Friday, September 30, 2011

Giveaway: Restless In Carolina by Tamara Leigh

Restless in Carolina focuses on Bridget, a widow, who is trying to get over the death of her husband. If that isn't enough she must also find an eco-friendly buyer for her Uncle Obe's estate before time runs out.

Restless in Carolina was released on 19th July 2011 and thanks to Ashleigh at Multnomah Publishing I have three copies of the novel to give away to our lucky readers. I recently reviewed Restless in Carolina, check it out here

How to win a copy of Restless In Carolina:



Tell us which state in America you would most like to visit?

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Giveaway Ends 10th  October 2011 11.59 EST
Please include your email address where you can be reached if you should win the giveaway. The email address will only be used for this purpose. Please leave separate comments to show each of the steps you have completed for entries.

Winner Of The Empty Nesters

To determine the winner of a copy of The Empty Nesters by Nina Bell I assigned numbers to all the entires and chose one at random.

The winner is:

Bethany

Congratulations!

You have 48 hours to claim your prize. I have also emailed you as well.

Remember you can visit Nina Bell at her website

And you can purchase The Empty Nesters below:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Review: Paris Noire by Francine Thomas Howard

Francine Thomas Howard - Paris Noire

When Was It Released?: 20th September 2011
Where Did I Get It From?: Little Bird Publicity who represent Francine Thomas Howard kindly sent me a copy in exchange for a review
Who Published It?: Amazon Encore
Number Of Pages: 360 Pages

When I first heard about Paris Noire, I was actually quite excited to read the novel. I love novels set in and around WW1 and WW11 and felt as though this novel would be full of history, romance and racial prejudice. What more could I ask for? I had seen a few low rating reviews for this novel and wanted to find out exactly why others were not liking this novel. Therefore with an open mind I began to delve into the pages of Paris Noire.

Paris Noire, is set in 1944, at the beginning of the end of WWII and focuses on the story of Marie Therese and her two children Colette and Christophe. The family immigrated to Paris in 1928 from Martinique and faced many prejudices along the way. Once the Nazi’s have departed Paris, there is a great celebration where Christophe ends up embarking on a passionate love affair with the wife of a French freedom fighter. Marie-Therese suspects that this relationship will only end to heartbreak for her son yet Christophe is determined to make his relationship work, after all he is in love. At the same time Colette begins a dalliance with a white Frenchman and Marie-Therese herself finds herself attracted to a handsome black soldier.

I really did enjoy the plot of Paris Noire, with the focus on the romance that unfolds between various characters of different races. I felt the storyline moved quickly, which left me wanting to know hoe the novel would pan out. I found at times it was difficult to put this novel down, especially towards the middle of the novel where the events really pick up speed. I especially enjoyed the way in which Francine Thomas Howard takes on the aspect of a relationship and the prejudice that faces a African American man and a Caucasian French woman in the 1940’s. I felt as though the racial aspects of the novel were dealt with really well and were interesting while still being enjoyable. I also really liked that this novel is set during wartime, even though it is at the very end of the war, as I enjoy reading novels set in the first and second world wars. In terms of the characters I felt that my favourite would have to be Christophe. The way in which Christophe’s emotions are portrayed I really felt along with him and was routing for his relationship to work out throughout the novel. I found him to be relatable with a large amount of depth for someone who had been swept away with a relationship. I found Colette to be interesting, also and would have like to see a little more of her throughout the novel.

I hated the ending of this novel. I don’t think I have ever hated an ending more than with the ending of Pairs Noire. I don’t want to give too much away but lets just say it involves a mother pushing two people to get married who clearly do not love each other! I thought this was absurd and really ruined the novel for me. This is certainly not how I wanted this novel to end, and I would have really enjoyed the novel a lot more if it were not for this ending. To really enjoy the novel fully I suggest not even reading the last three or four pages. Aside from this, even though the racial aspects of the novel were dealt with well, it really began to grate on me that Marie-Therese had to bring up that she was from Martinique on almost every page. I understand that it is central to the novel but it really did not need to be mentioned quite so many times. I also did not the way in which Marie-Therese did not want there to be racial prejudice towards her yet she constantly says throughout the novel that she does not want her children to become romantically involved with any white people. I found this extremely hypocritical and felt that this could also have been toned down within the novel. I also felt as though Francine Thomas Howard should have done a little more research with this novel, as there many historical errors within the pages.

Paris Noire held so much promise as a novel, however I felt that it did not live up to its true potential. The synopsis and premise of Paris Noire was such an exciting an intriguing one, yet I’m afraid that certain elements of the novel let it down a little. That being said I still did enjoy the novel and would defiantly recommend reading it for yourself. The romantic and racial elements of the novel are fantastic and so enjoyable. I was all set to give this novel four stars, yet I’m afraid the ending of this novel pushed me down to giving it only three.



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Review: Star Struck by Jane Lovering

Jane Lovering - Star Struck


When Was It Released?: 1st September
Where Did I Get It From?: Liz from Choc Lit was kind enough to send a copy in exchange for a review
Who Published It?: Choc Lit   
Number Of Pages:  301 Pages


While never having read any of Jane Lovering’s previous novels, I had seen a large amount of other great reviews for Star Struck. I knew that if all of my friends and fellow chick lit bloggers were enjoying the novel it was highly likely that I would too. Therefore I was excited to read the novel and form my own opinions.
Skye is a recluse, scared to be away from her daily routine, not even wanting to leave the house. Why? Well Skye was in a car accident that left her with scars on the inside and out. The car accident also took her memories as well as her best friend and fiancé. When offered a trip to Nevada for a sci-fi convention, Skye hopes that this will be the trip that will help her to heal. Skye wants to go in order to meet the actor she idolises, Gethryn Tudor-Morgan, but she ends up bumping into Jack first. Jack is a sci-fi writer with lots of secrets in his past. With all his problems Jack is not looking for a woman he has enough problems without adding a relationship to the mix. Even so Jack seems drawn to Skye and cannot help the friendship that develops between them. Jack, however, fears that if Skye finds out about his past, they will never have a chance at a future.

I have to admit that before I picked up this book, I was a little put off by the concept of Skye heading to a sci-fi convention for Falling Skies. I felt that it would become too much like a sci-fi novel or else I would be bored by the novel being focuses around this. That was so far from the truth! The way in which Jane Lovering adds the concept of the sci-fi convention actually makes the novel unique and provides a setting that I have never seen in a chick lit novel before. Jane’s writing style also made this aspect entertaining and humorous, whereas it could have become nerdy! The pace from the first chapter was fast and meant that I was instantly swept away with the novel. Almost as soon as I was done with the first few pages I knew that my initial worries were not needed. While I do not want to give anything away about the book; there is a lot of drama that I did not in any way see coming around the middle of the novel onwards. I love it when a novel surprises me with twists and turns that shock me and I had no hint that they were coming.

I really enjoyed reading about the characters within Star Struck, in particular Skye, Felix and Jack, due to them being so flawed. The imperfections made each of the characters extremely interesting and added a large amount of depth and layers to each character. I felt that this made each character seem more realistic, as most people have their flaws. While at times I did not like all of the characters, in particular Felix, who treats Skye in ways that made me doubt his friendship at times, I found myself wanting to find out more about them. All of the characters have secrets and I was riveted throughout, wondering what each of their secrets could be. Even though I have never been in the same situations as any of the characters I found myself relating to all of them especially Skye. I was routing for Skye throughout the novel to gain more confidence and realise what she is really capable of.

I did find however that even though some aspects of the novel surprised me, others such as the romance elements did not. Again I do not want to give too much away if you have not read this novel, however it is extremely easy to see exactly how the relationships in the novel will pan out. I would have liked there to be a little more mystery surrounded what would happen in terms of the relationships in order to make the storyline a little more interesting. Additionally, while I actually enjoyed the novel being set at a sci-fi convention, I feel as though this concept will put some readers off. All I can say about this is, please don’t let it.

Overall, after putting aside my initial worry over this novel, I really found this an enjoyable novel. I was gripped from the first page onwards, finding myself not wanting to put Star Struck down. It was fast paced, emotional, entertaining and I did not want this novel to end. I cannot wait to read more from Jane Lovering, and will defiantly be picking up Please Don’t Stop The Music, her previous novel with publishers Choc Lit, in order to read more from this sensational author. Go out and buy this one, you won’t regret it!





Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Ten: Books I Want To Re-Read

I'm participating  in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday The Broke and the Bookish post their top ten lists on various topics: Top Ten Tuesday page

 
Today I am looking at the Top Ten books that I want to re-read:



10. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisburger

I absolutly loved this novel when it was first released. I then watched the movie in the theatres too and adored it. I have seen the movie many times and would love to re-read the novel. After all even though the movie was a great representation of the novel, I still prefer the novel. I have read all of Lauren Weisburger's novels, and would recommend them all, however The Devil Wears Prada is still my favourite

9. The Language Of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
 I recently read The Language of Flowers and was blown away by it. When a novel sticks with you long after you have finished reading, thats when I know that it will remain on my shelves for many years to come. The emotion and rawness of this novel was what I enjoyed most. If you haven't read this one you need to.

8. Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres

This has been my all time favourite novel ever since I picked it up, when I was around sixteen. I fell in love with this novel instantly and have re-read it many times. It is a novel that I always come back to when I want something filled with romance and emotional turmoil. While this is not chick lit, I think everyone needs to read this, regardless of your tastes in novels.

7. In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

I have a confession to make! I have never seen the movie version of In Her Shoes! I know, I know, I need to but I just haven't got around to it yet. After watching the movie, I know that I will want to re-read the novel and so therefore I had to add it to my list. Aside from this, In Her Shoes is one of my favourite Jennifer Weiner novels.

6. Jemima J by Jane Green

Jane Green is my all time favourite author and Jemima J was the first of her novels I ever read. While I would love to re-read all of Jane's novels if I had the time, I thought I would try to narrow it down to just one. Jemima J is such a fun read that I know I would fall in love with it all over again if I chose to re-read it. If you haven't already read this one you need to, it is one of my all time favourite novels.

5. Something Borrowed and Something Blue by Emily Giffin

Many of your will have seen the movie version of Something Borrowed and read the novels. I always feel as though these two novels should come hand in hand, therefore chose them both together. Thats not cheating? Right?! Aside from that these are both great reads and I would love to re-read them just to see whether I am still Team Rachel or if I see things more from Darcy's point of view.

4. Bridget Jones by Helen Fielding

I must have seen the movie version of Bridget Jones more times than I can count. While I adore the movie (and find me someone who doesn't) I sometimes forget this was a novel before it became a movie. The book version is just as good, if not better than the movie. I would love to re-read this novel, as Helen Fieldings writing is so entertaining. If you haven't read the book you need to!

3. Skipping A Beat by Sarah Pekannen

Sarah Pekkanen managed to move me in such a way with Skipping A Beat that my emotions ended up all over the place. I found myself laughing and at times even crying (which is very rare for me with a novel)! This novel took me on an emotional rollercoaster and I would love to see if the novel would take me on the same journey if I were to re-read it. I would highly recommed anyone to read Skipping A Beat and also The Opposite Of Me both by Sarah Pekannnen

2. Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

Before Ever After completely blew me away the first time I read it. Ever since then it has not been out of my mind and I would love to re-read the novel. I have found myself comparing this novel with everything I have been reading lately! I seriously urge anyone who has not read this novel to pick it up and see for yourself exactly why I adore this novel so much. Just writing about it is making me want to pick up the book and delve back into the story of Shelley and Max.

1. Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella


As hard as I tried to pick just one of the Shopaholic series novels, I just couldn't narrow it down to one. Therefore I chose the entire series as my top choice of novel to re-read. The Shopaholic series is a fun, entertaining, light and humourous read. I love delving into the life of Becky Bloomwood! And after all isn't there a shopaholic inside of all of us?


What books would you like to re-read? Let me know in the comments below

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Review: Restless In Carolina by Tamara Leigh:

Tamara Leigh   - Restless In Carolina

When Was It Released?: 19th July 2011
Where Did I Get It From?: Ashley Boyer at Waterbrook Multnomah was kind enough to send this copy for review
Who Published It?:   Waterbrook Multnomah
Number Of Pages:  339 pages



Restless In Carolina is the third novel in the Southern Discomfort series; following on from Leaving Carolina and Nowhere Carolina. I was excited to read this new novel in the series, as I always enjoy seeing how authors depict the south in particularly the Carolina’s, which is where I now live. I was excited to see how Restless in Carolina would pan out and could not wait to get started on this novel.

Bridget Pickwick is trying hard to overcome the death of her husband, Easton, but after four years things just aren’t getting any easier. Everyone around her seems to think that it is time she ditched her widow’s weeds and started living her life. On top of that she needs to find a buyer for her family’s estate, and not just any buyer, but someone who will keep the estate in its natural form, as eco-friendly as possible rather than turning it into a housing. Bridget thinks she may have found just in the man in JC Dirk, whose company has been developing green properties for years. JC however, is not amused when Bridget decides to gatecrash one of his meetings in order to get his attention, until she mentions the family name that is. JC finds himself more than interested not only in the property but also perhaps in Bridget herself!

The plot itself is based on a concept which is tried and tested with the southern girl and the city boy. I did enjoy the element Tamara Leigh brings in with trying to find a green buyer for the estate. I felt that this stopped the novel from being something that has been done many times before. Even though this is the third novel in the Southern Discomfort series, the novel still flows easily whether you have read the previous two novels or not. While I would recommend that you do read the previous novels in the series, it is defiantly not necessary in forming an understanding of the plot, and this novel does work well as a stand alone too.

I really enjoyed reading about the character of Bridget. Even though she is an almost polar opposite of myself, I loved her tough character and found her to be extremely grounded. Her tough attitude is chipped away at in this novel, revealing a hilarious, poignant and down to earth woman. I really enjoyed seeing the vulnerable side of Bridget and the way in which she deals with her grief over the loss of her husband, makes her extremely likeable. I also liked the character of JC who I found entertaining, humours and handsome. I loved reading the interaction between Bridget and JC, which had me wondering all along if they would realize that they are perfect for each other. I could not figure JC’s secret out until the point where he tells it. Its very rare for me to find a novel in which I can’t see what is coming on the next page, therefore I found this refreshing. Another favourite character of mine was Uncle Obe, who even though he is dealing with the on set of dementia, is still hilarious and comes out with some very funny lines. He is also a very generous and humble man, who brings great depth to the storyline.

I had one big problem with Restless In Carolina and that was that I felt a lot of the time religion was being pushed down my throat. I am very open in my beliefs and do mind reading about any religion or religious views, however I do like when it is mentioned on almost every page. I felt as though the authors views on religion were forefront throughout the novel. I understand that Tamara Leigh wanted to bring her faith into her writing and make her novels more God-honouring, however I just felt that the way in which it was brought across was not to my tastes. I do not enjoy being preached at through a novel and feel that a little toning down of this could have gone a long way to improving the novel. My other issue with the novel was the use of stereotypes. I myself live in South Carolina and I did not enjoy the way in which there were stereotypical southern characters, who all had stereotypical southern names. I know that many people love these aspects of southern life and reading about this in a novel, but personally I myself am not one of them. I would have liked the characters to be unique people rather than stereotypes of how southern people are perceived.

Overall I did enjoy reading Restless In Carolina. I found the novel to be humorous, filled with romance and southern charm. The characters fit really well with the plot and I really found myself wanting to find out what happened. There is a strong message throughout this novel, which I commend Tamara Leigh for putting into her work. I would recommend Restless In Carolina to anyone who enjoys a romance novel sprinkled with southern charm. I will be reading more from Tamara Leigh in the future.



Sunday, September 25, 2011

In My Mailbox

Check out my video to find out what I recived in my mailbox this week. Find out more information on the novels below:




Falling Together by Marisa De Los Santos
A Wedding Invitation by Alice J. Wisler
House Of Secrets by Traice Peterson
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
The Cloud Messenger by Aamer Hussain

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Giveaway: Goddess of Vengence by Jackie Collins

Giveaway Ended

Jackie Collins’ fierce and wildly beautiful heroine Lucky Santangelo is back with a vengeance—in a novel full of power, passion, revenge, and the raging family dynamics of the Santangelo clan—and, as always, Lucky comes out on top.

Goddess Of Vengence was released on 13th September 2011 and thanks to Katie Ginda at St Martin's Press I have two copies of the novel to give away to  our lucky readers. I recently reviewed The Goddess Of Vengence, check it out here

How to win Goddess Of Vengence by Jackie Collins:


Tell us which of Jackie Collin's novels is your favourite?

For bonus entries (one additional entry per step completed):

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You must have a US mailing address

Giveaway Ends 2nd October 2011 11.59 EST



Please include your email address where you can be reached if you should win the giveaway. The email address will only be used for this purpose. Please leave separate comments to show each of the steps you have completed for entries.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Review: Working It Out by Nicola May

Nicola May - Working It Out

When Was It Released?: 13th March 2011
Where Did I Get It From?: Nicola May was kind enough to send me a copy for review
Who Published It?:   Nicola has self published this novel
Number Of Pages:  336 pages



I recently, heard about Nicola May, a new self published author from a friend of mine, who had just finished reading her novel, Working It Out, and absolutely loved it.. I started to read a few reviews of the novel and was surprised that there was so much hype around a self published novel. I was intrigued to find out exactly why everyone was so excited about this novel and I knew then and there that I had to get my hands on a copy.

Working It Out is the story of Ruby, a thirty year old working in marketing, who suddenly gets made redundant. Ruby did not see the redundancy coming, and realises that she will have to prioritise her life. After working in a job, that she realises she never really enjoyed, Ruby is determined to find a job she does love. Ruby decides that in order to find her dream job she will take on twelve different jobs in twelve months to see if she can find what she is looking for. Along the way Ruby works as a nanny in the South of France, waiting tables in a buzzing café and catering to celebrities of years gone by in a retirement home. Along the way Ruby meets an assortment of men, including Gorgeous George and Balding Adam. The story looks at whether Ruby will find happiness, the right job and even perhaps the right guy along the way.

I fell in love with the idea behind this novel. The storyline of taking on twelve jobs in twelve months is so unique and different from anything I have seen before in a chick lit novel. I found that this idea hooked me and made me want to delve into this book straight away. Some of the jobs were regular one that many of us will have experienced, others a little more quirky. Nicola May managed to make every job that Ruby undertakes interesting and enjoyable to read about. My favourite job that Ruby took, would have to be the first, where Ruby works in a retirement home. The cast of characters Ruby meets there are colourful, yet Nicola May, manages to still bring the poignancy of the moment to the forefront of the readers mind without leaving the mood too sombre. I feel as though it is Nicola May’s humour, which she weaves through the story, which manages to make these moments more light hearted and easier to read about. This humour is present throughout the novel and while at times it is more of an undertone, at others it made me laugh out loud.

The main character Ruby was instantly likeable and I felt as though she could easily be one of my friends. At least I wanted her to be one of my friends! I found it so easy to connect with Ruby, and I thought that perhaps there is a little piece of all of us within her. She is likeable, humorous, caring and just an ordinary girl at heart. Along with Ruby, Nicola May, has created a wide cast of characters, for the reader to meet along Ruby’s journey. While some characters play a smaller role than others, I found that there were many, if not all, that I truly enjoyed reading about. My favourites would have to be Sam, Ruby’s brother, who is blind but seems to have a large amount joy for life and an incredibly positive attitude. I found Sam to be a very inspirational character. I also really enjoyed reading about Margaret, Ruby’s elderly neighbour, who provides Ruby with lots of advice and is a true friend, as well as Lucas, one of the residents of the retirement home. Lucas was a joy to read about, as he took the last moments of his life in his stride, while still being a very poignant character. Even though there are a large amount of characters within the novel, each is memorable enough to not get lost within the plot.

While many of the jobs that Ruby undertakes are described in detail, others are over in a few pages. While fitting twelve jobs into the pages of a novel means that some jobs need to be made less significant than others, I would have liked to see more of how Ruby fares in these other jobs too. I also found that at times Ruby seems to be a little too promiscuous for my liking. There are many different relationships that she becomes part of throughout the novel, with many different men involved. At times these relationships are only based on sex and nothing more. I felt that this made Ruby seem a little too loose with her morals, and felt that perhaps a couple of these encounters could have been taken out, without spoiling the plot or storyline in any way. 

Overall, I loved Working It Out and I have to admit I was a little sad when I reached the end of the novel! I cannot believe that this novel has not been snapped up by a big publishing house, as this is one of the freshest, most entertaining, feel good novels I have read this year. I would recommend anyone who is looking for a novel that will put a great big smile on your face to go out and buy this novel. I can guarantee you will not regret it! I cannot wait to read more from Nicola May and I am excited for what is to come from her in the future.





Thursday, September 22, 2011

An Interview With: Sue Watson

Sue Watson was born in Manchester and moved to London to work as a journalist on tabloid newspapers and women's magazines. She then moved into television, and became a producer with the BBC, working on garden makeovers, kitchen programmes and daytime talk shows. Sue now writes novels in Worcestershire, where she lives with husband Nick, daughter Eve, two cats and a rather glamorous goldfish.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sue, earlier this week, about the success of her debut novel Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes and here is what she had to say:

Thankyou so much for joining us at Chick Litaholic today and congratulations on your debut novel Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes. How did you come up with the idea for the novel?
I think the seed was planted for Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes several years ago when I was working as a TV producer with the BBC and struggling with being a new mum. I remember a friend saying that she'd like to just stay home and look after her children and bake.... that sounded like a lovely idea and got me thinking.

How similar to the character of Stella are you?
I think I am very much like Stella and once I began writing her character it just flowed because I felt things in a similar way to her. We both deal with life in a similar way .... by never letting things get us down and we always add a large sprinkling of humour. Like Stella I also struggled with the pressures of motherhood, work and marriage, but being in a media career there was also pressure to stay young ... and being a springy size zero.

Are any of the characters in Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes based on real people, or are they all fictional?
I think most of my characters have elements of people I know in them. I found it helped to have a vague idea of a real person in mind and build on that while developing the characters. It helped me to think 'how would she deal with that?' or 'how would someone like him react to that situation?' I also have a friend called Al who is involved in the Gay swimming community (yes it does exist!) and there are definatly some cute little bits of him in the book character, but the real Al is far more sensitive, and wouldn't ever be as hilariously tactless as the fictious Al.

In Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes Stella loves to bake. Do you enjoy baking in your spare time?
I love to bake - I find it very therapeutic and my favourite part about baking fairy cakes is the decorating bit! I love to ice the tops and put candies and jellies and little coffee beans (on the coffee flavoured cakes.) My book contains lots of recipies that are referred to in the narative and that were all created by me in my own kitchen .... like Cranberry and White Chocolate Chritsmas Fairies and cute coffee cupcakes.

What is your favourite food that you enjoy as a treat?
Well I have to say fairy cakes. I love coffee and chocolate ones the best. I also LOVE chocolate (or candy) in every form and could probably eat it all the time ... hell I do! And let's face it that's probably why I never have been, or never will be a size zero.

It sounds like I love chocolate just as much as you! If Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes were made into a movie, who would be your dream cast?
Ooh what a lovely thought that would be! I would like Stella to be played by someone who is naturally big and gorgeous - not some skinny actress who has to eat doughnuts for a few weeks to put on half a stone and call herself 'fat'. I would love to see someone like Brooke Elliot who plays Jane, the plus size girl whose body is inhabited by the soul of a supermodel, in Drop Dead Diva. She's a big, beautiful, sassy lady who I just know would play a witty, intelligent heroine perfectly. I think she has just the right balance of beauty, bigness, feistiness, yet vunerabilty ... she'd be fabolous. For Stella's best friend Al, it would have to be Micheal Urie who plays Marc St James in Ugly Betty. As Marc he has the crazy energy and twisted dark humour that I love so much in Al ... he also tells it like it is!

What do you think of the chick lit label being placed on your novel?
I am so delighted to have the book in print (and kindle) and so flattered anyone would want to read it I really don't mind about the label. I am really interested to know what my readers think and whether or not that believe it fits into the chick lit genre? I also guess it's about how you define chick lit and I see chick lit as a very broad genre. Essentially it's a women's commercial fiction - but chick lit just sounds lighter and more fun!

I agree! Who are your favourite authors?
I love Jen Lancaster - she's outrageous, says it like it is and though I don't always agree with her politics I love her writing. 'Such a Pretty Fat' is one of the funniest, most brutally honest books I have ever read. In complete contrast, I love Anne Tyler - 'Back When We Were Grown Ups' is my favourite book and centres on a slightly older heroine - which is quite unusual. Tyler's characters are so incredibly real and she writes with clarity, revealing their innermost, peeling away their layers of dissapointment, hurt, love that they have gone through - and essentially what it is to be human moving through life and living in relationships with other humans.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Yes. Never give up ... writing can be the loneliest, most thankless and yet most wonderful profession. I left the BBC and my career in TV to pursue this and it has taken years to get to the publication stage. There have been times when I have had rejections and been so dissapointed that I wanted to throw the towel in but something drove me on .... I always believed in this book and wanted to share the story. Think about your cover - imagine the book on shelves, on Amazon ... just keep visualising it and re-editing and sending it out again and again. Believe it what you are doing and don't let anyone put you off - and don't read statistics about how unlikely it is you'll get published ... someone has to!

Are you working on a second novel, and if so can you tell us more about it?
Yes, I'm currently completing my second book, 'The Terrible Truth About Tanya Travis.' It's the story of a talk show host - with a dark secret. I think Tanya is as engaging and in her own way as funny as Stella, but she's a very different character, Tanya is slightly uptight, suffers from OCD and is always feeling anxious and finds relief in cleaning. Tanya is great fun to write about, but has provided quite a challenge for me as a writer because she is so different from Stella. I am also planning a sequel to Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes and want to take Stella and her friends to Hollywood - because I know they will love it! I want them to bake glamourous fairy cakes and sip frothy cocktails by fabolous blue swimming pools. And who knows? There may even be a few film stars dotted around the 'Fairy Cake' landscape!

Sounds exciting. I know I can't wait for your next novel. Thankyou so much for joining us here today.
Thankyou so much for having me - I do hope your readers enjoy the interview...!

To find out more about Sue Watson you can visit her website: http://fatgirlsandfairycakes.blogspot.com/

Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes is avaliable on Amazon on Kindle (US and Canada) and paperback (UK). To buy the novel, click on the links below:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Alison Wonderland by Helen Smith: A Review

Helen Smith - Alison Wonderland

When Was It Released?: 16th August 2011
Where Did I Get It From?: Little Bird Publicity, who represent Helen Smith, were kind enough to send a copy for review
Who Published It?:    Amazon Encore   
Number Of Pages:  176 pages

As soon as I heard about Alison Wonderland, I knew that I had to read it. Any novel with a name even remotely similar to Alison Wonderland, my all time favorite movie (the 1950’s version that is), has me curious. While Alison Wonderland has nothing to do with the book it sounds so similar too, I was still intrigued after reading more about it. I had read many mixed reviews of this novel before picking it up, therefore I was eager to form my own opinion on the novel.

Alison Temple, is now single and alone after her husband leaves her for another women. Unsure of what to do next she impulsively applies for a job at a detective agency that managed to trap her husband, hoping that it will provide a fresh start. Alison spends her days tracking lost objects and her nights following unfaithful husbands. Alison has many interesting characters in her life including her boss Mrs Fitzgerald, her eccentric best friend, Taron, her love struck neighbour Jeff and even a psychic postman. Her relationship with each of them grows when she joins Taron on a road trip to the sea and stumbles upon sinister goings on she did not see coming.

I have to admit that I am a little mixed with my feelings about Alison Wonderland. At times throughout the book I found myself loving it, and then at times I really had a hard time getting into it. I did find the style of Alison Wonderland to be quintessential and quirky, almost a little reminiscent of Alice In Wonderland. While there are no rabbit holes to fall down nor any Mad Hatter’s, Alison Wonderland still has that magical element of almost falling into another world that is so different from reality. With a shig, cross between a sheep and a pig, monks in an underground tunnel and lots of detective work going on I felt as though at moments as though I was reading a magical land that doesn’t exist. Helen Smith, however manages to combine this style with reality, firmly set in England with normal goings on as well as the obscure. I loved the British colloquiums, humour and style within the novel. Being British living in America I enjoy seeing these elements brought through in a novel. The mentions of Marks and Spencer’s, particularly had me feeling a little nostalgic. I also enjoyed the way in which Helen Smith’s style is laid back and conversational making this an easy read, which flowed well. All of the characters within the novel are quirky and unique making them fun to read about, especially Jeff, Alison’s neighbour who sends her love poems. I enjoyed reading about their oddities and the strange and disconnected relationship that they seem to have with each other, was very entertaining. I found that with Helen Smith’s characterization and quirky wit, I was laughing out loud at many points during the novel.


Unfortunately, I did fall head over heels in love with Alison Wonderland. I find the novel very slow to get started, even with the great line of, “'I'm waiting for Mr Wonderland and when I find him I'll get married. Until then I'm staying single”, I still find that it was a little confusing in the beginning figuring out where this novel was headed. I found it very difficult to get enthralled in the story until a few chapters in, when I was able to delve into the characters more. Some readers may also be offended by some of language and scenes that happen in the book. There is a moment of animal cruelty, which although only mentioned for a couple of sentences, I found a little disturbing. Along with a scene where a man and an animal get a little too friendly. I felt that a couple of these moments could have been toned down, or perhaps taken out of the novel all together. I also found the careless drug use, and quest for a baby within the novel lead me to like Alison a little less than if she had not been as rough around the edges. I was also a little disappointed that there appeared to be a lot going on within the novel, however no real climax was reached. I would have liked to see the novel reach and pinnacle and then reach a conclusion.

Overall, I found Alison Wonderland to be a light yet still thought provoking, fun read. This is a quick read, therefore something you can easily pick up and put back down again, without losing the flow of the story. While I was not blown away with this novel and did have a few issues with it, I still found it to be an enjoyable read and would most probably read more from Helen Smith in the future. I would defiantly recommend picking up a copy of Alison Wonderland if you are after something a little different from your read.










Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goddess Of Vengence by Jackie Collins: A Review

Jackie Collins -  Goddess Of Vengence

When Was It Released?: 13th September 2011
Where Did I Get It From?: Ann- Marie Neives was kind enough to send a copy for review
Who Published It?:    St Martins Press
Number Of Pages:  528 pages





Goddess of Vengeance is the seventh book in the Lucky Santangelo series. Now before I carry on I want to say two things; the first that even though this novel is part of a series you do not need to have read the other novels in order to enjoy this one. And second, the list of novels in the series is listed at the bottom of this review in the order of newest to oldest. Now I have those two pieces of information out of the way, I was really excited when I heard that Jackie Collins would be writing another novel in the Lucky Santangelo series. Drop Dead Beautiful, is one of my favourite Jackie Collins novels and so I was waiting on bated breath to discover exactly what happens next and to delve even further into the life of Lucky and her family. Jackie Collins is the reigning queen of chick lit and has been for many years with her signature look into the glamorous, rich and famous lives of the Hollywood elite. Jackie Collins has written twenty seven novels and sold over 400 million copies of her novels!

Lucky is a succesfull business woman running her high profile hotel and casino, The Keys in Las Vegas. The rest of her family are also in high points in their lives, with husband Lennie directing movies, her daughter Max about to turn eighteen and her son Bobby owning a number of hot nightclubs. It seems as though everything in her life couldn’t be better. That is until Armand Jordan arrives on the scene, determined to take it all away from her. A prince in his native Middle Eastern country, Armand is now one of the most successful real estate titans in America. He has no respect for women, treating them as play things, and everyone else with a lack of respect. Armand sets his sighs on buying The Keys and when Lucky point black refuses to sell Armand is stunned. That any women would say no to him is incomprehensible. Armand decides that The Keys will be his, no matter how he has to make this happen. The word is that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” and what happens in Goddess of Vengeance will blow your mind!

When I heard that Jackie Collins latest novel would be part of the Lucky Santangelo series, I have to admit I was excited. As many readers will agree, Lucky is one of my favourite Jackie Collins characters. With her strength, independence and the power she exudes she is an iconic heroine for all women. I have always loved the character of Lucky, and her character in Goddess of Vengeance is no exception. Lucky is empowering to all women around the world with her strong character. There is a quote in Goddess of Vengeance which I believe sums up my love for her character and exactly why she is so relatable, “I’m a woman who took chances every inch of the way. I had to fight for my independence. Believe me, it wasn’t easy.” I hated the character of Armand, he is absolutely vile and does some really horrible acts within the novels, which may shock some readers. Of course the reader is supposed to hate Armand, and Jackie Collins always creates such believable characters for the reader to hate. I also really enjoy the way, that even though this novel is part of a series Jackie Collins manages to mention any important details from previous novels which you need to know about. Do not worry, therefore, if you have not read any or all of the Lucky series as you will understand the storyline without feeling lost. Of course I would recommend you read them all, as the entire series is enjoyable. The storyline is exciting, with twists and turns on every page, which make the novel easy to read while leaving you not wanting to put the book down. Jackie Collins raunchy and glamorous look into the LA and Las Vegas highlife is so exciting and I just adore the way Jackie gives her readers this glimpse into a life we would never normally see. I also adore the US cover of Goddess of Vengence, I think that with it being glossy it exudes the lifestyle of the characters within.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that Lucky seemed to be in the background, rather than the forefront of Goddess of Vengeance. Lucky’s daughter Max was featured much more in this novel than in any of the previous novels in the series. I found that I did not like the character of Max anywhere near as much as I love Lucky. Max is immature and seems to make decisions that make her appear fickle. I understand that she is young, however I do not think that Jackie Collin’s readers will warm to her as much as they do to Lucky. I have also heard that Jackie is planning to put Lucky in a backseat for the next novel in the series and focus more on Max. I hope that if this is the case she manages to make Max a little more likeable and more of a powerful character. I also found a few elements of the storyline a little too similar to Jackie Collin’s previous novel Drop Dead Beautiful and would perhaps have liked to see something a little more original.

Overall, I have to say that Jackie Collins has created another novel that will leave you wondering exactly how much of her novel is based on reality. Jackie has succeeded yet again in what she does best, which is creating truly escapist novels. Goddess Of Vengeance is a novel I could not put down and is filled with family drama, passion, revenge and strong women. I cannot wait to read what else Jackie Collins has in store in the future, whether it is another Lucky novel or not. In fact just so I don’t have to wait quite so long, I may have to go back and read some of her previous novels just to fill the void.






Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: Watching Willow Watts by Talli Roland

Talli Roland   - Watching Willow Watts  

When Was It Released?: 14th September 2011 (e book) and 30th November 2011 (paperback)

 Where Did I Get It From?: Talli Roland was kind enough to send me a copy for review
Who Published It?: Prospera
Number Of Pages:  352 pages



“No one could make you fulfilled and happy except yourself”, is the premise and message behind Talli Roland’s latest novel Watching Willow Watts. In today’s society so many people are desperate to become famous in anyway they can, especially with the introduction of You Tube. Fame, is not all that it is hyped up to be and it is great to see a novel that shows some of the pitfalls and what really happens once the fame takes hold. As soon as I read the synopsis of this novel I knew that I would be hooked and once I received this novel I was excited to get started.

Willow Watts, is a normal girl living in a predictably dull routine. She spends her days working in her dads antique shop and her nights staying in watching TV. Willow lives in a boring village filled with old aged pensioners with the title of Britain’s Ugliest Village. Willow’s life is suddenly turned upside down when a You Tube video of Willow impersonating Marilyn Monroe becomes an overnight sensation after the viewers spot Marilyn’s ghostly image in the video. Willows life and the small town she lives in are thrown into chaos with fans flocking from all over the world to see ‘the new Marilyn. Willow embraces her new identity, gaining weight to achieve Marilyn’s curves and changing her entire look. When Willow’s former love Alex returns to the village she must decide if she wants to focus on fame or revert back to her old self in order to find happiness.

Talli Roland has come up with a individual, unique storyline, which I have not seen done before. I really enjoyed the way she took this quirky idea of someone becoming a You tube sensation and what happens afterwards. I felt that with this storyline Talli was also able to create characters that were relatable and fell into pace with the story. I loved the characters of Dickie, Willow’s father and Bett’s, the Marilyn Monroe fan from America. I especially enjoyed when these two characters were interacting together. I found them extremely likeable and also very funny at times. I hated the character of Jay, he is absolutely vile, doing everything for his own gain and not caring in any way about anyone else. You are expected to hate Jay from the beginning, right through and you will be hoping along the way that someone manages to put him in his place. Willow is also an interesting character who you will feel for throughout the novel. Willow is also very family oriented, which I loved.



My only issue with the novel was that I felt at times as though Willow was a little too naïve. All of us make mistakes in life and make decisions without having all the facts, however I felt as though Willow went into a lot of situations with her eyes closed. I would have liked to see Willow as a little bit of a stronger character. For example Willow falls out with her best friend over Jay and decides to believe what Jay has to say over her best friend, Paula. Willow and Jay have only known each other for a few days, therefore I don’t believe it is realistic for a woman to believe a guy she has just met over her best friend.

Watching Willow Watts is a funny, heart-warming, unique story, that will have leave you unable to put the novel down. I finished Watching Willow Watts is one weekend and did not want it to end. I will now be running to the store to purchase The Hating Game, Talli Roland’s previous novel, in order to read more of her delectable writing. I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a fun unique take on chick lit.











Sunday, September 18, 2011

In My Mailbox

Following on from last weeks video, I have decided to make In My Mailbox a regular feature every Sunday. Please check out my video and find information about all the novels mentioned below:


Wrapped Up In You - Carole Matthews
Breakfast In Bed - Eleanor Moran
Working It Out - Nicola May
What The Nanny Saw - Fionna Neill
The Dark Glamour - Gabriella Pierce



What did you guys get in your mailbox this week?

Winner of Pinch Me

To determine the winner of a copy of Pinch Me by Adena Halpern I assigned numbers to all the entires and chose one at random.

The winner is:

Stephanie

Congratulations!

You have 48 hours to claim your prize. I have also emailed you as well.

Remember you can visit  Adena Halpern at her website

And you can purchase Pinch Me below:
 

Friday, September 16, 2011

New Movie: I Don't Know How She Does It

I enjoy when chick lit books are turned into movies. I enjoy seeing how everyone else views the characters and storyline. I also like to see whether the book has been portrayed in a smiliar way to how I thought it would be. Many times the novel is better than the film version, however occasionally a great film version that comes along that I really enjoy.

The latest chick lit novel to be turned into a movie is I Don't Know How She Does It, based on the novel by Alison Pearson. Starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Pierce Brosnan I Don't Know How She Does It is a comedy centering around Kate Reddy who has to balance her day job working at a finacial management firm with homelife of her husband and two children. Kate is constantly trying to figure out this never ending balancing act, which her best friend and working mother Alison manages on a daily basis and her child phobic junior assitant Morno plans to avoid. Kate wins a new account at work which means she must travel to New York and her husband, Richard, also wins a new job, which means that they are both spreading themselves even thinner than before. Kate's charming new business associate, Jack, doesn't exactly help matters, as he increasingly becomes a source of temptation. Will Kate's marriage survive or will she burn out?

I Dont Know How She Does It is released today (16th September 2011) and I plan on seeing this movie and letting you guys know what I think.

Has anyone been to see the movie yet? Are you excited about it? Leave me a comment and let me know!



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Interview with: Adena Halpern

Adena Halpern is the author of four amazing novels; Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown, The Ten Best Days Of My Life, 29 and her latest Pinch Me. Adena has a Bachelor Degree of Fine Arts in dramatic writing and a Masters of Fine Arts in screenwriting. Adena was born in Philadephia and now resides in Los Angeles with her husband. Two of her novels 29 and Ten Best Days Of My Life have been acquired by Fox and are set to be made into films. I previously reviewed Pinch Me here . I just had the pleasure of interviewing Adena Halpern and here is what she had to say:

Thankyou so much for joining us at Chick Litaholic today. I loved your latest novel Pinch Me. What was your inspiration for the novel?
My inspiration was my husband, plain and simple. Sometimes I honestly wonder how I got so lucky. One day I was in a market I used to frequent when I was single. I suddenly wondered what would I do if I walked outside and everything was different? What if I went through some time warp and my old car was in the parking lot, I still lived in my single apartment and my husband never existed? The idea really freaked me out and I wondered what I would do. I knew I would do anything to get my husband back.

Your novels feature magical and fairytale elements. Why do you choose to incorporate them in your work?
To imagine alternate words or crazy scenarios is much more fun for me to write about than it is to write about real life. I could write a straight story about a woman losing her husband to another woman, but what fun is that?

Are you similar in any way to the lead character Lily?
I think I am much more grounded than Lily. All her life she has been the straight man to Dolly and Selma's craziness. I think I am more like her cousin rose who accepts this long lost cousin coming into her life. She believes her story because of something her grandfather told her. I think I would too.

I love the characters of Dolly and Selma, especially their sense of humor. Are they based on anyone you know, or completly fictional?
The characters of Dolly and Selma are partly based on my parents. My parents were always the kind of people who took problems in their stride. If there were dark days, they didn't look at it as part of life. When a dilema would strike they always took it with a laugh and a shrug, dealt with the problem and moved on. It's the greatest thing I learned from them.

If you ended up in a similar situatuon to Lily, do you think you would have acted in a similar way?
This was something I constantly had to think about while writing PINCH ME. If I woke up one morning and my husband wasn't my husband and my current life wasn't my life, what would I do? I would do everything in my power to get it back to the way it was.

Where would be your dream destination to travel to?
My dream destination would be to travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, circa the mid 70's. My grandparents were alive and healthy. My dad, who passed away last year, was strong, healthy and handsome. My mother would be hosting one of her glamourous dinners for us. I would introduce my husband to my grandparents. My grandmother would gush over him to the point of embarrassment. Maybe my father would show his son-in-law the perfect golf swing. There would be no talk of what is to become of them, only great stories around the table, laughter and of course lots and lots of good food.

If Pinch Me were to be made into a film, who would be your dream actress to be cast as Lily?
There are so many amazing actresses today, Emma Stone, Sandra Bullock, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher, Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas Howard. Any of these women would have my blessing.

I heard that both 29 and The Ten Best Days Of My Life are to be made into films. Do have anymore news on this, that you can tell us about?
I just know that both scripts are currently being written. Both production companies have been so kind with updates and I can't wait to see the finished products.

What do you love most about chick lit?
The thing I love most about chick lit is that it never fails to put me in a good mood. Whenever I go to a different country, I buy up all the chick lit I can find. I've spent hours in bookstores in England, Australia, New Zealand, Italy and Scotland. I love the romance, I love reading about women my age around the world. I love how we all have the same issues. It's truly a passion of mine.

Are you working on a new novel at the moment, and if so can you tell us anything about it?
I am working on a new novel now, but I never talk about it for fear I'll jinx it in some way.

Thankyou so much for taking the time to join us at Chick Litaholic today. We wish you lots of luck with the movies and your latest novel.

If you would like to learn more about Adena Halpern you can visit her website here .

You can also buy her novels below:











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