October Book Haul

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Happy Halloween!

Books I Bought

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Christmas At Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop by Jenny Colgan via. Amazon

I Will Marry George Clooney (…By Christmas) by Tracy Bloom via. ASDA

Books From Publishers

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#2Sides by Rio Ferdinand via. Blink
– I’m a HUGE Rio fan so I’m utterly delighted to be the owner of a copy

Our Zoo by June Mottershead via. Headline – For my Mum!

The Heart Of Winter by Emma Hannigan via. Headline

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The Christmas Surprise by Jenny Colgan via. Little Brown

The Christmas Party by Carole Matthews via. Little Brown

Rio: My Decade As A Red by Rio Ferdinand via. Midas PR – SIGNED COPY! *faints*

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The Winter Gathering by Deirdre Purcell via. Headline

The Stall Of Second Chances by Dana Bate via. Little Brown

The Soundtrack To My Life by Dermot O’Leary via. Hodder & Stoughton

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The Year Of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond via. Pan Macmillan

Books From NetGalley

The French For Christmas by Fiona Valpy via. Bookouture

A Christmas To Remember by Jenny Hale via. Bookouture

Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake by Sue Watson via. Bookouture

Cold Feet At Christmas by Debbie Johnson via. Harper Impulse

The A To Z Of You And Me by James Hannah via. Transworld

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins via. Transworld

Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell via. Headline

Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen via. Transworld

Mistletoe Mansion by Samantha Tonge via. Carina

Driving Home For Christmas by A. L. Michael via. Carina

As Good As It Gets? by Fiona Gibson via. Avon

Review of The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting by Holly Bourne

Published: 1st August 2014
Publisher: Usborne
Page: 464

Blurb: 

Bree is a loser, a wannabe author who hides behind words. But when she’s told she needs to start living a life worth writing about, The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting is born. Six steps on how to be interesting. Six steps that will see her infiltrate the popular set, fall in love with someone forbidden and make the biggest mistake of her life.

Review:

Seventeen year old Bree is a rejected writer and self harmer. She lives in a big house with a parent who ignores her and another who annoys her. From the first page, I saw Bree in her house waiting to go to school – her thoughts were in my mind like a voice-over in a film. Her voice was unbelievably strong and I was immediately captivated.

“Bloggers are taking over the world.”

When Bree reinvents herself as a “popular girl,” it reminded me a lot of Mean Girls and I didn’t like that. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the film but I wanted Holly’s book to move away from the stereotypical film. As Bree’s project continued, we read her blog as well. Her posts were brilliant, well written and funny. I couldn’t wait to see what she did next.

Behind Holly’s plot, there is an important message about self harming. It’s a very difficult subject for people to talk about and I’m ashamed to say that I know nothing about it. I have to hand it to Holly, she wrote about the subject very well and it really did open my eyes. I’ve never understood why people self harm and my guess is that Bree’s reason is one out of a hundred. When the ending was in sight, Holly took the subject to the next level and I was scared for Bree. I clung to my kindle and read as fast as I possibly could.

Bree was a superb main character. The ending was explosive and when there was ten percent left, I really didn’t know how the plot would end. I would have liked a little bit of closure regarding Logan and the popular girls as I felt like the cut off point for them was a little soon.

“How To Be Really Interesting: Stop Caring.”

Twitter: @holly_bourneYA
Website: www.hollybourne.co.uk

Review of This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Trooper

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Published: 9th October 2014
Publisher:
Orion
Pages:  400

Blurb:

Poor Judd Foxman returns home early to find his wife in bed with his boss – in the act. He now faces the twin threats of both divorce and unemployment. His misery is compounded further with the sudden death of his father.

He is then asked to come and ‘sit Shiva’ for his newly deceased parent with his angry, screwed-up and somewhat estranged brothers and sisters in his childhood home. It is there he must confront who he really is and – more importantly – who he can become.

Review:

Thank you to Orion for kindly sending me a review copy.

The narrative begins with a phone call from a sister to a brother, with the information of their Father’s passing. It was his last wish to have the family sit shiva together. A simple description and characteristics of their family members allowed the opening to be really enjoyable, despite the news of the death.

“This is probably as good a time as any to mention that I was holding a large birthday cake.”

Judd, the main character, is about to get divorced. The scene in which he sees his soon-to-be ex-wife in bed with another man was highly detailed in emotion. I felt sorry for him and hoped that sitting shiva with his family would help him figure out his next plan. Despite his unfortunate recent life events, Judd was a strong character – a man who I enjoyed reading about. There was a lot of likeability about him and I admired his strength to carry on.

