Sunday, 30 December 2012

Top 10 Books of 2012

I have read so many fantastic books this year that I found it really hard to narrow down to just ten. However, here in no particular order are my ten favourite reads from 2012.

The Silent Touch of Shadows by Christina Courtenay

Read my review here:

When I Fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson

Read my review here:

The Queen's Secret by Victoria Lamb

Read my review here:

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Read my review here:

Tideline by Penny Hancock

Read my review here:

Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

Read my review here:

Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues by Trisha Ashley

Read my review here:

Sworn Secret by Amanda Jennings

Read my review here:

The Road Back by Liz Harris

Read my review here: 

The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow

Read my review here:

Friday, 28 December 2012

Review of Sworn Secret by Amanda Jennings

Sworn Secret is an outstanding novel by debut author Amanda Jennings.

Anna Thorne is killed in a terrible accident and her family are struggling to come to terms with her death. Just as they are beginning to get their lives back together, a devastating revelation about Anna's past threatens to tear them apart once more.

This is a novel about family, friendship and love. It takes you to the heart of the Thorne family, with parents Kate and Jon battling to come to terms with Anna's death and her younger sister Lizzie embarking on a dizzying love affair that threatens to lead to more heartache and pain for her family.

Intense, mesmerising and packed full of emotion, Sworn Secret had me captivated from the very first page. The book is so well written with short concise chapters that leave the reader on the edge f their seat desperate to know what will happen next. This is a stunning debut novel and I cannot wait to read more from this author.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Review of When I Fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson

Last year, It Started with a Kiss was one of my favourite books so I was thrilled to receive a copy of Miranda Dickinson's latest book 'When I Fall in Love' to review.

Elsie Maynard has suffered a terrible tragedy and is just beginning to put her life back together. She is working at 'Sundaes and Cher' a local ice cream parlour in Brighton when an unexpeced event leads her to meet ex-rockstar Woody Jensen.

Elsie is such a great heroine, she is witty, kind and a very strong person. I actually liked all of the characters and felt that Dickinson drew them all into the plot very well. I loved the descriptions of Brighton and Paris; the beauty and vibrancy of these cities is really brought to life in the novel.

This is a wonderful, heart warming novel packed full of moments that will have you laughing out loud. Have your tissues on hand though as there are a few tear jerking moments too. The cover is beautiful too!

I think this is my favourite book by Miranda Dickinson so far – highliy recommended.

Launch event for When I Fall in Love

I am a huge fan of Miranda Dickinson and was super excited to be invited along to her launch event for 'When I Fall in Love' last month. The event was for competition winners and was held at the Parlour restaurant at Fortnum and Mason. It was great to meet Miranda and the competition winners and chat about books, we were each given a signed copy of her latest book. It was fitting that the event was held at the ice cream parlour as this is one of the main settings in the novel. The ice cream on the day were delicious and enormous – you can see a picture of mine below.

Thank you to Becke at Avon for inviting me along to such a fantastic day!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Review of The Ripper Secret by Jack Steel

Liz has reviewed The Ripper Secret for us...

An interesting take on the perennial mystery of the murderer who wreaked havoc in London during the late 1880s, Jack Steel`s story is a delight to read. He takes us deep into the dirt, squalor and poverty of the Whitechapel and Spitalfields areas of London of the time – a place of dosshouses, brothels, and drunkenness where women have to sell themselves on the streets for 4 pence, the price of a doss-house bed for the night. If they were successful in their quest, they headed for the nearest pub more often than not and drank away their misery and their earnings, so had to start again.

It is against this background that the horrific murders take place, perpetrated by a very clever man who can remain invisible to the general population and to those who are trying to apprehend him. The police were an infant force then, lacking the organisation or the forensic expertise which we have come to take for granted in this day and age. In spite of the ineptitude and lack of organisation in the investigation, Inspector Abberline suspects the Ripper`s motive for the increasingly gruesome crimes but is hampered by his Commissioner, Charles Warren, at every turn – does Warren know more than he is letting on? Should a man in such a powerful position be doubted? Warren is an antisocial character placed in a job which he hates, vilified by the press and disliked by both the Home Secretary and those whom he commands – does he have a secret?

Jack Steel plunges us into a dark world of fear and abject hopelessness and builds the tension between the reader and his subject throughout the book – on the one hand, there is the insight of Inspector Abberline, on the other the progress of the killer and overall the one person who has knowledge. I could not put the book down! I thoroughly recommend it to readers of crime and historical novels. As no-one will ever discover who Jack the Ripper was, this is a very plausible take.

A great and very satisfying read.

