Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Chick Lit Uncovered Book Awards 2014!

As 2014 is coming to an end in a matter of hours, we decided to look back on some of the many great chick-lit novels of the year and show appreciation to some great authors.

There were so many much-loved books to choose from throughout the past twelve months; books from well-established authors and first-time novelists alike, with some wonderfully funny, addictive, inspiring and heartwarming books. As you can probably imagine, selecting just eight winners was a hugely difficult task.

Here are the Chick Lit Uncovered Book Award winners of 2014. And here's to a brand new year full of brand new reads! Congratulations to not just the below winners, but to all those who released books this year. It's been wonderful to get the chance to read so many great titles.

Happy New Year!

Book Cover of the Year
The New Mrs D by Heather Hill


There were many beautiful book covers in the running this year, but we fell in love with the colourful and wonderfully-designed cover image from Heather Hill's debut novel The New Mrs D, in which forty-something Bernice decides to leave her relationship and heads off on the trip of a lifetime alone, four days into her honeymoon.



Festive Novel of the Year
The Christmas Party by Carole Matthews


There were plenty of festive novels to choose from this year, but we particularly loved The Christmas Party by Carole Matthews. The Christmas Party is Carole's second novel of 2014, following A Place to Call Home in January. This year's Christmassy tale focused on various characters, centred around a large oil company and its employee - mainly three women whose lives and secrets are at risk of colliding at the annual office Christmas party. The book had a great premise, very fun characters (and plenty of scandal!)



Series of the Year 
A Proper Family Holiday and A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby


Chrissie Manby's funny, loveable Bensons appeared in June in A Proper Family Holiday, as the family set off for a package holiday in Lanzarote, much to the dismay of daughter (and Society magazine writer) Chelsea. The end of the book implied an exciting sequel, and in November, A Proper Family Christmas arrived, introducing a few new (and rather unexpected!) new Bensons. The novels were a lot of fun and a treat to read.



Comedy of the Year
Mother of the Year by Karen Ross


Karen Ross's novel Mother of The Year was hilarious as well as heartwarming. Released in February, Karen's tale of Juliet, and  relationship with her overbearing celebrity mother who has a penchant for revealing all of life's details to her adoring public, was one of the best reads of 2014. Karen has a great, witty writing style that made this novel very hard to put down, along with the laugh-out-loud moments and great characters.



Most Inspiring Novel of the Year
Good Sam by Dete Meserve


Dete Meserve's Good Sam was published in June and every chapter was intriguing. What's more, it was Dete's debut, and it is now being developed into a film and TV series. A gripping, fast-paced romance, Good Sam is about Kate, an ambitious reporter for a TV news station who, though generally covering crime and tragedy in the area, is tasked with a story about random people who have each found $100,000 on their doorstep. Kate is determined to find out the identity of the mysterious 'Good Sam', even when the story is starting to interfere with her personal life. Dete Meserve's first book is an inspiring read and full of mystery.



Debut of the Year
The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards by Fiona Jane Collins


The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards was released in November, by new novelist Fiona Jane Collins, and after reading just a chapter it became clear that this book was going to be a great! The novel is about 40-something Harmony who, along with her dismay at her ageing face, discovers that her husband has a secret - in the form of a young, stunning former fiance who's back in town to reclaim him. Fiona has a brilliantly witty writing style similar to authors such as Fiona Gibson and Chrissie Manby, and her talent as a chick-lit writer is very clear in her debut.



Author of the Year
Sue Watson (Love, Lies and Lemon Cake and Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake)


Sue Watson is the author of Younger Thinner Blonder and Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes, and in 2014 released two more novels, both of which were fantastic reads. Love, Lies and Lemon Cake was published in June, and festive book Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake was released in October. Sue is highly talented, bringing us some wonderful stories that you can easily spend hours curled up reading, and her two new latest novels were both highly entertaining and rather hard to put down!


Book of the Year
Don't Tell the Boss by Anna Bell



There were so many fantastic releases throughout 2014 that it was hard to choose an overall winner. However, one read that specifically stood out this year was Anna Bell's latest book, Don't Tell The Boss. Following on from her 2013 novel Don't Tell The Groom, Don't Tell the Boss once again focuses on Penny; a former gambler who, after successfully planning her own low-cost wedding and writing a popular blog for brides on a budget, accidentally finds herself moonlighting as a wedding planner alongside her full-time job. Anna's first novel was brilliant, but Don't Tell The Boss even more so. It's such a well-written book, with relatable characters and a great story that I became lost in until I had finished it. Penny will be returning next year in the third book of the series, Don't Tell the Brides-to-Be.



Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas from Chick Lit Uncovered!

Merry Christmas, readers! It's Christmas Eve, so time to prepare for tomorrow (mulled wine at the ready!). Uncovered will be returning after the festive celebrations with more news and books galore - so do stop by. Hope you all have a wonderful time!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

EXTRACT: The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards by Fiona Jane Collins

Uncovered absolutely loved The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards, the debut novel from Fiona Jane Collins. Today, we have an excerpt of the novel to share with you!

The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards
What would you do if you discovered the real reason for your husband’s proposal…and she was younger than you, prettier than you and out to get him back? 

Harmony Richards is forty-five, swallowed whole by a marriage she’s insecure in and a chore-ridden motherhood she can’t escape from, and dismayed that her looks are beginning to fade. If all that isn’t bad enough, she finds out her husband of twelve years has a Lost Love. A one that got away. Except she’s not away; she’s back. And her arrival makes Harmony feel her life is in faster free-fall than her face. 

Surely stalking the lost love, flirting with a man young enough to know better and taking on an unexpected new challenge can’t possibly make things worse?


