BOOK NEWS: Amanda Wakes Up by Alisyn Camerota

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

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

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

BOOK REVIEW: Miss Wrong and Mr Right by Robert Bryndza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 5/5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Beezy!

Mr Make Believe by Beezy Marsh

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOK NEWS: The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters

It's always great to hear about new chick-lit authors, and now HQ Digital has a new writer on the block! The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters by Jaimie Admans (author of Kismetology) will be released in June. So if you fancy an escape to France...

Where dreams come true…?

Wendy Clayton stopped believing in fairy tales a long time ago. Instead, she has a ‘nice’ life. Nice job. Nice flat. Absolutely no men. Until her life is turned upside-down when her elderly neighbour, Eulalie, passes away and leaves her the Château of Happily Ever Afters!

But there’s a catch: she must share the sprawling French castle with Eulalie’s long-lost nephew, Julian. And no matter how gorgeous he is, or how easily she finds herself falling head over heels, Wendy needs to find a way to get rid of him…

Because surely happily ever afters don’t happen in real life?

BOOK REVIEW: Stuck With You by Carla Burgess

What's can be more scary than being stuck in a lift? (Okay, okay. Many things. But still.) How about being stuck in a lift with the college crush you stalked adored?

This is exactly what happens to Elena in Stuck With You, the new novel from Carla Burgess (author of Marry Me Tomorrow). Can we just appreciate the prettiness of this cover for a moment?

The cover and premise are what attracted me to this novel. It seemed quite fun, even though I'm not normally one for overly-sweet romances. 'But,' you may ask, 'you blog about chick-lit. How can you not like romance?!' This is true, and I do enjoy romance in my reads - I just like more to a story than two people falling in love.

Which is probably why I didn't enjoy this novel quite as much as I'd expected.

Elena has fantasised over colleage heartthrob Daniel Moore for years. In fact, she constantly replays in her mind the moment of his prom-night kiss to this day, even though she's older and in a long-term relationship with boyfriend Alex.

However, things haven't been too good with Alex for some time, and this lack of passion is confirmed when Alex, quite horribly, dumps her. Forced to live with her parents again in her teenage room (which amusingly contains the 'Daniel Box' full of colleage mementoes...), Elena intends to embark on a new Alex-free life.

But things soon change when she gets trapped in a supermarket elevator...with none other than Daniel Moore.

The chance encounter leads to some interesting conversation and reminiscing (after the initial awkwardness) - after all, which girl didn't fancy the sexy, confident aspiring rock star Daniel? Soon they're meeting up, and on a journey that'll determine whether or not their lift experience was a crafty act of fate...

This was a sweet book. If you like boy-meets-girl, getting-to-know-you stories, then Stuck With You should be on your reading list. To me, however, it was just 'okay'. I think I just expected more from it, maybe more humour or events - something other than a predictable romance. I found myself skim-reading a lot of chapters, and only because I wanted to find out what happened at the end - mainly with Alex (who, I have to say, is horrible. Almost TOO horrible. I don't think I've ever wanted to punch a chick-lit character more than this guy). I wanted to know if he might get some sort of comeuppance, if just for the way he treated Elena. At first I felt that she could have stuck up for herself a bit more, but I know that sometimes it's best to just move on.

I liked Elena, and after her lack of luck at the beginning of the book, I wanted her to find happiness. I found her lift encounter with Daniel to be sweet and a bit funny (I think for some of us, bumping into your teenage crush would be horrifying!)

Stuck With You is a good read for romance fans. I wish I could say I enjoyed it more, but I just think it fell flat after a certain point, and there wasn't much to the story besides the two of them getting to know each other as they went about their day-to-day lives. That said, I don't think this was an issue with the book or the author (especially seeing as most readers have loved the novel, and it's gained some great reviews). I think it was just down to personal preference - I only took a chance on this obvious love story because it seemed more interesting than others. I know this may seem like an odd review, but I aim to be fair to both readers and authors in my reviews, and I truly feel that this was not a bad book, it just wasn't my kind of thing.

