Thursday, 31 October 2013

Dinner at Michael Neave Kitchen and Whisky Bar

Michael Neave Kitchen and Whisky Bar in Edinburgh was opened just last year by a young Scottish chef of the same name, but already the establishment oozes years of experience in fine dining. Tucked away just off the Royal Mile the cobblestone street is easy to miss when it is dark and drizzling, as it so often is in Scotland, but a sign on High Street helpfully points guests in the right direction.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Book review: Take a Look at Me Now by Miranda Dickinson


My edition: Paperback, published on 24 October 2013 by Avon (a division of HarperCollins), 400 pages.

Description: How far would you go to make a new start?

When Nell's on-off boyfriend Aidan calls her into his office, losing her job is the last thing she expects.

Heartbroken and unemployed to boot, she makes a radical decision to blow her redundancy cheque and escape to the untested waters of San Francisco.

But is the glamour of the city too good to be true? And can Nell leave her past behind?



Rating:

Monday, 28 October 2013

Book review: Always You by Erin Kaye


My edition: Paperback, published on 6 June 2013 by Avon, 364 pages.

Description: It's 1992 and Sarah is in love with Cahal, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. As they plan to graduate from university, all seems set for their happily ever after…

Fast forward to 2012 and something's gone wrong. Cahal is out of the picture and Sarah is divorced from Ian by whom she's had two children. What happened?

As Cahal walks back into Sarah's life, can they overcome past decisions and surrounding prejudice and make it work a second time around?


Rating:

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Book review: Step Back in Time by Ali McNamara


My edition: Paperback (proof copy), to be published on 7 November 2013 by Sphere, 436 pages.

Description: How many lifetimes would you travel to find a love that lasts for ever?

When single career girl Jo-Jo steps onto a zebra crossing and gets hit by a car, she awakes to find herself in 1964. The fashion, the music, her job, even her romantic life: everything is different. And then it happens three more times, and Jo-Jo finds herself living a completely new life in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. The only people she can rely on are Harry and Ellie, two companions from 2013, and George, the owner of a second-hand record store.

If she's ever to return from her travels, Jo-Jo must work out why she's jumping through time like this. And if she does make it back, will her old life ever be the same again?


Rating:

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Book review: Wish Upon a Star by Trisha Ashley


My edition: Paperback (proof copy), to be published on 7 November 2013 by Avon, 400 pages.

Description: Single mum Cally's life is all about her little girl Stella. She's resigned to the fact that the only romance she's going to get is from the rom-coms she watches, and with her busy job and her daughter, she doesn't have time to even think about love.

But life gets very tough when Stella gets sick. Balancing her job as a recipe writer and looking after Stella is all consuming, so when Cally meets handsome baker Jago the last thing she wants to do is fall in love, especially when she's been badly burned by a Prince Charming from her past.

Can laid-back, charming Jago unlock Cally's frozen heart and help her find true love and magic under the mistletoe?


Rating:

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Afternoon tea at Paramount in Centre Point



Most Londoners will have walked past the iconic Centre Point positioned above Tottenham Court Road station at one point or another, or at the very least glimpsed the 27th tallest skyscraper in the city from a distance, but how many of us have made it all the way to the top?

The 32nd floor of the concrete and glass-paned building houses the Paramount bar and restaurant, which not only provides guests with a spectacular panoramic view of the city but also gives them the opportunity to enjoy a High Tea - quite literally.

We visited the modern establishment on a typical gloomy British autumn day, yet despite the wealth of clouds obstructing our view we were still able to spot some of the city's most famous landmarks - including the London Eye, the Shard and the infamous Walkie Talkie building - while enjoying our tea.


Afternoon tea at Paramount can be enjoyed with leaves (£28pp) or with bubbles (£42pp), and comes with a wide range of gourmet sandwiches, a mini signature quiche of the day, a selection of confections and of course the traditional scones with clotted cream and jam, as no afternoon tea is complete without them.

We opted for the Jasmine Pearls and Chamomile teas and both looked incredibly enticing in their glass pots as the leaves and flower buds floated freely in the boiled water. We were given decanters as well as tea cups so we could pour in the tea from the pot before it became too strong, though in my case I'd left it just a tad too late.


All edible delights were served at the same time and we opted to start with one of the scones, hoping they'd still be warm from the oven. Unfortunately this wasn't the case and a cold scone - even when enjoyed with rich clotted cream and blackcurrant jam - isn't quite the same, so we moved onto the savoury offerings.

