Friday, 30 October 2015

Clutch: A Novel by Lisa Becker

This week for my 'Friday First', I am reviewing Lisa Becker's new release "Clutch", which is perfect for the handbag fanatic inside of me. Make sure to check out Lisa's Facebook and Twitter as she is giving away some handbags to celebrate the launch!

clutch: a novel is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.
Clutch is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit story that chronicles the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer, who goes through a series of unsuccessful romantic relationships she compares to various styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc.  With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to stand up for the handbag style that embodies what she ultimately wants – the “Clutch” or someone to hold onto.

Clutch sounded absolutely fantastic. I’m a bit of a handbag obsessive, and have been since I was a child, so this book sounds like it was made for me. It was broken down into what felt like short stories that flowed into one another. Each chapter/story is named after a type of bag, and cleverly they’re related to the bloke that Caroline is dating at the time. It was an excellent idea and well executed.

It was so easy to read, I found myself trying to convince myself that ‘one more paragraph’ would be enough before devouring more and more! It never was and could barely put the book down, only doing so to sleep. I really would have liked a few of the chapters to have been longer, sometimes focusing more on the relationship, as some of the relationships went on for a while, not just the one date. This of course is a minor thing, I really liked everything else about this book.

Caroline and Mike had a great dynamic, and a great sense of humour together. This is something that Caroline had throughout the book, she was always on point with her humour when on dates with her boyfriends, it was easy to see why people were attracted to her. Bubbly and funny, Caroline was easy to relate to.

This book was a lot of fun to read, and left me wanting more. Will definitely check out Lisa’s other book ‘Click’ which sounds just as much fun as this one was!

Order on Amazon now!
Gratefully received from the Author for review.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Why I Love...Back To The Future

Why I Love...Back To The Future

I know guys, I missed the perfect opportunity to post this article last week, but it never occurred to me until my friend Laura (@grumpygirlie) suggested it!  

I first saw them about 12 years ago when Simon was amazed that I hadn’t seen them before, and quickly they became my favourite series of films, and Simon and I being  a teeny tiny bit nerdy have named our home network around it, so our Wifi is called Mr Fusion, our password is related to BTTF and our network storage is called Marty. 

On Back To The Future Day last week, I went to the cinema to watch all three films back to back, and it was so worth it. I can pretty much remember every single scene in BTTF almost word for word, but number 2 and 3 I’m more sketchy on. Obviously I knew the plot, but on re-watching them again, other than the opening and end of BTTF3, it was almost like watching them for the first time as I had forgotten alot of the scenes and in jokes. It was absolutely fabulous experiencing the movies surrounded by other people who love the movies, and on the big screen it was just that little bit more special, and we all had a giggle at the end of BTTF2 when it informed us BTTF3 would be out Summer 1990, which I don't think is on the DVD version.

I love Michael J Fox, he is absolutely great as Marty, as is Christopher Lloyd as Doc. The running jokes that run through the movies endear me even more to the movies. In short, in my view all 3 films are pure perfection. I can’t help but smile whenever I think of them, and if I’m ever feeling down, I know sticking one of these blu-rays on will lighten my mood immensely, and along with Family Guy must be the most quoted thing between Simon and I, even if it’s just a simple ‘This is Heavy’ or randomly going 'MARTY' like the dorks we are.

Recommended Reading:

If I Could Turn Back Time by Nicola Doherty
Step Back In Time by Ali McNamara

The next two aren't stricly time travel, but do remind me of it in some ways.

Written in the Stars by Ali Harris
The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

Monday, 26 October 2015

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella


To Las Vegas . . . and beyond!!

Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) is on a major rescue mission! Hollywood was full of surprises, and now she's on a road trip to Las Vegas to help her friends and family.

She's determined to get to the bottom of why her dad has mysteriously disappeared, help her best friend Suze and even bond with long-time enemy Alicia Bitch Long-legs (maybe...).

As Becky discovers just how much her friends and family need help, she comes up with her biggest, boldest, most brilliant plan yet! So can she save the day just when they need her most?