Rating: 3/5

UNCOVERED PICKS: Three New Thrillers

For the fans of psychological thrillers with some great twists, here's another selection of new and upcoming novels to look out for!

The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite - released on 12th May
A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness - until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk? 

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

When I Wake Up by Jessica Jarlvi - released on 1st June
'Why won't Mummy wake up?' 

When Anna, a much-loved teacher and mother of two, is left savagely beaten and in a coma, a police investigation is launched. News of the attack sends shock waves through her family and their small Swedish community. Anna seems to have had no enemies, so who wanted her dead?

As loved-ones wait anxiously by her bedside, her husband Erik is determined to get to the bottom of the attack, and soon begins uncovering his wife's secret life, and a small town riven with desire, betrayal and jealousy. 

As the list of suspects grows longer, it soon becomes clear that only one person can reveal the truth, and she's lying silent in a hospital bed...

Lie to Me by Jess Ryder - released 19th April
Three minutes. That’s all it takes for Meredith’s entire world to fall apart when she watches the videotape of her four-year-old self with Becca, the mother who abandoned her.

Meredith can’t believe what her eyes have seen. Yet what if her memory has locked away the painful reality of her childhood? Can there be any truth in the strange and dangerous story her mother forced her to tell on camera? 

The search for answers leads Meredith to Darkwater Pool, the scene of the murder of a young woman, Cara, over 30 years ago. What could possibly be the link between her mother and the victim?
To find the truth Meredith must search through a past that is not her own. The problem is, she’s not the only one looking…


Happy Friday all! Today, the lovely Lilac Mills is kicking off the weekend with an interview. Her new novel, Under the Cherry Tree, will be released next month and is a feel-good romance about dog groomer Jenni (and her loyal friend...)

Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
Under the Cherry Tree is a tale of love and hope, waggy tails, and cold noses.

What inspired you to write Under the Cherry Tree?
My gorgeous little Westie died last year, and I felt I wanted more than a grave to remember her by. This seemed such a fitting tribute, and many of the characteristics of Millie in the book came from my own little dog.

Where do you do most of your writing?
Anywhere I can! Whenever I've got a spare five minutes, no matter where I am, I'll write. I always carry a writing pad and a pen with me.

What is your favourite book?
Wuthering Heights - it's so dark and twisted, and a far cry from the chick lit I tend to read now. I read it when I was a teenager, and it's stuck with me ever since.

What part of Under the Cherry Tree did you enjoy writing the most?
Spoiler alert here! Millie's death scene. It actually made me cry when I was writing it, and each time I revisit it, I cry again.

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
Georgina from the Famous Five books. I first read a Famous Five story when I was 11 and I really wanted to be her. She was sassy, tomboyish and not a typical girl. She made me realise that females don't have to be stereotypical, as they were often portrayed in those days.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
First you've got to write and keep writing until you finish your manuscript, and that's easier said than done. It takes determination and perseverance to write a novel. So basically, what I'm saying is, don't give up. If you want it badly enough you'll find a way to complete it and get it out there.

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
I've started on a new novel (which I hope to be out by the end of the summer), called Elephant and Pinky Moon. It's about a young woman who is older than her years, and her grandmother, who most assuredly isn't!

Thanks, Lilac!

You can find out more about Lilac Mills by visiting her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Under the Cherry Tree by Lilac Mills

My dog didn't like men. Actually that was a lie – she didn't like the men I chose. The only ones who rocked her world had been my father (who was no longer with us), Ross (who was gay), and the butcher on the high street (for obvious reasons).” 

When Jenni Meadows has the opportunity to expand her dog-grooming business she takes it, and when a nice man appears on her horizon but fails to make any sparks fly, she decides she has enough on her plate with her business without adding a boyfriend into the mix.

Besides, Millie doesn’t like him and when her dog doesn’t like a man, Jenni knows all about it. So why does Millie take a very strange liking to the new vet, especially since he has a taciturn expression, wears a wedding ring, and wields a needle?

Under the Cherry Tree is a tale of love and hope, waggy tails, and cold noses.