Thanks Liz and thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending us a copy to review.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Review of Dream a Little Dream by Sue Moorcroft

Dream a Little Dream is the first book by Sue Moorcroft that I have read and I will definitely be looking out for more from this author.

The novel follows Dominic Christy and Liza Reece. Dominic suffers from narcolepsy and is desperate to get over his debilitating condition and return to his normal life and routine. Liza is a reflexologist working at a treatment centre called The Stables. When an opportunity to run The Stables arises Liza jumps at the chance. However, she has competition in the form of Dominic who proposes to open an activity centre.

This was a pleasure to read and I found myself glued to the pages from the very beginning. Both characters have issues that need to be overcome, in Dominic's case it is the narcolepsy. It is evident that Moorcroft has done a lot of research into this issue and I felt like I knew a lot about it by the end of the book.

A recommended novel – you won't be disappointed!

Thank you to Choc Lit for sending me a copy to review.

Dream a Little Dream is available to buy here in paperback:

A kindle edition is available to buy here:

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Review of The Sea Garden by Marcia Willett

The Sea Garden is the first book by Marcia Willett that I have read and I loved it.

The two main characters are Kate and Jess. Kate is the widow of artist David and Jess wins his prestigious award for her botanical painting. When Kate invites Jess to stay in Devon and see some of the places where David lived and worked she jumps at the chance. However, Jess doesn't realise that her own family is interwoven in local society and soon secrets hidden in the past threaten to burst forward and effect the lives of Jess and people around her.

Despite being very different, Jess and Kate are strong characters battling with family issues. For Kate, it is that her son and daughter-in-law are suffering marital problems, whilst Jess feels isolated now that her mother has moved to Belgium to start a new life. Willett has skillfully given each character an equal amount of space in the book and this really helps the reader to feel that they can get to know each one. There were also a number of sub-plots in the storyline, which fitted in with the plot really well and did not feel at all overwhelming.

This is a mesmerising, thought provoking novel, full of mystery and intrigue. The pace is quite gentle, but Willett packs in a number of twists in the plot that I hadn't been expecting. Overall, this is a really great read and I will now be on the look out for more from his author.

Thank you to Transworld for sending me a copy to review.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Interview with Carole Matthews - Author of With Love at Christmas

I'm delighted to welcome Carole Matthews to the blog today...

Please tell us a little about 'With Love at Christmas'

It’s a story about a chaotic family Christmas - we’ve all had them! The mum, Juliet Joyce, is a Christmas addict and can’t wait for it to come round every year. But this time she has a lot on her plate, her son is unemployed and living back at home as is her daughter, Chloe. She’s pregnant with her second child and has just left her partner. Juliet’s mum, at best eccentric, is behaving ever more erratically and her father is recovering from a heartbreak of his own. She’s doing her very best to hold it all together, but when she discovers texts from a mystery woman on her husband’s phone, she wonders if she’s been neglecting him too much. All she wants is her family to be happy and her home to be filled With Love at Christmas.

 Which character did you most enjoy writing about in the novel?

I think Juliet. She’s the linchpin of the family and always tries to do the right thing while all hell is breaking loose around her. The only constant in Juliet’s life is her dog, Buster! He doesn’t give her any trouble. The whole family were features in an earlier book called That Loving Feeling and I enjoyed that all so much that when it came to do this year’s Christmas book, I thought they would be the perfect people to revisit.

 With Love at Christmas is set around the traditions of the Joyce family. Do you have any specific traditions at Christmas?

My Christmas is full of little rituals that I always look forward to. Like Juliet in With Love at Christmas, I always have a glass of wine and a mince pie when I’m putting up my tree. We’ve also got into the habit of going into our next door neighbour’s house on Christmas morning, which we love. We start the day with a few glasses of fizz and a chat and then I go back to cook my Christmas dinner in a very happy state. We always watch The Muppet Christmas in the run up to the big day too. Once we see Kermit, that’s when Christmas really starts!
 What is your favourite thing about Christmas?

The food! Mince pies are my weakness and now that I write Christmassy books, I have the perfect excuse for eating them from July onwards. Thankfully, the shops are happy to oblige. I do take shortcuts with my Christmas day meal though. No one should spend Christmas morning peeling veg, so I buy everything pre-prepared from Marks and Spencers. A bit more expensive, but so worth it. I also love putting up my tree - so much so that this year we’re going mad and having two trees. I can’t wait.
 What are you working on now?

I’m currently writing my novel for summer 2014. My next book - A Cottage by the Sea - is already delivered and is out at the beginning of the new year. So not long to wait! There’ll also be a Christmas book for next year to keep my readers happy. 