Excerpt

At last, Melissa put some bloody clothes on: skinny jeans that hugged that perfect bottom, a black polo neck (a complete no-no for Harmony; they accentuated jowls) and some gorgeous black, suede ankle boots with a chunky heel. She then shrugged on a lovely tan leather jacket that was far too flimsy for the time of year — although Harmony didn’t suppose Melissa cared about things like that — slung a foxy tan bag over her shoulder and flounced out.
     In Melissa’s fragrant wake, Harmony was left reeling. Melissa was back, from Singapore, if she’d been there that long, or wherever else, and was in Camford. At the gym.
     At Harmony’s gym. Harmony had that horrible floating feeling again. Melissa was here. She showered and dressed in a daze. Glancing in the mirror on her way out she noted that her hair looked awful and her face was tomato red with all its make-up worn off. Hardly up to Melissa’s post-workout standard. Still, perhaps Melissa was off somewhere glamorous. She was sure to have a glamorous life, looking like that. Harmony was getting straight in her car and going home to clean the windows.
     She walked out of the changing room and immediately bumped into Legs. He was holding a blue clipboard, which clonked her on the nose.
     ‘Ah, so sorry. Are you okay?’ said a deep, rumbling voice with an Australian accent.
     Harmony glanced up from rubbing her nose and found herself confronted with an outstandingly beautiful man. Close-up, he looked amazing. He had very dark brown eyes with ridiculously long eyelashes and looked Mediterranean, with that glorious, thick hair pushed back. She knew without question that if she was his age, and single, and had met him in a club she’d have snogged him within twenty minutes. The thought made her redden a deeper shade of ketchup.
     ‘Yes. I’m fine,’ she said. ‘Probably my fault. I never look where I’m going. Sorry.’
     ‘No, hey, it’s definitely my fault,’ said Legs. ‘It’s me who’s got the clipboard. Is your nose okay?’
     ‘Yes,’ she said, giving it a bit of a prod. ‘I think it’ll live.’
     ‘I’m just toting this around.’ He gestured to the clipboard that had an official looking form clamped to it. ‘We’ve got a new initiative. A well-being package?’ His sentence went up at the end, like a question. She usually found it irritating. Lily sometimes did it: it was obviously some new ‘yoof’ thing. On him it was cute. ‘For an extra ten pounds a month you can have two sessions with a personal trainer and a health MOT,’ he continued. ‘Would you like to sign up?’
     ‘Er... Okay,’ said Harmony. She’d been gazing at his mouth as he talked. She probably would have agreed to anything he’d said. Like, ‘Get your knickers off,’ or ‘Drive to the airport —  we’re flying to Barbados.’
     He walked towards the reception desk and she trotted behind him, stunned by his legs in motion. Before she knew it, she had signed up for two personal training sessions with him on consecutive Tuesdays, starting next week, and a health MOT with him on Monday.
     ‘My name’s Blake by the way,’ said Blake. He locked his eyes onto hers and she wanted to climb up a ladder and dive right in. They were like chocolate swimming pools. The eyes as pools thing was a cliché, she knew, but what wasn’t already totally clichéd? He was a hot, young Australian personal trainer. She was an embarrassing middle-aged woman. It was about as clichéd as it could get.
     ‘As in Carrington?’ she said. And there it was. Her flirting reflex had instantly kicked in. It seemed it was innate.
     ‘Hey?’
     ‘Blake Carrington. From Dynasty. Blue Rinse Blake?’ Oh dear. Show your age, dear, why don’t you? thought Harmony.
     ‘Nah, doesn’t ring any bells,’ said Blake. He looked amused. He pushed back his thick luscious hair with one hand. Bloody hell, he was sublime.
     ‘Oh never mind,’ said Harmony, trying to resist the urge to shake her own hair out of its sweaty pony tail. ‘Okay, well, I’ll see on Monday at ten, then, for the MOT thing.’
     ‘See you then,’ said Blake. ‘I’ll look forward to it.’ And he winked.
     She could feel his eyes on her as she walked towards the revolving door at the exit of the lobby. Don’t look back. Don’t look back, she told herself.
     She looked back. He was leaning against a pillar with his arms folded, amusement dancing in those heart-stopping eyes as he blatantly appraised her from top to bottom. Cheeky so-and-so, she thought. But she was grinning as she walked to her car.
     As she did up her seatbelt, Harmony made the terrible mistake of looking at herself in the mirror. Silly cow! she thought. How deluded! Did she actually think he was flirting with her? That he might fancy her? She was hideous: he was clearly taking the piss. She really must make a point of remembering how old she was, especially when talking to ridiculously handsome young men who were young enough to be her offspring. Harmony pulled a face at the thought and drove out of the car park.
     The only good thing, thought Harmony, was that Blake had provided her with a fifteen minute distraction from Melissa. It was Melissa who occupied her brain for the drive home, via the Tesco Metro to pick up some dishwasher tablets, and made her turn the radio down so she could think. Two big, clunking questions whirled round her head like satellites: why was Melissa back in town? And now she was, would she want anything from Tom?

Monday, 22 December 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards by Fiona Jane Collins

What happens when your husband's ex-fiancee is back in town, and all set to reclaim her lost love? In The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards, the debut novel by Fiona Jane Collins, Harmony is about to find out.

Housewife Harmony Richards, forty-five and insecure about her fading looks and how quickly time has flown by. Married to successful Tom and mother to three children, Harmony appears to have it all in life - however, despite trying to count her blessings, there's still the issue of her apparently ageing face to contend with, having recently realised she's now one of 'those women' in the nightclub, the kind of women Harmony and best friend Julia would look upon with disdain (and amusement) during their student years in Bath.

There's also the fact that Tom never tells her that he loves her. Oh, and the newly-announced Melissa - the one that got away.

