Friday, 31 January 2014

Review of Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn - Tilly Tennant

The bit on the back…

There’s only one man for Bonnie, and that’s Holden Finn.

The problem is that Holden Finn is a twenty-three-year-old pop megastar with his boy band, Every Which Way, and has no idea she exists. Not only that, but half the women in the world want to be Mrs Finn, including Bonnie’s teenage daughter, Paige. The real men in Bonnie’s life do nothing but let her down, but a man you can’t possibly have can never do that… right?

Then Paige wins a radio competition to meet Holden and the band, and Bonnie’s carefully-constructed world starts to unravel. She is about to find out that you should be very, very careful what you wish for…

Firstly thank you to lovely author Tilly Tennant for sending me a copy of this great story to review.

Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn is the story of 35 year old Bonnie and her almost obsessive crush on boyband sensation Holden Finn, of “Every Which Way”. The story follows Bonnie as she resists delivery man Max’s advances, deals with the idea of her celebrity crush inverting and the endless waiting for the reappearance of a suave Frenchman a.k.a. the father of Bonnie’s daughter Paige.

Bonnie is the main character and the whole story is from her POV. This really suited the book because if there has ever been a character who needs the readers on her side, it’s Bonnie. She’s had a bit of a crap couple of years after being walked out on by Henri.

I really liked Bonnie; she is sweet and endearing, and really caring. She’s always trying to do her best by Paige with what little money she has after bills are paid. I loved her crush on Holden. It made Bonnie very real to me and so you will find it easy to relate to her. Whether we admit it or not, we all have a celebrity crush! I loved that she wrote and re-wrote letters she never sent to Holden because it was like you were let in on a little secret part of her that no-one else knew about.

I admired Bonnie for how she brought up her daughter and was effectively putting her own life on hold to make sure Paige was happy.

The other characters complimented Bonnie’s down to earth personality. My favourite was probably Max, he was persistent in his pursuit for Bonnie and he really showed how much he cared for her. He also seemed to reaffirm her self-worth for her after Paige’s father walked out on her.

I thought the story was beautifully written; it was charming and always held my interest meaning I was turning pages late into the night. I am eager to see what Tilly will have for us next.

Find Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn on Amazon.

Erin x

P.S. My Holden Finn is Ryan Gosling, who's yours?

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Out today! The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson - Paige Toon!!

Today is the release of Paige Toon's new Young Adult title The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson. This story follows on from Paige's much loved chick-lit series about Meg, Johnny and their hectic life. I cannot wait to read this book!

Released: 30th January 2014
Published by Simon & Schuster UK

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Something Old

Last year I had a bit of a spotlight on some of the YA books that were my favourites when I was a teenager. When I was digging some of them out of my cupboard I came across this book which was another one of my favourites. The book is called Jill and the Perfect Pony and was first published 54 years ago! This book originally belonged to my mum, she got it as a prize from Sunday school when she was a kid and she passed it on to me when she found it again.

I was totally dubious about this when she first gave it to me. For one thing, it was a hard back, at the time I was used to reading paperbacks and the concept of a hard back that was heavy and clunky to read was a bit of a weird one! Secondly it was about horses, apart from my gran taking me for some horse riding every Friday when I was about 3 or 4 years old, I hadn’t really been that interested in having my own. Thirdly, if my mum had had it when she was little that meant it was ANCIENT! Or so I thought at the time anyway.

However, even though I judged it by its cover, I’ve read it quite a few times now; there is just something about it. I’m not sure if it’s the weight of the paper it’s written on, the comforting smell of the old pages or if it’s just the old fashioned writing, either way I love it and will definitely be passing it on. What is the oldest book you’ve ever read? Have you had a book passed on to you that you have treasured and have passed/will pass down to your children?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Review of Hopeless - Colleen Hoover

The bit on the back…

Sky, a senior in high school, meets Dean Holder, a guy with a promiscuous reputation that rivals her own. From their very first encounter, he terrifies and captivates her. Something about him sparks memories of her deeply troubled past, a time she's tried so hard to bury. Though Sky is determined to stay far away from him, his unwavering pursuit and enigmatic smile break down her defences and the intensity of their relationship grows. But the mysterious Holder has been keeping secrets of his own, and once they are revealed, Sky is changed forever and her ability to trust may be a casualty of the truth.

Only by courageously facing the stark revelations can Sky and Holder hope to heal their emotional scars and find a way to live and love without boundaries.

I’ve seen Colleen Hoover’s books being talked about on twitter; I’ve had fellow bloggers write Top 3 Book Boyfriend features for the blog featuring Dean Holder from Hopeless as one of their top 3, so naturally I added Losing Hope to my TBR. I then found out that actually Losing Hope is the second in the series and that the first was actually Hopeless, so I swapped them on my TBR and downloaded it.

The story is about Sky, a 17 year old, home schooled girl who just wants to be normal and fit in, even though her upbringing has been anything but normal – adopted, no TV, no mobile phone, no public school. That is until her senior year when she manages to cajole her mum Karen into letting her attend the local public school to complete it. On her first day her best friend Six’s reputation precedes her and so the name calling begins, however she is rescued by Breckin, who replaces Six as Sky’s best friend while Six goes transatlantic. If all of that isn’t enough on your first day of public school Sky also meets Dean Holder, who mistakenly thinks that she is someone else. This is the start of their relationship but from that very moment, even though she is terrified, Dean has a hold over her.

Right, what a story. I really liked Sky, the whole story is narrated by Sky, which is good because there is such a huge story for Sky here, but is also important because Losing Hope is narrated by Dean. Sky is a bit no-nonsense. She does what she wants but toes the line with her mother. She’s adopted but not really that affected by it, and she loves Karen. Holder changes that for her. He evokes emotion within her that starts to bring back memories of before she was adopted, some, not exactly nice.

Dean Holder is your typical book boyfriend, all hot and full of arrogant attitude and swagger and just appeals to every member of the opposite sex. He automatically has this powerful hold over Sky, but because it’s all told from Sky’s POV you don’t really get to know what’s going on with Holder other than his facial expressions. It’s still obvious he feels plenty for Sky though.

