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...

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Review: The Extraordinary Life of Lara Craft (Not Croft) by Lola Salt

Who fancies a New Year holiday? What about a bit of travelling, including sun, sand, sex and stars? Well then, I’ve got the perfect book for you! (You didn’t think I was giving away a holiday there for a nanosecond did you?)

The Extraordinary Life of Lara Craft (Not Croft) is the perfect way to escape the January gloom. The plot is fun, silly and unpredictable as Lara travels, delivering packages whilst trying to find herself and run away from her mistakes and heartbreaks.

The authors play with stereotypes delightfully, employing almost every romance and chick-lit trope in the book, whilst giving each one a delicious twist and amping up the characters as far as they will go. It’s as over-the-top and camp as Lara’s diamante-studded riding crop (don’t ask- you’ll just have to read it for yourself!) but that’s why I loved it.

Lara isn’t a particularly lovely heroine- she’s rude, ridiculous and far too raunchy for that- but she’s also fearless and a lot of fun to spend time with. I found myself relaxing into her never-dull company and sad when the story came to an end. As you know, I have a no-spoiler policy here, but I can promise that the ending is also pretty perfect.

If you’re up for (thoroughly!) suspending your disbelief and going on a whistle-stop tour of the world via some very naughty encounters with some very hot men in the company of a feisty heroine, then this one’s definitely for you.

(FYI: Lola Salt is the pen name for two bestselling authors: Sarah Alderson & Becky Wicks.)

Grab your copy here

The Blurb
After losing her job and her boyfriend on the same day, Lara's beginning to wonder if her life can possibly get any worse. Then along comes Jamie, a childhood friend, offering her a job delivering mysterious packages to random destinations around the world and suddenly, things are looking up.

Lara packs her bags and sets off on an epic adventure, meeting billionaire Arabic Princes in Dubai, rugged cowboys in the Aussie outback, a sparkling wannabe vampire in L.A, a love guru with sex on the brain in Bali and Angelina Jolie's bodyguards in God-knows-where. But though trouble always seems to find Lara, it seems love is rather more elusive.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Happy Almost New Year!

Hello Chick Lit Lovers!

How are you all - recovering from a serious festive chocolate and chicklit overdose like me? Wherever you are and whatever you've been up to, I hope that you've had a fab Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year.

I'm sorry that I've been MIA for the past few weeks, real life (and the strains of being one of Santa's little helpers- eyes left!) caught up with me rather- but I'm back and raring to delve into all the amazing reads the New Year has to offer.

But before we go there... what about my fave reads of 2014? Eek - what a job - I've read so many amazing books this year- and come across some new authors that I could definitely rank among my all-time faves. So, I think I'm going to limit myself to my top 3 reads... here we go...

Number One ChickLit Read of the year

So - you may have gathered by now that I'm really, really bad at narrowing down and making a decision - so my top chick lit spot of the year is a joint award

The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me by Lucy Robinson
Funny, original and engrossing - I loved this book! It was great to discover Lucy's writing this year, and I had the pleasure of meeting her at Penguin's Women's Fiction evening earlier in December- and she's just as fun and naughty as her writing!
Check out my review here and grab your copy here .

It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane
Ah- my book best friend. Mhairi's sense of humour shines through. This is one to get in its stunning hardback form- you'll read it again and again! 
Check out my review here and grab your copy here

Number One Alternative Read of the Year

Just on occasion, I want to read something a little bit different... as in... not chick lit (GASP! Mutter mutter!) But seriously, no matter how much I love chick lit, there are so many awesome writers out there, sometimes I just have to stray. And this year, my favourite affair away from chick lit was...

Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent
Dark, twisted and beautifully written- Unravelling Oliver thoroughly deserves the awards and accolades heaped upon it since its release.
Check out my review here and grab your copy here .

Number One Christmas Read of the Year

Last, but definitely not least, is my favourite Christmas read of 2014. I fell in love with...

The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown
This is actually a sneaky way of adding in another of my faves of the year, otherwise I'd have had to split my top chick lit reads 3-ways! This is a gorgeous book and I can't wait to read the next in the Tindledale series.
Check out my review here and grab your copy here .

So, that's 2014 for you! What were your favourite books? What are you looking forward to in 2015? Any New Year's resolutions?

See you soon,
Laura x

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Review: Captivated by You by Sylvia Day #CaptivatedByYouSleepover

Wow Wow Wow! What an epic night and insane experience.  Of course I’m talking about the #CaptivatedByYouSleepover celebrating Sylvia Day’s fourth book in the Crossfire series. What could be better than cuddling up for a whole night of reading in the beautiful Ampersand Hotel, accompanied by a pamper package including chocolates, strawberries, bubbly, candles... the answer - nothing!

