30 April 2010

Lauren Barnholdt cover change + Book Blogger Hop!

Well, this may be oooold news as I've been completely out of the loop lately, but I've just found out that the two books by Lauren Barnholdt that I'm looking forward to (One Night that Changes Everything & Watch Me) have gone through a major cover change!

Here are the NEW COVERS:

And to refresh your memory, these are the OLD COVERS:

Now tell me, which do you prefer?
In the case of One Night, I think I prefer the new cover, which looks more fun(ky), but the old one had this air of mystery around it and it felt more sinister, which was intriguing ... But the new one's fine by me!
As for Watch Me, I really really reeeeally like the old cover and even though the new one may be more fitting, I still prefer the old one. The new one's not horrible or anything, but it's no match for the old one, bah!

ETA: I just found out that the author explained all the reasons for the cover changes on her blog - see here & here. Fascinating!

ps: It's Book Blogger Hop day - don't forget to join in the fun @ Crazy-for-Books.com! And HELLO to all the lovely bloggers who are visiting from the Hop - hope you'll be sticking around! :)

29 April 2010

Review: SPOTLIGHT by Ilana Fox *****

A fallen star. A runaway bride. They're about to be pitted against each other by a very powerful man.
Madison Miller has everything - beautiful, talented and just a little bit naive; she's the small-town girl who swept to victory on America's hottest talent show to become the nation's sweetheart. She's also head-over-heels in love with the man who's masterminded her career - the head-spinningly powerful, lethally attractive Beau Silverman. But there's trouble in paradise...
Jess has bolted from her approaching wedding and a dead-end job in London to chase dreams of being a fashion designer in New York. But she's finding life in the Big Apple tough, until she meets a man who makes her an offer she can't refuse. It means a taste of a life she's never had - glamorous parties, paparazzi, haute couture - but at what price?
Sweeping from the hotspots of LA to the coolest bars of New York, SPOTLIGHT cuts a gloriously fun swathe through the world of celebrity and glamour, with a page-turning story at its heart.
Having loved Ms Fox's debut, The Making of Mia, I could not wait to get my hands on her second book, Spotlight, which is actually OUT TODAY! I got my ARC a while ago and as irresistable as it was, I decided to save it and read it closer to the release date. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down! I loved pretty much everything about this book so I hardly know where to begin praising it, heh!

Firstly, the plot was gripping! Okay, I'll be the first to admit that it was slightly far fetched, but it was still a fantastic read!
We have two girls, one ex-stripper turned mega popstar (Madison) and a runaway bride from the UK (Jessica). What they have in common is that they were both manipulated by the same man - Beau Silverman, the music mogul and a ruthless businessman. He's the owner of a music company and a talent show Teen Star USA, and he's determined to produce the best popstars ever, no matter the cost. After winning Teen Star, Madion becomes a worldwide superstar and a massive celebrity overnight. After the press get wind of her relationship with Beau, the latter gets furious and blames her for putting their careers at stake. Consquently, he bans Madison from her pre-tour appearances, almost imprisons her, and finds another girl to represent her - Jessica. He manipulates her into thinking that by posing as Madion's double, she'd only be helping her, and Jessica can't help but buy his lies ...
I was really quite gripped by the story and kept wondering what will happen when the truth comes out ... There were indeed a few twists & turns and the ending was nicely dramatic too, I loved how things were wrapped up and the story itself was honestly fantastic. I loved reading about the glamourous showiz world as well as about what really goes on behind the scenes - I do wonder where the author got all the inside scoop. ;)

On top of the great plot, the book also features a strong set of characters. The one that really stands out on the negative is Beau, the ruthless music mogul. He is incredibly manipulative and evil and just overall a horrible, selfish person. However, he can also be the most charming man on the planet and he's a very talented liar so he can easily wrap people (especially women) around his finger. I thought both of his sides were portrayed really well and thus he made a great antagonist - goodness knows I wouldn't like to mess with him, heh.
Then we also have the two girls, Madison and Jessica. At the beginning of the book, they're both shy and naive, and I was slightly annoyed by how doormat-y they both were around Beau at first - but I suppose I can't really blame them as he really was a master schemer and knew which strings to pull. But later on, both girls become stronger and learned to stand on their own two feet. I grew rather fond of them and admired them for how they solved their seemingly hopeless situation.

