Monday, 28 May 2012

Review of Bond Girl by Erin Duffy

Bond Girl is the first novel from debut author Erin Duffy who previously worked in finance on Wall Street.

Set in Wall Street, the financial capital of America, Bond Girl follows the highs, lows and insane hours of a career in finance. Alex Garrett is accepted on a graduate programme at Cromwell Pierce and walks into the bond trading world to find that it is very different to what she had imagined. Soon she finds herself fulfilling crazy requests just to get initiated into the team. However, as the financial crisis hits the world Alex sees the workplace that she worked so hard to get into changing before her eyes.

I loved Alex’s character, she seems to be a lovely person who is eager to please everyone whilst working hard at the same time. There are quite a few surprises in this book and the ending was different to how I had imagined. I also really liked most of the supporting characters – especially Chick. There was a really good camaraderie between the characters, which led to some really hilarious moments. I kept forgetting that this was a fictional account rather than a memoir, as it felt so real.

If you’re looking for a fantastic, addictive read this summer then look no further than Bond Girl. This is a fun and witty take on work in the financial world with an injection of romance that will leave you desperate to know what happens next! I can’t wait to read more from Erin Duffy.

Thank you to Harper Collins for sending me a copy to review.

Bond Girl is available to buy from the 5th July 2012.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Review of Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues by Trisha Ashley

This is the first book that I have read by Trisha Ashley and I loved it! I will certainly be looking out for more books from this author.

Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues sees Tansy Poole move to Sticklepond when her elderly aunt becomes ill and passes away. Tansy is a successful children’s author when she suddenly finds herself taking over the family shoe shop and thinking of ways to turn the business around.

Tansy has left her ex fiancé behind in London and feels like she wants to escape from men for a while. However, living in the neighbouring cottage is reclusive Shakespearian actor Ivo Hawksley. Ivo is moody and seems to moan about everything, even Tansy’s doorbell, but there is a softer side that Tansy begins to notice – even if Ivo won’t admit it.

This is such a beautifully written book that the characters seem to leap off of the pages. I particularly liked the way that each chapter begins with the voice of Tansy’s late aunt – it adds another dimension to the story.
There are also some mouthwateringly good recipes in this book that will leave you longing to find time to bake.

I really enjoyed reading Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues and highly recommend it.

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

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Review of Dead Scared by S.J.Bolton

Liz has reviewed Dead Scared for us...

If you haven`t read any of S.J.Bolton`s crime novels before, be prepared for a real treat in this one. It is un-put-downable - I was walking around the house doing my normal chores with my nose in the story!

The very first lines swoop down on the imagination and carries it off like a peregrine falcon dropping onto its prey and transports you down into a spectral world of unbelievable cruelty and death at the prestigious colleges of Cambridge.

Rebellious policewoman Lacey Flint is sent in as Laura Farrow, a new student (actually, as she later finds out, as a lure) to uncover why so many students are committing suicide. Straight away there is intrigue as she and the resident psychologist Evi Oliver, who raised the alarm in the first place, as she found that many students were committing suicide in flagrant ways, try to trace why this should be happening. These students are always ones who have a psychological weakness.

Lacey is working in the dark as her bosses, particularly DI Joesbury, for whom she is carrying a romantic torch, has been forbidden to tell her the background to the investigation. Immediately after her arrival at her college, strange things happen to her and, as she is incapable of being just what she has been told to be – a vulnerable, depressed high achiever – she starts her own investigation which will bring her and Evi to the very brink of destruction.

I was very impressed by the speed of the book which carries the reader forward with no time for reflection on events. S J Bolton has crafted this novel exquisitely to keep your adrenaline high and instils in the reader a desperation to discover the outcome of Lacey/Laura`s investigation. There are plenty of heart-stopping moments but to give an example here would be to spoil the intrigue!

Gruesome in parts, delightful and romantic in others, the author leads the reader on what can only be described as a dark and sinister rollercoaster of a read which will have you questioning…is someone watching YOU????

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

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Interview with Carole Matthews - Author of Summer Daydreams

As part of the Summer Daydreams blog tour, we have an interview with Carole Matthews…

Please tell us a little about Summer Daydreams
This is my latest book - my twentieth novel - is about Nell McNamara. It’s a warm, funny story about someone who, against the odds, wants to follow their dreams. Nell is a feisty, young woman who works in a chip shop, but steps out of her comfort zone to try to provide a better life for her and her family. She follows her dream to become a handbag designer and, finds that the road to fame and fortune is a lot more difficult than she thought. She has a daughter, Petal, who demands a lot of her time and a partner, Olly, who really wants things to stay just as they are. Juggling a fledgling business with a family life and relationship is just not easy! I think a lot of women will empathise with this character and will be cheering her on as she pursues her dream. It’s based on the life and experiences of my good friend, Helen Rochfort, who is a successful and accomplished handbag designer. So I hope it has a really authentic feel.

