Thursday, 22 June 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Beta Mum: Adventures in Alpha Land by Isabella Davidson

The Beta Mum: Adventures in Alpha Land is the newly-released debut novel by Isabella Davidson, popular blogger at Notting Hill Yummy Mummy (check out her recent blog tour to find out more about Isabella!) I was pretty excited about this book as soon as I heard about it. A new city, rivalry, anonymous blogging...it seemed like a promising debut!

When her husband lands a job opportunity that's hard to turn down, Sophie Bennett begins to prepare the family's big move from Toronto to London. Moving to a new city is hard enough, but heading to a new city halfway across the globe is even more difficult - especially when there's Sophie's four-year-old daughter Kaya's schooling to consider.

Luckily, Michael's contacts have landed them the services of a nursery consultant who manages to get Kaya a place at Cherry Blossoms, one of the most exclusive nurseries in Notting Hill. Sophie is sure that taking Kaya to her new school will provide the perfect opportunity to talk to the other mums and make new friends - but as it happens, she couldn't be more wrong.

The mums at Cherry Blossoms are not what Sophie expects; incedibly wealthy, beautiful (one is an actual supermodel) and just a bit judgemental, Sophie's first interactions with the 'Alpha Mums' doesn't exactly go down too well. Feeling self-conscious and out of her depth at the school gates of exclusivity she has not fully experienced before, Sophie vows to try again.

However, she soon becomes certain that she won't fit in with these high-maintenance mums who are always fighting for the top spot in the Alpha Mum roster. Rude, cliquey and fiercely competitive in everything they do, these 'yummy mummies' are desperate to outdo one another and take down anyone who gets in their way.

Lonely and homesick, Sophie takes out her frustration on a blog. Naming herself 'Beta Mum', she anonymously chronicles her day to day life at the school gates, noting some of the conversations and goings-on at some of the vast Cherry Blossoms events. Pretty soon Sophie is gaining followers from all around the world, who are stopping by to share their own amusing tales of school-run woes.

As the blog gains more attention - especially from one man who might just be married to one of the Alphas - Sophie becomes more content, making sure she documents her new life full of overachieving competitive mums for the world to read about. With her blog, people are finally listening to her, making her realise that she's not alone.

That is until one day, when she accidentally reveals the location of the London nursery, and it's only a matter of time before the Alpha's work out the mystery blogger's true identity...

I'm going to stop there in case I spoil any more, and I certainly don't want to do that because this book is downright brilliant. I was hooked from page one, and it didn't take me long to finish because I could hardly put it down. Isabella is funny, with sparkling wit, and her fun writing style shines through. I was rooting for Sophie since the very beginning of the novel.

I'm not a mum, and thus have never experienced the kind of behaviour Sophie has to endure at the nursery, however I have heard similar stories from others who have! It reminds me of high school, where classes were dominated by the typical cliques and bullies. Some people just never seem to grow up, often concealing their own problems and insecurities beneath a false layer of confidence, and I think Isabella has captured this brilliantly.

The Beta Mum: Adventures in Alpha Land is an absolutely wonderful, unputdownable debut.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

COMING SOON: Every Secret Thing by Rachel Crowther

Every Secret Thing is the new novel from Rachel Crowther, author of The Things You DO for Love. The novel is due for release on 29th June and focuses on five friends who return to the Lake District and rediscover past events...

Can you ever bury the past? 

She'd recognised in him something of herself: that sense of not belonging, of secrets fiercely kept...
Five friends, newly graduated, travel together to the Lake District. Young and ambitious, they little imagine the events that will overtake them that fateful summer, tearing their fragile group apart.

Twenty years later, they return to the same spot, summoned by a mysterious bequest. It's not long before old friendships - and old romances - are re-kindled. But soon, too, rivalries begin to re-emerge and wounds are painfully reopened...

How long does it take for past sins to be forgiven? And can the things they destroy ever really be recovered?

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Not Working by Lisa Owens

Not Working is the much anticipated debut novel from Lisa Owens. This book was on my radar for quite some time - plus, I was in love with its original cover art - so when it appeared on Netgalley I jumped at the chance to read it.

Twenty-something Claire might seem to possess the recipe for a good life; a London flat, a boyfriend who's a trainee brain surgeon, a mother who she spends time with, and a decent day job. However, Claire isn't thoroughly satisfied - she isn't doing a job she loves, and even though she doesn't have to worry too much financially with Luke's salary, she has suspicions that he may be cheating on her.

A bit fed up with a life that now seems to be heading nowhere, Claire decides to quit her tedious job and find one that's more meaningful - to truly find her calling. After all, she has enough savings to keep her going for enough time to find a job - which, sadly, is harder than she expected.

Claire soon realises that perhaps leaving a job before finding another was probably not the best of ideas, and soon her life, which at least used to have some semblance of normality, is taken over by an excessive job hunt. Claire needs to get her life back on track, and quickly.

Not Working seemed as though it would be a promising debut. I had expected it to be quirky, humorous, with the added relatablility of twenty-something life. Most of us have probably taken jobs 'for now' with the intent of landing our dream careers, or have spent considerable time glued to our computers, applying for various roles over and over again. That's part of what interested me about this novel  - we've all been there, that's life, that's reality sometimes. But sadly, it just didn't ring true.

Firstly, Claire is an extremely annoying character; she's self-centered and irresponsible, and if I'm being blunt, acts like a whiny, entitled, immature and shallow millennial waiting for everything to be automatically handed to her. (I am only a couple of years older than Claire, and yet with her actions, it seems as though she's a lot younger). I couldn't sympathise with her at all and she annoyed me so much that I really didn't want to finish the novel.

Secondly, the format of this book is quite annoying; it's not written in novel form, more like a diary, with every page or so having a different title, with a glimpse into Claire's relatively normal, day to day life. This became very tedious, VERY quickly, as the chapters didn't fully flow for me and it was hard to get into the story.

I'm disappointed, mainly because I had such high hopes for this book. That said, if Lisa Owens releases another novel I would certainly give it a go, but as for Not Working, I'm sad to say it wasn't for me.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, 19 June 2017

UNCOVERED PICKS: Sunny Summer Reads (part two!)

Seeing as the sun is blazing outside, it's the perfect time to take a look at some more summer novels (did you see part one?). It doesn't matter whether you're away on an exotic holiday or sunning it up in the garden, these books will whisk you away on a summer adventure!


Just for the Holidays by Sue Moorcroft
In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with...


The Gin Shack on the Beach by Catherine Miller
When octogenarian Olive Turner is persuaded by her son to move into a retirement home, she congratulates herself on finding the secret to an easy life: no washing up, cooking or cleaning. But Olive isn’t one for mindless bingo with her fellow residents, and before the first day is over she's already hatching a plan to escape back to her beloved beach hut and indulge in her secret passion for a very good gin & tonic.

Before long Olive’s secret is out and turning into something wonderful and new. Only a select few are invited, but word spreads quickly about the weekly meetings of The Gin Shack Club. Soon everybody on the beach wants to become a gin connoisseur and join Olive on her journey to never being forced to grow older than you feel.


The Summer of Second Chances by Maddie Please
It takes time to build your life. To get into a long-term (OK, a bit boring) relationship. To find a job (you don’t completely hate). Lottie might not be thrilled with the life she’s put together, but it’s the one she’s got.

So when in the course of one terrible evening, it all comes crashing down around her, Lottie has a choice: give herself over to grief at being broke, single and completely lacking in prospects.

