Thursday 28 August 2014

Book of the Month: August

Liberty Silk
Kate Beaufoy
One beautiful dress is the key to three brave women's destinies.

France 1919: Jessie is celebrating the last heady days of her honeymoon. But when her husband suddenly disappears she finds herself bereft. Until a chance encounter thrusts her into the centre of the intoxicating world of Parisian high life.

Hollywood 1945: Lisa has come a long way from her quiet, unassuming life in London and is taking Hollywood by storm. But all that glitters is not gold, and as the smoke and mirrors of the lifestyle she so longed for shatter around her there are some secrets she can never escape.

London 1965: Cat, headstrong and independent, drawn to danger and passionately opposed to injustice, has no idea of the legacy that precedes her. Once past secrets are unveiled, she has the chance to find out what liberty really means...

An evocative story of survival, betrayal and the invincibility of love.
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Liberty Silk spans from the 1920s to the 1960s as we follow the lives of Jessie, Lisa and Cat. I devoured the pages and didn't want to put the book down as the stories of the three women unfolded. I loved the settings and felt fully immersed as we travelled from London and Ireland to France and Hollywood. Liberty Silk is a poignant, gripping tale that I would highly recommend.

You can see my full review of Liberty Silk here

Wednesday 27 August 2014

My Summer Reads: My Book of the Summer

At the beginning of July I compiled my reading list for the summer. I've now read all of the books on the list so now it's time to pick my Book of the Summer.
The books on my summer reading list have been a mix of fun, romantic comedies to beautiful novels set in gorgeous locations. While I've enjoyed all of the books on my list, one book in particular stood out. For me, Liberty Silk was a real page-turner. I devoured the book, gorging myself on the lives of Jessie, Lisa and Cat. It was such a great read and I'd highly recommend it.
One beautiful dress is the key to three brave women's destinies.

France 1919: Jessie is celebrating the last heady days of her honeymoon. But when her husband suddenly disappears she finds herself bereft. Until a chance encounter thrusts her into the centre of the intoxicating world of Parisian high life.

Hollywood 1945: Lisa has come a long way from her quiet, unassuming life in London and is taking Hollywood by storm. But all that glitters is not gold, and as the smoke and mirrors of the lifestyle she so longed for shatter around her there are some secrets she can never escape.

London 1965: Cat, headstrong and independent, drawn to danger and passionately opposed to injustice, has no idea of the legacy that precedes her. Once past secrets are unveiled, she has the chance to find out what liberty really means...

An evocative story of survival, betrayal and the invincibility of love.

You can see my review of Liberty Silk here

Tuesday 26 August 2014

It Had To Be You by Ellie Adams

Lizzy Spellman is mortified when she is dumped by her boyfriend, Justin. Not only is it completely unexpected, it is in a room full of people and one of those people happen to be recording the dumping on their phone. With the footage uploaded to YouTube, Lizzy becomes famous overnight. Trying to shed herself of her woman-dumped-on-YouTube persona, Lizzy attempts to move on from Justin and find love again.
I was really looking forward to reading It Had To Be You as I was immediately drawn to the vibrant cover and the book sounded like the perfect romantic comedy. On the whole, I thought It Had To Be You was a good read. For me, it did take quite a while for the main story to kick in after the initial YouTube dumping, but the story is certainly fun with a great set of characters. I loved Lizzy's best friends, Nic and Poppet and while they have completely different outlooks on love and life, I thought they made a very believable group of friends. I really liked Poppet and her ideal Disney-type romance and I kept hoping that she would meet her Prince Charming.
It Had To Be You is full of fun characters and there were some great laugh-out-loud moments. Lizzy works in PR and some of her clients provided a lot of laughs but I did feel that some of these scenes slowed down the plot at times. I was waiting for Lizzy to meet Elliott and begin her mission to prove him wrong in the matters of love as promised in the blurb but, while they do meet briefly, this part of the story doesn't happen until quite late on.
Overall, I thought It Had To Be You was quite an enjoyable, fun read with a great mix of characters.

Monday 25 August 2014

My Summer Reads: My Top 5 Summer Covers

Sunshine, sparkling seas, ice-creams. What's not to love about a summer book cover? I love the colours used in summer colours - pretty shades of pinks and blues or vibrant oranges and greens against a shimmery blue sea.
Here are my top 5 summer covers:
The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon
The Summer of Secrets by Alison Lucy
Sunlounger by various authors
Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements
Ice Creams At Carrington's by Alex Brown
What are your favourite summer covers?

Saturday 23 August 2014

Blog Tour: The Postcard by Leah Fleming


Today I'm pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for The Postcard with a Q&A with the author Leah Fleming.

Can you tell us about your new book?
My new book: The Postcard is a quest to find long lost family ties before it is too late. Melissa takes up her Australian father’s dying wish to find his uncertain ancestry in Britain. All she has with her is a shoe box full of photographs, a medal and a postcard. From a WW1 theatrical star, to a Special agent of the SOE, she finds each generation of women in danger of repeating the very mistakes of their mothers and fathers ( including herself). But a tough fighting spirit runs through this family. This overcomes many of the obstacles in solving this quest.

What was your inspiration for The Postcard?
The inspiration behind this book was how simple communication by letter, postcard or face to face confessions are so important. A lost postcard can change lives forever. A truth withheld can break relationships. I was also inspired by the bravery of the female agents of WW2 who sacrificed family life for patriotic duty and many paid a supreme price for their choice.

What has been your greatest experience of being a published writer?
One great experience of being a published writer is receiving letters and emails from all over the world. This gift of giving me feedback is so welcome . I love to hear how my stories have stirred up memories of the past or encouraged someone to start writing.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
To inspiring authors I would say, read, read and read above your level, respect your art by accepting it is a process that takes time to get right and trust your “own voice” it will show you where you sing best.

What was the first book you ever bought yourself?
The first book I bought for pleasure must have been Daphne Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn or Frenchman’s Creek back in the mists of time. What a storyteller!

What was the last book you read?
I am currently reading Peter Robinson’s Abbatoir Blues. I don’t read my own genre fiction when I am writing a book but a good crime fits the bill especially a series set in the Dales.

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
The Title: The Little Shop of Pearls came to me in the middle of the night a few months ago so I am following where it leads and researching in Scotland , USA and York at the moment. It will be out next year if I can get a move on…

Thanks for asking me to join you here.


Thursday 21 August 2014

The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me by Lucy Robinson

From a young age, Sally Howlett has had a passionate love for opera. But growing up on a council estate, it wasn't something Sally felt she could talk openly about, especially when her parents discouraged any form of performing arts for their daughter. So Sally's love of opera became her secret.
But one fateful summer in New York changes Sally forever. She finds herself enrolling at opera school, going against her deepest fears. But on the night before she starts her course, a man from Sally's past turns up on her doorstep and threatens to unravel her life once more.
I had never read a book by Lucy Robinson before but I had heard such great things about the author's previous books that I couldn't wait to dive into The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me and I wasn't disappointed. It did take me a while to get into the book as I found the leaping around from past and present a bit confusing, but as the book went along it became much clearer to me and I could grasp what was going on. From then on I was hooked and didn't want to put the book down as I was so enthralled with the stories of Sally, Fiona and the man from Sally's past.
The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me is full of flashes of hilarity and I found myself laughing out loud often. I wasn't sure how I would fare with the book and my lack of knowledge of opera, but the musical aspect of the book wasn't a challenge at all. There is a huge mix of characters in the book, from Sally and her cousin Fiona to their friends Barry (who I at times loved and at others wanted to tell him to keep it zipped) and Bea to Sally's new opera friends, Helen, Violet and Jan Borsos, who was my favourite character of all. I thought Jan Borsos was such a fun character whose grasp of the English language caused the majority of my laugh-out-loud moments. He was a fantastic character with a colourful background and while he was funny, he had sweet moments too.
The Unfinished Symphony of Me and You is a fun read but it is also a bit of an emotional rollercoaster too. We know something happened in New York, something that changed Sally's outlook, but we don't know exactly what happened until all the pieces are put together, which made an intriguing read for me. I also felt deep sympathy for Sally and the relationship she had with her parents and hoped that it could somehow be resolved. 

