Friday, 28 April 2017

BOOK NEWS: Amanda Wakes Up by Alisyn Camerota

Amanda Wakes Up is the debut novel from Alisyn Camerota, in which a young reporter lands a dream job at a cable news station which turns her life upside down. The novel is set for release in July.

When Amanda Gallo, fresh from the backwater of local TV, lands the job of her dreams at FAIR News—the coveted morning anchor slot—she’s finally made it: a six-figure salary, wardrobe allowance, plenty of on-air face time, and a chance to realize her dreams, not to mention buy herself lunch. Amanda Wakes Up takes off as Amanda feels for the first time that she can make her mom and her best friend proud and think about an actual future with her boyfriend, Charlie. But she finds her journalistic ideals shredded as she struggles to keep up with the issues in a ratings-crazed madhouse—battling for hair and makeup time, coping with her sexist (but scathingly handsome) coanchor, Rob, mixing up the headlines with pajama modeling on the street, and showing Benji Diggs, her media maestro boss, that she’s got what it takes.

As the news heats up in a hotly contested election season and a wild-card candidate, former Hollywood actor Victor Fluke, appears on the scene, Amanda’s pressure-cooker job gets hotter as her personal life unravels. Walking a knife’s edge between ambition and survival, and about to break the biggest story of her career, Amanda must decide what she’s willing to give up to get ahead—and what she needs to hold on to to save herself.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Miss Wrong and Mr Right by Robert Bryndza

First off, let me just state that I was unfamiliar with Robert Bryndza and his books until I came across Miss Wrong and Mr Right on Netgalley and its premise drew me in. I quickly discovered that Robert is a bestselling author of crime novels, predominantly the DCI Erika Foster series (The Girl in the Ice, The Night Stalker and Dark Water). Given that I’m a fan of crime thrillers I’ll surely be checking these out, but in the meantime, note that Robert writes rom-com too, and it is AWESOME.

In Miss Wrong and Mr Right, Natalie Love dumps her fiancĂ© at the altar. Not only that, but she sets fire to her wedding dress too (following some sage advice from her beloved Gran). Now, years later, Natalie has left her small hometown, and is living a successful life in London, complete with a boyfriend who teaches yoga, and a job doing what she loves – running a theatre. Plus, there’s Natalie’s eccentric gran, who is glamorous, Hungarian and downright hilarious, always nearby to give any agony aunt a run for her money. Sometimes.

Natalie’s hard work at the theatre pays off when Hollywood heart-throb Ryan Harrison is booked to play Macbeth in a production she’s running. When it comes to her personal life, however, Natalie’s takes a hit when none other than Jamie – the man she ditched at the altar all those years ago – shows up. Jamie is working nearby promoting a new West End show. And, it seems, dating burlesque star Tuppence Halfpenny, the UK’s answer to Dita Von Teese.

Being Jamie’s business rival isn’t easy – not when the past has showed up so abruptly in front of her face. And when Ryan Harrison turns out to be much more than just a pretty Hollywood face, Natalie’s in a bit of trouble…

Miss Wrong and Mr Right is an absolutely fantastic read. Seriously, this book is all kinds of brilliant. Don’t get me wrong, I actively seek out funny books, but it’s rare that a novel has me genuinely laughing out loud. This one, however? Oh, it did. I found myself chuckling on numerous occasions, the biggest culprit for my outbursts being Gran. Natalie’s wonderfully eccentric gran provides so much humour, as well as warmth, that I couldn’t help but adore her.

Every character in this book is wonderfully written and fun (well, besides Benji, but read it and you’ll see why). And not only was this book brilliantly funny, it was also rather heartwarming and genuine. Oh, and with a bit of revenge thrown in for good measure.

By the time I reached the end of this novel, I didn’t want it to finish. I could have spent so much more time with Natalie and her outrageous group of friends and family. I sincerely hope that Robert Bryndza writes more romantic comedies, because Miss Wrong and Mr Right is so far one of the best books of the year.

Rating: 5/5

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

BLOG TOUR: Q&A with Beezy Marsh, author of Mr Make Believe

Beezy Marsh is the author of Mr Make Believe, a romantic comedy about a journalist turned stay-at-home mum. Mr Make Believe was released today, and as part of her blog tour, Beezy has stopped by to answer a few questions about her new book, and life as a writer...

Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
Daydreaming mum loses husband and career, writes blog, burns tea, meets movie star crush and...

What inspired you to write Mr Make Believe?
Well, I'm a mum-of-two who used to regularly write the front page for a national newspaper, a bit like my main character, Marnie Martin, and I know lots of mothers who are struggling to hold it all together at home; trying to have some kind of career while looking after the children and to strike a balance between it all. It can be isolating to be at home all day with the kids and I have always been a dreamer and asking around, I found lots of my mum friends had secret crushes on movie stars, which they used to keep themselves going when reality was tough. I picked up that theme and took it to an extreme, playing with the notion of what would happen if a mum whose life wasn't turning out the way she'd hoped got to meet her Mr Make Believe. The whole interplay between our real lives and our social media lives is endlessly fascinating to me so that was a big part of it too.

Where do you do most of your writing?
Sometimes I edit pages and write notes on the train if I have to go up to London from my home in Oxfordshire but most days I sit in a spare bedroom in my house and bash away at my keyboard. The letters have worn off it  - I must get a new one.

What is your favourite book?
I find it really hard to pick just one book! I love absolutely everything that Jilly Cooper has written. I would read her shopping list if she published it  - I bet even that would be brilliant. But if I were only allowed one book, I would probably take Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Everything about it is perfect, starting with that first sentence - "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." I immediately want to read on.

Which part of Mr Make Believe did you enjoy writing the most?
Well, I loved writing all of the book; it was like a roller coaster ride and I didn't want to get off. But the best bit for me was definitely when Marnie got to know her Mr Make Believe a little better...

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
Becky Sharp, Vanity Fair. What a woman!

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
Getting published is a long, hard road and rejection is a part of the process. Listen carefully to feedback and try to learn from it, especially if you are lucky enough to get criticism from people who actually work in the industry because they know the market. Keep believing in yourself.

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
Yes, I'd love to tell you about my next projects. I am editing a prequel to Mr Make Believe, called Ten Easy Steps To I Love You, which features Marnie Martin but tells the story of how her best mate Belle Devine, the showbiz journalist, gets to meet her Mr Right. I am still in love with all the characters in Marnie Martin's world, so there may be a sequel to Mr Make Believe before too long as well. With my non-fiction hat on, I have a historical memoir coming out with Pan Macmillan at the end of July, which covers the lives of three sisters from London during the 1930s. It's called Keeping My Sisters' Secrets and it's a really moving story about them overcoming poverty and adversity, finding love as the Second World War looms on the horizon.

Thanks, Beezy!

Mr Make Believe by Beezy Marsh

Marnie Martin’s formerly perfect life is not quite going to plan. 

Hard-hitting newspaper journalist turned stay-at-home mum and part-time failing food columnist, Marnie is wondering when her life went so wrong.

While her husband Matt’s career takes off, she’s left with the impossible task of pairing socks and locating Lego. His late nights at the office are turning into late nights who knows where else and they haven’t had a proper conversation in weeks, sex in months, or a full night’s sleep in years. 

On the brink of losing everything when a fantasy about movie star Maddox Wolfe leads to a missed deadline and a disastrous case of food poisoning, Marnie becomes Mrs Make Believe: anonymous blogger, secret spiller, and voice of imperfect mums everywhere. 

However, Marnie Martin could never have imagined that her movie star daydream would walk off the screen and into her reality, turning her already muddled world totally on its head.

Will Marnie find happiness in the arms of the (literal) man of her dreams? Or will she find that true love is just make believe?

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 Château 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.
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