The death of the Father hit the family in all different ways, but what I found to be the most relateably was the words of wisdom which came from Judd’s mother: “You can laugh too. There’s no correct emotional response.”

Throughout the shiva, the family became closer which is what I expected. It was a really well written plot and as a Jason Bateman fan, I’m definitely going to watch the film.

Twitter: @Jtropper
Website: www.jonathantropper.com

 

Review of #2Sides: My Autobiography by Rio Ferdinand

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Published: 2nd October 2014
Publisher: Blink
Pages: 304

Blurb:

Candid, outspoken and supremely honest, and including interviews with those close to him, #2Sides is Rio’s unique story: from his early days in Peckham, through to picking up the Champions League trophy on a rainy summer’s night in Moscow, #2Sides is the tell-all account of an extraordinary and controversial life in the game. On winning and losing; on defending and attacking; on Moyes, management and fellow players; on John Terry, lost friendships and ongoing rivalries; on the love and hate of the beautiful game; and on playing for club, country and for yourself – this is a full spectrum of life at the very top of the footballing tree, and a superb retrospective of a truly fascinating career.

Review:

Thank you to Blink for kindly sending me a copy.

I never review autobiographies and in fact, I think I’ve only read three, maybe four in my twenty-three years – all been ones from footballers or Sir Alex. When I saw on Twitter, from Rio himself, that he was bringing out an autobiography, I was excited. I’ve admired him for many years and now, I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that he won’t be kicking a ball on the pitch for much longer. But who knows?

Rio Ferdinand began playing football at an early age and throughout his life, he’s always played for respect. It’s never been about the money or the fame which comes for playing for Manchester United. He’s a footballer because he loves the game. In the early chapters, Rio spoke of how he has worked his way up to the top, from cleaning boots to scoring the last goal at Sir Alex’s final home match. He points out the obvious – young players have it easy and respect has gone down the drain.

The moment you start hearing what the fans are shouting you think, “woah, I’m not in the game, I’m not in the right frame of mind here,” and you concentrate harder.

Rio’s autobiography surprised me if I’m completely honest. I expected him to talk about racism, but I didn’t expect a chapter on gay footballers. For me, he has gone up another notch in my book. His own words in this book are allowing him to express his true opinions without holding back and I really admire that. The chapters on his fellow footballers such as Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes were a wonderful insight. I was unaware that Rio and Lampard were the best of friends back in the day, but with playing as rivals, it seems to have taken its toll on their friendship.

I thought #2Sides was more than a look at Rio’s life, his words of wisdom teach his readers to respect your elders and working from the bottom will get you far in life. The best autobiography I’ve ever read.

Twitter: @rioferdy5

Trisha Ashley Talks Books

Short stories aren’t very popular. I love them, but few people do. When I noticed on Twitter that Trisha Ashley was releasing a collection of short stories, I jumped at the chance to have her on my blog. Over to the lady herself…

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Footsteps in the Snow is a collection of many of my short magazine stories – some about Christmas, and others not – together with my own take on the meaning of Christmas.

The story of the title, Footsteps in the Snow, might be familiar to some of my newsletter readers, for it was sent out to them as a gift a few years ago. It features two characters from Chocolate Wishes, one of my Sticklepond novels, although in this story Chloe and Poppy are little girls and about to have a truly magical experience…

I love everything about Christmas – its true meaning and celebration and all the food and traditions associated with it.  This is probably evident in many of my novels, but especially A Winter’s Tale, Twelve Days of Christmas, The Magic of Christmas and Wish Upon a Star. You will find Christmas scenes in several of my other novels, too.

Trisha Ashley AUTHOR PIC

I hope my selection box of stories has something in it to appeal to everyone and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Emma for having me on her blog and to wish all my wonderful readers the very happy Christmas they deserve.

Twitter: @trishaashley
Website: www.trishaashley.com

Review of The Beginner’s Guide To The Birds And The Bees by Sophie Hart

Published: 19th September 2014
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 348

Blurb:

What happens in the bedroom doesn’t have to stay in the bedroom. A refreshingly open and uplifting romantic comedy about friendship, love and sex. Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone in order to give a relationship a good dose of TLC… Sex therapist Annie Hall helps couples put the fizz back into their relationships. It’s a shame her own love life is non-existent.

Review:

Thank you to Bookouture for kindly sending me a review copy. Lock your doors. Buy some chocolate. Snuggle down in your duvet… SOPHIE HART IS BACK!

Annie is in her mid-thirties, single, not ready to mingle and forever sorting out everyone elses relationship problems. But that’s what happens when you’re a sex therapist. The first chapter told the reader enough about Annie and with Sophie’s warm writing style, I immediately fell back into her enchanting Fictional world.

The plot went from chapter to chapter with such ease and comfort. Reader’s don’t just hear from Annie’s point of view – we hear from quite a lot of her clients regarding their lives, their thoughts and their opinions on Annie. I really enjoyed hearing from the other characters as Sophie wrote the chapter transitions with confidence – there was no mistake on who we were reading about next.

The Beginner’s Guide To The Birds And The Bees was absolutely fantastic. I devoured the book in a couple of days, even finishing it before seeing Peter Andre! It’s one which made me laugh and smile all the way through.

Twitter: @Cafe_Crumb

Alexandra Brown Talks Books

CHRISTMAS IS COMING! Yes, it may be a couple of months away but that doesn’t stop Alexandra Brown from getting into the spirit. Her new book The Great Christmas Knit Off is set for release on the 6th November and it sounds divine. I sat down with the bubbly lady to have a little natter…

Q. The Great Christmas Knit Off is your new novel – congratulations! For those who don’t know what its about, could you please tell them…
A. Thank you. The Great Christmas Knit Off is the first book in a new series set in the fictional village of Tindledale, following the lives of all the characters that live there. Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century at work, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to the picturesque village of Tindledale.There, Sybil discovers Hettie¹s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, is struggling and now the shop is due for closure. And when Hettie decides that Sybil¹s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen.

eBook cover of The Great Christmas Knit Off

Q. Your books are HUGELY popular and book bloggers have been behind you every step of the way. When you began writing, did you ever expect this reaction?
A. Not at all. I hoped, of course, that people might like my books, but I never imagined just how incredible the reaction would be. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the book blogging community, they have been with me from the start – championed my books, spurred me on, cheered me up when I’ve been struggling to meet a deadline, made me laugh and made me cry on occasion, as not all reviews are brilliant, but that’s OK, I’m just grateful when someone takes the time to read one of my books and then write about it. Bloggers are magnificent, they do an amazing job, sometimes with little or no acknowledgement, because they love books and are dedicated to sharing that love, which is why I always thank them in my acknowledgements, it’s the least I can do! And post them a review copy, although the people in my village post office hate me when I rock up with an armful of books, holding up the queue.

Q. Your new book is out in November and it’s perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan. In your opinion, what’s the best aspect about writing?
A. Hearing from readers. I had an email recently from a woman undergoing fertility treatment, thanking me for writing the Carrington’s books, saying how they had helped her through such an emotional time. It’s a special thing to be able to make a difference to someone else’s life.

Seeing as your book is based around Christmas, lets have a little fire round!

Christmas Pudding or Mince Pies?
- Mmm… Both please. I love all of the Christmas food :)

Father Christmas or Santa?
- Father Christmas! Although it can get confusing for our daughter, QT, as Daddy is Irish and his family say Santa.

Jingle Bells or Santa Baby?
- Jingle Bells

Christmas Eve or Boxing Day?
- Christmas Eve. I love the anticipation of the exciting days ahead.

When do you start Christmas shopping?
- Dec 1st, the day after my birthday.

How do you know it’s Christmas in your household?
- When the tree goes up on Dec 1st and I start winding QT up… I meant, ‘gently fuel her excitement’, of course.

Twitter: @alexbrownbooks
Website: www.alexandrabrown.co.uk

Review of A Most Desirable Marriage by Hilary Boyd

A Most Desirable Marriage

Published: 9th October 2014
Publisher: Quercus
Pages: 400

Blurb:

Lawrence and Jo have enjoyed a strong marriage, the envy of their friends. Even after thirty years they have lots to say to each other, many interests in common and, until recently, a good sex life. But Lawrence seems wary and restless. Something’s wrong. Just how wrong, Jo is about to discover…

Can they use their years of history – all the things they’ve shared – to overcome a devastating betrayal?

Review:

Thank you to Quercus for kindly sending me a review copy.

Lawrence and Jo are both in their sixties and they’ve recently retired. Jo isn’t sure how she feels about having her husband around the house 24/7, but all that changes when a shocking truth is unleashed… IN THE FIRST CHAPTER! I love it when twists are put into the first chapter rather than leaving it until the middle and then having a rushed ending. This book was all about the truth and it just made me love the book even more.

It was very interesting to see how the rest of the family dealt with the shock. One family member in particular (I won’t name names), but they included the truth into their job which I thought was brilliant. I was desperate for Lawrence and Jo to work out their differences, but it just wasn’t that simple.

There is always a lot of depth within Hilary’s books and that’s why I enjoy them so much. To my surprise, I found myself enjoying reading about an elderly couple which doesn’t have very often in the books I choose to read.

Twitter: @HilaryBoyd

Review of A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Published: 28th August 2014
Publisher: Macmillan Children
Pages: 272

Blurb:

Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop-culture references, order the same Chinese food and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush it looks like they are never going to work things out.

But somehow, even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative-writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at the local Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Now they just need to realize that they’re meant for each other, and start falling in love…

Review:

Thank you to Macmillan for kindly sending me a review copy.

The narrative begins in September when college in the US has just begun. We meet a selection of characters including roommates, teachers, a bench (yes, one that you sit on), brothers, squirrels (yes, as in the animal), students, the bus driver, friends, teacher’s wives etc. For me, there were far too many point of views changes and I really want to hear directly from the two main characters.

Gabe is an awkward teenager and Lea is shy around new people – so they’re perfect for one another! I liked that they met through their Creative Writing class, but I just didn’t feel the chemistry between them and that really let me down.

A Little Something Different was definitely something different to other Young Adult books which I have read. Sadly, this book just wasn’t for me. The point of view really put me off and if it had been from Gabe/Lea, I would have probably enjoyed it more. I could see the author’s concept but it just didn’t click with me.

Twitter: @iamsandyhall

Lisa Dickenson Talks Writing Tips

A year and a half ago a rather lovely Editor named Manpreet changed my life.  In a totally platonic way.  She and Little, Brown Book Group liked the idea of my Christmas story, The Twelve Dates of Christmas, and asked if they could publish it in six parts, starting in November 2013.  I said yes, obvs, and seeing as it was already July I got cracking, sharpish.

Fast-forward to now.  My second book with Little, Brown (You Had Me at Merlot) is behind me, The Twelve Dates of Christmas has just been released as a full ebook, and next year it’s down to be a paperback.  I’m so fond of this book now – my first ever novel – and it’s so fun for me to revisit Claudia and Nick, not to mention Penny, Seth, and the notorious Eddie.  I hope you like it too J.  It’s especially nice to come back to this book now the weather is turning, the evenings and mornings are darker, and winter is coming, because when it all started, I was in a very different season indeed…

My tips on writing a book in the wrong season:

I wrote The Twelve Dates of Christmas during the three hottest months the British summertime had seen in years.  While everyone else was outraged if a Christmas card appeared in Clintons in August, I was wringing the sweat out of my shorts and turning up the volume on Santa Claus is Coming to Town.  So here are my top two tips on getting into the spirit of writing a novel in the wrong season…

  1. Let the music take you there. Whatever I’m writing I tend to make ‘mood playlists’ to help get me into the frame of mind of my leading ladies during particular scenes, but for Twelve Dates I listened to one big Christmas playlist practically 24/7.  I think little else can awaken the first sparkles of Christmas spirit than the opening bars to your favourite holiday tune, so without Mariah, Wham!, Band Aid and Bing Crosby I would never have been able to happily conjour up images of cold air, mulled wine and snowflakes.

You can see Claudia’s Christmas Playlist here, with songs inspired by (and to get you in the mood for) each date she goes on in The Twelve Dates of Christmas.

  1. Pinteresting. Pinterest mood boards are so easy to create, and you can access thousands more inspiration-giving images than you could if you were creating a real life one, cutting images from magazines.  I spent an afternoon creating a board full of the best images I could find of not only the activities and dates that occur in the story, but also anything that brought to life the atmosphere of Christmas in London – snow covered red telephone boxes, fairy lights by the Thames, kissing next to Christmas trees.

Here’s my Twelve Dates mood board, which I hope helps you bring the book to life.

The Twelve Dates of Christmas is now out as a complete ebook here, and you can try Dates 1&2 for free here for another couple of weeks.

Thanks for reading, and big thanks to Emma Louise for having me!

Lisa x

Twitter: @LisaWritesStuff
Website: www.lisadickenson.com