UNCOVERED PICKS: Five New Releases for February

New month, new reads! This February sees new releases from Georgie Capron, Jenny Colgan and more...

Just the Two of Us by Georgie Capron
Lucy is the wrong side of thirty and tormented daily by the idyllic family pictures cluttering up her Facebook newsfeed. All of her friends seem to be getting married and having babies, and yet here she is, resolutely single, and no prospect of creating the perfect family she's always dreamt of.

How she longs for it to be her turn.

But finding love is complicated, and as time passes she wonders if there might just be another way to make her dreams come true. Is she brave enough to go it alone, or is the fantasy of 'baby makes three' just too precious to give up on?

Funny, warm, and a story for our time, Just the Two of Us will make you laugh and cry, and remind you never to give up on love.

The Summer Seaside Kitchen by Jenny Colgan
Flora is definitely, absolutely sure that escaping from the quiet Scottish island where she grew up to the noise and hustle of the big city was the right choice. What was there for her on Mure? It's a place where everyone has known her all her life, and no one will let her forget the past. In the city, she can be anonymous, ambitious and indulge herself in her hopeless crush on her gorgeous boss, Joel.

When a new client demands Flora's presence back on Mure, she's suddenly swept back into life with her brothers (all strapping, loud and seemingly incapable of basic housework) and her father. As Flora indulges her new-found love of cooking and breathes life into the dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour, she's also going to have to come to terms with past mistakes - and work out exactly where her future lies...

You Drive Me Crazy by Anna Premoli
What girl doesn’t dream of an amazing promotion working on the other side of the world?
This once in a lifetime opportunity is presented to 28 year old investment banker, Maddison Johnson and instantly fills her with abject fear.

It isn't the New York transfer she had set her heart on... she's going to South Korea, instead.
To make things worse, her boss Mark Kim doesn’t go out of his way to make it easy for her to adapt to her new environment.

Plunged into a world she knows nothing about with a man she can't stand, Maddison finds herself forced to adapt and grow up quickly. Maybe in the process she will stumble over something wonderful and quite unexpected...

Sugar by Kimberly Stuart
After realizing her coworkers at L’Ombre, a high-profile restaurant in NYC, will never appreciate or respect her, Charlie Garrett allows her ex-boyfriend, Avery Michaels, to convince her to work for him as executive pastry chef at his new Seattle hotspot, Thrill. She’ll have her own kitchen, her own staff—everything she ever wanted professionally.

When she arrives at Thrill, however, she realizes that Avery wanted more than a pastry chef for his restaurant—he wanted a costar for the reality show they’re filming about the restaurant and its staff. Charlie is uncomfortable with the idea at first, but she soon realizes that this is her chance to show the world what women in the kitchen are capable of. She sets some ground rules with the film crew, signs a non-disclosure agreement, and promptly meets the man of her dreams, Kai, off-camera.

The show, and her demanding work schedule as head of the pastry kitchen, makes it nearly impossible for Charlie and Kai to spend time together. Drama on and off the set soon take a toll on Charlie’s well-being, forcing her to choose if life in front of the camera is worth sacrificing life behind the scenes.

Sugar is a contemporary romance, set in the high-pressure commercial kitchens of New York and Seattle. A funny and clever story of how a female chef learns to thrive in the ruthless world of premier restaurants.

The Secret to Falling in Love by Victoria Cooke
Status Update: I’m going offline for a while… Wish me luck! xx

Lifestyle journalist and thirty-something singleton Melissa hashtags, insta's and snapchats her supposedly fabulous life on every social media platform there is.

That is until she wakes up on her birthday, another year older and still alone, wondering if for all her internet dates, love really can be found online? The challenge: go technology free for a whole month!

Forced to confront the reality of her life without its perfect filters, Melissa knows she needs to make some changes. But when she bumps into not one, but two gorgeous men, without the use of an app, she believes there could be hope for love offline.

If only there was a way to choose the right guy for her…

BOOK REVIEW: Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr

Okay, so I was super excited about Blogger Girl from the moment I heard about it. It's a novel essentially about a chick-lit blogger. Being one of those myself, and also one with a full-time day job, I figured that heroine Kim and I would get along swimmingly.

Kim Long is a busy lady. By day she's a secretary in a law firm. By night she runs very popular chick-lit blog Pastel is the New Black. Juggling her paid job with her many book reviews, blog posts and emails can be difficult at times, but Kim loves it. Even if she seems to have left behind a big dream somewhere along the way...

But things are about to get even trickier for Kim when the news surfaces that her high school nemesis, Hannah Marshak, has just had a book published. A chick-lit book. With Hannah having made Kim's life miserable back in high school, the last thing she wants to do is give Hannah's new novel a glowing review. But how is she going to get out of it?

