Monday, 30 June 2014

BOOK NEWS: Yes, Chef! by Lisa Joy

Yes, Chef! is the upcoming novel from Lisa Joy, who has drawn from her years of experience in the restaurant industry to write her book about foodie Becca Stone who takes the opportunity to be PA to a celebrity chef. But is working in the limelight really the dream she envisions? Yes, Chef! is released in July.

Sassy foodie Becca Stone is over her job taking reservations in one of London's most successful restaurant empires. So when she is unexpectedly catapulted into working as PA to celebrity chef, Damien Malone, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime.

Becca is quickly caught up in an exciting whirlwind of travel, reality TV and opening nights, and even her usually abysmal love life takes a turn for the better. But as Becca is slowly consumed by the chaos of life in the spotlight, she begins to lose touch with her friends, her heart and even with reality. Working with Damien has its challenges and she is soon struggling with his increasingly outrageous demands and sleazy advances, all while managing the ridiculous requests of his self-centered wife. It takes a disastrous trip to Italy for Becca to realize that she may have thrown away exactly what she's been looking for all along.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

EXTRACT: Cupid's Way by Joanne Phillips

We recently posted about Cupid's Way, the new novel from Joanne Phillips. The book is released on Amazon tomorrow, and focuses on single thirty-something Evie who makes it her mission to save her grandparents' home, running into successful CEO Michael. Today we're sharing an extract of this fab new novel - enjoy!


On the morning of the Go Green conference, Evie Stone fell asleep on the train. Lulled into a head-jerking slumber by the rhythmic clatter of wheels on rails, she finally gave in and rested her head against the scratchy fabric backrest. Weak sunlight and dark tunnels flashed across her eyelids. She dreamed of standing ovations and rounds of applause. A smile crept onto her face and the miles rolled past.
     The intercity was pulling out of Cardiff station when Evie woke with a start. She pressed her forehead to the cool window and watched helplessly as the station – her destination – slid away. All too quickly the backs of industrial estates and retail parks turned to pockets of gardens and fields. Evie pushed back her hair and tried to calm her breathing. It would be okay. It was only a minor disaster, not a major one. Providing she could get off the train really soon and catch another back to Cardiff it need not be a disaster at all.
     She sat to attention, tapping her fingernails on the Formica-covered table. The intercom crackled into life. A man who sounded as though he was underwater said, ‘Next stop, Bridgend.’
     Evie’s eyes stretched open in alarm. She looked at her watch and grimaced. If she didn’t get off this train soon there’d be no point even going to the conference.
     ‘Excuse me!’ Evie noticed the guard at the end of the carriage and waved her hand, bouncing a little in her seat. She watched him approach, hoping he was taking in the blonde hair that bobbed an inch above her shoulders and the tailored lime-green skirt that fitted snugly above her knees. She fixed her most winning smile to her face and looked up as he reached her side.
     ‘I’m so sorry to bother you, but I’ve made a bit of a blunder. I was supposed to get off at Cardiff but I missed my stop. I need to get back there as soon as possible.’
     The guard had the best poker face she’d ever seen. His eyes pulled away from hers and focused on her left cheek. He said, ‘Didn’t you hear the announcement? I made it myself.’
     Evie frowned. ‘I’m afraid I didn’t hear anything. Perhaps your intercom system is  broken. I don’t think I’ve heard any announcements since Newport.’
     The guard smiled, and Evie relaxed.
     ‘So, because I missed my stop do you think you could pull up at one of these little stations we keep passing’ – she pointed out of the window as yet another station with an unpronounceable name sped past – ‘and let me off?’
     The guard started to laugh. Evie hesitated, then joined in. The woman in the seat opposite Evie nodded her head and adjusted her glasses, before returning to her book.
     ‘So, that’s okay?’ Evie pulled her jacket around her shoulders in readiness.
     ‘Oh, no. No can do. Sorry, my dear, but this isn’t a bus. We can’t just stop on demand.’
     Evie’s shoulders drooped and her jacket slipped off again. ‘But it’s your fault I missed  my stop,’ she said. ‘I didn’t hear the announcement.’
     ‘Probably because you were asleep,’ he answered with a grin.
     ‘I was not asleep!’ Evie sat back and glared at him. ‘As if I would do something so stupid. I’ll have you know I’m due to give a talk at the very important Go Green conference today. In fact, I’m meant to be going on stage in about’ – she looked at her watch again – ‘an hour and a half. There’s no way I’d fall asleep and miss my stop. Not me.’
     ‘You have a sleep scar,’ the guard told her, pointing at her cheek.
     ‘What?’ She reached up and touched her skin, then twisted around to look at her reflection in the window. Outside, the sun had slipped behind the rain clouds, and the lights in the carriage turned the window into a mirror. A mirror in which she could see all too clearly her dishevelled hair, the bags under her eyes, and a crescent-shaped indentation curving from her cheekbone to her mouth. A glance at the headrest solved the mystery of where it had come from.
     Perfect.

Friday, 27 June 2014

UNCOVERED INTERVIEWS: Sue Watson

Sue Watson's new novel Love, Lies and Lemon Cake is published today, and Sue has stopped by for a Q&A on the novel, the inspiration behind it and what she'll be writing next...

Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
A woman risks everything to chase long forgotten dreams...but is she doing the right thing?

What inspired you to write Love, Lies and Lemon Cake?
It was a chapter title in my first book ‘Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes’ and the idea has been percolating for a few years in between other books. I wanted to write a modern day Shirley Valentine, about an ordinary woman who thinks she knows what her future holds and has given up on her dreams. It’s about second chances and having the courage to chase your dreams.

Where do you do most of your writing?
I have an Ikea desk and cupboards in the corner of the kitchen which is my office, where in theory no-one is allowed to bother me... but everyone does. I once tried to work in a spare room upstairs but I am far too interfering and nosy and want to know what everyone’s doing so I am now positioned in the heart of the house. It’s useful to be where others are because when I want to procrastinate I can usually rope someone else in.

What is your favourite book?
I don’t have a favourite as such, I've read so many brilliant books and plan to read so many more in my lifetime it’s a great – but very tough question. Having said that - I read a book last year that has stayed with me so much it probably will be one of my all time favourites, ‘The Age of Miracles’ by Karen Thompson. It’s ostensibly science fiction – but it’s so much more than that and says so much about being human – it’s sad, funny, scary and so profound I made my 15-year-old daughter read it too.

Which part of Love, Lies and lemon Cake did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved writing the whole book – I love Faye the heroine and fell a little bit in love with Dan, the gorgeous bronzed Australian in the novel. But the parts set on the Greek Island of Santorini were probably my favourite to write ... I wrote it at home in The Midlands in February and could almost feel the sun on my face.

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
Cadence Roth in Armistead Maupin’s Maybe the Moon. She is the narrator and full of life and love and fun and anger – and eventually she turns out to be not quite the person you think she is. I strongly recommend it.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
Yes, don’t get too caught up in the publishing aspect, just write the book you want to write – and it may seem obvious – but finish it before jumping to the next stage. It’s very tempting to write a book with a view to getting it published, making money and becoming an author. Trust me it doesn’t work – I know because I was that wannabe author who gave up my career as a TV Producer with the BBC to ‘become a novelist.’ That was almost eight years ago and it was only recently after a long, hard struggle and a million rejections I felt able to call myself a writer – and I still haven’t made any money!

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
Yes I’ve almost finished my next book which is about two sisters who both very different. When things take an unexpected turn the women have to learn to live in the same world again and rely on each other – which brings about some humour and heartbreak.

Thanks, Sue!

You can find out more about Sue Watson by visiting her website and following her on Twitter.

Love, Lies and Lemon Cake by Sue Watson
Faye Dobson has lost her sparkle. Living on film star fantasies and vague memories of a marriage that once was, she can't help feeling that life is passing her by. She dreams of being whisked to Paris for dinner, making three wishes at the Trevi fountain and having sex under the stars. But the wrinkles are multiplying, her husband's passion is for plumbing, and the nearest she'll get to Rome is a take-away pizza. So when Faye meets Dan the gorgeous Australian surfer guy working in the local deli she can't help but wonder what it would be like to see the world. He is blonde, tanned, ten years younger and bakes the most amazing lemon cake. Unlike her husband Dan actually listens to Faye, his smile makes her feel fizzy inside, and when he smiles... Oh. My. God. But is Faye being silly? What would Dan see in someone like her? Even if he did have feelings for her, could she give everything up to be with him?

Thursday, 26 June 2014

UPCOMING RELEASE: The Story of You by Katy Regan

Katy Regan, author of One Thing Led to Another, How We Met and The One Before The One, returns in July with her new novel, The Story of You...

Your past will always be part of you, but does it have to define your future? Or can you rewrite your story?

I want to explain it all to you. How this happened. How that summer – the summer I was 16 – made me the person I am today.

I want to share my memories with you: the happy memories are like sunbursts, sparkling on the sea. But then, like a current dragging me under, there's that summer of 1997.

The summer my life exploded.

The summer I had to grow up.

The summer you came into my life.

And so this is the story of you.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

GIVEAWAY: Win a copy of Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy by Helen Fielding

Last week we posted about Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, the latest book about Helen Fielding's much-loved heroine. The novel is now available in paperback, and to celebrate we have one copy to give away.

To win, simply send an email with 'Bridget Jones' as the subject header, by Sunday 29th June. Good luck!

What do you do when a girlfriend's 60th birthday party is the same day as your boyfriend's 30th? Is it morally wrong to have a blow-dry when one of your children has head lice? Is technology now the fifth element? Or is that wood? Is sleeping with someone after 2 dates and 6 weeks of texting the same as getting married after 2 meetings and 6 months of letter writing in Jane Austen's day? Pondering these, and other modern dilemmas, Bridget Jones stumbles through the challenges of single-motherhood, tweeting, texting and redisovering her sexuality in what some people rudely and outdatedly call 'middle age'. The long-awaited return of a much-loved character, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is timely, tender, touching, witty, wise and bloody hilarious.

BOOK REVIEW: Shot Through the Heart by Matt Cain

I have a certain love for summer reads filled with glitz, glamour (and a bit of scandal!). They're a guilty pleasure, so I was rather excited to pick up a review copy of Shot Through the Heart, the debut novel from journalist and producer Matt Cain.

Mia Sinclair is known worldwide as the 'First Lady of Love', a nickname she's not entirely happy with. Mainly because the beautiful Hollywood actress struggles to find love in real life - a stark contrast to her on-screen heroines; cute, needy types who always end up falling head over heels. Feeling as though she'll be stuck in romantic roles forever, Mia craves a change - or at least, a nice man who is willing to brave the fame and constant paparazzi that comes with being the love interest of an A-List star. A sacrifice that not a lot of guys are willing to take, as Mia has found out - especially with her latest date.

Meanwhile, paparazzi photographer Leo Henderson is waiting for the shot that will earn him big bucks. Having just broken up with his fame-seeking girlfriend, Leo focuses on getting his next big picture, and it looks as though Mia Sinclair is his next target. British-born and living in sunny LA, Leo's the kind of paparazzo that will stop at nothing to get the ultimate, terrible photo that the magazines will pay thousands for, and with gorgeous, thin star Mia about to give in to a certain temptation, he might just get what he's looking for.

That is, until the pair meet. When Mia agrees to go on a date with Leo in exchange for the photos, purely to stop the awful images from going public, it seems like a decent deal. But when the pair begin to fall for each other, things become slightly difficult. Can an A-List actress and a tabloid snapper be a successful couple - especially in LA and in the constant limelight?

Things begin to get even more tricky when Leo becomes jealous of Mia's new co-star - gorgeous Hollywood actor Billy Spencer. Billy may seem like a man who has it all, but deep down, there are issues. And a huge secret that can never be revealed - unless someone digs deep enough to find it...

Shot Through the Heart is a fun, light read; I picked it up one afternoon and couldn't put it down. I enjoy tales of Hollywood glamour with some dark secrets - and this certainly delivered. The only thing that I didn't like about this book was that the chapters are split to focus on each character, but this happens a bit too often, which did become irritating at first. However, I enjoyed each character's story, seeing how Mia and Leo cope with the pressures of fame, their relationship and of course, their Hollywood roles. If you're a fan of novelists such as Victoria Fox and Rebecca Chance, you might like Shot Through The Heart. It's a great debut.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

BOOK NEWS: You Had Me at Merlot by Lisa Dickenson

There are some great books heading our way in July, one being You Had Me at Merlot by Lisa Dickenson. Lisa's previous novel The Twelve Dates of Christmas won the Novelicious Debut of the Year Award, so we're particularly looking forward to this summer read.

You Had Me At Merlot is a four-part digital romantic comedy, and the first part will be published on 14th July. Read on for the synopsis!

Elle and Laurie are the last ones standing: they're single, they're not having babies any time soon and their weekends aren't filled with joyful meetings about mortgages. For Elle, this is fine - she likes her independent life, she loves her job, and she has no desire to walk down the aisle anytime soon. But Laurie wants love and she wants it now.

So when Laurie begs Elle to come with her on a singles holiday to a beautiful vineyard in Tuscany, Elle is reluctant. You Had Me at Merlot Holidays promises crisp sunshine, fun and a chance to stir up some sizzling romance. Elle has no intention of swapping her perfectly lovely life for someone else's idea of her Mr Perfect, but ten days under the Italian sun with her best friend and lashings of wine? How bad could that be?

You Had Me at Merlot is the kind of love story that will have you crying with laughter one moment and nodding your head in agreement the next. Full of sultry summer nights, hilarious moments and plenty of wine, it will warm even the most cynical of hearts and have you believing in the magic of romance (and the power of a decent glass of Merlot).

Uncovered will be taking part in Lisa Dickenson's blog tour, so be sure to stop by on July 18th!


Monday, 23 June 2014

UPCOMING RELEASE: Cupid's Way by Joanne Phillips

Friday sees the release of Cupid's Way, the new novel by Joanne Phillips (author of The Family Trap and Can't Live Without. In Cupid's Way, Evie Stone sets out to save her grandparents' home, but on meeting CEO Michael, Evie's mission becomes that little bit more difficult...
 
When Evie Stone’s grandparents enlist her help to save their home in Cupid’s Way, Evie is happy to oblige. On the cusp of her thirties, and still disappointingly single, Evie’s so-called dream job with a firm of architects has been driving her crazy for months. What she needs, even more than a new man, is a challenge.

But saving Cupid’s Way won’t be easy. A perfectly preserved Victorian terrace, surrounded by modern estates and retail parks, the street is a proud oasis of quirky characters, cobbled pathways and communal gardens. Unfortunately, it also sits on prime development land worth millions.

Dynamite Construction have the deal in the bag, and soon the residents of Cupid’s Way will be forced to sell up and ship out – CEO Michael Andrews, charismatic and super-successful, has certainly never let sentimentality get in the way of business. At least, he hadn’t until he met Evie Stone.”

INDUSTRY NEWS: Amazon Fire Phone set for release

Kindle fans might be happy at the upcoming release from Amazon - a smartphone containing an in-built Kindle store.
 
According to The Bookseller, the Fire Phone will allow users to access the Kindle store, Audible, and the Kindle Lending Library. Also built into the phone will be Amazon Music, along with 200,000 videos. Fire TV is said to be available 'as soon as possible'.
 
Sadly for those of us in the UK who might fancy reading the latest releases on the Fire Phone, the device is currently only available in the US on pre-order. It's priced at $199 (or $27 a month for the 32GB version). American buyers can pick up a 64GB model for $299, exclusively through AT&T.
 
What do you think of this new device? Will you be purchasing?
 

Friday, 20 June 2014

CELEB NEWS: Sam Bailey memoir to be published

X Factor winner Sam Bailey will be releasing an autobiography after being signed by Blink Publishing, The Bookseller has revealed.

Sam, a former prison officer who shot to fame on last year's X Factor, has a 2015 tour planned, and her autobiography will be the third celebrity memoir to be published by Blink.

Blink's MD, Perminder Mann, said: "An inspiration for many working mums, Sam is proving that nothing is impossible as she embarks on a new chapter in her life. In her autobiography she’ll bring fans up to speed with her life story and talk about her hopes for the future."

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

BLOG TOUR: A Groom With a View by Sophie Ranald

We're very happy to be taking part in the blog tour for A Groom With a View - the new novel by Sophie Ranald - with a fab extract from the book to share with you! Released on June 20th, Sophie's second novel is all about Nick and Pippa, who find themselves engaged and with the looming task of planning a wedding...

     “I love weddings. Love them! In fact I’m thinking of doing some wedding planning for friends in my spare time and maybe making a career out of it later on, when we have children. So I’d be thrilled to have you as my guinea pig,” Katharine said, with what I suppose was meant to come out as a sisterly giggle, but sounded more like a demented cackle to me.
     “Katharine, that’s absolutely lovely of you,” I said feebly. “But really, we want to keep things very low-key. It’s sweet of you to…”
     “Don’t mention it. I would like nothing better than to help. Being part of another person’s special day is a pleasure, it’s a privilege! Now, the first thing you need is my master USB stick.”
     She powered up her laptop and inserted a removable storage device. “This baby holds all the secrets to your perfect day,” she said. “For a year I took it everywhere with me. Everywhere! If I saw a shop window display that captured my imagination, I’d take a photo and save it on here in the ‘Inspiration’ folder. All my quotes are here, under ‘Finance’. And of course everything feeds into the master spreadsheet, which has pages for the week-by-week and day-by-day countdown, with automatic reminders set to be sent to Iain’s, his brother’s, my maid of honour’s and of course my own phone.”
     “That’s very, er, impressive,” I said.
     “Impressive? Pippa, it’s essential. Absolutely essential, if you don’t want your big day to disintegrate into chaos. Now, let’s have a look at my contacts file – that’s the first thing you’ll need because a lot of these people will have been booked up for several months already. You may find yourself having to resort to my B- or even C-list suppliers, but of course even they were thoroughly vetted and you never know, for a February wedding, so long as it’s not actually the fourteenth, some of the A-list might even be free.”
I tried hard not to tune her out. This was important stuff, presumably, if Nick and I were to be saved from wedding disaster.
     “It’s all alphabetised,” she said. “Accessories, bouquets, cakes, dance instructors, evening entertainment, fireworks, groom’s outfits, horse-drawn carriages…”
     “Wow,” I said, interrupting because she looked all set to continue through the remainder of the alphabet.
     “And where did you find your dress, in the end? It’s beautiful.”
     “That’s the fun part.” she clasped her hands. “The dresses! I had to password-protect this folder so Iain couldn’t hack into it and access my secrets.” She scrolled through image after image of almost identical beaded frocks. “Of course, with so little time you may have to go for off-the-peg, but we can give Marissa Beaumont a call and see if there’s any way at all she could squeeze you in. She was my second-choice designer, if Sarah Burton hadn’t been available.”
     I looked at Katharine’s dress. It was gorgeous, the bodice stiff and heavy with sparkly embellishment, the skirt floating in a layers of ethereal chiffon petals. I’m not exactly the world’s most skilled seamstress (in fact the last time I tried to sew on a button I was trying to watch Breaking Bad at the same time, and ended up sewing it and the shirt to the arm of the sofa) and I had no idea how long it takes to make a dress. There were an awful lot of beads on Katharine’s, but they wouldn’t have to be sewn on one at a time, surely? And four months? I took a sip of champagne.
     “Katharine,” I said. My voice came out a bit croaky, so I cleared my throat and tried again. “Katharine, how long did all this actually take you?”
     She gave her light, tinkling laugh again. It sounded a bit like other day at work, when Guido dropped a stack of roasting tins on to the kitchen floor.
     “Iain proposed to me on the first of September, two years ago. Of course I’d already made some plans before then,” her voice dropped to a whisper, “Don’t pretend you haven’t, it’s just between us girls! But after that, it took us a few months to find our venue, exploring different places most weekends. Then things got really quiet for a while, and I only spent maybe a day a week researching things and writing my wedding blog – there’s a link to it here – before the dress fittings and the other final preparations started to kick in a year or so ago. But you don’t have anything like as long as I did, so it will all be much more intense.”
Much more intense? Jesus! What had I let myself in for?
     “One thing I will advise.” Katharine wagged a manicured finger at me. “Don’t let it take over your relationship! Remember, your hubby-to-be is the most important person in your life. Even more important than your dress designer! I made a rule not to mention the wedding to Iain one day a week – Thursday was my day, because I have a regular breakfast meeting and Iain plays squash in the evenings and we don’t actually see each other anyway, so it wasn’t as hard as I expected. We also made Tuesdays our date nights. I’d cook us a special low-cal dinner and we’d have a glass of bubbly and then it was time for nookie. You know what men are like – that’s the best way to keep them sweet. If there was anything particularly expensive I wanted for the wedding, I’d be sure to raise the subject on… Tuesday,” she finished triumphantly.
     “Right,” I said. “Date nights. What a lovely idea.”
     “And while we’re on the subject,” said Katharine (and I thought, no, please, please get off the subject),        “You might want to think of a sex diet before the big day.”
     I let out an involuntary shriek of laughter. “A what diet?”
     “Sex diet. No nookie for six weeks before the wedding. Iain grumbled about it at the time, but it was so worth it. It made our wedding night much more magical in that way. Almost like the first time.”
     As far as I could tell, the only possible consequences of that for us would be Nick wanking himself into an early grave, or things on the wedding night coming to a disappointingly premature conclusion. But I said,      “Thanks for sharing that with me, Katharine. That’s really interesting and special. I’ll keep it in mind. Now what about shoes?” I might be a bit of a dead loss when it comes to flowers and stuff, but there’s nothing I like better than a good long chat about shoes.
     Just as Katharine was about to open the folder entitled ‘Shoe inspiration’ (I could see that it contained more than two hundred files and I was leaning forward eagerly for a look), Iain stuck his head round the door.
     “Come on, ladies,” he said. “Tear yourselves away from the wedding master plan! We’re about ready to see the photos and the video.”
     Katharine ejected the USB stick and pressed it into my hand, actually squeezing my fingers shut around it.
     “Guard. This. With. Your. Life,” she said.

A Groom With a View by Sophie Ranald
Nick and Pippa have been an item since forever, but they’ve always said marriage isn’t for them. That’s until, in a moment of mad romance, they find themselves engaged.

Pippa knows she’s no bridezilla – and she’s definitely not expecting Nick to get swept off his feet by plans for floral centrepieces, vintage cake-stands and colour coordinated everything. Then Nick’s mum gets involved, secrets from Pippa’s past threaten to surface, and planning their perfect day begins to tear Nick and Pippa apart.

This eagerly anticipated second novel from Sophie Ranald is a funny and poignant romantic romp. If you love Tracy Bloom, Mhairi MacFarlane and Sophie Kinsella, then say “I do” to A Groom with a View.

NEW RELEASE: Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy released in paperback

Helen Fielding's famous heroine Bridget Jones returned last year, though this time as a fifty-something widow, thus causing mass fan upset at the death of Mark Darcy (hmph!). Still, the latest instalment of Bridget's hilarious diaries proved to be a great read, and tomorrow, Mad About the Boy will be released in paperback.

What do you do when a girlfriend's 60th birthday party is the same day as your boyfriend's 30th? Is it morally wrong to have a blow-dry when one of your children has head lice? Is technology now the fifth element? Or is that wood? Is sleeping with someone after 2 dates and 6 weeks of texting the same as getting married after 2 meetings and 6 months of letter writing in Jane Austen's day? Pondering these, and other modern dilemmas, Bridget Jones stumbles through the challenges of single-motherhood, tweeting, texting and redisovering her sexuality in what some people rudely and outdatedly call 'middle age'. The long-awaited return of a much-loved character, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is timely, tender, touching, witty, wise and bloody hilarious.

Monday, 16 June 2014

BOOK NEWS: It Had to be You by Ellie Adams

It had to be You by Ellie Adams (who is also Dirty Tricks author Jo Carnegie) is published in late August, and focuses on newly (and rather badly)-dumped Lizzy...

The worst break-up ever could be the best thing that has ever happened to her.

Lizzy Spellman has been dumped. At a party.While wearing a Henry VIII costume. By the man she thought was The One. Someone even filmed it, so now she's a massive YouTube hit sensation too.

Just when she thinks things can't get any worse, she meets the rudest, most cynical man in the world, and gets a new mission in life. To prove him wrong.

Love does exist, and she's going to find it . . .

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

BOOK NEWS (PLUS GIVEAWAY!): Bloomsbury's new teen series, 'If Only...'

Bloomsbury YA authors Mandy Hubbard and Kristin Rae are the first to be published in a new series of teen romances, titled 'If Only'. New titles Fool Me Twice and Wish You Were Italian will be followed by Not In The Script, which is due for release later this year.

The If Only line will add three new titles each year, and will also include one-off novels as well as series. US publishing director Cindy Loh told Publishers Weekly: “When we first started talking about repositioning our young adult contemporary romances several years ago, I immediately harkened back to those really great series of the 1980s, like Sweet Dreams, First Kiss, and Wildfire. I remember devouring those novels, and I think that today’s teens who love romances do the same – and they want to read more and more of them. But in a market where YA is driven by massive megabrands along the lines of Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Divergent, it’s hard for a stand-alone contemporary romance to make noise and get attention.”

The books will be aspirational and suitable for readers as young as 12.

Fool Me Twice by Mandy Hubbard
Last summer, Mackenzie and Landon were the perfect couple. And then he dumped her and broke her heart. Fast-forward a year and they’re back at their summer jobs at Serenity Ranch and Spa with Mack and her best friend Bailey, spending their time fantasising about making voodoo dolls and playing childish pranks on Landon.

Luckily for Mack, the perfect opportunity presents itself. Landon takes a nasty fall and suddenly he’s stuck in the past – literally. His most recent memory is of last summer, when they were together, so now he’s calling Mack pet names and hanging all over her. 

The plan is simple: keep Landon at arm’s length, manipulate him so he’s the one falling in love, and then, BAM, dump him in the most epic revenge plot in the history of everdom. There’s only one teensy problem: Mack can’t fall for Landon a second time.

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
The summer before senior year of high school. It’s supposed to be one of the biggest summers of her life, but Pippa is headed to an art program she has no interest in. The one saving grace is it’s in Italy. And when the opportunity strikes, she decides to ditch the program and travel Italy accomplishing her own list of goals. Things like swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, eating a whole pizza in one sitting…and falling in love with an Italian boy!

As she explores the famous cities of Rome and Pompeii, Pippa finds herself falling for two boys: a local guy she knows is nothing but trouble and a cute American archaeology student who keeps disappearing and reappearing at the strangest moments. Will Pippa find her true love before her parents find out the truth about her summer program?

GIVEAWAY: Win one of two If Only novels!

We have a copy of Fool Me Twice and Wish You Were Italian to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, simply send us an email with 'If Only' as the subject header. The winner will be chosen at random and notified. (Giveaway is open to UK residents only).
Good luck!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

BOOK REVIEW: A Proper Family Holiday by Chrissie Manby

Given that summer has finally arrived, it's been the perfect opportunity to indulge in some holiday reading. As a fan of Chrissie Manby (bestselling author of many novels including Spa Wars, Getting Over Mr Right, and previous holiday-themed novel What I Did on My Holidays), I've been waiting for A Proper Family Holiday for quite some time, and was excited to finally receive it (on a lovely sunny weekend, too!)

Magazine writer Chelsea Benson isn't best pleased at the prospect of a family holiday. It may sound harmless enough - fun, even - to most, but a week in not-so-glorious Lanzarote with her parents, sister that she hasn't spoken to in two years, a grandad with dementia and her stroppy fifteen-year-old niece - as well as her overly-excitable 6-year-old nephew - is Chelsea's idea of pure hell. Forced into an all-inclusive package holiday that would make her uber-posh co-workers on Society magazine recoil in horror, Chelsea has to face up to the reality of heading off to an unglamorous destination with the Benson clan to celebrate mother Jacqui's 60th birthday.

Meanwhile, Ronnie Benson isn't enjoying herself either. What is supposed to be a relaxing week in the sun isn't relaxing for Ronnie, who seems to be doing exactly what she does back home - cleaning, fretting, and dealing with the constant demands of partner Mark and their two children. The arrival of stuck-up sister Chelsea could only make things worse. After all, Chelsea and the posh London ways that she's become accustomed to can only rub salt in the wounds of Ronnie, who had to give up her own big-city dreams when she fell pregnant with Sophie.

Jacqui has been looking forward to this holiday for ages and hopes that the sisters can stop their feud and finally get on - after all, there's a life-changing announcement that's soon to be made...

While Chelsea is trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation with the family she now seems completely unrelated to, she finds herself in the presence of handsome Adam, though sadly, with him is his terribly spoilt daughter Lily. Lily could give Veruca Salt a run for her money, and she really dislikes Chelsea, doing anything she can to get her out of the way. And when Chelsea finds herself forced to babysit nephew Jack, the competition can only get worse. Perhaps a trouble-free holiday for the Bensons was a bit too ambitious an idea?

I absolutely loved A Proper Family Holiday; it yet another fast-paced, fun and hilarious summer read from Chrissie Manby. The idea of being trapped on holiday with a feuding family is just too fun a premise to pass up. The book focuses on Chelsea, Ronnie, Sophie and Jacqui - and even Grandad Bill (whose part of the story is extremely funny indeed). I liked, and disliked at times, each of the sisters in equal measure, and so it was fun to see how their holidays, and own stories, began to unfold.

If you're looking for some great summer reads, definitely add this one to your beach bag!

Rating: 5/5

Also, the Benson family will return in A Proper Family Christmas, which is due for release in November.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

UNCOVERED PICKS: Five June Releases

Summer is finally here, so it's time to start stocking up on some great reads for the sunny days (okay, and the not so sunny ones!) June is full of exciting new releases, and it's difficult to pick just five. Here's a quick look at what's out in this month...

The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me by Lucy Robinson
Sally is an incredible singer but she sings only in her wardrobe where nobody can hear her. She'd rather join a nudist colony than sing in public. That is until she ventures to New York where a wild and heady summer of love and loss changes her forever. No longer able to hide in the shadows, Sally must return home to London to fulfill a promise she cannot break - to share her voice.

But just as she's about to embark on her new life, a beautiful man turns up on Sally's doorstep bearing a sheepish smile and a mysterious hand-written message.

How did he find her? Why is he here? Does he hold the truth to what happened back in New York? And, with him back on the scene, will she still have the courage to step into the spotlight?

A Proper Family Holiday by Chrissie Manby
Could you survive a week-long holiday with your entire family? Newly single magazine journalist Chelsea Benson can't think of anything worse.

Your grubby small nephew torpedoing any chance of romance with the dishy guy you met on the plane...

Your eighty-five-year-old granddad chatting up ladies at the hotel bar...

Getting nothing but sarcastic comments from your older sister, who's always been the family favourite...

And all this is before your parents drop their bombshell.

Is a week enough time for the Bensons to put their differences aside and have some fun? Or is this their last ever proper family holiday?

OMG Baby! by Emma Garcia
This ISN'T a book about babies. It's not about sleepless nights, nappies or nurseries. It IS about two people, one unexpected pregnancy and a question...

Viv and Max were best friends for years, then they were lovers and then it all went wrong. Now finally they are to be reunited. Viv feels sick. Not just with nerves at seeing Max again, but because there's a small chance she might...quite possibly...most definitely...be pregnant.

It's thrilling. But also terrifying. Most of the time they can hardly look after themselves, let alone a baby.

And then Viv's estranged mother reappears on the scene and they all end up sharing a bedsit...and hell breaks loose.

The No-Kids Club by Talli Roland
At almost forty, Clare Donoghue is living child-free and loving it.

Then her boyfriend says he wants kids, breaking off their promising relationship. And it’s not just boyfriends: one by one, her formerly carefree friends are swallowed up in a nonstop cycle of play dates and baby groups. So Clare decides it’s time for people who don’t have children to band together. And so the No-Kids Club is born.

As the group comes together—Anna, who’s seeking something to jumpstart a stale marriage, and Poppy, desperate for a family but unable to conceive—Clare’s hoping to make the most of the childless life with her new friends.

Will the No-Kids Club be Clare’s route to happiness, or will the single life lose its sparkle?

Don't Tell the Boss by Anna Bell
When newlywed Penny turns her hand to some casual wedding planning she only wants to help other women afford the big day of their dreams. 

But taming bridezillas turns out to be a full-time occupation, and what began as a hobby becomes a personal and professional nightmare. 

Soon Penny is struggling to keep her day job and prevent her own marriage from collapsing under the strain: tired, stressed and knee-deep in ivory satin, is Penny's life and livelihood hanging by a thread?

Sunday, 1 June 2014

COVER NEWS: Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella

Much-loved heroine Becky Bloomwood returns in the next instalment of Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series, and the cover for the new novel, due to published in October, was recently announced! Here are the covers...

 UK:


US:


Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) has stars in her eyes. She and her daughter, Minnie, have joined husband Luke in LA—city of herbal smoothies, multimillion-dollar yoga retreats, and the lure of celebrity. Luke is there to help manage the career of famous actress Sage Seymour—and Becky is convinced she is destined to be Sage’s personal stylist, and go from there to every A-list celebrity in Hollywood! But things become complicated when Becky joins the team of Sage’s arch rival. How will charming and supportive Luke deal with this conflict? Is it possible that what Becky wants most will end up hurting those she loves most? Shopaholic fans old and new will devour Sophie Kinsella’s newest adventure!

What do you think? Will you be reading Shopaholic to the Stars? Let us know!
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