Second Guessing by Gail Ward Olmsted

secondguess

 

Length: 218 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Jill Griffin & Ben Fein are meant to be together… said no one ever!
Jill has built a successful career writing romantic ballads for many of today’s top performers. Since the tragic end of her marriage a couple years back, the 40-something single mom has all but abandoned hope for a love story of her own.
Ben is a brash, young boy-band singer seeking a solo career who hires Jill to write for him. He’s got a dark secret from his past that he wants to keep hidden.
The attraction between the two is red-hot and when Ben falls hard for Jill, he doesn’t care who knows it. Jill’s been burned before and wants to take things slow, keeping their relationship out of the glare of the media. After a gossip columnist exposes their affair, she’s forced to decide if she can risk letting go of her past in order to build a life with Ben.
When Ben’s past makes headlines, Jill begins to wonder how well she really knows him. But as Ben climbs to the top of the pop charts, he’s determined to succeed… at convincing Jill to take a second chance on love.
Second Guessing is the love story of Jill and Ben, who are so wrong for each other that they may actually be right!

The Review: I previously read the brilliant  Driving On The Left by this author and knew that again I’d be stepping outside of my comfort zone, moving more to romance as opposed to a book that provides the laughs I generally crave, but again I beyond enjoyed!

This is the story of Jill Griffin, who I’m assuming people met in Guessing At Normal which I hadn’t read. I read this book as a standalone and totally enjoyed it that way! I have to admit when I started reading I was thrilled with the music aspect, as Jill was arranging a tribute concert for her husband (from Guessing at Normal). Ben is one of the lead acts in this concert and him and Jill are soon seeing each other to the excitement of the media. I have to admit I was quite protective of Jill at first and not very trusting, and was thrilled when the author gave us Ben’s pov. The pacing in this book was excellent with something happening around each corner, bandmates in mutiny, crazed fans-the lot! I absolutely flew through the book and was very satisfied at the end. Thanks to the Lovely Ms. Ward Olmsted for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

About the author

gail

Like JEEP TOUR’s main character Jackie Sullivan, I am a professor of marketing. I have taught at the college level for twenty years.  A hopeless romantic, I am married to the love of my life. I am a mom to two young adults and two cats and enjoy reading, music and travel.

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Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

moon

Length: 400 pages

Please note the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link

After yesterday’s review (Tracie Banister’s Mixing It Up) I wondered where to go next. At the mo I’m working through a list of titles which, criminally, I’ve read, made notes on, but not reviewed yet, and on opening it up, I came to this and my finger stopped. Since the previous review was all about sophistication, sparkle and amazing romance and chemistry, where better to move to than the gorgeous Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan?

What they say: Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family. But when dog-walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list – dealing with Madi’s temporary dog-sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.

Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi – how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple – he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide 24-hour care. But there’s nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.

Ethan’s kisses make Harriet shine brighter than the stars over moonlit Manhattan. But when his dog-sitting duties are over, and Harriet returns to her own home, will she dare to take the biggest challenge of all – letting Ethan know he has her heart for life, not just for Christmas?

The Review:

Here, we meet Harriet, who has a brother and sister who are in relationships. Harriet is lonely and wants to change something and so has decided to do one thing a day that challenges herself. I loved the idea of this, although I think I’d probably have liked to have seen a bit more of it, as I had ideas of far out, oddball things she could have done! Saying that, Harriet’s predicament at the start of the book had more than enough quirkiness to stand out and make it very memorable, having me settling down very excited to read on.

Harriet is co-owner of a dog walking business which I loved. The dog aspect of the book is brilliant, especially as we meet Ethan, a very organised ER doctor, who is not quite sure what to do with a dog that is disturbing the peace and his apartment. I loved how Harriet stepped in and immediately was part of the furniture and how everything developed from there. The setting, as always, was perfection, and I drew a breath at how beautiful and magical everything was. The comedy was subtle and well timed and suited me perfectly, as did their back and forths, and I really enjoyed the background characters and the drama, as well as learning about hospital life and procedure.

All in all, dogs, Christmas, comedy and beautiful romance, coated expertly in chemistry made this a very very satisfying Christmas read. People will already know that this book is part of the ‘From Manhattan with Love’ series, but these books don’t need to be read in order, they can most definitely be read as standalones, as the characters are delivered to us in their entirety, with any background needed nicely divulged along the way. Saying that I do have to direct you to some of the other of Ms. Morgan’s Christmas books I’ve adored, below,  as I think they slightly , slightly pipped this one to the post (I’d say just have a Sarah Morgan marathon this Christmas to be honest, she has got the title ‘Queen of Christmas’ for a reason!!!) including Miracle on 5th Avenue (book 3 of this series) or Christmas Ever After. Thanks so much to HQ for this book in return for an honest review.

Also just to let you know the order of the books in this series (universal buy link for them here)

Book 1 Sleepless in Manhattan (read review here)

Book 2 Sunset in Central Park

Book 3 Miracle on 5th Avenue (review 5 star here)

Book 4 New York Actually

Book 5 Holiday in the Hamptons

Book 6 Moonlight Over Manhattan (um, above;))

And, while we’re here I have to add one of my favourite Christmas books ever, Ms. Morgan’s Christmas Ever After, 5 star review here )

Rating: 4.75/5

 

Christmas Under A Starlit Sky by Holly Martin (Book 2 of the ‘A Town Called Christmas’ Series)

christmasunderastarlitsky

What they say: Step inside a beautiful winter wonderland where love, laughter and cosy nights by the fire will make this Christmas one to remember.

Neve Whitaker loves managing the Stardust Lake hotel. She gets to work alongside her wonderful family and she’s spending Christmas on the most enchanting, snow-covered island in Scotland. So why is her heart so heavy this festive season?

It might have something to do with the gorgeous actor Oakley Rey, the man she finished with before he left for California and the man she loves more than anything. With Oakley’s career in Hollywood soaring, Neve is convinced she’d only hold him back. She had to end it with him – at least that’s what she keeps telling herself.

But now she has a secret she’s struggling to keep, and when Oakley arrives on Juniper Island determined to win her back, Neve is thrown off balance. Will Neve’s fear of having her heart broken again push Oakley away for good, or is it time for her to take a leap of faith?

Get swept away by this deliciously sweet and heartwarming tale, and spend an unforgettable Christmas on Juniper Island.

 

The review: I had heard so much about the first book of this series, Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky, that when I saw this on Netgalley I was absolutely thrilled. I had read ‘Tied Up with Love‘ (by Holly Martin writing as Amelia Thorne) before I started blogging, and knew Ms. Martin’s romance and comedy to be exemplary, and her pacing excellent and again they didn’t disappoint.

There were four main characters in this book- and we meet them at the Stardust Lake Hotel where Neve is manager and Adam is on contract. I say four main characters but actually, there were a lot of minor characters here too, and I think that reading the first in this series would have been better to start with. Neve and Oakley have history and are trying to figure out whether they are willing to make it work (he is a famous actor whose life is in America, she is on Juniper Island in Scotland). It says in the blurb that Neve has a secret to keep and yes, it is a big one, with many missed chances for the revelation coming and going. This will annoy quite a few people, as there were roadblocks a plenty, and yes, some of them I predicted, in a ‘if such and such happened now it would be crazy,’ and then it would happen and yet, this book still hit the mark for me. I’m afraid the only issue I had was that I found some of the story to be a little confusing, in particular I didn’t have a feel for who the characters were in terms of their age and appearance and had to skip back in places to figure out what was going on, this could have been an editing issue or it could have just been me, I’m not sure to be honest.