Meanwhile, Kim's office relationship with hot colleague Nicholas is starting to progress. After having had a crush on him for quite some time, the pair are getting closer. That is, until bitchy new lawyer Daneen steps in to try and do everything in her power to undermine Kim.

With problems in both of her lives - as a secretary and successful blogger - Kim realises that she has to do something about her predicament. And with the help of her friends, she's about to do what all her favourite chick-lit heroines do - find her own happy ending. But will it be that easy?

I enjoyed this novel; it's sweet, with some fun characters and a bit of revenge thrown in. It's typical chick-lit, complete with the bitchy colleague, office hottie, the big rival, friends to help along the way. That aspect of it made me smile, the way that all of these elements in the formula tie in to Kim's own chick-lit story, with her being such a lover of the genre. It's also quite a short novel, and I finished it within a day. It's very well written and perfectly paced.

Admittedly, despite Kim being a character I figured I'd have a lot in common with, I didn't really relate to her. I found her a bit self-absorbed in places, and at certain points I wanted to yell at her for not standing up for herself. What she does to Daneen is amusing, but I feel she could have rectified the situation a lot earlier by being less weak. I also wanted to punch Hannah for being so smug, and in Kim's defense I could only imagine how horrifying it would be for the high school mean girl to come along and swipe your dreams.

Blogger Girl is a great read if you're looking for a sweet, romantic tale with a good dose of humour and revenge! The sequel, Novelista Girl, is also available. I've heard great things about it so I'll definitely be checking it out.

Rating: 4/5

Thank you to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

BLOG TOUR: Mary Gibson - Extract of 'Bourbon Creams and Tattered Dreams'

This weekend Mary Gibson has stopped by as part of her blog tour for new novel, Bourbon Creams and Tattered Dreams. Set in the 1930s, the novel focuses on a young rising star who is forced to flee her life in America, with a past secret that threatens to surface.

The book (with its gorgeous cover!) is now available. Read on for an extract of Bourbon Creams and Tattered Dreams, and to find out where Mary will be heading next on the tour.

New York
May 1930

She waited for midnight – her flight must be cloaked in darkness, and it must take him completely by surprise. When the phone call came she had to move quickly. She snatched up the receiver at the first ring.

‘Matty, go now!’ a woman’s voice whispered urgently in her ear. It was Maria, Frank Rossi’s sister, signalling that the first part of their plan was under way and that the New York police were at that very moment raiding Frank’s club for illegal booze. Frank would be occupied for the rest of the evening, handing out bribes or answering questions, depending on which sergeant was on duty that night.

She hung up and hurried to her bedroom. Too scared to keep a packed bag in the apartment in case Frank discovered it, now she stuffed into a suitcase whatever clothes and belongings came to hand.

She’d had so little time to plan. After his trip to Los Angeles spent trying to drum up backing for her next talkie Frank had returned to New York an unhappy man. So, very soon, Matty Gilbie had become an unhappy woman. There was no reason he should blame her for the studio’s cold feet, but he did. In the new film Matty was to play an Amy Johnson type heroine, a singing aviatrix who flies half way round the world to find love: Frank had pitched it to the studio bosses with the byline The Cockney Canary Flies!

She would be flying all right, but not in a film. Her flight was as real as her terror of Frank and if she didn’t go tonight, she knew she would never escape him. She quickly checked the cash in her purse, it would have to do. She’d squirrelled away as much of her money as she could, but Frank was as intimate with her bank account as he was with her, and he had been emptying it at an alarming rate trying to get the new film made.

Maria was a good woman; she’d come up with the plan and booked Matty’s passage. After a lifetime with Frank, Maria understood just how necessary it was for Matty to get as far away from him as possible. Matty only wished she’d taken notice of Maria’s veiled warnings about her brother earlier. At first she had thought him as loving as the rest of his warm-hearted, Italian clan – they’d reminded her of a Bermondsey family and it made her feel at home. But she’d discovered Frank’s love flowed only as long as his every whim was pandered to. He expected to get his way and when he didn’t there were always consequences.

She shoved the suitcase lid shut and winced as pain shot through her – just one of the ‘consequences’ of Frank’s displeasure. She put a hand to her side, probing the sore places around her ribs and stomach. She bit her lip and, fumbling with the suitcase catch, she forced herself to breathe deeply in spite of the discomfort. In and out, each breath like the slice of a knife, once, twice… Her singing training had taught her the importance of the breath. For her voice it had always produced strength, power, grace – but now she would use it to steady her nerves and gain her freedom. She breathed deeply a third time, and felt the pain ease a little. She took one last look round the bedroom, grabbed her passport, tickets, money, and flew.

