I’ve Got Your Number

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I’ve lost it. 😦 The only thing in the world I wasn’t supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It’s been in Magnus’s family for three generations. And now, the very same day his parents are coming, I’ve lost it. The very same day. Do not hyperventilate, Poppy. Stay positive!! 🙂

A couple of glasses of bubbly with the girls at a charity do and Poppy’s life has gone into meltdown. Not only has she lost her engagement ring, but in the panic that followed, she’s lost her phone too. As she paces shakily round the hotel foyer she spots an abandoned phone in a bin. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number with the hotel staff. It was meant to be!

Except the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back, and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading all his messages and wading into his personal life. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, phone messages and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents, can things get any more tangled?

My opinion: This is the first Sophie Kinsella book I have read for a long time after being put off following reading a couple of books written under her real name, Madeleine Wickham, a few years ago.

I definitely won’t leave it as long before reading one of her books again! I had this book for my birthday and was hooked into the story straight away. Poppy is at a charity bash with the girls and showing off her very expensive, family heirloom engagement ring given to her by her fiancé Magnus. When the fire alarm goes off, all hell breaks loose and the ring goes missing. In her panic to try and find her ring, Poppy has her phone stolen, but happens to find a phone in the bin. She takes the phone and ends up linked to it’s previous owner’s boss and she unofficially takes on the duties of his PA in exchange for use if the phone until she finds the ring. Sound straightforward? Well, as you can imagine, it’s not!

The story is fast paced and had a number of twists and turns that you won’t expect. Poppy is a fun character who feels that her fiancé’s family look down on her. They are all geniuses (or is it geniuii?!) and she feels like they don’t think that she is good enough (or clever enough) for their previous son. She works with her best friends and at times seem to have an interesting relationship. A few times when I was reading the book, I thought that Poppy could do much better and should get some new friends. But hey, that may just have been me!

I really enjoyed this book and looked forward to picking it up. There were some great characters and I loved Poppy’s developing friendship with Sam. I’d really like to read more about the characters, so would welcome a sequel to this book. I will definitely seek out some more Sophie Kinsella books after reading this!

My rating: 5 stars!!

About A Girl

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I’d lost my job. I’d lost the love of my life. My mum wasn’t talking to me. My best friend was epically pissed off. And my flatmate probably had a hit out on me by now. I never meant for things to get so out of hand…

Tess Brookes has always been a Girl with a Plan. But when her carefully constructed Plan goes belly up, she’s forced to reconsider.

After accidently answering her flatmate Vanessa’s phone, she decides that since being Tess isn’t going so well, why shouldn’t she try out being Vanessa? With nothing left to lose, she accepts Vanessa’s photography assignment to Hawaii – she used to be an amateur snapper, how hard can it be? Right?

But Tess is soon in big trouble – she isn’t a photographer, she isn’t Vanessa, and the gorgeous journalist on the shoot with her, who is making it very clear he’d like to get into her pants, is an egotistical monster.

Far from home and in someone else’s shoes, Tess must decide whether to fight on through, or ‘fess up and run…

My opinion: This is the first Lindsey Kelk book I’ve read, despite having a couple of her I Heart books on my TBR pile. I think this book was a fab place to start because I LOVED it!

The story is about a girl called Tess whose life has always gone to plan. Until now. Everything goes spectacularly wrong for Tess and after spending a few days dealing with it in the only way she can think of (under her duvet), she makes some drastic decisions that change her life and take her on adventures!

We follow Tess as she flies over to Hawaii and pretends to be Vanessa on a photography job. She is to be working on a fashion shoot which doesn’t quite go to plan and has to keep up her alter ego whilst interacting with the journalist, art director and locals. She finds this quite difficult and you just know that adventure will ensue!

I really enjoyed this book and found it hard to put down. I loved Tess and that she is a normal girl in extraordinary circumstances. The storyline kept me hooked and I just couldn’t guess what was going to happen next. The characters were great and I really liked that there was a real mix of likeable and villain type characters (I’m thinking of the real Vanessa here!).

I would definitely recommend this book and am looking forward to reading more of Lindsey’s books. I have to warn you though, this book has the biggest cliffhanger I have EVER read in a chick lit book and it will leave you with questions that need to be answered and a huge book hangover!!

My rating: A fantastic five stars

Kismetology

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Finding the perfect man isn’t easy. Especially when it’s for your mother…

Mothers. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them, can’t live three doors down the road without them interfering in every aspect of your life.

Mackenzie Atkinson’s mother has meddled in her love life once too often and something has to be done. Mackenzie decides to turn the tables and find love for her lonely mother.
Her lonely and very fussy mother.
Surely finding an older gentleman looking for love won’t be that hard, right?
Wrong.
If you’ve ever thought that boys grow up, here’s the problem: They don’t. Ever.
And Mackenzie is about to learn that the hard way.

