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Book review: Dangled Carat by Hilary Grossman + INT giveaway

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*Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

I haven’t read many memoirs in my life, but I was pretty much looking forward to reading this one. I find the cover very eye catchy and totally appropriate for the content and must say Hilary is a hilarious, fun, kind lady (had the opportunity to meet her on twitter). So, when I was asked to review her book I was thrilled.

I really have no idea why I’m usually so hesitant about reading memoirs. It’s maybe because they are real life stories and pretty much raw, sometimes with no HEAs. But I always find it very brave from the authors’ side to share intimate moments from their lives, I really admire that.

On that note, I must admit Hilary Grossman is one brave woman for sharing her history and attempts to marry someone she loved very much. The title says pretty much about her journey and her numerous attempts to turn Marc into a loving husband unafraid to commit for a life time.

BUT this is not just Hilary and Marc’s story, though pretty much of it is, but it’s also a warm story about a girl, a very scared and insecure girl. Hilary won me over from the first page, and when I was reading about all the things that were happening in her life, the loss of her father, the hell she went through in school, I had teary eyes. There was one moment, so powerful and so emotional when she is talking about her dad, sharing a memory of him, that I literally couldn’t restrain myself any longer. I burst into tears, thinking of my own father whom I almost lost 2 years ago. I empathized with her so much, my heart was literally breaking each time I’d read about the sad events in her life.

So, as you see, most of the book is the romance between Hilary and Marc, but the author also goes back and forth in time sharing some memories of her childhood too. I found these parts simply beautiful, well written and exceptionally emotional.

I admit, there were few times I wanted to give Hilary a good shake, because she was trying damn hard. But as much as I didn’t go through what she was going in her love life, I could understand her. The romance part did remind me a bit of Carrie and Mr Big’s story from Sex and The City, and there’s even a reference to it. But the fact I love Sex and The City has nothing to do with me loving this book. It’s just…you know, REAL! And it’s brilliantly written, fun, funny yet tender and emotional.

Would I be reading more from Hilary Grossman? Oh yes, you bet! I do wonder what the next book would be about. Would it be another memoir, or a fiction? I’d sure love to see what kind of fictional worlds she would create. But I’m sure of one thing though, no matter what the next book is about, I know Hilary will put all her heart into it and deliver once again. ‘Dangled Carat’ is a fab chick lit memoir you’d want to check, no matter if you already got your Mr Right. Hope you enjoy!

My rating: 4/5

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GIVEAWAY! Lovely Hilary Grossman is giving you, our lovely blog readers, a chance to win an e-copy of her fantastic memoir. The giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY (YAY) and closes on 2nd of March. The winner will be notified by e-mail and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. Unfortunately, if we don’t her from them we’ll have to pick another winner.

Now, enter the rafflecopter bellow and best of luck my lovelies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Hilary Grossman dated a guy so commitment-phobic that she was able to write a book about their relationship. She is currently the CFO of a beverage alcohol importer and lives on Long Island.
Twitter = @feelingbeachie
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Guest post: Jessica Katoff believes in Realistically Ever After

I probably don’t need to tell you this, considering you’re on this site and all, but Chick Lit is defined as novels written for, about, or by young educated women; literature that appeals especially to women, usually having a romantic or sentimental theme; and slang for a genre of literature geared towards female readers, which deal with modern issues in women’s live. Notice that the definitions don’t include the words “happily ever after” anywhere in them. So why do books that aren’t tied up in a neat little married-with-a-white-picket-fence-and-two-point-five-kids bow get such a bad rap?

I published my first book in December of 2013 and—spoiler alert—it doesn’t end the way a lot of people thought it should. The overwhelming response has been, “Great book, beautiful writing, horrible ending.” Why? Because it’s realistic. I wrote what I felt was not only true to life, but true to my characters, who I spent five years of my life getting to know. Isn’t variety the spice of life or whatnot? Should all books end so predictably, with happiness and sunshine and rainbows and kittens and all of that fluffy crap? What’s so wrong with a little realism with our sentimental themes and modern issues? Isn’t a story more satisfying, if it’s believable? Don’t you want to feel like these epic tales of love that all of us pen and read can happen to any one of us?

