Wednesday, 26 April 2017

BOOK NEWS: The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters

It's always great to hear about new chick-lit authors, and now HQ Digital has a new writer on the block! The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters by Jaimie Admans (author of Kismetology) will be released in June. So if you fancy an escape to France...

Where dreams come true…?

Wendy Clayton stopped believing in fairy tales a long time ago. Instead, she has a ‘nice’ life. Nice job. Nice flat. Absolutely no men. Until her life is turned upside-down when her elderly neighbour, Eulalie, passes away and leaves her the Ch√Ęteau of Happily Ever Afters!

But there’s a catch: she must share the sprawling French castle with Eulalie’s long-lost nephew, Julian. And no matter how gorgeous he is, or how easily she finds herself falling head over heels, Wendy needs to find a way to get rid of him…

Because surely happily ever afters don’t happen in real life?

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Stuck With You by Carla Burgess

What's can be more scary than being stuck in a lift? (Okay, okay. Many things. But still.) How about being stuck in a lift with the college crush you stalked adored?

This is exactly what happens to Elena in Stuck With You, the new novel from Carla Burgess (author of Marry Me Tomorrow). Can we just appreciate the prettiness of this cover for a moment?

The cover and premise are what attracted me to this novel. It seemed quite fun, even though I'm not normally one for overly-sweet romances. 'But,' you may ask, 'you blog about chick-lit. How can you not like romance?!' This is true, and I do enjoy romance in my reads - I just like more to a story than two people falling in love.

Which is probably why I didn't enjoy this novel quite as much as I'd expected.

Elena has fantasised over colleage heartthrob Daniel Moore for years. In fact, she constantly replays in her mind the moment of his prom-night kiss to this day, even though she's older and in a long-term relationship with boyfriend Alex.

However, things haven't been too good with Alex for some time, and this lack of passion is confirmed when Alex, quite horribly, dumps her. Forced to live with her parents again in her teenage room (which amusingly contains the 'Daniel Box' full of colleage mementoes...), Elena intends to embark on a new Alex-free life.

But things soon change when she gets trapped in a supermarket elevator...with none other than Daniel Moore.

The chance encounter leads to some interesting conversation and reminiscing (after the initial awkwardness) - after all, which girl didn't fancy the sexy, confident aspiring rock star Daniel? Soon they're meeting up, and on a journey that'll determine whether or not their lift experience was a crafty act of fate...

This was a sweet book. If you like boy-meets-girl, getting-to-know-you stories, then Stuck With You should be on your reading list. To me, however, it was just 'okay'. I think I just expected more from it, maybe more humour or events - something other than a predictable romance. I found myself skim-reading a lot of chapters, and only because I wanted to find out what happened at the end - mainly with Alex (who, I have to say, is horrible. Almost TOO horrible. I don't think I've ever wanted to punch a chick-lit character more than this guy). I wanted to know if he might get some sort of comeuppance, if just for the way he treated Elena. At first I felt that she could have stuck up for herself a bit more, but I know that sometimes it's best to just move on.

I liked Elena, and after her lack of luck at the beginning of the book, I wanted her to find happiness. I found her lift encounter with Daniel to be sweet and a bit funny (I think for some of us, bumping into your teenage crush would be horrifying!)

Stuck With You is a good read for romance fans. I wish I could say I enjoyed it more, but I just think it fell flat after a certain point, and there wasn't much to the story besides the two of them getting to know each other as they went about their day-to-day lives. That said, I don't think this was an issue with the book or the author (especially seeing as most readers have loved the novel, and it's gained some great reviews). I think it was just down to personal preference - I only took a chance on this obvious love story because it seemed more interesting than others. I know this may seem like an odd review, but I aim to be fair to both readers and authors in my reviews, and I truly feel that this was not a bad book, it just wasn't my kind of thing.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, 24 April 2017

UNCOVERED PICKS: Three New Thrillers

For the fans of psychological thrillers with some great twists, here's another selection of new and upcoming novels to look out for!

The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite - released on 12th May
A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness - until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk? 

