Thursday, 19 January 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Gift by Louise Jensen

The Gift is the new novel by Louise Jensen, author of The Sister. Even though I have yet to read The Sister, I've heard very good things about it, so I'll definitely be picking it up soon. I felt drawn to The Gift, particularly due to its rather interesting premise.

Jenna's life is changed when, after an illness, she has to undergo a heart transplant. Now recovered and facing many more years of life, rather than feeling lucky about her situation, Jenna is unable to shake off the guilt she feels. Guilt that she is only still alive because someone else is dead.

Worse still, Jenna has been experiencing strange dreams and thoughts since her operation - thoughts that don't seem to belong to her. And since leaving long-term boyfriend Sam, it's proving difficult for Jenna to share her worries. The dreams won't stop, leading her to believe that this isn't simply a coincidence.

Despite the warnings of both her therapist and best friend, Jenna tracks down the family of her donor. Her heart, she soon discovers, had belonged to Callie, a young woman who died in a car crash. Even though the investigation was closed, with Callie's death ruled as accidental, there are still some unanswered questions about what happened. Why was Callie driving in that particular area? Was her boyfriend involved? When Callie's distraught father admits that the uncertainty keeps him awake at night, Jenna decides to investigate the case herself.

Feeling as though Callie's heart is attempting to give her answers, Jenna sets out to solve the mystery surrounding her donor's death and finally bring closure to her family. The strange dreams that Jenna experiences provide clues to Callie's life - people, places, glimpses into her final days. Jenna is even starting to like foods that she didn't like before; foods which Callie loved.

Jenna researches the odd goings-on, leading her to discover the theory of Cellular Memory - a hypothesis that memories can be stored in cells. By inheriting Callie's heart, has Jenna taken on a part of Callie herself?

Whilst her therapist and friends are concerned about her new 'obsession', Jenna is getting ever closer to working out what happened on the night of Callie's death. She even tracks down and befriends Callie's boyfriend Nathan after her suspicions grow, but can he really be responsible? Meanwhile, as Jenna focuses her efforts on Callie, other aspects of her life are starting to become difficult. There's her relationship with Sam, and the job as a veterinary nurse which she once loved. Her constant mistakes are driving her to believe that returning to work so soon was a bad choice. As Jenna learns more about her donor's life, her own is falling by the wayside.

But she has to find out what happened - and figure out what Callie is trying to tell her.

The Gift is an addictive, fast-paced read. It was impossible to put down. I enjoy thrillers and had expected to be taken with this one, but it was much more gripping than I had envisioned. I personally loved the concept of Cellular Memory in The Gift, which was such an original premise. It gave the novel a slightly supernatural feel, which I loved. There were various possibilities when it came to Callie's death, and plenty of ways to keep the reader guessing, but I thought the outcome was unpredictable. Obviously I don't want to give spoilers here, but I felt that the ending was perfectly written. Nothing was left out, nothing left me disappointed (something I've experienced with a few thrillers recently.)

Great pacing, well-developed characters and an original plot make The Gift a fantastic thriller. Louise Jensen is a very talented writer, and I'm looking forward to reading her future releases as well as The Sister.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

COMING SOON: The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond

The House of New Beginnings is the new novel from Lucy Diamond (author of Sweet Temptation, The Year of Taking Chances and The Secrets of Happiness), and will be released on January 26th...

Number 11, Dukes Square, looks just like the other houses on the Brighton seafront: a Regency terrace with elegant sash windows, a winding staircase, and post piled up in the hall for its tenants. It might be part of the city's history, but it's also a place of brand new beginnings.

Georgie has followed her childhood sweetheart to Brighton but is determined to carve out a career for herself in journalism. Throwing herself into the city's delights is fun and exciting, but before she knows it, she's sliding into all kinds of trouble...