Typical teen romance this is not though because when everything seems to be working out the shit hits the fan in what is one of the biggest plot twists I have ever seen. I won’t tell you anymore about it other than that. It was huge, I didn’t think it was unrealistic or farfetched either. There are some quite deep issues explored in the book as well so brace yourself for that but it’s handled delicately. I’m definitely looking forward to reading Losing Hope!

Erin x

Monday, 27 January 2014

Author Interview - Holly Martin

So excited about this post! Today I have the fantastic author lady Holly Martin to welcome to the blog. I read Holly’s fantastic YA Fantasy novel The Sentinel, first in The Sentinel series, at the end of last year and I had a whole bunch of questions that I was desperate to ask Holly about the characters, the story and her freakin’ awesome imagination! Here is the interview!!

Q1 – Tell us about your novel The Sentinel

It's a fast paced, action packed, fantasy adventure with great twists and superpowered beings.  It's a story about Eve and her destiny to save the world, a story of friendship, loyalty and love.

Q2 – Why fantasy, what inspired you to write in this genre?

I love writing fantasy because anything and everything can happen.  The only limits are your imagination. The Sentinel is filled with super powered and super strength beings, amazing stunts and shape shifters and I love that when writing fantasy the impossible becomes possible.

Q3 – Eve is the main character from The Sentinel. Was it natural that your hero would be a female character, did you ever contemplate having a male lead?

Great question.  When I wanted to write a book like this, I looked around at the other teenage fiction books in this genre and realised that most of the leads were men or boys.  Alex Rider, Young James Bond, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, there seemed to be a distinct lack of strong female characters.  The girls I taught all loved these books, the action, stunts, the fantasy as much as the boys did and I wanted to write a book that had a good role model for girls.  I started writing this book about five years ago.  Thankfully there are a lot more books with female leads now and I think this is a great thing.  Also, as far as I was concerned, there had to be a love story, one of those love lasts for eternity type loves and I felt this could only really be portrayed properly from the girl's point of view.

Q4 – Eve has super strengths that she wasn’t even fully aware of. How did you come up with all of her powers, did anything inspire them?

I used to watch Charmed when I was younger; I loved that show, so I was inspired by that.  I did some research into super powers and super heroes and found out there was a huge range out there to choose from. I wanted Eve to have them all.

Q5 – The thing that marks Eve out as different is that she has little bits of every other character’s powers. Did you decide that you would create her character like this at the start of the process, or did she get more powers as the writing process progressed?

She was always going to be really powerful, that was important.  She had been created to be more powerful than any other living thing.  The Oraculum, the council of nine that created her, had foreseen the end of the world and they knew that they themselves, the nine most powerful beings on this planet, would not be enough to stop it so they created Eve.  So she had to have some incredible strength and powers.  She does get more powerful as the books progress and she becomes more adept at using them

Q6 – Eve has the weight of the world, almost literally, on her shoulders. That’s a lot for someone of 17 years of age to deal with! How did you make sure she was strong enough to cope with that?

I just ensured she was surrounded by people that loved and cared about her.  Her relationship with Seth is very important here, she knows she has to fight for a world with him in.  Having Quinn and Persia and her Guardians around her to support her and cheer her on helps with the huge transition that she goes through.

Q7 – Which character do you identify most with?

I'd like to say Eve as I always thought that I was destined for great things when I was a child, saving the world type things, not just winning the 100m relay or getting ten out of ten on a spelling test.  I always thought that there was some big secret and that one day my destiny would be revealed to me.  I'm still waiting.

Q8 – If you could chose a favourite part of the story, what would it be?

The end of book 1 between Seth and Eve made me cry, I love the part with Edward and the part with the cat.  Can't say more than that, it would spoil it for those that haven't read it yet.

Q9 – Do you have a favourite character?

Seth, definitely Seth, I just love him so much. I want my own Seth.  The love he has for her, that 'I would die for you' type of love, I love that.

Q10 – We’ve already discussed a dream cast for Eli (Chris Hemsworth), Seth (Liam Hemsworth) and Quinn (Jesse Spencer). What about the girls? You have some kick ass characters to cast there, is there anyone that comes to mind?

Oh that's so hard, Eve would be very hard to cast.  I like Saoirse Ronan, but the actress that plays Eve would have to have some serious balls, the tricky part is Eve being so young too, she's 17. Persia could be played by the same actress who played Ginny Weasley; she's sweet but fiery too.

Q11 – At the end of the story you let us have a look at what’s next for the characters – talk about a tease! Can you tell us anything about the second in the series?

Eve becomes stronger in her power and can achieve some amazing things but her new gifts draws the attention of The Oraculum, the council that created her and they're not particularly happy about the way she uses her powers.  When she is summoned to their castle to answer for her actions she becomes aware of a rift between them that could not only endanger her life but the whole planet too.  Her love for Seth grows too and we see their relationship blossom.  But the book is also full of darkness.  Not everyone Eve loves will survive.

Q12 – Did you always know that this was going to be a series or did it start to take form when you were writing The Sentinel?

Initially when I started writing it, it was going to be a trilogy, but there was so much going on that I couldn't possibly finish it in three books, so it is now a four book series.

Q13 – When can we expect the second book to be released?

April I hope.

Q14 - You already know I absolutely loved this story, what would you say to other readers thinking about reading this story?

I’d say what are you waiting for!
So many people have said to me that fantasy or Young Adult books are not their sort of thing at all but how much they loved The Sentinel anyway.  People are put off by the Teen label but if you enjoyed Harry Potter then I think you will love this.  Read the first few chapters which is free on Amazon, if you like what you see, then read the rest.

Q16 – You have a chick-lit novel coming out, The Guestbook – can you tell us a little about that?

I love The Guestbook because it’s a very different way of telling a story.  The story unfolds solely through the messages left in the guestbook of a holiday cottage.  Annie Butterworth owns the cottage and lives next door, it is her story told through her interactions with the guests, plus we get a snapshot into the unique and unusual lives of the guests too.

Q17 – How has the writing process differed, if at all, between The Sentinel and The Guestbook?

The Sentinel is fantasy so anything can happen, people can fly or shoot flames from their hands.  The Guestbook is set in the real world, so no super powers unfortunately.  The writing process was very different in The Guestbook, because its not a traditional story, so I had to think carefully about the type of information that could be portrayed in the book.  It was quite liberating because all the stuff that normally makes up a book like the setting or the descriptions of people or what they were wearing didn't really appear in this story.

Now for some Holly questions!
Q18 – What do you get up to when you’re not busy writing?

I work long hours, sometimes I'm out the house 14 hours a day so anytime I have, that's not taken up with work is normally dedicated to writing.  I'm on Twitter way too much.  Seeing friends at the weekends. I love going to the cinema, that's probably my favourite thing to do, meals out with friends.  I used to scuba dive a lot but unfortunately a terrible seasickness put a stop to that.
Q19 – Do you have a favourite book?

That's way too hard, one book, just one.  I loved The Host and Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, loved Shadow Forest by Matt Haig, love Winter Wonderland by Belinda Jones, Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella and On the Edge , Richard Hammond's autobiography after his car accident was so honest and raw.

Q20 – What authors/genres do you typically enjoy?

Chicklit, but the Happy Ever After type, the light hearted, rose tinted type, not the miserable sort that makes you cry buckets. I love fantasy, dystopian YA too.

Q21 – What are you most excited for in 2014?

Sherlock Holmes, can't wait for that.  Oh and the publication of The Guestbook that's very exciting eeek!!!

Thanks again to the wonderful Holly. You can read my review of The Sentinel here.

!!Cover Reveal!! - The Guestbook by Holly Martin

Today I am super, SUPER, excited to be taking part in another cover reveal brought to you all by Gosling Girls Book Tours. This time we are revealing the cover of lovely author Holly Martin’s new book The Guestbook!

Here is the cover, I think it’s gorgeous!

Publisher: Carina UK
Release Date: 14th February 2014

The bit on the back…

Welcome to Willow Cottage – throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze and make yourself completely at home. Oh, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook!

As landlady of Willow Cottage, the young widow Annie Butterworth is always on hand with tea, sympathy or strong Norfolk cider - whatever her colourful array of guests.  A flick through the messages in the leather-bound cottage guestbook gives a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of everyone who passes through her doors.

This includes Annie herself - especially now celebrity crime writer Oliver Black, is back in town. He might grace the covers of gossip magazines with a different glamorous supermodel draped on his arm every week, but to Annie, he’s always just been Olly, the man who Annie shared her first kiss with.

Through the pages of the Guestbook Annie and Olly, along with all the guests that arrive at the seaside retreat, struggle with love, loss, mystery, joy, happiness, guilt…and the odd spot of naked rambling!

Forget sending postcards saying 'wish you were here' - one visit to Willow Cottage and you’ll wish you could stay forever.

About Holly

I live in sunny Bedfordshire in a house with round windows. I studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of my colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when I knew I had to escape. I quit my job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, I emerged wide eyed and terrified that I now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. I taught for four years before History Off The Page came to my school to do a Tudor day. I now drive round the country in my little white van, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. I love to write. The characters do exactly what I want them to do, most of the time. Sometimes they do seem to go off and do their own thing without my permission. It is complete escapism into a world where I have full control. I've been writing for four years now, every spare second I have, I'm scribbling ideas in a notebook or typing a scene on my laptop. I have written three romantic fiction books. Changing Casanova and The Chainsaw Masquerade were recently shortlisted for the Festival of Romance New Talent Award 2012.  My short story, One Hundred Proposals, won the Belinda Jones Travel Club short story competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. My fantasy adventure young adult book, The Sentinel, was published in October and it hit three different bestsellers lists within twenty four hours.  I won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 and this is my winning story.

Follow Holly on twitter at @hollymartin00

brought to you by

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Review of You Had Me At Hello - Mhairi MacFarlane

The bit on the back…

 ‘Think of the great duos of history. We're just like them.’

‘You mean like Kylie and Jason? Torvill and Dean? Sonny and Cher?’

‘I think you’ve missed the point, Rachel.’

Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart. It’s been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away.

They’d been partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on: Ben is married. Rachel is not. Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.

This book is an absolute steal from Amazon at £1.50. This is Mhairi’s debut novel and it is really chick-lit at its best.

You Had Me At Hello is the story of Rachel and Ben. Rachel and Ben became friends at Uni together when they realise they were on the same course. Their friendship is one of the ones that feel like it will last for ever. Until one night, when close becomes too close and the friendship they have falls apart before their eyes in a muddle if misunderstanding. Years later, all grown up and freshly single Rachel runs into Ben and all the memories come flooding back, but one major thing stands between them being friends again and that is Ben’s wife.

I had a few books at the top of my TBR to read before the end of January and when I asked my twitter followers which one they thought I should read next I was bombarded with tweets about how great a read this was. And they weren’t wrong.

Rachel is very easy to get to know and like. Her wonderful relationship with her great group of friends contrasts perfectly with her rocky relationship status and the turbulent reconnection with Ben. Her friends are a close knit group, each with their own personality but each one props up a part of Rachel’s personality to make her stand out. Her friends will also have you laughing out loud throughout most of the book. I think nearly every second page had me laughing.

Ben seems like the perfect book boyfriend, and real life boyfriend. He’s smart and funny and completely gorgeous. His instant connection at Uni with Rachel is easy to mistake for something more than it is even though I was reading it wishing that they would be more than friends. Adult Ben is just like the younger Ben only grown up. Still handsome and funny, but now has the power of hindsight – that wonderful thing – and a wife. His grown up life is leaps and bounds ahead of Rachel and she compares them quite often.

Their present day story runs in parallel with their past history throughout the book with Rachel narrating. Most of the story is focused on Rachel and her current life though so having her narrate the whole story really helps you to empathise with her completely and really get to like her!

Mhairi has debuted with this fantastic story that is the epitome of everything that chick-lit is and much more. Perfect for fans of Paige Toon, Sophie Kinsella and Lindsey Kelk.

Erin x

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Review of Rome (Marked Men #3) - Jay Crownover

The bit on the back…

Cora Lewis is a whole lot of fun, and she knows how to keep her tattooed bad boy friends in line. But all that flash and sass hide the fact that she never got over the way her first love broke her heart. Now she has a plan to make sure that never happens again: she’s only going to fall in love with someone perfect.

Rome Archer is as far from perfect as a man can be. He’s stubborn and rigid, he’s bossy and has come back from his final tour of duty fundamentally broken. Rome’s used to filling a role: big brother, doting son, super soldier; and now none of these fit anymore. Now he’s just a man trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life while keeping the demons of war and loss at bay. He would have been glad to suffer it alone, until Cora comes sweeping into his life and becomes the only colour on his bleak horizon.

Perfect isn’t in the cards for these two, but imperfect might just last forever…

Rome is the third book in Jay’s Marked Men series. Rome Archer is the big brother of Rule Archer, whose story we read in the eponymous first book. Strictly speaking each in the series is about a different character from the first story but it’s a good idea to read them all in order, Rule, Jet and then Rome. The reason I would advise this is that you get to know a lot about Rome’s family history from Rule’s story, as they share some of the same troubled past.

Rome is back in Denver from his final tour of duty and to say he is taking it badly is the very least. He’s grumpy, unhinged and just a downright pain in the ass to everyone who loves him, because he doesn’t know where he fits in anymore. Life has gone on without him while he was away fitting in to the army, but now he’s back all is old roles have been filled. Cora, the store manager of the Marked tattoo parlour where Rule and the rest of the gang work has an immediate run in with Rome and it’s obvious from the beginning that there is a connection and a chemistry between them.

Because you already know who Rome is, you already have this respect for him. He’s an army veteran. He has fought for everything that is right in the world and has always had a protective role over his family and loved ones. He’s changed though and now has this harsh, brutal side of him that’s caused by the war and is Jay’s interpretation of a soldier returning from duty. Jay makes it very clear that her impression of Rome, and his characterisation is all purely fictional and it’s obvious that she has the utmost respect for those serving, but she completely captures Rome’s personality as everything that is the epitome of someone retuning home – to me anyway.

Cora is described in the books previous, and in this one, as a punk rock version of Tinker Bell, and is a complete fireball who lives up to her name. Her mismatched eyes and knack for meddling in every one of her friends lives, even when it’s not wanted but is usually correct, now extends to Rome as he is added to their circle. I liked Cora’s character anyway, and her meddling ways have only the best of intentions. She wants to save everyone, and I think that’s down to someone having saved her.

The story sets out in the same form as Rule and Jet’s story – narrated from both sides of the story, both characters bouncing off one another until their chemistry just over powers them. At this point, a flaw in one of the characters would start to drive a wedge between them, however because of another development, Cora is determined that it won’t happen to them and fights to stop it before it takes off. After all she has seen the effect of it happening to Shaw and Ayden previously.

This story is also a total tear jerker. Rome is the target of some serious hate from a young member of a motorcycle club and when it all starts to go down Rome is taken down with it. For about four or five pages I just read and cried, then read some more. It was a happy sad though, and in the epilogue you get a chance to see the characters coming full circle.

Along with learning more about Rome and Cora we also get to catch up with everyone else and in particular Asa who is Ayden’s brother from the second in the series, Jet. The next in the series will be about Nash – already looking forward to it!

Erin x

Friday, 24 January 2014

!!Cover Reveal!! Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn

Today I am super excited to help with the Gosling Girls Book Tours cover reveal for the wonderful Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn by Tilly Tennant.

Here is the cover, isn't it gorgeous!

The bit on the back...

There’s only one man for Bonnie, and that’s Holden Finn.

The problem is that Holden Finn is a twenty-three-year-old pop megastar with his boy band, Every Which Way, and has no idea she exists. Not only that, but half the women in the world want to be Mrs Finn, including Bonnie’s teenage daughter, Paige. The real men in Bonnie’s life do nothing but let her down, but a man you can’t possibly have can never do that… right? She’s safe inside her fantasy bubble.

Then Paige wins a radio competition to meet Holden and the band, and Bonnie’s carefully-constructed world starts to unravel. She is about to find out that you should be very, very careful what you wish ...

Release Date: 30th January 2013

Check out this great cover reveal video and tell us who your celebrity crush is!

About Tilly!

Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset but now lives in Staffordshire with her slightly nutty family.  Tilly is married to Mr Tennant (not that one, though a girl can dream). She likes nothing better than curling up in a quiet corner with a glass of wine watching the world go by, but can more usually be found taxiing her daughters to parties or taking them on emergency shopping trips. After a huge list of dismal and disastrous jobs over the years, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing, she began working as a temporary secretary in a hospital to boost her income whilst doing a degree in English and creative writing. This job lasted nine years. Not terribly temporary. But it does mean that she knows just what it’s like to make monumental admin cock-ups, spend the month’s wages in the hospital coffee shop and fall in love with all the doctors. As she’s a smug married, however, it’s fortunate that the doctors in question don’t usually feel the same way.

Tilly is represented by the wonderful, gorgeous Peta Nightingale at LAW.

Author Links:


WIN a £10 amazon gift voucher by commenting on Tilly's blog with your funniest celebrity crush encounter. Good luck!

this tour was brought to you by

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Review of Conditional Love - Cathy Bramley

The bit on the back…

Meet Sophie Stone, a thirty-something serial procrastinator. Tesco knickers, Take That and tea with two sugars is about as exciting as it gets. Sophie’s life is safe and predictable, which is just the way she likes it, thank you very much.

But when her boyfriend dumps her on Valentine’s Day and a mysterious benefactor leaves her an inheritance, even Sophie has to accept that change is afoot. There is a catch: in order to inherit, Sophie must agree to meet the father she has never seen.
Not a fan of surprises, Sophie would rather not; why not let sleeping dads lie? Besides, her mother would kill her.

With interference from an evil boss, bickering flat mates, warring parents and a sexy ex-boyfriend, Sophie has plenty to contend with without an architect who puts his foot in it every time he opens his mouth.

But it soon becomes clear that she will have to face the past and learn some uncomfortable home truths before she can finally build a future on her own terms.

I’ve been chatting with Cathy on Twitter for a couple of months now and she has featured on my blog a couple of times. Conditional Love is her debut novel, here is my review.

The story is about main character Sophie Stone who has just been chucked, on Valentine’s Day no less, by a man who was shaping up to be a consideration for settling down. Sophie isn’t a risk taker; the extent of excitement in her life is the three tin surprise dinner she makes. When she finds out that she has been left an unexpected inheritance, her life is turned upside down. She can access the inheritance on the condition that she meets her estranged father. Something that would upset her mother and her life as she knows it. But with the inheritance tantalisingly close and her dreams almost appearing reality Sophie is intrigued.

I liked most of Sophie straight away. I recognised some of myself in her – I am also a bit of a procrastinator, although not to Sophie’s extreme. She’s down to earth and just trying to get along with her life and finally reach adulthood. The only part I didn’t like is that she is completely blinded by what a ratbag her boyfriend Marc is. I was so frustrated reading about her feelings towards him the book I just wanted to bash her head to make her open her eyes and see what she should have instead of what she is settling for, because that’s exactly what she does.

Marc has got to be one of the most annoying characters I’ve ever came across. Seriously. It didn’t do the book any harm though because while I was busy hating him, I was also loving Nick. Nick is the architect that Sophie hires to help her realise the potential of her inheritance. In my mind Nick was a bit of a loveable geek. I would cast Matt Smith – better known as Dr Who – to play him. He was the complete opposite of Marc which was nice because I disliked him so much!

The story itself is quite different to anything I’ve read before, certainly a new story line in chick lit. Sophie has a love of Grand Designs which I can also relate to, and I really loved seeing all her plans pan out more or less the way she wanted. Her character developed throughout the story and you can really see her character changing to become a stronger, more sure of herself person who grabs hold of her life.

I’m looking forward to whatever is next from Cathy.

Erin x

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Review of A Beautiful Wedding - Jamie McGuire

A Beautiful Wedding is a short novella which ends the Beautiful Disaster/Walking Disaster series. It is not a new story which stands on its own. Instead it elaborates on the scene from the ending of both books – the wedding of Abby and Travis.

The story is told by both Abby and Travis in this novella which is nice because it ties together the narration from the first two books. It also allows you to get the full picture, both sides of the story in this packed scene.

If you’re considering buying this book you should have already read the first two full novels, otherwise it won’t make much sense to you!

We get to know a lot more from Abby behind her decisions for asking Travis to marry her and it’s a bit of debate about whether she is doing it for the right reasons or not. I kind of had a moment when I stopped liking Abby at this point because I had just finished Walking Disaster and was team Travis, however I got over it and I’m back to liking her.

Travis is like an over excited puppy about the wedding. He’s over the moon that Abby is ready to cement their relationship, and as you know from both stories he already bought the ring! He starts to come into his (new) element here as a grounded, calm and loving man instead of a wild, fighting youth. His calm demeanour offsets the total whirlwind of feelings that Abby is working her way through and brings a balance to the story.

It was short, but sweet and the perfect end to both tie the two stories together, but also to elaborate on one of the most important and pinnacle points in the story.

I loved this series!

Erin x

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Author Interview - Lauren Beukes

Last year I read an incredible book called The Shining Girls. I was given it as part or Cosmopolitan magazine’s book club. It wasn’t the genre I would usually go for, but it was phenomenal when I actually read it. I got in touch with Lauren and she agreed to an interview – and here it is!

Q1 – Tell us about your novel The Shining Girls?

It's the story of the girl who shouldn't have lived hunting a killer who shouldn't exist.

Q2 – What inspired you to write this story?

I came up with the idea on Twitter in random banter. "Hey, I should write a book about a time-travelling serial killer" and then quickly deleted the tweet because I thought, "yes, I really should!" Immediately, I had a really strong idea of the story, that it would take place over the 20th Century, showing how much has changed (and stayed the same - those loops and snarls of history) and the protagonists, through the opening scene: a limping man from the 30s approaching a little girl full of spark, with an impossible present and the terrible promise that he would be back to reclaim it.

Q3 – How did it feel to be inside the mind of a killer?

Eugh. Terrible. I wrote Harper as a real serial killer, not a diabolical Hollywood villain. He's loathsome and violent and opportunistic - pathetic in many ways, an impotent, nasty creature controlled by his compulsions.
Q4 – How did you feel about Harper when you were writing about him?

I tried to find some sympathy for him, the feeling that he's trapped, that he feels bound to do this, fated almost. But there's no redemption for him and he kills these smart, interesting, brave women who are so much more than he could ever be. It was awful to write and I dealt with it by hurting him at any opportunity.

Q5 – Kirby is such a strong character. How did you ensure this came through, even after everything that happened to her?

She came through strongly on her own. It was important to have the contrast between her as a little girl, brave, curious, engaged and her as an adult after she survives Harper's attack. Look, she's single-minded. She'd have a much better life if she were able to move on, but as she says to Dan, "how am I supposed to let this shit go?"

Q6 – What does your writing process look like?

A strong starting idea and a clear line of sight to the end, and a tangle of fishing line in the middle that I have to unsnarl to make it all work.

Q7 – Did you get the idea for the story and start from there, or did you have it all planned out where it would go before you wrote the book?

I always know my beginnings and my endings and the major plot points along the way, but the in-between bits are flying by the seat of my pants, figuring stuff out as I write it, leaving space for my subconscious to play, gleaning awesome details from my research that I can build into the story.

Q8 – I thought it was great, even though I was new to the genre. What advice would you give to a reader picking this book up and reading the genre for the first time?

Go in with an open-mind and trust in the writer to know where they're taking you. Hopefully, they'll pull it off.
Q9 – What can we expect next?

My new novel, Broken Monsters, is out next year. It's about a broken city, broken people, broken dreams - and how they might be able to put themselves back together again. It follows five characters brought together by a series of terrible murders in Detroit where the bodies are half-animal and half-human.
Now for some questions about you!

Q10 – What do you get up to when you’re not writing/working?

Spend time with my five year old daughter, dinner parties at home with friends, play boardgames, read, go for walks, go to the beach, play pool, dance, if there's a gig that starts early enough for a parent of a five year old.

Q11 – What inspired you to start writing?

I've wanted to be a writer since I was five years old and found out that you could get paid to make stuff up.

Q12 – Do you have a favourite author?

A few. David Mitchell, Alan Moore, William Gibson, Margaret Atwood, Jennifer Egan.

Thanks again to the wonderful Lauren for taking part. If you’ve not read The Shining Girls I strongly recommend that you do! You can find the review here!

Erin x

Monday, 20 January 2014

2014 Paperback Challenge - Part 2

The re-reads

So in the last post which you can catch here, I let you in on the first part of my challenge, the paperbacks that I’ve had on my shelf for a while but never read. Now I’m going to go through the books I’ve read and kept on my shelf to re-read.

1. How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff

The bit on the back…

Fifteen-year-old Daisy thinks she knows all about love. Her mother died giving birth to her, and now her dad has sent her away for the summer, to live in the English countryside with cousins she's never even met.
There she'll discover what real love is: something violent, mysterious and wonderful. There her world will be turned upside down and a perfect summer will explode into a million bewildering pieces.
How will Daisy live then?

I first read this years ago. I remember at high school my group of friends all read it. In October 2013 How I Live Now was released as a film, so before I see it, I want to back to the book before I watch it.

2. All American Girl – Meg Cabot

The bit on the back...

Sam lives in Washington DC, is the middle teenager between two very annoying sisters, and dyes all her clothes black. She has a best friend, she's not cool like her big sister, she doesn't have a boyfriend but thinks she's in love with someone, and she likes to draw. Her credentials as an "ordinary" girl who thinks she's a misfit (black clothes, not a cheerleader) are established immediately, and the story flies from there. Sam's appeal lies in how she's bothered about making things genuine in her life, whilst Cabot's winning touch is in her realism--the president is a normal guy who likes cookies; the plot where Sam saves him is not impossible; the resulting fuss is boring and her priorities lie elsewhere (making lists of Top Tens, worrying about who she wants to go out with, going to her drawing classes).

I think this might be one of my favourite YA books, and definitely my favourite Meg Cabot book. I have read, and re-read and re-read this story. I love it. I love that Sam is just a normal girl and then BAM! Not normal anymore. I also love that the story is interspersed with lists of Top Ten things that Sam has thought of. Pretty cool.

3. Juliet – Anne Fortier

The bit on the back…

'Of all the great love stories ever told, hers is perhaps the most famous. To me, she is the key to my family's fate. To you, she is Juliet.'
When Julie Jacobs inherits a key to a safety deposit box in Siena, she is told it will lead her to an old family treasure. Soon she is launched on a precarious journey into the true history of her ancestor Giulietta, whose legendary love for a young man named Romeo inspired Shakespeare's unforgettable story.
As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families who turned medieval Siena upside down, she begins to realize that the notorious curse, 'a plague on both your houses!' is still at work. It seems that the only one who can save her from her fate is Romeo – but where is he?
Spanning centuries, Juliet is an unforgettable adventure that hopes to rewrite the fate of the star-crossed lovers, and reunite them at last.

I read this quite a while ago. Since high school I have loved Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I was attracted to the title right away and the cover is beautiful. The story is about a girl called Juliet who discovers some family history and starts to dig around to find out more. It’s a great adventure and it has a really good looking book boyfriend in it.

4. Boy Meets Girl – Meg Cabot/5. Every Guy’s Got One

“Boy Meets Girl”

The bit on the back…

Meet Kate MacKenzie…idealistic office worker, reluctant deliverer of termination notices and queen of instant messaging. As sweet as sugar. Meet Mitch Hertzog…ever-smiling corporate lawyer, defender of the downtrodden and king of aborted dinner dates. Good enough to eat. Meet Ida Lopez…cake, cookie and pastry-maker extraordinaire, purveyor of the dessert trolley and goddess of all things mouth-wateringly yummy. As nice as pie. Together they must battle tyrants and despots to find truth, justice and the perfect double fudge pudding.

It was a forgone conclusion that if I liked Meg Cabot’s YA novels I would like her grown up novels. This is the second book in her “Boy” series. The first is “The Guy Next Door” and I re-read that recently to review it on the blog so I thought I would re-read it. I’m also going to re-read the third book in the series “Every Guy’s Got One”

The bit on the back

When cartoonist Jane Harris's best friend Holly announces that she's eloping to the Italian Riviera with longtime boyfriend Mark, and asks Jane to be her maid-of-honour, Jane jumps at the chance, delighted by the prospect of her first ever trip to Europe. What Jane doesn't gamble on is Mark's choice for best man, journalist Cal Langdon. It's hate at first sight for Jane and Cal. But when Holly and Mark's wedding plans hit a major snag that only Jane and Cal can repair, the two find themselves having to put aside their mutual dislike for one another in order to get their best friends on the road to wedded bliss - and end up on a path neither of them ever expected to tread...

6. Remember Me – Sophie Kinsella

The bit on the back…

Lexi wakes up in a hospital bed after a car accident, thinking it's 2004 and she's a twenty-five-year old with crooked teeth and a disastrous love life.But, to her disbelief, she learns it's actually 2007 - she's twenty-eight, her teeth are straight, she's the boss of her department - and she's married! To a good-looking millionaire! How on earth did she land the dream life??!
She can't believe her luck - especially when she sees her stunning new home. She's sure she'll have a fantastic marriage once she gets to know her husband again. He's drawn up a 'manual of our marriage', which should help.
But as she learns more about her new self, chinks start to appear in the perfect life. All her old colleagues hate her. A rival is after her job. Then a dishevelled, sexy guy turns up... and lands a new bombshell.
What the **** happened to her? Will she ever remember? And what will happen if she does?

I think Sophie Kinsella was the author I graduated to from young adult books. I remember reading The Undomestic Goddess and then being desperate to read this when it was out. It’s a brilliantly written story, it has you on the edge of your seat as you journey with Lexi as she tries to remember.

Erin x

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Review of Love Lessons - David Belbin

The bit on the back…

Rachel has a crush on her new English teacher. Mike fancies Rachel too. Neither plans to do anything about it. Then a school play brings them closer together. Really Close.

Romeo and Juliet is a very romantic play, but this is real life. The star-crossed lovers are constantly afraid of discovery, of losing everything. What began as a schoolgirl fantasy has turned into an X-rated nightmare.

I first read this years ago. It must have been at least 8 years ago and it was first released nearly 15 years ago, so why did I choose to download it? It’s stuck with me since I first read it. I think it stood out for me for two reasons. The first was that it was written by a male author, and at the time I hadn’t ever read anything by a male author so I was intrigued as to how this would be. Secondly, it was such a tangible subject, being a 16 year old girl at high school, I was the same age as Rachel the first time I read it and although our circumstances were not the same, there was always a possibility of a crush on a young teacher – I do recall a rather good looking PE teacher now I think about it.

So in the last two years of high school I borrowed this from the school library a few times, and when I was considering what books to buy with my Christmas gift card this book suddenly came to mind. Even though I’m now 23 and past the age to have a crush on my teacher it’s written about a subject that is so real I thought I would enjoy rereading it now, and I was right!

This is the story of fifteen year old Rachel. She excels in English but when her teacher has a sudden heart attack and dies, he is replaced with a much younger, fresh faced teacher. Rachel is still in shock at first over the death of her favourite teacher but soon the school play comes up and she finds herself getting closer and closer to Mike, until close is too close.

Mike is a brand new teacher, he has been trying to secure a job to start building a life for him and his student girlfriend. When this opportunity comes up, no matter how tragic the circumstances, he snaps it up and is thrown in at the deep end with one of the top English classes - the top English class that Rachel is in. Finding her at first stand offish he starts to feel attracted to her, although he is sure it is merely fleeting and that all teachers must feel this at some point he tries to ignore it. Until she kisses him.

The story is based upon such a real and controversial subject. It’s written in the third person and alternates between Rachel and Mike. This is good because it allows you to step back from the story. Assess each side and how that fits with the overall issue – the relationship between teacher and student. There is love between the two characters, and their relationship runs parallel to them both preparing for the school play of Romeo and Juliet. Their relationship could be construed as another take on Romeo and Juliet’s star crossed lover relationship.

At the end of the story, the author has written some notes as to how the story was inspired and he actually explains that he himself saw a teacher/student relationship first hand.

It’s an interesting read, it’s thought provoking too as it explores this widely controversial issue. Is love enough to conquer the controversy and opinions on a forbidden relationship?

Erin x

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Review of Jet (Marked Men #2) - Jay Crownover

The bit on the back…

With his tight leather jeans and a sharp edge that makes him dangerous, Jet Keller is every girl’s rock and roll fantasy. But Ayden Cross is done walking on the wild side with bad boys. She doesn’t want to give in to the heat she sees in Jet’s dark, haunted eyes, but even his touch sets her on fire.

Jet can’t resist the Southern Belle with mile-long legs in cowboy boots who defies his every expectation. Yet the closer he feels to Ayden, the less he seems to know her. While he’s tempted to get under her skin and undo her in every way, he knows first hand what happens to two people with very different ideas about relationships.

Will the blaze burn into an enduring love… or will it consume their dreams and turn them to ashes?

Jet is the second in Jay Crownover’s Marked Men series. The review of the first in the series, Rule, is available to read here. We are introduced to the characters Jet and Ayden in the first book as they are secondary character to Rule and Shaw. I’m really starting to enjoy this in books because you already have a little bit of background on the characters before starting to read further into their stories.

Jet is a rocker. He has the potential to be huge but his family ties hold him back from experiencing the full potential of his talent. He is living with Ayden and has been thinking of a relationship with her ever since the first time he turned her down. Did he make a mistake? Ayden is a Southern girl who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and fought to keep her older brother out of trouble. Her bid for freedom was college, the life she is trying to live now, but her past is starting to creep up on her and she is willing to push everyone away if it will protect them from her mistakes.

So as I’ve said I already knew who Jet was. He had a certain appeal already because he’s in a band, he seems like a bit of bad boy, he’s tatted up and pierced like his buddy Rule and he is a total ladies’ man. We get to see just how big a slut he is in the opening scenes of the book as Jet lives with Cora and Ayden and they give each of his conquests a mark out of ten. He has a bit of a troubled past, problems with an abusive, good for nothing but demeaning comments father who treats him and his mother terribly. He is still trying hard to stand up for his mum and trying to provide a better life for her, but in doing so he is putting his own dreams on hold, convincing himself that what he has is enough.

Ayden has been through a lot. It’s not clear at the start just how much shit she’s had to put up with thanks, or no thanks really, to her brother but it’s hinted at from the beginning. When she starts to see a stranger in the street on more than one occasion, and receives calls from a Southern phone number she starts to suspect that her past has finally caught up with her. When you learn more about what she’s gone through you can understand her actions and have a bit of respect for her. Jay has given her this strong, outgoing and feisty personality that totally matches up to Jet’s and it really comes out when once again she has to protect her brother.

The story is written from both Jet and Ayden’s points of view in alternate chapters. I really liked this about Rule and was glad to see that it was continued into the next in the series. I think having both side of the story was so important here because although they have had the same circle of friends for a while their lives weren’t as entwined as Rule and Shaw’s.

Another good thing about this being a series where the characters are all from the same close knit group is that you get to catch up with the other characters. Rule and Shaw have moved on as a couple and it’s nice to see what they are doing now. The next in the series is Rome.

Erin x

Friday, 17 January 2014

Review of Walking Disaster - Jamie McGuire

The bit on the back…

Set in the same time-frame as Beautiful Disaster, now we hear the story from Travis' point of view. Travis lost his mother at a very young age, but before she died she taught him two important rules...Love hard. Fight harder.

Growing up in a family of men who like to gamble and fight, Travis Maddox is a tough guy. Known for his bad reputation with women, and feared for his incredible fighting skills, all the boys want to be him, while the girls simply want him...

Abby Abernathy is the first girl to treat him the way he feels he should be treated, with dislike and disinterest. It is her lack of interest that sparks his determination to win her round. Will the invincible Travis 'Mad Dog' Maddox be defeated by a girl?

This is the story of Abby and Travis, which we already know from Beautiful Disaster, the first in the series. However, one major difference is that the story is told from Travis’s point of view, with him narrating the whole thing.

Although it is basically a retelling of the Beautiful Disaster story, the fact that we get to experience Travis’s feelings makes it a whole different story. So don’t be put off that it’s the same story! I strongly suggest you read Beautiful Disaster first, this will let you get to know the story so that you can just experience the sheer emotion packed into Travis’s side of things.

One thing we know about Travis is that he is a total bad boy. The epitome of them, if you will. He’s a slut, he drinks, he drives a bike, he’s tattooed and he likes to go against the rules. When he meets Abby he’s presented with a challenge – a girl that doesn’t want to be romantically involved with him. He and Abby get close and become best friends. He falls in love with her and quickly they become inseparable.

We get to understand more about Travis’s character and what has formed the man that he is. His mother died when he was very young, leaving him some life rules to live by and he has tried his best growing up to honour his mother’s memory by sticking to her guidelines.

“I had one rule: respect. For me, my family, and for my friends. Hell, even some of my enemies deserved respect.”

Seeing this story through Travis’s eyes lets you feel just how much emotion is brewing beneath his almost shatterproof exterior. It’s only hinted at in Beautiful Disaster, how much he feels for Abby, but in this retelling the emotion is explosive. His passion burns him up inside until he is almost blinded by it and will do anything, regardless of the consequences, to keep Abby his. Some of his questionable decisions are explained and you form a sympathy for Travis that you didn’t have reading the first story.

In Beautiful Disaster there are some gaps of time that you spend with Abby alone, while she isn’t with Travis. You have the opposite with Travis and you get another rush of emotion from the constant turmoil is life seemed to be in when he was without her. I was on the verge of tears more than a few times reading this story, because there is nothing that gets me more than a grown man crying, but the thought of Travis Maddox crying? Heart wrenching.

“I was grateful. In that moment, if I spoke, I might have broken down.”

I loved hearing the story from Travis, I loved bei
ng in his mind and seeing the world with and without Abby through his eyes. The epilogue at the end of this story has also got to be one of the best epilogues out there. I won’t give anything away but it’s just great!

Erin x

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Review of Private North - Tess Oliver

The bit on the back…

An internship cataloguing ancient pottery.

A war-hardened soldier who’s impossible to resist.

A priceless Egyptian artifact. And a devious scheme that is fraught with danger.

Antiquities major, Auggie Stonefield, is about to experience a winter break she will never forget.

As soon as I saw this on Amazon I knew, knew, that I would need to download it instantly and start it right away. Which I did. It’s only 202 pages long so I read it in about 3 hours without a break – because I couldn’t put it down!

Private North is the story of August Stonefield. She has been let down once again by her mother but instead of sulking she takes her favourite professor up on his offer of a winter break job, documenting artefacts with his son. His son who is known for being a big hit with the ladies on campus – couldn’t be that bad right? Then she finds out that Ethan isn’t an only child. He infact has a brother, Dalton – a war veteran with a painful injury keeping his memory of his tour, and loss of his best friend alive.

Auggie is a bit hard done to, in that her too rich family expect her to be something she’s not, and expect her to fall into line and be a participative part of the family she feels nothing in common with. When her favourite professor offers an escape from that reality, to one where she finds that she fits in, she jumps at the chance when she finds out she’s been let down again. You start to feel a natural empathy with Auggie because of her family set up.

She’s down to earth and wants to experience “normal”, which doesn’t mean that she is ungrateful that her family is loaded, more that she has always coveted the family set up that her friends have had.

The North family aren’t exactly a “normal” family as standards go either. They lost their wife and mother years ago and are now struggling to remain a family unit. Particularly with Dalton being a soldier, and now being home with a horrific injury and a guilt that is crushing him. He’s not your conventional hero, although he’s handsome and broody and angry, he’s also not the full package that he used to be and it’s affecting his outlook on life now. He comes home for the holidays and jumps straight into bed with Auggie – by accident! 
Their relationship is rocky to begin with, but his suffering with PTSD brings them closer together.

There is also an undercurrent running throughout the story of some dodgy dealing going on. Professor North finally lets Auggie in on the secret and turns the story completely on its head.

I fell in love with Tess’s writing last year when I first read Freefall. What I loved most about that was it was told from both Nix (male character) and Scotlyn’s (female character) point of views. Their story was so well written, full of love and also twists and turns that I’ve read a lot of Tess’s work since, most recently Clutch. Private North was nothing short of a continuance of the great writing style and ability to tell wonderful stories.

Erin x

Book News! Happy pub day for Alexandra Potter!

So today sees the return of a fantastic chick-lit author with her new novel The Love Detective. Alexandra’s other books include Don’t You Forget About Me and Me and Mr Darcy. You can read more about Alexandra and her books here.

The Love Detective by Alexandra Potter is out now!

The bit on the back…

In a way, I'm a bit of a love detective. Because what's a greater mystery than love?'

Meet Ruby Miller. A writer who makes happy-ever-afters happen. Until she discovers her fiance is a lying cheat and loses her faith in love. So when her sister invites her on a beach holiday to Goa to forget about him, Ruby jumps on a plane . . . and into an extraordinary adventure.

Stolen bags, a runaway sister and a handsome American stranger sweep Ruby into a magical mystery tour across India. Amid fortresses and fortune tellers, and a whirlwind of weddings, she uncovers fascinating stories of love, lost and found.

But as the mysteries deepen, secrets are revealed that turn Ruby's life upside down. And what started as a journey to find her sister, becomes a journey to find herself - and love - again.

Release Date: TODAY!

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton