Holiday reads: Part 1

As I am currently soaking up the rays with lots of good books (and possibly a cocktail in my hand!), I thought that I would share with you some of my recommendations for books to read wherever you go on holiday this year – whether it is a deckchair in the back garden or somewhere slightly more exotic. The first five of my picks are featured today, with the second part on Thursday! Enjoy…

18516205Imogen and her friends have had their fill of budget holidays, cattle-class flights and 6 a.m. offensives for a space by the pool.


So when one of the group wins a VIP holiday at Barcelona’s hippest new hotel, they plan to sip champagne with the jet set, party with the glitterati and switch off in surroundings of unapologetic luxury.


But as they mingle with movie stars, mafia bosses and millionaires, it becomes clear – with riotous consequences – that even in the most glamorous of locations, things can go wrong. Very wrong . . .

You can read my review here.

 

 

 

22351228Faye Dobson has lost her sparkle. Living on film star fantasies and vague memories of a marriage that once was, she can’t help feeling that life is passing her by. She dreams of being whisked to Paris for dinner, making three wishes at the Trevi fountain and having sex under the stars. But the wrinkles are multiplying, her husband’s passion is for plumbing, and the nearest she’ll get to Rome is a take-away pizza.

So when Faye meets Dan the gorgeous Australian surfer guy working in the local deli she can’t help but wonder what it would be like to see the world. He is blonde, tanned, ten years younger and bakes the most amazing lemon cake. Unlike her husband Dan actually listens to Faye, his smile makes her feel fizzy inside, and when he smiles… Oh. My. God.

But is Faye being silly? What would Dan see in someone like her? Even if he did have feelings for her, could she give everything up to be with him?

A laugh-out-loud, bittersweet comedy about taking your life back before it’s too late.

You can read my review here and my interview with Sue here.

 

22032626At her beloved husband’s funeral, Carla Pride discovers that Martin never divorced his first wife and has been living a double life with her. And his other wife, Julie Pride, is determined to take everything from Carla – her home, her money, and her memories.

When Will Linton’s business goes bust he at least thinks that with the support of his trophy wife Nicole he will rise to the top again. But Nicole isn’t going to stick around with ‘a loser’ and Will finds himself at rock bottom.

Molly Jones is being bullied into going into a retirement home by her ‘concerned’ daughter-in-law Sherry and son Gram. Then the love of Molly’s life walks in through her door – a man who broke Molly’s heart into little pieces many years ago. But he says he is dying and wants to spend the time he has left with her.

All people in need of a little love and compassion which they find by chance in the stationery and teashop on the corner run by the ever-cheerful Leni, a woman that site developer Shaun McCarthy finds annoying beyond annoying for her ability to remain unrealistically upbeat about everything.

But is the world of Leni Merryman as full of rainbows and sparkles as everyone thinks? Or is her smile papering over many cracks in her heart that will soon be shattered unwittingly by her new friends?

You can read my review here.

18394999Two couples, one honeymoon destination, and enough secrets to end both marriages. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell

How can one honeymoon cause so much trouble?

Much as Emma loves Tom, she would never have got married if he hadn’t insisted. But with Tom sick for the whole week, shouldn’t she at least take advantage of the entertainment?

Winston married Melissa after a three-month whirlwind romance. As a breakfast TV fitness star, he’s anxious to keep things private. But the arrival of Melissa’s two children soon puts paid to that.

Rosie arrived at the Villa Rosa homeless and pregnant when she was just seventeen. Now, sixteen years later, she runs the place. However, the appearance of Winston throws her into confusion. He might not remember her, but she has never forgotten him.

By the end of the week, none of their lives will be the same. But how will they cope after the honeymoon is over?

You can read my review here and Janey’s guest post here.

 

21194214Is Italian really the language of love? A new class of students hopes to find out. Anna’s recently been told the father she’s never met is Italian. Now she’s baking focaccia, whipping up tiramisu and swotting up on her vocabulary, determined to make it to Italy so she can find him in person. Catherine’s husband has walked out on her, and she’s trying to pick up the pieces of her life. But she’ll need courage as well as friends when she discovers his deception runs even deeper than infidelity. Sophie’s the teacher of the class, who’d much rather be back in sunny Sorrento. She can’t wait to escape the tensions at home and go travelling again. But sometimes life – and love – can surprise you when you least expect it. As the evening class gets underway, friendships form and secrets from Italy begin to emerge. With love affairs blossoming in the most unlikely places, and hard decisions to face, it’s going to be a year that Anna, Catherine and Sophie will never forget.