Thanks Carole. Scroll down to read our review of With Love at Christmas.

Review of With Love at Christmas by Carole Matthews

With Love at Christmas is a heartwarming novel from one of my favourite authors - Carole Matthews.

It follows the life of Juliet Joyce as she prepares for Christmas. Juliet’s family life is anything but straightforward and seems to be getting more complicated as Christmas draws closer. Her mother’s behaviour is becoming stranger and more erratic by the day. Her father has his own tragedy to deal with and her daughter, Chloe, is expecting her second baby but has moved home without her partner. When Juliet’s husband Rick starts acting strangely she wonders if he has some secrets of his own.

I loved all of the descriptions of getting ready for Christmas and the preparation of buying presents and food. Matthews really brings the Joyce family to life and there are lots of storylines woven into the plot that make an addictive read.

This is another lovely novel from Carole Matthews. There are lots of hilarious moments, but also quite a few heartbreaking ones too. The perfect book to get you in the mood for Christmas!

Thank you to Sphere for sending me a copy to review.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Review of A Merry Little Christmas by Julia Williams

Set in the village of Hope Christmas, the novel opens as the festive season comes to a close.

Cat, Pippa and Marianne are friends living very different lives. Cat is a cook and tv personality who is trying to juggle her work/life commitments whilst writing a Christmas cookbook. Things take a turn for the worse when her teenage daughter Mel starts acting differently and her mother becomes very ill with alzheimers.
Pippa is a busy mother and farmer's wife with a disabled daughter and two young sons. She finds her life changing dramatically when her husband Dan has a serious accident.
Marianne is mother to young twins and stepmother to Steven. Dealing with family life, Steven's difficult mother Eve and her job as a teacher at the local primary school begins to become very stressful. How will life pan out for these three in the run up to the next Christmas?

A Merry Little Christmas is a thought provoking story focussing on the importance of family and friends. I was completely absorbed from the very first page and I loved the way that Williams gives each of the main characters an equal space in the book. It made me feel that I could really get to know each character.

This is a lovely read with a stunning cover.HIghly recommended, especially in the run up to Christmas.

Thank you to Avon for sending me a copy to review.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Review of Stop the Clock by Alison Mercer

Stop the Clock opens on New Years Eve 1999. As three friends Lucy, Natalie and Tina pose for a photo on the beach they cannot imagine how much their lives will changes over the next decade.

Tina is determined to work her way up the career ladder, Lucy craves a stable family life and Natalie would like to settle down and be happily married with children. How will their lives really turn out ten years later?

I enjoyed the way that Mercer has successfully divided the narrative, so that each of the three main characters have an equal part. It made me feel that I knew each one well and allows the reader to form strong opinions of each person. The characters are so well formed that I think that readers will find one that they feel they can relate to their own lives or circumstances. The storyline is really addictive to read and I did not want to put it down. I would love to read a sequel to this novel to find out what will happen to their lives further into the future.

This is such an amazing debut novel – I can’t wait to read more from Alison Mercer.

Thank you to Transworld for sending me a copy to review

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Review of How do you Voodoo? by Janice Horton

Loveless fashion model Nola Nichols thinks being beautiful is a curse; that is until she is cursed and her looks begin to fade just a week before the most important photo shoot of her career.
Nola rejects all rational explanation on what might be causing her lost looks and decides she has to find a way to get uncursed. This imaginative quest takes her from the Caribbean to Glasgow’s own City of the Dead. Along the way, she finds herself taking part in a rather unconventional funeral, involved in a voodoo ritual, reveals one or two unrests in her own past and falls madly in love with a doctor. Erm, that would be a witch doctor, right…?

Last year I really enjoyed reading 'Reaching for the Stars' by Janice Horton, so I was looking forward to reading her latest novella 'How do you Voodoo?'.

Nola Nichols is a beautiful model who is determined to forget her upbringing and family in Glasgow. However, when she loses her temper on a flight from the Caribbean to the UK a lady from Haiti puts a curse on her. Other passengers and even the flight attendants look scared and think that Nola has been cursed. However, Nola believes this is nonsense and the woman is crazy. That is until she wakes up the next morning and doesn't look or feel the same. Is Nola cursed and, if so, is there a way to become un-cursed?

This is a funny story with a nail biting plot and a strong heroine. A perfect read to get you in the mood for Halloween.

Thank you Janice for sending me a copy to review.

Find out more about Janice Horton and her novels:
Author Blog:
Follow her on Twitter: @JaniceHorton
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 Janice Horton lives in Scotland and writes contemporary romance with humour. Her novels ‘Bagpipes & Bullshot’ and ‘Reaching for the Stars’ are both Kindle bestsellers. Her latest title is out now on Amazon for Kindle. It’s a romantic novella entitled ‘How Do You Voodoo?

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Review of The Star Child by Stephanie Keyes

The Star Child is the first novel from debut author Stephanie Keyes.

The novel follows seventeen year old Kellen St James as he graduates from Yale. Kellen has an estranged relationship with his father who doesn’t attend his graduation and as he is waiting on the podium to receive his degree, he is suddenly transported back to a childhood holiday to his Grandmother’s home in Ireland. In Ireland he meets a beautiful young girl called Calienta, but he is not able to follow her to where she is going.

Suddenly back on the podium Kellen realizes that he must go to Ireland where he will learn the truth about his mother’s death. Whilst in Ireland, Calienta visits again and this time for real. What Calienta tells Kellen changes his life more than he could ever have imagined and he is suddenly pulled into a strange world of faeries and demons where he is a key figure.

Keyes’ writing pulls you straight into this story and will leave you on the edge of your seat desperate to know what will happen next. I loved the characters of Kellen and Calienta and found myself worrying about their journey.

This is a fantastic debut novel and I really enjoyed reading it. I don’t usually read a lot of fantasy books, but enjoyed this one so much that I think I will look out for more. Highly recommended.

The Star Child is available to buy now:

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Review of The Last Caesar by Henry Venmore-Rowland

Summary from Goodreads

AD 68. The tyrant emperor Nero has no son and no heir.

Suddenly there's the very real possibility that Rome might become a republic once more. But the ambitions of a few are about to bring corruption, chaos and untold bloodshed to the many.

Among them is a hero of the campaign against Boudicca, Aulus Caecina Severus. Caught up in a conspiracy to overthrow Caesar's dynasty, he commits treason, raises a rebellion, faces torture and intrigue - all supposedly for the good of Rome. The boundary between the good of Rome and self preservation is far from clear, and keeping to the dangerous path he's chosen requires all Severus' skills as a cunning soldier and increasingly deft politician.

And so Severus looks back on the dark and dangerous time history knows as the Year of the Four Emperors, and the part he played - for good or ill - in plunging the mighty Roman empire into anarchy and civil war...


The Last Caesar is an impressive novel from debut author Henry Venmore-Rowland. It is set in AD68-69, which was a remarkable period of time in Roman history as in AD69 four Emperors ruled Rome. It has become known as the Year of Four Emperors.

This is the first novel set in this time period that I have read and I really enjoyed it. Venmore-Rowland’s writing is addictive to read and keeps you turning the pages to find out what will happen next.

Venmore-Rowland is certainly an author to look out for. I am looking forward to reading future work from this author.

I read this as part of the Transworld Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Avon Book's 5th Birthday Celebrations

As part of Avon Book’s 5th birthday celebrations,  Julia Williams, Claudia Carroll and Fiona Gibson will be taking part in a Google hangout at lunchtime today from 1pm, along with Avon’s Editorial Director Claire Bord. 

Watch online at HarperCollins UK’s Google+ page:

Tweet your questions for the authors @AvonBooksUK

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Interview with Nicky Wells - Author of Sophie's Turn


Tell me a bit about yourself and what made you get into writing

I am a really chatty person with a very active imagination. I’ve always made up stories, for as long as I can remember. When I was little and couldn’t go to sleep, I used to amuse myself by making up long and complicated adventure stories (featuring, naturally, myself and my best friends). I guess most of us do that! But as soon as I could write, I started to set these stories down on paper. I doubt they were elegant or even remotely eloquent narratives, but I do remember sitting on my window sill after lights-out and scribbling furiously on a small note-pad. A few years later, that enterprise turned into hacking things out on an ancient typewriter I’d been given. So that’s kind of where it all started… there was always this idea that I would write books. In fact, until half-way through secondary school, I would tell any adult who asked very earnestly that I would be a writer when I grew up!

Obviously years passed and this ambition never came to much. As a teenager, I had other things on my mind (rock music and rock musicians, mostly!) and then I had a boyfriend and then I started studying… Life kind of took over. But when I took a work sabbatical prior to the birth of my first child, I promised myself that I would, finally, write that book I’d been thinking of for some time!

How long did it take you to write Sophie’s Turn?

