23 May 2014

Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway: The Second Time I Saw You by Pippa Croft

It's the beginning of a new term at Wyckham College, Oxford, and a fresh start for Lauren Cusack. Her fingers were badly burnt when a whirlwind romance with gorgeous English aristocrat, Alexander Hunt, became too hot to handle - and now she's determined to keep her distance.

Her resolve is shaken when Alexander appears on her doorstep - he's been completely torn apart by some devastating news. Lauren knows that she should stay away, but their chemistry is undeniable and she soon finds herself back in Alexander's arms.

Can Lauren handle the drama that comes with Alexander Hunt? Or will she have to sacrifice the most exhilarating passion she's ever known...


5 Words: Passion, attraction, lust, loss, heartbreak.

I fell in love with Lauren and Alexander in the first book and my love for them continues.

The Second Time I Saw You starts on a rather sad note, but do not let that put you off.

Theirs is a passionate story filled with conflict and arseholes on all sides. It's addictive, compelling, sexy, and just as Lauren and Alexander can't get enough of each other, I can't get enough of them. This is the book I stayed up extra late to read and woke up extra early to continue.

I'll be honest, together they are a bit of a train-wreck, as bad as they are good for each other. But this is as good as a guilty pleasure will ever get, and when it's so hot who can complain?

I love Immy and Emma, even though they aren't the main characters. They compliment Lauren and Alexander so well.

I absolutely love to hate Rafe and Valentina. The drama and bitchiness is immense. Even if Rafe does make me feel physically sick!

I would definitely say you should read this series in order. There is so much that goes on in each book that you'll get so much more out of it. Plus, the passion just builds and builds. I'd call this New Adult meets Downton Abbey sexiness. Yum.

I'm itching for the second book already!


GIVEAWAY



19 May 2014

Book Tour Review & Giveaway: In The Mirror Kaira Rouda

If you knew you may die soon, what choices would you make?

In the Mirror is the story of Jennifer Benson, a woman who seems to have it all. Diagnosed with cancer, she enters an experimental treatment facility to tackle her disease the same way she tackled her life - head on. But while she's busy fighting for a cure, running her

business, planning a party, staying connected with her kids, and trying to keep her sanity, she ignores her own intuition and warnings from others and reignites an old relationship best left behind.

If you knew you might die, what choices would you make? How would it affect your marriage? How would you live each day? And how would you say no to the one who got away?


5 Words: Cancer, hope, shocking, emotional, why?

I don't know if I will ever be in the right frame of mine to read a "cancer book" as there's just something which is so heart-breaking right from the start. I think it's because the characters are just all quite wonderful. Jennifer Benson in In The Mirror was no exception, and I loved her.

Jennifer was such a strong character all of the way through the book, even when it didn't seem that way on the surface. Sure, she could be a little selfish and spend a lot of time dwelling on the past, but these were faults that made her character all the more strong.

This book made me wonder WHY? Why me, you, him, her, now, then, ever... Why do bad things happen to good people and the shittiest people seem to get off scot-free? It's also very much about looking in the mirror, reflecting on your past.

I think that the ending could have been better - it was the tiniest bit of a let down after the rest of the book.

GIVEAWAY


15 May 2014

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Closing In by Sue Fortin

Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn?

Helen has had to leave everything she’s ever known behind; her home, her family, even her own name.

Now, returning to the UK as Ellen Newman, she moves to a small coastal village, working as a nanny for Donovan, a criminal psychologist. Attractive, caring and protective, this single father and his sweet daughter are a world away from Ellen’s past. She thinks she’s escaped. She thinks she’s safe.

But something is wrong. Strange incidents begin to plague her new family, and their house of calm is about to become one of suspicion and fear. Who can be trusted? Who is the target? Who is closing in?


5 Words: Tense, shocking, mysterious, deceit, stalker.

I'm not sure what I expected when I started this book, but what I read was very different. This is one of those books you just can't put down, where you have to keep turning the pages to find out what's going to happen next.

This is a story that twists and turns, and I was always second guessing myself at who this stalker was and even if there was one. It's very subtle and plays on your mind. It's a mysterious thriller that uses your own doubt to build and build the story. What's true and what isn't?

Helen/Ellen is a great character - she's just unreliable enough that you question absolutely everything about her, but not so much that you can't empathise and relate to her. And little Isobel is a delightful child. If only all little kids were so lovely!

That ending was so unexpected and dramatic. There were little signs after you reached half-way, but I still didn't quite anticipate everything panning out as it did. I liked how it all came together.

This is a book that sets your pulse racing and mind whirring. It's perfect for a rainy day when you don't want something too up-beat which still has little notes of happy.

GIVEAWAY

There is a giveaway with this tour. Yaaay! You could win an e-copy of Closing In, a £5/$10 Amazon gift card and a cute hand-crafted tote bag.

09 May 2014

Blog Tour Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: A Moral Dilemma by Zara Kingsley

Think You'd Never Date A Married Man..? Think Again!

Rebecca Hardy wasn't a naturally deceptive person, though she took quite well to the art of deception. Too well perhaps. She liked to think of it as helping someone out. Female camaraderie and all that. But it had all gone too far. She gone too far. She had, after all, ruined someone's life. Hadn't she?

Having theatrically caught her boyfriend cheating, Rebecca, convinced she was born in the wrong era, has had it with these modern day men. She has even less regard for these immoral modern day women (of which she highly suspects her best female friend Abigail is one) who tend to prey on men in committed relationships. What is wrong with them?! Don't they care that they're breaking hearts and destroying lives?! Rebecca, with her high morals and family values, would never even consider dating a married man. Which is exactly why, it is of no surprise her friends are at serious odds, when Rebecca finds herself doing exactly that. Dating a married man... Albeit, at the fervent request of his wife; the notorious Isabella Coombs.


5 Words: Betrayal, beauty, revenge, girl power.

This book was all about girl power to me. It was about catching that lying, cheating toe-rag, hitting rock bottom, and then finding that the only way is up.

I really enjoyed reading Rebecca. She was very formal, quite old fashioned really, but it worked. She was meant to be like that, slightly stuffy, dated and very traditional in her mannerisms and attitude. I loved her clean approach to life and life-style. I loved how she interacted with her friends too. This was one trio of girls who you just knew would end up as best friends forever, no matter what happened and what differences they had.

I loved how funny this book was. It was the kind of book that you can't read on the bus because you'll laugh out loud or snort and get funny looks from everyone. Or maybe you should, you'd get two whole seats to yourself...

This had a very summery feel to it, and is a perfect beach read. It's light but not too light, and it makes you think more than you'd expect it to. I read it during a few warm spring days and very much enjoyed it.

Even the title makes you think. What is immoral anyway?

EXCERPT 

Chapter One

I had to do it. He’d left me with no other conceivable choice. He seemed intent on driving me crazy, turning me into a dithering, pathetic, neurotic maniac. The lying toe-rag!! 
“Becky, sweetie,” he would gently croon, whenever I’d mention the distinct scent of Dior about him. “It’s all in your imagination. You know you’re the only one for me.” Then more vigorously, “What the bloody hell is wrong with you!” when confronted with the unmistakable evidence of lippie on his shirt collar. “You really are going stark raving mad.” And I thought I was. For a while. His reverse psychology skills were second to none. So I made a decision to either prove myself sane, or allow myself to be declared insane! I set about achieving mission (according-to-him) impossible, and catch him in the act. 
I’d always fancied myself as a bit of an actress. I was still dancing around my bedroom at home, singing merrily into the hairbrush when I was sixteen years old! Yes, Annie had definitely left its mark on me. In fact, after watching that film, for the remainder of my childhood, I had wanted to be Annie (without the ginger hair and freckles, of course). I desperately wanted to be rescued by Mr Squillion Billion Dollar Man and have a dog called Rufus. Needless to say I never got rescued – but I definitely ended up with the dog. His name is Jeremy. And today I caught him cheating. So tonight, I’m kicking his lying toe-rag arse out of our apartment. 
OK, I say I caught him cheating; well he wasn’t actually in the full throes of fornication or anything like that. It was more of a…foreplay situation, which in my world still counts. So how did I catch him? Well, like I said, I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of an actress, so; black bobbed wig, reading glasses, camcorder – hired not bought – even less make-up than usual, i.e. basically none, so as not to draw attention to myself, and a shot of brandy (YUK) for Dutch courage. 
Wheelers, was an average enough, discreet British pub, on an average enough discreet City street, and was also Jeremy’s choice location for a not so discreet illicit tryst. 
“Look, would you be ordering something or not lass?” the barman asked me with a slight Irish accent. 
Shoo shoo shoo I had wanted to say, but for fear of him drawing any more attention to me, and in light of the fact that he was actually blocking my view of Jeremy and Miss Thingy, I quickly deduced that I had in fact better order something. “Coke please,” I snapped off, throwing down a fiver. 
“Diet or regular?” 
Oh for chrissakes, will you just move! Aargh! “Regular!” 
“Ice?” 
“No!” rolling my eyes. He actually seemed to be enjoying this little exchange. Maybe he knew Jeremy and knew what both he and I were up to?! No. Not possible. 
“Lemon?” 
“Look, can you get me a coke or not?” I hissed. 
“OK, OK, keep yer knickers on,” he said smiling cheekily and finally turned to go get me a drink. I quickly realigned myself to get a better view over the bar and through the window to the courtyard where Jeremy, the bastard, and Thingy were sitting extremely close to each other and laughing easily at this point. Still not incriminating evidence, but the night was young. I saw Jeremy lean into her and started talking into her ear. I would’ve said ‘whispering’ but he didn’t know how to whisper sweet nothings at the best of times let alone after he’d had a few, which by the way his face was flushed and his tie, usually perfectly positioned, was loosened and off centre, he obviously had. 
“There you go now. Coke and change,” said the barman. I ignored him and continued fidgeting with my camcorder, hidden behind by handbag, whilst still keeping a sharp eye on the fornicators. “Pity you don’t get to catch the conversation with those things from a distance.” 
“Excuse me?!” 
“You need to get up real close to them to record conversation.” 
“I haven’t the foggiest idea what you’re talking about,” I said turning beetroot, and started to scuffle about with the camcorder, desperately trying to stuff it back into my bag. 
“Oh,” he leaned back comfortably against the bar, folded up his arms and nodded toward Jeremy and Thingy. “I thought for a sec you were spying on that pair.” 
“I beg your pardon?!” trying my best to sound alarmed but at the same time careful not to draw any attention to myself… 
“Oh, it’s no skin off my nose either way,” he said, “but let’s assume you were spying on that pair.” 
“Which I am most definitely not!” I said furiously, whilst still trying to shove my camcorder back into my bag, but what, with my current state of panic and the fact that every time my head bent down my wig was starting to slip forward, I couldn’t quite manage it. 
“Ah, but, if you were, you’d be doing it all wrong.” I looked up at him from under the fringe of my wig. “You’re too far away to even know what’s going on.” 
“As I’ve already told you, I am not spying on anyone. But IF I were, I am able to see quite clearly exactly what’s going on.” 
“Ah jaysus, you can’t tell a thing from what you see. They could just be having a great crack, with nothin’ in it at all.” 
“Oh he’s having a crack all right.” I slumped on the bar, completely fed up, with the camcorder sticking out recklessly from my bag. I’d given up trying to tuck it away, just as I’d given up trying to film them. He was right of course. The barman. The footage I’d so painstakingly gathered proved nothing at all. Jeremy would be able to talk his way out of this one in a nano-second, and I knew that I’d believe whatever he would tell me, as per usual, because although I had doubts, many, many doubts, I never ever had any real concrete evidence of any disloyalty. We watched them silently for a few seconds, but when Jeremy slipped his hand up Miss Thingy’s skirt and started talking into her ear again, I just squeezed my eyes shut so I wouldn’t have to see, and so the barman couldn’t see the tears of humiliation that were starting to well up. 
“Look, just pass it here,” he said reaching out his hand to me. 
“What?” 
“The camcorder. I’ll get up close and record what they’re saying for yer.” I gave an incredulous stare and opened my mouth to say something, then as if on autopilot, I handed him the camcorder. “Ah, you can thank me later,” he said with a wink. And was off. Headed in their direction with the camcorder hidden underneath a bar towel on a tray. My heart started hammering against my ribcage and I wanted to dive under the bar and hide as he got to their table and started hovering, collecting glasses, wiping, and re-placing ashtrays. I half expected Jeremy to look up and wave at me but he didn’t even notice the barman floating around. Too engrossed in impressing Miss Thingy, which by the way she was giggling and batting her false eye lashes at each word he uttered, seemed easy enough to do. I looked at her. She was the complete opposite to me in every sense. Blonde, curvaceous, overly made up. She looked around twenty-eight but was probably twenty-four, whereas I may look twenty-four but am actually twenty-eight. She wasn’t so special. Fake hair, fake tits, fake tan. She was exactly the kind of girl that Jeremy would frequently refer to as “just a bit of fluff”. He would never betray me with just a bit of fluff… Would he? All of a sudden I knew that I did not want to know the answer to that question. I realised that I have never ever really wanted to know. I could live with my doubts. We had a good life together. He did love me, (albeit in his own bizarre way), and never made me feel anything other than number one…at least whilst he was in my presence. But that was OK. I could deal with that. What, I suddenly realised, I could not deal with, and more importantly did not want to deal with, was the actual factual knowledge that Jeremy, the man with whom I have built a wonderful life with and am expecting to grow graciously old with, would cheat on me. Because unlike a doubt which I can quite simply cast away to the back of my mind and allow it to gather cobwebs, a ‘fact’ would be a different matter altogether. A ‘fact’, a real life evidential fact, would most definitely need to be addressed. I felt a sudden stab of horror at that realisation; and started flapping my hands about like a maniac trying to catch the barman’s attention. 
“Come Back! Come Back!” I mouthed in animation, but he just ignored me and moved to the other side of the table so he was standing right beside Jeremy as he moved in for another close-up with Miss Thingy. I watched the barman, wondering if he could hear what they were saying, and I swear I practically expired when I saw him shake a heavy head in disbelief. 
The barman looked at me with an unfortunately sombre face as he came back to the bar. “Er, look lass, it’s none of my business…but is he your fella?” 
“Yes. He is my boyfriend,” I said indignantly, and as he looked down with tight lips, I added with upturned chin, “Of several years in fact.” 
“Right. Well…maybe you don’t really want to be listening to what’s on here then.” He tapped the camcorder and gave me a sympathetic look that knocked the wind out of me. He felt sorry for me. And he felt sorry for me because of what he’d heard Jeremy say to Miss Thingy? I inhaled deeply and stared at him defiantly, though I’m not sure why, as it really wasn’t his fault my boyfriend was a lying cheating toe-rag. 
“It’s my camcorder and I shall bloody well listen to it if I so choose.” I feigned calmness as I placed the evidential camcorder into my bag and hopped down off the bar stool. 
“You might want to have a…friend…come sit with you as you watch it though.” I swallowed hard and tried blinking really fast, but it was already too late. One must always be grateful for the small mercies in life, I said to myself, thinking at least I wouldn’t end up with panda eyes as there was no mascara to smudge. I nodded my thanks to the barman and turned to leave, but not before taking one last look at the joyful Jeremy, now nestling into Thingy’s neck. Jeremy. Humph. The love of my life.

GIVEAWAY


08 May 2014

Blog Tour Review: Diamonds In the Sky by MA Harper

DIAMONDS, LOVE, AND UFOS... 

When struggling artist/shoe clerk Caddy Keyhoe stumbles across what may be a lost and untraceable diamond, her first reaction is down-to-earth: Maybe I can sell it. But how odd to be finding it in the gutter now, after last night’s dream of a UFO scattering bright gemstones. Research via Google leads her to the website of melancholy Alec Rix, semi-failed writer and newly-minted UFO authority—courtesy of his published interview with octogenarian Hatchell T. Beckham Sr., retired from farming and strangely eager to discredit the new crop circle on the Beckham property. The crop circle perpetrated by a neighborhood hoaxer. Or by those blazing diamond-shaped UFOs that just about everybody in Hopkins, South Carolina—except old Hatch—claims to have seen…? 

As Caddy’s art career takes a magical turn for the stratosphere, Alec’s friendship with Hatch deepens through the old farmer’s tale of his long-lost family. Could there be a book in this? the blocked author has to wonder. But when pursuit of the story sends him blundering into radiant Caddy on the biggest night of her life, priorities immediately change. Because what can it really mean, to “follow a star”? And what does Hawaii have to do with it? 


5 Words: Aliens! Not what I expected.

This was not at all what I expected. When I think aliens, I think "Oh, god. No thank you." But I decided to take a chance on this book and I'm very glad I did. It may even have changed my opinions about aliens in books.

When I started this book it was with Rihanna's song playing over and over in my head. And it kinda weirdly fit with the story, even if I was sick of the sound of it on repeat, a niggling little ear-worm which just wouldn't go.

This felt like such a summery book. It took me up and away from the kinda bad day I was having and made me smile (despite the ear-worm). I absolutely loved the narrative style, it was both comfortable and comforting to read.

I loved how cynical Caddy was. She was wry and dry and snarky and I immediately fell in love with her and her quirky habits. She was a real girl and I loved reading her parts the most. 

That's not to say that I didn't like Alec, it's just that he wasn't such a bright character.

I would say to take a chance and pick this up. It's worth it. It's magical and moving, but so subtle in its delivery. A guaranteed smile.

Blog Tour Guest Post: Heiress, P.I. by Amanda Mahan

Meet Lucy Hansen. She’s the richest teenager in the world – and possibly the shyest. She doesn’t flash her business to the paparazzi as she’s getting out of limos or send selfies while smoking salvia. No, Lucy hides behind her frizzy bangs, environmental causes and organic hemp-blend sweats. Her one true friend (and secret crush) Holden is the poorest kid in Beverly Hills – and probably the scrappiest. He interns for a famous private investigator, and when he asks Lucy to help him crack a case, her life turns from tame to tabloid, from glum to glam, from private to private eye. And when the trail leads directly to her hotel magnate father, it’s up to Lucy to solve the case by infiltrating Hollywood’s most elite and unwelcoming club: Celebutantes. Teens who are famous for, well… being famous. 

Along the way, “LuHan” endures wardrobe malfunctions, fake romances, compromising videos-turned-YouTube hits, unflattering mug shots and – worst of all – a makeover. Now Lucy has to save her father, dodge the paparazzi, and keep her IRL ID on the DL – all while maybe, almost, possibly having her first real kiss. 



Below is a guest post by author Amanda Mahan about how the whole story came about. Enjoy!

Heiress, P.I. – Conception Story



Heiress, P.I. is a young adult contemporary novel about the richest teen in the world getting made over and going under cover to solve a mystery. The concept is based on a bit of truth, which was stranger than fiction until it became fiction…

It started with Paris Hilton – the literary muse of all great writers, right? I’m pretty sure Michael Chabon credited her for “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” and Dave Eggers thanked her for inspiring “Zeitoun.” (Or not.) But she actually did inspire me to write “Heiress, P.I.”

A few years ago I read a story about how she gave a tip to the police that helped them solve a crime. Seriously, Paris Hilton – star of such notable films as “sex tape with Rick Salomon” – helped the police? A lot went through my head. How? Why? And seriously, how? Isn’t she, kind of… not the brightest rhinestone in the tiara?

The second thing that went through my mind was “what if”? Wouldn’t it be funny – and interesting – if in fact Ms. Hilton was actually brilliant and her whole party-girl, ditzy celebutante persona was just an act? Or better yet, a ruse. That was the first seed for “Heiress, P.I.”: what if the richest girl in the world had to go undercover to solve a mystery?

I should back up a bit though and say that I love tabloids. The trashier the better. Not alien-discovered-in-Tennessee-tree-house trashy, but the kind filled with Hollywood gossip. I know they completely make up stories and quote paparazzi as the “observers” with the kind of inside knowledge that can only come from stalking someone. I know most of it is fiction. I don’t care. It’s an escape. (Do I kind of hate myself for loving it? Yes, but only in the same way I hate myself after eating too much Halloween candy. I love me some Butterfingers and an InTouch.)

So I started to do “research” by reading all the tabloids and looking for stories that would work with my premise. (Note: I hesitate to even use the word “research” because how can what I did compare to say, the kind of research that Laura Hillenbrand did for “Unbroken”? It can’t.) But I filtered through the trash for gems and wondered what could be a reason for a wardrobe malfunction? Or a DUI? Or even a dreaded sex tape. I should also add that Paris was just the start of my research. A whole crop of delightful It Girls were courteous enough to get into some hot jams that really helped my story line. (Thanks gals!)

I had my premise, but then I needed to set the stage. There are basically two main places that super rich people live in America: New York and Los Angeles. Lucy had to be a bit sheltered and naïve and I felt like there was no way she could be a New Yorker. Having been born in New York I can tell you that she would’ve set any misunderstanding or confusion straight immediately (and somewhat abruptly) and the novel would’ve been over in five pages. Los Angeles it is! I remembered reading a story about the largest home in the U.S., which was owned by the parents of Tori

Spelling (whom I love) and that seemed like a fun setting that could potentially drive some humor. Once I had those key elements, I plotted it out, wrote and wrote and wrote, edited and edited and edited and finally published it. Thankfully there is a new batch of girls who are famous-for-being-famous and doing all kinds of outrageous things – just in time for the sequel.

02 May 2014

Blog Tour Review: Take Me Home by Daniela Sacerdoti


Inary Monteith’s life is at a crossroads. After a stolen night with her close friend Alex, she’s just broken his heart by telling him it was all a terrible mistake. Then she has to rush home from London to the Scottish Highlands when her little sister’s illness suddenly worsens – and in returning she must confront the painful memories she has been trying so hard to escape.

Back home, things become more complicated than she could ever have imagined. There’s her sister’s illness, her hostile brother, a smug ex she never wants to see again and her conflicted feelings about Alex in London and a handsome American she meets in Glen Avich. On top of that, she mysteriously loses her voice but regains a strange gift from her childhood – a sixth sense that runs in her family. And when a voice from the past keeps repeating, ‘Take me home’, she discovers a mystery that she knows she must unlock to set herself free.

Take Me Home is a beautiful story of love, loss, discovering one’s true abilities and, above all, never forgetting who you really are.


5 Words: heartbreak, regret, love, family, magic.

This was a delight to read, even if it did leave me in tears more than once. It was subtle and surprising, and even if it did make me cry and gave me the chills, it also cheered me up. I felt like it lightened my soul (oh no, I'm getting all melodramatic!) and I loved the style of writing, it was almost lyrical.

The narrative is split in to three and I really enjoyed seeing things from different perspectives. It was done really well and each character had their own voice, easily distinguishable. Inary was of course my favourite, but not only because she was the main character. I could really relate to her and understand her, and I really felt for her.

Take Me Home does have some clichés, but in a good way.

At first I wasn't so sure about the whole "I see dead people" thing, but I grew to anticipate those moments as they were so beautifully written.

This is a story about heartbreak and love and finding your home.

GIVEAWAY