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

When I Wake Up by Jessica Jarlvi - released on 1st June
'Why won't Mummy wake up?' 

When Anna, a much-loved teacher and mother of two, is left savagely beaten and in a coma, a police investigation is launched. News of the attack sends shock waves through her family and their small Swedish community. Anna seems to have had no enemies, so who wanted her dead?

As loved-ones wait anxiously by her bedside, her husband Erik is determined to get to the bottom of the attack, and soon begins uncovering his wife's secret life, and a small town riven with desire, betrayal and jealousy. 

As the list of suspects grows longer, it soon becomes clear that only one person can reveal the truth, and she's lying silent in a hospital bed...

Lie to Me by Jess Ryder - released 19th April
Three minutes. That’s all it takes for Meredith’s entire world to fall apart when she watches the videotape of her four-year-old self with Becca, the mother who abandoned her.

Meredith can’t believe what her eyes have seen. Yet what if her memory has locked away the painful reality of her childhood? Can there be any truth in the strange and dangerous story her mother forced her to tell on camera? 

The search for answers leads Meredith to Darkwater Pool, the scene of the murder of a young woman, Cara, over 30 years ago. What could possibly be the link between her mother and the victim?
To find the truth Meredith must search through a past that is not her own. The problem is, she’s not the only one looking…

Friday, 21 April 2017

UNCOVERED INTERVIEWS: Lilac Mills

Happy Friday all! Today, the lovely Lilac Mills is kicking off the weekend with an interview. Her new novel, Under the Cherry Tree, will be released next month and is a feel-good romance about dog groomer Jenni (and her loyal friend...)

Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
Under the Cherry Tree is a tale of love and hope, waggy tails, and cold noses.

What inspired you to write Under the Cherry Tree?
My gorgeous little Westie died last year, and I felt I wanted more than a grave to remember her by. This seemed such a fitting tribute, and many of the characteristics of Millie in the book came from my own little dog.

Where do you do most of your writing?
Anywhere I can! Whenever I've got a spare five minutes, no matter where I am, I'll write. I always carry a writing pad and a pen with me.

What is your favourite book?
Wuthering Heights - it's so dark and twisted, and a far cry from the chick lit I tend to read now. I read it when I was a teenager, and it's stuck with me ever since.

What part of Under the Cherry Tree did you enjoy writing the most?
Spoiler alert here! Millie's death scene. It actually made me cry when I was writing it, and each time I revisit it, I cry again.

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
Georgina from the Famous Five books. I first read a Famous Five story when I was 11 and I really wanted to be her. She was sassy, tomboyish and not a typical girl. She made me realise that females don't have to be stereotypical, as they were often portrayed in those days.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
First you've got to write and keep writing until you finish your manuscript, and that's easier said than done. It takes determination and perseverance to write a novel. So basically, what I'm saying is, don't give up. If you want it badly enough you'll find a way to complete it and get it out there.

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
I've started on a new novel (which I hope to be out by the end of the summer), called Elephant and Pinky Moon. It's about a young woman who is older than her years, and her grandmother, who most assuredly isn't!

Thanks, Lilac!

You can find out more about Lilac Mills by visiting her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Under the Cherry Tree by Lilac Mills

My dog didn't like men. Actually that was a lie – she didn't like the men I chose. The only ones who rocked her world had been my father (who was no longer with us), Ross (who was gay), and the butcher on the high street (for obvious reasons).” 

When Jenni Meadows has the opportunity to expand her dog-grooming business she takes it, and when a nice man appears on her horizon but fails to make any sparks fly, she decides she has enough on her plate with her business without adding a boyfriend into the mix.

Besides, Millie doesn’t like him and when her dog doesn’t like a man, Jenni knows all about it. So why does Millie take a very strange liking to the new vet, especially since he has a taciturn expression, wears a wedding ring, and wields a needle?

