Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Review of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? by Claudia Carroll

A wonderful story of Annie and Dan and who've been together since they were childhood sweethearts and everyone sees them as the perfect couple.  However, on the inside of their relationship Annie feels completely and utterly ignored and taken for granted, not only by workaholic husband and vet Dan, but also by his Mother who has Annie running around doing erands all over the place, and other people who just use their house (which used to belong to Dan's Mom and Dad and is also home to the vetinary practice that Dan's father owned) as their own.  They live in a very small Irish village where everyone knows their business, they have no privacy whatsoever, Dan's mother disapproves of everthing she tries to do in her own house and everyone treats her like a skivvy, and generally takes advantage.  There is no longer any spark or excitement in their relationship and despite her attempts to get Dan to spend time with her, he just can't tear himself away from the practice. 

So when Annie agent calls and she get's the opportunity to audition for a part in a play, she's delighted to go of to Dublin to the audition where she meets up again with Liz, an old acting friend and she starts to feel just a little bit like her old life is returning and that she has more to offer.   Annie has to wait for a good while to see if she gets the part and during this time, Dan didn't even spend Christmas dinner with her, as another "emergency" cropped up and she's left with his malingering friends and family.  Due to Dan's habit of not listening to her and finding the fact that someone's horse has got the trots, far more important than paying attention to his long suffering wife, it takes her what seems like an age to tell him that the's been offered the part which is on Broadway and that they have asked her to go to New York for a year to take the part! 

She really wants to take this opportunity as she has put her life on hold for a while to please everyone else so with Dan's blessing, she takes off and they try to conduct a long distance relationship an ocean apart.  Does she miss Dan as much as she thought she would or does her new exciting life, experiencing a new city, living on her own, meeting new people and making new friends change what she wants?

To find out how it pans out, you'll just to read it yourself as I'm not giving away anymore of the plot.  But it's an emotional journey which I feel I suffered myself!   Once again, I lost myself in the plot of this book, becoming the main character and experiencing her feelings and thoughts in this new life which is so different to her old one.

A very cleverly written book by Claudia Carroll, and a message to all the couples out there who do take each for granted because there are other more important things in your life that seem to take priority over spending quality time with each other.  

Claudia's writing flows so easily and it's such an enjoyable book, that you don't notice how much you've read, and you just want to keep on reading.  It's lively, it's colourful, it's realistic, it's exhilarating, it's just thoroughly brilliant.   You can probably gather by now that I loved it!  I've never been to New York so it was also about learning about and being a tourist in a fabulous city for me too and it's now firmly planted on my "places to go" list.   Again, another new author to me whose work I found utterly pleasurable and I will certainly be looking out for her other books now.  This is her eighth book. 

Claudia Carroll was born and still lives in Dublin and not only is a writer, but has also worked as a theatre and TV actress.  Her first novel was published in 2004 and became a massive hit and she has since gone on to write a string of successful books. 

You can find out more about Claudia and her fantastic novels at

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Review of The Guardian Angel's Journal by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

WOW!  This incredible book had me wrestling my innermost emotions all the way through! 

The beautifully designed purple and gold sparkly cover (those of you know me, know that this is the perfect combination for me!) drew me in immediately to start this fascinating story. 

At one point, I wanted to put it down and not read any more as I found certain parts of it really distressing.  On the other hand, I desperately needed to find out what was going to happen to these amazing characters in this book. 

At 40 years old, Margot Delacroix dies and is sent back to earth as her own Guardian Angel!  She has to re-experience her life along with all her mistakes and regrets and record it all through her wings.  She is told that she cannot change any of her actions, but must use them to learn lessons.  She herself had a really tough life and some of the experiences she has been through, are so dreadfully sad and traumatic that you physically feel her pain and want to leap to her defence! 

She relives her own life and memories from birth and some things which she couldn't even remember happening and when her teenage son gets into serious trouble she realises that its her actions and behaviour that have turned him into the troublesome boy he has become.  She tries her hardest to put this right and tries to save him from his fate with stunning consequences and heartbreaking decisions along the way. 

A tough book to summarize without giving a lot of the plot away, but it was a mesmerising, fascinating story.  A Mother's love for her son is the most amazing thing and to feel her emotions the way that Carolyn describes them in this book, was just unbelievable for me.  Losing my own Mom a few years ago, made the experiences in this story made it all the more personal and heartwrenching for me and I will openly admit to sobbing my heart out for the last part of the book. 

The Guardian Angel's Journal makes you question your belief in both life after death and angels and even demons.  I know I do, but for those sceptics out there, I think it would certainly be putting questions into your mind too.  For those people who have ever loved and lost someone, this book can give you an insight into what your loved one might be doing right now!

A fantastic read, delving deep into your most innermost and private feelings.  I certainly hope that most of the distressing encounters that she writes about in this book are not from experience!  Carolyn is a truly outstanding writer, and has won numerous awards for poetry and I seriously can't wait for her next novel to come out. 

Carolyn was born in 1978 in Belfast and now lives in the North East of England with her husband and three children. 

She has been writing since a really age.  Her second novel is to be published in 2012 and again explores the relationship between the spiritual and mortal world. 

Her website is

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Review of There's A Lion In My Bathroom by Giles Paley-Phillips

There's A Lion In My Bathroom is a hilarious collection of nonsense poetry (his words not mine!) by the very talented Mr Paley-Phillips. 

This book is full of delightful and amusing poems which are accompanied by fabulous illustrations from Matthew Dawson. 

This is a book which can be shared by both adults and children of all ages, that will bring a smile to your face and brighten up your day with its humerous words and general sillyness.  It brought a lot of laughs to Oliver, my nearly four year old, and I have to admit to having quite a titter myself.   They are both daft and great fun. 

The book is full of both long and short poems and the shorter ones are really easy to remember.  My personal favourite was a poem called Falling Apart which I thought was hilarious.  Oliver's favourite was Bagshaw which he fell about laughing at and we had to read twenty million times (OK - well that may be a slight exaggeration but it sure felt like it!)

This book would be a great addition to anyone's bookshelf and a pleasure to pick up at anytime to put a huge great grin on your face.  Well done Giles for another pleasurable collection piece. 

A percentage of the profits from each copy of the book which is sold is being donated to Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research so buying a copy is also helping to raise funds which is a charity very close to Giles' heart. 

I have been lucky to also review The Fearsome Beastie by Giles and my review can be found here

Giles agreed to have a chat with me for the site to tell me more about him and his books and our interview can be found here

Giles lives in sunny East Sussex with his wife Michelle and his two young sons Elijah and Sonny.  (I bet he must be the best bed time story teller ever!)   He is a Crystal Palace fan and in his spare time plays in a band.  If you would like to learn more about Giles, please check out his blog site here

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Review - Men, Money and Chocolate by Menna Van Praag

Oooh - I do love a book that gets me thinking about myself and how I can make improvements to my life, to make it better and my goodness, this was certainly one of those!  It's a novel but a self-help one, a genre which will probably only make sense when you read it. 

Maya owns a cafe, which she inherited from her Mom, and she made her a promise that she would look after it, but she's really unhappy there.  It's just not her thing so she takes comfort from the cakes that she sells.  She dreams of and has always wanted to be a writer, but can't find any inspiration at all and after running the cafe all day, doesn't have the time or the inclination.  She also thinks that if she finds the perfect man, all her dreams will come true and her life will be complete.

One day, a mysterious old lady called Rose comes into the cafe and invites Maya to join her at her table.  She declines at first, but then thinks that she's not busy and has nothing to lose and the words that Rose speaks are the most life changing, motivational and inspiring words that she's ever heard!  Rose advises that before you can love another person in your life, you have to learn to love yourself.   She tells her to listen to her heart, and to open up to spirituality.  Then love someone without needing them and then that person becomes an enhancement to the fabulously happy life you already have.  She tells her to follow her dreams.  This leads to her seeking further spiritual advice which leads to further confirmation and encouragement to create the life that she would like and deserves. 

It's a wonderfully positive lesson that you can follow your dreams, but you have to be bold and courageous and make them come true yourself, and not rely on or depend upon anyone else to make them for you.  The world is out there for the taking, you just have to go right on and take it and make the most of everything.  Also when you learn to love yourself, you will attract love to you. 

It's written in such a beautiful way that's just so easy to read, and so interesting, that you don't want to stop following Maya's life changing and fulfilling story to find out what happens in the end.  My mind was certainly working overtime as I came to the last page!  It also made me pick up her next book 'Happier Than She's Even Been' straight away and make a start on it, not only to find out more about Maya's story, but also to see what other lessons I can learn!  

Menna Van Praag is a freelance writer, Oxford graduate, journalist and chocolate aficionado.  She lives in Cambridge with her husband Artur, and they are working on making their dreams of opening a bookshop-cafe together come true.  Men, Money and Chocolate is Meena's first book.

You can find out more about Menna and her work at at http://www.mennavanpraag,com/ and more about this wonderful book of hers at

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Review - Dead Game by Jennifer Chase

This was an excellently written, mystery and suspense novel with a bit of romance thrown in.  The writing of Dead Game by Jennifer Chase reminded me very much of James Patterson's early writing.  I'm sure that Emily Stone is quite capable of keeping her head above water and will be appearing in many novels to come just like Patterson's infamous Alex Cross.

The main character Emily Stone is a fabulous character; an ex-cop who is sparky, brave and very determined to help people who've been wronged.  She and Rick, also an ex-cop and her partner in both crime discovery and love, spend their lives searching for very bad people who've done very bad things to children.  They find the victims and the perpetrators and send all their evidence to the police then stand back so that the police can mop up!  The police don't know who is sending the information and say that it is coming from a "phantom detective".  Emily has a secret past and the police think that she is actually dead so they'll never know who is doing this amazing vigilante work. 

When the nephew of an ex partner of Rick's contacts him to say that his Uncle is dead and that he thinks its murder, they try to help him and they stumble across a series of murders which is extremely sick and gruesome and try to find out who the serial killer is who is doing these awful acts of slaughter.   

If you like a good murder mystery and suspense thriller, with lots of action and a bit of love thrown in,  then this book is definitely for you.  It's an exciting, thrilling, spine-tingling read which really does have you gripping the edge of your seat and wondering what the hell is going to happen in the end.  And talking of the end, I love the way that Jennifer leaves you with a bit of a teaser, waiting for the next book to come along.   This is the second Emily Stone novel, and I am SO looking forward to reading more about this fabulously exhilarating character.  

The short chapters make it so easy to 'just read a bit more' before you put it down and pick it up at every opportunity.  I only started it yesterday, was shocked when after reading it in bed this morning, realised it was much later than I thought and that I'd better get a shimmy on, to get to work on time and left me delighted when I got home from work tonight to find out that there was no-one in and I could sit in the garden in the blazing sunshine and finish it!  I was determined I wasn't moving till I found out what happened! 

Jennifer Chase holds a bachelor's degree in police forensics and a master's degree in criminology. She also holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling and is a member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists so she definitely knows what she's talking about.  Compulsion is the first novel that stars Emily Stone and I love that Jennifer has a section of her website that gives you some background to Emily, this can be found here.  Jennifer lives in California where is working on her next novel.    Her website can be found here

Monday, 1 August 2011

Review - Turning The Tide by Christine Stovell

What a fab book!  I thoroughly enjoyed the novel Turning the Tide by Christine Stovell.  I started reading it on the train and didn’t realise that I’d got all the way to my destination till I realised I was the last one on the train, as I was totally engrossed in it. 

The picture on the front was the first thing that drew me in.  Christine told me that it was based on Cromer on the East Coast, a place I’ve never had the pleasure of, but the beautiful picture on the front of this fabulous book has definitely put this destination on my “Places I Need To Go” list. 

The next thing that drew me in, was the great storyline.  Harry has worked hard for the last five years keeping the boat yard going that was left to her after her father died and her mother upped and left the village of Little Spitmarsh.  When dishy property entrepreneur Matthew Corrigan comes along to develop a local building into a gorgeous new restaurant, Harry and Matthew come to a full stop as they can’t agree on anything at all.  Matthew wants to develop the town into a place that people want to come and visit and Harry wants it to stay the way it is.  The town is on Matthew’s side and most of the people are glad to hear and see his plans take shape and are keen to move forward but Harry doesn’t seem to be able to move forward in her business or her life.  Matthew tries to make friends with this appealing yet miserable tomboy but she can’t find it within herself to be nice to him even though she is starting to find herself physically attracted to him. 

Do you think they make friends or remain enemies?  Do you think that Harry can ever get over her grief over losing her father?  Do you think she can ever accept Matthew into the town that she knows and loves?  And who is the mysterious stranger that seems to be helping Harry yet working for Matthew at the same time? You need to read the book to find out, it’s well worth it.  You know I won’t give away a lot of the plot line but it’s definitely a recommended read.  

It is hard to believe that this is Christine’s first novel, it flows so well, and the characters that she has created are truly believable and are incredibly nice people that you’d like to spend time with (I had a bit of a soft spot for Matthew to tell the truth and compared him to Nigel Harman!)  Her vibrant and colourful descriptions of the village and the surrounding area really bring it to life and make you feel part of the community.  You can almost smell the salty sea and breathe in the fresh air as you take a walk along the sea front in this delightful little town. 

I shall certainly be looking forward to more work from Christine Stovell.  A thoroughly pleasurable read with a fabulous ending that didn’t disappoint! A book that I found very difficult to put down for longer than five minutes at a time! Congratulations Christine on your wonderful first book.  Your Dad must be very proud of you while he is looking down on you from above!

Christine graduated from UEA and took various jobs writing for the public sector.  When she lost her Dad to cancer, it made her realise that if she wanted to fulfil her dream of publishing a novel, she had to put her writing first. 

She now lives on the west Wales coast and is very proud to be part of the Choc Lit group of writers.  She is published by Honno Welsh Women’s Press.  Find out more about Christine and her work at

Review - California Dreamers by Belinda Jones

Belinda Jones has an amazing talent of picking you up and transporting you to the place that her novels are set and into the body of the star role.  In all of her previous books (and yes, I’ve read every single one of them!) she has been able to do this, and this novel which is her 10th, hasn’t disappointed me at all.  

This time I’ve been to California!  Wooohooo!

It’s a place I’ve always wanted to go and now Belinda has allowed me to see the vibrancy and magnificence of this amazing place!  I’ve met glamorous movie stars, fabulous film crews and daft dogs!  I’ve sat in and been glammed up in the chair of make-up artist to the stars and have visited the Max Factor Hollywood Museum and learnt loads about its interesting history.  I’ve cruised down
Hollywood Boulevard like
 Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, and I’ve seen the most breathtaking views over magnificent blue seas.  I’ve walked a dog along the most beautiful beach and taken in stunning sunrises and sunsets!  I’ve also stayed in the most unbelievable hotels and even visited film sets.  And I’ve stayed at a fabulous castle – Hearst Castle – what an incredible place.  And I have to say, I never, want to leave!

All in all, I’ve had another wonderful holiday courtesy of Belinda.  She’s already taken me around the world to so many great places.   This is another cracker of  a book by this fabulous writer.  She writes in such a descriptive way that you feel like you really can reach out and pick the fruit off the tree, and touch the face of the leading man. 

I should probably mention Stella (aka me!) the leading lady in this book, Marina, the famous actress and diva (or is she?) and Milo, the gorgeous film star who turns everyone’s head that he comes into contact with.  They’re all great characters with their own hang ups and issues and they all gel well together. 

One of the great things about having such a venue as Hearst Castle star in this novel is the fact that you can go to their actual website (as it is a real place) and take a virtual tour around the estate.  This brings it all to life for me and makes it even more of a reality.  Try it out, you’ll love it too! I promise!

Belinda Jones spent a number of years as a magazine journalist and travel editor before she started to write novels inspired by her adventures. Her first novel - DIVAS LAS VEGAS - was voted number two in the New Woman Bloody Good Read Awards while her personal love quest - ON THE ROAD TO MR RIGHT - became a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. 

Belinda divides her time between Los Angeles, London and her boyfriend's ever changing naval base.  Read more about this lovely lady and her other fabulous novels check out