Where do I even begin with this review? I have loved the Shopaholic series from the moment I started reading ‘The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic’, as I’ve mentioned before, this was one of the books that started my love for the Chick Lit genre, so I have high expectations of them, but know that Sophie Kinsella will never let me down. As soon as this arrived I dropped everything and started reading!

After only a year’s break, we have another book with Becky. It’s a good job too as Shopaholic to the Stars left on a cliff-hanger of everyone going to search for Becky’s dad and Friend Tarquin after they had been brainwashed by Bryce and gone on a trip without telling anyone. Once again we are treated to Sophie’s wonderful way of hooking you from page 1, so you just want to devour it in one sitting. As per usual the book starts with letters to Becky, with ones also added between chapters, and this time there are letters from an old friend of ours, Derek Smeath, which are hilarious replies to letters that Becky has written to him. These really made me laugh, especially the opening ones.

Becky is as lovely as ever, she feels bad after what happened in the previous book, and you can see it’s changing her. Some ways it’s for the better, she is the most mature in this book, but your heart falls when she isn’t her usual bubbly self at times. It’s great that with every Shopaholic book you see Becky mature as a person a little bit more each time. You really get her anguish and regret over her relationship with Suze and all that has happened, though of course you still love her as she constantly tries her best to improve things, and you can’t help but smile at her madcap schemes.

This book is pretty much perfection. You know the characters from before, but they just get better and better as their relationships develop with each other. Will Suze and Becky ever become best friends again? Can you trust Alicia? You’re never really sure until it’s resolved, instead you are driven to read more and more until you find the answers you’re looking for. Fun and full of laughs, this book is perfect to just relax with!

Order on Amazon now!

Published by: Bantam Press

Gratefully received from the Publisher for review.

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Lisa Dickenson

For this 'Friday First', I'm reading a much anticipated read and I'm very happy to be part of 'The Twelve Dates of Christmas' blog tour! Make sure you check out the other blogs on the poster below!


At thirty, Claudia's life is stale and the romance with long-term boyfriend, Seth, has disappeared. Determined to inject some festive spark back into their love life, Claudia and Seth go on their first date in a very long time. But when the night ends in disaster, Claudia suddenly finds herself facing life - and Christmas - alone.
Life alone is exciting, scary and full of soon-forgotten exercise regimes and ill-advised attempts at crafting sexy underwear. It's also filling up with dates, surprisingly. With best friends Penny and Nick at her side, a surplus of festive markets, mulled wine and Christmas tunes, Claudia attempts to face all this change with gusto. One thing's for certain: this year, Christmas is going to be very different ... 
This is the story of Claudia and her twelve dates of Christmas. Hilarious, uplifting and romantic, it's a story about losing love, finding love, and discovering what's been there all along. Expect Christmas sparkle, butterflies-in-your-stomach romance and a lot of very funny moments in The Twelve Dates of Christmas.


I've heard really good things about Lisa's previous books, however I had not read any of them, so was ecstatic to be asked if I wanted to review this for the blog tour.

The cover is beyond gorgeous. The lovely turquoise colour of the back ground, the gold foil snowflakes and London eye, the silhouette of the London skyline and the white snow. Perfectly wintery and Christmassy. The typography as well is just beautiful. Now, time to stop fawning over the cover and onto the contents inside.

From the get go, this book was incredibly readable. Everything from Claudia's struggle with her evil underwear to the incident in the bathroom was captivating and alot of it made me smile and laugh. Lisa has a fantastic way of writing to really get you visualising where Claudia is and how she is feeling is well written, clear and relatable.

Claudia's close friendship with Nick and Penny is one of my favourite trio's I've read. They obviously know each other really well and support each other. There is one incident when Penny tells Claudia something that made my Jaw drop and while I wish Claudia would have told Penny how she was feeling, I understand fully why she wouldn't and it doesn't matter how close I was to someone, it was a very difficult subject to approach, especially as she was denying her feelings to herself.
All the dates are varied but there are a few beyond the first one that are especially memorable. The blind date that Penny sets Claudia up with was just hilarious. Eddie was a disaster from the get go, but is a great example of the humour I was talking about earlier. The date with Billy was also one of my favourites and I really liked Billy as a character.