Instead of conventional egg, cucumber and ham sandwiches on white and brown bread, we were presented with a range of unique toppings including smoked salmon and fromage blanc, parma ham and piccalilli, and poached chicken with spring onion mayonnaise. They all came on wafer thin pieces of bread, which included varieties such as multi-grain and rye pumpernickel.

These canapes provided an interesting and welcome change from the normal selection of sandwiches offered at an afternoon tea and we really enjoyed trying them all and being surprised by the interesting flavour combinations.


The pastries ended up being the exact opposite from our expectations, with the salted caramel tart we were looking forward to being a bit too sweet and runny for our liking, yet the carrot cake we initially overlooked actually being a little piece of sticky heaven. We would've happily devoured more of the latter were it not for the fact that our eyes were far larger than our stomachs.

The confections that are included in this afternoon tea do change, so while on our visit we were also treated to a flavoursome and gooey chocolate brownie, two different kinds of macarons and individual tiramisus, the exact cakes and pastries on offer on the day remain a surprise for those visiting the highest afternoon tea in London.

Paramount, 101-103 New Oxford St, London WC1A 1DD

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Sunday post #13



Sunday is when I sit back with a lovely cup of tea and write about all the wonderful new books I've received and purchased in the past week. This post participates in fab memes Showcase Sunday and Stacking the Shelves.


Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman (competition win)
Finding It by Cora Carmack (review copy)
Hurt by Tabitha Suzuma (unexpected book post FTW!)
Take a Look at Me Now by Miranda Dickinson (review copy)
The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher (review copy)
The Memory of Midnight by Pamela Hartshorne (review copy)



I'm thrilled with my copies of Take a Look at Me Now (stunning cover by the way), which is a title I've been looking forward to for ages, and Hurt, as I read the haunting and poignant Forbidden by the same author years ago and I'm STILL thinking about it.

The Memory of Midnight and Finding It were unsolicited review copies and unfortunately I don't think I'll be reading the latter. I've not read the first two novels in the series and it's also a genre that I personally don't care for. The Memory of Midnight looks intriguing though, so when time allows I will try to pick it up.

This will be my last Sunday post for a while as I'll be on holiday in Scotland with limited Internet access from Friday onwards so will be posting less to my blog (if at all!) while I'm away. Hope you all have a few fab bookish weeks!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Hope's Relief Hydrating Lotion



Winter is coming, and not just in the HBO-show Game of Thrones. Temperatures will soon remain in single digits even during the day, which signals the start of the most difficult months for people who have dry or otherwise affected skin. Many of them will once again set out on the long and often unsuccessful journey to finding that one magical moisturiser which can give their irritated skin the ultimate relief.

Hope's Relief Hydrating Lotion aims to be that product at the end of the itchy tunnel as it battles not only dry skin but also eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. While I thankfully don't have an issue with the latter three conditions, and as such can't comment on the product's effectiveness when it comes to these, I do have a very dry skin and was eager to put the lotion to the test.

The first thing I noticed when using it was just how moist it was, the consistency made it very easy to apply and with just a small amount I was able to cover a large area of my body. The product was quickly absorbed leaving my skin soft, supple and with not a shiny patch in sight. This was particularly important to me as I find that one of the worst things when using creams is getting clothes stuck on your skin because the product doesn't absorb properly.

In the long term I felt that the lotion did exactly what it said on the tin. It left my usually dry and tight skin itch free and hydrated and I felt much more protected against the elements after having used it consistently for a few weeks.

The one thing I didn't enjoy however was the pungent smell, which had a medicinal hint to it. While I'm glad the brand didn't cover up the scent of the natural ingredients with strong chemicals or artificial perfumes, it was unfortunately something that lingered unpleasantly for a while. In fact, on more than one occasion it made me reach for an alternate lotion to use on other areas of my body to neutralise the smell.

Other than that I thought it was a lovely product to use. Pleasant to the touch and easy to apply, it boosted long-lasting nourishing qualities for my normally dry skin.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Book review: Through It All by Kristyn Lewis


My edition: Paperback, published on 4 July 2013 by Sphere, 352 pages.

Description: Waverly Brown is the anchor that keeps her tight circle of friends together. Loyal and generous with her time, she would do anything for Kate and Amy but she can't bring herself to tell even her best friends the truth about her bakery and her increasing debt. She's so consumed with her own worries that she almost misses what is right in front of her; something is wrong with Amy, terribly wrong.

