Saturday 28 February 2015

A review of Cathy's Clown by Pam Howes - Five*


When seventeen-year-old Cathy Lomax falls from a table at a Walker Brothers concert, into the arms of biker Gianni Kandola, the safe, secure future she'd planned for herself is about to change. The couple fall in love and Cathy's long-harbored dreams of becoming a nurse are no longer the most important thing in her life. Gianni's estranged father is the owner of Kandola's Fair and a Wall of Death rider. Gianni hopes one day to follow in his father's footsteps, but first bridges need to be built and family relationships are put to the test. Maria, the Gypsy fortune teller, foresees danger for Cathy and warns Gianni, who misreads the signs… A sixties tale of love against all the odds.


I enjoyed this book - loved the setting in the 60's. Brought back some wonderful memories. The characters were all well defined and the stepfather particularly vile.

The story revolves around Cathy and Gianni and their relationship. The book couldn't be set at any other time either - any young woman wanting to train as a nurse would have to leave immediately if they fell pregnant or married, there are unplanned pregnancies, the Pill is still only for married women, police belittling female crime victims, and the dilemma of a young woman wanting a career rather than marrying and relying on her husband. This is very understandable when we see her mother and stepfather's relationship. 

Motorbike riders without helmets sent shivers up my spine!

Pam doesn't hold back on graphic detail and there are some shocking descriptions which are definitely not for the faint-hearted! The events leading to the end of the book were unexpected. I was completely wrong footed and I love it when a book can do that!

I look forward to the second book in the series.

Amazon UK: Cathy's Clown


Tuesday 24 February 2015

A review of First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan - 5*


Happily-Ever-After isn’t on Emily Donovan’s agenda…

Emily’s been too swept up in a challenging year of firsts, from becoming a stand-in mum to her niece Lizzy to moving to remote but beautiful Puffin Island, to think about love.
But that’s before charismatic local yacht club owner Ryan Cooper kisses her…

Ryan knows Emily has a complicated past that she’s struggling to face. So he makes it his mission to help her unwind and enjoy the chemistry they share.

Can the welcoming community of Puffin Island work their magic on Emily and get her to take her biggest leap of trust yet —putting her heart in someone else’s hands?

Let bestselling author Sarah Morgan whisk you away with the all new Puffin Island series!


I discovered Sarah Morgan through her Snow Crystal trilogy and was delighted to receive this as an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was sure I would not be disappointed and I was right!

The story is about Emily, Ryan and Lizzy and how Emily and Ryan overcome their demons. Emily has her 6yr old niece Lizzy thrust upon her following her famous half sister's death and takes her to Puffin island off the coast of Maine to hide from reporters. There she meets Ryan and the attraction is instant. But, because of dreadful incidents in their childhoods, they find it difficult to form a relationship, particularly Emily. 

The book is all about their dilemma and Lizzy's innocent interference. It is also about the wonderful residents of the island and their amazing support for each other. I laughed, I cried and I got very frustrated! Not with the book, but the characters! 

Was very sorry when it ended, but it was a real feel good ending and made me very happy.

Monday 23 February 2015

A review of From Here to Nashville by Julie Stock - Four *


Can Music Really Bring People Together? 

Rachel Hardy dreams of being a successful country music singer in Nashville’s Music City, four thousand miles away from her lonely life in Dorset. 

When Jackson Phillips, an independent record label owner, encourages her band to audition for a nationwide ‘Open Mic’ competition, she decides they have nothing to lose. 

But when she starts to fall in love with Jackson, the stakes suddenly get higher and she finds herself with a great big dilemma on her hands. Should she abandon her dream and take the easy way out or should she leave the life she has always known behind and take a gamble on a man who has personal demons of his own? 

Follow Rachel and Jackson as they learn to trust in love again and to see whether music really can bring them together.


Well done Julie! I've been waiting for what seems like forever to read this and it kept me entertained from beginning to end. It's the story of country singer/songwriter Rachel and her relationship with Nashville record mogul, Jackson.

I enjoyed the different locations - Dorset, Nashville and New York and Rachel's wonder as Jackson introduced her to his lifestyle. I loved the various live performances and the crowd responses to Rachel's own songs.

The secondary characters were all well written and I was pleased for Jenna and her new love. No spoilers, so I'll say no more! Jackson's ex, Stephanie, was particularly obnoxious and certainly put a spoke in the wheels of love for Rachel and Jackson!

