The Year I Met You by Cecilia Ahern


What they say: A thoughtful, captivating and ultimately uplifting novel from this uniquely talented author

Jasmine know two things: one, she loves her vulnerable sister unconditionally, and will fight to the death to protect her from anyone who upsets her. Two, she’s only ever been good at one thing – her job helping business start-ups.

So when she’s sacked and put on gardening leave, Jasmine realises that she has nothing else to fill her life. Insomnia keeps her staring out of her bedroom window, and she finds herself watching the antics of her neighbour, shock jock Matt, with more than a casual eye. Matt is also taking a forced leave of absence from work, after one of his controversial chat shows went too far…

Jasmine has every reason to dislike Matt, and the feeling appears to be mutual. But not everything is as it seems, and soon Jasmine and Matt are forced to think again…

 

The Review:

To start, I’d like to draw your attention to is the cover. I read the paperback version and, on seeing the other lighter, brighter cover, was thrilled that I had this one. I can see why there were two possible covers as I suppose you could look on this book as a sombre book or an uplifting one. It could be telling that this was the one for me. (Note, coming into the time of year that’s in it, this particular cover and of course the book itself, will tick every box in terms of setting a cosy, autumnal/ wintery mood.)

The book, from the start, was atmospheric, the mood dark. The story of Jasmine, sacked from her job and not being able to take another for a year, trundled along slowly, pulling you along with it, until it was you that this was happening to, being driven by the fact that the light in your life had been muted, the driving force halted. Had this been a movie, I would assume that there would be some form of an odd noise in the background thoughout, had it been written differently, I have no doubt that noise would have given me a headache, thankfully it wasn’t. I loved this book. I don’t think any amount of gushing will do it justice, it was just the perfect mix of dark and brightness.

I read the book over a few nights, purely due to bad timing (it could easily be devoured in the space of twenty-four hours), but I’ll be honest, I looked forward to each night when I could pick it up and savoured every second. The street Jasmine gazed into every night reminded me of the street I was living on and so I became a curtain twitcher, which made me want to pull the book out again.

A central part of the book was how Jasmine watched Matt, a radio personality neighbor of hers who would arrive home late every night, drunk, loud and unapologetic for what he was putting his family and the street through.

I adored her relationship with Matt, probably one of the most unexpected things of the story, as Ms Ahern decided not to go the obvious way. Matt was a character very important on turning all of her pre-conceived notions on their head. I found him to be vivid and loud and honest and blunt and brilliant.

As for the other characters, the introduction of them in terms of her memories, were perfectly done, her cousin, her father, her mother. Her sister was so vibrant and beautiful and I loved how she surprised Jasmine. Jasmine’s neighbours appeared before my very eyes from the start and made me see the street properly. As for Jasmine herself, I loved her way of thinking and her smart sense of humour. The only thing was, the description I had in my head didn’t match up with the author’s, I think I had the image formed from page one. I possibly missed something, so I’m afraid I had a different girl peering through her windows at night to that dreamt up by other people, but I suppose that’s what books are for, we all have our own way of seeing things (I think the bloggers out there who can match an actor to a character in books have God given talents for this, it’s something I’d love to be able to do.)

The title of the book is perfections. As the pages turn we go through the seasons with some lovely descriptions on gardening (a nice touch considering the lead, Jasmine, is on gardening leave) with each one mirroring a change in both Jasmine and the people around her. Even just writing this I am still in awe that a single sentence on one of her neighbours, dropped casually into an aside made me cry so much.

I’ll be honest, I read a few of the reviews before I wrote this, not something I usually do, and a few were disappointed at where the build in tension took them. I wasn’t (all I can say without giving anything away).

A beautiful, captivating book that I have been recommending all around me since I read, there is no doubt in my mind as to why Ms. Ahern is where she is in terms of sales and popularity. Adored this. So much. My advice? Read it, preferably the way I did, in paperback, by lamplight, and at night time.

Rating: 5/5

 

Little Acts of Love by Tilly Tennant

little acts of love

 

What they say: Mishaps in Millrise – a four-(novella)-part romantic spin-off from Mishaps and Mistletoe

‘Tilly Tennant has obvious talent for turning the every day into a fairy tale… a sweet touch and light humour’ BestChickLit.com

If you’re new to the town of Millrise, then come and meet the residents. But if you fell in love with Phoebe and Jack last Christmas in Mishaps and Mistletoe, then you’ve just been invited to the best reunion ever…

Almost five months have passed since Phoebe and Jack first met in the grotto of a drunken Santa at Hendry’s toy store in Millrise. Since then, Jack and his adorable daughter, Maria, have turned Phoebe’s life around. As she and Jack get closer, Phoebe decides it’s time to put her stagnating career back on track too, which means going for a big promotion at work.

But nothing is ever simple in the strange little world of Hendry’s, and Phoebe is soon wishing she’d stayed on the tills. At home, things aren’t much better as the couple brace themselves to meet their respective in-laws. It’s clear from the start that making friends and influencing people has never been harder. And to make it worse, Phoebe must compete for the affection of Jack’s parents with the perfect partner and mother – who’s been dead for five years…

The Review: First off thanks to Netgalley for providing me with this book in return for an honest review.

Let me start by saying how much I loved this cover, such a pretty, intricate little cover, that, coupled with the blurb, made me think that this would be a nice easygoing read. This it was, and being part of a serial collection of books, and a novella at that, it flew by.

I had not read the book that this was a spin off from and so did not know Phoebe, Jack or indeed his daughter, Maria. We were told that they had been together four months but from the start it didn’t really feel like that. I might have missed Jack’s age, but it seemed he was older than Phoebe, and so their relationship seemed odd, as I would have expected a parent who had lost their spouse to not become so serious within a four month time-frame. This was one of the big problems of the book, I felt it needed a bit more of an introduction to the characters, maybe a smart few lines that would describe both them and their relationship more. If I’d read the first book and gotten to know Jack more I might have seen his behavior here out of character- I found him cranky and standoffish with Phoebe, with a bit of a temper, snapping at her a little too much and too loudly when she did not deserve it.

