Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Reading Chest Summer Book Review Challenge

With the summer holidays upon us, are you looking for ways to inspire your four to nine year olds to keep on reading right through to September?

Reading Chest, the UK’s only through-the-post rental service, is running a free-to-enter competition for children to write and post online their reviews of all the popular reading scheme books, most of which are used in primary schools across the UK.

Every child who writes 3 or more reviews on the Reading Chest website will receive an exclusive Reading Chest certificate and pencil, and the very best reviews in each age category (4-5 years, 6-7 years and over 8s) as judged by Children’s author and poet John Foster, will receive 6 months free membership to Reading Chest and a signed copy of one of John Foster’s books.

Liz Walker, Director of Reading Chest commented, “I’m always looking for ways to inspire my own kids to keep on reading, even when on holiday, and I hope this will give all parents a helpful incentive. Just six weeks without regular reading practice can see some children slip back a couple of reading levels by the time they return to school for the autumn term, which can be so frustrating for both the child and their parents, after all the hard work they’ve put in during term time,” she concluded.

The well known children’s author & poet, John Foster is passionate about encouraging literacy skills in younger children. “I am delighted to have been invited to judge the Reading Chest Summer Book Review Challenge, as it gives children the opportunity not only to read widely during the summer holidays but also challenges them to think about the books they have read and to express their views in writing,” Foster commented.

To enter the competition, all you need to do is log on to and click on the ‘Books and Reviews’ page to write your first review. Children may already be familiar with some of Reading Chest’s books from school or local libraries.

Reading Chest specialises in reading schemes used in primary schools across the UK and works in a similar way to DVD rental services. For a monthly membership fee starting at £9.95, books tailored to your child’s individual requirements will be delivered direct to your door, complete with a pre-paid return envelope.

Also, Reading Chest are running a summer promotion, offering new members £5 off their first month’s subscription to Reading Chest. Simply use the discount code SUMMER2012 when signing up at

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Guest Post - Emma Burstall - Author of The Darling Girls

Today on my blog, I'm joined by the lovely Emma Burstall, author of The Darling Girls, Gym and Slimline and Never Close Your Eyes.
Emma began her career as a journalist on national newspapers and women’s magazines. Her first two novels, Gym and Slimline and Never Close Your Eyes, are published by Preface (Random House) and have been translated into several languages.
Now Emma has just launched The Darling Girls on Kindle. This is a moving story about love, loss and the prevailing power of female friendship. Three very different women, all in love with the same man, meet for the first time at his funeral. Gradually they start to uncover secrets about him that cause them totally to re-think their lives and relationships. Can they separate the truth from the lies and learn to trust – and even love - again?
Sounds fab doesn't it?!
I know that I'm really looking forward to reading this book. This is what top UK TV presenter Lorraine Kelly says about it:
‘What a terrific read! I loved this honest, absorbing story. I couldn't put it down. Every word rang true and I really cared about the characters. A complete gem of a book!'
If you'd like to find out more about Emma, check out her website 
I'm now going to hand you over to Emma who is going to ask three author friends some questions about what it’s like being a novelist and how they got into it:
Alice Peterson is the author of Kindle bestsellers Monday to Friday Man and Ten Years On, both published by Quercus, as well as You, Me and Him, Look The World In The Eye and Another Alice.
Emma says: ‘Hi Alice. Thanks so much for coming along! How and when did you start writing?’
‘I started writing in an unusual way. Aged 18, I was on the verge of signing a tennis scholarship to the USA when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a painful and incurable autoimmune condition. Overnight my life changed, and I have never picked up a racket since, a sadness that will always be with me.

In my early 20s, after returning from Bristol University, I had to have a series of operations for my RA, so finding a job was difficult and I was terrified of my uncertain future. Thankfully a friend of my father’s suggested I write my own story. He said RA was such a misunderstood illness and perhaps a book could raise awareness for this condition. I owe him so much, as this was the beginning of my writing career and my love for tennis was revived. ‘A Will to Win’ was published my Macmillan in 2001 and has since been republished as ‘Another Alice’ in 2009.’

‘What do you love about being an author?’

‘I love the freedom and lifestyle. I love the fact that I am my own boss, so if I want to take a day off to see a friend I can make up for the time over a weekend or evening. If I feel like a break from London I can pack my laptop and head home to my parents, only an hour and a half away. I love the fact it’s meant I can get a dog. I’ve always wanted one, so five years ago I bought Darcy, a Lucas Terrier, who has changed my life. I have met so many new friends in the park, and this in turn really helped me during a writers block period - in that it inspired me to write one of my novels, ‘Monday to Friday Man’.’

‘What do you dislike about being an author?’