Or, brick by brick, build herself a new life. And this time, with a little help from friends, a crumbling cottage in Devon and a handsome stranger, maybe she can make it the one she always wanted.

Sunshine After the Rain by Daisy James
Frazzled workaholic Evie Johnson has finally had enough! When she’s blamed for a publicity disaster at the art gallery she loves, she decides to flee the bright lights of London for the sun-drenched shores of Corfu and turn her life upside-down.

Under the shade of the olive trees, she picks up her dusty paintbrushes and begins to chase the dreams she had put aside for so long. But she never expected to bump into drop-dead-gorgeous Sam Bradbury – and certainly not whilst wrapped only in a towel!

A summer fling is the last thing Evie wanted but a few stolen kisses under the stars might just begin to change her mind…

The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara
One summer, property seeker, Serendipity Parker finds herself on the beautiful west coast of Ireland, hunting for a home for a wealthy Irish client. But when she finds the perfect house in the small town of Ballykiltara, there's a problem; nobody seems to know who owns it.

'The Welcome House' is a local legend. Its front door is always open for those in need of shelter, and there's always a plentiful supply of food in the cupboards for the hungry or poor.

While Ren desperately tries to find the owner to see if she can negotiate a sale, she begins to delve deeper into the history and legends that surround the old house and the town. But for a woman who has always been focussed on her work, she's remarkably distracted by Finn, the attractive manager of the local hotel.

But will she ever discover the real truth behind the mysterious 'Welcome House'? Or will the house cast its magical spell over Ren and help her to find true happiness?

The Sunshine and Biscotti Club by Jenny Oliver
The ovens are pre-heating, the Prosecco is chilling…and The Sunshine and Biscotti Club is nearly ready to open its doors.

But the guests have other things on their minds…

Libby: The Blogger
Life is Instagram-perfect for food blogger Libby…until she catches her husband cheating just weeks before her Italian cooking club’s grand opening.

Evie: The Mum
Eve’s marriage isn’t working, but she’s not dared admit it until now. A trip to Italy to help Libby open The Sunshine and Biscotti Club might be the perfect escape…

Jessica: In Love with her Best Friend
Jessica has thrown herself into her work to shut out the memory of the man who never loved her back. The same man who’s just turned up in Tuscany…

Welcome to Tuscany’s newest baking school – where your biscotti is served with a side of love, laughter and ice-cold limoncello!

Monday, 12 June 2017

BLOG TOUR: Q&A with Jill Steeples, author of Summer at the Dog and Duck

Jill Steeples joins us today as part of her blog tour for new novel, Summer at the Dog and Duck. The novel is available from Aria and focuses on Ellie Browne, landlady at the pub in idyllic Little Leyton. Want to know more about Jill and her novels? Then read on!

Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
Cider, sunshine, love and sizzling secrets. It’s all happening at The Dog & Duck this summer!

What inspired you to write Summer at the Dog & Duck?
It’s the second in the series of books base around a cosy fictional pub called The Dog and Duck set in the idyllic English village of Little Leyton. My family are from the East End of London and the local pub was always at the heart of the community.  I’d always been fascinated by the different characters who came together at the pub and wanted to tell some of their stories.

Where do you do most of your writing?
Curled up on my sofa, overlooking the garden, with my dog, Amber, at my side.


What is your favourite book?
This is always such a difficult question because there have been so many I’ve loved, but I always come back to The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien. It’s a beautifully written coming of age story set in rural Ireland.

Which part of  Summer at the Dog & Duck did you enjoy writing the most?
In this book, Max’s younger sister, Katie turns up in the village, full of angst and attitude.  I adored writing her scenes because although she’s clearly troubled, she’s gutsy, funny and has a huge heart.

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
Bridget Jones! Just hearing her name makes me smile.  She is so funny, down-to-earth and, for a whole generation of women, very relatable.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
Join a writing group where you can meet like-minded people.  Writing can be such a lonely business, especially when you’re starting out, that you need to find others who will encourage and support you during the bad times.  I joined a creative writing class and the people I met there gave me the confidence to take my writing seriously.  There are so many great online groups too and societies such as the Romantic Novelist’s Association, which I belong to.

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
I’m currently writing the third in the Dog and Duck series. It’s still early days, buts it’s always very exciting to return to the characters to see what they’re up to.  All I can say at the moment is that it’s going to be a very busy time for Ellie at The Dog and Duck.

Thanks, Jill!

To find out more about Jill Steeples, you can follow her on Twitter, via Facebook, or visit her website. Jill's previous novel, Winter at the Dog & Duck, is available now.

About Jill

Jill Steeples lives in a small market town in Bedfordshire with her husband and two children. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, baking cakes, eating them and drinking wine.

Summer at the Dog & Duck

The perfect summer read. Continuing the light hearted, uplifting dramas around the 'The Dog & Duck' pub and the life of its landlady Ellie Browne.

Ellie Browne  has found happiness running The Dog and Duck pub in the idyllic village of Little Leyton, and her blossoming romance with tall, handsome property developer,  Max Golding, is going swimmingly. With her new best friend,  Digby, the black Labrador at her side, life just couldn't be sweeter.  

But their peace is shattered when  Max's younger sister,  Katy, turns up unannounced with a whole heap of attitude. And  Max's loyalties are stretched further when his glamorous ex,  Sasha, re-appears with her own burgeoning secret.  

With the master of the manor preoccupied with the demands of his 'other women',  Ellie's forced to consider if she has any role to play in  Max's life or in the village of Little Leyton.  

Can Ellie get her life and relationship back on track in time for the summer charity ball at Braithwaite Manor?


UNCOVERED PICKS: Five June Releases

June's here, and with it comes new books! Here's a selection of this month's new releases, including novels from Lilly Bartlett and Rosie Nixon, and well-known beauty vlogger Louise Pentland.

The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square by Lilly Bartlett
Everyone expects great things from Emma Billings, but when her future gets derailed by an unexpected turn of events, she realizes that getting back on track means traveling in a different direction.

She finds that new path in the closed-down pub on Carlton Square. Summoning every ounce of ingenuity, and with the help of her friends and family, she opens the Second Chance Café. The charity training business is meant to keep vulnerable kids off the streets and (hopefully) away from the Metropolitan Police, and her new employees are full of ideas, enthusiasm … and trouble. They'll need as much TLC as the customers they’re serving.

This ragtag group of chancers have to make a go of a business they know nothing about, and they do get some expert help from an Italian who's in love with the espresso machine and a professional sandwich whisperer who reads auras, but not everyone is happy to see the café open. Their milk keeps disappearing and someone is canceling the cake orders, but it's when someone commits bloomicide on all their window boxes that Emma realizes things are serious. Can the café survive when NIMBY neighbors and the rival café owner join forces to close them down? Or will Emma’s dreams fall as flat as the cakes they’re serving?

Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes
Pimm's, punting and ball gowns are de rigeur. Ursula Flowerbutton, a studious country girl, arrives for her first term anticipating nothing more sinister than days spent poring over history books - and, perhaps, an invitation to a ball. But when she discovers a ghastly crime, she is catapulted into a murder investigation.

Determined to unravel the case - and bag her first scoop for the famous student newspaper Cherwell - Ursula enlists the help of her fellow Fresher, the glamorous American Nancy Feingold. While navigating a whirl of black-tie parties and secret dining societies, the girls discover a surfeit of suspects. From broken-hearted boyfriends to snobby Sloanes, lovelorn librarians to dishy dons, none can be presumed innocent.

Clueless meets Agatha Christie in this wickedly funny tale of high society, low morals and a middle-class girl, the first book in Plum Sykes's irresistible new series.

Amber Green Takes Manhattan by Rosie Nixon
Novice stylist Amber Green is taking on the glittering celebrity world of Manhattan one fashion disaster and wardrobe malfunction at a time!

When her TV producer boyfriend Rob announces that he’s been offered a job in New York, filming with the infamous Angel Wear lingerie models, Amber knows its her perfect chance to take the New York fashion world by storm.

But Amber wasn’t counting on unruly toddler photo shoots, clandestine designer handbag scams and a Hollywood star who is determined to wear as little as possible on the red carpet. Until she meets a disgraced former designer who could turn her career around…or leave it all in tatters.

The Brazilian by Rosie Millard
Following a sensational scandal at one of London's most desired postcodes, Jane and Patrick decide to escape the gossip with a family holiday to Ibiza, their eight-year-old son George in tow.

Also on the island that week is a TV reality show involving an eccentric artist, a horny It Girl, a Brazilian footballer and a famous magician.

As hapless celebrities are picked off one by one, Jane is desperate to be on the programme, leaving childcare in the not so capable hands of a teenager.

One lesbian escapade and an explosive row over hair removal later, the contestants of Ibiza or Bust leave the island with more than sand in places they never knew existed...

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland
Single mum Robin Wilde adores her six-year-old daughter and loves her job as a make up artist's assistant. She has a wonderful best friend and an auntie who is bonkers, yes, but loves her to the moon and back. 

But Robin has a secret. Behind the mask she carefully applies every day, things just feel ... grey. And lonely. She struggles to fit in with the school mum crew. Online dating is totally despair-inducing, and she worries every day about raising her little girl with self-confidence, courage and joy.

What Robin longs for is someone (over the age of six) to share with - someone who's always on her team. 

After 4 years (2 months, and 15 days!) of single-mum-dom, it's time for Robin Wilde to Change. Her. Life. 

Exciting new opportunities are about to come Robin's way ... Perhaps a man, perhaps the chance of a lifetime...

What will Robin do with the possibilities she creates for herself? And what potential will she unlock if she takes the leap?

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong by Gina Kirkham

I was looking through Netgalley when this novel caught my eye, and I had to request it just because of the cover. I love funny books, and this looked brilliant. There's a new heroine in town - Constable Mavis Upton - who takes us through her life and career as a police officer in Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong, the wonderful debut by former police officer Gina Kirkham.

Mavis is a young, single mum, and whilst out with her daughter one afternoon, suddenly has an epiphany. Mavis decides there and then that she wants to become a police officer. After filling out the forms, with the help of her hilarious mum, Mavis awaits her fate - and when she gets into the training program, can't believe what she's let herself in for. But she's determined, and as she embarks on the long, rigorous police training course, hilarious moments ensue.

And that's before she steps into the role. As Mavis navigates through the trials that await every new police officer - including some funny mishaps and initiations! - she tries not to let her guard down. But that's almost impossible for Mavis, who is partial to hilarious exploits, and constantly finds herself in embarrassing situations.

As the book goes on, Mavis works her way up through the ranks and years, taking on jobs that range from the downright silly to the highly emotional. Her daughter Ella is getting older, and after a few funny brushes with romance, Mavis finally finds a man that seems perfect for her. With her adoring Mum at her side, it seems as though life is going swimmingly. But then trouble unexpectedly hits their small, close family, and Mavis has to be stronger and braver than ever before.

This book has to be one of the best novels I have read so far. Yes, it's hilarious. In fact, it's so funny that I was giggling out loud numerous times whilst reading this. At 10% through this book it was already the funniest I had read this year. Gina Kirkham's humour is, in my opinion, the best kind; witty, a bit sarcastic, the ability to find the fun in every situation.

Mavis is such a great character. Not only is she someone you'd want to be around for the laughs, but she is strong, determined, and brave. I got that impression of her right away. She is ambitious, holding onto her dream, and even when things often went wrong in police training, Mavis laughed at herself and carried on. (Sorry. Have I mentioned JUST HOW MUCH I LOVE MAVIS?)

As an officer, Mavis is exposed to the funny side (there are plenty of hilarious stories involving thongs, blow-up dolls, drug raids...) and of course, the harrowing, emotional side to the job. As someone who has always secretly dreamed of being a police officer, I loved these chapters, and loved how Mavis reacted and grew as a character throughout her years in the police force. The book follows Mavis over a number of years, from trainee to experienced officer.

And then, the crying happened. I don't want to post spoilers, but there is a part of this book that is truly heartbreaking. It upset me as I read, as it is something that many people will have to go through, but Mavis remained positive throughout. I couldn't help but love her even more.

I find it hard to believe that this is a debut novel; Gina Kirkham is a fantastic writer. Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong may come across as a comedy, and it is - but it's so much more than that. This novel made me genuinely laugh and cry. It's a beautifully positive, uplifting tale full of emotion, warmth and humour, of an everyday woman who wants the best for herself and her family - and refuses to let anything - especially big knickers! - get in her way.

Rating: 5/5

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

Monday, 22 May 2017

UNCOVERED PICKS: Five debut novels to read this summer!

Coming across debut authors is always fun and exciting, especially when you find a writer whose work you really connect with and you just can't wait for their next book. 2017 is seeing quite a lot of fab-looking debuts, and so here's a selection of five to look out for in May and June.

The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land by Isabella Davidson (Released in June)
When Sophie Bennett moves from a quiet sleepy suburb of Toronto to glitzy west London, she doesn’t know where she has landed: Venus or Mars. Her three-year-old daughter Kaya attends Cherry Blossoms, the most exclusive nursery in London, where Sophie finds herself adrift in a sea of Alpha Mums. These mothers are glamorous, gorgeous, competitive and super rich, especially Kelly, the blonde, beautiful and bitchy class rep. 

Struggling to fit in and feeling increasingly isolated, Sophie starts The Beta Mum, an anonymous blog describing her struggles with the Alpha Mums. But when her blog goes viral, she risks ruining everything for herself and her daughter. How long will it be until they discover her true identity? Is her marriage strong enough to survive one of her follower’s advances? And will she ever fit in with the Alpha Mums?

Girl In Between by Anna Daniels (Released in May)
Lucy Crighton has just moved in with some gregarious housemates called Brian and Denise ...who are her parents. She’s also the proud mother of Glenda, her beloved 10-year-old...kelpie. And she has absolutely no interest in the dashing son of her parents’ new next-door neighbour...well, maybe just a little...

As the girl in between relationships, careers and cities, Lucy is facing some awkward truths – like her mum’s obsession with Cher, her father’s unsolicited advice, and the probability there’s more cash on the floor of her parents’ car than in her own bank account.

Thank goodness for Lucy’s crazy-but-wonderful best friend, Rosie, who’s around to cushion reality with wild nights at the local Whipcrack Hotel, escapades in Japanese mud baths, and double dating under the Christmas lights in London. 

But will Lucy work out what she really wants to do in life – and who she wants to share it with 
Girl in Between is a warm, funny, charmingly Australian story about life at the crossroads. Featuring an endearing and irrepressible cast of characters, it will have you chuckling from start to finish.

Hot Mess by Lucy Vine (Released in May)
Hot Mess [n.] - someone attractive, who is often in disarray.

Ellie Knight is just like you. Her life isn't turning out the way she thought it would. Some people might say she's a hot mess but then who really has their s**t together anyway?

It's Valentine's Day and Ellie finds herself eating Nutella in the bar stockroom after a no-show date.
But single doesn't have to be the loneliest number, does it?

She goes back home to her flatshare and weird flatmates.

It's ok there's black mould everywhere, right?

With a hangover from hell, she goes to the office job she thought she would have quit by now.
Doesn't everyone hate their job?

Maybe Ellie isn't following the *official life plan* but perfect is overrated. For fans of Fleabag and Girls, this is a fresh and funny coming-of-age story with a single-girl heroine that everyone will relate to - a modern Carrie Bradshaw meets Bridget Jones.

Love in Row 27 by Eithne Shortall (Released in June)
What happens when Cupid plays co-pilot?

Still reeling from a break-up, Cora Hendricks has given up on ever finding love. For herself, that is. To pass the time while working the Aer Lingus check-in desk at Heathrow, Cora begins to play cupid with high-flying singles.

Using only her intuition, the internet, and glamorous flight attendant accomplice Nancy, Row 27 becomes Cora's laboratory of love. Instead of being seated randomly, two unwitting passengers on each flight find themselves next to the person of their dreams - or not.

Cora swears Row 27 is just a bit of fun, but while she's busy making sparks fly at cruising altitude, the love she'd given up on for herself just might have landed right in front of her...

Mr Right-Swipe by Ricki Schultz (Released in June)
Rae Wallace would rather drown in a vat of pinot greezh and be eaten by her own beagle than make another trip down the aisle--even if it is her best friend's wedding. She's too busy molding the minds of first graders and polishing that ol' novel in the drawer to waste time on any man, unless it's Jason Segel.

But when her be-fris stage an intervention, Rae is forced to give in. After all, they've hatched a plan to help her find love the 21st century way: online. She's skeptical of this electronic chlamydia catcher, but she's out to prove she hasn't been too picky with men.

However, when a familiar fella's profile pops up--the dangerously hot substitute teacher from work (Nick)--Rae swipes herself right into a new problem...

Saturday, 20 May 2017

GUEST POST: 10 Things You Need to Know about Isabella Davidson

Isabella Davidson’s debut novel, The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha-Land, published by Silverwood Press, is coming out on June 20th 2017! It's a fun tale of a Toronto mum who finds herself among London's elite mummy crowd...

When Sophie Bennett moves from a quiet, sleepy suburb of Toronto to glitzy west London, she doesn’t know where she has landed: Venus or Mars. Her three-year-old daughter Kaya attends Cherry Blossoms, the most exclusive nursery in London, where Sophie finds herself adrift in a sea of Alpha mums. These mothers are glamorous, gorgeous, competitive and super rich, especially Kelly, the blonde, beautiful and bitchy class rep.  

Struggling to fit in and feeling increasingly isolated, Sophie starts The Beta Mum, an anonymous blog describing her struggles with the Alpha mums. But when her blog goes viral, she risks ruining everything for herself and her daughter. How long will it be until they discover her true identity? Is her marriage strong enough  to survive one of her follower’s advances? And will she ever fit in with the Alpha mums?

Isabella is a former doctor who decided to write The Beta Mum after the success of her blog. Want to know more? Well, here Isabella shares ten things about her and her debut novel...

10 Things You Need To Know About Me And My Book: 
  1. As cliché as it is, I’ve always wanted to write a book. The first time I realized it was when I was 10 years old and my English teacher read one of my short stories about a witch and said ‘maybe one day you’ll become a writer.’
  2. I was better at Biology than English in school, so I became a doctor instead! But the dream was always there and after I stopped working as a doctor to raise my children, I started a humorous blog about living in west London, www.nottinghillyummymummy.com Through the blog, I was asked to write a feature for The Saturday Times newspaper and thought that perhaps I had enough talent to write a book. Rightly or wrongly! 
  3. It took me two years to write the book but before then I had started about ten books without ever finishing them. No one told me quite how hard it was to write a book! The best thing I did to help me finish writing my book was to go on the Faber Academy Novel Writing Course. It helped with my motivation and provided so much support and feedback. 
  4. Like they always say ‘write about what you know’ so that’s what I did. I am a mum living in west London, so that’s what I wrote about. I hear so many funny and interesting stories all the time and think ‘Oooh, I need to put that in my book!’ That’s where I get my inspiration from. From everyday conversations and events. 
  5. The book is entirely fictional but based on some true events and experiences I have had or stories I have heard. The characters are all fictional and I am not the main character Sophie and the bitchy mum Kelly does not exist either. I did go to a play date once when the housekeeper thought I was there for an interview and started asking me questions about my childcare experience. It was rather mortifying! 
  6. Not all west London mums are awful. I live in west London and I love it. Most of my friends are west London mums too, so there are plenty of lovely mums here. But no one wants to read about boring, nice, mums who are nice to everybody. There would not be a story. But there are so many interesting characters who live in and out of west London, it’s fascinating. 
  7. I loved writing the bitchy mum’s character, Kelly. She is so awful and yet, I have heard people speaking like her in real life and I think that we should all be kinder to each other. So the moral of my story is: be kinder to each other.
  8. It is not a serious book; it is meant to be entertaining, funny and a light, summer read. Anyone who is offended by it is taking it way too seriously. I hope my readers have fun with it and enjoy it! 
  9. Writing is full of obstacles: the writing bit, then the getting-published bit and then the selling-and-marketing bit. It is a hard, long road! And I am still working on all three…
  10. To any aspiring writers: my tutor once told me that it isn’t about how much talent you have, it’s about tenacity. Sitting down every day on that chair to write, word after word, and then throwing your first draft away and re-writing the book, and then editing, editing, editing. It’s not for the faint-hearted! But I am so proud that I finished it and that I am now able to share it with the world. And I hope everyone enjoys it!

Check out Isabella Davidson's blog, Notting Hill Yummy Mummy, and sign up for news! You can also take part a Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win a copy of The Beta Mum  -Adventures in Alpha-Land.

Friday, 19 May 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Mr Make Believe by Beezy Marsh

I was excited to hear about Mr Make Believe, the newly-released novel from journalist Beezy Marsh (who took part in the Q&A recently!). I've been on the lookout for some funny reads over the past few weeks and this one was just perfect.

Marnie Martin, formerly an ambitious, hard-hitting journalist, is now a stay-at-home mum and food columnist whilst husband Matt, a successful barrister, is at work. However, when Marnie - who probably isn't the best person to be in charge of a food column - loses her job due to a paté fiasco - she feels as though she's hit rock bottom.

With Matt being out all hours, and going to events with his hot protegee, Marnie has turned her attention to Maddox Wolfe, gorgeous movie star and object of her desires, and finds herself glued to his movies at every opportunity. With Matt away and having nobody else to vent to, Marnie begins an anonymous blog, on which she writes about her life as a stay-at-home mum and her love for the super-hot Maddox...

Little does she know, the blog is about to take off, landing her the role of Mrs Make Believe, columnist and spokeswoman for mums everywhere. But when fame takes hold, Marnie's life begins to get that little bit out of control. And when she releases a bit of gossip about Maddox, she doesn't expect him to turn up at her office, let alone take her out for dinner.

As Marnie's marriage is slowly beginning to fall apart, her life as Mrs Make Believe is starting to take over. Sure, she may be famous - and not to mention close to her one-time crush, Maddox - but is it making her happy? When her mistakes are suddenly broadcast to the entire world, Marnie's new celeb alter-ego, Mrs Make Believe, is also at risk of crumbling.