Another reason the book before would have made things easier was that I couldn’t tally the fact that a few months ago Phoebe hadn’t liked children at all and now her dream job was to be higher up in a toy company.

This all sounds like I didn’t like the book, but I loved the scenes with her mother and father, and found the descriptions of a father’s partaking in a war reenactment hilarious. I have to admit that this was the homely aspect to the book I wanted when I first saw the cover. The book was very nicely written and, I’ll be honest, if I’d read this a few years ago I’d probably have been giving this a 5/5, I think from Phoebe and Jack’s behavior it is aimed at a younger reader (I’m thirty five years old). The other thing that didn’t sell it to me was it being divided into four segments when I think one book would have sewn this all together a little more tightly ( I think the hook of this was introduced a little suddenly and late into this novella, but would have worked as part of one book.) I’m sure others will think differently, bringing me back to my constant thought that no two people will get the same out of any given book, everyone has different thoughts and ideas, things that work for them and things that don’t.

All in all, not for me, but a lovely light read that will appeal to so many so try not to take this pernickety old reviewer’s word for it.

Rating: 3/5

I Need A Hero by Emma Bennett

I Need A Hero

First off thanks so much to Net Galley for supplying me with this book in return for an honest review.

From page one I knew I was in for a treat. The setting was so vivid I could imagine the little twin cottages, one unused and slightly unkempt, the other so loved and tended to. The writing style was warm and inviting and I adored that she was a writer and an avid reader. There were some truly brilliant moments where Ms Bennett had events occurring and Bronte would give the nod to various books. Later, her own work began to echo what was happening. I ADORED these intricacies.

I also really enjoyed that we got to meet her writing group and writing friends, including Camille, who I found to be a breath of fresh air. Although beautiful, she wasn’t aware of it and was always quick to point out the good points of people and help out where she could.

A friend often turns a mirror to the main character, and I’m afraid this is where I was slightly put off. I found myself comparing Camille and Bronte. It was funny that Camille was a writer of darker material, while Bronte authored romantic novels, as Camille was without a doubt the positive one, and I found Bronte to be slightly difficult to read. I tried to warm to her, but, even taking into account that there is nothing wrong with being a little closed in terms of what a person puts out to the world, I just couldn’t. I found her negative and opinionated, a trait again amplified by the arrival of an easier character, the lovely Ryan Murphy. (I will admit the name grated on me just a little, as yes, I am Irish, and found it and him stereotypical, although his character, luckily, was bigger than the stereotype.)

In terms of story-line, I found Bronte’s reasoning and rationale for her actions not really strong enough to warrant her attitude towards the gent of the manor, Sebastian, who I don’t have a particular opinion on, except to say that it was genius how and when he turned up, and Bronte’s thoughts on him being around initially.

All in all, I loved this book. I know from some of my ravings above it doesn’t seem like it, but I devoured it, and looked forward to reading on. One thing, though, is it came up on my Kindle as a ‘fun Summer read’ and I have to disagree, I found it to be lovely, warm, homely, quaint … not characteristics I’d put with ‘fun’ or ‘Summer’. There were some funny bits (I would read it just for her cat, Mr Darcy, and his reaction to both her and others in the story) but all in all, it wasn’t that sort of book and was more suited to a cold evening in with a warm drink (in fact it was set in the latter half of the year and the weather matched this).

I would have no hesitation in recommending, especially coming into Autumn, and also for fans of the classics, those who enjoy, for example, Jane Austen’s books will LOVE this, due to the comparisons and references used. Anyhoo, to summarise, I will most definitely be jumping into Ms Bennet’s back catalog. Simply lovely.

Rating 4.5/5

Best Summer Reads (From the people who know best!)

The books below are best Summer reads from some of my favourite bookish people (putting it mildly, some of the people featured here are my absolute idols!). They are light Summer reads either from this year, any time, or of all time. In terms of the line-up, I was both in awe and honoured by the readiness of all involved to participate, and their professionalism, showing that book-lovers are the best people! Contributors  include members of the Imagine, Write, Inspire group, of which I am a member myself, as well as my favourite bloggers, writers and authors. So basically people who know their stuff!

For readers still due to fly the coop this Summer, I hope you’ll find that some of these will brighten up your holiday. For the remaining book lovers out there, I’m sure some of these picks will provide you with a comparable escape. There are some gems in here. Enjoy:)

Note: All links for books, blogs and Twitter accounts are found within the text of the post. Authors who have given a pick have their author pages and/ or books under the heading ‘books.’ So if you want to search out one of their books instead, feel free!

Aimee Alexander (Author, Blogger)

My summer reading choice is The Girl’s Guide To Hunting And Fishing by Melissa Bank, which I read years ago and have never forgotten. The book has nothing to do with hunting or fishing! It’s simply a story about the loves and relationships of a smart, funny New Yorker as she struggles to make sense of it all – if indeed you can! It is a beautifully written book with a central character who is as wonderfully flawed as she is clever. I loved it. The Girls' Guide To Hunting And Fishing Books: All We Have Lost, The Accidental Life of Greg Millar, Pause to Rewind

Aimee’s Blog

Aimee on Twitter

Tracie Banister (Author, Blogger)

On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves (Women’s Fiction) This tale of unexpected love and survival on a tropical island is the perfect beach read because it’s such a page-turner (I mainlined it in less than 24 hours!) On the Island had such an impact on me that I still smile and tear up when I think about certain scenes in it. A poignant, beautifully developed romance, wonderful characterizations, dangers aplenty, and surprising plot twists – this book has it all! On The Island Books: Twin Piques, In Need of Therapy and Blame It on the Fame

Tracie’s Blog

Tracie on Twitter

Char (Charlotte) Bennett (Blogger: BasicallyBooksBlog)

My summer read is always Beautiful Disaster by Jamie Mcguire . I read it every summer.