Faced with a useless boyfriend, dressed up dogs, men who wear welly boots on dates, men who shouldn’t be allowed out in public, and men who make reptiles seem like attractive company – will she ever find the perfect man for her neurotic mother?

My opinion: I read this book as it was written by an up and coming indie author and I liked the premise of the story. I have read a number of indie books and have to say that Jaimie is up there with the best of them!

I have to say that this book is extremely well written and is an impressive full length novel. This is particularly unusual for a first time self-published author. I would even go as far as saying that Jaimie has the potential to be up there with the great chick lit writers as I have read plenty of books by conventionally published chick lit authors that pale in comparison to this one.

The story is about a girl named Mackenzie who moves in with her boyfriend a few doors down from her meddling mother and sets out to find her a man to keep her occupied. The book is very funny and thoughtful and isn’t as predictable as a lot of chick lit. There are enough events in the book to keep you interested and it isn’t over complicated with too many characters as a lot of books can be. I also enjoyed the pace of the book and how the story unfolded.

I have to say that I think Jaimie is an indie author to keep an eye on. She has real talent and as the quality of her first book is so high then I am particularly excited about reading more of her work.

If you like authors such as Talli Roland, Jane Costello and Marian Keyes then this book is for you!

My rating: A fabulous four stars

I originally reviewed this book in 2012 over at Malibu Sunrise

Author interview: Holly Smale

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Firstly I’d like to wish a very happy publication day to Holly Smale as the second book in the Geek Girl trilogy is published today! I’ve already got my copy preordered and can’t wait to read it!! Holly has very kindly agreed to be interviewed by me to celebrate the publication of Model Misfit.

1. Hi Holly! Welcome to Sheli Reads. Can you tell us a bit about Geek Girl, and the latest book in the series, Model Misfit?

Geek Girl is essentially a modern, comedy fairytale: a kind of retelling of The Ugly Duckling crossed with Cinderella. It’s about a fifteen year old geek, Harriet Manners, who gets unexpectedly spotted on a school trip by a modelling agent and decides that this is her opportunity to reinvent herself. As she soon finds out: life doesn’t always work like that.

In Model Misfit, Harriet is still a model but there’s an entirely different set of challenges. She’s still finding her way, like most teenagers (actually, like most adults too), and she makes mistakes and chooses the wrong path more often that not. Hopefully those who loved her and her friends and family in the first book will enjoy seeing them again, although there are some new faces this time as well!

2. I felt that your main character, Harriet, was quite similar to me as a teenager (apart from bring beautiful and getting a modelling contract – I was average and got a job in a museum!). Did you base Harriet on your own teenage years?

I did, yes. We’re not identical – in my head she looks different, and we have subtly different temperaments (my temper is far worse) – but I’d be lying if I said she wasn’t largely based on me as a teenager. My agent has a terrible habit of calling me Harriet, which indicates I haven’t changed much since then!

3. Some of the situations that Harriet got into made me laugh out loud when reading the book. Were they based on real life events?

Yes and no. I tend to blend real life and imagination to the point where I’m not even sure what’s real or not anymore. Some of the really key narrative points did really happen – I was a geek, I was unpopular, I was spotted at the Clothes Show, and the Big Bullying scene was based on a real event – but the vast majority of it is a story I made up. I’m never sure if that’s what people want to hear or not!

4. What can we expect Harriet to get up to next in Model Misfit?

Model Misfit starts six months after Geek Girl finishes, which means there’s a whole new set of problems for Harriet to contend with: exams, a heavily pregnant stepmother, the prospect of a new sibling, a summer holiday without Nat… And Nick. As Harriet is still realising, things don’t always go according to plan – no matter how many you write to try and make them – and her love life is certainly no exception.

In an effort to run away from it all she takes a modelling job in Tokyo, and – in typical Harriet Manners style – only succeeds in getting into even more trouble.

5. What inspired you to put pen to paper and write the Geek Girl series?

I wanted to write a story about outsiders, about fairytales, about what it feels like to feel lonely and sad and lost and fit in nowhere. I wanted it to be funny, and I wanted it to be wholesome, and I wanted it to be warm and good-hearted. I guess the geek-turns-model seemed like a perfect twist on the Ugly Duckling story, and it felt right. It felt like a story I knew how to tell.

6. YA is a genre that seems to have exploded in recent years with some fantastic books being published. Have you got a favourite YA author?

What’s strange is that there have been amazing YA books for decades; it’s just our awareness and definition of them that has changed, because they have their own separate category now. To Kill a Mockingbird is largely from the perspective of a six year old narrator; in Catcher in the Rye, Holden is 17; Lord of the Flies is about a group of teenage boys. Lord of the Rings is YA, and so is The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe; Discworld; everything by Judy Blume; Adrian Mole. YA has always been some of the best fiction in the world: we just used to lump it in with adult fiction.

As a teenager I loved LM Montgomery, Sue Townsend, Harper Lee: they probably had the biggest impact on me, and I still reread them as an adult.

7. Do you have any writing tips for fellow geek girls who aspire to be an author one day?

I think writing is like anything: you have to learn the nuts and bolts before you can do anything really creative with it. You wouldn’t try to build a wardrobe without knowing how to make a finger-joint or use a plane, and the same goes for books: read as much as you can, of as many different types and genres as you can, and learn the basics of grammar and punctuation until they’re second nature. Then write and write, practice and practice, until you find a unique voice that’s yours.

That’s the key, really. The more you can be yourself in writing – using the tools you’ve learnt from others – the better the writing will be.

8. What is your favourite place to write? Do you have an office at home or do you like to be more creative with where you work?

My favourite place to write is on a laptop, in a comfy cushion, staring at a rice field or sea, surrounded by flowers and a light breeze and the smell of a delicious dinner cooking. Unfortunately more often than not I tend to write in my dark little bedroom overlooking a T junction in central London, surrounded by a pungent reminder of burnt toast and the sound of sirens from Elephant and Castle.

9. Do you have a favourite snack to eat when you are writing?

Almonds and apple green tea.

10. What is your first book related memory? Do you think that it inspired you to go on to be a writer?

When I was five, I was totally obsessed with The Faraway Tree and would carry it around with me everywhere like a teddy-bear: I was so deeply engrossed in the world it gave me that I couldn’t bear to physically put it down. I think I knew from that moment that I wanted to part of that magical process. I wanted to create worlds too.

11. And lastly, if you were an animal, what would you be?

A cat. I am disturbingly cat-like.

Thank you so much Holly for some great answers and for being a great sport. I too have always loved Sue Townsend and never thought of Adrian Mole as being YA! Also, I love the comparison to a cat!

Again, happy publication day and I hope to review here at Sheli Reads very soon!

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Holly Smale fell in love with writing at the age of five, when she realised that books didn’t grow on trees like apples. She completed her first rhyming couplet poem – “The Unicorn” – at the age of seven, and still brings it out for public readings at family dinner parties.

A passion for travel, adventure and wearing no shoes has since led her all over the world: she has visited 18 countries, spent two years working as an English teacher in Japan, volunteered in Nepal, been bartered for in Jamaica and had a number of bags, wallets and ear-plugs stolen in both Australia and India.

As a teenager, she also modelled (very badly) for a top London agency in the hope that eventually they would send her somewhere exciting.

They didn’t.

Holly has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Shakespeare, and is currently a writer based in England.

Liebster Award

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I’m pleased to day that I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award by the lovely Cherelle over at Reading in Peace!

So what is the Liebster Award?

The idea behind the award is to give new and upcoming bloggers the opportunity to build their community and get to know one another. It’s the perfect way to meet new people and let them find out some interesting facts about you.

Here’s some rules:
1. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer;
2. Nominate some other bloggers!
3. Let them know!

I have also been nominated by Emma at Chicklit Vs Fantasy! I will answer her questions in a separate post, but will only make one set of nominations.

1. Who is your all time favourite book boyfriend?

It may be boring, but it has to be Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones! I can’t explain why. It just is. Being played by Colin Firth obviously! 😉

2. Have you ever started a book and not been able to finish it? If so what was it?

Oh there are loads that I haven’t been able to finish. If I don’t like a book I don’t waste any time on it, I stop reading and move on! One of the most recent books I couldn’t finish was The Casual Vacancy. It just wasn’t for me!

3. Who is your role model/inspiration?

Ooh this is a hard one. I think overall it has to be Winston Churchill. He is the source of many inspirational quotes and led this country through what I find to be one of the most interesting times in history. There are many other people I find inspirational though, from authors, to politicians and even businessmen.

4. If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be and why?

This is another really hard one! I’m not sure I could pin down just one! I think I’d like to meet any of the main characters from Jane Costello’s books as they are always so down to earth and hilarious!

5. Where is your favourite place to read?

My ultimate favourite place is lying next to the pool in a luxury resort somewhere like Greece or the Canaries with a cocktail in my hand! I love reading lots of places though. Sat in the sun outside, sitting next to a real fire, cwtched up in bed, sat in a cafe or on a long train journey. More or less anywhere really!

6. If you were stuck on a desert island what 2 books would you take with you?

Does my Kindle count as one book?! If I had to choose two I think it would be a Five on a a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton as it’s a childhood favourite that I just keep going back to and The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber as it’s fantastic story telling and it’s bloody massive!!

7. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I’m not particularly well travelled, but a place I really want to visit is Italy.

8. What is your favourite TV program?

It had to be Whitechapel. It’s so spooky and scary and is brilliantly clever.

9. If you could choose, what book would you like to see made into a movie?

I’m not sure what I could answer for this. I generally find film adaptations pretty disappointing. There are some brilliant TV adaptations, but part of the magic for me is that the worlds only exist on the page and in my imagination. Everyone will imagine things differently when they read a book, and that unique world is one of the things I love the most.

10. What is your favourite genre to read?

I read quite a few genres, but at the moment I would say that it is chick lit. The books and writers have come on a lot in the last few years and there are some fantastic books out there. I just wish I had the time to read more of them!

Ok, so here are my questions!

1. If you could be any fictional character who would you be?
2. What is your favourite film/TV adaptation?
3. What was your favourite book as a child?
4. Do you read any non-fiction? If so, what topic do you read about?
5. What book are you going to read next?
6. What has been your favourite book of 2013 so far?
7. Who would play you in a movie about your life?
8. Can you read in more than one language?
9. Which author would you recommend readers follow on Twitter for entertainment purposes?
10. What book is at the top of your Christmas wishlist?

My nominees are:

Zoe at The Book Lovers

Sam at The Book Corner

Clare at A Book and a Tea

Kate at Books with Bunny

Have fun ladies!

I will post my answers to Emma’s questions later in the week.

Girl with a Pearl Earring

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Winner of the 2000 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award! Alex Award winner! Tracy Chevalier transports readers to a bygone time and place in this richly imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer’s most celebrated paintings. History and fiction merge seamlessly in this luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of sixteen-year-old Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with genius…even as she herself is immortalized in canvas and oil.

My opinion: I downloaded this book to my Kindle after seeing it in one of the winter sales. I was a little bit apprehensive about whether I would get on with this book as I can struggle with historical fiction set in this period. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the book as it was a fantastic read!

It is set in 17th Century Holland, but it does not feel overly old fashioned in the way it is written and really drags you into the life of the main character, Griet. The author has based this story on a real painting by Johannes Vermeer and has built up an amazing fictional account of how the painting came to be created.

The language in the story is fantastic. It is not overly wordy, yet paints a vivid picture in the readers mind, bringing to life the painters art through the art of writing. I would definitely recommend this book and will go back to read it again at some point.

My rating: Five stars

Originally reviewed at Reading in Progress

It’s Raining Men

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Best friends May, Lara and Clare are desperate for a holiday. They have been dreaming of a little cottage away from it all, long walks in the country and just a bit of time away from it all. But when they arrive in Ren Dullem, a small Yorkshire seaside town, it seems it is not the place they thought it was…

May has never quite found her niche in life, or her Mr Right. Then in Dullem she falls hook line and sinker at first glance for one of the inhabitants – but he’s already taken.

Lara is living with James and his awful step-children who taunt her with tales of his younger, prettier ex whom they adored. The woman who Lara walks in to find James in bed with despite all his protestations that he wouldn’t touch her again with a barge pole. Reeling from the hurt, she needs the sea air of Dullem to heal her. What she doesn’t need is to be constantly in battle with the owner of the holiday cottage – a man who is every bit as bitter and resentful and untrusting of the other sex as she is.

Clare’s fiance Hugh wants her to go and live abroad with him for two years, but she’s just been offered the promotion of a life-time. She needs some headspace to think about what she needs to do, but then she meets a very bad boy who is everything Hugh isn’t – impulsive, wild and dangerous. Will this holiday be the break they all need?

Or will it bring them all to breaking point…?

My opinion: This is the first Milly Johnson book I’ve read, despite having had a few on my TBR for ages. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read one of Milly’s books as I absolutely loved this book!

It’s about a group of three friends with high powered London jobs who all have bad luck with men and no time to relax. They decide to go off on a spa break to relax and catch up, but things don’t quite go to plan. They end up in Ren Dullem which seems like a seaside equivalent to Royston Vaysey! Despite initial reservations, they carry on with their holiday and adventures ensue.

Each of the characters in this book were well crafted and easy to visualise. I loved the way that he book was written and the detail was enough to ignite the readers imagination without being too heavy. The book has a sprinkling of fantasy, but just enough to make it a bit different without going into the realms of vampires and trolls.

I really enjoyed this book and looked forward to picking it up in any spare time, which is definitely the mark of a good book. If I could have I would have stayed up all night to read it! I won’t leave it too long before picking up another of Milly’s books!

My rating: A fabulous five stars!