Charlotte's in the city for a new start, hoping to keep her head down and somehow get over the heartbreaking loss she's suffered in the past. But Margot, the stylish old lady on the top floor, has other ideas. Like it or not, Charlotte must confront the outside world, and the possibilities it still holds.

A terrible revelation sent Rosa running from London to start again as a sous chef. The work is gruelling and thankless but it's a distraction at least . . . until she comes up against the stroppy teenager next door who challenges her on her lifestyle choices. What if Rosa's passion for food could lead her to more interesting places?

As the three tenants find each other, it's as if a whole new chapter of their lives has begun.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

BOOK NEWS: Laura Lake and the Case of the Hipster Weddings by Wendy Holden

Wendy Holden, whose many novels include Honeymoon Suite, Marrying Up and Filthy Rich, is returning this year with a brand new series about a journalist called Laura Lake. The first book in the series, Laura Lake and the Case of the Hipster Weddings, will be published in March.

Laura Lake longs to be a journalist. Now she’s an unpaid intern at a glossy magazine – sleeping in the fashion cupboard and living on canapés. And she’s just got her first big break: infiltrate three society weddings and write a juicy exposé.

Security will be tighter than a Kardashian pencil skirt, but how hard can it be? She’ll don a ball-gown for the aristocrats, a festival headdress for the artisan jewellery makers, and a glitter moustache for the Shoreditch hipsters. But Laura hasn’t prepared for disappearing brides and secret royal orgies. Or the fact that her jealous office enemy will do anything to bring her down... 

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

BOOK REVIEW: I'm Not Her by Cara Sue Achterberg

Sometimes it's all too easy to say 'if I were you...'. Many of us are guilty of making assumptions about the lives of others, even strangers. In I'm Not Her by Cara Sue Achterberg, an accident causes two very different women to swap bodies.

A bit like Freaky Friday, you might think. Well, kind of. But this novel is less of a comedic, feel-good tale. Instead, it's gripping. At times heartbreaking.

Despite Carin Fletcher and Leann Cane seeing each other regularly at the supermarket, to one another they are strangers. To Carin, Leann is the slovenly, obese checkout girl, and to Leann, Carin is obnoxious. However, after an accident at the Shop N Save, the pair wake up to find that not only have they somehow swapped bodies, they've effectively swapped lives.

Before the accident, Carin had the life most young women dream of. A college degree, a good job, a nice apartment, a caring handsome boyfriend and an enviable, gorgeous body. Healthy, pretty and perhaps a little self-absorbed. Carin is beautiful - something which Leann has never felt. That is, until she sees herself as Carin.

Meanwhile, Carin is discovering that Leann's life is way more troubling that she had ever envisioned. Not only is Leann terribly unhealthy and overweight, she is also extremely poor, with an abusive boyfriend who, thankfully, is rarely at the tiny, scarcely-furnished apartment she calls home. It's clear that Leroy is up to no good, but just what is he hiding?

To Carin's surprise, Leann has a young son, Trevor, who seems to be the only positive thing in Leann's life. Other than that, she is penniless, unattractive and trapped.

As Leann remains in Carin's body, her only downside being Carin's overly-concerned and protective mother and boyfriend who are trying to work through the sudden change in behaviour, Carin is working Leann's low-paid job, trying to get used to her large frame and lack of fitness, and having to deal with abuse on a daily basis. Not just from Leann's mother, Leroy and her teenage babysitter, but the stares and silent judgement of others. The stares that Carin herself would give, wondering how this woman could allow herself to be that big, so unconcerned about her appearance. Just hours into being Leann and it's all starting to make sense.

Understandably, Leann doesn't want her own life back, although she misses Trevor. And with both women unsure of whether they'll ever be back in their own bodies, it's time for them to face the possibility that the change could be permanent.

Carin is determined to get Leann out of her terrible home life - not just for her, but for Trevor. Before it's too late.

Cara Sue Achterberg brings forward an exciting concept and explores it perfectly in I'm Not Her. The two women are so different, living in what feels like different worlds; Carin pretty and privileged, Leann living in poverty, assuming that her life and the regular put-downs she receives from family and co-workers are simply normal. The novel is narrated by both characters, although the majority of the book focuses on Carin as she navigates life as Leann, a woman she once pitied as she worked behind the checkout.

I don't want to give too much away, but this novel is addictive, sad, and wonderful at the same time. It makes you think, makes you wonder about those around you. I warmed to Carin early on in the book as her initial selfishess turned to realisation, and hard work. I found it difficult to like Leann, though it was obvious that her ways were not truly her fault. Towards the end of the novel I became a little more fond of her.

I saw this title on Netgalley and was curious; let's face it, what would you do if you woke up in someone else's body? I had a feeling I would like this book, but it was a lot more interesting than I thought, and I couldn't put it down. It's a brilliant novel.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

UNCOVERED PICKS - New Year, New Reads! Five January Releases

Hi all! It's a brand new year and Chick Lit Uncovered is back. I always like to kick off a new month with a selection of new and upcoming reads, but before I do, I'd like to wish everyone a super happy new year! Here's hoping 2017 will be fantastic for everyone. It's certainly looking exciting in terms of books!

Here are five new women's' fiction novels that'll be heading our way this month.

Whatever Happened to Vicky Hope's Back-Up Man? by Laura Kemp
Twenty-one and insecure, Vicky Hope comes up with a plan on the eve of travelling the world with her high flying friend, Kat Lloyd: if she isn't married by the time she's thirty, she'll marry her geeky best mate Mikey Murphy.

Fast-forward eight-and-a-bit years, Vicky, now Vee wakes up on her thirtieth birthday in Brighton, expecting a proposal of marriage from her arty boyfriend Jez. Instead he tells her their relationship is over and she has no choice but to return to her parents' home.

Devastated and alone in her childhood bedroom, she decides she has nothing to lose and tracks down her two old mates. With shock, she discovers Mikey, now Murphy, is a successful app designer driven by his tragic upbringing. Kat, or Kate, never made it – but she hides a devastating secret, which threatens the happiness of all three.

The Good Girlfriend's Guide to Getting Even by Anna Bell
When Lexi's sport-mad boyfriend Will skips her friend's wedding to watch football - after pretending to have food poisoning - it might just be the final whistle for their relationship.

But fed up of just getting mad, Lexi decides to even the score. And, when a couple of lost tickets and an 'accidentally' broken television lead to them spending extra time together, she's delighted to realise that revenge might be the best thing that's happened to their relationship.

And if her clever acts of sabotage prove to be a popular subject for her blog, what harm can that do? It's not as if he'll ever find out...

New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan
Meet Molly

New York’s most famous agony aunt, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they’re other people’s. The only love of her life is her Dalmatian, Valentine.

Meet Daniel

A cynical divorce lawyer, he’s hardwired to think relationships are a bad idea. If you don’t get involved, no-one can get hurt. But then he finds himself borrowing a dog to meet the gorgeous woman he sees running in Central Park every morning…

Molly and Daniel think they know everything there is to know about relationships…until they meet each other that is…

White Lies and Wishes by Cathy Bramley
Flirtatious, straight-talking Jo Gold says she’s got no time for love; she’s determined to save her family’s failing footwear business. 

New mother Sarah Hudson has cut short her maternity leave to return to work. She says she’ll do whatever it takes to make partner at the accountancy firm. 

Bored, over-eating housewife Carrie Radley says she just wants to shift the pounds – she’d love to finally wear a bikini in public.

The unlikely trio meet by chance one winter’s day, and in a moment of ‘Carpe Diem’ madness, embark on a mission to make their wishes come true by September. 

Easy. At least it would be, if they hadn’t been just the teensiest bit stingy with the truth…

With hidden issues, hidden talents, and hidden demons to overcome, new friends Jo, Carrie and Sarah must admit to what they really, really want, if they are ever to get their happy endings.

Almost a Bride by Jo Watson
That moment you catch your boyfriend in bed with another woman and then mistakenly get arrested. #awks

Annie doesn't want to dwell on the fact that she walked in on her bf wearing nipple clamps on the day he was meant to propose to her. She just wants to move on - cue escaping to a tropical paradise.

Life is dreamy on the beaches of Mauritius, until the nightmarish appearance of her ex and the 'other woman'. Faced with the enemy, Annie refuses to look like the sad, lonely single she actually is. She needs a decoy - and fast. Enter Chris, a sexy screenwriter who agrees to play her pretend boyfriend.

But as a battle of the exes commences, the white sand, tropical heat and a pina colada (or five) might just be the cocktail for a real romance - and the adventure of a lifetime.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Back in January!

Hi all!

Chick Lit Uncovered is going to be taking a short break until the New Year. I'll be back next month with reviews and interviews about the latest chick-lit books!

See you all in January!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

BLOG TOUR: The Dress by Jane L Rosen

The Dress is a beautiful new read by screenwriter Jane L Rosen. Festive and heartwarming, the novel focuses on nine women whose lives are changed by the perfect dress of the season. Jane has joined us as part of her blog tour, and gives us an insight into the novel and her inspiration behind it!

Please can you tell us about The Dress is 15 words or less?
A tale of one extraordinary dress and the lives of the nine women it touches.

What inspired you to write The Dress?
The impetus for this book came from an urban legend of sorts—

The story of a dress in the 80’s allegedly returned to Bloomingdales covered in formaldehyde. I have no idea if the story is true or not but it left me wondering, “What ever could have happened to that dress?”  I worked my way backwards from there and the story of Nine Women, One Dress was born.

Where do you do most of your writing?
When the words are coming easy to me I write at my dining room table in my apartment in Manhattan. When they’re not I force myself to sit in a New York Public Library. Although they are naturally supposed to be quiet places they are actually filled with hushed or silent distractions. There is something about the atmosphere that forces me into my work.

What is your favourite book?
It’s a tie between A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s really the writing that moves me most in both of them. I can read them over and over again.  I also love The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy and The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving. More recently, I was very moved by Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Which part of The Dress did you enjoy writing the most?
The story of Arthur and Felicia was probably the most enjoyable to write. It’s such a simple love story and it flowed out of me easily.  I enjoyed writing the characters of Tomàs and Ruthie who work in the dress department at Blookmingdales the most. Their personalities and thoughts made me laugh as I was creating them.

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
Jo from Little Women. She is strong, smart, opinionated and willing to do anything for her family. She reminds me of my three daughters rolled up into one.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
Write your first draft as if no one is reading it then edit, edit and edit some more. Don’t get discouraged. Listen to the voice in your head that says you’re great, not the one that says otherwise.

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
A novel called The August of Esmè Nash.

It’s the story of a 28-year-old Upper East-side socialite whose life is upended just as her long-time shrink leaves town for the month.

Thanks, Jane!

The Dress by Jane L Rosen
Natalie is a Bloomingdale’s salesgirl mooning over her lawyer ex-boyfriend who’s engaged to someone else after just two months. Felicia has been quietly in love with her happily married boss for twenty years; now that he’s a lonely widower, she just needs the right situation to make him see her as more than the best executive assistant in Midtown Manhattan. 

Andrea is a private detective specializing in gathering evidence on cheating husbands—a skill she unfortunately learned from her own life—and can’t figure out why her intuition tells her the guy she’s tailing is one of the good ones when she hasn’t trusted a man in years. For these three women, as well as half a dozen others in sparkling supporting roles—a young model fresh from rural Georgia, a diva Hollywood star making her Broadway debut, an overachieving, unemployed Brown grad who starts faking a fabulous life on social media, to name just a few—everything is about to change, thanks to the dress of the season, the perfect little black number everyone wants to get their hands on…

Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour!

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