Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Book review: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Abby Clements

My edition: Paperback, to be published on 25 October 2012 by Quercus, 357 pages.

Description: Childhood friends Laurie and Rachel's lives have taken very different paths since they picked up their A-level results together.

Laurie is living in London and dedicated to her career, keeping track of her friends on Facebook. Rachel is seemingly living the family idyll in a cottage in Yorkshire - except she worries her marriage is starting to show cracks.

When Rachel's mother in law falls ill and needs treatment in London, and Laurie decides she needs to get away for a break, a house swap falls into place. Soon Rachel is braving the mean streets of London while trying to keep her family together, while Laurie tries to figure out how to work an Aga and befriend the locals - and forget the man who seems intent on breaking her heart.

Will their relationships survive this test? And will they make it home in time for Christmas?

Rating:

Monday, 1 October 2012

Book review: With Love at Christmas by Carole Matthews

My edition: Paperback, to be published on 25 October 2012 by Sphere, 432 pages.

Description: Can the imperfect family really have the perfect Christmas?

Juliet Joyce adores Christmas. She loves the presents, the tree, the turkey, the tinsel, everything. Already the festive spirit is upon her, which is just as well as this Christmas things are starting to get out of hand.

Her son Tom is out of work and bringing home a slew of unsuitable partners; pregnant daughter Chloe and her little boy have moved back in; Juliet's father, Frank, is getting over a heartbreak of his own and Rita, her eccentric mother, is behaving more erratically each day. And has the chaos got too much for Juliet's husband Rick?

With the big day fast approaching, Juliet hopes that she can stop everything spiralling out of control, because the only thing she wants is her family all around her and her home to be filled.

Rating:

Monday, 24 September 2012

Book review: It Happened in Venice by Molly Hopkins

My edition: Paperback, published on 30 August 2012 by Sphere, 480 pages.

Description: Welcome to Venice, the city of love.

He cheated, but only once! Evie Dexter has promised to forgive her fiancé Rob - and her efforts to absolve his sins are paying off: in the past ten days she's only called him a two-timing love rat eleven times.

Thank goodness her flourishing career as a tour guide takes her to fashionable Dublin, in-vogue Marrakech and cool Amsterdam.

And when Evie's offered a luxury visit to the sensual city of Venice she jumps at the chance. With its delicious wine and sultry Italian men, four days in the city of light and love is just what she needs.

Rating:

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Book review: Life, Death and Vanilla Slices by Jenny Eclair

My edition: Paperback, published on 5 July 2012 by Sphere, 352 pages.

Description: Jean Collins is in a coma. She stepped out into the middle of the road without looking and was run over by a motorbike.

But what had distracted her? And why was she carrying a box of vanilla slices - the cream cakes she only ever bought for special celebrations?

For Jean's daughter Anne, these questions are the least of her concern. Travelling back up north to visit her mother, Anne frets about leaving her two sons behind in London - boys who are rapidly becoming men, and not very pleasant ones at that.

And there are secrets waiting for Anne, back in the house where she grew up. Secrets she doesn't want to think about - that she buried a long time ago...

Rating:

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Event: Vintage tea party at Little, Brown

A few weeks ago I read the excellent The Vintage Teacup Club (find my review here) by Vanessa Greene and I was very fortunate to be invited along to a special vintage tea party by publisher Little, Brown Book Group hosted by none other than the lovely author of the novel herself.

On Wednesday afternoon I set out for the Little, Brown offices, which are housed in a stunning neo-classical building on Victoria Embankment.

As you can see on my photos below (behind the cut), we were upon arrival treated to a spread of colourful cakes, sandwiches and scones. The table was also filled with pretty vintage tea cups and saucers, which was of course very suited to the theme of the event. I filled my plate with two types of yummy sandwiches, a cute little pink cake and a scone with the most delicious clotted cream ever.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Book review: The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene

My edition: Paperback, to be published on 11 October 2012 by Sphere, 403 pages.

Description: Three very different women meet and fall for the same vintage tea set at a car boot sale in Sussex. They decide to share it - and form a friendship that changes their lives . . .

Jenny can't wait to marry Dan. Then, after years of silence, she hears from the woman who could shatter her dreams.

Maggie has put her broken marriage behind her and is gearing up for the biggest event of her career - until she's forced to confront the past once more.

Alison seems to have it all: married to her childhood sweetheart, with two gorgeous daughters. But as tensions mount, her parriage is pushed to breaking point.

Dealing with friendship and families, relationships and careers, highs and lows, The Vintage Teacup Club is heart-warming storytelling at its very best.

Rating:

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Book review: The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes

My edition: Paperback, to be published on 13 September 2012 by Michael Joseph, 505 pages.

Description: Helen Walsh doesn't believe in fear – it's just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good job – and yet she's sinking. Her work as a Private Investigator has dried up, her flat has been repossessed and now some old demons have resurfaced.

Not least in the form of her charming but dodgy ex-boyfriend Jay Parker, who shows up with a missing persons case. Money is tight – so tight Helen's had to move back in with her elderly parents – and Jay is awash with cash. The missing person is Wayne Diffney, the 'Wacky One' from boyband Laddz. He’s vanished from his house in Mercy Close and it's vital that he's found – Laddz have a sell-out comeback gig in five days' time.

Things ended messily with Jay. And she’s never going back there. Besides she has a new boyfriend now, the very sexy detective Artie Devlin and it's all going well, even though his ex-wife isn't quite 'ex' enough and his teenage son hates her. But the reappearance of Jay is stirring up all kinds of stuff she thought she'd left behind.

Playing by her own rules, Helen is drawn into a dark and glamorous world, where her worst enemy is her own head and where increasingly the only person she feels connected to is Wayne, a man she's never even met.


Rating:

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Book review: Killer Heels by Rebecca Chance

My edition: Paperback, published in 2012 by Simon & Schuster, 470 pages.

Description: From the suburbs of Luton to the avenues of Manhattan, starry-eyed fashionista Coco Raeburn has worked her way up the ladder. She will do anything to get her own editorship at a top fashion magazine - even if it means starving herself half to death.

Her idol is ruthless boss Victoria Glossop, editor at top fashion magazine Style. She has her own ambitions and nothing will come between her and her goal - at least not until an enigmatic stranger comes into her life and thaws the ice queen in the most wicked way psosible.

Svengali Jacob Dupleix, media magnate and owner of Style, is one of the most powerful men in New York and London. But is the glittering empire he has built about to collapse due to a dangerous liasion...?

Rating:

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Book review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Bloomsbury UK, 336 pages.

Description: 1970s Afghanistan:

Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him.

But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives...

Since its publication in 2003, The Kite Runner has sold eight million copies worldwide.

Through Khaled Hosseini's brilliant writing, a previously unknown part of the world was brought to life.

Rating:

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Book review: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

My edition: Paperback, to be published on 27 September 2012 by Penguin Books, 516 pages.

Description: In 1916 French artist Edouard LeFèvre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything - her family, reputation and life - in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.

Nearly a century later and Sophie's portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting's dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened...

In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most - whatever the cost.

Rating:

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Book review: The Meryl Streep Movie Club by Mia March

My edition: Paperback, published in June 2012 by Simon & Schuster, 325 pages.

Description: When Lolly Weller unexpectedly summons her two nieces to come and stay with her and her daughter Kat at the pituresque Three Captains' Inn, no one is really sure what her 'secret announcement' will be.

But what Isabel, reeling from her husband's affair, her sister June, a single mother haunted by her past, and Kat, whose seemingly perfect life has reached a crossroads, don't realise is just how much the next few weeks will change all of their lives.

But not before they have fulfilled Lolly's wish; for them to all spend their final few Friday evenings together, sharing the joy and pain of the Meryl Streep Movie Club, a place where the answers to all of life's questions are just a handful of popcorn away . . .
.
Rating:

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Book review: The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

My edition: Paperback, published in 2012 by Razorbill, 357 pages.

Description: Seventeen-year-old Cammpbell doesn't believe in miracles. She's spent the last five years in and out of hospitals, so she can be forgiven if she's a little sceptical.

But Campbell's mother and sister won't give up on her, and they've heard rumours of a place in Maine where magical things happen: fish raining from the sky, purple dandelions, everlasting sunsents. A place named Promise. Yes, really.

Campbell may be cynical, but she still has hope. And so they head to Promise for a Summer by the sea, where Cam finally learns to believe in true love, in herself and maybe even in miracles.

Rating:

Friday, 22 June 2012

Book review: The Shaman in Stilettos by Anna Hunt

My edition: Paperback, published in 2012 by Penguin Books, 450 pages.

Description: When celebrity journalist Anna Hunt takes a break from her glamorous, high-powered and fast-paced job to live in Peru for three months, none of her friends take her seriously.

A burn-the-candle-at-both-ends 29-year-old with a love of stilettos, chocolate, fast cars and Sauvignon Blanc, she seems to have it all, including a wealthy boyfriend and a comfortable pad in Marylebone. How will she manage in a Third World country?

Anna's quest takes her from the wilderness of the Amazon jungle where she drinks ayahuasca, one of the most mysterious and potent hallucinogens known to man, to a passionate affair with Maximo Morales, a disarmingly seductive and charismatic shaman who offers her the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become his apprentice.

Anna embarks on what is to be an utterly exhilarating, life-changing journey of mysterious rituals and burning passion. Will she find the fulfilment and inner peace she craves? And how will she bridge her two worlds and bring the ancient healing arts home to 21st century London?

Rating:

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Author event: Rachel Caine at Foyles

On 23 May, Foyles Charing Cross in London once again held one of their fantastic author events, this time with Rachel Caine, author of amongst others the Morganville Vampires and the Weather Warden series.

What makes the events at Foyles different is that they deliver something extra beyond an already exciting opportunity for fans to meet their favourite authors at signing sessions. On top of the signing there is a talk and Q/A with the author and more often than not Foyles also provides an extra gift to attendees, for instance an ARC of a debut novel.

This time we received a pretty Allison and Busby bag (the publishers of Caine's popular Morganville books) which contained a Morganville bookmark, luggage tag and travel card holder. Great stuff! Make sure to regularly check the Foyles calender of events for upcoming events.

The main event was of course getting a chance to hear Caine speak about her work (she even spoiled the attendees by reading a chapter from the upcoming 13th novel in the series; Bitter Blood, which includes the cool new aspect of "ID cards" everyone in Morganville is obliged to have) and giving the fans a chance to ask their burning questions.

I didn't write down the questions and answers beyond a few key words and it was some weeks ago, but I'll try to describe the Q/A to the best of my ability behind the cut.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Book review: The List by Siobhan Vivian

My edition: Hardcover, published in 2011 by Push, 332 pages.

Description: An intense look at the rules of high school attraction -- and the price that's paid for them.

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.


Rating:

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Book review: The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall

My edition: Paperback, published on 1 March 2012 by Headline Review, 372 pages.

Description: Beth Lowe has been sent a parcel. Inside is a letter informing her that her long-estranged mother has died, and a scrapbook Beth has never seen before. Entitled The Book of Summers, it's stuffed with photographs and mementos complied by her mother to record the seven glorious childhood summers Beth spent in rural Hungary.

It was a time when she trod the tightrope between separated parents and two very different countries; her bewitching but imperfect Hungarian mother and her gentle, reticent English father; the dazzling house of a Hungarian artist and an empty-feeling cottage in deepest Devon. And it was a time that came to the most brutal of ends the year Beth turned sixteen.

Since then, Beth hasn't allowed herself to think about those years of her childhood. But the arrival of The Book of Summers brings the past tumbling back into the present; as vivid, painful and vital as ever.

Rating:

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Theatre review: Rock of Ages


Synopsis: Set in LA's infamous Sunset Strip in 1987, Rock of Ages tells the story of Drew, a boy from South Detroit, and Sherrie, a small-town girl, both in LA to chase their dreams of making it big and falling in love. Rock of Ages takes you back to the times of big bands with big egos playing big guitar solos and sporting even bigger hair! This five-time Tony Award nominated musical is now being made into a movie starring Tom Cruise.

Cast: Oliver Tompsett, Natalie Andreou, Simon Lipkin, Shayne Ward, Justin Lee Collins, Nathan Amzi, Jodie Jacobs, Rachel McFarlane, Sandy Moffat, Twinnie-Lee Moore, Zizi Strallen, Rohan Tickell. Ensemble: Grant Anthony, Scarlette Douglas, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Cordelia Farnworth, Ian McIntosh, Jamie Muscato, Andrew Spillett, Amy Thornton and Dylan Turner.


Rating:

Monday, 5 March 2012

Book review: Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Black Swan, 384 pages.

Description: Memories define us.

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love--all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story.

Welcome to Christine's life.

Rating:


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Review: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

My edition: Paperback, published in 2010 by Penguin Books Ltd, 496 pages.

Description: Alice is twenty-nine. She is whimsical, optimistic and adores sleep, chocolate, her ramshackle new house and her wonderful husband Nick What's more, she's looking forward to the birth of the 'Sultana' - her first baby.

But now Alice has slipped and hit her head in her step-aerobics class and everyone's telling her she's misplaced the last ten years of her life.

In fact, it would seem that Alice is actually thirty-nine and now she loves schedules, expensive lingerie, caffeine and manicures. She has three children and the honeymoon is well and truly over for her and Nick. In fact, he looks at her like she's his worst enemy. What's more, her beloved sister Elisabeth isn't speaking to her either. And who is this 'Gina' everyone is so carefully trying not to mention?

Alice isn't sure that she likes life ten years on. Every photo is another memory she doesn't have and nothing makes sense. Just how much can happen in a decade? Has she really lost her lovely husband for ever?

Rating:

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

My edition: Hardcover, published in 2011 by HarperTeen, 282 pages.

Description: Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny's backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.

Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he's found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.

Rating:

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Review: A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

My edition: Hardcover, published in 2011 by Candlewick, 352 pages.

Description: Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten subbasement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew.

Now, her parents and her first love are long gone, and Rose— hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire— is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh.

But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes— or be left without any future at all.

Rating: