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Monday, 28 February 2011

Book Review: Sacrifice by S. J. Bolton

Moving to remote Shetland has been unsettling enough for consultant surgeon Tora Hamilton, even before the gruesome discovery she makes one rain-drenched afternoon...
Deep in the peat soil of her field she uncovers the body of a young woman. The heart has been removed, and marks etched into the skin bear an eerie resemblance to carvings Tora has seen in her own cellar.
But as Tora begins to ask questions, terrifying threats start rolling in like the cold island mists...
This is the first book that I have read for The Great Transworld Crime Caper and it's been a brilliant start. S.J. Bolton grabs you and literally does not let go, I just felt that the story got better and better.
Tora Hamilton discovers the body on her land in the first few pages of the book. The gruesome discovery is a shock but she could not have imagined what would happen next. The body which is a young woman has it's heart missing and symbols etched into the back. Tora alerts the police immediately but she cannot leave it alone and begins doing her own investigations. A whole can of worms is opened and Tora believes there are several more bodies buried on Shetland and that the local police, some of her medical colleagues and possibly her own husband are all in on it.
Setting the book on Shetland just adds to the overall atmosphere. The island is steeped in mythology and Tora has to question what is true and what is terrifyingly possible. The island setting also adds to Tora's desperation and isolation. Shetland is tiny and remote, Tora has no where to hide and no one to trust and now plenty of people would be quite happy if she disappeared.
Sacrifice is part thriller, part murder mystery. The pace is relentless, I was completely involved from start to finish. I would highly recommend this book and will definitely be looking up S.J. Bolton's others.

Many thanks to Transworld for sending me a review copy.

Friday, 25 February 2011

New to Dot Scribbles Shelves

Well I haven't done one of these for ages so we have a fair few to get through! I am just going to share the books that have been sent for review recently as publishers have been extremely generous this month and my shelves have some very exciting new additions!


You Are Next by Katie Lief (Ebury Publishing) Detective Karin Schaeffer was a happily married mother until she got too close to catching a serial killer. The press nickname him The Domino Killer because he systematically murders whole families leaving a trail of bloody dominoes as the only clues to his next victim. Having brutally slain Karin's husband and child, he had left her a chilling message written in her daughter's blood: You Are Next. And now the Domino Killer has escaped prison and the police believe he's on his way to find her. But Karin is waiting...

Secret of the Sands by Sara Sheridan (Avon) The year is 1833 and the British Navy are engaged in surveying the coastline of the Arabian Peninsula. Young and ambitious, Lieutenant James Wellstead is determined to use his time in His Majesty's Service as a path ti glory. His plans are thrown into disarray when two of his shipmates go missing while gathering intelligence and Wellstead must mount a daring rescue. Slavery is still rife throughout Arabia. Zena, a headstrong Abyssinian beauty who was torn from her village, is now being offered for sale in the market of Muscat. However, her fortunes change when she finds herself the property of the Lieutenant. She must accompany him on his hazardous mission, little knowing the fate that awaits them.


Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakely-Cartwright and David Leslie Johnson (Atom 10th March) The Blacksmith would marry her. The Woodcutter would run away with her. The werewolf would turn her into one of its own. Valerie's sister was beautiful, kind and sweet. Now she is dead. Henry, the handsome son of the blacksmith, tries to console Valerie, but her wild heart beats fast for another: the outcast woodcutter, Peter, who offers Valerie another life far from home.
After her sister's violent death, Valerie's world begins to spiral out of control. For generations, the Wolf has been kept at bay with a monthly sacrifice. But now no one is safe. When an expert Wolf hunter arrives, the villagers learn that the creature lives among them- and it could be anyone in town. It soon becomes clear that Valerie is the only one who can hear the voice of the creature. The Wolf says she must surrender herself before the blood moon wanes...or everyone she loves will die.

I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan (Atom 10th March) Last summer, fur terrified friends made a desperate pact to conceal a shocking secret. But now, someone has learned the truth, and the horror is starting again. There is an unknown avenger out there who is stalking them in a deadly game. Will he stop at terror- or is he out for revenge?


When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman (Headline, March) This is a book about a brother and a sister. It;s a book about childhood and growing up, friendships and family, triumph and tragedy and everything in between. More than anything, it's a book about love in all it's forms.

Rosebush by Michele Jaffe (Atom 10th March) Jane doesn't remember being hit by a car and left for dead. But as she's convalescing she realises that her friends' stories and her memories of what happened that night aren't adding up. Very soon the only thing she does know is that one of her friends was trying to kill her. One of them still is...

Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin (Bloomsbury, 7th March) Jenna and Jonah are teen celebrities whose on-screen romance is followed by millions on a hit TV show. But it's their off-screen love life that's made them really famous. There's just one problem- they can't stand each other! When the paparazzi blow their cover, Jenna and Jonah have to disappear to weather the media storm. Once off the Hollywood circuit, will they discover that there is more to each other than shiny hair and a winning smile? Can a fauxmance really become a romance?

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman (Bloomsbury 7th March) Everybody says there's a war but I haven't seen it yet. There's a hell of wars going on all the time: Wars. Kids Vs Teachers, Northwell Manor High Vs Leabridge High, Dell Farm Crew Vs Lewsey Hill Crew, Emos Vs Sunshine. Turkey Vs Russia, Arsenal vs Chelsea, Black Vs White, Police Vs Kids, God Vs Allah, Chicken Joe's Vs KFC, Cats Vs Dogs, Aliens Vs Predators.
I haven't seen any of them. You'd know if there was a war because all the windows would be broken and the helicopters would have guns on them. The helicopters don't even have guns, just torchlights. I don't even think there's a war. I haven't seen it. I don't even know what side I'm on. Nobody's told me yet. Vs just means against.

RSVP by Helen Warner (Simon and Schuster, March) Anna's world is rocked when she receives an invitation to her ex Toby's nuptials- Toby was The One, The Love of Her Life, The One That Got Away. Will attending his Big Day finally give her the sense of closure she so desperately craves? Or will it only re-open old wounds?
Clare is Anna's best friend, the person who was there for her when she and Toby split all those years ago. But little does Clare know that Toby's wedding day will also change her own life for  ever.
Ella is a classic femme fatale. She loves men and leaves them without a backward glance. But the one person who's never fallen for her charms is Toby. As he prepares to get hitched, is it too late for a last-ditch attempt to win his heart?
Finally, Rachel is the blushing bride-to-be. This should be the happiest day of her life. So how comes she feels nothing but a terrible sense of foreboding?

Random by Craig Robertson (Simon and Schuster, April 1st) Glasgow is being terrorized by a serial killer the media have nicknamed The Cutter. The murders have left the police baffled. There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason behind the killings; no kind of pattern or motive; an entirely different method of murder each time, and nothing that connects the victims except for the fact that the little fingers of their right hands have been severed.
If DS Rachel Narey could only work out the key to the seemingly random murders, how and why the killer selects his victims, she would be well on her way to catching him. But as the police, the press and the threatening figure from Glasgow's underworld begin to close in on The Cutter, his carefully laid plans threaten to unravel- with horrifying consequences...

So there you go,  I have a fair few to keep me busy this month, lots of crime and thrillers which I am really looking forward to. Let me know if you have read any of them and have any thoughts?

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Book Review: You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning

Sweet, bookish Neve Slater always plays by the rules. And the rule is that fat girls like her don't get guys like gorgeous William, heir to Neve's heart since university. But William's been in LA for three years, and Neve's been slimming down and reinventing herself so that when he returns, he'll fall head over heels in love with the new her.
So she's not that interested in other men, Until her sister points out that if Neve wants William to think she's an experienced love-goddess and not the awkward girl he left behind, then she'd better get some, well, experience.
What Neve needs is someone to show her the ropes, someone like Max. Wicked, shallow, sexy Max. And since he's such a man-slut, and so not Neve's type, she certainly won't fall for him. Because William is the man for her...right?
This book is quite long at 555 pages but it wasn't a problem as I enjoyed each one.
Neve is holding out for William who she met at Oxford University, he has been in LA for the last 3 years and their only contact has been emails and long, long, handwritten letters. However, Neve is convinced that William is 'The One' and so she is doing everything to be ready for his return. William is in for a shock though as Neve is half the woman she was; Neve's weight and her quest to lose it is a huge part of her life. At first I found this aspect of the character a little off-putting but as I learnt more about Neve and the negative impact her weight has had on her life, I began to like and understand her a lot more.
Neve lives in a house converted into flats, she has the top floor, her little sister Celia the bottom floor and then her brother Douglas and his nasty wife Celia have other one. Charlotte is a pretty nasty piece of work; she made Neve's life hell by bullying her about her size at school and she still manages to intimidate her now. Neve's sister Celia is a lovely character, she works for a fashion magazine and she introduces Neve to Max, one of the editors. Max is very much a ladies man and Celia warns her big sister to keep her distance. But it is Max who os the persistent one, following Neve home, trying to charm his way into her pants.
Realising that Max is not going to give up, Neve decides that he could be a good relationship practice before William returns. Ground rules are set; no holding hands, no sex and it will all be over once William is back on British soil. So much to everyone's surprise, Max and Neve embark on a pretend relationship, they have dates, share the same bed but there are no strings attached. Well there shouldn't be but once Neve realises that their time together is coming to an end she begins to wonder if William really is 'The One' and what will life be like without Max?
Sarra Manning has written an excellent book. Neve has bit of the Bridget Jones factor about her in that she is a woman that many female readers will completely identify with. She has aspirations, insecurities, fears and needs; she just didn't bet on Max becoming one of them.
You Don't Have to Tell Me That You Love Me is an absorbing, sexy read. Max and Neve are really well formed characters and I was a bit sad when I got to the last page. This really is a great book and I shall look out for others by Sarra Manning in the future.