The apartment was in a canyon of buildings she’d always hated. Now, in the darkness, they were like towering fortress walls, hemming her in. Rain sheeted down as she scanned the canyon for a yellow cab, traffic swished along, sending up sprays of rainwater, soaking her feet. She looked desperately from right to left, willing a cab to appear. Her heart hammered out the seconds as car after car passed; in desperation she hoisted up the heavy suitcase and began walking. A man turned the corner and came towards her, a black fedora pulled low over his face, rainwater dripping from the brim. She froze, sure it was Frank’s bodyguard, and almost turned to run. But she forced herself to think. Why would he be here? Frank would need him at the club tonight. The man lifted his head and gave her a cursory look as he passed, then hurried on. Just then a cab came into view and she waved frantically at it. The gutters were streaming and she slid on the slick, inky sidewalk as the cab drew up. Stumbling forward, she reached out to the cab roof to steady herself.

‘Careful, lady! Where to?’ the cab driver asked.

‘Harbour, quick as you can.’

‘Sure, hop in.’

She fell gratefully into the dry interior, ignoring the pain stabbing her ribs, she heaved her case inside, slammed the door and the cab moved off. She stared out of melting windows and with the windscreen wipers racing she saw her old life being washed away. Leaning her head against the dark streaming glass, she was shocked at her own reflection – it was the face of a stranger, rigid with fear. In the deluge it felt she might already be on board ship, sailing on a torrential stream down towards the harbour, across the Atlantic Ocean and home. She gripped her suitcase, ready to leap from the cab as soon as it stopped, and prayed silently for a way to open up whenever cars or traffic lights halted their progress. She willed herself not to look back. If he was following, then it was better she didn’t know.

Matty woke to an unsettling watery world. The rocking waves had not lulled her to sleep during her first night at sea; instead they had intensified the nausea she’d been suffering during the past few weeks in New York. Her cabin was cramped and deep in the bowels of the ship, but at least she had it to herself. She’d tossed and turned for what remained of the night, imagining Frank’s reaction to her desertion. She only hoped poor Maria could remain strong enough to play the innocent, for if Frank ever suspected she’d helped, he’d soon beat the truth out of her. Frank was not a man you walked out on, but if he simply assumed

she was fleeing another beating, perhaps there was the slim hope he might write her off as a failed business venture, lose interest and let her go. Maybe she was fooling herself, but she had to believe Maria hadn’t put herself in danger for no good reason.

As the ship came to life around her next morning, she stretched out her long limbs in the narrow bunk and allowed herself the stirrings of relief that she’d never have to see Frank again. She heard laughter coming from the corridor and recognized the voice of a cockney steward who’d directed her to the cabin in the early hours. He’d recognized her and asked for an autograph. Cabin doors banged and she heard passengers on their way to the dining room in search of breakfast. There would be no more sleep this morning. She propped herself up and let out a groan as her stomach heaved once more. Flinging aside the blanket, she was about to swing her legs out of the bunk when her attention was caught by two bright red spots on the sheet. Her heart paused between beats as she registered what they might mean. Pulling the blanket off the bed, she began frantically searching for other telltale stains. There were none and the cold fear which gripped her receded a little. Should she go to the ship’s doctor? But she wasn’t ready to face the inevitable frosty disapproval when he failed to see a wedding ring on her finger. Perhaps bleeding was normal at this stage. She wasn’t sure.

But when she stood up and felt a gush of warm water flood her thighs, she knew this was anything but normal. At only just over four months into her pregnancy, it was far too early for her waters to break. She stared at the pool of water at her feet and lowered herself slowly on to the bed. Bending forward, she cradled her stomach in a bid to keep her baby safe, just where it was. But as she felt the first sinister pull at her womb, hope drained from her and she let out a whimper. ‘No, no, no! Stay there, don’t come yet! It’s too soon,’ she pleaded with her unborn child.

The pains came on quickly, like waves of menstrual cramps, but deeper, stronger and more vicious. One after another they came, till she thought her body was being torn apart from the inside. Pain forced her to cry out, but she bit down hard on her own knuckles. She didn’t want to attract the attention of any passing steward or passenger. Matty gripped the bedsheet and yanked it taut, twisting it with every tearing spasm of her body, till it formed a rope she could stuff in her mouth to stifle her screams as the pain ripped through her again and again. There was no mistaking what was happening to her, and it filled her with a sickening dread. The contractions were crippling and close together. Another long scream escaped her gag, ending in a deep sob, for she knew that the baby, if it came now, could not possibly survive.

The sheet became sticky with her blood as she fought her own treacherous body’s instinct to push. She screamed against it and tore the bloody sheet, as life and death had their relentless way, finally forcing Matty to thrust the tiny baby from her body. She fell back on the bed in exhaustion, letting tears wash her cheeks. Instinctively she reached down and drew the baby up between her legs, to lie on her chest, wiping its fragile body with the sheet. Feeling its warmth against her, a surge of irrational hope forced Matty to sit up and look at her child. It was a girl.

She was flooded with love and grief. The tiny baby lay enfolded in the palm of her hand. She was a person, however small. The legs were drawn up and minute feet crossed each other at Matty’s wrist. Perfectly formed, the miniature hand rested on Matty’s fingernail. Five diminutive fingers, with delicate nails of their own, barely spanned the width of Matty’s finger and she felt them curl around it in a feather’s grip. She watched the little heart beating, caught in a miniscule ribcage, like a struggling bird. Translucent skin, un-resistant as air, gleamed as Matty traced the red filigree of veins, still pumping life into the small being. She cupped the tiny child with two hands now and raised her up, so that she could examine eyes, fast shut, and a mouth set in a serene smile.  Caressing the smooth head and cheek with her thumb, Matty watched as the heart slowed and finally ceased to beat.

A wave of sadness overwhelmed her. Her daughter’s eyes had never looked upon the world, nor on her mother’s face. She held the baby close to her breast, and whispered into the barely formed ear. ‘Goodnight, my angel. I love you.’ And as kind darkness closed over Matty, she clung to the hope that somehow her daughter had known how deeply she was loved.

The cockney steward had discovered her swaddled with her dead child in the bloody sheet. She didn’t remember how she’d got to the sick bay, but when she woke her baby had gone. The ship’s doctor came to attend to her physical healing, but there were no ministrations to her grief. She asked for her baby over and over again, and the doctor had to repeat several times that ‘the remains of her pregnancy’ had been removed. At first her griefnumbed mind would not allow her to understand that he was referring to her baby, but when she did, she wished she could scour the phrase from her memory. After he left she lay on the bed, burning with anger that her baby’s life seemed to have been so coldly dismissed simply because it had been so short. All she knew was that those few precious minutes with her tiny daughter had awoken a love stronger than she’d ever felt, and she was filled with gratitude for that brief life.

Bourbon Creams and Tattered Dreams by Mary Gibson

Handsome Frank Rossi took Matty Gilbie away from her working class roots in Bermondsey, East London and promised her fame and fortune. In America, the Cockney Canary would become a movie star. As his wife, she would be half of a power couple, fêted and adored by all. But the Wall Street Crash of 1929 puts paid to all that, and as Frank becomes more violent and unstable, Matty flees in the dead of night.

Once home in Bermondsey, she goes into hiding and starts desperately looking for work. But only Peak Freans, the hated biscuit factory, is hiring staff. Then, as a secret from her past comes back to haunt her, Matty learns that Frank is on the move, determined to find her and get her back.

BOOK REVIEW: Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

When I found out that Liane Moriarty had released another novel I was excited; I've been a fan since reading The Husband's Secret back in 2014, so was looking forward to Truly Madly Guilty.

The novel opens with well-known cellist Clementine presenting a talk at a local community centre. It's a talk about a significant day in her life, which started as any normal day. Clementine resides in suburban Sydney with husband Sam and their two young children. When they agree to meet up with Erica, Clementine's best friend since childhood, Clementine and Sam have no idea just what Erica and her husband Oliver are about to ask of them. Of her.

It's a life-changing question. And before Clementine fully has time to consider her answer, the two couples are invited to a barbecue by overly-friendly, outgoing neighbours Vid and Tiffany. A barbecue, during which something supposedly goes very wrong.

Now this sounds like a great premise, and the suspense in Liane Moriarty's novels is one of the reasons why I enjoy them so much. Truly Madly Guilty is full of suspense, which is why I'm trying not to give away too much of the plot (I hate spoilers with a passion.) However, the suspense and drama-filled hinting about what happened at the barbecue was, for me, this book's downfall.

The novel focuses on the three couples in the days leading up to the barbecue, which is the focal point of almost every chapter. The book provides a glimpse into the relationships of the three women and their husbands and friends; successful Erica, whose seemingly perfect life is not as complete as people think, leaving her forced to turn to Clementine for help. Creative Clementine, with her happy family, having had to play sister to Erica for most of her life. And Tiffany, wife of bright and loving Vid, with her slightly colourful past and the worry it's causing now that she's a wealthy suburban mother. All of the women are facing their own problems and insecurities, which are due to collide at the barbecue.

My main issue with this novel was that it focused so heavily on the events of the barbecue, that when the incident finally occurred, it was nowhere near as shocking as the build-up throughout the book made it out to be. I was expecting a vastly dramatic event so life-changing for all three couples that there would be no going back from it. Admittedly I felt a bit cheated, as though I had potentially missed something. It was disappointing, mainly because Truly Madly Guilty would have been a great read without the promise of a huge event (which, sadly, didn't arrive). I enjoyed delving into the lives of the three families, with their emotions, secrets and personal struggles. For example, I was particularly interested in the relationship between Erica and Clementine, how they were as children, and how their somewhat forced friendship led Clementine to her own self-doubt, and fear of being seen as selfish. I loved that part of the book, and Tiffany's story also kept me reading.

Though the premise of Truly Madly Guilty kept me hooked, this novel was spoiled a bit for me by the barbecue issue/supposed 'event'. If you're expecting a huge twist in this book then you may well be disappointed. However, it was still quite enjoyable and as a fan of Liane's other works, I won't let this deter me from reading her future releases.

Rating: 3/5

Thank you to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

UNCOVERED PICKS: Five New Thrillers

For those who favour a gripping read, here are five of this month's new thrillers, including novels from Catherine Ryan Howard and Follow Me author Angela Clarke.

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard
Did she leave, or was she taken?

The day Adam Dunne's girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads 'I'm sorry - S' sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate - and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before. To get the answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground...

The Trap by Melanie Raabe
I know you killed my sister.

I wrote this novel for you.

Twelve years ago, Linda's sister Anna was murdered. Her killer was never caught, but Linda saw him. Now, all these years on, she's just seen him again. On TV.

He has since become a well-known reporter, and Linda - a famous novelist and infamous recluse - knows no one will believe her if she accuses him, so she does the only thing she can think of: she writes a thriller about a woman who is murdered, her killer never caught. When the book is published, she agrees to give just one media interview. At home. To the one person who knows more about the case than she does.

He knows what happened that night and she wrote a book about it but, when the doorbell rings, neither of them can be sure how the story will end.

Little Girl Lost by Carol Wyer
Her breath rose and fell in fearful gasps but it was too late. She could already see what she dreaded most. The back seat was empty. 

Her little girl was gone.

Abigail lives the perfect life with her doting husband and adorable baby Izzy. But someone knows a secret about Abigail and they want the truth to be told.

When Izzy is snatched from a carpark, it becomes as case for Detective Robyn Carter. Someone has been sending threatening messages to Abigail from an anonymous number. What is Abigail hiding? 
Roby’s instincts tell her there’s a connection between Izzy’s abduction and two murders she is investigating. But the last time she acted on impulse her fiancé was killed. To break this case and earn her place back on the force, she must learn to trust herself again – and fast. Robyn is on the hunt for a ruthless serial killer. And unless she gets to the twisted individual in time a little girl will die...

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
'My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.'

Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder. However, needs must - because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants ...

Watch Me by Angela Clarke

The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.

This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.

DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.



BOOK REVIEW: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

I'm a huge fan of Sophie Kinsella. Okay, so I might have fallen out of love with the Shopaholic series after the last couple of books, but Sophie's standalone novels have always been brilliant reads. In fact, Twenties Girl is one of my all-time favourite chick-lit reads. Aside from the bestselling Shopaholic series, Sophie's books include The Undomestic Goddess, Can You Keep a Secret?, YA novel Finding Audrey and now, My Not So Perfect Life.

Katie Brenner is living the London life. She's given herself a new, chic nickname (Cat) and bagged herself a fab office job in marketing. She's stylish, eats out at great places and has a bunch of equally glam city friends. Basically, she's living the dream.

Except she's not. Despite the photos she's always sharing on Instagram, Katie is poor, is undermined by her boss who's impossible to please, lives in a flatshare, and doesn't have that many friends. In fact, Katie is totally faking it. Having always dreamed of moving to London from her rural home in Somerset, Katie is finally in the city she loves and is determined to stay there. Even if it DOES mean hiding her country-girl roots from her posh colleagues.

Though things begin to look up when she meets handsome, fun Alex. Not even a humiliating encounter with bitchy boss Demeter can burst her happy bubble. Or can it?

Just after finding out who Alex really is, Katie is fired from her job without warning, effective immediately. With no job and little cash, Katie makes a decision she really doesn't want to make...to head back to Ansters Farm in Somerset to assist her dad in setting up his latest money-making idea - a trendy new 'glamping' site. Katie's plan is to help until she lands herself a new job, then return to the big city to resume normal life.

That is, until Demeter turns up at Ansters Farm for a family holiday.

When Demeter doesn't even recognise Katie as the junior she recently fired, Katie's angry - and she's not about to pass up the opportunity to get her own back on her awful former boss, with some hilarious results. However, it soon becomes apparent that Katie's not the only one guilty of faking a perfect life in London.

My Not So Perfect Life is a wonderful read. As expected, Sophie Kinsella delivered her perfect combination for a great romantic comedy: witty writing, fun characters and amusing scenarios. Even though Katie is particularly silly at times, she's fun, relatable and easy to warm to. I loved her family too (her dad especially!) and admired Katie's determination throughout the book. Over the years there have been plenty of novels with the 'country girl moves to the big city' theme (it was highly popular at one time), and even though I expected this book to be similar, the ending surprised me.

I guess a lot of us can be guilty of wanting more out of life, or coveting a lifestyle we think is better or more glamorous. Social media, Instagram especially, allows people to display the life they want to the world, if they choose to. This was something I enjoyed about this book; the role that social media plays in Katie's life, as she tries to 'design' what she thinks that she needs to have.

Yet again Sophie Kinsella has penned another wonderful read. If you're looking for something funny, romantic, a little bit silly and heartwarming, then My Not So Perfect Life is...well, perfect.

Rating: 5/5

Thank you to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

BOOK REVIEW: The Gift by Louise Jensen

The Gift is the new novel by Louise Jensen, author of The Sister. Even though I have yet to read The Sister, I've heard very good things about it, so I'll definitely be picking it up soon. I felt drawn to The Gift, particularly due to its rather interesting premise.

Jenna's life is changed when, after an illness, she has to undergo a heart transplant. Now recovered and facing many more years of life, rather than feeling lucky about her situation, Jenna is unable to shake off the guilt she feels. Guilt that she is only still alive because someone else is dead.

Worse still, Jenna has been experiencing strange dreams and thoughts since her operation - thoughts that don't seem to belong to her. And since leaving long-term boyfriend Sam, it's proving difficult for Jenna to share her worries. The dreams won't stop, leading her to believe that this isn't simply a coincidence.

Despite the warnings of both her therapist and best friend, Jenna tracks down the family of her donor. Her heart, she soon discovers, had belonged to Callie, a young woman who died in a car crash. Even though the investigation was closed, with Callie's death ruled as accidental, there are still some unanswered questions about what happened. Why was Callie driving in that particular area? Was her boyfriend involved? When Callie's distraught father admits that the uncertainty keeps him awake at night, Jenna decides to investigate the case herself.

Feeling as though Callie's heart is attempting to give her answers, Jenna sets out to solve the mystery surrounding her donor's death and finally bring closure to her family. The strange dreams that Jenna experiences provide clues to Callie's life - people, places, glimpses into her final days. Jenna is even starting to like foods that she didn't like before; foods which Callie loved.

Jenna researches the odd goings-on, leading her to discover the theory of Cellular Memory - a hypothesis that memories can be stored in cells. By inheriting Callie's heart, has Jenna taken on a part of Callie herself?

Whilst her therapist and friends are concerned about her new 'obsession', Jenna is getting ever closer to working out what happened on the night of Callie's death. She even tracks down and befriends Callie's boyfriend Nathan after her suspicions grow, but can he really be responsible? Meanwhile, as Jenna focuses her efforts on Callie, other aspects of her life are starting to become difficult. There's her relationship with Sam, and the job as a veterinary nurse which she once loved. Her constant mistakes are driving her to believe that returning to work so soon was a bad choice. As Jenna learns more about her donor's life, her own is falling by the wayside.

But she has to find out what happened - and figure out what Callie is trying to tell her.

The Gift is an addictive, fast-paced read. It was impossible to put down. I enjoy thrillers and had expected to be taken with this one, but it was much more gripping than I had envisioned. I personally loved the concept of Cellular Memory in The Gift, which was such an original premise. It gave the novel a slightly supernatural feel, which I loved. There were various possibilities when it came to Callie's death, and plenty of ways to keep the reader guessing, but I thought the outcome was unpredictable. Obviously I don't want to give spoilers here, but I felt that the ending was perfectly written. Nothing was left out, nothing left me disappointed (something I've experienced with a few thrillers recently.)

Great pacing, well-developed characters and an original plot make The Gift a fantastic thriller. Louise Jensen is a very talented writer, and I'm looking forward to reading her future releases as well as The Sister.