When Harmony's bitchy sister-in-law casually announces Melissa, Harmony's in shock. Having never known about Tom's first love, the revelation begins to constantly occupy Harmony's mind. And when Harmony realises that Melissa is back in town (and that she's young and beautiful) she decides there's only one thing to do - stalk her, and make sure she doesn't get her hands on Tom again...

With her plan wielding some hilarious results, Harmony's determined to keep the ex-fiancee away. Although difficulty arises when she meets the handsome Australian personal trainer, Blake, who begins to make her feel just that little bit younger.

But Harmony's out to do whatever it takes. Even terrible fake tanning...

When I was first sent the news of The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards, I checked it out immediately and instantly fell in love with Fiona's writing style. She is witty, clever, and each character is equally funny, such as the determined Harmony, best friend and partner in clubbing, Julia, and loving 'earth mother' Dee. Even though I'm not yet in my forties, I found that it was easy to relate to Harmony and her feelings, and the way that she sees herself and life - sometimes with a slightly cynical approach! There are some great moments in the novel, especially when it came to Melissa. I became hooked as soon as I began reading, and rooted for the lovable Harmony from the start.

Fiona Collins is certainly a talented writer - it's very clear from this novel, which is her first. I'll definitely be reading her future books, and am already looking forward to them!

Rating: 5/5

Stop by tomorrow to read an extract of The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

NEW RELEASES: Maggie Does Meribel by Nicola Doherty

Maggie Does Meribel is the latest novel in the five-part Girls on Tour series by Nicola Doherty (author of The Out of Office Girl and If I Could Turn Back Time). In the latest installment, Maggie is off to the French Alps for a couples' skiing holiday...

Maggie can't wait for her first ever skiing holiday. New Year's Eve in the French Alps with her boyfriend Leo and two other couples: what could be more romantic? She's picturing hot chocolate, romantic snowball fights and evenings snuggled together in front of the log fire. What she didn't picture is near-death experiences on the mountains, falling out with Leo and sharing a chalet with the unbearable Jenny. When she meets Sylvain, a gorgeous ski instructor, the line between harmless flirting and full-on misbehaviour becomes ... well, blurry. Will Maggie stay on the nursery slopes, or go seriously off-piste? Girls on Tour is an irresistible series of interlinked stories about five friends, ordinary girls who have extraordinary fun in faraway places. Expect the unexpected, the utterly hilarious and unforgettable, on this rollercoaster ride of love, laughs, surprises and sparks. You have a VIP pass to join each girl's adventure, so pack your bags and buckle your seatbelts, because just about anything is possible...

Saturday, 20 December 2014

HOLIDAY READS: Robyn Neeley shares an excerpt from Holiday Wedding

This weekend, Batter Up author Robyn Neeley stops by to share an excerpt from her new festive romance, Holiday Wedding.

Happy Holidays Romance Readers!

I’m so excited to stop by and share an excerpt from my Christmas romance, Holiday Wedding. This is the sequel to Destination Wedding and reunites all the characters from the first book including my handsome twins, my feisty and fun heroines and the best wedding planning friend on the planet!

This time it’s Drew’s story to tell, and he’s been waiting over a year for it! Check out the character interview I did last year on Drew’s take on his twin brother’s Happily Ever After. Then read an excerpt below from Holiday Wedding.

Holiday Wedding
Going home for Christmas this winter just might turn Drew Cannon into a real Grinch. When his college sweetheart, Lauren Kincaid, broke off their engagement a year ago, Drew retreated to Tokyo to run the Asia-Pacific division of the family’s toy company and lick his wounds. If that weren’t enough, his attempt at a high-profile holiday doll for the company was a bust. Now he’s headed back to New York City to spend the holidays with his lovestruck dad, his pissed-off twin brother, and an ex who broke his heart.

Lauren isn’t exactly keen to spend Christmas with her former flame, either. But as JDL Toys’ marketing director, she’s forced to deal with their doll problem, holiday or not. Things take a turn when she and Drew are tasked with planning surprise nuptials for his brother.

With all their focus on happily ever after, Lauren and Drew soon discover things might not be so settled between them after all. Can a holiday wedding offer them a second chance at forever? 

Excerpt

Drew leaned back in the steamy Jacuzzi, letting the hot water jets do their magic. There was something to be said about relaxing in a hot tub in the brisk outdoors.
     He breathed in the fresh mountain air. Today had started out a little weird, but touching Lauren’s sugary lips, even if it was only with one finger, had been a highlight. If the bakeshop owner hadn’t appeared, would they have kissed? He was all but sure of it.
     If only the whole day had been about flirting with Lauren. But no, his brother had turned them into elves. Why had Luke sent them to Santa’s Workshop to make toys?
     Didn’t he want them to plan his wedding? Losing three hours this morning to paint train sets didn’t seem like the best way to hit the ground running.
     Today should have been devoted to the task at hand as they would spend the weekend pushing the Happily Ever After dolls at the festival.
     The dolls. Drew had beelined it to his laptop when they got back to the cabin. Only two more boy dolls were registered for the site to meet their matches. Two. Freakin’. Dolls.
     His head dropped to the left in frustration and his gaze lifted up to Lauren’s bedroom window. She had disappeared when they returned, saying she needed to get the rest of the frosting out of her hair. That was a couple of hours ago.
     Selecting the cakes—and then wearing them—had been the best part of this day. She had been absolutely right about their not choosing their own wedding cake. He let out a heavy sigh. Maybe if they had been more involved in all the different pieces of planning their wedding, things would be different.
     He should have given into his feelings and pressed his mouth to her frosted lips. But what if she’d pushed him away? Would he then have his answer to the question he didn’t have the balls to ask? Did she no longer love him?
     He sank down into the tub, letting the hot water massage his shoulders. Then there was Olivia. She’d sent three text messages earlier saying how much she missed him before going radio silent this evening. He wasn’t quite sure when he’d do it, but they wouldn’t be a couple for much longer. It was not only the right thing to do; it was the honest thing to do.
     “Hey, is there room in there for another?”
     His head flew up and his heart raced as he watched Lauren glide over in a white cotton bathrobe. She held her iPad in one hand and large ruby red towel in the other. “Depends.”
     “Oh, really.” She lifted an eyebrow. “On what?”
     He pointed to the iPad. “As long as you promise we’re not Skyping with Miles.” He drew an imaginary circle around the hot tub. “This is an annoying wedding-planner-free zone.”
     She giggled. “I can’t make any promises, but I’m pretty sure he has no desire to see us exposing so much skin.”
     His groin tightened as he waited for her robe to hit the ground. Was Lauren wearing his favorite lavender bikini? Three seconds later he had his answer as she removed her robe and slid into the Jacuzzi. Hello, string bikini. I’ve missed you.