Beautiful Disaster

Charlotte’s Blog

Charlotte on Twitter

Amanda Jayne Bonsell ( Book blogger: AJ Book club)

How to Bake the Perfect Apple Pie by Gina Henning (Home for the Holidays, Book 3) It reminds me of my holiday in America, I loved the 4th of July in New York and Las Vegas. Also me and my daughter Sophie love to cook and Gina’s books have recipes. They are fun and it is a nice easy to read book by a very talented author. I love all three of the books in this series and it’s great to have on Kindle to read by the pool. How to Bake The Perfect Apple Pie Also the Cherry Tree Café by Heidi Swain. This book is fab too as I love to do crafts and love cooking. A lovely summer time read. The Cherry Tree Cafe Amanda Jayne’s Blog

Amanda Jayne on Twitter

Susannah Branson (Historical fiction writer, Member of IWI, Blogger)

A Game of Scones, by Samantha Tonge, set on a Greek island. It was good fun. A Game of Scones Susannah’s Blog

Susannah on Twitter

Aimee Brown (Book blogger: Hello Chick Lit)

I actually have two that I’ve loved this summer. The first one is ‘Can’t Always Get What You Want‘ by Chelsey Krause – The book is funny, touching and reminds me of a cross between Cecilia Ahern and Sophie Kinsella. I loved the medical story line and the way the story is told. It’s one of those books that will stick with you forever as a favorite. Can't Always Get What You Want The second one is ‘Absolutely True Lies‘ by Rachel Stuhler – This book is fun, and irritating all at the same time. I loved the story and was always pulling for the main character and it never actually went where you thought the story was going to go, it surprised you! I loved that, and when I was done it became a book to toss into the favorites pile.

Aimee’s Blog

Aimee on Twitter Absolutely True Lies

Virginie Busette (Book blogger: Chouett.com)

I think you will enjoy Return to Bluebell Hill by Rebecca Pugh aka @BeccasBoooks. I loved it. Return to Bluebell Hill Virginie’s Blog

Virginie on Twitter

Bethany Clark (Book Blogger: One Book At A Time)

I would have to say my first choice in books to read would be the How to Bake series as a whole from Gina Henning – How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie – How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake and How to Bake the Perfect Apple Pie. I love this series as a whole! The story line pulls you in and you can’t wait to find out more about Lauren’s life and what will happen next! There is one more book to end the series shortly and I’m dying to read it! The characters are genuine, you can relate to their stories and Lauren really feels like the best friend you grew up next to all your life! How to bake series Bethany’s Blog

Bethany on Twitter

Siobhan Davis (Author, IWI member, Book Blogger: My YA & NA book obsession)

I don’t normally read a lot of women’s fiction – I’m much more into NA and YA – but I’ve recently read some brilliant books that fall into this genre that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to your readers. I love the Due South series by an amazing New Zealand author, Tracey Alvarez. There are 3 full-length books, one novella, and one short story in this collection. In Too Deep, which is Book 1, is free to download from Amazon, B& N, Kobo and iBooks. Tracey’s writing is sublime and her world-building is breath-taking. But it’s her characters that bring me back time and time again. Character development is really strong and all the characters are complex with plenty of skeletons in their closets! There is plenty of steamy romance and witty dialog and I literally devoured every book in record-breaking time. My favourite book is the third one, Ready to Burn – it has some of the funniest dialogue I’ve ever read in a book. Due South Series Ready to burn I recently read a fantastic rom-com called Miss Match by Laurelin McGee. It wasn’t just laugh-out-loud funny, it was roar-out-loud funny. I was in convulsions. The plot is quite predictable but I loved the book for it’s exemplary execution. I’d highly recommend it. Miss Match My True Calling series is now a completed series with 3 full length novels, one short story and one novella. True Calling, Book 1, is now perma-free on Amazon, B& N, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd and Tolino.

Siobhan’s Website

Siobhan’s Blog

Siobhan on Twitter

Simona Elena (Blogger: Sky’s Book Corner)

The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon signifies a lot of positive feelings for me. First of all it’s set in key West, one of my favourite places in Florida. I spent some time there last April and I fell in love with the keys. I had to reread the book immediately and it was amazing revisiting all these fab places with Laura, the main character. It’s a great summer read full of love, emotions, sunshine and depth. Paige’s writing is just wonderful, full of rich details, charm and magic! Perfect for summer!!! The longest holiday Simona’s Blog

Simona on Twitter

Emma Louise (Book Blogger: Emmaloubookblog)

For a great Summer read, I always turn to Paige Toon and in particular, The Longest Holiday. With fun in the Orlando sun; the book is jam packed with beautiful scenery, fantastic characters and a plot you do not want to miss. The longest holiday Emma Louise’s Blog

Emma Louise on Twitter

Caroline Finnerty (Author)

I’m just back from holidays and one of the books that had me gripped was ‘I let you go‘ by Clare Mackintosh. A psychological thriller story with lots of twists and turns, it tells the story of Jenna Gray who is walking away from everything that she knows to start a new life in a remote cottage in Wales. I don’t want to give away the story so I’ll just say that it’s deeply atmospheric, with beautiful descriptive passages of the Welsh coastline, this book will keep you turning the pages. I let you go Another book I would recommend for warm summer days (pay attention Irish summer!) is ‘Instructions for a Heatwave‘ by the brilliant Maggie O’Farrell. This book starts with the great opening line, ‘The heat, the heat.’ Set in London during the heatwave of 1976 Robert Riordan leaves to buy the paper one day and doesn’t come back. Gretta his wife summons their children to the family home and as they all come together to help find their father, the complicated lives of this family unfold. Instructions For A Heatwave Books: ‘In a Moment’, ‘The Last Goodbye’ and ‘Into The Night Sky’. Her fourth novel ‘My Sister’s Child’ will be published in August 2015.

Caroline’s website

Caroline on Twitter

Kirsty Greenwood (Author, Book Blogger: Novelicous)

My Summer read is the Primrose Terrace series of novellas by Cressida McLaughlin. I read the first one and it’s so sweet and funny – and I can’t wait to read the next three over the coming months. Cressida writes with such warmth and wit – it’s so comforting and escapist. Perfect for reading on a beach somewhere.