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Liberty Silk by Kate Beaufoy

Jessie and Scotch are on their honeymoon, travelling across Italy and France during the early 1920s. Jessie is from a privileged background but has turned her back on wealth to marry artist Scotch. She can live without the luxuries she is used to, as long as she and Scotch are together. But when Scotch disappears one night, Jessie finds herself stranded in France without a means to support herself.
Lisa La Touche is about to fulfil her dream of becoming a Hollywood star. Moving from Britain, a country on the brink of war, to America is a bit of a culture shock but she knows this is what she should do, especially when she falls in love with a fellow actor.
Cat is a photographer in the 1960s, set on changing the world by showcasing her shocking images of war and famine. But it is Cat who is shocked when she learns about her heritage.
Told over three generations, Liberty Silk tells the story of three women who are struggling to find their place in life.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Liberty Silk as I haven't read any novels by the author (who has previously published books as Kate Thompson) but what I found was a beautiful, intoxicating book that I didn't want to put down. I was pulled into the lives of Jessie, Lisa and Cat as their stories unfolded bit by bit, drawing me in deeper with each chapter. Liberty Silk is a poignant tale as the three women, separated by time and miles, try to find their way in life and love. I was completely hooked, gobbling up the pages to discover the fate of Jessie in particular.
A lot of research had obviously gone into the writing of Liberty Silk and it shone through the pages. I loved the descriptions within the book and the mix of different characters - some fictional and others based on real-life people. I never knew what was going to happen around the corner, which twist or turn was going to surprise me next, which kept me on my toes the whole way through. It was an absolute joy to read and it is the kind of book where the characters remain with you beyond reaching The End.

Friday 15 August 2014

My Summer Reads: My Favourite Summer Read

My favourite summer read isn't actually a summer read at all. In fact, it takes place over several months, spanning summer as well as Christmas. Despite this, I always seem to read it during the warmer months - probably because I bought it to read on holiday back in 2000 (Yikes. How did so much time pass?)
Kiss Him Goodbye by Victoria Routledge is one of my most re-read books. I pick it up every couple of years or so and relax back into it, getting to know the characters all over again. For me, re-reading books is comfort reading at its best. I haven't re-read Kiss Him Goodbye this summer, but I did in 2012 and you can see my review here.
Do you have a favourite summer read?
My Summer Reads is a blog feature celebrating reading in the sun (if we ever get any). Click here to see all My Summer Reads posts

Thursday 14 August 2014

No-One Ever Has Sex On A Tuesday by Tracy Bloom

Katy doesn't do serious relationships. After a bad experience when she was younger, Katy keeps men at arm's length to protect her heart. So she's horrified when she finds out she's pregnant. She's been having fun with her boyfriend, Ben, but they've never made any long-term plans. Then the situation gets even worse when she arrives at her first antenatal class and sees her first love, Matthew. She hasn't seen Matthew since their school reunion a few months earlier, when they ended up having a one-night stand. Katy didn't expect to see Matthew again but now she must face up to the fact that she isn't entirely sure who the father of her baby is; boyfriend Ben or old flame, Matthew?
I've been looking forward to reading No-One Ever Has Sex On A Tuesday for quite a while as I've heard some fantastic things about it and now I can see why. I absolutely loved the book and felt bereft when it ended. Tracy Bloom has a great voice that is full of warmth and humour and I was immediately pulled into Katy's world.
Katy is such a fantastic character that I completely let it slide that she was totally in the wrong by not telling Ben that it was possible he wasn't the father of her child! My loyalties swayed throughout the book, wanting Katy to find happiness with Matthew, then Ben, then back to Matthew again before switching to Ben... you get the picture. I wasn't sure who she was going to end up with, but I was happy with the outcome at the end.
The book is full of fantastic characters, but my favourite has to be Ben. He had the potential to become annoying, but for me, he was so funny despite his tendency to lapse into immaturity. He's so different to Matthew, who has his life sorted (possible unplanned pregnancy aside) but I could see the attraction to both of the men in Katy's life. I thought all the characters had their good and bad points, which made them more real and relatable for me.
No-One Ever Has Sex On A Tuesday is such a great read with lots of laugh-out-loud moments and it has been one of my favourites reads of 2014 so far.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

