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Book Review: Della Says: OMG! by Keris Stainton

When Della finally catches the eye of her forever crush, Dan Bailey, at her sisters going away party, she can’t quite believe it’s true.

But her joy is short lived as she realises someone has took her diary and pages are being scanned onto Facebook or left for friends and family to find.

Della is left wondering if her newfound romance is nothing but a joke, or does someone really have it in for her? Dan seems genuine enough, but how can she keep his interest when her deepest and darkest secrets are being revealed to the world? And why would anyone want to hurt Della like this?

What I really loved about this book is that Keris Stainton completely captures the essence of being a teenage girl. It’s written in the first person from Della’s viewpoint, and this really gives the reader an opportunity to get inside her head. Della is the most believable character who everyone will be able to relate to, whether they are a teen themselves or once were. For me, reading Della’s thoughts and feelings was like being transported back in time and when I’d finished I had to remind myself that I was now an adult mother and not a seventeen year old girl about to head of on a nerve wracking date, full of anxiety and self doubt yet fizzling with excitement.

The blossoming relationship with Dan is sweet, painful and so very realistic. I can vividly remember my ‘major’ crush paying me attention and convincing myself that it was all one big joke and everyone was in on it. I loved how things developed between the two, starting out clumsy and awkward and building into a beautiful and tender romance. The book is filled with subtle little observations, which had me nodding ‘yes, I remember that feeling!’ and really bring the characters to life. Stainton also uses language that is believable, meaning it’s brutally honest and at times a little cringe worthy, but this just adds to the authenticity of the book. She doesn’t sugar coat anything and refuses to patronise her readers; its so refreshing and I loved this. But the book is also a lot of fun, filled with witty one-liners that had me giggling to myself. Della’s friend Maddy is a feisty character while her parents, particularly her Dad, provide comedy with their toe curlingly embarrassing antics

The mystery of who had taken Della’s diary and why, added some mystery and intrigue and kept me turning page after page. Again the emotions and sense of dread Della experienced as she realises someone is using it against her are so realistic, that I myself felt my heart sinking to the pit of my stomach. Della’s vulnerability at having her privacy so cruelly violated makes her easy to sympathise with, and really get on her side. I thought I had guessed who was responsible, but I was wrong and it was quite clever how suspicion was directed away from the culprit. If I had one teeny complaint, it would be that once revealed the book ended quite quickly and I might of liked a little more regarding the fall out. This really is the only slight niggle I had though, and overall this is a fantastic debut novel. It’s down to earth, sincere, sweet and fun. Keris clearly understands teen culture and as a result has written a book that will without doubt appeal to and be adored by it’s target audience (and those out of it....like me!). I read Della Says: OMG! in almost one sitting and couldn’t put it down. Keris Stainton is one to watch out for in the future, and I look forward eagerly for more!

Thank you to the publishers for sending me this book for review.







Waiting On Wednesday


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine which allows us to highlight up coming releases we are eagerly awaiting.

So, a couple of weeks ago I was all excited. I'd been waiting for this cover to be released so I could make it my WoW since I began participating, as its by FAR my most anticipated book of 2010. But just a couple of days after the cover appeared on amazon, it disappeared again. Being a cautious little soul I thought I'd better wait and see if there was a reason why. But the UK, New Zealand and Australia cover has now been revealed on Sophie Kinsella's very own website, and so here it is!

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) thought motherhood would be a breeze – but it’s trickier than she thought. Two-year-old Minnie is a little tearaway who has created havoc everywhere from Harrods to Harvey Nicks to her own christening. She hires taxis at random, her favourite word is ‘Mine’, and she already has a penchant for Balenciaga bags. Becky is at her wits’ end.

On top of this, she and Luke are still living with her Mum and Dad, there’s a big financial crisis so everyone’s having to Cut Back – including all her personal shopping clients – and her husband Luke is feeling low after the death of his beloved stepmother. To cheer Luke up, Becky decides to throw him a surprise birthday party – on a budget – and that’s when things become really complicated. As Becky tries to keep the arrangements secret, misunderstandings and excuses sprout everywhere, and soon she’s told so many fibs she can’t keep track of them. Will Becky pull off the surprise? Will Minnie give everything away? Will Minnie’s godparents ever stop arguing? Who will end up on the naughty step and who will get a gold star? And what will happen when Becky discovers Luke is keeping a big secret too? (taken from Chick Lit Reviews)

Released 2nd September 2010

So who isn't excited about this? I Can. Not. Wait! I love love love Becky Bloomwood and can't wait to meet her mini shopaholic! There's been much debate about the cover, which a lot of people aren't keen on, especially as it doesn't really match the rest in the series. Personally I kind of like it, it's cute! The only thing I'm not so keen on is the colour and style of the font. At the end of the day though, this is one cover where I couldn't care less what it's like as I'll be buying the book as soon as humanly possible anyway.

The US cover is yet to be revealed but I'll update you all as soon as it is!



Book Review: Lex Trent Versus The Gods by Alex Bell

Law student Lex Trent’s world is inhabited by fearsome magicians, ageing crones and a menagerie of Gods and Goddesses. And while Lex is seemingly dedicated to his legal studies he’s always enjoyed a challenge – which is why he leads a double life as the notorious cat burglar ‘The Shadowman’ who has been (luckily) evading capture for years.

But Lex’s luck is about to run out because the Goddess of Fortune has selected him to be her player in the highly dangerous Games. Losing is not an option for Lex (particularly as it so often involves dying) but can he really win each of the perilous rounds? Given that the reward for doing so is money, fame and glory – all things that Lex is quite keen on – he’s going to do whatever it takes to make sure he will... and he’s certainly got good experience of cheating. (From Amazon.co.uk)

When I was sent this book for review I wasn’t at all sure it would be my kind of thing. It’s literally a world away from my usual girly tastes and fantasy like this isn’t something I’ve ever really read before. I wasn’t expecting to like it all that much, and admit to putting it off for a while. However I was pleasantly surprised by how readable and enjoyable I did find it.

Lex lives on an earth split into two by the gods, who inhabit the lower section, while humans and magical and mythical creatures inhabit the top section. I found it easy to get to grips with this and fascinated by this new world Alex Bell presented. She manages to give enough description so that I found it easy to imagine and believe in, without going into over detail that I might have found boring or confusing.

Seventeen-year-old Lex Trent was also very different to the characters I usually read about. He’s a cheat, a thief and completely selfish seeming to only care about himself and his quest for notoriety. I tend to enjoy characters I can relate to in some ways, and while there is nothing about Lex that I could, I still found him an intriguing and compelling character. I also felt that despite his bravado, there was something rather vulnerable about him. He constantly claims to be lucky, but to me he really wasn’t. Lex is the type of character that the phrase ‘if something can go wrong, it will’ was made for. I’m fairly certain that the author intended some irony in that he felt himself lucky by cheating his way out of scrapes, when the truth is, luck (or good sense?) would have been avoiding them altogether.

I also really liked reading the games, in which The Gods use people as players. They were filled with adventure and danger and were quite exciting. Rather than struggle through the book, I found I was really keen to find out what was going to happen and would read large chunks without even realising. I did struggle with some elements of the book, although I think that may have been down to my lack of experience in this kind of writing. I wasn’t sure if this ‘fantasy world’ was set in the future or the past as at times it could have been both, and that left me a little disconcerted (of course it could be neither and just something I didn’t get). I also thought that even though it was fantasy, some elements were less believable than others. The binding bracelet concept sounded a good one to begin with, but then often seemed to be brought up only when the author remembered, and brushed off at others.

I think Lex Trent Versus The Gods is a fast and action packed adventure, and while I can’t compare it to other novels of this genre, I quite enjoyed reading. Unlike most of the books I read, this would also really appeal to teenage boys who enjoy this type of fantasy. Personally, I’m not ready to ditch my chick lit and romance, and probably won’t rush out to buy similar books, however I wouldn’t be so hesitant in future to give them a go. Stepping out of my comfort zone was a fairly enjoyable adventure after all.

Thanks to the publishers (Headline) for sending me this copy for review.

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine to highlight upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating



The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

When journalist Ellie looks through her newspaper's archives for a story, she doesn't think she'll find anything of interest. Instead she discovers a letter from 1960, written by a man asking his lover to leave her husband -- and Ellie is caught up in the intrigue of a past love affair. Despite, or perhaps because of her own romantic entanglements with a married man. In 1960, Jennifer wakes up in hospital after a car accident. She can't remember anything -- her husband, her friends, who she used to be. And then, when she returns home, she uncovers a hidden letter, and begins to remember the lover she was willing to risk everything for. Ellie and Jennifer's stories of passion, adultery and loss are wound together in this richly emotive novel -- interspersed with real 'last letters'. Published 8th July 2010

Is that not just the most gorgeous cover ever! Just looking at it makes me want to own the book. The synopsis sounds amazing too and I'm really looking forward to this one!


A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler

Mom looked down at me, her eyes not just glittering but snapping with fire, like two Fourth of July sparklers. We're just alike, me and Aura. And, you know, back then, the idea of that didn't scare the absolute hell out of me. Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, Grace, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura's dad left them. Convinced that creative equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked - and together offer an escape from her fears. Published 1st June 2010

This one caught my eye and the synopsis intrigued me. Mental Illness is such a difficult subject, and schizophrenia so very misunderstood. I'm really interested to see how it is tackled in this Young Adult book.

Book Review: After The Party by Lisa Jewell

It’s been 11 years since Ralph and Jem first got together. Thought to be the perfect couple and now with a three-year-old daughter, Scarlett and new baby, Blake, life should be filled with domestic bliss.

Only it isn’t. Full time Mum, Jem is frustrated at the lack of support from Ralph and when he announces he needs a break and wants to go to California to ‘find his mojo’ she is furious. But surprisingly, she finds the week without Ralph a revelation and with new friend, single dad Joel becoming an ever present figure in her life, she wonders if she does actually need Ralph after all.

Meanwhile, Ralph finds more than his mojo in California. He finds his spirituality. With his new found sense of peace and purpose he is keen to get home and be the supportive, loving partner Jem needs and deserves. And for a while it seems everything is fixed. But then something happens that will rock their relationship to the very core and force them to realise they have not only grown apart, they no longer know the person they thought they would spend their lives with. Can Jem and Ralph ever recover and get their relationship back on track? Is either of them willing to accept the other as they are now instead of wishing for the people they were all those years ago? Or is it time to face the fact that the destiny they believed in is no longer theirs and it’s time to move on?

I am a huge fan of Lisa Jewell’s books and have been excited about this one for quite a while. After The Party is a sequel to Lisa’s debut novel, Ralph’s Party, published in 1999, and I was certain I had read it. However, I had it muddled with ‘Thirty Nothing’ for some reason, and as it happens Ralph’s Party turns out to be the only book by Lisa Jewell that I haven’t read! Even worse, I ordered Ralph’s Party at the same time as ordering this new book, but something went wrong with the order and it never appeared! Happily, this makes not a jot of difference whatsoever, and I was still able to enjoy After The Party immensely.

The book begins with Jem and Ralph separated, and Ralph due to collect the children for his time with them. Only he doesn’t show up and it’s clear something is very wrong. Rather than being annoyed, Jem is concerned and its here the book goes back twelve months to chart the breakdown of their marriage. Jewell describes the resentment and complexities within the relationship with such realism it’s scary.

I have to say I connected with Jem immediately. At times I felt I was reading about myself, and how my marriage was affected after the birth of my daughter. Every thought and feeling Jem expressed was one I had felt too, in particular her feelings when Ralph leaves to go to California and finding it easier being alone than with someone you resent for not helping. This was something I very much related too, and felt slightly amazed that someone had captured those feelings exactly, its not something I ever really talked about yet obviously something felt by many.

But as much as I related to Jem, I was glad that Jewell didn’t choose to just make this book about her. In alternating chapters we hear from both sides, and I was also able to feel sympathy for Ralph. I guess as a woman who really understood what Jem was going through, it would be easy to dislike him, but I couldn’t. As Jewell presents his thoughts and feelings, it’s clear that both have issues and rather than talking to each other, they bury them and allow them to grow into deep resentment. There is fault at both sides, and the journey to realise that is simple, but deeply emotional.

There are few other minor characters within the book, but even these are both vivid and believable. I loved LuLu, Jem’s sister. Actually, I want a sister like her; she’s full of love and reason and her interactions with Jem were lovely, as well as providing some lighter moments. Joel, the single dad who Jem befriends is an interesting one. He provides an air of mystery and is slightly sinister, as I felt straight away something wasn’t right with him.

Lisa Jewell clearly has a great understanding of relationships, and this is what makes the book so compelling and engrossing. I doubt anyone could fail to see a little of themselves in Ralph or Jem. Because they are written with such honesty and sincerity, I began to care for them both very much, and really wanted to just scream at the pair of them ‘what are you doing to each other?’, all the while rallying for them both. There are things that both characters do that are unlikeable, but at the same time completely understandable and so absolutely human.

After The Party is a strong emotional read, which made me sad and angry at times, but also has a lot of heart-warming and hopeful moments too. Lisa Jewell’s writing flows so beautifully it’s easy to get swept up in and I had my nose glued to After The Party for the best part of two days. I’d highly recommend this book, even if you’ve never read Ralph’s Party as I haven’t and I still absolutely adored it. Five stars easily given and Lisa Jewell remains my favourite author in this genre.

Book Review: No And Me by Delphine De Vigan

Lou Bertignac has an IQ of 160 and a good friend in class rebel Lucas. At home her father puts a brave face on things but cries in secret in the bathroom, while her mother rarely speaks and hardly ever leaves the house. To escape this desolate world, Lou goes often to Gare d'Austerlitz to see the big emotions in the smiles and tears of arrival and departure. But there she also sees the homeless, meets a girl called No, only a few years older than herself, and decides to make homelessness the topic of her class presentation. Bit by bit, Lou and No become friends until, the project over, No disappears. Heartbroken, Lou asks her parents the unaskable question and her parents say: Yes, No can come to live with them. So Lou goes down into the underworld of Paris's street people to bring her friend up to the light of a home and family life, she thinks. (from Amazon.co.uk)

I loved the sound of this book the minute I heard about it and was really keen to read it. I knew the basic premise and I knew it was set in Paris and had been translated from French, but other than that I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Lou is a strange character, incredibly intelligent but painfully shy, lonely and unsure of herself. Placed two years above her age group at school she has no real friends, being alienated from both girls of a similar age and the older ones in her class. Since the death of her baby sister her mother has been severely depressed and home life has been devoid of any emotion. My heart immediately went out to this lonely little girl, who despite her amazing intelligence is extremely vulnerable and immature. Her visits to the train station to witness ‘emotion’ were so touching it made my heart ache.

No also hooked me straight away. Tough, feisty but with a real vulnerability, she is tragic in her absolute realness. There are No’s the world over who have been handed a rough card and seem to walk from crisis to crisis. Most of the time it’s easy to think it’s their own fault, they could change if they wanted, or to just not think about them at all. No reminded me though just how lucky I am, and that if circumstances had been different, I could easily have been a No. At first it appears No is using Lou, and I was worried about this, but as the story unfolds and their friendship grows it becomes clear that there is a mutual need for each other between Lou and No.

There is very little dialogue in the book. It’s told from Lou’s viewpoint and is simple but brutally honest. Delphine De Vigan paints a vividly real picture of what it is to be homeless. The waiting, queuing, aimlessness and boredom and above all, the invisibility and separation from society are powerfully described. It also isn’t a clichéd fairytale, where the homeless person is rescued and everyone lives happily ever after. In fact, it’s when took in by Lou’s family that many of No’s problems begin and again I got a real sense of what it would be like to be No and how difficult things were for her. Lou does a lot of philosophising and these passages really are thought provoking and touching. Despite being translated, I also felt that the book retained it’s French essence and the streets of Paris where very much brought to life. Mostly the translation is impeccable with none of the emotion lost at all. There was an odd sentence here and there that came across a little odd, but this really was only once or twice within the book and for the main it flowed beautifully.

One tiny thing I found a little odd was that I didn’t really understand the relationship between Lou and Lucas. Lucas is 17, and in contrast to Lou has been dropped two years at school. I could understand her infatuation with him, but found his situation a little unbelievable. While I felt sorry for him, I’m not sure a boy in his position would even be attending school let alone befriending 13 year olds like Lou. I wouldn’t go as far to say this affected my enjoyment of the book at all, just contrasted with the stark reality of the rest of the story. Maybe I’m just a little too cynical though.

No and Me is one of those books that just creep right under your skin and really make you think. It’s full of complex characters and situations, yet is simple and clear in both the writing and the message. It’s touching, heartbreaking, hopeful and bittersweet; it’s one that will stay with me for a long time. I was glued to this book and didn’t want to put it down as I became attached to both Lou and No and wanted to know how things worked out for them. I’d happily recommend this book.

Thanks to the publishers for sending me this book for review.

Competition Winners

Congratulations to Anne and Angie who were chosen at random to win a signed copy of Heaven Can Wait by Cally Taylor. Both have responded by email and addresses passed on.

Thanks to everyone who entered and those who left comments, some great answers and I had fun reading them!

Waiting On Wednesday


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine to highlight upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating

I absolutely knew which book was going to be my WoW this week. I've been waiting for the cover to be revealed for weeks, so I could post it! And this week, there it was...excited? Yes!

And then last night I find out Amazon have now removed the cover aaarrggghhh! I have no idea why, but it means I'm not going to post it just in case...well just in case.

But never mind, because here I found two other fabulous sounding books! Both sound great and right up my street. I'm an 80's child and Looove those Hugh Grant films!

Things I'd Wish I'd Known by Linda Green

Remember when life revolved around what top to wear? Let Linda Green take you on a hilarious, romantic and touching journey back to your teenage years...When Claire Cooper was 15 she'd swear on her Wham! album that: Big hair and rah-rah skirts were here to stay; Spandau Ballet would never split up; She would marry her idol, heart-throb footballer Andy Pailes. Fast forward 20 years and things haven't gone quite to plan. And when Claire discovers the 'dream list' she wrote as a teenager, she realises how far removed her life is from the one she'd imagined. Divorced, stuck in a dead-end job and dating an ambulance-chasing personal injury lawyer, she decides it's time to put her life back on track. But what really happened between Claire and her teen idol all those years ago? And is meeting him again the way to make her dreams come true? Or a huge mistake?

Released 13/05/10



From Notting Hill With Love...Actually by Ali McNamara

Scarlett O'Brien is in love ...with the movies. Utterly hooked on Hugh Grant, crazy about Richard Curtis, dying with lust for Johnny Depp, Scarlett spends her days with her head in the clouds and her nights with her hand in a huge tub of popcorn. Which is not exactly what her sensible, DIY-obsessed fiance David has in mind for their future. So when Scarlett has the chance to house-sit an impossibly grand mansion in Notting Hill ? the setting of one of her all-time favourite movies ? she jumps at the chance to live out her film fantasies one last time. It's just a shame that her new neighbour Sean is so irritating ? and so irritatingly handsome, too. As a chaotic comedy of her very own erupts around Scarlett, she begins to realise there's more to life than seating plans and putting up shelves. What sort of happy ending does she really want? Will it be a case of Runaway Bride or Happily Ever After? The big white wedding looms, and Scarlett is running out of time to decide ...

Released 25/11/2010


Book Review: Chocolate Wishes by Trisha Ashley

Chloe Lyon’s chocolate business is really taking off. People can’t get enough of her Chocolate wishes; the hollow hearts with a paper wish inside being everyone’s favourite after dinner sweet. And its about time, for Chloe’s had a rough ride since love of her life, rock star Raffy, walked out on her eighteen years ago. Around the same time her useless mother disappeared too leaving a young Chloe to bring up her younger brother. But things are about to turn upside down when the new vicar arrives in the village…

There are two reasons why Trisha Ashley’s Chocolate Wishes appealed to me. First off was the chocolate! A story based around the gorgeous stuff really got me interested. Secondly, after reading another review and discovering that there’s quite a bit of a focus on paganism and the occult, I really was interested. Being fascinated by such things, this struck me as a pretty intriguing and different premise.

And on both of these counts I wasn’t disappointed. I’m guessing that with the care each were written, these are two subjects close to Ashley’s heart. Chloe has largely been brought up by her Grandfather, a practising witch and coven leader, and as a result she also has a more spiritual take on life. Rather than the tarot cards her aunt Zilloh reads however, it’s angels that influence her. I really enjoyed this element of the book, it’s not something I’ve come across in this genre and it was done with great sincerity and respect. I know a little about such things and so easily understood the references, however I do wonder if anyone who has never had any experience of paganism might find it a little confusing. The detail of Chloe’s chocolate making was also fascinating and with rich descriptions, I was almost licking my lips at times just at the thought of such scrumptiousness.

However, I also felt disappointed with this book. There is a mystery surrounding Chloe’s mother, which doesn’t really seem to be taken seriously. And when Chloe discovers a secret that puts everything she thought she knew about her mother and herself into question, again it’s brushed over in a really blasé way. This is a huge thing, and I find it difficult to believe that someone would react so little to something of this magnitude. While the story about the chocolate and the village was charming and entertaining, it seemed odd to make such a serious issue nothing more than a sub plot. I struggled to really connect with Chloe because of this. Despite being written in the first person, I felt I barely really knew her or what she was thinking. Apart from the fact that she is a bit of a doormat and likes angels, I still feel like I know nothing about this character.

There are a number of other characters in the book. Chloe’s Grandfather, Gregory Warlock is larger than life and made quite an impact. He was easy to imagine as the serious intellectual, passionate about his subject. While I found his clipped tones slightly irritating, he was believable in this role. I also liked Chloe’s friends, Poppy and Felix, and really warmed to their story. Some of the other minor characters also brought to life the Lancashire village they inhabit and I had a lot of smiling moments at some charming and humorous exchanges between them. I knew exactly where things were going to go in the romance stakes for Chloe from very early on. This didn’t spoil the book in any way, as that’s not unusual for this genre, and the journey there was mostly pleasant with an intriguing twist.

This is the first book I’ve read by Trisha Ashley, and I mostly enjoyed reading it. There is no doubt that she writes very well and with a gentle charm, that at times makes you feel as gooey and sweet as Chloe’s chocolate. I adored the spiritual side of this book, and really felt that this was done with great passion. I’m not sure if this is a theme Ashley uses often in her books and I would be interested to find out. I did find Chloe difficult to really connect with, and her reactions to her mother’s behaviour unrealistic. For me introducing a thread like this means it should have been given the seriousness and attention it deserves, and perhaps the book would have been better had it been completely omitted. If you like a light, charming romance set in a quintessential English village, then I think you would enjoy this book. Just don’t go in expecting anything more.



In My Mailbox (10)

In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren which allows us to show off the books we've acquired this week.
For Review:

Wasted by Nicola Morgan (from Walker, Nicola Morgan will be dropping by here in May as part of a blog tour!)

Jack worships luck and decides his actions by the flip of a coin. No risk is too great if the coin demands it. Luck brings him Jess, a beautiful singer who will change his life. But Jack’s luck is running out, and soon the stakes are high. As chance and choice unravel, the risks of Jack’s game become terrifyingly clear. An evening of heady recklessness, and suddenly a life hangs in the balance, decided by the toss of a coin. In the end, it is the reader who must choose whether to spin that coin and determine: life or death.

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams (Simon & Schuster, passed on to me by Book Chick City)

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters. That is, without questioning them much - if you don't count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle - who already has six wives - Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

Temptation Street by Shari Low (Piatkus, passed on to me by Book Chick City)

Have you ever taken a wrong turn into Temptation Street...? Suze has a niggling feeling that her husband Karl's marital sat-nav has taken a wrong turn and led him down the road to temptation. What's a suspicious wife to do? Mel knows that her sweet, docile husband Joe would never, ever cheat. But when Suze, her sister-in-law, hires a honeytrap to test Karl, the results blow Mel's world apart. Mel, Joe, Suze, Karl. They're family. They're friends. And they're about to discover whether or not they can navigate those other f-words ? fidelity and forgiveness. Or is relationship misbehaviour much more fun when it's a two-way street?

Bought:

After The Party by Lisa Jewell

It's eleven years since Jem Catterick and Ralph McLeary first got together. They thought it would be for ever, that they'd found their happy ending. As everyone agreed, they were the perfect couple. Then two became four, a flat became a house. Romantic nights out became sleepless nights in. And they soon found that life wasn't quite so simple any more. But through it all Jem and Ralph still loved each other, of course they did. Now the unimaginable has happened. Two people who were so right together are starting to drift apart. And in the chaos of family life, Ralph feels more and more as if he's standing on the sidelines, and Jem that she's losing herself. Something has to change. As they try to find a way back to each other, back to what they once had, they both become momentarily distracted - but maybe it's not too late to recapture happily ever after ...A warm and involving novel that will restore your faith in life, love and the power of starting over, "After the Party" is Lisa Jewell at her unforgettable best.

Author Interview: Cally Taylor + Win a signed copy of Heaven Can Wait!


I recently read and reviewed Heaven can Wait (read my review here) by Cally Taylor and absolutely loved it! If you haven't already read it, then I really recommend you do! Today I'm pleased to welcome Cally, who has been kind enough to give some brilliant answers to my questions!


Hi Cally, and thanks so much for dropping by! Firstly could you introduce yourself?

Hello! I'm Cally, I'm thirty-six and I live in Brighton. I wanted to be an author from the age of eight but it wasn't until 2007 that I finally started, and finished, writing a novel. That novel was 'Heaven Can Wait' and it was published by Orion in October 2009.


Your first book Heaven Can Wait is certainly unique! Where did you get the inspiration from to write it?


A couple of things inspired me to write 'Heaven Can Wait' - the sudden death of a friend in 2006 and a comment from my then boyfriend about how long I'd wait before I moved on if he died (he was a chirpy kind of guy!). An image of a woman, madly in love and about to be married, popped into my head. What would she do if she died the night before her wedding day and had the chance to return to earth to be with her fiancé? That woman became Lucy, my main character.


Lucy is such a fun character and I loved her ditzy side (I relate!) is she based on you or anyone you know?


Lucy is a completely fictional character and much sweeter than I am but we're both romantics and both share a bit of a ditzy side! I'm always embarrassing myself one way or another but at least these days I can console myself by thinking, "Hey, that would make a really funny bit in a novel!" A couple of the embarrassing things that happen to Lucy in 'Heaven Can Wait' actually happened to me but I'm not admitting which ones!


I also found Claire's story incredibly touching, how did she come about?

In the same way that I share a few traits with Lucy I also share a few traits with Claire. When I was a teenager I was horribly grumpy, wore far too much black and was quite insecure. I used those emotions as a basis for Claire's character but she's a lot more sarcastic than I ever was and made extreme decisions and choices that I'd never have considered. I'm so glad you found her story touching. I grew really fond of her as I was writing 'Heaven Can Wait'.


I love asking this question (sorry!)... If Heaven Can Wait was to be made into a movie, which actors would play: Lucy, Anna and Archie?

I'd absolutely love to see 'Heaven Can Wait' as a film! I waver over who I'd choose to play the main characters but think I'd pick Rachel Weisz as Lucy, Jim Sturgess as Dan and Elijah Wood as Archie (he'd have to put on an English accent though!).


If you had the choice would you choose heaven or ghost? And if ghost...who/where would you haunt?

Oooh, brilliant question! I'd only choose to be a ghost if there was a chance of getting to heaven eventually. I'd also want to be able to move around a bit. I think I'd get really bored if I was stuck in one house for eternity! If I could be a ghost for a bit I'd probably sneak around trying to uncover conspiracy theories (like whether there are aliens in Area 51 and whether Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana were murdered). I’d also spy on people like the Queen and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to see what they get up to when they're out of the public eye!


Can you tell us about your route to publication?

After I'd edited 'Heaven Can Wait' I bought a copy of The Writers and Artists Yearbook and looked through it for agents who represented chicklit. I drew up a shortlist of six agencies and sent them a covering letter, a synopsis and the first three chapters of my novel (or whatever they asked for). The Darley Anderson Agency was the first agency to ask for the full manuscript of my novel. I received some fantastic feedback, did a bit more work on my novel and signed with them about a year later. A month after that Orion offered me a two book contract. Since then my agent has gone on to sell the foreign rights to Germany, Spain, Russia, Brazil, Hungary, Czech Republic, Taiwan and China
.


Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Read a lot. And don't just read for pleasure - read books you love to try and work out how the author kept you so gripped and/or make you laugh/cry. Read bad books too so you can learn what doesn't work! I also bought lots of 'how to' books on writing a novel (I've listed my favourites on my website – www.callytaylor.co.uk - under the 'links' tab) and learnt some important lessons on structuring a novel, pace and character.

The most important tip is to actually write. It's easy (and a lot of fun) to dream about holding your published novel in your hands but that won't happen unless you sit down day after day and actually write the thing! It's easy to get disheartened or lose interest in your novel when you're slogging away at it day after day but every published author I know feels the same way. My motto is 'First drafts are supposed to be rubbish.' It's the rewriting and polishing you do after you've written that first draft that turns it into a book. Finally, make sure you get feedback on what you've written before you approach agents. Don't rely on friends and family who are likely to say nice things to spare your feelings. Join a writing group (a local group or online) and ask for honest criticism. It can really sting at first but it'll make you a better writer.


When you’re not writing, who do you like to read? Favourite books/authors?

I read everything and anything! My favourite chicklit author ever is Lisa Jewell and I devoured 'The Truth About Melody Browne' in a couple of days when it came out last year. I also read all the Twilight books. This year I've read 'One Day' by David Nicholls, 'Twenties Girl' by Sophie Kinsella and am currently reading 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog' by Muriel Barbery. I've got a huge pile of books waiting to be read on my bookshelf and am itching to start reading 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' by Steig Larsson because I've heard great things about it.

What's next for Cally Taylor?


I've just received the edits for my second novel from my editor and am about to start work on them. Hopefully that novel, currently untitled, will be out in January 2011. Once the edits are out of the way I'm going to start work on my third novel. I can't wait!

I Can't wait for the new book! Thanks so much for answering my questions.

Now Your Chance To Win!

'What would I do without you, Lucy Brown?' he said, and kissed me softly. I held his face in my hands and kissed him back. I felt that life just couldn't get any more perfect. And I was right, it wouldn't. By the end of the next day, I'd be dead. Lucy is about to marry the man of her dreams - kind, handsome, funny Dan - when she breaks her neck the night before their wedding. Unable to accept a lifetime's separation from her soulmate, Lucy decides to become a ghost rather than go to heaven and be parted from Dan. But it turns out things aren't quite as easy as that. When Lucy discovers that Limbo is a grotty student-style house in North London she's less than thrilled. Especially after meeting her new flatmates: grumpy, cider-swilling EMO-kid Claire; and Brian, a train-spotter with a Thomas the Tank Engine duvet and a big BO problem. But Lucy has a more major problem on her hands - if she wants to become a ghost and be with Dan she has to complete an almost impossible task. How the hell does a girl like Lucy find a girlfriend for the dorkiest man in England? IT geek Archie's only passions are multi-player computer games and his Grandma. But Lucy only has twenty-one days to find him love. And when she discovers that her so-called friend Anna is determined to make a move on the heart-broken, vulnerable Dan, the pressure is really on...

Cally has kindly offered to send a signed copy of her novel, Heaven Can Wait to two lucky winners!

This contest is open to everyone, you don't have to be a follower or tweet about it (although obviously I'd be grateful if you did!)

But to make things interesting, I'm offering an extra entry if you leave a comment telling me who you would haunt if you were a ghost and why! (this is entirely optional, you still get one entry just filling the form in below)

Competition closes at midnight Thursday 15th April and the winners will be picked at random and notified by email.

Good Luck!

Book Review: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Brittany Ellis appears to have it all. She’s rich, pretty, dates the high school football captain and lives on the right side of town. And that’s the image she’s desperate to keep. Because at home things are less than perfect, as her parents decide to send away her disabled sister, her Mother’s neurosis spirals out of control and her Father spends more and more time away. Not so perfect after all.

Alex Fuentes could be seen as the complete opposite. Hard as nails gang member of the notorious Latino Blood from the opposite side of town it looks as if his path is already set-crime, drugs, guns and quite probably an early grave. But inside Alex is harbouring a desire to leave the gang and go to college. Despite the façade he hates being part of the Latino Blood, but with his Father shot dead when he was a child and being the eldest of three bothers, he doesn’t have much choice if he wants to protect his family.

Then Brittany and Alex’s worlds collide when they are partnered in a Chemistry project at school and the results are explosive. But can love cross the Cultural divide and change their destiny or, is the future already mapped out for them the only one?

Seriously, when I read raving reviews about this book I was really eager to read it for myself, but there is no way I was expecting to fall so absolutely in love with it. From the first page I completely devoured the entire story and I’m still thinking about it hours after finishing. Told in alternating chapters by Brittany and Alex, this is a classic good girl/bad boy love story. But what gives this book an edge and makes it such compulsive and memorable reading are the two amazing and complex main characters.

While they believe themselves very different, Alex and Brittany are actually incredibly similar. They are both projecting the image that their families, friends and society expect from them. I adored the way Simone Elkeles used both Brittany and Alex’s voice to tell the story, it meant I was able to connect with both of them and was anxiously urging them on throughout. Brittany got my sympathy straight away. As a reader you’re immediately aware that she’s deeper than she appears. Her desperation to create the ‘perfect’ image, forced upon her by her Mother, makes her lonely and alienated. Her devotion to her disabled sister was incredibly touching, and while the persona she put on for others isn’t very likeable, I loved the Brittany I got an insight into as a reader.

Alex is just, well…stunning. Tough, cocky, sexy…he is hot! He’s speech is captivating and authentic with Spanish phrases littering his dialogue, so even while I don’t speak Spanish, it brought his character even more alive. But he is also so much more than the sexy, brooding, bad boy. Simone Elkeles doesn’t glamorise gangs at all, she shows the harsh reality and it’s not pretty. My heart went to Alex immediately as like Brittany, he’s putting on an act of survival and can’t see a way out. Having seen his Father shot, he is desperate to protect his younger brothers and knows that by sacrificing his own future by joining the gang, he can save them from the same fate. I defy anyone not to fall in love with him; I know I did.

The Chemistry between the two is just dazzling. They spark off each other, at first with hatred and then with sexual tension. Its gripping, heart pounding, stomach clenching stuff. Elkeles writes so well it’s impossible not to get swept up in. A comment made by another character in the book likening Alex to Danny Zuko in Grease had me screaming Yeeess!!! Think of all that chemistry between Sandy and Danny, how you knew they should be together even when they didn’t. But Perfect Chemistry isn’t a fun romance, it has a dark, menacing side, which tackles racism, gang crime and image perception. Sitting in my comfy semi rural English home, criminal gangs such as the Latino Blood are a world away from my own, but Simone Elkeles gave me an insight. Alex sees he has no choice but to join, there is no way out and to do so would put himself and his family at danger. It made me so sad and angry.

So would I recommend Perfect Chemistry? Oh Yeah! I absolutely adored this book from beginning to end, with it keeping me up half the night just to finish it and taking me on one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. I really couldn’t tear my eyes away. Look past the front cover, which in my opinion does nothing for the amazing story inside and I don’t think many will be disappointed with what they find. The only caution I would give would be that the book contains some swearing, sex and violence and I would advise against giving it to under Thirteen year olds, depending on your stance on such things. This is certainly heading straight for my favourites shelves, and I can’t wait for the second book in the trilogy, Rules Of Attraction, to be released.

And if my word isn't enough to convince you, go and check out Becky @ The Bookette's character connection post where she discusses the awesomeness that is Alex Feuntes!

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