The writing itself doesn't particularly stand out, but it's fitting enough and makes the novel very easy to read. What definitely stands out though is the gooorgeous cover, which I absolutely love and I'd definitely pick it up in a book shop.

In conclusion, I thought this was a fantastic light read, set in the showbiz world, with a gripping plotline and great characters. Not typical chick lit, but definitely recommended if you're looking for some escapism!

overall rating:
plot: 5/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 5/5

28 April 2010

Waiting On Wednesday: REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly

I must confess I own all the Jennifer Donnelly books (Tea Rose, Winter Rose, Northern Light), but I haven't read any of them yet - although I really, really want to as they sound fantastic! The same goes for her next book, REVOLUTION, which is due in September! Moreover, I love the cover - I think it's her best one yet and it would definitely catch my attention in a bookshop!

by Jennifer Donnelly
[28th September 2010]
BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart.
Aah, how awesome does this sound?! I can't wait that long, I need this book in my life *now*! :D

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

27 April 2010

Review: THE LOVING KIND by Sarah Webb ****

Two months to write a raunchy bonkbuster set in the glitzy world of modelling should be easy. Right? Wrong!
Life can’t get much worse for romance writer Libby Holliday. She’s been dumped by her agent and her publisher, and now she’s discovered her fiancĂ©, Jeremy, is seeing their mutual friend, the shameless Ruth-Ann, behind her back.
So when broken-hearted Libby’s offered the chance to ghost-write a novel for model and reality show darling, Lulabelle Ryan, she leaps at the chance. Lulabelle is in the middle of filming a new TV show about plastic surgery – which means five star travel for her entourage to San Francisco, Paris and Antigua. And even better, Libby’s best friend spiky-mouthed journalist, Celeste O’Connor, is coming along for the ride.
Lulabelle proves to be the diva of divas, but there are some benefits – her handsome and enigmatic manager, Leo, to name just one. If only Libby could forget about her other male addiction . . .

I knew this book was a must-read for me as soon as I first heard of it months ago - I just fell in love with the cover and the plot sounded fantastic too so I pre-ordered my copy and couldn't wait to read it. It came out in February in trade paperback and the UK paperback will be available in September, I think. Anyway, I really really enjoyed this books - it had '5-star material' written all over it and I was having a blast reading it ... and then the ending happened, bah. I wasn't too keen on it, but most of the book was fantastic!

What I loved most about this novel (apart from the gorgeous cover, obviously) were the fab characters and the hilarious writing - I was really laughing out loud reading it! I honestly loved all the characters (well, except the cheating fiance Jeremy and Libby's mum), from our main girl Libby, the dumped ghostwriter, to her amazing best friend Celeste, all the guys (Leo, Alex, Dion etc.), but I have to say I was most surprised by Lulabelle - based on the plot description above, I expected her to be some sort of an airhead and a completely useless diva, but I think she was actually the person with the most depth in the novel. Yes, she could be a total diva, but she was also badly damaged as she's been through a lot in the past, and she had some very serious self-image issues, even though she appears to be perfect already. I loved how she was involved with the book writing process (needless to say, her fiction debut is pretty much an autobiography so it meant a lot to her) and I was really quite intrigued by her complex personality. Funny this is, I expect to be annoyed by her, but she ended up being my favourite character - even though it was a hard decision as other characters are were brilliant too!

