Thursday, January 30, 2014

What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin

5 Star

Molly Hallberg is a thirty-nine-year-old divorced writer living in New York City who wants her own column, a Wikipedia entry, and to never end up in her family Long Island upholstery business. For the past four years Molly's been on staff for an online magazine, covering all the wacky assignments. She's snuck vibrators through security scanners, speed-dated undercover, danced with the Rockettes, and posed nude for a Soho art studio.

Fearless in everything except love, Molly is now dating a forty-four-yearold chiropractor. He's comfortable, but safe. When Molly is assigned to write a piece about New York City romance in the style of Nora Ephron, she flunks out big-time. She can't recognize romance. And she can't recognize the one man who can go one-on-one with her, the one man who gets her. But with wit, charm, whip-smart humor, and Nora Ephron's romantic comedies, Molly learns to open her heart and suppress her cynicism in this bright, achingly funny novel.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

I loved What Nora Knew and was extremely pleased to have read it. The first question I had when I picked it up was if I needed to be a huge Nora Ephron fan to understand it all. Most of us, well probably all of us, all familiar with her work in one form or another, but just how much of it was referenced in the book, I wondered, and would it take away from the overall story? The answer soon became clear in that it was a masterfully written ode to her but could very well stand alone on its own merits.

I often found myself thinking, "That is EXACTLY how I would have reacted!" while reading this and picturing Molly and what she was doing in my head. It also helped that she lived in my favorite city of all time, NYC so I could easily put myself in her shoes throughout the book.

The dialogue was often witty and well written, and I found the characters to be so utterly realistic that I felt like they were almost friends of mine which is a true testament to the writing! It almost felt like catching up with old friends and hearing what had been going on in their lives.

This story of What Nora Knew captivated me, almost thrilled me at times and was a pure pleasure to read. I truly can say it was one of my favorite books to read this year just for enjoyment.

Thank you to Gallery Books for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

Connect with Linda Yellin:
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Drake Equation by Heather Walsh

4.5 Star

She’s a Democrat, he’s a Republican. She spends her days fighting global warming at an environmental non-profit, he makes his living doing PR for Bell Motors and their fleet of SUVs. But as soon as they meet, Emily Crossley and Robert Drake realize they have encountered their intellectual match. You’re never challenged, he tells her. You’ve surrounded yourself in a cocoon of people who think exactly the same way you do. She hurls the same accusation back at him, and the fiery debates begin. Despite both of their attempts to derail it, there is no denying that they are falling in love. But their relationship is threatened by political differences, Robert’s excessive work hours, and Emily’s fear of losing her identity as she falls deeper in love. Can their love survive? The Drake Equation is a tale of modern love and all its complexities.

Rebecca - 4.5 Star

The world of publishing is an utter mystery to me. There is plenty of published drivel out there, of which I've read more than my fair share, and then there is this gem of a book that is self-published because of a lack of interest from the all powerful publishing houses. It's frankly ludicrous. When the author approached me asking for a review, I was immediately intrigued by the premise. I proudly admit to being something of a tree hugging environmentalist type but one who also confesses to liking the finer things in life that a consumer capitalist society provides, you know useful nice things like cars, wine, holidays etc. So what happens when you try squaring that circle in the context of a relationship? The Drake Equation explores this in detail and I found it captivating.

Generally I like books that have more than just a romantic theme and The Drake Equation is thought provoking without being too preachy. Most of all I enjoyed Emily and Roberts fiery dialogue where they test out the other's ideology; their verbal sparring even reminded me of Darcy and Elizabeth pithy exchanges. My only criticism is that I felt I wanted to know more of the story and the themes could have been developed for further and longer into Emily and Robert's lives. But perhaps it's not a bad thing to leave your readership wanting more; it leaves scope for a sequel.

Last year when it was leaked that JK Rowling had her latest book rejected many times as she had tried to publish under a pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, there were some red-faced publishers left kicking themselves. I'm secretly hoping that in a few years time there will be a Galbraith-esque moment in one or two publishing houses on this side of the Atlantic - "so it was you who turned down Heather Walsh!" Here's hoping.

Thank you to Heather Walsh for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Heather:
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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Clodagh Murphy Stranded on a Desert Island

Please welcome Clodagh Murphy, author of Frisky Business, The Disengagement Ring, and Some Girls Do, as she braves our Desert Island Interview.

First, a bit about Clodagh:

Clodagh Murphy was born and brought up in Dublin. She lived in London for about half of her twenties before returning to Dublin, where she currently lives (with her beloved laptop). At school she enjoyed daydreaming and hoped one day to make a living at it. When not dreaming up stories, she enjoys travelling, drinking red wine, watching TV and faffing about on the internet.  Her writing heroes are Jilly Cooper and Joan Wilder from Romancing the Stone. 
She is an aunt to five nephews and one niece.

Connect with Clodagh:

Clodagh Murphy Stranded on a Desert Island!

If you could only have one book with you, what would it be?

I'd satisfy my fiction requirements by making up stories or replaying old favourites in my head. So I'd take B.K.S. Iyengar's Light on Yoga, as it would give me lots to do and I'd have plenty of time to practise. The meditative aspect should also help keep me calm about the situation.

What one luxury item would you want to be stranded with? 

A solar-powered laptop, so I could record the whole experience, and write down some of the stories I'd be making up. Failing that, I'd go for a big supply of soap.

What is the one practical item you would want to have with you to use?

A Swiss army knife would be quite handy – though sadly there would be no use for the corkscrew.

Would you enjoy the solitude, even briefly, or would it drive you crazy?

I would love the solitude for a while.  I'm a big fan of solitude and love my own company – I think most writers are happy in their own company. I wouldn't want it to last too long, however.

If you could be stranded with one other person, who would you want it to be?

I'll take Bear Grylls, please. I'd have a better chance of eating well with someone like him around and he'd up our chances of surviving and getting rescued considerably.

What modern technology would you miss the most?

Television, without a doubt.

What food or beverage would you miss the most?

I'd miss it all, but probably Indian food the most. I imagine the island diet would be very bland.

How many days do you think you would cope without rescue?

I like to think I'm pretty resourceful, so as long as I could find enough water and food, I reckon I could cope for two or three months.

What is the first thing you would do when rescued?

Take a long, hot shower and eat a big meal of all my favourite food.

What would be your first Tweet or Facebook update upon your return?

I'd probably keep it traditional and tweet about what I'd just eaten for dinner.

Some Girls Do

Claire Kennedy is NiceGirl, the anonymous author of steamy online blog 'Scenes of a Sexual Nature'. An internet sensation, she attracts the attention of Mark Bell, a hot London publisher. But when it becomes clear that Mark is interested in more than just a book deal, Claire has to act fast. Because little does Mark know that NiceGirl is a lot more experienced in the bedroom than real-life Claire Kennedy.

Mark is offering Claire the life she's always dreamed of - a steady relationship, the literary world of London and a posh Highgate apartment.

But when Claire hires the services of struggling artist and commitment-phobe Luca to brush up on her sex skills, things get more complicated...

Great sex, friendship AND love ... can't a girl have it all?

The Theory of Opposites by Allison Winn Scotch

5 Star

What happens when you think you have it all, and then suddenly it’s taken away?

Willa Chandler-Golden's father changed the world with his self-help bestseller, Is It Really Your Choice? Why Your Entire Life May Be Out of Your Control. Millions of devoted fans now find solace in his notion that everything happens for a reason. Though Willa isn’t entirely convinced of her father’s theories, she readily admits that the universe has delivered her a solid life: a reliable husband, a fast-paced career. Sure there are hiccups – negative pregnancy tests, embattled siblings - but this is what the universe has brought, and life, if she doesn’t think about it too much, is wonderful.

Then her (evidently not-so-reliable) husband proposes this: A two-month break. Two months to see if they can't live their lives without each other. And before Willa can sort out destiny and fate and what it all means, she’s axed from her job, her 12 year-old nephew Nicky moves in, her ex-boyfriend finds her on Facebook, and her best friend Vanessa lands a gig writing for Dare You!, the hottest new reality TV show. And then Vanessa lures Willa into dares of her own - dares that run counter to her father’s theories of fate, dares that might change everything…but only if Willa is brave enough to stop listening to the universe and instead aim for the stars.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

Allison Winn Scotch has just such a wonderfully beautiful way of describing every day life and events and making them almost musical and gorgeous. I wish I could describe her book in such a way that emulates her amazing writing skills because I am truly in awe of the way she writes. The Theory of Opposites spoke to me deeply and not just because I enjoyed hearing about Willa and how she decided to live her life.

The whole idea of doing the opposite of what would normally happen in your life or the opposite of what would be easiest is quite an interesting idea and I loved seeing the way this story played out based on the application of that theory. The whole book was based on the premise of whether fate exists or if we are in control of our own destiny, and the story truly was one that made me think about that (though I can't say I have come to any conclusion on it!)

I was already a fan of this author's but I can definitely say that this book cemented my love for her writing and in fact, I stayed up super late one night to finish the book as I couldn't put it down. And that is something I probably shouldn't have done as I have a young baby but this book is just THAT GOOD.

Willa was just such a dork at times, definitely NOT self-assured and reminded me a lot of myself at times. I would never have thought I didn't do exactly what I wanted when I wanted to but this book made me reflect, and I was shocked to discover that, like her, I was somewhat a victim of inertia.

The not typical love story (or perhaps stories) in this book also made my heart cheer. I was not expecting some of the totally romantic things that happened or were said, and not just with her, but it made me very much want to challenge the status quo.

So there you have it - a wonderful main character, a great plot with fantastic descriptions and dialogue, plus a book that challenged me. A recipe for an incredible read!

Thank you to Camellia Press for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

Connect with Allison Winn Scotch:
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Cinderella Christmas by Holly Kingston

4 Star

Lucy Tilley dreams of a career in show business. But this isn't quite what she had in mind...

This year's Cinderella pantomime is the hottest production in town. What's more, Lucy is starring alongside Ryan Aspall: famous TV actor, sex symbol and potential love of her entire life. One teeny problem - Lucy is tripping the light fantastic as... the back end of the comedy cow. Surely nothing kills a flirty moment quite like wearing a massive set of udders?

At least she has the support of glamorous (if potentially flammable) Charmaine; a reality star diva of a Cinderella, who Lucy is completely fascinated by. But behind the fame and beauty, Charmaine is not all she seems. 

With more drama off the stage than on it, and everyone wanting to be star of the show, will Lucy find the confidence to make it out of the cow suit and into the spotlight this Christmas?

Kathryn - 4 Star

This little novel has some great touches!  I was immediately intrigued by Lucy’s musical theatre career and loved that she was given the role of the back end of a dancing cow in the Cinderella pantomime she was working in. I wish though that there had been a bit more surrounding the production and not quite so much focus on the celebrity “actors” taking part in the show. There are a lot of interesting things going on in a show like this and much more could have been made of the other actors, the stage crew and the director.  However I do grasp that in such a limited amount of words you do have to pick your story line and stay quite close to it.

The author primarily focusses on Lucy’s seeming adoration of the female panto celebrity star, Charmaine. Much as I’d like to call Lucy a doormat (as people did in the novel) I actually didn’t feel like she was only in the relationship for the accolades from Charmaine. I think Lucy genuinely wanted to help to get some inside knowledge of the star’s life and although she appeared a little starry-eyed I actually thought she was doing it for her own gain.

I found some love for Lucy’s roommate and thought she was a pretty cool character. I wish more of a role had been given to her as the other friend, fellow panto cow- Ben, turned out to be a bit predictable. Although he really covered the best friend role from every angle I was sort of expecting the final outcome and so was a bit disappointed they weren’t going to maintain their friendship as is.  Wish there had been another party available for Lucy in the Encore… but then it is supposed to be a Cinderella story!

A Cinderella Christmas was a fun and quirky story that made me laugh and pout.  Would love to see what Holly Kingston can give us character-wise with more time to explore each one.

Thank you to Novelicious for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

Connect with Holly Kingston:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dollface by Renee Rosen

4 Star

America in the 1920s was a country alive with the wild fun of jazz, speakeasies, and a new kind of woman—the flapper.

Vera Abramowitz is determined to leave her gritty childhood behind and live a more exciting life, one that her mother never dreamed of. Bobbing her hair and showing her knees, the lipsticked beauty dazzles, doing the Charleston in nightclubs and earning the nickname “Dollface.” 

As the ultimate flapper, Vera captures the attention of two high rollers, a handsome nightclub owner and a sexy gambler. On their arms, she gains entrée into a world filled with bootleg bourbon, wailing jazz, and money to burn. She thinks her biggest problem is choosing between them until the truth comes out. Her two lovers are really mobsters from rival gangs during Chicago’s infamous Beer Wars, a battle Al Capone refuses to lose. 

The heady life she’s living is an illusion resting on a bedrock of crime and violence unlike anything the country has ever seen before. When the good times come to an end, Vera becomes entangled in everything from bootlegging to murder. And as men from both gangs fall around her, Vera must put together the pieces of her shattered life, as Chicago hurtles toward one of the most infamous days in its history, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Lydia - 4 Star

I love all things twenties. I’m obsessed with Boardwalk Empire, fascinated by mobsters, and love anything flapper and am fervently wishing hats would come back in fashion. So, it would have been very hard for me not to love Dollface. I enjoyed reading about Vera’s life from rags to riches and innocent, naïve girl to independent go-getter wife and mother. The period, the drama and the emotion made this novel great for me.

Vera’s journey was an interesting one and is one that can translate across time. Good girl falls for bad boy and is left to survive his ways or leave into the unknown. What ramped up the tension to this age-old story was that she has not only one, but two bad boys and that her lovers are mobsters in rival gangs. Pitted against each other, Vera finds herself often caught in the middle and unsure of who she wants to be with.

Reading this, one can only assume things are going to end badly in one way or another as mobster dealings often do. Knowing what I did about the era, I deduced that things may work out well for Vera and her family and this made the tension even higher as I flipped through pages to find out what would happen. 

Taut with emotion, grim with violence and vivid in detail, Dollface explores the twenties in full mobster and glitter fashion contrasted against her old life. I found her new ‘family’ interesting to read about, even though I thought they were slightly crazy at times, and I enjoyed her relationship with her mother and how she gradually comes to appreciate all her mother had accomplished.  

I think this one would make a great movie!

Thank you to NAL Trade for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

Connect with Renee Rosen:
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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Shy Town Girls by Katie Leimkuehler, Jennifer Yih, and M.G. Wilson

3 Star

Ivy Westin, sassy with confidence to spare, lives life according to her own rules whether people like it or not—and not everyone does. At twenty-four, Ivy has almost everything she wants: a killer career in PR, fabulous friends, and a line of guys around the block. Not to mention she lives in one of the greatest cities in the world—Chicago.

But all that changes when Ivy’s best friend, Ella, invites her playboy brother, Shane, to town. But Shane isn’t the only guy causing havoc in her life. Ivy’s father, who has been out of the picture for over a decade, suddenly returns and starts meddling where he isn’t welcome. 

Ivy turns to her friends Ella, Bobbie, and Meryl, who all live together in the Gold Coast, for support. The one thing getting her through it all: rooftop nights splitting bottles of wine and sharing stories about their dating disasters and careers they’ve killed to be in—that are now are killing them. Ivy—once on top of the world—now finds herself drowning in her own lies. She’ll have to decide whether to come clean and risk ruining a friendship or to keep her mouth shut and hope her secret will never be revealed.

Kaley - 3 Star

When I first heard about the Shy Town Girls series, I was intrigued. Each book focuses on a different friend and the girls are all around my age (mid-twenties). Ivy’s story is actually the second in the series but author Katie Leimkuehler assured me that it didn’t matter what order I read the books in. I think that was in part because each book is actually written by a different author. I was a little let down with the novel overall but I think it’s a case of it being a personal thing. I think others might like it much more than I did.

My biggest issue, and why I didn’t love the book overall, was actually Ivy. I’m a huge character person and I like to like the main characters, or at least connect with them on some sort of level. Ivy really annoyed me. At twenty five she was still getting out of control drunk and didn’t realize how ridiculous her behaviour was. I couldn’t believe how immature she would act around Shane, Ella’s brother and the obvious love interest. There was no reason for her behaviour and I found it hard to reconcile her earlier actions with how the story ended up. Finally, (and small spoiler alert) Ivy gets a coworker fired. This coworker was behaving horribly to Ivy but I was really hoping Ivy would take the high road. No such luck. I just couldn’t connect with Ivy and I couldn’t see myself being friends with her.

The other thing that kind of drove me bonkers was the fact that a lot of the times the characters didn’t say things…they chirped or mumbled or sang or teased. It may sound weird but that really got on my nerves. I read something once, no idea when or where but I did read it, that if you have to use words like that instead of “said” then you’re not describing the rest of your book well enough.

I did like that the girls were all in their mid-twenties because I am as well. I felt like their lifestyle accurately portrayed what it’s like to be a twentysomething female living in a large city. They were all trying to figure out exactly where they belonged in the workforce and were trying to find the best fit and the one that made them happiest. Not to mention trying to find a relationship that was more than a one night stand and could actually mean something.

Reading about the friendship between Ivy, Ella, Bobbie, and Meryl was a lot of fun. The girls were tight knit and were each other’s family since none of them lived in the same city as their blood relatives. They were as close as sisters – which meant they bickered as much as sisters! Their relationships weren’t too perfect but I do have to say there were times I was rolling my eyes at how easily they forgave each other and how overly emotional they got with each other.

Overall, Shy Town Girls: Ivy was…alright. Katie Leimkuehler’s novel in the series didn’t blow me away but, like I said, I think this may have been my own personal bias. It’s very possible that others could read this and really like it so if the synopsis interests you I say give this series a try. 

Thank you to Networlding Publishing for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

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White Lies by Emily Harper

4 Star

Imagine standing in line at Harvey Nichols waiting to buy the most gorgeous silk Gucci dress. The only minor problem? You can’t afford it, it’s a size smaller than you are, and you have absolutely no place to wear it.

Meet Natalie Flemming: a twenty-something woman working in London for a fabulous shoe-designing firm, but the only thing they let her touch is the company’s tax forms. She has decided to give fate a vacation and takes the task of finding the man of her dreams (or Johnny Depp if he would just return her calls…) into her own hands.

She craves adventure, spontaneity, passion- or will just settle for a decent date.

Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle Kobo Nook

Kathryn - 4 Star

I have to admit that I found Natalie irritating for the first few chapters of White Lies. I was very worried that I would never be able to take her seriously so thank goodness she showed her sensible side in the work place fairly early on in the novel. I realised then that she was simply a bit off the wall in her attempts to find a date (or husband)! Her job as head of the accounting department for a fashion shoe company made her seem less flighty and I separated the Natalie “in charge of financing” with Natalie “looking for a man”.  Her quirky mistakes and funny little internal dialogues made her endearing and I was rooting for her all the way.

I absolutely loved her team in the accounting department – they were what we all wish our co-workers would be like: efficient at their jobs, supportive when you’re having a rotten day and good friends when you’re being loopy  perfect really. Their respect for each other and their boss Natalie was a great touch in the story development and made our main lady realistic and warm. I also became particularly attached to the creative department and their despair at having to make shoes for the “normal” woman, ie Natalie.  In my head they were tiny little shoe dictators (something like the elves in The Elves and the Shoemaker) – stomping their feet at the horror of the task in front of them. Loved it!

Now I’m not going to pretend that I was shocked by the outcome of her searching, but I was pleased I became attached to not only Natalie but the images I formed in my head of the office co-workers and the environment in which they worked. Harper painted a great picture while keeping White Lies funny and fast paced. 

Thank you to Emily Harper for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

Connect with Emily:
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Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Holdout by Laurel Osterkamp

5 Star

Robin wanted to win The Holdout, a cutthroat reality TV show, so she gave it her all, challenge after challenge. Then she fell for Grant, with his irresistible eyes and heartbreaking life story. But Grant was only using Robin as they competed for a million dollars. Once home, Robin wants to hide from the humiliation as episodes of The Holdout are aired, and she worries her family was right all along; she's not a survivor. Or maybe she'll have the last laugh Besides, Robin now has jury duty. And as she forges ahead, confronting her demons about bravery, justice, and romance, Robin will come to decide which is more important: the courage to stand alone, or the strength to love again.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

I wish that every book was as easy and enjoyable to read as The Holdout. I am certainly very happy that I read it and it definitely gave me a different perspective on what the life of someone on reality TV must be like.

I think one of the biggest strengths of this book was the fact that the characters felt very realistic. I might even dare say that they were some of the most realistic characters I have had the pleasure to read in the past while.

I can't say that I am a fan of reality TV; quite the opposite in fact but this book was written in such a way that I found myself rethinking that stance and debating whether or not I should give those type of shows another shot.

I really loved how the story moved back and forth from past and present almost seamlessly. There were no times that I felt confused by the transitions or off balance because things were unclear. The story was well paced with absolutely no parts that dragged on which I find very rare these days.

I think it is a credit to this author that everything seemed to flow well, the characters felt like friends or someone I knew and I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. I also totally agreed with how the story ended and wasn't disappointed with things being tied up in too pretty a bow at the end.

This was my first book that I have read by Osterkamp but it definitely won't be the last!

Thank you to Laurel Osterkamp for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Laurel:

Would You Rather with Jackie Bouchard

Please welcome Jackie Bouchard, author of What the Dog Ate and Rescue Me, Maybe.

About Jackie:

Jackie Bouchard used to be trapped in the hamster wheel of corporate America, but she was lucky enough to escape and now fully understands the term "struggling writer." Jackie loves: reading, writing, and, yes, even 'rithmetic (seriously, algebra rocks); professional cycling; margaritas; blogging (she never thought she'd say that, but she does); dogs in general, and her crazy rescue pup specifically; and her hubby. (Not in that order.) Jackie dislikes: rude people and writing about herself in the third person. After living in Southern California, then Bermuda, then Canada, then the East coast, Jackie and her husband settled in San Diego. American Jackie, her Canadian hubby, and her Mexican rescue mutt form their own happy little United Nations. Jackie's novels include "What The Dog Ate" and "Rescue Me, Maybe."

Connect with Jackie:

Would You Rather... with Jackie Bouchard

Chips, chocolate or cheese? 

I LOVE both chocolate and cheese, but I'm going to go with... cheese. No, chocolate. No, final answer: cheese. The motto in our kitchen is "Don't be shy with the cheese."

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw? 

Gotta go with Bridget. She was my first chick-lit love. You never forget your first. 

Wine, beer or vodka? 

Vodka. (Or tequila.) I'm a pretty pink cocktails kinda gal. My hubs makes a mean pomegranate margarita! (Where is he?? He should be making me one right now!)

Camping or spa vacation?

Camping. I'm not a "get pampered" kinda girl. (You'd know that if you could see the sad state of my fingernails right now.)

Water or Mountains?

Water. I'm a born and bred beach girl. 

Zombies or Vampires?

Tough one... Vampires are sexy, but I like the comic-relief that a zombie offers. (Gotta love "Sean of the Dead.")

Dogs or Cats?

Dogs! Anyone who's seen my book covers, blog, web site, or dog-hair-covered yoga pants knows that answer!

Coke or Pepsi?

I actually don't like either. I'm not really a soda girl. If I had to have a soda, I'd have a root beer. 

Coffee or tea?

Coffee. But just one cup, every morning.

Dine out or take away?

Take away. I like to eat on the sofa in my comfy pants while watching a movie with the hubs.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops

Sneakers. Gotta walk the dog every morning! 

Physical book or ebook?

I love a physical book, but I'll go with ebook. I read WAY more ebooks than physical books these days. 

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback. I'm pretty hard on books - like to read them in the bathtub or on the beach. I don't feel as bad about beating up a paperback.

Pen or Pencil?

Pen. Although my handwriting is frightful, so I do most of my writing on the computer.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad! The first three episodes are the best -- and most stressful -- thing I've ever seen on TV.

Drama or Comedy?

Comedy! I'd much rather laugh!

Twilight or Hunger Games? 

Hunger Games. Katniss could kick Bella's skinny butt.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick? 

Chapstick. Especially now. We are having a ridiculously hot and dry winter here in San Diego, so I've been slathering on the Burts Bees!

Facebook or Twitter

Facebook. I'm too wordy for Twitter.

Plot your entire novel or fly by the seat of your pants? 

Would love to be able to plot it, but I'm a pantster. Besides, I find it fun when your book/characters take twists and turns you didn't see coming! There were a few things in my current novel that I had no idea were going to happen!

Rescue Me, Maybe

If you lost both your husband and your dog to cancer within weeks of each other, but you were sadder about the dog, would you tell anyone? Maybe your closest friends. Unfortunately, Jane Bailey’s closest friends are on the other side of the country. That’s where Jane plans to go now that she’s free to leave Philadelphia, the too cold, beachless, street taco-deficient city her husband dragged her to six years ago. But with no job prospects in her hometown of San Diego, Jane is roped into helping out temporarily at her uncle’s southwestern small-town B&B. En route to her new role as innkeeper and breakfast chef, she finds a stray at a rest stop. With her heart in pieces from the loss of her dog, she’s determined not to let this mutt worm its way into her affections. She’s also determined to have next-to-no interaction with the B&B’s irritating guests, and the even more annoying handyman who lives next door. Can Jane keep her sanity—and her secret that she’s not really a grieving widow—while trying to achieve her dream of getting back to the place she thinks is home?

Available at:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Would You Rather with Laura Kemp

Please welcome Laura Kemp, author of Mums on Strike.

About Laura:

Laura Kemp started writing to get out of doing a real job. A journalist for fifteen years, she turned freelance after having a baby because she couldn't get out of the house, washed and dressed, until lunchtime at the earliest. A columnist and contributor, she regularly writes for national newspapers and magazines, and spends too much time on Twitter (@laurajanekemp). Married with a son and a neurotic cat, Laura lives in suburbia, where she starts every day vowing she's definitely not going to drink tonight. Mums on Strike is her second novel. To find out more visit her website at or join her on Facebook at Laura Kemp Books.

Would You Rather... with Laura Kemp

Chips, chocolate or cheese? 

I have just spent hours agonising over this - I really am a very deep thinker when it comes to savouries. I love chips and I love cheese and I could survive without chocolate. But to choose between chips and cheese is impossible. But I couldn't have them together - not a fan of cheesy chips. Can I just have crisps instead? 

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw? 

Definitely Bridget Jones. I'm completely unglamorous, hate shopping and it is not uncommon for me to fall over when drunk.

Wine, beer or vodka? 

Oooh, yes, please. Oh. Just one? White wine for the way it works quickly.

Camping or spa vacation?

I took a year out to travel the world so I've had my fill of roughing it. But spa treatments always make me go bright red and sweaty. I'll plump for an all-inclusive holiday in the Med with a kids' club.

Water or Mountains?

As long as I'm not on a boat, I love the water. The mountains make me feel hemmed in. God, I'm such a laugh, aren't I.

Zombies or Vampires?

Neither. So as well as being a fussy claustrophobic, I'm a scaredy cat too.

Dogs or Cats?

Cats because we always had them growing up and I owe my porn star name to my first - Mitzi Marsh - and because my cat Pillow would be upset if I said dogs. Also they sort out their own shit.

Coke or Pepsi?

Pepsi, just like I prefer Adidas to Nike. 

Coffee or tea?

Tea first thing, coffee injected in the eyeball until bedtime.

Dine out or take away?

A takeaway. I love being out when I'm out but I'm a secret hermit so I'd much rather stay in. And it's got to be chicken tikka balti with half-rice half-chips, which is a Welsh thing where I now live, plus bhajis, a naan and some mango chutney. 

High heels, sneakers or flip flops

I look like a drag act in heels so trainers every time - unless I'm on that all-inclusive holiday in which case flip-flops.

Physical book or ebook?

Physical book. I love the feel of one, the fact you can quickly flick back to remind yourself of something without getting confused by the technology and because I spend far too much time on my iPad, it's good to unwind in bed away from the glare of a screen.

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback. I don't have the biceps for hardbacks.

Pen or Pencil?

Pen because pencils need sharpening and I'm lazy.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad for its incredible plot and characters.

Drama or Comedy?

Comedy but in a heartbreakingly sad way - such as Early Doors and Rev. 

Twilight or Hunger Games? 

See zombies and vampires.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick? 

Lippy makes me feel self-conscious because I just don't have the plump lips required for a slick of red. Unfortunately. So lipgloss, usually Vaseline.

Facebook or Twitter

I love Twitter. It's immediate, funny, educational and it's where I get all the news. I have actual friends on there I've never met. My non-Twitter friends think it's weird but if you're working from home, it's like sitting in a virtual office. Come and say hi on @laurajanekemp!

Plot your entire novel or fly by the seat of your pants? 

I'm definitely a fly by the seat of your pants writer - that's not to say I don't plot my books because you need to have the structure of a beginning, middle and end and an idea of what's going to happen in each chapter. But my writing comes to me as I do it so I like to keep it bare bones and go with the flow.

Mums on Strike

Every morning before she's opened her eyes, she starts her mental inventory of jobs to do. And just like yesterday, the day before and every day since she became a mum, she's woken up knackered.

So when her husband deliberately steps over the grape because it's 'her responsibility' to run the house, it tips her over the edge.

He wasn't always like this - they used to share everything.

Then the kids came along and he saw it as an excuse to sit back.

But this time things are going to change. Lisa has made a decision. She's going on strike.

Available at:


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