A new month. We’re already reaching the end of the first week of February. How is that possible?!
There are some wonderful authors releasing books this month and I wanted to share a few of the ones I am looking forward to getting my hands on.
Norse Mythology is the latest release by Neil Gaiman and it sounds amazing. It’s released on 7th February by Bloomsbury.
I am fairly new to Neil’s books (although I loved Stardust when it was released as a movie.)
I am also interested in the subject matter of this book.
The norse myths are woven into our story telling. Neil Gaiman reaches back through time to the original source stories. Norse mythology is a thrilling and vivid rendition of the great norse tales; Ragnarok, Twilight of the Gods, Thor, Loki, Odin and Freya. These are all irresistible in Neil’s latest book (although Tom Hiddleston as Loki is pretty irresistible already if I am honest.)
Backstabber by Kimberley Chambers is due for release on 9th February by Harper Collins. Kimberley’s books always sound like they would completely draw me in. I might have to pull this up the TBR pile a bit.
One of them has a gun to his head. Who will pull the trigger?
King of the underworld, Vinny Butler goes into business with respected villain, Eddie Mitchell. It’s a match made in East End legend.
Friends and Family are treated all, enemies like rats.
Then a mysterious package arrives; dead creatures and threats. Someone is out for revenge. Who the enemy is, no one knows. There are some people you should never cross, some who can’t forgive or forget.
Six exciting new Galaxy Quick Reads titles released on 2nd February.
These books are part of the annual campaign to improve adult literacy.
This is the seventh year Quick Reads has been sponsored by Galaxy and the second year it has been run by the Literary Agency.
One in six adults struggle with reading in the UK. This year, Quick Reads will continue its work to break down the barriers that prevent people from picking up a book.
From a re-imagining of Beauty and The Beast, to a road trip in search of Poldark, the titles include books from Jenny Colgan and a special edition of Feel The Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers.
There is also a crime collection featuring Harry Bingham, Clare MacKintosh and Mark Billingham.
The first Quick read is Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. Released by Ebury, this is a specially adapted book drawing on the landmark self-help book by the late, Susan Jeffers. This is the first time a self-help book has been released in this series and what a great one to kick it off.
Everyone has fears and worries that stop them from progressing and going for the things they want in life. The simple life-changing exercises in this book will teach anyone to turn uncertainty into action.
The second, released by Orion is Dead Simple. This is a collection of short stories from some of the UK’s best crime writers.
Authors featured include Mark Billingham, Clare MacKintosh, James Oswald, Jane Casey, Angela Marsons, Harry Bingham, Antonia Hodgson and CL Taylor.
There are eight stories that will have many twists and turns; a man who attempts to commit the perfect murder, a widow who is about to lose more than her husband and a murderer who, when is he is about to be hanged realises that there could be worse things that happen to him.by
It’s blog tour day for the brilliant debut novel, Before You Go by Clare Swatman.
When Zoe’s husband Ed dies, her world caves in. But what if Zoe can get Ed back?
You find your soulmate . . .
Some people stare love in the face for years before they find it. Zoe and Ed fumbled their way into adulthood, both on different paths – but always in the same direction. Years later, having navigated dead-end jobs and chaotic house shares, romance finally blossoms. Their future together looks set . . .
Then the unthinkable happens.
One morning, on his way to work, Ed is knocked off his bike and dies. Now Zoe must find a way to survive. But she’s not ready to let go of the memories. How can she forget all of the happy times, their first kiss, everything they’d built together? Zoe decides she has to tell Ed all the things she never said.
Now it’s too late. Or is it?
I’ve reviewed Before You Go below but first, I had a chat with Clare about her novel and her writing process. Hi Clare, thank you so much for joining me today. Your new book is called Before You Go. Could you tell me a little about it and what inspired it?
Thank you for having me. Before You Go is the story of Zoe and Ed. When Ed dies Zoe is left grieving and wishing she could go back and say all the things she didn’t say to him before he died. Then one day, after hitting her head, she wakes up as her 18 year old self, and realises that, for whatever reason, she’s back in the very first day she met Ed, and that she’s going to get the chance to see him again. Slowly, she realises she might even have been given the chance to change the past – and her future. It’s a story about enduring love, and regrets, and second chances.
Most of my ideas are inspired by people’s real stories. I was a true life magazine journalist for years and found that people’s real stories were actually a lot more interesting than anything you could make up! The spark for this came from a story I read about a woman who had an accident and when she woke up she thought she was 17 and didn’t know who her husband and kids were. Although this isn’t what Before You go is about, it got me thinking about what it would be like to wake up as a 17 year old again – and that sparked the idea for the book.
Which writers inspire you?
Margaret Atwood has always been one of my favourite writers. I love the way she writes really simply but conveys so much. I also adore Maggie O’Farrell. For me her stories just flow beautifully and her characters zing from the page. Her writing makes me want to be better. Last year I also really enjoyed the quirkiness of The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon so I hope she becomes one of my favourite authors, and I love Kate Atkinson too; although her books require a bit of concentration, they’re worth it!by
How Not To Fall In Love Actually is the brilliant debut novel from Catherine Bennetto.
Emma has a job in television which is distinctly less glamorous and exciting than it sounds. She’s managed to claw her way up the ranks from Tea-Maker and Rubbish-Collector to 2nd Assistant Director (heavy on the ‘assistant’. Even heavier on the ‘2nd’).
So when she finds she’s accidentally very pregnant and at the same time accidentally very sacked (well, less accidentally: she did tell her boss to stick his job up his bum), she knows things are going to have to change.
Luckily she’s also accidentally the heir to a lovely cottage in Wimbledon, with a crazy Doberman-owning octogenarian as a neighbour and a rather sexy guy as an accidental tenant. But this baby is coming whether she likes it or not, and she needs to become the sort of person who can look after herself let alone another human being – and quickly.
Catherine shares with us today her top ten alternative romantic novels. Over to you Catherine…
I’ve not seen the movie but you’d have to be living under a rock in Snezhnegorsk (Russia) to not know Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger played the main characters. And regardless of sexual orientation you’d be a fool, A FOOL I SAY, to turn either one of them down. Sadly, the written characters are much less lust worthily depicted…. But it’s a fabulous story with unique characters and a satisfyingly heart-wrenching conclusion.
ME BEFORE YOU
This book was so fascinating I read it in one day. A romance develops between two unlikely characters: Louisa; who is relatively normal, and Will, completely paralyzed, wholly dependant and with a very genuine, and not unwarranted, death wish. And oh how I wanted it to work out in the end! Couldn’t he just miraculously recover? But I’d have liked the story less and would have called it unrealistic and twee. So die he must, be sad she was, and cry I did.
BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY
Instead of the typical mid 20’s heroine working in advertising and wearing amazing shoes, meet Bridget; thirty-something with an average woman’s body and an average woman’s job, bumbling around London in big pants trying to hook up with the bad guy while accidentally falling in love with the geek guy. It was a refreshing change to the romantic comedy trope and I (along with scores of others) adored ridiculous, kind, forever-willing-to-dust-off-and-try-again Bridget.by
I don’t think I will ever end my love affair with beautiful book covers. They are the thing that will attract me to a book. If it’s a pretty cover, I will sometimes stop reading and just look at it for a while (anyone else do that? Just me… ok.)
I have been thinking again about my favourite book covers. I did a post about this back in 2015 (want to see them, click here,) and I thought it was about time I thought about five more favourites.
It was hard picking just five. I think I have managed to narrow it down.
My first favourite is the 10th Anniversary edition of Looking For Alaska by John Green (HarperCollins Children’s Books, January 2015.) The original cover (which is black with a white daisy) is lovely but this cover is so beautiful.
Gold, the cover is gold. I brought a copy of this edition just because I loved the cover. I already had a paperback copy.
Miles’s life is one big non event until he meets Alaska Young. Alaska draws Miles into her reckless world and steels his heart in the process. His life will never be the same again.
My next favourite is Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven (Penguin, October 2016.) This cover is simple but yet so pretty. Sometimes less is more and this was one of my favourites from last year.
Everyone thinks they know Libby – the girl once dubbed ‘America’s Fattest Teen.’ No one has looked past the weight to see who she really is.
She’s been trying to deal with the grief of loosing her mother.
Now she is ready for school. For new friends. For a new life.
My third favourite is The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley (which is due to be released by Bantam Press in March.)
This cover is absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to be able to add it to my book shelf. I absolutely adore it. The illustrations are just lovely and has such wonderful detail.
Alice was discovered on the Yorkshire Moors above Haworth as a baby.
Adopted but then later rejected by a horrible step-mother, Alice struggles to find a place where she belongs. Only baking brings her a sense of comfort.
When Alice does return to Haworth, she returns to baking. She makes friends but there are a couple of last twist and turns in her story.by
It’s Friday. Yey!
I hope you’ve all had a great week and have lovely things planned for the weekend. If you’re looking for something to read over the next few days, there are some cracker titles out this week.
The wonderful Jill Mansell released her latest novel, Meet Me At Beachcomber Bay on 12th January 2017 by Headline Review.
There is love in the air in St Carys, not that you’d know it. The residents are good at keeping secrets.
The man that Clemency loves is in love with someone else. When she ropes into a friend to help, wires get crossed.
For the first time in Ronan’s life, his charms have failed him in getting him the woman he wants.
Belle seems to have the perfect boyfriend but something isn’t quite right. A secret is also rising to the surface. The truth has a funny way of revealing itself and when it does, St Carys will be very different.
The new book from Jane Fallon is called My Sweet Revenge and was also released on 12th January, this time by Penguin. To read my review, click here.
‘I want to make my husband fall back in love with me.’
Paula put her own acting career on hold in order for her husband to have his own success. Robert is now a regular on a popular daytime TV show.
Despite that, Paula is pretty happy with her life. It feels perfect to her. Until she finds out that Robert is having an affair.
Before she tells him it’s over, Paula wants Robert to be reminded just what he’s sacrificing. Then once she has won him back, she wants to break his heart. It will be her greatest acting role.
Next up is The Bone Field by Simon Keruick which was released by Century on 12th January.
There is a missing girl, a ruthless crime gang and a man so evil he must be stopped at any cost.
DI Ray Mason and PI Tina Boyce begin a hunt for the truth that will take them into a dark and terrifying world. One of corruption and deadly secrets.
The bones of a 21-year-old woman are found in the grounds of an old catholic school. This girl went missing in Thailand in 1990.
Her boyfriend at the time of her disappearance is now a middle aged university lecturer. He comes forward to say that he knows what happened. He knows who killed Kitty.
I want to make my husband fall back in love with me.
Let me explain. This isn’t an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven’t been reading articles in old women’s magazines. ‘Twenty ways to keep your man’. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tell him to get the hell out of my life he’ll care. He won’t just think, ‘Oh good’.
I want it to hurt.
Paula has had Robert’s back since they got together as drama students.
She gave up her dreams so he could make it.
Now he’s one of the nation’s most popular actors.
And Paula’s just discovered he’s having an affair.
She’s going to remind Robert just what he’s sacrificing.
And then she’s going to break his heart like he broke hers.
It will be her greatest acting role ever.
Revenge is sweet.
Paula has been married to Robert for many years. They have a daughter who is about to become eighteen. Paula left her ambitions to be an actress to raise her daughter and to support Robert in his career. He’s a regular on a long running day time TV show.
Paula is pretty content with her life. She has no idea her marriage is anything but perfect. That is until she finds out he’s having an affair.
She decides to get revenge before she confronts him. She wants to make him fall back in love with her before she breaks his heart.
I loved Jane’s previous novels and I am a big fan of her style of writing. It is not hard to fall into her stories and this book was no exception. I was completely hooked.
There were many moments when my sympathy went from one character to another and back again. There were some chapters where I couldn’t believe the behaviour of some of the characters and I wasn’t quite sure how the end was going to go.
This book puts spotlight on the lack of communication within relationships. It will be a relatable plot in terms of how Paula deals with finding out her husband is having an affair.
It had me wondering what I would do in Paula’s situation. I am not sure if I am honest.
The plot and characters were engaging and there were a few twists and turns too. The writing is witty and I couldn’t put this book down to be honest. It certainly did not disappoint. As I was reading, I could see this making a good TV show or movie.
Well done Jane Fallon. Another great novel.
(My Sweet Revenge is due to be released on 12th January 2017 by Penguin. Will be available in UK bookshops and online. Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy.)
A new year and new book releases. There are some great books out this week and I can’t wait to settle down and make my way through some of the books on this list.
Sister, Sister by Sue Fortin was released on Kindle on 6th January (the paperback version is due for release by HarperImpulse in April.)
This book is definitely going to be making its way up to the top of my to be read pile.
Alice is beautiful, kind, manipulative and a liar. Clare is intelligent, loyal, paranoid and jealous.
Clare thinks Alice is trying to steal her life. Alice thinks Clare is jealous of her return and place in the family. One is telling the truth, the other is a maniac Two sisters, one truth.
I can’t wait to read this one.
Also from HarperImpulse is the legacy of Lucy Harte by Emma Heatherington. Its Kindle release was on 6th January with the paperback due out next week. I think this is my favourite book cover this week. It is very pretty.
For fans of JoJo Moyes and Kelly Rimmer, this book focuses on Maggie. She knows better than most that life can change in a heartbeat. Eighteen years ago, she got given the gift of a new heart and a second chance at life.
Maggie has never forgotten Lucy Harte, the girl who saved her life. As Maggie’s life begins to fall apart, she looses sight of everything she has to live for. Then an unexpected letter arrives which changes everything.
The Muse by Jessie Burton got its paperback release on 29th December by Picador. I am still totally in love with this cover. It’s a book that’s been on my pile of books to be read for a while and i am hoping I can pick this one up soon.
Odelle climbs the steps of the Skelton Gallery in London, knowing that her life is about to change. Having struggled to find her place in the city, she’s been offered a job as a typist with Marjorie, who remains a mystery.
The Muse is a novel about aspiration, identity, love and obsession.
A few weeks before Christmas and a sudden blanketing of snow has closed the roads and brought public transport grinding to a halt, stranding Izzy miles from home and in desperate need of rescuing.
That doesn’t mean she’s looking to bump into Rob and spend a cosy weekend holed up in his swanky flat watching London become a winter wonderland! Because Izzy and Rob have history…
Six months ago, they were standing in the vestry of a beautiful country church, while best man Rob delivered the news that every bride dreads on their big day.
But at the time of year when anything is possible, can Rob and Izzy let go of the past and let Christmas work its magic? Or will this be one holiday wish that Izzy lets walk right out of her life…
My first thought was – ‘…and this is a debut novel?’
That should say about all you’d need to know how much I loved this book.
Maxi has crafted and woven a beautiful tale where you’re rooting for the two protagonists to get together from the first time we meet them on the pages. Izzy was jilted at the altar and promptly broke the nose of the Best Man when he came to break the bad news – pretty good considering she’s on the petite-side and Rob’s a strapping rugby-playing fellow.
As life has it, Izzy makes wedding dresses for a living and it’s through her business, and the fact that fate conspires to bring the pair together all the time, that ‘something’ begins to grow between the two of them. Life being what it is though, it’s never going to be that simple and there are many misunderstandings and false starts before love finally finds a way.by
The weather has definitely got colder over the past few weeks. Christmas trees are appearing in corners of living rooms and the festive scents of candles are filling the room.
It is certainly an excuse to set yourself up on the sofa or in a favourite armchair. Here are some new releases; suggestions on what you could be reading as we make the most of being warm against the cold.
The first book is The Gift by Louise Jensen.
This book sounds so good and it’s certainly being added to my TBR pile. Jenna is given a second chance when she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie.
Jenna will always be eternally grateful to Callie and her family. She grows close to the family Callie left behind but discovers they are holding some dark secrets. Jenna feels that she is only getting half the story.
Callie’s sister, Sophie has been ‘abroad’ since Callie’s death but there is something about her absence that doesn’t add up for Jenna. Then she meets Callie’s boyfriend.
Jenna is determined to uncover the truth bit it could cost her everything in the process, including her sanity.
Next up is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander
This is a novelisation of the film (due for release in cinemas on 15th December,) and features new scenes and expanded material. POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE MOVIE BEFORE KNOWING ABOUT THE BOOK, SKIP TO THE NEXT BOOK IN MY LIST.)
The shadows of the empire and deeply troubling rumours loom large across the galaxy. The rebellion learns of a sinister imperial plot to bring worlds to their knees. In empire domination space, a weapon of unbelievable destructive power is nearly completion – a threat that may be too great to overcome.
If the worlds that oppose the Empire have any chance, it lies with an unlikely band of allies; Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, Bodhi Rook, Chirrut Imwe, Baze Malbus and K-250.
They need to capture plans to the Empires new weapon but as they race toward their dangerous goal, the spectre of their enemy darkens the sky: the Death Star.by
Hello everyone. I hope you’re all enjoying your Thursday so far. The temperature has certainly dropped today hasn’t it.
Summer has gone and we say hi to dark mornings, cold hands and scraping of the windscreen on cars.
The one thing I do love about this time of year is that when I do make it home after work or whatever, I can curl up in the chair with a blanket and a lovely mug of hot chocolate and read into the night.
As it’s Thursday, there is a new batch of book releases too. Here are four of the books released today that I am looking forward to reading.
Rather Be The Devil sees the return of Rebus and is the latest novel by Ian Rankin. It’s released today by Orion. I can remember seeing a documentary on the BBC about Ian Rankin and his writing process. It was so interesting. It was also very encouraging for a new writer like me as I got to see someone as fantastic as this author have the same insecurities as me when writing his books and he just sits down and gets on with it. I hope it does someday get repeated.
This book is the twenty first novel in the Rebus series. The general gist is that it has been forty years but for John Rebus, the death of Maria Turquand still prays on his mind. She was murdered in a hotel on the same evening a famous singer and his entourage were staying. Maria’s body has never been found.
Meanwhile, young pretender Darryl Christie is left weakened and vulnerable after a vicious attack and an enquiry into a major money laundering scheme threatens his position.
Danielle Steel also has a new novel out today. The Award has just been released by Bantam Press.
Gaelle is sixteen when the German army occupies France in 1940. Her father and brother are killed in a matter of months and her mother descends into madness.
Gaelle becomes a member of the resistance. She fearlessly delivers Jewish children to safety underneath the eyes of the Gestapo.
Toward the end of the war, she tries to help save France’s art treasures but when the war draws to a close, she is accused of collaboration. She flees to Paris and then to New York to start a new life as a model, a wife and a mother.
The ghosts of her past however are always near.
The third book out today is Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern. This has been released by Harper Collins. I have actually read this book already (I will be reviewing it as part of the Lyrebird blog tour on 8th November so watch this space.)by
Start Now: The Creativity Journal is written and illustrated by Kate Neckel and published by Chronicle Books (August 2015.)
This is a book to pour ideas, doodles and dreams. There are illustrations to help spark creativity.
I love books like this generally. It appeals to the part of me that loves stationary and books to work through.
This journal is for people who want to create something.
It is so beautifully illustrated throughout and the cover is bright, colourful and inspiring too.
This book is full of ways you can be creative. You can do pretty much what you want.
You can write, jot down story ideas, doodle, sketch, write down sayings or quotes you find inspiring, song lyrics (your own or ones you like) and poetry. That is what I love about it. It gives you the space to get your ideas (any ideas) down on paper. One of the best things… you can make mistakes and it won’t matter.
It’s inspirational too. Although I did think there would be more than there are, there are prompts to help you along should you get stuck. For example, there is the list of the ten ways to curate your day which includes a suggestion to make snacks. Ha-ha. There is enough space to really make this book your own.
It’s a place to jot down all your thoughts and ideas in one place (a place where you can find order in the chaos.)
At last Ivy is looking forward to Christmas. She and her husband Stuart have moved to their perfect little cottage by the sea – a haven alongside the rugged cliffs that look out to the Atlantic Ocean. She’s pregnant with their much-longed for first baby and for the first time, since the death of her beloved mother, Ivy feels like things are going to be alright.
But there is trouble ahead and suddenly she misses her mum more than ever.
To give away a huge spoiler or not to give away a huge spoiler, that is the question.