The main character, Nell, is obsessed with handbags. Is this something that you love too?
Yes, I’ve always enjoyed handbags. When I first moved in with my partner, Lovely Kev, his children were wide-eyed when they say my three packing cases full of handbags. I don’t chase these fantastically expensive, high-end brand name bags. Some of the prices are ridiculous. I prefer things like the Helen Rochfort handbags that are feature in my novel - quirky and different. Lovely Kev did buy me a surprise Lulu Guinness handbag a few years ago at Christmas. It’s one of my most treasured possessions.

What are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about your next book?
I’m really excited about my next book as it will be my second Christmas book. It’s called With Love at Christmas and is about a warm and chaotic family Christmas. We’ve all had them! This book revisits the Joyce family who I first wrote about in That Loving Feeling, so it was nice for me to see where they’re up to two years later. It’s a lovely story full of laughter and tears. Have your box of tissues at the ready!
 What are your top five books?

One Day by David Nicholls: is my current favourite. Great book and I really empathised with the story. The story visits Emma and Dexter on the same day every year, following their doomed relationship. It’s a tear-jerker.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory: I love historical fiction and, in my view, no one does it better. Her books about the Tudor period are all absolute corkers! She’s the only author I buy in hardback.

Bridget Jones’ Diary: This is the book that started the whole chicklit wave, so I have a lot to thank Bridget for. It’s a book that perfectly portrays its time. Warm and funny. The films were fabulous too! Perfect casting in all roles.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson: I love Billy Bryson’s travel books. Funny and well-observed. I think this is one of his finest. In fact, writing this makes me want to dig it out and read it all over again. Always the sign of a good book.
Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married: Marian Keyes is the Queen of Chicklit and I think of it as a great honour when my books are compared to hers. She hasn’t been writing fiction recently due to crippling depression, but I think that this book - her first - is still her best.
 What do you like to do outside of writing?
We live a very low maintenance life really. I like to read - obviously!- and try to read every day. I’ve just started Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green. My current passion is for decorating cupcakes, so I do a lot of baking. I love watching rubbish television and always like to have a series on the go - at the moment I love Homeland, True Blood, Dexter, Game of Thrones and will be very sorry to see the end of Desperate Housewives. We’re great film buffs too and will watch anything from Disney classics to slasher movies! We travel a lot too, but that’s often to do with research for one of my books. I’ve set previous novels in Nepal, Peru, America and my previous novel, Wrapped up in You, was set in the Masaai Mara. I spend a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook too!
Thanks Carole!

Summer Daydreams is available to buy from the 24th May.

Little Brown are also running a fantastic competition, which gives you the chance to design your own Helen Rochfort handbag. Entries close on 31st July 2012. More information is available here:

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Review of Summer Daydreams by Carole Matthews

When Carole Matthews signed to Sphere, I was really excited to hear that she would be bringing out two books a year. The first was ‘Wrapped up in You’, which I absolutely loved and reviewed last year. Summer Daydreams is her second title at Sphere and is just wonderful. Once you have got past the gorgeous, sparkly cover you are met with a funny, fast paced and ultimately romantic story.

I was particularly excited to see that the novel is set in Hitchin, a market town not far from where I live. I could really visualize all of the scenes set there.

The novel follows chip shop worker Nell McNamara who has a four year daughter Petal and is working all hours, alongside her partner Olly, to make ends meet. When Nell gives the tired and dated chip shop a makeover everyone sees her hidden artistic talent and tells her that she is wasting her life serving chips everyday. Her passion lies in handbags, but can she make it in the fierce fashion world with no experience and what will the consequences be for her family?

This is Carole Matthews at her best; Summer Daydreams is funny, sharp and addictive to read. The characters leap off the pages and make you feel like you have known them for years. Petal is adorable and hilarious, whilst Nell works so hard that you cannot fail to be impressed by her. There are also a few moments of suspense when some unexpected events occur towards the end of the novel.

I think this may be my favourite book from Carole Matthews so far.

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

Friday, 4 May 2012

Review of Another Time, Another Life by Leif G.W. Persson

Wow! An unforgettable crime thriller with heavily political themes covering the period of 1975 to 2000. Persson winds us through events such as the blowing up of the West German embassy in 1975 by supporters of the Baader-Meinhof gang, the murder of a previous “sleeper” spy in 1989, the still unsolved murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986 and the upcoming appointment of a Swedish citizen involved in these events to a seat in the Government.

It is a very incisive and insightful exploration of the workings of government - here, obviously the Swedish Government- during the break-up of the Soviet Union and its machinations in East and West Berlin immediately post Cold War. It illustrates the involvement of the Secret Services of both East and West in “cleaning house” while keeping doors open in order to manipulate one another.

Persson draws his characters with the minimum of physical attributes but you feel that you know them intimately from the wry, cutting and cynical asides each gives. Jarnebring and Wiklander are the detectives with Johanssen the Deputy Chief of SePo, the Secret Police. Holt, Mattei and Martinez are the hand-picked talented policewomen employed to crack the unsolved murder of Eriksson and discover its ramifications. Not to forget Bäckström, the bête noir of the police force, who has an interesting outlook on the world! To go into more detail would spoil the story – I leave readers to their own journey of discovery.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to all readers of detective fiction…or is it???

Reviewed by Liz.

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