This book is a fantastic read, one I struggled to put down. The plot is...well, to be honest, it's a bit outrageous. And that's exactly why I loved it. As Marnie goes from stay at home mum to celebrity, her life becomes a whirlwind, complete with celebrity romance, and it was very hard to stop reading. Nothing about this book was predictable.

The only issue I had with this book was Marnie's attitude towards Matt; I did feel that she overreacted a lot, and I did sympathise with him in quite a few places. For example, her anger at him having watched porn (even though she openly fantastises about Maddox whilst watching his movies), her reaction to him not wanting another child, even though he gave good reason as to why he thought it was a bad idea. I got the feeling that Matt was deliberately painted as a villain for these things, and I just couldn't see it.

That said, Marnie does change throughout this novel. And aside from the above, it is a fab read. It's witty, funny, romantic and with a wonderfully wild plot about the reality of love. I do hope that Beezy Marsh writes more like this, because Mr Make Believe is a brilliant novel.

Rating: 5/5

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

Thursday, 18 May 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: The Temp by Serena Mackesy

It's time for another Throwback Thursday at Uncovered, and this time, I've chosen yet another favourite from years ago; one that still resides on my bookshelf. The Temp by Serena Mackesy was published in 1999 (although I read it in around 2006!) and is a hilarious tale of twenty-something life.

We all know how it works: first you go to School, then you go to University, and then you enter Real Life. And that's the important bit. Real Life is about achievement, recognition, choices. It's about a boss who trusts you, a wardrobe that suits you, friends who support you and a relationship that fulfils you. It`s a mobile phone, an expense account, a company car and a place to park it. Happily Ever After.

Unforunately, Real Life isn't working that way for The Temp. She's managed the university bit, but the job, the dough and the happily-ever-after seem harder than anybody ever told her. Living in Stockwell while she moves through a series of jobs ranging from the horrifying mindless to the bemusingly witless to the simply extraordinary, she realises that something isn't right.

Who cares about a boss who trusts you? She'd settle for a boss who knows her name. This can't be Real Life, can it?

The Temp was originally a column, and later published as a novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that it remains one of my favourites to this day, and I still dip in and out of it now and again.

Despite the era of the book, it's still pretty relatable for anyone who has worked in an office, and for any twenty-somethings caught in the space between university and Real Life.

What are YOUR all-time favourite chick-lit novels? Let us know!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

BOOK NEWS: Love in Row 27 by Eithne Shortall

Love in Row 27 is the debut novel from Irish author Eithne Shortall, in which newly-single Cora decides to play matchmaker, using row 27 as the perfect venue for a date for unknowing passengers. The novel will be released in June.

What happens when Cupid plays co-pilot?

Still reeling from a break-up, Cora Hendricks has given up on ever finding love. For herself, that is. To pass the time while working the Aer Lingus check-in desk at Heathrow, Cora begins to play cupid with high-flying singles.

Using only her intuition, the internet, and glamorous flight attendant accomplice Nancy, Row 27 becomes Cora's laboratory of love. Instead of being seated randomly, two unwitting passengers on each flight find themselves next to the person of their dreams - or not.

Cora swears Row 27 is just a bit of fun, but while she's busy making sparks fly at cruising altitude, the love she'd given up on for herself just might have landed right in front of her...


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Don't Stop Me Now by Colleen Coleman

Don't Stop Me Now is the debut novel from Colleen Coleman -  a book I'd been excited about for quite some time. It's always fun to discover new authors, and the new novel from Colleen - who scooped the Novelicious Undiscovered People's Choice Award - has been one to watch.

Poppy Bloom - well, Doctor Poppy Bloom, now that she has just obtained her PhD in Psychology - has life planned out. With big dreams of life in academia, Poppy is set on gaining a fellowship at prestigious Banbridge University, a feat she has worked incredibly hard for ten years to achieve, along with her handsome boyfriend Gregory.

However, life doesn't always go as planned - and Poppy's dreams are quashed on graduation day when she doesn't get the top spot. And to make it worse, she's dumped by Gregory.

Poppy has no choice but to head back home to her parents' house, unemployed and with no  backup plan. Faced with the prospect of a future vastly different from the one she envisioned, Poppy takes each day as it comes, gradually breaking free from her moping and reconnecting with old friends. When she runs into old schoolfriend Leanne, she finds herself accepting some much-deserved social time. And not to mention meeting up with Leanne's lovely brother Tom...

When a radio phone-in makes Poppy irate, her response causes a host of comments and feedback from the public, leading Poppy to an internship offer. Soon, she's a radio agony aunt, with new friends - and she even finds herself joining a netball team. It may not be the dream she'd prepped herself for, but Poppy soon realises that things don't have to go as planned to be perfect.

Don't Stop Me Now is an inspiring, feel-good read that I'd personally recommend to anyone who has wondered about their chosen life path. (And let's face it, that's a lot of us!)

At first, I really didn't like Poppy; she came across as quite rude and superior, especially to her mother, who seemed to only want to help. I almost put the book down because I really disliked her, though Colleen's wonderfully witty writing style kept me reading. However, her attitude changed throughout the book, and I did start to like her more, and was extremely glad I gave her a chance. Her attitude quickly diminished, revealing a determined, smart and headstrong character who pushed on through, even when her life was turned upside down in the space of one day. Poppy took it all in her stride, and ended up with a whole new life adventure.

Don't Stop Me Now is a promising debut. Colleen Coleman is a highly talented writer and I look forward to her future books.

Rating: 4/5

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

Monday, 15 May 2017

UNCOVERED PICKS: Sunny Summer Reads (part one!)

Summer is almost here! And what better way to spend it than with some lovely sunny reads? Whether you'll be enjoying the nice weather at home this summer or jetting off abroad, here's our pick of some upcoming reads to take with you - or to just get you in that holiday mood!

Vegas, Greece, Spain; just some of the places you can escape to along with some fun-loving heroines and plenty of romance. Oh, and this is just part one. The second part of the summer selection will be posted in a couple of weeks. So...anyone for a cocktail?

Single for the Summer by Mandy Baggot
Tess Parks has made up her mind: love isn’t for her.

When it comes to dating she has one rule: after six weeks with a guy, she ends it. So when her heartbroken best friend invites her for a girly getaway in Corfu, Tess is sure she can stick to their pact to stay single for the summer. 

But then she meets the gorgeous restaurateur Andras... 

To keep his overbearing mother off his back, Tess agrees to pretend to date him. But as the two spend time together, Tess begins to realise that this fake relationship is starting to feel like the best one she’s ever had...

Chasing the Sun by Katy Colins
Georgia Green is on the conveyor belt to happiness.

Live-in boyfriend, perfect career and great friends, it seems like Georgia is only a Tiffany box away from her happily ever after. But when she arrives in Australia for her best friend’s wedding and is faced with the bridezilla from hell, she starts to realise that she might not want the cookie-cutter ending she thought.

What was meant to be a trip full of sunny days at the beach and wedding planning over cocktails, has turned into another problem for her to fix – just like the ones she’d left behind. With hardly any time for her boyfriend, let alone herself, it feels like there is just too much to juggle. It might be time for Georgia to step off the conveyor belt to find the balance in life and see if she really can have it all…

The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach by Kat French
A Greek island solves all life’s problems…doesn’t it?

Winnie, Stella and Frankie have been best friends forever.