‘The loneliness. It is a solitary occupation, especially when I live alone. I have to be disciplined, and that’s OK – I’m not tempted in any way to turn on daytime TV, but there are times when I struggle to get inspired. Sometimes the day can seem too long, with no company. I think it’s essential to break up your day with something; I either go for a swim or meet a friend for coffee. This is why my dog walking is so important - it’s my office talk and sets me up for the day ahead.’

‘What are you reading right now?’

‘A State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. It’s a mystery/suspense that was chosen by my book club. I think, so far, it’s going to be good!’

‘What’s your favourite book?’

‘Pride and Prejudice (hence Darcy my dog). I love Jane Austen. I never tire of her and just love this story. I think she was a master of drama and characterisation.’

Janey Fraser’s latest novel is THE AU PAIR , published by Arrow. Her previous novel for Arrow was called THE PLAYGROUP. As Sophie King, she has written five other novels, including the best-selling THE SCHOOL RUN.
Emma says: ‘Hi Janey, can you tell me, how and when did you first start writing?’
‘I’ve written for as long as I can remember. My mother used to say that I started writing stories as soon as I had a pencil in my hand. My first published piece appeared in June & Schoolfriend in the sixties. It was a letter describing how I was invited to the Lord Mayor’s show in London by our next door neighbour who was mayor of Harrow. My next published piece was in the Harrow Observer where I won a poetry competition in the seventies. After that, I wrote for my university magazine (Reading) and then became a journalist. My first book (non-fiction) was published in 1991 and my first novel in 2005. Since then I have had seven more published. My latest novel is called THE AU PAIR and is under my new pen name Janey Fraser. It’s about a mum who sets up an au pair agency around her kitchen table; a French girl in search of her father; and a widower whose eight year old daughter drives away each au pair until she finds the perfect match.’
‘What do you love about being an author?’
The ability to escape into another world and find people who were in my head, even though I hadn’t realised it.’
‘What do you dislike about being an author?’
‘All the admin that goes with it and cuts down my writing time.’
‘What are you reading right now?’
‘Dare I say? Fifty Shades of Grey! I had to see what all the fuss is about. I’m only on chapter three but I couldn’t resist reading bits out to my husband in bed the other night....’
‘What’s your favourite book?’
‘ Jane Eyre. I loved it as a child, probably because it was my name and I loved the idea of a young girl marrying a moody, broody hero who turned out to be a bit of a softy.’
Talli Roland's debut novel The Hating Game was short-listed for Best Romantic Read at the UK's Festival of Romance, while her second, Watching Willow Watts, was selected as an Amazon Customer Favourite. Her novels have also been chosen as top books of the year by industry review websites and have been bestsellers in Britain and the United States. Construct A Couple is her latest release.

Emma: ‘Hi Talli, thanks for coming along. How and when did you start writing?’
I’ve always enjoyed writing – it was the reason I trained as a journalist – and I’d thought about trying to get a novel published, but it wasn’t until my thirties that I seriously started writing fiction. Over the next couple years, I wrote four ‘practice’ novels and learnt a lot! When the opportunity came to publish non-fiction travel guides, I jumped. Even though non-fiction wasn’t really what I wanted to do, I knew it could teach me a lot about the publishing process and maybe even help me get a foot in the door for my fiction. And it did! I now have four novels published, and I’m working on my fifth.’
‘What do you love about being an author?’
‘There’s one thing about being a writer that’s both the best and the worst: being your own boss. I love setting my own schedule and knowing I’m in control of my future – and being able to sneak a cheeky glass of late-afternoon wine, if I want! On the flip side, it’s pretty damn scary. There’s no safety net to catch you if you fall, and if you don’t get the job done, there’s no-one to blame but yourself!’
‘What do you dislike about being an author?’
‘Apart from the scariness mentioned above, I think the self-doubt that inevitably creeps in has to be one of the things I dislike most. It’s quite daunting putting your work out into the public sphere, and I live in fear readers won’t think it’s good enough – despite endless edits beforehand.’
‘What are you reading right now?’
‘I just finished Anita Hughes’ ‘The Beach Holiday’. It’s a fun read about finding love after heartbreak.’
‘What’s your favourite book?’
‘I’m going to cheat and choose more than one! 'Anne of Green Gables' is top of the list, for sure. I grew up close to Prince Edward Island, and I felt Anne was right on my door-step. I loved her creativity and ambition to be a writer. Next, I'd say 'The Devil Wears Prada', because it reawakened my loved for chick lit. And finally, 'The Time Traveler's Wife', because it is so beautifully and poignantly written.’
Emma: ‘Thanks so much to all of you for your fascinating answers, and to Kim for inviting me as her guest today. Now I’d better get back to writing Novel Four!’

Review - Can’t Live Without by Joanne Phillips

A fabulously down to earth, feel-good romance.

