Hi! Thank you for stopping by. I now have a new blog which you can find here.

This blog will be deleted shortly.

Elle x

BOOK NEWS: It Started With a Tweet by Anna Bell

Anna Bell recently revealed the cover of her new novel, and ISN'T IT LOVELY?! Anna is the author of romantic comedies including the Don't Tell series, The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart and The Good Girlfriend's Guide to Getting Even. It Started With a Tweet is out in December, and follows social media-obsessed Daisy who's about to face some life changes after a huge mistake at work...

Daisy Hobson lives her whole life online. A marketing manager by day, she tweets her friends, instagrams every meal and arranges (frankly, appalling) dates on Tinder. But when her social media obsession causes her to make a catastrophic mistake at work, Daisy finds her life going into free-fall...

Her sister Rosie thinks she has the answer to all of Daisy's problems - a digital detox in a remote cottage in Cumbria, that she just happens to need help doing up. Soon, too, Daisy finds herself with two welcome distractions: sexy French exchange-help Alexis, and Jack, the brusque and rugged man-next-door, who keeps accidentally rescuing her.

But can Daisy, a London girl, ever really settle into life in a tiny, isolated village? And, more importantly, can she survive without her phone? 

NEW RELEASES: You, Me and Everything in Between by Helen J Rolfe

You, Me and Everything in Between is the new novel from Helen J Rolfe, author of Handle Me With Care and In a Manhattan Minute. Lydia's life is changed completely, leaving her wondering whether she should finally move on...

Can you ever rewrite the past?

Lydia and Theo face the unthinkable when a knock at the door changes everything. 

As Theo lies unconscious, Lydia begins to pick up the pieces, but not every part of the puzzle fits together as neatly as it did before. And when Lydia begins to move on, what happens when Theo wakes up and realises she didn’t wait for him?

Theo and Lydia have a history together, but do they still have a future? Or has too much happened to be able to forgive and forget? 

BOOK REVIEW: My Sister's Wedding by Vicky Pattison

When I was sent the ARC of My Sister's Wedding by Vicky Pattison, I wasn't sure what to expect - I'm not usually a fan of overly-romantic stories, which is what the cover makes it out to be (it's a little sugary for my tastes!). However, the blurb looked fun. Two very different sisters, one big wedding. I decided to give it a try. As it turned out, this book was brilliant.

First off, I have to say that I had no idea who Vicky Pattison was before reading this. I hardly watch TV, let alone reality TV, and I've never seen an episode of Geordie Shore in my life. On receiving this book I learned Vicky is a celebrity with two more novels available (All That Glitters and The Christmas Kiss) along with some non-fiction titles.

Lizzie and Becky Ashworth are sisters, but so very different. Becky is sensible, focused, and preparing to get married to her fiance, the lovely Daniel Balfour. Meanwhile, Lizzie is a bit more wild, unable to keep a job for very long, and lacking the security and drive that her sister has.

Becky and Daniel are truly in love, and the wedding is set to be a lavish affair, especially seeing as Daniel hails from the uber-rich Balfour family, a big difference from the Ashworths' working-class roots. Becky has always felt that the Balfours do not approve of their son's decision to marry her instead of a wealthy socialite, which is causing tensions to run high in preparation for the big day.

Meanwhile, Daniel's sister isn't happy with the marriage, especially seeing as her friend has eyes for Daniel, and so the pair come up with a plot to try and split up the happy couple for good.

As Becky is planning to move into the next chapter of her life, Lizzie feels as though she's lagging behind, that her sister won't need her anymore. But as it happens, the sisters might just need each other more than they think.

My Sister's Wedding was very funny and quite hard to put down. The book is narrated by both sisters during the wedding preparations, and it's hard not to like both of the girls; even Lizzie, who may come across as fiery and less sensible than her sister, but has a heart of gold - especially when it comes to family! There are some great characters too, along with some rivalry and revenge. Admittedly I did feel that this book was for a slightly younger audience (maybe late teens/early twenties), but it's a great story. It's light, funny and feel-good, and I really enjoyed it.