Well, I had four months in which to write (before birth of baby number one) and so that’s how long it took! I spent about a month planning in meticulous detail my characters and my plot, and then I sat down and just…wrote! It was a fabulous experience. Every day, I would re-read the previous day’s work, do some rudimentary proofing and editing (and occasional re-writing) and then write some more. So the first draft seemed to go quite quickly. Then my first baby boy arrived and nothing much happened to the book. It wasn’t until a few years later that I got round to re-reading it and making some substantial changes, especially to the first half. Those changes took me another six months or so. So total working time on Sophie’s Turn was… ten months, give or take. And then of course, I polished it before publication… and most recently, again, before publication by Sapphire Star Polishing. I’d like to think it’s a shining gem now!

Tell us a bit about Sophie’s Turn and your inspiration for the book?

I’ve come to call Sophie’s Turn a ‘rock star romance’… not least because, you guessed it, one of the protagonists is a rock star. Sophie’s Turn tells the story of one young woman and her entanglement with a rock star, the man of her dreams. Unfortunately she is already engaged to somebody else when this romance finally enters her life, and it all gets a bit messy. Sophie is a fundamentally nice person and the presence of two men in her life gives her all manner of emotional nightmares. She sorts it all out eventually, although perhaps not in the way she expected!

The inspiration for the book has its roots in my residual soft spot for all things to do with rock musicians, in particular the long-haired variety with nice voices. There are quite a few of those about! Anyway, I was watching TV one night with my husband and some kind of long-haired male creature came on… I can’t recall who it was, might have been an actor or a rock musician. Anyway, I obviously liked that person because I said something like, “cor, now how would a girl ever turn him down?” My husband teased me about this all evening. And it got me thinking. What would a girl do if she was in a steady, happy relationship… and then suddenly met her teenage idol, and he proposed? There was the core conundrum, and it fascinated me enough to spin a story around it when I couldn’t sleep that night (on account of big baby belly!).

What are your favourite books?

Generally speaking, I read almost anything but I can never resist a good chick lit book, a thriller or a good contemporary literary read. Favourite books of all time include Catherine Alliott’s “The Old-Girl Network,” Stephen Fry’s “Making History” and Katherine Neville’s “The Eight.” I also like books by David Baldacci and John Grisham. Actually, the list is pretty long….

What do you like to do outside of writing?

Ooooh, now there’s a question! When I do get the time, I like to read the paper in a coffee shop with a big latte or a pot of tea. I do like to sit on a rock on the beach just watching the waves come in, and listening to the surf (that’s probably one of my favourite pastimes!). I like travelling and exploring new places. And… actually one thing I do do even at the moment when things are so busy is… knitting. I do like knitting. I’m not a great knitter, I can just about manage my knits and purls but I find it very relaxing, especially when I’m stressed. Oh, and talking of stressed, I do have a Pilates routine that I like doing at least once a day, especially when I’ve been hunched over the laptop writing lots.

What are you currently working on? Is a sequel to Sophie’s Turn planned?

The sequel to Sophie’s Turn, Sophie’s Run, is fully written and coming your way from Sapphire Star Publishing on 7 February 2013—not long to go now! With that, at the moment I am actually working on the third and concluding part of the Rock Star Romance Trilogy. This third book is fully planned and I am now in my favourite phase of writing, the actual all-out, full-on writing. I love it! The final part is due for release in early September 2013 so within the year, you’ll be able to hold Sophie and Dan’s entire story in your hands. I can’t wait!

Thanks Nicky!

Sophie's Turn is available to buy now:

We have one e-book version of Sophie's Turn to giveaway. To enter, please retweet this post or leave a comment below. Closes 31st October 2012.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Review of Sophie's Turn by Nicky Wells

Sophie’s Turn is Nicky Wells’ debut novel and published by Sapphire Star.

I was instantly hooked from the very beginning of the novel and found the writing style to be both easy to read and gripping at the same time.

Sophie Penhalligan is a twenty eight year old journalist who is in a comfortable relationship with Accountant Tim. Sophie is waiting for Tim to propose and is worried that he is missing every opportunity. When Tim does propose it seems like everything Sophie has wanted. However, things soon get even more heated when Sophie’s bumps into her rock star crush from 80s band Tusk at the airport and the two begin a series of romantic (and hilarious) evenings together. Before Sophie realizes it she is engaged to Dan as well and is not quite sure what to do!

I loved Sophie’s character and I think that only she could end up in the situation engaged to two men and still seem to be a lovely person.
The book itself is hilarious and had me laughing out loud in places – especially when we see Tim de-slugging the garden in the middle of the night.

The story is divided into three separate sections and flits back between present day and ten years earlier when Sophie first met the band. I liked the way that the author did this as it really made me think about the story and see how Sophie and Dan’s friendship began. The book is quite a whirlwind and you will see Sophie flitting from London to New York for work and then to Paris for romantic weekends. I found that I didn’t want to put it down as I was desperate to know what would happen with Sophie.