Many thanks to Corgi / Transworld for sending me a copy of this book to review, it is available now!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Book Review: Marrying Out of Money by Nicky Schmidt PLUS 5 Kindle copies to be won!!!

Marrying Out of Money follows the life and loves of a rich coffee heiress Lou, who is madly infatuated with the less than erudite, tree-hugging, scruffy-to-the-point-of-smelly Hedge- member of rock band 4BY4. Lou's social-climbing mother decides that enough is enough, and hooks up with a poverty stricken aristocrat to arrange a marriage between Lou and the snotty, outrageously good looking Harry Partington- 40th in line to the throne. Not surprisingly, it's hate on first sight. Still desperately in love with rock star Hedge, but with her beloved father ill and wanting nothing more than to see her married, Lou sets about making herself so repulsive that the aristocrats decide that a future on a derelict council estate is preferable to having her as a daughter-in-law. Of course, nothing goes according to plan, and the coffee heiress finds herself questioning the wisdom of her actions, when she discovers that horrible Harry has a sensitive side after all. 
This book is a lot of fun! I found that I had to completely immerse myself in it as it's pretty unrealistic but it was a nice world to slip into for a few hours.
Lou is heiress to a huge coffee house fortune, while she has the million pound flat and the designer wardrobe, she is not afraid to put in the hours working hard for the family business. She loves and respects her father who created the business from nothing but the relationship with her mother is strained to say the least. Victoria Hubard openly admits to marrying for money and she fails to understand why her daughter feels the need to work rather than living off Daddy's credit card. Victoria was probably my favourite character as she is so ruthless; she has the money and now she wants the prestige that comes with a title hence her matchmaking with Lord Harry.
Lou is completely in love with Hedge who I found really irritating as a character. He is all about saving the planet and is constantly criticising Lou for her lavish lifestyle, however he is not averse to taking Lou's money off her for the many emergencies he seems to have.
Lord Harry is the opposite to Lou, he has the title and the stately home but his family are skint due to his father's dodgy investments. Harry has a reputation as a ladies man so when his mother sets him up with Lou, he is not too pleased about it. Lou does everything she can to put Harry's family off her but when she feels like she is succeeding she begins to have regrets. Is she stubbornly against Harry solely because she doesn't want to give in to her mother? Maybe Hedge isn't right for her and maybe Harry has another side when you remove his playboy facade?
Nicky Schmidt has written a very entertaining book with some larger than life characters. I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it for a light, entertaining read.

The lovely publishers of Marrying out of Money have 5 Kindle copies to offer the readers of Dot Scribbles. Simply leave a comment with you email address in and I shall pick 5 and give your details to the publishers who will send you a gift certificate for the book, good luck!!!


This competition will close at midnight on Sunday 27th February.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Book Review: To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell

When Ellie Kendall loses her husband Jamie in an accident she feels her world has come to an end. But life has to go on and eventually she's ready for a new start- at work, that is. She definitely doesn't need a new man, not while she has a certain secret visitor to keep her company...
Entrepreneur Zack McLaren seems to have it all, but the girl he can't stop thinking about won't give him a second glance. Why can't she pay him the kind of attention she lavishes on Elmo, his time share dog?
Having moved  to an exclusive flat in North London, Ellie becomes friendly with neighbour Roo who's harbouring a secret of her own. Between them, can both girls sort out their lives? Guilt is a powerful emotion, but a lot can happen in a year in Primrose Hill...
Okay, prepare yourselves for a completely gushing review as I LOVED this book! I have read and enjoyed a fair few of Jill Mansell's other books but this one is without doubt my favourite.
Ellie is a great character, she is trying to hold everything together after Jamie's tragic death but she clearly needs a bit of help. Cue Tony Weston, Jamie's dad, who loves Ellie very much and wants her to be happy again more than anything. When he discovers that the flat that she and Jamie shared is in a right mess, he buys a flat in Primrose Hill for Ellie to live in with the excuse that he can use it when he's visiting from LA, where he's a famous actor.
The new flat is the catalyst that Ellie needs, she makes friends with her neighbour Roo who encourages Ellie to make the changes to her life that she so desperately needs to do. The most important one for Ellie is to leave her job where she is tired of receiving pitying glances and the feeling that people are treading on egg shells around her. Roo discovers that Zack McLaren is in need of a new PA and helps Ellie to get an interview. Zack is gorgeous and extremely successful and his old PA makes it clear to Ellie that he normally employs older women as he doesn't want any distractions in the work place. Ellie is very careful not to over step the mark, she even tells Zack that she has a boyfriend when she doesn't just so he doesn't think she's after him. However, as Zack and Ellie spend more time together it is clear that there is a huge connection between them but Zack believes she has a boyfriend and Ellie doesn't want to make things awkward at work plus what would Jamie think about her falling in love with another man?
To the Moon and Back is a brilliant read, the chapters are short and snappy, each one leaving you wanting more. I read this book in one day and I was left with a huge crush on Zack Mclaren. As usual, Jill Mansell provides a really good story with some lovely and believable characters. The plot keeps a steady pace and I was willing Ellie to find the happiness that I felt she deserved.

Many thanks to Headline for sending me a copy of this book to review, To the Moon and Back is published today!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Book Review: Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

Jane Mansfield, a gentleman's daughter in 1813 England, has long wished to escape a life in which career choices are limited to wife or maiden aunt. But awakening one morning in twenty-first-century Los Angeles- in the body of someone called Courtney Stone- is not exactly what she had in mind.
Jane must quickly get to grips with a world in which everyone thinks she is Courtney Stone: a dizzying world of horseless metal carriages, unrestricted clothing, tiny apartments, all manner of flirting and unheard of liberties for womankind. The only thing that Jane appears to have in common with Courtney is a love for the novels of Jane Austen. But are the wise words of her favourite novelist enough to guide her through this bewildering new world? And what is she to make of Courtney's attentive friend Wes, who is as attractive and confusing as the man who broke her heart back home?
As Courtney's romantic entanglements become her own, Jane wonders: would she actually be better off back in Regency England- and will she ever be able to return?
Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict is the parallel book to Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict which I reviewed here. Confessions follows Courtney Stone falling into the life of Jane Mansfield in Regency England and Rude Awakenings is the opposite as we see what happens when Jane Mansfield takes over Courtney Stone's life in the present day. I would urge you to read both books as they are great but you do not need to he read one of them to understand the other if you know what I mean.
As well as adjusting to being somebody completely new, Jane Mansfield also has to deal with all the modern surroundings in her new life. Used to travelling in horse-drawn carriages, Jane is petrified during her first outing in the car. She has no idea what a computer is and marvels at the cupboard in the kitchen that magically keeps the food cool.
Jane's new friends (believing Courtney has concussion) have to fill in the gaps. They explain how she has recently broken off her engagement to Frank as she caught him with her wedding cake designer. They explain how she has a seriously demanding boss with a job she hates but won't leave and also a very annoying mother. The one person who goes out of his way to help Courtney/Jane is Wes; he helps her get her life back on track and more importantly, how to use Google. However, Jane discovers that Wes covered up for Frank's cheating and now she doesn't know what to do. The only man she was beginning to have feelings for appears to be the last person she should trust.
Laurie Viera Rigler has written another highly entertaining book, I think it is a great idea to tell the story from Jane's perspective. This book makes you think twice about all of the home comforts and equality for women that we take for granted by seeing it through the eyes of a woman who previously wouldn't have imagined these things.
This book will appeal to many readers, especially those Jane Austen addicts out there, it's a really lovely read.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy to review, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict is out now.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Book Review: Mum on the Run by Fiona Gibson

The dreaded Mums' race at school sports day- every mother's worst nightmare. Laura Swan hopes to wriggle out of it- but her daughter's not taking 'no' for an answer. Racing against the super-fit mums is bad enough. What Laura hadn't bargained for was spotting her husband Jed, smirking in the sidelines with his delectable colleague Celeste...
Laura decides it's time for drastic action. She steals her son's trainers, drags herself around the local park- and gets a lot more than she bargained for when she finds herself a new running buddy in Danny...
Is Laura falling hopelessly in love? And is it normal for a mother of three to buy saucy lingerie in the supermarket. Mum on the Run will have you cheering Laura on as she desperately tries to rediscover her true self- and her pre-motherhood, wobble-free tum.

Mum on the Run is the first book by Fiona Gibson that I've read and I thought it was great. I loved the relaxed style of writing, it only took me about 4-5 hours to devour the whole book.
Laura Swan has a pretty hectic lifestyle, mum to three young children, with a home and a husband to look after plusher job as a hairdresser to keep on top of. Things come to a head when she is forced into running the mums' race at sport's day, things do not go well and Laura is left red-faced, especially as her husband Jed and his beautiful colleague Celeste made a surprise appearance just as she was reaching the finishing line.
Determined to get fit, Laura joins a slimming club and decides to go running. She meets Danny who is also trying to shift a few pounds; they decide to become running buddies and are soon meeting up two or three times a week. Laura doesn't tell Jed about her new friend though, she's not too sure why as she doesn't feel as though she is doing anything wrong.
Laura's suspicions of Jed and Celeste's relationship grows, she loves her husband but she just has an awful feeling that something isn't quite right. The tension between her and Jed only causes her to spend more time with Danny. Danny who makes her feel so comfortable and interesting. However, Laura cannot ignore the cracks in her marriage forever, but is it too late? Have her and Jed been keeping too many secrets from each other?
I loved Laura's character, to be honest I don't know how you couldn't like her. I don't have any children yet so I couldn't really identify with that aspect of Laura's character but it didn't mean that I found the book any less enjoyable. I think that Fiona Gibson has identified how we often find ourselves stuck in a rut and that we have to have a lot of willpower and determination to get ourselves out of it. As someone who took up running late last year, I really enjoyed this part of the story and was soon laughing out loud as I remembered my first jog around the park.
I highly recommend Mum on the Run as one of those books that is extremely entertaining whilst also lifting your spirits.
Many thanks to the always lovely and generous Charlotte from Harper Collins for sending me a copy to review, Mum on the Run is out now!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Book Review: The Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison

While visiting her grandmother's house, Tanya discovers an unsolved mystery. Fifty years ago, a girl vanished in the woods nearby- a girl Tanya's grandmother will not speak of. Fabian, the caretaker's son, is tormented by the girl's disappearance. His grandfather was the last person to see her alive, and has lived under suspicion ever since. Together, Tanya and Fabian decide to find the truth. But Tanya has her own secret: the ability to see fairies. Can it help them to unravel the mystery? Soon they are facing terrible danger- could the manor's sinister history be about to repeat itself?
To be honest, I was extremely skeptical about this book. I can do vampires and werewolves but fairies seemed a step too far! How wrong I was, I think Michelle Harrison's book will be enjoyed by children and adults for many years to come. Although it is set in the present day, it has an almost timeless feel to it; the reader is completely focused on the events and mysteries that Tanya becomes entangled in a Elvesden Manor.
I particularly liked the character of Tanya; you really feel for her due to her ability to see fairies which causes her no end of troubles. Regardless of what others think, she is an extremely brave and loyal person who is simply trying to do the right thing by those around her.
Tanya's grandmother's house, Elvesden Manor is almost a character itself. It is the house that reveals the unsolved mystery to Tanya and she becomes very aware of it withholding many more secrets. I loved the chapters where Tanya and Fabian explore some of the house's hidden rooms and passages as you have no idea of what they may find.
I really enjoy young adult fiction that isn't afraid to be a little dark. Michelle Harrison includes some very sinister characters in this book and their descriptions are wonderful. I'm so glad that I read The Thirteen Treasures, I will definitely be picking up the other two in the series.

Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy to review.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Book Review:Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

The only thing that Avery Hood can recall about the night her parents dies is that she saw silver- deadly silver, moving inhumanly fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed her parents, she can't and there's nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together.
Then Avery meets the new boy at school. Ben is mysterious and beautiful, and Avery feels a connection with him like nothing she's ever experienced. Ben is also a werewolf, but Avery trusts him- at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash an inhuman silver. And she learns that she's not the only one who can't remember the night her parents died...
This book had me hooked from the very first sentence:
I was covered in blood when the police found me.
Avery Hood was there when her parents were mutilated and murdered but she cannot remember what happened; she does not know who carried out the terrible act.
Avery tries to get on with her life; she is living with her grandmother as her house is still a crime scene. When she returns to school she copes with the stares and whispers but it is the arrival of Ben, the new boy that changes everything. Avery is instantly attracted to him and Ben feels the same way. She discovers that the local legends are true and that werewolves live in the forest where her house was. She knows this because Ben is a werewolf. Avery is very accepting of this but she cannot fail to forget the flash of silver that she saw on the night of her parent's murder, the same silver that she glimpses in Ben's eyes. He does not remember the night either, could he unknowingly be the one who has torn her whole world apart?
Ivy Devlin has written a beautiful love story which will be enjoyed by many a young adult reader. Low Red Moon is also a very convincing murder mystery with these paranormal elements thrown in to the mix.
As I said, the author grabbed me with the first line and simply didn't let go. I felt as though I was aware of something lurking in the woods just waiting to pounce on Avery as it had her parents. The book has a great twist at the end which I had not seen coming at all.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of Low Red Moon to review, it was published on February 7th. 