There was another ‘will they, won’t they’ which was filled with lovely moments that were really sweet and had me nodding along. As I said above, Ms.Martin’s romance is perfection as was the chemistry in the book and the (cough) sex. What with that and the constant drama that had me read this in two evenings, it was a book I thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks to Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

The Rest of My Life by Sheryl Browne

 

therestof

Amazon US

Amazon UK

What they say: You can’t run away from commitment forever …
Adam Hamilton-Shaw has more reason than most to avoid commitment. Living on a houseboat in the Severn Valley, his dream is to sail into the sunset – preferably with a woman waiting in every port. But lately, his life looks more like a road to destruction than an idyllic boat ride…
Would-be screenplay writer Sienna Meadows realises that everything about Adam spells trouble – but she can’t ignore the feeling that there is more to him than just his bad reputation. Nor can she ignore the intense physical attraction that exists between them.
And it just so happens that Adam sees Sienna as the kind of woman he could commit to. But can he change his damaging behaviour – or is the road to destruction a one-way street?

The Review: First off apologies for being MIA for so long. This is the point where most bloggers will tell you they’ve written a book in the time they were absent, or they were researching, or editing. Alas I cannot use any of these as explanations. In truth, everything kind of got to me and I started to feel a bit weighed down with everything I had planned to do. Something akin to this happens every so often, I do the whole ‘am I a writer or a blogger?’ thing, and I started to think I was neither as I sometimes feel so bogged down with everything and feel like everyone has found the magic way to balance stuff or just knows how to do it better. I know this is silly, as an avid blogger reader I continuously read blog posts of reading slumps, or hitting the wall in terms of writing, or feeling stressed, or down, and I know everyone’s trying to find their way through but in truth it was more likely lack of sleep, lack of planning and forgetting why I started all of this in the first place. Thankfully, I’m nearly sure I’m back to where I was before and just in time too! I have so many books to share with you before I fully commit to chick lit for May, the month of chick lit, so here we go!

The marketing for The Rest of My Life is a force to be reckoned with, because I have been looking at the cover of this book non stop for some time through tweets, Facebook posts and blog posts. What was unusual for me was that I knew it was steamy and yet I was still fully gung ho about reading it (I am a known prude that generally avoids sex in books and most definitely tries not to blog about it!).

Now I want you to bear with me and think of all the films out there that people say that you need to take with a pinch of salt, or tell you to leave your thoughts at the door and if you do then you’ll be where I am with this one. Adam and Sienna are both living on houseboats in the Severn Valley. Sienna, a screenwriter who’s been told to write steamier love scenes, is struggling, and daydreams about her neighbour (Adam), who seems to be living out the sort of fantasies she needs to inject into her work with the assistance of all the local women who seem to only one thing on their minds.

As you can see from the description this book is the story of how road blocks are put up for the pair as they struggle to see if there was any chance for them as a couple while carrying out a little experiment.

From the get-go I was pulled along, I couldn’t stop reading, I particularly loved that she was a writer and we got to experience avid descriptions. As a result of this the words flew by in an extremely enjoyable ride (excuse the pun please-ahem). Their first meeting was done brilliantly, with an incident involving a dog that made me smile. The chemistry was amazing, their sexual encounters mesmerizing and the banter brilliant. My problem, ie the part that I had to try to switch off from, was all the other characters and their attitudes. They seemed to have nothing else to do except throw in their two cents on the possibility of the two becoming a couple. The prevailing attitude was: Adam equals bad man, Sienna equals young innocent who cannot make decisions for herself. This went along with the general consensus that women had no minds of their own and any wrongdoing was the fault of the men and I will admit that by the end I was fairly infuriated with both and the men and women. These were hammered home in clashes with other characters that were a little too over the top for me.

All of this was a pity as it would have been a five out of five for me had the attitudes of the men and women not been so backward. There were so many pluses to this book, and I smiled at some very nicely done comic moments but I think it’s very much more for people who are into their pure romance and like a little comedy thrown in as opposed to those who like romantic comedies. And yet, this book will fit some people perfectly and be their five star gem (so many bloggers out there have deemed this book a forceto be reckoned with). Thanks so much to Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating 3.5/5

 

The Week ahead in books

 

The Girl In The Ice by Robert Bryndzathe girl int he ice

What they say: Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?

A page-turning thriller packed with suspense. If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter, discover Rob Bryndza’s new series today – at a special launch price.

Watch out for more from DCI Erika Foster.

She’s fearless. Respected. Unstoppable. Detective Erika Foster will catch a killer, whatever it takes.

I’ve already started this book, but other commitments prised it out of my hands. I am so hooked and cannot wait to properly sit down with it again. It’s the first thriller I’ve read in some time that lets you see the daylight as you investigate the murder, so it doesn’t drag you along in the gloom the whole time. As I said, Cannot wait!!

 

The Summer We Danced by Fiona Harper

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What they say: After a humiliating divorce and watching her former rock star husband leave her for a model live on reality TV, Pippa is determined to disappear. So she returns to the small Kent village where she grew up to make a fresh start. Little did she know that would mean saving her beloved childhood dance school or falling for her old school crush Tom too!

I started this today as it’s out on the 7th April and I wanted to be done ahead of that date. I read The Little Shop Of Hopes and Dreams back when I began to blog and I absolutely fell for Ms.Harper’s descriptions. I’m happy to say that so far not only are they as mesmerizing here, but they’re also joined with a narrator I love, with a narrative I love, and a story-line that has already grabbed me; Pippa has returned to her childhood dance class to lose weight and begin her new life. Bring it on! Out April 7th.

The Rest of my Life by Sheryl Browne

therestof

What they say: You can’t run away from commitment forever …
Adam Hamilton-Shaw has more reason than most to avoid commitment. Living on a houseboat in the Severn Valley, his dream is to sail into the sunset – preferably with a woman waiting in every port. But lately, his life looks more like a road to destruction than an idyllic boat ride…
Would-be screenplay writer Sienna Meadows realises that everything about Adam spells trouble – but she can’t ignore the feeling that there is more to him than just his bad reputation. Nor can she ignore the intense physical attraction that exists between them.
And it just so happens that Adam sees Sienna as the kind of woman he could commit to. But can he change his damaging behaviour – or is the road to destruction a one-way street?

Every review I’ve read of this has been glowing. Cannot Wait. Out April 7th:)

What about you? What are your plans for the week? To the comments!

Dear Dad by Giselle Green

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What they say: Handsome, 28-year old, Nate Hardman is a frontline reporter with a big problem. Suffering from shell-shock and unable to leave his house, he’s already lost his social life and his girlfriend. Now his career prospects are sinking fast.

9 year-old Adam Boxley who lives alone with his ageing nan, also has big problems. Neglected at home and bullied at school, he’s desperate to reach out to his dad – and that’s when he sends his first letter to Nate. Only Nate’s not who he thinks he is. Will he help? More importantly – can he?

Across town meanwhile, caring but impulsive teacher Jenna Tierney really wants to help Adam – except the feisty redhead has already had enough of teaching. Recently hurt by yet another cheating boyfriend, Jenna’s now set her sights on pursuing a dream career abroad … only she’s about to meet Nate – her dream man who’ll make her re-think everything.

The big question is; can three people desperate to find love, ever find happiness when they’re only connected by one big lie?

The Review: First off thanks so much to the author for this book in return for an honest review. I have to admit, when I first saw the cover of this I was a bit worried. I wasn’t sure it was my type of read. With the child looking so serious and the light shining on him I was afraid their might be something of a dubious nature within the book, but one quick look of the blurb and I was looking forward to reading. This book was a cross between What Milo Saw by Virginia MacGregor and Into The Night Sky by Caroline Finnerty and it matched up nicely, with a great storyline, humour, romance and fun.

The story alternated between characters Nate and Jenna, a tool I’m always a fan of, and we got to know both of them intimately, Nate, a twenty seven year old front-line war correspondent who’s suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, and Jenna, a primary school teacher who has just arrived home after leaving  a cheating fiance in Sicily. Nate was great, the perfect mix of ‘not so sure about him,’ mixed with ‘I adore him so much.’ He narrated his episodes brilliantly, and we were tentatively shown his back stories nicely as the story progressed. The one thing I couldn’t fathom was why we kept being reminded of how young Nate was, and at times this grated on me, just a little.

Jenna was great, I loved her from the start, with her ability to tell it like it was perfect. In particular I adored her arrival at her new school, which was genius, and how she stepped straight in and did the right thing.

I loved the story-line, with 9 year old Adam Boxley, as expected, the star of the show, taking his lot with such bravery, and showing us how to smile despite having so much to deal with. In particular his letters were the perfect mix of heartbreaking and hilarious. I loved how the mix-up came about, and thought it was nicely carried through. In general there was perhaps one too many mix ups, where someone didn’t say something where they should have, but in general this was also well done.

I now have to throw up a huge kudos for all the side characters, Mr Drummond a good ‘baddy’ and Marcie a great boss, although my favourite were her best friend Mags, and Nate’s work associate, Hal. Both were lovely, giving their characters moral support, told honestly, at times with hilarious results! They told us what we needed to know as we needed it, without being hit over the head with it. Actually, in general this was the magic of the book, I was totally engrossed and walking alongside the characters as everything happened while we were told what was happening through dialogue and descriptions.

All in all, a book I couldn’t put down (the pacing was really well done). I relished every single chapter while having to hold back from seeing what happened and where these three very different lives would end up. And I can simply say, it was worth the wait. Very much recommended:)

Rating 4.5/5

 

About Giselle

gisellegreen

Again the best way to tell you about Giselle, is in her own words 🙂

Giselle’s website

Giselle on Twitter

Giselle on Facebook

Giselle Green’s books on Amazon

 

Room by Emma Donaghue

By the

 

room

Amazon US

Amazon UK

What They Say: NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE — nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture

To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack’s curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating–a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.

The Review: I read this some time ago but due to all the buzz and craziness (probably warranted) I thought I’d post a review. It’s now a bit overdue but anyhoo …

I adored this book. When I read it there was a lot of talk about it (pre film, though a lot of people were hoping for one), but I had no real idea what it was about and I’ll admit, hadn’t even read the blurb. The narrator  of the book is the gorgeous five year old Jack, obviously intriguing and ingenious in itself,a s he goes through everyday life in ‘Room, ‘with ‘bed’ and ‘wardrobe’ practically characters in his mind. We are given insights into his mother’s frame of mind and yet her strength as she struggles to give Jack a ‘normal’ life, playing with him, telling him of stars and things ‘out there’ that he doesn’t believe exist. This may just be a mother’s view, but I think one of the big themes of this book was that even faced with huge amount of adversity in life, if a child has some form of stability in forms of a parent or guardian, they can still be well adjusted and educated.

It’s funny how such a simple story can bring you along with it, for most of it is simple, you remember that they’re trapped there, you have a slight feeling of unease  and yet you’re just listening to a mother and son converse, a mother explaining things to her son without trying to upset him and yet, as would be expected, it’s not always that easy, nobody could be expected to hold it together all the time, and there are times she falls and you feel the horror again, how can anyone exist like this and what will happen to make things change?

Her captor makes appearances every so often and he’s everything you expect him to be, a monster who thinks of people as property, with no thought for what he’s doing. Even though he is this, and even though the subject matter is oh so dark, I didn’t really empathise with the reviews that found it so disturbing, and I think that that’s where Ms. Donoghue’s simple and effective writing, as well as the child’s narrative comes in. We’re so deeply involved in the story, in listening in, in thinking about their next move, as in the next five minutes, not whether this can continue long term, that we just read on, we have the slight uneasy feeling the whole time, but there’s not the graphicness and horror that other writers may have added to shock. I have not seen the films, but was a bit shocked by the unnecessary spoiler contained in the trailer, in the same way I’m pretty sure the paperback had a hint as to what might happen in the book and it annoyed me. Let me tell you, you don’t need to know. A must, must, must read (in my humble opinion!) Oh and make sure to let me know, have you read? Have you seen the film? Maybe you plan to do both together or are you just not bothered?I’d love to know!

Rating: 5/5