Primrose Terrace

Books: Yours Truly, The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance

Kirsty’s Blog:

Kirsty on Twitter:

Jenny Hale (Author, Blogger)

When I was asked by Bernadette to choose a top summer read I could feel the swell of panic. While I’ve read a ton of wonderful books, I decided that if I’m going to recommend one, it had better be an all-time favorite of mine! So, I set out, digging my way through my stacks of books. Choosing one wasn’t easy—I had a pile—but in the end, when I imagine sitting on the front porch in the heat of summer, with my iced tea and bare feet, I had to go with my very favorite, Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella. Remember Me? is a story of Lexi, a regular 25-year-old girl who wakes up in the hospital having lost the last three years of her life. This story has it all—rags to riches, a handsome guy who happens to be a millionaire (never hurts), glamorous friends, and it begins with Lexi’s jewelry making, karaoke-loving friends! If all of that doesn’t scream summer read, just to be sure, they’ve put a giant sunflower on the front cover! This book, in true Sophie Kinsella style, is hilariously funny, heartwarming, and rich in good storytelling. So, my all time sit-on-the-porch-in-the-heat-of-summer read is this book! Happy reading! Remember me Books include: Coming Home for Christmas, Love me for Me, A Christmas to Remember and her latest Summer by the Sea

Jenny’s Blog

Jenny on Twitter

Gemma Harding (Book Blogger: Book Mood Reviews)

The book that came to mind for me was The Wedding Proposal by Sue Moorcroft and published by Choc Lit. The Wedding Proposal It just captured the memories I had of Malta and had this great, sweet romance that I used to read all the time before i seemed to drift into darker, erotic romance. It is just the perfect beach read and made me want to go on holiday to Malta after finishing it.

Gemma’s Blog

Gemma on Twitter

Carmel Harrington (Author, Blogger, Leader of IWI group, freelance writer and TV3 Midday panelist)

Next up on my kindle is Alexandra Brown’s The Great Village Show. I adore Alex’s books, they never fail to charm me. As soon as I finish my current edits, this book is my reward. The Great Village Show I have to include a book that I’ve just finished. For a heartwarming, laugh out loud, summer read, Claudia Carroll’s Meet me in Manhattan is a must read. i read it in one satisfying, smile inducing sitting. Meet Me In Manhattan And for anyone (like me) who considers To Kill A Mockingbird amongst their all time favourite reads, Go Set a Watchman will jump to the top of my TBR pile this summer. Go Set A Watchman Books: Beyond Grace’s Rainbow and The Life You Left (HarperCollinsUK) were bestsellers and her third novel, Every Time A Bell Rings, a Christmas novel inspired by her favourite movie It’s A Wonderful Life, will be published in October.

Carmel’s Blog:

Carmel on Twitter

Sophie Hedley (Book blogger: Reviewed the book)

The Island Escape by Kerry Fisher is my pick of 2015’s summer reads. A glorious setting, fascinating characters and an incredibly told, multi-layered story makes it a must-have beach read for me. Unputdownable. The Island Escape Sophie’s Blog:

Sophie on Twitter

Jade and Robyn (Book Bloggers: Reflections of A Book Geek)

Jade: Marry Me for Money by Mia Kayla

A light and heart warming read!

Marry Me For Money

Robyn: The Consequence of Loving Colton by Rachel Van Dyken

A great romantic read!

The consequence of loving colton

Jade and Robyn’s Blog

Jade and Robyn on Twitter

Jennifer Joyce (Author, Book Blogger)

My favourite read of the summer so far has been The Love Shack by Jane Costello because it’s absolutely jam-packed with humour and fantastic characters. The writing has a natural, witty flow to it, which makes it a perfect summer read for me. The love shack Books: A Beginner’s Guide To Salad and Everything Changes But You are out now. Jennifer’s blog

Jennifer on Twitter

Tric Kearney (Writer, Member of IWI, Blogger)

I love to read but am picky about what I like. My summer read this year was The Miniaturist. I’d been fascinated by its premise, a young bride receives a dolls house as a present from her aloof husband. It’s a perfect replica of their house but it seems to have a predictive power over what happens in the lives of those living in the real house, It surpassed all expectations. Despite it’s historical setting I could completely identify with the main characters. There was mystery and intrigue in every chapter yet the story remained one of love and loss. A real page turner which at times took my breath away. One of those books you count the pages you have left and wonder what you will do when you finish.

The Minaturist

Tric’s Blog

Tric on Twitter

Suzanne Lavender (Blogger: Suze Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams)

By My Side by Wendy Lou Jones: It’s such a beautiful and moving story. T

By My Side

The Rest of My Life by Sheryl Browne: I love the unusual story and Sheryl’s great energy. The Rest Of My Life Suzanne’s Blog

Suzanne on Twitter

Laura Lovelock (Writer, Member of IWI, Book blogger: Blabbering About Books)

My Top Summer Read for this year has to be The Piano Man Project by Kat French. The Piano Man Project is a saucy, funny, heart-warming, affecting read that follows the life of Honey who is a single charity shop manager. Her friends are intent on helping her find a man and so start the project to find a hunky pianist for their friend. Along the way there are laughs, moments that bring a tear to your eye, a whole lotta romance and a very hunky man! There are lots of chick-lit books I’ve loved so far this year but when looking back, this one stands out the most! The Piano Man Project Laura’s Blog

Laura on Twitter

Andrea Mara (Writer, Member of IWI, Blogger: Office Mum)

I’d recommend The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt as a summer read. Utterly absorbing, I was lost in the New York and Las Vegas worlds of Theo Decker – watching his mistakes with half-closed eyes, grimacing as each twist and turn led to bigger consequences. It’s a morality tale that stays with you all day until you can pick it up again – compulsive reading for the poolside, or sitting down at night with a glass of wine.