The No-Kids Club by Talli Roland

Thirty-nine-year-old Clare is fed up of people trying to persuade her to give motherhood a try. She doesn't want children and never has done. All around her, people are having babies and, worst of all, talking about them. Clare craves conversation about non-baby topics and to be able to stay out with friends past eight o'clock without having to schedule babysitters. So she decides to set up The No-Kids Club to meet like-minded people.
Anna prides herself on her ability to run a smooth household. She and husband Michael don't want children as they are happy as they are. But are they truly happy? Anna is beginning to feel she is the only one putting any effort into their marriage and while having a baby won't fix things, she and Michael need to do something to get back on track. When she sees an advert for The No-Kids Club, she decides to give it a go.
Poppy and husband Alistair are desperate to be parents but so far their attempts at IVF have been unsuccessful. Poppy goes along to The No-Kids Club in the hope of making new friends without the heartache of hearing about adorable children and pregnancies.
The three women have very different opinions of relationships and families, but they do have one thing in common - their child-free lives.
I've been looking forward to reading The No-Kids Club and it was definitely worth the wait. I enjoyed getting to know Clare, Anna and Poppy and while I did expect them to strike up more of a bond, I did enjoy their individual stories. I felt for Poppy as the chance to carry a baby of her own slipped further and further away and while her actions weren't always the wisest, I could understand the measures that she went to. I could also understand Clare's stance on not wanting to have children and felt her frustration as society looked upon her as strange for not wanting to procreate. For me, one of the most interesting characters was Anna. She came across as a bit of a pushover, with her husband making all the decisions while Anna ran around after him and I was waiting for her to wake up and realise she was worth far more than that. I was willing her to stand up to Michael and make him realise that his behaviour was unacceptable.
I loved Talli's writing style as it had an easy flow to it and I felt like I really got to know the characters. I read the book quite quickly as it is such a fun read and I wanted to see how it would all pan out for Clare, Anna and Poppy.
I really enjoyed reading The No-Kids Club. It's a light, fun read that is perfect for some summer reading. 

Friday 8 August 2014

My Summer Reads: What I Look For In A Summer Read

While a beach location of a novel can certainly help with a summer read, it isn't necessarily a must to be added to my summer reading list.
For me, a summer read is light and fun with a fantastic set of characters. I want to be able to relax in the park or stretch out on a sunlounger - or to be more realistic living in Britain, curled up inside sheltering from the rain - while disappearing into somebody else's world for a while. I want to giggle and lose myself in romance. I want to root for the heroine as she falls in love and swoon over her leading man. I want to imagine a Richard Curtis film is playing in my head as I turn the pages.
Ultimately, for me, a summer read should be uplifting and contain a bunch of characters I'd like to be friends with.
What do you look for in a summer read?
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If you'd like to share what you look for in a summer read, give me a shout! You can find out more about My Summer Reads here or see past posts here

Wednesday 6 August 2014

Blogiversary Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my blogiversary giveaway and shared their highlight over the past year. Massive thanks to those who help spread the word through Twitter and Facebook too.
Rafflecopter has selected a winner at random. And the winner is...
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations, Rosalind. I hope you enjoy your prizes!

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Comedy writer Georgie's marriage is in trouble. Georgie and Neal were once so in love but with jobs and children, they've become lost as a couple over the years. When an important work assignment pops up at the last minute just before Christmas, it puts the family's festive plans in jeopardy. Georgie and Neal were planning to take the children to Nebraska to visit Neal's mother for Christmas but Georgie must now work. Georgie expects Neal will be unhappy about the change of plans but she doesn't expect him to take the girls on the trip anyway, leaving her alone in LA over Christmas.
When Georgie visits her own mother in her childhood home, she discovers a way to communicate with a version of Neal from the past. This Neal is the young, unmarried Neal she remembers from long ago, the Neal she fell in love with. Speaking with him reminds Georgie of the love they once shared but is it too late to get that back? Will talking to past Neal save their marriage or will it destroy it completely?
I thought the plot for Landline was such an interesting one and I wondered how it would work. It took me a few chapters to get into the book, but once I did I was hooked and compelled to keep reading to see how it would all work out for Georgie and Neal. I've never read a Rainbow Rowell book before but I really enjoyed the writing style of Landline. It had such an easy flow to it that I felt I could keep reading and reading until the very end (if it wasn't for the pesky interruptions of life). I thought Neal was a bit of an odd character at times and not your typical hero from a book, but that only made the book more interesting. Likewise, Georgie was also an interesting character for me. She had her flaws and I felt a bit frustrated with her at times, but I was always rooting for her, wanting her to see what she had with Neal and the girls and wanting her to figure out how to fix things.
One of my favourite aspects of the book was getting to know Georgie and Neal in depth as a couple. We already know that they ended up together and married, but it was nice to go back so we could see what Georgie was fighting for. I also liked getting to know Georgie's family, particularly her younger sister, Heather. I'm not sure I could have personally lived with them - they would drive me mad quite quickly - but I enjoyed the scenes they were in.
I thought Landline was a great, quirky read full of interesting (though not necessarily always likeable) characters.

