Monday, 16 February 2015

Review: Ivy Lane by Cathy Bramley

I have just spent the most delicious weekend delving into Cathy Bramley’s new release, Ivy Lane. Now, if that name rings a bell for you from sometime last year, that might be because Ivy Lane was originally published as a four part series – between April and November 2014.  So this is a long-awaited treat for me- as soon as I saw that it was due for release in its entirety, I wanted to wait so that I could enjoy it in one sitting- it’s fair to say that there was a lot of pressure riding on it after waiting for it for so long!

I’m absolutely thrilled to say that it more than lived up to its promise. Ivy Lane is one of those special books that, within just a couple of pages of starting, you know you’re in completely safe hands- as a reader you can relax and go with the flow of the book because the author knows exactly what she’s doing. That sounds like a simple thing, but it’s actually a rare and precious feeling when you read as many books as I do!

Ivy Lane is a beautifully told, gently funny story about a character who is trying to reconnect the pieces of her shattered life, and she’s about to get plenty of help (whether she wants it or not) from the members of the Ivy Lane (allotments) community. As Tilly brings her little plot back to life, her personal life begins to do the same- but it’s not all plain sailing and there are plenty of downs as well as ups to contend with.

I did wonder whether the book would scan well as a whole having been originally released in the four separate parts, and the simple answer is- yes, it does. The story moves along nicely and there are some fantastic cliff-hangers where each part comes to an end- but I was very pleased to be able to delve straight into the next section!

Ivy Lane is the ultimate feel-good read, but I have to warn you that I did some serious sobbing (and I’m talking full-body, messy, breathless blubbing here) over the course of the book, as well as quite a lot of chuckling. If you read and enjoyed Alexandra Brown’s The Great Christmas Knit Off, then you’ll love Ivy Lane. This is one to curl up with and enjoy in your favourite place- just make sure that you’re not going to be disturbed as you really will struggle to put it down!

I currently have an ebook version, however, I’ll be grabbing myself a paperback to have  out with me in the garden shed so that I can enjoy a leisurely alfresco re-read over the summer months. This one is definitely going on the ‘to keep’ shelf!

Grab your copy of Ivy Lane here

Find Cathy on Twitter @CathyBramley

The Blurb:
From spring to summer, autumn to winter, a lot can happen in a single year . . .

Tilly Parker needs a fresh start, fresh air and a fresh attitude if she is ever to leave the past behind and move on with her life. As she seeks out peace and quiet in a new town, taking on a plot at Ivy Lane allotments seems like the perfect solution.

But the friendly Ivy Lane community has other ideas and gradually draw Tilly in to their cosy, comforting world of planting seedlings, organising bake sales and planning seasonal parties.

As the seasons pass, will Tilly learn to stop hiding amongst the sweetpeas and let people back into her life – and her heart?

A charming and romantic story certain to make you smile - perfect for fans of Carole Matthews, Trisha Ashley and Katie Fforde.

Ivy Lane was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Valentines Day Book Sale!

Chick Lit Plus has an awesome sale on - over 20 discounted books to celebrate Valentines day with. From chick lit to romance to young adult, there is something for everyone. Happy Reading! Click on the pic to take a look...

Have a wonderfully romantic weekend- snuggle up with the one you love (book- that is!)
Laura x

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Review: Marriage to Measure by Talli Roland

Marriage to Measure is the third book in Talli Roland’s Serenity Holland series. This time, Serenity has done the deed, bent her knee and gotten the answer she was looking for. Now , all she and Jeremy need to do is arrange the sweet, simple ceremony of their dreams. Does this run smoothly? What do you think?!

Serenity and Jeremy soon lose sight of what they want in the deluge of bossy and overbearing friends, family and, worst of all,  mother-in-laws to be. When Jeremy gets sidetracked, leaving Serenity to hold the wedding reigns- you can only imagine the chaos that ensues!

I have to be honest that, due to the sheer volume of romance novels I read, the previous two books in this series seem an awfully long time ago. This meant that I when I started reading this instalment, it was far more like reading a stand-alone novel. And although there are a couple of references to previous incidents, the story holds up brilliantly in its own right. If you haven’t read the previous two but can’t wait to delve into this one- I’d say go for it – but make sure that you eventually get your hands on Build a Man and Construct a Couple for more Serenity-shaped-goodness.

So, what did I think of the book? Talli’s writing skill has the ability to completely draw you into her world and, in this case, that world is full of Serenity as she hopefully starts to build her dream wedding, only for it to slip further and further away. Serenity is a kind and thoughtful character- but she is also very easily led. She’s a people-pleaser and this means that she’s unable to say no to anything. When her main support mechanism, aka Jeremy, also does a vanishing act, everything begins to crash around her and it’s a bit like watching car crash TV, only about a million times more stressful as you’re so engrossed in the story. I dare anyone to get all the way to the end without wanting to give Serenity a hearty slap to bring her to her senses somewhere along the line!

Marriage to Measure has some great supporting characters, my faves being Serenity’s mother and father. Spare a thought for me as you read- parts of this are like reading a literary-portrait of my ‘rents!

So, overall? A beautifully written, compelling-car-crash-wedding-disaster. Without wanting to give anything away, the ending is sheer perfection. But boy, I needed a rest in a darkened room afterwards!

Grab your copy here  

The Blurb:
Forever seemed the perfect fit. But is it?

