Thursday, December 22, 2011

Home For Christmas by Cally Taylor: A Review

Home For Christmas by Cally Taylor

When Was It Released?:  10th November 2011

Where Did I Get It From?: From the publishers in exchange for a review. Thankyou!
Who Published It?: Orion
Number Of Pages: 368 pages

When Christmas time rolls around each year, I love to read as many Christmas chick lit novels as it is physcially possible to do so. After reading and being captivated by Cally Taylor's novel Heaven Can Wait, I knew that Cally's latest novel Home For Christmas would be on the top of my reading pile as soon as I received a copy.

Beth Prince, a twenty-four year old romantic, works in the Picturebox, a charming independant cinema. Beth has a boyfriend she believes is her dream man, theres just one problem, none of her boyfriends have ever told her they love her. Desperate to be told 'I love you' for the first time Beth decides to take matters into her own hands and then wishes she hadn't. With Beth feeling low, bad news arrives in the handsome shape of Matt Jones, the regional director of a chain cinema who is determined to get his hands on the Picturebox.

Home For Christmas is told from two different viewpoints; Beth and Matt's, with each chapter alternating between the two characters. I really enjoyed being able to gain two perspectives on events that unfolded throughtout the novel. Usually in chick lit novels, the male characters feelings and emotions are not portrayed, so this was a refreshing change that I would love to see in more novels. At many points in the novel I did find myself literally laughing out loud. I really enjoy any book that I read to be humourous, even if only in a subtle way. Home For Christmas really excelled with the humour injected into the characters, adding an extra spark to the novel. Cally Taylor's wit is one of the reasons she is such a fantastic author that I will always look out for. The characters were another contributing factor as to why I enjoyed Home For Christmas. Cally Taylor has managed to create characters that I really cared about by really bringing them to life. Beth, while at times being a little naive was caring and extremely likeable. I couldn't help hoping that she would find love and be able to keep her job at The Picture Box cinema. I also really enjoyed reading about Carl, although I detested him as a character, he definatly made certain moments within the novel very entertaining.

I did find that unlike Cally Taylor's previous novel, Heaven Can Wait, Home For Christmas was a little cookie cutter for my tastes. While I, and most chick lit lovers, enjoy a romance story that is neatly wrapped up, I do enjoy a little originality, and in my option that is where this novel lacks. I also would have liked to see a little more of the Christmas theme within the story. While the novel ends at Christmas time, there is very little mention of Christmas for a book entitled Home For Christmas.

Home For Christmas is a very enjoyable, quick and charming read, that I managed to devour in just one sitting. I would reccomend this book to anyone looking for a cozy Christmas read over the holidays. I will be looking out for more of Cally Taylor's novels in the future.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finding Mr Flood by Ciara Geraghty: A Review

Finding Mr Flood by Ciara Geraghty

When Was It Released?:  13th October 2011 (Paperback edition)

Where Did I Get It From?: From the publishers in exchange for a review. Thankyou!
Who Published It?: Hodder and Stoughton
Number Of Pages: 550 pages

Finding Mr Flood is the third novel from Irish author Ciara Geraghty. After reading and devouring her two previous novels, Saving Grace and and Becoming Scarlett, to say I was excited to read Finding Mr Flood would be understatement. While the book is pretty large at 550 pages, which can sometimes be a little off-putting, I delved into the novel almost as soon as I received it.
Thirteen days before Dara Flood was born, her father walked up the road and never came back. Now in her twenties Dara likes structure in her life with her days and nights meticulously planned out. That is until her sister, Angel, gets sick and Dara's life goes into disaray. Unable to find a compatible match for the kidney Angel needs, Dara sets out on a journey to find her father who could be the last hope they have. Along the way to finding her father, Dara uncovers some suprising truths she never expected to unearth.

The plot of Finding Mr Flood, with Angel's illness, made the novel quite a serious one. I was able to completely emphasise with Mrs Flood and Dara's worry and distress over Angel and whether or not she would be able to find a compatible kidney. Ciara Geraghty's writing really drew me in and I became emotionally involved with these character's lives. I found myself genuinely concerned invested in the search for a kidney for Angel and also in the search for Mr Flood. Serious issues, such as illness and parents disappearing and never returning are not often subject matter in chick lit. I enjoyed this refreshing change from the norm and felt it made the novel more realistic, as not everything in life works out and people fall on hard times every day. I also enjoyed the romance aspects within Finding Mr Flood, which are more prominent later on in the book. I felt it progressed naturally, rather than two people seeing each other and automatically falling in love. While, I don't want to give too much away involving any romance, I will say that I felt the characters made an interesting and adorable couple.

Dara, as a character, was someone I found extremely interesting, as she is so different from the average woman in her twenties. She leads a very responsible and serious life, which makes her seem mature beyond her years. I did enjoy seeing her come out of her shell more as the novel progressed. I also liked Angel, Dara's sister, as a character. While she is suffering from a life threatening illness and does feel the strain from this, throughout most of the novel she is upbeat and trying to see the positive in everything. I found her to be very inspiring as a character, while still retaining the worry that anyone with a serious illness would have.

I have to admit, however, that at times I found Finding Mr Flood a little too serious. While I understand that the subject matter of an illness is a serious one, I would have liked to have seen a little humour thrown into the mix in order to stop the story becoming too sombre. Along with this, I did find that with the book being 550 pages long, the plot was a little slow. While, I enjoy getting to know characters and situations in details, there were a couple of moments that I wanted something to happen in order to move the story onwards a little more.

Finding Mr Flood is an interesting, beautifully written story, that I would definatly reccomend to anyone who enjoys their chick lit with a little something extra. While it does not compare to Ciara Geraghty's two previous novels, which had set my standards very high, I did really enjoy reading about the journey Dara and Angel take throughout the story. You won't be forgetting about Finding Mr Flood any time soon.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wrapped Up In You by Carole Matthews: A Review

Wrapped Up In You by Carole Matthews

When Was It Released?:  27th October 2011

Where Did I Get It From?: From publisher in exchange for a review. Thankyou!
Who Published It?: Sphere
Number Of Pages: 440 pages

When the winter months descend on us, the cold weather draws in and the days get darker and darker there is one thing that I look forward to, and that is curling up with a cup of hot chocolate and an inviting Christmas novel. With an abudance of Christmas related novels released each year I always have to try to be selective in which ones I read and Carole Matthews' Wrapped Up In You was one that I just could not pass up. The cover is so gorgeous with the snowflakes and sparkle that I had a hard time not reading this one back in October when it was released.

Janie Johnson, a thirty year old, hairdresser is single and happy that way. All her friends and clients, however think its high time she found herself a man. After a disastrous blind date and finding out that her ex is getting married she realises she needs a change. Janie does the most adventurous thing that she can think of and books a safari trip to Africa. Everyone thinks that she has gone crazy but then while in Africa Janie falls in love with her tour guide, a Massai Warrior named Dominic. With Dominic in exotic Africa and Janie in wintery England how will they keep their relationship alive?

I loved the premise and idea behind Wrapped Up In You. The unique way in which Carole Matthews took on a holiday romance was really enjoyable. What I loved most though was the way in which Carole Matthews took on the often overlooked subject in chick lit of interacial relationships and the issues that are faced within them. Thinking back I seem unable to recall any chick lit novels that focus around interacial relationships in this way (although I may be wrong, my memory does tend to fail me sometimes.) The prejudices and criticisms focused on where so realistic and centered around how many couples still face these problems in society. With the book being set in Africa, I also felt this added a unique element to the story, very few books are set in this destinations. The descriptions were so well done that at times I could almost feel as though I was on safari with Janie. While Carole Matthews focuses on this serious issue, Wrapped Up In You is still a lighthearted, fun read, which I really liked. The humour within Wrapped Up In You had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion.

Janie's character was extremely likeable and while she had her insecurities and flaws, she was still a fun and interesting person to read about. I enjoyed the way in which her character evolved along with the story becoming more confident and sure of herself. Even though Janie was a little vunerable and naive I was still routing for her to find love and have her happy ending throughout. I loved Janie's cat, Archie too, he was such a hilarious animal, and his interactions with Dominic were interesting to read about. My favourite character, however had to be Dominic. He was such a quirky, refreshing, addition to the story. I was enthralled with the way in which he has to adapt to life in England and the different cultures from what he was used to in Africa. While, I did not like the way in which Janie's friends treat Dominic, I did feel that it was a true representation of how there are still prejudices in today's soceity of interacial relationships.

Overall, I enjoyed Wrapped Up In You, finding it to be a unique, fun and cozy.  My only issue with Wrapped Up In You, was that the ending seemed a little too much of a fairytale ending for my liking. While I enjoy a happy ending, I felt that all the issues within the story were all of sudden fixed very easily. This did not, however, effect my enjoyable of Wrapped Up In You. The romance aspects within the story were so beautifully written and enrapturing that I flew through the book. I would definatly recommened Wrapped Up In You as a must read for this time of year.

Build A Man by Talli Roland: A Review

Build A Man by Talli Roland

When Was It Released?:  5th November 2011

Where Did I Get It From?: From Talli in exchange for a review. Thankyou! 
Who Published It?: Self Published  
Number Of Pages: 352pages

After reading and falling in love with Watching Willow Watts and The Hating Game by Talli Roland, earlier this year, I was on tenter hooks awaiting the release of her next book. Luckily I did not have to wait long before Build A Man was published in Novemeber. As soon as I recieved my copy, I could not resisit making time especially to get started on reading it. I am still in awe as to how Talli Roland has been able to release three books this year, all at such a high standard of writing, and of all three I have to admit that Build A Man is my new favourite.

Build A Man follows the life of Serenity Holland, an American living in London, working as a receptionist to the rich and self obsessed clients at a plastic surgery clinic. Her real dream, however is to become a journalist, and she puts all her effort into pitching magazines with ideas in the hope of getting her work published. Her luck might just be changing, however, when she meets Jeremey Ritchie at the cosmetic surgery clinic, who is determined to make himself over from head to toe in order to become Britain's Most Eligable Bachelor. Serenity cannot resisit using Jeremey's story as a pitch to one of the top tabloid's, a story the editor just can't refuse. Serenity is determined to make her column a success, by going under cover to get access to every part of Jeremey's life. All goes wrong, however when her editor makes Serenity cover all the gory details of the surgery and Serenity must decide how far she is really willing to go for her dreams to come true.

I was enraptured by Build A Man from the very first page and could not put it down until I had finished the last page. The writing flowed so well that even if I had wanted to stop I don't think I would have been able to. The concept, as with all Talli Roland's novels, was so unique and different from the usual chick lit novels. I loved the idea of Build A Man and the quirky little elements that were added along the way. You can always count on Talli to bring a creative twist to her books. I would love to be inside her head for just one day to see how she comes up with all her ideas. I also enjoyed the message and the moral dilema behind the story in Build A Man, with Serenity using her professional position as the cosemtic surgery clinic in order to gain juicy details for her column. Then later on in the story Serenity's conscience coming into play with whether or not she should be doing that or not.

In terms of characters, I love Serenity. While I was reading Build A Man I was constantly wishing Serenity was a real person so that I could become friends with her. She was so fun, with so much life and energy, even when she was in a bad situation she still managed to pull herself out. I found her such a unique, interesting character. Even though she may have made some bad and morally wrong decisions, she still has a conscience and never set out to intentionally hurt anyone. I also liked the character of Jeremey too, enjoying the way in which his character gave a glimpse into male insecurities, which is not often present in chick lit. The way in which he has also been hurt in past relationships, made him seem genuine, if a little guarded.

Overall, I really loved Build A Man. I just did not want this novel to end. It was such a humourous, unique book that I became so personally involved in that at times I forgot the characters weren't real. I am so excited to have found out that Talli is currently writing a sequel to Build A Man, which will explore Serenity and Jeremey's relationship. The sequel, Construct A Couple is set for release next year (just hurry up and write it Talli, I don't think I can wait that long!).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Unscripted by Natalie Aaron and Marla Schwartz: A Review

Unscripted by Natalie Aaron and Marla Schwartz

When Was It Released?:  28th November 2011

Where Did I Get It From?: From the authors in exchange for a review. Thankyou
Who Published It?: Carina Press

Have you ever wanted to know what really goes on behind the scenes of your favourite reality television show? I know that I have always wanted to find out the gossip and dirt on what really goes happens and Unscripted by Natalie Aaron and Marla Schwartz defiantly takes you there. Add a splash of romance and some chick lit and you have a novel that you will fly through.

As a producer on a reality dating show, Abby Edwards knows that true love is a myth. When her screenwriter ex makes a hit movie based on their relationship, Abby's faults are projected on screens across the country. Suddenly the fact that her job depends on orchestrating hot tub hook-ups doesn't seem so impressive. Her friends rally to help. Zoë thinks she needs to meet a guy. Stephanie suggests an attitude adjustment. Nancy wants her to get in touch with her inner Goddess. Abby knows they mean well, but she prefers to focus on her work. Unfortunately, she's already embarrassed herself in front of her new boss, Will Harper, who she would find totally crush-worthy if he weren't so irritating.

Natalie Aaron and Marla Schwartz have both worked in reality television before, which really added an extra layer to Unscripted. I loved the way in which they were able to weave some extreme and hilarious goings on behind the scenes into their story. I was constantly left wondering whether these happenings were entirely made up or whether Natalie and Marla brought these in from first hand experience. With Unscripted being written by two different authors I have to admit I was a little sceptical that it would be obvious that which author had written which parts. Well my worries were sent packing, I found that the writing flowed smoothly with no interruptions. Unless you knew beforehand, there is no tell tale signs that Unscripted has been written by two different authors. While the pace of Unscripted was a little slow to begin with, once I got started on the story I found it very hard to put down. I kept flying through the pages, ready to find out what the reality stars were going to get up to next. I did, however, find the ending to be a little abrupt. I got to the last few pages and was really beginning to wonder how Natalie and Marla were going to wrap up the story in that limited amount of space. While I don’t want to give anything away, I will say that I would have liked the ending to progress a little more.

As a character, I really connected with Abbey finding her to be smart and funny, which are two qualities I enjoy a main character to have. I loved in way in which we see her at her lows and her highs, giving a full range of her character. I really enjoyed her interaction with her best friend, ,they go through some rough times in their friendship and I liked the way it was handled. I was constantly torn between thinking that they shouldn’t be friends anymore to wanting them to work through their differences. Something that anyone who has ever had an argument with a close friend can relate to. As well as liking Abbey, I also enjoyed reading about the secondary characters as well, finding almost all of them to be intriguing. My only issue, in terms of characters, was with the romance aspect between Abbey and her co-worker Will. I just felt that there was not enough of it and would have loved to see this develop more. While it is underlying throughout most of the novel, I really would have liked to see more of it. I would also have enjoyed seeing more of Will as a character as even at the end of the novel, I felt I knew very little about him.

Overall. I did enjoy Unscripted, finding it to be unique. In the romance and chick lit genre all too often some novels become predictable and similar, I really enjoyed how Unscripted took a different route into an area that has had very little exploration in this genre. Unscripted is a light, entertaining, charming read that will have you laughing out loud from beginning to end. If you are looking for a twist on a romance or chick lit novel I would defiantly recommend Unscripted.

Winner: 100 Follower Giveaway

My 100 follower giveaway to win the fantastic prize of either a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card ended on Monday. I was astounded by the number of enteries, and want to thank everyone so much for their support. I have now picked a winner a random.

The Winner Is:

Tara V

Congratulations to our lucky winner Tara, who I have also emailed so that she can claim her prize. Thankyou so much to everyone who entered the giveaway for your support of Chick Litaholic. I will be bringing you lots of giveaways in the future. Please stayed tuned for the latest giveaway, that you will not want to miss, which will be announced on Monday.

Waiting On Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that and looks upcoming releases that we cant wait to get our hands on.

This week's pre-publication I really can't wait to read is:

The Bungalow by Sara Jio (27th December 2011)

In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.

How awesome does this book sound?  The cover is so beautiful and the destination of Bora Bora makes me want to hop on a plane and head off to a tropical destination. On top of that this is a book by Sarah Jio, I don't think that needs any more explanation.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book News: Ali McNamara and Breakfast

When Ali McNamara's debut novel From Notting Hill With Love..... Actually was released I just had to buy it and I fell in the love the story. When I heard that Ali Mcnamara had a second novel coming out entitled Breakfast With Darcy, I just could not wait to get my hands on a copy. After all how many novels do you read where the main character inherits a small island.

When Darcy McCall loses her beloved Aunt Molly, she doesn’t expect any sort of inheritance - let alone a small island! Located off the west coast of Ireland, Tara hasn’t been lived on for years, but according to Molly’s will Darcy must stay there for twelve months in order to fully inherit. It’s a big shock. And she’s even more shocked to hear she needs to persuade a village full of people to settle there, too. Darcy must leave behind her independent city life and swap stylish heels for muddy wellies. Between sorting everything from the plumbing to the pub, she meets confident, charming Conor and sensible, stubborn Dermot - but who will make her feel really at home?

In the run up to the publication date of Breakfast At Darcys, which is released on 24th November 2011, Ali Mcnamara has been running an interesting and unique feature on her website. Ali was set with the task of eating 30 different breakfasts in the 30 days before the publication date. What a fantastic idea, after all I know myself I always struggle with variety at breakfast time, and afterall the task fits in nicely with the title of the book. You can check out what Ali has been eating every day on her website:

You can also check out her journey to publication of her first novel From Notting Hill With Love......Actually below:

Secret Obsession by Kimberla Lawson Roby: A Review

Secret Obsession by Kimberla Lawson Roby

When Was It Released?:  6th September 2011

Where Did I Get It From?: From the publishers in exchange for a review 
Who Published It?: Grand Central
Number Of Pages: 175 pages

Have you ever thought your best friends boyfriend was cute? I'm sure most of us have found this to be the case but we would never take things any further than that. Well, how about taking it one step further and becoming obsessed with your sisters husband. Afterall thats what happens in Secret Obsession, Paige falls for her sister, Camille's husband.

Paige Donahue has always lived in her sister Camille's shadow. As children, Camille had the grades, the friends, and their parents' love, while Paige was left with hand-me-downs and criticism. Now as adults, Camille lives an idyllic life with her husband, Pierce, and her two perfect children in a beautiful home, while Paige is stuck in a small condo with bills she can't afford to pay. But no more. With seeds of doubt planted in both Camille's and Pierce's minds, Paige's plan to steal her brother-in law starts to work. But when he reveals his decision to make his marriage work, a desperate Paige moves from envy to madness. What results from her dangerous scheme is something no one could have imagined.

My first thought when I heard about Secret Obsession was that it is based around such an interesting concept. I have read a lots of books where there is cheating involved but never have a read a book where one of the characters becomes so obsessed with her sisters husband that she tries to steal him for herself. I really thought this was a great premise, and looks at the 'bad' side of relationships. Secret Obsession is a short read, that is fast paced throughout. The plot moves quickly and I kept turning the pages desperate to know what extremes Paige would go to next and exactly what was going to happen. There is a scene at the beginning of the book that made me very uncomfortable reading it, however if you can past it the scene really sets the tone of just how far Paige is willing to go to get what she wants. I have to admit that I did not enjoy the epilogue. I thought that after such a real, hard hitting, emotional storyline the epilogue tied things up too perfectly. I would have liked to see things end slightly differently to keep with the overall tone of the book.

In terms of characters, I really disliked Paige finding her to be extremely self centered with very few morals. Paige is a character you are expected to hate and Kimberla Lawson Roby wrote her this way for a reason. I also did not particularly like Pierce either, as he commits actions later on in the novel that are out of line. The only character I did like on the whole was Camille, who is Paige's sister. I found her to be genuine, generous and caring, always looking out for her sister and everyone around her. I was really routing for Camille throughout the book and was hoping that she would come out of the sitaution relatively unscathed.

Some of you may be put off by the idea of someone going after her sister's husband, after all it is a pretty twisted sitaution. All I can say is that, yes it is a pretty extreme idea, but cheating happens everyday, and while I would never condone that, it can make for very real and emotional reading. If you can get past the concept of Secret Obsession then I would definatly recommend this book to you. It was a really enjoyable, fast paced read that I devoured all in one go.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sandra D Bricker: Interview

Sandra D Bricker the author of the Emma Rae Creation series, including Always The Wedding Planner Never The Bride (you can read my review here ). Sandra writes hilarious womens fiction for the inspirational market. Thankyou to Sandra D Bricker and her publishers at Abingdon Press for proving this interview. To find out more about Sandra you can visit her website here
Q&A With Sandra D Bricker

1. How did you decide on a wedding destination hotel as the setting for your books?
As a former publicist, a lot of event planning went into that job. I used to wish all the time that there were more venues that offered everything in the same place and that led me to the idea of one location that offered everything from engagement party through honeymoon....and The Tanglewood was born!

2. How did you "meet" the character of Sherilyn?
I looked in the mirror. LOL. Well, then I squinted my eyes and made her a natural redhead with awesome features! Sherilyn is very much a reflection of myself. She battles a weight problem, she's uber-organized to the point that she makes people around her a little crazy, and she has a wilder side that she has worked very hard to divert.

3. Is there any part of your personality in Sherilyn or the other characters?
I think there's a little piece of me in all my characters. From the first book, Emma was a diabetic with a penchant for cake [Check!] In The Big 5-OH!, Olivia was an ovarian cancer survivor in search of what comes next after an experience like that [Check!] Sherilyn, of course [Check! and Check!]

4. While doing the research for the book, did you come across any interesting stories of weddings gone awry?
I did! A disappointing wedding, I have come to believe, is the most traumatic thing a bride can experience. She's been building up to that one moment and that one day, often since childhood. I can across several stories that made me cringe, and even cry. One bride with an outdoor wedding wasn't just rained out, it was a monsoon! Another bride I read about, broke the heel of her SIX INCH shoes and fell into her cake, before they had even cut it. Like any other carefully planned event, a wedding is pretty likely to have something go wrong. But sometimes things go "wronger" than others.

5. Do you think you would make a good wedding planner?
I think I would. I used to enjoy that part of my job as a publicist. My clients were all actors, and they had their fan club gatherings and pet charity fundraisers, all of which required event planning skills. But on occasion, I've been asked by my less-organized friends to help out with planning their weddings, and it has been a real kick for me. In fact, my friend Dianne (the most UN-romantic or ceremonial person I know!) told me her and her fiance had decided to go downtown that week to get married at the courthouse. "Dianne", I objected. "You can NOT call and tell your friend the romance writer something like that!" A month later, they went to St. Augustine and were married in a beautiful wedding destination planned by ME.

6. What type of environment is the best for your writing?
I write best with a large block of time (no less than four hours) to be alone and play my inspiration music and really get into my story. I usually have a cold bottle of water, a cup of coffee or tea, or even soda nearby, and a bowl of munchies, like nuts or pretzels nearby.

7. What do you hope readers will take from your stories?
Before I turn it in to the publisher, I pray over every manuscript I complete and ask that God's hand would be upon it, and that every person who reads what I have written would be blessed in some way and drawn closer to Him.

8. What's next for you?
I have just finished the third book in the Emma Creation series (Always The Designer Never The Bride) and I'm about to start on book four, the final one in the series (Always The Baker FINALLY The Bride). I'm really excited about the opportunity to give Emma and Jackson their happily-ever-after ending at last. Emma's been a good friend to me after all! I want to see her blessed and happy.