Holiday Wedding is available on Amazon and other e-retailers.

About Robyn
Robyn Neeley is an East Coaster who loves to explore new places, watches way more reality TV than she cares to admit, can’t live without Recess Peanut Butter Cups and has never met a Christmas cookie she didn’t like. (Her favorite cookie made it into Holiday Wedding!) She writes romantic comedy, sometimes with a hint of magic, but always with a happy ending.

You can find out more about Robyn Neeley by visiting her website, Facebook page, or by following her on Twitter.

Friday, 19 December 2014

UNCOVERED INTERVIEWS: Emily Benet

Emily Benet's new novel The Temp was released in paperback yesterday. Emily, who gained a book deal with HarperCollins after The Temp became highly successful on Wattpad with over a million hits. Emily is also the author of Shop Girl Diaries and Short Stories for Busy Adults, and after hearing about The Temp being published, we couldn't wait to find out more!

Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
A broke temp finds a sack of bananas and decides to become a conceptual artist.

What inspired you to write The Temp?
Like my main character, Amber, I've visited art shows where I've been baffled by how seriously some of the pieces have been taken. Some artists just to need to hang a dirty sock from the ceiling to attract a crowd. I think we live in a society where you can be famous for just about anything if you make enough noise about it. I thought, why can't a bored, broke temp take the world by storm with a sack of bananas, some spray paint and some friends to egg her on?

Where do you do most of your writing?
I write in my bedroom. I've had the same £19 Ikea desk for about 10 years and it's the perfect shape, round-edged and wide! I don't know how people afford to write in coffee shops in London!

What is your favourite book?
That's an impossible question! It depends on my mood. I am very fond of Starter for Ten, as it really made me laugh.

Which part of The Temp did you enjoy writing the most?
I had a giggle most of the way through. I did get a little stuck in the middle, but then I had an idea involving body paint... I won't say anymore.

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
It has to be Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. 

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
Get your work out there. Start a blog. Test your work out on Wattpad. Don't be precious. Don't get stuck on one thing either. I've written full drafts of three books that I had to accept weren't going to work. Nothing is wasted. The more you write, the better you get!

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
I'm working on a new novel called #PleaseRetweet. It's about a young woman who runs the Twitter accounts belonging to celebrities who can't control themselves online. She tweets as if she were them. It gets messy as real life and virtual reality clash!

Thanks, Emily!

You can find out more about Emily Benet by visiting her website, Facebook page, or by following her on Twitter.

The Temp by Emily Benet
Twenty-something Amber is fresh out of university with a degree she has no clue what to do with… so she temps in order to earn enough money to cover the cost of living the good life in London.

While scrounging free wine from a wacky modern art gallery (her favourite life-hack) she looks at the ‘art’ and thinks ‘if they can do it, why not me?’. Enter a drop-dead gorgeous gallery promoter and a bunch of unlikely friends, including her housemate Egg (short for Egbert), to help – and hinder – her crazy idea to unleash spray painted bananas across the capital.

Laugh out loud with this fun romantic comedy and follow Amber as she literally spray paints the town red – and blue – and yellow – and pink… 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

NEW RELEASES: The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards by Fiona Jane Collins

The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards is the fabulously funny debut novel from Fiona Jane Collins, in which forty-something Harmony, insecure about her looks and her marriage, finds herself with an unexpected love rival...

What would you do if you discovered the real reason for your husband’s proposal…and she was younger than you, prettier than you and out to get him back?

Harmony Richards is forty-five, swallowed whole by a marriage she’s insecure in and a chore-ridden motherhood she can’t escape from, and dismayed that her looks are beginning to fade. If all that isn’t bad enough, she finds out her husband of twelve years has a Lost Love. A one that got away. Except she’s not away; she’s back. And her arrival makes Harmony feel her life is in faster free-fall than her face.

Surely stalking the lost love, flirting with a man young enough to know better and taking on an unexpected new challenge can’t possibly make things worse?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

NEW RELEASES: New Shopaholic short story from Sophie Kinsella

Shopaholic on Honeymoon, a short story by bestselling Shopaholic author Sophie Kinsella, is available to download now. Sophie's last novel, Shopaholic to the Stars, was released in September, and now Becky Brandon (formerly Bloomwood!) is back in this short tale, which takes places shortly after Shopaholic Ties the Knot.

The new Mr and Mrs Brandon are on honeymoon, and Becky has big plans! They’ve got a whole year to explore Venice, learn yoga in India, sleep in little wooden huts in South America… maybe even see penguins in the Antarctic. And of course they’ll need to buy just a few essential souvenirs along the way (everyone needs a set of Murano glass goblets, after all).

They’re not just tourists, they’re travellers. Becky is sure it is just the thing that Luke needs – time to unwind. He’ll come back a changed man… with all the good bits still intact of course.

But it soon becomes clear that Luke has different plans entirely. Can Becky help him let go, or will this little disagreement threaten their whole honeymoon?

