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!
More details here

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

You can find out more details here or you can read all 'My Summer Reads' posts

Thursday 16 July 2015

My Summer Reads Giveaway: The Winners

Thank you to everyone who took part in the My Summer Reads Giveaway. Rafflecopter has selected the winners at random, who have been notified by email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to the winners. I hope you enjoy your prizes!

If you didn't win, keep an eye out on Twitter on Friday as I'll be giving away some more prizes. You can follow me on Twitter here

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

You can find out more details here or you can read all 'My Summer Reads' posts

Monday 13 July 2015

Book Crafts: Butterfly Gift Tag

Butterfly Gift Tag
You will need:
Pages from a book proof
Wire cutters
Double-sided tape
Gift tag (or make your own using a template and card)
 You can use a ready-made gift tag or make your own. I made my own using a gift tag template and some cream-coloured handmade paper, which I lined with white card to give it stability and a smooth surface for writing a message on the back.
Layer four pieces of book proof pages and draw a basic butterfly shape, bearing in mind the size of your gift tag. Cut out the butterfly shapes.
To make the butterfly's body, cut a length of wire using wire cutters and bend it in half, leaving a rounded end and twisting in the middle.
Use the wire cutters to bend down the ends and curl into small loops to form the antennae, snipping off the excess.
Using small strips of double-sided tape, stick the body to one of the paper butterfly shapes.
Using more small strips of double-sided tape, layer the rest of the paper butterfly shapes. Carefully bend the wings towards the middle of the butterfly to create a feeling of movement.
Using double-sided tape, attach the butterfly to your gift tag and add some ribbon to complete.
And there you have it - your butterfly gift tag!
Click here to see all Book Crafts

Friday 10 July 2015

My Summer Reads: The Little Things (a novella) by Jane Costello

Hannah MacFarlane is expecting a promotion at work which will result in her relocation to Dubai. But instead of a shiny new job title, Hannah is made redundant and it is her fiancé, James who is sent to work in Dubai instead.
Hannah brushes herself off and vows to find herself another equally high-powered job - preferably out in Dubai so she can be with James - but five months later the job hunt isn't working out quite as planned. When her sister offers her the temporary position as child minder to her four young boys, Hannah has no choice but to accept. Hannah is knowledgeable when it comes to marketing luxury cars, but she soon discovers that when it comes to being responsible for four boisterous minors, her skills are lacking.
Hannah is really thrown in the deep end with her nephews and although it's a bit of a nightmare for her, it's a lot of fun for the reader! The writing has such a nice flow to it and I found myself fully immersed in Hannah's world of explosive nappy-changes, art projects and school gate politics. I've read novels by Jane Costello before and this was a pleasant reminder of how great a writer she is. The pace is spot on and there is lots of humour and a sprinkling of romance, making this a perfect novella for fans of fun, light reads.
Although The Little Things is only a novella, it's absolutely jam-packed with everything I look for in a full-length novel; fun and humour, romance, fantastic characters and laugh-out-loud moments. By the end, I felt like I'd really got to know Hannah and it didn't feel like we'd been on such a short journey at all.

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

You can find out more details here or you can read all 'My Summer Reads' posts

Wednesday 8 July 2015

My Summer Reads: Liza Hoeksma

Today I'm delighted to welcome Liza Hoeksma to the blog to share her summer reads.
My Summer Reads

The silent hours by Cesca Major

I'm so intrigued by this story of a mute in a convent, a Jewish baker, and a nine year old boy in wartime France. I love books that transport you to a different place and time and I hear this is a gripping and emotional read; it sounds like a great book to get lost in. 

Summer at shell cottage by Lucy Diamond

 This has all the makings of the perfect summer story; an easy to read book, set over a summer holiday, that deals with grief, family dynamics, intriguing secrets, career pressures and more. I just wish I had a beautiful seaside cottage to read it by…

The light between oceans by M.L. Stedman

I'm not sure how I managed to miss this when it came out a couple of years ago but I've been recommended it by so any people recently. The blurb simply says that a boat washes up to shore with a dead man and a crying baby leading to a couple having to make a life-altering decision – how could you not want to drop everything and find out more?!

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
There’s sadly no pretending that I fit into the YA category of readers but it’s just too hard to pass up a Sophie Kinsella book; she’s one of those writers who is so good she makes it looks effortless. I love that she’s tackling mental health issues in Finding Audrey as there’s a huge need to blow away the stigma and let young people know they’re not alone if they’re struggling. Knowing Sophie Kinsella’s style she’ll take a heavy topic and weave it into a story that still manages to put a smile on your face.
I let you go by Clare Mackintosh

 I was recently away for a weekend with a friend who was reading this and she barely looked up except to gasp occasionally and say ‘I didn’t see that coming!’ This psychological thriller seems like one that will be hard to put down so I’ll need to set aside a day where the only interruptions will be topping up the sun screen.  
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Liza Hoeksma is the author of More Than Enough, which is available from Amazon now. You can find Liza on Twitter here

When does a friendship become an affair? Katie loves being a mum but having three kids under three may be more than even she can handle. With her husband working long hours, could a seemingly supportive friendship cross a line and jeopardise a family’s future? Meanwhile Katie’s sister Amy looks to have met her perfect match in actor Charlie, but will his new found fame change everything?
If you'd like to part in My Summer Reads, do get in touch! More details and ideas of how to get involved here


Monday 6 July 2015

My Summer Reads: My Summer Reading List

I've put together my reading list for the summer and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into them all!
Click to see my review [when available]
What will you be reading this summer?
If you'd like to part in My Summer Reads, do get in touch! More details and ideas of how to get involved here

Friday 3 July 2015

My Summer Reads: A Giveaway

To celebrate the return of My Summer Reads, I'm running a giveaway. Enter below for your chance to win the following prizes
A Beginner's Guide To Salad (ebook)
Everything Changes But You (ebook)
A summer-themed bookmark
A lipgloss
Haribo sweets
There will be one winner who will receive the above prizes, plus two runner up prizes of the ebooks plus a bookmark.
To enter, fill in the Rafflecopter form below. There are options to earn extra entries in the giveaway but these are not mandatory.
The giveaway will end on Wednesday 15th July
Rafflecopter will select the winners at random, who will be notified via email before being announced on the blog
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Remember, you can take part in My Summer Reads here on the blog. Why not share your summer reading list or recommend a favourite summery read? More details here

Thursday 2 July 2015

#AmWriting The End

So yesterday, I typed the best words a writer can: The End.
Although this is the only the end of the first draft, it was such a relief to actually get there after my recent slump. I'm not sure where the last 50,000 words came from, but they're there and even if they turn out to be rubbish, at least I have something to work with in the second draft!
I've already made a few notes of things I need to be aware of or change in the second draft. I know my characters much more now than I did back in April when I started, so I can apply what I've learned from the beginning. Plus, the timeline has gone a bit wonky so that will definitely need sorting!
But while there is still work to be done, I'm still going to celebrate reaching the book's first 'The End'!