If you love chick lit then you will adore Sophie’s Turn; it is funny, gripping and will see you laughing (and possibly crying) in places and I loved the ending which was not what I thought it would be at all. Nicky Wells has written a fantastic novel and I look forward to reading her future work.

Thank you Nicky for sending me a copy of Sophie’s Turn. You can follow Nicky on twitter @WellsNicky and visit her website:

Friday, 12 October 2012

Review of A Very Accidental Love Story by Claudia Carroll

I had heard a lot of good things about Claudia Carroll’s books, so I was keen to read her latest novel ‘A Very Accidental Love Story’.

Eloise Elliott is a high flying career woman, she is editor of the ‘Post’ where staff are terrified of her and the board refer to her as Madame Editrix. At thirty, she is one of the youngest newspaper editors in the country and works all hours. However, when virtually no one turns up to celebrate her thirtieth birthday, Eloise realizes that she has sacrificed everything for her job. She decides that her life needs to change and has a baby.

Three years on and Eloise is frantically trying to balance everything. She loves her daughter Lily, but realizes that she has a lot of questions to answer when Lily starts asking who and where her Daddy is. What follows is a determined and heartwarming journey to track down Lily’s real father. There are quite a few hilarious moments as Eloise uses her journalistic skills to work out who he might be and where he could be.

Eloise is a fascinating character. At first, I felt that she was a little selfish as she was always working and hardly spending anytime with her daughter. However, by the end of the book my mind had totally changed and I admired her for all of the sacrifices that she had made. Seth is a great character and again, he has totally transformed by the end of the book.

I loved this story, the characters really change and grow over the course of the novel. Carroll’s writing draws the reader right into the story making it an addictive read for me.

The cover is gorgeous too!

Thank you to Avon for sending me a copy to review.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Review of Move Over Darling by Christine Stovell

Move Over Darling is the first book by author Christine Stovell that I have read and I loved it.

The story is set between Penmorfa, a sleepy Welsh village and New York. Coralie Casey has escaped her past and her busy corporate life by setting up ‘Sweet Cleans’, a range of natural beauty and cleaning products in Penmorfa. Gethin Lewis is a world famous artist living in New York, but is originally from the village. Both Gethin and Coralie are desperately trying to escape their past when they first meet.

The locals of Penmorfa have turned against Gethin and felt betrayed by his most famous painting ‘Last Samba before Sunset’. So, it comes as a surprise to many when he offers to donate a painting that can be auctioned to help pay for the new community hall. There is, however, one clause – the subject of the painting must be Coralie and she must go to New York to sit for the painting.

I loved the setting of Penmorfa and all of the local characters. Although, mainly set in Wales, the storyline does also take us to New York and I enjoyed Stovell’s vivid descriptions of this famous city.

There are lots of smaller stories woven into the plot of the novel and this is a part I really enjoyed, as I felt we got to know the other characters. I particularly looked forward to reading about Kitty and the two village gossips; Delyth and Mair. Doris Day songs are also interwoven in the storyline and fit with the mood – this is a lovely touch.

Move Over Darling is another un-putdownable love story from Choc Lit. I am looking forward to reading more books by this author.

Thank you to Choc Lit for sending me a copy to review.

Move Over Darling is available to buy now:

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Review of The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles is a fantastic debut novel by Karen Thompson Walker and is a book that is quite unlike anything I have read before.

The story is told through the eyes of eleven year old Julia. On what seems like normal Californian morning for Julia and her family, they discover that the earth’s rotation is slowing. The idea itself is almost beyond comprehension and the characters, like the reader, are soon clamouring to find out what the consequences will be. Before long, birds fall from the sky and the days seem to stretch on and on.

This is a thought provoking novel that had me hooked from the very first page. It is all the more powerful for being told through Julia’s eyes as she goes through adolescence.

The Age of Miracles is a fascinating story of an unthinkable event. Thompson Walker cleverly combines an unknown situation with everyday family dramas creating a compelling read.

This book exceeded my expectations and I did not want to put it down. I will definitely be looking out for future work from this author.

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

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Review of The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow


The Last Telegram is a beautifully written love story from debut author Liz Trenow. Set against the backdrop of the Second World War, this is a novel full of love, friendship, tragedy and hope.