Thursday, 11 December 2014

NEW RELEASES: Marriage to Measure by Talli Roland

Talli Roland's latest novel is now available from Amazon! After Build a Man and Construct a Couple, heroine Serenity Holland is back in Marriage to Measure, and things aren't exactly going to plan...

When Serenity Holland proposes to her long-time boyfriend Jeremy, she’s certain ‘forever’ is a perfect fit. As the wedding train steams forward, though, Serenity starts to wonder if they really are an ideal match. From a crusty old ring to a dilapidated house she’s left to renovate on her own – not to mention the appearance of Jeremy’s clingy ex-fiancée – engagement feels more like disengagement. 

Even worse, wedding planning’s like a bad hangover as Serenity juggles the wishes of family and friends with her bossy mother-in-law-to-be, resulting in a Frankenwedding nothing like the simple ceremony she envisioned. 

Can Serenity knit her relationship back together and fashion a celebration that suits, or will ‘I do’ become ‘I don’t’? 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

BOOK NEWS: The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

The Awakening of Miss Prim is a new novel heading our way in January, in which an academic young woman decides to work away in a small village. But there are some challenges ahead...

Prudencia Prim is a young woman of intelligence and achievement, with a deep knowledge of literature and several letters after her name. But when she accepts the post of private librarian in the village of San Ireneo de Arnois, she is unprepared for what she encounters there. Her employer, a book-loving intellectual, is dashing yet contrarian, always ready with a critique of her cherished Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. The neighbours, too, are capable of charm and eccentricity in equal measure, determined as they are to preserve their singular little community from the modern world outside. Prudencia hoped for friendship in San Ireneo but she didn't suspect that she might find love - nor that the course of her new life would run quite so rocky, would offer challenge and heartache as well as joy, discovery and fireside debate. The Awakening of Miss Prim is a distinctive and delightfully entertaining tale of literature, philosophy and the search for happiness.

Friday, 28 November 2014

UNCOVERED INTERVIEWS: Lorna Peel

Lorna Peel, author of new novel Only You, stops by today to tell us more about the book and her inspiration behind it. In Only You, divorced evening-class teacher Jane finds herself unexpectedly interested in one of her students, who turns out to be a well-known actor.

Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
Can Jane handle living - and loving - in the spotlight?

What inspired you to write Only You?
In today’s celebrity culture everyone, it seems, wants to be famous. Being famous is fantastic, with parties and premiers, and having your picture in the papers and gossip magazines.

But is it? I wanted to explore what it would be really like to be in a relationship with someone famous but you wish they weren’t because you are a private person who likes a quiet life? Could you love that person enough to be able to put up with all the invasions of your privacy?

It’s a predicament and it’s why I created Jane Hollinger so she can try and work it out.

Where do you do most of your writing?
Anywhere warm with a comfy chair where I can type away on my laptop!

What is your favourite book?
I don’t have a favourite book but I definitely have a favourite author. I love Sharon Kay Penman’s historical novels, especially The Sunne in Splendour and her Welsh trilogy. The amount of research which goes into her books must be huge but her novels never suffer from info-dump-itis!

Which part of Only You did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved writing the first draft. Editing, grammar, spelling and filling in any plot holes all come later. I love the freedom of getting the first draft written and it took me about two months.

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
Probably Jane Eyre. Outwardly, she seems mousey and quiet but she’s got real backbone and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
You have to be stubborn, grow a very thick skin, keep believing in yourself and your writing and never give up.

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
My current project is an historical romance called Into The Unknown and is set in England and Ireland during World War Two. This is the blurb:

London on 3 September 1939 is in upheaval. War is inevitable. Into this turmoil steps Kate Sheridan, newly arrived from Ireland to live with her aunt and uncle, and look for work. When she meets Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler sparks fly, but he is a notorious womaniser. Should she ignore all the warnings and get involved with a ladies man whose life will be in daily danger?

Charlie Butler has no intention of getting involved with a woman. But when he meets Kate his resolve is shattered. Should he allow his heart to rule his head and fall for a nineteen year old Irish girl while there is a war to fight?

Private conflicts and personal doubts are soon overshadowed. Will the horrors of total war bring Kate and Charlie together or tear them apart?

Thanks, Lorna!

You can find out more about Lorna Peel and Only You by visiting her website, Twitter or Facebook. You can also add Only You to your shelves on Goodreads.

Only You by Lorna Peel
Jane Hollinger is the wrong side of thirty, divorced and struggling to pay the mortgage her cheating ex left her with. As a qualified genealogist, teaching family history evening classes is a way for her to make ends meet. But she begins to wonder if it’s such a good idea when a late enroller for the class is a little… odd. “Badly-blond Bloke” both scares and intrigues Jane, and when she discovers he is her all-time favourite actor and huge crush, Robert Armstrong, she’s stunned. Even more stunning to Jane is the fact that Robert is interested in her romantically. He’s everything she ever dreamed of, and more, but can she overcome her fear of living in the public eye to be with the man she loves?

Thursday, 27 November 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Married by Midnight by Talli Roland

Christmas is almost here, and it's been fun reading some of the many festive-themed novels that have been released over the past few months, including some novellas. I was lucky to receive a copy of Talli Roland's new Christmas story, Married by Midnight, which was released in early November, and after having loved her previous Christmas tales, Mistletoe in Manhattan and Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts, I was looking forward to this one.

Kate is soon to be married to Tim, her seemingly perfect fiance. After all, it's written in the stars - both Kate and her Mum, firm believers in astrology, have consulted the horoscopes and all signs point to a perfect match. Even if sport-mad Tim really doesn't seem like the best match for Kate. The stars can't be wrong...

With Mum and sister Bea in tow, Kate's on the hunt for a wedding dress in a local boutique when she stumbles upon a vintage dress from the 1930s. It's the perfect dress. And pinned into its delicate fabric is a good-luck note.

Determined, Kate and Bea set out on a mission to uncover the history of the dress and the mysterious note in time for Kate's wedding.

Married by Midnight is a short book, which I finished in one sitting along with some hot chocolate. It's the perfect festive read, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page. Talli is a very talented writer, having written some fantastic novels (including Build a Man, Watching Willow Watts, The Pollyanna Plan and most recent novel The No-Kids Club) which is evident in this story, and even though Married by Midnight is short, it's a magical tale complete with wonderful characters.

Rating: 5/5

BOOK NEWS: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

There are to be many exciting new books being released in 2015, and one of those titles is The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. Published in April, The Little Paris Bookshop looks set to be an enchanting, romantic tale about a bookseller who possesses a wonderful gift.

On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a 'literary apothecary', for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers. The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust - until now. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

BOOK NEWS: The Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews

The Cake Shop in the Garden is the upcoming novel from bestselling author Carole Matthews (her festive novel The Christmas Party is such a fun read!) Sadly, we're going to have to wait a little while yet - The Cake Shop in the Garden will not be released until April 2015! Read on for the blurb...

Fay Merryweather runs her cake shop from her beautiful garden. She whips up airy sponges and scrumptious scones, while her customers enjoy the lovely blossoms and gorgeous blooms. Looking after the cake shop, the garden and her cantankerous mother means Fay is always busy but she accepts her responsibilities because if she doesn't do all this, who will? Then Danny Wilde walks into her life and makes Fay question every decision she's ever made. When a sudden tragedy strikes, Fay's entire world is thrown off balance even further and she doesn't know which way to turn. Can Fay find the strength to make a life-changing decision - even if it means giving up the thing she loves the most? Life, love and family are about to collide in The Cake Shop in the Garden.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

BOOK REVIEW: A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby

Back in June, I reviewed Chrissie Manby's long-awaited - and much loved! - summer novel A Proper Family Holiday, in which the Benson family head off for a family trip abroad to Lanzarote, much to the dismay of magazine writer Chelsea. To Society writer Chelsea, a package holiday in a rather unglamorous resort with the rest of the Benson clan, including moody sister Ronnie, is the stuff of nightmares. That is, until Chelsea - and her sister - begin to learn a few things about life and family. Including their parents' big secret...

Now the Bensons are back, in festive tale A Proper Family Christmas. And the family might just be expanding.

In the Great House in a country village, Annabel Buchanan is preparing to open her home, a stunning manor house seeped in history, to the public for a local event, much to the annoyance of teenage daughter Izzy and doting husband Richard. Annabel has the perfect life; wealth, an enviable upbringing, a loving husband, a wonderful daughter. Not to mention her beautiful house. Privately-educated Annabel has it all. Though she, too, is keeping a secret.

When seemingly perfect daughter Izzy makes a devastating mistake at a festival, Annabel's life is turned upside down. Izzy's health is rapidly deteriorating, and she won't improve fully until she receives a new kidney. And with Annabel and Richard both unable to donate, Annabel is forced to do something she was never planning on ever doing, if it will save her daughter's life - admitting her secret - that she was adopted - and seeking out her biological family.

Annabel was once named Daisy, the daughter of two teenage parents. The Bensons.

Annabel soon learns that her birth parents are Jacqui and Dave Benson, and compared to her own upbringing, the Buchanans and the Bensons appear to be worlds apart. Annabel is dismayed when faced with her real roots, although she'll do anything possible to help Izzy - even if it means spending time with her overly-loving birth parents and the unruly Ronnie. The Bensons, on the other hand, are overjoyed that their first child Daisy has come back into their lives. But it's only a matter of time before they realise the Buchanans' true intentions...

With hilarious and heart-warming scenes that made the first novel so charming and fun, the slightly dysfunctional yet loving Bensons are back, along with the Buchanans, and I loved this novel. Most of the book takes place after the Lanzarote trip of A Proper Family Holiday, and it's wonderfully addictive. Those familiar with the first book will remember Chelsea, Ronnie, teenager Sophie, six-year-old Jack and of course, Grandad Bill - however, if you haven't read A Proper Family Holiday, not to worry - events are described throughout the book so it can be read as a standalone novel. The characters are great in their own ways - even Annabel, who I easily disliked at the beginning, though later in the book, I began to sympathise with her. Husband Richard is a lovely character, as is Izzy. Each chapter focuses on a different character and their lives, such as Chelsea, and her growing relationship with widower Adam (and his precocious daughter, Lily).

A Proper Family Christmas is a warm, fun and festive read that I would definitely recommend.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, 24 November 2014

BOOK NEWS: The Temp by Emily Benet

The Temp is the newly-released novel from Wattpad sensation Emily Benet. After becoming well-loved on Wattpad, the serialised novel was picked up by HarperCollins. The paperback is available on December 18th, and is all about new graduate Amber who takes to temping before apparently finding her calling in the art world...

Twenty-something Amber is fresh out of university with a degree she has no clue what to do with...so she temps in order to earn enough money to cover the cost of living the good life in London. While scrounging free wine from a wacky modern art gallery (her favourite life-hack) she looks at the 'art' and thinks 'if they can do it, why not me?'. Enter a drop-dead gorgeous gallery promoter and a bunch of unlikely friends, including her housemate Egg (short for Egbert), to help - and hinder - her crazy idea to unleash spray painted bananas across the capital. Laugh out loud with this fun romantic comedy and follow Amber as she literally spray paints the town red - and blue - and yellow - and pink...

Saturday, 22 November 2014

BOOK NEWS: When I Met You by Jemma Forte

Having thoroughly enjoyed Jemma Forte's novel If You're Not the One earlier this year, it was exciting to find out that Jemma's next book will be released in January. When I Met You focuses on Marianne, whose life is about to change completely when her father reveals a big secret.

Marianne Baker is happy. Sort of. She's worked at the same job for years (nearly 15, but who's counting), she lives at home with her mum (who is driving her crazy) and sleeps in a single bed (yep, her love life is stalled). Playing the violin is her only real passion - but nobody like her does that for a living. Then one night everything changes. The father who abandoned Marianne over twenty years ago turns up on her doorstep, with a dark secret that changes her life forever. Suddenly Marianne's safe, comfortable world is shattered. If her father isn't the man she thought he was, then who is he? And, more to the point, who is she? It's time to find out who the real Marianne Baker is.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

BOOK NEWS: Someone Like You by Amy Smolcic

Someone Like You is the debut novel from Australian author and student Amy Smolcic, focusing on top model Chloe and aspiring musician Jaeger. Someone Like You is due for release on 7th December, and you can find out more about Amy at her website.

She has walked on the catwalks of every major designer and earner enough money to live comfortably for ten lifetimes. Country girl, Chloe Jackson, has hit it big.

However, all that glitters isn't gold and beneath the lights and glamour is a dark world.


Jaeger Colton dreams of greatness. He and his band relocated to New York City with the hope of making it big. But with their record contract being cancelled, his dream has been put on hold. With the disappointment, will he chase the dream he desperately wants?


When their worlds collide, can Jaeger help Chloe pick up the pieces? Or, will it be up to Chloe to transform her broken life?

COVER NEWS: Don't Tell the Brides-To-Be by Anna Bell

Anna Bell's brilliant Don't Tell series continues next year with Don't Tell The Brides-To-Be, the latest tale of professional wedding planner Penny, and here is the lovely new cover! Don't Tell the Brides-To-Be is the third book in the series, and will be published in February.

Things are looking up for Penny Robinson. She's kicked her gambling addiction and even started her own business: Princess on a Shoestring, an all-inclusive service for brides-to-be looking to pinch pennies on their big day.

Between family rows and wardrobe calamities, wedding planning is no piece of cake... but Penny's got it all under control. That is, until a rival planner decides to take her down - one hard-won bride at a time.

Now Penny must fight to save her reputation and her livelihood before its too late. But when a romantic weekend away has some unexpected consequences, Penny's expectations for her career are brought back down to earth with a bump.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

EVENTS: Blogger weekend at Owlpen Manor with Kate Riordan and Penguin Books

A couple of weeks ago, I received an exciting invite from Penguin Books to a weekend event in Gloucestershire to celebrate the new novel by Kate Riordan. Published in January, The Girl in the Photograph is an intriguing tale set in the countryside, in the historic Firecombe Manor. The beautiful Owlpen Manor Estate, near Uley, was in fact the inspiration behind Firecombe and the novel, and during the weekend myself and fellow book bloggers were lucky enough to experience this beautiful place for ourselves.

When Alice Eveleigh arrives at Fiercombe Manor during the long, languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts, none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton whose only traces remain in a few tantalisingly blurred photographs. Why will no one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish? As the sun beats down relentlessly, Alice becomes ever more determined to unearth the truth about the girl in the photograph - and stop her own life from becoming an eerie echo of Elizabeth's...

Arriving at the Owlpen Estate, I was greeted by Jessica from Penguin, who showed me to my lovely cottage. Grist Mill is an eighteenth-century mill, beautifully restored and so very cosy! Soon after exploring the cottage, I was met by bloggers (and weekend housemates!) Lizzie and Melissa, and began to get ready for lunch.



At the Cynder House we were met by the lovely Kate Riordan and the ladies from Penguin, which gave us the opportunity to chat to Kate and find out more about the book. The Girl in the Photograph, we were told, was originally going to be a ghost story, though this later changed. However, having now visited Owlpen, it's understandable how one could be inspired to write such a book. Steeped in history, Owlpen Manor is located in a Cotswold valley, with old buildings and complete darkness at night. Anyone who isn't familiar with living in such a rural location (myself included, being a city girl) may find it slightly eerie! But that's one of the many reasons why I loved this place.


We were taken on a tour of the Manor House by Sir Nicholas, who explained the history of Owlpen Manor and showed us around the grounds. The house is absolutely stunning and so very inspiring.

Later, we had afternoon tea in the cottage, then took some time to relax before the evening's dinner, which was a delicious three-course meal in the Cynder House. We chatted more with Kate and each other about the novel, and book blogging in general. It was a lovely evening, and later it was nice to get into my cosy bed in Grist Mill to read The Girl in the Photograph. Reading the book whilst staying at Owlpen was such a magical experience.


(Group picture taken by Sarah from Penguin).

Kate was absolutely lovely, and the whole weekend was such great fun. In fact, I didn't want to go home on Sunday; Owlpen is such a nice place that I wish I was back there! In fact, if you are looking for a cosy place to relax, and enjoy a historical location, then do check out Owlpen Manor.

A big thank-you to Kate Riordan, Penguin Books and Owlpen for a truly wonderful experience.


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Christmas Party by Carole Matthews

Bestselling author Carole Matthews has returned this winter with festive novel The Christmas Party (her second book of 2014, after January release A Place to Call Home). I have always been a fan of Carole's books, and her previous Christmas-themed novels have been a joy to read. So I was particularly looking forward to The Christmas Party, in which the annual festive event of a huge corporate firm threatens to unleash some pretty scandalous secrets...