Always The Wedding Planner Never The Bride by Sandra D Bricker: A Review

Always The Wedding Planner Never The Bride by Sandra D Bricker

When Was It Released?: 

1st October 2011
Where Did I Get It From?:

From the publishers for review.
Who Published It?:

Abingdon Press
Number Of Pages:

320 pages

Working in the wedding industry, I’m just a little bit in love with all things wedding and that includes books about weddings. When I heard about the novel Always The Wedding Planner Never The Bride by Sandra D Bricker I just knew that I had to read it. Always The Wedding Planner Never The Bride is the second book in the Emma Rae Creations series with Always The Baker Never The Bride being the first book. After all what could be better than chick lit with weddings and wedding planning? Not much in my eyes, which is why I was so excited to get started.

Sherilyn Caine has left Chicago behind to marry Andrew Drummond IV, an Atlanta native with a family name that tops all the social registers. Landing the job as The Tanglewood’s wedding planner is a piece of cake for someone with a Type A personality; she’s the perfect fit for a wedding destination hotel known for its attention to even the tiniest details. But when everything else is going along swimmingly, why are her own wedding plans drowning right before her eyes? One way or the other, Sherilyn is determined to make this wedding work—until the latest development threatens to call the whole thing off. Is it possible that Sherilyn is allergic to her fiance?

Always The Wedding Planner Never The Bride was a really fun read with plenty of Southern charm thrown in. I did find the pace to be a little slow to begin with, finding it a little hard to get into the story to begin with. Sandra D Bricker’s humour was spot on throughout and I laughed out loud multiple times while reading the book. I really enjoyed all the wedding elements involved and loved having a real insight into the wedding planning world. In particular I love the little titbits of wedding planner advice and recipes that were added in at the end of chapters. The love story involved between Sherilyn and Andy was really sweet, yet realistic, with both of them having doubts at times which I could defiantly relate to.

I really liked the characters within Always The Wedding Planner Never The Bride in particular Emma and her Southern charm. I also liked Sherilyn finding her to be hilarious, relatable and caring. Her self esteem issues made me really feel for Sherilyn and her doubts over the wedding again make her very relatable. I found myself wishing throughout that these characters were real so I could make friends with them. One word of warning, however Always The Wedding Planner Never The Bride has a lot of religious references. While I do not mind some elements of religion in the novels that I read I did find this got a little overwhelming. There were many parts of the novel where God was mentioned multiple times as well as praying. While I did not feel as though religion was being pushed down my throat I did find there were too many references for my tastes.

Overall I really enjoyed Always The Wedding Planner Never The Bride finding it to be entertaining, hilarious and it had a range of characters that I loved. If you are looking for a great story with lots of wedding fun thrown in then this is defiantly the book for you. I would highly recommend Always The Wedding Planner Never The Bride and I cannot read to the next book in the Emma Rae series.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top Ten: Books I Read Outside Of My Comfort Zone

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

This week I am focusing on the Top Ten Books I read that were outside of my comfort zone. This one is difficult for me as I read a lot of different genres, however, these books are ones that were not in my comfort zone at the time I read them:

1. City Of Bones by Cassandra Clare - Now I have a confession - before reading City Of Bones, I had never read a book that contained Vampires, Werewolves, Demons etc. No, not even Twilight (I still havent read or watched Twilight!) I was under the impression that I really wouldn't enjoy a book with any of the aforementioned involved. I have no idea where that preconception came from but it kept me away from many books for many years. Until I got talking to people in theYA book community read City Of Bones and realised, actually, I do want to read more Supernatural books.

2. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa - Do I even need to explain this one?! This was the book that sparked my slight, ok maybe big, obsession with Fae. It was with very first book I had read since I was a very small child that featured Fae in any shape or form. I really thought this type of book wouldn't be for me, until I heard so many great things about it from the book blogging community. It was also the very first YA book I ever read!

3. Azincourt by Bernard Cornwell - My dad leant this one to me, after I ended up wanting to read and having nothing to read. This was years ago before I started to collect books and only went to the library for books. I really thought that this book would be one word; boring and that it would be a book only for guys with all the historical references. Boy, was I wrong, I loved this one and have read many other Bernard Cornwell novels since.

4. Envy by Gregg Olsen - I don't usually read crime novels. In fact I hardly ever read crime novels. Perhaps it is because my mum reads ONLY crime novels, where at least one character ends up murdered. After reading a couple of her novels and being scared out of my mind, when I was younger, I stayed clear of crime novels. That is until I read Envy, which I have to admit I really enjoyed.

5. Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake- I really dislike horror. You can call me a wuss if you want, thats fine by me. I just hate to be scared and I really don't like gore. I refuse to watch horror movies, and would rather give up all my books than ever watch Saw. Yes, thats how much I hate horror. So, I tend to stay away from horror books as well, that is until this Halloween when I read Anna Dressed In Blood and LOVED it.

6. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown - Angels and Demon's involved pretty much everything that I tend not to read about in a book - religious aspects, Science, crime and so much more. With all the hype around this book and pretty much everyone else I knew reading it I decided to give it a shot. You know what? - I actually enjoyed it.

7. Birthmarked by Caragh M OBrien - Birthmarked was the very first Dystopian novel I ever read. Why? Well I just did not think Dystopian would be for me, afterall I have always prefered more 'real life novels'. Read this one and LOVED it. Hmmm perhaps I need to stop having preconceievd notions about genres and novels. I think I need to learn my lesson that whenever I think I won't like something really it means that I will. This book definatly got me into reading more Dystopian novels.

8. Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan - I tend not to read much Sci-Fi, in fact I never read Sci-Fi. Although, another confession, I do enjoy an occasional episode of Star Trek Enterprise. Yet Sci-Fi books had never really appealed to my reading tastes. That is until I read Glow and really enjoyed it. While I doubt I will read much more Sci Fi in the future, except of course the next book in the series, this was an fantastic change from my usual reading genres.

9. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl - Before reading Beuatiful Creatures I had not read a witch book since my childhood when I loved The Worst Witch books. Since then, I put Witch books aside and didn't think twice. That is until I stumbled across the Caster Chronicles series and realised that you are never too old to enjoy a well written book about Wicthes.

10. Mein Kampft by Adolf Hitler - I know you are double checking to make sure you saw the title that you think you did. Yes, I read Hitler's 'biography', and no this is not because I like Hitler, more because I studied Nazi Germany at school and did some extra reading around the subject. To say one thing about the book would be that it was interesting. This was outside my comfort zone for the obvious reasons but also because I tend not to read very much Non-Fiction.

What books have you read that are outside your comfort zone?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Book News: Miranda Dickinson

Now I may have been living under a rock to only just have come across this, but I have recently become aware of Miranda Dickinson's vlogs. I'm a big fan of Miranda Dickinson's novels Fairytale Of New York and Welcome To My World and I am eagerly anticipating her third novel It Started With A Kiss which is released on 10th November 2011. Every week Miranda has been making video posts about the process of publishing It Started With A Kiss and the journey that she goes on. It's a fantastic insight into the world of writing a novel, publishing a novel and what happens after the book hits the shelves.

If you want to check Miranda's Vlog's out, then head over to her blog and you can catch up with all the goings on:

To keep you going in the meantime while you are eagerly awaiting the release of It Started With A Kiss, here is the book trailer:

Want to pre-order It Started With A Kiss?

Everything We Ever Wanted by Sara Shepard: A Review

Everything We Ever Wanted by Sara Shepard

When Was It Released?:  
11th October 2011
Where Did I Get It From?:

From the publishers for review. 

Who Published It?:
 Harper Collins
Number Of Pages:

Now, before I begin, I have a confession to make. It's a confession that may shock some of you. I have to admit that before reading Everything We Ever Wanted I had never read a Sara Shepard novel. Before you all start throwing things at me, I promise that I will be reading her others novels, especially her Pretty Little Liars series. So, therefore as soon as I had the opportunity to review Everything We Ever Wanted I jumped at the chance. After all I just had to see for myself the reasons why everyone is so in love with her novels.

A late-night phone call on a Sunday evening rarely brings good news. So when Sylvie, a recently-widowed mother of two, receives a call from the head teacher of the school she's on the board of, she knows it won't be something she wants to hear. The school was founded by her grandfather, and she's inherited everything he strived to build up - a reputation, a heritage, the school and the grand old family house. And with this inheritance comes responsibility.So when her son Scott is whispered to be involved in a scandal that led to the death of one of the boys he coaches at the school, it throws the family into chaos: Sylvie has to decide between her loyalty to the school that has been part of her family legacy for years and her son who she feels wants nothing to do with her. She starts spying on the dead boy's father, making an unlikely connection.

The first half of Everything We Ever Wanted was very slow moving in terms of plot, as not a lot seems to happen. This part of the book seems to focus more on the characters themselves than what is happening within the story. I found this meant it was a little difficult to get into the novel to begin with. In the second part of the novel the pace does move a little quicker with changes happening within each of the characters lives. While the pace is relatively slow, I did find the writing to be beautiful. The descriptions really brought the story to life and the writing really made me want to read more.

The characters within Everything We Ever Wanted experience a wide range of emotions that as a reader I was swept along with and able to feel with each character. Sylvie, Joanna, Charles and Scott are each going through inner turmoil for different reasons, and this added real depth to each character. While I did want to find out what happened to each characters life I did think that it was very difficult to relate to and actually like any of the characters. Sylvie in particular seemed a little cold and self centered at times, which lead me to dislike her until late on in the novel. I did enjoy the way Sara Shepard is able to dig into the depths of each character and really get into how everyone deals with their roles as, mother, wife, son etc.

Overall I did enjoy Everything We Ever Wanted finding the book to be brutally honest, emotional and beautifully written. While the novel is more of a look at the characters themselves than having much of a plot it was still very entertaining. I would recommend you try this novel if you enjoy Sara Shepard's previous novels. I still cannot wait to try Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Blog Tour - The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton Review

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

When Was It Released?: 27th September 2011
Where Did I Get It From?: As part of a blog tour from Jen Big Heart 
Who Published It?:  Tor 
Number Of Pages: 352 pages

Ever since reading The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa I have developed an interest, that perhaps borders slightly on obsession, about Fae. As soon as I became aware of The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton a few months ago I knew that this was a book that I needed to get my hands on. I mean after all what could be better than a mix of historical fiction with fae? Not much in my eyes! 

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. 

The Faerie ring is a novel where there is so much involved, you never for one second want to put the book down. Take a mix of enchanting history, beautiful descriptions, a love story and action and adventure and you end up with a book that has something for everyone. The plot was an excellent spin on Fae, which I really enjoyed, and was definatly something that I had not seen before. I particularly loved the way in which historical aspects were added to the novel, as this really enriched the story. The descriptions were done so beautifully that at times I felt I really could have been in London during this time. I almost felt as though there was an Oliver Twist aspect to this story which really made me feel for the characters. The pace of The Faerie Ring is fast and action packed, sweeping you away with thedrama and leaving you wanting to find exactly what is going to happen. I also really enjoyed the romance that is injected into the storyline. While the romance aspect is never at the forefront of the novel it still adds extra depth and is really interesting to read about.  

In terms of characters; I loved Tiki. I found her to be compassionate and generous, looking out for everyone else over herself, which made her really likeable. I really liked all the other orphans she lives with, finding myself feeling for them all. The interaction between all of them was really enjoyable to read, while being humourous at times. Reiker is definatly an interesting character, as there is a cloud of mystery over exactly who he is and what role he plays. I really enjoyed how his character evolved throughout the novel.  

Overall, I really enjoyed The Faerie Ring. I was on the edge of my seat wondering exactly what was going to happen. Who really is Reiker? and What is the significance of the Faerie Ring? This is an enchanting debut novel that I was unable to put down from beginning to end. I recently became aware that this will continue on  as a series and I cannot wait for the next book to be released.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Looking For Leon by Shirley Benton: A Review

Looking For Leon by Shirley Benton

When Was It Released?:  26th January 2011
Where Did I Get It From?: From the author in exchange for a review. Thankyou Shirley 

Who Published It?: Poolbeg
Number Of Pages: 374 pages

Looking For Leon is Shirley Benton's debut novel, which I have been excited about reading ever since I first heard about the novel. After reading a large amount of paranormal and horror novels over Halloween, I was more than ready to delve into a chick lit book and Looking For Leon was the one calling to me the most. The premise of going across the world to find someone you have feelings for really had me intrigued and the first line "There I was on the front page, flashing my knickers" had me instantly hooked.

Andie hadn’t gambled on meeting the love of her life on a holiday in Las Vegas but when she meets Leon, love suddenly seems like a bet she can win. That is, until the wheel of fortune steps in and separates them during a fire drill. With next to no info on Leon, Andie finds it impossible to track him down despite staging a series of publicity stunts to get the media in on the act. Back in Ireland, journalist Andie begins to write a regular newspaper column about her search. Readers . But does Leon want to be found?

When I first read the synopsis of Looking For Leon I was instantly drawn in and once I started reading the idea of the novel was just as good as I thought it would be. I really love when a chick lit book is able to have some element that is unique and Shirely Benton pulled this off perfectly. After all who of us hasnt daydreamed about running off halfway around the world to find someone we love, even if only hypothetically? I find this to be such a romantic and at the same time fun notion. The pace in the beginning and end are fast and I was completly swept away in the plot. While the middle does slow down a little I still enjoyed it. I liked how as the pace slowed we were able to see Andie's character grow as well as her relationship with another character develop.  My absolute favourite element of Looking For Leon was the humour that Shirley Benton injected into the novel as well as into the character of Andie. I found myself laughing on more than one occasion, which I think left a few of my fellow travellers on the bus wondering if I was perhaps slightly crazy but I was so involved in the novel that I didn't even care.

I fell in love with the character of Andie, even though she is flawed. I found her to be likeable, funny, confident and able to make fun of herself. Her flaws really bring her to life, after all who doesn't have flaws, no matter how well we may keep them hidden? I like my characters to have some roughness to them rather than being seemingly perfect. I also really liked Colm, the camera man, especially his quirky penchant for biscuits and his love of the 70's, which really made him unique. There are lots of minor characters within Looking For Leon whom I also really enjoyed reading about, including Philppe and Isolde. Every character no matter how small a role they played still made an impact on me as a reader.

What I loved most about Looking For Leon though, was the twist and the events that played out towards the end of the novel. While I don't want to give too much away, I will say that I definatly did not see the twist coming. It completly engulfed me with emotions and I could not read the last few pages fast enough in order to find out what happens. Overall, I loved Looking For Leon and would definatly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fun, exciting chick lit book. I cannot wait to read more from Shirley in the future

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