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27 January 2014

Cover Reveal - The Guestbook by Holly Martin

Welcome to Willow Cottage – throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze and make yourself completely at home. Oh, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook!

As landlady of Willow Cottage, the young widow Annie Butterworth is always on hand with tea, sympathy or strong Norfolk cider - whatever her colourful array of guests require.  A flick through the messages in the leather-bound cottage guestbook gives a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of everyone who passes through her doors.

This includes Annie herself - especially now celebrity crime writer Oliver Black, is back in town. He might grace the covers of gossip magazines with a different glamorous supermodel draped on his arm every week, but to Annie, he’s always just been Olly, the man who Annie shared her first kiss with.

Through the pages of the Guestbook Annie and Olly, along with all the guests that arrive at the seaside retreat, struggle with love, loss, mystery, joy, happiness, guilt…and the odd spot of naked rambling! 

Forget sending postcards saying 'wish you were here' - one visit to Willow Cottage and you’ll wish you could stay forever.

The Guestbook is out on Valentines Day (14 February 2014) but you can pre-order it now. I have to admit to being very impressed by what I've read from Carina so far - it was a brave but marvellous step from Harlequin.

The Guestbook seems like a very delightful story - look out for my review when I get my hands on a copy!

25 January 2014

Review, Excerpt and GIVEAWAY - London Falling T.A. Foster

It’s London’s senior year and she only needs one class to graduate. She just didn’t expect her final assignment: fall in love.

Communication 224 has a reputation for giving out the most unique projects of the semester. When London James and Beau Anderson signed up for the class they had no idea they would be paired up together, much less spend an entire semester working on their final grade.

Professor Garcia tasks them to produce a study on the hit reality show, Love Match, a show about strangers falling in love on over the top dates. London and Beau decide to debunk the popular show’s fantasy portrayal of romance. Determined they can date the entire semester and not fall for each other, the classmates share blogs about their dates and start a website where everyone can follow their dating experiment. Resisting their growing attraction for one another is harder than they thought.  

London is in for the toughest class of her college career. The headstrong and success-driven student discovers there might be more important things in life than an A.

5 Words: Fiesty, love, laughs, reality, conflict.

I may be taking part in the tour, but I purchased this book as I wasn't one of the super-lucky bloggers to receive a copy and I had to read it. I mean, look at that synopsis. And how glad I am that I did. I mean, the kindle copy is less than £2! That's ridiculously cheap and amazingly good value. The paperback comes in at £7.89 which is cheaper than my last paper-back read. Worth every penny.

I'm often a bit hit-and-miss with New Adult - unfortunately it's usually a miss. But London Falling has somewhat redeemed New Adult books in my eyes. I really really enjoyed this read. I had a huge smile on my face the whole time I was reading and didn't want it to end. This is a New Adult which really works!

London Falling is a sweet and slightly steamy romance which slowly and subtly grows and changes as the relationships between the characters develop. It's a very clever story which plays on the infatuation most people have with reality TV and goes some way to exploring how real it is. I liked that a lot. There are sparks and fireworks and misunderstandings and mind-blowing kisses.

I have to admit, at first I was like "London? Seriously?" and thinking I was going to have another America Singer on my hands. But London is a fantastically complex character and I absolutely loved everything about her. Apart from her obsession with moving to LA and becoming a movie star.

I would love to read more about London and Beau, but failing that I know I'll read anything that TA Foster releases in the future.

Below is an excerpt which was actually one of my favourite parts of the book - it had me laughing out loud just with the memories of earlier scenes. I think this little snippet really shows what London Falling is all about. Make sure you check out Excerpt's 1 and 2 as well, I've included links to them so you can find them easily.

Excerpt 1   |   Excerpt 2
Excerpt 3

We pushed on the chain-link gate and walked into the concrete corridor. It was eerie how quiet the complex was at night. 
“What part of Victoria’s date is this?” Beau asked over my shoulder. 
I turned to face him. “This isn’t a Love Match date. This is our date.” He grinned at me; he was catching on. “Follow me.” 
In less than two months, we would be walking these same stairs and taking our seats in the bleachers for graduation. Tonight, I didn’t want to think about what was going to happen in May. I only wanted to be with Beau. 
We took the steps down to the field level and passed through the manicured hedges that bordered the football field. I read the numbered lines running across the grass until we reached the center. Before I picked Beau up tonight, I had stashed a small blanket in my bag just for this moment. I retrieved the blanket and pressed the corners, flattening it into the fifty-yard line. 
“Last time I tried this, the guard at Gimghoul Castle ran us off. What do you think the chances are we can actually sit here on the fifty-yard line and do some stargazing?” 
Beau laughed as he sat next to me. “You are better at checking things off my list than I am. Stargazing at Kenan?” 
“That’s not all. I brought drinks.” I reached into my bag and pulled out two beers. 
“Is that like a Mary Poppins bag or something? You can fit anything in there.” Beau lifted the corner and peered into the side pocket. 
“No. I just know how to pack.” 
“We have to make a toast.” He raised the glass bottle in my direction. “To Carolina nights.”
I smiled and let my bottle tap his before taking a sip. 
From where we sat, the sky looked like it was littered with diamonds. They stretched from one end zone to the other. It was a new moon, giving us the perfect night to find constellations. 
“Now, about that rose.” His seductive eyes were watching me squirm. 
Beau wedged his beer into a patch of grass. His eyes looked hungrily at my mouth. With an unexpected fierceness, he lunged at me, sending me back on the blanket. I threw my arms around his neck as his lips took mine. So much for stargazing. 
He paused, letting his hands trace the edges of my face. “London, I can’t keep my hands off you. This project is going to kill me.” My body bowed toward him as he playfully nipped at my neck with his teeth. “I want it to be over so we can stop sneaking around. I want to touch you whenever I want.” 
Project. Shit. I still hadn’t told him what was going on. “Beau, we need to talk about the project.” It was barely a whisper. 
His hand cupped my bottom and he squeezed until I was pressed against the center of his body. “Just kiss me, London. We can talk later.”


Win a Bachelor date! Includes a London Falling- inspired Charm Bracelet, $20 Fandango Movie Certificate, and a $40 Restaurant giftcard (US Only).

22 January 2014

Review: Red by Alison Cherry

Felicity St. John has it all: loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.

Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:
I know your secret.

Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say strawberry blond. Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.

Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?

5 Words: Clever, teen, drama, high school, blackmail.

I can't say that I 100% enjoyed this book. It was entertaining and I loved that it was a witty piece of social commentary and liked the way it was presented, but it just wasn't quite my cup of tea.

I'm not really such a fan of high-school dramas. Been there, done that, it's never like the books. Yeah, there was bitching and blackmail and bullying, but books always seem to make it so over-the-top dramatic.

This is quite a summery book - it's just got that kind of sunshine-and-blue-skies feeling that works best in summer. So maybe that's a reason I didn't mesh so well with it - it's winter and freezing outside.

I wasn't so keen on Felicity - she is in no way as innocent as she thinks she is and she doesn't even realise it. But I did like the way all of the characters interacted and I liked the way the relationships developed and changed.

Overall I guess I did like this book. I finished it relatively quickly, I kept reading, I didn't rage.

20 January 2014

Make A Wish - A Guest Post by Eleanor Wood

Eleanor Wood's first book Gemini Rising was easily one of my favourite reads last year. And the author herself is pretty great - she's not afraid to interact with reader whether it's on Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads. Her own blog, The Perfect Mixtape is a quirky and quite hilarious mix of everything that's on her mind from fashion to writing, memories to running.

You can check out my review of Gemini Rising here but other than that it's over to the author herself for a guest post

Make A Wish

Eleanor WoodWhen I was a child. I was obsessed with wishing. On anything. Anything at all.

My friend Rachael bought a book about the wishing traditions of various cultures, and there seemed to be rather a lot of them. We studiously adopted every single one. If you get a crisp with a bubble in it, chew it exactly ten times and make a wish as you swallow. If you are a passenger driving over a new bridge for the first time, lift your feet up off the floor and make a wish. If you go through a tunnel, hold your breath and make a wish when you come out at the other end.

It became so ingrained that I still do it, almost without realising. I seek out wishes everywhere I go. When I went to Hong Kong, I visited the ‘wishing tree’. In Istanbul, I stuck my finger into the famous underground wishing stone. I have thrown so many coins into fountains, that I should probably start wishing for more money to make up for it.

This is probably why I'm a writer now. All the best stories, in my opinion, have an element of wish fulfillment to them. It’s why I was always drawn to the glamorous ones – from Jilly Cooper to Jacqueline Susann, via Sadler’s Wells – as well as the ones that reflected my own life.

It’s a cliché to say that books allow you to live a thousand different lives – but it’s a cliché because it’s true. Writing allows you to steer that fantasy ship all by yourself, like the ultimate ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ story.

This is in my head a lot at the moment because I am writing a story that involves the fulfillment of so many long-held wishes. Pop stars, backstage passes, music festivals… I have never grown out of my habit of feeling like I’m living through it all myself. I can write the kind of boys I wish had existed when I was 17 (let alone wanted to go out with me…). Crucially, I can make my characters make far better decisions than I ever did and reap the rewards.

For my thirtieth birthday, Rachael gave me a bracelet engraved with the words ‘may all your wishes come true’.

These days, all my wishes have come true. Even the ones that haven’t.

Mira Ink Monday #1 - Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real...

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies...

5 Words: Clever, original, freaky, girl-power, family.

I thought that I didn't like Zombie books. But on a recent horror binge, this is one of the books that changed my mind. It really surprised me how much I enjoyed this.

Now, I always judge a book by its cover. I know that's bad, but I can't help it. I'm like a magpie, attracted to all things pretty and shiny. And look at this gorgeous cover. It's so enticing.

Zombies? Yes please. Creepy almost-indestructible zombies that few people can see? Give me more!

I loved the writing style, and I loved Alice.

If you go into this expecting a retelling of Alice in Wonderland but with zombies, you'll be disappointed. It's not that. It's inspired by Alice In Wonderland, and it's excellent.

Alice's voice is very accessible. The language Gena Showalter uses is exactly that which I used as a teen, and it had me smiling all through. I probably enjoyed the book all the more because of it. Alice is also a very likeable character. So much happens to her and she could so easily have been a damsel in distress type, but instead she's strong. She's strong and independent and pretty kick ass.

I enjoyed this book right the way through, and I can't wait to get stuck into the next one.

11 January 2014

Review: The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth

Those who enter the Gabriel H. Penn Home for Childhood only get to leave one way...

In the near future the gap between rich and poor has become insurmountable. Life as a street child in the big city is only made bearable by who, and what, you know. And by the rumour circulating of a haven for children, a place of true safety. This rumour appears to be nothing more than a fairy-tale until Devin, and his new friend Kit, meet someone who promises to take them there. But when Devin and Kit arrive they begin to understand the real price of safety...

5 Words: Terrifying, real, special, friendship, mind-blowing.

Right from the start, I knew that The One Safe Place wasn't your average speculative young adult story. Firstly, it can probably be read by anyone aged eight or up. And perhaps younger readers would realise that childhood is something to cherish.

A common theme in most media today is global warming and the possible impact that this could have. The One Safe Place explores it wonderfully. This could happen. The world that you explore as you read - yes, reading this book is like walking through this world, excellent writing - is quite terrifying. Imagine being truly alone in world but being surrounded by so many others who are alone? And them imagine that you find paradise. Of course it isn't as you first think.

The main character has synaesthesia, although it's never referenced as such. This makes the world come more alive. And it makes the mystery all the more terrifying. Devin seems to see what others cannot and the sense of foreboding grows and grows to a thrilling climax.

This story gets darker and darker with each page but there is plenty of humour spread throughout too so it never gets too much.

I'd recommend this to pretty much everyone. It was a fantastic read and I can't thank Orion enough for sending me an ARC.

A Note on the Cover: The copy I received had a different cover (the bound proof) and I have to say, I liked it more. It was striking, so different from what I'm used to seeing. I would definitely have picked it up with the ARC cover but I think I'd hesitate with the published cover.

10 January 2014

Review: From Yes to I Do by Lucy Tobin

A trousseau of creative, canny, and crafty tips to plan a wedding with a difference. This is a new blueprint for brides-to-be, filled with savvy, surprising, and downright ingenious ideas that will make your wedding stand out from the crowd - not to mention some behind-the-scenes secrets that puts this guide on the side of the bride, not the wedding industry. Want a wedding with a personal touch, not off the rack? Lusting after luxury but smart about saving? Favour a homemade feel but haven't got the know-how? Lifting the veil on everything from the entrance music to the honeymoon getaway, this guide teaches you how to dream big, shop smart, and make your own - all in the down-to-earth style of the kind of girl you'd want as your own bridesmaid. Get ready to go up the aisle in style.

5 Words: Witty, informative, funny, imaginative, essential.

5 More Words: Interactive, amazing, beautiful, money-saving, pretty.

If you ever plan on getting married, whether you've found the one or are still searching, get this book. It's like a wedding planning bible. And it's not only for the brides. It's for everyone who'll be involved.

The part I loved the most about the e-book was how interactive it was. It didn't just tell you about all of these wonderful resources it references, it shows you them with direct links to useful wedding planning tools and the most amazing blogs and websites ever. And hello there, Pinterest. Now I have a selection of boards with all of my wedding idea snippets.

There are little hints and tips from photographers and caterers and brides and grooms so this is filled with ways to save money - and in the current economic climate that can only be a good thing. And it tells you not to be afraid to contact people who have previously used a photographer (for example) or to snoop into their business' Facebook and Twitter for what customers have posted.

There are also extensive DIY guides and different ideas to make your wedding truly your own. I love the idea of Tea Towel wedding invites. And I've done a bit of searching myself and found The Wedding Tree Company which supplied the quirkiest guestbook and table plans ever.

I laughed my way through this, and so did my other half. It's extremely enjoyable. And it's made us think a lot more. There are so many little things that we wouldn't have even thought about asking, particularly when it comes to venues and contractors and especially with "all inclusive" venues which is what we've been leaning towards.

I know it will be a long time until we get married. My fiancé and myself can't even afford a place of our own. But this book has shown me that this doesn't really matter. We're together and we love each other. And who cares if when we do properly settle down we can't afford a big do? This book has shown us that you can do it on a shoestring and still have an amazing, wonderful day. What's wrong with the £199 Premier Inn do anyway?

07 January 2014

Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2014
  1. Have no more than three books on my Currently Reading at any one time
    I'm terrible at reading loads of books all at once. But it means that some get neglected and I don't finish them for months. So I'm going to fix that!
  2. Request less books on Net Galley
    I get very click happy on that wonderful site and then I spy my Feedback Ratio... Oops? I'm only going to request the books I really want to read.
  3. Visit the library more
    I have this wonderful resource just over a mile walk away and I definitely don't use it enough, so I plan on getting more books out and visiting more often
  4. Volunteer as a Reading Activist
    Or in any capacity at a library or charity bookshop. I'd love to help out with NETBA, as I loved it so much when I took part as a teen.
  5. Read 200 books
    Although I could maybe have set that a little higher? I read a lot as I don't watch TV or do anything else really, except for work.
  6. Finish the books my friends have lent me
    I'm terrible for this. I have huge piles of books I've borrowed from friends just sitting unread because the next shiny new book shimmies in front of me and distracts me.
  7. Catch up with review requests
    I have about 10 to catch up on. Whoops! But I'm flashing through them and have done 2 already this year so I'm off to a good start.
  8. Get a bookshelf
    I seriously don't have a single bookshelf. My books live in piles and lined up against walls and tucked away in trunks and boxes under the bed, and I want to change that.
  9. Read the book first
    I don't go to the cinema often, but from now on I'm going to read the book first. It should be easy, surely?
  10. Listen to more Audiobooks
    I'm relatively new to audiobooks, so I'm going to get right in there and listen to more! I'm enjoying them so far when I'm walking.
What are your bookish resolutions?

05 January 2014

Showcase Sunday #1

Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea and is a chance for everyone to show off what they've acquired during the week.

Showcase Sunday

This week has been pretty slow for me - I'm trying to cut down on Net Galley requests and I've closed direct review requests for this month so I can catch up.

In The Post

This week, The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth dropped through the door. I won it from Orion on a Goodreads Giveaway and it's next on my TBR. It sounds absolutely excellent and I'm excited to read it!

Books From NetGalley

This week I got a couple reads from Net Galley. They both look super interesting and I can't wait to get stuck in. Red by Alison Cherry and Runes by Ednah Walters. I have a few other NetGalley requests to get through before I get to these, but it shouldn't be long.

Red by Alison Cherry cover Runes by Ednah Walters cover


I haven't managed to get myself near a bookshop yet, and neither have I been on audible, so no audiobooks either! That will likely have changed by next weekend though as I just can't stay away.

03 January 2014

Review: Gemini Rising by Eleanor Wood

How far would you go to fit in?

Sorana Salem is ok with being not quite bottom of the pile at her exclusive private school. Until the mysterious Johansson twins arrive unexpectedly mid-term. Hypnotically beautiful and immensely cool, magnetic Elyse and mute Melanie aren’t like the school’s usual identikit mean girls.

Soon Sorana’s sharing sleepovers and Saturday nights out with the twins. But their new world of Ouidja boards and older boys might not be as simple as it seems. And the dark secrets that they share could be about to take Sorana down a path that’s impossible to turn back from…

5 Words: magic, mystery, poison, realism, AMAZING.

This is the perfect girly Young Adult story. It's got everything you could wish for, including a sneaky, creepy hint of the supernatural. So this is a very easy 4 stars, I really really liked it.

The characters were well written and this story was very believable. The situations and mannerisms were real. These teenage girls WERE teenage girls, wrapped up in school and trying to fix their lives and grow up too fast. I could really identify with Sorana, she reminded me of me - quiet, good at English, bad at Maths.

Unfortunately, I've never had a brain for Maths - I just don't. So I really clicked with Sorana.

Drink, drugs and rock'n'roll. And Ouija boards.

The story is fun and girly and humourous. You experience everything with Sorana - from her first hangover to her first funeral.

I like the way that the possibly supernatural bits were written - it's left up to the reader to decide. It makes this book perfect for those who don't like the supernatural and those who love it. FANTASTIC!

There are threads of mystery and a thrilling conclusion to the tension-filled story that's been building up and up from the very beginning. And it's not predictable. This story does not end how you think it will. I was truly shocked by the ending.

If you like Sarra Manning then you'll like Eleanor Wood. I hope to read more from her in future!

Thanks to Carina via NatGalley for a copy of this.

01 January 2014

Review: After Eden by Helen Douglas

Eden Anfield loves puzzles, so when mysterious new boy Ryan Westland shows up at her school she's hooked. On the face of it, he's a typical American teenager. So why doesn't he recognise pizza? And how come he hasn't heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden the most, however, is the interest he's taking in her. 

As Eden starts to fall in love with Ryan, she begins to unravel his secret. Her breakthrough comes one rainy afternoon when she stumbles across a book in Ryan's bedroom - a biography of her best friend - written over fifty years in the future. Confronting Ryan, she discovers that he is there with one unbelievably important purpose ... and she might just have destroyed his only chance of success.

5 Words: Flat, scientific, artsy, teens, true-love.

So, I'm not a fan of time travel. And I really didn't understand it in this one (they majorly changed the past, surely that'd change the fact that timetravel was even discovered?!) and it annoyed me.

But this story was sweet in a way, and a quick read.

I was disappointed by the two dimensional characters, they were very flat. Eden was perhaps the worst of the lot, and she was the main character. I meant that I couldn't get invested in the story.

I found the plot extremely predictable, especially the "twist".

I did like the setting. I LOVE to read teen stories set in the UK - the market is completely saturated by US teens (even written by British authors! I'm looking at you Beth Reekles) and even after reading it for so long I still don't understand the US education system. I also loved the beach setting although tomb-stoning? Seriously? Disgusting that it was wrote about as being such fun and totally irresponsible.

I just wish that the ending hadn't been so happily-ever-after. An unhappy ending would have suited this story so well and would have made it much more enjoyable and refreshing to read.

And oh god, I just realised there's another one. I will read it, because it was pleasant enough and good for a rainy day (which today was) but it won't be top of my TBR on its release.

So, any suggestions for a story with an unhappy ending?