Try as they might to reach out, Waverly and Kate can't make Amy open up to them. She refuses to admit there's anything wrong but Waverly is convinced Amy is in trouble and she's terrified. Can Waverly convince her friend to save herself before it's too late?

Rating:

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Cocktails with Melissa Hill and the Simon & Schuster team

A few weeks ago I received an advanced reading copy of Melissa Hill's new novel A Gift to Remember which I absolutely loved (you can find my review here). So you can imagine I was very excited when not much later I was contacted by Simon & Schuster with the question if I wanted to join the author and the publishing team for some cocktails to celebrate the book - to which the answer of course was "yes, please!"

We met at the 5th View Bar in Waterstones Piccadilly, which was a very apt meeting location for an evening of scrumptious cocktails and book chat with a bunch of lovely people. I also got the opportunity to talk briefly to Melissa herself while she was signing my copy of the book (see below) and ask her about the beautiful literary quotes she's included in the novel.

So in all, a pretty awesome night! Big thanks to Melissa and the team at Simon & Schuster for the invite and the wonderful evening.


My signed book


Melissa, her editor Clare and yours truly

Monday, 7 October 2013

Book review: Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff


My edition: Hardcover, published on 5 September 2013 by Puffin, 195 pages.

Description: Mila is on a roadtrip across the USA with her father. They are looking for his best friend but Mila discovers a more important truth.

Sometimes the act of searching reveals more than the final discovery can.

Adults do not have all the answers. It all depends what questions you ask.

A brilliantly atmospheric exploration of someone on the brink of adulthood, from Meg Rosoff, the prizewinning author of How I Live Now - now a major film starring Saoirse Ronan.


Rating:

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Sunday post #12



Sunday is when I sit back with a lovely cup of tea and write about all the wonderful new books I've received and purchased in the past week. This post participates in fab memes Showcase Sunday and Stacking the Shelves.



Not Without You by Harriet Evans (review copy)
Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff (review copy)
The Best Book in the World by Peter Stjernström (competition win)
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (competition win)
When You Walked Back Into My Life by Hilary Boyd (review copy)
Wish Upon a Star by Trisha Ashley (review copy)



I didn't receive many new books last week and decided to skip my Sunday post so I'd have a little more to show this time around - and what a gorgeous bunch they are! I've already finished When You Walked Back Into My Life (see my review here) and Picture Me Gone (review up soon) and am keen to pick up the others in the next week or two as well.

I'm particularly looking forward to Wish Upon a Star, though I may wait a few weeks for colder temperatures to set in. As for The Signature of All Things, isn't is the prettiest cover ever? Honestly, I don't even mind what the book is about, all I want to do is stroke the cover *weird*

Anyway, I hope you all had a brilliant bookish week ♥

Friday, 4 October 2013

Book review: When You Walked Back Into My Life by Hilary Boyd


My edition: Paperback, to be published on 10 October 2013 by Quercus, 424 pages.

Description: For eight years Flora's love affair with Fin was a whirlwind of fun and spontaneity - but when Flora wanted to settle down and have children, Fin vanished.

Life moved on and Flora's world filled with other people, other cares. There were benefits to being single - no socks under the bed, no mess in the bathroom - even if the memory of Fin could never be completely erased.

But then suddenly, shockingly, Fin reappears. He's a changed man, he says, and her wants her back. Is this a chance to put right the wrongs? Or a massive mistake?


Rating:

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Book review: A Gift to Remember by Melissa Hill


My edition: Paperback (proof copy), to be published on 24 October 2013 by Simon & Schuster, 405 pages.

Description: Darcy Archer works in a small bookstore in Manhattan. A daydream believer, she refuses to settle for anything less than being swept off her feet by the perfect man… literally.

One day, when cycling to work, Darcy accidentally crashes into a sharply dressed gentleman walking his dog. He is knocked out cold, rushed to hospital and the poor pup gets left behind.

Wrecked with guilt, Darcy takes the dog and makes plans to reunite him with owner, Aiden. As she discovers the mysterious stranger's world of books, travel, adventure and all the wonderful things she's ever dreamt about, Darcy builds a picture of this man and wonders if he could be THE ONE…

But does fantasy match reality? What happens when Prince Charming wakes up? Will Aiden be the happy ever after she's always imagined?

Rating: