certainly an Enid Blyton book, but I couldn’t tell you which one. I don’t think it was until my teens that I realised there were any other authors available. I read a lot of her books but my favourites were: The Wishing Chair, the Magic of the Faraway Tree, and the Famous Five series. I grew up wanting to drink ginger beer and solve mysteries.

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?

I’m just in the planning stage of my next book so I’m a bit vague on details, but it’s essentially about a girl who goes on a lot of disastrous dates. It is in absolutely no way based on any of my own, or my friends’, tragic dating stories *coughs and crosses fingers behind back*.
 
 
 
*     *     *     *     *



Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Anna.

Don't Tell The Groom is out now and available
here

You can find out more about Anna at
www.annabellwrites.com or follow her on twitter @annabell_writes

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Planning Book 4

 

After finishing the first draft of a book, I like to leave it for around a month because I find it easier to spot flaws when it comes to the second draft. Instead of sitting on my bum doing nothing (which I did not do over Christmas*), I'm starting to plan my next book - unsurprisingly now refered to as Book 4 (although it does have an actual title).

I planned the hell out of Book 3, right down to each chapter and I found it really helped me. Not only could I spot major flaws as I planned it and prevented any ball-achingly major changes before I started writing it (something I wished I'd learned before Books 1 and 2), it was also a comfort knowing exactly what I had to write each time I sat down at the computer. It wasn't a perfect process. I still sat there twiddling my thumbs and browsing ebay at times but it did help. So much so I'm going to plan the hell out of this book as well.

I already know the story quite well as I tried to write it a few years ago. I loved the story, one character in particular, but I got stuck on the plot part way through and gave up (I gave up a lot back then). I remember thinking I should have planned it better (or at least planned a little as I didn't really plan at all until recently) but I didn't have the heart to unravel what I had and start again. But the story stayed with me and so I'm going to try again - but better planned this time!

I haven't done much planning yet as I only started on Monday but it's fun getting to know a brand new set of characters. Plotting and building up characters and families is my favourite part of writing.


*whoa, what the hell's going on with my nose. Is it getting bigger? Feck, it is. I look like bloody Pinocchio!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Don't Tell The Groom by Anna Bell



Penny has been planning her wedding for years. Even though she isn't engaged yet.  But when Mark does propose, Penny knows exactly what kind of wedding she wants and has the mood boards ready and waiting, along with the vast sum of money to fund her lavish Big Day. Penny and Mark have been squirrelling away money in a savings account and Penny has been secretly adding in extra cash whenever she wins a game of online bingo.

So with the funds and plans in place, Penny is thrilled when Mark finally proposes. But her euphoria shrivels away with one glance at their bank statement. Ten thousand pounds is missing and it turns out it is all Penny's fault. It seems her bingo wins weren't as frequent or plentiful as her losses and she's dwindled away their savings to five thousand pounds, meaning she must kiss her castle venue goodbye. But will there even be a wedding at all if Mark finds out about the lost money? Penny can't risk losing Mark so she comes up with a plan. Taking inspiration from the tv show Don't Tell The Bride, Penny will plan the whole wedding in secret and somehow bring it all together with their now much smaller budget.

Don't Tell The Groom manages to deal with gambling addiction in a fun and humorous way, much like Marian Keyes deals with drug addiction in Rachel's Holiday. I warmed to the character of Penny immediately and found her to be quirky and amusing. She had the potential to become a monstrous Bridezilla with out of control spending and increasingly extravagant plans and demands but her revised budget curbs such behaviour and Penny is forced to look at what is really important when it comes to weddings. I enjoyed the journey Penny goes on, both emotionally as she tackles her addiction and the ways in which she creates a beautiful wedding on a shoestring. I rooted for Penny the whole way, hoping she could pull off her scheme and have her new dream wedding and live happily ever after.

I thought Don't Tell The Groom was a brilliant, witty read. There are serious issues within the book but it is mainly fun with laugh out loud moments and it was an absolute joy to read.


Thank you to Anna Bell for providing me with a copy to review. I will be chatting with Anna on Thursday.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Top Ten (non chick lit) Books of 2012

I read some wonderful books in 2012 so I thought I would compile my top ten (in alphabetical order):












Thursday, 3 January 2013

Top Ten Chick Lit of 2012

I read some fab chick lit in 2012 so I thought I would compile my top ten (in alphabetical order):










 
 
 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

My Goals for 2013

Last year, I kept my writing goals pretty simple:

  • Finish the final draft of the Current Project
  • Send Current Project off to agents
  • When it's rejected, send it to the next agents on the list
  • Start Book 2
  • Don't give up like I usually do
I thought I would keep it simple again. I'd obviously love an agent and a publishing deal in 2013 but other than some serious blackmail and/or threats, I'm going to give myself goals that I have control over.
 
So my writing goals for 2013 are:
 
  • Finish Book 3
  • Submit the book
  • If it's rejected (see how optimistic I was then), send it to the next agent on the list.
  • Keep sending it to ALL the agents on my list
  • Don't give up like I usually do
I also thought I'd set myself some reading goals too. I read 80 books in 2012 and, even though it was a bit hectic at times, I'd like to keep up the momentum. Maybe not quite 80 books but we'll see.

I'd also like to reacquaint myself with my non-review book pile. It's been neglected since I've started receiving books from publishers so I'm going to dust them off and read them as there are some books I'm longing to read in the pile.

I re-read a few books last summer and I'd like to go back and re-read some of my favourites again this year.

Have you set yourself writing or reading goals?
 

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Hello 2013


 
 
The blog and I have been busy this year. In 2012 I...
 
 
I started receiving books to review on my blog and feel very honoured to be given the opportunity. In the summer I also started reviewing for Novelicious, which has been fantastic. Not only have I reviewed some wonderful books, I've also joined a fab team.
 
You can see my blog reviews here and my Novelicious reviews here
 
I got a Kindle and read my first book on there in January (which happened to be Fairytale of New York by Miranda Dickinson).
 
 
 
I finished Book 1 in January and started submitting to agents, which is the scariest thing about writing. I think the hardest part is picking yourself up after the first set of rejections roll in, which I somehow managed to do.
 
I wrote another book and started submitting that too. I had a brief wobble when the rejections first arrived for that one but I kept going and finished the first draft of Book 3 just before Christmas.
 
... caught the baking bug
 
The only things I'd really baked were gingerbread biscuits, buns and I'd had a go at decorating Victoria sponges so when Marian Keyes brought out saved By Cake, I decided to push myself a bit more. I challenged myself to bake something new from the book every month and while it hasn't always been a great success, it has been fun and mostly yummy.
 
... my blog reached its One Year Blogiversary
 
 
 
 
... and on a personal note, I got married!
 
After almost 11 years together, my (now) husband and I finally decided to get married.
 
 
 
 

2012 has been a fab year and I hope it's been just as good for everyone else. Let's hope we all have a fabulous 2013. Happy New Year!