Monday 4 August 2014

Cover Stars: Written In The Stars by Ali Harris

Every month I choose my favourite cover from my TBR pile. Feel free to comment or add your own suggestions for ‘Cover Stars’.
Have you ever wondered 'What if…?' What if you'd taken that other job, gone on a date with that sweet guy, moved to a different city? Would an alternative life path have led to a happier ending?

Now imagine if you could have taken both paths…

When Bea Bishop slips while walking down the aisle on her wedding day, she is momentarily knocked unconscious. And in a flash, her world splits and two separate parallel lives take her on two very different journeys. In one, Bea flees back down the aisle and out of the church. In the other, she glides blissfully towards Adam, her intended.

Each path will take her on a very different journey. And each will see her life change for better and for worse. But which story will lead to her happy-ever-after?
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What's not to love about the cover of Ali Harris' latest novel, Written In The Stars? It looks like a gorgeous, romantic read with the twinkly stars and pretty shades of blue, plus my favourite part of any fab cover - the silhouette girl.
I've loved Ali Harris' past novels (and their covers) and I'm really looking forward Written In The Stars too!
Click here to see all 'Cover Stars' 

Saturday 2 August 2014

Giveaway Winners: The Page Girls

Thank you to everyone who entered The Page Girls' giveaway and/or tweeted about it.
Rafflecopter has picked the winners at random and they are 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations! I hope you enjoy your prizes.

If you didn't win, there is still time to enter my blogiversary giveaway of books and chocolate here

Friday 1 August 2014

My Summer Reads: Shannon

Today I have Shannon from Curled Up With A Good Book and a Cup of Tea telling us about her summer reads

My family loves a good road trip. Every summer we take at least one and this past year we decided to add the Christmas vacation. One of the reasons why I get so excited for our vacations is all of the reading I know I will get done, whether by the pool, at the beach, or stuck indoors while it pours rain the entire week or an ice storm descends.

My vacation reading always has one theme - chick lit! It’s the one genre I can count on to make sure I enjoy every book I pick up while on vacation. This past Christmas we decided to take a ski vacation so I made sure to pack some books to go with the surroundings. Meet Me Under The Mistletoe by Abby Clements, The Charm Bracelet by Melissa Hill, and Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris were made even better sitting in a window watching the snow fall on trees and chalets.

Throughout the year, I always buy books in anticipation of my vacations, especially when my bookstore has its Buy 3 Get the 4th Free sale and many chick lit novels knocked down to $5. This guarantees that my vacation pile gets much bigger than my husband will allow me to pack (apparently one suitcase for books is not appropriate packing.)

So this summer I decided that I’m not limiting my chick lit to just my vacation, I’m reading only chick lit for all of July and August. It will definitely help me knock down my to read pile and guarantee fantastic summer reading. Here are just a few of the books I’m looking forward to reading this summer:

Ice Creams at Carrington’s by Alexandra Brown

What A Girl Wants by Lindsey Kelk

One Hundred Proposals by Holly Martin

The Love Detective by Alexandra Potter

OMG Baby! by Emma Garcia

A Place to Call Home by Carole Matthews

If you are like me and like your holiday reading to reflect the fact that you are on vacation, then I would definitely suggest:

A Proper Family Holiday by Chrissie Manby

The Travelling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones

Here Come the Girls by Milly Johnson

Happy Summer Reading!
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My Summer Reads is a blog feature celebrating summer reading (let's hope the sun puts it hat on every once in a while). If you'd like to take part, give me a shout! You can find out more about My Summer Reads here or see past posts here