The Goldfinch

Andrea’s Blog

Andrea on Twitter

Jenny Marston (Blogger: Jenny In Neverland. Writer)

My favourite summer read has to be Game of Scones by Samantha Tonge. I read it earlier this year and I was completely captivated by it! The exotic location, the interesting locals, sexy Niko and of course, the scones. It’s the epitome of ‘beach read’ Game of Scones Jenny’s Blog

Jenny on Twitter

Holly Martin (Author, Blogger)

My favourite Summer story is the Catch Me If You Cannes series by Lisa Dickenson. It was an absolute delightful summery story with gorgeous summery scenery, beaches, glamorous yachts with a wonderfully sweet love story and laugh out loud humour too. Perfect. Catch Me If You Cannes series Books: Fairytale Beginnings, Tied Up With Love, The Guestbook, Beneath The Moon and The Stars, One Hundred Proposals, One Hundred Christmas Proposals, The Sentinel, The Prophecies.

Holly’s Blog

Holly on Twitter

Rebecca Minton (Blogger: Brunette Lifestyle)

My Top Book would be Not Quite Perfect by Annie Lyons, It’s the perfect summer read. It has everything! It’s a beautiful story and characters you’ll just fall in love with! Some unexpected twists and is a nice read. Gives you time to stop and think about what a Perfect Life really is. It’s my favourite book ever and recommend everyone reads it! Not Quite Perfect Rebecca’s Blog

Rebecca on Twitter

Grainne Plaxton (Romantic suspense writer in IWI)

Sunshine in Madrid by Krissy V was very easy to read. Perfect for a sun holiday. Sunshine in Madrid Grainne on Twitter

Rebecca Pugh (Author, Book blogger)

I’d have to say that my top summer recommendation is ‘Summer at Shell Cottage‘ by Lucy Diamond. If you’re a family girl, like myself, then this really is a top read, following the intricacies of modern family life in the ultimate seaside setting of Shell Cottage in Devon. Secrets, sea and sand make the perfect combination! Summer at Shell Cottage Books: Return to Bluebell Hill

Rebecca’s Blog

Rebecca on Twitter

Deirdre Reidy (Writer, Member of IWI, Blogger)

I’ll go with an alternative choice of Koethi Zan’s “The Never List“.  Holiday reading and I aren’t familiar friends these days; blockbusters and pre-schoolers at the pool don’t exactly mix! But I did manage to read one entire book on holiday last year and this was it.  It kept me gripped enough to not just give in and paddle in the pool instead.  It’s not my usual read; it’s dark and creepy.  I had it on my kindle for ages but didn’t feel comfortable enough to read it at home.  In bed.  With it dark outside.  So the sunny climes of the Algarve proved the antidote I needed to allow myself to delve into the world Zan describes.  It gave me chills even when I was applying sunscreen to an objecting child in the heat.  I’m a chicken and too nervous to read this genre anymore, I get nightmares.  So being able to put it down and find myself somewhere warm and carefree allowed me to enjoy it.  Not really a summer read for everyone but it’s my most memorable summer read recently.
The Never List

Lorna Sixsmith (Author, Blogger: Irish Farmerette)

Okay, I don’t tend to read too many women’s fiction (I’m afraid I do like dark historial fiction, thrillers and crime) but I did enjoy Evie Gaughan’s The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris, reminded me a little bit of Chocolat. Gorgeous French baking, a little mystery, unlikely friendships between the Irish Edith and her employers, cobbled streets and a little romance – it’s a really charming read with a feel-good atmosphere. I recommend indulging in some yummy pastries as you’re reading it. The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris Books: ‘Would You Marry A Farmer?,’ currently working on ‘How To Be A Perfect Farm Wife.’

Lorna’s Blog

Lorna on Twitter

Tara Sparling (Blogger)

My ultimate summer read is a Marian Keyes book. Any of them, really, because Marian’s books are just like the Irish summer – sunny and light-hearted on the surface, but with inevitable dark clouds lurking on the horizon you’re trying almost comically to ignore. My favourite from her back catalogue is This Charming Man. It knocked my socks off. It’s a very different book from her others, because it’s much darker, and uses four diverse narrators and styles: Lola’s diary/text-speak style; wry bluntness (Marian’s speciality) from Grace; alcoholic Marnie’s mesmerising, poetic prose and cleverly layered interjections from deluded, isolated Alicia. Meanwhile, Paddy de Courcy, the man they’re all so obsessed with, is the only one without a voice, as captivating a shadow in the background as Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. I still haven’t read The Woman Who Stole My Life, so that’s on my list for this summer. Because nobody can lull you into a false sense of comic familiarity, only to shatter cliché and genre stereotypes, and shock the bejeebus out of you in the process, like Marian. Once or twice I read a negative review of one of her books and thought ‘well, maybe I’ll give this one a miss’. And then I read them anyway, only to enjoy every single last sentence. What more could a girl want?” This Charming Man Tara’s Blog

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Sharon Thomson (Writer, Member of IWI, Blogger: Remember Victoria)
I would recommend Hazel Gaynor’s ‘A Memory of Violets‘ as a summer read. Historical fiction at its best, Hazel is an author that transports the reader to another era, and introduces them to wonderfully vivid characters. Perfect for a read looking out at the rain, or an engaging read by the pool.
A Memory Of Violets
Sharon’s Blog

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Sharon’s Facebook Page (Writing)

Montana Cherries by Kim Law

Montana Cherries

What they say:

After her mother’s tragic death, Dani Wilde had no choice but to abandon her dreams. She left Columbia University and returned to her family’s Montana cherry farm, intent on being a maternal figure to her brothers. Now the kids are grown, and it’s finally her time to fly. Her sights are on New York City, and nothing will stop her—not even an old flame with gorgeous green eyes.

Celebrity photographer Ben Denton hasn’t seen Montana in years—and hasn’t spoken to Dani since “that night” so long ago. When he discovers he’s a dad to a four-year-old—and the child’s mother refuses to care for her—Montana and the Wilde farm spring to mind. The orchard is the only place that’s ever felt like home, but will the warmth of the Wilde family be enough to help Ben figure out how to be a father?

As the Wilde family gathers for the yearly cherry harvest and Dani struggles to figure out what she really wants in life, she discovers the shocking truth about her own mother—and learns that following her heart may lead her to her dreams after all.

The Review:

First off thanks to Net Galley who provided me with a free copy of this book from Montlake Romance in return for an honest review. I received no compensation and was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own.

I’m very torn on this one. The book opened with us meeting the main character, Dani Wilde. Straight away, we are thrown into their family world, with Dani acting as mother for her family. The start of the book presented me with a bit of a problem. A lot of names are thrown about very quickly, and the result was, to be honest, quite disorientating. Conversely, the opening descriptions, of the house and surrounding land, are beautiful, and captivating.

The book is told from Dani’s viewpoint, and that of Ben, an old flame. I’m afraid this was also where the book fell for me. I could not warm to Dani. Everything was black and white. She had an opinion on everything, some of them coupled with an analysis that would be more suited to someone with a psychology award. I found her to be pushy, especially on issues of parenting, where she was always in the right. In fact, a lot of the book consisted of me waiting for Dani to have her moment of clarity and realise that she was being unfair.
The family issues that were brought to light further magnified this. I thought that Dani made everything about her while her brothers and father looked on and apologised for things they didn’t need to. This coincided with her love interest, Ben, constantly reiterating how hard everything was for Dani. Ben was my turning point. Their relationship was lovely, the connection there from the off and I really enjoyed it. There were some lovely romantic moments and his story was great. I also loved the two children and all the talk of romance, princes and fairytales.

Of course, the main pull was the family story. I loved hearing all of the brothers speaking. It was gripping and I really looked forward to hearing what had happened all those years ago. I was a little disappointed by the opinions of the family members on the mother’s story, again it was too black and white, compounded by Ben’s reaction when he found it out. I do not dispute any facts involved, I solely dispute that it is all that clear cut.

This led me into the role of women in this story. Dani (childless): martyr. On the other hand  ALL of the mothers were portrayed in the exact same light (no spoilers here so I’ll let oyu see for yourself!).

So this is why I’m torn. Amazing descriptions (I really was transported to their beautiful house and orchard), brilliant story-line, but then the bias outlined above.

Rating: Apologetically, a 3/5 and yet I have to label this a must read, I’d LOVE to hear what others think of it.

What do you listen to when writing?

music

A lot of people speak of how they need silence to write. Not me. I’ve many playlists/ cds that I use specifically for writing. Sometimes of course, pure silence is fully necessary, and any music would irreparably damage the balance of what I’m trying to do . On said occasions, music is OFF. Most nights though, there are songs that are NEEDED to write different scenes- (well the songs I need);)

In writing ‘It Started With A Snub’ some of the following songs were ‘used!’

Romance-Up (Olly Murs and Demi Lovato)- just has enough of a boppy beat to put a bit of an edge in there to give me the passion that might make two characters work whatever they need to out.

Drama- November Rain (Guns and Roses)- you don’t get more dramatic than the guitar part of this song, put this on and you can be sre that your characters will do … let me see, how do I put this … crazy s@*t.;)

Anything by Cher Llyod will make your character turn all kick ass.

A song where the lyrics gets you thinking from sections of your head that people shouldn’t really think from: Beatle Silver hammer / anything by Lady Gaga (more for the images she conjures up from videos than anything else)/ Sia Elastic Heart.

A song which gives you some form of a secretive espionage scene that may end in some form of a chase: Ellie Goulding Outside.

A dramatic scene which may involve inner turmoil/pacing/some form of tension coming to a head between one or two characters: Heaven by Emile Sande

Lily Allen-Somewhere only we know- perfect for christmassy writing/ scenes that are dreamy, far away, songs with regrets or hope, thinking of times past.

Theme songs to The Omen/ Halloween to write stuff to scare yourself silly. I no longer do this as I once wrote of a man wandering in people’s gardens, ready to take them at night. His gappy smile and sunken eyes made me check on the kids constantly that night, and look away every time I walked by the downstairs window as darkness fell for days!

These are just a smattering, there are many, many more and I’ll definitely share them with you. Feel free to listen to the above songs on you-tube and let me know if you agree (I had to listen to them myself again to see what they conjured up for me!), or if you have any yourself I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Would a review stop YOU from reading a book?

Yesterday I didn’t buy a book BECAUSE OF A REVIEW. Big news, eh? I bet some of you have even turned away by now, thinking ‘What type of news IS this?’ But, for me, it is truly a scary revelation. Let me explain. Obviously, in the last few months I have started to review books. I decided that where I had been actively asked to give a review on my site, I would. Where I wasn’t, and the book wasn’t quite up to the mark, I’d confine it to Goodreads and Amazon. That’s fair, I thought, because if I wasn’t actively asked to read the book, is it fair to shout about it? Which, let’s be honest about it, is what you’re doing when you blog. With my posts, I originally intended on informing people, letting them know whether their decision to buy a book would be justified. Would it deliver on excitement? Would it be romantic, tug at the heart strings, make them smile? My tag-line states that I was out to find as many 4 and 5 stars as possible to ‘add to the lighter side of a heavy tbr pile.’ The tbr pile is that mountain of books that needs to be dealt with, the ‘to be read’ pile. For many people, they adore books so much, and yet have so little time, that a bit of help is needed. Enter book reviewers. Now I’m not saying that MY blog is far reaching and amazing enough to inform ALL of these people, but I like to think it would help someone!
And so what of the other ratings? What of the two stars, the three stars, the (shudder) one stars? Well, I have to admit, I didn’t really think about them. ‘You idiot’ you say, shaking your head with a bored look on your face. ‘Didn’t think about the one or two stars? That’s positively idiotic!’ But I didn’t! Any reader that writes a review MUST in their head, commit to it being honest. It’s not fair otherwise. I’ll admit, when I read reviews, the one stars sometimes direct me ‘to’ the book as opposed to away from it. The things the reviewer state they hate in a book is sometimes what entices me in. Or sometimes I think the review is so unwarrented, that I just try to prove it wrong. But there’s times you can’t. Yesterday, a review said that the tension built up within a book led her to nothing. That the event it was to lead to didn’t really take place. This wasn’t a spoiler per se, as it didn’t state exactly what did or didn’t happen, but this event was built up so much in the blurb that I decided it probably was a non starter. This, paired with the fact that I’ve four kids and spend nights juggling reading, writing and my own personal studying of what I so technically term ‘the literary stuff;)’ ie articles on writing, publishing, marketing, promotion and grammar, means I don’t want to read average books. Harsh but true. There are published gems out there, and self published gems out there, and I want to find them.

Is this a fair way to be? Do you post book reviews? Do you stick to the (unsaid, unwritten) rule of being fully honest(without being mean, of course!)? Do you think I should blog ALL reviews, even if not asked? I’d love to hear your opinion, so let’s do this!!!

Game of Scones by Samantha Tonge

Game of Scones

A story of icing and flour…and how love doesn’t always go to plan!

Growing up, Pippa Pattinson’s summers were spent in the idyllic Greek island fishing village of Taxos. There she spent many long hazy days determinedly ignoring thoughts of the life her parents had mapped out for her (a dreary-but-secure accounting job and obligatory sensible husband!) Instead she daydreamed of running her own tea shop – serving the perfect scones – with mocha-eyed childhood friend Niklaus by her side…

Arriving back in Taxos for the first time in years, with suave boyfriend Henrik, Pippa barely recognises the tired little town – but is relieved to catch glimpses of the quaint, charming village she’s always loved. Together Niklaus and Pippa put together a proposal to save Taxos from tourist-tastic ruin, and at the heart of their plan is Pippa’s dream project: The Tastiest Little Tea Shop in Taxos. It’s time for Pippa to leave her London life behind and dust off her scone recipe that’s guaranteed to win over both locals and visitors. And amidst the rolling pins and raisins, it seems romance is blossoming where she’s least expecting it…

Don’t miss this sizzling new summer read from bestselling author of Doubting Abbey and Mistletoe Mansion, perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk’s Always the Bridesmaid and Lucy Diamond’s Summer at Shell Cottage

Obviously I have to start with the gorgeous cover- does anything scream ‘Summer’ like this? I enjoyed this book, was easygoing, light reading. I liked Pippa, who was, from the start, having a sort of crisis of identity, not quite sure that the way she had chosen to live her life was working any more. Returning to a village where her childhoods were spent, Pippa happened upon Nico, an old friend who as something close to a soul mate in another life.

The descriptions of Taxos were perfect, you could see the tiny little fishing village in front of you, exuding it’s simplicity and beauty. The cooking and food aspect was also beyond tantilizing.The thing that didn’t work for me was her relationship with the two male characters- Henrik and Nico. From the ‘look inside’ option on Amazon, you will see that Pippa was trying to figure out whether she should be with her long term boyfriend, Henrik. It seemed from page one, that there wasn’t any reason for her to be with him and I didn’t really warm to him at all. The big problem with this though, was that I didn’t warm to Nico either! To be honest, it didn’t hugely matter as the big story, keeping Taxos ‘afloat’ was enjoyable, as was the odd curve ball thrown in to make you wonder who wanted to sabotage Taxos. All in all, great as an easygoing Summer read, beautifully written. Plenty of ups, downs and all in between, possibly a tad cliched in bits, and if this annoys you in fiction, I’d possibly find another book. As for me, I’d definitely look up another book from this author.

By the way, as an aside, go to google images and google ‘Game of Scones’ and you will get a few of the most perfect little gems of quotes from the book, that show the author’s beautiful writing. Absolutely gorgeous!

Rating: 4.5/5

One and Done by Lisa Bevilacqua

OneandDone

The Blurb: The year is 2009. I’m a very young 37 years old, and I live in the trendy Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park. I am, what most people would call, a “Trixie”, due, in part, to my pedigree, as well as the geographic area in which I reside. I am an attorney, but I’ve paid my dues, no longer having to work those ridiculous young-associate hours.

I have officially been “on the market” now for about 3 years since the demise of my marriage. Given that my traditional dating routine was clearly being met with utter disappointment, hurt feelings, and out-and-out failure, I decided that a pre-emptive strike was in order.

This is the story of One and Done. It unfurls the master plan I hatched in order to start dating smarter and more efficiently. Well, truth be told, I just wanted to stop meeting douche bags who were not right for me from the very beginning, yet for whatever reason, I proceeded to date them regardless! Hence, the need for a tactical strategy arose….

My plan entailed drastically cutting down the amount of dates I would go on with each guy. Down to just one. Yes, that’s it. One date per guy only. Ever. And my plan was to have as many first dates with as many men as possible, for a maximum of one full year.

So, before I met him, before he uttered his first words to me, before he even asked me out, I met my date with the stagnant, preconceived notion that I’d never see him again after our one and only encounter. A true reversal of the legal theory of innocent until proven guilty. My date was culpable by default, until and unless he could establish he was not the jerk I presumed him to be.

Armed with this plan, I went on a total of 43 dates in four months. All of them One and Done. Lucky number 43 changed the course of my plan — and my life — forever!

“One and Done” recounts some of the most memorable dates leading up to, and including, my final One and Done, and they are nothing short of entertaining. Through flashbacks, there is insight into my past, and the many reasons (i.e., men) which led me to the decision to begin to date this way. “One and Done” is peppered with tangential tales involving my female comrades, as they see me through this admittedly off the wall approach to dating!

The Review:

Thanks so much to the author Lisa Bevilacqua for the review copy of this, I was so honoured to receive it! And a big hello too, because Lisa is so lovely!

Anyhoo, down to business. This book was very different to anything I’d ever read. It was basically, in my mind anyway, an autobiography, but written in the manner of a fiction story (which makes it quite difficult to review, when you think of it, because you’re talking about situations that actually happened and people who really exist!). This, along with the fact that it had an American voice (there was a Carrie Bradshaw type commentary – Sex and The City is in fact mentioned in the book so this comparison is, in my eyes, acceptable) as opposed to Irish or British, which would be my usual choices, made it all new, and took a little bit of getting used to, though the descriptions were quite good, especially since I wouldn’t know the setting.

It opens with Lisa, an attorney that lives in Chicago, newly single, post-divorce, at 37 years old. And so begins the age-old journey of the singleton, back with single friends, not quite as close to the couples her and her ex-husband used to socialise with, when they all partied together in pairs.

The theory behind One and Done (as I understand it) is that men have notions about a woman before they’ve even spent a few minutes with her. They know where it’s going to go, and how long it will last, and so One and Done was going to flip that on its head, with Lisa already having decided that one date would be all that was allowed.

The dates, to be honest, might have showed up the gaps between what different peoples’ expectations of men are, because, where Lisa was saying that a date had gone terribly, or that a guy was acting like an idiot, I have to be honest, I didn’t think that it was a big deal. This could be just me, or it could be an Irish thing – I’m not sure. As a result of this, and also as a result of being led a little, ie being told how bad or brilliant something would be before it happened, I found it a bit more difficult to empathise, but still found it enjoyable. The only other thing I would say would be that a tighter edit might be needed, there were a few little issues that cropped up along the way.

Pacing was good, when your attention started to drift a gem of a sentence or phrase would jump in there that would pull you back and make you chuckle.

All in all, not what I’m used to, but great for people who like their ‘Sex in the City,’ ‘The City’ or ‘Taking New York.’

Rating 3.5/5

About Lisa (In her own words!)

In terms of bio, since the book is about me, you can get a lot of that when you read it!!!

LisaBevilacqua

To learn more about Lisa:

Blog: https://oneanddonelisabevilacqua.wordpress.com/

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lisa-Bevilacqua/e/B00ZBLMA2E

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25729657-one-and-done?from_search=true&search_version=service_impr

Barns and Noble link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/one-and-done-lisa-bevilacqua/1122141429?ean=2940151278089&isbn=2940151278089

Blogger Q&A: Holly from Bookaholic Confessions:)

HollyKilminster

Holly from Bookaholic Confessions!

About Holly (in her own words!)

I am 25 years old and a UK book blogger/reviewer, Library Assistant, shoe hoarder and professional shopper … Ok, I made that last one up.
I live in the Midlands with my three Miniature Dachshunds and a LOT of books. I have been blogging for a year now and I love it (easily as much as chocolate).
Chick-lit is my favourite genre but I will happily read anything, as long as it has words I’m happy…

Firstly a big welcome to Holly from Bookaholic Confessions, who I feel so privileged to have here today! Holly, can I just say I adore both your site and your range, I read most of my blog posts through Twitter, and your blog is one of the ones that stands out and keeps me coming back, so thanks for many hours of entertainment! (https://bookaholicconfessions.wordpress.com)

Thanks for having me on your fabulous blog Bernadette! I love it here!

So, for anyone who doesn’t know you can you tell us a little bit about how you started blogging?

I have worked as a Library Assistant for nearly seven years and I have been a complete book worm my whole life. I was an avid reader of other book blogs for years before I started my own. I did some guest reviews for other blogs and the book blogging community seemed to be growing and growing. I had wanted to start my own blog for a while but I was scared (I know, what a wimp, right!?) However when I mentioned on Twitter that I was thinking of starting a blog the encouragement and support I received from other bloggers was overwhelming and really helped me along the way.

What’s the best thing about blogging?

EVERYTHING! I love it so much. Getting to know other book lovers has been one of my favourite parts of blogging. I’ve made some wonderful friends who I hope I will get to meet one day. I also love the interaction with authors. It’s amazing when an author reads your review and comments on it. Being able to tell an author that you’ve loved their book is such a fantastic feeling.
Then there’s all of the brilliant authors I have discovered through blogging. I’m certain I wouldn’t have come across some of these authors otherwise and any avenue that helps you to discover new authors is a winner for me.
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t love receiving review copies, although I know that this is most certainly not the be all and end all of blogging. As far as I see it it’s just one of the (many) perks. The resources available to reviewers such as NetGalley and BookBridgr are amazing and something I’ll never take for granted.

Have you ever had any sticky moments- a book you didn’t like that you were under pressure to review or a book where you knew the author and didn’t like the book (Don’t worry, no names required!)

There have been times when I’ve been involved with blog tours and had to have books reviewed by certain dates and there’s always that worry that life will get in the way and you won’t have it reviewed in time. I try not to think about my ‘To-Be-Read’ pile, otherwise I may start panicking. Not that you can ever have too many books to read…
I’ve only been blogging a year so I haven’t really experienced the situation of worrying about not liking a book and knowing the author. It’s tricky but I guess you’d just have to be honest (but honest in a nice way, of course!) I would always try and look for some positives in a book, even if I hadn’t enjoyed it. I guess you just have to get into the mind-set that everyone’s different and just because you didn’t like the book it doesn’t mean that other people won’t love it.

I know from your blog that you have a wide range of bookish interests, but, is it true to say that chick lit is your first love??
COMPLETELY! Since working in a library and blogging the range of genres that I read has grown dramatically (I used to be strictly chick lit only, which I can’t believe! There are so many wonderful books out there, I have no idea why I limited myself like that…) But yes, chick lit will always be my first love and ultimately my favourite. I can’t see that ever changing…

Now, say I properly put you under pressure and without thinking, you have the answer the following questions: Ok *gulp*

E-book or paperback?Paperback

Summer read or Christmas book? Christmas

Favourite character of any book of all time? Becky Bloomwood from the Shopaholic books.

Favourite book as a child? Charlotte’s Webb by E.B White

If you didn’t like a book would you cut it short or soldier on? Soldier on. I hate not finishing books, even if I’m not really enjoying them. I’m weird like that …

Finally have you any tips for aspiring bloggers or newbies or any things you’ve seen that you wouldn’t recommend doing?
Hmm. I’m no expert but the one thing I would say is to keep going. There will be times when you feel like giving up, maybe you’re not getting the stats you want or you feel disillusioned, but don’t give up! Stats aren’t everything and everyone goes through slumps – as long as you’re writing about what you want to write about and sharing your love of books (or fashion, food, lifestyle etc – whatever the content of your blog) then that’s all that’s important. Blog for yourself and share the kinds of posts that you would want to read.

Well, Holly, thanks again for agreeing to talk to me today, it’s been beyond an honour x

Thanks for having me Bernadette, I’ve had great fun answering these questions!