Stella is a strong, independent, single Mom of stroppy teenage daughter Lipsy who is constantly being extremely difficult, and she has worked hard to provide a lovely home with the best of everything for her daughter.  She works for her best friend Paul Smart at his estate agent business called Smart Homes and on who she used to have a huge crush on but she says she is so over that now.  When Stella’s house burns down, she moves in with her mom who can’t stop spending money and when everyone says that it’s nice that she’ll get everything shiny and new through her insurance, finally  breaks the news that they had no insurance cover.  She has no alternative but to rebuild their home completely from scratch.

Paul and Stella have a fabulous relationship, flirty but safe in the knowledge that they both love the way it is now and love their individual lives and neither need a romantic involvement to spoil the way they are.  When an ex of hers appears unexpectedly, she questions her feelings for him and for Paul. 

Stella starts to make a list of things that she can’t live without.  What and who is on the list?

This was an absolutely delightful read.  I felt like I was in the plot myself and could easily have been Stella.  She was a pleasure to know, a proper Mom wanting the best for her family.  It was written well, flowed easily and made you want to keep on turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next. 

I loved the dynamics in the relationship between Paul and Stella, and Stella’s sense of humour was fantastic.  I could really relate to her.  She was a really genuine character with really good morals and principles. She wasn’t afraid to work hard or get her hands dirty and was determined that she would make a nice home once more for her daughter even though her daughter was being incredibly badly behaved towards her.  All of the characters were brilliantly created and you felt like you knew each and every one of them inside out. 

There were tons of hilarious laugh-out-loud moments in the book, lots of occurrences of Stella finding herself in situations that weren’t what they looked to be and this all added to the twists and turns and how the story develops in the book.  It ended perfectly, exactly how I wanted it to!

This was a really fun, feel-good and extremely entertaining read and I’d love to learn more about these wonderful characters.  Joanne has an incredibly wonderful easy to read writing style.   I absolutely did not want the book to end.  I’m sure that Joanne Phillips will be giving some of the big names in the chick lit world a run for their money and I would love to read more of her work.  I was quite surprised that this was her debut novel as she writes so fabulously.  

Joanne Phillips lives in Shropshire with her husband and four-year-old daughter.    She has been published in Writers’ Forum and Freelance Market News, has ghostwritten lots of non-fiction books and has also had success with online articles and ghost-blogging.  She won a Turner Maxwell prize in 2008, and was recently longlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction Prize and shortlisted for the Grace Dieu Writers’ Circle short story competition.

She is currently studying Creative Writing with the Open University, and works and loves her job as an indexer.  She has another two novels up her sleeve, I’m delighted to find out that one is a follow-up to Can’t Live Without and the other is a chick-lit/crime crossover novel. 

 Find out more about her at her website

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Review - A Very Accidental Love Story by Claudia Carroll

Truly delightful.

A story of Eloise who is an editor of a top newspaper, who while she is highly respected at work for getting the job done, no matter what it takes or however hard she has to work, finally realises at her 30th birthday party that she has no real friends to speak of and that even her acquaintances at work, don’t really want to be there.  She makes a very important decision about her life.

The story then shoots forward three years where Eloise is a single mom to Lily, a beautiful little girl that is looked after by a nanny and never sees much of her Mommy.  Lily asks her mom to find her daddy and so Eloise sets off to find him. All she knows is his name and a few credentials, as she has never actually met him herself; she went to a clinic and was artificially inseminated. However, as normal, nothing defeats her and she finds her daughters daddy and starts to build a relationship with him before she introduces him to his daughter.  Does he live up to her standards, and does she introduce them, or does she get it all wrong?

For those of you who have read a few of my reviews, you’ll realise by now that I love a fairytale with a happy ending.  This was just that! A lovely, fluffy, fairytale.   I really enjoy Claudia’s writing;  it’s entertaining, it’s funny, and it’s heart-warming. 

The pages turn themselves as if by magic, and you lose yourself in a story which is full of vibrant scenes and wonderful characters.  Another of those books that you are almost sad when it ends because you have enjoyed it so much.  This book was everything for me that a reading experience should be and that is one of pure escapism and pleasure leaving you feeling all warm and loved up when it's over! What more can you ask for?
One of the other things I adore about her books is the fabulous covers.  They would definitely entice me to buy the book, just from the look of the front cover.  It portrays everything that Claudia’s writing is: fun, entertaining and colourful.  Really clever to get a cover to show all those things.   

A most enjoyable read, thoroughly recommended and I hope, and I’m sure, it will be a massive success for this wonderful author whose writing I just can’t get enough of. 

I was first introduced to Claudia Carroll when I reviewed Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, which I also loved and my review can be found if you click here.

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 Carroll at her website

Like Claudia onFacebook

Giveaway - Finding Mr Flood by Ciara Geraghty

Hodder & Stoughton and Ciara Geraghty, the fabulous author of Saving Grace, Becoming Scarlett and most recently Finding Mr Flood, have told me that today (Thursday 19th July) Finding Mr Flood will be reissued with this gorgeous new paperback jacket, just in time to pack in your holiday suitcase this summer.

Praise for Finding Mr Flood: 'Beautifully written . . . emotional, joyous . . . I adored it.' Daily Mail ~ 'Sad, funny and wise' Marie Claire

Sounds fab doesn't it.  I know I can't wait to read it!

They have also very kindly offered a copy of this brilliant book to give away to one of my readers who will be chosen completely at random. 

All you have to do is to leave a comment on this post and tell me why I should pick you! 

If you are like me and are bit impatient, and can't wait to see if you've won this competition, you can buy this book now via Amazon by clicking this link.

In other news about Ciara, there's not long to wait until her brilliant new novel, Lifesaving for Beginners, will be published on 27th September.  Here's a little more about it to whet your appetite!  I'll be sure to tell you more about it nearer publication date so watch this space!
Kat Kavanagh is not in love. She has lots of friends, an ordinary job, and she never ever thinks about her past.
This is Kat's story. None of it is true.

Milo McIntyre loves his mam, the peanut-butter-and-banana muffins at the Funky Banana café, and the lifesaving class he does after school. He never thinks about his future, until the day it changes forever.
This is Milo's story. All of it is true.

And then there is the other story. The one with a twist of fate which somehow brings together a boy from Brighton and a woman in Dublin, and uncovers the truth once and for all.

This is the story that's just about to begin . . .

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Review - Solomon's Tale by Sheila Jeffries

What a delightful story, but it should come with a warning - you may need tissues!

Solomon is a cat in the spirit world who is sent back to earth to be born again with the sole purpose of helping Ellen and her family.  When his soul decides that he wants to be born again, he embarks upon an important and interesting adventure to find and help his precious Ellen who lives with her husband Joe, their son John and their very naughty cat Jessica.  John has a foul temper and gets the family into financial difficulties but Ellen stands by him and when they lose everything they own, they start again in a small caravan. 

Solomon and Jessica have fallen in love and while Ellen works hard so that they all have a nice life, John drinks and feels sorry for himself all the time and can be abusive towards Ellen both verbally and physically.  Solomon is a healing cat and his healing ways bring healing, love and promise to this family but it all gets too much for Ellen to cope with and she becomes very ill.  Solomon is guided by his angel who he sees and hears and who advises him how to deal with particular circumstances.

There was such a lot of emotion in this lovely tale.  The love story between Jessica and Solomon is wonderfully told and Jessica’s appalling behaviour is quite hilarious at times. To talk about a love story between two cats sounds a bit bizarre but it really works well. 

The story is actually told by Solomon which takes a little getting used to, but once I did, I really enjoyed the book and found it extremely emotional in parts with some very upsetting topics throughout, yet it was an absolute pleasure to read how this wonderful healing cat had such an impact on this families lives. 

At the end of the book I cried and cried.  In fact, I have to admit that I sobbed but in a good way and for a nice reason if that makes sense!  What an amazing book!  It covers the topics of reincarnation, spirituality, angels and death beautifully.  I think this would be a good book to help children understand when a pet dies and help them feel a whole lot better about that situation.  In fact the way that she described when an animal dies made me think about that happening when my mom died and that made me feel a whole lot better about that too!

I’m not a massive cat fan yet this book still appealed to me so you clearly don’t have to be a cat lover to get and love this book as much as I did.  It really was a delightful tale of a love story between two cats and a cat and its owner.   Simply beautiful!

Sheila Jeffries the author has a lovely style of writing, very relaxed and enjoyable.   The words flowed well with the pages turning themselves and with it being a reasonably short book, I read it very quickly. 

This book was inspired by Sheila’s own cats and experiences that have happened in her life and it’s a book that could be read and enjoyed by both adults and children alike. 
Sheila Jeffries wrote four full length children’s novels which were published before she left school. After studying at Bath Academy of Art, she trained as a teacher and taught special needs children.  She started to write again full time in 1982, and had a further eight children’s books published.  

A more recent project was a commissioned Mind Body & Spirit book called Talking to Fairies. Sheila is also an amazing artist and has had exhibitions in London and the West Country.  In the 90’s she moved to Cornwall and had her own studio selling her paintings, cards and books and there she developed her interest is esoteric subjects, particularly healing and sacred geometry.  This led her to discover a new landscape zodiac in Cornwall and to publish three books on the topic. 

Sheila Jeffries has brought up a family, helped to run a small-holding, and planted a fifty acre wood with her husband Ted. In her spare time she likes to study ley lines, Feng Shui, and ecology. She writes and reads poetry and has won a number of prizes including the Southern Daily Echo Poetry Trophy and the Writers Forum Prize. Now living in Somerset, Sheila is writing some new books for children, an adult saga, and two non-fiction Mind Body Spirit books and also runs writing workshops. 

You can learn more about her at her website

You can buy a signed copy of Solomons Tale by clicking here

Review - Somewhere to Hide by Mel Sherratt

Another cracker from the wonderful author that is Mel Sherratt!

Cathy is widowed, not yet 40, and takes in people who need somewhere to live in her “safe” house. Liz is married to Kevin who constantly uses and abuses her even thought they have a child together called Chloe. When Liz realises that enough really is enough, her and Chloe are moved to Cathy’s safe house which she is currently sharing with troublesome Jess. 

On the same day that Liz turns up, so does Becky, a young girl with a secret and although they know she has run away from somewhere and someone, she won’t tell anyone. Cathy’s house is on the Mitchell estate, one side of the estate is where people who like to look after themselves live, with their good jobs, nice gardens and well tended to houses. The other half is full of trouble, unemployed, burnt out cars, run down houses and people who really don’t care about themselves or anyone else for that matter.

Austinis a young man who is planning a big surprise for someone on his 21st birthday. But who is that surprise for and why?

I was first introduced to Mel’s writing last year when I read Taunting the Dead and my review can be found by clicking here
. Once again in this book, her writing is exciting, gripping and mesmerising and I was quickly lost to the real world, deeply engrossed in the story. I could definitely see her books being portrayed in a TV series but I haven’t chosen the characters yet! 

You get stuck into the plot very quickly and totally immersed with the goings-on in this gritty tale of life on a tough estate. The characters are hard and you really wouldn’t mess with them. Cathy was a really strong main character, likeable, gutsy and brave sticking up for the girls in her care, helping them to achieve something in their lives and not take any crap from anyone. She taught them to have faith in themselves and to believe that they deserved better and could achieve more.

There were plenty of twists weaved into the plot, and the finale was quite spectacular and would certainly have made a great ending for a TV programme.
I'm delighted that this was the first of a series of books about The Estate and can't wait till the next one is due in October with a third due in February.

Really enjoyed reading this gritty, fantastically written thriller by this great author who really could compete against some of the world’s top thriller and crime writers.

Mel Sherratt is married and is from Stoke on Trent and has always been interested in reading and writing, winning a writing competition when she was just 11. She has been dabbling with writing for over ten years and it was when she changed her genre from women’s fiction to crime thriller that her writing flourished.

Mel's website can be found by
clicking here.

Mel also hosts a blog called High Heels and Book Deals which can be found by
clicking here where she reviews books, interviews authors and talks about books.

More importantly, you can buy this awesome thriller at Amazon by clicking here.

Review - United State of Love by Sue Fortin

I'm delighted today to introduce you to a fantastic debut novel by a lovely lady called Sue Fortin titled United State of Love,while I join Sue on her current blog tour. 

Set in the towns of Arundel and Chichester, Anna is a single mom and a tour guide who gets rescued by the gorgeous and hunky AmericanTex.  What she doesn't realise is that he is the new owner of a disused church which is about to be turned into a pizza restaurant, much to her disgust.

Anna's really annoying ex-husband Mark, is currently sleeping on Anna's sofa and is trying very hard to cause trouble between her and Tex and also between her and their teenage son.

Anna doesn't know which way to turn to make life easier and her feelings for Tex and her feelings for Mark are pushed to the limits in this exciting, romantic tale.   

I immediately disliked Anna's back stabbing, jealous ex-husband and found myself getting really wound up by things he did to try to spoil her life while pretending he wants to get back with her.  Sue creates her characters beautifully, you either love them or hate them, I loved both Anna and Tex and would quite like Tex to have cooked me a romantic meal!

Sue writes very descriptively, and her words flow really well with the book getting you interested from the very first few pages, leaving you constantly wondering what's going to happen.  The twists and turns along the way, leave you guessing right till the very end, how the plot will turn out and whether she'll get back with Mark or take a chance on a future with Tex.  And no - of course I'm not going to tell you!  You'll just have to buy the book and find out for yourself. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading United State of Love and will look forward to reading lots more from this budding new author.  I was delighted to be able to meet Sue recently at a Love A Happy Ending event back in June and she's a lovely lady and I would like to wish her every success for her debut novel and for her future writing career.
Sue has lived on the South Coast in West Sussex since her mid-teenage years.  When her parents decided that they were moving back to Cambridgeshire, Sue decided to stay and has never looked back.

Before taking to writing seriously, she had various secretarial jobs, eventually settling as a PA at a high street bank, where she worked for 13 years. Finding it extremely difficult to juggle work and three children under the age of 5 she decided to give up the world of banking. She now has four children and manages to find time to write, when they are at school or work.

Sue is also a fabulous book reviewer and you can catch her reviews on her blog:
Love Reading Love Books

You can buy your copy of United State of Love by clicking on the links below:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Review - Who are the flowers in your garden by Julie New

What a beautiful, amazing book! One that I am definitely never letting go!

When I arrived home one afternoon last week, I thought it was my birthday!  A padded envelope with all sparkly stickers had been posted through the door and when I opened the envelope there was a book shaped present, beautifully gift wrapped inside. When I opened it, I discovered the book Who Are The Flowers In Your Garden? which had been sent to me by the lovely Julie New to review.

Julie asks on the back page of the book "How many roles will you play today? Parent, boss, taxi, shoulder-to-cry-on, cook and bottle washer?  When did you last take time to nurture yourself?"

I managed to add a few more job descriptions onto Julie's list and realised that like many parents, I actually don't get an awful lot of time out at all for myself. 

The back cover goes on to say "Imagine youself in a beautiful garden; you are the central tree spreading your branches in the sunshine, appreciating the lovely flowers growing all around you.  Using the powerful metaphor of the garden, this little book will help you to get in touch with those feelings".

Completely intrigued, I started to delve into this gorgeously attractive book.  The cover itself is stunningly designed, with beautiful sunflowers and other brightly colourfed flowers that hypnotise you and I had to drag myself away from being mesmerised by the cover to dip inside.

Beautifully illustrated throughout, with a question at the beginning of each chapter, the words are about nurturing yourself as you would a garden.  It helps you to get in touch with yourself, to identify the weeds in your garden and through amazing and inspirational stories, makes you want to take stock of your life and make changes to help you (in Julie's words) "start flourishing personally and professionally". 

This is an incredibly motivating book, the sort that you'll keep forever in a very handy place and keep dipping in and out of when you feel the need.   I feel incredibly honoured that this book was sent to me and will certainly be helping Julie to spread the word about this potentially life-changing, little miracle that I was sent that will brighten up mine and many other's lives. 

Julie is married to Rob, and is blessed with her own very special flowers, her daughters Amy and Polly.  After working in both nursing and midwifery, she felt that she had more to do in the world even thought she was at the time a single mom nearly at the top of the nursing ladder.  She was determined that she was going to make a difference so became a personal coach specialising in helping men and women to flourish and grow following challenging times.  After 2 years of being extremely busy, she was branded with a bright orange sunflower and the thought came to her that relationships and life itself is very much like a garden. 

You can read more about Julie at her website
You can follow Julie on Twitter
You can buy this little treasure of a book by clicking here

Review – Somebody to Love by Sheryl Browne

Another hilarious tale from a fabulous author who never fails to make me laugh out loud lots!  The first book of Sheryl’s that I read was only a few weeks ago, it was called Recipes for Distaster and my review can be found here. I couldn't wait to get started on this one, and once again, she has managed to produce another fantastic rib tickler!

Single Mom Donna has a bullying and cheating ex-husband and even though they’re not together anymore, he still thinks he can control her life and mess their son about as and when he feels like it.  She meets Mark, a single dad and policeman, and they hit it off immediately and would like their relationship to develop.  He wants to look after her and protect her and she wants to share her life with him. 

Mark, is keeping a secret from her though and the secret is that his son Karl is autistic.  He hasn’t told her about him yet, as in the past, people have not accepted his son and girlfriends have found it too much for them.  Unbeknown to both of them, Donna is actually helping out at the centre that Karl goes to as she really feels that helping children such as Karl is her vocation in life and she wants to do this for a full time job.

They send each other many mixed messages and there are many hilarious moments when he thinks one thing and she thinks another and they totally get their wires crossed all the time, each not really knowing how the other feels.  

This really is a wonderful story, not only is it a really lovely feel-good read, it also enabled me to learn a lot more about autism - a subject that I’ve been quite ignorant of in the past and I felt that reading about it in this way was a nice way for me to learn more.

A beautiful thing happens to Karl when he gets a “friend” who is specially trained to help him through a lot of everyday situations he normally finds difficult and the way that it is written in the book is truly heart warming and positively enchanting!

Sheryl’s writing is fabulous.  She manages to make you laugh out loud constantly and her stories are so natural and true to life.   You always feel like you’d like to meet the characters in her books, they are always so genuine and sincere and you want them to be your friends.  They are the sort of people you live next door to.   Reading about them is completely effortless, the pages turn themselves and you just can’t put the book down. 

The parts when Donna meets up with the woman that her husband went off with were just hysterical and Donna does and says everything that we probably all would want to do and say in that situation. 

Her work is always amusing and a true pleasure to read.   A wonderful reading experience which I thoroughly enjoyed!  It also has a perfect ending in my opinion, and was exactly what I wished for.

You can see the trailer for Somebody to Love and the next book Warrant for Love by clicking here.
Sheryl Browne is a mum, a business partner, a school critique partner, and a disabled dog fosterer as well as a lovely lady and fabulous author with a terrific sense of humour which comes through in her writing. She grew up in Birmingham and studied art and design and now lives in Droitwich in the Midlands.

Find out more about Sheryl and her writing at
Her blog can be read
You can follow Sheryl on Twitter
You can like Sheryl on Facebook
You can buy this book via Amazon by clicking here

Summer Reads by Sheryl Browne

Not sure what to read this summer?  I'm sure this trailer will help. 

Very soon I will be posting my review of Somebody to Love by Sheryl Browne.  Ahead of that review, I thought I'd just show you the fabulous trailer which is available, highlighting Somebody to Love as well as the next of Sheryl's books - Warrant for Love.

She's a fabulous writer, and I guarantee you lots of laughs!

Check out the trailer and feel free to post a comment below letting us know what you think.

Thanks, Kim xxx

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Review - Chelsea Wives by Anna-Lou Weatherley

A fabulously glamorous story of three high-profile ladies, all married to exceptionally rich men, spending their lives enjoying endless champagne lunches and spa days, shopping for designer outfits to die for, living flash party lifestyles and holidaying on huge yachts. 

Firstly there’s Imogen, a beautiful ex-model married to Sebastian, a bully who likes her to be beholden to him and doesn’t want to share her with anyone else, not even their daughter.  Then there’s Calgary who is married to Douglas, a womanising cheat who expects her to put up with his philandering ways even when his latest conquest is extremely close to home.  Finally there’s Yasmin (Lady Belmont), who seems to have appeared from nowhere and has married Jeremy, a man old enough to be her grandfather.  Everyone wonders whether she really loves him or whether there is a motive in her madness. 

All three women, on the outside, appear to be content with their lot, but each of them are living in marriages that make them seriously unhappy.  They are a very close, small group of friends, and when one of them tells the others that she has devised a plan to outwit her husband once and for all, they say that they want to be involved too, all for their own different reasons which could finally give them them all the life that they wish for.  Will they get the better of their other halves, or does this mad scheme go wrong and destroy their lives?  It could go fabulously right, but if not, the consequences don’t bear thinking about!

The glamour and money that the people in this book experience, is a world away from my own, and it is really enjoyable to read about and also to imagine what it would be like to be filthy rich, living a life I’ll only ever be able to dream of. 

It also goes to show you that no matter how much money you do have, it doesn’t always make you happy and that sometimes it’s just the simple things in life, that money can’t buy, that can make you content.

The author weaves a sensational tale of life, love, loss and friendship.  The type of friendship where you would do anything at all to help your friends, no matter what! 

The twists and turns along the way are thoroughly exciting and absolutely enjoyable, and at times surprising, leaving you constantly wanting to read more about these fabulously feisty, gutsy, determined women.   You want to be on their side and if I could have, I would have helped them myself!  You willed them to succeed in their plotting and planning and had to hold your breath when it came to crunch time to see how it panned out. 

Chelsea Wives was an extremely entertaining read, a real compelling page-turner with lots of fun and wit thrown in for good measure.

Anna-Lou Weatherley was born in Hampshire and grew up in London where she still lives with her partner and two children.  An award-winning journalist and women’s lifestyle writer for over fifteen years, she is the former editor and acting editor of J-17 and Smash Hits respectively and has written for all the major glossies including Grazia, More, Company and Marie Claire among others. 

She is the author of two teen titles, Ibiza Summer and The Wrong Boy.  Chelsea Wives is her first adult novel.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

I'm delighted to welcome a lovely lady and friend to my blog who is launching an ebook today.  She is a beautiful person both inside and out, and I am delighted and grateful that our paths have crossed in this life. 

For a change, I'm going to be quiet in this blog post, and handover to Kate to tell you all about her book.   We'd love your comments, and for you to share this post if you get a second.   Thanks - over to you Kate! x

'the gorgeous Kate Beddow
Growing Spirit Kids'

“I am blessed”
This is a phrase which occurs so frequently in my life and it isn’t a coincidence I’m sure. I am blessed to have a wonderful support network and a loving family. I am blessed to be healthy and happy after serious illness. I am blessed to have two beautiful children after I was told I wouldn’t be able to have any. I am blessed that I was given the gifts I was and the guidance I needed to see that they combine to make me a unique and special person who can help many others.

This might sound like a very big headed statement but the same is true of all of us. We are all given a unique combination of personality traits and life experiences which combined make us who we are and therefore what we offer the world. This is as true for our children as it is for us and perhaps even more so. As we grow we are moulded by expectations, peer pressure, image, the press, our career choices, friends, families... the list is endless but children are pure bundles of light without a single thumb print on their soul, just wide eyes and an abundance of love. They are pure and vulnerable and as parents and society it is our responsibility to make sure they stay that way and protect them as much as possible.
When I realised it was my life’s purpose to focus my healing work on children and families it was like a light went on in my heart, I have never embraced any “job” more passionately or with as much enthusiasm. I have always worked with children; as a teacher, a Brownie leader, a childminder, a Mum... and never realised what a huge part of my life children have always been and becoming a mum made me even more aware of how unique and precious children are.

My new ebook “Living with a Sensitive: a guide to understanding and nurturing your highly sensitive child” was inspired by my own children and watching how with the same gene pool, the same parenting style and you would think therefore both nature and nurture in common,  they are like chalk and cheese about most things. 
The thing I found most fascinating when observing their behaviour was the realisation that they are both equally sensitive; both caring, nurturing, observant and yet so very different. One will happily eat anything while the other is more fussy about food, one will make mud pies all day and the other doesn’t like to be dirty and neither like scratchy fabrics against their skin. It made me really start to analyse the types of sensitivity and question whether they could both be deemed “highly sensitive”. I read a couple of books but they were long and very academic and it occurred to me that most parents would never sit down to read something so wordy, most wouldn’t even realise that it would benefit them to do so so I set about writing my own book. A very basic guide to explain to parents what to look out for and how to make things more bearable for their child once they have.

If this book helps families and makes life a little easier for children and parents alike, I am blessed.
To buy Living with a Sensitive:
For more information about Kate’s work go to:


Sunday, 1 July 2012

Review - A Twist of Fate by Joanna Rees

WOW! What an incredible book!

Two beautiful baby girls were sold for cold hard cash, their fate decided on the flip of a coin.  One gets to end up having a really tough time, fighting for her soul and her life, in an East European orphanage run by vile and evil bosses and the other gets to end up with a moneyed family, living a life of luxury, mansion houses and ostentatious holidays.

The book swaps between a chapter about Romy, then one about Thea; their lives totally different but they do actually cross paths a few times throughout the years without them realising.  They both felt that there was something missing from their lives but neither knew what it was. 

Both of their lives are full of terrible secrets, guilt, blackmail and even murder.  Both girls having to live with their secrets burying them deep away, too scared for anyone to ever find out the truth. These secrets affected their lives drastically and neither feel that they can carry on carrying the burden of their past. 

I settled myself on the settee yesterday morning (Saturday) to start this book..  After just the first few pages, I was totally and utterly mesmerised and set to remain there for most of the day.  Luckily for me, I have a bad back at the moment, and that means that I’m not allowed to do much on the housework front.  What a great excuse for not shifting my backside for the whole day!  My nose was firmly stuck in this book, my backside firmly wedged in the sofa, and I only moved when I needed the loo or a drink! 

I lost count of how many moments this book left me open-mouthed and lost for words!  I wish I'd have had a £1 for every time I said "Oh my God!" - I'd be a very rich reviewer!

I found myself wanting to shout at the characters when they ended up at the same place, that their sister was there, and that they just needed to turn around and they would see each other.  Not that it would have made any difference as neither of them knew that they had lost a sister!  But I was getting quite frustrated. 

It was a thick book, over 500 pages, but each page just floated on past and I managed to get to the 400 page mark last night before my painkillers kicked in and I nodded off! This morning, I woke early before the rest of the house, and my first thought was to find out what was happening in their lives.  I came downstairs and made myself a cuppa and continued to read this wonderful story.   

My tea was cold by the time I remembered it was there so I made myself another one and carried on reading.  It was only when I finished the book and tweeted the author to tell her how fantastic I thought it was, that I realised that I’d forgotten to drink that one too!

I intensely hated one specific character in Thea’s life, from the moment I was introduced to him; a particularly nasty piece of work. 

I felt so protective of these two plucky, strong, amazing women who in very different ways and lives, had experienced such atrocities and such sadness and hurt that they SO did not deserve!  They had much love and loss throughout their lives that you felt every single emotion that they were going through like it was actually happening to you and cutting through you like a knife. 

The story had so many twists and surprises along the way and it was so cleverly written that it was completely un-put-downable! It was without doubt, one of the best books I've ever read!  I'm sure, and I hope, that it will be a huge success for this outstanding author and it will be extremely well deserved. 

It wasn’t until I read the bio about Jo that I realised that I’ve read her work before when she co-wrote with Emyln Rees.  If you’ve never read any of these books, you really should! They are awesome. 

Jo Rees grew up in Chelmsford before getting an English and Drama degree at Goldsmiths' College. After several bizarre jobs, including running her own sandwich delivery business and writing promotions for the back of Sugar Puffs boxes, It Could Be You, was published in 1997 under her maiden name, Josie Lloyd, and enabled her to meet fellow novelist, Emlyn Rees. Together they wrote Come Together, a twenty-something rom-com, which became a number one Sunday Times bestseller and was translated into 26 languages. They went on to co-write six more successful novels, and along the way got married and had three kids.

In 2007 Jo went solo and wrote Platinum, followed by Forbidden Pleasures in 2010. Jo also writes a light-hearted blog about her life as a novelist and mother in Brighton called, which is one of the top ten Times mummy blogs. A Twist of Fate is her eleventh novel.

You can buy this book via Amazon by clicking here