Happiness is different for everyone, I know, but for me, happy is realism. I have been given enough false ideations about how relationships are supposed to go via romantic comedies and Cosmo articles and love songs, that I don’t need the books I read or write to fuel the fire. I mean, I’m single and a little bitter, sure, so maybe that has something to do with it, but I like it when my friends are honest with me and books are my best friends. My main character is introduced to readers on the night her boyfriend of a decade has broken up with her—not with a meet cute and Mr. Right courting our leading lady—and the story follows her through her healing. She is a prime example of a human being, in that she makes decisions like anyone else would in her situation, not how Hollywood would lead you to believe women with broken hearts react: irrational, stupid, thoughtless. She’s broken and damaged, but how she heals and how her story ends are hers alone, and her story ends in the way she wanted it to. She got her happy ending, and isn’t that what matters?

Think about something you really love, like something that evokes a want-you-need-you-die-without-you kind of feeling within you. Got it? Now, imagine the precise opposite of that. Got that, too? Great. Now, that opposing thing, guess what? That’s what I love more than anything on the planet and it makes me endlessly happy. Are you happy for me? Or are you angry because the things that make me happy aren’t the same as yours? You’re looking at it all wrong, if that’s the case. There’s more of your happy out there for you, if everyone else has a happy of their own. We’re all different—we love and think and want differently—and we’re all the heroines in our own stories. Yours doesn’t need to be the same as mine. Just be happy for thy fellow chick, and we can all live realistically ever after.

About Jessica Katoff:

Image Jessica Katoff is a boring CEO by day and a New Adult/Chick Lit/Whatever-You-Want-to-Call-It author by night. When she isn’t pretending to be a professional or staring hopelessly at the blinking cursor on her laptop screen, Jessica loves to marvel at the beauty of live music, not wear pants, bake tasty things, binge watch television shows, drink whiskey, and sleep–not all at once. Jessica hates ignorance, people who talk during movies or with their mouth full, lima beans, and the word “ooze.” A southern Florida native and current resident, she plans on relocating to Tennessee with her two very fluffy pooches as soon as possible, and is currently accepting applications for a devastatingly perfect husband in the greater Nashville area. She released her debut novel, WHAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND, in December of 2013, and expects to release her second novel, SOME OF THE PARTS, in late 2014.

Website: http://www.jessicakatoff.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jessicakatoff | Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jessicakatoff

What You Leave Behind on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HCXP1LQ

Blog Tour: The Dead Wife’s Handbook by Hannah Beckerman – Review and Best Romantic Memory

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This Chick Reads is beyond excited to be part of Hannah Beckerman’s Blog Tour for ‘The Dead Wife’s Handbook’. It’s the book EVERYONE has been talking about for the last couple of months! Now that we read Hannah’s book, we can only say it totally lived up to the hype!

‘The Dead Wife’s Handbook’ is one of the best and most original books I’ve ever read. It’s deep, emotional and thought-provoking. When Hannah shared her first chapter I knew I had to immediately check it out. I was hooked from the very first page. I had tears in my eyes from reading the first couple of sentences:

“I didn’t mean to die so young. I don’t suppose anyone does. I don’t suppose many people would willingly fail to reach their thirty-seventh birthday or their eighth wedding anniversary or see out their daughter’s seventh year on the planet. I suspect there aren’t many people who would voluntarily relinquish all that, given the choice.”

Rachel didn’t have a choice. She didn’t even know she had a poor heart until that day she felt a strong pain in her chest and died at the age of 36, leaving her beloved husband Max and 6 year old daughter Ellie to mourn for her. But it’s not only them who’re grieving, Rachel is having a hard time adjusting to the fact she will no longer be able to see or touch her family, that she won’t be able to see Ellie grow up, not be able to see her finish school, fall in love, get married.

Now i told you this is an emotional book, and as you see you’ll probably need tons of tissues when reading it. But what I found really fascinating was the way this book was cleverly divided in parts which showed the things Rachel was going through, the different stages starting from shock, to denial, anger etc. As human beings, we might be different when it comes to many things, but we sure are so similar when it comes to grief, pain and loss. We all feel it and we have a hard time accepting the loss. The Dead Wife’s Handbook is such a wonderful book, yet reading it was such a strange experience. I’ve never thought about what would happen to my loved ones if I died, totally unexpected just like Rachel did. Because, as much as everyone says they’d want their loved ones to move on, is it really something we’d want?

Maybe I’m nothing like Rachel, but I am a woman, a wife and a mother, so I could really connect with her. I could feel her pain, her grief, her worst fears. She’s torn, fearing she’d be forgotten, and that might be worse than the actual death.