Rating: 5/5

NEW RELEASES: Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave

Sunshine is a vlogger who appears to have it all in life - that is, until her true identity is revealed. In Hello Sunshine, the newly-released novel by Laura Dave, author of The First Husband and Eight Hundred Grapes, Sunshine has to navigate life in the downfall of the identity she has built up online.

Sunshine Mackenzie truly is living the dream. A lifestyle guru for the modern age, Sunshine is beloved by millions of people who tune into her YouTube cooking show, and millions more scour her website for recipes, wisdom, and her enticing suggestions for how to curate a perfect life. She boasts a series of #1 New York Times bestselling cookbooks, a devoted architect husband, and a reputation for sincerity and kindness--Sunshine seems to have it all. But she's hiding who she really is. And when her secret is revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. What Sunshine does in the ashes of destruction will save her in more ways than she can imagine. 

In our modern world, where celebrity is a careful construct, Laura Dave's compelling, enticing novel explores the devastating effect of the secrets we keep in public...and in private. Hello, Sunshine is a fresh, provocative look at a woman teetering between a scrupulously assembled life and the redemptive power of revealing the truth.

BLOG TOUR: Half a Sixpence by Evie Grace

Half a Sixpence is the new book by Evie Grace. This historical novel, set in Kent in the 1800s, focuses on Catherine, a woman who is forced to keep her family together in a time of tragedy.

Catherine Rook takes her peaceful life for granted. Her days are spent at the village school and lending a hand on her family’s farm. Life is run by the seasons, and there’s little time for worry. 

But rural unrest begins sweeping through Kent, and when Pa Rook buys a threshing machine it brings turbulence and tragedy to Wanstall Farm. With the Rooks’ fortunes forever changed, Catherine must struggle to hold her family together. 

She turns to her childhood companion, Matty Carter, for comfort, and finds more than friendship in his loving arms. But Matty has his own family to protect, and almost as quickly as their love blossomed their future begins to unravel. 

With the threat of destitution nipping at her heels, Catherine must forge a way out of ruin...

As part of the Half a Sixpence blog tour, Evie Grace has shared with us a character profile. Read on to find out more about Catherine Rook!

Half a Sixpence will be released tomorrow.

Character Profile: Catherine Rook

Thank you very much for hosting today’s stop on my blog tour with Half a Sixpence, the first book in a new series, a Victorian family saga set in East Kent. Half a Sixpence is the story of Catherine Rook, a country girl born in Overshill, East Kent in 1817, and I’d love to tell you a little more about her.

I took inspiration for Catherine’s character and way of life from my family tree, anecdotes passed down from my grandparents and great grandparents, and my experiences of the countryside. I was born in Kent and one of my earliest memories is of picking cherries with my grandfather in an orchard near Selling. He was a farm manager, and Wanstall Farm, Catherine’s home in Half a Sixpence has echoes of the place where he worked.

Catherine lives with Ma and Pa Rook and her brother, John. Her older siblings have already left home. She enjoys feeding the hens, collecting their eggs and looking after the pigs, especially when they give birth to their piglets. Pa is a great believer in the value of education, sending her to the village school where she learns the three R’s with her best friend, Emily. She aspires to marry for love one day, in spite of Ma’s rather embarrassing conviction that she should marry up.  

Catherine’s life follows the seasons that come and go the same, year after year, punctuated by the regular sowing, harvesting and threshing of the corn, followed by rowdy harvest suppers and the hop picking. When Catherine needs new clothes, Pa Rook says she can have them ‘after ‘op-picking’, a saying that has been passed down through my family. My mum remembers her mother taking her, her brother and sister hop picking every summer to bring in desperately needed cash. My grandmother also went fruit-picking, taking a pram with a false bottom under which she hid apples to take home.