When Serenity Holland proposes to her long-time boyfriend Jeremy, she's certain 'forever' is a perfect fit. As the wedding train steams forward, though, Serenity starts to wonder if they really are an ideal match. From a crusty old ring to a dilapidated house she's left to renovate on her own - not to mention the appearance of Jeremy's clingy ex-fiancĂ©e - engagement feels more like disengagement. 

Even worse, wedding planning's like a bad hangover as Serenity juggles the wishes of family and friends with her bossy mother-in-law-to-be, resulting in a Frankenwedding nothing like the simple ceremony she envisioned. 

Can Serenity knit her relationship back together and fashion a celebration that suits, or will 'I do' become 'I don't'?  

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Exclusive Reveal! Erin Lawless: Title, Book Cover & Blurb!

I'm absolutely thrilled to have the wonderful Erin Lawless here as a guest today for an exclusive VLOG title and cover reveal, a fab guest post... and if you scroll all the way down you'll find the blurb too! Now- over to Erin...


I'm jumping up and down with excitement to finally get to release the title, blurb, cover and release date for my second contemporary romance for Harper Impulse, SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW. It's been so hard to be so cagey about the book for the last year, so I'm thrilled to finally be able to share Alex and Nadia's adventure with everyone.

Whenever I told anyone that my second book was going to be a "romcom based around immigration law", I got some serious rasied-eyebrows. But it seemed like a no brainer to me; I'd spent several years embroiled in my best friend's appeals against being deported, and knew that this was a story that I wanted to tell. Whilst I've been writing the book we're experienced the Ukraine Crisis, etc, and now my little Russian heroine has become much more of a hot topic!

Nadia was such a fun character to write, so full of positivity and an admirable lust for life. When she meets the downtrodden Alex she can't help but intervene. But from where he sits, firmly entrenched in his rut, Alex is a little bewildered by Nadia. He had a massive knock in confidence a few years ago, and feels safest from behind his Playstation controller, but suddenly here's this mad Russian dragging him here, there and everywhere across London.

And it's London who is my third main character. My most absolute favourite city in the world, I spent the majority of my 20s living there and I fell in love with the fact that there's always a new bar, a new show, a new exhibition of something. And running below that ever-changing topcoat, there's the amazing constant of all that history. Buildings that have withstood hundreds of years, withstood bombs. Ancient twisting mews that lead to surprises. The rocky shore of the Thames, along which lovers have walked for surely thousands of years?

It's a story about love, naturally - but the inconvenient kind, the unexpected kind - the magic there can be in something familiar, and all the things that lie outside your comfort zone.

The Blurb

Boy meets girl…

Alex Bradley can't help but feel that life is rather passing him by. And not just life – promotions, invitations, romance; the girl he loves only has eyes for his flatmate and his 9-5 job as the Immigration department skivvy is slowly numbing his soul. Until he meets Nadia.

Girl meets boy…

Nadia Osipova is running out of time. With no money, no lawyer and a totally fictitious boyfriend, she’s got one last summer and one last appeal before the British government deport her back to Russia.

Girl gets deported?

It's going to be a bumpy ride, one she's dragging her new friend Alex along for. As Nadia races through a list of all her favourite London adventures, for what may be the last time, Alex can’t help but start to see the city, and his life, through Nadia’s eyes.

From hazy summer days on the Common and heady nights in Soho’s basement bars, to twilight walks along the Southbank, will Alex realise what he’s got before it’s too late?

Funny, addictive and always honest, this is a love letter to London, friendship and the unexpected from the author of the bestselling The Best Thing I Never Had.

Thank you so much to Erin for joining us and sharing all of this exciting news at ChickLitLove!- I'm so excited to read Somewhere Only We Know- and everyone else- keep your eyes peeled in the early summer for my review!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Review: The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan

A very happy publication day to Kate Riordan for her stunning debut novel, The Girl in the Photograph.

This book was the best possible way to kick-start my reading for 2015.  Set simultaneously in the summer of 1933 and the late 1800s, The Girl in the Photograph follows the story of Alice Eveleigh who is sent away from her home in London in disgrace, having fallen pregnant by a married man. She is packed off unceremoniously to spend her confinement in the privacy and faded grandeur of Fiercombe Manor.

The story of Alice’s pregnancy soon intertwines with the story of Elizabeth, past lady of the manor – another manor – in the same isolated valley. The eerie similarities between Alice and Elizabeth soon begin to make themselves known, and Alice begins to feel as though her fate is already sealed and set upon a pre-determined, but shrouded path. The secrets of the valley begin to occupy Alice’s every waking moment, consuming her imagination.

The Girl in the Photograph is dense and full of detail, ensuring that the reader slows down, taking their time to read as the absorbing worlds of Alice and Elizabeth come to light. There is very little dialogue throughout the book, adding to the tense, claustrophobic atmosphere created by the author.

There is a serene sense of mounting terror that runs throughout the narrative (and I know that’s a complete oxymoron, but you’ll see what I mean), so much so that reading late at night had me hunkered down in my dim room, checking over my shoulder and listening out for unusual noises in the house – this is definitely not one to read when you’re feeling unsettled.

Although not an easy read as you wait for the taut silken thread that runs through the entire story to snap, I can’t help but recommend this book to everyone. It’s beautifully written, has a fantastic ending and has all the makings of a modern classic.

Grab your copy here

The Blurb:
When Alice Eveleigh arrives at Fiercombe Manor during the long, languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts, none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton whose only traces remain in a few tantalisingly blurred photographs. Why will no one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish?

As the sun beats down relentlessly, Alice becomes ever more determined to unearth the truth about the girl in the photograph - and stop her own life from becoming an eerie echo of Elizabeth's...