I was really irritated by the fact they kept running away from each other whenever problems came up - but after thinking about it, I think that was more to do with me than the story! I always face up to problems and have scant patience for those who don't!

All in all, a great début And I look forward to the next book :)

Sunday 22 February 2015

Hi there! Something a bit different for you today. I don't know about you, but being an "Avid Reader" has sometimes made me wonder if I have a book in me. Perhaps I ought to try writing? But then reason prevails - I couldn't' read as much if I wrote! 

Jane Lovering has been musing on this subject this week. A survey said that the top 3 occupations that the public wanted were: author, librarian and academician. This is the link to Jane's response and spot on it is too! Enjoy!!

So Mr Public, you really want to be an author?

Wednesday 18 February 2015

I haven't left the country (sadly) but have been reading a Beta copy of a book for an author. Very exciting and more news will follow in due course. Suffice to say that I loved it! I'm now into From Here to Nashville by Julie Stock. I met Julie at Pippa Croft's book launch in December and have been looking forward to reading it. This is Julie's début novel and am really enjoying so far - it's even kicked an interest in country music into life!. Anyway more to follow about From Here to Nashville when I finish it :)

Friday 13 February 2015

Review of The Accidental New Yorker by Stephanie Wahlstrom - Four*


Paige Crawford, former accidental socialite, has managed to shed her Z-list celebrity status and pull her life into a semblance of normalcy. But more importantly, she's close to proving to her family and herself that she can make it on her own . . .

That is, until she's laid off from her job and left with no choice but to leave London behind for good.

She hops on a plane headed home to Canada, only to decide to give herself one more chance to make it before hers becomes a life of "I told you so's." So instead of walking onto her connecting flight, she leaves JFK Airport and steps into the wilds of New York City, where she soon learns her misadventures have only just begun.

And while she juggles writing a popular blog, locating a missing male model, and a sexy new boss who reminds her a little too much of home, Paige is about to learn that "making it" has nothing to do with where you end up, but everything to do with how you get there.

Sharp, witty and entertaining, Paige's adventures are perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond, Tracey Bloom, Sophie Ranald and Samantha Tonge.


I love New York and this book made me feel like getting on the next plane! It was a very funny book with larger than life characters. I know books like this aren't to everyone's taste, but I really enjoy them!
Paige is a very sympathetic character and a true lover of life and all it brings. Her adventures are sometimes very funny and sometimes very sad. She is very accident-prone (hence the title) and these accidents are very funny (the hair in the chilli was hysterical!)
Life doesn't always go her way but she makes the best of every opportunity - even when options disappear. Her friends and the men in her life are all strong characters in their own right .
The funniest scene in the book is Marcus' apartment with her, Marcus and her friend Carlos - I was crying with laughter!
I love the way Stephanie doesn't just concentrate on the bright lights and glitter of NYC. She also shows its dark side so the book has some contrast in it too.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was keen to see the outcome. I'll say no more about that though!

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Review: It Started at Sunset Cottage by Bella Osborne - Five*


‘A well written and very intriguing tale that I really enjoyed.’ – Katie Fforde

Kate Marshall is slowly getting her life back on track after losing her fiancé. As an author she has been able to hide herself away from the world and its expectations – but now one of her books has been optioned for a film and Hollywood suddenly comes knocking on her door!
When Kate is given the opportunity to stay at a beautiful country retreat and concentrate on the screenplay, it’s an offer she can’t refuse. Encouraged by her best friend, sharp-tongued single mum Sarah, Kate sees it’s finally time to stop letting life pass her by.

Looking for confidence and inspiration in the idyllic Cotswold countryside, the last thing Kate expects is for Timothy Calder, A-list actor and leading man in the movie adaptation of her book, to turn up on her doorstep, hoping to lie low after his latest tabloid scandal! But after a rocky start, with Tim narrowly avoiding death by watering can, they find they have a few things in common: a liking for Lady Grey tea, walnut whips and bad ‘knock knock’ jokes. Actually, the bad jokes are just Tim.

As an unlikely friendship begins to blossom, and with circumstances repeatedly throwing them together, is Sunset Cottage where both Kate and Tim’s lives will really start?


The book is to be published on 12th February 2015

This is Bella Osborne's début novel and a most enjoyable book it is too! It is the story of two friends, Kate and Sarah, and their trials and tribulations with men and love. Each has a past - Kate's fiancé James died in a motorcycle accident and Sarah's ex keeps turning up like a bad penny. The story follows them as they deal with their pasts and dip cautious toes into what could be a heart warming future.

The book made me laugh out loud at some parts and brought tears to my eyes in others. What I really liked was the contrast between the storylines. Sarah's life was like mine - ordinary but comfortable. Kate's was far more glamorous but the last person to realise that was Kate! The three main men in the book - Shaun, Andy and Tim could not have been more different and even the late James was flawed. Secondary characters were excellently drawn and Didi was a delight! I shall definitely be looking for Bella's second novel in the future!

I shall definitely be looking for Bella's second novel in the future!

Amazon UK: It Started at Sunset Cottage
Amazon US: It Started at Sunset Cottage

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Review of Barbecue and Bad News by Nancy Naigle - Five *


Welcome to Adams Grove…where the barbecue isn't the only thing that sizzles.
Savannah Dey politely agreed to attend her ex-husband’s wedding, but she’d be grateful for any reason to get out of it…which is why the speeding ticket from the handsome sheriff of Adams Grove is both a surprise and a reprieve. With one quick call to her editor, the aspiring columnist finds herself with a new assignment and the perfect excuse to get closer to the man who pulled her over. Now, all she needs is a way to deal with all the bad memories the small town dredges up…

Sheriff Scott Calvin can’t forget the woman who set off his radar, but he’s determined to send Savannah on her way. He’s done making bad choices, and this beautiful city gal is sure to leave Adams Grove once she finishes her story. By the time she’s stirred up a hornet’s nest, he’s already falling for her. Will trouble bind them together, or will her secrets tear them apart?


For anyone who hasn't discovered Adam's Grove - you're in for a treat. This is the latest in a series of books featuring the residents of the small town. The formula for this book is an interesting one and includes many of the occupants previously seen in previous books. Having said that, this book does stand alone well, although, if you're like me, you may want to read the others before this one is published!

This is the story of the Sheriff, Scott, and a newspaper reporter, Savannah. She is from another small town and has turned her back on it for personal reasons. He has been burned by previous relationships and they are cautious around each other. Neither is looking for a partner, but their feelings take over. There are interesting sub plots involving a mural and Scott.s mother, which add to the entertainment.

Nancy's books are all well written and focus on romance in the old fashioned sense of the word. This is no exception. And makes a wonderful change from the intensely physical aspects of love that other writers insist on putting in their books. For me, long live small towns, good manners and mutual respect! Loved it :)

Honest review in return for an ARC

Sunday 8 February 2015

Review of Kate & Alf by Carrie Stone - Three*


Kate loves Alf. And Alf loves Kate… Doesn't he?

Kate can’t wait for her long-term boyfriend Alf to propose. So he might be a bit of a control freak who’s obsessed with his career … and he also seems to have conveniently forgotten their two-year plan to get married, buy a bigger house and have children. But Kate’s sure that ring will be on her finger soon.

When her thirty-second birthday ends in humiliating, proposal-less disaster, even Kate is left wondering if Alf really is The One. Then Alf’s friend, Marcus, needs a place to stay. With his dark eyes, easygoing manner and kind concern for Kate, Marcus is everything Alf is not - and it's not long before Kate begins to wonder if there’s more to life than diamonds.


** spoiler alert ** 

I like books that have shade and light - contrasts of happiness and sorrow - much like life. Sadly this book concentrated far more on the sorrow and less on the happiness.

Alf was a character I couldn't get on with at all. After 7 years with someone, you become attuned to their moods and wants and desires. Not Alf. He didn't have a clue - and that was so unrealistic.

Kate's story was more realistic but the ending ruined it. She should have become more powerful and life-affirming instead of latching on to the new Alf in a very hurried last chapter.

Megan and Marcus' story was far more interesting and I enjoyed that - I have a feeling Carrie should have concentrated on the 3 "M's" and less on Kate and Alf.

Sorry - this one wasn't for me, but I will have a look at her next book. 

Amazon UK: Kate & Alf

Saturday 7 February 2015

A heads up on an exciting online event this very weekend! Romance Festival

A Romance Festival! Meet all your favourite authors at various online Q&A sessions throughout the weekend :) Competitions and general fun and games :)

Details are on here: Romance Weekend Authors

Saturday's programme: Romance Festival - Saturday
Sunday's programme: Romance Festival - Sunday

Register here to receive updates :) : Register here

See you there!