Catherine helps the Rooks’ maid in the kitchen, pickling and preserving the produce from the land, and learning to make the perfect pastry for plum pies. Living on the farm is hard, but in many ways Catherine leads an idyllic way of life that comes under threat when her father decides to invest in a threshing machine.

The fresh challenges facing the farm and her family serve to strengthen Catherine’s resourceful character, a recurring feature of my Victorian ancestors. One of my great-grandmothers had a reputation for being a particularly determined lady who brought up seven happy children in a tiny house on very little money with the help of her husband who grew and sold fresh vegetables from the garden to make ends meet. However, her background was tainted by rumours of illegitimacy, the consequences of which I have introduced into Half a Sixpence.

Catherine is resourceful, loyal and caring, and even at her lowest ebb, she finds the strength to carry on.

I hope you enjoy reading her story.

x Evie

BLOG TOUR: Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall - Q&A and Extract

This year has seen so many great debut novels - one being Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall. The book focuses on two best friends whose friendship is tested by the arrival of a newcomer to their small island.

Kate has stopped by for a Q&A on Skylarking, to tell about her new novel and the inspiration behind it.

Kate and Harriet are best friends growing up together on an isolated Australian cape. As the daughters of the lighthouse keepers, the two girls share everything, until a fisherman, McPhail, arrives in their small community.

When Kate witnesses the desire that flares between him and Harriet, she is torn by her feelings of envy and longing. An innocent moment in McPhail's hut then occurs that threatens to tear their peaceful community apart.

Inspired by a true story, Skylarking is a spellbinding tale of friendship and desire, memory and truth, which questions what it is to remember and how tempting it can be to forget.

Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
A remote lighthouse. Best friends growing up. A fisherman. A gun…

What inspired you to write Skylarking?
While on a camping trip with my family and best friends, I stumbled upon an old grave. It belonged to a young woman who had lived at a nearby lighthouse in the 1880s and I was immediately captivated by the information that hinted at a bigger story, including her friendship with the daughter of the Head Lighthouse Keeper, and a terrible event that occurred at a fisherman’s hut nearby. I began to dig into the history of the lighthouse and eventually became obsessed with imagining the lives of these two best friends and what became of them.

Where do you do most of your writing?
I occupied a corner of the lounge room by surrounding it with bookshelves so I have a little nook with a sunny window and a desk amid towering piles of books. But, as I have two young children, I also write wherever I can – on the train, in the car outside dancing class, dictating notes on my phone while waiting at traffic lights!

What is your favourite book?
This question is like asking which of my children is my favourite! As a child, Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery, as a student Cloudstreet by Tim Winton, as a writer The Writer’s Room: Conversations About Writing edited by Charlotte Wood.

Which part of Skylarking did you enjoy writing the most?
In the beginning I had no idea I was writing a novel, let alone that it would be published – so that was incredibly liberating. I avoided writing the climax of the novel for many, many months, and when I finally did, I sobbed all the way through. That part wasn’t enjoyable but it was certainly an experience I’ll never forget.

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
Again, so many! But Anne of Green Gables and Grace Marks from Margaret Attwood’s Alias Grace influenced me both in my life and writing.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
Keep reading widely and voraciously! And sit down and DO the writing. Your novel can sound wonderful in your mind but you’ve got to take the risk to actually put it down on paper. Be brave!

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
I’m in the middle of writing my second novel. It’s a more contemporary story and as part of the research I’m hitching a ride on a yacht from Darwin to Indonesia. I’m enjoying pushing myself to take new risks in this work!

Thanks, Kate!

You can find out more about Kate Mildenhall by visiting her website, Facebook, or by following her on Twitter.

BOOK REVIEW: Him Downstairs by Sherill Turner

What do you do when the ex you still have feelings for lives directly below you?

It's a tricky situation for Lucy Jenkins in Him Downstairs, the debut novel from actress Sherill Turner (check out her Q&A!). If you're a fan of hilarious British chick-lit then this is a perfect novel to add to your to-read list.

