Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Spotlight: Making Your Mind Up By Jill Mansell [FYI]

Making Your Mind Up
By Jill Mansell
Sourcebooks Landmark
May 5, 2015
ISBN: 9781492604440
$14.00 Trade Paperback

Purchase Making Your Mind Up Here:
Amazon | B&N | BAM | IndieBound | Kobo

International bestseller Jill Mansell delivers a hilarious and heartwarming tale about falling in love when you have opinionated kids

Love is a complicated thing…
Lottie Carlyle is happy enough. Living in a beautiful cottage with her two adorable—sometimes—kids in an idyllic village, on good terms with her ex-husband, and with friends all around, everything is going just fine. But when she meets her new boss, her peaceful world is thrown into delightful, exciting, and frustrating chaos. Tyler is perfect for Lottie, but her kids do not agree. To make matters worse, the handsome and mysterious Seb appears on the scene, intriguing—and distracting—Lottie and charming her children, making it more and more difficult for her to make up her mind…

“Very nicely done… Jill Mansell’s chorus of sharp-witted youth, shaking sticks at the foibles of their elders, is delightful.” —Daily Express
“A smashing read that both delights and surprises the reader.” —The Sun

Praise for Thinking of You:
“Mansell is like a Michelin-rated chef: She may use common ingredients, but under her sure hand the results are deliciously superior.” —Kirkus
“Humorous, sometimes poignant... Her breezy style resembles that of Sophie Kinsella or Helen Fielding… readers will be delighted.” —Booklist
“Jill Mansell combines, humor, friendship, romance and betrayal... keeps you wanting more.” —Fresh Fiction
“Beyond the fun, faulted characters, Mansell has a gift for humorous and witty dialogue that will leave readers in stitches... Mansell excels at creating relationships that are dynamic and complicated.” —Savvy Verse and Wit

About Jill Mansell
With over 9 million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell writes irresistible and funny romantic tales for women in the tradition of Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella. She worked for many years at the Burden Neurological Hospital, Bristol, and now writes full time. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England.