Louise is a newcomer to large company Fossil Oil. After her recent breakup, doting single mum Louise has moved back in with her parents in an attempt to clear her debts and get her life back on track. A new career is a definite wish too, and her new job - PA to Fossil Oil manager Tyler Benson - is a good place to start working her way up the corporate ladder. Even if Tyler does try to seduce her at every opportunity. Louise has no interest, and romance is not exactly on the cards right now, let alone with her married boss. Then again, there's the handsome and talented Josh Wallace - that is, if Louise can remove him from the clutches of office pal (and rival for Josh's affection!), Karen.

Meanwhile, Kirsten Benson is bored. Having known about Tyler's cheating ways for a long, long time, Kirsten is wondering what she's doing with her life, She's lonely, for starters, and dreading the lavish Fossil Oil Christmas party. Kirsten knows that she'll come face to face with Tyler's new PA, who will no doubt take a specific interest in her husband. (Well, the last one did...)

Pretending she's having a good time at the fancy event is proving to be a difficult task, especially when Simon turns up out of the blue, announcing his new role at Fossil as Tyler's new boss. And Simon and Kirsten have a history of their own...

And there's Melissa. Being the wife of a rich businessman isn't as glitzy as it seems. Clearly, as Melissa once fell into the arms of Tyler Benson. And she wants more. With her husband's recent announcement about Fossil that is not only about to shake up the entire company, but also send her straight back to the States, she has to get Tyler for herself - and fast.

Three women are about to experience an unforgettable Christmas party, in more ways than one.

When I began reading The Christmas Party, I did not envision the many twists and events that came up in this novel. It became swiftly addictive, from the run-up to what would seem like any normal office Christmas party to life-changing events for all three of the main female characters. I found each of them likable in their own ways, despite the rivalry and secrets that went on throughout the book! We've all experiences some eventful office parties, which is another reason why this was an interesting read. Carole has a talent of creating interesting, relatable characters in all of her novels and The Christmas Party was no different. If you are looking for a festive story that's fun (and more scandalous than overly-sweet), then The Christmas Party is definitely for you.

Rating: 5/5

BOOK NEWS: Don't Mention the Rock Star by Bree Darcy

Don't Mention the Rock Star is the debut novel by Australian writer and journalist Bree Darcy, published on January 15. Married showbiz reporter Kellie is about to have her life made quite difficult. It's one thing being reunited with your ex-boyfriend - but what happens when that boyfriend is now a famous rock star?

They fell in love in an instant … so why have they spent a lifetime apart?

As a teenager Kellie dated an American boy but circumstances meant they went their separate ways. Now he’s back and she’s so tempted to see him again. But two decades have passed and they are both married with children.

And the last thing a celebrity reporter like her needs is the world finding out about her past relationship with a rock star. Especially as Kellie’s husband doesn’t even know she once dated AJ Dangerfield, lead singer of legendary band Danger Game. And she has no intention of him finding out. EVER.

As Kellie deals with a demanding boss, a bullied son, an infuriating mother-in-law and a best friend who won’t act her age, she finds herself playing a dangerous game. What will happen if her two worlds collide? And is it possible that first love never fades?

Friday, 14 November 2014

FESTIVE READS: Christmas Novellas

We've already featured some great new Christmas reads from some well-loved and debut writers. Here are some shorter festive reads - novellas perfect for curling up with in winter.

Sealed With a Christmas Kiss by Rachel Lucas
Kate has taken to life on the remote Scottish island of Auchenmor like a seal to water: she's given a new lease of life to the Laird's estate in her day job; she's befriended the once-nosy locals; and even young Laird Roddy is not quite so grumpy these days.

Better still, Kate has just had her best idea yet: they'll turn the castle into the most gorgeous wedding venue in Scotland. The pressure's on as the first wedding is booked in for Christmas Eve - just weeks away. But with a mismatched bride and groom, a hysterical PR on her case, her own relationship woes and a huge storm blowing in, can Kate pull it off in time?

The Gift: A Christmas Miracle by Joanne Clancy
Julie Hamilton loves Christmas. It’s her favorite time of year, from the cinnamon smell of freshly baked mince-pies to the excitement of buying gifts for family and friends, decorating the tree, and hanging stockings for Santa Claus on the mantelpiece. 

This Christmas promises to be extra special because she’s expecting the perfect gift--her first baby--on Christmas Eve. 

However, a chance encounter turns her world upside down, and soon, she’s praying for her very own Christmas miracle. 

Can the spirit of the Christmas season and the kindness of strangers find a way to make her wish come true?

The Perfect Christmas by Kate Forster
Hollywood movie star Maggie and friend and manager Zoe need an escape from their complicated star-studded lives in LA. With its history and Christmas charm, London feels like the perfect getaway.

But can they truly leave their realities behind?

In their luxurious quarters, the girls meet Holly who is ideal at showing Maggie and Zoe the sumptuous sights and sounds of London in their most glittering light. But behind her bright façade, Holly is hiding a secret: suffering from unrequited love, she’s looking for a Christmas miracle. Desperate to see an unattainable love story for Holly come together, will our LA starlets succeed in providing a Hollywood ending before the dawn of Christmas Day?

Secret Santa by Scarlett Bailey
A self-confessed Christmas queen, Sue Montaigne prides herself on organising the annual nativity pageant in her small Cornish village of Poldore.

But this year, what with having to deal with the repairs on Castle House after it was wrecked by a terrible storm, training a new – and frankly flighty – Virgin Mary and managing a Joseph who is allergic to sheep, she is distinctly lacking a little bit of ‘me time’.

And then there are the auditions for the new Santa. But nothing prepares her for the beautiful man who turns up, a twinkle in his eye and a promise to make her Christmas dreams come true…

Christmas at the Cove by Victoria Connelly
When Millie Venning escapes to her aunt's cottage on the windswept Devon coast for Christmas, she isn't looking for romance. So, when she finds a handsome stranger already at the cottage, she's baffled. Has her aunt double-booked the cottage by mistake or is she up to her match-making tricks once again? 

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