BOOK NEWS: The Man I Thought You Were by Leah Mercer

Leah Mercer, author of Who We Were Before (and who also writes romantic comedies under the name Talli Roland), returns with her next novel The Man I Thought You Were, in which Anna's husband is keeping some very deep secrets. The novel will be released in August.

One fine autumn evening, Anna returns from work and starts making dinner, eager to welcome home her husband, Mark. It’s just like any other day in their ten-year, Pinterest-perfect marriage—until he says he’s leaving her.

Discovering that the man she thought she knew better than anyone else is capable of abandoning it all sends Anna reeling. She believed the life they’d built together – and the bright future they’d imagined—counted for everything. How can he walk away?

The truth is Mark is battling secrets of his own—secrets Anna knows nothing about. A painful past and an uncertain future threaten to bring his life down around him—and he’ll do anything not to expose her to that.

But unravelling the past is lonelier than Mark could ever have imagined and, as the days turn to months, Anna worries the separation will break them forever. Can she bring him back from the brink of self-destruction before it’s too late, or will she discover that she never really knew him at all?

BOOK REVIEW: Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses by Carole Matthews

I’ve been a fan of Carole Matthews since reading The Only Way is Up quite a few years ago. Carole’s novels are always nice to curl up with, and are usually full of relatable characters and sweet, believable romance. So when I received a copy of her latest novel, Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses, I was looking forward to reading right away.

Christie is a single, forty-something mum to teenager Finn. She spends most of her days working as a secretary in London, and enduring the daily commute to and from the capital every day. When she isn’t working, Christie turns her attentions to crafting, working on beautiful creations and whiling away her spare time in a world of pretty paper and handmade gifts. To do it professionally would be a dream come true, but for Christie, it seems worlds away.

That is, until her impressive crafting talent lands her an opportunity that’s impossible to turn down – working for an American craft company that wants to extend its top-selling range in the UK.

Christie agrees, and soon finds herself not only doing the job of her dreams (and with a house full of craft supplies!) but also heading out for a training event where she meets the company’s handsome and rather charming Max Alexander.

Max seems lovely, and just as interested in Christie. But just as she’s beginning to live her dream life, a heartbreaking revelation turns her world upside down. Soon she’s forced to make a choice, in order to put her family first.

A hint of love and success just isn’t enough to pull Christie away from her family. A dream can wait…can’t it?

Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses is a charming yet heartwarming story about realising dreams and the importance of family. One thing I enjoy about Carole’s novels is that even though they can be sweet and romantic, they also focus on genuine life issues and hardships, with characters so real and relatable that they soon feel like your close friends. Christie is no exception. She’s a hardworking, loving mum taking life as it comes, and when the opportunity of a lifetime arises, she grabs it. I found myself rooting for her throughout the book – and the lovely Finn, too -  and even when things do start to go wrong. Christie remains headstrong and determined. The romance in this novel is believable and does keep you guessing (I’m deliberately not mentioning much so as not to spoil it for you!) which is another aspect I liked a lot about this book.

Thank you again Carole, for another great read.

Rating: 5/5

BOOK NEWS: Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman

Here's a debut novel I'm super excited about! Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman is out in May. In it, two successful yet struggling best friends hatch a plot to scam the wealthy women of their book club...

Best friends Annie and Sarah need cash—fast. Sarah, a beautiful, successful lawyer, wants nothing more than to have a baby. But balancing IVF treatments with a grueling eighty-hour workweek is no walk in the park. Meanwhile, Annie, a Harvard-grad chemist recently transplanted to Southern California, is cutting coupons to afford her young autistic son’s expensive therapy.

Desperate, the two friends come up with a brilliant plan: they’ll combine Sarah’s looks and Annie’s brains to sell a “luxury” antiaging face cream to the wealthy, fading beauties in Annie’s La Jolla book club. The scheme seems innocent enough, until Annie decides to add a special—and oh-so-illegal—ingredient that could bring their whole operation crashing to the ground.

Hilarious, intelligent, and warm, Crimes Against a Book Club is a delightful look at the lengths women will go to fend for their families and for one another.

UNCOVERED PICKS: Seven Spring Escapes!

Now that we've slipped into spring, what better way is there to enjoy a sunny weekend with a good book set in an idyllic location? With novels from Holly Martin, Sue Watson, Daisy James and more, there's plenty of choice. Here's a selection of seven newly-released and upcoming reads for you to escape with this season.

The Second Chance Tea Shop by Fay Keenan
Following the tragic death of her beloved husband, Anna Hemingway decides it's time for a fresh start. So Anna and her three-year-old daughter Ellie move to a picture-perfect cottage in the beautiful village of Little Somerby, and when she takes over the running of the village tea shop, Ellie and Anna start to find happiness again.

But things get complicated when Matthew Carter, the owner of the local cider farm, enters their lives. Throughout a whirlwind year of village fetes and ancient wassails, love, laughter, apple pie and new memories, life slowly blossoms again. But when tragedy strikes and history seems to be repeating itself, Anna must find the strength to hold onto the new life she has built.

This beautiful, life-affirming debut novel marks the beginning of the Little Somerby series, and promises to make you smile, cry, reach for a cream tea, and long for a life in the perfect English countryside.

There's Something About Cornwall by Daisy James
Life is far from picture perfect for food photographer, Emilie Roberts. Not only has her ex-boyfriend cheated on her, he’s also stolen her dream assignment to beautiful Venice! Instead, Emilie is heading to the wind-swept Cornish coast...

Emilie doesn’t think it can get any worse – until disaster strikes on the very first day! And there’s only one man to rescue this damsel in distress: extremely hunky surfing instructor, Matt Ashby.

Racing from shoot to shoot in a bright orange vintage camper van, Matt isn’t the conventional knight in shining armour – but can he make all of Emilie’s fairy tale dreams come true?

The Beachside Sweet Shop by Karen Clarke
When Marnie Appleton inherited a sweet shop from her grandfather she was determined to do his legacy proud. The shop has been a much-loved feature of the little seaside town of Shipley for years, but now Marnie needs to bring it up to date, and she’s recruited gorgeous new assistant Josh to help.

Marnie gets busy redecorating the shop and choosing delicious new sweets to stock, but things are never that simple: new neighbour Isobel, a fame-hungry blogger, is on a crusade against sugar, and she’ll go to any lengths to secure bad publicity for Marnie’s shop.

Marnie fights back with homemade sugar-free treats, but with her best friend Beth heavily pregnant, her grandmother Celia recovering from an operation, and her very recently ex-boyfriend Alex returning to Shipley with a new love, Marnie has a lot on her plate.

And then there’s Josh, with whom Marnie is struggling to keep her relationship strictly professional...Will both the sweet shop and love flourish?

Love in an English Garden by Victoria Connelly
The Jacobs family has lived at Orley Court for generations. But when Vanessa Jacobs’s husband dies and leaves the property to her, she finds costs spiralling out of control. In order to stay in their beloved home, she and her daughters will have to sell part of it off—a decision that drives a wedge between Vanessa and her live-in mother-in-law.

The new owners of the north wing are Laurence Sturridge and his father, Marcus. Laurence wants to escape the constant pressure of his corporate job in London, while Marcus longs to heal from the grief of losing his wife. Could the beauty of Orley Court offer them a fresh outlook on life?

As the two families embark on a challenging new chapter over the course of a glorious English summer, secrets are revealed and relationships tested. But as Orley Court begins to weave its magic over them, will it be love, above all, that brings the two families together?

Spring at Blueberry Bay by Holly Martin
Bella has always had a sunny outlook and caring nature, despite recently falling on hard times. When she finds a handsome homeless man on her doorstep, her kind heart tells her she must help him. So, she invites Isaac into her cottage and into her life in ways she could never have imagined…

But Isaac is not what he seems. He’s keeping a huge secret from Bella, yet he never expected to fall for this open, generous and charming woman.

Bella can’t ignore the chemistry between her and Isaac, but she’s had her trust badly broken in her past. Will she run when she learns the truth about Isaac, or will he be the one man who can help Bella believe in love again?

Curves, Kisses and Chocolate Ice Cream by Sue Watson
Dani's on a mission to get her life back on track by the end of the Summer. Running, rowing, aerobics and more, but perhaps all she needs are sweet treats and a second chance?

Twenty years ago, Dani fled Appledore with a broken-heart and a suitcase full of shattered dreams. Only now is she brave enough to put her past behind her and return for a summer selling homemade ice-cream and getting fit by doing sit-ups by the sea. 

But the new-look cafe is filled with old memories of Jude, her teenage sweetheart-turned-sour. She thinks of him every time she swirls warm sauce onto a "chocolate-bockaglory" and even with the help of Chris, her gorgeous personal trainer, the urge to break her diet is everywhere she turns. 

When Jude makes an appearance at the cafe on the eve of Dani's birthday party, history threatens to repeat itself. Is Dani strong enough to say no? And is the love she's been longing for much closer than she thinks?

A Wedding in Italy by Tilly Tennant
Sun, spaghetti and sparkling prosecco. When it comes to finding love, there’s no place like Rome… 

Kate is living the dream with her gorgeous boyfriend Alessandro in his native city, but the reality is sometimes a little less romantic than she’d hoped. Every day in her new home is a fight against leaking pipes, her cantankerous landlord and her less-than-perfect grasp of the Italian lingo. 

All around her there is talk of weddings, but when a secret from her past is thrust out into the open, Kate must fight to prove to Alessandro’s Mamma – and the rest of his formidable family – that she truly is Italian marriage material. 

With the women in Alessandro’s life on a mission to break them apart, the cracks begin to show and Kate starts to question if Alessandro really is the man of her dreams. Can love and the city of romance conquer all, or is that just a fairy-tale?

BOOK REVIEW: My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

Having been a fan of Jane Fallon's novels for years (ever since Getting Rid of Matthew), I've excitedly awaited each new book. Jane's novels are the perfect combination of drama, intrigue and humour, and her latest offering, My Sweet Revenge, is no different.

When Paula discovers that her husband Robert is cheating on her with his co-worker, naturally she's heartbroken. Not only had they been married for years, but Paula had given up her dreams of acting when their daughter came along, taking a backstage role in life taking care of the family and working a regular job in a cake shop while Rob took the spotlight. Only to have it thrown back in her face.

Robert is one of the country's most beloved actors, on hit TV drama Farmer Giles. A heartthrob for the nation's ladies. And Paula's determined not to let him get away with his cheating ways.

But she's not going to leave him. Dumping him for cheating with his attractive co-star Saskia would provide the perfect escape route for Robert, and Paula doesn't want to make it easy for him. In fact, she wants to make it as difficult as possible.

So Paula hatches a plan to turn herself into the perfect wife. The first step? To get fit again. Her once-content life had led her to neglect her weight, but now she wants the excess fat gone. She turns to exercise, hiring a personal trainer to get her back into shape and restore her lost confidence. She also becomes more attentive, suddenly choosing to attend the TV parties and events she's always avoided - much to Robert's surprise (and horror). As Paula works on improving herself, she's also plotting ways to make Robert pay.

Starting with his career...

This is where I'm going to stop, because I feel that if I continue, I'll be spoiling some of the great twists and moments that prevail later in this novel. However, I will say that this is a fantastic book, and one that I found impossible to put down. Once I was into Paula's plan, there was no going back.

(Plus, I'm a big fan of revenge stories, and in My Sweet Revenge, it's served perfectly. Well, the title says it all!)

It has a wonderful plot, which made me think, at the start, 'this could so be a recipe for disaster...'. But it kept me hooked. Paula is a great character who I admired from the beginning. She isn't a typical 'wronged woman'; she goes about her plan in the best way possible. Not willing to be treated badly any longer, Paula is calm, witty, relatable, sensible, and determined, taking the needs of her family into account before she acts.

My Sweet Revenge is a great read - it's fast-paced, full of drama and some unexpected twists! It's probably my favourite of Jane Fallon's books so far.

Rating: 5/5

BOOK REVIEW: The Bluebell Bunting Society by Poppy Dolan

The Bluebell Bunting Society is the latest novel from Poppy Dolan, author of The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp and There's More to Life Than Cupcakes. And it's a perfect read for spring!

Connie is the caretaker of Bluebell Hall, an old building in the little village of Hazelhurst. Returning to her rural roots wasn't exactly Connie's plan, but after the death of her much-loved grandmother, taking the reins of Bluebell Hall, Gran's passion, was a must. Taking care of the Hall, a piece of Hazelhurst's history, is a job that's been handed down through the generations, making it a staple of village life for the residents, as well as the Bluebells (Hazelhursts's version of the Brownies!)

But it's in dire need of TLC. Not to mention the villagers have lost interest in the Hall, with its dodgy ceiling, mould, and general state of disrepair. When Connie's latest efforts fail to entice the yummy mummies of the village, it's time to go back to the drawing board. And fast.

When the loyal ladies of Bluebell Hall hear that property developers are intent on taking over the building, it's time to come up with a plan to try and save it. All they need to do is make Bluebell Hall a cherished village venue again. But it's easier said than done.

That is, until Connie comes up with a crafty idea...

The Bluebell Bunting Society is a sweet, charming story guaranteed to make you smile. I'll be completely honest - this is not the kind of book I'd usually opt for as on first glance, it seemed a bit too sugary sweet for my liking! But I decided to give it a try, and I'm glad I did, as it's a lovely novel, and one perfect to lift your spirits. It was nice to step away from the city tales and venture into Hazelhurst instead for some funny antics, a bit of romance, and best of all, some community spirit!

Rating: 5/5

BLOG TOUR: The Bluebell Bunting Society by Poppy Dolan - Extract!

The Bluebell Bunting Society is the brand new novel from Poppy Dolan. Set in a little village, the book focuses on Connie, caretaker of the village's Bluebell Hall. Connie and her friends find themselves up against property developers who are threatening to take over the Hall, which is not only a piece of Hazelhurst history, but also meant a lot to Connie's much-loved Gran.

As part of Poppy's blog tour, here's an extract of the lovely new book!

The Bluebell Bunting Society

A familiar face gives me a big shock as I’m waiting for the class to show up. ‘Susannah! You’re here!’

‘Of course I am, dear.’ She smooths her charcoal grey pencil skirt underneath her and sits on a plastic stacking chair. ‘I’ve brought my own sewing kit, to boot.’

‘But you said hells bells to it!’

She blinks coolly at me. ‘No, Constance. You asked me what Rosemarie would have said, and I told you. But I will support whatever you do to meet new people, and try new things.’

‘For the good of the Hall.’

‘Yes, that too. Besides, I remember your GCSEs, and that apron. I thought you might need some help.’

Why hadn’t I thought of it before? Susannah was a card-carrying old lady with all the handicraft skill that went with it – she’d be a whiz on Gran’s machines and could make sure I wasn’t using bias binding instead of elastic, as I had in my first abysmal attempt.

‘Well, I’m very happy to have you here. Can I get you tea while we wait for the others? I have five definites and I hope some drop-ins. More next week if it all goes to plan and Flip can help spread the word.’

As I’m boiling the kettle for two teas, I hear our PR guru clatter in lightly on heels, put down something with a clunk (I’m guessing her sewing machine) and launch into a conversation with Susannah about how she started sewing. She’s running through the courses she’s taken, from adult evening classes to an intensive week at the WI college, as I come back in with the drinks. I had no idea such a place existed but it sounds pretty cool. ‘My mum absolutely hated anything close to a domestic science!’ she hoots. ‘But in her defence, she was a radical. It just screamed oppression and stupefaction to her. To me, it just means half an hour of headspace and clothes that actually fit my breasts!’

Neither of us can now help but look at Flip’s impressive bosoms, clad in what must be a hand-knitted pea-green cardigan.

She’s thundering on, really enjoying her subject. I just get the impression Flip enjoys everything to the maximum, and I love that about a person. Gran used to say ‘some people are drains and some people are radiators. The drains just suck up everything good that comes their way and all they do is give back a bad feeling in return. But radiators make a place more comforting, they make people feel warm and welcome. Some people can’t help being drains but it doesn’t mean you have to fill your house with them.’

I tune back into Flip’s chatter. ‘But any skills women can teach women are a joy, and an essential part of how we shore up the generational relationships, stay strong as a community, share our strengths and cover our weaknesses. That’s why I was so keen to join the WI when I moved here. And when it comes to sewing, well, my daughter Melody and I might row about the Wi-Fi code – I reset every day at 10 p.m.,’ she nods conspiratorially, ‘but we can come together over making her a prom dress from scratch. And it’s much cheaper to boot!’ Cackle cackle.

‘There is something special about being in the company of women, almost sacred.’ Susannah nods.

And that’s just when Dominic arrives.


Poppy Dolan lives in Berkshire with her husband. She's a near-obsessive baker and a keen crafter, so on a typical weekend can be found moving between the haberdashery and kitchenware floors of a department store, adding to her birthday wish list. She has written three novels: The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp, There's More to Life than Cupcakes and most recently The Bluebell Bunting Society. The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp made it into the Amazon top 100 bestseller chart, so clearly someone other than her mum must have read it. She's currently working on her fourth novel – it's about friends, siblings and crafty things – and drinking far too much tea.

UNCOVERED PICKS: Five April Releases

It's a new month! Spring is here, and the sun is out (at the moment, anyway!) There's nothing better than relaxing with a drink and a good book, so here's a selection of five new women's fiction releases for April.

A Life Without You by Shari Low
30 year old Dee Harper and her husband, Joe, are blissfully happy. Every day she makes her loyal parents Val & Don incredibly proud. Jen has been her best friend and 'adopted sister' since their days of teenage crushes, bad 90's make-up and huge hair. They are just like any other group of family and friends, living life, getting by with equal measures of love and laughter. Until one day everything changes. 

Dee is gone, killed by a reckless driver, leaving the people she loved to deal with their grief in different ways. A marriage is rocked as a parent becomes consumed with seeking justice. A husband struggles to accept the loss of his wife and their future. And a friend discovers that there were shocking secrets that went unshared. But all of them have to learn that the only way forward is to let go of the past.

The Woman Who Met Her Match by Fiona Gibson
What if your first love came back on the scene...30 years later?

After yet another disaster, Lorrie is calling time on online dating. She might be single in her forties, but she’s got a good job, wonderful children and she’s happy. This, Lorrie decides, is going to have to be enough.

That is, until she receives a very unexpected request from France. Antoine Rousseau, who had once turned a lonely French exchange trip into a summer of romance, wants to see her – after thirty years.
But Lorrie is a responsible woman. She can’t exactly run off to Nice with the man who broke her teenage heart...can she?

Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland
This bookshop keeps many secrets...

Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never show you.

Into her refuge - the York book emporium where she works - come a poet, a lover, a friend, and three mysterious deliveries, each of which stirs unsettling memories.

Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past and she can't hide any longer. She must decide who around her she can trust. Can she find the courage to right a heartbreaking wrong? And will she ever find the words to tell her own story?

It's time to turn the pages of her past...

Lost and Found by Danielle Ryan
Can true love prevail when the real and online world collide? Melissa Riva works in Milan as a university researcher. After buying an iPad at auction, she finds it contains files belonging to its previous owner. Fascinated by the beautiful photographs of romantic landscapes and views of the city, she starts her search for the previous owner. Locating him through Facebook, Melissa can't resist contacting him. Melissa and Riccardo begin chatting online. Both of them becoming increasingly dependent on this strange relationship, though acutely aware that it's only likely to remain a virtual one. But when real life bursts in on their digital world, they can't resist revealing their true feelings...

The Cows by Dawn O'Porter
COW [n.]
A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

Tara, Cam and Stella are strangers living their own lives as best they can – though when society’s screaming you should live life one way, it can be hard to like what you see in the mirror.

When an extraordinary event ties invisible bonds of friendship between them, one woman’s catastrophe becomes another’s inspiration, and a life lesson to all.

Sometimes it’s ok not to follow the herd.

The Cows is a powerful novel about three women – judging each other, but also themselves. In all the noise of modern life, they need to find their own voice.