You can read my review here

 

 

 

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Author interview: Sue Watson

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Today I am very lucky to have the lovely Sue Watson, author of Love, Lies and Lemon Cake, taking part in an author interview and talking about writing, men and of course, cake!

1. Hi Sue, welcome to Sheli Reads. I loved your latest book Love, Lies and Lemon Cake. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Thank you for having me. I hope there’s cake?

Love, Lies and Lemon Cake is a book that has been in my mind for a long time. It was actually a chapter title in my first book Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes and so I started with the title and worked from that, which I have never done before. Faye, the heroine of the novel is flawed, funny, unsophisticated and a bit of a dreamer. She’s married to a man she doesn’t love, in a job she’s bored with and her daughter’s growing up, so when she discovers a ‘living list’ of things she’d planned to do when she was 18 she’s taken back to those heady days of her youth when anything was possible. Riding through Italy on a pistachio-green Vespa, throwing coins in the Trevi fountain, flying to Paris for dinner and having sex under the stars are just a few of the things on the list. But at 42, she is horrified to discover she only ticked two things off that list – getting married and having a baby. So being a dreamer, Faye decides to do something about it – and plans to take her life back, before it’s too late… but what will she have to sacrifice to get that life?

2. When you were planning the book, was Dan always going to be so lovely or did he just turn out that way?

I have to admit, I fell a little bit in love with Dan. I took my unbridled passion for Ryan Gosling and added the sexy Australian accent and came up with a rather delicious recipe for a man. And no I never imagined he’d be so yummy, which makes me think he must exist because he appeared from nowhere and just took over. I have to keep reminding myself he’s not real and the other day I was in the supermarket (buying Serrano ham and queen green olives obviously) and I heard an Australian accent. It was so funny – for a split second I wondered if it was him! Later I decided to up my medication so I was fine, but it really got to me. As for Dan’s physicality – anyone who saw Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love, will know what I mean – enough said ladies! Ryan won’t mind me using his body for my art – I know we are soul mates – he just hasn’t met me yet.

3. Who was your favourite character to write about?

I loved all the characters – I always do – and by the end of writing a book, most authors will tell you they really miss their characters. But I always enjoy writing the dialogue for quirky characters and Sue (Faye’s friend and boss at the hairdresser’s where she works) was great fun. Sue is a lovely lady but she has delusions of grandeur and uses long words, but they are never the right words. Her husband left her for a red-headed air hostess, and she’s had to embrace the online dating world with gusto – which brings with it plenty of opportunities for humour. I also loved writing lines for Mandy, the tattooed beauty therapist with the looks of a European Princess and the mouth of a docker… these characters write themselves.

4. Reading Love, Lies and Lemon Cake made me extremely hungry – I had to make a goats cheese, Serrano ham and sundried tomato sandwich! Did you snack on anything in particular when you were writing the book?

I only eat ham if it’s been dried in the mountains of Serrano – or the cooked meat aisle in Tesco! J Actually I am always, always dieting – (and always, always overweight) so I have a sensible low calorie breakfast, start writing and by mid-morning I’m starving and end up looking through cupboards for something sweet. If that fails I either head for the nearest shop and buy whatever I’m writing about – or I bake a cake.

5. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I’d always wanted to be an actress and it isn’t an obvious alternative career but I love to get inside the minds of people and imagine myself doing and feeling what my characters do… I suppose in that way I’m doing a similar job to that of an actress. I was a journalist on women’s magazines and national newspapers, then I became a TV Producer with the BBC – so my job has always been predominantly about writing. However, the big difference is that with fiction you can just make it up – after the facts and figures of TV and journalism this was a revelation and a very liberating thing.

6. Which other writers in your genre do you admire most?

I try not to read too much in my own genre because much of it is so good I am worried I will read it and feel completely inadequate. I love Marian Keyes and have been knocked out by some of the newer voices coming through like Renita D’Silva, Kelly Rimmer and Jenny Hale. My favourite genre though is psychological thrillers – I suppose it feels like a break from my day job but I love writers like Gillian Flynn, Tamar Cohen and Helen Fitzgerald – all amazing, intelligent writers with huge talent.

7. Who would be your dream dinner party guests – alive or dead?

Ryan Gosling so I can tell him about the soul mate thing and how we are meant to be together. He could tell me how he loves slightly older women – especially curvy ones originating from Manchester. We’d eat fish, chips, mushy peas and lemon cake.