“It’s not the mortality of the body that’s the real tragedy of the dead. It’s the dissolution of memory. For the dead, to be forgotten is as if never to have lived at all.”

But though this book will make you cry like a baby, it is definitely not just a book about dying or overcoming loss. It’s about love, that unconditional love we feel for our children, that imprint we leave behind and that continues to speak about who we were. It’s about the importance of family, of loving and being loved, of sharing memories and holding on to them when everything is lost. Because those memories are who we were, who we are, they define us.

I swear, I could talk about this book for hours, and I must say it is an excellent choice for Book Clubs or groups who’d want a fantastic book that will provoke so much discussing on many topics. But it all goes down to this: ‘The Dead Wife’s Handbook’ might be a debut but it’s a masterpiece! And no matter how hard I try to explain just how fabulous this book is, I’m sure I’ll never be able to. It’s such a powerful, deep, emotional, thought-provoking book you definitely don’t want to miss out on. I’m sure you’ll love both the powerful message behind it as well as Hanna’s unique, fresh and beautiful writing style. A true MASTERPIECE that will stay with you long after you’ve read it! I bow to you Hannah!

My rating: 5/5

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Hannah Beckerman’s Best Romantic Memory

I was in Shanghai with my boyfriend at the end of a three-week trip to China. The weather in Shanghai had been patchy since we’d arrived a few days earlier but on this day the sky had finally cleared and there were at last decent views across the city. I was desperate to spend sunset on the observation deck at the top of the Shanghai World Financial Centre – the highest observation deck in the world – but my boyfriend was insistent that we should have early evening drinks at a rooftop bar overlooking the The Bund and the river. I pointed out that we could do that any evening it didn’t rain, but that there might not be another evening clear enough for decent views up high. My boyfriend was insistent we go to the bar, and his insistence was pretty unusual: he’s usually the most laid-back person I know. After a bit of huffing and puffing (actually, quite a lot of huffing and puffing) I finally gave in. A few hours later, at a rooftop bar watching the sun go down and the lights of the city come up, my boyfriend proposed. It turned out he’d been planning to propose on that very day (on the day sandwiched in between the anniversary of when we met and my birthday) and in that very place (overlooking the skyline of a city we’d both been so looking forward to visiting) for some months now. And I’d come very close to spoiling the whole thing with my demands to go somewhere else. We never did get to that observation deck, but we did get married six months later and I reckon that’s probably a better outcome than any view in the world.

My Best Romantic Memory

Three years ago I was away from home (in Bulgaria) due to some research I needed for a project. I always hate leaving my family behind, but unfortunately, it’s a sacrifice I had to make because of my job. First two weeks were hard, I could barely eat and I worked so hard and such long hours at the lab. The third week I really felt like I can’t take it anymore, it was freezing (though it was June), and besides working I really couldn’t do much. I was too tired when I’d come to the flat, and really had no desire to go out and hang with my colleagues. I called hubby and remember crying so hard, telling him I feel like I can’t take it anymore. We were on the phone for half an hour, I spoke to my son and I was trying so hard to sound happy because the last thing I wanted was for him to get upset. I went to bed with tears, hoping tomorrow I would feel better. I woke up and the phone was ringing. It was hubby, optimistic as ever, wishing me a good morning and telling me he has a surprise for me, but I will need to go to the window. Once I went, I nearly fainted. IT WAS HUBBY in front of my building, lots of baggage and flowers in his hands! I remember running down the stairs, leaving the flat’s door open. My love was here! I still can’t believe he drove all night, crossed borders to come and see me and make me feel better. He stayed for a week and we had a blast! I will never forget the look in his eyes, the strong embrace, that feeling when you know someone is there for you whenever you need him. Miki, if you’re reading this, just know that I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, more and more with each new day!

Guest post: Julie Shackman finds the write time and shares her journey to publishing

Today I have the pleasure to welcome Julie Shackman to This Chick Reads. Julie recently published her debut novel ‘Rock My World’ and today is here to talk about her book and her journey to publishing. Thanks so much for visiting our blog Julie!

I’m one of those people who stands and stares at the glossy bookshelves in supermarkets and  bookshops, with a wistful smile on my face. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to write. When I was around nine, I remember going into  shops like Woolworths, gripping my pocket money for dear life and buying those cheap, bright orange exercise jotters. I would then rush home and fill them with my creative ramblings. Books too, form a young age, were an object of fascination for me, so that probably explains why I ended up training as a journalist. I also studied Communication & Media, but the longing to write for the romance genre was always there.

A number of years ago, I had two children’s’ picture books published but again, the longing to write romance was nagging away at me. Cue two sons, family matters, moving house and various other aspects of life and I finally decided to get on with it, do it and see what happened.

I wrote “Rock My World” whenever I got the opportunity to put pen to paper. When I finished the first draft, I felt that was an achievement in itself and spent time polishing it up. Then I lit the torch paper and stood well back – in other words, started submitting it to literary agents and publishers. Well, as any writer will tell you, this process is about as endearing as the common cold.

For months, rejections came tumbling in and although I received positive comments about my writing, there was no offer of representation from literary agents or publishers offering a contract. Feeling at times like I was swimming against the tide (well, several tides actually) I did contemplate giving up. But each time I was on the verge of saying “No more”, I’d read about other writers who kept writing, kept reading and kept going – and who ended up getting published.

Thank Goodness I heeded their advice.

In November, after having read an article about London digital publishers Not So Noble Books (NSNB), I heaved another sigh and e-mailed them my first three chapters, synopsis and query letter. Several days later, I received a reply from them, saying they enjoyed my first three chapters and  could I send them my full MS? As I had been in this situation before, I was pleased but refused to get my hopes up and immediately fired off my completed novel.

About two weeks before Christmas, I received an e-mail from NSNB again – this time, saying they were offering me a publishing contract. Imagine a hyperventilating Mother of two, obsessively reading and re-reading that e-mail – yes, that was me.

The saying “Published authors are unpublished authors who never gave up” has stuck with me and helped me through those times when I was all for destroying my notebooks and heaving the PC through the nearest window. And that was on a good day.

Good Luck, keep writing and keep reading!

Julie Shackman

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Author Bio

I trained as a journalist but writing romance has always been a dream of mine.

When I’ve not got my head in a book or drafting one, I write verses and captions for greetings card companies.

Writing at home seems to be incredibly difficult for me – I usually require coffee, music and noise. “Rock My World”  is my first contemporary romance novel .

I have just finished writing my second novel and am polishing that at the moment whilst beginning to do some research for my third. These are also contemporary romances with a good dose of humour (hopefully!)

I’m married, have two sons and live in Scotland.

Find Julie Shackman on facebook and twitter

Buy ‘Rock My World’ on  amazon.co.uk and amazon.com

Book review: Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes by Sue Watson

Image*Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

Do you believe in love at first sight? Well, I’m pretty realistic so I’d say that’s a big fat NO for me. But when it comes to books and their covers, OH LA LA! I fell in love with the cover of Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes head over heels! I saw it and immediately thought THIS IS THE BOOK FOR ME! The cover is so chic and girly, and the colors are so vibrant. I’ve seen so many book covers, yet this one is definitely my favorite.

But it’s not only the cover that is stunning and delicious, the content is even better! It’s one of those books that will lift your mood, make you laugh out loud and…ok, make you crave for food, yet you won’t be able to put it down.

The story follows Stella Weston, a TV producer who’s mighty good at what she does, but is suddenly transferred to work in another ‘area’. Ok, it might not be that suddenly, because Stella could foresee it coming, knowing MJ (her nasty boss) would do ANYTHING to destroy her. Working long hours, not being able to pick her daughter after school, missing out on family dinners etc, oh and the feeling of GUILT, that’s what Stella’s life suddenly turns into. I swear to God, MJ is worse than the devil itself, she’s evil, arrogant, lazy..BH with one word! I think Stella deserved a medal for working with her in the first place. It’s MJ that arranges this transfer for Stella, she’s to leave to work on another area, covering gardening and religion! She wants to see Stella go down, but the question is – will Stella allow her that?

Revenge is sweet my friends, and in this case, it was hilarious too! I laughed out loud and was so happy when I saw Stella transforming in front of my eyes. I was rooting for her from the start, she’s one tough lady! There were some parts, especially those when she had to leave home for a longer period that really made me sympathize with her. She’s not the cruel workaholic business type of woman, yet she loves her job and of course she has to make some sacrifice on the way. But my heart was breaking every time she’d feel left out, every time she thought of her daughter going to bed without her kiss, every time she had a fight with her husband Tom.

I also loved the baking part, though to be completely frank, I’m a lousy baker. No matter how hard I try, I always seem faster (and better) in eating than cooking or baking.:)

Overall, this was a fantastic book with strong feel-good factor. I loved each of the characters (even the crazy vicar’s wife) and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Sue. She’s definitely a talented chick lit author with fresh and unique voice and going on my list of all time faves.

My rating: 4/5

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Book review: Doubting Abbey by Samantha Tonge

Image*Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

I am not a huge fan of reality TV shows, in fact I don’t watch TV that much except for kids shows which I kind of have to since I have two little ones at home.

Also, I’ve never seen Downton Abbey and this book was compared with that series. But as I’ve heard from many people who’ve also read this book, there isn’t any big connection with Downton Abbey except that both of them are set in mansions.

Originally, I was planning this book as part of the Christmas Feature on my blog, but once I started reading it, i realized it’s not a Christmassy read, despite the cover (which is gorgeous) which does have a winter-christmassy feel to it.

But still, it is an interesting read. Abbey and Gemma are best friends and flatmates. Abbey is all posh, descending from a long line of aristocrats while Gemma is a waitress with not as classy manners. One day Abbey asks Gemma to step in and cover for her on a reality show, pretending to be Abbey. Now, you say what show? Well, Abbey is supposed to take part in the TV reality show Million Dollar Mansion which is supposed to help out her family, the Croxleys, raise enough money to invest in their mansion (which is kind of falling apart). But Abbey won’t be able to make it since she’ll be away with her boyfriend helping kids in need abroad, and needs Gemma to cover her since they do resemble each other. Of course, she’ll need to dye her hair and learn how to talk all posh, but still chances are big they can actually pull this off. But no one is supposed to know about this, not even Edward, Abbey’s cousin she hasn’t seen in ages.

After hesitating for a while, Gemma accepts to step in for her friend, NOT aware of all the drama that will happen in the Croxley’s mansion. Can she pull this off and will there be any consequences if they found out?

Now hold on a sec, as an idea, I really like this whole Million Dollar Mansion TV reality. I did find it a bit silly at the beginning, but I admit it’s original. I’ve never read a book before with a TV reality in which aristocrats compete against each other, though I’ve read quite a few about TV reality shows set on different locations. So this part of the story, I really liked.

Even the idea of switching characters, Gemma pretending to be Abbey, I really enjoyed. It was funny to read about Gemma and her transformation into a noble, classy woman. I laughed out loud on few places, some things Gemma (now Abbey) was saying were just hilarious! But still, Gemma (Abbey) really didn’t grew on me as a character despite the fact I really wanted that. At times I even found her a bit annoying, but I guess that was the author’s intention. To create two very very different characters and show this transformation into a Lady. That was indeed the funniest thing about this book, so it really worked well for me. If Gemma was portrayed differently, I guess we wouldn’t be able to see that transformation so clearly.

But still, I had some issues with it. Despite being really funny and fun, it did take me longer to finish it. I really enjoyed the first half of the book, but found the second one not that amusing. And Edward’s blog…it was interesting, yet not very convincing since I really think a Lord wouldn’t be blogging about his competition. Well, at least not Edward, the way he was portrayed. It just didn’t feel right to me, but even if things like that could happen, his blog posts very really not that much fun. Totally unnecessary addition to the book if you ask me.

Overall, I did enjoy it to certain extent and would most definitely be checking out Samantha Tonge’s future books. I do have a feeling they’d get better, since this is a debut.

My rating: 3/5

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All I Want For Christmas: Day 22 – Book review: Christmas at Thornton Hall by Lynn Marie Hulsman

Image*Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

Reviewing this book will not be easy. To be quite frank I really have no idea even where to start. I feel slightly disappointed because the start was very very promising.

Juliet Hill is a chef, a mighty good one actually. She’s been offered a fab last minute offer to work at Thornton Hall, but she thinks she needs to decline because she’s planning on spending Christmas with her wonderful boyfriend. The only thing is, her boyfriend is not wonderful, actually he’s a cheating son a bitch. Looks like she won’t be spending Christmas (or rest of the life) with him after all, so nothing is stopping her to accept the generous offer (big bonus included) from her agency and Jasper Roth and go to Thornton Hall to assist their permanent chef, Edward. But it’s not the first time she’s meeting that family and their staff, and she’s feeling lots of drama will happen. And she’s damn right.

Now I come to the part when I need to explain all the pro’s and con’s, and it’s not gonna be easy. Well, for a start, I really tried to understand the MC, but Juliet seems too indecisive for me. I loved her at the beginning, honestly she’s the classic chick lit character, with a fucked up life but willing to start again. I absolutely loved the first 15-20% of the book, and if I could rate solemnly on reading those pages, I’d say this book deserves 10 stars! I laughed, I found Juliet fun and funny, especially her reactions when she finds out her boyfriend is cheating. BUT then she goes to Thornton Hill and all of a sudden I felt like she stopped being so fun. Maybe the fact I was introduced to soooo many new characters at such a short time didn’t help either. I know the idea of the author was to show each of the staff working in Thornton Hall, but really guys, it all just seemed a bit too overwhelming for me. I admit, I had difficulties remembering their names, their characteristics, positions in the household etc. I’m pretty sure I would enjoy it more if I was given more time to get to know them, meaning if they were introduced in the book step by step, or if it weren’t so many of them. Or maybe the problem was the pacing. I do love fast paced books, but I think things were moving too fast for me to actually feel all these personalities (and there are so many of them).

Another thing which honestly is a big no-no for me in every book, are the triangles, and here we have couple of them. It all seemed too much for me and I think just burdened the story. They were unnecessary and just made the MC seem like a very lost character.

BUT on a lighter note, it’s a debut and I’m sure Lynn Marie’s other books will be better. Her writing style is fresh and she did intrigue me enough with this book (twists I didn’t expect), which is good obviously. I did laugh on few places and there were some very fun and interesting situations the MC gets into. If you’re a sucker for fun, festive read you should definitely give it a try. As for Lynn Marie’s future books, I will definitely be on a watch our for them. I have a feeling she’s putting all her heart in writing, and that’s certainly a thing I really appreciate the most.

My rating: 3/5

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Buy ‘Christmas at Thornton Hall’ on amazon.co.uk

Find Lynn Marie Hulsman on her site and twitter

All I Want For Christmas: Day 16 – Book review: The Parisian Christmas Bake Off by Jenny Oliver

Image*Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review*

“You are going to Paris.

I’m not going to Paris.

Yeah, you are. To bake with Henri Salernes.”

Rachel loves to cook. She doesn’t have many things in her life, but she has friends that love her very much. So, they sign her up for Paris’s next patisserie apprentice. She travels to Paris to prove herself that she is a star baker. And Henri Salernes is not nice guy at all. Among professional cooks, who step over other peple to achieve their goals, Rachel doesn’t have a chance. Or, maybe she does. Who knows? So, Rachel, ready, set, cook!

I immediately fell the connection with Rachel’s character. She is the girl next door that everyone loves. She loves children, so she works as a teacher. Rachel has always loved cooking because cooking is the only thing that connects her with her mother who died when Rachel was a child. Her mother owned a bakery, so Rachel spent her childhood helping her mom in the kitchen. Spending a week in the most romantic city in the world is a chance for a new beginning, making a dream come true, to open her mother’s bakery again, and maybe, just maybe, a chance for a kiss under the mistletoe.  Among many professional cooks, Rachel feels helpless, but she is not a person who quits. Because there is always the memory of her mom’s words: “Just one more try hunny, just for me”. She would never step over other people to achieve her own ambitions. All she needs for winning the prize is to cook, and to believe in herself.

I must confess, I love Christmas and cooking. Christmas books with cooking patisseries make me hungry, really hungry. So here’s what I do: read a page, go to the kitchen :).  I hope I won’t gain much weight till Christmas. I loved all those dishes mentioned in the book. I almost could smell the cinnamon cookies.

And Paris, awww, Paris. I loved Paris. I loved the way Rachel saw Paris. I could almost feel the city, like actually being there.

‘The Parisian Christmas Bake Off ‘ is a charming and warm read, one you will not be able to put down once you start reading. It’s a brilliant debut and I’m definitely gonna be on a watch out for Jenny’s next books.

My rating: 4.5/5

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Buy ‘The Parisian Christmas Bake Off’ on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com

Find Jenny Oliver on twitter

Book review: What Would Oprah Do by Erin Emerson

ImageDear E,
I heard your close friends call you E and I would like to consider myself your friend (or at least imagine it):) These are modern times so instead of writing you a letter or an e-mail, I decided to tell you how much I care about you and your book in a review. Maybe I would’ve even written you a letter and send a Christmas card too, but I don’t have your address and asking you your address would be weird, right?

Well E, your Cate in ‘What Would Oprah Do’ has Oprah, I have you, so I’ll use the power of internet to vent a bit and at the same time show just how great writer you are. Because trust me, I totally can connect to Cate. I mean, I still have my job and a wonderful family that cares about me, but I had crappy days. Lots in fact, and this last period of my life hasn’t been great either. I have deadlines at work, lots of stress and had teeth extractions and root op, all of this crap in just a month. I know, I should be thankful it’s nothing serious and I’m healthy and young (let’s say 34 is young, ok?) and have wonderful people around me, still sometimes we feel like we’re falling apart though everything seems fine on the surface.

So at times like this, we read a book or watch TV, hang out with friends who can make us feel a bit better..or we just imagine what would it be like IF we were someone else. Or we imagine what our life would be like if we were just a but younger, smarter, richer…
Cate thinks she’d be happier if she were adopted by Oprah. I’m cool with that, though the thought of it is way too funny LOL But I get it, she needs to vent (just like I do now) so she writes all these HILARIOUS e-mails to Oprah, who’s her idol. I loved reading them and love Cate’s humor. She has all the reasons to feel down, jobless, no money except savings to get her through just a few months, a cheating ex-boyfriend who left her for his boss and no idea what to do with her life. BUT she has a great sense of humor and DREAMS! You know, I wish I am more like Cate, she falls so many times but is always promptly back on her feet. She didn’t seem like a loser to me, as lost as she appears to be. She actually seems like someone I would love to hang out with, even be BFF with.

I loved how she tries to be a better person, how she doesn’t give up despite so many things going wrong. The thing is we people sometimes give up too early and never see most of our dreams fulfill. If we could be more persistent, if we could be more like Cate, I think this world would be a better place. I truly believe this.

Maybe we need someone like Cate’s friend Vivian, that lovely and generous and oh so wise lady, to guide us? YES! We all need someone like Vivien, experienced and kind and always ready to help us. Gosh, I loved Vivien and her energy. And you know what E? I never expected this book to have spiritual elements, and I was so surprised how well they fitted the story. Once I got to them the story reminded me so much of Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and I loved that one too.

Dear E, I know you can’t adopt me, because first off I might be older than you and second I’m miles away. BUT your book already did enough for me. I found it not only funny and unique, but also inspirational, deep and life changing. Many would NOT expect chick lit to be life changing, but here you are, proving them all wrong.

Your novel is among the TOP 5 debuts I’ve ever read, which means that I really really enjoyed it and I hope you’ll surprise me with another novel soon.

With love,
A X

My rating 5/5

ANANDA SIGNATUREBuy ‘What Would Oprah Do’ on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com

Find Erin Emerson on her site, facebook and twitter

Book review: Connectivity by Aven Ellis

Image*Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

Named after Olson twin, Mary Kate is chasing her dream to work in the TV industry. But bills need to be paid, so she takes a job as an assistant to the general manager of TATS-Total Access Total Sports in hope to transfer to BH Network, and get her dream job. Stucked with making copies for the boss, she meets William Cumberland, British Media Mogul, who recenly bought a part of TATS. Now, he is her new boss, and she is his personal assistant.

Mary Kate is not looking for a relationship. The previous ones ended badly, so she tries to focus on her carrier as well. The last thing she wants to be is like her mother and sister. She loves them both very much, but there is more to life than being married and having children. A woman can have her own career  too, doesn’t have to give up anything.

William stays away from relationships too. He’s had  enough of women who are after him only for his money. Money that he earned by working very hard. Raised in family where parents had their two sons just to say that they have a family, he decides not to be like them, not to have a family without love. But when he meets Mary Kate, the walls he built around himself start to fall.

I loved both Mary Kate and William as characters. I loved their texts which they were sending to each other  all the time, their support for each other, the way they chose gifts for each other. The romance between MK and WC (they sign their texts with initials) is so cute and innocent. They are just so adorable as a couple.

Baring in mind this is a debut, I have to say Ms. Ellis did an amazing job. She points out the differences between the Americans and the English in such a lovely way, while not offending either of the sides.  Just to mention, Mary Kate is American and William is English.

I really enjoyed reading this lovely romantic story. It’s pretty much a modern version of Cinderella, handsome prince included. Ms. Ellis is definitely an author to watch out for and I’m already looking forward to her next books. Speaking of which, I wonder when is a new one coming out. Let’s hope it’ll be soon.

My rating: 4.5/5

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Buy ‘Connectivity’ on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com

Find Aven Ellis on her site, facebook and twitter