Of course there is conflict in the book not only in love interests but in friendships to, and the last third or so of this book really stood out, you could see exactly what everyone was thinking and while you wanted to shout 'just speak to one another', it's always easier to see what other people should do in situations, and nothing is ever clear when you're the one hurting.

This book has a wonderful wintery feel, with each date having the Christmas magic that this book promises. If you're looking for a book to get you in the Christmas spirit, this is the perfect place to start!

Order on Amazon now!

Published by: Sphere

Gratefully received from the Publisher for review.

Check out the other posts that have been on the blog tour!
Click the picture for a bigger version

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Why I Love...New York

Why I Love...Wednesdays is a new feature where me and sometimes guests will talk about a passion of theirs outside of books and then recommend some reads that feature what they love. For the first week I am starting with New York!

Why I Love...New York

I think I am literally the living, breathing version of the famous ‘I love New York’ campaign, made most famous by the I Heart NY logo. There is no place I’ve visited that I love more. Not even Disneyworld, which is the obvious choice if you know me. I first visited NY in October 2000 with my school’s Art trip. My first flight ever was 3 hours delayed, but eventually we got there and to our room at about midnight (so 5am UK time!!), after some sleep, I woke up and fell in love. This trip was amazing, and I must have gone on and on about how wonderful it was, as my mum and I visited very soon after in February 2001. While October was warm enough to just wear a Jumper, February was cold, and on the last full day there it started snowing, which was simply a magical end to the trip.

After that, other than planning dream vacations online, flying first class and staying at The Plaza, I didn’t visit New York again (which I realise I am incredibly lucky to have been there multiple times) till February 2010 with my Fiancé, Simon. It was our first holiday outside of Europe, and I couldn’t have been more excited to show him my favourite place on earth. We got the train into Manhattan, and threw our bags in the hotel room, barely stepping foot in it, so we could get the most of our time there. We visited all the landmarks, wandered around central Park in the sunny but chilly weather, with small patches of snow around us. It was just perfect, Simon even let me go to the Engagement Ring floor in Tiffany’s and naturally I zoned onto the only pink diamond in the room. Bit out of our budget at $400,000 (excluding tax), but can you blame me for dreaming ;). On the last day we visited the Museum of Modern Art and saw an exhibit from Tim Burton, featuring models from Nightmare before Christmas, Concept artwork, even a picture book he wrote as a child, it was fascinating!

2013 was an unexpected trip to New York. A school friend of Simon’s who now lives in America was getting married and we were invited to the ceremony in Amherst, Massachusetts which is a couple of hours drive away from NY, so Simon and I decided to stay in NY for 3 days, drive to Amherst for the wedding and celebrations then head back to NY to catch our flight.  Quickly arranged but even though we didn’t get to do much compared to the previous trips, this might just be my favourite one. I FINALLY got to go up the Empire State Building at night (something we planned to do in 2010 but never managed it – long story). We were a little tipsy after an amazing meal at our favourite steakhouse (evidence provided with the photos below) and it was an unplanned trip up there, so I didn’t have my camera, but, actually, I wouldn’t change it for the world, blurry iPhone photos and all. Simon and I have such fond memories of this trip. I could go on for days about it.

New York is just beyond special. Central Park is beautiful, and beyond the trees, you can see the city that lays past its boundaries, it would be the perfect place to just sit and read all day in the summer. The shopping is obviously fantastic, but I just love wandering down the avenues and streets and looking at the architecture. I love the bustling and the busyness that embodies New York. Every time I visit places I’ve visited before while there, there is always something new that I notice. It’s just perfection for me, and given a choice, there is no place on Earth I would rather be and there will be more to look forward to, as Simon proposed to me recently, and what better place to get married than New York?

Recommended Reading:

I Heart…New York by Lindsey Kelk
The Charm Bracelet by Melissa Hill 
Shopaholic Abroad by Sophie Kinsella

Fix You by Carrie Elks

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Sunday Catchup - Week 1

I've been umming and ahhing over the last few months whether to do a weekly review of the books I've read and plan to read in the next week, hopefully having the benefit of a more structured reading time, so I'm not taking days to decide on a book. I may also talk about the books I received or bought that week, but that is to be decided, is that something you would like to see? Anyway, here we go...

Read This Week:

Shopaholic to the Rescue - Sophie Kinsella
Released 22nd October

To Las Vegas . . . and beyond!

Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) is on a major rescue mission! Hollywood was full of surprises, and now she's on a road trip to Las Vegas to help her friends and family.

She's determined to get to the bottom of why her dad has mysteriously disappeared, help her best friend Suze and even bond with long-time enemy Alicia Bitch Long-legs (maybe...).

As Becky discovers just how much her friends and family need help, she comes up with her biggest, boldest, most brilliant plan yet! So can she save the day just when they need her most?

I really love Sophie Kinsella's books, especially the Shopaholic series, as the first one was one of the first books I read of this genre. This book is out on the 22nd Oct, so make sure to check it out!

The Beach Hut - Veronica Henry

On Everdene Sands, a row of beach huts holds the secrets of the families who own them - secrets of unrequited love, plain old-fashioned lust, childhood dreams and long-forgotten hopes...
'FOR SALE: a rare opportunity to purchase a beach hut on the spectacular Everdene Sands. "The Shack" has been in the family for fifty years, and was the first to be built on this renowned stretch of golden sand...'
Jane Milton doesn't want to sell her beloved beach hut, which has been the heart of so many family holidays and holds so many happy memories. But when her husband dies, leaving her with an overwhelming string of debts, she has no choice but to sell.
THE BEACH HUT follows the stories of the people who own the beach huts, families who come to Everdene each year, people who fall in - or out of - love, remembering their pasts, or trying to forget them...

I've never read anything by Veronica Henry before, but always admired the covers and added quite a view to my TBR pile. I am visiting a few events at the end of this month for Yeovil Literary Festival and one of them is a talk with Veronica Henry, who is the only author I am seeing whose books I've never read, so I thought I would change that! 

Currently Reading:

Clutch: A Novel - Lisa Becker
Released 26th October

Clutch: a novel is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc. 

With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto

I just love bags, I was always teased by my parents at having so many when I was younger, and I've actually passed my habit onto my mother, so I think I am having the last laugh! When I was offered the chance to review this book, nothing in the world could stop me saying 'Yes Please'!

Next Week's Reading:

Our Song - Dani Atkins
Released 14th January 2016

The stunning new emotional drama from ebook phenomenon Dani Atkins, author of Fractured - perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Dorothy Koomson.

This is the story of Ally and Charlotte, whose paths have intersected over the years though they've never really been close friends. Charlotte married Ally's ex and first true love, David. Fate is about to bring them together one last, dramatic time and change their lives forever.

Full of Dani's signature warmth and emotion, this is a gripping and emotional family drama. With breath-taking plot twists, Dani explores themes of serendipity, friendship and love. She fully engages the reader in the dilemmas faced by her characters. What would you do if your husband was the love of somebody else's life? And when faced with an agonising decision, could you put the past behind you and do the right thing?

This isn't out till 14th January 2016, but I was lucky enough to be sent a proof copy of this book a few weeks ago (Thanks Sara at Books and the City!) and it is perhaps the most beautiful book I've received to date, pictured above. It came with a slip cover, that you can see is just really pretty, with the handwritten style names intertwining with each other.  I've not read either of Dani's other books, but heard amazing things about them. I have sort of cheated and read the first page or two the instant I received this, and I can tell it is one I will adore!

It Started With Paris - Cathy Kelly

It all started with Paris...

At the top of the Eiffel Tower, a young man proposes to his girlfriend - and in that second, everything changes - for the couple, but also for their families back in Ireland...

Leila's been nursing a badly broken heart since her husband upped and left, but she's determined to put on a brave face for the bride. Vonnie, a widow and exceptional cake-maker, is just daring to let love back into her life, although someone seems determined to stop it. And head teacher Grace finds the impending wedding of her son means that she's spending more time with her ex-husband. After all those years apart, is it possible she's made a mistake?

Another Author I've never read, noticed a theme yet :). I was recently gifted this as part of Ninja Book Swap from Julie at Boon's Bookcase (Thank you again if you're reading!!) and it's just too tempting to not read this ASAP!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Coming Home by Annabel Kantaria

I've decided to do a new feature on Friday's where I will review a book where the author is new to me. It doesn't matter if it is a debut book, like in the case today, or if the author has written 10 books, as long as the author is new to me it counts, as I love discovering new authors!

The darker the secrets, the closer they lie. 
An ordinary family. 
A devastating betrayal.

Evie has been away from home long enough to bury the pain that shaped her childhood.Now, with the sudden death of her father, she must return. Back to the same house. Back to the memories. Back to her mother.At first, coming home feels unexpectedly comforting. But, as she goes through her father’s files, Evie uncovers a secret that opens old wounds and changes her life forever.That’s only the beginning.As Evie’s world starts to shatter around her, she realises that those she loves most are also those capable of the deepest betrayal.

Coming Home sounded really interesting and intriguing. The opening chapter grabbed me, with Annabel's friendly, descriptive writing. It eases you into the story, despite being a sad event that kicks off the story. 

I really liked Evie, you understood exactly how she was feeling and none of her reactions seemed unrealistic. She obviously had a hard childhood, with the flashbacks to grief counseling being some of my favourite scenes in the book. Her parent’s reaction the loss obviously had an extra effect on Evie, and it was horrible to hear how she felt. Neither of her parent’s really recovered, and both reactions meant that Evie never really had the best relationship that they could have. This continues into her adulthood, her seemingly running away from her problems when she follows her best friend and moves to Dubai.

Evie’s mother is a temperamental and complex character. She wasn’t likable at times, but her complexity really drew me to the story. 

While I saw one or two of the twists coming, there are one or two big ones that were a complete surprise, really well thought out, and quite a lot darker than I expected, it’s that unexpectedness that made the book for me. Definitely worth adding to your collection, and am keeping an eye out for Annabel's next book due out in April 2016!

Order on Amazon now!

Published by: Mira

Gratefully received from the Publisher for review.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Dickinson

The gift of a lifetime?

Anna Browne is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. Her day job as a receptionist in bustling London isn't exactly her dream, yet she has everything she wants. But someone thinks Anna Browne deserves more . . .

When a parcel addressed to Anna Browne arrives, she has no idea who has sent it. Inside she finds a beautiful gift - one that is designed to be seen. And so begins a series of incredible deliveries, each one bringing Anna further out of the shadows and encouraging her to become the woman she was destined to be. As Anna grows in confidence, others begin to notice her - and her life starts to change.

But who is sending the mysterious gifts, and why?

The only book I've read of Miranda's is 'It Started with a Kiss' and that was a few years ago. I enjoyed that one and was eager to read this one as it sounded interesting and the synopsis had a slight magical feeling like the books from Melissa Hill.

The writing is incredibly descriptive, every action and feeling is narrated. It is predominantly set in what seems like a small number of settings, but you don't notice that, as Mirada's writing means it never gets old, and you're just absorbed into the story.

I have mixed feelings on Anna. For the most part she is lovely, but at times she was almost too nice, kind and, like Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way. Though she did have a flaw that, at times she got angry at people for reasons that is beyond me. Obviously there were times when she was fully justified, but there was a couple of times where I think she over reacted, especially the first time with Ben in the coffee shop. It seemed a complete contrast with her sweet personality. Obviously everyone has flaws, but it seemed to come from nowhere.
However this didnt put me off of the book and I loved her upbeat and positive thinking, despite her colleagues and friends being suspicious of the senders intentions. Pretty much everyone loves receiving gifts, and the unknown adds a little magic to it.

I liked all the other characters, they all had distinct personalities and in their contrast, they suited Anna. I especially liked the parts of the book that were told through the eyes of someone else, getting their perspective. I would say my favourite characters was the handsome Ben, Anna's boss Juliet and her colleague Sheniece. 

However there was one character I didn't like was Anna's mum, and while they were some of the emotional and best scenes, showing Anna to be a strong and the better woman, I don't think I would have treated her as nice as Anna did.

This book has the magical quality I was hoping for, with easy to read descriptive writing that captivates you from the get go, making it hard to put down. It leaves you with a warm feeling inside, and what more can you ask for?

Order on Amazon now!

Published by: Pan Macmillan

Gratefully received from the Publisher for review.
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