Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Secret Kiss of Darkness by Christina Courtenay

"Must forbidden love end in heartbreak?

Kayla Sinclair knows she’s in big trouble when she almost bankrupts herself to buy a life-size portrait of a mysterious eighteenth century man at an auction.

Jago Kerswell, innkeeper and smuggler, knows there is danger in those stolen moments with Lady Eliza Marcombe, but he’ll take any risk to be with her.

Over two centuries separate Kayla and Jago, but, when Kayla’s jealous fiancĂ© presents her with an ultimatum, and Jago and Eliza’s affair is tragically discovered, their lives become inextricably linked thanks to a gypsy’s spell.

Kayla finds herself on a quest that could heal the past, but what she cannot foresee is the danger in her own future.

Will Kayla find heartache or happiness?"

I had read one of Christina's books before and recall enjoying it far more than I had thought I would (as I'm not usually a massive fan of historical books) but this book was amazing, just perfect in every way.  

The book alternates between 1781 and 2013, Devon and London, seamlessly moving between two timelines linked by an invisible thread and a gypsy's spell. 

The gypsy's spell doesn't just affect Jago and Kayla, Christina casts the spell much wider than that because I too felt spellbound as I read this book.  It's been a while since I've felt so involved in a book - I could feel my heart thudding harder at the tense moments and the tears came at the end of the book - but it was like I had been deposited in Kayla's world. So much so, that whenever I was disturbed from my reading of it, I got more and more agitated as the story unfolded. 

The tale is packed full of romance, but not so much so that it outshines everything else. You don't realise it, but it's just there and it becomes more and more consuming the more you read. I also loved both Wes and Kayla's relationship with little Nell, which was perfectly depicted. 

The two timelines are interwoven perfectly, the characters are excellently drawn (each with their own traits to make you instantly love or hate them) and the book is just perfect. Choclit have never failed to deliver a delicious hero and/or heroine, and this is no exception. I can't fault Christina's latest addition to the Choclit family. 

Available now as an eBook or in paperback from 7 February!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Welcome Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

This book has been in my To Read pile for a shamefully long time.  I finally got round to reading it, and found myself wondering why I hadn't left it on the bookcase. Honestly, I hated Chloe to start with. So much so that if I hadn't have been stuck on a train with nothing else to do I probably would have stopped reading. She was shallow, selfish and ridiculously irritating. 

BUT as Chloe's life is turned upside down, as a reader, you begin to see another side to her. She is plunged into a different side of her high school bubble, and forced into a group of people she didn't even know existed before. Don't get me wrong, Chloe remains mildly irritating but kind of loveable at the same time.

I ended up really enjoying Chloe's journey and her interactions with Dragon Clem really did make me smile.  The KDRS family are unique and fit perfectly together. And Duncan, ahh it to find out about him.

There are some serious themes running through this high school based young adult book; namely Parkinson's disease and drug abuse. However, they don't cloud the book, but are interwoven perfectly to create a truly heartwarming story. 

Highly recommended as a YA read, and even for adults. I personally didn't find this predictable like a lot of chick lit these days, I didn't even find myself trying to guess the story as I was so hooked on the page at hand, that I just kept turning page by page until I turned the last page with a smile of my face. A perfectly paced book, with a satisfying ending.  There are some simple, yet effective and important, life lessons which can be learnt from this book.

Take Me Home by Daniela Sacerdoti

I adored Daniela’s Watch Over Me, in fact I notice that I am quoted in Amazon’s product description of her new book Take Me Home praising Watch Over Me saying “Take your time when you read this, absorb every word, because it’s totally and utterly worth it.  The first book I’ve ever wanted to read again before I’d even finished turning the last page; this book will stay with me forever”.

So you can imagine my delight when Take Me Home arrived one morning.  So much so, I ditched the book I was reading mid-way through (I was struggling with it, and I needed an excuse to move on) and started to devour this new book.  It had big boots to fill, and did it live up to expectations? Yes, it did.  I don’t think I loved it as much, but only because I wanted more.  I wanted more of Inary and Alex and the ending wasn’t quite as beautiful as I had hoped for.

It was the perfect read to keep me sane on my delayed Tuesday morning commute, and it only took two days of commuting to finish rapidly turning the pages.  Perfect timing some might say, as I turned the last page as the train pulled into my station one evening last week.

Take Me Home has tinges of similarities to Watch Over Me; there are the broken hearts, the sadness and the element of “paranormal activity”, but it is unique and wonderful in its own right.

The book is written from different characters perspectives, and it alternatives perfectly to allow you to capture each characters innermost thoughts.  This style of writing doesn’t break the pace or flow of the book – it’s perfect.

The other book (which I ditched for this one, and which shall remain nameless for now), was causing me problems because I just couldn’t identify with the main character.  I just didn’t care.  However, I loved Inary from the first page of this book.  The book resounded with me, as I too find myself distancing myself from relationships (although for me it isn’t the conventional reason of having my own heart broken) and Inary’s deepest thoughts occasionally reminded me of myself.  I also loved Alex – he sounds like the sort of man I would like in my life. Maybe I have my own Alex, but I just can't see him for who he is?!

Take Me Home really is a truly beautiful story; it’s gripping and it’s moving.  It will hold your interest from the first sentence right through to the last, and it will leave you wanting more from Daniela Sacerdoti.

Once again, I am left wondering what book could possibly replace the void which Dani has left, once more, in my life.

** Take Me Home is due for release in paperback on 10 April 2014, and I believe available as an eBook right NOW **

Thank you to Janne at BlackandWhite Publishing for the advanced review copy!!!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Winter Wonderland by Belinda Jones

Imagine waking up inside a snow globe....

That's how travel journalist Krista feels when she arrives in magical Quebec to report on Canada's glittering Winter Carnival.

Over ten sub-zero days, Krista's formerly frozen heart begins to melt as she discovers the enchanting world of ice palaces, husky-dog sledding and maple syrup treats galore.  And then she meets Jacques, a man as handsome and rugged as he is mysterious...

The two share a secret that could bond them forever, but can they find a way to break through the protective layers around their hearts to warm up this winter wonderland?

Climb inside this snow globe, but beware it could get hot enough to melt all the snow!

I admit that it was love at first sight of this book.  It reminded me of Tiffany's with it's powdery duck egg blue cover, and it looked like the sort of book that I would adore from the first word.  But it didn't happen like that for me.  Winter Wonderland and I had a more complicated start to our relationship.  I read the first 20 pages or so, and then for one reason or another I began to read other books, book after book, without even giving Winter Wonderland a second thought.  Then, as Christmas and winter approached again, I noticed it on my bookcase and decided it was time that I must read this book!  I started with trepidation re-reading the words that were vaguely familiar and waiting for the "bite" that made me never want to put it down.  It was more of a slow burner to start off with, but it came eventually and once it arrived, the flames gripped me and became all-consuming.

Having now finished the book, I can say that I did adore it.  It is wonderfully romantic, but not in the usual obsessive chick lit way i.e. the romance is not ever present, it doesn't take over or take anything away from Krista's story of reporting in Quebec.  I liked her relationship with her best friend back home, which provide some fabulously funny skype and texting moments.

One of my favourite aspects was the husky dogs, and in particular, the husky puppies!! Belinda's description was so fantastic that I could almost feel their deep soft fur snuggled against me.

I have never been to Quebec, so I can't say how true to life her suggestions and discoveries are.  Given the acknowledgements, I don't think I would be let down.  Grab a copy and discover Quebec for yourself....