Twitter – @JillMansell https://twitter.com/jillmansell

An Excerpt from MAKING YOUR MIND UP by Jill Mansell

The lane that ran alongside the garden of Hestacombe House was narrow and banked high on both sides with poppies, cow parsley, and blackberry bushes. Turning left, Tyler Klein worked out, would lead you back up to the village of Hestacombe. Turning right took you down to the lake. As he took the right turn, Tyler heard the sound of running feet and giggling.
Rounding the first bend in the lane, he saw two small children twenty or thirty yards away, clambering over a stile. Dressed in shorts, T--shirts, and baseball caps, the one in front was carrying a rolled--up yellow-and-white-striped striped towel, while his companion clutched a haphazard bundle of clothes. Glancing up the lane and spotting Tyler, they giggled again and leaped down from the stile into the cornfield beyond. By the time he reached the stile they’d scurried out of sight, no doubt having taken some shortcut back to the village following their dip in the lake.
The lane opened out into a sandy clearing that sloped down to meet a small artificial beach. Freddie Masterson had had this constructed several years ago, chiefly for the benefit of visitors to his lakeside vacation cottages, but also—-as Tyler had just witnessed—-to be enjoyed by the inhabitants of Hestacombe. Shielding his eyes from the glare of the afternoon sun as it bounced off the lake, Tyler saw a girl in a bright turquoise bikini floating lazily on her back in the water. There was a faint unearthly wailing sound coming from somewhere he couldn’t quite place. Then the noise—-was it singing?—-stopped. Moments later, as Tyler watched, the girl turned onto her front and began to swim slowly back to shore.
It could almost be that scene from Dr. No, where Sean Connery observes Ursula Andress emerging goddess--like from a tropical sea. Except he wasn’t hiding in the bushes and he had all his own hair. And this girl didn’t have a large knife strapped to her thigh.
She wasn’t blond either. Her long dark hair was a riot of snaky curls plastered to her shoulders, her body curvy and deeply tanned. Impressed—-because an encounter like this was the last thing he’d been expecting—-Tyler nodded in a friendly fashion as she paused to wring water from her dripping hair and said, “Good swim?”
The girl surveyed him steadily, then looked around the tiny beach. Finally she said, “Where’s my stuff?”
Stuff. Taken aback, Tyler gazed around too, even though he had no idea what he was meant to be looking for. For one bizarre moment he wondered if she had arranged to meet a drug dealer here. That was what people said, wasn’t it, when they met up with their dealer?
“What stuff?”
“The usual stuff you leave out of the water when you go for a swim. Clothes. Towel. Diamond earrings.”
Tyler said, “Where did you put them?”
“Right there where you’re standing. Right there,” the girl repeated, pointing at his polished black shoes. She narrowed her eyes at him.
“Is this a joke?”
“I guess it is. But I’m not the one playing it.” Half turning, Tyler indicated the narrow lane behind him. “I passed a couple kids back there, carrying off stuff.”
She had her hands on her hips now, and was surveying him with growing disbelief. “And it didn’t occur to you to stop them?”
“I thought it was their stuff.” This was ridiculous, he’d never said the word stuff so many times before in his life. “I guess I just thought they’d been swimming down here in this lake.”
“You thought the size ten pink halter--necked dress and size seven silver sandals belonged to them.” The sarcasm—-that particularly British form of sarcasm—-was evident in her voice.
“The sandals were wrapped up in something pink. I didn’t actually get a close look at the labels. I was thirty yards away.”
“But you thought they’d been swimming.” Gazing at him intently, the girl said, “Tell me something. Were they…wet?”
Shit. The kids hadn’t been wet. He’d make a lousy private eye. Unwilling to concede defeat, Tyler said, “They could have come down for a paddle. Look, did you really leave diamond earrings with your clothes?”
“Do I look completely stupid? No, of course I didn’t. Diamonds don’t dissolve in water.” Impatiently she shook back her hair to show him the studs glittering in her earlobes. “Right, what did these kids look like?”
“Like kids. I don’t know.” Tyler shrugged. “They were wearing T--shirts, I guess. And, um, shorts…”
The girl raised her eyebrows. “That’s incredible. Your powers of observation are dazzling. OK, was it a boy and a girl?”
“Maybe.” He’d assumed they were boys, but one had had longer hair than the other. “Like I said, I only saw them from a distance. They were climbing over a stile.”
“Dark hair? Thin and wiry?” the girl persisted. “Did they look like a couple of gypsies?”
“Yes.” Tyler was instantly on the alert; when Freddie Masterson had been singing the praises of Hestacombe he hadn’t mentioned any gypsies. “Are they a problem around here?”
“Damn right they’re a problem around here. They’re my children.” Intercepting the look of horror on his face, the girl broke into a mischievous smile. “Relax, they’re not really gypsies. You haven’t just mortally offended me.”
“Well,” said Tyler, “I’m glad about that.”
“I didn’t see a thing, little sods. They must have crawled through the bushes and sneaked off with my stuff when I wasn’t looking. That’s what happens when you have kids who are hell--bent on joining the SAS. But this isn’t funny.” No longer amused, the girl said impatiently, “I can’t believe they’d do something so stupid. They don’t think, do they? Because now I’m stuck here with no clothes—-”
“You’re welcome to borrow my jacket.”
“And no shoes.”
“I’m not lending you my shoes,” Tyler drawled. “You’d look ridiculous. Plus, that’d leave me with nothing to put on my feet.”
“Wuss.” Thinking hard, the girl said, “OK, look, can you do me a favor? Go back up to the village, past the pub, and my house is three doors down on the right. Piper’s Cottage. The doorbell’s broken so you’ll have to bang on the door. Tell Ruby and Nat to give you my clothes. Then you can bring them back down to me. How does that sound?”
Water from her hair was dripping into her clear hazel eyes, glistening on her tanned skin. She had excellent white teeth and a persuasive manner. Tyler frowned.
“What if the kids aren’t there?”
“Right, now I know this isn’t ideal, but you have an honest face so I’m going to have to trust you. If they aren’t there, you’ll just have to take the front door key out from under the tub of geraniums by the porch and let yourself into the house. My bedroom’s on the left at the top of the stairs. Just grab something from the wardrobe.” Her mouth twitching, the girl said, “And no snooping in my panty drawer while you’re there. Just pick out a dress and some shoes then let yourself out of the house. You can be back here in ten minutes.”
“I can’t do this.” Tyler shook his head. “You don’t even know me. I’m not going to let myself into a strange house. And if your kids are there…well, that’s even worse.”
“Hi.” Seizing his hand, she enthusiastically shook it. “I’m Lottie Carlyle. There, now I’ve introduced myself. And my house really isn’t that strange. A bit untidy perhaps, but that’s allowed. And you are?”
“Tyler. Tyler Klein. Still not doing it.”
“Well, you’re a big help. I’m going to look like an idiot walking through the village like this.”
“I told you, you can borrow my jacket.” Seeing as she was dripping wet and his suit jacket was silk--lined and seriously expensive, he felt this was a pretty generous offer. Lottie Carlyle, however, seemed unimpressed.
“I’d still look stupid. You could lend me your shirt,” she wheedled. “That’d be better.”
Tyler was here on business. He had no intention of removing his shirt. Firmly he said, “I don’t think so. It’s the jacket or nothing.”
Realizing when she was beaten, Lottie Carlyle took the jacket from him and put it on. “You drive a hard bargain. There, do I look completely ridiculous?”
“You’re too kind.” She looked sadly down at her bare feet. “Any chance of a piggy back?”
Tyler looked amused. “Don’t push your luck.”
“Are you saying I’m fat?”
“I’m thinking of my street cred.”
Interested, Lottie said, “What are you doing here, anyway? In your smart city suit and shiny shoes?”
There clearly wasn’t much call for city suits here in Hestacombe. As they turned to leave, Tyler glanced back at the lake, where iridescent dragonflies were darting over the surface of the water and a family of ducks had just swum into view. Casually he said,
“Just visiting.”
Gingerly picking her way along the stony, uneven lane, Lottie winced and said meaningfully, “Ouch, my feet.”

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Spotlight: I'll Stand By You by Sharon Sala

Title: I’ll Stand By You
Author: Sharon Sala
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary Romance


No one is alone

Dori Grant is no stranger to hardship. As a young single mother in the gossip-fueled town of Blessings, Georgia, she's weathered the storm of small-town disapproval most of her life. But when Dori loses everything within the span of an evening, she realizes she has no choice but to turn to her neighbors.

As long as there is love to give

Everyone says the Pine boys are no good, but Johnny Pine has been proving the gossips wrong ever since his mother died and he took over raising his brothers. His heart goes out to the young mother and child abandoned by the good people of Blessings. Maybe he can be the one to change all that...

Goodreads Link

Buy Links

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/BNSala

Author Biography

Sharon Sala, who has also written under the name Dinah McCall, has 85-plus books in print, published in four different genres-Romance, Young Adult, Western, and Women's Fiction, and her Young Adult books have been optioned for film. She has been named a RITA finalist seven times by Romance Writers of America, and in 2011 they named her the recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Her books are New York TimesUSA TodayPublishers Weekly bestsellers and published in many different languages. She lives in Oklahoma, the state where she was born.

Social Networking Links


“Nothing means a damn thing if I don’t have my baby.”

“And now we get to my suggestion. Do you like Johnny Pine?”

“Yes, of course. He’s been wonderful to us.”

“No, I mean, could you like him as relationship material?”

“That possibility exists,” she said.

“Good. Now let me talk to Johnny.”

She handed the phone back to Johnny.

“Now he wants to talk to you.”

She took the baby and Johnny took the phone.


“I have a suggestion that could bring an end to your troubles.”

“Like what?”

“Do you like Dori?”

“Well, sure. She’s great.”

“Do you like her enough to consider a personal relationship with her?”

Johnny looked at Dori, then cupped her face and ran his thumb down the side of her jaw.

“Yes, I like her enough to consider a personal relationship.”

Dori shivered beneath his touch as she realized Butterman was asking Johnny the same question he’d asked her.

“Put the phone on speaker,” Butterman said.

“Just a minute,” Johnny said and then pressed a button. “Okay, you’re on speaker now.”

“Here’s the deal,” Butterman said. “You two are very young to have such adult responsibilities. You’re both trying to take care of your families on your own, and now DFCS has their nose in your business and is threatening you with removing the children from your custody, right?”

“Right,” they said.

“So this would end tomorrow if you were married.”

Johnny took a quick breath, started to speak, and then found himself staring at Dori instead, waiting for her reaction.

Dori already knew Johnny cared for her because he’d told her. What he didn’t know was that she was very attracted to him.

“Well? Did both of you faint or what?” Butterman asked.

“I’m game if she is,” Johnny said.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep our boys,” Dori said.

Butterman chuckled. “Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials. If it were me, I wouldn’t waste any time. Go get the license and find a preacher, and your trouble with Miss Carter is a thing of the past. I assume I am invited to the wedding.”

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil

buy on: Book DepositoryAmazonAmazon UK

"Sam Kinnison is a geek, and he’s totally fine with that. He has his horror movies, his nerdy friends, World of Warcraft – and until Princess Leia turns up in his bedroom, he doesn’t have to worry about girls. 

Then Sam meets Camilla. She’s beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his life. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a life of her own – and she’s decided that he’s going to be part of it.

Sam believes that everything he needs to know he can learn from the movies ... but now it looks like he’s been watching the wrong one"

5 stars!


So, apparently, this is a YA contemporary romance.

And as my surprise might indicate, though I read some of those (I suppose) I am not very familiar with the genre.

Still, however I look at it I can only come to a few conclusions-

Objectively this is a good book, a great book even, unbojectively this is a book that leaves awesomeness behind

So yeah, I'm in love with this book. From here now it is my comfort read, a book I can read over and over again, just like listening to favorite song that you'll never get tired off. Have I got your attention yet? If not you shall know that for the first time in my life I feel like screaming off the rooftops and recommend this book to each and every person I know (even those who pass by me on the street and I never saw before nor will I ever see again).

This book is a mythical creature never heard of before…I should probably stop now, before I find myself raving so much that your expectations would be too high (though I think the book can handle that…*facepalm* I just can't stop myself)
If what you read so far didn't clue you, I will warn you now. I love this book so much I want to give it more than five stars, I love this book so much that I am well aware that this is not going to be a review- I will try to control myself the best I can- this is me attempting to review a beloved favorite book, and we all know how hard that is. How almost impossible that is. But I'll try to fangirl in a modest rational way *snicker* because this book deserve the best review I could ever write to it (poor book, really).

So here we go…

Once upon a time I logged into GoodReads and saw my friends raving about this book, and I decided to read it.
And then, I finally read it, and the book and I started out okay-

he looked at me in suspicion and I looked at it skeptically

"you can't be that good," I said. "Cory said you are a unicorn puking a rainbow on the rest of the YA contemporary books, That's not possible!"

The book just snickered at me and introduced me to Sam, who pulled The List of Five Most Awesome Prom Scenes in Movies Ever.

"Okay," I said. "That is a good start, but you didn't win me just yet."

Unfazed the book introduced me to Camilla- a british, cool girl with tattoo of a butterfly and vintage clothing whose dad is a music reviewer. The new girl in school that does what she want, and what she want is to be friends both with the misfits and the most popular kids in school. She just didn't care about social roles!

"That's not going to work," I said.

So the book smiled and patted my head like you do to a stubborn kid.

Then Camilla managed to befriend Sam and his friends ( a bunch of good kids!)

"Still," I said. "This is supposed to be a nerdy book, and even if I was in the nerds' protection program, I'm doubtful I can relate."

The book just handed me a highlighter and said "read! Stop talking just read!"

So I read.

I saw the situation is Sam's house, and plenty of good movies were mentioned, I saw how the friendship between Camilla and Sam developed realistically, I heard Camilla sing and Sam plays guitar, I was with them in the funny moments and the bitter ones and I laughed so hard my stomach hurt and I had tears in my eyes. I saw how the situation with Mike got out of control and Sam being heroic, I saw how everyone got along. I swooned in each and every sweet moment between Camilla and Sam, and even when things hurt a little it was never that bad, it was never melodramatic.

Then the story ended in a satisfying tone that left me smiling from ear to ear and I the book came to sit beside me.

"Seems like you loved it," he said.

"No," I answered. "Loving does not begin to describe it. I loved so many parts of the book I highlighted lots of them, more than I ever had before in any book. Thank you, dear book, for allowing me to meet those great people- Sam, Camilla, Andre, Allison, Mike and Noah. Thank you for letting me read their story and be there with them. And thank you for being such a wonderful debut novel that now I can't wait to see what Melissa Keil writes next!"

Thus we parted as best friends for life, but not for long, just till next time, which I suppose will happen in a few weeks  ;)

A copy was kindly provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Getting to read this book I really think I got the better part of the deal. 

*Original Pre-Review*

I'm so in love with this book.

Review to come shortly once I stop fangirling for a long enough time to write it.

-going to read it all over again-

this review can be found on GoodReadsAmazonAmazon UKBook Depository

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Half Bad (Half Life trilogy 1) by Sally Green (review by Sharon)

Author: Sally Green
Series: Half Life trilogy
Number in series: first book
Number of pages: 417
Date Published: 3 March 2014
Publisher: Penguin
Buy: AmazonAmazon UKBarnes & NobleBook Depository
Rating: 3 stars!

"Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy's struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.
You can't read, can't write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.
You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.
You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.
You've been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.
All you've got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.



I found that the title is really quite befitting the name. Because this book is half bad. But more on that in a minute

Some of you would do the comparison to Harry Potter. Since they both deal with witches in England I guess that comparison is unavoidable. Yet, whatever issues I might have with the book (and I have), I think such comparison don't do this book justice. 

Fans of Harry Potter, don't hate me. 

Half Bad has some of the elements that were so lacking for me in HP. 

You see, Harry Potter talked about the fight between good and evil, and they both played their roles until the very end. It was quite simple, really. It lacked in conflict. Furthermore, Harry never got dirty he remained the golden child, the pure soul until the very end. 

In Half Bad good is not that good and Evil has a soft side too. It is not your element or your lineage that determine it. It is who you are inside. You can be the son of a criminal and mother Theresa. It does not matter. What matters, in the end, is who you are inside. 

Nathan's story is not an easy one to read. It is a dark one from start to end, and I'm really not sure if even one drop of hope really do exist there. Nathan is branded bad from birth, his surrounding ridicule him. Yes, some support him. But they are so few, and even though their support is better than nothing. It is still not very helping. I can't fathom the pain this child had gone through (and probably will continue to).

The world is fairly interesting, there is an new concept on witches' lore. 
Nathan is an interesting narrator. As many mentioned he is sarcastic. Though school wise he is regarded as dumb the child has other skills- like surviving in nature. He is also quite perceptive. 
However, I DNFed the book at about 40%. I did skim through it to the end. But 40% was as far as I could endure. And even now I regret that fact. 

I will start with what bothered me. Nathan's voice- he is a boy, but sometimes I really felt that it was a woman who wrote the book. He was a bit to weepy for a boy [perhaps that's not the right way to explain it, but in lack of other ways to explain it'll have to do].

Secondly, I'm not sure at what time that story takes place. There are cellphones…but I felt very confused about the time as the witches' world felt stuck in the ancient times. 

Thirdly, the love interest. I can understand what Nathan would find in Annalise. But really the girl felt quiet and dull to me. I know, she's young and she's just as much a victim as Nathan is. And yet, she felt dull. Sometimes I wondered what she's doing there. 

Last, but not least- be careful what you wish for 

I'm sure you heard the saying. Well, while I read HP I kept thinking I wanted a darker story. I got it here, and now I'm sad to say it was too dark for me with the tortures…it was so dark that at some point I simply didn't want to continue reading it. Before you read the book, pay attention to that. It is not a happy story, or a simple one. And I appreciate it a lot. 

The more I think about it the more I regret not being able to finish it. And I certainly will try again when I'm in a more befitting set of mind. Maybe, once I'll do that I'd be able to appreciate it better and what bothered me before will not bother me again. Maybe not. 

Another thing I have to mention is that the UK's cover edition is really beautiful. 

This book is not for everyone, but I have a feeling that if I'll be able to finish it and if the two other books will be just as good, then this will be one of these books I hold close to my heart. The kind that are not simple, the kind that is very tiring, the kind that makes you think and teaches you a valuable lesson, the kind you know has affected you deeply, the kind you will always be able to talk about. 

A review copy was kindly provided by Penguin through NetGalley. This has not changed or affected my opinion in anyway. I'm, however, grateful for the opportunity to read such a book 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Lauren Layne Party, part 9- Made for You by Lauren Layne (review by Sharon)

Author: Lauren Layne
Date published: 28 October 2014
Publisher: Forever
Series: The Best Mistake 2
Pages: 320 pages.
Rating:  3.5 stars!
Buy on:  Amazon

Some mistakes are worth making...

Lauren Layne's Best Mistake series continues with MADE FOR YOU.

When the Wrong Guy is Oh-So-Right Will Thatcher is exactly the type of sexy playboy good girls like Brynn have always avoided. And yet there was still something about him she just couldn't resist. When Will moved across the country three years ago, Brynn vowed it was time to put him behind her. She never thought Will might have other plans . . . Back in town, Will intends to get what he's always wanted-gorgeous, unforgettable Brynn. For years, he tormented the untouchable ice princess in a desperate bid for her attention. Now he has a new plan, and he'll do anything to rewrite their stormy past. This time, he's out to show Brynn that the imperfect man might be the best mistake of her life . . . 

Three years ago Brynn had a series of one night stands with her sister's best friend- Will Thatcher. Then, Will moved away and now he is back to win Brynn for good. 

Brynn Dalton is a proper girl. She dates the perfect guys, she is susccesfull at work, her life is planned and arranged down to the smallest little details. However, she is not happy. Ever since Will left she hadn't been able to forget him.

Will Thatcher is Sophie's best friend, he made he's own money. He is not conventional, he's a player (mostly) and just like Sophie he is also very happy just to be living. Supposedly with not many ambitions. 

Now he wants Brynn once and for all. 

Will Thatcher always liked Brynn, all the way back their high school days when he used to pick up on her like an eight years old picking on the ponytails of his secret crush. However, Brynn never thought it funny.

Brynn had a lot to deal with- if Sophie's book was all about her growing up and taking responsibility, then Brynn book is all about giving up control.

You see, Brynn is one of those extreme types that have everything organized with a 50 years plan, right down to the number of kids and the type of the dog. Maybe I'm exaggerating. But I think you get the point.

And now she had so much to deal with- things aren't going according to her plan and there was her attraction to Will, add her feelings to him that range from something she can't quite express and their rivalry all these years, also the fact they slept a few times before he left town and the fact that he is everything she doesn't want or search for in a man.

I have to admit I was just a little sorry for the poor girl. As for Will- well I loved him from the first time I met him in Only with You, so it was nice to see him finally getting what he wanted all these years (even if he had to be patient and work hard for it. Frankly I just wanted him to be happy)

And though I didn't much liked Brynn in Only with You (I didn't have much of an opnion of her- because while I understood her I didn't like some of her attitude toward Sophie) she did warm up on me while I read Made for You. 

In the end I think Brynn and Will really did fit each other. My only problem is that even though there were fun moments and it was written with Lauren Layne trademark it still wasn't as good as her Stiletto series or even her Redmption series. Which is completley understandable as this series is actually her first (even though not her first published). Still, I know what Lauren Layne is capable off and my rating is in accordance, 

This is still a recommanded, good, funny, light and fun read with  characters to love. It's just not her best. 

A review copy was kindly provided  by Forever Grand Centeral Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.