The Coffee Shop Book Club

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Published in conjunction with Woman & Home and Breast Cancer Care, this collection of terrific short stories includes many of the top names in fiction writing today: Fanny Blake, Fern Britton, Elizabeth Buchan, Tracy Chevalier, Jenny Colgan, R J Ellory, Julia Gregson, Tessa Hadley, Maeve Haran, Veronica Henry, Victoria Hislop, Eowyn Ivey, Cathy Kelly, Erin Kelly, Deborah Lawrenson, Kathy Lette, Lesley Lokko, Jill Mansell, Val McDermid, Kate Mosse, Jojo Moyes, Adele Parks, Nicky Pellegrino, Ian Rankin, newcomer Cara Ross, Penny Vincenzi and Katherine Webb.

My opinion: I was really looking forward to reading this book as it included stories from my favourite authors, including Tracy Chevalier, but also included lots of new authors for me to try out!

The book contains 28 stories and I enjoyed most of them. I really enjoyed the two stories by Cathy Kelly, The Internet Date and We’ll Always Have Paris. I also really enjoyed The Surprise gift by Fern Britton. I was curious about Fern Britton as a writer and after reading this heartwarming story I will definitely try to read more of her work.

I was most surprised by Last Years Coat by Jojo Moyes. I was one of the few people I know who really didn’t like Me Before You, so was apprehensive about reading this story. I found it to be a really lovely story and well written, so will definitely give her books another try!

There are too many stories that I liked to mention them all, but this is a brilliant collection of short stories, for a fantastic cause. I not only read some new work from some of my favourite writers, but have discovered new authors such as Cathy Kelly, Fern Britton and Adele Parks. I think my to read pile is about to get a whole lot bigger!

My rating: 4 stars

I received an advance copy of this book from Lovereading in return for an honest review

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The House We Grew Up In

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All four children have an idyllic childhood: a picture-book cottage in a country village, a warm, cosy kitchen filled with love and laughter, sun-drenched afternoons in a rambling garden.

But one Easter weekend a tragedy strikes the Bird family that is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear them apart.

The years pass and the children become adults and begin to develop their own quite separate lives. Soon it’s almost as though they’ve never been a family at all.

Almost. But not quite.

Because something has happened that will call them home, back to the house they grew up in – and to what really happened that Easter weekend all those years ago.

My opinion: I’m just going to come out and say it, I loved this book. This was the first book I have read by Lisa Jewell and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of her books.

The story is centred around various members of the Bird family, who despite their seemingly idyllic childhood are all very dysfunctional in very different ways. These include a hoarding mother, responsibility shirking brother, OCD sister and the other sister seeking acceptance wherever she can.

I loved the way this book was written and could really imagine the house as it filled up with stuff over the years and gradually got darker and dirtier as the weeks, months and years went by. Each members story intertwines and stretches until eventually we end up right where we started and fill in the gaps at the beginning of the story that hadn’t quite made sense. At the end, I think there is a feel of closure, not only for the characters, but also for the readers.

Each character is highly unlikeable in their own way, yet have been so well crafted by the author that they find a little place in your heart and you can’t help but care for them. A fantastically well written book and I look forward to reading more by the author.

My rating: A wonderful five stars

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Blog tour: Her Dear and Loving Husband

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Welcome to the blog tour for Her Dear and Loving Husband, a historical romance novel with a paranormal twist . . .

 

 

Her Dear & Loving Husband (The Loving Husband Trilogy Book 1) – Meredith Allard

What they say:

Unknown-204‘James Wentworth has a secret. He lives quietly in Salem, Massachusetts, making few ties with anyone. One night his private world is turned upside down when he meets Sarah Alexander, a dead ringer for his wife, Elizabeth. Though it has been years since Elizabeth’s death, James cannot move on.

Sarah also has a secret. She is haunted by nightmares about the Salem Witch Trials, and every night she is awakened by visions of hangings, being arrested, and dying in jail. Despite the obstacles of their secrets, James and Sarah fall in love. As James comes to terms with his feelings for Sarah, he must dodge accusations from a reporter desperate to prove that James is not who, or what, he seems to be. Soon James and Sarah piece their stories together and discover a mystery that may bind them in ways they never imagined. Do vampires and witches live in Salem? Will James make the ultimate sacrifice to protect Sarah and prevent a new hunt from bringing hysteria to Salem again?

Part historical fiction, part romance, part paranormal fantasy, Her Dear and Loving Husband is a story for anyone who believes that true love never dies.’

Click Here To Buy This Book – UK

Click Here To Buy This Book – US

 

My Life as an Author

Meredith Allard

I was born to be a writer. I know that the way I know I have to breathe air. The day in the life of a writer (for this writer anyway) varies from day to day. I still have a day job, so my morning and early afternoon hours are taken up at work like everyone else. I usually arrive home around 3 p.m. On good days I exercise. On bad days (which occur more frequently) I don’t. I make dinner, and then I take care of whatever I have to do around the house. I’m usually able to get to the computer around 5 p.m., and I usually work until around 9 p.m.