Rating: 5/5

COMING SOON: The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond

The House of New Beginnings is the new novel from Lucy Diamond (author of Sweet Temptation, The Year of Taking Chances and The Secrets of Happiness), and will be released on January 26th...

Number 11, Dukes Square, looks just like the other houses on the Brighton seafront: a Regency terrace with elegant sash windows, a winding staircase, and post piled up in the hall for its tenants. It might be part of the city's history, but it's also a place of brand new beginnings.

Georgie has followed her childhood sweetheart to Brighton but is determined to carve out a career for herself in journalism. Throwing herself into the city's delights is fun and exciting, but before she knows it, she's sliding into all kinds of trouble...

Charlotte's in the city for a new start, hoping to keep her head down and somehow get over the heartbreaking loss she's suffered in the past. But Margot, the stylish old lady on the top floor, has other ideas. Like it or not, Charlotte must confront the outside world, and the possibilities it still holds.

A terrible revelation sent Rosa running from London to start again as a sous chef. The work is gruelling and thankless but it's a distraction at least . . . until she comes up against the stroppy teenager next door who challenges her on her lifestyle choices. What if Rosa's passion for food could lead her to more interesting places?

As the three tenants find each other, it's as if a whole new chapter of their lives has begun.

BOOK NEWS: Laura Lake and the Case of the Hipster Weddings by Wendy Holden

Wendy Holden, whose many novels include Honeymoon Suite, Marrying Up and Filthy Rich, is returning this year with a brand new series about a journalist called Laura Lake. The first book in the series, Laura Lake and the Case of the Hipster Weddings, will be published in March.

Laura Lake longs to be a journalist. Now she’s an unpaid intern at a glossy magazine – sleeping in the fashion cupboard and living on canapés. And she’s just got her first big break: infiltrate three society weddings and write a juicy exposé.

Security will be tighter than a Kardashian pencil skirt, but how hard can it be? She’ll don a ball-gown for the aristocrats, a festival headdress for the artisan jewellery makers, and a glitter moustache for the Shoreditch hipsters. But Laura hasn’t prepared for disappearing brides and secret royal orgies. Or the fact that her jealous office enemy will do anything to bring her down... 

BOOK REVIEW: I'm Not Her by Cara Sue Achterberg

Sometimes it's all too easy to say 'if I were you...'. Many of us are guilty of making assumptions about the lives of others, even strangers. In I'm Not Her by Cara Sue Achterberg, an accident causes two very different women to swap bodies.

A bit like Freaky Friday, you might think. Well, kind of. But this novel is less of a comedic, feel-good tale. Instead, it's gripping. At times heartbreaking.

Despite Carin Fletcher and Leann Cane seeing each other regularly at the supermarket, to one another they are strangers. To Carin, Leann is the slovenly, obese checkout girl, and to Leann, Carin is obnoxious. However, after an accident at the Shop N Save, the pair wake up to find that not only have they somehow swapped bodies, they've effectively swapped lives.

Before the accident, Carin had the life most young women dream of. A college degree, a good job, a nice apartment, a caring handsome boyfriend and an enviable, gorgeous body. Healthy, pretty and perhaps a little self-absorbed. Carin is beautiful - something which Leann has never felt. That is, until she sees herself as Carin.

Meanwhile, Carin is discovering that Leann's life is way more troubling that she had ever envisioned. Not only is Leann terribly unhealthy and overweight, she is also extremely poor, with an abusive boyfriend who, thankfully, is rarely at the tiny, scarcely-furnished apartment she calls home. It's clear that Leroy is up to no good, but just what is he hiding?

To Carin's surprise, Leann has a young son, Trevor, who seems to be the only positive thing in Leann's life. Other than that, she is penniless, unattractive and trapped.

As Leann remains in Carin's body, her only downside being Carin's overly-concerned and protective mother and boyfriend who are trying to work through the sudden change in behaviour, Carin is working Leann's low-paid job, trying to get used to her large frame and lack of fitness, and having to deal with abuse on a daily basis. Not just from Leann's mother, Leroy and her teenage babysitter, but the stares and silent judgement of others. The stares that Carin herself would give, wondering how this woman could allow herself to be that big, so unconcerned about her appearance. Just hours into being Leann and it's all starting to make sense.

Understandably, Leann doesn't want her own life back, although she misses Trevor. And with both women unsure of whether they'll ever be back in their own bodies, it's time for them to face the possibility that the change could be permanent.

Carin is determined to get Leann out of her terrible home life - not just for her, but for Trevor. Before it's too late.