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Review for The Cake Shop in the Garden - Five*


Fay Merryweather runs her cake shop from her beautiful garden. She whips up airy sponges and scrumptious scones, while her customers enjoy the lovely blossoms and gorgeous blooms. Looking after the cake shop, the garden and her cantankerous mother means Fay is always busy but she accepts her responsibilities because if she doesn't do all this, who will?

Then Danny Wilde walks into her life and makes Fay question every decision she's ever made.

When a sudden tragedy strikes, Fay's entire world is thrown off balance even further and she doesn't know which way to turn. Can Fay find the strength to make a life-changing decision - even if it means giving up the thing she loves the most? Life, love and family are about to collide in The Cake Shop in the Garden.


I thought A Place to Call Home couldn't be beaten. I was wrong! This is a lovely story and beautifully written as always. The characters were fantastic - I particularly loved Lija and Stan. Carole's portrait of Fay's cantankerous mother is a masterpiece in creative writing!

Fay's dilemma was one I identified with readily. How many of us have been faced with a decision like that? Do we go with our heart - or the way we have always gone - with putting everyone else before ourselves? Fay fluctuates between the two roads and we are kept guessing until almost the end. And then the tension as she attempts to resolve the problem before it's too late!

I felt like strangling Fay's sister Edie at times - and cried buckets as well. This book would make a perfect romantic film; every emotion is present!

I can definitely say that I'm with Mary Berry - I'm a Carole Matthews addict!

Monday 2 February 2015

Review of Playing by the Greek's Rules by Sarah Morgan - Five*

It’s time to throw away the rule book...

Idealistic archaeologist Lily Rose craves a fairytale love, but in her experience it always ends in heartbreak. So now Lily’s trying a different approach – a fling with her boss, infamous Greek playboy Nik Zervakis!

Anti-love and anti-family, Nik lives by his own set of rules. There’s no one better to teach Lily how to separate sizzling sex from deep emotions! But, whilst Nik has the world at his feet, he also has dark shadows in his heart...

It starts as a sensual game, but can Lily stick to Nik’s rules? And, what’s more, can he... ?


Oh Sarah., you've outdone yourself! I absolutely loved this book! 
This is the 5th book of Sarah's that I've read and each one is better than the last!
It was great to meet Brittany again, but in this book, 
the Puffin Island girls were secondary characters. 
It was all about Lily and her divine Greek, Nik.
I loved their relationship and the way it changed and developed through the book. 
I loved their funny conversations. I loved their hot sex. 
I loved their interactions with other people, particularly Nik's father and his new wife. 

I cried with happiness at the end. 
There could never be any doubt about the final chapter, 
but to see it all in black and white was glorious! 
If you haven't read any Sarah Morgan books, what are you waiting for? 
This is a standalone book and a wonderful romance - go get it!

Amazon UK: Playing by the Greek's Rules
Amazon US: Playing by the Greek's Rules

Sunday 1 February 2015

A review of Cross Stitch by Amanda James - Five *


A stitch in time may save nine but a cross-stitch spells disaster … 
It should be the happiest day of her life. Despite past heartache, Sarah Yates is finally marrying her true love, John Needler. 

But Sarah and John can’t pretend they’re an ordinary couple. They’re time travellers and where time travel is involved, nothing runs smoothly. One minute Sarah is saying her vows and the next she is hurtled back in time to a country that is on the cusp of war, and into the company of the bad-tempered Veronica Ratchet. 

Newly-wedded bliss is certainly not on the cards for Sarah as events see her travelling from the British punk era to 1950’s America. And even when she returns home she can’t escape Veronica. 

But when the past and the present collide, that’s when the real problems start … 
Sequel to A Stitch in Time


Loved this book - it follows the adventures of Sarah and John in their time travelling. A wonderful new character, Veronica, is also introduced - in quite a startling manner! 

I enjoyed A Stitch in Time and have been looking forward to this book. I certainly wasn't disappointed. The relationship between John and Sarah changes slightly as they adapt to new circumstances. I'll say no more on that! 

I felt the relationships within the families were possibly tidied up a little too well but I'm delighted that the ending is such that another book is more than possible!

Amazon UK: Cross Stitch
Amazon US: Cross Stitch