The plot itself was great too. I enjoyed reading more about the book writing process and I loved reading about Lulabelle's entourage travelling the world A-list style - honestly, the treatment Lulabelle received was just mind-blowing. Lulabelle's determined to turn her name into a worldwide brand so she's decided to film a reality show called Plastic Fantastic about her going under the knife with the help of the world's leading plastic surgeons - she receives her Botox injections in San Francisco, has her breasts augmented in Paris and wants to have a liposuction ("Liposculpture!") in Antigua, but then something happens that changes everything ... And that brings us to the ending, which had me unexpectedly rolling my eyes and sadly it nearly ruined the book for me. Yeah yeah, it's good to know that all the characters got their happy ending and I wasn't really all that annoyed with Libby and Celeste's story, it was totally obvious who they would end up with, what I was most disappointed by was Lulabelle's ending. Well, I know the book and the madness had to end somehow, but this just felt rushed and corny and unrealistic and too sudden and just too much of a change for Lulabelle, I just couldn't swallow it.

So apart from the ending, the book was a fantastic read and I absolutely loved it! It was my first my Sarah Webb and I'll definitely be reading more by her!

overall rating:
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 5/5

25 April 2010

In My Mailbox #40

As always, my favourite meme is hosted by The Story Siren.

I only got two books this week and it's all because of that damn volcanic ash cloud - that *peep* is also to blame that I couldn't attend the London Book Fair at the beginning of the week, boo! Luckily that's more or less gone now so I'm hoping more books will show up next week! Yes, I know I have more than reading material to last me a few years, but I just get so excited about getting new books!

Anyway, here's what I got:

THE HORSE DANCER by Jojo Moyes was the only book that made it to my mailbox by airmail even when airspace was still closed - it has to be magic! ;) This was another complete surprise from Hodder, yay.

I haven't read a Danielle Steel book in like 10 years, but as soon as I came across A GOOD WOMAN a few weeks ago it completely grabbed me and I knew I had to have it! I love the cover and the plot sounds fantastic - I love that it's sort of Titanic related and I love the time period it's set in. Furthermore, the book also has a fantastic opening:
"On the morning of April 14, 1912, Annabelle Worthington was reading quietly in the library of her parents' house, overlooking the large, walled-in garden."
Best opening line ever, y/y? I certainly think so and it really, really makes me want to read more! Heck, I'd read it now if I had the time, but sadly I don't, busy weekend ahead. :(

My little hiatus will be over soon, I promise! Thanks to everyone who bothered to leave such lovely comments on my last post, I really appreciate it! :) I just have to get through this weekend and then I'll be pretty much a full-time blogger for a week, haha!

Have a lovely weekend, everyone! :)

20 April 2010

Forced go on a small hiatus, bah! :(

As some of you lovely people may have noticed, I've been a baaad book blogger lately - I've been rather silent and far less active in the blogosphere. It's not personal, I haven't ceased visiting other blogs because I'm fed up or anything, it's just that I've been very, very busy lately and sadly I've been unable to both read and blog much.

Thus I've decided to go on a small hiatus from the blog. Days go by so fast and sadly I fell completely out of the loop about what's going on in the book bloggosphere (among other things, heh) and I honestly don't have the time to keep up, even though I really want to. I love being part of the book blogging community and I love visiting other blogs, but unfortunately I can't really do this at the moment. I do have a few posts lined up, but I've decided to post them once I'm back - it just feels useless to post something when I can't be properly active neither on my blog nor elsewhere, it's just not the same.

I expect the situation to improve next week when I should hopefully be back in full swing. I do feel horrible for being such a distant blogger lately and I really do appreciate people who still bother to come back here, thanks so much!

I struggle to type this as I'm barely awake and so tired, but I hope I'm making some sense. What I'm trying to say is that I've been really busy lately, that I'm terribly sorry about 'neglecting' other blogs and that I expect to be back properly next week! Don't forget about me! ;)

Hope you're all well and I can't wait to have the time to finally catch up on what everyone else has been up to! :)

19 April 2010

Cover Win / Fail #3: PREP

It's time for another Cover Win/Fail feature! If you're not familiar with this feature, it's basically where I spotlight two covers - one that I love and one that I don't love all that much. As always, I mean no offence, I'm just expressing my humble personal opinion and you're more than welcome to disagree. :)

This week I've decided to compare the two Prep covers. Sadly I haven't read the book yet, but I've heard great things about it and I've made it my personal resolution to read Prep in 2010, ha! The book has just received a makeover so what better time to compare the covers, especially since I feel quite strongly about them.