And it is! There’s one thing I never do in my reviews and that’s to give the main points of a plot away and I’m tying my fingers in knots to stop them typing something yes, huge, about this story and a postcard…there, that’s the spoiler alert over with. If you want to know what I haven’t told you, there’s one good way – buy the book and read it!
All I shall say about the story is…Ivy and her husband Stuart have been trying and failing to get pregnant and finally make a break from London and move down to Cornwall. The change of scene and pace of life make all the difference, plus they get away from Stuart’s controlling mother, though Ivy feels a constant ache, she misses her deceased mother so much.
With the aid of new friends and finally re-acquainting herself with her mother’s old ones, Ivy struggles to accept that their dreams of a child may finally come true. Whilst Stuart makes a surprising success from producing condiments from his smallholding, his sister Smudge brings her own troubles to the fold.by
As we reach the middle of October, there have and still are some fantastic book releases to come. Here are a few of the ones I am looking forward to reading…
The first book is Bridget Jones Baby: The Diaries. Now, I have to admit, I was not the biggest fan of Mad About The Boy. There were elements about it that were fine but I didn’t like what happened to Mark Darcy. From what I can gather, this book which was released on 11th October, is more along the story line of the recently released movie (which I am still yet to see.)
Bridget is finally pregnant in this latest novel. It is full of cheesy potatoes, outlandish advice from drunk singletons and smug mothers, scans and childbirth questions. Plus… who’s the father? (Bridget Jones Baby: The Diaries was released on 11th October by Jonathan Cape.)
Lyrebird is the new novel that is due for release by Cecelia Ahern. I love her novels and this one sounds like it is going to be great. In the deep of the woods, a young woman lives alone. She processes an extraordinary talent – a gift that has earned her the nickname, Lyrebird.
When Solomon finds Laura’s (great character name. I know, I am a little biased) solitary existence, her life is turned upside down. She’s pulled from her peaceful home to the chaos of Dublin. Solomon is sure the world will embrace Laura but will she feel free to spread her wings or will she feel trapped?
This is due for release by HarperCollins on 3rd November 2016.
The next book I am looking forward to reading is We Were On A Break by Lindsey Kelk (Harper, 6th October.) I now have Ross from Friends in my head screaming “we were on a break.” It makes me want to binge watch Friends.
Liv and Adam have found themselves on opposite sides of a life they had mapped out. What should have been a proposal has now turned into a break. Friends and family think they are crazy. Liv throws herself into her work (she finds animals so much simpler than humans) and Adam tries to get himself out of the hole he has dug himself. The short break gets longer. Can and do they want to find their way back to one another?by
Forty-year-old air stewardess Emily Forsyth has everything a woman could wish for: a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, a designer wardrobe and a dishy pilot of a husband-in-waiting to match. But when he leaves her to ‘find himself’ (forgetting to mention the bit about ‘…a younger girlfriend’), Emily’s perfect world comes crashing down.
Catapulted into a mid-life crisis, she is forced to take stock and make some major changes. She ditches her job and enrols on a drama course in pursuit of her childhood dream, positive that, in no time at all, she’ll be sexily sporting a stethoscope on ‘Holby City’, and her ex will rue the day he dumped her. Wrong! Her chosen path proves to be an obstacle course littered with rejection and financial insecurity.
If she is to survive, she must learn to be happy with less, and develop a selective memory to cope with more than her fair share of humiliating auditions. She tells herself her big break is just around the corner. But is it too late to be chasing dreams?
Learning to Fly is a wonderful debut novel about it never being too late to give yourself a second chance and having faith in yourself.
Quitting her job as a flight attendant, Emily decides to take a leap and fulfil her life long ambitions to be an actress. Things are not always easy for Emily as she tries to navigate the world of agents, other actors and auditions.
Jane Lambert has created a delightful, relatable main character in Emily. There were moments that had me laughing out loud or wanting to turn the page as I wanted to know what happened next. Sometimes, it was both at the same time.
There is a lot of love, warmth and humour in this novel.
It all felt very realistic when it comes to the ups and downs of a life in acting. One minute you’re on top of the world and the next, you’re spending many days in pajamas waiting for the phone to ring.