Once I sit down to the computer, I go through my e-mails and answer any correspondence about my books, and I do try to answer every piece of fan mail I receive. I was so surprised when I started getting fan mail, but I love every single message I’ve received. I’ve never e-mailed an author in my life, so the thought that people would take time out of their busy schedules to contact me is a great feeling. When that’s done, I go onto Twitter and Facebook, but just for a little while (though it can be hard to pull myself away sometimes).

Once I settle down to write, I’m pretty focused. For me, as a writer, I’m interested in love, the true love kind of love that lasts lifetimes, and, in the case of James and Sarah from the Loving Husband Trilogy, beyond their human lifetimes. How can I convey that in my stories? In the James and Sarah stories, everything is about their eternal love for each other, and my main task is to figure out how to convey that in a believable way to the readers. It’s a lot of hit and misses, but after working stubbornly on my manuscript for a few months eventually I feel like I have a handle on it. And, fortunately for me, what readers respond to most between James and Sarah in the Loving Husband Trilogy is their eternal love for each other. I love reading reviews from readers about how they have connected to James and Sarah and feel as though they’re personal friends. I feel as though James and Sarah are my friends too, and I’m thrilled that readers feel that as well.

I’ll write for several hours each evening, a little longer on Saturdays since I can sleep late the next morning. One thing I can say about being a writer is that my stories are always on my mind. Even if I’m not sitting at my computer working, my characters are always running through my thoughts in one way or another. Sometimes I’m thinking about a scene in the story and how it’s going to work out. Sometimes I’m just imagining my characters in different situations. I could be doing anything else and functioning reasonably well in the real world, but my head is still in the clouds with my stories. For me, that’s just part of being a writer.

 

 

***GIVEAWAYS***

 

 

Unknown-201Win a copy of The Salem Witch Trials: A Day by Day Chronicles of a Community Under Siege by Marilynne K. Roach. This is a factual book Meredith used to research the Salem Witch Trials:

What they say:

‘Based on over twenty years of original archival research, this history unfolds a nearly day-by-day narrative of the Salem Witch Trials as the citizens of Salem experienced the outbreak of hysteria.’

Entry via Rafflecopter. Giveaway open to US residents only and closes on August 27th.

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finalWin a dinner for 2 at Salem’s very own Adriatic Restaurant & Bar!

Enter our giveaway and you could be the lucky winner of a sumptuous meal for 2 at Mediterranean eatery Adriactic Restaurant & Bar. Set within a warm interior, you’ll not only be treated to excellent, fresh cuisine but you’ll also find yourself in the heart of Her Dear & Loving Husband’s setting.

Entry via Rafflecopter. Giveaway is for food only. Airfare is not included. Closes on August 27th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win 1 of 5 e-copies of Her Dear & Loving Husband by Meredith Allard

Entry via Rafflecopter. Closes on August 27th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Author PhotoAuthor Bio – Meredith Allard:

Since 2000, Meredith Allard has been the Executive Editor of The Copperfield Review, an award-winning literary journal for readers and writers of historical fiction. She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from California State University, Northridge, and she has taught creative writing and writing historical fiction seminars at Learning Tree University, UNLV, and the Las Vegas Writers Conference.

Her short fiction and articles have appeared in journals such as The Paumanok Review, Moondance, Wild Mind, Muse Apprentice Guild, Writers Weekly, CarbLite, and ViewsHound. She is the author of the Amazon Best-Selling Loving Husband Trilogy, as well as the historical novels Victory Garden, Woman of Stones, and My Brother’s Battle.

Victory Garden and Woman of Stones have also been Amazon Best-Sellers in the Historical Fiction and Religious Fiction categories.

Find out more about The Loving Husband Trilogy:

Find Meredith Allard:

Website

Facebook

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Goodreads

Book cover reveal: Lying to Meet You

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Title: Lying to Meet You

Author: Anna Garner

Expected release date: September 5, 2013

Genre: Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit

Age Group: Adult – but it might appeal to YA/NA readers

Cover designed by: Sue Traynor

Does being in a relationship make you a hot commodity in the eyes of would-be suitors?

Chloe Lane is about to find out. When her childhood pal, Ethan Webster, asks her to play the part of his girlfriend in order to test this theory, she reluctantly agrees. As a work-crazed fashion designer, boutique owner and soon-to-be reality show judge, Chloe has no time for a real boyfriend, but being part of a faux pair will do just fine. Not that she has any intention of trying to attract someone else.

However…

Opportunity unexpectedly knocks when Chloe meets fellow reality judge, William Shannon. Super successful and super sexy, this high-powered entrepreneur inspires Chloe to test Ethan’s theory herself. Now, on top of keeping her fashion business productive, carving out a new role as a television personality, maintaining a fake relationship and attempting to lay the groundwork for a future relationship, she’s lying to William, lying to her friends, lying to her family and quite possibly lying to herself. Will Chloe be able to keep it all together, or are things about to explode?

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About the Author

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Born and raised in the Midwest, Anna Garner’s adventurous spirit kicked in after graduating from high school, and she’s since lived in Boston, NYC and London. For several years, Anna worked in fashion–first as a journalist and then as a shopkeeper, and for a while she dabbled in design. Although chick lit was her first love, Anna started writing quirky romances, and her first one, Fashioning a Romance, was published in May 2012 under the name of Libby Mercer. This was followed by two more quirky romances: Unmasking Maya and The Karmic Connection. Since Lying to Meet You is written in old school chick lit style and isn’t a clear cut love story, Anna decided to publish it under her real name. She currently lives in San Francisco and spends most of her time cranking out more stories.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAnnaGarner

I will be reviewing the book to celebrate its release in September

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An Abundance of Katherines

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When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy–loving best friend riding shotgun—but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

My opinion: This was the third John Green book I have read after getting hooked after reading the amazing The Fault in Our Stars last summer.

In this one we meet teenage boy Colin, who astonishingly has not only had 19 girlfriends, but all of them happened to be called Katherine! Following his break up with Katherine number 19, he embarks on a road trip with his best friend Hassan. Adventure ensues and we get to follow Colin on his journey to becoming a man.

Although I enjoyed this book, I found Colin’s luck with women a bit unbelievable as he is portrayed as being a geek with few friends. I also found Colin a bit whiny and overall thought the book was a little long winded (even though the page count is fairly small).

This was nowhere near the best young adult book I have read, but I can see the appeal for some readers. For me, it just didn’t sit in quite the same league as TFiOS and Paper Towns. It hasn’t put me off reading more of John Green’s work though.

My rating: Three stars

Perfect

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In 1972, two seconds were added to time. It was in order to balance clock time with the movement of the earth. Byron Hemming knew this because James Lowe had told him and James was the cleverest boy at school. But how could time change? The steady movement of hands around a clock was as certain as their golden futures.

Then Byron’s mother, late for the school run, makes a devastating mistake. Byron’s perfect world is shattered. Were those two extra seconds to blame? Can what follows ever be set right?

My opinion: The title of this book says it all for me. I absolutely loved it.

I requested this from Netgalley as I was intrigued by what Rachel Joyce’s second offering could bring. I read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry last year after it was long listed or the Man Booker Prize, and although found it enjoyable, just didn’t get all of the hype.

I started reading this book on holiday a few weeks ago and was immediately hooked. The characters were just so lively and I instantly cared for Byron. The easy going writing style made it a perfect book to lie by the pool with, and I can imagine snuggling under the duvet with it on a cold night.

The story alternates between 1972 and more or less the modern day until both parts become one and the full picture is unfurled. Many different topics are touched on, from childhood friendship to OCD. This was what I was expecting from Harold Fry!

The story culminates when two worlds come together. It is touching, amusing at times and totally heartbreaking. When reading I had the same feeling as I did when I read Atonement. I also considered going back to the beginning and starting again! The mark of a truly fantastic book.

My rating: An extremely well deserved five stars

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Holiday reads

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I know it’s been a few weeks now since I came back from holiday, but hey, this post is better late than never! We had a week away in Rhodes in July and it was just what the doctor ordered. Sun, sea and lots of reading!

When we were away I got through 3 books whilst relaxing by the pool. I read Perfect by Rachel Joyce, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green and The Wish List by Jane Costello. I will get reviews of each of these books posted soon.

I was really interested in seeing what others were reading around the pool. Mainly because I’m nosy, but also as a bit of research to see what books were popular at the moment! I am pleased to say that I didn’t see anyone reading Fifty Shades of Grey! Last year almost every other person was reading a paperback of one of the books around the pool, and who knows what the Kindle users were reading!!

This year there were some clear favourites for holiday reads. Lots of people were reading Inferno, the new book from Dan Brown. I read The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons when I was about 18 and there was a lot of hype surrounding them. I enjoyed them at the time as they were a bit of a revelation about what types of ‘grown up’ books there were out there. I doubt I will read Inferno though, especially as I haven’t yet got round to reading any of his other books and don’t feel any real inclination.

Another popular book around the pool was The Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Ran Away by Jonas Jonasson. I downloaded this to my Kindle at some point last year and started reading it in about November. I didn’t mind what I read, but I put it to be side after about 25% as it was fairly similar in style to a few other books I had read around the time. We seemed to have a glut last year of a few books that were quite similarly titled and alike in style, and I think I just overdid it a bit. This is a book I would like to get back to at some point though.

I also saw a couple of people reading A Streetcat Named Bob by James Bowen. I read this last year after borrowing it from my mum and really enjoyed reading about former stray cat Bob’s relationship with his new owner. Bob really seems a remarkable cat and I’m looking forward to reading the second book about him that was published this summer.

Other than these books there was a real mix of books being reads, from Game of Thrones to Miranda Hart’s autobiography Is It Just Me. It was good to see a mix of books being enjoyed in the sun, rather than just lots of badly written erotica!

Anyway, I had better get on with writing my reviews of my holiday reads so you can all see what I thought and try and make a dent in my TBR piles!

Are you going anywhere nice on holiday this year or have you already been? What are your chosen holiday reads?