Cara Sue Achterberg brings forward an exciting concept and explores it perfectly in I'm Not Her. The two women are so different, living in what feels like different worlds; Carin pretty and privileged, Leann living in poverty, assuming that her life and the regular put-downs she receives from family and co-workers are simply normal. The novel is narrated by both characters, although the majority of the book focuses on Carin as she navigates life as Leann, a woman she once pitied as she worked behind the checkout.

I don't want to give too much away, but this novel is addictive, sad, and wonderful at the same time. It makes you think, makes you wonder about those around you. I warmed to Carin early on in the book as her initial selfishess turned to realisation, and hard work. I found it difficult to like Leann, though it was obvious that her ways were not truly her fault. Towards the end of the novel I became a little more fond of her.

I saw this title on Netgalley and was curious; let's face it, what would you do if you woke up in someone else's body? I had a feeling I would like this book, but it was a lot more interesting than I thought, and I couldn't put it down. It's a brilliant novel.

Rating: 5/5

UNCOVERED PICKS - New Year, New Reads! Five January Releases

Hi all! It's a brand new year and Chick Lit Uncovered is back. I always like to kick off a new month with a selection of new and upcoming reads, but before I do, I'd like to wish everyone a super happy new year! Here's hoping 2017 will be fantastic for everyone. It's certainly looking exciting in terms of books!

Here are five new women's' fiction novels that'll be heading our way this month.

Whatever Happened to Vicky Hope's Back-Up Man? by Laura Kemp
Twenty-one and insecure, Vicky Hope comes up with a plan on the eve of travelling the world with her high flying friend, Kat Lloyd: if she isn't married by the time she's thirty, she'll marry her geeky best mate Mikey Murphy.

Fast-forward eight-and-a-bit years, Vicky, now Vee wakes up on her thirtieth birthday in Brighton, expecting a proposal of marriage from her arty boyfriend Jez. Instead he tells her their relationship is over and she has no choice but to return to her parents' home.

Devastated and alone in her childhood bedroom, she decides she has nothing to lose and tracks down her two old mates. With shock, she discovers Mikey, now Murphy, is a successful app designer driven by his tragic upbringing. Kat, or Kate, never made it – but she hides a devastating secret, which threatens the happiness of all three.

The Good Girlfriend's Guide to Getting Even by Anna Bell
When Lexi's sport-mad boyfriend Will skips her friend's wedding to watch football - after pretending to have food poisoning - it might just be the final whistle for their relationship.

But fed up of just getting mad, Lexi decides to even the score. And, when a couple of lost tickets and an 'accidentally' broken television lead to them spending extra time together, she's delighted to realise that revenge might be the best thing that's happened to their relationship.

And if her clever acts of sabotage prove to be a popular subject for her blog, what harm can that do? It's not as if he'll ever find out...

New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan
Meet Molly

New York’s most famous agony aunt, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they’re other people’s. The only love of her life is her Dalmatian, Valentine.

Meet Daniel

A cynical divorce lawyer, he’s hardwired to think relationships are a bad idea. If you don’t get involved, no-one can get hurt. But then he finds himself borrowing a dog to meet the gorgeous woman he sees running in Central Park every morning…

Molly and Daniel think they know everything there is to know about relationships…until they meet each other that is…

White Lies and Wishes by Cathy Bramley
Flirtatious, straight-talking Jo Gold says she’s got no time for love; she’s determined to save her family’s failing footwear business. 

New mother Sarah Hudson has cut short her maternity leave to return to work. She says she’ll do whatever it takes to make partner at the accountancy firm. 

Bored, over-eating housewife Carrie Radley says she just wants to shift the pounds – she’d love to finally wear a bikini in public.

The unlikely trio meet by chance one winter’s day, and in a moment of ‘Carpe Diem’ madness, embark on a mission to make their wishes come true by September. 

Easy. At least it would be, if they hadn’t been just the teensiest bit stingy with the truth…

With hidden issues, hidden talents, and hidden demons to overcome, new friends Jo, Carrie and Sarah must admit to what they really, really want, if they are ever to get their happy endings.

Almost a Bride by Jo Watson
That moment you catch your boyfriend in bed with another woman and then mistakenly get arrested. #awks

Annie doesn't want to dwell on the fact that she walked in on her bf wearing nipple clamps on the day he was meant to propose to her. She just wants to move on - cue escaping to a tropical paradise.

Life is dreamy on the beaches of Mauritius, until the nightmarish appearance of her ex and the 'other woman'. Faced with the enemy, Annie refuses to look like the sad, lonely single she actually is. She needs a decoy - and fast. Enter Chris, a sexy screenwriter who agrees to play her pretend boyfriend.

But as a battle of the exes commences, the white sand, tropical heat and a pina colada (or five) might just be the cocktail for a real romance - and the adventure of a lifetime.