I much, much prefer the new cover on the left. As far as covers go, it's no masterpiece, but (in my opinion) it's miles better than the old cover on the right.

The old cover is incredibly plain and booooring, plus it tells me absolutely nothing about the story at first glance. Is that a belt on the cover? Does it play a super important part in the story or what? Even if it does, this is still a very boring cover - although I have to admit that at least the colours are pretty. I've seen the book around in bookshops, but never bothered to pick it up and see what it's about until someone recommended it to me.

The new cover will be available in July and not only is it far prettier, but it also tells me something about the story and the main character. It's far more eye-catching, even though I somehow have this feeling that the new cover doesn't really represent the main character all that well, but I could be wrong as I haven't read the book yet.

I have a copy of the book with the old cover, but I like the new one so much more that I think I'll just pre-order the re-issued version and then give the old one away once I review the book.

So what do you think of these two covers - which one would you buy if you saw both in a bookshop? And if you've read the book, what did you think of it?

ps: I loooove the taglines on both covers, they really make me want to read the book, heh!
"The OC meets Donna Tartt's The Secret History with flashes of Clueless." & "Sweet Valley High as written by George Elliot."

In My Mailbox #39

This fabulous meme is hosted by The Story Siren, who's actually celebrating her birthday today - along with Kirsty from Novelicious! Happy birthday, Kristi & Kirsty! :)

Here's what I got in the past week:

GETTING OVER MR RIGHT (ARC) by Chrissie Manby was kindly sent to me by the lovely Book Chick City, who received it for review herself, but since it doesn't really fit her blog theme, she asked me if I'd be interested in reviewing it here so of course I said yes! I've heard that Chris(sie) Manby is fab, but I haven't had the chance to read any of her books yet - thanks for this great opportunity, Carolyn!

THE CARRIE DIARIES (ARC) by Candace Bushnell - I'm pretty sure everyone and their monkey knows this is about the teenage years of *the* Carrie from Sex and the City. I'm looking forward to this one, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to 'get' it since I haven't seen a single Sex and the City episode - shocking, I know, heh! I think this comes out in May - has anyone read it yet? Will I get it, not really being a SatC fan? (I mean, I'm sure it's a great show and all, I've just never felt like watching it ...)

THE ORIGINAL SIN by Tasmina Perry - I've been wanting to read books by this author so I'm so happy I got this one! I'm always up for a good bonkbuster, plus I quite like the cover for this one!

THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER (ARC) by Jojo Moyes was a complete and utter surprise! The packaging itself was wonderful - the book arrived in this cool hot pinkish envelope and then it was wrapped in brown paper and tied with the prettiest pink ribbon, similar to the one on the cover. I absolutely loved it so kudos to whoever came up with this idea! I must admit that I first thought that this was another book I've been waiting for for ages so I pretty much squeeed when I found this book inside! It sounds absolutely fantastic and I cannot wait to read it! Oh and the final cover is actually even more gorgeous one than the ARC one - I actually think it's one of the prettiest covers ever! So um, massive THANKS to whoever sent this one - I presume it was someone from Hodder, but I don't recall getting any emails about it ... Still, it was a fabulous surprise, yay!

That's it from me - what did YOU get? I can't wait to find out!
Have a great weekend, everyone!

15 April 2010

Review: SCANDALOUS by Martel Maxwell *****

Meet Max and Lucy Summers - half-sisters and the best of friends.
Max is a gorgeous showbiz reporter whose life is a whirlwind of celebrity parties, glamorous bars, juicy gossip and gorgeous men. Lucy, a beautiful, elegant fashion writer, has always been the sensible one, taking care of her little sister and never seeking the limelight. But that all changes when she falls for Hartley, Britain's sexiest royal bachelor, and her lovelife is suddenly splashed across the front pages of the tabloids. And when Hartley's ex-girlfriend starts scheming to get her man back, Lucy realizes that she's up against more than just the paparazzi…
Meanwhile Max, tired of the non-stop partying that her job entails, has finally met the perfect man but when she finds out who he really is, she realizes that they can't be together. Can Max walk away from the love of her life? And will Lucy play the fame game in order to keep hers?
Don't you just love it when books turn out to be better than you expected? I expected Scandalous to be a fab read, but I had no idea I'd be having *so* much fun reading it!

The plot delivers so much more than the blurb promises. Like the author herself, Max is a tabloid journalist and through story offers some great insight into how tabloids really work - I honestly don't read them, but I still enjoyed reading about how stories are made (up) and what being a tabloid journalist really includes, heh. Speaking of which, I can't help but compare this book to a tabloid article as they both sound far more 'scandalous' than they actually are. I'm not saying the book was boring, far from it, but it wasn't all that scandalous either - I guess there's just the right amount of drama involved, no complaints here.

I can't fault the characters either - they were fabulous! Max was my personal favourite and I loved how she was entertaining and flawed and determined, I really enjoyed reading about this wild sister, who managed to get herself into several embarrassing situations that had me laughing out loud. Lucy didn't really impress me much at first, I found her too boring, but then she started to enjoy life more and I started liking her more. Their mother Marj was great too and she reminded me of Mama Walsh (Marian Keyes) - what is it with these fab Irish mothers, heh? When it comes to guys, I was rather impressed by Luke and oh, the bitchy ex Bridget was fun to read about too - jeez, she really came with some crazy plans to get her ex back! I enjoyed reading about Shagger Sheri misadventures too - she wasn't the most positive character at first, a tragic glamour girl really, but I liked how things ended for her. All in all, I thought pretty much all characters had depth and were well portrayed and they just worked in this novel.

Another thing I liked was the writing style - the prose itself is simple, yes, but it's also fresh and modern and it just fits the novel. There is quite a bit of swearing, which I don't mind at all, and on the whole the book was easy to read and rather enjoyable too.

I suppose my least favourite thing about the book has to be the cover - I don't mind it, I think it's pretty but I just find the colours sort of not strong enough? I just thought that perhaps if the colours were bolder, then the book would stand out even more, but other than that the illustration is nice enough.

In conclusion, I thought this was a great light read with a lovely set of characters that I really enjoyed - definitely recommended if you're into showbiz chick lit or if you're just looking for some entertainment!

overall rating:
plot: 5/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 4/5

The book is out TODAY and you can read an extract online. To learn more about the author, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

14 April 2010

Waiting On Wednesday: A chick lit, historical and a YA pick!

Yep, today I've decided to highlight one example of the three genres I favour: chick lit, historical and YA (in case the banner above isn't clear enough, hehe). It was quite difficult to pick just three as my list is endless, seriously ...


by Adele Parks
[8 July 2010]

How do you know when you’ve met the one you’re meant to be with?
Neil and Nat are a match made in heaven. They hate marmite and the opera. They love smelly cheese and the missionary position. And they both absolutely do not want children.
At least that’s what Nat thought. But now Neil seems to have softened to the prospect of dirty nappies and sleepless nights, and he’s practically begging her for a baby. Nat, however, has no intention of swapping her high-flying career for a life of endless self-sacrifice. As the cracks start to show, Nat wonders if Neil really is the man of her dreams. Or is it possible that someone from her past could actually be ‘the one’?
Nat’s little black book, filled with the names and addresses of previous lovers, could hold the answers she’s looking for. Or it could be a one-way ticket to all kinds of trouble. And is the perfect match too much to ask for?

by Daisy Goodwin
[19 August 2010]
MY LAST DUCHESS takes as its theme the late 19th-century market in American heiresses, married off to the sons of the impoverished British aristocracy. Beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, the wealthiest debutante in America, is spirited away from the glamour and comfort of her Park Avenue mansion and suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, mistress of Lulworth Castle, maried to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England.
As Cora is soon to discover, nothing in this strange new world is quite as it seems. Her handsome new husband is withdrawn and secretive; the English social scene is stuffed with pitfalls and traps, and there are increasingly dangerous forces at work, people who wish she'd never met Ivo in the first place...

by Jennifer Echols
[20 July 2010]
There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four-year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. With her life about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon.
But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all—the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug—of all people—suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life—a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.

Do any of these tickle your fancy? I absolutely love the sound of all three! :)

13 April 2010

Winner of the Life Swap giveaway!

Bears, Boys and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald is out today and to mark this special occassion, I'll also be announcing the winner of my extra copy of Life Swap, Abby's excellent debut. The giveaway ended last night and there were more than 150 entries - thanks to everyone who entered! Aaaand the winner iiiiiiis ... *drumroll*
Congrats, you lucky chick - please email me your details so I can send the book out asap!

ps: The lovely Jenn-ay from My Tea Time is Book Time posted a quick Q&A with me the other day so feel free to check that out if you'd like to learn more about yours truly. :)

12 April 2010

Review: THE DEBUTANTE by Kathleen Tessaro ****

Can the secrets of one woman's past change another woman's future?
Endsleigh House stands, crumbling and gracious, on the south-west coast of England, its rooms shut up and dusty. But what secrets do they hold?
Cate, an exile from New York, is sent to help value the contents of the once-grand Georgian house. Cataloguing its' contents with Jack - a man with his own dark past, she comes across a hidden shoebox containing an exquisite pair of dancing shoes from the 1930s, along with a mysterious collection of objects: a photograph, a dance card and a Tiffany bracelet.
Returning to London, rather than face the questions lingering in her own life, Cate immerses herself in piecing together the clues contained in the box to uncover a story, that of Irene Blythe and her sister Diana - two of the most famous debutantes of their generation.
The tale that unfolds is one of dark, addictive love, and leads Cate to face up to secrets of her own. Can the secrets of Baby Blythe's past change Cate's own ability to live and love again?
I came across this title by by pure chance a few weeks ago and as soon as I read the summary and watched the author video below, I knew I absolutely had to have this book so I pre-ordered it immediately and read it almost as soon as it arrived. I just love a good mystery and this novel just seemed so promising; and while it delivered slightly less than I expected, I still really enjoyed it!

The story takes place in 1999, where two main characters, Cate/Katie and Jack, find themselves valuing the contents of Ensleigh House after the death of its owner Irene Blythe, one of the infamous Blythe sisters. The other sister Diana aka Baby Blythe disappeared completely in 1941. Cate is intrigued by this story and thus determined to find out what happened to the most famous debutante of the 1930s. On top of this main mystery that ties the whole book together, there are also the subplots of Cate and Jack's lives as they both have quite a story to tell too.

I found myself really engrossed in the Blythe mystery and all the clues in the shoebox and Baby Blythe's letters really kept me guessing. Luckily, I found the end to this mystery quite satisfying, but thinking about it now, I guess I would've really preferred it if the Blythe story was set in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, it would just make the book so much more magnificent. I enjoyed reading Baby's letters throughout the book and I thought she was the kind of character I'd love to find out more about, her story would be just so outrageous and fun and fantastic. As for the other sister, Irene, we barely get to learn anything about her, apart from a few surprising character traits in the end when all is revealed. Cate and Jack had interesting stories to tell too and I liked how it was all connected to the past, but despite that I'd still prefer to read a book just about the lives of the Blythe sisters.

That is pretty much my only complaint, but other than that I was quite pleased with the book. The writing was rich and elegant and wonderful, and the cover is lovely too, although it could've been better. As for the characters, I was intrigued by Cate and Jack, I wanted to learn more about their past lives and what they were running away from, but I couldn't really connect to them - to me, they just mostly a distraction from the Blythe story and the characters that I really wanted to read about (all the ones that Baby mentiones in her letters), but sadly didn't get the chance to as they were not in focus and thus underdeveloped - it's like they were main characters, but very much side characters at the same time too?

All in all, this was a great read, but I was just hoping for less Cate & Jack in 1999 and more about the lives of the infamous Blythe sisters. When I first heard about this book, it immediately reminded me of Kate Morton, the author of The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden, and indeed there are a few similarities so I think you'll enjoy this if you're a Kate Morton fan, if you're fascinated by the period between the wars or if you just like a good mystery.

overall rating:
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 3/5 | cover: 4/5

Watch the video below to learn more about the book from the author herself and also about how a real shoebox from the 1930s became an inspiration for the book - quite fascinating!

11 April 2010

In My Mailbox #38

As always, IMM is hosted by the lovely Kristi @ The Story Siren so head over there and see what other book bloggers got. :)

I've had a pretty quite book week (especially compared to last week's epicness) and I've only received two great books, BEING NIKKI by Meg Cabot (haven't even read Airhead yet, but I'm planning to) and THE TASTE OF SORROW by Jude Morgan, which is a story about the Brontë sisters (many thanks to the lovely people at Headline)!

I'm looking forward to seeing what was in everyone else's maiboxes! :)

9 April 2010

Cover Win / Fail #2

It's time for another Cover Win/Fail feature! I have so many of these lined up, but I'm planning to take it slowly, maybe one every week or every two weeks. If you're not familiar with this feature, it's basically just where I spotlight two covers - one that I love and one that I don't love all that much. As always, I mean no offence, I'm just expressing my humble personal opinion and you're more than welcome to disagree. :)
On to this week's picks!

Cover WIN: Living la Vida Loca by Belinda Jones
I absolutely *adore* this cover! The book's not out yet and I have to admit I'm not too blown away by the plot summary, but gosh the cover is just breathtaking! Gorgeous illustration, wonderful colours, pretty text, simply amazing! I can tell that someone put a lot effort into designing this cover and it really paid off! I have such a strong urge to own this book and just stare at it, even if I never read it, lol.

Cover FAIL: The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander
I still remember how this cover had me raising my eyebrows the first time I saw it months ago when someone reviewed the book and it stayed on my mind ever since, heh. Sadly I found the cover so off-putting that it took me ages to even bother finding out why there's a cock on the cover and now I know that this book (which doesn't even sound that bad) features a prize-winning rooster - well, the cover may thus be fitting, but *I* still think it's not the best choice for the cover image. I know I'd never pick it up in a book shop, let alone spend money on it, but that's just silly ol' me.

What do you think about these two covers? Alternative opinions are always welcome!

'Till next time, darlings. ;)

ps: It's Friday so you know what that means - time for another Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Crazy for Books! Don't forget to visit her site and participate in The Hop, it's a fun way to find great new book blogs! :)

7 April 2010

Waiting On Wednesday: Two fab August chick lit releases!

This week I'm all excited about two lovely chick lit novels - both released on 5th August!
I looove Alexandra Potter's books, but I have to admit that this cover is not really my favourite, too green & blue (two of my least favourite colours). Loving the sound of the book though!
I haven't read anything by Claudia Carroll yet, but her next book sounds great so I think I'll start with that one!

by Alexandra Potter
[5 August 2010]
What if you found your soulmate ... and then discovered you couldn’t lose him?
When Lucy meets Nate aged 18, it is love at first sight. As far as she’s concerned, he’s The One. Caught up in the whirlwind of first love, they kiss under the Bridge of Sighs in Venice at sunset and – according to the legend – are tied together indefinitely.
But ten years later, they’ve almost forgotten about each other. That is, until fate starts to bring them together. Again. And again. And again. It doesn’t seem as wonderful as it had before, but if Nate’s not The One – then why on earth is it proving so hard to break up with him?
A funny and magical romantic comedy about what happens when every girl’s dream of finding her dream man comes very true indeed...

by Claudia Carroll
[5 August 2010]
The fairytale ending was just the beginning!
Jessie Woods absolutely believes in fairytale endings. So would you if you had a recession-proof career as a daredevil TV host, a palatial pink mansion, and the dream boyfriend. But, quicker than you can say Cinderella, her life falls to pieces and suddenly her prince isn't quite so charming, her party-loving friends disappear and even her faithful friend Visa no longer loves her!
Utterly heartbroken and jobless, Jessie is forced back home, to live with her stepmum and two evil stepsisters. Is it time for her to give up on the dream - or will Jessie learn that happy endings can come in the strangest of places?
Avon's hot new acquisition presents a tale of princes who turn out to be frogs, Manolo Blahnik glass slippers and not-so-happily-ever-afters!

5 April 2010


Scroll down to see how you can
win a copy of Abby McDonald's
excellent debut novel LIFE SWAP!

Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life, so she leaps at the chance to visit her hippie godmother, Susie, up in rural Canada. Jenna is psyched at the chance to commune with nature for the first time — and the cute, plaidwearing boys she’s certain must roam there.
But after a few run-ins with local wildlife (from a grouchy old moose, to Susie’s sullen Goth stepdaughter, to a hot but hostile boy named Reeve), Jenna gets the idea that her long-held ideals, like vegetarianism and conservation, don’t play so well with this population of real outdoorsmen. A dusty survival guide offers Jenna amusing tips on navigating the wilderness — but can she learn to navigate the turns of her heart?
I've read & loved both previous books by Abby McDonald (Life Swap/Sophmore Switch & The Popularity Rules) so I really couldn't wait to get my hands on her latest YA work and surely enough, it didn't disappoint! Abby McDonald delivers again - honestly, she writes just the kind of either YA or adult books I *love* to read!

This is the story of Jenna, who's 17 and very passionate about the environment, but her family is falling apart. Her parents are spending the summer apart and she suspects they're on the brink of divorce so in order to avoid the drama, Jenna decides to spend her summer with her godmother Susie in Stillwater, Canada. It takes Jenna a while to adapt to the wilderness, but she's determined to become friends with the local boys (Ethan, Grady & Reeve) and not let the bitchy Fiona, Susie's step-daughter, get her down. Her persistance pays off and she indeed spends a glorious summer in Canada. She goes kayaking, climbing, hiking, swimming, cycling, she falls in love properly for the first time, she encounters a moose and a bear and all that while trying to save Susie's bed and breakfast and keep her romance a secret.
Without all the distractions and limitations of the city life, Jenna lears a lot about herself and also has to reconsider everything she's so passionately fought for. She learns that things aren't as simple as she thought and she learns to put things into perspective, but everything she's been through during the summer, she learns she's now tough enough to face the music and deal with what she's been avoiding.

What's not to love about this book? The plot is quite original and far from boring and flows nicely, just like the writing. The novel features an idyllic but a crucial summer of self-discovery, it deals with friendships, broken families, homosexuality, romance, environmental issues, growing up and so much more. It's hilarious and awwwtastic and serious and empowering at the same time. The characters are very well portrayed and great to read about. Everything just works so well together and it's all so fitting - the setting, the plot, the characters, the dialogue and even the lovely cover, which is like the cherry on top.

I'm not saying that I was completely blown away by this book, but I thought it was a fantastic coming of age story that especially teenagers will easily relate to; it was a simple, quick and very enjoyable read, but it was also meaningful and just oh so lovely - it would make a great film actually! Just like the previous two books by Abby McDonald, I thoroughly enjoyed this one too and I cannot wait for more by this author - next up is her adult novel The Liberation of Alice Love (out in July) and then the rumour has it that she's already finished her next YA novel called The Anti-Prom, which comes out in 2011!

overall rating:
plot: 4/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 5/5

To learn more about this promising author (she's only 25!), visit her website.
Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Books is officially released on April 13 and you can read the first chapter online.

* * *
And now for the GIVEAWAY! I ended up with an extra copy of Abby McDonald's fabulous debut novel LIFE SWAP (also known as Sophmore Switch in the US, my review here) and I thought this was a perfect opportunity to give it away to one lucky reader.
  • the giveaway is open internationally
  • it ends on April 12 at midnight your time and the winners will be announced on April 13 when Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots is released
  • you don't have to be a follower to be entered, all you have to do is leave a comment telling me WHO you would swap your life with (+1)
For extra entries:
  • follow my blog (+2)
  • follow Abby McDonald on Twitter (+2)
  • tweet about this giveaway - provide link (+2)
  • post about it on your blog/sidebar (+2)

Good luck, everyone! :)

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