Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Review of The Silent Touch of Shadows by Christina Courtenay

I always love reading books from Choc Lit and I was particularly looking forward to reading Christina Courtenay’s latest novel.

The Silent Touch of Shadows is quite different from her previous work and is set partly in fifteenth century Kent and partly in the present. At the centre of the novel is Ashleigh Manor, a beautiful old manor house in rural Kent. Melissa is a genealogist who is invited to the house by her elderly aunt. She feels drawn to the house in a strange way and soon finds herself experiencing supernatural goings on.

The story slips between Sibell in the fifteenth century and Melissa in the present. The worlds seem to merge at points and Melissa soon realises that something significant must have happened in the house for there to still be a presence. I loved Melissa’s character and thought that the geneology aspect of the novel fitted so well with the storyline.

This is a beautifully written book that is haunting and full of suspense. It had me hooked from beginning to end and I read it in two evenings as I didn’t want to put it down.

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

The Silent Touch of Shadows is available to buy now:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silent-Touch-Shadows-Christina-Courtenay/dp/1906931763

We have one copy to give away. To enter, retweet this post or leave a comment. Open to UK residents only. Closes 31st August at 5pm.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Review of The Queen's Secret by Victoria Lamb

The Queen’s Secret is a fascinating fictional account of Queen Elizabeth I’s stay at Kenilworth castle in the summer of 1575. It is a beautifully written novel by debut author Victoria Lamb.

One of the central characters is young Lucy Morgan, a girl from Moorish descent who is part of the court entertainment. She is singled out to sing for the Queen who soon calls her a little songbird. Before long Lucy is asked to spy on Robert Dudley and Lettice Knollys, (a lady in waiting) who the Queen believes are having an affair. However, Lucy learns more than she bargains for and finds herself uncovering what looks like a deadly plot against the Elizabeth. Soon, not only is the Queen’s life at risk, but so is Lucy’s.

I am fascinated by the Elizabethan era, so I couldn’t wait to read The Queen’s Secret. The plot is gripping and there is never a dull moment. Of all of the characters I liked Lucy most, as a heroine she is brave, young and determined. The scenes at Kenilworth Castle are so vividly portrayed that it feels as if you are there with the characters, complete with all of the sights and sounds of the traveling Elizabethan court.

I am very excited to hear the Victoria Lamb is working on a new novel featuring Lucy Morgan.

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

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Review of Diva by Carrie Duffy

Last year, Carrie Duffy’s debut novel ‘Idol’ was one of my favourite books of the year, so I couldn’t wait to read a copy of her second book ‘Diva’.

Diva follows the lives of three young women, each striving to make their own way in life.
Dionne is a feisty girl from Detroit who is determined to become a supermodel. She will let no one stand in her way – whatever the consequences.
CeCe is an aspiring fashion designer determined to be independent from her parents and be successful in the cut throat Parisien fashion world.
Alyson is the most naïve of the three and just wants to escape her upbringing when she arrives in Paris. She is beautiful and vulnerable.
All three forge a strong friendship when they share an apartment in Paris, but will their friendship stand the test of changing lifestyles and loyalties?

Diva is gripping from beginning to end and I found that I could not put it down. Duffy is a brilliant writer who makes the reader feel that they actually know the characters. As the characters embark on a glamorous, jet set lifestyle seeing places like Paris, St Tropez, London and Dubai, the reader is taken away for the ride – enjoying every little detail.

I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. Diva is fun, witty and addictive. It will take you on a journey of friendship, rivalry, loyalty and loss.
Without a doubt, this is a 5 star read!

Don’t miss out, Diva is available to buy now.

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

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Review of The Love Letter by Fiona Walker

Summary from Goodreads
When Allegra North parted from first love Francis after a decade together, she poured all her regret into a letter. He didn't reply. A year later, her job brings her back to the beautiful Devon coast where romance first blossomed and she hopes that they can start a new chapter. As summer storms circle, the exes juggle rebellious parents, vengeful family members and a very reluctant celebrity author who holds the key to everybody's future . . . The Love Letter is a wonderfully warm comedy of mistaken identities, new loves and old flame

I am a huge fan of Fiona Walker and jumped at the chance to read her latest novel ‘The Love Letter’.

Allegra North (known as Legs) is a Literary Agent’s Assistant who is having an affair with her boss. Before she began working, she had been in a long romance with her childhood sweetheart; Francis Protheroe. When she called it off, Francis seemed devastated, Allegra also had second thoughts and poured her feelings into a letter. However, Francis didn’t ever reply.
One year later and Allegra is sent back to the Protheroe home on the Devon coast on behalf of the agency and demanding client and bestselling author Gordon Lapis. However, Allegra is not at all prepared for some changes that await her.

I enjoyed reading this book so much. It has some hilarious moments and had me laughing out loud in places. There is quite a bit of mystery surrounding the true identity of Gordon Lapis and the correspondence between Allegra, Gordon and Kelly his PA is so funny.

This is a beautifully written novel with a vivid setting, larger than life characters and a plot that will leave you desperate to find out what happens next.

This is a big book, but I sailed through enjoying every moment. I can’t wait to read the next Fiona Walker novel!

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

Friday, 20 July 2012

Interview with Fanny Blake - Author of Women of a Dangerous Age

Please tell us a little about yourself

I was brought up in Nottingham, then went to university in Edinburgh. I went on to work in publishing and ended up as editorial director for Penguin Books. I left publishing to become a journalist which, in turn, led to my writing a number of non-fiction books such as A Place in the Sun and Location, Location, Location and then a number of ghosted autobiographies. Eventually, after several false starts, I came up with the idea for my first novel What Women Want, published last year. I’m also the books editor of Woman & Home magazine.

I live in London with my husband Robin who is in the middle of writing a fantastic series of historical crime novels. Having two writers in the same house was not something we’d foreseen when we got married! We live with however many of our three sons happen to be home at the time and a geriatric but still quite spritely ginger cat called Mushroom.

Please tell us a little about 'Women of a Dangerous Age' and your inspiration for the book
The idea for it came to me when I was having one of those moments when you look at your life and ask yourself: Is this it? Is it too late to change? After that, Lou and Ali, the two heroines of the novel began to materialise. When the novel opens, Lou has decided to leave her husband while Ali has decided she wants a more committed relationship with her current lover. They decide that it’s not too late for another throw of the dice. They start down a path to reinvent themselves although a couple of startling discoveries on the way threaten to derail them.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on my third novel. I’ve got to the lovely point where everything that’s been set up has started to unravel in a rush towards the end.

Where is your favourite place to write?

Two weeks ago, I’d have said the small back room in our basement that looks over the garden. It’s cool and peaceful but crowded thanks to the countless book proofs I get sent for my job as books editor of Woman & Home. However, I’ve recently discovered the joys of working in bed. It’s very quiet up there with few distractions. I suspect it may not be doing my back much good, but it works for me.

What do you like to do outside of writing? 
I love going on long country walks. I usually go with my husband, my sister or a friend. We either take a small picnic and set off for the day, or find a pub somewhere. Walking and talking – great combination.

During the week I try to do an hour’s walk before I start work, but I’m afraid my resolve is easily broken. I also do three hours of pilates a week.

Otherwise, I read a lot, go to the theatre – more than is good for my finances – and to the cinema. Most of all perhaps, I enjoy meeting friends, having a drink, something to eat and catching up. Oh yes, and chocolate.

 Fanny Blake's latest novel Women of a Dangerous Age is available to buy now. Scroll down to the post below to read my review of this fantastic novel.  

Thank you, Fanny, for taking time to do this interview and thank you to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of 'Women of a Dangerous Age' to review.


Review of Women of a Dangerous Age by Fanny Blake

Women of a Dangerous Age is the second novel from Fanny Blake.

Lou and Ali meet on a holiday in India and strike up an unexpected friendship. Soon there lives become intertwined in ways that they never could have imagined. What follows is a hilarious and moving story of friendship, loyalty and families.

I found this novel to be very realistic with scenes that you could really imagine happening. It was also an addictive read, which I read in two sittings as I was desperate to find out the ending. There are a couple of parts that had me laughing out loud – Blake has created a beautifully written story that feels like real life.

If you’re looking for a fun book to sink into this summer then look no further than I fantastic ‘Women of a Dangerous Age’. I will definitely be on the lookout for more books by Fanny Blake after reading this.

Highly recommended.

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

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Review of To Turn Full Circle by Linda Mitchelmore

To Turn Full Circle is the first novel from Linda Mitchelmore. It follows heroine Emma Le Goff who finds herself orphaned at the age of fifteen after both her parents and her younger brother die in mysterious circumstances. Emma’s cruel landlord throws her out of Shingle Cottage, the only home she has ever known and burns virtually all of her possessions.

Mitchelmore gives the reader a vivid scene, making them feel that they’re there with the characters. The rugged Devon coastline also seems to enhance the isolation that Emma feels. Emma’s ex-landlord Reuben Jago, who owns a local fishing fleet, continues to cause problems especially with his two older sons. However, his younger son Seth seems to be different and appears to want to help Emma. Can she trust a Jago or are they all the same?

When a new owner turns Nase Head House into a hotel, Emma sees a way forward and longs to work there. She will need to battle against the prejudices that have risen around her to get a position. Will the hotel bring Emma the new life that she longs for?

As a heroine, Emma is independent and feisty, but at the same time very vulnerable. She definitely changes over the course of the book and grows up a lot. I am looking forward to seeing more of her character in the next novel.

I absolutely loved this book and found it to be gripping, well paced and full of emotion. I was so pleased to see that it is the first in the trilogy and can’t wait to read the next installment. I would highly recommend To Turn Full Circle to all fans of historical and romantic fiction.

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