Life is going generally okay for thirty-something Lucy; okay, she's single, and she has to take on more than one job to be able to afford the mortgage on her much-loved flat. But with her fun and slightly wacky friends and family around her, Lucy is heading through life positively.

However, things change when the flat below hers becomes occupied by the handsome Tom; a fellow singleton who's moved in after separating from his wife. Tom and Lucy are great together, however it isn't long before the challenges arise, such as the acceptance of Tom's two young sons, and the pressure from his soon-to-be-ex wife.

When there seem to me more downsides than upsides to their relationship, Tom and Lucy call it off - leaving Lucy with the unfortunate realisation that she will have to get over a man who lives right below her. It's hard enough getting over a relationship, but when you can hear your ex all day (even going to the toilet)? Nothing can prepare you for that...

With the help of her friends, and along with some hilarious dating disasters and mishaps, Lucy must focus on getting the man from the downstairs flat out of her life.

Him Downstairs is a fantastic read, one which I struggled to put down as I found myself relating to Lucy so much, cheering her on throughout the novel. Sherill Turner is a very funny writer, and the book is hilarious all the way through; it's brilliantly witty British chick-lit, the kind that I'm personally always on the lookout for. I will say that at the beginning of this book, there was perhaps a bit too much rambling - HOWEVER, as I read on, I didn't mind this, and it actually made me enjoy it more. It felt as though Lucy had become a close friend, and that I'd been invited even further into her life and the story.

I'm going to applaud the author for bringing us a book that focuses on a real, genuine relationship. Yes, this is considered chick-lit, but if you're looking for a sugary-sweet romance, Him Downstairs probably isn't for you. I won't go into too much detail, but this story explores the (often harsh) realities and issues that come with thirty-something dating, especially when there are ex-partners and children involved. It's refreshing, as it's something that isn't usually explored in mainstream chick-lit, as there tends to be a heavy focus on the happily-ever-after. This book is about Lucy's journey, and what she learns from it.

Him Downstairs is a wonderful debut with plenty of humour, a relatable heroine and fab characters. I hope Sherill writes more novels in the future!

Rating: 5/5

BOOK NEWS: How Hard Can it Be? by Allison Pearson

I was planning on posting a Throwback Thursday today. This is kind of a throwback, but as it happens, I can share some book news at the same time!

Chick lit readers of the early 2000s may remember Kate Reddy, the woman who seemed to have it all in Allison Pearson's 2002 novel I Don't Know How She Does It. The novel was an international bestseller. Unfortunately I didn't read this book at the time - I didn't start reading the genre until around 2004. But I do recall that it was a popular title, one I should probably add to my TBR list now.

Kate returns in How Hard Can it Be?, the sequel to I Don't Know How She Does It. Now nearing fifty, Kate finds herself juggling life at work with being the mother of teenagers. The novel will be published in September.

Kate Reddy is counting down the days until she is fifty, but not in a good way. Fifty, in Kate’s mind, equals invisibility. And with hormones that have her in shackles, teenage children who need her there but won’t talk to her and ailing parents who aren’t coping, Kate is in the middle of a sandwich that she isn’t even allowed to eat because of the calories.

She’s back at work after a big break at home, because somebody has to bring home the bacon now that her husband Rich has dropped out of the rat race to master the art of mindfulness. But just as Kate is finding a few tricks to get by in her new workplace, her old client and flame Jack reappears – complicated doesn’t even begin to cover it.

How Hard Can It Be? is a coming of age story for turning fifty. It’s about so much more than a balancing act; it’s about finding out who you are and what you need to feel alive when you’ve got used to being your own last priority. And every page will leave you feeling that there’s a bit of Kate Reddy in all of us.

BOOK NEWS: The Dating Bender by Christina Julian

The Dating Bender is the upcoming debut novel by Christina Julian, in which divorcee Samantha decides up her 'good girl' life in favour of romantic (mis)adventures...

The Dating Bender will be released in August.

Here I am, on my knees in front of the Trevi Fountain, hoping like hell the legend is true. That the fountain gives you solace and love by a mere toss of a coin. 