When their lives unexpectedly unravel, they spontaneously decide to buy a gorgeous B&B on a remote Greek island. Drenched in hot sun, Villa Valentina is the perfect escape from reality. But when Winnie meets Jesse, their brooding neighbour, she finds that Greece is full of its own complications – not least how attractive he is...

Meanwhile, Frankie and Stella are discovering that Villa Valentina has its own secrets – starting with the large supply of gin in the cellar and the arrival of a famous rock band. A band with one very good-looking member who just might distract Frankie from thoughts of her husband...

The Accidental Honeymoon by Portia Macintosh
When Georgie discovers that her fiancé has been cheating on her, only a few days before her cousin’s wedding, her whole world explodes. Facing a romantic trip to Vegas alone, she decides to go out and have some fun...

...but Georgie never expected to wake up wed! And even worse, she can’t remember who to. So when gorgeous Jack reveals himself as her husband, she can’t believe her luck – he’ll act as the perfect wedding date!

Even if it is their very accidental honeymoon, surely the newlyweds can keep their emotions in check for just a few days more?

The Summer House by the Sea by Jenny Oliver
Every Summer has its own story...

For Ava Fisher, the backdrop to all her sun-drenched memories – from her first taste of chocolate-dipped churros to her very first kiss – is her grandmother’s Summerhouse in the sleepy Spanish seaside town of Mariposa.

Returning for one last summer, Ava throws herself into a project her grandmother would be proud of. Café Estrella - once the heart of the sleepy seaside village - now feels more ramshackle than rustic. Just like Ava, it seems it has lost its sparkle.

Away from the exhausting juggle of London life, Ava realises somehow her life has stopped being…happy. But being back at the Summerhouse by the sea could be the new beginning she didn’t even realise she needed...

Ella's Ice Cream Summer by Sue Watson
Ella’s life just hit rock-bottom, but can a summer by the sea mend her broken heart? When life gives you lemons… make ice-cream!

Life hasn’t always been easy for single mum Ella, but she has just hit an all-time low; she’s jobless, loveless, very nearly homeless and, to make matters worse, now the owner of a pocket-sized pooch with a better wardrobe than her.

Packing her bags (and a bigger one for the dog), Ella sets off for the seaside town of Appledore in Devon to re-live the magical summers of her youth and claim her portion of the family ice-cream business: a clapped-out ice-cream van and a complicated mess of secrets.

There she meets gorgeous and free-spirited solicitor, Ben, who sees things differently: with a little bit of TLC he has a plan to get the van – and Ella – back up and running in no time.

Friday, 12 May 2017

UNCOVERED INTERVIEWS: Sherill Turner

Sherill Turner is a New York-based actress and author who has just released her debut novel Him Downstairs - a romantic comedy in which Lucy has to get over boyfriend Tom - but it's not easy when he lives in the flat below! Sherill joins us this week for the Q&A, to tell us more about the novel, her writing life and projects.

Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
Him Downstairs is about the hilarity and heartbreak of navigating modern-day life and love.

What inspired you to write Him Downstairs?
Some hilariously disastrous dates! I also wanted to explore how dating in our 30s is different these days. So many people are separated or divorced now, have children to consider, are balancing one or two mortgages – there are so many other factors that contribute to if a relationship works.

Where do you do most of your writing?
Coffee shops are great (especially if there’s cake!). Libraries are my favourite. I moved to New York last year and am obsessed with the gorgeous Stephen A. Schwarzman library. I always say this, but the reading rooms are like a Harry Potter set!

What is your favourite book?
To Kill a Mockingbird. I read it in school and although I’d always loved reading as a child, this was the first book that made me realize how a story can take you to a totally different place, but you still recognize yourself in the people there.

Which part of Him Downstairs did you enjoy writing the most?
I think the Singles Night episode. I had so much fun with Lucy’s friendship with Caz and Becs and taking them on a girls’ night out was a blast to write! Plus, I did actually go on this "interesting" dating experience!

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
Oh, do I have to pick just one? Moll Flanders – what a resourceful woman and a riot to read! Elizabeth Bennet, of course! She’s so fabulous and flawed, which makes her more relatable.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
Him Downstairs is my first novel and I deliberated for a long time before self-publishing it. I’m glad I waited because I got to keep making it better. Am also glad to have published the eBook version myself, it’s very empowering. We need stories that are entertaining, that are relatable and inspiring more than ever, so whether you go the traditional publishing route or self-publish, your work has value.

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
I’ve just written a couple of comedy sketches for a friend who is putting together a TV anthology show.  I'm in the editing process for a short film. It’s a comedy that I co-wrote and produced with a partner in the U.K. and is my film directing debut. Am also narrating the audiobook of Him Downstairs and wondering why on earth I made one of the characters Welsh! It’s a wonderfully creative and busy time and I'm consuming a lot of tea and cake!

Thanks, Sherill!

You can find out more about Sherill Turner and her books at her website, or by following her on Twitter.

Him Downstairs by Sherill Turner

How do you get over someone who lives under you?

Life for Lucy Jenkins is going OK … ish. Yes, she’s thirty-three, single, and has had to work as a waitress and children’s party entertainer since her social worker salary suffered from budget cuts, but she stays positive and manages to pay the mortgage on her flat. Her home is her sanctuary – until Tom moves in downstairs. Lucy and Tom quickly fall in love and into a serious relationship, which is complicated by Tom’s recent separation from his wife, who he has two young sons with.

Lucy is heartbroken when Tom breaks up with her, saying that something has to give in his busy life. Encouraged/coerced/badgered by her friends into getting ‘back on that horse’, Lucy finds herself at a tacky Singles Night; dating Danny, a Justin Timberlake impersonator; and attempting a rendezvous with her ‘special friend’. Lucy’s quest to move on from Tom would be a whole lot easier if she didn’t have to hear everything he does.

After all, how on earth do you get over someone when you can hear them peeing?

Thursday, 11 May 2017

BOOK REVIEW: On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

On the Other Side is the recently-released novel by Carrie Hope Fletcher, author of All I Know Now. I've recently discovered that she's also a well-known vlogger. I didn't know this before I read the novel, but I am a huge fan of paranormal/magical realism, which is what attracted me to On the Other Side.

When Evie Snow passes away at eighty-two, she finds herself outside of the apartment she lived in during her late twenties. In fact, she's now twenty-seven again, and faced with a door that refuses to open. A door, she's told, that will lead to her own private heaven. She learns that to enter, her soul needs to be light enough, and so she has to lose the weight of the secrets she's kept throughout her entire life. So she sets out, as a spirit, to unburden herself of the secrets, and pass messages to those who require it.

Evie has to venture back through her life and loves in order to finally pass through to the afterlife. Which means revisiting those she has loved - and lost. As a woman born into a very wealthy family, Evie's mother had hopes of her daughter marrying the son of their equally rich friends - a son who has always loved Evie, but who Evie has never loved back, only as a friend.

Evie had liked to make choices of her own, and had made a deal with her mother: that if she does not find a good job in an animation studio - her dream - within one year, then she will follow her mother's plan to marry James. However, Evie doesn't envision falling for a handsome, lovely busker from the poorer side of town. As Evie navigates her way through the afterlife, she must finally give up the secrets, and reveal the love story of her entire life before she can move on to the next one.

On the Other Side is a very romantic tale; romantic in a magical kind of way. Less of a sugary love story and more like a fairytale, which I personally loved. However, there were some issues with this book that prevented me from giving it a higher rating.