8. Lastly, what can we expect from you next? Do you have anything else in the pipeline?

I’m currently writing my next book – it’s almost finished. It’s about two sisters who are very different, and live very different lives. When stuff happens to both of them they have to re-evaluate their relationship and where their lives are now taking them. It involves a bakery and the ingredients are cakes, humour, tears … and a scrumptious sprinkling of sex.

Thank you so much for having me Sheli… did someone say there’d be cake?

A huge thank you to Sue for answering my questions, and to Kim at Bookouture for arranging this interview. You can follow Sue on Twitter at @suewatsonwriter

 

 

 

Love, Lies and Lemon Cake

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Faye Dobson has lost her sparkle. Living on film star fantasies and vague memories of a marriage that once was, she can’t help feeling that life is passing her by. She dreams of being whisked to Paris for dinner, making three wishes at the Trevi fountain and having sex under the stars. But the wrinkles are multiplying, her husband’s passion is for plumbing, and the nearest she’ll get to Rome is a take-away pizza.

So when Faye meets Dan the gorgeous Australian surfer guy working in the local deli she can’t help but wonder what it would be like to see the world. He is blonde, tanned, ten years younger and bakes the most amazing lemon cake. Unlike her husband Dan actually listens to Faye, his smile makes her feel fizzy inside, and when he smiles… Oh. My. God.

But is Faye being silly? What would Dan see in someone like her? Even if he did have feelings for her, could she give everything up to be with him?

A laugh-out-loud, bittersweet comedy about taking your life back before it’s too late.

My opinion: I jumped at the chance to read this book when I was offered an advance copy. The blurb sounded right up my street and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

Faye is a 42 year old hairdresser whose daughter has left home for university, and her husband is more interested in servicing an Indesit dishwasher than her. When she finds the living list she wrote when she felt like life was one big adventure, she can’t help think that there is more to life than washing hair and cooking dinner for her husband. After deciding to do something about her need to start living again, she meets Australian Dan in the local deli. He helps her to discover a new culinary world which is bigger than sandwiches and pasties, and also helps her to start living once again.

I read this book in  more or less one sitting. I really enjoyed it and could have easily read more. Sue’s writing style just sucked me in straight away and I really felt like Faye was a normal person and I could have been friends with her. What I really liked about this book is it isn’t just another book about cake (there are a lot out there at the moment, and although there are some great books, it’s nice to read something different). I also liked the fact that this is a great standalone story and I felt like it was nicely rounded off.

Faye’s living list also made me think about my own. I have started off a list, but as I am nearing 28, I am also compiling a “30 before I’m 30” list to try and end my twenties in style. I’ll have to keep you posted on both! Although I think seeing a sunset in Santorini will also make its way onto my living list!

A great read and I’d definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for something to read on their kindle around the pool this summer. And I dare you not to fall just a little bit in love with Dan….

My rating: Five fabulous stars

I received an advance copy of the book from the publisher in return for an honest review

You can find a free excerpt of the book here.

Join in with the conversation and tweet about your living list using the hashtag #LemonCakeLivingList with @bookouture and @suewatsonwriter

United Authors of Chick Lit

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Fasten your seatbelts and put your tray tables in the upright and locked position. Over the next few days, some of your favourite Chick Lit characters will be jetting across the Atlantic to visit with fictional friends on the other side of the pond.

The event kicks off on Monday, 21 Oct.

On Tuesday, 22 Oct., read about Stella from Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes and Chloe from Lying to Meet You as they travel across the Atlantic to visit each other.

On Wednesday, 23 Oct., it’s time to discover what happens when Emma from The Pollyanna Plan and Kim from Blogger Girl meet.

On Thursday, 24 Oct., Izzy from Izzy’s Cold Feet and Jamie from Finding Lucas will be taking you on a trip alongside their characters.

And on Friday, 25 Oct., Kate from Sealed with a Kiss and Pilar from In Need of Therapy will be chatting about their overseas experiences.

Here’s a little sneak peek at the fun, frothy books and sassy gals featured in our international promo, all of which are priced at £2.99 or less:

Finding Lucas by Samantha Stroh Bailey – Daytime talk show producer Jamie Ross is beyond fed up with her toxic bad boy turned metrosexual boyfriend. Spurred on by her gang of quirky friends, she goes on a hilarious, at-times disastrous, and totally life-changing hunt to track down the ”one who got away.” But are some loves best left behind? Available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Lucas-ebook/dp/B007VIIU6A/ Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Lucas-Samantha-Stroh-Bailey-ebook/dp/B007VIIU6A and Kobo http://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/books/Finding-Lucas/-wfpLcDV6keHZR-T80qCUg

In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister – Handling the problems of hysterical hypochondriacs, lovelorn neurotics, and compulsive man whores is all in a day’s work for super-shrink Pilar Alvarez. But can she deal with her crazy Cuban family, a trio of unsuitable suitors, and a threat to her practice without ending up on the couch herself? Available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/In-Need-of-Therapy-ebook/dp/B008N6Z36Y Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/In-Need-of-Therapy-ebook/dp/B008N6Z36Y and B&N http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-need-of-therapy-tracie-banister/1112265620?ean=2940015006889

Lying to Meet You by Anna Garner – Overworked New York fashion girl Chloe Lane has no time for a real relationship, but when her childhood pal asks her to play the part of his girlfriend in order to test a theory, she decides to go for it. The lies start piling up and things start getting crazy. Will Chloe be able to keep it together? Available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Lying-to-Meet-You-ebook/dp/B00EZR5M9I Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lying-to-Meet-You-ebook/dp/B00EZR5M9I and B&N http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lying-to-meet-you-anna-garner/1116838753?ean=2940148616924

Sealed with a Kiss by Rachael Lucas – Kate breathes a sigh of relief when she’s dumped at her best friend’s wedding. When she takes a job on the island of Auchenmor, she’s determined to have a year off men, but that’s before she rescues Flora the seal pup with the help of Roddy, her mysterious new boss… Available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Sealed-with-a-Kiss-ebook/dp/B00BE9EUW0/ and Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sealed-with-a-Kiss-ebook/dp/B00BE9EUW0/

The Pollyanna Plan by Talli Roland – Emma Beckett has always looked down on ‘the glass is half full’ optimists. But when she loses her high-powered job and fiancé, Emma makes a radical decision: from here on in, she’ll attempt to see the upside, no matter how dire the situation. Can adopting a positive attitude give Emma the courage to build a new life, or is finding the good in everything a very bad idea? Available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/The-Pollyanna-Plan-Talli-Roland-ebook/dp/B00AFAW2GK and Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Pollyanna-Plan-Talli-Roland-ebook/dp/B00AFAW2GK

Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr – Kimberly Long has two passions: her successful chick lit blog and Nicholas, her handsome colleague down the hall. But when her high school nemesis pops onto the chick lit scene with a hot new book and eyes for Nicholas, Kim has to make some quick revisions to her own life story. Available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Blogger-Girl-ebook/dp/B00EDTLDSW Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blogger-Girl-ebook/dp/B00EDTLDSW B&N http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blogger-girl-meredith-schorr/1116358028?ean=2940148503125 and Apple iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/blogger-girl/id686654939?mt=11

Izzy’s Cold Feet by Sarah Louise Smith – Izzy is engaged to Greg, who is everything a girl could want. The trouble is – all she can think about is the men she loved before she met him. In the week leading up to her wedding day, Izzy is forced to ask herself who she loves the most. And, given the choice, who would she want to spend her life with? Available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Izzys-Cold-Sarah-Louise-Smith/dp/1909841005/
Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Izzys-Cold-Sarah-Louise-Smith/dp/1909841005/ B&N http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/izzys-cold-feet-sarah-louise-smith/1116263752 and UK Nook http://uk.nook.com/ebooks/izzys-cold-feet-by-sarah-louise-smith/2940045154499

Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes by Sue Watson – TV Producer Stella is over worked, over weight and under fire battling to balance family, career and those weighing scales. In the past she’s always found comfort at the bottom of her mixing bowl but now the most delicious lemon sponge with zesty frosting has no effect. However, life is about to get even tougher… and Stella has to face some truths about herself, her life and her future. Available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Girls-Fairy-Cakes-ebook/dp/B005L92JB8 and Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fat-Girls-Fairy-Cakes-Watson-ebook/dp/B005L92JB8

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:

Tuesday, 22 Oct.
Stella will be on Anna Garner’s blog http://libby-mercer.blogspot.com/ and Chloe will be on Sue Watson’s blog http://fatgirlsandfairycakes.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, 23 Oct.
Emma will be on Meredith Schorr’s blog http://meredithschorr.com/blog/ and Kim will be on Talli Roland’s blog http://talliroland.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 24 Oct.
Izzy will be on Samantha Stroh Bailey’s blog http://samanthastrohbailey.blogspot.ca/ and Jamie will be on Sarah Louise Smith’s blog http://sarahlouisesmith.com/

Friday, 25 Oct.
Kate will be on Tracie Banister’s blog http://traciebanister.blogspot.com/ and Pilar will be on Rachael Lucas’s blog http://rachaellucas.com/blog/