Why am I here, exactly? Let’s see…

It started with my parents telling me to get married. Of course, being the good Catholic girl I am, I did.

Needless to say, that marriage nosedived, and my parents weren’t exactly happy about it.
Newly ditched and shamefully disowned, I decided to follow the advice of Babs, a tart-of-a-mentor, who offered me a job in Colorado. 

Her advice? Sex…and lots of it.

The temptation of freedom, to do whatever—whoever—I wanted was too damn strong for me to say no.

And that’s how it all started. The men, the sex, the journey…

The dating bender. Because everybody deserves a do-over.

BOOK REVIEW: My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger

I'm not normally a big reader of YA fiction, but now and again I'll delve into it. Over the past few months however, I've come across some titles that have been hard to pass up. one of them being My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger, in which a teenager experiencing family issues heads to Hollywood and finds herself researching the girls of the notorious Manson family.

Ever since my younger years, hearing about Charles Manson and the killing spree of his 'family' in the 1960s, I've been intrigued by the girls that followed him, and often found myself interested in how the girls that followed Manson so adoringly allowed themselves to become killers. This is what attracted me to My Favourite Manson Girl - it made for a a VERY interesting plot.

Fifteen-year-old Anna, after some trouble at home in Atlanta, steals the credit card of her mom's new wife and heads to LA to visit her older sister Delia. Delia is a young actress, a star in the making (or so she would like people to believe), living a charmed life in glamorous Hollywood.

Anna's plan is to stay with Delia until her mom ceases being mad, and also until she can pay back the stolen cash for her plane ticket. When Delia's ex Roger, an eccentric film producer, offers to pay her to research the Manson girls for an upcoming movie, Anna can hardly turn it down.

As the weeks pass, Anna spends her summer reading and hanging out on set with the actors of Chips Ahoy! - a cheesy kids' sitcom of which Dex, Delia's new boyfriend, is one of the writers. There she meets Jeremy, star of the show alongside his brother Joshua, and they start to hit it off. However, as her life is going relatively well for a change, Delia's may be at risk - from a stalker who keeps appearing at the house, leaving notes. Delia is secretive about most things in her life, leading Anna to believe that the Hollywood dream she seems to live in may be far from reality.

Admittedly I have mixed feelings about this book. I'll start with the cons: first of all, pretty much all of the characters were awful (besides Dex and Lynette. Jeremy too, maybe). Don't get me wrong, this isn't necessarily a bad thing - this is Hollywood. The book explores the reality behind the glitz. I hardly expected every character to be lovely and sweet. However, Anna herself was incredibly selfish, often mean, generally unlikable. It was just hard to relate to her at all.

Secondly, the plot didn't really go anywhere. I guess I felt that, due to the Manson research Anna was carrying out (I really enjoyed these parts), that the Manson plot would inevitably lead somewhere. But it didn't. Nothing really happened in this book, even though the blurb seemed (to me, anyway) to hint at a bit of a mystery, and I felt a bit let down at the end. It wasn't too compelling either - I found it easy to put down and didn't feel excited about picking it back up again. I'm glad I finished it though.

As for the pros? Well, this book doesn't focus heavily on romance, which is something I really liked about it. It's refreshing in that way. There is no big love story here.

And it's unique. Like I mentioned before, I'm not a big YA reader. But this did stand out as a very different, very real novel. It's not a glam tale of Hollywood life; it focuses on the reality. I did like the idea that Hollywood isn't perfect, that you have to be careful who to trust. Just like the Manson girls; girls who were once normal, who had parents, who went to Homecoming and wanted to be pretty, to be loved. And eventually, they killed for it.

This seemed like a promising read, and there were elements I enjoyed, but in the end it was just 'okay'. However, that's just my verdict. This is one of those books that I'd strongly urge you to check out for yourself.