First of all, the time period of this novel was not specified; Evie died at eighty-two, yet the world she lived in during her twenties seemed no different to the modern day, besides certain things, such as her workplace, which was described as being inhabited by seedy men who would think nothing of slapping a woman on the backside. The relationship with her family and the idea of an arranged marriage led me to assume that the novel was set some fifty or more years ago (possibly even the 1930s), which would ring true, however other aspects in the book seemed more modern, such as fashion, and references to sexuality which seemed to be widely accepted, even though, back then, it would not have been so simple.

This became confusing, not to mention grating, leaving me wondering whether this was deliberate, as it is in some books. However, it was so unclear that instead it just seemed less deliberate, and more likely that the author simply didn't do her research.

Which leads me to the second issue: Evie's mother. Given Evie's desire to be independent, to leave her home with its maid and cook and butler and live in her own apartment, I found it hard to believe that such a supposedly strong-minded woman in her late twenties would still go along with her mother's plan in the first place. Why did she not refuse, early on? If her love was so strong, why did she not be honest with her mother and simply refuse to marry?

These problems did spoil the book for me quite a bit, as they distracted from what would have been a warm, emotional love story. And it was - it wasn't predictable, and the revelation of Evie's secrets and kept me reading until the end. If you can ignore the problems with some of the novel, it's a sweet, modern fairytale.

Rating: 2/5

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

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

BOOK NEWS: Take part in the virtual launch for Bridges by Maria Murnane

Bridges by Maria Murnane - the bestselling author of the Waverly Bryson series - is out next month, and fans are celebrating with a virtual launch! Join in with the launch on May 15 here.

Bridges: A Daphne White Novel

It’s a piece of news Daphne never expected to hear: Her globe-trotting friend Skylar, who vowed never to get married, is engaged! Time to celebrate in Manhattan—Skylar’s treat, of course. After years scaling the corporate ladder, she can more than afford it. 

Daphne arrives in NYC with news of her own—the novel she’s finally finished appears to be going nowhere but the trash bin of every publishing house around. She’s devastated but plans to keep her disappointment under wraps, something that becomes trickier when she sees Skylar’s spectacular apartment. Could her life have been like this if she’d chosen a different path? 

What Daphne doesn’t know is she’s not the only one with a secret. Skylar and their friend KC are also holding something back, but what? As the trip unfolds, the truth about each woman emerges, along with tears. 

And laughter. And love. 

The fun-loving trio readers fell for in Wait for the Rain is together once more. Here's to the power of friendship!

COMING SOON: Flora's War by Audrey Reimann

Flora's War by historical fiction author Audrey Reimann is due for release on May 18th. In the novel, orphan Flora heads to the wealthy family of the sailor she loves to find help for her and her baby...

Dare she risk her reputation?

When the orphaned Flora MacDonald escapes from a harsh reform school she falls - literally - into the arms of Andrew Stewart, a handsome sailor on shore leave. But their blossoming love is interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War.

With Andrew away fighting, Flora finds herself in an impossible situation: alone and pregnant. Out of desperation, she travels to Andrew's country estate, but she doesn't know how kindly his well-to-do family will welcome her in. Will she find a home where she can raise a child?

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

BOOK NEWS: Something Like Happy by Eva Woods

Something Like Happy is the new novel from Eva Woods (author of The Ex Factor and The Thirty List). Released in September, the novel is inspired by the popular #100HappyDays social media phenomenon.

"It's simple, really. You're just meant to do one thing every day that makes you happy. Could be little things. Could be big. In fact, we're doing one right now..."

Annie Hebden is stuck. Stuck in her boring job, with her irritating roommate, in a life no thirty-five-year-old would want. But deep down, Annie is still mourning the terrible loss that tore a hole through the perfect existence she'd once taken for granted--and hiding away is safer than remembering what used to be. Until she meets the eccentric Polly Leonard.

Bright, bubbly, intrusive Polly is everything Annie doesn't want in a friend. But Polly is determined to finally wake Annie up to life. Because if recent events have taught Polly anything, it's that your time is too short to waste a single day--which is why she wants Annie to join her on a mission...

One hundred days. One hundred new ways to be happy. Annie's convinced it's impossible, but so is saying no to Polly. And on an unforgettable journey that will force her to open herself to new experiences--and perhaps even new love with the unlikeliest of men--Annie will slowly begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, there's still joy to be found in the world. But then it becomes clear that Polly's about to need her new friend more than ever...and Annie will have to decide once and for all whether letting others in is a risk worth taking.

Monday, 8 May 2017

BOOK REVIEW: There's Something About Cornwall by Daisy James

There's Something About Cornwall is the latest book by Daisy James, author of If The Dress Fits and The Runaway Bridesmaid. With the summer swiftly approaching, I was looking for a novel to get me in that sunny kind of mood, and this one is just perfect.

When food photographer Emilie loses out on an all-expenses paid assignment to Venice (to none other than awful ex-boyfriend Brad), she soon finds herself landed with another opportunity - to shoot the photos for celebrity chef Lucinda Carlton-Rose as she travels around Cornwall for her latest book, Lucinda Loves...Desserts. At first, Emilie's apprehensive about the whole thing, especially as Lucinda is a well-known cookery diva referred to as the Devil in an apron. But when Emilie's more optimistic best pal Alice persuades her, there's no backing out.

After all, it's a trip around Cornwall, photographing gorgeous food, sampling delicious cakes, checking out some local delights, and meeting some of the coast's rather nice surfers...

Emilie and Alice set off together, hiring a bright orange VW camper as their vehicle-slash-hotel. But on day one of the shoot, disaster occurs, making Emilie doubt herself and her decision to take the trip. However, she soon meets Matt, a surfer from Northumberland who might just be the distraction Emilie needs.

When shoot organiser Alice is injured and forced to head back home, it's up to Emilie to take charge. She's never organised a shoot before, and the overbearing Lucinda could make her new mission the most challenging yet. Having already lost confidence in her abilities due to Brad, the Lucinda Loves shoot will make Emilie prove her worth. But on the plus side, there's Matt, who has agreed to be her driver for the rest of the tour.

There's Something About Cornwall is a lovely, feel-good book packed with romance, adventure, ambition and laughs. It's a wonderful summer ride through the Cornish coast, and with plenty of sweet desserts and drink too! I liked Emily from the beginning, and enjoyed seeing her grow as a character throughout the book, from self-doubts caused by her ex's emotional bullying to  a more confident, ambitious woman and friend. I don't want to go into too much here for fear of spoilers, but this is a wonderful story. If you're looking to get whisked away to sample the delights of Cornwall, this is the perfect read.

Rating: 5/5

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

Friday, 5 May 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Inheritance by Angie Coleman

The Inheritance is the new novel by Angie Coleman, published by Aria. I'll start by saying I'm not normally one for primarily romance-focused novels, but the premise of this one pulled me in.

Ashley Morgan has her life already planned out after graduation. She'll return to the family home and take the reins of the family business. However, things don't seem to go her way. Instead, her father hands over the management of Morgan & Hall to his protegee, Jamie Standley. Upset, Ashley storms out, tearing up a gift from her father in the process.

Three years later, after her father's death, Ashley is forced to return to the family home for the reading of his will. There, it's revealed that both Jamie and Ashley will receive a share in the business. That is, under one condition...that the pair work and live together for a year.

Faced with the prospect of losing to Jamie, Ashley reluctantly agrees. Even though it means she'll be forced to live under tha same roof as Jamie, the man who effectively ruined her future, for an entire year...

Ashley is convinced that Jamie has always had other motives. That he cannot be trusted. And now she's going to get her own back. If, of course, she can manage to ignore Jamie's charm...

Okay, so the plot of The Inheritance is rather exciting. Guy takes over girl's dream, girl gets angry, they're forced to live together, she vows to get revenge. Even though the romantic aspect sounded (and was) entirely predictable, the rest of the premise was what interested me. However, I felt a bit let down by this book.

The main issue? Ashley. Ashley comes across as a spoiled, immature teenager throughout this novel, constantly throwing tantrums. At the beginning of the novel I was starting to warm to her, until she tore up her father's gift and stomped out. Whilst cohabiting with Jamie, she is incredibly stubborn and often quite nasty. I was expecting more from the 'revenge' aspect of this book, but instead, all I seemed to read was Ashley throwing another tantrum, or doing something incredibly childish. (For example, texting Jamie's staff and arranging for the lab to be closed for three days, thus risking lack of pay for the employees and risking missing an important deadline.) And why?

Because Jamie dared to sleep on her favourite sofa.

Due to this, halfway through the book I could see her father's point. And Jamie's, for that matter. I wouldn't trust Ashley to run a business either. So I found it hard to sympathise with her.

She came across as friendly to Jamie one minute, mean the next, constantly holding a grudge even when he was trying to be friendly. Thus, there were quite a few arguments throughout the novel that really weren't needed. I could have forgiven this had the characters been teenagers, but they were not. Ashley is a twenty-four-year-old woman, but acts like a spoilt thirteen-year-old. Her behaviour was a huge distraction from the plot, which I felt had a lot more potential.

That said, this is my own personal opinion, and other readers could think differently. (And like I mentioned before, I'm not a huge reader of romance). Angie Coleman has a nice writing style, and I'd love to read more from her in future. I certainly wouldn't let this one put me off reading her future novels, but this particular book just wasn't for me.

Rating:  3/5

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

Thursday, 4 May 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: The Second Assistant by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare

Whilst going through some of my older books the other day, trying to find room for them on a new bookshelf, I came across some of the chick-lit reads I had loved years ago. I've been reading and reviewing women's fiction for quite some time, and in that time various trends have emerged and changed, making way for new stories, new heroines, and a whole host of new authors.

There are still a lot of older books I love; some I've read more than once. So I thought it'd be fun to start a new 'Throwback Thursday' here on the blog to revisit some older chick-lit novels. They don't necessarily have to be that old - just books that will remain on the list of favourites, or are significant in some way.

I'll kick things off this week with The Second Assistant by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare. Okay, so this novel isn't a favourite as such, but it was, in fact, the first chick-lit novel I read, back in 2004. This is the book that got me interested in the genre, that made me seek out more. I've been a reader since I was able to pick up a book, and would read everything I could get my hands on (still do!), though I hadn't really discovered chick-lit until I picked up The Second Assistant. I took a liking to the Hollywood plot, enjoyed it, and then sought out similar books.

When you hit the lobby of the Hollywood's premier talent management company, The Agency, with its polished marble floor and a light so brilliant flooding through the vast windows that you reach for your Gucci sunglasses (before you remember they are last season's, and put them back swiftly), you realise that you are, arguably, in the most important place in Hollywood. And if you take a job there as second assistant, your life will never be the same again. So it is for Elizabeth, newly employed by Hollywood manager extraordinaire, Scott Wagner, and his side-kick, Lara, the woman who hates everyone and everything in Hollywood...

Elizabeth's first task is to separate the beige thumb tacks from the coloured ones on the notice board. And when Lara takes her out for her drink that night and gives her the first rule, Never to Date anyone in the Business, she thinks it'll be a doddle. Until the most gorgeous man rescues her after a fall, and she finds herself in a beautiful Malibu beach house...

Hilarious, sassy and utterly unputdownable, this is life in the Hollywood fast lane - with the top down.

The book is an insider story, along the same lines as The Nanny Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada (which also takes pride of place in my collection), which seemed to be a trend around that time. This particular novel focused on an assistant at a Hollywood agency.

So - what are your all-time favourite chick-lit reads? Are there any you've re-read numerous times? I'd love to know!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

BOOK NEWS: Big Sexy Love by Kirsty Greenwood

Kirsty Greenwood, author of The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance and Yours Truly, is back with a new novel! Big Sexy Love will be released in June, and in it Olive Brewster sets out on a journey to Manhattan to try and track down a friend's lost love...

Olive Brewster is a scaredy cat. She doesn't do new or risky. She’s happy enough with her job at the local market, it’s cool that she has no boyfriend to fret over, she even likes that she still lives in her childhood home. No drama, no fuss, no problems. Everything is fine. Super duper fine.

Except … Olive's best friend in the world​, Birdie, is dying.

Birdie has one final wish. She wants to track down her first love, Chuck, and because she's stuck in the hospital she needs Olive's help to do it. But there’s a teeny problem: Chuck is somewhere in New York and Olive has never even left her home town, let alone roamed the crazy streets of Manhattan.

As if the big city isn't scary enough, Olive has to contend with Seth, a cocky comedy TV writer who thinks she’s a joke; Anders, a bored socialite who’s taken a shine to her; and the fact that no matter how hard she tries to track down Chuck, he doesn't seem to want to be found.

Can Olive learn to overcome her fears, abandon her old safe routine and fulfil her best friend’s last wish?  It's going to take extra bravery, one badass attitude and a whole lot of big sexy love to make this happen...

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Wrong Number by Carys Jones

Wrong Number is the first in a series by Carys Jones (author of Prime Deception). The sequel to Wrong Number, titled Last Witness, is already out and receiving great reviews, so admittedly I'm a little late to the party here!

Amanda, a successful web designer, leads a happy  life with husband Will. Until one day, she receives a strange phone call, asking for a Jake Burton. The mysterious caller is adamant that Jake lives at the property. Amanda puts it down to a simple wrong number.

But then Will disappears.

Leaving without so much as a note or call is extremely out of character for her normally meticulous husband Will. Worried and frantic about his whereabouts, she contacts the police. Meanwhile, using her skills as a former hacker, Amanda starts to look into Will's online presence. And things just don't seem to add up...

When will is officially declared missing, the police officer on the case is none other than Amanda's ex boyfriend Shane. A man who knows everything about Amanda's past. Shane is now in a new relationship, but with the pair working closely on the investigation of Will's disappearance, will Shane and Amanda fall for one another again?

When I saw this book on Netgalley I had to request it, because I love a good thriller, and the premise of Wrong Number sounded gripping. It is...but not straight away. The action and suspense seems to pick up in the second half. It's quite slow at first, but I carried on, and was glad because the story does get better.

I particularly enjoyed the darkweb element of the book. It was original, and made for an interesting glimpse into the past of Amanda, who isn't the perfect wife that she initially seems. I liked that Amanda has a secret past, one she's not particularly proud of.

Wrong Number seems, to me anyway, to be less of a fast-paced thriller and more of a mystery with a bit of romance. I found this with Carys's previous novel, Prime Deception. Now, I am partial to a romantic sub-plot, however this book seems to be marketed as a thriller, which may mislead some readers who are looking for something more gripping and psychological. The ending was, in my opinion, a little bit hurried.

I don't want to spoil too much, but I enjoyed Wrong Number; Carys Jones is a great writer, and even though this book is slightly predictable and a bit slower than I had expected, it's still a good read overall!

Rating: 3/5

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

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