Lily Verner plans to travel to Geneva after finishing school to learn languages. However, the onset of the Second World War and the atrocities in Nazi Germany curtail her plans. Instead, she finds herself working at the family mill in Suffolk. At first, she is disappointed but soon begins to come round to the idea. The story is told from the Lily’s point of view and begins when she is an elderly lady re-counting her life.

Lily and her brother John persuade their father to help some young Jewish refugees who have been sent from Germany and need a sponsor in order to stay in the country. Three teenage boys go to live and work at the mill. One of the boys, Stefan, catches Lily’s eye and the two soon become close. However, as war outbreaks rumours begin to circulate the Mill that the silk is being tampered with and it is the German boys who’re the focus of spiteful gossip. Can Lily and Stefan’s love survive against all odds?

I was totally captivated by this novel and didn’t want to put it down. The love story element is dramatic and engaging, but there is much more to this story. From war torn London at the height of the blitz to the beauty of Suffolk ‘Constable’ countryside, The Last telegram is a heart wrenching love story.

Thank you to Avon for sending me a copy to review.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Review of The Road Back by Liz Harris

The Road Back is a wonderful love story from debut author Liz Harris. It is set between London and Ladakh during the 1950s and present day.

Patricia Carstairs has always longed for love and attention from her father Major Carstairs. However, she has always felt that he blamed her for her elder brother’s illness. Father and daughter begin to bond over the Major’s diaries of his trip to Ladakh during the 1940s. Patricia and her father visit Ladakh in the early 1960s and she hopes it will be the chance to finally get closer to him. What she doesn’t foresee is that she will meet and fall in love with a young man there called Kalden.

The novel is told from the dual perspectives of Patricia and Kalden. I loved this aspect of the book, as it allows the reader to get to know both sides of the story. Patricia is a strong heroine, but I don’t think it is until the very end of the novel that she really comes into her own. At the beginning, she is trying so hard to please her father that she doesn’t realise what she really wants.

The Road Back is an outstanding debut. The setting and characters are beautifully portrayed and there were quite a few turns in the storyline that I hadn’t been expecting. Harris’ writing vividly brings Ladakh and its dramatic beauty and landscape to life. I was mesmerized by the descriptions of Ladakh and its culture.
Have your tissues ready, as there are some heart wrenching scenes.

Recommended for all fans of romantic and historical fiction.

Thank you to Choc Lit for sending me a copy to review.

The Road Back is available to buy now:

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Review of The King's Spy by Andrew Swanston

The King’s Spy is set between Romsey and Oxford during the English Civil War. Thomas Hill is a bookseller from Romsey who is summoned to Oxford to the King’s court which has moved there from London. The King’s cryptographer has been found dead and it soon becomes Thomas’ job to help uncover encrypted messages from the enemy. However, Oxford has changed dramatically since Thomas’ university days and he soon realizes that everything, and everyone, is not quite as it seems.

This is a dramatic and engaging novel that had me on the edge of my seat, desperate to find out what would happen next. Thomas is transported from the peaceful town of Romsey to the heart of the King’s court at Oxford. Here, he is unwittingly thrust into the heart of danger and must work out who is a friend and who is an enemy.

This is the first fictional book set during the period of the English Civil War  that I have read and I found it fascinating. Swanston has cleverly brought seventeenth century Oxford to life making the reader feel connected to the scenes. I was pleased to see that this is the first in a trilogy and I look forward to seeing what Thomas does in the future installments.

Recommended for fans of historical fiction.

I read this as part of the Transworld Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Review of Bryant and May and the Invisible Code by Christopher Fowler

This is a detective novel set in London which combines Poirot with CSI in a most artful fashion. From the outset, we are shocked by the mystery surrounding the sudden death of a young woman in an ancient church, St Bride`s, which two children, Lucy and Tom, playing the ancient game of Witch Hunt, think that they have caused. We are led into the inscrutable higher echelons of Government where Oscar Kasavian, a top-level civil servant involved in a vital new Border Initiative and who is Home Office head of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, asks the Unit to investigate the reasons why his very young, beautiful Albanian wife is behaving erratically and threatening the success of the Initiative. This comes as a surprise to Bryant, the elderly and academic lead detective of the PCU and his dapper long-term colleague, May, as they know that Kasavian is trying to get rid of the Unit. Nevertheless, they set out to solve the problem, weaving their way through more deaths, red-herrings and brick walls, aided on the way by a white witch, a warlock and modern forensics to the final nail-biting denouement, ably supported by the rest of the detectives of the small PCU, all of whom we meet and with whom we share heartbreaks and happiness.

Fowler`s characters are beautifully described and he creates a suspenseful atmosphere throughout the book, interspersed with wicked humour. From the conspiring Government wives club to Crippen the Unit cat, it is an addictive read.