Rating: 3/5

UNCOVERED PICKS: Five July Releases

Is it that time already?! July's here, and with it comes some great new novels! Read on for this month's selection from the Austen-inspired book from Brigid Coady to new releases from Rebecca Chance and Melissa Pimentel.

If you're specifically looking for holiday-themed reads, check out part one and part two of this year's summer picks!

Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady
It is a truth universally acknowledged that working with an ex is a terrible idea…

Annie Elliot never expected her life to turn out this way: living with her dad, working as an accountant – surely the least glamorous job in Hollywood?! – and dodging her family’s constant bickering.

Landing a job as a producer on a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice seems like the piece of luck she’s been waiting for. Until the cast is announced, and Annie discovers that the actor playing Mr Darcy is Austen Wentworth: the man she’s spent nearly a decade trying to forget.

Not only is Austen her ex – but while Annie’s life has stalled, Austen is Hollywood’s hottest property…and has just been voted World’s Sexiest Man.

With nowhere to hide, there’s just one question. Now the one who got away has come back, should Annie stand by her pride? Or give into Austen’s powers of persuasion?

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin--the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin--her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job. Sure, Janey has gained some weight since her divorce, and no, her beautifully cut trousers don't fit like they used to, so Janey throws herself headlong into the world of the fitness revolution, signing up for a shockingly expensive workout pass, baring it all for Free the Nipple yoga, sweating through boot camp classes run by Sri Lankan militants and spinning to the screams of a Lycra-clad instructor with rage issues. 

At a juice shop she meets Jacob, a cute young guy who takes her dumpster-diving outside Whole Foods on their first date. At a shaman's tea ceremony she meets Hugh, a silver fox who holds her hand through an ayahuasca hallucination And at a secret exercise studio Janey meets Sara Strong, the wildly popular workout guru whose special dance routine has starlets and wealthy women flocking to her for results that seem too good to be true. 

As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can't help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place? A hilarious send-up of the health and wellness industry, Fitness Junkie is a glorious romp through the absurd landscape of our weight-obsessed culture.

Killer Affair by Rebecca Chance
Stunning, charismatic Lexy O’Brien is the reigning queen of British reality TV. Her life in front of the camera is planned and manipulated as successfully as any military assault.

But success breeds jealousy. When you’re on top, the only way is down and there’s always someone standing by to give you a shove...

Dowdy Caroline Evans, a part-time blogger and writer of erotic fiction, is brought in to chronicle Lexy’s life. Being taken under Lexy’s wing is a dream come true for Caroline. But sampling the star’s lifestyle is like tasting the most addictive of drugs, and it’s not long before she is craving what she can’t possibly have – or can she?

And as Caroline and Lexy’s lives and loves become increasingly entwined, it’s only a matter of time before the hidden rivalry becomes a powder keg waiting to explode...

Jenny Sparrow Knows the Future by Melissa Pimentel
Jenny Sparrow can tell you her future:

1. Meet soulmate at 25 
2. Move in with him
3. Marry him this year...

According to the plan Jenny made at thirteen, it's time for her to get married. But when her boyfriend proposes a break instead of a wedding, a girls' weekend in Vegas is the only solution...until she wakes up in a stranger's bed, and discovers that this is the year she gets married - to the wrong man.

Jenny wants a quick divorce and her old boyfriend back. But what if her accidental husband has other ideas?

So Happy It Hurts by Anneliese Mackintosh
'I want to be a good person. And I want to be happy. So happy it hurts. I need you to help me with that.’

Ottila McGregor is thirty years old and has decided it’s time to sort her life out. She’s going to quit drinking, stop cheating and finally find true happiness. Easy, right?

Of course not.

For a start, there’s Grace, her best friend, who believes self-improvement is for people in their forties. Next there’s Mina, her sister, who is mentally ill, and it might be Ottila’s fault. And then there’s Thales, the Greek guy who works in the hospital cafeteria. He's probably the best, most dangerous person Ottila’s ever met.

To make sense of it all, Ottila keeps a scrapbook of everything: emails, receipts, tickets, letters, her therapy transcripts, a boyfriend's note rescued from the bin... The result is an infectious one-off of a novel that makes you wince and laugh in equal measure, and which asks the question: what does it take to be so happy it hurts?

BLOG TOUR: The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square by Lilly Bartlett - REVIEW

The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square is the new novel from Lilly Bartlett, author of The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square and The Big Dreams Beach Hotel. Lilly is the pen-name of bestselling author Michele Gorman, whose books include Single in the City, The Curvy Girls Club and Weightless (which is one of my favourite novellas). Michele is a fabulous writer and so I feel honoured to be taking part in the blog tour!

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?

The Second Chance Cafe is the second in the Carlton Square series, following on from The Big Little Wedding. I actually haven't read the first book, however there were no issues in starting with the second. The book can be read as a standalone novel, though after reading Second Chance Cafe I'm going to be reading the first book immediately as I would love to read more about the cast of characters in Carlton Square!

Emma Billings is determined. Being a mother of two young twins, life is already demanding, but Emma insists on putting the degree, that she worked very hard for, to use. With the help of her in-laws, Emma has secured the lease on an old pub in Carlton Square, which she plans to turn into a cafe, and helping to at-risk youths in the community by taking them on as trainees.

After some rather unique (and hilarious) interviews, Emma finally hires two new teenage staff - the sweet yet overly-confident Joseph and the secretive and feisty Lou, who has already been in trouble with the law. Emma's intention is to provide the teens with work experience, and customers with a lovely cafe to have tea, coffee and cake.

With a host of helpful family and friends, getting the cafe ready for opening is going well. With its outside flowers courtesy of her mother-in-law, gorgeous cakes by local supplier Cleo, and the staff ready and raring to go, the Second Chance Cafe looks set for a successful venture. But when the grand opening pulls in no new customers, it appears that something's wrong.

Someone isn't happy with the new cafe on Carlton Square, and is out to destroy Emma's hard work. It's up to Emma, her loyal staff and her friends to try and save her beloved cafe from a competitor who will stop at nothing to put the new cafe out of business! Meanwhile, Emma is finding it hard dealing with the twins as well as the work that the cafe brings, and wants husband Daniel to take more responsibility. But broaching the subject can be harder than it seems...

The Second Chance Cafe on Carlton Square is an absolutely wonderful read. I read it in a day, as it's quite hard to put down. It has a host of wonderful and funny characters, including Daniel, Emma's friends (including fellow mums Emerald and Garnet and their hilarious sibling rivalry), and of course, Joseph and Lou. I especially loved Lou's story. Emma is a great heroine; ambitious, kind, caring, a hardworking wife and mother. She sticks up for herself, and for Lou. Basically, she's the kick-ass heroine that we all need.

Packed with Michele's usual humour and lovable characters, The Second Chance Cafe is a feel-good novel about not just focusing on family and romance, but also the importance of friendship and community.

Rating: 5/5

About Lilly Bartlett

Lilly Bartlett’s cosy romcoms are full of warmth, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.

Lilly is the pen-name of Sunday Times and USA Today best-selling author, Michele Gorman, who writes best friend-girl power comedies under her own name.

Blog Tour!

BLOG TOUR: Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft - REVIEW

Today is rather exciting as it's day one of the blog tour for Beneath a Burning Sky, the beautiful new historical romance novel from Jenny Ashcroft.

When twenty-two-year-old Olivia is coerced into marriage by the cruel Alistair Sheldon she leaves England for Egypt, his home and the land of her own childhood. Reluctant as she is to go with Alistair, it's in her new home that she finds happiness in surprising places: she is reunited with her long-estranged sister, Clara, and falls - impossibly and illicitly - in love with her husband's boarder, Captain Edward Bertram.