Under the Cherry Tree is a tale of love and hope, waggy tails, and cold noses.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

BOOK NEWS: The Man I Thought You Were by Leah Mercer

Leah Mercer, author of Who We Were Before (and who also writes romantic comedies under the name Talli Roland), returns with her next novel The Man I Thought You Were, in which Anna's husband is keeping some very deep secrets. The novel will be released in August.

One fine autumn evening, Anna returns from work and starts making dinner, eager to welcome home her husband, Mark. It’s just like any other day in their ten-year, Pinterest-perfect marriage—until he says he’s leaving her.

Discovering that the man she thought she knew better than anyone else is capable of abandoning it all sends Anna reeling. She believed the life they’d built together – and the bright future they’d imagined—counted for everything. How can he walk away?

The truth is Mark is battling secrets of his own—secrets Anna knows nothing about. A painful past and an uncertain future threaten to bring his life down around him—and he’ll do anything not to expose her to that.

But unravelling the past is lonelier than Mark could ever have imagined and, as the days turn to months, Anna worries the separation will break them forever. Can she bring him back from the brink of self-destruction before it’s too late, or will she discover that she never really knew him at all?

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses by Carole Matthews

I’ve been a fan of Carole Matthews since reading The Only Way is Up quite a few years ago. Carole’s novels are always nice to curl up with, and are usually full of relatable characters and sweet, believable romance. So when I received a copy of her latest novel, Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses, I was looking forward to reading right away.

Christie is a single, forty-something mum to teenager Finn. She spends most of her days working as a secretary in London, and enduring the daily commute to and from the capital every day. When she isn’t working, Christie turns her attentions to crafting, working on beautiful creations and whiling away her spare time in a world of pretty paper and handmade gifts. To do it professionally would be a dream come true, but for Christie, it seems worlds away.

That is, until her impressive crafting talent lands her an opportunity that’s impossible to turn down – working for an American craft company that wants to extend its top-selling range in the UK.

Christie agrees, and soon finds herself not only doing the job of her dreams (and with a house full of craft supplies!) but also heading out for a training event where she meets the company’s handsome and rather charming Max Alexander.

Max seems lovely, and just as interested in Christie. But just as she’s beginning to live her dream life, a heartbreaking revelation turns her world upside down. Soon she’s forced to make a choice, in order to put her family first.

A hint of love and success just isn’t enough to pull Christie away from her family. A dream can wait…can’t it?

Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses is a charming yet heartwarming story about realising dreams and the importance of family. One thing I enjoy about Carole’s novels is that even though they can be sweet and romantic, they also focus on genuine life issues and hardships, with characters so real and relatable that they soon feel like your close friends. Christie is no exception. She’s a hardworking, loving mum taking life as it comes, and when the opportunity of a lifetime arises, she grabs it. I found myself rooting for her throughout the book – and the lovely Finn, too -  and even when things do start to go wrong. Christie remains headstrong and determined. The romance in this novel is believable and does keep you guessing (I’m deliberately not mentioning much so as not to spoil it for you!) which is another aspect I liked a lot about this book.

Thank you again Carole, for another great read.

Rating: 5/5

Saturday, 15 April 2017

BOOK NEWS: Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman

Here's a debut novel I'm super excited about! Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman is out in May. In it, two successful yet struggling best friends hatch a plot to scam the wealthy women of their book club...

Best friends Annie and Sarah need cash—fast. Sarah, a beautiful, successful lawyer, wants nothing more than to have a baby. But balancing IVF treatments with a grueling eighty-hour workweek is no walk in the park. Meanwhile, Annie, a Harvard-grad chemist recently transplanted to Southern California, is cutting coupons to afford her young autistic son’s expensive therapy.

Desperate, the two friends come up with a brilliant plan: they’ll combine Sarah’s looks and Annie’s brains to sell a “luxury” antiaging face cream to the wealthy, fading beauties in Annie’s La Jolla book club. The scheme seems innocent enough, until Annie decides to add a special—and oh-so-illegal—ingredient that could bring their whole operation crashing to the ground.

Hilarious, intelligent, and warm, Crimes Against a Book Club is a delightful look at the lengths women will go to fend for their families and for one another.
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