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Book Review: A Valentine's Kiss by Lucie Hart

At a house party in the South of France, trainee chef Imogen finds herself playing Blind Man's Buff with a host of impossibly handsome men. And then one of them kisses her.
It's the most perfect kiss she's ever experienced in her- frankly romantically disappointing life. But by the time she recovers her wits sufficiently to remove her blindfold her mystery kisser has disappeared.
Could her Prince Charming be one of her fellow chefs, Dimitri or Bastien? Both are clearly interested in her. And then there's the American visitors- Archer and Everett. Only Imogen can't just keep kissing men until she finds the right one- can she?
When this book arrived I was a little disappointed with the cover and I did wonder if it would be any good. Turns out that this book was right up my street! I don't really blog about it much but I love cooking so to have a trainee chef as the main character was brilliant.
Imogen has led quite a sheltered life and  has always been in the shadow of her demanding siblings. She can't believe her luck when she is offered a summer position in the kitchen of Monsieur Boudin's award winning restaurant in Saint-Jean-les-Carris. Imogen and her loyal dog Monty set off to the South of France in search of new experiences.
Monsieur Boudin runs a very tight ship and Imogen wants to impress him as much as he can. Dimitri and Bastien also work in the kitchen and soon make it clear that their interest in Imogen is much more than a professional one.
Imogen makes many friends and Bunny, a lovely and wealthy American asks her to cater for the lavish Valentine's party that she is hosting. It is at this party where Imogen is kissed by the mysterious man. The rest of the book follows Imogen as she tries to discover the kisser's identity. So follows many funny moments and plenty of kissing.
Lucie hart has written a really heart warming story. Whilst I did enjoy Imogen searching for her mysterious admirer; I enjoyed seeing her develop as a person even more. Imogen literally blossoms during her summer away. She can finally be true to herself and follow the career that she is passionate about. All of this gives her the confidence to pursue her admirer so she can find out what will happen next.
A Valentine's Kiss is a really enjoyable book; I didn't fall in love with the cover but what was inside more than made up for it.

Many thanks to Ebury Press for sending me a review copy, the book is out now!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library  it's an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. A witch of impeccable lineage, Diana has exposed herself to a world she has kept at bay for years. Sensing the significance of Diana's discovery, witches, vampires and daemons gather in Oxford, among them vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and in an shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing...


A Discovery of Witches is published by Headline this month. This book has received a lot of hype and was the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair's hottest title and Headline had to fight off 5 other interested publishers. In my humble opinion, the hype is truly deserved; this book is going to appeal to many different readers and would make a fantastic film. 
The book has a great opening:
The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable. To an ordinary historian, it would have looked no different from hundreds of other manuscripts in Oxford's Bodleian Libray, ancient and worn. But I knew there was something odd about it from the moment I collected it. 
After reading these opening lines I was completely hooked and Deborah Harkness held my attention for all 592 pages. 
Diana is a very interesting character; she is descended from two lines of New England witches. Her lineage within the witching world is almost royal yet Diana is doing everything she can to live a life free of magic. She is a respected historian and alchemist at Oxford University and it is during her studies that she calls up Ashmole 782 from the special collections. As a witch, she immediately senses that this ancient alchemical manuscript is bound in magic; she wants nothing more to do with it and sends it back to the depths of the Bodleian. However, the damage has already been done and many creatures descend on Oxford in search of Diana and her power to gain this ancient text.
In A Discovery of Witches there are humans but then there are also demons, witches and vampires living side by side in the world. Matthew Clairmont is one of these vampires, he comes to Oxford in search of Diana however he is keen to protect her rather than prey upon her. 
The relationship between Diana and Matthew is central to the book. I loved this part of the story, considering Matthew is a vampire, he is a very believable and highly desirable character. Their relationship develops throughout the book and it is very interesting as Diana has to come to terms with who she is and the power she possesses before she can completely allow him in.
Diana and Matthew's relationship angers the other creatures and they find themselves in immense danger. Matthew has to do everything he can to protect Diana and their relationship. The story becomes one of desperation and survival as their family and friends are enlisted to help protect them.
Deborah Harkness has written a thrilling book, I was so sad to get to the last page as I just wanted there to be more and more. A Discovery of Witches encompasses historical fiction, romance, mythology, fantasy and suspense. I urge you all to read this fantastic tale. 


Many thanks to Headline for sending me a coy of this book to review. 

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Book Review: To Touch the Stars by Jessica Ruston and COMPETITION!!!!

Renowned for style, glamour and sophistication, Cavalley's creates the most luxurious millinery in the world. For fashionistas and film stars, a hat designed by Violet Cavalley is the ultimate indulgence.
Talented and beautiful, Violet Cavalley has poured her heart and soul into building her multi-million pound business, and raising her three children. It seems that everything she touches turns to gold.
But Violet is not the woman she appears to be. And her adored children conceal secrets of their own. Behind the Cavalley family's gilded facade lies a streak of darkness. Darkness that  now threatens to destroy them all.
I hope that you enjoyed the exclusive extract from the book yesterday. To Touch the Stars is going to be difficult to review as it is jam-packed with secrets. I loved it, there were so many twists and turns provided by the author that I was totally gripped from beginning to end.
It's kind of a modern saga, Violet Cavalley is the matriarch of her family and also a leading figure in the fashion industry. She has a large family and it appears that just as they have secrets from her, she too has secrets from them. Violet is also convinced of the Cavalley Curse which she believes hangs over her family and it is something she believes to be entirely her fault.
To Touch the Stars is a very entertaining read, it is very much a rags to riches story with many dramatic events along the way. I loved the descriptions of the fashion world and how the Cavalley Empire was built, these little details made the story even more believable.
Jessica Ruston has written a very dramatic story and then set it in incredibly glamorous and high-powered surroundings. When you strip all of the glitz away you realise that the Cavalleys are simply a family, but a family with one or two more skeletons in the cupboard than normal. This book keeps up a brilliant pace throughout so be warned that it is extremely difficult to put down.


To Touch the Stars by Jessica Ruston is published today and to celebrate, the lovely people at Headline Review are giving away five signed copies of the book plus one lucky winner will also get a bottle of champagne to enjoy while they are reading! To enter you simply have to answer the question below:


What was the title of Jessica Ruston's first novel?


Please email your answers directly to rosie.gailer@headline.co.uk or you can tweet your answer to @publicitybooks Any answers left in the comment section below this post are not valid, but do please leave me a comment with any thoughts on the book. Good luck!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Exclusive Extract: To Touch the Stars by Jessica Ruston


  I am very pleased to be able to share this exclusive extract with you from To Touch the Stars by Jessica Ruston. It's actually my favourite part from the book! If you come back tomorrow then I will be posting my review plus you will have the chance to enter a competition to win one of the five copies of this book plus one lucky competition entrant will win a bottle of Champagne! If you like your books to have a bit of glamour and scandal then you are going to love this one:
Cavalley’s is renowned for style, glamour and sophistication, providing the ultimate fashion indulgences for film stars and fashionistas.  Violet Cavalley has poured her heart and soul into building her multimillion pound business and raising her three children.  But Violet is not the woman she appears to be.  And her adored children conceal secrets of their own.  Behind the Cavalley family’s gilded fa├žade lies a streak of darkness.  Darkness that now threatens to destroy them all…
Cavalley’s House, Kings Road opened on Monday morning, 12th January 1969.  There was no sign above the shop; there had been no publicity.  Violet hadn’t had time, relying on word of mouth to get out, and it had.  The door knocker was going every few minutes - it was already driving poor Betty mad opening it every time.  She didn’t understand why they couldn’t just ‘leave the blimming door open like every other normal shop.  You do want to sell things, don’t you, Miss Violet?’  But this wasn’t like every other normal shop.  The place was kitted out like a house. The door knocker was all part of it.  You knocked, and waited to be let in.  When you entered, you found yourself in a hallway (Dave had erected a makeshift wall and covered it in wallpaper left over from doing his Mum’s house up) complete with hallway rug, a small side table, and an oversized hat stand made from four normal ones nailed together and  covered with Stax, Violet’s designs.  On the wall, a cross-stitched sampler proclaimed that ‘Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home’.  Turning left, you found yourself in a large room decked out like a typical front room but on acid.  An oversized settee made out of a double bed and the arms and back from an old settee found in a skip nailed on to the base, was covered in throws and embroidered shawls and silk scarves and tasselled pillows; it already had three girls lounging on it, one asleep beneath a crocheted shawl.  Betty was pouring tea from a Portmeiron set and handing it round.  In the corner, the television was playing Coronation Street, and on the wall, a large framed print of the Mad Hatter watched over proceedings.
            Bookshelves held rows of paperbacks gathered from charity shops, and in another corner a man flipped through a stack of records while a gramophone played the Beatles’ White Album.  Towards the back of the building, a small kitchen had been fitted and the cupboards filled with bars of chocolate, boxes of cereal, bags of crisps, tins of spaghetti hoops.  A drinks cabinet held bottles of Advocaat and gin and sherry, and someone was sitting at the small Formica table reading Private Eye. 
            The theme continued throughout the house - in the bedrooms wardrobes lined the walls and became huge dressing up boxes for grown-ups, hats in old-fashioned hat boxes were stacked in piles, on shelves; balanced in teetering towers on hat stands and hung from ribbons in the window.  Girls were stripping off and trying on Kalisto’s clothes and shoes and Stax in front of full-length mirrors that were leaning against the walls, and on the landings. A small box room that had once been used as a storeroom had been cleaned out and painted bright pink - the walls, the ceiling, the floor, and turned into a dressing room, with stools and dressing tables and more mirrors, and bowls full of make-up. Jewellery boxes overflowed with long strands of beads, huge plastic coloured earrings, gobstopper rings.  There were wigs on stands, hairpieces, false eyelashes, lipsticks, eyeliner pencils, scent, even a hairdresser’s blowdryer - the room contained everything a girl could need to transform herself was there, to either buy and take away or to pay to use there.  You could easily walk into Cavalley’s House dressed in your nightie and leave ready for a night on the town - and indeed, after a few weeks, someone did just that.  The bathroom was the same - a version of a typical bathroom but skewed, bigger, brighter.  The tub was filled with bottles of bubble bath, packs of hair colour, body creams.  A second small room on the top floor had been transformed into a psychedelic nursery.  Mini Stax that Violet had ordered a small run of were flying out of the rainbow painted door as hip young parents kitted their kids out in hats to match their own, and mini velvet jackets and shift dresses in lollipop colours completed the look.  The walls were painted with a bright, trippy mural - pink clouds and blue grass and swirling multi-coloured patterns created an entrancing scene.  A huge toybox overflowed with toys and games - toy cars and pretend hairdressing salon sets and rockets.  In here the bookshelves held Flintstones and Jetsons annuals and a line of daleks worked their unseeing way along the mantelpiece.  ‘Thunderbirds are… GO…’ the theme tune blasted from a television set and the curtains were Magic Roundabout print.
At ten o’clock on Monday night, after everyone had gone home and the place had been tidied up after the onslaught of feet that had trampled through it that day, Violet and Kalisto sat at the little table in the kitchen, a bottle of cherry brandy between them.  It was all that was left in the drinks cupboard.  The day had been a roaring success. 
            ‘Fifty-nine, sixty… we’ve taken more than a hundred pounds,’ Violet announced.  ‘Not bad for a day’s work, eh?’
            ‘Not bad?  Sweetpea, it’s fucking marvellous!’ Kalisto threw back his head and laughed.  ‘You know, when you first came to me I didn’t one hundred per cent believe it would work.’
            ‘Why not?’
            He raised an eyebrow.  ‘A shop that looks like a house?  No till, people buying tins of baked beans and face powder and records with their hats and Kauffman originals?  Where the pictures on the walls and the furniture is for sale?’
            ‘OK, I know.  It’s unusual.’
            ‘It’s more than unusual, it’s insane.’
            ‘But it’s worked.’
            Violet jangled the bag of money she was holding at him.  Madame Fournier’s words rang in her ears once more.  ‘Listen to your heart.  Trust your self.’  Well, she had, and it was working.  Against all odds, despite the fact that she never quite believed it would - it was.  The bag of money in her hand told the truth. 
TO TOUCH THE STARS by Jessica Ruston, published by Headline Review in February 2011, £6.99

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Great Transworld Crime Caper

I shall be taking part in The Great Transworld Crime Caper next month and I thought I should let you all know about it in case any of you wanted to join in too. The idea  is to pick three crime books from a list that Transworld have created and then you have to read and review those books by 31st March. I have picked:

1. Sacrifice by J.S. Bolton
2. Birdman by Mo Hayder
3. The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett

Transworld, the lovely people that they are send you the books one by one, so you send them your review of the first book and they will send you the second, easy! If you want to take part then you have until February 14th to register, all you have to do is click here and follow the instructions!

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