His impressive use of language is also delightful –one of my favourite quotes is this : “A sickly grey and yellow dawn broke over King`s Cross. The clouds looked as if they had fallen down a flight of stairs and badly bruised themselves.” This is one of many original descriptions which add to the enjoyment of the book.

I thoroughly recommend this book.

Reviewed by Liz

Thanks Liz and thank you to Transworld for sending us a copy to review.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Interview with Alice Peterson - Author of Ten Years On

Please tell us a little about yourself
I ’m thirty-eight, live in west London, love my Lucas Terrier, Darcy and our dog walking adventures, am competitive at all card games and finally I love my job! I began writing in my early 20s, after I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) aged 18 and on the verge of signing a tennis scholarship to the USA. There is no doubt that having RA has influenced my work. I love to write with compassion and humour about disability and people who don’t always fit into the crowd. 

Please tell us about 'Ten Years On'
 Ten Years On is a story about love, grief, friendship and second chances. I came up with the idea when a good friend of mine had to leave London and return to her childhood home. She mentioned how strange it was to be back near her parents, and to see people from her past. I think we have all, at some point in our lives, wondered what happened to an old boyfriend or old school friend. This is partly what Ten Years On deals with. Through tragic circumstances Becca moves back home temporarily with her parents, only to meet Joe, one of her closest friends from university days.  They haven’t seen one another for ten years, which of course asks the question, ‘why did they lose touch?’ 

What was your journey to publication like?
 My journey to publication was exciting. I wrote my own autobiography, A Will To Win, which was the story of my childhood passion for tennis followed by my battle to live with RA. I found an agent, Clare Alexander, and she secured Macmillan. Looking back, I hadn’t realized how straightforward it all was!  Since the publication of A Will To Win in 2001 my writing career has had many ups and downs – I like to think it’s all character building... !

What are you working on now? 
 I’m working on a new novel. I can’t say too much about it except that after finishing ‘Monday to Friday Man’ - a romantic comedy set in the dog walking world of Ravenscourt Park, I desperately missed writing about dogs, so one of the key characters in the next book is going to be an incredibly handsome and clever dog!

What do you like to do outside of writing? 
 Outside of writing, I love swimming, playing cards, I’ve just joined a choir (God, I sound boring). I love seeing my friends and family – I have an incredibly supportive mum and dad whom I am very close to. Finally I love reading. I love all kinds of books, but my favourite author will always be Jane Austen.

Thanks Alice!

To find out more about Alice, please visit: 

Review of Ten Years On by Alice Peterson

I have heard a lot of good things about Alice Peterson’s writing, so I was very keen to read her latest novel ‘Ten Years On’ and it did not disappoint.

The novel follows the story of Joe and Rebecca, two friends who lost contact after meeting at university in Bristol. Rebecca moves home to her parents' house in Winchester after suffering a terrible tragedy. She finds it hard to adjust to life away from London, but her biggest surprise is that Joe, who she hasn’t seen for ten years, owns a popular wine bar in the city centre.

I loved Rebecca’s character, she is very down to earth and seems easy to get on with. At first, I wasn’t sure about Joe as he seemed a little arrogant, but my opinion did change as the book progressed. The story follows the lives of Joe and Rebecca as they begin to get to know one another again. It is quite a fast paced plot that kept my attention from the very beginning. One of my favourite characters was Janet, Becca’s elderly neighbour who lived with her dog. It was also interesting to see how Becca’s relationship with her family changes over the course of the novel.

Ten Years On is a tear jerking, addictive and well researched novel. I found that I did not want to put it down and finished it in two evenings. I will be on the look out for more from Alice Peterson.

Review of Vampire State of Mind by Jane Lovering

Vampire State of Mind is the first book that I have read by award winning author Jane Lovering.

It is a paranormal romance, which focuses on the world of vampires. Jessica Grant works as a ‘council tracker’ in York watching the movement of vampires in the city. As part of her job, she comes into contact we lots of vampires and other-worlders and usually finds them to be arrogant and very attractive.

Sil, a vampire, is no exception and Jessica struggles to contain her feelings for him. When a demon causes problems for both the human and vampire world, Jess and Sil are forced to work closely together, but what will the consequences be?

I really enjoyed reading Vampire State of Mind and loved the setting of York – one of my favourite cities. There are a lot of vampire novels out at the moment, but Lovering has succeeded in creating a unique story with strong characters and a suspense filled plot. I was hooked from the very first page.

Thank you to Choc Lit for sending me a copy to review.

Vampire State of Mind is available to buy now: