Thursday, 24 March 2016

Book tour: Mean Sisters - Lindsay Emory + guestpost

Margot Blythe is a twenty-something year old who can’t seem to let her college glory days go. After all, everyone deserves a family of ‘sisters’ like she had. When she’s invited to speak at her alma mater, her homecoming reception isn’t exactly what she expected. Tragedy strikes and Margot has to step up, especially when foul play is suspected.
She’s going to save her fifty frazzled ‘sisters’, keep the suspicious (but dangerously cute) police officer at bay and find out the truth – could a sister have committed such an unimaginable sin as murder?
Margot is going to learn the real bond of sisterhood and maybe, just maybe, discover where she truly belongs.

** Review **
My opinion.
"This blog tour will be SO FETCH!" From the moment I read that teaser, saw the cover and read the blurb, I knew this was a book I did not want to miss. And rightly so.
I had so much fun reading this. Elle Woods on Greek Row, meets Regina George and ZBZ's Casey & Ashleigh.
Margot is a very unique main character. She seems at times very superficial and petty, but she's also loyal to a fault with a big heart and a very naive outlook on life. Or is she? When events at the "Debs" chapter challenge everything she stands for and believes in, we discover there's a lot more to Margot than meets the eye.
From murder and blackmail to sorority drama and sisterhood, Mean Sisters is a wonderfully original and hilarious twist on what we thought we knew about chick lit... and sororities.
With frat pranks, sex scandals, secret traditions and girly secrets, I suddenly found myself in an episode of Greek with Casey and Ashleigh versus Frannie Morgan - or was it Regina George? - where Elle Woods turns up as the defender of sorority standards and the sacred sisterhood.
Sit  back and enjoy -  and secretly wish you were a sorority girl yourself. I really enjoyed reading Mean Sisters and I may or may not have googled transferring to a US college with a Greek system, whilst watching a 'Greek' marathon.

** GUEST POST by Kate Ellis, editor ***

Anyone who knows me understands that I have a complete love affair with America. I won’t say obsession, because that’ll just make me sound weird (even though it’s exactly what it is)! So when Mean Sisters landed in my inbox, it was a match made in Yankee heaven.

I feel like sororities are a complete mystery to everyone outside of the US, and as a major US admirer, this is just not acceptable to me. From growing up watching American soap operas and TV shows, I know all there is to know about American high school and to a certain degree, college. But I’ve never quite got sororities. So really getting to grips with what it means to be a sorority sister was pretty high on my list.

It was the opening chapter that had me totally hooked. It’s only 700 words, but it’s just SO good. I felt like I instantly knew who Margot was and what to expect from the rest of the book: I was going to have an absolute blast with this woman, who obviously takes sorority life far too seriously. And Lindsay certainly delivered!

For me, reading this book (which I finished in two days, I was so hooked!), all I had in my head was Legally Blonde meets Mean Girls. What better combination can you get?! Elle Woods meets Regina George, it’s something we’ve all dreamt of… be honest.

It was the first submission I’d read that really got me excited and the Avon Publishing Director said to me, if you can come up with a pitch and package for it, let’s do it. So that’s exactly what I did. When I presented the pitch to the team, they just got it, and it was so great that they were all so on board, too.

It was really difficult researching cult movies like Mean Girls and Legally Blonde for work, but I got through it. And the social media plan was such a drag for me and Helena (Avon’s Digital Marketing Manager). I mean, Googling Mean Girls memes and having competitions to find the best quotes was a tough job. (IT WAS THE BEST JOB, EVER!)

For my first ever acquisition, I’m so excited, and totally stoked, that I managed to combine two of my favourite things in life: Mean Girls and America. I really hope the UK readers fall in love with Mean Sisters like I did, it’s hard not to!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Book review: Scarlet Widow - Graham Masterton

London, 1750: Beatrice Scarlet is the apothecary's daughter. She can mix medicines and herbs to save the lives of her neighbours - but, try as she might, she can't save the lives of her parents. An orphan at just sixteen, Beatrice marries a preacher and emigrates to America.
New Hampshire, 1756: In the farming community where Beatrice now lives, six pigs are found viciously slaughtered; slices of looking-glass embedded in their mouths. According to scripture, this is the work of Satan - but Beatrice Scarlet suspects the hands of men. As she closes in on the killer, she must act quickly to unmask him - or become the next victim herself...
My opinion.
Set in the 18th century, inquisitive and intelligent Beatrice lives in a world where the truth is dictated by religion and superstition. There are certain things that are expected of a woman, and certain things that are not. As a trained apothecary, Bea has an independent mind and a more rational outlook on live than most of her friends and neighbours.
Graham Masterton writes a complete and detailed setting, both in 18th century London and New Hampshire, where he beautifully captures the time's spirit in a variation of characters.
When horrible events shake up their little town, the search for the culprit gets delayed by the superstition that surrounds the various attacks. The mood in the village turns. Scary and disturbing things are happening,  covered in mystery. For me however, the rush and excitement of a crime thriller stayed out because of the time the conversations, confrontations and events took. The pace of the novel is in harmony with the spirit of the era. This however meant that I never had the feeling of being chased, or haunted - even though the book did have all the elements of a very exciting  thriller. So not as much a thriller as it was a gripping historical novel.
Apart from the pace slowing me and the 'excitement' down, the amount of detail Graham Masterton was able to provide was astonishing and I enjoyed reading Scarlet Widow. I wouldn't have guessed this to be the start of a series, but I'm sure I'll be very much tempted in the future to return to Beatrice Scarlet and Graham Masterton's writing.


Friday, 18 March 2016

Book review: Sleepless in Manhattan - Sarah Morgan (From Manhattan With Love #1)

Great friends. Amazing Apartment. An incredible job. Paige has ticked off every box on perfect New York life checklist. Until disaster strikes…
What if the person who broke your heart, is the only one who can help you find your future?
Great friends. Amazing Apartment. An incredible job. Paige has ticked off every box on perfect New York life checklist. Until disaster strikes and instead of shimming further up the career ladder, Paige is packing up her desk.

Her brother’s best friend Jake might be the only person who can help her put her life back together. He also happens to be the boy she spent her teen years pining after, and Paige is determined not repeat her past mistakes. But the more time she spends with Jake, the more Paige realises the one thing that was missing from her world all along. The perfect New York love story…

My opinion.
It is with shame that I admit that Sleepless in Manhattan is the first of Sarah Morgan's novels I read. I'm not sure how that happened, but let's just say that it won't be the last! Fellow book lovers were absolutely raving about this book so I couldn't be more pleased that I got a chance to see for myself what the fuss was all about ;-)
I really enjoyed reading it. The company idea/ event planning setting was a great backdrop. It gave a lot of variation and felt energetic. 
The only remark I could give is that some of the dialogue didn't really work for me. Either it was difficult to discover who was talking to whom, especially when all three ladies were involved, or there were too many words wasted. What I mean is that Sarah Morgan did a great job of offering you a detailed insight and understanding of her characters and they didn't always need the amount of explaining they got or did. In a lot of the dialogue it was a case - to me - of 'less is more'. There was a bit too much repetition and over-analyzing of issues already sufficiently explained.
In Sleepless in Manhattan Sarah Morgan introduces some really great characters and I loved their relationships. The romance was passionate, the friendships unconditional and the brother-sister bond heartwarming. I definitely felt like there was so much more to explore about these characters - and lucky me, this turned out to be the first book in a series, so *happy dance*, I am definitely reading the rest of the From Manhattan With Love series.


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Book tour: All For You - Kristina O'Grady + giveaway

Is it time for a second chance at love?
When Lily left her home town – and the love of her life Wade – 8 years ago to start her acting career she had big plans to make her dream a reality. However, a few dead end jobs and one dead end relationship later she is back to make a fresh start with the only good thing to come out it all – her unborn baby.

Lily soon realises however that the heart wants what the heart wants, and hers clearly still wanted Wade Copeland! Can they overcome the hurt and pain of the past to allow themselves a future?

The third novel in the sizzlingly sexy Copeland Ranch romance trilogy from Kristina O'Grady

Note: This can be read as a stand alone novel!

My opinion.
Ok. So I'm going to start with the cover, because first impressions and all... 
I'm not the biggest fan. Sorry! Yes, I do admit that it's grown on me and if I look at the covers of the previous two books in this series, this is by far the better one. I think what threw me off, is that it sort of hints at a cheesy romance story (not that there's anything wrong with that!!), and All For You is anything but cheesy.
It is the third novel in the Copeland Ranch trilogy, but can definitely be read as a stand alone novel - the way I read it.
Kristina O'Grady surprised me quite a few times with this sexy, yet sweet and romantic story. Lily is of course a great main character, someone you instantly like and feels like a dear friend. And Wade... well... He's just the ultimate book boyfriend, isn't he?! Sweet, caring, verrrry sexy... 
I loved how they're both sort of "quiet" characters. Kristina O'Grady proved here that a main character doesn't have to be the loudest or biggest personality to be the main focus of the story. Lily and Wade's story in itself is enough. It's beautiful.
Theirs isn't a typical situation and it's definitely not an easy one. But they both handle it with grace, without the cliche and predictable drama,  and (to me) it brought something original and unexpected. Next time I'm looking for a romantic read, I'm definitely going for the other Copeland Ranch books.
All For You tells a wonderfully sweet romance with some lovely "spicy" scenes, and a good dose of small-town charm. I fell in love with the characters and couldn't stop reading.

About the author: Kristina O’Grady has always loved telling a good story. She took up writing at a young age and spent many hours – when she should have been doing her math homework – scribbling romance stories in a book she hid in her sock drawer.She grew up on a cattle ranch in Western Canada and loves reminiscing by writing about cowboys and their horses.In 2000 Kristina met her own knight in shining armour/cowboy who swept her off her feet and across the world to New Zealand, where she now lives on a sheep and beef farm with her amazingly supportive husband, three gorgeous young kids, seven working dogs and one very needy cat.All for You is her fifth book.



£15/$20 Amazon Voucher.

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Friday, 11 March 2016

Book tour: White Lies - Zoë Markham + giveaway

A haunting YA thriller you won't be able to put down, White Lies is a boarding school story - with a shockingly dark twist. Everybody hurts

For Abigail, a new school could be the fresh start she so desperately needs. With her parents in the army and her sister Beth too far away to run to, she knows this year needs to be different. She's never been part of the cool crowd and for the first time Abby wants to fit in. And all it takes is just one little white lie…because some truths are too painful to share.

Everybody lies

But at Cotswold Community College, Abby isn't the only one with a past she'd rather forget. And when she stumbles across a closely-guarded secret, Abigail realises that her one little white lie could reveal everything she’s worked so hard to hide…

My opinion.
Abby was a great main character to follow around the treacherous world of boarding schools and teenage drama. I liked her from the start and Zoë Markham's excellent writing and story telling even succeeded in making me physically uncomfortable when Abby was confronted by lies and deceit. I even liked that there was a bit of a dark side to her. It made her easy to relate to, in a way, even without really being able to understand what exactly her "dark side" was (yet).
I'm not sure the story was entirely what I expected it to be. For some reason it didn't really feel as a "thriller" to me, haunting as it was though. I think I'd describe it more as a psychological drama? But that's just labeling. It was indeed a haunting read and Zoë Markham really surprised me a few times: White Lies is anything but predictable and has many more layers to it than you'd first expect. (Although I must confess that it took me a while to discover some of the big, hidden layers to Abby's story/character. But then again, that made the thrilling 'showdown' even more surprising and shocking.)
I can definitely recommend White Lies to anyone who loves a bit of a dark-twist in the amazing setting of a boarding school, full of gossip and unwritten hierarchy. 

About the author. Zoë lives in West Oxfordshire with her husband, son and the obligatory two cats. A full-time copy-editor by day, she writes late into the night, fuelled by coffee - not, as she tells all her son's friends - fresh blood and cold empty darkness.

Zoë likes her fiction dark and disturbing, loathes even the tiniest element of pink fluffiness and has an inexplicable fear of mushrooms. She will do anything to avoid interacting with the Real World wherever possible.

If you'd like to know more, Zoë can usually be found talking books on Twitter, and rarely bites if you'd like to say Hello.


£10 Amazon Giftcard (UK only) 
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Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Book review: A Muddied Murder - Wendy Tyson (A Greenhouse Mystery #1)

When Megan Sawyer gives up her big-city law career to care for her grandmother and run the family’s organic farm and café, she expects to find peace and tranquility in her scenic hometown of Winsome, Pennsylvania. Instead, her goat goes missing, rain muddies her fields, the town denies her business permits, and her family’s Colonial-era farm sucks up the remains of her savings.

Just when she thinks she’s reached the bottom of the rain barrel, Megan and the town’s hunky veterinarian discover the local zoning commissioner’s battered body in her barn. Now Megan is thrust into the middle of a murder investigation—and she’s the chief suspect. Can Megan dig through small-town secrets, local politics, and old grievances in time to find a killer before that killer strikes again?

My opinion.
A Muddied Murder is as deliciously contradictory as it's cover. A wonderfully original mix between small-town farm life, family relationships and a murder investigation, Wendy Tyson keeps you hooked and entertained throughout. 
I really enjoyed Megan as a main character. She's determined to make her farm and café a success, both for herself and for the rest of the town. She's driven and intelligent, but also very caring and fair. 
Her relationships feel natural and uncomplicated - even when they're everything but. However colourful and diverse, Wendy Tyson found a way to make all the characters introduced in this book believable and real. 
The only side note I can make here, is that there was so much more about this town and the main character's lives and histories than was covered in this book. I would love to find out more about them. And frankly, I fell in love with this little town. [Was anyone else reminded of Gilmore Girls' Stars Hollow and Taylor Doose??]
The small-town politics, gossip and way of life stand in strong contrast with the scene of a murder, and make for a fun and exciting combo. Secrets of past generations, town politics and relationships: the mystery keeps getting more elaborate and complex.
I'm thrilled with this idea of "greenhouse mysteries" and I'm excited to see what Wendy Tyson has in store for us next.