Captivated by You is out today- but I had the privilege of receiving it last night… and stayed up all night to read it! (so excuse the interesting English you might be about to encounter...)

So – what’s it like? Firstly, let me promise that there are absolutely no spoilers in what you’re about to read.

Captivated by You is as hot and steamy as any die-hard Sylvia Day fan could wish for. As a reader, you’re quickly drawn into Eva and Gideon’s wealthy world, damaged psyches and rampant naughtiness. We get to watch as both of them push at new boundaries, testing each other’s limits in every way imaginable. This book is all about the characters and their development rather than a huge amount of plot progression – so expect plenty of emotion rather than action.

Captivated By You is definitely part of a much larger jigsaw. The story arc is a part of the five-book picture. If you’re new to the Crossfire books, there is now far too much back story for this to work as a stand-alone novel and you’d be much better starting at Bared to You – book one in the series and working your way through.

If you’ve been looking forward to Captivated by You- grab your copy here , and I really hope you have as much fun reading your copy as I did with mine. And why not try your own #CaptivatedByYouSleepover – grab your PJs, some friends, strawberries, chocolates and bubbly and
get reading!

*A huge thank you to Penguin Books, Premier and The Ampersand Hotel for the amazing #CaptivatedByYouSleepover experience!*

The Blurb:
Gideon calls me his angel, but he's the miracle in my life. My gorgeous, wounded warrior, so determined to slay my demons while refusing to face his own.

The vows we'd exchanged should have bound us tighter than blood and flesh. Instead they opened up old wounds, exposed pain and insecurities, and lured bitter enemies out of the shadows. I felt him slipping from my grasp; my greatest fears becoming my reality; my love tested in ways I wasn't sure I was strong enough to bear.

At the brightest time in our lives, the darkness of his past encroached and threatened everything we'd worked so hard for. We faced a terrible choice: the familiar safety of the lives we'd had before each other or the fight for a future that suddenly seemed an impossible and hopeless dream . . .


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Review: Cold Feet At Christmas by Debbie Johnson

If you haven’t heard about Cold Feet at Christmas yet, it’s time for me to enlighten you. Released by HarperImpulse on the 6th November, Debbie Johnson’s first humorous contemporary romance has whizzed high up into the Amazon charts – including the overall top 100 Kindle Paid Books and  number 1 in the Kindle Holiday chart!! If that isn’t enough to suggest that you might enjoy this book… then read on…

The setup for Cold Feet at Christmas is pretty light and comic. A runaway bride is caught outside in the Scottish winter weather and just before she turns completely blue, is saved by a gorgeous American staying in a little cottage for the holidays. But very quickly, the story develops a darker edge. The tingling electricity between Leah and Rob draws the two towards each other, but when the snow starts to thaw and real life crashes in around them both, what will happen to this magical connection?

This is one of my favourite seasonal reads so far. It has an original plot full of plenty of unexpected twists and it’s beautifully written and very funny in places, but it isn’t afraid to dig a bit deeper and tell the darker side to the characters’ stories. But the main reason I loved Cold Feet At Christmas is that it made me fall in love- and not with the hero, though he is completely delectable. I fell head over heels for Leah, our heroine. She is such a unique, refreshing character to spend time with. Her way of dealing with the world around her, with disappointment and heartbreak as well as joy and happiness is like no other character I’ve come across. I’d go as far to say that she’s currently holding a spot in my heart for favourite Chick Lit heroine of the year (possible of all time… I’ll get back to you on that one.)

I’d say that this is a seasonal read rather than a festive read, as it starts at Christmas but spans a whole year- I feel that this makes it an enduring book that could be picked up and enjoyed at any time of the year (whilst still giving you the “warm and squishies”).

Thoroughly recommended, a fantastic, un-put-downable book with a cast of characters to fall in love with (just promise me you’ll let me know what you think of Leah!)

Grab your copy here

The Blurb:
Running out on your wedding shouldn’t be this much fun!

A remote Scottish castle on a snowy Christmas Eve. A handsome husband-to-be. A dress to die for. It should have been the happiest day of Leah Harvey’s life – but the fairytale wedding turns sour when she finds her fiancĂ© halfway up the bridesmaid’s skirt just hours before the ceremony!

Fleeing the scene in a blizzard, Leah ends up stranded at the nearest cottage, where she collapses into the arms of its inhabitant – a man so handsome she thinks she must have died and gone to heaven!

And when Rob Cavelli suddenly finds himself with an armful of soaking wet, freezing cold, and absolutely gorgeous bride on the run, he’s more than happy to welcome her into his snowbound cottage this Christmas…