Thursday, 28 February 2013

Review - Bad Mothers United by Kate Long

Another brilliant, sure-to-be bestselling book from the fabulous Kate Long.

Ten years after The Bad Mothers' Handbook, the girls return in Bad Mothers United.
After the death of Nan, mom Charlotte and grandmother Karen are both struggling to get on with their lives in very different ways. 

While Karen has agreed to take on a day-to-day and week-to-week role of looking after Charlotte's son, she is finding it difficult, and feeling a little dumped upon as she doesn't really have a life of her own.  When her new and good-looking neighbour moves in, she thinks she has found a great friend.
Charlotte is at university away from home, studying for her degree, which is an opportunity that her mom desperately wants her not to miss out on like she did and will do anything within her power to make sure that it happens. Charlotte does see her son as often as she possibly can, but while spending all her time at university feels that she is a bad mother and has to adapt to a differnt life without her son. 

The Bad Mothers Handbook was a totally brilliant book. I read it at the time and thought it was completely fabulous. This sequel is just as brilliant as the first, if not just a tiny bit more fantastic.

Charlotte and Karen are obviously older in this book and have both matured physically and mentally but are not particularly wiser and they both eventually realise that  if they stopped rubbing each other up the wrong way and actually worked together as a team they could start to enjoy their relationship.

A mother/daughter bond is a very special one and there was one particular part in the book where I sat and sobbed.  It broke my heart to think that Karen was enjoying her grandson and reminded me once again that my amazing mom did not get to carry out that brilliant job with my gorgeous son as we lost her a year before he was born. 

The relationship and arrangement that the ladies had in place was a tough one for all concerned and was certainly an interesting one. The message that shone through for me is that a mother loves her child whatever happens and that working together rather than against each other can make the most out of a situation for all concerned. 

I am a huge fan of Kate Long and I owe her a great deal of gratitude for being one of the first authors who made this wonderful hobby of reviewing books a reality for me.

She is funny, she is deep and she is a superb author who writes extremely compelling and warm-hearted novels that you never want to put down. The dynamics that occur between the mothers and daughters in this and in fact all of her books are true to life and believable. 

The characters have come a long way since the last book in a way that makes you feel like you truly have gone through the journey personally with them.  She captures their emotions perfectly.

I would think that most mothers can relate to the majority of this book.

As this is a sequel, I will wait with baited breath for (hopefully) the third in the series as I could continue to read about these characters who have become my friends, forever.

I was first introduced to Kate Long when I reviewed Mothers & Daughters which was one of the very first books I ever reviewed. My review of that can be found here.   I also reviewed Mothers and Daughters and that review can be found here.

I was delighted that Kate agreed to do an interview with me, talking about her writing, and that interview can be found here.

Kate Long is the author of The Bad Mothers Handbook, Swallowing Grandma, Queen Mum, The Daughters Game, Mothers and Daughters and Before She Was Mine. Kate was born and raised in Lancashire and lives with her husband and two sons in Shropshire.

Find out more about Kate at her website

You can follow Kate on Twitter.
You can buy this book via Amazon UK or

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Welcome to The Arcade

Welcome to The Arcade:
The bubbliest of soaps, coming straight to your e-reader every month!

Once upon a time, six best-selling novelists popped open a first bottle of cava and decided it was time to try something new.
With more than a million novels sold between them, and their books published in twenty different languages, they still loved to write juicy blockbusters – but also longed for the thrills of a shorter liaison, of something wicked to look forward to, a date to long for.
‘If only we could write a serial story, the way Charles Dickens did, so readers couldn’t wait for the next episode?’ one said.
‘Maybe with e-books, we could,’ said another.
And so the novelists began to plan a sexy, sassy, soapy story set in a beautiful Victorian seaside shopping arcade – where the dramas and rivalries are as dazzling as the window displays.
The Arcade is as addictive as chocolate truffles from the Chocwaves store, as sexy as honeymoon lingerie from The Garden of Eden, and as scandalous as a night in Ernesto’s tango studio.
And the best bit? The Arcade comes to you in monthly episodes, so you can get your fix of sex and shopping every four weeks… a new story will become available every month throughout 2013.
In January we meet Faith Moore, a newcomer to Angell’s Arcade who’s looking for a new year and a new beginning, to forget her sad past…
In February we spend Valentine’s Day with lingerie shop owner Eden Hart, who sees every man who enters her shop as a possible replacement for her lost love.

And March is the story of Libby Bartlett, who wants a night of escape from her four children, but finds more than she bargained for.
What’s next?

To find out more, email Kitty at  

Interview with Anne Allen and your chance to win a copy of Dangerous Waters

Delighted today to be joined by fab author Anne Allen who wrote Dangerous Waters which I reviewed towards the end of last year.  (That review can be found by clicking here.)

Find out more about Anne Allen at her website
You can follow Anne on Twitter

Buy Dangerous Waters by clicking here

You can also view the trailer for Dangerous Waters by clicking here. 

Anne has also very kindly offered a prize of a paperback copy of Dangerous Waters (this will be in the form of an ebook or paperback if you are in the UK and ebook only for international entrants) and all you have to do is comment on this post and tell me what is the name of the main character in the book?

Hi Anne, thanks so much for joining me here today.  Hope you don't mind me being nosy and peeking around in your life!  Lots of questions for you so here I go!

When did you decide to write a book?
About seven years ago when I finally had the time and space to write. I’d always had an ‘itch’ at the back of mind to write but life always got in the way. I had just finished renovating an old house and needed something to get my teeth into that was creative. A big boost to my writing came when I won a non-fiction writing competition in ‘Prima’ magazine. The ideas for my book Dangerous Waters revolved around a young woman with a tragic past, an old house with a secret and the setting of Guernsey. Although now back in England, I had lived happily in Guernsey for many years and wanted to show how much I loved it.

How do you think that your skills you have acquired in your career as a psychotherapist has helped your writing?
I feel that I have learnt an awful lot about the human psyche and the different ways that people react to life’s tragedies and problems. Although my characters are entirely fictitious, I’ve imbued them with the strengths and weaknesses of the real people I’ve observed over many years. I was also able to draw on my experience as a hypnotherapist to deal with the issue of traumatic amnesia which is a central theme of Dangerous Waters.

So you had an idea for a book. Where did you go from there?
I wrote a rough plan covering the parallel stories of Jeanne and her grandmother and then just started to write – seat of the pants approach really. As a result I wrote far too much and wandered off the point at times, which I understand is a common failing of first-time writers. The story had taken on a life of its own which was good in some ways but not others! I realised I needed help and had my work critiqued by a professional writer/tutor and received helpful feedback. This resulted in my cutting out 15,000 words and re-writing whole chunks. Over the next few years I continued to tweak the book until I felt it was of a publishable standard. I learnt so much from the editing process that I’m hopeful it will mean less re-writes of my current WIP J

Where is your favourite place to write?
I prefer to write in longhand first which, in theory, means I can write anywhere. In practice I need a peaceful, calm environment so cafés and public transport are a definite no-no! I’ve never understood how J K Rowling wrote such great books in a busy café . . . If the weather is fine I’ll happily write outside in my little courtyard and if not, at my dining table or desk. The drawback of writing at my desk is the temptation to check my emails etc on the PC. But it’s great for research and no writer can survive without the internet these days.

Jeanne in Dangerous Waters made a choice when she was faced with a cottage to either do up and live in or do up and sell. What decision would you have made?
Oh, definitely do up and live in! In fact, I had renovated a cottage on Guernsey with my then partner and it was situated in the same area as Jeanne’s. The cottages were not the same physically but we carried out similar works so I was well versed in the mechanics of a renovation. By the way, the German bunker which features in Dangerous Waters actually exists in the garden of what was my home. We renovated it and my sons had an illicit party in it while we were away for a weekend!

Cooking is featured in Dangerous Waters. Is cooking something you like to spend time doing?
To be honest not as much these days. I used to enjoy cooking for my family but they’ve flown the nest and cooking for one isn’t as rewarding. While I lived in Guernsey I was at my most adventurous where cooking is concerned and enjoyed trying out new recipes. My signature dish for family meals now is roast lamb – tasty but not exciting J

What genre of books do you like to read and who are your favourite authors?
I have eclectic taste but particularly enjoy mysteries and thrillers. I like to be kept guessing as to how the book will end and only want happy endings if there’s a love story involved. Definitely a romantic at heart! Historical novels are also high on my list and I can’t wait to read Hilary Mantel’s ‘Bring Up the Bodies’. Other favourite authors are Barbara Erskine, Robert Goddard and Mary Higgins Clark.

Who inspires you to write?
There’s no-one in particular; I’ve always enjoyed writing as a creative ‘process’ but it’s only in the last few years that I’ve set out to write ‘properly’. I think reading chick-lit such as that written so well by Katie Fforde, encouraged me to have a go myself. Although my own genre is not quite chick-lit it is aimed at women readers. I’ve also read most of the books by Maeve Binchy and Mary Wesley and found them very inspiring.

If you knew that an author had written a book but wasn't using the modern methods of promoting a book via social media, what advice would you give them?
To think seriously about including social media in their promotional activities. It’s a way of connecting to, potentially, thousands of people who could help spread the word about their book worldwide. Not only that but the authors you connect with are happy to help with advice and suggestions, quoting their own experience with book promotion. It’s a no-brainer J

What book are you reading right now?
‘The Expats’ a thriller by Chris Pavone. He’s a new author, having spent many years as an editor, and so far I’m really enjoying it. Can I just mention the book I’ve just finished? ‘Thursdays in the park’ by Hilary Boyd. This was her first novel and covers love and passion in the ‘mature’ generation to which I belong. A lovely, feel-good read.

What's next for you? Are you planning to write anything else?
I’ve been writing my second novel, Finding Mother, on and off for a while now. Life got in the way, as usual, but I’m now back on track. It’s the story of a young woman, Nicole, who decides to trace her natural mother after her marriage hits a crisis. She feels that tracing her roots will help her to understand herself better. The novel also features the stories of her natural mother and grandmother, who have both kept secrets for many years.  The setting is predominantly Guernsey but there are excursions to Spain, Jersey and both contemporary and wartime England.  I’m hoping to see Finding Mother published this year.

Thanks so much Anne for joining me today.  Please do come back and see me again when Finding Mother is  published.  I'd love you to come back and tell us all about it.   

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Review - The Family Trap by Joanne Phillips

Another cracker from author Joanne Phillips in this brilliant follow up to Can't Live Without.

Can't Live Without (my review can be found here) saw Stella find her perfect match in best friend Paul and tells all about how they got to this book, which is where Stella's daughter Lipsy is about to give birth and just before her wedding day, Stella finds herself most unexpectedly in the family way too!

There is however, one big problem and that is that Paul doesn't want kids.  He abandoned the mother of his now 8 year old daughter when he knew she was pregnant and has only just started to get to know her.  Knowing how anti-babies he is, can Stella still marry the man that she loves with all her heart if they want different things and she is one very determined lady who is going to have this baby no matter what gets in her way!

I loved this book easily as much as I loved the first, possibly even more.  I could have jumped right on into the pages of this book and joined the cast! A fabulous family, sparring with each other for a lot of the time but with a love that is so deep it has no bounds.  

I'm loving Jo's style of writing which is just so easy to follow and keep on turning those pages that you just get entangled in their lives.  The story unravels so naturally and flows so gracefully and I absolutely adored hearing about Stella's relationship with her first grandson and also her teenage daughter and her own mother, all of those relationships testing in different ways. 

Thanks so much Jo, for bringing these lovely characters into my life and sharing them with me.  It's been an absolute pleasure. I look forward to hearing more about them and if you're not planning to write another book about these people that I love so much, you'd better break the news gently to me because I think I'll be quite devastated!

Joanne Phillips lives in Shropshire with her husband and five-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 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.  I'm delighted to tell you that she has another novel up her sleeve - a chick-lit/crime crossover novel.  Can't wait to read that! 

Jo is also the daughter of Anne Renshaw who has been inspired by her very clever daughter and last year brought out her book A Grave Inheritance which I was so lucky to get hold of and it was just amazingly brilliant.  What a talented family!  More info about Anne's book can be found by clicking here.  

Find out more about Jo at her at her website

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Review - Mums Like Us by Laura Kemp

Staggeringly true and absolutely hilarious!

Stella Smith has set up a club called Mums Like Us.  She is a normal mum with a normal family and normal friends who are also normal mums.  They are sick of the Mother Superiors that they bump into at the school gates who think that they have to do the best by their families so she set up the club so all the mums can get together and have a good old whinge about their kids, their partners and being a mum!  They also recognise the fact that it can be tough being a mum, being at the families beck and call and feeling that you have lost your own identify and are just Mum! 

Stella's hubby also plays an important role in this book and spends a lot of time emailing his mates and his brother about the fact that he's trying his best but nothing is ever good enough anymore!

What was once a small group, grows and grows as more and more people find out about it and that in itself brings its own challenges. 

I can't think of one person I know who would read this book and not be in stitches before the end of the first chapter.  Laura's sense of humour is exactly the same as mine, so I found myself constantly snorting along to this book and explaining myself! At one point I thought I was hyper-ventilating when I choked on a glass of wine at a particularly humorous part.  

I could definitely imagine myself sitting and drinking tea and scoffing cake at one of the meetings, which mainly happen at Stella's house while the kids are running around like maniacs in another room! The meetings sounded like fun and chaos all rolled into one.  

There is a serious message in the book, which is that you don't actually have to be perfect to be a good mum.  Just be who you are and let your friends and family accept that. It also shows that perhaps the grass isn't always greener on the other side and that people aren't always how they look or feel like you think they feel.

With a million laughs a minute, and the fact that I recognised myself so many times in this book being quite a scary realisation, this is just a fabulously funny read that I think every mother should have.  

Laura sounds like a person that I'd love to spend an evening with over a glass of wine or two or maybe even a bottle! A lady with a sense of humour such as hers is sure to have an award-winning super novel on her hands.  Very hard to believe it is her first novel, she is a complete natural and I hope there are many more of her books out in the not too distant future.  

It is published in paperback on 28th February so is a perfect Mother's Day pressie.  It is guaranteed to make every Mom laugh and realise that they are not the only ones! I can think of loads of people I need to buy this book for! 

If you order before 28th February, you'll get a 25% discount if you go to and add it to your basket using the promo code MUMSLIKEUS before you make your purchase. 

Laura Kemp started writing to get out of doing a real job.  A journalist for 15 years, she turned freelance after having a baby because she couldn't get out of the house, washed and dressed until lunchtime at the earliest.  A columnist and contributor, she regularly writes for national newspapers and magazines, and spends quite a lot of her time on Twitter.    This is Laura's first novel, which she hopes will strike a chord with exhausted mums who don't iron either.  Laura is married with a son and a neurotic cat.

Find out more about Laura at her website

Follow Laura on Twitter

Buy this book via (remember to enter the code above)

Friday, 1 February 2013

Review - Love from both sides by Nick Spalding

A seriously hilarious read.

Jamie Newman is yet to find Miss Right but from time to time he makes a concerted effort with some jaw-dropping consequences! The same applies to Laura Mcintyre who while looking for Mr Right has some unbelievably bad dates which had me in complete stitches and both decided they'd be better off single!

That was until the day that they (literally) bumped into each other and wondered if their luck had changed. They both knew that they had each found a very special person, but that was just the beginning of their story.

I don't think I've ever laughed as much or been as mortified as I had when I read about their second date (I am not going to spoil it but when you read it you'll know what I mean!)

This was a seriously funny book. Some might think that some of the mis-haps that occurred gave just a little bit too much information and might be a little on the vulgar side! Not me! I found them hysterical and snorted out loud many many times! In fact I even went to work and told my friends about the above mentioned second date because I still found it funny and was still laughing to myself about it the next day.

Written very cleverly in the form of a chapter from Jamie's blog then one from Laura's diary to her mom, it was very poignant in parts and one particular part near the end had me sobbing my heart out bringing back certain memories and similarities for me.

If you are after a belly-full of laughs then you have to buy this book. It will have you laughing for days!

I shall be searching the shelves high and low for work by this author. I'm going to keep this book close at hand and whenever I'm feeling a bit down in the dumps it'll soon bring some laughter and light into my world.  In fact it should be on prescription from the doctor.

Nick Spalding has mainly worked in the communications industry; involved in marketing and media, one day he decided to try his hand at writing comedy.  He lives in the south of England with his fiancee.

You can read more about him and his writing on his blog
You can follow Nick on Twitter
You can like Nick on Facebook
You can buy this book on Amazon UK by clicking here