Then Clara is abducted from one of the busiest streets in the city. Olivia is told it's thieves after ransom money, but she's convinced there's more to it. As she sets out to discover what's happened to the sister she's only just begun to know, she falls deeper into the shadowy underworld of Alexandria, putting her own life, and her chance at a future with Edward, the only man she's ever loved, at risk. Because, determined as Olivia is to find Clara, there are others who will stop at nothing to conceal what's become of her...

When I was told about this book, I was instantly drawn in by the cover. It's captivating. Just like the book itself, which is set in Egypt in the late 19th century.

After a troubled childhood, Olivia is twenty-two when she's forced into marriage, and has to leave her home in England and head to Egypt - a place she already knows having spent her childhood there with her now-deceased parents and the sister from whom she was separated. Having to endure the cruelty of her new husband, there is some positivity in returning to Alexandria; seeing her sister Clara again. And, unexpectedly, meeting and falling for a charming Captain.

However, things change when Olivia's sister disappears. Olivia is determined to find her, even to the point of putting her own life, and love, at risk.

Beneath a Burning Sky may be described as a historical romance, but it's much more than a that; it's full of intrigue and mystery that makes it such a great read. It has aspects of a thriller, with Olivia's determination to find out what's happened to her sister. This is Jenny Ashcroft's debut novel, and it is a wonderfully written book that's very hard to put down. I don't read a lot of historical novels, but found myself completely immersed in Beneath a Burning Sky. 

Rating: 5/5

Check out the other stops on the Beneath a Burning Sky blog tour!

BOOK NEWS: The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

It's still a while to wait, but The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay, author of Lizzy & Jane and A Portrait of Emily Price, will be published in November.

Falling into the past will change their futures forever.

Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues – particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.

But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath.  While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by the other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them. 

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts. 


Joining me on the blog today is Ruth Kaufman, author of new novel My Life as an Extra. Ruth was inspired by her experiences as a film and TV extra, and she's already working on the sequel!

Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
Rebuilding her life after divorcing, Marla learns to feel special when she’s not the star.

What inspired you to write My Life as an Extra?
I've worked as an extra on more than 70 movies and TV shows filmed in Chicago, and thought that world would make an interesting backdrop because of the lengths people  often need to go to complete a film and the various personalities that inhabit it.

Where do you do most of your writing?
I usually write at my desk in my home office because I prefer the larger monitor and better ergonomics. But sometimes I take my laptop to a quiet coffee shop or a friend's place for a different atmosphere.

What is your favourite book?
That's a tough question because I have so many on my keeper shelf! I love Margaret George's The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers: A Novel.

Which part of My Life as an Extra did you enjoy writing the most?
I had so much fun writing a scene later in the book that takes place at Marla's day job. I'm a panster (meaning I don't plot first), so I kept laughing out loud as developments unfolded. And when a certain event took place, it was quite the "aha" moment. I don't want to give any spoilers....

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
I'd say whenever I'm reading a book I love, that heroine is my favorite.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
So many! The first would be to learn about and stay on top of changes in the market. The second is to be aware that nowadays one book isn't usually enough for those who want to sell, so it's helpful to have a career plan and know how fast you can write.

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
I'm finishing revisions on the sequel to MLE, My Life as a Star, in which Marla learns be careful what you wish for when her acting career and feelings for a hot, famous director skyrocket.

Thanks, Ruth!

You can find out more about Ruth Kaufman by visiting her website, blog, Facebook, or by following her on Twitter.

My Life as an Extra

Chicagoan Marla Goldberg must rebuild her life at forty-one after an unexpected divorce. While adjusting to singlehood, trying to improve conditions at the radio station where she's an account executive and fit in with her successful family, she dips her toes into the daunting dating pool. 

Marla yearns to fulfill her long-held dream of being a full-time, working actor, yet can't quite believe, "Leap and the net will appear." Being a movie and TV show extra teaches her meaningful lessons, but she must learn what for her is the hardest lesson of all: how to feel special and valued when you’re not the star. 

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 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; incredibly wealthy, beautiful (one is an actual supermodel) and just a bit judgmental, 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

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?

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

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!

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?

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.

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...